Links 5/24/2023

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A Magnificent 1,000 Day Mushroom Timelapse Laughing Squid (resilc)

‘I knew aliens were real’: Marine’s footage of mystery objects over military base sparks UFO talk Raw Story (furzy)

Triangle-Wheeled Bike Gives New Meaning to ‘Tricycle’ Gizmodo

Questioning physicians about health conditions at medical licensure registration: How should policy evolve in Canada? CMAJ (Dr. Kevin)

German surgeon fired after getting hospital cleaner to assist amputation Associated Press (resilc)


China’s New Covid Wave Set to See 65 Million Cases a Week Bloomberg (ma)


More unwarranted US sense of its own superiority. And I recall Scott Ritter saying months ago China could and would sink a US aircraft carrier before it got very far:

A Poor Province in China Splurged on Bridges and Roads. Now It’s Facing a Debt Reckoning Wall Street Journal



Climate scientists flee Twitter as hostility surges following Musk’s takeover France24 (furzy)

France bans short-haul domestic flights that could be made by train ABC Australia (Kevin W)

As the West surges toward electric cars, here’s where the unwanted gas guzzlers go Bloomberg (ma)

Cocoa planting is destroying protected forests in west Africa, study finds Guardian (resilc)

European Disunion

Normalization on the Extreme Right: Alternative for Germany Party Again Gaining Ground Der Spiegel (resilc)

Greece: another chapter CADTM (Micael T)

Old Blighty

New Not-So-Cold War

German spy chief sees no ‘cracks’ in Putin system DW. Resilc: “Geeeee what newzzzzzzzzz.”


Ukraine war: US distances itself from Belgorod incursion into Russia BBC (Kevin W)

F-16s To Ukraine Moon of Alabama (Kevin W)

The War in Ukraine Was Provoked—and Why That Matters to Achieve Peace Common Dreams (furzy)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

U.S. Intelligence Building System to Track Mass Movement of People Around the World Vice (resilc)

Imperial Collapse Watch

Pentagon loses a million F-35 parts RT


70 percent of US voters fear intel agencies will interfere in elections: Harvard poll The Cradle (Kevin W). Wowsers


Driver who crashed at White House said he wanted to kill Biden, ‘seize power,’ officials say NBC (furzy)

GOP Clown Car

DeSantis’s $13.5m police program lures officers with violent records to Florida Guardian (resilc)

Risk and reward as Ron DeSantis links arms with Elon Musk BBC

Democrats en déshabillé

Texas bills on school chaplains, 10 Commandments merge church and state Washington Post (furzy)

Our No Longer Free Press

Australia’s Creepy Covid Cops Matt Taibbi


Mass shootings’ cascading impact Your Local Epidemiologist (Dr. Kevin)

What Unites Organised Crime in Europe With Rebels in Myanmar? 3D-Printed Guns. Vice

Debt Ceiling

White House and Republicans struggle to make headway in debt ceiling talks Financial Times

The Democrats Have Already Lost the Debt Ceiling Fight New Republic. Resilc: “Like abortion, when they had years to do something. Always political theater for next electionzzzz.”

Biden is at his moment of maximum risk. Look out. Ryan Grim

Saddled with Trump, unpopular policies, GOP toys with tanking economy under Biden MSNBC

U.S. Treasury asks about later payments as debt ceiling deadline nears Washington Post (furzy)

Court sets legal showdown on debt limit 14th Amendment argument Politico (furzy)

Opinion: The best way to deal with the debt ceiling: Ignore it Los Angeles Times


Fake Pentagon explosion photo goes viral: How to spot an AI image Al Jazeera (furzy). So what might focus minds is that AI could generate propaganda better and cheaper than the official kind.

Bill Gates Says AI Could Kill Google Search and Amazon As We Know Them CNBC

Microsoft launches AI moderation tool RT (Kevin W)

Ford Decides It Won’t Kill AM Radio After All The Verge

The Bezzle

Binance Commingled Customer Funds and Company Revenue, Former Insiders Say Reuters

Crypto sector gets its first set of global rules from watchdog Reuters. Global coordination did not get much of anywhere after the crisis.

U.S. Is ‘Losing’ the Bitcoin Movement: Cathie Wood Coindesk. As if that were a bad thing.

Virgin Orbit Shuts Down After Bankruptcy Sales CNBC

Guillotine Watch

The Joy (and Anxiety) of Sleeping on $2,000 Sheets New York Times (resilc)

More super rich names are coming up in the Jeffrey Epstein cases Washington Post (Kevin W)

US authorities destroyed dossiers on Lord Mountbatten at the request of the British Government after discovery of wartime FBI file accusing aristocrat of having a ‘perversion for young boys’, historian claims Daily Mail

Class Warfare

Who’s Funding ‘No Labels’? Pro-GOP Billionaires Opposed to Democracy Common Dreams (furzy)

Tory anti-strikes bill passes latest vote as UK trade unions mount token protest WSWS

Toward a Leisure Ethic Hedgehog Review (Micael T)

Antidote du jour (furzy):

And a bonus (Chuck L):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Sardonia

    Thanks to Lambert for yellow-wading through the Durham Report, and summing it up with “The Republic We Didn’t Keep”. That deserves a new song, melody from The Beach Boy’s “Fun, Fun, Fun (‘til her daddy took her T-Bird Away)”

    Well, they got a dossier
    Full of lies and really bad innuendo
    And they played it to the max
    Like a kid with a brand new Nintendo
    And with their media blasting
    They got the Trump Hate built up to a crescendo

    Fun, Fun, Fun
    ‘til the G-Men took elections away.
    (Fun. Fun, Fun ‘til the G-Men took elections away)

    They really hated The Don
    Cuz they knew that they couldn’t control him.
    (They couldn’t control him; they couldn’t control him)
    All the others that were running
    They knew that they could totally roll ‘em.
    (Could totally roll ‘em; could totally roll ‘em)
    So, they used seven ways to Sunday
    To screw Orange Man all the way up his rectum
    (All the way up his bum; all the way up his bum)

    Fun, Fun, Fun
    ‘til the G-Men took elections away
    (Fun, Fun, Fun ‘til the G-Men took elections away)

    Well they knew all along
    They were breaking every law of the land, now
    (They shouldn’t have lied now; they shouldn’t have lied)
    But all the rice bowls of their buddies
    Were in danger so they played every hand, now
    (They shouldn’t have lied now; they shouldn’t have lied)
    But when The Don won anyway
    They all insisted he’s an agent from Moscow
    (They shouldn’t have lied now; they shouldn’t have lied)

    Fun, Fun, Fun
    ‘til the G-Men took elections away
    (Fun, Fun, Fun ‘til the G-Men took elections away)
    Fun, Fun, Fun
    ‘til the G-Men took elections away
    (Fun, Fun, Fun ‘til the G-Men took elections away)
    (Woo woo, woo woo woo woo woo woo woo)
    (Fun, Fun, Fun ‘til the G-Men took elections away)
    (Fun, Fun, Fun ‘til the G-Men took elections away)
    (Fun, Fun, Fun ‘til the G-Men took elections away)
    (Fun, Fun, Fun ‘til the G-Men took elections away)
    (Fun, Fun, Fun ‘til the G-Men took elections away)

    1. griffen

      Congrats, that is a well done submission! While they are always intending to screw the Donald, do we have to reference anyone’s, erm, outgoing orifice?!?

      On the other hand, there is a funny Seinfeld clip, where Kramer receives the wrong license plate!

      1. Sardonia

        With limited time, there are only so many words that rhyme with “um”. :)

        Ah, yes. Fusilli Jerry. “A million to one shot, Doc”

  2. griffen

    A political party supported by the capitalist system winners! For shame, billionaires, say it is not so. It’s like, shocking to read that and stuff.

    Instead of No Labels…how about No Sh*t!

  3. zagonostra

    A Poor Province in China Splurged on Bridges and Roads. Now It’s Facing a Debt Reckoning- Wall Street Journal

    Cracks have been showing in the finances of Guizhou, a southwestern province with jaw-dropping landscapes and some of the world’s highest bridges. It was one of China’s fastest-growing local economies over the past decade—thanks in large part to its heavy spending on infrastructure development.

    I wish my gov’t here in the good old U.S. of A would do some “splurging” instead of being fiscally responsible by not bothering to patch up crater-sized potholes and seriously dealing with too many damn cars on the road by investing in high-speed rail and other infrastructure.

    God forbid having too much “debt buildup” which may impact producing all those arms manufacturing products we send to Ukraine to be blown up.

    1. nippersdad

      We broke the motor mounts on the car driving into downtown Atlanta the other day, which will be spendy when we get around to having them fixed, but the idea that this has enabled Lockheed Martin execs to sleep on $2,000.00 sheets is truly priceless.

      USA! USA! USA! BooYah!

      (Might need a snark tag.)

      1. fringe element

        Atlanta here too. I take short cuts to get to the grocery because the potholes on the main road are so bad I fear what they will do to the car.

      2. griffen

        Every drive into and back, when visiting family in Atlanta, I remind myself. One thing only.

        Never ever, not ever gonna move there. I foresee the day when passing from South Carolina into Georgia, on I – 85, instead of Welcome to Georgia it’s Welcome to Outer Atlanta.

  4. zagonostra

    “If I am having a conversation with someone, and I cannot tell whether it is a human or an AI—that’s the end of democracy,” warns @harari_yuval in a guest essay

    Poor Harari, someone forgot to tell him that “democracy” was canceled some time ago and it didn’t even need artificial intelligence. It turns out that “natural” intelligence can achieve the same goal all on its own.

    1. George Vockroth

      Presently it would seem that only an AI could have a conversation with someone and not be able to tell if they’re a human or an AI. Whence HararAI?

    2. Daryl

      > Forget about school essays. Think of the next American presidential race in 2024, and try to imagine the impact of ai tools that can be made to mass-produce political content, fake-news stories and scriptures for new cults.

      Imagine if American presidential elections were impacted by loads of fake information and suppression of real information. The horror!

  5. zagonostra

    >Climate scientists flee Twitter as hostility surges following Musk’s takeover – France24

    Researchers have documented an explosion of hate and misinformation on Twitter since [Elon Musk] took over in October 2022 — and now experts say communicating about climate science on the social network on which many of them rely is getting harder.

    Maybe it has to do with groups on Twitter posting pictures of call-it-what-you-want coming out of non-commercial aircraft leaving trails that spread out in the sky blotting out that beautiful blue into a hazy dull pale sky and then speculating, as people will tend to do.

    1. rowlf

      In the past the USAF would give weather briefings stating what altitudes were expected to produce contrails. There is an environmental push now to operate airliners at altitudes that do no create contrails.

  6. GC54

    If any F-16s do end up over Ukraine, briefly, why would most need a pilot on board? USAF has been converting some to operate remotely for years, and more recently, testing autonomous 9g-load combat. They’d basically sprint to get target in range of a stand-off missile then flee. If shot down on exit, no pilot loss. Easier to train Ukr “pilot” who would in fact be “supervised” by the real one sitting in a container in Nevada.

    1. Steve H.

      > such as Skyborg, an artificial intelligence-driven unmanned aircraft

      We’ll see about remote F-16’s. IANAP, but my understanding is that the innate instability leads to its agility. Does fly-by-wire depend on feel? F-16 got some haters in the Pentagon, messes with their strategy. Handing them to incompetent pilots is a good way to attrit.

  7. russell1200

    Your using Scott Ritter as a naval expert is interesting. He is an ex-marine, so presumably he has been on a ship at some point. He has some knowledge of ballistic missiles, but that isn’t what we are talking about here.

    The use of hypersonic missiles on targets that move is a non-starter. That is what the Chinese say they used in their wargames.

    Why is a hypersonic missile a non-starter? Because, and it sort of makes sense if you think about it, they are difficult to turn in any sort of meaningful way: they are moving really really fast after all. So they can be used to take out non-moving airbases, headquarters, etc. (just like non-hypersonic missiles), but air craft carriers move around enough that at anything other than point blank range, they will likely move outside the weapons blast radius.

    They also have issues with the weapon moving so fast, that on board sensors have difficulty picking up data. This is similar to why rocket propelled torpedoes have never been able to work particularly well.

    Which leaves us to the usual wargame problem of inputs and scenario not being attuned to reality, but to the internal politics of the entity doing the wargaming. So sure, the Chinese can likely sink our aircraft carriers if we do something stupid with them: and we might. But recall, the Chinese are building their own aircraft carriers.

    1. SocalJimObjects

      I am not a weapons expert whatsoever, but surely this is about relative speed and distance. If an aircraft carrier moves at X knots and a missile moves at 200X, then X might as well be stationary? If the carriers are parked further away, then what threat do they pose on the Mainland? Also what about just firing multiple missiles at once covering the most probably path a carrier might take? China is the world’s factory, so producing a ton of those missiles should not be difficult for them.

      1. russell1200

        The ocean is huge, and non-nuclear warheads are tiny: they need guidance. Even moving at at 200x the distances travelled are too great.

        My complaint is very specific to the hypersonic missiles hysteria. The USSR back in the 1960s developed wake guided torpedoes. They sense the pressure differential left buy the carriers wake and travel up it to blow up their back end. The US had a system they were developing a few years ago to try and depth charge the torpedoes (point being – the threat never went way, it was just ignored) and gave up on it because apparently it had constant false alarms. It would run out of ammo before a real torpedo ever came into its vicinity.

        Hypersonic missiles are at this point propaganda to justify defense spending to counter peripheral systems.

        1. MJ the covid spreader

          The ocean is huge but aircraft carriers are also pretty big. Also, the Chinese would not be trying to hit the ocean. That is, they’re not going to fire randomly, say, into the Southern ocean, ‘just in case’ there is an aircraft carrier hiding there. That narrows the targeting area.

          Nimitz class carriers are 330m x 78 m wide with a top speed of 30knots (~55km/hour) or about 1km/minute.

          That means that if you spot an aircraft carrier, then, within a minute it would be at most a kilometre away from its original position. You could cover a 1km x 1km grid with missiles spaced 100 metres apart (100 missiles all up) and should be able to hit the carrier at least once if not multiple times with a high chance of success.

          Even if the missiles are difficult to aim at high speed, they can do the targeting at the lower speeds (i.e. on the ascent and initial descent) and line up the firing solution.

          The 100 missiles could be arranged to come in from multiple directions, making air defence more difficult.

          Even if the missiles cost $5 million each (i.e. cost of a patriot missile) then it would cost $500 million for such a salvo, which is much cheaper than the $8.5 billion carrier plus the billions of dollars of planes (85-90 carrying capacity). $8.5 billion would buy 17 such salvos in case the first few fail. There are also thousands of crewmen.
          Of course, cost wouldn’t be the primary consideration for an existential war.

          I suspect the missiles won’t cost so much in China and that one doesn’t need so many hypersonic missiles, especially if lesser or decoy missiles are used in conjunction with the hyper sonic missile salvo.

          Even if such an attack only has a 25% chance of success, that would give any sane commander reason to hesitate.

          Sorry; I’m not seeing the difficulty in hitting an aircraft carrier. It suggests to me that the US surface navy is obsolete.

    2. The Rev Kev

      ‘Why is a hypersonic missile a non-starter? Because, and it sort of makes sense if you think about it, they are difficult to turn in any sort of meaningful way’

      But how would that compare to the turning circle of a Ford-class aircraft carrier? At the very least it would take a minute or two – assuming that it knew that a hypersonic missile was on the way and it was not just happily steaming along. You can bet that a missile like that would be self-correcting constantly and for all we know, perhaps a Chines sattelite has it painted from above with a laser and is working with that missile. Who knows? And can you imagine the damage caused by a Kinzhal-type hypersonic missile punching through the flight deck?

      1. russell1200

        I took this from comments made by a missile designer on the US side who had worked on them. I was more charitable as to their usefulness than I recall him being.

        In any case, as I noted directly above, there are other less sexy ways to take out carriers.

    3. Stephen

      Andrei Martyanov is a naval expert and he explains in various places that such missiles can take out aircraft carriers.

      My understanding is that these weapons come in various varieties as either ballistic missiles, ballistic cum glide missiles and scramjet powered cruise missiles. The Russian Zircon is seemingly a cruise variety that is specifically designed for the anti ship role.

      It also seems that these weapons do not travel at hypersonic speed when they hit the target. However, when they are in hypersonic mode then a plasma shield makes them pretty much impervious to detection, so tricky to evade. A couple of these aimed at a relatively slow moving surface war ship seems very doable. Although I make no claims to understand the physics and much of the detail is clearly highly classified and unknown publicly.

      1. russell1200

        This reads exactly like the problems they had with rocket propelled torpedoes. The trick in getting the torpedo to slow up at the correct time was never resolved.

        It is my understanding (not 100% sure) that most current missile defense comes from jamming/spoofing type activities. A hypersonic missile is not going to be any better than a regular missile in that regard if it slows up to detectability speeds.

    4. Yves Smith Post author

      Please re-read what I wrote. I did not say Ritter said the Chinese would use hypersonic missiles. He simply said they could take them out with missiles.

      1. tevhatch

        Indeed, I’ve heard him make the statement a few times, and while he is talking extemporaneously there is almost no variation in the core points when I heard him.

        China has the industrial capacity to simply overwhelm the defense. This can be done with sub-sonic missiles, much less super-sonic or hyper-sonic. It’s surprising how cheap those things get when produced on scale without MIC-IMATTS parasites to feed.

        1. Glen

          Col. Wilkerson has been involved in DoD war gaming around Tiawan. He said these almost always ended in nuclear war. I’ll find the links.

          But these efforts to provoke war in Russia and China are insane. Even back in the 80’s when I was in, getting into two front wars on opposite sides of the world was regarded as extremely stupid move. And America’s military, despite a trillion dollar budget is not what it was back then. It also clearly gives China a tremendous incentive to support Russia in Ukraine.

          Who in the world is making this policy in DC? They seem to be completely delinked from reality. When we ordered our last free US government CV test kits, these came marked “Made in China”.

        2. jsn

          “The greatest threat to carrier fleets was born when the US Navy invited a Chinese admiral to visit the carrier Nimitz. He was deeply impressed by the ship’s complexity and the crew’s expertise but what really impressed him was its size, “I’ve just seen the world’s biggest target. If we can’t hit an aircraft carrier we can’t hit anything”.

          This article quotes RAND saying the same thing Martyanov and Ritter say.

    5. Lex

      They are likely not hypersonic at impact, simply because of the physics of moving at such speeds in sea level air pressure. So they are maneuverable during their final attack approach. (And carriers are very slow while providing a very large target area.)

      The point of the hypersonic is to limit the time air defenses have to recognize and target them. And unlike ballistic missiles, which are hypersonic during descent, they aren’t picked up at launch and don’t have a trajectory that defense systems can calculate. All that said, targeting a moving object will always be harder than stationary. Though much of the hypersonic development was specifically for targeting carriers so I’m fairly sure designers and engineers were considering it.

    6. Michaelmas

      russell1200: Why is a hypersonic missile a non-starter? Because, and it sort of makes sense if you think about it, they are difficult to turn in any sort of meaningful way

      Nonsense. This may come as a shock to you but hypersonic missiles have these things called guidance systems — onboard electronic brains so they can maneuver to home in on their target.

      Additionally, one definition of hypersonic weapons is precisely that they are long-range, maneuvering, air-breathing systems (i.e. scramjet-powered) that travel in excess of Mach 5.

      Historically, the Russians have made it a practice ever since they created their supersonic Moskit/Sunburn carrier killer missile in 1984, which performs intensive anti-defense maneuvers at a speed of Mach 2.9 when it’s within 9 kilometers of its target —

      — to equip some of their missiles to perform extremely rapid evasive maneuvers during the final approach to their targets. So it’s clearly possible to create missiles that maneuver very rapidly during their final approaches.

      As regards the Russian Kinzhal, specifically, it’s arguably true that it doesn’t really meet the definition of being a true hypersonic missile, which would employ a scramjet engine (as the Moskit/Sunburn does) or a similar advanced propulsion to enable maneuverability while maintaining hypersonic speed. The Kinzhal instead uses a solid-fuel rocket engine, possibly derived from the SS-26 Iskander, which, like most solid rockets, likely can’t be shut down or throttled in flight. Once the rocket motor has burnt out, in other words, the missile would then coast to its target.

      Still, the Kinzhal moves at over 2 miles a second and if you want to claim that an aircraft carrier will somehow outrun that once it’s launched, I will concede that it’s an amusing claim.

      More to the point as regards the Chinese war game under discussion, however, is that the Chinese are presumably basing their definition of what a hypersonic missile can do on their own hypersonic missile development program. That program, according to most intelligence, aims at scramjet-type maneuverability.

      1. Polar Socialist

        We should also always remember that when using mach speeds, it’s always relative to the speed of sound in the local air mass. In other words, missile that is hypersonic in 40,000 feet, can be only supersonic at 40 feet – even if it’s traveling at the same ground speed.

        When it comes to older Soviet/Russian anti-ship missiles, I’m particularly impressed with P-500 Bazalt (and it’s development P-700 Granit) from the 70’s. It was designed to be used in a salvo of 8 missiles that were data linked together. The swarm would fly very low, but one of them would pop higher once in a while to get radar lock on the target(s) and relay the info to other missiles – which divided the targets between them (4 per aircraft carrier). If the “scout” was destroyed, some other missile would assume the role.

        Anyhow, for long range anti-ship warfare hitting the target doesn’t seem to be the problem. Finding the target and getting good, real-time targeting info to the weapon system is the big issue. Also, when a carrier is launching or receiving aircraft, it doesn’t maneuver that much.

        1. Michaelmas

          Polar Socialist: …missile that is hypersonic in 40,000 feet, can be only supersonic at 40 feet

          Yes. All the facts of different physics in thicker atmosphere near the Earth’s surface.

          Thank you for bringing up the P-500 Bazalt and its early swarm approach from the 70’s. I didn’t know about that.

      1. Eustache de Saint Pierre

        I believe that the Titanic took about 40 minutes of hard to starboard in failing to avoid the iceberg.

          1. ambrit

            I have read the theory that if the lookouts had recognized the danger a little later, the Titanic would have struck the iceberg head on. In that scenario, the Titanic would not have sunk, just had massive bow damage, but been able to limp into port for repairs. Apparently, the major contributing factor to the sinking was the damage to the side of the hull that covered several of the supposedly watertight bulkheads. Too much water came into too many of the “watertight” compartments in the bow area too fast to allow any effective counter measures. Essentially, the Titanic was doomed when the bridge crew tried to avoid the iceberg, just a minute too late to avoid all contact. She slid alongside the iceberg, tearing a gash in the side of the hull. (Ballard speculates that the iceberg did not “tear a gash” in the side so much as buckle the affected hull plates and accomplish the same effect by opening the seams between the hull plates in a line.)
            The damage was on the starboard side, so, the turn had to be to the port side. [Sorry for being a pedantic twit. It seems to be hard wired into the brains of technos and want to be technos everywhere.]
            Stay safe, avoid icebergs.

            1. LifelongLib

              Not many icebergs in Hawaii!

              Re the turn, I’ve read that in 1912 turning to starboard meant moving the stern to starboard i.e. the bow to port. Pre-automobile, ships wheels were rigged in reverse to what they are today, so turning the wheel clockwise would swing the stern to starboard and the bow to port. As you say this caused the starboard side to scrape along the iceberg.

              1. Eustache de Saint Pierre

                I stand corrected & should have checked my what appears to be increasingly leaky memory or my cloth ears on the tour at the Belfast Titanic Centre – thank you.

      2. Michaelmas

        ‘Some say’ are two kinds of naval vessels, submarines and targets.

        As far back as WWII, Admiral Donitz used to invite each new U-boat commander to his office, point to a picture on his wall of an open sea surface and say, “That is the future of naval warfare.”

      3. berit

        A target is sitting in the fjord at Oslo for a week, we are told, with 4500 soldiers and crew, atomic engine AND atomic weapons aboard, I’m certain. Safely working basepolitics since the 1950 have been thrown over board – by tpb – Stoltenberg, PM Støre, potus Biden & crazy company. 333 meters uncomfortable presence of USS Gerald R Ford in this narrow fjord! Good grief. Not thanking our very own warmongers, also called socialdemocrats, the conservative right, Senterpartiet and the ex-left. I don’t think the huge target brings peace nor political change in local elections in September, provided we’re still here.
        Norwegian mainstream politicians – across the board – have made enmity with our neigbour Russia. A new peace party is being proposed, Jeremy Corby invited, a far more welcome guest than the monster target sitting in Oslofjorden.

        1. Bill Malcolm

          On October 28 last year the USS Gerald R Ford sat like a baleful monster in the harbour in Halifax, NS. The purpose of its visit and weekend stay was never revealed, other than just to show the flag, one supposes. Or enjoy Hallowe’en and real Cadbury choco treats. Maybe it was just having a well-earned pant and recuperation after a breathless 1200 mile three week dash up from Norfolk VA. About all the usual local MSM shouters could say was that it was the first foreign port the carrier visited and on its very first actual deployment at that. Wow. We were so impressed and awed that not a soul I know even mentioned the ship in passing conversation. After all, it was no bigger than the over 100 giant cruise ships that dock here each year. Maybe a bit longer, but nowhere near as high. Wide at flight deck level.

          I was much more interested 30 years ago when a whole Russian fleet visited Halifax. They all seemed to be in 7/8 scale, rather toylike, and their dark grey paint contrasted vividly with our own very light eggshell grey. I worked in an office tower overlooking the harbour at the time, and the most impressive thing to watch was when the Russians finally left after days of gorging on Tim Hortons coffee and doughnuts. No messing about, they skedaddled in their narrow long ships with bow waves and everything. Honestly, they physically looked completely out-of-date compared to our wide flat-stern fatties, but I knew they all had pretty impressive steam turbine propulsion systems developed in the early ’50s, and were fast compared to our stuff. Khruschev and Bulganin visited Portsmouth UK in 1956 where I lived as a kid at the time, so I went down to Southsea seafront to watch the ship arrive. Slowly, darn. The tabloids had been bleating for days about how the ship maintained 40 knots steaming south down the North Sea, and how come RN ships were so slow. Of course, the Brits sent out frogmen to check under the ship for secrets while it was in port. One disappeared, “Buster” Crabb. MI6 at work just before M and Mrs Moneypenny joined the team bringing unalloyed success during the swinging ’60s. Ahem.

          The Gerald Ford in our harbour is one thing over here in fortress North America, but having it skulk in a Norwegian fjord much nearer the current flash point in Europe is somethng else, but hardly new. US fleets steam up and down the Baltic just for R&R begging the Russkies to come out and fight like real men. The USSGRF in a fjord is a sitting duck for a volley of missiles, one presumes, without much room to manoeuvre for escape in that inlet to Oslo. It just paints another bullseye on the Norwegian capital if extra were needed after their NAMMO shells and NASAMS.deployed by Ukraine.

          It hasn’t been clear to me since the Falklands war in 1982 that any modern ship today could any better evade destruction from the Mark 1 French Exocet missiles the Argentines deployed against Britain then. Those brought Dear Maggie up short and having to ask for Reagan to spare Sidewinders and give mid Atlantic refueling to the Avro Vulcan bomber. What a shambles that whole exercise was, really. The wall-of-lead super Gatling chain guns for ship defence we now have might work against Exocet, if one were extremely lucky and detected the sea-skimmers early. Today, a Zircon makes that Exocet look like a toy. Have no idea how good the Chinese anti-ship missiles are, but if the first one misses, then perhaps one of the 39 following might well work. Like zillions of second rate Sherman tanks overcame superior German tanks by sheer force of numbers in 1944/45 in the ETO. The Chinese still know what quantity means, but the US has forgotten.

          The American idea of quality of armament over quantity may be in vacuum be a great idea. But then those fine weapons had better be truly superior. So when they turn out to be complete duds like the single-engined Flying Pig F35, where does that leave the US? Inventing BS propaganda to cover the gap between fantasy and reality. All lapped up by a public who have trouble acknowledging the existence of a civilized world beyond its borders, and anyway, only American-made is any good barring a few German and Japanese cars. Pride before a fall.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        Huh? There have been many stories of recent US tests of hypersonic missiles failing and the US not having one in productio. This from March:

        The US Department of Defense is pouring money into hypersonic weapons after years of defense officials’ warnings that China is gaining superiority in that arena. But a 21st-century arms race is a major risk, especially without a full picture of Chinese weapons development and amid the increasingly poor relationship between the two nations.

        Hypersonic weapons, or vehicles and missiles that travel faster than Mach 5, or five times the speed of sound, aren’t new; the US has been developing and testing these weapons since the 1950s. But there’s been relatively little US investment in these systems in recent decades, while China and Russia have developed their hypersonics programs. Russia even used six of its hypersonic Kinzhal missiles in Ukraine earlier this month, the largest number the country has deployed in one strike during the war. Other countries including Australia, Iran, both North and South Korea, Brazil, Germany, Israel, India, and Japan are developing hypersonic programs. However, the increase in funding and tempo of the US program comes as relations between the US and China are the worst they’ve been in decades….

        The US military began working on hypersonic systems back in the 1960s, mostly looking at hypersonic flight capabilities for carrying people, not necessarily just weapons. But in the 1980s, that began to change, as Popular Science reported last year. That’s when the Air Force tested the Maneuvering Reentry Vehicle (MaRV), showing that missiles going at Mach 5 or faster as they re-entered Earth’s atmosphere could be maneuvered to hit a target. The US started pursuing hypersonic weapons development in earnest in the early 2000s, as part of its conventional prompt global strike program.

        There are two main hypersonic weapons system concepts — the glide vehicle and air-breathing missile — that the US is developing. While the weapons systems themselves are conventional, or non-nuclear, China is developing nuclear-capable missiles, as the 2021 tests showed.

        See repeated use of “is developing” and similar language above.

        From the CBO at the end of January:

        After many decades of conducting basic research, the Department of Defense (DoD) recently increased its spending to develop technology for hypersonic weapons. The Air Force, Army, and Navy all plan to field hypersonic missiles within the next few years. China and Russia have stated that they are also fielding such weapons.

        The first (only from what I can tell) successful test was last December:

        The United States Air Force (USAF) has successfully tested its first prototype hypersonic missile.

        I don’t see how you can intercept a missile with varporware.

        The Sprint was barely in production in the 1970s before it was cancelled. It carried thermonuclear warheads (!!!). I see nothing indicating it was actually fired. Strikes as part of tests IMHO don’t count.

        The Sprint was a two-stage, solid-fuel anti-ballistic missile (ABM), armed with a W66 enhanced-radiation thermonuclear warhead used by the United States Army from 1975-1976. It was designed to intercept incoming reentry vehicles (RV) after they had descended below an altitude of about 60 kilometres (37 mi), where the thickening air stripped away any decoys or radar reflectors and exposed the RV to observation by radar. As the RV would be traveling at about 5 miles per second (8,047 m/s; 26,400 ft/s; Mach 24), Sprint had to have phenomenal performance to achieve an interception in the few seconds before the RV reached its target.

        Sprint accelerated at 100 g, reaching a speed of Mach 10 (12,300 km/h; 7,610 mph) in 5 seconds. Such a high velocity at relatively low altitudes created skin temperatures up to 6,200 °F (3,427 °C), requiring an ablative shield to dissipate the heat.[2][3] The high temperature caused a plasma to form around the missile, requiring extremely powerful radio signals to reach it for guidance. The missile glowed bright white as it flew.

        Sprint was the centerpiece of the Nike-X system, which concentrated on placing bases around large cities to intercept Soviet warheads.

        1. rowlf

          There were reports of a physical hit by a Sprint missile with no warhead on a descending target during testing. (Hopefully the target didn’t have a transponder.) Some amazing technology from when the US used to build stuff.

        1. rowlf

          Nope. Aviation Week & Space Technology and Air Force magazines in the 1970s. The operational career of the missile systems reminded me of the Atlas missile site near a SAC base I was at that had a short operational period before being decommissioned.

    7. Kouros

      Apparently the terminal velocity of hypersonic missiles is not hypersonic. I think Simplicius the Thinker had a long article describing a lot of technical details, including pictures and clips…

      1. Polar Socialist

        Yes. The term hypersonic is not directly about the speed of the object, but the relation of it’s speed to the speed of sound in the surrounding gas. In general, mach 5 is considered where the transition from supersonic to hypersonic happens.

        In reality the main issue, extensive heat generation affecting the physics of flow around the object begins somewhat earlier, around mach 4 when turbojets in general can’t operate* anymore.

        So, for developers and engineers hypersonic is just a way to say that the missile’s structure, guidance and propulsion require different solutions than supersonic or subsonic missiles. Even if the weapon travels at hypersonic speed only part of it’s trajectory.

        I’m not sure, but I think the number 5 comes from German research during the development of V-2. Their Peenemunde wind tunnel could do only mach 4.4, but when experimenting with real rockets going a bit faster, things got “odd”. Apropos, that wind tunnel was later transferred to Maryland and in 1948 managed mach 5.1 routinely.

        * turbine blades begin to melt at mach 3.5, and there are also problems with the compressor when the incoming air is actually already too compressed and would need decompression or at least slowing the flow enough to allow combustion (and thus enters ramjet).

    1. Stephen

      The You Tube video that Will Shryver links to from a simulation in 2021 is fascinating.

      Seems a bit hubristic in the sense that the Chinese lose lots of planes to awesome US fighter jets prior to just hurling a few hypersonic missiles at the US Carrier Group. The US even manage to shoot some down before being sunk!

      I suspect reality would be a lot “cleaner”. Why risk manned fighters when you have such missiles?

      1. juno mas

        I imagine the Chinese fighters are in the air to intercept the jet fighters launched from the aircraft carrier (which are likely carrying weapons).

    2. Boomheist

      This story, concerning the vulnerability of naval ships to missiles (not just hypersonic missiles, by the way, because a swarm of cruise missiles would overwhelm carrier defences, I believe) needs to be considered in the context of some other factoids yoiu can find on Twitter and in the media:

      1. The US Navy currently has limited mission support capability, ie tankers and freighters to supply ships and troops stationed overseas. Every time they run a test on the Military Sealift Command fleet – a bunch of ships once IN the Navy but then under the public-private ideology started with Reagan contracted out to private firms for “efficiency” reasons – they can only successfully deploy, like, 40 percent of them. I worked for MSC for a few years 2014-2016 and the ships are old, maintenance nightmares, and creaky as hell. So the back-up logistics capability to support the ships at sea and overseas-stationed troops is thin indeed.

      2. Most of the US shipyards are gone, broke, out of business, such that the few remaining live entirely on US DOD contracts and are, consequently, woefully inefficient at best and, even more, have nowhere the capability to repair the ships we have or, heaven forbid, build new ones. There were reports the other day that one of our 12 or 13 huge nuclear powered carriers just emerged from a “refueling” rotation that took over FIVE YEARS.

      3. Based on the Ukraine situation, our industrial capacity to make and deliver ammunition to any of our services is limited and nowhere near large enough were a “real” battle to begin.

      We have been trumpeting how our military is the greatest, strongest, and most powerful on earth so long we now actually believe it, even in the DOD, but as far as I can tell the Navy is in an extremely vulnerable position, and strong only so long as it is never used; we don;t have the industrial capacity to maintain our services or supply them with ammo; and we’re having trouble these days meeting enlistment targets.

      If something bad or stupid happens near Taiwan I think the American public is going to be shocked at the US losses.

      1. Screwball

        As if Ukraine isn’t enough, our insane leaders seem to be poking the China bear too. War games aside, China could put enough hurt on the US of A pretty easy and quick IMO.

        China imports to the USA in 2023 were ~560 billion. So, America, what goods would you like us to embargo until you back off? Drugs? Semiconductors? Misc auto parts?

        They could put this country in a very bad place in a very short time. Same with Russia, if they decided to cut an undersea cable. I’m afraid we are inching ever closer to the F around and find out phase.

        Where are the adults in the room? Apparently, there are none.

        1. The Rev Kev

          At least we are not reading reports of them trying to shoot down those UFOs. Trying to get the US into a war with Russia and China is one thing but do they really want to start an interstellar war as well?

          1. ambrit

            We are already in a war that we ‘deplorables’ didn’t particularly want or anticipate; a war between Reality and the Elite Consensus.
            So far, historically, the record has Reality winning every time.
            Get ready for the latest sequel to Wagner’s “Der Ring des Nibelungen,” “Globerdammerung.”
            Stay safe Oper fans!

  8. GramSci

    Re. The War in Ukraine was Provoked.

    Just when I was starting to feel good about Jeffrey Sachs. “Russia could have negotiated instead of invading.” Sigh. Quotes Orwell about controlling history, and then chooses not to mention Minsk.

    1. nippersdad

      I was watching a MacGregor post yesterday with former Ambassador Chas Freeman.* They are trundling along, having a long conversation about how Russia was provoked and war was made inevitable, until Chas slips in that Russia’s invasion was “stupid and illegal”. They have their little red lines, and these people will give you intellectual whiplash over them every single time.

      One might think that a former ambassador would have known about the R2P process that Russia painstakingly engaged in prior to their moving into the Donbass, but if he did he was not going to go there.


      1. tevhatch

        To give Chas Freeman some credit, I’m pretty sure I heard him say he considers R2P illegal.

        1. nippersdad

          Illegal in the sense that it was only pushed post facto to make the Yugoslavia invasion legal, or that it is not now accepted law?

          I often miss such distinctions. Like when conservatives sneer about neoliberalism as though it did not come out of the Chicago School of economics and represent Reaganomics in its’ purest form. There is just never a “true Scotsman” in the room with some of these people when they need them.

          1. tevhatch

            As an illegal concept, no matter who pushed it or when, i.e.: the USA committed criminal acts while exerting unilateral R2P.

    2. pjay

      Yes. My reaction as well. The rest of the article was good, and it appeared in Common Dreams – a “progressive” site that, like most, has had its share of “humanitarian” enablers of imperial intervention. Perhaps that’s the reason for the obligatory “Putin shouldn’t have invaded, but…” I realize the problems of “letting the perfect be the enemy of the good,” but here are Sachs’ exact words:

      “Recognizing that the war was provoked helps us to understand how to stop it. It doesn’t justify Russia’s invasion. A far better approach for Russia might have been to step up diplomacy with Europe and with the non-Western world to explain and oppose U.S. militarism and unilateralism. In fact, the relentless U.S. push to expand NATO is widely opposed throughout the world, so Russian diplomacy rather than war would likely have been effective.”

      As you say, no mention of Minsk. No mention of the fact that Zelensky, Merkel, and Hollande all basically admitted that the Minsk process was a stalling tactic until Ukraine could beef up its military sufficiently.

      The other day Ray McGovern published an article titled ‘Did Putin Have ‘Other Options’ on Ukraine?’ in response to just this sort of obligatory comment. He conclusion was that, from Russia’s perspective, he did not. He asks what *could* Russia have done that they did not try to do? I tend to agree with him.

      1. vao

        No mention of the fact that Zelensky, Merkel, and Hollande all basically admitted that the Minsk process was a stalling tactic until Ukraine could beef up its military sufficiently.

        Actually it was Poroshenko (Zelensky’s predecessor) who first spilled the beans on the Minsk agreement.

        1. Polar Socialist

          Oleksiy Arestovych (Zelensky’s advisor of some kind) stated early in the war that it was obvious to “everyone” that Ukraine would have to fight a war with Russia to get NATO membership.

          I may refer to wrong person at the top, but I believe it was Vasyl Malyuk, current head of SBU, who recently said he knew Ukraine was ready for war in January 2023, when he heard schoolboys singing about killing “moscals”.

    3. artemis

      When I get into political discussions with friends and family I am amazed how lacking in historical background their views are particularly on Ukraine (Zelensky is a hero, Russians bloodthirsty imperialists) and I would love to be able to give a reference to a good backgrounding article with some history. Would anyone like to point toward one that provides a good framework for the uninformed? Right now I just have a couple from Sachs that are only sort of okay.

      1. pjay

        Sachs cites a very good overview from Geoffrey Roberts, a well-respected British historian with expertise on Russia. It’s long, but informative. There are a number of good ones (some also cited by Sachs), but given Roberts’ background it would be hard to label him a mere Russia apologist or “Putin puppet.”

        This one’s pretty good too, with perhaps a longer historical trajectory:

    4. Questa Nota

      Bush the Elder wasn’t going to advance inch toward the former USSR border.
      Maybe Sachs can take up the cause by pledging not to advance toward a microphone or keyboard.

      Who is left on earth to assert that the war in Ukraine wasn’t provoked? Do they get a book deal?

  9. The Rev Kev

    “Driver who crashed at White House said he wanted to kill Biden, ‘seize power,’ officials say”

    That guy would have put the wind up the White House security teams. What if that truck had been loaded up with explosives like the one that was detonated on the Kersh Bridge? You would have to wonder as you approached that truck. Fortunately it was found that the driver was just some young idiot who loves Nazis so they just fined him and then gave him a lift to the Azov recruitment center in the Ukrainian Embassy as it was only a mile away.

    1. Sardonia

      If they sent him to the Azov recruitment center, will he be used as a War Bride?

      1. ambrit

        According to Tom of Finland, (who should have known,) that is Tradition in the hard core National Socialist ‘enforcement’ brigades.
        A lot of the Azov types do seem to have consulted Tom’s style catalogues in their sartorial choices.
        Stay safe sweet cheeks! *giggle*

    2. flora

      This story stinks to high heaven. So… young guy just happens to have a nearly new looking nazi flag in his truck? Which the police just happen to find and lay out on the ground for all the photographers to get a picture of. And we’re told in breathless reporting he was a terrible, very bad, no goodnik? And he made terrible, very bad, no goodnik statements? Officials say. (Would they lie to you?)

      Well, it does bolster B’s claim the US is filled, just filled I tell ya!, with those very bad no goodniks.

      I’m skeptical. / ;)

      1. griffen

        He sounded very foolish in the statements I read. And really, driving a Uhaul through the barricaded fences surrounding the White House. That only works in the movies, champ (\sarc)!

        Instead of Mad Max, sounding a little more like Impotent Max.

        1. flora

          I discount any early reports of what officials say he said. (Or what officials say any criminal suspect supposedly said.) Need proof, and all that. / ;)

          I guess this incident and reporting at this point reminds me of the 2013 case of Miriam Carey. I need more information. ymmv.

          Guy might be a no goodnik. Or he might have made a wrong turn and panicked. Need more information and proof.

      2. nippersdad

        You really shouldn’t harsh Hillary Clinton and Victoria Nulands’ buzz.

        They were baking cookies for him.

          1. nippersdad

            And their little slave, Huma Abedin, too!

            Their girls’ nights out must be fun! Baking cookies for Nazi’s; check! Playing Poke Mon; check! Drinking chardonnay in the woods; check! Looking through Hillary’s purse for hot sauce, not finding any and then sending Huma out to get some from their abuela so that they can check her former husbands’ social media for dubious pictures of body parts….

            It is just all so wholesome!

            1. ambrit

              Man. I’m so glad that “Her” lost to the talking Orange Haired Monster. Imagine a country filled with ‘League of Hillary Girls’ organizations. And what’s with the phallic designs all over their merch?
              (I am ashamed to admit that I originally thought that their repeated references to “pokies” was a call back to Pokemon. Silly me.)

              1. nippersdad

                Well, they are “nasty women”. They even had a T-Shirt printed up so that no one would forget it. :)

                1. ambrit

                  “Oh! Oh! That’s a monster!”
                  I really need to obtain two of those t-shirts to send to my PMC sisters.
                  Be eternally vigilant and safe.

              2. nippersdad

                This might amuse you: “Everyone laughs until they see the red spots on their foreheads.”


                When talking about DNC primary rigging, some guy on a panel at Fox News actually told Tulsi Gabbard that “at least they let you live.” The shade of Seth Rich lives.

                1. ambrit

                  Oh yes. You do need alternate sources of information to at the least find out that there is a difference of opinion about issues. The preferred “narrative” is, of course, that Rightthink is the only game in town.
                  TINA is the most pernicious doctrine to come along since the Bearded One proposed his ‘Alternate History of the World.’
                  As always, stay safe. (I find myself as almost the only masker in the public places I visit now. A Fool’s Paradise indeed.)

      3. Katniss Everdeen

        He allegedly said he “admires their ‘authoritarian nature, Eugenics, and their one world order,'” the document states, adding that Kandula identified Hitler as a “strong leader” he admires.

        OK. Must have ’em some crackerjack history teachers over there in Chesterfield, MO.

        Big discussion on Rising the other day on whether non-whites could be “nazis” and, sad to say, Briahna Joy Gray championed the swastika–tatoos, flags, apparel–as the surrogate endpoint of nazi disease.

        Gotta wonder how thrilled Adolph would be to see his philosophy’s embrace of the 21st century credo of diversity, equity and “inclusion.” Something tells me not so much, but there is a narrative to be serviced.

        1. Michaelmas

          KE: …sad to say, Briahna Joy Gray championed the swastika–tatoos, flags, apparel–as the surrogate endpoint of nazi disease.

          To be fair, Hitler fancied himself as an artist and the Nazis very purposefully applied great effort to the business of constructing a total aesthetic ….

          ‘Dressing the Reich: The Fear and Elegance in Nazi Uniforms’

          Germany was a nation both clad and obsessed with the uniform. Brian L. Davis, a uniform historian describes 240 different uniforms from the time of the Third Reich era. From coal miners, to Post Office employees, all the way up the Nazi hierarchy to Adolf Hitler himself, every man in the Reich had a uniform, in an “appeal to male vanity.” Bernhard Teicher, in his memoir, writes of his time as a young soldier in Nazi Germany, “Of course, we were issued uniforms (ideally everybody in the Nazi Reich should have worn a uniform!).” The Nazi Party’s desire for uniformity of thought and support extended directly to the propagandistic powers of the clothes that bore the Nazi insignia on the backs the German citizenry.

          1. hk

            Given this obsession, it is ironic that the last group of “soldiers” that the Germans raised during World War 2–the volksturm–did not have proper uniforms beyond armbands!

          2. LifelongLib

            “Hitler fancied himself as an artist”

            A few of his paintings survive. I haven’t looked at them in a long time but IIRC they weren’t horrible. I have to wonder how history would be different if he’d gotten into that art school. A little more bad art would have been a small price…

          3. griffen

            There is a fairly good episode of Justified, where the supposed murder victim was a collector of such paintings by a young Hitler (spoiler alert, later the paintings are determined to be fake). Said murder victim had a hot smoking blonde as his young bride.

            Season 1, I believe, I had just started tuning into that show by then.

        2. Henry Moon Pie

          Chesterfield is an affluent exurb of St. Louis, just past ritzy Town and Country and Creve Coeur.

      4. Questa Nota

        But where was his passport? /s

        Bet there will be evidence of some psychoactive substances or prescription meds appearing soon.
        Another wind-up life ruined. :/

      1. flora

        Yep. That’s been reported. Where did it go? Did it leak out of the rr car all along the rail track, creating a soon green and verdant foliage growth along said track? It’s a crop fertilizer. Was it ever loaded? Very puzzling. I don’t know how you’d steal a rr car.

        1. ambrit

          It can be done. The next step is to search for “missing” tanker trucks of diesel fuel. Mix the two together to form an industrial explosive. It’s what the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City was blown up with. People have been using it for various ‘legitimate’ explosive uses on the farm and at mines for a hundred years.
          Oklahoma City bombing:
          The Mr. Cynical in me wonders if there will be, or already is, a program to actually spread nitrogen fetilizer along the track route that the “missing” tank car(s) travelled to ‘create’ the needed “evidence” to support the ‘spill’ narrative. Check for sudden, previously unscheduled “weed spraying” along those sections of track. Substitute “fertilizer” for “weed killer” in your spray tanks and your ‘spill’ narrative is legitimized.
          It is a sad commentary on the state of our society that such ultra-cynicism is looking more and more accurate as an explanation for events.

  10. Stephen

    “Obama promised the average would save $2,500 a year in premiums with the ACA.

    Let’s do the numbers. In 2009 health costs for a family of four was $16,771 a year. Last year it was $30,260. That’s $13,500 a year, every year, of added cost for a family.”

    Wow. A genuine question from a non American (and I am not claiming any optimality for the UK system that I live under) but I am fascinated as to how anyone in any form of normal job can afford these amounts of money. Even if there is tax relief.

    I am reasonably aware of the social insurance premiums typically paid for healthcare in much of Europe and it is nothing like this.

    I do recall in the partnership that I used to be part of that US colleagues would not retire early even though that sometimes made sense to do. The only way to get them to do so was to introduce a retirement healthcare plan for early retirees. Maybe these numbers help to explain why,

    Would be great if any informed people can comment.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      i only know about actually having a private/employer health insurance plan from wife’s brief, disasterous experience when a bit of life insurance after my dad died made her ineligible for the medicaid/medicare.
      even though Cancer apparently is in a special category(certainly is with medicaid/medicare), it was a confusing morass…and the Premiums(that are, in theory) subsidised, are nothing…the real problem is the co-pays and deductables…as well as the chaotic “in network” BS and approvals for everything.
      the latter really is a proverbial Death Panel.
      to get back on government insurance, we had to blow through that windfall money…indeed, her medicaid person encouraged us to go on an expensive vacation and other iterations of “hookers and blow” irresponsibility…but we needed that money in the interim to maintain her treatment(a single chemo treatment approached $5k at the time)
      my PMC brother, making almost $200k, gloats about his healthcare plan…but his family has not had anything really wrong with them, thus far….
      my wife’s colleagues at the school who do take advantage of the employer plans all have relatively well off husbands to take up the slack….and many of them put off retirement for the sole purpose of keeping those plans until they’re both old enough for medicare.
      otherwise, i have no idea how so many people manage to maintain private healthcare coverage.
      since i inherited 5 acres of salt marsh, i’m too asset heavy for all the poor people stuff…so my healthcare plan will remain “dont get sick/hurt”…and just muddle through with whatevers already wrong with me.
      just one more datapoint pointing to the unsustainability of living in USA for the non-filthy rich.
      there’s a threshold out there somewhere, beyond which none of it will work any more…and that’s where it will get interesting.

      1. upstater

        A good friend is retired UAW. 3 years ago his 58 yo wife (on UAW family benefit) was diagnosed with stage 3 lung and bone cancer. Diagnosis was missed 8 months before. She received treatment at Roswell Park Cancer Center in Buffalo. They have had no significant out of pocket costs. Each treatment had a sticker price of $30k, every 6 weeks for 2 years. Many hundreds of thousands have been paid out. A few tumors remain, but have been radically reduced. Her quality of life is excellent.

        So some people do have good insurance. Just don’t ask me about my Obamacare experiences (unbelievably bad and very high cost, with high out of pocket) !

    2. Bob

      High premiums, high deductibles and poor reimbursement for care. No one wants it but Obama. They can’t admit it was a disaster.

    3. Lex

      I believe that my premiums cost ~$12,000/year. My employer pays 75%. However, essentially nothing is covered until a pay ~$5,000 out of pocket. For individuals medical expenses aren’t tax deductible until they’re 13% (IIRC) of gross income. With my wife’s autoimmune disease we bump up against that most years even with her six figure salary, and she has much better insurance than me.

      But it’s great for GDP numbers!

    4. earthling

      Obamacare is set up so if you are low-income you may have very low premiums, and the very poor get no-cost Medicaid coverage. For everybody else, premiums are high and you still may have very high deductibles and ‘out-of-pocket’ expenses if anything happens. So you tend to avoid medical care whenever possible. You also can now opt out, or ‘go bare’ since Trump did away with the heinous penalty for not paying your premiums/taxes to an insurance company every year.

      When costs do arise, people pay what they can, and take on debt, refinance homes, etc. A large number of personal bankruptcies now are “medical bankruptcies”.

      1. tegnost

        For everybody else, premiums are high

        I don’t think thats quite accurate, I have several wealthy acquaintances and they love love love them some ocare…it slashed their costs by lading them into the high deductible plans foisted on the middle/not quite middle, all the while boosting their biotech/medical industry stocks to the moon. I also know some who made a big pile in tech and now only claim some interest income so they get heavily subsidised gold plans. Great country if you’re rich, for the rest of us, not so much…oh, but undocumented gets free care in cali…so no burden on the slave workforce of the mighty socialists running this sh!t$how…I’m with amfortas in that I am insured by B.Carful…

      2. IM Doc

        What is your definition of “low-income”?

        I have patients who are waiters, bartenders, etc. making at most 40K/year – barely making it as it is – and have 10-12K deductibles. Therefore, they have “access” to health care, but actually do not have health care when the time comes.

        One of my young male patients had an appendicitis issue a month ago – and had surgery and an overnight stay. The total bill was about 48K ( outrageous and evil in and of itself) and his share is 15K. He works 1 fulltime and 2 part time jobs to make ends meet. That family does not have the money to pay this bill – so he and his family are going to have his entire credit wrecked in bankruptcy. This has huge affects on future apartment rental and where those kids end up in school. This happens over and over and over again.

        Say what you will about Obamacare. It is an absolute disaster for the American middle class. It is failing in every conceivable way. It seems to produce more bankruptcy in this country than good healthy outcomes – despite the claptrap spewing forth from DC. Maybe that was the design all along.

        I absolutely give anyone the side eye who says that anything good is coming of this system. They have not a clue what they are talking about. They are spouting tribal talking points. The fun fact is 100% of the politicians I personally know and have discussed this with know the complete fiasco it is but do not feel they can discuss it publicly.

        1. ambrit

          Our definition of “low income” is living on two Social Security cheques a month. Phyl’s cheque was bumped up to be roughly two thirds of my account a year ago. Let’s just say that last year’s combined income came in at under 25K. If we hadn’t agreed to buy a beat up old house in a poorer part of the country for cash, we would be up against it. We couldn’t afford the rents. Despite this being a poorer part of the country, the rents here are tracking at the lower edge of the national trend.
          Don’t even get me started on so called “subsidized housing” around here. As an example, the local Public Housing apartment complex is also the main “Recreational Pharmaceutical Private Enterprise Zone” fulfillment centre for the area.
          “Panum et circenses” has now become “Drugs and Social Media.”
          Stay safe. Keep the family close.

            1. ambrit

              Does your boat leak like a sieve too? /sarc
              It’s definitely not what we were taught to expect when we were young, was it. I tried to “play by the rules” and ended up here. I have noticed that all of the relatives and locals who tell us how we are living way above the World average standard of living, so stop complaining, have a lot more money than we do. The poorer people we deal with generally understand the dynamics of poverty.
              The old saying that “Poverty teaches character.” is a crock of s—. From our experiences, what poverty does is bring out previously developed character as a coping mechanism. For many people, poverty exposes their complete lack of character. Even the most “holy” and ‘sainted’ of people will lie, cheat, and steal if it feeds their family.
              There, I said it.
              Stay safe and the best of good luck in navigating the terrors of our supposedly “new and improved” neo-liberal paradise.

    5. still apposite

      Obamacare: A Deception (Paul Craig Roberts – February 3, 2013)

      The article below is the most comprehensive analysis available of “Obamacare” – the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The author, a knowledgeable person who wishes to remain anonymous, explains how Obamacare works for the insurance companies but not for you.

      Obamacare was formulated on the concept of health care as a commercial commodity and was cloaked in ideological slogans such as “shared responsibility,” “no free riders” and “ownership society.” These slogans dress the insurance industry’s raid on public resources in the cloak of a “free market” health care system.

      You will learn how to purchase a subsidized plan at the Exchange, what will happen when income and family circumstances change during the year or from one year to the next, and other perils brought to you by Obamacare.

      It is one of the most important articles that will be posted on my website this year. Americans will be shocked to learn the extent to which they have been deceived. The legislation neither protects the patient nor are the plans affordable.

      1. Mildred Montana

        I knew ACA was a crock from the very beginning. Prior to its promulgation stock prices of health-insurance companies were soaring. No need to know, read, or learn anything else.

        For that matter, I also knew the Republicans under Trump would never repeal it, despite much blustering. They didn’t of course.

    6. Bosko

      I’m curious about those numbers… Since it’s Stoller, I assume there’s something behind them, but I wonder if the pre-Obamacare numbers are artificially low, due to people NOT buying the health care they need due to the expense.

      But it’s clear that Obamacare is a disaster. Closer to the Obama years, one would hear people saying ‘at least he got us health care,’ but no one ever says that anymore. I have known very few people who have actually bought health care through the exchanges, due to the cost–two families that I can think of. I myself went without health insurance for 10-15 years, after college, and from my mid to late 30s, I’ve had insurance through work, spouse’s work, etc.

      Obama’s piddling advances seem more trivial the more time that passes.

      1. Pat

        Just a couple of items about this.
        First ACA aka Obamacare was designed from the beginning to be a save the industry windfall for insurance companies. Both employer and individual insurance buyers were dropping out due to costs. This was meant to stop that, not make anything affordable. Because they needed to lock people in, the first years were based on what the numbers were before it and included insurance guarantees from the government so there did appear to be some cost reduction for people buying it, employer based also. They also broadened the subsidies available. The ever increasing fines were meant to keep people tied to increasingly unaffordable and useless insurance. You will no longer get individuals buying insurance to say it is affordable in my experience.

        Other things you have to understand are that The rules were also loosened on employer based insurance. This allowed for more “cost sharing” to be passed to the employees. The insurance business saving aspect was requiring businesses of a certain size to purchase insurance. But the government provided an excuse for more and more cost sharing – the Cadillac tax, a rather large penalty for buying too much insurance based on cost not services. So most businesses now provide crap policies with high deductibles and large co-pays and or percentage of cost payments so that they stay under the Cadillac tax limit. This also gives them the talking point that they are doing the best they can, even as this give them huge tax breaks. Also Insurance companies that were required in some states to meet a reasonable medical loss ratio got an even higher percentage of operating costs under ACA, and their lobbyists made sure that many items that are administrative not medical are part of the medical percentage. Something that allows for more gaming of that system. You also have to realize that almost every rule in the policies this law was based on (the Swiss health care system, Dole Care, and even Romneycare) that constrained costs and premium increases were eradicated from the ACA. So costs have skyrocketed, admittedly this was not helped by private equity figuring out the insurance companies now had a license to steal and buying hospitals and medical practices. IOW they demanded their share, so even for those paying cash medical costs are outrageous. But if you have to pay 50% of the cost after a deductible of several thousand dollars, you end up with a situation like IM Doc mentions above, except I will add that even a supposedly good job would find someone struggling to pay almost $50,000 for a hospital bill.

        Next those private equity owned hospitals have increased pressure on the non profit and publicly owned hospitals by doing their best to make sure that any body who might have problem with cost go to anybody but them. This has led to a huge loss of healthcare facilities that didn’t have a fancy lobby surcharge.

        I could go on, but yes those numbers are real, both for employer and individual based insurance. As with everything else in the system it is not affordable because a whole lot of people who provide no healthcare demand huge profits because they own a large portion of a business that does. It is a brutal and sadistic system and we cannot get our government to correct it.

        1. Katniss Everdeen

          If you were to ask an american to describe the u.s. “healthcare” system, they would most likely tell you that it is a system in which employers provide insurance to their employees and their families that pays the doctor bills.

          The government has done everything it can to maintain the fiction that it’s any kind of system at all. It’s taken the sickest patients–old, poor, veterans–off the industry’s plate and left them only the healthiest. It’s provided tax deductions for employer premiums, ignored the avalanche of personal bankruptcies and accepted the shittiest “healthcare” outcomes in the developed world, all while justifying the highest prices on the planet.

          obamacare was the latest bailout, with the government agreeing to just pay the insurance companies directly, “cleverly” couched as “subsidies” to the individual policy purchaser (obama is so good to us), but actually a direct transfer of taxpayer money to a private, for-profit business that continues to price itself out of its own market to satisfy wall street.

          god only knows what they’ll come up with next to save this “industry” that can never get enough. It’s the “healthcare” equivalent of the F-35 or zelensky / ukraine–a bottomless pit.

    7. Howard

      “fascinated as to how anyone in any form of normal job can afford these amounts of money.”

      The short answer is, they can’t.

      US is the only country afaik where medical bankruptcy is a thing. I was once at a nationwide meeting of mobile home park tenants’ associations and the focus was on health care, especially in-home caregivers. It came out that one of the main opponents of universal health care in the US is — the finance/real estate industries. One of the main ways they get ahold of properties for cheap is when people default on their mortgages because of a catastrophic health event.

      I actually started out supporting Obama in 2008, even voted/caucused for him in the primary. Then I heard about his health insurance proposal (“Obamacare”) and also heard his statements about continuing the Afghan war. Ended up voting Green as usual.

    8. chris

      From our family’s experience, it works like this:

      (1) you have a job with benefits and those benefits cover things to the point where you are never exposed to the full cost of things unless you try to use your insurance. Then you do everything you can to never need to use your insurance.

      (2) you have a job with some kind of benefits package but you’re fully exposed to how much everything costs. You try to never use your insurance and you look for opportunities so that one of you gets a job that puts you in case (1).

      We’ve been very lucky over a long period of time. We have good insurance options. We have the fortune of positions where insurance us one more thing employers use to attract and retain us. This is not the struggle it was for our family 19 years ago. But for so many others we know it is much worse. I can understand how someone from Europe or the UK would look at what things cost in horror and theb recoil at what poor service such fees provide.

    9. Questa Nota

      If you like the truth, you can keep the truth.
      Oh, wait, that isn’t what he said, was it?

      Saint Obama has yet to get his full reckoning, although that day approacheth.
      Guess he thought those promises and campaign funds and backroom and off-the-books deals were all worth it. Was he taking cues from Madeleine Albright?

      In the meantime, patients move from one lousy system through another, and pay more in cash and time for the privilege. Pharma seems to have done okay, and Big Health Insurance, too. Why aren’t they ever on the crapification end of things? Oh, yeah, I forgot.

    10. Janie

      Obamacare just reshuffled the same deck. 20 years ago I knew someone who had several toes amputated from diabetes damage. Total hospital bill was $100,000 of which he would owe a mere 20% due to his wonderful employer-sponsored healthcare. He said he would be making payments the rest of his life, and he did. 30 years ago when I was hired to manage a department, the business owner told me that one person under my supervision was completely incompetent but was there because she was working for the first time ever after her husband of 40 years had died from cancer and she had enormous medical bills to pay off despite having insurance; she lost her house and was living in an apartment in a complex or sister owned. Someone at the bridge club was anguishing over the co-pays and what have you after her husband died; she said the debt was around $500,000. I have more stories, Stephen; you probably don’t want to hear them.

  11. Henry Moon Pie


    From the article:

    Most of us are also risk averse, and so will seek meaning from culturally established, socially accepted, reliable sources. “Bringing home a paycheck” ticks all those boxes. It may not be ideal, but at least it is something.

    From Jackson Browne’s “Your Bright Baby Blues” on The Pretender album (1976)

    I’m sitting down by the highway,
    Down by that highway side.
    Everybody’s going somewhere,
    Riding just as fast as they can ride.

    I guess they’ve got a lot to do
    Before they can rest assured
    Their lives are justified.

    Pray to God for me, baby.
    He can let me slide.

    My favorite JB song live

    While we’ve been busy justifying our lives these past 50 years, we’ve been spewing carbon into the air with all our justifying and consuming. Maybe it’s time to get off the highway for a while?

    1. Henry Moon Pie

      Just to note, the article really is excellent with lots of quotes from Erich Fromm’s The Sane Society and elsewhere and shout-outs to David Graeber and others.

      Finally, Lao-Tzu’s take on the rat race as it used to be called:

      Racing, chasing, hunting
      drives people crazy.
      Trying to get rich
      ties people in knots.

      Tao te Ching #12 (Le Guin rendition)

      And on consumerism:

      The greatest evil: wanting more.
      The worst luck: discontent.

      To know enough is enough
      is enough to know.

      Tao te Ching #46 (Le Guin rendition)

      And finally, Lao-Tzu on travel as we hear that airlines expect record travel this summer:

      You don’t have to go out the door
      to know what goes on in the world.
      You don’t have to look out the window
      to see the way of heaven.
      The further you go,
      the less you know.

      Tao te Ching #47 (Le Guin rendition)

      It’s time to jump off the hamster wheel.

      1. Mildred Montana

        >”To know enough is enough
        is enough to know.”

        The novelist Somerset Maugham put it succinctly: “Enough is a feast.”

  12. Lexx

    Cocoa planting is destroying protected forests in west Africa, study finds

    ‘The world’s hunger for chocolate is a major cause of the destruction of protected forests in west Africa, scientists have said.’

    I grow a little tired of journalists framing every subject in human need, instead of want. The world isn’t hungry for chocolate, any more than the Western U.S. is thirsty (it’s dry here and living things need water… but The West is mostly uninhabited). If markets were driven by human need alone they’d be minuscule today, compared to the monsters they’ve become. Yes, there are 8 billion of us and there is real need (cocoa farmers need an income), but the hunger at work in this article, like so many in the Guardian, is corporate and they need profits (or stockholders and markets will have their revenge). Humans can live without chocolate; should we decide to forego it or something happens to those crops, it’s Cadbury executives that would grow desperate… and maybe The Guardian.

    Later in the article, the journalist refers to chocolate as an ‘indulgent snack’. So, it’s just a want after all?

    1. Questa Nota

      Bill Gates is just the latest in Names to be tainted by proximity to, well, a lot of bad behaviors and people. Critical mass event soon?
      The stories about J. Edgar Hoover on the receiving end of blackmail ring a little more loudly now.
      Who wasn’t or isn’t being blackmailed in DC? Or among business elites?

      Foreign and domestic policy by balance of terror, popular since time immemorial.

      Exposure as the next step in some ritual cleansing can’t come soon enough.

  13. square coats

    u.s. intelligence building systems to track mass movement of people around the world…

    “Sensors are cheap. Everyobodys got one. There’s no such thing as living off the grid.”

    What does that even mean? Is it supposed to sound like it *could* mean that everyone has sensors implanted into them? Like trying to fan the flames of paranoia for the paranoia-inclined or something?

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Give how well the sensors in my car work, I think they are overrated. And can’t you fry them with a strong enough magnet?

      1. t

        Big, if true. They don’t do what they’re supposed to do and what they’re supposed to do is stupid.

        I’d only all these self-driving and driver-assist cars punished people for tailgaiting and crossing three lanes for a missed exit, swerving it on occupied lanes… perhaps if you have too many demerits, one day your car won’t start for three days and calls you a cab instead.

        1. nippersdad

          “They don’t do what they’re supposed to do and what they’re supposed to do is stupid.”

          I can relate. Hyundai thought it was a really good idea to have this sensor to tell us whether the gas tank access door is open or not, and this thing never works properly. Unfortunately the symbol they attached it to was the engine light. So the good news is that when the light goes on and I pull over to the side of the highway to check the little gas door, I will be about as far away from the engine when it explodes as it is possible to be.

          That was very thoughtful of them.

          1. Bart Hansen

            With my 2009 Sonata each Fall when the temperature first drops past 40 F degrees the dash light that warns about low tire pressure comes on.

            When I take it to the shop each February for routine maintenance they always have to turn it off.

      2. Amfortas the hippie

        when they started putting chips and strips on drivers lic., i started keeping my wallet in the door pocket next to a speaker…and playing country bunkin luddite when it wouldn’t scan and had to be manually inputted.
        as for the car sensors…1. living down a dirt road means my ABS light is literally always on…so inspection time, the mechanic knows to gloss over that part of the inspection process.
        and 2. once had a 3$ sensor deep in the dashboard lead to “totalling” the car…as in gave it away for scrap, because it would be too expensive to pay my guy to tear apart the entire dash/front of car to replace it.
        oh, and tape over the laptop camera, etc.
        hypercomplexity is an indicator of either graft grift and corruption…or incompetence leading to decline and fall.
        like Jethro Gibbs holding up a pencil when his minions’ devices wouldn’t work for taking notes.

        1. Henry Moon Pie

          Why I Am not Going To Buy A Computer

          I just bought a new gas can. The spout “lock” on the new can is a design I haven’t seen before. I couldn’t figure out how it was supposed to work, so I checked out Youtube. The advice on the video there was to chuck the new spout and replace it with an old one. Crapification continues apace.

          1. Amfortas the hippie

            a year or so ago, mom saw something on Kos(!) that made her suddenly worried about gasoline prices…sent me to obtain several new gas cans and fill them.
            so i went to wally whirled, then to the cheap gas store…and the t nozzle kept turning itself off. turns out each new can had some kind of plastic basket down inside of it…why, i have no clue.
            so out comes the big skinny crow bar and i jam those baskets down and into the cans…otherwise it would have taken forever to fill them.
            and the fancy spout things,lol…i throw those away. use whatever jar lid that fits.
            its like the people who design this stuff never leave their cubicle.

          2. Bart Hansen

            Maybe you have a Tractor Supply nearby. They sell the old goose neck type of replacement spout.

        2. ambrit

          I remember noticing with glee that the German engineer who is the “savoir” of the crashed group in “Flight of the Phoenix” (played by Hardy Kruger,) does all his calculations with a slide rule. No whiz bang electronica for these hardy pioneers!
          I think that the eternally ‘present’ surveillance items hinted at by the original item would be cell phones. Almost everyone carries them around continuously now. The youth of today seem to be addicted to them. I am one of those much maligned ‘deplorables’ that leave my cell phone at home, in one spot, like a Neo-desk phone. As I tell the strangers who question my sanity whenever I assert my freedom from continuous surveillance by so leaving the ‘Infernal Device’ at home: “If they really want to find me, they can send out the hounds.”
          Stay safe.

      3. Acacia

        What does that even mean?

        Your cellphone, for one, which is tracking you by default. Next, many new cars actually have a dedicated cell phone transceiver with GPS. After a friend returned his leased car to the dealer, he discovered that neither they nor the new owner even bothered to reset the password to the virtual dashboard, and he was able to track the new owners every trip, and finally the dealership to which the car was eventually returned, two years later.

    2. flora

      us intelligence building systems….

      an aside: for some reason this reminded me of last week’s Taibbi and Kirn’s America This Week second half of the show where they discuss the book Catch-22, and the character of Captain Black. The public excerpt of the show doesn’t include the discussion, so I leave this litcharts synopsis link to the Captain Black chapter of Catch-22. Time to reread Catch-22, a satire of bureaucracies. / ;)

      Catch-22: Chapter 11

  14. Mikel

    “Bill Gates Says AI Could Kill Google Search and Amazon As We Know Them” CNBC

    It’s like a Snuggie for the brain.

    If SillyCon Valley had wheelchairs to market, we’d all be wheeling around and calling anybody a luddite who didn’t adapt.
    They have nailed marketing wonderous products and services for the handicapped to the masses.

    1. Jason Boxman

      Working link for Gates’:

      The technology will be so profound, it could radically alter user behaviors. “Whoever wins the personal agent, that’s the big thing, because you will never go to a search site again, you will never go to a productivity site, you’ll never go to Amazon
      again,” he said.

      This yet-to-be developed AI assistant will be able to understand a person’s needs and habits and will help them “read the stuff you don’t have time to read,” Gates said Monday during a Goldman Sachs and SV Angel event in San Francisco on the topic of artificial intelligence.

      Gates said there is a 50-50 chance that this future AI winner will be either a startup or a tech giant.

      Star Trek, coming to a PC near you and sponsored by… Microsoft!

      This does conveniently solve the crapified search problem, by simply killing search.

      It also completely eliminates any Wrong-Think, because these systems will quite likely only return approved content, such as we’ve seen from the Twitter files, but done more effectively.

      1. flora

        Jimmy Dore. utube. UN and Google team up rig search results. Forget the specific topic, it’s the rigging of topic search results that’s important. (I think we already knew Google’s search results are cr*p in terms of useful information results. / ;)

        Google Is RIGGING Search Results For “Climate Change”

          1. flora

            It sounds like he wants unfiddled with results at the top, not narrative approved results. By that standard it’s doubtful Heartland Inst. results would come at the top of a search unless you searched for that specific entry. ymmv. I remember when the goog was a pretty good search engine, unlike what it’s become. / ;)

            1. Henry Moon Pie

              What should Google or any other search engine do about PragerU, another climate denial outfit, whose website appeared when I put “is climate change real” in the search box? Here’s what’s really behind PragerU:

              The organization depends on donations to produce its content.[26] Much of PragerU’s early funding came from hydraulic fracturing billionaires Dan and Farris Wilks.[10][4][8] Two members of the Wilks family sit on PragerU’s board.[4] The next-largest donor is the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation.[5][27] Other donors include the Morgan Family Foundation, Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund, Donors Trust, the late Republican megadonor Sheldon Adelson,[28] Lee Roy Mitchell,[28] and the Minnesota-based Sid and Carol Verdoorn Foundation, led by former C.H. Robinson CEO Sid Verdoorn.[27]

              A rogues’ gallery there. Big Oil has known about climate change for decades and knowingly funded lies denying its reality. As that’s becoming ludicrous, now comes along the reverse conspiracy that it’s really the scientists studying climate change who are the iiars trying to take away our freedom to waste and pollute.

              Google is not censoring a sham “institute” like PragerU. They don’t even seem to be de-ranking it. Should there be some disincentive for the billionaires to create these “institutes” full of paid liars whose job it is to purposely mislead us to our detriment? It’s not like the Heartland Institute or PragerU are some guy with a “Ban the Bomb” sign in the middle of Boston Common. These people, among the most powerful in our country, plot and scheme and spend lots of money to keep us from demanding government policies that address real problems.

              1. flora

                Well, I agree with you about Prager-U. I also know Goog ranks its first search results according to its “business relationships”. Does Goog have a business relationship with Prager-U? Goog certainly wants to keep on good terms with the WEF and the Davos crowd. That’s my point. The search results it presents are…. lets just say finding NC articles with a goog search might turn up on the 6th or 7th page of the goog output if at all. / ;)

              2. Katniss Everdeen

                Should there be some disincentive for the billionaires to create these “institutes” full of paid liars whose job it is to purposely mislead us to our detriment? It’s not like the Heartland Institute or PragerU are some guy with a “Ban the Bomb” sign in the middle of Boston Common.

                Yes, there should. They should get gone, and they should take “think tanks” like the atlantic council, cfr and brookings institution, and “charitable organizations” like the bill and melinda gates and george soros foundations with them.

      2. Duke of Prunes

        TikTok is already killing Google search… hence, SillyCon introduces the next “big thing”: ChatGTP.

        Maybe its the new iPhone, maybe it’s 3D TV. Time will tell, but Gates is almost as bad as Boo-Yah! Jim Cramer when it comes to predictions.

  15. The Rev Kev

    ‘The Alpine Ibex (a herbivore) lacks salt and other essential minerals in their diet which they can’t get from grass. So the Ibex has to seek out natural salt licks. In springtime, when salt requirements are the highest, the Ibex can be seen licking rock surfaces or dam walls for leached salts.’

    The f***? How? How? I kept on expecting to see one of them slip and slide down that dam wall to their deaths. I have to admit that I got a bit nervous watching them so far high up that dam wall and normally videos like that do not rattle me. And one has its kid there as well showing them the ropes? Yeah, as they say, nature is metal-

    1. Joe Well

      Are the ibexes (ibices?) making the little footholds in the dam? I was surprised to see those. I would have thought the surface would be completely smooth.

      1. Ignacio

        Ibices is indeed the plural of ibex in Spanish (íbice). The video shows in very good detail their hoofs and how these manage to sustain the hole weight of the ibex in each tiny salient. The hoofs are articulated and flexible functioning also as suckers.

    2. nippersdad

      What kind of condition could that dam be in if it is spalling to the degree that it attracts wildlife as a salt lick? I’m not sure I would want to be living downstream when there are herds of Ibex chewing up the dam, and I doubt that features in the local real estate agents’ patter.

      1. Ignacio

        IMO the water there, I guess this is in the alps with lots of chalky rock there, is ‘hard’ water with lots of earth salts dissolved. The salts are first dissolved, or not totally dissolved but transported by the current then deposited very much like stalagmites are formed. All natural! Problem for dishwashers and other appliances when calcium salts are deposited.

        1. nippersdad

          But the crust is on the outside of the dam. Salts coming from the impounded water would imply that the dam is porous and that the salts are not just coming from the natural weathering of the concrete. That just doesn’t seem like a very good idea for dams in general, but for dams that large it should be alarming.

          It isn’t by any chance above Davos, is it?

          1. Joe Well

            Maybe it’s from the occasional spillover? Disclaimer: I know nothing about engineering.

            1. Scylla

              If they used chloride based accelerator in the concrete when the dam was built, the chloride would be working its way out on it’s own over time.

          2. BlakeFelix

            I’m no expert, but I think concrete is often naturally porus to water, so it evaporating off the dry side and leaving its salt seems reasonable to me, although I have no idea about the time frame…

    3. Wukchumni

      Marmot Cong in Mineral King are all about how can we get some salt and emerging from tunnels typically try and slake their salt thirst vis a vis radiator fluid, but there’ve been many times i’ve emerged from slumbering in hammock to do my business when the ‘Cong congregates where my salt outtake lays prostate, hmmmmmm good.

      There are over a thousand known bathtubs sunk in granite in the southern Sierra, with one spectacular grouping of 325 that this study thinks was a Native American saltworks

      This site in the northern Sierra Nevada contains about 369 circular basins carved in fresh, glaciated granodioritic bedrock, with 325 basins crowded together in an area of 2,700  m2 on the main terrace. These terrace basins have a median average diameter of 125 cm (80 percent between 100 and 160cm) and a median depth of 75–80 cm. They show a strong congruity to similar granitic basins in the southern Sierra Nevada apparently of Native American origin that are generally shallower.

    4. jax

      The video of those ibexes is literally breathtaking. That they can look down and remain sanguine teaches me something cosmic, though my heart is still pounding so loudly I can’t quite put that logic into words. Whoo baby!

    5. flora

      Loved that link. “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy. ”

      And the steep dam wall climbing ibex are one of those undreamt of things / ;)

  16. NotTimothyGeithner

    Re: new republic article on the Democrats debt ceiling fiasco

    They quote Timmy Kaine expressing regret over the strategy. When Kaine was governor, he had a “deal” with the GOP to eliminate the estate tax in exchange for transportation funding. Long story short, he predictably received no funding and eliminated the estate tax. Kaine also as DNC chair oversaw the dismantling of the 50 state strategy. Tim Kaine is the greatest enemy of the Democratic Party.

  17. Ghost in the Machine

    ‘I knew aliens were real’: Marine’s footage of mystery objects over military base sparks UFO talk Raw Story

    In 2023, it is still hearsay and fuzzy images and videos. It is 2023, not the 1950s. I want to believe, but this is ridiculous. Always some excuse why the images aren’t good. It is time for a mind blowing video that is clear, shows no signs of fakery or AI, and looks better than the best CGI. Totally mind blowing and unexplainable. Rotating fast moving blobs on obscure military equipment won’t cut it either.

    1. petal

      There’s been talk of a secret experimental plane called the TR-3B Astra. It’s a triangle shape and supposedly behaves in the manner shown in the video.

      1. anahuna

        Reminds me of a long-ago train ride coming back from an interpreting assignment in Poughkeepsie, during.which I listened, drowsy yet electrified, while the Hudson River rolled on outside the window, to the conversation in the seats immediately behind me. Two young men, one whose brother worked in a top-secret air-force weapons development site. He was describing at length the extraordinary capabilities of the flying machines that were being tested at that time (must have been mid or late 90s). Much of what he was describing, in terms of speeds and range of motion, resembled the UFO accounts I was familiar with.

        It was a long and detailed conversation. His tone was marveling yet matter-of-fact, not boastful — that is, he wasn’t trying to impress his friend, just acknowledging what he knew was actually going on.

        I’ve never believed that this accounts for all the observed phenomena, but neither have I forgotten what he said.

      2. Ghost in the Machine

        Yes, I remember hearing that the CIA deliberately stoked alien rumors to cover development of stealth technology. So there is precedent if what I heard was true.

    2. ThirtyOne

      For those with 3 hours to burn:

      Our second week in December ’94 is devoted to the 50 year history of the sightings, themselves, and the possible technologies involved. From that fateful year, 1947, and pilot Kenneth Arnold’s first airborne and widely reported sighting near Mt. Rainier in which he coined the term “flying saucer” (referring to flight characteristics, not the shape which he described as “Horseshoe” or “crescent shaped”), to a very recent, extremely rare tape of a radar operator tracking UFO targets over Michigan while hanging on the phone with 911, you hear the bird’s eye accounts of real people seeing an array of craft and propulsion technology in the same sky we hardly notice every day.

  18. The Rev Kev

    “Triangle-Wheeled Bike Gives New Meaning to ‘Tricycle’”

    ‘Instead, their tires function as treads, propelling the bike forward in a similar fashion to how a military tank functions.’

    Looks like a gimmick to me. Because those tires act as treads, I would guess that they would have more wear and tear acting on them compared to round tires. And they would be expensive too. So it would not be something that you will see on the Tour de France but maybe in the well-heeled parts of Silicon Valley.

    1. Carolinian

      You must have jumped to the “square tire” link. Today’s link:

      by slightly curving each side of the triangular wheels and engineering a pair of articulating (but limiter-equipped) arms allowing the center of each wheel to move up and down, the bike can be ridden without the rider experiencing hardly any up and down movements at all.

      In other words it converts the bike to effectively be the old Penny Farthing giant front wheel bike that was quite dangerous and difficult to ride before the “safety bike.” The reason back then for the giant wheel was that they had no chain or gears. However the larger wheel was perhaps better over really bumpy ground. Better still might be using your feet and some of us regard the late 20th mountain bike craze with considerable skepticism.

      Think these articles and projects are just “made you look.” I have a normal bike with un-reinvented wheels and skinny high pressure one inch tires. On flat pavement it’s practically effortless to pedal. This is the true genius of the bicycle and it happened over a century ago.

      1. The Rev Kev

        If you ever get the time, you should read the 1900 novel “Three Men on the Bummel” by Jerome K. Jerome who was the author of “Three men in a Boat.” It talks about the early days of bicycling in a humorous book as they travel through Germany and you will probably find lots of stuff that may be familiar as a bike rider-

  19. Jason Boxman

    From: The Democrats Have Already Lost the Debt Ceiling Fight

    Six months ago, Democrats were riding high. They had just improbably overperformed in the midterm elections; if it wasn’t for the meltdown of New York’s Democratic Party, they likely would have held onto slim majorities in both chambers of Congress. Their victory in those elections was as much a repudiation of the Republican Party as it was an endorsement of Joe Biden’s first two years—if not more so, given the president’s anemic popularity. Voters were clearly opposed to the GOP’s growing extremism.

    Or it was a vindication of the Democrat strategy of funding hard right Republican candidates in primaries to provide an edge in the general against a less crazy sounding liberal Democrat. And Republicans ran some poor choices for Senate seats as well. It was hardly a resounding affirmation of the Democrat party.

    1. Screwball

      I thought the student debt promise and the R v Wade thing got more from a certain demographic to show up and vote. Of course the promises didn’t quite work out, because reasons… What rabbit are they going to try to pull out of their hat the next election?

      A recent Twitter thread by Glenn Greenwald shows the natives are not too happy?

      Personally, I hope they get pummeled.

      1. nippersdad

        “What rabbit are they going to try to pull out of their hat the next election?”

        In a different story on Politico, White House believes massive Dem bailout may be needed to pass debt ceiling compromise, we have our answer:

        “When asked whether she could deliver the votes for a Biden-approved deal, House Democratic whip Katherine Clark (D-Mass.) said only: “We are going to do everything that we can to make sure the American people understand the lose-lose proposition that Republicans have forced them into.”

        Republicans made us do it…we are too weak…vote haaaarder!…

        Same old same old.

        1. anahuna

          As to other candidates, Current Affairs just published a piece on RFK Jr. An all-out attack, some of it (as Henry Moon Pie and others have reminded us), quite true, and parts exaggerated to the point of relying on Politico and NPR as sources on the dangers of ivermectin. What struck me, though is the tone: Utter panic st the possibility that he might have Popular Appeal. That would make him like Trump, and there’s nothing worse in the minds of these self-styled Progressivrd.

  20. Wukchumni

    There’s a fellow in a cell lying, dying
    And he gets himself up onto one elbow and he turns to his killers
    Who are all gathered around and he says

    Watch me blackmail Gates, mate
    Watch me blackmail Gates, mate
    Bridge players are a dangerous breed, mate
    So watch me approximate
    Altogether now!

    Tie me kangaroo court down, sport
    Tie me kangaroo court down
    Tie me kangaroo court down, sport
    Tie me kangaroo court down

    Keep me cockatoo cool, Bill
    Keep me cockatoo cool
    Ah, don’t go acting the fool, Bill
    Just keep me cockatoo cool
    Altogether now!

    Tie me kangaroo court down, sport
    Tie me kangaroo court down
    Tie me kangaroo court down, sport
    Tie me kangaroo court down

    Ain’t take me veiled threat back, Jack
    Take me veiled threat back
    Dead men do tell tales thats a fact
    Ain’t take me veiled threat back
    Altogether now!

    Tie me kangaroo court down, sport
    Tie me kangaroo court down
    Tie me kangaroo court down, sport
    Tie me kangaroo court down

    And mind me Epstein barb, Bill
    Mind me Epstein barb
    Ah, don’t let facts go running amok, Bill
    Just mind me Epstein barb
    Altogether now!

    Tie me kangaroo court down, sport
    Tie me kangaroo court down
    Tie me kangaroo court down, sport
    Tie me kangaroo court down

    Caught you playing with your didgeridoo, Blue
    Playing your didgeridoo
    Ah, like, keep payin’ ’til I say your through, Blue
    Playing your didgeridoo
    Altogether now!

    Tie me kangaroo court down, sport
    Tie me kangaroo court down
    Tie me kangaroo court down, sport
    Tie me kangaroo court down

    Hide my tales when I’m dead, they said
    Hide my tales when I’m dead
    So we hid what he did when he died, defied
    And that’s him hangin’ in his cell, crucified
    Altogether now!

    Tie me kangaroo court down, sport
    Tie me kangaroo court down
    Tie me kangaroo court down, sport
    Tie me kangaroo court down

    Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport. by Rolf Harris

  21. Lex

    The US distances itself from a border raid done by hardcore, Russian neo-Nazis fighting for Ukraine. Except that almost all of the equipment and munitions were directly supplied to Kiev. The Russians captured two Maxxpro vehicles and the checkpoint is littered with a handful of humvees. Photos of the discarded ammunition are all marked in English, clearly US issue.

    There are only two choices: the US approved or the proxy is not under control. Pretending like DoS spokespeople and the EU head of diplomacy aren’t following breaking news is weak, as is the claim that Russia faked the photos of the MaxxPros given they’re the first recorded capture of the vehicle.

    1. The Rev Kev

      An RT article listed two M1151A1 Hummvee armored cars and two of the M1224 MaxxPro armored vehicles for a start which is kinda awkward for the White House as they have to explain why there is wrecked US militarily equipment in Russia itself. I suppose that those vehicles will be towed away for examination by the Russian military to analyze its strengths and weaknesses. And I would further guess that those vehicles will then re-appear in Moscow’s military museum where they will be on permanent display and above the hall that has those vehicles will be that White House quote ‘We are not part of this war.’

      1. pjay

        It’s not our fault. The equipment and munitions were only supposed to go to the *moderate* Nazis.

      2. Carolinian

        Re Russians and museums–don’t they or didn’t they have a piece of Gary Powers U-2 plane in a museum someplace? They could put them there. Museum may need a new wing.

    2. Gregorio

      Those darn “Russian separatists” probably bought all that military hardware on the cheap at Honest Volodymyr’s Military Surplus Mart, on the outskirts of “Keeeve.”

  22. The Rev Kev

    “Australia’s Creepy Covid Cops”

    ‘Monday morning, New South Wales time — Sunday night to Americans like me living on the east coast — the Australian published an exposé titled, “Antic reveals Canberra silenced Covid posts.”

    It should be mentioned that ‘The Australian’ is the establishment newspaper here so kinda like the local Wall Street Journal cum Washington Post. Thus they publish all the sorts of bs that you see in the NYT and the WaPo. But it should be also mentioned that The Australian requires a subscription to read so it may have not been picked up by the other local newspapers i.e not many people may have seen it. The info in this article does not surprise me for two reasons. First, aussie governments tend to have an underlying streak of authoritarianism which comes out from time to time. Second, this was happening under Prime Minister Scotty from Marketing who was all about power grabs and secrecy.

  23. John Beech

    I happen to think the spending on roads and bridges in Guizhou Province are a wise deployment of capital because infrastructure results in convenience for the citizen, jobs, and represent a net positive. As for the debt, inflation makes it easier to pay. Too bad we aren’t building hammer and tongs here in the USA. If I were President I would beg Congress to appropriate money for projects on a scale not seen since China embarked on their building spree and never seen in the USA, not even when Eisenhower began the interstate road projects. Like what?

    2 new tunnels servicing New York City, maybe three.
    A parallel interstate project alongside I-95 from Maine to Miami
    Railroads? Go crazy building them! CA’s highspeed? Get cracking already.
    Any penny-ante city wants a new bridge, get started!
    Loop roads around cities? Build another. Or two!

    Jobs? Pay what they need to pay to hire. Work 24-hrs around the clock like China. Caterpillar, John Deere, anybody making equipment? Expand production! Let the good times roll. The debt? Interest rate starved investors will lap it up. Want more, too.

    1. Henry Moon Pie

      I don’t know, John. About the last thing a planet with an atmosphere already over-burdened with carbon is more highways. And they tend to fill up with cars as soon as you build them. How about some public transportation instead?

      1. JBird4049

        First and most important, put in a well funded inspector general with serious teeth to squash all the corrupt worms that would want to do to everything that was done to the Bay Bridge, the Hunters Point and Treasure Island cleanups, and the highway speed rail, which were all incompetent or badly done, too long, and far too expensive. The United States’ construction industry is extremely corrupt, costly, time consuming, and often of poor quality when compared to European countries.

        Second, create a long term credible, detailed plan for the following.

        Shift at least half of the resources put into the military to national infrastructure rebuilding.

        Hire anyone still breathing that has any of the old skills by paying them anything they want.

        Recreate the system of trade schools and programs including apprenticeships that were all over the country.

        Nationalize the railroads.

        Truly enforced antitrust laws at all levels.

        Bust all the major financial institutions into regional banks.

        Bring back the Glass-Steagall Act.

        Get rid of fifty percent or more of the administrative staff put in all schools and colleges in the past forty years. Make sure that nobody is paid more than five times what the teachers are paid. Period.

        Make college free or at least no more expensive, adjusting for inflation, than it was in 1970.
        Replace all the heavy manufacturing that was shipped overseas.

        Order manufacturers (or put in tariffs) of all the white goods factories that was shipped overseas to bring them back.

        Modernize the ones that remain.

        If carbon is the deal breaker, then plan, manufacture, and install high speed chargers,

        redo the entire national energy grid, bury researchers of battery and power generation,

        Reinstall all the railroad tracks that were torn out and put in high speed ones,

        Put back all the light rail that was torn out by the auto makers,

        Repair and expand all the roads, highways, and bridges that either are falling apart only this time spend the time to make them as good as possible focusing on the choke points because we still need vehicles that aren’t stuck in traffic.

        Expand and modernize the ports including the old ones that were shut down like San Francisco’s.

        Recreate shipbuilding industry and merchant marine (this is where shifting naval shipbuilding to civil use could be useful.)

        Put in subways in all the cities that need them.

        Do this for forty years and maybe, just maybe we will be back to where we were fifty years ago.

        This country had a deliberate industrial policy under elite support that created and protected our entire industrial base including the schools and universities that supported it for about one hundred and eighty years. The current elites spent the last forty years burning it down for profit. We still have a residue of what was to build on, but no more time to waste, which means our current ruling elites have to retire. This includes much of the Professional Managerial Class as they are invested in keeping the current rotten system going.

        1. ambrit

          Alas, your projected return to a “sane” set of national policies will require that a significant part of the nation’s top elites be put up in front of the firing squad. As beguiling as that prospect might be, such endeavours eventually devolve into a mass murder spree, and no one is safe. Thus, the trick is to manage a “purge” of our ruling Elites and stop there. How that is done is a problem for someone smarter than me.

    2. tevhatch

      Yes. The people in Guizhou have suffered greatly from a combination of geography and distance to the coastal regions, so that a trip to the hospital would have taken days. 25 years ago I mountain biked through some of the more developed areas, on main transport paths that would be Single Trail Scale (STS) Difficulty Classes S4 to S6. They deserve decent connectivity, on the other hand, maybe the people in NYC could stay put and grouse on each other more. Just replacing failing infrastructure would probably be more than they can cope with in terms of skilled labour.

  24. Mikel

    “…Target has been celebrating Pride Month for more than a decade. But this year’s collection has led to an increase in confrontations between customers and employees and incidents of Pride merchandise being thrown on the floor, Target spokesperson Kayla Castaneda said…”

    “…While various Pride Collection products are under review, the only ones now being removed are the LGBTQ brand Abprallen, which has come under scrutiny for its association with British designer Eric Carnell…”

    A long, hot summer…

    1. Skip Intro

      One man/woman/other’s corporate virtue signal is another man’s corporate satan worship!

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      Hmmm…… Is it possible that the “consent ” is not as deeply felt as its manufacturers would have you believe, and that digital stonings and shunnings are not particularly effective marketing tools in the “retail space” when the rubber meets the road?

      We “consumers” owe a debt of gratitude to dylan mulvaney for reminding us of the power of the boycott or the threat of one. The corollary is, of course, money talks and bullshit walks.

      1. Questa Nota

        Various scary or sobering aspects to the Bud Light, Target and other, er, **** dust-ups.
        1. What business acumen and accountability was missing in chain of command?
        2. Why would shoppers trust such vendors with, well, anything, for a good long while?
        3. Stock investors sold quickly, erasing billions in equity. Did the prospect of negative reactions not enter into items 1 and 2 above?

        Haven’t knowingly had any Bud family of products in ages, and don’t recall the last time in a Target, but not planning to resume either.

  25. KD

    Obama promised the average would save $2,500 a year in premiums with the ACA.

    Let’s do the numbers. In 2009 health costs for a family of four was $16,771 a year. Last year it was $30,260. That’s $13,500 a year, every year, of added cost for a family.

    That’s… very bad.

    Stollers running the wrong numbers, pull some 10-K’s for UNH for the comparable period and you will see Obamacare is very good.

  26. The Rev Kev

    ‘They don’t think the rules apply to people like them. They never did – and they still don’t. They think rules are for little people.’

    “Boris Johnson referred to police over potential Covid rule breaches”

    Well of course they don’t for people that are useful to the establishment. Remember when he went like a one-man demolition mob to wreck the negotiations between the Ukraine and Russia about a year ago leading to the war to go on instead of ending then? And tens of thousands of dead people later, he is still proving useful to them and I see that he has now gone to Texas to lobby Republicans to keep the war in Ukraine going still-

    That is why his name was floated as the new NATO Secretary General last year and he might have got it but that they wanted a women this time around.

  27. Hepativore

    By the way, the headline:

    “Saddled with Trump, unpopular policies, GOP toys with tanking economy under Biden”

    contains no website link.

      1. Screwball

        One of the countries greatest journalists according to my PMC friends.

        We are soooooo screwed.

  28. JB

    (Relating to yesterdays links, AI books + outsourcing/firing comment)
    Wow, odd – my own brother is, as of the last couple of years, in some kind of finance-adjacent consulting/tech job where they run/maintain software that automatically goes through client companies accounts etc., to find easy ‘cost savings’ etc., advising them where to make cuts and save money.

    I don’t know the details of it or how it works (and only get to meet with family a handful of times a year since Covid, so not much opportunity to chat about it) – but yea it instantly made me think of the kind of algorithmic-random-firing AI type thing you’d read about here.

    Definitely noticed a shift in attitude about some things as he’s worked close to finance as well; giving me the impression of a casual attitude to insider trading in Ireland; asking him if the ‘algorithm’/software can spot fraudulent accounting too, giving me the impression that they don’t have a financial interest in ‘finding’ such things; and me suggesting “hey if you do spot anything bad/dodgy, I know folks who may be very interested!” being replied to in borderline non-family-blog terms, heh :)

    He’s my brother/family, had a really crap time after the GFC and had to rebuild career from scratch, so have been glad of his success (made it pretty well even before the finance-adjacent job) – so I try not to be judgy – still, it’s disappointing to see how contact with that industry affects things.

    1. Questa Nota

      The beginning of that end was in the 1990s with the ascendancy of Economic Value Added software. Behind that façade lurked the eventual development , financialization and ultimate valuation of human worth, to be found wanting, or not contributing adequately to the general neo-liberal welfare.
      Wait until you see what AI has in store!
      Price tags all around, except for those exempt.

  29. Colonel Smithers

    Thank you, Yves.

    Further to the Blighty links, what’s centrist log roller Jolyon Maugham (and his Good Law Project crew) complaining about? Maugham urged voting for the Liberals, Greens and Change UK (a Tory organised and funded outfit, along with its younger sibling Our Future, Our Country (OFOC)) in the 2019 election as stopping Corbyn was more important. They made their beds. Now family blogging lie in it!

  30. TimH

    On UK anti-striking legislation… just curious whether EU human rights laws precludes this. It’s one thing for a union to be forced to TRY to maintain a level service delivered by members, but I don’t think individuals can be forced to work.

    1. vao

      Perhaps, but in the case of the UK this may also become irrelevant, as the various British governments post-Brexit have all been intent on ditching the ECHR.

        1. ambrit

          Don’t bet the plantation on that. It wasn’t too long ago that the slave trade was referred to as “A Respectable Trade” in England.
          Besides, there are many sorts of “slaves” in this world.

  31. chuck roast

    Toward A Leisure Ethic

    Nice. I have been engaged in ‘Extreme Lounging’ for a number of years now. There are several requirements for entering into this blissful condition. They included tuning out the TV for all but the most superior hockey games; engaging NC every morning; giving my mentor (the cat) his three squares a day; listening to Bach regularly and firing up the occasional blunt for some reggae dub-style when hard-core hanging (whew); minimizing my circle of friends to cut out the 60-grit of idle chatter; having a well-oiled 10-speed and a geezer bus pass; daily attending the ancient athenaeum and continuing my life-long search for the world greatest scone. It hard work, but somebodies gotta do it.

    1. Questa Nota

      Variations on a theme, pruning time uses, varying composers (Beethoven today) and such.

    1. flora

      He’s smarter than the average bear. Taking the high ground. Where are those pick-a-nick baskets? / ;)

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