Links 4/20/2023

Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch Is Bursting With Life WSJ

Bacteria Are Eating the Titanic Discover

A Japanese Island Where the Wild Things Are NYT

An elephant living in a Berlin zoo learns how to peel a banana CNN. Curiously, when I searched for the headline at NC to make sure I wasn’t going to post a dupe, this from 2016 came up, the single hit: “Nassim Nicholas Taleb: How to Own a Slave.” Hmm.

5 citizen scientists of the 18th and 19th centuries NOAA (LawnDart).


These laws have formed a foundation to fight climate change World Economic Forum

Insect Farming Startup Raises $175 Million for Food Expansion Bloomberg. Filed next to WEF for obvious reasons.

What Makes People Act on Climate Change, according to Behavioral Science Scientific American

Should we study geoengineering a lot more? Peter Singer, Bangkok Post (Furzy Mouse).


Greenland’s melting ice could be changing our oceans. Just ask the whales NPR

Striking before-and-after satellite photos show the great California snowmelt underway LA Times

The 100-year-old mistake that’s reshaping the American West Vox

Mekong River: Turning declaration into actions Lowy Institute


Singapore in the middle of COVID-19 wave, about 30% of cases are reinfections: Ong Ye Kung Channel News Asia. Worth a read for Ong’s idiocy, so much like our own. Truly, the PMC is international! (After all, they went to the same schools….)

Avoid gatherings, wear masks: Govt advisory amid Covid case spike Indian Express

Hanoi requires face masks in public places DTI News. The image, of course, is of a “baggy blue.”

* * *

Back to the future: Redefining “universal precautions” to include masking for all patient encounter Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology. The Abstract: “Despite recent guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) allowing institutions to relax in-facility masking strategies and due to our evolving understanding of respiratory pathogen transmission during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, we propose an updated standard for universal precautions in healthcare settings: permanently including universal masking in routine patient-care interactions. Such a practice prioritizes safety for patients, healthcare providers (HCPs), and visitors.” From a professional journal, so in future no Hospital Infection Control administrator that demasked their hospital can claim ignorance. Pay attention, lawyers.

* * *

SARS-CoV-2 breakthrough infection induces rapid memory and de novo T cell responses Cell. “Our study demonstrates that a rapid and extensive recall of memory T cell populations occurs early after breakthrough infection and suggests that CD8+ T cells contribute to the control of viral replication in breakthrough SARS-CoV-2 infections…. Although unvaccinated and vaccinated cohorts show similar peak viral load after infection, vaccinated individuals exhibit accelerated viral clearance in the upper respiratory tract (URT) beginning 4 to 6 days after symptom onset.”


China ramps up construction on new Antarctic station: Report Channel News Asia

Container oversupply risk looms over China with empty containers at ports Hellenic Shipping News

The Dilemma of Foxconn Moms: Social Reproduction and the Rise of ‘Gig Manufacturing’ in China (abstract only) Critical Sociology. “[C]hanging dynamics in the realm of social reproduction makes Foxconn workers, especially women with children, constantly struggle between work and the family. Working together, these factors have led to extremely high turnover rates, bleak prospects for labor solidarity, and the rise of ‘gig manufacturing’ in China.” I wish people would stop thinking of China as socialist, let alone communist. As we see here, the Chinese working class is dealing with China’s own version of capitalism, which Xi’s decision to throw them under the bus with “Let ‘er rip” also shows (despite Xi’s knowledge that Covid is airborne, the time bought and squandered for systemic non-pharmaceutical intervention with Zero Covid, and Xi’s utter failure, despite knowing that Covid is airborne, to mandate improved ventilation, which no country was better placed to execute than manufacturing powerhouse China. Is Xi no better than Biden? Perhaps worse?).

US cannot store arms in Philippines to defend Taiwan, Manila says in ‘friends to all’ policy South China Morning Post


‘Profit from the coup’: Myanmar ethnic rebels welcome pro-democracy fighters Channel News Asia


Four charts map Gautam Adani group’s debt pile, reliance on global banks for funding Times of India

Adani’s Next Big Test Is Pulling Off a $3 Billion Slum Revamp Bloomberg. Fan service?


Great, but:

Dear Old Blighty

King Charles’ coronation cross will include fragments believed to be from Jesus’ crucifixion FOX. Oh.

The Davis Downside Dossier Yorkshire Bylines. A compendium of Brexit downsides.

New Not-So-Cold War

How Long Should Ukrainian Forces Defend Bakhmut? Lessons From Stalingrad Modern War Institute

Ukrainian tank operators go through ‘condensed’ Leopard tank training course in Poland France24. Morituri te salutant. I mean, honestly. Why invest a lot of time?

This is the stupidest timeline:

* * *

Ukraine agitates to keep EU bid on Europe’s mind Politico

* * *

The Other Georgia Welcomes You WSJ. The deck: “… intrepid travelers head to the remote highlands …”. Other recent articles: Reuters on Georgian dumplings. NYT on “Dad planning a family trip” to Georgia. Plus a Harris visit and “huge community solar deal.” Softening us up for a color revolution to come? “We Georgians understand that dumplings are Freedom, and besides, they deserve a Protected Designation of Origin from the EU, which we will join after victory.”

Biden Administration

As Fears of Banking Crisis Surged, Members of Congress Sold Bank Shares NYT

Spook Country

Pentagon docs allegedly leaked by Jack Teixeira reveal at least 4 additional Chinese spy balloons: report NY Post. Well, you don’t want to leave any remaining potential for hysteria about Chinese spy balloons un-ginned up. Think, people!

Hearing for military document leak suspect Jack Teixeira delayed AP:

The person also told the FBI that Teixeira switched from typing out documents in his possession to taking them home and photographing them because he “had become concerned that he may be discovered making the transcriptions of text in the workplace.”

That’s different from what posters have told The Associated Press and other media outlets, saying the user they would call “the O.G.” started posting images of documents because he was annoyed other users weren’t taking him seriously.

Yves and I discussed the case. To understand the, er, story, it’s critical to keep an iron grip on the exact provenance and exfiltration of the documents. And here we have a major discrepancy. Also, Teixeira has not entered a plea.

Read the criminal complaint against Jack Teixeira NYT. From last week, still germane. I’m not sure this clarifies much. Case number: 23-4293-DHH.

Why a junior US guardsman had top secret access Agence France Presse. “Teixeira ‘was a systems administrator, so he was a computer specialist that worked in an intelligence unit,’ US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told journalists in Sweden on Wednesday. ‘Part of his responsibility was… maintaining the network that they operate on.'” Two days a month? Was he logging in from his Mom’s basement?

Teixeira’s Intel Unit Ordered to Halt Mission After Discord Leaks Time. The deck: “The U.S. Air Force says the intelligence unit at the center of one of the largest national security leaks in modern history has been ordered to halt its mission.” “One of the” is doing a lot of work. Bigger than Snowden? Bigger than Wikileaks? Bigger than the Pentagon Papers? Really? (Every single one of these “leaks” had either no or salutary effects on U.S. interests, BTW, very much including Teixera’s.)

Lambert here: I know the world is messy and not always consistent, and I don’t want to get too foily, but I really think the showrunners need to be working harder on this one.


Motive in Nashville shooting remains unclear weeks after 6 people were killed at a Christian school NBC. Commentary:

Common mistakes, uncommon reactions in 3 separate shootings AP

Fake 911 Calls About Active Shooters Are Hitting More Schools WSJ

Digital Watch

Google’s Rush to Win in AI Led to Ethical Lapses, Employees Say Bloomberg. Google?!

With Bedrock, Amazon enters the generative AI race TechCrunch

Digital identities might be the best way to prove who you are online TechCrunch. Ugh. Thanks, AI. An innovative and disruptive new “service” from the creeps and spooks in Silicon Valley, I suppose. Like an arsonist selling water at the fire they set.

Zeitgeist Watch

I Really Didn’t Want to Go Harper’s (IM Doc). The deck: “On the GOOP cruise.”

Imperial Collapse Watch

Militarism and the Coming Wars MR Online

Economists We’ll Be Talking About: Wassily Leontief Building a Ruin

Beyond GDP: Three Other Ways to Measure Economic Health Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis

Class Warfare

‘We may be looking at the end of capitalism’: One of the world’s oldest and largest investment banks warns ‘Greedflation’ has gone too far Fortune. From early this month, still germane. Prices rise because firms raise them…

Poverty in the U.S. should be considered a ‘major risk factor for death’ — and is associated with more fatalities than guns or homicides, study finds MarketWatch (tegnost). Tegnost: “Well, knock me over with a feather…” Lambert; “Everything’s going according to plan!”

Sand and Civilization (excerpt) Delancey Place

New Map of Dark Matter Validates Einstein’s Theory of Gravity Gizmodo

Antidote du jour (via):

This is the Hour of the Wolf News!

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


      1. britzklieg

        I have it on good authority that the original phrase was “…own nothing, eat s^#*, and be happy.”

        However, an astute member of the constitutional committee felt that was too obvious. Indeed, in a footnote to the suggested change it was recognized that since the people have been feeding on their bs for decades, the error of redundancy was both stylistically and rhetorically unnecessary while making the point that bugs are somewhat more palatable to a starved imagination.

    1. Wukchumni

      {overheard during insect poetry jam @ the round-up}

      ‘Get along little weevils, you know somebody’s intestines will be your new home…’

    2. caucus99percenter

      1. (Audrey Hepburn voice, in the role of Eliza Dolittle:) “♫ Wouldn’t it be larvae-ly?”

      2. “GrubHub” as the name of a food delivery app turns out to have been a fortuitous choice…

    3. John Hacker

      Looking for insect startups in the US and found mostly Bee works. Satire? Oh ya, cricket flour cookies in SanFran, CA of course

  1. R.S.

    Re : Other recent articles: Reuters on Georgian dumplings.

    Do they plan to join the “Dumpling Alliance”? It’s a weird thing promoted by Taiwan of all people.

    As a response to this new, positive dynamic, the Taiwan Digital Diplomacy Association put forward an idea for a “dumpling alliance,” or an informal online collective bringing together Taiwan and the four donor nations in the spirit of “shared values and love for dumplings.”

    “Freedom-loving people should look out for each other!” tweeted Lithuania’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Gabrielius Landsbergis on June 22nd, 2021, as his country approved donations of COVID-19 vaccines for Taiwan. Thanks to their vaccine donations, Lithuania, together with Czechia, Poland, and Slovakia, gained substantial political goodwill among Taiwanese population and elites.

    Over the past three years, cooperation between Taiwan and these four Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries, dubbed the “Dumpling Alliance” by the Taiwan Digital Diplomacy Association, gained recognition both within and outside Taiwan as a European vanguard that has increasingly frequent interactions with Taiwan.

    1. Wukchumni

      I’m 2/5ths Dumpling by heritage, and growing up in LA I thought everybody ate bread dumplings with meat meals & my favorite only in season was breaded plum dumplings which were covered and then boiled for awhile and served with confectioners sugar sprinkled on top, yum.

  2. The Rev Kev

    “Ukrainian tank operators go through ‘condensed’ Leopard tank training course in Poland”

    In that short film they omitted something what just happened with those Ukrainian trainees in Poland. One of their tanks hit another and climbed it causing, well, the images show it all. This is what happens when you cut corners in training–

    1. timbers

      In an earlier post Simplcius has a video of captured Ukraine soldier sharing his experience with 2 US Manpads: The first “broke” while they brought it out of the vehicle, the second they could not figure out how to use and so they consulted the instructions but no one read English, then consulted the internet for videos that might help to no avail. They ended up discarding the 2 at the side of the road and went about their business. Just the picture of the manpad looked mentally exhausting. Maybe it was and older model, it wrapped around your shoulder and neck and seemed quite cumbersome.

      1. digi_owl

        Some of them can become quite elaborate indeed. Likely because they work by having the operator keep the sight on the target, and using a laser or wire to direct the missile towards the calculated intercept point. Best i can tell the missile itself is housed in a tube that is replaced between launches.

        And some of the bulk likely comes for trying to make it able to survive being handled by young men high on adrenaline in rough terrain.

  3. KD

    “Teixeira ‘was a systems administrator, so he was a computer specialist that worked in an intelligence unit,’ US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told journalists in Sweden on Wednesday. ‘Part of his responsibility was… maintaining the network that they operate on.’” Two days a month? Was he logging in from his Mom’s basement?

    System administrator is an enlisted gig, TS SCI probably takes a couple years, but if you enlist at 18, you should be clear by 20 if there are no red flags, and he could be on active duty orders rather than drill. At the same time, you have to wonder wtf was going on that he was able to print, or obtain prints, smuggled out of a secured area, and photograph them without anyone noticing. The issue is not OMG how could a 21 year old do this, its more a question of whether he was acting alone or if there was some kind of conspiracy (if there wasn’t, that means the security is pretty pathetic). Either way, someone else should be going to jail for either assisting, or being asleep while it was happening.

    1. Yves Smith

      I haven’t said this in so many words, but you are correct, the idea that he had help is the tidiest explanation. My buddy who has over Top Secret clearance and does IT/analytical work at the DoD is extremely skeptical that Teixeira could have found these docs, separate from the question that this level of access seems unlikely to have allowed him to get at them w/o additional approvals.

      1. Alex Cox

        Lee Oswald had top secret clearance, too – at Atsugi AFB in Japan, and most likely later, at the MI photography firm Jaggers Chiles Stovall.

    2. ambrit

      Re. “Was he logging in from his Mom’s basement?”
      He could well have been logged in from Hillary’s basement.

      1. fresno dan

        Well, I don’t know how you Americans do it, but when I received radio communications from Putin on my commie pink rabbit eared bunny slipper antenna in my mom’s basement, we used a a special decoding device – to parapharase what Lenin said, “Ovaltine will sell the decoder rings with which we decode the messages of conquest by sponsering the Pairie Home Companion…”
        The method, simple in concept, but elaborate in scope and nefarious in purpose, accomplised undermining the 2016 election by introducing the meme, Hillary sucks. Of course, without this disinformation, not thought of by one legitimate republican, the democrats would have won the election and ALL senate, house, state, and municipal elections.

        1. ambrit

          All hail the marks of Lenin!
          Ralphie, is that you? You almost did shoot your eye out, if that Capitalist exploitation of your working class upbringing is true to life.
          The earlier Super Secret Spy Decoder rings were from Little Orphan Annie, a Proletarian Heroine if I ever heard of one! Curiously, they also used Ovaltine as the Sign of Authenticity.
          I keep my Pink Bunny Slippers in the Faraday cage underneath the bed.
          I always remind my interlocuters that: “You may not worry about the NSA, but the NSA d–n sure worries about you!”

      2. Henry Moon Pie

        Or given the quality of her network’s security, he could have logged into her basement if he wanted.

    3. albrt

      Former national guardsman here. Don’t put a lot of weight on the 2-day-a-month inference. Guard facilities have full time employees, and when things need to get done outside weekend hours they can offer shift work to the weekend people. I was an infantry grunt so not much of that gravy trickled down to us, but I’m pretty sure the intelligence unit did not just leave their computers turned off for 28 days and then walk in on drill weekend and boot them up at 8:00 am.

      I also remember from the early days of this leak story, something along the lines of Texiera’s mother saying he had been picking up extra shifts.

      1. LawnDart

        I went from active-duty to the reserves, and the job that I carried-over to the reserves sure wasn’t 2x a month–it was 2x a week, when slow.

    4. nippersdad

      “The issue is not OMG how could a 21 year old do this, its more a question of whether he was acting alone or if there was some kind of conspiracy…”

      I am eagerly awaiting the new revelations from the NYT that Texiera had been meeting Boris, Natasha, Vladimir and a couple of other Russians on a rented sailboat in Nantucket sound for fishing expeditions……Printer ink has been found on the breakfast table.

  4. zagonostra

    >Container oversupply risk looms over China with empty containers at ports

    Maybe some of those containers could solve the homeless problem in the U.S. Actually the one featured below I would move into.

    1. digi_owl

      I suspect it would run afoul some regulations regarding modular homes that i saw some discussion of elsewhere recently.

      That said, years back they used such containers to set up what was supposed to be a temporary stopgap for a lack of student housing in Holland. But the student union petitioned for it to be made permanent.

    2. je

      Used (one-trip) containers cost $5K in Austin. No windows, thin steel, cargo doors, leaky roofs after couple of years.

      Nice aluminum-panel based tiny homes cost around $9K (based on the vendor for TOOF in Austin, TX). Have windows and doors. 25 year lifespan.

      All the other stuff costs a lot more (plumbing/utilities/permitting/land/civil engineering).

      The group I work with is going put up 40 units and some support building for around $750,000 all-in. $18K/unit.

      Containers don’t really work for living space at any density.

      1. ambrit

        Modular buildings have been around, commercially no less, for decades.
        One such company was Panelfab, from the 1960s. My Dad worked for them in Miami for a few years.
        The Miami version of the company built mainly Public buildings in the Global South.

      2. TimH

        Do you have links for further info on the Austin build? Looks really interesting. Everything goes to common sewer lateral?

      3. IanB

        Je – what is the group you’re working with? That sounds like something desperately needed here in Front Range Colorado, and possibly even something that might get through zoning. Any information or links to the project would be appreciated.

      4. dday

        I read recently that a Japanese business is producing small one room apartments, around 100 square feet, and renting them for $375 per month.

        I think this model would work well here in Tucson.

        I’m thinking 12 by 12 outside dimensions, with a sleeping loft about four feet high. Use 2 by 6 stick frame construction, go 10 feet high. So maybe an R-25 for walls, R-50 for ceiling. All electric, window AC, hydronic baseboard heater. Might need a fan for air exchange.

        Use real appliances, not the dorm refrigerator and a regular electric stove, small bathroom.

        So a tiny house, but I envision stacking maybe ten together, five backed up to five. Add a five foot front porch, one door, one window.

        Looking to rent them to students, singles of all ages, for around $300 per month.

        Main impediment is zoning.

    3. Carolinian

      Our local state park plopped a container with windows and a door down in the woods as a kind of test project rental cabin. Painted red, it looks bizarre. Still, Chinese take note.

  5. digi_owl

    As i understand it, present day China is a bit of a mix. There are laws and such that predate communism. Some villages are still run in a collectivist fashion. While places like Shanghai and Shenzhen are set up as “special economic zones”. Never mind that Shanghai was “special” even before WW2, as Beijing was reluctant to set up a zone for them.

    1. Democracy Working Someday

      I have a good friend in FL who has been involved with Uhuru for ~40 years. She told me right after the FBI raids that in the course of running a candidate for local government in St Louis the APSP had revealed municipal corruption to the extent that it led to resignations and prosecutions. From her perspective, this is all vengeful (and disproportionate) retaliation against this tiny left-wing organization for daring to engage in community organizing and meddle in electoral politics.

      I remember that in the 80’s I thought my friend’s radical views were extreme, and her view of the lengths our government would go to suppress dissent exaggerated. I argued with her then, agree with her now.

      1. Janie

        Haiphong’s interview with Pepe Escobar a couple of days ago, describing Moscow, was excellent.

    2. britzklieg

      Growing up in St. Pete and before the name change, Joe Waller was a well known activist who ripped down a racist mural in 1966 from a wall at City Hall. They’ve been after him ever since:

      One should note that the above article (2020) is about the current location of the mural with nary a word about the activism behind its removal.

      Omali Yeshitela is now 81 years old. Go get him, boys…

      1. Bsn

        Good call. However, “they” could likely arrest Joe for destruction of property. But, if Joe stands in front of the mural and shouts obscenities at the top of his lungs, that is “free speech”. In fact the original case that birthed the phrase “you can’t yell fire in a crowded theater” – lost. The shouter was not detained because shouting in a theater is free speech (unless you shout “Go Yankees”). Tom Paine is turning in his grave!!!

  6. zagonostra

    >UK police arrests French publisher from work trip in London over anti-Macron protests in Paris

    Ah yes, all in the name of stopping terrorism…

    In a bizarre incident, two plainclothes Scotland Yard detectives stopped a well-known French publisher as he was on his way to the London Book Fair in Kensington and questioned him about his involvement in anti-government protests back in his country…Moret was reportedly stopped by ports officers and questioned for six hours under terrorism laws

    Seems like pension reform protest have disappeared as a news worthy subject. Yet protest go on, as Macron gave a speech a couple of days ago millions took to the street with pots and pans which reminded me of a scene from “Network.” Also Macron was pelted with an egg that made good contact and to cap it all off a lady gave him a good slap in the face which, to my mind, beat the shoe thrown at Bush the junior.

  7. Jeff Stantz

    Re: “Poverty in the U.S. should be considered a ‘major risk factor for death’ — and is associated with more fatalities than guns or homicides, study finds”

    I know a guy who lives in his car and he has bipolar disorder, it is all in his family as well, does not do drugs and does not drink. I do what I can to help him, which is not much, just some cash and coffee, but he lost his apartment DURING COVID when he was kicked out of the ADU he was living because the family was afraid of catching COVID from him. Nice neoliberal bunch they were. =^/

    He gets disability but says the stress of being homeless is making him much worse and he recognizes it. The doctors said he should “up his medicine” to which he replied; “If I had a place to live I would not need more medicine”.

    In this same town I see people cheering on Biden for helping Ukraine and lamenting about the lack of “healthcare” for Trans people while they exchange how much the price of their houses are going up and riding $3000 bicycles.

    It is just so cruel.

      1. digi_owl

        Reminds me of something i heard about regarding sailors (though i suspect farmers would also see much the same dynamic).

        While he was away on a ship, she would tend the house and kids. And part of that involved racking up quite a bit of debt with the local merchant. So the first thing that was done (hopefully) when he came back, and collected his pay, was to settle that debt.

        I think a big difference this time round is that back then the merchant didn’t charge interest on the debt, while this modern system is very much credit card debt under a different name.

      2. Wukchumni

        A year ago I was in line to pay @ Grocery Outlet, and they only do debit cards & cash-no credit cards, and the lady in front of me had $113 worth, and attempted $90 on her debit card, which was declined, so she lowered it to $65 and Success!, combined with her fishing $28 out of her purse to pay for the rest, that is after spending minutes pondering what not to buy with the $20 discrepancy and have the cashier exclude them from the total.

        I know for a fact that after she left the store, she had a net cash worth of around twenty bucks to her name.

        How many are living that close to the razors edge?

        1. JBird4049

          I have had this fun experience more than once. It is a bit embarrassing.

          But yes, trying to decide what you are able to eat that week while at the cashier’s stand is also stressful. I also wonder just how many are living that close especially when they certainly have other stresses. Hungry children for example or sick family, friends, and acquaintances needing their help.

          Some thoughts of mine. Just because someone is buying food does not mean that they will be the ones eating. Even a narcissist might skip eating if the food goes to someone they care about. Or giving some portion of their money to them to buy the food.

          I understand things like SNAP benefits are used to get the cash needed to get other near essentials like soap and detergent. The fake angst by some over how people use their benefits ignores the lack of ready cash the poor have; just giving the needy straight up cash would be better than SNAP benefits because it makes managing their finances easier as even when you have enough funds on paper, it does not mean you have enough liquid funds in the real world.

          Really, housing vouchers, food stamps, and some of the other benefits are nice, but money for transportation, laundry, and toiletries is also important. Too bad just giving the money to the needed or healthcare or decent public transportation (and affordable gasoline, buses don’t go to the sticks where the “cheap” housing is.) But the poor are losers, aren’t they? Make them beg, while jumping over the hoops to prove that they are the “deserving poor.”

      3. Jason Boxman

        It’s been 4 to 6 months since I’ve seen any mention of bread lines at the NY Times; The suffering of the common folk in this regard has been entirely erased as near as I can tell. But there’s

        Emergency food providers feel the crunch of rising costs amid inflation

        Like Gleaners, Forgotten Harvest, a food rescue organization that distributes around 144,000 pounds of surplus food per day to local charities across Metro Detroit, has also seen an uptick in demand for food assistance in recent months.

        According to CEO Adrian Lewis, the organization has seen a 17% to 23% increase in the number of individuals served per month over the last six months. In February, the organization served 135,783 individuals and 54,984 households, compared to 94,029 individuals and 43,278 households during the same month last year.

        And soon we might have a Biden-session.

        1. ambrit

          I know for a fact that a regional grocery chain donates their no longer salable produce to local homeless shelters. I believe it is a tax write-off. So, instead of lowering the price to sell it on to the lower levels of the customer base, Management “maximizes shareholder equity” through this scheme. What is curious here is that the grocery chain does no PR about this. Hmmm….
          Paging Mr. Zelnicker. I found the following concerning charitable contribution tax deductions for businesses. Will it cover produce? Thanks in advance.

          1. John Zelnicker

            Good morning, ambrit. Hope y’all are doing well up there.

            Yes, I believe the company can deduct its donations of food to the local shelters, assuming it’s a regular C corporation, not an S corp.

            At a minimum the company should be able to deduct the cost of the produce it donates (up to 10% of taxable income).

            There is a paragraph at the bottom of the article about Inventory. The company may be able to claim the cost of the produce plus 50% if the donation goes to certain charities. Homeless shelters would seem to qualify.

            This supports your contention that it is more profitable to donate than to lower the retail prices. I’d like to know if the stores are actually marking up the produce by 50% in the first instance. Groceries are a very low margin business that only work due to quick turnover. Marking up produce by 50% seems like it would be difficult for competitive reasons.

            1. ambrit

              Thank you. I know not what the mark up is, since my “informants” are not at that level in the organization. However, I do note that “retail inflation” continues apace in the grocery aisles.
              I am wondering if a steady retail inflation has been “normalized” in the shopping public by now. Spontaneous complaining about prices has dropped of from the angst apogee attained last year.
              My eternal search for MacIntosh apples is it’s usual sporadic quest. Three weeks without shipments, though they have been ordered, has us suffering the pangs of apple pie withdrawal syndrome.
              Stay safe there by the Bay. Glad to read that you are using the Corsi-Rosenthal boxes to improve your environment.

          2. zagonostra

            Down in FLL a Catholic Church, has a table out every Tuesday with boxes of expired day old bread and bagels from a Publix grocery store that’s just a block away. I noticed last time I walked by, that the boxes seem to emptying more quickly.

            1. ambrit

              One of my “sources” who works at one of the local help groups mentions the same thing. Demand for services is noticeably up while available resources are down.
              Around here, the dominant bakery company runs a stand alone Day Old baked goods store. Appropriately, it is located next to the poorest section of our fair metropolis. A very popular place it is. Alas, I have not been there in over a year.

    1. Pookah Harvey

      Two headlines in today’s Bloomberg:

      More Americans Are Losing Their Homes as Foreclosures on US Properties Rise

      The Repo Man Returns as More Americans Fall Behind on Car Payments

  8. Terry Flynn

    Re Singapore lack of covid surveillance. Given what NC has uncovered/emphasized regarding downgrading of official monitoring, I’m hesitant to say the article is wrong and there is a fair degree of monitoring. However, my anecdote, from doing govt funded work there c2013, and explained in great detail as to why they INSIST on a lot of surveillance, does not square with the “forgetaboutit” narrative.

    Singapore is run by the minority Chinese diaspora (installed by the Brits). They always knew they had to ensure the majority (Malay muslim) original population aren’t disproportionately affected by health policy. I was told this in no uncertain terms when I had to stratify my health study by ethnic group, when I knew it was (in that case) either of no, or of marginal significance.

    I’m just wondering if Sg authorities know……or are coming to know….. More than is let on. I’m very suspicious of the idea that they aren’t interested in how the 4 official language groups (broadly mapping to ethnic groups) might be differentially affected. For instance if one group naturally mask up more that’s definitely gonna have effects that the govt can’t ignore indefinitely without affecting their delicate power balancing act.

    1. bonks

      The old Singapura was indeed mostly fishermen of malay/bugis/javanese origins, but modern day Singapore is 75% Chinese and 15% Malay.

    2. SocalJimObjects

      “Singapore is run by the minority Chinese diaspora”. 75% of Singapore’s population is Chinese. Malays make up around 13.5% of the population. The percentages haven’t moved a lot in many many years, it’s one of the reasons Singapore was expelled from the Malaysia Federation, because it would have made the Chinese the majority in the Malay archipelago.

      1. Terry Flynn

        Apologies, misremembered the stats. But doesn’t change the fact that all research funded (ultimately) by govt is highly sensitive since the “Chinese are only running the show” due to the Brits and their “relocation policies””…. I was instructed to pay particular attention to effects on Malays.

  9. zagonostra

    >New Map of Dark Matter Validates Einstein’s Theory of Gravity Gizmodo

    Dark matter is a catch-all term for the stuff that makes up about 27% of the universe, but it is not directly observable. We only know it’s there, whatever it is, because of its gravitational effects.

    Yet only 5% of the mass of the universe is “ordinary matter” and the majority, up to 68%, is “Dark Energy” so says my ChatGPT.

    I think “light” has it’s work cut out for it.

    1. JP

      They didn’t map dark matter. They mapped an effect of posited dark matter. There may well be no dark matter but physicists will have to come up with another emergent fundamental for any other explanation. So no matter how silly they will look at some future date they are all sticking with dark matter for the moment even though there has so far not a single such particle been found.

        1. JP

          late in the day reply.

          Dark energy has to do with models explaining the accelerating expansion of the universe.

          Dark matter has to do with the missing gravitational component holding galaxies together.

          They could both be misnomers waiting for a better definition.

  10. The Rev Kev

    ‘Mark Hamill
    Apr 16
    It was a pleasure meeting with the brave Ukrainian drone operators. We talked about the challenges they face on a daily basis, but they also wanted to talk about Wookiees & farm boys & droids, oh my! Show your support here:
    #SlavaUkraini 🇺🇦’

    So a stack of people called him out on this and, just like a neocon, he doubled down-

    ‘Mark Hamill
    I have no idea what that flag signifies. My support is simply for Ukraine over the Russian invasion. PERIOD.’

    If Mark Hamill doesn’t know what that flag means he should use the Force – or Google. PERIOD.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      If Hamill made such an obvious mistake, what other mistakes might he have made? Given Americans ability to find Ukraine on a map, it’s a good bet Hamill belonged in the group locating it around Lichtenstein because it’s one of those funny euro names.

      “PERIOD.” is so cowardly, but you can’t unassociate with Nazis (I guess Orsen Welles met Hitler, but he’s a masterful story teller). Gee Mark, you bathe in Star Wars fans drool, you didn’t pick up on the symbols?

      1. Mark Gisleson

        He’s just speaking the way his handlers tell him to speak. Once he gets back to Hollywood, Rob Reiner can sit him down and explain it all to him before sending him out to bundle more donations for Hillary.

      2. .Tom

        Why are we assuming this is a dumb mistake? Maybe Hamill is attracted to violent enthnc-supermacy politics.

    2. JohnA

      Plus, drone operators are not on the front line, so brave is a stretch. On the other hand, it can be psychologically extremely stressful and damaging to watch yourself remotely killing/maiming other people and then reflecting on this later as you lie in bed at night.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Maybe this article will interest you then and no, I am not making it up-

        ‘Residents of Washington DC looking for highbrow entertainment will soon be able to watch an opera about the home life of a “hot shot” drone operator sponsored by one of the US’ largest weapons companies.

        ‘Grounded’ premieres at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts this October, according to a recent announcement on the theater’s website. With music composed by Jeanine Tesori and based on a 2013 play by George Brant, the opera tells the story of “Jess,” a “hot shot F-16 pilot” who finds herself unable to fly due to an unexpected pregnancy.

        Jess is reassigned to pilot drones in Afghanistan from the comfort of a trailer in Las Vegas, and “tracks terrorists by day and rocks her daughter to sleep by night.” The story examines “what’s lost when technology distances us from the horror of war? And what price is inflicted upon the operator of a lone drone in a blue sky?” according to the theater’s website.’

        Brought to you by General Dynamics.

        1. Wukchumni

          I grew up on MAD magazine and Spy vs. Spy was a favorite, now it’s AI vs. AI, which is proving itself on the battleground in a way not dissimilar to the proving grounds of the Spanish Civil War for then newfangled weapons of war.

        2. LawnDart

          What price? Maybe the price of psychological or moral injury? Especially when you find that you were on the wrong side and that the real bad-guys are half-a-world away from your drone and sadly, far, far out of the range of the Hellfire missiles.

          Maybe there will be sequals, and Jess tries to put wrong to right: we see a large, homebuilt drone flying south above Chicago’s wealthy PMC northern suburbs, a hundred-feet above Sheridan Road, turning above Lake Shore Drive; moments latet, when it’s at North Avenue Beach, against the skyline of the Magnificient Mile, a missile is launched in the direction of Hyde Park just at the exact moment that the opening ceremonies of XYZ Center are underway…

          I’d pay good money to see that flick.

          1. JBird4049

            I understand PTSD tends to be more severe when one does the killing from a distance, completely safe, and/or you believe you are on the wrong side; this kind of PTSD often hits people years or decades after their war. The older one gets, the more developed your conscience is and having family, or even just living a life, makes any evil you did when younger really hard to deal with.

            I have seen and read of veteran Japanese, Germans, and Americans dealing with it. Sometimes successfully and other times, not. Decades ago, I saw a documentary of the Vietnam War and an interview of a veteran who participated in the My Lai Massacre whose body was slowly shutting down a few decades afterwards from the guilt. No physical injuries, but still dying from his emotional or mental injuries. I’m guessing the interview was a form of atonement.

            Some of the readings and video was painful to see because they were in as much pain as if they had been shot; just how does one deal with the guilt for a warcrime? We are going to be dealing with effects of the current and recent wars for a long, long time.

            1. LawnDart

              Obviously, reactions and responses to what may be a traumatic experiece will differ from one individual to the next, and certain experiences should not be experienced by anyone– an opinion that differs from the prevailing one that’s demonstrated by the actions of our ruling-class.

              We need to find a way to pry the psychopaths off the levers of power, or we’ll soon be beyond screwed– on that, I’m sure you’d agree.

            2. digi_owl

              I seem to recall reading that during the Obama years the US military had a crazy attrition rate of drone pilots, as they got mental whiplash from sitting at the controls for a work day and then go back to dinner with the family.

              And i think there is a long history for soldiers struggling to adjust to civilian life after a tour abroad. Some end up turning right around and accepting another tour in order to cope.

              And the situation likely has gotten worse now that travel is maybe a day or two by plane, rather than weeks by boat.

    3. Dr. John Carpenter

      It’s not just that Hollywood is stupid. It’s that they don’t want to think. (It’s also been pointed out how ironic it is that Hamill doesn’t realize that the US is the Empire, to put things in Star Wars terms.)

        1. Chris Smith

          I’ve never seen Hamill and Nuland together at the same place and same time. Has anyone else?

    4. Carolinian

      Greenwald: no sub-culture is dumber than Hollywood

      Truman Capote once outraged Dick Cavett by saying “all actors are stupid.” Capote, who liked to boast of his 180 IQ, had once written a dismissive New Yorker piece on Marlon Brando. Cavett’s wife was an actor.

      Presumably what Capote meant was that actors are not intellectuals and that’s probably true–mostly. However emotional intelligence is also a thing a good actor obviously needs an empathetic imagination.

      As for Mark Hamill–barely an actor–who cares what he thinks?

      1. Harold

        Cavett’s wife Carrie Nye was a fantastic stage actress. I saw her in Webster’s The White Devil. I wish I had seen her in other plays. There are many kinds of intelligence.

  11. Henry Moon Pie

    Bugs Hollandaise–

    Should we surprised that the Frogs are first adopters of bug eating?

    Two related notes:

    I just watched a French movie, a Netflix production, called “Big Bug.” It’s a satirical comedy in the spirit of “Don’t Look Up” and “Sorry to Bother You” set in the mid-21st century, and is one of those movies that uses allusions to other movies as a source of humor. There are references to “The Jetsons,” “Star Trek: TNG,” “Battlestar Galactica,” “I, Robot” and others in the flick. Social media, the Singularity and AI are among the targets of the satire. And there are bugs for dinner.

    Bug production is a significant factor in the developing computer game “Surviving the Aftermath.” There are even four types to choose from: mealworms, cockroaches, crickets and waxworms. Yummy. The waxworms wiggle all the way down.

    1. ForFawkesSakes

      Please run, don’t walk, to watch that director’s other films. Delicatessen and City of Lost Children are far superior to Big Bug. Delicatessen gets better each year, in the grip of the neoliberals.

      1. ambrit

        Ah, we have a physical copy of “City of Lost Children.” Wonderful film. It somehow reminds me of Wes Anderson’s work.
        Will have to try and get a copy of “Delicatessen.”

    1. Culp Creek Curmudgeon

      I reported here yesterday that this had happened to my link to the Hersh article I had posted on FB.

    2. Kouros

      Today I was permanently removed from the whole reddit because on a topic of some Russian billionaires fighting back against sanctions I observed that no American billionaires are sanctioned for the present US occupation of Syria, for the illegal attack on Iraq in 2003, etc…

      Apparently I was spreading hate…

      But I had it coming for quite some time…

      1. digi_owl

        Reddit seems to be going through death spasms.

        A while back they were hacked and had their user database extracted.

        And now they are copying the post-Musk Twitter playbook and demanding payment for API access. And even if one pay, the APIs will no longer provide access to anything tagged as NSFW. While mostly used for porn, it will also be used for entertainment spoilers, war footage, and other emotional content.

        I guess the VC IV is drying out, thanks to the fed rate hikes, and thus all these former social media “giants” are clamping down on expenses. Because Imgur, the media host that got spun up to fill a lack of service on Reddit, will be banning NSFW content as well.

  12. LawnDart

    Re; Brave drone operators

    I’m pretty sure that Mark Hamill was not referring to the guys and gals who are an ocean away from the action and who operate Predators, Global Hawks, and the like via real-time satallite data-links…

    I was recently watched a video that followed Russian drone operators who, like their Uktainian counterparts, used what are basically consumer-grade drones in an effort to hunt down or locate enemy troops and equipment. And just like the Forward Air Controllers and artillery spotters of previous generations, they’re not doing this from the relative comfort and safety of rear-positions, but often ahead of their own front-lines and in contested or even enemy-held terrain.

    And these hunters are hunted, relentlessly, and killed without mercy, if found. I am surprised at those who don’t think that it takes courage to knowingly put one’s self in such a position; what would you call it if not courage or bravery?

    Publilius Syrus once stated, “He who violates another’s honor loses his own.”

    1. LawnDart

      Sorry about the typos and poor grammar: phone + thumbs + not enough coffee…

      I did almost immediatly catch “Uktainian” after I pressed post, and thought to edit it while I could before thinking better of this: it fits– Uktainian especially fits for a discussion by and of armchair commentary.

  13. Wukchumni

    The 100-year-old mistake that’s reshaping the American West Vox

    In the central portion of the great North American Continent there lies an arid and repulsive desert, which for many a long year served as a barrier against the advance of civilisation. From the Sierra Nevada to Nebraska, and from the Yellowstone River in the north to the Colorado upon the south, is a region of desolation and silence. Nor is Nature always in one mood throughout this grim district. It comprises snow-capped and lofty mountains, and dark and gloomy valleys. There are swift-flowing rivers which dash through jagged cañons; and there are enormous plains, which in winter are white with snow, and in summer are grey with the saline alkali dust. They all preserve, however, the common characteristics of barrenness, inhospitality, and misery.

    Arthur Conan Doyle, in 1887

    …the Great American Desert

    That’s what they called it in the 19th century, and the living wasn’t easy, and now on the Colorado River with dwindling resources tied to the hip in water and electricity generation, the lifeline for the Southwest seems tenuous and surely our first ‘Aquagees’ will emanate from the region, scarred by their experience.

    If they had any savings it’ll mostly be in real estate, and you can’t take it with you, not all that different from what went down @ Chaco Canyon, but then again they left us majestic ruins in the guise of 6 great houses made out of stone and timber when climate change came calling and they split, we’re gonna leave quite frankly, a mess.

      1. JBird4049

        >>>In the American west you can find any number of abandoned western towns which evoke a former life and way of living-

        It is not entirely the weather or water issues. The American Desert is only vulnerable. Some of this depopulation is because of the railroads pulling out, the small local factories going away, and the growing centralization/monopolizing of farming and the disappearance of the family farms. The Walmart Monster is also responsible for destroying the business communities of many of those towns as well.

        The Dust Bowl was not only because of drought, but also very bad farming practices. It is often not the number of people living in an area, but just how do the make their living. Those suburbs are not only stuck into deserts, which likely was going to kill them, but also just how they were built and used. Adobe or good insulation combined with wise water use can make big difference.

        Even today, much of the population could live there, if this was done, but there must be golf courses as if it was Scotland, and it’s air-conditioning only. I am guessing there would be suffering no matter what, however, the Big Desiccation coming from climate change could mitigated a lot. Profit could be made from it! But since even having an industrial or economic policy is considered anti-American, and so, the future will have abandoned housing tracks all over the Southwest.

        1. Antifa

          Down Southwest you can justify $50,000 for geothermal, along with the solar setup to run it free right around the year. Just add it to your mortgage. If your HOA will permit. But that still won’t get you any water.

          I used to do marketing for the man who sold anti-5G lotion online for $15 per jar. Made himself a bundle. He’s currently selling exclusive shares in a private water pipeline from St. Louis to Phoenix. These Powerpoint slides are just amazing.

          1. JBird4049

            Anti-5G lotion? Is my leg being pulled or are some people a bit overcredulous? It’s hard to tell, what with The Onion and the Babylon Bee reading more like the The New York Times, MSNBC, NPR, and Fox News.

            If some serious dude was to walk up to me and offer me the choice between taking a red pill or a blue pill, I might not think he was joshing me.

            But more seriously, I didn’t say all the population could still live in the Southwest and that there was likely to be suffering no matter what. While I could have a really poor understanding of the water shortages to be, I really think that it is already predetermined by our feckless and corrupt business and government interests.

            1. digi_owl

              Basic science education seems to be failing worldwide.

              That said, stuff like this was doing the rounds back when people first got online and started receiving emails. but seem to have kicked into overdrive with social media on mobile phones. Perhaps because one no longer have to sit at a computer to receive it all, but instead get it anywhere and at all hours of the day.

        2. digi_owl

          As i understand it, the idea of farming the prairie was considered stupid by science even back when it was first suggested. But rich dudes smelled fast money, as so here we are.

    1. Henry Moon Pie

      I’ve been to Chaco a few times myself, once at the great Harmonic Convergence. LOL. In my one attempt at a screenplay, the last scene took place at Chaco as discussion turned to human sacrifice and cannibalism. Again, LOL. But then maybe that wasn’t so far-fetched.

      That would indeed be a dark picture of what happens when things go Jackpot.

      1. Wukchumni

        Crop failures & livestock failures are mounting all over the world in a maelstrom of who knows whats next?, combined with voluntary crop failures soon to come when the watery tendrils of the Colorado no longer nourish annual crops, and other cabbage snatch ploys.

        Food still seems plentiful enough, but unlike money you can’t just create it on the QWERTY, and people get cranky when they’re hungry.

        1. Henry Moon Pie

          And of course Wall Street will find ways to make money from it, ways that will exacerbate any real shortages and create some where they would not otherwise have existed.

          1. digi_owl

            The basic short sell at work.

            If i borrowed your car, sold it to someone, then bought it back weeks later and returned it to you, you would think me mad. But that is the basics of a short sell.

            borrow shares you expect to drop in value, sell them, wait, buy them back at the reduced price, return them to the original owner you borrowed them from.

            End result is that Wall Street can make a bundle even on a market in free fall.

    2. Boomheist

      Something else is going on, I think, not yet noticed. We see directly the Colorado River infrastructure system’s collapse – dams and diversions for irrigation starving the system of water, and increasing pressures on demand promising future failure of some kind. That is a water supply issue. But, not yet in the discourse, are the dams and piping systems built to create reservoirs, made with American concrete, not the Roman type of concrete that lasts for 2000 years. All these big dams, built during a frenzy between 1900 and say 1950, first for flood control in New England and elsewhere along the Appalachians and then out west during the Depression for power and irrigation, are now ageing and filling with sediment. At some point all these dams will require enormous work to stay safe, if in fact they can be made safe. Some can and will fail, and collapse. This may not happen for another 10 years, or 50 years, maybe even longer, but just as highway bridges are wearing out, so are the much more massive dam structures.

      1. Wukchumni

        I’ll be trusting Hoover Dam to remain intact this weekend, as we put in about 1/2 a mile below it…

        You’re absolutely correct, even though we made things to last back in the day-there are limits to everything, and we’re reaching the fourth turning as far as Hoover goes, the dam-not the man.

        I heard that one of the first hydroelectric projects in the state will no longer be utilized to provide electricity.

        There’s a flume that transports water from the East Fork of the Kaweah down into the generating station, and the flume was originally made out of Sequoia wood, and is now metal and wood construction and has had numerous failures do to falling rock and whatnot wrecking many sections, and as repairs would need to be done by helicopter and quite pricey, combined with much lessened river flow during the drought, they decided to close it down.

          1. Wukchumni

            You have to walk the flume to avoid a section of MK road that isn’t there anymore at around mile 4.5, and its always been walkable with that wooden board above the water, although i’m not so sure how far you can go, i’ve walked a mile or 2.

      2. Carolinian

        There have been serious proposals that Lake Powell be decommissioned even as nature seems to be doing it for us. If not then, yes, it will eventually fill with sediment regardless of the concrete. We have some local mill dams that are now waterfalls.

      3. JP

        The main problem with modern concrete is the corrosion of reinforcing steel, a tensile element. I don’t know what the compressive strength of Hoover dam concrete is but may well be greater and more consistent then the Roman stuff. The Romans didn’t have reinforcement. They built compressive structures. Kind of like Hoover dam.

        The more interesting thing here is the effect of climate change. I did a “refurbishment” for MWD who pulls an enormous amount of water from the Colorado to pump over the mountains to LA county and others. They were almost impossible to work for. The specifications were pulled directly from the 1935 initial build. They disallowed any re-engineering to incorporate 75 years of technology advancement but insisted on materials upgrades that will keep working for a good 500 years even though the reinforced concrete that supports it and the water will be long gone.

  14. mrsyk

    “Greenland’s melting ice could be changing our oceans. Just ask the whales.” The bedtime story tonal quality of the headline (and NPR in general) makes me want to hit the bong.

  15. zagonostra

    >Biden’s DOJ Indicts Four Americans for Their Political Views on Russia

    There was a good discussion of the implications of this by Max Blumenthal on the a live stream of the Jimmy Dore show last night.

    The Justice Department has indicted four Americans, including three members of the African People’s Socialist Party and Uhuru Movement (APSP), over their political views on Russia, a step that has grave implications for First Amendment rights.

    1. Darthbobber

      The press coverage on this is intriguing. The DOJ’s take has been up on its website since yesterday. Local public radio in st Louis did a story, as did a couple of local papers and some Africa focused sites. VOA/RFE has it up.

      But given the usual hysterical splash that is the norm for breathless revelations of nefarious Russkie meddling, it’s telling that as of late morning the NYT, WaPo, Guardian, BBC, CNN, CBS, etc al have all-independently, I’m sure, reached the conclusion that it merits no coverage thus far.

    2. Janie

      And speaking of Facebook labeling Sy Hersch as unreliable, in comments above, I couldn’t place Blumenthal, so I checked Wikipedia. He’s defined as an apologist for authoritarian regimes. Above the article is a disclaimer.

  16. jsn

    ‘We may be looking at the end of capitalism’: so, price controls are the only solution a wavering Neoliberal economist can see.

    How about anti-trust: the Friedman / Borkian logic that industry consolidation doesn’t violate anti-trust so long as it is lowering consumer prices has reached it’s logical endpoint.

    In the same way the PMC achieved class consciousness with the election of Trump, monopoly/oligopoly capitalism achieved class consciousness with the COVID Pandemic: they have not competition, the can milk society dry and are demonstrably doing so.

    1. LY

      Anti-trust, and bans and high taxes on extractive practices like stock buybacks, high dividends, leveraged buyouts, etc. used to “financialize” the economy. The profits go back into the business: better pay, hiring more workers, capital expenditures, etc.

      1. aantidlc

        worker co-ops:

        A worker cooperative is a values-driven business that puts worker and community benefit at the core of its purpose. The two central characteristics of worker cooperatives are:

        workers own the business and they participate in its financial success on the basis of their labor contribution to the cooperative
        workers have representation on and vote for the board of directors, adhering to the principle of one worker, one vote

        In addition to their economic and governance participation, worker-owners often manage the day-to-day operations through various management structures. For more information about worker cooperatives, visit our FAQ page and the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives website.

        1. digi_owl

          Frankly if one go back and read what Marx was on about, that is the kind of arrangement he expect to replace capitalist ownership come a time of crisis.

    2. Henry Moon Pie

      I’m not sure if I came across this link here or elsewhere, but this is an attempted interview of Larry Summers by Jon Stewart. Stewart tries to pin Larry down about whether inflated corporate profits are contributing at least as much to inflation as wages. What follows is a little less than 8 minutes of Summers obfuscating and spewing word salad that one begins to wonder if senility has set in. Stewart does the best he can, but Summers resolutely refuses to admit that any corporation could be causing these problems.

      I felt it was worth watching because of Summers’s performance. Has the guy lost it, or is this how he climbed his ladder of success?

      1. Jeff W

        “I’m not sure if I came across this link here or elsewhere…”

        With no implication of how you came across the link (although you did reply to a reply to the following referenced comment), the interview was, of course, linked to by Glen in the Water Cooler a bit over a month ago, on 17 March 2023. Credit where credit is due.

  17. Jason Boxman

    Billionaire’s rocket failure:

    Live Updates: SpaceX’s Starship Rocket Explodes After Launch

    The most powerful rocket ever built got off the launchpad in South Texas, but did not achieve its most ambitious goals on Thursday.

    SpaceX’s Starship rocket exploded above the Gulf of Mexico on Monday, minutes after lifting off from a launchpad in South Texas. The spacecraft failed to reach orbit, but it was not a fatal failure.

    Before the launch, Elon Musk, the company’s founder, had tamped down expectations, saying it might take several tries before Starship succeeds at this test flight, which was to reach speeds fast enough to enter orbit before splashing down in the Pacific Ocean near Hawaii.

    So sending up rockets that might not even succeed is totally okay, for a private citizen. This guy should be in jail for violating lockdown restrictions restarting manufacturing in CA earlier in the Pandemic. Laws are for dull normals; see also, stock trades by Congress linked to today. (Or really any day.)

    1. Paradan

      Musk needs to hire a Kerbal or two, they could of told him that long rockets do not like to turn.

    2. Henry Moon Pie

      It’s tough day for the trans-humanists and Eco-modernists. It might make it a little tough to retain and recruit astronauts. Thankfully, no one was hurt so far as I’ve heard, but what about those property values around Elon’s spaceport?

    3. Mikel

      Stories about SpaceX rocket launches should go under the NC “Climate” banner.
      Afterall, this is all about the select few dreaming of escaping Earth and becoming intergalatic parasites.

    4. R.S.

      The spacecraft failed to reach orbit, but it was not a fatal failure.

      “Experienced a rapid unscheduled disassembly before stage separation.” Got it. What’s their definition of a fatal failure then? Asking for a friend.

  18. The Rev Kev

    “King Charles’ coronation cross will include fragments believed to be from Jesus’ crucifixion”

    I heard that on the news and thought it a bit strange. Chuck is the head of the Church of England which broke off from the Catholic Church under King Edward VIII. So technically, the Pope just gave one of the holiest of holiest souvenirs to the head of a heretical church. Still no love for the Orthodox Church in the east though.

    1. Wukchumni

      Mark Twain reckoned he’d seen enough pieces of the true cross in churches and whatnot in the old country in The Innocents Abroad to assemble a few dozen true crosses, could Chuck be double crossed?

      1. tevhatch

        How much wood would a wood Chuck chuck,
        if he could get the ignorant to believe he was chosen by a god?

  19. The Rev Kev

    “China ramps up construction on new Antarctic station: Report”

    ‘The station is well positioned to collect signals intelligence over Australia and New Zealand and telemetry data on rockets launched from Australia’s new Arnhem Space Centre’

    Wouldn’t the same be true of other bases such as McMurdo station? Of course the Chinese could prank everybody by setting up a smaller station, burning it, calling for help from McMurdo and leaving a huge block of ice with a massive cavity in the middle inside the main building- (6:56 mins)

    1. flora

      Middle-aged ladies hoping to stave off the ravages of time is an eternal quest.
      Yoga, exercises, special diets, rejuvenation retreats in a tropical or vacation type place for the well off, all are with us probably since the being of civilization.

      But, jeez! The woo, and not just woo, but chintzy expensive woo in GP’s offering looks like pure grift. Sort of like this guy:

      How One Artist Turned Cans Of Poop Into $300,000 Pieces Of Art
      By William DeLong

      I don’t know whether to laugh or cry that some people buy this sh*+. / ;)

    1. Henry Moon Pie

      The game has changed a little. A little over a decade ago, it was a NE Ohio U. S. Attorney and the FBI rounding up the Cleveland Five for terrorism. They were convicted of plotting to blow up a bridge, a target chosen by the informant assigned to them when they participated in Cleveland’s Occupy so that it would be on federal territory and allow a federal prosecution. These kids had no money. Not even a car. The FBI supplied the “bomb,” and when one kid didn’t show up on the appointed day, they tracked him down and harassed him until he got in.

      Now think of all the work that took. How much easier to arrest some citizens for saying or writing what’s on their minds and claim Putin did it for the rest.

      It is chilling.

      The Cleveland Five never went to trial. I hope this case gets there. The jury can do the right thing.

  20. Katniss Everdeen

    In case you missed it, and it was suspiciously easy to do, RFK, Jr. formally declared his intention to run for the dem presidential nomination yesterday.

    “My mission over the next 18 months of this campaign and throughout my presidency will be to end the corrupt merger of state and corporate power that is threatening now to impose a new kind of corporate feudalism in our country,” Kennedy said.

    The rest of the article is the typical character assassination to obliterate that message–anti-vaxx and fundraising off of it, appeared on Infowars and Steve Bannon’s podcast, seen talking to Roger Stone and Michael Flynn, even his own family thinks he’s crazy–that I’m sure we’ll be barraged with for the next 18 months in an attempt to establish that there is no alternative to the dementia-patient-in-chief hiding in a delaware basement, and driven to distraction by an addiction to ice cream.

    Oh, and no need for candidate debates because no one else has anything of value to say.

    Last night, abc nightly “news” did an extraordinarily long segment with the host fist-bumping starving (but smiling) Sudanese children, while their mothers harvested water lilies from the climate-change-induced flood waters to feed them.

    But no mention of RFK, Jr. That was left to Tucker Carlson, who interviewed the candidate and let him speak. “TINA” is only reality if “voters” cover their ears.

    1. fresno dan

      It always surprised me (probably because I was so ignorant of how dems really are) that the repubs actually nominated someone first outside of the modern status quo. I would be all for the dems nominating RFK, Jr. but I think the truth of the matter is that the dems are far less likely to deviate from the tenents of the uniparty than the repubs.

      1. Martin Oline

        I think you are right. I watched with a horror and fascination as the Tea Party took over the Republican Party. Who saw that one coming? I naively thought at the time that it should be done to the democrat Party (small D, nothing democratic there) but it will never happen. Someone pulled the fire alarm as Robert started talking about the CIA in his speech. “Nice try” he said, “there is no emergency.” There has been an emergency in our body politic for the last sixty years. I suppose the next lone assassin may be a neo-naughty Ukrainian. Actually that is not right, unless the decision is made to jettison those plucky freedom fighters. They will have to be a nationality that furthers the government’s agenda of promoting the popular delusion. Perhaps a Chinese national on a student visa?

    2. Carolinian

      Thanks. I mentioned him on Water Cooler the other day. Perhaps NC should run ABC News.

      And the article I linked said even Kennedy doesn’t think he has any shot but he does think Biden needs opposition. As do we all. Here’s suggesting that four more years of Joe “nobody f*cks with a” Biden is more likely to provoke a civil war than four more years of Trump. Perhaps the MSM is working for Putin.

    3. Henry Moon Pie

      Good for Fox. He pulled 14% of 2020 Biden voters in a USA poll released today. Marianne had 5%.

      Gene McCarthy only got 42% in New Hampshire against LBJ, and Johnson was out of the race in a month. New Hampshire no longer has the power it did in ’68, and Democrats, Inc. has taken what it’s learned in two battles against Bernie and set up a system almost impossible for any outsider to navigate. But I think there’s a lot of nervousness among Dem elites and the money boys about Joe’s electability. One big surprise to the downside early in the campaign, and things could get quite fluid.

  21. The Rev Kev

    “How Long Should Ukrainian Forces Defend Bakhmut? Lessons from Stalingrad”

    Several points. The Ukrainians won’t cede Bakhmut as Zelensky insists it must be held and keeps on sending in reinforcements. And it is just not a strategic symbol of Ukrainian resistance but is strategic in itself because of the road and rail routes as he mentions. That is why the Ukrainians have been fortifying the place for the past nine years. And if he wants to compare the place to Stalingrad, the Ukrainians are the Germans in this scenario, not the Russians. And the Ukraine’s forces haven’t turned the city ‘into a rock that broke the wave of Russian advance in eastern Ukraine.’ The whole place is not much more than an open cauldron which the Ukrainians feed battalion after battalion into for destruction, even when some of those battalions have been taken from other vital fronts. The author may be a 2014 graduate of the United States Military Academy but he either does not get it or is writing to please his peers and their belief in the narrative.

  22. tegnost

    Re economist fears…
    Summers was quick to respond that he didn’t think it was “a tenable view that all of a sudden corporations became greedy.” Edwards seems to be saying that it actually is quite tenable.

    No larry they didn’t “all of a sudden” become greedy

  23. Jason Boxman

    “It’s another way for people who are not Black to put on the costume of a Black person — to put their hands up Kanye or Drake and make him a puppet — and that is alarming to me,” said Lauren Chanel, a writer on tech and culture. “This is just another example in a long line of people underestimating what it takes to create the type of art that, historically, Black people make.”

    Because everything is identity politics. Or maybe imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and those using AI to create these audio tracks really enjoy rap as an art form?

  24. Carolinian

    Re bacteria eating the Titanic–the article says they are trying to figure out how to save it but do we really need to put any kind of human effort into such a project? Take lots of pictures and say goodbye. What’s the point?

    1. ambrit

      I want them to recover the Venetian Glass hoard that went down with the ship. Being very fragile blown glass objects, the items were packed away in steamer trunks in tea leaves. Supposed to still be in a millionaire’s cabin.
      As we learned from going through “The Katrina Experience,” Mother Nature cares not for the foibles of men and women. It’s a hard school.

  25. Daniil Adamov

    Some might say that causing mass avoidable deaths among the population for the sake of the government’s economic priorities is not so much at odds with being communist as entirely in keeping with the track record. The same party oversaw something along those lines a few decades ago as I recall – this seems like continuity of a sort.

    1. Henry Moon Pie

      I think you can say “government’s economic priorities” only in the state socialist case, or maybe “party’s economic priorities.” In American society, the government is only the handmaiden of the “billionaires’ economic priorities.” Otherwise, point well taken.

  26. Carolinian

    Re The Vox “100 Year Old Mistake” series and the article on Valley Fever

    Cocci isn’t new: It’s thrived in the Americas’ hot, arid climates for millennia. In the United States, the hotbed has largely included a relatively narrow strip of land spanning what’s now the Southwest’s Four Corners region and parts of California and Texas.

    My AZ friend who lived there decades previously got Valley Fever and still has scarred lungs from it –although that’s probably the only long term result. Now the city is expanding like crazy and she says precious water has to be used to suppress the construction dust. As with Florida it seems these sun and fun retreats have a dark side. In this case not only can you get sick but water is needed to help keep the thing under control. Meanwhile the real estate speculation just encourages more people to move to where they probably shouldn’t.

  27. anon in so cal

    California Snow Melt:

    “What makes the impending “big melt” even more worrisome is that the San Joaquin Valley does not have a centralized, well-funded flood management system. Instead, a patchwork of local water managers, counties and private land owners are largely in charge of their own flood prevention.

    California’s water history and issues are complex. Agricultural companies, the Army Corps of Engineers and the state have all been key players in planning and funding projects in areas they deemed most worthwhile to protect. As a result, more rural, disadvantaged and predominantly Latino communities with little political clout have seen far less investment, experts said.

    Decades of disorganization and disinvestment have left the San Joaquin Valley’s flood management system outdated and dilapidated. Reservoirs feed into too few channels that are often too narrow to handle an incessant barrage of water. Drought, neglect and past floods have eroded earthen levees. Rivers and reservoirs in need of expansion are already swollen, with many at capacity.

    All this made the recent decision by Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) to cut $40 million earmarked for flood restoration projects from the 2023-2024 budget baffling and frustrating to local communities and environmental groups….”

    1. JBird4049

      The state budget is a long process of deal making, which probably started just before the passage of the 2022/2023 budget or over a year ago when people were thinking that the drought would likely continue. Even if they were wrong, the thinking probably was about pushing back the work to keep the obstreperous happy or perhaps even do work more necessary. A gamble, which has rolled snake eyes, but while it might have been foolish, it was not entirely reckless or crazy.

  28. Jason Boxman

    BuzzFeed News Is Shutting Down, Company Laying Off 180 Staffers

    Not sure I ever read any stuff from there, but it’s gone now.

    What’s particular pernicious, I looked at on a whim, found this, and it shows up in a window, it’s an AMP page, and therefore sucks any possible review away from the reporting news site. Part of Google’s campaign, an effective one, of killing funding for news media in this country. Why not just take the user to the content? This is the kind of IP theft that predates large language models.

  29. Tom Stone

    I’ve been thinking a bit about the Socio Econonomic and class aspects of the way “Bruen” is being implemented.
    Half of the US States allow anyone who can legally possess (Keep) a firearm to bear it concealed with no training or license required.
    Half of the States have “Reasonable Restrictions” regarding who can bear a firearm concealed.
    Here in California it’s County by County and in Sonoma County in order to be deemed worthy to carry a concealed weapon you need to be able to take a weekday off and be able to spend @ $3,000 while in Neighboring Lake County the cost is @ $300.
    I’m sure it’s merely a coincidence that the Counties in California which have the greatest disparities in Wealth are also the Counties where the right to bear arms is reserved for the well to do.
    When poor people are the primary victims of violent crime.

    If you live in a Restrictive State take a look at the cost difference to obtain a CCW in an Urban area with a large disparity between the classes and a rural county where there is a more equitable distribution of wealth.

    1. Henry Moon Pie

      “I’m sure it’s merely a coincidence that the Counties in California which have the greatest disparities in Wealth are also the Counties where the right to bear arms is reserved for the well to do.
      When poor people are the primary victims of violent crime.”

      I bet you’re right about that, Tom. The mindset behind such a policy makes one wonder if wealth isn’t a curse.

      1. Old Sarum

        Is that a pistol in your pocket, or are you just pleased to see me?

        No, but I do have thick scar from an accidental discharge.


        1. JBird4049

          Old_Sarum, that is both a wicked joke(?) and it made me wince. Unfortunately, I have a vivid and strong imagination. Anyone who sticks an unholstered handgun in their freaking pocket does deserves a little scar tissue as a memento.

          1. Wukchumni

            My first boss had an interesting wound on his upper right leg from when he was emulating tv westerns in the early 60’s, practicing his quick draw, and was a wee bit too fast.

  30. Donald

    I haven’t looked through the comment thread to see if anyone else has noticed this, but the NYT just put out a piece claiming that reports of the Ukranians shelling civilians is Russian propaganda. And not just the reports in one particular location (could be true in that case for all I know) but all the claims from the past ten years are just evil Russian propaganda.

    I googled for thirty seconds and found Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International reports from 2014-2015 which say that both sides shelled civilians and committed other atrocities. (And I don’t trust HRW and AI that much anymore, not where US-involved wars are concerned.) But it was still acceptable to say critical things about the Ukranian government back then. I wrote up a couple of comments at the NYT site pointing to these reports. So far neither has been published.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      The basic problem is Americans are grossly ignorant and the NYT et al ran just off the wall propaganda. When trains are derailing and so forth, how do you think a person who learns the Russians have an argument?

      Except for “ooga booga super Hitler! Yarrgh”, there hasn’t been one cohesive argument put out publicly about how this might be in my national interest. The basic argument is thumb our nose at Moscow to control trade routes on behalf of multi-nationals who donate to Western politicians. Now Mark Hamill is associating with Azov types.

      The NYT has nowhere to go but down. The crazies will be crazy, but the people who only heard “Russia invaded” may not be so forgiving especially when the US has other problems.

  31. fresno dan
    Why track endorsements? After all, the last time Republicans had a presidential primary without an incumbent, the candidates who led the endorsement race were no match for the one preferred by voters. Trump’s victory in 2016 seemed like a clear repudiation of the “party decides” hypothesis of presidential primaries: that the candidate with the most support from party elites tends to win the nomination.

    But 2016 was just one data point. Historically, endorsements have proven pretty predictive of who wins presidential nominating contests. Since the modern primary era began in 1972, there have been 17 Democratic or Republican primary fights that did not feature an incumbent president. The candidate with the most endorsement points on the day before the Iowa caucuses won 11. That’s a better track record than polls have at the same point in the election: Since 1972, the leader in national polls on the day before Iowa has won the nomination just 10 out of 17 times.
    I fail to see the one win difference between polls (10 wins) versus endorsements (11 wins) signifying anything. Looking over what happened over the years, there were I think some things that at least were true surprises to me (of course, I was 17 in 1972), like McGovern, Carter, and Trump. I was surprised but not shocked Obama prevailed over Hillary. The knives were out for Dean, kinda of like a earlier Sanders.

    I think being indicted will hurt Trump, but on the other hand, DeSantis seems to be collapsing and who can really win repub hearts…Haley???

  32. Lexx

    ‘The 100-year-old mistake that’s reshaping the American West’ – Vox

    Here’s the thing… if you add the known numbers together: Type 1, Type 2, and pre-diabetic, about a third of all-aged Americans have a blood glucose problem. Let’s use our imaginations (and eyeballs, while people watching) to round the numbers up even further for the undiagnosed. That percentage is closer to half of all-aged Americans. That percentage is predicted to go up; I can see no real plan for it to go down.

    Protein and good fats are our friends, carbs not so much. We can change our portion sizes but not the ratio. The smartest food choice someone with high blood glucose can make is to lean into protein and cut out refined carbs. I know what people see in my grocery shopping basket and I know what I see in the baskets of other shoppers… and it’s not protein gluttony. How will half the American population “adapt”? The diagnosis in and of itself represents being caught between ‘a rock and a hard place’. It’s why self-monitoring (lest the medical hammer drop) is a hard sell; most folks would rather not know. Within the soft warm embrace of denial, a bagel can’t hurt you, it remains an unknown known… yay! “Adaptation'” seems to place the responsibility back on the consumers, but with even higher-priced steaks… (sorry).

    What I didn’t get from the article is who now owns all that Western alfalfa-growing farmland and the water rights? If there don’t appear to be many meat gluttons where I shop, who is buying?

  33. Cetra Ess

    re: Afghanistan sports car made from war scraps

    Did anyone else find it curious that it appears to be the Taliban who created this car? Also, that the lines seem rather….Western? Like the car is designed for the Western market, perhaps?

  34. Old Sarum

    re passim: Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s Skin In the Game:

    Thanks for the link to that. I missed it at the time. Since having worked in Saudi Arabia for three-months as a callow 20 year-old, back when the black-list was in force and official anti-Israeli sentiment was high in the kingdom, I have always wondered where Israel gets its oil from. Strangely I have never put the query into Goober as I assumed that there would be no answer forthcoming. Anybody?


    ps My Saudi experiences has also led me to monitoring the machinations of the US Army Corps of Engineers. I even downloaded a multi-gigabit official history of their activities in the Middle East which is good for a laugh in parts. What a rabbit-hole to fall into!

  35. Old Sarum

    Re Teixeira and Cape-Cod-Cock-Up Showrunners:

    The cynic in me says go back and look for an official announcement around the time which with a little dogged investigation would potentially expose even more of a scandal.


    ps When things are wrapped in foil those late Friday afternoon announcements that the British government used to be fond of spring to mind.

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