Links 2/29/2024

Gonzalo Lira was born today; like Frederick in the Pirates of Penzance, February 29 would have been his birthday. –lambert

The Groundhog Watchers Nautilus. Citizen science!

One of world’s smallest fish found to make sound as loud as a gunshot Guardian

‘Dune’ stunt double? Terrifying creature may be even weirder than movie’s sandworms Study Finds. But most are less than six inches long. So far.

Berkshire Hathaway’s 2023 Results — Overview The Rational Walk


Nature’s Heartbeat, Visualized Climate & Capitalism

Texas wildfires forces shutdown at nuclear weapon facility. Here is what we know AP

The reawakening of America’s nuclear dinosaurs Searchlight New Mexico


Why Are We Still Flu-ifying COVID? Katherine Wu, The Atlantic


‘Two sessions’ 2024: China signals more fiscal pump-priming for the economy South China Morning Post

China broadens legislature on state security to include ‘work secrets’ Business Standard

Welcome to China’s Cat Island, where lucky strays wait for a new home WaPo

AI in Southeast Asia: As bad actors gain new high-tech weapons, so too for the defenders Channel News Asia

Vietnam’s ‘rice bowl’ cracks in monster heatwave Channel News Asia

Sri Lanka ends visas for hundreds of thousands of Russians staying there to avoid war Independent

One in Four Town and Village Elections in Japan Going Uncontested Nippon


With handouts, piped water and cooking gas, India’s Modi woos women voters Channel News Asia


Beyond the Houthis’ attacks on shipping: The absurdity of the India-Middle East Corridor Hellenic Shipping News. “Dry canals cannot compete with ‘wet’ canals! And that is why there is no truly dry canal in the world.”

Israel, ICJ and the movement for a principled and just world order Al Jazeera

New Not-So-Cold War

Pro-Russian separatists in Moldova seek Moscow’s ‘protection’ France24. The tail end of Moldova is about 60km from Odessa….

Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry on appeal by Transnistrian “lawmakers”: Russia cannot be a peacemaker Ukrainska Pravda

* * *

ISW: Russia holds offensive initiative Kyiv Independent

‘There’s only Plan A’: Defense leaders fear failure in Ukraine Politico

Nord Stream: Denmark closes investigation into pipeline blast BBC. So I guess Blob appendage Anne Applebaum’s husband was right. His famously deleted tweet:

* * *

Emmanuel Macron’s provocative advocacy of European troops on the ground in Ukraine Gilbert Doctorow

Germany rules out sending any troops to Ukraine Anadolu Agency

Estonian PM supports Macron’s idea of Western troops in Ukraine Ukrainska Pravda. No doubt.

Fire Jens Stoltenberg Now Before It Is Too Late! Weapons and Strategy

* * *

Russia-Ukraine War: China’s Vanishing Neutrality The Diplomat

The US art market is a sanctions black hole FT

Biden Administration

McConnell departure leaves GOP’s Reagan wing reeling Politico

House Freedom Caucus mocks McConnell as ‘(D-Ukraine)’ after retirement news The Hill

* * *

Congress reaches fiscal 2024 funding deal, new stopgaps in hopes of averting shutdown Government Executive

Johnson ‘unchanged’ on Ukraine, border crisis despite pressure at ‘intense’ White House meeting FOX

* * *

Biden executive order aims to stop Russia and China from buying Americans’ personal data Engadget. But not in the United States–

The Government Really Is Spying On You — And It’s Legal Politico


The $25B Kroger-Albertsons Merger Is Going to Fail Matt Stoller, BIG


Biden just got a physical. But a cognitive test was not part of the assessment NPR. Here is the Physician to the President’s memo (PDF), addressed to Karine Jean-Pierre, interestingly. (Biden seems to be on a lot of medication, including statins, but presumbly interactions aren’t significant.) On gait: “The team concluded that much of his stiffness is in fact a result of degenerative (‘wear and tear’) osteoarthritic changes (or spondylosis) of his spine.” As readers know, I’m not a fan of remote diagnosis (and I’m still waiting for a White House “reporter” to ask Biden to count backwards by sevens during a presser). That said, the dogs aren’t barking in the night on this. The first non-barking dog is the White House: Given the givens, it seems reasonable to conclude that no cognitive tests were run because the White House, at a minimum, was unsure what the results would be. Therefore, the conclusion that “Biden has cognitive issues, known to his inner circle,” seems inescapable (and says nothing about their nature or degree, or the effects of hyypothesized “juice”). By the same token, I would expect the efficient Republican oppo machine to have produced serious, medically-driven videos documenting Biden’s gait, flubs, etc., by now. That hasn’t happened either. Perhaps they want to prop Biden up just as much as Democrats do?

The Supremes

The One Big Question (PDF) Richard M. Re, University of Virginia School of Law. “Should courts, particularly the US Supreme Court, have a lot of power?”

Spook Country

The CIA in Ukraine — The NY Times Gets a Guided Tour Patrick Lawrence, ScheerPost

Did The New York Times publish its “The Spy War: How the CIA Secretly Helps Ukraine Fight Putin” piece to reveal government secrets in the public’s interest? Or was it to convince Americans that “Now these intelligence networks are more important than ever?” John Kiriakou, ScheerPost

The Bezzle

A marker:

Digital Watch

Google CEO calls AI tool’s controversial responses ‘completely unacceptable’ Semafor. Nonsense. This is PR-driven “Honey, I’ve changed”-style cope by Pichai. Anybody who knows anything about software development, especially in large corporations like Google, knows that Gemini was approved by multiple layers of management at every step of the way: whiteboarding, PowerPoints, demos, stand-ups, meetings, blah blah blah, and probably meetings with key vendors and clients, too. Gemini does everything that Google wants it to do, and any “guardrails” (how I hate that trope) installed now can be removed by Google at leisure.

Welcome to the Era of BadGPTs WSJ. “A new crop of nefarious chatbots with names like ‘BadGPT’ and ‘FraudGPT’ are springing up on the darkest corners of the web, as cybercriminals look to tap the same artificial intelligence behind OpenAI’s ChatGPT.” Implying, of course, that ChatGPT itself is not based on theft, and does not drive fraud. But nevertheless.

OpenAI sued, again, for scraping and replicating news stories The Register. The deck: “The Intercept, Raw Story, AlterNet want damages and to have their content removed from models.”

* * *

An update on the BBC’s plans for Generative AI (Gen AI) and how we plan to use AI tools responsibly BBC

Indexing the information age Aeon. Dublin Core (DC) metadata, 1995. Happy, innocent days. And today:


Julian Assange’s Grand Inquisitor The Chris Hedges Report

Justice Minister defends house arrest power for people feared to commit a hate crime in future Globe and Mail


All Aboard the Bureaucracy Train Asterisk. Terrible headline, well worth a read. Deep-dive into public transportion cost structure, in the US and worldwide.

The Culture of Aviation Safety (excerpt) James Fallows, Breaking the News

The Carry-On-Baggage Bubble Is About to Pop The Atlantic

Zeitgeist Watch

This bookshop in Fort Collins is paying people to sit down and read quietly The Colorado Sun

Odd thrift store donation found to be a WWII-era grenade, prompts evacuations: ‘A rarity’ FOX

The Final Frontier

The mathematically perfect exoplanet system — a great place to search for alien tech

Guillotine Watch

A billionaire-backed campaign for a new California city is off to a bumpy start AP. “[Former Goldman Sachs trader Jan Sramek’s] California Forever company can count on the deep pockets of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and venture capitalists, including philanthropist Laurene Powell Jobs and LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman.” Then I’m sure everything will be fine.

Class Warfare

Scenes From the Bat Cave Maureen Tkacik, Prospect. The headline is cute but doesn’t match the impact of the post, which shows how private equity looting turns hospitals into death traps.

Environment: The wealthy cause climate change; the poor suffer its consequences Pearls and Irritations

Is The New York Times’ newsroom just a bunch of Ivy Leaguers? (Kinda, sorta.) Nieman Lab

Amid cholera outbreaks, desperate countries face depleted global vaccine stockpile Center for Disease Research and Policy. I blame the lockdowns.

Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. Antifa


    Mitch McConnell announces he is stepping down as Minority Leader.

    I done married a gal from Kentucky
    She’s wider than tall which is lucky
    She’s as strong as a bull
    Lord the things she can pull
    Which helps when my tractor gets stucky

    From DC Mitch heads home to Kentuck
    As if anyone there gives a shuck
    He’ll get lots of his favy
    Corn grits and pork gravy
    No more oysters and snails and pressed duck

    McConnell’s Kentucky home state
    Has a high unemployment rate
    Their coal hills get stripped
    Coal gets burned and gets shipped
    Yet the workers find beans on their plate

    For several hours each year
    Mitch would try to fetch jobs for us here
    A warehouse or mill
    Jobs that need no skill
    We endeavor to persevere

    Kentucky’s a white reservation
    We don’t hold with no miscegenation
    Our Confederate pride
    Well it has never died
    This Union thing’s just a flirtation

    A Senator out of Kentuck
    Went to DC to try out his luck
    He stayed cool and calm
    As he greased every palm
    And made SCOTUS a huge fustercluck

    In Kentucky you can’t wed your sister
    Though she’ll marry whomever’s kissed her
    Any gender she likes
    Then she’ll raise little tikes
    Provided whomever’s a Mister

    Y’all know Harlan County by name
    Where they have no restraint and no shame
    Should you manage to thrive
    You won’t leave there alive
    Boot Hill is their hall of fame

    1. griffen

      Well done! Arguably as a state, some of the state’s best products are thoroughbreds, whiskey, and varied brands of men’s college hoops ( avid followers can wear Kentucky blue while jeering the Louisville brand of red ).

      I’d suggest that Muhammad Ali gets the brass ring for best Kentuckian ever, born in Louisville in 1942. While still boxing under his given last name, Clay won the gold medal at the 1960 Olympics. Clay later converted, and became a world renowned boxing champion and humanitarian. When professional athletes today celebrate their fame and fortune with earnings that can reach $40 to $60 million per year in their peaks years, they all owe a debt to Ali and those who came from that era of amateur and professional sports. Russell, Oscar, Jim Brown…only to name a few.

  2. petal

    In case anyone would be interested in watching this, posting so there’s enough time to plan: Today, 8-9pm (EST US) free on youtube at the link.
    An Election on Trial: A Conversation with Jake Tapper ’91 & Neal Katyal ’91
    “The Rockefeller Center at Dartmouth and the Dartmouth Minority Pre-Law Association invite you to a timely conversation between CNN Anchor and Chief Washington Correspondent Jake Tapper ’91, and Neal Katyal ’91, Paul and Patricia Saunders Professor of Law at Georgetown University and Partner at Hogan Lovells. The discussion will focus on the unique legal circumstances surrounding the 2024 general election”.
    The other blurb for it:”An in-depth conversation focusing on the unique circumstances of the 2024 general election and how former President Donald Trump’s legal challenges are shaping the election. Anthony Fosu ’24 hosts. Herschel Nachlis and Anna Mahoney moderate.”

    1. zagonostra

      CNN, Jack Tapper? God bless you. I don’t have the intestinal fortitude for either. I often wonder why people go back to the same poisoned well to drink. I guess someone has to report out…

      The majority of news since the war began, regardless of how accurate the initial reporting, has been skewed by a systemic and institutional bias within the network toward Israel,” a CNN staffer told journalist Chris McGreal.

      1. petal

        Yep, he’s one of the College’s trustees, too. My dog likes us to go to bed around 7, so I doubt we’ll be tuning in. Just posted in case folks are interested in hearing what their line of thought(heh) is.

          1. petal

            Glad to hear mine isn’t the only one! He has honed his harassment skills over the years. He makes me stop working and do things to relax and settle down. “Food & Walk Lady, it’s time to stop now.” It’s good for both of us-relaxing and cuddles. He’d prefer 630, but I try to stretch it to 7.

            1. barefoot charley

              My girlfriend’s (now wife’s) cat let us watch The Next Generation till 10, then camped at the bedroom door staring at us while we chatted. Not at all aggro, but guilt cuts deep. I didn’t mind.

  3. The Rev Kev

    “Estonian PM supports Macron’s idea of Western troops in Ukraine”

    Prime Minister Kaja Kallas supports Macron? Of course she does. The women is an idiot. No, change that. The woman has extreme ambitions and in this case she wants to become NATO’s next Secretary General and the way to do that is to prove that you hate Russia the most. Doesn’t mean that you are about to have an Estonian Brigade head off to the Dnieper though. That would require political courage and that is not Kallas’s department.

      1. ambrit

        Ah, but those cunning counselors at the Court of Grand Fenwick planned to lose their war. Is Estonia that devious and byzantine in it’s planning?

    1. vao

      she wants to become NATO’s next Secretary General and the way to do that is to prove that you hate Russia the most.

      What I have read is that Mark Rutte is the favourite candidate, because important NATO countries prefer his lower-key demeanour and definitely do not want a russophobic harpy who might cause diplomatic (or worse) damage with uncontrolled pronouncements.

        1. Danpaco

          I hope so!
          It’s pretty obvious that the Trudeau liberals will find themselves as the opposition after the next election and chrystia will be out of a cabinet job.
          Unfortunately she’s my MP, from a solidly Liberal downtown Toronto riding and will be re elected.
          I would love to see her off to greener pastures and NATO sounds like the perfect bureaucratic morass for her.

    2. Feral Finster

      As I said previously, once you read that an escalation is “under consideration”, the matter has already been decided.

      See, e.g. tanks, ex-Soviet aircraft, F-16s, long-range missile, etc. for Ukraine. First comes the “consideration” along with the frantic denials. Then an American snaps his fingers and the puppets fall into line.

  4. griffen

    Succession plans always matter, whether in business or politics or heck even in major college sports programs. It will be interesting in the near months, who steps up to follow Mitch “Semi Pro Freeze” McConnell. Politico article quotes a few potential candidates, one supposes; whether it is (Peter Thiel-supported) Vance, Rubio or Hawley (ick) it will be more akin to Lord of The Flies…

    Last man ( or woman ) with the shell gets the role !

        1. griffen

          I fail upward and You can Too! just do what the marketers tell ya, and accept lobbying at all hours of the day…

          Be sure to smile and kiss even the ugly babies, but not the young women…that is reserved for grandfatherly figures who like ice cream…\sarc

            1. griffen

              Rule of thumb…say if the father or parent of said child saw me getting far too close and offered me a choice. Door # 1, keep my life or Door # 2, that parent will end my life…not a difficult choice for many I suggest.

              Was watching in the past week, one of those Dateline NBC episodes whereby a main suspect had a rap, and a history, having served time for his interest in underage children. Some people are just flat creeps, and highly creepy.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      The old rule of thumb was Team Blue followed seniority rules more than the Republicans ever did, so with that in mind, McConnell staying on as leader as long as he did likely indicated there is no potential leadership replacement. He probably recognized that except for continuing resolutions governing is over until 2025. Hawley is a weenie. Rufio betrayed the Bushes and is a joke to the Trump base. Vance is kind of there. The Politico article is basically a random name list.

      Ernst, though she might be on the short list, and Thune are obvious. I don’t know who raises money, but the GOP gets so much money they don’t care as much. How much do you need in Alabama?

      Grassley is the ranking member of the budget committe, so he’s use to the work the position requires. Occasionally, these guys are showman and hard workers , but the spots are rarely filled with showman who golf. There is a reason Clyburn wanted to the primary calendar and not the chance to be Speaker. He’s not going to skip golf and cocktails.

      1. ambrit

        Hmmm…. Perhaps they could try using Sorta-tition.
        “He’s sorta electable. She’s sorta a campaign donations ‘magnet.’ It’s sorta an Establishment approved Governing Unit.” Etc. etc.

  5. .Tom

    I’m no weapons nerd so please check I understand Stoltenberg’s proposal about UA’s use of F16s. These should fly from bases in NATO because RF can prevent then from flying from UA runways. RF will shoot them down if they get close so all they can do is launch missiles. So how us UA actually functioning as a proxy? How is Stoltenberg’s idea different from NATO launching missiles at RF?

    1. The Rev Kev

      If an F-16 fighter takes off from an air base in Poland or Moldova or Romania and proceeds to attack a Russian target in the Ukraine, then international law says that legally the Russians have the right to attack the NATO base that it came from. And there you have an all out war between NATO and the Russian Federation. Unfortunately you have a bunch of lunatics with power that thinks that this idea is just great as that is what they actually want. Of course the Russians will be hunting those F-16s and as all Ukrainian anti-air missiles are all about to run out in March, the life-expectancy for an F-16 pilot will not be very long, even if you have a western pilots at the controls.

      1. marcel

        Unless they are down in Moldavia, those NATO can’t come close enough to do something useful without refueling in-air. So Russia can just have fireworks in the (Ukrainian) sky to get rid of those F16s.

      2. Feral Finster

        Who cares what international law says? Certainly, nobody of influence and authority. The only question is what is anyone going to do about it.

        Just like how Western government are ending their support of Israel, because international law. Somehow, they don’t seem to care.

    2. Es s Ce tera

      What Stoltenberg might be considering is that there are about 4000 F-16’s in active service, but (according to Wiki) only an estimated 1200 Russian planes ranging from MiG-29s to Su-57’s.

      So he’s probably trying to find a way for NATO to be engaged in direct conflict just so NATO can use that numerical advantage. NATO planes are probably now stockpiled across the EU countries, waiting for the go ahead to saturate Ukraine and Russian airspaces.

      I think Stoltenberg is tipping NATO’s hand, they intend to engage mainly by air.

      We know the Russians have stockpiled massive amounts of air-to-ground and ground-to-ground missiles, but what do we know about ground-to-air quantities and total S-200/300/400 batteries? I guess this is the wildcard, a bit untested compared to the ground space.

      However, if there’s no Ukrainians left on the ground then what good is winning the airspace?

      1. Snailslime

        Seeing as it is NATO that Russia has seen as the threat for decades, and it is well aware of the size of NATO airforces (Well, really just the US airforce), it seems rather unlikely that they wouldn’t have plenty of missiles plus small change for all those planes.

        Such an extremely obvious priority doesn’t seem like something they’d ever overlook.

        Indeed I’ve heard it said countless times that the numerical superiority of the US airforce after the 90s was THE number one reason why Russia started to invest so massively in it’s missile programm in the first place.

        It would seem incredibly, suicidally stupid for NATO to try their luck up that alley.

        If true, as usual more something cooked up by politicians than by actual military strategists.

  6. CA

    Arnaud Bertrand @RnaudBertrand

    The UN special rapporteur on the right to food Michael Fakhri says the UN has “never seen a civilian population made to go so hungry so quickly and so completely” as in Gaza, and that “this is now a situation of genocide”. *

    Given the extreme importance ICJ judges place on expert testimonies from the UN, this is a critical voice in the case against Israel.

    Here’s what Fakhri said in more details:

    “There is no reason to intentionally block the passage of humanitarian aid or intentionally obliterate small-scale fishing vessels, greenhouses and orchards in Gaza – other than to deny people access to food.

    Intentionally depriving people of food is clearly a war crime. Israel has announced its intention to destroy the Palestinian people, in whole or in part, simply for being Palestinian. In my view as a UN human rights expert, this is now a situation of genocide. This means the state of Israel in its entirety is culpable and should be held accountable – not just individuals or this government or that person.

    The speed of malnourishment of young children is also astounding. The bombing and people being killed directly is brutal, but this starvation – and the wasting and stunting of children – is torturous and vile. It will have a long-term impact on the population physically, cognitively and morally … All things indicate that this has been intentional.

    It was already a very fragile situation due to Israel’s chokehold on what goes in and out of Gaza. So when the war started, Israel was very easily able to make everyone go hungry because they had most people on the brink.

    We have never seen a civilian population made to go so hungry so quickly and so completely, that is the consensus among starvation experts. Israel is not just targeting civilians, it is trying to damn the future of the Palestinian people by harming their children.

    Israel will claim there are exceptions to war crimes. But there is no exception to genocide and there’s no argument as to why Israel is destroying civilian infrastructure, the food system, humanitarian workers, and allowing this degree of malnutrition and hunger … The charge of genocide holds a whole state accountable and the remedy of genocide is the issue of self-determination of the Palestinian people.”

    Fakhri also says that countries that cut UNRWA funding are complicit: “Ending funding almost instantaneously based on unsubstantiated claims against a small number of people has no other purpose other than collective punishment of all Palestinians in multiple countries. The countries that withdrew this lifeline are undoubtedly complicit in the starvation of Palestinians.”

    * Israel is deliberately starving Palestinians, UN rights expert says

    11:17 AM · Feb 28, 2024

          1. CA

            “The cold, inhuman cynicism of it defies my understanding.”

            Thank you for the words. I am appalled but have no proper words, so I use yours.

            1. JBird4049

              Oh, I can understand the reasoning behind the Israeli actions because I am assuming that the Israeli génocidaires do not think of the Palestinians as human, but as untermenschen. Subhuman. Maybe the more appropriate term would be lebensunwertes leben or “life unworthy of life.” Once I replace the term Palestinian with either of those terms when thinking about the Israeli actions, it becomes clear.

              Honestly, I have never thought that my studying the Holocaust would be helpful to understanding the current genocide, but there it is. There is also the Rwandan Genocide and to a lesser extent, the Cambodian Genocide, not as to the methods of the actual killing, but the systematic dehumanization of the victims as well as the dehumanization of the perpetrators.

              There’s a method to it. Make the victim as “cockroaches” as was in Rwanda and convince “your” that like vermin they must be exterminated. Then create a bloodlust in the community to hack their victims into pieces or get the young ones, those who are easily manipulated into monsters to suffocate in bags or bash their heads in with rifle butts and shovels. Or if you have an modern western army, you can use bullets and bombs, but in examples the perpetrators can see the unarmed, the old, the young, the crippled and ill people that they are murdering. The ones that have not completely lost their souls often become alcoholics or spend their lives desperately trying to rationalize what they have done, trying to convince themselves that they are not monsters.

              Ain’t history so freaking wonderful to study? God damn it.

        1. Em

          Don’t cite to NYT when there are far more reliable sources like NY Post and randos on Twitter. Sure it’s still read by tens of millions of braindead liberals, but that’s like saying we should take QANON seriously because it had tens of millions of believers at its peak.

  7. griffen

    Bitcoin pricing. I was up and at em a little earlier this morning, and on CNBC they interviewed a bullish analyst and a bearish fund manager on the future / near future outlook on Crypto and Bitcoin in particular. None too surprising the analyst with the bull take shared his firm’s price target for Bitcoin, by year end 2024 to be 100,000. Makes for a nice,rounded number even if that sounds far fetched but I’m a cynic on the varied cryptocurrency offerings.

    Let’s see, the math for a YTD price increase on Bitcoin shows it has increased in price, from say 42,500 at 12/31/23 up to 62,450 quoted this morning. Insane this seems, just insane.

    1. Wukchumni

      $4.01k update:

      Finally after what was tantamount to a tiered struggle of compounded downturns on my nest egg purchased on the basis of $57k @ the top of the market, I was finally able to break free of the tyranny of losses and turn a profit, now looking at about a 8% return on account of the fiat lady singing.

      1. Wukchumni


        In a real money intrusion, the only person I know of that invested in Bitcoin was one of my mom’s Filipino hospice nurses. She was all-in, and this was in July when it was $30k.

        What do you do, sell and back into the fortress of 5% guaranteed return on your money in the bank, or ride that train, high on acclaim, Satoshi Nakamoto you better watch your speed.

        1. griffen

          I think you tap the button saying “Sell” and count your winnings. That’s just me, since these strong tailwinds that support such a remarkable higher move can also reverse in a spectacular fashion.

          I can’t help but think of the Simpsons episode, where they are riding the Enron rollercoaster…”We’ll all be Rich !”…

          1. Wukchumni

            The only time I ever saw the public doing the right thing en masse was in 1979 during the Hunt Brothers silver bubble.

            The Bros took silver from $6 to $48 an ounce in about 8 months flat, and there were lines of proles at every coin store looking to sell-no buyers to speak of.

            What made this bubble interesting was the Hunts wanted Comex deliverable 1,000 ounce pure silver bars-actual physical possession as was their right.

            Some silver was in pure 999/1,000’s form, but a lot of everything else was various finenesses, with US coins being 90% pure. It all had to be refined into pure to be salable into the bubble, and there weren’t many precious metal refineries, and no way-no how could they keep up with everything coming in, they were months behind when the Cinderella silver story value came back down to Earth in 1980.

            1979, by Smashing Pumpkins


        2. FredW

          Millions of Salvadoreños, Turks, Nigerians, and Argentinos very happy to be on that train. This gringo also happy, you probably should sell.😁

    2. Clwydshire

      Maybe this is a frivolous comment, but we seem to be headed toward some serious conflicts, perhaps a big regional war in the Middle East, a confrontation between NATO and Russia, perhaps a war, which neo-cons think will be brief (they are right for the wrong reasons) between China and the United States. I recall reading that Iran, Russia and China have really good state-sponsored hackers, and that their first targets in the US will be the power grids, weeks or months before missiles might fly. How much will Bitcoin be worth when when there has been only intermittent or no power in the big cities of the eastern US for a month, undersea cables are cut, and the global internet is eroding away? How will Bitcoin compare with gold then? I just cannot believe that fantasy money can survive when the really big fantasies of the last generation–the the US can be a superpower without manufacturing, that societies that revel in identity politics don’t crash and burn, and many other fantasies–die a hard hard death.

    3. Ken Murphy

      What I tell friends and family is that the “value” of any investment means -nothing- until it is cash in your bank account. -Everything- else is just a promise.

  8. Wukchumni

    Gooooooood Mooooooorning Fiatnam!

    It was the best of times-it was the worst of times if you were a politician whose last name started with Mc, as in Rocky when the pugilist demands of his corner man: ‘Cut me Mc!’

    Perhaps having a name such as ‘McSeeyalater’ would make it easier on the Pachyderms, in ridding themselves of the old guard?

    1. The Rev Kev

      Not so fast there, pardner. “Glitch” may be stepping down from his leadership role but he already said that he is sticking around till 2027 when his terms ends so ‘Four More Years! Four More Years!’

      1. Wukchumni


        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. The Rev Kev

          Future historians, when looking at media of “Glitch” McConnell, will have to look behind his figure to see if anybody is moving to determine if they are looking at a video or an image of him.

  9. flora

    AI: Taibbi’s latest. public excerpt:

    I Wrote What? Google’s AI-Powered Libel Machine
    Misadventures in Gemini, Google’s dystopian deep-slander invention

    From the longer article, after listing several AI potentially libelous abuses, Taibbi has these 3 para’s:

    “Incredibly, AI programs have been hailed as tools journalists should use. Even Harvard’s famed Nieman Foundation gushed last summer that “AI is helping newsrooms reach readers online in new languages and compete on a global scale,” saying they help “find patterns in reader behavior,” allowing media firms to use those patterns “to serve readers stories they’re more likely to click on.”
    “God knows what Gemini did in my case, but if caricatures of me riffing on Jews with penis-noses are what come out when Google’s “creative tool” runs my name through its Rube Goldberg machine, it’s hard not to wonder what lunacies go on in products like Google search for people generally. The potential for abuse is mind-boggling and almost makes you wonder about the reasons Google released this flawed product.

    “Did Google accidentally reveal errors, or is it advertising new dystopian capabilities? Neither possibility is reassuring. If their executives signed off on releasing this train, imagine what they’re not showing us. ”

    My aside: If newpapers are planning on using AI to suppliment or replace real reporters I think they’ll need large pool of in-house lawyers to fend off the inevitable lawsuits.

    1. .Tom

      I read that yesterday. Gemini is something else. Who asked for it?

      One of the ways that we can clearly demonstrate to those who believe in American democracy the nature of the duopoly is that either side could easily take a position on any of a whole range of issues with massive bipartisan popular support and do something or challenge the incumbent to. Fixing spam phone calls? Everyone hates them. Same with these AI horrors. Reputation, indeed life destroying BS against anyone is just clicks away. The psychopaths that made these pollution-spewing machines somehow get to shield themselves from liability. Fix that, why not? You could win the next election in a landslide on that alone if you really made the effort.

    2. flora

      edit, should read:
      “If their executives signed off on releasing this train wreck to the public, imagine what they’re not showing us.”

    3. Henry Moon Pie

      The world is a business, Mr. Beale. It has been since man crawled out of the slime. And our children will live, Mr. Beale, to see that perfect world in which there’s no war or famine, oppression or brutality — one vast and ecumenical holding company, for whom all men will work to serve a common profit, in which all men will hold a share of stock, all necessities provided, all anxieties tranquilized, all boredom amused.

      Reality will be tailored to each individual. Our chippy Oracle will feed us our daily bread of news and views to keep us smiling on the hamster wheel. My reality will be different from yours, and since our attention will be glued to our AI-directed device, we’ll never converse and learn how different our AI-constructed “worlds” are.

      Chayefsky had it pegged 50 years ago. It’s a religion. And like the Fundamentalists, it denies the history of human evolution.

      1. .Tom

        I love that scene. Thanks for reminding me.

        What’s a bit different here is that in their desperate race to win global dominance of AI, the tech firms are poisoning the well they drink from. Music, films, TV, online and hard-copy texts, all that culture that we strove so hard to crate, to rank and filter for value over so many years will soon be indistinguishable to anyone, including to the AIs, from the AI BS pollution. The cost of belching out AI BS is negligible and the purposes served by doing so are not compatible with the purposes inherent in the traditions of human culture. AI’s successes (such as they are) depend on the quality of the culture well it draws on. AI is going to pollute the culture to the point that its value as a training set for AI is gone.

        We need statutory damages for ingestion of anything we hold rights to if it is ingested into an AI without our permission. None of this DMCA safe harbor nonsense with take-down notices. They need to get permission first.

        1. Wukchumni

          A good friend just happened to be there, when Mother Nature let loose with a whole lotta hillside on the beach down in San Diego. The video is 10 minutes long and skip to around 8 minutes in to see the meaty bits.

          He has a few other Youtube videos but nothing really, and when he puts this one out, the eyeballs start multiplying en masse, and his kids tell him to monetize the video, so he does and now 10 million views later, he told me the other day he’s up to $6,500 in free money, thank you very much.

          How hard would it be to duplicate this via AI?

          Torrey Pines landslide, ends with a boom

        2. Mikel

          “…AI’s successes (such as they are) depend on the quality of the culture well it draws on. AI is going to pollute the culture to the point that its value as a training set for AI is gone…”

          The snake eating its own tail. Some of that has been seen with the advertising business model. The artistic creations in a culture have no instrinsic value, but value is assigned according to the creations’ usefulness to big corps and their brands.
          Or it’s not the skill of the content creator that makes them their money, but the t-shirts and mugs they sell.

  10. DJG, Reality Czar

    Reading the Fatto Quotidiano on the bakery terrace between the not-winter-not-spring rains we are getting. This morning:

    Joe Biden e il cono di gelato: “Altro che gaffe tipica di Biden: è una scena che per raccapriccio etico ed estetico lo rende diverso da Trump solo per una gradazione di orrore.”

    Quoting the estimable novelist and commenter Daniela Ranieri, describing Joe Biden and his famous ice-cream cone: “Rather than a gaffe typical of Biden, it is a scene that in its ethical and esthetic repugnance renders him as different from Trump only by a small degree of horror.” [translation DJG]

    Fatto Quotidiano, 29 February 2024, paper edition page 5. Ranieri’s observations mean that I will wait a few months before having gelato.

    1. Bugs

      I love the play on words, gradazione di errore / orrore

      Italian journalism is so lovely sometimes. I could spend a whole morning outside the bakery reading the paper. What a life… sigh.

      I was in India for this whole month and literally, all that’s left in English is The Hindu, which I read religiously every morning with multiple masala teas. There may be other holdouts from the Modi mind virus in other languages, but I feel like things have really hardened and the election is going to be a s***show for the INDIA alliance (Congress + other anti Hindu nationalist parties).

  11. Cassandra

    Re the Politico article on McConnell’s announcement as the end of an era for Reagan Republicans:

    McConnell’s planned departure from the top of the GOP conference will break the Republican Party’s most influential link to an earlier, pre-Trump type of conservatism — one anchored in hawkish foreign policy, pro-business economic policies and an emphatic rejection of populism.

    Please note that the Reagan wing of the Democratic Party is doing just fine.

    1. pjay

      Yes. The headline reminded me of the good old days when the neocon “Reagan Republicans” took over the GOP and the “Rockefeller Republicans” moved on over to the Democrats. Soon the neoliberal Dems managed to jettison most of their “populist” facade and continued to “evolve” as the neocons made themselves at home. It will be interesting to see what the marketing of both parties will be in the next few years. Regardless of their respective slogans, neither will represent the people.

      1. Cassandra

        As far as I can tell, the Blue team will ask your preferred pronouns before grinding your neck beneath their boot. They will also make sure that historically underrepresented groups will be among the boot wielders.

  12. SocalJimObjects

    All Aboard the Bureaucracy Train. For an article that advocates learning from other countries, I could not help but sense some hostility from Alon Levy towards learning anything from Japan, and it’s easy to see why, after all most train lines in Japan from 1987 onwards have been built and operated by private companies, and the later have done a most excellent job in keeping trains clean and running on time, while remaining profitable!!! They have also continued to invest in next generation trains, including the upcoming Shinkansen Maglev train that will run from Tokyo to Nagoya (178 miles) in 40 minutes. The Toei subway lines in Tokyo are operated by the city government, and those are equally good too, so Japan basically just does trains really, really well, public or private, surely there’s something to learn from that before making the conclusion that a competent public bureaucracy is a necessary condition for having good public transportation. I’ve never met a fellow tourist who does not want to take the Japanese train system home.

    Speaking about labor costs, Japan’s income per capita is the lowest among the G7 countries, even lower than Italy which is a “low cost” country, quoting from the article.

    1. Neutrino

      There is also the Japanese citizen propriety to include in explaining those tidy trains and schedules. People and cultures can, but certainly don’t in all cases, hold and encourage others to behave to accepted norms. Witness one recent sports example where the fans cleaned the stadium seating areas of litter before exiting.

    2. Henry Moon Pie

      They did a lot better with Covid too. And their history over the last generation could be seen as a gradual and fairly angst-free adaption to degrowth.

      They have their problems too, but there’s a lot more social glue left there than in the Anglo countries or Europe.

    3. upstater

      Not a very informative article. I certainly agree that the US lacks a competent, empowered bureaucracy to manage public transit. But we also lack the technical and engineering expertise for transit and rail. Another issue is lack of standardization of equipment and plant, some of which is a legacy problem, some parochial. The result is every light or heavy rail system is essentially bespoke. The federal government also shares considerable blame with onerous requirements, US content and sluggish response.

      There simply isn’t a lot of rail transit or intercity passenger rail. If an industry has been essentially gutted, it takes a generation to rebuild, assuming there is a political will to do so. There isn’t.

      1. Lee

        Chatting with my neighbor he told me about his brother in law who is a big name manufacturer in high quality precision ball bearings for racing bikes. When asked if he was considering bringing his factory back to the U.S. he said that the main problem was that the U.S. no longer makes the machines that make the machines and materials he requires. That is, a whole ecosystem of specialist suppliers of the means of production he requires to has ceased to exist in the U.S.

    4. gk

      I lost him when he said how hard it was to get information about Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco because it is all in French…..

    5. PlutoniumKun

      The ownership system of Japanese railways is quite complex – while most are now private companies up until quite recently both central government and lower tiers could have controlling stakes. These companies are mostly operators – actual construction of major lines is mostly funded directly by government. This is not dissimilar from the set up in France and Spain, both of which have notably cost effective systems. Looking across countries, the most successful systems seem to combine public sector design and construction, with private sector operators. As the article says, engineer led design bureaucracies tend to be much better at keeping costs down, although there is sometimes a price to be paid for this (I could rant about some of the designs I’ve seen, but it would take up all my word count).

      Much as I love the Japanese railway system, especially those dinky little trains serving remote rural communities, it has its issues, not least painfully high prices for many routes.

      It should also be said that the history of Japanese construction companies operating abroad is not very good – I suspect its a cultural issue – many domestic Japanese companies really struggle to get their heads around differing governing systems. This isn’t unusual – I once worked for a partnership company involving US, British, French and Danish engineering companies. The cultural differences were striking. For what its worth, the French were IMO by far the most efficient, despite (or maybe because of) their habit of long, alcoholic lunches.

      If you look at successful contractors around the world, its a good indication I think of a healthy industry. The French and Spanish are particularly successful, especially in the Middle East for implementing high quality railway systems. Unsurprisingly, they both have probably the best domestic systems too.

      The article does I think overlook a key distinction between the cost efficient and inefficient systems – the most cost effective ones almost invariably have long term construction plans featuring multiple lines. This allows a systematic build up of deep institutional knowledge across the industry and allows private construction companies to invest and tool up on specialist plant. One-off lines are a horribly inefficient way to do things – you spend a couple of years working out how to build something, and then at the end the entire design and construction crews are scattered to the winds. Its an idiotic way to do build infrastructure.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          Many thanks, those are fascinating articles (well, to those of us with a nerdish interest in public transport policy).

      1. ambrit

        Anecdotally, my Dad, who was a piping engineer at base, got a job when we moved to Florida in the 1960s with a company designing the Miami State Road 112, (now the I-195.) Dad was put on the team designing the on and off ramps, most of the interchanges then being designed as classic “cloverleaf” designs.
        First, the main contractor had never done a roads project before.
        Second, the company did not hire enough, (Dad said none at all,) traffic design specialists.
        Third, no outside specialist ‘consultants’ were utilized.
        Thus, the on and off curving ramps of the eventually built project are too tight for ‘regular’ speed use. Those ramps had high accident rates for a long time. I’m not sure how the problem was fixed, (if it ever was.)

        1. PlutoniumKun

          Having worked with many engineers who have ‘jumped’ specialities, this is far more common than you’d think. I encounter this every day on a local cycle path which was clearly designed by someone who had only previously designed highways (as it happens, I know the engineer who did the design, I can regularly tease him about it).

          I also have a vivid memory of a meeting where a railway engineer patiently explained to a group of former road engineers that transition curves can operate vertically as well as horizontally, and if they ignored this they would have the amusing experience of watching a TGV train go airborne.

      1. SocalJimObjects

        This is going to blow most people’s minds, but let’s take the city of Tokyo in Japan. Off the top of my head there’s the JR Lines, the Tokyo Metro lines, the Toei lines and the Keikyu line, all but the Toei lines are operated by private companies. So yes, I am talking about urban mass transit lines not owned and operated by the government. And it’s not just Tokyo, in Kyoto, there’s JR, Hankyu, Keihan and Kintetsu, all private companies.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          Yup, the system in Tokyo is madly complex. It shouldn’t work, but it does. Unless you are in possession of a JR pass and can’t work out which turnstiles will let you through….

  13. flora

    re: Justice Minister defends house arrest power for people feared to commit a hate crime in future – Globe and Mail

    ““There’s a lot of bad stuff out there. But this is not about the bad stuff. This is a much higher level,” he said. (Oh, yes, I’m sure it is a much “higher” level…. as in “politically higher” level. imo.)

    So the “Justice Minister” does not believe in free speech. He sounds like his thinking a perfect of example of this lady’s description of Marxist thought. I left this yesterday, but it fits here as well. Xi Van Fleet grew up in China in the 1960’s during the cultural revolution.

    Tucker and Xi Van Fleet. utube, ~45 minutes.

    1. flora

      adding: I like her description of claimed Marxist thought as seeing the world entirely as oppressor or oppressed. That claiming to fight the oppressors is only being a good-thought front or ruse to gain power. It has nothing to do with ending oppression.

    1. CA

      Notice that 3 of the top 5 high-quality world science research publishing institutions are Chinese.  Seven of the top 10 high-quality science research publishing institutions are Chinese…  That the US has not renewed the science pact with China could be astonishingly self-defeating for US science advance, but somehow US political leadership has not yet understood this.

      The Nature Index

      1 October 2022 – 30 September 2023 *

      Rank   Institution   ( Count)   ( Share)

      1  Chinese Academy of Sciences   ( 7545)   ( 2259)
      2  Harvard University   ( 3625)   ( 1122)
      3  University of Chinese Academy of Sciences   ( 3199)   ( 646)
      4  University of Science and Technology of China   ( 1860)   ( 642)
      5  Max Planck Society   ( 2574)   ( 638)

      6  Nanjing University   ( 1437)   ( 608)
      7  French National Centre for Scientific Research   ( 4269)   ( 602)
      8  Tsinghua University   ( 1856)   ( 592)
      9  Peking University   ( 2210)   ( 591)
      10  Zhejiang University   ( 1450)   ( 557)

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

  14. The Rev Kev

    “Welcome to the Era of BadGPTs”

    “A new crop of nefarious chatbots with names like ‘BadGPT’ and ‘FraudGPT’ are springing up on the darkest corners of the web, as cybercriminals look to tap the same artificial intelligence behind OpenAI’s ChatGPT.”

    What? No Rule34GPT yet? Somebody has been slacking off. In the past century and a half they have come up with electricity, telephones, aircraft, automobiles, precision machinery, penicillin, computers, mobiles, the internet, etc. but for the past twenty years all they can come up with is cryptocurrency, AI and ChatGPT.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Technically mrna vaccines. The just nave the been put into use for their intended method. Though I suppose they were orgiinally developed in the 90’s. A local hospital had a story about a patient with a second round of cancer being given a cancer vaccine. Since it was a media general paper, we can’t expect much, but its likely testing on a terminally ill patient of a designer mrna vaccine.

      The Chinese and Russians have neat stuff going on. We sent William Shatner into low earth orbit.

    2. Dessa

      A visit to Pixiv with the NSFW content box checked will show you plenty of samples created by some manner of rule34GPT. Rest assured that that community is well-served by automated content.

    3. Wisker

      These types of “cautionary” articles inevitably appear to prop a more nefarious establishment position. Like the “disinformation” charade, the goal here is to promote ideologically driven censorship and manipulation.

      These data tools are only functional to the extent they are driven by reasonably unrestrained utilitarian logic implemented by nerdy programmers. Imperfect and often market-driven to be sure, but still vastly superior to the brave new world of curated data.

      I think most here have probably experienced the recent propaganda refresh of search results on Google, Youtube, etc.

      In a slightly earlier iteration of this arms race we had the example of Google News. It used to draw from a pretty wide pool of sources, including indie and alternative news outlets. These got whittled down by the early stages of the “disinformation” wars over “harmful” articles about Palestine and the like. It’s now useless: an ever-narrowing list of approved sources and articles.

      The spectacular results of this censorship and steering have since been replicated in Google Search and the result is almost comically distorted search results on any ‘controversial’ topic.

      For all the garbage spewed out from GPTs in hopes of squeezing some cash from them, they are a tool with a few genuinely valuable use-cases. Fear not, a horde of imperial ethicists and disinformation experts are swooping in to save you from the horrors of insufficiently-curated data.

  15. DJG, Reality Czar

    Brethren and sistren:

    Last night, I chanced on a video by Marianne Williamson stating that she was “unsuspending” her campaign. She’s back in the race. Curiously, this video is not posted at her YouTube channel.

    This morning, I see that Forbes has picked up the story.

    So is she running again? Has she clarified her position on Israel? I also got the impression from her “back-in” video that she’s mainly running against Trump and doesn’t seem to have the chops to go against ice-cream-cone Joe.

    Please advise.

    1. Dr. John Carpenter

      I don’t think she has the chops to go against an ice cream cone. Who, apart from Krystal Ball, wants this?

  16. Milton

    Not understanding why a produced video needs to be relinquished from a local drive as it’s being pushed out to servers. I’ve produced and published many of our company’s videos to sites like YT and have never failed to save the finished video along with its components on my local machine.

    1. The Rev Kev

      I feel sorry that the guy lost five years of his work but god, has he never even heard of backups? Copying files to a local hard drive? If all your work sits on somebody else’s servers, then you don’t really own it. This was brought home to me when I heard about the image and video hosting company Flickr about a decade ago. Turns out that when you uploaded any images to Flickr – which included a lot of amateur and professional photographers – that Flickr then owned the copyright to that image. Surprise! And Flickr was monetizing those images to all sorts of organizations. Lots of people did not see that coming.

      1. t

        He was an employee, wasn’t he? If I tried to move something from a work server to a personal thumb drive or unauthorized file system, my head would roll.

        Could have pirated from home, though. Perhaps he should look on YouTube to see what’s there.

        1. digi_owl

          Yep. This was apparently videos made for a “news org”:

          Likely it got wiped as part of some Search Engine Optimization to avoid some old controversial stuff dragging down their overall score.

          Seen plenty of streamers and youtubers bemoan this and panic deleting backlogs as Twitch (Amazon) and Google change their policies in response to the political wind.

          In severe cases a decade+ old upload can get a whole channel memoryholed by the corporations in a self preservation move.

          Basically the net made book burning almost automatic.

      2. Pat

        If you read the terms of service Facebook did the same. I am not sure they marketed either the images or text, but putting it on Facebook makes it theirs.

        And could the gentleman’s complaint be related to compensation from those videos. If he was still getting some fee attached to the production of them? Not saying he was, but as with others I find the idea that he did not have a personal copy of videos he produced to be unbelievable. Even if he would probably be enjoined from posting them.

      3. LY

        The reason some of my photographer friends preferred Flickr was because you CAN set the license, which is something Facebook, etc. doesn’t let you do. My own photos were set to a flavor of non-commercial Creative Commons.

        1. Bugs

          Yes, I was going to say that – and it’s a great feature because that means that if you do want a photo for reuse, you can easily search Flickr and see what the rights are. It helped an art director friend of mine put together mock ups that she could show her clients to lock down the job. She also of course respected photos where the photog kept full rights. Good times.

      4. Carolinian

        And computer storage now is ridiculously cheap compared to the old days. There’s no excuse not to do home backups.

        Presumably “the cloud” sells itself as being more convenient and keeps the spybot aspect on the q.t.

        1. Es s Ce tera

          One use of blockchain, since it’s a shared/distributed and encrypted database, it can be used as a backup for information or creative works. But noooo, people want to use it as a ledger, are obsessed with the financial aspect instead of the keeping information free aspect.

  17. Wukchumni

    Texas wildfires forces shutdown at nuclear weapon facility. Here is what we know AP

    While drivin’ a herd of Pantex employees out of harms way
    Headin’ east at Amarillo on a hot February day
    Tryin’ to get out before a potential radioactive pyre
    We never counted in the odds of a winter western prairie fire

    A hot south wind was blowin’ and the air was gettin’ dry
    Somethin’ far away was spellin’ trouble in the sky
    Comin’ closer was a sound that topped the devil’s choir
    Then we knew we had to race a raging prairie fire

    When all at once a flame is seen a-lickin’ at the sky
    And every heart has quickened and there’s fear in every eye
    We’d just one chance to get away for there’s no place to hide
    Gonna be like Slim Pickens on that fateful Dr. Strangelove ride

    The herd is gettin’ tired but we’ve got no time to rest
    I try to clear the red dust that is gatherin’ in my chest
    From ridin’ tail on 4,200 head with the weather gettin’ dry
    The black cloud in the west is warning, “Drive, drive, drive”

    The roarin’ heat is closer ashes fallin’ by the nuclear site
    And every beast and bird is fleein’ with its warnin’ cry
    It’s yet to hit Pantex but it’s still ten miles or more
    And close behind us we can hear that wild infernal roar

    But fate had other plans, for we won that fatal race
    We lost neither man nor bomb, no danger taking place
    The mighty conflagration subdued its rage by veering away
    We did our best to get away but now its all clear on the bomb bay

    Now on the blackened prairie, far as the eye can see
    The grim remains are there to show that Gaia rules you and me
    Just one reminder left to tell the tale just one was the desire
    We nearly radiated the Panhandle thanks to a raging prairie fire

    Prairie Fire, by Marty Robbins

      1. s.n.

        Zionists Use Food-Baits To Attract And Kill Starving Civilians

        It was not immediately clear who carried out the deliveries.
        The UN was not involved, said a spokesman for the UN’s humanitarian co-ordination office, Eri Keneko.

        The trucks were sent by the Zionists. No other organization was involved. But when people came near to the trucks to collect the food they had carried into Gaza the Zionist went berserk:
        […]The killing today was not by chance. I do not believe that it was unintentional. The food deliveries were under Israeli controls. So were the troops who killed the Palestinians who tried to collect the ‘aid’.

        […] This is not the first time that a food convoy or aid distribution has been used by the Zionists to attract and then kill starving Palestinians.

        1. pjay

          The degree of impunity with which Israel acts is truly astounding. That the US continues to facilitate this blatant genocide is barbaric beyond words.

          I’d like to think that such horrific events have forced some truth on even the likes of CNN or the NY Times. But I actually expect to see another Hamas rape story pretty soon.

    1. griffen

      Thank you for the link, while overall a brief article which took a few minutes, at a minimum we can get a glimpse into the life he was leading before the Air Force.

  18. zagonostra

    >Covid vaccine mandate ‘unlawful’ – Guardian

    I may have missed this on Tuesday’s links…

    Covid-19 vaccine mandates for Queensland police and ambulance workers were made unlawfully, the state’s supreme court has found.

    The court on Tuesday delivered its judgments in three lawsuits brought by 86 parties against Queensland’s police ambulance services for their directions to workers issued in 2021 and 2022.

    1. DavidZ

      So I guess all vaccine requirements (mandates?) are illegal now?
      Let’s spread measles and other diseases?

      This is utterly ridiculous, with no thought for public health.

      1. flora

        You are confusing or conflating traditional vaccines like the Measles vaccine, that are long tested and work to prevent infection and transmission, with a novel experimental jab that does neither, and is still not officially approved in the US. (The one that got the approval is different and not available in the US.) Apples and Oranges. (I write this as someone who’s had more real vacs than you can shake a stick at. / ;)

        1. ambrit

          Fully agree. The ‘old’ vaccines were fully tested, before public distribution. The mRNA Coronavirus “vaccines” were never fully tested. Indeed, one can go so far as to assert that the public roll out of the mRNA “vaccines” constitutes a ‘Phase III Trial’ of said “vaccines.” (Some have opined that the public roll out of the Coronavirus “vaccines” was really a ‘Phase II Trial’ of the “vaccine.” In this scenario, ‘The Jackpot’ will be the real ‘Phase III Trial.’)
          The entire Coronavirus Pandemic and the subsequent reactions to it remind me strongly of the Thalidomide disaster of the last century.

            1. DavidZ

              “old vaccines”

              Give me a break. Plenty of Americans are already not vaccinating with “old true and tried” vaccines. So this is just another nail in the coffin of public health.

              Let the grim reaper loose!

  19. CA

    Arnaud Bertrand @RnaudBertrand

    Rare good read in French media on China. @renaudlambert in @Monde_diplo ( one of the more reasonable French media ) dismantles many preconceptions, showing that China is in fact a very decentralized country that does NOT seek to remake the world in its image.

    The power of the periphery in the Chinese state under Xi

    China: the invention of the roadmap to global power

    It’s well known that everything in China is determined at the centre by the autocratic head of the CCP in Beijing, who dreams of global power. The only problem is it’s not true.

    9:22 AM · Feb 29, 2024

  20. DavidZ

    Tucker Carlson was interviewed on Lex Fridman’s podcast

    I’m 1 hour in and tucker comes off as an elite who is out of touch with the rest of society.

    – talks about how he is afraid of sending his kids on the subway in NYC; I highly doubt he has been on the subway in years, there are kids, old people, working people all going about their lives, going to work, school, after school activites, grocery shopping etc.

    – he talks about how there is too much regulation; it’s like he has totally memory-holed the GFC, mortgage fraud by the brokers and financial institutions – because the Bush Administration didn’t want to check for fraud and then enacted laws to prevent states from enacting laws to ensure fraud was not happening – all this after the FBI put out a report saying there was a lot of fraud in the housing market.

    – he also talks about how expensive NYC is becoming that he wants to move out; this coming from a millionaire trust fund baby is a little too rich to swallow.

    1. ChrisFromGA

      “Job-killing regulations!” has been a trope of the business lobby for a while. It’s sad to see Tucker taking it hook, line, and sinker.

        1. ambrit

          And today, ‘centre right’ does not mean what it did even forty years ago.
          I’m convinced that today’s “Conservatives” wouldn’t recognize a real leftist if one came up and shot them in the ‘sitting down part of the Terran human anatomy.’

          1. JBird4049

            Carl Tucker is definitely a conservative by the standards of the past and almost a leftist by the standards of today. Going by the past, the Democratic Party, aside from its Identity Politics, is a business friendly, conservative, center right party, and the Republican Party has gone insane. Donald Trump might be able to drag them back to where the Democrats are today without the IdPol.

            We cannot measure the political establishment by yesterday’s standards because the entire landscape is different. Scoop Jackson would be considered a dangerous commie pinko, Putin lover even though (from what I remember) he was the standard New Deal, civil rights Democrat who very strongly supported military Keynesianism.

            Yesterday’s Democrats had a full faction of New Deal Democrats. The Republicans had one as well albeit weaker. Today’s Democrats are not only military keynesianists but all war, all the time.

            Maybe it is because I did not sleep well, but I see almost no difference between the Democrats of today with the Republicans of the past aside from IdPol, which is mainly a façade used by the leadership; IdPol is real and pernicious, but still a cover for the extreme economic positions it has today. Really, the entire political scene including the various factions is completely different today than the 1980s, forget before. The political genius of those groups who managed to subvert almost all of the political, social, and religious organizations across the Western world while blinding people to that reality is impressive. It does make talking about today harder because you have to rip this façade off before you can understand what is happening. And then you have to do the same to the people you are talking to. People, like the Covid deniers, refuse or just cannot see what has happened.

            Bluntly, Western Civilization has been mind screwed, a deliberate mental breaking into incoherent, fantastical thinking. A mental and emotional blindness. I believe it was done to get and maintain control of the world and its population for the proper manipulation and pillaging, but what happens when the unanticipated, unplanned for occurs? Some where so busy putting the now drunk driver into the seat, tapping the eyes shut, cutting the brake line, and jamming the steering wheel that they forgot to plan for happens if the boulder or tree fall across the road.

            Dwight Eisenhower’s stupid faction really is still really stupid, unwise really, but it is no longer small. Their number is negligible and they are stupid. It has been seventy years since the letter was written.

            (I have to say that after reading Eisenhower’s letter, I am impressed by his thinking. I do not agree with it all, but it is so much more intelligent than the drivel I am hearing at any level today.)

            1. digi_owl

              The language of politics really need new labels to replace the threadbare language of left right liberal and conservative.

      1. Nikkikat

        Never under estimate the power of Fox News or CNN to make people stupid. Carlson was saturated in that poison.
        He still maintains a good deal of the poison in the very fibers of his being. In interviews he continues these tropes.such as Putin is a thug, China is a dangerous enemy
        Plotting our demise. Regulation is bad. And last but not least, talk of the “radical left”. In any event I can see that while he may do and say some things that seem like he is reformed, look no further than that fake aghast face he wears when people say things that he cannot even begin to conceptualize in his right wing rich guy persona.

        1. BlueMoose

          I find myself turned off by the strange facial expressions. I have tried to watch a few of his interviews/podcasts but get fixated on the furrowed brow thing. In your opinion, is it a tic or a cultivated expression?

      2. anahuna

        I found the interview curiously interesting in places (though not his extended feud with Jon Stewart). He does the exaggerated astonishment thing, but part of what he’s astonished by is the difference between the propagandized version of Russia and what he actually observed there. Who else is going to convey that message to his audience?

        Who else with that sizeable audience is going to have a lengthy conversation with Glenn Greenwald on air?

        He does strongly imply that cleaning up American cities is a matter of policing, and he is similarly ignorant about the reasons behind the proliferation of drugs and suicide. However, since after his separation from FOX, he has shown a certain willingness to be astonished, wouldn’t it be useful to continue to open up a dialogue with him in hopes of drawing his attention to aspects of our American experience that he tends to willfully dismiss.

        1. DavidZ

          I noticed – that Jon Stewart interview really hurt Tucker Carlson and to this day he can’t seem to understand what Jon Stewart’s point is and why it resonated with lots of people. Tucker thinks that Jon Stewart resonated with people because he was more popular, instead of Jon Stewart was correct. Then Lex Fridman jumps in to dump on Jon Stewart – a total pillock!

          Journalists job is to report on what is happening in society + politics – to hold the powerful to account.

          Tucker Carlson doesn’t seem to get that point. he talked for probably 20 minutes about that one interview.

    2. tegnost

      mortgage fraud by the brokers and financial institutions – because the Bush Administration didn’t want to check for fraud

      The crime may have been under bush 2, but the failure to prosecute was the other guy, you know, Mr. Hopey Changey
      from 2012, which would be the first year I added not voting for dem presidents to my continued habit of not voting for republicans. At this point the dems have leap frogged the repubs as greater evil…institutionally corrupt.

    3. Craig H.

      I saw a man pretending to be dumb in the style of George Bush 2 and Joe Rogan. Only made it to the 25 minute mark.

      His dad was CIA. He is CIA. I don’t know this for a fact but it is like next to the only thing that makes sense. Say probability .95 or above.

      He took a face from the ancient gallery. And he walked on down the hall.

    4. Eclair

      I am about halfway through the Fridman-Carlson interview. Which I am watching as an adjunct to Carlson’s interview with President Putin. It’s a fascinating exploration of the muddled mind of Tucker Carlson. But it may be that he is in a transitional stage. He talks of his horror when he learned that the US government had really been ‘interfering’ in the affairs of other countries, contrary to what he had been taught. Many of us can relate to that.
      But he keeps insisting that in the US, contrary to ‘authoritarian’ countries like Russia and China, we have ‘freedom of speech.’ Then he goes into a long discussion of how MSM (and he says that MSM is the mouthpiece of government) newscasters cannot discuss or question certain policies or situation, or they will be fired. And how this fear of being left without a job (or health insurance!) stifles open discussion.
      But I can understand how he became, and has remained, popular. He has a real folksy charm, kind of ‘aw shucks, I know I’m a d**k, but let’s just get together and shoot the breeze.’

      And perhaps he possesses that Trumpsian facility of reading the vibe of the room and feeding it.

      1. digi_owl

        The guy has already proven that being fired do not phase him, as his personal wealth insulate him from the biggest dangers.

        But yeah, if Playboy was published today the pearl clutchers would not have gone to the supreme court. They would have instead badgered payment processors and banks into refusing Playboy service.

      2. Daniil Adamov

        I’d say the US (but not most of the West) does have freedom of speech in a sense that’s meaningfully different from the situation here in Russia, or in China, or in France. Unless I’m much mistaken, there are no laws punishing speech directly, outside of clearly marked special cases like libel. That is a meaningful difference, or it certainly looks that way from the outside. Of course there are many other ways to limit speech, and the Americans are very good at those; also, relatedly, there are many other ways to punish people for talking. But you wouldn’t get arrested for expressing an opinion.

  21. Wukchumni

    March Hadness coming to the Sierra Nevada starting later today. The storms heretofore have been of the pineapple flavor and not really big snow producers, with not much frozen water on the down low. but that was then and this is now and NWS is calling it a blizzard, batten down the hatches…

    As Mr. John Oakhurst, gambler, stepped into the main street of Poker Flat on the morning of the 23d of November, 1850, he was conscious of a change in its moral atmosphere since the preceding night. Two or three men, conversing earnestly together, ceased as he approached, and exchanged significant glances. There was a Sabbath lull in the air, which, in a settlement unused to Sabbath influences, looked ominous.

    Mr. Oakhurst’s calm, handsome face betrayed small concern in these indications. Whether he was conscious of any predisposing cause was another question. “I reckon they’re after somebody,” he reflected; “likely it’s me.” He returned to his pocket the handkerchief with which he had been whipping away the red dust of Poker Flat from his neat boots, and quietly discharged his mind of any further conjecture.

    In point of fact, Poker Flat was “after somebody.” It had lately suffered the loss of several thousand dollars, two valuable horses, and a prominent citizen. It was experiencing a spasm of virtuous reaction, quite as lawless and ungovernable as any of the acts that had provoked it. A secret committee had determined to rid the town of all improper persons. This was done permanently in regard of two men who were then hanging from the boughs of a sycamore in the gulch, and temporarily in the banishment of certain other objectionable characters. I regret to say that some of these were ladies. It is but due to the sex, however, to state that their impropriety was professional, and it was only in such easily established standards of evil that Poker Flat ventured to sit in judgment.

    Mr. Oakhurst was right in supposing that he was included in this category. A few of the committee had urged hanging him as a possible example, and a sure method of reimbursing themselves from his pockets of the sums he had won from them. “It’s agin justice,” said Jim Wheeler, “to let this yer young man from Roaring Camp–an entire stranger–carry away our money.” But a crude sentiment of equity residing in the breasts of those who had been fortunate enough to win from Mr. Oakhurst overruled this narrower local prejudice.

    Mr. Oakhurst received his sentence with philosophic calmness, none the less coolly that he was aware of the hesitation of his judges. He was too much of a gambler not to accept fate. With him life was at best an uncertain game, and he recognized the usual percentage in favor of the dealer.

  22. Carolinian

    Re Patrick Lawrence/Scheerpost–he cuts to the chase and talks about the rot at the Times

    The Church Committee is still widely remembered for getting its job done. But it never did. A year after Church produced its six-volume report, Rolling Stone published “The CIA and the Media,” Carl Bernstein’s well-known piece. Bernstein went considerably beyond the Church Committee, demonstrating that it pulled its punches rather than pull the plug on the CIA’s intrusions in the media. Faced with the prospect of forcing the CIA to sever all covert ties with the media, a senator Bernstein did not name remarked, “We just weren’t ready to take that step.”

    We should read The Times’s piece on the righteousness of the CIA’s activities in Ukraine—bearing in mind the self-evident cooperation between the agency and the newspaper—with this history in mind.

    America was just emerging from the disgraces of the McCarthyist period when Stuart Loory opened the door on this question, the Church Committee convened, and Carl Bernstein filled in the blanks. In and out of the profession there was disgust at the covert relationship between media and the spooks. Now look. What was then viewed as top-to-bottom objectionable is now routinized. It is “as usual.” In my read this is one consequence among many of the Russiagate years: They again plunged Americans and their mainstream media into the same paranoia that produced the corruptions of the 1950s and 1960s.

    Meanwhile at the WaPo the CIA relationship is almost overt. Hollywood too has changed from making sinister anti CIA thrillers like Three Days of the Condor in the 70s (an excellent movie) to an endless series of beat ’em up/shoot ’em ups where current or former CIA may be played by long in the tooth stars from those same 70s. The moguls too (and chuckleheads like Ben Affleck) have come to stop worrying and love the spooks.

    If one wants to step further back the CIA was always a creature of the US ruling class just as the Times and the WaPo now are. So the joined at the hip relationship is hardly surprising, just hypocritical for organizations that are always going on about democracy.

    1. zagonostra

      A long history and many good books on the subject, this from the safe shores of Wiki:

      Ralph McGehee, a former CIA officer, stated that the CIA often placed news stories anonymously in news publications to spread false ideas favorable to CIA goals. Stories that CIA planted might be picked up and further spread by additional newspapers and other third parties, in a slightly altered form, or even picked up as news and then rewritten by a journalist.[7]

      1. lyman alpha blob

        I remember reading Don DeLillo’s book Libra, a semi-fictional account of the runup to the JFK assassination, in the early 90s before the interwebs. There’s one scene where a spook tells another character the real story of some current event and the other character is incredulous, saying they read the exact opposite in the newspaper recently. The spook says “Who do you think planted the story in the newspaper?”.

        At the time, I was a bit incredulous myself that such a thing really happened. Now I think of how naive I was then.

    2. Amfortas the Hippie

      a more recent film regarding the provenance of the cia: the Good Shepherd.
      i watched it with my dad, who worked in image analysis for the DIA in the pentagon in the last years of LBJ(why i was born in Falls Church,VA.
      he kept saying…whenever there were uncouth or otherwise ugly goings on in the film:” yep…thats what they’re like”…or “thats how it was”, with regards to the paranoia/commies under every bed.
      mom inadvertently filled in blanks when rhapsodising on long road trips about living up there….about how they were instructed to trust no one…the iranian neighbors…the spook who lived next door whom gave her and his own wife a ride to work and never said a word…and so on.
      this inside track…however anecdotal…has informed my view of such creatures ever since.
      of course, dad wasn’t around for the origin story that makes the 1st half of the movie…Wm Donovan, etc.
      but he did confirm that practically everyone he knew in that world was upper crust…and that he was the anomaly in this regard(image analysis was apparently a specialised skill).
      watching that film with him and having him get so chatty about all that was rare, indeed….he only spoke of that time one other time, years earlier…after divorce, on a road trip…sitting in the jeep with hamburgers and he suddenly launched into a soliloquy. …about how “They” have “dossiers” on me and my brother…and numerous anecdotes and other sundry incomprehensible(at the time) things(i was 13).
      brother and i were speechless,lol.
      (and bro doesnt remember it)
      that all good Liberals/Dems were supposed to suddenly fall in love with the cia and fbi because trump won an election will not change my views on this one bit.
      i regard such organisations as evil, and the enemies of most americans.

      and…on that note,lol…sitting here waiting on the resubmitted medicaid thing for my youngest(filed beginning of december)…as well as proving my identity to the Fafsa people/machines(wife made an account 4 years ago, but we dont know login…working on that since middle of january)…and i wonder….am i flagged, or something?…or is this normal, and due to underfunding and general enshittification?

      1. Carolinian

        I’ve seen it. Of course the Dulles brothers were very much from that world. Interestingly rich guy Tucker Carlson now admits that he once tried to join the CIA.

        Truman may have professed innocence about his creation but he had quite a bit to do with the Cold War that fueled it.

        Of course our upper classes have always been mad about the UK and no doubt felt they had to keep up with the cousins spook wise.

    3. pjay

      Three Days of the Condor’s chilling ending sticks with me to this day: “How do you know they’ll print it?” Quite prescient. Made during a very brief window in our history that was quickly closed tight.

      A very good response to the Times’ CIA stenographers by Lawrence, as always.

  23. ChrisFromGA

    Regarding Biden and cognition, I listened to his speech on Fox radio the other day, and just out of dumb luck, they also played a clip of him talking in 2020 during the campaign. The contrast was striking.

    I was immediately struck by how much clearer his speech was back in 2020; he now sounds like he has marbles in his mouth or maybe a mouthful of food when he talks.

    Whatever that means, I am not qualified to say, but I would speculate that the part of his brain that controls verbal functions is rapidly declining.

    The DNC’s best bet might be to hope advances in AI can intercept his speech and “filter” it in real-time kind of like auto-tune for singers to fix bad pitch. That wouldn’t help with the gaffes, though.

    Auto-speech Joe?

    1. Wukchumni

      I’m afraid the only Auto-speech Joe is that photo op of him in his ’67 Corvette, frankly the only time he ever manages to look cool.

    2. Lena

      Motor neuron disease? Perhaps primary lateral sclerosis (PLS). It affects movement in the legs but can also cause speech, swallowing and breathing problems as it progresses. Cognitive impairment (memory deficit) is found in PLS patients as well.

    3. flora

      The change in 2 years and especially in 4 years is pronounced in his speech, gate, and memory. I know that older aging works sort of like compound interest – one day 1 thing hurts and then some time later 2 things hurt, compound ailings – but the speed of these changes in B is alarming to me.

      1. juno mas

        Gait is used by physical therapists to assess mobility therapies for the elderly. Soon Air Force One will have an escalator instead of a stairway.

    4. Verifyfirst

      I would not discount the impact on his health of Biden having had Covid—twice so far? Trump also had it–once so far? I saw some footage of Trump walking through an underground corridor, and was struck by how old he looked in his movements when he didn’t know he was being filmed (you couldn’t really see his face).

      1. ChrisFromGA

        Don’t forget either that both of them have the benefit of Hollywood caliber makeup artists to spiffy them up.

        I can only imagine what Biden’s wizened mug looks like in the morning with no pancake makeup.

  24. Carolinian

    Somewhat interesting Fallows for airplane heads. He says speculation is that the pilots of that jet that landed on the freeway in Florida may have accidentally pulled the throttles back so far they shut off the engines.

    My brother loves those air crash shows on cable and the lesson from them–and here as well if Fallows is right–is that air crashes are almost always pilot error.

    1. Reply

      Fallows wrote decades ago about being in the backseat of a fighter jet and getting quite a workout from the g-forces and impacts of gravity. Probably in The Atlantic, but didn’t find a reference.

      See the link for some insight about how the jet jockeys handle it, or try to.

  25. Lefty Godot

    Biden executive order aims to stop Russia and China from buying Americans’ personal data.

    Predator 1 snarls at predators 2 and 3 to keep them away from its kill.

  26. antidlc

    Comments on this Maskless Mandy tweet are great:
    Mandy K. Cohen, MD, MPH
    Sat down with @USATODAY
    to talk about how we are bringing expertise, investments & lessons learned from Covid to protect health and improve lives.

    In other news,
    Older Adults Now Able to Receive Additional Dose of Updated COVID-19 Vaccine

    Today, CDC Director Mandy Cohen endorsed the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’ (ACIP) recommendation for adults ages 65 years and older to receive an additional updated 2023-2024 COVID-19 vaccine dose. The recommendation acknowledges the increased risk of severe disease from COVID-19 in older adults, along with the currently available data on vaccine effectiveness.

    Previous CDC recommendations ensured that people who are immunocompromised are already eligible for additional doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

    Data continues to show the importance of vaccination to protect those most at risk for severe outcomes of COVID-19. An additional dose of the updated COVID-19 vaccine may restore protection that has waned since a fall vaccine dose, providing increased protection to adults ages 65 years and older.

    Adults 65 years and older are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, with more than half of COVID-19 hospitalizations during October 2023 to December 2023 occurring in this age group.

    CDC and ACIP will continue to monitor COVID-19 vaccine safety and effectiveness. CDC continues to recommend that everyone stay up to date on their COVID-19 vaccines, especially people with weakened immune systems.

    The following is attributable to Dr. Mandy Cohen:

    “Today’s recommendation allows older adults to receive an additional dose of this season’s COVID-19 vaccine to provide added protection,” said Mandy Cohen, M.D., M.P.H. “Most COVID-19 deaths and hospitalizations last year were among people 65 years and older. An additional vaccine dose can provide added protection that may have decreased over time for those at highest risk.”

    Today, CDC Director Mandy Cohen endorsed the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’ (ACIP) recommendation for adults ages 65 years and older to receive an additional updated 2023-2024 COVID-19 vaccine dose. The recommendation acknowledges the increased risk of severe disease from COVID-19 in older adults, along with the currently available data on vaccine effectiveness.

    Previous CDC recommendations ensured that people who are immunocompromised are already eligible for additional doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

    Data continues to show the importance of vaccination to protect those most at risk for severe outcomes of COVID-19. An additional dose of the updated COVID-19 vaccine may restore protection that has waned since a fall vaccine dose, providing increased protection to adults ages 65 years and older.

    Adults 65 years and older are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, with more than half of COVID-19 hospitalizations during October 2023 to December 2023 occurring in this age group.

    CDC and ACIP will continue to monitor COVID-19 vaccine safety and effectiveness. CDC continues to recommend that everyone stay up to date on their COVID-19 vaccines, especially people with weakened immune systems.

    The following is attributable to Dr. Mandy Cohen:

    “Today’s recommendation allows older adults to receive an additional dose of this season’s COVID-19 vaccine to provide added protection,” said Mandy Cohen, M.D., M.P.H. “Most COVID-19 deaths and hospitalizations last year were among people 65 years and older. An additional vaccine dose can provide added protection that may have decreased over time for those at highest risk.”

    1. Lee

      “…this season’s vaccine.”

      With the virus’s continuing mutations and the vaccine’s waning immunity, every season is Covid season.

  27. Wukchumni

    You’re off to Great Places!
    Today is your day!
    Your mountain is waiting,
    So… get on your way!

    Dr. Seuss

    Happy Leap Day, for those that observe.

    1. Snailslime

      Sure, but on the other hand, who cares about the NY Times?

      And the few that read are fanatical and incurable China haters anyway.

      1. CA

        “Sure, but on the other hand, who cares about the NY Times?”

        The New York Times has over 10 million subscribers and is especially influential. Also, the Wall Street Journal and Washington Post echo the Times on China, and there are echoing broadcast outlets such as Fox. The message for years now has been China is a threat and that is as effective as dangerous.

        What is reassuring is that China is overwhelmingly strong economically, but there is far more:

        June 27, 2023

        Caught in the crossfire: Fears of Chinese–American scientists
        By Yu Xie, Xihong Lin, Ju Li and Junming Huang


        Our study reveals the widespread fear among scientists of Chinese descent in the United States arising from conducting routine research and academic activities. If this fear is not alleviated, there are significant risks of underutilization of scientific talent as well as losing scientific talent to China and other countries. Addressing the fear of US-based scientists of Chinese descent and making the American academic environment welcoming and attractive to all will help retain and attract scientific talent and strengthen the US global leadership in science and technology in the long run.

        1. JBird4049

          >>>Our study reveals the widespread fear among scientists of Chinese descent in the United States arising from conducting routine research and academic activities.

          There are Manzanar the Creel Committee, the Palmer Raids, the Red Scare and McCarthyism as examples of what the United States can do.

    2. CA

      June 27, 2023

      Caught in the crossfire: Fears of Chinese–American scientists
      By Yu Xie, Xihong Lin, Ju Li and Junming Huang


      The US global leadership in science and technology has greatly benefitted from immigrants from other countries, most notably from China in the recent decades. However, feeling the pressure of potential federal investigations since the 2018 launch of the China Initiative, scientists of Chinese descent in the United States now face higher incentives to leave the United States and lower incentives to apply for federal grants. Analyzing data pertaining to institutional affiliations of more than 200 million scientific papers, we find a steady increase in the return migration of scientists of Chinese descent from the United States to China. We also conducted a survey of scientists of Chinese descent employed by US universities in tenured or tenure-track positions (n = 1,304), with results revealing general feelings of fear and anxiety that lead them to consider leaving the United States and/or stop applying for federal grants. If the situation is not corrected, American science will likely suffer the loss of scientific talent to China and other countries.

  28. tegnost

    Politico as always leaves a lot of info on the cutting room floor.
    Good thing the blues still have abortion to throw out there.
    When I was growing up I had a right to privacy, if you wanted to tap my phone you needed a court order, and if you were a corporation, not law enforcement I could sue you.
    No Longer.
    I’m speculating that scraping phone data is the new drug trial, just put the treatment out there and scrape texts for symptoms/problems so to escape/avoid/cover up liability.
    Smoldering city on a hill, if something is shining it’s a piece of broken mirror and maybe one of our best citizens will stumble and see their own reflection amidst the ruins…

  29. CA

    February 29, 2024

    Biden Calls Chinese Electric Vehicles a Security Threat
    The president ordered an investigation into auto technology that could track U.S. drivers, part of a broader effort to stop E.V. and other smart-car imports from China.
    By Jim Tankersley

    [ The daily way in which the Biden administration attacks China economically. The economic attacks have been continuous since President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton decided to contain China. ]

    1. Bsn

      But the Biden admin won’t do a thing to stop other cars from harvesting lots of personal data from their drivers. The brands that do this include (takes deep breath) Toyota, Ford, Chevy, Hundai, Mazda, BMW, Volkswagon, Mercedes, Fiat, …… I ran out of breath.

  30. juno mas

    RE: Nature’s Heartbeat

    This is another article that gives the impression that the planets ecosystems have a regular ‘stasis’ or balance. The planets ecosystems are not at all like a heartbeat, over time. As the article below it in the same publication indicates. Changes to the AMOC are likely going to change the ‘heartbeat’ of the planet. The ‘heartbeat’ metaphor is based on plant productivity; which is based on seasonal/climate fluctuations which are likely to change plant productivity (if not human productivity). That change is likely to persist for a very long time. The planet will experience cardiac arrest for some and new opportunity for growth for other things.

  31. Jason Boxman

    From Welcome to the Era of BadGPTs

    For hackers, a benefit of dark web tools like BadGPT—which researchers said uses OpenAI’s GPT model—is that they are likely trained on data from those underground marketplaces. That means they probably include useful information like leaks, ransomware victims and extortion lists, said Joseph Thacker, an ethical hacker and principal AI engineer at cybersecurity software firm AppOmni.

    Hardly a surprise. OpenAI took the lazy approach: appropriate everyone’s content on the Internet. Garbage in, garbage out. Worse, malicious content in, malicious content out. Building up a training set of billions of parameters cooperatively would never be possible in a capitalistic system, so mass theft is the only approach conceivable.

    Granted building a model collaboratively would be extremely difficult. How do you review billions of pieces of content that you’re licensed to use to ensure it meets whatever agreed upon guidelines society has setup? We’ve got a big debate about wokeness. Imagine that times 10.

  32. Feral Finster

    Given the givens, it seems reasonable to conclude that no cognitive tests were run because the White House, at a minimum, was unsure what the results would be. Therefore, the conclusion that “Biden has cognitive issues, known to his inner circle,” seems inescapable (and says nothing about their nature or degree, or the effects of hyypothesized “juice”).

    Of course, which is why Nate Silver’s idea of having Biden demonstrate his cognitive fitness is so desperate and hare-brained.

    Those in power don’t like tests that they can’t pass or games not rigged in their favor. The people who know Biden best, know that there is a non-zero chance that even a carefully pre-selected doctor will give him a pass.

    1. Reply

      Those Superbowl participants can take heart that Ol’ Joe skipped the interview because he was worried about CTE? /s

  33. Feral Finster

    Johnson ‘unchanged’ on Ukraine, border crisis despite pressure at ‘intense’ White House meeting FOX

    I actually am pleasantly surprised that Johnson has held out as long as he has.

  34. lyman alpha blob

    RE: Sri Lanka ends visas for hundreds of thousands of Russians staying there to avoid war

    If you only read the headline, you’d think hundreds of thousands had fled from Russia to avoid the conflict in Ukraine. But of course, coming from a Western “news” outlet with its hate on for Putin, those are just more weasel words. Hundreds of thousands of Russians have visited Sri Lanka over the last few years –

    Just over 288,000 Russians and nearly 20,000 Ukrainians have traveled to Sri Lanka in the last two years since the war began, according to official data.

    But how many are still there trying to avoid being conscripted by the evil one? Why, nobody knows!

    The exact number of visitors who extended their stay beyond the typical 30-day tourist visa duration remains unclear.

    Funny that they can accurately count those coming in, but have absolutely no idea how many left. ‘Tis a mystery!

    1. Daniil Adamov

      Yes, this is silly. Sri Lanka has been a popular destination here in recent years, as in pre-SMO. It’s no Egypt or Turkey, but it is getting there, or it was. Of course some people ran away to their favourite tourist countries when this started, but I think the “2022 diaspora” is mostly in the Balkans, Transcaucasia and Kazakhstan.

  35. juno mas

    RE: Biden Physical</em

    While hip, knee, and ankle degeneration do affect gait, it is the muscles in your upper leg (quads) that lift your leg up and then forward. Biden has not such muscle mass (as seen in pictures of him lounging on the beach last summer). He has little strength or balance to extent his foot forward confidently, so his step is short and tentative and not long. strong and confident. This is typical muscle atrophy for anyone over 75 years.

  36. Aurelien

    It seems as though Macron never learned Denis Healey’s First Rule of Politics: when you’re in a hole, stop digging. His justification for saying, not that European troops should be sent, but that “nothing should be excluded”, is to apparently preserve, or restore “strategic ambiguity” about the West’s potential reaction at some unspecified point in the future. I don’t know what it has done to the Russians, but it’s certainly caused ambiguity in Europe, where nobody really knows what to think. It doesn’t help that “strategic ambiguity” is something that’s historically been associated with nuclear weapons, though that’s not what he means here, assuming he knows what he means. But then Macron has always massively underestimated Russia, and still, apparently, overestimates what “NATO involvement” would mean, and thinks the Russians would genuinely be afraid of it. After all, in 2022 he was warning against “humiliating” Putin in any conclusion to the war. Boot, meet other foot. It’s interesting that even the anti-Russian French media is mostly telling him to calm down.

    Doctorow is therefore wrong to suggest that Macron was “advocating” sending western troops, still less in a combat role, but I suspect that’s how the Russians have decided to play it. It doesn’t help that the French are still talking about “victory.” Likewise the “Foreign Legion” point: if the Russians had any actual proof of this they would be screaming it from the rooftops. As we discussed a few weeks ago, it’s quite likely that some of the foreign fighters in Ukraine are ex-Legionnaires (and therefore by definition not French) who left after their term of service and went to Ukraine. Indeed, there are bound to be quite a few Ukrainian nationals in the Legion anyway.

    1. Daniil Adamov

      Most of all, I think he overestimated “European unity”. I agree that this was almost certainly a purely political move with no military implications – he probably just wanted to play continental leader – but I’d say the pathetic bickering that ensued means it has backfired.

  37. digi_owl

    Ukraine is looking more and more like Korea, except that Russia has far more disciplined people in charge than that hothead MacArthur.

  38. VietnamVet

    “The reawakening of America’s nuclear dinosaurs” and “All Aboard the Bureaucracy Train” links above are both about government that no longer works.

    Clearly, the US system of designing and building transportation infrastructure is broken but so is the military procurement and logistic systems. The two trillion dollars for the Sentinel ICBM and new plutonium pits for the warheads (upgrading the nuclear triad) are unaffordable and very likely money for nothing. Another Obama/Biden Administration military project doomed for failure.

    The root cause is very basic. The West’s ruling ideology is that only money matters. The government and its projects are now simply means of moving public money into private hands. In other words, the Western Empire is too corrupt to serve or protect its citizens. Without competition and government regulation, corporations will raise prices and increase rents with no corresponding increase in the quality of services or goods to the consumers. Natural monopolies, like utilities, must be publicly owned or heavily regulated to serve the public. Besides the military and transportation, this also applies to healthcare, education, and the judicial system. If food or shelter become unaffordable, unrest is assured.

    What worked was New Deal but it and communism/socialism were mostly discarded in the 1990s and early 2000s. Even China which is still run by the Communist Party, but has been opened up, has placed the economy ahead of the lives of Chinese and ended the Zero-COVID policy. Two million Chinese with three times the population reportedly died compared to 1.2 million Americas with COVID.

    The fall of the Western Empire, like all Empires before, is assured if North American and European governments do not regain sovereignty. The continued habitation on earth depends on finding affordable systems that allow human societies to survive and prosper collectively not the current conquest, aggregation, and genocide for individual gain.

    1. CA

      Even China which is still run by the Communist Party, but has been opened up, has placed the economy ahead of the lives of Chinese and ended the Zero-COVID policy. Two million Chinese with three times the population reportedly died compared to 1.2 million Americans with COVID…

      [ Forgive me, but there is not the slightest reason to think this comment on China is correct. I find this comment painful.

      The Chinese economy could never ever be placed ahead of the lives of Chinese by the Chinese government. The Chinese would find the suggestion highly offensive. This is a country that has completely ended severe poverty and is now working to insure that those who were poorest will now live significantly more comfortable and fulfilling lives. The issue is addressed in the media repeatedly. ]

      1. VietnamVet

        NBC News;
        Yes, the publication of “China had almost 2 million excess deaths after the end of ‘zero-Covid” is one result of the economic conflict with China by the Obama, Trump and Biden Administrations. Also, there is manipulation of the news around the Coronavirus Pandemic but this story appears to be valid not propaganda. The Spanish Flu in 1918 caused 675,000 American deaths but its impact was forgotten by later generations. Because coronavirus is still endemic, mutating, and causes long COVID, plus the endless European & Middle East wars, and economic repercussions; these impacts may well force reforms of governments and healthcare systems that allowed this to happen in the first place in the West and elsewhere where people were adversely affected.

    2. CA

      Also, the United States has been economically attacking China since the Obama Presidency. The Wolf Amendment of April 2011 was meant to end the Chinese space development program. China was meant to be contained. The economic attacks against China have grown in intensity and frequency.

      China fortunately is very strong economically and has been able to resist the attacks and is doing just what is necessary to continue to grow and strengthen. China as argued before the UN Security Council has a right to develop, as should every country. The US opposed such a right, but nonetheless China is continuing and will continue to develop.

      China’s development has been altogether wonderful:

      August 4, 2014

      Real per capita Gross Domestic Product for China, United States, India, Japan and Germany, 1977-2022

      (Percent change)

      August 4, 2014

      Real per capita Gross Domestic Product for China, United States, India, Japan and Germany, 1977-2022

      (Indexed to 1977)

      1. JBird4049

        Just because someone is good at something does not mean that he is good at everything. Proper economic management is different from proper management of an epidemic. Since Covid is now permanently endemic unless actions like filtration, masking, treatment, testing, and tracking for everyone, it will continue sicken, main, and kill. Are you prepared to provide serious evidence for China doing any of that? If not, I will assume that China, like the rest of humanity, is
        suffering from endemic Covid with same consequences.

    3. flora

      re: “The root cause is very basic. The West’s ruling ideology is that only money matters. ”

      Indeed. See Philip Mirowski’s essay, (one of his many essays on the subject),

      Neoliberalism: The Movement That Dare Not Speak Its Name

      My take is that neoliberalism assumes a static world, a fixed world, an end-of-history per Fukiyama world analysis. What is true to day will of course and always be true tomorrow forever, per neoliberalism’s western focused markets ideology. However, the world is not static today and never has been and never will be static.

      1. digi_owl

        Not static, moving in only one direction. The direction that was seen between 1989 and 2008. But after 2008, and in particular after 2016, their efforts to maintain that direction has become ever more shrill and fevered.

      2. flora

        Much shorter: Fukuyama and the neoliberals, (hello, Chicago School), told the West it could rest on it’s laurels. Resting on laurels is… well, you know the usual outcome from that sort of hubris.

  39. DavidZ

    Covid flu-ification by Katherine Wu

    I read that article and I have a bone or two to pick with it on its accuracy

    1. no mention of all the potential problems that Covid causes – lung/liver/heart/brain/blood vessel/kidney/pancreas damage.
    2. No mention that Covid is infectious up to 2 days before any symptoms and plenty of asymptomatic people. Plus researchers have a decent idea that covid is infectious up to 21 days after symptoms start – again no mention
    3. “as the population’s immunity has increased, COVID has become more flu-like” – quotes Roby Bhattacharya – with no fact checking to see if what they say is accurate or not. Any moron with a credential can say whatever they want – doesn’t make it true. Also we KNOW that immunity from covid, whether after a vaccine or infection drop very very fast within months, not to mention new variants almost 1 or 2 a year!
    4. The number of death seems too low + no mention of excess deaths + no mention of covid contributing to higher incidence of all other diseases.
    5. “Most of those measures weren’t sustainable.” to drop Measures to protect public health against covid were a political choice and we can sustain whatever we can politically swallow (ukraine? gaza? homeless? drug deaths?). It’s a choice!

    1. Late Introvert

      Well, it was the FT wasn’t it? I think the point is even those dolts are finding it hard to ignore, and yes, they can’t even write about it proper even when they try.

  40. Jon Cloke

    ‘Emmanuel Macron’s provocative advocacy of European troops on the ground in Ukraine’

    Small French leader with military ambitions seeks to build an army to attack Russia…

    Hmmmm…. I seem to have heard that somewhere before.

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