Links 12/20/2022

Happy Winter Solstice!

Dogs Pay the Price in Italian Truffle War Wall Street Journal (BC)

Did the GPT3 Chatbot Pass the Lovelace Creativity Test? Mind Matters (David L)

Adults are buying toys for themselves, and it’s the biggest source of growth for the industry CNBC. I bought myself a Slinky and a Superball some years back, but they were partly for my cats. They did like the Slinky sound.

Under attack: Researchers shed light on how Lyme disease infects body Gina Wadas, Johns Hopkins


ma: “I don’t know if this is representative, or even what country these parents are in, but if it is…………..seems like an explosion of righteous rage could be coming….directed at who I wonder…..”


‘World Health Organisation Doomed the World by Concealing Evidence of Airborne COVID Transmission’ Byline Times (ma). Note the date.


Morgue Data Reveal Africa’s High COVID-19 Death Toll BU School of Public Health (ma). So much for the myth that Africa fared well.



With “Immunity Debt,” Democrats are Having their Ivermectin Moment The Gauntlet (ma)



COP15: Nations reach ‘historic’ deal to protect nature BBC (David L)

Responsible sourcing: Theory and evidence from Costa Rica VoxEU

EU agrees to the world’s largest carbon border tax CNN


Why US really blacklisted China’s YMTC Asia Times (Kevin W)

China pushes for stronger ties with France ahead of possible Macron visit South China Morning Post

China’s Belt and Road comes untracked in SE Europe Asia Times (Kevin W)

Old Blighty

Post-Brexit Britain: a country broken by lies Chris Grey (guurst)

British MPs’ irresponsible anti-China rhetoric may drive UK’s plight even worse Global Times

NHS nurse and ambulance strikes face UK government, army and sellout by union leaders WWS

UK sending 1,200 troops to fill in as ambulance crews strike ABC (ma)

New Not-So-Cold War

Ukraine to boost Belarus border defences as Putin meets Lukashenko BBC. Defense Secretary Sergei Shoigu and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov also went to Belarus. Much speculation from the usual suspects that this was to get Belarus to agree to sponsoring a joint offensive on Ukraine. Dima at Military Summary presented another theory, that Russia wants two military bases in Belarus. My pet view is that this meeting was more something like the latter, and Putin brought along his tippy top officials to flatter Lukashenko and as a deception, to get Ukraine and NATO over-preparing for a big strike from Belarus.

Power shortage in Kiev stands at over 50% – Ukrenergo Interfax

Washington Is Prolonging Ukraine’s Suffering Douglas Macgregor, American Conservative

Ukraine Russia War – Power and Patriot Missiles Judge Napolitano with Colonel Macgregor, YouTube

Europe finally agrees to cap gas prices CNN (Kevin W)

Information war: NATO occupies Moldova! Defend Democracy

How Amazon Put Ukraine’s ‘Government in a Box’ Los Angeles Times

Ukraine – Is There Really A Change Of The Narrative? Moon of Alabama (Kevin W)

Of Course, They Lie. Andrei Martyanov (guurst)

SCOTT RITTER: A Lexicon for Disaster Consortium News. Important.


Syria says Israeli airstrikes hit sites in Damascus area, two soldiers wounded Times of Israel. See also on October 27 Syria reports Israeli air attack on targets in Damascus area Al Jazeera and Sept. 16 per Reuters.

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

FBI’s Vetted Info Sharing Network ‘InfraGard’ Hacked Brian Krebs (BC)

Imperial Collapse Watch

Pentagon to weed out extremists by banning Marine Corps DuffleBlog

Air Force Grounds Entire B-2 Fleet After Emergency Landing

All of These Guys Belong in Prison’: CIA Torture Described in Vivid Detail by Psychologist Common Dreams (ma)


Jan. 6 committee goes out swinging The Hill

DOJ cares about the evidence, not the criminal referrals Politico

Lee Harvey Oswald, the CIA, and LSD: New Clues in Newly Declassified Documents Ryan Grim, Intercept

Police State Watch

The School That Calls the Police on Students Every Other Day ProPublica (Kevin W)

Swatters Used Ring Cameras To Livestream Attacks, Taunt Police, Prosecutors Say ars technica

Judge strikes down California gun law modeled on Texas abortion measure Politico

Our No Longer Free Press

‘Twitter Files’ show FBI offered executives top secret info to guide 2020 election censorship Washington Times

Emails show the FBI ‘repeatedly grilled’ Twitter execs over ‘state propaganda’ on the app Daily Mail. BC: “Don’t forget the Obama signed NDA of 2013 that broadened what State Department (and IC) propoganda could be disseminated in US media:

Harvard/Harris: Two-Thirds of Voters Believe Social Media Engaged in Politically-Motivated Censorship and Demand Congressional Action Jonathan Turley

Elon Musk says Twitter will only let paying Blue subscribers vote in policy-related polls after users voted to oust him as CEO Business Insider

The Bezzle

Crypto tycoon Sam Bankman-Fried agrees to extradition back to US after Bahamas court appearance descended into farce with prosecution AND defense saying they had no idea why they were there – and he headed back to rat-infested island jail Daily Mail (Li). Have a look at SBF in some of the photos. Rage and menace in his eyes. Also seems entirely conceivable that SBF was responsible for the mixup that led him to be brought to court, since given his givens, that would be a nice break compared to the prison.

FTX seeks to claw back Sam Bankman-Fried’s political donations Financial Times. Oooh, this is gonna be FUN!

Binance’s Books Are a Black Box, Filings Show, As It Tries To Rally Confidence Reuters

Two Men Running a Ghost Kitchen in Northwest Portland Advertise 76 Distinct “Restaurants” on Food Delivery Apps Willamette Week (Paul R)

Lobbyists Have Held Up Nation’s First Right-To-Repair Bill In New York ars technica

San Francisco & Silicon Valley Housing Markets Puke Huge Price Drops, as Startups, Crypto, Tech, Social Media Make Total Mess Wolf Richter

Tesla buyers forced to arbitrate disputes Consumer Law & Policy Blog

Class Warfare

Danish government remains fixed on overturning EU minimum wage directives Anadolu Agency

Antidote du jour (CV):

And a bonus:

Another bonus:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Patrick Donnelly

    ‘Neutron devices’ leave no isotope trail and no long lasting radiation.

    They do require antimatter from Colliders, and Tritium from reactors.

    Has anyone been shopping for Tritium or agreeing with axis of evil members to get Tritium? Errr … yes they have!

    Beirut …

  2. ArkansasAngie

    Mom explosion — righteous rage, Go for it. Protect your kid. Whatever it takes. I am absolutely with you.

    I do want to specify that in your rage, please do not step on my rights. Please do NOT force me to put my kids at risk based on your beliefs.

    1. The Rev Kev

      The question was asked ‘I don’t know…what country these parents are in’ but going by their profile page, it seems to be in Edmonton, Alberta.

      1. nordberg

        I wonder if @kikkiplanet got her kids to mask at school. My n=1 study seems to show that being the only kid in a mask at school seems to help prevent these sorts of sicknesses.

        1. Charger01

          ma: “I don’t know if this is representative, or even what country these parents are in, but if it is…………..seems like an explosion of righteous rage could be coming….directed at who I wonder…..”

          As Americans, we will hurt each other. Never will the PMCs or policymakers ever feel the white hot rage of their fellow citizens upon their twisted ideas. We prefer personal attacks upon those we can see and hear.

    2. JW

      Kids go to school to get ill. They recover, they get ill again, they recover etc etc. This has been the case for as long as kids went to schools. Its how their systems develop the means not to get very ill later in life.
      This woman in Canada is likely a member of a high profile two income family upset that this natural event has disturbed their work/life balance, Tough, you decided to have your ‘trophy’ kids.

      1. Samuel Conner

        The concern is that infection with the CV can damage the immune system, so that they lose “the means not to get very ill later in life”

        The Jackpot is upon us.

        1. ambrit

          Full agreement.
          As kids, we got sick at school and, in general, fully recovered, usually at home. The best evidence today shows that the Coronavirus does not ‘go away’ like a flu or cold. It sticks around in a destructive, secondary form, Long Covid. Thus, the evidence shows that people do not, in general, “fully recover” from the Coronavirus.
          Diseases that were known to be long term negatives for health were, in the Days of Yore dealt with through the idea and mechanism of “Public Health.” In our day, “Public Health” meant ‘doing something about it,’ not sitting back and letting He Who Rides the Pale Horse loose to do his fell work.
          I have not the relevant information easily to hand but I suspect that this Winter Surge of extra virulent infections would resemble the data from an outbreak of some very infective and dangerous pathogen from the days before the advent of antibiotics and ‘effective’ vaccines. Think an outbreak of Rheumatic Fever, Polio, or Small Pox.
          Samuel Conner is correct. The Jackpot has begun.

          1. bdy

            A thought. I, my spouse and my kid have managed to avoid getting COVID as far as I know. If my kid had gotten COVID in the past, I would be curious about his T-cell count and make an appointment for the appropriate blood work right away. Seems like a big part of “personal risk assessment” includes knowing about an acquired immune dysfunction.

            Are people doing this at all? Is that even a thing my pediatrician can order up?

            1. ambrit

              Seeing as most people here in America have “health care” through “insurance” schemes, the best indicator as to the usage of T-cell measurements would be what the general consensus is among the “Insurance Providers” as to payment for such. If our forays into the wilds of grocery and other Bigg Boxx stores are any guide, I would suspect that the monetary prices for such tests are now astronomical.
              Thus, financial status is yet again the gatekeeper for the use of resources.
              Some days, I cheer The Jackpot on. Why? Because, as events now show, Pandemics are not amenable to being “bought off.” A Neo-Decameron is what I hope to read in a decade or so; (if I am unlucky enough to live that long.)

        2. Val

          “infection with the CV can damage the immune system”

          Very true and injection with the actual pokey bit, i.e. intact CV spike protein, in an mRNA expression vector at incredibly high copy number, injected repeatedly, does what?

          What I am seeing this school year: righteous rage parents with one or more sick kid bedridden at home, driving themselves and remaining offspring back and forth to every work/sports/band/theatre/social event, with no thought of proper or even improved ventilation, no masks ever, no early treatments ever, no nasal lavage ever, just sailin’ around in their SUVs with climate action bumper stickers. They are sophistimacated and vaccimated, you know.

      2. cnchal

        > Kids go to school to get ill.

        Demented thinking there. Isn’t it a glorified baby sitting sevice with a bit of education and ‘societal grooming’ as a side effect?

        Another problem with your assertion is that Covid can wipe out immune memory and undo all the hard work of constantly getting the flu, rendering the children defenceless against the next bout of whatever illness they catch.

        This woman is damned right to be pissed. Every parent should be. Ever hear Bonnie Henry’s psycho babble?

      3. Laughingsong

        Not necessarily for multiple weeks though… least in my childhood, that was rare. The worst time I remember was when mononucleosis cruised through my middle school. Everyone who caught it was out at least 3 weeks, usually more. But that was the only time I recall anything like that, and it was considered a very rare case.

        Never do I remember any students constantly being sick for multiple weeks.

      4. Shellbay

        Kids are now exposed to a lot more viruses than they used to be. Our local village school used to have 5/6 families (c. 1900) now it has about 30. On top of this, trips to distant relatives, holidays abroad etc expose children to yet more illnesses.

        Also school attendance policies & poor childcare options mean children are sent back to school before they have fully recovered.

        Lastly the biological norm is for children to be long term breastfed until their immune system is sufficiently mature (normally 5-7 years old) and this doesn’t happen very much.

      5. ArvidMartensen

        Hey there JW, depends on what century we are talking about.
        So, before vaccines for diphtheria and poliio, kids went to school, got sick, and, hey, some died. And we are talking the early 1950s and before. I don’t think the parents then had such a smug attitude to their kids getting sick. Went to school with a kid who survived polio and it left her with a withered arm and leg. But hey, kids go to school and get sick and recover, no biggie a withered arm and leg.
        Then there were the diseases of the 19th and early 20th century like cholera, typhoid, the great flu epidemics, etc. And kids went to school, got sick, and some died. But hey, whats a few less kids.
        There are many unthinking, smug adults who just have no idea that the wonders of modern medicine, like antibiotics and vaccines, caused the death rates for children to plummet in the 20th century. So go into a graveyard of the 19th century and look at all the little tombstones, and this might give you some inkling.
        Covid is a disease that has just popped up recently, maybe a new and improved SARS courtesy of modern science? We are learning about it on the fly. But we have had to live through the uninformed, glib, careless (as it is meant) pronouncements and the gaslighting by those who love authority and money and little else.
        Will we be looking at graveyards of the early 21st century in a few years and seeing lots more little graves? Certainly this cannot be ruled out on the evidence developing so far.

    3. flora

      Some winters are just bad. So many are now double-jabbed and boosted I keep thinking there should be less sickness, a lot less than a year ago. But some winters are just bad. There was a bad winter in my area 12-15 years ago, and this year is looking like another bad winter.

      1. c_heale

        It seems like the Covid ‘vaccines’ (in quotes since they are non sterilizing) have been completely ineffective.

        1. flora

          I don’t know what’s going on this year. 12+ years ago my area had a bad winter health-wise and I got sick 3 times in 4 months with, I assume 3 different viruses. Each one laid me out for a week or two. I don’t get sick very often so that was an unwelcome surprise. Never had a winter like that before, (or since, knock on wood). I knew a lot of people who had a similar experience that year. A bad winter.

  3. John Beech

    Adults buying toys for themselves is accurate in my case, for sure. I build model airplanes for fun (my vocation is building the servos, which are used to control models as well as unmanned systems for the defense industry). Anyway, as a lifelong modeler when I learned of a miniature turbine made in Spain that drives a propeller (another defense spinoff quite likely) plus a molded fiberglass model made in Germany, expressly for the engine, I just had to have one. Video of the company pilot demonstrating the model if you’re curious.

    1. griffen

      I strongly suspect there is a distinction most could draw, between your affinity for model airplanes and the middle 40’s aged male (most likely) buying unwrapped Star Wars figures. Just an immediate thought coming to mind. It is possible that consumer buying the Star Wars is moving into a collector mode of buying such Star Wars paraphernalia, I am certain there is no end to what’s available.

      And somewhere in this country, there are closets full of Beanie Babies just waiting for their value to be properly adjusted for inflation. Which may just never occur.

      1. semper loquitur

        Agreed. There is a big difference between adults playing with toys, which is fine in my book, and “collectors” who have fallen into the consumption trap of buying every new piece of landfill that the StarWars industry has (rapped out. Or DC or Marvel or whatever.

        I’ve known grown men whose bedrooms are filled with “collectibles”, still in the package, that they never use or ever even look at really. They just buy the next thing to come out, oogle it for a bit, then it sits on a shelf. It’s rather bizarre, it’s like some kind of warehouse. You often see something similar on YouTube gaming videos and such, the host will have a shelf full of actions figures, bobble heads, etc. from all the usual movies and comics.

        To my thinking, it’s about a war on the imagination. Toys are all branding now. Little is left to the toy user to dream up on their own. When I was a kid playing with LEGOs, for example, I used to build spaceships with them. Now, they are essentially model kits to make X-wings, Bat-wings, what have you.

        Now, on the other hand you have these:

        Ah, now here are some toys! I had a similar set and I would spend hours with them, making dioramas with sphagnum moss and rocks, making catapults and such with glue and twigs. If I had such a set now, you guys would hear from me a lot less.

        I’m currently reading Jung’s Red Book and something occurred to me last night. Jung was, of course, big on archetypes and the role they play in our lives. The Wise Man, the Hero, the Trickster and so on. I wonder to what extent those archetypes have been usurped by Batman and the Joker? We know that the corporations are after our dreams, recall the Coors Lite experiment a while back where some f00ls traded in the sanctity of their dreams for a six-pack of pi$$ water.

        1. Henry Moon Pie

          My toys were generic in a sense. Yes, they had brand names like Erector, or Kenner or Lionel. But they weren’t already attached to a story. I had to make up the story that went with the toys. Beginning with Disney it seems to me, the toys started coming with the stories already attached.

        2. hunkerdown

          The swashbuckler has been supplanted by Batman because capital doesn’t like people breaking things for good reasons.

          Seriously, you might be on to something. Any action that comes out of those little fantasy not-so-green not-so-soldiers is, by necessity, imaginary. Today’s toys are strongly tied to particular characters and personas, which IMHO steers players to value the perfect performance of other people’s plans (a role, a dance maneuver, a spoken line) over self-awareness and interdependent social creativity in the here and now.

        3. semper loquitur

          Thanks for the comments, guys. HMP, I’d offer that StarWars was in on it pretty early as well. There were action figures prior to that but they were fairly generic. StarWars changed all that. Then there were GI Joes and so on.

          hd, I agree about BatMan. He is essentially a vigilante, constantly fighting the never-ending stream of crime that is apparently endemic to humanity. Another storyline is that the Joker, always spared from death because of weak laws allowing criminals to escape justice. I think BatMan finally murders him to stop his reign of terror. He serves a nominal time in jail for his crime.

          All the superhero tropes are ultimately supportive of elites: they represent a special segment of society that is there to protect us from evil, superiorly gifted and altruistically driven. To be fair, comics have developed more nuance and grayer morals but those tropes are still powerful. Regular people are almost always portrayed as having little power or agency.

          And yes, they supplant the imaginations of children with pre-digested norms and values. Not to mention, they are fu(king everywhere, the comic heroes and the endless parade of StarWars characters in particular. T-shirts, bumperstickers, jackets, toys; the list goes on. That’s why I wonder if they are the new symbols of archetypes, the new myths, consumer products infesting our fantasies and dreams.

          1. semper loquitur

            Actually, upon reflection, GI Joe had rather large action figures, more like dolls, quite a while back.

    2. Amfortas the hippie

      my late wife liked coloring books…and my 16 yo son likes legos.
      both seem to sooth them.
      meanwhile, mother in law sings hymns under her breath…and i’m not so sure that she’s aware of it…but this is likely a self-soothing thing, too.
      none of these activities hurt anybody, and seem to work for them…so i’m all for it.

      1. Jeff W

        I know two guys, one from the US in his mid-30s, the other from Korea in his late 20s. Several years ago I had them meet (in Australia, actually) and they bonded over—you guessed it!—LEGOs. I had no idea previously that either of them were into LEGOs and found out only later when each told me of their shared interest.

        The late-20s guy from Korea is into LEGOs a lot, actually. In fact, his dream at one point was to manage a LEGO store. He’ll go online and buy all sorts of LEGO sets (or LEGO knockoffs). People have all sorts of interests and hobbies so why not?

      2. Laughingsong

        Yes! I still buy coloring books, colored pencils and crayons. And yes it’s very soothing.

        And I sing all the time. Not hymns but songs that are always running inside my head. I have an interior juke box, no doubt formed in my youth when I would always sleep with the radio on.

    3. The Rev Kev

      That model is hardly a toy. It’s more like a blend of science and art – with a helluva lot of skill displayed in it’s use.

      1. Dalepues

        My thought too. If I didn’t know aforehand, I could believe the aircraft was full scale.
        And the skill in building one was the basis for the 1960s movie Flight of the Phoenix.

    4. semper loquitur

      That’s cool. If you hunt around on the ‘Tube, you can find videos where they have installed cameras in the planes and with a VR headset, you get the immersive experience of being in the cockpit of the plane. Pricey, I understand.

      Anecdote: Years ago, a buddy who was a surfer traded a prized surfboard for one of those remote controlled planes. I believe the value of each was around 1G$. The plane was pretty big, about six feet in wingspan.

      I wasn’t there for his first flight but another pal relayed that it was his last flight. The plane took off all right, headed straight up, then straight down into the ground at speed and both wings snapped off. Apparently you need to practice on smaller, less expensive models first.

  4. GramSci

    Re EU carbon border tax

    «After almost 30 hours of talks, negotiators also agreed to launch a new carbon market for heating and transport fuels starting in 2027, with the option to delay that by one year if energy prices remain at current high levels.»

    …so, the launch will be on the first of never?

  5. The Rev Kev

    ‘These ladies were trapping stray cats in a public park and taking them to a vet then finding them homes. The police couldn’t have it though, even after admitting they have a problem with the stray cats, so they arrested 2 senior citizens.’

    You wanna know the difference between watching this video and watching a pron video? You don’t get embarrassed and red-faced watching the later but I sure was with this video. FFS, it’s only a town of about 7,000 people so they must have know who these ladies were and where they lived so could have gone to their homes. Or did they want to catch them in the act? And would you believe that when it went to trial, it took five and a half hours to find them guilty and give them a suspended 10-day jail sentence and them having to pay $100 in fines, plus court costs, each. They are demanding an appeal with a trial jury so that would be interesting. The Montgomery Advertiser just said that they were just feeding stray cats but going by other stuff in that article, it seems that perhaps these ladies had offended the local powers that be-

    But hey, if you think that the police were right, then the Wetumpka Police Department are hiring at the moment. And I bet that like the Uvalde Police Department, they have their own SWAT team.

    1. Wukchumni

      In-A-Gato-Da-Feeding, ma’am,
      Don’t you know that I can arrest you?
      In-A-Gato-Da-Feeding them Friskies,
      Don’t you know that I’ll handcuff too?

      Oh, won’t you come with me
      And give me your hands?

      Oh, won’t you come with me
      And walk off this land?

      Please give me your hands!

      In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, by Iron Butterfly

      1. Old Jake

        In the Garden of Eden – lest we forget. And yes, my copy of the album does say “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida.” But earlier editions had it right.

    2. Lupana

      I had seen that video and couldn’t understand why the women were not just put in touch with the agency in charge of dealing with an admittedly large number of stray cats. They could then work together to solve the issue. It would be a win all around – win for the ladies, win for the cats and win for the city. These police made themselves and their city look unnecessarily ridiculous. And as for the buzzards and damage done mentioned in the article – I’m curious what type of damage… We have them overhead all the time and have never seen anything.

        1. Lupana

          I guess I never thought of them landing on the roof. Probably because we live in a wooded area so there are better perches around. In a Halloween-ish kind of way they’re sort of pretty..

      1. nippersdad

        They may not have an agency with which to deal over there in Wetumpka; it is a city with only 7200 people. We live in a relatively large, comparatively wealthy district here in Georgia, and only just got a decent animal control facility about fifteen years ago. The trap, neuter release program for cats is only about ten years old now. Prior to that we had a house full of stray dogs, now we are down to stray cats (two kittens just went in this morning), but it took a lot of work by activists like those women to get us here.

        Unfortunately that is what cops out here in the sticks look like, but those little old ladies have friends and kids in their small community who will not take kindly to that sort of behavior. The old boy network is a thing. I foresee problems for those cops in the near future.

    3. fresno dan

      In the video there are 3 patrol cars visible (there may be more). The ladies defense attorney asked how many patrol cars were on duty – answer was 3 or 4….

      1. Retired Carpenter

        On the positive side the cops did refrain from calling in CAS. I wonder how these heroes would deploy in case of (God forbid) an active shooter situation.
        Retired Carpenter

  6. John Beech

    I feel so bad for the Chinese people because their government tried to protect them and they rebelled. They thought they knew best and instead of being happy the government’s Zero COVID policy was a good response to a difficult problem. They complained instead of cooperated. They are only now beginning to pay the price. Many will die. Sadly, it is only the living who will ‘maybe’ learn through the dead.

    I’ve said all along, President Xi was right in his plan. I only wish President Trump had had the cooperation of the political left left when he wanted to stop air traffic and control our borders, they too rebelled. Perhaps had they hated him less, and loved our country more, we could have put a stop to COVID before it really got going.

    1M dead . . . and counting.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Looking at all those people on ventilators as well as all those dead bodies on gurneys, was anybody else reminded of northern Italy back in early 2020? I thought that China might hold out long enough until a more effective vaccine could be developed or perhaps the strains of this Coronavirus may have evolved to more milder ones. Instead they seem to have said ‘Nah, let’s just go with it. After all, what’s the worst that can happen?’ And the rest of the world is about to see supply disruptions like you would not believe.

      1. digi_owl

        The problem is that Chinese government have stuck with the idea that the spread it droplets rather than aerosol.

        And this is a reaction to a fire killing people being under quarantine lockdown, thanks to uncharged EVs blocking firetrucks from responding in time.

        1. lambert strether

          I do not recall seeing that the Chinese government believed droplet dogma. If anything, as the spraying shows, fomites. Further, if there were any country with the operational capability to implement a Swiss Cheese strategy, it’s China, the manufacturing powerhouse. So what went wrong?

          So link, please.

    2. Lupana

      Is this Omicron or is there something more lethal circulating in China? What a mess. They had the right approach – Maybe too much economic and world pressure..?

      1. Objective Ace

        It is a country with 2 billion. I doubt the videos of morgues/overflowing hospitals are representative of everywhere. The larger the numbers your dealing with the greater the extremes will be too

      2. JW

        If its Omicron its not likely to deadly to many.
        I remember the pictures from China of people dropping dead in the streets in February 2020. Perhaps these have a similar relationship with the truth.

      3. NotTimothyGeithner

        I imagine certain people are simply more susceptible, also, the Chinese probably don’t have great medical practices from having dealt with covid at the industrial scale we’ve dealt with it in the West. Despite shared information, the medical professionals in China haven’t dealt with major outbreaks. Doctors and nurses are eyeballing patients and making decisions on a rapidly developing disease.

      4. Yves Smith Post author

        Some issues that could contribute to the really bad outcomes in China:

        1. Toilets do not have traps, so flushing spreads fecal plumes….I understand routinely beyond the unit…

        2. Chinese have a much greater propensity to diabetes than Caucasians at normal body weights, so their rate of diabetes among adults is slightly higher than in the US.

        1. Joe Well

          I had trouble visualizing no. 1 this but now I think I get it:

          I am in Mexico atm and every shower has a piece of plastic to cover the drain. When you flush the toilet, you can see the water running under the shower drain grate, i.e., the two are directly connected. The plastic is to contain the bad smell.

    3. Not Again

      But America’s supply chains are strong. A million dead is a small price to pay for corporate profits. What are you, a Communist?

    4. Bruno

      “I feel so bad for the Chinese people because their government tried to protect them and they rebelled”???

      If I recall correctly, it was not so long ago that the Chinese people were being told “It Is Right To Rebel.”

      So long, that is, as the word “to rebel” is defined compulsorily as “to carry out enthusiastically all the tasks assigned to you by a Stalinist nomenklatura,” (none of you of course having any say in how “your” government at all levels has been and is being formed and functions by corrupt cooptation.)

      The “Chinese government” in every way is just as much “Their” government as “The White House” is “Our” government.

  7. timbers

    Police State Watch – The School That Calls the Police on Students Every Other Day ProPublica (Kevin W)

    I highly recommend a series of made for TV movies – 9 in all – called Jesse Stone starring Tom Selleck. It’s about an emotionally damaged divorced cop from LA who takes a Police Chief job in the small town of Paradise, Massachusetts (a fictional town filming was actually in Nova Scotia). Pay attention to the role his canine companion plays throughout the series. It is dark and moody with plenty of detective plot twists and layers of gray not just black and white.

    It portrays cops as we once thought of them and in some ways the way my Republican friends still think of them.

    The second one (Jesse Stone:Stone Cold) was released first but is actually the second in the series, so make sure you start with Jesse Stone:Night Passage first.

    1. The Rev Kev

      I’ve seen that series and agree with you. It’s a damn fine one and Tom Selleck really plays it well. You can almost see the unconditional sympathy that that Golden Retriever has for Jesse Stone.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      They are also good beach reads. I haven’t read all of them, but the author, Robert Parker, wrote the Spenser for hire series.

      1. LifelongLib

        I actually like the movies better; Selleck portrays Stone as being middle-aged while IIRC in the books he’s in his 30s. Plus the light reminds me of the Pacific Northwest.

    3. Jerremy Grimm

      I value the Jesse Stone Series is an important part of my DVD collection, which I have watched many many times. The cinematography in this series is outstanding. I also love the music … I bought the CD of collected music.

      I confess I have not collected and read the Robert Parker books. I should do that soon! I enjoy studying the differences between book and dramatization. Art undergoes complex transformations as it travels between media. I find the transformations extremely intriguing.

      I also wondered early on, if there might be some way to move to Paradise, MA — but alas.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Those Battle Cats were incredible. Tigers, alligators, cobras, bears – the don’t give a stuff. One person said in a comment below ‘My 7lb childhood cat did that to the neighbor’s Doberman to protect me, and that dog never came back. My dog hid behind me.’

      Underestimate cats at your peril.

  8. Lexx

    ‘Adults Are Buying Toys For Themselves…’

    I read once that libraries replaced grandparents in storytelling. For decades our library was made up of mostly fiction (we grew up without grandparents). Now there’s very little but the most beloved fiction, and the volumes consist instead of how-to (90%), history, anthropology, psychology, and a few photo albums… subjects still very much in grandparents’ wheel houses.

    I would argue that the toys adults buy and enjoy are often secondary to the story attached to them. The toys represent the story they loved; they’re iconic of something bigger about how the world works and the reader’s/player’s place in it.

    1. Chris Smith

      I have thought for awhile, looking at the people who engage in geek culture/fandoms, are probably the same sort who in another time would be deeply invested in religion. Instead of memorizing Bible verses or sutras, they memorize every aspect of their fictional world. My hypothesis derives from contact in my youth with evangelicals, trekkies, and comic book geeks who all seemed to be doing the same things with different writings.

      That said, I have a fine collection of Marvel-branded action figures of the Norse Gods. (Although I prefer Ian McShane’s portrayal of Odin to Anthony Hopkins.)

    1. Pat

      Unfortunately the comments show that they still think the Ukrainians are admirable not pawns and patsys and don’t get it also means Ukraine has lost.

      Not sure how we get from noticing to actually informed but I hope that is the progression and that we are on it.

      1. fresno dan

        Ukraine – Is There Really A Change Of The Narrative? Moon of Alabama (Kevin W)
        On the surface, it is possible to read The Economist piece as a plea for more money and many more weapons. But the underlying messaging is clear: “Anyone who underestimates Russia is heading for defeat”. The Russian force mobilisation was a success; there is no problem with Russian morale; and Russia is preparing a huge winter offensive that will start soon. Russia has huge reserve forces (of up to 1.2 million men); whereas Ukraine now has 200,000 who are militarily trained for conflict. The ‘writing is on the wall’, in other words. Ukraine cannot win.
        But haven’t Biden, NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg and Germany’s chancellor Scholz said that Russia ‘can not be allowed to win’? Sure, they have.

        But Crooke points to Afghanistan and how fast the chaotic retreat from Kabul has vanished from the media and is now mostly forgotten. The Taliban were another enemy that could not be allowed to win. They won. And no one cares about it.
        Whoever said facts are stubborn things, facts remain stubborn things. Its unfortunate that we live in a time where most media report what they think their audience wants/should hear instead of facts.
        The fact that there won’t be any acknowledgement of why the US media get so many facts wrong (was there any assessment of how and why so many rumours were reported during Russiagate??? – of course not) only proves that facts have precious little to do with the current business models of “news” organizations.
        But I agree with you that there is some progress – the fact that FINALLY the Economist is acknowledging what was factually obvious a long time ago is, unfortunately, the best we can get from our modern day media.

  9. Lexx

    ‘Pentagon to weed out extremists by banning Marine Corp’

    On the other hand, if I needed to get a job done against incredibly low odds and was looking for possibly the most creative and tenacious gluttons for pain and suffering to see the project through to the very end, I would want Marines over every other armed service.

    (ducks for cover)

    1. CarlH

      Marines and their beloved mythology have always amused me. Many of my friends are ex marines and they certainly seem to have been subjected to an inordinate amount of conditioning in boot camp. Some of the best people I know though.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Maybe he can promise that all the people that support him will get a Post Office in California named after them.

  10. Screwball

    RE: The Twitter Files

    Amazing stuff. Too bad nobody cares, especially my PMC friends who think they are all about Hunters jock pics. Their busy eating popcorn waiting to see The Donald get perp walked out of Mar-a-Lago. Their finally going to get him.

    1. Not Agai

      Wow. You are surprised by Twitter censorship? Really? Wait until you find out what the New York Times has been up to.

    2. GramSci

      Yeah, on the other side of the fence I noted that these particular files appear to have been released to Michael D. Schellenberger,
      author of the 2029 pseudo-environmentalist #1 Best Seller Apocalypse Never. I bet Elon really likes Mickey D.

    3. zagonostra

      That proves what a success the suppression of the laptop has been. Everybody is focused on the suppression and not the contents. I saw some disturbing pictures which I don’t know if they were real or not and I don’t think I can point to a site that has compiled what was on it.

      The crime has been obscured and all but ignored instead the focus is on how the crime was handled and how people reacted to it.

      I find the timing of Twitter’s FBI/CIA nexus and the recent Tucker segment on JFK all too co-incidental.

  11. Wukchumni

    FTX seeks to claw back Sam Bankman-Fried’s political donations Financial Times. Oooh, this is gonna be FUN!

    I’m reminded of this scene from Lost In America where Albert Brooks negotiates to get his gambling losses returned to him.

    Lost in America (6/10) Movie CLIP – The Boldest Experiment in Advertising History (1985) HD (4:54)

  12. NotTimothyGeithner

    Re: tweet about sick kids

    I have friends who had their daughters tonsils and adenines taken out after covid hit in 2020. Apparently the poor girl was sick several times a quarter. Kids getting sick this often is just abnormal. Growing up the kid across the street would get sick and miss school fairly often, but he had pre-existing neath conditions. It was noticeable Jeb was sick fairly often. Now it seems like all the kids are repeatedly sick.

  13. The Rev Kev

    “Information war: NATO occupies Moldova!”

    Moldova is run by President Maia Sandu who appears to be one of these cookie-cutter young, female leaders that you see emerging from Finland to New Zealand. Her bio says that ‘she graduated from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. From 2010 to 2012, Sandu worked as Adviser to the executive director at the World Bank in Washington, D.C.’ More to the point, she actually holds a Romanian passport and has stated that she would be voting yes if Moldova was absorbed by Romania. She is gung-ho for the war in the Ukraine and wants to see Russia give her control of Transnistria. Not only has she shut down Russian coverage TV stations but when children dressed in costumes resembling Soviet soldiers’ uniforms sang songs popularised during WW2, she demanded an investigation by the Information and Security Service to ‘find out whether they pose a threat to national security.’ I note too that earlier this year the former president of Moldova was accused of corruption and treason charges so I think that she is running the country into a helluva mess. I don’t think that a lot of Moldovans are happy at her attempt to put them in the middle of a conflict though and would rather have a let and let live approach.

    1. Kouros

      Personally I don’t approve of the banning of Russian channels in Moldova. It is a certain population living there, mostly born there.

      However, R of Moldova is in fact the eastern half of the historical principality of Moldova, which by high jinx was pried out by the Russians in 1812. It came back to Romania at the end of 1917, to only go to USSR in 1939 and then again in 1944.

      I would just let go of Transnistria but then Budjeak, which was part of Moldova, went to Ukraine, so it only seems fair to stay with Moldova.

      But is true that neither Moldovans nor Romanians (they speak the same language and 1/3 of Romanians already call themselves first Moldovans) don’t like the situation and the war. And they dislike Ukrainians more than the Russians, knowing them better, as neighbours do.

  14. Wukchumni

    Under attack: Researchers shed light on how Lyme disease infects body Gina Wadas, Johns Hopkins
    A very active outdoorsy friend got Lyme disease a couple years ago and one the symptoms devastating him is he’s very sensitive to the Sun now, poor fellow.

    I get a tick bite about every 3 years or so and after removal of the beastie, immediately go on a 10 day antibiotic regime and so far so good.

    My favorite tick tale was from about 25 years ago, 8 of us went for a long dayhike in the Santa Monica mountains and then went to Santa Monica for dinner @ a Mexican restaurant and we ordered drinks which dutifully arrived and then shortly thereafter, a tick fell from my t-shirt onto the table and my companion in the next seat over, calmly picked up a lime wedge and squished it on the spot, proclaiming…

    ‘Well, that’s one tick that died of lime disease!’

    1. DorothyT

      When I had a tick bite and heard I should have an antibiotic to protect myself from disease, the doctor refused to give me one. She said it would/could cause sun sensitivity.

      Fortunately I didn’t develop problems from the tick bite. Note there are a large list of medicines that can cause sun sensitivity. Tick bites can be serious enough too. About being unable to obtain a prescription, I chalked it up to an insurance decision.

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      A close friend has been diagnosed with Lyme Disease. His test result is the product of his insistence that his physician include Lyme Disease among the candidates tested for. He suffers from the very sudden onset of symptoms suggesting a possible stroke, or long-Corona flu — he was recently diagnosed to have been infected with Corona flu by a cousin — who suffers from very similar symptoms to those that afflict my friend. He has lost the voluntary control of his right hand and suffers from back and neck pains sufficient to justify his use of Oxycontin for pain relief — prescribed — Oxycontin for pain relief… and general inability to control or consistently feel his right side. Just before my friend was diagnosed with Lyme Disease he had been diagnosed with the Corona flu.

      Fun Fact: Some of the impacts of long Corona appear to be similar to some of the impacts of long Corona flu, and probably other illnesses. I hope diagnosticians are up to the task of sorting out the causes, and with further help from disease and treatment researchers, might also be able to prescribe effective treatments.

  15. The Rev Kev

    “SCOTT RITTER: A Lexicon for Disaster”

    I don’t see how they can go back to the days when they had a common lexicon, especially when you have the neocons wanting to game the whole system to set up a nuclear first strike capability on Russia. The system has broken down completely and don’t ask me how you would go about setting up nuclear arms deals with China as the US has suggested. Without a basis of trust, there is really nothing to be discussed. Once upon a time we nearly had it all and it all got thrown away through gamesmanship by the neocons – who all then proceeded to get promoted. As Alex Christoforou often says, no reverse gear with these people.

    1. nippersdad

      I am in hopes that the colossal blunder that has been Ukraine will ultimately discredit the PNAC project altogether. The Augean stables will have to be cleaned out, and the last twenty years have provided the potential for a pent up flood to do it with. If that new CEO over at CNN who has been complaining about “uninformed vitriol from the left”* wants a news paradigm that will grab eyeballs, the neocon failure to achieve any of its’ geopolitical goals would make a great vehicle.


  16. Alice X

    Happy Winter Solstice!

    Well yes, but in the the Western Hemisphere isn’t it tomorrow December 21, 4:48 PM EST?

      1. cnchal

        You ought to send Bezos a thank you card. He handed you a grand that was stolen from third party sellers.

        Amazon’s Toll Road

        First, Amazon uses seller fees to absorb massive, multi-billion dollar losses on Prime.[12] These losses are predatory. They’re a key way that Amazon locks-in consumers and maintains its hold over the market. By providing free shipping, streaming video, and other perks for an annual membership fee that that doesn’t come close to covering the actual costs of these services, Amazon has induced 70 percent of U.S. households to sign up.[13] Once someone joins Prime, studies show that they tend to make Amazon’s platform the first, and often only, shopping site they visit.

        Then there is the 150% annual churnover in the brightly lit Satanic Mills. Were working conditions humane Amazon would wildly unprofitable and even with 400 eclownomists toiling for Bezos none had the guts to tell him to slow down and now they overbuilt by about six dozen Satan’s hell holes.

        I think it’s a shit show. Review fraud, copyright fraud, stealing third party sellers products, a 30% crapola return rate, losing $10 billion on stuffing spying devices into as many homes and offices as possible, the list of garbage Amazon does is endless. The corporate ISIS that is now chewing its own ass.

        Amazon shopper = whip cracking sadist

        1. semper loquitur

          “Amazon shopper = whip cracking sadist”

          It is due to your consistent exhortations to leave Amazon and your descriptions of their cruelty that I have done exactly that. I had to use them for work supplies for a while but I searched and found an alternative that’s actually cheaper. Thanks.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      one of the many uses for all the scrap lumber i save, in a pile, over by the woodshed…is for the v shaped log holder atop the 2 pallets that make the sawbuck: for to hold a log while i’m cutting it, so i can spare my back.
      these 2 boards forming the V dont last long…they get cut by the chainsaw, and into the woodstove they go.
      the latest example of this has 2022 painted on it…so i can burn that dern thing tomorrow for the solstice(pagan new year).
      2022. dont let the screen door hit ya on the ass.

      1. Alice X

        The seasonal points and the full moon are about the only events I note on my calendar. Tomorrow I will go and give a girlfriend a present, but that’s all. I stopped drinking sometime ago so I won’t celebrate passed out in a snowdrift. The rest of the religious and secular holidays are mainly inconveniences. I guess I’m a pagan though I’m not sure exactly what sort.

        1. semper loquitur

          “I guess I’m a pagan though I’m not sure exactly what sort.”

          Be your own! Those who engage in the Great Work are free to draw from numerous traditions and make their own system. Find what works for you!

          1. Alice X

            I’ve been a musician my entire life, all I ever wanted to do (or did) was play my violin or guitar. But even there I was a non-conformist. If I found favor with the Muse, I was happy, even if hubbies were not.

      2. Jeremy Grimm

        I hope we will not regret the passing of the year 2022 as the year 2023 proves to be far far worse. I fear we do not live in auspicious times.

  17. Robert Hahl

    Re: World Health Organization Doomed the World by Concealing Evidence of Airborne COVID Transmission

    Remarks by Harvard’s first female professor on the occasion of her retirement in 1948. Her message was that medical hoaxes perpetrated by authorities are often false assurances that a threat can be easily avoided by hand washing. Apparently some things can’t be changed.

    1. fresno dan

      mitigating airborne transmission would have been expensive. And the cost of losing people, especially people who don’t make much money, was a cost the wealthy were more than willing to bear.

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        Money and time. Can’t have the bars and restaurants closed while ventilation systems are upgraded.

        We live in a society where it all boils down to one goal: meet the billionaires’ demand for return on their capital.

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          Our good uncle could have set aside a little funding in one of the multi-billion and multi-trillion dollar omnibus bills addressing the Corona flu et al. with funding and guidance to assure that bars and restaurants … and other venues of the public’s enjoyment of their leisure time might have their ventilation systems upgraded — and chances of exposure to Corona flu, common flu, and common cold dramatically reduced. It would not hurt if the legislation were made sufficiently clear and readable that a small business bar or restaurant owner could de-cypher the text, intent, and funding potentials … without the help of legal or accounting experts.

          Coverage for time closed to upgrade systems in order to execute repairs necessary would seem a minor adjunct to a well-designed bill to foster improved Public Health and Welfare.

          1. Henry Moon Pie

            Very true, Jeremy. If only we had government that sought to solve the problems that were afflicting its people. Instead, our government’s reaction was a clumsy, desperate attempt to preserve the status quo in the face of a pandemic. The status quo, which boils down to “the billionaires decide,” was more important than even the lives of the people.

            When Biden said, “Nothing will fundamentally change,” he meant even in the face of plague and climate catastrophe. Since your proposal, as effective as it might be as a way of coping with a pandemic in a capitalist system, would have threatened the status quo–given people ideas–and thus could never be seriously considered.

  18. DJG, Reality Czar

    All of These Guys Belong in Prison // Common Dreams

    On the “normalizing” (a verb I detest) of torture in the U S of A.

    This article describes the involvement of the court system, the military, and so-called professional psychologists (supposedly part of a national association of psychologists) in vile behavior.

    Applying Lambert Strether’s book review, this sure looks like an instance of a SCAD to me.

    I recall that fresno dan wrote that there is a question of how the concept of SCAD applies to international affairs. Guantanamo is an excellent for-instance

    1. DJG, Reality Czar

      Special guest appearance by our Gina, the Spokesmodel of Power for SCAD:

      Al-Nashiri’s attorneys—who argue that evidence in the case is tainted by torture—questioned Mitchell about what happened at the Thailand black site in November 2002, when former CIA Director Gina Haspel oversaw the secret prison.

    2. fresno dan

      The thing that gets me, after it is obvious that all aspects of the US government (as well as many other US “institutions”) supports torture, is that there is still that bullsh*t that the US supports Ukraine because the US supports democracy and human rights

    3. caucus99percenter

      In Germany they just convicted a 97-year old woman of being an accomplice to 10,000 murders because as a teen she worked as a secretary in a concentration camp.

      Of course she never stood a chance. The idea that after so many years a trial could be remotely fair — with the media and entire political establishment treating the whole thing as a show and mere formality and her guilt as a foregone conclusion from the very start — is of course a farce.

      What I want to know is, is this going to be the world’s moral and legal standard for judging people in supporting functions in Guantanamo? How about people doing staff work for the neocon power players who’ve been launching all these wars?

      1. Wukchumni

        97 year old is looking at life for being a secretary, and Poland all of the sudden wants a veritable shitlode of money from Germany for services rendered in WW2… we’re getting real close to the end of living history, oh sure there’ll be somebody that served in the war that lives to be 113, but most everybody is gone now.

      2. Jeremy Grimm

        Your questions are better asked after the Fall of the American Empire.– but that may not be a long wait all things considered. Remember — only those on the losing side are tried as war criminals. Just ask deceased Gen. LeMay.

      3. fresno dan

        its funny how you can have a trial for a woman who was ?18? when she was a secretary, but how LEADERS of countries doing torture or aiding and abetting torture – why, the legal system just can’t get around to figuring out that torture happened (looking at you USA, and all those accomplices).
        rendition – funny how the legal system can come up with words to obfuscate the word kidnapping when they want to…

        1. caucus99percenter

          Exactly. It’s like, oh, “we” (the German government / the “Free World”) in 2022 have the right to expect an 18-year old girl to have stood up to the Nazis, this totalitarian regime, all by herself, but we have no right to expect figures like the so-called Gang of Eight, the most powerful Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. Congress, to stand up to a supposedly democratically elected U.S. president, and to a military and intelligence establishment that is supposedly accountable to civilian oversight, on torture.

      4. The Rev Kev

        It was embarrassing that the 97-year-old’s trial took place before a juvenile court because of her age at the time. And she was just a goddamn secretary. Can’t wait until they go after the camp’s janitors. Maybe this is just guilt at work because so many of the hard-core Nazis were allowed to escape to places like South America or were allowed to become part of the new government in the 1950s with their recent past forgotten. They even rose high in the EU and NATO too.

      5. JBird4049

        Remember, this is all performative. Kabuki Justice done for the illusion of Justice much like how the Kabuki News is done for the illusion of Information. This is all done to create a funhouse for the powerful to remain in control.

        Think of that respected war criminal, and Hillary Clinton’s personal guru, Henry Kissinger with his justification of realpolitik, the coordinated accusations of antisemitism against Jeremy Corbyn and his later ouster, or all the aWoken idiots running around destroying careers with their justification of “social justice.”

        The 97 year old woman is merely another wave in a funhouse mirror.

  19. Wukchumni

    GPT-3 is not directly concerned with semantics. Given a tutorial on a topic from the web, for example, GPT-3 does not learn from the tutorial’s teaching, but only from the syntax of the words used.

    Did the GPT3 Chatbot Pass the Lovelace Creativity Test? Mind Matters
    I’m severely technology challenged so please humor me, but does AI do humor?

    …and whats with the anti-semantic behavior?

    1. Mildred Montana

      >”…does AI do humor?”

      Equally challenged technophobe here so I dunno but I’m willing to humor you. Here’s a possible test. Ask Alexa or Siri or whomever or whatever the following question:

      Alexa, Why did the chicken cross the playground?

      Alexa, presumably, will respond with something like this: “Because dusk was falling, it was time for the chicken to return to the coop.”

      No Alexa, the chicken wanted to get to the other slide!

      I have no idea how Alexa would respond to this pun and, being averse to her and her sisters, I’m not going to try the test myself. But I think her (its) response would be interesting.

      Humor requires a deep understanding of the nuances of language, has many variations, and is one of things that makes us human. If AI ever masters it, it will pass Turing tests with ease, and we’ll all be on our way to the scrap heap of history.

      Hope this answers your question. ;)

    2. Polar Socialist

      but does AI do humor?

      At least the one doing Netflix suggestions to me is somewhat amusing, I’ll give them that.

    3. semper loquitur

      AI does not “do humor”. They do nothing creative. They correlate patterns with other patterns and manufacture yet more patterns. Creativity is the sole province of the conscious.

      1. Wukchumni

        That’s comforting, don’t need artificial art officials sullying the mirth trade with guilt by word association.

  20. David

    Ritter’s article is interesting, but as often with him it needs glossing, and it mixes up various different points. In spite of what he says the problem is not one of terminology: it goes deeper than that.

    Arms treaties of any kind are an expression of mutual political understanding. They do not create stability: they are a signal that it is desired and a way of putting it into effect. If that political desire and commitment is not there, no amount of treaty drafting will make up for it. It’s best to divide these treaties into three types, not least because people often wind up confusing them with each other.

    The first type is Arms Control treaties. These place limits on numbers and types of weapons, and in some cases where they may be deployed. The idea is not necessarily to reduce force levels over all (though this may happen) but to introduce controls on which weapons can be introduced and what may be done with them. Note that it is perfectly possible for existing weapons to be replaced, and for overall stocks to rise, provided this is in accordance with the treaty provisions;

    The second type is Disarmament or Arms Reduction treaties, where some or all of certain categories of weapons are taken out of service or physically destroyed. Note that Arms Control treaties may also involve physical destruction or decommissioning, but the two types of treaties are quite distinct.

    Third, and not really relevant here, are a number of treaties that ban certain types of weapons outright. These treaties, usually under the auspices of the UN, are multilateral, unlike the first two categories which tend to be signed by a limited number of nations, often only two.

    But in the absence of a political will, the words used in treaties don’t matter that much, and of course the US and Russia don’t use the same vocabulary to discuss arms treaties and never have: there’s nothing new about that. Thirty years ago, I remember the Russians having enormous difficulty even with the concept of large-scale treaty verification: “you mean spying” they said. If the political will is there, a very imperfect treaty can function. If it isn’t, the most perfect treaty with the best terminology in the world won’t do you any good.

    A separate point: I was surprised to see Ritter sing the praises of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency. It was always regarded by other governments as an unwanted seventh or eighth wheel in the Washington bureaucracy, which was quite complex enough anyway. It had no executive power, and just wound up being an extra speed-bump.

    1. Bazarov

      You and Ritter are getting at the same thing from different positions. Ritter’s focus is the “drift” in the stability of certain arms control principals, while you’re focused on the root cause of that “drift”: changing political orientations. Ritter acknowledges these changing political orientations when he discusses how the US has become more aggressive in its posture since the Bush Administration. But he doesn’t really drive the point home.

      My question for Ritter is: are the Russians so purely reactive? Certainly that nation has shifted its political priorities as well. Though we all understand Russian motivations for the invasion of Ukraine, that invasion would not have been possible without re-orientation of the Russian military–and therefore arms–posture in such a way as to make arms control treaties unappealing. I’m thinking especially of Putin’s 2018 speech divulging the existence of doomsday weapons like Poseidon and Avangard. Such weapons were at least a decade in the making. Perhaps the Russians were just as happy to see the arms control lexicon break down.

      1. Chris Cosmos

        I think the Russians would be happy with more not less arms-control treaties if and only if they believed the USA had given up its clear goal of total world conquest/domination with no holds barred. My country has become the cartoon version evil that propaganda from the 50s imagined by personifying all evil that could not be trusted in any situation. The Soviets were never like that. They had no interest in world-domination–they were smart enough to know that wasn’t in the cards for them. The USA with its obsessive ideology of being the “new Rome” sees domination as the only possible goal for the USA–in fact, as the neocons stated in the late 90s, without war as a common goal the USA would split apart into factions and/or be morally compromised by hedonism.

        I’ve had conversations with FP elites who insist that “it’s either us or the Chinese” because they, for the most part, cannot imagine a world where people cooperate and share power only domination/submission scenes are possible. This is a very deeply ideological premise that even non-neocons in Washington share.

      2. Kouros

        Yes, they are reactive. Those weapons were developed because Americans exited ABM and then advanced towards Russian border by absorbing those polities in NATO, and was preparing de facto to swallow Ukraine as well (and Belarus, if possible, remember the protests in 2021?)

        So when the Americans exited ABM, likely Russians made a thorough assessment and realized that there will be again an arms race and this time they should really be prepared and do it the smart way. And take advantage that US industrial base moved to China…

    2. John Steinbach

      I agree with Ritter that words have meaning & that mutual understanding of lexicon is a key to making treaties work. That said, David is correct about the difference between arms control & disarmament treaties. The INF & ABM treaties were the prime examples of disarmament/reduction treaties & SALT/START of arms control. The former treaties worked to raise the threshold to nuclear war, while the latter amounted to “trimming the nuclear tree,” & did little to reduce the threat of nuclear war.

      One area where Ritter misses the mark is his insistence that MAD/deterrence was the U.S. policy. U.S. policy has always been about first strike.

      1. David

        I think you mean “first use”, don’t you? The US has never had the capability to mount successful first strike (neither has the SU/Russia). NATO policy in the Cold War was “first use” to make up for the relative weaknesses of its conventional forces.

  21. fresno dan

    Michael Tracey
    Remember: when presented with a treasure trove of new material showing behind-the-scenes detail of unprecedented intrusions by the US security state to secretly control Americans’ political speech, the media’s first instinct was to dismiss the material and discredit the reporters
    This is so beyond how this would have been reported in my formative years. One can only conclude that every “mainstream” news allow is a CIA cover.

  22. semper loquitur

    SBF looks truly psychotic in those pictures. I wonder to what extent it’s the decidedly less than luxurious Bahamian prison cell he is chilling in and to what extent it’s the loss of access to the no doubt high quality drugs he was strung out on for so long. Soon though he will be cozy in the Jeffrey Epstein wing of a New York jail, not to worry.

    1. Wukchumni

      Kind of a poster child for young adults (hey you kids… get off of my cloud!) enamored with the fantasy lifestyle, er video games.

      …if only SB-F could only hit the reset button and start over

      1. semper loquitur

        Yes, agreed. Lived in a virtual world of video games, social media, and computer nerdiness as so many kids do. Not to mention the pampered, entitled womb of influential parents and gobs of wealth. Now cold reality has kicked in the door and grabbed him by the nethers. Hard cheese, says I.

  23. fresno dan

    Swatters Used Ring Cameras To Livestream Attacks, Taunt Police, Prosecutors Say ars technica

    (from the comments to the article) swatting should be attempted murder
    (comment on the above comment) It’s kind of telling about the state of law enforcement that this is a reasonable opinion
    It would be interesting if there was a source of how many “swatting” incidents have occured, and what the rate of injury and death is.

  24. Amfortas the hippie

    and, i havent seen this linked(but i’ve been busy):

    “Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova’s answer to a media question in connection with State Department Spokesperson Ned Price saying Russia is guilty of making Russia-US relations worse”

    never knew that Russians had such biting wit, until recently.
    Lavrov is pretty entertaining, too…an arid wind for a sense of humor.

    1. Chris Cosmos

      Though few people seem to do this, an informative venture is to watch or read Putin (and other Russian leaders) statements and news conferences. Compare those with US/Euro leaders lame, illogical, and illiterate statements. Putin, for example, actually thinks in paragraphs that hold together–I’ve never seen a US politician’s discourse even approaches that.

    2. The Rev Kev

      That Maria Zakharova really comes out with both barrels blazing. She calls out Biden and co. and lays out the situation in clear, stark terms. It’s actually quite refreshing in comparison with the usual sound bytes that we are use to.

  25. Carolinian

    Re McGregor in AmCon–that’s a useful warning but the Vietnam analogy is far from exact. It was one thing for the Pentagon to think they could beat the Vietnamese, another to assume they feel the same way about the nuclear armed Russians. If baby Blinken and his State Dept cohort want a real war with Russia they will have to get the Pentagon on board against its own interests.

    1. Karl

      That sounds reasonable, but I wonder. DOD already seems to have gotten on board against their own interests. Apparently, much of DOD’s and NATO’s inventory of some weapons/ammo is dangerously depleted. One wonders what’s left to fight with, and for how long?

      More importantly, has the strategic field been adequately prepped (e.g. supplies, political support) for a potentially long war in Ukraine?

      I do believe the pace of events is much swifter than Vietnam. Unlike the two years of 1963-65 for the U.S. to decide what to do, and for the political case for intervention to build, this war may be essentially decided in the next few months. Biden, by contrast, has done very little to make the sudden case to justify a combat role for the U.S. in Ukraine. The political ground work has not been laid for taking such risks.

      I agree with you that the Vietnam analogy is a stretch. U.S. vs. Russia is a far cry from U.S. vs. Vietnam. The U.S. was very careful not to provoke China in Vietnam as it did in Korea. A direct military clash with Russia? That’s a political bridge way too far. But the fact that MacGregor thinks that the U.S. might seriously consider this is extremely troubling. Kissinger says the U.S. needs to start negotiations now to avoid a world war, so he seems concerned too.

      How did our leaders reach this point of madness? Sorry, I don’t want to risk Chicago for Odessa–or even Talinn or Warsaw.

  26. Chris Cosmos

    The national security state (the “interagency” of “deep state”) has complete control of the mainstream media. How that happened and the mechanisms of that control is a complicated subject. It is best to start with the “Operation Mockingbird” techniques uncovered by the last generation of politicians (in Washington) who cared about the values represented by the Constitution (the 70s). There you saw the CIA’s attempt to control the media but it was never totally successful. Today, the State has learned how to use an elaborate series of carrots and a few sticks to completely control the official media Narrative about almost any- and every-thing.

    We’ll see if the Twitter files have any influence on anything consequential (I say it will influence a few people in the intelligentsia and that’s it) just as the Biden laptop had no effect whatsoever on anything (we’ll see if it gets traction with the RP in charge of the House–I say it will have little effect) during the last Presidential election.

    Just a shout out to Michael Tracey one of the most courageous journos we have–he’s been attacked by everyone for taking as close to an “objective” view on issues.

    1. playon

      The state control of media has been helped immensely by the consolidation and mergers in both broadcasting and print media. Additionally we are now learning that social media such as twitter and facebook have dozens of ex-FBI and CIA employed in their ranks as content censors. We have fallen down a very dark rabbit hole and may not be able to climb back out of it.

  27. Wukchumni

    {lifted from a Reddit post}

    I just replaced 50% of my job with ChatGPT For now, it’s great and really helped me deliver on time. But really, this technology will easily replace me and my salary within a year.

    I’m an instructional designer at a university. I build a lot of e-learning courses, write curriculum documents, write knowledge check questions, work with stakeholders, etc. So generally my role is a content creator. So far this week, I have used ChatGPT to: create a specific role play scenario with 1 positive outcome and 2 negative outcomes for a science course I am building, provided it with a huge document of the course and asked it to create knowledge check questions, and asked it to write a lot of my introductory content. In the scenario, I asked it to create a branching scenario like a choose your own adventure book where the decisions made affect the scenario a user is faced with further down the tree.

    These are tasks that would either require a lot of my own time, or a lot of time with subject matter experts (which is highly valued because they should be producing more valuable work) but ChatGPT was able to create in a matter of seconds. With the scenarios – I wasn’t happy with the first couple of attempts so I refined the questions and asked it to recreate the scenarios in different ways. With the introduction texts – I simply modified the ChatGPT output and used 10 minutes instead of 2 hours in writing the entire text myself. The amazing thing is that the text is plagiarism free – so instead of researching and rewriting the content – I was able to copy much of what ChatGPT was producing, rework it a bit, and be finished.

    1. Karl

      But really, this technology [ChatGPT] will easily replace me and my salary within a year.

      Perhaps this is too pessimistic. It does seem that an expert with the needs for a quality deliverable–right now, a human being with actual lived experience–is essential to mediate early ChatGPT prototypes and final product. So, rather than replacing humans, perhaps the technology is rather complementary/symbiotic. Didn’t Excel and MS Word just create new avenues for creative math and wordplay and ultimately increase the demand for good analysts and writers?

      Maybe ChatGPT 2.0 will make most “knowledge work” of the PMC obsolete? And maybe ChatGPT 3.0, integrated into a robot with steel muscle and sinew and gigabit sensors under very precise and rapid computer control, will eventually make the physical work of humans obsolete. Then what will humans do?

    2. Jason Boxman

      I’d been mostly ignoring ChatGPT, but last night when I couldn’t sleep I kept involuntarily posing questions that I’d ask it when I signup for an account to try it out. Although so far today that has yet to happen.

    1. Carolinian

      Seen both. The Cage movie is actually about rivals stealing his pig and he must go on a quest to find. He eventually confesses it’s not about the money (a lot) but about love.

  28. DataHog

    RE: “So much for the myth that Africa fared well.” …at avoiding Covid.
    Yves, your “myth” comment on the Morgue Deaths in Africa link probably makes a categorical error.

    The link I’ve included below is from last year. It shows that when researchers examined Covid statistics in Africa, the continent was divided into two distinct groups.
    One group of 31 countries very widely dispensed the drug that should not be named. Those countries had low incidence of Covid.
    The other 22 countries in Africa that did not routinely or widely distribute that unmentionable drug had the usual higher rates of Covid infection.

    The link on the Morgue Deaths in Africa is a study of deaths in Zambia. Zambia is one of the 22 countries that does not widely distribute the unmentionable drug.

    I haven’t kept up with the Covid data from Africa. Current data may paint a different picture. I’d be suspicious of any study that neglects to bifurcate the data to reflect that 31-22 split.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      For a self-styled DataHog, you not living up to your handle. That study is terrible. And there are data points that suggest IVM countries in Africa fared poorly. I am not saying IVM might not be beneficial but its advocates are regularly way out over their skis. From scientist GM:

      This should have never been allowed to get past even the very loose criteria for putting it out on medRxiv — medRxiv and bioRxiv do have a screening process to weed out the truly obvious crankery, and well, this is exactly in that category.

      Anything that analyzes official cases goes straight to the garbage bin.

      We have a severe problem with undercounting COVID deaths even in the US, which is due to a combination of factors — people don’t get tested or only get tested with RATs (increasingly common as now even hospitals are moving away from PCR), they never go to the hospital and die at home (because they can’t afford it, or think it is not big deal and suddenly deteriorate very fast), doctors and coroners don’t write COVID on the death certificate for various reasons, often ideological and/or pressure from relatives, etc.

      Well, Africa is like that but literally hundreds of times worse, and has been from the start.

      Nobody in Africa ever tested properly, and nobody recorded more than a small fraction of the actual deaths, and more than an extremely small fraction of the cases.

      That is why the only objective measure is excess deaths.

      Problem is, state institutions in Africa are so weak, that we don’t even have that, but where we do have it, the picture is one of anything but little impact. Exactly the opposite in fact.

      Keep in mind that Africa has very low median ages across the continent, so overall mortality should be very low, just because of the extremely skewed with age risk.

      And yet what do we see from the one place where we do have good excess mortality data, which is South Africa?

      Excess deaths are at 0.57% of the population, with Eastern Cape at almost 0.9%.

      But for South Africa’s population structure the expectation was 0.3% of the population to die at 100% attack rate. So in reality it was double that, due to reinfections and more severe variants appearing (Beta was at least as bad as Delta, and they had both a Beta and then a Delta wave).

      We also have partial excess deaths data for the following:

      – Algeria, up to Dec 31, 2020, 0.11% EMR (excess mortality rate, how much of the population have died above baseline), undercount ratio of 18x. Note that this is before any variant appeared, they then had a big Delta and Omicron waves and official deaths have doubled, but the undercount ratio has probably gone up as reporting degraded even further with the normalization of what was happening

      – Egypt: up to Sep 30, 2022, so fairly recent, 0.3% EMR (again, more than expected, Egypt has a median age of 24, while it’s 28 in South Africa, should have been 0.2-0.25% at most), undercount ratio 13x

      And that’s it.

      Now one can argue that South Africa, Algeria and Egypt are outside the onchocercasis belt, but there were also analyses of funeral activity from Sudan, which showed extremely high excess mortality in late 2020, of fatalities in the hospital in Lusaka in Zambia, where they tested them during the peak of waves, and most people had died of COVID at the time, implying excess deaths greatly elevated relative to the baseline, and a few other scattered local studies like that.

      And there was that story about how 32 (yes, thirty two), or 5% of the representatives in the DRC parliament died of COVID in the first half of 2021:

      At that time the DRC as a whole had recorded a grand total of <800 COVID deaths. What are the chances that in a country of 100M, there were only 800 COVID deaths yet 32 of them happened in the parliament?

      The much more plausible explanation is that in fact hundreds of thousands died, but nobody recorded it because nobody there records what people die of, or even how many people are born and die, except when they have one of their Ebola outbreaks.

      P.S. It's extremely frustrating that three years into this we still haven't gotten the very basics of the situation into people's minds. How can anyone think any data coming from Africa is accurate I have a very hard time understanding, yet we have it even in preprints...

  29. MarkT

    So Nouriel Roubini says that interest rates won’t be raised high enough to avoid economic cataclysm; he quotes public and private debt levels. Who are these creditors who we can’t possibly repay?

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