Links 10/17/2022

Lambert and I, and many readers, agree that Ukraine has prompted the worst informational environment ever. We hope readers will collaborate in mitigating the fog of war — both real fog and stage fog — in comments. None of us need more cheerleading and link-free repetition of memes; there are platforms for that. Low-value, link-free pom pom-wavers will be summarily whacked.

And for those who are new here, this is not a mere polite request. We have written site Policies and those who comment have accepted those terms. To prevent having to resort to the nuclear option of shutting comments down entirely until more sanity prevails, as we did during the 2015 Greek bailout negotiations and shortly after the 2020 election, we are going to be ruthless about moderating and blacklisting offenders.


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The boab trees of the remote Tanami desert are carved with centuries of Indigenous history – and they’re under threat The Conversation

Latest US inflation data raises questions about Fed’s interest rate hikes Guardian

The Geopolitics of Stuff (discussion) Kate Mackenzie, Tim Sahay, Thea Riofrancos, Skanda Amarnath, and Joe Weisenthal Phenomenal World


Australia has hundreds of mammal species. We want to find them all – before they’re gone The Conversation

Ever more land and labour Aeon


As Himalayan Glaciers Melt, a Water Crisis Looms in South Asia Environment360

California Drought Leaving Rice Farmers Dry WSJ


It’s time to redouble and refocus our efforts to fight covid, not retreat BMJ. “Yet pandemics do not end with a flip of a switch. Despite the widespread belief that the pandemic is over, death and disruption continue. As Americans embrace what McKinsey and Company has called ‘individual endemicity’—in which people let their risk tolerance dictate the preventive measures they take—transmission rates remain at dangerous levels in nearly every county of the US.” Given the reality of superspreading, vaccine escape, and Long Covid, “individual endemicity” is like letting a small group of arsonists write the firecode, good job McKinsey.

Without a nasal vaccine, the U.S. edge in fighting Covid is on the line Politico. Edge? What edge? “‘Why in the world do you think that if you [spray] a vaccine up the nose … you can do any better?’ [William Haseltine, a former professor at Harvard Medical School with expertise in HIV/AIDS and genomics] asked POLITICO.” Even I know the answers: Because the nasal sprays 1) activate mucosal immunity, which Pfizer and Moderna’s intramuscular meal tickets ka-ching do not do; and 2) the virus propagates initially in the nose, so kill it there, before it spreads to the rest of the body. Perhaps I’m too hopeful; I don’t want anybody to believe in panaceas as oppposed to a layered approach. But it’s beyond surreal that we aren’t taking testing and development of this technology seriously. Even if we do live in a Third World country, we should be able to do this. (We are also giving anti-nasal vaccine narratives time to take root, which will wreck uptake even if they do work. Haseltine’s quote is a fine example of this.)

A randomized, placebo-controlled trial of a nasal spray solution containing broadly potent neutralizing antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 variants in healthy volunteers (preprint) medRxiv. From the Discussion: “COVITRAP™ is a medical device innovated to support mucosal immunity via a dual mechanism of action in which a broadly potent neutralizing human IgG1 anti-SARS-CoV-2 monoclonal antibody cocktail produces inhibitory effects against multiple variants of concern (VOCs) in nasal fluid, and a steric barrier-forming agent, HPMC, fortifies the mucus layer. COVITRAP™ exhibited broadly neutralizing activities against SARS-CoV-2 pseudoviruses of Ancestral, Alpha, Delta, Omicron BA.1, Omicron BA.2, Omicron BA.4/5, and Omicron BA.2.75 variants. The preclinical studies following the ISO 10993 standards of medical devices showed good biocompatibility based on cytotoxicity, skin sensitization, and intracutaneous reactivity evaluations as well as satisfactory safety profiles by both acute and subacute systemic toxicity investigations.” Not a silver bullet, what with thrice-daily administration. That said, the institutions are reputable. A smallish Southeast Asian country was able to develop this technology, secure approval, produce, and bring it to market while we in the rich West sat on our pasty white fundaments and, to put it politely, twiddle our fingers. Ye Gods! (Now that I’ve got that off my chest, Brain Trust attention would be welcome….)


WATCH LIVE: 20th Communist party congress South China Morning Post

Do Chinese People Like Xi Jinping? You Won’t Find an Easy Answer Online WSJ

Math that supports Zero Covid:

As has happened in the West, where capital decided non-pharmaceutical interventions were bad for business, whipped workers (and school children) back into unsafe spaces, and then stood aghast at the entirely predictable result: a labor shortage.

The national centralized procurement of proprietary Chinese medicines is coming, and the traditional Chinese medicine industry is facing a reshuffle What China Reads


India’s largest private lender HDFC Bank reports profit up 20% Reuters

Meta Said Damaging Internal Email is ‘Fake’, URL ‘Not in Use’, Here’s Evidence They’re Wrong The Wire. Multipolarity has many facets.

Australia is now living with COVID-19, but in aged care, thousands are dying with it ABC Australia. Everything’s going according to plan.


Egypt temporarily bans hugely popular ‘mahraganat’ singers Agence France Presse

Behind The Iranian Riots Moon of Alabama. I do tend to be suspicions of video-fueled narratives that cause PMC knees to jerk, especially when their correspondence to Administrative geopolitical objectives is overly neat and too well-timed.

Imran Khan Wins Majority of Seats in Pakistan’s By-Elections Bloomberg

Dear Old Blighty

‘We’ve messed this up’: Tories plan for life after Liz Truss FT. Tory clang birds:

The wasteland of British politics M. K. Bhadrakumar, Indian Punchline

European Disunion

Germany’s Apokalypse Now The Tablet

EDF says strike hits a third of French nuclear plants, delaying maintenance work Reuters

New Not-So-Cold War

Chinese nationals in Ukraine sign up for evacuation after call from FM Global Times. What do they know we don’t?

Ukraine war: Kyiv attacked by kamikaze drones, say officials BBC. Big if true:

Kyiv’s housing stock of apartment blocks (mostly “Khrushchyovkas”) uses “district heating” (one of the largest such systems in the world).

A war Russia set to win M. K. Bhadrakumar, The Tribune

Normalizing fascism:

Massaaro is a Senior Policy Advisor for the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (“Helsinki Commission”). On corruption, making his Azov connections very natural, so move along, move along, there’s no story here.

Jair Bolsonaro attacks Lula on corruption in first head-to-head debate FT

Washington, Guaidó and the Billion-Dollar Circus Venezuelanalysis

Biden Administration

Biden’s phantom tech cold war Protocol

Biden’s Marijuana Power Grab The American Conversation


I am being kind, and putting “AI” under “Tech” instead of under “The Bezzle.”

Unpacking the Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights Tech Policy Press

The Exploited Labor Behind Artificial Intelligence Noema

AI Steve Jobs interviewed by AI Joe Rogan The Big Picture. The powers-that-be are pushing AI even more than they’re pushing eating bugs (by which I mean you should eat bugs).


Toilet Paper Is Going to Get Costlier. Blame Russia Bloomberg. Go long bidets and bumguns. They’re better anyhow.

Supply Chain

Latest supply chain crisis could threaten global stash of food, energy FreightWaves. The deck: “You should keep a close eye on barges.”

L’Affaire Joffrey Epstein

From Florida prison where she is serving 20 years, sex trafficker Ghislaine Maxwell, 60, pays tribute to her ‘dear friend’ Prince Andrew and breaks silence on whether she expects to hear from him again, jail plots to KILL her and claims THAT photo is fake Daily Mail

Sports Desk

Well, the game needs fresh blood:

Zeitgeist Watch

On the Loony Van Gogh Protests Matt Taibbi, TK News:

Van Gogh was penniless and lonely and mentally ill and spent his most productive years living in a space smaller than a jail cell, yet he converted his private pain into works of indescribable beauty that touched millions long after he died. The power of art usually has little connection to politics and everything to do with enhancing the individual’s ability to appreciate life and be sensitive to its possibilities. Any person moved by a painting or a book or poem should feel an enhanced connection to the world and a horror of destroying life of any kind. Art is the defense against reaction, not the accomplice of it, and destroying or demeaning art isn’t progressive, it’s just madness. If more oil executives saw and understood “The Sunflower” there would be less pollution, but even corporate greed is less frightening than zealotry. You can buy off an executive, but people who’ll not only wreck things for free but do so with excitement and a sense of pride make for a much harder problem to solve.

On the other hand:

On the Alex Jones Verdict: The Very, Very Lucrative World of Lying Zeynep Tufecki, Insight

Imperial Collapse Watch

In Buenos Aires, a city riven by economic and political turmoil, the subway shows up every three minutes. Yeah, that’s different from Boston. Boston Globe

Class Warfare

Rent Going Up? One Company’s Algorithm Could Be Why. ProPublica

June Homes ‘Reinvents’ Having a Roommate and It Sounds Less Than Ideal Hellgate

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Column: How did America get addicted to a policy that fails everyone but the rich? Micheal Hiltzik. Los Angeles Times. “There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.” –Warren “Kindly Grandpa” Buffet. On more or less the same topic–

A Brief History of How We Got Here and Why (video) Mark Blyth, YouTube. From 2019, when Yves hoisted and posted on it. Worth a listen today:

Blyth’s periodization, at least, certainly rings true.

The caste struggle for human equality has come to America The Christian Post

Bankruptcy protects fake people, brutalizes real ones Cory Doctorow

Tech CEO calls overemployment trend a ‘new form of theft and deception’ after firing two engineers secretly working multiple full-time jobs at once Business Insider

Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. Sibiryak

    Russia threatens to use nukes They won’t shut up about them and go on about them every single damn day.” —The Rev Kev

    Why are they doing this? I can think of multiple reasons:

    Control the narrative

    –Distract from the other things Putin spoke about, e.g., the West’s neocolonialism etc.
    –Distract from Ukrainian military setbacks.
    –Reinforce the “Putin is evil and irrational ” talking point.
    –Reinforce the “Russia is losing ” talking point: Putin has been humiliated; he’s backed into a corner; he’s desperate–that’s why he’s threatening to use nukes.

    Set the stage for NATO intervention if and when Russia makes big gains:

    –Putin is evil madman who could destroy the world, therefore he can’t be allowed to win.
    –Prepare a false flag WMD incident (chemical, biological or nuclear)

    It’s important, however, to note that the “Putin might use nukes ” hysteria is being used by people on the both the “antiwar” progressive left and populist right (e.g. Tucker Carlson, Tulsi Gabbard) to argue for negotiations instead of endless escalation.

    The same line has been cropping up in Europe as well. For example, Former Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz recently argued that, “in the face of the nuclear threat, the EU must press ahead with the path of negotiation.

      1. Janie

        It’s in German. Old joke follows.

        What do you call someone who speaks three languages? Trilingual.
        Yes, and what do you call someone who speaks two languages? Bilingual.
        What about one language? Monolingual.
        Nope, we usually call them Americans.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      “Why are they doing this?”

      Possibly because “they” realize that stoking irrational fear of an existential threat is essential to the extra-constitutional, un-“democratic” control “they” are struggling so mightily to exert over an increasingly discontented, rebellious populous.

      And the covid “threat” has run its course.

      1. ambrit

        Covid is just the latest item in the list of “Gifts That Keep On Giving.” I assume your last sentence was offered as ‘snark.’
        Let’s see how America deals with the coming Winter coupled with several “new” variants of the Coronavirus. One of said variants seems to have ‘learned’ to evade all presently known pharmaceutical ‘treatments.’
        Olde Tyme Plagues generally ran in multi-year cycles. Today’s Coronavirus is just getting started, historically speaking.

        1. Norge

          I believe that KE is suggesting that, since the government has told us that the epidemic is over, a new narrative is required to justify repression of the citizenry. She isn’t suggesting that the actual Coronavirus problem has gone away.

      2. ArvidMartensen

        You need people to be so afraid of Russians and Chinese that they don’t see that the ordinary people in Russia and China live better lives than the ordinary people in the USA.

    2. nippersdad

      My nomination for the most insane “analysis” story of the morning. This appears to tick all of your boxes.

      But then one looks into the person who wrote it and all becomes clear.

      “Lili earned a master’s degree in Russian and East European Studies from the University of Oxford and a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service. She grew up in Israel and the United States.”

      Because, of course she did. It is almost like that is where the pods take over the bodies of young people when no one is looking, but there are so many of them coming out of those schools that one need only know where they came from to know they are aliens.

      1. Sibiryak

        Thanks for that “insane analysis” story! The author certainly does have an entertaining writing style. More importantly, she managed to assemble an absolutely stellar group of sources with a very deep understanding of Russian politics:

        –Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary-General

        –Ben Hodges, former commander of U.S. Army Europe

        –William Alberque, a former director of NATO’s arms control center, now a director at the International Institute for Strategic Studies

        –Alexander Vershbow, a former senior U.S. and NATO official s and former American ambassador to Russia

        –A senior EU diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity

        –Mariusz Błaszczak, Polish Minister for National Defense

        –Jānis Garisons, a Latvian state secretary

        –Jan Lipavský, Czech Foreign Minister

        1. nippersdad

          The funny part is how, in a strange attempt to add some sense of even handed reportage, point for point she appends in rhetorical fine print that no one really believes her scenarios will actually happen.

          That was just bizarre.

      2. Parker Dooley

        I recall a quote referring to Georgetown As a “reptile nursery.” In connection with Jeane Kirkpatrick, I think.

  2. SocalJimObjects

    Indonesia and recent Covid vaccines:
    – mRNA vaccine: The tech came from China, but a local company is doing the manufacturing.
    – Protein subunit vaccine (like Novavax): Inavac. This came out of a collaboration between a local company (PT BioFarma) and Baylor College of Medicine.
    – Inactivated virus vaccine: IndoVac. Developed by local players, a company and a university.

    I will not be surprised if some company in Indonesia is currently working on a nasal vaccine as well, so watch this space ;)

  3. jackiebass63

    There are 3 things that limit world population growth. War, a lack of adequate food and disease.All are presently common on the planet. The world seems to not want to address any of these. The old saying the rich get richer and the poor get poorer is spot on. Man will eventually self destruct.

    1. The Rev Kev

      I might add a fourth factor and that is water. Without water, you have nothing. And to be pedantic, would food be actually a function of soil that is a capable of growing food in?

  4. deedee

    On the subject of lying liars and the lies they tell and fact-checking the lying liars.
    Good luck with that. Let me know how it turns out.
    Almost everyone I know thinks Russia is losing badly and Ukraine is winning bigly.
    Can the fact-checkers help us out with those lies?

    1. griffen

      Well they’re gonna need to be the right type of fact checkers, you know, the ones who decided the laptop issues of one Hunter Biden were of little consequence. Those same fact checkers had us convinced that Trump and Putin were BFF for life too. \sarc

      As I texted to a friend quite recently, life in America during 2022 is just great. The economy is great, sustained inflation is great, fomenting and encouraging for war and military spending is great, and nothing is going wrong.

      1. Polar Socialist

        “Fact checking” today means checking if the facts match the ongoing narrative; if not, the facts are wrong, not the narrative. In a post-truth world whether facts are true or not depends solely on the frame of reference used – and that can change within a news cycle.

        1. nippersdad

          “In a post-truth world whether facts are true or not depends solely on the frame of reference used – and that can change within a news cycle.”

          I thought it was absolutely wild how quickly “Nazis-are-a-problem-in-Ukraine” stories got deep sixed in favor of “What-Nazis-in-Ukraine?” Ro Khanna signs onto a bill that aims to prevent Nazis from being armed in Ukraine to “anyone who says there are Nazis in Ukraine are Russian assets”, in less than a year.

          I’m not sure I would want the kinds of constituents that would have such short attention spans. There has to be an ick factor to representing fruit flies, and I wonder if they feel it.

          1. The Rev Kev

            There was fair warning about this possibility happening-

            ‘The 76th session of the UN General Assembly last week adopted a resolution on “combating glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance”.’

            Only two countries voted against this – the US and the Ukraine – and it wasn’t the first time this happened at the UN-


            But even I was surprised to see Azov guys being met at Congress, giving fund-raising speeches at Stanford and seeing John Stewart give medals to Azov guys at Disneyland. It’s amazing this.

            1. nippersdad

              That they would lionize Nazis here was a true shocker for me, anyway. I was brought up with the notion that the only possible value they had was for target practice. If I had not figured it out long before, it really came home to me when Nancy was strutting around, bellowing out “Slava Ukrainie”, that I really wasn’t a “real Democrat” anymore. That party just needs to die go away.

              The whole thing is really quite shameful. And what kind of cognitive dissonance must these people endure? One could almost pity them were they not so repellent.

              1. digi_owl

                For the monied, nazis and fascism is preferable to the alternatives.

                In a sense, it is new age feudalism. But where one’s place in the hierarchy of lords is not based on blood or decree, but portfolio value.

                And if you look at US history, the likes of Henry Ford applauded Hitler.

                The years after WW1 are far more gray than Hollywood makes it seem.

                1. britzklieg

                  And Hitler returned the favor: ” His screeds against Jewish people became so well-known at home and abroad that he is the only American whom Adolf Hitler compliments by name in Mein Kampf.”

                  Adolf Hitler wrote, “only a single great man, Ford, [who], to [the Jews’] fury, still maintains full independence … [from] the controlling masters of the producers in a nation of one hundred and twenty millions.” Speaking in 1931 to a Detroit News reporter, Hitler said he regarded Ford as his “inspiration”, explaining his reason for keeping Ford’s life-size portrait next to his desk.[77] Steven Watts wrote that Hitler “revered” Ford, proclaiming that “I shall do my best to put his theories into practice in Germany”, and modeling the Volkswagen Beetle, the people’s car, on the Model T.'s_mental_collapse

                2. nippersdad

                  I am increasingly beginning to feel like we live in the years just prior to WWII. Will Nancy burn down the Bundestag?

                  Stay tuned.

              2. ArvidMartensen

                If you look at the history of eugenics, you can see that the roots of the Nazi ideology came from the US and exported to Germany. Interesting book about this, War Against the Weak by Edwin Black.
                After the Holocaust eugenics went underground in the US, but lately it’s out and proud. The attitudes towards the old dying of Covid in the US (wgaf) and China (zero Covid) is just another facet.

                1. jsn

                  In the introduction to his very self serving autobiography, Hjalmar Schact excuses his racism for the American audience by talking about his childhood, partially in the US, reading pulp Westerns.

                  Between Southern plantation slavery and the expropriation/genocide of native Americans, we did most of the innovation.

                  The Germans were better with chemicals, we’re proving now we haven’t lost our touch with infectious diseases.

    2. hunkerdown

      Neoliberal epistemology does not observe the fact-value distinction. Truth is whatever is doing numbers right now.

      v. intr. 2. a. Sports To block or impede an opposing player with the ball or puck, as in ice hockey.

    3. Katniss Everdeen

      I assume you’re referencing the Tufecki link. I thought the article was unimpressive and almost incoherent.

      While there can be no doubt that “lying” has become alarmingly endemic in the american “information” stream, I hardly think Jones’ grimly cartoonish Sandy Hook lie, used as it was to sell “fluoride-free toothpaste” and prepper gear and believed by virtually no one, is adequately illustrative of the problem, or worthy of a serious treatise on lying in america.

      jeezus h. christ. In just the last 20 years, wars have been started, countries destroyed and millions killed based on lies peddled by actually trusted sources. Economic lies like the benefits of deindustrialization and “healthcare” lies like the benefits of opioids have decimated large parts of this country and killed countless americans. And political lies like Russiagate and the supposed fakery of hunter’s laptop have destroyed whatever faith was left in the government of this country and even the power of its Constitution.

      There’s really no need to cite a 1915 silent film, hitler’s propagandist filmmaker or take a gratuitous dig at Fox news. Everybody’s doing it right here right now, with plenty of ends justifying the means language flying around.

      She’s right about one thing. All this lying is ripping america apart at the seams. Using alex jones as the poster boy just trivializes and, yes, politicizes the problem. There’s a genuine elephant in the american “information” room, but it’s got nothing to do with alex jones, billion dollar “settlement” notwithstanding.

      1. Milton

        Who’s lying did more harm: Alex Jones, Sandy Hook OR Judith Miller (NY Times), Iraq WMD? I think we know the answer.

  5. The Rev Kev

    “Chinese nationals in Ukraine sign up for evacuation after call from FM”

    Not just China. Alex Christoforou was talking about this for a few minutes on his last video and mentioned that other countries were telling their citizens to get out of the Ukraine like Egypt, some former Soviet republics and Serbia – all of which are friendly to Russia. You listen to the factors that he talks about and you can see that Russia is about to drop the hammer on the Ukraine. The west won’t negotiate and are already talking about rebuilding the Ukrainian army to attack Russia again in about ten years time after they have retrained and re-equipped with NATO equipment. Putin has now finally understood that the only solution to the Ukraine is a military one, whether he likes it or not. Zelensky should tell his staff in his Florida mansion to get things ready for he and his family. That is, unless he is already there and that was why all the green-screening that he has been doing- (17:04 mins) – at the 2:45 minute mark

      1. hunkerdown

        Alternative theory: “Sweating: Individuals who are high on cocaine will experience an increase in body temperature. This can lead to profuse sweating and even a fever in some cases.”

  6. zagonostra

    Julian Assange as modern day Thomas More

    I was thinking that the current political regime we live under functions somewhat similar to 16th century England. Henry the VIII wanted the Lord High Chancellor of England to bend his will to the King’s desire, when More stood fast, he martyred himself for a higher principle. The State want’s to control information, Wiki Leaks and Assange serve a higher purpose, freedom of expression and free speech.

    As back then, the masses are malleable, there is no effective minority to muster enough to dissent from the authority of the regime. Be it Biden or Trump, in the realm of the permanent state, those that hold the power their way. Thrasymachus was correct, justice is the rule of the powerful.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Mentioned a long time ago that I saw an old spy film where at the end, a KGB agent was talking to a CIA agent. The KGB agent was saying that the USSR was getting more and more free while the US was getting more and more authoritarian so that maybe they could meet in the middle one day. Looks like they met back in the 90s but just kept going to their own path so its hard to see now who is more free.

        1. Janie

          The 50s were good times for white Americans, hence a good part of maga’s appeal. Kids ran around all over the neighborhood, schools were safe and orderly, people left cars and even houses unlocked, you knew your neighbors, civic groups and churches had more participation, daddy made enough money to support the family…

          At least where I lived.

          1. Copeland

            FDR new deal policies still being in effect at the time often credited for at least some of these good times?

      2. nippersmom

        To the best of my knowledge, Russia does not have anything equivalent to McCarthyism, or to segregation

    1. Bruno

      “More stood fast, he martyred himself for a higher principle”
      What makes you think that making a foreign sovereign (the Pope) supreme
      over ones own (matrimonial) laws is a “high” (or any) principle?

      1. nippersdad

        Revisionist logic. One cannot make moral parallels outside of the norms at the time. Whatever one might think of the church during the late middle ages their views were the norm, and Henry’s power grab was viewed as apostasy by most of Europe, including England.

        The issue was not over matrimonial laws, per se, but over the vertical power structure that gave legitimacy, and thus power, to kings. Henry VIII ultimately won that fight, but only at the cost of a century of bloodshed which ended with the deposition of James II.

        Viewing history within its’ context is a principle unto itself, and ignoring the effects of the Reformation on Western culture is a pretty big oversight.

        1. Bruno

          historical idealism. For a historical materialist, what counts are not ideological fantasies (“norms”) but material class interests. The 16th century Pope was just another gangster at the service of whoever was momentarily the most powerful european monarch. And Harry Lancaster, by the way, was at the time as opposed to Luther and the “reformers” as was any pope. More, an orthodox papist and violent persecutor of the reform, was “sainted” to serve as an ideological weapon, nothing more.

          1. nippersdad

            Yeah. I’m pretty sure that was the argument that Henry Lancaster made as Henry VIII sold off the monasteries for the benefit of people like…Henry Lancaster. He was a historical materialist. And if More was used as a weapon, why was he only canonized in the 1930s?

            Seems like by then he was pretty much past his sell-by date.

        2. begob

          And yet you must keep sight of the person. Was a slave’s misery any the less when slavery was the norm? So what of his slave master?

          In More’s case the personal dilemma was between abiding by his conscience and his obedience to authority.

          1. nippersdad

            But to whose authority did More owe his conscience?

            Isn’t slavery still a norm? Are wage slaves any less enslaved than were Roman ones? Are their historic “deaths of despair” any more important than ours presently are that we need to pay post hoc homage to them? Were their rags-to-riches stories any more relevant than our own? Exclusive of chattel slavery, because that is not relevant here, it has been pointed out that the lives of history’s slaves and peasants were in many ways superior to that of our own urban downtrodden.

            All I am saying is that ignoring the culture of the time is not a good way of improving analysis of history’s lessons. A thousand years of Christian authority and conscience often worked hand in hand. One cannot ignore that the Church during the Middle ages was as often a means of redress of political grievances as of social repression; it provided parameters beyond which it was difficult for elite personages to tread lest they lose their legitimacy, and created an economy unto itself that would otherwise have been lacking for those of little means.

            Though they often provided capital to found them, it was not ultimately the nobility that provided hospitals and a means of education for the poor, for example, and to ignore all of that in favor of Humanist interpretations developed hundreds of years later only serves to oversimplify a pretty intricate web of interpersonal relations.

    2. Mildred Montana

      >”Julian Assange as modern day Thomas More”

      Thomas More might have lost his life over a matter of principle, but was it indeed a higher one? Or even a worthy one? He was, after all, a reactionary Catholic at the time of the Reformation, the many Papal inquisitions, and anti-semitic pogroms against adherents of the Jewish faith.

      His historical reputation was burnished in 1966 by the hagiographic movie “A Man For All Seasons” and I suggest that that is all most people know of him, which is not much.

      Then there’s his book “Utopia”, a prescription for the “perfect” society—which means, of course, Thomas More’s perfect society. It smacks of moral authoritarianism, puritanism, and a dogmatic belief in the perfectibility of human nature. More seems not to realize that, paradoxically, “Utopias” or “Eutopias” always end up requiring more rules and more rule-enforcement than most citizens will tolerate. That is why they almost always fail.

      But then, as a Catholic reactionary, More favored order over liberty. The “dying for a higher principle” thing aside, I doubt Julian Assange would have anything in common with him.

      1. kson onair

        >More seems not to realize that, paradoxically, “Utopias” or “Eutopias” always end up requiring more rules and more rule-enforcement than most citizens will tolerate

        What nonsense. The western world is a straight jacket of endless rules and everyone goes along with them.

        1. Mildred Montana

          Are you kidding? The western world today is a veritable “utopia” compared to that of six centuries ago. The “Rights of Man”, the “Bill of Rights”, freedom of speech, religion, and assembly, they all exist after much struggle since that time.

          Yes, we might be going through a period where those hard-earned rights are being attenuated but they still exist. I feel confident today that I can say what I want, practice the religion I prefer, and hang out with whomever I like without fear of being burned at the stake for being a Protestant or broken on the wheel for saying that our rulers are idiots.

          As a cynical optimist (how’s that for an oxymoron!), I like to think that “The arc of moral history is long, but it bends towards justice.”

          1. JBird4049

            Even the most “simple” of hunter gather societies has rules. Sometimes quite hard ones. The question is not what and how many rules, but who creates them and for what purpose. Are they guidelines for the better functioning of a society or are they cell bars for the benefit of its elites?

            After all, we usually follow the rules of the road especially traffic stops don’t we? Otherwise there is massive inconvenience and death. But too often the speed laws become de facto tax collections by local government using an often corrupt police force used in place of actual taxes.

  7. griffen

    The article above on the renting app. Copy the model from Uber or Doordash for a place to live, rest, and maybe even sleep. What could go wrong ? \sarc

    That’s just a horrible use of technology, but hey this ‘Murica so all our bright minded venture and angel investors will find ways to throw money at problems that existed long before the internet or the PC. At the same time if you are constrained by either time to search or actual financial resources, this solution might be better than nothing.

    1. GramSci

      Rent going up? The money quote for me is:

      «Such agents sometimes hesitated to push rents higher. Roper said they were often peers of the people they were renting to. “We said there’s way too much empathy going on here,” he said. “This is one of the reasons we wanted to get pricing off-site.”»

        1. JBird4049

          The article says that there is; we just have to see if the DOJ actually goes against the interest of the wealthy. What are the chances of that happening?

          I think that more “investigations” on Russia or on the latest IdPol violation is likely before doing anything for the near homeless. Helping people stay housed by actually enforcing the law is less important than political gamesmanship. It sucks and it is a form of corruption, but it is reality.

      1. Tom Doak

        Also, the only way the algorithm makes $ is if it can drive up rents systematically, and then it makes $$$$$.

        1. JBird4049

          It’s an effective cartel. I like how RealPage has gotten its users to drive up vacancy rates to keep prices high especially in cities where the company has a monopoly on pricing.

          It is just another form of financialization and destruction of the economy especially when luxury apartments continue to be built and vacancies are encouraged while most Americans are housing poor.

  8. Tom Finn

    A govt official recusing himself from decisions due to conflict of interests?? (Britain)
    How novel…Think maybe we could try that here?

      1. marym

        They equate the “national interest” with the interests of the donor class (with which they and their families share interests as shareholders and supporting PMC). So if they’re considering, say, healthcare policy or energy policy the “stakeholders” invited to the table represent the interests of the donors and supporting PMC. As if policy serves the national interest in “healthcare” if it preserves and strengthens the healthcare industry, rather than if it directly provide healthcare.

      2. hunkerdown

        It’s a bit broader than that. The social status of personhood represents a participatory relation in social construction. A society’s laboring class is almost never seriously included in that status or allowed significant, effective access to that relation. Graeber on the Kwakiutl:

        It should be clear enough by now that this was a society in which property played a crucial role in the constitution of social identity. At least in the case of titles and their associated treasures, on taking possession of them, one literally became someone else. Mauss himself made note of this phenomenon in his famous essay on the “Category of the Person,” written in 1938. Mauss began by noting that the Latin word “persona” is in fact originally derived from an Etruscan word, phersu, meaning “mask.” “The person,” in ancient Rome, was defined by having a certain legal standing (the father of a family was a jural person, its women, children, and slaves were not, but were absorbed into his legal personality and thus had to be represented by him), but an older usage was also reflected in the term dramatis personae, a cast of characters, especially because Roman theater was one of stock characters (the Sycophant, the Braggart Soldier, etc.), each with his or her own easily identifiable mask, costume, and emblematic props. Presumably, wrote Mauss, such a system is ultimately derived from something like the Kwakiutl one, in which only nobles had true personae, and these were embodied in certain sorts of emblematic property, passed in the ancestral line, that literally made the person who he was. Historical speculation aside, the analogy could hardly be more perfect. As we’ll see, not only were the public personae of Kwakiutl aristocrats made up of just such emblematic properties, but these were entirely caught up in a kind of theater; in fact, the properties themselves could, for the most part, equally be considered theatrical props.

        Elsewhere in this essay, he observes that tribes tend to bestow the use of their particular modes of important speech as personal or class properties.

        1. digi_owl

          A reminder that most modern democracies started with only male landowners being allowed to vote.

          And that description of Roman theater reminds me of Japanese Noh teather.

  9. Stephen

    Your comment on the Van Gogh desecration reminds me of this quote by CS Lewis:

    “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

    After all, the National Socialists simply thought that they were doing good by following “natural laws” on racial hierarchy and the Bolsheviks by following the “natural law” of class conflict. People such as Extinction Rebellion make me deeply fearful for similar reasons. No off ramp.

    1. The Rev Kev

      You can say that again. Right now all across the UK you have these activists take milk cartons off the shelves and pour the milk all over the floor as part of an awareness campaign. I think that they want milk eliminated and replaced by plants instead – or maybe bugs. They might be flexible on that point-

      Lots of unhappy vegans too about this stunt going by some of the tweets on that page.

      1. flora

        In a time of rising costs and increasing hunger they destroy food. (Who are their financial sponsors one wonders.)

        1. Michael Fiorillo

          Just as in 2019, when they protested fossil fuel use by shutting down the London subways…

          As a yout’ and young adult in the 1970’s and early ’80’s, I thought things were pretty desperate and apocalyptic, but it seems inarguable that young people today are facing a far more degraded future than we did, and as a teacher, father and grandfather I empathize deeply… but, oy vey, the political witlessness, ignorance of material reality/thermodynamics and swollen moral vanity is hard to watch.

    2. Eclair

      Gee, guys, get a grip! The kids are pissed that we old ones have pretty much destroyed the Planet.

      What’s their outlook for the next 50 years of their lives? (And these are the kids in the so-called industrialized nations:) drought that parches the land and grain crops, and makes hydro-electric generation increasingly tenuous; rising oceans, making coasts uninhabitable (and not just for the second-homers: people actually make their living from fishing;) more tornadoes, stronger hurricanes and cyclones; more disease as the warmer areas encourage breeding microbes. And that’s just the stuff we know about.

      The milk pouring? It’s seems to be settled science that cows (dairy and meat) are big methane producers (the top source of methane in the US) and that is a relatively short-lived, but potent green-house gas. Cattle are fed corn (maize), which is not their natural food, and modern corn production consumes fossil fuels, pesticides (atrazine turns male frogs into females) herbicides (linked to cancers) at at great rate. About 40% of corn grown in the US is for animal feed.

      As for ‘wasting’ all that milk when there are hungry people in the world: US Department of Agriculture estimates that 30 – 40% of food in the US is tossed out …. and dairy products are the biggest component of this waste.

      And, then there’s the whole issue of factory farming: thousands of chickens jammed together, their wings clipped; breeding pigs kept in tiny gestation crates, dairy cows that never see a meadow or the sun. You really think that corporations that do that to ‘animals’ will hesitate to treat humans in the same manner? How about ‘private’ prisons? Well, how about the Alabama state prison system?

      We know all this stuff. A lot of people don’t. Maybe we could take the opportunity to share some of the ‘facts’ with our families and work mates and neighbors as they deplore the casual vandalism of the young. Yeah, maybe there’s a ‘better’ way to get people on board with the existential crisis of climate disruption (and the accompanying ‘polycrisis’ of Big Ag.

      And, if there is a ‘better way’ why haven’t we old ones, who have been living off the bounty of our Planet for 60 or 70 or 80 years, who were warned by the Club of Rome’s “Limits to Growth” in the 1970s, who have had our innings and are now sinking into the relatively well-cushioned final years of our lives …….why haven’t we done it?

      1. flora

        In my 20’s what was the next 50 years’ outlook? That most of us would either die in nuclear armageddon or freeze in the coming ice age. In the 70s the coming “new ice age” was upon us. We knew all that stuff. It was “obvious”, right?

        Drought parched land and promoting almond milk. Have you looked at how much fresh water almond orchards require? (omfg, I can’t imagine the level of disconnect in thinking here.) Driving farmers off their lands and promoting soy milk. right.

        Cows being big methane producers, but let us strive to create better environments for deer and elk and endangered species etc which suposedly aren’t big methane producers? riiight.

        Why haven’t we old ones done as the Club of Rome suggested? Maybe we saw through their PR campaign.

        As far as “the old ones messing up the planet”, the planet is just fine.

        / sheesh

        1. flora

          adding: and no attack on you as I like your commentary. Here’s something about the fight of Dutch farmers. (It’s not what you think.) utube, ~14 minutes.

          Something BIG is happening Europe, and the WEF is winning | Redacted with Clayton Morris

          And again, this no attack on you. the bought and paid for MSM is very effective at pushing narratives that benefit the very wealthy billonaire interests.

        2. MaryLand

          It’s hard to say how much drought will affect production of cow’s milk and almond milk.

          Wikipedia (I know) says it takes 131 liters of water/200 grams to produce cow’s milk vs 74 liters/200 grams for almond milk.

          It compares the sustainability of each on other variables also. Most likely it’s more complicated than what they show.

      2. Don

        Then there is the pragmatic matter of bringing people around to the position you promote. Setting aside the issue of whether battling climate change is really inherently virtuous — let’s just assume for now that it is — is throwing soup on a Van Gogh likely or unlikely to win popular support for your cause?

        If it is not, then doing so is not a political act at all, but a self-indulgence, a tantrum, a narcissistic disfunction…

        (Regarding the inherent virtue of fighting climate change, it should be acknowledged that while doing so might save humanity, it has nothing whatsoever to do with “saving the world”. The planet doesn’t give a hoot about whether it is capable of sustaining human life.

    3. Acacia

      Regarding the soup attack on Van Gogh and the Extinction Rebellion, I found this:

      Earlier this week all the windows at the research centre of the world’s largest fossil fuel services company – Schlumberger – were smashed. Surely a “legitimate target” if ever there was one. But no media reported it, no blue tick scientists praised it. Do you see the problem?

      Will any of the blue tick climate scientists so quick to slam the van Gogh activists come out and praise this action saying “now this is the type of direct action I can get behind.” No! Because their problem is with the respectability of direct action, not the tactics.

      I take it they are arguing that their vandalizing a Schlumberger research center and the soup attack are both direction action, and both are justified. The soup attack is justified by the lack of media attention given to “political” vandalism at Schlumberger (though how do we know it’s political from their photos? It could just be plain ‘ole vandalism), and the XR vandalism is retroactively justified by the soup attack, they seem to imply.

      Here, I’m wondering how different these actions are in spirit from old skool ecodefense, e.g., David Foreman’s 1985 Ecodefense: A Field Guide to Monkeywrenching. Foreman was one of the co-founders of started Earth First! in 1980 (sadly, he passed away just last month). Instead of trying to protect nature by spiking trees or sabotaging bulldozers, the activists have moved to attacking corporate offices like those of Scumburger Schlumberger.

      Taibbi’s article is paywalled, so I’m not sure what his deeper take is, but what I am curious to see is if these actions feed into some kind of larger movement. Will this draw in more people or get some people to question their position w.r.t. climate change, or will it just alienate more people? My sense is that that the advocates of direct action always say that it is the way to reach the indifferent masses and “wake them up”, but the masses always seem to remain indifferent.

      What must be done?

      1. flora

        What must be done?
        Move all manufacturing to China and the East so that 1.) the West produces less Co2 (environmental “winning” – if you ignore increasing Eastern C02 productions ramp up) and 2) Western billionaires make more profits by 3) undercutting Western workers’ unions and wages. / ;)

        1. flora

          Adding: it would be so great if these things weren’t as they are. But, they are as they are, uncomfortable as that is to hopes of easy win-wins.

        2. Acacia

          Thanks for the chuckle. I notice that @semper loquitur is discussing the same topic, further down the page, though taking the position that really there are no options and our collective fate is sealed.

          The “cosmic view” s/he mentions is, I take it, roughly what David Worcester called “cosmic irony”, nicely summarized in the Planetarium scene of Rebel Without a Cause (note that the students are kind of freaked out by the conclusion of the planetarium show and today they might need a trigger warning ;).

          1. semper loquitur

            No, I wasn’t referring to cosmic irony. Rather, by taking a Cosmic view I mean that I look at the times we live in as simply another chapter in the life of the Cosmos. More like a brief paragraph than a chapter perhaps. All of this chaos and insanity is less than an eyelash falling from the eye of God. It’s not that it’s trivial, nothing is, but it’s part of a much bigger play of events. That’s the backdrop I view these times against.

            1. Acacia

              Yes, that rather sounds like cosmic irony. Worcester offers an extended definition, including the vision of earth as a speck of dust — “less than an eyelash falling from the eye of God,” as you say —, but here’s an excerpt: “He attains his knowledge in the usual fashion for irony, by detaching his emotions from the conflict and rising to a lofty position above it. It is from this elevation, carried to the extreme altitudes of stellar space, that the bombshells of cosmic irony are dropped. […] Cosmic irony represents the most distant perspective, the most complete detachment, that it is possible to achieve in the present state of knowledge.”

              1. semper loquitur

                But there’s nothing ironic about any of it. Mine is a spiritual perspective. When I say I use the Cosmos as a backdrop, it’s not to contrast the times we live in, it’s to fit it into a grander scheme. It doesn’t stand in contradiction. Where is the incongruity?

                1. Acacia

                  As I understand it, cosmic irony is not the say-one-thing-while-meaning-another irony (verbal irony), but something else. It’s more concerned with knowledge and perspective. That’s why I mentioned the planetarium lecturer (played by Ian Wolfe) in Rebel Without a Cause. You can watch the scene on YT. Is he engaging in any verbal irony, when he describes our place in the universe? I would say no: he’s completely sincere (unlike the giggling students in the audience). As you describe it, that’s fitting our world into a “grander scheme”. It’s a sincere account, and the important difference is the shift in perspective. Worcester gives an extended account of this that is difficult to summarize, though several analogies are important, e.g., whereas the Earth (and therefore humanity) were at the center of the Ptolemaic system, with the Copernican revolution, suddenly we have to completely rethink our place in the order of things. “More like a brief paragraph than a chapter perhaps,” as you nicely put it. Worcester reads irony in relation to the art of satire, seeing it as an agent in the secularization of thought, e.g.: “Irony in particular compels detachment and a remote point of view. … Swift exercised the imagination by making his readers look at the human race through the eyes of a giant, a tiny dwarf, and a horse.” The element of irony is that this perspective is now very much detached from that of liberal progressives, as you describe their concerns.

                  I offer this not as any sort of insinuation that this position isn’t sincere, but only as a possible, canonical way to think about this shift in perspective. I understand and appreciate the appeal of the position you describe. My comment is mainly intended to point out there is precedent. We may need all the help we can get to come to terms with the “phase change” you mention that’s unfolding now.

                  1. semper loquitur

                    The “shift in perspective” being the nut of it brings it into focus. Thank you for this considered response. Sorry if I came across as defensive, I didn’t want to be misconstrued. I will add that when I say I use the Cosmos as a backdrop, I don’t mean to compare the “serenity” of space to our madness. Rather I try to see the whole spectrum of time and fit ourselves into it. To be clear, I know you aren’t saying I’m not saying this, I just wanted to explicate it.

  10. Lex

    The kamikaze drone will bring old fashioned antiaircraft guns back. The ones Russia is using don’t produce enough heat for a MANPAD to lock to, small arms aren’t going to bring them down in most cases, and it sounds like they don’t show up very well on modern missile anti-air systems which is combined with the ridiculous cost of bringing down a $20K drone with a $100K+ missile.

    The Ukrainian tactic of putting serious air defense systems inside populated areas is almost as kamikaze as the drones themselves. Having them on the White House or similar makes some sense, having them heavily used inside a city does not.

    1. The Rev Kev

      At the moment, the Ukrainian police, soldiers, militia, etc. are trying to shoot those drones down with rifles, pistols or anything else that shoots a bullet and the streets of Kiev are sounding like a firing range. Best to be inside or you might get hit by a falling bullet-

      1. FredW

        “…you might get hit by a falling bullet…”

        The more real danger is a populated area getting hit by an exploding shot down drone rather than the drone hitting its energy infrastructure target.

        1. Greg

          Except it’s not just bullets flying willy nilly. We’ve got S300 and Buk missiles curving down trying to hit the drones and plowing into apartment blocks. The S300 packs 150kg of explosive to the Shahed-136’s 50kg.

          And on top of that, keen troopers with western-supplied ATGMs trying to hit a drone in the air. Often with unguided ATGMs, when even with guided ones they’ve got a snowballs chance. All of those come down too.

          The videos coming out of Kiev this week are absolutely insane.

    2. Polar Socialist

      You do know that Russia is flooding* Donbass with old, reliable S-60 anti-aircraft guns? They shoot 57mm shells with proximity fuse, and are allegedly great against small drones – as per experience in Syria. They can also penetrate 90mm of steel, so work well also against an enemy largely down to APCs and civilian vehicles for mobility.

      And being from the old Soviet stock, they can be easily integrated with the existing air-defense systems, like battalion/divisional radars for targeting information or even automatic targeting.

      Designed in the late 40s, considered obsolete in the mid-60s, reinstated after Vietnamese experience in early 70s, finally removed from service to storage in 1990s only find a niche for itself again today.

      * figuratively speaking

      1. Louis Fyne

        the US/NATO vision of 21th century nation-vs.-nation warfare is panning out to be totally wrong.

        but there is too much money sunk into the current worldview for the Pentagon to pivot.

      2. Lex

        I saw the deployment of the S-60s on TG the other day. One wonders whether the Ukrainians still have some and if they do why they aren’t deploying them for this purpose.

        1. Tom Stone

          Lex, I suspect the Ukes aren’t using what 57mm’s they have due due logistics issues.
          These puppies eat a lot of rounds in not much time.
          And the Ukes ability to move Men and materiel has just been substantially degraded, it will be interesting to see what they prioritise when capacity is reduced by 66.6%…

      3. Anthony G Stegman

        In WWII German 88 anti-aircraft weapons were used against Allied troop formations to devastating effects. North Korea (allegedly) has used anti-aircraft guns to execute people. It seems that anti-aircraft guns can be used effectively in Ukraine to kill combatants, not just down drones.

        1. hk

          It’s 90mm. Ww2 rule if thumb was an Xmm high velocity gun (and anti aircraft guns are very high velocity guns) could pierce Xmm of vertical armor plate of rolled steel at 1000m, I believe. Technology of gun barrels and ammunition had gotten a lot better even during 50s and 60s, so 90mm is not implausible. The catch is that armor plates are no longer made of plain rolled steel (and are not vertical), so there’s that….

          1. Polar Socialist

            It’s actually 96 mm for specific armor piercing ammunition, but likely the “regular” 57 mm HE shell will penetrate something like Bushmaster PMV or M113, even from a distance.

      4. Yves Smith

        But are those guided drones, which are much slower?

        The big merit of these kamikaze drones is they are cheap, can’t be jammed, can’t be readily “seen” by conventional tracking methods due to speed, size, very small infrared emission, and no comms. Nothing like these drones was deployed in Syria.

        1. Polar Socialist

          ISIS has probably thrown at Kheimin airbase anything they can get to fly and attach explosives to, although likely not kamikaze drones like these.

          Anyway, once you do see the drone, the latest wisdom is that 57 mm ammo has longer reach (6000 m vs 4000 m), doesn’t rely on hitting the target directly (proximity fuse) and packs way more punch (3-4 times heavier shell) than a regular 30 mm (like Pantsir, Tunguska or BMP-2/3).

          Which all apparently translate to a higher kill probability against drone type targets. Come to think of it, S-60 was designed 80 years ago to protect the troops against relatively low and slow flying, propeller driven aerial vehicles.

      5. Greg

        The question is going to be who has kept up manual gunnery training – since all the autotargeting widgets and algos are confused by bird-like mopeds.
        If anyone has, it’d be someone in Eastern Europe.

        I’d be looking for Ukraine to rock the quad 50s, since they’ll be much easier to get ammunition for given the givens.

      6. PlutoniumKun

        The history of warfare is full of examples of antiquated weapons proving more effective than the more modern designs, usually because countermeasures focus on the most up to date threat.

        In WWII, it was belatedly realized that fabric covered biplanes were a lot stealthier than their aluminum descendants when used at low level. It is most likely that the Bismark was sunk because the German radar controlled guns found it harder to track the outdated British Swordfish torpedo bomber, and the fragmentation shells were not as effective against wood and fabric as against a metal aircraft. Its quite possible that the Japanese plan to use old biplane trailer kamikazes against US invasion forces could have been far more effective than using Zekes and Zeroes. There was an interesting interview a while back with some Donbass volunteers who suggested that they preferred old style Mosin rifles over more modern weapons as they felt the range suited rural Ukraine combat and that the much heavier rounds had more stopping power against someone with body armor. I’ve heard army snipers say the same thing about preferring old Lee Enfields.

        The irony is that the west has the perfect response to those drones. The problem is, they are all mounted on ships. The radar controlled anti-missile guns used on Nato vessels would make short work of any number of drones, very cheaply. But nobody has bothered to apply those lessons to the ground forces. The Germans have been playing around with mounting the Rheinmetall RM30 or Rh202 autocannons onto Weisel light tanks for years. Integrated into a reasonable fire control system they’d make short work of any drone that isn’t either fully stealth or capable of very low level attack. But, of course the Germans have been talking about this for 25 years without actually doing anything. And everyone else has been playing around with inappropriate high tech responses. The Israeli’s are probably as advanced as anyone, but they keep their cards very close to their chests.

        In my opinion, the huge success of drones in this and recent wars is less to do with their inherent effectiveness than they are a ‘goldilocks’ weapon – they effectively expose the weaknesses of both poorly equipped armies (as in Armenia and Ethiopia) by allowing air control, and the most high-tech militaries (by being so cheap that they can overwhelm conventional defenses). They will be countered effectively by layered defenses, but it will take time.

        One unstated factor in this war is that both sides may well be holding back their best technology for fear of giving away too much information. I suspect that one reason the Russians have been using their air force in a very limited and relatively crude manner is that they know full well that the airspace around Ukraine is full of Nato monitoring aircraft hoovering up every bit of information they can get. I wouldn’t mind betting that Russian pilots have been told to switch off all active sensors over Ukraine unless they are mission critical. Likewise, its not a secret that the US and Europeans know full well that if they give the Ukrainians the latest kit, it will quickly fall into Russian hands. I suspect this is one reason the Russians are favoring Iranian kit. They don’t really care if Nato learns lots about them – the same can’t be said about the latest Russian drones.

        1. Yves Smith

          Please listen to Alexander Mercouris. The “Iranian” drones are not Iranian. They are Russian, made by JSC Kalashnikov Concern. It sounds like parallel development coming up with similar designs.

          1. Greg

            There might be a bit of confusion among western commentators due to the range of drones being used.
            There are the geran-2 which are either imports or licensed copies of the iranian shahed136. Not parallel development, identical when fragments and intact downed ones are compared to Iran’s catalogue pictures.
            There are also a half dozen different Russian drones with different roles, which includes the lancet loitering munition. The lancet is very similar to loitering munitions developed elsewhere, but is purely Russian tech.
            The lancet is designed for armour penetration and is being used against armored vehicles and air defence. The geran/shahed appears to be pure high explosive and is used against fuel tanks and infrastructure.
            Lancet is fast and high tech, geran/shahed is slow and low tech.
            Both are small and very hard to hit. Lancet is smaller.

    3. digi_owl

      The Ukrainian plan seems to be to put hard to move gear in residential areas, and the scream WAR CRIME once the Russians lob some rounds after it.

      Sadly it seems they think winning the PR war means winning the physical war. Or maybe they were hoping that enough PR would make the western public accept a full on intervention.

      1. hk

        Are they winning the PR war? I don’t know about that. Regardless of which side one sympathizes with, Ukrainian propaganda has been so absurdly and nonsensically over the top (half a dozen people killed in “indiscriminant snd brutal” bombing of “civilians” snd such) and internally inconsistent (Russians are losing badly and they are about to take over the world tonorrow… practicallly in the same sentence) that no reasonable person can take their PR seriously without some sort of quasi-religious frenzy.

    4. Dave in Austin

      The Russians are using Iranian prop-driven drones with a small radar profile. The Iranians say they are not supplying either side with drones. My guess is that they have sold the Russians the designs and the assembly line and the Russian are gearing-up production. I think it was Churchill who asked Stalin at Yalta how the relatively poor quality Russian weapons had been able to defeat Germany. Stalin said: “Quantity has a quality all its own”.

      Small nations can design first-rate weapons. The standard US Navy WWII 20 and 40mm rapid-fire anti-aircraft guns were designed by Oerlikon and Bofers, Swedish and Swiss firms. The original Bofers 40mm gun was impossibly complex and very hard to manufacture. American mass production reduced the number of parts by more than half and the labor required to produce the gun by roughly 80%. The era of cheap, massed-produced drones may be upon us.

      1. digi_owl

        The basic engine and fuselage has been around forever. Just look at any large scale model airplane.

        What is “new” is the development of video and radio tech compact and powerful enough that the operator do not need to have eyes on the drone to fly it. Never mind compact computers and navigation that allows them to fly themselves to some destination.

        I’m just surprised MSM is not referring to these as Putin’s “vengeance weapons”. After all the V-1 was not much more than a bomb with wings and a pulse jet engine. It found its “target” by being aimed in the general direction, and given just enough fuel to stall over the area.

        1. Polar Socialist

          I’m surprised that after all those “game changers” The West™ has provided for Ukraine, the one that may actually earn the honorific is the one allegedly supplied by Iran to Russia.
          It’s almost as if having powerful enemies yet limited resources focuses the mind to find the weak spots to exploit.

          1. Greg

            Agreed on the only “game changer” we’ve seen, although I hate that term.

            It’s interesting, Iran with Iranian constraints went with “too slow for interception”, while Russia went with “too fast for interception”. Both hit the same sort of weakpoint in modern AD, but from different ends of the spectrum.

            1. The Rev Kev

              Did you ever hear about the German WW2 battleship Bismarck? It was hit by torpedoes launched by obsolete Fairey Swordfish biplanes and slowing it enough to be destroyed by the Royal Navy. The problem for the Germans was that those biplanes were so slow, that the Bismarck’s modern guns could not lead their targets properly as they were designed to track faster, more modern planes.

      2. Don

        As the article states, Iran denies supplying drones to the Russian military. The Russian military also denies purchasing drones from Iran. When NATO/western media started circulating rumours about Russia having an interest in acquiring Iranian “kamikaze” drones (because losing the war), Russian military sources said they had no need for Iranian kamikaze drones, having lots of their own. In response to statements that the drones looked like Iranian drones, the Russians said that they also looked like American drones, that functionality was the biggest determinant of the design; a kamikaze drone is a kamikaze drone. They are in use now because NATO upped the ante and Russia responded.

    5. Dave in Austin

      The Ukraine propaganda festival continues with the term “Kamikazi Drone”.

      One aspect of the drone threat is the “drone swarm”, a mass of drones which communicate and synchronize movements during an attack.

      This morning we had an example of a “media swarm”, the sudden, perfectly synchronized use of the term “Kamikaze Drone” in headlines from the BBC, the WP, the NYT, Politico, Al Jazeera and many other. The term “Kamikaze Drone” seems to have been first used yesterday at a Ukrainian government news conference. But as a reader of Edward Bernays and Joseph Goebbels, I know that brilliant propaganda adjectives often are the product of extensive research. The American drones used since Desert Storm are not called kamikaze drones; they are cheap, hi-tech weapons

      1. digi_owl

        I suspect that if you went back you would find that they all plucked the meat of the article from either Reuters or AP.

        Reuters in particular seems to let Ukrainian independent “journalists” pitch just about any story under their banner.

        1. Polar Socialist

          You mean the Reuters that eventually admitted it was acting as an operational arm of British intelligence when under British ownership? Of course, all that was left behind when Reuters was bought by US investors. Honestly. Nothing but independent journalism here…

      2. Skip Intro

        I think the use of kamikaze on drones is another episode of projection that is meant to distract from the EUs kamikaze economic attack on Russia.

    6. Yves Smith

      I am under the impression these drone fly faster than planes, so not sure antiaircraft guns will work well either. Alexander Mercouris said these drones, which are not remote controlled but instead are designed to hit fixed targets, are best thought of as mini ballistic missiles.

      1. Greg

        180kph, 120mph in imperial. Not faster than planes, unless you’re talking ww1 biplanes.
        Watching videos of them they are bumbling across the sky, just high enough to be out of reach for men with small arms, low enough to be out of reach for modern air defense. is not terrible.

        Polar Socialist is right about the old WW2 57mm’s being the right weapon for the job, but only if people with manual gunnery training can be found, which might be a big ask. The modern targeting is all confusing them with birds.

        Oh and Mercouris is right. While these may have loitering and drone-like capabilities, they’re being used currently like cheap slow lightweight cruise missiles.

  11. flora

    re: “on the other hand”

    It’s sort of hilarious that the actions “soup” are backed by California’s Climate Emergency Fund, whose founding donor is the wealthy heiress of a famous oil magnate.

  12. FM

    The irony is oil executives are not just seeing beautiful art, they are buying art: they’re the only ones who can afford the multi-million dollar price tag.

    Art is a status symbol for the rich, and it operates as a type of currency amongst the rich as well.

    One of the many reasons private collectors fund and donate their art to museums is to raise the visibility of their collection so which also raises the direct value of their art as well as all the merchandising and licensing that goes along with it.

    I recommend Don Thompson’s $12 Million Dollar Shark if anyone is interested in the hidden world of art snd its collectors.

    1. digi_owl

      When the tax man cometh, he will be looking for notes and metal not oil and ink on walls.

      Another “store of wealth” i have heard about on and off is wine.

    2. Lexx

      I thought it was so they could borrow against the value, proven at auction. That basically everything they own is capital and therefore leveraged to borrow and buy more capital.

      Are items of great wealth ever out of fashion?

      1. nippersdad

        “Are items of great wealth ever out of fashion?”

        I seem to recall that during the French Revolution the angry masses were dragging out furniture and paintings to burn so that they could later retrieve the gold leaf from the ashes. Were it not for the Brits buying up as much as they could for places like Buckingham Palace there wouldn’t be much of it left.

        Make of that what you will.

          1. hk

            The first targets of peasant mobs were the ledgers and tax records recording what they owed landlords and government and the archives, both public and private. They knew how the system worked.

  13. The Rev Kev

    “Australia is now living with COVID-19, but in aged care, thousands are dying with it”

    (Hang on a moment – I will go into my Dr. Evil mode) Looking at this from a Neoliberal viewpoint, this is all a big win. The elderly are already out of the work force so no loss there. And when they go, they won’t be drawing an old age pension anymore so that will help government coffers and a bundle will be saved on medications alone. And a big bonus is that when they go, there is a generational wealth transfer to a younger generation who will spend that money and thus help consumer demand. To a Neoliberal, the worth of a person is a function of what wealth can be extracted from them and old people are already past that point. (Dr. Evil mode disengaged)

    1. Revenant

      Tsk tsk, the elderly have plenty of wealth to extract. What do you think private nursing home care is for? Obviously, state nursing care may wish to dispose of the husks earlier but private care should be covid testing etc. until the fees run out.

      1. Anthony G Stegman

        It makes the utmost sense to extract as much wealth from the elderly as possible. They can’t take it with them, so may as well have someone else utilize it. I’ve read that here in the US lots of Baby Boomers have hoarded so much wealth that even in retirement their financial assets continue to grow rather than being drawn down. For economists this is a problem. Saving is considered virtuous, but too much saving is not virtuous.

      2. Will

        That’s too long term of a view. Protecting residents would cost more money and thus reduce current profits. What you need to do is:

        (1) get the government to pass legislation protecting you from lawsuits for letting your residents die,

        (2) ask for bail outs to cope with the influx of residents from public institutions (if any) that need to be off loaded to private care on the public dime because the fixed public budget cannot care for as many people at the now elevated standards necessary to deal with Covid, and

        (3) announce a special dividend for shareholders and pay a big bonus to executives who somehow managed to increase profits by an amount roughly equivalent to the bailout.

    2. Jason Boxman

      Seems like premeditated mass murder. In the US, perhaps someone could claim who could have known? But Australia had zero-COVID, saw what happened in the west, and the political Establishment proceeded to let everyone get infected anyway! There’s literally no excusing it in this life or any other. It’s a manifest evil.

      1. Basil Pesto

        Yes, I find the handling of it here particularly egregious, given that we were in a pretty much unsurpassable position, and used the vaccines to rationalise abandoning it, all apparently for the sake of capital accumulators of various stripes (this was made explicit by an “open letter” last year, signed by Qantas, Optus, Telstra iirc), and people that think quarantine-free overseas holidays are the definition of freedom itself. We did the public health equivalent of answering in the affirmative to “if your friend told you to jump off a cliff, would you do it?”, and the good work done in the preceding year-and-a-bit, as well as the communitarian and solidaristic national spirit (despite the efforts of the Murdoch press at the time to sabotage it) shredded and possibly gone forever. And people are completely oblivious to the scale of the betrayal. It’s one of the great national tragedies and outrages, and nobody minds.

        1. antidlc

          “And people are completely oblivious to the scale of the betrayal. It’s one of the great national tragedies and outrages, and nobody minds.”

          You summed up the situation perfectly.

          1. Basil Pesto

            I would add, that ABC article and a spate of accompanying articles about aged care vastly overstates the extent of lockdown in Australia, as though the country was locked down continuously for two years. It’s just such bullshit. The best period for aged care residents in this country since the pandemic started was between the successful early ‘20 national lockdown, and the abandonment of the policy. Care homes were probably a lot more careful then even though the virus posed less of a threat than it does now because it didn’t exist in the community in that time. Now those residents are dying for nothing, except for the ABC’s false premise of “we can’t stay locked down forever”, a moronic strawman that has apparently been fully embraced by the public. Apart from Victoria’s 2020 cock-up, between the initial (successful) national lockdown of 2020 and the abandonment of the containment policy in late May 2021, Australia was barely locked down at all. The Victoria lockdown also could have been shortened dramatically –
            thereby lowering the burden on aged care residents and, indeed, everyone else – with more considered testing strategies. In South Australia, where my parents live, everything was more or less completely 2019 normal through December 2021 (I visited several times), except you had to check in at venues to assist contact tracers in the event of an outbreak. I mean, we opened a quarantine-free travel bubble with NZ in early 2021 until the policy abandonment for god’s sake – that is not the sort of thing a locked down country does.

            They also act like public opinion shaped policy, when in fact it was exactly the other way around (“pandemic of the unvaccinated”, “vaccines are the road out of the pandemic”, “delta and omicron are too transmissible to be contained” – just a smattering of the official lies deployed here last year). Infuriating, despair-inducing propagandising revisionism. It might also be worth considering the implications of such propaganda in light of ABC’s “Chief China Analyst” Stan Grant’s in(s)ane ramblings – associate the policy and its successes with our would-be adversary

  14. spud

    the l.a. times article by Hiltzik is a complete white wash of history. yep reagan was bad, as well as almost all repubulicans.

    but i see delong does open the door a wee bit and says the name bill clinton, whilst completely leaving out his part in all of this.

    but it was bill clinton who caused the over whelming destruction of america.

    Bill Clinton Did More to Sell Neoliberalism than Milton Friedman
    A brief history of how the Democratic Party’s turn to market capitalism wrecked everything.

    they mention the milton look a like clone feldstein, who was a advisor to obama,

    On February 6, 2009, Feldstein was announced as one of U.S. President Obama’s advisors on the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board.[23] He served as a member on the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board from 2009-2011.[6]

    till the history of the destruction of america is finally fleshed out and the rot exposed, the democrat party destroyed because their part in this was huge, far worse that the GOP, then the constant attacks on working people will continue till we look like Honduras.

    there was a reason why thatcher was so happy about a tony blair type.

    1. britzklieg

      Clinton also was first to begin the NATO expansion (post the “end of history”) toward Russia, which his predecessor Bush pere refused to do. Ray McGovern speaks to this while reminding that our last sane statesman was Bill Bradley:

      The bit about Bradley starts at the 9’30” mark…

      1. spud

        yep, bill clinton attacked yugoslavia as a warning to any eastern european country that might have ideas of their own sovereignty, and russia was the main target.

        it was bill clinton that made america into a country that is not agreement capable.

  15. Carolinian

    Re The Sunflower–so if we knew nothing about Van Gogh, had never seen a Kirk Douglas movie about him or heard a Don McLean song, didn’t know that it sold for 85 million dollars or were told by teachers that it is great what would we think about it? Tom Wolfe once wrote a much criticized book, The Painted Word, about the degree to which art had become dependent on theory and narrative and how this had come to dominate, not just ideas about taste, but also about literal value in a modern art world obsessed with money. I’d suggest that criticism is not entirely off the wall and that art is there for us to enjoy and, yes, be moved by and not to be worshiped or idolized.

    The people who disrespected the painting only because it is famous could arguably have had a real point if they had thought of it. Thought doesn’t seem to have been involved.

    1. digi_owl

      Yeah more and more of modern art seems to be like a more elaborate and expensive variant of them memes the tweens love to pass around online.

      Mostly it seems to come back to cognitive dissonance, in that it is labeled art but then shock. And that shock is supposedly some statement about the world.

      1. Paul

        I’m just mad I didnt think of Duchamps “fountain” first. That he intentionally did it to prove the collecters were dumb just makes it better.

      2. bonks

        If you thought modern art was bad, wait til you see postmodern art installations that my fellow millennials and zoomers are making, supported by public funding in the west and private money in the east, validated by the luxury sector who’s trying to figure out who’s the latest edgy artist whose work they can leverage to boost their brand standing amongst the youths.

    2. nippersdad

      So when I was a kid we moved to a new house. My parents took us to a starving artist sale and we each got to pick out a painting. My bro got something that looked like a Leroy Nieman, which I do not recall ever having seen again once we moved out of that house a few years later. My painting is only distinguished by how every person who has ever seen it hate it with the heat of millions of suns. Fifty years later it hangs in my library, inciting hatred from all who witness the spectacle of its’ mere existence.

      But I still like it.

      I’m not too sure it would bother me all that much were someone to “soup” a Basquiat, but I am quite sure that people from every walk of life and part of the globe would line up to “soup” my little still life if they ever had the chance to do so.

      Given how misunderstood many artists, like Van Gogh, were during their time and how their reps have been subsequently been remediated, I cannot help but think that someday I will be rich if I can only hang on to that little guy for a few more years…..

    3. flora

      What would we think about it? I don’t know. I did see one of his “Sunflowers” and other Van Gogh’s in a museum and I remember my first “thoughts” were quickly replaced by being drawn in to the painting, the brushstrokes and color and liveliness of it. I wasn’t thinking at all at that point. I was, (jeez, this is going to sound so lame, but it’s true), I was visually experiencing what was before me, without “thought”. I’d seen images of the painting in books many times, but that was nothing compared to seeing the actual painting. (OK, I’ll stop.)

      As for The Painted Word, I agree. Damien Hurst a prime example imo of what I’d call hucksterism. (Maybe I’m just an old fuddy-duddy who doesn’t understand modern art greatness much like the old late 19th century academic painters who hated impressionism.)

      1. wol

        From a contemporary artist’s Statement:

        It is that which you see before you– begin to reason about it and you at once fall into error.
        – Huang Po, 9th Century CE

        To know without knowing is best.
        – Tao te Ching #71 (Le Guin version)

      2. Jehr

        Art is a funny thing. I went to art school to see if I could pass muster. I painted in many media (mediums?) and estimate that, counting both small (3 x 4 in.) paper and large (4 X 5 ft.) canvases, I painted about 4,000 paintings. I sold a few and kept a few. Now in old age, I change my paintings from room to room and find myself both admiring them and de-constructing them but having much enjoyment doing both. I am having just as much happiness looking at them now as I did making them then. That’s art for you!

      3. Tom Bradford

        What would we think about it? I don’t know.

        I don’t know, either. Never seen the painting. I have seen real sunflowers, tho’, growing in my garden, and find it hard to imagine how one could improve on the real thing. But then, I don’t claim to be an artist.

    4. nippersmom

      There is plenty of “famous” art that I don’t particularly care for. I love Sunflowers (and Starry Night as well) because I find them beautiful.

  16. tegnost

    Re Tablet…
    Not inspiring…
    Germany is also emerging as the fulcrum of Vladimir Putin’s strategy to salvage his war in Ukraine by breaking Western solidarity—a gambit that now involves a credible nuclear weapons threat. For a country with an almost uniquely pathological fear of inflationary shocks, populist politics, and nuclear technology, the winter of 2022 is shaping up to be a horror show.

    Putin doesn’t need them to match the mettle of the heroic Ukrainians; he only needs them to stretch the war beyond the point that Ukraine and the West can afford to continue financing it, while indiscriminately murdering civilians from afar

    Contrasted with…

    But the last two years, and the last seven months in particular, have revealed this model to be something of a Ponzi scheme. The entire German system, it turns out, depended on a never-ending supply of cheap Russian gas, immaculate just-in-time Chinese supply chains, and ever-expanding foreign markets. No other country bet more on the end of history, and we all know how that turned out..

    It’s a circus.

    But what’s that you say?
    Baseline inflation forecasts for Germany are now in double-digit territory. Steel, fertilizer, chemical, and toilet paper plants are shutting down or on the brink of closure, and German automakers are threatening to shift more production to places like South Carolina and Alabama

    There’s a sucker born every minute (pseudo religious american proverb)

    Economy Minister Robert Habeck meanwhile recently appeared to accuse the United States of war profiteering by putting Germany in the position of having to buy expensive U.S. liquefied natural gas exports, now that its rightful cheap Russian gas is spilling into the ocean.

    With all of that said, this sounds like stockholm syndrome…

    It is the world that Americans and Germans have strenuously sought to avoid, often working together, since 1945. Now, it’s here.


    1. DJG, Reality Czar

      tegnost. And there’s more! At Jeremy Stern at The Tablet, on the German Apokalypse.

      Stern reflects the endless U.S. apocalyptic thinking, which isn’t all that averse to nuclear devastation (so long as the biblical prophecies come true). If anything, he’s an example of a panicked, panting style of “journalism” that I see also in La Stampa, wherein Zafasova provides an almost daily dose of panic over toilet-paper shortages and panting for the impending nuclear war. It’s nuclear rumors as the next Big Story for these strivers.

      To wit, some samples of twaddle by Stern:
      Economy Minister Robert Habeck meanwhile recently appeared to accuse the United States of war profiteering by putting Germany in the position of having to buy expensive U.S. liquefied natural gas exports, now that its rightful cheap Russian gas is spilling into the ocean.

      [[Notice the clever use of “rightful.”]]

      Having been the least credible Kremlinologists over the last 20 years, Germans have been forced by circumstances into a refreshing realism about Moscow that is often less abundant in the United States. Brilliant Ukrainian advances against Putin’s armies have led to an understandable euphoria among many Westerners, as well as a justifiable panic that the threat of nuclear war may increase with the odds of a Russian defeat. Germans are quick to point out that this is only part of the story.

      [[Also referred to as “dazzling advances.” I nominate the above as Twaddleicious Excerpt of the Day]]

      One more media worker in love with the idea of war. So long as others suffer.

  17. The Rev Kev

    “Imran Khan Wins Majority of Seats in Pakistan’s By-Elections’

    Pakistanis aren’t stupid and know what was done to Khan. And it looks like they want him back again. And it is not helping when old Joe makes comments saying Pakistan ‘may be one of the most dangerous’ countries in the world which had ‘nuclear weapons without any cohesion’. Only old Joe could threaten two disparate countries like India and Pakistan at the same time, giving them common cause together-

    1. jsn

      I mean really, if ‘nuclear weapons without any cohesion’ is the measure, Joe really needs to bite his tongue!

      1. digi_owl

        When you learn about the Pentagon antics during the cold war (all zero launch codes, anyone?) one start to wonder if not the USSR was what saved us all from a hot war.

      2. Bsn

        And with nuclear weapons, one doesn’t need much cohesion. Just “fire” and they’ll blow up and let the cloud do the rest if you miss the target.

    2. jefemt

      A nation with nuclear weapons without cohesion . Hmmm, pondering eastern and Southern Oregon move to secede and join Idaho… MTG, uncivil wars.

      It seems the US in the USA us disappearing, failing state… perceptions of the US as ‘nuclear weapons without any cohesion’…

      very interesting times, these.

    3. Yves Smith

      Pakistan abstained in the recent UN vote condemning Russia for the annexation. This with the current prez there having been installed by the US!

  18. Lex

    RE: Biden’s Marijuana Power Play, that’s an odd article. It’s mad about the review of scheduling cannabis and even links to the CFR detailing the review process but somehow fails to grasp that all of the agencies responsible for review are executive branch and so POTUS has this prerogative.

    The article claims that marijuana has a “high potential for abuse” but then simply references the CFR again without any scientific data related to abuse. The no medical value claim is also odd, given that the FDA has approved a CBD drug for epilepsy and CBD is a component of most marijuana varieties (almost all that are commercially available). But of course it’s hard to establish any medical value when the Schedule I designation has made serious research impossible.

    My favorite bit though is that conservative america loves to prattle on about state’s rights but then this article gets all twisted over states allowing marijuana. More crazy is the veiled attacks on the marijuana lobby, which is real and one of the shittiest collections of human beings on the planet. I thought American Conservatives loved big business getting what it wants from government? Inside weed world, the big business types love this Biden move but the old school doesn’t trust him or Big Weed and there’s a movement afoot back to the black market and away from the VC PE tech bros running Big Weed with ex-cops. PMC liberals like my mom are the real target of this Biden policy, which is odd because he has those locked up already.

    1. digi_owl

      How it always is, be it conservatives or progressives. It is all knee jerk, with no coherence or principled thought at the base. Because they all think themselves beyond reproach.

    2. hunkerdown

      Or, underneath his performative whining he knows, just like Nixon domestic policy chief John Ehrlichmann, that they’re lying about the drugs and simply looking for any opportunity to make their ugly Puritan faces important.

  19. Jeremy Grimm

    “AI Steve Jobs interviewed by AI Joe Rogan The Big Picture.”
    Lambert: “The powers-that-be are pushing AI even more than they’re pushing eating bugs (by which I mean you should eat bugs).”

    As any programmer knows bugs are a bane of software and by analogy hardware designers decry bugs in hardware designs. Bugs afflict AI. The Populace must eat bugs — problem solved.

  20. Jon Cloke

    M. K. Bhadrakumar’s The wasteland of British politics is a fairly peripheral, two-dimensional take on Blue Tory leadership (which fails to mention Brexit) which doesn’t really identify what has happened to the Blue Tories and UK politics more generally:

    1) Leaving aside how increasing numbers of Blue Tory MPs have come to believe Friedman and Hayek as literal prophets from God, the NICE (Non-Inflationary Continuous Expansion) era allowed Blairite New Labour to persuade the UK that Capitalism had won and that Labour would conduct a more civilized version of it, Red Toryism – hence Sir Keir Voldemort’s determination to clean Labour of the nasty disease of ‘socialism’ and support Apartheid Israel. The Overton Window was crowbarred, sometimes slowly and sometimes rapidly, to the commercial Right.

    2) The Blue Tories went through a feckless period of trying to reconcile the Bruges Brownshirts and ‘unite’ the party whilst New Labour was in power, and failed pretty miserably as the ERG grew stronger. They were neutered by alliance with the FibDims (Orange Tories) 2010-2015 but, having won in 2015 Cameron had his nose put to the stone and thus the Brexit referendum.

    3) Pathetic efforts by May to get something out of Brexit were sabotaged by her own party (*imagine* putting David Davis in charge of negotiations!) and the Cakeism of the ERG went into full acceleration (see here –

    4) The 2019 election (in which the UK MSM and Tory Labour committed a direct attack on electoral democracy) sealed the deal. Farage called off the UKIP vote because Borisconi would give them what they wanted, and thousands of UKIP voters re-joined the Blue Tories to ‘get Brexit done’, as ‘moderate’ Blue Tories were purged for refusing to swallow Cakeism.

    5) Borisconi was plainly unsuited to be PM and Brexit began to have disastrous economic and financial results which will carry on for decades – in the meantime, the Cakeist faction of the Blue Tories refused to admit there was anything wrong with Brexit and, in tandem with offshore billionaire interests, fund managers and the whole of the UK’s right-wing press interests (about 85% of the whole) which want the UK as a deregulated offshore Black Hole, plunged ever further into the destruction..

    6) Liz Trussolini is a CAKEIST PM and she got into No.10 as an unconditional surrender to Cakeism! She didn’t care what she had to do to get into office and offered the worst, Cakeist free-marketism as pledges both to her inability to understand the UK’s economy and having sold her soul to the Market Mephistopheles, Crispin Otiose.

    7) Cakeism has gotten stronger and stronger in the Blue Tory party and it doesn’t matter when Trussolini is fired, the Bruges Brownshirts are not going to work with a Sunak/Mordaunt partnership – having achieved control of No.10, why would they give it up?

    8) At some point in this chain of chaos a general election becomes inevitable; under FPTP the best result the UK could expect (a pretty awful one) would be a balanced, Red-Blue-Orange Tory split with the Greens doing a lot better. This seems unlikely.

    9) Another consequence of that election would be the Farageist/Cakeist/EDL section of the electorate (an increasing component of the Blue Tories) doing what their friends the US GOP are doing and call it a fraud, backed by our hard-right MSM – that way leads further chaos. Sir Keir Voldemort’s Tory Labour will continue to under-perform since no-one with a social conscience will vote for them and the FibDim Tories will do a lot better than usual.

    10) Ummm, that’s about it, save only to say that since the Tories are now dominated by Cakeism, expecting them to pull back from the brink is very unrealistic…

  21. jsn

    The problem Davis Bell is up against is there are any number of massive tech companies, from Apple to Uber who’ve made it their business, one way or another, to steal from their workers: Apple by colluding on engineering hires with it’s competitors; Uber by being, well, Uber.

    Trucking, the “gig economy”, Amazon and Walmart all pay wages only people on government assistance can live on.

    My own company has had the problem Bell is addressing, so I’m sympathetic, but the restructuring of the macro economy to favor business over the last two decades in particular make his case one only the petit bourgeoisie (like myself) can sympathize with.

  22. The Rev Kev

    ‘Moss Robeson
    Nothing to see here, just a senior policy advisor to the U.S. Helsinki Commission publicly drooling over his Ukrainian Nazi internet girlfriend.’
    aka damaged goods

    From that tweet you can see that that girl has plans to introduce Azov to the rest of Europe. Not just a regiment anymore but a movement! Considering how successful they have been in the Ukraine, if encouraged by organizations like the Helsinki Commission you do wonder how successful they will be in other countries in Europe. Their propensity to use violence will aid them here. And now they have all the weapons and money that they will ever need. I see that Germany is trying to work out if they can ban the AfD as they are getting too popular at 17%. If they do, that will open up a wide lane for Azov to enter Germany.

    1. digi_owl


      The WW2 generation is barely gone, and we are already embracing fascism again like it was Jesus returned.

      Bin Laden must be laughing like mad in whatever afterlife he ended up in. He really did manage to get the west to destroy itself. It just took longer than anticipated.

      1. nippersdad

        Something that also comes to mind often lately is that Lenin quote about capitalists buying the rope that they will hang themselves with. If you wait long enough some of these people look prescient.

        1. digi_owl

          I think it went more that capitalists will happily sell you the the very rope you will use to hang them by. As in they can’t stop trading even to their own long term detriment.

          That said, of late i have come to understand that it can’t really be traced back to Lenin.

          1. nippersdad

            Whomsoever said it, and you are right that its’ provenance is controversial, no one can deny that it was Western capitalists who turned over the means of production to places like China to make five tenths of a buck. To listen to them wail about how China is eating their lunch NOW is to laugh. The Donald making his hats in China even as he was going full bore populist was pretty funny to watch.

            Any way you look at it, it was not the proletariat that deindustrialized the West.

            1. digi_owl

              All nations have done it to industrialize more or less.

              USA got its textile industry going thanks to flagrant patent infringement vs UK.

              Germany supposedly became a nation of engineers thanks to non-existent copyright on textbooks.

              Effectively you do not become a player by following establishment rules…

        2. begob

          If he did say it in English, it was in a Dublin accent (noted by H G Wells): “De capitalists shall sell ye de rope boy which you will hang dem.”

    2. Michael Fiorillo

      I can’t wait until the State Department starts importing them into the US for, you know, “humanitarian” reasons.

  23. The Historian

    Re: The Bill of Rights for AI

    This is another example of the elites trying to make policy based on a VERY narrow understanding of AI. I know Dr. Venkatasubramanian is a computer scientist, but computer science and AI are two different fields nowadays and just being a computer scientist doesn’t necessarily mean you understand the issues with AI. In addition, he’s talking to CEO’s and other high level government types who only want to know what AI can do for them – they aren’t interested in the ‘side effects’ of AI if they don’t affect their company directly. He should be talking to people who are actually working on AI and understand its benefits – AND its hazards.

    One thing one of my children turned me onto is this:

    A sovereign fund in Australia is offering a prize to whoever comes up with the best informed predictions of where AI is headed.

    Here is one response. I know it is long and gets very ‘techy’ but it is also very scary if you read it closely:

    His basic viewpoint? If global warming, an asteriod, or nuclear war doesn’t kill us first, AI just might!

    But sadly, that Bill of Rights and the 5 points listed are already moot, first of all because of the ‘shoulds’ (should in govspeak means you can ignore it), but also because:
    1. How do you protect people from unsafe or ineffective automative systems? What is unsafe? I’m reminded of a Mentour Pilot video I saw on the Air Blue crash in Pakistan in 2010. The pilot told his plane to go to a heading to get out of danger. He thought the plane would turn left, but the plane’s computers did what it was supposed to do and turned the plane right – shortest distance to the point the pilot had selected – and flew into a mountain. Was that plane’s computer system ‘unsafe’ or ineffective? It worked great on many, many other flights. We just don’t know yet what AI will decide is ‘safe’ or ‘unsafe’ – or in what circumstances.

    2. No discrimination – good thought, but AI is used for medical analyses right now. It is going to determine sex and other features that make us individuals. What will it do with them? If we want it to eradicate some disease like breast cancer, will it decide the easiest way is to eliminate those with the highest genetic factors for breast cancer?

    3. Abusive data practices? We all know it is too late for that!

    4.Notification that AI is in use? Too late for that! AI is everywhere, and not just with WALL-E or speech translators. AI is used by insurance companies to predict future insurance needs and what treatments they should or should not support, by corporations to determine what decisions they should made, by companies deciding what products to sell, etc. You cannot get away from AI any more than you can get away from the use of any electronic equipment. It’s endemic in society.

    5. And that leads us to ‘opting out’. Good luck with that!

    *Disclaimer: I have three children who actively work with AI and another child who uses AI to make decisions for her company. That does not make me an AI expert – I only know what they tell me about AI – and most of it isn’t pretty! When AI makes decisions for itself, humans lose control of what it will do and AI often acts in weird and unpredictable ways – like Teslas stopping for shadows but not for pedestrians.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      I think we can skip unpacking the AI Bill or Rights — skip the AI Bill of Rights, re-open the HIPAA bill of patient rights — and jump straight to crafting a Human Right to privacy. At the same time it might be helpful to revoke the court hypothesized and enforced Corporate rights especially Corporate rights as an individual along with the special rights Big Money can so readily buy at legislatures and courts. I will not hold my breath waiting for any of that to happen. But I have extreme misgivings about any efforts claimed to be along these lines which the Biden administration might champion.

      I remember the Obama initiative to end Medical Insurance as we have come to know it. It made a nice bookend to match with Clinton’s HIPAA act. The HIPAA act later spawned the Obama HITECH initiative which “incentivized the adoption and use of health information technology, enabled patients to take a proactive interest in their health, paved the way for the expansion of Health Information Exchanges, and strengthened the privacy and security provisions of the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA).” []. With the medical data neatly collected into computer records to support billing and manage insurance risk, the birth of Obama Care was greased. Patient privacy was safeguarded by a short stack of legal forms presented to a patient which they were asked to sign before receiving care.

      The electronic data needed to support so-called AI has been amassed with abandon for many years now as new ways are found to collect ever more data with little restraint. Now the Biden administration is going to help us out with an AI Bill of Rights? Forgive me if I am skeptical about whose rights this bill will protect. I hardly need another ream of legal gobbledygook to wade through in order to legally alienate my Human rights if I should want to use the Internet, or any of the new and improved electronic billing, payment, and person monitoring schemes. I read the five points of protection advertised as part of the AI Bill of Rights as the punchline of a now twice-told sick joke.

  24. semper loquitur

    “Just curious about the appropriate tactics, because if the tomato soup idea was silly and alienating, and setting yourself on fire isn’t enough, and lawmakers criminalize protests, and blocking traffic is inconvenient, and books about activism get banned, what are the options?”

    I think this lady summed it up nicely. The answer: there aren’t any options. There aren’t any tactics. Stunts like the soup can debacle simply alienated vast swathes of the population. Almost no one was driven to change their thinking about climate disaster by it. More pointed efforts such as mobbing oil executives or camping out on the lawns of their mansions will be met with harsher and harsher security actions. When, not if, there is a violent action against someone the jackboots will be let off their leashes.

    The same thing applies for mass actions. Marches in the streets will be met with greater and greater resistance. The disinformation campaigns will be off the charts. All the old intra-class conflicts will be enflamed to keep the common folk at one another’s throats. New ones will be devised. It’s happening already.

    The petroleum energy sector is too powerful and entrenched. Was it here that I read of an oil executive stating that we will be using petroleum products for at least another 20 years? If 0.0 energy technology were to be developed tomorrow, it would be squashed. Someone posted the other day about how the steel industry stomped down on new developments that threatened their profiteering. What do you think the energy industry has done and will do?

    There will be no course corrections. Think that worsening climate conditions will spur more resistance? Think again, they will make it much, much harder to resist, in fact. As people become more desperate, more displaced, they will have less inclination to work together as they cling to what little they have. The short-sighted, greedy chimps at the top of the heap will, a la Scrooge McDuck, continue swimming in their hardened, well-stocked, secure vaults of gold coin while the world literally burns.

    Humanity is about to go through a phase-change. We are at the threshold of a new Aeon. It would be nice if the species could learn from it’s mistakes but if that is at all possible, I think it’s only by a tectonic reordering of our world.

    1. Glossolalia

      Sometimes there are no viable options. But when you’re in an echo chamber, as these activists probably are, sitting around nodding and each others ideas, it’s hard to accept.

      1. semper loquitur

        Yes, I think that is true. I also think it’s a Western? American? ideological thing: the “can-do attitude”, even in the face of implacable reality. I’ve encountered this a lot when I knew progressive liberal activists in the environmental movement. It’s the notion that doing something, even when there is nothing to be done, is better than doing nothing at all. A related idea is to do something to avoid doing something else, like when I proposed to the group that we get involved in some anti-nuclear power protests at an aging and unsafe plant in New Jersey and was told we were going to focus our efforts on long-life lightbulbs instead. I called it the Charge of the Lightbulb Brigade to the consternation of the group.

        I once got into a hot conversation with the Pwoggressive wife of a friend concerning the Bush-Kerry election. I sat it out, based on the fact that Kerry wasn’t going to really do anything to change the problems this woman was saying she was going to help solve by voting for him. I discussed his pro-war record, his corporate ties, etc., etc.

        She shot back that she was choosing to “fight”, no matter what. So, no matter the historical record or the current state of play, she was choosing “action”. We had to do something!! We all know how that unfolded.

        Knowing what I now know about the PMC and their sub-variant, the liberal progressive, I see another angle in addition to the warm fuzzies of wishful thinking and motion for it’s own sake. It’s the onanism of moralizing. When faced with a situation about which nothing can be done, to do something, anything, no matter how useless is to garner unto oneself the satisfaction of having tried. Of having gone down fighting! It is, ultimately, an incredibly arrogant position to take. I’m glad I have a much, much broader view of things now, a Cosmic view.

    2. Tom Pfotzer

      I have a question: suppose the Aeon hits tomorrow, in whatever form it takes. Big bang, or a anticlimactic hiss of air from the balloon.

      What will you do then? Mentally, please write the answer here. _______________________.

      OK. Please tell me why you can’t do ____(your answer above, written here)______ now?

      I have news for us NC readers: industry is waaaaaayyyyy ahead of us in terms of adaptation.

      Oil and gas industry my arse.

      Here’s a look inside Cummins – the big industrial concern, diesel-engine manufacturer, poster-boy for enabler of all things fossil-fuel.

      This is their roadmap of how to evolve their company so it does all the cool things we progressives want to see happen.

      Please show me some progressives that have put something like this together, and are executing a roadmap this good.

      Stuff can be done. By us. Don’t hide under the bed; we’ll all croak if we do.

      1. Eclair

        Interesting. They take water, apply an energy-intense electrololytic process, and split the water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen.

        Ya think Cummins is planning on buying up property bordering the Great Lakes?

  25. robert lowrey

    Taibbi or not Taibbi: “If more oil executives saw and understood “The Sunflower” there would be less pollution” … Is he for real?

    Let’s put that another way: ” “If more arms manufacturers saw and understood “Guernica” there would be less War.”

    Guernica was completed 2 years before the outbreak of WW2 … according to Taibbi’s moronic logic, if only Hitler and his Wehrmacht had seen it, the Luftwaffe would have dropped less ordnance on the heads of innocent peoples. What nonsense; art is a sop. Like “Green” or “Clean” energy, it does more to enable the continuing destruction of everything than disable it. Actual living artists can barely eke out a hand-to-mouth existence while dead artists are lavished with multi-million dollar sales as art has become little more than an investment for the nouveaux ultra riche.

    1. digi_owl

      I guess the artist needs to be dead for their art to become valuable. As then they can no longer debase the value by producing more art…

      1. ambrit

        I can think of ‘artists’ who’s “art” dropped in value after they, and the endless self promotion campaigns they undertook while alive, “shuffled off this mortal coil.” Sadly, like the fictional composer Tcholodenko in a science fiction story I cannot at present recall, once the deal with the Devil is ended by Death, the glamour fades and reality reasserts itself.

    2. semper loquitur

      Soon, those living artists will be displaced in the public’s eye and mind by AI “artists” who offer as much art as a McDonalds offers food…

    3. hk

      For christssakes, military thinkers, every one of them in former Entente countries, spent two decades how to effectively bomb civilians. Churchill was exasperated as to what the point of all the theorizing was if they weren’t actually being used against enemies of the British Empire in places like Iraq, complete with poison gas. I get really mad at sappy talk like Taibbi’s at times.

  26. ambrit

    Suddenly Maxwell is news again. Do notice that she is residing in what is generally known as a “Club Fed” facility. Even the judge at her trial complained about not sending her to a ‘Hard Time’ facility.
    I personally was hoping that she would be sent to Camp Delta at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. She is English, and, arguably, a terrorist. The perfect case for the “ambiguous” classification of ‘detainees’ at that facility.
    I’m thinking that Assange will be flown directly to Guantanamo Bay from London when his extradition is “approved.” As a foreign national who “terrorized” the National Security State, (by exposing their crimes to the world,) he would be a perfect fit there.

  27. semper loquitur

    The overemployment article is a fun read. I have a question for the CEO: if there is a moral obligation on the part of the employee regarding their relationship to the firm, what is the reciprocal obligation? Does the employee get a say when faced with a lay-off because the board decides they want to increase profits by a half a percentage point?

    No, of course not. Further proof that PMC moralizing is all about power plays, it’s about feeling justified telling others how to live their lives. After washing one’s own sins away by making a performative statement about equity and hiring some tokens.

  28. Tom Pfotzer

    We all know where Russia, China and Iran stand on the subject of a multi-polar world.

    Some months back, I asserted that Germany, Turkey and India were the remaining key decision-makers on the game-board.

    Here’s the latest from India’s articulate, experienced former diplomat, MK Bradrakumar. It’s stark, decisive, and absolutely devastating.

    The velocity of the U.S. empire’s key-support exodus is increasing. Russia invites Turkey to become a key energy-transport hub. Mercouris – Christoforou video, 10 mins. More bad news for Empire.

    We all know where Germany stands at the moment (nearly wrecked). Will it recover its bearings and re-assert sovereignty?

    If it wasn’t so awful to watch, this would all be really exciting.

    NeoCons probably should start chartering some airplanes. This is coming apart fast.

    It’s reminiscent of the World Trade Center buildings.

    1. digi_owl

      Speaking of WTC, a Russian fighter jet apparently crashed into an apartment building in a Russian city on the Black sea coast.

    2. ArvidMartensen

      And if diplomacy is about winning hearts and minds then we have the stark contrast of
      1. the US stealing Afghanistan’s foreign reserves and letting the people there starve vs
      2. Russia just sent over 65 tons of humanitarian aid.
      Now let me think, which of the two countries will the Afghani rulers be happier to deal with?

  29. Judith

    Henry Moon Pie:

    The Link “Ever more land and labour Aeon” may be of interest to you. The author is part of something called the Community Frontiers Initiative and mentions “sustainability and resilience”.

    The Commodity Frontiers Initiative aims to systematically catalogue, study and analyze a wide variety of commodity frontiers over the past 600 years. It strives to understand the role of the countryside and its people in the history of capitalism through an integrated and interdisciplinary research design that combines local in-depth studies with innovative methodologies such as the creation of large data hubs, data visualization, mapping and ethnography. By providing a long historical perspective on problems that are often assumed to be modern, and linking historical and contemporary research, the Initiative will endeavor to recast our thinking about issues of sustainability, resilience and crisis and thus contribute to the politics of our own times.

    Regards, Judith

  30. Oguk

    Wow! The Meta article on The Wire has been taken down. “This story has been suspended from public view pending the outcome of an internal review process on The Wire‘s Meta coverage.” Hmmm. Can’t think why that would happen.

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