Links 8/11/2023

Haru the bull – raised among dogs, and now he acts like one too BoingBoing

Ancestry tests are “genetic astrology.” We must re-learn everything we know about DNA and cells Big Think

DNA From Beethoven’s Hair Reveals Surprise Almost 200 Years Later ScienceAlert (Chuck L)

We’re All Conspiracy Theorists Now. Psychology Says So. Jessica Wildfire. I am sure readers will have fun with this. The part I object to (aside from her CT level overbroad claims) is the “they are desperate to feel safe.”

I was in NYC during 9/11. I noticed the degree of unhingedness among people I knew in the five boroughs did not correlate as much as you would expect with how close they were to the site (as in were below 14th Street, where regular traffic was blocked, or were near enough to get the acrid smoke most of the time. Note that even where I was way uptown you’d hear the sound of what must have been emergency vehicle caravans, the din of many sirens moving all together).

Visible anxiety did correlate with: how much TV they watched and if they operated on the assumption the world was safe. Yours truly, due to frequent moves before college, as in having most of what I thought I knew disappear, didn’t hew to that belief. Having said that, I do see far too many comments here make overly confident, simplistic and not well substantiated claims about various powerful individuals and interests.

Learning for Wittgenstein is a whole-life undertaking aeon

President of the Moon Committee: Walter Benjamin’s radio years. Nation (Anthony L)


Your electric bill payments may be funding climate delay Heated (Dr. Kevin)

Videos denying climate science approved by Florida as state curriculum Guardian (Dr. Kevin)


China’s internet giants order $5bn of Nvidia chips to power AI ambitions Financial Times

US-Japan whaling spat threatens Indo-Pacific trade deal Financial Times. The Japanese pushed me into trying whale (thank God only a sushi-sized piece). Gaijin in business settings lose lots of points if they refuse these eating tests. It was really terrible.

Is North Korea Reopening Eastern Angle (Micael T)


Niger rejects rules-based order Indian Punchline (Bill Malcolm via Kevin W)

Chronic Threat Inflation American Conservative

Ecuador politician murder suspects are Colombian, police say BBC

Old Blighty

Cyber-attack on UK’s electoral registers revealed BBC (Kevin W)

Incompatible London Review of Books (guurst)

As fifth round of strikes begin: The way forward for England’s junior doctors WSWS

Marks & Spencer boss slams the demise of Oxford Street as the decline of city centres fuels rise of crime including US-style flashmob looting… and TikTok-inspired chaos moves to Southend Daily Mail. I can’t opine on London, but I recall IIRC Alexander Mercouris saying how stunning it was to see how hollowed out tonier (at least when I lived in London) Piccadilly Road had become…and this right before Christmas. But it is not hard to see that more work from home has reduced commutes and retail spending in city centers, and the loss of income, foot traffic, and jobs would feed a decline that could become self-reinforcing.

Summer 2023 Thoughts on Post-Brexit Britain BEERG Brexit Blog (guurst)

European Disunion

Gas price spike underscores Europe’s vulnerability to global energy shocks Financial Times (Kevin W)

The German Air Force practices rapid deployment to the strategically vital arctic region – substantiating Berlin’s claim to be on the front lines in a potential great power war. German Foreign Policy

Major fire ongoing in four grain silos in France’s La Rochelle Reuters. Hhhm.

New Not-So-Cold War

Alarm grows as Ukraine’s counteroffensive falters The Hill. As Alexander Mercouris pointed out, IIRC Wednesday, this became official with the publication of a fairly realistic CNN story.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on threats to Russian security posed by Finland’s NATO membership and Poland’s military build-up Gilbert Doctorow. Note that the fact that Russia feels the need (again) to warn Poland does not mean Poland is (yet) serious. As our post today suggests, the Polish leadership is signaling it is cooling on Ukraine. Recall also that Poland has long been the bad boy of the EU and thus may not be as easily cowed as other EU members. But Western hawks are talking up this idea and no doubt working private channels hard too.

Biden seeks $24 billion for Ukraine, testing bipartisan support in Congress Reuters

The US Blew Up any Russian Concerns – Problems in Niger Jeffrey Sachs, YouTube. As the title indicates, the talk ranges beyond Ukraine, but may be useful to send to colleagues who might be open to non-orthodox views about US-Russia relations. Sachs is hard to dismiss on this topic.

Die USA wollen den früheren Bundesanwalt Michael Lauber mit Sanktionen belegen, die für Kriminelle aus Autokratien gedacht sind. Was ist da los? Neue Zürcher Zeitung (furzy). Weirdly Google will not translate this from the URL…so the headline: “The United States wants to impose sanctions on former federal prosecutor Michael Lauber intended for criminals from autocracies. What’s going on there?” No one seems to have worked out that if you sanction your friends, pretty soon you won’t have any friends.

American Neo-Nazi Training Forces in Maine to Fight for Ukraine Libertarian Institute (Kevin W). Erm, this looks to be a way to reduce the population of domestic neo-Nazis.

Saudi Arabia’s Ukraine peace talks agree on nothing Asia Times (Kevin W). Well reported by The Duran boyz but I have not seen (or managed to miss seeing) the outcome crisply stated in print.


A security pact with Saudi Arabia would be a disaster for US interests Responsible Statecraft

US reaches deal to free detained Americans in Iran – media RT (Kevin W)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Say hello to Downfall, another data-leaking security hole in several years of Intel chips The Register. BC: “VERY bad.”

Imperial Collapse Watch

US Eyes Australia as Missile Testing Ground Kevin W: “They could always start with Canberra.”


Justice Department Wants to Ring in the New Year With Trump’s Jan. 6 Trial Rolling Stone (furzy)


RFK, Jr.

Knives are coming out:

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.—The Right’s Trojan Horse Big Picture

A MAGA Trojan horse Trump-RFK Jr. ticket is being built in New Hampshire Alternet


Judge rejects Dems’ bid to keep No Labels Party off 2024 ballot AZCentral (albrt)


Historic Supreme Court case could imperil the entire US tax code The Hill (Kevin W)

August 10, 2023 Heather Cox Richardson (furzy). On Clarence Thomas’ lavish vacations.

Patriot Front: White Nationalists Sue Over Exposure as White Nationalists Rolling Stone (furzy)

Oregon’s Greater Idaho movement echoes a long history of racism in the region High Country News (furzy)


9-year-old girl fatally shot by neighbor in front of her father after buying ice cream and riding her scooter, prosecutors allege CNN (furzy)

Woke Watch

Florida’s Parental Rights In Education Act Has Come for Shakespeare Esquire


Google “We Have No Moat, And Neither Does OpenAI” SemiAnalysis. Important even if from a few months back. BC:

I just came upon this May 4, 2023 article about a leaked internal Google memo that confirms my suspicions that OpenAI’s ChatGPT, while being an amazing technical accomplishment, is not something that cannot be (relatively) easily reproduced (and ultimately surpassed) by others in the field. I believe this is the primary motivation for OpenAI’s aggressive push for Senate oversight and regulation of AI. Their intent is to try to place as much friction and barriers in the way of other competitors, while also creating a government-funded competitive intelligence collection mechanism controlled by their “panel of experts”.

Hospital bosses love AI. Doctors and nurses are worried. Washington Post (Kevin W)

Visualizing the $105 Trillion World Economy in One Chart Visual Capitalist (furzy). GDP, not PPP basis.

U.S. hospital pharmacists ration drugs as shortages persist – survey Yahoo! News

Class Warfare

Medical debt among seniors is soaring The Hill

Justices Halt Purdue Ch. 11 Plan Over Sackler Releases Health 360

US set to unveil long-awaited crackdown on real estate money laundering Reuters

Antidote du jour. Tracie H:

This is a current photo (7/23/23) of Sherlock, so named for his curiosity. Yes, I know, all cats are curious, but he was the first in his litter to display the trait.

And a bonus:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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    1. notabanker

      Some 15+ years ago took the family on a trip to Maui. Golfing at Kapalua, snorkeling in the bay, surfing in Lahaina and the journey to the top of Haleakala. I caught a sinus infection and spent a day in bed and it was still one of the greatest experiences of a lifetime. If you’ve never been, just a common drive down the road can be breathtaking, with neon green domed mountains connected by rainbows.

      Wish all the best to the natives and residents of the island. Profoundly sad to see this level of destruction. I’m sure I will find a way to contribute to their cause, they will need a lot of help. As anyone who has been a victim of a wildfire knows, there is literally nothing you can do but get out as fast as you can. Words cannot explain coming back and seeing everything in ash rubble.

      1. Milton

        I’ve visited or have passed through the following places: Paradise, CA, Lytton, BC and Lahaina. Coincidence, I hope.

        1. Wukchumni

          We took the chi-chi choo-choo Rocky Mountaineer, through Lytton last year and I couldn’t believe that a conflagration could take down a town like that in an area where there is water, water everywhere.

    2. The Rev Kev

      I just realized what is missing here. There has been plenty of videos showing the devastation but I have yet to see videos of those fires going through that town. Whenever something out of the normal happens these days, what do people do? They bring out their mobiles and start taking footage – and maybe even a stupid selfie – which ends up on a main stream media news program. The fact that they do not appear to be emerging may be a sign that the fire swept through so fast, that people were not thinking of using their mobiles but were just running for their lives. Good thing that that town was on a coastline.

      1. LifelongLib

        There were a few videos from Lahaina shown on local news, but based on a quick search they don’t seem to have made their way to YouTube etc. My understanding is that power and communications in the area were already down and roads jammed so it was a number of hours before anyone could get cellphone access, and most in the area still don’t have it. And as you say, people were fleeing or (sadly) may have been trapped by the fire.

    3. griffen

      Saw a few videos this morning on CNBC, and a brief video clip with Mick Fleetwood ( yes it is that drummer ) who lives there and has owned a restaurant in the city of Lahaina. Seems like an utterly destructible force moving quickly, with very little measures to combat the destruction. I read a brief NBC article as well, describing limitations of the island firefighting capabilities. Incredibly unfortunate to say the very least.

        1. Earl Erland

          or T shirts. It’s interesting that on a site that publishes Aurelian (and TYFT) there is a non deposit of snark about death and destruction on Laihana. He does not do snark; he’s simply one who writes accurately about the options.

    4. Sub-Boreal

      The news coverage that I’ve seen hasn’t said anything about possible ignition sources. However, a co-worker with relatives there passed on that it was likely due to powerlines knocked down by winds from the hurricane that passed by.

  1. The Rev Kev

    “Mobilization in Ukraine will affect every man, the country will have to send hundreds of thousands more men to the front, everyone will go to war”, says Taras Chmut, head of the Come Back Alive foundation that raises funds for & supplies the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

    Yeah, some people in the Ukraine are saying that every single male will have to be drafted to be sent to the front and there are complaints that men are being grabbed for service who are vital to keep the country running – like electrical grid repairmen. They have not yet sent girl battalions to the front on a large scale but a coupla days ago-

    ‘The Kyiv authorities intend to ban travel abroad for teenagers from 16 to 18 years old, the bill has already been developed and submitted to the deputies of the Verkhovna Rada. According to the authors of this initiative, such a ban is necessary to protect boys and girls traveling to the EU countries. They say that EU social services often take children from Ukrainian refugees for various reasons, and this law will, as it were, protect teenagers from this, since they will not be able to leave Ukraine at all, only in cases specified by the new law.’

    Those neoNazis will not be happy until they burn down the entirety of the Ukraine’s biological seed corn.

    1. timbers

      “some people in the Ukraine are saying that every single male will have to be drafted”

      What about pets? Can’t they be fitted with bombs and sent into enemy territory? Cat’s maybe not so much but dogs are more trainable.

      And children…don’t forget children. Some could be trained at least almost as well if not better than dogs.

      1. The Rev Kev

        The idea expressed is that the guys on the front are exhausted and have to be relieved so that they can rest up and be re-equipped. So warm bodies will have to be found to take their place. The reality would be that they would hardly have any training, much in the way of arms and would fold when put under pressure. As for the children, hopefully we will not see the Zelensky Youth fighting on the streets of Kiev trying to protect Zelensky himself in his secret underground bunker.

        1. timbers

          If he lives long enough, some day Zelensky may ask himself “was it worth it?” But not in public of course. And then still, he may have grifted so much already his answer to himself will be: Of course it was!

        2. chuck roast

          Aye…he can give each of them a panserfaust and a kiss on the cheek. I do not wish to have to actually unsee that.

      2. Henry Moon Pie

        That was breached long ago. Remember in the first days of the war when we were treated to videos of old ladies and teenage girls making Molotov cocktails that they could toss at Russian tanks in the streets of Kiev?

    2. magpie

      “They say that EU social services often take children from Ukrainian refugees for various reasons… ”

      Will we see accusations of the EU conducting mass kidnappings of Ukrainian youth?

      1. Wukchumni

        Caught some good new fashioned grasp Putin and strangle him on NPR the other day after a week embargo from any information other than that was in my midst, and frankly was fortunate the window lock had been fastened down, for I was in danger of defenestrating en route down from the Giant Forest.

        Breathlessly some expert in the field assured listeners that the Russians had kidnapped 20,000 to 30,000 Ukrainian children and were going to turn them into Maidanchurian Candidates.

        1. magpie

          If anybody here has solid information on the Russian kidnapping saga, I’m all ears.

          The UNHCR says that as of December 31, 2022, no less than 1.2 million Ukrainian refugees are sheltering in the Russian Federation.

          By the way, if a state enforces a non-negotiable evacuation (whether it’s the Russians in Donbass or the Ukrainians in Kharkov Oblast), does that qualify as abduction, or not?

          Sorry to hear you heard some NPR.

      2. jrkrideau

        I was wondering about that. The ICC should be draughting the charges as I type. Kidnappers!

  2. Wukchumni

    We come to snoop on Joe B
    My aggrandizers and me
    Around DC town we did roam
    Drinking kool-aid all night
    M T-G got into a cat fight
    Well, I feel its time we broke up
    I wanna have him go home

    So hoist up Joe B’s e-mails
    See how the main sell sets
    Call for the captain’s gets
    Let him go home
    Let him go home
    I wanna make him go home, yeah, yeah
    Well, I feel its time we broke up
    I wanna make him go home

    The first son, he got dunked
    And broke into a not guilty funk
    The judge had to come and take his plea deal away
    Justice couldn’t atone
    Why don’t you leave me alone? Yeah, yeah
    Well, I feel its time we broke up
    I wanna make him go home

    So hoist up Joe B’s e-mail (hoist up Joe B’s e-mail)
    See how the main sell sets (see how the main sell sets)
    Call for the captain’s gets
    Let him go home
    Let him go home
    I wanna make him go home
    Let him go home (hoist up Joe B’s e-mail)
    (Why don’t you let him go home?)
    Hoist up Joe B’s e-mail (hoist up Joe B’s e-mail)
    Feel its time we broke up
    I wanna make him go home
    Let him go home

    The poor progeny, he caught the fits
    And gave away his laptop bits
    And then we got to see all his porn
    Let him go home
    Why don’t they let him go home?
    This is the worst administration ever been on

    So hoist up Joe B’s e-mail (hoist up Joe B’s e-mail)
    See how the main sell sets (see how the main sell sets)
    Call for the captain’s gets
    Let him go home
    Let him go home
    I wanna make him go home
    Let him go home

    Sloop John B, by the Beach Boys

  3. JohnA

    Re we are all conspiracy theorists now

    The part I object to is:
    They just believe that 9/11 was an inside job,

    It is not just a case of belief; plenty of architects, engineers, and physicists, for example, have set out extremely logical explanations as to why jet airliners crashing into the twin towers could not cause such a collapse.
    Nor is it a case of belief to argue that the Skripal door handle poisoning claim or Navalny underpants poisoning are riddled with logical impossibilities, to name other ‘conspiracies’.
    It may well be that claims as to the genuine cause of certain events are wide of the mark, but questioning official storylines is extremely far from simply being a conspiracy theorist. More like extreme scepticism that governments and politicians tell the truth.

    1. Acacia

      When dealing with USians who just swallow the “official storyline” of 9/11, it may be worth pointing out that it is also a “theory” about a conspiracy, i.e., it’s a speculative account of 19 guys who got together and secretly conspired an attack on the US, etc. So the question is really: which of the various accounts of a conspiracy is most plausible, and why? For me, at least, the “official” one about the 19 guys with box cutters doesn’t, um, cut it.

      Another simple approach I’ve found to talking with those who believe the official storyline is to simply ask: “in Manhattan on 9/11, how many planes crashed into buildings?” Most people will answer: “two planes”. Then ask: “and how many buildings collapsed?” Most people will again say: “two”. At which point, you can say: “nope, WTC 7 collapsed, but it wasn’t hit by a plane. So, two planes hit two buildings, but three towers collapsed.” At this point most people will just look puzzled, and if you want to twist the knife a bit, you can add: “anyway, it seems you need to do some homework”.

      As for an exploration of CT, I can highly recommend Adrian S. Wisnicki’s book: Conspiracy, Revolution, and Terrorism From Victorian Fiction to the Modern Novel (Routledge, 2008).

        1. Acacia

          “Mostly correct” according to the WaPo, which has of course never ever been involved in security state narrative enforcement.

    2. Richard Price

      With regard to the twin towers collapse: My father is a metallurgical engineer (MIT Sc.D. in the 50s). I recall him telling me that the structural support of the towers came from their steel exoskeleton, and that the steel used had a phase transition point well within the temperatures of the fire. During phase transition, the steel loses its strength. I have not seen that explanation elsewhere, but that settled any questions on the mechanism of collapse for me. He definitely knew his metals thermodynamics. Other questions, of course, remain.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        That would only explain a failure at the site of the strike (IIRC floor 95 or 97 of One World Trade), not on the floors below. You would expect it to buckle inward and the top part of the building to move out way of alignment and then presumably fall.

        This does not explain the failures on lower floors.

        And it does not explain the catastrophic collapse of WTC 7, which was not struck by a plane nor suffered a fire.

        I really don’t like taking up this topic, since the “truthers” lost this debate, but they do have a point that much of the official narrative does not hold up.

        1. Boomheist

          I actually worked in WTC tower number One 1984-1990, for the Port Authority of NY & NJ, which built the buildings and was very proud of them. My office was on the 64th floor. The way they were built, was, there was the exterior and then the offices were open all the way to an inner core which held the banks of elevators and stairwells. So the steel “holding up” the buildings was a combination of the outside panels and then the inside core within which the elevators were. Each floor was about one acre in extent. From the outside windows and walls to the inner core walls was a good distance. Our offices were these chest-high cubicles, so you could see all the way from the outside to the inner core. It was a good distance, very open. I used to exercise in the gym atop the hotel between the two towers, but lkater on chose to climb the 110 floor stairway B, bottom to top, terrific exercise, and along the way of course often saw the other floors through the access doors, often unlocked or open when offices were rebuilt. Again, open spaces with chest-high cubicles between the outer windows and the inner elevators/file rooms/meeting rooms with walls.
          So when those planes hit the upper two-thirds of the buildings, the fires raging from all the fuel heated the steel at and above and just below the impact site. I actually was watching TV real time when both towers fell. Looked to me, and seems logical, that the heat caused the upper floors to pancake and fall and then the combined weight and pressure was such that the falling upper floors then pancaked all the lower floors, siuch that the towers collapsed almost at the speed of a falling object. Lots of conspiracy people argue that the WTC towers were assisted with internal explosions but there is no evidence of that, I think. The collapse of Tower 7 is a huge red flag of course.

          Here is another aspect. At two places in those buildings, around the 35th and then around the 68th floors (I think) there was a floor comprising HVAC and electricasl stuff, because those huge buildings required amazing engineering to keep climate controlled, and these utility areas meant that the stairways rising from the ground to the top had to, twice, come to a place and then jog on one level over to another set of stairs going up, then come to the next utility place, and jog again. So when I climbed stairway B (which I later learned in Tower One was the main stairway people came down) it went up to about the 35th floor and then you had to go down a short corridor to another rising stairway, and the same thing at about the 68th floor, this one a longer corriddor, before then climbing all the way up to 110. So people who were above that 68th floor were in a dangerous place in that they had to find their way to the next stairway down, in smoke and among fear and terror. It is astonishing to me anyone escaped from above where the planes hit. However, it is important to point out that in I thnk 1993 there was a terrorist explosion in the basement parking area of one of the towers and so the people in the buildings had learned and practiced a bit as to how to get out and this may have saved lives in 2001. I was told this by many of my former colleagues at the Port Authority later on.

          So I would speculate the failures on the lower floors were simply a function of weight and mass and pressure from above overcoming structural strength, whereas the topmost floors started failing due to the heat on the steel. This also by the way explains how it was that the towers fell in a nearly perfectly vertical place, not tipping one way or another (the top of one tower did fall a bit sideways I think), which is exactly what you might expect if the cause of the collapse is fundamentally mass and gravity.

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            Again, the collapse was perfectly symmetrical and nearly the speed of free fall. There was no resistance. It is not logical to expect asymmetrical damage to produce a symmetrical fall. Even slight differences in the rate of failure from side to in the floors below the impact area (which took seriously lopsided damage) would have led to an asymmetrical collapse, with massive damage to neighboring buildings.

            Jet fuel burns at 800F to 1500F. Steel melts at around 2500F. The contents were things like curtains and carpets and furniture (presumably a lot with fire retardands), computers, etc. It is hard to see what in the way of contents would have increased the burning temperature by a great amount, or led steel to melt and buckle at a low temperature.

            The fires were staring to get smoky, which meant they were becoming less intense….

            Look, I don’t like where this line of thinking goes but the facts really do not line up at all properly.

            1. Richard Price

              The phase transition that my father referred to has to do with the crystalline structure of the (solid) steel. These transitions are distinctly different from the melting point insofar as the steel in an equilibrium state in the different phases would still be solid, not molten. In the non-equilibrium transitions due to changing temperature, the steel loses it strength. The argument that the fires didn’t reach the melting point is not meaningful under the mechanism described, a fact that I believe is widely misunderstood, and one that I believe my father’s training and career in thermal processing of metals made him capable of recognizing.

              A random site on phase diagrams

              1. ACPAL

                Metal need not get very hot before it begins to lose significant strength. Here is a list of steel temperatures by color.

                Now there are many steel alloys as well as heat treatments that affect how a particular alloy reacts to heat but my experience as an amateur metal worker is that I can feel the softness of steel with my hammer and anvil at colors well below incandescent (about 800F). At a solid orange (around 1200F) I can bend 1″ rebar by hand into fairly sharp angles. You definitely don’t need to melt steel to bend it.

                The rest of the argument about the WTC disaster I haven’t spent much time on but I work steel, cold and hot, quite often and that I can attest to.

                1. Yves Smith Post author

                  The point here is not the failure of the steel at and near the site of impact.

                  The point is that that is not sufficient to explain the symmetrical and near free fall speed collapse of the building.

                  I really do not like this topic. I was initially a skeptic but when I looked at this issue in further detail, the official story merely explain how part of the building could have failed. It does not come within hailing distance of explaining these particular total collapses.

                2. Pat Duffy

                  Quoting the late Danny Jowenko, renowned Dutch demolition expert and owner of Jowenko Explosieve Demolitie, upon seeing video footage of building seven being brought down:

                  “This is controlled demolition… a team of experts did this…This is professional work, without any doubt.”


                  Why don’t others with said expertise in the United States speak out? The question was put to Jowenko by independent researcher Jeff from Canada:

                  Jeff: “When I called Controlled Demolition (CDI) here in America…”

                  Jowenko: “Yes.”

                  Jeff: “They tell me that, ‘Oh, it’s possible it came down from fire and this and that, and stuff like that.”

                  Jowenko: “Listen, when the FEMA makes a report, that it came down by fire, and you have to earn your money in the state as a controlled demolition company, and you say no – it was a controlled demolition…you, you are gone, you know?”

                  Jeff: “Yeah, yeah exactly, you’ll be in a lot of trouble if you say that, right?”

                  Jowenko: “Of course. That’s the end of your, your…that’s the end of the story.”


          2. Acacia

            Even the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) dismissed the “pancake theory” of the collapse, already by 2006. From their FAQ on the WTC collapse:

            NIST’s findings do not support the “pancake theory” of collapse, which is premised on a progressive failure of the floor systems in the WTC towers (the composite floor system—that connected the core columns and the perimeter columns—consisted of a grid of steel “trusses” integrated with a concrete slab […]).

        2. TomDority

          Where can I find the official narrative — or is that secret — If I actually do have a grasp on a narrative – then the only part of the narrative I can see, that does not hold up, was the absurd notion that this was a highly sophisticated attack.
          The planes impact removed the spray on fire proofing on the metal parts of the building surrounding a masonry center core building – if you have ever seen massive intact timber beams with metal beams draped like spaghetti over them after a fire then you understand how metal deforms in heat – their is no expectation of buckling in any direction or moving out to understand that an object in motion tends to stay in motion, that massive overhead weight set into motion could not be stopped by lower floors structural design and that the bam bam bam heard was floors pancaking and picking up momentum and releasing all the potential energy from its height and weight coming down – the whole site was heated up from potential energy converting to heat energy in addition to the fuel fire — that WTC 7 came down from impacting debris is no mystery.
          The mystery to me is why this developed into a bunch of misguided conspiracy crap when, in truth, this attack was not much on sophistication or deep planning and the national security apparatus was just plain brain dead and did all they could to narrate how ‘sophisticated’ and genius it all was. Pleeeeze –
          Sorry Yves

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            There is no evidence of “impacting debris” at least of the necessary degree. The two towers fell very neatly into their own footprints, quite remarkable for buildings so tall and narrow. There was no “bam bam bam”.

            This was asymmetrical damage and very high up. Tell me how you get such a perfect tidy collapse from that.

            I worked at One WTC. 7 WTC is across a wide street and well set back. And it collapsed like the other towers, at nearly the rate of free fall, as in no resistance from any structural elements.

            The problem is if the official story does not add up you are indeed left with not pretty alternatives to ponder. But that is no reason to reject questioning a questionable story.

            1. JP

              Please cite your source for the no “bam bam bam”. This element is crucial to the mode of failure from the structural analysis I have read. BTW the transformation temp is about 1150 F (dull red) but steel begins losing strength well before austinitic transformation.

              I remember the day well. Video of the aircraft hitting the towers was broadcast very quickly, which lends a lot of credence to the suspicion that the aircraft might have caused the collapse. Also the damage was at the top. It’s not like the towers leaned over and fell.

              The main problem with a CT like this is the enormous amount of persons with technical expertise that would have to be involved and the coordination it would take to pull it off especially with foreign state help yet no one with credible involvement has spoken. It is also a problem that people do not just want to consider all the possibilities, they want to believe.

              1. Yves Smith Post author

                Look at the videos, FFS. You can see the extreme speed at which the buildings fell. No resistance. Not even the slightest difference in speed in the way the floors fell. Perfectly even all the way down.

                I have not verified but on Quora an engineer went through the then current list of high-rise fires which all would have steel frames. Only 2 collapsed and they were not symmetrical falls. If there had even been the slightest difference in the rate of fall, the upper part would have started listing as it fell, which could only become more severe (the “faster” side/corner would hit the next lower floor first, so the force of impact would be concentrated there, rapidly increasing the degree of tilt).

                I am not responsible for coming up with an alternative explanation. It is sufficient to take note that the official story does not hold up.

                1. Alex Cox

                  You are being very generous to the NC commentariat wirh these responses.
                  I have long since given up on idiots who won’t do basic research.
                  Thank you for your patience and intelligence.

            2. Victor Sciamarelli

              To Yves: The WTC was built using strong vertical steel columns roughly 30-Ft long and 3-Ft apart forming a square shaped tube. The horizontal tenant floors were a grid of lightweight steel bar trusses covered in thin metal and topped with concrete. The truss-seat, which was only a small narrow lip of metal attached to every other vertical steel beam, allowed the truss to be connected to a vertical steel beam. The truss was designed to hold that floor and nothing else. Once the truss weakened, it was easy to imagine it would break from its truss-seat and collapse on to the floor below, on and on.
              The aircraft impact on the towers was so violent that it no doubt obliterated the vertical wall of steel, continued, and obliterated the opposite vertical wall of steel leaving two side walls but they likely suffered damage as well. This means most of the truss-seats in the impact area were gone leaving the floors hanging by a thread, as well as, cracked concrete, broken joints where the vertical beams connect, etc. The pancake collapse makes sense.
              I was unaware that, as mentioned, building 7 collapsed pancake style as well. I can only speculate that the massive cloud produced when the twin towers collapsed contained a vast amount of shrapnel that shredded building 7’s interior truss system as well.

              Especially Note figures 4 & 5

                1. Victor Sciamarelli

                  I’m not going to waste my time refuting the so-called Architects for Truth and their ‘sure looks like a controlled demolition’ non-sense.

                  1. Yves Smith Post author

                    Straw man. She did not cite them but accused you of cheery-picking and misrepresenting the NIST finding and provided a section that apparently contradicts what you said.

                    I am not keen about her heatedness but you are the one here engaging in bad faith argumentation.

                    1. Darthbobber

                      Actually, she does cite them, because that written submission TO the NIST that she links to is precisely by and from that organization.

                      Also, it’s hardly evidence of anything that a site that contains all of the written submissions by outside parties contais info promoting almost every possible view.

                    2. Yves Smith Post author

                      I stand corrected and apologize for the mistake. I should have checked all the links. However, we are still left with ad hominem fallacy. He needs to rebut the argument on the merits. The article he links to is not a NIST product either but a document also on their site.

                      And pointing to two images is not an argument. Even Wikipedia points out that the core carried about half the buildings’ weight, as is confirmed in other articles. It is described as a separate structural system. Yet I see nowhere a discussion of why the core failed and why it would catastrophically fail at the same rate as the other elements. Note also the core had more concrete as a major constituent element.

                      I also do not see mentioned anywhere that the core mix pf elements changed at floor 78 in One WTC. You had massive elevators from ground to 78 (the kind used in diamond mines) and then you changed to smaller elevators to take you to the higher floors. That would seem to be germane since the One WTC hit was at floor 95-96 and above the Skylobby, but again, not mentioned.

                      I also dishonest presentation in the linked article. If you look at a ground map early on, you can see how far One and Two WTC are from Seven. But the report shows a picture of Seven WTC with One burning behind it, which makes it look as if One loomed right over 7, when the low but wide Three WTC and Vesey Street were in between.

                      The problem here is if you try to argue, you wind up falling into the morass that some of the “truthers” created and others fell into, by coming up with many many issues about the official story, some of which were strong, other of which were either secondary or otherwise not compelling. Too many points comes off like a Gish Gallop and induces MEGO (“My eyes glaze over”) in the audience.

                      I also went hunting (I should have started on Brave or Yandex, I may try later) for the various European documentaries and articles by engineers and architects. I’ve looked at a couple and they are well presented and substantiated. That would provide a useful sanity check on the overheated US viewpoints on this topic.

            1. Victor Sciamarelli

              It would be helpful if you actually said something.
              Perhaps you’ve been to an old building or church and noticed internal columns everywhere. A modern building doesn’t need interior columns. Yet, the floor above you needs to be somehow supported. This is done by building a truss which is made of light weight steel spanning the width of the building and which is then attached at multiple locations to the perimeter wall. Once attached, the truss can now support a 4” thick concrete floor as in the WTC; 4” concrete is darn heavy and the truss is made to support its own floor, not more.
              The hijacked aircraft obliterated the vertical steel walls and thereby most of the connection points for the truss. The subsequent fire, no doubt, contributed to weakening the truss until it eventually gave way and collapsed pancake style.
              How does this explanation contradict your accepted narrative?

              1. Acacia

                Uh, I said something very clear. Please try to read more carefully.

                You claim:

                A modern building doesn’t need interior columns.

                So, WTC 7 built in the 1980s with 24 internal support columns was not a “modern building”?

                And the architecture of Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe is not “modern”?

                I’m sorry to say this, but it really feels like you need to go and do some homework before commenting on this thread.

                1. Victor Sciamarelli

                  You still haven’t said anything. Then just tell me exactly how and why you think WTC 7 collapsed.

        3. Troy

          Steel melts at high temperatures. But it can warp at significantly lower temperatures.

          A single steel column warped from these lower temperatures; it bulged outwards and upwards which would’ve caused the steel column to drop its load inward. The weight of this collapse absolutely destroys the structural integrity of the floors below almost instantly.

          Without any integrity at the bottom, the rest of the building above would fall straight down like a slinky.

          1. redleg

            The strength of heated steel decreases rapidly before it deforms, let alone melts.

            Once collapse starts, the shock of the collapse will travel through the steel structure as a shock wave, basically at the speed of sound in steel while the load carried by the structure changes from static to dynamic. That’s where my knowledge peaks. Is the shock wave shear plus dynamic load force enough to cause failure? IMO probably. Failure should be straight down and rapidly achieving free fall as there isn’t an outside force acting on that accelerating mass to move the mass anywhere but down.
            My eyes and engineering + geophysics training doesn’t see a problem with the explanation of how those particular structures failed.
            Just before the burning Bldg 7 came down, the officials being interviewed on whichever channel I was watching at the time, live TV, said that they were about implode that building for some reason or another that made sense at that moment. I don’t remember the given reason or recall which official it was. Minutes later it came down. The CT that I see is that the audio and video recording of that interview, that I watched live, is nowhere to be found.

            1. Acacia

              As noted in a previous comment, even the NIST report admits that WTC 7 collapsed perfectly straight into its own footprint at the rate of gravity for 2.25 seconds:

              “This free fall drop continued for approximately 8 stories or 32.0 m (105 ft)”

              I.e., during the collapse, all the support columns of eight entire floors of the building somehow offered no resistance whatsoever — as if they just suddenly disappeared. And again, this building wasn’t hit by a plane.

              NIST’s analysis is based upon extant video evidence — you can watch it on YouTube —, not on conjecture about something that somebody remembers some official saying in a live video interview that can no longer be found.

        4. XXYY

          I remember reading an analysis of this. A particular floor in a building is specified to have the ability to hold up a certain amount of force or weight. Under static conditions this requirement is met and the building stays up.

          Now imagine a large source of heat on one floor in the middle of the building, which heats the structural members above the temperature where they become plastic. This is not terribly high for steel as any blacksmith knows. At this point the entire weight of the building above the floor crashes down about 12 ft or whatever onto the floor of the level that’s on fire.

          The impact produced by the top of the building falling 12 ft is vastly beyond what any particular floor in the building is required to hold. It’s just completely out of spec. As a result, the floors below begin to collapse, bringing the whole building down in a pancake fashion as we have seen.

          This take has always made sense to me.

          1. Boomheist

            I agree and would add that in order to set up a system of internal demolition that would cause these buildings to collapse requires that the many many charges being placed would need to be placed without being seen, and this, believe me, would be hard to do even with internal Port Authority maintenance staff. Just too many charges spread over two buildings, too many details, something hugely complex needing to be planned and then installed and then, what, wait for the planes to hit? Yes the buildings fell straight down, but the manner of the collapse HAD to be simple physics not charges or explosives. I just rewatched a number of videos from that day, and I submit the roaring sound you hear as the buildings collapse is the very pancaking of the floors, accelerating as the weight builds and the speed increases. So I dont think the tower collapses were assisted, period. I think the planes and the fuel and the heat just created a circumstance that resulted in a dramatic and awful result that I bet none of the perpetrators really imagined….having said that, though, the Tower 7 collapse as Yves says is highly, highly suspicious. There is no explanation for it, really.

            1. Acacia

              Re: would be hard to do even with internal Port Authority maintenance staff …

              What’s your take on the sketchy group of foreign artists named “Gelatin” that were given “temporary construction” passes to the entire WTC complex from 2000 to 2001 — have you heard about this? Looks like Port Authority just let them in to do whatever they wanted.

              They set up shop in WTC 1 on the 91st floor (coincidentally, the plane hit the 93-98 floors), removing windows, ceiling tiles, exposing the steel structure of the building. There are photos of this. Supposedly, they removed windows — against Port Authority rules but nobody was held accountable — and built a balcony on the outside of the structure, as “an art prank”.

              Photos show they brought in many boxes of something, stacked floor to ceiling. The NYT covered their “art project” on Aug. 18, 2001, just a few weeks before the attack, see: “Balcony Scene (Or Unseen) Atop the World; Episode at Trade Center Assumes Mythic Qualities”. The NYT choice of “mythic” in the title is to communicate that some people involved with the artists were both avowing that the artists were there, but also that their balcony “never happened” and “the project might have been faked”.

              Clearly there was a major security lapse, and something about the whole story smells very odd.

              1. boomheist

                Even if this is true this in no way.explains how these people then managed to place explosives throighout the entire building. I sae many floors being rebuilt when I ran the stairs and the floor would be cleared out totally before new carpet etc. I would actually submit that pancaking is the only explanation that explains the speed and acceleration of the collapses. Someone explain to me how you could place charges all around the perimeter of a 200 foot square floor, of.more than 100 such floors, all rigged up to ezplode not at the same time but in a top to bottom flow exactly matching falling material? I think this was just physics, the collapsing floors accelerating and almost liquid in their.motion. Domino effect on steroids.

                1. Acacia

                  Out of curiosity, where do you get the figure of “more than 100” floors would need to be blown to initiate full collapse? I mean, the number 100+ — where is that from?

                  As mentioned previously, NIST explicitly dismissed the pancaking theory (see their FAQ on the WTC collapse). I won’t try to go through their rationale, but I will grant that there are a number of other reasons we might question their report.

                  I assume you are not a structural engineer, nor am I, so I will defer to John Skilling, the head structural engineer for WTC:

                  Twin Towers Engineered To Withstand Jet Collision

                  First, note that the date is 1993. Money quote:

                  Concerned because of a case where an airplane hit the Empire State Building, Skilling’s people did an analysis that showed the towers would withstand the impact of a Boeing 707.

                  “Our analysis indicated the biggest problem would be the fact that all the fuel (from the airplane) would dump into the building. There would be a horrendous fire. A lot of people would be killed,” he said. “The building structure would still be there.” […]

                  Although Skilling is not an explosives expert, he says there are people who do know enough about building demolition to bring a structure like the Trade Center down.

                  “I would imagine that if you took the top expert in that type of work and gave him the assignment of bringing these buildings down with explosives, I would bet that he could do it.”

                  So, again, I am wondering where the figure of “100+ floors” came from. And what if it were fewer, say, like 10 or even 3 floors?

      2. Mildred Montana

        A conspiracy works best when it is kept as small and simple as possible. The more conspirators and targets involved the greater the chance of detection and/or failure. Explosives planted in the Twin Towers in advance, as some “truthers” suggest? Bah. Why complicate a straight-forward plan?

        Love CT’s but I can’t buy into this one.

        1. Romancing the Loan

          Agreed. Whoever you think was ultimately responsible, the marginal propaganda benefit gained from the twin towers actually collapsing – as opposed to “just” being hit square on by the passenger planes full of people – would not be worth the vastly increased effort and risk of planting explosives to make sure they did.

          1. Acacia

            Disagree. Did you know that a USAF B-25 once crashed into the Empire State Building?

            If you didn’t — be honest —, what does that tell you?

            The entire crew of the plane died. How many people know about this crash? I think we can safely say: very, very few. Because the damage was patched up, the building is still standing, and the whole episode was forgotten, consigned to history.

            Meanwhile, here we are still talking about the 9/11 attacks, decades later, because it was and remains a national trauma. How did it become a national trauma? I submit that it was due to the complete destruction of the towers and massive loss of life on that fateful day. Remember the images of people jumping out of the towers on fire? Remember the nearly 3000 dead? Is that what you call a “marginal propaganda benefit”?

            As a reminder, all of this deeply freaked out USians. Idk if you knew anybody who was in NYC that day, but I did and they all pretty much lost it. People I had known for years as modest, peaceful liberals were suddenly unhinged, telling me the attack was “obviously a casus belli“, and we were going to war. I had other friends tell me they woke up the next morning, turned on the TV, and the message was clear: “we are at WAR with whoever did this dastardly deed (might be some bunch of A-rabs out there), and we’re at WAR with the UN and anyone else who doesn’t give their unconditional approval for whatever military action we will take against the world!” And this message was repeated and pounded into everybody’s head for years.

            Of course we have decades of distance from the 9/11 attacks now, but people remember vividly. If you think back, the effect of seeing the towers collapse was spectacular — jouissif, as one of my French friends put it, look that word up lol —, like something we’d already seen in a film (from the entire Pruitt-Igoe complex of 33 towers being destroyed by explosives in Koyaanisqatsi, set to a Philip Glass score, all the way to Christian Slater previewing the total destruction of his High School in Heathers).

            As for the glib dismissal of “truthers”, there is an association of thousands of professional architects and engineers who have presented arguments and evidence for why the towers didn’t collapse because they were hit by planes. If you wish to tell them how they are all wrong, and how you know more about their professions:

            1. JP

              I know a lot of engineers. They are often wrong and academic professionals love to speculate. I do know the Bush administration wanted a war (any war). I know that Cheney overrode honest analysis from the pentagon and security agencies to accomplish that and I suspect that he would have done what ever was necessary. However it seems to me the twin tower attack, like the battle ship of Maine, was the powers of evil simply taking advantage of a golden opportunity.

              1. Acacia

                If architectural engineers are “often wrong”, why aren’t buildings often collapsing?

                In support of your rebuttal, please feel free to list all the steel-frame towers that have collapsed due to fire, in the entire history of modern architecture.

                1. Boomheist

                  I think, as I remember being told this when I started working in Tower number one, that the system of the structure was different than earlier structures – the Empire State and similar skyscrapers had heavy steel frames running up and down throughout the floors, such that you ended up with many offices and rooms, whereas WTC was built with another system using the outer walls and the inner core to hold the floors, otherwise unsupported up and down anywhere else. In other words the floors were “hanging” sand attached at the inner core and then along the outside perimeter. This is a huge difference, I think. I don;t know though whether the “hanging” style of floor for skyscrapers is what all of them now use. I am sure engineer readers will straighten me out….

                  1. Acacia

                    OK, perhaps you meant to comment elsewhere.

                    If not, I take it that the point at issue here is whether engineers are “often wrong” as JP claims, not the design of the original WTC 1 & 2.

                    Note that I am not the one making the claim that engineers are “often wrong”, i.e., passing judgment on an entire profession, apparently to try and deflect or discredit possibly inconvenient questions about the triple collapse of the WTC towers, and I am not the one implying that one building technique is weaker than another — I will leave that to an actual architectural engineer.

                    I merely submit that if architectural engineers are “often wrong” about steel frame buildings collapsing due to fire, that there would very logically be many steel frame buildings that have in fact collapsed due to fire, because the engineers who designed them were, per the claim above, “often wrong” about the durability of their designs in the event of massive fires.

                    In fact, though, I believe that in the entire history of steel-frame tower architecture, there have been very very few that collapsed due to fire.
                    E.g., the Grenfell Tower, the Federation Tower in Moscow, and the curiously named Marina Torch Tower in Dubai, etc. — they all burned and remained standing.

                    Of course, I am open to being proven wrong, if evidence could be provided. So, my suggestion for anyone seeking to rebut this point, would be that they might provide hard evidence of numerous cases in which steel-frame buildings collapsed due to fire, again, meaning the engineers who designed them were “often wrong” and failed to create a structure that could endure such a catastrophe.

                  2. juliania

                    The point which you made about the area for each floor being about an acre — that is really really large for a building and I remember it said at the time that the construction of the two towers was unique in this open space design. We watched on tv the time occurrence when Peter Jennings was narrating – there was filming in the lower areas going on as people were escaping the building, and then came the news it was collapsing. The alarm Jennings expressed was genuine.

                    The planes did hit the buildings. Somebody was so prepared to fake the collapse? It doesn’t compute. New fangled design, each floor open and extending an acre in area. Are other buildings of that design now or not?

                    I do think something was suspected- Bush’s location and his 7 minute delay as he realized what it actually was – that wasn’t faked. He was scared, got himself into the air and stayed there a good long time. They were scrambling.

            2. Victor Sciamarelli

              To Acacia: With all due respect to the ESB tragedy, compared to modern aircraft the B-25 is basically a can opener. Like airplanes of its day, it was light and slow flying.
              The 9/11 hyjackers knew what they needed. The B-767s that departed Boston were headed for the West coast and thus filled with fuel.
              From the images I saw, I think, the 9/11 aircraft were traveling in excess of 300 mph. A heavy B-767 would not even be very stable at less than 200 mph without using the flaps and the hyjackers were certainly not interested in flying slow. I would also estimate the aircraft were about 10x heavier than the B-25.
              Now try this on for a moment: KE = 1/2mv2. As you can see from the formula, the Kinetic Energy increases directly with the Mass, but it starts to go off the chart because velocity is squared. The B-25 was nothing like the B-767s.

          2. Es s Cetera

            I’m not sure it was a propaganda benefit. It’s possible, but not necessary.

            If three letter agencies had offices and equipment on those floors, why they were targeted in the first place then, in the event of a successful attack on the infrastructure, all of the sensitive equipment and documents needs to be quickly and tidily disappeared, so explosives were probably planned and pre-placed in case of such an eventuality, perhaps long before Al Qaeda was a thing, perhaps it’s standard operating procedure for buildings housing sensitive national security stuff.

            If true, then a three letter agency or two or three killed 4k Americans for national security reasons, not necessarily, as many have posited, to create an incident for propaganda purposes to create pretext for wars or foment hatred of foreigners.

        2. Mark Gisleson

          I used to believe that only small conspiracies succeed.

          How long has [fill in the blank] kept the US news media and all the elites “in the know” from talking about what really happened in Dallas on November 22, 1963? Ditto RFK’s assassination.

          Why does Tucker Carlson’s new interview with ex Capitol Hill Police Chief Steven Sund make it seem possible that ALL the news media and the 1/6 Committee managed to somehow engineer a fake riot. If embeds drove the disturbances, that secret’s been tightly held by an awfully large number of people for a couple of years now. ??

          As is pointed out elsewhere in today’s comments, most conspiracy theories sound more convincing with time. And…I’d bet that most of the really fake conspiracy theories were created by the Dip State actors who want us to think their actual bad deeds were just trash talk from weirdos with yarn diagrams.

          I did NOT come around on these conspiracies easily. It’s not so much that new truths are being uncovered as it is that today’s generation of Dip Staters are really crappy liars.

          1. Mildred Montana

            As I write in the same vein immediately below, Russiagate was pseudo-legal collusion white-washed by a compliant MSM. Nothing so small or sordid as a conspiracy. It was bigger than that and much more “respectable”.

            1. RalphR

              This is not a rebuttal.

              You don’t get to have your own private definition of words.

              The Steele Dossier was most assuredly a conspiracy and that is what got Russiagate going.

              And I dimly recall someone (Yves?) quoting Daniel Ellsberg that there are secrets of vital national importance regularly kept by thousands of people when Americans assume (incorrectly) that someone would leak it to the press. So your premise is wrong.

        3. barefoot charley

          Two CT points hard to dismiss: cops, bystanders and firemen on the ground reported several underground explosions, and afterwards molten steel under the wreckage impeded clearing the evidence/wreckage. Molten steel under the wreckage from the 96th floor?

          And most glaringly, the official 911 report dealt with Building 7’s implausibilities by ignoring the whole building. As far as the report is concerned, it didn’t fall down. Elegant!

          1. emboldened lurker

            Wasn’t all the steel removed, with the result that no one could do proper forensics or simulations?

            I do recall seeing at least one video of a firefighter or cop describing the explosions.

            Also that core stayed super hot for weeks, again does not make sense with a jet fuel fire. This was regularly mentioned at the time.

              1. John Anthony La Pietra

                Not sure if this gets us any farther, and definitely not trying to be snide or snarky — but, looking at the question, this much toward an answer popped into my head:

                Either an initial fuel supply that lasted for weeks, or an ongoing fuel re-supply that lasted for weeks. . . .

                (So what possibilities fit under one or the other of those?)

        4. Hickory

          That’s why it makes sense to bring in outsiders – it would not take that many federal authority figures to coordinate with Saudi leaders to use Saudi operatives for example and then make sure they had the needed access and prevent any security from stopping them.

          As Yves says – when the official story is obviously bunk, the only place to look is elsewhere. And it further implicates the gov’t as willfully ignorant at best. Symmetric free fall, clear signs (slow the videos down) of debris shooting out horizontally from the buildings’ core, building 7, etc. So it wasn’t airplanes, it was explosives, the question is who and why, and we know they managed to enlist the federal gov’t and media to generate a cover story. That all points to the reality that people who make the big decisions about our collective lives are not on our side. Same as in every country actually.

          George Carlin described this well – it’s a big club and you and I are not in it. And they don’t want good things for us.

          1. flora

            It always amazed me, the speed with which the Patriot Act was drafted, introduced, and passed. How did they comb through all the old surveillance statutes that fast? I guess computer search helped. It took a month – from 9-11 to October 2001. I guess Congress can act fast when an opportunity presents itself.


            It did seem odd to me to give the agencies that failed so spectacularly even more power. Maybe that’s what big bureaucracies do: Fail upward.

            1. The Rev Kev

              Nothing to be amazed about. It was simply sitting on a shelf in some office waiting for the right opportunity to be introduced. They must have been working on it for years. Perhaps bits and pieces of it were previously introduced on their own as minor legislation and if passed, deleted from the Patriot Act itself. But it was always waiting to be introduced as was the idea of a Department of Homeland Security to lock American down under a security state.

              1. Wukchumni

                When I figured out Congress’s dirty little secret that all they really accomplish on a bipartisan basis is the renaming of federal buildings (post offices, etc) it makes you wonder that they could be so goddamn efficient in having something like the Patriot Act all packaged and ready to go.

                1. The Rev Kev

                  That wasn’t Congress’s work. That is the work of people like Dick Cheney and institutes like the American Enterprise Institute. Congress had to only rubber stamp it and I think I read at the time that when that Act was passed, most of the people in Congress had never even read it.

                  1. ForFawkesSakes

                    Sleepy Joe Biden claims to have been one of the authors back in the 90’s while drafting what became the Patriot Act

              2. JBird4049

                Yes, I am not entirely convinced that all of 9/11 was a vast conspiracy, but whatever it was, the Patriot Act was already written. They were just waiting for an opportunity with the right levels of pseudo patriotism, panic, and bull manure to get it passed. It is a political form of disaster capitalism with no need for the act’s writers needing to be involved with 9/11 in anyway.

                Some of these conspiracies are of people working together in key positions working together, plus threats and bribes being used on others to fall in. Then add the massive amount of post disaster posterior covering to avoid any responsibility as well as incompetence, stupidity, error, and even honest mistakes.

                The hollowing out of the government agencies makes it easy to manipulate the system as are not only the remaining people less competent, and more manipulative and corrupt, there are fewer checks against any mistakes that are made by even the honest and capable. It makes conspiracies easier to succeed in.

            2. Acacia

              Agree with Rev Kev, above. The plans were already formulated, and Congress was not involved in the war planning.

              Curiously (or perhaps not), the decision to invade Iraq also happened in less than a month — already by September 20th, i.e., not even ten days after the attack, according to Gen. Wesley Clark:


              And once bombing in Afghanistan had started — a.k.a. Operation “Enduring Freedom”, launched on October 7th — Clark was further told that the office of the Secy. of Defense had already decided to “take out seven countries in five years, starting with Iraq and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and finishing off Iran”.

        5. ArvidMartensen

          If you want to wield power, the best way to do it is in secret. If you want to create a situation that is to your advantage while ruining a competitor, you do it so that it appears to be a natural outcome of circumstances.
          One where the third person can be used. Such as, a fire burned down the other local factory, started by an electrical fault. Rather than, my inside guy left the bar heater running next to a big stack of paper invoices over the weekend. Easy-peasy.

          And isnt that what every politician, military planner, business competitor wants? Get your own way without any blowback on you? Kids learn this when knee-high. “Timmy did it” (broken window, bath overflowing, bruises on little sister, whatever”.

          We all know that’s how human beings work. Our problem is that our politicians, military and business people are so far removed from us that we cannot know how they caused something to happen, but we do know that if something hugely advantages one of them, that their hand is probably in there somewhere.

          And so we get to conjecturing how they could have done it. And of course anyone who gets near the truth has to be shut down, and so the explanations that are closest to the truth get shut down as ‘conspiracy theories’ and we are discouraged from even considering these theories by being shamed and branded as stupid.
          Works most times, especially on those who think for some reason that they really are superior in some way (eg the professional managerial caste), but in reality are being manipulated for fun and profit like everyone else

      3. dave -- just dave

        I have thought that the fire did not need to be hot enough to melt the steel framework of the buildings – the two towers that were struck, or the nearby building that collapsed – just hot enough to weaken it – gravity did the rest. Prepositioning explosives seems unlikely. I could be wrong, of course.

      4. magpie

        With regard to WTC 7’s collapse, the New York Fire Department terminated the firefighting effort in WTC 7 and evacuated the immediate area at approximately 4:30pm that afternoon. Per fire chief Daniel Nigro: “”The biggest decision we had to make was to clear the area and create a collapse zone around the severely damaged building…the building’s integrity was in serious doubt.”

        NYFD Deputy Chief Nick Visconti, Battalion Chief John Norman, and Captain Chris Boyle all observed significant structural damage to the south side of WTC 7 as early as 10:00 a.m. that morning (photographs of this damage do exist and are available online.)

        Here is a link to Captain Boyle’s recollection, in Firehouse magazine:

        1. Acacia

          If there was “significant structural damage to the south side of WTC 7″, then how did the entire building fall perfectly straight down? You can watch the videos on the Net.

          Did you know that even the “official” National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) report on the collapse of WTC 7 admits that the top of the building dropped at the rate of gravity for 2.25 seconds into its own footprint ? From the report:

          “This free fall drop continued for approximately 8 stories or 32.0 m (105 ft)”

          So even NIST admits that eight entire floors of the building somehow offered no resistance whatsoever during the collapse — as if all the internal support columns just “disappeared” all at once.

          Again, WTC 7 was not hit by a plane.

    3. pjay

      There have been a ton of articles like this. My first question is always: *whose* “conspiracies,” or *which* “conspiracies,” are being “explained” away as motivational or psychological defects? The author seems to fit the usual “liberal” profile; her examples of deluded CTers appear to be MAGA types. But here is the definition of CT she uses, from the APA article she cites:

      “Broadly, conspiracy theories refer to causal explanations of events that ascribe blame to a group of powerful individuals (the conspirators) who operate in secret to form hidden plans that benefit themselves and harm the common good. Thus, the definitional recipe of conspiracy theories involves three primary ingrediants: conspirators, hidden plans, [and] malintent against others or society.”

      Now anyone who has read Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine knows that it is chock full of such “conspiracies,” yet these seem to be legitimate for the author, unlike those she refers to as “events-based” CTs. She gives some examples, but such “events” can certainly be examined using the “holistic” criteria she sees as legitimate. So, as always, it boils down to: irrational “conspiracy theories” are those I don’t agree with.

      My second question is always: what is your theory of Russiagate? I bet I can guess.

      1. Mildred Montana

        Imo the reason CTs have a tendency to proliferate today is that the peoples of many nations are in the grip of corrupt corporatocracies where big business does what it wants, government sanctions it, and the justice system turns a blind eye.

        These peoples, being helpless in such a polity, naturally turn to CTS as a vent for their anger and simmering distrust in government. The CTs are not without some basis in truth but they’re not sufficiently comprehensive. What is really happening is legalized collusion on a grand scale

        1. Not Qualified to Comment

          the then current list of high-rise fires which all would have steel frames.

          All such fires, I would offer, had a static localised heart. It may have spread from there but the core of the fire would not have moved and so, as you say, produced an asymmetrical weakness.

          The WTC towers were hit by aircraft weighing tens of tons travelling at more that a hundred miles an hour. That would have punched a relatively small hole in the exterior shell and made nothing of the interior office partitioning until it hit the relatively compact solid and main weight-bearing structure like a spine at the core, concentrating the damage and the resulting fire there. As that weakened, the still largely undamaged exterior tried to support the weight of the building as it collapsed, drawing it inwards from all directions like drawing the centre support from a house of cards.

          Is that what actually happened? I’ve no idea, but it’s where Occam’s Razor takes me as against all the necessarily complicated and convoluted conspiracy theories this and that analysis of what happened on the day is claimed to support.

          Occam’s Razor also makes me question why someone/some organisation with the resources and ability to plant explosives sufficient to bring the WTC buildings down at will would bother to add the vulnerabilities and incredibly complicated planning required to make it look as if four hi-jacked aircraft appeared to do the job.

        2. JBird4049

          These peoples, being helpless in such a polity, naturally turn to CTS as a vent for their anger and simmering distrust in government. The CTs are not without some basis in truth but they’re not sufficiently comprehensive. What is really happening is legalized collusion on a grand scale

          Very much yes to this.

    4. deedee

      This argument really bugs me
      “They’re not uneducated, either. They’re desperate to feel safe and secure in an increasingly chaotic and unpredictable world.”
      Believing that 911 was an inside job, as some of my friends do, hardly makes one feel safe or secure. Judging from my friends’ worldview it has done quite the opposite.

      1. Schopsi

        The idea that a handful of random terrorists getting in a lucky shot IS somehow scarier or more depressing than the possibility that we are all ruled over by and at the non existent mercy of allpowerful, utterly depraved and completely untouchable psychopaths who can do to us at any moment with nothing any of us can do about it, is self evidently ridiculous.

        I don’t think there is a person on Earth who would not prefer to live in a world where such a handful, random terrorists are indeed the worst that we need to worry about.

        1. Schopsi

          “….who can do to us whatever they want at any moment” it was supposed to Go.

          Unfortunately we now definitely know that this is true, rendering almost irrelevant the question of what exactly happened to the twin towers, who themselves have been superceded by acts of depravity that make the 9/11 terrorists look like complete amateurs.

        2. Procopius

          I often think there is something wrong with my wiring. Although I don’t think about it often, I know that I might die today, and it doesn’t scare me. I might be terrified when I see death coming at me, but I know it’s going to happen and I accept that. I’ve never missed a meal except voluntarily, yet I reflect often on the fact that in a few years, if I’m still alive, it’s likely that I’ll go hungry often. There’s nothing I can do about it, so I accept it. I don’t know why I don’t suffer from the same kinds of fears as most people.

  4. Mr. Woo

    NGL. The gay porn update from Big Serge suprised me. Interesting to hear if its just pictures or also Blu-Ray

    1. albrt

      I wish Serge would post some of his tidbits somewhere other than the platform formerly known as Twitter, so I could see them.

      1. GF

        He has a Substack:

        Probably short on tidbits though.

        Speaking of CT, It seems Clarence Thomas is a staunch supported of reparations. Since he will in all probability not get any legally, he has set up his own reparations money funnel by sucking as much as he can from the current crop of white oligarchs.

  5. JohnA

    RE US-Japan whaling spat

    I am sorry to year you did not like whale meat, Yves. I admit I have only eaten minke whale in Norway, but I think it is delicious. Like fillet of beef marinated in seawater. And in defence of Norway, it is more a case of helping remote traditional isolated communities along the coast continue to exist. A quota is set, based on data on whale populations, to avoid a risk of overfishing.

    1. Acacia

      Whale meat is very high in mercury and methylmercury, the latter being quite toxic. Cadmium, lead, selenium and other metals also found.

      One study* I read from 2017 claimed that the levels do not exceed EU standards but do exceed Japanese maximum acceptable levels for mercury and methylmercury.

      The Japanese have some experience with this. Minamata disease (severe mercury poisoning) was extensively documented is a series to haunting films by Tsuchimoto Noriaki. As China and other countries embrace coal, mercury levels in the world’s oceans are only going to increase higher. It’s probably just a question of time before EU standards are exceeded as well.

      *Maage A, Nilsen BM, Julshamn K, Frøyland L, Valdersnes S. Total Mercury, Methylmercury, Inorganic Arsenic and Other Elements in Meat from Minke Whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) from the North East Atlantic Ocean. Bull Environ Contam Toxicol. 2017 Aug;99(2):161-166. doi: 10.1007/s00128-017-2106-6.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Those whales wouldn’t also happen to have their migratory routes go by the waters off Fukushima, would they? Something to think about these days and it is not like they will tell you.

    2. SocalJimObjects

      At least it wasn’t Fugu, although supposedly you do have 30 minutes to go to the hospital to have an antidote administered in case of poisoning. I had Fugu once in Fukuoka, but being a chicken, I ordered it deep fried, thinking that even poisons would not be able to survive high temperature cooking oil, right ?

    3. divadab

      Yup – many many moons ago I bicycle-tripped in Norway. Being young men we burned calories galore and ate a lot of potatoes and “hvalkaker”, which were canned hamburger steaks in gravy, beef we thought until a fellow youth hosteller asked us “how do you like whale meat?’. Wow! Quite a shock at the time but it was delicious (like all food after a 100 km + bike trek) and we were assured that the whale harvest was traditional and sustainable.

      1. JohnA

        In addition to cooked whale meat, you can also get the equivalent of carpaccio, smoked whale and similar kinds of dishes.

  6. Wukchumni

    Is this a computer screen which I see before me,
    The mouse toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee.
    I have thee not, and yet I see thee still.
    Art thou not, fatal vision, sensible
    To feeling as to slight? or art thou but
    A dagger of the mind, a false woke creation,
    Proceeding from a heat-oppressed Floridian’s brain?
    I see thee yet, in form as palpable
    As this which now I draw.
    Thou marshall’st me away that I was going;
    And such an instrument I was to use.


    Conspiracy becomes common when the official explanation about things are obviously false. There is a double move that happens where one realizes what they’ve been told is BS – and then try to find out the truth.

    Interestingly, it’s a useful way for officialdom to attack dissent. And they do so in a coordinated PR-type fashion where the same narrative gets picked up by 20 outlets on the same day.

    So then you have an obvious lie and then a clearly coordinated effort to attack those who see through it…and yeah, that will give way to a lot of conspiracy theories.

    1. Kurtismayfield

      You want to know why we think conspiracy theories are real? Because the dystopian nature of our surveillance state nightmares are coming true, and I am about to believe anything.We are being listened to by our electronics and every byte of information we download is being tracked. Our cars are tracking our every movement. Our financial information is being scraped from our tax forms. All of this breeds paranoia.

    2. Henry Moon Pie

      Agreed, and here’s a further point. Real problems are met with an ineffective, even unserious response, e.g. the vaccine-only solution for Covid or the electrify -the-Titanic-solution for Overshoot. When people see through these “solutions,” they’re easily convinced that the problem wasn’t serious in the first place.

      Why are ineffective responses the norm these days? We must preserve the return on the billionaires’ capital no matter what.

      1. hunkerdown

        People keep believing the myth that society (ready access to others’ labor power, as far as they usually care) is something that individuals create to solve their own self-perpetuation problems. That is not completely untrue, but it is misguided, and the reverse of what actually happens when humans try to unify their dreams. The dream produces, to the exclusion of others, those distinct characters of people that suit its needs and solves its own self-perpetuation problems, subtly shaping mores, social relations, attitudes, paradigms, and eventually material realities accordingly.

        Why are ineffective responses the norm these days? Because the Greek drama must go on. “We must preserve the world in which private interests command respect, even if particular billionaires might lose their status.”

    3. t

      Not knowing what happened or having reasons and ways to see that the official explanation doesn’t answer the practical questions of what happened is in no way an alternative explaination. Or a reason to glow onto a story that also makes no sense – or less sense.

      One thing that is predictive for actually believing Q anon type stuff and loons and grifters is being terrible at pattern recognition. That is, people who really struggle to find the horses in Bev Doolittle’s paintings or just cannot see them later even after having them pointed out, are the type.

      I personally think ego is also a big factor, just as a lay person.

      [Editing window has typos in the half I cannot see or edit. Glom onto, for instance.]

    4. notabanker

      Just me, but it would seem if every major news outlet is carrying the same slanted or outright fabricated version of the same story, it is no longer a theory.

    5. Feral Finster

      Conspiracy theory becomes common when official sources are shown to have a track record of untruthfulness.

      In US, the official sources have a lavishly documented track record of outright lies.

      1. barefoot charley

        CT is a slur promoted by the CIA after the Kennedy assassination. Many conspiracy theories become conspiracy facts: Gulf of Tonkin, innumerable MIC lies to Congress, Pfizer’s capture of CDC–and each of us can think of our own.

  8. The Rev Kev

    “The German Air Force practices rapid deployment to the strategically vital arctic region – substantiating Berlin’s claim to be on the front lines in a potential great power war.”

    They had better make damn sure that they have a very well developed Search and Rescue capability. The Arctic plays rough and I would not want to be in a plane that went down over this region. Worse case scenario is that a plane goes down and they have to ask the Russians for help finding any aircrew from one of their bases there.

    1. digi_owl

      The deployment is likely part of the NATO rotation for air defense of Iceland. Thus any SAR is handled by the Icelandic coastguard.

  9. upstater

    How do you spell “regulatory capture”, Mayo Pete August 2023 version:

    Before Joining Federal Safety Program, Freight Railroads Push to Change It

    After the derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, the nation’s major freight railroads agreed to join a federal program for workers to report safety issues. But first, they want it to be overhauled.

    The program, known as the Confidential Close Call Reporting System, began as a pilot in 2007 and was later expanded. It is voluntary for railroads, and it allows their employees to report so-called close calls — such as a train exceeding the maximum speed or a mishap with a track switch — without the fear of discipline.
    The program is modeled after a Federal Aviation Administration program that allows pilots and other aviation personnel to report safety issues. Both the F.A.A. and rail programs rely on NASA to act as an independent third party that processes submissions. But participation in the rail program has been limited, with only 27 of the nation’s roughly 800 railroads currently taking part. Amtrak is part of the program, but none of the largest freight railroads participate.

    The freight railroads “do not want to relinquish their ability to discipline their employees who report something if they think there’s a rule that has been violated,” Mr. Verna said. “They want to be able to retain the ability to discipline.”

    If the class 1s can’t intimidate whistle-blowers with their internal draconian disciplinary kangaroo courts they aren’t interested in a safety reporting system. Makes sense. Mayo Pete will certainly rollover. The Rail Safety Act of 2023 was passed by committee after being watered down. The ROI for railroad lobbyists is astronomical. I was foolish to think East Palestine would force regulatory changes.

  10. Stephen

    “as TikTok-inspired chaos moves to Southend”

    I grew up in the Southend conurbation. Always had a certain reputation as a key town (now allegedly a city) in Essex. The violent film “Essex Boys” (think of it as an English “Reservoir Dogs”) based on the Rettendon Murders was pretty close to reality of the place.

    The wider issue of British town centres dying is a real one. There are empty shops everywhere. Even in centres such as Kingston Upon Thames where this was unheard of twenty years ago. Some of it is recession related but a lot of it is structural. I worked in retail in the 90s and even back then we could see the trend very clearly. So much shopping (including groceries now) has moved to the online channel that town centres are no longer the magnets they once were. As they decay, so the trend accelerates as people find fewer reasons to shop there. I walk into shops owned by my former employer (now part of a U.S. group and at one point PE owned) and am shocked at the state of the sales floor. Standards in the 90s were much higher but so were footfall, cash takings and margins.

    Cannot speak for the specifics of the M&S Oxford Street plans but any decision made by Gove is one I am automatically sceptical of. He is very model of a modern minister.

  11. Lexx

    ‘Medical debt among seniors is soaring’

    Okay, Senior Commenters, if you’ll allow… what happens to your debts if you die this week? Few people die debt free, there are almost always last minute charges. Asking because I have no idea.

    How motivated is Medicare to pay the bill once you’re gone, or any other insurance?

    1. vao

      what happens to your debts if you die this week?

      I do not know the specifics of the law in the USA (and in the various states of the USA), but in countries following the Roman-Germanic law (in particular, practically all of Europe), heirs inherit the assets of the deceased person and the liabilities, i.e. the debts.

      Perhaps medical debts in the USA are subject to a special provision so that they are extinguished automatically with the death of the person who incurred them, but otherwise the only way for heirs to get rid of the debts of a deceased person is to repudiate the inheritance entirely.

      1. ambrit

        Alas, Medicaid debts, at the State level in America are extracted from the estate of the deceased Medicaid ‘client.’ All States now have sub-departments dedicated to suing the estates of deceased Medicaid recipients for “recovery.” Medical Bankruptcy now follows you beyond the grave.
        There goes that Calvinist Doctrine as social policy in America again.
        I can see it now. A sermon by the Secretary of Health and Human Services: “Deplorables in the Hands of an Angry State.” These people really do think that they are G–. [I am waiting for some wag to come out with his or her Graduate level degree in Philosopher Rule.]

        1. Amfortas the Hippie

          this is the exact reason ive been pushing mom to put this place in some kind of Trust…or, barring that(given her insanity and intransigence) skip me and put it in Eldest’s name in the Will.
          the latter is whats happened so far.
          stepdad was mostly VA…no clawbacks that i’m aware of.
          Wife was Medicaid…and i was on SSI/Medicaid for 2 years about 10 years prior to her diagnosis.
          there is much anecdata on the web and in real life about clawbacks…but when ive gone ahuntin for official information, i come up short.
          as near as i can tell, the clawbacks happen when said medicaid recipient spends their last days-years in assisted living…as in not at home.
          its interesting that the Navigator we used didn’t have any idea about this issue…nor did any of the doctors, nurses…and even the Hospice people were unaware of it.
          Wife died without an “Estate”…so no probate…so maybe that helped me with this…and she died at home.
          and also…and as near as i can tell…the bills i continue to get a year later(less and less) appear to be “unsecured”…as in all they got is threats and shaming.

          (of note, as well, is that i have no idea who any of these bills come from…idk who they are, or what they supposedly did for wife. i do remember a few doctor looking types who wandered into the hospital room, wrote something down, and left…never to be seen again. and of course, the nurses, doctors, imaging folks, even the cleaning staff…none of them work for the hospital,lol…all are subcontractors, or something. so i reckon im in the same position as many folks after 2008, with sliced and diced mortgages, who said///”prove it”)

          1. Roxan

            I looked into the claw-back issue when struggling with my mother in 2005. Rules may have changed some, but an Elder Care lawyer told me there was a 5 year ‘look back’ period, and they would ‘count the nails in the floor’. Huh!! That included any ‘gifts’ to friends or relatives. Of course, this usually occurs if your relative ends in a nursing home (no Obama care back then) Now, if you are poor enough to get Healthcare through Medicaid–for SS recipients that is referred to as Extra Care– then your property will be taken when you die, whether you are in a nursing home or not. (I don’t know how this is affected by whether a state adopted Obamacare’s Medicaid option.) However, if you lived in the same house with the recipient for at least 2 years, they won’t take the house, or at least, not until you die. I think you can find info online under Medicaid rules. As far as I know, this is mostly federal. You could also try calling the Bar Assiciation in your state. Sometimes they offer a little help for a reasonable sum, over the phone. There are also Eldercare legal sites online.

        2. Mark Gisleson

          Yet when my dad died, because harvest was already in, that income was not taxable for some strange reason (had the crops still been in the field when he passed, it would have been taxed).

          My memory may have flipped this exactly wrong but the point is that for whatever loopholed reason, my dad’s last grain harvest was tax-free. This crap only makes sense to people paid to make sense of it.

          How much saner would our economy be if there were no loopholes?

          1. The Rev Kev

            I used to wonder what would happen if you had a tax law that could be written on the back of a postcard. Everybody gets taxed 10% on gross income and that means everybody. No deductions, off-sets, deppreciation or anything else allowed. You make $40,000? OK, fork over $4,000. You make $1 billion a year? That will be $100 million thanks. Yes I realize that hundreds of thousands of tax lawyers would be throw out of work but we all have to make sacrifices.

            1. Pat

              Not really for flat taxes, but I will play. I would put in one very large standard deduction. Say every adult gets a deduction equal to a 40 hour work week at minimum wage times 50 before the 10% income tax kicks in. But everyone pays the FICA taxes on every dollar, half if you have an employer (who pays the other half) but the full 15+% for everything else.

              Acknowledges poverty level, but still pays into medical and retirement, because otherwise…

            2. scott s.

              No the problem is “income” is an accounting concept so has to have extensive definitions. Then there is the question in the links on the USSC case about when is income “realized” and how that relates to a “wealth” tax (with associated question of application of rule of uniformity or rule of apportionment).

            3. Polar Socialist

              A progressive tax would be much better in achieving one of the main purposes of taxation: preventing income and wealth inequality (and thus preserving democracy).

              Also some taxes could still be used for “directing consumption”, as in higher VAT for tobacco and such.

      2. BillS

        I do not know the specifics of the law in the USA (and in the various states of the USA), but in countries following the Roman-Germanic law (in particular, practically all of Europe), heirs inherit the assets of the deceased person and the liabilities, i.e. the debts.

        This is in general, true. However, in Italy, heirs can renounce an inheritance if it is encumbered by debt, thereby not assuming responsibility for debts incurred by the deceased. The estate (if it exists), is then liquidated to cover as much debt as possible.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          This is not true in the US.

          Here, creditors have a period of time, in most states six months (and there is a requirement to advertise that someone died) to tell the probate court they are owed money from the estate. The executor does need to settle those claims

          Secured debts are arguable exceptions but there the debt is secured by the property, and so the creditor can demand the property be sold if the heirs try ignoring the debt.

          As Rocket Mortgage explains for mortgages:

          Unless someone co-signed the loan or is a co-borrower with you, nobody is required to take on the mortgage. However, if the person who inherits the home decides they want to keep it and take over responsibility for the mortgage, there are laws in place that allow them to do so. Most commonly, the surviving family who inherited the property makes payments to keep the mortgage current while they make arrangements to sell the home.

          If, when you die, nobody takes over the mortgage or makes payments, then the mortgage servicer will begin the process of foreclosing on the home.

          Similarly, from

          Relatives typically won’t have to worry about paying off a family member’s debts. There are a few exceptions to this, which we detail below.

          Debts in which the surviving relative is a joint account owner: Broadly speaking, if the account has what is termed the “right of survivorship,” all the funds pass directly to the surviving owner. If not, the share of the account belonging to the deceased owner is distributed through his or her estate, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).
          Debts the surviving relative was a co-signer: One of the most apparent situations in which you may have to pay a dead relative’s debt involves co-signing. If you have ever cosigned a loan or other credit for that person, you may have financial responsibility.
          Spouses who live in community property states: In certain states, spouses are responsible for each other’s debt acquired during the marriage. If one spouse dies, the other spouse has to pay any debt (gambling, medical, etc.) the deceased acquired while married. However, debts acquired by the deceased spouse before marriage do not fall to the surviving spouse or any relatives.
          Community property states: These include Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin.

          Beneficiaries may have to assume a dead relative’s loan if they receive the asset attached to the loan. For example, if you inherit the deceased person’s home or car – and there is still a loan out on it – you inherit that loan, too.

          Some states have filial responsibility laws (VA does, AL does not, for instance). From NoLo:

          In most states, for a child to be held accountable for a parent’s bill, all of these things would have to be true:

          The parent received care in a state that has a filial responsibility law.
          The parent did not qualify for Medicaid when receiving care.
          The parent does not have the money to pay the bill.
          The child has the money to pay the bill.
          The caregiver chooses to sue the child.

          1. BillS

            Oops! Thanks Yves. I should have mentioned I was speaking about European countries. I should also mention that if the beneficiary has co-signed a loan held by the deceased, that co-signer is still responsible for servicing the debt.

      3. scott s.

        Been there done that. If deceased has assets, medical and others have claim against the estate. Probate law provides for notification publication and creditors are advised to file with the courts. In one case (Louisiana) the only asset was the community property family home, but La law has doctrine of “usufruct” that allows surviving spouse/children to keep the house. After six years claims are barred there.

    2. .human

      If you were covered under Medicaid, paid expenses will be clawed back by billing your heirs and estate.

      I juggle my procedures in order to play games with annual deductibles and limits. Not the ideal (!!!) situation, but decades ago I accepted that I would never have the medical care of my parents generation.

    3. Lexx

      Tomorrow I’ll drive over to a neighborhood to pick up my winnings from an online estate auction – a half dozen beat up cutting boards Husband will plane and refurbish, and a mink stole*. The later purchased for slightly less than a couple of hamburgers, fries and a coke today.

      Occasionally I catch a hint at these pick up sites that the money is ‘to help the family’. Help them with what? Their debts, the estate of the deceased, or both? Usually the deceased was living alone and one would think, mortgage-free but maybe not and maybe with a small fixed income and it was a long lingering illness with a final stay in medical rehab. Is the family obligated to pay off the medical bills from their inheritance? What happens if the debt is greater than the value of the estate? Pretty easy to rack up hundreds of thousands in medical debt and maybe grandma co-signed on a great-grand-child’s college loan.

      I’m seeing items come up at these sales you’d think the family/inheritors (if there are any) would be reluctant to part with… it’s mind boggling!… but not as much as their need to clear the debts and hope there’s something leftover, perhaps to clear their own debts… just speculating.

      *Old furs can be repurposed.

      1. Wukchumni

        I used to go the dead people’s auction in Pico Rivera, where if you died in LA County without a will, it was where everything ended up, your worldly possessions.

        It could be really interesting what showed up, I remember this one time there was a Hollywood movie director who became a Major or something during WW2, all of his stuff was up for grabs, and now I see it is in person and also online, but back in the day you had to be there.

        I was there for coins pretty much, and one time there was a lot in 2 square plastic Nickel tubes that were opaque and it was difficult to see, but you could make out that they were 20 Franc Swiss gold coins, so I call a fellow numismatist and ask him how many 20 Franc coins can you fit in a Nickel tube, and he goes and checks and tells me ’58 coins’, so there’s 116 of them with an estimate of $15, and a gold content of about 22 troy ounces, hot damn!

        I never felt so sure i’d buy something, and when it comes up for auction there is feverish bidding up to $1,500 and then its just me and what appeared to be a homeless bag lady, and she kept her hand up and I made her pay $500 more than what they were worth at the time in melt value-I was so perturbed. ha ha.

        1. scott s.

          In the US there is the doctrine of “escheat”, also covers so-called unclaimed property. I guess it comes to use from Olde England where real estates were subject to the crown

  12. Mikerw0

    Re: Auto Insurance

    Nice headline and graph, but I don’t think it is correct. The nice thing about the insurance industry is it is data rich in the publication of financial results. If the price increases aren’t explained by increased loss costs then one should see a big improvement in the loss ratio (paid losses plus loss adjustment expenses / net earned premium) and combined ratios (total underwriting and claims expense / premium).

    A quick, unscientific check of Progressive and Allstate refute what is implied in the graph. Progressive was barely profitable in auto and Allstate lost money on their auto books.

    In other words, one of two things is happening. Either frequency of claims or severity of claims (the cost of the claim) is way up, or some combination. Either case the insurers have the data to support rate increase approvals by state regulators (who, BTW, hate increased rates for personal lines as people complain).

    1. ambrit

      I’m of the opinion that increased costs for repairs are a major driving force here. Many dealership repair departments now will not “fix” many components, but replace them completely. For example, the newer transmissions are now so complicated that instead of opening the unit up and adjusting the bands, or replacing worn parts, as used to be done in the shop, the entire transmission is replaced. This is a lot more expensive than the old way. A similar situation has developed in the engine repair sphere.
      A similar situation has developed in the auto service field in general. Now, a $200 USD per hour charge for diagnostic work, before anything is actually done to fix the problem, is common.
      Another issue here is the sheer inflation in the costs of automobiles in general. New cars today can cost as much as a house did twenty years ago. Remember that an automobile is a depreciating asset. Houses, at least, are supposed to retain value over time. As the initial cost of autos goes, so goes the (lagging) costs of maintenance and repair.
      Considering the above, the steep rises in insurance rates for autos does not surprise. The insurers are faced with ever rising prices for the services they insure against. Secondarily, the Insurance Companies are Neo-liberal Institutions in our ‘Best of All Possible Worlds.’ It would be prudent to assume the standard neo-liberal business rent extraction is going on there as is the case with their cousins the Medical Insurance Trusts and the Banking Trusts. So, add to your data on profits versus pay outs the figures on executive pay over time.
      Stay safe, be in Good Hands.

      1. Lex

        Not to mention catalytic converters and the commonplace theft of them. Since they’re full of valuable alloys, replacement costs are high and the way they’re stolen mostly necessitate extensive repairs to complex, modern exhaust systems.

        I absolutely agree on repair costs as well, though those are not generally covered by insurance. A fender bender, however, can easily run into high four digit costs because whole front clips and expensive headlight/headlight housings need to be replaced. And doing so might necessitate hours of mechanical disassembly and reassembly to access the mounting points. I suspect that 10 year old cars get totaled by insurance a lot more than they used to as a result of accidents that don’t do structural or significant mechanical damage to the car.

        1. playon

          I bought a 2006 Lexus that had a salvage title as the insurance company wouldn’t pay to fix the car even though there was nothing wrong with it mechanically. The guy who sold it to me bought it at auction and had some cheap body work done on it. I was more than happy to get a $30k car with low miles for $6500.

    2. cnchal

      From the Globe and Mail.

      In addition to car jackings and illegal technology that replicates a vehicle owner’s key fob, police say organized crime groups have adopted a new tactic that has helped take car thefts across Canada to crisis levels: inside jobs.

      Police are increasingly seeing organized crime groups pressure debtors and other people they have leverage over to report that their car has been stolen when, in fact, they have voluntarily handed it over to thieves.

      “They target vulnerable people. So, somebody who maybe owes money to an organized crime group is forced to go and lease a high-end vehicle and then report it stolen – when in fact they’re giving it up,” Ontario Provincial Police Detective Inspector Scott Wade, program commander of the OPP’s Organized Crime Towing and Auto-Theft Team, said in an interview Tuesday.

      The result is an insurance claim for a vehicle that was never really stolen – creating a cascade of issues, including fraudulent insurance claims and higher rates for non-criminal drivers, Det. Insp. Wade said.

      The investigator’s description of the scheme comes in the wake of a major police crackdown announced last week in the border town of Windsor, Ont., where police recovered more than 130 stolen vehicles, the majority of which were destined for export overseas. The police operation, which was a joint-project between the Windsor Police Service and the OPP, led to criminal charges against 23 people – more than half of whom were residents of Windsor.

      Non criminal driver, eh. WTF. We are all criminals in the eyes of the police, unless proven otherwise. As if driving has anything to do with the criminality.

      Shortly after I was shown this article, I got an email from our insurance company, lecturing us about the grave problem of car theft and what we are required to do about it. I think every policy holder in Ontario got an email because our neighbor is with a different insurance company and got something similar.

      Protect Yourself from Rising Car Theft in Ontario

      Vehicle theft remains a major problem in Canada. According to the RCMP, a vehicle is stolen every seven minutes, resulting in an estimated $1 billion annual price tag for Canadians, Vehicles like yours could be targeted by theives.

      To protect customers, many of our insurer partners are requiring customers to install or utilize anti-theft devices. The Tag Anti-Theft Recovery System is recommended by many insurance companies as a sophisticated theft mitigation technology that specializes in tracking and recovering stolen vehicles. Vehicles without an anti-theft deterrents or the Tag Anti-Theft Recovery device installed may see an increase in their policy premium

      Greedy a$$holes. I bet the insurance “”industry”” has a direct pecuniary interest in selling this always on spyware. Besides I don’t have theft or fire insurance on our cars, they are too cheap to be worth stealing and our most valuable car has a good alarm system built in. Jack the car up a half inch and the alarm goes off. The other cars have ignition immobilizers. Their crocodile tears about stolen cars is pathetic. It would surprise me if organized crime does not have deep tentacles within the industry. They should clean their own house first instead of threatening customers with premium increases.

      Last night on the news was another exemplary example of crapification. Ford is being sued for their cars catching fire. Engine failure was described as a ‘block breach’. This is on hybrid vehicles and customers continue to use the car on battery only as the gasoline engine is dead. This stresses the electrical system and batteries go into blow torch mode.

      What may be the root of the block breach? In an effort to eke out another millionth of a MPG, extra thin weight oil is specified. A block breach occurs when a connecting rod seizes on the crankshaft, breaks and punches a hole through the cylinder block as it flops around inside the crankcase. Out of warranty, out of luck and replacing that engine with the same weak point in the next one defies logic. Scrap them all, they are not ownable.

      I have given up on cars newer that 2006. These festering, grotesque money pits, with their lurid styling are bought by clownsumers with no clue as to how they are being ripped off. Thousand for a headlight when a corner is tapped, ridiculous.

    3. griffen

      Anecdotal to me and myself only, one car one driver insurance policy in South Carolina. 6 month premium circa May 2022 to November 2022 at $494, compared to 6 month premium circa May 2023 to November 2023 at $611. I’m not precise on the inflation math but that’s a bigger chunk of change to dredge out of the couch cushions as it were. Added, I am driving a 2008 Honda Accord sedan. Nothing super fancy or supremely equipped, except the V6 engine I will suppose.

      I can’t fathom what a family with 2 adult drivers let alone teenagers on their policy have needed to fork over. Added, when I checked with State Farm in November 2022 it was the repair costs / replacement value that was really driving up the premium.

  13. Eric Anderson

    “Hospital bosses love AI. Doctors and nurses are worried.”

    I keep waiting for the professional monopolies to flex their muscles in response to AI.
    I don’t think “AI is practicing medicine without a license” or “law without a license” are absurd statements.

    Anyone want to take bets we’ll see a class action lawsuit against the tech lords with attorneys (or the state bar associations) as the class within the next couple of years? The AMA?

    1. hunkerdown

      Stop making drama for yourself. LLMs are already being larded down with “As a language model I cannot give legal advice, but here are some examples I’ve seen”.

      The idea that a non-person with no agency “practices” anything is yet another example of the pie-eyed animism and mystical delusion that is expected of the PMC member.

  14. The Rev Kev

    “Justice Department Wants to Ring in the New Year With Trump’s Jan. 6 Trial”

    It’s always about the narrative, isn’t it. The substance? Not so much. It was the same with the Robert Mueller investigation that ended in a pathetic delivery of that report by a much aged Robert Mueller after how many months? If they really want to push for this symbolic January 6th trial, there are going to have to be a lot of people cancelling their holidays plans for the Christmas break to prep for this trial. Maybe the judge as well who will love that. I used to think that the State Department was an absolute dog’s breakfast after Hillary’s reign but the Department of Justice is really putting them to shame here as they are doing whatever the Bidens want.

    1. Mark Gisleson

      Exact same people who thought the remarkably tone-deaf Hamilton! was the greatest musical evah!

      Our country is run by people who let others pick their art and entertainment for them, the kind of people who look around to see what others are doing before applauding. They check out Obama’s Spotify playlist not for new tunes to listen to, but to find out which bands they should pretend they listen to.

      Narrative is what you feed to cultural sloths who lack imagination. I recently saw a famous actress pick up a fat paycheck for introducing a spin-off Netflix show by explaining how incredibly important storytelling is and how we should just close our eyes and go along for the ride (which turned out to be insanely over-the-top and I say that as a Paul Bunyan fan).

      We can’t explain the truth to you, so here’s a wonderful story clogged with identity to help distract you from all the nasty reality we’re protecting you from. And while we’re at it, here are our psychologists’ determinations of what Donald Trump was truly thinking in his heart of hearts and why we have to punish him for his secret desires. #comeuppance #justdesserts #storyoftheweek

      Maybe we should start calling “the news” The Official Government Spokesperson Story Hour.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Your comment reminded me of what the Critical Drinker was saying in some of his movie criticisms on YouTube. He was saying that in former times, you had people understand a movie character by what they actually did across different scenes. Writers showed the audiences what they were like so for example, you might see a character ignore the constant ringing of a phone until they had finished an intricate task and only then pick up the phone. That spoke volumes about that person. But these days in the sort of lazy writing you find in Hollywood, other characters will praise a central character and say how amazing and wonderful they are. So here the writers are telling audiences what to think of these characters.

        1. Pat

          While I do believe that most writing we encounter today eschews both logic and the old show don’t tell rule of thumb, I also think you have underestimated the power and stupidity of producers in the system. And today’s films and television are produced by people who are mor interested in budgets and spreadsheets than storytelling and art. Even good writers will have their scripts dumbed down because the producer doesn’t understand anything with nuance.
          Never underestimate how much money men/people dabble.

  15. Alice X

    >We’re All Conspiracy Theorists Now. Psychology Says So

    Did the CIA coin the term in April 1967? It may have been used before but they certainly wanted to take down anyone getting too close to inconvenient truths. There are truck loads of those.

  16. Henry Moon Pie

    Florida “education” and PraegerU–

    It’s not too tough to figure out where Praeger “U” gets such crazy ideas:

    Much of PragerU’s early funding came from hydraulic fracturing billionaires Dan and Farris Wilks.[10][4][8] Two members of the Wilks family sit on PragerU’s board.[4] The next-largest donor is the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation.[5][28] Other donors include the Morgan Family Foundation, Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund, Donors Trust, the late Republican megadonor Sheldon Adelson,[29] Lee Roy Mitchell,[29] and the Minnesota-based Sid and Carol Verdoorn Foundation, led by former C.H. Robinson CEO Sid Verdoorn.

    So it’s another billionaires’ liars-for-hire outfit. The fun part is that these billionaires do all this under cover of a tax-exempt “non-profit.” Maybe we should define “profit” more broadly since these NGOs are designed to preserve and enhance the profits of the already way-too-rich. And maybe we should have a 90% income and wealth tax on these f-ers.

    1. The Rev Kev

      When I was growing up, I eventually learned that the volumes of Shakespeare that we used in high school had been censored. Sheeesh! Wonder why they didn’t simply do the same here. Maybe DeSantis can send stick-on pictures of fig leaves or flowers so that teachers can put them on objectionable parts of images of famous artworks like the David or the Venus de Milo. You know it’s coming.

      1. JBird4049

        That bowdlerization was one of Thomas Bowdler‘s efforts to protect us all from the bad, bad words.

        Despite the First Amendment, the censorship industry in the United States is enduring. Seeing people bloviate about their precious children being harmed by something like Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn when the book is about the humanity of everyone and the evils of slavery.

        Eeek! The bad word! Wokeism, anti Wokeism, whateverism. It just don’t matter. Many people just have to censor things often even bothering to understand what it is they are complaining about and wanting desecrated.

  17. Wukchumni

    Extensive wildfires in northern Gulag Hockeypelago & Maui burning up weren’t remotely on my fuego radar, and we’ve got 3 days of thunderstorms on tap in the higher climes of the back of beyond, lightning the node.

    We apparently had 6 or 7 little spot fires happen along Hwy 198 coming into Tiny Town yesterday-which were all put out, and about a dozen years ago a car was spewing fire out of the exhaust pipe and started a similar amount of blazes, not that the driver would ever know, who looks back when they’re driving, wondering if you are an accidental arsonist?

    1. pjay

      Thanks. I was wondering where such a rather, um… let’s go with “surprising” statement could have come from. The AEI article is based on (1) classified Senate briefings from “intelligence officials;’ but since the author apparently has no direct knowledge of their specific content, it is mainly (2) her reasons for why she *thinks* China’s military spending is drastically understated. Reason number 1: we can’t trust the Chinese Communist Party to tell us the truth – though we can, apparently, trust “intelligence officials” to tell Senators the Truth, so that a right-wing Republican Senator can then pass the general argument (China has almost caught us!) to “experts” at AEI who can figure out why they are right. I can’t think of a reason why intelligence officials, Senators, or the AEI would not be perfectly truthful about such an issue, can you?

      I have no idea what China’s actual military budget is. But if you read each of the author’s specific points, you see that they each (1) require a great deal of speculation about their relationship to China’s actual military budget; and (2) apply directly to the military budget of the US as reasons why our own $800+ billion budget is significantly understated as well.

      Stoller is good on a lot of issues, sometimes very good. When it comes to China, in my view he has a, um… let’s go with “blind spot.”

  18. Wukchumni

    It has been a fortnight since the launch of Coinspiracy Theory, not your everyday cryptocurrency please, as its value goes up every time some cockamamie conspiracy theory is proposed online, up 17% in heavy traiting.

  19. Sam Adams

    RE: Marks & Spencer boss slams the demise of Oxford Street as the decline of city centres fuels rise of crime including US-style flashmob looting… and TikTok-inspired chaos moves to Southend Daily Mail

    Does nobody else see a parallel to the late Roman Empire in the 4th century, climate change in Central Asia pushing migrations with economic and demographic changes? The whole century was movement away from central cities into the countryside villas, food insecurity and later fortifying farms with smaller governing regions? It may not be exact, but I can see enough parallels.

    1. Amfortas the Hippie

      youngish looking guy down and across the highway bought about 500 acres…half of that what we call a mountain.
      built a big fancy house on a shoulder of that mountain…and i could hear numerous explosions from that direction.
      i mentioned this to a buddy in construction, and he said ” oh yeah…wine cave built into the mountain, with a secret bunker behind it”. this guy, a Mexican, did the fancy rock work,
      now, that same young man has 2 excavators, 2 bulldozers, at least 3 skid steers, a tractor with a bucket and 3 dump trucks down in the flat…digging a giant hole.
      deep enough by now that one can only see the uppermost knuckle of the excavators from the highway.
      sides are far too steep for a stock pond…and its about 20 feet too deep for that anyway…unless you like drowned cows.
      only thing we can think of that makes any sense is a humdinger of an underground bunker.
      this is not the first filthy rich doomer ive been aware of moving out here in the last 10 or 15 years.
      one can identify them by their fancy mansions being on the highest point of land(impractical in the extreme, out here)…as well as the ostentatious gate displays…fountains, lighted flagpoles, statuary(gaudy) and lots of iron and rock work.
      at the feed store, they can be picked out by being unpleasant and demanding…while knowing nothing, obviously, about cattle as a bidness,lol…and for their $100k “pickup trucks”.

      1. The Rev Kev

        There is the possibility of a prank here. While one of those people are in that store, start talking to the clerk in a semi-loud voice about how German officers were going to murder the big boss in his underground bunker at the end of the war – by putting poison gas in the air vents. Yes, that is a true story but wait to do that till just after his bunker is finished.

      2. Lexx

        ‘House’ has replaced the word ‘hat’ in ‘all hat/no cattle’ in Texas? Quite a few of those in Colorado as well, complete with fancy gates to their spreads.

          1. Amfortas the Hippie

            to be clear…houses on hilltops around here are impractical because:
            1. open to harsh sun in summer, bitter north wind in winter…ergo expensive to heat and cool.
            2. water is at least 100 foot down from the floor of the valleys…many times, much more.pumping it up a further 500 feet is just silly.
            3. caliche mixed with sticky mud on top of all these mountains…and, to boot, every one ive been on top of is cup shaped at the top…a cup of rock, filled with clayey silt, that fills with water(hence the seeps and springs along the hillside cliffs). one doesnt drive up there after a rain…even with 4×4.
            4. why make your castle a target, for after the Doom, unless yer goin all out with moats and walls and buttresses and parapets? at least a mott and baily…i mean, c’mon, people….

            what this really is is vanity…and the wealth to not have a care about my above enumerations.

      3. sbarrkum

        Out here in Sri Lanka before the Brits conquered the last bastion in 1817, i.e. the hill country

        a) No one was allowed to settle above Gampola at 500 m 1,640 ft), situated in a valley
        b) Forests above (500 m) were protected. The old Sinhalese were well aware that the rains and rivers were from the high lands.
        c) Highest table land is 2,100 meters (6,700 feet) above sea level, Horton Plains is the source of almost all major rivers (perennial).

        The Brits cut down all the highland forests and planted first coffee and then after a blight tea.

        On another note, anyone who knows hot humid environment does not buy a house right on beach.
        Unless of course one has plenty of income to replace pretty much everything metal and electronic every 2-3 years.

  20. Wukchumni

    We used to grow an awful lot of cotton in Cali, but have gone nuts.

    For the first time in a century, California cotton acreage will likely drop to fewer than 100,000 acres due in part to soggy ground at planting and better prices for competing crops.

    A recent ginner survey by the California Cotton Ginners and Growers Association estimated planted acres at 99,000, plus or minus 10%. The U.S. Department of Agriculture acreage report, released on June 30, put plantings at 83,000 acres.

    With the continuing loss of California cotton production comes the shuttering of more gins—a huge concern for Isom. Once a gin is shut down, it will likely never process cotton again, he said.

    “One of the things that guys are finding is if equipment sits too long, we get people coming in and stealing wire, and that becomes a real challenge,” he said. “I think if a gin closes, you’re not going to see it come back.”

    In talking to ginner members this year, Isom said one or two are considering closing. Currently, the valley is home to about 15 gins, which separate cotton fiber from seeds. Twenty years ago, 65 to 75 gins operated.

    In the late 1970s and early 1980s, cotton was king in the San Joaquin Valley, maxing out at about 1.6 million planted acres. But cotton lost its luster as prolonged droughts plagued the valley, irrigation water was permanently diverted for environmental demands and other crops offered higher potential returns.

    1. Mark Gisleson

      This is MUST WATCH video. My new social media meme is that the 1/6 Insurrection was a Reichstag Fire/Riot.

      No more JFK’s assassination bullcrap. Before I die, I want to know the truth of 1/6.

    2. Pat

      I’ve said from the beginning this was the real question that should be answered about January 6th. It still isn’t entirely answered, but it does clarify why it was not the focus.

      Since conspiracy theories are a big subject of the day, I am going to state that an hour long interview with this man scheduled to air the week after Carlson was taken off the air is a very big reason Fox got rid of him.

    3. tegnost

      Having spent an unwisely large amount of time protesting in my youth that spectacle never passed the sniff test for me. Rookies vs. Pros with predictable outcomes.

      1. ambrit

        Yes. Where was the tear gas? Riot control is quite sophisticated now. The Capitol Police response to the ‘Riot’ seems to have been in the Keystone Kops mode.
        It’s up there with the saga of John O’Neill.
        Sometimes I can see huge CTs as being simply the result of The Iron Law of Institutions.
        Then there is The Iron Law of Oligarchies.
        For above see:
        The stupidity, it burns! (However, it also rules. I have seen lots of stupid people in positions of authority.)
        Stay safe!

  21. Mikel

    “…Biden said China, the world’s second-largest economy after the United States, was “in trouble” because of slowing growth and that it had the “highest unemployment rate going.”

    “That’s not good because when bad folks have problems, they do bad things,” he said at a political fundraiser in Park City, Utah, according to a pool report…

    I had to read that second line twice. Wow…

  22. The Rev Kev

    “Videos denying climate science approved by Florida as state curriculum”

    I sometime think that being a climate science denier is like getting religion. No, seriously. You get religion and join one of the mainstream ones, it is all there for you. Church doctrine, practices, beliefs, rituals, etc. all laid out and you can just plug yourself in if you are that way inclined. Same with denying climate change as there are the YouTube channels, spokespeople, studies and here the educational packages. It is all laid out and it is easy to just hook yourself in. I have seen that with my brother who watches Fox News from here in Oz and has drunk their kool aid. A coupla days ago I mentioned in a phone call that as the northern hemisphere was getting slammed by heat waves, then we will probably get the same when our summer rolls around. With that he went on a climate change denier screed which he would have picked up from Fox and some YouTube videos. As for DeSantis, when southern Florida starts to get awash, they should name that region the Sea of DeSantis. It even has a ring to it. And those kids in those classes may live long enough to see it.

  23. Amfortas the Hippie

    regarding the Niger Coup.
    ive seen a bit of hysterical whinging that this was obviously Russian Interference, and all,lol
    but it looks like a pretty cut and dried example of a third world place taking this opportunity to throw out the imperium, to me.
    Bhadrakumar’s description of the reaction of the west is hilarious…as well as mentioning that Russia has no history of imperialist/Colonialist activity in the region.
    and i remember distinctly from a lifetime of reading about the Cold War, that USSR was pretty consistently encouraging to such places to throw off the imperial yoke.
    my question regards the hypocrisy of the west….its ok for us to engineer a violent coup in Ukraine…and a million other places…but not for homegrown people(that we trained, no less!) to take their country back from imperial viceroys/Raj?
    i guess its a good thing that the western(esp USA) hoi polloi dont do geography, history or even current affairs in such places,lol.
    and 3 american bases in NIger?
    when to they get evicted?
    would seem a necessary next step, if those folks are serious about sovereignty…although i dont know how USA would react.

    on that note…i got a text from “Joe Biden” the other day…thanking me for my support(snort!) and asking for money(obviously doesnt know me).
    I replied to the text thusly:” Universal Healthcare, Now….and i do not want to be an Empire any more.”

    1. Mark Gisleson

      Tbf, I don’t think you should use the Soviet Union’s Cold War borders or efforts at exporting revolution as examples of Russian colonialism. Stalin, Khrushchev and Brehznev weren’t even Russians (Khrushchev by birth but Ukrainian in every other meaningful regard).

      Russia is its own empire. The history of their wars is the history of their borders. Russia has never sought to become a colonial power. Russia has all the natural resources imaginable, they don’t need to kill brown people for more.

      I think the best word for Russia in Africa would be that they’re seeking to be an “influencer.”

      The kind of overtly belligerent foreign policy practiced by the West has made it all but mandatory that China and Russia fill the diplomatic void with gentler strategies. China is building infrastructure in Africa that will be there long after the military equipment the US provides has been used up and all that’s left is the payments on the loans we gave them to buy our hardware.

      1. Amfortas the Hippie

        i begged for and got the deluxe edititon of the encyclopaedia britannica in 1976.
        ussr was among the first things i looked up(precocious youngster, here)…and it sure appeared to me at that early age that ussr got to be as big as it was(and thus multiethnic, etc) in order to have a buffer…because of things like euroamerican support for the white russian army, and the whole anticommie zeitgeist of the era.
        and save for parts of the annexation of siberia, their expansion was nothing like ‘our’ expansion…ie: genocidal and/or imposed.
        (and to be clear, the siberian expansion happened long before ussr)
        so yes…theyve never been an imperialist power…nor expansionist, unless pushed…and even then, its a base, here or there(Cuba).
        OTOH, sebastiapol, kaliningrad and vladivostok(sp-10) are and have always been about warm water ports.
        so i agree with you.
        when my mom starts parroting rachel maddow about emperor putin and his designs for world conquest, i laugh.(and if im feelin frisky, and if we’re almost home where i can escape, ill laugh out loud and explain psychological projection as applied to nation states)

        the whole way russia and china approach relations with the third world/ROW is a whole different animal than how america and europe does things.
        “we’re the baddies”, i’m afraid.

        1. Lex

          For the most part the USSR just ended up incorporating what had been the Russian Empire. That empire was at least superficially like the original US empire in that it was a continental expansion. There was plenty of violence but not much genocide, especially in comparison to the US. And the Russian Empire was always multiethnic, as much for practical purposes as anything else. The USSR inherited that facet of the Russian Empire too, but did have a tendency to make some matters one might have in a multiethnic nation worse by accentuating the ethnic part.

          The only overseas colony the Russian Empire ever possessed was Alaska and Northern California, and I believe it also has the rare distinction of being an empire that gave up its colonies both peacefully and not under duress. You’re correct on expansion related to ports, and especially warm water ports. It held Port Arthur in Korea but lost that in the Russo-Japanese war. It did long have its eye on recapturing Istanbul for the sake of Christianity and that was both a goal and (IIRC) a stated agreement with France and England when WWI started.

          1. Daniil Adamov

            I would add that, curiously, ethnicity in the Russian Empire almost did not matter. It was not tracked officially. What counted was (formal) religion. All Russian Orthodox subjects were considered essentially Russian and generally had the same rights, whether they were native Siberians, freed black slaves (like Pushkin’s ancestor) or Germans. I think the main exception was in occasional attempts to restrain the rights of even converted Jews, who were considered especially unreliable – but that was only in the 19th century. Aside from that the main stratification was based on social estate. But non-Russian aristocrats could have equally high standing with Russian ones. At the very top, descendants of Gediminas or Genghis Khan were equal with descendants of Rurik.

            It’s not so much being multiethnic – any real empire is multiethnic by definition, since it includes many ethnicities. But it was much more ethnically inclusive – even at fairly high levels – compared to the European empires.

  24. Pat

    I live downtown in the Village. So I got more than some but much less than the worse for 9/11. And I have to say that the most unhinged reactions I encountered were in the Southwest, and briefly in areas I traveled through to get there.
    This was another time where propaganda was rampant and the whole goal was fear. I met numerous people sure Muslims were waiting around every corner. I ended talking down multiple people who finally got that “the terrorists are coming for us” story being used to sell Homeland Security, invasions, and laws that undermined civil liberties didn’t really work if looked at logically. And that none of what was being proposed would stop groups really bent on terrorizing Americans.

    And the official story on 9/11 has never worked logically, and the aftermath was full of BS. My favorite bit was Rumsfeld and Rice testifying tearfully that no one had ever considered people turning planes into missiles using almost word for word the same. I have personally landed on LIHOP. I know it doesn’t really account for WT7, but it is still the best all around especially considering the disruption in the Iraq invasion plans and possible purpose I have found.

    1. The Rev Kev

      ‘My favorite bit was Rumsfeld and Rice testifying tearfully that no one had ever considered people turning planes into missiles’

      Well that was a lie as there was a training exercise done shortly before 9/11 based on that exact scenario.

      1. Pat

        Oh there were so many buts that could be applied beyond that one.

        A plane as a missile was used in Flight Simulator.
        Plane as missile was a plot point in both films and television shows, my favorite was it was almost the entire plot of an episode of The Lone Gunmen.
        Bush and Rice attended the G 20 summit just months before where anti aircraft guns were prominent parts of the security.

        In point of fact, any security plan that didn’t include the idea of a kamikaze plane filled with explosives would have been considered beyond inadequate. I’m sure they would claim it was only hijacked airplanes they were excluding but in an age of suicidal terrorists that doesn’t make any sense either.

          1. Pat

            Yup, hence the long distance flights originating within hours of NYC and DC. But they never thought…

        1. The Rev Kev

          In the Tom Clancy 1994 book “Debt of Honor” a Japanese pilot flew a 747 into the Capital building while it was being attended by the President, the Senate & House as well as all the Supreme Court. These days that would count for a happy ending.

          1. Pat

            It would be for me, especially since it looks more and more that it might be the only way to rid us of Feinstein and Clarence Thomas.
            Sorry I didn’t remember Mr. Clancy’s novel.

      2. jrkrideau

        IRC, a few weeks before 9/11 I saw a book on sale that had terrorists flying an airplane into the Towers or the Empire State Building. I remember it as it had a very lurid cover.

        I presume someone plagiarized bin Laden’s notes.

    1. Bazarov

      The thing about moats is: you have to dig them.

      No business comes with a “moat”–as if such barriers were a natural thing that the capitalist appropriates. No, “moats” are a social relation entirely socially determined. If the tech-clique has enough seats on the Committee of Bourgeois Affairs that we call the “government,” then it will succeed in procuring the force necessary–legal and physical–to dig its “moat” as an early element of the planned monopoly fortress.

      “Moats” are socially reified by all sorts of expedients, but in this case, one could imagine the “moat” being crafted, like with certain weapons monopolists, on the basis of “security.” But who knows. Not every capitalist clique succeeds in passing motions through the Great Bourgeois Committee, though I have to admit of late the tech clique has been getting its way. Note, for example, the victory of Microsoft in acquiring Activision Blizzard. The point being here, of course, to dig a “moat” around gaming by creating a world wherein no one “owns” games but merely “subscribes” to them via GameStreamCorp, the future Microsoft/Activision/Blizzard/Sony/Disney entertain-o-sphere monopoly platform.

      1. hunkerdown

        I have some doubt that “big tech” is getting its way, necessarily. A government that is totally committed to the republican bit, as Article IV, Section 4 makes the USA, has many own interests in suppressing its subjects’ hidden potential for action (Graeber’s definition of “power”). AI on edge devices, hidden among one’s private papers and effects (Am. 4), could undermine many proof-of-work systems embedded in Western society and mechanically localte narrative inconsistencies, defeating many techniques of rule. CFR, unsurprisingly, is all in on regulation.

        You can’t dig a moat in granite without major blasting. Both training and inference are transformative and therefore likely to fall under fair use; Andersen v. Stability AI has seen many of its initial claims dismissed. Numbers aren’t functional and therefore not copyrightable. The algorithms are pure math and therefore not patentable. AI has about as much blockbuster potential as dry-cleaning, unless new exclusive rights are given to them (by taking them from everyone else). That would have knock-on effects, particularly accelerating the decline of democratized general purpose computation. That’s problematic.

        IMO, this is a battle over whether the slaves are allowed to use water and fire machines to mediate their relations, or not, and on whose terms.

        1. Bazarov

          Certainly, like I said, it’s not guaranteed by any means that big tech will succeed in digging a moat around this one. Hell, the risks in trying may be “irrational” even if it could succeed. By “risks” here I mean: not enough surplus value to be appropriated to be worth pushing it through the Bourgeois Committee and pissing off the other factions.

          As for the legal barriers, these are hand-waved away easily if in fact the Committee decides the matter in favor of the tech faction. They’ll make up some mumbo-jumbo or create a state of exception and then the would-be monopolists will have the moat they want.

          The one thing that makes me think that big-tech could go for it is the nature of Imperialism. Imperialists impose privately-owned monopoly social relations on the whole world. To survive, the periphery must sell its commodities to the Imperials and then spend the currency it gets buying the Imperials’ monopoly goods.

          The problem with the American empire today is that it’s got fewer and fewer monopoly goods to sell, and once there’s a real alternative to the Imperial monopoly, then the empire begins to fall apart (“multipolar world”). Right now, the only crucial monopoly the Imperials have is over certain digital intangibles as its monopoly over hardware (via control of Taiwan and the Netherlands) is rapidly slipping away.

          I could see the Bourgeois Imperial Committee being convinced that it has to try to dig a moat around this stuff to protect its monopoly position in the world economy–even if that’s unlikely to succeed. In fact, that very unlikelihood might lead the Committee to conclude that war is “inevitable,” which in turn rationalizes such “moating” all the more as a security relation.

          We’ll see if history repeats itself. I remember hearing in the late-1990s on USENET and IRC ebullient discussions of how Napster and torrents were going to free us all from the tyranny of capitalist social relations. Very quickly the Committee got to work using its power of “legitimate violence” (legal and physical) to conquer and enmoat this social milieu, leading directly to Web 2.0, “contentification,” and the fast approaching streaming monopoly.

  25. TimH

    US and Chinese military spending is roughly comparable.

    I would expect that China gets a lot more for its spend than the West… and it’s apparent that a good spend is on artillery munitions and explosive drones, where quantity is probably more important that perfection for the drones.

  26. Dr. John Carpenter

    I’m sure it’s completely and totally coincidental that all the media is starting to describe RFKJ as a “Trojan horse”. (I have seen others this week too.) Speaking of Trojan horse candidates, the second coming of FDR still owes me $600…

  27. digi_owl

    Transhumanist aspirations far outpacing scientific reality.

    And sadly not the first time we have been here.

  28. Feral Finster

    “American Neo-Nazi Training Forces in Maine to Fight for Ukraine Libertarian Institute (Kevin W). Erm, this looks to be a way to reduce the population of domestic neo-Nazis.”

    We are regularly informed that Putin is “worse than Hitler” and also that the relatively multicultural Russia are the “real Nazis” because Zelenskii is ethnically Jewish or something.

    So why are so many Nazis from around the world flocking to Ukraine, with its tolerant and open pogroms and open Nazi militias? Why are folks like the Christchurch Shooter, the Buffalo Shooter and the Waco Shooter (all of whom expressed their appreciation for the regime in Kiev and even a desire to live their among likeminded souls) so confused?

    1. Daniil Adamov

      The ethnostate angle played quite well with Russian ethnonationalists as well, since 2014. It’s not only an overwhelmingly white state – it’s an overwhelmingly Slavic state! Much better than RF with all those Central Asians (not that that’s what they call them).

  29. Anthony K Wikrent

    So Stoller is now under the wing of the MIC?

    But I’ve always thought the data on US military spending was problematic. My primary concern was that there was no way to factor out the bloat of privatization and rent-seeking by defense contractors. How many tens of billions is now spent in the military budget just for contractors to feed the troops — a job the troops largely used to do themselves?

    Second, it’s useful to look at actual force comparisons. The PLA has 975,000 active duty troops and 4,800 main battle tanks compared to 463,000 and 5,500 MBTs for USA. USMC is another 181,000 active duty.

    PLA Air Force has 400,000 active duty compared to USAF 329,000. PLA Air Force has 1,215 fighters and 120 bombers compared to USAF 1,511 fighters and 152 bombers.

    PLA Navy has 260,000 compared to US Navy 350,000. PLA Navy has 623 ships; USN has 480 ships.

    USA has large advantage in helicopters with over 4,000 compared to over 800 for China. And USA has massive advantage in strategic forces with 406 ICBMs and 336 SLBMs compared to 70 ICBMs and 39 SLBMs for China.

    So, notwithstanding the large USA superiority in helicopters and nukes, the sizes of the armed forces of the two countries is roughly comparable, and would lead one to expect about similar expenditures.

    And keep in mind that the USA officer corps is quite mindful of the severe disadvantages now imposed by privatization and contractor rent-seeking. The professional military journals have been for years regularly carrying articles considering how to deal with this problem. And I think the officer corps have implemented some solutions already: the USAF designed and built its next generation (6th generation) fighter prototype within USAF, apparently keeping contractors at arms length. Development time was reportedly less than 24 months. That’s very, very impressive. I’m sure there are Army and Navy officers salivating at the prospect of doing the same thing for armored vehicles and ships.

    On the other hand, there is a disturbingly large number of officers who hop on the contractor gravy train when they retire. But I would bet on the active duty officer corps – it’s their lives on the line. Lots of USA history has been rewritten to glorify the “free enterprise system,” including the industrial mobilization for World War 2. In short, there would not have been any Arsenal of Democracy if not for the work of George C, Marshall and others in the 1920s and 1930s, establishing the Industrial College of the Armed Forces, and carefully surveying every production plant and factory in USA. See How America Saved the World: The Untold Story of U.S. Preparedness Between the World Wars, by Eric Hammel, and Destructive Creation: American Business and the Winning of World War II, by Mark R. Wilson

      1. pjay

        On that issue: Some time ago I read a rather outlandish statement on China by Stoller which took me aback, since I really liked most of what I had read from him (mainly on economic policy, monopolies, etc.) I did some quick online research and within minutes was able to find about about his wife and the probable reasons why Stoller’s comment on this issue seemed so “off” to me compared to his other work with which I was familiar.

        Well, when I read today’s China tweet I did the same thing, just to check my memory. I was surprised to find that there was *nothing* on Stoller’s wife – anywhere – that I could find, at least not with the type of online search that I had done before. All gone. I thought that was interesting.

      2. Jessica

        Now I get why Stoller is as he is about China.
        Can’t blame him. Don’t agree with him, but can’t blame him.
        Thank you, Yves.
        I lived in Taiwan for a year in the 2010s. Folks I met wanted no part of China. Many felt betrayed by Taiwanese businesses and their investments on the mainland.
        I was in Taiwan long before the Ukraine war, but I can’t imagine the folks I knew in Taiwan being too eager to be the next Ukraine either.

    1. Polar Socialist

      …5,500 MBTs for USA

      I think I saw something claiming the USA army operation and maintenance budget for 2024 being for only 976 Abrams tanks.

  30. Brunches with Cats

    > “little more than genetic astrology.” . . . . just after gastrulation, the process that lays down the blueprint of an organism, we look very similar to a chicken, fish, and frog. The similarities in animal embryos connect us to the first multicellular organisms.

    Or a ram, bull, crab, lion, scorpion … Ever noticed the gorgeous “mane” of hair on a Leo, “fish lips” on a Pisces, “cow eyes” on a Taurus?

  31. britzklieg

    Thought I’d try my hand at a song parody and XTC’s “Here Comes President Kill Again” seemed to be a good template. Best, or perhaps saddest, part is I didn’t need to change a word of the chorus

    Here comes President Drool again
    Puppeteered by all of his killing men
    Telling him he’s so cool and then
    He can be smug and cruel again

    Hooray, make up the facts
    King Putin is dead
    Ukraine, just barely intact
    Needs 40 billion more instead

    Here comes President Drool again
    Looking like a dumb-ass fool again
    Dressed in a bib and wearing Depends
    The DNC not giving a damn

    Hooray, aint it a stitch
    Queen Nuland is stoked
    If he stops mid-sentence like Mitch
    Just give him some of Hunter’s coke

    Ain’t democracy wonderful?
    Them Russians can’t win
    Ain’t democracy wonderful?
    Let us vote someone like that in

    Here comes President Drool again
    Ever the bankster’s tool and a scam
    Ruining lives and reigning us in
    President Drool will kill us for them

    Hooray, everything’s great
    Who cares if he’s lost?
    No problem, the corpse will be tossed
    And you’ll vote for who we choose again

  32. jrkrideau

    Re we are all conspiracy theorists now

    That article was a nice piece of stupid fluff. The author seems to have completely failed to understand the article in Psych Bull. The summary of the paper is as accurate as a Daily Mail article on Prince Harry or the latest cure for cancer.

    The paper, itself, is fascinating, though written in an outstanding example of academic obscurantist language. It is comprehensible with a bit of effort.

  33. Jorge

    As our post today suggests, the Polish leadership is signaling it is cooling on Poland.

    I think the first “Polish” should be “Ukrainian”?

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