Links 11/20/2023

Links 11/20/2023

Love thy neighbor: Cooperation extends beyond one’s own group in wild bonobos

Dismantling the Walls in Our Heads Sapiens

Study Finds a Potential Downside to Vigorous Exercise We Didn’t Know About Science Alert


Richest 1% account for more carbon emissions than poorest 66%, report says Guardian

Burning Coal To Survive Climate Change NOEMA

Conservation programs offer solutions to climate threats, but are vastly underfunded  Investigate Midwest

Who’s Buying Nebraska? Corporations, investors grabbing giant chunks of Nebraska farmland Flatwater Free Press

Toxic Train Bombs

Union Pacific Fired Him Rather Than Heed His Warnings of Dangerous Rail Conditions ProPublica


A trip down troubled waters, drought on the Mississippi River KARE11


What I’m Reading: Pushing back on pandemic revisionism. Inside Medicine

NYC launches $4 million COVID vaccine campaign targeting poorer neighborhoods New York Post

Employees who violate Amazon’s return-to-office mandate will be blocked from promotions: ‘Your manager will be made aware’ Fortune

California workers died of a preventable disease. The threat was known years earlier. Los Angeles Times. Silicosis.

Old Blighty

Britain’s SAS Abetting Gaza Genocide? Al Mayadeen

Homelessness, Destitution, and Hunger Soar in the UK Human Rights Watch


Dollar Scarcity is Pushing More African Countries to Crisis Modern Diplomacy

The three-stage process through which African resource sovereignty was ceded to foreign mining corporations Review of African Political Economy


The Big Reveal goes awry Frozen Garlic. On the breakdown of the Taiwan joint presidential ticket.

European Disunion

Latvian Foreign Minister Karins Signals Interest in NATO Top Job Bloomberg

Germany Buys Three More Poseidon, Increasing Question Marks On MAWS Naval News

Germany: Pistorius on the Road to the Chancellery Thanks to the Bundeswehr? Defense Aerospace


Palestinian death toll in Gaza Strip rises to 13,000 since Oct. 7 Anadolu Agency

Israeli forces advance in Gaza City as Benjamin Netanyahu resists ceasefire calls FT

U.S. Believes Netanyahu Will Eventually Support Palestinian Authority Controlling Gaza Ha’aretz

Former Maj. Gen. and head of the Israeli National Security Council, Strategic Planning Branch of the IDF:


A Chain of Proxy Wars Looms Large Behind Gaza Modern Diplomacy

To Bluff or Not to Bluff imetatronink

Iran unveils hypersonic missile as Khamenei urges Muslim states to sever Israel ties Al Arabiya

Houthis ‘hijack’ Israeli-owned car carrier Galaxy Leader Lloyd’s List

US faces rift amid Resistance ops against bases, troops in Syria, Iraq Al Mayadeen

Europe is following the US into another disastrous war Middle East Eye

New Not-So-Cold War

New Raft of Articles Tighten the Screws on Zelensky, Plead for Course Correction Simplicius the Thinker

IS ZELENSKY BEING PREPPED TO JOIN THE FRIENDS OF THE U.S. CLUB? Larry Johnson, A Son of the New American Revolution

Zelensky Reveals Moscow’s ‘Maidan 3’ Plan: Disinformation Campaign Aiming to Spark Coup Kyiv Post


Ukrainian Pilot Defects to Russia: U.S. Arms Cutoff and Counteroffensive Fallout Crush Morale Military Watch Magazine

Russia is transitioning to gas heating in the countryside – Europe is moving to log fireplaces in the city Gilbert Doctorow

In Putin’s Russia Politics is War by Other Means and War is Revolutionizing Russian Military Affairs Gordon Hahn, Russian & Eurasian Politics

The West’s Pro-Armenian Pivot Is Complete After The US & EU Openly Took Its Side Andrew Korybko

Imperial Collapse Watch

Pentagon Fails 6th Audit in a Row and Their Excuses Are Hilarious Ken Klippenstein

South of the Border

O Canada

Federal COVID-19 benefits briefly halved poverty rate among Toronto’s low-income workers: analysis The Globe and Mail

B-a-a-a-a-d Banks

Blackstone Top Bidder for Signature’s Commercial Property Loans PYMNTS

The Dismal Science

Why Mainstream Economics Got Inflation Wrong Project Syndicate

Spook Country

Hard Truths Break Bans Tarik Cyril Amar’s Substack

A Jan. 6 defendant pleads his case to the son who turned him in New York Times


Poll: Biden’s standing hits new lows amid Israel-Hamas war NBC News. “…strong majorities of all voters disapprove of his handling of foreign policy and the Israel-Hamas war.” Commentary:

Newsom TV ad hits DeSantis on abortion as Fox debate looms Politico


Supermarket Squeeze: The Real Costs of the Kroger-Albertsons Deal American Economic Liberties Project

Realignment and Legitimacy

Why Democrats Became The Totalitarians They Warned Us About Public


In the battle to bring ousted founder Sam Altman back to OpenAI, Microsoft and Satya Nadella hold the trump cards Fortune

Yaccarino On Hot Seat As Ad Execs Urge Twitter CEO To Resign Forbes

Our Famously Free Press

Jezebel, a Peeing Device, and Me Slate


Boston experimented with using generative AI for governing. It went surprisingly well Fast Company. Many layers of BS.

In Pennsylvania and elsewhere, A.I. is being applied to the nation’s aging infrastructure. Is that wise? New York Times

Minding the AI Power Gap: The Urgency of Equality for Global Governance Tech Policy Press


Mayo operating gain doubles in Q3 Becker’s Hospital Review. Looks like Mayo’s scorched earth threats to prevent Minnesota nursing staff standards paid off.

Mayo Clinic workers say they have terrible health insurance Minnesota Reformer. From October 25, still germane.

Police State Watch

Countless hours of LAPD body camera videos go unwatched. Could AI be the answer? Los Angeles Times

Debunking the Myth of a Shoplifting Crisis Governing

Supply Chain

Germany considers Ozempic export ban amid shortages Reuters

CDC rushes extra doses of Sanofi, AZ’s Beyfortus to ease supply shortfall Fierce Pharma

25% of current drug shortages are more than 5 years old Becker’s Hospital Review

Book Nook

Contemplating Cormac McCarthy High Country News

Class Warfare


Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Antifa

    (an 8-6-8-6 Common Meter hymn to answer Lambert’s November 10th challenge)
    (same tune as Amazing Grace)

    Our President’s senility
    Drives both our foreign wars
    Irrational hostility
    The lust of conquerors

    We fight for young democracies
    Most anywhere they’re found
    But mostly where we get to seize
    The oil that’s in the ground

    Our Senate and our House approve
    Which tails can wag our dog
    Our State Department’s only groove
    Is spewing lots of fog

    All angels who have cloven feet
    And features serpentine
    Rejoice now at the human meat
    Spread throughout Palestine

    They cheer for half a million men
    Destroyed across Ukraine
    Does Biden ponder now and then
    The price of his campaigns?

    Some day, before the Pearly Gates
    He’ll answer for these deeds
    The privilege of these fifty states
    To harvest souls like weeds

    But you whose soul is on the line
    For standing doing naught
    For shrugging, sighing, so supine
    At this Gordian knot

    What answer will you give that day
    When you are judged in turn?
    Did you protest and disobey
    Or watch the world burn?

    We kill small children with our bombs
    Our powder store’s gone bare
    Supplying apartheid pogroms
    Are crimes that we all share

    Your conscience it does not exist
    If massive murder goes
    Stand up before your chance is missed
    Don’t be lead by the nose

      1. Antifa

        Of Tom Lehrer, there won’t be another
        I’d want ten Toms if I had my druther
        There’s a muse that we share
        Words fall out of the air
        All the joy is in writing another

    1. Objective Ace

      >10% responsible for 50% of carbon emissions

      I wish this was broken down more. How much of that 50% is attributable to the private jet setters? I have no doubt I am consuming more than my fair share of carbon emissions from a global perspective. I really have no idea though if its 5x more or 100x more than someone living in a third world country

      1. Synoia

        It was the 15 minutes you did not work, eat or sleep last week.

        You need to cut out the time spent commuting to work. We have a nice parking space you can rent for a small 50% fee deducted from your gross pay before taxes..

    2. Lexx

      What heathen vacations in winter? We are supposed to get that nonsense out of our systems in summer, then back to work!

    3. steppenwolf fetchit

      I would like to see that ” top 10%” broken down into small enough “tranches” to be analytically meaningful.
      For example, how much does the top 1% emit? How much does the second-from-the-top 1% emit? How much does the 3rd-from-the-top 1% emit? How much does the 4th-from-the-top 1% emit? How much does the 5th-from-the-top 1% emit? And so on for each next 1 % on down to the lowest tranche of the ” top ten per cent”?

  2. digi_owl

    Not siding with communists? Almost as if they are still mentally in the 60s.

    And sorry France, but big military purchases are more than simple logistics. It is about signaling allegiance.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      I found Milie’s statement curious as I’d sort of assumed that the branch of populist anarcho-capitalist libertarianist thought he represents is usually quite apolitical when it comes to Russia and China. Maybe its just a traditional strain of Latin American anti-communism seeping in or maybe the libertarian right has become even more complex and multi-stranded than I’d thought. Its become impossible to predict which way the new wave of populist right leaders will sway on almost any project. The only thing we can say with certainty is that Milie will be a disaster for Argentinas economy, even worse if possible than his predecessors.

      But if nothing else it shows that the whole concept of Brics becoming a coherent force is a pipe dream of western anti-imperialists (I doubt if the Chinese or Russians took it too seriously).

      As for Germany’s military purchases – its hard to think of any country more inept when it comes to buying hardware than the Germans. They vacillated for years over purchasing marine patrol aircraft and have now essentially destroyed the European alternative to the P3 for no obvious good reason (yes, US pressure no doubt had an impact). I think we will now see most European joint defense projects start to fall apart, most of them are already in deep trouble. The French are in a bind as so many modern systems are so expensive to develop they are outside their budget, but its hard for them to find any reliable partners, even including those within the Airbus family (MAWS was supposed to be based on the A320). The UK, perhaps wisely, has looked outside Europe to Japan for aviation partners and even the Koreans are finding purchasers for their hardware in Europe.

      1. Carolinian

        The article I saw said his win all about the terrible Argentine economy and the search for an alternative rather than Israel, BRICS, libertarianism or the chainsaw that he carries around for a prop. It might be a mistake to read too much into an “all politics are local” situation.

      2. Roger

        Milei is a product of the Argentinian oligarchs, finance and foreign capital if you look at his background. His “anarcho-capitalism” is as much labelling BS as was Obama’s “hopey/changey”. A standard product of the Argentinian comprador elite thrust upon the population by wall to wall MSM coverage calling him an “outsider”. The usual elite MO.

        1. steppenwolf fetchit

          Millie never called himself a populist anarcho-socialist. Who even thinks he ever did? Whose idea is Varoufakis even correcting?

          Millie called himself an anarcho-capitalist. Which means a lawless private business pirate. Nothing “socialist” about that, and Millie never said there was. So again . . . whose false idea is Varoufakis correcting?

          1. anahuna

            You give me a chance to correct two errors: I somehow typed “anarcho-socialist” instead of “anarcho-capitalist” (mind wandering to preference), which was indeed what Varoufakis was refuting; and it’s “Milei.”

  3. The Rev Kev

    “Latvian Foreign Minister Karins Signals Interest in NATO Top Job”

    Born and raise in America. OK. Totally not suspicious that and in no way was he groomed. I was going to joke that perhaps they should make sure that his wife does not have dealings with Russians like happened with Kaja Kallas when I spotted this-

    ‘In March 2019, Saeima Deputy Aldis Gobzems asked law enforcement officials to investigate a Skolas iela 2 property transaction between Kariņš and wife Kariņa from one side and Russian citizens, who are associated with Gazprom International and Government of Moscow from another, that he alleged could be related to money laundering and tax avoidance. On 18 May 2019, state police announced that they would not be initiating criminal proceedings after finding no signs of illegal wrongdoing.’

    People there are totally not allowed to trade with and make profits from dealing with Russians. Unless you are one of the elite in which case it is then allowed.

  4. Wukchumni

    The various Netanyahugend didn’t seem too cheerful singing what I found out towards the end in a creamy dollop of demanded diaspora of the Gazans, was titled:

    The Friendship Song 2023

    It’s a world of laughter
    A world of tears
    It’s a world of hopes
    And a world of fears
    There’s so much that we’d rather not share
    That it’s time we’re aware
    It’s a small country after all

    It’s a small country after all
    It’s a small country after all
    It’s a small country after all
    It’s a small, small country

    There is just one chosen people who loom
    They need more living room
    And a bulldozer means
    Foreclosure to ev’ryone
    Though the dogma divide
    And to think we could live by the tide
    Instead of side by side
    It’s a small country after all

    It’s a small country after all
    It’s a small country after all
    It’s a small country after all
    It’s a small, small country

    1. Alice X

      >The Friendship Song 2023

      It is beyond my comprehension to have children, and young girls at that, sing such a thing.

      1. The Rev Kev

        A coupla months ago I saw a video from the Ukraine that had something similar. There were all these little kids just starting school dressed in traditional costumes and they were getting these kids to sing songs about killing Russians and the like. Authoritarian regimes always want to use kids to normalize the unthinkable.

        1. ambrit

          Training the children up into the tradition of Anti is a longer term version of propaganda for Anti. When said kidz become the young adults of the nation, Anti will be their world view. Thus is Vendetta normalized.

          1. Wukchumni

            So, you’re telling me that ‘Karst For Kidz’ is only encouraging them to go stone somebody who may or may not have smite them?

            1. ambrit

              “Flint Heart” is a meme among the Young Stoners. For the younglings, a layered approach. As the post on dreaming demonstrated, a daily knapp makes the kidz sharp.

        2. NYMutza

          Nazis and Zionists are far more alike than they are different. One has the “master race”, while the other has the “chosen people”. Genocide comes natural to both groups. Nobody should be surprised.

      2. R.S.

        Well, I still remember something like an unofficial nursery rhyme. Not endorsed, but mysteriously learned by kids.
        הרכבת טוטו
        ערבים ימותו‏
        It translates to “the train goes too-too, the Arabs will die”.

        //Disclaimer: I’m not Jewish, just used to have pretty good friends there. No idea where they are now, I lost the connections about a decade or so ago.

        1. Eclair

          I chanted “Ten Little Indians ….., as a child in the 1940’s, disposing of them by violent, or less violent means, until “There were none.” Indians, i.e., indigenous native Americans, were the bad guys in those days. Except, of course, for the unfortunate Wampanoag at the ‘first Thanksgiving.’ They, according to the narrative, after bringing the fresh turkey and cranberries, just …. disappeared. Poof.

          1. digi_owl

            There is also a variant of that involving another group of people, that was used by Agatha Christie as premise (and title) for a Poirot story. These days known as And Then There Were None.

  5. Steve H.

    > Burning Coal To Survive Climate Change

    >> a terrible paradox: It needs money to pay for the consequences of climate-related disasters and, so far, the fastest way to get it is by continuing to develop fossil fuels, which exacerbates the very disasters they are trying to evade.

    > Odum: The maximum power principle can be stated: During self-organization, system designs develop and prevail that maximize power intake, energy transformation, and those uses that reinforce production and efficiency.

    The use of coal for power intake and transformation is enough to build

    >> infrastructure, hospitals and storm shelters.

    so why

    >> With higher wages, locals will fix up their homes, buy more food, send their kids to better schools

    > Thus, the introduction of [currency]-enhancing measures can be seen as an attempt by the elite to increase P (the payoff ratio of the topmost and the lowest group member).

    In other words, cash concentrates upwards, with ‘want some candy’ offered to the Unders that they may hope for some

    >> and, perhaps one day, leave the sinking coast.

    For ‘leave’ substitute ‘migrate from’ and you get to the underlying ecology of it.

    This article does a fine job of exposing this by closing with a scenario that also fulfills the Maximum Power Principle:

    >> Drawing on indigenous practices that survived centuries of colonial rule, Shams’ tactic, called tidal river management, would allow the rivers to flood again, but this time in a more controlled fashion. The strategy directs the rivers’ nutrient-rich sediment into carefully placed catch basins where it piles up, raising and fertilizing coastal farmland. “In that way, you do not just save your river, but you save your bottom from climate change as well,” he told me.

  6. The Rev Kev

    “Iran unveils hypersonic missile as Khamenei urges Muslim states to sever Israel ties”

    Question: Israel and the Neocons may have the hots for attacking Iran as all those forces are right now in theater but how many hypersonic missiles would Iran need to make Israel to back off and reconsider this idea?

    Answer: One. If it lands near the Shimon Peres Negev Nuclear Research Center. But will the AIEA’s Rafael Grossi say that there is no way to determine where this missile came from?

    1. Wukchumni

      In my fantasy war rotisserie league, I have the Middle East.

      Here we are 78 years after the genie granted us 2 wishes and then scampered back into Pandora’s Box…

  7. Jake

    “Debunking the Myth of a Shoplifting Crisis” In Austin, Texas, any business within a short walk from any of the massive meth camps can explain that there absolutely is a shoplifting crisis. Although I’m not sure if shoplifting is the right word. They don’t even try to hide it, because they know the police are so overwhelmed, under staffed, and under attack from the city council, that officers will never respond to a call about shop lifting. They walk into stores and grab whatever they want, and just walk out right in front of everyone. It may not be a crisis nationwide, but it definitely is a crisis in the larger cities controlled by a certain political party. Some of them, like greg casar, openly state on the news that crimes related to theft should not be investigated. It’s a really great way to get voters really, really pissed off. Too bad democrats don’t seem to get it.

    1. griffen

      Fewer reported incidents maybe means…executives and store management are instructing employees at such locations to just “let it go, let it go…” No need to be a hero lest the location or the company become mired in litigation.

      Many of these anecdotes, from reports as well as news coverage by CNBC, there is much of it feels like a section that went missing from my reading of the Peripheral by Gibson. It is the Jackpot, so what was not previously (or currently distributed) upwards is being claimed by the lower percentiles ( and I can’t defend the shoplifting and theft, to be clear ). It is becoming akin to following the posted Speed limit signs…drive 55, 65, 75, or heck just do what you will. Pass on the left or pass on the right. Others Mileage May Vary, of course. It’s getting wild out there, America !

      1. Wukchumni

        Sometimes when driving i’ll see a sign that says Yard Sale and I make inquiries into how much for the dichondra, the nice manicured lawn?

        It’s all bait & switch, as you ponder the usual detritus on offer in lieu of a lawn, which would be nice to use in that somebody else has to take care of it.

        Shoplifting sounds like an Olympic weightlifting event, here is Feodyr Grasputin attempting to lift entire building, and recently he did a clean & jerk on a dacha, not to be underestimated.

        How much stuff is locked behind glass @ Wal*Mart is a good indicator of how bad your area is for shoplifting, and the emphasis I see in Visalia is mainly against homeless in odd stuff, such as the entire illumination spectrum from flashlights to headlamps recently being under locked glass in the sporting goods dept, along with baby formula also being behind glass, which I’d like to think has nothing to do with homeless.

        The real ghetto Wal*Marts will have like 1/3rd of everything for sale behind locked glass, saw one like that in Adelanto, Ca. which struck me as a really methy place.

        1. Ken Murphy

          Not a Wal-mart, but I am having to lock up more and more of my product.

          The police themselves provide a disincentive to reporting crimes, in that they insist on documenting all they can on the person trying to file the report, making them feel like they are the ones being criminally investigated. Do the police really need to know my date of birth and driving license number when I file a report of shoplifting? To what end?

          And with everything that’s falling apart in this country, do you really trust the info that is in the database when they run your info because, well, they can now and who knows, they might get an easy hit. With my own issues of identity theft and stolen SSN how the heck do I know if there isn’t a warrant out for a Ken Murphito in Mesa Culpa, TX? Is that really something you want to find out at the end of a crappy day?

          Our society’s long tolerance for illegal immigrants inviting themselves into our country and helping themselves to our stuff, coupled with generous provisions of the commonweal to those who contribute nothing to that commonweal, combined with a heroicisation of law enforcement that may not be entirely merited given that they are more often revenooers than crime fighters, an out-of-control infostate focused on the collection of as much data as possible (oh, they also want to know your sex, race and ethnicity to file a report), all are significant contributors to our society’s new-found tolerance and embrace of everyone helping themselves to everyone else’s stuff.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            The sixth amendment guarantees the right of the accused to face the accuser. This is why the police determine who witnesses are.

            1. Ken Murphy

              The victim, and therefore complainant, is the store from whom the goods were stolen. I did not witness the theft. Our security cameras did. The store is accusing them of theft; I am merely a disposable employee who may or may not even be employed there if/when the thieves are caught.
              And wait…aren’t corporations people too?

          2. nippersdad

            “Our society’s long tolerance for illegal immigrants inviting themselves into our country and helping themselves to our stuff,……”

            To which one might point out that maybe systematically destroying the economies of those countries south of the border even as we do not go after those who hire the refugees as a means to lower labor costs has had some effect? It is not so much that they have “invited” themselves into the country as we have incented them to do so.

            Just calling ’em like I see ’em.

            1. NYMutza

              Not only that, many of the “illegal immigrants” are simply returning to land that the United States stole from them in the first place. Settlers. That word again. Bad connotation as it should be everywhere.

          3. Señor Dingdong

            “Our society’s long tolerance for illegal immigrants inviting themselves into our country and helping themselves to our stuff, coupled with generous provisions of the commonweal to those who contribute nothing to that commonweal…”

            In the words of Genocide Joe: “come on, man.” Dispense with the republican talking points. I seriously doubt you have ever talked to, let alone gotten to know someone in the US illegally. Contribute nothing? Do you realize how much money is payed into the SS system by people with phony papers? Well I’ll save you the homework: 13 billion.
            Add to that the myriad jobs they work contributing to GDP, sales tax revenue just like every other consumer, and keeping the labor prices low for bourgeois business owners. You may not agree with “open borders,” fair enough. And capitalists use illegal workers against labor, and the working class, so make those points, as many commenters here do. But don’t bring up nonsense. It doesn’t fly here.

            1. Jorge Venustancio

              Do you realize how much money is sent out of our local economies back to the home village by illegals and legal immigrants?

              ” Remittances are an important aspect of the global economy, totaling an estimated $601 billion (USD) for the year 2015.”

              Learn about the multiplier effect of cash spent locally circulating and recirculating, creating employement, paying local taxes and supporting businesses. The ususal number is every dollar circulates eight times, before drifiting on to distant corporate headquarters of multinationals, and the above 601 Billion $ x 8 number means at a minimum $4 Trillions are removed from our local economies.

            2. Late Introvert

              And if we just started locking up the employers of all those “illegals”, the ones who profit from it, and drive down wages and have easily intimidated workers, poof, the problem goes away tomorrow. That would be your fellow business owners, Ken. Solidarity!

              1. Ken Murphy

                I feel no solidarity with those who compete against me by breaking the law. Not sure why you feel that I should.

            3. Ken Murphy

              Don’t know who you’re referring to with “Genocide Joe”, but I am not a Republican and do not appreciate being tarred with that brush.

              Funny you bring up the bogus SSN payments. Do you think I get any benefit from those extra remittances under my SSN? No, of course not. But the government keeps it anyway. Free money!!! And frankly, I would not trust those payments to go into the SS system, more likely in my esteem the government is treating those the same as asset forfeiture.

              And while illegal immigrants may (or may not) pay income taxes, my question is how those tax payments measure up against what we’re having to pay regarding illegal aliens.

              I’m totally okay with legal immigrants. I’ve known many and they are terrific people who contribute to their communities. Frankly, I wouldn’t mind emigrating to France, but I’m certainly not going to just invite myself in and expect them to take care of me.

          4. Bsn

            Ken, I think you got one thing wrong. It’s not those pesky illegal immigrants, it’s all of those left handed people. We have to stop the influx of left handers and make them follow the path of right handedness. I see them everywhere and those leftys are using our social services and not paying a penny in taxes. They are ruining our country. “Isn’t anyone here right handed???” /s

            1. Ken Murphy

              I try to practice a measure of ambidexterity, exercising both sides of my brain.

              While on the gripping hand…

          5. Alice X

            >Our society’s long tolerance for illegal immigrants inviting themselves into our country and helping themselves to our stuff…

            Maybe we got the idea from the indigenous population. If they had had a strict immigration policy they would have erased those first European settlements pronto. But the Euros landed in force and took all the native’s stuff.

            1. juno mas

              Actually, the Euros landed and brought disease. It’s estimated that 80-90% of the native population died from this disease. It was small pox not small bullets that made taking the natives stuff so easy.

      2. Jason Boxman

        Sounds like you’ve been driving in and around Raleigh, where if you aren’t going at least 10+ over the speed limit, you’re gonna get hit by someone that is.

        1. griffen

          Close proximity, I am located in SC roughly 75 minutes south of Charlotte. But the same lack of rules on the road are applicable !

          I am not so much holier than them at following strictly to the posted limits, I admit, but I tend to a cautious, speedy meandering to bear in mind those lurking NC official trooper sedans which can lurk in the obvious spots. Holiday weekends, they will be out and present !

        2. Alice X

          Hee hee, I recently drove from Chicago to Detroit, doing a max of 88! So was everyone else. It wasn’t my 25 yo car, that’s for sure.

      3. lyman alpha blob

        I wonder if retail is now acting like banks have for many years now, and factoring in robbery as a cost of doing business. As a frontline bank teller, you are explicitly trained to never, EVER, interrupt a robbery, just hand over whatever is asked for, and then call the police and wait until they arrive. If you do try to interfere, the bank will terminate your employment immediately.

        1. Late Introvert

          I worked (pre-pandemic) for a company that makes training courses for bank employees. Yes, there is a course on that very topic – do not resist at all. Being behind the camera, it was the first time I’ve had guns pointed at me (well, other than bb guns in my brother’s hands.)

        2. Jason Boxman

          If you do try to interfere, the bank will terminate your employment immediately.

          I suspect the robber, if armed, might terminate you first.

    2. OnceWere

      Well, what are they supposed to do about it ? Get tough on crime ? The last time there was a crime wave and the politicians got “tough on crime” the US went from an essentially normal country in terms of criminal justice to a country that imprisons more people than any other in the world. Get tough on crime from the current baseline and the US will surpass Stalin’s USSR as a “gulag archipelago”. Any other solution would require systemic change at a Federal level.

    3. Neutrino

      Debunking, another word well past its sell-by date. Another magic bullet word in the polemic arsenal, misfiring. Shoplifting causes and effects don’t get addressed adequately and people in the immediate area of the impacted stores are the most hurt. Food deserts, pharma deserts, what next is flak jacket delivery?

    4. nippersdad

      “It may not be a crisis nationwide, but it definitely is a crisis in the larger cities controlled by a certain political party.”

      It always irritates me to have to defend Democrats, but in this case it seems only fair that in such cases one point out that we are looking at the success of the conservative project. New Deal type Democrats, the very typology that Republicans railed against for decades until such time as they folded under Clinton, would not have stood for the impoverishment of half the population.

      If you want to make snide comments about how “conservatives” have created a Les Miserables economy in which the citizenry is imprisoned for stealing loaves of bread then that would be well founded, but complaining that you got everything you asked for just looks silly.

    5. Tommy S

      I’m not doubting your personal story. I know that yes it IS increasing in SF, but nowhere near the hysteria headlines. Still, Austin increased the police budget $32 million. SF increased it $50 million. Democrat mayors for years have been increasing police budgets hugely for years now. Why do you think even ‘more’ would just stop it all?

      1. Duke of Prunes

        My small “shoplifting” story. My wife buys liquid laundry detergent at the local Target. Decent middle class neighborhood. Little crime. Turns out the container is full of water, not detergent. Returns it. Clerk just rolls her eyes as in “this again?!?”

      2. JBird4049

        Policing in the United States has shifted from solving crimes to making money from fees, fines, and asset forfeitures as well as a tool for the local elites to make money either from real estate development by driving residents from their homes or to suppress protests, sometimes even news gathering.

        So, yes, there often are increases in policing, but those increased resources are not meant for crime solving or prevention, they are meant for population control and resource extraction. Even Walmart’s unhappiness, forget about CVS, Rite Aid, and Target, is not sufficient to change police policy. A mom and pop store might as well forget about it and die. Some cities do use the police to cover downtown, the business district, or the important tourist areas. The police often hire themselves out as unofficial, but really official, security guards for extra pay.

        Connected local elites such as real estate developers and landowners can use the police to ensure that redevelopment or gentrification, aka getting rid of the poor and minorities, goes as plan. Over policing and searching the neighborhood to give tickets for appearances of lawns, garbage cans, overdue, even utility bills, noise, etc. Sometimes people will be deliberately raided by SWAT, if they are connected at all to someone else who is a suspect.
        Breonna Taylor is one such example. In the very worst examples, police have just made stuff up.

        Restated, in the neighborhoods that are not slated for development, everything is ignored, and in those places that are next everything remotely doable is done. Rather then ask about increasing the funding for the police, ask instead what they are doing with the money that they already have. What are the policies, the real unofficial policies, of the police as well as the county and city governments. Some of what the police are doing is never officially stated. It is certainly not written down. It is just conversations, emails, and phone calls. It just like those illegal police ticket quotas that never official exist, but occasionally get released to the news.

        I have not done any checking at all recently on the various Bay Area police department including San Francisco, but I really should. What are the funding amounts and the actual policies shown by actions, not words. The homeless population and general ugliness has been increasing through the Bay for decades. The city of San Francisco is just the most obvious. This includes all those businesses driven out due to all those rent increases. And those empty storefronts hardly ever get filled again. Sometimes of course, but not always. Market street is just depressing. However, despite the homelessness, the increasing number of stores, and the increasing petty crime, somebody is making bank from it all.

        Hey, President Governor Gavin Newsom! Do you have a plan for all this?

        I am living in a de-devolping country here.

        1. digi_owl

          Or maybe one should say returned to? Because is that not pretty much the premise of most of the dime novel westerns? Heck, i seem to recall some movie made in the 70s that played on the theme of some out of the way town being run by a corrupt and inbred group preying on outsiders that passed through.

      1. Jason Boxman

        I recently got home and realized I had forgotten to pay, walked off before swiping my card. I actually photographed each UPC and next time I was back, had the cashier scan each item and paid for them all. I guess I could have saved the money instead, looks like not paying is popular! Just seemed wrong though.

  8. Wukchumni

    So this is a pivotal moment for the almighty buck in that Ecuador had been leading the greenback charge, with El Salvador & Panama also being players, not to mention the de facto $ users in Africa…

    Argentina ties itself to the hegemon and while you couldn’t really call it a shotgun wedding-more like a catch .22, and considering the hapless country has made one mistake after another for 40 years running, they’re good at picking losing strategies.

    What does being the issuer of other peoples’ money get you in terms of power aside from the obvious financial and economic inroads of what is primarily an exporter* country?

    * In $6.99 Malbecs we trust

  9. The Rev Kev

    ‘Ben Norton
    Argentina was invited to join BRICS, but far-right president-elect Javier Milei has pledged to withdraw.
    The extremist boasted: “Our geopolitical alignment is with the U.S. and Israel. We are not going to align with communists”‘

    Milei is going to run Argentina into a helluva mess. Maybe even a failed State and I’d be pretty sure that the other South and Central American countries will be watching closely to see what happens next. But that Milei is a real odd duck who makes Bolsanaro see like a wise statesman. I would guess that he will invite Israelis in to secure him in power and the guy came out and said this earlier this week-

    ‘“What I admire the most about Israel is its culture, its people,” Milei said to the Times of Israel in an interview published early on Sunday. He added about Israel’s ongoing war with the Palestinian group Hamas that he has “emphatically expressed” solidarity for the country’s “legitimate right to defense.”

    Furthermore, Milei, who attended a Catholic school in his youth, spoke of his enduring interest in the Jewish faith, but said that any decision to convert to Judaism would have to wait until his political ambitions have been completed.

    “It’s very difficult because I wouldn’t be able to fulfill all the precepts due to the demands I’d have as president,” Milei said. “You know, if you’re a convert, you have to comply with all of the Jewish religious precepts.”

    He added: “The thing is, I’d possibly plan to convert after my political career is finished.” ‘

    Regardless, the whole place is going to be looted clean under his watch.

    1. Martin

      > Regardless, the whole place is going to be looted clean under his watch.

      Why would this be the case? Bear in mind that recent presidents in Argentina have set the bar pretty high about looting the place.

      Not a Milei fan, but Argentina is currently running a 844% inflation rate since Fernández is president, and child poverty rate just exceeded 55%. So maybe that is why Argentinians decided not to keep going down that road.

      Will Milei improve things? That is impossible to tell. But it is surprising to me that most of the reporting today is about all the different reasons about why the guy is a nutjob (which, okay, he probably is), while completely missing the point about why people choose to elect him.

      1. JBird4049

        >>>Will Milei improve things? That is impossible to tell. But it is surprising to me that most of the reporting today is about all the different reasons about why the guy is a nutjob (which, okay, he probably is), while completely missing the point about why people choose to elect him.

        So, he is their Trump?

        1. Martin

          He is pretty close regarding aggresiveness and anti establishment. But his economic policies should differ, as Trump’s were more conservative whereas Milei’s ideas are more liberal.

        2. Mikel

          It’s the same tired reason that the same crap in the world turned out like it did after WWI.
          Worker restlessness, rising inequality, and clawing at legitimacy from elected frauds. The answer from the puppet masters has always been: Let them eat BS culture wars.

          1. digi_owl

            You can probably trace the playbook back to colonialism, where they learned to get two sub-sets of the larger group to fight each other rather than gang up on the colonists.

      2. Roger

        Macri was the hooligan who set Fernandez up for failure, removing the exchange controls that kept back elite capital flight and then “solved” the problem with the huge and corrupt IMF loan. Kirchner before that by storing up inflationary problems. Fernandez was your standard milk-toast Peronist who wouldn’t do the hard bit of defaulting on the debt a la 2002 and crushing the land-owning oligarchs once and for all.

        That’s what 15 years of Kirchner also had not done, meaning that all the gains were going to be vulnerable to elite rollback.

      3. NotTimothyGeithner

        Unlike Trump who is fairly small c conservative, Milei sounds like a proper nut job. This is a huge difference.

    2. Mikel

      I don’t want Milei to withdraw from BRICS. I’m much more interested in seeing how that organization responds to more austerity loving fanatics added to the membership. That would be more eye opening.

  10. Michael Fiorillo

    Regarding the article about corporations buying up Nebraska land: those purchases should also be considered a water play, since by far the largest portion of the Oglalla Aquifer (or what’s left of it) sits under Nebraska.

    1. TomDority

      So this speculative investment (a sure thing) is going to raise input costs for farm products – which will lead to higher prices – an unavoidable fact. Just as bailing the banks in 08′ ratcheted the cost of living as shelter costs ballooned – of course our legislatures and Fed Gov have been creating tax advantages for speculating in and goosing asset prices to the benefit of the FIRE sector and it will lead to the NEW sharecropper and land lorded feudalism reminiscent of the past – except now it’s all modern sounding – innovative, creative destruction, free market, de-regulation, give the financiers more breaks cause they got it so hard to scratch a living doing Gods work, No New Taxes (out loud but, out of public view to finish the statement) ……on the FIRE sectors but shove it on labor, they do jobs Americans won’t do (of course not saying the whole sentence) they do jobs Americans won’t do for that pay, bla bla bla. —- so now, farmers can’t afford to buy the property on which to farm as input costs exceed any margin on farm products – just as many can’t afford to live in areas that don’t provide income opportunities that cover living costs etc. But we got economists and consultants and PR folks out the waazoo who can manipulate any statistic, any story line, any lie or con to justify any ends via any means – just show up with enough cash to grease the wheels.
      So we got ‘strong men’ sprouting out of the woodwork – like Trump – the worlds biggliest coward who pays people to operate while their noses are up his ass… what a blowhard conman coward talking about what a brave boy he is and if you don’t believe it.. he will pay someone to hurt you cause he to chicken himself. Oh let me fair – Joe is sitting where he want’s to be and is just acting a part his PR people with their story line are desperately trying to sell – yet for all the unity bi-partisan rah rah rah – he ain’t doing a real thing about reigning in the disaster policy of bailing out the FIRE sector or re-partitioning the de-partitioning in the banking sector that Glass-Stegall imposed – or that stupid law that makes student debt non-dischargeable – I mean why have interest charges on a guaranteed loan? or that affordable care act that hides the cost from the consumer and allows gouging by the insurance companies and savvy private equity and middleman carve outs (frauds) Or why not reinstate the law that limited profits for breakthroughs and treatments that were developed with public research funds. –
      Wow – sorry – I just went off on a tangent — Just both parties are bought/bribed by the FIRE sector.

      We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace–business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering.
      They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob.
      Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me–and I welcome their hatred.”
      Election eve speech at Madison Square Garden (October 31, 1936)
      Franklin Delano Roosevelt

  11. PlutoniumKun

    Burning Coal To Survive Climate Change NOEMA

    One aspect the article doesn’t touch upon is that even Bangladesh’s very limited coal mining is itself causing severe stress to the local environment – its mines require extensive dewatering which is creating local environmental havoc.

    In reality, Bangladesh will become entirely dependent on Indian coal imports, which is no doubt one of the main reasons why India is so enthusiastic to help out. India seems to be increasingly leaning on coal as its huge nuclear industry is becoming a bust.

    Bangladesh does in fact have a clean, highly reliable alterative to coal – run of the river hydroelectricity from nearby Bhutan. That country has at least 20GW of capacity potential without requiring major dam building (essentially, weirs capture upstream water into tunnels to bypass the rivers, driving turbines several thousand metres and several dozen km downhill). Hydropower is the ideal load balancing factor for solar, the only other cheap alternative available to Bangladesh. Its unclear why this is not being pursued, but I suspect its due to lack of Indian co-operation.

  12. Henry Moon Pie

    Relevant to all the Links describing the decline in public health, Kurt Cobb at has a post summarizing the latest on declining sperm counts around the world. Here’s something to think about:

    If current trends continue, sperm counts will reach zero by 2045. (That’s NOT a typo.) Are those trends continuing? The answer is no, they are getting even worse! That means sperm counts worldwide may reach the zero mark even earlier.

    So science fiction dystopia becomes a reality. But no need to worry. I’m sure Bill Gates is putting together a deal with Harvard to produce robot sperm as part of his “I’m smarter than evolution” plan for the planet.

    1. The Rev Kev

      By 2024 then, men with motile sperm will be much in demand and be the subject of bidding wars by billionaires. Still, for men like Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos it will be humiliating to admit that they are only capable of only shooting blanks and that they may be dependent on some pleb to get the job done.

      1. Wukchumni

        The claim is that a healthy young male has 100 to 200 million sperm attempting to get it on, and how do we know that there isn’t a war going on between factions, unbeknownst to us within the naked city?

          1. Jabura Basaidai

            wow – that’s from left field – national politics leaves me cold & disgusted – when he first announced as a dem candidate before researching his views it felt good – i only knew about his environmental water advocacy – but after digging a bit, reading things here at NC and listening to a couple of his interviews – he wasn’t someone i’d vote for – RFK Jr’s support of Israel is disgusting – here’s a recent NewsNation article that’s bizarre – it ain’t rose colored glasses he’s looking through, he’s just f-ing blind –
            headline – RFK Jr. tells voters: ‘Absurd’ to call Israel apartheid state
            some quotes:
            Kennedy said of the war. “Israel is doing more right now to protect human life and has done more over the past 16 years to avoid this outcome than we would expect of any nation in the world.”
            “The idea that Israel is an apartheid state because it’s a Jewish state? Israel is the only nation in the region that does not have an official religion,” Kennedy said.

            what planet is he on?

    2. tegnost

      Why not say that before marriage the female must spend one night with a 100 billionaire that way the species will have more merit than it would otherwise have. Genetic engineering…I’m sure bill can get behind this idea…

    3. undercurrent

      So, how’s it going to play out when the next Obama has to bail out the sperm banks? Too big to fail?

    4. Randall Flagg

      HMP, your comment paints a picture that sounds a little bit like the movie “ Children of Men “

        1. Dalepues

          Great book too. “The Children of Men”

          First chapter:
          “We are outraged and demoralized less by the impending end of our species, less even by our inability to prevent it, than by our failure to discover the cause. Western science and western medicine haven’t prepared us for the magnitude and humiliation of this ultimate failure.”

      1. Foy

        Yep Flora. Dr Erica Mallery-Blythe gave a presentation almost a decade ago now on how EMF affects physiology and all elements of the reproduction cycle. Here’s a link, time stamped to the section on effects on reproduction. It has a video of sperm not exposed to cell phone radiation and another with sperm exposed to cell phone radiation for 12 hours. The latter aren’t moving much.

        from a study in the presentation she mentions “Professor Agarwal: men who keep cell phones in pocket for > 4hours / day have around 50% of the sperm count of those who do not use cell phones.”

        Now lets go all in on 5G…

  13. The Rev Kev

    “Russia is transitioning to gas heating in the countryside – Europe is moving to log fireplaces in the city”

    It’s like reading about a slow-motion train wreck. Back in the 80s while going through rural areas of Switzerland it was common to see stacks of logs piled up next to the walls of the house in preparation for winter. Looks like this will become normal throughout the EU. Once enough people are burning wood in an attempt to stay warm this winter, I fully expect to see the Greens try and outlaw the burning of wood due to the smog created and the smell of burning wood in the air. I wonder how it is that these green elites are so detached from reality that they cannot see the damage that they are doing and the misery that they are creating – and for what exactly? So that they can feel virtuous? In Germany alone these policies will create all sorts of fissures that will undermine the country as a whole and will last decades into the future.

    1. S.D., M.D.

      Wood burning has been common, at least as a supplement, here in the Vampire State(everywhere outside metro NYC) since the economy started going south in 1971. Winters are cold and forests are thick, but just as you imagine, the wild eyed zealots foaming green at the mouth are incredibly diligent, resourceful, cunning, and persistent(in an otherwise almost completely dysfuctional government) when it comes to making wood heating impractical.

    2. Polar Socialist

      Sorry, but for this here old gentleman the smell of wood smoke is one the best in the world – especially in the winter. Oh, do I remember heartily the days I walked to the school as a young moppet trough the snow in the pale light of the early morning smelling that wonderful, loitering aroma of stoves and fireplaces on the alleys I passed trough.

      Now, on my older days, I carry trough the work week mostly with the comforting promise of spending the weekend on the cottage, playing with the dog outside while the smokestack puffs it’s alluring calls to come inside to the warmth, to sip a fine single malt in front of the cracking fireplace. Wood smoke is part of every truly happy moment in life.

      1. The Rev Kev

        And there is always something hypnotic about watching a wood fire burn. i suppose different types of wood burning gives off different scents.

    3. digi_owl

      Already attempts at outlawing wood stoves up here in Norway in recent years, because our cities are almost all situated in valleys. Thus when it gets particularly cold, the air becomes stagnant and thus wood and diesel exhaust lingers.

      That said, newer suburbs are connected to out of the way incinerators or similar that as a byproduct deliver hot water and thus heating via pipes.

      But retrofitting this to old city districts will be a massive expense, so instead the factories turned apartments have to rely on electric heating. Something that has become far more expensive in recent years as the Norwegian grid has gotten a new cable to Germany.

  14. JBird4049

    >>>We must not shy away from it. Severe epidemics in the south of the Strip will hasten victory.” #Gaza #Israel

    Just wtf is the United States having anything at all with this? Yes, I am aware of the moronic, greedy génocidaires running my country, but this just flat out evil. And we, as a country, are best friends with people doing this.

    Of this, I will say that I will never, ever support, donate money to, or vote for the Democratic Party ever again.

    End of rant.

    1. nippersdad

      Thank you for doing that so that I did not have to.

      And where did he get the idea that Gaza was a “state”? Israel has entire departments devoted to deciding what they may or may not have. It is a concentration camp, and the only resources they have are those that Israel lets in.

      That op-ed was a fail at even the most superficial level.

      1. ambrit

        Considering that smallpox was considered as eradicated in 1980, today’s world population is ‘virgin’ as concerns the pathogen. So, smallpox infested blankets should kick start a world pandemic of Biblical proportions.
        “Not with a bang, but with a whimper.”

        1. JBird4049

          If one wants poor sleep, reading medical history will help with that.

          If it is Variola major, the nastier of the two variants, in a untouched population, it’s an average fatality rate of 30%. Then there are the scars and often blindness in one or both eyes. Variola minor is “only” 1%, plus the other affects.

    2. harrybothered

      I’m still getting e-mails from Democratic candidates – 6 years post-Bernie and I still haven’t figured out how to get myself off NGP-VAN permanently. I unsubscribe and if they ask me for a reason I tell them I will never support or vote for a Democrat ever again. Not all of them ask, unfortunately.

      1. ambrit

        Believe me when I say that these automated money extraction algorithms never give up. It’s not in their programming.

    3. Kouros

      I think your pres might be looking for some smallpox infected blankets from the old stock, to send as humanitarian aid to those poor souls in Gaza…

  15. Wukchumni

    Dismantling the Walls in Our Heads Sapiens
    40 years ago a buddy and I decided to drive a West German rental car to West Berlin, on the DDR ‘autobahn’, starting from somewhere in Bavaria, and the autobahns in the west were amazing in that yes you could go 150 mph on them, that good.

    The East German variant was a sometimes lumpy often 2 lanes-1 going each way, on occasion the luxury of 4 lanes but it would hardly last.

    All of the area beside the autobahn had been cleared for a few hundred feet on each side and you could see manned machine gun nests occasionally, yikes! not the place you’d want to run out of gas, which we almost did, pulling into a gas station on fumes.

    That’s all I saw of the DDR, but the contrast was striking.

    1. The Rev Kev

      It certainty was. I went to East Berlin for a coupla hours and you could see differences everywhere. From the aluminium money to the Star Wars type helmets that their soldiers wore. They took security very serious in that place but after all these decades I think that I missed a lot of opportunities to really see what the place was all about through ignorance. And in less than a decade after I was there the whole country went away. Funny thing is that yes, the Stassi were creepy and all that but years after that country ceased to exist, more than a few former East Germans said that what they missed most about it was the sense of community about the place. I guess that they had not learned to be proper modern citizens and fill any holes in their lives with a series of products.

      1. Wukchumni

        Germans in the west were fabulous coin collectors, except before the fall of the wall in 1989, nobody really gave 2 shits about DDR coins, and then all of the sudden there was one heck of a bubble in DDR commemorative coins dating from 1966 to 1989-mostly made of silver and minted for export, values went up 5x within a year or 2 after reunification, and looking at collector prices presently, nobody cares all that much once again now, ha.

      2. NYMutza

        Forget about East Germany. These days North Korea is the place to be. Lots of untrammeled open space, wildlife sanctuaries unbeknownst in the south, dark skies, and so much more that has been long gone in the south and elsewhere. One day, the Kim family will be appreciated for what they preserved (assuming the US doesn’t instigate nuclear war to destroy everything).

        1. caucus99percenter

          All societies converting to the standard of living of North Korea — isn’t that what a genuine worldwide response to global warming and species extinction would take? All these half-a**ed measures like tradeable carbon credits aren’t going to cut it.

    2. Lexx

      We were doing about 80 in our cheap rental car and getting left in the dust by passing Mercedes… oooh, the look of contempt on their faces, I’ll never forget. Alarming then, funny as hell now. Lesson learned…. never rent a cheap car and take it out on the autobahn doing less than a hundred.

      1. cnchal

        80 what? KM or miles. per hour If it was KM I would give you a dirty look too while waiting to pass you in a Bug.

  16. PlutoniumKun

    The Big Reveal goes awry Frozen Garlic. On the breakdown of the Taiwan joint presidential ticket.

    Very predictable. Taiwanese electoral politics is nothing if not ‘dynamic’.

    For background, this was supposed to be the culmination of a joint ticket between the KMT and the non-aligned (but vaguely pro-China) TPP in order to defeat the current government – polls indicated that it would probably win. But they made a mess of the ballot to chose who would represent the joint ticket, and now it seems that Ko of the TPP will go it alone. The TPP is vaguely centre left (at least in comparison to the very conservative KMT), but mostly represents an anti KMT movement from within ethnic Chinese (i.e. those descending from the post WWII incomers/invaders). Much of it comes down to personalities, not policies.

    Many of the distinctions come down to what to outsiders can be barely discernable differences between newcomers (mandarin speaking Chinese who have since 1945 held tightly onto multiple levers of power) and the majority Hokkien/Hakka/Indigenous peoples. The latter tend to swing more to the centre-left more pro-western and pro-Japanese DPP. But since pretty much everyone speaks Mandarin and Hokkien fluently its not a clear ethnic/linguistic distinction.

    In the meanwhile, the DPP has got its act together and put together a very strong ticket that unites the more centrist and left wing/progressive wings of its party. So its all to play for, although I doubt that the eventual choice of president will make as much difference as if often assumed. The swing of both the KMT and DPP to pro-China and pro-West camp are relatively recent and has as much to do with the panicky response to the crackdown on HK as anything else, so it wouldn’t be surprising if there are more seemingly random swings in alliances. As always, the swings of domestic politics matter a lot more than geopolitics, even in Taiwan.

  17. Daniil Adamov

    “What is ‘voluntary-compulsory’?”

    This bit almost certainly outs Simplicius as non-Russian (perhaps I missed him saying so before). I think anyone in the former Soviet Union must be familiar with this highly popular concept. It is not a difficult one either: “voluntary-compulsory” (добровольно-принудительно) simply means it’s officially voluntary, but actually mandatory. Those who fail to volunteer can expect to be punished for it, though officially the punishment is for something else or is not punishment at all. A popular practice in Soviet organisations, and of course still alive and well in all kinds of post-Soviet ones, including private companies. In my university such situations were sometimes referred to as “volens-nolens”.

      1. flora

        You are part of my organization. I then compel you to do something, but you get to decide how you do it. (Is that anything like the 5-year plans for tractor production?) / ;)

      2. R.S.

        The idiom seems to be Soviet, but the concept is definitely not. You can always refuse the honour of being volunteered, but every boss has a naughty list and all that.

    1. Feral Finster

      Any human male who ever has had a wife will recognize the concept.

      And it’s obvious that Simplicus isn’t a native Russian speaker.

      1. Polar Socialist

        Or everyone who’s ever been to army knows how quickly a man can learn to make himself sparse right before the words “I need a few volunteers” are uttered.

          1. Robert Gray

            Oh, I don’t know about that. :-)

            I visited a friend once and was struck by the size of his home; something like 3500 sq. ft., if I remember correctly. I said, ‘John, you’re retired. Your kids are gone. It’s just you and Betty — why do you need such a big house?!?’ He grinned and said, ‘So she can’t find me.’

    2. flora

      Corbett has a pretty good explainer of the voluntary-compulsory idea. He uses examples from the UN and the COP – the Conference of the Parties – agreements.

      “In fact, you’ll note that this strange obligatory/voluntary tension pervades’s COP write-up and any number of similar COP explainers.

      The parties agree to specific goals for limiting human emissions of greenhouse gases (including carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and halogen-containing gases like CFCs) to a specific amount by a given year in the future. Countries participating in the treaty develop their own voluntary pledges—known as Nationally Determined Contributions—to meet the agreed-on targets. Countries are free to develop a mixture of policies that is most economical or advantageous for them. They must report on their successes or failures to meet their voluntary targets at the annual COP meetings.

      “Hmmm. They “agree to specific goals” but “develop their own voluntary pledges” to meet those targets and they “must” report on their progress toward those “voluntary” targets.”

    1. The Rev Kev

      Not long ago EU diplomats were complaining that because of the blowback from the war in the Ukraine, that few countries in the Global Majority were listening to them or paying attention to their demands. The EU was being sidelined. Can you imagine how it will be for the US and other Collective West country’s diplomats going forward? Who will listen to a lecture from them, especially on human rights? Who will just roll over to their demands?

  18. pjay

    – ‘Study Finds a Potential Downside to Vigorous Exercise We Didn’t Know About’ – Science Alert

    LOL! Thanks for this article. I’m going to place it in my “Lifestyle Confirmation Bias” file, alongside those articles on the health benefits of coffee and wine consumption. It’s always good to know that my choices are confirmed by Science. I must have an instinct for these things.

    1. thump

      The “downside to vigorous exercise” article made me wonder about the connection to extremely fit people being over-represented among those who get long covid. Or at least that’s as I recall. I could not find an article saying that in a quick web search.

      1. NYMutza

        A number of months ago Jim Rome had a sports physiologist on his show who discussed exercising and its impact on the body. It turns out that intense exercising/training ages the body. As in people who train for marathons and triathlons often look older than their chronological age. Homo sapien didn’t evolve to be constantly on the move running and jumping, etc…It’s unnatural and so “health freaks” are often not very healthy. Slow and steady wins the longevity race.

  19. TimH

    Israeli General Giora Eiland’s weekly call for genocide: “The international community warns of a humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza and of severe epidemics. We must not shy away from it, as hard as it is. After all, severe epidemics in the south of the Strip will hasten victory”

    1. Bsn

      Thank You Jason. Can you find the original study and pass it to us? I’d like to read it and am wondering if the mentions how the vaccines could be the culprit?

      1. Jason Boxman

        I don’t know why that thread didn’t work, and the author didn’t link to the study in it anyway, but it’s this:

        Dysregulations in hemostasis, metabolism, immune response, and angiogenesis in post-acute COVID-19 syndrome with and without postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome: a multi-omic profiling study

        Post-acute COVID-19 (PACS) are associated with cardiovascular dysfunction, especially postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS). Patients with PACS, both in the absence or presence of POTS, exhibit a wide range of persisting symptoms long after the acute infection.

        Patients with PACS demonstrate distinctly altered plasma protein, cytokine and lipid profiles compared with healthy controls. In particular, alterations in hemostasis, T-cell proliferation, apoptosis and amino acid metabolism may be potentially involved in symptom development and maintenance in PACS. Interestingly, plasma profile of PACS patients with and without POTS do not substantially differ, implying that PACS is associated with alterations in plasma profile regardless of POTS presence.

        None of this sounds good.

  20. KD

    On China “decoupling” and diminished Chinese holdings in T-Bills.

    There has been some alarmist news about China “dumping” T-Bills and interest rates will head to the sky, as a result of a reported reduction in Chinese holdings in T-Bills. One has to think that “decoupling” of trade between the US and China means that China is receiving less dollars in export transactions, and running less of a dollar trade surplus, and has less need to park surplus dollars in T-Bill purchases.

    1. WobblyTelomeres

      They need dollars to complete the Nebraska Purchase. What the heck else is there to buy? Cincinnati?

  21. Mikel

    “In the battle to bring ousted founder Sam Altman back to OpenAI, Microsoft and Satya Nadella hold the trump cards” Fortune

    Well, the latest dispatch: Microsot has hired Altman and some crew.

    The new “good ol’ boys” newtwork. That’s what all the hyperventilating over this story makes me think.
    And their fantasies are the desperate grasps at claims on the future that the USA like to propagate about.
    But their claims on people’s retirement accounts (lots of eggs piled into the same basket so to speak) also has everybody’s panties in a bunch.

  22. lyman alpha blob

    Thanks for the essay on Cormac McCarthy. The books he published right before his death were really tremendous, and actually a little less bleak then this earlier works. It’s McCarthy, so less bleak is still far from rainbows and unicorns, but the books did make me laugh on several occasions.

    The author mentioned how he turned to McCarthy to make him feel better after a personal loss –

    “Only McCarthy’s aestheticized world of horror and violence could turn me away from my pain.”

    I have also found that getting in touch with darker works of art can be a real pick me up. My personal favorite to listen to when I’m having a bad day has for a long time been Bob Mould’s album Black Sheets of Rain. After listening to that hour of rage, depression and lament, your own problems seem not nearly as bad by comparison.

  23. Tom Stone

    A few remarks on the US Military; It has been widely reported that the US Military now has more officers of Flag rank ( Generals and Admirals) than it did at the peak of WW2 when the US had 6,000,000 men and women under arms.
    80% of those officers go to work for a defense contractor within 2 years of retiring from the Military, a nice addition to a very nice retirement package that includes lifetime medical care plus things like PX privileges.
    How do they get there?
    They work hard and follow the advice given by the thousands of career counselors in the Military, which is to collect the right merit badges and avoid too much time with the troops.
    Milley is a fine example, look at a pic and you see enough fruit salad on his chest to feed a rabbit for a week, with a lone CIB (Combat Infantryman’s Badge) showing that he was once part of a unit that engaged in combat with an armed enemy of FREEDOM!
    If you look at their careers it becomes clear that there are some skills that are absolute requirements and not easy to master.
    You MUST be able to whistle “Dixie” out of one side of your mouth and the “Star Spangled Banner” out of the other side while simultaneously sucking a golf ball through a garden hose.
    Enlisted ranks are there to be used, and used up.
    Remember the “Cares” act?
    Enlisted ranks were a big beneficiary as many enlisted, including NCO’s don’t make enough money to support even a small family and many are housed in facilities that are physically unsa
    Black mold, poisonous water, rodent and insect infestations, conditions that would have seen base housing officers courtmartialed and cashiered when I was in my 20’s.
    Sailors aren’t stupid either, the thousands of Men and women on board the Ford and Eisenhower know damned well that their ships wouldn’t last an hour in a conflict with any serious enemy, hypersonic missiles CAN NOT be defended.
    The bottom line?
    The Generals will do whatever they think will benefit their careers without hesitation and the troops…it wouldn’t be the first mutiny in American history, but it might be the last.

    1. Bsn

      Sounds like the situation in public schools. I recently retired but could have done another 5-8 years, but oh my gosh, the admin. Children = troops, admin = officers.

    2. NYMutza

      Bureaucracies are all the same, and the military is no exception. In order to get ahead in a bureaucracy one most know the rules and become skilled at playing the game. Leading men in battle is not a core skill for the military. Flag rank officers are required to be confirmed by the Senate. That alone makes the game very political.

  24. Sub-Boreal

    Nostalgic crapification vignette – (probably) a continuing series:

    I’m still on various email lists from my former academic employer, and sometimes I can’t help my morbid curiosity, so I dip into things, perhaps just for that nostalgic rush of blood pressure.

    In today’s Inbox, there’s a lengthy item from the Director of Financial Services, thanking everyone for responding to a survey on user experience with yet another new system for processing statements and receipts for purchasing cards (i.e. the company credit card).

    What follows is a list of a dozen glitches identified by users, any one of which would send most normal humans around the bend with frustration.

    While I give her part marks for having asked, it’s obvious that this system was unleashed on employees before it was ready for prime time, and they were forced to be the guinea pigs.

    In my case, I stopped using my card a few years before I retired because I never used it enough to avoid having to re-learn the system every time that I had to submit a statement.

    It’s a classic example of “shadow work” – the time and labour theft that creeps into our lives in little boiling frog increments.

    1. Paleobotanist

      This wasn’t SAP software, was it? It is currently wrecking my university. It was supposed to make our lives much easier, instead it has turned all faculty into unpaid clerks for financial services and ensured that we are too busy fighting UNITY to do our own jobs. It also has made it impossible for grad students to be re-imbursed, so it loots the poors as a further bonus!

      I’d retire, but I have a sick disabled spouse and I don’t trust my pension. For me, it’s work until I drop!

      1. lyman alpha blob

        Join the club. I’m increasing required to use SAP systems in order for my company to get paid. We don’t use SAP however, it’s our customers who do, and we are now required to use customer systems in order to be paid rather than just submitting invoices to the customer and having them deal with it. This is the wondrous “automation” we hear so much about, and it’s just companies sloughing off their own AP department’s work onto their vendors, greatly complicating the issue and slowing down payments. That may be the actual selling point of the system – you can reduce your own AP labor and pay slower to boot.

        If I had a nickel for every time I heard from a customer that they didn’t know how to use their own SAP system and therefore couldn’t help me, well I might not be a billionaire but I could probably at least buy a used payment system that actually works.

  25. Roger Blakely

    Jezebel, a Peeing Device, and Me Slate

    This is an interesting piece. The author, Moe Tkacik, a thirty-seven-year-old Millennial woman, brings up many interesting issues as she thinks back on her two years at Jezebel (2007-2008) as a fresh college graduate.

    She writes about many things, but I want to comment on the urination device mentioned in the title. She was writing about a device that would assist female Amazon van drivers in urinating in a bottle just as do male Amazon van drivers. “It did not of course in those days occur to any of us that such a device might prove to be an instrument of “gender parity in the workplace” (to say nothing of, lol, the very pyrrhic victory such parity would constitute in an era of unceasing aggregate decline).”

    I am not so snarky about the issue. Urination is a huge issue for delivery van drivers. Being able to pull over and urinate in a bottle is a life-saving convenience, especially on hot days. Such as device actually does promote gender parity in the workplace.

  26. Pat

    Just thinking about the heating conundrum article. For those that don’t know NY, state and city, are all about technological solutions to climate change issues. Which they do by mandate. Sometimes they either provide some tax credits or “subsidy”. One of the big ones is the requirement for apartment buildings to switch from oil or gas based heating in NYC. All in a matter of years. This is hitting the New York City Housing Authority. So they actually sought a heat pump solution.

    They sought “portable” heat pumps and are testing some.
    The article points out some issues and distrust from the tenants. But let’s just say this is a group that is used to being the Guinea Pigs, and the government pulling out if things get too expensive.

    But on a regional level, even if these units are efficient they are still going to tax our grid. Adding X number of electric heat pumps to replace boilers that probably use less electricity than one or two for a building with 40s, 50s or even 100s of apartments. This would be summer level electrical draws year round. And that isn’t even addressing the increased costs for the users. And what happens if individuals are suddenly addressing replacing or expensively repairing multiple $4000+ units because they aren’t sturdy or get clogged by NY air (and yes that happens to air conditioners in locations in the city).

    I worry that this is yet another situation where the bright ideas of those solving a problem haven’t thought through what can happen or are so divorced from average real life difficulties that they dismiss problems they see as nothing.

  27. Willow

    UK likely congratulating themselves with Milei’s Argentina win but eventual outcome will be another military junta which will seek, and likely succeed the second time, return of the Malvinas.

  28. playon

    Wallace Wells interviews the authors of a new book entitled “The Big Fail: What the Pandemic Revealed About Who America Protects and Who It Leaves Behind.”

    This interview is golden — a journalist who actually presses these two authors to defend their claims that it couldn’t have happened any other way. Also interesting that neither the authors or the interviewer ever mention the-drug-that-cannot-be-named, nor is their much discussion of mitigation of aerosols… it’s all about the vaccines. Link to the actual interview:

  29. Willow

    To stir the pigeons. Milei win in Argentina suggests a Carlson President in US is possible if Trump decides to back out and anoint a successor (Carlson/Trump Jr ticket).

  30. s.n

    from Friday, and thus dated, but this devastating takedown by Zoran Kusovac deserves wide circulation:

    Analysis: What’s Israel’s next target after Gaza’s al-Shifa Hospital?

    […] Earlier this week reporters from a US TV station embedded with the invading forces were taken to al-Rantisi Children’s Hospital by none other than its chief spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari. The news team was shown a few Kalashnikovs and a motorcycle, of all things. Hagari bent over backwards trying to convince the media and the world that those were proof of his side’s allegations.

    His claims were mirrored at al-Shifa by his subordinate, Lt Col Jonathan Conricus, who presented as “evidence of terrorist activities” half a dozen AK assault rifles with magazines removed, a laptop and, in a Monty Pythonesque moment, two cans of WD40 anti-rust spray. […]

    Anyone who spent time in the Middle East or in any war knows that the venerable Kalashnikovs are present virtually everywhere. It is normal, and legal, for hospitals to have armed guards to protect them from criminals, looters and anyone wanting to misuse them.

    But apart from the ignorance of these claims and the huge discrepancy between demonstrating a few guns and claiming a main command centre from where Hamas conducted its operations, the location where those guns were allegedly found is curious: the gloating Conricus was adamant that they were hidden in the MRI room.

    Anyone who has been examined by an MRI machine knows that they have had to remove every metallic object.

    I asked a radiology specialist whether it would be possible to hide guns in that room. The response: “The moment the machine was turned on, it would pull the guns and attach them to itself.” The MRI machine cannot function with rifles on it. Asking someone to believe that any hospital in Gaza would relinquish one of its main diagnostic machines to hide a grab bag with a few guns is simply absurd. […]

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