Links 6/25/2023

A thawed rat organ frozen for 100 days was successfully transplanted in game-changing world first ZME Science

The Hunga Tonga eruption sparked the highest-altitude lightning ever recorded Science News

Earth’s thermosphere reaches highest temperature in 20 years after being bombarded by solar storms


The Loony Conspiracy Theory Threatening Wall Street Forbes


Cities ask their residents to conserve water as drought deepens across the central U.S. Harvest Public Media

Texas farmers are worried one of the state’s most precious water resources is running dry. You should be, too. The Texas Tribune

International Lenders Continue Pouring Money Into Meat and Dairy, Despite Climate Promises Inside Climate News

From factory to field, fertilizer is a huge source of planet-warming emissions Investigate Midwest

Toxic Bomb Trains

EXCLUSIVE: EPA Official Admits There’s No Evidence to Support Norfolk Southern’s Detonation of Five Vinyl Chloride Cars in East Palestine, Railroad Performed Prohibited Open Burn Status Coup. The deck: Four of [the cars] were not showing signs of stress yet,” EPA official says in video obtained by SC. Admission shows “they did this to get the [train] lines open,” hazardous waste expert tells SC.


COVID cases surge in Okinawa amid concern over possible medical system collapse The Mainichi (MR)

Will the pandemic have an effect on men’s fertility in the long term? Steve Robson

A COVID-like virus recently leaped from animals to humans—and ‘we can expect more spillover,’ scientists say. Will ‘Langya’ cause the next pandemic? Fortune

Old Blighty

How Brexit betrayed the UK fishing industry Politico EU

Kyrgyzstan: As Russia’s appeal fades for laborers, British farms call Eurasianet


U.S To transform India Into Naval Logistics Hub For Indo-Pacific Region Marine Insight


US will lose its ‘huge bets’ on China’s neighboring region Global Times

Can China fix youth unemployment woes with military recruitment drive? South China Morning Post


US files first-ever charges against Chinese fentanyl manufacturers Reuters

Where China stands on Fentanyl Pekingnology

ASML caught in Dutch oven with China export restrictions The Register

China scientists turn to ‘Terminator’ liquid metal in alloy breakthrough South China Morning Post

New Not-So-Cold War

Westerners Cheering For Prigozhin Want Another World War Andrew Korybko’s Newsletter

Alas, it was not meant to be:

Head Of US Military Cancels Middle East Trip Amid Russia Crisis AFP. Sullivan also cancels trip to Ukraine conference in Denmark.

Kiev Covers Up Plans to Create Emergency at Zaporozhye NPP by Blaming Russia – Moscow Sputnik


Scott Ritter: Ukrainian Counteroffensive Turning Into ‘Suicide Mission’ Sputnik

Russia ‘Decimates’ Storm Shadow Firing Su-24MR Fighter Airbase In Ukraine Over Missile Attack On Crimea The Eurasian Times


Leader of German AfD party speaks of war’s ending, compares Ukraine to Nazi Germany Ukrainska Pravda

Bandera Youth of Cleveland Bandera Lobby Blog


In defiance of sanctions, Iran’s oil exports on the rise: Minister Al Mayadeen

Sri Lanka, Iran bypass US sanctions through tea for oil barter The Cradle

Congress doubles down on Middle East defense architecture in NDAA markups Al-Monitor

Imperial Collapse Watch

Unilateral Coercive Measures: Effects and Legality Issues Yale Journal of International Law

South of the Border

Spook Country

New Docs Link CIA to Medical Torture of Indigenous Children and Black Prisoners Truthout

Biden Administration

“Everybody Needs to Back Off!”: The Media and Political Figures Continue to Ignore the Biden Corruption Scandal Jonathan Turley

WSJ Attacks Antitrust Champion Lina Khan Every 11 Days Since FTC Appointment FAIR

Semi-Politics Phenomenal World. “Intel and the future of US chipmaking.”

Realignment and Legitimacy

FBI CONDEMNED: Idaho GOP Unanimously Passes Resolution Condemning the FBI — Calls For “Abolition” of “Corrupt Government Agency” Idaho Tribune

The Supremes

Why Biden’s student-loan forgiveness plan might not be doomed after 2 new rulings from conservative Supreme Court justices Business Insider

Libertarian Squillionaire Titanic Submersible Darwin Award Winner

The Titan tragedy won’t stop the super-rich from embarking on ‘extreme’ travel, an adventure tourism expert says Business Insider

What Is Extreme Tourism For? Defector

How companies like SpaceX transformed space travel into the Wild West New York Post


The Biotech Edge: How Executives and Well-Connected Investors Make Exquisitely Timed Trades in Health Care Stocks ProPublica

Measure to cap Los Angeles hospital executive pay will head to voters Becker’s Hospital Review

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Lost in Transit: Digitization of Mail Expands Surveillance Beyond Prisons Logic(s)

Your New Car Is Watching You And Collecting Your Data Jalopnik


Quality of new vehicles in US declining on more tech use, study shows Reuters

Groves of Academe

Harvard’s New Computer Science Teacher Is a Chatbot PC Mag

Harvard Scholar Who Studies Honesty Is Accused of Fabricating Findings New York Times


The people paid to train AI are outsourcing their work… to AI MIT Technology Review

Here come the “metahumans”: Virtual avatars have real jobs in Indonesia Rest of World


Android’s emergency call shortcut is flooding dispatchers with false calls Ars Technica

Robotaxis keep tangling with San Francisco firetrucks. And L.A. is next Los Angeles Times

Our Famously Free Press

Why Julian Assange Must Be Freed Matt Taibbi, Racket News

The Great Debating Debate The Wayward Rabbler. Rogan/RFK v. Hotez

Meta Goes ‘Nuclear’ Over Canadian Online News Act That Ignores Root of Journalism Crisis Common Dreams

Class Warfare

There Is Always An Alternative Cory Doctorow

Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Old Sovietologist

    The Wagner circus ends it tour of Western Russia.

    Putin will have been heartened by the unanimous support he received form the political leaders across the federation and the security services. I think he can be happy with the conclusion, and he’s come out of unscathed. However, this must leave a dent on his prestige and the possibility that he would have been forced to use Chechen’s against Russian Wagner forces would have been disastrous for his leadership and would have seen Russia head into a bloody civil war.

    The American media has been bragging that their intelligence knew of Prigozhin’s “March on Moscow”. If that’s true, what does it say about Ukraine’s capacity to take advantage of the chaos that clearly engulfed Russia for a few hours.

    As for the big winner out of this has got to be Alexander Lukashenko. The President of Belarus saved the day. Russia came close to disaster on Saturday and his intervention saved thousands of lives. His prestige in Russia hasn’t always been the highest, the man’s old Stalinist after all.

    Russia owes Belarus after this circus and after this if I was the Poles, Balts and other NATO govts I would be concerned that in the event of a Polish invasion of Belarus that Lukashenko will be given the green light by Putin to use the tactical nuclear weapons on Belarus soil against the invading forces. After this I would be surprised if Poles were so stupid to gamble on this front.

    Finally, the award for the thick as mince award for Sunday. Standup former chief of the UK general staff, Lord Richard Dannatt.

    He speculates that Prigozhin and Wagner could be used to attack Kiev from Belarus. Does he really believe this drivel?

    He might have been better speculating that Wagner could be used to defend the Belarus border from an incursion by the Poles & Baltic States. Even a NATO equipped Polish Army would get a bloody nose from the best assault infantry in the world.

    Although I’m not in this was a Russian psy·op camp. The transfer of 25,000 battle hardened Wagner with all their weapons moves do make things interesting.

    I’m supposed to be in Minsk for a wedding next weekend so I’m hoping the Poles don’t try anything while I’m there.

    1. Darthbobber

      I believe that it’s just Prigozhin who goes to Belarus, while a reconfigured Wagner goes wherever the ministry of defense decides.

      1. Old Sovietologist

        As long as Shoigu remains in position I suspect the majority of Wagner forces won’t integrate. Too much bad blood. If he’s gone then things may be different.

        If PMC Wagner do go to Belarus then that country has the best army in Europe which given what the Poles and Baltic States wont to Belarus would be far useful to Russia at this point.

    2. Young

      Is it possible that this whole show was the cover for moving Wagner assets to Minsk in preperation for “March from Minsk to Kiev” eventually?

      1. Old Sovietologist

        I found this interesting

        NATO fears a nuclear incident, in connection with which the alliance and the Russian Ministry of Defence held “informal contacts” on the situation with the Wagner PMC.

        It also for explains why Sunak held a Cobra meeting on Saturday.

        NATO for all its dislike for Putin knows he’s the guarantor of Russia’s nuclear weapons. If any of them fall into the hands of a rogue then that’s very dangerous situation.

    3. Willow

      Psyop no, maskirovka yes. Prigozhin/Shoigu drama likely a deception for a change in the theatre of war. Dnipro line too heavily mined to push through without high cost.

      1. Yves Smith

        Sorry, this makes no sense. In a world of ISR, everyone knows where troop formations are. Does not matter in you move quickly or slowly. What matters is the disposition.

    1. The Rev Kev

      It reminds me of a Far Side cartoon I saw this week where you see this predatory bird through the sight of a pair of binoculars staring at you. In the nest was a bunch of binoculars and torn hats.

    2. griffen

      I’m preferable to a simple breakfast with scrambled eggs, but that’s just being picky. I guess if rat was ever on the menu I’d prefer it well done and plenty of barbecue sauce.

      1. Anon

        Eating rat, implies a dearth of luxury. Condiments withstanding, I’d eat the mayonnaise before I ate rat.

    3. ambrit

      “Brain! Brain! Is that you? Narf!”
      And there goes another of Vicky Neuland’s closest advisors.

    4. some guy

      The eagle does not look Harpy to me. I don’t know what it does look like. But it does not look Harpy.,

      I hope someone who knows will tell us what kind of eagle ( or super-large hawk) this is.

  2. rob

    the article in Fortune , about the “danger”/ “threat” of this virus called “langya” which is similar to covid; needs a post script.

    In the article is does a hell of a job of scaremongering to the public of something that COULD become a threat to humanity.
    Well, they need to add, that this virus that isn’t very infectious now, SHOULD NOT be taken by ANY defense dept. contractor at NIIAD(in any country), and have pieces added to the existing virus which would make it extremely effective at being infectious to humans.
    If they want to “protect us” , they ought to stop making these bio-weapons….. to see what “someone else” might do.

    just saying

    1. some guy

      Perhaps this whole article is just a “diversionary cover story” to pre-divert attention away from laboratories which are already doing that very thing.

  3. The Rev Kev

    “U.S To transform India Into Naval Logistics Hub For Indo-Pacific Region”

    The article says that the US ‘will aid India in developing its naval and maritime infrastructure to create an Indo-Pacific regional hub for ship repairs and maintenance.’ What it will be is actually an advanced base for the US & NATO to be aimed at China. India may think that they are very smart doing this because they know that the US will always have their back. Well, except for that time they sent a Task Force against India in the middle of one of their wars. Maybe they should ask the Ukraine how well that is working out for them. It would not be well for the Indians to learn that this Hub will be knows as the Transport Acceleration for Rapid Geopolitical Ecosystem Training hub.

    1. Phenix

      The US is the dominant naval power. We are not a dominant land based power. Ukraine and India/Taiwan are different scenarios.

      I do not think that the Indians will let an opportunity to take markets away from China. India controls the waters that China needs to generate a trade surplus. Is the BRI about avoiding China’s naval weakness?

      People think that shipping overland will be cheaper than maritime transport. I do not understand how that can be true.

      1. The Rev Kev

        It’s true if the US and NATO cut off those shipping lanes to the west. That is why the shift in logistics for China – so that critical supplies where possible go overland.

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        Modern electric rail is a significant improvement over older models, and existing security reduces piracy. Rail is more integrated with last leg deliveries reducing issues. Rail reduces trucks. There are some nifty model sail boats, but they haven’t been integrated the same way. With rail, there isn’t a need for a trade protection navy.

        This is the other issue. Its not a one to one comparison, but a system comparison.

        1. Betty

          In thinking about the functions of railroads, what about the commercial USA USA rail system today? It seems to be creating massive harm for the people who live nearby the tracks.

          1. Phenix

            We are generations behind in rail tech. Our PTB do not care about domestic infrastructure needs. Hopefully that is changing but I highly doubt the US will enter the modern world while neoliberals and neoconservatives still rule DC.

            1. JTMcPhee

              And corporate persons can buy themselves whatever “laws” and policies further their interest, “all nice and legal-like, see?”

              If the corps don’t get killed off, along with hamstringing the individuals who figure out how to game the political economy and loot it, everything will stay substantially the same.

              Good luck with that.

              The world of “Harrison Bergeron” seems on reflection to have a lot to recommend it, seeing it from the perspective of a mope no longer wowed by the “acrobatics of success” or the mawkish libertarian bullpucky.

        2. Phenix

          China will have to maintain their BRI infrastructure for it to make sense. That is what puzzles me. They are building on areas that are not hospitable to people or infrastructure. They are also entering a demographic collapse so who is going to maintain their infrastructure?

          Ocean shipping is able to move more material that trains and I assume you have less handling/transferring of containers.

          I can not envision a period where shipping petroleum products is cheaper or uses less energy on rail than sea.

          The global system is breaking down. China’s bet is that the BRI will isolate it from US naval dominance. I hope that they are half right. Hopefully there will not be a war as long as re the US and China are interconnected.

          1. some guy

            If China’s population gets cut in half from the current 1.4 billion to a future 750 million people, that will still be enough people to maintain a BRI infrastructure with. And if the parts of BRI which are in other countries are profitable to the people of those other countries, those other countries will help maintain their own self-interest-enhancing parts of BRI.

            So this shouldn’t be a problem.

            1. Phenix

              The population will not be cut in half. China’s demography is awful.

              They have over reported their birth rate for years and now it appears they were over by 100 million. Yves linked to the article. A clever scientist looked at vaccine data to get an accurate picture.

    2. hk

      What I wonder is if India will let US use the base facilities the way US will want to when it might not be compatible with Indian interests. True, this applies to most of US allies, in principle, but US can browbeat most of them at will, I’d think. One notable exception was Turkey during the invasion of Iraq, when inability to use Turkish bases led to problems for US planning. Now, India is far larger, has had far more complicated relations with US, and has pretensions of being a superpower in its own right which is getting increasingly justified. I just don’t see whatever base infrastructure US builds in India not being expropriated by India at a time of their choosing, or, at least, their use denied to US most of the time

  4. griffen

    Flamethrower on a robotic dog. It’s even got a nickname, the Thermonator….I think the quotable Rapture Ready Index deserves a refresh with products like this coming to market and in combination with the early heat waves.

    Just for those occasions when you just need to shoot fire up to 30 feet. I am curious to see a liability release once purchased. ( sarc )

    1. The Rev Kev

      It sure would be bad if somebody hacked those robots at their Lakewood, Ohio factory causing those dog robots to run amok with their flamethrowers like something out of Skynet. They should stick with their special effects department instead-

      1. some guy

        Unless of course they could all be hacker-programmed to run amok within the Lakewood, Ohio factory itself, burning it down to the ground its own self, thereby solving the problem, at least for a while.

    2. semper loquitur

      It gets much worse:


      “That’s where ChatGPT comes in,” he continued. “We show it the configuration files and the mission results. We then ask questions using that context. Put that together with a voice-enabled interface, and we have an awesome way to query our data!”

      Wow, like a real live dog it eats it’s own $hit! Yay!

      1. Sub-Boreal

        Eagerly awaiting the next match-up: flamethrowing robot dog meets self-driving Tesla.

          1. ambrit

            Much less “Goldmember.”
            Bezos has already got the “Phallus in Space” project “up and running.” The competition is stiff….

          2. The Infamous Oregon Lawhobbit

            Already been imagined. Sorta.

            Along the Scenic Route by Harlan Ellison. In …. 1969.

        1. Sub-Boreal

          Perhaps we finally get an answer to the age-old question: what does the dog do when it actually catches the car it was chasing?

          1. ambrit

            Alas, I actually had a dog, a Welsh Border Collie, who did exactly that. He ‘caught’ two cars over the years and died of old age. (The vet laughed the second time we bought doggo in. “My, my. Trying to be a cat? Even they only get one try at it.”)

    3. Mildred Montana

      Anybody remember this? It was posted here two-and-a-half years ago. It’s a video of dancing robots that went viral:

      My question is, What happened to those agile bi-peds in the video? How come we’re not seeing them wielding flame-throwers, a la the Terminator? How come still lowly quadrupeds? Could it be that Boston Dynamics hasn’t yet mastered bi-pedal locomotion (despite the video)?

      I’ve always thought the dancing robots video was a promotional scam, a trick of clever programming with controlled inputs—or something else. I still think the same. The nervous system function of proprioception (necessary for balance and movement) is a bitch for robot-makers. I suspect they haven’t mastered it yet—except in their carefully crafted videos. That’s why they’ve gone to the dogs.

      1. griffen

        Yeah, I recall a lot of hype and hullabaloo about this and a few other “breaking news” on the walking, not talking robots. Maybe it’s more of a fiction instead of reality…I mean the android on the Nostromo wasn’t a trustworthy resource for the crew after all ( unless it was Weyland Corporation trusting in Ash !).

      2. vao

        I remember to have seen a video of a robodog fitted with an assault rifle of some sort. The tests did not go well, as the recoil was enough to make the robodog veer uncontrollably and then tip over.

      3. David Morris

        Boston Dynamics will not make weapons. When it started selling its robotic dog, Spot, it came with a stipulation that it not be used for harmful purposes. Not only is its technology more advanced. Its ethics appear to be as well.

  5. Onward to Dystopia

    So lemme see, we were told for years: Ukraine full of nazi, and that Bad™, but suddenly Ukraine Good™, because Russia Bad™. Then we are told, “You no like nazi, huh? hahaha, well Russia nazi too because Wagner are nazi, hahaha I am very intelligent.” But then Wagner Good™, because they mutiny against Bad Russia™, but maybe Wagner Bad™ after all because no overturn Bad Putin Hitler Man 2.0™.
    Very confusing, I think maybe the West just likes nazis.

    1. digi_owl

      The monied has always loved thugs they can aim at someone else and yell “sic em!”.

      Back in the day they though the nazis was that, and that they could aim them at the communists.

      But they underestimated Hitler’s desire for a theatrical revenge for WW1.

    2. John Zelnicker

      Onward – The West, mostly the US, has liked Nazi’s for at least 8 decades, going back to Henry Ford’s and Fred Koch’s support of Hitler. Then, after WWII, hundreds, if not thousands of Nazi’s, were brought into the US through Operation Paperclip.

      One reason was to get the scientists like Werner von Braun who were involved in the development of German weapons, another was to build a cadre of fierce anti-Communists. The US has feared communism/socialism ever since the Bolshevik Revolution because it offers the working class a better life and tends to impair the obscene accumulation of wealth.

    3. some guy

      Well, not the “West” in general, necessarily, but certainly the Deep Factional NaziPaperclippers who govern some of the Western countries. They like Nazis because they are nazis and always have been, ever since the 1930s.

      ” Gangsta knows gangsta” as comedian Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias quotes Snoopy Doggy Dog as once having said.

  6. Lexx

    ‘Cities ask their residents to conserve water as drought deepens across the central U.S.’

    ‘The city’s 11,307 residents are asked to minimize washing their cars, watering their grass and flowers between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. and powerwashing their driveways. Residents are also asked to apply for a permit to fill up their swimming pools to avoid guzzling gallons of water during the city’s peak water usage time.

    Cities ask their residents to conserve water as drought deepens across the central U.S.’Meanwhile, the city has minimized its water use by reducing lawn sprinkling on city properties, baseball fields and golf courses.’

    I’m picking a nit here, it’s probably one of those ‘legal entity’ things… but Storm Lake is only slightly larger than the ‘town’ I grew up in. I think you need a lot more people to call yourselves a ‘city’.

    Also, median income $49K, per capita $24K in 2021. Are there likely to be a lot of swimming pools, above or below ground? It’s like a Smokey Bear warning, ‘Yes, this means YOU two houses in town with above ground pools you bought at Costco, where all the kids hang out every summer… make other plans (and get over yourselves, you’re not better than the rest of us)!!!

    1. The Rev Kev

      I’m a bit leery about stories like this that don’t give any context to the story. So I would like to know where that tiny town sources it’s water from and who else is drawing water from that same source. Then see if the Pareto Principle is of any use to see where 20% of that water is going. What makes me think about this is other regions where 80% of the water of the region went to agriculture and 20% on urban supplies but the authorities wanted the savings to come from the urban sector. Even if the water is sourced from local lakes and creeks all goes to Guthrie, just where is that 80% going?

      1. Mikel

        “…and who else is drawing water from that same source…”

        This is now at the forefront of my mind whenever I hear anything about “water crisis” anywhere in the world.
        IMHO, it’s the number 1 thing to consider first.

        1. Bart Hansen

          And where does the water come from that the military sends all over the World to our hundreds of bases and conflict zones? How many pallets of bottled water per day?

          1. hunkerdown

            It’s nothing compared to what’s consumed in chipmaking and other industrial processes.

      2. ex-PFC Chuck

        Guthrie Center Is in west central IA about 40 miles from Des Moines. It’s near the raccoon river but I doubt if they get their water from that source, since most of the lakes and rivers in that state are in bad shape because of the influence of the farmers and big agriculture on the legislature. Art Cullen of the Storm Lake Times won his Pulitzer Prize by writing about those issues. It’s my understanding that most small towns in Iowa get their water from wells.

    2. Wukchumni

      We were another dry year away from a major crisis if this past winter didn’t come through, and it was akin to hitting the lottery, how are you going to spend your 78 trillion gallon winnings? I get asked all the time.

      Fast women, sloe gin and a mess of liter Nalgene bottles…

      1. griffen

        On the weekly ABC news and propaganda channel ( Sarc ! ) this morning there was coverage about the increasing risk to navigating the West Coast rapid waters due to the record snowfall. I didn’t listen closely to know exactly which river they featured, but mention it in passing. Increasing the risk of being in a raft or a kayak, and more likelihood of rescues being necessary.

        Darwin award candidates, please seat yourself at the front of the raft !!

    3. Utah

      I grew up in a town of 1400 people. We were on well water for the town. Farmers had a dearth of canals from the river that ran through town, they weren’t on the “same” water. We weren’t allowed to have swimming pools, even above ground because there wasn’t enough water. But the county had one tiny Olympic sized swimming pool and the rates were really cheap to incentivize it’s use. I’m pretty sure we would get a fine if we watered the lawn in the day. I think growing up in a desert has just made me immune to these things. Of course you shouldn’t water in the day, it kills the grass and the sun soaks up the water faster. Now that I’m in a city I realize that people don’t know or don’t have common sense, or most likely just don’t care and they want their grass as green as possible, in a desert, which the Midwest could easily become thanks to climate change and aridification

  7. griffen

    Rich people offer their guests a convenient option to A. have a glass of champagne and B. avoid necessary personal contact with any lower class peasants and the staff. Obviously the staff needs to filter for any “Fight Club” Tyler Durden characters or else that champagne glass might be, ahem, something else entirely.

    I dunno, maybe they included a tips window that the staff collect and split? Perhaps not, on second thought, that requires consideration of others. In all honesty, is using InstaCart much different? Asking for a friend, of course.

    1. El Slobbo

      Here’s the link to the company offering this.

      1. I thought it was kind of cute and whimsical, and the reaction of the young lady in the clip indicates that she also thinks it’s fun.
      2. The web page makes it sound like a very popular party thing, and $900 extra for this doesn’t sound like a “rich person” thing.
      3. I used to serve as a teenager, and honestly, I think my colleagues would agree with me that it’s more the servers who’d prefer not to have contact with the drinkers than the other way around.

      1. ambrit

        Uh, about your point number two. Around here in the North American Deep South, that $900 USD is often a month’s living expenses.
        Big weddings mystify me. It seems to be a throwback to feudal times when the bride was literally a possession to be exchanged with the groom’s family in return for various “favours.”
        We were, are, and will probably go to our graves semi-socialists. We started out as hippies. What changed our outlooks and behaviours was the realization that the “hippy” lifestyle depended upon having access to a source of “disposable income.” [There’s that ‘access’ word again. As we discovered, ‘access’ does not automatically translate into ‘possession.’] So, the conspicuous consumption that underlies moderne big wedding events is a class marker deluxe.
        We were married in the oldest church in Covington Louisiana. A wood framed traditional style place.
        Evidently, we were the last marriage performed there. It was a small affair. Phyl made her own outfit and I wore my old waiters three piece “formal” suit. Both families and a few friends attended. The reception was at Phyl’s folks house, catered by the family. Simple, cheap, and so far still a going concern. I would be surprised if we spent over $250 USD for the entire affair.
        Incidentally, I have worked as a waiter when younger and fully agree with El Slobbo and his colleagues about dealing with “drinkers.” Drunks come in all sorts, and they run the gamut from embarrassing to downright dangerous. The worst one I encountered was Carlos Marcello. (Yes, that Carlos Marcello.) I helped ‘bus’ a big table of goons, made men, wise guys and associated whores overseen by the New Orleans Big Shot. He was a mean drunk. I was glad when that party left the place.

        1. wol

          Covington, the ‘stray animal belt’, the colorful home of Theo Von.

          Too NSFW to provide a link.

          1. ambrit

            I believe that Theo Von is really from Mandeville, to the south of Covington. As for the “stray aminals,” I have told the story before about watching the “authorities” trying to catch monkeys that escaped from the Tulane Primate Centre, which is just across the Bogue Falaya River from downtown Covington. Those minkeys, to use Clouseau’s pronunciation, are used in biological experiments and can carry some seriously dangerous pathogens. That they escape so easily is a real problem. [Although it does suggest an explanation for the “weirdness” of the town.]
            Really, all of Louisiana is NSFW.

            1. swangeese

              There is an area that is unincorporated that has a Covington address, but really is right outside of Mandeville city limits. Theo isn’t from Covington proper because he went to Mandeville High. We went to high school together, but not in the same class. His stories can be funny, but the northshore in general is gentrified and preppy-even back in the 90s when he was a teen.

              Other than corruption, we have a lot of drugs and sex offenders. That and the quest to cut down every tree.

              The monkeys that escaped from the Primate Center were the ones only used for breeding or so we were told. I think they are the only ones with access to the outside. I would hope that infected research monkeys would be in a secure indoor facility.

              Anyhow I seem to recall that they may have hardened the place after PETA started protesting there.

        2. digi_owl

          What is interesting is that i think the big wedding thing is something hyped by the media industry and aimed squarely at the bride. Seriously, there are whole TV shows out there that is all about brides to be finding the right wedding dress. Complete with squealing sisters/friends, and (grand-)parents fretting about cost and the amount of skin on display.

      2. Tom Doak

        I just assumed the hosts wanted the “help” masked without making their guests think about it. So considerate of them!

    2. Will

      Didn’t Jefferson introduce innovative service tools at Monticello so food could be served without the slaves being visible? I guess people really do want to go back to the good ol’ days…

      1. The Rev Kev

        One American visitor to an English Country estate late in the 19th century was startled when servants that he saw immediately turned to the wall and stood there until they had passed. He then realized that that was their standing orders so that guests would not have to see their faces. I often suspect that our betters want to go back to the days when everybody had their own servants who would live in the cellar or ceiling or some other nook and cranny. And here I am talking about the middle class. There is even an echo of this lifestyle with Alice in “The Brady Bunch.”

        1. ambrit

          There is a quote from Agatha Christie from later in her life where she remarked that the modern world upset all of her expectations. She had never imagined that almost anyone could afford a motorcar, and never, never imagined that personal servants would be out of reach for the majority of even the middle classes.
          Expectations friends. What will future generations, assuming that there are any, be amazed that we all could afford to have that they cannot: food, clean water, personal security?

          1. digi_owl

            Much of that is likely down to WW2. It massively expanded the industries that could pivot to cars, thus driving down the pr unit cost, while at the same time expanded the notion of women’s work.

            As i recall, it was not really so much a personal servant she lamented as that of a household maid. And those where often young girls/ladies. After all, until WW2 it was mostly that or secretarial work for single ladies.

            And oddly enough, one place that has held onto that is Hong Kong. Some years back i saw a small article and video about a gathering of young ladies at a mall there. They were all domestic servants, most of them either from mainland China or the south Asian nations.

            As i recall, the reason for them gathering as they did was that most of their pay was in the form of room and board. Thus they could not afford much entertainment when they were allowed time off.

            Though now that i think about it, i have seen some recent bruhaha here in Norway regarding households abusing the au pair system to effectively gain a domestic servant. Last i read there were plans to either end or reform it.

          2. TimH

            I remember characters in AC’s between-wars novels complaining that it was difficult to get good servants. She loved the rigid class structures where labourers took off their hats to the nobs and called their ‘betters’ sir when addressed, and wrote those behaviours into the plots.

            1. digi_owl

              WW1 really did a number on both the empire and the class structure. And then WW2 finished the job. And the nation has not recovered since, least of all politically.

              1. Mildred Montana

                As John Kenneth Galbraith wrote, “World War I was indeed the great war. World War II was its final battle.”

              1. ambrit

                To add extra insult to injury, in Anglo circles, the term “n—-r” also referred to India Indians. In effect, anyone who did not “glow in the dark.”
                Basic ‘Divisional Racialism’ as applied to “subject populations.”

    3. digi_owl

      Dunno when or where i first learned of them, but the video jogged a memory of something called a wine window. Seems to be somewhat common around Florence.

    4. Sub-Boreal

      Perhaps the young lady in the video clip might not be smiling if she knew that the server was spitting in each glass before passing it through the wall …

  8. semper loquitur

    In Argentina, US dollars are so scarce that yuan use is at record high

    A dwindling US dollar supply is leading companies to embrace the yuan, highlighting Argentina’s dire financial state and China’s ambitions for its currency
    The dollar’s supremacy in global trade is being chipped away by fragmentation, particularly in developing countries, caused by US-China rivalry

  9. Lexx

    ‘What is extreme tourism for?’

    ‘These expeditions are not concerned with exploration but with scarcity and exclusion and a dollop of delusion—on selling tickets to people who would rather identify as explorers than as the one percent.’

    I have my fingers crossed that those who don’t mind crawling past the dead bodies of ‘explorers’ (aka ‘landmarks’) who went before them, so they can take a selfie at the top of Everett, will take up extreme tourism with a vengeance. But the quote above suggests that those would be the few squillionaires with something conscience-like, as opposed to outright high risk-seeking sociopaths so they can feel something. Darwin might have shrugged, but he’s dead too. We the living have to live with the consequences of that fine bunch of a$$holes.

    1. Wukchumni

      I’ve been to the top of Everett, not an easy climb to 82 feet above sea level but I persevered and have selfies to prove it.

      1. Lexx

        Everett, Washington? Hahahaha! Gads, I too have been to the top of Everett. Don’t remember any dead bodies, some ‘temporarily embarrassed’ un-housed though.

        1. Wukchumni

          In my half-pint Himalaya (the high point is almost exactly half the altitude of Mt Everest) there isn’t any trash nor dead bodies laying around, and if an illionaire wants to do something extreme, its pretty much all up to them to accomplish it on their own.

          We had a backpack trip on the High Sierra Tral planned of 72 miles that the snowpack thwarted, and a wilderness permit for 7 of us was $50, so that works out to a little over $7 per head.

          Each of us has around a grandido in gear that has been pretty much amortized so as to cost about $100 per year over the past decade of use.

          The plan was to bag a number of peaks along the way, with no sherpas to lead us or carry our gear to the top, the onus being on you.

          1. GC54

            And with the fires temporarily abated, you could have done it without supplemental oxygen!

  10. antidlc

    Fauci Meets The Health Insurance Lobbyists
    Jun 23, 2023 •
    Andrew Perez
    Nick Byron Campbell
    At a health insurance industry conference, former presidential COVID adviser Anthony Fauci accidentally revealed the truth about buckraking speeches.

    Fauci, who reportedly charges between $50,000 and $100,000 for speeches, started his talk by thanking the audience of insurance lobbyists and health care marketing companies for being “devoted to making sure that we get good health care in an equitable way.”


    That’s because apparently Fauci took this gig without knowing much, if anything, about it.

    “I wasn’t totally familiar with AHIP,” he told the group.

    Oh, come on. How did he not know about AHIP?

    1. ambrit

      That is indeed a curious statement. I don’t think that Fauci ever met a lobbyist he didn’t ‘like.’

  11. The Rev Kev

    “Head Of US Military Cancels Middle East Trip Amid Russia Crisis”

    ‘Army General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had been due to travel to Israel and Jordan. That trip was postponed “due to the situation in Russia,” a spokesman for the Joint Chiefs told AFP. Jake Sullivan, US President Joe Biden’s national security advisor, also canceled a trip Saturday, instead accompanying the president to Camp David.’

    Bags all packed but tickets cancelled – and now the whole thing is a bust. Damn that Putin!

    A Michael Tracey tweet in Links said ‘Isn’t the standard story of Turkey after the 2016 attempted coup that Erdogan went on to significantly strengthen his rule?’ I note that Erdogan was one of the first people that Putin got in contact with and Erdogan gave his full support to the Russian government. But I don’t think that Putin is going to do anything that is not legally based unlike Erdogan’s rampage.

    1. Mildred Montana

      Just a question: I see all these top government and military officials from many countries (not just the US) skulking around today on unannounced junkets and making “surprise” visits. Why the secrecy? It certainly is not a lack of security.

      I could be wrong, but I don’t recall this being a thing in the past. Churchill, Stalin, Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, Nixon, etc.* They all seem to have had an actual itinerary and it was public knowledge. Something has changed since those days. Potential assassins with far more lethal weapons?

      *I have wisely omitted Kennedy from this list. His visit to Dallas in 1963 was widely publicized with all the details. That turned out to be a mistake.

  12. Mikel

    “The Titan tragedy won’t stop the super-rich from embarking on ‘extreme’ travel, an adventure tourism expert says” Business Insider

    (light bulb over head flashes)

  13. earthling

    Re: Texas Farmers

    Oh for Pete’s sake. For 50 years we’ve had warnings that the Ogalalla aquifer was in big trouble. The water is literally being mined dry, and farmers keep blindly doing whatever they like. Now at this late date we’re still screwing around with “innovative” pilot projects while encouraging companies (yeah let’s drop the small-farmer baloney) to grow food in a windswept arid plain that can’t support food crops. And let me guess, big federal subsidies are the only way to get farms to use better techniques to steward their own property.

    1. Carolinian

      Simpson’s family grows corn, a crop known for needing a lot of water to grow, and runs the At’l Do Farms Corn Maze, an annual attraction near Shallowater, just 12 miles outside of Lubbock, that brings in visitors from around the state. It’s become a huge part of their business, so they notice when there’s a change, like stunted corn that can’t fill the maze.

      Corn Maze threatened? Oh the humanity. Meanwhile in other Western states cotton growing and other dubious agricultural pursuits take up large portions of the available water. Perhaps our environmental threat is less AGW than the farm lobby. Cue Mencken on the “honorable husbandman.”

    2. ambrit

      I remember years ago flying into Denver and seeing hundreds of little green circles clumped together in the ’embrace’ of a tan and brown semi-desert landscape. Each of those circles was an irrigated plot. It is called Central Pivot Irrigation, and is considered to be a water conservation method. (!!!)
      See [From 2001 no less.]:
      Even back then the “authorities” were ‘concerned’ about the Ogallala Aquifer running dry.

  14. cnchal

    > Quality of new vehicles in US declining on more tech use, study shows Reuters

    Build quality of certain parts such as audio systems and cup-holders have resulted in quality issues, the report said, which collected data from 93,380 purchasers and lessees of 2023 model-year vehicles.
    – – – –
    Dodge ranked the highest overall in terms of initial quality, while Chrysler and Volvo were jointly ranked lowest, according to J.D. Power.

    Either or both, JD Power and Reuters are useless. Might as well get Chat GTP to write this garbage because it would know that Dodge and Chrysler are built on the same damned assembly line.

    And really, cup holders and audio systems?

    The true crapification is in overly complex engines and transmissions, where its a race to see what fails first, the digital crapola in the dash, or a check engine light with a $10,000 price. For that much money I can buy three used cars that will never break and are a pleasue to drive.

    If you want to save the planet don’t buy a new car.

    Another thing I have never figured out. Why don’t owners of expensive cars emblazon their name and list of accomplishments that ‘earned’ them the money to drive it, racing livery style, on the hoods and doors so the plebes knoiw they deserve it?

    1. dougie

      I own a sizable auto repair shop. My 4 personal vehicles (each is use specific: semi-daily driver, highway trip car, 1983 pickup truck that I purchased new, old SUV for when I need to haul stuff on a wet day) have a total tax value of maybe $15k, the newest being a 2006 model.

      I feel sorry for many of my clients. We haven’t seen a $10k CEL yet, but it’s not that hard to imagine. We saw a $7k diesel exhaust filter on a BMW a few weeks back. Sheesh….I just bought 4 new vehicles for client loaners because the price of 2-3 year old versions of the same model cost within a couple of thousand bucks of new cars. It’s quite insane.

      1. ambrit

        Do you run into the case that new transmissions with problems are no longer repaired in shop, but are replaced wholesale? I have heard of exactly that from locals over the past year or so.
        My problem with 9older cars, we own two, is that parts are becoming very hard to fins. For both of our cars now, I must hunt down junkers in wrecking yards to salvage from since many parts are no longer being made, period.
        Cuba, long famed as a sanctuary for old cars should open a “School of Old Automobile Repair.” I’ll bet that Havana is filled with potential instructors in that field.

        1. dougie

          One reason for the transmission replacement, rather than repair, on most cars these days is that they are no longer geared transmissions. The Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) is basically a series of belts and pulleys that require factory assembly due to very tight tolerances. They help the manufacturers increase fuel mileage at the cost of reliability. I know a fellow that operates one of the largest aftermarket transmission rebuild companies in the nation, and even he won’t touch them.

          1. Carolinian

            When I went car shopping a few years back one goal was to avoid the dreaded CVT. And I did get a car with a six speed automatic that allegedly won’t need any service for 100,000 miles. Of course my transmission is a lot more complicated and perhaps expensive than the CVT (the true car business motive for the change?) but it’s mature technology. So far I’ve had no mechanical problems at all.

            1. TimH

              I’m about to change the transmission oil in my 50k mile Golf. It’s due at 60k, but I prefer early. The $200 service kit comes with German oil, filter, sump gasket. I don’t trust the dealer to use the correct oil, replace the filter or gasket (unless it leaks immediately), and absolutely sure the pan gunk wouldn’t be cleaned out thoroughly.

              1. ambrit

                Check closely to see if your transmission allows basic RTV sealant on the mating surfaces. Some transmissions are not designed to use anything other than just a gasket on the pan sealing surface.

      2. Jason Boxman

        I’ve got a intermittent oil pressure light on a 2017 Hyundai Elantra with only 60k whatever miles on it; Dealer was useless, gave me a 1k list of recommended services, had oil changed because non-Hyundai oil filter might have been issue, got it back, not fixed; dealer incompetence bordering on maliciousness. (Can’t even call these people; service line always goes to full voicemail; only dealer within 100 miles of here.)

        Been waiting 60 days to get it into local mechanic that has to earn business. Maybe they can figure it out; if it’s not the sensor, I’m probably screwed. When I got it in 2021, cheap cars weren’t exactly available, so this is what I ended up with. In the end I should probably have spent more for a Toyota. Oops. I still remember when a Camry was a value car; not anymore! Even the Corolla is insanely expensive.

        I hate cars.

        1. cnchal

          > I hate cars.

          Get a Toyota Camry, four cylinder. late 90’s up to 2001. Drive it till the timing belt breaks, tow it to a garage (any place can fix it) put a new one on, drive it till it breaks again.

          Peak Toyota.

          1. dougie

            Yep. I own one. The cost of ownership has been next to nothing for over 20 years. Debating a cheap paint job, because the original is in bad shape. Someone offered me $5k for it a while back. I just laughed.

          2. ArvidMartensen

            My 2014, manual, 2L engine, Subaru Forester still going strong at 211,000 km.
            Once it gets to 300,000, am planning to buy another 2014 Forester exactly the same, with maybe around 100K on the clock if I can find one.

            Have driven new rental cars with all the blinken and beepin “features” and it would drive me insane to have to drive one every day.

        2. Carolinian

          If it’s intermittent and the stick shows oil then probably the sensor. I used to have to change those regularly on my–yes–Toyota. They used to be inexpensive and generic–don’t know about now.

          Even before our electronic age car repairs were a big expense. Indeed it used to be said that the service department was where dealers made their profit.

          So if you are willing to work on minor or even major problems yourself that’s one approach. I have the full html service manual for my–yes–Hyundai. Here’s hoping that when something comes up it will at least help me to figure out what it is. These days Youtube also has lots of service information.

          And if you aren’t willing then you have a problem that has always existed. Buyer beware.

      3. Laura in So Cal

        I just put $5K into my 2005 Honda CR-V that I bought new and that has 162k miles on it. It has a 5 speed manual transmission and the master cylinder failed. We ended up replacing the entire clutch assembly because it looked so badly worn out.

        My goal is to exceed 200k miles because I just love the car which has been super dependable until now and is exactly what I need. The thought of buying a new car with all of the new smart crap on it is just horrifying.

      4. cnchal

        > the newest being a 2006 model.

        That was when complexity went haywire and it’s been downhill ever since.

        The $10K CEL was a story as told by an editor of Roundel about his Mercedes a 2012 or 13 with 120K miles. The sensor itself was a few hundred, getting to it and changing it, thousands and while in there might as well change all the other about to fail components, so after seven years, kaput.

    2. Carolinian

      The engines are more complex and computer driven to satisfy government requirements re pollution controls and high mileage. Those are virtuous goals. Meanwhile the car companies, in true capitalist fashion, use improved mileage as an excuse to continue selling oversized road hogs and inevitably trouble prone frills like “touch point door handles” (keeps the thieves out and sometimes you too?).

      I don’t think the electronics are the problem and if well executed transistors can be a lot more reliable than moving parts. Rather the problem is bad engineering driven by bean counters or people like Musk who clearly isn’t that concerned with quality complaints as long as his rich customers are happy. After all from a car company business perspective a car that lasts twenty years is a bad thing.

      1. dougie

        I have been in the industry for 45 years. My belief is that current models are engineered to last about 80k miles before they start to disintegrate. We see a LOT of people who bought cars right out of college on some “Sign and Drive” program quite flabbergasted that so much can need repair on their 4-5 year old car.

        1. ambrit

          Oh yes. I remember sitting on the fender watching Dad work on the Chevy II four banger. I still remember how to set the points. (How loose is loose Dad?) I still have Dad’s old timing light somewhere in the attic.
          Now it’s all electronics.

        2. vao

          I have read in some specialized sites that nowadays major automobile components are generally designed and manufactured to last 120000 km.

      2. digi_owl

        While i agree on the moving parts bit, the problem is that it is not transistors as such but a increasing number of boards with microchips talking across an ever expanding CAN bus. Like how each door now have a circuit board with a IC on it that controls the window and lock, as well as read sensors for status of same as well as the door itself.

        Now if anything inside that IC goes belly up you need to basically chuck the whole board and replace it.

        And while writing that i reminded myself of an episode of a car refurbishment show, where the guys tackled a cabriolet of recent vintage.

        In the end they had to call in an expert, that showed them that the engine control unit they had gotten hold of was of the wrong revision for that year of car. The unit had the same size and shape, the same ports, but something inside it was specific to that year of car. And the external indication was a single digit at the end of the model number.

        And this flummoxed people that had dealt with all kinds of mechanical and electrical faults in other cars with ease.

        1. Carolinian

          Well I have my fingers crossed that my view is correct but it’s not like you have much alternative if a new car is needed. And I kept my previous car for twenty years while doing much of the work on it myself. The things in that old car that never gave trouble were the electronic pollution sensors and the engine computer.

          Apparently the electronics become more problematic up north where rough winters and road salt take a toll on electrical connections.

        2. dougie

          This is a spot on analysis. We deal with it nearly every day. Even the dealerships can’t get it right a lot of the time. I remind myself that I am in a “problem solving” industry, but the problems on the service end are getting more and more complex every day.

        3. hunkerdown

          Now, anyone who’s actually handled those ICs also recognizes that shape, size, and pin footprint do not strongly attest to substitutability (and don’t get me started on the cryptic nature of markings on small packages hindering definitive identification), so that affair with the Cabrio sounds like a manufacturer’s or publisher’s deficiency in technical communication and product marking. (Having read terribly written datasheets for recent chips, there is a broader trend afoot.)

          That’s a too common tendency with automakers in particular, due to EPA/CARB and other regulatory concerns, intellectual property protection, and collateral security. It would have been easy enough to publicize that piece of information, that VINs x through y in model year q require the 27b/7 flavor of ECU instead of the 27b/6 flavor. The automaker need not apologize for whatever drama in purchasing and engineering necessitated the change, just publish the fact that a substitution occurred in final assembly and must be preserved when effecting a repair. This is the very stuff right-to-repair activists are on about.

      3. cnchal

        > The engines are more complex and computer driven to satisfy government requirements re pollution controls and high mileage. Those are virtuous goals.

        Sure. That’s why we have 800+ HP street cars and weird tax rules that incentivize the gluttony.

        > After all from a car company business perspective a car that lasts twenty years is a bad thing.

        All of our cars are greater than 20 years old. The stuff they are making today is going to be scrapped in a decade or so when my stuff has moar life left than me. Yes, I am a bad thing from the car companies perspective, as I attempt to minimize their penetration into my wallet.

        Safety stuff grows like kudzu on cars. Rich man’s car gets pre collision braking to save his expensive butt, car makers have a bit moar profit, next thing you know, it’s mandated, so presumably the inattentive can drive too!

        1. Michael Mck

          I have been driving a new company car a bit lately. Despite all the tech progress in the last 20 years it gets the same milage as my old (same sized) car. Any drivetrain efficeincies (it is a hybrid) seem to be negated by CPU draw. Very glad I will not see mantainance bills. The TV screen for rearview mirror annoys me most because it hampers depth perception.

    3. Mildred Montana

      >”Why don’t owners of expensive cars emblazon their name and list of accomplishments that ‘earned’ them the money to drive it, racing livery style, on the hoods and doors so the plebes know they deserve it?”

      Truth be told, many of them don’t. They are just wanna-be’s seeking status. If they were to emblazon their cars with logos, those would often be Visa, Mastercard, or Bank of America.

      1. digi_owl

        True, plenty of people will spend big on clothes and cars while living in a shack.

        This because they never bring anyone home with them, bit instead meet at some fancy bar or similar to keep up appearances.

        1. ArvidMartensen

          Knew a guy back in the day who bought a Porsche.
          And then didn’t have enough money left over to rent a place that had a garage, so the Porsche had to sit outside in the weather.

      2. Wukchumni

        Before the housing bubble caught on after the turn of the century, what you drove in the SoCalist movement was more important than stucco, cars were really the stars and spoke volumes about you without saying anything.

      3. hunkerdown

        Frankly, that’s more indicative of having internalized Adam Smith’s desiring-production mythology than of material analysis. They wouldn’t do that, because the value of their actions (alienation being a matter of ontological productivity) has already been recognized and rewarded with tokens. They have no need to subordinate themselves to the load of petty demigods they manufacture for us, and people who promote “greed” ideology are reinforcing the myths that preserve the present order of things.

      4. Jason Boxman

        My favorite is the ones with the big phallus on the front in the form of the car marker’s emblem; The low-end Mercedes have these. At least the S class is more tasteful, with just the logo on the hood. The cheaper ones cry out “I have a Mercedes!!” Yes, yes you do, with that stupid huge logo burned into the front grill like a moron desperate for approval.

        1. Mildred Montana

          Okay, time for a bad and perhaps time-worn joke:

          Q: What’s the difference between a Porsche and a porcupine?
          A: The porcupine has its pricks on the outside.

          1. ambrit

            It’s a shame that the new “high end” cars don’t come with rear bumper brass “danglers” pre-installed at the factory.
            A woman I knew drove her husband’s big pick-em-up truck to work during the week. He had a pair of big red rubber “cojones” dangling from the trailer hitch. Some wag went ahead and painted them blue one day in the parking lot at work. She said the next Monday that hubby noticed it right away the previous Saturday morning when he was getting ready to “go play” with the boys on the weekend. He was not amused. She was.

    4. hunkerdown

      I thought you knew about how cup holders are dug out of the ground, ready for installation on the Warren, Mich. assembly line. Obviously the cheaper cars get the lower-grade cup holder ore dug up by barbarians compared to the higher-margin trucks. Can you at least learn about how automotive supply chains are arranged before emoting about them, thanks. /s

      1. ambrit

        I understand that the best quality ‘cup holders’ go to the hockey players. A catastrophic failure there would be indeed catastrophic.

    5. Mildred Montana

      cnchal: If you want to save the planet don’t buy a new car.

      Works until everybody has stopped buying new cars. Then used cars become scarce or prohibitively expensive.

      There is no easy way to save the planet. The hard way—the only way—is to drive less. Far less.

      1. playon

        What would work better would be to keep existing cars functioning and on the road as long as possible.

  15. playon

    From the links, a malarky alert:

    As the COVID-19 pandemic threat seemingly fades into the annals of history, scientists are attempting to identify which pathogen will pose the next large-scale threat to humanity.”

    1. Will

      Well spotted. I’d also add that it doesn’t matter if the next pandemic will be spotted in time since, at least in Canada, we won’t have a health care system to deal with it. Ignoring the current pandemic while continuing to underfund and privatize the system means we’re quickly heading to a collapse.

      Brief summary of the current situation with hospital ERs:

      Amazingly, the article doesn’t mention money till almost the end. And predictably, not a single mention of Covid even while pointing to the problem of recent and continuing surges in ER visits.

  16. Henry Moon Pie

    Doctorow’s alternatives–

    For those gifted as fiction writers, science fiction is definitely a great way to explore the implications of alternative worldviews. For those of us who are more prosaic, there are other options.

    Finding myself repeatedly afflicted with diarrhea of the keyboard when commenting here, I’ve decided to take up blogging again on Substack. My approach to Substack will be assign all posts to free subscribers since I have not even set up a payment method, nor do I plan to.

    I’m going to try posting three times a week:

    1) a post in a continuing series in dialogue form of an encounter among a transhumanist, a primitivist, a traditionalist and an eco-modernst. My first post examines how these different worldviews comprehend education.

    2) a post in a continuing series examining the origins and uses of myth, beginning with a look at the origins of the Adam and Eve myth in Genesis.

    3) a reflection on the Tao te Ching, the first one discusses arrogance and capitalism in the context of Chapter 53.

    I think I have comments set up right, so if something sounds interesting, come by and leave a comment.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      RE: “There Is Always An Alternative”
      “Hope is how we’ll get through the polycrisis.

      For decades, we’ve been strapped into the back-seat of a bus, speeding towards a cliff.

      We can rush the driver, grab the wheel, and swerve. If the bus rolls then we can look after the people who are injured in the roll. But we don’t have to go over the cliff.

      There is an alternative. There’s always an alternative.”

      Doctorow’s alternatives sound relatively innocuous as long as they are regarded within the context of his example of a bus driver driving us over a cliff.
      I have many qualms about this formulation: who is the bus driver? Is there only one ‘driver’? ‘We’ can rush the driver assumes a ‘we’ that can somehow act in concert and with effect. Are the riders in first class the only obstacle between ‘us’ and the driver(s)? If we can manage to roll the bus will there be only a few people injured in the roll?

      The bus, the driver, and the first class passengers taking us along for the ride are all very nice, but the realities of the situation seem much less genteel than their analogs in Doctorow’s example.

    2. katiebird

      Hi Henry Moon, We are happy to give you the space to announce your blog here. But (as a moderator) I have to warn you about posting links unless they directly relate to a post or link or comment.

  17. The Rev Kev

    ‘NEW — A Train Has Derailed Into Montana’s Yellowstone River and Is Leaking ‘Petroleum Products’

    “Yellowstone County DES was notified of a train derailment in Stillwater County early this morning. Multiple tanker cars were damaged and are leaking petroleum products near the Yellowstone River. Resources are being dispatched and multiple agencies are assisting.”’

    Did it really derail while crossing that bridge or did the bridge have something to do with it? Just seems an awful coincidence that after traveling all that distance, that it decides to do so on the rails over a bridge. My tin-foil hat is telling me that if it was the bridge, then all bridges would have to be examined across the entire country for any faults. But if it was just the train, then all costs and damages is just limited to that bridge.

    1. Wukchumni

      Building roads and infrastructure used to be the gravy train before we turned into the most Krupp’d country on this good orb, you’ll not see any new roads anywhere in these not so united states, and only new bridges when the old ones collapse, not before.

      Look at it as a windfall, the Yellowstone River is going to be the recipient of the newest span, soon.

      1. digi_owl

        The highway system happened under Eisenhower for what seems to be two reasons. First was that he personally experienced cross nation driving between the wars, and second was that it was seen as needed for a functioning military.

        Now i suspect most military logistics happens by way of cargo flights.

        1. ambrit

          Watching the annual National Guard exercises, most of the logistics goes by road. It’s part of that “last mile” problem. Coast to coast transport is usually done by rail. That’s why I gaze with wonder on the Neo Railroad Barons getting away with degrading the rail infrastructure so “efficiently.” This is a stealth case of Capitalism selling the rope to hang itself with. Add to that the severely degraded military production infrastructure in America and we see a perfect storm on the horizon.
          Scenario for a decade off: Mexico welcomes the Chinese Expeditionary force to the ports on their Pacific coast. The Expeditionary Force moves up to the Mexico/US border at several points. America mobilizes the National Guard to the southern border as counter. Meanwhile, the brave freedom fighters of the Quebec Liberation Front strike south and take Bangor, Portland, and Albany. Game on!

        2. ex-PFC Chuck

          The story of the dominance of the automobile as the main mode of ground transportation in the USA is well told by Stephen Goddard in Getting There: The Epic Struggle between Road and Rail in the American Century. The main character in this story is Thomas MacDonald who was named head of a predecessor of the Federal Highway Administration in 1919. Mcdonald’s father was in the farm supply business in a small Iowa town and had a visceral hatred of railroads because of their unfair pricing among other issues. The son inherited that animus and during his career build a lobbying machine involving road contractors, Petroleum interests, and vehicle manufacturers. Mcdonald retired just a few months after Eisenhower was inaugurated for his first term but his successors basically lead their former boss’s plan on the president’s desk, which the latter approved.

    2. antidlc

      “My tin-foil hat is telling me that if it was the bridge, then all bridges would have to be examined across the entire country for any faults.”
      From 2021 Report Card American Society of Civil Engineers:

      There are more than 617,000 bridges across the United States. Currently, 42% of all bridges are at least 50 years old, and 46,154, or 7.5% of the nation’s bridges, are considered structurally deficient, meaning they are in “poor” condition. Unfortunately, 178 million trips are taken across these structurally deficient bridges every day. In recent years, though, as the average age of America’s bridges increases to 44 years, the number of structurally deficient bridges has continued to decline; however, the rate of improvements has slowed. A recent estimate for the nation’s backlog of bridge repair needs is $125 billion. We need to increase spending on bridge rehabilitation from $14.4 billion annually to $22.7 billion annually, or by 58%, if we are to improve the condition. At the current rate of investment, it will take until 2071 to make all of the repairs that are currently necessary, and the additional deterioration over the next 50 years will become overwhelming. The nation needs a systematic program for bridge preservation like that embraced by many states, whereby existing deterioration is prioritized and the focus is on preventive maintenance.

      The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021 provided some funding.

      1. Carolinian

        Nova did a show on this the other night and it’s scary stuff. The prestressed concrete bridges that were the craze in the last century bury steel members in concrete where they are hard to inspect and can secretly corrode. That condo collapse in Florida would be an example.

      2. Screwball

        A recent estimate for the nation’s backlog of bridge repair needs is $125 billion.

        I am no expert, but $125 billion doesn’t seem like enough. Especially considering the usual shrinkage.

        On trail derailments;

        EXCLUSIVE: EPA Official Admits There’s No Evidence to Support Norfolk Southern’s Detonation of Five Vinyl Chloride Cars in East Palestine, Railroad Performed Prohibited Open Burn Status Coup. The deck: Four of [the cars] were not showing signs of stress yet,” EPA official says in video obtained by SC. Admission shows “they did this to get the [train] lines open,” hazardous waste expert tells SC.

        Bold mine.

        I have a close friend (now retired) who worked for a hazardous cleanup company for quite a few years. He was on the ground at the site of the problem, usually trains according to him. He has said with no hesitation that every single time a train had a problem – the most important thing was to get the trains running again.

        Seems like he’s still right, and not much has changed, if at all.

        1. JBird4049

          >>>Especially considering the usual shrinkage.

          Meaning the ever increasing American corruption, yes?

          1. JBird4049

            I have driven and walked across the Golden Gate Bridge only God knows how many times; it is a sickening feeling to image the 86 year old suspension bridge collapsing.

            The bridge is always being repainted and has been during its entire existence, and I assume inspected, to prevent corrosion from the sea, which is comforting, but seeing what happened to the Morandi Bridge, I am now less comforted.

            Here is where I insert the obligatory note on the collapsing American infrastructure due to not only age, but more to the lack of maintenance, repair, and replacement due to the lack of taxation and spending. It is neither a market, capitalist, socialist, or really any other economic -ism, idea to stop and then reverse all work on a country’s infrastructure or even its society, but it is a corrupt, neoliberal, financialized process and goal to do so; the American Libertarian ideas that Taxation-is-Theft, Society-is-a-Myth, and Government-is-a-Dictatorship, all supported by the wealthy oligarchy and their Professional Managerial Class lackeys in the nomenklatura, apparatchiks, intelligentsia, glitterati, and even the paparazzi along with security state.

            Gee, I must sound like a nutter even though what I just wrote is not wrong or even an exaggeration. It is also amusing to me that I can use much of the descriptions I read during the time of the late Soviet Union, the Eastern Block, and the Warsaw Pact for the current United States, it protectorates in the European Union, and their mutual satraps, plus NATO.

            “What a long, strange trip it’s been.”

            1. Jeremy Grimm

              Your comment appears to separate economics from politics. I have dificulty maintaining the idea of their separation. I also have difficulty separating political and economic theories from the secular religion of our Empire, Society, and the worldwide Civilization the Empire has crafted.

              I believe both Neoliberalism and Libertarianism would argue, though with different reasons, that the Golden Gate Bridge should be ‘privatized’. However, I believe Libertarianism advocates for a state of anarchy controlled and directed by an economic market [and ignores the extent to which the existence of a market depends on the existence of Govenrment]. In contrast with this, Neoliberalism would advocate for ‘privatization’ as a consequence of the Neoliberal belief in the infallibility of the Market as means for arriving at ‘optimality’ and Neoliberalism believes Government is necessary to create, evolve and maintain Markets.

              But as you say: “What a long, strange trip it’s been.” And I would add, what a terrible trip remains if things continue in the direction they appear to be going.

              1. JBird4049

                >>>Your comment appears to separate economics from politics. I have dificulty maintaining the idea of their separation. I also have difficulty separating political and economic theories from the secular religion of our Empire, Society, and the worldwide Civilization the Empire has crafted.

                I can see that. Let’s just say that both neoliberalism and American style libertarianism are both the created, or at least the appropriated, tools of the wealthy to gain control over and expropriate the wealth of the entire Western Civilization at first, and growing more ambitious, the rest of the civilization on Earth; the difference between two comes from neoliberalism early beginnings in the Mont Pelerin Society who founding members, many of whom were formerly Austro-Hungarians were at least partially altruistic in wanting to prevent World Wars One and Two by imposing a planetary version of the Austro-Hungarian Empire with weaker governments while the proponents of libertarianism just want to tear down government and by extension society almost completely.

                Both look at government generally as bad, but the original neoliberals thought them necessary, and were still afraid of the wars they would fight, and therefore needing them weakened while the libertarians just what them gone thinking business is always better. The process is similar, but the end goals are different.

                Also, the Mont Pelerians probably understood that the majority of the population would not be as wealthy as they could be and that government would be less democratic with a more oligarchic society, but, if it prevented the destruction of the world wars, it would be worth it. I also think that they were already fairly conservative even for the time, but they were made more so from shock of what they went through. The wealthy both then and now seems to have taken their ideas and expanded on them with an increased emphasis on denigrating society with its civil institutions in addition to weakening government itself.

                1. Jeremy Grimm

                  I largely agree with your comment. However, I believe it is important to carefully distinguish between Neoliberalism and Libertarianism. Of the two I believe Neoliberalism is by far the more dangerous. Judging from the number and prominence of Neoliberal ‘think’ tanks, my perception of Neoliberalism is that it controls significantly larger financial resources than Libertarianism.

                  Whether Neoliberalism originated in part through altruistic concerns about world wars, I believe the present instantiation of Neoliberalism is more focused on planetary government along the lines of the WEF vision. I am not sure it is correct to say that present Neoliberalism is concerned about weaker government so much as a consolidated government that follows the guidance of Neoliberal principles.

    3. playon

      Apparently the train derailment in Montana took out internet service for much of the state, as a main fiber connection was on that same bridge. Another price paid for refusing to invest in infrastructure.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      From The Automatic Earth this morning:

      …I like this take:

      “Plot twist: Prigozhin was approached by the US to do a coup in Russia for billions of dollars. He tells Putin about it, Putin agrees. They keep the money.”

    2. Glen

      I had similar thoughts – what an opportunity to re-deploy the Russian military, but who knows (I suspect if there are significant fighting around Kharkiv or northern Ukraine within the next few weeks, we might have some clues).

      If anything, it’s given me a better appreciation into how little I understand internal Russian politics and how much the MSM is designed to misinform the American public. This coup seems to be characterized in the MSM as a “Putin stares into the abyss” moment, and the reality would be that the MSM seems to totally forget what Moscow went through thirty years ago:

      25 Years Ago: The Day The Russian White House Was Shelled

      Russia didn’t just stare into the abyss thirty years ago, it fell into the abyss. Putin and Russia has both seen, and been through much worse than this last weekend.

      If this really was a plot by outsiders to try and rip Russia apart, I don’t think it’s going to have the long term affects that the planners wanted.

      1. digi_owl

        What is crazy is that even journalists that were in Russia during that period is now more focused on harping on the plight of the gays in Russia and painting Putin as some despot.

        And if they do talk to Russians, it will be their old PMC friends from back then.

      2. Skip Intro

        Nato surveillance must have watched a great shell game wrapped in social media hysteria and, apparently, CIA/MI6 expectations. There were convoys piling into the area around Rostov (HQ, BTW), both Wagners and Chechens, and other convoys heading north from Rostov, while other RF forces mobilize as if in defense. And then they head off in other directions. Who knows which trucks were full, and which empty.

        Then Prigozhin apparently waltzes off to Belarus with army in tact. The evidence of the shoot downs was initially questioned. I haven’t seen any more evidence that multiple aircraft were brought down by a convoy traveling on a public highway, but it is obviously the kind of story that the west would gladly amplify/fabricate, and if the Russians claim it, as Prigozhin claimed Wagners were shelled, who will question it?
        Is Wagner poised to take Kiev now? Poised to counter the attack on Belarus from forces in Poland? Waiting to take Kharkiv? Actually being dismantled and absorbed in to the regular RF forces? Which hand holds the knife?

        The focus on personalities and egos of dueling oligarchs/warlords is a narrative that we adopt reflexively, and this was just what the Neocons had been promising. As a ploy this leverages the tendency to amplify then ‘believe’ a chosen narrative, by providing an irresistible narrative.

    3. ArvidMartensen

      Well, interesting but I dunno. Ole Yevgeny has been going off the reservation a bit in the past 6 months, puffing out his chest and having his say about the Russian hierarchy. Which is either psyops or a guy who is getting a bit delusional about his own value to Russia.

      There are some possible factors that might have greatly peed him off. And yes, just drawing together threads here from all over.
      But it sounds like the MOD wasn’t going to give him another lucrative contract, and were planning to incorporate his forces into the Russian army proper. And we have to consider that as a mercenary, him losing his very lucrative business and the kudos from his business would tick him off.

      As a mercenary heading up forces with a proportion of jailbirds and ex-Ukie captives, perhaps honour wasn’t a great motivator. And if the ever-circling UK/US/Ukraine ghouls noticed some unhappiness, of course they would offer him buckets of money to create problems for Putin. And comments in western media did point to prior knowledge of what he was planning. Perhaps then the Russians just gave him enough rope.

      The hash of a job that he in “invading” Russia must be either due to delusional thinking that he could force the MOD to give him a contract OR a psyop for Russia OR being paid by the West to make Putin look weak and Russia to look vulnerable and to take the spotlight off the failing “Greatest Offensive”..

      I tend to think the third option is the most likely given the business he is in, but it will be interesting to see what comes out of the woodwork in the next few weeks.

  18. Roger Blakely

    COVID cases surge in Okinawa amid concern over possible medical system collapse The Mainichi (MR)

    It is interesting that the article does not talk about why there is a surge in Okinawa.

    Here is some test from an article in the Japan Times that was part of NakedCapitalism Links from 6/17/2023. I recognized the photo. The article was not included in the Links. The article was cited by a Tweet included in the Links.

    “Fueling the latest surge in infections are subtypes of XBB, a heavily mutated version of the omicron variant. According to the metropolitan government, XBB subtypes made up over 90% of all genome-sequenced cases in the capital in the week through May 28, led by XBB.1.16 at 31.3% and followed by XBB.1.9.1 at 20.8% and XBB.1.5 at 15.6%.”

    “XBB is highly infectious and is capable of escaping immunity gained from past infection or vaccines, though it has not been confirmed to cause symptoms severer than other omicron sublineages, according to the National Institute of Infectious Diseases.”

    1. Acacia

      There is a surge in Okinawa because Covid is coming in through the U.S. military bases there.

      Same thing happened in the summer of 2022.

      The local residents are p.o.e.d., but of course Tokyo just ignores them.

  19. DJG, Reality Czar

    Brad Pearce, The Great Debating Debate.

    Unfortunately, Pearce proves that some of Hotez’s apprehensions are not off base. First, Pearce red-baits now and again–you know, judicious anti-commie rants. Then he links to his own article in which he describes COVID as a cold. Then, near the bottom, he invokes MTF transgendered peeps.

    The point that Hotez is making is that he can’t get through such assumptions to discuss the vaccine. (I don’t care about articles mention that say not to debate.) There would have to be many rules about such a debate, including breaking down different aspects of the story: That COVID is a serious problem, that vaccines can work, that vaccines for coronaviruses are dubious, that scientific investigation is not the same as public policy. That is four episodes right there.

    Then Pearce decides that vague correlations are causation: “The health industry will not get public trust unless they can explain why we’ve seen an explosion in things like autism, allergies, and eczema. We are supposed to stay quiet as the young suffer. I’m not an RFK supporter, but Tucker is correct that he is a rare politician who has noticed these problems and cares. It should be a national concern to find out what is causing all of this and the drastic increase in vaccines is one of the larger changes to what goes in children’s bodies in the last several decades.”

    Let’s not mention high-fructose corn syrup “in the last several decades.” Let’s not mention the (resultant) epidemic of obesity and the large numbers of Americans, even children, who are morbidly obese. And they don’t call it “morbidly” obese for nothing. Then there are the crappy hydrogenated and junk oils of U.S. life: Soybean oil, cottonseed oil, corn oil. It’s interesting that he mentions eczema: The skin is often a not-so-subtle indicator of one’s diet. Skin problems? = Diet problems.

    Both sides are frothing at the mouth and too sure of themselves. Don’t even get me going on the supposedly proven “lab leak hypothesis” which has a strong whiff of the long history of blaming evil foreigners for causing pandemics. The Evil Chinee of Wu-Han inventing the new Masque of the Red Death.

        1. JBird4049

          The Federal government already gave full immunity to the manufacturers of those mRNA vaccines for Covid. IIRC, it was about two years ago.

        2. John Anthony La Pietra

          How about a little over three years ago now? (Emphasis mine.)

          “In March 2020, the Secretary issued a PREP Act Declaration covering COVID-19 tests, drugs and vaccines providing liability protections to manufacturers, distributors, states, localities, licensed healthcare professionals, and others identified by the Secretary (qualified persons) who administer COVID-19 countermeasures. The Declaration has been amended several times to expand liability protections, including prior amendments to cover licensed healthcare professionals who cross state borders and federal response teams.”

          Or if you’d like an MSM take on this “story”, here’s CNBC:

      1. DJG, Reality Czar

        flora: Add it to the debate topics for Hotez and RFKFJr.

        I am not even in favor of corporations having “personhood.” Let alone so much legally sanctioned impunity.

    1. marku52

      Bret Weinstein pointed out that the reason this debate is happening at Rogan’s is because it is not happening where it should be-at the FDA and NIH, CDC. With full data transparency and all parties given a chance to contribute.

      I’m In the middle of reading Turtles all the Way Down”. Infuriating. the Covid vaccines are not the first ones to be poorly tested. What they call a placebo controlled test is testing the new vaccine against another one.

      Test a vaccine against no vaccine. “Oh, no, never.”

  20. JR

    Perhaps I have missed it, but I have so far seen no credible news sources indicating the Ukrainian offensive is making big headway in the aftermath of the Prigozhin affair.

  21. Carolinian


    The alliance “needs” the Ukrainian conflict to continue, and may even be looking forward to Kiev suffering a loss in the conflict, Ritter emphasized. “They need, in many ways a Ukrainian defeat, because a Ukrainian defeat allows them to say that the Russian military that’s capable of defeating this Ukrainian force is a Russian military that can only be confronted by an emboldened, empowered, united NATO,” he said.

    In other words Scott Ritter is making NATO and American leadership out to be monsters in the same mode as Madeleine “the price is worth it” Albright on the dead Iraqi children. Whether it’s cynicism or pure delusion doesn’t matter if the results are evil but these war mongering ghouls would contend that motive is the only thing that matters. They were after all trying to save the village when they destroyed it. First do no harm is not part of FP elite thinking.

    It’s not new of course in that Graham Greene’s The Quiet American came out in 1955. Maybe 2 million Vietnamese died from our “good” intentions. By that measure the Ukraine war has a long way to go.

    1. digi_owl

      Pretty much from the day the Russian army crossed into Donbass, the MSM was trying to sell it as a resurgent Red Army marching towards the Atlantic.

      1. playon

        Over and over I hear the talking point from liberal friends that Russia aims to recapture eastern Europe, restore the USSR to its former glory etc. Truly drinking the kool-aid.

        1. JBird4049

          What? On what justification besides fantasy do they support that belief?

          Russia simply does not have the manpower to conquer the whole of Europe and has any of them compared the size of Europe both in land and population compared to even just Ukraine? Than add in the varied terrain, which is not just the very flat farmland of Ukraine.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            They simply know nothing. I turned on one of the cable news monstrosities and a reporter asked about a no-fly zone. The sheer impracticality of a NATO imposed no fly zone is obvious to anyone who knows what the little distance scale is on a map, but the believers don’t need maps.

            1. Screwball

              This is the issue IMO. Too many (of the ones I know) live in an echo chamber. They use Twitter for news, which they customize their timeline to only give them sources they want to hear – no other voices allowed.

              Same with TV. MSNBC, CNN, NYT, WaPo and the late night comedy (I kid, they are not funny) shows. They love Maddow, Nicolle Wallace, Bill Kristol, Anne Applebaum, Jennifer Rubin, or any other partisan hack that spews what they want to hear. Anything else is off limits, should be censored, shut down, and considered fake news.

              Then, people you didn’t mention, but ones I think are also critical in their brain rot – the politicians they so worship. They will believe ANYTHING creepy Joe tells them, or the cackle machine, or the transportation robot (who they truly love because he is soooooo smart), and of course the WH press people like Kirby and the lady who I can’t remember her name. Truth tellers who beat up on Peter Doocy everyday, which they live for.

              And of course all the congress critters who are on their team, like the ones who shredded Durham the other day. What a dummy he is for not believing in Russiagate and one of their idols Mueller.

              They do jump the fence when it is warranted, like slobbering over Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, or anyone who says a bad thing about Trump (total love affair with the Lincoln Project).

              I used to try to talk to them and change the way they think. Impossible. They are too smart for that, and how dare me. They can’t wait to tell me so. And while I’m at it, I should work on my logic and thinking skills.

              Alrighty, then. The same guy who told me that thinks Michelle Obama should be the next president.

              I no longer even attempt to talk to those people, and actually try to avoid them. It is unhealthy because it grinds in my craw how people can believe what they do while thinking everyone else is the dumbass.

              I have lost quite a few friends, and it was probably part of the reason I lost the love of my life. She turned into one of them, and I didn’t. TDS stage 5. Never witnessed anything like that in my life.

              Can’t put toothpaste back in the tube, so we move on. What else you going to do? I’m guessing I’m not the Lone Ranger. What a f-ed up world. *spit*

              1. digi_owl

                I do wonder how many of them would flip on ol’ Joe if their favorite TV talking heads announced that he was unfit to serve, and that he need to step down and let Harris take over.

                Similarly i wonder what would happen if the pope was to declare another crusade whenever i catch coverage of one of them big Vatican sermons.

              2. some guy

                There’s a pink pussy hat Blueanon for every red hat MAGAnon and vice versa. Evenly divided.

    2. Aurelien

      Ritter is ascribing agency to “NATO” which is not something that anyone who knows the organisation would do. As I’ve pointed out on numerous occasions, there are lots of reasons why governments and decision-makers want to keep NATO going (a Germany not under NATO control is still something that worries a lot of people) and it’s useful to have arguments for why it should continue: most recently, of course, and as reported here, it’s been turning its attention to Asia. I don’t think powerful forces within certain nations (which is what Ritter really means) want a military confrontation with Russia, nor do they want Ukraine to be defeated, and nor, finally, do they want a massive build-up to Cold War levels of budgets and forces. Even if the latter were feasible (and I’ve argued several times that it’s not) it’s not desirable: it would being down governments all over the West. There’s no doubt that a powerful and well-armed Russia is another argument in favour of the continuation of NATO, but that’s an essentially political justification.

      1. hunkerdown

        Rejecting national aesthetics, I believe the “real” argument for preserving NATO is mutual policing against anti-elite and anti-capitalist ideologies, in the same sort of collaboration as under which the Five Eyes monitor and observe them. There must be a ruling class performing high drama to justify the appropriation of labor to said ruling class ends, and all.

    3. some guy

      If Putin sees NATO-EUFUKUS pursuing the same goal and hoping for a ‘Kiev defeat’ from the same reasoning that Ritter sees NATO-EUFUKUS wanting a ‘Kiev defeat’, then perhaps Putin might try convincing his government to keep pursuing the slow attrition . .. . keep playing Ukraine like a fish, keep it fighting till it has nothing left to fight with and NATO-EUFUKUS have no supplies and money left to give. Then let it collapse into its own footprint in a hole of ashes and ambiguity.

  22. Wukchumni

    I played DC Monopoly one time, and only learned after the game was started that Senators and Congresspeople had bought up all the real estate with the exception of the railroads, which frankly nobody wanted and I can’t blame them. The highlight of playing was landing on a Choo-Choo, Chance or Community Chest, or hopefully a jail stint, as you had no opportunity @ landing on a politician’s haunt full of hotels while in the pokey.

  23. Sub-Boreal

    Although this article is U.S.-focused, it may have wider relevance.


    To many in the environmental movement, and especially on the climate left, most permitting reform proposals double down on what they see as a worrying tenet of the IRA: its dependence on competition and market dynamics to slash fossil fuel production. The environmental movement is familiar from long experience with this kind of market thinking, which promises that present development and the damage it entails will eventually unlock future benefits. As the environmental movement as a whole has become more concerned with historical pollution burdens, that bargain looks worse, and less trustworthy, than ever.

    Permitting reform is threatening the national climate coalition because it cuts to the heart of a longstanding philosophical disagreement about what it will take to actually achieve decarbonization. It has arrived as the climate coalition’s major factions are transforming in ways that themselves sharpen the conflict. Good-faith advocates of decarbonization in all camps should be concerned that, in the wake of the debt-ceiling deal, a new round of fractious permitting-reform fights will split the climate coalition into separate camps with irreconcilable theories of climate action.

    1. digi_owl

      The nihilist in me has come to believe that decarbonization will not happen until ROI on extraction goes massively negative. Until then Jevons old paradox will rule, and any kind of green energy will be in addition to rather than replace fossil fuels.

      1. ambrit

        Tangentially, the “Green Revolution” in energy is not yet up to the efficiencies that fossil fuels possess. The real burden of “decarbonization” is how to force a diminution of the average standard of living. Think, no more “active” cooling, but a return to passive cooling of structures. Either that or a massive drop in world population. Some of the more cynical of us think that The Jackpot is attempting to do the latter.
        Stay safe.

        1. chris

          Well, no, it’s not necessarily true that decarbonization will force a diminution of living standards via tech like passive cooling. The conference I’m at this weekend has multiple sessions on how to achieve that. The problem that I see is the kind of world where you can take advantage of that is one where you spend a lot of money on maintenance and building new things. It’s also one where profits aren’t great. Buildings and facilities designed for passive cooling or reduced energy usage via load shifting and load shedding aren’t the most resilient in terms of damage and renovation either. That fancy radiant floor system might not survive an earthquake or the decision to triple the office space square footage.

          This is a US centric point of view, but I don’t see us having the interest, the money, or the people, to follow a path to decarbonization. Now or over the next 20 years. Absent something like the Great Chicago fire we’re not going to build new everything to do this, and in the event of a large disaster the bias will be towards rebuilding not optimal design, so I don’t see how it happens.

          We’re also chasing tech that goes completely against this goal. Take data centers that support large language models like ChatGPT4. Their need for power, bandwidth, computing, is insatiable. I’m not sure what good is does to decarbonize office buildings or residences when we then build huge data centers or other facilities that more than make up for the efficiencies in other markets.

          If I had to guess, I think we’ll see real strides made towards decarbonization in Europe over the next decade. I think we’ll also see a lot of improvement in certain US regions too. But for US population centers, I don’t think we’ll get there unless an awful lot changes.

          1. ambrit

            In other words, it all comes down to Policy. I’m with you on that. The emerging problem here is the mis-allocation of resources.
            All that money squandered on Adventurism in the Ukraine. Bad policy and the resources it wastes.
            Meanwhile, back in the Homeland, people invest their energies in Faux Social Issues Warfare. Divide and rule.
            The “Green Energy Regime” is being managed the same way.

          2. Kouros

            Fully agree. The existing built infrastructure is a big stumbling block. While in suburbia one theoretically place solar panels on roofs and get some electricity to run the house and juice up that hybrid car, in big urban centres that is not possible. Cities would need to forego cars and get on a massive public transportation exercise, very cheap or free. Forget about the 15 min cities…

            1. chris

              The sad thing is, you can build structures so that they do require a lot less energy to operate. Load shedding is easier when you don’t have as much load. Load shifting is easier when you have less to shift. Separating systems that handle sensible heat (i.e., the temperature you feel) versus latent heat (e.g., humidity) makes a lot of sense from a climate resilence perspective. If you reduce the amount of time your air handler needs to run it’s easy to make things work with lower power requirements. If you can take advantage of thermally active building structures and you have heating/cooling systems that rely on thermal mass of things like slabs, then you can cool or heat the buildings for their expected use during the day using cheaper power over night. There is so much that is possible. But unless we get to work on it now we’ll never realize any of that.

        2. playon

          I think it’s a mistake to talk about “a lower standard of living” – living with less does not have to mean not living well. It just means living with less crap that uses energy.

          1. ambrit

            Ah, but consider how that “lower standard of living” would be enforced. The wealthy, having outsized socio-political influence will offload the main burden of the “fall” onto the backs of the poorer members of society. The rich will keep on being rich while the poor slip into outright penury. Imagine a full on implementation of Neo-liberal Rule #2: Go die.
            So, to steal a meme; the future is here, just not evenly distributed.

    2. hk

      I think that’s the classic trap of any and every coalition, and possibly why “democracy” ultimately fails (since a democracy requires some sort of a workable large coalition to work.). You can usually put together and mainrain a large coalition if you agree on the big picture and sweep the details under the rugs, because details are people really disagree. But this condems the coalition to failure at policymaking–because details are where the actual working parts of the policy reside. So the coalition is reduced to three choices (not necessarily mutually exclusive): the details of the policymaking are hidden; coalition does nothing worthwhile while making big noises; or coalitions shrink by focusing on emotional but symbolic issues where no practical policymaking is feasible but to which people are nevertheless attached for “ideological” reasons. This is where politics in the West have arrived at, I wonder.

    1. flora

      whoa! “…every citizen of the firm….” “Citizen” of the firm? Not “employee” of the firm? I’ve worked for a few firms. I was never their “citizen.”

      1. chris

        Yeah… you gotta work for big operations like KBR, Bechtel, Lockheed, etc. to hear that kind of talk. But you do hear it. Usually right before they’re going to give you bad news.

        And who knows? Maybe with the strides Delaware is making in corporate citizenship, people who have dual citizenship at their firm will be able to vote twice!

      2. semper loquitur

        Yeah I was startled by that too. Do corporate citizens get voting rights? Redress of grievances? Any power at all?

  24. Sub-Boreal

    File under “Ghoul Watch: public health folder”: I’d missed this gem from BC’s Ghoul-in-Chief, Bonnie Henry. (She’s referring to the “heat dome” event in the PNW two years ago, which claimed several hundred lives in the Vancouver area.)

    1. Kouros

      I think we’ll settle on to knowing who the vulnerable people are, how vulnerable they are, where do they live, whether they live alone or not, and when an emergency is issued, check on them…

      The draft list of variables for this population attribute file is almost finalized. Some devils are not as black as they appear to be…

  25. kriptid

    Patrick Lancaster got Prigozhin on camera briefly during his report today in Rostov. Confirms that Prigozhin was in Rostov, at minimum.

    Watch at 3:00 to see the ~20 seconds of Prigozhin:

    Patrick: “How was the result for today?”

    Prigozhin: “Oh, the result was normal.”

    Patrick: “Normal?”

    Prigozhin: “We energized them all.”

    1. JM

      Interesting that he’s saying the Minster of Defense, and his deputy, will retire as part of the end of this strange chain of events. I haven’t heard that mentioned so far, though I haven’t been following as closely as some.

    2. Matthew

      This points toward the less dramatic explanation I think may be espied in combing the narrative wreckage of the last two days: We want to see Putin as evil puppeteer, but he does operate within the constraints of a larger, sometimes shambolic system that has done a poor job prosecuting the war. Progozhin rankles at the constraints placed on Wagner, the lack of materiel, and license to run roughshod, not always rationally. He leads a tinpot uprising to get some attention, not in hope of overthrowing Putin but of gaining some concessions and better support. Perhaps this uprising does expose some elements of his officer corps who have larger aims and he is willing to see them off; if so, that should be clear soon. This may have been more the last hurrah of a man who was running out of gas, in over his head managerially–a way to get Putin’s attention–than something carried out with any idea that you overthrow Putin. Certainly, the escapade exposes tensions in Russia, but they hardly point to an immediate unraveling. The lack of angry people to the streets, demanding an end to the war, may be quite consoling to Putin.

  26. Mikel


    “…The dominance and evolution of the US chip industry has historically relied on both hot and cold conflicts, like those in Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, and the “war on terror.” Wars prompted semiconductor improvements and provided places to test technologies. After the official end of the war on terror, the government now needs a new emergency to motivate state investment legible to the public…”

    Is it too far off base to think the Chips Act is not the only major subsidy of semiconductor production in the USA?
    Why wouldn’t the unlimited defense budget include its own subsidies for research and development? With that research/development possibly being more secretive?
    Just spit-ballin’….

    1. ambrit

      That really depends on how well the reverse engineering programs at Area 51 are doing.

      1. Mikel

        Black budgets or dark budgets in the Pentagon: not outrageuos to me.

        Area 51: zero interest

  27. Wukchumni

    I noticed in the NBA Finals that players sans visible tattoos outnumbered illustrated men by a 4 to 1 margin, and Basketball Jones types show the most skin of any in the quorum of professional sports in the USA (MLB, NFL, NHL & NBA) and younger adults follow the trend, so are they finally passé?

    1. Steve H.

      Peak: 2012-13 NBA overall tattoo percentage: 56%

      However, while the peak is clear, the site is out of date. This ‘Most Tattooed NBA Players‘ site is updated for 2023, and mostly lists players who are gone or on the downside. Trends the same.

  28. Jason Boxman

    From AI Is a Lot of Work:

    Another Kenyan annotator said that after his account got suspended for mysterious reasons, he decided to stop playing by the rules. Now, he runs multiple accounts in multiple countries, tasking wherever the pay is best. He works fast and gets high marks for quality, he said, thanks to ChatGPT. The bot is wonderful, he said, letting him speed through $10 tasks in a matter of minutes. When we spoke, he was having it rate another chatbot’s responses according to seven different criteria, one AI training the other.

    As I’ve said from early on, garbage in, garbage out.

    Lately, the best-paying work is in the U.S. In May, Scale started listing annotation jobs on its own website, soliciting people with experience in practically every field AI is predicted to conquer. There were listings for AI trainers with expertise in health coaching, human resources, finance, economics, data science, programming, computer science, chemistry, biology, accounting, taxes, nutrition, physics, travel, K-12 education, sports journalism, and self-help. You can make $45 an hour teaching robots law or make $25 an hour teaching them poetry. There were also listings for people with security clearance, presumably to help train military AI.

    And to be of any use, you need experts labeling and reviewing data.

    Nonetheless, I’ve been learning what I can and experimenting at automating myself out of work so I have some idea how much time I have before this becomes a reality. Fortunately, it seems I still have a bit of time left, but what ChatGPT is already capable of doing is impressive, and that doesn’t bode well for my future employability.

    Between climate change and the Pandemic, it’s also possible it won’t much matter in ten years either way.

  29. Wukchumni

    It is now in danger of unraveling. Speaker McCarthy is poised to renege on the agreement he negotiated and risk a shutdown of the federal government this fall.

    Hard-right Republicans in the House denounced the legislation as a betrayal of McCarthy’s commitment to substantial reductions in the federal budget. Dan Bishop (R-N.C.) told reporters he has “zero confidence” in the speaker: “I’m just fed up with the lies. I’m fed up with the lack of courage, the cowardice.” McCarthy “knows what he did,” declared Ralph Norman (R-S.C.).

    To send a message to the speaker, eleven of the hardliners refused to vote for a procedure setting the rules for debate on legislation (which they support!) to prevent restrictions on gas stoves and other federal regulations, halting business in the House for a week. It was the first time in 21 years that the majority party had failed to pass a procedural vote. “House Leadership couldn’t Hold the Line,” tweeted Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.). “Now we Hold the Floor.” McCarthy tried to shrug off the revolt. “Some of the members, they don’t know what to ask for,” he maintained. “There’s a little chaos going on.”

    He now knows what they want and realizes his speakership may be at risk. The spending cuts in the debt limit compromise, the hardliners insist, are a ceiling, not a floor. They want the House to pass appropriations bills with much deeper reductions. If, as expected, the Senate refuses to go along, they are prepared to shut down parts of the government. A shutdown, Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.) maintains, “will save the country, from an economic and fiscal standpoint, for our kids and grandkids.”

    My Kevin (since ’07) was tortured by the Freedom Caucus on the way in and will be tortured on the way out as well, and typically when a speaker steps down, it means they are done with politics, and who will I have to make fun of when that occurs?

    1. ambrit

      “… who will I have to make fun of when that occurs?”
      That has to be a rhetorical question, no? You will have an entire Government of potential PMC Pinyatas.
      As the cops like to say: “Assume the defensible position!”

  30. thousand points of green

    The article ” ” is mainly sad with some funny parts inside it.

    The sad part is about all the greenhouse and other emissions caused by every stage of the Haber Bosch NitroFertilizer production, shipment and final use cycle. The funny part is where the article discusses “cleaner greener” ways to keep producing Haber Bosch NitroFertilizer. The industry wants to have its cake both ways and eat it too.

    Why is that so funny? Because farmers like Gabe Grown, Gary Zimmer, and some others ( so few that they can all be named individually by anyone with the patience to assemble the names) are getting Haber-Bosch comparable yields without using any Haber Bosch derived NitroFertilizer at all whatsoever. And the article is very careful to keep the Acoustic MuffleCone of Silence carefully dropped over these eco-bio zero-Haber zero-Bosch farmers.

    1. RA


      Can you provide any links to what
      “Gabe Grown, Gary Zimmer, and some others”
      are doing on their farms?

  31. some guy

    As I read the ” ” article, it certainly reads as if the ChinaGov is doing everything it is required to do under all relevant international laws. If so, then the problem indeed has to be understood beginning “downstream” from the Chinese fentanyl-and-also-NONfentanyl-precursor chemicals and solved at that further downstream level.

    Part of that would be solving the “why are so many people taking fentanyl” problem within the US itself. Part of that would be solving the ” why are the Cartels so powerful within Mexico” problem? To the point where the Cartels may be the “Actual Government” and the “official government” may just be a cardboard-replica tip-of-the-iceberg display government, concealing the actual Cartel Government which actually governs Mexico from below the waterline.

    Decades ago I remember reading an article about Mexico in Commentary Magazine ( of all places!). In the midst of all the Hasbara Articles to which Commentary’s existence was even then devoted, it ran this article with zero relevance to Israel, with zero mention of israel or Zionism or any such thing at all. I still don’t know why Commentary ( of all people!) even ran it. But they did.

    The article was written somewhat after PAN had been permitted to win a couple of Mexican State elections in a couple of Northern States. After all this time I don’t remember which ones. Maybe Sonora was one of them.

    Anyway, the article describe the PRI government over Mexico as a stable keeper-of-order of all the various government-protected and government-sheltered mafia gangs and cartels operating within Mexico. The PRI government acted as the regulator and orderkeeper for all the various Mexican GoverMafias and GoverCrime GoverCartels operating within Mexico and rigidly and successfully suppressed the ability of any wannabe-new-entrants to form their own Mafias/Cartels outside the PRI Mafia-Cartel system.

    But the possible loss or surrender of National Power over Mexico at the Federal Level by the PRI was looming in the future and that possible loss or surrender of power raised the following question: if/when PRI surrendered National-Federal power, who or what would keep the peace and apportion and regulate the various MexiCartel GoverMafia GoverRackets when PRI no longer had the power to do so?

    The article suggested that the answer would be this: that no-one would keep the peace among the MexiCartel MexiGoverRackets. They would be set free of all controls and they would run amok. Also, new Mafia-wannabes would see the lack of any controls existing anymore and would see that they could make serious money if they were able to use enough force and violence to conquer for themselves their own fertile fields of organized crime activity.

    As I say, this article was written so many decades ago that I don’t even remember when it was written. Sometime before PRI lost or surrendered its firs election at the National Level anyway. And it looks to me like that articles’ prediction has been exactly correctly born out so far.

    Perhaps Nick Corbishley could tell me where my totally intuitive and utterly amateur analysis of events from then to now is wrong.

    1. JBird4049

      This is pretty much what a relative told me. Once the PRI lost a national election it disturbed all the arrangements and controls. The cartels started fighting each other and then the government with no one being able to control or bring order to the whole situation. The PRI was/is corrupt. It had the kind of corruption that comes from decades of being in control. This means that their losing was a good thing, and yet all that violence.

  32. Revenant

    How Brexit betrayed the UK fishing industry.

    Hardly! The article opens with a lengthy screed about the Kirkella, which is the only UK factory boat – owned by a Dutch corporation and not remitting a penny of profit to the UK. Brexit gave that arrangement a thumping but I wont shed a tear. It could have reflagged in the UK…. Moreover, its success was to outfish family boats and Mother Nature herself.

    The rest of the article is less egregious. Fishing requires rapid delivery to markets and the highest value UK catch is an export delicacy. Frosty appears to gave negotiated the worst if both worlds, our EU neighbours can fish our waters empty and we cannot sell what we catch to them.

    1. digi_owl

      Thanks for adding perspective to the article. I suspected something was off, it being from Politico’s European branch for one, but i didn’t know enough about UK fishing industry to know exactly what.

      And yeah, the tug of war between coastal fishers and the deep sea trawlers, and the shenanigans EU can pull, is very familiar to anyone living along the Norwegian coast.

      After all, EU was throwing a massive hissy fit about fishing quotas around Svalbard after Brexit. This because Norway subtracted the UK portion from the EU allotment while EU wanted the same amount as always.

      And the portion about rapid delivery is familiar as well. during the COVID lockdown some companies up north lamented that they had to freeze fish because the closed borders meant there were no trucks to get them south while fresh. And frozen fish was less valuable.

      Fishing like farming is a hairy topic, as invariably you find that there are a few big earners claiming again and again to speak on behalf of the smaller ones while at the same time driving them out of business.

  33. Kouros

    Cory Doctorow is trying to send a message of hope. SciFi is pushing the idea that There Is An Alternative = TIAA (yes, including that it can be even worst than TINA)

    1. digi_owl

      Except he is part of the PMC, and packed his family of to LA (he is Canadian by birth, and was living in London when his daughter was born) after Brexit and Boris Johnson becoming PM.

      Recent decades for me has reinforced that old adage about not meeting one’s heroes. Or in my case, do not follow them on social media.

      1. Cory Doctorow

        I moved to London two years before Brexit, and four years before Boris was elected PM.

        We moved because my wife got a new job.

  34. Amfortas the hippie

    laying around all day.
    came across this:

    FTA:”….The emptiness of the Wagner threat was a victory for the cult of Nothing we’re beginning to see arise. The idea that nothing will happen, nothing will change, nothing will matter. This is the synthesis of End of History thinking with contemporary cynicism. It’s certainly possible that Russia is a global aberration that does not reflect Western instability, or maybe Houellebecq is right and the big crash is coming. When I was young I’ve read a Tom Robbins book that argued the fascination we have with explosions or burning buildings comes from a deep seated yearning to see permanent power structures challenged and a brief glimpse of chaos. Whether we will see History return with a vengeance, it’s undeniable that many wish to see some action. ”

    worth a read.
    Western ennui and utter boredom undoes neoliberal/neocon utopia.

    1. ambrit

      I love the video just below Tabbi’s tweet, of the “patriots” running the supposed police agents provocateurs out of the protest.

    1. pretzelatttack

      oh the carter that wanted to address global warming in 1970’s? the one who said there was “an inordinate fear of communism”, at a time when that was a radical position? How do you think the neocons and Scoop Jackson felt about that? the democratic party cemented neoliberalism, It started rolling back LBJ’s war on poverty from the start, and after the experiences with McGovern and Carter and Eugene McCarthy it made sure to rig the rules so only people under its control could win. see the 2 Sanders campaigns for more recent examples. And after LBJ withdrew it crammed an unpopular Hubert Humphrey down the throats of Democrat voters. the notion that a president with little influence within his own party started us on this road is naive.

      1. spud

        carters attack on unions and the new deal through deregulation, surely set the bar for bill clinton. sure there were those in the party like that creep from california tony c. but he was not the president, nor others you quote.

        if carter had really been worried about global warming, he sure would not have put paul volker as the head of the fed. who was bound and determined to do what bill clinton and margerat thatcher did, destroy unions through de-industrialization.

        carters assualt on afghanistan proves he was worried about communism.

        1. some guy

          I wonder if that assault was ever really Carter’s. I read that Carter made Zbiggynew Burzinsky
          his National Security Advisor, despite other peoples’ advice to the contrary. And Carter knew he was deeply ignorant of foreign affairs and let Zbiggy handle it. But Zbiggy was an antiRussianitic racist antiRussianite burning with unavenged grudge and deep hatred against Russia for the various “losses” of power and status which his Zlachta ancestors “suffered”, somehow because of Russia.

          So he directed America’s entire foreign policy-security Russia policy towards his personal pursuit of personal spite-based vengeance against Russia.

          We could blame Carter for putting that nasty little rat in charge of the National Security Council.

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