Links 5/21/2023

Advocates encourage adoptions to celebrate National Rescue Dog Day KMGH

The ‘Devil Bird’ Lands in New York, With More Likely to Come NYT


As Alberta Burns, Politicians ‘Dare Not Speak’ of Climate Change The Tyee. Commentary:

New $800M sustainable aviation fuel plant planned for Washington state Seattle Times (PI) but Shhh…It’s Only Voluntary Doomberg (PI).

Time to pay the piper: Fossil fuel companies’ reparations for climate damages One Earth, Cell:

The recent progress in climate attribution science makes it evident that [the companies that engage in the exploration, production, refining, and distribution of oil, gas, and coal] have played a major role in the accumulation and escalation of [the costs of climate harm] by providing gigatonnes of carbon fuels to the global economy while willfully ignoring foreseeable climate harm. All the while they successfully shaped the public narrative on climate change through disinformation, misleading ‘advertorials,’ lobbying, and political donations to delay action directly or through trade associations and other surrogates. Fossil fuel companies have a moral responsibility to affected parties for climate harm and have a duty to rectify such harm.


Water, Water Everywhere, Yet Local U.S. Planners Are Lowballing Their Estimates Inside Climate News


Omicron Spike confers enhanced infectivity and interferon resistance to SARS-CoV-2 in human nasal tissue (preprint) bioRxiv. From the Abstract: “This entry pathway unlocked by Omicron Spike enables evasion of interferon-induced factors that restrict SARS-CoV-2 entry following attachment. Therefore, the increased transmissibility exhibited by Omicron in humans may be attributed not only to its evasion of vaccine-elicited adaptive immunity, but also to its superior invasion of nasal epithelia and resistance to the cell-intrinsic barriers present therein.” So, while we wait for Godot nasal vaccines, work the sprays….

Major Update: Masks for Prevention of SARS-CoV-2 in Health Care and Community Settings—Final Update of a Living, Rapid Review Annals of Internal Medicine. A metastudy. Since we’ve decided to hand an engineering problem over to evidence-based medicine, so-called, I imagine it’s only a matter of time before industrial masking becomes a target of anti-mask fervor (funded, naturally, by firm owners).

A Methodological Framework for Assessing the Benefit of SARS-CoV-2 Vaccination following Previous Infection: Case Study of Five- to Eleven-Year-Olds Vaccines. Model. From the Abstract: “We show that the most important drivers of benefit are: the degree of protection provided by previous infection; the protection provided by vaccination; the time since previous infection; and future attack rates. Vaccination can be very beneficial for previously infected children if future attack rates are high and several months have elapsed since the previous major wave in this group. Benefits are generally larger for Long Covid than hospitalisation, because Long Covid is both more common than hospitalisation and previous infection offers less protection against it.”

Poultry worker with bird flu travelled to SCOTLAND while positive, sparking warning of a potential ‘disaster’ Daily Mail. But freedom!

Several Moscow districts under quarantine due to bird flu Anadolu Agency


China’s Wavering Recovery Reverses Copper Rally WSJ

Just over half of mainland Chinese people back full-scale war to take control of Taiwan, poll finds South China Morning Post

Coronavirus Hong Kong: daily caseloads hit 10,000, but health chief says outbreak manageable amid high vaccination rate, lower Covid severity South China Morning Post

* * *

‘In a lot of the world, the clock has hit midnight’: China is calling in loans to dozens of countries from Pakistan to Kenya Fortune

Highlights from Xi’an summit China Daily. Interesting:

Kazakhstan in the middle The Interpreter

Differences Over Kashmir & Ukraine Aren’t Impeding The Expansion Of Russian-Pakistani Trade Andrew Korybko


Bangladesh Reports Growing Insurgency on Myanmar Border The Irrawaddy


Adani Probe Will Only Produce Heat, Not Light Bloomberg

What India’s decision to scrap its 2,000-rupee note means for its economy Channel News Asia


Saudi surge of diplomacy brings Assad, Zelenskyy to Arab summit AP

Dear Old Blighty

Is Britain Finally Ready To Admit Brexit Was a (Catastrophic) Mistake? Umar Haque (Re Silc). Lol no.

Biden Administration

Will Biden’s hard-hat environmentalism bridge the divide on clean energy future? AP

A Cohort of Scientists Is About to Be Crushed Mike the Mad Biologist

The Infectious Diseases Specialist, At Risk of Extinction (accepted manuscript) Journal of Infectious Diseases. “Forty-four percent of ID fellowship programs did not fill their training positions in the Medicine Subspecialities Match of the National Resident Matching Program, the highest percentage since 2016 (when 58% of programs did not fill). In fact, ID fellowship training has been undersubscribed for many years, with the ratio of applicants to positions under 1.0 dating back to 2012.”

New Not-So-Cold War

How the US helping Ukraine acquire F-16s shows that for military aid, ‘no’ can become ‘yes’ AP

‘Birds in a cage’? Logistical challenges on cards when Ukraine gets F-16s France24

When we get F-16s, we’ll win this war – Ukraine’s Air Force spokesman Ukrainska Pravda

* * *

Zelenskyy says ‘Bakhmut is only in our hearts’ after Russia claims control of Ukrainian city AP

The Offensive Before the Offensive: Ukraine Strikes Behind Russian Lines WSJ

Commander-in-chief of Ukrainian Armed Forces said to be in critical condition after being wounded Euro Weekly News

* * *

Hillary Clinton says Ukraine war has set back China’s plans for Taiwan FT

Ukraine Considers Allowing Russian Ammonia Transit in Exchange for Expanded Black Sea Grain Deal Reuters

Democrats en Déshabillé

Donald Trump Against America Michael Tomasky, The New Republic. Ask the postman, ask the mailman, ask the milkman, white with foam!


An Algorithm Decides Who Gets a Liver Transplant. Here Are 5 Things to Know. The Markup. More NGO problems.

Nonprofits are sapping the progressive project (excerpt) Noah Smith, Noahpinion. NGO Kounkuey’s La Sombrita project. Commentary:

Entertaining thread!

B-a-a-a-d Banks

Schrödinger’s swap: the audacious plan to trigger Credit Suisse’s CDS FT Alphaville

America’s Biggest Bank Is Everywhere—and It Isn’t Done Growing WSJ

Digital Watch

Chatbots Don’t Know What Stuff Isn’t Quanta. Important.

AI just killed its first big stock Risk Hedge. Bullshit > education.

Get ready for RightWingGPT and LeftWingGPT FOX

Zeitgeist Watch

“The day it came apart.” Patrick Lawrence, The Scrum. April 30, 1975. Powell Memo was 1971, so maybe not?

Not a parody (Re Silc):

Imperial Collapse Watch

How America weaponised the West Unherd. Worth a read.

Class Warfare

New data highlights the big gap between college grads and everyone else Axios

The New Everyday Reality of Service Robots WSJ

Starbucks Union Workers Have a New Strategy to Win a First Contract In These Times

Mike Elk: Journalism and Solidarity (video) The Zero Hour with RJ Eskow

Grand Theft Capital: The Increasing Exploitation and Robbery of the U.S. Working Class Monthly Review

Why flying sucks Business Insider

Going Up London Review of Books

Tips from a traveler; the whole thread is worth a read:

Not sure I like the account’s pinned tweet much, but this thread is great. Maybe I should have filed it under The Jackpot….

Antidote du jour (via):

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. bob

    Wonderful Antidote du jour. None of the green progressives are speaking out against all the deaths of wildlife from energy sources that kill, lithium mining, solar farms and windmills. Why is that?

    1. Dean

      This is from the Sierra Club concerning windmill/turbines:

      “Estimates of up to a million or more birds a year are killed by turbines in the US but that is far exceeded by collisions with communications towers (6.5 million); power lines, (25 million); windows (up to 1 billion); and cats (1.3 to 4.0 billion) and those lost due to habitat loss, pollution and climate change (American Bird Conservancy, Nature). Even if there were twenty times more wind turbines, enough to supply the US with electricity, the number of birds killed, assuming no improvement in wind turbine design, would be about 10 million–still far less than most other causes of bird deaths.”

      I am surprised they left out automobiles/trucks. Anecdotally, I don’t drive much but I am responsiblel for a few. I don’t have cats but my dogs got one that I know of.

      1. tevhatch

        Whoo boy, they left out mono-culture crops, battery farms, etc; which do a number on the born and unborn wildlife. I guess cheap meat / big ag is too difficult a target unless that fits habitat loss.

        1. bob

          Wind turbines are not biodegradable. They are made in China. Whales and dolphins are being killed off Long Island NY.

          1. some guy

            What percent of all the non-biodegradable stuff made in the world is wind turbines?

            What percent of all the stuff made in China is wind turbines? ( Separately, what percent of wind turbines are made in China?)

            Does anyone have any verifiable actual-factual answers to those questions?

      2. neutrino23

        We put in some large sliding window/doors from La Cantina. They are beautiful but highly reflective so we started getting bird strikes. I’ve hung some screen material as a temporary solution. It works.

    2. spud

      most so-called environmentalists and progressives, are frauds.

      “do you know anyone who claims to be a environmentalists, yet embraces free trade? if you do, they are complete frauds.

      you can only imagine how much fossil fuel is being burned to return the empties!

      The US’ biggest export this year was air, thanks to over 12 million empty shipping containers reportedly leaving ports.

      empty containers at Southern California ports can be seen from 80 miles away, clogging local neighborhoods, warehouses, and shipping yards. ”
      free trade, slavery, debt, and massive human and environmental degradation that is the basis of free trade.

      you cannot be a environmentalists, a humanitarian, and be a free trader, its impossible

      “The Bloomberg columnist Noah Smith has repeatedly leaned on McAfee to bolster his own narrative about green growth. People find solace in this story, because it means there’s no need to worry—we don’t need to rethink our growth-based economy or question the consumption patterns of rich countries; we can just carry on with business as usual, and everything will be fine. It’s an alibi for inaction.

      There’s only one problem: McAfee’s argument is based on a fundamental accounting error. McAfee uses data on domestic material consumption, which tallies up the resources that a nation extracts and consumes each year. But this metric ignores a crucial piece of the puzzle. While it includes the imported goods a country consumes, it does not include the resources involved in extracting, producing, and transporting those goods. Because the United States and other rich countries have offshored so much of their production to poorer countries over the past 40 years, that side of resource use has been conveniently shifted off their books.

      In other words, what looks like “green growth” is really just an artifact of globalization. Given how much the U.S. economy relies on offshored production, McAfee’s data cannot be legitimately compared to U.S. GDP, and cannot be used to make claims about dematerialization.

      Ecological economists have been aware of this problem for a long time. To correct for it, they use a more holistic metric called “raw material consumption,” which fully accounts for trade. When we look at this data, which is readily available from the United Nations, the story changes completely. We see that total resource use in the United States hasn’t been falling at all; in fact, it has been rising more or less exactly in line with GDP. The same is true of all other major industrial economies, including the European Union, and the OECD as a group. There has been zero dematerialization. No green growth. It was all an illusion of accounting.”

  2. christofay

    When the U.S. and NATO smashed Libya there was a launching of 100 missiles in the first day. The first estimates that I saw for cost per missile were a $1 million +. Later the estimate I saw for the cost per missile of less than $1 million. This was obviously a damage control exercise in that people might become alarmed that the cost of wrecking Libya cost over a hundred million on the first day. Now the first estimates for cost of the mighty Patriot missiles that were shot off in all directions except for the flight path of the incoming Russian handful of missiles was $5 million x 30 for a cost of $150 million wasted in a few minutes. Yesterday I read that the estimated cost of the invincible mighty Patriot was a mere $3 million per canister. More damage control.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Saw something like that during the 1982 Falklands war. I listened to the BAOR radio at the time and they had this one official guy on explaining how the war would not cost much. He started to talk about excess funds here and unneeded funds there and I am surprised that he did not mention pulling loose change from behind the cushions. He made out that basically the whole war was already paid for – but I noted that there was no sign of these funds in the UK when there was a social need that required urgent funds.

    2. Cetra Ess

      I don’t remember where I saw the comment but the shooting of the missiles in all directions may have been to minimize damage. If it had a partial or full battery of missiles the explosion and collateral damage would have been massive as this Patriot system had been placed in the middle of a residential area, for some reason.

      If I recall, these new Russian missiles have a wobbly trajectory to make interception impossible to calculate? That could be another explanation. If so, seems like the Patriot system is effectively proven defenseless.

      1. JW

        Each kinzhal missile throws off six dummy objects as it nears its target. So two missiles create 12 targets for the patriot system. Hence the number fired. And it also explains why Ukraine AD thought previously that it had hit 6 kinzhals, it hadn’t of course.

      2. Polar Socialist

        The most likely location was the Kiev International airport, so not directly in the middle of residential area. And even if the nature of how the Patriot system operates forces the launchers to be located quite near the radar (so that the radar can “pick the missiles up” and direct them properly), it would still be somewhat illogical to launch all the missiles just in order to save the battery, when you still have
        – a chance to hit the incoming missile
        – hit any other target above Kiev
        – likely still lose only one of the launchers and thus save 16 missiles to fight the next night

    3. Mildred Montana

      >…$150 million wasted in a few minutes.”

      The Pentagon and its suppliers might take issue with that word “wasted”. In the USA, munitions have a short shelf-life.

  3. The Rev Kev

    ‘Bud Light and Budweiser to launch new temporary Camo beer bottles to try and appease conservative consumers in the wake of the brands sales slump from the ongoing boycott.’

    I had heard about these camo beer bottles but had not seen them. After that disastrous ad campaign, Bud Lite sales dropped of a cliff as people sought to punish them for insulting their own customers-

    At this point, they could bring out beer cans painted with the American flag but it won’t work. Maybe Anheuser-Busch should come out and admit that trying to diss the bulk majority of their customers was not the best of ideas. That was certainly the idea behind the thinking of the ex-executive that pushed that controversial ad. This will be one for the marketing textbooks.

    1. griffen

      I was just looking at some recent posts from the highly satirical Babylon Bee, and their version of a new can had a mullet feature image to attract the male customers back. It looks like the Kenny Powers of light beer.

      1. timotheus

        The Babylon Bee also proposed a camo can. Did Anheuser-Busch get the idea there?

      2. Bart Hansen

        Next they will be putting pinups on the cans. There can be a whole series of different models. Get the complete set!

    2. Another Scott

      This Budweiser story reminds me of a problem that I’ve seen all too often with retail stores in particular. Wall Street takes over a company and responds with marketing technique from people who’ve never shopped at the store or interact with the shoppers. As a result, they don’t understand the company and make changes that might make sense in business schools and mathematical models, but not in the real world. I wonder if this incident would have happened if Anheuser-Busch remained an independent company headquartered in St. Louis rather than part of a Brazil and Belgian conglomerate.

      1. Alex Cox

        Their beer was always garbage. I went on the St Louis brewery tour in 1980 and they had a water cooler which disoensed beer. None of the workers went near it.

        1. some guy

          I remember having a can of Coors beer once. It was very light and very mild. I decided that if one wasn’t sure if one wanted some water or some beer, that Coors was a very nice compromise.

        2. rowlf

          I used to see a lot of Bud Light containers as roadside litter around my county. I never knew if they were empty or just missing one sip. This latest AB debacle does seem to have reduced the trash on the side of the roads.

    3. pjay

      Apparently the Anheuser-Busch executives haven’t yet read Michael Tomasky’s article in The New Republic that was posted in today’s Links. If they had, they would realize that they are panicking for no reason. The *real* America of today does *not* fear such changes. Donald Trump hates this real America. That’s why he’s going to suffer the fate of Walter Mondale – at least I *think* that’s what Tomasky was saying (Lambert’s Firesign Theater clip made more sense to me).

      Has that young woman who came up with the Bud Light campaign got a job with the DNC yet?

      1. griffen

        That article referenced was a long winding road to reach the conclusion. Donald Trump, bad very bad and nothing that actual living Americans can be supportive of. I’m going to wait patiently for the follow on article, all the performative good the Biden – Harris administration or Biden administration (either one, I suppose) is doing for the real Americans.

        Jobs are apparently still plentiful, that’s a bright spot I suppose. I am not so sure that Trump faces the same fateful outcome that Mondale faced. Trump is an impossible person to trust, I freely concede. Biden has a long term in the Senate and two terms as a VP. Trump seems to romanticize both war, and military conflict, a little less than your average neocon war hawks.
        Over the long run, which has damaged America the most. Psychotic reactions notwithstanding, I find Biden and his management style pretty tone deaf. Joe Biden still owes Americans $600 but instead we send what we can to Ukraine.

    4. Will

      I am genuinely shocked that beer cans in the US were not already available in camo or flag packaging.

      Perhaps it’s because I’m a baseball fan. Memorial Day Weekend is when MLB rolls out suitably patriotic hats and gear for players to wear and teams to sell. I’m in Toronto so it’s especially jarring.

    5. Mildred Montana

      As long as the camo-wearing “free” and “brave” drink it, preferably to the point of passing out, we are safe.

    6. Wukchumni

      When we’re on a backpack trip and run into somebody wearing camo in the backcountry, one of my standard lines is ‘Oh!, I almost didn’t see you’ as a hackbanded compliment of sorts. We then smirk a great deal, laughing at their clothing choice after parting ways.

      1. griffen

        My hiking brother always mentions his best laid plan for outer wear, hues of orange and usually practical. He wears such things so that, in his description, he simply does not look like a deer. If he does, then he’s a talking deer on 2 legs sans antler hat (\sarc).

        He also avoids local mountain ranges, such as the Uwharries east of Charlotte, during peak hunting season. Less of a problem in Pisgah National Forest though, to the good! I tend to follow his lead on such outdoor matters.

        1. Wukchumni

          Sometimes we are in hunting areas, but for the most part stick to the National Parks where if you were to shoot a hand cannon, you’d get arrested if a ranger was within earshot.

          It eliminates a lot of dread~

    7. chris

      Do we have any data on how the rest of the comparable beverage sales are doing? Are Miller, Coors, Yuengling, Corona, etc. also doing poorly? It would be good to understand how much if this really is attributable to AB’s recent decisions and how much is because of general industry trends.

      On the whole, I won’t cry if AB suffers more for this fiasco. Bud is only good for cleaning out the kegs we use to make real beer. What little taste it has is awful. They changed something in the recipe a few years back so now it doesn’t even make good beer can chicken. I have no reason to buy this product regardless of whatever the executives think about their customers.

      But I’d still like to know when the meeting occurred where all known major brands and executives got together and decided we needed to see “Dylan!” everywhere selling everything. They’re an awful spokesperson. The best news that could come from this brand disaster is that Dylan goes back to whatever swamp spawned them and we no longer have to hear about them.

    8. Gregorio

      Maybe they should stop screwing around and just change the name to “Bud Freedom Lite,” and put an AR-15 on the label.

    9. some guy

      Social satirists could bring out a Gay Camo bottle. The patterning would be camo blotches, but the colors would be rainbow colors. Hey, presto! Gay Camo!

  4. Henry Moon Pie

    Hold the presses! Tim Scott has a fresh new idea about how to save ‘Murca, and Elon Musk concurs!

    A substantial portion of our elites have discarded the whole concept of sociology. All the lights on the Durkheim panel are blinking red, and the next new thing is to double down on bootstrapping. We shouldn’t be surprised, I guess. These same elites have cast the germ theory of disease out the window. Maybe I should quality that. They’ve retained it for themselves (#DavosSafe) but denied its application to us deplorables.

    1. Glen

      Maybe everybody should incorporate so we can all be scofflaws because “individual responsibility” is only for suckers:

      U.S. companies are stealing pay from low-wage workers, report says

      The Shocking, Sickening Reality of Child Labor in America

      Tesla’s construction workers at Texas gigafactory allege labor violations

      30 Biggest Companies That Paid Zero Taxes

      JPMorgan Chase to pay $920 million to resolve illegal trading cases

      And CEOs never go to jail.

  5. bassmule

    Re: The Day It Came Apart: “It is entirely up to us, each of us, to look squarely at our circumstances or go numb.” Haven’t achieved total numbness yet, but I’m getting there. There are days now when I scan the links and don’t want to click on any of them. Maybe going numb is the result of looking squarely at our circumstances?

    1. Carolinian

      That’s an interesting essay. The day he’s talking about is the day the last helicopter departed from the roof of the Saigon embassy. The contention is that since then a certain portion of the US public suffered from a kind of Lost Cause mentality familiar to Southerners–where the losers see themselves as victims rather than the justly punished.

      And indeed many of the Rebs had no slaves and were even drafted into the “rich man’s war, poor man’s fight.” A few years after Vietnam The Deer Hunter tried to portray these later working class soldiers as victims of both their own patriotism and cartoon Vietnamese villains. Director Cimino was a protege of Clint Eastwood back in Clint’s even more rightwing phase.

      Which is to say Tim Scott is probably right about America’s giant victimhood cult but he likely fails to acknowledge that Republicans are just as prey to this as Democrats. Arguably the whole idea of a “national identity” is bogus anyway other than to say that we, as a country, are way too rich and spoiled. True that affluence doesn’t apply to everyone but the elites ignore them just as they do the third world and foreign victims of American self righteousness.

      1. pjay

        Very relevant observations. I think your Deer Hunter example nicely illustrates a key ideological principle. It is constantly reinforced in our ubiquitous “thank you for your service” rituals toward individual veterans (my local TV news has such a segment every day). Focus on the individual “sacrifice” of these brave men and women – ignore the big picture and those who call the shots behind the curtain.

        I know Vietnam vets. Some were definitely “victims” in an important sense. But when I hear clueless civilians mouth the “thank you for your service” line, I want to give them a copy of Nick Turse’s book Kill Anything That Moves and force them to read it. It also leads to a certain “numbness,” but not so much the comfortable type.

      2. Lexx

        When I was a crisis clinic volunteer many decades ago now, we were trained to see ‘the victim’ as the most powerful in the Drama Triangle. That training has stuck with me living n the country where increasingly everyone seems to be trying to play the victim for attention and sympathy, and no one wants to be caught looking like a villain when the music stops… and when I write ‘villain’, I mean holding the bag or ‘responsible’. That includes ‘The Rescuer’.

    2. Henry Moon Pie

      There are problems with that timeline. The Church Committee report, perhaps the last honest assessment the “intelligence committee” will ever receive, was issued in ’76. The House Select Subcommittee on Assassinations completed its report in 1978. This all followed Nixon’s resignation in ’74. That’s confronting a lot of demons. The American people’s sullen reaction was the “malaise” that got attached to Carter’s speech.

      But after listening to the American people I have been reminded again that all the legislation in the world can’t fix what’s wrong with America. So, I want to speak to you first tonight about a subject even more serious than energy or inflation. I want to talk to you right now about a fundamental threat to American democracy. . . .

      The threat is nearly invisible in ordinary ways. It is a crisis of confidence. It is a crisis that strikes at the very heart and soul and spirit of our national will. We can see this crisis in the growing doubt about the meaning of our own lives and in the loss of a unity of purpose for our nation.

      The erosion of our confidence in the future is threatening to destroy the social and the political fabric of America.. . .

      In a nation that was proud of hard work, strong families, close-knit communities, and our faith in God, too many of us now tend to worship self-indulgence and consumption. Human identity is no longer defined by what one does, but by what one owns. But we’ve discovered that owning things and consuming things does not satisfy our longing for meaning. We’ve learned that piling up material goods cannot fill the emptiness of lives which have no confidence or purpose.

      The symptoms of this crisis of the American spirit are all around us. For the first time in the history of our country a majority of our people believe that the next five years will be worse than the past five years. Two-thirds of our people do not even vote. The productivity of American workers is actually dropping, and the willingness of Americans to save for the future has fallen below that of all other people in the Western world.

      It was all just too much, so America went running to mother’s little helper and “Morning in America.”

      1. VietnamVet

        I go back to November 1963 when the plutocracy and deep state officially promulgated the Western Empire, but didn’t tell anyone. Jimmy Carter and Dick Nixon, didn’t get the message, and like Donald Trump, didn’t serve the full eight years as rotating Emperor.

        Those deep in debt to buy cheap imports to keep the American Dream going, also, haven’t gotten the message. But like all Empires, it rules by divide and conquer ethnic politics — not a constitutional democratic republic for many decades.

        On June 1st, a US dollar default, or an armistice and DMZ in Ukraine and associated revival of the multi-polar world of sovereign nations will finally communicate that the 21st century Western Empire (the hegemon) has collapsed. Not unlike the Ukrainian Vandals at the Gates of Rome signaled the end of the first Western Roman Empire.

  6. The Rev Kev

    “Get ready for RightWingGPT and LeftWingGPT’

    I got an idea. They should totally develop a DemocratGPT and a RepublicanGPT and have them debate each other in the media during next year’s Presidential elections. They could do away with all those talking heads on the telly as all those expensive hairdoes say is whatever their owner want them to say. Would anybody seriously miss them? It would save a bucket load of money. The RachelMaddowGPT would be easy to program as all it would say is ‘Russia, Russia, Putin, Moscow, Russia, Putin.’ I have no idea how the SeanHannityGPT would work except under the GIGO principal.

    1. Michaelmas

      It would save a bucket load of money.

      It would be a lot smarter, too. Especially as the US looks set for a showdown between two aged, cracked, befuddled narcissists — Biden and Trump — who make the gerontocrats of the late-era USSR of Breshnev, Andropov, of Chernenko seem sprightly, astute public servants by comparison.

      1. John

        RFK jr is younger, and neither cracked nor a befuddled narcissist. I find I am in substantial agreement with most of his ideas as expressed in his public utterances.

        1. Mark Gisleson

          Not cracked or befuddled and I’ve certainly never met him but I’ve spent time with his mother and some of his sisters and other family members. They do live in a bubble. Driving Kennedys around Iowa in 1980 it was pretty obvious they didn’t know much about farming (or, quite frankly, Jimmy Carter). They did great with social events but weren’t as obsessed with day to day news as everyone else around them.

          A very gracious family and incredibly polite and appreciative to support staff. I won’t say who, but one family member (now deceased) was clearly slightly crackers and treated their white factory worker driver to a nice speech about how terrible race relations are in the U.S.

          I like what RFK Jr says, would support him over anyone else now running but he does not meet my criteria for what this country needs. We need STRONG leadership right now and that requires someone who doesn’t have spasmodic dysphonia.

          No more time for clever ideas or killer slogans. We need someone who is known, trusted and absolutely locked into a circle of advisors from outside the intelligence community. We cannot afford any more divided administrations with warring factions. [No more reaching out to various factions, no picking a veep from the other camp. A change in D leadership must come with a thorough purge of the national party.]

          RFK Jr’s candidacy keeps the window open for what this country really needs. I just hope that the leader we need doesn’t turn out to be the leader we deserve.

          1. Mrs Doubtfire

            There is an excellent thread on RFK Jr in the 5/18 2PM Water Cooler. I highly recommend reading it in its entirety, including the link provided to Sabrina Salvati’s half-hour unpacking of what RFK Jr has said in various interviews – two in particular with Russell Brand and Breaking Points – where he makes statements that are directly at odds with each other.

            RFK Jr said that he knows that Joe Biden is going to be awarded the superdelegates by the DNC, but when asked by Krystal Ball if he would run third party* he went on to say point blank that he plans “on winning the Democratic primaries and getting the Democratic nomination.”

            *[He would have to run independent, it seems, as many states’ “sore loser” laws prohibit candidates running under another party]

            Will people donate time. money, and significant portions of their lives – again – on the mere possibility that RFK Jr is playing a “longer game” where he can in fact upend the Democratic nomination – assuming he’ll have that degree of support – if/when he gets there?

            The thread begins with flora linking to a Useful Idiots podcast about the Durham Report. Screwball responds and then mentions the fact that it’s been reported that RFK Jr named Dennis Kucinich his campaign manager. Then the RFK Jr stuff really gets going:


          2. herman_sampson

            This morning’s Face the Nation had Bob Gates: did not want Trump elected as he wants to “dismantle the institutions” that support democracy. Left unsaid was that the institutions he had in mind were probably the FBI, CIA, NSA. “Trump keeps asking for my vote.”

            1. Mildred Montana

              Really, the MSM is becoming unbearable. They might as well rename the program “In Your Face, Nation”. If you don’t like it, well, the government will always support us. How about you?

      2. Daniil Adamov

        Brezhnev was sprightly and astute until very late into his life. There are strong reasons to believe at least some of his notorious verbal fumbling was an act meant to disguise his (not very Communist) views and lull opponents in the Party into a sense of complacency. Sadly actual mental decline has caught up with him by the time the hawks decided to go into Afghanistan – otherwise they might not have pulled it off.

    2. Pat

      There was a long comment in the Justine Bateman AI strike Twitter thread that was linked a couple of days ago. They based their contract suggestion on experience with the music industry and Spotify. According to them, the time it took for an AI program learning an artist and their work had gone from months to minutes over the course of a year. Obviously adding video processing to the audio processing would increase both the learning process and the production process, but we could certainly have competing AI Biden/Trump debates before September of next year.

      Terrifying. And while I think it will take longer to replace entire news networks with AI, I admit I am not looking forward to what they come up with even part time.

      1. christofay

        So the Republicans and Democrats will race to narrow the AI gap. Once, I think it was 2004, a president was suspected to have an antenna latched to his back to connect to the ear plug where he received responses in a presidential debate. Biden 2024 can make a virtual appearance say via full-spectrum AI in a debate.

        1. Acacia

          Biden 2024 can make a virtual appearance say via full-spectrum AI in a debate.

          Yes. My dude, the Internet is on the case !

          Of the many “Joe Biden – Max Headroom” search results, this one looks especially promising:

          “Joe Biden, Max Headroom aesthetic, analog vaporwave glitch art centered portrait”

          Full video should be up in time for the 2024 “debates” (think ‘Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots’).

      2. britzklieg

        It is terrifying… but the Arnold Schwarzenegger as Bob Ross video in that thread was hilarious.

  7. Acacia

    Re: New data highlights the big gap between college grads and everyone else

    This article summarizes a report from “left-of-center think tank Third Way” concerning the different prospects of USians with four-year college degrees vs, those without. Executive summary: “Americans without college degrees are more likely to be denied credit than those who finished college”.

    Note that this article glosses over the big picture of job prospects for those with college degrees.

    From what I’ve read elsewhere for years now, the U.S. economy is no longer producing enough jobs for all of those college grads. E.g., various surveys, including a recent one from, indicate that over a third of college graduates are in employment that doesn’t require a college degree. And around 6% of grads found employment in jobs that don’t have any education requirements at all.

    In other words: that college degree — and any debt that was incurred to obtain it — didn’t help these grads to land employment any better than their peers from high school who didn’t go to college.

    So, returning to this article, for nearly a third of college grads, going to college helped them to… wait for it… have a better chance at being offered credit. Credit that they can pay off with the job they could have landed straight out of H.S. From the article:

    Why it matters: The report highlights the different economic worlds these two groups move in, and comes at a time when the White House and Democratic party are trying to regain a foothold among voters without college degrees — or, as the New York Times put it, “bridge the ‘diploma divide’.”

    Yeah, good luck with that, Dems.

    1. Mikel

      “So, returning to this article, for nearly a third of college grads, going to college helped them to… wait for it… have a better chance at being offered credit…”

      Did the phrase “debt slaves” cross the writer’s mind at all? It would’ve been hard for me to write an article without naming what I had defined.

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        A little debt provides such a nice incentive to make that hamster wheel spin faster.

    2. hk

      This reminds me of the approach people took vis a vis home ownership gap: make it easier for minorities to get mortgage, because, apparently, credit ratings are racist. But one consequence of this was that when the financial crisis hit, minority homeowners were hit harder. Was/Is there a racism problem behind home ownership gap? Almost certainly, but it is probably deeper and would take much more (and more serious) effort to tackle. Making it easier for people to take on more debt seemed like a dubious “solution” then and still does.

  8. SteveD

    The criticism of the La Sombrita lamp post effort is, for me, misplaced. The LADOT made very clear that they were trying to do something modest in a highly constrained setting. If you want to attack the root causes for the lack of better transit stops, fine – do that. But tearing down an effort to do something, even if it all it does is create some space for debate, is counter-productive.

    1. upstater

      The La Sombrita lamp post provides no shade or shelter, it is a cheap infrastructure for advertising, creating visual pollution. Who gets the ad revenues? Obviously some well connected bunch of cronies.

      Of couse this thing won’t provide any transit information such as schedules. Who is going to maintain the electrical system and periodically inspect thousands of these eyesores for safety? Some years ago an illuminated bus shelter shorted out and killed a transit passenger in Cleveland. It was a supposed “cheap” solution to provide shelter.

    2. semper loquitur

      Sometimes less is more. If Wu is correct, this was a poorly designed boondoggle. As for space for debate, well, they just handed the enemies of public spending a victory to wave around. “Hey, look, it’s the Woke-Post for One! Even it’s shadow doesn’t work right!”

      1. JBird4049

        Well, having had the fun of standing in the open air at a number of bus stops both at night in a rain storm and during the day during heatwaves, I would suggest a more… robust shelter? Truly freezing my rear off soaking in heaving rains and winds or baking in 90° heat in the sun are not happy memories.

        This looks like a prank as how much intelligence or competence does it take to do this? The twitter thread mentioned that they have catalogs with bus shelters for sale. But, two metal poles with an aluminum roof covering 12′ by 4′ more or less would do. Then a bench similarly built plus some plexiglass on sides and back for the occasional rain. A light source would be fantastic especially if one could read by it. Being really conservative, It would take 2-3 people two days to do the research and then writeup the proposal. Make it five days to be very thorough.

        Just by breezing through the catalogs, I would guess (and this is an ignoramus’ understanding, true) it would take absolutely no more than a hundred thousand dollars, a crew of four, and three days to set up a Taj Mahal bus stop for five or six riders.

        They really don’t care about the poor or even the working class, do they?

    3. some guy

      The ” la sombrita” was not an effort to do something. It was an effort to enrich some non profit grifters under cover of pretending to do something. The article noted that the whole thing costed about $200,000.
      The “sombrita” thingy itself costed $10,000. The Konkeue non-profiteers had a very nice junket to several world cities “looking at designs” ( yeah, I’ll bet). I wonder how much that junket to several world cities costed. Probably a lot more than the “sombrita” thingy itself.

      I wonder if $200,000 could have built a sort-of okay bus shelter, if it had all been spent on a bus shelter.

      So yes, this little project deserves to be condemned in the harshest possible terms. ” We paid $200,000 and all we got was this lousy ‘sombrita’ thingy”.

  9. Adam

    The article ‘Why flying sucks’ lost me immediately when the author said ‘And if they compete, they want to compete on price’. Another neoliberal stenographer looking for a gullible American. Are there any left?

    1. JBird4049

      Yes, let’s not compete on safety, comfort, and being on time. I use to like flying. Twenty-five, thirty years ago, but now I am in discomfort, even a bit of pain; then add the TSA’s Kabuki Security Theatre, which does almost nothing to keep us safety, but does greatly increase the time, humiliation, and discomfort of traveling.

  10. Acacia

    Re: AI just killed its first big stock

    This is one of those articles that celebrate generative AI as “move fast and break things” tech, by trumpeting that it’s going to “disrupt the entire education system from the ground up” as if somehow that’s a good thing. E.g.:

    Eighty percent of students who’ve tried [AI platform] Khanmigo say it’s helping them learn faster. It also helps teachers in a big way…

    Since when do students get to assess their own learning? And no, it doesn’t help teachers in a big way. Whoever wrote this obviously understands very little about what teachers do (his bio notes that he “also spearheads RiskHedge Venture, our premium crypto advisory”).

    Thanks in part to the hype generated by people like the author of this article, students are of course already using ChatGPT as a “learning tool” but in practice what they often end up doing is copying and pasting the output from generative AI, perhaps massaging the text a little, and then submitting that as their own work.

    Needless to say, this isn’t “learning” — it’s plagiarism.

    So now teachers have to spend more time dealing with plagiarism cases, using various services like Turnitin, Watson AI, Content at Scale, etc., to check student assignments for AI-generated content, a.k.a. plagiarism. Of course none of these AI-detection apps are foolproof, giving results like “11% probable human”, which leads to more wasted time as teachers must weigh various factors, query students as to whether they used AI apps, assess the honesty of their responses, etc. It just adds to the chaos, degrades actual learning into “writing good prompts”, and complicates/expands all the time teachers already spend on grading student work.

    1. malchats

      Seems to me that the answer to this problem is to make the students turn in handwritten assignments. Even if they use an AI to write the papers, they would have to actually read the thing to produce the handwritten paper, so the students would at least take in some of the concepts by osmosis. (I’m assuming, given the remark about copying and pasting that they are handing in printed papers.) Ultimately, though, the students have to want to learn—it’s nigh on impossible to force learning upon those who want to know nothing.

      Obvious disclaimer: I don’t really know what goes on in schools these days; I just encounter the downstream effects out in the wider world, and…yeesh! Seems like nothing is going on in those classrooms.

    2. Mildred Montana

      Thank you for the thoughtful comment. Just a question, not a criticism: Although its parameters were different, I always thought that the “Turing Test” was supposed to be a reliable way to distinguish computer- from human-generated content.

      Times have changed? AI has gotten smarter? Turing Test no longer relevant? Don’t know, just asking.

      1. Acacia

        In the field of computer science, this is an interesting problem. In the field of education, I’m afraid it’s more like a headache. As you say, Turing proposed the idea of a “test” to distinguish human from computer-generated text. (This was in 1950, five years before John McCarthy coined the phrase “artificial intelligence”, so Turing said “computer”.) For Turing, though, the idea was that a human evaluator would perform the test, and it was only a proposal. There was no “app for this”. The term “software” didn’t exist in 1950, and there wasn’t a software market until sometime in the 1960s.

        Fast forward to the present, and there are now apps which claim to identify machine-generated text. Again, though, they are attempting to perform what Turing proposed as the task of a human. How well they perform this task is an open question. Instead of giving a hard answer, they typically give a score. Has AI gotten “smarter”? I would be hesitant to use that word because it suggests intelligence, when in fact what we’re talking about with AI are just very sophisticated algorithms, not intelligence. Started differently, though, yes, computers have gotten better at mimicking human writing (largely thanks to engineering, not any great leaps towards AGI). That said, to this reader at least, the text from generative AI has a very dull, soporific quality, and exhibits a peculiar style.

        Generally, teachers read all student work submitted for a grade, and in my experience and based upon anecdata from others, plagiarism tends to jump off the page. Teachers have lots and lots of experience reading student work, and develop a good sense of what to expect in student writing. However, plagiarism is a serious charge, so very often teachers will search for supporting evidence. This takes time and is time lost from reading other students’ work, giving them useful feedback, preparing for teaching the next class, etc. (and this is where I disagree with the claims about teacher productivity by the author of “AI just killed its first big stock”).

        Before students started using generative AI, the usual plagiarism case would involve text copied and pasted from the Internet. In these cases, teachers could often verify that suspicious text was plagiarized by making a few web searches, though it’s a time-consuming and annoying exercise. This is where apps like Turnitin enter the picture, to automate this, try and help teachers save time locating the plagiarized source (even checking other students’ papers). With the sudden boom of generative AI, these apps have all been upgraded and now claim high accuracy in detecting AI-generated content. But they don’t really perform a Turing test, and so a human teacher needs to consider the case and make a judgement. Again, this is time away from other work. I’ve heard that at some private, elite colleges, there is a division of the administration that handles this, as the students’ families may lawyer up to fight the charge (“our little snowflake would never do that!!”). Generative AI just makes all of this more of a mess.

        1. lambert strether

          Returning to handwritten essays, in the classroom, with a proctor and a deadline, seems like the only way forward.

  11. Regis II

    “The day it came apart.”

    Patrick Lawrence seems to promote the imperial war familiar to him personally as the inflection point when the U.S. fell into “psychosis.”

    However, there are any number of past wars which qualify.

    In fact, the reason that today’s war-mongers are Johnny One-Notes when it comes to justifying their latest imperial adventure (i.e. citing the enemy du jour as the latest incarnation of the mustachioed Austrian corporal) is that, even though there are many past wars to choose from, there are none that can qualify as “good guys vs. bad guys.”

    Well, maybe the U.S. Civil War could, but then you would alienate possibly the most fertile source of cannon fodder – Southern white males.

    The Mexican American War? The Spanish American War? The guerrilla war in the Philipines that followed the Spanish American War? The Indian Wars? The First World War? Korea?

    So many other past wars to choose from to justify the current one. Yet, we always land on just the one.

    We cannot place any of these other wars in context precisely because the psychosis Lawrence speaks of has roots in America’s origin story, something Lawrence alludes to but does not seem to take into account in any serious way.

    1. Robert Hahl

      Maybe it started right after “…all men are created equal,” but I personally noticed this psychosis as a child, when I realized that the Korean war began only five years after WW 2, and nobody else seemed to think that was strange.

      1. JBird4049

        The United States has a history of justifying war with very little justification. However, I would personally put it after the Cold War as the justifications during it had some truth to them, even if they were small, but the current Perma-War is just an uber-grift for the Congressional-Military-Industrial Complex.

    2. Horne Fisher

      I looked up the Seton Hall study Lawrence referenced in the article regarding the drawings of one of the Guantanamo Bay prisoners and OMG. I thought my level of shame to be an American could not get any lower until I looked at those drawings. Absolutely unreal. We make the Romans look like amateurs.

      I would link to it but I wish I never saw it.

  12. tevhatch

    Observations on the twit with the title: The summit ended in Xi’an. It was decided to build a railway line to China, without Russia.
    1. To, seriously, To? Author must be American/EU proxy of the Atlantic Council/Bilderberg Group/ etc. Who’s paying and building the track?
    2. The Russian-China rail line has already existed for nearly a century. The real key is look at who is missing from the map. It’s really a issue of geography, but it does kind of look like all these nations are looking at what India did to the Himalayan nations, Pakistan, etc. and it’s willingness to proxy for Washington.
    3. Poor Ukraine, rump state once again.

    Arnade on La Sombrita Project

    Stealth Camping – Steve Wallis of Canada – his early videos are pretty informative

    1. The Rev Kev

      I notice on that tweet that the line ends in Italy but a coupla days ago Maroni decided that Italy was going to pull out of the belt and road initiative. I guess that she thinks that Italy does not need the money or investments but regardless, that map will require a new anchor point in Europe. That is, unless the EU decides to sanction China out of the whole region.

      1. tevhatch

        Italy has me wondering too, great passenger rail service, but their freight rail is a question. They only recently started looking a bi-modal transport, etc., and only because it was pushed by China. I’d have thought Austria would have been a better choice, closer to OEMs wanting China engineering goods, etc, but now their “neutrality” is a joke.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Maybe some of the countries in the Balkans would be a better choice – like Hungary and Serbia. It’s not like that region couldn’t do with some investments.

        2. digi_owl

          Supposedly the Italian fashion industry employ a fair number of Chinese. Something that came to light when trying to figure out how COVID reached Europe.

          1. tevhatch

            Not just fashion, but much of Northern Italy’s industrial output, anything requiring highly skilled manual labour and also semi-unskilled labour (say in agriculture). However, I can remember when there were claims Italy spread C=19 to China. I don’t have the link now, but the Italian Cancer Institute (INT) reported finding neutralizing antibodies to the disease in blood samples taken from healthy patients in Italy in October 2019. Italian economy is much like the USA agriculture economy, built on destroying the homes of people so that there is a large supply of legal and illegal immigrants forced to live in cramped conditions perfect for breeding better viruses arriving from all points of the compass.

    2. digi_owl

      And China also demonstrated the capacity of the Beijing-Moscow link by sending a fully laden train along it right before Xi visited Putin recently.

      It is sad when the people we are supposed to decry as despots behave more like adults and statesmen than our “elected” (pinch our noses and pick the one least bad) leaders.

  13. Lex

    The tweet about China cutting Russia out is misleading. The BRI is multifaceted and this only shows one portion for a reason: the hope of splitting China and Russia. That hope is pretty well gone given that our behavior has produced an “alliance” not of shoulder to shoulder but back to back. They both know our goal is to destroy them and that the only hope they have is to not let the other be destroyed.

    1. digi_owl

      In particular as standing back to back allows them at least something akin to Fortress America.

    1. Screwball

      Thanks for the link flora. Can’t find much to argue in that one. PCR nails it pretty good IMO.


      To Democrats what matters is not facts, but getting Trump. Truth is not permitted to prevent the destruction of Trump.

      This describes my PMC (ex)friends to a tee. They could care less about facts, the rule of law, ethics, anything – as long as they get Trump (or other people they hate). They have truly become a sadistic bunch.

      I have never in my life witnessed so much hate for one guy. Their hated is off the charts and not slowing down one little bit. I always thought the guy as a giant ass clown but really didn’t see him that much worse than any other slimeball who held office.

      He completely took over my X’s life to the point she went on anti-depression pills. Her day was consumed by the hatred of Donald Trump, and it was probably part of our breakup. What am I going to be outraged about today took over her life?

      Why? I really don’t get it.

      1. flora

        I have friends like this, too. It’s like they cannot imagine the shoe could ever be on the other foot; they cannot imagine the GOP would do the same to them, ever. What world do they live in? (The MSM world?)

        On the other hand, if the idea of the elites is to congeal everyone’s anger and fear and growing despair over their own financial or health or other situation in the good ol’ USA onto a bogey man target for their angst, (and keep the attention off of themselves for the current financial and economic state on Main Street they caused), then it makes sense…as a self-preservation of the elite effort.
        I’m surprised so many people I once thought smart are so gullible, so willing to join the mob mentality.

        1. flora

          The “cause” against T is America’s modern Dreyfus Affair.

          The Dreyfus affair (French: affaire Dreyfus, pronounced [afɛːʁ dʁɛfys]) was a political scandal that divided the Third French Republic from 1894 until its resolution in 1906. L’Affaire Dreyfus has come to symbolise modern injustice in the Francophone world,[1] and it remains one of the most notable examples of a complex miscarriage of justice…. The role played by the press and public opinion proved influential in the conflict.

        2. Henry Moon Pie

          Is it possible that the intense anxiety of the times is increasing everyone’s tendency toward mob mentality? It’s a rather zebra-like reaction. Add to that might be our societal tendency toward a reduction in face-to-face human reactions, it could be that the only way we can find our herd is the highly abstract identification of political alignment.

      2. Carolinian

        I don’t get it either but I think we do have to recognize the degree to which Trump’s scorched earth style helped to provoke Russiagate. After all he didn’t just say that Hillary should be condemned for her shady basement server but also “lock her up.” So the Russia hoax could be seen as Hillary’s riposte, “no, lock you up.” Our politics as a Joe Pesci dialog.

        Up page Mark Gisleson talks about how scrupulously polite the Kennedy family was and this social lubricant of “niceness” seems to be a class marker of your upper crust. See for example Downton Abbey where nice curdles into dull. So by this everyday standard Trump is clearly a villain whereas to the lowers, where nice is a distant aspiration, his crudity doesn’t even register.

        Bottom line: they hate him for being a short fingered vulgarian.

        1. Alex Cox

          One of his vulgarities was using YMCA as his theme song. In 2024 DT should cut to the chase and use Alice Cooper’s ‘Elected’:

          “I’m a top prime cut o’meat,
          I’m your choice.
          I wanna be elected!
          I’m Yankee Doodle Dandy
          In a gold Rolls Royce.
          I wanna be elected!”

        2. Mark Gisleson

          Someday when our hosts are on vacation, I’ll share some of the jokes told by ‘upper crust’ folks from that campaign when outsiders weren’t around (I would hear them second hand but a very fresh second hand).

      3. tegnost

        I appreciate the link and while I do like to read a pcr, he does get some hyperbole going…consider…
        Consequently, the US is moving toward a fatal split in the society from which recovery is impossible. Trump represents ordinary Americans who prefer peace to the neoconservatives’ wars, who want their jobs back that the greed-driven capitalist global corporations sent to China and Asia, who want their children properly educated instead of indoctrinated with sexual perversion, Satanism, and told that they are racists. In contrast, the Democrats are increasingly Woke–people who believe that truth is an oppressive tool of white supremacy, that Christian morality is tyrannical and discriminatory against pedophiles and other sexual perverts, and that, as “President” Biden himself has said, white people are the greatest threat to America.

        then there is also…
        The Biden regime is spending billions of dollars “to defend Ukraine’s borders,” but won’t spend one penny to defend America’s borders. The Democrats want the Hispanic and Black immigrants, who they will give the vote, because the immigrant-invaders water down the white majority population and destroy the ethnic basis of the US. Instead of a unified nation, there is a Tower of Babel.
        My sense is that immigrants who “make it” in the us are politically conservative, but that is just my own opinion…
        But then there’s
        The United States, despite my best efforts and the efforts of others for decades, has been destroyed by its ruling elites for the sake of short-term profits and short-term growth in power over the people. By offshoring its manufacturing jobs, the global corporations destroyed the American middle class and the ladders to upward mobility that had made America the “opportunity society.” Today many former American manufacturing and industrial cities look like the remains of bombed cities.

        and who can argue with that?
        Worth the read, thanks flora

      4. Eric F

        Of course truth doesn’t matter. Where does PCR think he lives?
        In the U.S. ( and most other places) truth is a not very popular luxury item that most of us can’t afford.
        It just cuts down the profitability of mass-market production.
        Twas ever thus.

        Why do they Hate T. so much?
        Maybe just because he was supposed to remain the Heel and lose, but jumped script and beat the Face once.

        1. ex-PFC Chuck

          “Why do they Hate T. so much?”

          Because he’s a serious threat to their front and center position at the self-licking ice cream trough.

    2. marym

      Thanks for the link. However, it should be possible to present this substantive and succinct critique of capitalists, Democrats, the woke, and “many establishment Republican[s]“ without valorizing Trump or his followers with the claim that:

      “Trump represents ordinary Americans who prefer peace to the neoconservatives’ wars, who want their jobs back that the greed-driven capitalist global corporations sent to China and Asia, who want their children properly educated…”

      To me this is just taking a side in the elite-mongered culture war.

      Where were they when Trump escalated drone bombing, withdrew from the Iran agreement, said the US should “take the oil” in Syria, and signed on to the same military budgets as any other president?

      Where were they when capitalists were sending jobs overseas? Where were consumer boycotts of foreign imports, or at least a substantial “buy US-made products” movement, or support for unions, benefits, or protections for labor?

      Where were they recently when Josh Hawley said: “Well, a nationalist foreign policy would put America’s interest first and deterring China from seizing Taiwan should be America’s top foreign policy priority. That means our defense spending should be concentrated on deterrence in the Pacific. We should stockpile weapons, disperse our forces in the Indo-Pacific and accelerate late stage development of space, cyber and other critical capabilities like the B21 bomber.” 02/2023

      They’re not building any alliances with Code Pink yet are they? 02/16/2023

      As far as proper education vs indoctrination:
      [Ohio State] Senate Bill 83] requires colleges and universities to affirm in writing that they will not “endorse, oppose, comment, or take action” on “public policy controversies of the day, or any other ideology,” unless it is to support U.S. military action against another country or otherwise support the nation and Ohio.” 03/2023

      “Texas Senate Republicans are pushing a bill that would require schools to prominently displayed the Ten Commandments in every single classroom starting next year. 05/04/2023

      “ The Biden regime is spending billions of dollars “to defend Ukraine’s borders,” but won’t spend one penny to defend America’s borders.”

      There are many issues with virtually every aspect of immigration and border control, under every administration, but “not one penny”? Really?

  14. Henry Moon Pie

    A few days ago, I left a comment exploring whether some of the seemingly irrational attitudes and behaviors around Covid and Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions like masks might be traceable to the growing influence of Gnostic influences in the United States.

    I’ve continued that exploration of different views about what constitutes reality and the related mind/body problem, and thought I’d leave a trail of bread crumbs in case anyone else was interested in this topic. Here are three YouTube videos in the order I watched them with some teaser quotes:

    Marianne Williamson: : (25 minutes)

    “Thought is cause. Form is effect.”

    “A lot of the world in which we live is an optical illusion. The spiritual journey is the journey from basing your primary and fundamental evidence for what’s real and true on what the physical senses perceive to what the heart knows to be true. This gives you the power of the miracle worker.”

    Daniel Dennett: (6 minutes)

    “We have scientists and engineers and artists and musicians and composers, all these wonderful designers of wonderful things, poems, bridges, airplanes, stories, and they are intelligent designers, but if you want to know how they manage to have that intelligence, you have to go back and look at their brains as ultimately like Turing machines.”

    Alan Watts: (55 minutes)

    The Ceramic Model: (explaining the monotheistic view of the world)

    “Clay is unintelligent. It’s just stuff, and the Potter imposes his will on it and makes it become whatever he wants. And so in the Book of Genesis, the LORD God creates Adam out of the dust of the Earth, in other words, he makes a clay figurine, and then he breathes into it, and it becomes alive because the clay becomes in Form. By itself, it is formless. It has no intelligence and therefore it requires an external intelligence, external energy, to bring it to life and put some sense into it.”

    “I find it odd in the United States that people who are citizens of a republic have a monarchial theory of the universe.”

    Modern Physics and Eastern Religion:

    “The idea of a difference between matter and spirit, this idea doesn’t work anymore.”

    “So the picture of the world in the most sophisticated physics of today is not formed stuff, potted clay, but pattern, a self-moving, self-designing pattern, a dance. And our common sense as individuals hasn’t caught up with this yet.”

    1. Diogenes

      Chomsky’s frequently repeated ideas of what is in principle knowable, encapsulated in terms of the ghost and the machine (i.e., that there is no machine, only a ghost) seems of a piece with this.

      All of which is interesting, but seems overintellectualized and overdetermined as an explanation of recent American experience with NPI and masks.

      A simpler explanation seems : at the outset, pre-vaccine, there were attempts to avoid social disorder (e.g., Fauci telling people not to go buy masks; a so-called “noble lie”); then the utility of masks were to cow people into getting the vaccine; finally, having served Pfizer and Moderna’s purpose, their PR agents (U.S. public health authorities) are back to not giving a {family blog}.

      There is the “non-gnostic” school of thought, which perhaps you share, and well-represented in this space, that since it is a basic, unassailable fact that because masks of a certain quality or better will effectively filter matter of a certain size or larger, that ipso facto masks “work”, and (at least by implication) public policy should if not mandate them, at least strenuously encourage their use. But what that leaves out is, however well they may “work” under controllable laboratory conidtions, the messiness of complex systems that comprise human reality is quite something else. People will not wear get masks which fit them well. They will not wear them properly. They will not wear them consistently. And that, in the end, given the ubiquity of the virus, the odds of avoiding infection are not great enough to validly justify any meaningful level of compulsion.

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        Thanks for the Chomsky link. I’ll check it out.

        It’s not policy like mask mandates that I’m focused on. You’re right. That’s easy. Covid policies, with a few brief exceptions, have been what’s good for the stock market is good for your health. Let ‘er rip is yet another policy that benefits the billionaires at a high cost to the society at large.

        What puzzles me and led me to consider Gnostic influences is the individual and group behaviors, especially those exhibited by epidemiologists or infectious disease specialists along with politicians and media who gather in large indoor settings to share air and Covid. These people surely understand spread by aerosol and that the vaccines are non-sterilizing. They may have some inkling of the long term damage Covid can do. Yet they go out of their way to act as if they are invulnerable to the virus. This is not the behavior of the Davos elites, so what is going on with these PMCs? That is not such a simple question.

    2. digi_owl

      Gets me thinking about the rise of new age wicca somewhere around 2000.

      Where the central idea seemed to be something like if you believed hard enough it would happen.

    3. Jessica

      I suspect that part of the opposition to masks came from the refusal to acknowledge that masking has costs. All things being equal (though of course they are not), a society with everyone masked is a diminished society. Human contact is lost. I was in a Canadian city when the mask requirement for cafes and restaurants was removed. The happiness people felt seeing each other’s faces (sometimes for the first time) was palpable. Whether this move was medically wise or not is a trade-off.
      Sometimes the trade-off is worth it. Sometimes, it is not. Also, different people would evaluate the trade-off different. But there is a trade-off.
      By presenting masking as though it was free of trade-offs, I suspect that for many people, this put masking into the category of “aspects of normal human life not accounted for in the spreadsheets of our PMC overlords”.
      Treating the matter of masking as a not-discussable moral issue requiring no democratic input from ordinary mortals helped reinforce that connection.
      I am not saying that this is correct or rational, but it is understandable if one wanted to understand. Understanding the “other side” is not something either side is particularly good at or concerned about these days, unfortunately.

      1. Yves Smith

        How dare you insult and attack Lambert by positioning him as an ally of “PMC overlords” when said overlords have NEVER NEVER NEVER advocated effective masking strategies (the necessity of N95s with highly contagious Omicron) and in fact urged people to stop masking (the Biden May 2021 “Mission Accomplished” and shortly thereafter, Rochelle Wallensky depicting masking as wearing a scarlet letter).

        It is the PMC, specifically business interests, who have been the advocates of the unmasking project, seeing the wearing of masks as a reminder of the political/public health failure of not containing the virus and of the ongoing risks of unprotected socializing…like going to weddings, going to conferences, going to bars and restaurants, traveling….all of them big industries. Can’t have concern with public welfare interfere with lucre?

        And frankly you have NO right to pressure others to unmask for you, putting themselves and people around them at risk to do emotional labor for you, which is what your insistence that others smile amounts to. Not masking also puts the immunocompromised at risk, so your pleasure is coming at the expense of other’s health and potentially lives. And that’s before we get to Long Covid, which occurs in 15-20% of cases, including asymptomatic cases. Are you about to pay for their lost wages or medical bills so you can get your jollies?

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > a society with everyone masked is a diminished society

        Yeah, like Japan. Do all anti-maskers make such extraordinarily stupid comments? It does make one think that there’s something to the idea that Covid causes cumulative brain damage….

        1. Henry Moon Pie

          Jessica’s comment is an example of “reverse conspiracy” where the actual conspirators (e.g. Paul Tudor Jone, et al are replaced by their opponents and then, of course, attached somehow to the WEF. The same takes place over and over again where the conspiracy headed by Big Oil is displaced onto those trying to address the problem.

          And this “happiness at seeing each other’s faces” is more likely the false relief engendered by not seeing masks with the implication that the crisis is over.

  15. Alice X

    Apologies if this has been up before. Alexander Mercouris takes apart the Durham report, if that isn’t overly stale news.

    WATCH: Durham Report a ‘Whitewash’

    May 19, 2023

    The final report by Special Counsel John Durham into Russiagate’s origins is full of details but is ultimately a whitewash, says Alexander Mercouris on The Duran channel. 

    1. lyman alpha blob

      I thought his take was the best I’d seen. People need to remember that Bob Barr, who appointed Durham, was not Trump’s guy – he’s a long time Republican establishment fixer who was foisted on Trump, as most of his appointees were. Barr’s job is to make Republicans look good while making sure nobody is actually held responsible for any malfeasance, even the opposition party, lest the tables be turned some day. They all do go to the same cocktails parties after all at the end of the day. So we get a report that details the widespread conspiracy using reports that have been publicly available but ignored for years (Nunes memo), and since so many people were responsible, it was nobody’s fault at all. Mission accomplished.

      1. Mark Gisleson

        I can’t link to my comment at Consortium News so I’ll reprint it here:

        I believe Mercouris is misreading the situation. The release of the report is consistent with Durham’s past history which is excellent. The report has a classified section we haven’t seen, so it is premature to say what Durham did not do.

        What this report does is to set up multiple softballs for House Republicans investigating the weaponization of government. That’s who can take meaningful action. Durham simply cannot tell his boss to indict FBI personnel when his boss is part of the plot. So instead Durham used his “failed” trials to get evidence introduced into court helping make his final report bulletproof, facts wise.

        The wheels of justice are grinding exceedingly slowly, but you have to remember how much sand has been poured into the gearbox. This is progress and the timing is devastating for Democrats and 2024. Watch how this unfolds. Everything did just change : )

        1. Henry Moon Pie

          “What this report does is to set up multiple softballs for House Republicans investigating the weaponization of government.”

          And the press. Aaron Mate is working on a book about Russiagate, and I’m expecting him to tie up some of these loose ends.

        2. lyman alpha blob

          Thanks – didn’t realize there was also a classified part. Maybe there will be a frog march or two after all, however after seeing so many other exposed conspiracies (Iran/Contra, BCCI scandal, WMD in Irag, to name just a few) swept under the rug, I’ll be sure to respirate normally while waiting for my buddy Godot to show up with the indictments.

          1. pjay

            Yes. And as you point out, Bob Barr was involved in many of these sweepings; Mueller with others. Durham made some important points clearly – though nothing that was not already known to those paying attention. But there were many unanswered questions. Mercouris mentions several: Misfud? Harper? CIA? (the idea that Brennan was just trying to warn the Obama administration of Hillary’s plot, like a good “intelligence” officer just doing his job, is ludicrous). To me the report is a lot like Jeff Gerth’s Russiagate series in Columbia Journalism Reivew; a lot of good information and criticism of deserving villans – but some crucial elements seem to be missing from the story.

            I read the reaction from Sundance at Conservative Tree House the other day (CTH is not usually a go-to source for me, but they have been very good on Russiagate). He (?) basically interpreted the Mueller and Durham reports as part of a “good cop/bad cop” limited hang-out/cover-up routine. Barring a Godot appearance, that’s how I see it as well. Whatever Durham’s motivations, that seems to be the result so far.

            1. Mark Gisleson

              Gerth and Durham are just two fronts of a multi-pronged pushback currently in progress.

              Have you watched the videos of the FBI agent depositions? Or the video of the savagely HUACian D Congressional response? The “1/6 Insurrection” may be about to unravel super big time. If there were significant numbers of FBI embeds and informants in the crowd, another bluster-driven scandal evaporates into thin air leaving just civil lawsuits in its wake.

              Ukraine is about to end (literally).

              The DJIA is irrationally exuberant.

              COVID has not gone away.

              Long COVID is still around like a creeping brain fog in a John Carpenter movie.

              None of this will ever go away despite being ignored by our facile media. It all adds up. To what I don’t know but eventually a line will be drawn and we’ll get the result.

              1. pjay

                I agree with everything you say here, yet I have to go with past experience – *long* experience (I’m pretty old). I’ve allowed such hopes to creep into my cynicism many times over the decades, only to have them dashed by reality as always. To me, the Durham report too closely resembles many other such “investigations.” Yes, “mistakes were made,” perhaps even “incompetence” admitted to, and some lesser “names were named.” But gosh, no real *criminal* intent here; no need to indict anyone, etc., etc. And all those questions about actors and actions that were *not* addressed? Memory-holed; they’re gone.

                Will the Republicans turn this, the 1/6 revelations, or other malfeasance into a real inquiry? No. It will be another Benghazi: partisan theater, the “Democrats” and their “liberal” friends in the media against Trump and patriotic Americans – framed to benefit Congressional Republicans in the eyes of their base. The deeper implications of Russiagate, 1/6, the Twitter Files, Ukraine, and other crucial issues will be scrupulously avoided in favor of partisan kayfabe. As always, let me state that I hope I’m wrong this time. But I bet I’m not.

                1. Mark Gisleson

                  I hear ya but one of the joys of psoriasis is that it’s erased a lot of those old scars.

                  It’s also the nature of my involvement in politics. If you’re trying to win — and nothing will ever convince me that the DNC is making a sincere effort — you have to always be seeking out paths to victory. Winning is opportunistic, every shift in the zeitgeist is “interesting.”

                  And I don’t bet on this stuff. I’d much rather do you a favor if I can be helpful in any way : )

              2. Lambert Strether Post author

                > If there were significant numbers of FBI embeds and informants in the crowd

                Something I’ve assumed from the very beginning. The FBI, after all, has form.

                1. Mark Gisleson

                  The question is how much form?

                  Dozens of embeds and CIs might pass but how would people react if they discovered there were 100 embeds? 200? [I would never stop laughing if it proved to be 90% of the crowd]

                  The right number is probably just about exactly the number of trained good sized people you’d need to steer a crowd that size and keep the energy levels up. There are lots of standup folks in law enforcement and I’m sure that if this was that hinky, even a Republican House investigation will be able to uncover it no matter how Clouseau-like the journey.

    2. rowlf is also trying to take apart the Durham report, but that may just be a belief system lashing out.

        1. rowlf

          TDS blue balls? We keep hearing that on the horizon the walls are closing in. Sounds like the old Soviet Union Armenian Radio joke:

          Radio Yerevan was asked: We are told that the communism is already seen at the horizon. What then is a horizon?

          Radio Yerevan answers: Horizon is an imaginary line which moves away each time you approach it.

      1. Michael Fiorillo

        It’s far beyond any belief system: Marcy Wheeler was among the most deranged of Russiagate proponents, and gave up one of her sources to the Feds. That Amy Goodman and Democracy Now featured her so prominently for so long, and has never owned up to it, is depressing, and made their current coverage on Ukraine predictable

        1. rowlf

          Too bad media people do not have Sports Cards like baseball players have. The backside of the cards could show career performance figures for perpetuity.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > the Durham report

      I’m meditating a post on the Durham Report tomorrow. Thoughts from readers welcome!

      P.S. I think what the Durham Report shows is the emergence of a new Constitutional order that was nothing to do with democracy, or even republics, as we understand them.

      1. The Rev Kev

        I wanna know who the hell was the second Aussie diplomat that was with Alexander Downer – that I only for the first time heard in the Mercouris video. Downer himself is from a political family here so is pure establishment but who was the second one? His minder?

      2. Mark Gisleson

        [mercifully deleted long wandering comment]

        I think when this all collapses, we’ll be astonished by how utterly second rate and banal it all was, just like the people running it. #griftlibz

        [The Peter Principle x The Nepo Factor + a posse of cronies = Russiagate]

        1. tegnost

          yes, my own meandering thoughts can be boiled down to considering the awful things acknowledged by the report, it comes off as bland, which is weird.

      3. Brunches with Cats

        > I think what the Durham Report shows is the emergence of a new Constitutional order . . .
        Off the top of my head, it strikes me more as “unconstitutional disorder.” Also, maybe replace “emergence” with “existence?” Thinking of the Alien popping out of the host’s stomach: By the time it’s off and running in search of a human meal, it’s too late to call it “emerging.”

        Anyway, thanks in advance for putting on the yellow waders. Please consider protecting your sanity with a fully insulated hazmat suit, in a color of your choice.

          1. Brunches with Cats

            Assuming your comment is tongue-in-cheek. But in any case, RBO applies to international relations, whereas I interpret Lambert’s focus (note caveat) as US constitutional law — separation of powers, integrity of presidential elections, that sort of thing.The foreign element (alleged Russian interference in elections) isn’t about international relations per se, but about federal agencies in the Executive Branch making $h!t up about foreign interference and, among other activities that in past decades would have been criminal, using said $h!t to justify illegal spying on US citizens — all as part of scheme to interfere with a presidential election, while making it look like it was foreign interference. Clear as mud. Very deep mud, requiring yellow waders of exceptional height.

      4. griffen

        Calvinball on DC political grounds. It’s a narrative that never ends, it just continues to get a rewrite until the facts align how the authors actually want it to be. The dossier was proven to be shite, but that apparently matters very little, as does the matter of how the FBI was alerted.

        The walls are still closing in on Trump and MAGA-land. Our elites are really deranged.

  16. KLG

    Once again, Mike the Mad Biologist is on to something. This link will probably reappear in a future post, but it illustrates his point. My career crashed but did not burn (the result was in some ways better for me if definitely not for my much better half) during the dip from 2001 to 2006. Turns out that dip was permanent right up until yesterday. The opportunity costs of having nearly 80% of NIH grant applications fail are incalculable. But, hey, Raytheon and Pfizer must be taken care of! The numbers are more difficult to dig out of NSF, but the results are the same, except that Program Directors at NSF tend to pick the winners in advance for reasons that are not inscrutable (covered from one perspective here). In any case, scientists tend to revel in their antipathy to what they say is “just politics.” Those unimaginative dolts who are successful in the grant lottery think it’s because they are special. Having served on and chaired national review panels for 10 out of the previous 15 years, it is clear they are just lucky at musical chairs. So far. When the current music ends, things will get much uglier.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      I believe Mad Mike has it wrong. After looking at the NIH figures for the success rates for research applications that you linked to, I think several cohorts of scientists have already been crushed. Now, the political budget kabuki promises the wholesale sacrifice of Science and countless scientists to profit military procurements.

      I believe Veblen pointed out that neither invention, innovation, nor discovery were welcome to Corporations already invested in prior art. The amply demonstrated ability of Big Pharma and the Medical Industrial Complex to control and exploit the u.s. market for drugs and treatment leads me to wonder how much value they would attach to basic research whose discoveries might threaten their already established and substantial sources of profit.

      The waste and lost opportunity the u.s. suffers to greatly benefit a very few is beyond horrifying.

      1. KLG

        Thank you for your comment, Jeremy. I will not argue with you on the several cohorts. I have many friends in them.

        Success was never easy, but unless and until we return to time when one-third of applications are funded and one-third will be funded after revision while the other third remain hopeless for the duration, American biomedical science will finally expire. Ditto for ecology, chemistry and physics. The Old Guard from before and during my apprenticeship years, when Review Panels met to decide which grants not to fund, has left the building, and the new Old Guard is holding on tenaciously but their grip is weakening.

        The institutions that depend on 45-65% “overhead” are cracking down on their faculty with no understanding of the situation that when Johns Hopkins, Berkeley, and Stanford catch a cold the rest of the world has double pneumonia. And there is very little mentorship these days. It was clear that the senior faculty in my former department were uninterested in helping an erstwhile competitor in a zero-sum game. I was older and didn’t really care about that very much. But it was a game. I am not doing what I imagined, but my current life is much more useful than grubbing for grants. I do not miss my former life. I can only laugh when I remember that a former colleague called me “complacent” because I didn’t freak out when a reviewer willfully misunderstood what I proposed. That was something I could not control.

        Anyway, when I listen to people talk about scientists getting rich from grants, from climate change to biochemistry, I don’t know whether to laugh or scream…That is not how it works. And my colleagues still in the game? Politics remains beneath them.

  17. MaryLand

    Appreciate the link to the January post about nasal sprays. Thanks, Lambert! Some commenters there were using Claritin as a prophylactic. Can anyone explain how that could help? I am going for some oral surgery soon and was planning on using Xlitol nasal spray just before the appointment. Just wondering how Claritin or similar could help as well. I have read that it helps after infection; just not sure how it could help prevent infection.

      1. MaryLand

        IIRC taking antihistamines on a regular basis carries an increased risk of dementia for older people. I saw it in my mom who was advised to take an antihistamine before bedtime to help her get sleepy. I won’t take it every day, but will just before unavoidable risky situations like oral surgery.

        1. Mark Gisleson

          Tree allergies driving me nuts so I took a generic antihistamine, something I haven’t done in years. Then I had an anxiety attack. It was so upsetting I actually read the label on the box (I usually prefer not to know).

          It had a caution for people over 65 not to use without consulting with a doctor!

          Apparently now that I’m old there are new rules I have to learn. On a hunch I took an aspirin. My knee inflammation went away like magic.

          So now I’m thinking about adding more fiber to my diet (some of the things IM Doc said a while back hit home and in truth mine are not all floaters : (

          Anyhow, just following up on Maryland’s comment about dementia in older people which reminded me about my tree allergies which were driving me nuts so . . .

          1. LifelongLib

            My “fexofenadine hydrochloride” tablets (generic Allegra) also have a warning about asking a doctor if age 65 or older. It was actually my doctor who switched me to that after trying Zirtec, which made me sleepy. Just turned 67 so maybe I should double-check.

        2. marku52

          IIRC correctly, that is for diphenhydramine, AKA benedril. I don’t that the dementia warning is true for the newer antihistamines, like Claritin.

  18. John

    Seems to me that the “frozen conflict” wishful thinking is the latest iteration of the neo-cons history of over blown prediction of cosmically significant victory gradually shifting to the next cosmically significant ‘battlefront’ while turning their backs on their latest abject failure.

    1. The Rev Kev

      The wheels are really falling off Project Ukraine now. An official from the Polish Foreign Ministry said that ‘Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky should assume more responsibility for his nation when it comes to the Volyn massacre, a mass murder committed by Ukrainian nationalists against ethnic Poles during WWII.’ Seems that some Poles have not forgotten their past after all and I wonder if this is the beginning of a break between Poland and the Ukraine-

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        The obvious solution, as I keep saying, is to give Poland Carpathia. Then the Poles can solve Ukraine’s Nazi problem! (I mean, if there is a Ukraine, as opposed to, say, “The Free City of Kiev.”)

        1. The Rev Kev

          Carpathia is where the Hungarian-Ukrainians live, a region which Hungary wants. You must be thinking of Galicia which was formally Polish territory. I say let them have it. Trouble is that if this happened, all those ultra-nationalists would get free EU passports which would let them spread through the EU to spread their faith.

          1. Jessica

            The other problem with letting Poland take the western part of Ukraine that was Galicia and was part of Poland between the two world wars (and part of Austria for over a century before that) is that after WW2, when Stalin gave that area to the Ukraine SSR, all the ethnic Poles that the Ukrainian Nazis had not killed were transferred to Poland (places that were still Poland after WW2, some of them newly taken from Germany).
            It will be sad in 5-10 years when disgruntled last stand “stabbed in the back” Ukrainian neo-Nazis have made the name Ukrainian synonymous with terrorist. Fanatics used and discarded by the US-centered empire have this way of staying fanatics.
            (BTW, letting Poland have Galicia/westernmost Ukraine/Lvov/Lviv would have to be cleared with Putin.)

        2. Daniil Adamov

          I really doubt that they would want it, especially at this stage. Trying to reverse the resettlement would be messy. More to the point, I suspect the current Polish government would prefer Ukraine to be as geographically intact as possible. They want it focused squarely on fighting Russia, so they can oppose it without the fuss of actually fighting it themselves. Of course if it does completely fall apart, all bets would be off. But I would not hold my breath. There is a lot of ruin in a nation – if it hasn’t fallen apart yet, chances are it can linger for quite a while, albeit substantially hollowed out regardless of military outcomes.

    2. Henry Moon Pie

      From the Sunday morning talk shows, the impression I get is that the response to a very bad week with the loss of Bakhmut and the Patriot fiasco will again be double-down. Fareed Zakharia had on a woman from the AEI and a guy who was fomer editor of Foreign Affairs. They were just back from KyEEEEv, The Ukranians, according to these two happy warriors, were gung ho for more war and determined to get Crimea. And the Patriots were nothing but an advertisement for fabulous American ingenuity and, get this, efficient use of resources for the military. They estimated that the war might be at the halfway point.

      The sales pitch has definitely been intensified while the F-16 escalation brings us closer to doomsday. Neocons still in charge across the board apparently, and they’re doing what Neocons always do.

      1. some guy

        I try to be even handed about this partisan pronunciation of contested place names.



        and so forth.

  19. Bosko

    Not in today’s links, but the Harpers story “Why Are We in Ukraine?” is definitely a cut above the usual, and well worth reading.

    1. Ghost in the Machine

      I sent it around to family. It gives the standard propaganda at the beginning as an example it will argue against. I think as a tactic to lure in the type of people who most need to read it. Be sure to read past the intro.

      1. Rolf

        My thanks to Bosko, Ghost, Michael, and Brunches, for the hint to read past the intro — I had initially stopped there and dismissed the article prematurely.

    2. michael99

      Yes. A lot of truth-telling in this article. An excerpt:

      This conventional story is, in our view, both simplistic and self-serving. It fails to account for the well-documented—and perfectly comprehensible—objections that Russians have expressed toward NATO expansion over the past three decades, and obscures the central responsibility that the architects of U.S. foreign policy bear for the impasse. Both the global role that Washington has assigned itself generally, and America’s specific policies toward NATO and Russia, have led inexorably to war—as many foreign policy critics, ourselves among them, have long warned that they would.

      I found the discussion of how US nuclear strategy has evolved in recent decades chilling. A counterforce nuclear attack is a first-strike that aims to destroy all of the enemy’s nuclear weapons before they can be launched. Apparently this is a capability the US has been interested in developing, despite how it undermines the stability that has existed with mutually assured destruction.

    3. Brunches with Cats

      As Ghost suggests above, it could be persuasive for a certain demographic, but it may be asking too much for them to read such a long article, with historical details that will make many eyes glaze over. Anyone who’s swallowed the current narrative hook, line and sinker isn’t likely to stick with it, IMO. Nor is there much, if any, new insight for those of us who’ve been following NC and links to experts such as Berletic, Ritter, MacGregor, Mearsheimer et al.

      It gets somewhat more interesting about 3/4 of the way down, starting at, “Neither Moscow nor Kyiv appears capable of attaining its stated war aims in full,” followed by the authors’ proposed remedy — also nothing we haven’t already heard, but it’s interesting to see it all laid out in a magazine that claims its target audience is those who question “conventional wisdom” and seek information outside the mainstream. In short, the “remedy” is a compromise in which Russia keeps Crimea but has to give back some or all of the territories gained by referendum; Ukraine must “forswear” NATO membership and accept permanent neutrality; and the USA renounces its “pursuit of hegemony.” While not yet mainstream, we’re seeing more of that sort of compromise being floated in opinion pieces, a likely indicator of what’s being discussed privately among the “deciders.”

      The authors, to their credit, express doubts that any of the parties will find such a compromise acceptable, although not for what many here would consider the right reasons. Also note that, despite the length and detailed history, the authors fail to mention the multinationals (US, European, Chinese, Saudi, and more), many of which have been in Ukraine since the early 1990s. One can’t discuss a negotiated settlement without acknowledging their money and influence, or the fierce competition for who gets the biggest piece of the Ukrainian pie.

  20. Mikel

    “AI just killed its first big stock” Risk Hedge

    “But then ChatGPT, the popular AI chatbot, burst onto the scene…

    Suddenly, everyone had access to their own private tutor… for free…”

    I’ll bet that the children of the AI hype leaders keep their human tutors and teachers.
    ChatGPT is spitting out BS for the poors.

    Remember this:

    “The Digital Gap Between Rich and Poor Kids Is Not What We Expected, Nellie Bowles of the New York Times covers the digital gap from an angle most don’t expect: instead of the rich having access to technology and the poor lagging behind, the rich have the luxury to be removed from screens while the poor are increasingly reliant on them.

    In the past, the concern around technology was that “rich students would have access to the internet earlier, gaining tech skills and creating a digital divide.” Now, the concern has flipped, as “it could happen that the children of poorer and middle-class parents will be raised by screens, while the children of Silicon Valley’s elite will be going back to wooden toys and the luxury of human interaction…”

  21. John

    Can someone please explain why it is impossible to cut military spending or why the US needs 800 overseas bases or why the republicans extortion for a debt ceiling increase demands 22% cuts in everything but Social Security and “Defense” spending – “Defense” is in quotes because it is a euphemism for pork-barrel or corporate welfare, take your pick – or am I missing the vast number of hands holding rice bowls that would remain empty if the US actually paid attention to defense or, heaven forbid, the interests of the people at large? [I guess sarc is called for.]

    1. jrkrideau

      As an outsider, my bet would be that Defence contractors–write large–are the biggest or close to the biggest donors to US federal politicians.

      1. digi_owl

        Not just donors. Most likely said politicians, and their close relations, are “investors” in those companies. Thus any kind of military spending turned right round into dividends and buybacks.

  22. Amfortas the hippie

    adjacent to the link about sleeping rough as a “lifestyle*”, i found this…which is like a poor man’s version of the old “Free State Project”, wherein a bunch of libertarians would move en mass into a rural county in new hampshire somewhere and get elected/otherwise insert themselves into positions of relative power.
    turns out, this has been ongoing in my little far place…first, the 2 different groups of Steeplejackers moved in (circa 2002, on) and disrupted the local church scene…second, with the Wine People moving in with $ and displacing the Ancien Regime, who is reeling from the incursion.

    (* i knew lots of Homeless By Choice folks in my time on the road, and when i lived in Austin(homeless for a year, there)…from the Dragworms/Crusties(paleoanarchy from way down below) to the numerous Vets(mostly from Viet Nam, at that time))

    1. lyman alpha blob

      About that Free State Project – turns out the bears won. Who knew that drowning government and deregulating everything would lead to more bears wanting to rip your face off?

      This is a really hilarious and often poignant book on the subject – A Libertarian Walks Into a Bear: The Utopian Plot to Liberate and American Town (and Some Bears). The author is a reporter for the daily newspaper covering the NH/VT Upper Valley area that I used to read daily while growing up there.

      1. Jen

        Less amusingly, they colonized another town and took advantage of low voter turnout to cut the town’s education by half. The town rallied, got the required votes to hold a special town meeting, and more than enough turnout to restore the cuts.

  23. tevhatch

    Book review/suggested reading: We the Elites, Why the US Constitution Serves the Few; by Robert Ovetz

    The synopsis on Kobo platform is better than anything I could have written, but I’ll only add that his observations could be extended to the EU constitution, just the numbers and dates need changing.

    Written by 55 of the richest white men of early America, and signed by only 39 of them, the constitution is the sacred text of American nationalism. Popular perceptions of it are mired in idolatry, myth and misinformation – many Americans have opinions on the constitution but have no idea what’s in it.

    This book exposes the constitution for what it is – a rulebook to protect capitalism for the elites. The misplaced faith of social movements in the constitution as a framework for achieving justice actually obstructs social change – incessant lengthy election cycles, staggered terms and legislative sessions have kept those movements trapped in a redundant loop. This stymies progress on issues like labour rights, public health and climate change, projecting the American people and rest of the world towards destruction.

    Robert Ovetz’s reading of the constitution shows that the system isn’t broken. Far from it. It works as it was designed to do.

    1. Mikel

      “This book exposes the constitution for what it is – a rulebook to protect capitalism for the elites…”

      Obvious because anything that has to do with making life bearable for people is an amendment than can be repealed.

    2. Henry Moon Pie

      Beard: An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States (1913)

      An oldie, but a goodie.

      I had an AP American History who had to teach Beard because it was in the AP curriculum but he preferred to rail against “mobocracy.”

      1. tevhatch

        Thank you. Beard is on my list. Aaron Good kept referring to it in his book and podcast “American Exception”.

  24. The Rev Kev

    ‘For about 7 years, I lived with no fixed address. For 5 of those years, I was constantly traveling. Where the hell did I sleep? About 7 nights in 10, I ‘stealth camped’ anywhere I could sleep without detection.’

    Done a lot of that myself while traveling around Europe because of the sky high costs of accommodation – and this was in the 80s. It keeps you away from the tourist traps at least. One of the best places was along the German autobahns. They have these service stations/restaurants there for the truckers and you can grab a meal and an actual shower before heading off to the woods in the back for some free camping. At least Europe has no bears or the like to think about. :)

    1. tevhatch

      You must have skipped Finland. We started to sleep on-board our dingy mid lake when on the lake shores we found claw marks 2+ meters up the trees. I keep a large lump of pine rosin collected from one of them on my Canadian home desk. On the other hand I hear the Tom of Finland sub-species of bears are actually pretty kind outside their natural haunts.

    2. Wukchumni

      I’ve been a member of the Great Hammockracy since xmas of 1999 when my longtime backpacking partner gave me and he one, and off we went in early January to the San Gabriel mountains to try them out and got snowed on, but no biggie as the tarp you hang above you and guy-line out kept us dry.

      Guess i’ve slept about 500 nights in it, and a hammock sets you free compared to a tent, many times i’ve slumbered on fairly steep hills as it doesn’t matter if the ground is flat or not, all trees are pretty much straight up affairs no matter the pitch. All I need is a couple trees about 10 to 14 feet apart and i’m aces.

      There’s a bit of a learning curve to sleeping in a hammock, at first you feel so constricted but after 4 or 5 nights aloft you’re now an expert and what a great slumber compared to having the cold hard ground, and typically my rear echelon is only a foot or so above the ground, so the slim chance of falling out (it has happened to me just once) ain’t no big thang.

      When we first started using a hammock backpacking in the Sierra, other backpackers would look at us as if we were the strangest ducks, but now I see lots of hammock users and there is about a gajillion trees to choose from.

      My proudest hang was @ Willett hot springs circa 2005, there was a sloping rock with 103 degree water coursing down, maybe 1/2 an inch worth continually flowing and there it was a couple of trees and I set up my hammock so that I had central heating right below me, and it was a chilly night, but not for yours truly.

    3. LifelongLib

      A while ago a homeless man slung a hammock in one of our neighborhood trees. It was far above head level but he was agile enough to get in and out of it every day. He eventually left but everybody was amazed at his ingenuity.

  25. Mikel

    “Is Britain Finally Ready To Admit Brexit Was a (Catastrophic) Mistake?” Umar Haque

    Then read:

    “How America weaponised the West” Unherd

    All a good summary of the shaky state of the European project. Some excerpts:

    “…Just as “Nato unity” is a mirage that is meant to rhetorically mask the shaky foundations of Western universalism as underwritten by US power, “European identity” is an equally ambiguous and problematic notion because, geopolitically speaking, there are at least two Europes with diverging security interests, value systems, and cultural pedigree…”

    And this part reminds me of an observation that I also made some time ago about the EU similarities with the ME (along with China being a wedge issue for the EU/NATO project):

    “…Since the Second World War, partly as a result of the Cold War’s legacy and partly due to unrelenting Anglo-American interference, Europe is no longer the primary mover of world affairs. Instead, it has devolved into a regional theatre akin to the Middle East, in which competition among other great powers — for many decades Washington and Moscow — takes centre stage…”

    1. digi_owl

      What is striking is that this is yet another take that mentally place the British isles somewhere in the deep Atlantic rather than a hop skip from the French coast.

    2. skippy

      This always perplexes me as Brexit was a political stunt that went a bridge too far, hard right sorts drank the cool aid, and then the Tories were forced pull the trigger. Otherwise the faithful would have had their minds whip lashed and call the Tories into question e.g. damage to the control of the narrative i.e. freedom and liberty mind control …

    3. cosmiccretin

      Why the snarky “lol no” comment (by host) after the link? Conditioned reflex à la Pavlov perhaps?

      Anyone witnessing the EU’s current performance who believes that Brexit was a mistake (“catastrophic” or otherwise) is delusory IMO. And the mess that Britain is making is irrelevant one way or the other: it wasn’t intrinsic or preordained.

  26. Wukchumni

    What’s happening in Canada is very similar to the Big Burn of 1910, which consumed over 3 million acres in August of that year, and set us on a course where it was decided that we would extinguish every fire in the forests, which we now know was an utterly disastrous policy in the long run.

  27. Jason Boxman

    The suggested rail line travels through some of the countries that the author visited in Eastern Approaches, a book someone here recommended back in 2017, which was hard to find, but a great read when I did. His travels, too, were mostly via rail. He details his travels and his time in the Balkans, helping Tito against the Nazis during WWII. Stalin’s show trials while in Russia also gets some words.

    1. Brunches with Cats

      OMFFG. It’s three years of daily NC condensed into 11 minutes, almost too concentrated for human consumption; third-degree-burn-inducing stupid. But glad I resisted fast-forwarding to the end and watched the whole thing.

    2. Acacia

      Wao… the first minute is like clown world and then the hyperspace drive kicks in. Lol

  28. Tom Stone

    I’ll be having spinal surgery later this week at Memorial Hospital and they have been very easy to deal with when it comes to masking and allowing me to provide my own HEPA filter for the projected one night stay.
    Mention of the new ASHRAE standards and Corsi boxes drew serious interest, it seems like some people are finally getting around to reading the Memo…
    The one that says “Adapt or Die”.

    1. John Beech

      As a fellow sufferer of the back, you have my sympathies. I hope you report back about the procedure in greater detail after you’re recovered – for the curious, me amongst them. Good luck!

    2. Brunches with Cats

      Kudos for the masking and filter win. Wishing you equal or better success with the surgery and recovery.

    3. flora

      Best wishes. Glad the hospital is listening to your Corsi box air filtration information.

  29. Jason Boxman

    A Cohort of Scientists Is About to Be Crushed

    I find it remarkable that Science Twitter isn’t in absolute panic over the likely capitulation by the Biden administration* to House Republicans regarding the debt ceiling. If Republicans get their way, we’re looking at 22 percent cuts in all non-military, non-Social Security spending (and a couple of other programs)–and that’s if the cuts are equally distributed. If science gets hit worse, it will be really awful. Between these likely cuts and the pandemic, there’s a just-beginning cohort of researchers that is going to be obliterated.

    Not to mention, we’ll be headed into a new depression in time for the 2024 election, hooray!

  30. Jason Boxman

    The complete incompetence of the Biden administration really knows no bounds:

    President Biden said on Sunday that he believed he had the authority to challenge the constitutionality of the nation’s borrowing limit but that he did not believe such a challenge could succeed in time to avoid a default on federal debt if lawmakers did not raise the limit soon.

    (bold mine)

    Because the debt limit is such a minor event, no one in the Biden administration contemplated that a Republican takeover of the house, now some six months known, might mean the debt ceiling would not be raised without budget cuts. I mean, who knew? It’s not like Republicans literally said they’d do this, if in power, or whatever. No, this magically just happened… as was again reiterated in January!

    It is difficult to conclude that Biden doesn’t want cuts.

    1. Yves Smith

      This is of course ridiculous. He can just spend and force the conservatives to challenge him in court. As lawyers say, it’s better to ask for forgiveness than get permission.

    2. Nikkikat

      Well, he is being advised by Neera Tanden and John Podesta so there you go.
      Of course Biden wants them to cut everything. It will give him something to rant about while he is down in the basement, everyone in his administration is either senile (janet Yellen) or incompetent (kamala Harris, mayor Pete) or just a “lying Pony Soldier) (Austin and Miley) ask his White House spokes person and she will likely say No one could have seen this coming! No one!

  31. Wukchumni

    Devil’s Own Advocate:

    Lets say My Kevin (since ’07) forces the sum of all fears to happen and we default on the debt-setting off ireworks across the globe, as in we screwed the pooch, perhaps bringing an end to our hallowed hegemony?

    How would the public react, keeping in mind the Congress approval rating is sitting on a less than sparkling 18% already…

    1. John Anthony La Pietra

      I suppose it’s possible that more voters start downgrading their own Congresscritters too, not just the rest of them. . . .

  32. Revenant

    There can’t be much oxygen on the planet where Umair Haque lives because he’s always hyperventilating(*). I wearily read the article on the failures of Brexit just to check he hadn’t received a miracle cure but yes, he’s still as dumb as a box of spanners.

    Life’s too short to Fisk the whole thing but I’d like to point out a couple of gems:

    “Brexit destroyed Britain’s real crown jewels: the NHS, the BBC, and membership in the EU.”
    – I have no idea how he thinks Brexit destroyed the NHS and the BBC but destroying membership of the EU was, after all, the point, so it succeeded rather than failed on that point.
    – By contrast, the NHS has been destroyed by 10 years of neoliberalism: it was actually working OK after the Blair-Brown funding increases, only to be holed beneath the waterline by the 2012 Lansley reforms which handed commissioning of primary and secondary care to small consortia of primary physicians rather than large specialist regional commissioning boards, an act of ideological market fundamentalism so enormous it could be seen from space, and then ten years of austerity, goosed by Jeremy Hunt removing the duty of the Secretary of State to provide healthcare, i.e. undoing the founding Beveridge principle of state provision, and then the Covid pandemic.
    – the BBC has been destroyed by its own total capitulation to management consultants and the PMC (Harold Pinter’s “Croak-voiced Daleks” epitomised by John Birt, the management consultant appointed as Director General in the 1990’s). They have removed journalistic independence and hewn timorously to Establishment lines on topics such as immigration, Brexit, Russia-Russia-Russia, China, the Ukraine, austerity, MMT, Covid vaccination, lockdown and fomite transmission, LGBTQ, Alex Salmond the sex fiend in Nicola’s dreams, Novichok and the Skripals etc. etc. and of course the hagiography of QE2 and KC3. As a result of their obvious and tedious lies and partiality and the explosion of multi-channel options to hear other points of view, their viewership has plunged.

    “Let’s take a simple example — there’s only one country that’s gone from poor to rich, really, ever. That’s South Korea.”
    – He appears not to have heard of Japan, or China, or Poland, or Norway or, frankly, most of history in the real world beyond his mountain peak where the air is thin….

    (*)Strictly speaking, hyperventilation is cured by rebreathing expired air to increase CO2 concentration, hence the breathing into a paper bag. But figures of speech care little for physiology.

    1. Dida

      the BBC has been destroyed by its own total capitulation to management consultants and the PMC

      I doubt that the BBC top brass would have had the luxury to not capitulate to the neoliberal managerial philosophy. The ruling elites can be very… persuasive. The chairman, for example, is formally appointed for a four-year term – not really a tenured position.

    2. Bill Malcolm

      Ha ha. Wonderful description of Mr Haque: “Dumb as a box of spanners”.

      I first read him about six years ago following a link on a Canadian website. Was impressed. Read his next output, and began to wonder. After the third and fourth go, I was over him.

      For some reason, I’ve imagined John Clees listening to him for a few minutes then facing him squarely on and pronouncing: “You are a silly twit, aren’t you?”

      Of course, he might well be eligible for some sort of prize for saying the same thing twenty times over but in different ways in each post — in case the clueless clods reading his prose didn’t get the rubbery point in the first paragraph.

      But overall he seems wedded to old Roman nonsense circular logic, viz: “Anything is better than nothing. But nothing is better than virtue. So anything is better than virtue.” Etc.

      He is also a doomer, rabidly anti-Putin and anti-Trump, so therefore a PMC delight — when he doesn’t exhaust them half way through one of his long pedantic screeds. Another overly-opinionated bloke who reckons he’s way way smarter than the average bear, Could probably talk the hind leg off a donkey by sheer persistence, while becoming so enamoured of his own oh-so elegant arguments he wouldn’t notice that the donkey had left two hours ago to look for a bag of oats, a pail of water, some peace and quiet and a good snooze.

      1. Rolf

        Could probably talk the hind leg off a donkey

        Ha ha! I have somehow forgotten this, what a great idiom, thank you.

  33. Anon

    Zelenskyy says ‘Bakhmut is only in our hearts’ after Russia claims control of Ukrainian city

    The Russian capture of the last remaining ground in Bakhmut is “not tactically or operationally significant,” a Washington-based think tank said late Saturday. The Institute for the Study of War said that taking control of these areas “does not grant Russian forces operationally significant terrain to continue conducting offensive operations,” nor to “to defend against possible Ukrainian counterattacks.”

    Yes, but…

    The eight-month battle for Bakhmut has been the longest and probably most bloody of the conflict in Ukraine.

    I imagine the brass agrees with these analysts. After all, soldiers prefer a long, bloody battle for an irrelevant target.

    1. Daryl

      Nothing like watching your friends die horrifically while all the headlines are focused on a couple F-16 pilots taking a working vacation and getting their suntan on in Arizona.

  34. Willow

    G7 summit in Japan coming across as a PR stunt for G7 political leaders at risk of extinction. Too much fluff, not enough substance.

    1. Polar Socialist

      No wonder, really. Only three countries of the seven are in the top seven when GDP is measured in PPP. And Brasil will likely soon knock Germany out.

      In a few years the world will not care much about “G7”, if things continue on the current trajectory.

    1. Acacia

      Yeah, nerds get full dot mil access.

      Sounds like WarGames (1983), with Zuck in the Matthew Broderick role.

      What could go wrong?

        1. Rolf

          And Broderick’s David Lightman, although mischievous, was both resourceful under stress and had (as evident after he realizes the extent of what he has set in motion), a functioning conscience. Zuckerberg is a one trick Facebook pony, without one.

    2. SocalJimObjects

      Move fast and break things ala Zuckerberg, only this time around they will be breaking the US Military. Not a bad idea actually. With their incompatible Internet of Sh** devices, their equipment will start shooting at each other, WWIII cancelled!!!

  35. Jason Boxman

    A uniquely stupid NY Times image caption:

    A Ukrainian soldier firing a howitzer in eastern Ukraine. The war there is still largely being fought with 20th-century weapons. Tyler Hicks/The New York Times

    We killed more people in human history with 20th century weapons; I don’t get it. Like is there some 21st century weapon that’s going to be more effective for Ukraine than that? This world is insane.

    1. Rolf

      Insane at the NYT, at least. Perhaps a Death-Star-like super laser, a scaled up version of this, would garner the approval of our paper of record.

  36. Dida

    the BBC has been destroyed by its own total capitulation to management consultants and the PMC

    I doubt that the BBC top brass would have had the luxury to not capitulate to the neoliberal managerial philosophy. The ruling elites can be very… persuasive. The chairman, for example, is formally appointed for a four-year term – not really a tenured position.

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