Links 1/27/2024

Dear patient readers,

We appear to have cured what had become a serious problem with the mod queue over the last couple of weeks. Nearly all comments were going straight into moderation. I had an idea as to what had caused it but merely undoing that didn’t change things. But then Lambert decided to clear caches and viola! things are much better. Hopefully regulars will see the difference. Thank Lambert for his intervention.

Total solar eclipse April 8, 2024: The longest and most visible for the US in 100 years Space (furzy)

How cells from other family members live in you and protect your health New Scientist (Dr. Kevin)


SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19: From Crisis to Solution WHN Science Communications (guurst)


The Rooftop Solar Industry Could Be On the Verge of Collapse TIME (BC). !!!!

New satellite images catch world’s worst polluters red-handed: ‘Now we really know exactly where it’s coming from’ TC (furzy)


China containment becomes a lose-lose strategy for everyone South China Morning Post (furzy)

The UN China Review Finds Unprecedented Support for Tibetan Rights by Member States, While Beijing Shuts Down Criticism Central Tibetan Administration (furzy)

The politics of physiocracy Branko Milanovic (Micael T)

European Disunion

View from London: Five European ‘tribes’ for five European crises International Affairs (Micael T)

Europe’s Trump challenge: Is it ready to fight Vladimir Putin alone? Politico

EU commission chief hopes for ‘consensus’ with protesting farmers RT

Study: Record sickness rates are pushing Germany into recession Business Panorama via machine translatio. Micael T: “Oh, of course, the employees being sick is the reason. Nothing to do with gaspipelines, companies moving production abroad, greedflation and everything else.”

Venezuela Activates Plan to Neutralize Coup Attempts TeleSUR. Micael T: EU would need this too in order to chase out the US occupants.”


Gaza’s economy has been erased. Famine and black markets are all that remain. Mondoweiss. From a couple of days ago, still germane.

Houthi Red Sea crisis rages on as US admits its impotence and begs China to help InfoBRICS

‘Thank God for the Houthis’: why Arab world is backing Yemen rebels Financial Times (furzy)

Oil tanker on fire after Houthi missile attack, firm says BBC (furzy, Kevin W)

Fuel tanker’s crew struggle to contain fire after Houthi missile attack Financial Times. New story as of Links launch time.


Emirates’ U.S. Assassins in Yemen Tell All Forever Wars (Micael T)

ICJ Provisional Measures Against Israel on Genocide

How long before Israel withdraws from the International Criminal Court? From Section 1 of Article 127 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, 17 July 1998:

A State Party may, by written notification addressed to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, withdraw from this Statute. The withdrawal shall take effect one year after the date of receipt of the notification, unless the notification specifies a later date.

Note that at the Times of Israel, the stories on the ICJ ruling are way below the fold. And the first piece is a hostile editorial, not a news story:Hamas came for everyone it could kill in Israel on Oct 7. Today, The Hague encouraged it.

El Al Suspends South African Flights TPS (BC)

UNRWA Is Investigating Charges of Workers’ Involvement in Oct. 7 Attacks New York Times (furzy)

So is this sort of thing going to stop?

Chris Hedges: It May be Genocide, But it Won’t Be Stopped ScheerPost

New Not-So-Cold War

Volodymyr Zelensky’s theatre of nightmares New Statesman (furzy)

Ukraine’s richest man to lose assets in Russia RT (Micael T)

Why is NATO preparing for World War III? International Affairs (Micael T)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

iPhone Apps Secretly Harvest Data When They Send You Notifications, Researchers Find Gizmodo (Micael T). Yours truly has long been suspicious of apps along with devices engaging in non-user-initiated activity. I really really hate how my iPhone constantly asking me to log in to my iPhone account. Why the hell should I do that unless I plan to make a transaction? The high frequency of this demand suggests that this is yet another Apple spying scheme.

Americans hit with 78 BILLION robocall scams each year, new report reveals after AI-cloned voice of Joe Biden urged New Hampshire Democrats not to vote in primary Daily Mail. BC:

Wondering how much 78 billion calls generates in telecom industry revenue? Many scams even include toll free numbers to make your scamming experience more convenient. No wonder Congress and telecoms are like “We’ll get right on that”. Ironic too that the supposed best solution is being put on yet another list.

Imperial Collapse Watch

Four minutes of convulsions: Kenneth Smith executed with nitrogen gas Montgomery Advertiser (furzy)

China rallies G77 countries for major reform of WTO and Bretton Woods at Kampala summit South China Morning Post. From a few days ago, still germane. It is a bit ironic, since despite obvious problem with the WTO and Bretton Woods, China’s admission to the WTO when it did not qualify was a major spur to its growth.


Donald Trump ordered to pay $83.3mn in defamation trial Financial Times (furzy)

Colorado voter brief asks Supreme Court to keep Trump off ballot Washington Post (furzy)

Georgia Senate passes a panel with subpoena power to investigate District Attorney Fani Willis Associated Press (furzy) News


Democratic concerns grow amid RFK Jr. ballot push in battleground states The Hill

GOP Clown Car

Senate deal on border and Ukraine at risk of collapse as Trump calls it ‘meaningless’ Washington Post

GOP looks for Plan B on Ukraine with border bill looking DOA The Hill

Immigration/Border Dispute

Border Crisis Heats Up as Biden Admin Loses Grip Simplicius the Thinker

Abbott Tells Tucker Carlson Texas Will Use ‘Every Tool in Our Arsenal to Defend Our State’ The Texan

Texas border: Greg Abbott joined by GOP governors, invoking confederacy Slate (furzy)

Protest Convoy Headed to Southern Border Is Calling Itself an ‘Army of God’ Vice (furzy)

God, Save Me From Your Followers Heading to the Border Calling Themselves ‘Patriots’ Charles Pearce (furzy). Memo to Pearce: Pearl clutching does not strengthen your case.

The Texas migrant drama is a distraction: US elites will keep the border wide open RT


Nearly 65,000 US rape victims could not get an abortion in their state, analysis shows Guardian. From a couple of days ago, still germane.

GOP Lawmaker Thinks He’s an Abortion Expert Because He’s a Veterinarian New Republic

Health Care

Bill encouraging patients to shop for medical care advances Gazette-Lee Des Moines Bureau (Robin K)

Senate to examine walkaway deaths in assisted-living facilities Washington Post (furzy)


Two-faced AI language models learn to hide deception Nature (Dr. Kevin)

Why Taylor Swift AI-Generated Deepfake Images Raise Wider Worries Bloomberg (Dr. Kevin)

How AI can undermine financial stability CEPR

Falling Apart Boeing Airplanes

Boeing Whistleblower: Production Line Has “Enormous Volume Of Defects” Bolts On MAX 9 Weren’t Installed View from the Wing (Paul R)

The Bezzle

Google Cuts Thousands of Workers Improving Search After Search Results Scientifically Shown to Suck Vice (Paul R)

Guillotine Watch

Why the oligarchs LOVE democracy Alex Krainer (Micael T)

Class Warfare

When corporate profits force 53% of inflation the rats are fleeing Western-style democracy Ramin Mazaheri (Micael T)

Rich People Don’t Talk to Robots Josh Brown (Paul R)

What Happened to David Graeber? Los Angeles Review of Books (Micael T)

Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Antifa

    (melody borrowed from New Kid In Town by The Eagles)

    The UN will meet, it’s all so familiar
    Two hundred nations and nothing to do
    The speeches go on they sound like a show tune
    Always defending the same old the tried and the true

    But look at the Houthis . . . the talk of the town!
    We bombed them for eight years . . . they still won’t back down

    In Yemen they’ve lived what Gaza lives every day
    Famine and murder as your enemies intend
    So Yemen is blocking their waterway
    They will fight for Gaza till the end

    (Ohhh!) The UN’s so stately . . . they love to sit down
    The Houthis are standing (Ahhh…) to turn this around

    They’re handing it back straight from the shoulder
    The UN can’t act without any soldiers . . . there’s no soldiers
    While Gaza smoulders

    We’re killing young kids and we’re being lied to
    Israel can’t kill without our Pentagon
    We show them our maps and where each bomb glides to
    Without daily supplies this thing can’t go on

    This war is innately . . . our bullets and bombs
    They’re flown in every morning (aren’t they?)
    (Ahhh…) And Israel’s soldiers . . . shoot them around
    Oh, my my . . .

    Can’t we shut this thing down? (Ahhh…)
    Can’t we help the Houthis shut this thing down? (Ahhh…)

    (Ooh hoo) Every bomb was made in an American town
    (Ooh hoo) We could walk our talk and simply shut this thing down

    (Ooh hoo) Dropping two thousand pounds
    TNT is noisy
    Dropping two thousand pounds
    TNT is noisy
    Dropping two thousand pounds
    Dropping two thousand pounds
    Dropping two thousand pounds
    Everybody’s talking
    Dropping two thousand pounds
    What it does is shocking
    Dropping two thousand pounds
    H-m-m-m h-m-m
    Dropping two thousand pounds
    H-m-m-m h-m-m
    Dropping two thousand pounds
    Dropping two thousand pounds

      1. Jabura Basaidai

        was feeling that guilt too – glad it wasn’t warranted – and also that it wasn’t just me feeling the confusion –

      1. Pat

        Thank you, Lambert and the entire NC moderation team. I not only appreciate the discovery of a solution, but the struggle to keep comments flowing as much as possible.

        And I am very relieved that I have not really been bad enough to go into automatic moderation. Whew! Or not.

        1. Mark Gisleson

          I must admit it gave me pause when Yves mentioned how many 1000s of comments were being held for review. I tend to forget how much I had to rely on spam filters back in the day when doing a blog with less than 1/1000th of NC’s readership. Guessing that spam has gotten harder to filter since the 2000s.

    1. Steve H.

      grant me the serenity to accept going into moderation,
      the courage to change the things I can while the edit button is still on,
      and the wisdom to know that some comments are not worthy.

    2. griffen

      Glad it was more than just little old me, and that my spidey senses aren’t unique….As always thank you to Lambert and the Mighty Mighty Moderators*

      *Mighty Mighty Bosstones…”Never had to knock on wood…”

  2. The Rev Kev

    ‘Big Serge ☦️🇺🇸🇷🇺
    Texas makes a stand on immigration, so the White House retaliates by blocking their LNG exports.
    Perfectly normal, functioning, healthy political system at work.’

    The EU would be freaking out as they need that LNG, especially as the NS2 pipelines blew themselves up not that long ago. Biden may think that he is smart by sabotaging LNG exports from Texas but has he thought it through? What about allied and interconnected industries? Like those ships used to transport LNG. Is there going to be a gathering fleet of empty LNG tankers off the coast of Texas or will those shipping companies give up on the US and try other markets instead. What about companies that service that industry. Will there be spillover in neighbouring States? Can Biden and the Democrats just write off the 18 million voters in Texas alone? How will the other 49 States feel when they know that at a whim the Biden admin might cripple their economies in a disagreement? I know that Biden has a penchant for setting other countries on fire but it looks like he wants to start setting some US States on fire as well.

    1. Amfortas the Hippie

      well…sanctions have worked so well overseas….so of course they’ll sanction Texas.
      guarantee i aint the first to call this “sanctions”…nor will i be the last.
      since Lil George, my weather rock prognostication device for USA has been “whats the stupidest thing they can do in this situation?”
      the predictive ability of this weather rock is well above random chance.
      so i expect Biden to keep doing stupid shit….and Abbot to reciprocate with stupid shit.
      a widening gyre of idiocy.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Agreed. This is a real stupid is as stupid does move. This whole problem has been brewing for years now and Biden should have nipped it in the bud last year so that it did not become an election issue. I guess that he was off eating ice-cream instead.

        1. Pat

          Have I missed or forgotten anytime Biden and his crew reacted in a smart and thoughtful manner? But the last few days have been overwhelming in the retaliatory punching reactions.

          They should have gotten that ignoring the border was over and closing the border as much as possible was a necessity when Abbot and friends sent the first buses to sanctuary cities. The border and immigration was going to keep being forced into the media. (And they were going to look negligent, inept and/or corrupt.)

        2. Samuel Conner

          > off eating ice-cream

          The thought occurs that “Long COVID cognitive slowing”, here and there in the organization table of the US govt, might be a contributor.

          The urgency of the need for decisions does not decline to provide accommodation to constraints on the mental bandwidth of the deciders, so decisions may be being made with less consideration than before the beginning of the pandemic.

        3. John

          Biden may think that he is smart by sabotaging LNG exports from Texas but has he thought it through?

          I have the answer! NO … when have joe and the boys thought anything through.

        4. undercurrent

          Or maybe he was sniffing ice cream. Oh wait, it’s little girls hair that he sniffs, and he eats ice cream with Nancy Pelosi. That’s how it goes. Oh well, drop another bunker-buster down on those poor souls in Gaza, while genocide Joe and Nancy slob down more rocky-road, clutching their rosary beads, and piously praying for all the poor souls in Bodega Bay and Rehoboth Beach.

        5. Sean

          The sanctions are not against just Russia, they are against the remnants of the middle class, those uppity people who grew up with cheap food and energy, plus overtime, holidays, time off, liveable wages, all the things that 8 million “Bidenvenidos” will help quash.

          Thought experiment: What would happen to hourly wages, rents and housing prices if all illegals in the country were deported?

          1. Procopius

            Sometime last year I read a claim that the U.S. has 9,600 active sanctions on the books, against I don’t know how many countries and people. I don’t know if that’s true, but it seems likely to me, since the stupid things are never ended. I don’t know if there’s any place I could go to verify or disprove the claim. Of course, the number is larger now.

            Somebody must be profiting from them.

      2. griffen

        I saw this covered on CNBC yesterday morning, an interview with the energy secretary Granholm. Her answers to some of the harder questions were really…vague and opaque. And for the Biden administration in particular, one of their platforms on energy from the outset in 2021 was to possibly put an end to the fossil fuel industries at large here in the US. Admittedly some people pay attention to a president’s actual verbiage and actions, and aren’t too shocked when fossil fuel companies respond as businesses will do. Moving an entire economy of 300+ million individuals plus millions of companies onto Green Energy is not going to be swift and painless. Plus, like most people I prefer running my vehicle on gasoline at this point and not on the hopes and dreams to find an available, functional EV charger every 300 miles.

        Added, that I understood this pause on LNG exports (which is not a great look) but the actual administrative pause is on export facilities not yet in production ie, still in the planning and development phase.

        1. Screwball

          RE: Granholm

          A couple of years ago I watched her being interviewed about some energy related topic. When asked how much crude oil the United States used per day (which was relevant to the topic) she had no idea. Said she didn’t have those figures with her at the time.

          Maybe a nit pick on my part, but one would think the secretary of the energy department should know that. But probably, just like bicycle Pete the transportation guy, they are in that position not because they are worth 2 $hits, but because they are good little democrats.

          1. The Rev Kev

            I happen to know that figure – it’s about 20 million barrels per day. But when you divide the Strategic Oil Reserve by that figure, it is not a source of comfort. If the levels get really low, then it will be the 1970s all over again where those with odd license plate numbers on their cars can only get them filled on odd days while those with even numbered plates can only get them filled on even numbered days-


            1. Screwball

              Spot on Rev, and I think that is what they were asking Granholm (IIRC). When Biden tapped the SPR, he claimed it was to help with inflationary pressures, but some saw it as a political move.

              Last I read (and it’s been a while) the SPR is at 1984ish levels. Not a really good place to be given what’s going on with more wars than I can’t even keep track of.

              Lines of the 1970s! Does that bring back memories. 1973 oil embargo. I was a junior in high school pumping gas (yea, we used to pump it for you back then). We had to ration gas – and I’m sure not a surprise to anyone – it was not popular. I was literally scared at work. We could only pump X amount of gallons a day – then shut the place down.

              Imagine being next in line, which at times lined up way down the street. Sorry, we have to close. Here is some 300 lb dude who needs gas, and is not happy, and I’m a skinny 17 year old thinking he’s going to kick the snot out of me.

              It could happen again. This time, the poor sap behind the counter will get the rage and fury since they don’t pump gas anymore. At least they could lock the door. I had nowhere to go.

              1. Mr. Benson

                When Biden took office, SPR was at ~650M barrels, now at ~350M, a 300M barrel decrease wich is worth/will cost ~$24B to replace at current prices:

                1. Screwball

                  Money is no object – we have a printing press. Plus, think of the energy company profits – what’s not to like?

              2. The Rev Kev

                I remember well a photo from that era. It showed this young kid that had to pump cars as they were all lined up. But he had a big revolver strapped to his waist.

          2. griffen

            On a similar basis, I’d suggest about the same for Rick Perry, former governor of Texas while I was living in the Dallas / Ft Worth metro. An empty suit. But hey administrative bloat is pervasive in many settings (like, say for example university administrators) as well, not just at the highest levels of federal government.

            Blazing Saddles territory…but at least that film was satire and not real life.

    2. chris

      The miracle of the US, the thing that makes me believe it might actually be God’s country, is that no matter how badly our leaders screw up, we never really seem to suffer from it. Oh, sure. Lots of poor people are sick and starving. Our industrial center is decimated. And the Houthis can beat our navy. But wide spread famine? Massive violence? A lack of opportunities for the wealthy? No. We keep humming along as a country. It might even turn out that global warming is good for us! Way better than global cooling. But now… maybe that run of luck has ended. Maybe we’ve encountered such stupid leadership that even with the enormous benefits of our land and people and history, we’re in trouble.

      I don’t know what to do or say about any of that. I feel like the ICJ ruling for stopping genocide in Palestine is the first example of genuine humanity and actual good intentions I can show to my kids as a reason why we’re not all lost as a human race. The fact that the US agitated against it tells me all I need to know about the Biden administration. When they get tired of losing abroad they’ll bring their tyranny back home. And what then? I really don’t know. But I think it’s safe to say we are living in times where we should all start to think about the things we take for granted and assess how reliable they really are. Might be soon that resources like power, broadband, phones, water, food, become too scarce for too many. Then I think we won’t see some dramatic civil war scenario play out. I think we’ll see such mass waves of criminality that the upper classes won’t know what to do. In which case we’ll have chaos as a ruling principle.

      1. Snailslime

        If it truly is God’s own country than that says some things pretty damning about God.

        If that was what God stands for, siding with the Devil would be the only moral and right choice.

        That is, if there actually was any difference between God and Devil at all and one not just the mask of the other, metaphysical uniparty style.

        1. chris

          It’s a dark time for people who claim to believe in peace, that’s for certain. I don’t enjoy speaking against the wishes of my country. But what we’re currently engaged in is evil on a planetary scale. And yet we’re not allowed to say anything about it in public. Maybe it will take seeing the ghosts of all the children who have died, both Israeli and Palestinian, for our leaders to understand they have to stop this madness.

      2. Samuel Conner

        I think that what you remark on in the first paragraph, about the apparent resilience of the present state of affairs, might less optimistically fall under Adam Smith’s remark that “there is a great deal of ruin in a nation.”

        My interpretation is … “catabolysis”. It’s happening in the corporate world, for example through diversion of funds to share repurchase rather than investment in products and processes. Perhaps the people who can’t compete as corporate catabolizers end up in “public service.”

      3. Michael Fiorillo

        You might want to ask the Palestinians, Libyans, Syrians and Iraqis, et. al. If this is God’s Country.

        1. chris

          Of course it is silly! Why else would we be allowed to kill so many people all over the world if it wasn’t? We are so blessed by God that we can claim sending military aircraft half way around the world to bomb Somalis is an act of self defense. Now how could we do that if our lord and savior Jesus hadn’t given us dominion over the whole planet and put his new temple in DC?

      4. Kouros

        “we never really seem to suffer from it”

        How far did you look back in the past?

        What about the great depression era?

      5. eg

        “no matter how badly our leaders screw up, we never really seem to suffer from it.”

        What do you mean by “we” Kemosabe?

        1. chris

          Responding to both of you, in the spirit of Commentariat camraderie, yes, even in the depths of the Great Depression, WE haven’t suffered. I’ve done work all over the world. I’ve seen poverty and suffering beyond what many in this country can conceive. We in the US have never experienced what people in Bangladesh, or India, or Iraq, or even parts of Mexico, have experienced. I fervently hope that we maintain that run of good luck. But I’m afraid that our insulation against all the problems we have created in the world will come back to us several fold, and soon.

    3. Enter Laughing

      To clarify what Biden’s gas attack does and doesn’t do, USNews reports that:

      “The pause will have no immediate effect on U.S. gas supplies to Europe or Asia, [Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm] said. Seven LNG terminals are currently operating in the U.S., mostly in Louisiana and Texas, with up to five more expected to come online in the next few years. Biden’s action would not affect those projects…”

      However, Biden’s actions could:

      “…delay a dozen or more LNG projects that are pending or in various stages of planning. That includes the Calcasieu Pass 2 project, or CP2, along Louisiana’s Gulf Coast. If built, CP2 would be the largest export terminal in the United States.”

      Man, if I was a high volume consumer of LNG, I might start wondering who the world’s second largest LNG producer is (cough, cough, Russia)

      1. IMOR

        The cheerleading for transoceanic shipping of LNG, multiplying by several times the number of domestic LNG terminals, assumption of permanent growing markets for US LNG and implicit endorsement of the geopolitical steps necessary to maintain same, and the termination of serious comparison of end-to-end and substitution comparisons has reached almost parodic proportions.

    4. Spork

      I work at a nonprofit that does some environmental advocacy work. I’ve been receiving excited and self congratulatory emails from numerous anti-fracking and anti-LNG orgs about the Biden admin’s pause. I often wonder if any of the upper level staff at these places are politically sophisticated because their messaging sure isn’t. They act like environmental activists are finally getting traction with a sympathetic administration thanks to their diligent work. They never mention a damn thing about the pressure to export coming from Europe, the proxy war with Russia driving that pressure, or the US foreign policy that precipitated all of it…

      On a related note, our org helped support some of the anti-LNG export work in our region. But shortly after the Nordstream pipeline went “kaboom” I asked one of the campaign organizers from another org what they thought was the significance of that event… blank stare. I said “well I think the US obviously is behind it”. She didn’t disagree but looked at me like I had three heads. It was not a moment shared by two people on the same page.

      1. Benny Profane

        Ditto for the love of the Green party in Germany decimating industry and the working class.

    5. Benny Profane

      Between the silly defamation suit verdict yesterday and now civil war sanctions, they’re being pretty successful knocking genocide in the ME off the front page. And this is the top headline on the NYT site right now: “How Leaders and Diplomats Are Trying to End the Gaza War”. It goes on to try to convince me that it’s such a mess over there, it’s so complicated, but, they’re working on it. While it can all be stopped with one phone call.

    6. Feral Finster

      With all due respect, the US could completely cut off LNG Molecules Of Freedom to europe, and the european political class would not so much as raise a peep to question Master, lest wrongthink ensue.

      Less self-respect than whipped dogs.

    7. tegnost

      has he thought it through?

      His cabal looked at it and came up with “Damn you TRUUUUUUMMMMMP!!!!!”
      I know this because I watched washington week last night, against my better judgement, and five people who appeared deranged and in need of therapy couldn’t stop talking about him. I think the height of the program came when one “journo” read another “journo’s” unhinged trump rant.
      Self reference for the loss…
      Insomnia scrolling led to the seattle times where it was said as soon as biden get his war dough he’ll close the border, which almost sounds like an admission that he’s doing it on purpose and I doubt they thought that through, either.

    8. converger

      There are actually some very good reasons for not adding more LNG export capacity in general, and on the Texas coast in particular. Wrapping everything from Ukraine to fracking around the axle of immigration policy is a truly terrible idea.

  3. Wukchumni

    Bibi and Zelensky are together in perfect disharmony
    Side by side on our MIC supply side, oh Lord, why do we?

    We all know that people are the same wherever you go
    There is good and bad in ev’ryone
    We learn to live, when we learn to give
    Each other what we need to survive, taking innocents lives

    Bibi and Zelensky are together in perfect disharmony
    Side by side on our MIC supply side, oh Lord, why do we?

    Bibi, Zelensky, living in perfect disharmony
    Bibi, Zelensky, ooh

    We all know that people are the same wherever you go
    There is good and bad in ev’ryone
    We learn to live, when we learn to give
    Each other what we need to survive, taking innocents lives

    Bibi and Zelensky are together in perfect disharmony
    Side by side on our MIC supply side, oh Lord, why do we?

    Side by side on our MIC supply side, oh Lord, why do we?
    Bibi, Zelensky, living in perfect disharmony
    Bibi, Zelensky, living in perfect disharmony
    Bibi, Zelensky, living in perfect disharmony
    Bibi, Zelensky, living in perfect disharmony
    Bibi, Zelensky, living in perfect disharmony
    Bibi, Zelensky, living in perfect disharmony

    Ebony and Ivory, by Paul McCartney & Stevie Wonder

  4. timbers

    Immigration/Border Dispute

    Dima startled me by recently mentioning terms like “Civil War”, “succession” in context of the immigration dispute, saying the US devolving towards Civil War, and it’s potential to affect America’s hegemony and her various wars of aggression against the people of earth.

    Now Simplicus. Interesting perspectives from non Westerners.

    I renew my suggestion that Russia and China extend help to Texas by offering troops and long range missiles that can reach Washington. After all, it worked for Washington in Ukraine and it’s almost certainly coming to Taiwan.

    1. SocalJimObjects

      Civil war? Ain’t gonna happen. The stock market is at a record high. That thing looks 6 months ahead, supposedly /s.

      The stock market is probably already discounting all the broken windows which will result in a doubling of GDP.

      1. Wukchumni

        The German stock market of the early 1920’s was a refuge for those in the fatherland that were beginning to feel the effects of inflation, and it did well up until a point where hyperinflation raged against the machine in 1923, making stock market advances very much a moot point.

        1. John

          Yes indeed. Those geniuses in Wall Street have it all figured out … until they don’t and they have to be bailed out of their ever repeating folly.

  5. The Rev Kev

    “Why Taylor Swift AI-Generated Deepfake Images Raise Wider Worries’

    Bloomberg is tap-dancing around what really happened here. Somebody generated AI deepfake pron images of Taylor Swift that spread rapidly across the internet-

    Of course between this and Margot Robbie not getting nominated for an Oscar while Ken did, who has time in the PMC for anything coming out of Gaza?

    1. Pat

      I am going to be contrary here. Unlike Taylor Swift, most women are not going to have the ability to make it clear that an attack like this is producing fake porn AND face little financial devastation from the attack. And yes, I do believe this is going to happen to a lot of women with the intent to bully, harass and even lose them their livelihood.
      It may not be genocide, but this use of AI along with the implications of what can happen AND what is not being done to stop it are not trivial. Even if the media is only interested because the mere mention of Swift drives eyeballs.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Actually I fully agree here. Swift is a billionaires so has the means to defend herself. Did you notice that Bloomberg was afraid to say that they were pron deepfakes of her? The bulk majority of women will have no defence here against such visual slander nor even men. It’s going to be a mess. The genie is out of the bottle here but I think that it should be law to have an ID marker on any deepfake image or the creator goes to prison for ten years minimum with no parole possible.

        1. Pat

          We are apparently on the same wavelength here. Sorry I didn’t get that.
          I have a response to Steve H. in moderation along the same lines. I want AI generated images AND text to be required by law to be clearly marked as such.
          And yes that would even mean a Twitter notation, byline, author, and/or screenplay or special effects credit include the name of the AI not just watermarking images.

          I think there are a lot of genies released from the bottle. And people will be hurt by a lot of different uses of AI fakes.

          1. Bsn

            “I want AI generated images AND text to be required by law to be clearly marked as such.”
            There’s that phrase “aint gonna happen”. Is there any substantial law that restricts big tech in a meaningful way? A couple of states with some limits, some “attempts” in the EU, yet citizens remain simply data producing products.

            1. NN Cassandra

              It’s also technically impossible. It’s the reason for why, when someone actually wants to assert ownership, he is left with trying to slap her own logo to some place in the image where it would not be so easy to erase it with MS Paint, but hopefully still leave the important part unobscured.

              1. Pat

                You seem to be under the impression that I care if it might obscure an AI generated image. I do not. But designate that they mark one corner and require the AI program information be included in at least three points in the meta data.

      2. NN Cassandra

        I think this panic is bit overblown. It’s not like trying to discredit woman by accusing her of being slutty is some novel thing invented by AI. Neither is photoshopping face on another image, or leaking real images, which is what revenge pron is. If it would be so easy to take down anyone with some fake/real embarrassing image, it would be already used on grand scale. Then, after everyone would be fired or whatever, we could go back.

    2. Steve H.

      False flag, magically multiplying her face like Mickey with the broomsticks. Only her agent knows for sure.

      This pulls Swifties in as a force for online censorship. She’d already endorsed Biden.

      > What’s happening with Taylor Swift is not organic.

      : stepHIn MiLLER

      1. Pat

        Well don’t I feel stupid now that a random former Trump adviser says that and only that with no other proof.
        Sorry, but AI manipulation of images they have no rights to use is real. So is the use of nudes in sexual shaming of women. I do want laws governing AI, especially it’s information input, and labeling the products of its use. And not just on imagery. I think AI generated text should also be clearly marked as such. Doing this makes it clear things are made up, fake or questionable. There is a very big line between this and censorship.

        Seeing how quickly this response happened tells me the real false flag could be that it is an attack on AI, equating regulating it with censorship.

        1. Steve H.

          Pat, I completely agree, and responded to your comment above, too.

          People are talking about slippery slopes while the train is already tumbling down the hill. If I understand it, a current AI had already stolen incorrect information that another AI generated. Systemic false attribution has already corroded this mechanical version of a universal knowledge system. It’s an assault (even if unintended) on the scientific enterprise and the practice of critical thinking. Protect yourself at all times.

          Appeals to control of one’s own image also has a dangerous side. I read a Hollywood executive said the latest SAG/Aftra contract is the last one the actors will ever get. His perspective is based on the notion that the actors have sold the rights to their image, which studios have tried to lock down since at least the 1970’s. What happens when you don’t own the rights to your own face? Inverting, does a factory-style artist mill have the right to churn out ‘paintings’ resembling someone famous and use them as primary art?

          I’ve got a lot more questions than answers on this. I’m just seeing red flags flying.

          1. Steve H.

            John Robb:

            In order to stabilize the online world we need to make it real and tangible.

            There are three things needed for that:

            Digital rights
            Digital identity (only way to exercise digital rights)
            Data ownership (you own what you produce)

            Anything less is unstable corporate feudalism

      2. Screwball

        I never heard of Taylor Swift until she is all I hear about. I wouldn’t know one of her songs if it was on the radio, FWIW.

        She is a hot topic of my PMC friends who the other day were doing the math to see if she was old enough to be Joe Biden’s running mate. The plan, if she is old enough, given her popularity, would insure a Biden win over Orange Hitler.

        Actually, I might like her better than cackles.

          1. hk

            The thing about Swift is that she is very smart and has an uncanny sense of where the public sentiments are. She is not the most capable singer or songwriter, but she always comes up with what sells. (In a way, she is actually a bit like Trump, except with a far “cleaner” image.) She’ll be very formidable, at least as a campaigner, if she ever wants to be a politician.

            1. gk

              I agree completely (which is bad news for Israel). But for a political career, she would have to join a party “with an uncanny sense of where the public sentiments are”.

              I looked around a bit on the internet and Fox and the Israeli press are already attacking her.

            2. ChrisPacific

              I hope she stays away – it would be the end of her. It would be Jacinda Ardern times 100. I think she’s smart enough to realize that.

              In any case, while she would be a major improvement over the current options, she’s still a billionaire who flies everywhere by private jet.

    3. Jason Boxman

      Someone is giving the masses what they want, I guess; I’ve been delving deeply into search queries, lately, and a notable number of high volume searches are for some celebrity and naked. These are just the higher volume searches, where everyone uses the same set of words, 50-100k/mo or more. I’m not surprised, but it’s bizarre to see in the real. Nothing really shocking, I guess, it’s sort of what you’d expect. Sports, restaurants nearby, movies and TV shows that are popular or deeply embedded in culture, lots of medical searches on different disease names. Phrases that people don’t get: What is gaslighting? has gotten quite a few searches!

    4. Glen

      I see AI as a problem and would like to see all AI generated materiel marked in some fashion so we know it is AI.

      On the flip side of that, and in order to give AI a fair shake, I think we need to label reality so that it is not mistaken for AI. I propose we label many of the completely insane utterances we deal with from DC as RS for REAL STUPID. Here’s an example:

      “Wow, did you see that RS $hit Kirby said? I was watching it on my phone, and ads for pills you can take to raise your IQ started popping up.”

  6. Wukchumni

    O say can you see, by the Red Sea dawn’s early light,
    What Houthis hurled at the twilight of Capitalism’s last gleaming,
    Whose broad targets and bright scars through the perilous fight
    O’er the internet we watch’d so gallantly streaming?
    And the rocket’s red glare, the drones bombs bursting in air,
    Gave proof through the night that flagged ships shouldn’t dare,
    O say does that 6 pointed blue star banner yet wave
    O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

  7. Lena

    All my recent comments have gone into moderation. I thought I must have done something to offend the NC mods so I decided to stop commenting and just read others’ comments (which I always find extremely insightful). NC is my daily place to go for information and knowledgeable opinions that I can find nowhere else. I want to thank Lambert for fixing the problem. Also to thank Yves for yesterday’s analysis of the ICJ rulings. She explained the complex rulings so well that even my non-legal mind was able to understand them. Thank you both and thank you NC commenters. You are the best.

    1. Alice X

      I brought the subject up in Links on Thursday and a number of commenters echoed the same. I don’t presume to have been the catalyst but the NC team did hit upon the problem thereafter.

      1. Eclair

        Alice X, you were the first commenter (at least that I noticed) to mention that all your comments were going into moderation. A brave move, as I, and apparently many others, as mentioned above this morning, were sunk in a miasma of guilt, busy examining our consciences and our recent comments to see what we had said to offend. So, thank you. :-)
        PS. This might serve as an interesting social experiment in a wider context. How much will all of us put up with, feeling it it our fault, before someone pipes up?

        1. Lena

          My first recent moderation was a comment I made during a group discussion of the Hebrew Bible’s Book of Exodus. I wrote that today’s Zionists seem to prefer the Leon Uris version of Exodus to the Biblical one. It was moderated. Oh, no, I thought, the mods think I am an antisemite! So I quickly deleted my comment. It was self censorship on my part. I was worried about the antisemitism label. That is the fear around speaking out on the subject of Israel these days, both online and in person.

        2. Alice X

          Well, since I stopped drinking two years ago I’m fairly sure that I haven’t written anything strange. Before that, there is no telling. :-)

  8. timbers

    Americans hit with 78 BILLION robocall scams each year, new report reveals after AI-cloned voice of Joe Biden urged New Hampshire Democrats not to vote in primary Daily Mail.

    And, they are AI (Artificial Intelligence) calls. I’ve been getting calls regarding contributions to a police organization. The phrases are always the same but vary based on your response. Even the background noise – phones ringing from a distance, faint office chatter, paper shuffling in the background – are IDENTICAL for each call.

    When if first started, I offered a series of outlandish responses to see how the AI would respond. It gave canned pre-recorded responses, sometimes even repeating from my varied responses. It hung up when I said I wanted to donate a million dollars. So, you are talking to AI until an actual human is needed to intervene.

    If you call the number back and say nothing, after a few time dong this, you are blocked and get a busy signal. It’s only temporary though, as the robo calls resume in a few days.

    Relatedly – AI – (Artificial Intelligence) is being used on old film based movies:

    James Cameron has approved a 4k release of ALIENS. It has generated a firestorm of controversy by movie buffs. Cameron wants all his films to like like grain-free videos (film naturally produces film grain, video does not). So he has removed the grain (and with it detail) then re-insterted fake grain and applied details using AI. But AI detail is not the same as actual detail captured by film. So for example, facial wrinkles/skin pores captured on film are blurred out by “digital noise reduction” to hide grain, producing a blurred smooth plastic face look, then AI re-inserts facial wrinkles but not in the same way, over doing wrinkles making them sometimes look more pronounce almost like facial scars. And when the face moves, the AI can’t “see” the face when in motion, so the same face in motion looks suddenly wrinkle/scar free and all smooth and blurred until it stops again, reverting back to the AI wrinkled version. So you have these ever changing faces and details.

    Removing actual detail, and replacing with fake detail that never existed in the actual film capture.

    The film buff aficionados are absolutely furious, but James Cameron has legal control of his films and totally controls how he wants it to look. BTW hid did similar for Terminator 2, but with less “advanced” AI. He removed all the grain, giving it a blurred filtered look, then re-applied detail.

    1. The Rev Kev

      I’ll keep my own original version of “Aliens” thank you very much. if you like this story, then you are going to love this one. They are getting ready to do a remake of both “The Wizard Of Oz” and “It’s A Wonderful Life” but will improve them and making them more acceptable to modern audiences by making them more diverse. It’s going to be great! “The Wizard Of Oz” for example will be set in Inglewood, California because of course it will. If there are any readers that like those two films, I would suggest snapping up copies of them on DVD as after those films are released I would not mind guessing that the originals will be harder to get-

      1. Pat

        Kill me now. While there might be a filmmaker out there who could make a wonderful update of either film, they are not working at Warner Brothers. Especially with Warner’s current management. Plastic is guaranteed, sort of like Cameron’s “improvements”.

      2. Carolinian

        According to your link it’s just a guy at the Sundance festival saying he is writing scripts for remakes. Who knows if they will ever happen.

        But if they do make black character versions so what? There have been lots of other Oz movies and and all black B’way musical and movie, The Wiz. The Judy Garland version still stands.

        And the Capra film was initially a flop and had fallen out of copyright until TV showings revived it as a classic. A black character version might be interesting.

        This doesn’t sound like the Iger remake machine at Disney.

        1. Mikel

          Say what you want about the concept and storyline of the Wiz, some of the songs were fantastic.
          The soundtrack.

        2. gk

          Are they going to remove the Commie propaganda from the Capra film?

          According to the FBI report, the informant told the field agent that “in his opinion, this picture deliberately maligned the upper class, attempting to show the people who had money were mean and despicable characters.”

          The source also suggested that the film could have been made differently by portraying Mr. Potter as a conscientious banker who was simply “following the rules as laid down by the State Bank Examiner in connection with making loans” and as “a man who was protecting funds put in his care by private individuals and adhering to the rules governing the loan of that money rather than portraying the part as it was shown.”

          1. Carolinian

            Yes J. Edgar Hoover the glory days. But I don’t think Capra was much of a lefty in his later years.

            One interesting factoid is that this is the movie Jimmy Stewart made after returning from flying bombers in WW2–an experience that traumatized him greatly. It may have contributed to the uncharacteristic intensity of his performance.

            1. NotTimothyGeithner

              It’s a Wonderful Life is awful, but Capra’s filmography is just smaltzy turds. His WW2 propaganda films were basically the black soldiers love shining white officers shoes.

              1. Carolinian

                It Happened One Night was one of the great films of the early sound era. In later years he was accused of making “Capra corn” but then “Louis B Mayer corn” (Andy Hardy) doesn’t have quite the same alliterative zing.

                It was an era when Shirley Temple was the top box office star–not quite the same as now.

                John Ford was fairly rightwing and racially insensitive as well in his dotage. Not many want to pick on him. Times change.

        3. The Rev Kev

          Doesn’t matter if it is a black version or not. Look at the total fiasco of the remake of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” where the dwarfs were replaced with seven ethnically diverse Portland hipsters. The movie maker no longer care if it makes money or not so long as it spreads The Message-

 (6:58 mins)

          Certainly Capra’s anti-capitalist message will be totally eradicated and it will be more about community or something else bland.

          1. Carolinian

            Yes but Disney is just “monetizing their catalogue” and these won’t be from Disney. We don’t have to assume it will be the same. Plus Disney remakes films that aren’t even that old. I get that you love those two films but I don’t have a problem with it. If they tried to remake Oz with the songs and everything that would be tacky.

            1. The Rev Kev

              Actually I don’t really much care for those films but that is not the point. Other people do and are even fond of them. More disturbing is that I and some others have noticed that films made over the past century are remaining inside the vaults and those corporations do not want to release them as in ever. Got a movie from the thirties or forties or much more recent that you would not mind seeing again? Not going to happen. Those are under lock and key and may never see the light of day again. They could make those films available to monetize them in an income stream but they are not. It cannot be on commercial grounds so must be because of ideological grounds. Reminds me of that US school that removed every single book published before 2014 off their shelves. Bye bye historical culture.

      3. griffen

        I overheard a comment yesterday that a remake of “Roadhouse” was either in the works or already available on a streaming service, I want to say on Amazon Prime…EGADS. Not that the original film was such a great piece of art, exactly, but who has the cojones to take that role? Swayze was awesome as Dalton.

        Signs of the times…unfortunately big companies like Disney have wrecked what is left of any interest I personally held in the Avengers or the MCU. Then there’s the ridiculously absurd Hobbit trilogy from Peter Jackson…but I digress. And I am devoted fan of the LOTR trilogy by Jackson.

          1. ambrit

            Different spelling.
            I think that eg is referring to Obama’s “Secret Identity” as “The Wizard of Kalorama.” To which I must state that we are still enduring that Identity Politician.

    2. Bugs

      I think Terminator 2 is the best of the series, especially the fantastic performance by Robert Patrick. I actually bought the 3D remaster and Cameron fixed some continuity errors and special effects that weren’t quite as sophisticated as needed at the time. Plus, 3D. And since I have a 3D TV that actually produces an excellent 3D image, I was really happy with it. Your taste may be different!

      1. timbers

        Cameron was obsessed to get Terminator 2 onto 3D, despite it being a nearly “dead” and dying format by then. Supposedly 3D benefits from grain reduction/removal. And that is why the Terminator 2, 2D is so digitally noised reduced, wiping out detail and grain…the same master for the 3D was also used for the 2D. That, and the fact Cameron has a very often repeated (in)famous quote expressing his hatred of grain of any sort…anathema to film-o-philes.

        1. Carolinian

          Given how much of those movies, and especially Avatar, had been created inside a computer then film is sort of pointless. And that goes for most movies these days.

    3. IMOR

      Well, Cameron never exactly anyone’s idea of an auteur or artiste, but this is a diappointing, hamfisted approach. Guess he didn’t notice how much less real / ‘faker’ the second Avatar movie (not ‘film’ anymore, I guess) looked.

    4. Jason Boxman

      America is a failed state; On my terrestrial mobile number I have on permanent ignore/silence on my phone, I still get 6+ spam calls daily. Never given number out, straight from Verizon from over two years ago, I’ve never used it for anything, ever, I don’t even know what the number is. Thankfully I use my GV for everything, or I’d have quit having a phone number by now.

      This is beyond pathetic.

  9. Wukchumni

    Whoa, it came out of the sky
    Landed just a little south of Suez

    Joey fell out of his routine
    Couldn’t b’lieve what he seen, oh

    Crewmen on the ship were shook
    Fearin’ for their life
    Then they ran away to the Cape of Good Hope
    Screamin’, “It came out of the sky”

    Well, a crowd gathered ’round
    And a Zionist said it was an attack on their gas
    Elon came to make a speech
    About raisin’ the Mars tax

    Hasbara said, “Woe, the time has come”
    Hollywood rushed out an epic pro-Semitic film
    Bolton of walrus mustache said
    It was an Iranian plot

    Oh, the usual newspapers came
    And made Joey a national hero
    Antony said they’d put him
    On the MSDNC network TV show

    White House said, “Put the blame on the drone boom”
    Hasbara said, “No, it belongs to the Hamas goons”
    Joey said, “It’s not by design
    But i’ll do anything for the 10 million”

    Whoa, it came out of the sky
    Landed just a little south of Suez

    Joey fell out of his routine
    Couldn’t b’lieve what he seen, oh

    Crewmen on the ship were shook
    Fearin’ for their life
    Then they ran away to the Cape of Good Hope
    Screamin’, “It came out of the sky”


    It Came Out of the Sky, by Credence Clearwater Revival

    1. ThirtyOne

      Rocket roll, Houthi Coup
      Lawdy Allah light my fuse
      Rocket roll, Houthi Coup
      Ship on out and spread the news

      Rock And Roll, Hoochie Koo
      Written by Rick Derringer

  10. Will

    re Israel accuses UNRWA workers of involvement in Oct 7

    I thought the worst that could happen after the ICJ ruling against Israel was it gets ignored and Israel continues with the genocidal campaign. Nope. Wrong again.

    Not only the US, but Canada, Australia and Italy have all announced they’re suspending funding for UNWRA. No doubt others will soon follow. Israel has announced UNWRA will not be allowed to operate in Gaza if hostilities end. (See here from the Guardian UK.)

    From the linked NYT article:

    the United Nations Relief and Works Agency is one of Gaza’s largest employers, with 13,000 workers, and drives much of the enclave’s education, health and food assistance programs.

    Where else does UNWRA operate and how many outside of Gaza will now also be made to suffer for the grave sin of embarrassing Israel?

    Some days I really want to believe in God because that maybe means there is a Hell in which these monsters can burn for all eternity.

    1. Will

      UNWRA was established to help Palestinian refugees and has done since 1949. It operates in Gaza, the West Bank, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. 5.9 million registered Palestinian refugees are eligible for assistance with 1.6 million in Gaza.

      Among other things, it operates 140 primary healthcare facilities and 706 schools with 22 and 246, respectively, in Gaza.

      It’s funded almost entirely from donations and is not part of the regular UN Assessed Contribution System because the UNWRA was established as just a temporary agency in 1949.

      FAQ and infographic (PDF)

      1. The Rev Kev

        I guess the Israelis figure that if they get rid of every single Palestinian in Gaza, then there will be no need for the UNWRA to be there.

        1. ambrit

          Considering UNWRA’s geographical reach, it suggests that Israel plans to “displace” Palestinians in the West Bank, Lebanon, Syria, and probably Jordan as well.

          1. JBird4049

            >>>to “displace” Palestinians in the West Bank, Lebanon, Syria, and probably Jordan as well.

            All for the glory of Greater Israel? Maybe they will reclaim Babylon as well.

    2. nippersdad

      As both Russia and China still have free use of the Red Sea, what are the odds that they will take up the challenge and start sending aid to Gaza ports and dare Israel to do something about it?

      Don’t know if it will happen, but I would love to see it.

        1. nippersdad

          I believe there is at least one port in Gaza city, where their fishing fleets are docked. Seems like there must be more, but if not there are always landing craft.

          Just imagine making it look like the Normandy landing on D-Day! If they don’t do it it will have been a missed opportunity.

        2. R.S.

          Sort of. It’s a small port that houses fishing vessels, and it’s been blockaded since mid-00s. The fishing boats are allowed to travel something like 10 miles or so into the sea (the zone changes constantly). There were several plans and attempts to build a proper cargo port, but AFAIR the projects got either cancelled or underwent an unsolicited demolition, so to speak.

          1. The Rev Kev

            A coupla weeks ago the Israeli Navy stood off from that port and shot up every fishing boat that they saw so that the people could not feed themselves.

      1. vao

        Finland joined the sanctions on the UNWRA.

        Now that the ICJ has put a damper on the Israeli military operations, the “international community” rushes to maintain the genocidal pressure via other means. This leaves little doubt that the Western world not only approved the genocidal operation of the Israelis in Gaza, but also hoped it would be successful, and is dismayed that it might fail.

        As if the visits by heads of state in Jerusalem, “stand with Israel”, censoring pro-Palestinian voices, condemning pro-Palestinian flags, outfits, slogans, and demonstrations as anti-semitic, and supplying armaments to Israel in emergency mode had not already amply shown which sides the West was taking.

    3. jrkrideau

      Canada has announced suspending funding for UNWRA.

      At least we claim to be giving the money to another aid agency. I don’t think our PM does too bad a job domestically but he is a total idiot in foreign affairs and I am getting the feeling the Minister of Foreign Affairs is his equal.

      1. Kouros

        Are they also stopping the sell of weapons or such to Israel, given that ICJ ordered Israel to stop?

    4. alfred venison

      Just a footnote, a straw floating down the X stream I clutched at earlier today : Ireland and Norway (so far) have announced they’re maintaining their funding.

      1. The Rev Kev

        I think that the Netherlands and Finland also cut their funding too. Makes you proud of western values – not.

  11. The Rev Kev

    BREAKING: Biden has cut off funding to @UNRWA, which provides life-saving aid to 2.2 million Palestinians in Gaza every day.
    The US is collectively punishing Palestinians, who rely on UNRWA to survive, based on Israeli allegations against 0.0004% of UNRWA’s staff. Outrageous’

    This war has been going on about 112 days now. And the day right after the ICJ decision comes out, they do this. After all this time the Israelis say ‘Oh yeah. We totally suspect 12 people of taking part in the October 7th attacks that worked for the UNRWA.’ The West totally believes what the Israelis say and then cut off money to the UNRWA. Now I think that there are about 1,300 of them and a hundred of them have been killed by the Israelis but Israel reckons that they are all Hamas, as is the UN, the Hague and the IJC so who am I to disagree? So far, I think that the nations that are cutting funding are the US, UK, Canada, Italy and Australia for christ’s sake. So we are now going to impose our very own starvation blocaked on the Palestinians on the say-so of the Israelis and as payback for the ICJ decision to complement the Israeli starvation blockade. Hopefully China will step forward and help out here but man, we really are the baddies here.

    1. nippersdad

      “Hopefully China will step forward and help out here but man, we really are the baddies here.”

      I was just thinking that myself. And what a PR bonanza it would be were Russia and China to break the Israeli blockade on aid to the Palestinians!

    2. Sean

      Biden’s worried about RFK’s comment that Palestinians are “Pampered” and wants to outcompete him in the “pull yourself up by your bootstraps Palestinians” category.

      Looking at inflated food prices here in the good ol USA, we are still too pampered and need to prepare ourselves for some real sacrifice for the good of the Ukranian democracy, the polar bears, to fight sea level rise and various other crtically important issues, that only the Democratic Party can rescue us from.

    3. Offtrail

      UNRWA has 13,000 employees in Gaza, not 1,200.

      So Israel claims that one of every thousand UNRWA employees was involved in October 7. On the basis of that we cut off all our funding.

  12. noonespecial

    Re Red Sea / InfoBrics link

    Seems like the branding folk at US state dept or maybe some other arm of the prez’s coterie have come up with a new catchy name for the latest pyro workshop. As the InfoBrics link reminds the reader, the prez is not sure dropping bombs will do the trick, so maybe the new name of the operation will up the fear level over yonder:

    “Under the newly named Operation Poseidon Archer, US-led strikes have now hit fresh targets, after previously carrying out a number of pre-emptive strikes on Houthi launch sites.”

    See, not about prosperity anymore, now it’s the ancient god of the oceans and his mighty bow. However, I think ol’ Posee employed triton.

  13. Rob Urie

    Does John Helmer (Dances with Bears) have additional information regarding the Houthi attack on Russian ships?

    My understanding is that the Russians have clear passage.

      1. alfia

        The concealed owner of the Marlin Luanda oil tanker is JP Morgan’s Global Transport Income Fund operating through UK front, Oceonix Services Ltd. The Houthis are reading the small print for “parent & control party” at UK Companies House & US Securities & Exchange Commission.

    1. GC54

      If the “Houthis” eventually end up hitting the occasional bonafide Russian or Chinese ship, one might ponder the possibility of a false flag designed to muddy the waters so to speak. Drop off SEALs at or near an isolated part of the coast with a few compact missiles for a bit of mayhem.

  14. none

    Can anyone explain the conflict over the TX razor wire? I can understand Feds wanting access to the crossing sites and the river (to rescue drowning people) but what is the issue with the wire? Are asylum seekers (claiming persecution by death squads etc) not supposed to show up at a normal checkpoint instead of wading across the river? Tx.

      1. Pat

        I know it is my own weird mind, but due to this I now have Cash’s Ring of Fire playing in my head. Thanks?

        1. Lena

          My weird mind compels me to mention that “Ring of Fire”, written by June Carter, was first recorded by her sister, Anita Carter, as “Love’s Ring of Fire”. Anita had the most beautiful voice of all The Carter Sisters.

          1. Pat

            Thank you, I forgot June wrote it. I will have to look for Anita Carter’s version as I have never heard it.

        2. RA

          I fell into a cutting ring of wire
          It spread up and down
          as the hordes grew higher

          and it cuts cuts cuts
          the ring of wire
          the ring of wire

    1. Skip Intro

      I think it is the opening salvo of the presidential campaign, a mostly symbolic confrontation that will probably focus the electorate on immigration/immigrants as a key issue. This would seem to help Trump, but if Texas gets stroppy enough, maybe Team Biden’s pearl clutching over threats to ‘Our Democracy’ will gain more traction with their remaining base. Nothing threatens democracy like local control, or the wrong candidates on the ballot.

        1. Hepativore

          If Biden croaks or becomes incapacitated on the campaign trail, what will the DNC do as Plan B? Will they just take all of Biden’s delegates and hand them over to some other neoliberal hack? I know that is why Dean Phillips is planning on staying in the race, but I think the DNC leadership will not forgive him for his audacity in daring to try and challenge Biden even though the Democratic Party said outright “there will be no primary.”

          Does anybody else think that there is also a danger that this is also setting precedent for the 2028 presidential elections? In order to stem rising voter discontent with the anointed DNC picks, the Democratic Party might just decide to stop having any sort of pretense of primaries at all from now on and just have the state DNC parties automatically hand over their delegates to the DNC candidate pick.

          Individual states might still try having Democratic Party primaries, but seeing how the DNC can choose to not sanction them with few consequences, the DNC will probably go back to picking their candidates by a closed, internal discussion among the party leaders.

  15. Mark Gisleson

    Lambert, ‘Pierce’ not ‘Pearce.’

    Made me click, first time I’ve seen his by-line since I unfollowed him on Twitter for Russiagating.

  16. DJG, Reality Czar

    Simplicius: Border crisis heats up.

    I think that the article is good as a backgrounder. As someone no longer living in the U S of A, it takes me a while to get through the endless U.S. melodrama to the facts. The current crisis is partly kayfabe, and the irony is that EU, and its satrapies, is being played for fools once again with the impasse over LNG.

    Yet I believe that it was Yves Smith who remarked that Simplicius is good on facts and on military events but not good on politics. This sentence is naive: “It wasn’t until they needed mass Blue votes to cheat the election and beat Trump that suddenly the flood gates had to really open.”

    Tucker Carlson is getting replacement-adjacent here, and Simplicius shouldn’t pick up on Carlson’s conspiracy fantasies. The many (22 million?) irregulars aren’t going to become citizens en masse or even all that easily. Further, the U.S. system of voter registries means that there isn’t universal registration to vote. The Census Bureau puts registration rates for 2022 at 69.1 percent. That’s considered a high–only in a country that is trying to suppress the vote, I’d say.

    Immigration involves the push factor of U.S. destruction of countries throughout Spanish-speaking Latin America. Asylum seekers may not be the majority. But what matters is economics: The upper middle class wants every (liberal) family to have a docile nanny to teach Spanish to little Hamilton. The upper middle class wants every (rightwing) family to have a docile workforce at the chicken slaughterhouse, workers as easily disposed of as chickens. Simplicius may have the blind spot of being unwilling to critique capitalism.

    1. Skip Intro

      I’m trying to picture a illegal migrant worker getting motivated to risk showing up at a polling station, in order to vote for Biden. Do they get election day off?

    2. Carolinian

      And here I thought the border controversy was about Trump, his wall and the initial efforts to paint him as a racist for using the wall as the focus of his 2016 campaign. Which doesn’t mean that he isn’t a prejudiced person but then turning a blind eye to the deaths of thousands of Palestinians is pretty racist too.

      So it is about the politics but could be on a higher level than nannies–more WEF versus MAGA .The plutocrats are the ones who want a “reserve army of the unemployed.”

    3. Amfortas the Hippie

      the almost universal assumption/assertion by just about every right leaning person i know, is that all these “illegals” are here to vote with Team Blue.
      but ive known a whole lot of immigrants…illegal and legal(wife and her mom have done lots of local work with the mojado community over the years)…and it is stupidly difficult to get a green card…let alone full on citizenship.
      its also very expensive.
      even my sister in law(colombian) took marriage to my brother and ten years to finally get her citizenship.*
      but the fantasy that they’ll all be voting D in november is what these folks hear daily.

      (* and her swearing in ceremony: i had not yet got a hip replacement, so i was destroyed by the 350 mile trip…dead hipbone and all….so we stood for 2 hours in a long line that snaked around the big high school basketball arena in north houston….went through a remarkable farce of security theater….complete with storm trooper soldier types in full body armor, and homeland security agents with little squiggly earpeices…as well as what had to be agents lurking around the perimeter in those iconic spy sunglasses.
      finally got in, and the seats we were assigned were in nosebleed…steep stairs that i took one look at and decided i could not manage.
      but right there was a roped off section of seats…so i sat there.
      and here they came,lol…”sir…these are reserved”…looked at my ticket and pointed to my assigned seat. i said “cant manage it” so they ran me out of the seat and left. so i leaned against the bulkhead.
      here they came again…more of them.
      “no standing”…hands on guns(!).
      so i pled the ADA and “im an american citizen”, etc…and said screw it and left.
      “welcome to amurka, Sis!”)

    4. Katniss Everdeen

      Yeah. Not so sure all those 17-and-three-quarters-years-old unaccompanied minor male “immigrants” are going to be in high demand as “nannies” for “upper middle class” kiddies.

      Conversely, not so sure that those same “immigrants” aspire only to live squalid lives as capitalist-indentured chicken pluckers and reliable democrat “voters.”

      Somethin’ else is goin’ on here, and americans had better get a clue before it chews them up and spits them out on the sidewalk of what was once a nice neighborhood…

      1. Michael Fiorillo

        Not just nannies: a good friend of mine, the most intensely TDS-afflicted person I’ve known or encountered (which is saying something) wants them hired as school bus drivers, since there’s a “shortage” of them locally.

        The “activist” group he’s involved in, the most embarrassing, ineffectual and morally vain bunch I’ve ever witnessed (again, that’s saying something) was always protesting while Trump was in office, the gist of their message being, “Be Nice To Immigrants.”

        Needless to say, never a word about coup attempts and sanctions against Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, etc., just beating their chests over their moral enlightenment and getting themselves all hot and bothered (which they secretly love to do) over Trump.

        1. Pat

          School bus driving is really a bitch in most of NYC. And not just for the driving.
          But I doubt that most of those thinking this is a solution for the shortage have ever considered the possible challenges to transporting all sorts of young people to and from school. I know I hadn’t really thought about it until I was exposed to some of the issues by friends.

    5. griffen

      Interesting commentary in the article below, from what appears to be a reasonable, thoughtful individual trying to play a role of Good Samaritan. I read this earlier in the week, after reading (also at Newsweek) about the campaign of Texas secessionists or “Texit” if you will.

      Mayorkas should get sh*t canned for these results under his watch as DHS secretary. Making Tom Ridge appear almost competent takes some effort.

    6. hemeantwell

      I agree with you about Simplicius’ apparent lack of interest in criticizing capitalism, and it gets worse. I see him as so enamored of Putin that he’s either slid into or chosen to favor strong man or Bonapartist politics. He’s very much in synch with war critics like Douglas MacGregor, who can talk a very leftish-sounding line — the interview with Carlson where he condemns interventionism, war profiteering, and says it’s Washington that is “bathing in blood” is remarkable. Yet MacGregor never refers to organizations that defend working class interests, unions, and so encourages the notion that it is to Trump, for whom he served as a war advisor, that we must turn for any help. In comments on this article Simplicius, from whom I’ve benefited because of his familiarity with military organizational forms, referred to an “army of illegal immigrants,” implying a level of organization that suggests imminent threat. So let’s get the Donald up on his horse so he can save us from shock battalions of landless Hondurans,

      1. Bazarov

        Simplicius misses the mark on politics, I agree.

        But I also think he’s dodgy on military affairs. There was a recent article where he played up an instance of a Russia tank, whose crew was forced to retreat against several Bradleys in Avdiivka’s northern sector, and used that evidence to claim that Avdiivka was going to take many, many months or even a year to fall against omniscient western “ISR.” Shortly after he published that article, Avdiivka’s southern defenses totally collapsed.

        Moreover, Simplicius’ account of the west’s vaunted “ISR” verges on fantasy–attributing to NATO Sauron-like powers of surveillance greatly in excess of Russian capabilities, which in turn prevents the Russians from advancing to take large swaths of territory or whatever. In reality, Russians don’t want to advance into large swaths of territory at this stage: why do so when the territory will be theirs for the taking when the Ukrainian army breaks apart from the horrifying attrition?

        Lastly, it’s rumored that Simplicius (he may have even admitted this, though I’m not 100 percent confident that’s correct) is actually NightVision, a prolific poster from the now-defunct Saker community. NightVision’s style was very similar to Simplicius’, long posts of mostly cut-and-paste work interrupted by his commentary. The evidence he cut-and-pasted was interesting, and his posts were valuable as aggregation, but his commentary was as embarrassing the Saker’s, who believed at the start of the SMO that Russian forces sweeping north and south would turn the whole of eastern Ukraine into one giant cauldron!

        If you boil-off the fever dream foam, Saker-style coverage leaves a residue of truth. After all, the Russians do use cauldrons tactically to isolate their opponents. It’s true that NATO provides significant intelligence to Ukraine, without which its terrorist commando-style operations and pin-prick strikes would be impossible. But no, the Russians were never going to make a giant cauldron of all of eastern Ukraine in one fell swoop in February 2022, and no, NATO is not omniscient (nor is it much better informed than the Russians–in fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Russians were better informed about the Ukrainians than NATO is about the Ruskies).

    7. Michael Fiorillo

      It adds insight into Biden refusing to raise the federal minimum wage, while hiding behind the big, bad House Parliamentarian.

    8. alfred venison

      to get an idea where Simplicius is coming from re his social/ political speculations you should check out his other substack site : darkfutura(dot)substack(dot)com

  17. Dave

    I casually follow the chess world online and have noted that no one wears respirators. You would think this issue of COVID-induced cognitive slowdown would really show up in top rankings, etc. — especially in blitz games. I’ve seen no news along these lines.
    (I think chess and COVID has been brought up here before.)
    Magnus Carlsen brings his own chef to tournaments to ensure good nutrition for mental acuity, but won’t wear a mask.

    1. Dave

      I guess I should look at The Guardian more often. There is a story about a chess champion, Ding Liren, tweeted by Tern. (I am trying to include the link here, but it doesn’t seem to work.)

    2. CA

      January 26, 2024

      Chess: Ding at risk of finishing last as world champion falters at Wijk
      The 31-year-old, who took eight months off due to illness, planned a comeback at the “chess Wimbledon” but, with just two weekend rounds left, he is only half a point clear of bottom place

      January 5, 2024

      Chess: forgotten world champion Ding Liren to return at Wijk aan Zee
      Ding is scheduled to return to action at the ‘chess Wimbledon’ that includes five of the eight Candidates to challenge him for the world title this year

      1. Dave

        Thank you. How do you post a link? Is there a tutorial somewhere? The html generated when I click the “link” button doesn’t seem to work.

        1. Alice X

          I am assuming you mean in a comment?

          Highlight the text, press the link button and paste the html address which you have copied from the relevant source (in the address at the top of the browser).

          Or, just paste the link without the title.

          I hope this makes sense.

        2. cfraenkel

          Here is a link to w3schools: html_links

          The link is made up of 3 parts,
          1) opening a href=”url” tag – the address the link points to
          2) the link text – what the browser shows the user
          3) the closing /a tag

          The link button in the comment dialog opens an “Enter the URL” dialog, where you can copy the url address you copied from wherever you want to link to. This copies the opening a tag with the url into the comment, ending with the “>”. This is NOT shown to the reader. You then type in whatever you want the link to say (the underlined text). If you want the URL visible, so the reader can see what the address is, just press ctrl+v a second time.

          At this point, the underlined “link” button in the comment box’s menu changes to a “/link” button.
          IMPORTANT: after you type in the link text, press this new “/link” button, which inserts the closing /a tag.

      2. Snailslime

        So, presumably saying the quiet part out loud, COVID affecting his brain quite possibly?

        If he has been ill only relatively recently it may not mean much and go away.

        But it will be interesting to watch over the coming years how many previously thought to be extremely smart people start noticeably getting less smart thanks to virus induced long term brain damage.

        Chess may be one of the publicly visible canaries in the COVID coal mine.

    3. Revenant

      Perhaps it is a closed society? No contact with non-chess folk. :-)

      Or they know that as long as you have a good pawn structure, you are defended….

  18. QuarterBack

    Re solar industry article, I remember when the solar boom was rolling through my area around 2010. A coworker raved about his “sweet deal” to get solar panels installed at his home “for free” (which was actually “no money down”). He gave me a copy of his contract so that I could consider it for myself.

    The (very long) contract included a clause to commit to purchase a fixed minimum volume of electric power at a fixed price, (albeit at a lower price) for the term. This pricing included modest increases over time. The sales talking point was “electric prices are never going to go DOWN”. The problem was that the contract made it clear that there was no way to get out of this commitment, so if your house burned down, or if you took a long vacation, you are still obligated to buy the electricity. It even had a clause that kept you on the hook if the property was sold. You could transfer the contract over to a new buyer, but only if approved by the solar company.

    It was obvious to me that the whole point was to create an electricity futures vehicle that could then be sold (almost immediately) to fixed income investors.

    An additional concern I had was how capable would the solar company be to fulfill its obligations in the out years after it had converted these energy futures into quick cash, which would likely exit the books as exec bonuses? Solar panels typically have an effective lifespan of 20 years, so at end of life, would the company even have the money to dispose of the old panels (which are considered toxic waste due to the heavy metals)?

    Part of the economics of the deal included the assumption that the electricity generated by the solar cells would be resold to the grid to offset the homeowners costs. The problem is that on the way to end of life, the efficiency of solar panels drops very quickly over a few years.

    I declined to jump on board.

    1. Melanie

      But on the other hand, we and various friends had panels that quickly paid for themselves, and provided a nice net metering payment, plus free electricity to us for decades. Cash upfront, installed by qualified technicians, no loans.

      Then Gavin Newsom, ever eager to please his and his wife’s nonprofit’s donors at PG&E , through his appointments of all the Public Utilities Commisioners, pushed through a bill to slash net metering payments practically to zero. Centralized control and profits, to hell with homeowners, independence and real environmentalism.
      Here’s article about it:

      “New rules proposed on August 4 by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) could make it unaffordable for renters in multifamily housing, farms and schools to benefit from rooftop solar and battery storage. The proposed decision could deny multifamily properties the ability to consume the energy that they produce on-site without selling it to the utility and buying it back at higher rates.

      In addition, his “democratic” super majority and his pupppet PUC, now have allowed a fixed fee for electricity, even if you use none. This is all in the bullshit guise of “Equity” for BIPOC households that can’t afford solar.

      Newsom’s real benefactors are in the nuclear power industry.
      Forgot, they are banning natural gas applicances in all new construction per the California Building Code updates-go all electric! The state begged people not to recharge their electric cars last winter because the grid couldn’t handle it.

      Solar works. Like so many other things it was ruined by financialization.

      1. scott s.

        “Net metering” uses the grid as a free battery. The cost to maintain that grid is pushed onto all customers. The residential solar customer has no responsibility to maintain frequency, voltage or power factor, nor to do anything to stabilize the grid. It further creates safety hazard for workers/linemen in the distribution system. Here on Oahu they pretty much require you to install a battery wall to manage your own excess generation. Since they mandated shuttering the coal-fired generation plant we have been treated to rolling blackouts. I don’t know this, but heard that residential solar is set up so if voltage is lost on the distribution side, the customer side (inverter) is supposed to also shutdown for safety. If that’s true then having solar doesn’t help in a power-outage situation.

        1. Revenant

          I don’t know the specific situation in Oahu but I know (from looking to buy one) that only Tesla can operate in “island mode” with a dark grid. Other commercially available battery walls assume the grid is available. Whether this is trivial or inspired design by Tesla is also not clear.

    2. TomDority

      When you get Finance in there and then you factor the 30% rebate from the FED – that 30% is up for grabs so you got to monetize it as a provider of panels and finance – so your customer may get a rebate but it has to be on a product package that costs at least 60% more for the consumer
      Can’t have the consumer actually benefiting from rebates -it has got to be captured by the provider at the expense of labor and the consumer who provided the tax dollars for the program.
      Just my view of it

    3. GC54

      Exactly this was pitched to me on Monday in Tucson. Fellow “suggested” that electricity prices were going to go up 4% annually so lock in by leasing now. The only way residential solar makes financial sense in the US is if you can buy the system+installation outright in cash, take the 30% rebate, and plan to stay put through the payback time. Tucson’s TEP utility solar payback rate was cut again last yr. Neighbours just replaced their 20 yr old 1.5 kW capacity system with 5.3 kW because their grandfathered rate would be cut to 1/3 with the new installation. Their monthly energy use hasn’t increased and they plan no EV, but i guess they figured that the almost fixed installation cost dominates over the # panels installed on their new roof.

  19. ChrisFromGA

    Re: Senate to examine walkaway deaths in assisted-living facilities Washington Post (furzy)

    I nominate Mitch McConnell as the sub-committee chair. Maybe he could even enroll in a facility, you know, as an undercover agent … wink, wink.

    1. griffen

      Isn’t the facility where Mitch currently serves as a US Senator more or less an assisted living facility ? Yeah a lot of them would get a real shock if they had to live in an actual assisted living facility…

      Joe Biden, Mitch “freeze framed” McConnell, Nancy in the House, Charles Grassley…heck the ghost of Diane Feinstein is probably still walking the halls. Our fearless leaders in action.

      1. Wukchumni

        …are you talking in regards to a 2 stroke penalty?


        I could see it was a rough-cut Wednesday
        Slow-motion weekdays stare me down
        His lack of reflex got around
        There were no defects to be found
        Video image froze without a sound

        Thursday morning was a hot flash-factor
        His frozen face still focused in my mind
        Test-strip, proof of senility is hard to find
        By Friday the spotlight will no longer grind
        Stop-time for Kentucky if he lost his mind

        Freeze-frame (freeze-frame)
        Freeze-frame (freeze-frame)
        Freeze-frame (freeze-frame)
        Freeze-frame, now freeze

        Now I’m lookin’ at a flashback Wednesday
        Zoom lens feelings just won’t disappear
        Close-up quiet, no sweet-talk in my ear
        His bot-spot moment was so strong
        This freeze-frame moment can’t be wrong

        Freeze-frame (freeze-frame)
        Freeze-frame (freeze-frame)
        Freeze-frame (freeze-frame)
        Freeze-frame, now freeze

        Freeze-frame (freeze-frame)
        Freeze-frame (freeze-frame)
        Freeze-frame (freeze-frame)
        Freeze-frame, now freeze

        Like a freeze-frame (freeze-frame)
        It’s like the freeze, he’s a quiet breeze
        It’s like the freeze, he’s

        Freeze Frame, by J. Geils Band

        1. griffen

          Golf clap…I politely applaud the wizardry on display! That’s a keeper.

          I was recently thinking of a 2024 themed tune with lyrics, set to the classic Ramones “I wanna be sedated…” I know the tune but not all the words quite well enough…

        2. ChrisFromGA


          Hadn’t thought about the J. Geils band in a while. That would make a nice background music for his next presser. Although i suspect his handlers will be careful to wait for a “good day” before allowing Freeze Frame Mitch to get near a microphone without a script.

        3. ChrisFromGA

          Note that “Freeze Frame” was released in 1982 with a “B” side arguably just as good if not better:

          “Flamethrower” never became a hit, but I remember a local watering hole in Buffalo using it for their radio promotions.

          The establishment also featured a giant wheel they would spin, and if the patrons got lucky it could land on “free drinks” for the whole bar. “Freddie’s special” was quite the draw back in the day.

          Being 15 at the time, along with the legal drinking age being 18 in NYS, and a liberal sense of what constitutes “ID” I may or may not have participated in such activities. It depends what the statute of limitations for public intoxication is in NY.

  20. CA

    High level theory, research and development publication shows 3 of the top 5 science publishing institutions to be Chinese, 7 of the top 10 to be Chinese and 11 of the top 20 institutions:

    The Nature Index

    1 September 2022 – 31 August 2023 *

    Rank Institution ( Count) ( Share)

    1 Chinese Academy of Sciences ( 7436) ( 2224)
    2 Harvard University ( 3673) ( 1123)
    3 Max Planck Society ( 2621) ( 655)
    4 University of Science and Technology of China ( 1853) ( 638)
    5 University of Chinese Academy of Sciences ( 3161) ( 634)

    6 French National Centre for Scientific Research ( 4440) ( 617)
    7 Nanjing University ( 1431) ( 599)
    8 Peking University ( 2226) ( 587)
    9 Tsinghua University ( 1827) ( 580)
    10 Zhejiang University ( 1449) ( 549)

    * Annual Tables highlight the most prolific institutions and countries in high-quality research publishing for the year

  21. zagonostra

    >Why the oligarchs LOVE democracy Alex Krainer (Micael T)

    What struck me in several discussions, is how deeply the Davos attendees care about democracy.

    Yes indeed, that “care about democracy” is their top concern. That’s why journalist are targeted in Gaza to the tune of over 107, at last count I read. That’s why Julian Assange is in rotting in prison. They care so much about democracy that they know it can’t exist without a “free press.” All news distribution outlets, including NC curate the links, deciding what items to include and which to exclude, and comments are, and must be in order for the “bad” not to drive out the “good.” There is a real Overton window here, that I’ve hit up against from time to time, but it leaves room for reasonable interpretation. But, that’s an entirely different order/type as CNN agreeing to submit to Israeli censors.

    Targeting civilians, destroying hospitals, school, whole neighborhoods, stopping food and medicine from reaching bombed denizens is patently obvious to anyone who can look and see the truth. Seeing how the “attendees at Davos” are so set in outlining polices that protect our “democracy” is much more subtle and takes much more effort to understand. And, as Douglas McGregor has pointed out on various podcast, most Americans aren’t paying attention and don’t much care. It gives the Davos crowd plenty of wiggle room to “fix” things.

    1. albrt

      Actual White House transcript:

      AUDIENCE MEMBER: Genocide Joe, how many kids have you killed in Gaza?

      AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!

      * * *

      AUDIENCE MEMBER: Israel kills two mothers every hour!

      AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!

      h/t T. Ryan Gregory and Roots Action.

      1. JBird4049

        AUDIENCE MEMBER: Israel kills two mothers every hour!

        AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!

        That is only (check calculator) 69,888 mothers! If it keeps Greater Israel safe, it is worth it! /s

        Pardon me, but my stomach is now hurting.

  22. The Rev Kev

    ‘John Burn-Murdoch
    NEW: an ideological divide is emerging between young men and women in many countries around the world.
    I think this one of the most important social trends unfolding today, and provides the answer to several puzzles.’

    I’d want to see a lot more detail about this study. Is this a real trend? I would say probably but how many people took part in these surveys. Were they street surveys? Ones held in colleges thus biasing it with the infamous Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich and Democratic (WEIRD) slant? Do liberal young women match themselves up with liberal guys or conservative guys? Do conservative young men match themselves up with liberal girl or conservative girls. Do economic conditions have an effect on participants? Class too? So many questions.

  23. CA

    “China containment becomes a lose-lose strategy for everyone…”

    The US formally adopted a China containment policy in 2011. Containment was from the beginning to be focused on Chinese science and technology advance, and has since become containment of Chinese economic growth and development and even international relations.

    After 12 years of US containment policy, China in 2022 was 20.8% larger in GDP than the US and 26.3% larger than the EU. China in 2023 has grown far faster than the US and EU, no matter the policy laments and complaints of prominent Western economists:,532,534,546,111,&s=PPPGDP,&sy=2000&ey=2022&ssm=0&scsm=1&scc=0&ssd=1&ssc=0&sic=0&sort=country&ds=.&br=1

    October 15, 2023

    Gross Domestic Product based on purchasing-power-parity (PPP) valuation for China, European Union, India and United States, 2007-2022


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

  24. KD

    Europe’s Trump challenge: Is it ready to fight Vladimir Putin alone?

    Multiple Personality Disorder has been rejected in the DSM, but Europe is starting to sound like a geopolitical Sybil:

    1. Personality 1: NAFO. Russia is losing, running out of missiles, cannibalizing washing machines for microchips, and if NATO just cleans out all the junk in its attic and supplies it to Ukraine, Russia will lose and Putin will be removed from power. If NAFO is correct, then Europe has nothing to worry about because Russia is about to lose.

    2. Personality 2: Putler is Coming. Russia is the new incarnation of the Wehrmacht, and won’t stop rolling until the Pyrenes. If Putler were coming, and you were not secure in your military capacities and wanted time to build up, then you would put in place the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, creating a buffer, or you would negotiate another Minsk in bad faith so you could build up. Further, its not like Europe is incapable of this, this was their admitted strategy for Minsk I and II. If Putler is coming, if NATO really believed what they are saying, they would immediately go to negotiating table and see what kinds of limitations and delays and concessions they can get from the Russians. Yet, words in one direction, actions in another.

    3. Personality 3: War Crime Barbie. Lets bring the big Z to Davos and collectively engage in some fantasy about resolution of the conflict in the form of a “peace plan.” Lets send long range artillery systems to Ukraine so they can bomb civilians shopping at farmer’s markets! If you actually believe in Putler ready and able to invade and subordinate Europe, why would you do something this provocative? What exact benefit does NATO get from enabling Ukraine to commit war crimes and acts of terrorism? Maybe they are going for the lock in, if they can get enough people in the regime to commit war crimes, then members in the regime will have to stay committed to the suicidal war because they don’t want to face the consequences if the regime collapses or loses. But this helps NATO how in the long-term?

    A constant deluge of schizophrenic brain salad from NATO, combined with actions that have no relationship to reality on the ground. Its hard to understand how anyone can take it seriously, except that if you have authoritative voices repeating the same bullshit over and over, people will repeat it.

  25. Tom Stone

    As the Biden administration’s “Fern Palsy” disasters multiply I keep hearing the Wizard of Kalorama’s “You can not overestimate Joe’s ability to F..k things up” in the back of my mind.
    The FBI’s pivot to fighting “Domestic Violent Extremists” is likely to get a big boost over the next few Months, among the indications that someone is a “Potential DVE” are being “Anti Globalist” ( A Nationalist ) or possessing subversive literature like the “Federalist Papers”.
    Yup, the “Federalist Papers” are officially subversive literature.
    When Kamala Harris is looking like a better choice than Biden things have become very strange indeed.

    1. Feral Finster

      Of course the Federalist Papers are subversive, and for the same reason Patrick Henry defended thr Baptists of Virginia against the charge of unauthorized preaching from The Bible.

      God forbid that the masses read such works and compare with their present state.

  26. Mikel

    “Why the oligarchs LOVE democracy” Alex Krainer

    Oligarchs don’t love democracy. By redefining the word, as if their global economic sysyem is the definition of democracy, they can blame the problems that are caused by their oligarchy on democracy.
    They ultimate talk about democracy as a means to subvert it.

    As for Europe, it seems to me that they had their chance to integrate Russia into Europe after the fall of the Soviet Union. But looting Russia, from the inside and out, was the order of the day.

    1. digi_owl

      “Democracy” as we know it today came out of Enlightenment Britain. Where it seems more and more like it was used as a way to hamstring the nobles vis a vis the rising merchants and industrialists.

      After all, to vote most places early on one need to be a man of some means. Often that meant owning land.

      Only later was it begrudgingly expanded to incorporate all adult (working age) men, and more recently women.

      But at the same time we see the rise of parties, that allow the oligarchs to shift their control from directly voting to picking who the masses can vote for. End result is what we see today where most of us choose between sock puppet A or B, with the outcome being 4-5 years of the same polices no matter who stands in from of the microphones.

      1. Vicky Cookies

        The political system is meant to be the means by which the public, in a democracy (as Aristotle described them), takes part in the distribution of power. This is why he wrote that it was desirable to beef up the middle class, so that politics would not become one-sided class war followed by revolution, and the society would achieve stability. U.S. policymakers may have had this in mind in the 50’s and 60’s; our current crop don’t seem to, as they feed the middle class to the rich.

        Personally, I think that in such an unequal society, democracy could be more fruitfully considered more a means than an end in itself, though the just redistribution of opportunity through education, &c., would still be an ultimate goal.

        For now, when I hear the word the word ‘democracy’ from elite-types, I mentally translate it to ‘proceduralism’, just like when I hear ‘rule of law’, I think ‘class rule’.

        1. JBird4049

          From the New Deal and into the early 70s, it was thought good that an influential and large, growing middle class was the best for the country. It was the same reason why even the most misanthropic Founder Fathers were supportive of democracy; too much wealth and power into too few hands eventually means corruption, poverty, and civil unrest, and perhaps the destruction of the state as well as everyone’s welfare.

          IIRC, Aristotle thought an aristocracy was the best form of government as it combined the rule of a small group emulating a king and the rule of a democracy bringing the wisdom and wishes of the many. king, aristocracy, and democracy against a dictatorship, oligarchy, and mob rule. He thought as well that system of government flowed from a democracy to mob rule to aristocracy to oligarchy to kingship to dictator and the around again. The creators of American political philosophy were not so much pro democracy as anti dictatorship/oligarchy, and mob rule, while giving the majority, however small, some influence, however little. The American Republic was their solution.

          I believe that they would would have agreed with Lord Acton:

          Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority: still more when you superadd the tendency or the certainty of corruption by authority. There is no worse heresy than that the office sanctifies the holder of it.

          We no longer have a democracy, have flow past mob rule and the unofficial aristocracy, and appear to have arrived at an oligarchy. I also think that the near complete ignorance of history and philosophy especially American history is a reason for the mess we are in. Neoliberalism is just rule by oligarchy and monopsonistic corporations, just another type of fascism wearing the skins of democracy and free markets.

    2. eg

      Didn’t Aristotle claim that democracies inevitably degenerate into oligarchy? This would be at least adjacent to oligarchs “love democracy” in name, if not in practice, as cover for their own ascendancy.

  27. lyman alpha blob

    Here’s something for those interested in the Myanmar coverage. A few days ago I mentioned a book I’m reading called The Art of Not Being Governed by James Scott. He’s the same author/anthropologist that wrote Against The Grain a few years ago that garnered some discussion at NC if I remember right. The book is about the highland area in Southeast Asia and Scott describes how until the 50 years or so, peoples who wanted to escape the grasp of lowland states could escape to the hills and form their own communities.

    Apparently one can still do so. Just ran across another promising book that discusses the Wa people that currently live in this area. They’ve made their own ministate complete with its own military, and their primary economic focus is manufacturing mountains of methamphetamine. Here’s a link to the book –
    Narcotopia: In Search of the Asian Drug Cartel That Survived the CIA.

    And from the blurb –

    “In Asia’s narcotics-producing heartland, the Wa reign supreme. They dominate the Golden Triangle, a mountainous stretch of Burma between Thailand and China. Their 30,000-strong army, wielding missiles and attack drones, makes Mexican cartels look like street gangs.

    Wa moguls are unrivaled in the region’s $60 billion meth trade and infamous for mass-producing pink, vanilla-scented speed pills. Drugs finance Wa State, a bona fide nation with its own laws, anthems, schools, and electricity grid. Though revered by their people, Wa leaders are scorned by US policymakers as vicious “kingpins” who “poison our society for profit.”

    In Narcotopia, award-winning journalist Patrick Winn uncovers the truth behind Asia’s top drug-trafficking organization, as told by a Wa commander turned DEA informant. This gripping narrative shreds drug war myths and leads to a chilling revelation: the Wa syndicate’s origins are smudged with CIA fingerprints.”

    A little glimpse of how societies will be run for the rest of us in the not-too-distant future once the crumbling capitalist edifice collapses?

  28. Mikel

    “What Happened to David Graeber?” Los Angeles Review of Books

    He is indeed missed.

    But a little bit of trivia, back when Huffpo still allowed anonymous posting and just after the 2008 crash, I remember 99% vs 1% language formulating among commenters.
    The discussions could get harsh on Huffpo, but it was very lively.

  29. Mikel

    “Democratic concerns grow amid RFK Jr. ballot push in battleground states” The Hill

    Just look at the headline. A ballot push (ballots allegedly being a main factor of a democracy) is raising “democratic” concerns.

  30. CA


    January 23, 2024

    U.S. Statement at the Universal Periodic Review of the People’s Republic of China

    As Prepared for Delivery by Ambassador Michèle Taylor

    We condemn the ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang; human rights abuses in Tibet, Inner Mongolia, and across China; erosion of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in Hong Kong; and transnational repression to silence individuals abroad.


    January 24, 2024

    Central Tibetan Administration

    “The UN China Review Finds Unprecedented Support for Tibetan Rights by Member States, While Beijing Shuts Down Criticism”


    January 3, 2024

    Xinjiang’s Urumqi sees record number of tourists in 2023

    URUMQI — Urumqi, capital of northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, welcomed a record-breaking 100 million visitors in 2023, local authorities have revealed…


    December 25, 2023

    Traditional Tibetan dance swings its way into urban life

    CHENGDU — At a public square in Chengdu, a bustling city of over 20 million people in southwestern China, 24-year-old Tibetan dancer Yanggyi, prepared for her performance, adjusting her traditional attire and the bun behind her head.

    As the tune of a Tibetan love song permeated the night air, she entered the dance floor, initiating a vibrant Guozhuang dance party…

  31. Feral Finster

    Study: Record sickness rates are pushing Germany into recession Business Panorama via machine translatio. Micael T: “Oh, of course, the employees being sick is the reason. Nothing to do with gaspipelines, companies moving production abroad, greedflation and everything else.”

    Let’s pretend this is undisputed. So why are German employees getting so sick all of a sudden? Am I truly the only one thinks that this is a sort of obvious question to ask? Or does the author think we’re all stupid?

    1. gk

      > Israeli Minister: “Hague Schmague”

      Not even original. Israel did something similarly childish when the UN declared that Zionism is a form of racism.

      Haifa even renamed “UN Avenue”. No, not back to its pre-1948 name of “Al-Jabal”, but to “Zionism Avenue”. I don’t think that Israel has any streets named after the ICJ to rename.

  32. farmboy

    Do you hear the 70’s calling? You wanna get laid back then you went to a protest. Boys will be boys, but hey now girls will be girls!

  33. Mikel

    “Chris Hedges: It May be Genocide, But it Won’t Be Stopped” ScheerPost

    It’s looking more like a test case for all of these authoritarian governments around the world to implement their own high profile “cleansings.”

  34. Wukchumni

    Biden: Look Abbott, if you’re the Governor, you must know all the players.

    Abbott: I certainly do.

    Biden: Well you know I’ve never met the guys. So you’ll have to tell me their names, and then I’ll know who’s playing on the team.

    Abbott: Oh, I’ll tell you their names, but you know it seems to me they give these players now-a-days very peculiar names.

    Biden: You mean funny names?

    Abbott: Strange names, pet names, Patriots For America, etc.

    Biden: Well then who’s on a first name basis?

    Abbott: Yes.

    Biden: I mean the fellow’s name.

    Abbott: Who.

    Biden: The guy on a first name basis

    Abbott: Who.

    Biden: Who gets the money…

    Abbott: They do, every dollar. Sometimes the org comes down and collects it.

    Biden: Who’s org?

    1. Amfortas the Hippie

      and in a similar vein…altho i agree w Yves’ assertion the other day that Simplicius is not strong on politics
      from almost a year ago:
      “The other factor is: let’s say by a hypothetical year of 2030, the U.S. has degraded exponentially to the point where the division in society and within the government is even far worse than it is now, and so many other geopolitical problems are flaring that the central government’s hands are completely tied. For instance, maybe by that point the Taiwan-China crisis (amongst others), is at its peak, the U.S. military is somehow embroiled and completely occupied, with the majority of its forces tied up overseas—not necessarily in kinetic conflict, but playing an important hair-trigger deterrence role all around Taiwan and elsewhere.
      It’s possible that a strong state like Texas can spring secession on them at that point, when the government is at max distraction and would not realistically be able to do anything about it. Especially if this is then followed by a fast cascade of Florida and other states, it would quickly form a coalition strong enough to deter the federal government of the nominal U.S. from so much as threatening to act.”

      the whole thing looks pretty prescient in hindsight.
      ive also been thinking about Anatomy of a Revolution(by Crane Brinton) of late…i read it almost 40 years ago, when i found it laying around the house for some reason(my parents had numerous obscure books just laying around, and this has had a big influence)

      1. .Tom

        This is a good example of Simplicius enjoying one of his many flights of fancy. The conflict between Texan pols and the union is far more valuable to Texan pols than being independent and trying to make that work. So long as a real fight for independence is distant, it makes for good politics and it works well for the other side too. You can’t keep all the people distracted by public bathrooms all the time. Talk of a civil war is a better distraction. So I like Markus Kasperczyk’s account.

        1. steppenwolf fetchit

          If Texas actually tried to achieve actual independence, the re-risen Republic Of Texas would certainly try to extort defense and security guarantees from the United States of America against a Reconquista Mejicano. In the event of this scenario actually playing out all the way, the United States must never ever give the re-risen Republic of Texas any such guarantee.

          Texas must drink from the toilet it is filling all by itself.

          Or else the non-Republican plurality of Texans must somehow figure out how to take power in Texas and destroy the civic and public and political power of the Abotteers.

  35. Sean

    Speaking of Boeing blowoff jobs, Nikki Haley was on the board of directors when the enshittification happened.

    “Dear President Trump,

    Please make it a federal crime, via the F.A.A. for any plane to leave the factory with defects caused by humans, be they inspectors or accountants. Any deaths resulting from such a human caused defect should result in the federal death penalty for the inspectors and accountants found responsible.”

    WWII anecdote. After aircraft were serviced by the Luftwaffe, that’s the German air force for you kids, the mechanics that worked on it had to ride on the plane on the first test flight.

    1. ChrisFromGA

      Putting the Nikki Girl on the board was the ultimate “bullshit job.”

      Until it turned deadly serious.

      Better to have handed out pocket knives to monkeys and unleashed them at a nickel back concert. At least the entertainment factor would have been there.

  36. Alice X

    >Chris Hedges: It May be Genocide, But it Won’t Be Stopped

    My emphasis, and for me, at least one great takeaway from yesterdays ICJ ruling.

    It is clear from the ruling that the court is fully aware of the magnitude of Israel’s crimes. This makes the decision not to call for the immediate suspension of Israeli military activity in and against Gaza all the more distressing.

    But the court did deliver a devastating blow to the mystique Israel has used since its founding to carry out its settler colonial project against the indigenous inhabitants of historic Palestine. It made the word genocide, when applied to Israel, credible.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Hedges does not get it. The ICJ can bind only UN members. Hamas is not a member. The court would correctly (as opposed to mendaciously) be criticized if it ordered a unilateral ceasefire that left Israel open to Hamas attacks. And Israel could get all high and mighty that the ceasefire provisional measure proved the entire process to be crap.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Just as a point of clarification. Didn’t the ICJ demand that Hamas release all the hostages? If so, wouldn’t that mean some sort of recognition or standing?

        1. Aurelien

          Not as such: the Court says it was

          ” gravely concerned about the fate of the hostagesabducted during the attack in Israel on 7 October 2023 and held since then by Hamas and other armed groups, and calls for their immediate and unconditional release.”

          “Calls for” is a standard term used by governments and institutions when they have no actual power to influence things, but want to stake out a position. It’s often used in political communiqués.

          Technically, the ICJ has no jurisdiction over Hamas because the latter is not a state actor and thus cannot be a party to proceedings. The Court, according to its website, is open to states on an essentially voluntary basis. It is not a subsidiary organ of the UN, and has no automatic jurisdiction.

  37. Tom Stone

    The extreme language being used by people who have never witnessed or experienced extreme violence concerns Me.
    I witnessed my first two violent deaths and the first amputation on the same day, the summer I turned 10.
    By fire, two people trapped in a car where Hwy 580 exits onto 80.
    The amputation occurred when the driver of a bulldozer had the slope he was working on collapse, throwing him in front of the machine.
    His torso was sticking up and so were his yellow boots, in between was not.
    If you think that what you have witnessed on the screen is anything like the real thing you are delusional.
    It is ugly, it is messy, it smells bad, the flies show up almost instantly and the screams stay with you forever.
    ANYONE who thinks a Civil War or ANY War is a good idea is flat out nuts.
    I am very grateful to have been introduced to the teachings of the Buddha in Sunday school well before these events occurred.

  38. CA

    What I am asking myself, however naively, is just how severe is a loss of moral integrity in foreign affairs? I suspect the answer is indeed “severe” and I suspect the answer will from here limit Western countries such as the US and Germany:

    Arnaud Bertrand @RnaudBertrand

    The level of misinformation is off the charts.

    Israel’s spokesperson takeaway from the ICJ ruling is that they threw out South Africa’s case and reaffirmed Israel’s right to defend itself.

    Both patently untrue.

    11:49 PM · Jan 26, 2024

  39. Arkady Bogdanov

    Re: What happened to David Graeber
    I cannot say that I have read all of Graeber’s works, but my 50 years of evolving toward and within anarchism helps me see things here that the author seems to be missing, or avoiding. Any anarchist worth their salt will tell you that the state is not the root problem. The root problems are the concentrations of power and/or wealth (one leads to a concentration of both- concentrated wealth will always seek to acquire power, and concentrated power will always seek to acquire wealth. The USA and USSR are lessons here, respectively). Graeber clearly understood and sought to explain that the state, rather than being the cause of these concentrations of wealth/power, was rather the resulting nexus of wealth and power, and becomes a captured apparatus. If you were, in some way, to create an anarchist polity, it would interact with states. Most anarchists believe that when such an anarchist polity was pragmatically forced to take action collectively, for instance when it had to negotiate with states, it would do so via a form of confederalism, direct democracy, etc., but regardless, for all practical purposes, would such a polity when acting in this manner, not be practically defined as a state? It seems to me that this is what Graeber was trying to grapple with in his work. A state itself is not the problem in and of itself, but how to prevent a state’s capture and control by concentrations of wealth and power, and as far as I’m concerned, and as valuable as Graeber’s work is, Bakunin had figured that out long ago- you empower people to prevent wealth and power from concentrating. The big question is how we get there from here.

    1. Joe Well

      From my memory of The Dawn of Everything, this review felt off to me, too.

      IIRC, Graeber and Wengrow were problematizing the concept of the state just based on the simple fact that what gets called a “state” is mostly in the eye of the beholder when looking at historical pre-capitalist groups of people, particularly indigenous American groups. Consequently, debates over what is and is not a state suck the oxygen out of study of these groups of people and are therefore not worth having.

      They were rebelling against academic debates over what makes a state in pre-capitalist societies, not rejecting the obvious reality of states in today’s world.

      1. aleph_0

        After reading, the article seems like another entry in the time-honored tradition of, “The stand-outs of the last gen all became reactionaries, and I’m the real radical.” Always feels bad to read what either is bad-faith professional clout-chasing or an extreme misreading of the actions and writings of a person who wrote with great nuance.

  40. antidlc

    60 MInutes
    Real estate owners saddled with half-empty office buildings as hybrid work trend continues

    Looking for signs the U.S. economy can continue to stave off a recession? Avert your gaze from commercial real estate. City office buildings are in trouble. For a century, the towers have been propped up by two pillars. One, workers filling the buildings all week. Two, money flowing freely in the form of loans to borrow, buy, and build. Those days are over. As hybrid work hardens from trend to new normal, office occupancy rates have hit all-time lows. Meanwhile interest rates have spiked to historic highs… and now the mortgage comes due: $1.5 trillion in commercial real estate loans expire in the next two years. It’s enough to make you rethink the future of cities. We criss-crossed Manhattan, talking to players big and small, about a sector rocked to its foundations.


  41. CA

    “The politics of physiocracy” Branko Milanovic

    A wonderful essay, as should be expected from Branko Milanovic, but a note on “pragmatism.”  Pragmatism is a concept which William James developed.  Pragmatism refers to the difference in lives that the truth of an idea makes.  This is very important to understand and explains Chinese philosophy and policy making from Deng Xiaoping on.  When Xi Jinping describes China as “socialist with Chinese characteristics,” Xi is explaining Chinese policy pragmatism.

    Policy pragmatism long characterized the resiliency of China, which after all is a 5,000 year old civilization, whose science and technology advances were described by Joseph Needham of Cambridge in 27 monumental volumes.

  42. Jason Boxman

    If you’ve not been paying that much detailed attention to COVID, SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19: From Crisis to Solution is a must read. The introduction quickly summarizes the facts of the case at hand, that COVID is primarily a vascular disease that can cause multi-organ damage, and that repeat infections lead to worse outcomes. It’s well sourced. SARS2 isn’t to be trifled with. From the Canadian study that they cite:

    In the general population, the odds of developing symptomatic long COVID were about 15 % after the first infection, 25 % after the second and 38 % after the third infection. Half the patients reported no improvement of symptoms over time and two thirds did not receive adequate medical care

    It’s sourced with about 100 other papers and resources detailing the known horrors of SARS2.

    I credit NC with still being alive today. If I continued to believe Establishment media, as I did over 20 years ago, I’d likely have been infected multiple times by now, with an unknown by likely not positive outcome. During the whole of the December and January wave, not a peep about COVID in the NY Times by and large, for example. No wonder most people consider it “over”.

    1. RookieEMT

      I have given up on masking but am still spooked by Covid. I caught it once and now take precautions.

      Mostly just the vitamin D. I’m shocked I haven’t caught it again despite being in public multiple times at restaurants, a few large events, and occasionally a crowded room. I’ve been at EMT clinicals and even an emergency bay room and still never caught it again.

      I ended getting my butt kicked by the flu last week. I tested it three times all negative for covid. I’m just confused as to how one of the most successful and aggressively spreading viruses hasn’t jumped me again yet.

      I knew a responder at my old rescue squad who just never caught covid despite being on the frontlines for years. His guess is hanging out with too many dead bodies and getting some kind-of immunity that way.

      1. kareninca

        I check reddit/covid positive every day and there are still lots of people catching it for the first time. And the second time. And so on. The virus is insidious; its timing is not the sort of timing that human psychology is good at taking account of. There are a lot of people who describe having caught it once, having then gone long periods without catching it, and then catching it again.

      2. SocalJimObjects

        You can catch Covid and be asymptomatic, which is the case for a majority of people, I believe. AFAIK, currently there’s no test that tells you that you’ve never caught Covid ever.

    2. AndrewJ

      Thanks for the link. Tested positive for covid for the first time today. Ran out of my wintertime zinc supplements a couple weeks ago – coincidence? Probably.
      If we didn’t live in the stupidest timeline, my own habits – thanks to NC – of cracking windows, ensuring airflow and using HEPA filters when gathering friends would not be an outlier.
      I was beginning to think I was one of the half of the population that wasn’t susceptible to it. But I suppose not. I’ve had the most social winter I think I ever had, and my mental health is better as a result – it’s been a while now since my multi-decade depression has taken weeks or months from me. Here’s the flip side of that coin, I suppose.
      Time to tuck in to my supply of the drug-that-shall-not-be-named, hose down my sinuses with povidone, and all the rest… All this doomer news is pretty grim reading but does make me feel like I’ve got the tools to interpret reality and react accordingly. Thanks for that.

    3. kareninca

      I don’t understand why repeat infections lead to worse outcomes. If it forms reservoirs, shouldn’t one infection be enough over time to reach the same endpoint as repeat infections? Also, the virus in a reservoir mutates, so a single infection is ultimately repeat infections. Maybe it is because repeat infections mean repeats of the acute phase? But the acute phase doesn’t seem to be the main damaging thing. It is confusing. I wonder, when they calculate the risk of repeat infections, if they take into account how long a person has been infected altogether. Would three infections in three years be worse than one infection that was three years prior and has been festering?

  43. Brian Wilder

    Just a side note to Branko on the historical physiocrats:

    France in the 18th century was often close to famine and agricultural bumper crops did tend to set off general booms of a sort in all economic activity. Banking and finance were also institutionally underdeveloped. The focus on agriculture as the key to prosperity was well-motivated by experience.

    1. Revenant

      Also, weren’t the physiocrats motivated by the contemporary thinking about the circulation of blood and the circulation of money/income?? Isn’t that even in the name, physiocrat and physician (and, anachronistically, possibly physics)?

      Agriculture, in a pre-fossil fuel society, is the only exogenous energy and wealth input into society….

  44. converger

    On residential solar in trouble: Mission Accomplished.

    There is a lot going on here, which I will try to reduce to a few defensible assertions:

    Solar is a distributed resource. It makes sense to match distributed production to distributed demand.

    Bottom up distributed networks are cheaper and simpler and far more resilient than obese top-down networks built for dense energy sources like dinosaur toenails and radioactive stuff you can also use to make bombs.

    Distributed solar could easily and reliably meet residential, commercial demand, if we were serious.

    The US has never been serious. Solar costs twice as much in the than pretty much everywhere else. Solar installers literally spend more on marketing than they do on hardware or labor.

    Utilities *hate* distributed solar, and have worked very hard to kill it. Captured regulatory agencies have cheerfully supported killing distributed solar.

    This is partly a fundamental conceptual problem: we spent a century building energy infrastructure on bigger and more centralized. Faced with a new world where smaller and more diffused is often a better answer, the corporate and institutional impulse is to double down on decades of failure.

    This is serious. It’s not just a problem of corporate greed and enshittification. If we don’t get serious about distributed resources, there is pretty much zero chance that we can decarbonize the grid, let alone get anywhere close to aspirational fantasies of electric everything by 2035.

    1. steppenwolf fetchit

      It sounds like an obsolete legacy culture. Can it be worked around here and there? Could ” willing neighborhoods” set up their own distributed multi-rooftop solar panel gardens on every house and build their own parallel ” airgapped-from-the-mainstream-grid” parallel little sealed-off self-contained “willing neighborhood grids”?

      Would the barriers and obstructions be merely legal and cultural? Or actual, physical, technological? If its do-able in theory at a high price, would the “willing neighborhoods” find it worth the price to air-gap themselves from the incorrigible irredeemable mainstream grid culture and its mainstream grid?

      ( By the way . . . . it works! This comment got through! So thank you Mr. Strether and everyone else involved for your interventions).

      1. scott s.

        Maybe Edison was right, and distribution should be DC. With AC distribution, managing power is so much more complex. Of course, power engineers will tell you they can provide software-based solutions for this, and I suppose AI will somehow manage it all effortlessly. My disclaimer though is I have no commercial experience, it’s mostly via work as electrical officer and chief engineer on naval combatants.

        When I was in school, power engineering was a declining part of EE departments. Not sure how it stacks up these days.

  45. KD

    City Journal is right-wing, and the article is about the SPLC and the ADL acting in bad faith against conservative groups to mobilize federal law enforcement against what was formerly constitutionally protected speech and political associations, but I believe this machinery is in process against critics of the Israeli genocide in Gaza:

  46. steppenwolf fetchit

    If an opportunity emerges to help get Kennedy onto Michigan’s ballot, I will take that opportunity to help.

    Every potentially-major candidate is or will be bad-on-Gaza. At least Trump would be bad on Democrats.
    And Kennedy would be bad on Democrats while being better than Trump or Biden on many other things. So if one wishes to vote one’s vengeance against the Bidencrats, it would be better to have 2 options than just one.

    And maybe having Kennedy on enough State ballots to deny either brand name candidate an electoral victory if every State with Kennedy on its ballot voted for Kennedy would torture and terrorize the Bidencrats into offering something better than what Kennedy is offering. And if not, denying either brand name candidate an electoral college victory would at least make the system scream.

    I hope the Kennedy forces try getting on just enough states to prevent either brand name candidate from winning if each of those states voted for Kennedy. That would make him a spoiler to a system which needs spoiling.

    1. Glen

      Thanks for the link. When you lose Richard Aboulafia, that says lot about the state of Boeing. And he also mentions the defense side of Boeing which may actually be in worse shape that the commercial side.

      Here’s what’s over at Leeham News and Analysis:

      Leadership changes required at Boeing, say conference delegates

      First off, I think Boeing is still the canary in the coal mine with regard to the current state of American heavy manufacturing. All American heavy manufacturing companies are in similar shape (including the MIC). Their management has systemically destroyed the highly skilled work force at almost all levels. They have wiped out R&D, and routinely ignore even their own technical experts on how to proceed. No matter what Boeing does, it will be lucky to be back near “normal” within a decade of stopping the current management stupidity (and I don’t know how you stop it, it’s extremely profitable for upper management to run the company into the ground). Don’t underestimate how hard this will be – every MBA created in the last couple of decades is working hard to turn their company into another Boeing as we speak.

      I think to make the changes necessary to stop the further gutting of America, it’s best to look at the past and see what laws and regulations prevented this in the past. One obvious change was to allow stock buy backs. This should be made illegal again. Another other obvious change is to raise corporate taxes to force upper management to either pay taxes or invest in the company. Others can chime in with more ideas as the changes that need to be made are not exactly rocket science. The real miracle will be if any of these changes get enacted.

      1. Senator-Elect

        Thank you for this excellent comment. I fully agree. Upper management in both private and public sectors is ideologically committed to cost-cutting. Spending and even investment is a sin.
        It’s like the people who ran the economy and society after the war built a giant Jenga tower in which we all live, but those in control since the 1980s have steadily been pulling out the pieces beneath us. Sooner or later this thing is coming down.

        1. The Rev Kev

          ‘Share holder value’ It’s like a self-replicating mine for corporations to keep on hitting.

          Weather wise we had buckets of rain last night but now we are back to muggy humidity again so, progress?

          1. skippy

            If Milton said it … it was fact]tm] back the day, yet for everyone in the know it [buybacks] was a response to hyper aggressive LBO on corps with lots of cash aka savings [so much for that meme] … you know sorta like in the old days where one state would steal another’s GDP and call it war over some mundane rational = savages et al …

            Then the C-suite became due to bonus culture all about equity price and zero social good to consumers [citizans] and life it self on this orb.

            Split system on for two weeks on dehumidify … lucky I have this golf course lawn spray that stops vertical growth, but allows sideways and root growth … have only mowed twice this month …

            Love to share the Boutique Meats Kenmore Cape Grim three finger steaks I’ve got marinading at room temp in S/P, Heffeweizen, Tabasco, Lea&Perrins, garlic, reversed seared on a charcoal Weber w/a bit of Hickory smoke and w/a side of baked potato filled with wood smoke bacon, spring onions, cheddar, cream, and a lite balsamic dressed salad …

            1. eg

              Sounds like good eats, but I prefer nothing on my steaks but salt and pepper — for me marinating is for cheaper cuts.

              1. skippy

                Yeah I know what your saying eg, but this marinade really increases the meat flavor, have had people say it the best they tasted. Its not overpowering like most marinades. Also helps keep the meat moist during the slow indirect heat cook, meat is pulled when internal probe temp hit target, set to rest for 20 min and then coals are moved to center of the BBQ and cranked up. Then pop steaks on just for a moment to sear the faces.

                This way the meat is always cooked evenly inside, perfect tan line just as you cut through and the rest uniform colour and texture. Its fool proof. Took some over to my new neighbors and they were like ZOMG …

    2. rowlf

      I liked this comment that reminded me of the military and aerospace people that mentored me (my bolding):

      To put this discussion into perspective, these are my impressions of the culture at Boeing Wichita where I worked as a Liaison Engineer in the late ’70s. This may sound a little negative in places but it is not. First off, it WAS an engineering company. My job required use, fix, or replace decisions every day, many causing schedule impact and running into hundreds of thousand’s of dollars in today’s money. In that kind of job you always get pushback from production, scheduling, and at times the money people, but the outcome was always the same … whatever it takes to get it right. The unspoken, and often verbalized standard was, “would you let your family ride in that thing”.
      When I joined Boeing as a young engineer, the old timers were the very definition of intimidating, not suffering fools gladly and very vocal about it when you didn’t live up to their standards. That was more pressure there than the job itself, but a high honor if you made the cut. I worked around, and was mentored by people who fought the “Battle of Wichita”; built the first B52; designed the first machines of the commercial jet age; and helped get us to the Moon. When I started they were just breaking down some Saturn 5 tooling; one guy in my office helped design the Moon Buggy; and one, about to retire, started out working on plywood parts for Stearmans. It was a proud, arrogant bunch…and they had earned it.
      The production people were about the same… hard nosed, smart, experienced and intolerant of disrespect and stupidity. You just didn’t try to pull rank, or try to push off a bad decision slathered with BS because they would never trust you again.
      There was the usually grumbling about management, work conditions, overtime and compensation, same as in most any manufacturing organization, but in the end, it always came down to individual integrity, doing it right when nobody was looking and a “hell yes” to the question, “would you let your family ride in this thing”.
      I am grateful I had that experience, but I don’t wear my Boeing ball cap anymore.

  47. chris

    Does anyone have a link to the story about the IDF relying on Palestinian death estimates? I’ve tried to assemble some important links for future reference and post ICJ ruling it appears all the articles with even a slight anti-Isareli state topic are even harder to find than usual. Thanks!

  48. Jason Boxman

    For what it’s worth, having finally watched WW Z, I think we’ve got competition for the stupidest timeline, given the end solution. Actually living in a Pandemic, none of it is like in the movies. If everyone was dying, at least there’d maybe be some kind of response beyond simply ignoring it.

  49. steppenwolf fetchit

    Rereading some of the headlines in the links up above, it again seems to me that for those who want the American Empire to burn itself down soonest, Biden Unbound would be the President to achieve that. More support Israel-in-Gaza, more bomb Houthi, more support Ukraine, more bind Russia-China closer together, etc.

    For people who really do want to achieve the practical achievement of messy and disorderly destruction of America’s Empire as fast as possible, Biden really is the accelerationist choice. Whereas Trump might save the “near Empire” by discarding the “far Empire” to focus all forces on the “near Empire”.

    So what’s a good progressive to do?

    ( Since I am not a good progressive, I am not so tortured by the problem. I consider Trump’s plans and the Republican’s plans and the National Christianists’ plans to turn America into a Gilead MAGA Republic to be so distasteful that I may end up voting for Biden just to avoid that. And hope the wreckage of fallen empire won’t turn the resulting domestic wasteland into a Gilead MAGA Republic anyway.)

  50. Matthew G. Saroff

    Re, “Protest Convoy Headed to Southern Border Is Calling Itself an ‘Army of God’,” it reads better in the original arabic, ” حزب الله .” (Hezbollah)

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