Links 12/8/2022

Celery stalk in trash, luck, lead to lost wedding rings ABC

JWST’s best images: spectacular stars and spiralling galaxies Nature


New time-lapse shows how Earth has changed since iconic ‘Blue Marble’ Sky News

How a dangerous stew of air pollution is choking the United States Nature

Forest-eating bug spreading unusually fast, posing global threat Al Mayadeen

Climate protesters hurl paint at Milan’s La Scala opera house Reuters. Have these guys ever hit anything finance-related?


Water rising on Mississippi, barges moving more freely south of Memphis Freight Waves

Ohio must put Lake Erie on ‘pollution diet’ under settlement terms (Carla). From November, still germane.


Disruption in seasonality, patient characteristics and disparities of respiratory syncytial virus infection among young children in the US during and before the COVID-19 pandemic: 2010-2022 (preprint) medRxiv. From the Abstract: “Among RSV-infected children in 2022, 19.2% had prior documented COVID-19 infection, significantly higher than the 9.7% among uninfected children, suggesting that prior COVID-19 could be a risk factor for RSV infection or that there are common risk factors for both viral infections.” “Common risk factors” like… breathing?

Efficacy of Antiviral Agents against Omicron Subvariants BQ.1.1 and XBB (letter) NEJM. “Our data suggest that the omicron sublineages BQ.1.1 and XBB have immune-evasion capabilities that are greater than those of earlier omicron variants, including BA.5 and BA.2. The continued evolution of omicron variants reinforces the need for new therapeutic monoclonal antibodies for Covid-19.” And — hear me out — non-pharamaceutical interventions.

Everyone Is Sick Right Now Wired. No mention of widespread immune dysregulation from SARS-CoV-2 itself; “immunity debt” verbalizing without using the phrase. Of course, the very idea of immune dysregulation implies that transmission is important, so naturally Wired shies away.


China eases strict COVID measures as global cases hold steady CIDRAP. “Authorities today also emphasized the need to vaccinate older people.” Nothing on ventilation.

China’s Massive Protests Are the End of a Once-Trusted Governance Model Foreign Policy. Worth a read, surprisingly. Hard to believe a failure in state capacity for China, but see below.

China makes sudden policy shift on zero-Covid, but ‘no clear picture’ of what’s next South China Morning Post. The deck: “It’s been welcomed by foreign investors and raised hopes the borders will soon reopen, but there is also uncertainty over a potential surge in cases.” Not clear who is possessed of this mysterious “uncertainty,” but I doubt the foreign investors are greatly concerned. Commentary:

“Airborne mitigations.” At least I’m not entirely alone in saying this. A possible parallel between the US and China occurs to me: Just as the Biden and the Democrats squandered the time that Operation Warp Speed bought, and instead decided on the (eugenicist) “Let ‘er rip” policy, so Xi and the CCP squandered the time Zero Covid bought, by not introducing measures to curb airborne spread. Let’s just hope tens of millions of China’s elders don’t pay the terrible price, as have over a million Americans.

* * *

China’s Xi on ‘epoch-making’ visit to Saudi as Riyadh chafes at U.S. censure Reuters and Full text of Chinese President Xi’s signed article on Saudi Arabian media CGTN


News from the Front: Observations from Myanmar’s Revolutionary Forces Center for Strategic and International Studies

Monk militia: The Buddhist clergy backing Myanmar’s junta Reuters

Hidden abuse and scams in Southeast Asia reveal the dark side of the metaverse Globe_


The Rare Golden Flap Shell Turtle Isn’t An Avatar Of Vishnu Madras Courier


How Ben-Gvir blows apart the ‘security’ story of Israel’s occupation Middle East Eye

The Only (Illiberal) Democracy in the Middle East The Tablet

European Disunion

Suspected German coup plot spawns dozens of arrests AP

France’s Yellow Vests at 4: The movement’s three greatest achievements PressTV (LawnDart).

Monte dei Paschi: how far did Italy go to draw a line under its troubled bank? FT

Dear Old Blighty

Army fury as soldiers told to give up their Christmas to cover striking workers Telegraph (CB).

UK bank hubs offer lifeline to those struggling in a cashless society FT. Until they don’t.

New Not-So-Cold-War

Emerging cracks in the consensus?

U.S. Goal in Ukraine: Drive Russians Back to Pre-Invasion Lines, Blinken Says WSJ. The deck: “Kyiv must decide itself later whether to try to reclaim Crimea and Donbas.”

Why Ukraine Should Not Rush to Retake the Peninsula Foreign Affairs

West must look at reopening Russian airspace, says former BA boss Telegraph

Or not:

Ukraine hits targets deep inside Russia in break with Biden administration Responsible Statecraft

Why sanctions against Russia aren’t working — yet NPR. “In other words, the sanctions have teeth, but for Russia to feel the bite, coalition nations will need to sink those teeth in deeper and hang on for the long term.” In other words for the other words, double down.

* * *

Looking for Bandera in the photo collage, but without success:

Bandera’s ‘Insurgency-in-Waiting’ Moss Robeson, Bandera Lobby Blog. Interesting, though I’m not sure who Robeson is. Readers?

* * *

Dan Kovalik: Eastern Ukraine had good reason to join Russia, after Kyiv’s aggression Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (!).

Peter Pan goes to Ukraine Aurelien, Trying to Understand the World

Rapid fall from power, arrest for embattled Peru president AP

Biden Administration

9 million Americans were wrongly told they were approved for student debt forgiveness CBS. “The error was made by Accenture Federal Services, a contractor with the Education Department.” Oh, an “error.” Now everybody who applied is on a list for collections (as I said was the purpose of this scam when it emerged).

Supply Chain

Russia-China Natural Gas Pipeline Hits Major Construction Milestone

Tankers Changing Hands Left, Right and Center Hellenic Shipping News

Chinese car brands build shipping fleets Splash 247


The Case of Julian Assange (National Press Club Ticket) EventBrite. The panel doesn’t look too rigged; there’s only one open spook (Triplett, FBI):

That said, it’s harder to find a better example of the merger of (hegemonic) press and (hegemonic) intelligence community factions than an event at the National Press Club sponsored by the Hayden Center (branding from the pro-torture spook perjurer — sorry for the redundancy — of that name).

The Bezzle

AI Homework Stratechery. On ChatGPT. Look. Silicon Valley has form. We already know what the outcome of AI is going to be: Crapification. Like the Internet of Sh*t, except for all forms of cultural production. Commentary:

Again, the best way to characterize ChatGPT’s output is “bullsh*t,” using Harry Frankfurt’s definition in On Bullsh*t, since it’s all verbiage that is, by definition, produced without regard for the truth.


Media’s Crime Hype and Scapegoating Led to Crackdown on Unhoused People FAIR

How Frighteningly Strong Meth Has Supercharged Homelessness New York Magazine

Guillotine Watch

Unmasking “The Scholar”: The Colorado woman who helped a global art smuggling operation flourish for decades Denver Post (s.n.). Good reporting.

Class Warfare

How Biden and Buttigieg Could Deliver Sick Leave To Rail Workers The Lever

BNSF’s Katie Farmer Named Railway Age’s 2023 Railroader of the Year Railway Age. Commentary: “Good news folks the person overseeing the implementation of BNSF railroad’s ‘Hi-Viz’ insane attendance policy is a woman.”

The surprising player in the rail strike fight: Fossil fuel companies Grist

* * *

The Sick Proletariat The Baffler. Review of Health Communism.

Americans’ pandemic-era cash pile is shrinking Axios

New York Times Staffers to Stage First Strike in Over 40 Years Thursday WSJ. Commentary:

No NYT links today….

Antidote du jour (via):


Bonus antidote:

This is great, but you have to wait for it.

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour“>here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. The Rev Kev

    “Climate protesters hurl paint at Milan’s La Scala opera house Reuters.”

    ‘Have these guys ever hit anything finance-related?’

    No, but if they ever did I am sure that it would like that time when ISIS Jihadists accidentally bombed Israel. They would immediately go and apologize for their mistake.

    1. Bart Hansen

      The same goes for the angry young men who invade schools with AR-15s. They need to pick other targets too.

      I would never suggest any such targets, but others may. HT, Francis Urquhart in the BBC’s House of Cards.

      1. Daniil Adamov

        Not that I’d mind them choosing other targets, but I suspect those angry young men go after the people they know and have some personal grievances against. There are many other possibilities in the world, but what’s in it for them?

    2. pylon

      Yes they have.

      Some recent Just Stop Oil protests which got much less airtime:

      In October 2022 the Bank of England:

      In November 2022 Barclays Bank Aberdeen:

      Also in October Murdoch’s News Corp in London (for media complicity in current greenwashing):

  2. zagonostra

    >Americans’ pandemic-era cash pile is shrinking Axios

    The biggest contributor to excess savings for the richest households was the lockdown-driven reduction in spending…For the bottom half of the income distribution, the fiscal transfers were the primary contributor.

    The poorest Americans are much closer to exhausting the built-up excess savings than the richest ones…alternate estimate suggests excess savings could last for up to two more years.

    The “poorest” Americans don’t have “excess savings” by definition.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      The biggest contributor to excess savings for the richest households was the lockdown-driven reduction in spending…

      The story keeps changing to fit the “strong consumer/strong economy” narrative. Today it is that consumers didn’t spend during the pandemic, so all that “pent up demand” and “savings” are being spent, causing inflation and supply chain problems now.

      But a year and a half ago when it came out that billionaires massively increased their net worth while everyone else was in pandemic lockdown, the “explanation” went like this from Forbes:

      Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest person, has also been a winner. Shares of Amazon are up by 87% over the past 15 months as quarantining shoppers have flocked to the e-commerce giant during the pandemic, helping drive an $86 billion increase in Bezos’ fortune since January 2020. Forbes estimates that Bezos is the first person in history worth more than $200 billion.

      Supposedly everyone was spending all that “free” pandemic money outfitting their home offices and home gyms and “shopping” online because they had nothing else to do, to the benefit of like masters of “capital” like bezos.

      IMNSHO, it’s all bullshit. The 40-year-old deliberate policies of deindustrialization, financialization, unlimited free money to a select few and rampant corruption have crapified the “economy” to the point it can no longer be covered up. Attempts to “normalize” what has gone on are increasingly incoherent, contradictory, and just plain unbelievable.

      The system is FUBAR and those who did it are looking for someone else to blame.

      1. Mikel

        “The story keeps changing to fit the “strong consumer/strong economy” narrative.”

        The gaslighting now is also the “Fed pivot” narrative.
        Everything has to be framed now to try to get back to the easy money –
        or at least make people think it’s coming.

        I’m really noting the synchronized uses of the terms “pivot” and “soft landing.”

      2. Tania

        One thing is for sure, we are not going to spend one more discretionary cent into Biden’s economy with the Ukraine proxy war, failing to keep even one financial promise to the voters, e.g. student loans and the vilification of majority culture. Let the PMC sustain the consumer economy.

        Anything we might need, other than food and energy, we’ll first look to thrift stores, Craigslist or borrow the item until Biden’s out of office and a new president is sworn in January 2025.

        Sell your surplus stuff you haven’t used in years for half of reasonable to someone who needs it to help tarnish the reputation of the Biden regime.

        1. spud

          the IRS beefed up its enforcement agents by tens of thousands, to enforce the $600.00 rule.

          that is where most of their work will come from.

    2. Boomheist

      So I have spent much of the last year training and then working as a SHIP or SHIBA volunteer – state health insurance board advisor – which is simply advising anyone who asks about their Medicare choices, which is most intense during the October 15-December 7 Open Enrollment period when people can switch around their Medicare plans. This provides a very interesting and often depressing look deep into the world of the precariat. While those people in the upper 10 percent or even 20-30 percent of income usually have enough resources to pay for Original Medicare or a Medicare Advantage plan co-pay system, there are many among us, if not most among us, who do not and, furthermore, fall into that difficult place where they are not poor enough to receive any assistance (generally for an individual this is less than 1500 a month) but really unable to cover expenses and medical insurance costs at the income they do receive. Here in Washington state, for a single elderly person, my very limited and rough rule of thumb seems to fall out that if you arent making at least 3000 a month as a couple, and say 2500 as an individual, you are in desperate times, choosing medications instead of some foods, for example. The huge explosion in rental prices, which happened I think alongside the Covid moratorium on paying rent and preventing evicting people (but not forgiving them this bill which has added up, month by month, for a long time), has seen many people, usually older single women, living in their cars while still working, as they could not afford rent. This is not a statistical sample and I am sure I might be chided for spreading rumors, but the simple truth is that, for those, say, in the lower 60-70 percent of income in this country, whatever benefits they received during the Covid largesse went straight to living expenses. This is especially true of all those “essential” workers who drove trucks, woorked in grocery stores, etc The mountains of cash supposedly held by people, now causing inflation, or pent up demand, may be the case for those at the top who could afford to work from home, and the media writes about these people all the time, but among us are countless more just struggling to get by, visiting food banks, one short financial episode from being ion the streets. The real scandal, or one of the real scandals, of this Covid episode, is that while everyone howls about the cash giveaways to individuals, the great bulk of the money went to businesses, athletes, and even Congresspeople as PPP loans, outrifght gifts and giveaways. That;s where the pent up demand is coming from, I think. My SHIP sample is small, and skewed by age, as most of the people we see are about to turn 65 or over 65, but there is a good group of disabled younger people as well, and it tears the heart to sit before people who are truly in the precariat yet, it seems, being blamed, somehow, for inflation and demand.

      1. Eclair

        Thank you, Boomheist, for your report from the trenches. And for your service, trying to help people , many of whom are, as you write, ‘just one short financial episode from being on the streets,’ make sense of a system that seems designed to confuse and obfuscate.
        And, on the opposite coast, we have NYC Mayor Adams, who is proposing ‘involuntary committal’ for ‘mentally ill’ (or just sleep-deprived, hungry, cold, dirty, ill and sick to death of not being seen,) homeless persons. Next, put ’em on a train to a ‘facility’ built somewhere out of the public eye. The next-to-final solution.

        1. Boomheist

          Eclair – here is my prediction on this homeless thing. It won;t be very long before the overall consensus shifts to something that essentially rounds them all up and interns them in camps outside cities, to either get sober or stay there. Not sure exactly how we get there from here but I see this coming, because the homeless thing is impossible. Among the homeless are people who work, not sure the percentage, let’s say for the sake of generosity 10 percent. Add another 10% for people who are choosing to live this way for whatever reason but not addicted to alcohol or meth, or mentally ill (and many times it may be both). This still means 80 percent or more are there due to drug or alcohol use, as well as mental issues, and you cannot solve mental issues until you get rid of the drugs and alcohol. This isn’t like hobo towns during the Depression. I bet that somehow the powers that be will come up with a way to ship them all out to fields far away, maybe with treatment, maybe not, but this is coming….I would guess the argument might go like this: most homeless have a substance abuse problem and crammed in encampments in cities worsens conditions and disease, they need treatment, and help, and the only way to do that is to get them somewhere they can be fed, clean, safe, and treated. If we could throw up hospital tent cities in three weeks during Covid you can be damn sure we can do the same with camps out in the boonies, and I think we will. This sounds savage to some, I know, be we have been a savage nation always. We sent Native Americans to boarding schools. We moved tribes from land. We enslaved millions for profit. We built our industrial power by working immigrants to death in the mills. Believe me, once we decide to solve the homeless, tent city in urban cores situation, it will happen fast.

            1. Boomheist

              The numbers are very bad on this issue. In Washington State the estimate is more, like, 20 percent have some kind of work, but nearly half earned some money at some time in the previous year. But the basis for these estimates is weak, as gathering good data on this population is very difficult. If you deduct housed (shelters, motels, etc) homeless from “in the streets” homeless, employment percentages drop to nearly zero,I think.


              I still stand by my point that, irrespective of employment percentages, I see a huge shift coming which will end up with street people shipped off to camps, supported by more people than anyone wants to admit….

  3. Another Bad Creation

    Re: New time-lapse shows how Earth has changed since iconic ‘Blue Marble’ Sky News

    That video didn’t really say anything new, but my god was it depressing

    1. Bugs

      Turned it off after the narrator said the “Soviet planned economy” was responsible for the drying Aral Sea.

      1. Michaelmas

        Turned it off after the narrator said the “Soviet planned economy” was responsible for the drying Aral Sea.

        Sure, the ‘planned’ part is a bit much, given the result. But it’s naive to believe that only savage neoliberal capitalism has no regard for externalities and is mindlessly committed to growth at all costs. From 1988 —

        Desiccation of the Aral Sea: A Water Management Disaster in the Soviet Union

        ‘During planning for a major expansion of irrigation in the Aral Sea basin … in the 1950s and 1960s, it was predicted that this would reduce inflow to the sea and substantially reduce its size … experts saw this as a worthwhile tradeoff: a cubic meter of river water used for irrigation would bring far more value than the same cubic meter delivered to the Aral Sea. They based this … on a simple comparison of economic gains from irrigated agriculture against tangible economic benefits from the sea. Indeed, the ultimate shrinkage of the Aral to a residual brine lake as all its inflow was devoted to agriculture and other economic needs was viewed as both desirable and inevitable.

        ‘These experts largely dismissed the possibility of significant adverse environmental consequences accompanying recession. For example, some scientists claimed the sea had little or no impact on the climate of adjacent territory and its shrinkage would not perceptibly alter meteorological conditions beyond the immediate shore zone. They also foresaw little threat of large quantities of salt blowing from the dried bottom and damaging agriculture in adjacent areas … on the assumption that during the initial phases of the Aral’s drying only calcium carbonate and calcium sulfate would be deposited on the former bottom. Although friable and subject to deflation, these salts have low plant toxicity. Second, it was assumed that the more harmful compounds, chiefly sodium sulfate and sodium chloride, which would be deposited as the sea continued to shrink and salinize, would not be blown off because of the formation of a durable crust of sodium chloride. Some optimists even suggested the dried bottom would be suitable for farming.

        ‘Although a small number of scientists warned of serious negative effects from the sea’s desiccation, they were not heeded ….’

        And so on.

  4. BillS

    Re: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article – Finally, someone is daring to contradict The Narrative in a (local) MSM publication by stating the truth. Trigger warning: The comments section response is positively toxic!

    1. LawnDart

      The comments are an excellent reflection of the readership, the Pittbsurgh-bubble. I lived there over the Great Recession, and, having spent most of my life West of the Ohio, midwest through Northwest to West Coast, man, I thought Cali was a trip, but it’s got nothing on Pittsburgh! You’ve got the PC of the PMC layered-over old-money, blueblood class-structure; Wokeism prevading throughout the universities and radiating from there, and an improvershed working-class Ya’ll Queda, militant Trumpanzie-types gluing the region together. It’s truly American dystopia.

      The comments section is the “must read.”

      1. BeliTsari

        Yunz jagoffs shulda tried living offa radium & PCB flavored catfish, thallium & strontium greens, played ball down in Plutonium Park (with smoke from a 70yr old mine fire shooting up) dumpster dove & varmint hunt, through Reagan’s Miracle learned to differentiate Ingram from Uzi pistols & freebase cocaine for cop neighbors… an’at!

        Racial harmony was tenuously maintained by our utter TERROR of Huge Ukrainian kids you could punch all day & they’d just spit a tooth in your face.

      2. BeliTsari

        PS: wild guess that 75% of the unhinged comments are folks who’d voted FOR Biden, as opposed to against Trump; as the rhetoric really sounds more like we hear, elsewhere (equating Putin with evil Communist hegemonic, totalitarian Stalin). Racist, rustbelt reactionaries who’d installed Reagan were as Union & Democrat as Biden, Hillary, Pelosi, etc. It was HILARIOUS to watch Chucky spew:

        “For every blue-collar Democrat we lose in western Pennsylvania, we will pick up two moderate Republicans in the suburbs in Philadelphia, and you can repeat that in Ohio and Illinois and Wisconsin.”

        1. LawnDart

          Except the Roosevelt dems either died-off or became anti-Hillary Trumpsters… …if you’re starting off from zero, then maybe that statement begins to make sense.

          They didn’t simply vote for Biden, they celebrated with bubbly!

          1. BeliTsari

            Lots of us disliked Hillary AND Trump. Disliked Debbie, John & Robby & I was one of two working class Goyim in Manhattan’s UWS, knowing Hillary wasn’t going to win. We’d not been allowed to vote for a worthwhile candidate, yet again. And working in the industry; KNEW Hills would’ve fracked the ever-loving shit out of the Marcellus, serviced by 19 ginormous, totally unnecessary gas pipelines; a number of crackers serviced by thousands of fracked ethane wells & infrastructure including absolutely INSANE ethane distribution & storage, along with her pet coal-tar dilute bitumen nightmare, reopening as “clean” coal, all the ancient powerplants, decaying fission reactors AND of course, picking war with Russia, Iran, Venezuela, Syria, China… so we’re just obviously brain damaged to miss having a choice in politicsl representatives (about which, Debbie sneered under oath). TWO reactionary, racist, criminal, authoritarian Republican Parties
            didn’t appeal to us? Fedderman pretended to be on our side, back then. I’m more of a Ken Galbraith/ Henry Wallace Democrat?

      3. Kilgore Trout

        Unfortunately, I think the comments to the fine P-G essay by Kovalik would be similar no matter where the essay appeared. Because: this war was initiated by a Democrat. The PMC is overwhelmingly Democratic. In their view, Trump was elected by Putin. Therefore, this war–aimed at defeating Putin– is good. That may be too stark, but I don’t know how to explain the dearth of opposition to this war; other than Code Pink, the silence is deafening from those who ostensibly oppose our endless wars.

  5. flora

    9 million Americans were wrongly told they were approved for student debt forgiveness – CBS

    That’s just cruel and right before Christmas, too. Heck of a job, Brandon.

      1. Dr. John Carpenter

        Lucy and the football. And why not? What’s the downside to it? The Georgia runoff shows there is no accountability ever. And if they lose, well, they can just fund raise off the loss.

        Heads they win. Tails we lose.

      2. Carol

        You are forgetting the promises to forgive student debt before the 2020 election. Bait and switch, bait and switch.

        Americans might have forgotten that Senator Biden, the whore for the bankers headquarted in his home state, corporate Cayman Islands equivalent Delaware, them who funded his campaigns, is the one who pushed the 2005 bill exempting student loans from bankruptcy protection.

        “Nearly three decades later, Joe Biden — then a senator serving Delaware — had a large role in making it that standard stricter. In 2005, Congress passed the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act, and its implications for student-loan borrowers were dire. As signed into law under former President George W. Bush, the bill expanded the undue hardship requirement to borrowers with private student loans, expanding the scope of borrowers who would have to prove their impossible predicament in court. 

        During his 2020 presidential campaign, Biden defended his vote for the bill, saying in a Democratic primary debate that he “improved it.”

        p.s. WTF is our $600?

        1. LawnDart

          Americans with student loans sure have not forgotten 2005 anti-bankruptcy Biden– they’re probably a good 1/3 of Trump’s base.

    1. OIFVet

      Democrats – keeping our powder dry since the 1980’s.

      Democrats – fighting for the little people, winning for Wall Street.

    2. griffen

      Hey look here Americans, you can have all this nice stuff! And yes, that $600 check is on the way. Believe in me, for I am the Dark Brandon. I just told the rail road workers to pound dirt with their “sick time” demands. And I am a pro Labor, pro Union kind of guy from Scranton!

      Lest anyone be unfortunately informed, my commentary is not just tinged with sarcasm. It is over flowing with sarcasm, and just in time for the high holiday of Festivus.

      1. Mikel

        “And yes, that $600 check is on the way…”

        That’s would now be considered “excess savings” and not “stimulus” by central bankers.

        Decades of savings accounts barely registering interest and now they are trying to sell “excess savings” by non-wealthy workers as the issue.

    3. diptherio

      And I note that It’s Accenture who carried out the deed. Isn’t that what Arthur Anderson rebranded to?

  6. Katniss Everdeen

    Brittney Griner has been released in one-for-one prisoner swap for the arms dealer according to “breaking news” on cnbc.

      1. Alice X

        Apparently, workers at the NYT are holding a 24 work stoppage, so one might want to steer clear of the site, for more reasons than usual.

        1. BeliTsari

          NYT doubtless has a series of front pages set up from 1963 they could get out, as they hire Ukranian refugee kids? Just replace Fannie Lou Hamer, Fidel Castro, Ho Chi Minh, James Meridith & Malcolm Little for 2 minute hate & NOT mention China or actually mitigating kids’ virus damage & just charge Noam Chomsky with anti-Semitism like always? Who’d notice? Maybe, BLAME Palestinians & RUSSIA

    1. The Rev Kev

      It sucks to be Paul Whelan then, the spy that was busted by Russian security. Greiner will get a hug and greet (and a sniff of the hair) in the White House and will probably write a book about Life In A Russian gulag. But Paul Whelan will spend this Christmas in the slammer still. But in saying this, if you look at the guy’s Wikipedia page, it just gives off this weird vibe when you read it-

      1. Katniss Everdeen

        Greiner will get a hug and greet (and a sniff of the hair) in the White House…

        And a starring role in the brandon 2024 campaign, particularly in newly first South Carolina.

        1. Michaelmas

          … will get a hug and greet (and a sniff of the hair) in the White House

          At 6’9″, she’s almost a foot taller than the old pervert, so I don’t know how that’s going to work.

          It’s spelled Griner, by the way.

      2. Jeremy Grimm

        Perhaps Paul Whelan was never on offer by the Russians for a prisoner-swap. Judging from the bio on the Wiki page you referenced, it may be just as well for the rest of us in the u.s. if the Russians just kept him.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          The delay in the deal was Biden was demanding a 2 for 1 swap. It’s like the failure with Iran. Biden simply couldn’t take a win by renewing a deal that was popular in the US.

          I imagine the family and other supporters realized Biden was looking for an optics win where he defeated Putin with his shrewd negotiating strategery instead of making a swap and moving on. Griener is hardly the only American and no she broke the law in a country where she is still a guest. It wasn’t a hidden law, and with the “doping scandals” in sports and hostilities, she did walk into it. Timing likely hurt her the most, but this could have been done months ago.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Mama Merkle really dropped one here. It was bad enough that ex-President Poroshenko said that he only signed the Minsk 2 agreements to buy time to build up the military. But now Merkle is saying that she did the same thing, even though Germany and France were both guarantors of that agreement with the UN Security Council. That tells the Russians – and the world – that any agreements that they try to make with them will not be worth the paper that it is written on. Their diplomatic word means nothing. And I am sure that other countries are taking note too. I guess that Merkle did it to protect her reputation against accusations that she was too soft on the Russians.

      1. Lex

        This is truly wild. It can’t be a slip. It also feels like protecting her reputation against those accusations this way opens up a lot of accusations against a lot of people at the same time. Of course here economic legacy is now ruined, so perhaps there are multiple purposes here. She’s stabbing a lot of people in the back with this statement, including the US. It’s hard to see how this doesn’t mostly help Russia in the global context and she must know that it would.

        1. Stephen

          Agree. She is prioritising her internal audience I guess. If you start from a false premise of evil Russia always planning to invade Ukraine anyway then this admitted duplicity can be positioned as morally virtuous.

          Her overall statement does seem in line with a hawkish approach to Russia. She is basically coming out as yet another western anti Russian war monger. German leaders fomenting war. What could go wrong?

    2. anon in so cal

      Long, sickening article about Merkel in Der Spiegel.

      Separately, the NYT article about the 25 Germans arrested for plotting a coup is kind of funny.

      Check out some of their beliefs the German post WW2 republic.

    1. semper loquitur

      Thanks for the dose of lunacy this morning. Good to know law enforcement and the military are “monitoring” the situation. Once again, the Right takes up the banner of morality.

      This has to be bigger than some Woke Army officer and police chief. What is with the open sexualization of children all of a sudden? It’s all over the place, with support from the mainstream media.

        1. semper loquitur

          Yeah, that pendulums going to come crashing this way too, I fear. A lot of innocent people will get steam-rolled when it does. Under the Tucker Tweet above, there is talk of “homo-facism”. Matt Walsh has gleefully reported on the anti-children sexualization bill in Tennessee that will also, as one critic pointed out, squash Pride Parades. YouTube features Right wing preachers talking about how gay rights lead directly to pedophilia.

          1. Daniil Adamov

            What really annoys me about the law mentioned by Vandemonian and the political trend that led to it (apart from the innocent people angle, which always bothers me but is perhaps merely sentimental and quaint to think about) is that we’re punishing Russian citizens to spite the West, using American and British-derived rhetoric and methods in the name of ostensible Russian values, even though historically (up until the Stalin years) Russian culture and society has been markedly more tolerant towards homosexuality than that of Western Europe. No capital punishment for it in the law until we copied it from the Europeans in the 19th century (then, I think, never used, just like the people we copied it from by that time). Nothing like the Oscar Wilde affair despite quite a few well-known homosexuals. The Soviets cracked down on this decadence hard despite abolishing capital punishment, and Stalin rounded up homosexuals en masse – a fact cited approvingly in online discussions of such legal initiatives. The Communists (certainly the KPRF but not just those ones) are mostly true to form, being extremely vocal in their support of anti-gay legislation and campaigns, but obviously the Church and the religious far right groups cannot allow themselves to be outpaced by leftists in this heroic struggle.

      1. flora

        OK. But the story seems true, regardless of the messenger, imo.

        And then there’s this from Max Blumenthal about the Pentagon telling CBS to walk back a story.

        CBS was forced to apologize under Pentagon pressure for this report showing that most military aid to Ukraine was unaccounted for, and likely flowing into the hands of criminal mafias. Too much transparency, too soon, apparently.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Cows seem to be very curious animals. Just today my wife was watching this night vision video taken from a British police helicopter. They were directing police on the ground to the guy trying to run away from them through open fields. Unfortunately for the guy, he cut through a field with a dozen cows and the whole herd, their curiosity roused, was following this guy across the whole landscape making him easy to find.

      1. Wukchumni

        Occasionally while walking to a trailhead in rural settings, there’ll be a bovine intervention on a dirt road and while they’re mostly docile 4 legs good, you don’t want to risk it with pre bbq brisket, so we make our presence known by not quite yelling ‘Sirloin!’…’NY Strip!’…’Ribeye!’…’Stewing Meat!’ and if they don’t get out of our way…

        ‘Ground Beef!’

          1. Bsn

            My favorite trombone story: I had a great dog, Zeus. He was 1/2 pug, 1/2 basset – a great hound mix. I was playing trombone and without a stand, I laid it on the ground as I took a break. Of course hounds are all about the smell, so Zeus went over to smell. The mouthpiece is where all the smell is (I did brush my teeth that week) so that’s where he headed. Well to sniff in you must breathe out. As he did, he buzzed the mouthpiece and hit a note. He kept hitting that open F about 10 to 12 times. Brrrr, brrrr, brrr. I about died laughing. RIP Zeus, “The Mighty Puppy”.

    2. farmboy

      creatures of habit, while feeding them day after in the winter out in the open, they come from as far away as they can hear you singing “come bos” loudly, then after they calve and the babies come running to, well it makes braving the weather fun. some trombone shorty might work too!

  7. OIFVet

    Re: Climate protesters hurl paint at Milan’s La Scala opera house Reuters. Have these guys ever hit anything finance-related?

    They may well be an astroturf operation. Attacking cultural landmarks and works of art does exactly zero to advance their professed cause and probably does more harm in terms of perceptions amongst fence-sitters. The US military is the world’s largest oil user, let them glue themselves to the gates of Fort Bragg or something. Frankly I am sick of hearing about their poser stupidity.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      I believe you are correct about this being an astroturf operation. That makes the most sense. It might be interesting to trace who is behind these “climate protestors”.

    2. semper loquitur

      Yep. Just like the clowns who dumped milk onto the floor of Harrods a few months back for the janitorial staff to clean up. Or the fools who blocked the highways in a number of locations, including one instance where video of a man pleading with them to let him go by because he would be late for work and lose his parole status surfaced.

      I will say this, having worked in the environmental movement in Philadelphia for a few years, I can believe that some of them actually believe they are making a difference. They are all about performative action and moral certitude without regard to context. I can also believe they are riddled with agent provocateur’s .

      I’m pretty sure the organization I was in had one. He was a middle-aged, schlubby type who wore all the right t-shirts, a beret, and had a dozen buttons on his old army jacket spelling out one cause or another. An “activist’s activist”. He was always loud and always calling for us to start to cross the lines of legality. One night we got to talking at a bar and he started musing about how maybe we could knock out some communications equipment, antennas or towers or something. He was always going on about how we needed a “plan”.

      He was also a vocal opponent of workplace organizing. When the call room workers started to talk about banding together against the managers he immediately began red-baiting. I pretty much quit talking to him after that.

      The organization fell apart not too long after. It was all just a networking and paycheck writing exercise for the managers and top brass. A friend who was married to a higher up in an adjacent organization confirmed that the bosses had easily slipped into other positions in the “movement”. Many of them in DC lobbying outfits.

      About two years later, I was watching television and a local news cast came up talking about a protest in some small Pennsylvania town. I forget the details but I do remember that there was that guy again, being interviewed. The same over-the-top rhetoric, same buttons, beret, everything. It hit me then that the guy was wearing a costume.

    3. Jeff W

      This interview by Owen Jones with Emma Brown of Just Stop Oil provides a bit of the rationale for the group’s actions.

      At the risk of mischaracterizing the group’s strategy, I’d say that, in their view, gluing themselves to the gates of Fort Bragg would merely get them ignored (at best) whereas attacking cultural landmarks and works of art gets them and their cause gobs of publicity—we’re here talking about their protest, after all. Even if the publicity about them is negative, they’d say, it still advances, or, at least, doesn’t harm, their cause—how many people, aligned with aims similar to that of the group before, now say “Drill, baby, drill,” because of what some might view as the group’s stupidity?

      And their attack on cultural landmarks and these irreplaceable works of art is a kind of meta-message—if we care about these things, how much more should we care about our irreplaceable planet? That’s a very different point than attacking the more obvious direct targets who enable the oil economy. Just Stop Oil might view that as a more effective message because it highlights—indicts, perhaps—the complacency of the broader populace and enlists others in taking action.

      1. Daniil Adamov

        It kind of make sense. However, is there any reason to believe it’s working? I recall Ted Rall wrote about a similar earlier incident, comparing it to how the Taliban blew up the Buddhas of Bamiyan in Afghanistan in order to draw attention to moneyed Westerners being willing to finance the maintenance of historical sites, but not humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan’s starving poor. (Upon closer investigation, one Taliban official claimed this motive, while others claimed a different one.) In any case, that also kind of makes sense. But everyone just remembers those fanatics blowing up the statue in a feat of insane iconoclasm – not Afghanistan’s starving poor.

      2. hunkerdown

        So they’re self-important children playing with symbols and performing infantile moral theater instead of actually threatening interests. Their view, Their feelings, Their self-aggrandizement. Another case for the abolition of the middle class.

  8. griffen

    Time announces their 2022 person of the year. I am amazed they have not also proposed Joe Biden as the best President ever of the USA USA. Move over, Washington and FDR. Back to the Person of the Year, are Americans filling out their wish list for what the man needs and wants in 2023?

    Which actor living and working today would be best suited to portray Mr. Z in a real life biopic? I am leaning toward Jeremy Renner, showed he has the chops for physical acting in the one Bourne film. Okay that is pretend but in the end, is there really a difference?

      1. caucus99percenter

        Trump stopped TPP, didn’t serve corporations in Delaware, their favorite state, for 50 years, and didn’t stitch the West and Ukraine together into a human centipede with Zelensky at the front. It’s all relative.

  9. The Rev Kev

    “The Only (Illiberal) Democracy in the Middle East”

    I’m afraid that secular Israelis may find their democracy become a victim to extremists as they take hold in Israel among the people. What would that look like? Abby Martin of The Empire Files found out when she interviewed ordinary people in the street there- (2:18 mins)

    Do the KKK ever talk about black people like that nowadays?

  10. GramSci

    Re: Peter Pan

    I find it disappointing that the only reference to the Vietnam War in Aurelian’s indictment of 1968 is to the superhero fantasy Watchmen.

    1. The Rev Kev

      I actually found it an excellent post. But remember that it was not an American writing this but a person from Britain so Vietnam is only of peripheral interest to people there. If you read that post again you will see the Anglo perspective in it. And he makes some damn good points in that post.

      1. GramSci

        To my way of thinking the infantilisation began with banning body bags and flag-draped coffins from TV. It was not so much the act of a generation as an act of Lewis Powell and friends.

        Most Amuricans haven’t figured that out yet. Neither have most Europeans.

        1. danpaco

          The G7 finance ministers waling out of the room when the Russians started their speech. My first thought at the time as my MP (Chrystia Freeland) led the charge “Are they family blogging teenagers?!”.
          Great essay, Thanks David.

        2. hunkerdown

          To my mind, it began much earlier, with the Great Chain of Being ideology placing everyone in relations of service to a paternal figure. But you will never see Prot conservatives critiquing their own formative acts of petulant rebellion, because then the myth of subordination turns on its head, along with the thrust of the piece.

          I’m hoping he’ll do a hismat take on the same phenomenon. (Hoping skyn*t will like this edition of my comment.)

        3. Jeremy Grimm

          Was banning body bags and flag-draped coffins from TV Infantilization — or mindful public relations? Is infantilization the same as public relations?

      2. Food for Thought

        Splendid post! Some infantilization observations:

        “Bowl” – you serve small kids solid food in a bowl. If you are a grown up you eat only soups and possibly stews in bowls. Not salads.

        “Hamburgers” – grown ups eat food with fork, spoon with or without knife, not with your hands. Also, throwing excellent meat or truffle or what have you doesn’t make the hamburger more adult. It is still fast food. Where I look most new restaurants/eateries are hamburger places, not real restaurants where they serve real dishes eaten with fork and knife.

        “Sugar, everywhere sugar” – in many cases pickled vegetables are so sweet it is more like a dessert. TV-chefs add sugar in sauces to add taste. Sweet is for childrens’ tastebuds, grownups should strive for bitter and sour.

        The elite doesn’t listen to opera but to rap, people that can’t sing.

        1. hunkerdown

          Sorry, Calvinist table culture does not define “adulthood” outside of an elite whose only use-value is as sausages.

    2. Jay

      Useful lesson for usians: Not Everything Is About You. He’s a Brit living in France… No, the USAs experience of Vietnam isn’t very relevant to what he’s describing.

    3. Jeremy Grimm

      The Aurelian essay seems to suggest this infantilization of the Populace and magical thinking is something new, possibly the fault of New Age hippies and popular adoptions of 1960s counter-culture. The Younger Generation went to the dogs in the 1960s and now they have grown up, remain gone to the dogs, and ally with today’s Younger Generations in glorification of irresponsibility, fatuous beliefs, opinions, and ideals, and lack of seriousness. This contrasts markedly with how things were — back in the good old days when men were men.

      But not only the Populace has gone to the dogs, so has the political leadership:
      “The most obvious manifestation of this immaturity I’ve been discussing is the refusal to take responsibility for anything.”
      “Political leaderships in the West these days exist in a permanent childhood fantasy world …”
      While it would be difficult to argue with Aurelian’s views of popular culture as trending increasingly toward infantilization and magical thinking, and while such characterization might be fitting to some of our current politicians, I cannot agree with that as a fitting characterization of the Elites in the u.s. or EU — of course I live in and best understand the u.s. I believe it has proven quite useful to u.s. Elites to infantilize the Populace. It makes the Populace much easier to control. I doubt the true autonomy of most political leaders. I believe they are tools for indicating a direction selected by the prevailing consensus of the u.s. Power Elites. Although I believe the u.s. Power Elites may sometimes engage in magical or sadistic thinking, I am very reluctant to accept the notion they are infantile. I would characterize their thinking and motivations as something much darker than manifestations of the follies of Youth by infantile adults who never want to grow up. Serious, responsible adults might feel inclined to forgive follies of Youth, but feel quite differently disposed toward the motives that I believe drive the u.s. Power Elites.

      1. Tom Bradford

        Infantilisation and going to the dogs? I read or heard somewhere the suggestion that dogs kept as family pets retain puppyhood all their lives, never attaining canine adulthood, as they never have to fend for themselves and so never learn to. Instead they remain dependent on their carers just as puppies are on their mothers. And as much as the adult population of the modern state is dependent on it to feed and provide shelter for them.

      2. Karl

        …Power Elites may sometimes engage in magical or sadistic thinking, I am very reluctant to accept the notion they are infantile. I would characterize their thinking and motivations as something much darker than manifestations of the follies of Youth

        Interesting perspective. In the Aurelian essay, magical thinking was posited as a symptom of infantilism. Perhaps the “darker” tendencies of U.S. Elites (examples of “magical or sadistic thinking” include power over-reach, lies, and hubris), are the peculiar ways that infantilism manifests in this class, in government and the executive suites.

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          I prefer not to call what manifests in the Elite class, in government, or executive suites infantilism. I can forgive infants for their bad behaviors.

    4. Carolinian

      I think it’s an insightful post if not super original (see Adam Curtis). But it’s misapplied to Ukraine which is, like all wars, about old men (and women) quarreling over power and sending the naive young off to die. For example those Southern volunteers going off to Civil War thought they were Walter Scott knights entering the lists until Minie balls mowed them down. One might also argue that wars happen because ordinary people get bored with their lives and crave the excitement of great conflict. The enthusiasm for war does seem to wax and wane with each generation.

      But yes a Peter Pan middle class that has grown up affluent and never had to grapple with grim reality.

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        I cannot believe the unfortunate Ukrainian soldiers going off to war are quite the same as Southern volunteers going off to the u.s. Civil War. I think they are more like the British conscripts pulled from the Midlands coal mines and sent into machine guns at the Somme.

        1. Carolinian

          True, but not very much in the Peter Pan spirit either. The author of the piece seems to think the public is driving this. That’s not true here. Maybe it’s more true in Europe.

          And my point was only that when it comes to war in general the naivety of youth is often exploited and in many wars they have eagerly volunteered.

  11. Kristiina

    Peter Pan goes to Ukraine points out the funny wishful thinking perspective of the media concerning the war. The writer does not mention The Secret, but this is what the blurb for Law of Attraction | The Secret – Official Website says: “Through the Law of Attraction like attracts like. What you think about, you bring about.” We’ll see about that.

    Pointing out the infantilisation of everything is a perceptive take on what is going on. “The belief that there are magical answers to real problems in the world is not new, but it has become much more powerful in recent years, as control and influence over issues of war and peace have passed increasingly into the hands of those who know little about either.” Amen to that.

  12. Mikel

    “Everyone Is Sick Right Now” Wired. No mention of widespread immune dysregulation from SARS-CoV-2 itself; “immunity debt” verbalizing without using the phrase

    Remember how long it took for the “herd immunity” trope and fantasy to diminish?
    A lot of those same people are going ride the “immunity debt” horse to death.

    And I say diminish because there are still some out there that haven’t accepted the difference between a virus like ckicken pox and the TEMPORARY anti-bodies of a coronavirus and what NON-STERILIZING shots mean.

  13. Lex

    I don’t know who the Bandera Blog writer is. I’ve read some of it for a bit now and I get the impression that he’s just a guy who spends his free time digging into the Ukrainian diaspora’s nationalism and history. If nothing else, he’s thorough. I’ve checked a few things he’s written that piqued my interest and haven’t gotten any indication that he’s spinning off-base conspiracy theories. The social-political connections in the descended from immigrants community he discusses do ring true to me because my grandparents were deeply involved with the Polish community (which always had an uneasy relationship with the ethnically neighboring Ukrainian community of the area).

    1. William Beyer

      In his 3-year archive, he says this:

      “My first post on the “Bandera Lobby Blog” was an anonymous whistleblower complaint submitted to the New York Attorney General’s office in 2019 about the UAFF and OUN-B. Zaryckyj’s Center for US-Ukrainian Relations, established in 2000, appears to be a crucial “facade structure” for the Banderites to network in Washington, D.C. by hosting conferences featuring prominent speakers from the U.S. and Ukraine.”

    2. ddt

      What surprised me was the too numerous to list far-right orgs, movements, think tanks, parties and militias it seemed the same people established prior to and since 2014. With the help of USian and Canadians notwithstanding. Poor Zelensky has always been between a rock and a hard place.

  14. Lex

    Oh my, Foreign Affairs will print anything these days.

    “It should continue to pressure Crimea militarily and to advance in the southern Kherson region. Ideally, Kyiv would regain control over the freshwater canal that supplies Crimea with most of its water.” So what they’re saying is that Russia is cruel and inhuman for attacking civilian infrastructure but it would be correct to cut off Crimea’s irrigation water supply. They forgot to mention how Ukraine cut off electricity to Crimea in 2014 too. The article just ignores the 1991 referendums in Crimea in sketching its modern history. I suppose that is problematic.

    One of the authors is a professor of history and held the Russia/Ukraine portfolio in the State Department’s Policy Planning group. Do these people believe the things they say/write or is it all a game? Dangerous and frightening either way.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Borrell’s garden/jungle line explains the cognitive dissonance. Take Canada’s Freeman. She’s basically fighting her grandfather’s war, right? They will move against the Ukraine version of the brown shirts at the first convenient moment.

  15. Cetra Ess

    Re: China’s Zero-Covid Protests Are The End of a Once Trusted Governance Model

    Ah yes, put mallcops in charge of enforcement and this happens. But this isn’t a reflection of any governance model, it’s more a reflection of what happens when you give police powers. It’s a recurring theme, the theme is police everywhere are the same. Thugs are attracted to the role for a reason.

    It should topple governments but unfortunately it never does. Would that we rid ourselves of it but the fundamental problem is we need to rethink power dynamics in society.

  16. Wukchumni

    How a dangerous stew of air pollution is choking the United States Nature
    Luckily, I grew up in the worst smog you could imagine in the 60’s & 70’s in LA, which through breathing all that muck gave me the superpower to be able to endure and daresay thrive off of it, and even after I slipped under the wire and made good my escape to Elysierran foothills, turns out the air pollution is nearly as bad as a Big Smoke, but not as visible-you really have no idea how bad it is until you’re above 9,000 feet and you’re looking down at the top of a dirty shaken up snow globe where everybody lives, think Truman Show.

    I would have loved to be a kid here, growing up.

    We’re #7!

    1. The Rev Kev

      Wait – are you saying that growing up in the LA smog of the 60s & 70s gave you a superpower? Or was it a matter of “herd immunity” to smoke? Either way it must be very handy when you have to burn off nature’s droppings or getting by when the occasional forest fire swings by your place.

      1. Wukchumni

        Wait – are you saying that growing up in the LA smog of the 60s & 70s gave you a superpower?

        Yes, i’m able to leap over tall buildings as long as i’m in an helicopter and other ancillary powers from my Lungs Angeles days.

        1. Wukchumni

          I remember when Ethyl gave full service not far from the red, green and yellow light district…

    2. earthling

      That’s the ironic and scary part of the western-air-pollution story. You cannot escape it by living in a remote windswept location. Some very serene, clean, beautiful places got incinerated in rural and mountain California the last few years. Roll the dice and hope you stay lucky.

      While we’re talking about the pollution; how on earth the hellhole the Permian basin has become has not been designated a ‘non-attainment area’ is beyond insane. By the time the EPA gets around to actually doing something, the wells may be depleted.

      1. ambrit

        “By the time the EPA gets around to actually doing something, the wells may be depleted.”
        Sounds like a plan to me. Where do I invest?

  17. Lexx

    ‘Unmasking “The Scholar”

    So disappointing. I’ve seen the collections at both the Denver Art Museum and the Met. It’s common at DAM to step up to read the plaque beside each piece and see that it says the item is ‘on loan’ from some other collection. On more than one occasion I’ve wondered what exactly the museum owned outright, as though most of that real estate existed to showcase to the public the collections of the rich, and us paying for it all by buying tickets for the privilege. I’ll never be able to take what I’m reading at face value again, but instead will wonder where the item really came from and how it came to be in the collector’s hands. Whether its presence in the museum ‘legitimizes’ its value then and even more in the future, when it may be sold or used for tax purposes.

    I used to cater dinner parties when I was in college, for the president, vice president, deans, and some tenured faculty. While in their homes I couldn’t help but notice all the antiquities on the walls and shelves, especially if they had been anthropology majors and traveled abroad on scholarship. All were genuine, some were purchased, some were gifts, and I did wonder if their wealth wasn’t in the bank or their Puget Sound views, but hiding in plain sight in private residences. Countries like Cambodia have lost a lot to private collections that may never be returned because there’s no way to track those items down; they’ve changed hands too many times and there’s no paper trail.

    Should make for more entertaining episodes on ‘The Antique Roadshow’…’OMG, I had no idea, it’s been in our family for years… we left it hanging behind the laundry room door!!!’ will be taking a much darker turn.

    1. Wukchumni

      It was different for coins than other artifacts, in that they are by far the commonest ancient thing you’ll come across as nobody throws away money, but they did bury it and along come metal detectors and bingo! all kinds of Roman coins have been found sometimes in the amounts of hundreds of thousands in one location.

      A good amount of it is frankly, dreck.

      All kinds of things can happen to metal over nearly a few thousand years, most not of a good nature. Gold holds up better than silver and bronze fares worst.

      Coins also don’t have the pizzazz factor of bitchin’ statues, pottery and other Roman artwork, too small to show well.

      That said, occasionally significant coins are found underfoot. and I like the way the UK goes about it, if the coins you found are deemed worthy of the crown owning them for the National Collection, you’ll be paid a fair price by the government, if not you’re free to do what you will with them.

      1. Lexx

        ‘The collection originally belonged to Joseph and Sarah Fernley-Maisters, a couple from an influential mercantile family, who married in 1694 and died in 1725 and 1745, respectively. The family made their money trading in iron ore, timber, and coal.’

        The house originally belonged to Joseph and Sarah Fernley-Maisters, but the coins? Is there any evidence the collection belonged to the couple, and not a senior servant? Were servants paid at all, in addition to room and board? If so, where did they keep their money? When a servant ‘left service’, where did they go and what did they live on?

        That they were rare coins is an interesting detail in the story.

  18. Kristiina

    This one tweet (quoting an interview) is pretty mind-boggling:

    What % of the global profits of select industries end up in American pockets:
    – Aerospace and defense: 92%
    – Media: 81%
    – Pharmaceuticals: 50%
    – Hardware and software: 77%
    – Electronics: 46%
    – Financial services: 67%
    A nation with 4% of population. Wow, just wow

    1. GramSci

      I think ‘American’ should go in quasiquotes. I think the likes of Musk, Bezos, Page, Brin, Buffett, et al think of themselves as primarily citizens of the World, secondarily as citizens of Davos, and only occasionally as ‘Americans’.

  19. The Rev Kev

    “Army fury as soldiers told to give up their Christmas to cover striking workers”

    Joe Biden would like The Telegraph and it’s bashing of workers. So here they are saying that it is not fair that soldiers take the place of NHS workers that are out on strike as the NHS workers are paid more than them. OK then. Give those soldiers equal pay to those NHS workers for the duration and the problem is settled. Of course if soldiers were being used as strike-breakers, no doubt publications like The Telegraph would be cheering that as well.

  20. FlyoverBoy

    For you sports fans out there, The Athletic is now a New York Times property. So any sympathy action with NYT workers would involve skipping that site today, too. As a subscriber, I plan to do so.

    1. Skip Intro

      That’s commitment! What leadership, put her on a board! She went on strike more than 2 years before the pack!

  21. The Rev Kev

    “U.S. Goal in Ukraine: Drive Russians Back to Pre-Invasion Lines, Blinken Says”

    Now this is just getting weird. The assumption is that the Ukraine military are about to defeat the Russians, retake the four Oblasts lost and maybe even take back Crimea. Who is Blinken talking to here? And do they believe him? Or is it a matter of he and the rest of the DC/EU crowd were so convinced that everything was going to go their way back in February, that they cannot conceive of the possibility of their failing. I mean it is like the Russians don’t respect them for their official titles and positions. Maybe this explains the present Russian tempo in the Ukraine. They keep on grinding up Ukrainian battalions one at a time, take minimal casualties themselves, and slowly take back territory. If they suddenly went for Big Arrow movements across the map, it would be liable to make the US/EU do something spectacularly stupid – like drop NATO troops into the Ukraine. But the present tempo, the Russians are winning, the Ukrainians are getting mauled, but it is never at a pace where the west is forced to react to it. Perhaps that is why those provocations like the Crimea bridge and the deep attack on those Russian air bases. The hope was to get the Russians to do something major and spectacular which would force the rest of the west to do something in turn. But they aren’t biting.

    1. Lex

      Yep. At this point Zelensky and his handlers are desperate for an escalation. It’s not the only hope, but it’s close to it. So while Russians and Russia supporters fret about the slow pace of operations, it may well be that patience is a potent weapon.

      1. Polar Socialist

        If we trust Putin, only 150,000 of the mobilized are now in Ukraine (or what was Ukraine only a few months ago). So for now, whether Surovikin would like to dash over the steppe on a tank or not, he wouldn’t yet quite have the forces to do so.

        On the other hand, Belarus did warn its citizens that there will be a lot of military moving on the roads due to national security reasons. If and when Surovikin unleashes his troops, I’m quite certain there will be movement in Belarus, too, just to force the Ukrainians to look that way, too.

  22. Sutter Cane

    Xi and the CCP squandered the time Zero Covid bought, by not introducing measures to curb airborne spread

    I had been curious why China continued with the guys in hazmat suits spraying disinfectant on the streets, when it was clear by now that wouldn’t do anything against covid.

    Naomi Wu (who I got introduced to via a link here at NC, thanks) speculated that it must be some form of graft – easy to water down the chemicals and juke the stats of what was sprayed or for how long. And it’s an easy visual to show that the government is doing something, even if purely performative.

    I guess the opportunities for graft aren’t as plentiful around manufacturing and distributing N95s?

  23. Wukchumni

    Forest-eating bug spreading unusually fast, posing global threat Al Mayadeen
    Had at least a dozen pines in various stages of dying in the distance looking out my back door in the forest for the trees.

    They succumb from the tippy top on down by the bark beetles messing with the trees vascular ability to push water up to the branch office.

    A 200 foot tall fully newlydead turned out to be 188 feet from the cabin, so it got guillotined, while all the rest further away were mostly halfway down the trunk with a third of the foliage still green-the rest ocher as in its all over. It takes 5-10 years for a dead pine to keel over, so they’re kind of ticking time baums.

    I was hanging out with friends who work for NPS @ Atwell Mill in Mineral King in the midst of the thunderstorm which ignited the 2020 Castle Fire and winds were swirling, and in about a half an hour of being on their deck, we heard at least 40 dead trees from the 2012-16 drought/beetles do in come down in the distance, not a one of them did we see, so yes if a tree falls in the forest and nobody got it on video, like anybody is gonna care on the internet?

    I’ve watched the beetles on tour now for a decade, and its one thing seeing an anonymous looking hillside ravaged by their greatest hits ‘Got to get you into my life’, ‘I saw it standing there’, ‘Till there was you’ and ‘You’ve lost that living feeling’ eat al, but to watch it up close and personal from our skyboxes is no bueno.

    I’m giving this planet 30 years to get its act in order or i’m outta here.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      With just a little rain and darkness our forests become feasts for fungi. Might fungal spore counts replace the tree pollen lost from the air as trees die?

  24. Vit5o

    I’ve been having a bit of fun with GPT, asking for funny short stories when I have to wait in a lobby or something like that. Example:

    Prompt: Can you give me a short story about a cat that went to a night club, written in the style of Edgar Allan Poe?


    Once upon a dreary night, a sleek black cat named Midnight prowled the streets in search of excitement. She wandered into the city, her eyes glinting in the dim light of the streetlamps.

    As she wandered, she came across a bustling night club, the pulsing music and flashing lights drawing her in like a magnet. She slipped inside unnoticed and made her way to the dance floor, where she began to move to the beat.

    Midnight was a natural dancer, her graceful movements drawing the attention of the other clubgoers. They cheered and applauded as she danced, spinning and leaping with the music.

    But as the night wore on, Midnight grew restless. She longed for something more, something beyond the dull thrum of the club’s music. She wanted to explore, to experience the world in all its dark and wondrous beauty.

    So, with a flick of her tail, she slipped out of the club and into the night once more, her spirit free and wild as she roamed the streets in search of adventure.

    And as the night wind whipped through her fur and the city lights danced before her eyes, Midnight knew that she was truly alive, her soul as free and untamed as the very wind itself.

    I can see myself asking for technical support in the future, but for now I’ll keep searching the web for more serious contents. Of course, the implications of all OpenAI creations look shady.

    1. Vit5o

      Sorry, but a follow-up:

      Prompt: Now tell me where Midnight lives and what happened when she got home.


      Midnight was a wanderer at heart, and so she didn’t have a fixed home. She roamed the streets and alleyways of the city, her sleek black fur blending into the shadows as she prowled.

      One night, after a long and adventurous journey, she returned to the city, her mind filled with the memories of all the places she had been and the things she had seen.

      As she wandered the streets, she came across a small, cozy-looking alleyway that she had never noticed before. It was sheltered from the wind and the rain, and there were plenty of trash cans to rummage through for food.

      Midnight decided to make the alleyway her temporary home, and she settled down to rest, her mind still buzzing with the excitement of her travels.

      But as she dozed, she was startled by the sound of footsteps approaching. She peered out from her hiding place and saw a group of rough-looking cats, their eyes glowing in the darkness.

      They were the local street gang, and they didn’t take kindly to strangers in their territory. Midnight knew she had to act fast if she wanted to avoid a fight.

      She gathered her courage and stepped out into the open, her back straight and her tail held high. She faced the gang leader, a fierce tomcat with scars criss-crossing his face, and stared him down.

      To her surprise, the tomcat didn’t attack. Instead, he nodded in respect and said, “Welcome to the alley, Midnight. We’ve heard of your adventures. You’re welcome to stay here as long as you want, as long as you respect our rules.”

      Midnight was relieved and grateful, and she knew that she had found a new home, at least for a little while. She settled into the alleyway, making friends with the other cats and continuing to explore the city and all its secrets.

      Bezzle or not, I’m amused by the mostly harmless aspects of machine learning development.

      1. Acacia

        “Mostly harmless” unless you count how this tech can and will be used to drive vast bot armies, to enforce the narrative, quash dissent by trolling and attacking nay-sayers, to manipulate and gaslight hundreds of millions of people on social media.

  25. Mikel

    Well, there was the NY Times staff and now workers at the ECB:
    (Financial Times article)

    “People are losing faith in this institution,” said Carlos Bowles, vice-president of the Ipso union that represents ECB staff. “What the ECB leadership is telling us is ‘sorry we missed our own inflation target and now you, the staff, are going to pay the price’.

    The song heard around the world.
    In some parts of Europe, their once negative interest on savings is now excess savings.

    Basically, everyone around the world, even if not invested, is paying for the “stonks, crypto, and housing prices only go up” era.

  26. SomeGuy

    Re: who is Moss Robeson – he went on the TrueAnon podcast way back in September 2020 to talk about history of Bandera/OUN-B and Bandera’s influence on modern Ukrainian far-right. Unfortunately episode is behind paywall but worth a listen!

  27. Jason Boxman

    My only direct run-in with Accenture was as a contractor through a byzantine setup such that the actual employer outsourced to Accenture that outsourced to a junk outsourcing shop that I worked for. And my Accenture manager asked me on chat from an office on the other side of the US to escort a laid off coworker out the door and collect that person’s badge and laptop.

    Great guy. Great organization.

    1. flora

      Thanks for the link. The Koch machine (ALEC) has been working toward this goal for a long time, complete with prewritten clauses – aka Model Amendments – for a “new Constitution”. The sales pitch is smooth. The sales pitch is a lie.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      This was linked to a few days ago [12/5/2022]. I read about this, to me, precipitous drop in manufacturing orders from China.
      From the tail of this article:
      “This year, the U.S. has imported more goods from Europe than China – a big shift from the 2010s …”
      “For their part, Europe’s manufacturers battling sky-high energy prices and inflation are increasingly exporting to and investing in the U.S. …”
      The same day this link was posted, there was the link discussing Macron’s visit to Biden. The “Buy American” flavor of Biden’s IRA is one of the things Macron expressed concern about besides expressing France’s and the EU’s “alienation”.

      Something ‘funny’ seems to be going on. Obama made his pivot to Asia almost a decade ago but now of a sudden the u.s. is pulling back on manufacturing orders from China? It is as if some memo went out on channels the general public is not privy to. Macron’s whinging about u.s. protectionism clashes strangely with the new ‘trade’ … and ‘investment’ … going on between the u.s. and EU. How many imports from the EU substitute for Chinese imports even though EU manufacturers are battling sky-high energy prices and inflation? CNBC believes the u.s. should expect “inflation” as a result of these mysterious trade shifts.

      I remain mystified by the EU apparent acceptance of u.s. economic and political policies that — to me — appear designed to cripple the EU. I wonder whether the Elites in the EU may have decided to exploit the coming economic hardships to crush Labor and promote harsh austerity designed to dismantle what remains of socialism in the EU’s social democracies. The tweet that Kristiina December 8, 2022 at 9:34 a references would indicate that someone in the u.s. has profited nicely from off-shoring u.s. industry. Perhaps the EU Elites look forward to similar profits as they off-shore EU industry and squeeze their Populace.

  28. Expat2Uruguay

    Everyone Is Sick Right Now Wired. No mention of widespread immune dysregulation from SARS-CoV-2 itself

    I’m not commenting on the wired article, but on the article that’s linked with the text “widespread immune dysregulation from SARS-CoV-2 itself”:

    I don’t know if this article was linked before, and I’m not familiar with the source, but that article is really scary and I hope some people will discuss it, or at least tell me where there was a previous discussion about it…🙏

    As an aside, cases are finally rising again here in Uruguay, 50% in the last week!

    1. C.O.

      The Tyee is an independent online newspaper based in BC, founded in 2003. They are not completely resistant to the kool-aid and virtue signalling, but they do have a range of reporters and opinion piece contributors amng whom are a proportion of kool-aid refusers and non virtue signallers.

    2. Basil Pesto

      It came up in discussion here when it was first published, if you check links/water cooler from Nov 7/8, maybe ctrl + f Tyee, you should see some discussion about it.

  29. Jason Boxman

    These viruses are sweeping through young children who have no prior exposure to them and no immunity. Older people and the immunocompromised are at higher risk too. Experts aren’t recommending dropping all guards to build immunity. But they do note that social distancing and masking measures played a role in throwing other viruses off their historical patterns. “By doing that, you prevent all these other things that are less infectious typically,” says Mary Krauland, a research assistant professor in the School of Public Health at the University of Pittsburgh. “Over time, people are a little more susceptible.”

    (bold mine)

    So by that logic, everyone should get a mild case of food poisoning from salmonella every once in a while. Of course, we have policies in place to avoid that, because it’s f**king insane. So why is it okay with airborne pathogens? (A hint, because markets…)

    And there’s no “immunity” of any noteworthiness to these airborne diseases. In a sane world we’d strive to avoid any infections in the population from these viruses.

  30. jrkrideau

    Go Slow on Crimea
    “Ukraine’s liberation of the city of Kherson at the beginning of November was more than just a dramatic military victory. ”

    I am always left in bewilderment when I read something like this. Are the authors just being told to crank out stupid propaganda or are they so detached from reality that they actually believe this sort of nonsense?

    It is really terrifying to think that much of the US political eLITE could really believe that Ukraine is winning the war and is a hairsbreadth away from capturing Crimea.

    What happens if and when reality sets in?

  31. farmboy

    “It’s sausage, not steak.” “Renewable energy will be at the center of the $500 billion farm bill discussion (not to mention whatever happens on major energy bills).

    Meat companies will run pilot programs on methane. Grain traders will receive incentive to get farmers to grow cover crops in winter. Crop insurance will sweeten cover crop subsidies. Corn ethanol will be protected. Hog houses will go solar with a spiff from Uncle Sam.

    In return, Democrats in control of the Senate will insist that Republicans lay off food programs.”
    Art Cullen on the farm bill. He says Ag might be one of the only areas that Congress in the next session will be work together on. He lays out the possibilities and probabilities and ends with “Sure, it’s greenwashing. Sure, we’ll burn bushels of cash on ill-thought schemes. It’s also a real step forward if we’re planting more grass along the river and between the rows.”

  32. ChrisPacific

    The whole ChatGPT response amounts to what I think of as a non-answer answer, which is sadly very common in interview situations. It could very well be technically correct but it tells you nothing about how well the person actually performed the task or whether they added anything of value. It indicates they know at least something about about the subject (perhaps they took an online course) and can describe the basic steps involved. There are one or two tells that would suggest the person is out of their depth:

    “The code also utilizes constants and enums to define useful parameters and values”

    is roughly equivalent to a mechanic saying that wheels are used to hold a car up.

    Follow-up questions I might ask to dig for signs of intelligent life:
    – What system did you replace? What problems did it have that you were trying to improve on?
    – Why did you choose LogisticRegression? What made you think it would be a good classifier in this case?
    – How was your training data set constructed? What deficiencies does it have, in your opinion?

    A genuine Senior Data Engineer should be able to answer each of these at length and offer informed opinions, demonstrating intelligence and insight in the process – and they ought to be able to do it live, demonstrating knowledge consistent with what they’ve written down beforehand.

  33. Karl

    RE: How Biden and Buttigieg Could Deliver Sick Leave To Rail Workers (The Lever)

    The most potentially viable idea in this article (to me) is the recent (June 2022) rule making, pursuant to the Rail Safety Improvement Act, requiring railroads to come up with “safety risk reduction programs,” including “fatigue management plans” to reduce the risk of safety hazards arising from worker fatigue. They have to provide these plans by mid-2023. Interesting quote:

    DeFazio and Payne argued that railroad fatigue management plans that don’t ensure workers can take time off when sick shouldn’t be approved by the FRA [Federal Railroad Administration]. “We believe that attendance policies that not only contribute to fatigue but also penalize workers for taking off when fatigued or ill simply cannot coexist with any serious fatigue risk management program,” they noted.

    Course, DeFazio isn’t around any more, and his House Transportation Committee will now be chaired by a Republican in the new Congress. But I wouldn’t be surprised if Buttigieg and Biden told the railroads “do something about this, and we’ll take the heat to force the workers back to work.” Now a “Fatigue Management Plan” could mean “we’ll do sick leave in 5 years” but I suspect Biden and Buttigieg–if they have good survival instincts (?) — will have demanded much more. Like “we want to see you provide sick leave starting in 4Q 2022.” This will make it look like the railroads made the decision and will get some modicum of credit.

    Isn’t this how politics in DC works nowadays?

  34. Karl

    National Defense Authorization just passed in the House (350 – 80).

    Biden’s initial defense budget request: $813 billion
    House Armed Services Committee version: $839 billion
    Senate Armed Services Committee version: $847 billion
    Final version, just released: $859 billion

    The $37.7 Billion for Ukraine is not in this package. It may be passed later in the Lame Duck session or in the next Congress.

    $10 Billion is authorized for military aid to Taiwan over 5 years.

      1. Karl

        “In the name of national security?” A lot gets covered up under that rubric.

        Total disgrace, yes, but no one was going to do anything about Ginni’s racket anyway. All this does is spare her the embarrassment of disclosure. The big question, is why are Democrats willing to help Ginni and Clarence keep an obvious ethical conflict secret? What was the trade? And what further mischief is Ginni up to?

        Next: Members of Congress and their spouses will be protected from having to reveal their stock trades in the name of national security.

    1. Karl

      Looks like the Donetsk People’s Republic flag.

      A display of the infantilism of the leadership (?) class that the Aurelian essay talks about.

      1. The Rev Kev

        They are actually a group of Ukrainian activists, led by comedian-turned-volunteer Sergey Pritula wiping their feet on the Donetsk People’s Republic flag with US officials cheering them on. I thought too of the the Aurelian essay at the absence of old fashioned values in officials such as dignity and gravitas-

        It would be like a group of Russian activists wiping their feet on the Alamo flag in front of cheering Russian Duma members.

  35. LawnDart

    This means war: you can steal my women and ride my horses, but don’t F with my food!

    A bridge too far?

    USA multinationals and the aparthied state of Israel team up to bring the world to the edge of oblivion:

    Pizza Hut Israel’s new kunafa pizza upsets Arabs and Italians

    Palestinians have reacted with deprecating humour online, joined by Italians who also say that the twist on the pizza is “insulting”.

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