Links 12/25/2022

Nearly 10,000 flights have been canceled or delayed so far this holiday weekend due to severe weather. Here are the 5 cities most plagued by delays and cancellations at the airport Business Insider

Light pollution indicators for all the major astronomical observatories British Royal Astronomical Society. “The results show that two-thirds of all large observatories have already surpassed the critical 10 per cent increase in radiance over the assumed natural levels.”

How Protecting Trees Can Fight Gentrification Mother Jones

After substation shooting, federal regulator orders review of security standards Maryland Matters

Open House The Baffler. “Capitalism favors a certain kind of family unit. Networks of kinship that don’t fit its mold find themselves policed, surveilled, and otherwise punished. It’s something Indigenous communities know all too well.”

Because the bell rings The Imperfectionist

This WWII weapons bunker has a new mission: sheltering a scientist’s insect collection LA Times


Keystone pipeline raises concerns after third major spill in five years Guardian

Pipeline company says Kansas oil spill contained, but chemicals found downstream KCUR

Drone no-fly zone issued over Keystone oil spill site in Kansas Kansas Reflector


Basin designated non-expansion area by state water chief Mohave Valley Daily News. The first new [irrigation non-expansion area] in Arizona in 40 years.” 

Groundwater depletion in California’s Central Valley accelerates during megadrought Nature

Pilot program encourages farmers to switch to drought-friendly crops Your Central Valley

Agave: The New Drought-Tolerant California Crop? UC Davis


Nearly 250 million people in China could have COVID-19, leaked document shows RFA

Analysis: As COVID soars, China has 2 chains of command Nikkei Asia

China stops declaring daily Covid cases as wave strains hospitals, funeral services SCMP


Junta Watch: Dictator Trains Sights on ‘Unethical’ CDM doctors The Irrawaddy


US working with Saudi Arabia on strategic military plans, general says Al-Monitor

Saudi Arabia: Flash floods hit the city of Mecca Middle East Monitor

Old Blighty

Britain’s winter of discontent is the inevitable result of austerity FT(!)

UK Insurers, Banks Hope for Substantive Financial Services Reforms in 2023 Insurance Journal


China calls US a ‘direct threat’ to the world RT

Hua Hong gives China new hope with old chip technology FT

New Not-So-Cold War

From a PMC class traitor:

Sudden Increase In Russian Navy Activity In Black Sea Naval News

Bakhmut Meatgrinder & Copium The Real Politick with Mark Sleboda

The Ukraine Lobby Bandera Lobby Blog

Preparing for the Final Collapse of the Soviet Union Hudson Institute. Lambert: “What they really believe. We’ll see how it works out.”

A German-China-Russia triangle on Ukraine Indian Punchline

Germany steps in to help railway companies pay electricity bill Rail Freight

European Disunion

Biden Administration

Industrial Policy is Not a Remedy for Income Inequality Counterpunch

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

A Roomba recorded a woman on the toilet. How did screenshots end up on Facebook? MIT Technology Review

Imperial Collapse Watch

“The new legislation means that the United States will no longer be a sanctuary for war criminals”

15+ year ago, I found that Army investigators ID’d Vietnam vets who could be tried for war crimes. They were living in the suburbs. Some are still there.

— Nick Turse (@nickturse) December 23, 2022

Uncompensated Allies: How Contracting Companies and U.S. Government Agencies Failed Third-Country Nationals in Afghanistan Brown University’s Costs of War Project

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



GOP Clown Car

Democrats en déshabillé

Could Democrats Really Elect a Moderate Republican Speaker? The American Prospect

Groves of Academe

Our No Longer Free Press

Twitter Files: What We’ve Learned So Far Matt Taibbi

Class Warfare

The untold exploitation and misery in America’s weed industry LA Times

Extreme Cold Weather Stretches U.S. Homeless Shelters’ Capacity US News

The Bezzle

FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried was ‘chilling’ in the American Airlines lounge at JFK before flying business class to his parents’ home to await trial Business Insider

Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. The Rev Kev

    ‘James Felton
    There’s out of touch and then there’s a millionaire asking a homeless man in a homeless shelter if he’s in financial services’

    In the UK you keep on seeing how they refer to Sunak as the invisible man since he became Prime Minister as you don’t see him much. After this little conversation, perhaps that is why.

      1. JohnA

        Sunak was also recorded in the summer explaining to voters in an affluent Tory constituency south east of London, how he was moving funding from deprived areas to ‘more deserving’ areas, like the one he was giving the speech in. The idea of leveling up, or even helping the poor, is totally alien to Sunak.

      1. earthling

        When you go through life never meeting anyone who is low income (except your servants), you never learn to politely ask questions of others not in your cohort, like ‘so what line of work are you usually in’. One of many reasons why billionaires should stay the family blog out of public administration.

        1. earthling

          Old school money used to get trained in politeness to one’s inferiors, the greedbillionaires skip the charm school

    1. John Beech

      Since we’re not privy to their prior conversation, and the knives are out for the guy, might it be wise to take these kinds of attacks as rather less than truthful?

      I’d rather give the guy, the first brown PM in England’s history, a boulder of salt rather than accept at face value what someone who isn’t a friend claims. So I’ll wait to see what they can accomplish for Great Britain. You may be wise to take this course, also, unless, of course, you’re rooting for his failure in which case, screw this attitude – respectfully.

      And Merry Christmas.

      1. Anonymous 2

        One of the things Sunak and his friends are planning to do is to weaken democracy in the UK via voter suppression laws. So unless, like the Tories, you are an enemy of democracy, you should rather not see what they can accomplish.

      2. Greg

        Yes, if only we had any way of knowing Sunak beyond waiting for his next actions. If only we had some mysterious insight into who he is prior to becoming the first brown PM of england.

        Oh well, as you say, best assume he’s a great guy since we have no prior knowledge and he just appeared from a vaporous cloud as the lettuce wilted.

      3. Paleobotanist

        Respectfully, this is the guy on record as saying “Fu(k the poor” while chancellor of the Exchequer which is not a good presage….

      4. Aaron

        Always love a good, straight shooting identity politics take.
        The first brown PM? Wonderful! Hopefully we can get Hilary to win as first female US president next term! What a time to be alive!

      5. Michael Fiorillo

        And so the First Brown PM will do everything in his power to privatize the NHS… got any other things you’d like to see?

      6. Jed

        Late to party, but I will pile on.

        Remarkably obtuse JB. After Obama pulled the wool over our collective eyes, you should be ashamed to type out this drivel.

    1. Lexx

      The music from ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ (Vince Guaraldi Trio) is playing in the living room now. For us that music defined Christmas; it’s never lost it’s magic. We play it every year.

      1. CanCyn

        We don’t celebrate Christmas anymore but that music is still welcome in our house, lovely stuff. Here is a great interview with the drummer from the Geraldo Trio, Jerry Granelli:
        For many years of his life he played mostly non mainstream jazz and refused to play any of the Charlie Brown Christmas music. The story has a good ending though. Article and pops cast in link.

        1. Michaelmas

          That interview took me back to something I’d forgotten, which was I used to work as a keyboard player in the SF Bay Area and decades ago, when I was an absolute beginner as a professional, I played a casual where Jerry Granelli was the drummer. That meant something to me then because he’d been in the band for John Handy’s Monterey record (if anybody remembers that now).

          Nice guy, as the article says. We went out back and he got me high, which I really shouldn’t have done because at that point I’d no idea what I was doing on gigs.

          1. CanCyn

            Very cool! Sounds like he managed to clean up from a drugs and drink perspective. Those guys really lived a ‘fast’ life. He knew all the greats, many of whom died young. Amazing he made it to 80 yrs of age.

      2. Patrick Morrison

        I was born in 1962 and was glued to the television until about 1977. ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ is one of my mandatory Christmas albums and ‘Christmas Time is Here’ strikes chords in my heart that nothing else does.

      3. DorothyT

        I was fortunate to see Vince Guaraldi play at The Lighthouse in Hermosa Beach in the very late ’50s. Might have been his single appearance there. One of the most unforgettable musical performances of my lifetime. Howard Rumsey welcomed kids like me and my high school friends there and served us non-alcoholic drinks in tall green glasses!

          1. caucus99percenter

            Ha ha, what memories! As a four-year old I had a bunch of 78 rpm records with children’s stories about a farm boy, “Little Orley,” narrated by “Uncle Lumpy” (Hugh Brannum). With music provided by… Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians.

    2. Pat

      The first item in that video references the Sears Christmas Book. What a memory.

      I sometimes think today’s kids are really missing out not having that rather than online shopping. Kids would pour over every page of that catalog when it arrived. Sure it all became about one or if you were lucky two items after it was gone over thoroughly, and some things for adults could be dismissed immediately, but kids were exposed to everything available. You didn’t have to randomly click to find a treasure you had no idea existed. Every turn of the page was a new adventure.

      1. Wukchumni

        We’d get the Sears xmas catalog in the summer and it’d be dogeared by December from the family poring over possibilities.

        Almost all of the sporting goods were endorsed by Ted Williams-their spokesman, and the sheer variety of items for sale was quite something for the time.

        To be fair, we were pretty much exclusively a K-Mart* family as far as where we shopped, but there was no K-Mart xmas catalog-advantage Sears.

        * Sears had the best popcorn imaginable in little tall square boxes, while K-Mart’s was ok but not as good, but they gave you 2x or 3x as much for the same price.

        1. Randal Flagg

          This also brings back memories of your local neighborhood bank having Christmas Club savings accounts, stores such as Sears, K-mart, on and on, with their layaway accounts. The kinds of things that (sort of) kept folks out of serious debt trouble as opposed to the ease of credits cards today. But I may have very foggy memories

          1. Robert Gray

            > This also brings back memories of [e.g.,] your local neighborhood bank having
            > Christmas Club savings accounts …

            On a similar note, how many here remember when starting around Thanksgiving the front page of the daily newspaper had a little box in the corner with ‘x-number Shopping Days until Christmas’? Not sure exactly when that went away; must have been at the time when every day became a shopping day.

          2. Dictynna

            When he was a young federal government employee–with three closely-spaced young children–my father was ‘encouraged’ to buy savings bonds at work via payroll deduction.

            He made it work in his favor, though…money from his pay was applied to savings bonds all year. Then, when Christmas approached, he’d cash them all in to buy gifts for us kids. A useful way to keep everyone happy!

        2. Lexx

          For my husband’s family it was the Monkey Wards catalog. Sears was #2.

          He and his siblings bought their school clothes out of that catalog; he was wearing one of those shirts when I met him in community college.

          1. cyclist

            My doting aunt favored the Spiegel Christmas Catalog. The chemistry sets and microscope she gifted me were among the influences that led me to pursue a science career. Can’t imagine current kids being allowed to do some of the science ‘experiments’ we improvised once we got bored with what was in the manual!

            1. Screwball

              Among other things…

              Circa 1971 we made crossbows in shop class. Made the stock from wood, added a kit that came with the bow & arrows. This thing would shoot an arrow several hundred yards. Could no doubt kill someone.

              Nobody got hurt, but someone did shoot an arrow into the schools announcement speaker on the wall.

              Guessing that don’t happen today – for good reason.

              1. ambrit

                Now ‘they’ build cheap drones from parts and use them to deliver “payloads.”
                Monkeywrenchers will always find a way.

                1. cyclist

                  The cheap drones are probably a whole lot safer than some of the uses we had for Estes model rocket engines!

              2. FredW

                As a teenager, I made several “rockets” from pieces of electrical conduit filled with a melted mixture of sugar and salt petre (bought at my local drugstore), with a Jetex fuse embedded in the bottom. I placed “rockets” in quotes because they behaved more like bombs, although they did fly up in the air. Several neighbors came outside wondering if a gas main had blown up!

          2. Lunker Walleye

            Monkey Wards catalog, same here. Ahh, the Southern Mansion dollhouse complete with a veranda and upper porch was under the Christmas tree along with my brother’s plastic bowling set. He used the bowling ball to bomb my porch when I wasn’t around.

          3. Bsn

            Monkey Wards! Yea, reminds me how we used to say Bad Breath and Beyond, F’ (family blog) book, Scamazon, Microlimp, Squat n’ Dump or any other two verbs for Grab and Run or Shop and Save (local dept. stores). OK, I’ll stop. Merry Christmas and Hanukkah!

        3. Carolinian

          I get verklempt just thinking about the Sears Catalog. How the mighty have fallen.

          Merry Christmas to all at NC.

      2. FlyoverBoy

        My family and I have the same nostalgic memories of the Sears Christmas Wish Book. My mom in our large family would simplify Christmas toy shopping by simply handing us the book and telling us we could pick whatever we wanted up to a price limit. We parsed out those dollars with scientific precision.

        However, it also must be said that Sears’ suppliers probably don’t recall that Goliath quite as fondly as we do. As America’s #1 retail chain, they had somewhat the same kind of iron grip on suppliers that Amazon does now. Reputedly they squeezed those suppliers just as ruthlessly, and they gouged consumers with store-card financing over 20% that made them more profit than the margins on the merchandise itself. Meet the old boss, same as the new boss.

    3. Jeremy Grimm

      Some of the homeless might welcome some coal in their Christmas stocking. They could burn it in a steel drum to keep warm and keep more of their cardboard and newspaper for bedding and insulation.

      1. Lunker Walleye

        Mother used to talk about riding in her father’s sleigh fueled by the two horses, Dick and Dock. Grandfather (I never knew him) wrapped hot bricks in rags for the family to rest their feet on for a warmer outing.

    4. Yves Smith

      At 3:52, they have a tinsel tree!

      We got one when we lived in Newton, MA (1963) because we could not get a cut tree and kept it as a secondary tree thereafter (green tree in living room, tinsel tree in den).

      1. Lexx

        My mother’s parents had one of those. I preferred the large ‘real’ tree across the city at my other grandmother’s house, and failed to appreciate (as kids do) just how cool that tinsel tree was. When mamaw and papaw passed on it went to my aunt and who knows who has it now.

        Later in life I learned I’d missed entirely the ultimate cool in Christmas trees… the feather tree. They’re still around; once in a great while I’ll see them come up for sale in estate sales. I think they’re a little odd looking but to each his/her own Christmas.

  2. Mikel

    “Preparing for the Final Collapse of the Soviet Union,” Hudson Institute

    I thought it was Christmas, not April Fool’s Day.

    Soviet Union?!?!
    I guess that old hatred is easier for a think tank to swallow…more so than the thinly veiled ethnic hatreds.

      1. Michaelmas

        Lovell: Michael Hudson has nothing to do with it

        Not true, actually.

        The Hudson Institute was founded by Herman Kahn, and Michael Hudson has written here on NC about his employment and working relationship with Kahn — the two were friends, despite their differing politics — when he, Hudson, worked for the Hudson Institute during the 1970s.

        As the wiki on Kahn notes, the Hudson Institute also employed the likes of novelist Ralph Ellison and sociologist Daniel Bell, so working there at that time entailed no absolutely insufferable compromise or black mark of shame for M. Hudson.

        These days the place is marked more corrupt and pandering to the monied MIC. This ‘Preparing for the Fall of the Soviet Union’ being proof, if proof be needed, that our ostensible masters in DC really haven’t got their minds around the fact that it’s not the 1990s anymore — a really extraordinary ancien regime-level of obtuseness.

          1. Michael Hudson

            The key is that today’s Hudson Institute is a different institution from what it was in Herman Kahn’s (and my) day. It went broke, as corporations stopped paying for the world economic studies. (Many hired me as “Dr. Doom,” as opposed to Herman’s optimism.)
            the Institute’s director had borrowed to buy real estate in Croton Hudson, and with less money coming in, it went broke.
            So it was sold to a group headed by Lily Tulip in Indianapolis, with its main head office move to Washington under General “I’m in charge here” Haig. Very few of us New Yorkers had any interest in moving to either place.
            My job was to focus on the balance of payments, and also the international oil trade and hence trade theory (protectionism vs free trade).
            The important thing was that Herman WANTED me to disagree with him on everything, so that clients could see that there were “two perspectives.” Most clients ended up accepting my view.
            I left to be a consultant to UNITAR, writing three major articles on North/South debt, under the group headed by Irwin Laszlo, culminating in a meeting in Mexico City where I had a showdown with the pro-US (CIA?) contingent. The Club of Rome financial crowd threatened to withdraw all funding for UNITAR if they kept me on.

            1. Michaelmas

              Michael Hudson: …as opposed to Herman’s optimism.

              Heh. I can’t help recalling Kahn’s famous “the living will envy the dead” line when I hear talk of ‘Herman’s optimism.’

              Yeah, I know that was in a different context — nuclear strategy — and Kahn was an optimist when it came to Tofflerian technofuturist scenarios.

              Still, droll.

    1. Culp Creek Curmudgeon

      From the conclusion: “The success of Ukraine on the battlefield against Russia could offer a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to put Russia back inside its geopolitical box for a generation.”

      No proxy war here! Move along, folks!

      1. Michaelmas

        “The success of Ukraine on the battlefield against Russia could offer a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to put Russia back inside its geopolitical box for a generation.”

        Dreamers gotta dream!

      2. ArvidMartensen

        Look at Ukraine as a pawn in a US game with two aims
        1. To bleed Russia dry until it collapses and the US can take over Russian mineral, oil and gas reserves, especially in the Arctic Ocean
        2. To transfer massive amounts of US taxpayer $$s to the owners of US weapons factories with no questions asked.
        For the US to win the game, Ukraine never wins and never loses. Ukraine is just a piece of land where the game of Destroy Russia is being waged, and is irrelevant.
        As a consequence you would expect to see the following:
        1. The US will make sure that Ukraine never has enough HIMARS, enough ammo or enough troops to win, only enough to stalemate and bleed the Russians and no more.
        2. All Russian churches, culture, language and support will be exterminated in Ukraine, bit by bit, in such a way that people in western countries are kept thinking this is a righteous war against Russian monsters and Russians deserve all acts of brutality inflicted on them.
        3. The US will make sure that Ukrainians are kept suffering lack of food, water, safety, electricity etc as a PR tool to manage western voters.
        If Russia were to collapse, there will be no US gratitude and the money to Ukraine will cease. There will be no US humanitarian aid to rebuild Ukraine. There will be multinational companies that take over all farmland and use the remaining able bodied as serfs where needed to grow crops.

        1. Skip Intro

          Don’t forget switching the EU over to dependence on US fracked LNG, and the resulting deindustrialization of a major competitor.

    2. Cat Burglar

      Looks like the Hudson Institute sees big growth in proxy insurgencies to fund and arm after the Russian Federation is transformed into the world’s largest hell hole. Imagine all the policy and spook envoy jobs that will open up — it is like a big Christmas present!

  3. Not Again

    Extreme Cold Weather Stretches U.S. Homeless Shelters’ Capacity

    There’s this guy in Ukraine we just gave $100 billion to. If he gives a quarter of it back, we can solve homelessness forever.

    According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, it would cost $20 billion to end homelessness in the United States. That is a big number, yes, but let’s put it into perspective:

    1. polar donkey

      When I tell my fellow Memphians, who are under boil water notices and rolling black outs they owe $300 per person in their household to Ukraine, they don’t really appreciate Ukraine’s struggle against Russia. Selfish Americans wanting clean water and stable electricity.

  4. roxan

    That photo of Zelenski–are they engaging in ‘laying on of hands’ as the evangelicals call this? If so, is this war a crusade? Or are they merely expressing sympathy?

    1. ambrit

      I had the same question. This could well go on into “Religious Crusade” territory. The Russians are Russian Orthodox by and large. The Ukraine has had multiple religious schisms and controversies during the recent past.
      Ukrainian Evangelicals:
      It gets a bit complicated from there on in, considering that Zelinsky is that nation’s first Jewish President.

        1. ambrit

          Back at ya from the Hill Tribe Mr. Zelnicker!
          I fear that Zelinsky is perfect for the “part” of national scapegoat. He is an “outsider” par excellance. I mean, how many Jews would have survived within the Ukraine from the Holodomor and later German Nazi “events?” Thus, he would be perfect as a whipping boy when all goes t—s up in the Ukraine.
          Now, as to how the Azovs ‘square the circle’ concerning Zelinsky’s “ethnicity” is above my pay grade. Maybe the ‘Inner Circle’ of the Azovs are using the perspective of the Eichmans of the world. It’s all one big mess there, and, if history is any guide, always has been.
          Stay safe and warm Mr. Zelnicker!

    2. lambert strether

      > ‘laying on of hands

      When I have seen this ritual, the hands were always laid on the head, not the shoulders.

      However, a search yields many example where the hands are laid on the shoulders. Some evangelical innovation?

      1. IM Doc

        I grew up in that sect of Protestantism. The shoulders were often used. And then another layer putting their hands on the first ring’s shoulders and another layer and another and so on.

        He must be exuding some kind of vibe to have our leaders do that. Another aspect of that sect of Protestantism is an expression they use when confronted with a false teacher – “We are deceived.”

        However, in all my years in church, I never saw a faith healer or preacher engaged in this kind of show:

        You literally cannot un-see it once seen. It is really quite amazing to me that that individual was allowed a Joint Session of Congress. We just handed over another 40 billion to that.

        It makes my soul shudder. Where has people’s common sense gone? Have we lost even the ability to discern a con man that would make PT Barnum blush?

        What would LBJ, Truman, FDR, or any one of a hundred names be thinking about now?

        I feel for my kids.

        1. juno mas

          Wow! That video tops the “piano playing” comedy. Of course, this sexualization of everything and everyone (kids included) is standard faire on music videos and TeeVee Specials. I feel for your kids, too.

          1. ambrit

            We’re now very glad that we severely restricted our children’s access to television and other electronica. (Made from a philosophical, not religious grounding.) At least they grew up with their own varieties of kink and complex, not just cookie cutter compromised consciences.

          1. Mildred Montana

            Churchillian? Zalensky is the MSM much-degraded modern-day idea of a Churchill. I think it’s time for some real Churchill from May 1940:

            “We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering. You ask, what is our policy? I will say: It is to wage war, by sea, land, and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us; to wage war against a monstrous tyranny never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy. You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: It is victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be.”

            And he said it all without high-heels or spandex pants! Imagine!

        2. elissa3

          I cannot believe that that video is real. Is it?

          The people who think that they run this world are insane. I would almost say of another species.

          Merry Christmas to all!

        3. ChrisPacific

          It’s pretty odd for a president, but not really all that out of the ordinary for a comedian, which is what he was before entering politics. We don’t know when the video was made.

          1. IM Doc

            That has been the reasoning I have seen online the past few days.

            My response is that Reagan was an actor , an entertainer as well. There have been many other politicians as well that were.

            Can you point to me their videos in stilettos and leather?

            There is a question of gravitas. This guy is a clown and a grifter. And he seems to be very much in the authoritarian strain. We have lost the thread somehow. Not sure we will ever get it back.

            1. Acacia

              Indeed, stilettos and leather are quite a bit further down even than Reagan’s last role in The Killers (1964), playing a sort of pimp who slaps women around, whilst hanging around a race track looking for a good driver to pull off a bank heist he’s planning.

              But then maybe Zelensky is about the right speed for the current administration, with a hair-sniffer in-chief, and sketchy characters like Paul Pelosi and Hunter Biden in the mix?

            2. ChrisPacific

              Yes, it would certainly be a career killer in the US, where a drag queen (for example) could never hope to be elected president. Personally if he wasn’t doing it in the context of his political career, I wouldn’t consider it particularly relevant one way or the other. I’m also wary of the practice of declaring people unfit for office if they have, for example, made a racy video in stilettos and leather at some point in their history. That kind of gatekeeping is all too common in modern politics, and it’s a big part of the reason for the current crop of (mostly) white males of late middle age who went to the right schools, worked for the right companies, have the right accent, buy their suits from the right tailor, and know which fork to use for the appetizer. Is America better off for it than if, for example, it was run by the top grossing contributors to OnlyFans? I’m not so sure – but perhaps I’m too cynical.

              (I largely agree with your assessment of him as a politician, but due to his performance in the role, not because of the video).

  5. Wukchumni

    The total groundwater loss in the Tulare basin was 15.1 ± 0.4 km3, which was nearly 40% of the total loss in Central Valley, yet the area of the Tulare basin only occupies about one quarter of the study region.

    The impact of the present megadrought on groundwater storage is shown very clearly in Fig. 5. When SWP and CVP allocations and deliveries increase, groundwater storage recovers, and vice versa. In 12 of the 18 years studied here, one or both of the SWP and CVP surface water allocations fell below the 50% level, contributing to 1.4 Lake Mead’s worth of groundwater depletion. Since groundwater supplies are limited, and continued depletion is resulting in several negative consequences (falling water tables, drying wells, increasing pumping and well-drilling costs, decreasing groundwater access, land subsidence, declining groundwater quality, streamflow depletion2) continued overdrafting of groundwater supplies during drought is surely unsustainable in the long term, in particular in the face of their increasing frequency and severity.

    Groundwater depletion in California’s Central Valley accelerates during megadrought Nature
    It’s a weird sight in Godzone, every orchard looks like a million bucks, all of the 666 million nut & fruit trees green and vibrant with no sign of stress, as opposed to everything else that earns a living in the underground movement sans watering from the hand of man-which are under great stress, that is if they aren’t dead already.

    The boogieman in the bargain is the idea that you have no choice but to continue watering orchards, it isn’t as if you can stop because 3 weeks later everything would be dead, as opposed to growing annual crops which can be grown or not, depending on water availability.

    In my neck of the woods, there is practically nothing else grown aside from orchards-exacerbating the problem, and as luck would have it, the Tulare basin is going broke quickest underfoot of all locales in the Central Valley.

    1. earthling

      From the study: “in addition, in the Central Valley, many farmers oppose expanding well monitoring under SGMA”,

      This to explain why they are using remote sensing to try to model what’s going on with the groundwater, because they don’t have enough observation wells in their network to simply MEASURE IT. Here’s an idea; build more real observation wells in the real world. And if farmers do not want to ‘allow’ well monitoring on their land, revoke permits to pump either groundwater or surface water.

      The high-handed me-first entitlement of these farmers, large and small, needs to come to a screeching halt. Before any more clueless homeowners invest another dollar in xeriscaping and flow-saving practices, while 80% of the water is sucked up for whatever cash crop some big farmer or corporation feels like growing.

      Nobody asks fishermen if it’s okay if there are catch limits, or orders to stop catching whatever species. Nobody asked farmers in the 70s if it was okay if economic conditions rendered their farms unprofitable and they had to go out of business. Nobody stopped mechanization of cotton in the 50s so millions of sharecroppers had to migrate away. Nobody steps in to keep working people from being laid off. I don’t give a flip if the nut trees have to be taken down. Learn to code, make souvenirs out of the wood. Be the independent brave Murcan farmer that you are, deal with it.

      1. Wukchumni

        The most plentiful tree in the Central Valley is almond trees and they only typically are good for 25 years of production and the SGMA doesn’t really have teeth until 2040, just when all the trees die off.

  6. The Rev Kev

    “Preparing for the Final Collapse of the Soviet Union”

    I think that the author has been using the same white powder as Big Z himself. This was the endgame plan at the beginning of this year and this guy still thinks that it will go ahead. The guy says ‘The goal of this policy memo is not to advocate for regime change in Russia’ but then admits that well yeah, regime change is what it is all about. The 2nd Forum of the Free Nations of Russia was held in Czechia a coupla months ago and you can see a map of what they want the Russian Federation to look like. The author did mention those 6,000 nukes but did not say that in fact American troops would have to be sent in on the ground to secure them. I would imagine that those Statelets that had oil or titanium would be controlled by western nations while the remainder would be encourage to fight each other like a bunch of Kilkenny cats in order to weaken them-

    1. hk

      “Liberation Movement of Free Peoples of Russia” Redux? History repeats with a distinct South German accent, it seems.

    2. Boomheist

      So, this article, which apparently is not a satire, but truly believed by the author, should be placed next to the picture of the laying on hands on Zelinsky in Congress, and then something comes clear – we ARE embarked on a crusade, in fact little different than the Crusades of a millenia ago – a religious fervor to impose our way of life, our values, our systems on the rest of the world, a stew of neocon and Christian Nationalist and anti-Russian racism driving to a world control end state, same as it has been, I fear, since certainly the 1990s and maybe well before that, maybe stretching all the way back to Manifest Destiny if not to the vast expansion of colonial genocide that began in the late 1400s with Columbus. Same exact thing. Same,

    3. ChrisPacific

      Yeah. Westerners laugh off the Russian claims that NATO is out to destroy them, and yet articles like this run in plain view all the time. The article outright describes what happened in the 1990s as “an attempt to transform Russia into a Western style democracy.” Russians who lived through that time might describe it a little differently. Then there’s the casual admission that yes, there will probably be civil war, but as long as it’s all contained within Russian borders and doesn’t cross to other countries then it’s all cool. And of course, the expectation that Russia will break up, it will be bloody (“…further fragmentation of Russia will be more like Chechnya in 1994 (brutal conflict)…”) and may result in a Libya style failed state governed by competing warlords (“There may be a proliferation in the number of “private armies” […]These groups and their leaders will become important powerbrokers in a post-Putin Russia”).

      Seeing this kind of thing presented as a blueprint for your country would be frankly terrifying.

  7. The Rev Kev

    ‘AZ 🛰🌏🌍🌎
    🇳🇱 ❌🗳️Netherlands wants to ban parties that undermine the “democratic order”
    If the law is passed, the Supreme Court of the Netherlands will be able to impose a ban on the activities of political forces as a last resort ” if they pose a threat to the democratic rule of law”.’

    Well this is really bad this. I am sure that Ursula von der Leyen and the EU will approve these measures as you can totally trust Mark Rutte to be democratically minded and not to abuse this power. In practice, this will be a tool to crush independent, progressive parties striving for representation. One guy in comments said ‘This is the real Ukrainization of Europe!!! Ukrainians are contagious!’ and to be truthful, he might have a point.

    1. chris

      That’s chilling to hear. Either you’ll cheer for the people in power or you’ll be silenced. Bad humbug from the EU!

    2. Cetra Ess

      I wonder if the Supreme Court would consider parties which stand for direct participatory democracy or demoractic alternatives to representative/electoral politics as a “threat to democratic rule of law”. Would Switzerland’s system of direct democracy be considered a “threat to democratic rule of law”? And doesn’t wanting to ban political parties go against their own constitution which says people should not be discriminated against on the basis of politics and freedom of association and speech? Something definitely smells rotten about this. Now I’m curious which party is pushing for this law and what its political orientation might be.

      Also, it seems very ignorant of history. For example, the first thing the democratically elected Nazis did was pass laws depriving Jewish Germans of their citizenship. Or it may not be ignorant at all, it might be someone trying to pull the same trick.

      1. Bruno

        What “democratically elected Nazis?” Once they had the Reichstag arsonated and the Enabling Act adopted (ie., immediately), there was never anything resembling even slightly a democratic election in the Reich.

        1. Mildred Montana

          Although not a majority the Nazis achieved a plurality of votes in the November 1932 elections to the Bundestag. That was to be the last free election in (West) Germany until 1949.

          After the election, former Chancellor Von Papen (representing the establishment) worked out a coalition agreement with the Nazis and Hitler became Chancellor in early 1933. Von Papen thought he could control Hitler, that he could ride the tiger.

          He was quickly and disastrously proven wrong as the Reichstag fire and the Enabling Decree were soon to show. Hitler became dictator and Von Papen was consigned to the dustbin of history.

        2. Cetra Ess

          Yes, I misspoke there, thanks for calling this out – they weren’t directly elected but they did achieve power via legitimate and legal democratic means using a democratic system which used elections. Germany was an party democracy and the NSDAP had a considerable percentage of the German vote but not enough to win the election. So, instead, the way they got in was to form a majority with the Conservatives, so as to form a government, a legitimate move in many so-called democracies, and then convincing Hindenberg to appoint Hitler chancellor. Then they passed laws, of course. Which just goes to show laws AND democracy can be used for evil, there is nothing intrinsically good about democracy nor “democratic systems of law”, as the world found out.

          1. fjallstrom

            This is an incorrect picture of the Nazi rise to power.

            The cabinets from 1930 and onwards rarely held majority because the Hindenburg presidency instead relied on the president’s emergency powers – in itself a step away from democratic norms. This included the 1933 Hitler cabinet.

            It also ignores the role of political violence and murdering political opponents. SA wasn’t there to look nice, they were there to hit the opponents. Not very democratic.

            Also it ignores the role of the conservative establishment. It was the conservative establishment that couped the social democratic Prussian state (by far the largest state in Germany), thus removing the Prussian state police as an obstacle to Nazi terror in opposition, and later in government. Not very democratic.

            Finally, the Nazis as a minority government became a majority not through coalition building, but through banning their opponents in parliament. And to pass laws to ban their opponents they have armed guards making sure everyone votes right. Not very democratic.

    1. Lex

      Yes, but the question must be asked what calendar he was born under! Similarly, the appropriate Easter question is where in the universe Jesus currently is, assuming a straight trajectory from the holy land and his ability to travel at the speed of light … in consideration of the Christian view that he ascended bodily. If he’s no longer traveling then we can establish coordinates of Heaven so Elon musk can get us there.

      1. Wukchumni

        I must know 3 or 4 Jesus’s-all Mexican American, but i’ve never even heard of a WASPy Jesus in these not so united states, not that there’s anything blasphemous about it, or is there?

        1. JohnA

          Jesus is a popular name in Spain. In my experience of Spanish beaches, the little Jesuses tend to be the naughtiest kids forever being told off. Pronounced roughly ‘Haysu’

          1. cyclist

            Per Jefferson Morley, his mother was of Mexican heritage, and he was rather ashamed of his middle name.

    2. Bruno

      Except that, whoever “he” was, “he” was never called “Jesus” because “he” was a believing Jew, not a pagan Greek. The name “he” was known by was *Y’shua* (or Yehoshua), which can only be translated as “Joshua.” The Roman authorities were not amused by the appearance in Palestine of a royal pretender (“Messiah”) claiming to be a divinely reborn war leader bringing “not peace but a sword” and in command of the supreme form of air power–an ally who at his request would stop the Sun and Moon in their tracks and destroy the opposing army with a downpour of *barad* stones!

  8. Mildred Montana

    Re: George Santos (newly-elected Representative for New York’s 3rd Congressional District and a Republican)

    What a piece of work he is. It seems he hasn’t fabricated just a few things on his resume but nearly everything about himself and his history. He is a self-made man (as he claims) only in the sense that he appears to have made up most of the details of his life. Here are just a few of the links casting doubt on his many stories:

    So let’s see. The mythical George Santos doesn’t have Jewish heritage. The self-made “rich” George Santos went cap in hand to his Catholic(!) church for money to pay the expenses of his mother’s funeral in 2016 and, according to the NYT link, has left behind him a trail of lawsuits, bad debts, and stiffed landlords.

    If one reads the links there’s more—much more. The man is a grifter through-and-through and I am sure he looks on his Congressional salary, expense account, and pension as only a beautiful, legal grift. If he is not turfed out of Congress—and soon—it’s confirmation that American democracy is, to put a twist on the Washington Post’s slogan, “dying in deceit”.

    I’d like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Everyone, that is, except George Santos, who I hope is unemployed come 2023.

    1. Pat

      Considering he was the Republican candidate in 2020 as well, one has to wonder not only where the Democrats were on this, but where the press and Republicans were.

      Some part of me has to wonder if everyone was that deeply incompetent that no one did a basic background check OR if it was some conspiracy. Or a combination of both.

      1. Mildred Montana

        >”Considering he was the Republican candidate in 2020 as well, one has to wonder not only where the Democrats were on this, but where the press and Republicans were.”

        I don’t blame the press or the Democrats so much as I do the Republicans. The first two I believe can honestly say, “We thought the Republicans vetted their candidates.” But the Republicans seem to have no similar excuse.

        Maybe they do vet their candidates. If so, the moral integrity of a candidate seems to be far down on the GOP list. Much more appealing to them (and voters) are the Jewish(?), Hispanic (okay I’ll give him that), and gay(?)* qualifications of someone like Santos. Those credentials tick a lot of boxes in New York State and at RNC headquarters.

        *Is George Santos really gay? He was married to a woman until 2019 when he divorced her and married his current “husband”. His sexual orientation du jour could be another one of his scams, for its economic, social, political, and tax advantages. Never—ever—trust a pathological liar.

  9. semper loquitur

    Seasons Greetings from NationalGrid:

    “Due to extreme temperatures resulting in increased energy demand and unexpected interstate pipeline disruptions, we are asking for your assistance this evening to help us prevent a potential natural gas outage in your area. We realize this is an inconvenient time while you may be at home with friends and family celebrating the holidays.
    We’re asking all natural gas customers in Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and Long Island to reduce natural gas usage through tomorrow afternoon.”

    I cannot find out what the disruptions are.

    Update: Scant info but apparently the cold weather messed up some pipes.

    1. chris

      I imagine there’s a lot of supply disruptions over the last few days. Not least of which are individual issues with propane supply. Can be hard for propane to flow with enough pressure to supply multiple appliances in this weather. I expect there’s a few places that reached something close to -44 F in the US. In which case, propane can’t boil and create vapor which fuels appliances. And if any locations in the supply line to a house or appliance experienced freezing, well, really hard to get sufficient gas pressure in those cases. Of course, if you don’t have thermal blankets or other safe ways of heating frozen lines and regulators, you can always try an open flame and risk a fantastic explosion. I’m afraid we’ll hear of a few citizens who make that decision during this cold spell.

      1. foghorn longhorn

        Made it down to 9f here in NE Texas, did not experience any propane freezing, but did hear about diesel gelling in fuel tanks.
        Cold weather sucks, give me 110 anytime over this stuff.

    2. square coats

      The phrasing “we are asking for your assistance… to help us prevent… in your area” strikes me as weird/dubious but my brain doesn’t seem to want to actually try to unpack it atm..

  10. RookieEMT

    I had to go back to check this, when Nancy Pelosi quoted Mathews in supporting the Ukraine aid bill in May 2022.

    She quoted ‘The Final Judgement’. It’s the last major lesson of Jesus in his last sermon before one his followers began to betray him. He’s arrested in the next page. You honor god and god judges those positively who feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, comfort the sick, visit (and possibly liberate) the imprisoned. It’s one of the most beautiful passages in the bible in my eyes.

    Nancy Pelosi used The Final Judgement to support sending weapons to extend war, give money to corrupt corporations, and further send young men into a meat grinder.

    She just slapped Jesus across the face. That’s a big oof. Merry Christmas Nancy Pelosi and may god have mercy on your soul.

    1. ambrit

      I suspect that Nancy will be given an office in the Infernal Affairs Department in the Down Below. (Alas, she will discover that she cannot turn the thermostat down.)
      See C. S. Lewis description of ‘The Underworld’ as a big corporation or bureaucracy in “The Screwtape Letters.”
      Ye Screwtape Letters:

      1. Pat

        I bet the lack of expensive ice cream will be more devastating.
        And just a possible caveat, in my experience most elderly skinny women love heat at far greater temperatures than most. So keeping her office colder might be harder on her. Just saying they might want to consider both temperature options when setting up Nancy’s office.

  11. chris

    Happy Christmas and Merry New Year to everyone on NC. Here’s hoping we find a saner and kinder world next year.

      1. Joe Renter

        It’s not on God to make right the wrongs we do to one another.
        But it might take divine intervention to save the planet and poor souls in their mortal coils.

  12. Jeremy Grimm

    “Lee Harvey Oswald, the CIA, and LSD: …”
    How come all we hear about from the recent “disclosures” is Lee Harvey Oswald? After watching Oliver Stones’ “JFK” I would have hoped there might be a lot of classified information to help clear up a lot of other mysteries. Lee Harvey Oswald and LSD? How is that interesting? Was he too loaded to make the shots?

    1. Mildred Montana

      >”How come all we hear about from the recent “disclosures” is Lee Harvey Oswald?”

      Because they have nothing else. I believe Oswald was being truthful when he said he was just a “patsy” (although he was almost certainly involved in the assassination of JFK). But he was a patsy of the mob (see: Jack Ruby), not of any of the governmental agencies that have been implicated.

      The CIA, the FBI, or whatever acronym you choose can’t keep a secret for long and certainly not for sixty years. Too much documentation and too many people involved. See the CIA-directed Bay of Pigs invasion and the murder of Salvador Allende for instance. The truth of those actions was quickly revealed.

      Sooner or later government lips start flapping or records are uncovered. In the case of JFK no flapping lips, no documents. That’s why there are no new disclosures—because there are none.

      If the government can’t maintain a conspiracy of silence, who can? I suggest the mob, with its code of omerta and its ruthlessness in dispatching anyone who might spill the beans. Including, by the way, Oswald.

    2. ambrit

      One of the purposes of the LSD experiments was to “brainwash” the subject to gain control of the subjects thinking and later actions. Just an American version of “The Manchurian Candidate.”

  13. Screwball

    CNN now reporting more buses of migrants were dropped off in front of the Kamala Harris residence last night. This seems to be a never ending thing, although the drop off points seem to change. CNN reports the people were from Ecuador, Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Peru and Colombia.

    Best I can tell, there seems to a problem.

    1. chris

      Yeah, more theater. Of course, night time temps in Del Rio are also freezing. And they don’t have space to handle all these illegal immigrants. This is such a cruel stupid thing from everyone involved. Both the people shipping the migrants north and the people letting these desperate people inside our borders illegally.

      1. marym

        Based on more information that was reported during the DeSantis Martha’s Vineyard stunt, the people being shipped to other cities have requested asylum and are in the US legally until their case is adjudicated.

        The Trump-initiated Title 42 expulsions still continue for a large portion of CBP encounters at the southern border, though Biden has made exceptions for unaccompanied minors and is trying to end the program entirely.

        1. chris

          As far as I know, the Title 42 rule means you are expelled and/or prevented from requesting asylum before anything official can happen. Biden is floundering on this, like his administration is on everything. He kept the Trump program for a while, and as recently as the 12/19 the courts prevented it from going away.

          Regardless, most of these immigrants can’t back up any of their claims for asylum. They’re economic migrants. No matter how they get in we have no way to accommodate them now. The kindest thing would be to stop them from coming north. We could work on not making their home countries places they want to leave too.

    2. Mildred Montana

      Seeing as Kamala traded on her race and gender to get where she is, she is obviously “woke”. I am sure she will welcome “diversity” on her doorstep. /sarc

      1. The Rev Kev

        Didn’t old Joe put her in charge of the border last year? But I don’t think that she has ever gone there to inspect it.

    3. Eclair

      Now, let me think, why do these countries (Ecuador, Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Peru, Colombia) sound familiar? Oh yeah, the US government/ CIA, etc, have been messing about with them for decades. Sanctions, embargoes, coups, etc. Bet too, that lots of the migrants are indigenous peoples; from areas that US and multinational corporations want to mine, drill and otherwise exploit.
      We swan around in our Tesla EV’s (well, not NC commenters personally), smugly signalling that we ‘care’ about saving he planet, while lithium, and copper, lead and zinc, mining is ruining their environment. And, then they are shuffled around like pawns on a chessboard. And, like pawns, considered to be expendable.
      (Eclair walks away, gumbling ‘bah, humbug!)

  14. Jason Boxman

    Not sure where counter punch gets this idea from?

    Furthermore, while the Biden administration has been very supportive of unions, there is little reason to believe that the return of manufacturing jobs will mean a substantial increase in unionized manufacturing jobs. From the recession trough in 2010 to 2021, the manufacturing sector added back over 800,000 jobs. However, the number of union members in manufacturing actually dropped by 400,000 over this period.

    Yeah. Biden is very supportive. Heh.

  15. ilpalazzo

    Since Yves pleaded for videos a couple of days ago I’ve been indulging in youtube rabbit hole diving last few nights with dutch cigarettes setting the mood. If you search for DDR NVA there is a lot of rare archive material for cold war nostalgics. This is the best I found, an almost hour long propaganda material about 1980 joint Warsaw Pact military exercises. Enjoy.

    1. vao

      By the way, the video linked is not about the joint Warsaw Pact exercises from 1980, but from 1970. I had serious doubts after seeing the kind of airplanes flying that looked very much like MIG-21, doubts confirmed at minute 49:30 when the narrator mentions that they took place on the 100th anniversary of the birth of Lenin, and the 150th anniversary of the birth of Engels.

        1. vao

          Actually, reviding the start of the video, it is clear that it takes place in 1970. Oh, and at 4:34 there is the then Polish minister of defense, general Jaruzelski (remember him?) and at 5:40 Raul Castro…

  16. curlydan

    It’s hard to tell what’s going on in China with Covid thanks to China’s policy of cutting of stats and Western media’s ignorance of the country. So I went to China Daily to see what they’re saying…

    Here’s an editorial that shows they really succumbed to Western thinking.

    “The current wave of infections will peak and people have no reason not to remain confident in the country’s fight with the virus, which continues to put saving people’s lives and protecting people’s health first.

    Following the basic protocol of good hygiene habits, isolating at home, if one does become infected, and doing one’s job well are all important contributions that individuals can make to ensure the country passes this test as quickly as possible.”

    Zero Covid was the best policy to protect lives and health. And the fact that in the statement above that personal hygiene comes first is a little scary. If there was ever a country that could mass produce cheap HEPA filters, it’s China.

    1. Verifyfirst

      I don’t think zero Covid as they were doing it was sustainable long term. What they could have done though was a massive ventilation program during the past three years, and continued masking. They would have had an increase in cases, but not all at once.

      The leadership apparently freaked out when people started to rebel at this version of zero Covid. My question is–how are people going to react now, if utter chaos and major death/disability results from the sudden u-turn? Seems like that could lead to even greater upset and rebellion?

      1. curlydan

        They are definitely in a pickle. Once the grandmas start dying off in huge numbers, the situation and
        feelings could get ugly real fast. To me, the lack of planning in making this huge transition is what’s truly puzzling and uncharacteristic.

      2. Realist

        Despite all the sad projection about an inhuman debacle from western sources, it’s not that bad over there as far as i can tell.

        N95 type masks are common, and the variant that people who i know have caught were feeling normal in a day or two.

  17. semper loquitur

    Understanding Wokeness as a Make-Work Strategy for the Privileged Class

    Quillette podcast host Jonathan Kay speaks with Swedish Marxist Malcom Kyeyune, who argues that nominally progressive theories of race and gender are actually aimed at securing influence, employment, and prestige for underemployed university graduates.

  18. semper loquitur

    A Christmas parable from Robert Reich:

    Trump, Bankman-Fried and Musk are the monsters of American capitalism

    For them, and for everyone who still regards them as heroes, there is no morality in business or economics. The winnings go to the most ruthless

    “But like the IRS and Trump, the SEC can’t possibly remedy the social costs that Bankman-Fried has unleashed – not just losses to customers and investors but a deepening distrust and cynicism about the system as a whole, the implicit assumption that this is just what billionaires do, that the way to make a fortune is to blatantly disregard norms and laws, and that only chumps are mindful of the common good.”

    1. cnchal

      He forgot Bezos in his monster lineup.

      Amazon shopper = whip cracking sadist

      His diatribe towards Musk is an excellent example of situational side switching. Before burning billions to get Twitter, Musk was an angel disrupting everything, after the buy, disrupting the cozy propaganda arm of the elite and corrupt “intelligence community” and firings of symbol manipulators within, earns Musk the title of monster. Think of the jawbs!!

      When millions of jawbs were lost from the disaster called globalization, Reich approved the destruction of stupid people that make stuff.

      Reich also is clueless when it comes to Psycho Sam. The guy isn’t some visionary entrepreneur, just a crook and so called customers and investors were gamblers that got taken. The only regulation for crypto should be a warning label. “enter at your own risk – crypto attracts criminals and the money you lose will not be recovered”. The real ‘monstrous’ part of this is the kid gloves treatment and the insane fawning over him by rich people.

      Reich eats by writing garbage. If he shuts up he might starve so we are fed a constant stream of his venal idiocy.

  19. JBird4049

    >>>Judge: Does the city concede that there is no avenue for a homeless individual to voluntarily access a shelter bed at this juncture?

    Assuming that the general population of San Francisco is 885,000 and of its homeless as 15,000 (a likely under count), the percentage of the homeless is 1.7% That is the number of people who can have all there possessions including medicine, prosthetics, and wheelchairs, stolen and thrown into the garbage because they are an annoyance, not human beings in need of help. Disposable.

  20. Jason Boxman

    From “COVID-19 Variant Dashboard – USA” XBB variants now at 20%! Hooray!

    Stay safe out there!

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