Links 5/8/2023

Fruitarian Frogs May Be Doing Flowers a Favor NYT

Welwitschia mirabilis: A Living Fossil that’s worthy of all our admiration ZME Science

Janet Yellen warns of ‘constitutional crisis’ over US debt ceiling impasse FT

What the Debt Limit Fight Is Actually About Jon Schwarz, The Intercept

Long-term debt propagation and real reversals Bank of International Settlements

Falling crude prices and recession fears bring US oil and gas rally to a halt FT


The (relatively) cheap opportunity to cut oil and gas emissions Axios

Global ocean temperatures spike to record levels as El Niño nears Axios

Alberta Wildfires: Rain offers relief as Alberta rallies to battle wildfires Edmonton Journal

California readies for treasure hunt as floods wash up ‘Gold Rush 2.0′ The Hill

World Development Report 2023: Migrants, Refugees, and Societies (PDF) World Bank


The global picture of excess deaths is disturbing Pandem-ic

Excess deaths align with COVID-19 Virology Down Under

* * *

Inconsistent directions of change in case severity across successive SARS-CoV-2 variant waves suggests an unpredictable future (preprint) medRxiv. From the Discussion: “Given that the direction of the evolution of SARS-CoV-2 virulence has not been consistent over time and that the entry pathway of SARS-CoV-2 may be changed by single amino acid changes within the S2 domain of the spike protein [41], historical trends in severity cannot be used to predict the severity of future variants. However, once a variant has emerged, the likelihood of immune evasion and the method of cell entry may be estimated from the genome sequence.”


Mystery Chinese spacecraft returns to Earth after 276 days Channel News Asia

China puts upper Yellow River dam plans on the fast track with feasibility study South China Morning Post


But not a billion ventilation systems, even though #COVIDisAirborne, the leadership knows it, and China is a manufacturing powerhouse. Odd.

Couchfish: Sustainable Vietnam Part 1—Plastic, People, Power Couchfish


Makers of High Fashion, Karnataka’s Skilled Garment Workers Are Cheated of Fair Wages The Wire

The Kerala Story row: The mise-en-scene of propaganda meets probity Business Standard


Newly released images of massive US embassy compound in Lebanon prompt questions The New Arab

Türkiye rejected US proposal to send Russian S-400 defense system to Ukraine: Foreign minister Anadolu Agency. lol no.

Turkey’s Opposition Can’t Win Without the Working Class Foreign Policy


To counter Russia in Africa, Biden deploys a favored strategy Politico

European Disunion

Vive la révolution! But is France ready to establish a Sixth Republic? Guardian

Rights groups accuse French police of brutality in pension protests France24

Dear Old Blighty

All strikes planned for May 2023 – from trains to teachers Metro UK

Met Police arrested protesters despite approving their protest – and locked up Night Safety Team Swawkbox

The rule of law on Covid reporting no longer applies in the UK. Thread:

New Not-So-Cold War

Russia’s Wagner Group says more arms promised for Bakhmut battle Al Jazeera

Akhmat commandos wait for orders to push towards Artyomovsk – Kadyrov TASS. The Chechens.

Not bad for World War I-style trench warfare:

(I can’t vouch for the complete accuracy of this video, which is of unknown provenance, but certainly accords with my recollection of both Soledar and Bakhmut.)

* * *

Biden knows it and so does Zelenskiy: success depends on telling the right story Guardian

How The FBI Helps Ukrainian Intelligence Hunt ‘Disinformation’ On Social Media Lee Fang. The deck: “In an interview, a senior Ukrainian official defined ‘disinformation’ as any news that contradicts his government’s message.” Huh. I wonder where they got that idea?

Detaining Gonzalo Lira: Another blow to the freedom of press in Ukraine Helsinki Times. “The SBU filmed Lira’s arrest, during which heavily armed agents were involved…. The metal soundtrack from Override Spedup fades down enough to hear the words of a special forces member telling Lira while tapping his arm: ‘Welcome to Ukraine.'” Indeed.

* * *

Russia will panic when Ukraine’s counteroffensive begins – Ukraine’s Deputy Defence Minister Ukrainska Pravda. First saw this “panic” thesis in Foreign Policy…

‘Mad panic’ sparked as Russia evacuates city near nuclear plant ahead of expected Ukraine offensive NY Post. Yeah, panic when some Ukronazi commando squad breaches the plant and straps themselves to a reactor until their demands are met.

* * *

Kissinger Predicts China Involvement Will Lead to Ukraine Peace Talks Newsweek

Reality of war rains on Russia’s Victory Day parade Politico

The Caribbean

In Haiti, a grassroots vigilante movement is fighting back against gang warfare CBC. More “bwa kale.”

South of the Border

Brazil’s Amazon megaprojects threaten Lula’s green ambitions AP

Chile’s Conservative Parties to Lead Constitution Rewrite After Massive Win in Snub to President Boric Bloomberg


Bring Back the Public Option! Ross Barkan, New York Magazine. A hardy perennial: “Barack Obama lost a large House majority after the passage of the Affordable Care Act.” “After,” forsooth. What caused Obama’s loss was his miserably inadequate handling of the contemporaneous foreclosure crisis

Groves of Academe

Ohio State president departs as search continues Axios. In the meantime, “cabinet-level administrators will report directly to the university’s governing-board subcommittees.” Odd!

Police State Watch

Excessive force, cover-ups: LAPD whistleblower expands ‘SWAT Mafia’ allegations LA Times

Digital Watch

AI’s facial recognition failures: Three times crime solving intelligence got it wrong FOX

Zeitgeist Watch

Why so many mass killings? Families, experts seek answers AP

All-you-can-eat buffet restaurants are back CNN

Liz Holmes Wants You to Forget About Elizabeth Amy Chozick, NYT. Eschaton: The World’s Easiest Marks.

Who’s the alpha, then?

Feral Hog Watch

From 1997, still germane:

A Pig's Tale from Leah Gordon on Vimeo.

Realignment and Legitimacy

The problem with concentrated power FT

The Jackpot

Backup Power: A Growing Need, if You Can Afford It NYT

Class Warfare

Tech Workers Aren’t as Rich as They Used to Be WSJ. The deck: “Stock declines wipe out billions of dollars of paper gains meant for big-ticket expenses.”

Unhappy meals Popular Information

Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. griffen

    Every girl crazy about a sharp dressed man…shout out to the band from Texas, ZZ Top. Interesting thread about tailoring and proper fit for a man’s suit.

    1. DJG, Reality Czar

      griffen: Yep, the Derek Guy thread on Nick the Alpha Male and his jacket is informative and amusing.

      Nick the Alpha Male violates rule number 1 of the life of men: Handsome is as handsome does.

      Oh, poor Nick.

      Second problem: Nick, in his desire to be alpha eye candy, buys a jacket made of dubious fabric that doesn’t fit well across his oh-so-expansive chest. Ergo:

      Handsome is as handsome does.
      Corollary: Crappy fabric will not make a good jacket.
      Corollary: A snappy pocket square might redeem his gaping breast pocket.
      Corollary: Only use one’s man-cleavage when it is to one’s advantage, eh

      1. lyman alpha blob

        To play the devil’s advocate for a minute, at least his sartorial preferences aren’t high water plaid pajama bottoms and crocs, as is the case for the 13-17 year-old set these days.

        Every time I start getting nervous about boys dating my teenage daughter, I look at they ridiculous threads they’re sporting and the worry fades.

        1. chuck roast

          yeh, I noticed that they are required dress code at all Maine 7-11’s. the flannel jams are particularly cool…class will tell, as they used to say at the pony’s.

      2. JonnyJames

        What a joke. He’s a parody of himself. Send the self-styled “alpha male” to the Russian Front and see how long he lasts before having a nervous breakdown and crying to go home

    2. Steve H.

      I do mistake my person all this while:
      Upon my life, she finds, although I cannot,
      Myself to be a marvellous proper man.
      I’ll be at charges for a looking-glass,
      And entertain some score or two of tailors,
      To study fashions to adorn my body:
      Since I am crept in favour with myself,
      Will maintain it with some little cost.

    3. Benny Profane

      Best comment:

      “I think the problem with this generation of “dressers” is that they’re more concerned with their clothing being “slim-fit” than actually fitting (as most of my clients that request slim-fit clothing are neither slim nor fit)”

      1. timbers

        Agree. As a gay male I find the slim-fit sized clothing look is good only on younger men who work out with weights. Beyond that, it’s just another fad look and sometimes looks uncomfortable and even painful to look at.

        1. digi_owl

          And uncomfortable to wear.

          Then again, maybe the industry has mined fashion history so hard they have reached the middle ages…

          1. JBird4049

            How often do men and women see people dress well or even with good taste? It is not just about dressing to the nines, but doing the best with whatever they have. When people have the desire to do so, there is a wasteland of fashion. Unless, before Covid, you lived in NYC, a few other Eastern cities, or maaaaby San Francisco, you don’t have any real life examples.

            Since the past conventions of fashion are forgotten or no longer existing, while being replaced with nothing, what “fashion” does get pushed is fast fashion garbage or outré blingware designed to make a person standout.

            There is the super expensive fashion of the wealthy, which emphasizes bland clothes using very high quality fabric, but I think are stealth class signaling, which is effective as the quality of most clothing has been degraded. Just look at jeans. You can get quality jeans, but it will seriously cost you, and they are often niche brands.

            Instead of having, and being able to afford, clothes that were of high quality, enduring, and repairable, it’s garbage because the fashion industry pushed us into it as it was more profitable for them. I also think that fashion has been hollowed out by the growing wealth inequality, the almost complete destruction of the American garment industry, and the atomization of society.

            And so, we have people who want to dress well, but have no examples to see, no current fashions to even be outré to, and have difficulty of finding stores to buy such. It is not just a change in fashion, but as with much else like music, it is the destruction of the social system, of society’s web social connections, conventions, and opportunities to use the clothing, along with the means of accessing what is left. I would love to dress up for some jazz, but Covid, the cost of going to what jazz remains, and the difficulty of getting good clothes for a night out makes it problematic. I use to be able to drop into a real brick-and-mortar store, get measured, buy it, and then go somewhere that would not cost a month’s wages to see. Did not do it much, but it was there. Now? I mean baseball has never been a fashion event, but have you seen the cost of the tickets and the beer, lately? It is like that everywhere.

            I think that Pretty Boy is annoying, but I can’t blame him for it.

            1. kate

              You make me realize that how I dress is a political statement/stand. I buy high quality Japanese dresses second hand on Ebay and wear them over one of my two pair of American-made jeans. It’s my look! My daughter and I make it our practice to dress well wherever we go. Part of the social contract? It feels dignified.
              But here on the West Coast it’s all about athleisure. SF especially so: Techie style. No one seems to strive for a modest distinction in dress. So many norms being eroded, replaced with what?

              1. The Rev Kev

                ‘dress is a political statement/stand.’

                Saw that with the Coronation. Jill Biden was there with her grown granddaughter. One wore a blue dress and one wore a yellow dress in support of the Ukraine – and to throw some attention on themselves in the middle of that crowd. Probably most of the reps from Global South countries just rolled their eyes.

              2. JBird4049

                >>>SF especially so: Techie style. No one seems to strive for a modest distinction in dress. So many norms being eroded, replaced with what?

                I was thinking about San Francisco’s Financial District where I worked over a decade ago when there was still some remnants of a real financial district as well as the city’s stock exchange and before that other dying bits of other industrial in San Francisco and around the Bay. A windy way of saying that there were people around wearing something other than techie and nerd fashion. It wasn’t just suits either. Now, it’s the Techlords and their minions, plus the City Hall-Nonprofit-Woke Complex. Plus there was still something akin to a nightlife. There must be a real scene in the city, somewhere, but at the risk of sounding like some very old and cranky man, it’s not like back when. And this is true of the whole Bay Area.

                Each decade I get hit again with the realization of yet another part of the Bay Area that made it interesting went away without anything replacing it along increasing homogenization of the society. People blathering about Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity without seeing the DIEing of the very diversity of everything that made it worth living here.

                So just where are the opportunities for being truly social? To get drunk, hear some real and live music without going broke or going to a dive? I have to get out to see what is left after Covid and the economic issues.

                Still need a new outfit though.

        2. Brunches with Cats

          Well the younger ones are going for a looser, baggy look. See latest menswear collection by Hermes (FW2023-24). Brilliant, IMO — under a woman creative director, no less.

          Also note that the acknowledged creator of the skinny jean reign of terror, Hedi Slimane (currently creative director at Celine), a few years back brought back balloon jeans for women and declared skinny jeans OVER AND DONE WITH. Hurray for that. But holy $H!T, his menswear collections are a mess.

          1. semper loquitur

            Skinny jeans will rise again! Especially in NYC. But not by my hand, I tried on an old pair recently and almost disemboweled myself when I bent over to tie my shoes.

    4. Benny Profane

      One of my favorite little quips during Trump’s WH reign was describing son in law Kushner and his crew as the skinny suit gang.

    5. JonnyJames

      A suit? In my opinion, the suit and tie is a ridiculous and anachronistic costume. It’s not comfortable to wear. It originated in North and West Europe, and is ill-suited to many climates in the other parts of the world. It is a form of cultural imperialism as well. I refuse to wear a suit.

      1. JBird4049

        I can get not wanting to wear a suit especially a cheap one not properly fitted, but cultural imperialism?

        1. JonnyJames

          You must be a person of European descent. It’s a European costume, think about it for a minute.

    6. JonnyJames

      The Nazis had some “sharp dressed alpha men” in suits, designed by Hugo Boss.

  2. FreeMarketApologist

    Re: Liz Holmes Wants You to Forget About Elizabeth

    Well of course she does. Most criminals want you to forget about their last crime so they can better plan their next one. An embarassing puff piece by the Times, who should have learned a lesson along the way. Is Amy Chozick on Ms. Holmes’ payroll now?

    1. jefemt

      Re-brand. Resurrection. Reincarnation.
      There is a theme and pattern there… and no one forgives and forgets better than America.

      Easter- all day every day. Look at the calm and soothing pastels!

    2. The Rev Kev

      The Steve Jobs-style black turtlenecks and that deep voice may be gone but I bet that she still has those cray, cray, crazy eyes. She did the crime so now she has to do the time. And giving birth to two babies on the eve of doing time in prison and claiming them as a reason not to go to prison tells me that the same old Liz is still there.

      1. Arizona Slim

        In all honesty, I have zero sympathy for Elizabeth Holmes. Instead, I’m reserving it for her two children.

        1. Kouros

          What if they have inherited the same levels of psychopaty/sociopaty as their mother?

      2. Jason Boxman

        But I wonder what the Times’ angle is here; A nearly 20 minute puff piece on a convicted felon.

        1. Benny Profane

          It’s a head scratcher, for sure. The photography is a step above even good NYT photojournalism. The shot on the beach rocks probably involved an assistant to the photographer, and maybe a stylist. There’s a flash on a boom. “Here, hand me the baby. Which one is this?” You wonder if Liz paid for it.

          What’s up with him, though? He’s got money, he’s somewhat handsome, and he decides to get locked into a life with a grifter going to jail? Is he getting paid for this?

  3. The Rev Kev

    “How The FBI Helps Ukrainian Intelligence Hunt ‘Disinformation’ On Social Media”

    Sweet deal for the Ukrainians to be treated like Israel. So now the First Amendment and how it applies is now dependent on how the Ukrainians think of it as it relates to them. And to enforce their definition, they have outsourced this enforcement to local authorities like the FBI. Don’t FBI agents have to take an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States? They may have to modify it to say-

    ‘that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America – and the Ukraine – against all enemies, foreign and domestic’

    1. R.S.

      {quoting llia Vitiuk, head of the Department of Cyber Information Security in the Security Service of Ukraine} I say, “Everything that is against our country, consider it a fake, even if it’s not.” Right now, for our victory, it is important to have that kind of understanding, not to be fooled.

      …Alex Kobzanets, an FBI agent with the bureau’s San Francisco office {…} “I don’t know how many times we’ve called the CEOs here in San Francisco to drive to their office on a Sunday afternoon and really engage with our Ukrainian partners,” he [Kobzanets] said.
      A gov’t security agency is “nudging” businesses at the behest of a foreign military/security. Did I get it right?

    2. ChrisFromGA

      The current regime in Kiev should be considered a terroristic one.

      As in, formally denounced by the rest of the world, and shunned. At any rate, working for a foreign government seems like a violation of an FBI agent’s duty and should, in a sane world, result in either disciplinary action or termination.

      Alas, we inhabit no such sane world.

    3. Diogenes

      What odds that the hand ultimately holding the whip is really Ukrainian and not American?

      1. Vandemonian

        Is a promise to keep quiet about Burisma Holdings being used as a bargaining tool, one wonders?

        1. Diogenes

          Who knows. Maybe.

          But that seems to start from the presumption that but for the Ukrainians the FBI would be disinclined to censor information for purposes of preventing the spread of truthful information merely embarrassing ot the U.S. government.

          I think we have some recent evidence (if it was necessary) to put paid to that idea.

          Seems far more reasonable to assume that American interests are driving Ukrainian policy than vice versa.

  4. griffen

    Why so many mass shootings, details a little bit of American history. The year 1999 seems like a long time ago when Columbine happened. We don’t actually learn so these outcomes continue repeating. Restrictive laws, regulations and insurance wouldn’t prevent gun owners that are responsible from obtaining guns, but they could deter someone with dubious mental health or documented concerns about the emotional state from buying any gun. I offer as well, my solutions are limited in scope, and some of these appear, to me, as societal problems that are seemingly intractable.

    Nah, that makes perfect sense so it’ll never fly. So, instead of solutions we’ll get thoughts and prayers and family members just have to live with an empty seat at their table.

      1. Steve H.

        Unlikely, given both the limited distribution of 5G emitters, and the smaller field of effect. The Covid-population is drastically larger than 5G-population.

          1. vao

            It is exceedingly improbable that the rollout of mid-band 5G has anything to do with either Covid or homicidal rage.

            After all, the frequencies used for mid-band 5G overlap with those that have been in use for WLAN 802.11 (2.4GHz, 5GHz actually ranging all the way to 5.9GHz) for much longer, with a much denser coverage (just fire up your PC/smartphone/tablet WLAN finder and see how many networks are in range). We should already have seen the effects 25 years ago.

            1. Jeff Stantz

              I didn’t say it had anything to do with Covid. I just meant it all rolled out during the lockdowns.

              You cannot Compare frequency and power, they are not the same thing. I’m sorry, but you just don’t know enough about the technology to make that comment. And your Wi-Fi router does not have been forming technology. So please don’t fall into the trap of comparing frequency without any other characteristics.

              And you’re also making the assumption that we’re not already seeing the effects from the boom in radio frequency EMFs.

              1. cfraenkel

                Your repeated ‘I didn’t mean that’ is getting tiring.

                But this “I’m sorry, but you just don’t know enough about the technology to make that comment.” is insulting.

                Go away.

                1. Yves Smith

                  You don’t get to play moderator. That is for the site admins. You are accumulating troll points with statements like this.

              2. Yves Smith

                Your idea is off base There’e no urban/rural divide with Covid incidence, which is what your theory would point to. Alabama, whose biggest cities have only 200,000 people, has plenty of Covid. The five states with the highest case rate include Alaska, North Dakota, and West Virginia.

                It does not help your credibility when you fail to do basic sanity checking of your theory.

          2. cfraenkel

            I do not think you chose to read Steve H.’s reply enough.
            You said: “The start of COVID aligned with the role of of 5G”
            but then backtracked: “since January 2022”.
            My memory has Covid-19 starting in early 2020.

            In addition, Steve H pointed out “The Covid-population is drastically larger than 5G-population”, to which your reply was claiming 5G is in “major cities”. I suggest you think about the excess death post in today’s links, showing yet again that Covid-19 caused comparable excess deaths *everywhere*, around the globe.

            And what does a off the wall speculative opinion on Covid-19 have to do with USian mass gun deaths in the first place?

            Sure looks to me like the common factor is an obsession with 5G.

            1. Jeff Stantz

              You are all making it sound like I am blaming the rise of COVID on 5G. I never said that and for the record that would be kooky talk!

              I was saying that 5G may play a contributing (not causal) role in the rise in mental health issues and mass shooting.

              5G rollout in china (Wuhan and four other provinces) started in 2019:
              (Again, I am in no way saying 5G caused COVID)

              Mid-band 5G rollout started in the US in January 2022:

              All I al sayin is that the RF Frequency infrastructure has grown dramatically, not only since 2000, but even more rapidly since 2019.

              1. Yves Smith

                Your comment was debunked yet you are digging in. This is not on. One more like this and you will be blacklisted. This is now two rule violations, Making Shit Up and broken record.

        1. ACPAL

          Of course not. Eliminate the guns and you reduce the gun violence. You still have people killing with knives, clubs, stones, cars, chemicals, bacteria, bombs, etc, etc, etc. But those who are against guns can puff out their chests and say “See, they don’t have all the gun violence the US has.” And as far as they are concerned that makes perfect sense and expect you to buy into it.

          Shortly after the mass knife killings at the U of Idaho in 2022 I heard on NPR someone relating all the mass shootings that year and saying that the one thing in common was that they all used guns. Of course they did, because the speaker selected only gun violence and left out all the other forms of violence.

          “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” It’s amusing (not) to pick out the abuse of statistics by the anti-gunners.

          It also shows that the anti-gunners really don’t care about people who are killed by violence unless their deaths can be used to further the anti-gunners’ cause. If someone isn’t killed by a gun their deaths don’t count to those people. I find that self serving and inhumane.

          1. semper loquitur

            “It also shows that the anti-gunners really don’t care about people who are killed by violence unless their deaths can be used to further the anti-gunners’ cause.”

            This is an outrageous statement, pure bile. Where is your evidence to back up this claim that anti-gun people are all psychopaths? Unless you have polling data of them agreeing with statements like “I’m fine with knife attacks!”, this is Making Sh!t Up. Stop.

    1. Clint Olsen Wright

      Random gun violence needs to be adapted to by American society. Everyone, everywhere needs to learn how to not be shot or minimize the probability of being so. Assume the likelihood of that when you leave home there is a potential shooter where you are going: Consider your exposure; measure the appearance and intent of people around you; always know where the nearest exits are; look for a place that would offer cover and concealment; is there more safety in numbers; think about your physical condition, ie., can you run, either in a sprint or in a zigzag pattern. There are other tactics. Sadly, you develop the instinct of a small prey animal in a jungle of predators.

    2. Mildred Montana

      Guns are part of the culture of the US and have been since its inception. The list is long: the War of Independence, the War of 1812, the Mexican war of 1845, the Civil War, the so-called Indian Wars (actually exterminations), the invasion of the Philippines in 1899…need I go on?

      A nation constantly at war breeds gun-lovers and veterans of the military skilled in their deadly use. And mass shootings aren’t the only problem. Run-of-the-mill homicides, suicides, accidental shootings also take their depressing toll every year.

      I don’t see an easy solution. Psychologists and psychiatrists are of no use when it comes to predicting if and when one of their patients will go “postal”. Those closest to him or her, family and friends, are often surprised that one of theirs shot someone, shot him/herself, or went berserk and shot many: “He was so quiet, he kept to himself. I would never have expected this.” But the common denominator is *always* guns.

      There’s no legislating against lunacy in the current American gun-loving, Second Amendment culture. Can’t be done. Lunatics will always find a way to get a gun and go lunatic. To paraphrase Bush the Elder, it’s the culture, stupid. So the question becomes, how does one change a culture? How does one turn a nation of gun-toters into one of gardeners?

      1. griffen

        It seems highly unlikely that those folks with guns, who are quite adamant in regards to the 2nd amendment, will turn their “swords into plowshares…” Earlier this morning I watched some of the video from Saturday, in the Allen, Texas shooting. The shooter just stood up from his vehicle and started to fire at will. I mean I do support the 2nd amendment but in my recall, those Revolutionary War muskets were single shot and took a bit of time to reload after firing, if only for sake of framing the intent of the amendment.

        And back on topic, while taking a quick drive to pick up some lunch I saw this bumper sticker. “Ban Idiots Not Guns.” I find it unlikely that we will arrive at some level, that somehow these events cease to happen, and will need methods to cope accordingly.

        1. JBird4049

          The United States has always been well armed and violent, but why does this nation and not any other nation, even those with worse murder rates than us, have school shootings and they do not? Guns make it easy to commit murder, but it is something else besides guns are the triggers. It is like road rage with people ignoring all the rules including common sense increasingly in the past three decades. The more whacked and atomized our society is the greater the violence.

          1. Daniil Adamov

            In fairness, school shootings aren’t just for Americans anymore. We’ve had a few in Russia, perhaps as a form of Western cultural influence. Still far fewer than in the US though.

    3. Hickory

      A lot of evidence indicates anti-psychotic medications cause homicidal rage in a small number of people. Those drugs came into use in the 90s. See the substack “a midwestern doctor” for essays with lots of details.

  5. DJG, Reality Czar

    Ian McKay, Virology Down Under. Not long–so it is worth your while.

    McKay is writing about Australia, but his observations contradict some ideas now widespread in the U S of A. First, there’s the Great Barrington Declaration–but that’s almost too easy. Second is the continuing idea, now common, that no quarantines or masks are needed to control an epidemic–pure magical thinking now much airborne in the U S of A.

    I daresay (and I’m going to be harping on this) that a certain sudden presidential campaign trading in “problems with vaccines” is going to have problems in the short and long runs with not dealing with the events that just happened.

    1. britzklieg

      I’m not sure what you mean by “events that just happened” so my response could be missing your point, but..

      My reading of McKay is that masking and isolation worked, because the pre-vaccine and post-vaccine stats during the quarantines didn’t change. Deaths went up when things opened up. I suppose it demonstrates the possibility that the vaccines didn’t increase mortality but it’s a dodgy assumption given the many flaws in collecting data (that still exist) – see IMDoc’s comments here:

      RFK Jr’s crazy pants take on childhood vaccination could be a disqualifier, but the negligible and too often damaging results of the mrna vaccines have undermined people’s confidence in vaccination generally, and so, at least for some, it will resonate louder than it might have before the “miracle” vaccines were revealed to be anything but. Meanwhile the admirable rhetoric for the broad agenda he would pursue is very easy to latch onto and inspires hope. As for masks and quarantines… that horse has left the barn: far more people have discarded the commonsense of PPE and isolation than have questioned vaccine effectiveness and that can only mean even more people attracted to his otherwise engaging pronouncements. Even if a new more deadly wave hits and TPTB come to their senses and again start talking isolation and masks (na gonna happen) the masses will never go there again, imho. I don’t see RFK jr’s wrong-headedness about said precautions hurting his campaign. I might not vote for him, but then again I always vote for the loser.

      1. zagonostra

        RFK Jr’s crazy pants take on childhood vaccination could be a disqualifier

        The only ones with “crazy pants” on are those wearing one woven from MSM lies and deep state propagandist. RFK’ jr.’s stance on vaccine is much more nuanced than they would have you believe. But nuance isn’t something that most people are able or willing to parse once it has gone through misinformation mill.

        1. Yves Smith

          Sorry, the onus is on you to substantiate your statement. I have seen video of RFK saying things that are 100% accurately depicted as crazypants, like attributing the rise in peanut allergies and autoimmune diseases to vaccines. We have a widespread rise in pollution and micropollution (like pervasive use of fire retardants that slowly leak chemicals into the air) that are much more credibly the cause of these problems.

          Even his family opposes him on vaccines:

          1. zagonostra

            I’ll have to look at the peanut allergies statement. I’m am not familiar with all his stands on various vaccine issues. I do know that calling someone “crazy pants” doesn’t really do justice to the man and his courage, of saying what no one else is willing to.

            My family opposes me on a lot of topics, so what?

      2. barefoot charley

        Because the national discourse on vaccines is crazy by definition, since it’s written to peddle vaccines (more than 20 inflicted on schoolchildren?!), I try to ignore it until my wife makes me get a shot. So it’s easier for me to ignore Kennedy’s recent infamy in favor of everything else he says, which I entirely agree with. He’s like Bernie with a foreign policy on top. The hysterical focus on his CrazyPants drowns out the greater part of his campaign message, which for all I know will catch fire, because it’s what people think and need. Too bad he’ll never get to debate Grampa Joe.

  6. Benny Profane

    The comments to the NYT puff piece about poor Elizabeth Holmes are about 99% in favor of conviction, so, yeah, that’s a great reflection on the gullible nature of the typical NYT reporter today. She’ll probably shuttle off to do stenography for the Biden/Harris 2024 team now.

    1. t

      Author carried water for HRC so hard to tell if she’s getting marching orders from somewhere or just an idiot tired of seeing her sisters in malicious stupidity treated badly by people who, like, have eyes and see malicious iditiots for who they are.

  7. The Rev Kev

    “Reality of war rains on Russia’s Victory Day parade”

    Politico keeps on using the term ‘unexplained incidents’ which is kind of cute. I’m sure that what they actually mean are ‘terrorist attacks.’ After a coupla murders and attempted murders and sabotage attacks, it seems that the Government decided that these people were fully capable of attempting to let off bombs in the middle of attending crowds watching the parades – which is also considered a terrorist attack – hence their precautions. This is what a responsible government is supposed to think about and take action for. But when Politico pretends that they do now know who is behind these attacks is the same as telling their readers that they think that they are stupid. Did Politico also say it was such a mystery about how those North Sea pipelines blew up. Politico has really become a trash publication.

    1. flora

      Wm Casey was Reagan’s CIA director. I remember this quote from the time in the 1980’s.

      “We’ll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false.”
      -CIA Director William Casey

      Source of CIA Director William J. Casey’s Disinformation Program Quote

      Now there’s an effort to say he never said this, or he meant something else than what it sounds like. Odd. / ;)

      Hey, Politico and MSM are team players. That’s a good thing, right??

          1. britzklieg

            Yeah, well, that 99% of what Reagan said and did was malign is a given. Yet he is the only US president in history who actually agreed to eliminate much of the overstocked nuclear warheads available for our world’s destruction at the time (SALT was never ratified and did not eliminate, it “limited.”). Whatever reasons motivated them, he and Gorbachev (who is mostly reviled by Russians – see Helmer) signing the INF treaty was a good thing and one that lasted until G.W. said “nyet” in 2002.

    2. Henry Moon Pie

      In honor of Volodymyr’s return to Kyiv, I’ll offer this:

      … I did what Vicky told me, the way I always do
      How was I to know, she was lyin’ to me too?
      … I was just tryin’ to please Joe Biden, I took a little risk
      Send missiles, guns and money, Joe, get me out of this, ha
      … I’m the innocent bystander
      Somehow I got stuck between the rock and a hard place
      And I’m down on my luck, yes I’m down on my luck
      Well, I’m down on my luck
      … And I’m riding to the front.
      I’m a desperate man
      Send Abrams, guns, and money
      The shit has hit the fan
      … Alright, send Falcons, guns, and money
      Huh, yeah
      Send Patriots, guns, and money
      At least send ammo, guns, and money
      Send a private jet, guns, and money
      Oo, yeah


      I apologize if someone has already used this song.

      1. aleric

        Love it, an excellent update of a song that is frequently in my head when reading the headlines.

  8. Mikel

    Re: debt ceiling

    The addiction to easy money is so strong, the banking crisis has been going on for decades, and a generation of financial sector workers don’t know about any condition other than helicopter money. (Like a alot knew nothing but helicopter parenting).
    Don’t underestimate the pressure to cause a debt ceiling crisis in order to pressure the Fed to lower rates.

    1. Mikel

      Not the immediate effect. Interest rates will be high..
      But could cause enough crisis mode that usually precedes a massive cut some time down the line.

  9. digi_owl

    “Biden knows it and so does Zelenskiy: success depends on telling the right story Guardian”

    Fake it ’til you make it, the slogan of the era.

    Applies to anything from individual influencers to superpowers.

    1. ChrisFromGA

      Over/under in days until the laws of physics are banned as “hate speech?”

    2. jrkrideau

      I saw a joke somewhere, maybe Moon of Alabama?

      “Two Russian officers run into each other while strolling around Lvov. One asks the other, “‘Have we heard who won the information war?’

  10. The Rev Kev

    “Türkiye rejected US proposal to send Russian S-400 defense system to Ukraine: Foreign minister”

    Not all of the story. The US also said that they wanted the Turks to give those S-400s to them. But since that would leave the whole country entirely defenseless, they thought about it for a few seconds and said yeah, nah! Sure, the US could offer to sell the Turks some Patriot batteries but apart from the fact that they are much inferior to the S-400 system, it might take years to get them. And at the moment the US don’t have enough missiles for them and have been reduced to begging countries that they sold Patriots too to sell them back some missiles. And the kicker? The Turks paid over a billion dollars to the US as an initial payment for those F-35s they wanted but when the US pulled out of the deal, they kept the money. How do you trust a country that has done that to you?

    1. jrkrideau

      Does the US think that other countries have 30 second memories or forgive deadly insults overnight?

      More and more, I, really, get the feeling that the US does not see the rest of the world’s players as anymore than cardboard figures on a game board.

      “We refused to sell you Patriot Missie Systems, kicked you out of the F-35 program when you bought the S-400 systems and sponsored a coup against your president. But let’s forget those silly things. Can you do us a favour and send those missile systems, which we desperately tried to prevent you buying, to Ukraine?”

      1. digi_owl

        Nah, the DC mental clock stopped somewhere around 2008-2009. Thus they still think themselves the undisputed superpower, even though China now is the world factory and Russia is once more demonstrating a capable military.

  11. Mikel

    “Vive la révolution! But is France ready to establish a Sixth Republic?” The Guardian

    “…the constitution of France’s Fifth Republic empowers the executive at the expense of the legislature, and in effect places control of that executive essentially in the hands of one man (thus far, it has always been a man): a supreme leader, of sorts…”

    Then the article describes the powers given.
    Nothing that should really be described as “democratic.”


    “But Macron’s use of all those tools to pass a reform opposed by more than 70% of voters has ensured that the current president, already seen by many as arrogant and out of touch, is now also widely accused of being autocratic – and has precipitated what some commentators are calling a crisis of French democracy…”

    “a crisis of French democracy”
    What democracy and where again? The opening of the article just listed institutionalized auticracy features and somehow “democracy” gets thrown in as part of the problem.

    But that’s been the game for hundreds of years. Basterdize the entire comcept of democracy and them blame all the problems on some kind of democracy crisis.

    Maybe just a semantic change for clarity: it’s a crisis of lack of democracy.
    But it’s going to takemore than that.

    1. Aurelien

      The idea of the Sixth Republic has been around for a good twenty years now. It was a favourite of the Right when the Left was in power, and it was a favourite of the Left when the Right was in power, and now it’s a favourite of everyone who’s against Macron and thinks they can benefit from changing the system. But in spite of what the article suggests, there’s very little popular demand for a fundamental change of political system outside the chattering classes: the anger which has fuelled the protests this year is overwhelmingly directed at Macron personally, and at the political class that he represents. This class would not magically change its spots if the Presidency were abolished. Indeed, if you want to see the likely contours of a Sixth Republic, look no further than the current Parliament elected last year. The Prime Minister heads a weak minority government, which has to make shabby compromises on individual laws with a divided and fractious parliament. The political splits in the country would not magically go away if the Presidency was abolished: indeed, they would be exacerbated, because the rewards of power would be greater. The powers of Article 49,3, which has suddenly become a hot topic, are powers exercised by the Prime Minister, not the President, and intended to preserve the government in a crisis, not the Presidency.

      The fact is that the Fifth Republic, with all its imperfections, is the only effective answer yet found to the hopelessly divided French political system and its incapacity to find compromises. The actual powers of the Presidency are more limited than often thought, and, in the original conception, the President was a unifying figure above politics, with the status that came from being directly elected. The problem is that Macron, in particular, has increasingly colonised the office of the Prime Minister, and turned the Presidency into a partisan weapon. The problem is not the political system, but the political class.

      1. zagonostra

        A political system’s function is to keep various class interest in balance, so it definitely is a problem of the political system. That a specific class has reached such a position of power that it can blatantly or blithely, take your pick, ignore the others sums up where we are right now.

      2. Kouros

        Romans had more common sense. The function of dictator, supreme executive power, was voted upon and given on a limited time frame, six months. Nowadays, if one studies closely various “democracies” legislation, finds that the executive has dictatorial powers from the day the “mandate” starts until it “ends”. And funny enough, the executive mostly decides when the mandate ends in many instances….

  12. t

    ” FBI has never uncovered a definitive reason for the slaughter, which ended with more lives lost than in any single mass killing in decades” Has anyone, other than TrueAnon podcast, looked into the Vegas shooter? He does seem to have had unusual relationships.

    1. JTMcPhee

      Maybe this business of mass shooting (and stabbing too, now) can be seen as an exercise in cultural appropriation. /s

      Mass killings by people (mostly male) in countries of smaller brown inhabitants have been a thing since forever. It’s called “AMOK” or “running amok,” which is now recognized as a psych condition in the DSM:

      “The word derives from the Malay word amuk, traditionally meaning “an episode of sudden mass assault against people or objects, usually by a single individual, following a period of brooding, which has traditionally been regarded as occurring especially in Malaysian culture but is now increasingly viewed as psychopathological behavior”.

      Check out the description of the root causes in that article. Impotent impoverished anomic males abound, and women, though far less frequently, facing the same destructive environment, are getting into the game. Add “lots of guns,” and bob’s yer uncle.

      Too bad the progenitors of the conditions that lead to these acts are never among the dead, and live on, in their Fortresses of Impunity, free from fear and consequence.

    2. flora

      I’m still wondering why the Uvalde, Texas police showed up and did nothing while the shooter continued killing. Really, really wondering. Why didn’t they check the guy out after several reports on him came in days and weeks earlier? Why did they stop other people from trying to rescue the kids?

      1. Angie Neer

        I don’t find these things puzzling. My observation is that our militarized police are taught they are under constant threat, and that their main defense is a rapidly-escalating offense. So if you perceive any risk at all, shoot (if not a person, the nearest dog). But if you can’t do that immediately, the next step is to call in massive backup and shift to trench tactics, with the paramount imperative of protecting yourself—not the victims or potential victims. There is actual logic to that: that taking a risk and getting killed doesn’t help anybody. But in this case that wouldn’t apply because there was an army of officers on hand. Uvalde required officers to take some personal risk, and there were so many of them and such a lack of leadership that the individual responsibility was diffused down to nothing.

        Why did they stop other people from trying to rescue the kids? Because they were still clinging to a command-control model where anyone outside the chain of command would introduce more risk—even though the chain of command was completely lost. And psychologically, they could reassure themselves that they were protecting those crazy civilians from the deadly risk that the officers themselves were not willing to take.

        As for why they didn’t check the guy out, there are many factors there and I don’t pretend to know the particulars in this case. But fundamentally, the only tool police have for preventing crime is intimidation, or a perception on the part of the criminal that they will be caught. Nutty shooters may not be deterred by the threat of apprehension. Some take it for granted that they will be caught, or plan to end themselves before it gets to that point.

    3. Mildred Montana

      The Vegas shooter, a Coles Notes summary of him:

      1. 63-years-old
      2. Father was a convicted bank robber and Paddock had little to do with him.
      3. White-collar employee, owned real estate and rental properties, appeared to be financially well-off.
      4. Had a girlfriend, gave her large sums of money.
      5. Liked gambling big, used Valium, and in his last days seemed to be depressed and abusing alcohol.
      6. No criminal record, outside of a minor traffic violation which was settled.
      7. In the year previous to the shooting he had purchased 55 firearms, mostly rifles.

      Okay armchair psychologists and psychiatrists, analyze this mess of facts and then predict that a man with this history would rent a room in the Mandalay in Vegas and start firing, killing 60. Go ahead. And then admit that you can’t and that he never would been able to do this if he hadn’t such easy access to firearms.

      1. aleric

        Yah, but was he buying to sell? And how did he fire so many shots so quickly with such a degree of accuracy? And why did all the eyewitnesses at the hotel disappear? And what about the helicopters? My prior is that this was a targeted assassination of someone in that crowd and Stephen was a patsy – though there are still lots of unanswered unanswerables.

  13. Wukchumni

    California readies for treasure hunt as floods wash up ‘Gold Rush 2.0′ The Hill
    There are only 7 items needed to have a really fun day looking for the presshiuss on a river in the mother lode…

    …gold pan and a 6 pack of beer

    1. Lexx

      It isn’t what was written in that article that bothers me, but what was omitted. There are interested parties in this issue who may want to enjoy an afternoon by a riverside, undisturbed and unmolested by gold seekers or anyone with an angry, paranoid, gun-toting, profit-seeking interest* in a natural resource they consider theirs to control… like nature lovers out for a hike and everything that lives in or near that water… those innocent bystanders in the stampede to cash in. They’d best stay home, unless it is home and then they’re SOL.

      *I’m thinking about the years of illegal pot farming up in them woods and waterways and the lengths they went to hide their activities and keep their profits. The Gold Rush of the 1800’s didn’t attract the most well-socialized, mentally-stable citizens to California, likewise pot. These are folks who too often wanted to get the hell away from their fellow man and would enforce their preferences with violence, all the more so if there was desperation, luck, and fortune involved… some of those aspects that make up our casino economy.

    2. Carolinian

      That’s a fun article.

      There are more than 5,000 mining claims — for gold, silver, gemstones and other minerals — on California public lands today. Mining claims can still be “staked” for locatable minerals, such as gold, on public domain lands.


      As treasure hunting season gets underway, Dayton said that he expects to see tourists flocking to the region “to get out and do something fun,” particularly since the price of gold is so high.

      He predicted that panning and sluicing will work best for early explorers in June — once the water levels drop enough to “not have to worry about drowning.”

      Also once you’ve filled your saddle bags with the stuff beware of sombrero wearing parties saying things like “we don’t need no steenking badges.”

      Don’t do a Humphrey.

    3. flora

      Maybe an 8th item right now: anti-poison oak cream or long sleeves, jeans, and gloves. I hear Cali has a bumper crop of poison oak this spring after all the rains and snow melt.

  14. The Rev Kev

    Soledar and Bakhmut offensive by PMC Wagner until today’

    An interesting map and a good one but it is not telling the real story. Yes, this city occupies a strategic position and has to be captured but that was not what was going on. It was a kill zone which the Ukrainians sent formation after formation into and about two months ago, they had already had about 17 battalions wrecked. So if you wanted an accurate understanding of what was going on, in that animation you would need a killed and wounded count in one corner that would be constantly ticking over. As Alexander Mercouris put it, Bakhmut was for the Russians the gift that kept on giving.

    1. ChrisFromGA

      According to the latest mappers, Russia controls over 97% of Artemosvk/formerly Bakhmut.

      So, it may be mercifully over soon for the “meat grinder” at least in that area. Massive bombing of the “Citadel” area which is the last area of control for the UAF has reduced it to largely rubble. I don’t see any prospect for that to stay under UAF control more than a couple of nights. The night bombing prevents any holdouts from sleep, assuming they still have some underground bunkers, and any buildings rigged with C4 ( a tactic used to slow down Wagner) will implode if hit by a FAB.

      I already saw one Telegram video of retreating UAF vehicles across an open field, unpaved, under artillery fire. Credit to a post on MoA for finding it:

    2. Frank

      Military affairs are not my forte, but the stubborn defense of Bakhmut has always been something of a mystery to me. There are signs it was a political and not military decision, with Zelensky wanting to hold while Zaluzhny advocated for a pullout. I suppose you could say it bought some time, but time for what? It’s not at all clear that time is working in Ukraine’s favor. Certainly, the Russians aren’t acting like they are in any rush.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Part of it is when you are in a hole people start digging. Zelensky also knows his audience. Its not MIley, but the people with Ukrainian flags who still don’t know where any of this is but are losing interest. I’m sure Zelensky thought planes and such would simply materialize and the Russian subhumans would cower in fear at the thought of Zelensky learning a few words that are the Russian version of a hill billy drawl or “Ukrainian”.

        The Germans we “rescued” from justice in World War II spun tall tales about Russian hordes. That myth is pervasive, and I think Zelensky and definitely NATO planners early in this part of the campaign were waiting for Russian conscripts to march into fire.

  15. Henry Moon Pie

    Ocean warming and Walensky–

    Are climate models breaking down because unanticipated tipping points are being reached? That’s an alarming possibility, and yet our politics seems unable to address the issue with any seriousness.

    I listened to a Kyle Kulinski’s podcast for the first time in a long time, and he had a segment about a Twitter battle between Marianne Williamson and Jordan Peterson. It began when Peterson attacked Williamson on her climate proposals:

    Your Democrat candidates in action: everything is in apocalyptic crisis; give us all the power now… Nothing suspicious about that.

    I liked Williamson’s response, especially her use (coining of?) the phrase “inverted the conspiracy:”

    You’ve inverted the conspiracy: Big Oil has all the power and wants to keep it.

    (It does so in part by funding junk science peddlers).

    So Williamson argues that Peterson’s treating climate change as a conspiracy to infringe on our freedom turns the real conspiracy upside down. The real conspiracy has been and still is on the part of Big Oil and most of the rest of the capitalist class to deny the reality of climate change, spread fear of any possible solution and prevent any real political effort to address the problem.

    The parallel to Covid is obvious. The claim is that Covid is not a highly contagious, often deadly disease with long-term effects on health that are just now being discovered. Instead, it’s just the sniffles but has been wildly inflated as a threat to our health to justify lockdowns for the purpose of teaching us to obey. Again, the conspiracy is inverted. The real conspiracy was among those like the Big Money boys who met with Trump and Pence early in the pandemic to set them straight on what the priorities must be.

    Sources described the call to CNBC’s Scott Wapner as “constructive” and that the general idea was that the U.S. economy cannot be allowed to crash. Those people also said that the call reiterated that the virus won’t be permanent and that the U.S. needs a thoughtful tack when dealing with the virus and even a date-certain approach to getting back to business.

    And Trump knew what he had to do:

    “We’re opening up this incredible country. Because we have to do that. I would love to have it open by Easter,” Trump said.

    “I would love to have that. It’s such an important day for other reasons, but I’d love to make it an important day for this. I would love to have the country opened up, and rarin’ to go by Easter.”

    Well, of course Trump went along with these hedge fund guys. It’s those Democrats who are trying to grab power by inflating the dangers of Covid just like they do with climate change, right? Enter Walensky and Zients and Jha, who ditch the testing, tracing, quarantining approach that has been standard practice in public health going back to the Spanish Flu along with lockdowns when all else has failed. They lied about the ability of the vaccines to stop the spread and mandated them anyway with what seems to me to be a twofold purpose: keep the hospitals from getting slammed as they did in NYC and Detroit when the first wave hit; and give people the false security that a solution to the pandemic had been found.

    It’s an article of faith on the Right and beyond that Covid was nothing more than a tool in service of some nebulous WEF agenda. From the Great Barrington Declaration to the trash issuing from the Heartland Institute of tobacco infamy, a whole industry has been built up to deny the whole idea of public health along with the germ theory of disease.

    In reality, the open conspiracy has been to minimize Covid in service of next quarter’s earnings report.

    1. zagonostra

      For me, Kyle Kolinski isn’t a valid source of commentary anymore, though I used to listen to him in the early days.

      What would have been much more entertaining would have been to have focused on the mental gymnastics that Williamson has to do to support the war machine and funding of U.S.’s Ukraine proxy war. Peterson, having some clinical background in the area, might have been able to provide some professional help.

  16. Appleseed

    In today’s email from Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)
    “After May 11, 2023, Medicare will no longer cover or pay for over-the-counter (OTC) COVID-19 tests. If you’re enrolled in a Medicare Advantage Plan, you may have more access to tests depending on your benefits. Make sure to check with your plan.”

    So glad to hear COVID is over! (/sarc) Sounds like Rule #2 is alive and well. I’ll continue masking and limiting the amount of time I spend in crowded indoor spaces.

    1. Bsn

      Yep, sad but true. A good friend (she and I’ve been good friends since 1st grade) of mine in their mid 60s has long, difficult Covid. She’s just now losing her Medicaid assistance and is on a fixed income with only Medicare. Can’t imagine why the Dems will lose this next election (unless RFK Jr. is not assassinated).

  17. Mikel

    “All strikes planned for May 2023 – from trains to teachers” Metro UK

    Maybe that teen mag (Teen Vogue was it?) in the USA can compile a list of strikes in the USA.
    Didn’t they have a labor beat?

  18. The Rev Kev

    ‘Wall Street Silver
    China has installed 1 billion surveillance cameras.
    The results were predictable.’

    There is a TV series here in Oz that features what is captured on CCTV and has similar stuff. Just goes to show you that the Chinese are just like us – with the usual supply of goofballs and unlucky people. Not as good as Candid Camera though.

  19. Lexx

    ‘All-you-can-eat buffet restaurants are back’ CNN

    A business model that was near extinction and should stay that way. It’s cheap quantity being sustained by the illusion of quality, as proven by the hour’s long report of one’s overly full gut. If burping, farting, and toilet-clogging BM’s aren’t evidence you got your monies worth, what is?

    There’s this video on Youtube that predicts the demise of 15 corporations in the next year, one of which is already out of business (Tuesday Morning) The CEO’s of three of them are crowing in the article about how they’re pulling in business from the Tesla-driving set, by way of saying ‘that’s right, every time you purchase anything at our registers, we’re also taking note of your annual income… yes, we know how much money you make and how much debt you’re in’. And that those customers have priorities like mortgages and car payments, so cheap cheese, crackers, and a pickle for dinner will have to do. Rich people like a good deal too… and if the elite crowd is shopping at our stores, we’ll be just fine. This is damage control via CNN.

    Oh, there’s a buffet being set out and it’s us.

    1. Carolinian

      I’ve eaten at Golden Corral and the food isn’t terrible from a Southern Cooking perspective. And they are popular, perhaps more reflecting the ever increasing girth of my fellow Americans than the business model.

      As for CNN, that was barely an article.

    2. kareninca

      I liked Fresh Choice because you could take a little bit of a lot of different things.

      And, for broke people, it is especially cheering to not have to choose. If this is your one treat of the week (or month), if it is a buffet then you won’t have to decide on one thing on the menu, and then wait a month before getting to have something different. You can have a reasonable amount of each at the same time. And there is a feeling of bountifulness, which is a happy thing for people who don’t get that often. I find the existence of all you can eat buffets cheering. I don’t eat out anymore, but if I did I would go to one of the Indian ones in my area.

    3. some guy

      Here in Ann Arbor, the middle and high-ish end non-chain restaurant buffets that existed in the city all shut down during covid. So far very few of them have returned and I don’t here of any plans for any of them to be returning. There could still be mass-quantity-feeding buffets available at various buffet chains outside of town.

      In Ann Arbor itself, I hear of one hotel restaurant having a Sunday Brunch buffet and the Student Dorms around the University will still sell you a meal ticket if you want to experience a dorm buffet. Maybe a couple of midrange Chinese restaurants still have their utility buffets, but I haven’t checked.

  20. Wukchumni

    Amazing conditions on skid row @ Mammoth on a 3 day skein-a 3 day skein of skiing.

    I cannot believe how much snow there still is on the mountain in the aftermath of our bountiful winter, there will be skiing until August, perhaps.

  21. YOTJ

    I’m confused about the inequity and excess deaths link. Excess deaths in the low income countries were half those in high income countries, despite far less vaccination. How does that make the headline conclusion that vaccine equity would have saved lives? If there’s any conclusion there (and I’m not saying this is valid, just what could be concluded), it’s that fewer vaccines in the wealthy world would have saved lives. The real question from this data is why more highly vaccinated countries had more excess deaths — why is no one asking that question?

    1. cfraenkel

      Yes, it seemed to me to be the authors seeing what they want to see in the results. What I got out of it instead was ‘so the vaccines didn’t work’. More carefully – relying on vaccines only worked worse than the traditional community health measures used in places where they didn’t have as much access to the vaccines.

  22. Mikel

    Digital Watch: AI’s facial recognition failures: Three times crime solving intelligence got it wrong FOX

    “…Law enforcement’s use of artifical intelligence-driven facial recognition puts everyone into what one expert called a “perpetual police line-up,” and studies show it’s more likely the finger will be pointed at the wrong person if they’re Black or Asian…”

    Based on previous reputation, an unexpected opener for a Fox affiliated site.

    Here’s a goody from Mother Jones for Digital Watch:
    “How Nature Metaphors Shade Technology Companies from Scrutiny”
    New innovations are not ephemeral abstractions, nor are they elemental processes out of our control.

    Me: looking at economists.

    But not surprising that the fintech world peddles the same game.

  23. orlbucfan

    Yo, Lambert:

    This is way off-topic, but I need to know if you received my donation? I sent it out close to a month ago, but have seen no confirmation. I’ve been checking my bank account, as well as email per your instructions. Please let me know. Many thanks!


    1. GF

      Same here Lambert and I even sent you an email asking if you received it and got no response. And it hasn’t cleared the bank yet.

  24. Jason Boxman

    From the department of who f**king cares: Tech Workers Aren’t as Rich as They Used to Be

    Ms. Voigt, 27, paid off her student loans and bought a car in cash. She maxed out her 401(k) and socked $500,000 away in a brokerage account. She easily covered twice-weekly therapy sessions and costly visits to the hair salon every few months. When she felt burned out by the pandemic, she took a year off from work.

    But they’re still rich. Senior FAANG engineers make at least 200-250k, plus options and other benefits. (Staff engineers make even more, 300+.) Only WSJ would write a sob story about them. The median U.S. income in 2021 was $69,717.

      1. Jason Boxman

        Doesn’t say what a “tech worker” is. Indeed says: $150,992 for senior software engineers

        Salary estimated from 31 employees, users, and past and present job advertisements on Indeed in the past 12 months. Last updated: April 26, 2023

        Or check out Levels.FYI:

        Not everyone gets a FAANG salary, but senior and staff engineers routinely make at least the low six figures, full stop.

        Or from your links:

        But tech professionals with highly specialized skills did nearly as well, especially in roles that impact company strategies and tech stacks. For example, solutions architects earned an average of $155,934 in 2022, just ahead of principal software engineers* ($153,288) and systems architects* ($151,364). Cybersecurity engineers, cloud architects and program analysts/managers also earned significant checks.

        So, “tech professionals” rolls up a LOT of roles in tech, from QA to technical writing to product management to project management to actual software development, and so on. If you skip all that and just look at senior+ software engineers, they make bank.

    1. cfraenkel

      Nothing will change until we get to the point where the 6 figure income folks feel like they have more in common with us 5 figure folks than they do with their 7+ figure betters.

      So have a little sympathy and encourage this sort of awakening.

      1. Jason Boxman

        I’m not sure there is any awakening, this is just reduction in equity compensation. The nice six figure paydays continue apace, for those not laid off. And for anyone that is, there’s likely a new six figure job awaiting, just not quite as highly paid as FAANG.


        “Context is critical,” Herbert said. “The recent pullback represents a relatively small fraction of the massive tech workforce. The long-term outlook remains unchanged with demand for tech talent powering employment gains across the economy.”

  25. Jason Boxman

    Corporate Giants Buy Up Primary Care Practices at Rapid Pace

    Large health insurers and other companies are especially keen on doctors’ groups that care for patients in private Medicare plans.

    And there’s an added lure: The growing privatization of Medicare, the federal health insurance program for older Americans, means that more than half its 60 million beneficiaries have signed up for policies with private insurers under the Medicare Advantage program. The federal government is now paying those insurers $400 billion a year.

    “That’s the big pot of money everyone is aiming at,” said Erin C. Fuse Brown, director of the Center for Law, Health & Society at Georgia State University, and an author of a New England Journal of Medicine article about corporate investment in primary care. “It’s a one-stop shop for all your health care dollars,” she said.

    Continued crapification of the “healthcare” system.

    1. JonnyJames

      Yep, it should be well-known that the US does not have a health care system, it has a privatized patchwork of neo-feudal fiefdoms. It is tantamount to a giant extortion racket. The US Health Extortion Racket will simply get worse: hospital closures, declining average life-expectancy, declining health outcomes.

      But no one wants to talk about it. It’s easy to forget about until one becomes bankrupted from medical extortion costs not covered by “insurance”. But for those of us lucky ones, we can flee the country and find affordable, quality health care abroad.

      1. Chas

        “Health care” in the USA is a misnomer. It’s deceptive to be connecting health and care because it makes the public think there will be a positive outcome by participating in the “health care” system. A better term might be the “disease and injury care system.” But something tells me it will never catch on.

  26. JonnyJames

    Who is the blue-check Twitter Twat Nick Adams? (Alpha Male). Is that a spoof? for real? Or is this dude just a garden variety sociopath-narcissist-egomaniac @$$*!% ?

    If dude had that attitude (in person) around here, he would end up in the hospital (or worse) very quickly.

  27. Offtrail

    That massive new US embassy compound in Beirut resembles Krak Des Chevaliers. The new Crusaders.

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