Links 12/16/2022

Mumbai Embraces Its Booming Flamingo Population Hakai

Aliens haven’t contacted Earth because there’s no sign of intelligence here, new answer to the Fermi paradox suggests Live Sciences. Alternatively….

Peering back to before the cosmic dawn: astronomers unveil first results from the JWST Physics World

Too Much Gloom and Doom? Willem Buiter, Project Syndicate

The Roll-Up Economy: The Business of Consolidating Industries with Serial Acquisitions American Economic Liberties


Money and the Climate Crisis (symposium) Phenomenal World

Keystone Pipeline open again, but leaky section in Kansas still shut down ABC


House Subcommittee Report Details Pandemic Failures, Lessons Learned MedPage. Clyburn was chair. I might as well just leave my yellow waders on permanently. To be fair, both administrations get the back of the hand from the report, but not enough. Not nearly enough.

* * *

SARS-CoV-2 infection and persistence in the human body and brain at autopsy Nature (Mary). From the Abstract: “[W]e detected persistent SARS-CoV-2 RNA in multiple anatomic sites, including throughout the brain, as late as 230 days following symptom onset in one case. Despite extensive distribution of SARS-CoV-2 RNA throughout the body, we observed little evidence of inflammation or direct viral cytopathology outside the respiratory tract. Our data indicate that in some patients SARS-CoV-2 can cause systemic infection and persist in the body for months.”

A Covid-19 Milestone Attained — A Correlate of Protection for Vaccines NEJM. “The rapid identification of a correlate of protection (CoP) for Covid-19 vaccines — on the basis of several harmonized randomized phase 3 trials using common validated assays — constitutes an important success in vaccinology. A CoP is an immune marker that can be used to reliably predict a vaccine’s level of efficacy in preventing a clinically relevant outcome…. Once established, a CoP can be used as the primary end point for provisional or full approval of a vaccine for a specific use, if a clinical immunobridging study confirms that high enough levels of the CoP are achieved…. we should acknowledge that neutralizing antibodies are the current CoP for vaccine efficacy, which merits use for near-term decisions about vaccines.” Worth reading in full, since this view is not universal.

* * *

Lockdowns put us at the mercy of disease Telegraph. Moar GBD. Commentary:

Ebola vaccines produced lasting antibodies during trial: Studies Al Jazeera


Next China: Let It Rip Bloomberg

China orders rural hospitals to brace for Covid-19 as millions expected to travel for Lunar New Year South China Morning Post. Rurals: “Shanghai, Beijing: Thanks for nothing!”

Chinese Communist Party embraces the global “forever COVID” policy WSWS

2. “Victory will ultimately belong to the heroic Chinese people!” Sinocism

Beijing death toll mounts as Covid sweeps through Chinese capital FT

* * *

“If China Sneezes, Shipping Will Catch a Cold”: A Saying More Timely Than Ever Hellenic Shipping News. A cold they can’t shake…

The US’ Scorched Earth Policy for Taiwan The Real Politick

How to Stop Chinese Coercion Foreign Affairs


Myanmar and the International Criminal Court (PDF) Special Advisory Council for Myanmar


Without a leader or clear alternative to the regime, Iran’s protests risk ‘fizzling out’ France24. “Symbols fuel the revolt.” Hmm.

Qatar’s arms imports soared in the decade after FIFA awarded it the 2022 World Cup Open Secrets

The Night Raids Pro Publlica

European Disunion

Pandora Papers: Dominique Strauss-Kahn under investigation by French authorities Le Monde

Hiding in plain sight (review) Times Literary Supplement. The deck: “How Josephine Baker became a spy for the Allies.”

Dear Old Blighty

Largest nursing strike in NHS history starts BBC

Verging on parody!

New Not-So-Cold War

Russia launches new deadly strikes across Ukraine BBC. Handy map:

Though I’m not entirely sure where AZ Geopolitics is located. I suppose Azerbaijan could be said to be in the “Eastern Roman Empire”….

Ukraine – What Its Military Leadership Says Moon of Alabama. Sounds like a veiled plea for strikes to the east of the Urals, to me. We need some out-of-trench thinking, here.

The Russian Army Is Preparing for a Fresh Attack Foreign Policy

* * *

Putin’s Long War Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

How Putin’s technocrats saved the economy to fight a war they opposed FT

U.S. cable warns of major barriers to tracking Ukraine aid Politico

Biden Administration

Elizabeth Warren unveils bipartisan bill to crack down on crypto money laundering CNN

Supply Chain

Union Pacific railroad shipping embargoes raise complaints Freight Waves

Trucker Bathroom Access Act introduced by bipartisan Representatives Back the Truck Up

The Bezzle

Crypto Bros Want Your 401(k) The Lever


What is nuclear fusion? The science – and a new milestone – explained World Economic Forum. Yes, but can we put nuclear fusion on the blockchain?

10 Ways AI Was Used for Good This Year Scientific American. I’ll write the headline: “Our Fusion-Powered AI Future.” Those seem to be the current elite brainworms, along with eugenics, of course, but nobody talks about that.

Can an AI Chatbot Replace the Washington Blob? The Upheaval


I’ve Been Plagued by Medical Debt for Years. Here’s What Happened When I Tried to Pay a $2 Medical Bill. Slate

World Cup

The Qatar FIFA World Cup 2022 and camel pageant championships increase risk of MERS-CoV transmission and global spread The Lancet. So far as I can tell, everything said here about MERS-CoV goes double for SARS-CoV-2, which is far more contagious. GM comments:

The Middle East countries have been for a decade so far very good and containing all MERS outbreaks.

It helps that it is not very transmissible, likely because of the tropism shift it undergoes in humans — apparently the Dpp4 receptor that it uses has a flipped distribution in camels vs. humans, with it being in the URT in camels, and in the lower lung in humans. Which is why it is a cold for camels, but it is deadly for humans, but also why it does not transmit efficiently.

Do we really want to test that though?

But what do we have now?

The whole world converging into huge maskless crowds in tiny Qatar.

Good luck running contact tracing or any kind of containment operation in that kind of situation.

Perfect storm….

Kingsley Coman is third French player to fall ill ahead of World Cup final UPI. Presumably they’d be in moon suits if the unnamed the illness was MERS, and the whole team would be isolated, and if anything went wrong, the entire venue would be sealed off, and who wants that, so….

Can community gardens bring rural and urban farmers together after disasters? Q&A with Sprout NOLA’s Terence Jackson Southerly

Class Warfare

Strike Looming for Macy’s Employees in San Francisco Amid the Holiday Rush NBC. Good. Maybe whoever turns on the Xmas music will be on the picket line instead.

Labor’s Lost Michael Lind, The Tablet

Where do we touch down? (review) London Review of Books. Bruno Latour. More goddamned books to read.

Once You See the Truth About Cars, You Can’t Unsee It NYT

Antidote du jour (via):

Bonus antidote:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


    1. griffen

      Writing terms like “investing for retirement” and “trust with” and “crypto” into a cohesive sentence is above my pay grade. Sure, let someone else lose their shirt on the shiny new tulip bulbs. Just looking at Bitcoin as the most liquid quoted example, Crypto is losing more than the DOW or the SP 500 thus far this year and that is making a statement.

      1. Lexx

        We have about $150k in an IRA hanging ten for dear life on the S&P 500, and some bad words for ‘The Oracle of Omaha’.

      2. Stephen V

        How about “crypto arbitrage” and “AI monitors” in the same sentence? As my client wrote to me yesterday.
        He said he will realize a “profit” of $60k on his $200k “investment “–in 20 days.
        Not knowing whether to laugh or cry I wished him good luck and told him U.ncle S.ugar will treat his “profit” as capital gain.

        1. Objective Ace

          Aren’t capital gains only on an asset held for a year?.. More likely this would be treated as earned income

        2. Oh

          An acquaintance of mine proudly announced to me about a month ago that he was going to ‘invest’ in crypto because the returns from savings are so low. I told him he’d lose the money but his answer was he’d invest only alittle of the $500K he made from selling his house. I’m sure Sam (of pyramid fame) took care of his money.

  1. timbers

    Russia launches new deadly strikes across Ukraine BBC

    According to the first 9 paragraphs, one might reasonably conclude Russia is targeting residential buildings and civilians. Then this: “The attacks cut power throughout Ukraine’s second biggest city Kharkiv as well as in the Sumy region close to the northern border with Russia and in the central cities of Poltava and Kremenchuk. Kharkiv Mayor Igor Terekhov spoke of “colossal destruction of infrastructure” which we are told is Russia “weaponizing winter.” All this, despite Ukraine intercepting 37 out of 40 missiles and Russia couldn’t even do that if Iran wasn’t giving Russia so much military aid and the UN humanitarian rights officials say Russia is bad. The BBC further enlightened by splaining to us it is unclear why Russia is targeting power infrastructure (when she is not targeting residential buildings and civilians).

    Many of have seen Helmers map showing a dead zone as a buffer against a defeated Ukraine. IMO, even if that is possible to do, it would be even more difficult to do and maintain with the Dnieper bridges intact. Russia may be planning to do this, but is she is, I do not understand why the those bridges are still standing as eliminating them would bring other benefits right now.

    1. Polar Socialist

      It seems that the current count is 76 missiles with 60 intercepted and 40+ hitting their targets. Yup, doesn’t add up. I know.

      Anyway, Sumy region wasn’t even attacked, it lost power because it depends completely on the Ukrainian grid that obviously went down in large parts of the country.

    2. Yves Smith

      The bridges allow Ukraine to bring its men and materiel to Donbass to then be demilitarized by Russia. Far better for Russia to have short supply lines and good hospitals nearby and the reverse for Ukraine.

      The bridges are of reduced value to Ukraine with Russia having taken out electricity and nearly all Ukraine trains being electrically powered. Moving by truck is way less efficient even before getting to the fact that Ukraine is running low on vehicles of all kinds.

      Taking out the bridges would also signal a lack of interest in taking Odessa and reduce the number of routes Russia could use to threaten Kiev, if it intended to do that.

      In other words, taking out the bridges is not of high military value given the grid attacks, limits future options, and has information content. Leaving them in place gives Russia maximum flexibility.

      It might also take a shit ton of cruise missiles (bridges are very sturdy) that for the same expenditure could arguably be better deployed elsewhere (I doubt Russia is running short but it does not want to be profligate about using them either. They are high value resources).

      IMHO the only way it is unambiguously worth doing is if Russia were to take the risk of doing a big arrow attack between the current line of contact (as in to the west of it) from the Russian border across the largely empty area behind the westernmost Ukraine fortifications and the Dnieper. Then you take out the bridges to protect the flanks. However, I doubt Russia would do any big arrow movement unless Russia were pretty confident that the Ukraine military was so degraded that it could not muster much of a counter-attack.

      1. redleg

        Leaving the bridges intact, for the moment, makes targeting the traffic that much easier. Movement over the river in either direction can be monitored and bombarded. The traffic crossing a bridge is easier to destroy from a distance than the beige itself.

      2. The Rev Kev

        When it comes time, the Russian need only drop a coupla spans and that bridge would be totally out of action as far as any retreating Ukrainians are concerned. But if the supports are untouched, then it may not take so long down the track to put that bridge back into commission again. Look at how quickly the Crimean bridge is being repaired. Yes, it is war conditions now so reconstruction may be too dangerous to do under fire but when this war ends eventually, then having these bridges repairable will be a factor in rebuilding this region.

    3. Gregorio

      It’s interesting how we never hear one word in the western corporate/state media about how poor ammunition starved Ukraine is wasting their precious rockets, attacking civilian areas of Donetsk instead of using them on Russian military targets.

  2. The Rev Kev

    “Aliens haven’t contacted Earth because there’s no sign of intelligence here, new answer to the Fermi paradox suggests”

    There could be all sorts of reasons why this is so. Perhaps aliens have made it a rule not to contact a civilization until they develop their own warp technology first allowing them space travel. Or maybe they have their own variation of the Prime Directive where they are forbidden to interfering in the normal development of any society that they come across. Or maybe it is just a matter of “Sliding Doors.” Like the article says, they came here 50,000 years ago when there was little worth staying for and so just filed an anthropological report for the Archives.

    As a teenager I thought of the possibility of two similar Earths – ours and another light years away. So we know our own history but I wondered what would have happened if Earth Two had an identical level of development except for one thing. Whereas our Earth lapsed into a sort of Dark Ages for several centuries, theirs had their very own Hari Seldon who succeeded in having their Dark Ages last only a century or two. So technologically, they would be in about the 24th century while we are still in the first quarter of the 21st century. So would it be a good idea to be contacted by them and have them share their much more advanced technology with us when we are not sure how it would be put to use? I can see it now – ‘Hey, they just gave us the blueprints for an anti-matter power plant. We should totally build it!’

    1. SocalJimObjects

      What would these aliens be hoping to gain by contacting Earth? An alien race capable of super long distance communication is probably not lacking in many things, but then again the Ferengis might do it for commercial reasons, so perhaps there’s hope for us yet.

      1. Val

        Everybody loves Mexican food.

        Douglas Adams mentioned nachos, but also sneakers and cocaine. We gots skills.

        No doubt a good idea to keep the human race away from harnessing “unlimited energy” until there is some evidence of moral development, nachos notwithstanding.

        1. SocalJimObjects

          Everyone? Really? Most everyone outside of North America would disagree. For me at least real Mexican food is only ok, the Americanized version is much better. I went to Mexico City once and went on a couple of food tours ran by local people, and they were just … ok. American Burritos through are a different matter altogether.

    2. Stephen

      If those aliens have the Prime Directive, then they must be so much smarter than the modern day west on Planet Earth. Which is not saying so much and maybe confirms the first hypothesis that they do not think we are intelligent enough to bother with.

      Now I think of it too, was not the Federation modeled on a post apocalyptic view of the galaxy. One in which we had achieved an internal peace that looked very much like an idealized view of 1960s America, even down to the name of the starship USS Enterprise.

      I wonder then if the Prime Directive was a subliminal political statement too. Back in the days when scriptwriters maybe challenged the received narratives of government in a smart way and there was plenty of interference in other countries going on.

        1. ambrit

          The Prime Directive is also being used here on Terra. Witness the proscriptions on ‘outside’ contact with some Amazonian tribes and that peculiar island in the Indian Ocean.
          I have always been of the opinion that so called “primitive” peoples popping the missionaries in the pot is a sign of cultural maturity and self respect.
          Stay safe. Keep watching the skies!
          See, in glorious black and white:

    3. johnherbiehancock

      I assume any alien species that can develop to our level of technology without: a) destroying their planet’s climate by overtaxing its resources and polluting the atmosphere, land, and oceans, or b) not blowing themselves up with nuclear weapons, would have a certain level of “self control” and prudence that humanity as a whole lacks.

      I’d imagine such a reasonably prudent species would wait and study another species before deciding to make contact, and how to make contact. If they did that with humanity for any amount of time, they’d likely say “Yeah, good luck to them, but we are swiping LEFT on our interstellar contact app!”

      Better off to leave us here to kill ourselves off, which looks to be the outcome sooner or later. Or wait it out and see what sort of human civilization re-emerges after the planet recovers from the climate disaster we’ve inflicted on it.

      1. Mildred Montana

        Having seen, along with hundreds of other people, a UFO at close range, I am firmly convinced that “they” have already visited us. They have checked us out and found us supremely uninteresting, in the same way that a plane full of anthropologists might look on a primitive tribe as they pass over the Amazon. In the Milky Way or elsewhere in the universe species like us are probably a dime-a-dozen.

        I agree with you that they are evolved far beyond us, and the qualities of “self-control” and “prudence” they have acquired over the eons have allowed them to avoid self-destruction.

        I also think that they might even perceive us as potentially dangerous given the stunted emotional development of Homo Sapiens. That would explain why they show little of themselves on their rare visits and don’t have much to do with us. Or why they haven’t landed and offered seminars on physics or dropped leaflets bearing a few useful equations to help us out with our technological advancement (I am being only slightly tongue-in-cheek).

        1. AndrewJ

          Agreed. Why would any intelligent life want to deal with our species, or help us leave our planet? We’re primarily concerned with killing each other in a variety of ways, and trashing our home. They swiped left, and with good reason. Poets are a dime a dozen.
          No wonder those Navy videos of the tic-tac UFOs show them interested in the ocean. I’d rather talk to whales as well.

        2. Jason Boxman

          I also think that they might even perceive us as potentially dangerous given the stunted emotional development of Homo Sapiens. That would explain why they show little of themselves on their rare visits and don’t have much to do with us. Or why they haven’t landed and offered seminars on physics or dropped leaflets bearing a few useful equations to help us out with our technological advancement (I am being only slightly tongue-in-cheek).

          For an interesting take on this, I’ve been reading “Three Body Problem” series of books. The English translation of the original Chinese reads quite well, with a handful of foot notes per book about Chinese specific cultural references to aid in comprehension.

          1. marku52

            That is a brilliant read. One favorite part is the alien king sets up a microprocessor using clusters of the population to create logic gates, with waving flags to signal the output of operations. Best scri fi book of the last several years. Very interesting take on the cultural revolution, which the author lived through.

        3. C.O.

          I strongly suspect that “primitive tribes” everywhere on earth wish with all their hearts and minds anthropologists did not find them interesting. But they do. Luckily, extraterrestrials are cleverer and more ethical than many anthropologists from the look of it!

        4. JTMcPhee

          I’d hope that planeload of anthropologists would be SERIOUSLY interested in that primitive tribe, for professional reasons and curiousity. And profit, of course.

          A planeload of politicians, or economists, likely lots of disinterest…

    4. Mikel

      Who knew the “new answer to the Fermi paradox” was one of the oldest jokes around?
      And it’s one of those cheeky jokes or comments many made with understanding it could well be true. Hence the humor…

    5. Synoia

      The aliens would have to find a way around Relativity, and travel faster than light. Based on our current knowledge of these there will never be a boom in interstellar travel by any species.

      Leaving home and returning after your grandchildren have passed does not appear encourage such tourist holidays.

      1. Aumua

        maybe some kind of interdimensional travel can bypass all those problematic things. or maybe we’re just stuck where we are for the most part and are gonna just have to figure this sh*t out. it’s not looking very hopeful rn.

      2. Grebo

        Relativity is actually a help, provided you can accelerate fast enough. A ship cannot go faster than light from an outside observers viewpoint but for those on the ship it just keeps getting faster due to time dilation.

        That approach also brings problems though. How do you avoid getting squashed by massive acceleration, how do you avoid getting fried by starlight blue-shifting into gamma rays, how do you avoid specks of dust that will hit you like atom bombs… How do you even generate such acceleration?

        The only thing that will do it is some kind of anti-gravity drive. Which might as well be magic by our current understanding.

    6. Ted

      Why does everyone thing Aliens from other places would want to leave their homes and environment to look for ? Maybe they are happy , and respect one another and take care of their environment and have never considered leaving or destroying anything . Just the opposite of the mess we find ourselves in.

    7. Vandemonian

      I’ll just leave this here:

      The universe itself keeps on expanding and expanding
      In all of the directions it can whiz
      As fast as it can go, the speed of light you know
      Twelve million miles a minute and that’s the fastest speed there is

      So remember when you’re feeling very small and insecure
      How amazingly unlikely is your birth
      And pray that there’s intelligent life somewhere up in space
      Cause there’s bugger-all down here on Earth

  3. griffen

    Aliens visit and are asked to be taken to the world leader. Upon learning that a former world leader, brash and outspoken, lives in Mar A Lago and owns golf courses, they seem set on visiting that leader and walk away with all manner of MAGA hats and clothing gear.

    Upon leaving earth, one remarks they just don’t get it. “Guy seems likable but he’s in real estate? Aren’t those the lying, just worst sort of humans?” The other remarks, “Apparently that’s a slight improvement over careerist politicians.” \sarc

    1. WhoaMolly

      Perhaps they would come for the NFT’s?

      Or could one of the ‘Yuuuge’ NFT’s be transmitted digitally?

      And how would they come up with $99 US in earth currency?

      Sorry… 6 AM silly thoughts…

    2. Pat

      Can you imagine the conversation as they go visit the leader previous to the one at Maralago.

      “He sounds good but says so little of substance.”
      “ And that library, there is no library there. I thought he started as some sort of community supporter, how does this support any community? It looks like some scheme for a few humans to get rich by defiling part of the park and opening up the area around it.”
      “I’m beginning to understand how the real estate guy could look trustworthy.”

      1. griffen

        On their travels, they visit other US cities and see all our wonderful stadiums and arenas, and marvel at how many venues we Americans have as compared to the Colosseum in Rome. And they’d be amazed at how the latter still stands as a testament over time, while many of the former get torn down after 30 to 40 years only to erect a new artifice in it’s place.

  4. William Beyer

    How to stop Chinese coercion is a real laugher!

    Indeed, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has gone after almost any entity that has crossed China in any way. And this strategy has worked. Because the Chinese economy is so integral to global markets, China’s coercive behavior has caused tens of billions of dollars in damage.

    Sounds a lot like the out-of-control U.S. sanctions regime to me. Serves us right.

    1. Kouros

      So if China wants nothing to do with countries/polities that spit her in the face, is coercion. Australians have similar arguments, that they are treated unfairly by China…

  5. QuarterBack

    Re NYT Truth about cars and things that “can’t be unseen”, what I see is naked propaganda. The author implies some distaste for many people, particularly minorities, seeing cars as “freedom machines”. Then the author builds some Orwellian “freedom is slavery” thesis because people driving cars can be stopped by ill-intended police, and be enslaved in debt by car loans. The solution, of course, is to remove bad freedom (machines) to be replaced by public transportation. Never mind that police can easily have as much or more encounters with individuals on public transport, and a monopoly model for transportation creates a greater opportunity for exerting power over individuals to go about living their lives.

    Public transportation is a very good thing and should be supported. It offers economy of scale of both cost and movement of large numbers along specific destinations. However, I can say that the “freedom machine” is a very real thing. When I was young, I taught my Mother how to drive a car. Prior to that, she was limited to bumming rides, saving up for taxis, and limiting herself to the routes and schedules (including connections) of buses and trains. She very often speaks to the fact that learning to drive and owning a car was the moment that changed her life so she could become herself.

    I am all for supporting funding for public transportation, but I have deep distrust in any argument that pins freedom, or pursuit of it, as a source of detriment. Spare me, and move along.

    1. flora

      You said it better than I could. Out away from the big cities public transportation is sketchy. In rural areas, where it’s common to drive 10-15 miles or more to one’s job it’s practically nonexistent. It’s uneconomical to run commercial public transportation in low population density areas, aka farming country. I know people who make a daily 60-80 mile daily round trip to work. That’s not uncommon.

      1. Pat

        I grew up in the Southwest. Daily commutes of upwards of 50 miles was SOP for a significant percentage of those living outside the larger towns. It is still common.

      2. John

        “It’s uneconomical to run commercial public transportation in low population density areas, aka farming country.”
        I have spent time in many countries, India for one, where there is public transportation in rural areas. The “not economical” trope is an argument of the oligarchs and car manufacturers that control us.
        The Chinese were queried by Americans on their rail system. How can such an extensive system make money? The Chinese reply: Not intended to. Transportation supports other things that make money and add to quality of life for the population.
        What a concept!

        1. Oh

          If the morons applied the troupe “uneconomical” they’d realize spending on weapons and war is the most uneconomical and does not benefit most people.

          1. flora

            we go into the future with the world we have, not the one we wish we had. (as whats-his-name did not quite say.)

    2. Chris Smith

      I’d go a step further. I’ve lived in New York (Manhattan), Boston, Washington DC, New Orleans, Dallas, Austin, and Los Angeles. I’d say that outside of Manhattan and Boston, mass transit is not very good. Buses are nothing but a time-tax, and train systems outside Manhattan and Boston lack sufficient coverage. (I have only been to the Chicago airport, so defer to others on whether Chicago’s train system is more like Manhattan or more like DC.)

      1. Otis B Driftwood

        Chicago’s train and bus system works well. Lived in the city for awhile and didn’t need a car.

      2. mrsyk

        The idea of a “time-tax” is of interest. To me, it speaks more about todays norms regarding one’s time than it does buses.

      3. polar donkey

        City of Memphis is 330 sq miles. City developed through annexation of suburbs. Public transportation is difficult and desperately needed in a city with 25% poverty rate. Normal bus trips down central corridor of city can take 1 hour plus. Bus routes and times are on cell phones, so unless you have one, not sure when arrive or where the bus goes. There are very few covered bus stops or benches. You almost have to have a car. I had to give so many of my employees rides home because buses stopped running at 10 pm. Not uncommon to see people walking 6, 8, 10 miles home in middle of night. Tell people in Memphis how they’re slave to cars. They’ll look at you like you are nuts.

    3. Verifyfirst

      The point of the article is that “freedom” in the transportation context, in the US, means “freedom for me but not for thee”. Shocking I know, so unlike every other aspect of US life.

      Private vehicles are incredibly expensive to purchase, own, insure and maintain for lower income workers and families.

      So any solution has to provide affordable, reliable means of going all the places one needs to go in a normal life. How that gets accomplished in this country (the US) I have no idea, cuz we really don’t give a rats ass.

    4. cnchal

      I though the article was about late mdel BMWs

      Stick on some fake fangs with blood dripping from them and you will move over if one of those appear in your rear view mirror.

      Peak BMW was a quarter century ago, the E39

      As for policing for profit, that’s as old as highway robbery, so the NYT noticing now shows how clueless they are.

    5. Pelham

      Yes, it’s too bad people have to be saddled with debt to own a car. But what better way to spend that money? You could say the same thing about housing. Also, isn’t public transportation a terrific way to spread contagions?

    6. Aumua

      cars are fun. cars offer freedom. I personally could not do my job as a field technician at all without my car. so yeah, it’s problematic. pivoting from cars to public transportation is an absolutely essential and worthy goal, but I just don’t see a path to that goal right now, without a radical restructuring of our entire civilization in the way we live our lives.

      1. skippy

        How does a thing aka an inanimate object provide some wonky notion such as individual[tm] freedom … I mean considering the whole industry collusion between oil, steel, and car Mfg’ers that sold the idea of car = freedom right out of the Bernays play book.

        Same goes for the productive farm land outside cities which was consumed for dog boxes and called suburbia … aka the land of a thousand screams …

        FYI the only solutions permitted are those that increase elite power/control and wealth so good luck with restructuring civilization IMO …

  6. The Rev Kev

    “The Qatar FIFA World Cup 2022 and camel pageant championships increase risk of MERS-CoV transmission and global spread”

    ‘So far as I can tell, everything said here about MERS-CoV goes double for SARS-CoV-2, which is far more contagious.’

    With so many visitors attending the FIFA Cup, SARS-CoV-2 must be pinballing its merry way from one person to another. So what would happen if a person infected with SARS-CoV-2 happens to also get infected with MERS-CoV? Could you then see a mutation develop in that person that would have the contagiousness of SARS-CoV-2 but with the 34% death rate of MERS-CoV? Good luck learning to live with that variant.

    1. Yves Smith

      See this tweetstorm.

      MERS is just not terribly contagious among humans. There was one guy who brought it to S.Korea and managed to infect a meaningful # of people, but as far as I can tell, he was the exception that proves the rule.

      2 cases in Qatar in May per the Lancet paper, and rumored to be 2 more in December, presumably due to the camel beauty contest. Camels are overwhelmingly the way people get it.

      1. GM

        Note that if it is MERS in the French squad (more likely than not, it is regular COVID, but let’s follow the ramifications in the case that it is indeed MERS), then it is spreading quire efficiently human to human within the squad.

        So I would not be exceedingly reassured by the low rate of H2H transmission in most previous outbreaks, and pay more attention to the South Korea experience, which involved rampant airborne spread.

        P.S. They absolutely need to disclose what it is because the rumors are ramping up. And the other team needs to know — no way in hell am I playing a soccer game against a team which has MERS cases. Even winning the WC is not worth the risk, plus in the kind of situation you have the full right to demand either postponing or France forfeiting the game. This is not COVID with the super skewed mortality distribution, for old people it it is Ebola-level bad, but it is still highly lethal even for young people. And, of course, there are referees, kit people, little kids coming out with the players when they enter the pitch, and countless others who will come in contact with them.

        If this is MERS the whole thing needs to be abandoned.

        1. Biologist

          Lambert: “Presumably they’d be in moon suits if the unnamed the illness was MERS”

          Dunno how reliable this is but

          “Hours before the World Cup final between France and Argentina, the French Football Federation announced that three players of the French national team were infected with the Camel flu or MERS-CoV.”

          see also

          1. Biologist

            Apologies for the above, I posted before vetting. It seems to be badly sourced. No PCR tests have been done, and this article (and a few others) basically speculate that it could be MERS. Couldn’t find any statement from the French Football Federation.

      1. Samuel Conner

        That abstract is troubling.

        I sounds like it might be a good idea to develop mucosal-immunity-inducing MERS vaccines for camels.

  7. QuarterBack

    Re Dominique Strauss-Kahn criminal investigations, to think, if only DSK had agreed to support the EU in tightening its stranglehold on Greek debt in 2015, all would have been forgiven.

  8. The Rev Kev

    “Without a leader or clear alternative to the regime, Iran’s protests risk ‘fizzling out’ ”

    There is a completely unfounded rumour that Iran modeled their response to these protests on that of Obama’s 17-city crack-down of the Occupy Wall Street protest movement. /sarc

  9. fresno dan
    Union Parish District Attorney John Belton submitted arrest warrants for all five of the officers, praising the racially mixed grand jury for hearing the evidence and saying the people had spoken.

    Belton had long held off on pursuing state charges at the request of the U.S. Justice Department, which is conducting a separate criminal investigation. But as years passed and federal prosecutors grew increasingly skeptical they could prove the officers acted “willfully” — a key component of the civil rights charges they’ve been considering — they gave Belton the go-ahead this spring to convene a state grand jury.
    The AP later found that Greene’s arrest was among at least a dozen cases over the past decade in which state police troopers or their bosses ignored or concealed evidence of beatings of mostly Black men, deflected blame and impeded efforts to root out misconduct. Dozens of current and former troopers said the beatings were countenanced by a culture of impunity, nepotism and, in some cases, racism.
    Body cams – not much good if the “authorities” don’t wanna look…
    skeptical they could prove the officers acted “willfully” what an interesting legal system – pictures of police beating someone, with no images of someone holding the police at gunpoint and making them beat someone, can not be considered proof of will. Somehow, one must infer that fairies or devils forced the police to act the way they acted. I’m kind of skeptical about the level of excuses made for the police…

    1. JBird4049

      An explanation of just how having five cops dragging some unarmed human being out of their car and then beating them to death while the deceased was apologizing and begging for mercy, not be considered being something wilful is not something I care to listen to.

      Those men decided to beat someone to death and had they not been the police, they would have likely faced either the death penalty or life in prison in any state in the Union. Regardless of class or wealth with that evidence they would have faced something, but they were cops and the dead man was black, so it didn’t matter enough.

  10. The Rev Kev

    “U.S. cable warns of major barriers to tracking Ukraine aid”

    This is not a serious article. There is only one reason that they are trying to track all that aid right now and that is so that after the war is over and questions start being asked about that $100 billion plus that went to the Ukraine, that they can turn around and say ‘Well, we did try but you know, the war and everything.’ People may forget but at the beginning of this year when Congress was voting on the first major package for the Ukraine, there was an amendment to have it all tracked as it was being sent overseas. Not sure but I think that it may have been proposed by Thomas Massie. Point is that there was total outrage over that amendment and most people in Congress, particularly the Democrats, were furious about it so it got dropped – and here we are now.

      1. JBird4049

        Is it like those C-17s full with pallets of one hundred bills sent to Iraq? Move along. Nothing to see here.

        It’s just the regular war profiteering. Just like with waterboarding, it was illegal during the Second World War, but we do things differently now.

  11. zagonostra

    >Nearly half of Americans (47%) now say Washington should urge Kyiv to settle for peace as soon as possible.

    I’m thinking that if 53% of Americans want to continue to pursue a proxy war with Russia then there isn’t much hope for a better world. Nothing was learned from WWI and WWII. Humanity seems incapable of wrenching itself free from the small demonic element that guides/controls the destiny of the masses and the world…but then I look out my window and I can’t help but hope.

    1. Screwball

      I’m thinking that if 53% of Americans want to continue to pursue a proxy war with Russia then there isn’t much hope for a better world.

      Agree. It’s kind of amazing to see so many people who I knew as anti-war are now cheering this war like it is the most important thing – ever. Even the suggestion of peace talks turns them into rabid dogs – how dare you even suggest that?

      1. in_still_water

        It has been eye-opener to hear from three different acquaintances with liberal slants, that don’t pay much attention to current events, flippantly calling for the removal/assassination of Putin this past year. Combined with a lack of diplomatic initiatives for over a year, the war drums are reverberating as ever (well except now the new left are the ones doing the banging).

        1. JBird4049

          >>>(well except now the new left are the ones doing the banging)

          Wouldn’t that be the New New Left or the New Neo-Left? I am barely old enough to remember hearing the term New Left for the sixties and seventies. Then there was the Left’s Free Speech Movement out of Berkeley back thing. And the antiwar movement…

          Man, it’s gone strange.

          But we are at war with Eastasia. We have always been at war with Eastasia.

      2. fresno dan

        Just like I could never fathom how there could be all the red baiting in the fifties, I can’t really fathom how there is now a days. But amazing, or interesting, or disheartening, that the parties have inversed, and now it is the dems fanning the flames of anti-Russia hysteria. I never would have forseen this back in the 70’s when I was young. I guess with political parties, any pretext for advantage will do…
        hard for me to believe that the US is evolving toward progress, and that in 25 years life expectancy, median income, or any number of other criteria will be better than they are today.

        1. Screwball

          I agree. I’m old and have maybe 10-15 years left on this rock. I can’t imagine what it will be like in another 5, little lone 10-15. I might be the lucky one.

        2. Pat

          I may be naive, but I think back to my youth and so much of it was fueled by fear. The people fanning the flames were just as greedy and superficial and xenophobic as the ones doing it today, but for a lotta people it really was fear they were coming for us.

          I don’t get what is driving it for the public today. But then I don’t get Trump derangement either. What do most people have to fear from Russia? (China makes more sense to me on that score). Are people really that outraged that Russian hackers supposedly stole Clinton’s promised prize?

    2. Another Bad ID

      This 53% likely includes an overwhelming number of people who believe that the Ukraine is actually defeating Russia by an enormous margin. That number will decline very quickly once reality sets in.

      I am guessing that this will occur soon. For example, from the Guardian:

      Britain’s prime minister, Rishi Sunak, has reportedly ordered an audit into the progress of the war in Ukraine.

      A source told BBC Newsnight that the audit, known as a data-driven assessment, is designed to assess the progress of the war and the significance of the UK’s military contributions to Ukraine.

      The request has reportedly raised alarm bells among some Whitehall staff, with the source saying:

      Wars aren’t won [by dashboards]. Wars are won on instinct. At the start of this it was Boris (Johnson) sitting down and saying: ‘Let’s just go for this.’ So Rishi needs to channel his inner Boris on foreign policy though not of course on anything else.

      The BBC understands that President Volodymyr Zelenskiy is aware of the debate within the UK over its support of Ukraine and is encouraging Sunak to maintain strong military support for his country.

      The source added:

      President Zelenskiy has sensed what is going on. So he has been talking to Rishi. He is trying to inspire him, saying the UK are the great liberators, the great fighters. We need you. Rise to that.

      1. LifelongLib

        Whether you believe Putin is a madman out to restore the USSR or (as I do) that he’s a patriotic Russian doing what he thinks is best for Russia (which may not be what’s best for the U.S., but that’s our problem, not his) it should at least be possible to get an accurate report of what the military situation in Ukraine actually is. But it seems we can’t even have that much. What gets reported seems to depend entirely on what whoever is reporting thinks of Putin…

      2. Stephen

        We really are in a post reality western world if bureaucrats in Whitehall reject the need for rational analysis.

        The whole ethos of the Civil Service as created by the nineteenth century reforms was intended to be exactly that. A dispassionate, analytical, independent voice.

        At the height of the WW2 bomber offensive the bureaucracy was even fully capable of producing analyses showing that the offensive did not work too well. Albeit, such reports were ignored by politicians and RAF vested interest. But at least there was analysis. This is something else! A rejection of the rational.

    3. Pat

      I would if there were even a chance that most Americans were getting anything near to the real story about anything regarding the Ukraine. Instead we have evil major power attacking Ukraine for no reason, and the plucky and admirable Ukrainians lining up to defend their country from old men to young girls. Oh and eking out the occasional victory. Couple this with American exceptionalism (They imagine themselves in a modern version of Red Dawn if it happened here, and are sure that they would never chose to surrender) and of course they don’t think about negotiating for peace.

      If only part of the following had been repeated on the news or in the papers even a quarter of the time given to the propaganda I’m pretty sure those numbers would drop:

      The real numbers of Ukrainian refugees, the amount of weaponry wasted there and the actual state of Ukraine, the treatment of their own people by the goons in their military from trapping their soldiers in tanks to the execution of families seeking to leave not to mention the atrocities on POWs*, the amount of money that has been disappeared from the billions actually authorized to go there forget the dark money we don’t know that has been sent…

      I also believe if most people realized how many of the American bureaucratic idiots who were been behind Iraq had supported setting up this conflict and that this proxy war was promoted by them for over a decade it would lose at least a quarter of the support. The whole Iraq misadventure is not well thought of by those most likely to support supposed defensive countries and the patriots waging the war on their behalf.

      Do not underestimate how badly misinformed most of our country is.

    4. Don

      In the context of the deluge of propaganda and disinformation, I find it encouraging and surprising that only 53% of Americans want to continue the war. The only caveat is that many Americans might not be sufficiently aware of the war for the number to mean much.

      I would love to see a similar survey in Canada. If it showed a similar divide, I would be overjoyed — it feels like 90%/10% here, with most people engaged, if only in a brain-deadened state — that we were at least making headway against irrationality.

  12. flora

    Seems like the White House really wants to change the hot topic(s) in journalism right now. (Don’t look at those twtr files or ftx or EU bribery scandal stories, look at this.) / ;)

    Thousands of unedited government JFK assassination files release

    On Thursday, President Joe Biden issued an executive order authorising the latest disclosure.

    1. Mark Gisleson

      Smart take that makes perfect sense.

      Joe’s in so deep, his handlers just might blow up the world to deflect scrutiny of their own crimes. MLK files next?

    2. Martin Oline

      I doubt this works if the aim is to distract. I saw an interview with James DiEugenio yesterday that is 2 1/2 hours long (you’ve been warned) that deals with the Kennedy Assassination and much more. James DiEugenio worked with Oliver North in his Kennedy Assassination movie and also authored a book on the four killings in the 1960s; Malcolm X, John Kennedy, M L K, and Robert Kennedy. The host is not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but perhaps he is playing dumb. My point is that even people who specialize in the Kennedy assassination have not read the last release of Kennedy papers as James himself admits in the interview. I was surprised to learn that many official documents that were supposed to show Kennedy’s foreign policy are forged to change his actual goals in order to align with previous and subsequent administrations’ actions. He also says the laison with Marilyn Monroe was fabricated. I read Susan Williams book White Malice: The CIA and the Covert Recolonization of Africa this spring and found new information in this interview concerning that tragedy. Link to DiEugenio interview. This points to the end so you have to rewind. No time left for me to fix that.

    3. Mildred Montana

      As the article says, “No huge revelations are expected are expected from the papers…”

      I’ll say. That’s probably why they’re being released, albeit with significant time for vetting (and the inevitable redactions?).

      I started reading books about the JFK assassination at the tender age of sixteen. 𝘛𝘢𝘣𝘶𝘭𝘢 𝘳𝘢𝘴𝘢? I like to think so. And after all that innocent reading I came to the conclusion that the assassination was a mob hit. I still believe that today.

      File JFK’s death with that of Jimmy Hoffa’s. Forever hidden behind a wall of 𝘰𝘮𝘦𝘳𝘵𝘢 and a pile of dead witnesses.

  13. tricia

    Under Syraqistan?

    Remember the horrific murder of Foley (and how it was utilized to incite support for the War on Terror)?

    “The role of UK intelligence services in the abduction, murder of James Foley”

    “…In other words, although James Foley’s murder occurred in the deserts of Raqqa, it arguably began in more familiar places, namely London and Washington…

    …In October 2012, Foley published an article from his time in Aleppo suggesting that the opposition armed groups enjoyed little popularity among the city’s residents. Foley noted that “many civilians here are losing patience with the increasingly violent and unrecognizable opposition,” which was “deeply infiltrated by both foreign fighters and terrorist groups.

    This ran contrary to mainstream narratives about the Syria conflict, which suggested the armed opposition groups were comprised of army defectors fighting for democracy and enjoying strong popular support.”

    1. David

      After the initial violent regime repression of peaceful protests in 2011, the first armed resistance was by Sunni officers and soldiers who had defected from the Army. This isn’t seriously disputed. Quite quickly, these groups (which the West had put a lot of store in) were sidelined by the Islamic State fighters, who were much more motivated.

      The whole story is full of words like “arguable” and “speculate”, and seems largely intended, once again, to take agency away from the people in those countries, to keep it with us. They aren’t even capable of slaughtering each other unless it’s us in charge. This sounds like a fairly routine attempt by the British to infiltrate someone with whom they already had a relationship into the chaos in Syria in an attempt to find out what’s going on. One day I hope to see a headline along the lies of “West had nothing to do with latest conflict, documents show: multiple nervous breakdowns among journalists, NGOs.”

      1. pjay

        Please, I *beg* of you, do not use this “take away the agency of the people” excuse to wave away the *central* role of external foreign powers, not least of which was the US (and Britain), in the destruction and Balkanization of Syria. Yes, of course there were complex religious and ethnic divisions that were the source of long-standing tensions. But I hope you are not suggesting that what happened to Syria was basically an eruption of these internal divisions. That would be an outrageous injustice. The idea that the groups we “put a lot of store in” were somehow sidelined by an indigenous ISIS is ludicrous! Al Qaeda and ISIS were *our* creations; we (directly or indirectly) funded them, armed them, even trained some of them. We took these internal tensions and used them, blew them wide open, as we always do. *This* is well-documented and “not seriously disputed” today – though no one cares.

        That doesn’t mean we always “controlled” them. We didn’t. We enabled their development, supported them at times, fought them at other times. We knew the weapons we were supplying to our “moderate rebels” were going to ISIS (as were many of the “moderate rebels themselves”). As leaked documents revealed, we basically cheered on the “Caliphate” because it was a means of destroying Assad’s regime. We used them to create chaos. It’s always our fallback when we can’t install a puppet regime; or sometimes even when we can (as in Iraq). Foley was likely a victim of blowback to a process we fostered.

        The suggestion that acknowledging this is a sign of American ethnocentrism that somehow disrespects the “agency” of those we’ve helped destroy is the height of obscurantism. I assure you I take absolutely no pride in asserting a US role. I’ll celebrate the headline you cite, if and when there is a major conflict that the West indeed has nothing to do with. Show me one!

        1. JBird4049

          You will get no disagreement from me on the West being responsible for much, if not most, of the most of most horrific wars, coups, and genocides outside of Europe during the past 150 years; the Americans, British, French, Germans, Italians, Dutch, and Belgians have all done horrible things. Most of them are still doing influencing and looting their old colonies with the Americans deliberately creating wars for profit.

          There would have been wars, famines, genocides, and other horrors even without the Western powers. People have been very capable in evil long before the United States was a thing. But it was just so much worse with them and with the United States being the most destructive and murderous for the past seventy-five years.

          Maybe, besides the decayed educational system and the jingoistic propaganda of the elites, it is the discomfort of seeing and acknowledging that great evil that makes it so damn hard to believe in America’s role in a massive amount of destruction and death, and often for no good reason besides arrogance, stupidity, and greed.

  14. The Rev Kev

    “The US’ Scorched Earth Policy for Taiwan”

    Read the original report a coupla days ago and it is bizarre. Taiwan, who is supposed to be best buds, will have the US bomb that chip factory and “persuade” the technicians to let themselves be evacuated from the Taiwan war zone to the US to go work for American corporations instead. Maybe they will try to steal some of that gear as well if they have the time. Operation Paperclip 2.0 anyone? No word if they also plan to bomb Taiwan’s water and electrical infrastructure as well so that it can never be rebuilt nor any word about dropping thousands of tons of salt on that island too. So will we see air battles over Taiwan where the Chinese Air Force will be defending that island being attacked by the US Air Force? Chinese missiles shooting down American missiles trying to hit that island? I wonder what the Taiwanese think about this, especially since the majority of them will be left behind.maybe they should revisit this idea.

    1. bwilli123

      TSMC in Arizona is a preview for Germany, and the rest of the EU. 500 Taiwanese engineers thus far.

      …”When Arizona Governor Doug Ducey visited Taiwan at the end of August, he said that Phoenix’s “Little Taipei” was gradually taking shape.
      Chang said that “Little Taipei” will increase in size over the next year after various Taiwanese companies move into the area.”

      1. The Rev Kev

        Lots of interesting things are coming out of Arizona-

        ‘Drones used by Ukraine to attack targets in Russia were produced by an American company (Spektreworks) based near Phoenix, Arizona, investigators have reportedly found, claiming that Poland was also involved in their deployment.

        The findings are contained in a document seen by RIA Novosti, according to an article published by the Russian news agency on Friday. It did not state which agency had produced the document, but said the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) had been identified by their electronic components and other parts.

        The evidence was reportedly collected during several Ukrainian operations targeting Russian infrastructure in the city of Sevastopol and the regions of Kursk, Belgorod and Voronezh, according to RIA Novosti.’

  15. Wukchumni

    $4.01k update:

    I expect the haterz are having a field day feasting on the carcass-go-cult’s poster child FTX turning out to be incredibly unsophisticated when it was pitching something in theory, incredibly sophisticated.

    I feel my fellow crypto bros pain, imagine having bought the blingiest F-something truck, outfitted with rich corinthian leather, (why not the finest?) rack & pinion steering and $15k deluxe spinner wheels, and then suffer misfortune in the guise of past performance isn’t necessarily indicative of future performance, and now you’re looking to have to sell your ride and the only other buyers of such a model were lottery winners or crypto bros?

    Needless to say, we investors in Bitcoin have distanced ourselves from the rabble of other coins, no offense to the numismatrix, but we’re different and have been the rock of Gibraltar, holding steady as she goes @ $17k.

  16. LawnDart

    Let’s go Brandon–

    Trading USA defense for Saudi energy may be history:

    Will Bin Salman cancel his grandfather’s agreement with Roosevelt?

    On 14 February, 1945, while US President Franklin D Roosevelt was returning from the Yalta Conference where he met Britain’s Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin of the USSR, King Abdulaziz Al-Saud, the founder of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, was summoned to meet him privately. The meeting took place on USS Quincy in the Suez Canal, The Quincy Pact was signed by the two leaders as a result of the meeting. The most important part of the agreement was that the US would provide unconditional protection to the ruling Al-Saud family in return for Saudi Arabia’s guarantee of energy supplies to the US for a period of 60 years. During the presidency of George W Bush in 2005, the agreement was renewed for another 60 years.

    1. Wukchumni

      The way mid 1940’s agreements are going away for the west, you’d almost expect something new to come out of the wreckage, perhaps a Bretton Łódź agreement?

  17. Carolinian

    Re Scorched Earth for Taiwan

    Former US National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien asserted,
    “If China takes Taiwan and takes those factories intact – which I don’t think we would ever allow – they have a monopoly over chips the way OPEC has a monopoly, or even more than the way OPEC has a monopoly over oil.”

    Sounds like the plot of a recent movie. Maybe Tom Cruise and his F-18 guys and gal can surprise the nefarious Chinese and blow up the factory. Of course as ignored in the movie (dumb on every level) they would then have no carrier to heroically return to because it would be at the bottom of the ocean. The macho posturing of these Defense Dept clowns is, like Top Gun Maverick, a throwback to the Reagan era when the Evil Empire–perhaps complete with Darth Vader–was always on the radar screen. No stealth there.

    1. vao

      Core points:

      1) Jaroslaw Szymczyk, chief of Poland’s police, visited high ranking officers of the Ukrainian police and emergency services on the 11th and 12th of December.

      2) During his visit, he received various presents from his Ukrainian counterparts.

      3) One of the presents had explosive contents, which detonated and wounded him and a civilian member of the Polish police headquarters slightly. Jaroslaw Szymczyk is under observation in a hospital.

      4) The Polish government has asked the Ukrainian authorities for explanations. The public prosecutor in Warsaw has launched an investigation, but refuses to disclose any details.

    1. Louiedog14

      I always put the launcher under the tree, and use the grenades as stocking stuffers. The kids love ’em.

  18. pjay

    ‘The Night Raids’ – Pro Publica

    Since no one has commented on this yet, I just wanted to urge everyone to read it and recommend it to others. The subject is CIA death squads in Afghanistan. It is a depressing story, and it probably will not surprise most NC readers. But this is the face of US imperialism, and it has been pretty much since WWII. It is an important story, one about which most Americans are oblivious.

    However, this passage caught my eye:

    “As my notebooks filled, I came to realize that I was compiling an eyewitness account of a particularly ignominious chapter in the United States’ fraught record of overseas interventions.”

    “Without a true reckoning of what happened in Afghanistan, it became clear the U.S. could easily deploy the same failed tactics in some new country against some new threat.”

    This reporter’s story is powerful and heart-rending. But as it stands this passage is naive. We have been deploying these tactics since Vietnam (or well before; the occupation of the Philiplines comes to mind). We deployed them in El Salvador, Nicaragua, and elsewhere in Latin America. We deployed them in Iraq (where they were referred to as the “El Salvador option”). Much of the world knows this. Americans do not. One of the reasons Assange was so vigorously pursued was the threat Wikileaks posed to our own collective ignorance about this sort of thing. It’s a story we all need to know, however uncomfortable.

    1. Maxwell Johnston

      An excellent (but depressing) book about USA involvement in Afghanistan is Ghost Wars, by Steve Coll. The best part of the book is his coverage of the forgotten period between the USSR’s withdrawal (1989) and the events of 2001. It is truly grim reading, especially because reading it today (it was published in late 2004) we know in retrospect what’s going to unfold. USA imperialism claims to be about nation building, but in reality it seems to be more about blowing things up, declaring victory, and then fleeing in helicopters a la Saigon 1975 or Kabul 2021.

      1. Polar Socialist

        I remember reading a quote by one of the Mujahideen leaders that had they know what would come after the “shouravi” (Soviets) left, they would not have fought for that.

        Unfortunately I can’t for the life of me remember which one it was.

      2. anon in so cal

        Confess I have not read Coll’s work. Don’t know if he mentions how Carter’s NSA, Brzezinski, admitted the US funded the Mujahideen to lure SR into Afghanistan:

        “Question: The former director of the CIA, Robert Gates, stated in his memoirs that the American intelligence services began to aid the Mujahiddin in Afghanistan six months before the Soviet intervention. Is this period, you were the national securty advisor to President Carter. You therefore played a key role in this affair. Is this correct?

        Brzezinski: Yes. According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the Mujahiddin began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan on December 24, 1979.

        But the reality, closely guarded until now, is completely otherwise: Indeed, it was July 3, 1979 that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And that very day, I wrote a note to the president in which I explained to him that in my opinion this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention [emphasis added throughout].

        Q: Despite this risk, you were an advocate of this covert action. But perhaps you yourself desired this Soviet entry into the war and looked for a way to provoke it?

        B: It wasn’t quite like that. We didn’t push the Russians to intervene, but we knowingly increased the probability that they would.”

  19. Jeremy Grimm

    “Too Much Gloom and Doom?”
    Good to know there’s nothing to worry about. The economy is sound, except things are indeed a little gloomy in Britain and maybe Turkey too. We can stop worrying and be happy.
    “…banking-sector balance sheets in most advanced economies are in better shape than they were at the time of the 2007-09 global financial crisis, and that supervision over much of the non-bank financial sector is much improved.”
    “…central banks … acting as lenders of last resort … outstanding performance … Helicopter money – monetary financing – will work again.”
    “…a tax cut benefiting the poor, and paid for with a tax increase on the rich, should boost total spending on goods and services.” [I am holding my breath in anticipation.]
    Good to know the economy is in good hands.

  20. antidlc

    Yesterday’s press briefing with Jha:

    But, so far, nationally, in our analysis of the data, death numbers are just beginning to rise. We obviously want to make sure that does not go any further. We know we can prevent nearly every death from COVID if people get their updated vaccines and people get treated. So, we continue to press that message.

    Q And are you considering a return to other restrictions — you know, masking on planes, vaccine requirements?

    DR. JHA: Yeah, so I think we’re in a very different place with this virus than where we were two years ago, where we were last year. What I would say is we now have the tools that we can manage our lives much more safely than we could a couple of years ago.

    And the most important thing, I think, people need to be doing is, first of all, they’ve got to get their updated vaccines. And then there’s a whole host of tools that people can use to keep themselves, their family safe: testing, masking, improving indoor air quality, being in better ventilated places — oh, and treatments, of course.

    So we think that is the strategy of the administration, that we want to encourage people to use those tools. And given how widespread and how available those tools are, I think if people did that, we could get through this winter safely.

    (bold mine)

    1. Henry Moon Pie

      “manage our lives”

      Thanks for updating us on Jha’s latest atrocity. That phrase of his is so illustrative of the PMC attitude toward life. Our “lives” are like a business. They’re to be “managed.” Businesses take risks, and so we take risks with our lives. Risk is just the antecedent to profit, donchano?

      The risk/reward is especially tantalizing when it’s the lives of others you’re risking.

    2. playon

      Jeez – maybe if they could come up with a vaccine that lasts longer than 40 days people would be more interested.

  21. castilleja

    Qatar has ever-deeper tentacles in combo with the US War Machine, and in providing pork in “homeland” Congressional Districts. For example, the 2022 authorized “bed-down” of Qatari air units at Mountain Home Air Force base in Idaho – from whence the war planes will “train” across the sagebrush landscape of southern Idaho, northern Nevada and eastern Oregon – terrorizing wildlife like Bighorn Sheep and Sage-grouse, and also people recreating on public lands or living in remote areas with sonic booms and low level flights. Plus on the ground “training” in southern Idaho Bombing range sites. . AND there is a simmering Mountain Home AFB proposal to lower sonic boom levels even more here, and expand lowest level flights in NV and OR creating worse sonic hells there. One of the reasons given for the claimed “need” for airspace changes is because of the need to accommodate more “training” …

  22. Strontium-90

    Amazing how the WEF wants to keep the Davos class so stupid. That fusion story doesn’t even mention stockpile stewardship, nor why the National Ignition Facility even exists: to propagate knowledge needed to care for the >5,000 operative US warheads. The big news this week was that there’s even less reason for DOE to break the 1992 test moratorium, at the loosely-planned Sheldon Adelson Shitbonkers Detonation Facility . Somebody more cynical might suggest WEF was inflating fusion funding after years of billionaire-class vanity projects failed to produce results.

  23. polar donkey

    This hasn’t hit the news here locally in Memphis, but it shows the sorry state of public education here and across the nation. FBI doing a big investigation of the public school system going back 20 years. 3rd party vendors siphoning off millions of dollars. Throw in standard nepotism and sexual harassment ignored. I am actually surprised the FBI has shown up. Some Russians or republicans must have gotten involved via twitter. On the flip side of the corruption and incompetence of the regular public school system here, you got charter schools, that have principals driving Mercedes, who’s school folds in a couple years. A friend’s daughter goes to one of these charter schools. Today is last day before Christmas break. Class has Christmas party. Most schools, each kid brings something for the party, milk, cookies, paper plates, etc. This charter school, full of poor minority kids in Memphis TN, is charging each kid $25 for Christmas party. Maybe the charter school is paying the teachers’ Christmas bonuses with the $25 party fee?

  24. Mark Gisleson

    Just visited the Des Moines Register’s front page and for some reason the picture above the headline about the 1/6 protester from Iowa getting hard time is curiously super-saturated. I desaturated it to see if I could figure out what they were doing.

    For starters, the picture does not identify who’s shown, and it’s unlikely the guy getting prison time is in the picture. Desaturated, it’s “possible” that the protester is not white. In the super-saturated picture he’s so yellow he looks like one of The Simpsons.

    But what really jumped out at me in the desaturated version is how well lit the scene is. In ALL the videos and pictures taken everything is well lit, no broken lights. No one trashed anything. Which is a weird way to riot. But if you super-saturate the pictures, they take on a weird vibe so yeah, I think they’re doing this on purpose. No other picture on that front page is oversaturated like the 1/6 “rioter” picture.

    INSTANT UPDATE: Just went back and the picture is gone (I have screenshots). Story now moved to sidebar (or could be in rotation) and when I clicked instead of the picture I saw they have a weird video of pictures they allege prove something.

  25. spud

    anyone who is a fan of the electrified blues that came out of the british invasion, will mourn this,

    Fellow Blues-Rock Heroes Mourn Passing Of Savoy Brown Founder Kim Simmonds

    saw them in concert five times. every incarnation was electrifiying!

    also the drummer for the rascsls died, good rock and blues also.

  26. TimH


    England’s Health Secretary, Steve Barclay, said further pay rises would mean taking money away from other front-line services.

    The other front-line being in Ukraine, I s’pose.

    1. The Rev Kev

      When asked for a comment about which front line services, England’s Health Secretary, Steve Barclay replied ‘Slava Ukrain!’ and pointed his arm at the sun.

  27. Maxwell Johnston

    Re Russia sanctions–some observations from my trip to Moscow last week (shorter than my September report), for those of you who are interested:

    Both of my flights (Aeroflot, via Istanbul) were packed. Glancing at the arrivals/departures board at IST airport, I counted 10+ flights to various RU cities. Plus there’s the “old” Istanbul airport (SAW), which also has many flights. Russians are traveling (and buying lots of duty-free goods).

    Little has changed since my September visit: heavy traffic, well-stocked shops, situation seemingly normal. Prices are about the same; at the local supermarket, my benchmark bottle of Argentine malbec still costs about 1200 rubles (and I was surprised to see lots of Italian sparkling wine on fancy holiday display stands). The ruble’s value has slipped about 10% vs the $/Euro; was 60, now hovering above 65. Coke/Pepsi have vanished, though grey market variants are available (our Chinese restaurant had Coke with Georgian language labeling, kudos to the enterprising Coke distributor in Tbilisi). Various localized cola drinks are for sale. A side benefit of the departure of Coke/Pepsi is that shelf space has opened up for traditional RU beverages (mors, tarkhun, kombucha, to name three).

    One big change since September is the appearance of posters honoring RU soldiers (photo, name, rank). I don’t know if these were troops who died or who are just serving. I saw these posters at the airport, at bus stops, and on street billboards. They are usually headlined “Heroes and Deeds” (Герои и Подвиги), or something similar, and are quite subdued and not flashy or overly patriotic. But there a lot of them.

    I forgot to mention in September: there is a LOT of construction going on in Moscow, mainly tall buildings (20+ floors), both offices and apartments. And a big expansion of the subway system is underway (at least in my stomping ground of south-west Moscow).

    “Are the Russians making fun of us?” part 1: the Finnish dairy company “Valio” had a big business in RU selling milk, butter, yogurt etc, and even set up local production in the St Pete area to dodge the 2014 Crimea counter-sanctions. Post-February 24th, Valio sold its business to a local. The same “Valio” dairy products are still on sale, only now they’re called “Viola”. Same packaging, same quality, same everything: only the letters are re-arranged. Such blatant copy-catting makes me wonder if the Finns quietly encourage this, in the hope that when the dust settles they’ll be able to return to the RU market and pick up where they left off.

    “Are the Russians making fun of us?” part 2: Moscow always has lots of festive outdoor lighting for the New Year’s holiday season, but this year it’s especially noticeable. One wonders if they’re going out of their way to contrast as sharply as possible with the electricity cutbacks in the EU and UKR.

    I don’t see the wheels falling off the RU economy, not yet anyway. Next visit probably in March.

    1. Polar Socialist

      I think the “Heroes and Deeds” was an exhibition related to the Day of the Heroes of Fatherland (December 9).

      Regarding the Valio -> Viola thing, Viola actually is one of the Valio brands, a processed cheese quite popular in Russia. Part of the sale was a right to use the name, so it’s all legal. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are some “arrangements” for future – St. Petersburg alone is a bigger market than the whole of Finland!

    2. The Rev Kev

      Thanks heaps for this on the ground report. From your descriptions it looks like the Russian economy is just doing fine and has readily adapted and even thrived. I was interested to see your mention of Georgian economic ties in practice. The EU/NATO has been leaning on them to get with the program but I see that at least some in that country may know which way the winds are blowing. In my wanderings across YouTube, I often come across a channel of this Polish woman that does some commentary on current affairs and yesterday she was in Moscow. She was in Red Square and like you said the outdoor lighting was something. One might use the word spectacular. Just now refound that video- (5:07 mins)

  28. Sara K.

    From the “The US’ Scorched Earth Policy for Taiwan”

    Former KMT chairman Hung Hsiu-chu argued that most Taiwanese will not be able to stomach the idea of Taiwan ending up as scorched earth.

    That they use Hung Hsiu-chu as a spokesperson for Taiwanese people in general shows that whoever wrote this is clueless about Taiwanese politics.

    Hung Hsiu-chu managed to get a nomination as presidential candidate for the KMT for the 2016 election because she has a small dedicated group of supporters within the KMT and other KMT politicians were reluctant to run for president at the time, but her polling was so abysmal that over 90% of KMT party members voted to have her candidacy terminated and they replaced her with another candidate. I remember seeing many jokes about how out of touch she is with Taiwanese public opinion.

  29. fringe element

    The story from France 24/7 on the women in Iran who are rising up in revolt over the issue of covering their heads strikes me as preposterous and I am sorry to see France 24/7 carry it.

    We have levied harsh sanctions on Iran for years. I think it is safe to say that the women of that country who are trying to raise children have been especially impacted by the hardships the sanctions have caused. Now we are supposed to believe that those women are happy to overlook the harm our sanctions have done to their children if we will just let them move around with their heads uncovered – in a country where, at least traditionally, doing so is a sign that one is not a respectable woman?

    The only shocking thing about it is that so many people I know IRL believe such nonsense.

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