Links 2/17/2023

Huge monitor lizard causes chaos at college dining hall (Video) New York Post (furzy)

Connecticut Considers an Apology for 17th-Century Witch Trials New York Times (Dr. Kevin)

For the First Time, Genetically Modified Trees Have Been Planted in a US Forest New York Times

Mass death of sea lions from bird flu suggests virus may be spreading between mammals in the wild EL PAÍS (Paul R)

Forget nuclear war or global warming: America is still ‘fundamentally unprepared’ for zoonotic diseases – the biggest threat to humankind, says analysis by Harvard and NYU Daily Mail

Why Smart People Believe Stupid Things Gurwinder (Anthony L)


Long Covid causing job losses and homelessness in Australia, inquiry hears Guardian


The world won’t decarbonise fast enough unless renewables make real money Economist

Colorado ponders storing carbon in defunct oil and gas wells PhysOrg


Pentagon’s top China official visits Taiwan Financial Times

Joe Biden defends Chinese balloon handling, vows to ‘remain in communication’ with Xi Jinping South China Morning Post

The Biden National Security Team Keep Tweaking the Chinese Dragon’s Tail and Are Playing with Fire Larry Johnson

Australians Aren’t Allowed To Know If There Are American Nukes In Australia Caitlin Johnstone (Kevin W)

European Disunion

European Parliament chiefs block public scrutiny of von der Leyen over Pfizer contract Politico (Kevin W)

Old Blighty

Sunak gamble on sealing Brexit deal spurs warning from Eurosceptics Financial Times

British union announces fresh rail strikes over pay dispute Anadolu Agency

New Not-So-Cold War

Ukraine war: Zelensky rules out territory deal with Putin in BBC interview BBC

The Moment of Greatest Danger William Schryver

Ukraine is burning through ammunition faster than the US and NATO can produce it. Inside the Pentagon’s plan to close the gap CNN. MSM admission against interest.

On Ukraine, is Biden signaling that ‘as long as it takes’ may have an end-date? Responsible Statecraft


Digging deeper on Iran’s new underground air base Asia Times (Kevin W)

Revealed: the hacking and disinformation team meddling in elections Guardian (Robin K). Israelis!

The Disgraceful Death of Harun Abu Aram Haaretz

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Forget Milk and Eggs: Supermarkets Are Having a Fire Sale on Data About You The Markup

ChatGPT Is Ingesting Corporate Secrets Bruce Schneier

Imperial Collapse Watch

If our military cannot crush any country of our choosing tomorrow, are we really Britain? Daily Mash


White House brushes off Haley’s call for mental competency test The Hill

Fetterman checked himself into hospital ‘to receive treatment for clinical depression,’ office says CNN

Georgia grand jury: ‘Perjury may have been committed’ in Trump election probe Washington Post (furzy)

Unimportant Flying Objects

Hobby Club’s Missing Balloon Feared Shot Down By USAF Aviation Week (Li)

Did Joe Biden shoot down hobbyists $12 balloon with a $380,000 missile? Daily Mail (BC)

Zelenskyy aide says Russian balloons part of aerial assault DW

Palestine Chemical Bomb

Railroaded Doomberg

Fury Grows Over Ohio Chemical Disaster as Biden Offers Help Bloomberg. Lead story.

Railroad workers confirm “nasty” toxic train “broke down” two days prior to crash in East Palestine, Ohio WSWS

The Ohio Derailment Catastrophe Is a Case Study in Disaster Capitalism

Our No Longer Free Press

Conspiracies are the price of freedom Unherd

Dominion sued Fox News for $1.6 billion. Internal documents show the tech company is only worth $80 million at most, Fox says. Business Insider. As we’ve said, defamation cases are hard to win, particularly if Dominion has to meet an “actual malice” standard. But Dominion could also win and get chicken feed in damages. Harry Shearer once won a defamation case and was awarded $1.

Police State Watch

Lawsuit: Alabama Inmate Froze to Death After Guards Placed Detainee Inside Jail’s Walk-In Freezer Sputnik (Anthony L)

The Bezzle

Judge Signals Jail Time if Bankman-Fried’s Internet Access Is Not Curbed New York Times. Pissing off the judge is not smart.

SEC Charges Do Kwon, Terraform With Fraud In Connection With Terra Collapse CNBC

Calm Before the Storm: Is UK’s Financial Watchdog Gearing Up for Enforcement Action? CoinDesk

Tesla to recall nearly 363,000 cars over self-driving software flaw Financial Times

Tesla’s FSD [Full Service Driving] Revenue May Get A Reversal Francine McKenna

DocuSign To Lay Off 10% of Its Workforce CNBC

Class Warfare

CBO warns of sharp uptick in Social Security, Medicare spending The Hill

Tesla Fires Dozens After Workers Announce Union Campaign, Complaint Says Bloomberg

Formerly Incarcerated People Seek Discrimination Protection as “Protected Class” Truthout

Antidote du jour. Tim H: “Here be Georgeous on the right and Munchkin on the left. Brothers from a rescue centre that have graced the household since April 1 last year…”

And a bonus:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Antifa

    (melody borrowed from Eleanor Rigby by the Beatles)

    Ahh look at all the wide-eyed people
    Ahh look at all the wide-eyed people

    JFK Junior
    We called him John John and wept at his tiny salute
    He was so cute
    His body double
    Died in a plane crash one summer but John wasn’t there
    He’s out there somewhere

    All the wide-eyed people
    Where do they all come from?
    All the wide-eyed people
    Where do they all belong?

    JFK Junior
    He’s gonna clear out the swamp creatures up in DC
    Donald and he
    People have pictures
    He was seen up on the grassy knoll only last week
    So much mystique

    All the wide-eyed people
    Where do they all come from?
    All the wide-eyed people
    Where do they all belong?

    Ahh look at all the wide-eyed people
    Ahh look at all the wide-eyed people

    JFK Junior
    Wandering through Dealey Plaza unseen by his fans
    Collecting cans
    Doesn’t look sober
    Bearded and ragged and shouting about Davy Jones’
    Skull and crossbones

    All the wide-eyed people
    Where do they all come from?
    All the wide-eyed people
    Where do they all belong?

  2. Ignacio

    RE:European Parliament chiefs block public scrutiny of von der Leyen over Pfizer contract Politico (Kevin W)

    As per the article it is not exactly the European Parliament blocking it but just the heads of the parliamentary groups and the President of the same organization. All of these guys are as close to their electorates as the Moon from the Earth but it seems arm in arm with the Commission. It is clear the position of an Institution created to give a resemblance of democracy to the EU is indeed utterly disconnected from the electorates and quite probably from real life. Another brick in the EU-wall.

    Once upon a time I was pro-EU. No longer. Not without an intense reform that will never come true.

    1. Anonymous 2

      Be careful what you wish for. Brexit shows that the most probable alternative to the EU is falling living standards, together with a move towards the far right: restrictions on voting, restrictions on strikes, restrictions on the right to protest, restrictions on investigative journalism to protect the rampant corruption in high places in the UK. At present the UK government is seeking to impose real wage cuts on public sector workers , including health workers, as the government finances have been badly damaged by Brexit.

      If the choice is between the current state of affairs In the EU or a move towards fascism, which do you choose?

  3. Wukchumni

    Gooooooood Mooooooorning Fiatnam!

    The platoon had taken a beating when out on a loan range patrol, daydreaming of negative interest rates where they’d in essence pay you for borrowing money from them, when all of the sudden we blundered into an old battlefield in the War On Cash…

    Sweetgreen Restaurant was an early adversary going cashless a decade ago, but the eatery with an awfully close dead presidents sounding name saw the error of their ways when stealthy coinmandos launched raids demanding to pay all in lower denomination money in what some are calling a backlash against a backlash against a backlash, can’t metal & paper co-exist against a mutual foe, and besides there has been no formal declaration of any War On Coins as far as I know.

    There were busted credit card terminals scattered akimbo, a few of which I had to weave around in making my way to the cashier and proffered a Jackson for the salad bar and got no grief from an obvious veteran who did time on the front line, and related to me that she had nothing to do with it, she was just following orders.

    1. skk

      SweetGreen ( SG) has been one of my dependable shorts since its IPO in Nov 2021. Down 82% from peak ( 50s down to 9.18 ). Down a hefty 6.6% today, though that only equates to 65 cents. I couldn’t see how a self-serve open food-platters salad bar justified a rich valuation in the days of COVID, HN-51, monkey-pox and on and on.

  4. mrsyk

    “The world won’t decarbonise fast enough unless renewables make real money”. Really? There will be no solutions to our existential crisis if we keep maintaining profit as a mandatory criterion to the solutions.

    1. Realist

      My prediction is: as areas start to get overwhelmed and become uninhabitable because of climate change and rising tides, the people still enjoying safety will be programmed to roll their eyes and say, “why didn’t they move?”… Until popular opinion for a world war of conquest and extermination to secure the remaining areas can be conived by the Davos Men. Need to get the folx on board because those cannons are not going to feed themselves.

      1. chris

        Yes. But the eye rolling will be tempered by those screaming at the global south that they can’t move HERE.

          1. Bsn

            Yes, be realist. There will (soon) be no “ultimate inhabitable area”. People seem to think that temperature rise will, for some inexplainable and indefensible reason “level off”. Do people think that high temps will just stop at 120 F, for example. No. They will increase to 125, 130, 140 ……..

            Eventually, even moving to the north pole won’t give relief. Unless radical change happens, we’re on the way to a Venus type planet. Have a nice day.

  5. The Rev Kev

    “Ukraine war: Zelensky rules out territory deal with Putin in BBC interview”

    This guy is really a monster as much as a psychopath. By refusing to negotiate, he is ensuring that what is left of his country will be ravaged even more. They are already sending 16 year-old kids to the meat-grinder and earlier today I saw a clip of young, uniformed girls in a bus singing as they apparently too left for the front. He is not doing it for pride or because he thinks that they will win. I think that for him that it is all about the money. And even with the examples of the Kurds and the Afghans not that long ago, he still thinks that the west will stick with him to the end. And saying that he won’t negotiate with Putin as there is no trust is a bit rich and is just projection. Maybe he is too close to Victoria Nuland and listening too much to what she says. She was just saying that the Ukraine must get all its territory back again and at a minimum ‘Ukraine is not going to be safe unless Crimea is – at a minimum, at a minimum – demilitarized.’ Yeah, good luck with that one. But because of people like him, the Ukraine is being put through hell all for the benefit of other people.

    1. JohnA

      The idea of Crimea being demilitarised is interesting. One of the biggest reasons for the 2014 coup was for the US to take over the Russian naval base in Sevastopol. Were in the extremely unlikely event Ukraine/NATO to ever recapture Crimea, I expect the first US move would be to militarise the naval base there.

      Nuland is beyond creepy. She is evil personified.

      1. Louis Fyne

        Russia would rather hypersonic-missile NATO HQ in Belgium or Ramstein Airbase in Germany (or both) than give up the ice-free port in Crimea.

        Assumimg no nukes, at a barebones, the force required to conquer Crimea would need every US active and reserve combat soldier/airman in the world sent to Europe.

        and in the time needed to ship everyone over, every major NATO seaport would be destroyed by Russian missiles.

        truly WW3-level stuff. hope and chance for you folks, brought by your friendly chickenhawk DC Dems.

        1. chris

          Hey, why not leverage climate change into militant positivity!

          We can take Crimea and pay big US contractors to build for Russia what will soon be war water ports on the Arctic coast! Everyone wins…

    2. JohnA

      The interview is by BBC veteran reporter John Simpson, a longstanding Russophobe. Interestingly, he was asked just before heading to Kiev, if he wished to comment on the Hersh Nord Stream sabotage story. Er no, he replied, that was outside his area of expertise.
      I wonder if Sir Kier Stürmer flew on the same plane with the BBC. He too has been in Kiev this week, cuddling up to Zelensky and claiming the whole of Britain is united in support of his regime.

    3. Keith Newman

      @Rev Kev, 7:38am
      Zelensky, his wife and family will be killed if he does otherwise. He was elected with 73% of the vote by promising to come to a deal with Russia. Accordingly he went to the Donbas and forced the Ukrainian troops to back off from their anti-Russian posture. He was immediately told by the head of a large far-right militia group he would be hanged from a tree in Kiev if he did that again. The US did nothing to protect him. The message was clear: be anti-Russian or die.
      Videos of Zelensky with the troops and the interview with the militia leader were freely available when they happened. I watched them.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Yeah, I saw that video. Zelensky could say what he wants but those nationalist soldiers knew who really gave the orders – and they weren’t in the Ukraine. Zelensky isn’t exactly the bravest man in the world in spite of all the propaganda. I heard that last year that Zelensky was hiding in a bunker but got the Israelis to get a promise from the Russians that they wouldn’t kill him in a meeting. Seriously. The Israelis did that and rang him to tell him whereupon Zelensky came out of his bunker and started to threaten Russia and Putin. The Russians probably rolled their eyes.

      2. Stephen

        Exactly. Zelensky is not a free agent in any form. I believe that nowadays every public utterance is cleared with his US handlers first. They are paying for the whole show, they get to decide. South Vietnam is the best analogy I can think of, although the puppet Afghan government may have been similar.

        1. Keith Newman

          @Rev Kev and Stephen, 10:09
          Totally agree with you. My point really is that he’s just a puppet and while initially he may have wanted to do what he had promised, today he and his family will be killed if he does not obey. What are his options? Embrace his anti-Russian role, resign for health reasons, or be killed.

    4. paddy

      usa’ problem: fruitcakes running the blob are dangerous.

      who would trust them with the safety of small town ohio, much less allow them to run a burglar game with russia and thermonuclear war!

      usa is not suited to play the “mad’ game.

      1. LifelongLib

        After Vietnam, TPTB decided the American people were a bunch of wimps who wouldn’t go along with the measures necessary to protect their freedom. That’s why every war since has been fought by professionals or by proxy. The “fruitcakes” think they’re the ones qualified to make the tough decisions the people are too soft for.

    5. Lambert Strether

      > They are already sending 16 year-old kids

      I think the sourcing on that is a little bit sketchy. This week’s 16-year-old story is from TASS, sourced to the head of the DPR. An earlier story, sourced to a Ukrainian general, says all men under 60. As of last year, Ukraine was already drafting 18-year-olds. Men aged 18-60 cannot go abroad. If the origin of the story is the image of a draft notice circulating on Telegram, a Ukrainian anti-disinformation site (I know, I know) has reservations.

  6. griffen

    Far be it from me to offer side chair advice from afar; I have no need to make even the slightest fun of anyone facing depression. Lingering thought, one has to wonder what is the toll of running for an office and winning that office, especially in the US Senate. This PA dude, Fetterman, just doesn’t seem well and that could have been the case since last summer.

    Meanwhile, we have octagenarians like Feinstein finally throw in the towel and retire. I guess lizard people do have a long shelf life!

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Meanwhile, we have crazy uncle “president” joe shooting balloons out of the sky with billion dollar warplanes and multi-million dollar missiles while preparing to “run” for 4 more years of performing his dementia on the world stage.

      People used to complain that Donald Trump’s presidential persona was internationally “embarrassing” for the mighty world’s greatest country. This biden insanity is next level.

      1. fresno dan

        so lets say some tourist German girl goes to a toy store, and buys 99 balloons – blue – OK, OK – red.
        actually in today’s political climate, blue and yellow. And we spend 380,000$ shooting each one down.
        So that would be….??? to shoot them all down. OK, lets just make it an even 100. So that would be 38,000,000$ – well, considering how much we spend on defense, its scarely a rounding error. I say a small price to pay from the menacing balloon threat.

        1. Wukchumni

          fresno dan, that’s merely the Broken Window Of Opportunity economy model, with its, er ballooning cost.

        2. Paul Jurczak

          You have described a plan to take down an empire with asymmetric warfare or peaceware if you look at it from a different angle.

    2. Offtrail

      I have had clinical depression, and it is a terrible burden. It interfered with my ability to perform at my relatively low level job. It’s sobering to think of how it might affect the work of a US Senator.

  7. Wukchumni

    Mass death of sea lions from bird flu suggests virus may be spreading between mammals in the wild EL PAÍS (Paul R)
    Covid was kind of like a duck & cover drill compared to what H5N1 is capable of doing, with chokepoint charlie being supermarkets.

    If you can swing it financially and more importantly space-wise, consider buying a year’s worth of food per person to have on hand so you can avoid going to the supermarket and/or something akin to the 7 Ill Years perhaps, as we’ve already had 1 massive volcano go off in Tonga-disrupting weather greatly, imagine what a couple more could do?

    Think of it as an insurance policy of sorts, but this only applies to those who eat.

    Should bad ju ju not happen happen, donate it to your food bank as the use by dates come close, and it goes from being an insurance policy against hunger & infection to morphing into a donation.

    1. thousand points of green

      Well-canned food in cans can be safe to eat long after the ” best consumed by” date. I am still eating my way through Brunswick sardines that were dated as ” best consumed by” December 2015 and they still seem perfectly good to me.

      And if any were to seem bad upon opening, I wouldn’t have to just throw them away. I have a garden I can feed them to.

  8. The Rev Kev

    “Bottlecap Balloon Brigade – an Illinois hobby group – claims its $13 weather balloon last pinged near Yukon on February 10 – hours before F-22 brought down UFO in SAME area with $400k missile’

    Biden has got a reputation for having a mean, foul temper and I would guess that after coping all that criticism for shooting down that Chinese balloon only after it had traversed the country, went ballistic and demanded that the Pentagon shoot down any balloon that they coul find. And now he has had to go out in public and admit ‘We don’t yet know exactly what these three objects were, but nothing right now suggests they were related to China’s spy balloon program or that they were surveillance vehicles from any other country.’ Yeah, it makes the US look ridiculous but more to the point, when the Ukraine starts to collapse and grandpa gets angry again, what will he tell the Pentagon do this time?

    1. griffen

      I think we’ve entered into unmarked territory, or what I would term “WTF is Next” era of government leadership and the elitist circle of friends groupthink. And so you know, only the best and brightest can weigh in and be included !

      It’s confirmed. We can take out and render useless anything airborne & balloon like. Joe Biden in his current capacity makes Gov. Lepetomane seems quite credible ( I keep shouting out Mel Brooks reference, because well why not ?). We’re moving closer to the treatment of the insane gambler.

      1. fresno dan

        It’s confirmed. We can take out and render useless anything airborne & balloon like.
        Why does it have to be balloon like??? There are these biological entities, feathered OR furred, that can be trained. Think Day of the Dolphin, but with flying, flapping critters… So these biological flying entities, endoctrinated to be fervent, suicidal Marxist Kamikazi flying death machines, imperil us DAILY.
        TINA – we have to take them all out.
        OMG – I forgot bugs
        We’re gonna need more missiles…

    2. JW

      By any reasonable measure its already collapsed. Its lost a fair percentage of its population, its economy is now forecast to be less than 50% of its size at the end of 2020, its infrastructure is being decimated.
      However the US and the UK/EU tax payers will ‘contribute’ to its rebuilding , making a few very rich people even more rich; after they have made the same people richer through their investment in MIC.
      Besides a few first and second generation Jewish Ukrainians in US ‘getting their own back’ on Russia, is this about anything else?

      1. Louis Fyne

        No, it is about nothing else—except the Establishment being consumed by its own propaganda, pride-hubris, and sunk cost fallacy.

        In the end >200,000 Ukrainians will have died for nothing. And lots of folks in DC will say, like that certain 1930’s – 1940’s German leader, that the Ukrainians and Europeans failed DC, not the other way around.

      2. Polar Socialist

        ‘getting their own back’

        They should know that the pogroms happened almost all in the areas of Ukraine and Poland. In the Russia proper there really were not enough Jews to harass.

        Now, getting their own back on Ukraine, all of a sudden that could actually make sense, given how things seem to be progressing.

        1. chris#5

          PS, that is what I have been thinking for a while. What love do Nuland or Blinken have for Ukraine? Could be one of the very many vectors pushing this conflict along.

          1. synoia

            One should follow the money.

            Dp Blinkin and Neuland have interesting investments?

            And others in the Blob?

    3. .human

      I don’t follow anything the way that I once did. What’s the point? Have I missed the conclusive evidence that the first “balloons” were of Chinese origin?

      1. Mildred Montana

        You haven’t missed anything and, by the way, don’t bother following the balloon stories. Such media and MIC confabulations are why the TV remote control was invented. As long as they’re floating in the air and then purportedly shot down, they’re fodder for the “news”. If and when the wreckage is found however…well, that’s “classified”. No more need for the public to know anything.

        Talk about “Orwellian”. The balloon stuff is positively “Roswellian” and should be treated as such. In other words, ignored.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Come to think of it, they never displayed what package that first balloon had. If it was a spy balloon, wouldn’t they want to show the world that they were right?

    4. Pelham

      On this subject, I’ve been skeptical of reports that the wreckage hasn’t been recovered. But if the Yukon “wreckage” is these kids’ balloon, there wouldn’t be much of a trace on the ground — which is probably fine with the Pentagon. OTOH, maybe the military will fabricate evidence of something potentially more sinister. In any event, I’m just about ready to tune out on this topic.

  9. britzklieg

    Ret. Admiral John Kirby (he of the colorful pocket protector) serving as Coordinator for Strategic Communications at the National Security Council in the White House :

    “I barely have a history degree from the University of South Florida.”

      1. petal

        That was fun to watch Kirby squirming. You could feel the burn and pain. Moar, please! That is how you do it. Lee better watch out or they’ll take his press pass, and “find” something to put him in prison for or force the AP to fire him.
        @britzklieg, I heard that and thought “Yeah, that’s obvious.” even though he was trying to put Lee in his place with the “my major was better than yours” quip.

    1. JohnA

      Interestingly, when he was a spokx for the Obama presidency, I once heard him claim ‘I barely have a geography degree from the university of south florida’. Clearly he can barely remember what he even majored in. At the time, he was wrapping himself in knots about the term ‘boots on the ground’ and whether this actually referred to footwear on solid earth.

      1. britzklieg

        LOL!!! I grew up next door, in St. Pete, and whereas the University has upped its game a bit in recent years (with WUSF always a great classical (and a bit of jazz) radio station), having any degree from usf, especially during the years the admiral must have attended is… how might I put this… undistinguished.

  10. pjay

    – ‘Why Smart People Believe Stupid Things’ – Gurwinder (Anthony L)

    Thanks for posting this. Political psychologists have been pointing out for a long time that confirmation bias toward strongly held beliefs is greater among those more highly educated (or more “intelligent” – however that is measured). Most of the time, though, in articles like this the examples of motivated reasoning are of “fashionably irrational beliefs” among *conservatives*. It’s nice to see the tables turned here. The author also acknowledges how difficult it is to recognize our own cognitive biases (Matthew 7:3 always comes to mind). Anyone remember Chris Mooney’s popular book ‘The Republican Brain: The Science of Why They Deny Science – and Reality’? What a delightfully biased title! Sounds so quaint today.

    1. jhallc

      Just finished reading it and In the slightly modified words of another smart guy – ” I have met the enemy…. and it’s me”.

      1. Aleric

        Yes, one of the unintentionally funniest articles I have seen recently. Thesis is that intelligent people are prone to confirmation bias on politically contentious issues, second half is an unhinged rant on a politically contentious issue.

        1. pjay

          Actually I agree with you on that point. Still, it is enjoyable to see the argument turned back on the usual perps. And the main points are valid.

    2. paddy

      “And since the means by which the goal is selected is distinct from the means by which the goal is pursued,”

      in system engineering we establish ‘constrained objectives’ to pursue in design decisions,,,,,,

      you can maximized a ‘performance” subject to a not to exceed “cost constraint” (don’t even get into ‘life cycle’ versus ‘cost to procure’ as in dod weapons)

      or you can minimize “cost” subject to some acceptable “performance”..

      the selection makes for very different actions!!

      what values?

      i doubt where the biden blob puts ‘not blowing up the world’ in their goal selection models,

      big ‘if’ they use models or logic.

      well, we have been free of mean tweets for over 2 years!

  11. griffen

    Ohio derailment and disaster capitalism. Ever since I first read the Hunger Games, I thought the book and the film serve as a great analogy of where developments in this country were leading to. I hate to be overly stark and cynical, but this derailment happened in a portion of the country best described as flyover. These derailments, to my knowledge, aren’t happening on K street or Pennsylvania avenue, they aren’t happening near Wall and Broad either. So it isn’t that shocking, honestly, to learn on the US television this morning that Norfolk Southern was absent for a recent town hall meeting. No corporate individual could be roused to show their face to the public.

    But hey we just had a spectacle for professional sports fans in the US desert, with a riveting Super Bowl. And soon we’ll get college basketball tournaments, professional league playoffs for NHL and NBA respectively, and so on. Let the bread and circuses continue.

    1. Wukchumni

      I’m not claiming the derailment wouldn’t have happened if they had used Rearden Metal instead, but it feels more Atlas Shrugged to me.

      Capable people of all ranks get raptured…

      1. Questa Nota

        Under-maintained railroad tracks, this year’s version of under-maintained power line rights-of-way.
        One gives you derailments, the other seemingly random forest fires.

        PG&E and SoCalEdison customers in California were on the receiving end of those. It wasn’t that long ago that the gas side of the former’s networks suffered a catastrophic maintenance issue in the Bay Area. Investor-owned utilities. Thanks, investors, for the rate increases and safety decreases.

        If CalPERS is also involved, that would be the crapification trifecta.

    2. Martin Oline

      I was confused by the article Railroad workers confirm “nasty” toxic train “broke down” and so I read it twice and found no answer to what actually happened in the jargon. The term ‘break down’ has a second meaning when used in regards to the railroads. I worked in a ‘rehabilitation crew’ in the 70’s so this information is dated and once removed as I was never a switchman. Trains as a unit are made up and broke down. Made up in yards by the engine(s) moving back and forth with the ends guided down the many side tracks and connecting the various cars that will create the train. Usually they were put together in groups that facilitate their delivery, i.e. cars with the same destination are grouped together in the train. When a train is ‘broken down’ at the destination, the engines move back and forth with the switchman standing at a point in the yard where there is a slight elevation in the track. He uncouples the car(s) as they reverse and the inertia of the uncoupled cars carries them down through the switches to the line in the yard where they are supposed to be. I found no place in this article that showed the actual quote whether the workers were speaking of the cars being ‘broken down’ (bad or dangerous condition) or the train as a whole was ‘broken down’ prior to it being made up again.
      The information that I read a few days ago that trains are made up by weight to increase safety was new to me as I had been told they were composed by destination to speed up the process. It is possible railroads give lip service to putting empties and light cars at the rear for safety reasons but in practice they are actually made up for convenience and efficiency with lighter cars anywhere in the group. A lighter car can be thrown into the air much easier than a loaded car in sudden stops which is what occurs in a derailment. My great grandfather was killed in a yard accident in 1902 when the end of a car collapsed while it was being joined. His wife sued the railroad but it was kicked upstairs to Federal Court and she did not have the means to pursue it. My two cents.

      1. Lambert Strether

        > He uncouples the car(s) as they reverse and the inertia of the uncoupled cars carries them down through the switches to the line in the yard

        This is a “hump yard,” an aspect of railroading targeted by PSR (to reduce “dwell time” IIRC).

    3. Screwball

      So it isn’t that shocking, honestly, to learn on the US television this morning that Norfolk Southern was absent for a recent town hall meeting. No corporate individual could be roused to show their face to the public.

      I read in one of the articles they were afraid to send anyone for reasons of safety. IOW, as I read it, they didn’t want their representative put in harms way.

      Probably a good idea. These people are no doubt not happy – and sure shouldn’t be – they should be enraged, IMO. I live a few hours from there, and have been through that part of the state many times. We are talking about a rural country out in the sticks. They are on the edge of Appalachia. The people from the railroad may not be safe if they showed up. I sure wouldn’t want to face these people, and trust me, they are very capable and willing to put a hurt on someone.

      This has been a massive failure of everyone involved; Norfolk Southern, the State of Ohio, the Federal Government, and the news media. It will go away as fast as they can make it go away – which I am sure is the goal (along with getting the rail lines open) – but the people of East Palestine will suffer for years to come, dealing with who knows what.

      71% of that county voted Trump. They are nothing but a poor little hick town in the middle of BFE filled with deplorable’s – so nobody gives one good $hit about them – which probably explains the neglect/silence for the better part of a week.

      One would hope this changes some things, but I won’t hold my breath (no pun intended).

    4. semper loquitur

      I was listening to FOX news last night. They were making much hay with the derailment . It’s downright bizarre to hear the leading right/conservative news outlet decrying corporate malfeasance and environmental degradation. They presented local reporters asking the EPA flack why, if the groundwater is safe to drink, she doesn’t recommend people go swimming in the local waterways. Why is the ground littered with dead animals and birds, the streams with dead fish? Why wasn’t a government assessment done of the toxicity? Oh, because the railroad had an in-house contractor do it, the same contractor who gave the “all clear!” to a toxic coal dust dump from another derailment years ago in South Carolina. Why is Secretary Pete talking about too many white men in construction instead of one of the biggest toxic disasters in recent history?

      One host pointed out that this reporting flies in the face of the stereotypes about FOX news. I had to agree. No doubt for their own ends and the needs of their masters, but as it now stands they are a voice of the people of East Palestine.

      1. fresno dan

        I get the impression that FOX is concerned because it happened with a democrat in the White House. Just like I get the impression that the rest of the media is relatively unconcerned because a democrat in in the White House.
        arly two weeks have passed since a train derailed in East Palestine, Ohio, spilling toxic chemicals into the water and air, and all anyone seems to be able to say is that it is under-discussed.

        That observation is by no means partisan. “This is one of the deadliest environmental emergencies in decades and no one is talking about it,” Jamal Bowman, a Democratic congressman from New York, tweeted on Monday. A few hours later, J.D. Vance, Ohio’s junior Republican senator, echoed those sentiments on Fox. “The entire country, the media complex, the leaders of this country have decided to disregard the people of East Palestine,” Vance told Tucker Carlson, adding that, “if this story has been covered at all,” the coverage has been deflected from addressing the terrifying implications of the spill.
        Sooooo, is this being covered enough? Well, the story of how much it is being covered seems to me to be over covered. And it seems to me, putting on my TRIPLE layered tinfoil hat, that is because questions like what is the rate of derailment in other countries, how often do other countris have toxic derailments, why fundamentally did this happen, and what legislative law and regulatory action to require fewer such incidents will be taken might cost the rich money. And the rich don’t want that…

        1. Bsn

          So amazing. What’s up with this world when we look to Fox News for actual reporting. But…. it’s true, they are doing some actual reporting.

        2. semper loquitur

          No doubt FOX is playing a partisan game but they, excepting some indie outlets, are the only game!

      2. Pelham

        I saw the Fox report and thought the EPA answer was fairly reasonable. Surface water was clearly affected, but it COULD be that groundwater drawn from a distance would be unaffected, at least for a while. IF that’s truly the case now, independent testing should be done continually for a long time.

        However, that says nothing about the air and the surface contamination from the ash. I wouldn’t risk going anywhere near East Palestine and I sympathize with the residents’ plight. Having been raised in a small town that was quite prosperous decades ago but is now the poorest town in the state due to a successive array of horrid events, I’m well attuned to the situation, where the degree to which many residents deeply love a place is in direct proportion to its precarity.

        1. semper loquitur

          I see your point but the testing is being done by a private contractor hired by the company. If memory serves, the reporter said the drinking water is groundwater drawn from a mile away or so. I don’t know how long it would take for that to be contaminated, it seems like a while but who knows?

          1. fresno dan

            …. but the testing is being done by a private contractor hired by the company.
            with apologies to Upton Sinclair
            It is difficult to get a man to find a contaminant, when his salary depends on his not finding a contaminant.”

        2. sushi

          From the Doomberg link:

          “An analysis of the combustion gases from VCM reveal the following composition: HC1 27,000 ppm; CO2 58,100 ppm; CO 9500 ppm; phosgene 40 ppm; and VCM trace. From a hazard standpoint, the gross quantity of hydrogen chloride is the main source of danger in a VCM fire.”

          For clarity, 40 ppm (parts per million) is equivalent to 0.004% of the composition.
          END QUOTE

          For greater clarity the Threshold Limit Value of phosgene is 0.1 ppm. On-site reporting describes dead chickens, domestic pets and wildlife in addition to persons suffering bronchial stress. Phosgene acts on the lungs and impedes the function of alveoli. In sufficient concentration it causes death. Doomberg states combustion of VCM produces 40 ppm. This concentration is lethal. The unanswered question is how and where this lethal concentration was dissipated and/or where it may have concentrated. The answer is flying in the wind.

  12. The Rev Kev

    “White House brushes off Haley’s call for mental competency test”

    Look, I cannot see any problem here. If the poor girl is demanding that she take a mental competency test, then they should just let her. What? Oh, Biden. OK then.

    Haley might be onto something. Attacking Biden for his extreme old age here. It might work going on the attack here. Didn’t Kamala Harris Brutally eviscerate Joe Biden in the debates? And look where it got her.

    1. hunkerdown

      Her brief UN career showed us she can draw a crock whenever the Lobby demands it. Hasn’t she Suffered Enough™ under our authoritarian testing regime? /s

    2. griffen

      Nevermind what I have to say on this matter. Judge our sitting US President on his own exact words, from his statement on the balloon matters and intelligence assessments. From yesterday afternoon, I had my television tuned into CNBC. There is a notable difference from other speeches he has given.

      I dunno, I can’t trust any of these supposed or future candidates for the highest office.

  13. fjallstrom

    Finally read “The Temptations of Carl Schmitt” that was posted in an water cooler earlier this week. Hope it is ok to bring the comment here, took some time to mull over.

    Schimtt has an interesting perspective on the relationship between state, power and political conflict, which is as far as I can tell related fairly in the article.

    Some key passages:

    Friend and enemy must therefore be “understood in their concrete and existential sense, not as metaphors or symbols,” for they “receive their real meaning precisely because they refer to the real possibility of physical killing. War follows from enmity. War is the existential negation of the enemy.” If this extremity is not a real possibility, then a distinction between friend and enemy does not yet exist, and so neither does the political.

    For Schmitt, the concept of the state presupposes the concept of the political because “the state as an organized political entity decides for itself the friend-enemy distinction.” If some other entity is the one that decides this distinction, the state is no longer the decisive political entity – for if it is no longer the one that decides then it is no longer sovereign.

    And, given that the obligation of the state is to protect its group from all threats, external and internal, and because this group, by Schmitt’s very definition of the political, must be a homogenously unified collective, then: “As long as the state is a political entity this requirement for internal peace compels it in critical situations to decide upon the domestic enemy.” Which is why, “Every state provides, therefore, some kind of formula for the declaration of an internal enemy.”

    A direct quote from Schmitt:

    No form of order, no reasonable legitimacy or legality can exist without protection and obedience. The protego ergo obligo is the cogito ergo sum of the state. A political theory which does not systematically become aware of this sentence remains an inadequate fragment. Hobbes designated this… as the true purpose of his Leviathan, to instill in man once again ‘the mutual relation between Protection and Obedience’; human nature as well as divine right demands its inviolable observation.

    The state and its enemies is a topic I have myself pondered, though with very different normative conclusions.

    The run up to the Nazi regime is also fairly stated, with the exception of the conservative federal power grab over Prussia, I will get back to that.

    Unfortunately, the author of the article is applying Schmitt to a rather myopic US-conservative centered view of the world.

    Longing for order in disordered times, he would go on to pen his own theories on how people and state should fulfill their obligations to each other.

    In our own time, meanwhile, we might consider again the potential reasons for why Schmitt has returned to the forefront of debate at this particular moment in time. For ours is a moment yet unfolding in the wake that traumatic, revolutionary, never truly reckoned with year of 2020, when the United States witnessed some of the most widespread and destructive political riots in its history. Riots that, citizens across the country observed with shock, the forces of order were not merely unable to suppress, but actively forbidden from suppressing – by a state that in large part openly proclaimed its allegiance to the insurrectionary faction bent on intimidation and destruction.

    An insurrection, eh? Checking wikipedia, this “insurrection” led to 19 deaths (in May and June 2020) and over 14 000 arrests. That is not an insurrection, that is massive protests met with arrests. In comparision, the 2012 Egyptian protests saw 28 killed in 5 days. Again protests. The lead up to the Syrian civil war saw over months over 2 000 dead, with 400-500 of the dad being armed goverment agents and over 12 000 arrested. That is the start of an insurrection.

    The US in 2020 was as much an insurrection as the January 6th riot was a serious coup attempt, but here the US mirror images of stories strikes once again. Those mirror images of illegitimate presidents and their violent supporters could probably be fruitfully analysed through Schmitt’s framework. Alas, this article does not do so.

    And here is why it is important what the article misses about the 1932 federal coup in Prussia, where von Papen took control away from the social democratic lead government, and thereby got control over the largest police force in the country, including the police force in the capital. Von Papen did so blaming the violence between SS and SA and the militia of the Communist party under the banner of Antifaschistische Aktion. Von Papen had however himself lifted the ban on SS and SA before the clashes that motivtaed the coup.

    Viewing this through Schmitt’s framework above (rather then as Schmitt justified it at the time), von Papen prioritised not order, but conflict. He released the SA and SS to limit his existential opponents, the Communists. And the communists were not existential opponents because they were violent (remember, Nazis were ok), but because they were anti-capitalist. Anti-capitalist are, if they act on their convictions and might reach power, an existential threath to a capitalist elite. So anti-capitalists are disobedient, no matter how non-violent their methods are. And they are therefore denied protection from police clubs and bullets.

    From there something interesting could be said about the situation in the US today, and the relationship of the capitalist rulers to various opposition. But not by the author of “The Temptations of Carl Schmitt”.

    1. Bugs

      Thanks for this extremely useful correction. So much is lost to those who don’t have time to read history, or refuse its lessons.

  14. Jeff V

    Why Smart People Believe Stupid Things

    That went off in a direction I wasn’t expecting. There isn’t any racism in the American job market, because African Americans have the best jobs i.e. – playing in the NBA ?

    1. Grebo

      No, he was merely suggesting that racism/sexism may not be the only possible reason why different groups have different representations in various job sectors.

  15. The Rev Kev

    “The Moment of Greatest Danger”

    This is a pretty fair summary of the situation but where it takes us is ominous. One of the key points he makes is this-

    ‘No, it is, as all the great powers of the planet very clearly recognize, about putting an end to unrestrained American hegemony – economically, politically, and militarily. At some level, there can be no question that this is now widely recognized as the second-order consequence of this war. It is unquestionably recognized as such at the highest levels of imperial power in Washington, New York, and London.’

    And as he points out, the west will not accept this but will strike out and flail around and try to put the genie back in the bottle again. I knew that one day this would happen but I did not think that it would happen for years if not decades. But this plan to do a smash-and-grab of Russia because they are ‘so weak’ is having tremendous blowback. Taking a leaf from the ancient world, it looks like that for the west, that the Ukraine will become their Sicilian Expedition.

  16. notabanker

    I’m so confused. The number one lead story in my google feed this morning was Biden admin refusing FEMA assistance. Evidently we are means testing that now too. But Bloomberg says Joe is gonna help, so we got that.

    1. Terry Flynn

      Meanwhile the Twitter number 1 trending topic for me in UK when I woke up was “South Park”. I meant to watch it last night but glad I waited until this morning so my laughs didn’t wake people up. It gobbled up most of the morning “discussions” on TV here; plus I am suspicious that only the UK news sources with deep pockets dared review it/discuss it.

      Ironic that the one thing The Firm didn’t want us to talk about this morning became the only thing we did….. Incompetency and the Streisand Effect still reign supreme in the “less political arena” too. Matt & Trey still know how to manipulate an entire news agenda. Employ them instead?

        1. Terry Flynn

          Yes! Self-described “old school” fans liked it because S26 seems to be returning to stories revolving around the 4 kids. Those of us who like the “NC-type critiques” (like the Wall-Mart and Amazon episodes) like it because it spears the hypocrisy and others with eagle eyes have spotted an attention to detail re Harry & Meghan that is inspired.

          Plus there are two funny jokes that I’d instantly put into “top 15 SP funny moments” list, even if the episode overall was not a total classic. Plus it caused H&M defenders to really put their foot in it on twitter after criticising Matt & Trey for never having gone after Will & Kate….. Someone reproduced a scene from 10 seasons ago showing a joke that nobody in UK “got” but which since became a national joke about our next King.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            Early review, last week’s episode was a banger. I thought this episode was a bit busy and the wrong chemistry. Stan should have been personally annoyed by the royals. Kyle should be annoyed by Ike and their msm appearances. The Wal Mart and Amazon eps were good because they had all strata involved and personal hypocrisy. For people who watch the word of mouth ones, this is not an episode to go out and catch.

            All in all, it was still a good day for Canada and therefore the world.

            1. Terry Flynn

              Yeah pretty much agree – and sums up why I thought it was an episode with several “brilliant moments” but not a great episode overall.

              The “B” plot (about victimhood and particularly the Butters bit) deserved WAY more attention and has the benefit of being topical…. Deserved an “A” plot in its own right in an episode. Still, I, like Petal, laughed really loudly at certain scenes and for some reason I thought the “voice” of Meghan was eerily accurate (or perhaps just the perfect embodiment of the comedy voice various people have ascribed to her).

              Plus I realised it was my time in Sydney around 12 years ago that THAT joke about William first hit me. I had wondered when exactly I *knew* already that stuff when the UK press finally reported it!

        2. petal

          The South Park website has it to stream for free. Not sure if it is available outside the US that way, so apologies ahead of time if it isn’t. Last night I laughed and howled and the rest of the apartments must’ve heard me. Haven’t done so like that since before things went all to heck a year and half ago. Brilliant stuff. They really nailed those two.

          1. Terry Flynn

            Unfortunately VPNs (in my experience) don’t work well these days when trying to watch from outside the USA. A YouTube video explained it recently – ISPs elsewhere now increasingly “know” lists of IP addresses used by VPN services and share them. Thus I find it is virtually impossible to find a VPN that can actually find an IP address in USA that has not been flagged as used by VPNs and blocked.

            Thus I stick to my UK streaming service that includes comedy central etc…..

            In other direction, BBC periodically asks for UK address and matches incoming requests with licence fee data. So good luck getting BBC UK content with a VPN for significant periods of time before they cut you off.

    2. Onward to Dystopia

      Everyone in Ohio should rename themselves Zelenskyyyyyyy and throw up a Sieg Heil. Sleepy Joe will personally come to your house and start shoving dollar bills down your throat until you explode.

      1. Not Again

        The mayor of East Palestine, OH threatened to rename his town “Kiev” so the “someone in the White House would pay attention to them.”

        I guess Ohio isn’t a toss-up state anymore.

    3. Ranger Rick

      Unsurprisingly, this means that Ohio’s congressional reps want Buttigieg’s head on a pike. I’ve seen enough people remark on who owns the railroad responsible for the diaster to be skeptical this talk will last for much longer.

  17. Wukchumni

    They told him in East Palestine, “Don’t you ever come around here”
    “Don’t wanna see your face, you better disappear”
    The fire’s in their eyes and their words are really clear
    So beat it, just beat it.

    You better run, you better do what you can
    Don’t wanna talk in tongues, don’t be a polyglot man
    You wanna talk tough, better do what you can
    So Pete it, but you don’t wanna appear for it to be your bad

    Just Pete it (beat it), beat it (Pete it)
    No one wants to be politically defeated
    Showin’ how funky and strong is your fight
    It doesn’t matter who’s wrong or right
    Just Pete it (beat it)
    Just beat it (Pete it)
    Just Pete it (beat it)
    Just beat it (Pete it, uh)

    They’re out to get you, better hide while you can
    Don’t wanna be trans man, you wanna be a President man
    You wan’t to stay politically alive, better do what you can
    So Pete it, just beat it

    You have to show them that you’re really not scared
    You’re playin’ with your political life, this ain’t no truth or dare
    They’ll avoid you if you avoid them
    Then they’ll tell you it’s Norfolk Southern’s fault
    So Pete it, but you don’t wanna appear for it to be your bad beat

    Beat It, by Michael Jackson

  18. The Rev Kev

    That ‘Amazing work by @RealOzSAGE @JohnSnowProject’ video is really good and hard hitting. Sheer brilliance.

  19. The Rev Kev

    “Ukraine is burning through ammunition faster than the US and NATO can produce it. Inside the Pentagon’s plan to close the gap”

    Let me summarize the true situation. It can’t be done. Kitchen maths will tell you that it will take years just to replace the stocks that the US keeps for its own military. I think that I heard that the Ukrainians shoot off more artillery rounds in a day than the US produces in a month. And take a look at that video showing artillery round production. Everything in that process has to be just right which includes the rate that those shells cool down at. But here is the thing. production in the west has been scaled back because those manufacturers do not get that much for each round produced in profit. But anything with lots of electronics in it like those HIMARS rockets can be very lucrative. And that is why those manufactures concentrate on those high end weapons as they are more profitable. A big win for capitalism. But such industries in Russia are State owned and can be scaled up forever. Stoltenberg was asked about production issues and he had a brilliant idea. Just have the workers do an extra shift and all would be well. These Neocons have no idea of how the real world works at all.

    1. Lemmy Caution

      Even if the Pentagon successfully increases production of 155mm shells to 70,000 per month by 2025 as outlined in the article, it’ll still be too little, too late.

      After all, the Ukrainian forces have at times burned through about 7,000 rounds a day. So even if all 70,000 shells produced each month went to Ukraine, they would run out after 10 days.

      Some arsenal of democracy ya got there, buddy.

  20. Strange Little Feeling

    Seymor Hearsh has now been interviwed in Germany by Berliner Zeitung and in Sweden by Expressen (one of two tabloids). Zero reactions from politicians. These interview publications start to feel like gloating.

    1. JohnA

      The expressen interview is behind a paywall, but it is a celeb gossip-heavy tabloid in the English style, that elsewhere says Russia is losing 1000 soldiers a day so not sure the article would have been that neutral, tbh.

  21. The Rev Kev

    ‘Josep Borrell: “Sanctions are a slow acting poison, like arsenic. It takes time to produce their effects, but they do, and they do so in an irreversible way” ‘

    He really is an evil old man and certainly he has been a war monger over the past year. I suppose that with sanctions that he is thinking of countries like Syria and how the sanctions are having an effect on them. But then I reflect that Syria is thousands of year old while the EU is only about what, 30 years old? Guess who will last longer. I would imagine that in the future, that the EU will be merely one page in the rich history book of Syria.

  22. Lexx

    ‘Why Smart People Believe Stupid Things’

    ‘Not only does intelligence in the service of wokeism lead to one-sided readings of reality, it also leads to the production of pure fiction. The popular woke myth that sex is a spectrum is often justified on the basis that there’s no single thing that distinguishes all men from all women. Such an abstract explanation is seductive to an intellectual, but beneath the allure it’s just an instance of the univariate fallacy (it’s true that no single thing distinguishes all men from all women, but no single thing distinguishes all tigers from all monkeys either; does this make tigers monkeys?)

    Labyrinthine sophistry like “sex is a spectrum” prevails among cognitively sophisticated cultural elites, including those who should know better such as biologists, but it’s rarer among the common people, who lack the capacity for mental gymnastics required to justify such elaborate delusions.’

    And that’s why lefties tend to be young. I spent most of my college years listening to the prevailing politically correct POV, later to be called ‘woke’. It’s so Buddhist (‘Buddha means ‘the awakened one’). But even then I can’t recall anyone saying there was no difference between men and women, at least no one over 40, because that would be absurd and probably the point.

    Human intellect and sexual expression are on a spectrum, our experience of both, and it includes everyone. It’s a really big spectrum. On a Venn diagram the data sets would be huge and useless trying to find the overlap. There’s a little secret squirrel in us all.

    So on that point I have to disagree with the author but for most of the post he’s spot on. It was a pleasure to read.

    1. Carolinian

      Lets specify that even well educated people (a better description than “smart”) have the right to believe what they want but do not have the right to teach our children their beliefs based on some notional free speech defense. It’s just another version of “it’s ok when we do it.” If the righties were pushing creationism in public schools they would be howling. One might almost even suspect that the pursuit of off the wall beliefs is more about separating the ins from the outs rather than genuine conviction–in other words about who has the power and who wants it.

    2. semper loquitur

      When you say sexual expression, are you referring to the expression of one’s genes or the psychological expression of one’s sexual preferences and presentations? Because, while both lie on a spectrum, graphs of those spectrums look very, very different. One is a dumbbell heavily weighted on either end and objective to boot. The other is near-infinitely gradated and profoundly subjective.

      The article was quite interesting. I tend to think of elite Woke-iness as a cult formation and this author’s discussion adds another layer to that model. I wasn’t in school when the IDpol $hitblossom had fully bloomed, luckily for it’s adherents, but having read a lot of what passes for their argumentation, engaging with those fool-hardy enough to wander here, and watching talks and discussions in which they participate I have to push back a bit on the author’s characterization of the elite Woke as being, let’s say, too smart for their own good.

      I’m not saying there aren’t intelligent people who fall for Woke. I’m just playing the odds and saying that most of those who fall for it aren’t really that smart. There aren’t that many “Woke intellectuals”, if we are to allow the word intellectual to have any substance. I would say the author is casting far too wide of a net.

      They may be good at standardized tests. They may be good at the posture and facial expressions that “smart” people display to advertise their “smarts”. They may be good at spinning “narratives” that eschew making claims because they are structurally incapable of making and defending claims. They may be good at mimicry and regurgitating semi-digested chunks of foundationally unsound arguments.

      But they lack mental agility. They never argue from solid first principles that I’ve seen. It’s always assumptions and “just-so” positions that melt away like cotton candy under a laser. They lack creativity, they cannot take old ideas and form something totally new, they are dogmatism personified. And they score a dead zero on intuition, the ability to tap into the “main line”, the thing that so many simultaneously disdain and crave.

    3. Unqualified to Comment

      I would suggest the problem here is not one on ‘intelligence’, but of imagination.

      Clearly intelligent people often hew to extreme positions in religion or politics, positions I cannot comprehend anyone with two brain-cells to rub together adopting and clinging to in the face of all argument. But it isn’t that such people cannot comprehend the arguments or even recognise their validity. Its that they simply cannot ‘imagine’ the reality of the alternatives. They have only one reality, usually the reality they were born and brought up in. I have little doubt that the committed American Christian would be an equally committed Moslem had they been born and brought in the Middle East. In either case the alternative – or even more impossibly no religion at all – is simply ‘unimaginable’. Hence they see all counter arguments as attacks on their reality and so not only inherently false – they must be if they run counter to ‘reality’ – but dangerous and a threat to their very existence.

    1. jhallc

      Not a pretty picture. The total assets at the problem banks, in Figure 8, are the level of where we were in late 2008/early 2009 even though there are only about half the number of problem banks today. What’s going on? Losses in bonds, Adani problems, SBF related?

  23. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Georgia grand jury: ‘Perjury may have been committed’ in Trump election probe Washington Post (furzy)

    wapo paywalled so read it at msn.

    So, this Georgia “special grand jury” has been a fiasco pretty much from the git go. But Sundance at The Conservative Treehouse does an interesting analysis of what went on as an example of “creating a continual political effort through a process best described as lawfare.” (No link, mods no like.)

    Per Sundance:

    The excerpt of the ‘special grand jury‘ that was released did not assert any legal issue with the baseline for their formation, meaning no substantive finding of election interference. However, as you are likely aware, ‘lawfare’ focuses on the process side – and the strategy is to find unlawful activity within the process of a target defending himself/herself from the targeting itself.

    The “special” grand jury found “by a unanimous vote that no widespread fraud took place in the Georgia 2020 presidential election that could result in overturning that election,” but that perjury “may” have been committed by witnesses. The headline links “perjury” and “Trump” to keep the narrative alive.

    Sundance explains this particular use of “lawfare” this way:

    You did not hit the dog in downtown Atlanta on I-75 with your Mercedes on August 14th, 2020. You do not own a Mercedes and you were not in Georgia at all that year. However, your brother testified you were in the Bahamas on vacation in August 2020, and the evidence shows that vacation was in July. Therefore, while you are not guilty of hitting the dog, your brother is guilty of perjury. That’s lawfare. See how it works?

    Sign the plea for misdemeanor endangerment of the dog, pay the fine, and the D.A. will leave your brother alone.

    “Things” are not always as they seem.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Oops. Forgot to add the most important part in seeing how this whole “lawfare” thing works. From msn:

      Ambassador Norman Eisen (ret.), a senior fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institute who served as special counsel to the House Judiciary Committee from 2019 to 2020, told ABC News that despite the judge shielding most of the report, “it’s clear from the judge’s order that the grand jury recommended charges.”

      “The question is: I don’t think that if people are being charged, Trump can logically be left out, because he was the ringleader,” Eisen told ABC News. “He was the mastermind of the plots.”

      Trump was never called as a “witness” and he was never charged, except by innuendo.

    2. lyman alpha blob

      That pretty accurately describes what they did to Michael Flynn.

      I saw one of Flynn’s big speeches during the campaign, maybe it was from the Republican convention, and he came off as a complete warmongering whackjob. Not a fan of defending people like that, but this juvenile gotcha entrapment lawfare is ridiculous. Only in a completely corrupt nation like the US could this tactic be taken seriously.

  24. antidlc

    Ohio Gov. DeWine: ‘Severely contaminated’ creek dammed to prevent contaminating waterways

    Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine addressed videos of a “severely contaminated” creek near the site of the derailment in East Palestine and assured it had been dammed so it would not pollute other waterways. He also assured municipal water was safe to drink after test results came back clean.

    I’m sure everything will be just fine.

    1. Realist

      I expect a lot of railroad C suiter and state government retirements in the next few years so they can get their fat pensions before the cluster of cancer cases becomes too big to deny.

    2. flora

      DeWine: “We know this, we knew this.”
      But he said nothing about it until the videos were posted on twtr by residents. He earlier said everything was ok, the soil the water and the air were ok, safe for residents to return to their homes in E. Palestine.

      DeWine is smiling in that presser like a little boy trying to charm his way out of consequences when caught doing something he wasn’t supposed to do.

      1. antidlc
        A week after evacuations near the toxic Ohio train wreck ended, anxious residents pack meeting to express doubts about safety

        Yet other points of contention are emerging, including a newly public document that says potentially contaminated soil was not removed from the site – a critical step experts say should be completed quickly so that toxic materials are not further dispersed into the environment and groundwater.

        Norfolk Southern is responsible for cleaning up the site, according to a February 10 notice sent to the company by the federal EPA.

        In a document sent to the EPA and recently made public by the agency, a company contracted by Norfolk Southern for cleanup efforts did not list soil removal among completed activities.

  25. tegnost

    Medicare and social security scare mongering from the hill…
    The same old same ol’…

    Social Security spending will almost double, from $1.2 trillion in fiscal 2022 to almost $2.4 trillion in 2033, the CBO estimated. As a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP), it will grow from 4.8 percent to 6 percent over that span. The jump begins immediately, with a $123 billion increase in fiscal 2023, a 10 percent spike, largely due to the large, 8.7 percent cost-of-living increase for Social Security beneficiaries that took effect last month.

    Spending will double !!!!! in the opening…
    but 4.8 to 6 in terms of gdp further down…
    and a 10% spike!!!!!
    but 8.7% inflation,,,,for last year, so ongoing inflation will likely overcome that 10% “spike”
    plus more of the same…
    “Spending on other mandatory health care programs, including Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program and ObamaCare subsidies, will also rise significantly, from $695 billion in 2022 to $1 trillion in 2033, the CBO said. ”
    Endlessly rising sickcare costs makes them more expensive? This is news?

    my guess is the no cuts to ss claim will be the excuse to turn the fund over to wall st as that will be the only way to not cut ss.

    I’m not a seer, so floras fed link (worth looking at imo) was kind of cryptic for me, but I did notice net interest margin is performing quite well. Seems like maybe we’re in the rinse cycle?

  26. Wukchumni

    The relationship with My Kevin (since ’07) just had its 16th anniversary of union together and like any marriage of convenience, i’ve been hoping that he’ll tire of me and call it quits.

    All Kev’s really accomplished so far since assuming the vocal chords is the usual tit for tat nonsense and a see me-dig me trip to the border in Arizona.

  27. will rodgers horse

    At some point does the general public begin to question the whole Dem/ Rep shtick? Given that there are no viable third parties I guess it doesn’t really matter. Is the best we can hope for that the US fades into the sunset without that sunset being a nuclear one?

    1. Polar Socialist

      On the initiative of Molotov and approved by Khrushchev, on 31 March 1954 Soviet Union issued a proposal for United States, Britain and France for Soviet Union to join NATO so the organization would turn into “an effective system of European collective security, would be of cardinal importance for the promotion of universal peace”.

      Molotov himself did not believe the western powers were willing to accept and were more likely to show their true nature of wanting to divide Europe into blocks (and that NATO was actually directed against democratic tendencies in capitalist countries), but nevertheless Soviet Union should be prepared terms for joining the organization (no inference in internal matters, removing foreign military bases and need of reduction of military forces in all countries).

  28. Futility

    What happened to the tweet of Blake Murdoch? The link now leads to a page claiming that no such tweet exists. Today in the morning I saw a picture of a school with tubes attached to clean Biden’s air which disappeared as soon as Biden left. Was I mistaken or did Twitter remove it?

    1. antidlc

      It’s gone. I posted it in yesterday’s Water Cooler and asked, “Is this true?”

      There really wasn’t anyway of verifying — there was no identification of the school, and the person who responded to Blake Murdoch’s opinion piece was not named.

  29. sharron2

    Loved the Monitor Lizard video. In Asia you live close to nature. We had small 2-3 ft Monitor Lizards on the American School campus in Singapore often. They usually lived in the drainage system. Everyone knew to stay away as the bacteria on their teeth could cause deadly infections if you were bit. Had a friend that had to run over cobras in her driveway before the bus dropped kids home from school. Took about 10 times to get the snakes to stop lifting their heads. We ate occasionally at a restaurant at a nature preserve that had a pond full of 8 ft plus monitors that you could throw food to during your meal. Monkeys would swing into open bars and the bus boys would chase them out with brooms.

  30. ChrisPacific

    Re: Australians Aren’t Allowed To Know If There Are American Nukes In Australia

    This is called the ‘neither confirm nor deny’ policy, and was a key reason behind the NZ anti-nuclear legislation in the 80s, and why US warships are still not welcome in our ports (also why we were kicked out of ANZUS). It enjoyed a rare degree of bipartisan support, not least because the policy is extraordinarily arrogant, as Caitlin Johnstone points out.

    Australians are apparently more OK with being a priority target in a nuclear war than we were.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Nobody asked me or anybody else I know. This was all done behind closed doors and has bipartisan support. Sort of like how both parties agreed to go with ‘herd immunity’ to deal with the Pandemic effecting the economy. If it came out that we had an ‘enhanced interrogation’ center off in the middle of the desert during the War on Terror, I would not be surprised at all.

  31. Willow

    ‘On Ukraine, is Biden signaling that ‘as long as it takes’ may have an end-date?’
    End date is late 2023 when pitch for donor funds ramps up and need to define 2024 Presidential campaign narratives becomes critical. Which is why Ukraine war needs to be resolved by this (Northern hemisphere) summer. Rather than step back & negotiate (and knowing that West has burnt too many bridges for acceptable negotiation outcomes to happen) Biden & co. may decide to try and escalate the conflict by egging on NATO to enter the war in hope of breaking Russia’s back as quickly as possible (not going to happen). Which seems indicated by recent overly optimistic (Pollyanna) assessments of Russia being on its knees coming out of the US & UK. Hoping Poland will do something stupid? Russia likely knows this & why a sizable force has been deployed in Belarus.

    If NATO does get directly involved, the conflict will go to a whole new level. Russia will now have an opportunity to break NATO. The huge upside will make it worthwhile committing high-end resources and infrastructure for taking out NATO electronic superiority. Whether ground/airborne/space ELINT assets or activating coveted cyber technology and taking out core civilian infrastructure (cyber attacks so far have only been deployed by ‘allied’ hacking groups not Russian State agencies). The humanitarian disaster in Europe will be huge. Given interconnectivity and complexity of global supply chains, war in Europe will cripple West’s industrial capacity. Leading to deeper (irreparable?) economic chaos and increased (unwilling) dependence on China.

    Time to bunker down.

  32. The Rev Kev

    Anybody feel like a clown world story?

    ‘The Latvian parliament has allowed the government to donate vehicles seized from Latvian citizens to Ukraine. The new power will be applied by ministers to cars confiscated for traffic violations, such as driving under the influence of alcohol.

    Currently, we can utilize vehicles confiscated from drunk drivers by selling them, scrapping them or disassembling them for spare parts,” he explained, according to the parliamentary website. “But we see that in the current conditions they would be a useful support for the people of Ukraine.” ‘

    Those cars will go to the Ukraine where they will be immediately sold back to people in Europe. So I suppose that the Ukraine will also become a car washing operation.

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