Links 4/4/2024

The Magic of Bird Brains The New Yorker


Polar vortex is ‘spinning backwards’ above Arctic after major reversal event

Greenland’s glaciers are melting 100 times faster than estimated LiveScience

Extractivism in the Anthropocene Monthly Review

Burn boss trial moving from Grant County, Oregon to federal court Wildfire Today

Movement of crops, animals played a key role in domestication (press release) Washington University

A 600-Year-Old Blueprint for Weathering Climate Change The Atlantic


A bird flu outbreak at the largest U.S. chicken egg producer could affect egg prices NPR. Commentary:

What we know about H5N1 bird flu in cows — and the risk to humans STAT

CDC sequencing of H5N1 avian flu samples from patient yields new clinical clues Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy

* * *

Incident allergic diseases in post-COVID-19 condition: multinational cohort studies from South Korea, Japan and the UK Nature. Under the heading “Plausible Mechanisms”:

The impacts of post-COVID-19 conditions on immune regulation have been under investigation, which may assist in understanding an increased risk of developing allergic diseases including asthma and AR after the acute phase of SARS-CoV-2 infection. First, disruptions in T cell homeostasis can result from post-COVID-19 conditions. It is well-established that viral infections, in general, stimulate morphological alternations including tissue remodeling, and trigger immune responses, which contributes to the initiation of allergic diseases. Moreover, regulatory T cells perturbation driven by post-COVID-19 conditions induces uninhibited action of effector cells and enables latent SARS-CoV-2, which may lead to post-acute sequelae of allergy. Also, a ‘cytokine storm,’ which is linked to the severe form of COVID-19, contributes to hyperinflammation and allergic sensitization that may be implicated in critical sequelae in respiratory tracts.

Wait, what? What about “immunity debt”?

* * *

Statistics did not prove that the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market was the early epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic (abstract only) Journal of the Royal Statistics Society (January 2024) vs. Confirmation of the centrality of the Huanan market among early

COVID-19 cases (preprint) arXiv (March 2024).

Laboratory-acquired infections and pathogen escapes worldwide between 2000 and 2021: a scoping review The Lancet

* * *

Nirmatrelvir for Vaccinated or Unvaccinated Adult Outpatients with Covid-19 NEJM. N = 1296. From the Abstract: “Nirmatrelvir in combination with ritonavir [Paxlovid] is an antiviral treatment for mild-to-moderate coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19)…. The time to sustained alleviation of all signs and symptoms of Covid-19 did not differ significantly between participants who received nirmatrelvir–ritonavir and those who received placebo.” Oh well. Enormous publicity for a failed pill, while proven non-pharmaceutical interventions are mocked and degraded. (To be fair, the study was funded by Paxlovid’s maker, Pfizer, so maybe Pfizer just wants to get out of that business, for liability reasons or whatever. The nice thing about cleaning the air would be that [pounds head on desk] such issues could not arise, since — at least so far — air is not property and cannot be bought, sold, or rented.)

Call for Endorsements: Statement urging CDC/HICPAC to protect health care workers and patients National Nurses United. Deadline: April 12.

COVID-sniffing dogs deployed in Alameda County KRON. “The [two] dogs can sniff-test approximately 300 people in 30 minutes.” On Covid sniffer dogs, see NC from three [family blogging] years ago. Can’t do sniffing as a service, I guess, so no capital allocated.


‘Good intentions’: China’s canteens for seniors are losing money and shutting down from lack of demand and ‘Worrying malaise’: China’s economic and social fortunes rest on its youth, but they are lying flat and ‘letting it rot’ South China Morning Post

Why Has China’s Automobile Exports Increased Significantly? – Analysis Infobrics

Tokyo in talks with Manila over sending troops to the Philippines FT

Majority in Southeast Asia would choose China over US, survey suggests Al Jazeera. So don’t force them to choose!

The Koreas

Are we at peak K-pop? Goldman doesn’t think so FT. On K-Pop, see NC here.


Commentary: How the Myanmar regime is surviving Channel News Asia


‘Lavender’: The AI machine directing Israel’s bombing spree in Gaza 972. A must-read. Exeptionally nasty.

* * *

World Central Kitchen founder José Andrés says Israel targeted staff in Gaza ‘car by car’ BBC. Commentary:

WCK painted their logo on the roof of their car, presumably to signal peaceful intent to airborne observers. The IDF strike hit the logo, dead center.

* * *

How Hezbollah attacks displace 60,000 Israelis, six months on Reuters

Gallant: War in the North will be a catastrophe for Lebanon, Hezbollah Jerusalem Post

* * *

The Israeli raid on Damascus, an ‘unprecedented’ escalation of tensions France24

Two Iranian Generals Killed in Israeli F-35 Strike on Damascus Diplomatic Building: Focus on Air Assassinations Continues Military Watch. A round-up. And at least the F-35 is good for something.

* * *

US opposes Palestine’s bid to become UN member state Anadolu Agency

Displeasure with Biden’s handling of Hamas-Israel war was on display at closed-door White House meeting NBC

New Not-So-Cold War

Ukraine is at great risk of its front lines collapsing Politico

Troop-Starved Ukrainian Brigades Turn to Marketing to Attract Recruits NYT

SITREP 4/3/24: Zelensky Steps Closer to Mobilization Plunge Amid Dire Warnings Simplicius the Thinker

The Ukrainian Army Is No Longer Mechanized Moon of Alabama

* * *

Vote on aid to Ukraine in US Congress may be postponed for several weeks – Bloomberg Ukrainska Pravda

‘He’s a damn fool’: Marjorie Taylor Greene slams Mike Johnson over Ukraine CNN

* * *

In rare call, Russian defense minister warns French counterpart against sending troops to Ukraine AP

Ukrainians returning home to get dental treatment BBC

German companies help Russia rebuild occupied Mariupol Ukrainska Pravda

South of the Border

Launching Of The Tonelero, The Third Brazilian Scorpène Submarine Entirely Made In Brazil Naval News

Venezuela’s Maduro accuses US of building ‘secret’ bases in disputed region Essequibo France24

Global Elections

I am not convinced that we are facing any good electoral outcome this year Funding the Future

India’s electoral bonds laundry: ‘Corrupt’ firms paid parties, got cleansed Al Jazeera

X rolls out support for posting Community Notes in India ahead of elections TechCrunch

Politics and Punishment: LDP Options in the Slush Fund Scandal Nippon


Liberal Democat Seal of Approval™:

The Supremes

Conservatives Don’t Have a Monopoly on Originalism The New Republic

Spook Country

Havana syndrome’ might have been a Russian attack. The U.S. can’t stop investigating. Editorial Board, WaPo

Digital Watch

The Mystery of ‘Jia Tan,’ the XZ Backdoor Mastermind Wired. Makes you wonder what else is back-doored MR SUBLIMINAL Everything. See here..

Couchfish: A Bike On A Rock Couchfish. “[A]lgorithms ‘flatten’ our tastes, bringing all to the lowest common denominator.” Worked example.

* * *

Google considers charging for AI-powered search in big change to business mode FT. Now we can be sure AI is crap.

Google Is Killing Retro Dodo & Other Independent Sites Retro Dodo. And that’s before we get to Google’s enormous theft of content from those same independent sites for so-called “training sets”; the same content it now proposes to charge for.

Google to delete search data of millions who used ‘incognito’ mode NPR

Google Podcasts is gone — and so is my faith in Google The Verge. Faith? What are you, stupid?

Supply Chain

Oil, other commodities have reasons to hold up in big election year – Jim Roger S&P Global

Saffron: The Story of the World’s Most Expensive Spice JSTOR

Sports Desk

The biggest villain of Indian cricket Times of India. Hardik Pandya.

Imperial Collapse Watch

Navies are obsolete, but no one will admit it Crooked Timber. If China can manufacture 1,000 weapons-grade drones a day, that means that in a little under three years, they can send a million drones at one of our carriers.

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

    (melody borrowed from Joy To The World by Three Dog Night)

    Thwaites is a giant glacier
    Calving into salty brine
    Countless gigatons of ice hangs by a thread
    As we shift its grounding line
    As we blow past a giant red line

    (Sing it)
    We’re the saboteurs
    All our heat transfers now
    Seven hundred cities will sink in the sea
    In this century

    Heating up the winds of this world
    Warms the oceans too
    The ocean melts the ice from the underside
    Then the ocean comes for you

    (Tell ’em how)
    We’re the saboteurs
    All our heat transfers
    Seven hundred cities will sink in the sea
    In this century

    (musical interlude)

    We’re going to lose the Thwaites
    We trap heat from the sun
    Thermostats run higher as we burn our fires
    And marvel at what we have done
    Yes we marvel at what we’ve done

    We’re the saboteurs
    All our heat transfers
    Seven hundred cities will sink in the sea
    In this century

    We’re the saboteurs
    All our heat transfers
    Seven hundred cities will sink in the sea
    In this century

    We’re the saboteurs
    All our heat transfers
    Cities in the sea
    In this century

    We’re the saboteurs
    All our heat transfers
    Seven hundred cities will sink in the sea
    In this century

    1. Skip Intro

      It was too much to hope you’d work the word ‘clathrates’ into your verse. I think that will be word of the year in 2025 or maybe 2026, if we’re lucky. Well done once again.

      1. Antifa

        There’s methane in ocean bed clathrates
        The melting of which surely dictates
        Such a rise in degrees
        And the level of seas
        That it’s clearly the end for us primates

      2. KLG

        IIRC Michael Mann writes that methane clathrates weren’t a problem during a previous climate transition, so they might not be this time. The book is comprehensive and well written, but a bit of cheer leading and whistling past the graveyard was is apparent.

  2. The Rev Kev

    ‘WCK painted their logo on the roof of their car, presumably to signal peaceful intent to airborne observers. The IDF strike hit the logo, dead center.’

    During the 2006 war against Hezbollah, the IDF was bombing throughout Lebanon. I saw one image of a Lebanese ambulance with a ragged hole almost dead center of the Red Cross logo on the roof of that ambulance.

    1. griffen

      Gotta wonder if warmonger Congress critters like our very own Senator from SC, Lindsey Graham, ever stop to pause or consider what all the warmongering begets…I see he posted something on the X platform or his social media staff did it for him…

      Reminds me of reading about Iwo Jima and various WWII anecdotes…that medic tag made for an unfortunate target…

    2. begob

      UK TV news reported yesterday the three Brits killed were ex-military; radio reported they were part of a security detail attached to the aid organization. And Aaron Mate reported that the aid organization was connected to the US State Department (although not aware of any contract) and involved in displacing UN aid operations.

      1. ChrisFromGA

        That might be bad enough to raise some eyebrows, but what is the UK going to do about it?

        Nothing, I suspect. Israel gets a pass on any act, no matter how heinous.

        P.S. – those are three ex-military who are never going to fight in Ukraine.

        1. The Rev Kev

          The Aussie PM – Anthony Albanese- is acting. He said that he will wait until the Israelis investigate themselves and then he will decide what to do based on what they find. I wish that was satire.

          1. mrsyk

            “We’re forming a committee to review the study we’re going to, but have yet to commission blah blah blah delay delay”
            tick tock goes the clock.

        2. Dr. John Carpenter


          Anyone else and this wouldn’t have been tolerated. But I gets a sternly worded letter at worst and they usually get an apology after that happens. I keep wondering how much farther I will be allowed to push things. Scary thoughts. And I fear we will find out.

          1. ChrisFromGA

            Don’t forget that the UK invested probably millions in those three men, from military boot camp through whatever advanced skills they developed.

            And they just have to eat it. Because Israel.

        3. Daryl

          Don’t worry — Biden is planning a VERY stern phone call with Netanyahu any moment now.

          1. Emma

            Not sure it’ll be Netanyahu. Given his talents for communicating with dead world leaders, he might be having that stern conversation with Gold Meir or Menachem Begin.

      2. Otto Reply

        On March 30, Wyatt Reed and Max Blumenthal from Grayzone also published an interesting report on WCK, US State Dept’s Favorite Celebrity Chef Builds Gaza Aid Dock With Stolen Rubble. Some interesting observations:
        • WCK is only able to operate in Gaza with the explicit permission of the Israeli military
        • Andrés’ WCK spent several weeks providing meals to Israeli soldiers following Hamas’ October 7 attack
        • Since early 2023, the celebrity chef has worked with the US State Department as a member of the so-called “American Culinary Corps,” a new partnership between Foggy Bottom and the James Beard Foundation
        • In 2020, he was honored at an event by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, where he was warmly introduced by now-CIA chief Bill Burns, who called it a “special pleasure” to bring Andrés onstage

        I’ve appreciated Chef Andrés’ work since I first learned about it from Anthony Bourdain. Perhaps he thought he was an IDF “partner” and was confident that by sharing his team’s coordinates, WCK could guarantee their safety. A fatal mistake.

          1. The Rev Kev

            That’s not a subtle reminder of how ex-Wagner leader Yevgeny Prigozhin was once called “Putin’s Chef”, is it?

    3. Feral Finster

      Forgive me for overstating the obvious, but that logo is precisely what attracted the Israeli strikes.

      By intentionally targeting aid workers, Israel intends to convince aid organizations to leave Gaza. The United States and its sundry worldwide catamites dither and cannot bring themselves to admit the obvious out loud, but they all know the score.

      1. CA

        “…sundry worldwide ——— dither…”

        The word omitted makes this a prejudiced, highly offensive passage.

  3. Ben Panga

    Re: Majority in Southeast Asia would choose China over US, survey suggests

    Majority of who though? From the paper’s methodology section:

    “Respondents came from 5 affiliation categories:
    (a) academia, think-tankers or researchers
    (b) private sector representatives
    (c) civil society, NGO or media representatives
    (d) government officials
    (e)regional or international organisations personnel”

    Source for original paper

    1. Ben Panga

      Still though quite the change in attitudes amongst respondents. Last year 39% would (if forced to) choose strategic alignment with China as opposed to 61% for USA. This year it’s basically 50/50.

      More notable is that only 8% of respondents favoured choosing a side. A majority favour either continuing non-alignment (29%) or building resilience to “fend off pressure” from both (47%)

      1. timbers

        Good point. The elites and PMC class do impact policy and public choices. More so than you and I, for example.

  4. griffen

    I thought the whole Havana syndrome had been generally refuted as being , broadly speaking, supreme bullshite. Wait hold the phones! Wapo says we must continue to research… because Russia !?! An opinion piece but still…the coping is a bit much.

    Come on ….pull the other leg while you’re at it. Russiagate….the Hunter Biden laptop…pile on the nonsense.

      1. griffen

        Cure for a hangover can vary based on the person…a nice plate of hash browns and scrambled eggs from a local Waffle House always seems to work. I don’t do the Bloody Mary drink myself.

        Havana syndrome? Congress cuts you a check instead…FFS

        1. mrsyk

          All I have to do is call it Havana Syndrome and I get a check? Who’s saying this country’s broken? Pass me the bottle mr jones.

          1. The Rev Kev

            Not only that, Congress will quickly pass a special Act guaranteeing that you get a solid payout by law and approval for those payments happen quickly without having to fight for it.

        2. Neutrino

          At breakfasts anywhere, remember the hot sauce or pepper, to taste. And sausage gravy, too.

    1. JohnA

      One of the main authors is from Bellingcat, and was also heavily involved in the Oscar winning sham documentary about Mariupol. Just saying. I honestly thought this was an April Fool when I first saw it, but the story appears to have been given legs.

      1. cyclist

        Glenn Greenwald has done a recent analysis of the 60 Minutes segment Havana brain weapon. The evidence seemed to involve some Russian chef who was arrested for speeding in Florida who had been previously trained in military electronics….

      2. begob

        Just curious – iMDb lists one writer (also the director) for 20 Days in Mariupol, so I wonder who you’re referring to. Back in the Skripal days there was some fun in tracing writers/producers from the UK who cut their teeth on spook-friendly Northern Ireland documentaries and then popped up in various anti-Russia productions. Only a few, so it would be good to add to that stable of thoroughbreds.

      3. ChrisPacific

        The timing on this seemed awfully suspect to me. It comes just a couple of weeks after a story about how no evidence of brain injury was found in the Havana syndrome cases. I was suspicious enough to investigate the source some more and uncovered the Bellingcat links among others. At a minimum I think we can say that the site is part of the Russian opposition to Putin.

        It’s somewhat amusing that WaPo has to link to an archive snapshot of the article rather than the original (which is out there and published) presumably because Russian sites are geo-blocked for Americans. Apparently exceptions can be made when they support the narrative.

    2. Randall Flagg

      Ummm, watching the latest propaganda piece on that (. Oops, excuse me, 60 Minutes last Sunday night) , and you guessed it, IT’s THE RUSSIANS fault.
      Maybe, maybe not, but they sure are getting blamed for everything lately. Sort of like Trump did when he was president.

      1. Feral Finster

        Forgive me for repeating myself, but Russians now play the role of all-purposes scapegoat the way Jews once did not so long ago.

    3. Lefty Godot

      Havana syndrome might have been a Russian attack

      “Havana syndrome might not have been a Russian attack”
      There, ftfy. Remember Godot’s Law.

      It also might not have been a Chinese attack, or a Texan attack, or an attack by sinister orcas turning against the human race. The non-possibilities are endless! Especially for a “syndrome” for which medical professionals have found no evidence of physical changes of any kind.

      Godot’s Law: Any scientific or medical news article with the verbs “Could”, “May” or “Might” in the headline can have “Not” inserted immediately after those verbs without changing the meaning of the headline or contradicting the content of the article, at all.

      1. Snailslime

        Nothing sinister about hypothetical orcas turning on the human race, they’d have excellent reasons.

  5. Alan Roxdale

    WCK painted their logo on the roof of their car, presumably to signal peaceful intent to airborne observers. The IDF strike hit the logo, dead center.

    And killed the 4 US/UK military veterans guarding the vehicles. Risking now the ire of their closest allies armed forces.
    But I expect that the record will show the Israelis have form in this area as well. Washington will cover for them as usual.

    1. JTMcPhee

      Nobody said much if sh!t when the Zionists tried to sink the USS Libery, killing 34 US sailors and injuring 171. The Zionists emitted a cloud of bulls!t followed eventually by a “nopology,” and all was forgiven and buried by the Narrative Generation Machine. The wiki entries of course have been suitably airbrushed and sandpapered to evaporate any taint of evil associated with this (and every other “fork you” from the Zionist direction.)

      As Netanyahoo has repeatedly said, not in so many words, “Uncle Sucker jumps to my Zionist tune.”

      Impunity are us, he says.

  6. FreeMarketApologist

    Re: “Google considers charging for AI-powered search…

    Does that mean that ‘free’ search will have all the accretions of the last few years stripped away, which means it might actually become useful again?

    1. TheMog

      I have my doubts about that, given how a lot of the Internet is filling up with AI-generated garbage and SEO targeting nonsense. In order to be able to find something useful out there, it’s also got to be in a state where it’s not being drowned out by the useless “content”.

    2. ChrisFromGA

      I’m convinced now that “Artificial Intelligence” is now mainly a marketing term. I keep hearing ads like:

      “Our wicked cool fubar platform … powered by AI!!”

      “Trade stations new market edge gizmo gives you moar winning trades … powered by AI!!”

      “The new hemorrhoid cream … powered by AI!!”

      1. Daniil Adamov

        Have you been seeing a lot of things “on the blockchain” lately? I don’t think I have. Now there is a new gimmick in town.

      2. Wukchumni

        It’s worse than you know, walked up to Crescent Meadow* in the snow yesterday and AI (awful ice) was omnipresent.

        *John Muir called it ‘The gem of the Sierra’

      3. Glen

        It seems like real intelligence has been in short supply in America for a while so I guess artificial is all we got.

        Next step is sending AI to college and getting it credentialed.

        For what it’s worth, AI or variations on it have been in practical use for a long time now via fuzzy logic in things you use every day. This latest AI craze strikes me more as the latest Wall St fad to pump stocks, but perhaps LLMs will wipe out call centers, and graphical variations of same will wipe out commercial art.

    3. Mikel

      Maybe they’ll bring back the advanced search that let’s people better show results in some chronological or other filtered order.
      For those that like to do their own vetting of sources…

    4. digi_owl

      It will get worse, as now the AI “articles” have ever more incentive to get padded in ads to cover the cost of generating the “articles” in the first place.

      I swear, nothing will change until the web develops a system akin to premium numbers. Where the billing is handled by the ISP rather than credit card companies.

      1. Jabura Basaidai

        we’re supposed to get some snow later this morning – if the Tiger still played at Briggs stadium it would be an interesting opener –

    1. undercurrent

      Thanks for the info, gives me a chance to repeat something I read in MAD magazine many, many years ago, and have never forgotten:

      Tigers, Tigers, burning bright
      In the ballparks of the night,
      Someday the fans will get their fill,
      And ship the team to Louisville.

      Play ball!

      1. Jabura Basaidai

        ahhhhhhh – still a fan i take it – thankfully they never moved anywhere and still the home team!

      2. LifelongLib

        From “Mad” memory:

        The game has changed since days of yore
        With sliders flying past each bat
        And players hitting .204
        And fifteen innings with no score
        And dreadful things like that.

        Which makes me sure if Doubleday
        Could see this boring game they play
        He’d take the whole thing back.

  7. Jabura Basaidai

    perhaps my tin foil hat is on too tight but after reading “The Unspeakable” i’ve begun to wonder if Bibi is not a CIA asset – considering his extensive time growing up in the USA and going to MIT – if he had also went to Yale it would be a slam dunk – maybe too much coffee this morning –

    1. midtownwageslave

      Makes one think of all the Strong Men Amerika has propped up and then swiftly cut down. Noriega and Saddam come to mind but I’m sure there are others.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      I dobut it. Netanyahu’s career predates the Khristian takeover of the GOP, and 41 was fairly reasonable on these matters, very different from his son. Part of the Second Infitada was due to the Saudis telling Arafat Shrub would be like his daddy.

      Netanyahu is the head of an ethnostate. This is the end result.

  8. Berny3

    I think if Biden was truly concerned about the welfare of Palestinian civilians, he would have U.S. Marines deliver food to Gaza. Would the dirt bags in Israel go so far as to slaughter our men?

    1. The Rev Kev

      I would go so far as to suggest that it would be the US Marines that would be doing the slaughtering against those glorified weekend warriors.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Don’t bet on the current Marines. Or the ability of US military leadership (sic) to direct any such operation. Or any of the other US “service branches.” And the IOF is pretty good at delivering ordnance on heads, maybe even without the benefit of US targeting coordinates. And it’s not like various parts of the Empire have no history of killing each other, often the CIA is the apparent culprit, directly or via cutouts. It’s an evil world. Some parts are more evil than others.

    2. Pat

      Just wondering if Biden has ever appeared to be actually concerned about anyone not named Biden’s welfare? People with no power are negligible to him. And he has never hidden it well.

      1. Dessa

        He would appear to many liberals to be very concerned about queerfolk, since we are apparently the bludgeon that his most rabid supporters use to browbeat everyone else. “If you dont support Genocide Joe, Genocide Trump will slaughter Gazans AND gays!!”

        AFAIK, all Biden has really done is ensure that trans people are eligible to be drafted to die serve his bloodthirst. I would hardly call this a good will gesture.

    3. Daniil Adamov

      They have done before, no? Or was there ever another explanation found for the USS Liberty incident?

      “Friendly fire” happens…

      1. ex-PFC Chuck

        The late USA Col. Patrick Lang had a post on his blog 7 years ago relating to what he learned about the attack during an intelligence training course he took six months after the Six Day War. It includes this quote from an article in Haaretz:

        “Israeli pilot to IDF war room: This is an American ship. Do you still want us to attack?
        IDF war room to Israeli pilot: Yes, follow orders.

        Israeli pilot to IDF war room: But sir, it’s an American ship – I can see the flag!

        IDF war room to Israeli pilot: Never mind; hit it.

        Both the CIA document and the quote have already been published in the past. The book revives them as part of its attempt to prove its thesis.”

        followed by this sentence in the lengthy comment by Lang:

        “The quotation from this transcript as quoted in the Haaretz story is correct.

        There are some insightful remarks in the comment thread as well.

    4. ambrit

      Now, bear with me here, what if Turkey, hoping to both help the Gazans, and avoid “embarrassing” incidents hired the Wagner Group to do ‘security’ for a Gaza relief program?

      1. Feral Finster

        If Turkey wanted to do something concrete, it is perfectly capable of doing so, with or without Wagner.

        Turkey, however, does wish to offend the United States, with or without Wagner.

    5. Feral Finster

      If Biden actually cared about the welfare of Palestinians, he would make one phone call to Netanyahu and the aid would be delivered.

      Some simple facts:

      1.Joe Biden cares about one thing and one thing only. That one thing is Joe Biden.
      2. Everything that Joe Biden or his regime does in public is entirely performative.

    6. lyman alpha blob

      If he were truly concerned, he would have the Marines arrest Netanyahu and have him tried for crimes against humanity, then executed.

    7. Emma

      USS Liberty. Bombing synagogues in Arab countries to scare Jews into emigrating to Israel. Intentionally killing American citizens like Shireen Abu Akleh and Rachel Corrie and then lying about. WCK even though Jose Andres was doing massive amount of PR for them and helping them undermine the UN.

      This is their scorpion nature. They will do this even if it dooms them.

    8. Glen

      Biden doesn’t care about East Palestine Ohio, why in the world would people think he cares about Palestinian civilians in Gaza or the West Bank?

      If he wasn’t coming up for an election in less than a year, he would stonewall all of the protests at home and give Israeli everything they want.

  9. Jabura Basaidai

    oh Berny….they would most definitely go that far – once again consider the USS Liberty –

  10. The Rev Kev

    “COVID-sniffing dogs deployed in Alameda County”

    Lambert must have started to talk about this back in late 2020 and occasionally there would be a story of dogs in other countries performing this duty. By now, you could have had COVID-sniffing dogs deployed in every airport in the country helping to prevent sick people coming in but this never happened. So why? I think that the US government adopted the Trump doctrine. Remember that one? ‘If we didn’t do any testing, we would have very few cases.’ They do not want to reveal the number of sick people at airports or any other place for that matter which is why they never deployed those dogs en masse. Better not to know as what you do not know cannot harm you. I guess?

    1. Expat2uruguay

      There’s an obvious reason not to have covid sniffing dogs at the airport. Because then it becomes a question of “what about the immigrants?” And the Democrats don’t want to talk about that…

      To me, there’s an obvious reason for the government’s behavior on ignoring covid treatments, prevention measures or anything that would require acknowledging that covid is a problem. That cannot be allowed because COVID-19 is a lab-escaped bio weapon created by the United States, and that can’t be discussed. And not just because of the liability and blame, but also because they want to keep doing bio weapon research of course!! But when I’m optimistic I see this as just another Atomic hole/chink in the armor of the flailing western elites. The center cannot hold. At least that’s how I see it from my 7 years watching the US from the sanity and tranquility of Uruguay 🤷🏼‍♂️

      Also I have questions for Lambert: why couldn’t covid sniffing dogs be provided as a service.? An event of gathered people or a restaurant could advertise that the “bouncers” are covid sniffing dogs. Perhaps enough people would be attracted to that idea to justify the cost, at a gym, nursing care home, urgent care. 🤔 I think a gym is most likely btw

  11. mrsyk

    Polar vortex is ‘spinning backwards’ above Arctic after major reversal event (pulls covers over head) I’d have felt better reading this headline on Monday.

    1. Jabura Basaidai

      better not sing Antifa’s song – preternatural in tone & its prescience – well maybe not prescient in stating the obvious – pulling the covers over the head don’t stop the shivering which is not from the cold – so it goes – the thread holding Damocles’s sword is beyond tenuous – wish it wasn’t so –

  12. russell1200

    ‘600-year blue print’ strikes me as fairly typical pandering. The recent ‘Cutting Off Way [of war] ” by Wayne E Lee is still very respectful, but goes a long way toward showing what the north Americans (and other peoples in similar situations, were up to.

    To try a comparative analysis, without noting the lack of many domestic animals in North America, is pointless.

  13. griffen

    Class Warfare… House of the Mouse is under duress from an outsider and activist hedge fund, but gentlemen rest yourselves…Assured by winning a proxy vote yesterday Mr Bob Iger can tell his activist pal Nelson to pound sand and do it post haste.

    Disney is not the same company today obviously, even the magic kingdom can experience a bit of dark times and monsters in the corners and closets…wait those are just a string box office stinkers that wowed literally no one.

      1. Schopsi

        That conflict was 100% a Dark Side vs Dark Side one.

        Besides, I don’t buy for a second that George Lucas ever was one of the real good guys.

        Star Wars always was very much part of the dreck that poisoned the western mind, as was Indiana Jones and pretty much everything that Lucas and Spielberg vomitted into the world.

        Small wo onder scum Like Ronnie Loved it so much.

        Hollywood didn’t do it’s greatest damage with any maligned lazy mockbusters of more recent years.

        It’s the things that usually aren’t questioned that got the great dumbing down going.

        Entertaining movies are more dangerous than boring ones.

    1. ambrit

      You’re behind the times. Disney has been “out of the closet” for some time now. The “monsters” are loud and proud at the Magic Kingdom.

  14. eg

    The only reliable “faith” one can have in Google is that they will follow Doctorow’s en-family-blog-ification to its logical conclusion in each and every “service” it operates.

      1. digi_owl

        Dunno if they still do so, but Google used to have 20% of employee time set aside for personal projects. This, along with their habit of promoting anyone that got traction with their project away from said project, has likely contributed to many of those services sitting there barely maintained since introduced. And then gets killed off as some backend deck chair rearrangement result in them breaking.

        In the end this is why MS is so much used around the world, because Gates early on took backwards compatibility, and thus long term support, seriously. Ballmer later coasted on that momentum, and we are only now seeing it rot as an ascended webdev, Nadella, has taken over and tries to shift everything into the cloud.

    1. Mikel

      The writer”s main complaint:
      “the main problem is that Google Podcasts is a drastically better podcast app than anything coming out of YouTube. The main YouTube app, forget it; you can’t play things in the background unless you have Premium, which immediately makes it useless for podcasts, so I don’t even have to complain about the confusing intermingling of audio podcasts, video podcasts, non-podcast videos, and everything else..”

      So what she is talking about is a problem with mobile phones in general.
      On a laptop, having things play in the background can be done without adding the app for everything you come across.

  15. Pat

    I can’t decide the point of the article about Ukrainians returning to the Ukraine for dental work. Maybe it is the headache I can’t shake. Maybe it is my issues with dent risky in the US. Or maybe it is just that the stories are getting stupider (I also clicked on the MTG one where honestly she ended up seeming to have more going on than the entire CNN panel.)

    So a mother takes her three year old back to a war zone because the NHS couldn’t get her an emergency dental appointment soon enough. And she was able to get one in Dnieper.

    One thought I don’t believe was intended by that article is that maybe Britain should adopt this for British citizens, so everyone who has dental issues in Britain needs to go to Dnieper. I mean if an Ukrainian refugee can find the money to travel to and from there and pay her dentist, well maybe this could be a great thing for British residents who also have dental pain. Clearly the funds are there, just not being equally applied.

    1. Jabura Basaidai

      it does seem to be a thing here too, not the Ukraine part – but chatting with an old friend from Turkiye yesterday who lives in Grand Rapids but because of his rug business returns frequently to Istanbul and he and family have duel citizenship – his wife broke her bridge and the cost here was extravagant and the wait ridiculous so she is in Turkiye now having the work done for free by a friend there – i have Delta Dental through AARP and it hardly seems worth it if i take care of my chompers – even my dentist says it sucks – but last year it seemed to even out with what i paid for the insurance and the cost of procedures – but may forego next year

      1. ambrit

        Yes to your observation. As is said many places, dental quality is a signifier of status in America. Considering that this is the “best of all possible neo-liberal worlds,” dental work should be priced high, so as to keep those pesky deplorables ‘in their proper place.’.

        1. Jabura Basaidai

          thing for me with a bovine valve in my heart and that dental bugs can cause undo harm to it, which is why i take antibiotics before a visit, i do have concerns – and it is truthful your observation of the “best of all possible neo-liberal worlds” –

          just as an aside my friend had just returned from Turkiye after traveling there with his wife and the fear on the street in Istanbul is WWIII – the unraveling is a worldwide fear i guess –

        2. digi_owl

          USA may be more overt about it, but i dear say it is a sign of status everywhere and had been since times immemorial. After all, the status of one’s dentures is along with hair the surest sign of biological age. And these days both can be faked with enough money.

          1. Jabura Basaidai

            read somewhere once that one of the ways europeans can spot americans is their perfect teeth – only the wealthy ones i guess –

      2. Benny Profane

        I carry no dental insurance. It’s a scam for anybody over 60. But even my old employer bridge dental insurance before Medicare basically sucked for serious procedures, because I had a 2000 annual max, and then I was on my own. The woman at my dentist’s front office who dealt with all insurance told me 2000 was pretty good, most she had seen was 3000, and I live in a very well off town.

    2. Feral Finster

      I know Polish people living in the UK who return home for any medical work, but especially dental.

    3. Grebo

      Dentists were never included in the NHS as employees. Some of them take NHS patients on some kind of contract basis but not many, and those that do are always maxed out.

      So a bad situation for the penurious. 20 years ago I worked with a guy, quite affluent, Russian wife, awful teeth. Until one day he came back from visiting his in-laws with a mouth full of perfect pearly whites.

    1. The Rev Kev

      That article says the following at one stage-

      ‘While China still seeks to improve its position in the existing world order, Russia sees that state-of-affairs as being beyond repair, and is instead seeking to prepare for a new alternative arrangement.’

      I wonder what it will take for China to adopt Russia viewpoint here. I suspect that by next year we will find out.

      1. flora

        Good question. Interesting article about the rise and fall of financialized empires, here. (Does China aim to be the next one?):

        “In each case, the cycle is shorter and each new hegemon is larger, more complex and more powerful than the previous one. And, as we mentioned above, each terminates in a crisis of financialization that marks the final stage of hegemony. But this phase also fertilizes the soil in which the next hegemon will sprout, thus marking financialization as the harbinger of an impending hegemonic shift. Essentially, the ascending power emerges in part by availing itself of the financial resources of the financialized and declining power.”

      2. Polar Socialist

        And here I was thinking China and Russia are pushing for a return to the “Westphalian system” – which the UN charter is based on – and which The West decided to wreck as “obsolete” some twenty years ago.

        Remember, how right after bombing Yugoslavia the leaders of the Free World stated that no concept of “sovereignty” should stand in the way of “our democracy”?

        1. digi_owl

          And it helps clear things up if one read oligarchy whenever some Atlanticist says democracy. Because the only democracy that happens is when the oligarchs come to an agreement on what hand puppets to use for the next election cycle.

          And sovereignty gets shown the door when a sub-group sits on top of easy to exploit resources etc.

      3. ex-PFC Chuck

        It seems to me that China rather than trying to improve its position, it is rather trying to maintain it temporarily as it manages the transition from its main markets being in the West to those of what Trenin calls the majority or in what others call the global south.

      4. Grebo

        I think China and Russia are actually on the same page here. Remember the New Era declaration: Kremlin

        It’s just that China has not been forced to take military action yet.

  16. The Rev Kev

    ” ‘He’s a damn fool’: Marjorie Taylor Greene slams Mike Johnson over Ukraine”

    Yeah, Marjorie Taylor Greene may be right here. I mean colluding with Democrats to go against a Republican stance? True that most of that $61 billion will stay in the US but at this stage, too many people simply see all that money going to the Ukraine as a waste and that that money could be better spent in the US. Perceptions matter. But then Mike Johnstone also thinks that it is a great idea if the US grabs all the frozen Russian money and send it to the Ukraine. That idea is just stupid on a stick and you would think that somebody would pull him aside and explain to him about the US financial system and how such a move could put a bloody, big spanner in those works. Maybe Mike Johnson should go.

    1. ChrisFromGA

      I want my MTV (Motion to Vacate)

      Well, look at that yo-yo, that’s the way ya do it
      Abandon principles or give them away for free
      That ain’t workin’ that’s the way ya do it
      Give up your leverage and act like Pelosi

    2. Wukchumni

      Had a public meeting in Tiny Town a few days ago with the superintendent and NPS staff discussing their efforts to fix the multitude of broken roads and 15,000 dead hazard trees in harms way of the public that need to be taken down in Sequoia & Kings Canyon NP’s, and how they’ve gotten funding for some of it, and hopefully the rest of it, and in the Q & A session afterwards, i’d mentioned how Congress sliced $150 million off of last year’s NPS budget for this year, for our crown jewels they treat as if it were costume jewelry…

      It elicited a collective groan from the 50 in attendance, yours truly being the bearer of bad news. I lightened up the mood by suggesting somebody start a war in Sequoia NP to get the money.

      $61 billion more though for the Ukraine, in a penny-in for a pounding!

      1. griffen

        On the $61 billion funding to Ukraine aren’t we really just daily edging closer to the satire of Mel Brooks turning painfully into fiction…ignore the national parks at our own peril of course.

        Blazing Saddles… Spaceballs…

        1. Wukchumni

          You better watch out
          You better not cry
          You better not pout
          I’m telling you why

          Zelensky is coming to town
          He’s making a must have munitions list
          He’s checking it twice
          He’s gonna find out who’s gonna pay the price

          Zelensky is coming to town
          You see him when you’re sleeping
          And far too much when you’re awake
          He knows you’re against bad, and for good
          So be good for goodness sake

          You better watch out
          You better not cry
          You better put out
          I’m telling you why
          ‘Cause Zelensky is coming to town

    3. Feral Finster

      Long story short, someone from Langley or the Pentagon or Foggy Bottom told Johnson that he had his fun but now play time is over and he had best fall into line, tout suite.

      I am only surprised that it took this long.

      1. ChrisFromGA

        Tucker Carlson when interviewing MTG speculated that blackmail is in play.

        He does have that “choirboy” look that usually means some serious skeletons in the closet.

        At any rate, I think Bloomberg reported that there is trouble with the notion that he’s going to be able to pass anything. MTG has some serious balls.

        1. Feral Finster

          When MTG is right, she’s right, “Jewish space lasers” and the likef not withstanding.

          1. rowlf

            There was a recent Georgia USA political panel discussion I listened to on local NPR while driving and an Atlanta newspaper reporter was commenting that MTG has a persona she assumes when cameras are around and is actually very sensible to talk with when there are no cameras nearby. The reporter did not seem to be favorable to the Republican Party but wanted to state an odd fact she had observed.

  17. Vicky Cookies

    I try to understand the inhumanity of American leadership, I do. Watching John Kirby bat away question after question about the facilitation of a genocide, one does wonder how the sheer weight of them doesn’t enlighten him in the middle of a press conference. I try to believe that he, and the people he represents, are sincere, and truly do think that the IDF are telling the truth, and that Hamas is at fault when the IDF slaughters people in a hospital, again. The truth, however, seems apparent in the still, somehow, shocking indifference Biden displayed in the meeting described in the NBC article:
    “Another doctor who attended was taken aback when she showed Biden prints of photos of malnourished children and women in Gaza — to which Biden responded that he had seen those images before. The problem, the doctor said, was that she had printed the photos from her own iPhone.”
    Had I a hundred tongues, a hundred lips, a throat of iron and a chest of brass, I could not tell how ugly Biden is.
    I am very glad to see that the campaign in my home state to mobilize the anti-genocide vote for the primary was a thundering success. Their goal was to collect ~20,000 ‘Uninstructed’ votes, the margin by which Biden won Wisconsin in 2020; they more than doubled that total on Tuesday. Sadly, this is what a movement representing a majority position is reduced to: spitefully sabotaging a campaign, as there are no candidates one realistically could support within the two-party framework. With hope, the fact that Biden has tanked his chances for re-election with his savage cruelty will have some impact on the choices of future leaders, beyond the high-minded, and clearly empty rhetorical shift his administration has taken on with respect to the tens of thousands of people they are killing.

    1. The Rev Kev

      John Kirby sincere? I don’t think so. Watch the first 40 seconds of this video where he smugly says that the US State Department has not found any instances where Israel has violated international humanitarian law-

      And last I heard, the Israelis have killed 14,500 children while trying to defend themselves.

      1. Antifa

        Perhaps, in the end, the Israel military will say all these civilian deaths were done by the Lavender algorithms, not us.

        Hey — “We were just following orders.”

      2. cfraenkel

        This brings to mind yesterdays link to the article penned by some ex State Dept bigwig, who claimed Putin would be pressured to attemp to re-establish the land bridge to Crimea, ignoring the past two years events on the ground…. Presumably, they spend so much time hearing and reinforcing the “narrative” that the real world ceases to exist for them. Kind of scary – there’s no one driving the bus….

    2. Jabura Basaidai

      “I try to believe that he, and the people he represents, are sincere, and truly do think that the IDF are telling the truth, and that Hamas is at fault when the IDF slaughters people in a hospital, again.”

      VC i got some land for sale in Florida that’s a little wet but a good price…..interested? – just joking –

      as the saying goes, ignore what they say and look what they do –

      1. Emma

        How about a beautiful Mediterranean beach front home? Minor disclosure about international law and some unmitigated tunnel activity, no biggie.

        1. Jabura Basaidai

          weren’t they selling those at a real estate conference up in Canada somewhere recently?

    3. digi_owl

      Soon to be 100 years since he said it, and still the words of Upton Sinclair rings as true today as back then.

      John Kirby’s continued employment depends on him not understanding…

    4. Feral Finster

      “Watching John Kirby bat away question after question about the facilitation of a genocide, one does wonder how the sheer weight of them doesn’t enlighten him in the middle of a press conference. I try to believe that he, and the people he represents, are sincere, and truly do think that the IDF are telling the truth, and that Hamas is at fault when the IDF slaughters people in a hospital, again. ”

      I don’t believe any such thing. Occam’s Razor and all that.

      Kirby and the like are but glorified fluffers to power.

      1. Feral Finster

        I should have added that Kirby knows perfectly well what he is doing.

        Might as well present moral arguments to a virus, or, to use a favored analogy, quote Bible verses to an armed robber.

  18. Jason Boxman

    Heh. Remember when we got Paxlovid by press release? I guess we finally get a study!

    I wouldn’t have been able to swallow the insanely large pills for this course, so it’s somewhat good news in that I now know I’m not missing anything in being unable to consume these. We’re so fortunate to have outsourced the Pandemic response to the market!

    1. IM Doc

      I have said from the beginning – it never ever seemed to be working – and I mean at all.
      Yet – I have been told by our press – and the government officials that it was really awesome and kept people out of the hospital. Shut up – and get out your prescription pad. If you don’t – you are a horrible doctor and a horrible person.

      So here is the contrast. I have quite a few very wealthy and/or connected patients – they demanded – and continue to demand ivermectin when they get sick. As I have repeatedly stated, it is certainly not perfect – but the patients who do take it absolutely seem to get better much quicker and do not get as sick as others. Observation by me. I have used it enough times to notice this.

      Paxlovid was a completely different story. You had to automatically withhold it from the entire cohort that are likely to be very ill because of their current meds. Huge numbers could never take it for longer than a day or two because of the bad taste in their mouth, the hives/urticaria it produced – or it just made them feel terrible. I am certain that I have had at least 100 if not more rebound cases over the past few years – and many of them ended up in the hospital.

      I have yet to record a SINGLE issue with ivermectin side effects or problems – NOT ONE.

      As I have pointed out before – the studies that were done on Paxlovid at the beginning were complete garbage. They were not done well and they were not done with the whole population in mind. It was the latest example of the classic trials done by Big Pharma to make sure their product looked great. The fact that this was trumpeted by the media and medical experts is absolutely unforgiveable. FYI – most if not all the ivermectin studies were the exact opposite – meant to torpedo the agent. AND those trials at least the biggest one had the added benefit of being bankrolled by Sam Bankman Fried –

      I have seen these types of things working on the IRB for decades. This is not new or uncommon.

      I am very tired of this whole thing. When the book finally comes out 5-10 years from now – it will be a doozy. This whole thing may well be the biggest scandal in medical history.

      At least now – they have priced this placebo so hideously expensive that absolutely no one is using it. Thank goodness for that.

      1. Screwball

        I am very tired of this whole thing. When the book finally comes out 5-10 years from now – it will be a doozy. This whole thing may well be the biggest scandal in medical history.

        I don’t doubt you are correct, but I won’t wait on the book. It will probably never come. These people don’t seem to be the type that admits mistakes.

        I was convinced when they ran the horse paste adds something was amiss. I knew there was a “human” version because I can read and research. That’s when I knew something was terribly wrong. Not that I ever trusted them, but now I don’t have any.

        Thank you for all you have given us here at NC.

    2. Jake Dickens

      I took paxlovid earlier this year and it almost immediately cleared my covid symptoms. I would call it amazing and would want it if I got covid again.

      1. britzklieg

        I refused the vaccine, practiced non-pharmaceutical measures (masking, hepa filtered ac, crowd avoidance, nutritional supplements (Vitamin D, magnesium, etc) and didn’t require paxlovid because I never got covid.

      2. BlueMoose

        Cleared your symptoms? What about getting clear entirely? Don’t forget your boosters. I’m sure you will be fine! Check back in a year from now and let us know how you are doing.

  19. The Rev Kev

    “Venezuela’s Maduro accuses US of building ‘secret’ bases in disputed region Essequibo”

    Maduro must know how in Syria, the US is using bases like at Al Tanf to train and equip terrorist before sending them onto their targets. Probably he is worried that the US will do the same here by training sabotage and assassination teams like they also do in the Ukraine. I wonder how many secret CIA bases there are along the border as well. You know that they would be there.

      1. Jabura Basaidai

        again a chuckle – tip of the hat Wuk – you do stand-up anywhere else but here?

  20. Jason Boxman

    From Google Podcasts is gone — and so is my faith in Google

    Google Podcasts is dead. It has been dying for months, since Google announced last fall that it was killing its dedicated podcast app in order to focus all its podcasting efforts on YouTube Music. This is a bad idea and a big downgrade, and I’d be more mad if only I were more surprised.

    You Tube music is garbage. I remember when Google nerfed, then finally killed Google Play Music, which was a great service which had a free streaming option. And they had a large music catalog. Then I guess someone got promoted and the product died. Ultimately this got me off streaming, so it was a good thing in the long run.

    1. Janeway

      I was able to ‘download’ and thus save the thousands of song mp3s I had uploaded to Play Music before they vanished in the switchover to YouTube Music. I had uploaded all these songs from CDs I owned in an effort to preserve them and be able to listen to them anywhere in the world without lugging all these physical CDs around.

      Now, they want me to pay for a subscription to be able to listen to these same songs, which I already own the rights to from my original purchase of the physical CDs over dozens of years. I donated the physical CDs, so all I have left are the mp3s that I was able to rescue from Play Music before they got zapped.

      Extracting rents is a full time endeavor with these vampires.

      1. juno mas

        Put your CD catalogue on thumb drives and reduce your carry case. The fidelity is not the same, but I can put hours of my favorite rock/jazz music on my car music player and listen to it as an album or randomly. Quite versatile.

  21. GramSci

    Re: Persuasive AI

    I was surprised there were no comments in yesterday’s Links on this story:

    Turns out AI chatbots are way more persuasive than humans The Register

    Expecting a deluge of AI-tailored persuasion in this year’s US election season, it seems to me it would be a good Citizen Science project to do factor analytics (or at least A-B comparisons) on the the pitches candidates email to different demographics. This would be a good project for the League of Women Voters, if that organization still exists.

  22. flora

    Who could see this coming? What a surprise. (not)

    More than 3,000 hate crime complaints made to Police Scotland

    And in only the first 2 days of the law going into effect. (I bet the Beeb is downplaying the numbers.) The law is a license to harass people you don’t like.

    Another link, same story.
    Police Scotland hit with almost 4,000 complaints in first 48 hours of Humza Yousaf’s new hate crime law

    3 April 2024, 11:58 | Updated: 3 April 2024, 12:01

    1. The Rev Kev

      As the article mentions, the very first complaint was against Scotland Police on the grounds that those rules specifically targeted white, working class men as written and which happened to have been written by a Scottish guy of Pakistani origins. The Scottish Police investigated, found that the complaint was true, and removed the offending section. The Police themselves must hate this legislation as it is vague and unworkable. Imagine if the Tories came in and said that if you vote for us, we will dump that legislation of day one. Or does that count as a hate crime too.

      1. flora

        It’s a good time for bank robbers to ply their … uh… trade in Scotland, what with the police being tied up with more important matters. / ;)

        People still struggling financially? Stir up some more wokeness to distract from the economic situations.
        Yeah, that’s the ticket.

          1. Wukchumni

            Confederates behind the Muskeg Curtain in the Gulag Hockeypelago are reportedly politely furious, they related.

          2. Jabura Basaidai

            flora if you’re going to speak canuk it ain’t ‘heh’ it’s ‘eh’

            ya know side by each we go outta da bar, eh

        1. paul

          That’s the way policy was going anyway:

          Police Scotland will no longer investigate every low level crime after the success of a pilot scheme.

          A report says the new approach to certain reported offences where there is no CCTV or witnesses should be rolled across Scotland.

          It follows the success of a 12-week trial in the north east which allowed officers to focus on other priorities.

    2. paul

      With a 50,000 capacity, many of whom are quite vocal in their dislikes, the polis are going to have their hands full on sunday, when rangers host celtic at Ibrox.

      It’ll be marching season soon too.

    3. Pat

      I do hope some of them are against JK Rowling. She is prepped and ready to take it on. I am not sure how it will fare in the courts, but she certainly has the funds to challenge it as far as it will go. I know the police have already stated that they do not find her tweets on the subject to be actionable (probably because they get that she can and will fight this), but the biggest supporters of the law do not agree. So fingers crossed.
      One other thing that might happen is to rally other wealthy dissenters and create a legal defense team to address this for others without her personal funds to fight charges. Which, if they aren’t going to take on Rowling, could find the best case to take on the legality of the law.

      1. Pat

        I would be very interested to know if the police have had some “instruction” on this from other parts of the government. As I said above Rowling was clearly ready to fight this in the courts to challenge the law.

    4. Feral Finster

      Yes, that many complaints is further assurance that the law will be enforced selectively against people that the state doesn’t like.

  23. Mikel

    “Google considers charging for AI-powered search in big change to business mode” FT

    So all the “training data” ….f it…all the info they have ripped off from other sources without paying for, they will now claim it is “”thinking” done by the machine and charge people for it.

    How much of this is willing gullibility and how much is just showing how fried people’s brains are?

  24. Matthew G. Saroff

    How much do I have to pay NOT to have AI powered search?

    Honestly, the results that LLM machines does not inspire confidence.

    1. Mikel

      As the prices to purchase copies of some used books via online has skyrocketed…we should all beware.

    2. cfraenkel

      $5/mo. Kagi is *right there* —>

      No endorsement, you just asked. I’ve only tested it briefly, as DDG hasn’t been infected (yet), but it seemed reasonably competent. There are plenty of others out there as well, Kagi just is top of mind lately.

  25. The Rev Kev

    “US opposes Palestine’s bid to become UN member state”

    This is so strange this. The US has always said that they back a two State solution so recognizing Palestine would be a logical first step. Even Biden said that he backed a two State solution. But the US State Department has said that it should be done through direct negotiations with Netanyahu – who has said that he would never, ever agree to it. Mind you, this is the same State Department that is still trying to get Saudi Arabia to recognize Israel and join the Abraham Accords right now – as hundreds of Palestinians are slaughtered daily. This seems to be a personal project of neocon Brett McGurk. Idjut-

    1. Paradan

      Member states are allowed to have an army for self-defense. Think of all the equipment that be gifted to them right now, and all the volunteers that could join their army.

    2. Emma

      That “two state solution” is like the “one China policy” and the “democratic Ukraine”.

    3. digi_owl

      Claiming to back the “two state” defangs alternatives.

      It is a US tactic as old as time. Just look at the number of agreements that some US president has signed but that Congress never gets round to ratifying. But as long as it is in legal limbo, USA can claim to care while forestalling a proper solution.

    4. Kouros

      It is not the right time. Actually, since the Oslo Accords, it never was. And when Palestinians will be ousted (passive voice element here), it won’t be necessary any longer for two states…

      Albeit then we’ll have the secular Jews against the Orthodox ones out in the open.

  26. Synoia

    A new calamity is upon the world, failure of harvests in Southern Africa, Zimbabwe, South Africa and others.

    While we enjoy Spring, the Global
    South enjoys the end of summer and harvest time, although the enjoying appears threadbare this wear,

    Does this include South, America, Australia and New Zealand, and others ,such as South America.?

    1. Wukchumni

      Volcanoes blowing up real good are typically good crop disruptors, and Hunga Tonga was a rare Submarine Volcano, one of only 118 known ever, that spewed oh so much water vapor into space.

      Add in climate change to flavor favor…

      1. Enter Laughing

        RE: “blowed up real good”

        Couldn’t let this go by without mentioning that we just lost the co-originator of that phrase, the hilarious Joe Flaherty of SCTV fame.

        He and John Candy made the catch phrase popular in their “Farm Film Report” segments, in which they played farmers who reviewed their favorite films, especially those in which things “blow up real good!”

        Bless you Joe — you and John Candy created some of the funniest skits I’ve ever seen.

        1. Lena

          Who can ever forget his Sammy Maudlin character? The fro, the cheap suits, the laugh, the schmaltz that dripped from from his very being. Let’s hear it for Sammy!

          1. Enter Laughing

            One of my favorites too. Just the name still makes me laugh. And Flaherty played the character true to the name too, often lapsing into a faux-emotional confession during his act as a way to curry favor with the audience. So absolutely brilliant.

  27. Benny Profane

    Just turned on CNN, and they were covering the 972 report about A.I. targeting in Gaza. So, it made the mainstream fast, and they are not burying it. Nothing like killing a few white people working for a celebrity chef to turn the tide. Over 30,000 brown people didn’t count.

  28. Jeff W

    The Magic of Bird Brains The New Yorker

    There didn’t seem to be a whole lot to the article: efforts to get crows to pick up trash have gone exactly nowhere (it’s always fun to read about one of those TED talk ideas that fail completely); crows remember faces (or masks of faces) of people they don’t like—which, at this point, is pretty old news—and pass that dislike on to succeeding generations of crows; new flocks replace previous ones annually, so getting rid of this year’s crows does nothing about next year’s. That’s about it for 2865 words. (And not a whole lot about the titular bird brains, covid cognition, or anything similar.)

  29. Albe Vado

    >Navies are obsolete, but no one will admit it

    This is probably true (and has been known for decades; ‘there are only submarines and targets’ is an old sentiment. That missiles hugely overmatch ships has been known since at least the Falklands war, long before drones were a meaningful factor), but I can’t get past the claims this piece makes about the ineffectiveness of the Russian Black Sea fleet.

    It claims the fleet has played no significant part in the war. Uh, what? It’s been a significant source of cruise missile strikes, and as far as I can tell it continues to be. It’s combat power hasn’t been significantly reduced, other than the aging flagship (which was something of an albatross. Inherently conceptually outdated and expensive to maintain and modernize), where to this day it’s still not clear what sunk it. Probably either a drifting mine or an internal fire from the constant combat operations.

    The Black Sea fleet losses have mostly consisted of support vessels, which is inconvenient but not remotely insurmountable. The extreme range capabilities of Russian missile technology (which they first demonstrated a decade ago when they hit targets in Syria from the Caspian) means it doesn’t hugely matter where the ships fire from.

    1. cfraenkel

      Besides that the main function of the Black Sea fleet is to protect Crimea and keep the Ukr navy (such as it is) in port.

    2. digi_owl

      I do suspect that future surface combat will be done using container ships carrying open top containers filled with “drones” (loitering anti ship missiles basically) in vertical launch tubes.

      And frankly there is nothing magical about missile range. The Tomahawk, that USA so gleefully featured back in 91, has comparable range depending on block variant.

    3. CA

      “Navies are obsolete, but no one will admit it”

      The entire American Pivot to the Pacific or China containment policy is based on naval relevance. What has evidently been neglected is noticing that China has half the world’s ship-building capacity, and has already developed advanced technology vessels to counter or offset efforts at containment.

      1. digi_owl

        And is also expanding overland routes in every direction.

        With cooperation from Russia and Iran, the Caspian Sea can turn into a Chinese lake.

        And if Iraq and Saudi Arabia play long the one big choke point becomes Sinai.

        1. CA

          And is also expanding overland routes in every direction…

          [ Yes. Interestingly, route after route extends from Xinjiang. A canal is being built by China through Cambodia to the southern Cambodian coast. Laos has just been opened by high-speed rail… ]

          1. CA

            “A canal is being built by China through Cambodia…”

            This is likely incorrect. News reports on agreement for a Chinese built canal through Cambodia were from Japan, but there was no confirmation from China. I assume then there is no Chinese-Cambodian canal plan.

      2. scott s.

        Could you describe these “advanced technology vessels”? From what I see, they are building comparable to US designs, just more/faster.

        1. Polar Socialist

          I think CA means that the Chinese ships are equivalent to the US ships – not a decade or two behind.

          Personally, I’m of the school that in the sea the one who fires first has an advantage (especially when modern vessels don’t have the staying power of the WW2 era vessels), so it’s more about the sensor systems, networking and layers than anything else.

          The matter of the fact is that regardless of the capabilities of the tech, the radar horizon will remain at around 30 nautical miles. If you want to target anything on the surface behind that range, you need to first have eyes on the target, plain and simple. Be it a satellite, an AWACS, a maritime surveillance plane, a helicopter, a drone or a dude with binoculars on a “fishing boat”, you have to identify and locate the target before launch.

          Which goes to say that if Russia denied all NATO ISR on the Black Sea, Ukraine would be lucky to hit even Crimea the peninsula in the next attack.

        2. CA

          To begin with, a variety of fuel systems are being built, electric, hydrogen and gas. A variety of Stirling engines are being used. Autonomous, satellite controlled vessels. Specialized large dimension wind turbine installation vessels, ultra-deep drilling vessels, deep-water storage and transmission vessels, multifunctional modular seabed trenchers…

  30. Es s Ce Tera

    re: ‘Lavender’: The AI machine directing Israel’s bombing spree in Gaza 972.

    Finding very loose associations between people such as phone numbers, social media activity, proximity, etc., means Israel has likely already put the NC commentariat on a kill list, perhaps to be fed to a future AI and kill teams.

    Also, it strikes me that “the bot did it” might become a future variation of the “just following orders” Nuremberg defense.

    1. Ben Panga

      “Unfortunately the algorithm erred, and your whole town seems to have been destroyed. To find out more about this incident please contact our help chatbot at”

    2. Emma

      Yup. This is likely a limited hangout to shift blame away from the intelligence and IDF higher ups.

      The alleged 10 percent error rate jumped out at me. Hamas has very good good opsec as shown by the fact that Israel hasn’t been able to capture any notable leaders or destroy any of the tunnels. No way Israel had sufficient intelligence to identify who is Hamas. They probably just compiled the full civil list of doctors, policemen, ambulance drivers, and municipal works, then threw in any make between 15 and 50 with an active social media presence or had family members killed by the IDF.

      1. Polar Socialist

        No way Israel had sufficient intelligence to identify who is Hamas.

        “Looks Semitic, isn’t wearing IDF uniform”, seems to be the operational definition.

      2. Ben Panga

        Being Palestinian, male, and ever communicating electronically with someone connected with Hamas (which includes all the administrative workers, police, medics etc) is probably enough to get one on a list.

        Dystopian sci-fi stuff.

        And yes, this story might be a controlled release to cover for a reality that’s worse.

        Could it also serve as form of intimidation? “We have all this super tech and if you don’t surrender we will keep killing you in your houses. You cannot escape the algorithm “

        1. JBird4049

          I never thought that I would find the American free fire or kill zones in Vietnam less evil or at least more honest than this algo controlled extermination zone.

          On blaming the blackbox for their actions, it is something one sees in American policing as well in selecting the targets as well as being used by judges in determining sentences.

          Unexaiminable algorithms used in questionable technology used without oversight, but used to justify the actions of the powerful and to shield them from the consequences of their actions.

    3. digi_owl

      Well USA has tried to blame the ’88 downing of an Iranian passenger jet on a bug in AEGIS since it happened, so…

      1. scott s.

        “Well USA has tried to blame the ’88 downing of an Iranian passenger jet on a bug in AEGIS since it happened”

        To the contrary: the JAGMAN opinion:
        “6. The AEGIS Combat System’s performance was excellent – it functioned as designed. Had the CO USS VINCENNES used the information generated by his C&D system as the sole source of his tactical information, the CO might not have engaged TN 4131.”

        JAGMAN Investigation

    1. Feral Finster

      As some may recall, I have more than a little person experience with corruption, but I have long said that the United States was as corrupt as Ukraine, and I have bribed everybody in Ukraine from the postman to the fire department all the way up to members of the Cabinet Of Ministers, while I have never so much as offered an American cop a free donut.

      The difference is that in America, the corruption is legalized and channeled in forms accessible to the sort of people who can afford pricey lawyers.

  31. Tom Stone

    Doesn’t letting a novel virus that damages peoples immune system run wild guarantee that either HPAI or some other nasty virus will jump from other animals to humans?

  32. Wukchumni

    Burn boss trial moving from Grant County, Oregon to federal court Wildfire Today
    It hard enough already to get a prescribed burn lit, as so many atmospheric conditions have to be just right, and then there’s the aspect of smoke that seems to garner more ire of those in cities who are the recipient of it, than colossal wildfires burgeoning out smoke thick as molasses.

    Add in the idea that a Burn Boss could be arrested for ignition sequence, and it makes it all that much more difficult.

    There was a 750 acre prescribed burn planned in Sequoia NP for July of 2022 in the Giant Forest, and a few months before a prescribed burn in New Mexico went out of control and consumed 341k acres in the bargain.

    We have a really good superintendent here and he could have quite easily weaseled out of lighting it up, coming on the heels of a bad prescription, but he went ahead because the KNP Fire had created a perfect border around unburned areas of Giant Forest, and it went off without a hitch, as prescribed burns often do and you never hear about them.

  33. Albe Vado

    >Are we at peak K-pop?

    God, I hope so. I have never seen any medium where more effort, time, money, and genuine creativity and talent was all put in the service of so much absolute nothing. It’s so much highly choreographed, glitzy, slickly overproduced nothing. I’d even take the worst, most one note super hero movie tripe over what K-pop offers. At least there you sometimes get something like a pretty good Alan Silvestri score.

    And the human wreckage; the endless tide of carefully groomed and drilled pretty boys and girls (the girls are especially screwed, with ubiquitous plastic surgery) who are used for a few years before being ‘retired’, before the next generation of assembly line manufactured disposable idols comes along.

    As is so often the case, Korea is emulating an older Japanese model, but J-pop, even when it was just as disposable, at least was cheap and underproduced enough that it was sort of quaint. And Japan has developed a huge number of groups that have genuine artistic merit, especially in the rock scene. As far as I can tell non-mega pop music in Korea is severely under served.

    It all has to be one giant bubble, surely. This can’t go on forever.

    1. digi_owl

      J/K-pop seems to me no more different than a boy/girl-band.

      The only addition may well be that the asian take is auditioned, and once hired their whole life becomes part of the show managed and staged by the label.

      Then again, much the same was the situation for Miley Cyrus while playing the role of Hannah Montana for the rat.

    2. Feral Finster

      Scott Alexander (I think) released some AI generated rationalist pop.

      To tell the truth, it wasn’t any more obnoxious than the genuine article.

    3. Kouros

      “I have never seen any medium where more effort, time, money, and genuine creativity and talent was all put in the service of so much absolute nothing”

      Finance? except there you get bubbles popping… which is not nothing.

    4. bonks

      And Japan has developed a huge number of groups that have genuine artistic merit, especially in the rock scene. As far as I can tell non-mega pop music in Korea is severely under served.

      J-pop displayed more variety of creative experiments in Utada Hikaru and Ayumi Hamasaki alone than the entire K-POP factory combined. This statement may be verging on hyperbole but as you said, I cannot for the life of me think of Korean musicians propped and celebrated on the level of Ryuichi Sakamoto, or even ballad singers like Kazumasa Oda.

  34. CA

    ‘Worrying malaise’: China’s economic and social fortunes rest on its youth, but they are lying flat and ‘letting it rot’

    [ Forgive the disagreement but this article of course is absurd. However, the point of the social affairs writers at SCMP is always to present China as a fading, failing civilization better replaced by the ever vibrant British. Colonial influence in Hong Kong is what the British continue to work for, however fruitlessly.

    Now, for me to lay flat and let whatever I was raised to respect and admire rot.

    Good grief. ]

    1. Snailslime

      The BSery is easily obvious enough, but the well and truly rotten propaganda rag that is the SCMP definitely could be improved by some of the snarky commentary that so often comes right with the links to the equivalent anti Russia propaganda nonsense.

      But of course a certain level of Russia expertise seems much easier to come by.

  35. Jabura Basaidai

    hey flora did you have a post about a Cambodian canal? – can’t seem to find it anymore or my response

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