Links 12/15/2022

U.K. Recognizes Lobster Sentience Discover Magazine (David L)

Secrets of Karahan Tepe: The Discovery of a Stunning Winter Solstice Alignment (Part 1) Graham Hancock Official Website (Chuck L)

Scientists Discover 168 Mysterious Nazca Geoglyphs in The Desert Sands of Peru ScienceAlert (Chuck L)

The Wild Future of Artificial Intelligence Atlantic (David L)

The viral AI avatar app Lensa undressed me—without my consent MIT Technology Review (Dr. Kevin)

‘ChatGPT Wrote a Terrible Gizmodo Article’ Gizmodo

Base editing: Revolutionary therapy clears girl’s incurable cancer BBC (ma)



Long Covid’s Effects Go Beyond Respiratory Issues Bloomberg (ma)

COVID: what we know about new omicron variant BF.7 The Conversation (Chuck L)


WHO warns of tough times ahead for China as it begins to loosen strict COVID rules ABC Australia (Kevin W)

Covid cases explode in Beijing leaving city streets empty and daily life disrupted CNN. ma: “I wonder what this will mean for the ongoing evolution and spread of the virus, globally.”


CDC says long Covid has contributed to thousands of U.S. deaths Politico


US scientists boost clean power hopes with fusion energy breakthrough Financial Times (David L). From earlier in the week, still germane.

NASA To Conduct First Global Water Survey From Space Reuters


Analysis-China’s massive older chip tech build up raises U.S. concern Yahoo! News (Kevin W)

China readying $143bn package for chip firms in face of US curbs Aljazeera (Kevin W)

Taiwan’s reinforced fighter jet hangars seen to be no match for PLA missiles South China Morning Post

Peru declares state of emergency as protests intensify Financial Times

New Not-So-Cold War

US to Send Patriot Missiles to Ukraine, CNN Says… Brian Berletic, YouTube

U.S. To Send More Wunderwaffen To Ukraine Moon of Alabama. Kevin W:

Check out the section starting with ‘The phased array radar that Patriot systems use are good but they are also a weakness. They are visible from satellites with Synthetic Aperture Radar. As researchers have found some years ago:’

Western Fantasies About Ukrainian Success Persist Larry Johnson

* * *
Press release on statements by German Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation. Key bit:

We noted yet another anti-Russia attack by German Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholtz…He emphasised support for the Kiev regime and said that after “the end of the war” in Ukraine, Russia would ask Germany to resume economic relations with it. But we will not ask Germany for anything, and it is time German politicians realised this once and for all.

Ukraine updates: Canada revokes Nord Stream sanctions waiver DW

Ukraine and the end of “Europe.” Aurelian

Diplomacy Watch: NATO infighting continues as Putin signals long war Responsible Statecraft. From last week, still germane.

* * *
This is how women are lured into prostitution in Sweden 200 Seconds (Micael T). As in Ukrainian women.

Imperial Collapse Watch

Pentagon Admits They Can’t Account For Half Their Assets Lee Camp, YouTube


Biden Has the Economy Back on Track Janet Yellen, Wall Street Journal

‘Hurting people’: The ‘cover-up teams’ operating on the US border Aljazeera (ma)

In El Paso, migrants are sleeping on the streets after thousands crossed the border last weekend Texas Tribune

Sanders Withdraws Yemen War Powers Resolution Vote Over Biden Opposition (Kevin W)

House passes short-term funding bill to avert government shutdown The Hill

Our No Longer Free Press

Liberals struggle to find viable Twitter alternative after Musk takeover The Hill. “If your business depends on a platform, you don’t have a business.”

YouTube Moderation Bots Will Start Issuing Warnings, 24-Hour Bans arstechnica

Supply Chain/Inflation

Inflation is Falling Much Faster Than Most People Know Counterpunch

Democrats dare to sound bullish on the economy The Hill

The Bezzle

FTX’s Bankman-Fried donated about $40M this political cycle. Here’s who benefitted Washington Post

Bahamian authorities were tipped off by top Bankman-Fried associate Financial Times

‘It’s not fit for humanity’: Sam Bankman-Fried’s Bahamas jail is infested with rats and maggots and inmates at high risk of TB get bedsores from lying on the ground – while kids are detained with adult prisoners Daily Mail (Li). Included video of prison. Article notes SBF might be housed in the remand center rather than the general population.

Sam Bankman-Fried Got What He Wanted Atlantic

Read the full memo the CEO of Binance sent to staffers after the exchange was hit by more than $1 billion of withdrawals in a day amid the FTX fiasco Business Insider

US Senators Warren, Marshall Introduce Digital Assets Anti-Money Laundering Bill Coindesk

U.S. authorities charge 8 social media influencers in securities fraud scheme Reuters

Class Warfare

Largest nursing strike in NHS history set to start BBC (Kevin W)

Government cannot meet nurses’ demands, says UK health minister Financial Times

Workers at one Lake Michigan Credit Union branch are unionizing Michigan Live. ma: “The virus is spreading……”

Court temporarily blocks NYC Uber drivers’ scheduled pay raise Engadget

Gig Workers, Prop. 22 Backers Resume War Over Initiative’s Fate Bloomberg (David L)

Antidote du jour (Tracie H):

And a bonus (Chuck L):

And a second bonus (Chuck L):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Antifa

    (melody borrowed from The Ballad of the Green Berets by Barry Sadler)

    We have no lights we have no fuel
    Taps are dry life is cruel
    All water’s foul food is rare
    The old folks sit with a distant stare

    What madness brought our world to this?
    Ukraine’s a cold and dark abyss
    Those who can have run away
    We’ve nothing left with hell to pay

    Our government cannot provide
    We scrounge for wood in the countryside
    A cesspool serves as our sewage pond
    That’s the mess this war has spawned

    What madness brought our world to this?
    Ukraine’s a cold and dark abyss
    Those who can have run away
    We’ve nothing left and hell to pay

    Is it cholera or is it flu
    When what goes down goes right through?
    Our only light is a candlestick
    This is our home and we’re so homesick

    What madness brought our world to this?
    Ukraine’s a cold and dark abyss
    Those who can have run away
    We’ve nothing left and hell to pay

    1. ChrisFromGA

      Excellent work, and catchy too!

      I suspect though that it won’t catch much airplay over at “Radio Zee,” nor the NY Times, WashPost or any other Wurlitzer outlet. They’re too busy writing their own works of comedy, some just as amusing as yours, like “20 out of 15 Russian missiles shot down over Kiev!”

  2. Louis Fyne

    Biden Has the Economy Back on Track Janet Yellen, Wall Street Journal

    December used car prices (at the auction level) are taking a beating (from the stratospheric levels).

    That disinflation is starting to show up in CPI data. Sounds good?!? —until you realize that much of it is due to very tightened credit standards.

    We’re going to go from the ordinary folks overpaying for their cars to being locked out of the used car market due to >10% interest rates for non-prime borrowers. Already happening. (if you are interested in cars/the economics of car retail) a good Twitter read.

    1. griffen

      Those selling the “inflation trending down” are partly correct, yes it appears the restrictions and tightening begun by the FED / FOMC earlier in 2022 are really starting to take firm hold as we head the corner into 2023. Anecdotally however I continue to see price swings from month/month on typical staples like a carton of eggs. Sure the average gallon of 87 octane is thankfully down from mid year highs.

      Elsewhere on the inflation, annual or semi annual billings that are due from 6 months or 12 months ago are playing catch up with the inflationary increases so I have a reasonably strong sense that impact is being felt more recently and might even be eye popping on the increase. Auto insurance and / or home insurance, to list key examples.

    2. Screwball

      About that CPI data (released Tuesday I believe it was). It appears there was a leak of the data before the 8:30 embargo. Bloomberg had an article about it.

      In 60 Seconds Before CPI Hit, Heavy Trading Drove Mystery Rally

      Someone asked the WH press secretary yesterday what the WH had to say about it. After stuttering for a lengthy period of time, she claimed people were making too big a deal out of a “minor” move in the market.

      I guess that depends on what your definition is of “minor.” According to my charts, the 8:29 candle (one minute before the 8:30 release) moved the S&P futures 40 points to the upside (4056-4096). It’s above my pay grade, but I would be curious to know how much money it took to move that index that many points in that amount of time.

      I wouldn’t call that “minor” either. But I’m sure this is the last we will hear of this.

      1. Bsn

        Yes, especially when you say “but I would be curious to know how much money it took to move that index that many points in that amount of time.” Remember the book by Michael Lewis “Flash Boys” where in he discusses “high frequency trades” and how she with the fastest computer server “wins” by being nanoseconds ahead of other, less well equipped traders. The White House, I’m sure, is well equipped in this case.

    3. Questa Nota

      Yellen, et al have their own Antidotes. The current photo is one of her colleagues giving Biden a tongue bath.

      1. tevhatch

        Minor improvement in accuracy: the current photos are of the grandchildren of Yellen and her colleagues getting showers and back massages with Biden.

  3. griffen

    Are we in new Yogi Berra territory when it pertains to users leaving Twitter. Don’t go there anymore, it is always busy and way too crowded!! Oh and elsewhere on this planet, many of us have better hills to climb amid the daily struggle. I just find the circus elements at work good, cheap entertainment.

    Here’s a notion. Dust off an old platform from the dustbin of history. Turn the machines on again and launch…MySpace. But maybe it should be refreshed, with something catchy. YrSpace? OurSpce?

          1. Joe Renter

            I long for the Trs-80 or my old Amiga 1200. I saw the handwriting on the wall for a career, but my Adha could not crunch all the bits for synapse computations.

      1. Carolinian

        “Democracy is at stake,” said all the agency leaders in a shared statement in which they all recited the words simultaneously in a robotic monotone. “We must do something. Democracy is at stake.”

        The snark may be a bit heavy handed but one does begin to feel that we are living through Invasion of the Body Snatchers (the first classic version). Or perhaps it’s that we are living through the Fifties again when conformity combined with paranoia ruled the land and inspired a spot on horror satire. The country or at least much of it eventually woke from that nightmare. How many more disasters, foreign and domestic, before we rouse from this one? Biden and Blinken are like the FP version of SBF. “We make our own reality” said Karl Rove. Dems on board.

      2. Aumua

        It reads like a satire of a Babylon Bee story, but it’s hard to tell the difference a lot of the time between that and an actual Bee story.

    1. lyman alpha blob

      Can’t all the butthurt “liberals” just scuttle back over to dailykos? Twitter moderation does seem to be based on the execrable dailykos moderation system, which rather than being killed with fire as it should have been, has spread to infest social media everywhere. They ought to love it there, picking each other off with the circular firing squad for not adhering closely enough for the ever-changing liberal messaging du jour.

  4. Michaelmas

    Well, if NC can link to ‘Biden Has the Economy Back on Track Janet Yellen, Wall Street Journal’ for educational and comedic purposes, in the same spirit I’ll point out this latest item of comedy gold from the NYT —

    ‘An Alternate Reality: How Russia’s State TV Spins the Ukraine War: how Russia’s biggest state broadcaster, working with the nation’s security services, mined right-wing American news and Chinese media to craft a narrative that Moscow was winning.’

    Hilarious. It’s really like something out of a Phil Dick novel.

    1. Wukchumni

      Couldn’t break the great wall of journal, but was able to procure a pirated copy of the NYT piece…

      As Russian tanks were stuck in th’ mud outside Kyiv afore this year and th’ economic fallout o’ war with Ukraine took hold, one part o’ Russia’s government hummed with precision: television propaganda. Spinnin’ together a counternarrative fer tens o’ millions o’ viewers, Russian propagandists plucked clips from American cable news, right-win’ social media and Chinese officials, and dinna spare the whip!

      They latched onto claims that Western embargoes o’ Russian oil would be self-defeatin’, that th’ United States were bein’ hidin’ secret bioweapon research labs in Ukraine and that China were bein’ a loyal ally against a fragmentin’ West, by Davy Jones’ locker.

      Day by day, state media journalists sharpened those themes in emails, by Blackbeard’s sword. They sometimes broadcast battlefield videos and other information sent t’ them by th’ successor agency t’ th’ K.G.B. And they excerpted and translated footage from favorite pundits, like th’ Fox News host Tucker Carlson, whose remarks about th’ war were shown t’ millions o’ Russians.

      “Be sure t’ take Tucker,” one Russian news producer wrote t’ a colleague, we’ll keel-haul ye! th’ email referred t’ a clip in which Mr, by Davy Jones’ locker. Carlson described th’ power o’ th’ Chinese-Russian partnership that had emerged under Mr. Yaaarrrrr! Biden — and how American economic policies targetin’ Russia could undermine th’ dollar’s status as a world-reserve currency, we’ll keel-haul ye! th’ correspondence were bein’ one o’ thousands o’ email exchanges stored within a leaked database from Russia’s largest state-owned media company, th’ All-Russia State Television and Radio Company, known as V.G.T.R.K. th’ data were bein’ made publicly available online by DDoSecrets, a group that publishes hacked documents.

      1. John Beech

        This is too easy, two steps . . .
        1. Download and install Firefox
        2. Install these four add-ons
        – uBlock Origin
        – Bypass Paywalls Clean
        – SponsorBlock for YouTube – Skip Sponsorships
        – Save webP as PNG or JPEG
        . . . thank me later, or maybe buy me a milkshake some day.

        1. Bsn

          Even easier. Install Brave, copy/paste (nearly) any article into (Yves’ above mentioned), then read as a Pic. You won’t have to download any “tools” via Firefox as Brave doesn’t go through Gaagle for approval of a website one visits. Ergo, Brave is faster and less cumbersome.

    2. podcastkid

      Off topic. Michaelmas, can you give a link for (or name article title) that comment you put up on gigatonnes of methane? Thanks.

    3. Nikkikat

      I saw this article too. Most ridiculous nonsense from NYT. Talk about propaganda! Also I read Russian news every day. Much more truthful than anything here.

  5. Wukchumni

    Read the full memo the CEO of Binance sent to staffers after the exchange was hit by more than $1 billion of withdrawals in a day amid the FTX fiasco Business Insider
    Aside from IndyMac Bank in Cali during the GFC 15 years ago, there hasn’t been any bank runs to speak of in these not so united states, and that bank run was a classic line of about 100 yards of desperation.

    To give you an idea of the panic it caused, the issue @ the time was if the bank went out of business and you had more than the at the time $100k that was FDIC insured, than you were out over that amount.

    A friend with $900k in one bank opened up 9x $100k accounts in different banks in LA over the course of a day, he was so worried.

    These new & improved bank runs are a different kettle of risk, open 24 hours a day for withdrawals is not so bueno when the crypto worm turns, but if you announce limited or no withdrawals-the ex-HODL contingent gets even colder feet, hoping to exchange 1’s & 0’s for other digital booty.

    1. griffen

      “Ladies and gentlemen, this is the captain speaking. Please relax, rest your fears as we have only struck a small amount of turbulence in these icy waters. We can assure you that nothing will ever be able to sink our ship. And history will be written when we complete our journey.” \sarc

      Titanic messaging system, circa April 1912. Ok maybe Binance survives any onslaught but I am at the point of what else does it take to realize investors are not just getting burned, they are getting seared and their eyes gouged. HODL I suppose. At the end of the day, I would want back what ever I might have left to save ( hypothetically speaking, as I have zero crypto and thankful for it ).

    2. Ken Murphy

      Your friend opened the accounts themself? That’s an amateur move. There are services that allow you to get millions and millions of dollars of FDIC protection. And I think the limit is up to $250K per account at this point, as someone needs to protect the little millionaires from the depredations of the financial elite.

      1. Wukchumni

        There was desperation in the air, here’s a video of irate IndyMac customers not being able to access their money. I really thought it would get out of control with other banks @ the time, but it was the only one that had anything like this happen.

        FDIC going to $250k coverage was probably on account of IndyMac Bank, as it happened shortly thereafter.

        Pissed Off Woman In Line At IndyMac Bank in Encino

  6. OptikErik

    Would someone in the NC community please recommend a 10 minute long or so read or watch about the Ukraine war including background history. I do follow Mercouris, Col. Macgregor, Berletic, C. Johnstone, and others. I haven’t found a concise, clear, compact message that I can share with progressive friends. Almost all of whom agree with the CBC here in Canada which pretty closely follows the CIA/StateDepartment narrative. I try not to talk politics with my friends any more and they with me. Thank you.

    1. nycTerrierist

      Jeffrey Sachs often gives a pithy recap whenever he’s interviewed –
      and his credentials should suffice for anyone

      I suggest searching his recent clips on YouTube –
      say on Democracy Now, Useful Idiots, Jimmy Dore

    2. Stephen

      I recommend Jacques Baud in The Postil.

      Various pieces.

      Former Swiss intelligence operative who worked with NATO. Recounts much of the recent history.

      1. BillC

        I second Stephen’s nomination of Jacques Baud.

        Exceeds your 10-minute limit, but the first piece I ever encountered by Baud is the most succinct review of the crucially relevant history (everything since the fall of the USSR) I’ve seen from anyone, including all those in your rollcall.

        However, perhaps the most effective blow to engender at least a bit of healthy skepticism among the brainwashed is pjay’s citation below of a large collection of widely-recognized authorities who are difficult for a reasonably well-educated USian to discount. Now that I think about it, we should all keep a local copy just in case it somehow gets “disappeared!”

      1. Carla

        I’m in the same boat as OptikErik — and none of my friends or relatives would EVER give Russia Today the slightest credence. Russians are the ENEMY, don’tcha know?

        It’s lonely, not buying the party line. But it ain’t even my party so why would I?

        1. Samuel Conner

          The thought occurs that, along the lines of “General Kalashnikov’s Vodka”, there might be a market (in the West only, of course) for a line of confections branded “Undersecretary Nuland’s Cookies”.

    3. pjay

      In addition to a good historical overview like those already mentioned, I often recommend the twitter thread by Arnaud Bertrand, which includes *many* warnings from establishment foreign policy analysts over the years, from George Kennan on, about the dangers of NATO expansion, especially into Ukraine.

      If you read Putin’s February statement justifying the Ukrainian operation, most of his points echo those that *our own* policy analysts had been pointing out for decades – now memory-holed by our courageous “free press.”

    4. Otis B Driftwood

      The best background on the conflict I have found is from John Mersheimer and the late Steven Cohen, both of whom warned this would happen years ahead of time.

    5. John Beech

      Pretty simple . . .
      1. war in Europe post 1945 never ended. Russia suffered horrendously and set about ensuring it would never happen again (and before Germany, France’s Napoleon). Hence keeping the eastern part of Germany plus Poland to act as buffer states.
      2. since 1989 (wall fell) we’ve been edging NATO eastward despite solemn promises first by President Clinton, Bush, Obama, and Biden not to. Trump may have stalled efforts, but unlikely.
      3. meanwhile, we’ve been profoundly unhappy with Russian gas/oil/pertrochemicals going into Europe as they provide hard currency to Russia and addict Germany to cheap resources fueling their continued industrial rise (remember why Germany took Ploiești in Romania in the first place), and hence, efforts to get Germany to stop funding NordStream 2 and of course, thus neatly explaining the rupture of Nordstream I – so all pipelines are offstream (all’s fair in love and war) which leads to their dependence on us to liquefy our abundant natural gas and them getting into bed with Quatar. Still need to provide a way to decompress back to gaseous state and transport via pipelines. This takes time.
      4. eastward expansion into Ukraine was proclaimed a red line (Russia). We’ve ignored it.
      5. to the point we worked behind the scenes to change their (Ukraine’s) government to one more accommodating of our goals – read up on Orange Revolution 2004/05 and Maidan Revolution 2014 but both were an attempt to buy time to arm Ukraine bedfellows (Angela Merkel just said the quiet part out loud). Yes, said bedfellows are a genuinely unsavory lot (Azov) but macht nichts, or the enemy or my enemy is my friend.
      6. no surprise, Russia took action and here we are.

      Honestly? They have been restrained but are being depleted of men and materiel as surely as we are, also. It always comes down to logistics. So now they rattle the cage of nuclear war.

      Me? I’d try and sue for peace to get them to withdraw – but – they really want the warm water ports on the Black Sea so it’ll be difficult to dislodge them. Doesn’t mean we won’t persist. End game? Dunno.

      So where do we go from here? Neuland just visited Ukraine. Tu-144 were launched with GPS controls to an airfield a long way in Russia. This suggests to me this means escalation until Russia cries uncle, or we got to a nuclear war in Europe. Hopefully only Europe.

      Meanwhile, China takes notes – but – notice the opening salvo with chip restrictions, and now Bytedance (software). We’ve been withholding smelting technologies and machine tools to keep them from making cutting edge impellers for turbine engines. Smart hard working people, they’ll figure it out on their own, is my suspicion.

      Note, these last acts suggests to me a final determination COVID wasn’t accidental, which is resulting in economic punishment plus a dare to take Taiwan. Me? I think Taiwan is theirs and never groked why we f-ed with them about it. They’ve lost it once and fought for it (and will again). But this is above my pay grade (and yours).

      There you go, a <10minute briefing.

      1. Polar Socialist

        Sorry, but Soviet Union did not “keep eastern part of Germany”, it was left with eastern party of Germany. In Yalta and in Potsdam the Allies agree that Germany was to be denazified and demilitarized, although Soviet Union was also hoping for deindustrialization.

        Then The West (as a budding NATO) understood that they needed remilitarized Germany to stand against Soviet Union, and under US pressure the western zones were united into Federal Republic of Germany – totally against the will of Soviet Union. The blockade of Berlin was supposed to force the western Allies back to negotiating about the future of whole Germany. Not perhaps the best choice, one could say, but maybe to options were limited at the time.

      2. Michael McK

        I’d add a couple minutes to mention a few US/NATO actions; In Yugoslavia where they recognized a Provincial legislature’s declaration of independence and bombed the rest of the Nation, in Afghanistan and Iraq where they declared preemptive defensive war, in Libya and Syria where they had a “responsibility to protect” civilians. There is major debate about the factual accuracy of the claims made to justify all of those NATO actions but the precedents were set.
        Russia has much, much stronger claims than NATO did to be recognizing oppressed people’s democratic will, defending themselves from an advancing military threat and protecting civilians from deadly assaults,

        1. vao

          Somalia always gets forgotten as one of those wonderful actions “overthrow stable islamist state that managed to end a civil war because democracy” that leads to endless carnage and destabilization of neighbouring countries in a strategic corner of the world…

    6. jax

      This source will exceed your 10 minutes, but if you subscribe to Yasha Levine’s substack newsletter, which includes his serialization of “A Soviet Jew, a weaponized immigrant’s tale”, you’ll not only get background on the Ukraine war but, as a Russian/Ukrainian/now American investigative journalist, his current take on machinations.

      He has a free newsletter on substack, plus a paid subscription. I find his free newsletter absolutely fascinating. His family emigrated to New York in 1989 when he was 8 years old, so he not only has American civilization (and I use that word loosely) under his belt, he has roots going back and through the Soviet history of Ukraine, and the Ukraine nationalism today. A nuanced and interesting view.

      1. pjay

        I think I would have to disagree. I was a big fan of Levine’s work, and his Immigrants as Weapons project was very relevant to this subject. But I was extremely disappointed in his reaction to the Russian invasion. To me, he was one of those on the left who provided a very good historical understanding of the US/NATO strategy in Ukraine — until Russia invaded. While Levine was never a Putin fan, all of the sudden Russian actions were all due to the egotistical, irrational, thuggish motives of Putin himself. It was as if all the historical and geopolitical factors of which he was certainly aware were no longer relevant. His characterization simply reinforced the dominant Western narrative, though he of course would see it as more nuanced. I think there are several reasons for this, which I won’t get into here.

        I haven’t read Levine lately. Hopefully he has moderated his position some by now. If that’s the case then I stand corrected.

    7. schmoe

      When asked to explain to a layperson what this is really about, I tell people to listen to 9:00-19:00 of this video. Like most people here, I have been watching this bubble for 8 years, and the speaker lays it out extremely well. This individual lives in Ukraine, might have been forced off Youtube for a bit due to Ukranian pressure, but hits that nail on the head for this segment.—YDDIQ

    8. Kouros

      So you guys are like those three monkeys: don’t see, don’t hear, don’t speak, eh? And of course, only the federal government and the intelligence/security apparatus can give the tone…

  7. The Rev Kev

    “Pentagon Admits They Can’t Account For Half Their Assets”

    Excuse me for saying so but the Pentagon can’t tell the difference between their assets and a hole in the ground. They are the one government agency that does not have to account for what they spend but as what they buy influences politicians from both major parties, they habitually get more than they ask for.

    And it doesn’t even matter if what they buy even works or not. The fun and games happens if the US military ends up in a fight with a peer military.

    1. Questa Nota

      Couldn’t find their assets with both hands?
      Even with one or both hands tied behind their backs?

      Visualize Congress joining Generals in bobbing for bucks.

      Feature, not bug. Now approve more DoD money. :/

  8. Wukchumni

    The viral AI avatar app Lensa undressed me—without my consent MIT Technology Review
    Lensa undresses myself
    I want you to strip me
    When I feel down
    I want you above me
    I search myself
    I want you to find me
    I forget myself
    I want you to remind me

    I don’t want anybody else
    When I think about you
    AI touches myself
    Oh, I don’t want anybody else
    Oh no, oh no, oh no

    You’re the app who makes me come runnin’
    You’re the one who makes me shine where the Sun doesn’t
    When you’re around, I’m always laughin’
    AI want to make you mine

    I close my eyes to the risk
    And see you before me
    Think I would die
    If you were to ignore me
    A fool could see
    Just how much I adore you
    I’d get down on my knees
    I’d do anything for you

    I don’t want anybody else
    When I think about you
    AI touches myself
    Oh, I don’t want anybody else
    Oh no, oh no, oh no, yeah

    AI touches myself (I don’t want)
    AI touches myself (Anybody else)
    AI touches myself (When I think about you)
    AI touches myself
    AI touches myself (I don’t want)
    AI touches myself (Anybody else)
    AI touches myself (When I think about you)
    I honestly do
    AI touches myself (I don’t want)
    AI touches myself (Anybody else)
    AI touches myself (When I think about you)
    I honestly do
    AI touches myself
    AI touches myself
    AI touches myself

    I Touch Myself, by the Divinyls

  9. The Rev Kev

    “Ukraine updates: Canada revokes Nord Stream sanctions waiver”

    DW is just plain gaslighting here. I mean seriously – ‘Canada says Vladimir Putin has shown no intention of bringing the pipeline back online.’ Who is going to pay to have those Nord Stream rebuilt? As the insides of those pipelines have been corroding ever since those explosions, probably the entire length of them would have to be totally replaced. And is this article suggesting that Russia still wants to send turbines to Canada to be serviced and repaired? By now the Russian would have written off those turbines. And those explosion did not just result in “leaks’ as stated by this article but they were blown all across the seafloor. It’s like saying that the Titanic had to stop mid-Atlantic in order to take on some ice. In a way I do not mind propaganda as it is like a cross-word challenge to take it apart and see how it is done. But articles like this DW one shows that the writer regards any readers as f****** idiots from the get-go. No respect.

    1. Wukchumni

      Pravda back in the day was too obvious (the winners of political elections back in the USSR would win garnering 98% of the vote-oddly similar to our 2% inflation mantra that nobody believes-just the flipside of the equation) and they had no track record of ever being honest about anything, whereas our 4th estate had to be somewhat of a bulwark against their lies once upon a time in the west, but not so forth write now in the late stages of Capitalism capitulating.

      1. The Rev Kev

        The difference with elections these days and those in the old USSR is computers and what can be done with them during elections going back at least to 2000. The ones these days in the Russian Federation are pretty honest going by the accounts of international observers but those in the US, well, not so much because of the insistence of using computers instead of paper & pencil.

        This reminds me of the time CIA agents that went to Russia after the USSR collapsed to compare notes with their former competitors – the KGB. They looked at the set-up that they had and even though they knew that the KGB were spying on virtually everybody, were shocked at the sheer number of agents employed to do so.

        When they asked those KGB agents why they had so many agents to spy on people when compared to what they had, the KGB agents told them that it was simple. Not that many Russians were using computers back then.

    2. Stephen

      Glancing at the nonsense on Twitter, the author may be right to be so contemptuous.

      I just saw a claim by some Ukrainian PR person that they found a Russian children’s torture chamber in Kherson. There is a child’s toy in a picture so that proves it.

      A few replies ask for evidence but the majority simply lap it up as evidence of Russian evil. They even trot out various lies that were written about Saddam for comparison and still believe them.

      It is like a bunch of people cheering on a football team. Appeals to an ancient tribal instinct that one would have hoped we had grown out of.

      1. hunkerdown

        On the contrary, it takes a great amount of effort to manufacture group identity. The tendency of people to be contained is a condition of the state’s existence. Therefore, we are discouraged from growing out of it.

    3. Marvine

      From Stieglitz article:

      “in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, nations—
      including the United States—responded with international sanctions on Russia. As a result, oil and food prices shot up to heights that were almost twice pre-pandemic levels.”

      We thought the United States strong armed other nations to impose sanctions? All we know is our food costs have doubled in part because of those fertilizer, energy and food sanctions. If Ukranian and Russian grain is sanctioned somewhere else, then that raises food prices here. We are in a global economy as they like to say.

      4 out of 5 of our customers say the war is bullshit and most hope peace breaks our, or Russia wins. Sure beats being turned into a standing pile of ash at any moment.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        That’s false too. Sanctions were imposed before the SMO started.

        Putin announced the recognition of the breakaway republics on Feb 21:

        On Feb 21:

        EU and US promise more sanctions against Russia as Putin recognises breakaway republics in Ukraine Euronews

        On Feb 22:

        U.S. Treasury Imposes Immediate Economic Costs in Response to Actions in the Donetsk and Luhansk Regions US Treasury

        One of many law firm hot takes:

        U.S. Announces Sanctions in Response to Putin’s Action in Ukraine Holland & Knight

        Feb 24:

        Putin announces SMO, which launched at 6:00 AM Moscow time:

    4. agent ranger smith

      Well, Putin didn’t break it, so why should Putin fix it? Let those who broke it be the ones to fix it.

      Anyway, by the time they decide to fix it, Russia will have enough gas pipelines to China and Japan and all the Lesser Tigers that Russia won’t have any gas left over to sell to Europe anyway. So the Nordstream lines will just stay broken, empty and gasless one way or another.

  10. Lexx

    ‘U.S. authorities charge 8 social media influencers in securities fraud scheme’

    This jogged my memory about something my husband was telling me as we drifted off to sleep last night, about a company wide alert that had gone out ahead of a story involving his employer.

    What was the relationship between the two men and what did they do with the money? Inquiring minds want to know. The locations are deeply conservative. Hailey, ID is a bedroom community in Sun Valley. West Linn is in Clackamas, County, south of Portland, that made the news last week as a place where persons unknown had caused a power outage shooting up a substation.

  11. The Rev Kev

    “Government cannot meet nurses’ pay demands, says UK health minister”

    Would you believe that Conservative Party Chairman and Cabinet Minister Nadhim Zahawi recently accused those going on strike of helping Russia, stating: ‘This is a time to come together and to send a very clear message to Mr. Putin that we’re not going to be divided in this way.’

    But if a bank fell over, there would be no problem getting the money to bail it out. And those banks wouldn’t be accused of helping Putin.

    1. Anonymous 2

      Well Zahawi helped Russia a great deal more by supporting Brexit. Shafted the UK and damaged its neighbours.

    1. Wukchumni

      Initially I felt sure that our Benito was the superspreader, him having so much experience in the oughts in that regard, but alas no dice as it was scientists so affected-not dismal scientologists.

      1. Wukchumni


        He learned economics early while waitering @ a Meskn’ restaurant in the deep south, where he would greet indulgers with a cheery:

        ‘Bienvenidos amigos… mi llamo Benito, may I start you with an endless supply of chips?’

      2. ambrit

        The problem with ‘dismal’ scientologists is that, once they stop being dismal, they no longer need to be audited. That would cause multiple problems since “Dismal Scientologists” are the ‘Gold Standard’ for our ascended times.
        You’re quite certain that “Benito” didn’t start off crewing on a certain yacht, are you?

        1. Wukchumni

          I’m sure he was Bi-Carolina curious and South of the Border is larger than Jeff’s ride, landlocked though just like his.

  12. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: In El Paso, migrants are sleeping on the streets after thousands crossed the border last weekend Texas Tribune

    He said Border Patrol agents took him into custody, processed him, then released him at the downtown bus station at noon on Sunday with a small group of migrants. Immigration officials gave him a document with the address of an Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Miami where he would need to report.

    He said he wants to find a job fishing in Florida and save up enough money to return to Nicaragua and buy a couple of taxis so he can have his own business.

    Can we please, finally, give up the fairy tale that, just because some soros globalist operative teaches these “asylum seekers” to say the word “asylum,” they are actually fleeing “political persecution” in their countries of origin? Or that bountiful america has provided so generously for all of its own citizens, that it now yearns to lift up every economic migrant from any corner of the world who can drag him or herself over the line to El Paso?

    It’s an invasion, pure and simple.

    1. Carolinian

      Of course it was always an invasion if you were a native American. I don’t think we can blame this on the poor people fleeing poverty although we probably should blame US policies that work to exacerbate that poverty. This latest wave supposedly came from Nicaragua, Venezuela and Peru. The first two are on the Biden/Trump enemies list and the story contains this interesting tidbit

      On the U.S. side of the river, he said Border Patrol agents asked all the Nicaraguans to form a line and told all the Venezuelans that they were going to be immediately sent back to Mexico, Wilson said.

      So if they come from our enemy du jour they get asylum just as Cubans automatically get asylum in Florida if they can make it to the beach. Perhaps the current administration prefers to send the Venezuelans back in order to make the poverty there even worse. Or something. The above is a curious tidbit.

      1. Pat

        Perhaps they assume everyone they send back will vote out the people currently being elected that they hate. I have no doubts our governmental braintrust would look at the numbers, make an assumption and act upon it, without ever actually talking with the immigrants to find out why they came.

      2. lyman alpha blob

        Indeed. Somehow the solution to this problem is never for the US to stop bombing or otherwise fomenting discord in the asylum seekers’ countries of origin.

    2. lyman alpha blob

      My small city is housing hundreds of asylum seekers right now, which is significantly adding to city expenses. The other night some liberal goodthinkers approached the city council asking for donations to build new transitional housing for asylum seekers, who aren’t allowed to work for several months after arrival. The requestors noted that two neighboring towns had already made low five figure donations respectively and pressured ours to follow suit.

      One council member noted that the proposed housing was unlikely to be “transitional” given the fact that there is just about zero affordable housing in the area for anyone to move into, even if you have two fairly high income earners. Given that recent immigrants tend to get low paying jobs driving a vehicle or mopping up vomit at the hospital, they aren’t likely to have many opportunities in the current housing market. The goodthinkers agreed, but want to build the damn thing anyway.

      The city manager pointed out that our city had already spent $13 million just this year taking care of asylum seekers, and if the two neighboring towns would like to take that off of our plates, our city would be glad to pony up $10k too. Hopefully the sarcasm was noted by the goodthinkers.

      Liberals act that if we just greet asylum seekers with a great big hug, all the problems caused by massive immigration will just disappear on their own. That clearly ain’t the reality of the actual situation on the ground.

      1. Verifyfirst

        Immigration happens. Everywhere. Always has, always will. Obviously, it should not be a local responsibility. We live in a failed state, currently called USA.

        Imagine being so desperate that abandoning everything and risking life and limb to get here appears to be your best (or only) option.

        1. lyman alpha blob

          No argument at all. But a handful of people moving because they’re curious about the rest of the world is one thing, and I’d argue it makes the world a richer place overall.

          Millions of people fleeing all at once and being herded en masse into places that are already under economic pressure is a whole other kettle of fish, and tends to pit communities against each other, as is happening in my area.

          Many of the asylum seekers are being housed in a neighborhood where there are also hotels filled with the US-born homeless. And there isn’t nearly the capacity to take care of the newly created destitute. I often wonder what the asylum seekers think as they look out the window and see all the USian natives living rough on the streets, huddled under a blanket in an alcove trying to keep warm as winter sets in. Do they ask themselves if they picked the wrong country to flee to?

          I barely recognize the town I’ve lived in for decades anymore. It’s all destitute homeless and refugees, or people with too much money from NYC coming in and buying up all the real estate at grossly inflated prices. What happened to the local middle class?

          1. JBird4049

            >>>What happened to the local middle class?

            They were sent to the streets while the remnants were consumed by the PMC Borg after most of the factories with their jobs were sent overseas. (Hi, China! And Mexico!)

            1. skippy

              The PMC or lastly known as the 20% are more concerned about their equity portfolios and not social cohesion or functional macroeconomics … rational agent model dictates it …

              Gasp think of the social consequences for uttering concern about the unwashed at some PMC event … total buzz kill … gotta be some market based solution where the worthy rise to the top and fix the thingy …

      2. Bsn

        We just have to get beyond using “liberal” or “right wing” tags – they don’t mean anything anymore. I am a flaming liberal (in the older sense of the word) being against Vietnam, Iraq and other endless wars. In “the day” right wingers were for them – kill those (darn) commies, support the troops, and all that. Well, over the last 3 years, especially since Covid, I find (what I had considered) right wing news much more fact based and with documentation to prove it – than “liberal” news outlets, NY Times, CNN, Krystal/Sagar, Young Turks …..

        Saying someone is liberal or right wing is like saying someone is a conspiracy theorist – it means and defines nothing. Good show last night on Glen Greenwald’s new System Update. In the early/mid 2000’s he was liberal now he’s right wing …. oh really? Who named him either? I propose it’s those who want to divide and obfuscate us.
        The show is here: Skip the first 24 minutes. It has a tech problem.

        1. Aumua

          I like the term post-left for Greenwald et al. He’s not a right winger per se but he has been cozying up to them for a while. I disagree also about the right, as it has pretty much remained its reactionary self, through some permutations of degree and nuance perhaps. The term liberal though (and now leftist in general) has been destroyed by right wingers in fact, who have an active tactic of throwing confusion around such words as a smokescreen to help them spread their rhetoric behind.

          In general, I think the left is quite diverse in its positions and ideologies, which perhaps makes it more prone to misrepresentation and obfuscation, while the right wing is more monolithic and always has been.

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            I strongly object to your smear of Greenwald. Greenwald does Greenwald and has balls of steel. Taking on Bolosonaro when he lives in Brazil was fearless.

            The idea that Greenwald, who already had a mini-empire by virtue of his readership (he doesn’t need a platform, as shown when the left the Guardian and then the Intercept), needs to curry favor is false. He’ll show up for shows with big enough audiences that will have him. The fact that it’s Tucker and not MSNBC reflects badly on MSNBC, not Greenwald.

            1. Aumua

              I strongly object to your smear of Greenwald.

              I know you do, but I don’t really mean it as a smear, and I’m well aware that he has done some great things. I still think there are some very real criticisms that can be leveled against the guy for his more recent behavior. I am trying to move away from conjecturing about his motives and/or character, so bear with me on that please.

          2. skippy

            I would state that FDR Bastardized the term Liberal from its classical status and now its been reverted too its original caste social system state.

            Per se Elon is a prime example of the old Liberal theology and hearkens back to the robber baron epoch and he is not alone by any means.

        2. JBird4049

          The misuse of language especially with political and economic terms is a feature of American politics. Communism, socialism, leftist, liberalism, moderate, conservatism, Democratic, Republican all have or had specific meaning in the past; advocating New Deal policies and laws will get you seriously called a communist.

          Personally, I don’t think I have changed my view much since the 80s except for being more liberal and leftist. However, I might be called a bigot because I don’t hew to the Woke worldview completely. And I would be labeled a communist merely because I don’t accept unregulated free market capitalism. And perhaps a conservative jingoistic white nationalist when I say I am an American nationalist or even that I am against open borders and wish to focus on my fellow Americans inside our borders. If I say I am anti-war and anti-military, and believe that almost all of Homeland Security especially the CIA, NSA, FBI, and immigration/border patrol should be leveled, plowed under, and the fields salted, I am not sure just what I would be called. A Putinist? Unpatriotic? Treasonous? But this was 60s-70s leftist views. Even Free Speech was big part of being on the left back when. Not anymore.

          I am saying what my views are to show that even though I believe haven’t changed (much) what I am labeled has. It would be true even if I was conservative from the 80s.

          What was mainstream views albeit more liberal and leftist is now verboten. The powers that be take a series of acceptable for them views and label one liberal and the other conservative when they are not. However, they are still labeled as such and the news media and associated social media says again and again the lies until people start to believe them.

          It is also possible to be a (classical) liberal and be a conservative. Liberalism as what came out of the Enlightenment is the basis for American political thought in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. It is just that the word liberalism has been twisted into meaning only leftist and later neoliberalism.

          It is a way to constrict the imagination of the possible to an increasingly narrow and conservative view. A view that is finance and wealth centered and treats anything not related to money as unimportant. Really, it is not conservative at all. Not in the old sense. It is a revolutionary view. But however you might perceive it because all the terms have been deliberately corrupted, you cannot have an intelligent discussion.

          This is why we need to reclaim the old meanings of the words. Even if we invented new word, they would almost immediately be corrupted by the same process using the same means by the same people. And without those clearly defined words we can’t have a conversation, nor can we have reforms.

    3. Verifyfirst

      How did your comment even get past Moderation? It’s offensive to sentient beings. “soros (sic) globalist”?!

      It’s not remotely an “invasion”. If you want to talk about invasions, Ukranians or Syrians fleeing to neighboring countries would come closer, as far as number of people involved. There are asylum seekers as well as economic refugees, though that is an obviously often arbitrary distinction. If you live in a place where political decisions have been made that it’s okay if you starve to death, or that a gangbanger shoots you in the head, I would suggest you are a “political” refugee from that state.

  13. SocalJimObjects

    US scientists boost clean power hopes with fusion energy breakthrough

    Here’s a take from Market Ticker:

    “So the laser beams contained 2.05MJ of energy but the unit consumed 300 MJ of energy to produce the 2.05 MJ of laser beams that was aimed at the target.

    In other words they produced about 1% of the energy they put in, not 120%.”

    1. Val

      The presser was rather pom-pom, handwavy and difficult to watch, but what a coincidence that the week Xi was in Saudi, Granholm wrangles the nazi bell out of the janitor’s closet at DoE.

      Fingers crossed for time travel applications anyhow.

    2. cfraenkel

      They were very careful to specify that the reaction produced more energy than the lasers input to the fuel.
      (still an interesting result, showing that yes, fusion reactions can do so, it’s one more step on the (long) road. I think that’s the commonly used meaning of ‘ignition’. ‘Self-sustaining’ is the milestone you’re looking for.)

      But this device is a dead end for producing useful energy, it always was, it wasn’t designed for energy production, etc etc. The article is just PR flacks PRing.

      Orwell had no imagination – his lies were falsehoods that got forced by the boot. Today’s liars use the truth.

    3. Oh

      I knew that this was a promo article for fusion tech nonsense. Therefore I refrained from reading it. I guess the group behind this rah rah about fusion wants more money for their “research”.

  14. Katniss Everdeen

    While “democracy” fights for its very life in america’s newest 51st state, madame zelensky settles her jangled nerves Christmas shopping in gay paree.

    “French Social Media Erupts as Store Clerk on Avenue Montaigne Reports Zelenskyy’s Wife Having €40,000 Christmas Shopping Spree in Paris”

    As sundance at The Conservative Treehouse notes,

    Mrs. Zelenskyy Christmas shopping in glitzy Paris stores and dropping €40,000 while her husband bangs his tin cup isn’t exactly a good look.

    Apparently, when the u.s. taxpayer’s got your financial back, beggars CAN be choosers, and madame chooses Paris.

    (No link as it tends to get the comment kicked.)

      1. Katniss Everdeen

        And while the lady zelensky soothes herself with retail therapy, here’s what her ukrainian sisters get to soothe themselves with:

        The organization can arrange jobs in Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö for women who want to become prostitutes for at least three weeks.

        According to the ad, the salary is $120 (roughly SEK 1,200) for 15 minutes and $220 (roughly SEK 2,200) for an hour. The women get to keep half of the money, the pimps take half. The women are expected to work from twelve in the day until one in the night and have sex with at least eight men a day.

        “OWO is included in the price,” writes the organization. The abbreviation stands for oral without, sucking without a condom. Furthermore, it is promised that all customers are pleasant and cultured.

        From today’s link: This is how women are lured into prostitution in Sweden 200 Seconds (Micael T)

        Who could ask for more than “pleasant and cultured?”

        1. ambrit

          I mentally transposed some city names in that first sentence you put up to: “The organization can arrange jobs in Stockton, Gotham City, and Miami for women who want to become “ladies of negotiable affection” for eternity.”
          Thus, Neo-liberalism takes over yet another “industry.”

          1. Martin Oline

            There was a comment (#111) by a user named SpanIt at the Moon Of Alabama site on December 12 that gives a Spanish drugstore truck driving man’s view of this dilemma. Many thought it was the comment of the day.

        2. The Rev Kev

          It’s strange that it is happening in Sweden. If I recall correctly, Sweden has some pretty harsh laws to do with prostitution where ‘it illegal to buy sex, but not to sell the use of one’s own body for such services.’ So if one of those Ukrainian girls tries to rent her body for sex, that is cool. But if a guy tries to rent her services, then they come down on him like a ton of brisks. Do-gooder legislation at work-

          1. Polar Socialist

            That’s what you get when you want to get rid of prostitution while not punishing the victims of prostitution. It’s in use in all Nordic countries, Canada, whole of Ireland, France and Israel.

            As far as I know, the sex workers don’t like it at all.

    1. Mildred Montana

      “…madame zelensky settles her jangled nerves Christmas shopping in gay paree.”

      Her motto must be, “Shop Loco”. Do they never learn? Is the word “optics” not in their vocabularies? I can’t help but be reminded of Marie Antoinette in 1789 France.

      Two-and-a-half months after the storming of the Bastille, where the people had expressed their violent displeasure with the state of things, she decided that it would be a good idea to hold a lavish banquet for over two hundred at the Palace of Versailles (taxpayer-funded of course).

      Word of this obscenity in the face of food shortages got out and five days later the people (mainly women) marched the thirteen miles from Paris to Versailles, captured the king and queen, and escorted them back to Paris where they were imprisoned. And that, effectively, was the end of the monarchy and the end of them. They were clearly out of their heads and justifiably separated from them in 1793.

      1. Tom Bradford

        she decided that it would be a good idea to hold a lavish banquet for over two hundred at the Palace of Versailles (taxpayer-funded of course).

        Seems she was an early believer in the trickle-down theory.

  15. The Rev Kev

    “Ukraine and the end of “Europe.”‘

    Without a total reformation of the EU, I am not sure that it is worth saving in its present form. Maybe it should revert back to it’s Common Market roots. How much say do average Europeans have in the EU? Are the people that supposedly represent them actually elected? Wasn’t Ursula von der Leyen just selected? And the same with Josep Borrell? But here is the thing for me. They go on about EU values but I am looking at what they do rather than what they say and here is what I am seeing-

    -Collective punishment
    -Censorship of the media and elimination of access to foreign media sources
    -Crackdowns on protesting
    -Imposition of laws on different member nations without agreement or real negotiations
    -The setting up of “special” justice courts on ad hoc basis.
    -Theft of foreign nation’s assets
    -Duplicity in negotiated agreement

    So I ask you. Is the EU in its present form worth saving – or does it need a massive overhaul and a strong injection of democracy and justice?

    1. Polar Socialist

      People on the top of EU are elected in the same sense that people in the top of China are elected. By representatives of representatives of people. Even EU organs admit that there’s “a democracy deficiency” but in a very modern way it’s a messaging problem more than anything else.

      Not that long time ago I would have agreed that EU could be saved with some serious reformation, but after seeing this year how it can trash and then trample on all of it’s principles and rules without pretty much any resistance I don’t think it should exist. Europe is not mature enough to have a supranational structure yet.

      1. spud

        yep, brexit was handled badly, but its there country now. they now have the sovereignty needed to gain control of their destiny.

        brexit will weaken the hold the street has, and that’s a good thing.

  16. Cian

    Revenue strikes are illegal in the UK. If the RMT did that then the Tory government would be able to shut them down.

    1. ambrit

      That’s the beauty of striking. It always ends up being conducted “illegally,” until the laws are changed.
      It’s like the old joke:
      “What were you doing in the Civil War?”
      “Rebelling against the Government.”
      “But isn’t that treason?”
      “Not if you win.”

    2. Jeff W

      As Mick Lynch explained on TalkTV (via this clip on Novara Media) back in August.

      It’s interesting that in Japan (and, as Mick Lynch notes, Australia), such strikes are not illegal but I think it would have been better if some editorial note followed the tweet noting the substance of what Lynch said.

  17. KD

    Ukraine is winning:

    The Russians have what, 20 to 25% of the country now, the regions with the best fields and the petro reserves, and the Ukrainians can’t move the front line. . . except when the Russians make a calculated and coordinated withdrawal with minimum casualties (for the Russians). Ukranian forces are suffering massive attrition, and even if the implausible stories that Russia has suffered comparable losses were true, Russia has plenty of more bodies than Ukraine. Russia has conducted a grand total of one mobilization at this time, Ukraine is on number what at this point? And what are they getting, women and old men? Not your traditional infantry reserves, nor will they be particular thrilled if they get captured by Wagner forces. How long is that going to go on? Not to mention disparities between artillery, air support and air defense, fuel, armored vehicles, etc. even with all the magic help from NATO. Supposedly there are 80K Russian troops on the Belarusian border that could strike at any time, which would create a real mess for Ukraine in terms of supply lines as well as diverting troops from the annexed territories.

    Victory in the Ukraine at this point consists of i.) keeping the conflict from going nuclear, ii.) hoping the front line mostly holds and propping up the UA until the 2024 election cycle ends. My fear is that there is a significant collapse and a political development that make the Afghanistan pull-out seem both glorious and well-coordinated in comparison. I don’t know where the Republicans really are on this war, and I think they don’t know either because they are holding their spit-soaked fingers into the wind, but if the momentum decisively shifts to the Russians, don’t be surprised if this becomes “Biden’s War” and a political albatros the size of the Azov Sea.

    Not /sarc.

    1. Lex

      This is exactly the contours of the political situation in the US. Not visible yet, but all signs point to it being a probable development. And it’s quite dangerous because if Biden perceives it this way, he’s likely to make panic decisions.

      I’m a little worried that if there is evidence of Biden family corruption in Ukraine, it’s Ukrainians who have it. Dangerous business for the puppet to have serious power over the master.

      1. lyman alpha blob

        “…if there is evidence of Biden family corruption in Ukraine…”

        What do you mean, if?

        1. KD

          Dangerous business for the puppet to have serious power over the master.

          I don’t know, maybe you should talk to one of JFK’s old girlfriends about that. . . oh wait, they’ve all been randomly murdered or committed suicide.

      2. Cine Tee

        With the US financially and politically broken inside the country, and frittered away soft power around the world, I’ve wondered of a worst case scenario:
        1. Neocons don’t mind inching toward making a big mess out of Ukraine, and trigger a NATO-Russia war eventually.
        2. They convince themselves that Putin is too rational to ever go fully nuclear even if Russia is about to be overcome by the use of tactical nukes.
        For the first time, I’m not sure there’s enough sanity in the west to stop the escalation regardless of the cost.

    2. Oh

      The Republicans pigs feed at the same (DOD) trough as the Democrats. I don’t see them ending the war except maybe making a token opposition to it or saying “we can do it better”. We are truly family blogged.

      1. KD

        I disagree, without necessarily rejecting your premise.

        1.) Its not DOD (which has produced the sanest and soundest analysis and input contra State, MSM or the cast of retired Generals/defense contractor lobbyists platformed by the MSM).

        2.) it is the Defense Industry that they are beholden to (IC in MIC). After all, military is structurally Marxist-Leninist to the core (if you want the closest thing to the Cuban experience, join the Armed Services), the capitalist profit is in defense contracts and weapon sales.

        But here is the deal: all the hardware has gone to Ukraine, so the US has to up the defense budget to replace it, so Defense Industry profits are locked in at this point. Ukraine is just getting all the junk.
        Also, NATO has pledged to step up, and the US will “persuade” them to obtain US defense platforms, purchase of which will be necessary to maintain an integrated NATO command and forces uniformly trained on the same platforms and tactics.

        The gravy train is locked in at this point, so it doesn’t matter if the pols support Ukraine or not from the standpoint of the Defense Industry. The only political issue that remains is who gets the credit or the blame for what the cooking tastes like on the backside of this war. If it goes as many expect, it will become a disaster, and it will be easy for the GOP to play Monday morning quarterback and blame Biden and the Dems for the disaster, and they will. If it goes swimmingly, great, but I don’t see how it could with the disparities between materials and the nations respective capacity replace casualties, not to mention the only reason Ukraine hasn’t collapsed into hyper inflation is about $5 billion per month in hard currency from their allies. If/as soon as that goes away, the Ukrainian army will collapse in a month.

  18. diptherio

    Re: Liberals struggle to find viable Twitter alternative after Musk takeover

    The article quotes a month old tweet saying Mastodon has “more than 2 million users.” A couple of days ago, on Mastodon, someone tooted that we just passed 8.5 million. The migrations from twitter to the particular Masto instance I’m a member of has slowed a good bit from the November peak but it’s still happening (from 5-10 new members per day to about 1 or 2 per day now).

    1. Bsn

      Who owns it and who works there? If it’s a social media app, I’ll wager on the answer to both of those questions.

      1. diptherio

        Mastodon is a federated, open source, app. So lots of people own instances, some of which are owned collectively (like, my home instance), some of which are run by individuals on donations, and a few run by non-profit and for-profit institutions. Which is to say, your questions don’t have meaningful answers for Mastodon as a social media app.

  19. Chas

    The spectacular lobster picture today reminds me that I found an article about a new type of lobster trap that eliminates the problem of whales becoming entangled in lobster lines that run from the buoy on the surface to the trap on the ocean floor. It’s a story from the Toronto Star about the new trap and the man who invented it. Will the world beat a path to his door?

  20. Wukchumni

    Still 10 days away from the hap hap happiest time of the year and we’ve yet to receive any of the usual onslaught of xmas cards from friends and family, nothing.

    I wonder if like a lot of old practices, its waning in popularity?

    1. curlydan

      Same here, but most days I wonder if that’s because I only get mail about 1 out of 3 days thanks to the crapification of the Post Office. Last night (Wednesday), I got mail about 9PM after not receiving anything for 4-5 days. It seems I’m in an area with a temp route that carriers only choose to pickup (after their regular routes) maybe once in a few days.

      USPS will be crushed in 20 years–all according to plan.

    2. kareninca

      I am having the same experience this year. It is really striking; I don’t know what is up. As of last year’s Christmas, things were as usual, despite so many strange things going on. But this year, almost nothing.

  21. Cristobal

    Regarding the link to Aurelien: A very interesting piece. In his discussion of ¨Europe¨ he has left out the presence of the US. He notes that the language of the Eurocrats is some crippled version of Engllish, but why is it English? No European country speaks English – Great Britain is only an associate member of the continent. The US is the invisable elephant in the Europen Community, and that is its problem. As has been said many times (the purpose of the EU is to keep . . . ) the EU is the means by which the US imposes its economic neo-liberalism on the continent. After the fairly turbulent post-WWII era in which Greece, Italy, even Britain, and other countries dabled with ¨socialistic¨ governments, the EU was established to bring order to the continent under the ¨guidance¨ of the US. The Marshall Plan opened the door to the introduction of the transnational corporations, key to the neoliberal globalization, into Europe. The US has been an integral part of the EU since the beginning, the most important part.

    It is worth noting that almost all of the European countries have an imperial past of their own. The French Empire, the Spanish, Belgian, English, German, Italian and so on have all left a nostalga in their respective contries for the long lost ability to have their way with smaller and weaker countries. After WWII, joining forces with the new big bully made sense.
    Aurelien is correct in saying that the EU does not have a foreign policy. Poor Mr. Borrell, the high muckety muck in charge of stationary and frequent flyer miles, is nothing more than a punching bag. As was brutally exposed in his interactions with Mr. Lavrov, Mr. Borrell is required to utter inane and ridiculous platitudes as a job requirement and be humiliated in public for doing so. The foreign policy department of the EU is NATO. Period. The United States determines the foreign policy of the EU through NATO.

    The Ukraine war is almost certain to result in changes – reallignments or ruptures – within the EU. We cannot consider ¨Europe´s¨ future without considering its relation with NATO. Aurelien´s distinction between Europe and ¨Europe¨ is very useful. If Europe is going to survive economically and politically, it is going to have to shake free of the US/NATO yoke. Easier said than done. Left alone, it may be possible for the European countries to make common cause on domestic issues like trade, immigration, free movement , maybe even taxes. Foreign policy is another matter. Not being a native European I do not know the level of Rusofobia that exists in various parts of Europe, and how much of it is induced by propoganda from the third party which cannot be named. I don´t think it is just Rusofobia, there is enough intercene national hatred to go around among all the EU members. Perhaps the EU could benefir from adopting the five principals of Zhou Enlai:
    -mutual respect for each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty,
    -mutual non-aggression,
    -mutual non-interference in each other’s internal affairs,
    -equality and co-operation for mutual benefit, and
    -peaceful co-existence

  22. Butch

    “Inflation is Falling Much Faster Than Most People Know” I take it this guy doesn’t do his own grocery shopping. His figures and suppositions may even be legit, but when we common stiffs (who may even be stupid enough to believe in voting) are asked how they feel about inflation, it’s the bills and how little is left over for foolish things like food and medicine, not annualized inflation.

    1. Carolinian

      Groceries are inflating so fast that some stores fail to keep the shelf price tags up to date. If the discrepency is great enough I find myself arguing with the checkout (and winning).

      On the other hand a few items have fallen back in price as supplies improve or demand plummets. Grocery stores where I live do still have to compete with each other.

      1. vao

        Interestingly, where I live, supermarkets have this year been introducing electronic shelf price tags. They look exactly like the previous paper tags, including dimension, fonts, colours, arrangement of textual information, etc, and thus a cursory look at them will not necessarily reveal the substitution.

        They are remotely controlled, so price adjustments can take place seamlessly. In fact, this is how I noticed the tags had changed to electronic IoT, because at some point during shopping a number of tags were curiously flashing before settling on the price information.

        They do not seem to be linked to merchandise RFID though, as I saw at least one case of such a tag wrongly associated to a product (i.e. tag for a cleaning product on the shelf for some foodstuff).

        1. Carolinian

          That is high tech. How about this. Just the other day I was wheeling a grocery basket to a remote parking spot I normally don’t use and the wheels, or one of them, suddenly locked up. I looked down and the wheel had a red plastic box attached and I realized the cart had “electronic fencing” like those collars that pets wear. Every time I would push it over a particular place it would lock.

          This particular grocery is next to a paved rail trail and evidently homeless people, or just nearby residents, had been wheeling them off.

          I’d say both our observations are unsettling signs of the times.

  23. lyman alpha blob

    RE: The U.S. will provide free Covid tests to American households through the Postal Service

    Will the US also defenestrate the current Postmaster General and all the other neoliberals appointed to slowly dismantle and privatize the Post Office, so that those tests actually arrive sometime in the current century?

    1. Verifyfirst

      Re: free Covid tests–bizarre Biden administration is sending out free tests, when they explicitly also tell you, via CDC, not to use said tests to determine if you can go back to regular life after being sick.

      And the rapid tests seem to not be picking up the current versions of Covid until 3-5 days into symptoms, leaving most people–who might test once or twice, if at all, to declare they have Not Covid and carry on.

      We also were having terrible delivery problems of the mail–erratic, no deliveries, and 10 pm deliveries, for months, to the point I was late paying some bills until I realized the scope of the problem. Remarkably, our Congressperson (Debbie Dingell, who I did not vote for in my distaste for dynastic successions) organized a community meeting and dragged the local postmaster to it–300 people showed up (pre-Covid), and we have had zero mail problems since! Remarkable.

      1. Verifyfirst

        I should add–the “dragging the local postmaster” to the meeting by Representative Dingell, as reported locally, consisted of this: on the day of the scheduled community meeting, said postmaster announced they nor their staff could attend, due to the Hatch Act (prohibiting federal employees from participating in some types of political activities). Ms. Dingell then personally called the then Republican Chair of the House Committee which oversees the Post Office, who said not so, and the local postmaster had to go to the meeting! Pretty cool actually.

    2. cyclist

      Just an observation about the brand of Covid tests shown in the photo: I have some of these (my county distributes these) and they are manufactured in China. Not that I have a problem with that, but interesting in light of all the sanctions and economic war being drummed up against that country.

  24. semper loquitur

    Sign O’ the Times:

    I watched a meme video yesterday that’s too doofy to post here. It did have one bit that jumped out. It was a grocery store shelf with cases of Mountain Dew for sale. The price tag read something to the effect of: 11.99$ or 4 monthly payments of 3+$ using (payment service).

  25. agent ranger smith

    I agree with a comment I think I remember reading here in the past.

    Crypto currency is a school for swindle. It was never legitimate. It never will be.

    Attempting governmental regulation of it would lend it a perfume of legitimacy it will never deserve. Let it remain forever a Darwinian tarpit and a roach motel for fools and suckers.

    Let the Bonfire of the Cryptos burn them all, including Bitcoin most of all. Think of the energy saved and the carbon no longer emitted when the very last Bitcoin mine finally caves in on the very last Bitcoin miner.

  26. The Rev Kev

    ‘Scrooge McDumpling
    Let’s try out a 4-day workweek!’

    Those tilted toilet seat remind me of something that I saw once. back in the 70s they had seats like that in the McDonalds in one store in Sydney which I have never seen elsewhere. There was no way that you could sit on them for long and in fact you found yourself sliding after only a few minutes. Never went there again of course.

  27. The Rev Kev

    ‘Carl Zha
    The legislation would also ban ALL Chinese social media GLOBALLY including Wechat. Tencent owned gaming companies would be next.’

    Let’s hope that the Chinese don’t go all Soup Nazi on the US in return with something like denial of medical drugs or rare earths exports. That would not be good.

    And may I say that Tracie H’s dog is one good looking doggie? Not sure what breed though.

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