Links 2/6/2023

VISTA gigapixel mosaic of the central parts of the Milky Way (Ctlieee)

14-dog conga line breaks Guinness World Record in Germany New York Post

Why Would Anyone Join the ‘NoFap’ Movement? Current Affairs

Creatures That Don’t Conform Emergence Magazine


Chile wildfires kill at least 23 people as 40C heat hampers effort to stop spread Guardian

Critics say state tax break helps petrochemical companies and hurts public schools Texas Tribune


White-tailed deer harbouring COVID-19 variants thought to be nearly extinct in humans: study CTV News

COVID pandemic caused cardiovascular deaths to rise sharply News-Medical.Net

Changes in the Relationship Between Income and Life Expectancy Before and During the COVID-19 Pandemic, California, 2015-2021 JAMA. From the abstract: “The gap in life expectancy between the richest and poorest percentiles increased from 11.52 years in 2019 to 14.67 years in 2020 and 15.51 years in 2021.”

Bird Flu

Bird flu outlook is ‘grim’ as new wave of the virus heads for Britain Guardian

Cops called to ‘feral chickens’ at petrol station Birmingham Mail



Iran’s supreme leader pardons ‘tens of thousands’ of prisoners Al Jazeera

Old Blighty

Rishi Sunak ‘prepared to withdraw from European Convention on Human Rights’ The Independent

Royal Navy sailors hospitalized after drinking water on ship AP


Oil’s New Map: How India Turns Russia Crude Into the West’s Fuel Bloomberg

Adani ditched Big Four auditor for UK subsidiaries FT

Two Wall Street Powerhouses Hit by the Fall of Billionaire Adani’s Empire The Street

Congress targets Prime Minister over Adani stock ‘scam’ with three questions a day The Hindu


Chartbook #194 Can Beijing halt China’s housing avalanche? The most important economic-policy question for 2023? Adam Tooze, Chartbook


Why the United States Is Courting Nepal Foreign Policy

Buttigieg said U.S. had to balance risks in deciding when to shoot down balloon Politico. In case anyone was worried Mayor Pete wasn’t on top of things.

European Disunion

Regional transport strike starts, garbage collectors’ strike to spread Dutch News

New Not-So-Cold War

Ukraine army discipline crackdown sparks fear and fury on the front Politico EU

Maybe it would be better for Ukraine to just not lose the war rather than actually win it Irish Times

More Evidence That The West Sabotaged Peace In Ukraine Caitlin’s Newsletter


Ukraine defense minister expects help from West on warplanes AP

Ukraine: We will get either F-16 or Gripen, talks are underway Bulgarian Military

US transferring Russian assets to Ukraine will hollow out US credibility Global Times


Viktor Orbán comes under Nato scrutiny over purge of Hungarian military’s top brass FT

EU taking ‘big step towards military escalation’ – Hungarian official RT


European Union bans Russian diesel, oil products over Ukraine Al Jazeera

German Energy Reprieve Too Little, Too Late to Save Factory Jobs Bloomberg

German exports to Russia nosedive – data RT

They’re Not Worried About “Russian Influence”, They’re Worried About Dissent Caitlin Johnstone. (Kevin W)

South of the Border

Iran To Help Venezuela Overhaul Major Refinery Complex OilPrice

UN human rights chief: End Venezuela sanctions, which ‘exacerbated economic crisis and hindered human rights’ Geopolitical Economy

Imperial Collapse Watch

The Pentagon Saw a Warship Boondoggle. Congress Saw Jobs. NYT


Prospects rise for NY charges against Trump in Stormy Daniels case The Hill

‘Republicans Keep Saying the Quiet Part Out Loud’: Pence Calls for Privatizing Social Security Common Dreams


How to Enlist the Media to Help With Your Bogus Medical Bill Allen Health Academy – Marshall Allen’s newsletter

Groves of Academe

The rise of universities’ diversity bureaucrats The Economist

How EDI policies are failing international students University Affairs

University of Houston asked students to wear neon vests after police drew weapon on a Black student Texas Tribune

Supply Chain/Inflation

Does the egg shortage spell the end for brunch? For the sake of the chickens, I hope so Guardian

Saudi minister warns sanctions, underinvestment may cause energy shortages Reuters


Class Warfare

A Massachusetts bill could allow prisoners to swap their organs for their freedom MIT Technology Review

Gov. Shapiro wants Pennsylvania pension funds to ditch Wall Street money managers Philadelphia Inquirer

A Wall Street Time Bomb The Lever


Seizing the means of computation – how popular movements can topple Big Tech monopolies TNI. An interview with Cory Doctorow.

Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. OIFVet

    A Massachusetts bill could allow prisoners to swap their organs for their freedom MIT Technology Review

    This is the most disturbingly dystopian, peak neoliberalism headline I have encountered yet. “Organs for Freedom” in the land of the free and the home of the brave…

      1. griffen

        We need to up the game on dynamic cloning and the genetic protocols to insure that our best and brightest can survive an ill timed crash or a life of booze and loose morals. \sarc

        Just think of the possibilities. Would for example, Hunter Biden have a clone ready and available, in some future state, to prolong his debauchery? Think of the possibilities.

          1. griffen

            Thanks and yes I have seen that film. Now I am thinking a little more on this matter, whose to say where things will stand in the next 50 years? A little of that film and a little of another film such as Gattaca, and boom. Genetic sequencing for the finest of humans.

            Then the rest can become grist for the grinder of the organ mill. Leave it for someone creepy such as Peter Thiel to be in line for the above, however fictional, as well.

            1. JBird4049

              I suddenly feel an urge to become very sick. This does jive with the growing eugenics feel of modern America; if you are going label people disposable, why not make use of them in perhaps unorthodox means?

        1. hunkerdown


          That movie also served, probably unintentionally, as an interesting allegory for false promises that often attend labor migration.

      2. Paradan

        I don’t know, might be worth it if we also get a bunch of 20 year old Scarlet Johansson’s running around it tight leather body suits.

    1. t

      Slim pickings for organleggers, I think. We don’t treat Hep C in prisoners. Only recourse to snatch up healthy folk on bogus charges they day after they turn 18. That or get really serious about charging school kids “as an Adult” for loitering and so forth.

      1. OIFVet

        It’s not like there wasn’t an Ohio judge sent to prison for sentencing innocent folks to fill up private prisons with uh, residents. This seems like the logical next step. Neoliberalism is the ultimate incubator of new business ideas!

        1. JBird4049

          IIRC, that particular scandal (there has been more than one) was of two judges sentencing children to juvie for the kickbacks. A “the more you imprisoned, the more you earned scheme.” This pairs well with the organs for freedom plan.

      2. Felix_47

        I California, at least in 2016 and 2017, they treated Hep C in prisoners and they relapse at a high rate. Each treatment course runs somewhere around 250,000. The relapse is because they do IV drugs or unsafe sex again. It is a huge profit center for the pharma/med industry.

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      Kinda surprised it wasn’t “citizenship” for organs. Lotta kidneys walkin’ in over the southern border these days, and they’re just carrying the fentanyl, not using it.

      1. marym

        From what I’ve read most fentanyl coming across the southern border isn’t carried by citizenship-seeking pedestrians. They have a high likelihood of being detected.

        The link is a msm report with government sources, so factor that in. I haven’t seen credible analysis that would point to a substantial non-US-citizen pedestrian pipeline. That’s not to say such analysis and credible estimates do or don’t exist, particularly in the case of non-citizen pedestrians who elude border cop detection.

        1. spud farmer

          “From what I’ve read most fentanyl coming across the southern border isn’t carried by citizenship-seeking pedestrians. They have a high likelihood of being detected.”

          This is exactly right. They are carried mostly by people who cross the border (US into Mexico) pick them up there and return home with them.

    3. Louis Fyne

      wait, I thought Massachusetts was the “better angels of our nature,” Post-Enlightenment Humanist ™ state?

      1. agent ranger smith

        I have read that the two Massachusetts State legislators who have suggested or introduced ( or whatever) this bill are Party Democrats . . . wearers of the Democrat Brand.

        If that is so, the “your organs for less prison-time” idea will have to be attacked from the side. What if all the Black people of Massachusetts could be convinced that the ” your organs or your time” bill is a conspiracy to mass-incarcerate Black people even more than before and subject them to so much plausibly-deniable infra-torture that they will feel tortured into giving up their organs? If they could all be convinced of that, would they all organize against it and call anyone who supports it “racist”?

        Could liberal wokestortionists themselves be extorted into turning against the bill for fear of being called racist otherwise?

    4. Kouros

      The way I saw it presented was that the inmates are retaining their freedom to choose what to do with their organs. And some might choose donation. If that is the case, then the government will recognize this choice and sacrifice and will lessen the length of incarceration term.

      Also, the proposal comes from an African-American lady that complained that AAs do not have that much chance to get organs for transplants when they need (maybe because lots of them are in prison?) so allowing prisoners ((mostly AA) this choice would alleviate the demand). Yeah, my guess is that most of the organs will still go to those more privileged anyways…

      1. JBird4049

        “…their freedom to choose what to do with their organs.”

        The same “freedom” that California inmates of both the state mental hospitals and prisons got when getting their often illegal sterilizations? Free candy, extra commissary privileges, getting their children back after release, to just having it forcibly done on them against their wishes was offered or done to the inmates.

        Sterilizations, medical testing including deliberate infections, and slave labor, all illegal even for the times have been done for at least the last century. Just look at the Tuskegee Experiment for just one example.

        Evil like this has been conveniently ignored by both historians and news organizations. For example, the evidence for American eugenics wasn’t even destroyed, but just ignored, which made completely blaming the Nazis’ for eugenics and the Holocaust, and not their American and European, especially British, supporters for most of it, easy. Only the state level organizing and mechanization of the genocide that was the Holocaust was the “improvement.”

      2. agent ranger smith

        If that proposal really came from an African American lady, she must not understand the nature of long term downstream consequences.

        It that proposal becomes law, the Massachusetts prisondustrial complex will become a huge Black Prisoner organ harvesting business. The only way for Massachusetts Black people to be safe from legal kidnapping and being held hostage under borderline torture conditions in order to pressure them to ransom their freedom with their organs . . . . will be for every last Black person to move out of Massachusetts.

        1. agent ranger smith

          And another level of dystopian future occurred to me here. At some point everybody will be mandatorily gene-printed. Everybody’s geneprints will be kept in databases accessible to all the authorities. If some rich important person needs an organ Pretty Damn Quick, the authorities will match his geneprint to all the other geneprints in all the databases.

          The person with the best and closest geneprint match and decent health as well will be set up and framed for a fake crime, and will be given a One Way Ticket on the Kangaroo Rail Road to the Organ Chop Shop, if that ” organs for early release” bill becomes law.

          Some better writer than me should write a science fiction story about that scenario, or a graphic novel, or a movie, or something. It could be like that creepy movie Coma.

          To extend the scenario further, ” Organs for Early Release” has become such settled law that the only way for plausibly targettable people to avoid legal kidnapping and organ harvesting is to try and get covid on purpose in order to degrade their own organs enough that no rich important person would ever want them.

        2. agent ranger smith

          And it suddenly occurs to me to wonder: did the nice African American lady who is credited with inventing that ” organs for early release” idea really think that White organs will not work in Black bodies? Is that why she wants a law to extort Black convicts into giving up organs? So that Black wannabe-transplantees can receive Black organs because “White organs don’t work in Black bodies”?

          If she thinks that, and it is not actually true ( the way I suspect it is not actually true ), then somebody should tell her that fact in person and see if she still supports legal extortion of Black organs from Black convicts in hopes of harvesting Black organs for Black patients.

      3. Michael Fiorillo

        “Freedom to choose what to do with their organs…” is just a more ghoulish version of Right To Work.

  2. Antifa

    (melody borrowed from 99 Luftballons as performed by Nena)

    The news is full of bloody tales
    An airplane crash a train derails
    More news online if you should want
    More school kids shot we’re nonchalant
    We sell long guns to lunatics
    And say it’s about politics
    I’ll stay in bed here in my room
    Wallowing in Doom and Gloom!

    The sun is up and I should go
    They’ll miss me at the job you know
    But I left school with tons of debt
    Now I live in a kitchenette
    I work for wages day by day
    It’s pretend work for pretend pay
    I’ll sell my hours from womb to tomb
    My future looks like Doom and Gloom!

    Perhaps I’ll go live in a van
    Down by the river if I can
    Landlord’s going to raise the rent
    And I don’t have a car or tent
    I dumpster dive to stay alive
    Do what I must just to survive
    With years of college you’d assume
    I’d have more now then Doom and Gloom!

    A day in bed to think things through
    To figure out what I can do
    Hitchhike to another state
    Though stranger danger lies in wait
    A nickel dime and work regime
    That’s the American dream
    We sell our lives to just consume
    We work so hard for Doom and Gloom!

    We work so hard for Doom and Gloom!

    We work so hard for Doom and Gloom!

    To work for wages brings fatigue
    It’s no way to hit the big league
    You’ll never own a house or yacht
    Another day is all you’ve got
    You must arrange a boss to buy
    The hours you have before you die
    It’s OK to stay in your room
    Wallowing in Gloom and Doom!

      1. Antifa

        Thank you, gentlemen. You are too kind.

        John, there’s a typo on line 24 — “then” should be “than” if you can. For the songbook.

  3. The Rev Kev

    “Ukraine defense minister expects help from West on warplanes”

    They can probably forget warplanes from Germany. Just recently Germany was besieged with countries demanding that they too send their Leopard 2 tanks and were accusing Germany of being the only country not to. It was only when the US promised to send their Abrams tanks that Germany finally relented. How things change so quickly. All those countries that said that they were going send their Leopard 2 tanks are now saying that maybe they can’t as it is so hard and those tanks of theirs are broken anyway. And Biden did a con job and likely the Ukraine will never get those Abrams tanks which means that Germany was left swinging in the wind as far as Russian reaction to those tanks being sent to the Ukraine as noted in Putin’s Stalingrad speech. In short they got suckered. Scholz was probably furious which is probably why Germany will be sending mostly museum-grade Leopard 1 tanks instead. So if the US and NATO start demanding that Germany send their warplanes to the Ukraine, I do not think that they will want to be burnt for a second time.

    1. Polar Socialist

      I saw an image of an FT article saying that two Ukrainians who arrived to Germany to train on Leopard 2, have applied for asylum since they “don’t want to die in a senseless war”. I don’t have the means to verify, but if true, the Ukrainians may need to start filtering whom they let out of the country.

      1. timbers

        No worries…am seeing chatter that Austria says NATO troops will be manning what tanks actually get sent to Ukraine.

      2. The Rev Kev

        It is only a matter of time until those EU countries start rounding up military-age Ukrainian men and sending them back to that country for service in the army. I heard a rumour that the Ukraine is considering lowering the military age in that country to 16 years-old which I kinda believe. That would open up the possibility of those “recruiters” going into schools and presenting the older students with orders to report for service.

        1. Polar Socialist

          Oh, you mean like that (alleged) letter by Rt Honorable Michael Gove MP to all Britons hosting Ukrainian refugees to report to the Ukrainian embassy all military age males they are hosting on the pain of of forfeiting their government subsidy for hosting said refugees?

          1. The Rev Kev

            I heard about that just today but I was thinking more about countries like Poland, France and Germany. At the very least 5.3 million Ukrainians are now in the EU so can you imagine how many of them would be military-aged men.

            1. Polar Socialist

              But those countries need the (cheap) workforce! At least the ones with most refugees, since they already had a big Ukrainian diaspora before the war.

              Countries will help Ukraine only so far as not to seriously harm their own econom… Wait, never mind.

              1. The Rev Kev

                Speaking of EU economies. Alexander Christoforou mentioned this as a clown world story but it may be true-

                ‘Germany may use funds intended for the phasing out of coal-fired power plants to help defense companies build additional production facilities, Bloomberg reported on Friday, citing people familiar with the matter.

                According to the report, the measure is being discussed between the government in Berlin and regional authorities in Germany’s individual states. The move would allow manufacturers to make more weapons and ammunition, as well as create jobs in the areas worst affected by the shift from coal.’


                And I would guess that the German Greens would be all on board with this idea. Babylon Bee & The Onion – eat your heart out. You can’t compete.

          2. Stephen

            I saw that.

            Then someone posted this:

            “Ukraine voted to end conscription last Oct I quote:
            Ukraine scraps conscription for compulsory military service in wartime
            The bill, No. 8109, on the specifics of conscription for military service and the operation of conscription commissions, was backed by 318 lawmakers. According to the new law, from now on, during the martial law:

            there is no conscription for military service;

            President Volodymyr Zelenskyy earlier canceled the autumn conscription and postponed the planned demobilization.”

            I have no idea if this is true. Not sure what others understand. But I have enough comments to believe that men are being pressed into military service in some form of other. Whatever it is called.

            1. The Rev Kev

              ‘Press Gangs’ would be the best description. The Ukrainians have literally brought back Press Gangs.

              1. Stephen

                I agree. But it is actually worse.

                A lot of law circumscribed the press gang and civilian courts often intervened. The Royal Navy Impress Service itself was also only normally allowed to press “seamen”. In the eighteenth century these were distinctive on account of their dress and presence in port towns. Often, the impress even happened at sea by stopping inbound merchant ships, the best place to find seamen. So a farmer wandering around in Salisbury would never run the risk of being pressed.

                What Ukraine is doing seems to be everyone from 16 to 60.

                1. LifelongLib

                  I’ve read it was a mixed bag whether you were better off as a merchant or naval seaman. Merchant ships paid more, and discipline was less harsh. And of course naval service would be more dangerous in wartime. On the other hand, naval ships were generally better manned and provisioned. Merchant ship owners tried to save money by keeping crew size and provisions to a minimum, and occasionally wrecked their own ships for the insurance.

                  Dunno. I think I would have just stayed on land…

                  1. JBird4049

                    One of the causes of the War of 1812 was the British insistence on impressing American sailors from American ships. I guess the British were arrogant and desperate enough to do so. The Royal Navy needed a lot of warm bodies. Just how could an American sailor prove that he was American anyways?

                    My question is just how desperate will the Ukrainians (and maybe the Europeans?) get before more creative ways of getting bodies will happen?

            2. Lex

              Conscription is just the join the army when you’re 18 because it’s the law. While technically the mobilization is a form of conscription, it’s a bit different.

            3. Polar Socialist

              I may be completely wrong, but I think Ukraine scrapped the annual conscription for military service during peace time established in that law.

              Since they now have martial law, the military gets to decide when and how much they need fresh meat, not the calendar.

        2. OIFVet

          Na ga happen in Bulgaria. Military age Ukrainians are decidedly safe from being rounded up here, as most display rather solid markers of wealth (Bentleys seem to be de rigeur) in a very corrupt country. The war, as is usually the case, will continue to be fought by the Ukrainian undermenschenclass.

    2. OIFVet

      Living in this bastion of freedom, the EU, I am denied access to any and all Russian sources of information. This is to my benefit, of course, because my unelected EUrocrats care for me and want to prevent me being exposed to any and all unauthorized and unapproved false information, except of course that from the carefully vetted and trained Western Ministry of Truth professionals. Hail Zelensky, glory to Ukraine, down with Putin, Russia, China and Iran, vote Democrat (or for your local WEF trained and staffed political entity, such as the German Greens).

      1. Kouros

        I have access in Canada, but if I express skepticism or doubt of the story presented in MSM here, I am forever banned from expressing my opinion again, in any and all matters, not only Ukraine… Like Caitlin was writing in her article…

    3. digi_owl

      If it ends up being Gripens that would be interesting, as i don’t think Swedish jets have ever been in a sharp engagement.

      Also, supposedly soviet encounters with Swedish fighter jets over the Baltic sea is what lead to development of the SU-27 and its famous maneuverability.

      1. Louis Fyne

        Speaking strictly as a plane nerd, Gripens (assuming pilots are available), from a logistical level, would be an optimal plane to operate in Ukraine—hopscotching from Poland to makeshift runway to makeshift runway until it gets within range of the front.

        The Swedes don’t have that many of them though—-but counterbalance that with their pro-Kyiv fervor.

        Doubt that the Gripens would last long at the front though.

        1. Polar Socialist

          Saw a story today by an Ukrainian pilot about a recent loss of comrade. They did see a Russian patrol fighter on their radars, but assumed it was too far away to intercept them. So they continued, and all of a sudden there was this air-to-air missile coming for his wing man with no time to do anything.

          Apparently Russians are now using R-37Ms in Ukraine regularly, so they don’t actually need to leave the Russian airspace to see and hit anything flying east of the Dniepr.

      2. OIFVet

        The Gripens seem competent little fighters, and rather budget-friendly, too. If Sweden joins NATO, odds are that its native fighter design and production capabilities will be destroyed by the US. Bulgaria’s president, a former fighter pilot, had insisted on purchasing Gripens both due to the cost and to mission competency. Lockheed Martin and the State Department made sure Bulgaria purchased F-16s instead. Not that it isn’t a good fighter plane, but it is several times more expensive than the Gripens for little added value, and delivery is now several years overdue.

        1. digi_owl

          quite a bit of Swedish military tech is either licensed from, or developed in cooperation with, US companies.

        2. Daniil Adamov

          Stuff like that may be a sign to watch for when it comes to determining how serious the US is about this stand-off. If they keep putting profits over effectiveness by pushing their overpriced boondoggles over more practical designs, they are still more interested in war-as-business, not war-as-apocalyptic-showdown. Which is almost certainly the case.

    1. OIFVet

      My sources inside the US Navy tell me that after recovering the balloon’s payload, it was determined it was nothing more than a fortune cookie delivery system. Showing their typical lack of creative thinking, the Chinese sent only two types of fortune cookies: “You should reconsider your desire to live in interesting times” and “The Age of the Dragon is upon you.”

        1. OIFVet

          Orson Wells, quite the prankster, that one 😂 One of the more endearing American traits, as allegedly noted by P.T. Barnum, is gullibility, something hucksters have exploited from time immemorial (1776 quailifies) to sell snake oils, patent medicines, Ponzi schemes, various economic balloons (hah!), NINJA loan mortgage-backed securities, consent, propaganda, and New Democrats like Obama and the Clintons.

          1. semper loquitur

            Years ago, I taught adult education at a technical school. Basically teaching future janitors how to read and do simple math. Aspire to getting their GED certificate, for whatever that’s worth.

            One day, one of the admins came into the classroom and announced that there was an assembly in the cafeteria. Mandatory. We headed out.

            The assembly was about a presentation from a local financial advice company. They were offering investment Opportunities! that both the students and the staff were welcome to take advantage of. Representatives from the company waxed eloquent about the money that was simply waiting to be made.

            The staff was ecstatic, literally, clapping and exclaiming in awe at this newfound bounty that was almost within their grasp. They chattered excitedly amongst themselves. Their sense of excitement was palpable.

            My students, street-wise and weary of the innumerable con artists that had come their way through the years looking to skim off what little money they had, were dismissive if not downright scornful. We listened to the spiel. Then we were asked if we wanted to sign up.

            The staff lined up eagerly. The students and I declined and headed back to the classroom. There, I offered a quick lesson in scam artists and how the vast majority of small time investors lose their shirts. The students were receptive, but already knew this anyway.

            1. OIFVet

              Universities can be very fertile grounds for financial scam artists, usually with the full cooperation of the administration. I got my first credit card my freshman year at a booth set up on campus by the institution of financial fleecing. It had terrible terms 😂

              1. Medbh

                I got my first credit card at college too. I was given a $13,000 limit and I made $6,000 a year. I don’t understand how that could be legal. I don’t know anyone who made it through their 20s without getting burned by credit card companies, and one bad decision takes years to repair. Credit card companies are loan sharks for the poor or inexperienced.

          2. Kouros

            It works on people going only by one book – the Pilgrims… When God is mostly absent, anything else goes… especially magic solutions…

        2. Joe Renter

          Interesting about the Orson Welles story. My mother was listening to the broadcast and convinced it was true as well.
          Humans, slow to use common sense it seems.

          1. LifelongLib

            My dad missed it because he and his family were listening to Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy on a different station. I don’t see how a ventriloquist act could work on the radio but apparently it was very popular.

            1. wilroncanada

              Dummies at both ends? Sorry, couldn’t resist, but they were probably amused by the jokes. And a pre-television REAL imagination.

        3. Heidi's Walker

          Really, there was a panic? Maybe they panicked in Washington, DC. The balloon flew right over my neighborhood in Columbia, SC. It was a beautiful day and lots of folks were out walking, running, exercising their dogs. We smiled for the camera and were amused to see it.

    2. Screwball

      All raises WAY more questions than it answers, and none of the possible answers are particularly reassuring.

      It most certainly does. The CNN article is awful. I’m from the camp they are to the point of just making $hit up. Whatever BS they come up with to put good light on slow Joe is all that matters, and fan the flames of war with China at the same time. And the $hitlibs will eat it up hook-line-and-sinker.

      down from Alaska and Canada into the US, and the length of time it spent loitering over sensitive missile sites in Montana, officials said.

      Loitering? How can a balloon loiter? Not sure, but it sure sounds like it was up to no good. Of course it was…

      But, the official added, “closely observing the balloon in flight has allowed us to better understand this Chinese program and further confirmed its mission was surveillance.”

      Who are all the “officials” in this article? I’m sorry, maybe I’m becoming too immune to the spin out of this administration, but this sounds like some high level hooey to me.

      1. ACPAL

        Years ago I did some reading on high altitude balloons. It seems that 62,000 ft altitude is a sweet spot where the winds are about the same as here on the ground, roughly averaging about 10 mph. Both above and below they move faster. The more maneuverable weather-type balloons, those with power sources like solar panels, often have an inner and outer balloon, with the inner one being heated to maintain altitude at night and give it maneuverability. Adding a propeller or two would increase its maneuverability considerably and also give it loiter capability.

        1. Screwball

          Thanks for this. Maybe someday we will find out, but I won’t hold my breath. There are cold war goals to take care of, and of course to make Joe look good. Truth is optional.

      2. Nikkikat

        That’s all they serve up is lies. This balloon was a weather ballon not a surveillance balloon. They must crank up the BS. ABC news was on the surveillance story all weekend. I was wondering how they would convince people we should go to war with China, now we know. A balloon.

        1. ArvidMartensen

          I wonder. This balloon could have been two things at the same time.
          A plain old weather balloon. And a statement to the US that the USA is no the bastion island protected by geography.
          Given the constant incursions of the US into waters and the air near China, why not send this message in a subtle Chinese way? Just check the winds and send ‘er up.
          And ditto for the US playground, South America

  4. griffen

    Two powerhouses of Wall Street hit by losses on holdings exposed to the Adani corporate empire. Yeah, Vanguard group and Blackrock are shaking in their boots. Time to cut costs and rearrange those deck chairs. On second thought, eh maybe not that much.

    The above Wall St powerhouses are investment empires unto themselves. So this may feel like a bee sting, relatively speaking, as compared to multiple stings of taking a direct hit from a nest full of angry hornets.

    1. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you.

      Dunno about BlackRock quaking. It has friends in high places, e.g. Wally Adeyemo at the US Treasury, George Osborne and Rupert Harrison advising the UK Treasury, the team advising Macron on pension, er, um, reform and Philipp Hildebrand, former head of the Swiss National Bank and, due to the proximity of their offices in the City of London, frequent diner and bouncer of ideas with Andrew Bailey. So, us peasants had better be quaking instead.

      One of the advisers to Adani is Boris Johnson’s brother, Jo. As his wife, Amelia Gentleman at the Guardian, and sister, Rachel, are prominent in the media, his inglorious role is little reported.

    2. Matt McClintock

      Vanguard is entirely passive and Blackrock’s active funds are relatively small compared to the total, so its almost a certainty that neither “choose” to invest in Adani, they were just required to do so by mandate. They lose money on almost every corporate fraud by definition. While I always get an initial smile from these news reports, it quickly goes away once I think about Midwest Grandma losing money in her pension.

  5. ex-PFC Chuck

    “The Pentagon Saw a Warship Boondoggle. Congress Saw JobsCampaign Donations. NYT”
    Fix for the NYT headline. Political engineering wins again!

    1. tevhatch

      The Pentagon Saw a Warship Boondogglefunds going to corporations not offering enough board seats. Congress Saw Jobs for family and Donations.; NYT still trying to figure out who will pay them the most in order to fix their reporter’s follow up angle.

      I know, too wordy, but everyone has their finger in the pot, the problem is they all want to maximize the amount of honey sticking to their fingers.

  6. The Rev Kev

    “University of Houston asked students to wear neon vests after police drew weapon on a Black student ”

    Those neon vests had better not be yellow. Don’t want to give those students any ideas.

    1. Not Again

      I understand that back in the 30s, the Germans used armbands to identify groups of people they wanted to stand out in a crowd.

      1. jefemt

        Our local Land Grant (Land Grab?…that is another can of worms, so to speak, but I digress)
        Institution has an annual buffet on campus to taste test and try bug proteins in all sorts of nummy concoctions.

        Hard to let loose of paradigms, or shift. Soylent Green Is People… (and, if whitetail can harbor covid, why not our dead neighbors. No worries… )

      2. begob

        I’m all for eating creepy crawlies in palatable form, but the fake-meat filling up the aisles in UK supermarkets is just tofu and quorn processed into junk: all sorts of additives and flavourings and sugar plus the dreaded vegetable oil.

  7. The Rev Kev

    ‘A Ukrainian media reporter states that according to some reports the life expectancy on the Bakhmut front for fresh troops is 4 hours’

    I saw that Ukrainian media reporter in another video clip and you can tell that she is not happy at being where she is- (1:10 mins)

    1. Louis Fyne

      Normies (Twitter pundit factory) have zero idea what a real peer war sounds/feels like.

      Looks like the journalist had no idea as well, particularly when contrasted with the fatalistic nonchalant attitudes of her interviewees.

    2. begob

      If you turn off the sound, she seems to have a bad case of hiccups.

      Not really laughing – what a terrifying environment.

  8. The Rev Kev

    “Ukraine army discipline crackdown sparks fear and fury on the front ”

    Said it before and will say it again. If Trump had gotten a second term, there would have never been a Ukrainian war – which was probably why they got rid of him. Yeah, he was an idiot but he was not into starting more wars. Here is Trump with Zelensky in the White House with Trump telling him to work out his problems with Putin himself. Watch carefully the look on Zelensky’s face as Trump tells him this- (9 secs)

    1. Carolinian

      And yet Trump gave the green light to rearming Ukraine and the renewed isolation of Iran–both under the influence of Pompeo. He was a very erratic peacenik. He’s still pushing the new Yellow Peril (oh sorry now renamed a more politically correct Pivot to Asia) drive against China and who knows how that would go down should he once again become president.

      Still, anyone is better than Biden.

    2. tevhatch

      Trump may not have succeeded in initiated an all out hot war with a peer/near peer (ie: Russia or China), but he’s run plenty of hot wars against smaller nations. Also, I must of missed the memo; When did drone killings, bombings, embargos, blockades, invasion, violent occupation of lands and resources of other nations, theft of nations’ reserves, etc, etc, all stop being acts of war?

  9. Carolinian

    Re Doctorow–he’s plowing well worked ground here with his surveillance and antitrust argument against big tech. But perhaps the problem is not so much lackadaisical regulation as the nature of the thing itself, which encourages the public to opt for convenience and standardization over “seizing the means of computation.” Computers are interactive devices with a learning curve and therefore a lot more effort than just turning on your TV set. While this may appeal to some, others struggle at simply using an ATM or self checkout scanner. Meanwhile the younger and more tech savvy may be spending too much time online and lose touch with common sense reality that some of us grew up with in the slide rule age.

    The argument of people like Bezos has always been that they are subject to the next big disruption just like the one they caused and therefore they are more vulnerable than they appear. And that’s not wrong. Doctorow dismisses concerns about billionaires like Soros and puts it all on anonymous boardrooms and shareholders. But disasters like the one in Ukraine don’t make a lot of sense unless you add in the personal factor. It’s not just profit seekers who have been pushing this.

    1. digi_owl

      Speaking of TV, or radio for that matter. It is crazy how long NTSC/PAL/SECAM stuck around when one consider that in the same period since we have gone from 1080 to 8k.

      Consumerism gone nuts…

  10. John

    Private equity has its talons into public pension funds and Pence and the GOP want to privatize Social Security so Wall Street can dip its beak, stick in a straw and suck out the juice. No one even tries to conceal the looting.
    Meanwhile in the world of geostrategery, as practiced in the DC Bubble and Echo Chamber, the gaff has stridently been blown; it is trickling through to the US at large just what the aim of the ginned up Ukraine war has been about all along. Doubling down, the US and EU are knuckling Serbia and by shooting down a balloon, yes you heard that right, shooting down a balloon, our Neocon Secretary of State is wagging a finger at China. China is not impressed. Much head shaking here in the reality based world as the Rove playbook is put into action and “Scranton Joe” and his boys have a reality all their own. I paraphrase the immortal Bugs Bunny, “Are they all maroons?”

    1. wendigo

      Sad to say, but, retirement savings might be safer in the hands of Wall Street taking it’s cut than taking the chance of your Government raising the retirement age to 75 or 80 and cutting benefits to fund the military industrial complex.

      1. Pat

        Oh I am pretty sure even those privatized accounts will have a much higher age of retirement qualification than we currently have.
        Wall Street doesn’t want a beak full, they want a majority portion, and will not be happy until they leave you with crumbs.

        1. tevhatch

          Many missed the import of the statement on English Bob, that he use to kill Chinese for the railroad in the film “Unforgiven”. His job was to kill Chinese who had completed their work contracts, before they could collect their contract pay.

          Giving Wall Street everyone’s retirement money is the opposite of taking out a life insurance policy, it incentivizes them to do everything possible to food, medicine, transport, pollution, etc. to shorten your life to near the end of your contributions/protection money falling into their account.

  11. Louis Fyne

    “I’m curious how much denial there was from experts about this early on. Anyone know the history of that turns-out-virus-does-bad-stuff story?”

    Virus = HPV hypothesis met the same Establishment resistance as H. Pylori = ulcers.

    The Australian doctor/researcher of the H. Pylori = ulcers hypothesis met so much resistance that he purposefully infected himself to H. Pylori to test his claims. Eventually won a Nobel Prize for Med. for his renegade methodology.

    Historically, the medical Establishment often has been dogmatic and reactionary with its “Trust the science” motto. The *real* motto should be “Show me the data.”

    Now how the HPV-H. Pylori parable relates to Coronavirus—-I’m not touching that with a 20-ft. pole, lol.

  12. Roger Blakely

    Why Would Anyone Join the ‘NoFap’ Movement? Current Affairs

    David S. Smith misses the point. The point is that men having to adjust to the distortions caused by feminism. These days women are only interested in the top 5% of men (Google blurb below). By 2030 45% of women will be single and childless (Google blurb below). It used to be that it wasn’t too difficult for a man to have a family. Now it is almost impossible.

    Here is the meat of this post. Jedediah Bila said it best on her YouTube show two weeks ago.

    Here is the transcript of her one-minute video:

    Women have jobs. Women aren’t dependent on men financially in the same way in many respects as they used to be, And yet, they make the same decisions. They still want a financially stable man. They still want a big strong man who is going to be a protector. They still want, you know, “Oh, I want a guy to be tall. I want a guy to be fit.”

    They’re still looking for the same things. Even though they can work, they want a situation where they don’t have to work in may respects. Even though they can take a self-defense class, they can file and register and get a gun, they still want that guy, who if they’re walking down the street, down a dark alley, is going to be able to jump in and protect them.

    They still say they want a guy who makes six figures and up. If you’re so interested in financial independence, why do you want that?

    Well, because your biology is still talking. This evolutionary stuff that everyone in the modern world wants to dismiss is still talking. And a woman is sitting there and her hormones and her biology are talking to her every single day.

    Google blurbs:

    How many women will be single and childless by 2030?
    45% of Women Are Expected To Be Single and Childless by 2030, Per Recent Projection. In 2019, Morgan Stanley published an article outlining women’s impact on the American economy.Jan 3, 2023

    While women swipe more than men overall, they are far more selective when doing so. Women swipe yes to just one in 20 people while the majority of men swipe yes more often than no.

    1. hunkerdown

      Stopped reading at the biological mysticism. In fact, the desire to biologically reproduce is socially constructed through the pervasive programming not that unlike what you are consuming. You are simply rehearsing Darwinist LARP.

      If an authority figure tells a woman that the vague mood and physical unease she’s feeling is a signal to reproduce, that theory reinforces itself every time vague mood and physical unease befalls them. (No, she maybe just needs some alone time. With herself.)

      The reality of it is that every culture comes up with its own lies that serve to transmit the culture and provide new blank EPROMS to program.

      1. cfraenkel

        “In fact”?? You know this how? Next I suppose you’ll be claiming that wanting water after a race is socially conditioned by Nestle.

        For me, I stop reading after someone resorts to ad hominem (“biological mysticism”) and bogus claims to authority.

        1. Jeff W

          “Next I suppose you’ll be claiming that wanting water after a race is socially conditioned by Nestle.”

          I rarely actually laugh out loud when reading something but that sentence did it.

        2. hunkerdown

          René Girard’s mimetic theory of desire, the reduction in fertility when women are educated, and personal communications with several women from the childfree movement whose biological clocks blink 12:00 –:– 12:00 –:–.

          I don’t deny that sex feels good, and that plenty of babies have come to be as a result. I’m saying that family, peer, cultural, and religious authorities nudge: they model childbearing and childrearing as desirable (carrot) and withhold community from those who don’t (stick), much as they do for any other behavior considered pro-social. I don’t see any evidence to the contrary; if you have any, I’m all ears.

          1. begob

            I’m not sure Girard is the go-to guy on this. Emulation is one thing, but in his theory mimetic desire leads to mutual antagonism, which is temporarily resolved through scapegoating a third party.

            I think he excluded biological desire, but I do accept your observation on the constant nudging. It’s just that the theory necessarily involves the scapegoat urge, which seems a bit much for a phenomenon that can easily be described as emulation.

            Besides, I suspect Girard was really opening a clever backdoor for acceptance of Christ as breaker of the scapegoat urge.

            1. KD

              No, even with Christ, you have plenty of Witches and Heretics and Sodomite Knights Templars to burn, just look at the Middle Ages.

        3. Mikel

          I think he is saying there is some difference between the desire to have a child and the desire to have sex.

    2. Laura in So Cal

      In my opinion, all of the articles talking about the “swiping” and screening differences between men and women are conflating social media/on-line activities with real life. I don’t have a huge social circle, but there have been 4 weddings of young people in the past year that I’ve sent presents to (including my niece). Without exception, they met in real life and not thru on-line activites. 2 couples met in college, one met at church, and the other met at a party given by a mutual friend.

      So another data point.

      1. tevhatch

        RE: data point. Do you have any information to share on the each person in couples’ incomes, or the relative physical fitness/attractiveness of each person in the couples? That might be more relevant data to test the hypothesis imbedded in the initial comment?

        I ask as I note If they met in college, then it’s likely they met with in the same main area of interest (engineer/science; business/political science; etc.) and would be of similar incomes, with the man earning more than the woman still above average probability. It’s possible, but odd/unlikely, that a low income man might meet and marry a high income woman via church or a social group function.

        1. Laura in So Cal

          None of the people are outstandingly attractive although I would call all of them young, healthy, and with decent teeth. 2 of the women and 2 of the men would qualify as overweight but not obese. Interestingly, the overweight people are all with a thinner partner. I think 2 of the men are over 6 ft. 2 of the pairings have men with more earnings potential than the women, but the women do have their own careers. The other 2 are equivalent earners although the female nurse can make more money than her partner if she works overtime.

          20+ years ago I married my husband when I was in my 30’s. He makes me laugh, can fix anything, and is a veteran who didn’t go to college. I’ve always made more money than he has.

          Maybe my own history makes me biased.

          1. Mike Mc

            Heh. I’ve been “that guy” twice now. First wife (22 years 25 total) symphony musician and music teacher; second (13 years 12 married) a pastor complete with Rev. Dr. in front of her name.

            I managed to (mostly) complete three years of college but wound up as a computer repair tech. Should have been a greedier weasel about pay before retiring but have three wonderful children (first marriage) and three wonderful stepchildren (second) and life is pretty damn decent.

            BTW second wife and I met via… after she had dated some real losers and Match thought my ex SIL would be a good match. Turned out our four eldest children knew each other from high school music and theater stuff – pre-vetted!

    3. tevhatch

      This is probably past my English, but here we go: Sometimes we mix up sex with social contracts because access to sex always has to be negotiated through a framework of laws, morals, for all parties which I’ll call contract norms. In the past sex usually was easier for women to access, but the post access contract costs was much higher in the past if it was done outside the contract norms and this constrained the libido . There are exceptions, this is a generalization. Now more women, particularly the wealthy can access the alpha/desirable because the contract norms are more permissive and the penalty lower in cost for both the Alpha and the women. However, in the good old days of feudalism and early capitalism, access to sex was hardly even for men, social position mattered. Harim, mistresses, famine, and of course death by birth risks, kept society function when ratios of women to men had to be low, which war sometimes helped to ameliorate, note war often removed more women than men from the population. The idea of a chicken for every pot one woman for every man is rather new and odd.

      1. Roger Blakely

        Yes. That is why what we will hear from women for the rest of our lives is that men won’t commit. Women are throwing themselves sexually at the alpha/desirable men, men who are out of these women’s league. Those alpha/desirable men will take the free sex and move on leaving the women to complain that men won’t commit.

        1. tevhatch

          I’m sorry but sex is never free (even Fap(ping?) has it’s cost). it’s a matter of social costs, constraints, disease risks, and libido(it even effects hormone levels, another cost), etc. Like the three body problem in astrophysics, humans generally suck at making calculations with multiple variables even if the equations are clearly written down. The problems though with this calculus are trivial compared to those who don’t even have a platform to raise their desires to stop being starved, beaten, abused so the PMC can have the leisure to pursue their lives as they are wont. From my experience if you find it tiresome to hear such complaints, just raise the subject of the poor and what can we do about them. That will surely give you quiet.

        2. OIFVet

          May I ask how old you are? Perhaps there is some generational change in women and men I haven’t had the chance to discover, because at 45 I certainly don’t recognize what you describe in the women I look for, 35 to 48. There are exceptions, of course, but certainly not rising to the level as to be the norm.

    4. OIFVet

      Dunno. I certainly have met women like that in my travails as a single male. They were, and are, an automatic pass for me since I don’t want to be reduced to a walking billfold. However, they are the minority. Yes, women look for a measure of financial stability, however things like emotional and physical security are the main concern, at least in my experience. Where I live right now, domestic violence is an issue, so a man who can be both strong and assertive when he has to be, and gentle, caring and respectful toward the woman next to him is what’s in demand amongst the better half of humanity. If that can’t be assured, if a guy exhibits signs of taking out his frustrations on the people around him, them most women would rather take a hard pass. The point is, we men must concentrate on the basics, simple as it may sound.

      Then there is the question of whether it is responsible to bring another life into this world. I wouldn’t, and more and more women feel the same. It isn’t only a matter of money, it is also a matter of genuine unhappiness with the state of affairs and with skepticism about them taking a turn for the better in our lifetime.

    5. Cetra Ess

      The NoFap movement had a kernal of seed of an idea when it looked at porn as perhaps the source of a significant disconnect between men and women.

      It could have gone in incredible directions from there – that porn is exploitative, that porn reduces sex to script, that porn is performative, that the emotive element is absent, that in reality individuals are sooooo diverse and complex in their needs and wants and sensitivities and yet porn conveys the opposite, mispresents reality, that porn conveys that all men and women have identical cookiecutter needs and desires, same erogenous zones, that porn used to have imagination and storyline which attempted a human element, so on and so forth.

      Instead, it devolved into pathetic generalizations which can’t possibly be substantiated or even useful or conducive to discussion. Biology talking? Swipe left? Women want a guy who makes six figures? This tendency to generalization doesn’t lend itself well to credibility.

      But also, men only reach these sorts of conclusions when they have had very limited exposure to or relationships with women, if at all. As in, their understanding of women is likely informed almost exclusively by porn – because that’s precisely how porn portrays women.

      So what’s really going on here?

  13. Mikel

    They’re Not Worried About “Russian Influence”, They’re Worried About Dissent Caitlin Johnstone

    Indeed. As if Americans being critical of their every day experiences need it all to be explained to them by Russians.

  14. cfraenkel

    That ESO image of the galaxy center was amazing. You don’t get a good feel for the sheer number of stars until you zoom in on a sea of grey and it keeps going and going.
    A couple of comments –
    The attribution link has a typo, it’s ESO, not ECO (a crypto something or other)
    The link is directly to the zoomable image; if you want to read about it go one level up
    They also talk about the challenges of making such a big image (108k x 82k pixels!) here newsletter.
    One tidbit that caught my eye was a valid use case for bit-torrent, since paying to host the image on a CDN would cost to much (for those internet freedom arguments with corporatist Disney supporters arguing that bit-torrent is only for piracy : )

    1. Paradan

      So I don’t know what kinda horsepower your computer has, but I’d like to recommend a program called Space Engine. It’s really amazing to zoom out from our planet, past the milky way and see all the known galaxies all the way out to the “edge” of the universe. There are more known galaxies then known stars, though that may not be true anymore with the amount of space telescopes sent up over the last 10 years.

  15. Anon

    Re: Buttigieg said U.S. had to balance risks in deciding when to shoot down balloon

    I was hoping it was an elaborate gender reveal.

  16. KD

    ‘NoFap’ Movement

    How exactly is this signified?

    All you gotta do honey
    Is kinda stand in one tight little spot

  17. Cetra Ess

    re: Ukraine army discipline crackdown sparks fear and fury on the front Politico EU

    When you’re being ordered to do things but not provided with weapons or ammunition, 5-8 years prison looks like a bargain in exchange for your life. Whatever you believe about your country, it’s not worth dying for, because your country obviously doesn’t believe in you.

  18. Bill Malcolm

    These days I go over the Links, which are invariably first class no matter the author of the day, and discover all sorts of interesting things, but … Also invariably, the comments tend to wander off only to a very few US-centric subjects in a rather navel-gazing way. That is my distinct impression and hell, it’s boring.

    Today I learned in detail about slime-mould, and watched the Hungarian Foreign Minister tell the US Ambassador to his country to mind his own damned business, and bug out. How refreshing to hear the sentiment said out loud.

    Finally, the balloon. Here’s what I want to know — was it “visible” on civilian ground radar? And if it was, it certainly was on military radar. So what was the song-and-dance horse manure about a fighter’s missile unable to lock onto it to fire unless it approached from the sun-heated side? Dangling from the balloon was a large very black solar panel array. Unless the Chicoms have developed stealth floating solar panels, ha ha, those panels were a sitting duck aiming point. They weighed, we were advised today, 2000 lbs and were the size of a “small light aircraft”. Radar invisible? My hat. So the Canadians could have shot it down with an CF-18 on a ballistic arc, but didn’t. Hell, no. Let the balloon cross over into the US where maximum bullshite PR could be extracted from the situation to dun the Chinese. Manouevrable and steerable, as if, beyond a little jockeying it wasn’t possible as anyone with a modicum of engineering training would know, but the accusation of spying on a virgin USA? Priceless. Too big an opportunity to miss! The horror of exposing decent Americans to foreign surveillance. Wah, boo hoo. Foreigners interfering in the golden life of America not allowed, but as Hungary points out, America is all too happy to tell them how to run their country.

    USA is hypocrisy central.

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