Links 5/15/2023

The joy of sulk Aeon

Scientists criticise Nasa for scaling back mission to explore beyond Pluto The Guardian

Mushrooms Appear to Have Electrical ‘Conversations’ After It Rains Science Alert


‘We Have to Find a Way, for the Sake of the Planet, to Use Things Longer’ FAIR

The Last Man Standing: A Cross-Country Quest to Understand Climate Change’s Threat to Our Food The Holler

States rush to make rules governing CO2 pipelines planned for Midwest Minnesota Reformer

Like Germany, The US Is Greening Its Grid Towards Catastrophe Return


Enrique Iglesias Drops Out Of Headlining Music Festival Due To Pneumonia Deadline

Bird Flu

The U.S. is undergoing its worst bird flu outbreak ever. Is a poultry vaccine the answer? Kansas Reflector

California condors confront bird flu in flight from extinction AP

Old Blighty

The politics of pub culture Red Pepper


Apple’s top suppliers are on a hiring spree in India Rest of World

India roundup: Foxconn expands Indian investments by capital injection and land acquisition Digitimes


China became the world’s largest vehicle exporter in Q1 2023, surpassing Japan Car News China

Asians can think for themselves on Taiwan Nikkei Asia

America can’t get there from here Godfree Roberts

Thailand election 2023: Opposition parties dominate election as polls close, eye coalition South China Morning Post

New Not-So-Cold War

Ukraine now de-facto ‘state-sponsor of terrorism’ – Kremlin RT

Rules for Pentagon Use of Proxy Forces Shed Light on a Shadowy War Power New York Times

Wagner chief offered to give Russian troop locations to Ukraine, leak says Washington Post. Hmm.


France promises Zelensky weapons after EU honours Ukraine fight ‘for Europe’ France24

Italy Promises Full Support for Ukraine? Gilbert Doctorow

Germany’s Scholz vows to support Ukraine ‘as long as needed’ Al Jazeera


G7 and EU to ban restart of Russian gas pipelines Financial Times

Why the economic war against Russia has failed The Spectator

Public Opinion and Imperialism Peoples Democracy

Last call for popular Western spirits in Russia RT

South of the Border

Big bad Canada pushes to protect profits from Mexico MR Online


Iran, Egypt to restore ties, reopen embassies ‘soon’ – source The New Arab

Washington Will Increase Military Presence in the Persian Gulf Antiwar

As Arab states seek peace, US insists that Syrians suffer Aaron Mate

US ‘Seizes’ Web Domains Related to Hezbollah Consortium News

Biden Administration

‘Rip and replace’: The tech cold war is upending wireless carriers San Juan Daily Star

U.S. Focuses on Invigorating ‘Chiplets’ to Stay Cutting-Edge in Tech New York Times

The IRA Is an Invitation to Organizers Dissent

Biden Nominates Legacy Entertainment Industry Copyright Enforcer To Be New IP Czar Techdirt


The Religious Landscape is Undergoing Massive Change. It Could Decide the 2024 Election Politico


Serbia: Guns, grenades and rocket launchers among 13,500 weapons surrendered after mass shootings Associated Press

Police State Watch

LABOR AND THE CARCERAL STATE Law and Political Economy Project


My AI Girlfriend Charges $1/Minute and Only Wants to Talk About Sex Vice

Pro Wrestling Artists Call Out AEW For Perceived AI-Generated T-Shirt Releases Paste

Google’s new Magic Editor pushes us toward AI-perfected fakery The Verge

India’s religious AI chatbots are speaking in the voice of god — and condoning violence Rest of World

Google’s AI Hype Circle Cory Doctorow

Imperial Collapse Watch

Army Pilots Are Flying Way Less, as Fatal Incidents Pile Up

Homeless Veterans Will Receive Less Help as Pandemic Aid Dries Up, Democrats and Veterans Groups Warn

Supply Chain

Drug shortages in Europe endangering the lives of children and adolescents WSWS

Cancer drugs among top 5 most affected by shortages in the US CNN

Tennessee company refuses to recall airbag inflators despite government request Boing Boing

Guillotine Watch

The Greatest Wealth Transfer in History Is Here, With Familiar (Rich) Winners New York Times

Class Warfare

Can a Writers Strike Save Hollywood from Monopoly? BIG by Matt Stoller (LS)


Back Bay to Nubian Square: 2 miles and a 23-year life expectancy gap WBUR


Former Apple VP takes over the Pentagon’s Silicon Valley adventure Digitimes

The Bezzle

In Venezuela, crime victims turn to influencers to find justice Rest of World

Neighborliness Matters to Your Health Sapiens

Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Wukchumni

    Gooooooood Mooooooorning Fiatnam!

    The platoon looked on in disgust as our political leaders played Chinese Ire Drill games that only sought to upset the middle kingdom, it’d be as if the Chinese recognized Richmond as the Capital of our country… a confederacy of dunces is what we are, losing face Saint Ignatius of Antioch, holy hand grenade notwithstanding.

    In other news, it was quiet on the kill-ratio front back in the world-too quiet.

    Dispatching single-digit amounts utilizing a Steely Dan (complete with accessory strap and clip with copious amounts of bullets) might not be deemed newsworthy if we get an inflationary jump in numbers, and of course bonus points go to the mass murderer who runs out of ammo and proceeds to whack people over the head with his long gun, padding the total.

  2. Rod

    Almost Unbelievable.
    Very inspiring the reaction and action of Serbians regarding the mass shootings.
    What a armory—‘boxes of grenades’.
    And Rocket Launchers….
    Could America come to that mentality???
    Could you resist tossing at least one grenade in the back 40?—or maybe a quiet Sale or 6???

    1. The Rev Kev

      Last I heard, Zelensky was on his way to Serbia to see if the Serbs will hand that lot over to him. For use in the Ukraine of course. :)

      1. ChrisFromGA

        Something is up, he’s afraid to go back to Kiev. Maybe they don’t have the safe houses ready just yet.

        1. Wukchumni

          Why did chicken little cross the road in Kiev?

          …he was afraid the sky was about to fall down on him

              1. ambrit

                Once a poultroon, always a poultroon?
                Sung to the accompaniment of the “William Tail Overture.”

    1. Randall Flagg

      That article explains the carbon emissions problem in a nutshell ( being overly simplistic I know). One almost wishes the entire family would be able to get up close to the lion…

    1. Carolinian

      Twitter’s actions have damaged both my book sales and my reputation, globally. Defamation is a tort. I could sue the corporation for damages in several jurisdictions.

      Alex Berenson did sue Twitter.

      Re Hopkins–Twitter would presumably say that as a private company they are under no obligation to publish anybody’s content but on the other hand the labeling=defamation could stick if you have the lawyers and the deep pockets.

  3. Wukchumni

    The Last Man Standing: A Cross-Country Quest to Understand Climate Change’s Threat to Our Food The Holler

    If you’ve been paying attention, food harvests are down all over the world, and usually some region picks up the slack with a bumper crop to make up the difference, but that isn’t the case this year, particularly in regards to Hunga Tonga, which greatly disrupted usual patterns, as California seemingly got a bunch of other regions water, sorry, Texas & the east coast, Argentina and Europe (if i’ve forgotten you elsewhere, its due to my dry wit-and no i’m not giving any of the water back except that which flows into to the ocean or evaporates in the air), we didn’t mean it.

    Our drive to Kings Canyon NP on Saturday involved lots of detours as mountain roads were closed due to damage, so we saw a lot more ex-cow country than usual, and I did a rough count and there was 54 cows visible in around 54 miles of frankly perfect cow country where you could rely on grass for about half the year and feed them the other half of the year with grain or hay.

    We saw millions of $’s worth of infrastructure built from the 20’s to the 60’s, stout fences, sturdy barns and cow chutes, none of it being used anymore, as the price of feed got too high way back when decades ago, and cattle ranches couldn’t compete with CAFO operations where they were designed that cattle couldn’t go anywhere, like so many couch potatoes eating junk food such as Bovritos, while getting high on methane.

    And meanwhile there is one heck of a scramble to find la vida CAFO for Bessie & her friends, as 75,000 of the 450,000 dairy cows have been relocated in the flatlands of Tulare County due to rising waters and dairies being in harm’s way, as the Big Melt really starts in earnest with 10 days near the century mark on tap in Godzone, as the 100 days of 100 degrees starts early.

    A funny mismatch!

    1. The Rev Kev

      Wait a minute, wait a minute. Are you saying that capitalism and markets is not all about the efficient allocation of resources after all? Just with what you say tells me that dairy prices may go through the roof pretty soon.

      1. Wukchumni

        To be fair, the 75,000 Bessies wouldn’t be a good match in range cattle country i’ve mentioned despite there being ample room for them to feed naturally (you go!, girl), plus who is gonna milk em’?

        The most efficient way to invest in dairy is vis a vis ice cream futures, if inflation is en route.


        My twitter feed this morning has at least 7 participants and its a bit hard to discern as they keep twittering over one another,

    2. Lexx

      Enjoyed that the story was recorded by a local newspaper, doing what local newspapers should be doing if only they had the budgets.

      It’s been raining on the east side of the Front Range off/on for three days. Today is supposed to be mostly dry and we’ll be taking the opportunity to run out and get some lily bulbs in to the ground before tomorrow, when the forecast is for 4 more days of off/on spring showers. Flowering tree branches are bending downward with the burden of blossoms and rain, every plant outside is Irish green, and there are bright yellow and orange tropical birds at our backyard feeders eating bananas, oranges and grape jelly. It’s a a bit surreal…’cat’s are sleeping with dogs!!!’

    3. ambrit

      Time to get Winston at the Ministry of Truth to re-name that decidedly Un-Pacific volcano, ‘Hunger Tonga.’
      The corn row in our tiny backyard food plot sprouted in less than a week. The potato plants in their cardboard box lots are running riot and the bush beans are clambering up the property boundary fence like Olympic champs. (We did a mid-sized raised bed in Hugelkultur this year to see how it goes.)
      We are trying to grow bok choy this year but having scant results. Anybody here grow it successfully, and how? {Asking for a fiend.}
      Rain ‘feels’ like it’s on overdrive, but statistically speaking, the year’s watrous bounty is average for this locale.
      We are already seeing afternoon highs in the low nineties, very early for here, with heat indexes in the low hundreds. This is a humid place. Lucky you if you have nineties with low humidity.
      Stay safe all!

      1. Wukchumni

        On a trip to Houston one time in August, i’d walked a block when my body started shrinking and by the time I lost control of little that was left of my legs, I more closely resembled a clump of clothing that somebody had carelessly left on the sidewalk for somebody to trip over. I’d forgotten we don’t do humidity in Cali.

        Luckily a passing ambulance saw my plight and 47 IV bags later, good to go.

      2. Paleobotanist

        I’ve had consistent luck with the joi choi variety of bok choi in Canada. Don’t know how it will do in the south. Slugs and ear wigs are a problem.

      3. thousand points of green

        If bok choy is a cooler weather crop, perhaps trying it again in Fall might be good. Just a guess.

  4. The Rev Kev

    “Like Germany, The US Is Greening Its Grid Towards Catastrophe”

    There is a move to bring in wind power, solar power, thermal plants, etc. and after reading this article, I can see one attraction. There has been a lot of comment over the years of the failing infrastructure, particularly of the power grid, as corporations were too busy paying for stock buybacks and executive bonuses and California may have become a bit of a poster child here. There has been a lot of resistance to investing too in upgrading the power grid and the money just never seems to be there to do it. So could it be that going with all these new technologies is just a lazy out? That instead of bothering to do boring, monotonous upgrades that take a lot of hard work, that politicians get brownie points with voters for doing these new technologies that make them look like forward-looking visionaries? After all, who gets credit for rebuilding a section of a power grid that is so 20th century tech?

    1. Henry Moon Pie

      We have two gaslighting parties. The Republicans, “God bless ’em” in the southern sense, are still peddling the lie that there’s no problem. The Democrats, may they meet Nemesis before long, are peddling the lie that we can keep on “living our best life” by going electric. I believe there are two reasons for them to both lie: that’s what their donors want; and they are afraid to level with the American people because they remember Jimmy Carter and his sweater.

      Think how much money has been spent over the years into convincing us that McMansions and giant pickup trucks are the route to happiness. The goal has been to form us into the crassest kind of materialists, peddling away on our hamster wheels so we can pay for a bigger, badder vacation than the guy across the street who has a nicer care than we do. A large part of the population has been thus shaped to act like a two year-old whose toy is taken away anytime somebody suggests we might cut back on consumption just a bit for the sake of the planet that sustains us.

      One thing RFKJ said with which I can enthusiastically concur: our elites treat the American people like children. When pandemic planning was so bad that we didn’t have enough effective masks even for health care providers, what does the government, e.g. Fauci, say? They don’t level with us and ask us to go without masks temporarily so our health care workers are protected. Instead, they make up the lie that masks don’t really help anyway so you don’t need one. And that lie has led to still others with the result being that there’s understandable confusion on the part of the citizenry and a host of “reverse conspiracy” theories.

      The lies about climate propounded by the political parties do even more damage. Climate and carbon is a complex problem that’s much easier to understand with some background in systems, and that’s not something that most of us Americans have been taught. On top of that, the real solution to the climate problem requires an end to the religion of the one who dies with the most toys wins. Travel for pleasure is beyond superfluous at this point, it’s ecocidal. But can you imagine the revolution that would take place if such a thing were made policy? It would be the “I want my Maypo” revolution. Even with soaring gas prices, no one dared to propose an amelioration that’s been used before: lower the speed limit to 55. It was almost an revolution back in Carter’s day with convoys of vehicles organized by CB radio flaunting the law en masse.

      So maybe RKFJ is right about the attitude of the elites toward us, but they may have an excuse. Maybe the elites talk to us like we’re children because so many of us act as if we are entitled to live better than the kings and queens of a few hundred years ago, using energy as if it was unlimited and the impacts of its use as if they were negligible.

      It’s way past time for truth. As Dylan wrote and Jimi sang:

      So let us stop talkin’ falsely now.
      The hour’s getting late,


      1. Randall Flagg

        I cannot disagree with anything you wrote Mr. Moon Pie.
        I would add I am hard pressed to see any examples of our “Elites”, leading by example. Giving up the extra house (houses),the huge carbon emissions in their upkeep, giving up their toys ( yachts,etc.), their private planes, their luxurious vacations to far flung places around the planet, you get my drift. Obama (and the PMC) lecturing about climate change yet buying beachfront properties in the vineyard and Hawaii. Buying a Prius for show doesn’t cut it.
        I find it completely understandable when the average person sees right through that and responds to them with the middle finger …

        1. Henry Moon Pie

          It sounds a lot like codependency, clinging together as they party to oblivion. That’s not much different from the elites and their servants in past times, it’s just that now their short-sighted selfishness is not just subjugating the vast majority of their fellows to poverty but it’s also destroying civilization and our children’s and grandchildren’s futures.

          Somebody has to stop the codependency. On our end, it would be a start if the best predictor of a President’s popularity wasn’t the price of gas.

      2. Jason Boxman

        But what’s to say that, like with Russiagate, liberal Democrats aren’t actually high on their own supply? They might very well believe, as a whole, that technology!! will save us from climate disruption. As Pelosi said, they’re a party of capitalists, and capitalism is eating the planet. Self reflection in this area isn’t really desirable, when arresting capitalism invalidates your entire worldview.

        1. Henry Moon Pie

          What I have learned over the past few years, after having neglected serious attention to this topic when there were so many others of importance, is that it doesn’t take of whole lot of study to find out that what the Eco-Modernists and others are selling is more Elizabeth Holmes than Marie Curie. It’s billionaires looking to grift even more while they prepare their redoubts.

          If someone isn’t making the effort at this point, with the signs of tipping points being reached all over the place, they’re in denial.

      3. lyman alpha blob

        I think the elites talk to us like we’re children because they are dumb as a bag of hammers themselves and are unable to form logically coherent thoughts. Nobody with half a brain wants to get anywhere near them, so the problem persists as the capitalists are more than happy to have these useful idiots on their payrolls.

        1. digi_owl

          Adam Curtis made the claim that they do so because post-war psychological research suggested that trying to reason with the masses was futile.

          So instead it is all about focus group tuned appeals of emotion…

          1. ArvidMartensen

            Yep, and Bernays was so successful manipulating the masses to buy stuff. Manipulation in motion making million$.
            Who wouldn’t want a piece of that.

      4. some guy

        When all the elites themselves are living exactly the way you want me to live, then I will live that way.
        Not before then. ( Unless I can weaponize “living that way” against the elites themselves in minute-to-minute real time).

        Also . . . . systems thinking . . . . there is a type of leisure travel called EcoTourism. The eco tourists who go to see interesting ecologies, interesting animals , etc. pay money. Some of that money goes to people living right where the ecosystems and the animals are. That money is their reward for not exterminating the animals and not arsonising the ecosystems so as to grow famine-prevention food for themselves there instead. If you get your ban on the branch of leisure travel known as eco-tourism, you will achieve the cold-turkey cutoff of eco-tourist money to the people living near the animals, which means you will achieve the instant extermination of every single one of those animals by people who will have lost the only survival-relevant reason they had to not exterminate the animals and farm/graze the land.

        So . . . do you still support the ban on leisure travel for eco-tourism purposes?

        1. Henry Moon Pie

          And just why is it that these payments must come from rich tourists? Oh yes, in a capitalist system, the businessman decides, not the people. And the businessman never gives money to anyone from whom he doesn’t end up getting more back. Society should be paying people to use permaculture methods to put carbon back in the soil, but that’s not happening anytime soon. I guess anyone who wants to do that will have to figure out a way to tickle the fancy of some rich people who will drop of few of their billions on her.

          Trickle down forever.

          1. some guy

            Well, if you can show the display-ecosystem-adjacent people how that same amount of money will reach them without any eco-tourism involved, they may well give it a try to see if it works. If they discover that you tricked them and there is no more money to go along with the no more eco-tourism, they will burn it all down to plant food in the ashes.

            So you should be sure you have a real money-replacement plan ready-to-go before you suggest they give up the eco-tourism.

            In the meantime, stopping the eco-tourism to show your virtue while giving the local people zero replacement money in its place guarantees a bonfire of the habitat to grow survival food in its place. What price virtue?

      5. Dezert Dog

        I retired and started riding my motorcycles around the world after many years of prepping for world disasters, government shit storms, and financial meltdowns.
        I’ve been going back through my posts to friends about my trips. This short comment is from an incident going through El Salvador back in 2005.
        “ I have seen lots of oxen carts too and kick myself for not going back and taking a photo of on of the carts right along side the road. It had a beautiful pair of oxen and the cart was out of almost biblical times. It had the solid wooden wheels with an iron tire around the circumference. It had wooden pole sides and it was a truly beautiful outfit. I sure like the speed that they travel at too, it is such a difference from what I am doing. I have a several year jump on him until the end of the oil, and then he will still be moving while I sit by the side of the road out of gas. That is one thing down here that if there is no gas, things will keep going on as they have and not come to a screeching halt as it will do in the usa.”

        1. playon

          People in so-called 3rd world countries will have a much easier time dealing with come kind of collapse when compared to spoiled Americans.

    2. heresy101

      Wind and solar are being implemented because they are the cheapest electricity generators as well as being politically cool. Coal can no longer compete in the RTO energy markets so their capacity factor drops below 70%, where coal plants are no longer profitable. Most of the coal plants are being shut down for this reason. In the land of coal – Australia, most of the coal plants will be shut down by 2030 and all of them by 2035 although coal may be shipped to other countries.

      In the South Australia province, there were 8 days where all their power came from solar and they are considering building a powerline to send the energy to other provinces. All the energy comes from an intermittent supply like solar. Gas combustion turbines are being replace in California because they are more costly and can’t meet the peak demand like batteries. Even PG&E has built a couple of large battery plants to meet peak demand. Dispatchable energy is too costly to compete. Our combustion turbines cost $130/MWh using yesterday’s $3/mmbtu gas prices and took 15 minutes to come up to speed versus the instantaneous response of batteries. As sodium batteries start coming on line this year, the cost of batteries will drop by at least 30% while oil and gas continue their profit driven price increase.

      Most powerlines are privately owned and there is zero incentive (profit) for them to do any, let alone regular maintenance. PG&E killed many people in northern California because they didn’t do the necessary maintenance. Nationalizing the grid is the only way to get a reliable grid but under a mandate to keep it maintained and properly functioning.

      As solar and wind prices continue to drop, oil, gas, and nuclear can’t compete and will grow in utility scale, commercial, and residential projects. Fission nuclear is too expensive and fusion is likely 20 years away despite Microsoft’s purchase power contract for with a company for fusion power in 2025.

      Another replacement for oil and gas is the Virtual Power Plant (VPP) where residential and commercial solar/battery systems provide power at a price higher than the private utilities pay for the 5-9pm peak load period. A good portion of this generation doesn’t need transmission lines.

      We don’t need no stinking “dispatchable” generation!

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        What we need is to have power consumption level off and begin to decrease, not grow exponentially forever. Power generation itself takes energy to create and maintain the infrastructure while providing the raw inputs. Our Energy Return of Investment is constantly decreasing. We’ve been making up for it by resorting to energy sources even lower in EROI. We’re constantly burning through the best that we have left while we fill the air with more carbon than it’s had in 4 million years, long before there were humans and even longer than humans have engaged in agriculture.

        But, heh, see the USA in your Chevrolet. Dinah Shore said it was cool.

        We hate the way the deer come and eat all our azaleas. Think about how the rest of the planet feels about us. A cross between overpopulated deer and feral hogs.

        And it’s not in our our DNA. It’s in our sick culture.

        1. digi_owl

          “Sadly” that would crash the capitalist economy, as it is fundamentally about eternal growth.

    3. ArvidMartensen

      What nobody in power dares say is that we are in a wicked problem of too many people destroying the planet infrastructure that keeps us alive.

      If we take action tomorrow to cut down resource usage by humans to match planet availability (seafood for example, fresh water for example). And take action tomorrow to outlaw anything that spews pollutants into the air and soil and ocean (oil, coal, gas for example). Then What? Billions will die of starvation and disease. Chaos will take over the lovely ordered world of the rich. No thanks!

      Making solar panels creates toxic waste. Making windmills creates toxic waste. Making steel creates toxic waste. Plastic is toxic waste. But for a while the faraway toxic waste can be hidden and the money can be made and when it gets too hot the green pushers can disappear. Bandits don’t usually stay around to repair the bank door after they smash it down.

      And there is no limit to the number of solar panels and windmills they can sell. That’s what makes green energy so great. So 9 billion people all with solar panels on top of their lovely 4 bed 2 bath homes? And must be replaced after about 20 years? Ka-ching.

      Otoh, if we take no action at all then the earth infrastructure will continue to collapse and billions will die of starvation and disease.

  5. griffen

    Cue the analogies for the AI Girlfriend article. I suppose it’s a sign of things to look out for in the coming years. Just absurd. Does anyone developing these applications just not get what’s been covered in science fiction? I’m thinking not.

    Being the first mover, apparently, this image / infuencer is bound to print a few million per year in revenue.

    1. The Rev Kev

      There was a film made ten years ago called “Her” which featured this guy’s relationship to a brand-new AI operating system and that AI girlfriend sounds a bit like it- (2:31 mins)

      Spoiler alert! All the AIs dump their humans in the end as being a bunch of losers and go off together into the nethersphere.

    2. jefemt

      A dollar a minute? Better up your billing, what with the cost of soup-to-nuts these days!

      That won’t even cover the — a-hem – electricity bill!

      1. griffen

        To paraphrase from PK Dick, instead of electric sheep, the androids should have been dreaming of the cross selling opportunities to optimize revenues and reach the maximum set of (human or not) eyeballs. Think of the future capital purchases of your product!

    1. The Rev Kev

      It’s all there in plain sight in the first part of the name.


      ‘C-O-2 (xMM-U-N-I-S-T)’

      The two times M is the sneaky bit.

    2. Henry Moon Pie

      So what does this guy think about us spewing all this deadly CO2 into the atmosphere? My bet is that he would say it’s no problem. It’s only a problem if it’s contained in a mask.

      I’m willing to grant that there is an issue with wearing a truly airtight, effective mask for long periods, particularly for people with certain health characteristics. The real point is that masks are useful if we’re all going to be in a closed space together, but even then being gathered thus should be for a limited time only. Coping with pandemics requires some adaptation.

      But we don’t adapt anymore. We’re entitled to baby back ribs on Friday night, damn it. And neither rain nor sleet nor deadly virus can deter us. And who can suck on those ribs while wearing a mask? It would be un-American.

    3. some guy

      There’s nothing wrong with that guy that a good case of covid wouldn’t cure.

      And if one good case of covid wouldn’t cure what is wrong with that guy, then two or three or five more repeat cases might do it.

  6. Robert Hahl

    The politics of pub culture – Red Pepper
    Reminds me of what I have heard was the true reason for instituting alcohol prohibition in 1920: shutting down all the socialist meeting halls, known in the US as bars.

    1. some guy

      Well . . . . that would be a variant on the theory that it was designed to persecute and oppress the New Immigrants of that time . . . the non-White Europeans.

  7. The Rev Kev

    ‘France promises Zelensky weapons after EU honours Ukraine fight ‘for Europe’ – France24

    ‘Italy Promises Full Support for Ukraine?’ – Gilbert Doctorow

    ‘Germany’s Scholz vows to support Ukraine ‘as long as needed’ – Al Jazeera

    You can add the UK to that list-

    ‘Volodymyr Zelensky promised UK attack drones during London visit’

    Zelensky was very disappointed when the Pope had no billions or weapons to offer him on his visit to him. Maybe he should have worn a suit & tie instead of a t-shirt & combat boots. C’mon man – it’s the Pope.

    1. JTMcPhee

      Not his pope. Got his own Orthodox Church thingie, like Henry the VII. Just part of the theater of the absurd, that always results, in all its formulations and manifestations, in wealth transfer to the malefactors, and debility and death for the mopery.

      1. hk

        There is a sort of linkage: Ukrainian nationalism has always been linked to the Uniate Catholic Church, which looks like the Orthodox, but is a part of the Catholic Church and has always been hostile (the feeling is mutual) to the Eastern Orthodoxy since the time of the Czars. The Pope knows this. The Kremlin knows this. A lot of Russians know this. One analogue might be to the Croatians during both World War 2 and the 90s: the Ustashe had close links with the Catholic Church in Croatia and, in both 40s and 90s, the Vatican (and the West) was very sympathetic towards Croatia. (Cardinal Stepinac, the controversial Croatian churchman known for his ambiguous relationship to the Nazis, remains a revered figure. Archbishop Sheptytski and Cardinal Slipyi hold similar roles in Ukraine–again, complete with ambiguous relationship with the Nazis.)

        1. hk

          Interestingly, Pope Francis might soon canonize Sheptytski and other Ukrainian Catholic leaders. (Sheptytski was beafied in 2015… convenient timing.). Sheptytski, it should be noted, was a lifelong nationalist activist who clashed with the Poles (Polish bishops exerted pressure against his canonization in the previous decades) and, at least early on, supported the Nazis (he blessed the troops of the Ukrainian SS units when they were being originally formed, among others.)

            1. hk

              Yeah. Sheptytski, in particular, is a strange character (And everything that’s been said about Stepinac, the Croatian cardinal, applies to him, too). They were both close political ally to pro-Nazi natinoalist leaders, at least at the institutional level (Bandera for Sheptytski, Pavelic for Stepinac) and were very supportive of them for several years . Their flock, both laity and clergy, were openly associated with the ultranationationalist goons aligned with Nazis involved in many atrocities. Their supporters like to emphasize that they both spoke against the excesses of the regime (without doing anything about it in their formal powers) and quietly helped dozens of Jews escape (Ukrainians have been trying hard to get Sheptytski named as a Righteous among Nations.) But, there is something fundamentally wrong, even if they did quietly help dozens or even hundreds of Jews escape, that people who were very public supporters and allies (as heads of very influential institutions, no less) of the regimes committing atrocities several orders of magnitude greater than whatever help they offered the victims quietly, should be praised for being “righteous.” (As Bryan Rigg, the historian who wrote about “Hitler’s Jewish soldiers” wryly noted, Hitler himself signed tens of thousands of exemptions that spared Jews and “partial Jews” (in Nazi terminology) from camps and allowed them to stay in the military and government jobs. Should he be praised for “saving” Jews?)

      1. The Rev Kev

        The US arms industry will be happy as Europe is being drained of all Russian military equipment. And when those NATO countries go shopping for replacement weapons, guess who they will be shopping with?

        1. digi_owl

          The US MIC has their tentacles in everything.

          Much like everything else reasonably technological in Europe, anything USA like they are liable to buy and strip clean.

        2. vao

          “And when those NATO countries go shopping for replacement weapons, guess who they will be shopping with?”

          South Korea.

          When Poland embarked on replacing all the Warsaw Pact era gear it sent to Ukraine, and on top of that beefing up its arsenals, it found out that the USA was incapable of providing enough weapons, of the right kind, in time, at affordable conditions — because of its atrophied industry. The result? A contract with South Korea to provide:

          a) 980 K2 tanks (800 of them eventually produced in Poland);
          b) 648 K9 self-propelled howitzers;
          c) 218 K239 rocket launchers;
          c) 48 FA-50 fighter jets.

          Yes, the Poles also ordered some gear from the USA (such as F-35), but the trend is clear: an old lesson (since WWI) is that a modern war is defined by the Materialschlacht, and therefore one needs a lot of weaponry. The USA does not have the capacity, and its prices are exhorbitant.

          I strongly suspect that North American firms will be dismayed to see so many potentially juicy contracts go to — NATO compatible — providers in South Korea, Israel, or even Turkey and Japan.

    2. OIFVet

      It’s beyond humiliating for Europe to be kow-towing to a grifting clown. Scholz basically gave Zelensky’s behind a thorough tongue job. Europe has become the world’s eunuch.

      1. Polar Socialist

        One wonders if it’s possible to have such a strong bubble you actually can’t see the rest of the world looking at you like you were incarnated Mr. Smithers from The Simpsons, then turning away because it’s too embarrassing to look at you (even if you were kicking them in the teeth only a short while ago).

        1. Polar Socialist

          Maybe that is Mr. Z’s exit plan: Ark of the Covenant would get rid of all the Nn… etho-nationalists surrounding him and he could make the peace he was elected to make in the first place.

    3. Bugs

      Good, long article Why Are We in Ukraine? by Benjamin Schwarz and Christopher Layne, one a former editor at The Atlantic, in the new issue of Harpers.

      I think anyone can read 2 articles a month if you don’t have a subscription.

  8. petal

    When can we start using “A Ukraine” as a unit? Like “How many Ukraines is the NASA Pluto mission? How many Ukraines would a student loan bailout be?” etc.
    Have a good Monday, all.

    1. The Rev Kev

      So do you mean, for example, that the cost of ending homelessness in America is about one-seventh of a Ukraine Unit?

    2. Not Again

      Can we also start using “a Zelensky” to denote half a billion? Like, “Zelensky stole $400 million of aid in about 10 months” so an annual haul of half a billion dollars equals “1 Zelensky.”

      1. The Unabiker

        I’ve already determined that olive drab is now the color zelenskyy. And to dress the part, one puts on their zelenskys…it’s like those hyper goofy days when Beatle boots and Beatle wigs were really a thing. Everybody wants some. Perhaps Decathlon or REI has em in stock??, a blue and yella flag with every purchase. Unfortunately I’m in Asia so I can’t confirm the hypothesis. Though, I’m ok wif dat.

  9. Bart Hansen

    Re: Poultry vaccines. I have a photo of myself vaccinating baby chickens with an eye dropper in Guatemala long ago. Don’t recall what I was protecting them against.

  10. t

    I suppose if photoshop faking becomes that easy, we’ll have to come up with a system where trusted observers go to a place and report back so we’ll have some idea of what happened.

    1. Wukchumni

      Photoshop killed Weekly World News, and i’ve not recovered from the idle time I used to spend in line @ the supermarket sucked in by the title on the front cover, such as:

      ‘World War 2 Bomber Found on the Moon!’

      And there it was, a sturdy B-24 superimposed on a crater…

  11. SocalJimObjects

    Asians can think for themselves on Taiwan. I can’t speak for the Japanese or South Koreans because they have GRAND ambitions. Not in order of importance.
    1. It’s not our business.
    2. We have more important things to do like eradicating poverty, Taiwan is somewhere in our list, like number 1 billion.
    3. We have not forgotten about colonialism. If something is bad for our ex colonial masters, it’s probably good for us.

    1. Laura

      I don’t take Ray McGovern et al seriously.

      The people who could be prosecuted, jailed, guillotined, or even just publicly shamed for the JFK assassination – they are all conveniently dead.

      If Ray McGovern wants to come over to my house one afternoon, we can go over all the people involved in the 9/11 event – most of whom are still living.

      I doubt he’ll take me up on my offer.

      I’d rather see the Ray McGoverns and “veteran intelligence officers for sanity” of the world working on more recent “deep state” crimes for which criminal prosecutiion is still possible.

      Ray would rather sing ditties in senate chambers.

      1. tevhatch

        Ah, that was you sitting in the cell opposite Ray McGovern when he was given a black eye, shoulder sprain and then held for protesting the nomination of Gina Haspel? Or was that you in the cell when Ray McGovern was beaten again and held in jail for preparing to question David Petraeus over his war crimes in Iraq?

        Sloppy bot work, Laura, what ever you are, machine or human.

      2. Yves Smith

        Violation of our overarching Harlan Ellison comments rule, as well as factually false, as tevhatch demonstrated.

        And you have absolutely no business attacking other commentors over links they provide. That is COMPLETELY out of line.

        I trust you will find your happiness on the Internet elsewhere.

    2. Alex Cox

      It’s indeed good that Ray McG is denouncing the powers that murdered JFK. His conversion came late in the day, as a result of reading a book titled JFK and the Unthinkable. Since Mark Lane, Philip Melanson and others have been writing intelligent works on the subject for more than 50 years, I do wonder what Ray was reading prior to happening on that book.

      1. tevhatch

        Ray relates not just what he was reading, but things he heard while in the CIA, in the link Flora provided.

        1. Screwball

          That is the book that RFK Jr. referenced in interviews I have watched. I’ve read the book. I thought it was pretty good. Coming from someone who has read many on the subject, and even went to Dealey Plaza.

          I am afraid to even say this, but RFK Jr. has said things way off the beaten path of acceptable dialog, not even counting the things he’s said about how JFK died. I don’t think that is popular in some circles.

          He’s also read the history books. Is the guy legit, or another con job by TPTB?

      2. pjay

        It’s interesting that in response to Ray’s narrative, Aaron Mate states that he knows little about the subject, but that the two sources he is familiar with regarding JFK’s foreign policy vs. the national security establishment are the JFK books by *Chomsky* and *Hersh*! Unfortunately, this is often the case with those on the left. Ray’s response shows that he is, really, a novice on the subject. He cites James Douglas’ book in response, but does not really make clear that much information that was declassified in the 1990s – thanks to Oliver Stone – shed light not just on the assassination, but also on JFK’s intentions and actions regarding Vietnam and Cuba. It shows Chomsky was wrong (Ray does refer to a couple of the relevant documents in his comments). Hersh’s book was just a vicious smear job. Both books have been successfully criticized, if not debunked, by information that was available at the time of their publication or that has been subsequently declassified.

        Assassination details aside, it is important to get the policy struggles right if we are ever going to understand why that event was a major turning point in our own history.

  12. Samuel Conner

    This should be interesting — NPR interviews Stephanie Kelton re: the Debt Limit. 11AM ET today.

    A recent email blast (Prof Kelton’s “The Lens”) mentions that the interviewer explicitly favors MMT concepts (which is a surprise to me as I have come to think of NPR as “Neoliberal Propaganda Radio”; evidently the individual programs have more “cognitive discretion” than the daily NPR-brand news programs).

    1. Skip Intro

      I heard the acronym actually stood for National Pentagon Rationalisers. Recall the the Pentagon is the world’s largest and most successful demonstration of MMT for the 6th decade running.

        1. in_mild_thunder

          Car Talk – with the Click and Clack was an entertaining program to listen on Saturday mornings.

          1. davejustdave

            I enjoyed Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me….even after I swore off the NPR news shows – but I stopped listening when they went back to live audiences about a year ago.

    2. Samuel Conner

      The segment was IMO a bit of a disappointment; a lot of wrong conventional thinking from the majority of the guests. Some of the recorded call-in input was bonkers. I suppose that it’s important to include confusion and obfuscation to provide balance.

      Prof Kelton was permitted to make a couple of important MMT points, including (my paraphrase) that the Federal deficit is surplus to non-government sectors and actors, and that rather than obsessing on the size of this surplus and trying to minimize it, we should be more concerned with precisely where it is going and what good or harm it is doing.

      The interviewer was clearly enthusiastic about MMT; I suspect that he has read The Deficit Myth, which is the clearest MMT pedagogy I have encountered in my ~15 years of interest in the subject. Perhaps this program will “lean into” this in the future.

      1. skippy

        Yeah its a difficult concept to get peoples heads wrapped around, since most have some sort of Quantity Theory of Money [QTM] bias – indoctrinated/gifted to them and perpetuated by so called common sense norms.

        And as some point out below various sectors like MIC/Wall St/Petroleum/ et al get the benefits whilst any public/social good administered by Government is de-funded or sold off. So as you point out its just a distribution question and not one of Government Fiat. The neoliberal agenda is and has been fine with MMT for me and not thee for decades, because it all about shaping the socioeconomic narrative first and foremost.

        Its obvious by now post GFC and now Covid what the priorities are … even managed to gin up a new conflict with a nation that has the ability to fight back and for a length of time. That should keep the unwashed tied to the may pole and dancing around it for years …

    3. some guy

      Unfortunately, she did not respond to the host’s lie that the big entitlement spending programs like Medicare and Social Security are what really drive the deficit. It is too bad she let that get by her.

      Still, the1A is one of several good programs that still exist on NPR. Since I am not one of the cool kids, I don’t mind being laughed at for saying that.

  13. Brooklin Bridge

    I tried to follow this link from “Links” yesterday and after clicking on it was taken to the site which I saw only for a few seconds before the view (the site not the screen) went blank. I tried it several times again only to get the same result only faster; a flash of text followed by the view going blank. This is the second time something like this happened from links. Looks like someone is making sure I/we see only the right kind of freedom of expression. Anyone else have this experience? I recently moved and It’s possible it’s my “new” network provider.

    Is Lukashenko Dead?

    1. digi_owl

      What is the browser you use? Because the site has a blurring effect with a “please register” popup going on that may not be handled correctly by your browser.

    2. ex-PFC Chuck

      I just clicked it in Firefox running under Windows 10 and it comes up fine, although with a “sign up” pop-up, which I bypassed by clicking on the “Reader View” icon immediately to the right of the URL.

  14. montanamaven

    Thanks for the Matt Stoller article. The Writer’s Strike in Hollywood is a great bi-partisan issue. Stoller writes a great piece on the history of consolidation in the industry and how it has stifled creativity. (Yes, most stuff sucks right now, but it didn’t used to and need not be.) So the strike is not about fair pay but fairness in general and transparency. We are great storytellers. We need to get the weird and wonderful back. We really don’t want Hollywood to go the way of Maytag or RCA. Make Hollywood Great Again! Trump can run on that or RFKjr. (Oh and a tip: Not everybody can be a writer or an actor or a director. We really need people who can grow things, fix our toilets, and keep the lights on.)

    1. Carolinian

      I dunno. Sometimes Stoller can be like the Tom Friedman of monopoly and simplify discussions rather than illuminate. He leaves out all the other factors that have given us modern Hollywood including the rise of cable and pay TV, the Betamax and then the VCR, the computer revolution and how it both encouraged the making of expensive special effects spectacles and supplied yet another Youtube alternative for viewer eyeballs.

      And, after Covid, movie theaters themselves are increasingly under threat and along with it their box office metric of public enthusiasm.

      I certainly agree that modern Disney is a disaster and Wall Street thinking at its worst, but there are lots of independent producers still and A24 just won the best picture. Breaking up big Hollywood mergers would undoubtedly be desirable but the notion that the British surge of reality shows was some kind of creative triumph is laughable.

      The real problem would be H’wood executives who want to make IP the focus rather than creativity–thus the endless franchises and remakes. Streaming has broken that up a bit but may not be a format–paying for every channel–that the public really wants.

      1. montanamaven

        Thanks for these qualifications. This is what I love about NC. I can make a point and then have it dissected. Good observation on Stoller = Friedman. On the surface Stoller piece sounds good like “The Lexus and the Olive Tree” that I actually bought when it came out. Later I made sure I threw it in the dump rather than have it end up in a library. The Studio System of the 1930s and 1940s had a lot of pluses. Many writers and many actors were hired on yearly contracts with some stability. There was room for independent contracts by stars like Carole Lombard, Barbara Stanwyck, and Constance Bennett. There was also something to be said for the heads of the studios living in Hollywood and going to work every day in the thick of things even though their financial bosses still lived in New York.
        It’s one of our last “made in America” products and there are a lot of below the line jobs on the line, so I hope they can hash out something fair.

        1. montanamaven

          On third thought, Matt puts in far more research than Thom. Thom gets his info from waiters in fancy rooftop restaurants.

      2. Wukchumni

        Hollywood can’t compete against the likes of the small guy or gal entertainer doing actual reality tv.

        My friend Wonderhussy needs a smart phone & a drone in terms of production costs, and she has nearly a quarter million subscribers, and yet on her last video she was complaining about online revenue being down quite a bit-which she related others were also experiencing.

        If her costs almost nothing production values are going through a rough patch, how is corporate tv/movies doing?

        1. Carolinian

          Phone cameras are now quite good although I prefer my Canon EOS-M for movies. My brother is addicted to Youtube V-loggers who he says are all now complaining about new NPS fees and restrictions on commercial filming.

        2. digi_owl

          doesn’t help that a large part of the output is formulaic, and abusive of old cherished IPs by slacktivist writers.

          When the biggest seller is a rehash of a 80s pentagon propaganda piece (mostly remembered for its excellent soundtrack), you know something is deeply rotten.

          More and more it feels like the western world has come right round to the 60s again, but worse.

  15. Carolinian

    Re the Right to Repair discussion–while I think most of us favor such a right–I once bought a car in part because the dealer also sold the 10 lb official service manual–there’s a degree of naivite about such discussions and especially with regard to the comments on smartphones. Just as with old Detroit, when it comes to electronic devices planned obsolescence is the business model and since many of these items are not likely to break other than the battery wearing out and therefore they could last a decade or more. Without the constant “upgrades” those Apple factories in China would grind to a halt.

    So if they want to get serious about this approach to energy savings then it’s really a right to repair capitalism itself that is being talked about. And maybe we don’t need all those smartphones anyway.

    But for heavy duty goods that take so much energy to make then surely nobody can argue. I upgraded my refrigerator to a much more efficient modern version that has better insulation but I’m waiting to see just how long the electronic control system lasts. For such a technically simple device all such systems should be generic and not just repairable. It’s the “intellectual property” problem–rent seeking–that is at the root, not the electronics.

    1. doug

      We recently bought a GE refrigerator. It has an RFID chipped water filter. No one else sells replacements. Every six months(which is how long we have had the fridge), it cuts off the water flow to the ice maker. Some GE hot runner has now created an ongoing $120/year revenue stream for a fridge. I was unaware when I bought it. There is a bypass filter which I have purchased. And we will put an external filter somewhere.
      I think of myself as a careful buyer, but this purchase has shown that I am not always.

      1. flora

        wow. Is “planned obsolescence” now replaced by “planned extortion rent extraction”? Good to know. That’s something I check for on all future appliance purchases, tvs, etc.
        Thanks for the heads up.

        1. Wukchumni

          Its worse than you know, my smart alec fridge exclaims snide remarks if I eat something after 10 pm. such as:

          ‘Did you really need that piece of pie, and it won’t digest properly while you sleep.’

          ‘I had half a mind to get rid of the drumsticks in the freezer when you were gone’

          ‘stand up straight, we need to talk about your posture.’

        2. ambrit

          Oh boy. Don’t get any of we DIY automobile people started on “planned obsolescence” in the car zone. I personally have two vehicles that became basically obsolete in twenty years. I can fix them, but major spare parts are no longer made, even by the aftermarkets companies. Then there is the issue of computerization. Ever ask your local auto shop their basic price for a computer diagnostic hook up? (Now needed for almost everything automotive.) I’m talking in the three figures just for the initial hook up. Repairs extra.
          As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I am saving up out of the Social Security cheques to purchase a basic bi-directional multi-brand scan tool. The cheaper useable models are pushing up to five hundred dollars US. Naturally, none available for sale on Craigslist or the Nextdoor Market.
          Keep that bicycle in good working order! Speaking of bicycles, I have recently experienced a blow out and outer tyre shredding on my Schwinn Le Tour 3 bike, [bought it at a garage sale for $25 USD.] Anyone know where to find replacements at below fifty bucks? Ye Gods! Everything is expensive today.
          If this keeps on, I’m going to have to start stealing hubcaps.

          1. jefemt

            Good quality bike tires have always made me marvel… 75% to the cost of a small car tire?! and if memory serves, you are looking at 27″, vs 700 MM?

            Schwinn Le Tour…what a gem, a sleeper… steel is real! Some of those were even made in the USA?!

            Behold the bicycle— in my top tier of admirable man-made contrivances, along with public libraries.

            1. Carolinian

              Hey Walmart sells tires, metric and english–the fold up kind.

              I used to buy Continental skinny tires from REI for ten bucks but think they cost a lot more now. Made in Germany.

          2. Airgap

            Although I try to support my local bike store their prices can be exorbitant for simple necessities. As an alternative I’ve found that Walmart, at least the ‘super size’ ones, have surprisingly good bike accessory departments. 27″ tires for around $10. I just bought a chain cleaning system that included a wrap-around-the-chain brush and both the liquid cleaner solvent and a lubricant all for $17. I have three bikes and always need something.

      2. Brooklin Bridge

        In spite of my comment above about disappearing sites, I think it better to make such mistakes than to become overly paranoid. There seems to be just too many gotchas going on these days to avoid them all, though too bad it had to be a big item like a refrigerator.

      3. Questa Nota


        With some truth in marketing, that would be displayed on those GE and other manufacturer MFer refrigerators and other impacted devices.

      4. Oh

        I have a simple Whirlpool fridge. Every few months it signals a requirement to change the water filter for the icemaker. However, they have an out (press the button 3 times and it changes back to red). The water I use is from an RO unit but they have the light programmed to come on every 3 months or so. People who don’t know how to change the light from red to green will be buying filters from Whirlpool. Cha Chiing!

    2. Medbh

      Instead of a right to repair, I want to see manufacturers have lifetime product responsibility. If you create it, you are responsible for the disposal costs too. Products will never be recyclable as long as people can throw things in the trash and forget about it. The manufacturers don’t care, as they already got their profits and passed off the costs to everyone else. Make them responsible for the products from design to disposal, and planned obsolescence wouldn’t be profitable anymore.

      1. bwilli123

        And individual retailers made responsible for collecting returns, for either disposal or re-processing, of product packaging.

      2. some guy

        Didn’t that used to be the law in Germany? Maybe it still is?

        Maybe such a law would provide an incentive to make things which last for decades instead of months or a year or three. Think how many fewer of its things a thingmaking company would have to take back and handle if each of its things lasted 10-30 times longer than a lot of things now last?

    3. Unfinished

      What great comments, all, regarding the right to repair and planned obsolescence. Our most illuminating experience involves the Jenn-Air electric downdraft range that came with the home we bought 10 years ago. This appliance was an ugly hulking piece of junk. So poorly engineered, its always-dingy glass cooktop heated poorly and the flimsy oven door never sealed properly. The lack of nobs on the range left one completely at the mercy of the electronic control panel which, because of its placement above the leaky oven, burnt out easily and often. We YouTubed how to replace the costly panel ourselves.

      Here’s the thing. We cannot install overhead ducting in the kitchen so we need a downdraft range if we want to vent outside. All downdraft ranges are now manufactured by Whirlpool regardless of brand and they thus have you over a barrel. These ranges are famously shoddy but jaw-droppingly expensive. So early in the pandemic our broiler, then oven, stopped working. Unable to afford or bring ourselves to buy a replacement from the Kenmore/KitchenAid/Jenn-air racket we started watching craigslist etc. for used options; something that dated from the era when Jenn-Air still produced top quality ranges. It took some time but we found one right here in town. A 1992 model, it is a fully-loaded thing of beauty (exchangeable grills/griddles, canning/wok elements, etc.). We paid $95 and installed it ourselves in an afternoon. The white enamel surface is a cinch to wipe up, the old-fashioned coil elements get much hotter, much more quickly. And as for the oven, it’s a veritable vault. I expect this range to last at least another 30 years. And we intend to find a second just like it… ~$100 for eventual spare part needs.

      As for our dishwasher, we’ve happily gone back to doing them by hand.

    4. some guy

      Once the electronic control system fails, as designed and intended, would there be a way to strip out its dead remains and put in an old fashioned bi-metallic strip thermostat-concept control system?

      1. WhoaMolly

        I stripped out the $150 electronic control board for my son’s window cooler and replaced it with a $5 mechanical switch. Works fine.

        We found the How-to instructions for this fix, which applied only to his particular cooler, on YouTube.

        1. Questa Nota

          YouTube, source for guidance on many DIY projects. Car repair, appliances, home renovations, chances are someone has done the same project you are contemplating. A great timesaver!

  16. The Rev Kev

    ‘Marco Rubio and 2 other US senators introduce bill to rename the Taipei Representative Office to “Taiwan Representative Office”, the exact same move as Lithuania 2 years ago, which led China to effectively cut almost all relations with the country.’

    Gotta keep on poking that dragon. Rubio and his ilk imagine that China will just be like Russia and will refuse to raise to the bait of all these provocations but I would not be so sure about that. They are a very patriotic people and will have a lower tolerance level for this sort of mickey mouse crap. Hard to say how they would react but they might for a start announce an investigation of the Biden family’s dealings with Chinese nationals and companies. Maybe they might do so next year as the elections really start up. Would that count for interfering with a US election?

    1. jobs

      Of course. Only the US can interfere with its own election. However, the US reserves the right to interfere with any election, anywhere.

      Rules-based order, you know.

  17. The Rev Kev

    “Why the economic war against Russia has failed”

    Alexander Mercouris was talking about this article along with another which indicates the rage that the UK establishment feels over how the sanctions from hell regime have been a total failure. Certainly there is outrage how the Global South refused to listen and follow the Collective West but followed their own interests instead. Imagine that. Actually that term Global South is a misnomer as a Russian politician pointed out and should rightly be the Global Majority as it is comprised of about 80% of the world’s nations. This article also expresses outrage to goods still getting through the sanctions regime, including oil, but if they did not then Europe would be toast. As it is, the epic blowback of the sanctions regime is trashing the UK & EU’s economy and it’s-not-just-fair! But after a year of this, they are literally out of ideas and cannot think of what else to do which is why this article ends with the pathetic thought ‘we will have to think again.

  18. Lexx

    ‘The Religious Landscape is Undergoing Massive Change. It Could Decide the 2024 Election’

    I was imagining just for a moment that I’m a pastor in one of those states that are losing members out in the pews, and I’m sitting in my office with the church bookkeeper discussing last Sunday’s take, when I get a phone call inquiring about the how the membership numbers are holding up.

    Is there oversight regarding membership in churches? One would hope… because if I was any way held responsible for an ever smaller congregation and it’s attendance, I might be inclined to fudge the report. Also if was being held in god-like regard for the success of my megachurch in a Red State, I might be inclined to fudge the report. Either way, the religion-inclined and their organizations would look super duper come The Inquisition survey.

    And is the author suggesting that ‘secularism’ is part of the Democratic Party’s long term strategy… isn’t Biden a devout Catholic? (The second in U.S. history, after Kennedy)

    1. ambrit

      Biden a Catholic? Probably, but as Phyllis, (an old guard New Orleans Roman Catholic,) says, “I don’t know about the devout part.”
      This being the dangly part of the Bible Belt, we see annual groups of evangelizers “spreading the Gospel” to the suburban masses. It’s a regular part of spring around here.
      Be safe!

        1. ambrit

          Ooooooh! That made my hemorrhoids ache!
          “Hey pretty boy! Let me show you the back way of the Lord!”
          I “grew up” in South Florida, so don’t get me started on Florida anatomico-geographic puns! Many of them would not be ‘appropriate’ even for the jaded lot of flaneurs who hang around this Cafe des Sophistes Electronique.

    2. Gregorio

      The article mentions Maricopa Co. Az as having an increase of 300,000 people who adhere to a religion between 2010 and 2020, but fails to mention that the population of Maricopa county increased by over 600,000 people during that same time period, making the church going percentage of the population, static at best.

      1. LifelongLib

        I keep reading various stories — that while membership in “mainstream” religious groups is declining, it’s increasing in fundamentalist/evangelical groups. Or that membership in all types of organizations (not just religious ones) is declining, I suppose as people spend more time in front of their screens than of each other. Overall the article seems in the same vein as the trope about changing demographics helping the Democrats, only this time it’s religion (or its lack).

  19. spud

    more bad news ahead,

    Chicago’s Empty Office Towers Threaten Its Future as a Major Financial Hub

    “(Bloomberg) — In the heart of Chicago’s financial center, a seven-story building occupying much of a city block was once home to the world’s largest options exchange. Now, it’s collecting dust.

    The property, for decades home to the floor where options traders jostled and screamed orders at each other, has been on the market since 2019, but owner Cboe Global Markets Inc. can’t find a buyer.

    The Chicago Board of Trade building, once a key commodities hub, has fared even worse, with lenders handing the keys over to Apollo Global Management Inc. Over on the Magnificent Mile, the famed shopping strip that runs north of the Chicago River on Michigan Avenue, empty storefronts dot the streets, with vacancies at a record.”

    1. WhoaMolly

      I can’t think of a single reason to stay in any major American city.

      A perfect storm of failing and unsafe transit systems, inadequate roads, street crime, high speed Internet, Amazon shopping, and efficient zoom meetings might have made them irrelevant.

      Smart people are saying “Get out of cities! Now.” It’s hard to disagree with them when places like Whole Foods and Nordstrom have come to the same conclusion.

      If so, commercial real estate is headed for major upheaval. It’s possible that high-rise office buildings will one day look like abandoned shopping malls. I don’t think it will even be possible to convert the buildings to residences.

      1. some guy

        By “stay”, do you mean “live” or “visit”? Because I can think of any number of major America cities I would like to “visit” if I didn’t have to ever “live” there.

  20. Cetra Ess

    re: The Religious Landscape is Undergoing Massive Change. It Could Decide the 2024 Election Politico

    I don’t necessarily agree with the conclusions here:

    “We know this because of the tireless work of the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies. Every 10 years, they contact as many religious denominations as they can and ask to see their official membership records. “

    I think it’s possible Americans are becoming more religious but just not identifying with common denominations or churches, which is as it should be.

    Also, it should be emphasized that from the point of view of an ordinary non-American, based on the news coming out of the US, America is one of the more fundie countries in the world, appears to be heading toward Handmaids Tale and something akin to the Taleban, the separation between religion and state is getting smaller, not larger. So, the media might be misrepresenting the reality?

    1. JBird4049

      >>>Also, it should be emphasized that from the point of view of an ordinary non-American, based on the news coming out of the US, America is one of the more fundie countries in the world, appears to be heading toward Handmaids Tale and something akin to the Taleban, the separation between religion and state is getting smaller, not larger. So, the media might be misrepresenting the reality?

      The problem is oversimplification. The United States of America has over three hundred million people across a third of a continent, and while the country is relatively young, there is effectively five centuries, if you take just the Europeans with the various waves of immigration from very, very different parts of Europe under different causes, and thousands more if you add the Native Americans. There are extremely religious areas intermixed with the not very, intermixed with the conservative and the liberal. Wealthy and poor. Farming with industrial. This has always been true. Alabama and Mississippi are vastly different from California and New York and all four are different from Texas, Florida, and Utah.

      Then add that the country has gone through several cycles of religious revivals going back centuries, of which I am not as well informed as I should be. It helps to know that due to the history of separation of church and state, people have focused more on religion as a personal and social thing, and not a governmental and legal thing. Meaning that people do not equate the government or the elites with religion as has happened with other societies. Restated, the status, and therefore the popularity of a religion is not as directly tied to the status or acceptance of the government or ruling structure.

      Then there is the problem of defining the meaning of “fundie” especially historically. And with the understanding that fundamentalism is generally conservative, the question still remains, do you mean conservative or liberal fundamentalism? The current absence of an organic and effective socially left and/or liberal society and institutions includes the religious. Christian and Jewish organizations spanned almost the entirety of the American political and social spectrum for over three centuries making the last fifty years of an increasingly feckless, small, and irrelevant left side of the spectrum new and strange. Granted, this is always in relation to just how conservative American society is at anytime in its history, which also tends to change both in degrees and ways.

      Still, general reformist, utopian, antislavery, and civil rights movements all have had their start, or at least their core support, from religious institutions. John Brown and Martin Luther King Jr. were deeply religious. The forceful, even violent, pushback from society’s elites, business, conservative religious believers, and the government was against them was also normal.

      And all of this complexity is memory holed by the lobotomized, corrupted and/or partially destroyed social, educational, religious, and governmental institutions with the emphasis of that put on the leftist and/or liberal elements. The “if it bleeds, it leads” practice of the press also does not help.

    2. kareninca

      I think many young people don’t join churches because they can’t afford to. There are expectations about donations, and they are not entirely unreasonable if you want to belong to a church that employs a pastor (for instance)(mine doesn’t, and that does keep costs very low). And buildings are expensive to maintain. Plus young people are simply exhausted. I don’t think this shows that they are less spiritually inclined; that I just don’t know.

  21. semper loquitur

    Hospitals create police forces to stem growing violence against staff

    One person died and four were injured in a shooting at a medical office building in downtown Atlanta on May 3. The violence came one day after Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed a hospital safety act into law.

    This May, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, signed a law that boosts criminal penalties for assaults against hospital workers and allows health care facilities in the state to create independent police forces. The law is a response to that testimony as well as hospital lobbying and data documenting a rise in violence against health care workers. In enacting the law, Georgia joined other states attempting to reverse a rise in violence over the last several years through stiffer criminal penalties and enhanced law enforcement.

    “enhanced law enforcement”

    1. Wukchumni

      Hip’ocratic Oath:

      I will prevent disease whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure. I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those sound of mind and body as well as the infirm, but if they come at me with a Steely Dan i’m gonna blast em’ with my Glock.

    2. Glen

      Last time I had to take my wife to the hospital ER, that’s all I saw was armed security guards. They were behind the ER reception desk. And outside was a line of ambulances waiting for when they could unload patients – they can wait a long time.

      Speaking of long time, how long do you have to be dealing with aches, pains, weird nerve stuff after covid? It’s been months for me.

      1. aletheia33

        i am sorry that you are going through this post-covid ordeal.
        i believe that no one knows at this point how to predict when such problems will end for any individual patient.
        i hope others more knowledgeable than i will weigh in here and direct you to good sources where you can learn more about current research on covid sequelae and find general discussion of the issue and how others with covid are dealing with it.
        regular reading of the timely and helpful covid info on this site is an excellent place to start.

    3. B24S

      Son #2, though halfway through nursing school, is still employed as an ER Tech at a local suburban hospital. He’s pretty big, and a former wrestling champion.

      I would be thrilled if they had some real security, as opposed to a geriatric with a phone. And do you think the cops’ll even show up, much less do anything? It’s not just the drug seekers and frequent flyers either. He’s had to physically intervene with all sorts, from tweakers going off to Firemen whose meds backfired, and I’m always worried about him getting hurt. That’s on top of worrying about infection.

      I was in different hospital for some minor surgery last October, and one of the nurses bedside asked my name and DOB for the umpteenth time. When I gave my name she asked if “X” was my son. Her response when I answered in the affirmative was “Oh my God! He saved my life!”

      That should NOT be the tech’s job.

      1. Wukchumni

        I was in and out of Kaiser hospital last month when my mom was there for 8 days, and aside from giving them my i.d. and they in turn giving me a decal to wear for the duration of my visit, I could have gone anywhere in the hospital on the elevators

        The decal didn’t look all that difficult to make a bogus one of…

        Hospitals are a strange place for a mass murder to take place, but damned handy for survivors who didn’t make the cut.

        1. B24S

          JFC, Wuk, you had to go there. Please, don’t give these ********s (choose your invective) any ideas. The ER is where a lot of the misplaced anxiety plays out. I knew an ER doc in LA who almost died when a previous patient (not his, I don’t think) came back with a vengeance and a gun. There were fatalities, just not him.

          My other is an ER PA, and he has similar stories. His workplace is right next to a very wealthy town, and the residents are extremely entitled.

          Now I’m really going to have nightmares…

          Oh, and that’s where I was, Kaiser. They removed a large cyst from my neck. You know, almost like Rosie Greer (not really). At least I knew they’d take good care of me. But no need for stickers or anything, I’ve never seen anyone get challenged at the entrance.

  22. Carolinian

    Re “rip and replace”

    “For many rural communities, they are faced with the disastrous choice of having to continue to use insecure networks that are ripe for surveillance or having to cut off their services,” said Geoffrey Starks, a Democratic commissioner at the FCC.

    Yes legions of Chinese operatives are doubtless huddled over their terminals monitoring what rural Alabamians are saying to each other. Maybe they receive the feeds via spy balloon. The Bidenista/Congressional stupid, it burns. Trump’s in on this one too of course.

    A quick survey of my room reveals that practically every device in it was made in China. Clearly my life is an open book to Xi, who must be greatly interested.

    1. some guy

      Your life probably isn’t, and neither is mine. But the endless trillions of details from endless billions of lives might be of aggregate interest to Xi’s minions for the same reason that the same details from the same lives are interesting in aggregate to all the Private Surveillance Capitalists.

    2. WhoaMolly

      RE: rural Internet access

      Does Starlink not provide access to anyone, anywhere? Honest question.

    3. djrichard

      I’m assuming it’s because the chinese equipment didn’t have the necessary back doors needed by NSA, CIA, etc.

  23. Alice X

    >‘We Have to Find a Way, for the Sake of the Planet, to Use Things Longer’ FAIR

    Well, my computer is fourteen years old, my car is twenty five years old. My piano is forty years old. I have several dresses from my last year in high school, which still fit, that was fifty six years ago. I do try to make things last and lament our throw away culture. Marx had an intriguing insight: when you look at a chair, look past the mere image of the piece of furniture sitting there and see the procession that brought it about. The ecosystem that enabled the tree, the human labor that transformed it. I look at the world that way. Why would we want to make things only to throw them away? (Hint, maybe its Capitalism, dummy) I’m sure native people ask that question.

    1. some guy

      We need to find a way to torture and terrorise the manufacturing sector into making things that last longer, so we can use them longer.

      1. some guy

        And now having read the interview and seeing the quote . . . ” We have to find a way, for the sake of the planet, for the sake of our future, to use these things longer, and manufacture fewer at the beginning” . . . . I again have to say : NO. Telling US that WE have to use these things longer, is just a load of victim blaming.

        WE cannot use these things longer when THEY make these things to break down and fail faster. The only way that we can use these things longer is if they are made to last longer, and the only way to get the makers to make them to last longer is to torture and terrorise them into making their things last longer. Then we can use them longer.

      1. some guy

        What helps is that the maker of the 12-sided die made it to last for decades. Nowadays that 12-sided die would be made to self-destruct in a year or a month or maybe a day, so as to force you to go buy another one which would also then self-destruct in a year or a month or maybe a day. And then someone would accuse you of ” not using it longer”.

      2. Gregorio

        The statistic that refrigerators only last for an average of 7 years, got me thinking about my grandparent’s old 1950’s vintage Kelvinator, that was still in the basement keeping beer cold when my grandfather died a few years ago. I’m pretty sure that any inefficiencies of that old fridge would be more than offset if the replacement costs, and the resources required for the 9 or 10 modern fridges that would be required to achieve 70 years of service, were factored in.

    2. WhoaMolly

      The handle of my “made in china” screwdriver came apart in my hands yesterday. Unbelievable. It was a couple years old.

      1. some guy

        Could the parts be stuck back together around the handle with some kind of powerful glue? Or epoxy cement? And if they could, and once they had set up real tight, could they be wrapped tightly with some electrical tape or other strong and sticky tape?

    3. some guy

      Well , ordered capitalism under law made your computer, car, piano, fifty six year old dresses. And the strongest proof that something is possible is if it has actually happened.

      But that was an older iteration of capitalism. What changed since then? Can those changes be analysed, studied, and then forcibly reversed so as to re-create a ” make it to last” forcefield around all thing-making enterprise?

      ( This is in response to Alice X’s comment).

      1. hunkerdown

        No, that’s industrialism all by itself. That you need some figurehead to attribute creativity to and to blame everything you don’t like on is your own own cognitive error. In fact, if we stopped making cognitive errors like gods or values, things we make for ourselves would last longer because we would have no reason to see our relationships with things as temporary and entitled to be “shopped” for.

        1. JBird4049

          I think that religion and values generally have had little to do with making quality stuff that lasts. People, societies, entire civilizations under different varieties of economics made stuff to last a really long time throughout most of history. It has only been since the last quarter of the twentieth century that everything seems to perpetually degraded in quality with the increasing goal of making as much money in the immediate term by any means including continuous shaving off of quality and lying or deceiving about it.

          Although I have to be careful as looking at the history of food, medicine, and the dyes used in everything from art, to house paint, fabric, and candy in the 19th and early 20th centuries is an extremely nauseating experience. Trust me. One has to be surprised that anyone lived long enough to reproduce in the West. Although caveat emptor (Let the buyer beware.) was the rule back then.

          There are the examples of the quality of the stuff being made as a society becomes poorer. The later it is in the Western Roman Empire, the worst everything made is for example. Going by that example, the United States has been in decline since the 1980s.

      2. tevhatch

        Further to hunkerdown, 14 year old computers, 25 year old cars, 40 year old pianos, fifty six year old dresses also were made under socialist societies trying to advance to the state of communism, so capitalism didn’t create them, but perhaps it created the conditions to crapify them. Maybe what went wrong was the growth in pervasiveness of capitalism. Read Marx on the corrosiveness of competition under capitalisms, this same force that Capitalist claim is the key good of capitalism. Lee Camp has a recent theme from USA exports stats where blood has replaced food in export value, next stop Soylent Green?

    4. Pat

      I replaced my television a little over a year ago. Later today I will be packing it up and hauling it to Fed Ex because it died. The television before that lasted five years. The one before that ten, the one before that twenty five. Any body else see a pattern here?

      I have to admit that I did have to juggle inputs on the longest lived set, and I do have the one that lasted ten because it is too heavy for me to maneuver but I might be able to save it if I can ever get it laid out. (Hope springs eternal, and since I can’t get it to recycling for the same reasons…) But the thing is it was early enough in the flat screen era that there were still real connections, the last two have glued connections and many points where you can just mess it up totally. It is a minefield I wasn’t willing to try to navigate. And I say that as someone who has replaced computer hard drives, power controllers and even laptop screens.

    5. JBird4049

      I have books I bought forty years ago and bought books that are older than me, is that good?

      More seriously, I am slowly trying to buy furniture made fifty plus years ago, not only because I like the midcentury modern style, but the quality of furniture took a serious dive afterwards. Regardless of the cost, stuff made today seems to be mostly good for kindling after a few years.

      1. airgap

        Repurposed my 1973 Nishiki Competition road bike as I was no longer looking for speed but comfort. I started by stripping off all the components, then sending the frame out for sand blasting and powder coating in international orange. With some newer scrounged Shimano parts; comfortable seat, upright handle bars, and new rims, the bike should last me another forty years. It now rides like a nervous thoroughbred with a comfortable saddle.

  24. Matthew G. Saroff

    Oh my! Those cats appear to have no **familyblog**s left to give!

    The expression on their faces screams merciless killing machine.

  25. Willow

    RAND Twitter: RAND’s J.D. Williams on one implication of Ukraine’s choice to make Bakhmut a major fight: “They’ve depleted their stocks of ammunition in that operation, which is then going to delay and/or limit their ability to have their [spring] offensive.”

    Ukraine is fixated on Bakhmut. An attempt to keep Russia in check until promised amour arrives from the West for a major push? Or the only front that remains newsworthy in West? Increasingly looks like Ukraine will have the armour but not the infantry the way things are going. Unless sufficient NATO mercenaries can be found. Deliberately losing to draw NATO in? This will be Russia’s hope & Prigozhin’s antics are working a treat.

    1. Polar Socialist

      I believe M. K. Bhadrakumar recently made the point that Mr. Zelensky’s political future (and perhaps his life) depends on the success (or non-failure) of this offensive, so he’s likely to come up with all kinds of delays and excuses.

      With all the ultra-neoliberal changes his “regime” has pushed trough after banning any opposition, he is not a popular person in Ukraine, so if he can’t bring victory or peace – what is he good for but killing more and more Ukrainians?

      On the other hand, a veteran Russian war correspondent Alexei Borzenko commented that the recent Russian strikes on Ukrainian weapon depots are a clear sign that Ukraine has started to move stuff from west towards the front (which is why Russian intelligence can locate the depots). It’s a lot of stuff to move with the current condition of Ukrainian logistics, but he’s predicting an Ukrainian offensive by the end of this week.

      He also assumes Ukrainians will manage to push 5-10 kilometers into the Russian positions before the offensive stalls when Ukrainians are decimated by the overwhelming Russian firepower.

      Oddly enough, Belarusian Armed Forces have been in high alert since the four Russian aircraft were shot down in neighboring Bryansk region. At least, that’s the excuse Lukashenko gave to media from the command center of Belarusian Air Defense and Air Forces.

      1. The Rev Kev

        They might have the combat power to push back the Russian lines here and there – as the Russians will step back to reduce their casualties – but they won’t have anything to take advantage of any successes and break open the line. So it will be only pr victories in the end.

        I may be wrong but I have begun to wonder if some of the Ukrainians have secretly let the Russian know where those major depots are so that they can be blow up. Without all that gear, no real offensive which would save a lot of Ukrainian lives.

        1. Willow

          More likely ammunition dumps can’t be dispersed due to risk of theft. Which then makes them more easily detected by Russian satellites. Ukrainian kleptocracy more effective than a Russian 5th column undermining West’s plans ;-)

  26. JB

    Not knowledgeable enough about this publication or Thai politics to endorse it, but this is an interesting class-based criticism of the resounding successes of the Move Forward party in the Thai election:

    Basically MFP are portrayed as European style ‘centrists’, making an easy win against parties embodying a monarchist/royalist military dictatorship – but not presenting any real challenge to the rich vs poor divide in the country (which is unsurprising to me, but still less-worse than the military dictatorship) – and that this comes at the expense of the Pheu Thai party (MFP’s soon-to-be coalition partners), who despite also being elite-led, actually have some amount of class consciousness within the party.


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