Links 8/29/2023

The World’s Oldest Cat Door Has Been Letting Working Cats Enter the Cathedral Since the 14th Century MyModernMet (David L)

Ambitious effort works to search for the mythical Loch Ness Monster YouTube (furzy)

Prehistoric bird once thought extinct returns to New Zealand wild Guardian (Kevin W)

At This Movie, Their Phones Won’t Bother You. Their Barking Might. New York Times (furzy)

Scientists Engineered a See-Through Squid With Its Brain In Plain View NPR

The Hidden Brain Connections Between Our Hands and Tongues Quanta (David L)

Ultra-processed foods: what are they and what are the risks to health? Guardian (furzy)


This Fall’s Covid Variant Might Really Be Different Wall Street Journal (David L)

A molnupiravir-associated mutational signature in global SARS-CoV-2 genomes MedRxIv (ma)

ma per the tweet below: “I can’t make up my mind about this guy, but assuming his vaccine is legit, AND already updated, why is it not available?” Note Novavax, which was approved, I am told is pretty much impossible to get. And GM responded:

Somehow I had missed that they already jacked up the prices to “market rates”…

But anyway, $130 are better invested in a large quantity of N95 masks. That will protect you much better.

Eugenicism sighting courtesy the BBC:


Carbon emissions found to cost the world’s economies 4 times as much as they did 10 years ago PhysOrg (David L)

Japan startup aims to tackle Asia’s traffic jams with EV sky trams Nikkei

More than half of European ski resorts facing ‘very high risk’ from climate change, study finds ABC Australia (Kevin W)

Former coal worker uses drones to expose his state’s mining industry: ‘I’m going to cost them as much money as I humanly can’ The Cool Down (David L)


Secret escape slide for Taiwan’s former leader draws in the crowds – just don’t ask for a go Guardian (furzy)

Pentagon Bets On Quick Production of Autonomous Systems To Counter China Politico

Why China is reluctant to launch a massive economic bailout South China Morning Post

China’s Real Estate Crisis Threatens $100 Billion Forest City Bloomberg


Can’t confirm extent of this action, nevertheless:

European Disunion

EU’s €86bn budget battle casts shadow over Ukraine funding Financial Times

Germany: Low consumer confidence expected to dip further DW

New Not-So-Cold War. All of this “We will support Ukraine for as long as it takes” increasingly echoes Croesus’ famed misinterpretation the oracle’s advice of the consequences of his invading Persia. The realistic limits of “as long as it takes” is not the defeat or destruction of Russia but the destruction of Ukraine as a functioning nation.

‘Dying by the dozens every day’ – Ukraine losses climb BBC. More admissions against interest.

Lost in translation: Germany’s challenges training Ukrainian soldiers Financial Times (furzy)

“The risk of getting hurt is probably greater in Rinkeby than in Kharkiv” Aftonbladet via machine translation. Micael T:

Rinkeby = an area Stockholm with a lot of immigrants and used to be plagued by ghetto problems. The word “Rinkeby” is still used as a symbol for violence, poverty and immigrant ghetto in general even though they have done quite some work to improve the area.


Zelensky demands Western money to hold elections RT. In case you missed it. Apparently one of Zelensky’s spin-doctors got wind of increasing bad press in the West about Ukraine’s fake democracy, as in the cancellation of elections until the war was over and the outlawing of all opposition parties and found a way to try to turn it to their advantage.

Best in Hell: Yevgeny Prigozhin, a Quintessentially Modern Russian Hero Scott
Ritter (furzy)


Pakistan court suspends ex-PM Imran Khan’s conviction in state gifts case Aljazeera

Liberia to concede territory to UAE firm in carbon offset deal Middle East Eye

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

>Suella Braverman does not rule out GPS tagging of Channel migrants BBC (Kevin W)

Imperial Collapse Watch

PATRICK LAWRENCE: The Dialectic of the Draft Consortium News (Kevin W)

‘Every flight is a learning event’: why the V-22 Osprey aircraft won’t be grounded despite dozens of crashes and 54 fatalities The Conversation (Kevin W)

India, the reluctant BRICS traveller Indian Punchline. A sour note in invoking the bogus “petrodollar” notion but otherwise useful.

It’s one thing for Taleb to be sniping but I am very surprised to see this: BRICS Expansion: Remember the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact? Counterpunch


Federal judge sets March trial date in Trump’s election interference case NBC

Yes, Trump was Seeking Another Recount or Investigation in Georgia: A Response to the Washington Post Jonathan Turley

GOP Moves to Oust Georgia Prosecutor Who Indicted Trump Intercept (furzy). From a few days ago, still germane. Some of the writing is less than ideal. A group filed for a preliminary injunction v. this effort. I don’t see anything suggesting it has yet been granted. Plus as I read Wikipedia, the Georgia Supreme court consists of Republican appointees….


National Archives admits it has 5,400 Biden pseudonym emails from his vice presidency New York Post

Burisma’s Devon Archer met with then-Secretary of State Kerry just weeks before Shokin was fired Fox (Chuck L)

Note the logs would just establish contact but that would then prove grounds for the Republicans to call the visitors as witnesses, assuming an impeachment inquiry, which seems likely:

Biden became Ukraine’s hostage, Russian Security Council deputy chairman says TASS (Chuck L). Note I had trouble getting to TASS with my proxy server set to the US….maybe just a fluke…

GOP Clown Car

Vivek Ramaswamy wants Elon Musk to be his presidential adviser—and likes the chainsaw approach he used at Twitter Fortune (furzy)

EXCLUSIVE: Vivek Ramaswamy claims he is too busy campaigning for President to give evidence in multi-million dollar court case Daily Mail (Li)


Behind the AI boom, an army of overseas workers in ‘digital sweatshops’ Detroit News (ma)

Closed to OpenAI CNN Newsletters CNN Newsletters (furzy)

Medicare Patients May Soon See Their Costs Come Down Bloomberg (furzy)

US consumer bust shrinks world trade Asia Times (Kevin W)

The Bezzle

All of Sam Bankman-Fried’s Proposed Expert Witnesses Should Be Barred From Testifying: DOJ Coindesk

Foxconn Puts Its Empty Buildings In Wisconsin Up For Sale Guardian

SEC Says NFTs Sold by an LA-based Entertainment Firm Are Securities Fortune

Class Warfare

How We Forgot the “Jobs” Part of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom Intercept

Job cuts in the automotive supply industry and the role of the IG Metall union WSWS

Antidote du jour. gsl: “Second family of birds that we have had in our entryway alcove this year. One of the little guys.”

And a bonus (Chuck L):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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    1. Lexx

      The otter is a pet; they can be chatty. Lots of pet otter video on Youtube. Usually it’s video of the otters alone playing in water, but that human joined the otter is his element, so perhaps the otter is inquiring about why they’re not spending more time playing and less time sitting still in the water and talking to the camera… or so I imagine.

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      Couldn’t help but wonder what else is swimming in that water. Microbes? Alligators? The “yuk” factor overwhelmed the “cute” factor IMNSHO.

      1. some guy

        If this is Brazil, and the pup is a giant river otter, then maybe not alligators but technically caimans.

  1. griffen

    Donald Trump should steal an idea from the iconic comic strip Calvin & Hobbes. Calvin figures out he can create a clone to perform his chores or whatever it is the Dad or the Mom have tasked him with. Unfortunately the initial clone is no fool, so an additional third clone is tasked with the duties. \ sarc

    Hilarity ensues! In the comic strip that is. Trump will be everywhere, serving as a reminder of what he is charged with. Almost makes the effort to campaign at all secondary. Many saw that voting Democrat in 2020 was a return to normalcy and “America is back”…Meh, normalcy has not returned, I submit, others mileage may vary.

    1. Screwball

      You want hilarity? Someone should ask Brandon why he is trying to get Trump elected. Make sure the cameras are rolling.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Well if Trump becomes President next November and the Ukraine falls apart, the Democrats could then turn around and say that it was all Trump’s fault. And I am sure that the main stream media would back this narrative.

        1. Tom Stone

          If the Ukraine situation looks as bad as I expect in a few months I’d expect Joe to retire for “Health Reasons” and Kamala Harris get stuck with “Losing” Ukraine.

        2. Dr. John Carpenter

          I’m sure they would, but I’m feeling the MSM’s ability to help create reality is lessened these days. And sure, the usual suspects would call those of us who point out the emperor’s nudity “Putin puppets” and “Trump lovers.” But really, who cares? I can’t imagine anyone not BlueAnon would buy that story (and they probably need no persuasion anyway.)

    2. XXYY

      This is also the exact plot of the movie Multiplicity, where we get 4 Michael Keatons instead of 3 Calvins.

      Both were very well done.

  2. paul

    I’m not sure ms braverman’s confidence in GPS tagging is all that well founded

    Albanian criminals and migrants have shared TikTok videos boasting about how easy it is to remove ankle tags using just a pair of kitchen scissors.

    The trackers are being dubbed ‘British Rolexes’ by Albanians, as hundreds have been tagged after arriving in the UK, either as part of their immigration bail or before deportation following release from prison.

    Multiple videos show how easily the tags can be removed, with those filming them often detailing how to cut through the thin plastic bands and what to do once they are off.

    1. digi_owl

      Good grief, they could at least ha inserted a hard to cut wire or something to detect cuts and trigger an alert.

      1. redleg

        I’m surprised that the devices aren’t attached using thin serrated wire stretched really tight because cruelty seems to be the goal these days.

    2. Jon Cloke

      On the other hand, perhaps we should use GPS tagging on Tory MPs?

      So we know what they’re doing and who they’re taking money off…

      Nads would have been a good one, of course, but what do you think a GPS tag on Jacob Rees-Mogg would tell us?

  3. flora

    Now for some contrarian reporting.

    Most fires in Greece were started ‘by human hand’, government says
    Official blames negligence or arson for majority of 667 blazes that spread in extreme heat

    and from UPI
    Greek officials say 79 arrested on arson charges over wildfires

    This from Michael Shellenberger is the contrarian and interesting post.

    Pseudoscience, Greed, And Nihilism Behind Disinformation On Climate Change And Fires
    Why is the US government, the corporate news media, and Hollywood helping climate scientist Michael Mann spread false information about fires and global warming?

    1. OnceWere

      The substack article hangs on the notion that the total area burnt has been declining over the last two decades as observed by NASA satellites. Conspicuously left out is this explanation in the referenced article :

      As populations have increased in fire-prone regions of Africa, South America, and Central Asia, grasslands and savannas have become more developed and converted into farmland. As a result, long-standing habits of burning grasslands (to clear shrubs and land for cattle or other reasons) have decreased, explained NASA Goddard Space Flight scientist Niels Andela. And instead of using fire, people increasingly use machines to clear crops.

      “There are really two separate trends,” said Randerson. “Even as the global burned area number has declined because of what is happening in savannas, we are seeing a significant increase in the intensity and reach of fires in the western United States because of climate change.”

          1. flora

            Well yes….and it’s a humorous answer. However, if that’s an argument, (instead of a quip), that humans are the problem, without any finer examination into which humans and why (pretty sure the school kids didn’t make the Electric company decisions, and the working class in Maui aren’t getting rich from their stock portfolios and demanding greater profits, etc.), then a blanket “humans are the problem” has no answer, or only a bad answer like ‘eliminate half the humans’ or something.

            1. mrsyk

              It was a quip for sure, and your comment is well put, thanks. I’m firmly enrolled in the “caused by climate change ” school of thought, although I’m well aware that we should never underestimate corporate greed and mismanagement as a force to wreak havoc. Here’s something to mull over. Who’s responsible for the nonnative grasses overrunning abandoned plantations which have been pointed out as a major contributor to the intensity of the fires (in Maui)?

        1. marcel

          You need two things to have a fire: something that burns and something that kindles the fire.
          So mismanagement, pyromaniacs or whatever human cause/event may provide the kindling of the fire.
          But it is climate change that provides for warmer & drier air, and forests that burn brightly.

          1. flora

            I don’t doubt the climate is changing. My gripe is the very same people who are telling me I should live with much less, in order to save the planet, are themselves living with much much more. They invest in the products, push the products, they get rich from the products. They’re getting rich while I’m getting poorer.


            And saw An Inconvenient Truth, was deeply impressed by it, thought it was all true. bought the book. Now? I’m not so sure their’s wasn’t a financial (not environment) motive all along.

            1. flora

              And the great off-shore American wind farm in the Atlantic is killing the North Atlantic right whales in large numbers. What ever happened to “save the whales”?

              1. t

                This is certainly news. The potential change to currents that carry their food is a greater risk that boats, that cause them to stop communicating and most likely stop feeding, until the boats pass or from slicks and even spills from boats that kill their food?
                Any time you hear about the potential impact of wind or solar on wildlife and the environmental, check it out and compare to the know effects of business as usual. (Damns and geothermal may have other issues.)

                    1. flora


                      Are you claiming the data presented is incorrect, misinterpreted, or skewed?

            2. CanCyn

              Flora – the thing that I will never understand is that it so not just that ‘they’ are getting rich, it is that they’re getting rich-er. What can they possibly be doing with all that money except for virtual/digital Scrooge McDuck-like swimming around in it?
              I just watched an interview with golfer Viktor Hovland who just won golf’s version of the Super Bowl – aside from tournament winnings of 3ish million dollars, he won 18 million dollars for being top of the pack at the end of the season. He admits that he doesn’t live particularly lavishly (he lives in Stillwater Oaklahoma) and doesn’t really know what to do with all his money. And that interview was before this past weekend’s win. I suppose many would fault him for lack of imagination but the 1%ers can afford to give up some of their largesse in order to let others live more comfortably and they would still have more than enough. The billionaire and climbing thing truly makes no sense.
              The only question is whether there will be an uprising or if the poors will just slowly continue to sink into mud grubbing destitution. My bet is on a new medieval era.

              1. tegnost

                I’ve had some success pointing out the obvious reality that 1 billion = 1 thousand million then querying whether my audience of one or two people would keep working if they had that much money? Color me amazed that a person who has been told their standard of living must fall in order for the big 3 to reach trillionaire status doesn’t vote for the person helping the big 3 reach their goal and vote for an uncouth orangutan instead…<:/

                1. ArvidMartensen

                  So. Orang = person utan = forest.(Malay derivation).
                  Who are orang utans?
                  Orangutans are among the most intelligent primates. They use a variety of sophisticated tools and construct elaborate sleeping nests each night from branches and foliage. The apes’ learning abilities have been studied extensively. There may be distinctive cultures within populations.
                  Orangutans are the most solitary of the great apes: social bonds occur primarily between mothers and their dependent offspring. Fruit is the most important component of an orangutan’s diet; but they will also eat vegetation, bark, honey, insects and bird eggs. They can live over 30 years, both in the wild and in captivity.

                  Uncouth? How would you apply that to orang utans?
                  Just wondering.

                  Seems to me that the Malays have much more respect for other creatures than perhaps us western, trained at university (not educated) great white apes.

                  And there-in lies the problem. We should be mourning the loss of creatures that we are killing in droves, creatures that took millions of years to evolve. But of course we are so smug in our “intelligence”.

                  If most of us could appreciate the wonder and miracle of life on Earth, then we may have done something about global boiling catastrophe. But alas, it’s too late for us and all the other miracles.

            3. Henry Moon Pie

              “My gripe is the very same people who are telling me I should live with much less, in order to save the planet, are themselves living with much much more”

              Is our elites’ hypocrisy–and it is rank–a reason to deny the reality of what our carbon spewing is doing to the Earth’s systems? I don’t think so. Nor are our elites’ inadequate but profit-making (for them) “solutions” a reason to deny the reality of the underlying problem.

              And there’s no reason to react so strongly to living “with less.” In what many consider our golden era of the 50s and 60s, even fairly affluent people didn’t live in such huge houses, drive such huge vehicles so far nor consider traveling to other parts of the world something to be done annually or even semi-annually.

              Carlin on “stuff” is a good reminder of the ridiculous American overconsumption.

              Lao-Tzu has a couple of good observations on these points:

              The greatest evil: wanting more.
              The worst luck: discontent.
              Greed’s the curse of life.

              To know enough’s enough
              is enough to know.

              Tao te Ching #46 (Le Guin rendition)

              The farther you go, the less you know.

              Tao te Ching #47 (Le Guin rendition)

              The real conspiracy that’s been going on for over a century is to turn all of us into mindless, wasteful consumers for the sake of profit. Our whole society, from its suburbs to its fast-food, tries to maximize churn and waste for the sake of the billionaires’ bottom line. As a Boomer, I watched it turn from my grandparents’ generation who had raised families through the Great Depression to my parents’ “Greatest Generation.” The grandparents never wasted food, hardly ever ate out, avoided borrowing even for a car, never took trips out of state. My parents were the opposite in every respect.

              If you want to get back to real American values, the conserving habits of the generation born around the turn of the 20th century are a much better model than the lifestyles that came to predominate in the 60s when the Energy Return on Investment for Permian Basin oil was 100 to 1 compared to a range between 4 and 30 depending on the type of recovery employed and from where. It’s not only that these fossil fuels are adding energy to the planet’s atmosphere and oceans with catastrophic results for living things, including us. We’ve run out of easy-to-get hydrocarbons–other than coal–and our energy-dependent, lavish lifestyles in the West will decline by necessity.

              These issues are not WEF fabrications to “take our freedoms” or big pickups away. They’re realities that our politicians are avoiding because the billionaires want to keep the pedal to the metal until they take off for Mars. When we repeat the lies and quibbles of the deniers, we’re helping them screw us.

              1. flora

                “the ridiculous American overconsumption. ”

                I don’t disagree, but which part of the American populace is over consuming. Considering the fact the economic bottom 50% of US households don’t have $400 easily available (without using their credit card) for an emergency, I think the over consumption is coming from the top half, or more likely the top 10%. Yet the entire populace is flogged with the charge of selfishness when it comes to climate. Buy an EV! Even though they’re much more expensive than ICE cars. That’s exactly what touched off the yellow vest movement in France. Meanwhile:

                How big is Bezos new ship, again? And Leonardo DiCaprio’ ship. Both of which burn enormous amounts of diesel fuel on their pleasure cruises.

                /end rant

                1. Henry Moon Pie

                  As I detail below, Shellenberger is not a reliable source for anything related to climate. And how many times have I noted that the richest 10% worldwide are responsible for 50% of climate emissions?

                  But the American “middle class” lifestyle is a big part of the problem. Americans’ carbon footprints are multiples of the rest of the world. Historically, it’s Americans who put up by far the largest share of the carbon that’s cooking us.

                  While the One Percent’s share of this problem is huge, it isn’t enough to just reduce their waste, overconsumption and conspicuous consumption. Americans have set up this country in a way that forces us to overconsume energy with our Happy Motoring, suburbs and huge square footage per resident. Shall we just tell the people in Pakistan, ninety per cent of whom have no access to air conditioning, that they’ll just have to figure out how to survive wet bulb 35 while we drive 10 miles all alone in our SUV to pick up some almond milk?

                  That world is over one way or another. Hanging on to people like Shellenberger for some confirmation that we don’t have to change isn’t helping the problem. There are plenty of people like him who will tell you that it’s all OK. Everything’s coming up roses. It’s just a conspiracy to take away our precious stuff.

                  They’re lying.

                  1. flora


                    ‘Americans have set up this country in a way that forces us to overconsume energy with our Happy Motoring, suburbs and huge square footage per resident. ‘

                    I would rewrite that as:
                    “Capitalism has set up this country in a way….”

                    Well, capitalism and Bernays. / ;)

                    1. flora

                      You see, I refuse to blame “the American people” as a whole for this state of affairs. / ;)

                    2. flora

                      or more correctly put:

                      Unregulated capitalism and Bernays. The New Deal was about regulating capitalism to tame its worst excesses in a way that let small-c capitalism thrive. I think Adam Smith would approve of that New Deal idea, never mind the neoliberals’ insistence on unregulated capitalism as the “only true form.” / my 2 cents.

                    3. Henry Moon Pie

                      It’s hard to say Americans are free from blame considering the way they react when anybody says gas prices need to go up or we need to use less or even drive slower. Pretty spoiled. That’s what spooked Carter into the malaise speech. Same with the wars. One of the reprint authors this past week noted Cliff Robertson’s speech to Condor about getting oil for the American people.

                      As for regulating capitalism, it apparently does not work well in the long run. The New Deal’s run really ended when both houses of Congress overrode Truman’s veto of Taft-Hartley. That was the beginning of the dismantling that Reagan didn’t start–he completed it.

                      Regulating capitalism is like putting a serial killer under house arrest.

                      I’ll close with a song from ’69 called “Monster” from Steppenwolf:

                      The spirit was freedom and justice,
                      And its keepers seemed generous and kind.
                      Its leaders were supposed to serve the country,
                      But now they won’t pay it no mind.
                      Cause the people grew fat and got lazy.
                      Now their vote is a meaningless joke.
                      They babble about law and order,
                      But it’s all just an echo of what they’ve been told.
                      Yeah, there’s a monster on the loose.
                      It’s got our heads into the noose
                      And it just sits there watchin’.

                2. ArvidMartensen

                  yes you are right, we are totally immersed in propaganda which serves a very few, to enrich and empower themselves in perpetuity.
                  So you can do one of 4 things:
                  1. ignore what is going on (fingers in ears, blah blah blah) and consume and party like there’s no tomorrow (which is true)
                  2. become an activist, try to do something even if it is too late
                  3. accept what is going to happen and sit and wait until the end comes
                  4. accept what is going to happen and make preparations to smooth the path for our loved ones where we can.

                  3. and 4. come with a big serving of grief

              2. flora

                Carlin’s bit is very funny, and when it was recorded 40 years ago or more the US was still a prosperous and solidly middle class country. It no longer is that. 50% of the US populace can’t put their hands on $400 in an emergency (except by credit card).

                The US billionaires and multimillionaires might be over consuming, but most of American’s today are struggling just to get by. Gig economy, student debt, medical debt, layoffs, etc.

            4. mrsyk

              “I don’t doubt the climate is changing. My gripe is the very same people who are telling me I should live with much less, in order to save the planet, are themselves living with much much more.”
              Yes. I’m of the opinion that we will be seeing authoritarian regulations sold as “battling climate change” when the real motivation is profits.

              1. Mikel

                A term like “environmental degradation” always had a better ring to me as a call to action.
                Something about “climate change” is amorphous to me. The earth’s climate changes and it has been inhospitable to human life for most of its existence. It’s almost like “look at what natures is doing to us as it does its thing.” ALMOST.

                However, say something like “environmental degradation” and people may be more likely to question, “Well, what/who is degrading the environment?”
                It’s something that’s happening. Not changing.

                Then you look at things like pollution, poisons, the way agriculture is done, what is built where and the effects. Whatever the case, there was too much focus on the modelling of a hypothetical future, when plenty could have been done tackling the things that are affecting people in the here and now. The asthmas, the cancers, etc….
                But largely the problems tended to have more immediate effect on the poorer communities and too many times their protests were ignored or minimized in some way.
                Framing the arguments around a model of the future, seems to help enable kicking the can down the road.
                Just spitballin’.

                1. pretzelattack

                  climate isn’t constantly changing. it’s changing now and we are causing it. and it is affecting people in the here and now, witness more severe hurricanes, more droughts, more fires etc.

                  1. Mikel

                    “Constantly” …is your add

                    Then you repeated (kind of what I said). I even pit im bold something about neglect of the here and now.
                    “…Whatever the case, there was too much focus on the modelling of a hypothetical future, when plenty could have been done tackling the things that are affecting people in the here and now. The asthmas, the cancers, etc….
                    But largely the problems tended to have more immediate effect on the poorer communities and too many times their protests were ignored or minimized in some way…”

                2. Henry Moon Pie

                  ” The earth’s climate changes and it has been inhospitable to human life for most of its existence.”

                  That’s not really true. Check out this graph (scroll to bottom of page) showing estimated global average temperature changes over 4.5 billion years. Note the compression in the x-axis to scrunch that much time into the graph while showing detail after humans’ arrival. There had never been such a period of temperature stability as during the last 10,000 years. The Holocene temperature variation was never more than a degree Celsius in either direction from the average compared to the preceding Pleistocene when the temperature varied by 3 degrees Celsius both ways from the baseline, from ice age to hothouse. Humans were around then, but small in number and able to pick up and go to a more livable clime when things changed.

                  The building of civilization took place during a uniquely tranquil period of Earth’s climate. It’s like Gaia really got into a rhythm. And we’ve blown that.

                  And we’ve blown eras’ worth of fossil fuels, half of it in the last 30 years. It’s been quite a party.

              2. ArvidMartensen

                Yes of course, the only route for people sitting on a huge pile of money while surrounded by hordes who would kill them and take it all (as they see it), is to double down.
                So the slide into climate hell will be paved by authoritarian and totalitarian governments. It’s happening now all over the world. It was obvious 2 decades ago that this would happen.
                And as things become more dire and more people realise they are going to die, the ferocity and the cruelty of governments in the thrall of the rich, will increase exponentially. Protesters will be run over, gunned down, beaten to death, thrown into jail with no due process, and the media will react as if this is all normal. The police will be totally off the leash.

            5. JustTheFacts

              The proposed solutions are obviously a scam, which is not to say there isn’t a problem to solve.

              If the powers that tell us to consume less really cared about the environment, Nord Stream would not have been blown up, releasing 500 kilotons of methane, and everything would be done to reduce the environmental degradation due to the war in Ukraine — be it the waste of resources needed to create ammunition, the waste of resources used to produce the men whose lives were cut short on the battlefields, or the pollution of Europe’s most fertile land by depleted Uranium shells (the Russians use titanium instead to prevent that pollution).

              If the powers that be really cared, they’d be working with China and India to ensure they use cleaner sources of power instead of building new coal plants. Germany would use nuclear power instead of burning lignite (and gas from Russia). Cars would be lighter and get 10x the distance per gallon of fuel, instead of today’s electric heavy tire ripping (microplastic emitting) cars of “the future”, reliant on materials which are difficult to obtain in sufficient quantities and a grid that will need massive upgrades.

              So no, our “betters”, the parasitic class are just lying. As far as they are concerned it’s just another story to sell to the mass of the unwashed to explain why our living standards must go down. If they wanted to reduce emissions without making us poorer, there would be more money to research nuclear fusion, growing crops without fossil fuels (more than half of us only live because of calories created from fertilizers derived from fossil fuels), and less money spent on wars.

          2. Mikel

            “But it is climate change that provides for warmer & drier air, and forests that burn brightly.”

            For some reason this whole discussion brings to mind that old question: If a tree falls in the woods and nobody is around does it make a sound.

            Of course it’s going to trigger some vibrations, but where’s the amplifier?

        2. playon

          I have lived near forests for much of my life. The forests are not “managed” much differently than they have been for the last 70 years, so I’m not buying that meme. In the case of Lahaina, although deadly that was a small fire by most standards.

  4. The Rev Kev

    “‘Dying by the dozens every day’ – Ukraine losses climb”

    More than dozens every day. A coupla months ago there was talk about the Ukrainians wanting to build their own Arlington military cemetery and it has just been given the go ahead a coupla days ago. The Ukrainians have already allocated land bigger than Arlington itself and I think that it will be able to take 600,000 people. It will be in the Bykivnia forest which is east of Kiev and the site of the burial ground for NKVD victims. Here is a CNN article talking about this idea a coupla months ago-

  5. jsn

    “Pentagon Bets On Quick Production of Autonomous Systems To Counter China Politico”

    Pentagon is going to get ahead of the Commies for a couple hundred million, hu?

    “The Performance Gap is Massive” (Roberts is a hard core China booster, but the issue he’s highlighting is real).

    1. RobertC

      The navalists at Cdr Salamander add a touch of realism Sorry, the Swarm will not Save Us: 72-hour transformational offset wishcasting

      Defense Scoop provides this [DepSecDef Kathleen Hicks] quote

      “We’ll spell out the details and Replicator in the coming weeks … [but] we’re going to be cagey in terms of what we want to share” publicly because the DOD doesn’t want to reveal its cards to China, she said during a Q&A at the conference.

      Translation: “We haven’t got a clue How What When Where we’re going to do.”

  6. The Rev Kev

    Working link for “Foxconn Puts Its Empty Buildings In Wisconsin Up For Sale” article at-

    I wonder how much money Wisconsin spent on this white elephant that Scott Walker committed them to? There were a lot of stories on NC as this building was getting underway years ago and how they were trying to find things to put into it years after it was built. Meanwhile, Walker got away scot-free after this fiasco.

    1. sinbad66

      Hey Rev: take with a grain of salt from Politifact:

      One thing I can say: living in the area, the Foxconn grounds are mostly empty (at least Microsoft is going to build a data center on the grounds) and Evers got a LOT of pushback from Republicans when he went to renegotiate the deal (which happened). Put it this way: the deal was so bad that Walker, during his reelection campaign, did NOT run it.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Hmm. If Microsoft is going to build a data center on the Foxconn grounds, does that mean that they will want Wisconsin to build pipelines going to it for the enormous amounts of water that data centers typically require?

        1. Mark Gisleson

          The proposed area is a few miles from Lake Michigan. Local aquifer is quite saturated, not an area at risk of drought.

        2. sinbad66

          They had already made an exemption for Foxconn; therefore, all of those pipes are already there.

  7. flora

    THE FACT CHECK FILES: Inside the secretive and lucrative fact checking industry behind a foreign-funded bid to censor Voice debate

    Two of Australia’s most powerful universities and a multi-billion dollar tech giant are fronting campaigns to silence news coverage of the Voice to influence the referendum, writes Jack Houghton.

    First the twitter files… now the FB files?

    1. The Rev Kev

      The present Albanese government in Oz won’t do anything about this as they are all in on the Voice campaign. In fact, Albanese has staked his political position on this vote passing in October. I guess that this is him wanting to leave behind a legacy with his name on it.

    2. Darthbobber

      Wow, the fact-checking industry has its own certification authority.

      I think we can take it for granted that “fact checking” is every bit as partisan and corrupt as anything.

      Utterly mendacious “fact checkers” have been a thing from early on.

  8. vidimi

    re prigozhin

    i agree with ritter’s assessment that the CIA or any other foreign intelligence agency most likely had nothing to do with it. might as well go for the big dog himself if they have the means to do that. ukraine had no reason to do it either, as prigozhin was defenestrated. Most likely scenarios are that the operation was green-lighted by Putin or that the Russian military command did it without informing Putin (less likely, although who knows just how disfunctional the russian state is – it would certainly be expected in the US). If Putin had nothing to do with it then we might se some prosecutions in the future, but I don’t expect any. That’s usually a tell-tale sign of the state’s complicity in a crime (like oops, I guess we have to move on from those anthrax attacks).

    The plane was brought down over an unpopulated area, suggesting the explosive (or missile) was well calculated. If it was a bomb planted in the fuselage, then the most likely suspect would be a russian loyalist in plane B.

    1. Carolinian

      I think he did it too and doing it in such a public way served to show who is really in charge. Those who spin it as a Putin mistake or weakness haven’t read their Machiavelli.

      Which doesn’t make Putin a villain if he pretends otherwise. Promises to the treasonous may not be worth the paper they aren’t written on. He has always come across as someone who is playing a deep game.

    2. Maxwell Johnston

      The area was not unpopulated; European Russia between Moscow and St Pete isn’t densely populated a la Holland or northern Belgium, but it’s not northern Siberia either. There are many videos of the crash and its aftermath on the Internet, shot at multiple angles (and not everyone in rural Russia carries a smartphone 24×7, and only a percentage of those would have had the presence of mind to yank it out and make a video, let alone post it on the ‘net). IMHO, the fact that it was taken down over a populated area in daylight indicates a non-state actor took it down. It was messy and sloppy and created collateral damage (the 3 crewmembers), plus now the RU govt must conduct an official investigation (more potential complications and annoying media attention).

      On a related note: Prigozhin was apparently buried today. Putin did not attend (nor did any senior RU govt officials, as best I could tell). (a St Pete news site) covered the funerals with extensive live online reporting (at least one of Prigozhin’s colleagues was also tucked away). Security was super-tight, including rooftop snipers and at least one drone hovering overhead. Of course it was a closed-coffin event (so the conspiracy theorists will continue to have a field day), but methinks this affair is closed permanently. Wagner has a new boss, and its activities will continue (in Africa, anyway).

      1. vidimi

        there was no collateral damage on the ground, the plane landed in a field.

        if a non-state actor did it in Russia, there would be a serious investigation with heavy punishment for undermining the state. I don’t see it. I agree that the affair is likely closed permanently.

  9. Lexx

    ‘Ultra-processed foods: what are they and what are the risks to health?’

    It’s the same scene on television over and over again… kid from working class family walks into the kitchen, gets down a bowl from a cupboard, pulls a spoon from a drawer, and grabs a box of cereal for breakfast. Sits down at a table/counter and pours cereal into the bowl, adds a a splash of milk that always seems to be magically just be there, and begins feeding… while fending off some tense conversation with a parent. Or in an effort to avoid the conversation altogether, grabs an apple/banana/piece of toast off someone else’s plate, and heads out the door for school. Television working class kids have vexing home lives and they’re starving. Apart from these images I have no idea what ‘the poor’ eat for breakfast or any other part of the day.

    In ‘Billions’ the Axelrod children get the same cheese omelets for breakfast every single morning, and when they complain and ask their personal chef for something different, their parents shame into silence and compliance. Those aren’t just omelets but privilege and represent their parent’s hard work and escape from poverty, so they will eat those omelets and only those omelets and they will like them or not, mom and dad don’t care.

    In ‘Big Little Lies’ Madeleine MacKenzie is a wealthy stay-at-home mom and in the morning her kitchen counters are festooned with a colorful buffet of healthy choices (representing the over-consumption of rich people) for their daughters, who eat mere spoonfuls before school. The conversation over food is stressful.

    UPF or whole and healthy, food when it appears at all in a scene is consumed with a lot of unpleasant drama and I have to wonder what’s worse for human health, how the food was processed or the emotions, and seemingly from birth? They are not separate issues.

    1. IM Doc

      As was taught to me by my elders, I refuse to participate. And I learned lessons as a kid watching all the family members who jumped on the ultraprocessed train die out way before their time. Usually miserably so.

      Wife and I and now the kids are old enough to be very helpful grow all of our own food with the exception of grain and tropicals. It is amazing to me the entire concept of personal ownership and its effect on young kids. These are YOUR peas, carrots, tomatoes, apples, grapes to take care of. Mom and Dad and neighbors will help but if you are not doing your part, we will not be having carrots this year, etc.

      We eat off the land, we eat well, the kids have developed a real taste for very nutritious fruits and vegetables and even things like buttermilk. They do not really enjoy sugary stuff and are very athletic. Climbing trees for apples and cherries, etc. Fishing a lot. Chasing chickens and processing eggs. Piling up cow manure. Running and biking down country roads. They each have their favorite tree where they take books up there to read.

      And we still have time for Latin, Greek and math lessons. We all sit around the table every night and just talk about what they read that day, etc. We sit around the living room every night and read aloud several chapters from books.

      What do we not have time for? Social media, iPhones, video games, and TV. The only TV watched is with all of us together. And that is carefully selected non-dreck that has stood the test of time.

      I know not everyone has the inclination to work like this or the ability. It is quite literally 1 or 2 FTE employees to process and store all of this food. Just incredible amounts of work. But it keeps all of us fit and healthy and robust. Somehow, I think we have really taken a wrong turn as a country.

      I learned this week that because of the loss of pandemic funds, the kids in our school system are going to be facing paying three bucks a meal for their lunches in school. I do not know if this is local or national. Because it is clearly happening here, it is now officially the problem of everyone who lives here. And the answers are up to us. If you have ever seen what they are feeding kids in the schools today – worse than Lucky Charms, etc – you would be shocked. All of the parents and teachers got together this week. We are as a group taking care of this. My wife makes 5 extra lunches every day out of our abundance. And the kids have much better food. But is it not incredible in America that this happening? Three dollars for cardboard pizza and chocolate milk?

          1. mrsyk

            Reminds me of some advice I read on a university bathroom stall forty something years ago. “Flush twice. It’s a long way to the kitchen.”

          2. marieann

            I got free school dinners when my father was unemployed(which was often) they were delicious, meat, potatoes and vegetable and even a desert. I ate better then than I did at home.
            They were dinners for all kids at different prices depending on the home situation.
            We also got a third of a pint of milk every day…the only milk I had.
            But that was back in the old days

        1. griffen

          I can recall that school scene where the filmmaker, Spurlock, asked the kids questions about the varied food restaurants or popular “mascots”. They all knew Ronald McDonald.

          At least the chocolate milk tastes good. Otherwise, regard to school lunches I just can’t imagine what they feed children today.

        2. Bsn

          I think it was in Ralph Nader’s book of family recipes, but he mentions how his mom would encourage the kids to eat new things or food they weren’t use to. She’d say “you may not like these carrots, but your eyes do and your liver does”. Our approach (9 kids in the fam) was mom would say “you have to eat one bite”. She wouldn’t force us, but if you didn’t try just one bite, you couldn’t finish the rest of din din. I remember getting used to eggplant very young and it’s one of my favorite to this day. By the by, being quite low income we didn’t have a lot of choices.

        3. ArcadiaMommy

          Yuck. This is shocking. My boys are so lucky to go to private school. The menu has regular, gluten free and vegetarian/vegan entrees, a soup bar, salad bar, basic sandwiches, fresh fruit, chilled/filtered water, protein bowls, etc. Yes there is junk food and soda.

          I haven’t seen any Sodexo boxes when I volunteer at the cafeteria.

          The problem is this is expensive. If they both have a morning before school practice they will eat breakfast and lunch at school, that is a minimum of $15 – $30 per day, total not per kid. It isn’t realistic to have them drag a lunch box around all day since they have so much gear already and it is one more thing to get lost. They also have to bring their own reusable water bottles – can’t tell you how many have been lost. Plus I hate gross, moldy lunch boxes. They don’t have lockers since their macbooks have most of the school stuff they need, other than books for literature classes.

          Everything seems so unfair.

      1. Lexx

        I hardly know where to start to reply… first of all, I don’t want to live at your house or even visit, it sounds like too much work. In retrospect my childhood was full of gluttony and sloth and those were among some of my good remaining memories growing up in that house.

        Twenty five years ago I sat once a month in someone’s living room with a group of women in a knitting circle. One of those women would be hired by the state of Oregon, who then ‘supervised’ the state’s policy on the school lunch program. She couldn’t cook; her husband did most of the cooking and (one) child-rearing. She was a career nutritionist and lifelong bureaucrat. This is who I think of when the subject of school lunches comes up.

        For a while, I made a point of reading the local paper to see what they were serving in the schools at that time. I didn’t think it looked too bad, at least there were some raw and fresh fruit* and veggies on the trays, so some vitamins, minerals and fiber intact. Probably from Big Ag, so not organic and completely lacking in familial virtue, but the students chewed and choked it down anyway, those little troopers. Their parents must be proud of their kid’s accomplishments in the face of such adversity.

        My youngest SIL ate Lucky Charms for breakfast every day for years. Lucky Charms and only Lucky Charms, it’s all she would eat and her mother bought it for her, undoubtedly out of willed ignorance. Today that SIL is an RN working in a hospital (she put herself through school), sole breadwinner for her family which includes a disabled husband, two teenage daughters, and a menagerie of pets, all packed into a 5th wheel parked on their own acreage while their house is being rebuilt. It burned to the ground this spring. When I think of what she might have accomplished with her little life if only she eaten fresh eggs and a rasher of homegrown taters as a child, plucked and prepared with her very own hands.

        I’ll be seeing my MIL in a few weeks. In hindsight I should have a word with her about the crap she fed her youngest and her current run of bad luck. MIL grew up on a farm and with her mother had an acre of vegetables to hoe and weed every summer,if they wanted to eat that winter, and so goes their story for generations of hoers and weeders. SIL No. 2 sent us photos of MIL’s recent fire, where due to a spark or someone tossing their cigarette butt out the window, set the roadside grass alight where it burned right up to her garden plot before the fire department showed up to put it out. You would think considering her wealth, she’d have had enough of tending vegetables, but she sticks to what’s familiar… she’s 87.

        *I recall the closest our middle school trays got to fruit was canned fruit cocktail and of course we loved it. Mmmmmm, heavy syrup! In high school the county levies failed, so we were free to eat from the vending machines the county had installed at the back wall of the cafeteria at our leisure… at least there was Darigold yogurt.

        1. CanCyn

          I can’t tell if this is sarcasm or what? Is your SIL healthy physically? That’d be more important to know that what she does and how she lives.
          For my part, I think IM Doc and family are living the good life. If I wanted to live in the US, I’d be doing my damnest to figure out his real name and get there and hope to have him as my family doctor. His caring attitude and knowledge of nutrition and good health are without precedent in the doctors I have had over the years in Ontario.

      2. eg

        Our experience has been that parental influence on children’s eating habits doesn’t survive contact with late adolescence when peers and the income from part time work poison the well in numberless ways. We still provide healthy, nutritious food in our house, but our adult children are making their own choices — our daughter is fairly reasonable, but our son is an outright disaster. Watching the latter is painful.

        Perhaps you will enjoy better outcomes.

    2. wol

      This thread prompts me to rewatch Herzog’s ‘Happy People: A Year in the Taiga’ (trailer, 1:56). And I’m reminded of the story of the Greek man diagnosed (in the US?) with cancer who returned to his village. Worked in the veg garden in the mornings and hung out with friends in the afternoons. IIRC the cancer disappeared.

  10. digi_owl

    > “The risk of getting hurt is probably greater in Rinkeby than in Kharkiv” Aftonbladet


  11. The Rev Kev

    ‘Anthony Fauci tells the BBC’s Katty Kay that 96% of the US population has degrees of immunity.’

    So Fauci is saying that herd immunity was the goal all along? Nice to know that. It’s a good thing that the herd immunity concept works with a Coronavirus or else the country would be facing a catastrophic train-wreck.

    1. Ed S.

      Is it me or are we suddenly seeing the word “immunity” or the phrase “some/degree of immunity” everywhere? The WSJ article in links has this, “almost everyone has some immunity to Covid-19 from either a previous infection and vaccines.” Fauci echos this in his comment. And wasn’t there a discussion of some sort of hybrid “immunity” (that is, both infection and vaccine) as the ultimate in protection? Half seriously/have rhetorically – hasn’t the problem of waning “immunity” from a previous infection and/or vaccine been common knowledge for nearly the last three years?

      Am I missing something? Because if we all have some “immunity”, why are the number of cases climbing again?

      1. juno mas

        …because the degree of immunity to Covid is zero. Nothing, at this point, is preventing it from infecting you; other than your isolation/prophylaxis from the virus. What the “vaccine” provides is some measure of mitigation from severe detrimental medical effects. The long term results of which we currently know little.

    2. some guy

      I note that Fauci exquisitely not-quite-lies and cleverly dissembles and releases clouds of verbal squid ink just like Alan Greenspan did every time Greenspan testified before Congress.

      Fauci’s speaking reminds me of Greenspan more and more.

  12. Kevin Smith MD

    Wow, that little vignette by Zed Zah MD brought a tear to my eye. Forwarded that to some of my family.

  13. Mikel

    “Behind the AI boom, an army of overseas workers in ‘digital sweatshops’

    That awful treatment is probably why alot of them don’t care about half-assing the already half-assery by using other algorithms to train algorithms.
    This algorithm boom.

  14. ChrisFromGA

    Taleb’s sniping at the BRICS seems to ignore the long history of colonialism, financialization, and resource extraction by empires from the likes of Argentina, Brazil, and South Africa. it is difficult for those places to build a better life for their citizens under such conditions. See the case of the Wall St. hedge fund that used lawfare in NY courtrooms to collect on defaulted Argentinian sovereign debt.

    (Elliott Capital v. Argentina, citation not well-formed.)

    By attempting to break free, these BRICS countries are at least doing something to change the situation. Being the equivalent of a minor league baseball team feeding its best players to the majors is not sovereignty.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Look at the Yankees. There are now six or seven teams that can compete with their money, and teams like Tampa Bay aren’t that broke, able to keep players who would have signed with the Yanks some years ago. Taleb is trying to assuage PMC readership that they aren’t Yankee front runner fans doomed to have a team of overpriced guys on the back half of their careers with player friendly contracts. This is the fear. The Steinbrenners basically own the team. It’s not a hobby where they can just go nuts if they feel like it. I’m sure they aren’t broke, but they aren’t as well heeled as other ownership groups as they put the money on the field all these years.

      This is source of the BRICS+ scoffing. The Western especially US based PMC are going to take the hit as international trade moves and they’ve eaten up everything domestically. It’s the last spot to squeeze.

      1. notabanker

        the Yankees revenue stream is humongous compared to small market clubs. Last Forbes article I read on this, and it is years old now, the Yankees had estimated revenues of $639M vs say $200+ for the bottom teams. At the time, the Yankees payroll was larger than the total revenue of the Cleveland Indians.

        Steinbrenners may not be loaded, but they have more financial clout that any other team in baseball by virtue of being located in NY. If they family blog it up, it is their own faults.

    2. vidimi

      not to mention that the brain drain dynamic is quickly going to change, if it isn’t already under a stronger BRICS structure. They should just learn from the EU about what not to do : what set out as an intended counterweight to the US became its neutered puppy.

      The BRICS have a huge potential to sanction countries that sanction their member states. I wonder if they will wake up to it.

    3. The Inimitable NEET

      What’s funny is that Taleb is plain wrong about point #1. Institutions like Harvard, Yale, etc. are usually secondary options for upper class families whose children fail to compete in the cutthroat admissions process that gatekeep the native top universities. It’s an unspoken acknowledgment that if you can’t make the grade to enter Tsinghua or University of Tokyo, the overseas consolation prize with an easier workload is the next step – at the expense of earning less prestige back in the home country.

    1. Bsn

      I had a good friend and professor of history at a local university say to me “Oh, Mearsheimer is a right wing bla bla bla”. We’ll the discussion ended quickly. Use of those pointless tropes displayes an inability to articulate an argument. It’s like a person who cusses a lot – not very articulate. Expletive deleteds add nice rhythm to a conversation but are not definable in any form. Just as with our discussion yesterday in water cooler, non-translateable words such as “cool”. That was a “cool” comment. Huh?

  15. rob

    It is interesting that the story about devon archer meeting with john kerry, before the ukrainian prosecutor mr. Shokin was fired, leave out a seemingly pretty big piece of that puzzle;

    The company devon archer, and hunter biden were seemingly getting paid through, was a company where devon archer,hunter biden AND chris Heinz were partners.
    There was a ny post story from sept 29, 2019 ; about how heinz , who was one of the three partners at rosemont Seneca ?, “broke up” with biden when he joined the Burisma board(@2014
    ), citing widespread corruption.
    So, John kerry’s stepson… and member of the Heinz lineage.. old? business partners , are involved. and people speculate if they knew anything? HMMM

    1. Screwball

      There are also connections between Burisma and a guy named Cofer Black, who worked for Mitt Romney. Which explains some of the things Mitt does and says. What a colossal creep he is.

      1. Katniss Everdeen

        From the Kyiv Post announcing black’s appointment to the Burisma board. 30 years at the cia….

        International Energy Group Burisma has expanded its Board of Directors to include an expert in the field of security and strategic development. Joseph Cofer Black, a former Director of the CIA’s Counterterrorist Center and Ambassador at Large for counter-terrorism recently joined the Board as an independent director at Burisma Group. Ambassador Black resigned from public service in 2005 after a 30 year career and is considered a leading expert and significant figure on U.S. and international security issues. He served in the administration of President George W. Bush and also served as a senior advisor on international affairs for U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney. According to public media reporting, Ambassador Black was a top contender for the position of Director of the Central Intelligence Agency in the administration of current U.S. President Donald J. Trump. At Burisma he will provide guidance with respect to the Group’s security and strategic expansion.

        1. Screwball

          I wonder how many congress critters have made bunches of cash laundering money through Ukraine over the years? We know it was one of the most corrupt countries in the world, and we (the USA) have been meddling there since St. O was president, or longer.

          Which is why I think nothing will happen to Brandon or his crack head kid. It might expose half of congress and we can’t have that. Besides, the best I can tell the money laundering is still alive and well. Sending billions of unaccounted money to a BS war and nobody wants accountability. What’s not to like?

          1. The Rev Kev

            I think that Nancy Pelosi’s son was in the Ukraine and there was another. Mitt Romney’s son perhaps? They were all posing together in a photo taken in the Ukraine. Maybe it is a case of the next generation arising – while kicking back 10% for their own big guys.

            1. digi_owl

              One family member in congress, the rest all over the world raking in the cash. And i thought Galbraight’s description of the robber barons shopping around their daughters during the gilded age was cold.

  16. The Rev Kev

    “EXCLUSIVE: Vivek Ramaswamy claims he is too busy campaigning for President to give evidence in multi-million dollar court case”

    Should it be pointed out that Donald Trump can campaign for President while doing numerous court appearances? Maybe somebody should tell Vivek about Zoom and how he can give testimony in court if he can spare the time. I mean, it is still only about 140 days till the actual election. There is something about Ramaswamy that sets off alarm bells for me. He is kind like a male, Republican AOC – and we know how that turned out.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      On occasion, AOC talks up sensible policies. Ramaswamy is another Pete Buttigieg. He makes a banal call for trust or something and then proposes a nutty right wing idea as sensible and pretends it’s new instead of a warmed over turd pushed over the decades.

      In the end, he’s an old rich white guys idea of what young people should like.

    2. Mark Gisleson

      Ramaswamy is most likely currying favor with Trump by taking some of the heat off The Donald in this regard. Doing a favor for the likely next POTUS is very Ramaswamy.

  17. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Medicare Patients May Soon See Their Costs Come Down Bloomberg (furzy)

    So, the list of the first 10 drugs whose prices are to be “negotiated” is in, and the names are familiar to anyone who’s ever been exposed to direct-to-consumer pharma advertising, which is pretty much every soul in america.

    The talkers on cnbc are fretting over this deplorable, socialist “price-fixing,” and lamenting the loss of all the valuable, life-saving drug R&D that will no longer occur when pharma corporations can no longer recoup their “investments.” (What they’re really afraid of, of course, is the loss of unfettered pricing power / profits, share buybacks and dividends, newly minted billionaire pharma ceos to schmooze, and the advertising income that pays their salaries.)

    Not to worry, though. There would seem to be plenty of time to right this egregious, anti-capitalist wrong. From Statnews:

    The new prices will be announced on Sept. 1, 2024, and will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2026…

    However, there’s a chance that the program will never actually go into effect. Several of the companies that make the medicines selected for the negotiation program have sued the Biden administration in courts across the country, claiming the program is unconstitutional, including Merck, Bristol Myers Squibb, Boehringer Ingelheim, Johnson & Johnson, and AstraZeneca. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce requested a preliminary injunction, which would immediately stop the law’s implementation.


      1. Katniss Everdeen

        Oh, pfizer is not left out. Again, from the Statnews link:

        A top executive at Bristol Myers Squibb, which saw its blood thinner Eliquis included in the list, said that the company worries about both the fairness of the decision and its impact on the drug industry’s future decisions about R&D. Eliquis is used to prevent strokes in patients with atrial fibrillation, a heart rhythm disorder, and profits are split with Pfizer.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          It looks like to a large degree that targeted meds are the ones very heavily advertised on old people TV, so not hard to figure out they have very fat margins.

          1. Pat

            Which could mean their blather about affecting R&D has some truth in it even considering how little actual R&D they actually do. Drugs targeting seniors must be high on their “what can we spend development funds on that will have enough of a client demand that it will increase our bottom line” list. We already know that being more effective than established treatments is not a consideration. And certainly providing a solution that isn’t a huge profit maker is not either.
            Full disclosure, I have come to consider the ads for drugs the legal equivalent of telephone scams.

          2. Katniss Everdeen

            And it would seem that that “old people TV” advertising is impressively successful. Statnews again:

            …The drugs were chosen from a list of 50 treatments that cost Medicare’s pharmacy drug benefit the most money. The selected medicines cost Medicare more than $50 billion and made up 20% of the Medicare program’s pharmacy drug costs over a one-year period, the Department of Health and Human Services said.

            Don’t know if it’s true, but RFKJ contends that direct-to-consumer drug advertising could be ended by the president with the stroke of a pen, no “legislation” needed.

            That alone would be a budgeting boon of epic proportions, and the ripple effects, in terms of “news” program sponsorships for instance, would be almost unimaginable.

            1. Yves Smith Post author

              While Chinese public school education runs rings around ours, higher education is another matter.

              Admittedly China is behind the West in medicine because Mao pushed traditional Chinese medicine. But it very best medical school is ranked way below the University of Alabama’s med school.

              In engineering, where you would expect China to have more of a relative advantage, China has only one school in the top 20 in the world and it is #9:

              China’s highest ranked school in mathematics is #24:

              China’s highest ranked school in physics is #15, with only one other school in the top 30:

              Mind you, this site ranked Chinese schools more favorably than most other sites did.

              1. XL

                I think Chinese universities are probably a bit better than this ranking indicated. Take another ranking list for example:, you will find a lot more Chinese universities at the top. Looking at the ranking methodology from this site:
      , I’d say it is a bit more focused on the soft power side, which definitely is a weakness for Chinese universities, (and China as a whole today). Things like international collaborations takes time to pick up after the 3-year long zero covid, and is also made exponentially more difficult in today’s bloc confrontation environment. My anecdotal observations would suggest that Chinese universities are keen to re-engage with west and other researchers, but a lot of researchers/universities in the west are afraid to engage with China for fear of persecutions (See harvard/Charles Lieber for a prominent example).

              2. JustTheFacts

                Ranked by “academic reputation, employer reputation and research impact”.

                * Most Western employers will not have heard of Chinese universities.

                * A lot of Chinese (and Russian) research is not published in English, yet is important.

                Therefore, there are good reasons to doubt the accuracy of this ranking.

    1. tegnost

      (What they’re really afraid of, of course, is the loss of unfettered pricing power / profits, share buybacks and dividends, newly minted billionaire pharma ceos to schmooze, and the advertising income that pays their salaries.)
      I like your list but would add that the offspring of “they” are in big pharma, genetic engineering, and contract law, with the younger members in the mba priesthood… and those promising youth are a lead weight on the scale of a just world…

    2. marym

      Saw a twitter comment saying they take one of the drugs, the patent expires in 2025, and generics will be available. This from KFF says drugs aren’t available for this “negotiation” if a generic is available. I don’t know anything more about it, but no doubt there will be lots of loopholes to be exploited between now and 2026. Lots of tweets hailing the ever empathetic (/s) Biden though.

      1. Pat

        Interesting point, but having been alerted to the insulin debacle through my diabetic cat, I learned a lot about both Pharma’s greed and its multiple tools for keeping a profit stream flowing. Therefore I do feel the need to point out that there is a very long road between when a drug’s original patent is scheduled to expire and when generics will actually be available. The road blocks are inherent in the process as it is currently designed, including numerous ridiculous ways to extend that patent term.

  18. chris

    Another article admitting how bad things are going in Ukraine, this time from the Guardian. I haven’t read too much about this angle in the stories about Ukraine until recently. That the people still living there are giving up and moving away because they’re tired of being in a war zone. The map from the ISW making an appearance is almost comic relief. The story discusses how miserable people in Kupiayansk are, but the map makes it look like that town is far away from the front.

    That story and others give the impression that Ukraine’s collapse is not far off.

  19. Carolinian

    Patrick Lawrence

    In my view, America’s switch from a citizen’s army to a paid, “voluntary” army served in important respects to open the door to a festival of public irresponsibility as to the conduct of the foreign and military policies executed in Americans’ names and by means of Americans’ tax dollars.[…]

    is there any question of the apathy, the coarse indifference, the willful somnambulance abroad in the republic as the imperium proceeds with its imperial business? By the time we get to Ukraine, we find the people whose intellectual forbears stood at barricades instead cheering a proxy war and pretending, per the propaganda, that it was “unprovoked.”

    There are numerous explanations for this shift in consciousness — psychological, social, political, even economic. The bitter truth is that we have to include among these explanations the fact that Americans are no longer held responsible for waging wars. They pay others to wage them.

    And finally

    It is one way to put it, I would say. As the 19th century turned into the 20th, Mark Twain, William Jennings Bryan, and all those early anti-imperialists understood America had a choice: It would be empire abroad or democracy at home, but it could not be both. The choice is now bitterly obvious.

    I had a draft card once and a student deferment as well. By that time Vietnam was supposedly winding down and now the generation that had the Grim Reaper looking over their shoulder (from atomic annihilation too) is also winding down as the woke, bizarrely, fly their Ukrainian flags. Since I escaped the first time (unlike some here who were drafted or volunteered) it may hypocrisy to suggest those Z groupies be hauled down to the processing centers. Still, something that might save us?

    1. Darthbobber

      But except in time of war, a paid, voluntary army was the US norm until the post WwII period. When the draft went away in the 70s, that was the reversion to the norm.

    2. ilsm

      I was ROTC entered USAF in 1972. Did not go to Vietnam, but stayed in for a long reserve career.

      Talking about the All Volunteer Force (AVF) with peers and some who were several years older, we hoped that the AVF would keep US out of no end conflicts like Vietnam. We expected the need to call up the National Guard would put too much on Main St America, as happened early in Vietnam when a National Guard unit was overrun with heavy casualties which ended sending Guard units….

      We were wrong, the presidents have wiggled guard and reserve unit ‘rotations’ to get around drafting

      I know of guard units that have rotated in and out of the global war on terror as if they were any other army company!

      I suppose the AVF is fine with long undeclared wars as long as whole guard units don’t come home in body bags!

      Hope is not strategy!

  20. JBird4049

    Biden became Ukraine’s hostage, Russian Security Council deputy chairman says TASS (Chuck L). Note I had trouble getting to TASS with my proxy server set to the US….maybe just a fluke…

    I do not really think it is a fluke as I have had increasing problems with connecting to news sources depending on where the VPN is set, what site is the source and even to what specific news is being covered. I do believe some of it is merely the blips due to all the worldwide connections that can go wrong. However, those blips seem to increase an awful lot when the the powerful, the wealthy, or the connected are being discussed.

  21. The Rev Kev

    ‘Nassim Nicholas Taleb
    The area known as BRICS can be defined, so far, as the zone outside of which
    1) the upper class prefers to send their children to study and
    2) the educated middle class prefers to send theirs to seek financial opportunity and/or a better life.’

    I have no idea why Nassim Nicholas Taleb has such a bee in his bonnet about the BRICS. Does he feel threatened by them? As far as his remark is concerned, I can only say ‘Past performance is no guarantee of future results.’ Taleb has a background as a mathematical statistician so he has no excuse here. BRICS is now larger than the G-7 and is actually growing while the G-7 countries are stalling out. Most of the oil in the world is now located in BRICS countries as well as other vital needs. To put a very fine point on it, the G-7 are composed of countries that are backed by the financial services of the FIRE sector of the economy. From what I can see, the BRICS are backed by the sum total of the commodities that they have and which the world cannot do without. Does Taleb pretend that he does not know this?

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      He grew up in Lebanon, which is falling apart and is an intellectual educated in France and the US. He is correct that there are no top tier higher educational institutions anywhere in BRICS save perhaps in Russia which get no cred because Russia and Russian.

      1. ChrisFromGA

        What about China? Granted, due to language difficulty, it would be a rough ride for anyone not fluent in the language to attempt to study there. I’m honestly asking, not for a friend.

        1. ChrisFromGA

          Never mind, I just read your comment on another part of the the thread.

          Traditional Chinese medicine doesn’t look so bad to me, after watching the US medical system response to COVID.

          Hope the move is going well, BTW.

        2. dftbs

          I am an immigrant to the US, it was a point of vanity and pride for my single mother that I went to Ivy league school. I was fortunate to use the “education” and status to attain some modicum of comfort. I have tremendous hopes and expectations for my children, and I know it’s my responsibility to put them in the best position to succeed. The wife and I hope, and are actively working/positioning, for our children to go to school overseas. The dream school would be Tsinghua U., but Zhejiang or Peking U. would also be great. I know a number of of other parents in my “demographic” (non-native Mandarin speakers), that feel the same.

        3. in between work

          This is from Liberia’s former Minister of Public Works. I can’t say exactly what trends it’s representative of, but China’s higher education may have some soft power potential with the Global South.

          Googling these words – chinese universities african students – gets you more detailed articles.

          The bottom of this article shows you some of the prominent African public figures with Chinese educational backgrounds.

          It’s not clear to me what the common languages of instruction for foreign students are. But even if it is limited to Mandarin, the difficulty should not be exaggerated. Mandarin has a very hard writing system, but this is partially balanced out by having arguably the simplest and most streamlined grammar among major languages. Word of mouth of that relative ease and some willingness for hard studying of the writing system should make the language barrier seem surmountable.

          Personally, I find the straightforward difficulty of memorizing Chinese characters less uninviting than the constant mental gymnastics of Indo-European declensions and conjugations. And then there are the irregular forms. I admire equally the pre-modern European child studying his Latin grammar as much as his contemporary Chinese youngster trying to master thousands of characters.

      2. The Rev Kev

        I was reading the other day about how the Russians opened their universities for young people from all over the world during Soviet times. It was an effective program and a lot of leaders in places like Africa and Arabic countries had a background of studying in Russian universities when younger. Certainly they were not on par with Harvard or Yale but they did fill the educational gap in those poorer nations. So I was reading that they were thinking of starting this program up again and it occurs to me that the finished product would have to be better than one trained up by the World Economic Forum or one of Sorus’s programs. We are seeing how the later programs are working out.

        1. Polar Socialist

          In 1960 they opened Patrice Lumumba University aimed precisely for students from developing countries. In 1992 it was renamed as People’s Friendship University, but the purpose was retained.

          This year the Patrice Lumumba name was restored during the Russia-Africa conference where many of the African delegates had actually graduated from the said university. And oddly enough, surprisingly many of the current African elites can still speak Russian.

          1. The Rev Kev

            I saw this African guy speaking and he was saying that Russia was the only European power that did not take African slaves. Admittedly the Russians stuck to their own knitting in the Eurasian mainland but it seems that memories of Patrice Lumumba University and their defending African countries during Soviet times are paying dividends still. Interesting that you say that so many of African elites speak Russian and I guess that those Russian educated elites can form bonds across Africa.

    2. Feral Finster

      “Nassim Nicholas Taleb has such a bee in his bonnet about the BRICS.”

      Taleb has a bee in his bonnet with regard to Russia.

  22. LawnDart

    Re; Best in Hell

    The movie:

    Not a bad flick (Russian, English subs)– not at all. It gets into a lot of the tactical elements involved in a day (actually 2-hours) of maneuver in the SMO in an urban-warfare setting, and in serious, heavy, realistic detail versus a typical Hollywood shoot-em-up.

    In short, a Russian unit is tasked with securing a high-rise to use as a forward observation post in an attempt to locate a Ukrainian artillery unit that has been effectively attacking other Russian units, and in order to do so, the Russians must clear three other buildings held by Ukrainian defenders.

    1. Maxwell Johnston

      Oh. My. Goodness.

      Thanks for posting. This is wild stuff. Apocalypse Now and Full Metal Jacket are tame by comparison.

      What I like most is that their UKR opponents are depicted as competent and honorable, just soldiers doing their jobs as best they can regardless of awful circumstances. No propaganda. Just war as hell.

      Drones matter! A lot.

  23. antidlc

    RE: Eugenicism sighting courtesy the BBC:

    In a wide ranging interview about his life after retiring as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Anthony Fauci tells the BBC’s Katty Kay that 96% of the US population has a degree of immunity against the most recent Covid variant but urges people to get a booster shot that will be released in September.

    “There is enough fundamental community-level protection, it’s not going to be the tsunami of cases that we’ve seen.”

    The new CDC talking point?
    COVID-19 is changing, but so is our immunity, experts say

    COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the United States, but vaccines and immunity from prior infections have adjusted the way our bodies react to the virus that causes the disease.

    The risk of hospitalization or death from the virus since the height of the pandemic has gone down, even as COVID-19 cases in the U.S. are going up.

    An estimated 97% of Americans either have some immunity from prior infection or through vaccination, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    1. Jason Boxman

      I guess we’re going to find out in the next decade whether the overwhelming evidence that each COVID infection causes organ damage, including cardiovascular and neurological damage, is really true or not. Because markets.

      This is an experiment that I decline to participate in.

      1. ilsm

        Is the covid spike protein from the mRNA vaccine less toxic (more) than the natural toxic version from the virus?

    2. antidlc

      And another one…

      Covid-19 has changed and so has our immunity. Here’s how to think about risk from the virus now

      Covid-19 was never just another cold. We knew it was going to stick around and keep changing to try to get the upper hand on our immune systems.

      But we’ve changed, too. Our B cells and T cells, keepers of our immune memories, aren’t as blind to this virus as they were when we first encountered the novel coronavirus in 2020. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has screened blood samples and estimates that 97% of people in the US have some immunity to Covid-19 through vaccination, infection or both.

        1. ambrit

          Basically, both Covid and the vaccines shorten people’s life spans.
          If this is definitly proven to be from a lab, no matter how it “escaped,” there will be H— to pay. H— dished out in individual and groups of extremely kinetic pieces of metal.

  24. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: French ambassador’s refusal to leave Niger

    If I recall correctly, France is a nato member extraordinaire.

    If the French ambassador is forced out and the French military with him, and their bases “reclaimed,” will nato article 5– an armed attack against one or more of them . . . shall be considered an attack against them all–be “triggered”?

    Could it be that ukraine’s pathetic showing as the chickenhawks’ WWIII tinderbox will be abandoned and replaced with little old Niger?

    1. Paradan

      Article 5 does not work like everyone claims. All that gets triggered is a meeting amongst member nations where they decide what action to take, if any.

  25. Jason Boxman

    From the department of we’re all screwed:

    America Is Using Up Its Groundwater Like There’s No Tomorrow

    Some farmers say they can adapt, including Mr. Watt, who cited advances in plant genetics and also more efficient irrigation and better land management. Experts say farmers nationwide should make similar changes to ensure remaining groundwater is used as carefully as possible.

    But those types of innovations will only work for so long, said Bill Golden, a professor of agricultural economics at Kansas State University. “The loss of water is going to outpace the gain of technology,” he said. “Eventually, we’re going to lose.”

    The kinds of immediate action we need, like immediately banning all sparking beverages, of which I’m addicted to, are naturally off the table, because markets. Not to mention, we can’t keep farming in ways and places that we’re farming today.

    Groundwater is another tragedy of the commons.

    1. playon

      Aquifers are being wasted with things like lawn-watering, golf courses and other bad practices. For the last ten years I lived in a semi-arid area where the aquifer has been drawn down by around 60% in the last 100 years – yet other than a ban on drilling new wells there is no attempt to conserve or ration water. They won’t even do easy stuff like covering irrigation ditches to reduce evaporation losses.

  26. John Beech

    Speaking of ignoring inconvenient data, how about Neptune’s clouds disappearing?

    Theory for this it’s due to the solar cycle. A solar cycle capable of reaching to where the effects of the sun are 900x less.

    Meanwhile, I note the lack of conversation about the solar cycle and global warming.

    1. Angie Neer

      I also note the lack of conversation about whales inventing interstellar travel. Why the silence on that topic?

    2. some guy

      Did the solar cycle theorists predict this current round of warming based on their theory the way the greenhouse-gas skydumping trackers predicted this current round of warming based on their theory?

      If they did, then they deserve a hearing. If they didn’t, then they don’t.

  27. Revenant

    Take a look at the article on cathedral cats! Number two child is about to join the choir there and we used to see said cat stalking between the Cathedral Close and the school.

    More importantly, look at that vaulting: longest unbroken stretch of Gothic fan vaulting in the world! Eat your heart out, King’s College Chapel. Roof’s a bit low but you can’t have everything. They were shorter in those days….

    You can blame Hitler and the Baedecker raids for the austerity of the inside but it does have the tallest bishop’s throne in the UK (possibly the world, I can’t remember). And a lot of naughty wood carvings if you know where to look. :-)

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