Links 10/25/2022

Snake escape shuts down Swedish zoo Bangkok Post (furzy)

Penguin feathers may be secret to effective anti-icing technology PhysOrg (Chuck L)

Philippines: Student ‘anti-cheating’ exam hats go viral BBC (resilc)

Experiments Spell Doom for Decades-Old Explanation of Quantum Weirdness Quanta (David L)

The biological research putting purpose back into life Aeon (Anthony L)

Epic’s overhaul of a flawed algorithm shows why AI oversight is a life-or-death issue STAT

Being just 5kg overweight increases odds of needing new knees by up to one-third, Australia study finds South China Morning Post




Math Scores Fell in Nearly Every State, and Reading Dipped on National Exam New York Times (resilc). Attributed to Covid, but: NYC students took hit in math, gained slightly in English, during pandemic New York Post. Could very much use reader assistance. I tried searches, and found no evidence of remotely similar declines in the UK or France. Is this just search sucking or did the US do a particularly lousy job with remote learning during Covid? Recall in addition that the UK had more strict lockdowns than the US did.


Plastic Recycling a ‘Failed Concept,’ Study Says CBS

United States of megadrought Politico


What would a US war with China look like? Responsible Statecraft

China bulls hammered by stock rout as Xi Jinping consolidates power Financial Times

Chinese Memory Maker YMTC Asks American Employees to Leave PC Mag (Kevin W)

Tesla cuts prices in China by up to 9% amid softening demand Seeking Alpha (resilc)

US charges alleged Chinese spies in telecoms probe case BBC (furzy)

Huawei Investigation Was Targeted by Chinese Spies, US Alleges Bloomberg

The West Is Going To Declare China-Hands “Terrorists” Thorsten Pattberg (Chuck L)

Misreading Xi and the rise of Li Asia Times (Kevin W)

Xi Jinping’s party is just getting started BBC (resilc)

Inside Myanmar’s anti-junta rebel forces DW (resilc)

Old Blighty

Why I actually had one billion nominations, by Boris Johnson Daily Mash

Liz Truss inspires new Register standard of time The Register (Chuck L)

UK economy falls into recession, survey suggests Irish Times

The Guardian view on Rishi Sunak: profits in the City, austerity in the country Guardian (Kevin W)

Is Rishi too rich to be PM? Unherd. Deadly subhead: “People won’t accept austerity from a man with a heated pool.”

New Not-So-Cold War

Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova’s comment in connection with information about Kiev’s plans to stage a dirty bomb provocation Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation. (hat tip Tom Pfotzer). Notice in para 3, Zakharova describes where the dirty bomb is supposedly being built. It is hard to imagine that Russia has not brought at least these details to the attention of its major allies, and if the intel is good or at least colorable, this puts a crimp in the plans, since the entire point is to pin the tail on Russia. See also: Russia ready explain to everyone interested what Kiev’s plotting, diplomat says TASS. This appears to be based on later remarks or perhaps the Q&A.

From Rev Kev after I saw the above: LAVROV CONFIRMS INFORMATION THAT KIEV INTENDS TO USE “DIRTY BOMB” FALSEFLAG Bitchute. Russia not backing down. Lavrov says (contra Western claims) that Russia is supplying info.

Source: Russia Requests UNSC Meeting on Kiev’s ‘Dirty Bomb’ Plans Sputnik

US breaks ice, Russia thaws Indian Punchline (Kevin W). Hopefully correct re trajectory, but the messaging is going full bore the other way, as in promoting escalation. Also overlooks that State and the CIA really want a war with Russia, while the Pentagon does not, and State and the CIA seem to have Biden’s ear.

* * *

Frustrating not to be able to get updates on if and how much electrical grid and other shelling Russia has done overnight, since it’s an indicator of pacing and objectives, as well as the degree to which Ukraine is getting better at shooting down Russian missiles and drones. The MSM has gone pretty quiet on this topic and Twitter is not very good. This is a new item but it reflects past damage and the likely pace of repairs, not any action as of 10/25:

* * *

Business groups say bans on Russian aluminium will decimate European industry Reuters (guurst)

Russia becomes second largest gas supplier to China, surpassing Australia Interfax

The price of gas in Europe fell below $1,000 per thousand cubic meters Teller Report

Russian Oil Logistics In Chaos With Weeks Until Sanctions Bite Bloomberg (guurst)

* * *

Progressive Caucus tries to clarify call for Biden to find diplomatic solution to Ukraine The Hill

Whatever Happened to the Antiwar Left? American Conservative

Ukraine: German President Steinmeier arrives in Kyiv DW

* * *



Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Ring Cameras Are Going to Get More People Killed Vice (resilc)

We Need a New Paradigm to Halt the Unprecedented Growth of Electronic Monitoring Truthout

Imperial Collapse Watch

America’s electric utilities facing transformer shortage crisis The Hill

Some Media Won’t Tell You When The Saudis Snub Biden Moon of Alabama


Congress, NGOs Putting Pressure on White House to Sanction Africans Libertarian Institute (Kevin W)

Biden targets Nicaragua’s gold in new move against Ortega Associated Press


Trump Plans to Challenge the 2022 Elections — Starting in Philadelphia Rolling Stone

Justice Thomas temporarily blocks Graham subpoena from Georgia grand jury Politico (Kevin W)

RNC Sues Google Over Spam Email Filters Reuters

Police State Watch

The Deadly Cost of Police Welfare Checks Counterpunch

St Louis: Three dead, seven injured after school shooting BBC (furzy)

Google’s Eric Schmidt Helped Write AI Laws Without Disclosing Investments In AI Startups CNBC

Class Warfare

Renters Hit Breaking Point in a Sudden Reversal for Landlords Bloomberg

After a UPS worker’s suicide, employees disclose ‘tragic’ conditions at largest facility Guardian (resilc)

Florida needs workers to rebuild after Ian. Undocumented migrants are stepping in. Washington Post (resilc)

Ethnic Studies Point Magazine (Anthony L)

Woman Murdered, Dismembered Her West Ridge Landlord After Getting Eviction Notice, Police Say Block Club Chicago (resilc)

Antidote du jour (CV):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

And a bonus (Peter D):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Antifa

    (melody borrowed from Sloop John B by the Beach Boys)

    We were waitin’ on World War Three
    My grandfather and me
    Nothing but more nuke threats over the wire
    The Ukraine proxy war
    Had no exit door
    So the missiles flew — now the whole world’s on fire

    A white light that’s off the scale
    A moment for your regrets
    The blast wave hits and it melts you down to your bones
    You’re overexposed!
    There’s no tomorrows!
    (yeah yeah)
    Nobody told us. Who coulda known?

    (instrumental interlude)

    A war of choice in Ukraine
    For geo-political gain
    Survivors now count half-life’s and beta decay
    No birds and no bees
    Radiation disease yeah yeah)
    The sky is so dark can’t tell night from the day

    A white light that’s off the scale
    A moment for your regrets
    The blast wave hits and it melts you down to your bones
    You’re overexposed!
    There’s no tomorrows!
    (yeah yeah)
    Nobody told us. Who coulda known?

    We all lost in a battle of wits
    We all could have called it quits
    Still everyone will say that we were not warned
    Billions of souls
    Ashes in craters and holes
    The last of us die unknown and unmourned

    A white light that’s off the scale
    A moment for your regrets
    The blast wave hits and it melts you down to your bones
    You’re overexposed!
    There’s no tomorrows!
    (yeah yeah)
    Nobody told us. Who coulda known?

    1. Wukchumni

      There’s a world where I can go
      Tell my secrets to

      In my mushroom
      In my mushroom (in my mushroom)

      In this world I lock out
      All my worries and my fears

      In my mushroom
      In my mushroom (in my mushroom)

      Do my dreaming and my scheming
      Lie awake and pray?
      Do my crying and my sighing
      Laugh at yesterday?

      Now it’s dark after the toadstool in the troposphere and I’m alone
      But I won’t be afraid of a fallout zone

      In my mushroom
      In my mushroom (in my mushroom, in my mushroom)
      In my mushroom (in my mushroom, in my mushroom)

      In My Room, by the Beach Boys

    2. Hank Linderman

      Oh Beautiful
      For specious lies
      To make us think we’re free
      But we’re the marks
      Fed to the sharks
      And yet we still believe

      Has promises to keep
      Our people die
      And our children cry
      While justice blindly sleeps

      Those beautiful
      Drug companies
      The billions that they squeeze
      From families
      Who lose their homes
      Addicted and diseased

      You’re on your own you see
      Put profits first
      The poor be cursed
      So pay up (or die) if you please

      Oh beautiful
      For Wall Street Banks
      Who bribe and grift and stink
      We bail out all
      Their bankruptcies
      That take us to the brink

      Free markets ain’t so free
      Keep pockets lined
      The people blind (and fighting)
      Divided and extreme
      Kill hopes and dreams
      With corporate greed
      From scheme to slimy scheme

      © 2022 by Hank Linderman
      All Rights Reserved

      I expect to have more verses coming along.


      1. flora

        I won’t leave the link for the youtube episode of Dr. Drew and Dr. Kelly interviewing RFKjr ( persona non grata here, I think). I found it worth watching and pertinent to your lyrics. Very good lyrics, too.

        1. Hank Linderman

          Thanks Flora, here’s one I actually use while campaigning:

          Oh beautiful
          For those who came
          Adventurer and slave
          To build a home
          Where freedom rings
          Land of the free and brave

          God shed her grace on thee

      2. John Zelnicker

        Wow! Another hat trick of songs today for the NC Songbook.

        Thank you Antifa, Wukchumni, and Hank.

  2. YuShan

    “Philippines: Student ‘anti-cheating’ exam hats go viral”

    In the Philippines, it is quite common to pay your teacher, or do chores for them, to get higher grades. I saw that some time ago in a youtube video, where they interviewed a group of young Philippine people about life in the Philippines. When one of them mentioned this, others confirmed that this was indeed the case, so it is clearly no exception.

  3. DJG, Reality Czar

    Progressive Caucus, always fighting for you: Jayapal goes full Madeleine Albright:

    “Diplomacy is an important tool that can save lives — but it is just one tool,” she wrote. “As we also made explicitly clear in our letter and will continue to make clear, we support President Biden and his administration’s commitment to nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine.”

    “But it is just one tool,” still another foreign-policy genius tells us. Heck, there are coups d’état, sanctions sanctions sanctions, the Fidel Castro exploding cigar, appearances on talk shows with Antony “Banality of Evil” Blinken, re-filling Guantánamo. Lotsa tools. Except peace. We wouldn’t want peace to break out.

    Good. Line them up. Sign them up at the induction center. Give them their uniforms. Ship them over to the Wrong Side of Kherson. Nancy Pelosi can be in charge of ice-cream deployments.

    1. pjay

      Ryan Grim’s reaction; the title says it all: ‘House Progressives Float Diplomatic Path Toward Ending War in Ukraine, Get Annihilated, Quickly “Clarify”’

      “Whatever Happened to the Antiwar Left?” provides a good description of the situation, showing how ideology can be twisted 180 degrees to justify the same psychopathic policies to self-righteous “progressives”. But it does not really provide much of an explanation. There is a large history of “the left” being infiltrated, co-opted, bought off, blackmailed, and when these efforts don’t work, destroyed. But this seems to be the one thing at which the National Security Establishment has improved over the years.

      1. nippersdad

        I don’t claim to understand where the anti-war left went, but I sincerely doubt that it was subdued by the idea that our troops can now wear kilts if they want to (as, apparently, is the case now in Canada). Your average person just is not all that into pronouns in the face of a potential nuclear war.

        What appears to have happened to me is that all of the usual loci of opposition have been bought out in much the same way that the BLM Movement was. So, yeah, it really does look like the Blob has upped its’ game. That just looks like the only rational answer.

      1. GramSci

        I recall seeing them announce that a couple weeks ago–not that I otherwise paid attention.

        I recall they said something like “go use twitter”.

      2. Randy

        They were disabled early last summer, I can’t remember exactly when. No loss. the comments were very unruly anyway.

  4. Wukchumni

    Being just 5kg overweight increases odds of needing new knees by up to one-third, Australia study finds South China Morning Post
    I don’t think being overweight is as much of a burden on your knees, as compared to the likely culprit of never really having to walk anywhere aside from short distances after you park your car, use it or lose it rules may apply.

    I walk a few miles here and there, and one leg is always stationary as I perambulate alternating the shift of all the weight in the world (er, as far as i’m concerned) upon an appendage. So far-so good with the bee’s knees.

    I’ve got a few friends who are serious runners about my age and they’ve got knee issues up the wazoo from all that serious pounding where often they actually appear to be levitating ever so slightly in between momentary mandatory gravitational pull bringing them back to Earth.

    1. Carolinian

      I blew out my knees bicycling and then switched to walking only for several years and now my knees are fine. And I’ve gone back to bicycling too. Seems when you get older you have to baby your joints.

      1. Irrational

        And do exercises I can add after a couple of (small) meniscus tears. Physiotherapist has given me a good list of exercises, just need to be disciplined about doing them. ;-)

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          You probably do it already but single most important knee exercise is the Peterson Step. Strengthens the vastus medialis, the most important muscle in stabilizing the knee. You can find instructions on YouTube. Walking up steps backwards approximates it but is more of a range of motion than you need to isolate the vastus medialis.

          1. Irrational

            Thanks, will check it out. I think my toughest one is something like “eccentric hamstring curl using a Swiss ball” and then some balancing and step exercises.
            Btw, sending good vibes your way to give you the energy to deal with the house, its contents and your family. Doing the first two is enough – had to do it 25 and 10 years ago, but there was no family to argue with, just me, myself and I.

          2. Wukchumni

            Most everybody I know does this as an ad hoc exercise and one thing about walking in the mountains means a lot of uneven surfaces to contend with, which focuses on all things foot.

            Walking through scree fields with VW Bug sized boulders at every angle of repose on the ground is good training too, ha.

            In mountaineering and hiking, the rest step is a human walking gait used in ascending steep slopes. Its essential characteristic is a pause of motion with the rear leg vertical and fully extended, while the front leg is relaxed except as needed to adjust the balancing of the climber’s body and burden on the rear leg. (Wiki)

            1. Anthony G Stegman

              On steep slopes (snow or not) I often use the French Step which takes pressure off the knee as well as provides better purchase.

            2. ex-PFC Chuck

              Re: “Walking through scree fields with VW Bug sized boulders at every angle of repose on the ground is good training too, ha.”

              There’s a portage in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area wilderness in NE MN where the last 20 yards are over boulders. Not VW size – more like medicine balls. Fun carrying your 70 lb, 17′ canoe over that at the end of a half mile trek from Ella to Grace lakes, a ways in from the Sawbill Lake entry point.

      2. Ignacio

        I am now bicycling more than running (running is generally more risky for knees than biking, specially when overweight) but in my case it is not knees but the twin muscles what tend to break when running, again in part because I gained a “few” extra pounds. Bicycling is in some cases recommended to reinforce knee musculature when needed to keep the articulation but i guess it can sometimes be problematic with other knee issues. This is such a complex articulation!

    2. LY

      I’m a minimalist runner and hiker. That encourages me to land on my mid-foot or even forefoot, so the foot arch, Achilles, and calves work together to absorb the impact. But if you’ve spent most of your adult life wearing restrictive shoes, that’s not going to help.

      I’ve also played a lot of soccer on bad fields. As I’ve aged decades past my prime, I’m now more than 5 kg overweight. My ankles are not good, but knees are fine. Only serious knee issue I’ve had was jumpers knee, and that was from hopping around while my other ankle was in wrapped up.

      As for exercises, I was doing something like one legged squats, which actually seem like a more extreme version of Peterson Step.

    3. WhoaMolly

      After a foot injury I started using two hiking poles when walking.

      Pressing down on the poles as I walk reduces the weight on knees and joints by about 35 pounds. Best of all, the poles don’t look like canes or a walker. It’s also a mild upper body workout.

      1. Anthony G Stegman

        The hiking poles provide the most benefit on downhill slopes as it takes pressure off the knees and transfers it to the arms and shoulders. The use of hiking poles can provide more than a “mild” upper body workout if used properly.

    4. ArvidMartensen

      Last year I intentionally lost about 11% of bodyweight due to cholesterol and blood sugar going up, and at the same time started to walk about 4 km a day. Then started to jog, from 100 meters(heart thumping out of chest) to now about 1.8 km. All ok so far.
      Have been encouraged by the following stories:
      And info about what to do and what not to do

  5. The Rev Kev

    “Progressive Caucus tries to clarify call for Biden to find diplomatic solution to Ukraine”

    When I heard about this letter I thought that this was a good change. Got suckered again. Was just listening to Alex Christaforou talking about this letter and how it is actually packed full of neocon talking points. Having now read the actual letter I can see that he is right. The Progressives are just doing what they usually do – give cover to the DC insiders and pretending to resist them. If you do not believe me, here is the actual letter which wasn’t even sternly written-

    And as this article makes plain, they are even trying to walk back the weak tea letter that they sent. So I guess that the idea of offering Putin an off-ramp because he is losing so bad is now disloyal or something? At this stage if the Squad all lost their seats soon, would it really make much of a difference? The people that heckled AOC the other day obviously think not.

    1. Ignacio

      Kind of whitewashing themselves from the mess they have helped to sustain. My hands are of your colour (colour of blood); but I shame to wear a heart so white.-Macbeth

    2. Stephen

      Jacob Dreizin had an interesting take on it, as ever.

      Effectively argues that this might be a smart political strategy. Keep the money flowing for the war (which to a cynic is what it is about anyway) but argue for some form of negotiation too.

      It may well be a nothing burger but other than Viktor Orban I am not aware of any other mainstream western politicians who have argued for negotiations at all. Which sums up the whole problem, of course.

      If Russia launches her offensive and clearly starts to destroy the Ukraine Army in a way that can no longer be hidden then I do wonder if we will see a broad western cry for a ceasefire. Will be interesting.

      1. Old Sovietologist

        I fear we wont get to that part before things have started to spiral out if control. I firmly believe that there are elements in the USA/UK who are are prepared to bring the house down if their plans for Ukraine start to disintegrate.

        A ‘dirty’ munition can be used. Ukraine shells a warehouse or the industrial zone of one of the cities now held by Russia. Among all the rockets fired, one is fired with a dirty nuclear charge. A nuclear explosion occurs and the Ukrainians will say we have hit an ammunition depot where “Russian terrorists” kept a nuclear warhead that they wanted to use to strike Ukraine. The Western populations will believe them.

        At that point Russia reduces Ukraine to ashes or maybe we all end up in the ashes.

        1. LawnDart

          My thoughts are is that by this point it has to be more than obvious to TPTB in the West that the Ukraine fascists are going to have their ass handed to them, regardless of the happy-talk and bullshit they and their medias shovel at us.

          But it makes sense for TPTB to shout “Winning!” because of course (according to our Western mythology), Russia could never win a fair fight, as the West has the bestest militaries and weapons and freedoms and all that goodness, so the only possible way Russia can win is if they fight dirty, right? Something heinous, something horrifying, something that will show to prove to the whole world how evil those rooskies really are…

          See? We told you all along Russia was desperate enough to use a nuke/dirty-bomb [same thing to simple minds].

      2. Roland

        Not just Orban. Also Erdogan–probably the most responsible statesperson to be found in NATO today.

        At times I have hated Erdogan, since I favour the loyalist side in the Syrian War. It disgusted me that a man who had once preached, “zero problems with neighbours,” would end up trying to topple a neigbouring goverment that had never threatened Turkey.

        Still, I think that Erdogan is at least a rational statesperson. “Agreement capable,” as it were.

    3. zagonostra

      I clicked on the link to the text and the first sentence reads:

      We write with appreciation for your commitment to Ukraine’s legitimate struggle against
      Russia’s war of aggression…. Your administration’s policy was critical to enable the Ukrainian people, through their courageous fighting and heroic sacrifices, to deal a historic military defeat to Russia, forcing Russia to dramatically scale back the stated goals of the invasion

      I remember reading Dante’s De Monarchia many years ago and somewhere at the beginning of the work he lays out some “first principles.” He tells the reader that if you are in disagreement with them, then there is no point in proceeding. In the same spirit, my attempt at reading the transcript had to stop with the first paragraph, there was no point in reading the rest.

        1. Old Sovietologist

          The sort of cowardly manoeuvre you expect from a bunch of democratic socialists who are expecting a bad elections result.

          The revolt lasted 24 hours probably the most ridiculous attempt at political revolt in history.

    4. Sin Fronteras

      I have a slightly different take. The fact that one paragraph argues for negotiations has to be what sparked the rage and fury. And that shows us that SecWar and Biden share a common line: “weaken Russia”, regime change Russia, and put Putin on trial for war crimes.

      Everyone is right about the neoCon bullshit in the letter, but the fact that THIS paragraph sparked such rage is a real tell.

      “Given the destruction created by this war for Ukraine and the world, as well as the risk of catastrophic escalation, we also believe it is in the interests of Ukraine, the United States, and the world to avoid a prolonged conflict. For this reason, we urge you to pair the military and
      economic support the United States has provided to Ukraine with a proactive diplomatic push, redoubling efforts to seek a realistic framework for a ceasefire. This is consistent with your recognition that “there’s going to have to be a negotiated settlement here,” and your concern that Vladimir Putin “doesn’t have a way out right now, and I’m trying to figure out what we do about that.” ”

      The Squad and Pramila have done us a favor: it is now clear beyond a shadow of a doubt what the US policy really is. WE may know that already, but now it is in writing, and peace-niks can use it as evidence.

      Evidence is a good thing. I started college in 1962 trying to figure out the Vietnam war, read lots of stuff back and forth. Then I came across Eisenhower’s memoirs where he admitted we prevented elections in 1956 (as called for in the accords ending the French war) because we knew Ho Chi Minh would win. This fact made everything fall into place, and I went on to teach classes in Vietnamese history at Seattle’s Free University a few years later.

  6. Milton

    Would someone kindly enlighten me as to why (and how) the West can have their panties in such a bunch over Russia’s potential use of a “dirty bomb” type weapon when the US had deployed depleted uranium weapons in Iraq during each of her campaigns. The extent of use may be in question (100s vs 1000s OR only Iraq vs other theaters) but there is no denying the US has used such weapons with numerous attributable deaths and devastating injuries. Western media is engaging (as always) in pure projection when describing how and why Russia may use the unprecedented and unthinkable in Ukraine.

    1. David

      Oh, it’s another outing for the DU stories. Depleted Uranium is so called because it’s a by-product of enriching uranium, and it is about half as radioactive as the naturally occurring element (hence “depleted.”) It has a whole host of applications, including shielding for radiological machines in hospitals, and counterweights in aircraft. Because it’s very dense and heavy, it makes a good penetrator for anti-armour projectiles, and many such were designed in the 1980s. These weapons are not “bombs” and they don’t “explode,” but they do disintegrate after penetrating tank armour. By that stage, of course, the tank crew are dead.

      Over the years there have been many allegations of health hazards from DU. Obviously the residue is less radioactive than other elements found in nature, but it’s true that if you get too close to the dust and inhale a lot of it it’s very bad for you. But it’s generally a bad idea to go near ordnance of any kind, anyway. It was probably a bad weapon to use in Iraq, not least because other projectiles would have been just as effective, without the surrounding political hysteria.

      1. Katniss Everdeen

        WTAF. “‘Probably’ a ‘bad’ weapon to use in Iraq?” “Political hysteria?” No shit, Sherlock.

        According to the 2010 study, called, “Cancer, Infant Mortality and Birth Sex Ratio in Fallujah Iraq 2005- 2009,” cancer in the city has increased four times in the general population since 2004 and childhood cancer is up 12 times from pre-attack levels. These cancers are of the same type as seen after the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, but at even higher levels. Since the Fallujah bombings, there has been a 38-fold increase in leukemia and a 10-fold increase in breast cancer compared to surrounding nations. Lymphoma and brain tumor incidence in adults has also seen a spike.

        The numbers are staggering. The incidence of birth defects after atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was one percent to two percent. After the attacks in Fallujah, the incidence is 14.7 percent. In the Fallujah General Hospital alone, birth defects increased by 17 times between 2003 and 2012. Before the violence, defects of this sort were seen once every two months. Alani says she now sees two or three cases per day.

        Most of these newborns suffer from defects to their heart or nervous system that often result in death, since the infants are simply “incompatible with life.” But there is a frightening array other of deformities as well. Alani says she has seen babies born with three heads, one eye in the center of the forehead or internal organs outside the body.

        Yup. Same old boring bitchin’ about depleted uranium. Why doesn’t everyone just get over it.

          1. Katniss Everdeen

            I’m a little embarrassed at my knee-jerk revulsion…er, reaction…to Davd’s comment. I have to learn to be more “respectful” of other people’s opinions, especially when it comes to punishing humans who resist american foreign policy imperatives.

            After all, uncle sam knows what’s best. From that same article:

            …During the assault, the U.S. classified all remaining residents as enemy combatants, and with no regard for the safety of those defenseless women and children, unleashed bombs made of depleted uranium and burned survivors with white phosphorus….

            How else can I expect the tidal wave of global enemy combatants to be stemmed if they are not eliminated in infancy? In the future, I will try to be more appreciative of the decisions being made by my government to keep me safe from every bad thing in the world, even though they may seem murderous and beyond bloodthirsty at the time.

            1. Val

              Thank you Katniss. Your response is, if anything, too mild. DU is a chemical weapon that does not dissipate. That the western public is too morally and intellectually degraded to grasp that is, well, one can only pray that karma is real. Fallujah resisted the empire’s whims, and empire had yet another demonic tantrum.

        1. David

          The issue is not whether the dust from DU ammunition is harmful, because it obviously is, just as virtually any ordnance is dangerous. The issue is deliberate attempts by journalists and special pleaders to somehow pretend that “nuclear weapons” or “uranium bombs” or whatever have been used, which is intellectually dishonest, but also serves to totally confuse the public about things like “dirty bombs.” A nuclear weapon is a nuclear weapon. A tank round with a DU penetrator is not a nuclear weapon.

          As for Fallujah, don’t forget that these battles took place in 2004, long after the invasion was over, and were fought not against the Iraqi Army, but against militias who had killed four Blackwater mercenaries. The militias had, as far as I know, no tanks, and the official US list of forces involved gives only one tank battalion. It was overwhelmingly an infantry and artillery battle. The A-10 aircraft, which was the only aircraft that used DU ammunition, is not listed as having been involved either. Since DU rounds are useless in such situations, I would require some convincing that somebody thought they were worth using at all, let alone in the quantities required to cause these illnesses.

          A few years later I happened to be slightly involved in the Kosovo crisis, and I remember there were similar claims then. They largely died away when it was pointed out they were from areas where DU rounds had not, in fact, been used. But then as they teach at journalism schools, never let the facts get in the way of a good story.

          1. Vikramaditya

            In 2000, the population of Fallujah was 185,000. In 2003, the US allowed 70,000 women and children to leave Fallujah, but all men were prevented from leaving the city and many women and children remained. The city was then systematically destroyed and every living person was killed – with white phosphorus (also known as napalm) – leaving only a handful of survivors. But what makes this workday slaughter one of the greatest war crimes in history is the fact that the US sprayed both depleted and enriched uranium on the town, before letting the women back in. The images of the indescribable tangle of shredded flesh and viscera that these women then gave birth have been extensively documented. So forgive me, David, while I puke all over your immaculate English brogues as you dot the i’s and cross the t’s and qualify and pontificate about “facts” getting in the way of a “good story.”

            1. David

              You’re welcome, although I wasn’t there and I can’t confirm or deny what you say. It’s well known that the two battles of Fallujah were absolutely devastating to the city (I remember seeing the pictures at the time.) There is no doubt either that large numbers of civilians died in the two battles, especially the second. The Red Cross estimated 800 dead, the Iraq Body Count figures were higher, and some local NGOs claim anything up to 4-6000. You are free, of course to dispute these figures, and you may have access to better sources. In any event, around 200,000 people fled the town, and many could not return for years afterwards.

              But I really don’t understand why you want to vomit all over me for suggesting that these deaths were from explosives and other conventional weapons, rather than from DU. Does it matter how people die? As I have pointed out, use of DU would be pointless in such a scenario of urban warfare. I have never heard anyone suggest that DU was used, as you suggest, directly as a weapon. It would be a pretty poor weapon, and you can’t “spray” it. How could you and what would be the point? If that were the case there would be photographs of troops with CBRN gear and special vehicles which I have never seen. Enriched uranium is by definition uranium which has been enriched in a centrifuge for use as fuel or ultimately for nuclear weapons. How do you suppose that was “sprayed”? What on earth would have been the point? White Phosphorous, on the other hand, does seem to have been used, and could certainly be behind at least some of the deformities.

              I know it can be disagreeable to have someone ask for evidence for something you feel strongly about, but there you are. I have the same problem when I try to talk to people rationally about Ukraine, among other issues.

            2. Grebo

              White phosphorus is not napalm, it’s even worse.

              Enriched uranium is extremely expensive and not useful as a weapon except in an atom bomb.

              Making mistakes like that undercuts your otherwise righteous outrage.

            3. The Rev Kev

              Vikramaditya was right about stopping people leave that city. American snipers who shoot at people trying to do so and that included those trying to cross the river as well. I guess the idea that anybody trying to leave a city that was about to be a battlefield must be an insurgent or something. I was reading how US tanks would go down a street and fire a round into each building before going back for more ammo. But something that was very suspicious was this. When the battle was over, US Army bulldozers went in to scrape up the top layer of dirt in that city and carted it away. Now why would they do that? And while I am about it, White Phosphorus was used against the insurgents which happens to place it in the category of chemical warfare. So a weapon by classification as one of mass destruction.

        2. hk

          I’ve been of the belief that DU is dangerous, not so much because of “radiation” reasons, let alone “nuclear,” but because Uranium is a toxic heavy metal. Using DU ammunition no doubt causes abnormal amounts of the stuff to pile up and may (probably) lead to long term health issues, BUT…

          I think David’s point is that there’s almost a willful willingness by many to conflate “nuclear” weapons with “radiological” or even merely “toxic” stuff, or at least draw equivalency thereof. This seems to be very dangerous attempt at disinformation.

      2. Ignacio

        If I remember correctly, Fisk reported that there were too many cases of weird cancers in young populations in Iraq after the war suggesting that some damage could do the radiation, not as intense as in native uranium but quite possibly still damaging. In this sense these could be called “dirty projectiles” though this looks to be in a different scale compared to what it is being talked about now.

          1. Ignacio

            This UK guidance report on depleted uranium leaves unanswered questions on cancer by radiation. It has some flaws, specifying the amount of radiation in terms of total energy emitted but not the kinds of radiation emitted and ability to penetrate the body of any of those (and if you do not include some specific data it can be interpreted that you are hiding it). It makes the IMO idiotic assumption that you just need to check if cancer probabilities increase from 1 in 4 deaths which is considered the “normal” (in whole life, I suppose) but you have to check real incidences by age, sex and type of cancer to see if there is real effect of DU radiation in cancer incidence. It doesn’t give any assurance on this and if anything tries to guess that if cancer cases can be hidden between the many reported cases without noticeable increases then, it is “statistically” safe.

            Lots of literature has been published some have put DU on the safe side while many others on the not so safe side. The most recent publication I have found is a systematic review finding that a majority of studies find a positive relation of DU exposure and cancer though the study finds a bias in such publications. Let me put an excerpt:

            While many recent reviews attempted to summarise the evidence regarding toxicity of weaponised uranium,8 11 22–26 only one was conducted systematically—and it focused on US Gulf War veterans.24 Compared with veterans, the Iraqi population has received scant attention in the DU literature, due partly to the politicisation of DU.

            Iraq sanctions also played a role, and prevented much of the needed research. Is that “politicisation”? To be sure the findings on veterans show real damage and this last paper explores the mechanisms involved in damage by DU exposure in what was called the gulf war illness or syndrome.

      3. John Steinbach

        The issue with DU toxicity is that when the DU projectile hits a target (ie tank), it totally disintegrates spewing billions of tiny alpha-particle emitting micro dust particles that are carried long distances by the winds. These particles, when breathed in or ingested, are not only irradiating victims cells, but are extremely toxic chemically. The result in Fallujah & many other cities is sky rocketing rates of cancers & other serious health conditions.

      4. caucus99percenter

        “Nothing to cesium here, move along…”

        Incidence of horrible birth defects is still up in Vietnam due to all the Agent Orange (dioxin) the U.S. sprayed all around the place.

        Our ruling elite never faces accountability for anything.

      5. Anthony G Stegman

        The use of depleted uranium ordnance can rightly be seen as a war crime. Of course, the US is the exceptional nation, so international law never applies.

    2. GEH

      There is no proof that Ukraine is going to use a dirty bomb other than a Russian hack saying so. Yet Naked Capitalism posts three links with accusations. Support Russia much? LOL.

      1. Otis B Driftwood

        It’s not just a “hack”, but top officials in Russia making these accusations. US Sec of Defense Austin has taken them seriously enough to issue a denial.

        Maybe you should just read the NYT for your news?

      2. hunkerdown

        On my dream blog the URL field of these PMC attitude problems would be filled in with their IP addresses by staff. Their posts would probably get replaced with as much of the HTTP headers as I could recover.

        Not a demand or a request, just a vision.

      3. juno mas

        Um, NC posts all manner of Links. Some support Russia some extoll USA. It is for the reader to critically assess their merits. Try it!

      4. Kouros

        Yup, there was no proof of US biolabs in Ukraine either… /s
        Any proof provided by the Russians is pooh-pooed. Ukraine joining NATO is not a threat to Russia!

      5. ArvidMartensen

        The best way to disrupt any discussion and disagreement about any set of facts that expose a person/bureaucracy or government as being two-faced liars, is to resort to gaslighting – that skill of being able to call day as night, dispute that harm ever occurred even contrary to all evidence of physical harm.
        Tipping people into frustration and anger is a tried and true method of closing down discussions with facts you don’t like. It cuts down the chances that any new information is presented or listened to.
        Some people just call them out as trolls, others ignore them. Not sure what the best approach is.

  7. The Rev Kev

    ‘The Ukrainian national energy company Ukrenergo announced that it has limited the supply of electricity to industrial consumers throughout Ukraine.’

    Here is a link from yesterday showing the lack of lights/power in Kiev and Odessa. The places with lights must have their own generators- (33 secs)

    1. Milton

      I’m still waiting for the night sky satellite imagery of Ukraine to be made public. I’m sure if this happened to a hostile country it would be immediately published.

        1. caucus99percenter

          There may well be a Big Flipflop soon? That would be when our leadership caste suddenly switches to the message, “Lights out and thermostats down for the Earth (and Ukraine); a standard of living like North Korea’s is green and good!”

        2. Anthony G Stegman

          One can imagine the lust capitalists will display towards North Korea if and when the north and south are reunited. South Korea is pretty much spent as far as opportunities for exploitation. By contrast, North Korea is nearly virginal with vast resources to be exploited.

      1. cfraenkel

        You could keep an eye on the live stream from the ISS.
        It’s currently over Brazil. Just eyeballing the tracker map, it should be over the area in 6 ~ 9 hours. If you’re lucky, it’ll still be night, and some of the area might be clear of clouds.

    2. Old Sovietologist

      “Frustrating not to be able to get updates on if and how much electrical grid and other shelling Russia has done overnight, since it’s an indicator of pacing and objectives, as well as the degree to which Ukraine is getting better at shooting down Russian missiles and drones. The MSM has gone pretty quiet on this topic and Twitter is not very good”.

      I think there’s probably a simple answer. Third parties are involved on the negotiation front and Russia is happy to allow them to fail before resuming.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        Russia is not negotiating, or more accurately, talking about the dirty bomb allegations does not = broader negotaitions. This is a fantasy promoted by Military Summary who is regularly way out over his skis.

        The Russian public and leadership are dead set against it. And Biden has nixed it too. He said Ukraine must decide when Ukraine passed a law barring negotiations.

        But there are reports of calls between second level military officials. And the UN inspectors are going in. Big big win for Russia. They are sure to harrumph they found nothing but inspectors going in will stop any Ukraine action for now and also sends a signal of disapproval.

    1. divadab

      Yes well Tesla doesn’t own parts of the Chinese government and is operating in a pure competitive market. Pfizer, on the other hand…….

      1. Michael Ismoe

        The Inflation Reduction Act is a couple billion dollar giveaway to Musk and his companies. You may want to check to see who owns whom in DC. Musk is not Henry Ford.

  8. russell1200

    18 months (versus normal 3) for utility transformers.

    Sounds about right: the electrical infrastructure for large institutional size buildings are running at 60+ weeks.

    We are in the slow motion version of those Solar Flare/EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse) apocalyptic prepper novels. Utility transformers go down, and society collapses as they can’t replace the downed systems quickly enough. Granted, the math/modeling on these Solar Flare/EMP scenarios is a bit dubious, but it does seem like they picked their bottle neck appropriately.

    1. Wukchumni

      If a solar flare or EMP attack ensues and Cali is powerless, a great thirst would overcome about 35 million of us living oh so far away from water and dependent on electric pumps to bring the bounty to the mutineered.

      1. The Rev Kev

        People could jump in their cars and maybe drive to where the water is like dams and lakes but I do wonder. Would an EV car work after a heavy solar flare? Come to think of it, because of all the electronics in a modern car, would they even work?

        1. Wukchumni

          I’m thinking all electronics would be fried, and nobody walks in LA, but popular locations for a cholera outbreak among those who haven’t perished of thirst include Echo Park Lake, Lake Balboa, Silverlake Reservoir, the Hollywood Reservoir and a few other manmade puddles.

          For those with a bit of stamina, Pyramid Lake, Silverwood Lake, Big Bear Lake & the only real lake in the San Gabriels-Crystal Lake. These would entail a 50-75 mile walk.

          I get the heebee-geebies when i’m in the City of Angles and can’t wait to get back to Godzone, I wouldn’t want to get caught in that mess if something wicked that way comes.

          1. The Rev Kev

            Here Wuk. This might snare your interest-

            ‘The most intense solar storm in recorded history, known as the Carrington event, damaged nascent power and communication networks in the Victorian era.

            But Earth has been hit by radiation levels that were up to 100 times greater than this, according to a new study of spikes in radiocarbon stored in tree rings.

            The prevailing hypothesis has been that these spikes, known as Miyake events — after the Japanese scientist that first discovered them — were caused by solar storms.

            “There are six known [Miyake] events spanning nearly 10,000 years,” said astrophysicist Benjamin Pope of the University of Queensland.

            The most recent spikes occurred in 774 AD and 993 AD during the early Medieval period’


            Lots more detail in that article. The Carrington event was nuthin’.

        2. Amfortas the hippie

          way i remember it, old cars that have a Coil…you just replace the coil with one out of the box(in box, it aint grounded).
          but there aint very many of those kinds of vehicles any more.

          i keep 2 old microwaves with the power cords cut and soldered to a copper grounding rod(poor mans faraday cage)…in which i keep the shortwave radios and such.
          i have no idea how an alkaline battery fares with EMP, however.
          so…leyden jars?

    2. hunkerdown

      I know about the Zaporozhiya transformer plant going bye-bye, but I have to wonder if Ukraine orders aren’t cutting in line in the West or about to be, so maintaining that backlog. Would it be possible to tell a 330kV autotransformer from any other without a label?

      1. Alice X

        hunkerdown, I am curious what you meant by the term dirtbag left the other day. I asked and got three different opinions from three different people. Thank you in advance.

        1. hunkerdown

          More or less Bernie Bros. I wouldn’t say they agree with Brainy Smurf’s testosterone fetishism, or anything in particular, but they seem to agree pretty closely on the problem of elite self-sacralization (step 3). Just my impression.

          1. Alice X

            Thank you, but you’ve introduced even more terms. I was perhaps in error earlier to take the term Bernie Bro’ as a slur by liberals, but that was my impression. In any event, I don’t call liberals the left, if that explains my view more clearly.

        2. semper loquitur

          My opinion was incorrect. It doesn’t refer to the Identi-Left. As I understand it, “dirtbag left” refers to Bernie Bros and Jimmy Dore fans, if I recall caucus99percenter’s comments correctly.

          1. pjay

            It is a derogatory term for what *I* would consider the anti-imperialist left used by what I would consider the fake left – but of course terms like “left” or “anti-imperialism” are open to extremely divergent interpretations. It has also been used to smear anyone on the left who dares have a sympathetic word for deplorables.

            Yeah, the “Bernie Bros” used to be lumped in this group (back when I was one of them), but they’ve been safely emasculated now by Bernie himself, so I think they are ok with the good, acceptable lib-progs. Current dirt-baggers are not just irreverent personalities like Jimmy Dore, but also critics like Max Blumenthal or Aaron Mate who dare to question our wars against evil misogynistic fascist dictators like Putin or Assad.

            1. pjay

              Oops. I left out a key component of dirtbag leftism; anyone who questions Russiagate or the idea that Trump is the next Hitler (along with Putin, Assad, et al., of course) is a fellow traveler as well. Lookin’ at you Aaron Mate!

              1. Amfortas the hippie

                aye. please include my name in any list of “Dirt bag lefties”.
                a synonym for this that i use a lot in real life is “actual left”…clarified with the qualification, “…as in not the fake left, like hillary, brandon, etc”

                then, if the feed store guys(or whomever) aren’t overrrun with hunters(ugh), i can start talking about new new deal and rational foreign policy ideas(quincy inst.) or…given the audience…things like the 50 year farm bill.

            2. caucus99percenter

              Yes, I agree with both of your amplifying remarks here.

              And like Amfortas, personally I am quite happy to embrace “dirtbag left” as a term applying to myself.

              1. ambrit

                Anyway, the word “dirtbag” implies something organic, hence, “Green” and “Earth Friendly.”
                The Socratic Method works well. It is no wonder that the Elites of his day put the man to death.

          2. BeliTsari

            Robinson Meyer might’ve cut & paste “BernieBros,” 7 years before it came to mean: REAL Ken Galbraith, Henry Wallace Democrats; usually POPULAR Black working class females, AIPAC’s DMFI & United Democracy Project spent TENS OF MILLIONS, trying to crush (with DCCC & DNC help) apparently to throw another midterm election, to fulfill contractual obligations?

          1. pjay

            The Wiki article isn’t bad on the origins of the term, but it emphasizes style – vulgarity and irreverence – over substance, thus the focus on examples like Chapo or Dore. Liberal critics like Amanda Marcotte (mentioned in the article) used such “frat boy” antics to dismiss them, but the term has also been extended to serious critics who share their views on substantive policy. I mentioned Blumenthal and Mate because I’ve seen this term applied to them and the Grayzone crew, e.g. by the “anti-imperialists” (irony quotes intended) at Counterpunch. Along with others like Michael Tracey, they have also been so labeled by liberals and so-called progressives for having some sympathy for Trump voters and criticisms of Russiagate.

            I don’t mean to dwell on such definitional quibbles, but in my view this has been an effective tool in dividing what’s left of the left. E.g., part of the derogatory use of the term has been the “red-brown” smear – that dirt-baggers have been too quick to acknowledge or agree with those on the right who oppose US policy, like, say, Tucker Carlson or Vladimir Putin, thereby giving aid and comfort to “authoritarian” enemies. As I understand, Ben Norton, whose work I admire, left the Grayzone over such an issue.

            1. Ander

              See, I thought Ben had left the Grayzone over Max’s position on COVID19. Pure speculation on my part though

              1. pjay

                I think you are correct that COVID was an issue. The Grayzone guys were not “COVID deniers,” but they were critical of the vaccine propaganda and therefore the vaccine mandates. They were also sympathetic to the Canadian trucker’s protest, which I believe Norton characterized as a pseudo-populist stunt controlled by the far right. Some of his subsequent comments have sounded like the “red-brown” smears of liberals or the Counterpunch regulars. It is sad, because I liked Norton’s work. His temperament is a lot like Mate’s. He wrote a heartfelt article about why he was wrong about Syria early on, which I don’t believe Blumenthal ever did. I still read Multipolarista regularly. Nevertheless…

        3. Ander

          My understanding of the dirtbag left was that they’re the Trillbilly Worker’s Party types. A little nihilistic, a little antagonist, very hedonistic

        4. lambert strether

          > dirtblog left

          Coined for and perhaps by the Chapo Traphouse podcast. Equivalent of “foul-mouthed bloggers of the left” twenty years ago (coined by David Broder of blessed memory, IIRC. Same energy).

          1. lambert strether

            As usual, because liberals are at the “insult” end of the classification struggle, rather than the analytical end, the term morphed to cover “Bernie Bros” (itself a smear), Dore listeners, Aaron Maté followers, etc. The constant shape-shifting of one if the charms of liberal Democrats.

      2. Revenant

        Supposedly only the former USSR / Comecon countries use 330kV as a transmission voltage. The Ukraine will need to borrow whatever spares the Baltic States carry because the test of Eastern Europe has switched to EU grid standards.

    3. Lex

      And every time there’s a weather event that destroys transformers the pool of replacements decreases. All the generating companies operate in sort of emergency response co-ops. So a big storm on the East Coast will see linesmen and supplies like transmission line and transformers loaded up by generators in the Midwest to assist on the East Coast. It’s an elegant system of mutual aid that works really well. Except it does mean that no generator/operator maintains stocks to cope with a natural disaster (perhaps understandably) and that disruptions in supply of transformers can have long term effects that are difficult to predict. A storm like Ian combined with long lead times on new transformers could make responding to a terrible winter storm on the East Coast much more difficult.

  9. zagonostra

    The headlines that “The West Is Going To Declare China-Hands Terrorists,” “What would a US war with China look like?”, and of course the doozy article of the day, “The US Signals Readiness to Launch Nuclear Strike Against Russia,” can only be consumed with a large dose of fatalism.

    I’m curious how the folks who run NC haven’t lost their sanity or left their jobs. You think they would just walk off into the desert and get a good seat to view the upcoming show.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      That is a very considerate remark. I am super pessimistic by temperament, so that helps. Lambert probably has a different answer.

      Honestly, dealing with the news is way way easier than my life.

      I have to confess that I am very deeply traumatized by the burden of emptying and selling the house and figuring out where to move, so much that I do not want to get out of bed in my “morning”. There are simple seeming obstacles to which I have no good local answers, like how to determine if any of the stuff my mother had beyond a few obvious items, has any value. In NYC, this would be easy: someone from Doyle (the auction house that takes second-tier collectables) would come over, tell me what if anything they’d list and for what, they’d pick that up and the rest could be donated or sold via an estate liquidator. Here, aside from silver and china (as in, I can’t get answers. Even in the land of guns, the dealers who say they will give estimates on guns won’t respond on one very good double-barreled rifle (a local guesstimates worth $1000 but I need to firm that up).

      And it’s not as if I can pack this off to someone who does Ebay. Packing and shipping entails costs. I am not about to do that, I’d have to pay someone and it’s not clear that this is worth the fuss (the will allows me just to divvy up household contents, I don’t have to sell anything per se….but I do have to have an idea of what stuff is worth so I apportion it fairly in economic terms, so this is a circular problem).

      The house is also very dated yet the estate lawyer tells me I cannot fix it up or even spend money on staging. The most I can do is maintenance. And he further says I can’t not sell it even if the market is catastrophically bad, I am not in the business of real estate speculation.

      And please don’t tell me to take nice photos and e-mail. I don’t do photos. Photos have to be good and you have to organize them on your hard drive, write cover notes, etc….. Ten minutes is a lot of time for me. I’m already ginormously behind on organizing the expenses so far (I do have all the records). Oh, and icing on the cake, two visits in person to the bank and they are STILL unable to give me online access to the account out of which I have been making all the estate expenditures…

      In other words, I am dragging around the ball and chain of the house and its contents, have no idea where I go when I self-evict by selling it, and have no time to make real progress on these deadlines that are bearing down on me. The “where to go” and moving process is another massive stressor, since again in NYC I was able to hire a service to help with the organizing, and I have no one here, plus I dread the idea of not just picking a country and city, but a place (dealing with local leasing practices, furnishing when I hate shopping and decorating with the passion of a thousand burning suns).

      Sorry for going on. It likely sounds like high class problems to many readers. But when you literally have 30 hours of work you must get done in at most a 12 hour workday, cumulating backlogs, and hard deadlines with consequences, as in a self eviction timetable and no where to go, it’s draining.

      1. Carolinian

        Sorry. Personally I’m a born renter and wanderer and having a house was my brother’s idea. Some people are into it and some of us aren’t.

      2. Bruce F

        I’m sorry to hear about what you are going through. I hope you find a way through without too much more stress.

      3. Lexx

        ‘The house is also very dated yet the estate lawyer tells me I cannot fix it up or even spend money on staging. The most I can do is maintenance. And he further says I can’t not sell it even if the market is catastrophically bad, I am not in the business of real estate speculation.’

        I would be interested in knowing who the estate lawyer works for now that his client is deceased. And your mother’s bank, for that matter. I wonder who benefits from the sale of the house on the cheap? The lawyer? The friend of the lawyer in the real estate, house flipping business? Were these your mother’s wishes as explicitly stated in the will?

        None of my business of course, but this does raise a lot of questions.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Thanks for the interest but I am afraid you are being too paranoid.

          The lawyer represents me in my capacity as executor, not me personally. The lawyer is paid by the hour. He is neutral re any economic outcomes for the estate.

          Any broker is paid on as a percentage of the house price. The broker has every reason to maximize price. Before the runup in interest rates, broker basically said this house would sell only to a flipper, too dated/too much work for any family to want to do a fixer upper (despite house having a studio w/ a full bath separate from the main house, which means you could do a reno and not have to rent another place or live in a hotel). Or we could fix it ourselves, and get a nice turn, but with fighting heirs, that is not on.

          This is Alabama. Probate is a state law matter. This is how they do things here.

          The probate court seems to have a bizarre idea of what fiduciary duty amounts to. They give priority to getting the estate settled and money to heirs, even if speed is arguably at the expense of maximizing value. They don’t buy second guessing the market.

          Normally if the heirs were cooperative, there would be no/minimal time pressure. No one making noise to the court, no court clearing its throat re Doing Something.

          However, once the estate is past the 6 month period when creditors get to put in claims v. the estate (there will be none, my mother had no debts but this is a rigid provision), the youngest brother as heir can force me to sell the house as opposed to sit on it for potentially better timing (the normal best selling time is late spring, not sure he will be amenable to wait even that long).

          I have also been very much spoiled by having the privilege of working with top securities/regulatory lawyers in my prior life, and being very lucky in having a ferociously good and business-savvy small business attorney after that for about ten years.

          The probate bar does not have very good client service standards. I have been through three attorneys so far. The first who I very much liked quit when he found out the youngest brother was hostile. He did not do contested estates. He did not disclose that he does only estate processing, not the usual psychodrama. So I needed to upgrade to an estate litigator even though the odds of brother litigating are close to nada. But lack of litigation big bucks means I am a low end, low priority client. Second attorney disappeared for two weeks. No explanation re disasters, vacation, litigation demands. Radio silence to e-mails. VM full for 10 days. Unable to reach any assistant or para.

          I hired the firm, not him. I complained to a more senior partner re client abandonment and asked to be assigned to another partner. The non-communicative partner, within an hour of the e-mail complaint, sent me an e-mail firing me.

          I am filing a bar complaint. That won’t do anything re sanctions. But they don’t get that I have a platform and I will publish the bar complaint, which will mucho embarrass him and the firm. And they don’t have the web presence to retort effectively. The bar complaint will be a public record and they can do bupkis about my publicizing it.All they can do is send nastygrams which will allow me to further flog the story. They may eventually work out that they need to hire a reputation defender to bury my posts, but I guesstimate that will cost them at least $10K, way more than they got from me in fees.

          Long winded way of saying probate bar does not have great client service practices and that is made worse by my being a small client for a probate litigator.

          1. Lexx

            It ain’t paranoia if they’re really out to get you. I asked questions rather than made comments because I don’t know Alabama state law. Thanks for filling in some of the details.

            We’re two dramas down and one to go, if there’s a gawd. So far the only participants who have really made out are the attorneys. My husband’s mother is still alive and sitting on The Big Payout for her children (LLC partners) and her late husband’s, one of which is still living. MIL is in her late eighties and her children are closing in on retirement. It’s going to be nasty and soon. Not hostile exactly… openly… just not close relationships, with the specter of poverty in old age nipping at their heels. The older siblings get, the more it seems to just boil down to money. Who has it and who don’t. As my MIL used to chide her children, ‘Weigh and measure! Weigh and measure!’ ;-)

            But they’ll say it’s for “their children”*, which may be true but also a more virtuous cover than craven fear and greed.

            As for your platform, please let us know if there’s anything we can do to help. I had no doubt you could take care of yourself, I just wondered who and what you were up against. I don’t trust estate attorneys not to self-deal given the opportunity, a reputation they’ve earned.

            A bit of a lesson there… hire a partner vs. an attorney. We’re probably going to need one. I’ll ponder it for the battle to come.

            *Those “children” are in their mid-20’s to mid-40’s.

            1. Anthony G Stegman

              I’ve heard of realtors low balling selling prices in order to sell the home to a “friend” at a low price, then later re-sell for fair market value and split the proceeds. Some realtors are ethically challenged.

              1. Yves Smith Post author

                The realtor I am using is an extremely prominent black woman, in all sorts of leadership orgs, and has sold $160 million of real estate personally. She’s the antithesis of the prototypical married woman who sells 1-3 houses a year for shopping money.

                Also if the bids are too low I will buy the house. Not that I want to but then fixing it up myself makes sense.

                Plus with interest rates where they are, flipping is way less attractive than it once was. Flippers do have the advantage of regularly working with certain contractors and getting quasi wholesale pricing from them.

          2. Raymond Sim

            This sounds absolutely miserable. I was executor of my mother’s estate. The will, written according to my preferences, was evenhanded in distributing the proceeds while giving me maximal discretion. An heir would have been crazy to contest it. It all went pretty smoothly, but it was still utterly exhausting. And damned if I didn’t find myself lying awake worrying if maybe some of the heirs were crazy?

          3. ArvidMartensen

            I have heard that there are families that get along, but that is just a rumour afaik. Being an executor is a thankless task where family members are hard to get on with. And you were the carer as well. What a load you have been carrying.
            I hope you have some good supports, as it sounds like you have a hard road ahead. I know this sounds trite, but looking after your health is paramount, make time.
            As I used to say to my partner embroiled in work dramas and estate dramas, “if you die through stress then they will still get to have a great life because of your hard work”.

          4. Late Introvert

            Sorry Yves. Sounds awful.

            Your situation is harrowing. My dad had similar problems with a brother and sister who did not agree.

            I’ve recently learned that probate is to be avoided if at all possible. I’m currently researching a Living Trust document that can be prepared at home that allows one to pass on assets directly without probate. Our assets are simple and we just have one child, and my wife and I are married and share property so it’s very simple for us. But anything to make it easier on your offspring after you pass.

            I encourage anyone interested to borrow “Make Your Own Living Trust” by Nolo Press from your local library. I ended up buying it.

      4. Burritonomics

        I lost my parents a month apart this summer. They had no will or directives. They lived in the Ozarks, with a house full of stuff accumulated over decades. My sister and I did not have the time or wherewithal to go through everything and deal with it. We had to triage by taking out all the personal papers and photos, a few treasured items, and ended up selling the house as is. Still dealing with the emotional fallout of having had to do that. I feel for you, and hope you get through as best you can.

      5. Craig H.

        I moved to elsewhere in summer of 2021, so 15 months ago. I had 12 months of heads-up as I knew I had to be out of town before the fire season began in 2021 as the fire season of 2020 was intolerable.

        I spent a lot of time on real estate dot com pondering the question would I want to live there? Also looking at the average, peak, trough temperature and precipitation tables on wikipedia. People I knew from real life and from online over the years helped with answering questions.

        Ended up strongly considering ex-urban Pittsburgh, far-suburban Philadelphia, bum-funk Kansas City and second place was . . . drum roll . . . RrRrRrRrRrRrRr . . . south of Cincinnati. I had a spreadsheet with different variables I assigned a rating value.

        The actual move process was complete bedlam but in three weeks it was all over with. The biggest real problem was it ended up taking me five or six months to fully adjust from sea level to high altitude. I have spent a total of less than thirty seconds wondering if I made the wrong choice. The air here is not pure perfect but the improvement is in the ballpark of miraculous nevertheless.

        Alabama is not that terrible a place at all from what I have seen of it. As long as you are more than thirty or forty miles from the coast where you have to run for the hills whenever the hurricanes blow. The summer heat and humidity can be gotten used to although I would not want to get used to it. Again. I have gotten used to it before.

        Of all the places I have lived the social environment was best in Texas. Texans are really terrific. It is the only place I have ever lived where the DMV didn’t look like a Sartre variety of hell on a bad day.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          I’m glad thing worked for you. But consider your story: three weeks of relocation hell. I don’t have that kind of time.

          Alabama is a very bad place for both single professional women and older women. Generally most of the US is not receptive to single women. They are shunned socially because everyone is coupled up and single women are assumed to be on the prowl for married men. And I have zero interest in the main social activities here: sports and church.

          Health here care is mediocre at best. I am having to fly to NY to see my old doctors. IM Doc confirms, he taught in a very well respected internal medicine program in Texas for over a decade. Said his students in the Deep South reported a total lack of interest in caring for women over reproductive age. And the care for my mother in her brief hospital stays was terrible. They bruised the hell out of her, didn’t clean her properly, didn’t send nurses even when aides when to the nursing station and found nurses doing their nails. The Lakeshore rehab hospital was a big contrast, but you get there only under special circumstances, and most assuredly not directly after an ER visit.

          Alabama also has very high rents relative to purchase prices, which in the not bad ‘hoods are also not that cheap.

          I really need to leave the US if I can find a good place and muster the energy. We are going the way of Russia in the 1990s: oligarch looting, big falls in living standards and lifespans for ordinary people. If you are in a good setting (pretty self sufficient or good support networks) you can ride it out not badly, but that is not my situation.

          1. fairleft

            Work-from-home US techies are flocking to Mexico City for the low cost of living, lovely, gentle culture and people, and several safe, beautiful neighborhoods. Air pollution can be bad for a couple months in winter.

          2. WhoaMolly

            “I really need to leave the US…”
            Lots of my friends saying this too.

            For myself I’ve briefly wondered if Hawaii — perhaps the big island — would be a counter-intuitive place to consider.

            Warm water for a daily swim, and a mild climate.

            A few years ago small houses on the big island were relatively cheap. A quick zillow peek today seems to show that’s no longer the case.

            If housing cost is outrageous, Hawaii would be a non-starter.

            I’ve only visited, and not lived there, so I’m sure I’m overlooking many obstacles.

            1. Noh1

              Hawaii is much better than the mainland, except for the prices. Housing, food, etc. are all high.

              I’m sometimes glad to have an ocean between me and the increasing chaos over there. The society is still sane here. There are few guns, little violent crime, and people mostly do care about people.

          3. Kouros

            I know an empty half duplex in Victoria BC Canada, with view to the cruise ships, but getting a family doctor is impossible.

          4. Another Anon


            Very sorry to read of your situation. I wish all the best in getting through your situation. I worry very much that I will be in a situation similar to yours as the sole care taker of an elderly mother. The difference being that I have two siblings, one of which I thought I had an OK relation, while the other is toxic and is also an attorney. I still thought that he would still not screw me, or at least the other would step in.

            I have been very naive as both have been playing the good cop, bad cop routine. A near free attorney told me recently that I have already been screwed.

            I agree with you Yves, it looks like the USA is going to resemble Russia in the 1990’s. I started thinking about the US going down hill since the early 90’s after reading a book called “America, What Went Wrong”. I am seriously considering getting out, but the question is where. There is little to keep me here.

      6. doug

        My wife in similar situation, including siblings. Just getting started, and already a major PIA. Someone suggested ‘worthpoint’ to her as as way to figure pricing for the ‘stuff’ in the house. They had used it extensively when closing down parent’s household. Apparently it has actual sale prices for ‘stuff’.

      7. Wukchumni

        It was daunting the task before us of emptying our childhood home of the memories of a life lived when my mom called it quits on the hacienda seven years ago to live in an assisted living place.

        She’s a great depression era kid who was taught to save everything and then some as you never know when you’ll need pencils with a tiny stub of lead showing or a not enormous amount of eraser left on the other end.

        We found checkbook boxes full of these, held together by rubber bands so old and brittle that the slightest touch turned said bands nearly into dust.

        The good part being mom was there to ‘referee’ and tell stories along the way, the bad part was she wanted to save everything!

        We had 3 piles… keep, donate, throw away

        The first book I suggested we donate was a Canada travel guide then some 17 years old, and a mighty protest ensued until through the strength of will, my sisters and I prevailed and from then on she was more compliant in our scheme.

        We found oodles of this that and whatever, but really nothing of value to speak of, as we weren’t into possessions-more like traveling-being Bohemian’s Bohemians, so there was none of that and old furniture is worth bupkis, it was difficult to find a place that wanted it, but in the end it all went away and after a paint job and new carpet, I thought our really dated 1968 domicile didn’t look too bad.

        Sadly you won’t have the help of your mom along the way, but it seemed to go pretty quickly, the segregation of stuff.

      8. nippersdad

        I am sorry you are having such difficulties with the process of dealing with your Mother’s estate.

        After having witnessed several such situations, I have found that the most expedient method of dispersal of effects is to invite the heirs on a week end to see what is there, and then ask them to give you a list of what they want. It sounds like you are doing that already, and that takes care of the high end/most personal stuff. Often you end up with very little left.

        If that is not a route you wish to take, there are professional estate liquidators who will deal with all of that for a commission. There are some in Birmingham that you might want to look into.* They can also turn you onto good tradespeople who specialize in fixing up houses for sale. The most important thing is to make the rules, make them transparently rational and then stick to them. There will always be a dick in the crowd, but ensuring that they look like a dick will go a long way toward repressing their natural instincts.

        Make your case for the house with the heirs, if they agree then the court will as well. If they do not, well, start looking at your South American brochures and move on. Maximizing estate worth just ain’t worth the angst of dealing with obstreperous people who won’t expend a calorie to get what they want. The best time to sell the house is in late Winter and early Spring to take advantage of people relocating and looking for good schools for their kids, which would give you time to do a paint job and put in new carpet. If you cannot make that case then they will see it when the house is fully cleared. Again, have a brochure ready to hand if anyone starts whining.

        Just after Christmas and before the New Year is a good time to look into rentals, which could work with your Spring timetable.

        If you have a plan for the interpersonal aspects of the estate, then the estate lawyer and probate court will usually go along for the ride. The lawyers just want a quick buck, the probate court just wants to make their Tee time; they will all defer to you, and with your masterful personality that should not be a difficult scenario to engineer.


        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Problem is youngest will ask for everything he thinks has real value (no joke at the age of 12 he was speculating as to what stuff in the house was worth and what he’d get) while the will obligates me to parse it out on an equal value basis….when I have no idea of value of most things and some items in here may have actual value. But generally mid range collectables have collapsed in price.

          Here the best time to list is late Spring. The runup in Zillow between Jan and April last year was shocking. So that will tie my hands re when to move.

          1. nippersdad

            I know that you are overburdened with advice in a very difficult time, and I should just STFU, but this actually looks like an opportunity in disguise:

            “Problem is youngest will ask for everything he thinks has real value….”

            Your Mom named you the Executrix for a reason. As the executor you have the latitude to make all kinds of decisions, one of which is to delegate. Have you considered the idea of delegating the pricing of all of that stuff to him? If he has to go onto Worthpoint and value all of it, he may begin to understand what you are up against and become just a little more reasonable. At a minimum it would keep him busy. IOW, if he wants the grunt work, let him have it.

            For those things that several people want a lottery could be implemented to get it, after youngest son has had it valued , and then ALL of it can be deducted from the totality of the estate that they are ultimately entitled to in order to ensure equal value distribution. That might spike his guns; I don’t see how he could argue with the results when he was the one who valued all of it, himself, and has to show the paperwork to back his claims up.

            Anyway, I am truly sorry that you are having these difficulties. That is usually a thankless task, and I am sure you will acquit yourself of it with brio.

      9. Goingnowhereslowly

        Yves, I am so sorry to hear that you are having such a hard time of this. I’ve wondered occasionally how you were getting along with the aftermath of your mother’s death; my husband lost his widowed father a few years back and despite his dad’s meticulous preparation and the cooperation of his only sibling, it was an ordeal for him.

        I’m sure I am just one of many grateful readers who wish you better luck going forward and would urge you to prioritize taking care of yourself over your responsibilities to us. You have given us so much over the years!

      10. Norge

        Yves, if it is any consolation, you are deeply appreciated (dare I say loved?) by many more people than you know.

        1. Joe Renter

          I will second that one, hours later. I wish when I was living in Seattle and you came through town, I would have gotten off my butt would have gone to the meet up. Being introverted, it can be easy to say, no thanks. I am taking care of my mom here in Las Vegas and there is plenty of drama that I will save for another time. Short story is that everything goes to my stepdad’s trust. My sister, and I get only some funds Mom saved. Just about 2 years ago I had bail out of relationship while traveling during covid and found myself doing a bike trip from Las Vegas to SW Texas for 5 months. I learned that you really don’t need too much stuff. Learned a lot about myself and had many good conversations with all types of folks. I will survive this dystopia we seem to be heading into until I don’t. I see it as karma to deal with on a personal level and national. We have screwed many people around the world, chickens are coming home to roost.
          Stay positive. You have all of us as moral support and more than that if you ask.

    1. hunkerdown

      They’re created by the American educational system and by capitalist relations displacing organic ones. Callous digestion is an American value.

      1. Alice X

        Well, the American educational system is several systems. Public schools are funded by local property taxes. Were they funded by the general fund they would not be so grossly uneven. Then there is the long standing push to use public money for private schools and further remove local control. But either way, the regime is one of conformity and consumerism, rather than critical thinking.

        Then there are the elite private schools for the ruling class in waiting.

        I used to say that the US has the most effective educational system ever, but it isn’t found in any classroom. It was found on Madison Ave., and other such places.

        And as to capitalist relations displacing organic ones. Well, I think that a society of altruists living by the Golden Rule, rather than the Rule by Gold would be organic. But I don’t know when humans will evolve to that point, if ever.

    2. The Rev Kev

      I read about a women whose son borrowed the car without asking. So, in order to teach him a lesson, she called the police and reported the car as stolen. You can guess what happened next.

    3. semper loquitur

      Part of the issue is the ubiquity of firearms in the United States. Even if a firearm isn’t involved in a particular incident, the cops are always at “level 10” from the prospect of facing one. The mantra is “I’m going home tonight.”, meaning I’m going to kill anyone who threatens me before they can kill me.

      I also think there is a kind of ritualized aspect to it. A blood ritual. Some cops want blood on their hands, as a rite of passage. This needn’t be a conscious desire but I’d bet sometimes it is.

      1. Alice X

        It has been suggested elsewhere that social workers should get the call for wellness checks. But then there is that ubiquity of guns. So…

        As the article notes, police are not getting the training that could mitigate the problem.

      2. Anthony G Stegman

        You may be on to something. Consider that police departments often recruit from the military. Most member of the armed forces never fire a weapon (except perhaps on a range), and so never have the opportunity to be “blooded”. This is disheartening for some members of the military. Those that move from the military to law enforcement can see new opportunities to become “blooded”, and so they look for opportunities to draw their weapons and fire away.

    4. Mildred Montana

      Alice X: “Where are such police recruits, so devoid of humanity, coming from?”

      Good question. I think the whole process of police recruitment needs to be re-examined. The way it seems now, law-enforcement attracts only Cowboys interested in the chance to exert their power and authority (and sadism and lethal force) or Cowards interested only in the salary and the early pension (see: Uvalde).

      If one assumes that Cowboys and Cowards are a large part of most police forces, the answer is clear: Revamp recruitment and training procedures.

      1. Wukchumni

        Much of it stems from the North Hollywood Bank of America shootout 25 years ago which found the coppers seriously underarmed against the robbers, and slowly but surely a military mentality (and look as well-police officers starting blousing their pants, etc) overtook our police departments, and here we are.

        The most logical police recruits since the turn of the century has been combat veterans, so as to complete the look.

        1. Mildred Montana

          Yes, I remember well that incident and the video too (easily available, just google “Hollywood bank shootout”).

          So, after that standoff, what does law-enforcement decide to do? Investigate why two men would go so crazy? Nope. Investigate how they came to be so heavily armed? Nope.

          Nope, law-enforcement decided the solution was to escalate, to militarize, and, as you say, here we are.

          1. JBird4049

            >>>Nope, law-enforcement decided the solution was to escalate, to militarize, and, as you say, here we are.


            American society has been heavily armed and violent since its start, but it is not more violent now. However, now, unlike in the past, there are individuals who think it is okay to express their frustrations by mass murder. Even violent, often war torn countries do not have mass school shootings, unlike the United States. We all should discuss, not scream over, what we should or should not do about it.

            The police, as a body, have decided to treat the rest of society as The Enemy and act accordingly. When up to fifteen percent of the police shooting victims are completely unarmed and being armed has has meant having a knife in a pocket, or a gun in a drawer, but not in hand, or a rock in hand, or just driving a car (the car is the weapon, you see) we have a problem.

            From the little I can find out, old timers who started work before the turn of the century complain about the hyper-violence of the current police. Most of them are retired, now. Mind you, American policing has usually been violent and often corrupt especially in the South. However, nothing like today’s policing.

            Aside from the county sheriff or the local constable, policing starting in the 19th century as either the slave patrol in the South, and poor people or immigrant control at the request of businesses in the North, and not really as “law” enforcement. But, whatever else, they still did their job without people having to be afraid of dying. Beaten, framed, abused, hit for bribes, and so on, but not dead.

            But practical steps to fix this? To at least return it the “peaceful” days of the 1970s? I have no idea.

            1. Anthony G Stegman

              The Forever Wars have created countless numbers of military veterans looking for work. Law enforcement is a natural fit for these veterans – Armed FORCEes, Law EnFORCEment. Two peas in a pod. For many in law enforcement civilians are seen as enemies to be occupied, suppressed, and killed if deemed necessary. This is simply blowback for American imperialism. We have met the enemy and he is us.

      2. ArvidMartensen

        We have a situation here where a racist ex-military dude joined the police force and started treating the indigenous youth like he treated the “towelheads” in Afghanistan. So he has been tried for murder but enough evidence was suppressed that he got off (evidence came to light later).
        The “boys” sent over to third world countries armed with lethal weapons and babied by air support get to feel superior, invincible and entitled to do anything they like.
        Then they go home and join the police force. And they all protect each other when they kill people. No-one saw nuthin.
        Not only that, but the military armour now pervades the police, so that it just “feels” like they back on patrol searching out terrorists and scum.

        1. JBird4049

          Having seen San Francisco’s finest at “riot” control, really protest suppression, during the 1980s, I can tell you that they were scary, even terrifying, but it was motorcycle helmets, riot shields, and batons with just their old school uniforms; they were quite effective especially when gas masks and tear gas were added.

          The thing is that the old school police looked more real, professional, and competent than the overarmed clowns I see today. Now, they look like extras in an action flick set in a Banana Republic. In trying to look tough and military, they failed, but they succeeded in destroying the professional look of the past. (Still, the old uniforms were already too military in style.)

          Who would the average person trust? The former looking like well armed goons or the latter looking like people you might have a cup of coffee with?

      3. B24S

        Back in the 60s I remember reading in the Whole Earth Catalog that the Palo Alto PD was suiting up in… suits and ties, rather than uniforms. I was in NYC then and by the time I arrived in California in the mid 70s they were back in uniform, but at the time it seemed like a no-brainer. Don’t know when and why they reverted, but I keep thinking how reasonable it seemed. You know, sort of like preemptive de-escalation.

        (The only other thing I was aware of regarding the PAPD was the parsley jar full of 100% pure crystalline THC that arrived in Philadelphia from a friends’ brother who supposedly worked there.)

  10. The Rev Kev

    It’s always hard to finalize another person’s life and have to decide how it is all going to be sorted. My mother passed away just before the Pandemic and I had to fly down to Sydney to help clear out her place of all her possessions alongside my sister. She lived in a retirement village and her place was the minimal bedroom, living room, bathroom and kitchenette so not big. We tried to give away the furniture but nobody was interested because it was the wrong fashion (the furniture was dark!). We had to hire a skip which we ended up filling and we took a heap of stuff to a major charity shop. That which was of sentimental value we kept of course but it was still an awful feeling of disposing of all the things that our mother had accumulated over the decades. When I flew back home it made me take a look at all my own gear and reflect that one day, somebody will have to do the same for me. Poor b*******. It is a times like this that I can understand the late comic Benny Hill. Though worth tens of millions of dollars, he rented not only the flat that he lived in but all his furniture and TV. By the time those companies took back their stuff, there wasn’t much left in his flat.

  11. Patrick Donnelly

    If the heirs agree, spending on the house can be done. They can chip in some funding beforehand, saves backing out later.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I know you mean well but please do not act like I don’t know what I am doing.

      My youngest brother is hostile (has always hated me, even told middle brother he regards me as “pure evil”), has hired a lawyer, and is not talking to me or even my other brother, not even responding to said brother’s birthday greeting. It is not as if there is enough $ to be worth fighting over but he clearly intends to spar at every juncture possible w/o actually litigating. So I need to be meticulous when I don’t have the bandwidth to do the bare minimum.

      I should resign as executor but even Lambert says I can’t dump that on the middle brother. Middle brother is smart and not bad natured but is lazy and not willing or able to provide any help. Yet middle brother and his wife do not trust youngest brother and his wife as far as he can throw them. This estate is too small to hand it to a corporate executor even if one could be found to take it on (unlikely here).

      1. John

        My condolences on being executor of your mother’s estate. I did my parent’s and a friend’s. There were no difficult heirs. It was still a huge hassle and a lot of work. Many times I thought a good house fire would be the best solution. Good luck!

        1. Basil Pesto

          I won’t bother trying to give practical advice but a good, film on this theme is Olivier Assayas’ ‘Summer Hours’, if anyone gets the chance.

      2. katiebird

        This is so similar to what happened in my family after my mother’s death (which came almost exactly a year after my dad’s) .. Luckily while I did have mom’s extended power of attorney (shared with 2 siblings — not the estranged youngest brother) my middle brother was the executor. I told Mom that youngest would go berserk if I was the executor and it would not be worth it. Even so, he did hire a lawyer and forced some craziness. At one point I had to lug a suitcase full of receipts and documents (which luckily I saved) and my computer where I had all her transactions logged into You Need A Budget) to Portland, OR from Kansas City — where the 3 of us who shared power of attorney sorted and scanned each document and receipt. I could not have done it without their help!! After that when he took his next demand to his lawyer (I can’t remember his first demand) his lawyer rejected the job and said she couldn’t justify it. And he didn’t press it past that.

        Also, luckily for us, he didn’t fight middle brother’s plans (which were the extension of Mom’s before her death) to improve the house. Which is a huge difference from your situation.

      3. Raymond Sim

        Holy Smokes! You won’t get unsolicited advice from me at least. I’m speechless.

        All the best.

      4. flora

        Yves, sorry you’re in this spot. Family sibling drama makes it worse. I’m not a lawyer, but…. if a sibling is determined to pitch a fit at every turn I hope you have a good estate lawyer that’s apprised of his behavior and knows how to deal with his legal objections. I also know legal disputes that are family related can become ongoing legal nightmares.

        See for example the contested divorces of the merely wealthy. And as for legal claims-counter claims done for sport (sometimes for years even after the decree is settled) there’s nothing quite like contested divorces of the ultra wealthy where spite or vendetta based (imo) lawsuits take on a whole new dimension.

        Best of luck.

  12. griffen

    Yikes, that tenant who murdered the landlord is a real whopper. Bet the trial goes pretty quickly, with the evidence and the witnesses who heard the screams. The sordid details of what was done, well it brings to mind the current offering on Netflix, on Jeffrey Dahmer; it’s a 9 or 10 episode series and is not recommended for tender eyes or tender hearts.

  13. The Rev Kev

    “Liz Truss inspires new Register standard of time”

    I am afraid that in future years that Liz Truss will be humiliated again and again – on TV game shows. So along with questions asked of contestants like ‘Who won the FA Cup Final in 1969’ and ‘In which year did Coronation Street first air?’, you will have a new one saying ‘Name the Prime Minister who had the shortest term of office?’

    Now, let us pray.

      1. ambrit

        The ‘Friedman Unit’ could be considered to be an Imperial Measure and the ‘Truss’ a Metrics based Measure. Plus, ‘Truss’ ads a certain engineering sachet, (if such is your ‘bag.’)

        1. hunkerdown

          Truss is also a measure of empire. Thankfully, Truss is on hiatus now after a bad fall into some poison sunak, so we can afford to be a little sanguinal about it.

          Now, had Dr. Scholz been up, the shoe would be on the other foot.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      This is US. Still helpful but I am particularly interested in non-US comparisons ex China to see if this was all remote schooling or significantly due to poor US implementation of it. The fact that I didn’t find any comparable foreign horror stories suggests the US is again exceptional, but not in a good way.

  14. flora

    Rishi is WEF. The WEF party ( Conservative/Labour and GOP/Dem is so last century) keeps the prime minister spot. Globalist party wins again.

    1. The Rev Kev

      As Alexander Mercouris said, it was ‘a very British coup’. But he is deeply unhappy how this was all done behind the scenes with the Governor of the bank of England doing his part to fatally wound Truss. He says that this was big finance putting the government into a pair of safe hands to protect their interests. For them, Keir Starmer would have been a better choice but they will have to wait til the next elections to get their man in. And as you so astutely pointed out, Conservative/Labour and GOP/Dem is so last century.

      1. flora

        Truss is also WEF and may have played her part to a tee for team Davos and the WEF party. Just a thought. / ;)

        1. flora

          As for Starmer, Trilateral Commission instead of WEF? And good hair.

          In the US the phrase “goodhair politician” is a joke referencing great appearance but not much under the hood (bonnet). See Molly Ivins’ description of then Texas gov Perry as “Governor Goodhair” and “The Coiffure”. / ;)

          shorter: globalists.

    2. Glen

      How many times does country get to just change leaders without a vote before it unofficially is no longer a democracy?

      But it looks like what passes for billionaire/oligarchs in the UK are firmly in control now.

      So everything’s OK now, (if you’re a billionaire/oligarch. As for everybody else, I’m getting a very bad feeling about this…)

  15. Lex

    Plastic recycling is designed to fail and push the burden to the consumer level. It could work, but it would require designing recycling into the product from the beginning. It would require decisions to be made either at the governmental level or with coordination between plastic producers, product manufacturers and recycling operators who would need to coordinate with manufacturers specializing in post-consumer manufacturing. And then it would require that consumers were only recycling what was actually recyclable.

    It’s not hard to spoil a load of recycling material when the only answer is high level sorting that becomes more expensive than the end product is worth. If you look at your neighborhood recycling bins you’ll see that people put anything in them. But if you attempt to do your shopping with recycling as part of the process, you’ll end up wildly frustrated. (I tried this during Covid.)

    1. hunkerdown

      At least the mountains in Asia where all the “single streams” wind up will be easier to mine for PET in a hundred years or so. #toxicwastepositivity

    2. bassmule

      It’s funny: The definition of a thermoplastic: “Thermoplastics harden once cooled and do not show any changes in chemical property after being heated and cooled multiple times, making them easily recyclable.” You’d think the plastics industry would be playing up this quality and organize itself to take advantage of it. But no. Because–strangely enough–the business model is to sell resin, not to reuse it.

      What Is A Thermoplastic? (I cannot for the life of me figure out what TWI stands for.)

      1. hunkerdown

        That’s an ideal. In practice, at processing temperatures, modifier additives boil off and polymer chains break, degrading the properties of the resin. After a few passes, such poor material produces brittle, poorly filled parts and clogs up molds. For the best runs, recycled material needs to be fully reprocessed and regraded, not just thrown back into the loop as filler — as most every processing shop already does wherever it can.

    3. Michael

      Municipal waste contracts with franchise fees. Quite a hurdle to effect change

      Why not just accept cardboard and water bottles? Allow competition.

      We have recycling pickup every other week. On the off weeks, people just throw it out anyway. Asia rejected our crap due to contamination.

      People are the problem as usual. Stop consuming so much. Jeez!

      1. Michael

        Here in San Diego we are witnessing a Battle Royale over “free” garbage service enacted in early 1900s called The People’s Ordinance”.
        A group trying to amend the City Charter wants to study the “problem” and determine what is a fair price to pay.
        Renters are in the game too as they claim landlords are charging them inflated rates within their leases and home owners are getting a free ride.
        Of course businesses are being gouged too, esp in the “downtown” where access is more difficult.
        Just as with energy use where conservation is the low hanging fruit, people seem to say “You First!”

      2. Wukchumni

        For the first 6 months of the Pandemic, the trash truck picked up all 3 bins @ once, and they still pick up the green waste and regular trash all into the same hidey hole with wheels, but pick up the recycle bin every other week by its lonesome.

        Wasn’t recycling all a make-work gig anyhow?

        In theory the contents of my blue bin are being sorted out by qualified low tech scrutinizers, who will assure that it will pass muster despite nobody really wanting the finished product.

  16. JohnA

    Advice please.
    Since RT was banned in most European countries, I have been able to access by setting my VPN to Ireland. Today, my browser suddenly refuses to connect claiming a security issue.
    Can anyone suggest a country I can set my vpn to, to continue accessing rt? I have not been able to access sputnik for months either, from any vpn country,
    Thanks in advance.

      1. JohnA

        Thanks Yves, yes India works. Best wishes that you can resolve your mother’s estate, such a pity your brother does not understand that not being amicable and reasonable will only benefit lawyers. In France where I live much of the year, there are plenty of derelict houses gradually falling apart because one or more of the siblings who inherited it cannot agree on a sale.

    1. Irrational

      Have had the same problem intermittently today, but then sometimes it will work. Firefox browser in privacy mode (here’s hoping!), connecting from tiny little Luxembourg.
      Not accessible on the (work-issued) iPhone though.

    2. Jonathan King

      Have been able to access RT & Sputnik and a great many Pravdas all along from California, w/o using a VPN.

    3. Kouros

      Never had problems in Canada.

      Only strategic-culture in the past and the Russian Presidential and Foreign Affairs sites

    4. Tom Bradford

      A little slow to respond* but otherwise no problem connecting from New Zealand.

      *Then again many things are, tho’ NC is usually quick.

  17. The Rev Kev

    “United States of megadrought”

    Looking at that map, I began to wonder about nuclear power plants in those regions which are cooled by drawing on water from rivers but which may now be experienced problems in doing so. I checked Google and it said ‘There are 93 commercial nuclear reactors operating in the United States at 55 locations in 28 states. The majority of nuclear reactors are in the eastern portion of the U.S. Currently, 25 reactors are in some phase of decommissioning.’ The same article also had a map showing where these power plants are located-

    But at least nobody is firing on them with artillery.

    1. Wukchumni

      The er, ‘Dolly Partons’ @ the SONGS power plant have been shut down for about a decade now, and they did it rather all of the sudden…

      …there is also that little issue of 4,000 tons of radioactive waste on the site

    1. Wukchumni

      I got an invitation to send money in lieu of me actually being there for her diamond jubilee, so there’s that.

    2. The Rev Kev

      I heard that Hillary Clinton only has to wait a few more years and then she will be old enough to be a Democratic Speaker of the House.

  18. Wukchumni

    I’ve oft mentioned the Bizarro World in which the USSR & USA exhibit in our mutual collapses, as everything has to be diametrically opposed…

    The Ruble was worth in theory a buck fifty before things came a cropper and when collapse came it went to 1,000 Rubles to a $.

    We’re going exactly in the other direction with the almighty buck reigning supreme over all comers in worth.

  19. Old Sovietologist

    Ukrainian lawyer Olena Lyoshenko has died of a heart attack just a few days short of her 40th birthday. It said she died of a broken heart over what was happening in Ukraine,

    Lena isn’t the sort human right lawyer you will hear about in the western media. No self promotor, she just just helped Ukrainian political prisoners, and many of them today owe their freedom to her dangerous selfless work.

    Hopefully one day future generations of Ukrainians will recognise Olena as a real hero of the state.

    Here she is from 2017.

  20. CaliDan

    Woman Murdered, Dismembered Her West Ridge Landlord After Getting Eviction Notice, Police Say Block Club Chicago (resilc)

    Whilst admonishing myself for momentarily entertaining the notion that this was today’s feel-good article, my attention slipped down the page to something just as fascinating: 233,000 People Applied For 3,250 Spots In Cook County’s $500-A-Month Guaranteed Income Pilot Program

    Sure we can talk ad infinitum about the molasses stylings of federal bureaucracies, but this looks to be a step in the right direction, if not too late and too little. A few tidbits: the median income of applicants is $15,000; 77,000 of applicants are unemployed; and 58,000 applicants delayed medial treatment last year due to cost.

    Unfortunately this is a two-year pilot program and exploratory in nature, which in no way guarantees full implementation down the road. My guess, because it’s part of the Biden administration’s America Rescue Plan Act, is that it’ll look great for the 2024 presidential election but will be forgotten about shortly thereafter. I hope that’s not the case.

    1. JBird4049

      The people at Breaking Points keep saying that the Democratic Party is going to get hurt this midterm’s elections because they refuse to do anything at all about the declining economy. Aside from scolding people who won’t take that will pay only for food and utilities or rent, not both.

      If they had passed something like $500 per person for a year nationwide that would have cost less than the Covid relief in 2021. If they had only extended the expanded child tax credits. If…

      It is like healthcare. The fools refuse to fix the problems because this would make many of their bribers angry and they insist on blaming people who stopped voting for them. The economy is still the most important issue with nuclear war unacceptable as well. So, they ignore the economy, threaten the end of the planetary civilization, and then scold the voters.

      About the only thing I have forward to look at is how catastrophic it will be for the Republicans when they push Liz Truss economic legislation here in the United States, which they say they will do. Stupidity is universal in our ruling class apparently.

  21. GuyinOhio

    So could someone provide some light on the Covid study mentioned in the tweet? This recent study seems quite alarming when considering that only two virus families seem to have been analyzed. It would seem that the potential to awaken other viruses would be quite high and repeated infections with Covid would perhaps increase the likelihood. This isn’t trivial material the way I’m reading it. We’re talking about cancer and terrible neurological issues impacting vast sums of people across the world. Or did I misinterpret the study?

  22. millicent

    re the decline in reading scores in the US

    Reading scores in the US have been low for a very long time. We have known why reading is hard since the 60’s (the overlapping sounds of speech need to be mapped to single letters with supposedly discrete, single sounds in print that don’t actually exist) but that is ignored in instruction. It’s an amplifying problem as schools of education fail to train teachers appropriately and then teachers get to a school system which is also ignorant of or resistant to teaching the needed skills. I doubt the problem is mainly covid although I guess it doesn’t help. The only helpful comparison is with an English speaking country since English orthography is really a complex problem unto itself. Other languages are more consistent in terms of orthography-phonology.

  23. Wukchumni

    Yellen warns of ‘dangerous and volatile environment’ as she pledges to bolster Treasury market

    Hey, Janet
    Yes, Jerome?

    I’ve got something to say
    Uh huh
    I really loved the skillful way
    You beat the other girls to being the first distaff Fed chief, eh

    The river was of denial was deep but I swam it (Janet)
    The inflation numbers are ours to keep damn it (Janet)
    So please don’t tell me I can’t can it (Janet)
    I’ve one thing to say and that’s
    Dammit, Janet, I love you

    The road to ruination was long but I ran it (Janet)
    There’s inflation and you I fanned it (Janet)
    If there’s one fool fall guy then I am it (Janet)
    I’ve one thing to say and that’s
    Dammit, Janet, I love you

    Here’s a thing to prove that I’m no joker
    There’s three ways that inflation can grow
    That’s good, bad or mediocre
    Oh J-A-N-E-T I love you so

  24. none

    Re China, here is an interesting comment from a tech forum (link):

    Great silicon part, and quite timely as we were forced by HQ last Friday to revise all product line designs to comply with 100% Chinese domestic semiconductors & passive components by latest Q4 end. All western sourced/accounts and parts are now forbidden, apart from those sourced by HQ’s registered jurisdiction.

    I don’t know what company “HQ” refers to, but the author of the comment is in France. The idea is obviously to ensure a CN domestic supply and make sanctions ineffective.

  25. Korual

    The Quanta and Aeon articles by the same author : this writer really needs to read Barad. The theory of Agential Realism has much weight added to it with the experimental evidence provided in the articles. This theory builds on Bohr and tends to dismiss collapse ideas of Schrodinger, quantum brain ideas of Penrose and qubit interpretations of information.

  26. B24S

    Once upon a time I worked at the California Academy of Sciences in SF. My friend Ed was in charge of the venomous snakes, including a King Cobra.

    One day the bulb in the cage had burnt out, and Ed went into the back room to change it. The trick is to wait until everything had chilled a bit (the AC was always on, but when it went out the crocodiles would climb out and start to wander), and the snake would be drowsy and slow. But when he opened the small hatch, the 8 foot long KC flew past him and disappeared behind various boxes and cages. The door to the public was closed, so no one else was in danger, but Ed had to sit and wait for the snake to cool against the terrazzo floor. He finally found it, and was able to catch it with a hook and put it back in its’ cage.

    I’d asked what to do if he got bit. I knew that UCSF, a few blocks away, was stocked with antivenin, but he said there’s none for a King Cobra bite.

    “Just sit down and enjoy the last few minutes…”

  27. lambert strether

    > State and the CIA really want a war with Russia, while the Pentagon does not, and State and the CIA seem to have Biden’s ear.

    Good thing State and the spooks don’t have any nukes. I mean, we hope….

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