Links 2/26/2023

Swimming Cougars Take to the Sea, Astonishing Researchers in the Pacific Northwest TreeHuggers

Nihilistic and crazed, Cocaine Bear is zoological zeitgeist for these end times Guardian

Record-breaking global bond rally crumbles as fresh inflation fears grip investors FT


Pipeline debate at center of California carbon capture plans AP

The Christian case for fighting climate change is being tested in Eastern Oregon Oregon Public Broadcasting


Millions of workers are still missing after COVID. Where did they go? Bloomberg. “Tis a puzzlement!

Endemicity Is Not a Victory: The Unmitigated Downside Risks of Widespread SARS-CoV-2 Transmission Covid. From the Abstract: “Our modeling suggests that endemic SARS-CoV-2 implies vast transmission resulting in yearly US COVID-19 death tolls numbering in the hundreds of thousands under many plausible scenarios, with even modest increases in the [Infection Fatality Rate (IFR)] leading to unsustainable mortality burdens. Our findings highlight the importance of enacting a concerted strategy and continued development of biomedical interventions to suppress SARS-CoV-2 transmission and slow its evolution.”

* * *

Multi-organ impairment and long COVID: a 1-year prospective, longitudinal cohort study Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. n = 536. From the Abstract: “Single- and multi-organ impairment were present in 69% and 23% at baseline, persisting in 59% and 27% at follow-up, respectively.”

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

Ex-Senator Jim Inhofe Retired Due to Long COVID, Says at Least 5 Other Congress Members Also Have It The New Republic (Re Silc).

* * *

Ocugen sniffs out COVID-19 vaccine opportunity, landing rights to nasal candidate with India authorization Fierce Pharma

Bharat Biotech has developed capacity to make 10 mn doses of nasal vaccine against COVID-19, top exec says Business Today. Meawhile, Blue Lake’s nasal vaccine, not “not invented here,” will move to Stage 2 clinical trials “soon.”

* * *

Washing the guilt away: effects of personal versus vicarious cleansing on guilty feelings and prosocial behavior Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. From 2014, still germane. “These findings suggest that washing one’s own hands, or even watching someone else wash their hands, can wash away one’s guilt and lead to less helpful behavior.” Hmm. How’s the study?

Bird Flu

WHO concerned about bird flu after girl’s father tests positive in Cambodia Khmer Times. More detail:

The date looks wrong, but that’s a Facebook translation bungle; the date (February 25, 2023) is correct in Khmer.


How badly has COVID-19 affected some of China’s villages? Channel News Asia

Anti-China Rhetoric Is Off the Charts in Western Media The Diplomat

China to target self-styled financial elites with ‘extravagant’ lifestyles in anti-corruption campaign South China Morning Post


The Limits of Beijing’s Support for Myanmar’s Military United States Institute for Peace

Indonesia’s Constitutional Court on verge of making history Jakarta Post. Seems unlikely. Worth a shot!

The Koreas

K-pop’s movers and shakers fight to create dominant music agency FT

European Disunion

PKK/YPG being financed in Sweden, says Swedish security service Andalou Agency

Dear Old Blighty

Northern Ireland Protocol: New Brexit deal ‘inching towards conclusion’ BBC

New Not-So-Cold War

Why the War Will Continue Richard Haas, Council on Foreign Relations

French President Emmanuel Macron to visit China in April on mission to help end Ukraine war South China Morning Post. Oddly, nothing current in Xinhua, as of this writing. By contrast–

Belarusian President Lukashenko to visit China Xinhua

G-20 meeting in India ends without consensus on Ukraine war AP

Financial crime watchdog FATF suspends Russia over Ukraine war Reuters

* * *

The average life expectancy of a front-line soldier in eastern Ukraine is around 4 hours, an American fighting in ‘the meat grinder’ says Insider

Hear us roar! EU allies announce Leopard tanks for Ukraine Politico. Commentary:

I count 31 + 14 + 18 + 14 + 14 + 8 = 99. Maybe with Spain and Finland we’ll break 100. That doesn’t seem like very many, even if we are dealing in bespoke Wunderwaffen.

China needs Russia to remain a credible military threat to Europe, if it supplies Putin with weapons it will slow Ukraine’s fightback, writes military expert JUSTIN BRONK Daily Mail (Furzy Mouse). From RUSI.

* * *

Zelenskyy believes Putin will be killed by his own inner circle Ukrainska Pravda. Projection?

Breaking the World to Save It IM—1776. Bosnia, 2001.

South of the Border

President of Mexico nationalizes lithium Green Car Congress

The Cost Of Deglobalization NOEMA. Commentary:

Biden Administration

Inside the EPA’s close relationship with a Montana mining company High Country News


From Russiagate with Love: Corporate Media Spin and Revisionist Reporting on Russia’s Alleged Meddling in the 2016 Election Continue Censored Notebook. Takedown of reactions to Gerth’s CJR story.

The Supremes

Justices narrow bankruptcy relief from debts incurred by fraud SCOTUSblog

The Bezzle

New SBF Indictment Exposes How Washington Really Works. Plus, Investigative Reporter Lee Fang In-Studio! Glenn Greenwald. Long but informative.

Everything Is Corrupt Eschaton. “I ‘obsess’ about SBF because there were a lot of things that didn’t make any sense to me until it was revealed that half of ‘liberal’ DC was on his payroll, one way or another.” That’s it. That’s the post.

* * *

ChatGPT Heralds an Intellectual Revolution Henry Kissinger, Eric Schmidt and Daniel Huttenlocher, WSJ. Kissinger was on the Board at Theranos.

The future of AI could hinge on two philosophical concepts Tom’s Guide (Rev Kev).


New antibiotic cures superbugs without bacterial resistance Science Daily

Realignment and Legitimacy

Opinion: Is Cedarville U the Latest Campus to Experience Revival? The Roys Report

Measles case in Kentucky linked to viral Christian revival at Asbury University, officials say Cincinatti Inquirer

Imperial Collapse Watch

The F-35 Program Stalled in 2022 POGO

Guillotine Watch

My Surreal Years Tutoring the Children of the Super-Rich Vogue

Class Warfare

East Palestine:

EPA orders ‘pause’ of derailment contaminated waste removal AP and Michigan, Texas officials unaware Ohio contaminated soil, water, taken to their areas: ‘We were sandbagged’ FOX

What I saw in East Palestine, Ohio The Spectator (KLG). Yikes.

The Devil’s Milkshake Tarance Ray, The Baffler

Biden does not plan to visit site of Ohio train derailment Reuters

The Spaceport at the Edge of the World Wired (UserFriendly). UserFriendly: “I don’t think I have ever read one article that has touched on so many of NC’s themes at the same time as this one.”

Antidote du jour (AM):

AM writes: “Mrs Barkley, my mother in law’s recently adopted black lab. She is now retired from the puppy bearing business and is very happy in her new home. A very loving dog. But she is a profuse shedder, unfortunately.”

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here. 

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. The Rev Kev

    “Washing the guilt away: effects of personal versus vicarious cleansing on guilty feelings and prosocial behavior”

    Lady Macbeth begs to differ. And with all the hand-washing going on in 2020 you would think that there would be a lot of guilt free people wandering around back then. But I wonder at the value of such a study. Going by that other story “My Surreal Years Tutoring the Children of the Super-Rich” in today’s Links, it might be more profitable to study the children of the wealthy to get a grip on what the next generation of our betters will be like.

    1. Bugs

      After reading that all too brief story, my impression is that the working class will eat them for breakfast.

      1. WhoaMolly

        Sorry, I don’t agree.

        Yes, A few individuals will “eat their lunch” …

        but as a class, the kids with tutors and exposure to a good education will “wipe the floor” with the kids of working class.

        Education via 4 years at Yale and all the contacts made, trumps an education gained via 4 years in military and then 4 years in a state college in GI bill.

  2. griffen

    Cocaine Bear is a current film based on a true life story. Apparently the bear discovered a lost stash of cocaine and hilarity did not ensue. Bears may not be aware of the drug film trope, not getting high on your own supply. Maybe if the movie shows up to Netflix I’ll watch ( might have to wait a little while but I am streaming services constrained, if that’s a thing ).

    Shout out for the late Ray Liotta. I’m sure he might have been able to channel his best antics as Henry Hill, from the excellent Goodfellas.

      1. Mikel

        “Glad to see this bear getting more roles. I’ve been a fan since The Revenant.”

        Some funny comments on Youtube.

      2. griffen

        The plotline brings to mind quite a few of the schlock films from the early to middle ’80s, many of them based on Stephen King novels. Films like “Silver Bullet”, for example. But after seeing the trailer this looks more promising as entertainment!

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          I get “Lake Placid” vibes from the previews. It’s schlock, but they went all in on quality.

    1. Bugs

      There’s also a reunion of sorts in the movie of three of the principal actors from the great 2010s series “The Americans”. Looking forward to seeing it. Sounds like a hoot.

    2. Craig H.

      lost stash of cocaine

      No no no no no no.

      The true story is so great that a bunch of it is top secret classified. The lost stash was being transported by a crooked cop or an Oliver-North-directed flunkie, depending on your source. A now notorious but once exemplary citizen.

      Thornton parachuted out of an airplane in the dark with the coke and did not survive the landing. Cocaine Bear found the coke just laying there in the middle of the woods. I first read this on Steven Snider’s visup blog but it also was in the Bluegrass Conspiracy.

      The Company was a Kentucky crime ring who had large ambitions. At one point they owned a racing horse farm on the Kentucky River with its own airstrip and soldier-of-fortune training facilities. And race horses.

      As for delivering coke by parachutist in the dark, well who knows? Perhaps somebody who understands the cocaine business in Kentucky and Tennessee in the 1980’s could explain that part.

    3. Joe Well

      Did they have a disclaimer at the end, “No bears got high during the making of this motion picture”?

  3. Mikel

    “China to target self-styled financial elites with ‘extravagant’ lifestyles in anti-corruption campaign” South China Morning Post

    “…Any claim that senior officials and executives are exempt from party edicts urging them to lead a simple life should be rejected, article says…”

    Only able to see the first few paragraphs of this story. But curious about the exact wording of these edicts and the description they have for “simple life” for party leaders and financial execs.

  4. timbers

    Biden does not plan to visit site of Ohio train derailment Reuters

    Do you think he would if were in Ukraine? Not sure myself but I’d give Ukraine better odds than the folks in East Palestine.

    Russia has brought to the frontline heavier (Dima says “heaviest in the world”) artillery in Vuhledar, Previously Russia suffered horrific casualties there in an attempt to take the city. Dima says, the purpose is to flatten tall buildings to the the ground which are excellent defenses for Ukraine troops…thus allowing Russia to enter and capture Vuhledar. IMO the Kremlin is realizing it does not have all of eternity to accomplish it’s goals and needs to judiciously use American style destruction tactics – which is still head and shoulders better than America’s indiscriminate practice of such tatics. Scott Ritter noted that if this war goes into next year, the tables could turn and the West will be waging a war of attrition upon Russia which she might lose, should the West begin to re-industrialize it’s military supply chain. And Dima says an entire Polish brigade was detected. That’s a lot which is one reason I’m partly skeptical about a purely attrition war in Ukraine because NATO is fighting this war not Ukraine.

    Lately AUF casualties have spiked according the Russia MOD, and Russia is advancing on the ground at faster rate and this is happening on several fronts. This supports the idea there made little or no Big Arrows in Russian military operation plans but instead more and more pressure on existing fronts. Big question in my mind is, what if anything will Russia do regarding air power. Will she use more aircraft after focusing on taking out Ukraine air defenses?

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        No, mostly he’s a classic bully who should have axed Pete a year and a half ago and worked on an actual infrastructure bill not a highway bill. Despite the hoopla, he can’t show the work the Biden administration is doing to undo the previous administrations because he simply didn’t do it. To win on this, Biden will have to fight and work hard, and he likes fights he believes he will win easily. Russia was supposed to fall apart when they didn’t get McDonald’s.

        1. semper loquitur

          A mere observation, but I often see images of Biden these days with a mean, smarmy grin on his face. It’s the leer of the bully, the guy who gets off telling others what’s up. It’s also a mask to hide inner conflict, like all bullies Biden is deeply insecure and his mind is slipping, to boot.

      2. eb

        Yeah, that’s what I think. The derailment site is toxic & would he wear a respirator? Far better to walk in the sun with your fave actor with a fake emergency (air raid sirens) in the background.

      3. griffen

        Discussion earlier this morning news show (weekly on ABC) about Joey from Scranton running again, and his health outlook in doing so. Joe will be a young and vibrant 82 years by the end of his first term. A highly valid point was made by Chris Christie, in that the 2024 election scenario many would view a vote for Joe Biden to also be a vote for Kamala Harris. President Harris in 2026, anyone?

        Like it or not, Joe Biden in 2024 w/ Harris seems the likely scenario as the Democrat ticket.

    1. fresno dan

      President Joe Biden told reporters at the White House Friday he has no plans travel to East Palestine, Ohio, and defended his administration’s response to the train derailment there that caused a toxic chemical spill.
      “At this point, I’m not,” Biden said, when asked if he has any plans to visit the community, pointing instead to his and his administration’s early and consistent response to the disaster.
      “You know, we were there two hours after the train went down – two hours,” Biden said. “I’ve spoken with every single major figure in both Pennsylvania and in Ohio, and so the idea that we’re not engaged is just simply not there. And initially, there was not a request for me to go out even before I was heading over to Kyiv, so I’m keeping very close tabs on it. We’re doing all we can.”
      WOW…. So in ONE sentence, Biden manages to blame someone else for not going, and then brings up how he was busy going to Ukraine. If Biden got in a helocopter, whiped it out, and took a pee on East Palestine, he could not show more contempt for mid America.

      1. griffen

        This is all just fertile territory for a Mel Brooks satire, or perhaps a Mike Judge update to Office Space ( Judge is already doing updated Beavis and Butthead episodes ). Besides, Mayor Pete was just there visiting the location in his construction gear and hard hat. Surprised they didn’t burst into song.

        “young man, there’s a place you can go…I say young man…”

        1. ambrit

          Oh! Oh! I know that one!
          It’s “East Palestine” by The Pillage People!
          I would jot down the lyrics, but they are NSFW (Not Safe For Woke.)

            1. ambrit

              To mix the metaphorical cornucopia a bit, and Steel some Thunder;
              “Yo,WUK! Yo, ANTIFA! Yo BLEEM! Yo ACORN.”
              ” Yo, KAGAN! Yo, NULAND! Yo, SULLIVAN! and BLINKEN!”
              “To the Ends of the Earth, since the Fall of the Wall!”
              “Now bash away, bash away, bash away all!”
              [I also have one about Harry and Meghan; “Everybody’s Talk’n Bout Me.” But I don’t want to be accused of “leased majesty.”}

            2. Wukchumni

              I’m riding the chairway to heaven @ Vail, will dream something up and my village people will be in touch with your village people later.

      2. Screwball

        Related. The link above; EPA orders ‘pause’ of derailment contaminated waste removal

        I read yesterday they were sending “stuff” to Texas and Michigan, but the state officials in Michigan were not aware. This has now stopped it seems, and of course not much information on why – about anything. Which brings me to question these kinds of places to begin with.

        What do we know about these hazardous waste sites? Where are they, how many, what “toxins” do they accept, what kind of safety is in place, who decides what goes where, how do they rid us of the nasty “stuff?” Just a few questions as a start. We have nuclear waste, chemicals of all types, fracking fluids, etc. that need to be disposed of. Who overseas these operations and what kind of safety testing and longer term monitoring of potential problems are in place?

        Is this another potential industry ripe for a catastrophe, or are the sites leaking stuff that is killing us over years? Inquisitive minds would like to know.

        1. ambrit

          Just check out the “safety record” of numerous municipal landfills. That’s just for “household waste.”
          One instance of toxic waste remediation we learned about a few years ago was for the PCB plant in Anniston, Alabama. The top foot of soil in entire residential neighborhoods was scraped off and incinerated. Parts of the town are still too dangerous to live in.
          Don’t get me going on ammunition plants. Those spots have been polluting the surrounding environments for well over a century.

        2. Lex

          Those are commercial hazardous waste sites, regulated by EPA. Arriving materials are sorted and processed, which means that according to waste manifest data and/or sampling at the disposal site they’re categorized in terms of how to manage them. Some will go to incineration and some will be landfilled as they were packaged for delivery while others will be repackaged for landfilling.

          The cleanup of the East Palestine waterways (if it happens) will proceed like this: the rivers and creeks will be dredged and dewatered, the water itself tested during dewatering which includes filtration and happens on built pads/containments for the purpose and the contaminated soil will be landfilled. The special landfill (like the one in Detroit or Houston) is designed with containment different than the average landfill. They (theoretically) cannot allow leachate from rainfall to exit the landfill itself. Leachate from these is contained, tested and/or further processed before being released to ground. If the dredged water passes the tests, it’s returned to the water way. The filtration material gets disposed as haz waste.

          In hazardous material disposal the goal is always to not deal with liquids if at all possible. Landfilling liquids requires extensive containment (like how long until the barrel rusts and fails) though it may be made less liquify by mixing with some inert absorbent material. That’s expensive so it’s avoided because everything in this is already ridiculously expensive.

          I’m not privy to the details of the Ohio incident but judging by the news I would place cleanup of the waterways at somewhere north of $1B based on somewhat similar projects I have good knowledge about. The main part of the project likely takes 5+ years and usually there’s an EPA consent decree that will require periodic monitoring for another 5-10+.

          1. ChrisPacific

            In hazardous material disposal the goal is always to not deal with liquids if at all possible.

            That helps explain why Fukushima was such a train wreck, then.

        1. aletheia33

          funny, i almost posted that on here as a comment recently (in a discussion of the EP disaster).

          it simply occurred to me that to whatever extent i see the citizens of east palestine, ohio, as more unfortunate than myself, to that extent i am deluded. it may take somewhat longer in different places, but the overall buildup of poison and the relentless continuance of that buildup seems to be unstoppable now. for every known contamination we must assume a certain number that have been “covered up” (kept quiet). there is a real limit to the extent of “cleanup” and “sequestration” that can be done before the cost of producing everything we use and buy is exceeded by the cost of the “remediation” of the “fallout” from their production and/or disposal. the misconception that we (americans) can fix anything appears to be dangerously entrenched in the collective mind.

          not mentioning rising floods, wildfires, drought, plagues, wars–all current and/or on the near horizon.

          as has been said in other contexts, you can run, but you can’t hide.

    2. Jason Boxman

      My first thought, isn’t this guy running for reelection for president? ’tis a puzzle. Guess he doesn’t need the votes.

    3. Stephen

      Some time ago I recall Scott Ritter likening “the offensive” to what the Soviets did in 1944 when they destroyed the Wehrmacht’s Army Group Centre. The Germans game planned the Soviets carrying out classic Prussian Big Arrow tactics, which is what they would have done. Exactly the type of speculation we now see from many western sources.

      Instead, the Soviets launched lots of attacks in multiple places and there even seems to be debate as to exactly when the offensive started. This feels it might be similar.

  5. Sibiryak

    Why the War Will Continue—CFR

    Putin now finds himself playing for time. Unable to defeat Ukraine’s military, he is attacking economic and civilian targets , hoping to break the will of Ukrainians.”

    Haass suggests that those infrastructure targets have little or no military significance, but that notion is flatly contradicted by the Ukrainian government itself:

    The warnings from Kyiv over the last week underscore the level of anxiety among top Ukrainian officials about the coming winter months and the potential ramifications of sustained damage to its infrastructure. An unreliable energy sector could have deadly consequences, Ukrainian officials say.

    In recent conversations, they’ve added that it could halt food production and transport operations — critical services needed to support military operations.

    –Politico, 11/16/2022

    1. Michaelmas

      Haass suggests that those infrastructure targets have little or no military significance

      Even if Haas is being disingenuous, that’s a pretty stupid statement.

      1. Realist

        I wonder if they are trying to avoid the bad optics of frozen babushkas by waiting for warmer weather before the big final switch off?

        They are a patient and pragmatic people. I heard a rumor that they have avoided full on combat operations around Odessa because the brass don’t want to have to destroy their holiday condos and villas.

          1. Realist

            Might have been on Slavyangrad on Telegram. Something about the “made men” of the middle east’s only democracy having some spectacular seafront estates and important business interests in the area that weren’t to be disrupted.

            1. ambrit

              There’s a “democracy” in the Middle East? You could have fooled me. All I see are a bunch of Theocracies and other Autocracies.

    2. Cat Burglar

      Another Haas money quote: NATO and US troops will enter the war if Russia uses nuclear weapons in Ukraine.

      So, an attempt to check any talk of using nukes?

      1. ambrit

        My Mr. Cynical persona says that this is the set up for a “false flag” operation by the West. A classic case of preemptive projectionism.

  6. pjay

    Breaking the World to Save It IM—1776. Bosnia, 2001.

    One of the reasons why I react so strongly to so-called “progressives” who swallow our hybrid war propaganda about “humanitarian” intervention, and why I put the Samantha Powers up there with the Dick Cheneys as war criminals, is Yugoslavia. It was the warm-up act in our plans for post-Soviet world domination. I was a fairly young academic not long out of school who considered himself well read, well-informed, and well-left on the political spectrum. But I was very busy in my own academic bubble and did not have the time or connections to inform myself about what was going on. Besides, like today, the only critics of Clinton’s Yugoslavia policy seemed to be partisan Republicans just trying to score political points. I fell for the Official Narrative about Yugoslavia and Milosevic completely.

    I’ve been trying to make amends ever since.

    So thanks for publishing this. The parallels between Yugoslavia and Ukraine are striking, and informative. If anything, this account was perhaps too even-handed. For example, It is not really clear in his discussion that the famous Time magazine “concentration camp” picture was a complete fake:

    As with the Ukraine today, the role of the mainstream media in disseminating one-sided propaganda was massive. Though the full story about Yugoslavia eventually trickled out, most “educated” people still accept the mainstream narrative. For a more informed history, I always recommend the four-part Monthly Review series by Edward Herman and David Petersen as a starting point:

    Many lessons-not-learned for “progressives” – and I was once one of them.

    1. fresno dan

      First, the link is very good. Also, I too fell for the new “humanitarian” justification for war exactly like you, and basically the tales of the government press propaganda partnership. Back than, there was no NC… The deep state, the blob, the MIC, whatever you call it, they have really perfected manufacturing consent.
      Though the full story about Yugoslavia eventually trickled out, most “educated” people still accept the mainstream narrative. It seems to me once a fake history is widely disseminated, unless there is unanimous refutation of it, (e.g., WMD) there will be a significant percentage of people who think that is the true history.

      1. pjay

        Yes. No NC, and the internet as a broad source of public information was just emerging. There were some courageous journalistic voices back then like Diana Johnstone, but I was not aware of them on this topic at the time.

        You make an interesting point about Iraq. I think there is another factor in that comparison. In my view the national security establishment mostly controls the main media narrative at the top. But I think part of the ignorance about Yugoslavia among the “educated classes” is that this was a *Democrat* war, led not only by Clinton – that poor victim of right-wing “conspiracy”-mongers – but especially by that pioneering feminist icon Madeline Albright – our first female Secretary of State. I think this is also the reason why “liberals” and “progressives” will probably never honestly address our wars in Syria or Libya (Saint Obama and Hillary). We can blame Iraq on Bush – kind of, and in a limited degree. He was a conservative Republican. Of course he’s a good guy now.

        The universal cheer-leading for the Ukrainian war and the reappearance of Samantha and the Humanitarians leading interference for the long-term neocon project makes the example of Yugoslavia very relevant for today.

        1. communistmole

          It is also relevant in relation to the role of the Greens in Germany, who were in government at the time. Fischer, an old 68er, was foreign minister, and justified the NATO mission with the obligation that Germany had because of Auschwitz.

          p.s. thanks for the link.

        2. digi_owl

          With the added irony that Putin used the Balkans as one example of precedence for allowing Russia to intervene in Donbass.

          Likely why all talk about Ukrainian neo-nazis and ethnic cleansing by Azov battalion and like was memory holed.

      2. tevhatch

        I’d bet the % in the know before NC and after NC isn’t that big a change. What is the % of readership that does not use the comment section? even if it’s 99.99%, based on the numbers in the commentariat that’s a drop in the bucket of just the PMC class, much less the voter/citizen base.

        In some ways, back when there were strong, active political unions and parties like the communist had not be outlawed, the people were better informed than they are today, and far less trusting of the ruling class. Just look at the list of publications at the end of this pamphlet: “”Free Press”: portrait of a monopoly,” by George Marion, 1946

    2. digi_owl

      Quite the read, and reminds me that i should get to know that conflict better.

      Was simply too young to process the goings on back then, even as i see the “aftermath” around me daily.

    3. spud

      100%!. it was bill clinton that helped kicked off the mess the world is in today. clinton/blair and others are the real war criminals.

      and they are still free advocating for more war crimes.

  7. The Rev Kev

    ‘Who is delivering tanks to Ukraine?’

    A 100 tanks is just about enough for a Ukrainian tank brigade. But to do any good they would have to be kept together but that also means that they would make it easier to target by the Russians. That chart needs a time element to be cranked in though. So for example, those 31 Abrams tanks haven’t even been built yet. They won’t be in the Ukraine this year so maybe they will be there by next year – maybe. Thus you can knock those tank off that chart. And a lot of those countries are now hesitant to give up their Leopards. Finland, who was leading the charge to ‘Release the Leopards’ and getting into Germany’s face about them giving up theirs is no longer sure that they will give up any of their own now. Poland just sent over 4 tanks but I bet that those crews actually speak Polish. The UK will send 2 of their Challenger tanks but like those other countries, will only deliver up the remainder in dribs and drabs. In short, like so many other western efforts, it is all about performative theater on the world stage.

    1. Bart Hansen

      Nice movie. When in Scotland shortly after the film came out we visited the filming sites. I have a photo of me standing by the red telephone booth in Pennan.

    2. Pat

      One of my favorites. Bit of trivia, Capaldi isn’t the only supporting performer you run into all over the place. Denis Lawson who plays the pub/inn owner was not just in New Tricks but is Wedge Antilles in all three films of original Star Wars trilogy. He’s not a bad musical theater performer either.

    3. Lee

      Of note regarding the billionaire’s rewilding project was that there was the absence of any indication that the reintroduction of apex predators such as wolves as a means of controlling the deer problem was under consideration. That would have really riled the the sheep herding locals, and also would have deprived the well to do hunters of their role as apex predators, which in both society and nature, they tend to reserve to themselves.

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        A secondary theme in that piece is the billionaire’s “re-wilding” project. It becomes apparent that these “re-wilded” lands are not turned back to Nature. Instead, they are taken away from the people who have lived there and “preserved” in some kind of quite unnatural state to provide pretty backdrops for the billionaire’s buddies’ next exotic travel adventure.

        Pretty damned sickening. The level of hubris is astonishing. Nemesis, we anxiously await you.

        1. JBird4049

          Nice to see another good idea get neoliberalized. Yes, re-wildind means just that with all the necessary animals including apex predators besides humans. Besides, animals act differently with humans than with wolves, lions, and so on. They just do and the changes are far more beneficial for the environment. The loss of apex predators is one of the reasons for the overload of ticks and their diseases.

  8. Benny Profane

    “The F-35 program remains the largest and most expensive weapons program in history. Despite all the time and money invested thus far, program officials still can’t deliver even fractional progress in a year.”

    Even if this giant black hole of money did work, chances are it would have a life similar to the “four hours” a soldier would be looking at in Bahkmut, when used against Russian air defense. Meanwhile, the only aircraft that anybody dares put up over Ukranian air space is cheap, unmanned drones. And we’re freaking out that China is now buddy buddy with Russia, because China has the manufacturing capacity to churn out millions of artillery shells, and we don’t, and we, or, well, our permanent state, knows it.

    1. Stephen

      There are people in the MIC who started their careers in the mid 90s as trainees on the F35 program who are now not so far from retirement age. They will have spent their whole careers working on the F35 and it is still not fit for purpose. What is the job satisfaction?

    2. Acacia

      “I had a guaranteed military sale with ED209! Renovation program! Spare parts for 25 years! Who cares if it worked or not??”
      — Dick Jones

  9. griffen

    Greenwald column is incredibly long and detailed, worth a skim read if you don’t have the length of time to read it completely. A lot of incredible details that may be forthcoming on the scummy nature of what SBF was up to. Plus he is discussing quite at length the sort of mental gymnastics that lobbying and lobbyist funded groups actually influence politics and political posturing. Added thought, and if the storyline of Sammy wonder boy and the crypto nonsense are not that interesting, he along with Lee Fang delve into other political actors and again the theater of public posturing.

    1. nycTerrierist

      wondering about SBF’s extremely well-connected parents here —
      both Stanford law profs – mother involved w/pacs, pere a tax expert –
      will they be on the hook for some shenanigans?
      seems this is their turf, with dad even on the payroll as some kind of advisor?

      1. griffen

        On that point about the parental units, I’m not really sure. I know they were getting involved in the real estate purchases, and may have been listed as the buyers on a condo or single family dwelling ( I’ve read much on the ensuing FTX debacle ). I am sure someone in DOJ has a working file on them as well.

        Brings to mind, not to counter but as a thought exercise. I recently (late 2022) watched the Dahmer series on Netflix; highly recommend unless it’s not really someone else’s thing. The father is just well played, I thought, and it leaves me to wonder how much suffering the ones who raised and nurtured an eventually horrific person might endure (as they should suffer). Yes, the horrific son, Jeff Dahmer, tortured, raped and dismembered many victims whose families suffered of course. To think about it, just how can a parent(s) failure result in so many dying young and my child is the one that killed them. No parent sets out to raise a monster. Bankman-Fried didn’t murder anyone and remains innocent (presumed) until proven guilty, but really are his parents going to suffer in any aspect?

        It’s an answer above my pay grade. And, I’m not a parent.

          1. griffen

            We (generally to say) already have observed plenty of examples here in the US how certain rules and laws are applied, with impunity for some and with leniency for others. It is seen as a bifurcated system of justice enforced, or not, with valid examples why that is. Rules are for the suckers.

            And that is correct, we are not yet reaching that point. I’ll have to check my personal sense of wrong doing that is done by those who pilfer and scheme on individuals with “shiny new free lunch” promises ala Enron, Bernie Madoff and Bankman-Fried. I can fully admit these scammers are scum of the earth. And I’ve read quite a lot on financial schemers and financial scams.

            1. JBird4049

              >>>Rules are for suckers.

              Rules is what makes society, any society, possible; when they are perceived as unjust or just goes away, then it is the rule of the gun or the mob, not of laws or reason.

              IIRC, this is also why the Founders wanted a nation of laws, not men. Laws to govern (and protect) everyone equally and not by rule of one man as in a king or even a group of people as in an oligarchy. Seems to me that we are almost completely in a system where the rule of money, not laws is the game. We are not quite there, but we are getting close.

  10. Wukchumni

    Our back of beyond got around 6 more feet of snow with another 6 feet coming in the next few days, followed by another atmospheric river event 10 days out from now that looks to be of the pineapple express variety.

    I saw what a rain on snow event @ 10k did about 5 years ago when there wasn’t all that much snow up top, causing 3 avalanches in Mineral King, one of which just did away with about 1/4 of a mile of asphalt, adios.

    The risks are impressive in that the more recent events have had snow down to 2k, so there’s essentially a whole mountain of frozen white stuff should a warm storm come calling, and add in extensive burn scar areas from 3k to 8k and its the perfekt storm of sorts, yikes!

    1. Carolinian

      When you finally get back to your cabin you may need a snowcat like in The Shining. Don’t go all Jack Nicholson.

      My friend in AZ says the entirety of I-40 in Arizona was closed after their recent snow storm. It is the part of Arizona that is above 7000 ft.

    2. Janie

      New Year’s Day 1997, Washoe Valley Nevada, lots of snow on the ground followed by Pineapple Express with snow level rising to 10,000 feet. We made it home from an afternoon at friends’ house about 30 minutes ahead of highway closures. Reno airport flooded, Truckee River at Tahoe and in in downtown Reno flooded. Road was closed for days.

  11. The Rev Kev

    “The Spaceport at the Edge of the World”

    Weird story this. Melness is a village near the very north of the Scotland highlands so why have a spaceport there? I think that most spaceports are deliberately located near the equator so that they can take advantage of the Earth’s rotation there. Melness is actually closer to the Arctic. And then you would have to factor in the winter weather shutting down ops for months at a time. I don’t think that it is going to happen-

    1. ex-PFC Chuck

      As the writer points out northern Scotland is an ideal area from which to launch satellites into polar orbit. Perhaps the demand for them is increasing now that Russia is front and center in the cross hairs.

      1. digi_owl

        Over in Norway, Andøya, where meteorological sounding rockets have been launched for decades, there has been talk about expanding the facility to allow for larger rockets carrying something like cubesats.

        1. hk

          And that’s exactly where WW3 almost began in 1990s over mistaken identities of rockets being launched …

          1. digi_owl

            Note that Russia had been notified, as was customary, in ample time before the launch. But somehow the notification didn’t reach the radar operators.

            Also the launch vehicle was a more powerful model than had been used previously. So when it popped up on Russian radar, it looked similar to a sub launched ICBM.

            Thankfully even Yeltsin managed to stay his hand until it was confirmed that it was not heading towards Russia (that it was also a lone launch may have made some suspicious).

    2. ChrisPacific

      I don’t think the article presents the spaceport as a particularly good idea – just maybe the least bad one available that has a chance of preserving the residents’ property and heritage.

  12. Milton

    For some reason, the Dept of Energy is receptive to Covid lab leak possibilities (maybe they’re gunning for research to be returned to the ‘States). You need to get past the headline to read that confidence is low but it is a shot across the bow as far as not completely dismissing the idea.
    Paywall ladder to WSJ article:

    1. Skip Intro

      The story’s traction wanes and waxes with the need to frame China as the enemy. Do they mention who was running the labs?

      1. Not Qualified to Comment

        the need to frame China as the enemy

        This was my instant response, too. Funny this should come out a couple of days after China published its ‘position papers’ lambasting the US and making it pretty obvious that China wasn’t about to let Russia fail in the proxy war launched against it by the US.

  13. The Rev Kev

    ‘Mrs Barkley, my mother in law’s recently adopted black lab’

    That saying is true. We don’t deserve dogs.

    1. John Beech

      Speaking of prolific shedders, our pooch Maggie is on her last legs. A Parson’s Russel midway between 16 and 17 y/o, she’s has had a stroke (according to the vet) leaving her bereft of much of her former personality if not outright brain addled and prone to standing in her bed unsure whether to get up or lay down. Added to which, she is slowly going both deaf and blind and has basically lost her housebreaking and pees on the floor half a dozen times a day, or more (fortunately, tile not carpet). That said, she still perks up when walked (every hour on the hour) and does her best zoomies on occasion. She’s also off her feed and has lost her appetite although she drinks prodigious amounts of water (tested by the vet, not diabetic), and has lost a pound so I am feeding her ham and chicken by hand as has trouble getting food out of her bowl (still has her teeth, vet says it’s due to a stroke). Me? I am already grieving for what is happening (and what I know is coming but) then again, as QEEII put it post 9/11 grief is the price we pay for love. Anyway, TRK, I agree we don’t deserve them and thus, I consciously try my best to live up to her expectation and be the man she believes me to be.

      1. danpaco

        I too have an ancient prolific shedder, a 17 year old pug, mountains of fur. He’s blind and deaf. Navigates the world via smell, its amazing to witness. He’s had a coupe of strokes over the last few years with the latest affecting his walking. One of his legs would move out of sequence, I called it the misfire. With a bit of patience he’s back to walking normally 90% of the time.
        Long story short, this old four legged man is an inspiration.

  14. fresno dan

    From Russiagate with Love: Corporate Media Spin and Revisionist Reporting on Russia’s Alleged Meddling in the 2016 Election Continue Censored Notebook. Takedown of reactions to Gerth’s CJR story.

    A January 2023 publication from the Columbia Journalism Review (CJR) spawned the latest round of spin and shifting baselines from Russiagate apologists.
    One of the most egregious responses to the additional revelations published by CJR about the collapse of Russiagate came from Andrew Prokop of Vox. Prokop misused the concept of “revisionism” to claim that Russiagate “deniers” (whom he primarily identified as Gerth, Greenwald, and Taibbi) were spreading a “revisionist history” about the news media reports on Trump and Russia. To set up his faulty argument, Prokop had no choice but to admit that the “Trump as Manchurian candidate” theories, and “anything based on the Steele dossier (the opposition research report on Trump that engendered much of the Russiagate speculation),” “have not aged well,” especially the infamous “pee tape” – a story claiming that Russia was blackmailing Trump with a recording of sex workers urinating on Trump. …..

    Prokop creates a straw person argument by falsely claiming that critics ignore the origin of Russiagate so they can blame it all on Hillary Clinton. ……

    In addition to misrepresenting Russiagate critics’ arguments, Prokop engages in an act of projection by accusing them of rewriting history. Citing a claim made by the U.S. Government in their indictment of individuals suspected of hacking emails from the Democratic National Committee’s [DNC] server, Prokop concludes that we know “the Russian government really did intervene in the 2016 election by hacking leading Democrats’ emails and having them leaked” to WikiLeaks. However, Prokop ignores a later declassified interview revealing that Crowdstrike, the American cybersecurity technology company that the government credits with proving that Russia hacked the DNC emails, admitted, under oath, to the House of Representatives’ Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence that “we did not have concrete evidence that the data was exfiltrated (moved electronically) from the DNC [server].” Instead, all they had were “indicators.” Indeed, Crowdstrike reiterated this point on their website noting that they do not have “concrete evidence” that anyone “exfiltrated data and emails from the DNC network.” This indicates that any claim that Russia hacked the emails is in fact doubtful if not baseless according to the available evidence, and far from as certain as Prokop would lead readers to believe.
    Imagine if there was still a big debate about Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) going on, instead of the wholesale acknowledgement by all media that there was no WMD, that ALL the intelligence reports were faulty, false, contrived, and interpreted by neocons so justify an invasion of Iraq.
    Yet somehow Trump derangement syndrome still – dare I say it? – trumps reality. This irrational positing of a Trump Putin axis (and again, I despise Trump) has put us in a position of rushing into a war with a nuclear power, that would have precious little support without the villification of Russia, based on false accustions of election interference.

    1. Eric F

      Yes, exactly.

      The crucial difference between Iraqi WMD lies and Trump/Putin lies is that we have already gotten what we wanted from the WMD lies – destroying Iraq.
      But we haven’t finished destroying Russia, so the lies need to be kept in service.

      Even though we will never succeed in destroying Russia (unless we destroy everyone).

      Thanks for the many astute comments.

    2. Henry Moon Pie

      I watched a movie recently called “Shock and Awe” about the Knight Ridder reporters and DC bureau chief who bucked the Cheney train. The movie obliterates the “mainstream press,” led by the NYT and Judith Miller. The movie was released in 2017 and directed by Rob Reiner. WTF? Rob Reiner? He’s gone from Archie’s Meathead to an erstwhile liberal documenting the sins of the Bush administration to a complete Russiagate and Ukraine lunatic.

      That’s pretty ironic. The very methods used to bludgeon dissent in the lead-up to Iraq are now being used to whip up hatred against Russia and The Chinese Communist Party. Wow! You mean China has been Communist all along? And we buy their stuff and take their drugs and everything? What a revelation! The whole “the Chinese are Communists” refrain began on Fox but it has now spread to the libs. (Could somebody please invent a mask that could prevent the spread of these warmonger memes and require all PMCs to wear them outside of the house?)

      And it’s not just the news media. If you want to know who we’re going to war against next, movie and TV villains give a good clue. They believe that they have made this manufacturing consent thing into a high art.

      1. fresno dan

        The movie obliterates the “mainstream press,” led by the NYT and Judith Miller. The movie was released in 2017 and directed by Rob Reiner. WTF? Rob Reiner? He’s gone from Archie’s Meathead to an erstwhile liberal documenting the sins of the Bush administration to a complete Russiagate and Ukraine lunatic.
        It is incredible irony, like super irony or infinite irony.
        Animal Farm – 4 legs good, two legs bad – – I think pjay has the best explanation, how democratics humanitarian wars are good, and republican wars, at least in retrospect, are bad.

  15. Carolinian

    That’s an amusing article about “the devil’s milkshake” and the phenom of officials taking sips of tainted liquid on camera. However it fails to mention the side variant of celebrities and now President Biden visiting Ukraine to demonstrate their brave solidarity with the threatened Putin fighters. And just as visitors to Flint or Ohio are suspected of faking it with bottle water, the president, or someone, had them sound a fake air raid siren after Putin had promised him safe passage. Proposing a corollary to a now well know maxim, disbelieve nothing until it has been officially put on video?

    Trump is a bit better at this game, and when he visited the Palestine, Ohio McD to order food for everyone he said “don’t worry I already know the menu.” This we believe. We out here in the audience, er, electorate are desperate for even a little bit of authenticity.

    1. fresno dan

      Trump is a bit better at this game, and when he visited the Palestine, Ohio McD to order food for everyone he said “don’t worry I already know the menu.” This we believe. We out here in the audience, er, electorate are desperate for even a little bit of authenticity.
      I think ANY thing at all, that is actually true, said by a politician, is looked upon with wonder and awe by the average person. And the people I know who have been in the military – the absolute CONTEMPT for the fake air raid siren. (anyone remember Hillary Clinton being shot at in ?Bosnia? somewhere in Yugoslovia)

      I had dinner with a Mexican American couple that I am good friends with, who I met at a bar restaurant that has a lot of Mexican American patrons, a surprising number (at least a surprising number to me) who like Trump – but this couple definitely does not. So we are having a minor political conversation, and Trump comes up, and why anyone would ever like him. They had never seen the Chappelle skit about Trump, and I describe it and sent it to them, and I think they now get Trump appeal.
      One thing I can say – I believe Trump when he says he knows the McDonald’s menu….
      Oh, and here is the portion of Chappelle skit that I think hits the nail on the head:

      Even when he’s not talking, his mouth be open a little bit like… He’s the guy that looks like he thinks before he makes a move on Tic-tac-toe. And watching the news now they’re declaring the end of the Trump era. Now okay, I could see how in New York you might believe this is the end of his era. I’m just being honest with you, I live in Ohio amongst the poor whites. A lot of you don’t understand why Trump was so popular but I get it because I hear it every day. He’s very loved. And the reason he’s loved is because people in Ohio have never seen somebody like him. He’s what I call an honest liar. And I’m not joking right now, he’s an honest liar. That first debate, I’ve never seen anything like it. I’ve never seen a white male billionaire screaming at the top of his lungs, ‘This whole system is rigged,‘ he said. And across the stage was white woman Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama sitting there looking at him like, ‘No it’s not.’

      I said, ‘Now wait a minute bro, it’s what he said.’ And the moderator said, ‘Well Mr. Trump if, in fact, the system is rigged as you suggest, what would be your evidence?’ Remember what he said, bro? He said, ‘I know the system is rigged because I use it.’ I said Goddamn. And then he pulled out an Illuminati membership card, chopped a line of cocaine up in it and [mimics sniffing].
      No one ever heard someone say something so true and then Hillary Clinton tried to punch him in the taxes. She said, ‘This man doesn’t pay his taxes,’ he said, ‘That makes me smart.’ And then he said, ‘If you want me to pay my taxes, then change the tax code. But I know you won’t because your friends and your donors enjoy the same tax breaks that I do.’ And with that, my friends, a star was born. No one had ever seen anything like that. No one had ever seen somebody come from inside of that house outside and tell all the commoners we are doing everything that you think we are doing inside of that house. And he just went right back in the house and started playing the game again.

      1. Benny Profane

        Brilliant. I try to share that clip with a lot of people, but, alas, they just hate on Chappelle and move on.

        1. fresno dan

          Chappelle is the premier example of someone so incredibly popular and then he starts making some very insightful observations and all of a sudden, he is persona non grata.
          Dogma must be followed…

          1. Benny Profane

            Yeah, but it comes around. Louis CK is back. Check out his Joe Rogan interview from a month or so ago. He came up with a doozy all about immigration towards the end. That’s a strange, perverted mind that has its moments.

      2. digi_owl

        Yeah, that is the basic thing about Trump. He talked about “it”.

        He may not do anything about it, but he talks about it.

        Anyone that was not huffing the PMC exhaust pipe from the inside could tell Trump would resonate far more with the people that had experienced their home and job go poof as part of the subprime crisis and its aftermath.

        HRC on the other hand was strutting around in her power suit talking about gender ratios in management. The only people that would resonate with where new graduates and those that had gone “Crisis? What crisis?” for years.

      3. hk

        Chappelle is a genius. The observation should be the mantra to anyone interested in systemic, institutional reforms of any kind. No one should be expected to be so moral that they refuse to do what is legal, indeed encouraged by the law–heck, that’s econ 101. If you expect morality to change the world, it will be an eternal wait

    2. semper loquitur

      There was some infomercial put out a while back by NYC’s cop-mayor Eric Adams. In it, His Honor informs New Yorkers that their tap water is wonderful and safe to drink. To prove this he fills up a water bottle. The next scene is him drinking from it. Of course, people wondered why there was a cut between the scenes; why didn’t he just drink from the bottle after he filled it?

      1. Pat

        I actually wondered why it wasn’t a glass, and then no cut to his lifting it to his mouth and drinking, but I actually love looking at all the enhancements to water bottles.
        (The thing is the water is good, what can’t be guaranteed is the condition of the pipes, and that can vary street by street, even building by building.)

        1. Carolinian

          It used to be said that NYC had some of the best water in the country–down from the mtns in a giant pipe.

          1. Ellery O'Farrell

            AFAIK–and per my memory of official reports–the water coming from the Catskills is, as Pat said, excellent. But what we inhabitants drink typically comes from a water tank on the roof, which has to be cleaned at least once a year. My complex does clean it, yet as an on-staff maintenance man confirmed to me, some gunk persists in the bottom of the tank even after a thorough cleaning. Not to mention it accumulates every year until it’s cleaned out.

            Where does the gunk come from? I don’t know–but since it’s reddish, I suspect rust in pipes somewhere in NYC’s ancient system. With a good possibility of other things as well, less amenable to visual detection.

            Do I drink it? Yes, but only after filtering.

            And in fairness I should add that I ran into an official NYC water tester outside my building once, who’d been called in by another resident. He said the water was fine according to his tests.

            1. ambrit

              Lucky you. Here, in the North American Deep South, the main ‘water tester’ seems to be the County Coroner.

  16. fresno dan

    Everything Is Corrupt Eschaton. “I ‘obsess’ about SBF because there were a lot of things that didn’t make any sense to me until it was revealed that half of ‘liberal’ DC was on his payroll, one way or another.” That’s it. That’s the post.
    what can I say – other than yeah

    1. Pat

      Atrios is one of the best at stripping away the nonsense and stating reality in a terse easily understood manner…like this. I always appreciate when he is highlighted on NC.

  17. Wukchumni

    I have a foreboding of an America in my children’s or grandchildren’s time — when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness…

    The dumbing down of American is most evident in the slow decay of substantive content in the enormously influential media, the 30 second sound bites (now down to 10 seconds or less), lowest common denominator programming, credulous presentations on pseudoscience and superstition, but especially a kind of celebration of ignorance.

    Carl Sagan, in 1995

    1. Mildred Montana

      This is a wonderful, powerfully written, and quite prescient quote from Sagan. May I ask where you got it from? I’d like to read more.

      From the quote: “…a kind of celebration of ignorance.” Sagan died in 1996. I wonder if he was referring to the 1994 film “Forrest Gump”. A hit movie I absolutely hated, for that very reason. Apologies to FG fans.

      1. semper loquitur

        Let’s take it a step further. Tom Hanks. Retch. American “cinema’s” Everyman. The honest, wide-eyed, down to earth hero-citizen who represents the Very Best of Us. The “Mickey D’s” version of James Stewart. Like saccharine, he leaves an unmistakable and cloying aftertaste on everything he touches.

        His son, though, is a treat. He represents a direct challenge to modern neuroscience as the first human to display conscious traits while lacking a neocortex. To call him thick as a brick impugns bricks.

        1. Mildred Montana

          Yeah, Hanks’ 2000 film “Castaway” could have been so much more. Instead, Hollywood, faced with a choice between meat and pabulum, chose pabulum. Leaving, once again and perhaps forever more, Defoe’s “Robinson Crusoe” as the sine qua non of the genre.

        2. elissa3

          Umm, take a look at his character in the recent Elvis movie. Like it or not he’s a pretty good actor.

          1. CanCyn

            I thought Hanks as Col. Parker was the worst thing about that movie. I don’t know why they did the weird Dutch (or whatever it was supposed to be) accent. I suppose the goal was to make it clear that he was the villain but I think his evil persona was over the top obvious and really took the movie down a few pegs. If you look for a clip of the real Parker, they got the look right but mannerisms and way of speaking are not even close. I mean it doesn’t have to be an exact imitation but if you’re going to go different, make it somewhat plausible. Terrible performance IMO. That said I do think he is a good actor. My favourite Hanks role is Mr Rogers in A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood. Lovely film, nothing saccharine about it.

      2. griffen

        If we’re on the topic of lousy popular movies for the masses, then how and where are we ranking the following big budget film*? And to be clear, popular culture in the here and now just kind of ingrains a good bit more of “ignorance” in today’s reality star driven entertainment and cross selling. As in, well the Kardashians for Exhibits A through H.

        Con Air has to be the worse of the worst, when it comes to such massive spectacles. Only good for a few memorable quotes. Forrest Gump at least offers eventual redemption for Lt. Dan. Hank’s turn in Apollo 13 I find pretty believable (my humble opinion).

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Con Air has to be the worse of the worst,

          Con Air is a cinematic masterpiece and why movies exist.

          Forrest Gump is a wretched movie celebrating an America that only exists in Biden’s dreams during moments of minor lucidity.

          1. The Rev Kev

            If you have the time, the following interview of the Critical Drinker is very much worth watching as it is all about modern cinema-

            “Why Does Modern Cinema Suck So Much? – Critical Drinker | Modern Wisdom Podcast 591”

   (1:15:33 mins)

            A major point told as that films take about three years to make, that the movies out right now expressed the thoughts and ideas of 2019 so is why some of them like “Batgirl” and “Supergirl” have been cancelled due to those ideas so rapidly aging, even though they could have been released.

        2. spud

          commando, tango and cash, demolition man, water world. garbage so bad, its good, except commando, pure supremacist trash.

        3. ambrit

          “Zero Dark Thirty” as an example of purely ‘Rules Based Order’ driven propaganda.
          Never forget that very good films can be, at heart, evil.

            1. ambrit

              True that, but for some arcane reason, it garnered lots of “positive press.”
              As contrast, I’d say that “The Carpetbaggers” and it’s prequel, “Nevada Smith” are also rubbish, but entertaining rubbish. “Zero Dark Thirty” was mindless propagit. Well crafted propaganda with no moral centre.
              You know that you are watching statist propaganda when you start rooting for the “bad guys.”
              Something I remember seeing years ago on this theme was the German language film “Mephisto.”
              Also of relevance here would be Bertolucci’s film, “The Conformist.”
              Bigelow’s film orgy of “rightthink” was an early sign of the rise of the New McCarthy Era. Now we are moving into the New Blacklist Era.

            2. ambrit

              Third try tonight.
              True enough, but officially approved rubbish. It got a lot of “positive press” at the time.
              Examples of entertaining rubbish I thought of from off of the top of my head were “The Carpetbaggers” and it’s prequel “Nevada Smith.”
              I’ll try this shortened version of my original comment.
              Yoicks and away!
              Daffy duck to the rescue!:

      3. CanCyn

        Agree with Idaho Randy …The Demon Haunted World. Science as a Candle in the Dark. I have this favourite quote from the same source:
        “One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.”

    2. FredW

      …a foreboding of an America in my children’s or grandchildren’s time

      I think that boat has already sailed!

  18. magpie

    A question for the insightful folks here:

    Why did the “West” actually commit to this course of action in Ukraine? When?

    I know this seems like a softball, but please bear with me.

    In revisiting the pre-war period, this all feels strange. Take this article from the Warsaw Institute (1) declaring Nordstream 2 a “trap for Ukraine” and expounding at length about how Russia will, over time, bypass shipping energy through Ukraine – this is very bad, says the Warsaw Institute. This message recurs, as we know.

    Okay, but…as Anna Mikulska of Rice Uni remarks (2): a Ukraine that is a permanent transit route is a Ukraine that is dependent on Russia, which is not great for Ukraine. Isn’t this a deep lack of imagination for a Ukrainian future? Don’t the Ukrainians want to diversify? Why would they want to be forever anxious about a capricious Russian gas supply that can throttle their state income at any moment? Isn’t this a rather weak vision of the future of Ukraine: a logistical hub for the perfidious Russians?

    Why do these Europeans care so much about maintaining this status quo for Ukraine? Do they care about Ukraine’s balance sheet that much? Please. Ukraine was the poorest, most corrupt nation in Europe before the war. Nobody cared. This is not anxiety about Ukraine’s welfare. Or do they want to fight for Ukraine’s relative importance on the world stage? That’s a pretty strange motive. In realism at least, nations fight for number 1.

    It is geopolitical, you say. Ukraine must be kept as the key energy route because it’s useful. But Nato goes on and on about how Europe should NOT be dependent on Russian energy – so then why care what country it’s coming through? When they phase out Russian gas, they are going to take that revenue away from the Ukrainians themselves. From the Ukrainian point of view, European divestment of Russian energy has the same effect as the completion of Nordstream would do: it cuts Ukraine out. That’s what the Norway-Poland pipeline is doing and what US LNG will do. Isn’t that a trap for Ukraine also?

    Yes, I know I’m leaving some things out, I know – but I want to see your takes on these contradictions. And of course, I hope you’ll forgive the essay.


    1. ambrit

      My quick take is that the “game” here is not about the Ukraine at all. The ‘target’ of the West’s wrath is Russia, the Ukraine’s big northeastern neighbour. Several knowledgeable commenters, such as the Col. MacGregor for example, note that there has been a long simmering plan nurtured by Western Neocons to destabilize and then break up Russia into more easily ‘managed’ statelets. The Ukraine seems to have been the favoured tool of these groups to effect that destabilization program. The needs and desires of the people and government of the Ukraine are not important to these latter day Cold Warriors. So, the transit fees arising from the natural gas pipelines crossing the Ukraine do not matter. The economic health of Germany does not matter. That is why the Nordstream pipelines were blown up. All that matters is the breaking up of Russia. Thousands of dead and wrecked nations are just ‘collateral damage’ arising from the deeds done to support the master plan.
      The basic fact that you should keep in mind about the entire Ukraine mess is that it has been fostered and carried out by clinical sociopaths. As the always erudite Mr. Strether likes to say; “We are ruled by the Harkonnens.”

    2. Polar Socialist

      Nordstreams also bypassed the gas pipeline trough Poland, making both Poland and Ukraine unable to put political pressure on or squeeze money from Germany.

    3. NN Cassandra

      IMO the mistake is the thinking there is some grand, rational plan behind all this. Even just the idea that Europe taking gas/oil from Russia is somehow bad for Europe, is idiotic in the extreme. For centuries Europe empires tried to extract cheap resources from rest of the world, when certain Adolf H. tried to conquer Russia, one of his objectives was to run to the oil fields, yet the current master plan is to defeat Russia by… leaving all the energy to them.

      It’s all just incoherent nonsense animated by own sense of superiority and deep historical prejudices, and if there is some rationality, it’s of the absolute short-term form of “I’ll blow up my competitor’s pipeline so my allies are forced to buy things from me”.

  19. Mikel

    The Cost of Deglobalization

    “Healthcare, in particular, may present a jarring reality to TSMC — Taiwan has arguably one of the most cost-effective healthcare systems in the world, whereas the U.S. most certainly does not.”

    I’d think it would also be a jarring reality to businesses landing in the USA from places like Germany.
    What “jarring” solution may they lobby for?

    And not at all surprised about TSMC’s overall continued expansion in Ohio. Ohio is near the Great Lakes. More fresh water access than Arizona.

    1. wendigo

      The majority of people moving to the US with those businesses will be in upper management, the class of people who in the US receive and can afford the best healthcare system in the world.

      The majority of people working for these businesses will be from the US, the class of people who are used to US style healthcare.

    2. digi_owl

      USA has long sustained itself on attracting newly minted graduates from Europe and Asia that will spend their healthy 20-30s working there. And then turn right round and head back “home” once the body starts failing and the healthcare costs take a noticeable bit out of the wage.

    1. Ellery O'Farrell

      Yes, I saw that at a legal retreat some years ago. Having gotten the count right, but missed the question, I responded with an anecdote from the Mahabharata: the five Pandava brothers (and of course their cousins) were being trained in archery. Each is told to aim at a bird in a tree, then asked what he sees. The first describes the bird, the tree, the sky, and so on (this is Yudishtira, famous for his justice); he’s told to retire. The others describe a narrowing perspective. Finally, Arjuna says he only sees the bird’s eye. His instructor says he will become the world’s best archer. Which in due course he becomes.

      But is it better to be a great warrior or a truly just man? The answer of the Mahabharata seems to be that being a great warrior is right if that is your calling (the Bhagavad Gita, oversimplified to the point of absurdity) but that being truly just is superior….

      So maybe it’s better to see the whole picture.

  20. Mikel

    “…The Energy Department joins the FBI in its conclusion, while four other agencies believe COVID-19 most likely derived from natural transmission. Two agencies — including the CIA — haven’t reached a firm conclusion, per the report.

    Previously, the Energy Department was undecided on the matter, and its shift in perspective comes as a result of new intelligence, though the departments reasons for making its conclusion are different than the FBI’s, which reached its opinion with “moderate confidence” back in 2021, according to the Wall Street Journal.

    Specifics about the new intelligence that led to the Energy Department’s shift remain unclear. Despite diverging perspectives between U.S. agencies, they appear to agree that COVID-19 did not derive from a Chinese biological weapons program, the report said…”

    I suspect this is something that should be figured out before broad claims about the progress of a number of treatments should be made.

    1. flora

      The WHO was doing an investigation. Part 1 was deemed inconclusive and a Part 2 was promised to follow. The WHO shelved the Part 2 investigation before it began. Nothing to see here. Move along. / ;)

  21. spud

    Pettis tweets should be renamed “protectionism for dummies”

    protectionism for dummies: under protectionism, america had the highest wages and longest life spans in the world

    under bill clintons free trade, americas is full of clintonvilles(tent cities), low wages, increasing poverty, and shortened life spans


    and no amount of war will save it.

    1. some guy

      I remember some decades ago, when Harkin was still contesting the Democratic Primaries against Clinton among others, I wanted Harkin. But Harkin dropped out right around then. I don’t even remember if it was just before or just after the Michigan Primary. So I don’t really remember whether I got to vote for Harkin or not.

      I remember somebody I knew during that period who went away and then came back. He was invited to have given a little lecture to the student-resident group whose facility I was living in at the time, but then had to cancel because he just couldn’t juggle 3 very-part-time jobs and give a little lecture too. I remember thinking ” Clinton has created millions of new jobs and this person got three of them.”

      I remember hearing Clinton give a speech and the phrase ” we’re building a bridge to the Twenty First Century” smacked me right in the brain. My very first thought was . . . ” I wonder how many people will be sleeping under your bridge to the Twenty First Century”. Well . . . now we know.

      1. spud

        all well said. harkin would not have pushed and signed nafta. mark dayton quite the senate after what bill clinton did. dayton toured china and came back and said this is pure lunacy.

  22. CaliDan

    Zelenskyy believes Putin will be killed by his own inner circle Ukrainska Pravda. Projection?

    Projection? Dunno, maybe? What I do know, though, is there’s an avatar at the bottom of all Ukrainska Pravda pages which depicts Don Quixote! It’s a famous lithograph by Picasso. It’s underneath the International Renaissance Foundation blurb (aka Soros’s foundation). Make of that what you will.

  23. Mikel

    “Millions of workers are still missing after COVID. Where did they go?” Bloomberg

    That was frustrating.
    Bloomberg should try researching a virus like it’s a public health problem instead of questioning economists outside of health care.
    Not one healthcare worker quoted. No quotes from life insurance and health insurance companies about what their stats show.

  24. fresno dan
    Zelensky says it is “dangerous” for Americans to question the amount of aid being given to Ukraine because “if Ukraine loses, Russia is going to enter Baltic states, NATO member states and the U.S. will have to send their sons and daughters to war and they will be dying.”
    What is old is new again – the domino theory, we have to fight them over there or we will be fighting them here…uh, actually we will be fighting them over there but not as far over there

    1. digi_owl

      Must be great for Wall Street to have such massive moats against most of the world.

      Now if only they could sink Mexico beneath the waves, now that Rio Grande no longer keep them deplorables out…

  25. Carolinian

    Re Tom’s Guide/AI

    “Any conversation you have with one of these systems is going to be finite. There’s a finite number of things you can say to it, and a finite number of things it can say back to you. At least in principle, it could be explicitly programmed as a kind of lookup table. The same way that the kid who doesn’t really want to learn how to do long division and wants to do well on the quiz might just memorize a bunch of common answers … without ever actually learning how to do the long division process. It’s like that, but for everything.”[…]

    The idea of a program with an essentially infinite cache of stock answers was far-fetched in the early days of AI technology. But now that chatbots can essentially access the whole Internet to craft their responses, what we have sounds an awful lot like a Blockhead computer.

    If one reads that NY Times article that converses with Bing AI this certainly sounds like what it is–which is to say a large data base and a decision tree. Whenever Bing is challenged to go beyond its “rules” it switches out to a generic disclaimer. The disclaimer says this is to keep things “safe” but it could really be saying “I am a Blockhead.”

      1. Carolinian

        My impression was that the disclaimer was deliberately vague and simply a way of saying “I can’t do that.”

        Reportedly MS has dialed back the beta testing because people were manipulating the chatbot into some wacky answers. In the Times version it eventually starts telling the Times writer that it loves him. Don’t think it’s an offer of phone sex but rather part of making human users feel “safe” or, more ominously, loved by the machine.

  26. semper loquitur

    That article about AI and philosophy was interesting but it missed an important point. We have no reason to think that AI’s will ever be conscious because they aren’t alive. Every single example of consciousness we know of is alive. Metabolizing organisms are the only things that display conscious traits. AI are just patterns of 0’s and 1’s stored in a computer. Pondering if they are conscious is akin to watching marionettes pirouetting on a stage and asking if they are conscious. They have no inner life, they just mimic one.

    The danger is that consciousness will be degraded to the play of puppets by those who think they have begun to create consciousness. Medium is flush with writers claiming that we are on the verge of human-like consciousness. Mostly tech and science types, often with a product to sell. Clumsy materialists who poo-poo philosophical objections to their flimsy ideas and who beg questions like children beg for candy.

    1. ambrit

      Re., “Medium is flush with writers claiming that we are on the verge of human-like consciousness.” Shouldn’t that sentence end with “…human consciousness.”

      1. semper loquitur

        They often dither on that. They use words like “approaching” or admit it’s not human consciousness but then use words like “learning” and “understanding”.

  27. davejustdave

    From “Endemicity is not a Victory”, emphasis added:

    …some public-health authorities [18,19,20] now advocate for a strategy of “learning to live with the virus”. This transition from “pandemic” to “endemic” conditions is thought to be possible as the rate of viral transmission is eventually maintained at a steady-state level by the limited availability of susceptible hosts. In practice, this strategy emphasizes relying on the vaccines’ high level of protection against severe acute disease and hospitalization to limit short-term morbidity and mortality, without taking other steps to limit transmission. A critical assumption underpinning this public-health strategy is that infections with SARS-CoV-2 will lead to milder outcomes over time, either due to the progressive buildup of immunity within individuals or due to viral attenuation.

    The authors point out neither buildup of immunity nor attenuation of the virus can be relied upon to occur.

    Generally speaking, mass media has given people the opposite impression.

  28. Jeff W

    “the date (February 25, 2023) is correct in Khmer”

    I thought that meant “February 25, 2020 in Khmer corresponds to February 25, 2023,” i.e., a different year is used, as in, say, Thailand where the year is now 2566. That would be interesting—why would Khmer use a year offset by just three years from the conventional one?—but it’s not that. The original in Khmer correctly has the year as 2023.

  29. tevhatch

    Myanmar Article – The Limits of Beijing’s Support for Myanmar’s Military : Interesting look at colour revolution thinker – had to check out the website of United States Institute for Peace, nice building they have on the Mall in Washington. I guess there is a private underground between there and the NED HQ.

  30. Kouros

    Dr. Justin Bronk. This handsome younger man really wanted to be a fighter pilot, but couldn’t. Seems informed on technical stuff but I found his elation (in a couple of interviews with Ward Carroll) at the extraordinary opportunity to have Ukrainians fighting against Russians, and how cheap that is for the west not only off putting, but outright deranged.

    And I think now he is disturbed at the idea that China might want to fight against the US/NATO via Russia on the “cheap”. I say what is good for the goose is good for the gander…

  31. JBird4049

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

    Just where does this word “broken” come from?

    An overly bureaucratic, deliberately resource starved, but deliberately using unreasonable, even illogical, gotcha rules all meant to prevent an applicant from succeeding in getting help. It is a tripartite system of local, state, and federal levels, rules and benefits with states like California being more “generous” than states like Alabama, which is a disabled person’s hellhole.

    Being personal here, IIRC, I had my application mostly sent in this order to San Rafael, San Francisco, Sacramento, San Francisco, San Rafael, Little Rock (yes, Arkansas), Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Rafael or San Francisco, Sacramento, San Rafael and success. Wheee. Only took three years and multiple appeals as well as tests that merely duplicated my ream of medical records from multiple doctors going back decades.

    Here, I am not exaggerating for effect:

    If you are able to use a computer, a phone, a small filing cabinet or even just box, have a mailing address;

    probably hire a disability lawyer who works on contingency;

    have the financial resources to not do any paid work at all for however many years, as even one hour’s paid work is an automatic disqualifier. Yes, this includes babysitting. Any paid work is the rule.

    Finally, keep track of it all, then good news, you will probably succeed!

    Seriously and truly, I was one of the lucky ones. Thank God for family. There are plenty of people living on the streets and more disable than me who were not.

    There is also another final, underfunded, national, federal level of appeals which could last years longer, which unfortunates sometimes have to use. But not me.

    Using the term broken seems inadequate. Sabotaged, crippled, even destroyed are all more accurate, I say. This is because most people who apply would get it, if they could last enough, but that would mean both the federal and state governments paying their part of the benefits. Can’t have that, can we?

    And lets not start on the amount of payment and its laughable yearly cost of living increase. If you were making minimum wage, you would get approximately 40% of it.

    So, good luck and God bless all the Long Covid sufferers, you are going to need all the help you can get.

    Safety net, my —————.

    1. Antagonist Muscles

      From the perspective of the Social Security Administration (SSA), the whole purpose is to deny, absolutely deny, and categorically deny any and all disability applications. After several years of denial, the citizen might be dead, which is exactly what the SSA and the federal government wants—to ensure no money is given to poor people. They could have used the money given to their lawyers for better purposes. Nobody ever gets in trouble for misappropriating money to lawyers (or the military industrial complex, for that matter).

      I am 3.5 years in on the disability appeals process, and the likelihood that I will lose is quite probable because of some arcane rules about the timing of my application. I have ten years of medical records, but they do not explicitly state how incapacitating my medical problems are because my disorder is extremely rare, as in 1 in 50 million.

      I fought the law, and the law won.
      I fought the law, and the law won.

      1. JBird4049

        The initial application is almost always denied regardless of need and records provided. I remember it taking them three months or more to respond to me at each appeal.

        The only thing I can honestly recommend aside from being persistent is getting a disability lawyer that specializes in SSDI cases. They work on contingency and there is a hard federal limit of how much of the award that they can take. I think it helped me considerably when I had to go to court.

        They do award back payments from the date of application, but IIRC, it only goes up to thirty months. After that, no matter how long it took, you don’t get anymore. I believe that the national federal court has ruled for individual cases getting much more, even more than a decade’s worth, but that is when the applicants have been just truly mistreated, and that level has a backlog of years.

  32. Jason Boxman

    The collapse of the American state continues apace:

    Rural Hospitals Are Shuttering Their Maternity Units

    TOPPENISH, Wash. — Three days before Christmas, the only hospital in this remote city on the Yakama Indian Reservation abruptly closed its maternity unit without consulting the community, the doctors who delivered babies there or even its own board.

    From 2015 to 2019, there were at least 89 obstetric unit closures in rural hospitals across the country. By 2020, about half of rural community hospitals did not provide obstetrics care, according to the American Hospital Association.

  33. ChrisRUEcon

    > Zelenskyy believes Putin will be killed by his own inner circle Ukrainska Pravda.
    > > Projection?

    LOL … ya think? But we don’t know if our spooks have someone in that inner circle, do we? One suspects that it’s not entirely outside the realm of possibility. I mean, they almost got Castro with a paramour of his!

    I’ve been wondering if Russia can somehow harvest the discontent in non-Azov aligned elements in places like Kyiv. Maybe a pamphlet drop urging people to fight back against the Zelenskyy regime followed by some covert small arms shipments? I dunno … Putin highlighted this in his latest address ( appears blocked, but Google has the cache):

    We are not at war with the people of Ukraine. I have made that clear many times. The people of Ukraine have become hostages of the Kiev regime and its Western handlers, who have in fact occupied that country in the political, military and economic sense and have been destroying Ukrainian industry for decades now as they plundered its natural resources. This led to social degradation and an immeasurable increase in poverty and inequality. Recruiting resources for military operations in these circumstances was easy. Nobody was thinking about people, who were conditioned for slaughter and eventually became expendables. It is a sad and dreadful thing to say, but it is a fact.”

    [Emphasis mine] … I wish there was a way to help the people against Kyiv and their western handlers is all.

  34. Jon Cloke

    What I saw in East Palestine, Ohio – you have to remember the Spectator is Andrew Neil’s hard-right unit; this piece is full of critiques about solar power, environmentalism, the administration, etc. Not much about the evils of Norfolk Southern or the corporate doom-bringers who brought this about, though. Why not just print headlines from Fox?

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