Links 2/27/2023

Practice yoga with butterflies at the Butterfly Pavilion Axios (Denver). Axios having local bureaus is a very interesting development.

Alligator pulled from NYC lake had swallowed bathtub stopper, authorities say CNN

Private equity-backed insurers under US scrutiny over risky loans FT

A History Of Market Panics Investor Amnesia

Private debt, monetary policy tightening and aggregate demand Bank of International Settlements

More on the Interest-Income Channel Stephanie Kelton, The Lens

Survey: Business economists push back US recession forecasts AP


CO2 from direct air capture is stored in concrete in first-of-its-kind demonstration Gas World. Roman-style concrete?

Electric vehicle drivers get candid about charging: ‘Logistical nightmare’ ABC (Re Silc).

And You Thought Feral Hogs Were Bad. Fire Ants Have Unleashed Chaos in Texas for Decades Texas Monthly

Epic winter storm turns Southern California snow white; more rain and snow on the way LA Times


Lab Leak Most Likely Origin of Covid-19 Pandemic, Energy Department Now Says WSJ. “The Energy Department made its judgment with ‘low confidence,’ according to people who have read the classified report.” On the bright side, fomites were a non-starter, so at least we can rule out transmission by balloon.

No definitive answers for whether COVID-19 originated in lab, says US national security adviser Andalou Agency


Commentary: Beijing’s peace plan for Ukraine offers glimpse of how China plans to win the war Channel News Asia. Meanwhile, wolf warrior diplomacy:

Some hits, some misses. Ignore the “potentially sensitive content” warning. There aren’t any pictures of Abu Ghraib or Gitmo!

Can a Million Chinese People Die and Nobody Know? The Atlantic. A million died in the US, and nobody noticed, so why not?

China aims to launch nearly 13,000 satellites to ‘suppress’ Elon Musk’s Starlink, researchers say South China Morning Post. So long, night sky! Nice to have known you!

How Singapore stacks up against Hong Kong in battle of Asia hubs FT

European Disunion

Pd primaries, Elly Schlein is the first female secretary: she wins with 53%. “A revolution, clear mandate for change” (Google translation) Il Fatto Quotidiano (DJG). Pd = “Partito Democratico.” Secretary = “Party leader.” DJG: “As Italy starts to move out of terminal Atlanticism, if it ever was there…. Schlein is to the left of Bonaccini, who was a tad too close to Renzi, who is the Hillary / Tony Blair of Italian politics. So Renzi’s influence over the Partito Democratico will be minimized. Schlein has temporized about sending arms to Ukraine. The base doesn’t want arms or Italian soldiers in Ukraine, so we’ll see if she figures that out. ”

Hopes grow for deal on N. Ireland protocol as EU’s Von der Leyen to meet Sunak France24. UPDATE:

Talks on Kosovo in Brussels will be difficult: Serbian president Andalou Agency

New Not-So-Cold War

Ukraine’s Endgame James W. Carden, The American Conservative. Author bio: “James W. Carden served as advisor on U.S.-Russian affairs at the State Department during the Obama administration.” Interesting Carden had to go to TAC to get this piece published; it’s well worth a read.

How the war in Ukraine has challenged left-wing restrainers Responsible Statecraft

Ukraine Is the West’s War Now WSJ

Sullivan won’t say whether US will back Ukraine in retaking Crimea FOX. Perhaps they need a security guarantee:

War in Ukraine Drives New Surge of U.S. Oil Exports to Europe WSJ. Ka-ching.

* * *

War in Ukraine ‘stems from the Orange Revolution, a humiliating ordeal for Putin’ France24. Why must everything be personal? Are we all teenagers now? Wait, don’t answer that:

The Maidan Massacre in Ukraine: Revelations from Trials and Investigation (PDF) Ivan Katchanovski, 10th World Congress of the International Council for Central and East European Studies. From 2021, still germane.

* * *

Zelensky fires a top Ukrainian military commander, no reason given Reuters

Belarusian partisans sabotaged in Machulishchy Ukrainska Pravda. Looks like we’re spinning up some Belorusian Bellingcats.

Ukraine war: Designing outfits for Beyoncé and Sam Smith from Kyiv BBC

Biden Administration

Transcript: CIA director William Burns on “Face the Nation,” Feb. 26, 2023 CBS

Casinos and consulting? Pandemic spurs tribes to diversify AP. If only the sovereign tribes would go into the passport business (if they can), we could bootstrap a version of Mr.Lee’s Greater Hong Kong, which many would appreciate. Ha ha only serious?

Democrats en Déshabillé

Democrats explore blue-collar struggles as brand is ‘damaged’ NYT

The Supremes

Transcript: Gonzalez v. Google Oral Argument Tech Policy Press. Section 230.

Four quadrants of Section 230ishnes Interfluidity (their new site).

Police State Watch

Bristling Under Progressive Mayor, St. Louis Police Seek State Takeover The Intercept. Wowsers, I always thought cops were civil servants, not independent political actors.


Der Spiegel asks: “Is the CIA hunting Assange’s supporters?” WSWS

Supply Chain

Insurers count the cost of ships snagged in Ukraine crisis Hellenic Shipping News


Tech’s hottest new job: AI whisperer. No coding required. WaPo. So that’s where the grift value-add is (and not the data set). Humanities majors, take note!

Dish Network’s internal systems are so broken some employees haven’t worked in over a day The Verge

Our Famously Free Press

Watching Tucker Carlson for Work The New Yorker (Furzy Mouse).

Realignment and Legitimacy

Marjorie Taylor Greene’s Civil War The Atlantic. Such talk has been going on for some time, including from liberal Democrat factions: The Nation (2021); The New Republic (2017). The trope that Blue State taxes support Red State spending has been around since forever. What goes around….

Imperial Collapse Watch

US Dollar Primacy in an Age of Economic Warfare Michael St-Pierre and Michael Kao, Kaoboy Musings. Part one of four. Parts two, three, and four. Commentary:

Army secretary shoots high for recruiting goals despite crisis in finding enlistees: reports FOX

Tim Peake: ‘I do not see us having a problem getting to Mars’ FT. British astronaut. What do the Martians think?

Guillotine Watch

Boston property magnate worth $220m is accused of hiding $130m from movie director wife he’s divorced twice, after she caught him spending $532,000 on WOODEN DUCKS (but he says she’s so lazy she spent $80,000 on staffer to brush dogs’ teeth!) Daily Mail (Petal).

Class Warfare

How a small-town train derailment erupted into a culture battle WaPo. Of course…

A viral high school tour underscores the haves and have-nots in America’s schools NBC

Alone and Exploited, Migrant Children Work Brutal Jobs Across the U.S. NYT

I’ve spent years studying happiness. Here’s what actually makes for a happier life Fast Company

How to take better care of your aging brain National Geographic

Antidote du jour (via):

Bonus antidote:

Double bonus antidote. We may have published this in the past, but it’s worth hoisting again even so:

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. digi_owl

      I fully suspect any animal can get it, as i suspect it is basically a massive overreaction of the fight or flight reflex.

      1. Mildred Montana

        In nature the antelope sometimes escapes the chase of the lions. A few minutes later it is contentedly munching grass, unperturbed, appetite intact. No PTSD there. I think PTSD is limited to human beings* and strictly a cost of their higher intelligence and ability to contemplate—and perhaps fear—the future.

        *Not the Hollywood portrayal of human beings. Movie heroes like James Bond and many others seem immune to it. Bond will narrowly escape death three times in a day and then be seen that evening in bed with a beautiful woman and sipping a martini. No PTSD for him. The discriminating viewer must work hard to suspend disbelief.

        1. The Rev Kev

          The basic James Bond figure is kinda broken and sometimes they let slip this in their films. In one film, Bond manages to get one baddy to fall off a high cliff and is smiling as the guy is falling. But when that baddy deploys a parachute to save his life, the smile drops right off Bond’s face.

    2. Greg

      Definitely, you just need to adopt a few stray cats or even kittens from a home to know that cats get something like PTSD. Affects their personality for years.

  1. Amfortas the hippie

    regarding the Imported Fire Ant:
    almost 20 years ago, the last time i was deeply involved in commercial horticulture, i came across an insect eating fungus, Beauvaria Bassiana.
    dont remember the reason i was looking around at such things, but it struck me that this might work against those damned ants.
    the problem was that the worker ants would sacrifice themselves to remove the spores ere it could ever get to the queen.
    so i studied ants…learned to distinguish the native fire ant(less agressive, and good guys) from the imported…the stucture of the mounds( there was a guy who made mold out of dental metal of various ant mounds, which i cant find the link for), and came up with a method to deploy this fungus: a 5’long section of 3/4″ PVC, greased with vaseline and with a funnel taped to it. Jam that thing into the mound, pour a little of the (very expensive) spore solution down it, and move on to the next mound.
    i did our whole 20 acres, as well as a couple hundred feet around it on the neighbors’ places.
    didn’t have any imported fire ants on our place until very recently.
    so one treatment every 20 or so years seems to be efficacious….and it would be better with a community approach…get all the neighbors on board.
    imported fire ants do their mating dance a half mile up…and fall pretty much at random, where they make their new mounds…so there’s no permanent solution.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Here is a link to a mob that seems to do this sort of stuff-

      And they have their own YouTube channel-

      Fire ants snuck into our region here in Oz about ten, twenty years ago and now every coupla months we have a fire ant team inspect our whole paddock looking for them and spreading some sort of poison around-

    2. John Zelnicker

      Amfortas – Fire ants came to the US through the Port of Mobile. (Another noxious contribution to our country from my hometown.)

      I have never heard of native vs. imported for ants. AFAIK, all fire ants come from the stowaways who landed here.

      Can you provide more information about native vs. imported?

      Thanks, stay safe.

      1. Amfortas the hippie
        much less aggressive than the imported…ie: they dont go absolutely crazy when mound is disturbed.
        smaller, and the mounds look much different.
        all the native ants are good guys, in my book…and the imported fire ants will displace many of them…by outcompeting as well as by ant warfare(!).
        after i did that fungal treatment, all the natives quickly returned…my faves are the “Harvester Ants” and thos “Velvet” or “Cow Ants”>(which is not a true ant, but rather a wasp)—(the stings of these hurt like hell, but you hafta try pretty hard to get them to sting you)
        the natives perform vital ecosystem services.
        there’s a huge colony of Harvesters under mom’s place…6 entrances, spread over 3 acres…millions of ants…and i suspect their City goes down 20-30 feet, based on my reading and on some of the soil samples they bring to the surface. they actually ranch aphids and milk them for honeydew, and all the leaves and such they carry down are used as a “bed” to grow various fungi, which is what they eat.

        1. John Zelnicker

          Fascinating, indeed!

          I have never heard of the other ants referred to as fire ants, only the S. invicta which is more accurately the red imported fire ant that came through Mobile sometime between 1933 and 1945. Apparently, it’s the worst of the bunch.

    3. Michael McK

      They avoid the spores but B. bassania is a form of cordyceps. Get Fungi Perfecti Cordyceps pills (for human health) and mix the powder in the pill (freeze dried mycellium) with something the ants like. They will bring into hive and it will spread. Stamets claims it is only 97% effective (IIRC) against against Fire Ants but that is better than nothing.

      1. Michael McK

        I have used it successfully along with orange oil against Carpenter Ants. Once in a wall where a whole new nest had started (I also had to replace a few feet of 2×4) and once (different place) in a roof where it kept them in check but it was not the main nest (rather one where males and virgin queens developed) so eventually I put in a roof vent to increase ventilation of the area and deprive them of condensing moisture. I do not want to kill the main nest which is someplace outside since they are an important part of the local ecology.

    4. thousand points of green

      I have read that the giant anteater of South America really likes to eat fire ants/larvae/eggs/etc. If that is so, perhaps we should introduce the giant anteater into Texas to control the fire ants there.

      1. JBird4049

        Nice idea, but do we really want another invasive species?

        Two reasons for the fire ants success is that all the indiscriminate poisoning also kills all the native species of ants that at least slow them down and that there are no predators of them. They have been trying to get predators that will kill the fire ants and nothing else for decades. Last I read, several species of phorid flies that seem to kill only fire ants and are able to survive in the South.

  2. griffen

    High school tours on Tik Tok. First, of course why wouldn’t you do such a thing. Look at this gleaming new edifice, courtesy of high property values and high property taxes. You could also drop this anecdote into a densely populated school district in Collin County, Texas and gather similar feedback. Allen, Texas built a brand new football stadium for their 5A state champions (well the stadium was funded by a municipal bond I seem to recall).

    Second, of course there is glaring disparity in those areas with abundance and them that ain’t got such abundance. Seems to me like a county school system might be capable (and perhaps uninterested ) to monitor such things ? Yes that is a very green thing to be asking. Giving teenage kids a gleaming new thing like a new Porsche just never goes well. Or in today’s world a gleaming new Mercedes electric.

    1. Carolinian

      I’ve mentioned here our new billion dollar high school with its stadium, theater etc. While it seems more than a little over the top to me (the old high school I went to wasn’t that bad), one should point out that this school district is half white and half black and the high school attendance presumable the same or even favoring the AA proportion since some whites do indeed opt for private schools.

      In the linked story they say that the high school of the complaining mother is still majority white with only 17 percent African American. And yet this is framed as being all about race rather than what it really is which is all about money and wealth. So, yes, the black portion of the population is disproportionately poor but then so are many whites and in the country as a whole there are a lot more whites. I don’t think MLK ever intended for civil rights to become a big diversion to enable poor people to divide and conquer each other. In fact when he started to emphasize the economic and anitwar argument he got shot.

        1. JBird4049

          Fred Hampton also was assassinated because he advocated cooperation. The police back when got extra agitated whenever mixed groups, especially of the poor, would get together. Often it was not violence, just constantly being stopped, hassled, questioned, and arrested because reasons all the time. I assume it is still going on.

    2. Duke of Prunes

      If one is to believe internet comments from a month or so ago when this story first made the rounds, this school spends less per student than some really poor inner city schools. The given rational is that poor schools also have many poor kids who require special attention, subsidized meals, etc. and this consumes all the money so they can’t afford nice things. Sounds reasonable, but I also see huge waste/corruption stories every few months about the Chicago public schools so maybe there’s some graft involved somewhere as well. I didn’t do my own research so I’d love to hear from someone more knowledgeable to confirm or dispute this.

    1. Karl

      Here’s a key quote from the abstract:

      Although there is insufficient evidence to define upstream events, and exact circumstances remain obscure, our analyses indicate that the emergence of SARS-CoV-2 occurred through the live wildlife trade.

      But an upstream event at the Wuhan lab remains a possibility (?). Have any wild progenitor samples been found to justify this conclusion? Another quote:

      We also lack direct evidence of an intermediate animal infected with a SARS-CoV-2 progenitor virus either at the Huanan market or at a location connected to its supply chain, such as a farm.

      So they couldn’t find infected animals upstream of the market, at least on farms. But wild animals–what about them? The conclusion that the cross-over “occurred through the wildlife trade” is not conclusive as to how the virus got there in an infectious form, only that cross-over likely started there.

      This June 2022 study looked for progenitor wild animal vectors but didn’t find any…. Key quote:

      ….these newly discovered betacoronaviruses [in wild animals] seem unlikely to bind angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 because of the deletions in the two key regions of their receptor-binding motifs. Finally, we did not find SARS-CoV-2 or its progenitor virus in these animal samples.

      So, it’s all still a big mystery three years later.

  3. mrsyk

    I see the “lab leak” theory is back, my guess is to stir up anti-China sentiment. I’m waiting for the re-emergence of the term “Kung-Flu”, only now used by the war hawks from both sides of the aisle. It’s on my bingo card.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      I think it’s not for domestic consumption but an attempt to paint “Chiina” (apparently the preferred msdnc pronunciation) as evil for world audiences. It’s just that the US is run by lying morons who haven’t figured out people don’t believe them anymore. The US is running into two obstacles on the world stage: one, it’s the US, and two we don’t offer anything anymore just threats.

      In light of reports about African countries noting the US wouldn’t lift vaccine patents, we are now getting stories of Wuhan Flu and Chiina being sneaky. When Bakhmut falls, cable news will probably be awash with charts of how to tell good Asians from sneaky Asians.

      I saw a bit of MSDNC a few minutes ago. Scarborough was ranting about chiina since December 2019. He kept repeating that date. And he worked in Trump.

      1. Lex

        If I remember correctly though, the most likely lab that it would have leaked from is deeply connected to US grant funding and Eco Health Alliance, which has an interesting story in the context of US grant distribution.

        I’m sure the schtick will work with the average American media consumer, but it might be a tougher play outside the US where it will be countered with questions about the network of biological laboratories funded by the DoD and DoS the US has and continues to run. In a game of trust with the RoW, the US is in a pretty bad position.

        1. Louis Fyne

          ^^that^^ that is the interesting allegation that no one in the media is pursuing.

          1. If the “powers that be” wanted to foment anti-China fervor, equating Wuhan with Covid is obvious—-unless: (a) it is categorically false or (b) allegations about US using ECO-Health Alliance as an intelligence “honey trap” to gather information about foreign research is somehow true and such revelations would be more harmful to the applicable US agencies than any benefit from a China “red scare” , or a mix of the two.

          The allegation (by an ECO-Health ex-executive) is that the US funded foreign viral labs via ECO-Health to gather intelligence re. the skills of non-US researchers.

        2. digi_owl

          It is tempting to entertain the idea that COVID was a deliberate US leak in the hopes of crippling China (Perhaps in preparation for going after Russia). Only for it to backfire because Chinese migrant workers carried it to Italy and from there it spread across Europe etc.

      2. TimH

        It’s just that the US is run by lying morons who haven’t figured out people don’t believe them anymore.

        At least 21% of US adults believe, because they are functionally illiterate and ONLY get their news from TV.


        Four in five U.S. adults (79 percent) have English literacy skills sufficient to complete tasks that require comparing and contrasting information, paraphrasing, or making low-level inferences—literacy skills at level 2 or above in PIAAC (OECD 2013). In contrast, one in five U.S. adults (21 percent) has difficulty completing these tasks (figure 1). This translates into 43.0 million U.S. adults who possess low literacy skills

        1. digi_owl

          Then again with how everything written these days being page upon page of purple prose, reading is a real struggle even for the best of us. Even the simplest article about a new find in medicine turns into a coverage about the principle researcher, their family history, and the lunch of the reporter.

    2. DJG, Reality Czar

      mrsyk: Thanks. I saw this article or its permutation twice this morning. Low confidence is low confidence is low confidence.

      Why publish such crap? Well, to build the case that one must fight the Evil Chinee, the Yellow Peril, and it seems that the U.S. government is preparing to do so.

      What could possibly go wrong?

      1. Louis Fyne

        the work product of US intelligence agencies has never been politicized. /sarc.

        The public has zero idea if “low confidence” means literally low confidence or if a “Low Confidence” label was put on the work product by upper management.

        the public don’t know the truth. the public has no data to discern the truth as the US, WHO, PRC all dragged their feet re. an independent, public investigation.

        All I know is: the US intel establishment lied about the “bomber gap,” lied about Vietnam, lied about Iraq 2002, lied about Afghanistan, lied about Libya, lied about Syria, lied about Ukraine.

        Odds are that the US is lying about Covid—-though in which direction?

    3. midtownwageslave

      My thinking is that this is some sort of narrative shift, similar to the sudden UFO/ balloon hysteria.

      What is the lab leak coverage bumping off the front pages? Is this cover for the “Ukraine is now a lost cause” shift, or the fallout from the Ohio Train Bomb, or massive labor actions across Europe, or corporate price gouging, or the current climate disaster? The list goes on….

      1. Gravity Falls

        I apologize- has the lab leak been disproven compared to the original wet market theory? Call me silly, but I have a suspicion when an extremely continously virus is discovered somewhat close to a place called “Wuhan institution of virology”?

        1. Expat2uruguay

          I’m guessing that “extremely contagious virus” was spoken into the speech to text translator…

        2. mrsyk

          Don’t be sorry. It’s still a good question to ask but not relevant to the point I was trying to make, which is narrative building. And Wuk, well, (blushes) I’ve been a fanboy forever. Please keep coining.

        3. JP

          Of course the virus came from the lab. So what. It’s not like the plot in Twelve Monkeys where they had to recover a sample of the original strain in order to find a cure. The horse is out of the barn and considering the nature of the horse, it is pretty much a waste of time finding someone to blame. Any time a specific strain of life gets too big and dense something evolves to take it down. This is like worrying about where the meteor that took out the dinosaurs came from.

          Humans have become a densely packed mono-crop by nature of their ability to travel to anywhere on the globe in less then 24 hours. We are just begging for something to take us out be it nuclear war, disease or AI via the internet.

          1. midtownwageslave

            “Never let a non-falsifiable hypothesis get in the way of deploying the blame cannons”

            – some PMC goon, probably

      2. Boomheist

        Good point. We haven’t heard much recently about all those labs found in Ukraine and what they were doing, despite knowing the Russians have a lot of evidence from them. Personally I find it quite interesting that we have managed to label the Most Likely Cause for the virus – escaping from a lab in Wuhan funded by the US to do viral research – as the knee-jerk hysterical anti-woke conspirital ridiculous theory too ridiculous to even bear mentioning.

        This article may hence herald a flood of data coming from the Russians and Chine entirely confirming the worst imaginings of what we have been doing in labs around the world, in China and in Ukraine (and elsewhere). The MSM refuses to cover any of this of course. But, I can imagine Russia and China working together to provide real evidence that yes, the virus rose in China, but it rose from US funded and backed experiments in Wuhan….

      3. Maximiliana

        “Yesterday’s right wing conspracy theory–today’s shocking revelations”

        Overthrow the Biden/Harris/Globalist Regime starting today for the survival of the human race.

        Don’t file income taxes, probably the best non-violent manner to do so.

    4. fresno dan

      I am sooooo old, I remember back, decades…well, years….actually, months, when it was the worst possible ignorant racism, started by Trump, to believe a Chinese lab accident was responsible for covid….

      And scientists said there was NO evidence that it started in a lab.

      The real problem I am having is that as a science based US citizen, I was supposed to not believe anything Trump said. So I dutifully believed covid DID NOT start in a Chinese lab… NOW the Biden administration is saying….covid started in a Chinese lab. This is really making my schizophrenia look like prescient…
      The problem is that I have greater doubts about the honesty of the US government than I do about the Chinese government…As well as doubts of who is more truthful – Biden or Trump???

      1. mrsyk

        Thanks Fresno Dan. I seem to remember you all the way back from ’08 or so. The fog’s pretty thick here in narrative land. One thing seems clear. Whatever scenario reaps the largest profits will be the Truth.

        1. fresno dan

          15 years I guess. I am so grateful to NC and the denizens who contributes and help me see what is really happening….

      2. Grumpy Engineer

        This whole “origins of COVID” debate is a little surreal. Exactly what resources does the US Department of Energy have to determine where COVID originated? It’s not like they have intelligence assets in China who could search for the answer (like the CIA probably has) or geneticists who might examine the genome for man-made artifacts (like the FDA and CDC have). “Low confidence” indeed.

        The sad reality is that we’ll probably never know. The only people who are truly in a position to to answer the question are Chinese authorities in Wuhan, and I would not expect them to ever admit it if the lab accident theory was actually true.

        1. fresno dan

          I think you are exactly right. It is one of those things where there is so much strum und drang just to get people riled up for ratings….
          And if one could find out with certainty, what would actually change here anyway?
          And its not like there are not lab accidents here.
          And this from Turley just shows the paucity of principles and how few people will ever own up to being mistaken…

          1. Grumpy Engineer

            And if one could find out with certainty, what would actually change here anyway?

            Aye. That’s an excellent question. And I suspect the answer is “nothing at all”, which make the pointlessness of the agitation even more obvious than before.

  4. Sibiryak

    Ukraine endgame— growing pessimism in the West:

    Are we prepared for ‘eternal war’ in Ukraine? –UnHerd

    Over the past few weeks I have spoken to officials at the most senior levels of the British government…

    […]For many in London, Berlin and Paris, today, Ukraine’s best-case scenario is to stabilise the front sufficiently to allow it to emerge as a viable, independent state, able to defend itself — to be able to breathe and live as a relatively normal country, to trade and grow, export and settle.

    The unstated goal, in other words, is to grasp towards a temporary settlement which eventually becomes a permanent reality even if no one ever officially recognises it as such. Conflicts have ended this way before: Kashmir, which has been “temporarily” settled since the Forties, and Korea which remains divided and at war while still being at peace.

    The question Western diplomats are now asking themselves is what this “minimal breathable scenario ” now looks like for Ukraine? I’m told it consists of three basic factors: first, giving Ukraine the capability to be able to stop Russia’s constant aerial bombardment beyond a future ceasefire; second, to ensure Ukraine’s free access to the Black Sea, and third, to secure a stable front . “This is the minimum Ukraine needs before it can even consider talking,” one official put it to me.

    1. jsn

      Right, I remember, it was Russia that spent 2014 to 2022 shelling the Donbas and recruiting Banderites in violation of a cease fire.

      I always get confused about that.

      1. ambrit

        Don’t worry your little consumer head about it. The New and Improved Ministry of Truth (LLC) will handle those vexing problems for you.

        1. Retired Carpenter

          Here is a good poem about the “The Old Ministry of Truth

          The Unknown Citizen
          W. H. Auden

          (To JS/07 M 378
          This Marble Monument
          Is Erected by the State)

          He was found by the Bureau of Statistics to be
          One against whom there was no official complaint,
          And all the reports on his conduct agree
          That, in the modern sense of an old-fashioned word, he was a saint,
          For in everything he did he served the Greater Community.
          Except for the War till the day he retired
          He worked in a factory and never got fired,
          But satisfied his employers, Fudge Motors Inc.
          Yet he wasn’t a scab or odd in his views,
          For his Union reports that he paid his dues,
          (Our report on his Union shows it was sound)
          And our Social Psychology workers found
          That he was popular with his mates and liked a drink.
          The Press are convinced that he bought a paper every day
          And that his reactions to advertisements were normal in every way.
          Policies taken out in his name prove that he was fully insured,
          And his Health-card shows he was once in hospital but left it cured.
          Both Producers Research and High-Grade Living declare
          He was fully sensible to the advantages of the Instalment Plan
          And had everything necessary to the Modern Man,
          A phonograph, a radio, a car and a frigidaire.
          Our researchers into Public Opinion are content
          That he held the proper opinions for the time of year;
          When there was peace, he was for peace: when there was war, he went.
          He was married and added five children to the population,
          Which our Eugenist says was the right number for a parent of his generation.
          And our teachers report that he never interfered with their education.
          Was he free? Was he happy? The question is absurd:
          Had anything been wrong, we should certainly have heard.

          Seems very similar to the “The New and Improved Ministry of Truth
          Retired Carpenter
          P.S: I have bought iodine pills and 7.62×51 for the aftermath of the nuclear exchange per your (much earlier) suggestion.

    2. DJG, Reality Czar

      Sibiryak: That piece in UnHerd is thin gruel indeed. McTague seems to be crestfallen over the strategic incompetence and tactical cluelessness of the West–so much of it is written in the Anglo-American style of more in sorrow than in anger…

      And there is this: “Few think the Russians will ever give up Donetsk, Luhansk or Crimea and most now see a long, drawn-out war with no obvious way out. “There’s no real sense that Russia can be defeated,” one analyst in Berlin told me.”

      Who’da thunkit?

      The USA and UK went to war with no understanding of the stakes. There is no strategy. Is the strategy to dismantle the Russian Federation? It seems more venal: The strategy is to force Europe to buy liquified natural gas. The tactics are sanctions and shunning–what Anglo-American cliques do best, not that they have the intended effects.

      And offering Kashmir (currently going through travails) and Korea (in better shape, but precarious) as the best results. What idiots. Why not the continuing disaster of Cyprus or Somalia as the New Purified Ukraine?

      1. The Rev Kev

        There might be a simpler explanation for the reaction of the Collective West going on. A year ago they were in Munich and all excited as they knew that Russia would be forced to defend the Donbass. So all those sanctions – maybe a year in the planning – were all planned for and ready to go. Russia would launch their attack, the Sanctions from Hell regime would drop down on Russia like a ton of bricks, the Russian GDP would drop at least 20%, there would be riots and Putin would be deposed within the space of a very few months. Maybe they planned for a President Navalny who would help break up the Russian Federation – but none of that happened.

        The Russian economy, after stumbling, came right back. So all those plans and schemes were sent into chaos and the west has been scrambling for new sanctions, game-changing weapons and anything else they can think of but none of it is working. And now it is the Collective West that is under the gun as the Global South took one look at all the insanity and walked away and are now looking at a new world order. So it is not so much that they have no strategy but they bet the house on a throw of the dice but it turned up snake-eyes.

        1. Skip Intro

          To be fair, the war plans were intended for 2017, and would have had much bigger economic impact then.

          1. Pat

            Yes, that is probably true. but personally the fact that they clearly had not thought that they should consider how Russia had changed in those years, or what other factors had makes me wonder how good their plans were to begin with. Because along with Russia having more time, there was also more time for Ukraine to prepare. China and India wouldn’t have been distracted by Covid, and yes the US would have been in both Afghanistan and Iraq.

            This team has never had a winning strategy, and I mean that both militarily AND politically. There was every chance that it would have flopped. And quite honestly as bad as Biden has been, I’m not sure HRC wouldn’t have even worse in a clearly losing situation.

        2. Boomheist

          Small point but I actually think the West imposed the Sanctions on Feb 22 and then Russia moved into Ukraine on Feb 24. So one could argue that it was the West’s imposition of critical sanctions that tipped the balance on the SMO.

          1. Expat2uruguay

            I think the reason that the sanctions came before the invasion is that the sanctions were a reaction to Russia recognizing parts of the Donbas as Independence States. I seem to remember that that diplomatic activity was the first thing, then the documented request from the newly Independence states for protection from russia, and then the Russian invasion. And all of that happened very quickly in a matter of a couple days.
            And that is how the sanctions came before The invasion. It really showed that the US and NATO were provoking the Russians to get the invasion that they wanted in order to impose sanctions and conduct a color revolution in Russia, as Rev Kev has said

      2. Carolinian

        Perhaps “who’da thunkit?” can replace e pluribus unum as the national motto. Vietnam was similar in that few thought tiny North Vietnam could take on the United States.

        And who’da thunk that after such a giant disaster our elites would toss caution to the side and do the same thing over again if on a smaller scale (so far). Perhaps, in that many of them like Biden didn’t serve in Vietnam, they did take the lesson that only the little people–thousands of names on a wall in Washington–pay the consequences while the rich get richer.

      3. digi_owl

        Nuland et al was convinced that Russia would go color revolution at the slightest provocation. It basically didn’t materialize. And now they are stuck in a quagmire of their own making, with no exit strategy that will not forever see them driven out of DC in tar and feathers.

    3. timbers

      “ensure Ukraine’s free access to the Black Sea…” Too soon to tell if Russia can take Odessa. The slow pace of Russian advance says maybe not but on the other hand Ukraine could at some point collapse giving Russia a freer hand. Fully expect a US Naval base on Ukraine coast if Obessa isn’t taken. And if Ukraine & US were sane, they would pull back troops behind the Dnipier and prioritize Odessa and other areas.

      1. The Rev Kev

        The UK was already helping the Ukraine build two missile boat bases on the coastline before the war in order to hit the Russian Naval base in Sevastopol.

      2. Paradan

        There’s no reason why they cant just build a base on Romania’s coast. Odessa is important as a commercial port for whatever industry BlackRock sets up in post-war Ukraine. Also it could serve as a heroin import point to Europe: South Asia to Georgia to Odessa, etc.

        1. Lex

          Romania is a possibility but I don’t believe that there’s a good natural port there that can be easily expanded to handle the size of ships a naval base would need, particularly in addition to any current commercial port infrastructure. If that was a viable option I assume that the US/NATO would have already pursued it. I don’t know enough about the technical details to speak confidently one way or the other though.

          1. Polar Socialist

            Port of Constanța in Romania is the biggest port in the Black Sea: 146 berths and 27 piers.

            It’s quite plausible that NATO is not so much interested in having strong presence on the Black Sea as it is interested in preventing Russian presence in the Mediterranean Sea.

            1. Stephen

              A constant theme of British foreign policy since the 1820s. The Foreign Office is definitely consistent. Even if deranged.

        2. John

          I like the Rev Kev’s bet the house on one throw of the dice. When you crap out, you crap out. The Russians thought a quick strike would give them what they sought. It did not work as they wished. The West stepped in with the weapons need to keep Ukraine going. That was supposed to work. It did not. The Russians were running out of ammunition. The plebiscites the the four oblasts were faked. Those did not play. How far does it go? Are Biden and the neo-crazies around him willing to bet the human race rather than lose face? They act like bust-out gamblers, but they are asking all of us to cover their IOUs.

          1. The Rev Kev

            In a recent comment, UK Prime Minister was talking of “doubling down” which is actually a gambling term.

        3. Kouros

          Maybe because of the Montreaux Convention which puts limits on who’s military ships and what size and total tonnage can get in the Black Sea…? All under Turkish control…

      3. Kouros

        US bases on Ukraine soil? How would that be possible? Why would Russians ever allow something like that?

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          I’m certain Biden was planning a Bill Clinton esque expansion of NATO so Republicans would be nice to him with hidden promises of deescalation ignoring Khruschev was deposed despite giving the Kennedy boys swirlies.

  5. Stephen

    NATO cringe tweet: “We are Harry Potter and William Wallace,…”

    The real William Wallace was hanged, drawn and quartered on the orders of Edward I. He was alleged to have committed atrocities (I write as someone with mixed blood from all countries that constitute the British Isles….) although I suspect all parties did that.

    Who writes this stuff?

    Or, is it a cryptic way of some mid level bureaucrat showing his / her rebellious appreciation of reality?

    Or perhaps the person has no idea that William Wallace was a real person?

    NATO’s tweets seem reflective of the deep thought behind the west’s overall strategy.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      South Park had its “member berries” about people taking refuge in the familiar and nostalgia, making fun of remakes and probably fans of the show who whine about the show changing. With this tweet, you see member berries in officialdom. They are going for safe bits they know from memes.

      Zelensky went through are spell where he would randomly quote Americans and Churchill and then be praised for quoting them. US elites are really such a decayed outfit they eat this drivel up. “Oh, I remember “don’t ask what…(just the particular two line couplet, nothing more). That was JFK. He was gud.” Or “Churchill, I’ve heard of that guy.”

      1. Pat

        There is a pseudo Brit quiz show called QI whose reruns I enjoy watching. During a segment on suffrage, they used a unflattering Churchill quote They also noted in an understated British way that despite his admirable period during WW2, he was a majorly hide bound empire promoting bigot. I cannot imagine that happening in America.

        It isn’t just that we get our historical knowledge from media, mostly movies, not much of our media even remotely challenges the memes that have been created.

        1. digi_owl

          The basic thing about WW2, was that he was given the SAS to play with rather than interfere with what the generals were up to. Thus there was no insane moves like Gallipoli this time round.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            I read a relatively recent bio on Lawrence. Lawrence and his pals learned a few months after Gallipoli that the plan they wanted to run would have knocked the Turks out early.

          2. Roland

            Churchill learned something from the Dardanelles debacle. As supreme warlord in WWII, having become wary of his own enthusiasms, he made sure to surround himself with sceptics such as the ever-cautious Dill, the all-disdainful Brooke, or the inscrutable Portal. The service in which he often did meddle was the Admiralty, in whose affairs he regarded himself as an expert (as indeed he was).

            Churchill also matured as a politician. He headed a stable coalition cabinet, with Labour in key positions.

            Everybody thinks first of the Battle of Britain, but Churchill was also a guy who could sit down with Stalin, and settle their Balkan differences in less than an hour (the “Percentages Agreement” — literally made on a scrap of paper!)

            If Winston Churchill were involved in this Ukraine Crisis of ours, I’m certain there would be no war. Churchill had the courage to fight, but also the courage to compromise. He had become a statesman confident enough in his own strength that he had no fear of looking weak (which is the most dangerous kind of cowardice.)

      2. Stephen

        Yes, and various British PR guys funded by NATO and working with (or managing) Zelensky wrote all of those quotes, of course.

    2. Lex

      They’re not writing from a knowledge of actual history. The rest are movies and that inclusion is probably more because the NATO social media intern has seen Braveheart.

    3. hunkerdown

      “I’m a brand manager for several triple-A fiction franchises and I need the world to recognize my efforts as meaningful and important”

      Avatar, Star Wars, Hogwarts? It shapes up more like The Producers to me.

  6. disc_writes

    About Schlein’s nomination: I notice that “Putinversteher” pundits abroad try to see in Italy the first domino that will fall in the NATO alliance, helping to usher in the new multipolar world. Italians never honor alliances for long anyway.

    I doubt that that is even remotely possible: Italy is not really a sovereign country anymore and will just do whatever it is told. Internal politics are just circenses to distract the masses. The Democratic Party is on the verge of disappearing anyway, and not even its voters trust it to do or mean anything, anymore.

    Did you see how not even Germany was unable to defend its national interest in the war? Consider then that Italy is smaller, poorer, weaker, older, more fractitious, has a smaller army. What odds does it have?

    Remember the blowback after Italy tried to sign a memorandum of understanding with China? It is worse now with Russia.

    This is not going to change. Italian consumers will have to swallow the price increases. Italian companies will delocalize. Young Italians will emigrate. The Italian state will go begging cap in hand.

    The Italian Left will keep on doing what it has done over the past 30 years: absolutely nothing.

    1. digi_owl

      Italy has probably not been sovereign since WW2. As i read the claim that its post war political structure was specifically designed, by USA, to keep the Italian communist party out of power.

  7. rob

    for the huffington post and yahoo news to be running stories about the lab leak that begat the covid 2 experience we have all been having these last couple of years, there must be some shift underway.

    Jeffrey sachs, had an interview with the grayzone back in oct.of 2022… which sheds much more light on the bad behavior surrounding fauci et. al… which without real evidence of “how it happened”… gives enough insight into “people covering their collective asses”… to let us know the story is likely true. He , like others is calling for an investigation where the actual log books and papers need to be seen to discover just What did happen. The big takeaway, really. is “what ELSE is going on?”
    these biowarfare /biological laboratories from the dick cheney days, that get the US bio weapons dollars from the defense dept… IS what the eco-health alliance, and others are actually doing.
    What would be the liability if the whole world sued the us defense dept for their covid losses/costs?

  8. griffen

    Dish network systems are having a sad go of it. Eh, it happens. Surprising to read that this outage is so widespread that simple communications on corporate email accounts aren’t functional. That doesn’t seem like a temporary outage but something a little more onerous.

    Someone forgot to “turn the machines back on”…ala Trading Places (!) \sarc

    1. Arizona Slim

      I used to have mobile phone service through Republic Wireless. Great WiFi-based phone service for 20 bucks a month.

      And then the company was purchased by Dish Network, and let’s say that the service went south. The final straw was last June, when I called 911 to report a fire near the Arizona Slim Ranch. In order to make this call, I had to be temporarily disconnected from the Republic/Dish Network.

      In past instances, I’d be reconnected, and all was well. Not this time. And the tech support’s solutions were of the “Stand on one foot, pull your left earlobe, and do this with your phone settings…” variety.

      So, I got on my trusty bicycle and stomped over to the nearest T-Mobile store.

      I gotta say that, even though my monthly bill is three times more than it was with Republic, my phone just [family blogging] works. Like a phone is supposed to.

      And that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

        1. GC54

          Yeah, Slim look into Tello. I get 2 GB of 5G data, 300 mins and unlimited texts for $12/mo+tax. It uses the T-mobile network. Bring your own unlocked phone. Works well in Tucson.

      1. ambrit

        We’ve been considering a switch to Fauci Fone. They use ever reliable Carrier Pangolins. The originally intended Carrier Bats seemed to drop dead without warning. So, Pangolins it is. We just love their Corporate Motto: “Get Wet With The Market.” The company specifically promises; “No mysterious spikes in your bill.” What could go wrong?

      2. playon

        Don’t know if it’s available in your area but we’ve had great luck with PagePlus Cellular, which uses the Verizon network and is dirt cheap at $29 a month. If you don’t use much data you can get a plan for half of that. We’ve been using them for almost 10 years now.

    2. skk

      As a unlimited text, calls and 1 GB/month data, Boost Mobile at $100 year ( 8.33/month) has been just fine for me. The rest ?- quite crap, for example:
      1. their boost mobile app, seemed to have 2 versions then 1 of them serves up ads and more ads and claims to give you credits for clicking ! I just want to check my data use guys !
      2. As the yearly renewal date of 2/24/2023 came up, there were no emails reminding me of renewal, or what the cost would be or anything like that.
      3. I’ve tried to log in since the 24th to see if they’ve taken my money, but I can’t log in to check my account.

      But, the service keeps on running.

  9. Colonel Smithers

    Thank you, Lambert.

    Further to the Ukraine links, yesterday evening, the (French) TF1 news featured a young woman sniper, Evgenia Emerald, dubbed Ukraine’s Joan of Arc. She grew up with guns, serves on the front line and recently married a soldier. Footage of her childhood with firearms and the white wedding, including poses with rifles, some suggestive, was shown.

    The wolfsangel badge on her left shoulder went unremarked, not the first time that this symbol and the black sun have been modelled by attractive women fighters. The focus instead was on her knapsack. No field marshal’s baton, but sanitary towels, a razor and blades.

    The reporter cooed when the soldier revealed she’s pregnant and is designing uniforms for mothers.

    This is the second time that an episode from French history has been recycled for Ukrainian propaganda. Last year, Bucha was dubbed “la ville martyre” and compared to Oradour sur Glane.

    Jamais deux sans trois. One wonders what the French media will come up with. How about an adaptation of the October 1961 massacre of Algerian nationalists by the Pont St Michel in Paris, including throwing people into the river, or introduction of the Code Noir in the newly Russian territories, this time with the former Ukrainians playing the part of slaves?

    One wonders what NC’s French based stalwarts make of all that.

      1. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you, Rev.

        I was aware of Philippot’s recent comments.

        One of de Gaulle’s grandsons has also spoken out. He was at some commemorations in Russia recently.

    1. BD

      Check out the 1944 movie, The Doughgirls. Eve Arden plays a Russian sniper celebrated in the USA for ridding the world of Nazis. Crazy movie and another memorable performance by Eve Arden.

      1. Roland

        I enjoy Arden’s role in the late 1940’s radio sitcom Our Miss Brooks, which is available on the Internet Archive. The show’s subject matter is sometimes dated, but Eve Arden’s wit and comedic timing are ageless (as are Gale Gordon’s, who plays her boss.)

    2. David

      Yes, well, since you ask. For a start, Joan of Arc has been associated with the extreme Right in France for a long time (she was a favourite symbol of Vichy France) and in recent years she’s been associated very much with Le Pen and the RN. Obviously though she’s OK now. I wonder who decided.

      And the wolsangel … just happens to be the unit emblem of the 2nd SS Panzer Division Das Reich, famous among other things for a terrible series of atrocities in France in 1944, notably the massacre of some 600 people at Oradour on 10 June 1944.

      It’s a good thing French schools don’t teach history any more, or some people might be offended.

    3. hk

      I suspect that a paean to the heroic but doomed last defenders of Berlin in 1945 (nb: a battalion of French Nazis belonging to the SS Charlemagne Division, btw) might be in order. They even have the same insignia as the current “heroes.”

  10. fresno dan
    The key to Vietnamese restaurant Pho 87’s signature soup — 16 to 20 hours of simmering on the stove — proved catastrophic this month. When owner Tre Dinh opened his gas bill for January, it was more than $8,000.

    In December the Chinatown restaurant’s gas bill was roughly $800 for November usage, according to Dinh. The bill he received in January leapt to around $2,000, but even knowing another price increase was coming didn’t prepare the restaurant owner for the bill he received in February. He’s one of countless restaurateurs who received a sky-high January gas bill, credited largely to the wholesale cost of natural gas hitting record highs.
    A small price to pay to ship our natural gas to Ukraine to prevent the evil, evil Ruskies just knocking over all those dominoes. /sarc

    1. Wukchumni

      There’s my favorite Vietnamese restaurant in Visalia named ‘Pho King’, sure hope it survives the gas crunch and doesn’t get screwed.

      1. playon

        Heh we have one of those Phoking restaurants in Seattle too. Don’t know if it’s a chain or perhaps they just like the joke.

    2. griffen

      Those increases are remarkable, but surely that increase for the gas bill is only a “transitory” cost of operating a restaurant. Noted, those stories featured family owned businesses unless I missed something ( which I really could easily miss in between coffee cups ). Serves as a reminder of why I would not run or own a restaurant.

      Added, these restaurant owners clearly are missing the memo of how “great and wonderful” the US economy is. It’s pretty clear inflation hits more acutely in varied circumstances like these examples.

  11. Jon Cloke

    COVIDO – The truth is leaking out, drop by drop…

    “US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan on Sunday said that there is no “definitive answer” to the question of whether the virus that caused the COVID-19 pandemic spread from a laboratory.”

    Our answer to COVIDO remains the same – Peter Daszak and Shi Zhengli, in the Wuhan Institute of Virology, with the unauthorised gain-of-function research.

    1. Realist

      What if one of the contestants (who happened to work in virology at Fort Detrick, one of the world’s most advanced chemical weapons labs ) brought it to the military games in Wuhan and then deliberately released it near the Chinese lab for plausible deniability?

      1. John

        The origin of the virus is hopelessly muddled. What is the purpose of the search? Will knowing where it came from have any effect on it propagation or led to better treatment or, (vain hope) lead to its eradication. I am about evenly split among mischance, stupidity, and malice, but I cannot for the life of me see who benefited from a malicious release. Perhaps accident and malicious stupidity should be the neck in neck contenders.

        1. Realist

          Maybe they thought it would damage China more than themselves, especially if they could blame China for all the damage. After all, they had been practicing what do in case of a pandemic in multiple drills and simulations, and many connected cronies got insanely rich from the government response.

          Wouldn’t be the first time they hit Asia with bioterror either.

            1. Realist

              You say that like facts matter, where propaganda is concerned.

              Just look at the bizarro world coverage of Ukraine. Facts don’t matter.

        2. ambrit

          For hard core CT aficionados, a “malicious release” would be in line with a globalist sponsored world population culling, a la The Club of Rome.
          The purpose of “the search for origins” is to stop it from happening again. Gain of function research is ongoing at various and sundry labs around the world. This apocalyptic enterprise is presently not adequately overseen, much less limited.
          Make no mistake about it, biological weapons have a potential equal to that of nuclear weapons for the eradication of Terran human life.
          There was a sort of cheesy science fiction movie back in the day where an underground biological weapons lab in the desert was the setting for the film. Some past their prime Hollywood actors got to “save the world,” from themselves. Note the diference between the Hollywood biolab, high security underground in a very isolated spot, and the “real” world biolab, sloppy security in the heart of a large city. If I weren’t such a cynic in my old age, I could almost imagine that the Wuhan Institute was designed to fail.
          Stay safe! The next Plague is waiting in the wings. Speaking of Plagues, I can see the modern Horseman of the Apocalypse who represents Plague riding a robot dog.

          1. Cat Burglar

            The malicious release case has been made by Ron Unz, at his website. It is above my pay grade to determine if the morphology of the viral DNA shows that it was lab-constructed, but if it were, distinguishing a deliberate from an accidental release does not seem possible in the absence of other evidence.

        3. Cassandra

          If we are indulging in tinfoil, I would observe that Pfizer and Moderna benefited to the tune of many billions of dollars.

  12. Wukchumni

    Epic winter storm turns Southern California snow white; more rain and snow on the way LA Times

    It has been really interesting glimpsing formerly forbidden frozen stuff online in locales in the SoCalist Movement and as I make the sojourn back i’m going to do something i’d normally studiously avoid, in that I plan to drive through LA to see the flakes.

      1. ambrit

        Sorry Rev. It doesn’t work like that. To see the flakes in LA you have to make an appointment weeks in advance, or catch them in an elevator.

  13. Benny Profane

    Maybe if the Democrats want to improve their brand perception, they should stop using the term “brand”? That would be a good start.

    1. Milton

      Another headline from a “reputable source” that could have been mistaken for a Daily Mash or Onion article.

        1. mrsyk

          Not that I like it but I think “brand” is a most appropriate term here. Seems to me that politics is run on a corporate model. Miller or Bud? MacD’s or KFC? Same crap but sold to different crowds.

    2. semper loquitur

      I thought the same thing. It’s a dead giveaway: focus on “perceptions”, never substance. Meanwhile, Trump is buying East Palestine Big Macs…

  14. The Rev Kev

    “Zelensky fires a top Ukrainian military commander, no reason given”

    This commander was in the east. So maybe the reason is that this commander was demanding that Bakhmut be evacuated but that Zelensky is still sending in new reinforcements right now. The main roads to that town are about cut and any troops and their gear now have to move through fields that have now, due to the weather, have turned muddy. It must have been something major for Zelensky to sack him and that would be the biggest source of contention going on right now. Western media insists on comparing that place to Verdun but Stalingrad would be more apt.

  15. Prufrock

    It’s odd to see an article about Saint Louis policing that doesn’t talk about just how bad crime is there. By many measures it’s the worst in the US. I’m in San Francisco which seems to always be the punching bag on crime stories , but a group I work with that’s been in Saint Louis for more than 50 years is moving out next year because the crime is just too much.

  16. fresno dan

    Transcript: CIA director William Burns on “Face the Nation,” Feb. 26, 2023 CBS
    DIRECTOR BURNS: No, I mean, the conversation that I had with Sergei Naryshkin, the head of Russia’s external intelligence service, was pretty dispiriting. You know, my- my goal was not to talk about negotiations, that’s something that Ukrainians are going to need to take up with the Russians when they see fit. It was more than anything else, what the President asked me to do, which was to make clear to Naryshkin and through him to President Putin, the serious consequences should Russia ever choose to use a nuclear weapon of any kind as well. And I think Naryshkin understood the seriousness of that issue and I think President Putin has understood it as well. I think it’s also been very valuable that the Chinese leadership, that Prime Minister Modi in India have also made clear their opposition to any use of nuclear weapons.

    MARGARET BRENNAN: And you made clear to him that a nuclear weapon of any kind, a tactical nuke on the battlefield, would be treated by the United States with the utmost severity?
    Projection??? I don’t know which is worse, our CIA director, or our CIA directed press.
    I don’t know why I even try to know what reality is, it is so depressing…

    1. Zephyrum

      “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”

      — Karl Rove (attributed; quoted anonymously by Ron Suskind in the NYT 2004)

      I think Rove was merely articulating a cognitive framework that had already overtaken the agencies. If you don’t see things that way, you don’t get hired, promoted, or appointed.

    2. hamstak

      I would like to know what Maggie B would consider a tangible response that equates to “utmost severity”? More sanctions? Harsh language in the UN GA? Stoltenberg performing his robot dance in the skin?

      Or maybe she is itching for the nukes to fly because that would be really newsworthy…

      1. hk

        Especially since, I think, if Russia does use nukes, they’ll be used to annihilate North America. If things come to that point, everything will be pointless.

    3. Eclair

      I listened to John Mearsheimer’s recent lecture at U Missouri Kansas City yesterday morning. Depressing much?

      He discussed the situation vis a vis both Russia and China, why the US is hell bent on going to war with both countries (the US can’t tolerate loss of primacy as unipolar hegemon) and why the high probabilities of use of nuclear weapons in either Taiwan or Ukraine.

      One is left with the feeling that the people in charge are delusional, psychopathic megalomaniacs.

      1. Screwball

        One is left with the feeling that the people in charge are delusional, psychopathic megalomaniacs.

        At this point it seems obvious.

      2. digi_owl

        That, or they are semi-senile puppets of third gen immigrants trying to make their granpas proud by getting back at the nations that drove them into exile.

      3. Kouros

        I like how he plays the US bully on the scene, his voice and expression and tone and body posture… He really lets the nice mask come off and shows the truth to the world that one can feel it in the bones…

    4. Henry Moon Pie

      Whenever I’ve ever seen Brennan interview someone in the military or intelligence services, she always tries to out-hawk them. Then there’s Stephanopoulis demanding over and over again from Biden, “Is he a killer?” A lot of the people in our press are as sick as the MoFos in government or even the banks.

    5. Karl

      I would have liked a follow-up question along the lines of:

      MARGARET BRENNAN: Did you also assure Naryshkin that no-first-use of nuclear weapons was also President Biden’s commitment to Russia?

      MR. BURNS: Well, as you probably know, Margaret, our nuclear deterrence strategy review of last April allows for first use of nuclear weapons by the U.S. in extreme circumstances.

      MARGARET BRENNAN: Mr. Burns, can you reassure the American people that if Russia does not attack any NATO country, there are no “extreme circumstances” that would cause the U.S. or NATO to become a combatant against Russia in this war and be first to use nuclear weapons?

      MR. BURNS: Well, Margaret, no options are off the table for the President.

      MARGARET BRENNAN: So, you spoke of severe consequences if Russia used nuclear weapons, yet made no reciprocal commitment?

      MR. BURNS: He wouldn’t accept any such commitment from me. He knows the U.S. is not agreement capable.

      MARGARET BRENNAN: Did he lay out severe consequences to NATO and the U.S. if you did use nuclear weapons?

      MR. BURNS: He didn’t have to. We know.

      MARGARET BRENNAN: What do you know?

      MR. BURNS: I’m sorry, that’s classified.

  17. Lexx

    ‘Electric vehicle drivers get candid about charging. ‘Logistical nightmare’.

    I started watching ‘Long Way Up’ (2020) on Apple+TV yesterday; I turned it off last evening somewhere around Costa Rica and went to bed, just watching was exhausting. It’s the third and probably last in a series Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman did riding motorcycles across continents. The other two were ‘Long Way Round’ and ‘Long Way Down’.

    In ‘Long Way Up’ they’re riding two prototype electric Harley-Davidsons, starting at the very bottom of South America (in winter) and ending in LA, over three months. The crew that supports this trip are in two prototype Rivian trucks. Rivian promises to set up a series of charging stations for them to be completed before the trip begins… on camera, but of course that’s not what happens. A true ‘logistical nightmare’ was that journey.

    Much has changed in the last few years, except Americans complaining about being inconvenienced. The tension of whether those two men and the crew are going to be stuck out in middle of nowhere, out of power and cell phone range*, is continuous. Also, stuck in the midst of some of the most stunning landscapes on the planet, which is how I got hooked, armchair adventuring to places I’ll never see in person.

    Harley-Davidson must have kicked in major money to pay for the trip, for the marketing of their prototypes, because the bikes come off as real troopers. No one expects electric motorcycles, even Harleys, to hold up on that kind of terrain over 13,000 miles. The support from the company was extraordinary of course, flying down company experts on very short notice to work out technical problems. A huge number of people, seen and unseen, were intent on the goal of getting Ewan and Charley home to LA. We mere mortals can expect considerably less support from Rivian and Harley-Davidson, should we find ourselves stuck in Wyoming.

    We’ve just accepted that when we go electric vehicles (pretty soon now and probably hybrids first), we’ll be driving locally and charging at home. I was studying the performance of the Rivians trying to imagine one pulling our 35 ft. 5th-wheel across the western U.S.. Serious doubts and boondocking is right out for now.

    *They had a satellite phone with them.

    1. Lex

      Matt Farah, a well known automotive Youtuber recently took his Mustang Mach E on a road trip. By all accounts he loves the car, but he lives in LA and mostly it charges at home or his collector car storage facility business he owns. So he did a road trip to Arizona as a sort of long term review. He characterized the problem not as range anxiety but infrastructure anxiety because the places where you can charge are limited, the actual operation and speed of the charger you find is unpredictable, etc. etc.

      I thought that was a really interesting and good way to put the problem. Still, electric vehicles have a place (Farah loves his for living in LA) and there’s plenty of room for adoption. The problem for much wider adoption is really an infrastructure issue and falls into a chicken/egg routine. Tesla’s great move was to build its own network of charging stations. Failing that – and the last thing we need is every manufacturer having a proprietary charging network – this is an infrastructure build out matter. It’s a place where the US government needs to step in and organize and/or fund the necessary infrastructure development.

      1. cnchal

        > Tesla’s great move was to build its own network of charging stations.

        Yeah, and Elon doesn’t want other electric cars clogging up his battery chargers. Kinda like, if in the past GM built gas stations and Fords couldn’t fill up there. and vice versa.

        Regulation is called for. Standardized plugs and power ports for a start, robust and long lasting in the same location on all electric cars, just to make life easier for those that must have a giant TV for a dashboard. There are already far too many distractions inside modern cars and adding moar to the outside is too much for ‘appliance’ drivers.

        I am sticking to gas power until dead or it is outlawed. It is available everywhere, fill up in a few minutes and go as far as I like and pay with cash. No EV power stations accept that and I find that unacceptable.

      2. digi_owl

        Even the hail Mary of Tesla, Norway, is having all kinds of issues with charging infra. The latest was that every chain of charging stations require their own phone app for payment etc. This in sharp contrast to petrol stations that have accepted debit cards pretty much since they were introduced. So now there is political bruhaha to get the charging stations to accept debit cards as well.

      3. heresy101

        “…Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Deployment Plans for all 50 States, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico ahead of schedule under the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) Formula Program, established and funded by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. With this approval, all states now have access to all FY22 and FY23 NEVI formula funding, totaling more than $1.5 billion to help build EV chargers covering approximately 75,000 miles of highway across the country.”

        Tesla, for the first time, will open a portion of its U.S. Supercharger and Destination Charger network to non-Tesla EVs, making at least 7,500 chargers available for all EVs by the end of 2024. The open chargers will be distributed across the United States.
        Tesla has only committed to opening up 3,500 fast chargers, or around 20 percent of [its] overall fast charging fleet. The other 4,000 chargers could come from the automaker’s roughly 10,000 slower, Level 2 chargers.

      4. Duke of Prunes

        I’m finding a lot of broken charging stations… especially at Walgreens. They made a big splash a while back about installing charging stations at many of their very many locations around the Chicago area. Look how GREEN we are!!! I guess no one budgeted for maintenance or considered what stupid suburban teens (I assume) might do when bored – as many of the broken ones I run across appear to have been vandalized – although maybe it’s irate EV drivers suffering from range derangement – reaching the station on their last kW only to find it’s non operational.

    2. Carolinian

      Interesting. I’ve seen Long Way Round which itself often seems on the edge of disaster as they struggle acoss Eurasia.

      Of course one premise of Tesla and those giant battery packs was to show that electrics aren’t just for local. But the battery is just half the equation and governments perhaps are expected to provide the rest through abundant charging stations.

      1. Lexx

        At that time, in that place, and in winter, they expected to get about 100 miles on a full battery. Recharging in the cold at Level 2 took a little over six hours. They quickly learned the benefits of charging and riding when the bikes were warm. When warm and on asphalt, they might expect between 150 – 200 miles per charge, but for other reasons they were continuously ‘behind schedule’. They were often dependent on the kindness of whatever strangers would allow them to plug in. Without it the trip could not have been completed. I imagine the kindness of locals was a theme in all three series.

        Of course, a famous face and a cameraman helps open doors too.

      2. Tom Bradford

        A book I enjoyed in my youth was “First Overland”, the story of the 1955-56 Oxford and Cambridge Far Eastern Expedition which claims to be the first occasion anyone drove from London to Singapore – an 18,000 mile journey that took them over six months, intended to ‘sell’ the Series 1 Land Rover.

        Reading it now it seems incredible that so much of the world they passed through – the Middle East, Iraq, India, Pakistan and the Far East that were still backward outposts of various empires – has changed almost beyond recognition within my lifetime. And they didn’t include China!

        1. jrkrideau

          You might like Round the World on a Wheel: Being the narrative of a bicycle ride of nineteen thousand two hundered and thirty-seven miles through seventeen countries … Fraser, S. Edward Lunn, and F. H. Lowe
          John Foster Fraser, First published February 1, 1899

  18. Carla

    “Can a Million Chinese People Die and Nobody Know? The Atlantic. A million died in the US, and nobody noticed, so why not?”

    The Chinese probably noticed.

    Besides, 1 million Chinese dying would proportionally be like less than 250,000 USians dying.

  19. fresno dan

    How the war in Ukraine has challenged left-wing restrainers Responsible Statecraft

    On one side stand those, like Sen. Sanders’ former foreign policy advisor Matthew Duss, who insist that left-wing principles necessitate the United States’ arming of Ukraine. On the other stand those, like myself, who argue that in the medium- and long-term, sending weapons to Ukraine will strengthen U.S. primacy and the national security state that supports it, ultimately preventing the achievement of left-wing goals.
    Duss has made the case for arming Ukraine in two pieces: an essay published last June in The New Republic and an interview with the journalist Isaac Chotiner released by The New Yorker last November. In brief, Duss argues that the United States should support Ukraine for four reasons. First, he maintains that the left-wing “values of social justice, human security and equality, and democracy” will be best served by the United States shipping weapons to Ukraine. Second, while he admits the myriad failures of recent U.S. foreign policy — as he states, “our political class advocates military violence with a regularity and ease that is psychopathic” — he nevertheless insists “that the Biden administration is not the Bush administration,” meaning that the public can trust that President Biden and his advisers, who have “acted with restraint and care not to get drawn into a wider war with Russia,” will continue to do so in the future.

    Third, Duss avows that, though the history of the so-called “rules-based international order” is laden with hypocrisy, the creation of any just global order in the future will rest on “preventing powerful countries from invading and obliterating weaker ones.”
    Duss’s second point is that the Biden administration is different from the Bush administration, and we therefore don’t have to worry as much about Biden launching an “endless war” in Ukraine. **To some degree this is true. From what we can tell, Biden didn’t seek a war in Ukraine*, which makes him very different from Bush, who started wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Nevertheless, the history of war shows time and again that efforts initially intended to be limited in scope can easily expand. To take a recent example, the NATO intervention in Libya in 2011 rapidly expanded from a mission to protect “at risk” civilians to an effort to depose Muammar Qaddafi.
    * your not trying to tell very hard…
    ** yeah, its worse. Seriously. Biden SIMULTANEOUSLY took actions to make the average German and American worse off by blowing up Nord stream. Biden is taking provocative actions, not with one, but two nuclear armed countries. Really, when I throw off my child hood indoctrination as a democrat, and think critically, we may end up in a nuclear wasteland due to humanitarian democrats…

    1. fresno dan

      darn it – little off with the asteriks – a little editing
      Duss’s second point is that the Biden administration is different from the Bush administration*, and we therefore don’t have to worry as much about Biden launching an “endless war” in Ukraine. To some degree this is true. From what we can tell**, Biden didn’t seek a war in Ukraine, which makes him very different from Bush, who started wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
      * yeah, its worse. Seriously. Biden SIMULTANEOUSLY took actions to make the average German and American worse off by blowing up Nord stream. Biden is taking provocative actions, not with one, but two nuclear armed countries. Really, when I throw off my child hood indoctrination as a democrat, and think critically, we may end up in a nuclear wasteland due to humanitarian democrats…

      ** your not trying to tell very hard if you can’t figure out Biden is an instigator of the Ukraine debacle

      1. Skip Intro

        My first reaction to the assertion “the Biden administration is different from the Bush administration” was to wonder about how many neocons in the DoD and State are Bush Alumni. Considering this gang switched parties en masse, it seems likely the administrations have a lot in common.
        Nuland was a Cheney-Bush hawk, for one.

        1. jrkrideau

          Putin, in an interview with the Western press (my paraphrase) “US Presidents come and go, policy remains the same”.

    2. The Rev Kev

      Would it surprise you to learn that Matthew Duss’s father’s family were refugees from the Ukraine? I know that what I am about to say may sound unfair but I had a thought earlier. We have seen the west dragged into a fight with Russia and when you dig into it, you find a lot of powerful people have Ukrainian ancestry like Blinken, Nuland, the Vindman twins, Duss, Freeland, etc. and were helping move the US and other countries into this fight. So my thought is that we have now seen a major exodus of Ukrainians throughout the western world. Now I am wondering if a generation from now their kids will be rising high in government circles in their respective country wanting round two.

      1. Polar Socialist

        For many of these True Ukrainians this is already a round three.

        On the other hand, for those of the Ukrainian Jewish descent, this looks more like a chance to finally revenge all those pogroms. With interest.

        1. Kouros

          Given the Settlement of the Pale, Jews could go only so far east to settle. Most Pogroms were done in what is today Ukraine by Ukrainians…

          1. hk

            So they get to pick fights with Russia and kill Ukrainians (who also happen to be professed Nazis to boot( in the process. A twofer.

    3. britzklieg

      Matt Duss is a fraud, and was Bernie’s foreign policy guru during the last, execrable campaign.

      He’s also of Ukrainian descent: “Duss was born in Nyack, New York. His mother was a nurse s father, a journalist, was born in a Ukrainian kulak family and immigrated to the United States at age 2. Duss grew up in the evangelical church where there was “a very strong emphasis in my home on modeling Christ to the world through kindness and care for others.””

      Praise the lord and pass the ammunition, Matt!

      1. Karl

        Maybe, like the Cubans in Miami, the Kulak diaspora dream of getting their pre-Soviet-era Ukrainian estates back. That would require regime change. Oh, wait….

  20. flora

    re: The Intercept. Wowsers, I always thought cops were civil servants, not independent political actors.

    See: Civil asset forfeiture.

    1. semper loquitur

      If you can get a small pop-up tent, erect it on your bed and sleep in it. It traps your body heat. They make ones that kind of unfold rather than needing to be staked.

      1. Polar Socialist

        Yup. There’s a good reason our ancestors not that long ago used enclosed beds – or canopy beds if they were well off.

      1. HotFlash

        I recommend a couple of bleach bottles. They are tough, don’t leak or break, hold a *lot* of hot water so they are warm all through the night. Easier to fill, too, since they stand up, and free. I like two, one at my feet, the other to curl around. Toasty!

    2. Alice X

      Thank you all for your kind replies. I toughed it out until the house fell below 50° F, whereupon I bailed and went to a friends. The NYT had a piece on Saturday where I learned that Michigan is fifth worst in rebounding from power outages.

      ‘Frustrating and Upsetting’: Residents in Michigan Endure Fifth Day Without Power

      Thinking ahead when the big collapse comes. So many of us have lost the knowledge our forebears had that allowed them to survive. I know I have.

        1. hunkerdown

          The ice storm that came through on Wednesday put lots of ice onto lots of branches which in turn fell onto lots of wires. Lots of contractor dudes in hi-vis drove around in bucket trucks hanging those wires back onto the poles and repairing such other damage as may have occurred, at 1-2 hours per stop, and might still be working at it.

          1. flora

            Thanks. Ice storms are horribly damaging to power transmission lines, electrical lines and telephone lines, etc. The hardest repair/recovery part of downed electrical lines is that they can only be repaired or moved out of the way by utility company trained men and women. And there are relatively few trained utility company workers. The dangers of tangling with a downed electrical line is known as too great for untrained men and women to attempt, and everyone knows and respects this danger. Downed electrical line? Stay away.

            Moving a downed tree off the road by guys with chainsaws is one thing. Going near downed electrical lines is something else entirely.

            Thanks again.

            1. Alice X

              I just looked at utility Outage Center and there are still 63,000 people without power. I have two very large branches down on my garage and crashed into my neighbor’s fence. It is going to be an ordeal to take care of.

              There are many, many tree limbs down all over. The utility contracts with companies in other states for emergencies.

              I’m warm enough now. :-)

              1. flora

                Glad to hear you are warm now. The tree branches clearing will have to wait until your local utility gives an “all clear” signal for their electric and other lines to let you know you can safely start clearing the damage on your property. To make the point again, “Safely.” Sorry to be a pedant. / ;)

                Best wishes.

            2. hunkerdown

              No complaints from me about the crews or their skill. I agree that “medium voltage” ain’t nothing to familyblog around with, and I do not begrudge them at all working safely. That 2 hour job entailed about 30 minutes of jumper-disconnecting and phase-shorting, which is perfectly reasonable given the grisly consequences of an accidental 10kV to the human body, and the branches that fell were quite large.

              I suppose utility work is fairly standardized across the USA so appropriately certified contractors enjoy a bit of sidework on the neighborhood distribution network. There was at least one other firm in the neighborhood working that was not the utility or a tree company.

  21. Lambert Strether Post author

    > Hopes grow for deal on N. Ireland protocol as EU’s Von der Leyen to meet Sunak

    I updated this link with the extraordinary information (I did doublecheck) that Charles has become involved in the negotiations.

    1. The Rev Kev

      In all fairness Charles was born in 1948 so has dealt with, one way or another, eighteen different Prime Ministers so would probably be an experienced political player behind the scenes. For that matter, Europe’s Common Market – the ancestor of the European Union – was formed when he was 12 years old so he would hardly be in awe of a person like on der Leyen. But best he put the Royal silverware away before she arrives.

        1. ambrit

          Yep. The Royals are one of the richest families in the world. He knows where his loyalties ultimately lie.

    2. flora

      Wow. Has the political class in the UK (both parties) become so disfunctional that a royal has to get involved in the negotiations? (Bojo, Sunak, Starmer, etc.) I thought direct royal involvement in matters of state was against the whole constitutional monarchy thing in the UK. (His royalness is the patron of WEF and the Davos crowd. / heh. )

      1. Not Qualified to Comment

        Elizabeth II wouldn’t have had a bar of it, but the Prime Minister ‘advises’ the Monarch who he/she can and/or should meet and I’d offer that this is a ploy by Sunak to neuter at least some of the opposition among his MPs and mollify the rabid blue-rinsed Tory Brexit fanatics in the Shires. I very, very much doubt Charles will have any involvement in the negotiations themselves.

        1. flora

          re: have a bar of it.

          have a bar of (something)
          To refuse to accept, tolerate, stand for, or involve oneself with something. Primarily heard in Australia, New Zealand.


  22. Polar Socialist

    Regarding “War in Ukraine ‘stems from the Orange Revolution, a humiliating ordeal for Putin’ “, why would it be humiliating ordeal to Putin? Yushchenko was Berezovsky’s man, just like Putin had been.

    And while Yushchenko was one more “anti-corruption candidate”, this is Ukraine so nothing fundamentally changed and he ended up with 4% popularity. In 2011 he had the highest negative ranking of any Ukrainian politician.

    Or is this whole article based on the idea that Yanukovych was somehow more russophilic than Yushchenko? Well, the latter did not rehabilitate Bandera*, so there’s that.

    * back then European Parliament actually abhorred the raise of Ukrainian Nazism.

  23. semper loquitur

    re: fire ants

    Anytime you hear someone say “Why would aliens visit Earth!? It would be like talking to ants!” think of that article…

  24. John Beech

    I keep tropical fish, or I did, once. Several are invasive; lionfish come to mind, but there are many others. Along with alligators, and snakes, I wonder why we don’t require registration when purchased? No, I am – NOT – saying permission, but just so if/when it dies, you must take it to a vet or pet store as proof, e.g. turn it in.

    The alternative is the mess we have now where people grow tired of pets and dump them. Proof? Witness the mess with have in the Everglades with invasive pythons outcompeting the native fauna.

    And yes, I can hear the wailing and gnashing of teeth and cries of ‘muh freedoms’ but along with freedom comes responsibility, and proof we have citizens lacking in responsibility are creatures like that emaciated alligator. At 4′ long and weighing but 15lbs (or maybe half what it should have weighed for its length), if we could ID the owner, he should be brought up on charges of animal cruelty!

    He? Yeah, I’d lay a good size wager this was possessed by a dude instead of a dudette. And note; it’s unknown if it’ll survive but I read it was too weak to have the stopper removed surgically. Sigh.

    1. flora

      True story:
      An elderly friend of mine, who told me this story, has/had a cousin living in NYC maybe 40 years ago, living in an apartment where the landlord said “no pets, except goldfish are OK.” So… said cousin got a pet caiman, (think of a smaller member of the alligator family), and named the caiman “Goldfish.” Told landlord he had a pet ‘goldfish’. Fine. He kept the caiman in the bathtub with a bit of water. He took wicked delight in the shock friends visiting who didn’t know better might get if asked to use his bathroom during their visit. He would say, “Sure, watch out for the goldfish.” Friend thinking it was a joke would enter the the bathroom, not looking around, and as they were preparing themselves the caiman would rise up out of the bathtube and hiss and snap his jaws at them.

      If friend dashed from the bathroom and upbraided cousin for not warning them, cousin would with innocent eyes say, “I warned you about goldfish.”

      I think the animal finally got large enough he had to turn it loose in somewhere.

      1. ambrit

        Really true very ‘off’ pet alligator story.
        When I was doing service calls for Dad’s plumbing company, one of our regular customers was a mortuary on Miami Beach. (Not many would work there. Lot’s of surgical sinks and “other stuff.”) One service call, I go into the “employee’s lounge” and spot a small pet alligator in a large terrarium. I looked at the “Cadaver Specialist.” “Don’t ask” is all he said.
        Then there was the time I recognized one of their “customers.” But that is a story for another day.

  25. tegnost

    I burst out laughing when I saw the NYT on the struggle they’re having with their damaged brand.
    They have lost the mantle of the blue collar party. A drunk looking for the keys under the streetlight is a PMC looking for answers in the NYT.

      1. flora

        Adding: I think the E. Palestine train wreck and MSM reporting, or rather complete lack of reporting for 2 weeks as a small town was poisoned, and the entire country’s outrage that a small town was being left to flounder with no help, I think that the near universal, non-partisan outrage surprised the bubble dwelling MSM like the NYTimes. If it weren’t for alt media and social media would we even know about it? / my 2 cents.

  26. semper loquitur

    Satellites wrecking the night sky is a personal nightmare of mine. I barely get to see it as I live in the city. The thought of not seeing it as it once was is heart breaking.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      Consider the consequences of being able to see the night sky in or near a city. It would likely mean more than a lack of satellites blocking and confusing the view. It would probably mean the widespread loss of electric power. To see the stars, I believe the Rocky Mountains still offer some stunning views of night skies on clear nights.

  27. nothing but the truth

    Why must everything be personal?

    highly emotional people lose intellectual capacity and look at everything in personal terms.

    The constant propaganda couple with other socioeconomic stresses has made large numbers of people emotionally fragile.

  28. Jason Boxman

    Tech’s hottest new job: AI whisperer. No coding required

    When Google, Microsoft and the research lab OpenAI recently opened their AI search and chat tools to the masses, they also upended a decades-old tradition of human-machine interaction. You don’t need to write technical code in languages such as Python or SQL to command the computer; you just talk. “The hottest new programming language is English,” Andrej Karpathy, Tesla’s former chief of AI, said last month in a tweet.

    This is incredibly stupid. This kind of code isn’t idempotent. Every time you run code, you want it ideally to produce the same output. Ignoring functions that intentionally produce side effects, of course. But the goal posts are constantly moving as the training model is adjusted, so that’s definitely not going to be the case here. I think you can hardly call it programming. This is more like a game of telephone, between the query writer, the AI, and billions of words written by as many people.

  29. Mikel

    “More on the Interest-Income Channel” Stephanie Kelton, The Lens

    Yes, people can flip short-term treasuries and get a much better yield than before.
    They can do that instead of trying to pay for a house/condo at BS, fantasy finance prices.
    Savers can get a little back for all that over-priced housing that people subsidize in many ways…even if they don’t have a home.

  30. Mikel

    “How a small-town train derailment erupted into a culture battle” WaPo

    “…Brinkley said the administration erred in waiting so long to show that the president and his top aides were actively engaged. “It seems like they hoped that since the environmental disaster wasn’t lethal, that it would fade from the news cycle in a few days,” he said…”

    The focus on PR over actually making changes is the tip of the ice berg of what the statement above reveals.

    It also reveals a narrative that is already towing the line to protect the corporation.
    “since the environmental disaster wasn’t lethal…”
    Who is making that assumption? The long term effects of the chemicals released still has to be determined.
    The press and other authorities do this with every disaster. It’s like counting only the person directly hit by a bomb when it hits a building as killed by a bomb.
    So while taking precautions for the President’s health, the administration additionally plays down the severity of the incident (which would help a corporate bottom line).

  31. R.S.

    Why must everything be personal?

    Umm… because barbarians have no real politics? Civilized nations have interests, elites and the rest. Them barbarians, they are all about Big Men and their petty bickering and personal quarrels, right?

    Ironically, France24 are kinda right, albeit working from the wrong premises. Yushchenko is usually described as a “mild ethnonationalist”. His policy was about cutting economic and political ties with Russia. Like cutting imports and imposing taxes on Russian oil (see fuel shortages of ’05), playing with gas contracts (gas crises of ’05-’06 and ’08-’09), joining NATO (the Bucharest Summit of ’08), providing weapons to Georgia (see 080808), and so on.

    You can make an argument that it was Yushchenko who paved the way for the radical nationalists. Notably, he awarded Bandera and Shukhevich with “The Hero of Ukraine” titles and declared OUN-UPA “fighters for the freedom of Ukraine”. The language quotas on TV and radio were also first introduced during his presidency. Despite Ukraine having ratified the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages in 2005, numerous attempts to make Russian a regional language were thwarted, and Ukrainian became the sole language of courts and legislation.

    Yushchenko also created the Ukrainian National Memorial Institute, a pretty notorious (that’s strictly my personal opinion) organization engaged in decommunization, rooting out “the Soviet-Russian propaganda” and restoring “the just history of the Ukrainian people”. To quote Delphine Bechtel (“The 1941 Pogroms as Represented in Western Ukrainian Historiography and Memorial Culture” (2013), a conference paper for the US Holocaust Memorial Museum)
    Under President Yushchenko, there has been a gradual shift in Ukrainian historiography, politics, and commemoration of the past. That shift has coincided with the rise of a new, radical school of historians in Ukraine. In 2005, Yushchenko called for new research on the activities of OUN-UPA during the War. In the same year, he created the Ukrainian National Memorial Institute (NMI), which was tasked with investigating the Great Famine of 1932-33 and evaluating its status as a genocide, but also with researching the activities of OUN-UPA during the war. {…} The question of disproving the participation of OUN-UPA leaders and men in anti-Jewish massacres or the Holocaust loomed very large, it seems, in the research priorities of the government.

    As the SBU declassified more and more archival materials, the apparent goal of nationalist historians seemed to shift toward demonstrating that the Ukrainian national movement had been defamed for decades on the basis of documents entirely forged by the Soviets.

  32. KD

    “We are Harry Potter and William Wallace, the Na’vi and Han Solo. We’re escaping from Shawshank and blowing up the Death Star. We are fighting with the Harkonnens and challenging Thanos.❞

    Getting blown to bits taking indirect fire from artillery is a lot of things, but none of the above.

  33. .human

    Army secretary shoots high for recruiting goals despite crisis in finding enlistees

    I had to check out the link to see if you had mis-cited an Onion headline. You can’t make this stuff up!

  34. JBird4049

    “Bristling Under Progressive Mayor, St. Louis Police Seek State Takeover The Intercept. Wowsers, I always thought cops were civil servants, not independent political actors.“

    One would hope, but money changes everything. In much of the United States, the police (and prison guards) unions are among the most politically connected, wealthy, and powerful organizations around. Look at the California state prison guards and their union. Really powerful, frequently corrupt, always arrogant, and an obstacle to prison reform for generations.

    In Jackson, they are working with the equally powerful, corrupt, arrogant, and racist Republican politicians who don’t believe that Blacks can’t govern themselves, want to loot and control the city’s resources, and disempower their Democratic adversaries. In most areas of the country, it the local community who the pose the most danger to the police and their power. Remove the police from the control of the local government and it becomes much harder to challenge them. The police and the state legislature are politically natural allies.

  35. Parker Dooley

    The Covid origin controversy reminds me of the “Yellow Rain” controversy during the Vietnam war. This article (pdf) from discusses the still unresolved controversy in fascinating detail. We had the same issues related to chemical attacks in Syria, not to mention the novichuk issues in dear old blighty.

    As long as political motives predominate and classified evidence is withheld, we will never approach the standards of proof discussed in the article.

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