Links 1/20/2023

Where the Bison Could Roam NYT

The Calls for More Progress on Space Governance Are Growing Louder RAND Review

Davos

Billionaires at Davos don’t think COVID is a cold The Gauntlet. Commentary:

Guidance on Health Measures (PDF) World Economic Forum. WEF adopts a “Swiss Cheese,” layered strategy:

(Let them wash their hands as if fomite transmission were a thing; it can’t do any harm). We saw yesterday that not only did WEF have HEPA filters everywhere, they also brought in outside air. Commentary:

* * *

Martin Wolf: in defence of democratic capitalism Martin Wolf, FT. Surely “democratic capitalism” would allocate capital democratically?

Globalization Isn’t Dead. But It’s Changing. WSJ

Sleepwalking on Megathreat Mountain Nouriel Roubini, Project Syndicate

World Economic Forum’s global risk report: A devastating picture of the capitalist crisis WSWS

Climate

Climate Change Is Now Coming for the Elite Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

France votes to ban deep-sea mining in its waters: Why is this practice so controversial? Euronews

Study shows advantages of charging electric heavy-duty vehicles with small modular nuclear reactors Tech and Science Post

#COVID19

SARS-CoV-2 variant biology: immune escape, transmission and fitness Nature. From the Abstract: “The increased virus fitness associated with VOCs is the result of a complex interplay of virus biology in the context of changing human immunity due to both vaccination and prior infection. In this Review, we summarize the literature on the relative transmissibility and antigenicity of SARS-CoV-2 variants, the role of mutations at the furin spike cleavage site and of non-spike proteins, the potential importance of recombination to virus success, and SARS-CoV-2 evolution in the context of T cells, innate immunity and population immunity. SARS-CoV-2 shows a complicated relationship among virus antigenicity, transmission and virulence, which has unpredictable implications for the future trajectory and disease burden of COVID-19.” “Unpredictable implications” = not endemic.

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Who Gets Long COVID and Suffers its Mental Health and Socioeconomic Consequences in the United States? Preliminary Findings from a Large Nationwide Study (preprint) medRxiv. n = 153,543. ” An estimated 14.0% of adults aged 18-84 y (35.11 million adults) and 15.5% of working-aged adults aged 18-64 y (30.65 million adults) had developed long COVID by November 2022. Several sociodemographic and socioeconomic factors predicted long COVID including lower household income, being aged 30-49 y, Hispanic, female, gay/lesbian or bisexual, and divorced/separated. Even after accounting for such factors, having long COVID was linked to higher risks of recent unemployment, financial hardship, and anxiety and depressive symptomatology, with evidence of dose-response relationships. Overall, an estimated 27.7 million US adults aged 18-84 y and 24.2 million working-aged adults with long COVID who had been or may still be at risk of adverse socioeconomic and mental health outcomes. Lost work was further calculated to be the equivalent of 3 million workers annually, and the estimated annual lost earnings due to long COVID among working-aged adults totaled $175 billion.”

Persistent SARS-CoV-2 infection in patients seemingly recovered from COVID-19 Journal of Pathology. n = 27 post-mortem autopsies. “Despite apparent virological remission, lung pathology was similar to that observed in acute COVID-19 individuals, including micro- and macro-vascular thrombosis (67% of cases), vasculitis (24%), squamous metaplasia of the respiratory epithelium (30%), frequent cytological abnormalities and syncytia (67%), and the presence of dysmorphic features in the bronchial cartilage (44%). Consistent with molecular test negativity, SARS-CoV-2 antigens were not detected in the respiratory epithelium.” Hmm.

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Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness against SARS-CoV-2 infection among long-term care facility staff with and without prior infection in New York City, January–June 2021 (accepted manuscript) Journal of Infectious Diseases. n = 7,763. “We conducted a retrospective cohort study of LTCF NYC resident employees from December 21, 2020, through June 5, 2021.” From the Abstract: “Two doses of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine reduced SARS-CoV-2 infection risk by ≥80%, and for those with prior infection, increased protection from prior infection alone. These findings support recommendations that all eligible persons, regardless of prior infection, be vaccinated against COVID-19.” “Should” ≠ “must.” Fortunately.

Reasons for Receiving or Not Receiving Bivalent COVID-19 Booster Vaccinations Among Adults — United States, November 1–December 10, 2022 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, CDC. n = 1,200. “An online opt-in survey of 1,200 previously vaccinated U.S. residents found that the most common reasons for not getting a bivalent booster dose were lack of awareness about eligibility or availability and overconfidence in immunity; reasons varied by age group.” Now, why would that be?

Highly pathogenic avian influenza A(H5N1) virus infection in farmed minks, Spain, October 2022 Eurosurveillance

Syraqistan

Israel’s Hard-Right Turn Fails to Raise Alarm in US Media FAIR

Dear Old Blighty

Protection for me, but not for thee:

Not only that, but the UK’s Ministry of Defense knew #CovidIsAirborne in 2020, and acted on their knowledge. The City of Newton, MA, did exactly the same, also in 2020 (“How Ashish Jha and Rochelle Walensky of Newton, MA Protect Their Children from Covid (But not Yours)“).

Levelling Up 2023: Wirral miss out on £12m, PM’s constituency gets £19m in ‘strategically awarded’ funding Liverpool World. That’s our Tories:

China?

China announces lunar new year censorship crackdown to silence Covid ‘rumours’ Guardian. “Chinese cyber authorities have announced an internet censorship crackdown to ensure there are no “gloomy sentiments” caused by pandemic “rumours” during the lunar new year festival.” That could never happen here. Oh, wait….

China says critical COVID cases have peaked as holiday travel surges Reuters

Relatives angry as Covid kept off Chinese death certificates: ‘What are you trying to hide?‘ FT

I don’t know why we don’t do this:

New Not-So-Cold War

CIA director holds secret meeting with Zelensky on Russia’s next steps WaPo. Not very sekrit! “Top of mind for Zelensky and his senior intelligence officials during the meeting was how long Ukraine could expect U.S. and Western assistance to continue following Republicans’ takeover of the House and a drop-off in support of Ukraine aid among parts of the U.S. electorate, said people familiar with the meeting.”

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U.S., allies ramp up pressure on Germany to send tanks to Ukraine Politico. The deck: “Berlin has said it won’t transfer its tanks, or give other European countries permission to do so, until the U.S. sends its own vehicles.” Unreasonable?

‘They have us over a barrel’: Inside the US and German standoff over sending tanks to Ukraine CNN

Oh, Come On!! Andrei Martyanov, Reminiscence of the Future

* * *

Normalizing fascism:

The Maidan coup, a CIA professional’s view:

ACURA ViewPoint: Guest Post by Branko Marcetic: Diplomatic Cables Show Russia Saw NATO Expansion as a Red Line American Committee for US-Russia Accord.

South of the Border

In Peru, protesters pour from remote Andean regions, demand president resign NBC. “Pour” like a formless, undifferentiated, menacing (and dark) mass. How come cops and bourgeois politicians never “pour”?

Peru’s natural resources: CIA-linked US ambassador meets with mining and energy ministers to talk ‘investments’ Ben Norton, Geopolitical Economy Report

Biden Administration

By the numbers: President Biden at the two-year mark AP

Biden’s Mid-Term Report Card Foreign Policy

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Why the White House is refusing to negotiate on the debt ceiling The Hill

McConnell: US ‘never will’ default on its debt The Hill

A crisis years in the making Axios

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Supreme Court investigators fail to identify who leaked Dobbs opinion SCOTUSblog

US Supreme Court takes on the internet FT

The Bezzle

Crypto lending unit of Genesis files for US bankruptcy Channel News Asia

Qantas Airbus A380 superjumbos: Rattlesnakes cause problems for engineers maintaining planes in desert storage Traveller

Boeing

Boeing ordered to be arraigned on charge in Max crashes AP

Realignment and Legitimacy

Kshama Sawant will not seek reelection to Seattle City Council Seattle Times. The headline butchers the story: “Instead, after serving on the council for a decade, Sawant will focus on helping launch a new national labor movement called Workers Strike Back.” Please, somebody tell me Sawant isn’t an aspiring liberal Democrat.

The fringe ideology of “constitutional sheriffs” is attracting believers within Texas law enforcement Texas Tribune

Guillotine Watch

Billionaires once united in visionary project now feuding over claims of ‘inexperienced management’ CNN

Class Warfare

Staying the Course to Bring Inflation Down (speech) Lael Brainard, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System

Amazon hit with OSHA citations at 3 facilities due to ‘ergonomic hazards’ for workers FOX

How Restaurant Workers Help Pay for Lobbying to Keep Their Wages Low NYT

The Story of Palm Oil Is a Story About Capitalism Jacobin

Sometimes a Little Bullshit Is Fine: A Conversation with Charles Simic The Paris Review (AL).

Antidote du jour (via):

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.

105 comments

    1. SufferinSuccotash

      Barbarians were always “pouring” into the Roman Empire, too (of course they were most often trickling in after making agreements with the Romans).

      Reply
  1. griffen

    Mitch McConnell on the US debt ceiling and negotiations. While true, the US must never not ever default on its debt, the potential outcomes are much more entangling should, I write should, a default occur. A few commentaries from CNBC yesterday, to quote Davos Man (Morgan Stanley’s version) the US economy, the US debt and US currency basically underpin the global economy. From atop the mountain all good things must flow. I am paraphrasing what he said, but the implication was well we are the de facto standard for global trade and global finance in the simplistic of terms. I predict we get a few “harrumphs” about entitlement spending and maybe a smidge of “defense spending cuts” but they’ll shove the debt ceiling goal post a little further into the red.

    Reply
    1. t

      Mitchell should also never go into his garage, fire up a chainsaw, and saw all his furniture in half. Or paint himself blue. Or any of a zillion things that are entirely unlikely and not worth discussing.

      Reply
    2. chris

      I’m sorry to say but I agree with our hosts on this one. I think the war in Ukraine + the latest document dumps + Dear Hunter’s laptop = “Grand Bargain”

      Biden wants to run again and wants to be seen as relevant to do that. He needs something on the domestic front that voters actually care about to do that. He doesn’t want to help people really, but he does want to help his wealthy constituents. So I think he’ll give us a “Congratulations! We’ve eliminated the debt ceiling issue for the next 10 years and we’ve reduced everyone’s retirement age to 73…” type of announcement. And when us horrid lefties complain the administration will have KJP say that there’s no pleasing these leftist rebels. Meanwhile, the Republicans will be arguing over why they didn’t also get a provision to allow police to collect organs from living illegal immigrants to sell to their wealthy backers. And they’ll use that as a reason to never negotiate again…

      Reply
    3. skippy

      “US must never not ever default on its debt”

      The Disheveled in me reads it as US must never not ever – stiff – its Creditors[tm] …

      I mean in days of yore it was always a case of the rich funded the Government, hence property rights too it, which then transmogrified into job creator memes and low or nil taxation, heck front load that – !!!!!! – now the economic meme editing room floor is strewn with abandoned past catch phrases and ideological hot button terms ….

      For all the grandstanding I ponder what the international investor makes of it …. I mean the nutters have evolved a bit like covid over the years …. only interested in infecting everyone else regardless of the bodies dropping …

      Reply
  2. LawnDart

    Re; Qantas Airbus A380 superjumbos: Rattlesnakes cause problems for engineers maintaining planes in desert storage

    Yeah, that was a thing in South-East Asia as well, although we didn’t know it… until we saw a flight engineer scrambling in a mad-panic away from the wheel-well of one of our aircraft during preflight. That the airstrip was surrounded by jungle might have had something to do with it.

    Don’t know if it was venomous or not: he said that it was actually coiled around the strut, big and black, with him not knowing what it was until he touched it and it moved and hissed at him.

    I decided that this was one checklist item that I could skip that morning.

    Reply
    1. griffen

      It is not limited to airplanes in storage. There are stories about professional golfers, mostly on foreign tours, getting snake bitten or finding a slithering guest curled with their golf equipment. I can say from first hand experience any snake on a golf course is reason enough to skip finishing that hole. Same for alligators. It’s amateur golf and I refuse risking life and limb.

      Reply
      1. Questa Nota

        Wonder if there are local rules about snakes and other living hazards. Maybe some codicil in the Mulligan rough? Does the course marshal dispense anti-venom along with cold beverages?
        Could lead to some excitement and live-streaming opportunities for a reality show. /s

        Reply
        1. Laura in So Cal

          Just standard operating procedure for everyone in these parts. Never put your hand down into a woodpile, rockpile, or piece of equipment not in current use without making a ton of noise, kicking it with a booted foot, and doing a visual inspection. You don’t only have to worry about snakes and scorpions. You really don’t want to be bitten by a rodent that chose it as a nesting place. Rabies is always a possibility.

          Reply
          1. digi_owl

            Reminds me of a story told by some that moved to south east Asia to work for a number of years. One thing that had to quickly become routine was to shake their shoes each morning, just in case something dangerous had taken up residence there over night. Gives new reason to adopt sandals, i suspect.

            Reply
    2. The Rev Kev

      The key bit was where it said-

      ‘While there is also an aircraft storage facility here in Australia, near Alice Springs, the Mojave desert location is more convenient for Qantas as the airline has engineers based in Los Angeles, just two hours’ drive away.’

      So because of globalism and cost-cutting, it supposedly looks good on paper to store our aircraft some 13,000 kilometers (8,000 miles) away while not investing in our own engineers. Qantas is depending on somebody else’s platform here.

      Reply
      1. Questa Nota

        Flying over that Mojave site, or the one by Davis-Monthan Air Force Base by Tucson, is kinda weird. Rows and rows of jets with very little observable activity. What stories those craft could tell, before and after mothballing.
        Kindred spirits, after a fashion, of the ghost ships at Suisun Bay.

        Reply
        1. digi_owl

          As i understand it, they sit there, either complete or partially dismantled, so that Russian sats can see and count them. I suspect there are some similar field to be found on the Russian tundra. As i understand, they came to be as part of some disarmament treaty.

          Reply
      2. LawnDart

        If I’m not mistaken, the Brown Tree Snake hitched a ride to Guam from Australia, likely on a military transport, where it thrives in its new home

        Couldn’t you guys have sent something a little nicer or more adorable, perhaps some koala bears?

        Reply
        1. digi_owl

          That’s just Oz playing tit for tat, given the number of debilitating additions to the fauna it has gotten over the centuries.

          Reply
  3. griffen

    Two year victory lap for the Biden administration, if that is what we are calling it. Curious it lists a $24 billion outlay for this foreign country, but I just do not recall the American voters being asked what we thought. Oh well, for another day.

    The ending paragraph tells all that we need to know. Secretary of Transportation, whom we affectionately call Mayor Pete, remains in the building. Pete is still putting the fine touches on an elaborate plan to run for President again I am sure of it. For most of us mopes, failing upward is typically not a career path.

    Reply
    1. Robert Gray

      > Two year victory lap for the Biden administration …

      Kamala very happy lady this day has arrived. You know that in her mind there isn’t the slightest doubt that she can win two terms of her own. Now, with Brandon past half-way, he can go at any time and she can still have those two, plus the remainder of his. Just think: 10 years of Harris! Well, you know and I know that there is 0% chance of that happening but as the turmoil of modern times continues to show us on a daily basis, there are true-believers out there for any and every crackpot scheme. :-)

      PS: Where is the Veep nowadays, anyway? Kind of invisible …

      Reply
  4. The Rev Kev

    ‘The Kyiv Independent
    Exclusive: Meta told the Kyiv Independent that the U.S. tech giant, owner of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, no longer designates Azov Regiment as a “dangerous organization.”
    Meta to allow publishing content about the Azov Regiment and its members.’

    The normalization of Nazis continue. Well, maybe not everywhere. So earlier this week you had a bunch of nutjobs give a Nazi salute here in Oz-

    https://www.news.com.au/national/victoria/news/neonazi-group-performs-hitler-salute-in-disturbing-photo-at-melbourne-lookout/news-story/8dc5e8a50e4e40c5d4a45cde362a7a4e

    People hit the roof and the next day there were a number of raids on Nazis here in Oz. And yet, the same people remain oblivious that we are arming actual Nazis with our own military gear. In fact, a contingent of Aussie soldiers have just been sent to the UK to train Ukrainians for combat. It’s like how in “1984” you were expected to be able to hold two contradicting thoughts in your mind at the same time. Crazy.

    Reply
    1. Stephen V

      Are the Aussies going to train them to operate tanks as well? Per Col. MacGregor this isn’t even the biggest problem. Besides expertise, from where are spare parts going to come for five different types of tank? Making this latest foofaraw, just another grift. Save for the fact that thousands will continue to perish needlessly.

      Reply
      1. The Rev Kev

        It gets better with those tanks. Any servicing or repairs will have to be done in Poland which is about a thousand kilometers away from the front lines. So that would be like the American army having to fight on the US east coast but then having to send their tanks to Des Moines, Iowa to be serviced or repaired and then returned to the US east coast again.

        Reply
        1. Stephen V

          Thanks Rev. I FORGOT the punchline! No matter what happens with tanks–it will not make a damned bit of difference to the eventual outcome.

          Reply
          1. Tom Bradford

            To the eventual outcome, no, but I’d imagine the Russians will be delighted for the opportunity to take a couple of Challenger 2’s apart, learn anything to be learned from the tech and identify all the weak spots and vulnerabilities. I hope they’ll remember to send a ‘thank you’ note to No. 10.

            I suspect this is plays a large part in the US’s entirely sensible decision not to gift them a couple of Abrams to play with

            Reply
        2. XXYY

          I assume there will be damn all left to repair after Ukrainian tanks are hit by Russian artillery and missiles. Assuming they even make it to the front lines, that is.

          Reply
      1. flora

        Always loved that scene because they had Henry Gibson, 5’3″ Henry Gibson in the role of the nazi leader. Little man nazi.

        Reply
    2. flora

      An aside, and only a shadow of an idea, not even a fully thought out idea, but here goes.

      There was some discussion of WWI the other day. Tactics, strategy, leaders who can’t encompass new realities, etc. One of the new realities the old generals and admirals in WWI couldn’t encompass at the beginning of the war was that all sides were now industrial countries that were producing materiel on an industrial scale. The warring nations weren’t fighting sub-armed colonial uprisings. The old leaders were still thinking in terms of bayonet charges and the side that runs out of materiel first surrenders in a battle. All sides in WWI had their own versions of maxim guns, machine guns, that worked with no pushback in the colonies in Africa, SE Asia and the subcontinent where the uprisings had no equal armament. In WWI all sides had that materiel. The materiel conditions of war had changed and the generals didn’t factor that into their calculation. And so, trench warfare and a long slog.

      That’s enough prelude to my idea about the Ukr thing. It may have started as one thing with one strategy but it’s turning into something else. I don’t think sending a few tanks or missiles here and there – a materiel consideration – is the actual war the US is trying to fight now. I think it’s a data, computer, AI modeling war the US is trying to fight. Musk’s starlink satellites, smart phones everywhere on both sides tracking locations and movement, AI analyzing and modeling tactics and maybe strategy. The NSA and other outfits have said often enough the “next war will be a data and disinformation war.” Materiel alone without good guidance is not really effective. If that’s what’s happening, I wonder if the RU and CH armies have the same capabilities that the West does not know about? Are UR and CH still using western computer programs or have their armies developed their own operating systems and softwares? Does the US/west think it has new computer weapon the other “side” does not have? You get the general idea.

      Reply
      1. digi_owl

        There have been talk about Russian designed CPUs and Linux based operating systems some years back, to get them away from western suppliers. But as i understand it, the hardware in particular lag what is coming out of Intel and AMD (not to say that Intel is at their best lately).

        Reply
        1. Old Jake

          Don’t forget, the ultra-long development process and lifetime of military equipment means everything they use is long out of date by the time it reaches the battlefield. Though this is less true for things like satellites which may have a service life of as few as months in low Earth orbit (but many years if geosynchronous). RU may well have more modern equipment in the field than NATO. Less bribery and featherbedding etc.

          Reply
  5. Quentin

    Ultimate woke has finally been realised: ‘Nazi liberation’. When? Now: sanctioned and sponsored by Zuckerberg and Zelensky!

    Reply
  6. Eric Anderson

    Sleepwalking on Megathreat Mountain Nouriel Roubini, Project Syndicate

    Apparently world renowned smart guy Roubini needs to bone up on his William Gibson. Sci-fi readers have long known of the coming Jackpot. As to ‘democratic capitalism’: to my mind the terms are antithetical. Even saying the words out loud together feels like rubbing 80 grit sand paper over glass.

    Funny that pairing ‘democratic’ and ‘socialism’ doesn’t seem to produce the same result.
    Democratic capitalism — get the (family blog) outta here.

    Reply
    1. AllanW

      Surely the phrase ‘democratic capitalism’ refers simply to the voting you can buy? In which case it is a perfectly accurate term for most western governments …

      Reply
      1. Questa Nota

        Now on sale, along side that irradiated, PFAS encrusted jumbo shrimp.
        Located just down the aisle from the saline syringes.

        Reply
      2. hunkerdown

        It refers to a capitalism in which anyone can theoretically own property and, with it, the right to command others. In such systems, people are expected to make up their own property. To paraphrase Minsky, politics is the process of getting it accepted.

        Reply
  7. hunkerdown

    Workers Strike Back… was the name of one of the whinier PMC attack groups that spammed r/antiwork several times per day before the Fox News appearance. A labor movement fragmented by narrowcasting is better than no labor movement at all, from elites’ perspective.

    Reply
  8. Glossolalia

    “Top of mind for Zelensky and his senior intelligence officials during the meeting was how long Ukraine could expect U.S. and Western assistance to continue following Republicans’ takeover of the House and a drop-off in support of Ukraine aid among parts of the U.S. electorate, said people familiar with the meeting.”

    Well Zelensky should take comfort from the fact that we continued to spend money hand over fist in Iraq and Afghanistan for years after support for it among the U.S. electorate dropped off and regardless of who controlled Congress.

    Reply
  9. The Rev Kev

    “Israel’s Hard-Right Turn Fails to Raise Alarm in US Media’

    Right now if Israel leaned any more to the right, it would fall over into Afghanistan. The worse of it will be for ordinary secular Israelis and I would not be surprised to see more than a few of them head offshore. I really don’t know how far these religious nutjobs want to carry it. Will women disappear from public life and all those Israeli women in the military be let go and told to go back to the kitchens? Will gays be discriminated against and forced to also go overseas? I thought one part in this article cute-

    ‘One former Supreme Court chief judge, Aharon Barak (Financial Times, 1/8/23), “likened the plans to the attacks on judicial independence carried out by authoritarian governments in Poland, Hungary and Turkey.’

    I’m sure that he may have wanted to say the Ukraine but even in Israel Ukrainian Nazis are being normalized. I predict dark times for Israel ahead. More so as they have been put on the back-burner by the US. The US had 300,000 155mm artillery rounds stored in Israel, not only for their own use but also for the Israelis if they went to war again. Well the US is sending half of them to the Ukraine which means that the US regards the Ukraine as more important than Israel right now.

    Reply
    1. Offtrail

      The worst of it will not be for “ordinary secular Israelis”. The worst of it will be for Palestinians, both citizens of Israel and those under occupation.

      BTW, isn’t it telling that when anyone talks about “ordinary Israelis” they always mean ordinary Jewish Israelis? That has always given the lie to the notion of Israel as a democratic multiethnic state.

      This is not a broadside at you, RevKev. I appreciate your point of view on this issue.

      Reply
  10. zagonostra

    >Biden’s Mid-Term Report Card – Foreign Policy

    Interesting metaphor, “Report Card.” And the teacher? Is it an informed citizenry, those who represent the interest of common people? Ha! I say to your “20 experts,” we don’t need no education.

    To help us assess the highs and lows of Biden’s term at the halfway mark, Foreign Policy asked 20 experts to grade his performance across 10 foreign-policy topics.

    Biden remained firm on principles and did not fall for Russian negotiation traps in the run-up to the war. His strategy of making intelligence on Russia’s war preparations public was a crucial and creative innovation.

    The Biden administration deserves high marks for sustained focus on China and the Indo-Pacific despite Russia’s war in Ukraine…

    We don’t need no education
    We don’t need no thought control
    No dark sarcasm in the classroom…

    All in all, you’re just another brick in the wall…

    If you don’t eat yer meat, you can’t have any pudding
    How can you have any pudding if you don’t eat yer meat?
    You! Yes, you behind the bike stands
    Stand still, laddy!

    Reply
  11. LY

    Palm oil produces significantly more oil per acre of land than other crops. It is also grown in areas less suitable for soy bean, canola, etc. Also note that demand is now driven by India and China. Certainly the palm oil investment is coming from China into Malaysia and Indonesia.

    And it also ties into the earlier post about biofuels.

    Reply
  12. Eric Anderson

    https://www.axios.com/2023/01/20/debt-ceiling-crisis-obama-republicans

    “5. The U.S. defaults: Moody’s chief economist Mark Zandi predicted in 2021 that a default “would cost the U.S. economy up to 6 million jobs, wipe out as much as $15 trillion in household wealth, and send the unemployment rate surging to roughly 9% from around 5%,” according to WaPo.”

    Sure seems like a mighty handy way to bring down inflation and blame the rising unemployment on the evil “rethuglicans.” And yet, Yellen calls minting the coin a “gimmick.”
    Seems to me defaulting is the real gimmick. Entirely in line with the gimmick party who we undeservedly call Democrats.

    Reply
  13. The Rev Kev

    “‘They have us over a barrel’: Inside the US and German standoff over sending tanks to Ukraine’

    I’m thinking that the real reason that the US does not want to send M1 Abram tanks to the Ukraine is that they are afraid than a coupla will end up on display at the Central Armed Forces Museum in Moscow. If you want to keep up the sale of M1 Abrams tanks to overseas customers, that might lead to some embarrassing questions that.

    Reply
    1. Louis Fyne

      IMO, one of the stealth revolutions from the war: the ubiquity of cheap commercial drones (whether Geran or surveillance drones) has fundamentally altered the role of the tank, particularly when paired w/the ubiquity of high-quality anti-tank weapons.

      Tanks can’t smash through an (established) enemy line like Patton in a Hollywood movie. To be safe, tanks have to work with infantry. This has somewhat been the case ever since 1918 but 100% panopticon-like capabilities from drones pushed the need of infantry support to the extreme

      US tanks are vulnerable dinosaurs, barring a revolution in US tactics. (Russian tactics have evolved since February.)

      Reply
  14. LawnDart

    Re; ‘They have us over a barrel’: Inside the US and German standoff over sending tanks to Ukraine

    It’s not like the Germans aren’t aware of what happened the last time they sent tanks in Moscow’s direction… …jeeze.

    Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      Aaaww, c’mon. That last time you had German tanks fighting Russians to aid Ukrainian Nazis whereas this time you have, errr, ummm, nevermind.

      Reply
      1. LawnDart

        A deindustrialized Europe, a Marshall Plan II, and US economic domination for decades to come?

        It all makes sense now…

        Reply
  15. Eric Anderson

    https://www.federalreserve.gov/newsevents/speech/brainard20230119a.htm

    So, inflation persists and the labor market continues to be tight with unemployment at all time lows and wages rising at half the rate of inflation. I believe there’s another factor at play here I’ve heard none of the big brains consider. The baby boomers are fleeing the labor market for retirement in droves. At the same time, the baby boomers hold the lions share of wealth. As of Q4 2021, Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964) controlled almost exactly half (50.3%) of all US household wealth, per the latest figures, equating to about $71.6 trillion in wealth.
    Which leads me to a question: what happens when the baby boomers, no longer part of the labor market, continue to spend that significant wealth in the face of everyone still in the job market continuing to struggle with low wages. The quick answer in my mind is — nothing good. However, I’d love to hear from those more economically savvy.

    Reply
    1. JTMcPhee

      Evidence for Boomers spending that inflated wealth and thus damaging all those youngsters fighting their way out poverty induced by wage suppression?

      A whole lot of Boomers are, or are on the way to, eating —I was going to say “cat food,” but check the price rise of cat food, and are getting priced out of their homes by inflated real estate taxes caused by climber-induced hyper pricing of “housing stock.”

      Who is the common enemy “we” mopes of all ages ought to be fighting, again?

      Reply
      1. Eric Anderson

        Oh, I totally agree w/r/t “our” common enemy. I pointed no fingers and am fighting no one. My comment simply made an economic observation, and I’m still genuinely seeking a purely economic response to what readers might think the impact.

        Reply
    2. MaryLand

      Boomers will be spending their “accumulated wealth” on medical bills soon enough if they haven’t already started down that path. While their heirs may be hoping for a financial boost from their passing, the money flows inexorably to the “health care system.”

      Reply
      1. Eric Anderson

        Yes, I think you’re right as far as many are concerned unfortunately.
        But, no matter how unfortunate, that money still spends and is factored into our insane GDP figures.
        How will that impact the economy as a whole. Or, more accurately, are economists factoring in that impact given the inflation reduction strategies of yore, as applied to totally different demography.

        Reply
    3. FREETHINKER

      Observing the conduct of boomer siblings with children, significant wealth has been, or will be, transferred to offspring.

      Reply
  16. LawnDart

    I’m not sure whether this could fall under “The Beezle,” Water Cooler’s “Old Blighty,” or both, but in terms of an exquisite aroma, a barnyard aficionado who wears waders and carries a shovel cannot fail to appreciate this, a most excellent article:

    Britishvolt’s collapse seen as ‘an unmitigated disaster’ for UK auto industry

    UK startup Britishvolt’s decision to call in the administrators strikes a major blow to the country’s hopes of building a home-grown battery industry.

    https://europe.autonews.com/automakers/britishvolts-failure-disaster-uk-auto-industry

    Reply
    1. c_heale

      This reminds me of DeLorean and other scams. When I first heard about this, I was expecting it to fail. The people I’m sorry for are the people of Blyth, because it’s an area of high unemployment – like most of the North East UK.

      Reply
  17. Carolinian

    “No regrets” Biden.

    Nevertheless, after days to hunkering down with this aides and polls, Biden decided to stick with total and absolute denial of regret or responsibility. It is not a surprise for many of us who have following Biden and his family through the years. I wrote at the start of this scandal that Biden’s ” silence is hardly surprising. Biden has always been better at expressing revulsion than responsibility. Time and again, he has literally rushed before cameras to denounce others, often without basis, for alleged crimes. He has not waited for investigations, let alone trials.” When it has come to his own alleged misconduct, Biden will deflect, deny, but rarely declare responsibility.

    https://jonathanturley.org/2023/01/20/i-have-no-regrets-president-biden-breaks-long-silence-with-shattering-admission/

    Lack of remorse and a tendency to blame others is taken in the criminal justice world as a sign of a sociopathic personality. The armed robber shot the convenience store clerk because the clerk failed to take cash out of the drawer fast enough. It was his fault. One has to wonder whether Biden has ever admitted to being wrong about anything.

    Reply
    1. Questa Nota

      Bidet fancies himself a latter-day Samson, ready to take down the temple.
      Or was it fancying himself Ozymandias, then despairing of not getting enough pudding before nap time?
      He could achieve a type of notoriety for future history books, where people were wishing ardently for stuff to just happen already and get it over with. Maybe that is his strategy after all? /s

      Reply
  18. The Rev Kev

    “The Calls for More Progress on Space Governance Are Growing Louder”

    Depends on what they mean by ‘governance.’ Are they talking about laws formulated under the United Nations or are they talking about the so-called Artemis Accords? It says-

    ‘There are no international laws against blowing up a satellite and putting a space station at risk. There are, instead, a handful of treaties and agreements meant to encourage good behavior and cooperation in space.’

    This is quite true but how would you go about having an agreement made? You really need the US, Russia and China at least negotiating an agreement but I am not sure that this is possible. What if Russia & China said that we can’t have billionaires sending up tens of thousands of satellites as it is dangerous. Would the US agree or side with corporate interests? The article mentions too that a European satellite was on a potential collision course with a private SpaceX satellite but implies that the SpaceX had ‘right of way’ or something. Really? In any case, there is no trust anymore and unless you have that, no treaty will endure. I fear that this will all only end with a Kessler syndrome meaning that mankind will lose access to space for centuries and a lot of today’s technology will no longer work anymore as the satellites will have been shredded.

    Reply
    1. jefemt

      I’m still checking my mailbox every day for the royalty checks from Elon for his use of my share of the heavens for his Starlink network.

      So far- spiderwebs and tax notices.

      Reply
  19. Henry Moon Pie

    Palm oil, capitalism and civilization–

    This book review includes a fascinating history of the uses of palm oil. Who knew? It’s been used for everything from lubricating steam engines to hand soap. The book reviewed, Max Haiven’s Palm Oil: The Grease of Empire, is really about capitalism and how it exploits, pollutes and distorts everything it touches:

    Ultimately, palm oil epitomizes the trickiness of apportioning blame for the violence of capitalism. “Local landowners and plantation managers point to pressures from above,” Haiven writes, “while corporations plead ignorance or helplessness for what happens deep in the jungle.” We consumers can no more avoid palm oil than we can avoid cobalt, another substance that is quietly vital to modern life (essential as it is to lithium-ion rechargeable batteries, those that power cell phones and laptops), but that is mined by child laborers enduring execrable conditions. We can no more avoid palm oil than we can avoid Amazon, which not only ships a massive proportion of consumer goods but also owns the very architecture of the internet itself.

    So this capitalism is omnipresent, at least coextensive with humanity, and that’s not surprising considering that capitalism, after all, is a human concept and creation. So as bad as capitalism is, and especially its neoliberal manifestation, maybe the problem goes deeper. Tom Murphy is a physics professor who also authors a popular blog, “Do the Math.” Murphy has made the attempt to “go deeper” by analogizing humanity’s time on the Earth to the span of one human lifetime. As this analogy drives home the point that humanity’s experience with fossil fuels is very recent compared to humans’ time on this planet, Murphy probes the question of just where did we go wrong:

    Since our civilization is not built on a foundation of sustainable principles, it is no surprise that we find it now to be utterly unsustainable. Unsustainable means certain failure, by the way. Thus, our civilization was custom-built for failure. Congratulations. The unfolding story just transpires over enough life spans that it all seems gradual to us as individuals, and therefore does not feel pressing or inevitable based on our narrow direct experience. In hindsight, I suspect it will be forehead-slapping obvious—to the point of making us look rather dull-witted.

    I like flight analogies here. A rock is not designed on the aerodynamic principles of sustainable (indefinite, level) flight. A rock can nonetheless become airborne, follow a graceful and exhilarating arc through the air, but then certainly plummet back to Earth. Likewise, our civilization—also not founded on principles of sustainability—can soar upward for a time (during our inheritance spending spree) and seem like great fun—giving its paying passengers tremendous satisfaction for a time. Patiently waiting for us is Earth and planetary limits.

    The professor is not grading on the curve here. But, like Graeber and Wengrow, he finds that there’s room for some optimism:

    An important aside is that this condition is not intrinsic to the human animal. Most of our life on this planet has not been characterized by a smash-and-grab rampage. That’s our new trick for the last 15 weeks, recently perfected and at fever pitch. Dazzling! We can learn other tricks—take up new hobbies that don’t wreck our lives and those of our loved ones (i.e., other species): slow, thoughtful hobbies rather than this frenetic one.

    Reply
    1. skk

      A few years ago I was gobsmacked to read about the hydrogenated version of palm oil, sold in India in my childhood in the 50s, 60s under the brand Dalda. Totally ubiquitous, it seemingly cheaply substituted for ghee, clarified buffalo milk butter.
      Marketed under license from Dutch Uni Lever by a Mr Dada, as daLda, in recognition of the UK Corp Lever bros. Mann, who,s seen Port sunlight in Merseyside a company town of the Lever Brothers.
      Indeed cook in Dalda and you release the stench of colonialism/capitalism/imperialism.

      Reply
  20. PlutoniumKun

    Study shows advantages of charging electric heavy-duty vehicles with small modular nuclear reactors Tech and Science Post

    Study shows the advantages of charging EV’s with unicorns.

    Reply
    1. JeffreySmith

      The nuclear power industry, i.e. weapons makers, is helping fund the promotion of electric cars and trucks, the promotion of “climate crisis”, eliminating natural gas supplied homes and financing politicians like Newsom, who extented the life of Diablo Canyon when he was just a smaller apparatchik on the State Lands Commission and later as governor.

      https://www.latimes.com/environment/story/2022-04-29/california-promised-to-close-its-last-nuclear-plant-now-newsom-is-reconsidering

      Reply
    2. Paradan

      You know why they’re always excited about small modular nuclear reactors? Its because a small 10Mw reactor is the kind of thing investors can finance “safely”, as in their money is safe. It’s a product that can be mass manufactured, and then sold to municipalities that take out a permanent loan to finance it. Along with mandatory safety checks done by the company, (cause , you know, trade secrets) to score even more rent. Of course if there ever was a problem you can bet your rear end that the contract the city signed wont hold the company liable for clean up, cause that’s a DOE issue. It’s not a useful employment of nuclear power, it just pretends to be.

      Reply
      1. Tom Bradford

        Isn’t the West about to ban itself from buying nuclear fuel from Russia, despite the fact that the stuff doesn’t exactly grow on trees?

        Reply
    3. Karl

      But, but…you can mass-produce modular reactors! And unicorn reactors will come with unicorn waste storage!

      Modular reactors require the same “balance of plant” systems, including cooling pools for spent fuel and all the attendant risks. Then you have all of the same NRC regulatory overhead, NIMBY lawsuits, etc. Just for a 10 MWe plant? In short, all economies of scale lost.

      But DOE is enthusiastic! Imagine, removing and transporting a “hot” 10 MWe reactor from your local charging station when it’s time to be replaced. What could go wrong?

      BTW the Koreans and French can get installed nuke plant costs down to $2000/KW but nowadays the U.S. can’t get below $10,000/KW. The “American Way” of high large project construction, and “kick the can” politics on nuclear waste storage, dooms nuclear power as an option.

      But these studies will continue to be made, luring young people into nuclear engineering careers that will never repay their student loans.

      Reply
    4. c_heale

      This was something proposed back in the 1950s if I remember correctly. They obviously have no new ideas. I don’t expect the transition to renewable fuels to happen.

      Reply
  21. semper loquitur

    Trigger warning for the debunker mob:

    Renowned medical researcher, inventor, legitimate skeptic, and UFO experiencer Professor Gary Nolan in a wide ranging interview on UFO’s which includes discussions of his analysis of metals purportedly left behind by craft, how he is working strategically to bring the topic into the mainstream, and the growing interest in UFO’s amongst high-powered scientific thinkers:

    Expanding Our Understanding On UAP Technology – with Scientist Garry Nolan | Merged Podcast EP 1

    As news of UAP (Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena or UFOs) encounters begin to enter mainstream media, we are being encouraged as a collective to not look the other way any longer. On this first episode of the Merged Podcast, we explore the impact of UAP Sightings on the scientific community, and how we can study this technology to innovate our current systems on Earth.

    Garry Nolan discusses the path forward for studying and legitimizing UAP research, and why he sees this as a possible “commercial gold mine”. He shares his perception on the impact this will have on society, and the danger of continuing to keep this information secret from the public.

    https://youtu.be/rx2x_w5wimk

    I will say I don’t share his enthusiasm for the commercialization of any knowledge gleaned from UFO studies….

    Reply
    1. Mildred Montana

      >”I will say I don’t share his enthusiasm for the commercialization of any knowledge gleaned from UFO studies….”

      Neither do I. Not that I dismiss the existence or reality of UFOs, presumably of extra-terrestrial origin. But any “knowledge” gleaned from UFO studies is likely to be as useful as theories produced by the first humans on the plains of Africa 400,000 years ago when they contemplated the sun and moon, lightning and thunder, and tried to explain them. Of course in vain.

      Barring the science-fiction-only event of a “crash”, the reverse-engineering of the craft, and the water-boarding of any surviving occupants to extract further valuable information—barring that impossibility, poor primitive benighted Homo Sapiens is doomed to continue in its ignorance of the phenomena for a long, long, long time.

      “High-powered scientific thinkers” notwithstanding.

      Reply
      1. semper loquitur

        If Bob Lazar is to be believed, we have been trying to retro-engineer some of the technology we happened upon for decades. Every few years they drag it out, then inevitably put it away to await our technology getting good enough to try begin to understand it. And when I say happened upon, I am referring to at least one story I heard in which it appears a craft was left for us to find intentionally. Lazar also spoke of one of the craft he saw at the site he worked at as having been taken from an archeological dig…

        In another interview with Lex Friedman, Nolan discusses the possibility that the “Others” are harvesting our DNA. Perhaps we our in the midst of a breeding program designed to up our cognitive abilities. There is, Nolan relayed, a correlation between “experiencers” and intelligence. Hopefully, this will all be completed before ’24…

        Reply
        1. LifelongLib

          If we’re lucky with respect to alien technology, we’ll be like a caveman trying to understand a digital watch.

          If we’re not we’ll be like an ant next to a freeway.

          Reply
  22. Jason Boxman

    The debt ceiling ‘fight’ is emblematic of just what degenerate scum liberal Democrats actually are. The statutory debt limit is a bright red stop sign, an event of such seminal importance, every liberal Democrat with a pulse must be aware of it. And yet for two years, nothing was done about raising the limit whilest the “next FDR”, Biden, and liberal Democrats controlled both houses of Congress.

    It’s difficult to conclude other than liberal Democrats act in bad faith. There’s no surprise that, given the opportunity to engage in brinksmanship over raising the limit, Republicans will try, as they did with success under Obama, to whack social programs. These are programs that, despite lived experience, liberal Democrats nonetheless claim to support. Claims that are demonstrably false, such as for example with the largest increase in child poverty in history under Biden, but claims nonetheless made.

    At least Republicans are honest about their intentions. Social programs, bad. I can at least respect that. But liberal Democrats. Scum.

    Reply
    1. Nikkikat

      I really have to grit my teeth when I think about this debt ceiling crap coming up. The memory of Obama and his grand bargain burns in my brain. I really hate to ever hear his name mentioned, him and his Hollywood written speeches. That guy was one effective evil after another. Orange man pales in comparison.

      Reply
    1. Karl

      In the past Biden has said entitlements need to be on the table for budget cuts.

      I don’t recall him ever expressing the same “adult” view towards military spending.

      Reply
  23. polar donkey

    Hello, 911. I just backed my EV Hummer into a nuclear reactor charging station at the 7/11 parking lot. The reactor seems to be melting through the parking lot and creating a hole. Does the fire department handle meltdowns or is that a federal government jurisdiction?

    Reply
  24. KFritz

    Re Sheriff’s, Constitutional & Otherwise

    It’s a structural/institutional quirk of the United States that makes our Sheriffs the major problem they are. In most of the United States, Sheriffs (not Deputies) are an elected political law enforcement officer, and not directly subordinate to the elected and executive officials of their respective counties. Strictly speaking, they don’t have to obey any other county official. Aside from flagrant violations of law which would draw state or federal enforcement action, they can do as they wish as long as their term of office lasts, or until the voters get rid of them. Since most people who seek elective office enjoy wielding power, it’s not surprising that Sheriffs like to believe that they’re the highest power in their bailiwick.

    According the Wikipedia article “Sheriff,” elected law enforcement exists nowhere else in the English speaking world (or Iceland, which has something akin to Sheriffs).

    Several google searches produced no explanation for how Sheriff became an elective office in these United States. Elected Sheriffs resemble the Electoral College–dangerous, hard-to-get-rid-of institutions. Connecticut got rid of its Sheriffs in a 2000 state referendum.

    https://www.middletownpress.com/news/article/Connecticut-voters-decide-to-abolish-11939612.php

    Reply
  25. JBird4049

    >>>Where the Bison Could Roam NYT

    Just wanted to mention that just like the bison help create a healthy prairie ecosystem, adding predators like wolves, probably mountain lions, maybe bears as well, especially in the Eastern United States would greatly help control the tick population; the predators not only control prey like deer, they change their behaviors; the predators also affect the populations and behaviors of other predators as well; all these changes make a less hospitable environment for ticks, which reduces their numbers.

    By killing off all the mountain lions, bears, wolves, and coyotes people changed the pattern of plant growth making happy ticks some generations later (along with climate change as well)

    Reply

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