Links 2/25/2023

Rebellious Andean bear sneaks out of US zoo – twice BBC

Why can only big cats roar? Discover Wildife (resilc). Haha, snow leopards are special! Listen here.

What’s Inside the Earth’s Core? New York Times

Winter storm slams the West Coast, prompting rare blizzard warnings in Southern California CNN

Kombucha Cultures Can Be Turned Into Flexible Electric Circuit Boards ars technica. Will kimchee be next?

It’s Time to Rethink the Idea of the “Indigenous” New Yorker (Dr. Kevin)

After death of girl, 12 more detected with H5N1 bird flu in Cambodia Khmer Times (Dr. Kevin)


A must read thread:

Finally a vaccine to banish Covid for good? Nasal spray reduces risk of infection 86% — nearly DOUBLE protection given by shot in arm Daily Mail


This student was overwhelmed by ‘alarmist’ environmental education. So she designed her own college course. The 19th (David L)


Ukraine war: Zelensky wants Xi Jinping meeting following China’s peace plan BBC. This is not even remotely in line with the Chinese thin high concept document, which was for Russian and Ukraine to talk. Signals Zelensky desire to keep in front of the cameras. May also be a self-preservation gambit. Would be a very bad look for the Collective West to engineer his ouster when Zelensky was pretending to be more willing to talk peace than they are. Also very much at odds with official reactions of his owners. But Zelensky has gone off script before, such as persisting in insisting that it was a Russian missile that whacked two Polish farmers. China may humor Ukraine by offering a meeting between Wang Yi and Ukraine foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba, although they just had an off-the-cuff chat at the Munich Security Conference. That would still put the US in the position of having to quash this.

U.S. Hegemony – At War With China’s Global Security Initiative Moon of Alabama (Chuck L). Troublingly, Wang Yi does not have the structure of the Minsk Accords right. The only parties who signed it were Russia, Ukraine and the OSCE. Leaders of the two separatist regions signed it not officially but only in an observational capacity so as not to have their signatures be construed as conferring them with any legal status.

China to train 5,000 security personnel from developing countries over next 5 years | South China Morning Post

European Disunion

High Energy Prices Force World’s Largest Chemicals Company To Cut Jobs OilPrice (Kevin W)

Old Blighty

Rishi Sunak to defy Tory right and push ahead with Northern Ireland protocol deal Financial Times (Kevin W)

New Not-So-Cold War

NATO on the precipice Politico

TRANSCRIPT: Administrator Samantha Power and NSA Jake Sullivan on CNN Town Hall – Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine: One Year Later USAID

President Vladimir Putin’s State of the Nation address, 21 February 2023 Gilbert Doctorow

More Evidence Emerges That US Wanted Russia to Invade Consortium News (furzy)

Cockefair Lecture Feb 23th 2023 UMKC Live Stream, YouTube. John Mearsheimer.

One year later, are US-German relations headed toward rough seas? Responsible Statecraft

US attempts to win over UN members who are neutral on war in Ukraine Guardian (Kevin W)

Blinken Aims to Pressure Russia on Trip to Central Asia, India Bloomberg

Correct me if I have this 50,000 foot summary wrong. The Moldovan PM has demanded that Russian peacekeepers leave Transistria. There is a huge cache of weapons in a warehouse very close to the Ukraine border. The Russian peacekeepers are only part of the peacekeeping force, my impression is representing something like 40% of the total # of 1100 or 1200. The administrative structure is not clear to me but if these are proper peacekeepers, they report to whatever the peacekeeping body is. If that is correct, the MoD is saying it will act to defend Russia’s interests, as in it’s not going to let Ukraine steamroll an underpowered peacekeeping contingent.

Note there is considerable speculation about the huge weapons stockpile. Even if most is no better than scrap due to age and lack of maintenance, there is so much there are presumably weapons that could be salvaged. An alternative theory, which may be Russian propaganda, is that enough of the stuff there has become a hazard risk (how?) that it can’t be safely removed. A third line of discussion is that the reserve is so large that if Russia were to detonate it to prevent Ukraine use, it would be a nuclear-bomb-force blast.


US Ambassador Says Israel Can Do ‘Whatever They Need’ Against Iran Antiwar (resilc)

Elite IDF reservists threaten to stop showing up for duty over judicial overhaul The Times of Israel

Tunisia forces arrest senior opposition figure as crackdown escalates Guardian

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Virtual drug test: Airmen can now pee in cups on video DuffelBlog

US Air Force is giving military drones the ability to recognise faces New Scientist (Dr. Kevin)

Imperial Collapse Watch

The Weapons That Win World Wars Austin Vernon (resilc). I am sure military equipment junkies will have a field day. Praises US weaponry without exhibiting awareness of Russian capabilities.

The corruption of massive industry ‘sweeteners’ in foreign arm sales Responsible Statecraft (resilc)

Congressman Matt Gaetz Introduces War Powers Resolution to Force House Vote on Removal of U.S. Armed Forces from Syria Matt Gaetz (resilc)

Northern Suffolk Chemical Bomb

How Congressional Rail Industry Allies Helped Block Safety Regulations Intercept (resilc)

Our No Longer Free Press

The New York Times Joe Costello

Stanford Faculty Say Anonymous Student Bias Reports Threaten Free Speech Wall Street Journal


Microsoft Has Been Secretly Testing Its Bing Chatbot ‘Sydney’ For Years The Verge. Why is it no surprise that Microsoft sucks at testing?

Almost 40% of Domestic Tasks Could Be Done By Robots ‘Within Decade’ Guardian

I Broke Into a Bank Account With an AI-Generated Voice’ Vice. Yours truly is slipping! Only 2 days ahead of the press! I warned that banks would soon need to rethink the use of voice IDs due to the ease of simulating a voice from just a pretty small clip, a technology that’s been underway since the early 200s.

Workers Are Dying in the EV Industry’s ‘Tainted’ City Wired (resilc)

Reimagined Jet Ski Brings EVs To the Beach IEEE

NLRB bans non-disparagement and confidentiality mandates in severance agreements Ohio Employer Law Blog. Paul R: “This will be awesome if it holds up. I wonder if a court will throw it out like it did California’s ban on mandatory arbitration clauses.”

Even hackers are reportedly getting laid off by organized crime groups Business Insider (Paul R)

To fix U.S. public health, physicians need to take a backseat STAT (Dr. Kevin). I have pinged IM Doc and anticipate he will vehemently disagree. Lambert linked to this in Water Cooler. The fallacy here is the assertion that the sort of public health intervention he wants at a population level have a significant social welfare component and will therefore simply never happen. And getting more constituencies involved will stymie, not enhance, the ability to act. You’d get even more “camels as a racehorse designed by a committee” than you have now.

The Bezzle

Prosecutors say Sam Bankman-Fried helped create a new company with no employees to get round FTX being rejected for a bank account in California Business Insider (Kevin W)

The metaverse has failed? It never even took off South China Morning Post (furzy)

Secret crawlspace cryptomine discovered in routine inspection of MA high school ars technica (furzy)

Class Warfare

When Neoliberals Declared War on the Poor CounterPunch (resilc)

Death on a Dairy Farm Propublica (resilc)

More Americans Are Turning to Part-Time Jobs Wall Street Journal

There is No Upside to School Vouchers In the Public Interest

High-skilled visa holders at risk of deportation amid tech layoffs Washington Post. Um, that is how employment-based visas work.

High Energy Prices Force World’s Largest Chemicals Company To Cut Jobs OilPrice (Kevin W)

Antidote du jour. John M: “Taken in my yard last summer.”

And a bonus (guurst):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here. 

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  1. Richard H Caldwell

    “High Energy Prices Force World’s Largest Chemicals Company To Cut Jobs” OilPrice
    Let’s try “High Energy Prices Incent World’s Largest Chemicals Company To Cut Jobs to Preserve Executive Pay and Shareholder Dividends”. That’s better…

  2. Alan Roxdale

    Note there is considerable speculation about the huge weapons stockpile.

    The entire weapons stockpile storyline is BS. A red herring. Ukraine needs a 30 year old pile of rusting equipment when it is being supplied, in effect, with every other post-soviet arsenal in the world and new western gear besides? This stockpile is simply sensationalist war-nerd titillation.

    The goal of any transnistrian escalation will be to expand the conflict into more countries, draw the Russians further west, and re-invigorate the western propaganda campaign about Russia being and unappeasable expansionist power who must be stopped etc. The political shakeups within Moldova point very strongly towards some sort of stroke being pulled, and it won’t be a color revolution. I’d expect up to ISIS-style beheadings etc to draw the Russians out. It doesn’t seem that Ukraine or Nato will be any more militarily ready to respond to this that they are now, but politically and propagandawise, the US state department will be coiled and eager to unleash a whole spectrum response. Politics by other means.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Perhaps you have not been following, but a lot of the Soviet equipment Ukraine got from the EU, which was very useful to them, was often older vintage. And ammo can last a very very long time if stored properly.

      Many individuals who purchase and store quantities of ammunition are served well by storing it in sealed, military-surplus ammunition containers. Kept in a climate controlled, secure location, away from unauthorized personnel, these containers will preserve the ammunition indefinitely.

      If individuals can achieve that sort of shelf life, armed services who are taking care of their supplies can too.

      Ukraine is very short of ammo and this facility is believed to have 155mm shells, which Ukraine desperately needs.

      So I would not be dismissive in the absence of real information.

      Here is some detail, which you could have found rather than handwaving and making me do it.

      Currently, about 20,000 tons of weapons and ammunition are stored at this warehouse, of which 57% are obsolete and cannot be used or transported, and access to the area is strictly prohibited, being controlled by Transnistrian and Russian peacekeeping forces. A possible explosion of these deposits, which cannot be transported, would cause an ecological and human disaster.

      The ammunition depot in Cobasna presents a serious technogenic and ecological danger not only for the Republic of Moldova but also for Ukraine. In 2005, the Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Moldova published an expert report on the threats posed by the accumulation of weapons in the Transnistrian region.

      A possible explosion of the military depot in Cobasna can be compared to the detonation of a 10-kiloton nuclear bomb, which was dropped on the city of Hiroshima in 1945.

      After the explosion, a crater with a radius of 1.5 kilometers and a depth of 75 meters would form. However, given that Cobasna is located in a rural area, the range of the explosion can reach 40-50 kilometers. Therefore, the effects of the explosion can be compared to the damage caused by an earthquake of 7-7.5 degrees.

      You could assume 20% is still good, which as Dima of Military Summary says, “That’s a lot.” But could it even be safely accessed?

      Alternatively, a Ukraine plan may be to try to find a way to blow it up and blame it on Russia. The MoD warned a couple of days back of Ukraine planning to stage a false flag event (not specified but not hard to imagine) with Ukraine troops sporting Russian uniforms.

      Given that the world bought the barmy story that Russia was shelling a nuclear plant it controlled, the West would hawk the story that Russia helped blow up the ammo dump it had been helping to guard for Lord knows how many years because evil Putin.

      1. vao

        And ammo can last a very very long time if stored properly.

        That is the crux of the matter.

        To give another point of reference: one year ago, Germany announced it would gift its old stock of 2700 GDR-era “Strela” MANPADs to Ukraine.

        It quickly appeared that there was a problem though: 700 missiles thoroughly inspected were found to be totally unusable — no wonder, the crates they were kept in were so moldy that personnel had to don protective equipment to enter the rooms where they were stored. Those Strela that were not rusty were often dangerous to use — their propulsion mechanism had decayed. Besides, the handles of all missiles were missing — scrapped because these MANPADs had been officially taken out from service in 2014.

        In the end, Germany only sent 500 Strela MANPADs to Ukraine — without handles: it was assumed that Ukraine could find the complements in its own stock of spare parts for those 35-year old weapons.

        So if the arsenal in Transnistria has been as neglected as the one in Germany, even 20% usable stocks might be a stretch.

        this facility is believed to have 155mm shells, which Ukraine desperately needs.

        That is odd. If the ammunition stored is of Russian/Soviet/Warsaw Pact standard, then that should be 152mm shells — a caliber that is not, or no longer manufactured in NATO countries (not to mention the appropriate fuses).

      2. Polar Socialist

        A minor correction, if you please: Imperial Russia, Soviet Union and modern Russia have always used 6″ (152 mm) as the heavy artillery caliber. Pretty much only the French used the 155 mm in the time of WW1, whence USA adopted the same caliber (using a lot of French equipment in that war).

        The rule of thumb is that 155 is NATO ammunition, 152 is Soviet/East Block. Thus the Cobasna arsenal may contain usable 152 mm shells, but not 155 mm shells. How many, we don’t really know. In 2019 Zakharova said there’s 20,000 tons of ammunition, of which 11,000 is about to expire and will be soon demolished by the ministry of defense.

        What ever remains there now, it’s everything from small arms ammunition and hand grenades to 3000 kg aerial bombs. If I was a betting man, I’d say there’s less than a weeks worth of artillery ammunition left.

        That said, escalation to Transnistria is pretty much the only way Ukraine can escalate anymore.

          1. Greg

            It’s not a huge error, Ukraine is desperate for both 155mm and 152mm, as they still have a huge number of functional soviet artillery pieces despite the constant rate of destruction over the last year.

      3. Paradan

        I’m not a scientist but if you go look at the ammo depot, you’ll see a bunch of cement bunkers separated by 50-100m from one another. I don’t think its possible for it to all go off at once.

        Now, if this facility had been built by capitalists, they would just piled it up like a big mountain of boom and thrown a tarp over it. Of course they’d put “No Smoking” signs up, liability and all that.

      4. R.S.

        And ammo can last a very very long time if stored properly.

        My textbooks say that the standard shelf life for artillery shells is “between 12 and 15 years for unheated roofed sheds/bunkers, 5 years for open storage”. It can be extended, but not indefinitely. The maximum storage time under normal circumstances is 40 years for the shells themselves, 25 years for the explosive filling, with inspections every 2 years. For rocket engines (MLRS ammo) it’s 15 years. I doubt there were regular checks and inspections at Colbasna in the 90s.

        The “57% are obsolete and cannot be used or transported” figure probably means “cat 3, unusable” or even “cat 3, dangerous to handle”, and that’s the reason why the ammo is still sitting there.

        1. vao

          According to the manufacturer, the Strela MANPADs I allude to above had a 25 years shelf life. They were 35 years old when the Germans pulled them out of storage in 2022, having officially retired them in 2014 and assigned them for disposal (which was never done because the negotiations with the specialized disposal firm had broken down).

          So it seems that all that USSR-era ammunition in Transnistria has passed, or is close to pass its expiration date.

          1. The Rev Kev

            I think that it was Brian from New Atlas that was pointing out the cynical motive of the west getting rid of very old weapons and ammo and giving it to the Ukraine rather them paying big money to have to properly dispose of that gear themselves. Those Strela MANPADs are a great example where they were left to rot when they should have been properly destroyed but now Germany no longer has that expense anymore and it became a problem for the Ukrainians.

            1. vao

              now Germany no longer has that expense anymore

              Not quite — only 500 Strela MANPADs were finally worth (for whatever definition of worth) sending to Ukraine. Germany still has to dispose of the remaining 2200 weapons in an advanced state of decay.

      5. Alan Roxdale

        I’m sorry but this is exactly the kind of distraction the whole weapons depot story is meant to evoke.

        Any Moldovan escalation has as its primary goal a political outcome. Namely the shoring up of the entire neocon line across Europe. Instead of considering the potential primary/secondary/tertiary effects of Ukraine invading transnistria — Russia forced to move West to Odessa, more sanctions/Nato mobilisation in response, Moldova inviting Romanian/Nato troops/peacekeepers into transnistria, rejoining Romania to get around neutrality provisions, etc, etc, etc — we’re talking about ammo supplies and big explosions. Distraction headline!

        The MSM will say ANYTHING about the escalation and its motivation regardless of outcomes. However I guarantee no-one will care one whit about ammo supplies after the stroke is pulled. The real lede is being buried here. No-one in the west even knows what’s going on Moldova. Has anyone event mentioned Gagauzia yet? So we only talk about what we do understand, which is ammo etc, and that is why these lines are so effective at distracting us.

        I don’t think this has anything to do with ammo stores. At all even.

        1. vao

          My guess is that as soon as concentrated Ukrainian troops are in their starting blocks to attack Transnistria, they will be subject to a wuthering “shock and awe” bombardment by Russian missiles of all types and calibers, ground, sea and airborne. This will also serve as a warning to the Romanians, and to the French and US troops they currently host.

        2. Yves Smith Post author

          First, you insinuate the source I found is somehow allied with telling a tall tale with respect to the ammo dump. Second you straw man ME re saying what the aim of causing problems in Transistria/Moldova might be. I never said there were not political. Shelling the ZPP nuclear power plan also was primarily a political exercise, to try to force the declaration of a ceasefire in the area which would greatly constrain Russian operations.

          The article contains Moldovan whinges and looks largely repeat a 2016 Moldovan source piece. That article argues for evacuation of the materiel and claims an explosion would break the concrete bunkers. The article ends with a mild anti Russian remark (mild compared to what you see from El Pais in 2022:

          The short version is the Moldovans do not want Russian forces in Transnistria. But their apparently long standing position has not been that Russia should take a hike because the ammo dump as threat is exaggerated. They want it treated as a hazardous site and largely/fully emptied. And it is similarly pre SMO Moldovan articles that claim an explosion could cause a nuke level blast and would destroy the concrete bunkers.

          So it is against Moldova’s political aims (getting the Russian forces out) to depict the site as a monster explosion risk, yet they do.

          1. NN Cassandra

            The point of these bunkers spread over area is that even if one blows up, it doesn’t start chain reaction igniting everything else in one big boom. Otherwise there would be no reason to bother with them, you could put everything into one warehouse.

            Of course God knows what is there and in what state, so theoretically everything is possible, but these predictions of nuclear level carnage are at the extreme end, not the default.

            1. The Infamous Oregon Lawhobbit

              IF one blows up accidentally, due to deteriorated boomstuff inside. See further examples at the decommissioned chemical depot just down the road from me.

              BUT, if were to open those bunker doors and strategically place a decapound or two of C4 in each, and then connect it all together with some det cord …

              That would be a BOOM of a different color.

              Side note to Yves – yes, under good storage conditions ammo can last a LONG time. But, as noted above, there may be some issue with how “good” those conditions at this warehouse complex has been.

      1. The Rev Kev

        I’ve seen videos of Ukrainians using WW1-era machine guns which probably came from a museum somewhere. Really ancient stuff from over a century ago.

          1. R.S.

            Those WW1 MGs are Soviet mod.1910/30 Maxim guns. They use 7.62x54R, so no shortage of ammo. But it’s museum stuff indeed, completely retired by the 50s.

            LDNR militias had some before 2022, probably pulled out of some God-forgotten storage. But the militias grabbed everything they could lay their hands on.

        1. Greg

          They were still making maxims up through ww2 when I looked it up. So they are from ww1, but they are also from ww2 and after, they had a really long work life.

          Kinda like how you still see potato diggers and other ww1 general purpose machine guns calibred for .303 in service with various african states.

      2. Polar Socialist

        Actually the T-12 Rapira is also in use with the Russian army. It is an old piece, sure, but it’s also know as “sniper’s gun” by the artillerists and I think this war has shown that the concept of an “infantry gun” is not yet obsolete.

        At least in most wars fought invention of powder, there has been a need for a direct fire cannon that can keep up with the infantry. While T-12 was designed as an anti-tank gun, it’s qualities make it very capable in hitting enemy strong points from point-blank range.

        For it’s hitting power it’s small, has protective shield and can fire 10-12 shots per minute. It’s lighter than M777, so the crew can manhandle it to a firing position and out of it.

        1. Janie

          I saw a video about 10 months ago in which Russian snipers were using their grandfather’s world war II rifles, retrieved from attics, because of the quality of the optics.

  3. DJG, Reality Czar

    The new post on why the global South doesn’t support the West in Ukraine leads me to assert that the “global South” may start at the Austrian border. (And I do recommend that you read that post.)

    Il Fatto Quotidiano reported yesterday on polling by an “ECFR” European Council on Foreign Affairs. The differences in support for options are telling. Italians don’t support sending arms to Ukraine, don’t seem to consider Russia the Great Enemy, and have noticeably less appetite (minimal) for committing troops. Of course, Zelensky is currently trying to revoke the permits of eight journalists, for reporting things wrong, natch, and one Italian journalist has already been assassinated. So Italians have a right to be skeptical.

    Other commenters here from “South” in Europe may want to comment on the split. I know that we have commenters from Spain, Portugal, and Greece here.

    Meanwhile, a ground report for peace: This weekend there was an overnight peace march from Perugia to Assisi, which holds much meaning in Italy. Yep, Saint Francis, he’s still around.

    Locally, last night, there was a “fiaccolata,” a torch-light parade here in Chocolate City in the Undisclosed Region. We assembled at Sermig, in Borgo Dora, the antique / second-hand district. There were about 3,000 in attendance, I estimate–not bad for a march at night, starting after 8:30 p.m.

    Unionists were out in force with their flags–particularly CGIL (the reds), UIL (moderate but very assertive), and CSIL. There were plenty of torches. So the march from Borgo Dora, to Corso Giulio Cesare, through the closed-for-the-evening Porta Palazzo Market, to our rather grand City Hall, was highly atmospheric.

    Noting above Biden’s smart-ass remark about China’s role as mediator, noting Zelenskyyyy’s endless begging and overt corruption, noting the face of Jake Sullivan who looks like The Angel of Death, I’d say that the U S of A is well along in losing the Italians. The question is how Italy will remake the deal with NATO and the EU. There will be surprises.

    1. DJG, Reality Czar

      I refer to this quote:

      “The idea that China is going to be negotiating the outcome of a war that’s a totally unjust war for Ukraine is just not rational,” Pres. Biden tells…

      The president as a bully, Americans as the most bullied people in the world–and showing plenty of signs of it.

      1. The Rev Kev

        I heard Biden talking earlier. The idea seems to be that as China has not criticized Russia nor taken part in the sanctions regime, that they are not entitled to play a major part in peace negotiations. That tells me that the US/EU still thinks that they will win and will be dictating the terms of the end of this war on behalf of the Ukraine. In the distant past I remember Scandinavian countries making efforts to negotiate and host an end to troubles in other countries but which of them could do that with Russia these days? Norway perhaps?

        1. j

          Biden is the product of his environment, i.e. the DC Bubble and Echo Chamber, in which he has lived his entire adult life. if he is capable of any point of view save that of DC, I have yet to see evidence of it. Admittedly, I am not looking hard as I have lost any illusion that DC speak is anything other than pap for the populace, orders for underlings, and insults for the disobedient, or more simply untruths and the we-make-the-rules-order finds is deeply distressing and baffling when they are not instantly obeyed.

          1. nippersdad

            Since Hillary’s loss of 2016 the Democratic party leadership has seemed to me to be practically indistinguishable from the John Birch Society types that was raised around. I am in hopes that this is more of a function of my second childhood than a reflection of reality, but as it stands I see no point to them at all; we already have perfectly adequate McCarthyite Republicans.

            It does not appear to have registered with them that one of the points of voting for Democrats was always to avoid being red baited at the slightest provocation. They no longer even have that to say for themselves. They truly have no shame.

            1. Pat

              I think it has been a two part process. Much of the Democratic Leadership had signed on to the American Empire long before 2016. Clinton and Biden certainly, Obama was less obvious but partband parcel. Red baiting might have taken a back seat to the great Muslim hoarde for several decades, but the fear mongering was the same. What happened between 2016 and 2020 was more disheartening, because clearly any outside voices in the party have either been assimilated or ejected. There are no Wellstones anymore.

            2. Mark Gisleson

              A Democrat party that is steadfast in support of long-overdue rewrites of children’s classics (Roald Dahl) is a Democrat party that denounces all previous American political cults as reactionary and insufficient in the face of the truly frightening future for which we are totally unprepared. Yes, we’re talking Russians. And/or Trump.

              No one is permitted to reply to this comment pursuant to an email I sent the moderators who I am sure will realize it is their duty to be at least as compliant as the laggards at Facebook, Twitter and the USPS.

              P.S. Yves, the DOJ has finalized the list. Comments by nippersday, carla, flora, ambrit and griffen may be viewed by other regulars but should not be visible to visitors.

              RevKev, Polar Socialist, Vao, Wukchumni, Lexx, Lex, and Screwball appear to have been hacked by an ISIS server in Syraq and are suspended until such time as they give us their phone numbers.

              The other commenters we spoke about earlier are currently being detained until such time when the Subcommittee on Naked Capitalism wishes to call them as witnesses.

              Bluechecked Viceroy for Internal Affairs,

              M. Germanicus Gisleson
              (former FBI social media embed assigned to monitor Naked Capitalism)

                1. ambrit

                  We know that times are getting tough when the line between literary satire and phenomenal reality begins to blur so.
                  My recent encounters with the local Medical Industrial Complex inform my ever increasing cynicism.
                  The rot and decay are ubiquitous.
                  (Oh. Thanks for dealing with the “volunteer moderator” the other day. Sometimes I find passive aggressive behaviour hard to parse. Stay safe!)
                  Sent from Festung Hattiesburg, Mississippi, Transactionally United States of America.

                2. Mark Gisleson

                  Very serious. You will need to enter your phone number into the challenge screen to continue this conversation. This is also being noted in your permanent record.

              1. OIFVet

                I gave the arrest team the slips. Paper slips, € denomination. Reasonable chaps, 50 per and some grape brandy settled that matter. The American in charge of the local goons was none too pleased, but he’s now safely on his way to the Bakhmut front, hidden in a container of defective BG ammo. That service was free of charge, the local goons took a dim view of his hypocritical attempt to limit their right to free enterprise.

              2. ambrit

                Gadzooks! So that is what the black SUV is doing parked across the street from the front of the house? (I have not been notified of the terms of my “House Arrest” yet. Everything takes twice as long to accomplish nowadays, even Homeland Security business.)
                And my dear M Germanicus, “former” FBI social media embed? Does this mean that we will soon see you running for political office as a Blue Check Democrat? We non-compliant will naturally have to begin describing you and your ‘fellow travelers’ as “Blue Checkists.”
                Trotsky must be revolving in his grave at supersonic speed. Who could have predicted that his movement would take control of America from within?
                Stay safe, remain steadfast and patriotic. Enforce the Edicts for the good of the Nation.

                1. Mark Gisleson

                  Yes, we are also blaming Trotsky, as well as people who say “Gadzooks” but you were already on one list so really all in all this has gone well and just as soon as we find this Tuttle character I think we’ll be done here, at least for now.

                1. Mark Gisleson

                  We’ve been looking for you for a very long time but thanks to this reply we now have your GPS coordinates (see the Tuttle link above). So few of you WPM deniers still at large but fewer every year : |

  4. farmboy

    interesting analysis from grain trader Duane Lowry…One of China’s 12-point peace plan is for grain exports to continue without disruptions. Another is for Western sanctions against Russia to end. Now, IF you think that just China releasing a proposal means that we are on a negotiating pathway, why would Russia agree to extend the grain export corridor without getting something in return?
    *If we are on a negotiating pathway, the grain export corridor is a bargaining chip. I believe it is set to expire about March 20. Already, there is some reluctance to commit to transactions because of uncertainty.
    *If we are not on a negotiating pathway yet, but you expect to be “someday”, again, why would Russia agree to an extension?
    *Ukraine still says they will only negotiate if Russia withdraws from all Ukraine territories…back to 1991 borders. Well, that’s not happening anytime soon, if ever.
    *If Russia has desires for Odessa, that means military action in a zone where grain exports just wouldn’t be possible.
    *IF we are closer to negotiations, which I doubt, until they conclude, it is highly unlikely that Russia will extend the grain corridor deal, as it is now officially a bargaining chip, something that it wasn’t before, because there were no negotiations taking place or on the horizon.
    *If Russia begins an offensive before negotiations actually begin, which is MOST likely, then grain markets will feel compelled to add “what if” premium into the price structure, especially after this week’s long liquidation pressure activity.
    *Another of the 12 points is that the US needs to end cold war mentality. Just how is that to happen???
    *From a military advantage perspective, the longer Russia waits to stage an aggressive advancement, the more time the West has to move equipment into Ukraine.
    *From a European/US/Western stamina for continuing, it is clearly waning, despite lip service comments.
    *The bombing of Nord Stream pipeline is a huge problem for sustaining full German support. It is also a point where Europeans could possibly point blame on hardship to the US, rather than to Putin. Not everyone of course, but enough so to fuel a anti-war effort.
    ***Bottom line, we enter this weekend with absolutely nothing concrete about a negotiation pathway, but rather, we have now defined reasons for neither side to move on any single item until a framework is in place. With Ukraine still unwilling to negotiate without conditions, we have nothing. With Russia unwilling to negotiate without their original demands being met, we have nothing.
    *If Russia seeks to soften Ukraine before getting into negotiations, we have notable escalation ahead before we actually negotiate.
    *If Ukraine believes/hopes the West will deliver new and more advanced weapons and support, they have no reason to negotiate away any of their demands.
    *At best, someone might try and hope for continued appearance of stagnation, but recent “stagnation” has involved heavy casualties on both sides. With Russia having so many more forces at their ready, the question has to be asked about how long Ukraine will be able to sustain heavy casualties. Some say 40% of Ukraine’s population has left the country. Some say Ukraine doesn’t have the military supplies to sustain a full Russian advance.
    **We are not closer to a peaceful outcome today, but rather we may only have defined why we are actually at the point of a dramatic escalation. Today’s China plan highlighted that we don’t yet have conditions or willingness for a negotiated settlement to be seriously discussed, by either side

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Huh? Russia has never objected to the grain corridor per se.

      What they objected to was:

      1. Ukraine using it to launch an attack on ships in Russia’s military base in Sebastopol

      2. The corridor being sold as necessary to feed poor countries (something Russia very much supported) but instead 80% of the shipments per Russia (or “only” 60% per the EU) going to Europe

      3. Russia not having its fertilizer shipments unblocked, which would also help feed the hungry. That had been promised as part of the grain corridor deal and not happened as of the time Russia suspended it. It was promised to happen when Russia recommitted.

      There will be no negotiations. This is all a headfake. China is trying to position itself as a Great Power whose views need to be considered. Unacceptable to US/NATO. Second objective is to look more concerned about the impact of the war on innocent bystanders than the US/NATO. That is a low bar but still a good opportunity to exploit.

      Both Scott Ritter and Douglas Macgregor say Russia’s offensive has begun. Macgregor said that maybe 2 weeks ago. But they are doing that by increasing pressure all along the line of contact. More and more observers are saying Russia may not do the sort of big maneuver warfare advances that war junkies like to see. Or if they do, it will be only when the Ukraine army is close to or has collapsed. Given the way the US and NATO is whinging about ammo supplies, Ukraine is set to run hopelessly short by late summer, if not sooner. And that’s not even considering what Russia might do to what is left of Ukraine’s grid.

      Russia’s incentives are to continue the war until Ukraine and NATO are prostrated (NATO by running its discretionary weapons stocks dry and having it be a useless spectator). This is Russia’s best chance to achieve a somewhat durable resolution. It can’t negotiate with counterparties that have shown themselves to be utterly untrustworthy.

      Russia however would look bad if it didn’t feign being willing to talk. Fortunately US/NATO hubris is playing into Russia’s hand.

      1. John

        It requires tunnel vision not to see this, but relying on the MSM produces tunnel vision just as surely as does giving attention to the DC Bubble and Echo Chamber.
        Without NC and kindred voices, it would get lonely out here.

    2. Dftbs

      It does seem that unless you’re on the NAFO payroll or a denizen of Reddit, where Ukraine is known to be marching on Moscow, the Chinese plan was reasonable enough to be certain to elicit premature rejections from Ukraine’s sponsors. The Chinese are surely smart enough to have anticipated the Western response and so the proposal must have been floated, and leaked, with the express purpose of being publicly and loudly rejected by Ukraine’s Western sponsors.

      I don’t quite think the Chinese are operating under the pretense of “great power” prestige. Chinese diplomatic and strategic patience in light of constant and explicit Western provocation are interpreted by some as noble, and by Western policy makers as fear. But in reality the Chinese continue to prepare in economic, military and diplomatic terms for the conflict which the West has all but set a specific date for. In the same way the Russian ultimatums of late 2021, and their rejection, provided the Russians with their justifications for further action. The rejection of the Chinese plan provides Beijing with the ability to point to a concrete public event to justify their subsequent actions.

      In the media oversaturated, ego centric West, we assume these public displays of diplomacy are meant for us. But the “pr” effect of Putin’s ultimatum was for Russian public consumption; the Russians know they can’t affect Western public opinion and that even if they could, Western public opinion doesn’t affect policy. The ultimatum was part of the justification for the hardships the Russian government thought its citizens would have to endure. Similarly the rejection of the Chinese peace plan isn’t meant to wake Westerners up to the notion that their governments are war mongering. It’s meant to show the Chinese people why they will align more directly with the Russians, and accelerate their decoupling with the West. That may cause some discomfort for those Chinese that have business and personal relations with the West, but the PRC can now point to unambiguous Western war mongering.

      It’s been noted in the comments that the US rejection is also motivated by the belief it can shape the outcome of the current war via a negotiation that will “freeze” and perpetuate the conflict at Russia’s expense. I think this is delusional for a number of reasons. First the Russians know their real antagonist is the US, Putin made it clear last week. They seem to be persecuting the conflict at a pace which suits them, not only with respect to Ukrainian resources but to overall US resources. If the US is the real antagonist, then it has to be defeated without risking the end of the world. Second, despite the neocon, neolib, delusions of Biden and his cabal, the US doesn’t have the resources to support a rump Ukraine in a frozen conflict. This will become more and more clear as the Chinese continue their undeclared decoupling. Finally all the future military expenditures the US and its vassals engage in will come at a trade off with the functioning of their societies. As such it won’t be used to stand Russians off at the Dnieper or the PLAN in the straights of Taiwan. It will be used to enforce discipline and obedience within the empire.

  5. griffen

    Rainy and wet weather happening in almost always sunny and dry LA. Yeah, national news coverage this weekend morning shows the LA Viaduct / flood control filled to the proverbial brim with floodwaters.

    Elsewhere in weather news, here in the southeastern US a few record high temperatures were set this week. Spring is here today, if only for a brief moment, which I always find a welcoming sign that February is almost finished. Bring on the pollen ( said no one ever )!

    1. tevhatch

      Spring rains… East Palestine, not good.

      Update to Webster: Privilege; Private Law See: Norfolk Southern’s private police force, private testing labs, private explosives team, etc.

      Is there any governmental function that does not bow to private law?

        1. jefemt

          L M G T F Y. From wikidiff ( you can’t make this stuff up…)

          “As nouns the difference between fascism and corporatism is that fascism is a political regime, having totalitarian aspirations, ideologically based on a relationship between business and the centralized government, business-and-government control of the market place, repression of criticism or opposition, a leader cult and exalting the state and/or religion above individual rights. Originally only applied (usually capitalized) to Benito Mussolini’s Italy.
          Corporatism is political/economic system in which power is exercised through large organizations (businesses, trade unions, their associated lobbying efforts, etc.) working in concert or conflict with each other; usually with the goal of influencing or subsuming the direction of the state and generally only to benefit their own socioeconomic agendas at the expense of the will of the people, and to the detriment of the common good.”

          hmmmmm potato potatoe

          1. Revenant

            Fascism is national, corporatism can be global.

            Frankly, fascism is more honest and it at least privileges a populace and a political unit. Corporatism is the Matrix.

            If forced to choose between the Fourth Reich or Davos, I would probably choose the Reich (but preferably neither).

            1. JBird4049

              Neither fascism or corporatism are completely accurate in describing today’s political economy, I think. If nothing else, modern neoliberalism and government has a lack of charismatic leaders as well as being very incompetent in anything aside from keeping power and pillaging.

              Beyond this I really don’t what to think. I think that part of the confusion is that the Western leadership, and therefore the nomenklatura, apparatchiks, intelligentsia, and the modern commentariat are disjointed; aside from maintaining power and looting, just wtf is the purpose of the whole system. Identity Politics is just a pseudo-religion pretending to be an ideology of reform. Neoliberalism is also treating as an ideology when it is used as a pseudo-religion. Then there is scientism, which has turned a means of inquiry into a religion.

              Maybe I should not say that these ideologies are fake religions because their adherents truly act like faithful believers; they just don’t acknowledge the religiousness and these religions lack intellectual framework (or the humanity) all the great religions have.

              Still, if these disparate group of clowns, dangerous as they are, don’t really have a coherent ideology or a plan beyond “give me more” it is hard to describe this whole mess. It is not a political economy, a philosophy, a movement, a cult, a religion, or even a grift. It is a mixture of all of this.

              However, I am focused on the neoliberalism and it’s slave pseudo-leftism. I need more information on the nascent, but growing, modern left as well as the religious political organizations that are also fermenting hidden away by the media.

              We are still in this period of transition where almost anything can happen, which makes describing it difficult especially as it different enough to not match anything in the past except in very broad strokes. An impressionist painting that is a mishmash of several other paintings. Eventually, it will become a realist painting.

              1. communistmole

                “aside from maintaining power and looting, just wtf is the purpose of the whole system“

                None. It’s the nihilism of Nietzsche’s Last Man …

              2. paul


                I’ve got some news you dudes could use
                That might help y’all get by
                So I thought I’d nonchalantly mention the Hustler’s Convention
                Taking place at the end of July
                It’ll be at Hamhawk’s Hall, winner take all
                And only the best can play
                Cost you ten grand to get in, but you must continue to win
                Or you won’t be allowed to stay
                They’ll be money for the making, b**hes for the taking
                And all you can shoot, snort, smoke, or drink
                And a whole lotta lames will fall victim to the games
                Cause only true hustler’s can think
                Gon’ be hustler’s galore all trying to score
                Traveling by land, sea, and air
                They’ll be a couple in a plane from New York and L.A
                And other points distant and near
                They’ll start to arrive around eleven fifty-five
                At Number 66 Snake Eyes Square
                Won’t be no cops on this beat, they been payed off real sweet
                Why even the mayor done copped him a share
                Now Imma be in charge, of the security men at large
                That’ll be surveilling the floor

                And when the sh** hit the fan, just grease the palm of my hand
                And I’ll let y’all slip out the door
                Just give me 20% of each earned grand from either you or your man
                Subtracted from you total net
                And the words “telephone for you” will be y’alls cue
                To start easin’ from out of the set
                Well that’s about it, yah and its time for me to split
                Now y’all can school me in a week or two
                Sport you should make it a bet to land on the set
                And let Spoons make his hustler’s debut
                We had our heads spinning just thinking ’bout winning
                But we maintained a silent stare
                It made us the (?) so don’t blow your cool
                So we acted like we didn’t care
                But I knew this was it as we watched (?) split
                Contemplating what all this meant
                I had saved my money like a bee store’s honey
                Just laying to make this event
                Spoons let me know that he was ready to go
                So we added up and split
                We went to a south side hotel called the fires of hell
                And proceeded to cop a lil’ bit

                I think the recently discovered fine artist, hunter biden, has ‘homaged’,
                without understanding.

            2. griffen

              Corporatism for the win, with a humble thanks to the Citizens United decision meaning corporations can be “persons” too with broad reaching implications. And also, dead men / dead women with generational wealth can pass it along merely with a properly executed set of trust documents in the chosen state of “residence”. While us mopes, generally, are going to muddle along with aspirations of retirement and maybe a sliver of benefits to go with it.

              Coke or Pepsi. Nike or Adidas. Amazon. Support this corporate monolith or support that corporate monolith. Yeah I am fairly cynical on just what the next 20 to 25 years will bring to bear. To quote darkly the Hunger Games, and may the odds be ever in your favor.

          2. JTMcPhee

            Time to re-read an NC classic, the nine-part series — “Journey Into a Libertarian Future,” starting here: Not one-to-one correspondence, but the author nailed a lot of it.

            Very interesting to me is the growth of Wagner PMC as an apparently pretty discipline force to be reckoned with, looking to me a lot like the private warrior army in the Dorsai series by Gordon R. Dickson. Not sure what role Prigozhin eventually has in mind for himself —since he is riding the crest of Russian resurgence, which I am still naive enough to believe is a bit of a boon to the world. Maybe not such a P.O.S. as Erik Prince, who had great plans to build a private army on US/NATO dollars in Ukraine, Recall he is Betsy Devos’ brother. Nice family.

        2. tegnost

          mmhmm…the currently accepted neolib role of .gov is to enforce the corporate will, and yes, there’s a somewhat indefinite word for that…

      1. jhallc

        Haven’t the railroads had private force since the 1800’s. I think that’s were the Pinkerton’s got their start. All those rail riding hobos and striking workers during the 30’s had to be dealt with somehow.

    2. Wukchumni

      Really has the feel of the winter of 1968-69, there’s another 6 feet of snow in the High Sierra from this system, and another system coming in, yikes!

      1. The Rev Kev

        I was watching all that snow fall on the news tonight. Hopefully a lot of it would have fallen in catchment areas. But I did wonder what would happen if it quickly melted.

        1. JP

          Major flooding off the west flank of the sierra in California has always been the result of a warm spring rain melting a significant snow pack. There have been comments lately reminding readers of the fact that the central valley floor was a vast lake less than 200 years ago. What isn’t well known is the fact that the area of that lake would grow or shrink by double or half from year to year.

      2. Lexx

        It’s an early spring and a quick warm up that worries me. The high today is forecast at 47; the high tomorrow at 51. Too warm for late February in northern Colorado. Between snowstorms the highs are just a little too warm. I’d like to see cool temperatures and snow off and on continue into early April; a gradual rise in temperatures and a slow melt off of the snowpack… but that’s not what we’re likely to get. I can see the heat of the summer to come in the ‘heat’ of winter. Those red-shouldered blackbirds were a few weeks early.

        1. Wukchumni

          As much snow and rain as we’ve gotten in Cali, it looked pretty bleak on interstate 70 in terms of Colorado River snowpack…

          Skied Beaver Creek today under the guise of blue skies, magnificent!

  6. The Rev Kev

    ‘It’s possible that highly toxic dioxins were formed when East Palestine officials burned vinyl chloride at the derailment site—but authorities still aren’t testing for it. Residents hosted independent chemical experts at a community town hall to try and get answers.’

    I feel so sorry for those people there as they have been abandoned. It may not be much but perhaps those people should be wearing N95 masks in public for some form of protection, no matter how little. One woman was saying how some people are thinking of boycotting anything grown in Ohio. At that, I was remembering what the US government did with all that sea food caught after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. They purchased all that food and fed it to people who had no choice but to eat it – prisoners in penitentiaries and US service personnel. Meanwhile, Old Joe was asked if he was going to visit that community but he said ‘At this point I’m not.’ Probably worried about getting cancer or something-

    1. tevhatch

      “Probably worried about getting cancer or something-” Scared of meeting his fly-over country relatives, Joe and his family are a cancer.

    2. Screwball

      Well, he might not want to set a precedent. If he visits one train wreck he might be expected to visit the other 1000 or so, If Mayo’s Pete’s numbers are correct. On the other hand, he might get a kick out of all the FJB signs around town, so maybe he should show up.

      But as my PMC friends say, going to Ukraine was MUCH MORE important, and the train wreck is all Trumps fault anyway. The people from East Palestine voted the wrong color, are not the right class, so let them eat PVC.

      Snark aside, I agree Rev. I feel for those people too. What a shame the way this has been handled, and continues to be handled. Those people have every right to be irate IMO. They have been failed by about everyone who could have failed them.

    3. tegnost

      ISTM he’s talking to his base. At the family dinner the other day most the commented topic was how little they’d care if texas seceded or the red states got a divorce. And florida, I mean they don’t even talk about that place anymore…”won’t some hurricane relieve me of this troublesome sandspit?”

      it’s also just the environmental disaster playbook now to say “what environmental disaster?”

    4. ambrit

      The ghost of Beau probably visited “Creepy” Joe in a dream and warned him not to go. If Nancy Reagan could run the country for four years using the Court Astrologer to give policy advice, “Creepy” Joe certainly can heed the importunings of the Family Shade.

    5. some guy

      If the winds have been blowing consistently east or southeast, and most of Ohio is west and some is northwest of East Palestine, then most of Ohio has not yet been coated with chemical fallout from the chemical bomb train and the staged uncontrolled burn at the wreck-site. Whereas adjacent parts of bordering states downwind from the chemical plumes may have been chemically coated and tainted.

      The same principle would hold for where the contaminated water goes and flows.

      If people are thinking of boycotting food from a chemical safety and contamination concern, they should focus on food grown within the spreading chemical footprint of this disaster rather than boycotting food from “Ohio” when most of “Ohio” has not been contaminated by this event.

    1. digi_owl

      Funny thing is that they come off the same family tree as badgers and wolverines.

      And it do seem to have the smirk of a real rascal.

  7. tevhatch

    What town is this that CNN uses for it’s Townhall? The people populating it’s mail room and canteen, or at least those who’ve been given proper Pavlovian training?

    1. The Rev Kev

      Near the beginning of that long page was the sentence that said ‘This hour, we will speak to a soldier, on the frontlines; a mother, who was uneasy about America’s resolve; and a child, who is looking for protection, from the United States of America.’ And it went downhill from there. Just by what those three were asking, you could see that they had been given the questions to ask but as you had Samantha Power and Jake “the snake” Sullivan there, what else can you expect? Actually it was a bit tedious to go through as it seemed to have been all pre-packeged. But in that sentence that I quoted, perhaps instead of saying ‘a child, who is looking for protection, from the United States of America’ it would have been better to say ‘a child, who is looking for protection from the United States of America.’

    2. notabanker

      As I usually do after reading the links, I rant in my head on various topics. This morning topic was why is CNN even relevant anymore. From a viewership perspective, assuming 330M Americans, they get on a great day, 2 out of 1000 people watching them. It really is a pittance.

      Then quite literally two minutes later, I see a piece from Emily Jashinsky on breaking points about US taxpayer funded disinformation orgs that are blacklisting alt media websites. Emily’s focus here is on left vs right., and of course there a long list of right leaning outlets being blacklisted, but she also makes the point on Tiabbi and the left being censored as well.

      This has very real impacts on online advertising revenues and amplifies corporate sponsored media while putting alternative media at serious economic disadvantage. These aren’t shady corporate sponsored black ops NGO’s but US government funded entities.

      1. fresno dan

        As I usually do after reading the links, I rant in my head on various topics.
        I do the same, although it is bad for my blood pressure – I am sure that being well informed is killing me. With regard to CNN’s ratings, I look upon that as unadulterated good news

  8. The Rev Kev

    “Wang Yi Meets with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba”

    I wonder if Wang Yi was asking Kuleba about that aerospace company Motor Sich that was stolen by the Ukrainians from Chinese investors? If the Ukrainians are hoping that the Chinese will invest heavily in the Ukraine, then I have news for them and it is all bad.

  9. pjay

    – ‘NATO on the precipice’ – Politico

    Bearing in mind that Politico is now an overt propaganda outlet whose German owner, Axel Springer, requires employees to pledge support for “a free market economy, a united Europe, and Israel’s right to exist,” I found this article fascinating. First, there was the hilarious opening, which compared the joyous party of “back slapping allies” at the Munich Security Conference with this:

    “Two days later in Moscow, Vladimir Putin stood alone, rigidly ticking through another speech full of resentment and lonely nationalism, pausing only to allow his audience of grim-faced government functionaries to struggle to their feet in a series of mandatory ovations in a cold, cavernous hall.”

    Subtle. But the broader message of the piece was this. Just as Jake Sullivan had noted the “tremendous opportunity” presented by the destruction of the Nord Stream pipeline, this article was all about the tremendous opportunity the war in Ukraine provided for the complete revival and renewal of NATO. Just as the pipeline had apparently blown up through spontaneous combustion, the Russian invasion was apparently the unforeseen result of Putin’s evil expansionist designs. NATO was just an innocent bystander, but that’s no reason not to take advantage of these “tremendous opportunities” when they present themselves!

    Also noteworthy was this theme:

    “Countries on the alliance’s eastern front have long been frustrated, at times publicly, with the slower pace of change many in Western Europe and the United States are advocating — even after Russia’s invasion.

    “We started to change and for western partners, it’s been kind of a delay,” Polish Armed Forces Gen. Rajmund Andrzejczak said during a visit to Washington this month.’

    So you see why it was important to get those countries on the “eastern front” into NATO while Russia was still recovering from its 1990s trauma. They were needed to light a fire under those western foot-draggers to protect against the inevitable Russian invasion of Europe. And sure enough, Putin’s unprovoked invasion proved them right. If only we had listened to the warnings of our Baltic brethren sooner.

  10. Not Again

    Has anyone ever watched Nanny McPhee? The gist of the movie is that Nanny McPhee is the god-ugliest woman in the world but as she does more and more nice things and good works for those around her, she becomes prettier and is stunning at the end of the flick.

    The opposite is happening to Joe and Jake Sullivan. Those pictures you posted prove in their faces that they’ve been up to some nefarious deeds indeed. Someone, get them a mirror for their faces and their souls.

      1. JBird4049

        I am not quite sure that this is completely true, but I have seen people with dead eyes. When talking and moving about it is often hidden, but watch someone either in person or on a photo when they are just standing, doing nothing, and then look at their eyes. My, talk about windows to the soul. Just empty. All the emotional life of a shark.

        Thinking about this, perhaps people do tend to have a face that represents them although anyone who works in the outdoors (or an excellent plastic surgeon) might not that.

        Maybe this is what is disturbing about too many politicians as their faces are vacuous, not showing a life lived. Hi, I am Senator Blandface. Please vote for me. I have no opinions or convictions worth anything and never done anything remotely fun, embarrassing, or controversial at all.

        Maybe Mr. Trump gets some attention is because his face is not the perfectly groomed, doll like face mask of President Biden. Heck, I am in my fifties and I have more wrinkles and jowls than Biden has. Or many other people who are public figures. I understand why someone would want some work done on their faces, but when everything from the top of their head, past the nose, teeth, jaws, chest, arms, legs, and anything else that ain’t perfect, just what is real?

  11. The Rev Kev

    “The metaverse has failed? It never even took off”

    Why go with the Metaverse when Second Life is already there? Perhaps Mark Zuckerberg thought that by pushing this concept in public that it would help but how many people really trust Zuckerburg these days? Everybody knows what he is all about. I suppose that what really pushed the Metaverse off the edge was the development of ChatGPT as that is the next big thing – until the next one comes along. It’s hard to have more than one fad going at a time.

    1. digi_owl

      What is funny is that i had forgotten about Second Life until this metaverse talk stated, and was surprised to learn that it has not gone belly up long ago.

    2. Mikel

      The financial transactions would be the only thing real in the Metaverse. I look at it as fundamentally a pitch for another less regulated financial space.

  12. Lex

    Dioxins are not just possible, they’re pretty certain. The EPA/Norfolk Southern list of cars, contents, integrity of cars and final disposition after the intentional burn clearly states that 2 hopper cars of polyethylene pellets and 2 hopper cars of polyvinyl were burned.

    The EPA poisoned a town (and much more) because it was more convenient than responding to the spill appropriately. They’re still not finding dangerous levels of things because they’re purposefully asking the wrong questions. Or more precisely they’re specifically asking questions that will produce the answers they want.

    1. Screwball

      Yet the trains were running 48 hours later, according to a couple of people interviewed who live there. There is no way they could have removed all that dirt, stone, and chemicals to lay down new tracks in 48 hours – and ensure it was safe – no way, no how. According to that interview, a train cannot run through an area that is under evacuation. But as soon as a trains could run, the evacuation was lifted. People could go home and the trains resumed.

      I don’t remember if it was the same interview, or another one, they said the trains were now stacking the modals two boxes high to make up for losses. That would only make the trains more dangerous IMO.

      1. JBird4049

        Double stacked and using the same Civil War era brakes that helped cause the derailment. It is like we don’t have government. We have corporations using the façade of the government pretending to governed or regulated.

        If they are not only doing the same bad practices, but are being even less safe, what is to prevent an
        even worse East Palestine type derailment? Seriously. And since it is near certainty that there will be one due to the lack of government enforcement, what will we, and especially the directly affected, do then?

        I am thinking about nationalization of the railroads although some would call it the evils of communism. Whatever. As it is, executives of the railroads should be in criminal court facing a Judge and jury. Even if, somehow, what they did is not illegal, then a civil case forcing them to pay for all the damage and to make everyone whole. Not going to happen because reasons, but it should.

        1. Screwball

          I remember when they punished the bankers for all the mayhem they caused back in 2007/2009. Oh wait…

          Best I can tell this is a really important east/west line for this particular railroad, so it seems like they are doubling up on stupid if reports are correct about double stacking – which wouldn’t surprise me one bit.

          PSR is right out of the Deming playbook of efficient manufacturing. Add bean counters, a culture of greed, and the corporate worms that make it all happen. They can somehow justify a 150 car train carrying enough toxic chemicals to destroy towns/cities driven by a couple of people – and can’t stop for maybe a mile down the tracks.

          Brilliant, just brilliant.

          I’m sorry, I grew up in a railroad town, played around the railroads. One of my best friends was a tower operator. I spent hours there. That was 50 years ago, and now I’m a retired engineer (not train) so I’m not stupid (I’m starting to wonder), and I have no reason to believe many these “mishaps” couldn’t have been prevented. This is stupidity, neglect, and greed.

          1. cnchal

            > PSR is right out of the Deming playbook of efficient manufacturing. . .

            No it isn’t. Deming would be appalled. Unlike the factories where a mere exploitee could stop the assembly line for a defect, no railroader dare defy management by stopping a train due to a hazard.

            PSR is sweating the assets and exploitees, from the demand for massive profits by the criminals of Wall Street, the root cause of misery and mayhem for the rest of us.

            Former President Pitchfork Absorber made sure to let the criminals go, so they can rob society with impunity for decades to come instead of wiping the bastards out.

    2. jefemt

      I feel for the down-winders, or in this case, based on maps I saw and they way I reference things as up or down vis a vis maps, the ‘up-winders’ to the north and east. PA, NY, VT, NH, ME, Quebec and the Maritimes.

      Then into the Ocean to bio-accumulate.

      It’s a closed loop, folks.

      1. LifelongLib

        Sounds like me with the left and right banks of the Dnipro River. News reports were saying the Russians were moving to the left bank, but on the map it was the right bank. Then someone explained that left and right bank were from the perspective of a person facing the direction the river flows toward.

    3. Jason Boxman

      Simply put, this is a crime, and it’s being covered up. At a minimum the Norfolk Southern CEO ought to be in jail. I have no doubt others are culpable as well. Even Obama managed to get a pathetic fine against BP, will Biden even bother with accountability theater?

    1. Lex

      The way this usually works is that EPA will force the company responsible to hire the emergency response contractor and any consultants used for sampling/monitoring. In general the expectation is that EPA will pick through the companies, their methods and their results with a fine toothed comb. The expectation would also be that EPA would perform its own sampling as confirmation (or potentially direct hire a consultant to do it on EPA’s behalf). So I’m and of itself, the arrangement isn’t a red flag for me.

      However, I’ve seen a few pictures of the monitoring/sampling and I’ve read the EPA bulletins. They allowed simple scans for total VOCs and the units I saw in use are the least sensitive equipment available. I’ve seen Great Lakes region EPA make life hell for everyone at a response. Everything questioned, always demands for more granular data provided faster. In this case it’s quite clear that EPA allowed the coverup. I probably shouldn’t speak publicly on why it doesn’t surprise me.

  13. Verifyfirst


    Apparently we have long Covid to thank for losing Inhof, at the age of 88…… I assume he means 5 or 6 other Senators, since that was his world. We know Tim Kaine (Hillary’s running mate, remember him?!) has ongoing long covid symptoms, but otherwise I reckon we will need to out these people. That’s 5 or 6% of the Senate, and he may not know all the Dems who have it.

    I’m not sure how it became shameful to have Covid, but it clearly did. In my PMC circle of holiday letters, not one person/family who I know had Covid last year deigned to mention it in their letter, even if they had been quite sick.

    This whitewashing does not help whatsoever. Maybe we should start some Go Fund Me accounts for the poor souls who are trying to get disability in the American system. I’m sure some have been made homeless already.

    Long Covid disabled them. Then they met a ‘broken’ Social Security disability process

  14. griffen

    Secret crawlspace for a previously hidden cryptomining operation. Supposedly, this resulted in maybe $18,000 of stolen electricity from the local district. Ingenious, possibly not but certainly creative (I say creative as a simple observation, but not out of admiration).

    1. LifelongLib

      Times have changed. The big scandal in my day was a kid who was growing a marijuana plant in the high school greenhouse as his botany class project.

    2. Ken Murphy

      People work hard to build up a community. Stealing from that community better be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Hopefully the crypto coins the school made possible will be confiscated and donated to the school.

      Sadly, it’s no different from the illegal warehouse cannabis grow ops in East NYC that tap into the city grid to power the hydroponics and grow lamps. Businesses are always looking for ways to shift expenses to others to maximize their own bottom line. Which makes me wonder if the computers used might have been from the computer science department budget for even more maximized crypto profit.

  15. Irrational

    Re. Breaking into bank account with AI voice
    You are still two days ahead, Yves! As I had the pleasure to point out to techie hubby reading the story to me this morning ;-)

      1. tegnost

        I always assume that’s one reason for all those “scam likely” calls i get and never answer.
        Of course my monolithic cell carrier does the same thing and is telling me scam likely because they can’t cope with competition…

      2. The Rev Kev

        For the past coupla years now when I have had to contact the Taxation department here in Oz, they have offered to have my voice to establish my identity which I always refused. I wonder if it is possible to trademark our voices to provide another barrier to them being illegally used.

  16. Carolinian

    Interesting New Yorker on “indigenous.” Not to be flip but driving around America one might suspect the definition of indigenous to be “have a casino.” We have one now too, not far away on the NC/SC border.

    Perhaps the truth is that in many cases indigenous means whatever the particular user wants it to mean. For environmentalists it is often used as a tool to fight crass development. For the tribe members themselves it can be a weapon against rural poverty. For the non tribal it can be a kind of romantic myth–Tahiti on the plains. And for European settlers of this continent it meant the people who were in the way.

    But in no instance is the word really appropriate since it implies that the native people somehow grew out of the landscape like plants rather than, like all of us on this continent, ultimately coming from somewhere else. There are increasing numbers of books now talking about what native life was really like and in most instances it was both as violent and as intensely social as our own. You come away thinking that the noble savage obsession which replaced the earlier “they are savages’ obsession is merely another narrative.

  17. Patricia

    Health care “camels as a racehorse designed by a committee”

    Or, politically “Kamala as a race horse designed by a DNC committee.”

  18. Revenant

    Fascism is national, corporatism can be global.

    Frankly, fascism is more honest and it at least privileges a populace and a political unit. Corporatism is the Matrix.

    If forced to choose between the Fourth Reich or Davos, I would probably choose the Reich (but preferably neither).

  19. juno mas

    RE: Anonymous student bias reports

    These people need to read California state statutes. The California Education code requires that reports of discrimination, violations of student code of conduct, etc. be observed in the first person, AND the complainant must put their NAME to it. No anonymous claims allowed.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Rather dangerous to have a university encourage an anonymous snitch culture. One was snitched on for reading “Mein Kampf” but what if they were a history student doing research for an assignment? What if another student was in competition with that student for a place on a sports team or had a grudge against that student? That Californian code is quite smart here as a snitch culture – especially in a time of wokeness and crimethought – is a really bad brew to have. Imagine a student being suspended for calling the Azovs a bunch of Nazis. Or for saying that the present war began in 2014 rather than 2022. Students would live under a culture of fear and being scared to saying the “wrong” thing or having the “wrong” activities.

  20. antidlc

    Texas and Michigan officials say they didn’t know water, soil from Ohio train wreck would be transported into their jurisdictions

    Officials in Texas and Michigan are complaining they didn’t receive any warning that contaminated water and soil from the train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, would be shipped into their jurisdictions for disposal.

    About 2 million gallons of firefighting water from the train derailment site are expected to be disposed in Harris County, Texas, with about half a million gallons already there, according to the county’s chief executive.

    “It’s a very real problem, we were told yesterday the materials were coming only to learn today they’ve been here for a week,” Judge Lina Hidalgo said Thursday.

      1. Screwball

        I found it funny this came out on a Saturday night, but I’m not sure this was the first release. Nevertheless, I told someone about this and was told it was all “political theater” since there places qualified to do this all over the country. No big deal.


        We should have trains that are qualified not to dump toxic chemicals in the middle of our town too. Not to mention they must transport this waste around 230 miles through Ohio and around lake Erie, including Toledo, to get to Bellville, Mi. I guess they don’t have a say either.

  21. Carolinian

    That’s a nightmare Wired report on nickel manufacturing in Indonesia. With the low wages, deadly conditions and environmental rape it truly sounds like hell on Earth.

    Ironically the other night I caught a Julia Roberts/George Clooney comedy from last year called Ticket to Paradise–the paradise in question being Bali, Indonesia. They go there (actually shot in Australia) to try to prevent a wedding between their daughter and a handsome local with the quaint occupation of seaweed farmer. Everything is about burnishing the paradise in question and making the comic parents look churlish by comparison. Guess the fictional couple better hope that nobody discovers nickel on the island of Bali.

    1. Jason Boxman

      And the capitalists would do it here if they could. We’ve already got plenty of illegal child labor: Alone and Exploited, Migrant Children Work Brutal Jobs Across the U.S.

      Per Wired:

      In January 2022, a worker was killed after being struck on the head by an excavator while not wearing a helmet. In June, the operator of a bulldozer was swept into the sea by an avalanche while working a night shift without lighting.

      Not supplying helmets is just contempt for your workers; How much could it possibly cost to provide basic safety precautions?

      1. Jason Boxman

        And the pressure on Biden’s administration over kids in cages worked, after all.

        The H.H.S. spokeswoman, Ms. Jones, said that Mr. Becerra [secretary of health and human services] had urged his staff to “step it up.” “Like any good leader, he wouldn’t hesitate to do it again — especially when it comes to the well-being and safety of children,” she said.

        During a call last March, Mr. Becerra told Cindy Huang, the O.R.R. director, that if she could not increase the number of discharges, he would find someone who could, according to five people familiar with the call. She resigned a month later.

        He recently made a similar threat to her successor during a meeting with senior leadership, according to several people who were present.

        So they discharged them off as rapidly as possible into child labor!!

        Nicely done!

        Unlike the foster care system, in which all children get case management, H.H.S. provides this service to about a third of children who pass through its care, and usually for just four months. Tens of thousands of other children are sent to their sponsors with little but the phone number for a national hotline. From there, they are often on their own: There is no formal follow-up from any federal or local agencies to ensure that sponsors are not putting children to work illegally.

        It’s funny, the Times does do some good investigative journalism, when it isn’t shilling for Big War or Russiagate.

  22. wendigo

    In a word, hypocrites.

    The materials are going to licenced facilities, facilities licenced by the state to receive hazardous materials.

    The website for the Michigan disposal facility says it is the largest hazardous facility in the US by volume. It also states it can handle almost all state and federal waste codes.

    The Texas facility is similar.

    Now it is different?

  23. fresno dan
    Penn is one of a growing chorus now urging Western countries to send Kyiv modern fighter jets ahead of an expected Russian spring offensive. Lawmakers from both parties are pressing the White House to transfer the jets, but President Joe Biden recently ruled it out — at least for now.
    One of those lawmakers is Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), who in the past has tweeted out messages lauding Penn’s support for Ukraine, including one linked to a video showing the Oscar winner giving one of his statues to Zelenskyy. “This is the best of American creative talent helping Ukraine,” Swalwell wrote in November.
    A spokesperson for Swalwell confirmed that he has talked to Penn about the fighter jet situation. He could not immediately be reached for comment.
    The actor, whose documentary about the Ukraine conflict, “Superpower,” premiered on last week, was actually in Kyiv when Russian forces launched their attack one year ago. Penn recalled how in a meeting on the eve of the invasion, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy agreed to participate in the film.
    I missed the Hollywood zeitgeist revolution, from peaceniks to war mongers. How is it that a people, after seeing in irrefutable detail how Iraq was ginned up, in 20 years fall for it again???

    1. griffen

      No offense to an Oscar winning actor ( having watched Mystic River several times, it’s a well done performance ) but Penn can politely go pound sand.

    2. Carolinian

      He even played the Vietnam villain in Brian DePalma’s Casualties of War. Type casting, as we now know.

      Personally I’ve never been a big fan. Phooey on all of these has been celebs trying to grab some spotlight.

    3. Milton

      It’s been downhill since Jeff Spicoli. I guess he must have jarred some marbles around when he whacked his skull with his checkerboard Van’sm.

  24. fresno dan
    To protect that principle, the court set down a new standard: When it comes to public officials, they had to prove not just that a statement was false and injurious, but that it was made with “actual malice” — an inartful term that meant not “ill will,” but that it was published with willful knowledge that it was false or with “reckless disregard.”
    While these justices did not make an explicitly ideological or partisan point, Federal Appeals Judge Lawrence Silberman did. In a remarkably blunt dissent in 2021 where he called for overturning New York Times v. Sullivan, Silberman wrote:

    “Although the bias against the Republican Party — not just controversial individuals — is rather shocking today, this is not new; it is a long-term, secular trend going back at least to the ’70s. (I do not mean to defend or criticize the behavior of any particular politician). Two of the three most influential papers (at least historically), the New York Times and the Washington Post, are virtually Democratic Party broadsheets. And the news section of the Wall Street Journal leans in the same direction. The orientation of these three papers is followed by the Associated Press and most large papers across the country (such as the Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald, and Boston Globe). Nearly all television — network and cable — is a Democratic Party trumpet. Even the government-supported National Public Radio follows along.”
    I think Russiagate reporting was outrageously wrong. I think a LOT of the support for war in Ukraine is based on it (anti Russia bias), and I think that is something that imperils the very survival of humankind. But I don’t know that reforming liable law would do anything to change the attitude of the mainstream press toward objectivie reality and put any kind of a dent in their agenda. Very simply, the US legal system empowers the wealthy, and if the wealthy want to make money off the MIC, then the legal system will advantage the war mongers, not withstanding liable laws.
    Like a comment above noted, people aren’t watching CNN. The real issue is, will there be a candidate who is against war in Ukraine in 2024 or do the American people give carte blanche for the US government to get into wars?

  25. KidMD

    A better title might replace “physician” with “BigMed” (and their paid shills). This article includes good points about community involvement and preventative measures. Actual dollars spent on public-health versus corporate-healthcare would be instructive, including percent of “public health” dollars diverted to BigPharma.

    Falling longevity reflects many system issues, like social problems, clean water, healthy food.

  26. Michael King

    Thank you for the John Mearsheimer link. I’m surprised that no one else has commented on it. IMO this is an excellent summation regarding the United States’ increasingly toxic relationships with Russia (Ukraine) and China (Taiwan). His paradigm of two world power conflict dyads is a valuable tool for understanding the current geopolitical situation. I agree with him that this new not-so-cold war is more dangerous than the US vs Soviet Union days.

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