Links 2/9/2023

Orca mothers forgo future offspring to care for their full-grown sons New Scientist

Super-cooperators Aeon. “Clear and direct telepathic communication is unlikely to be developed. But brain-to-brain links still hold great promise.”


Dust as a solar shield Plos Climate. From the abstract: “A simpler approach is to ballistically eject dust grains from the Moon’s surface on a free trajectory toward L1, providing sun shade for several days or more. Advantages compared to an Earth launch include a ready reservoir of dust on the lunar surface and less kinetic energy required to achieve a sun-shielding orbit.”

We were promised smaller nuclear reactors. Where are they? MIT Technology Review

Warehouse boom transformed Inland Empire. Are jobs worth the environmental degradation? LA Times


Drought may have doomed ancient Hittite empire, tree study reveals Guardian

Drought, disease and insects killed 36 million trees across California in 2022 The San Diego Union-Tribune

Loofah-inspired gel purifies contaminated water with warmth of the sun New Scientist

The Salinas River and the foretold flood High Country News


Indoor air quality should be monitored in public places, says Chris Whitty Guardian. England’s chief medical officer.

Bird Flu

Tracking the bird flu, experts see a familiar threat — and a virus whose course is hard to predict STAT News


US sanctions preventing Syria from receiving aid – FM Al Mayadeen

Line in the Sand The Baffler. On “The Line,” a 105-mile-long mirrored and enclosed luxury horizontal skyscraper in the Saudi Arabian desert.

Old Blighty

New government departments are ‘re-arranging deck chairs on the Titanic’ amid multiple crises The Canary


Oil giant TotalEnergies ices massive green hydrogen plans with Adani after share rout Recharge News

Hedge Funds Hunting for Adani Bargains Are Using This Playbook Bloomberg


China Rejects “Shoot First, Talk Later” Attitude Moon of Alabama

Balloon ‘panic’ intensifies push against China in Washington Al Jazeera

Americans far less hawkish on North Korea and China than policy elites: poll Responsible Statecraft

China Hasn’t Given Up on the Belt and Road Foreign Affairs

China’s hypersonic triad pressing down on US Asia Times

Trapped by Empire Dissent Magazine. Guam.


International service contractors still profiting in Myanmar, bankrolling the junta Upstream

European Disunion

50,000 people protest Danish government’s planned scrapping of public holiday to pay for military spending increase WSWS

Nationwide Strikes Disrupt French Fuel Flows OilPrice

Hungarian government continues sacking hundreds of high-ranking military officers Daily News Hungary

Hungary gave €800mn grant to lure Chinese gigafactory, according to Chinese media bne Intellinews

Administrator Samantha Power to Travel to Hungary USAID

New Not-So-Cold War

The coming existential threat: do we act in common or is it going to be every man for himself? Gilbert Doctorow

Will it Bend or Will it Break? Trying to Understand the World

Britain Pledges to Train Ukraine’s Pilots, Signaling That Warplanes Could Come Next New York Times

U.K. Commits To Training Ukrainian Fighter Pilots, Many Questions Remain The Drive

Lawmakers worry about weapons makers’ ability to meet demand Defense News

Ukraine ‘can count on France to win this war’, Macron tells Zelensky in Paris France24


How America Took Out The Nord Stream Pipeline Seymour Hersh

White House rejects report that US was behind Nord Stream sabotage AFP

US has questions to answer over Nord Stream blasts, Russia says Al Jazeera


From Lambert: “Nothing on the front pages of the Times or WaPo. Odd!

Note that the Vox link at the bottom is wrong, it’s to a 2015 story by Hersh on the White Helmets so either

1) the algo is wrong, but this has happen a lot with other searches on Hersh (and on Google generally, which now seems to ignore date restrictions on search)

2) this foreshadows the attack to come on Hersh’s credibility”


Everyone wants to reap the fruits of INSTC Rail Freight. On the International North-South Corridor between Russia, Iran and India.

UN mission on Lachin corridor only possible with consent of Azerbaijan, Armenia, says Russia Anadolu Agency

MEP: French gendarmes will be sent to Armenia as part of EU mission Armenia News

O Canada

Toronto says no to immediate 24/7 warming centres, but will study the idea further CP24

Toronto police board approves proposed $48M funding increase despite criticism CBC

Biden Administration

Half of Americans Say They’re Worse Off, Most Since 2009 Bloomberg

Soul on Ice The American Prospect. On now-former secretary of labor Marty Walsh.


New York’s Plan for Mentally Ill Homeless People Is Not the Solution, Expert Says MedPage Today

Police State Watch



Our Famously Free Press

PATRICK LAWRENCE: The Press Reckoning on Russiagate Consortium News

Rail Workers Tried To Warn Us the Ohio Train Derailment Would Happen The New Republic

Rail Companies Blocked Safety Rules Before Ohio Derailment The Lever

Infrastructure, Safety, And Equity: A Conversation With Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg Forbes. From Feb. 2. Buttigieg: “We’re having new conversations about safety resources that we haven’t seen when it comes to public transit, and haven’t seen in a very long time when it comes to rail, airports, and seaports.”

Class action lawsuits filed against Norfolk Southern for East Palestine derailment WKBN

Class Warfare

Hyundai in talks with U.S. Labor Department over Alabama child labor Reuters.

The good and the bad of Iowa’s bill that would bring big changes to child labor laws Des Moines Register

Local businesses teaming up to fight school lunch debt Dakota News Now

Gig Companies Are Manipulating Their Workers. Dark Patterns Laws Should Step In NYU Journal of Legislation & Public Policy


A robot’s $100 billion error: Alphabet shares tank after its ChatGPT rival makes a mistake in its very first ad Fortune

How Big Tech rewrote the nation’s first cell phone repair law Grist

The Bezzle

Crypto Bank Whack-A-Mole Dirty Bubble Media


Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Toshiro_Mifune

    How America Took Out The Nord Stream Pipeline
    Wow. Big news, from Hersh no less. Surely the NYT will be covering this with the attention it deserves. Let’s just head on over and check the headlines ….. Hmmmm….. odd. Not a mention on the front page. Why would they do that? It couldn’t be that they’re trying to bury it… could it?

    1. The Rev Kev

      Nothing on the news here in Oz. Instead they put up a bs story of how Putin was directly responsible for supplying the missile that shot down MH17 but gee willikers, the guy has immunity because he is the leader of a country. Somebody in comments termed this “chaff” and I think that that is a perfect description for this type of story.

    2. Stephen

      From Lambert: “Nothing on the front pages of the Times or WaPo. Odd!

      The ending in “Three Days of the Condor” comes to mind.

        1. Ignacio

          One of our favourites (Mrs and Mr at home). Recently shown in a Spanish public channel. Concur with Stephen.

    3. jo6pac

      I don’t see anything at npr & pbs either. I can’t imagine why? I’m sure they’re doing some fact checking;-)

    4. ChrisFromGA

      One angle I haven’t heard about pipeline sabotage is the amount of methane it must have spewed into the atmosphere.

      Surely this “side effect” of the operation must have been known to Blinken, Biden, and the other blob members. Methane has a very strong greenhouse effect, much greater than CO2, albeit it flushes out of the atmosphere more quickly.

      Making this a global crime against the environment. Impossible to prove it, but deaths may have resulted in the extreme weather (and more extreme weather to come.)

      1. anon in so cal

        The methane release was discussed. Blinken, Biden, and the blob don’t give a rats about climate change.

        Plus, fracking, liquifying, transporting natural gas from the US to the EU releases massive quantities of greenhouse gases.

        “If U.S. LNG exports increase as projected, this industry alone will generate 130 to 213 million metric tons of new greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the United States by 2030, equal to the annual emissions of 28 to 45 million fossil fuel-powered cars and enough to reverse the 1 percent per year decline in total U.S. GHG emissions measured during the past decade.

        As this report shows, exporting LNG would undercut the goal of holding warming at or below 1.5° Celsius. It will also have devastating effects on frontline communities. The United States should instead prioritize clean energy investments, both at home and abroad.”

    5. pjay

      Hey, to be fair, Business Insider covered it. Here’s their headline:

      – ‘The claim by a discredited journalist that the US secretly blew up the Nord Stream pipeline is proving a gift to Putin’

      Seems some “discredited journalist” is a Putin puppet. Nothing new here.

      The story is actually worth reading for its laugh-inducing unintended humor – as most of these stories are today.

      1. fresno dan

        Uh, it was Hersh who reported the US blew up Nord stream, i.e., the credible (and incredible) journalist The discredited journalists (rumor mongers -Russiagate) are at the NYT and WP…

        1. wilroncanada

          Response by the Norwegian Foreign Ministry: We have been contacted by this US media giant, ‘The Inciter,’ and have responded that the story is nonsense. As to our alleged involvement, we are looking for the allegator, to justly punish him justly, demanding he cross-country ski the length of the country while dragging 100 barrels of oil to port.

    6. Aumua

      the problem is that Hirsch is preaching to the choir here. While you and I may have little doubt that some version of this is exactly what happened, if he wants to convince the average Joe and/or force the mainstream media to pay attention, he’s going to have to come with more than “my single unnamed source said this is how it happened”. He’s giving them more than they need to keep ignoring this.

  2. PlutoniumKun

    We were promised smaller nuclear reactors. Where are they? MIT Technology Review

    This article is basically a press release for NuScale. There is nothing new about NuScale – they are basically the same as the mini reactors powering nuclear subs around the world – they are small, compact light water cooled systems. The reason why all commercial nuclear reactors are very big is because they are more efficient that way – it is the only way they can come close to being cost effective (that, and dodgy accounting). NuScales reactors are, like all small water cooled reactors, very inefficient – their claimed advantages are all around the arguable advantages of modular design, which is another way of saying they hope to get the cost down if someone orders thousands of them. Plus, they generate even more waste per MW than conventional reactors according to a Stanford report outlined in New Scientist last year.

    Also, the claim that each one sits on a small site of 65 acres – this is about half the size of the UK’s Magnox reactors of the 1960’s, which were far more powerful and sat on sites of around 100-150 acres. I recently walked around one (Holyhead, Wales) and it was surprising just how small the site was. It was a 500MW plant on a site of around 150 acres. So this is hardly a selling point.

    If modular reactors can be made even close to price competitive with conventional thermal plants they have a real future. But they will not be a NuScale design, they will probably be some type of molten salt or helium based pebble bed reactor. But they’ve been around for half a century or more and still nobody can make them even viable for military use, let alone commercial use.

    1. jefemt

      Need some good old ‘capita;list’ socialism to privatize the gains and socialize the costs. Congress did NOT make a declaration stopping this pttern of behavior.

      Encourage all to read up on the salt reactor problem in Simi Vally CA in the late 50’s.

      “…captured federal agencies…” Say it ain’t so!?!

    2. wendigo

      The thing about the helium based reactors is they operate at very high temperatures to increase their efficiency. The materials and systems required have little long term testing experience or are still in development.

      What is more likely are reactors similar to the GE Hitachi 300 MWe water cooled reactor. Large enough to be cost effective, smaller to be more easily constructed.

      I think of it like the fridge in your home.

      The newer high efficiency fridges that are lucky to last ten years or the 40 year old fridge in the basement that is still working.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Helium reactors have been around since the 1950’s. The UK Magnox reactors used helium.

        The GE Hitachi 300 unit is just a simplified version of older GE boiling water designs that didn’t work very well in the first place and they are now trying to flog a supposedly cheaper stripped down version. Only the Estonians seem interested in them and their one is scheduled to be ready by 2028, which in nuclear terms means it might produce some energy around 2040.

        1. wendigo

          The Magnox used co2 at a maximum outlet temperature of approx 410 C.

          The newer proposed reactors are to use outlet temperatures of 750 to 900 C.

          The 300 unit is a simplified version of a boiling water reactor, the 2nd most common operating design, you can find a list of the operating ones here, labelled as BWR.

          There is some interest outside Estonia.

    3. Jabura Basaidai

      wondering what the difference is between the modular reactors used by the navy since the early 60’s and NuScale and others are proposing? confused by your assertion,”…they’ve been around for half a century or more and still nobody can make them even viable for military use…” – are you saying there are no nuclear subs?

      1. PlutoniumKun

        I was referring to the non-light water reactor designs. There has been one submarine built on an alternative design – the Russian Alfa sub, with a lead-bismuth reactor, but that turned out to be a dead end.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          Yup. Its notable that even though they have sub reactors, the Chinese are powering their new aircraft carriers with good old diesel. Even by military standards they are hugely expensive to operate.

      2. cfraenkel

        The Navy’s current set of nukes requires an extremely highly trained cadre of operators. That makes this class of designs a non-starter for “low-cost”, semi-rugged uses. Just think of handing the keys to a current Navy powerplant to a typical barely passed HS Marine grunt.

    4. Ranger Rick

      As I hear it, the main advantage here is that the reactor can be shipped complete to its destination rather than built in-situ over several years. This saves several dozen regulatory reviews (and prevents opportunities for “concerned citizen” lawsuits).

      1. PlutoniumKun

        The principle behind the NuScale reactor – and a similar Rolls Royce design – is that through modular construction they can bring the costs down. And they have a point – well designed modular systems in construction can consistently be delivered cheaper than one-off designs and the costings tend to be more consistent (in other words, they are more likely to cost what is originally estimated). This is fine, so long as you get the design right. If you get any modular part wrong, then instead of one reactor down, you have all of them down.

        But the problem with modular light water reactors is simple physics. Bigger reactors are more efficient. This is why all thermal plants, whether nuclear or coal or other are built as big as possible. Nobody builds modular coal powered plants for a very good reason. The thermal inefficiencies outweigh any construction cost benefits. As the New Scientist link I posted indicates, its not just about energy outputs, its also about waste. Small modular reactors produce more of it per MW.

        So a modular reactor, to be commercially viable, needs to be a fundamentally different design from the light water reactors that have dominated nuclear energy for the past half century. There are plenty of potentially promising designs. The problem is, they’ve been promising designs for decades and still nobody has brought them to anything close to commercial viability, despite billions invested by both private industry and governments all over the world (especially for military purposes).

        Modular reactors are like fusion – always a decade away from reality as they have been for decades. Even if a prototype is built and run successfully, it will take a decade or more to gear up construction and get all the required approvals. Thats too late.

      2. Paradan

        One of these two things is a lie.

        1.15-20% of the cost of building a reactor is financing. Delays caused by regulatory requirements, and various excess bureaucratic complexities increase the cost of financing. If you finance them with direct 0% loans from the treasury, and have the DOE form a dedicated well-run reactor construction corps, you can drop the price 15-20%.

        2.This is totally possible in our political environment today.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          Regulatory delays do produce significant financing costs because the costs are generally minuscule compared to capital construction costs. This is precisely why there are so many ‘proposed’ power stations around the world while so few of them get built. Its cheap to put together a proposal and hire some designers and consultants to get the ball rolling – usually much less than 5% of final costs. Actually building something is orders of magnitude more expensive, which is why so many development schemes of so many types never actually get started. Ask any consultant (engineering, architecture, planning, marketing, land purchasing, etc) in the development area what percentage of schemes they worked on got built in the end.

          Large scale capital financing is only released when ground is broken on a site. The big financing costs start when the first payments are made to contractors and keep on increasing until the structure starts generating income. This is why wind and solar are so profitable – there is a very short period between getting contractors on site and the first income coming in (often less than 6 months).

  3. PlutoniumKun

    China’s hypersonic triad pressing down on US Asia Times

    It’s worth noting that all three of the weapons listed in this article are not in fact hypersonic weapons as usually understood. They are ballistic missiles that achieve hypersonic speed on descent – which is something the V2 could do 75 years ago. There have been missiles like this around for decades – manoeuvring ones since at least the 1960’s.

    The problem with hypersonics is that precisely the characteristics that make them so hard to defend against – their speed and the electromagnetic plasma effect generated against a super high speed object – also makes them very difficult to use accurately. They cannot use IR or microwave radar guidance, and it is technically very difficult to guide them externally. And they have to be accurate as they cannot carry big or complex payloads (basic physics). This is why ICBMs or missiles like the Kinzhal are almost entirely dependent on GPS or inertial guidance. This is fine for attacking a fixed target if your warhead is big enough (or is a nuke), but hitting a moving target like an aircraft carrier is a different thing entirely. If you want some form of homing missile, then it has to be ‘relatively’ slow. This is not a problem if its stealthy or manoeuvrable enough to avoid defences.

    The Chinese missiles are only a threat to the US Navy if they have perfected the kill chain necessary to guide them to within a few metres of a moving target that is trying its best not to get hit. The Chinese are working very, very hard on this, and may well have succeeded, but its anyones guess if it works in reality. Thats the crucial technology, not the missiles themselves which are relatively straightforward to build. Focusing on the missiles themselves is a mistake. They do, however, make for good scare stories and will no doubt allow the Pentagon to shake down another few tens of billions from the US Treasury, which is usually the point of this. Its good for the military, its good for Raytheon shareholders, and its good for China, so everyone wins. Well, except for everyone else.

    1. digi_owl

      > its good for Raytheon shareholders

      Quite a few who may be congress critters, or related to same…

    2. Lex

      An aircraft carrier doesn’t move very fast nor is it very nimble, so I would think that guidance set from say an aircraft launch would be enough to hit a carrier in most cases. I admit that i didn’t read the article so I don’t know if it’s a hyping of ICBMs as technically hypersonic or the concept of a hypersonic glide munition launched from an ICBM, which is problematic since it will look like a potential nuclear launch. In general, I agree that hypersonics are really about fixed targets and programmed flight paths. I’d assume that the main Chinese strategy against carriers would be to overload the group’s air defenses with large salvos and maybe some fairly near-range launches of airframe mounted hypersonics similar to Kinzhal.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        If the Chinese believed they could take out aircraft carriers with hypersonics they wouldn’t be building their own aircraft carriers of a similar design and scale to the USN.

        By a coincidence, the reliable Military Aviation History channel has this very good primer on hypersonics (although typical of such channels recently its taken a very anti-Russian stance).

        1. NN Cassandra

          If the Chinese believed they couldn’t take out aircraft carriers and other ships with hypersonic missiles, they wouldn’t be manufacturing hypersonic missiles for taking out ships in the first place, no?

          Perhaps they see it as another tool in arsenal, not invincible, but useful against lesser adversaries. And it can be useful against US too, if it sends couple of those to Taiwan, China can park theirs in front of Guam, Hawaii or even California to help Washington think more clearly about if they really want to send the aircrafts to bombing raids.

        2. Polar Socialist

          Well, by the same logic countries with good anti-tank weapons wouldn’t be building tanks, or those with great anti-aircraft systems wouldn’t be building fighter or bombers. Or those with brilliant mine-clearing devices wouldn’t be using mines.

          And yet they are.

          Carries do have their niche, even if there were weapons that can sunk them. It’s noteworthy that Indian and Chinese carriers use STOBAR, so their the airplanes they launch have to compromise with fuel or weapon load, or both. They are more for providing air support for navies than projecting global striking power.

          In time of crisis on South China Sea the carriers are certainly harder to find than the artificial islands are. And no other country in the area (South China Sea) has carriers or hypersonic missiles, so they do still serve as a deterrent.

          1. PlutoniumKun

            Well, countries still build tanks precisely because they know anti-tank weapons are not that effective in real world situations and can be countered successfully, as the Russians and Israelis have demonstrated. Which is exactly my point. Hypersonics are a strong deterrent against carriers, but so are submarines and torpedoes and ASM’s and stealth weapons and sea mines and swarm tactics and anything else you can come up with. But China’s expenditures show clearly that they think the best counter to carriers is…. carriers. They are spending a vast sum on what appears to be a fleet of full sized carriers (although it should be said that there are whispers that they are having second thoughts). You either have to assume that they are being very stupid, or that they have looked carefully at the balance of power and technology and believe that carriers will still be a key weapon into the middle of the century at least. Incidentally, the French think so too, and they are famously very cautious about where they put their military cash. Not to mention the British, Koreans and Japanese (albeit with smaller more versatile flat-tops).

            There is of course an element of momentum to defence expenditure. The battleship era went to the bottom of the sea with the Prince of Wales, but all sides still kept building them until the end of the war. It may be that it will take a carrier going down to change everyones minds.

    3. ACPAL

      When I looked into this 30 some odd years ago a proposed solution was to flow cold nitrogen gas over the optical sensor in the nose cone to prevent ionization distortion. I’m sure there have been some improvements since then. I wouldn’t rule out on-board terminal guidance systems just yet.

      P.S. I wasn’t always a potato farmer.

  4. Steve H.

    > Loofah-inspired gel purifies contaminated water with warmth of the sun New Scientist

    >> Xiaohui Xu at Princeton University and her colleagues call their material a loofah-inspired solar absorber gel. It is hydrophilic when cool, meaning it readily absorbs water, but becomes hydrophobic when warmed by the heat of the sun and begins to release water. Because the gel only absorbs water and not contaminants such as oils, metals and microplastics, the released water is purified.

    The ingredients are simple and readily available. The proof’s in the pudding, so we’ll see, but on a first pass the potential is very high, with emergent possibilities. Could scale from individual use to large industrial. Cooling? Fixed place irrigation? I’ll follow this.

  5. Milton

    Ukraine ‘can count on France to win this war’, Macron tells Zelensky in Paris France24 The Onion

  6. FreeMarketApologist

    Re: “We were promised smaller nuclear reactors.

    The MIT article goes in heavy on the science and development, and only casually mentions the capital cost, which is somewhere in the $50-60MwH range. I read an article last night in a power company magazine (*) which noted that costs appear to be closer to $90-100MwH. The claimed promise of nuclear was always ‘electricity too cheap to meter’, and this has yet to play out for any nuclear generation at any scale.

    There may be some place for these sorts of installations, and more diversity on the power grid is probably a good thing, but it ain’t going to be cheap.


    1. The Rev Kev

      Maybe they can build a fleet of nuclear submarines but without the weapons and front end. Then have them dock at major ports where the electricity generated can go into the local grid.

      1. Milton

        From Quora:
        1968, the USS Enterprise was in dock at San Francisco Naval Shipyard at Hunters Point. Saboteurs (rioting criminals) destroyed a main electric switching/distribution station that fed San Francisco.

        The skipper of the Enterprise called up the Mayor and the head of the electric company and told them to line up for power distribution from the Navy shipyard. We had one (out of 8) reactors on-line to provide ‘ships service’ electrical power. The reactor was running about 15% of full load. When the “powers that were” threw the switch, the Enterprise reactor went all the way up to 35% of full power.

        Newspapers and News reporters on TV reported that the city was being supplied electricity via a nuclear reactor on the ship. People were calling the mayors office and the news stations complaining that there was Nuclear Radiation coming out of their light fixtures and TV’s.

        The Enterprise supplied the entire city for a week or so until the distribution station was repaired.

        Several years later, after a hurricane in Hawaii, Honolulu was supplied electricity via a submarine tied to the pier at Sub-Base Pearl harbor.

        1. FreeMarketApologist

          There you go! Now add a few million $$ to the Kwh cost to pay for the campaigns to counter the disinformation that will be circulated about radioactive electrons that leak out of outlets and appliances.

          A big plus of shipboard reactors is that it is easy to cool them with water. Not easy for these small units out in the hinterlands.

  7. The Rev Kev

    “U.K. Commits To Training Ukrainian Fighter Pilots, Many Questions Remain”

    The media are talking about giving the Ukrainians ‘wings for freedom’. It would be better to send them a coupla container loads of Red Bull instead. So this is a sign of the collective west yet once more doubling down and upping the level of weapons that they are giving the Ukrainians, even though the Ukrainians have been reduced to grabbing 16 year-olds for their army. Boris Johnson is demanding that the UK give virtually their entire weapons inventory and as Zelensky is about due in Brussels, I am sure that those countries will double down as well. But it seems strange that the UK is offering F-16 training as that is one aircraft not in their inventory. From recent history, I would say that the UK has been made the point nation for support for the Ukraine. Thing is, I would not be surprised to learn that this commitment creates chaos in the training of their own pilots. But I doubt that these pilots are for the present conflict. There are hints that the west wants to freeze this conflict like in Korea so that they can rebuild the Ukrainian military to go at the Russians again. Trouble is the Russians have already said that they are not going to play that game.

      1. paul

        I think rishi is just cock a hoop that there is another political giant just as tall as he is, maybe even richer too!

      2. Bart Hansen

        I prefer the photos of Dukakis in a tank. Search on ‘Dukakis in a tank images’

        He really did not look all that bad, but the MSM went to level 10 hysteria.

      3. Paradan

        Bush had a bigger bulge. He could probably play a kettle drum or something to accompany Zelenskisha.

    1. Polar Socialist

      it seems strange that the UK is offering F-16 training as that is one aircraft not in their inventory

      Have not seen the money on offer for anything relating to supporting Ukraine?

      You take a platoon of recruits and train them for a week for counter-insurgency operations on a team level, then they get to sent to Bakhmut meatgrinder while you get to collect your check.

      I’m sure the check is much bigger when you train fighter pilots. Even if you don’t have the fighters in questions – that’s not the point of the training.

  8. Wukchumni

    I hear the agent for the seven deadly sins
    And a NATO arming binge came to call on you
    The bigger they are babe
    The harder they fall on you
    And we’re always the same we persevere
    On the same old pleasure ground
    Oh and it never rains around here
    The money comes pouring down

    You had no more volunteers
    So you got war profiteers for to help you out
    With friends like that babe
    Good friends you had to do without
    And now Putin’s taken out the chains and the gears
    From off your grid merry-go-round
    Oh and it never rains around here
    The money comes pouring down

    And our new romeo
    Wasn’t a stand up comedian when he let us down
    See the faster they are babe
    The faster they get manna out of DC town
    Leaving made up claims and the tears
    Of a clown
    Yes and it never rains around here
    The money comes pouring down

    Oh you were just a roller coaster memory
    I don’t know why we were even passing through
    We saw you making a date with destiny
    When we came around here asking after you
    In the shadow of the wheel of fortune
    You’re busy trying to build your fame
    You say ‘I may be guilty yeah that may be true
    But I’d be lying if I said I was to blame
    See we could have been a major contender
    We got mo money mo breaks’
    You’ve got a list of all the major offenses
    You got a list of all their major mistakes
    And he’s just standing on the shadows
    Yes and you smile that come-on smile
    Oh I can still hear you say as clear as the day
    ‘I’d like to make it worth your while’

    Ah but it’s a sad reminder
    When your proxy has blown through all the money sent
    And all you’ve got to give him
    Is the use of your propaganda tent
    Yes and that’s all that remains of the year’s money
    Spent on artillery rounds
    And it never rains around here
    Well the money comes pouring down

    Now you know what they say about beggars
    You can’t complain about the rules
    You know what they say about beggars
    You know who’s the first to blame his tools
    We never gave a damn about who we (family blogged) up
    And leave lying bleeding on the ground
    You screw people over to your way of tinkering
    Because we thought that we were never coming down
    And he takes you out in vaudeville valley
    With his green shirt smothering your screens
    And he takes you down a 1-way alley
    In the capital city of broken dreams

    It Never Rains, by Dire Straits

  9. t

    Always been, shocked – shocked I tell you! – that delivery app algos are unable to alert someone when a “driver” using a refillable Trakphone works 24 hours a day for weeks on end (because the driver is a household who work back to back shifts with mom handing the phone off to dad, who then hands it off to junior, who hands it off to sis, who hands it back to mom….)

    So weird their technology can monitor every little detail about delivery drivers but miss this.

  10. The Rev Kev

    “Exclusive: US sanctions preventing Syria from receiving aid – FM”

    Washington is refusing to allow any aid to go into Syria as they see this as an opportunity to crush Syria even more and further prevent any reconstruction in that country. The Syrian Red Crescent and Christian leaders are asking for sanctions to be lifted to get aid and medicine into Syria but DC is not budging. I have to say that the TV media here in Oz covering the earthquake in Syria is verging on the bizarre. The past coupla night there have been stories of the White Helmets rescuing trapped people. But they are an Al Qaeda PR unit that only operates in Idlib province which is run by Al Qaeda wannabes. They also talking about the difficulty of getting aid into Syria but what they are actually talking about when you see their map is getting aid into only Idlib province – and they still manage to blame the Syrian Government for this. These are the sorts of things that get me to say many unkind words to those news presenters who probably know better.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Glad to hear that countries like India are manning up. It will be interesting to see how many Arabic countries do the same. As for ‘under international law humanitarian aid is not subject to sanctions’, that is quite true. But not under a rules-based order.

        1. Lex

          Egypt thumbed its nose at US sanctions to such a degree that it sent 3 C-130’s to Damascus with aid. Not just breaking the sanctions but breaking the specific sanction of using a “US supplied” airplane to do so.

    1. Partyless poster

      What’s really disgusted me is that the MSM has not mentioned the sanctions once while showing US aid workers going there to help.
      (Turkey I’m assuming)
      Which really amounts to lying plain and simple.
      Must never ever show the US in a bad light, even when our boots are on their necks

  11. WobblyTelomeres

    re: Spy Balloons

    Any malign actor with the capability of launching several tons of ball bearings into orbit is capable of initiating a Kessler crisis. If one nation-state is presumed to control the high ground, aka space, then taking the high ground off the table in this manner is a logical act to a combatant. US, Chinese, and Russian agents have already demonstrated their abilities. See:

    In the event of space systems being rendered unusable, surveillance balloons will be an important factor. We cannot allow a [Buck chomps gum] surveillance balloon gap.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Didn’t you hear? The balloon had “antennas”. What strange technology are these “antennas”? I bet they even had a barometric pressure sensor.

    2. digi_owl

      “we do not know who started it, be we know we were the ones to blacken the sky”.

      Sad what was done with the franchise in order for WB to get a forth movie…

  12. Wukchumni

    Drought may have doomed ancient Hittite empire, tree study reveals Guardian
    Without the array of reservoirs and collection possibilities, the wicked 3 year drought in Cali similar to what befell the Hittites would have emptied the state.

    As it was, without the amazing series of atmospheric rivers hitting us, and February looking plenty dry, a 4th year of drought might have been the hammer blow, but no.

    1. The Rev Kev

      I was reading that article when I came across an interesting bit where it said ‘The Hittites were also challenged by not having a port or other easy avenues to move food into the area.’ Never thought about it before but during a catastrophic drought, so long as you have access to drinking water and the sea you should be right. Drought or not, the sea should be a source of food for your population so perhaps ancient Greece with their extensive coastlines for example might have fared better.

        1. Mildred Montana

          Just wait for the mother of all “fallen civilizations” stories: The End of the Age of Oil. Our civilization’s two centuries of easy, comfortable, and prosperous living off oil is about to come to a coda in about thirty years, barring a miracle of some sort.

          The story of it will of course be told. Book or movie, you’ll find it in the “Apocalypse” section. The question is, Will the traumatized survivors be in any mood to read such books or see such movies? Probably not, excepting the slim number of masochists among them.

          Therefore the much more numerous feel-good books and movies about saviors bearing miracles will be immensely popular (as saviors and miracle-mongers always are in hard times) to satisfy the longing of people to return to the good old days of cheap plentiful oil. That’s just human nature, and therein lies the problem. It’s not in our stars, it’s in us.

          Sorry for the gloomy comment. I blame it on Ozymandias.

  13. Cetra Ess

    Ok, so it’s been days now since the US scored its air victory over a balloon, they’ve had lots of time to inspect the thing, what’s the verdict – is it a surveillance or weather balloon? Or has the compliant and captured media been instructed not to ask?

    1. Altandmain

      I’d say the most likely outcome was that it was just a weather ballon. If it had been a spy balloon, it would have been all over the media by now.

    1. Chas

      What a wonderful video. I don’t think the boys knew their new friend was an otter who wouldn’t hurt them. I knew someone once who had a pet otter.

  14. Terry Flynn

    Google ChatGPT mistake unsurprising to me and is certainly explainable (even if the ACTUAL reason is something else) via a weakness I highlighted in these AI/machine learning/whatever programs in one of Lambert’s pieces. To the extent that these algorithms are Bayesian, they can quickly and efficiently “climb the hill in the likelihood function” and with some tweaks it’ll be Everest, not K2. Trouble arises if K2 happened to be half a world away. Bayesian solutions can (in worst case scenario) be very accurate….. And completely wrong.

    Getting “just” a single fact wrong is all too easy since “highest mountain” without some idea of the context of the questioner might lead to focusing on that Hawaiian one (biggest distance from base to summit) or the one in South America (stands on the bit where Earth gets “fat” so has “furthest point from Earth’s core”). When you need context in much more complex situations it gets exponentially worse.

    The program first of all needs human input via theories (of how all sorts of questions might not be amenable to some kind of easy search and that EXPERIENCE-BASED context is vital) ; also theories of how humans choose between options and how they make mistakes. The latter led to an old friend, now working in linguistics and machine learning, to seek me out in a professional capacity since my “old fashioned” way of doing choice modelling (essentially sampling all over the world map in tandem with human guidance) might be best (though certainly not “most efficient”).

    Bottom line is that these chatbots can’t “do” context without human guidance. We would still need the old boomy grail of genuine artificial intelligence that has learnt like a kid, before these could really do the job.

    1. cfraenkel

      The mistake that cost the megabuck valuation hit wasn’t the robot’s, it was the hubris of the Alphabet marketing and exec team that didn’t bother to fact check their own PR fluff piece.

  15. pjay

    – ‘Administrator Samantha Power to Travel to Hungary’ – USAID

    “Administrator Samantha Power will travel to Budapest, Hungary from February 9-10 to build on the United States’ long-standing partnership with the Hungarian people. USAID recently relaunched its work in several countries in Central Europe, including Hungary, where programs support independent Hungarian partner organizations working to protect the rule of law, strengthen democratic institutions and civil society, and support independent media.”

    “During her visit, Administrator Power will engage with Hungarian civil society and other leaders, independent journalists, young people building the future of Hungary, and the U.S. Embassy staff who work every day to deepen our partnership and collaboration with the Hungarian people.”

    LOL! “Rule of law.”, “Democratic institutions.” “Civil society.” “Independent media.” The “people.” At this point I don’t think it is even necessary to comment. Your move, Viktor.

    1. ChrisFromGA

      Seen in the back of the Budapest Times newspaper:

      Help Wanted: Food taster. Must speak Hungarian, and be willing to take on high-risk assignments. Reports directly to the office of Viktor Orban.

      Benefits: Full dental coverage, 401k, and free gourmet meals!

      1. Bart Hansen

        Good one!

        Also, it’s certain she will be up to no good, probably dealing with some of the NGOs that have been, or will be, set up there and with various dissidents.

    2. flora

      re: “USAID recently relaunched its work in several countries in Central Europe, including Hungary, ”

      From this long distance it looks like P and RU understand soft diplomacy much better than the US. Does the US use soft diplomacy anymore?

  16. Wukchumni

    Warehouse boom transformed Inland Empire. Are jobs worth the environmental degradation? LA Times
    The inland empire was already SoCal’s favorite place to send smog, whats a little more environmental degradation in the scheme of things, and think of the possibilities of housing the homeless once the great internet game goes awry?

  17. Cetra Ess

    re: the Hersh story

    That it’s single sourced doesn’t bother me because that’s the nature of the thing. And what about the fact the MSM uses single anonymous state sources all the time, so….

    Someone like Hersh would check the source, verify they were actually employed as they say, in the claimed capacity and in the correct timeframe. Those disparaging Hersh obviously don’t mention this aspect but it’s the first and essential step in corroboration, right? A list of people currently employed by the orgs in question, when asked, said “yup” and confirmed the source was indeed employed and/or present. Without this, there is nothing.

    And this source is highly placed to have been in or adjacent to so many of these conversations and decisions. If it were a low level person it would be difficult to corroborate.

    And clearly the whole thing is supremely unethical, the damage to the environment alone is staggering, the economic damage as well, so no surprises if there are Snowdons within the ranks on this one.

    So it lines up very neatly.

    1. IMOR

      What we/he has to look out for is the single source still along enough for the ride to plant one large misstatement or fib, by omission or commission, to allow deniability (“Hey, it wasn’t me or just me: I wouldn’t have made that one error / had no way of knowing that one fact”) and plant a hook on which to attack Hersh’s accuracy.
      My candidates would be a) the delay/timer mechanism (‘It was more difficult, left less training time, we didn’t want to use it – but that’s what we did!’) or b) the existence of an entire second team, whether from the Navy dive specialists or elsewhere, who were actually used so that a member of the team examined/revealed in Hersh’s piece can step forward later and truthfully say, “Yeah, we trained for something like that, but quite close to our go date, we were told it was off, stand down. Mr. Hersh has been misled.”
      Hope not, but it’s happened before.

    2. albrt

      What strikes me is that after all this time, no one else has a plausible alternative explanation.

      Hersh is the firstest with the mostest, and nobody else appears to be trying. That is probably the strongest corroboration of Hersh’s story.

        1. albrt

          Moon of Alabama has done a great job on this, but I don’t think his quibbles undermine the Hersh story much. The fact that a U.S. vessel eminently suited to the mission hung around Bornholm and could have done more work after BALTOPS doesn’t really contradict the Hersh story.

  18. GramSci

    Re: Patrick Lawrence / Russiagate

    «These people, behaving as if they were Dominican inquisitors,…»

    God is dead, and the Fourth Estate has assumed the role of the First.

  19. Ghost in the Machine

    The Baffler article on the insane, but interesting future ruin (if any of it gets built), is pretty good as usual for the magazine. But, there is this line:

    “On occasion, this status quo can be challenged, as evidenced by those firms who have ceased their Russian projects as Putin and his cronies continue their imperial misadventure in Ukraine.“

    First, I doubt the firms had a choice. Second, even publications like the Baffler can’t conceive (or admit) that the US and others might have had a significant hand in starting this mess. Yep, Putin , embodiment of irrational evil. No reasons that he might have repeatedly stated plainly. Maybe he hates our freedom. In my life I have never seen this amount of uniformity. Jeffery Sachs, Elon Musk, Roger Waters, and Tucker Carlson are it for mentioning, maybe, there are other interests? Really? Ramping up WWIII? Reading Guns of August, you are always thinking ‘fools!’ but here we are again. Progress is a myth.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      It was a strange line to insert in an otherwise good article (by Kate Wagner, of McMansion Hell fame). Especially as no names are mentioned – from what I know, very few non-Russian architects have been active in Russia for the past couple of decades as it has plenty of its own pretty good designers, although of course most of the big names were quite keen to get a cut of the action in the former Soviet States when oil prices were higher.

      Wagner could have pointed out that there are thousands of architects who have opted out of being corporate bottom feeders by working for government agencies, or housing associations, or any number of less glamorous outposts of the building and design industry. Every day I walk past the public housing designed by Horace Tennyson O’Rourke, Dublin City architect in the early 20th Century and his senior designer, Herbert Simms. The city didn’t have much money, but they still made sure that housing for the poorest had dignity and not a little beauty. I’m sure neither of them made too much money compared to the Zahid’s or Fosters of the architecture world, but for me they leave a better legacy.

  20. Mikel

    “Half of Americans Say They’re Worse Off, Most Since 2009” Bloomberg

    “…Americans tend to expect their finances to improve rather than worsen.

    “If this optimism holds and consumers act accordingly, it may help to minimize or avert an economic recession,” Gallup’s Jeffrey Jones wrote in the report…”

    If delusions hold, people will keep borrowing to buy things they can’t afford.
    I guess saying it that way isn’t very confidence fairy inspiring.
    It’s also like the Jeffrey is saying “if we ignore a recession, it will go away.”

    Because the cost of living inflation that is excluded from the official BS stats keeps these economists from having to talk about the reality.

    1. flora

      2009. The subprime mortgage game implosion. The Great Financial Crisis. None of the big banks’ CEOs went to jail, they didn’t even lose their jobs. They were bailed out. At the same time O set up the HAMP mortgage refi program which “foamed the runway” for the banks. Thousands lost their homes after enrolling in the HAMP program.

    2. griffen

      There is deluded optimism, and then there is stark reality. Deluded optimism emanates near daily from our White House, and several times per week the tweets of the official POTUS account are vomit inducing. Yeah, jobs report. Yeah, inflation is lower.

      As I commented over breakfast this morning with a former colleague, it’s the way of life in 2023. Up is down, less bad is good. Our economy is strong, comrades! And a bonus thought or conjecture, what looms for inflation of raw materials when Mayo Pete starts the flow of funds from the Infrastructure Bill passed in 2021? Inflation of labor inputs, for another.

  21. Wukchumni

    This winter is shaping up to be the kind of season that skiers and riders dream about. Mammoth Mountain, which has clocked more than 500 inches of snow at its summit so far this season, is currently “the snowiest place in North America.” Palisades Tahoe’s upper mountain is just shy of 400 inches, according to Kirstin Guinn, the marketing director of the North Tahoe Community Alliance.

    “Ultimately, this has been one of the best skiing winters in memory,” Ms. Guinn said.

    “We’re expecting to be skiing well past Memorial Day,” said Lauren Burke, the communications director of Mammoth Mountain Ski Area. (NYT)
    The amount of snow in the city of Mammoth Lakes is extraordinary-20 foot walls everywhere…

    I was informed that snow shovelers clearing off roofs of frozen white stuff were making $100 an hour, and help was coming from the Central Valley and SoCal to get ‘r done.

    Was watching the action on top of the roof of our rental condo and 5 Hispanic fellows were clearing it off with no ropes or harnesses and a 30 foot fall if you fell off, yikes!

    1. Kurtismayfield

      Meanwhile the East coast is horrible. There has been very little natural snow this year, and the base has very little coverage. It’s going to be a short winter out on the right coast.

      1. semper loquitur

        I just read that NYC’s recent snow, which I saw exactly 35 seconds of (I counted), broke a 50 year record for late snowfall. It usually starts in January.

  22. antidlc

    I didn’t watch SOTU and I don’t watch MSNBC, but Rachel Maddow said this:

    Dr. Lucky Tran
    “A 1000 people in that room. I have to say, I know this is wrong, but it does give me the ughs a little bit to see the average age in that room & then to see precisely one mask in the entire room”

    Thank you @maddow
    for rightfully calling out the lack of masks at #StateOfTheUnion

    Video at the link.

  23. Carolinian

    File under Nothing New Under the Sun.

    Perhaps the closest model for the blind support American admirers are currently according Zelensky, though, was the attitude that Americans (especially conservatives) displayed toward Angolan rebel leader Jonas Savimbi. Between the mid-1970s and the early 1990s (especially throughout Ronald Reagan’s administration), numerous political and media figures advocated greater US support for Savimbi’s National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) and its insurgency against Angola’s leftist government. In the process, they overlooked or concealed their “democratic” client’s massive flaws.

    Okay a little new

    One key difference between the naïve support of Americans for Savimbi and the equally naive support for Zelensky is that the earlier episode was rather partisan. Conservatives were much more inclined than their liberal counterparts to back Savimbi. The current willingness to ignore Zelensky’s obvious abuses and continue portraying him as a champion of democracy is worse, since it is staunchly bipartisan. By the early 1990s, the evidence of Savimbi’s real nature was indisputable, and his embarrassed American supporters became very quiet. One wonders how long it will take Zelensky’s fans to accept reality and at least implicitly acknowledge that they have made a similar blunder.

    If the NY Times continues to exist then never.

    1. pjay

      Interesting analogy. It also works because, as with Angola, most Americans knew nothing about Ukraine, had little interest in it, and so whatever thoughts or feelings they had were shaped by the dominant mass media narrative – evil commie USSR (or their Cuban proxies) becomes evil authoritarian Russia against poor little democratic Ukraine.

      I remember well the Reagan administration attempts to do this for the Contra “freedom fighters” as well, but that didn’t really work. They were too close, too many people in the US were knowledgeable about the situation, there were still some authentic progressives (or at least anti-fascists) in Congress, and many progressive activists on college campuses, etc. Certainly none of this is true regarding the Ukrainian situation today.

  24. Jeremy Grimm

    “The coming existential threat …” Doctorow:

    “…look for an escape hatch!”
    “Either … there will be an anti-war movement in the USA, in Europe arising from … coming kinetic war between NATO and Russia, OR failing that, it will be every man for himself.”

    “All of us in the Northern Hemisphere now may be facing the same existential choice” [like the choice that faced the Jews living in Berlin in 1937 — stay or flee].

    The u.s. had extensive large scale anti-war movements during the Vietnam war years and a large anti-war movement prior to the first invasion of Iraq but neither appeared to have much effect at altering u.s. war policies. I think that leaves making arrangements for a move to Patagonia.

    1. Offtrail

      The Vietnam antiwar movement did have an effect. It kept President Lyndon Johnson from running for reelection, and forced Nixon to promise an end to the war. The Iraq antiwar movement was much smaller, both in the number of bodies at rallies and in it’s overall impact on society. No doubt the prowar media climate had much to do with that.

    2. digi_owl

      The Vietnam protests were more anti-draft protests.

      And the Iraq invasion protests petered out soon after the statue came down in Bagdad and the whole thing shifted to “rebuilding”.

  25. JustAnotherVolunteet

    BALTOPS 22: A Perfect Opportunity for Research and Resting New Technology (sic)
    Posted on June 14, 2022 by Seapower Staff

    “In support of BALTOPS, U.S. Navy 6th Fleet partnered with U.S. Navy research and warfare centers to bring the latest advancements in unmanned underwater vehicle mine hunting technology to the Baltic Sea to demonstrate the vehicle’s effectiveness in operational scenarios.

    Experimentation was conducted off the coast of Bornholm, Denmark, with participants from Naval Information Warfare Center Pacific, Naval Undersea Warfare Center Newport, and Mine Warfare Readiness and Effectiveness Measuring all under the direction of U.S. 6th Fleet Task Force 68. “

  26. Grateful Dude

    re “right to repair” and Big Tech: Is it possible that the Governor in NY can sign something into law that is different from the bill passed by the legislature? Can she just make s**t up? For real?

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