Links 1/2/2024

Dear patient readers,

Thanks SO MUCH for your speedy responses to our micro-mini fundraiser. We now have enough cash in the till to pay for more moderation. It’s gratifying to start off 2024 with your votes of support.

Jojo Roper Huge Mavericks Tow Surf in Slowmo 12.28.2023 YouTube (David L)

An Incurable Disease Is Coming for Deer Atlantic (David L) :-(

Death toll in Japan earthquake hits 30 as search for survivors continues BBC. More :-(

Children of the Ice Age aeon

Medical | Map | Planner | Risk Map. Um, South Africa is green? Seriously? With its HIV incidence? Rating must be based on having potable tap waters, a key concern of tourists…

Microbes May Be The Secret Behind Keto Diet’s Protection Against Epileptic Seizures ScienceAlert (Chuck L)

The Brain Circuit Behind Male Libido Has Been Identified in Mice ScienceAlert. Chuck L: “From mice to men.”



Red alert in Antarctica: the year rapid, dramatic change hit climate scientists like a ‘punch in the guts’ Guardian (Kevin W)

The Quest To Make Big Oil Pay for Climate Change New Lines Magazine

Fire-Scarred Redwoods Are Rebounding by Sprouting 1000-Year-Old Buds MyModernMet (David L). Related image coming soon as a plantidote.

The zaï technique: How farmers in the Sahel grow crops with little to no water PhysyOrg (David L)

Landlords in a bind as France imposes tough new emissions rules Financial Times

Don’t Flee the American Southwest Just Yet New York Times (David L)

Amber warning for 80mph gales in London as Britain braces for Storm Henk – as commuters face New Year travel hell on first day back to work with rail lines and roads in chaos Daily Mail


US Pressured Netherlands to Block China-Bound Chip Machinery Bloomberg

Chinese factory activity slows in December in a 3rd straight month of contraction Associated Press

South Korea

South Korean opposition leader is stabbed in the neck by a knife-wielding man Associated Press

South Korea opposition chief stabbed by assailant; motive unknown Reuters

Berta Caceres: Honduras executive jailed for 22 years over murder AlJazeera. Userfriendly: “I’ll be damned, there is some justice in the world.”

European Disunion

Lower it, Deutsche Bahn! Nchdenkseiten via machine translation (Micael T)


‘Operation Al-Aqsa Flood’ Day 87: As millions around the world rally for peace, an Israeli minister calls for ethnic cleansing Mondoweiss (guurst)

As 2024 begins, IDF withdraws 5 brigades from Gaza, but says fighting likely all year Times of Israel

Israel says it will pull out thousands of troops from Gaza Al Jazeera (Kevin W)

No idea if true…but first, the Saudis have been at war with Yemen for what, eight years, with Western weapons. It takes >6 months to move ground forces over…as if the US and UK could find and act effectively v. Houthi positions. Second, the Houthis could torch Saudi oil facilities….which may be why the two sides were well along in negotiating a peace deal:

Tensions in the Red Sea Setting the Stage for WWIII (Kevin W). Useful summary of trade relations and economic interests in the area.

Israeli police fails to stop new mob attack on Jerusalem Armenian Quarter amid ‘land grab’ TheNewArab (Chuck L)

South Africa appeals to the International Court of Justice: Stop Israel’s genocide in Gaza Mondoweiss. Tom H: “First article I’ve seen that delves into the content of the South African filing to the ICJ.”

Chris Hedges: Israel’s Genocide Betrays the Holocaust Scheerpost

Israel must curb spending to avoid market backlash, warns central bank Financial Times (BC)

Israel supreme court strikes down Netanyahu’s judicial overhaul law Guardian (Kevin W)

New Not-So-Cold War

The Russian Art of War: How the West Led Ukraine to Defeat Jacques Baud, Postil (guurst)

“LISTEN TO WHAT HE’S SAYING” Patrick Armstrong (guurst)

Putin vows to intensify strikes on Ukraine after deadly Belgorod attack Al Jazeera (Kevin W)

“Anti retreat” operations are often attributed to Ukraine, but this looks to be a pretty clear-cut example:


Australia went to war in Iraq based on ‘oral reports’ to cabinet from John Howard Guardian (Kevin W)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Irony alert: Lawsuit alleging Chrome’s Incognito Mode isn’t will settle on unknown terms The Register

uBlacklist Google (Mark G). Moar evil.

Imperial Collapse Watch

Highly-contagious infection spread by feces breaks out in Portland as homeless crisis sparks disease common in Third World Daily Mail


Biden’s Other Formidable Opponent in 2024 New Republic


Busloads of migrants being dropped at N.J. train stations to sidestep NYC order

Our No Longer Free Press

Assange’s final British appeal against extradition set for February WSWS

Clown World of the Year Awards – 2023 Alex Christoforu (Chuck L)


Supreme Court’s Chief Justice Focuses Year-End Report on AI Wall Street Journal (David L)

Spectrum’s Top AI Stories of 2023 The AI apocalypse, ChatGPT hallucinations, Nvidia’s success, and more SpectrumIEEE (Chuck L)

The Bezzle

Burned Investors Ask ‘Where Were the Auditors?’ A Court Says ‘Who Cares?’ Wall Street Journal

Private equity groups hunt for new exit strategies as cash piles up Financial Times

The ‘Enshittification’ of TikTok Wired (fk)

Guillotine Watch

$100 Private Jets Have Arrived Thanks To Revolutionary ‘Uber-Style’ App DMARGE (David L)

Class Warfare

Mainstream Economics’ Medieval Inflation Medicine Project Syndicate (David L)

Wayfair’s CEO Wants Staff to Work Harder. Your Boss Probably Agrees. Wall Street Journal

Antidote du jour (CV). Some may recall the earlier shot in this series:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Antifa

    (melody borrowed from Puff The Magic Dragon by Peter, Paul and Mary)

    Joseph Biden’s draggin’, so is Donald Trump;
    Neither man can walk off of the stage if there’s a bump.
    Both men show dementia, both love acting tough,
    And both men lust for power — neither one can get enough.

    Oh, Joseph Biden’s draggin’, Donald Trump is too,
    But they’re the leading candidates, so what are we to do?
    If you contradict them, they fly into a huff,
    But neither guy can grasp what’s going on near well enough.

    They seek our highest office; they aim to make the sale.
    Both hide private crimes that will subject them to blackmail.
    Narcissists completely, neither one knows shame;
    When things go Ka-Flooey neither man accepts the blame.

    Why can’t they both retire? Why can’t they be replaced?
    There’s precious little chance they’ll both live through the coming race.
    Neither one can get there, and so this year you’ll see
    Convention-al shenanigans on your big screen TV!

    We can’t say Never Never since someone has to win.
    Electoral College votes work like a looney bin.
    Money makes things happen, and there is always more.
    Our country’s so divided we are close to civil war.

    Our hearts are filled with sorrow watching these campaigns.
    Existential contests leave a lot of bloody stains.
    The millions they will spend roars like a tidal wave,
    While millions of us live with potholes that have not been paved!

    Oh, Joseph Biden’s draggin’, so is Donald Trump;
    Neither man can walk off of the stage if there’s a bump.
    Both men show dementia, both love acting tough,
    And both men lust for power — neither one can get enough.

  2. The Rev Kev

    ‘A Ukrainian barrier unit has shot at a group of retreating fighters from the Ukrainian Armed Forces, a source familiar with the situation told Sputnik, providing a video taken by a drone to confirm this.’

    It may have been that these Ukrainian soldiers saw that their trenches were compromised so were seeking to retreat to their line in their rear where their numbers could reinforce that line. Instead they were shot down by their own which meant that the Russians would have a much easier time taking that rear trench as there were fewer troops to fight. But at least that video clip had a happy ending.

    1. Not Qualified to Comment

      Haven’t watched the video and won’t, but if the IDF can mistake half-naked men carrying a white flag with hands raised for armed Hamas fighters with evil intent, armed men in a trench seeing men in battledress coming at them from fighting positions might be forgiven for taking no chances.

  3. kana

    “Memories appear in our mind as if out of nowhere without our doing anything other than our desire for them. If the brain is doing that for us, that would mean the brain would have to be intelligently aware of our state of mind, and have the ability to read our desires, and then intelligently respond with words or images which we “hear” or “see” as our memories.” From A Brain Cannot Comprehend Our Thoughts and Desires or: The Way Our Memory Works Proves The Existence of God

    1. Jeff W

      From the Medium post:

      The brain is literally another being, it speaks to us, and intelligently manages our memories vs. something else is doing that.

      There is no third option. One of those has to be true because something is aware of and then responding to our desires for memory.

      [emphasis in original]

      Wow. The “brain” isn’t speaking to “us.” We are speaking to ourselves. The brain isn’t “intelligently aware of our state of mind”—that awareness is one aspect of the covert behavior of the person. The “something” that “is aware of and then responding to our desires for memory” is “us,” the person. The entire piece is a version of Aristotle “copy theory”—where some internal version of something is observed by an internal observer, which raises the question of who or what is the internal observer. But there is no internal observer—it’s simply the person behaving.

      1. kana

        Explain how you conceive and then create thoughts. (No one can do that btw). Then explain how you are able to find a memory (Again, can’t.)

        1. jsn

          So, God is what we can’t know?

          So, I figure most things fall in that category, there’s a lot out there and very little of it is available to our perceptions, God is as good a term for that as any other. Or you could look at it as a repackaging of the mind body problem, but that’s much more mundane. Or maybe I missed your meaning.

          On to other more actionable topics now.

          1. kana

            Whatever is giving you memory and thought HAS to be able to see and understand them. What does that leave other than an intelligence which is totally aware of your every moment? It’s not like there are 100 different possibilities. It has to be conscious of you, it has to be able to understand whatever language you think in. What can do that? There is no choice but one. Very simple.

    2. Not Bob

      This post has been spammed around the internet, first place I remember seeing it is over at MoA. Might want to block in future so we don’t end up with spammers fishing for clicks

  4. Steve H.

    > Children of the Ice Age aeon

    >> one of the most powerful vehicles of cumulative culture is oral storytelling.

    Written stories work well, too, and this piece has several. Thank you.

    1. ex-PFC Chuck

      Yes, this is a great piece. Don’t miss the part about the journal paper entitled ‘Child’s Play: A Distorting Factor in Archaeological Distribution’ (1981) and especially its authors. :-)

    2. The Rev Kev

      This is really a keeper his article and have bookmarked it. After you start reading it you ask yourself why you never thought of the children when talking about people in the ice age. I’ve been to a few of France’s prehistoric caves but never thought about the fact that there would have been children there. I suppose that as soon as they were old enough to stand up off the floor, then the community started to teach them the skills they needed so that they would be able to not only to survive but thrive. To hunt, kill, skin and cut up game. To learn how to start fires, to knap stone for tools and weapons, judge the weather, probably observe the night sky, how to undertake religious practices, know the stories of the tribe as well as the songs. And I bet that at puberty, they could stand independent on their own two feet and were even ready to take a mate.

      1. B24S

        One of my wife’ relaxations is watching a tv show called “Life BelowZero”, which follows a few different folk living in Alaska, including a few Native families.

        As much time is spent hunting, fishing and gathering as a family, as soon as the children can start contributing, they do. As well, they learn the practice of communal support, where the younger folks bring back game, etc., for the elders who no longer can support themselves.

        What a contrast to how so many are raised these days.

  5. Dan S

    RE: Wayfair’s CEO Wants Staff to Work Harder. Your Boss Probably Agrees
    The beatings will continue until morale improves! Oh, to sit through another management “training” where they tell you that employees are not motivated by money or job security, but rather that you just show them some more appreciation and include them in the company “mission.” Such utter B.S. Sorry for my PMC whining. I mean, did the H.R. staff not grow up with people that worked for a living, or at least know someone that did? Or do their brains rot once they are put into their positions? I understand why upper management acts like that as they are sociopaths and nothing more should be expected. The rumor is that the cretins in charge of my Borg cube are thinking about bringing folks back in the office 4-5 days a week. We can’t recruit good staff now and many will take the early retirement should that happen, so that will be the death knell. Mission accomplished?!

    1. griffen

      We are ruled and led by varying degrees of business executives and government leaders with either sociopath tendencies or psychopath tendencies…mostly those with the latter being in Congress forever and a day until death removes them from earth, as well as their position in the US Senate. Dead pool for 2024, looking at you Mitch “Freeze Frame” McConnell !!

      Yeah the corporate bafflegab is going into territory that’s hard to fathom. Work harder, your reward is not increased substantially (or most likely will not be substantial) because of reasons that vary, but hey it’s Food Truck Friday!! Happy Happy Joy Joy All the livelong day. I used to have a certain “actual enjoyment” for my work….but no longer quite the same. 2008 changed my lot in life (I feel lucky that I am finding work now that is fully remote) and my opinion on corporate America.

      1. Feral Finster

        Many of the most successful sociopaths avoid elective office the way Dracula avoids holy water.

      2. sfglossolalia

        I’ve said for a while now that you can’t rise above a certain level in any organization unless you have sociopathic.psychopathic tendencies. And the higher up the more those tendencies will benefit you. How else to explain the utter lack of empathy and ability to lie to people’s faces that is required to “succeed”?

    2. timbers

      Manager I knew at Bristol Myers posted a Linkin propaganda piece of actress and/or employee explaining “its not about the pay its knowing I helped save lives…”. I added a comment “Blatant wage suppression” plus donething about their publically announce billions and billions in stock buybacks. And BMS does. They were my foot in the door, but after 6 months I told them as a contractor you either pay me same rate you’re paying the folks I work with performing the same job, or I’m looking elsewhere. Noticed at some point afterwards, they did adjust pay for contractors up, inline with market rates of pay and co-workers.

    3. sfglossolalia

      I’m in the wonderful situation of facing increasing back-to-office pressure (already 2 days a week). The best part though is that because my company closed several offices during the pandemic all of those people are now remote employees, including my boss and 3/4 of my peers. So I show up to the office but have to do zoom calls to talk to any of my teammates.

  6. The Rev Kev

    “Israel must curb spending to avoid market backlash, warns central bank”

    ‘Governor urges government to start budget tightening this year to pay for cost of war’

    Of course the government could cut back on the money they give to the settlements but that is not going to happen as they fight for every Shekel, even if that money would be better sent on the war effort. Got the feeling that there is something missing in this article as they do not talk on what they want cut back. There is one possibility. About 200,000 people have had to be evacuated from areas like northern Israel and a lot of them are being put up in hotels where the government is picking up the tab. After three months that has gotta be hurting the finances so I was wondering if this is what they want to cut costs on – by chucking those people out of those hotels. But anything to make the market happy, right? Of course the government could ask ordinary people to take them in but if some of those evacuees were hard-core settlers, there would be a risk that they might try to take your house over and kick you out-

    1. ex-PFC Chuck

      With tourism shut down for at least the duration, and unlikely to recover quickly when/if there is still an Israel after the conflict, what else can they do with those hotels?

      1. The Rev Kev

        When this war is finally over how many people will really want to visit Israel and use those hotels? True believers, maybe but ordinary tourists? It would be like visiting Germany in 1939.

        1. ChrisFromGA

          Well, I am afraid that based on my experience, there will be plenty of US Christians (mainly from the evangelical wing) lining up to visit the Holy Lands, once the bombs stop falling and the genocide is completed.

          They’ll probably be lining up to fly over through anti-aircraft flack, once Delta or United starts flying again to Tel-Aviv.

          I’ve been really puzzled by the unconditional support for Israel shown by this sub-segment of Christians. If you go back and read Exodus, God’s covenant with Israel is not unconditional. In exchange for being “God’s chosen people” the Israelites were commanded to have no other gods, and Moses received the 10 commandments which include “Thou shalt not steal” and “Thou shall not murder.”

          There are numerous examples in the Old Testament of Israel suffering as a nation due to failure to obey the covenant. For example, in 2 Kings 17:6-9

          In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria captured Samaria, and he carried the Israelites away to Assyria and placed them in Halah, and on the Habor, the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes. And this occurred because the people of Israel had sinned against the Lord their God, who had brought them up out of the land of Egypt from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and had feared other gods 8 and walked in the customs of the nations whom the Lord drove out before the people of Israel, and in the customs that the kings of Israel had practiced

          I won’t get too judgmental here, but what about murdering kids, doesn’t that qualify as worthy of God’s wrath? And besides the orthodox Jews isn’t Israel just another secular nation that puts mammon before God?

          Is it really worthy of unconditional support, including for acts that are now approaching ethnic cleansing, if not genocide? Where is the conscience of the typical believer?

          1. ex-PFC Chuck

            The end timer Christians want to trigger a final battle of Armageddon. They don’t care about the Jews, who will be cast into the outer darkness along with all other non-believers and their version of Christianity.

            1. scott s.

              I don’t know anyone with those views. The general view through dispensational theology is that Israel exists alongside the church until after tribulation period (when the church is raptured). It can be said there has always been a “remnant” of Israel who remain faithful and as pointed out “And the Lord replied, ‘Then I will not destroy it for the sake of the ten'”. So it is assumed there will be some remnant of Israel consisting perhaps of the “144,000” that figure in the millenium. As far as “triggering” Armageddon I think it’s pretty widespread believed that time and seasons are for God and not man.

              I think the view among many more conservative Christians is that there is a war between Islam and Christianity, and to the extent the state of Israel opposes Islam, then how it does this is immaterial.

              “Where have you gone old Charles Martel?
              Europe turns its lonely eyes to you
              Woo, woo, woo”

          2. Moby

            “Thou shalt not steal” and “Thou shall not murder.”

            To say nothing of private equity and financialization.

            “Userers in the hands of an angry god”

          3. Ellery O'Farrell

            There’s also Leviticus 19:33-34:
            When strangers reside with you in your land, you shall not wrong them.
            The strangers who reside with you shall be to you as your citizens; you shall love each one as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I the Lord am your God.
            (Contemporary Torah, JPS, 2006 in

            Some attempt to say this is restricted to people who haven’t converted but otherwise follow Jewish practices. But that’s not what it says.

  7. ciroc

    What Simplicius shows in the video clip he posted is banal friendly fire by soldiers confused by a sudden enemy attack. He should have a better example of “barrier troops”.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      There are similar claims on Twitter….but no discussion of fine points of the action to substantiate why that reading is more accurate. And others claim this was a fake by Russia, as in apparently hewed too closely to what anti-retreat operations would look like.

      However, I have seen (too often) in Simplicius’ long posts that he can mix topics where he’s provided a great deal of documentation for his claims, and then offer up thinly supported conjecture.

      1. Dan Berg

        Yves: quibble with your quibble ref. M Hudson interview; you refer to institutions created by the U.S. after 1945, implying (I think) that the U.S. purposely CREATED the global $ standard. My understanding is that markets freely chose the $ standard, which means that until such time as global markets find something better, global markets will continue to use the $; and, neither BRICS nor anyone else will CREATE an alternative.

      2. divadab

        “I have seen (too often) in Simplicius’ long posts that he can mix topics”

        Yes and you cannot rely on his translations from Russian or Ukrainian. Too much incongruency with machine translations and captioning – even to the point of diametrically opposed words. [my only evidence as a non-Russian speaker]

        Nonetheless I read every article. As I also read Foreign Affairs – which is by far worse as a source of information other than the wishful thinking of the narrative controllers.

    2. Skip Intro

      At the very end of the video, it looks like one of the fleeing soldiers who reached the first trench, keeps running, and one of the putative barrier troops appears to turn and fire at his fleeing back. That convinced me it could not be a mistake.

            1. undercurrent

              Right. Cemeteries are fields too, and once the Ukrainian troops are positioned deep in those fields, they tend to stay (ka)put.

  8. WillyBgood

    This from the FT pretty much sums up western economics: “In order to get deals done, many private equity groups have deployed financial engineering tactics . . .”. I would put financial engineering as one of the top oxymoronic phrases in the English language.

  9. The Rev Kev

    “Medical | Map | Planner | Risk Map.”

    ‘Um, South Africa is green? Seriously? With its HIV incidence? Rating must be based on having potable tap waters, a key concern of tourists…’

    You know, I have really zoomed that map in a lot but cannot find a red spot for Flint, Michigan or East Palestine, Ohio. Strange that. /sarc

    1. cfraenkel

      On top of that, I would have hoped the HIV comment would have been buried back in the ’80s where it belongs. Everyone *should* know by now that HIV is not transmissible by casual contact. (much less breathing common air!). I suppose, being charitable, there is a slight risk of getting in a car accident and needing a blood transfusion that gets past the testing. But for SA, I’d think the risk of car-jacking is an order of magnitude higher.

  10. zagonostra

    >Multiple Reports that the US and UK are preparing to declare total war on the Houthis and Yemen

    Is it possible that the Brits after failing to stop the American colonies from breaking away and forming the U.S. and after they failed in breaking up the Union after the Civil War, finally were able to get control via financial and other means? Perhaps after squirreling away their money in off-sea “safe-havens” they reconstituted the British Empire into Anglo-American imperialism. Why else is this little island always seemingly following the U.S. in foreign entanglements that doesn’t interest any citizens here, in the U.S. How many people could even locate Yemen on the map…

    [Reminds me of quote from One Year of Living Dangerously that has always stuck with me]

    Krishna says to him, “All is clouded by desire, Ajuna, as a fire by smoke, as a mirror by dust. Through these, it blinds the soul.

    1. divadab

      I had a friend in my misspent youth, a dedicated marxist, whose father was a British soldier in Aden in the early sixties. It’s all about control of trade routes.

      Incidentally, a small anthropological note, my friend worked two weeks on; two weeks off on an oil platform and he told me of organized dances on board the platform – in an all-male environment. Surprised my naive young outlook for sure.

  11. .Tom

    re Arnaud Bertrand’s dump on French Twitter. 1) France’s intellectual class was envied in Europe when I was young. Now it is a secular priesthood with doctrine and discipline. 2) I got the impression from prior UA reporting linked here that France’s intellectual class in the media is even more hard-line anti-Russia than Germany. 3) When the priesthood excommunicates people like Bertrand and @AhmedSaadGaza they have somewhere else to go, i.e. English, that can afford a bigger space. That’s something, I guess. But compare it to the options for the English speaking heretics like NC, who basically have to agree to having small audiences to continue to operate. Or R. Brand, who had to confine himself to heretic’s corner, Rumble. 4) The replies are worth a read. In one someone mentioned that when occupied the French regarded the resisters as terrorists and Bertrand replied that when de Gaulle took over from the Germans, they all became resistance. Can’t find that now.

    1. ddt

      French resistance was a myth perpetuated by deGaulle to restore national pride. My father told me this in the 80s after us seeing the movie “Escape to Victory” with Pele, Sly Stallone, Max von Sydow

        1. vao

          Reinforced by those battle-hardened, fascist-hating ex-republican Spaniards who managed to escape the internment camps in France (the others who did not escape were transferred to Nazi concentration or extermination camps). Their role is acknowledged grudgingly in the hagiographies about the French resistance.

          1. Bob


            See the documentary “Terrorists in Retirement, (Des terroristes a la retraite.). It shows how many of the communist fighters were in fact foreign refugees, largely Jewish. The resistance hid this because they weren’t “real French “ and pointed to problems recruiting French citizens to join the fight. It was actually the Nazis who publicized the role of Jewish resistance fighters, not the French. The film was produced around 1983 and is narrated by Simone Signoret. While I saw the film about 35-40 years ago, what I most remember is that the people interviewed did not shy away from the fact that they were engaging in acts of terrorist violence against the Nazis.

      1. Moby

        “I think I hear the Americans coming, get out the rifle and shoot at the Germans”

        “That’s just a truck delivering bread”

        “Hide the rifle and wait until you can see the Americans before you get it back out!”

    2. digi_owl

      May well be a side effect of the breaking of the European left that was mentioned the other day, as France seems to have been a cornerstone of that until the 80s or some such. Since then the French “intellectual class” may have cast their lot with the anglo/WEF consensus in order to keep their heads above water.

      1. .Tom

        Both are downstream consequences of the dominance of the globalist neoliberal agenda that took the alglosphere by storm in the 80s and spread to the rest of europe a little later. It’s a generational thing now. Today you’ve got to be at least mature middle aged to know, to really know, that things could be different because they were. Younger people are likely to only be familiar with the new liberal fascism (Macron, Blair, etc) and are so used to it they can’t even see it.

        Interestingly it looks like the USA might be the first turning away from this agenda, becoming more protectionist, and trying to domineer trade rather than let it rampage unregulated. Perhaps this is part of why europols/intelectuals so often seem to be overdoing the rhetoric. They are scared that the US invasion they are so obedient to may be going to retreat.

        1. c_heale

          I was expecting the US to come to some agreement with China/Russia about zones of influence as in 1984 in a few years time. But now I think climate change is going to destroy our industrial civilisation before that.

  12. The Rev Kev

    31 Dec 2023
    ⚡ 🇺🇸🇬🇧 Multiple Reports that the US and UK are preparing to declare total war on the Houthis and Yemen’

    If it gets to that point, what if Ansar Allah says that they are shutting down the Red Sea, period. No ships at all. Do the US and UK even know what types of missiles and drones that they may be hiding and haven’t used before? Bombing a country has been the standard fare for decades but if it changes nothing and put those Navy ships at risk, what is the point? To show the world that they are doing something and to look tough? Will it be a version of the Ledeen Doctrine which says that ‘Every ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business’? Those days are coming to a close. So the US & the UK are risking the closure of the Red Sea simply so that Israel can get their ships a bit quicker and not to have to sail around Africa? I do not think that the rest of the maritime world would be too impressed with that. Of course the neocons may be hoping that a US or UK ship gets hit or maybe even sinks. And in that way they can argue that what is really need is a strike on Iran. And John Bolton and Graham Lindsey have been pressing this for days now.

    1. ambrit

      If there is a strike on Iran, then the US Navy will soon learn that even the eastern Med is no longer safe. Israel cannot have ‘stopped’ all of the missiles from entering Lebanon. Plus, who knows what is based at Tartus?
      In such a scenario, I can see America using tactical nukes against Syria and Iran. (Al those, “Evil Putin will nuke the Ukraine!” articles can be seen as a psychological “shaping exercise” in the Information Battlespace. Get the public used to the idea, so as to blunt any dissent when it really happens, from ‘our side.’)
      WW-3 is much closer than we imagine. Started by America no less.
      In a Sign of the Times example, I recently was weaseling around some prepper websites and came across examples of vendors having Potassium Iodode tablets for sale. Go long radionucleotides!

      1. Carolinian

        Netanyahu may want Armageddon but I don’t think Biden does. I will at least give him that much credit.

        But for sure we may be about to see how strongly the tail can wag the dog.

          1. Carolinian

            His beloved Hunter would go with him. However he might stand by passively and let Bibi blow up the world.

            1. undercurrent

              I think that when G.I. Joe quotes Scripture, it might sound something like this, For me to die is gain, for then I shall be with Beau, my beloved son. And it’s no malarkey, everyone else can go to hell.

          2. Carolinian

            Nice Polite Republicrats is on it.

            National Public Radio was even worse. In recent days, the network ran three on-air reports, including one from a correspondent in the region. The broadcasts were uniformly inept. They barely mentioned Israel’s provocative killing of Mousavi. In one, host Leila Fadel asked: “Does the U.S. or Iran really want this to become a regional war?” Somehow, she forgot to add Israel or Netanyahu to her question, although anyone who follows the story using a range of non-U.S. mainstream sources, even including some in Israel itself, would have known to broaden the inquiry.


            What this post is really saying is that Israel may be trying to provoke Iran to attack Israel and bring the US in. But then Israel has been trying to do that for years now. A closure of Hormuz and huge gas price increase will not boost Biden’s dim election chances so it seems unlikely he will take even that bait.

            One hopes.

            1. NYMutza

              You may have things twisted a bit. The US has long been wanting to attack Iran. This goes back to 1979 when the Shah was overthrown. Rather than Israel goading the US into war with Iran, the US is stirring the pot in the Middle East using Israel as a proxy, with the plan to destabilize it to the point that the US can then justify direct military intervention in the region. Professor Michael Hudson brought this up in one of his most recent interviews (linked here on NC).

              1. Carolinian

                But I don’t agree with that take on the situation and believe many others linked here or quoted also wouldn’t.

                Without a doubt there are some in the US like Lindsey Graham and the neocons who want to attack Iran but even George W. Bush said no to them back in the early century.

        1. buryat Tina

          Netanyahu may want Armageddon

          What makes you say this?

          Try listening to Russian tv, or to the North koreans.

          1. Carolinian

            Well the Israelis do have something called The Samson Option. And nuclear weapons do have an Armageddon vibe to them.

            For my own part common sense says that 7 million Jewish Israelis can’t control a Middle East of many many millions no matter how many 2000 lb bombs we give them. And yet that’s alleged goal of Netanyahu’s Greater Israel from the Nile to Euphrates.

            So what makes me say that is what Netanyahu and his current government say. If Israel truly is interested in peace then why is this guy in charge?

            1. buryat Tina

              We all know about the Samson option and understand the vibe. Having an option to do something and wanting something are quite different.

              “7 million Jewish Israelis can’t control a Middle East ”

              Israel is not interested in controlling the middle east and as far as I know, Netanyahu never alleged that his goal was much of the territorial expansion. If you know otherwise a reference would help.
              Russia on the other hand….

              Israel is interested in peace but peace requires a counterparty.

              1. Yves Smith Post author

                Sorry, you are behind the state of play. The cabinet resolved to take Al Aqsa and Jerusalem:

                Israel’s far-right government held a cabinet meeting on 21 May inside a tunnel underneath Al-Aqsa Mosque in a ham-fisted attempt to spotlight Tel Aviv’s “sovereignty” over occupied East Jerusalem and the Muslim holy site…

                “I’m happy to ascend the Temple Mount, the most important place for the people of Israel,” Ben-Gvir said as he toured Al-Aqsa under heavy police protection. “All the threats from Hamas will not help, we are in charge here in Jerusalem and all of the Land of Israel,” he added.

                A spokesman for Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas said Ben-Gvir’s “incursion at an early hour, like thieves, into the Al-Aqsa Mosque courtyards will not change the reality and will not impose Israeli sovereignty over it.”

                Gaza-based resistance faction Hamas said on its Telegram channel that Israel would “bear responsibility for the barbaric incursions of its ministers and herds of settlers.”

                Hamas spokesman Hazem Qasem called on Palestinians to step up their visits and “stand as a rampart in the face of all attempts to defile it and make it Jewish.”

                “This is a dangerous escalation of the religious war waged by the Israeli occupation against the holy city of Jerusalem,” Qasem added.

                Under the ‘status quo’ arrangements, Jordan has custodianship of Al-Aqsa, and non-Muslims may visit but are not allowed to pray. However, extremist settler groups have been increasingly defying the ban under police protection, violently removing Palestinian worshippers every week.


                And Scott Ritter described long form how Isreal’s founders acknowledged that they were committed to the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, that they would not have peace:

                The slaughter and physical eradication of the village of Abu Yahiya, the town of Bersheeba, and the 245 other Arab towns and villages in the Negev by Israeli settlers and soldiers has gone down in history as the Nakba, or “Catastrophe.” The Palestinians, when speaking of the Nakba, do not only address the events of 1948, but everything that has transpired since then in the name of the post-1948 sustainment, expansion, and defense of Zionism that defines modern-day Israel. Israelis do not talk about the Nakba, instead referring to the events of 1948 as their “War of Independence.”

                “Silence on the Nakba,” one contemporary scholar on the subject has observed, “is also part of everyday life in Israel.”…

                Israel, [Moshe} Dyan said, cannot be settled without the “steel helmet and canon’s maw.” War, he said, was Israel’s “life choice,” and as such Israel was condemned to a life of militarized diligence, “lest the sword be stricken from our fist and our lives cut down.”


                And Russia is indeed not interested in territorial expansion (the peace deal negotiated in March 2022 did NOT feature any territorial acquisition) but the West insisted on continuing the war, Russia has concluded that the removal of the current regime in Kiev and incorporating ethnic Russian areas into Russia is necessary for their security.

                1. Acacia

                  Thanks for these links, Yves.

                  Do you by chance know a source for the point about Russia not requiring further territory as part of the March 2022 peace deal? I have looked a little, but most of what I found points to Crimea, not the status of the other oblasts.

    2. Feral Finster

      The US/UK will use sand way way off munitions. They may also use subtle means of persuasion to drag the Saudis and Emiratis back into the war

  13. The Rev Kev

    “As 2024 begins, IDF withdraws 5 brigades from Gaza, but says fighting likely all year”

    It may be that they are withdrawing those brigades as Hamas are mauling them too badly. And the same for Israeli armour too as you see videos of them being hit every other day. Lots of those guys are being released from service to go back to work in the Israeli economy but in a video I watched today, Aaron Maté was saying – if I recall correctly – that a lot of guys have not only lost their jobs but more than a few have lost their businesses as well. I’m willing to bet that more than a few of them will have PTSD after their experiences in Gaza the past three months. Here is that Aaron Maté interview with the Gray Zone’s Max Blumenthal- (24:16 mins)

      1. ArvidMartensen

        There have been interesting snippets of information about this war.
        First is that Egypt warned Israel that something was being planned by Hamas months before it happened, and Israel ignored it
        Second, that Israeli ‘friendly fire’ may have caused numerous civilian deaths on October 7, but Hamas has been blamed
        Third, that all manner of other aggression and mistreatment are being visited on the Palestinians at the moment on the West bank.

        So one could put forward a theory as follows from all of that –
        That the Israelis let October 7 happen so that they could ethnically cleanse Gaza once and for all. And perhaps start on ethnically cleansing the West Bank as well under cover of Gaza news saturation. As in git goin while the goin’s good.
        That the timing of October 7 was good vis-a-vis Israel’s control of the US discourse. Biden is only President for another year. With Biden as President and an election coming in 2024, they thought that nobody in the US government would be game to stand in Israel’s way.

        AIPAC distributes a lot of funds to candidates and no candidate wants to lose the funding, or much worse, become a target for the Israeli religious/military PR narrative machine in the US.
        And also some might say that Biden has always followed the money, and so his rabid support for Israel may have been very lucrative in the past… just sayin.

        And perhaps the irony is that a lot of the money being splashed around by Israel might come from US taxpayers. What you guys call a self-liking ice cream.

    1. vidimi

      it may also be that they’re withdrawing them to ready them for a fight on the northern front. Things are starting to heat up.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        IMHO they withdrew them at least in part because they’ve succeeded in getting a near full media blackout in Gaza. So they don’t have to pretend to be trying to root out Hamas. They don’t need ground troops to accomplish the real mission, which is to exterminate Gazans. Just keep bombing and let starvation take its course.

        Of course those ground forces are also in demand elsewhere.

        1. buryat Tina

          That’s a complete departure from reality. Picture in your mind is helpless palestinians are waiting to be killed. Reality is palestinians are holding hostages and negotiating prisoner release on their terms.

          1. Kouros

            Only the military arm of Hamas, poping out from tunels like preerie dogs has hostages and negotiates. The rest of 2.2 million Gazans are not so “fortunate”. Never mind the Palestinians in West Bank, being killed, arrested, deprived of property, etc…

              1. Morincotto

                If all of Hamas surrendered today the Israelis would cover it up to be able to continue their genocide.

                The only two options always were: killing the Palestinians slowly or killing them as quickly as possible.

                In the end it probably will end up being neither, thanks to the process Hamas started, but that were the options from the israeli government perspective.

                1. buryat Tina

                  You are thanking Hamas for the process they started. What’s the purpose of the ceasefire? Wasn’t it a part of the process in the first place?

              2. undercurrent

                I got a letter today from Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer asking for a contribution to enable his democratic party to retain control of the Senate, but all I could think of was that same filthy hypocrite leading a crowd in DC by chanting, ‘No ceasefire, no ceasefire.’ So just think about it. The Senate Majority Leader of the United States Senate took some time to write me a spiffy little letter, and ask for cash to continue his own private genocide. Imagine the nonsense, the chutzpah. No bloody way. Never again.

                1. buryat Tina

                  Hamas has to be defeated. If you disagree with it, what’s the point to blame Schumer. You are on the opposite sides of history. If you agree, and know how to defeat Hamas peacefully let us know.

                  1. Offtrail

                    Hamas’ terms are reasonable. Israel should accept them. That would be a defeat for neither party.

                    Israel is doing itself terrible, perhaps irreparable damage with this assault.

                  2. Late Introvert

                    If you know how to defeat Zionism peacefully please do let us know, we would like that very much.

                  3. undercurrent

                    Many years ago I read about two men, both involved in the politics of running a city, having a heated argument. The first said, ‘Someday the people will lose their senses and kill you.’ The second replied, ‘Someday the people will come to their senses and kill you.’ At least, that’s the way I recall reading the story. It didn’t have a happy ending.

          2. Not Qualified to Comment


            Reality is 2 million palestinians including >1 million women and children… .holding hostages and negotiating prisoner release on their terms while they starve to death if disease doesn’t get them first.

  14. Carolinian

    The New Republic–

    But MAGA promotion isn’t the only thing, or even the main thing. Fox is an anti-Biden meme factory. If Biden pauses during a speech, or appears to lose his footing on a podium, the network will cut and loop the video for hours, making the president look demented, as every guest is invited to banter about his age. “They frame him as both a doddering old fool who is suffering from dementia and a mastermind who is secretly plotting things,” said Juliet Jeske, among a small group of researchers who log Fox broadcasts daily.

    When Fox isn’t looping selectively cut video of Biden, it is trying to prove he is such an evil genius that he pulled off a grand financial scheme with his son without leaving a trace. At other times, Biden is a mere front man, and Obama is secretly running his administration.

    But but….

    The article rambles on in this vein for many paragraphs so I may have missed where it delves into how the Dems have flattered Fox by imitating it via CNN and MSNBC’s Maddow with her yarn diagrams. Murdoch–certainly a villain–gave them a shove but he didn’t have to push very hard. And the implication of the piece is that Biden’s age and dementia must be carefully covered up as though they are the same thing as FDR’s crippled legs. Uh no. We need a president who can think. Walking is optional. So love it or hate it (and I never watch any of them) Murdoch’s Biden bashing is the Lord’s work.

    1. Jason Boxman

      The Dominion lawsuit settlement cost Fox a cool $787.5 million. The money was perhaps less damaging to the brand than the evidence. The plaintiffs acquired texts and emails showing a “news” division reporting statements it knew to be lies as fact, anchors being deeply cynical about journalistic practice, and an enterprise willing to take a sledgehammer to the foundation of American democracy—trust—all in order to keep its lucrative position as broadcaster to the MAGA movement. In the wake of the settlement, Fox is a “news” operation in name only. It has dispensed with all standard practice. It routinely ignores landmark events—congressional hearings on the worst assault on the seat of American democracy since the war of 1812, indictments of a former president, numerous guilty pleas by fascist insurrectionists, for example—if they are unfavorable to MAGA.

      I’m not sure I can even finish, the author of the TNR piece is functionally stupid. I guess asleep throughout Russia-gate? The real concern for America “democracy” is people in positions of power that can’t rub two brain cells together, and this was before COVID brain damage.

    2. griffen

      Well it’s New Republic so I appreciate your reading to spare my own need to look anymore than necessary. Blech. With Joe Biden as POTUS, America has never had a better economy and jobs are so plentiful you can get a second one if falling inflation has yet to appear in your wallet as a “No doubt, net positive”. Believe and listen! I found the gold nugget of “American Democracy” mid way down the page. This is Animal Farm territory, we must let the better ones lead us onward.

      Dinner last evening with a few mid-20s individuals…the dream of buying a home is strictly that at this juncture. A dream, maybe see a glimmer of “distant hope” should mortgage rates decline in 2024.

  15. John Beech

    Walk a mile in another’s shoes is always good advice. So when I read the machine translated article about Deutsche Bahn where a climate conscious person discovered cars are actually useful because she walked a mile in the shoes of those for whom mass transit isn’t an option, I smiled.

    Puts me in mind of all those folks who belittle pickup truck owners because they see them as behemoths driven by men of small penis because they don’t see them loaded or pulling a trailer. Basically, they make assumptions based on their own limited experience.

    This then leads me to ponder Chaucer’s glass houses and stones. Me? I own a car, truck, *and* airplane and am beyond tired of suffering the slings and arrows of those without my life experience. Doesn’t stop those who have never walked in my shoes from opening their yaps and judging.

    Anyway, I find humor when someone is hoist by their own petard. Interesting article in that the youngster fessed up. Seems rare to find those willing to open their eyes, change their minds/opinions *and* speak up/confess.

    Especially the last part as few also recall follows hubris.

    1. nippersdad

      Speaking as someone who also owns a car and a truck, I don’t think they are belittling truck owners for merely owning trucks. They are belittling them for owning a truck with back seats and butt warmers, one that is taller than the guy riding in it and is polished better than his shoes. IOW, someone who is trying to make a silly point, and their silliness is being pointed out to them.

      If you can spend sixty thousand dollars on a truck you are not likely in need of transportation. so walking in the shoes of those with insufficient means of transport is not the point being made by those pointing and laughing at the spectacles they make of themselves. I don’t think that something with room for eight being consistently used for one at the expense of getting four miles to the gallon going over a cliff was the point being made by the climate conscious person opining on the usefulness of cars. But, obviously, my mileage varies.

      1. ambrit

        Also, the way the American CAFE standards are worked out, or perhaps “worked” is better, carmakers get better results selling physically larger trucks into the American market. (We spent less for our ‘fixer upper’ house than many pickup trucks cost now. Go figure.)
        Elsewhere in the world, there are small trucks used, such as the Japanese Kei trucks. Someone here in the Half Horse town has a Suzuki version of the style. As long as you don’t need to haul short tons of stuff, it does just fine.

        1. Carolinian

          I believe a lot of those big trucks get a tax subsidy as a commercial vehicle.

          The Section 179 tax deduction allows eligible businesses to deduct the cost of machinery and qualifying equipment when filing their taxes. This could be office furniture, technology, supplies, and other tangible items. YES – this includes vehicles!

          Autos may be passenger vehicles, heavy SUVs, trucks, and vans that are purchased and put into use in the same year. A Section 179 tax deduction vehicle can be purchased new or used but the vehicle must be utilized more than 50% of the time for business purposes.

          And I’m sure all of those monster truck owners strictly adhere to the rules. So blame Congress and maybe the farm lobby.

          1. NYMutza

            Those tax deductions keep realtors in Mercedes-Benz, Lexus, Audi, and BMW automobiles. The entire tax code is one huge scam.

      2. John Beech

        My truck is a 1974 Chevrolet. I bought it used in a moment of need and never got rid of. So I’ve owed it almost 30 years because it’s too useful to not own. Not driven a lot but if it were wrecked, then I’d write a check for a replacement, and it would be shiny, and the hood would be taller than me, and would likely cost *more* than the $60k you quote – or at least based on what I’ve heard, recently.

        Like, have you been to a Ford or Chevy dealership recently to see the alternatives? A Maverick is unobtanium, and totally inadequate for the job, regardless. Why? Because when I need the truck it’s to tow a 24′ Featherlite trailer so the truck has to be a real truck, not a toy.

        Oh, and do you seriously posit a working man doesn’t deserve to have his ass warmed in winter because he drives a work truck but someone buying an Accord does? Surely I mistook your intent.

        Meanwhile, my neighbor leased a Silverado about three years ago. Replaced an F-250 that was maybe three years old. Replaced a 3 y/o Ford Expedition, that replaced a 3 y/o Ford Excursion before that one. Just bought a Mercedes GLS SUV to replace the Silverado because he likes my truck.

        Speaking of which, it’s a Mercedes G-wagon – yet I’ve been belittled here in NC for saying it’s a good buy. Me, who has driven it since 2004 – yes, closing on 20 years. Meanwhile, another good friend is on his 5th or 6th Yukon since my G so who has spent less real money? I posit it’s me who got the better bargain despite the much higher up front cost. Capital investment is always what you make of it, it’s why I hire a bean counter.

        Anyway, I posit it’s me, who ponied up a tad over $120k back then (and then paid cash for the prenegotiated residual when it came off lease two years later), who made the better deal. But my pal who leases a new one every three years, and just turns them in, swears he’s better off. Seemingly simple math, figure about $32k back in 2004, then three years later about $45, then three years later about $55k and so on until this SUV, at about $90k? But when you look at what he was trying to accomplish, he makes a cogent argument, just not one that persuades me that would be best for my business situation. But that’s what the tax attorney is for.

        Note; both my friend and neighbor are businessmen like me, they buy what suits them best. Speaking for myself, I certainly don’t apologize for my success. But neither am I getting a new one every three years. I could. The business can certainly afford it, but I don’t drive much and even when you depreciate the vehicle, you can’t sell it and pocket the money, everything is accounted for.

        But you get to write it off say the sheeple. You get to expense, or writing it off. This is both true, and a fiction mouthed by those who don’t understand how capital assets work. Expensing, or a write-off does increase expenses on the income statement. But you have to be making money in the first place. A lower income statement means a lower profit and thus, lower taxable income. That may, or may not be handy. It depends.

        Regardless, it’s not yours for free to keep (the typical supposition) since at some point you sell the asset and then account for the income. Sad you can’t avail yourself of this? You can! Start a business, make money, pay taxes. It’s the American way! Every freaking law is written to advantage business. We’re a capitalist society. Nothing stopping you but you. E.g. are you able to make money. Everybody isn’t or everybody would own a business.

        And sure, there were once tax breaks for aircraft ownership, but I’ve never (not even one time) used it for going on vacation. It exists for work else I wouldn’t have it. Same a buying a CNC mill, it’s not decorative – it’s a tool for making money for the business. Heck, I haven’t had a vacation in the 40 years that I’ve been signing the front of the pay checks!

        But the CEO of such-and-such luxuriates in his Gulfstream bleat the sheeple. Well sure he does, do you think they offer one with Alcantara instead of Nappa leather? Nope, when an avionics suite costs $1MM, or more, the guts padding the people are a rounding error. Meanwhile, the guy/gal being transported from headquarters to a plant and then another plant before getting back home the same day is working the whole time. Ordinary folks? Working stiffs? If they’re going for work they’re in business class and I can promise you, not goofing off. Laptops open but not playing solitaire or on Facebook, or doom-scroling their phone. Almost to a certainty elbows deep in a spreadsheet. Basically, the CEO, COO, upper management are always working during the flight.

        But it’s inefficient, and so what’s the alternative to business class or 1st class – with the attendant hours of delay before each flight, which the hoi polloi must endure? A corporate flight. Or is that wrong for egalitarian reasons?

        Look, these people earn so much money an hour of their time is weeks or months of the labor of an ordinary worker bee. But that’s not fair say the sheeple? Maybe not, but you can hire 100 accountants and never et the savvy of COO. So it takes a 1000 worker bees pay to equal one genuine CEO. But you can replace a worker bee in an hour whilst a CEO search can take months or years. Maybe not quite the same as Lebron James’ value to the Lakers, but not far off either. Neither you, nor me, could replace Lebron no matter the level of enthusiasm and hard work, so don’t fool yourself thinking you could replace a Jack Welch at GE, either.

        Speaking of which, back in the day when the whole face of GE’s business was changing (when Mr. Welch was desperately striving to keep the house of cards from imploding), shareholders remunerated him handsomely. And not out of generosity, but out of self-interest (as always). Why? Simple, because they had decided on him to save what he could of the old line business (remember, this happened at a time when capital had decided to go offshore at the behest of government). Yes, it was at government’s direction that capital worked to open China, same as NAFTA, and create the rust belt. Government makes treaties, business follows. The idea back then was war-war was better, lower prices would be better, and they threw the union jobs off with great enthusiasm. Now the chickens are coming home to roost but look at the ES economy in the last 40 years? It would take a blind man to argue it’s not throwing off the equivalent of more free cash flow than ever before.

        Back to Jack Welch and GE, it’s easy to poo-poo how things went, but me? I think 20-20 is always easy for Monday morning quarterbacks writing opinions pieces.

        Anyway, and circling back to new pickups, what choice would I have to forking over $60-80k for a new heavy duty rig? That’s what the dealers have and dealers aren’t forcing them on people, it’s what customers want.

        Oh, and this very website’s name? NAKED CAPITALISM.

        1. nippersdad

          ’93 Dodge Dakota, bought fresh off the lot for eleven thou, here.

          That is an awful lot of verbiage, dude, but I am happy to reciprocate. I didn’t ask how you rationalize your purchases, I pointed out how they are seen by the worker bees whose labors have made you so wealthy. The workmen I know do not drive those monstrosities because they ARE NOT commensurate with the needs of, wait for it, workmen. They are there so that those who have a spare sixty plus grand can compare their….bank accounts.

          I am a member of those clubs, and I can tell the difference between those trucks in the parking lot at Native Plant Society meetings and those of the Chamber of Commerce.

          I can remember when people were still talking about street cars, and you could commute from Birmingham to Atlanta using passenger rail. The woman whose family home we bought, fifty miles outside of Atlanta, used the train to get into town, and used the same station in the neighborhood in Atlanta that I grew up in to get off of the train to get onto the street car that would take her down town. The station she got onto is about a hundred feet from my house, but it no longer exists. I had to commute using a car. Not my choice, just what I could afford.

          My Dad was an urban designer who gave us such places as Peachtree City, Alpharetta and Johns Creek. I remember back when I was a kid asking why the need for all those highways when you could just go to some of the trashed parts of the city and rebuild them at higher densities. He told me that “this is what I do.” Ten years later I had to move out of the city because it had become unaffordable, thirty years later you cannot get there from here, but a lot of people made a hell of a lot of money and most of North Georgia is now paved over.

          Yes, this place is called “Naked Capitalism”, but has it ever occurred to you that we would have been just as happy living in our home towns with a legacy mass transit system? Many of these processes were not necessary, like making the US difficult to navigate without a car, just so that people like you could buy a plane and brag on a blog about how much money you made in what might have been a similar process.

          It is not all about you, dude. It is not all about how much money you have or how many paragraphs you can devote to rationalizing it. Half the country is poor; two thirds are living paycheck to paycheck. There is a point in every society where the people such as yourself have screwed are out looking for the shiny car to pillage, and how you can justify it will not protect it. I think we are about there, but now that I live in a dusty backwater I doubt they are going to notice the rusty truck out front that was bought so I could enter the property market by renovating a shack while paying off my Wife’s college bills.

          We may not have “made it” but we also didn’t make it at everyone else’s expense. A little modesty and introspection might be worth the investment of some of your time, because, as I mentioned in my first comment, there are a lot of us who simply are not impressed.

          1. jhallc

            Last truck I owned was a 2003 Nissan Frontier. Bought it Used in 2010 with 102K on it for $6200. 2 WD 5 speed with bench seat and roll up windows. Built an addition and a stone chimney during the time I owned it. Sold it to a local kid with a lawn mowing business in 2014 for $3400. Borrowed my landscaper friends 1987 Chevy C30 summer vehicle during the winter of 2020 to make the runs to the lumber yard when I bought my fixer upper in December 2019. Now I rely on delivery or will rent a truck for the few times it makes sense to use one. One of the best work vehicles I ever owned was a 1996 Ford Windstar. With the back seats out, it held a ton of material and kept it dry as well. No self respecting truck aficionado would ever be caught dead in one of those:)

            1. nippersdad

              “No self respecting truck aficionado would ever be caught dead in one of those:)”

              Yep. A cousin of mine bought one of the first monster trucks around ’04. He was supposedly trying to renovate houses and then flip them; long story, but we all got to pay for it when the banks crashed in ’08. Anyway, he had to borrow money to fill the tank to get to the next town, and then borrow more to fill it up again and get back. The thing ended up being a driveway ornament while he borrowed mine to carry his stuff around right up until the bank had it towed off for him.

              They may have their uses, but there just ain’t that many people out there that really need to tow cattle cars or Garage Mahals around to justify their popularity. Something else is up with the people that buy those things, and it is not a sudden overweening need to identify with the working classes.

          2. griffen

            Not to toss a stone in the water to cause a ripple, but these comments have surfaced before. Telling anyone in the commentary who are not mathematicians and engineers that we don’t know squat about Boeing keeping their flipping airplanes aloft in the air. Point to make, the real purpose of an airline flight is getting from A, to B, and arriving alive and safely at point B. Just one example.

            We’re lucky to be so enlightened, of course.. And we’re also mean for punching down on Jeff Bezos who just loves life. I just don’t like this tone at all…and I am being polite.

        2. AndrewJ

          Of course you, of all people, would hold up Jack freakin’ Welch as a exemplar of good leadership. We get all sorts of viewpoints here, and it’s “nice” to get one that honestly believes that our country, that you know as well as anyone else only benefits the capitalist business owner, should stay the way that it is. Everyone else is “sheeple” that need to accept their position in the herd, get their fleece shorn and wealth extracted, and if they don’t like it, well, they better start a business then!

        3. NYMutza

          The CEOs flying around in private jets are working all the time? You really believe that? If you do, that is some strong stuff you are using.

        4. CA

          Yes, it was at government’s direction that capital worked to open China, same as NAFTA, and create the rust belt….

          [ Forgive this objection. I know of no government direction to business to open China, nor did capital work to open China as opposed to taking advantage of an already opened China to invest in.

          As for Jack Welch, the idea was to turn GE into a bank rather than to better GE’s manufacturing range and capability. A widely applauded, but foolishly disastrous idea. Manufacturing had taking GE through the Depression. ]

    2. Jason Boxman

      Wait. You need your own airplane? Egads! I can’t entirely argue about trucks. Sure, I’m not seeing them fully loaded. Any of them. Ever. But, okay.

      But an airplane.

      Sorry, no.

      1. John Beech

        Jason, you own an airplane if you need one. Same reason you own a car instead of taking the bus. What started this discussion was my appreciation for an article written by someone who never needed a car until it dawned on them they faced a new reality. They were writing about the uncomfortable discovery they couldn’t depend on the trains for transport and needed wheels. Pretty much describes 100% of the people in America who own a car. Everyone loves to point to Europe and Japan but what they fail to appreciate is the sheer SIZE of America. Combine both and they’re the USA east of the Mississippi. And have more history.

        My airplane? I need to be in Tampa, Charleston, and Jacksonville tomorrow. Then I need to be in Miami on Thursday and back here (Orlando) on Thursday afternoon. Couldn’t possibly drive it. Couldn’t possibly do it via commercial. And I’m not a machine. I like sleeping in my own bed.

        So an airplane isn’t for fun, it’s a tool for making money. That’s what I do. And the airplane lets me make more of it. Not patting myself on the back, stating the obvious, That I’m good at what I do is obvious on inspection, else no airplane. And without me signing the front of the paychecks, others don’t get to sign the back of one (figuratively since we’ve gone electronic like everyone else).

        Note, not a jet. Dinky one, 4-seats, one with propeller. Does the job.

        1. NYMutza

          What kind of work are you doing that requires you to be in all those cities in a single day? If I recall correctly, the Secretary of State is named Antony Blinken. He flies in a jet. Many business people are chock full of themselves with their self-importance. Nowadays there is plenty of technology available that precludes the need for in-person visits. Even flyovers of property can be done with drones.

          1. divadab

            False equivalence. Blinken is a net negative in the world. The chief diplomat of the US of A who refuses to speak to to his Russian counterpart like a middle school mean girl. Blinken swore that sending weapons in support of Israel’s genocide was so critical to US interests it didn’t need to go to the Congress for review and approval. A traitor. A total nogoodnik.

            Mr. Beech in contrast has to pay his own way and to actually please customers who pay him the big bucks – because he does a good job. The world needs more Beech;s and less Blinkens.

            1. meritocracy

              They’re the same person. Both think way too highly of their intellect. Luck is their best asset, which no one is EVER allowed to say.

    3. upstater

      The writer is a cook that cannot afford rent in the city… how much do you think buying, insuring, licensing, operating and parking a car in a city like Frankfurt might cost? Do you suppose low iron mid-wage German workers can afford this? Frankfurt is the financial capital of Germany and home of the ECB. It ain’t a cheap place to live or drive! Frankfurt ain’t Ocala or anything like central Florida.

      More to the point DB has a published schedule of services it provides. Her complaint is DB fails to deliver as promised. Like Amtrak, Long Island Railroad or SEPTA, it is incapable of providing the service the country needs.

      Of course, nearby Switzerland has a rail and transit system unparalleled in western Europe. It works like a charm. But is the exception. You have to go to Russia, Japan or China to see systems designed to serve the public.

  16. Jason Boxman

    Welcome to “health care” in America in 2024.

    “Request a Physical ID Card”: Result?

    Big red exclamation point: “We’re not able to submit your request right now. Try again later.”

    Instead, you can install “the app” on your smartphone that, of course, everyone in America has, yeah?

  17. Adam1

    “The Quest to Make Big Oil Pay for Climate Change” I love the title. It immediately made me think of a fantasy video game. Of course the concept itself is a fantasy.

  18. The Rev Kev

    “Clown World of the Year Awards – 2023”

    It’s a good video and is in a way a review of the past year. But Alex had a tough job deciding who was the biggest clown as the competition was so fierce. But his choice for number one clown cannot be argued with.

  19. CA

    Glenn Greenwald @ggreenwald

    Both Reagan and Bush 41 not only denounced Israeli aggression as harmful to US national security, but repeatedly threatened — often successfully — to cut off American financing if it continued.

    But this was the last time any American president tried that with Israel:


    9:47 AM · Jan 2, 2024

    * Governor Bill Clinton immediately accused Secretary Baker of anti-Semitism.

    1. ThirtyOne

      Is Bill Clinton John Doe 036?

      Former President Clinton is going to be identified as one of several John Does in previously redacted documents related to convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, according to ABC News. Clinton is mentioned more than fifty times in the redacted filings, according to court records accessed by ABC News. When Maxwell’s lawyer sought Clinton’s testimony Giuffre’s legal team described it as “highly relevant” and “important to the fundamental claims and defenses” in the case.

    1. Carolinian

      Yes that NYT piece had a bit of a Chamber of Commerce vibe. Even if the water isn’t an issue then months of over 100 highs should discourage those who like to spend any time outdoors. This is why a sizable chunk of the Phoenix population are “Snowbirds” who leave in the summer/autumn.

      For a friend who lives there the real issue is not people fleeing but people coming. She used to live out in the boonies. Now it’s packed with development. The real estate industry is one major or perhaps the major driver of the economy. So there’s no stopping it.

      Once regular temps reach 120 instead of 110 you won’t be able to flee or come as the airport will be closed.

      1. chris

        The problem being places like Arizona don’t have much to offer besides construction projects in the way of a tax base. If you’re not building new developments you’re going to see a recession in the state. The local grid out that way is in severe need of maintenance, so come the high temperatures during the summer we will see a lot of heat related injuries once the AC stops working.

        I do wonder how long they’ll keep the con going. Given the value of a property in the desert with no access to water is effectively zero dollars, when will the market force that realization on all the owners? When will the local utilities admit that their estimates of the aquifer resources don’t include the bottom portions which are contaminated with all kinds of heavy metals? When will the underwriters for new mortgages stop approving new loans? I’m not sure you can even insure a property with no access to water.

        I think Texas will be OK. I think parts of NM will be OK. I think Las Vegas will be OK. I think all of Arizona is screwed. I think most of California is going to wither away too. I’ll be surprised if things don’t hit the fan starting this year to accelerate next year and the year after. I’ve been telling family and friends to head east while they can. Pretty sure they won’t have that option after 2025.

    2. Angie Neer

      Rick, the one point that I found persuasive is how much of the water goes to farming: far more than if the same land is switched to residential. And of course the only reason AZ was ever good for farming was the availability of artificially cheap water. But the point that was missing is how much energy cooling and transporting all the people takes. On the other hand, they’ve got plenty of scope for solar energy.

  20. Ken Murphy

    “ Private equity groups hunt for new exit strategies as cash piles up”

    Hmmm…seems to me that maybe PE could use that money to, oh, I don’t know, maybe use the capital to start new businesses that will grow the economy?

    OK, sorry, stop laughing. Just letting my naïveté out for a stretch. We all know it’s naught but looting and pillaging for the PE folks.

  21. Jason Boxman

    To be fair, Wayfair does have craft beer on tap at the Backbay office in Boston, so, definitely work harder!

    1. Henry Moon Pie

      Back before Prohibition, the guys in the print shop at Concordia Publishing House in St. Louis drank nothing but Augie I’s beer. Augie II still personally delivered a couple of kegs of his beer to Concordia Seminary into the 90s. It was the closest thing to a rapprochement between the (real?) Lutherans and Rome since the Augsburg Confession.

  22. CA

    China has experienced a fine year of economic growth, with GDP apparently having expanded between 5.2 and 5.4%, and more importantly with remarkable gains in hard and soft infrastructure and technology advance.

    Remember that for Robert Solow, technology advance was the prime driver of economic growth. As for technology advance in China, United States policy is designed to prevent and undermine Chinese technology advance and the results of such advance are routinely shut out of the US:

    January 2, 2024

    Chinese scientists develop high-performance hydrogen fuel cells *

    Chinese scientists have developed a proton exchange membrane fuel cell with ultra-high volumetric power density, more than 80 percent higher than the performance of mainstream counterparts.

    Led by Jiao Kui, a professor at Tianjin University’s School of Mechanical Engineering, the team redesigned the proton exchange membrane fuel cell’s architecture, incorporating new components and optimizing the gas-water-electric-heat transfer routes.

    The team created an ultra-thin and ultra-high power density fuel cell. They eliminated traditional gas diffusion layers and flow channels by using ultra-thin carbon nanofiber film produced by electrospinning technology and metal foam.

    This progress has contributed to a 90 percent reduction in the thickness of the membrane electrode assembly and an 80 percent reduction in mass transfer losses caused by reactant diffusion, nearly doubling the volumetric power density of the fuel cell.

    The research team estimates that the peak volumetric power density of the fuel cell stack using the new structure will reach 9.8 kilowatts per liter.

    Hydrogen fuel cells are regarded as one of the most promising technologies in the application of hydrogen energy. Increasing their volumetric power density, however, remains a significant technical challenge.


    1. CA

      August 4, 2014

      Real per capita Gross Domestic Product for China, United States and European Union, 1977-2022

      (Indexed to 1977)

      China in 2022 was 26.3% larger in GDP than the European Union, and 20.8% larger than the United States.


      China ( 30,762)
      European Union ( 24,357)
      India ( 11,901)
      United States ( 25,463)

      1. CA

        “Now make it robust enough to survive thousands of hours under variable load, the bane of fuel cells.”

        Surely so.

        The point is that China has been steadily making such technology advances, while US policy is meant to undermine Chinese technology advances and stop them from being adopted abroad. Since the passing of the Wolf Amendment in April 2011, which was meant to limit Chinese space exploration and development, to the continuing attacks on Huawei, the attempt has been to undermine Chinese technology advance and so Chinese development.

        US efforts to undermine Chinese technology advance and development have already become anew in 2024.

  23. caucus99percenter

    > Lower it, Deutsche Bahn

    Aaargh. “Lower it” = complete obtuseness typical of machine translation.

    “Senk ju” in the original text is a humorous phonetic approximation — common among German speakers — to the phrase “Thank you” in English. It has nothing to do with the verb senken (to lower).

    1. digi_owl

      I suspect more like “thank you, EU” because i suspect the state of the German railway comes down to EU directives on competition.

  24. Tom Stone

    A friend and his wife just returned from their European vacation, Covid positive.
    They plan to isolate for three days on the recommendation of their Doctor…

  25. jonboinAR

    re: Jojo Roper Huge Mavericks Tow Surf in Slowmo
    Fully awesome barrel! I once lived in San Carlos, nearby. I visited Mavericks a couple of times to watch. You climb a slippery, muddy hill. The wave, what with the deception caused by distance, initially doesn’t look like too much, maybe 6 ft, breaking in the directions of the rocks which you assume are a couple of hundred yards offshore, maybe. Then, suddenly, you realize that if that wave is 6 ft, then the surfers out by it are only 6 inches tall, and you go holy shoot, that’s a big wave! One thing that helps you realize that the reef the wave is breaking at is WAY offshore is that the surfers paddling out take like 20 minutes, if not more, to get out there. The times I visited it wasn’t as big as the recent swell. Smaller, kind of mushy – no barrels.

  26. Matthew G. Saroff

    I’m not sure if UBlacklist is evil, though Its name clearly is. (I would have called it “Plonk,” or possibly,” Killfile.”)
    The idea that an addon can be used to empower the indual user, albeit in a small way, the ensh%$tification of Google search is a good thing.
    It’s also not a Google product, it appears to be the project of a single programmer who goes by the name of iorate.

  27. Henry Moon Pie

    Gay’s resignation went out to Harvard alums about 30 minutes ago. She wrote “with a heavy heart but a deep love for Harvard.”

  28. GDmofo

    Has anybody tried using uBlacklist on I’ve tried just when I search for something, but and whatever else will just fill the results instead.

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