Links 1/13/2024

Mystery of why “the greatest primate to ever inhabit the Earth” went extinct is finally solved, scientists say CBS (Kevin W)

The Hidden World of Undersea Cables Brian Klaas (Chuck L)

NASA Unveils Revolutionary X-59 ‘Quiet’ Supersonic Aircraft Space

E-Nose Sniffs Out Coffee Varieties Nearly Perfectly Like Shazam but for java, the tech can help quantify coffee signatures Spectrum IEEE

What a trip to the farmers’ market says about our biological differences Globe and Mail (Dr. Kevin). I DESPISE articles like this. Friggin’ aggressive gender role enforcement.

Breakthrough Alzheimer’s Discovery Reveals Five Distinct Variants ScienceAlert (Chuck L)

Maybe, just maybe, psychedelics are the “master key” for unlocking everything from blindness to stroke to anorexia Vox

Your pacemaker should be running open source software The Register (Chuck L)

Amazing Glove Is Life Changing For Those With Parkinson’s ScienceAlert (Chuck L)

Precarious manhood beliefs linked to erectile dysfunction, study finds PsyPost. Chuck L: “Who knew there was an International Index of Erectile Function?”


Ongoing COVID-19 surge heralds another winter of death WSWS (guurst)

Why long COVID can cause exhaustion, or post-exertional malaise, after exercise NPR (David L)

El colapso de las funerarias por las muertes por gripe y covid: “Los familiares esperan cuatro días para enterrar a una persona” 5TeleCinco. Machine translation: The collapse of funeral homes due to deaths from flu and covid: “Family members wait four days to bury a person” (GM)


Arctic blast: Record-breaking cold weather forecast for many states BBC (Kevin W)

What Is Bitcoin’s True Environmental Impact? Spectrum IEEE (David L)


William Lai set to be Taiwan’s next president after opposition concedes BBC

US-China chip war may extend to legacy chips Asia Times (Kevin W)


India gets a rude awakening in West Asia Indian Punchline (Kevin W)


‘The World I Knew Before Is Gone’: Ecuador Reels After Days of Unrest New York Times

European Disunion

With Finkan AB, this can make you really rich aftonbladet Micael T:

Finkan = slang for prison. “Sweden will become one of the countries in Europe with the highest percentage of prisoners. Together with Turkey, we will have the most people locked up in detention centers and prisons per capita.” JFC!

Tusk warns of ‘other ways’ to pursue Polish central bank chief Financial Times


‘Operation Al-Aqsa Flood’ Day 98: Israel claims ‘self defense’ at ICJ, as U.S. and U.K. launch air strikes on Yemen Mondoweiss

Connections Podcast Episode 85 – South Africa Charges Israel with Genocide at the ICJ with Norman Finkelstein, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 Jadaliyya (furnace). Part 4 is to come. This series consists of a discussion before the South Africa oral argument, based on its filing, then an analysis of the South African oral argument and the Israel oral argument after each happened.

As predicted, the Grayzone team is saddling up:

UN human rights official warns Security Council of ‘very real’ risk of atrocities in Gaza Arab News

“Israel as abomination.” Cara MariAnna, The Floutist (Chuck L)

* * *

US Launches Strikes on Yemen, and Other Updates Simplicius the Thinker

US strikes on Yemen won’t solve anything Responsible Statecraft

Huge rally in Yemen capital after US and UK strike Houthi targets BBC

Erdogan accuses US, Britain of trying to turn Red Sea into ‘sea of blood’ TASS

* * *

Israel barred from ice hockey championships RT (Kevin W)

Biden Secretly Giving Targeting Support to Israel Amid Genocide Case Ken Klipperstein (Chuck L)

Among Democrats, support for Israel has cratered Kevin Drum (Kevin W)

New Not-So-Cold War

Brussels prepares concessions to Viktor Orbán over Ukraine aid Financial Times

EU parliament launches ‘historic’ push to sanction Hungary RT (Kevin W)

Russia’s Medvedev says deployment of British troops in Ukraine will mean ‘declaration of war’ Anadolu Agency

Interview with Colonel Vladimir Trukhan Black Mountain Analysis (Li)


Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Attack of the week: Airdrop tracing CryptographyEngineering (Paul R)

Are Fingerprints Unique? Not Really, AI-Based Study Finds CNN

Imperial Collapse Watch

Russia and China are Melding Dmitry Orlov, Dialogue Works (Li)

Old Wars vs New Wars: Is there any difference? Kesida (BC)

US judge gives go-ahead to execution by new method RT (Kevin W)


Federal judge dumps pyramid scheme lawsuit against Trump Courthouse News Service (furzy)

Budget Brinksmanship

Democrats reject Johnson’s border demands as part of Ukraine aid package The Hill

Our No Longer Free Press

Poison Spiders at the Center of the Web James Howard Kunstler (Kevin W)

US Tech Innovation Dreams Soured By Changed R&D Tax Laws The Register

Boeing Planes Falling Apart

How Boeing Bought Washington Lever News (Chuck L)

US Regulator Considers Stripping Boeing’s Right To Self-Inspect Planes Financial Times. Jason P also flags a non-paywalled writeup on Slashdot.

Why Trump’s Pentagon chief is embroiled in Boeing’s safety fiasco Politico

Guillotine Watch

The Billionaires Spending a Fortune To Lure Scientists Away From Universities New York Times

Antidote du jour. Tracie H: “Rhodesian Ridgeback enjoying a stroll at a Farmers Market.”

And a bonus (Chuck L):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here

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  1. Antifa


    With Congress disconnected from the workers in the ranks,
    The One Percent collect our rent, and they own all the banks;
    Those banks own the Fed, which owns a printing press for cash,
    Which they employ constantly or everything will crash.

    The Party of the Left is Right; the Right is Righter still;
    Lobbyists for billionaires write every Congress bill.
    Big Money’s dark so any shark can thrive around here,
    And stack up multi-millions on $200K per year.

    Don’t stress about our Thirty-Trillion government debt;
    It towers like Godzilla, but she hasn’t bit us yet!
    Don’t fret about derivatives, I hear they balance out;
    Such bets are made by honest men who know what they’re about.

    Entire generations are repaying college debt,
    Slaves to compound interest and perpetual regret.
    Home again, with aging kin, they never will retire,
    Their time on Earth only worth the hours sold to some buyer.

    There’s junkies dying in the streets, and everywhere you roam
    There’s people begging to get by, with no place to call home.
    People live inside their cars with useless health insurance,
    Drowning in the labor pool’s riptides and currents.

    DC politicians plan on war forevermore.
    This week they seek some $60 Billion for their proxy war,
    But not a cent for we who live here in the USA;
    To hell with us, they sneer and cuss, or tell us we should pray.

    Endless wars on distant shores make life back here quite cruel.
    “Every bomber built means one less hospital or school.”
    A nation that enslaves its current rising generation
    Condemns itself to poverty and grinding desperation.

    Nothing’s going to change out here while Washington is blind
    To all the voting citizens that they have left behind.
    Two hundred million of us have to struggle week by week;
    It’s time to bargain really hard for votes these bastards seek.

  2. griffen

    Petting a friendly cheetah? Okay I’ll buy it in the short term, pet him nicely but in the long term then beg for one’s life if that predator is suddenly struck with the urge to bite and or eat your face.

    Funny scene from the funny movie Talladega Nights, once Ricky has lost the will to drive. His dad puts a cougar inside an older muscle car…you either face the fear, son, or that animal will do what nature intended. Chiefly, to eat you with a smile on it’s face.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Didn’t even have to be a friendly cheetah. There are plenty of videos on YouTube of animals, which are considered to be predators, coming up to humans for a pat or even asking humans for help or even food. And you have humans which have made friends with predator class animals. Sometimes they just come up to chill like this bear did with this guy- (1:25 mins)

      Come to think of it, just the other day I came across an amateur scifi story along these lines-

      1. griffen

        Okay maybe I should get out more and visit a nature preserve. I just know that in a foot race for preserving life, the cheetah wins over most humans not named Usain Bolt…and to add I’m just being perhaps too cynical.

        Then again, there is the fable about the scorpion and the frog to consider…

        1. Morincotto

          There are well documented cases of people with an extraordinary, uncanny knack for building close, trusting relationships with all sorts of animals, including those with a not entirely undeserved reputation for being extremely dangerous that often seem nothing less than miraculous.

          Interestingly enough many very different religious traditions all came to see the ability to communicate with and befriend wild animals as a sign of sainthood and an especially close connection to the divine (however defined).

          Francis of Assisi being of course the most prominent but far
          from only christian example and in Buddhism and Hinduism similar tales abound even more, as they do with Sufi Masters, basically all major (and probably minor) religious traditions make claims about such phenomena.

          I don’t actually think there is any need for supernatural explanations (though plenty of mystery remains) and if anything I’m even more fascinated and impressed by the ability of many, many animals to recognize humans they can truly trust and their willingness to do so.

          But I can definitely very well understand that so many people reached for the miraculous as an explanation (or sadly alternatively for witchcraft and black magic when fear got the upper hand over awe and fascination, with often the assorted terrible consequences for people and animals alike).

          That doesn’t change the fact though that these cases can’t generalized from, that for the average joe imitation is not at all recommended and that the likelihood of you trying to befriend a bear 🐻 resulting in the very last hug of your life remains pretty damn high.

      2. Lee

        OTOH, consider the fate of grizzly man. A counter example would be the Bart the Bear. But Bart was born in a zoo, raised, and trained by humans. I am a wild critter enthusiast, and have spent many hours observing large carnivores taking notes for researchers, at a safe distance through a scope. Safe for the critter as well as myself because a critter that attacks a human may be put down.

        Fortunately, the guy in the first of your linked videos was near an abundant natural food source or he could have been on the menu.

    2. Local to Oakland

      I have read from a number of sources that Cheetahs have been domesticated for hunting by rulers in the past. This would be impossible with for example a leopard or a lion.

    3. digi_owl

      I fully expect this to have taken place in a nature preserve, and the cat having grown up with humans around it.

  3. zagonostra

    >How Boeing Bought Washington – Lever News

    The campaign donations, lobbying money, and regulatory waivers underscore critics’ assertions that Boeing and its long-time parts supplier, Spirit AeroSystems, have used their political influence in both parties to endanger air passengers.

    I heard Scott Ritter on a podcast the other day saying that the Israeli lobby has already bought Congress, so Boeing should get in line.

    Yemen Houthis attacked, Genocide in Gaza, Gonzo Lira’s Democide by the country of his citizenship, $1T on interest payment, $1T for defense spending, power and money, influence and connections, all conspiring to direct the nation into eventual collapse; internal politics in complete disarray, Ray Epps, Trump trial, Biden’s dementia, all contributing to a population that is divided, confused, dismayed and discontent.

    The Presidential election will solve nothing. Short of a new party forming that has the capacity to clean house, and reconstitute some sense of national identity and respect, nothing can change, politically. The day’s news depresses, but one can look to the courage of doctors refusing to leave their patients knowing that it will lead to their death, or the courage of journalist laying his or life on the line for moral and principled motives that transcends the self-interested ones that drive nefarious actors to do their evil misdeeds, their is some hope.

    1. JP

      Let’s try to understand how the money works. A trillion on interest goes mostly to US dept holders and circulates within the US economy. The rest goes to international holders (China) where it is a result of balance of payments operations that is denominated in US dollars (to US benefit).

      The Trillion for “defense”, as Smedley Butler said, is to insure an open path for US corporations to have their way with the globe.

      It’s not unsustainable. It just needs better leadership. I think they called it Pax Americana, currently becoming Pox Americana

  4. The Rev Kev

    “US strikes on Yemen won’t solve anything”

    Listening to Biden talk about this, I wonder if these attacks were all about domestic politics. How does a modern US President prove their credentials? By bombing the crap out of a country that cannot fight back. I have actually heard talking heads come out and say this on TV as if it was normal. And how does a US President get more approval in the ratings? Same thing. Just bomb a country and pressto, you get a boost in your ratings because you are proving that you are a macho President. I don’t think that the people in Yemen are going to buckle as they have been through a lot worse. How will they strike back? Probably in a way that most people will not expect. Biden, through his indifferent arrogance, has just kicked the hornet’s nest.

    1. Pat

      I think Biden and friends are a decade or so too late for that to be true. Sure, if Israel weren’t being full bore freak flag flying genocidal. Maybe if there hadn’t been over two decades of death and wealth destruction gaining nothing for Iraq and Afghanistan. Perhaps if Ukraine wasn’t proving to be a hole in the ground where Biden has thrown billions while the American economy is a mess for most Americans. Maybe if Yemen and the Houthis had blown up thousands of Americans. And maybe if more Americans think they are going to win the Armageddon lottery and be one of the 100,000 or so taken to heaven while every left behind on earth suffers, the wag the dog theory might actually work.

      But I don’t think for a moment that this will get Biden the kind of boost he needs, and any boost he might get will be short lived. He will have the same supporters he had last week, who think the economy is great and that Biden is the greatest President since FDR.
      If any of this starts to escalate greatly forget a boost he is toast. Young Americans are not going to patriotically line up to go to war with Iran. That will expose the crippling supply problems, the recruitment problems and many of the design problems for the most expensive military in the world.
      It is beyond stupid.

      1. timbers

        “I think Biden and friends are a decade or so too late for that to be true.”

        And (you probably know this, too) they don’t know they are a decade or more too late. As in so many other instances, maybe the best thing forces loyal to the “Biden” regime can do now, is declare victory against Yemen/Syria/Iraq/Ukraine/Haiti/Germany/Japan/Korea/Taiwan/Saudi Arabia/Gaza Israel/ and leave.

        1. Mike

          A further thought might be that the walls of political economics are closing in on this system, and Biden is the one chosen to make our desperate flailing acceptable to liberals /PMC, while roping in libertarians who only think to the profit line. Lashing out is one way to create enough fear in the Global South to trap some poorer countries who see dollar signs when licking the US hand.

          Between bought congress critters and spent Leftists who cannot stop analyzing their anuses, this nation has no opposition domestically worth building any new party, and it would probably be infiltrated and misled before it got to do anything. The time to build one is rapidly closing.

      2. Katniss Everdeen

        For those killing time until the football playoffs this afternoon, Glenn Greenwald did a deep dive last night into what the framers of the Constitution thought of a president’s assertion of the power to both control a standing army and wage a war without the consent of congress.

        In short, they wrote the Constitution to absolutely prohibit it.

        The idea is doubly terrifying considering the “mental capacity” of the current “commander-in-chief.”

        He quotes John Jay in Federalist [Papers] No. 4, and it is especially interesting:

        It is too true, however disgraceful it may be to human nature, that nations in general will make war whenever they have a prospect of getting anything by it; nay, absolute monarchs will often make war when their nations are to get nothing by it, but for the purposes and objects merely personal, such as thirst for military glory, revenge for personal affronts, ambition, or private compacts to aggrandize or support their particular families or partisans. These and a variety of other motives, which affect only the mind of the sovereign, often lead him to engage in wars not sanctified by justice or the voice and interests of his people…

        And for those who have forgotten, from wiki:

        The Federalist Papers is a collection of 85 articles and essays written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay under the collective pseudonym “Publius” to promote the ratification of the Constitution of the United States.

        Probably a “good thing” for the Blob that 56% of the population is illiterate.

        1. Screwball

          I’m surprised there are so many cheering it on. But I remember when democrats were the anti-war party.

          I was told yesterday this was one of the best decisions Biden has made, and he even got a coalition to back us which shows good governance (I’m not sure what they were talking about there). Combine this, with the soft landing of the economy, proves what a great job Biden is doing – according to this guy.

          He is a MSM watching (never Trump) republican.

          They also think Biden is in great shape to win 2024 because so many of the red neck imbeciles who would vote for Trump died because they refused the vaccines.

          What a time to be alive – the $hit show is even free (kind of). Enjoy what you can before these insane people get us all killed or starved to death.

          1. Acacia

            I know this is just a bad situation, but in your place, I would seriously make a bet with your MSM-watching interlocutor.

            It’s a small-stakes way for people to learn they were wrong.

      3. John k

        As others here have said, our oligarchs are mostly doing very well with these wars, highly profitable… most of the billions never left dc. Not much of the new 61b ask would ever cross the pond.
        You didn’t think any of these wars were intended to hell Mr or mrs average, right?

    2. .Tom

      > Listening to Biden talk about this, I wonder if these attacks were all about domestic politics.

      There’s no such thing as foreign policy.

      1. Bill

        “We are all one people…”

        Nothing says “America Last” quite like allowing criminals to freely cross our border and then, once they’re inside, offering them two years of complimentary housing—all while many of our own citizens, including US veterans, struggle with homelessness. This is the reality in Maine, a clear demonstration of the illogical and self-defeating (and loathing) approach of globalists.

        1. JBird4049

          Follow the moola. The housing crisis in California has only been a growing crisis for just over forty years or greater than my entire adult life, but various interests from the real estate developers, Boomer home owners, and lately some NGOs have benefited from it, which means state and municipal governments do just enough for the appearance of doing something; this allows the money to keep flowing to the various slush funds of the various organizations as solving it would end the flow.

          Whatever one thinks of immigration, hundreds of thousands, even millions of Americans are homeless every single year with tens of millions paying most of their income to housing, but finding the money, organization, and effort to solve this is never found.

    3. Benny Profane

      Of course it’s about domestic politics. Ukraine is lost, and somebody read the South African indictment, and said, holy Jeebus, we need a distraction. Hmmm, can’t do that Iran thing Victoria is shrieking about, let’s bomb the incredibly poor brown people in Yemen! Yeah. And we’ll release the black and white nighttime videos of the destruction of mud walled buildings somewhere in the desert to CNN to entertain the masses, just like back in Iraq, although something tells me most of America could give a damn. I mean, what’s a Houti, dude? Besides, this looks like a repeat. What’s on Netflix?,

    4. Mikel

      Israel is always talking about the “right to self defense.”
      That’s all well and good, but they can’t defend themselves. Zionist sitting in a part of the world, right in the middle of people they feel superior to.
      And that’s why the world wants a cease fire. Stop dragging the world into madness.

      1. Ken

        Reminds me of Scientologists whining about “religious persecutions”
        when criticized about their brainwashing and robbing assets from their “members.”


    5. Jabura Basaidai

      ah yes, remember the bimbo bombs of Slick Willy when he was caught slipping the sausage to an intern – what a despicable human being –

        1. Jabura Basaidai

          you’re a sly one with that cigar comment RK – kinda like a boomerang, came back around and hit me in the back of the head with some of the things Lewinski’s remembered during an interview later – kudos –

    6. chris

      But Biden and those like him do not care about credentials or appearances. They don’t care what voters think of them. They have no interest in being seen to even “fight for” what voters want these days. Biden and his people could have “fought for” keeping many of the pandemic era programs alive, with the full knowledge that they’d never survive because of opposition from both parties in the House and the Senate, and then reaped the reward of at least appearing to care for the common man. They couldn’t even put up that pretense. Biden has been all about war and crushing citizens finances since Feb ’22. He has done everything a war president could do and it has not helped his chances with the voters or his donors.

      I do not know why he is doing what he is doing. I don’t think he knows why he is doing what he is doing. I think various arms of the government have decided to ignore the executive. The US is essentially a rogue nation. We are not agreement capable. We are not rational. We’re just a bully with guns and bombs at this point. And when we run out of ways to use those tools abroad we will bring them home to punish the citizens.

      1. Lefty Godot

        I think that’s really what is behind the supposedly timid and insufficiently aggressive actions of Russia, China, and other countries, that many anti-imperialists complain about on the interwebs. The US, and by no coincidence Israel, are the psychopaths of the world that every other nation has to tiptoe around, because they could go from bullet-and-bomb style bullying to using nuclear weapons, and no one can predict just what level of resistance might set them off. And bring about the end of all civilization.

        The US is like the homicidal but super-powered infant in the Jerome Bixby story, “It’s a Good Life” (made into a Twilight Zone episode). And, however imperialistic the US government has been historically, that’s a fairly recent development. The fall of the USSR seems to have encouraged the rise of madmen in the halls of power in the US, megalomaniacs so deluded that they make past evil leaders like Reagan and Nixon seem like eminently reasonable statesmen, and Eisenhower and Kennedy virtually saints.

  5. SocalJimObjects

    With 90% of total votes already counted, Lai Ching Te from DPP is the winner of Taiwan’s presidential election. I look forward to more frequent SMS messages telling me that China has launched some “missile” over Taiwan, I read both the Chinese and English texts and I immediately spotted the translation error, but other foreign residents must have been spooked.

    I was told this by a local friend earlier this morning, but apparently each eligible voter is expected to carry both his/her ID and personal chop to the polling station. The chop is used to ensure each ballot’s authenticity. I thought it was interesting. I too have a chop which I use for certain bank transactions.

    1. timbers

      The guys at Duran said a while ago, the 2 parties more favorable to not rocking the boat on succession were in talks to form a coalition prior to the election. Then the US made some phone calls to them, and the talks stopped and no coalition. Have not noticed any confirmation or other reporting of that.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        The Duran guys are fantastic in many ways, but they are way over their pay grades when they start commenting on the details of Asian geopolitics. They aren’t the only ones.

        The ‘2 parties more favaourable to not rocking the boat’ are the right wing and deeply corrupt KMT and an upstart party the TPP, which is basically the personal vehicle for Ko Wen-Je, a populist wild card who has veered widely in his personal politics depending on which way he sees the parade marching. The KMT and TPP decided to run a joint candidate, but this failed because the KMT assumed the candidate would be their guy, while Ko had other ideas. It’s as simple as that, nothing to do with US interference. And the notion that the US is anti KMT is way off the mark – the wealthy Taiwan diaspora in the US which gives a lot of money to various Washington think tanks is very right wing and firmly KMT and loathes the left leaning DPP.

        The distinction between the KMT and DPP in terms of independence is so slim as to be nearly indiscernible to anyone who hasn’t spent a lifetime studying the fine print of various constitutional amendments and internal legal arguments. But the KMT is more business-pragmatic, so Beijing much prefers to deal with them than what they see as the flakey DPP. KMT only want unification in the sense that they think they should be in charge of everything. The DPP is only more ‘pro-US’ in the sense that Beijing won’t speak to them, so they have little choice. If they do have a geopolitical strategy or orientation, its that they see Taiwans future as being part of an alliance of mid-sized democratic countries in the Pacific, i.e. an alliance of themselves with ROK, Japan, Indonesia, etc), while the KMT see Taiwans future as riding a delicate balance between Beijing and Washington, and anyone else who’ll give them a backhander.

        In any event, the election was mostly over internal issues, especially housing costs, general cost of living standards and the usual run of domestic issues. There seems to be a general sense of being jaded with the antics of all the major parties. Ko ran with that, pretending to be an outsider, but he is every much as much an insider as the others.

        Beijing undoubtedly sees the victory of the DPP as a defeat, but this is as much a reflection of Beijings poor quality reading of other countries politics (a constant theme of their foreign policy) as it is of the reality. Only a very small percentage of Taiwanese see themselves as Chinese culturally or have any desire to be part of China. Overwhelmingly, Taiwanese people support ‘the status quo’, which is essentially de facto independence, while accepting the weird legal position in international law this has created for them. Apart from the usual centre right/centre left split, the distinction between the KMT and DPP is more cultural – the former representing the uninvited incoming post war losers of the Chinese Civil War, and the linguistically and culturally mixed ‘natives’ of the island.

        1. Amfortas the Hippie

          when i was a Tween(+-), early 80’s, driving around Lake Conroe with my grandad…he pointed at a big grassy hill, just off of highway 105.
          “that there is Madame Chain Kai Check’s underground bunker…”
          then went on to relate how installing the ventilation was one of his sheet metal company’s first big contracts.
          so that afternoon, i delved into the deluxe edition of the britannica.
          “Formosa”(which is what i called the place for years afterwards)…”Kuomintang”…and so on/
          i admit that i havent cared one whit about tiawan ever since that wander through the encyclopaedia.

          grandad said he had only met Madame once…accidentally, as she was wandering around the bunker to be with her gaggle of aides, etc.
          “classy…but kind of a bitch…”

        2. caucus99percenter

          Seems ahistorical and rather absurd to me.

          > Only a very small percentage of Taiwanese see themselves as Chinese culturally or have any desire to be part of China

          So how do they reconcile this with their official name still being “Republic of China”? Or with the fact that, for decades after losing the Chinese civil war, they and their Western backers continued to insist that the KMT be treated as “China” in all international organizations including the U.N.?

          When Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek and his followers fled to the island in 1949, did they not take with them China’s national treasury and all the art objects of Chinese cultural heritage that they could carry? If they now say they are not China and Chinese after all, this was a theft and they ought to give them back.

          1. PlutoniumKun

            I was referring to repeated studies asking about personal identity. Less than 3% of Taiwanese identify as ‘Chinese’ in surveys. More than 70% repeatedly identify as ‘Taiwanese only’.

            The DPP has nothing to do with Chiang Kai-Shek or the Republic of China – it is the descendent body of the people who actively opposed him. It largely represents the native Taiwanese (mostly speakers of minority dialects) who actively fought against the incomers. They fought a long and bitter series of internal conflicts against the KMT in which many thousands of people were slaughtered in order to win democracy.

          2. SocalJimObjects

            > Only a very small percentage of Taiwanese see themselves as Chinese culturally or have any desire to be part of China

            That statement is doing a lot of work. The major holidays here in Taiwan are all Chinese cultural holidays. The Taiwanese people have nothing against Chinese culture, it’s never been an issue. Everyone here speaks Mandarin although they use Traditional Chinese for writing but that also came from Mainland China. Even the Taiwanese “language” originated from the Fujian province in China, although the English media certainly loves to trot out the “we only speak Taiwanese and not Mandarin” oddballs from Southern Taiwan as an example of something distinctly Taiwanese. I’ve been to the South of Taiwan and I never encountered anyone ever refusing to speak Mandarin with me, not one single time.

            Most importantly, ROC Taiwan still claims Mainland China as part of her territory. If they are not Chinese, then why that strange claim?

            Anyway demographics will decide the issue in the end, Taiwan’s demographics is one of the worst in East Asia, the Mainland only has to wait 30 years, and most people here will be old by then.

            1. cfraenkel

              So by your thinking, inhabitants of Boston, Toronto, & Sidney still think they’re “English”?

                1. Synoia

                  They are Colonials, well k known as inferior to Real Englishmen from Private Schools, Oxford and Cambridge.

                  The English from state schools are referred to as Peasants.

              1. SocalJimObjects

                What does one have to do with the other? Next, you are going to say that there’s nothing different between English and Chinese culture. It’s a proven fact that most Chinese people anywhere maintain a pretty strong connection to Mainland China, that’s why there’s this thing called the Bamboo Network. AFAIK, such a thing does not exist for other cultures (happy to be proven wrong).

                1. hk

                  I tend to think that polls are both right and misleading. People tend to be fairly clear about what they don’t like, but are bad at placing it in context. I suspect that if the survey taker were to start asking follow up questions, one’s imagine that things will look rather more nuanced and different.

                  It is a bit strange, though, because, at least in Chinese, different conceptions about “China” can be made more distinct: zhonghua vs zhongguo, for example. I am curious about the original wording in these surveys….

            2. PlutoniumKun

              Opinion polling on identity in Taiwan has been very consistent over many years.

              Taiwan does not have a constitution in the normal usage of the term. You are referring I assume to the Constitution of the Republic of China which was drafted and approved by the KMT to cover all of China (in fact, it originally excluded Taiwan as it was not then considered part of China). It became the de facto, if universally ignored, constitutional document for Taiwan after the KMT lost the civil war and used Taiwan as its last power base. It is functionally almost impossible to alter, more so as the KMT has had a veto on its alterations.

              The functionally ‘real’ constitution of Taiwan, as elected upon and accepted by domestic courts, is the 1991 revision (known as the ‘12 articles’ and subsequent revisions which contains no such claim.

              1. hk

                There is a bit of an issue with the polling: the wording is more specific than in English: the distinction is between “Taiwan person” (臺灣人) vs. “China (the country thereof–this is the important part in the terminology.) person” (中人) with very identarian connotations, not necessarily “cultural” context. (Having said that, I do think that these reflect genuine sentiments at a gut level–but only within a particular context). Does being a “Taiwan person” preclude being part of a cultural Sinosphere? of course not. If further prompted, will “Taiwanese” respondents insist that “Taiwan” is an entity entirely apart from “China”? How will they respond if the question is about zhonghua (Chinse culture/civilization, basically) rather than zhonguo (Chinese state/nation–basically, the socio-political entity called China)? I’d like to think that there have been surveys done on this topic (I am pretty sure I came across the results before, although I can’t seem to find any of them now), and I don’t think their results would surprise us.

                Having said that, I’d like to think that the socio-political distancing is genuine and the best bet for both sides is some sort of “special relationship” without formal political institutional baggage for the medium-to-long term (not too unlike what they have now), without actually trying to formalize the relationship in any form. The best that outsiders can do is to not meddle.

        3. hk

          There is one thing, though: few people in Taiwan may want to be Chinese, but even fewer people want to actually fight not to be Chinese. Even for DPP, the talk of “independence” is more talk than reality: Taiwan spends defense budget on shiny and symbolic toys likely to be useless in a shooting conflict with China. The only plans they have are, first, that nobody will do anything too serious to upset the status quo (too far) and, if something does happen, USA will somehow magically stop the Chinese.

          The first is probably true for near future, but with serious caveats. It does not preclude some crazy performative/symbolic decisions in Washington, Taipei, or Beijing (or elsewhere) starting a cascade of institutional collapses that subverts the currently mutually profitable relationships. We know #2 is irresponsible absurdity that is certain to end badly. We are left hoping that the “fundamental pragmatism” that has so far prevailed on Taiwan (and Beijing) will continue, but I don’t think that’s wise. Pragmatism is usually built on “corrupt” deals. Desire for “clean” politics leads to insanity (I’d like to point to Yoon in South Korea as an example: more generally, there is an old (Chinese) saying “There is no big fish in clear water and no harmony in clean politics.”).

          1. PlutoniumKun

            Just to be clear, i didn’t mean to say they didn’t ‘want’ to be Chinese, I mean that repeated surveys indicate that only a tiny percentage consider themselves to be culturally and politically ‘Chinese’, and a clear minority (something like 20%) consider themselves to be ‘Taiwanese-Chinese’. The overwhelming majority consider themselves to be Taiwanese, and nothing else. This question is, of course independent of the political question of who they align with or whether they were to merge in what was the ‘one country, two systems’ idea, which Beijing killed stone dead with the crackdown in HK.

            I think caution needs to be applied to terms like ‘independance’ with Taiwan, especially when listening to politicians. For obvious reasons, these discussions are heavily coded. Talking about ‘independence’ is an overtly anti-Chinese terminology, which is why nearly all insist on using terms like ‘maintaining the status quo’, which is in practice the same thing, just less inflammatory. Both main parties maintain that they are in favour of ‘the status quo’ (although low grade reporting of Taiwanese politics outside the country and even in the English language media in Taiwan) often mis translates or misinterprets this. In reality, all the major political parties in Taiwan are pro-status quo, which is essentially the maintenance of their independence – the distinction is in various shades of what this means. This is one reason why some politicians (Ko as an example), can apparently hop from the DPP bandwagon to the KMT one without apparently changing their stance on China by much.

            I confess to be entirely confused by some of the deeper subtle distinctions Taiwan politicians make when they talk about this – this is inevitable when they are speaking to multiple ears whenever they are asked to talk about the topic – the Taiwan public, their own supporters, Beijing and Washington. Tsai has actually been quite masterful in this, although the crudity of both Washington and Beijing has repeatedly backed her into a corner. But in broader terms, my interpretation of the distinction between the current KMT (they’ve shifted quite a bit over the years), and the DPP is that the KMT see Taiwan as a sort of leverage point in the Pacific, whereby they can prosper through playing Beijing and Washington against each other, while the TPP dream of a sort of alliance of mid sized democracies in the Pacific that can chart their own course independent of the big powers.

            As to the military – Taiwan has grossly underfunded its military for a long time – often using the excuse of not wanting to provoke China. But it should be remembered they came very close to developing a nuclear warhead in the 1980’s (stopped by the US), and have a very good domestic arms industry, with a range of weapons specifically designed for their own purposes. The main problem is that they just don’t have enough of them. They do, however, seem to be changing from a policy of pure defensiveness while trying to drag the US (and Japan) into any conflict, to one of being actually able to inflict pain on China by striking port cities directly. They have a new range of mid range cruise missiles and (possibly) ballistic missiles that have the potential to do real damage. China, of course, has a vastly larger navy and army, but amphibious assaults are notoriously difficult to do. In WWII even the US avoided a direct attack on Taiwan despite its very light defences as it was seen as too difficult to take compared to smaller islands.

            1. hk

              I agree mostly with these characterizations, and these are actually the reasons I think there are analogues between Ukraine and Russia that people don’t seem to see. First, the vast majority see themselves as a separate entity from its neighbor, with small minorities that oppose this from both fringes. 2) that, for decades after the Cold War, the dominant politics has been to maintain the status quo (of quasi neutrality) where you are benefitting by playing both sides (KMT (and everyone else, really) in Taiwan, the string of leaders from Kravchuk to Yanukovych in Ukraine). One hopeful difference is that Taiwan has much more institutionalized politics and better organized party system where sudden radical departure from the current policy (a la Maidan) is difficult, with or without foreign influence, and that provides ample time to reconsider and negotiate (both internally and externally) as necessary. I am more worried about Washington and to a lesser degree, Beijing:. Washington has been acting increasingly crazy for at least a decade or two, but I don’t have much confidence in Beijing’s leadership to act with sufficient wisdom and patience either. (I can’t explain why exactly, but Xi and the PRC Politburo don’t really inspire much confidence in me). Washington and Beijing can both throw monkey wrenches and and forth to each other and instigate a crisis to which Taiwanese leadership will have precious little room to maneuver. This is where, I think, Taiwanese public is not really ready for: if things really do fall apart, what shall we do and what price are we willing to pay? This, I think, is separate from spending money on missiles, tanks, or whatever: do Taiwanese conduct large scale civil defense drills where the entire population is reminded of what’s at stake? Do they train civilians on large scale to organize themselves as a shadow guerilla movement in case of forceful PRC takeover? (Incidentally, SK did all these throughout 50s-early 80s: of course, SK also had a nuclear program through much of the time. The mentality created by these experiences really does show up among the older South Koreans.) Of course, even more than the Hsiung Missiles, these would indicate a real willingness to break with China complegtely that will precipitate a crisis quickly, I supppose…

              1. PlutoniumKun

                I agree with you on this, although I think you can only go so far with analogies with Ukraine. Probably a better analogy I think is Israel, whereby an incoming population brought their own politics and inflicted them upon an existing population and essentially dragged that population into its own wars. But even that is stretching it.

                From what I can see, the Taiwanese people are pretty comfortable with who they are, but as you say it’s powerful outsiders who are doing their best to cause instability. Neither Beijing nor Washington have been in any way helpful. It still baffles me as to why Beijing so badly misjudged Hong Kong – the ‘Two countries, one nation’ policy was effective, and I believe would have encouraged Taiwan to come much closer to China, but Beijing panicked over the HK protests and destroyed decades of careful planning. This, above all other events, I believe destabilised the concensus in Taiwan, which was slowly heading towards a consensual reunification. There were also at the time some very clumsy statements from Beijing which implied that when unification occurred, the economic system would be equalised, which in practical terms means that the Taiwanese would end up losing half their income and lose their pretty decent health system.

                As you point out there is a big contrast between ROK, which has long been at a stage of war readiness, and Taiwan, which has always acted as if it never truly believes it will really happen. I think this is rooted in both countries history. Taiwan is not a martial country, so it’s very possible it would put up a very poor fight if it came to it. But then again, China’s history in ‘real’ wars isn’t great either (as any Vietnamese people will happily point out), so this works both ways.

                1. SocalJimObjects

                  If you ask the Vietnamese for a full accounting, they will also say they kicked the French’s butt, and they also caused America to lose her mind. If I remember correctly, in the last REAL war between America and China, a certain decorated American general had to go crying to mama, asking for authorization to use nuclear weapons. America’s history in fighting ‘real’ wars is also super spotty, and as Yves has pointed out in the past, in all war games conducted by the DoD, the US loses against China.

                  1. hk

                    I tend to think it’s not so much “Chinese” or whoever not being good at fighting, but the overall experience and training. FWIW, in 1950, PRC could afford to send a million experienced veterans into the conflict who were familiar with how to fight under highly adverse conditions (lack of weapons etc). In 1979, China had a badly equipped, supplied, and inexperienced force with little or no experience and no good theory of modern warfare and badly disorganized leadership. (there is something about the Vietnamese having a veteran army, but, unfortunately for this argument, China was confronted by Vietnamese militias as their veteran troops were in the South or in Cambodia at this time…) Where do things stand now? Nobody knows really. PLA has reformed itself fairly thoroughly since 1990s, at least in theory, but no one has seen it in action and nobody knows what to expect.

                    Having said that, Taiwanese topology is a formidable obstacle by itself: conquering it without any form of inside help would be difficult. But I don’t expect the PRC leadership cares to “conquer” Taiwan militarily at any rate, without an outside meddling anyways. (The real incompetence of Xi and his clique is that they are obsessive control freaks where they think they have an upper hand, overstep their bounds, and shoot themselves in the foot. Actually, a rather “American” folly, methinks.)

                  2. PlutoniumKun

                    Not even official Chinese sources consider the Korean War to have been militarily successful (although arguably a political success). Official Chinese figures are 180,000 dead, which gives a higher casualty rate as a percentage of troops committed than in the war against Japan. The fifth and final big offensive was a major failure which led to the loss of Seoul. So while Chinese intervention was crucial to preventing the complete defeat of the KPA, most analysts I’ve read consider Soviet help to have been much more important. Although I suspect that if nobody had intervened at all, the end result – a divided Korea, would probably have happened anyway. All the interventions by the big powers achieved was massively increasing the total death and destruction.

                    Famously, in all war games conducted, Germany loses the Battle of France and the US loses the Battle of Midway.

            2. redleg

              There’s no way China (or any rational adversary) would attempt to invade Taiwan. It’s far easier, more effective, less destructive, and much cheaper in terms of lives and treasure to blockade it into submission.

                1. SocalJimObjects

                  The US has banned China from buying the most advanced semiconductors.

                  Plenty of Taiwanese know the score as in the only thing the Mainland has to do is to blockade the island. Taiwan is not self sufficient in terms of food and energy, and a lot of health, manufacturing and domestic workers come from overseas countries, and these people will be the first to leave when hostilities really break out. A war time economy in Taiwan will be radically different, and more than soldiers, there’s no way the government will be able to crank out nurses, etc overnight from a stable of service sector workers. There are currently 720000 contract workers from South East Asia, making up about 3% of Taiwan’s population, if we consider just working age population then I think it’s easily double that.

                  1. hk

                    When I was in more frequent contact with the Taiwanese (a couple of decades ago), there were worries (among my interlocutors–they were and presumably still are “Taiwan people”–about migration from the mainland. Apparently, there were a lot of mainlander women who came over from Fujian and Zhejiang and married Taiwanese men, especially in the rural areas (which would be interesting: they literally are of the same ethnic stock, speaking the same language, but would have very different worldview. I found encounters with Chinese citizens of Korean ethnicity very odd because of how “Chinese” their sense of identity was, even if I might have been one of them myself if my grandparents didn’t move to Seoul after 1945–but then, I no doubt made some Koreans’ eyes roll myself with my sense of where I belong to…). I am curious how that has been changing. Hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of Taiwanese work and live on the mainland. I’d figure that there’s a pretty sizable mainlander population in Taiwan as well.

          2. Darthbobber

            It’s a bit strange to see this touted universally in the west as a huge DPP victory. Their presidential vote, at 40%, is down more than 10% from their performance in the previous election, and they also became a minority party in the legislature, losing 10 seats while the KMT gained 14 and the TPP 3.

            So in practical terms, the DPP would seem to have less capacity to push through changes than it previously possessed.

      1. chris

        I’m not sure about that. Taiwan is not Ukraine and does not have direct economic or physical ties to any US vassals. China has to do two things to cripple Taiwan immediately in ways that the US can’t do anything about:

        1) stop buying stuff from Taiwan. China is their largest trading partner. Some 60% of their economy vanishes if China just stops buying their stuff.

        2) naval blockade of Taiwan.

        I still don’t understand why the State Borg believed they could economically isolate Russia without causing any negative effects on the rest of the world. But there is no way to ignore the impact of economic sanctions and loss of trade that would come from cutting China out of the loop. US companies currently spend trillions in China each year. The US does not have an economy anything like it’s current state without China. We can’t do to China what we attempted to do to Russia.

        The theory behind Ukraine as far as I understood it was to break Russia, cripple Iran, unify all of our vassals, then re-arm Japan and take Taiwan, so that China could be handled at leisure. None of that is going to happen. So any motion towards the effective annexation of Taiwan by the US or its allies will fail before it even begins.

        1. jo6pac

          China could send home 20,000 plus engineers that work in China on top of stop buying from Taiwan. Amerika could do nothing.

    2. Kouros

      I don’t know what the power division is in Taiwan, but DPP does not have a legislative majority after this election. DPP won presidentials with 40% because they are on the FPTP system, and the vote split 3 ways. No second run. So DPP does not represent the majority of the Taiwanese, same as the most of the recent Canadian governments for instance…

      1. hk

        Indigenous people of Taiwan have special legislative districts designed to ensure their representation in LY. Electioneering/politicking among the indigenous Taiwanese is, I’m told, rather fascinating.

  6. Carla

    Re: Fin Times article on Boeing MAX 9 —

    As far as I’m concerned, here’s the tell that the FAA remains dysfunctional and toothless:

    “Whitaker said the FAA was “exploring” its options for using an independent third-party to oversee inspections of Boeing’s aircraft and its quality controls.”

    So grateful I did quite a bit of traveling while I had the chance.

      1. ambrit

        How about “Going Boeing” for “to ‘crash’ a party?”
        “Hey man. Were you invited to the party?”
        “No. But f it. I’m going boeing.”
        “Cool. See you there.”

          1. ambrit

            My oh my. Again with the First ‘Strike’ option. Next up is, no doubt, a scholarly work on “Boeing Alone: America’s Declining Aerospace Capital.”
            (Sorry for the inferior badinage today. A cold front moving in triggers my Synaptic Hibernation Syndrome.)

          2. Reply

            AMF, now associated however fleetingly with two former iconic brands.
            Harley-Davidson, (for about 10 seconds in chopper years), 1973-81 decades ago.

    1. tegnost

      I think it strikes at the core of the wef/davos plan to have corporations run the world and nations get token sovereignty but are subjects of the biz class. ISDS was the mechanism (trump! We hate that effer!) Mandatory participation in markets…see $700 penalty for not having insurance (trump! We hate that effer!) Self regulating businesses? Well thats a fail…. Still fantasizing about owning the genome with GMO tech…Still thinking someday a robot car will work. Unseating reality with a bullshit generator (AI is artificial…you’ll believe what we tell you to believe) A surveillance phone for every human. Let bezos run the post office (into the ground, can’t have successful gov programs… what is this ,Russia?) unlimited debt (Bankruptcy? You owe me that effing money and yes I will sell your blood to collect…) I struggle to think of one good thing about this country. (NC is international)
      “A tale told by idiots- full of sound and fury and signifying nothing”

    2. VietnamVet

      This shows how effective corporate-state partner propaganda is. The only loose money source left is eliminating quality control by retiring inspectors and ostracizing whistle blowers. Boeing may not be as profitable if it builds safe planes, but if it will be bankrupt if 737 MAXs are boycotted. Likewise, public education and public health dies if workplaces and schools are not safe. These institutions are all too big to fail but if they do so does Washington DC.

      But definition regulatory agencies in a government run by and for the people are the impartial independent third party. End regulatory capture, party gerrymandering, and corporate political funding to restore democratic constitutional governance and secure safe borders.

    1. SteveD

      So with the valve prohibition we’re repeating one of the original public health sins of 2020: “Wear a mask so that you don’t infect others” instead of “wear a mask to protect yourself.” This, with a disease that is frequently asymptomatic, not to mention carrier/transmitters can be presymptomatic for days. Zero learning.

      1. Cassandra

        > Zero learning.

        At some point, stupidity and incompetence are not a sufficient explanation and one has to consider malice.

        Of course, my nearest and dearest (PMC team blue all) feel that I am unhinged and paranoid. And perhaps a closet Republican.

      2. skippy

        Its not hard on the masks with an exhale valve too cut out and insert P100 filtration material. The industrial grade elastic fit mask come with extra replaceable first stage disks and cheap to replace.

        Then again the whole mask thing has drove me nuts since day one. The amount of wrong or bad information about masks and topped off with the freedoms and liberty tropes set the stage for so much confusion and with it actual loss of down the road freedoms due to loss of health: see the link about about ‘A discovery in the muscles of long COVID patients may explain exercise troubles’.

        I am currently advising my ex wife who had a very nasty case of COVID early December which lasted 3 weeks. First week was with 40c+ temp, low Ox levels, bedridden. Second was high 30C temps, low Ox levels, muscle/joint pain, but not bedridden. Third week was low ox levels and muscle/joint pain.

        She is currently struggling with all the factors which the article on post-exertional malaise discusses. This is all complicated by her long term diagnoses of BPD of which Histrionic personality disorder (HPD) is her case and to top it all off had a big stroke [ICH] at mid early 50s not 3 years ago.

        To make matters even more complex the area she lives in West End Brisbane is high density and with it chockablock with gyms, restaurants, crowded night life, markets, apartment complexes.

        Ugh … can only imagine what pops out the other side in say 10 years …

  7. The Rev Kev

    “The Hidden World of Undersea Cables”

    The author mentioned one time that some of these cables have been sabotaged (in Egypt) but there have been many more instances over the years of cables being cut and not all of them were due to dragged anchors. Now you would think that it would be in everybody’s interests to not touch such vital infrastructure but after the NS2 explosions, undersea cables may become fair game too. I think that these cables are also used to help control some populations as well. When the Chinese were going to set up undersea cables connecting some island nations in the south Pacific, the usual suspects stepped forward and threatened those nations to not accept China’s offer but to accept one from the west instead – or else.

    1. Es s Ce tera

      If I recall, there was a news item about how Putin, in response to NS2, was building redundancy into the oil pipelines across Russia such that if one was taken out, others would survive. I imagine both Russia and China are doing the same for their communications cables.

      And I look at the map of world undersea cables and see that if someone wanted to be truly disruptive, likely Russia and China with their large combined and continuous land mass would be the least disrupted.

      And if I were a country and wanted to think about financial/economic stability in a world where the US was cutting cables and blowing up pipelines, I’d want to hitch my economic wagon to Russia/China.

    2. CA–1q5VBO7xHTq/p.html

      January 4, 2024

      China lays terrestrial cable deep into seabed to supply electricity between islands, eliminating anchoring risks

      A terrestrial cable dived deep into the seabed between two islands of the Zhoushan Islands, east China’s Zhejiang Province, on Thursday.

      The 10-kilovolt cable, which spans 1 kilometer, will serve as a substitute for submarine cables and help solve the problem of the submarine cables’ frequent damage in the area after completion.

      The Zhoushan Islands comprise 2,085 islands of varying sizes. Submarine cables have always been relied on as an important power supply for inter-island and intra-island connections.

      The number of ships passing by in this area has increased due to the rapid development of maritime shipping and fishing. When a ship anchors, it can easily damage submarine cables. Factors such as climate and tides lead to difficulties in damage detection and vessel salvage, as well as economic losses.

      Engineers at the State Grid Corporation of China used a shield machine to drill a 7-meter-deep and 1-meter-wide channel below the seabed and then buried the cable, connecting the two islands with it.

      The burial is deep enough, eliminating the risk of anchoring incidents. Meanwhile, the cost of such cables is lower, making the construction cost only half that of submarine cables.

      At the same time, a water pipe will be buried using this channel between the two islands to supply fresh water.

    3. skippy

      You might not be aware Kev but most of the worlds wealth is in sea bed data cables at any one moment. Under sea land slides can and have been damaged these cables, happened in China not a few years ago and estimated in billions lost till it was sorted out.

      Whilst your scenario considers targeted cables, one has to reconcile the devastation undersea land slides incur as they effect huge areas all at once.

  8. Ernie

    Are Fingerprints Unique? Not Really, AI-Based Study Finds CNN”

    Over the mountain
    Down in the valley
    Lives a former talk-show host
    Everybody knows his name
    He says there’s no doubt about it
    It was the myth of fingerprints
    I’ve seen them all and man
    They’re all the same

    All Around The World Or The Myth Of Fingerprints
    Paul Simon

    1. mrsyk

      My favorite song from “Graceland”. Reminds me, wasn’t PS accused of “cultural appropriation” over this LP?

    2. Revenant

      Nice song reference but boy was that article rubbish! It had nothing to do with disproving the hypothesis that fingerprints do not reliably identify a person. It was about testing the hypothesis that fingerprints from the sane person exhibit similarity. The headline and framing were a bait and switch of the lowest order.

  9. The Rev Kev

    ‘Brian Berletic
    Gonzalo Lira is reported dead in Ukrainian prison from prolonged, untreated illness.’

    When Victoria Nuland heard that Lira had finally died, I wonder if she celebrated like Hilary did when she heard that Qaddafi had died- (11 secs)

    1. timbers

      Maybe, but Assange was a giant in stature, a direct hit (among other things) many times greater than Lira on Nuland if only because Assange gave us cold hard facts on Hillary’s corrupt election rigging as well a total refutation of her 100% falsehood that Russia interfered in “her” stolen Presidency….which the MSM went on to drive down the throats of the plebs non stop 24/7/365 for the next 4 years or so. Especially so, given the FBI has confirmed in writing that Seth Rich was “integrally” related to the DNC hack of it’s emails.

    1. Henry Moon Pie

      Otherwise known as this week’s Chiefs tailgater party..

      BTW, I’m boycotting the game tonight and watching it tomorrow AM after recording the replay. I’ll have a Breakfast at Arrowhead.

      The billionaires will not be satisfied until they have reached the very bottom of our empty pockets.

      1. Wukchumni

        I’m betting on hypothermia and the under…

        Poor form by the NFL in playing games in this sort of climate, and they have a fortnight between the playoffs & Superbowl, that could be condensed into 1 week by cancelling this weekend’s contests. It isn’t as if the players aren’t used to that, right?

        Or conversely, switching all of the games to domed stadiums in neutral cities, for those games not in domes already.

        How would a dozen dead in the stands play for the league’s reputation?

        …calls heads @ the 50 yard line

      2. griffen

        Just coming across as breaking news, the Steelers at Bills contest is being moved onward to Monday afternoon. I’m sure CBS can preempt any planned programs to broadcast the dulcet tones of Jim Nantz and Tony Romo. Apparently, Mother Earth is the only obstacle in the path of the NFL and it’s glorious playoff Super Weekend.

        Not a fan of “having to stream” for these games either.

    2. Amfortas the Hippie

      one of my favorite short stories.
      made the boys read it during the february 21 ice age.
      very effective.
      here in the texas hill country(nw part), its almost 50 right now…getting up to almost 60…then dropping to 20 by morning.
      and then staying there til wednesday midday.
      just got my last hot bath,lol.
      soon as i’m dry, i’ll go finish the preps.
      i frelling hate winter.

    3. Wukchumni

      First time I walked the High Sierra Trail in 1992 in Sequoia NP, I was at the Lodgepole market before the trip and they had a book carousel with a few dozen different paperbacks, and I picked out Jack London’s short stories, and it was a bit cold as i’d left too early in June, and i’d swear to you that when I read To Build a Fire, I thought it got about 5 degrees colder on top of already frigid.

      I’m soaking in Kern hot springs smack dab right in the middle of the HST, and when I got out it was so damned cold and I had 36 miles to go, including ascending 8,000 feet, with a fair amount of uncertainty but had to plod on, and weight was one way to lessen my load, and burned some underwear along with the only book i’ve ever used for kindling, that primer.

      Glissading is essentially boot skiing down a snowy slope, with something to arrest your descent, ideally an ice-ax, but hiking poles will work in a pinch.

      Here’s where I glissaded from 32 years ago, quite the ride, lemme tell ya.

      Glissading down the Mount Whitney snow chute

      1. Lee

        Most of my glissading has been involuntary, as in attempting with my intermediate skiing skills to take on a black diamond run.

  10. ChrisFromGA

    Interesting Simplicius update. His analysis on the prospects for any aid package for Ukraine from the US is close to what I think is going to happen – nothing.

    This morning I caught a couple of companion pieces in “The Hill”

    Viewed together, it seems that Johnson is truly screwed. If he signs any Senate deal trading border security for Ukraine money, he’s going to be turfed out like “muh Kevin.” Unless, he makes a deal with the devil and bows to Hakeem Jeffries. The latter is not going to happen.

    Meanwhile, other than bullying and blathering, the Senate has gone AWOL. No stories I can find about negotiations or any “deal” materializing from various “gangs.”

    I think the Freedom Caucus has figured out that all the talk of a shutdown is malarkey. All Johnson has to do is pass a clean CR for the rest of 2024 and automatic across the board cuts of 1% and 5% kick in to defense and non-defense spending.

    That’s some serious leverage. He don’t need no steenkin’ Ukraine money!

    1. Mark Gisleson

      Still not sure why everyone thinks Johnson wants aid to get to Ukraine. If a Speaker doesn’t want money to get somewhere, it doesn’t get there. What the Speaker says in the meantime is irrelevant to whether or not the money ever actually gets there.

      The Speaker of the House of Representatives is all but immune to public opinion and bad press. Publicly embracing legislation you’re killing is par for the course. It’s easy to stab someone in the back when you’re giving them a hug.

      I’d love to think the border stuff is more of the same but for that win I think Johnson would gladly throw away more money on Ukraine.

  11. Amfortas the Hippie

    re: “Our Democracy”:
    “….Days later, the Florida Democratic Party held its annual convention in Orlando, where the state executive committee voted unanimously to submit only Biden’s name to Florida election officials — a move that effectively canceled the Democratic primary.

    The party action did not receive much attention until right before the Nov. 30 deadline for parties to turn in primary candidates.”
    so, another star chamber/regency council/smoky room thing…burning democracy to save it.

    and in germany:

    “Like so much of German politics, the conversation is colored by the country’s Nazi past. In a society mindful that Adolf Hitler initially gained strength at the ballot box, with the Nazis winning a plurality of votes in federal elections before seizing power, a growing number of political leaders, particularly on the left, view a prohibition of the AfD — a party they view as a dire threat to Germany’s democracy — as an imperative rooted in historical experience.”

    closer to home:

    “…a recipe for disaster”- local dems.

    1. caucus99percenter

      For the people here in former East Germany, banning the AfD would pretty much put the finishing touches on the proof that the West German system they made the mistake of joining is just as top-down elitist, ideologically inflexible, and lacking in legitimacy, democracy, and fair play as the East German “Socialist Unity Party” system they non-violently overthrew.

      1. Feral Finster

        Yup. Not only will the AfD get banned, so will any political grouping that opposes American hegemony in general or the war on Russia in particular. Any pretext will do.

        So what do the people in the former DDR propose to do about it?

    2. ilsm

      “Our democracy” from the democrat party is nothing I care for, nothing like a polity I support.

      Too many ministry of truth words, and despising anyone they do not like!

    3. Roger Boyd

      The same old ahistorical BS. Hitler DID NOT win at the ballot box, the election before he was installed by the German ruling class, the Nazi vote went down. In the November 1932 elections the Nazis only got 33% of the vote, down 4.2% from the July 1932 elections. The Nazis lost 34 seats in the Reichstag.

      After Hitler was installed in power and the SA was used to mass intimidate the voters, the Nazis still only got 44% in the March 1933 elections. The Nazis did not seize power, they were given it by the German ruling class. The next election was completely fixed, the end of democracy in Germany until the post-WW2 period.

      1. hk

        “Winning” elections is such a weasel word, though.

        Very rarely is there an election “won” unconditionally, with indisputable majorities wherever it counts (whatever that means). If someone decides to make an issue, no election is indisputable if not in a legal-institutional sense, in a “moral” sense. The real question is whether most people are willing to accept the election result as legitimate independent of who wins. US went past that point in 2016: that enough of the elites didn’t like who won the election was enough to get them to openly plan rigging the election (talking about 24, not 20). Or, as one might say, democracy is a state of mind (among the masses) more than institutions and rules….

      2. Roland

        Nazis still got a strong plurality, with a wide margin over the next party, SPD. Given the deep differences between the other major parties, nobody was going to be able to form a governing coalition without NSDAP. Along with DNVP and DVP, the hardline right-wing nationalist parties were very close to a majority.

        The Nazi vote slipped a bit in November– most of that went back to DNVP, or to right-wing Bavarian nationalists. That few points’ decline was not moderation on the part of German voters–it was merely “churn” among the right-wing nationalist options.

        Another way to look at it is to consider the combined tally of the parties that were openly and fully committed to putting an end to the current republic. NSDAP, KPD, DNVP, DVP totaled over 60% of the vote, in both of the 1932 elections. Left or Right, most German voters hated Weimar, and desired a rapid, radical, change in the structure of the state.

        The constitution was broken anyway. The Chancellor had already been ruling by decree for two years. The only period during which the system seemed functional was in the late ’20’s, when there was so much hot money flowing out of the USA’s speculative boom that, for a little while, German bonds could look like some sort of investment.

        In the last analysis, the Weimar Republic lived by the right-wing militas, and it died by the right-wing militias. Weimar was lifted on the shoulders of the Freikorps, and it got trampled under the boots of the SA.

    4. The Rev Kev

      There has also been talk about banning Sahra Wagenknecht and her new party too because reasons.

  12. The Rev Kev

    Yemenis singing a war chant

    “We don’t care, we don’t care, we don’t care! Turn it into a major world war! My heart longs for the rifle! By god this life is forbidden for me. On God’s path bitterness tasted sweet..welcome o’ death, o’ our wish!”’

    That is a massive crowd that. And they know that their tactics are winning. I just read that-

    ‘The cost of transporting cargo through the Red Sea and the Suez Canal, a major waterway for global shipping, have surged over 300% since November, amid Houthi attacks on commercial vessels thought to be Israel-linked, Sky News reported on Friday, citing data analyzed by global logistics company DSV.

    The Shanghai Containerized Freight Index (SCFI), the most commonly used measure of such costs, reached $3,101 per 20-foot container from $2,871 last Friday. The data shows that the overall price of a container being shipped from Shanghai to Europe was reportedly 310% up from prices at the beginning of November.

    … rerouting adds more than ten extra days to the journey and sends insurance bills surging. At the same time, the cost of staff wages has increased, while longer journeys also force the transportation companies to burn additional fuel.’

    1. ChrisFromGA

      That’s going to leave a mark.

      Meanwhile, brain-dead, whacked out on meth Wall Street thinks the Fed is going to cutting rates six times this year.

      Good luck with that!

      1. lyman alpha blob

        My credit union seems to think that too judging by the interest rates it’s paying. Only deposit accounts paying above 1% require a fairly substantial balance to be maintained, most are still paying in the 0.05 – 0.10% range, and CD rates are in inverted yield curve territory – 5% for a 6 month and down to 3% for a 5 year. Not sure if they’re trying to anticipate the Fed or they have bigger problems I’d like to be aware of…. Either way, I’m doing the T-bill thing to get some interest on my savings these days.

        I don’t know what the heck is going to happen, but I’m really getting the feeling it’s time to buckle up.

        1. Screwball

          I’m doing the T-bill thing as well. Treasury Direct is a great thing IMO. Like you say, the bank isn’t paying squat, but T-bills at least make me a little money.

          I’ve wondered, if you buy $10,000 in T-bills with your Treasury Direct account, does it trigger a SAR (suspicious activity report since it is $10,000)?

          That would be kind of funny.

        2. GF

          Our local credit union is paying 4.88% for Propel savings accounts. $100 is the minimum amount needed to open one.

        3. johnnyme

          The interest rates for 1+ year CDs at my local credit union are like yours and are running about 0.5% lower than their equivalent T-Bills and T-Notes so you’re not alone.

          TreasuryDirect is a wonderful thing and I’m kind of surprised, given its age, that it hasn’t been crapified into some gawd-awful public/private partnership or completely shut down like the equally wonderful TeleFile service was.

      2. ilsm

        Quantitative tightening last week bought about $5 billion in new bonds……

        While reverse repo are going down, but it never was in the high earth orbits as in the past few years!

        That is instead of retiring they increased balance sheet “assets”.

        Did the FFR hikes cause a recession?

        If not why throw more money around?

        Politics with the currency!

    2. Es s Ce tera

      All of this noise about increased costs, and Biden in his speech gave costs and economic impact as the primary reason for the strikes, is likely taken by the Yeminis as a positive signal indicating mission success. Great job, America. By all means, tell the Houthis they’re winning, having an impact, encourage more of the same.

    3. Reply

      Turning out that large crowd is a type of color revolution in practice, just not what Hillary had in mind.

      1. Amfortas the Hippie

        i reckon one of those wild haired yelling houthi guys should rightly be on the cover of time magazine.
        i had neglected to learn all that much about them during the last decade(lack of bandwidth).
        now, i’m impressed,lol.
        them people got style…and spunk.
        how does one say “bring it on, moth%%FFckers!” in whatever dialect of arabic they speak?

        1. rowlf

          Pat Lang wrote about working in Yemen. I like when he mentions when his Soviet counterpart’s interests and efforts lined up with his and they helped each other out.

  13. digi_owl

    “With Finkan AB, this can make you really rich aftonbladet Micael T:”

    So “söta bror” is planning to commercialize the prison system?

    Now that the cat is out of the bag, i fully expect Norway to follow suit given a decade. First as an idea push by the right wing, and then “reluctantly” adopted by the Labour Party.

    1. The Rev Kev

      It got so out of control those private prisons in the US that I read about one of those big corporation building a brand new prison out in California. But the remarkable thing was that they did not have a contract with California to do so at their request but they just built it on their own dime. And of course California then proceeded to fill that prison up anyway. Gotta house those cheap firefighters somewhere.

      1. digi_owl

        It will likely not be that bad, as the US system basically gave prisons an exemption when banning slavery.

        But it will likely piss all over the reputation of the Nordic prisons as one of rehabilitation rather than revenge.

    1. mrsyk

      Thanks, I’ve been seeing this pop up in my algos. More than a whiff, I’d say. Money quote found in both the Post and the Dallas News pieces: “They are denying entry to Border Patrol agents to conduct our duties,” the official told the outlet, adding that they are not sure “what authority (Texas officials) have over the federal government.”
      Crickets from team Biden so far.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Well when the duty of the Border Patrol agents was to let everybody in, I can understand that. What did that old TV ad say again? Oh yeah, ‘ Don’t mess with Texas’.

    2. GF

      I read yesterday (can’t locate the link right now) that the Border Patrol is all for this. It frees up Border Patrol agents for other duty. Texas may regret going down that path.

    3. Pat

      Been thinking about this off and on today. Not the migrants, but the political strategy of it. Abbott, with help of the Texas legislature, has once again struck a glancing blow on the feckless Biden administration.
      Barring a true miracle being granted Nikki Haley so that she emerges from the death match with Trump intact and/or the total collapse of the Texas, you are looking at the 2028 front runner for the Republican nomination.

  14. Mikel

    “It was Gonzalo Lira today, it can be any one of us tomorrow.”

    More like another one of us EACH day. Won’t have to wait until tomorrow. I suspect something similiar is happening right now in some regime. Nothing hardly ever don about the persecution of journalists, activists, or whistleblowers before Lira. That’s why it happened to him and is happening now.

    1. Cassandra

      I read that the proximate cause of Lira’s death was untreated pneumonia.

      Julian Assange has been suffering from a number of untreated illnesses for years now and has been confined in a Covid swamp. I am amazed that he is still alive, though he has aged three decades in the last ten years. He is not being held on charges, but is stashed in the British Alcatraz as a favor for a friend for the capital crime of embarrassing the US government.

  15. New_Okie

    >E-Nose Sniffs Out Coffee Varieties Nearly Perfectly Like Shazam but for java, the tech can help quantify coffee signatures

    I don’t know about commercial use for sniffing coffee, but I wonder about medical and military uses. Some dogs can smell all sorts of medical conditions, from diabetes to cancer to covid.

    And I knew a guy who worked on bomb sniffing tech for the military. I don’t know that they ever succeeded–this was during the Vietnam War iirc– but maybe this would succeed where his team failed.



    1. Lee

      APOPO (Dutch: Anti-Persoonsmijnen Ontmijnende Product Ontwikkeling, lit. ’Anti-Personnel Landmines Detection Product Development'[1]) is a registered Belgian non-governmental organisation and US non-profit which trains southern giant pouched rats[1] to detect landmines and tuberculosis.[2] They call their trained rats ‘HeroRATs’.[3] Wikipedia

    1. pjay

      Yes. For me too. I wonder if the fact that his subject was the Ray Epps wrist-slap has anything to do with it. Surely not. From an excerpt posted at another site:

      “The judge in the Ray Epps case is. . . wait for it. . . the fabulous judicial utility infielder, James Boasberg, now Chief Judge of the DC Federal District Court, a big cheese. Yes, the same rascal who sat on the FISA Court during the FBI’s “Crossfire Hurricane” shenanigans, when they fed all manner of fake documents to that court to enable the FBI to conduct warrantless surveillance on Donald Trump’s campaign, and then afterwards on his presidency. It was Judge Boasberg who let FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith off the hook with probation when he was charged with doctoring an email to conceal the fact that FBI target Carter Page had been an active CIA informer in Russia over the years, not just some schlub swanning around the fringe of the Trump Campaign.”

      It’s a small world, especially within the Resistance legal community.

      1. lyman alpha blob

        I read the article with no problem an hour ago, and can still access it with no problem now. Maybe there was just some technical issue earlier?

        Anyway, it was one of the better ones I’ve seen from him recently and worth the read.

    1. Amfortas the Hippie

      King Ned Ludd, where are ye?
      i never worked in a factory, save my grandad’s light industrial sheet metal shop.
      but when i read EP Thompson’s “…english working class”, and got my first lesson in who the Luddites really were, i thought of all the corporate kitchens i worked in, earlier in my “career”….dehuminising and overly regimented(as well as all habitual liars,lol…see that olive garden commercial, exquisite dishes lovingly ladled?…its really tv dinners)
      by the time i got to EPT, of course, i had already figgered ot the gist of the beef about all that for myself….but he gave me better words for it.

  16. CA

    Questions were raised about the Panama Canal and related water conservancy projects and economic viability. China has considered water conservancy necessary for years, even at levels above $100 billion yearly:

    January 12, 2024

    China’s water conservancy investment hits record high in 2023

    China poured in a record amount of nearly 1.2 trillion yuan (about $169 billion) in investment in building water conservancy projects in 2023, aiming to expand the national water supply networks.

    The investment was directed to 27,900 new water conservancy projects in 2023, up 11.5 percent year on year, according to data released by the Ministry of Water Resources on Thursday. Water conservancy construction projects provided approximately 2.74 million jobs last year, an increase of 8.9 percent from 2022.

    The amount of the investment passed the one trillion-yuan ($139.6 billion) threshold in 2022, and continued to climb steadily last year.

    Funding has been viewed as a “choke point” in water conservancy projects as they often require massive investment and long construction periods in order to serve public interests instead of profitable purposes.

    Liu Xiangwei, director of the ministry’s planning department, said at the conference that the record high investment comes from three sources: government spending, financial institutions and private input.

    According to Liu, the investment was used to support projects to better manage floods, build the national water network, improve hydrological infrastructure, and restore river and lake ecosystems, among others.

    1. mrsyk

      I’m jealous. It seems the only foresight to be found amongst our congress critters is the kind associated with outperforming the stock market.

  17. antidlc

    “How Boeing Bought Washington”

    Also by The Lever:

    Nikki Haley Helped Boeing Kill Dark Money Disclosure Initiative

    Following 737 crashes, the GOP presidential hopeful helped crush a proposal to force more disclosure of Boeing’s spending to influence safety regulators.


    Boeing Supplier Ignored Warnings Of “Excessive Amount Of Defects,” Former Employees Allege

    Weeks before Alaska Airlines’ terrifying debacle, one of the aircraft’s manufacturers was accused of systematically ignoring safety problems.

    1. Carolinian

      Here’s an alternate source for the Haley link which merely says she joined a unanimous board in opposing lobbying transparency when challenged by shareholders. Of course there’s no reason for politician Haley to have been on the board at all except as payoff for her role in bringing Boeing to SC.

      The other link on Spirit is more detailed but this seems to be the nut.

      According to Financial Times, after the extended grounding of Boeing’s entire fleet of 737 Max airlines following two major crashes in 2018 and 2019, “the plane maker has sought to increase its output rate and gain back market share it lost to Airbus,” its European rival.

      Spirit, which also produces airframe components for Airbus, has felt the pressure of that demand. As Shanahan noted in Spirit’s third-quarter earnings call on Nov. 1, “When you look at the demand for commercial airplanes, having two of the biggest customers in the world and not being able to satisfy the demand, it should command our full attention.”

      According to the court records, workers believed Spirit placed an “emphasis on pushing out product over quality.” Inspection workers were allegedly told to overlook defects on final walkthroughs, as Spirit “just wanted to ship its completed products as quickly as possible.”

      Dean claimed to have noticed a significant deterioration in Spirit’s workforce after Spirit went through several rounds of mass layoffs in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, despite the huge influx in government funding they received.

      According to court documents, Dean said that “Spirit laid off or voluntarily retired a large number of senior engineers and mechanics, leaving a disproportionate number of new and less experienced personnel.”

      In other words it’s of a piece with the previous complaints of Boeing’s “financialzation” under pressure from Wall Street and an international rival that once didn’t exist. Penny wise pound foolish is obviously a mistake for such a highly visible product where reputation is paramount.

      That said, the reports of the 737 max’s death have been greatly exaggerated. And there’s simultaneously an unrelated fake plane parts scandal going on in the UK. It isn’t just Boeing.

    2. Pat

      The thing I don’t understand is how anyone who is in a position where they travel by plane regularly thinks it is a good idea to let plane manufacturers self regulate and to enable them to bribe regulatory officers to avoid the regulations they don’t oversee.

      Maybe they are just more trusting than I am, but I don’t see any reason to do those things if your goal is to build the safest planes possible. But I do if your goal it is to cut safety precautions in order to make the cheapest plane possible while charging top prices so you can make oodles of money, safety be damned.

      I sincerely doubt that Boeing is sending out weekly updates of which flights have the safest planes for its Board, top shareholders and political assets.(And no one can convince me that private planes are built to better safety standards, so that isn’t necessarily a better option.)

  18. Tom Stone

    I am very glad that Yves got out of the US in time because what happened to Gonzlo Lira will be happening here, perhaps soon.
    Ask Julian Assange if you don’t believe me.

    1. ThirtyOne

      On 9/20/23, American born Ukrainian spokesman Sarah Ashton-Cirillo was fired for making cartoonish threats against journalists, “Next week, the teeth of the Russian devil will gnash ever harder, and their rabid mouths will foam in an uncontrollable frenzy as the world will see a favorite Russia propagandist pay for their crimes […] This puppet of Putin will be the first[…] Russia’s war criminal propagandists will all be hunted down, and justice will be served.”

      Cirillos wiki page makes for interesting reading. My guess is Cirillo fingered Lira.

    2. tegnost

      No, seriously, lambert is his real name!
      I think he lives in chicago…upper west side, you know, by the train tracks…
      no, haven’t seen him for a while…

  19. Wukchumni

    ‘The World I Knew Before Is Gone’: Ecuador Reels After Days of Unrest New York Times
    Ecuador is one of a few countries that have the almighty greenback as their national currency.

    Interesting to see how that plays out if things really come a cropper.

  20. Willow

    >William Lai set to be Taiwan’s next president after opposition concedes
    While DPP won the presidency it was only 40% with 60% voting for the two pro-China candidates (first past the post voting). DPP though has lost the Legislative Assembly losing 10 seats (16% of previously held) which sets things up like what Macron faces in France.

    Not a good outcome for the West and not so great for China.

    *two independents in Legislative Assembly are in effect KMT (Bernie Sanders type) giving 54 seats.

  21. nippersdad

    Marching orders: “Biden called and he wants his oil tanker back.” But, seriously, I wonder what kind of ship the SEAL team was trying to take over on the Somalian pirate coast?

    Not on the Somalian coast, but I have to wonder if they weren’t after that ship that the Houthi’s took a couple of months ago. It has become a tourist attraction, and that cannot be good for Hegemon PR TV.

      1. nippersdad

        That is so pathetically sad. They need to let go of all of that angst, and where did they find the 2.3 bil they gave the crews families? It certainly did not come from North Korea; we are technically still at war with them.

        I am willing to bet that we not only lost a ship, but also had a couple of billion dollars tacked onto the national debt for a PR stunt. Should we hold our breath until they bring up the USS liberty? Somehow I doubt it.

  22. steppenwolf fetchit

    . . . ” The past four years have demonstrated unequivocally that capitalist governments are both unwilling and incapable of fighting this disease. Their primary concern has always been to ensure the unabated accumulation of profits by corporations, no matter the cost in human lives and health.” . . .

    Are there any communist or socialist governments which have done and are doing a good job of fighting and containing this disease? If there are, and they can be documentedly pointed to, we should swallow our pride and learn from them what they are doing and how they are doing it. Indeed, if there are, it would make a case-by-example that a world socialist revolution is worth working for as a way to control the disease.

  23. The Rev Kev

    And out comes the latest lies and fear mongering by the Israelis-

    ” Hamas planned attacking Israeli Embassy in Sweden – Mossad ”

    ‘“Hamas terrorist organization has acted to expand its violent activity abroad in order to attack innocents around the world,” Mossad and the Israel Security Agency said in a statement released by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office on Saturday. It added that the militants planned to attack the Israeli Embassy in Sweden and sought to purchase drones.’

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