Links 5/17/2024

In California, otters are turning to tools to eat prey in Monterey Bay The Hill

The Dow Hit 40,000. It Doesn’t Matter. John Authers, Bloomberg

When Economists Navigate by the Stars Federal Reserve Bank of RIchmond


Western Canada is on fire — again The Narwhale

“Zombie fires” re-emerge in Canada, a legacy of the 2023 fire season Axios

‘One Hell of a Fight’: Coal Miners Again Target Alberta’s Rockies The Tyee

* * *

Alarmed by Climate Change, Astronomers Train Their Sights on Earth NYT


Biden, CDC silent as North Carolina lawmakers vote to ban masks The Gauntlet. HICPAC no doubt orgasmic; if I understand the draft, masks for health reasons are banned from public spaces, which I assume means hospitals. Readers? Commentary:

USDA experiments suggest H5N1 not viable in properly cooked ground beef Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy

Marolt: If I haven’t seemed like myself lately… Aspen Daily News

Honesty About Covid is Essential for Progress John Snow Project

The High-Risk/Low-Risk Fallacy: Part 1 Pandemic Accountability Index. Well worth a read.


China pledges to buy apartments and finish stalled housing projects Channel News Asia

Senior Chinese leaders’ tours round country offer clues to economic policy agenda ahead of key meeting South China Morning Post

So Many Questions, So Little Time for Pacific Logistics RAND

Land Forces in the Pacific Mick Ryan, Futura Doctrina. Awesome. Land wars in Asia.

Lessons from the Red Sea: Considerations for Naval Strategy in the 21st Century US Naval Institute


Western volunteers join the battle against Myanmar’s military regime Al Jazeera. The last thing Myanmar needs, except for NGOs.

The Koreas

3 North Koreans, 1 American accused by DOJ of ‘staggering fraud’ involving Fortune 500 companies The Hill


Partners in Growth? Phenomenal World


South Africa urges ICJ to order Gaza ceasefire, halt Israel’s Rafah assault Al Jazeera

House passes GOP bill rebuking Biden’s Israel weapons pause Politico

Aid trucks begin moving ashore via Gaza temporary pier: US Anadolu Agency

Pro-Israel billionaires urged New York crackdown on Gaza protests: Report Al Jazeera. Who’s the sovereign here? Commentary:

Large pro-Israel rally held in Times Square. Here’s the latest. CBS. The headline is deceptive: “A few dozen demonstrators were within the barricaded area cloaked in the Israeli flag…”

European Disunion

The Floating Bosch Parade Makes a Spectacle of Online Life on a River in The Netherlands This is Colossal

Horticulture is Italy’s Thing SeedWorld

Dear Old Blighty

The sectoral balances show that the government has very little control over the national debt Funding the Future

New Not-So-Cold War

Ukraine’s defence lines stretched as Russian troops advance BBC

Zelensky says situation in Kharkiv ‘extremely difficult’ as Russia makes biggest gains in months France24

NATO commander says Russia doesn’t have enough troops for Kharkiv breakthrough Anadolu Agency. Laying down a marker….

Local authority reveal 4 construction workers killed during building of fortifications in Kharkiv Oblast Ukrainska Pravda. A little late?

* * *

Why Blinken’s visit to Ukraine was “revolutionary” but not fully successful European Pravda. Blinken pledged fealty to Azov by dining at their pizza joint. What more do these people want?

Western military trainers will be sent to Ukraine ‘eventually,’ top US military official said Semafor

* * *

Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping pledge new era, cast US as Cold War hegemon Business Standard

The DragonBear-Hug Signals Unprecedented Expansion of Ties Simplicius the Thinker(s). Yes, the neocon brain geniuses managed to bring about an alliance between Russia and China, good job.

Non-vassal state Hungary on sanctions:

Biden Administration

Changes from Visa mean Americans will carry fewer physical credit, debit cards in their wallets AP. “Changes from Visa mean Americans will carry fewer physical credit, debit cards in their wallets.” So now if I lose a card I have to make a lot of calls, not just one? Hey, how convenient is that!

Manchin, GOP senators move to overturn retirement investment planning rule The Hill

The Supremes

Supreme Court upholds CFPB funding, saving agency Politico

CFPB v. CFSA Analysis Credit Slips

* * *

Knights-Errant: The Roberts Court and Erroneous Fact-Finding (PDF) Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Ohio State Law Journal. “These cases, the false fact-finding undergirding them, the persistence of the erroneous facts, and the policy consequences of the uncorrected errors, together create a new predicament requiring attention by academia, lower courts, and the other branches. This Article proposes theories and actions that would defend our government against a Court eager to aggrandize judicial power to political ends.”


Google cracks?

Groves of Academe

Cal Poly Humboldt encampment:

“Set the terms of your struggle:” The Cal Poly Humboldt Commune Speaks The New Inquiry

Maybe Even Build a Boat The Hedgehog Review

Police State Watch

52,529 guns once owned by police departments have been later used in crimes, new data finds CBS. One hand washes the other!

Officer guarding mayor’s house unjustifiably shot a man from behind, lawsuit says Gothamist. Oopsie.

Digital Watch

Wiley shuts 19 scholarly journals amid AI paper mill problems The Register. Wowsers, I’m sure OpenAI cleaned all those papers right out of its training sets. BWA-HA-HA-HA-HA, who am I kidding.

Google’s call-scanning AI could dial up censorship by default, privacy experts warn TechCrunch

The Bezzle

Crypto Brothers Front-Ran the Front-Runners Bloomberg (DK). DK comments: “Accurate and clear-eyed observations of the endlessly churning crypto-space.”

Supply Chain

New peak season paradigm develops in Asian container markets S&P Global

Imperial Collapse Watch

An AI-controlled fighter jet took the Air Force leader for a historic ride. What that means for war AP. “At the end of the hourlong flight, Kendall climbed out of the cockpit grinning. He said he’d seen enough during his flight that he’d trust this still-learning AI with the ability to decide whether or not to launch weapons in war.”

Backlog of upgraded F-35s could take a year to clear: GAO Breaking Defense

Class Warfare

Democracy Corrupted: Apex Corruption and the Erosion of Democratic Values (PDF) Stanford University Graduate School of Business Research Paper No. 4166. From the Abstract: “The undermining of democratic values produces latent effects that even cumulate four months later. Seeking solutions, priming national identity proved an unsuccessful antidote, but providing exposure to national stock index funds holds some promise.” Oh.

Nature and human well-being: The olfactory pathway Science

The spy who flunked it: Kurt Gödel’s forgotten part in the atom-bomb story Nature

Il Campionato Mondiale di Umari Scope of Work

Antidote du jour (via Faraj Meir):

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 Do You Know The Way To San Jose?  by Dionne Warwick)

    Genocide’s on trial at ICJ
    Murdering kids is wrong – it’s been so long it’s been this way
    Israel’s on trial at ICJ
    Is justice deaf and blind? Who stands behind the ICJ?

    We can hear the whole damn world say, ‘Israel has taken this too far!’
    Who will speak for children as they starve?
    It’s been eighty years of second class —
    An abbatoir where crimes occur — they’re guarding theirs while we eat grass

    We’ve put on the squeeze at ICJ
    We might invade the place – if we lose face by what they say
    We’ll ignore this case at ICJ
    Because we never signed – we’re not behind the ICJ

    Gaza’s children dress in rags that
    Are the last reminders of their home
    Every home blown apart – no stone upon stone
    Searching for a crust of bread – to eat today
    You won’t get far – you can’t defend – an armored car makes your world end

    Which way will they bend at ICJ?

    Warrants never end at ICJ

    (musical interlude)

    Ohh, we can hear the whole damn world say, ‘Israel has taken this too far!’
    Who will speak for children as they starve?
    It’s been eighty years of second class —
    An abbatoir where crimes occur — they’re guarding theirs while we eat grass

    Which way will they bend at ICJ?

    Warrants never end at ICJ . . .

    Warrants change the world at ICJ . . .

  2. Es s Ce Tera

    re: Biden, CDC silent as North Carolina lawmakers vote to ban masks

    A large part of the motivation is probably aimed at attacking hijabs, as well, so will infringe freedom of religion.

    Do these so-called freedom-loving American congresscritters ever think to themselves “well, we can’t call ourselves land of the free and freedom-loving if we’re banning and censoring things willynilly, make everything illegal”? Guess not.

    1. griffen

      I’m long past the time when I grew up in eastern NC, but the Republican named Buck Newton sounds like an aptly named antagonist in this circumstance. Boss Hogg redoubt from Dukes of Hazzard, dare I suggest that? \sarc

      I don’t think this helps solve anything except for the a$$hole donor class running the legislature in Raleigh as they seem fit. There is a whole level of righteous thundering nonsense from state Republicans, and I frequently hear of it from family that lives there.

      1. Antifa

        The NC law about to be forced past Governor Edwards entails three separate revisions to state criminal law. Two of them make committing a crime while masked in any way more onerous, be it a misdemeanor or felony.

        The third revision, the one that matters, revokes the right of any individual to wear a mask in public places to protect their own health — that’s Right Out! The law says you can wear a mask while on a motorcycle, or while doing a public performance or parade, or while marching with your club with a permit (Shriners, Halloween, etc), but if any cop asks you to remove your mask in public, you have to remove it.

        No one who needs to wear a mask to avoid Covid or H5N1 or RSV is going to stop wearing a mask. No cop will enforce passersby to take ’em off or go to jail. But this law will be challenged immediately, and will not pass Constitutional muster. It is certainly against the provisions of the ADA as well.

        1. Lena

          Is the use of facial recognition technology the real motivation behind this type of law? In my state, people who wear glasses (like me) have to remove them to get a driver’s license or state ID because glasses supposedly obscure the face. That ‘no glasses’ ID policy has been in place here for about 10 years.

          1. edwin

            When visiting Cuba before covid the same rules applied during passport control. You were photographed without glasses upon entry.

      2. Carolinian

        Would you agree that NC–outside of a few liberalish enclaves–is a lot more rightwing than many would like to think?

        And from a news story linked by the above Link

        Republican supporters of the ban said it would help police crack down on protesters who wear masks — which some lawmakers called a growing concern, saying demonstrators are abusing Covid-19 pandemic-era norms to wear masks that hide their identities.

        So it’s not even about crime but about “cracking down on protesters” and free speech.

        1. griffen

          Right wing yes, as to the sources of that influence it’s a healthy combination ( sarc alert ) of corporate interests and some highly connected billionaires. Or at the minimum, that is my hot take on it. I mean passing a tax solution whereby corporations enjoy a 0% taxation says volumes I think.

          The eastern part of the state is known colloquially as Downeast. Used to be farms and some manufacturing but my recall is the manufacturing might well have left and shut out the lights for good. Probably a key demographic for supporters of Donald Trump.

      3. steppenwolf fetchit

        I have read a theory which goes like this: that the NC Republicans see the population increases in the “Research Triangle” and places like that and fear that if enough non-Conservatives move into NC and also if they inspire enough North Carolinians to become non-Conservative, that the Conservatives Republicans might lose some political power and control over NC. So they are trying to pass as many laws as hard as they can designed to make life so unpleasant for non-Conservatives that people will stop moving to places like the Research Triangle and might even start moving away, this shifting the demographic balance in a Republican Conservative direction.

        This theory was used to explain some of the motivation behind the so-called “Bathroom Bill” some years ago. The Conservative Republican goal with that bill was to troll Liberals outside of NC to call for boycotts against the sort of conventions and etc. which tend to get held in the less Conservative parts of NC . . . . in order to damage the economy of those parts of NC enough that some of the less-Conservatives who lived there would lose their jobs and businesses and have to move out of state.

    2. Kengferno

      The implications of this are pretty staggering for anyone and puts into doubt even passing through this state. For example,The article doesn’t say, but I wonder if airports are neutral territory. If I’m flying and I have to transfer to another plane and I’m walking with my mask on am I in danger of being arrested?

    3. Terry Flynn

      I think I must have been very naive, or I was exposed to an unrepresentative sample of people back in the first decade of this millennium. I attended a medical conference and had detailed discussions with public health academics/physicians at UNC at Chapel Hill.

      My host was (now I think back) very old school public health and welfare so it’s very possible that I simply was not introduced to neoliberal maniacs.

      Even if this is so, “his” group seemed pretty large and influential. Have they all gone? Or was I too naive to recognise only puddle deep levels of care for the masses and desire to tell the truth? Feel free to say the latter. Took me years to unlearn my MA Cantab Economics nonsense.

      1. IM Doc

        If I am remembering correctly, Mandy Cohen, current CDC director was the NC director of public health before her new job.

        1. lambert strether

          You are. She was. She hasn’t said anything about the law. She’s giving a commencement speech at Wake Forest May 20. Perhaps some in the audience will share their views…

        2. Terry Flynn

          Thanks – but looks like she would have had influential NC posts after I visited. However, that certainly doesn’t rule out the possibility that UNC had “markets rule, go die” people in charge already by the time I visited.

          The guy who hosted me (and his group) were (I could sense at the time) not necessarily the dominant faction in any intra-departmental politicking.

    4. rob

      here in NC,
      I do think even the creation of this proposal/bill shows the farce of a bunch of people who always talk about “freedom”…. but really are the enemies of freedom.. and the constitution… and are really just the boil on the nose of what the US has become. A police state. for everyone to see.
      But, it may be that democratic governor could veto it(maybe?)…. hopefully it won’t be a veto proof majority….. since the republicans run things here. And we should not forget, the people of NC reliably vote in republicans,,,,, even if they run as democrats in name only…. So the “conservatives”, who enjoy stomping on the rights of the people, and hold the bible higher than the constitution and the law; may make this happen.
      I also don’t think this is against hijabs, as much as it is against wearing masks, as a means to avoid facial recognition identification for the masses. These seem like people who can’t stand not being able to punish people and “put them on lists” for the crime of “wrong-think”. Of course i do agree though that for the christian fundamentalists who run the state, being muslim is already “wrong-think”… so why not beat down everyone who doesn’t act right … with the same pen.

      1. Lena

        rob, I didn’t see your comment before I posted mine above regarding facial recognition. I agree with what you have written.

  3. The Rev Kev

    “Land Forces in the Pacific”

    I certainly hope that they are not thinking of land wars in Asia as Korea and Vietnam showed that this is not a really good idea. British General Montgomery knew that for a fact-

    ‘The United States has broken the second rule of war. That is: don’t go fighting with your land army on the mainland in Asia. Rule one is, don’t march on Moscow. I developed those two rules myself.’

    1. Polar Socialist

      To be honest, he was speaking to the House of the Lords during army debates with the idea that the next war would be an unlimited nuclear war, where the Air Force and the Navy would lob nukes to the enemy and the Army was needed to control the resulting devastation and refugees at home.

      It is still a great quote, though.

      1. The Rev Kev

        I always thought of that quote in terms of what Stalin once said – that quantity has a quality all its own. Montogomery gave that quote when the US was bogged down in Vietnam and even then the US could not use nukes. Perhaps in a WW3 style war but now that China has nukes of its own, that option is out. What is worse, we now know that “Nuclear winter” is actually a thing if people start slinging nukes. And that leaves Asia being able to win in a numbers game.

      2. TimH

        If an autonomous AI controlled weapon commits a war crime, which human is legally liable under Geneva?

        If nobody, that surely means that utilising an AI weapon is itself a war crime.

        1. Feral Finster

          The only question is enforcement. The US and its pets can commit all the war crimes they wish and do so with complete impunity.

          Those whom the US disfavors are prima facie guilty of war crimes, simply because of who they are.

    2. Jackiebass63

      You have them in the wrong order. Number 2 should be number 1 and number one should be number2.

    3. jsn

      Right, Korea and Vietnam both worked out so well, and that was back when we still knew how to make things.

      Assuming we’re not suicidal, which I’ll grant is a lift, the best we can do is interfere and complicate.

      We’re like what Darrell Royal said years ago about TCU, “they’re like cockroaches: it’s not what they carry off, it’s what they crawl into and mess up!”

  4. furnace

    When Economists Navigate by the Stars Federal Reserve Bank of RIchmond

    What a strange piece. It doesn’t seem to say much of anything besides the fact that r star exists, and that maybe it’s a good metric to base economic policy on. Any economists here who can opine on it a little more?

      1. furnace

        Well, that’s probably got better results than some models out there, to be honest. At least all it needs is a chicken, as opposed to absurd assumptions.

  5. Trees&Trunks

    AI controlled bombings, isn‘t that what Israel is practicing with face-and movement recognition in Gaza leading to indiscriminate bombing? That is the level of intelligence of AI but as it seems also the purpose.
    This is what you get with armed forces without the mission to defend the home-country but instead geared to steal resources in other smaller, defenceless countries

    1. Anon

      The bombings are highly targeted, and not indiscriminate, it would be better if they were indiscriminate… it follows that any reasonably intelligent and socially capable person in Gaza would be opposed to the occupation, and these are who the Ai have targeted. The goal isn’t to defeat Hamas militarily, it’s to disrupt the functioning of Gazan society, and as such journalists, politicians, teachers, etc. are far superior targets to militants. Even if Hamas wins militarily, the loss of their best and brightest civilians will set the society back generations.

  6. .Tom

    > 3 North Koreans, 1 American accused by DOJ of ‘staggering fraud’ involving Fortune 500 companies The Hill

    A handful of workers pretended to be americans to get tech gig work. A few $M total. Seems enterprising to me. And perhaps, idk, they did good work and satisfied their employers.

    If this is ‘staggering fraud’, what language does the DOJ use for Wall St.’s frauds?

    1. griffen

      Heh, BAU ….nothing to see just move along…it’s good strategy to emphasize Monopoly is more than a board game! Business as Usual.

      The only staggering that goes on is when the stuff hits the fan like during the Global Financial Clustermess, and then an esteemed govt individual say, at that time it was up to Hank Paulson and his sketches and best plans on a napkin. Which I believe is a true story from circa Sept 2008 before the passage of TARP. Ugh. We Must Save Citigroup from ruin and destruction! Which it were sarcasm.

      1. flora

        Or when Sam Bankman-Fried via his crypto scam FTX “loses” billions of dollars – “And…it’s gone” – while pols run for cover pretending they never knew him. (But, no, they won’t give his donations back.) / ;)

        (That story went away pretty quick in the MSM. And Wiki still makes its first reference to him as an “American entrepreneur”. heh )

        Or consider the career of Michael Milken, convicted of felony for securities fraud. Now hailed.

    2. JTMcPhee

      “Smart business practices?”

      “The fraud you will have always with you.” Says so right in the Bible.

      1. ChrisFromGA

        Good catch!

        I have always hated both the Hill and Politico for their overt political bias. This appears to be yet another example.

      2. Feral Finster

        Everyone knows that, much like Israelis, Ukrainians are incapable of committing crimes. If they do so, it is only because Evil Russians led them astray.

        I actually head some neocon fangirl tell me that Ukrainians were entirely different from Russians on a genetic level. Besides being more than a passing resemblance to straight up Nazi race-science, I told her that I’d need to see some receipts for evidence that the genetic makeup of the people on the east bank of the Dnieper .was so different from that on the West bank.

        Needless to say, I am still waiting.

        She also told me that everyone in Ukraine spoke Russian as a courtesy to me, n.b. I speak more Ukrainian than many people living there, so I don’t know why she should think such a thing. For that matter, at times *I* had to explain the meanings of basic Ukrainian words to Ukrainians. People who had lived in Kiev their entire lives.

        The only times I ever needed Ukrainian was to read the law codes. I usually filled out official forms in Russian so as to better blend in with the locals.

  7. John

    A ramshackle pier in Gaza because Israel will not allow the US any other access. Passing attention in a blizzard of acronyms and words on the logistics of the mad idea of war with China across a contested Pacific. A feature article on who owns the US Congress. Billionaires advising/telling New York’s mayor what he must do about those pesky anti-genocide demonstrations.
    And so on and so forth.

    Land of the Free. Home of the Brave.

    1. Will

      A ramshackle pier because the United States of America wants to sorta kinda look like it’s not committing genocide while working hard to ship weapons and supplies to continue the genocide.

      Seriously, how many tons of death has America managed to deliver since Oct 7? Cause America most definitely did not limit itself by using just a ramshackle pier.

    2. Craig H.

      Headline writer error.

      Aid trucks begin moving ashore via Gaza temporary pier: US

      Nothing has begun yet. The pier is now anchored and they expect aid trucks to begin moving ashore in a few days.

      No food has been delivered to starving victims of Israel and America via the pier.

    1. griffen

      In yesterday afternoon the WC linked a column by a former practicing lawyer, who opined that the selected 12 jurors might well rule to acquit. That this was the best efforts by another legal apparatus within New York, just speaks volumes to those that are even taking a passive interest.

      Also, just finding out that the man who was third in line at the Dept of Justice resigned to pursue this for the prosecution against Trump, now just what more can that indicate….other than they just really, really despise the orange man. Orange man bad! Biden good! “Democracy Now!”

      Good grief, holy crap on a cracker. Not playing tiny violins for Donald Trump either. Theater of the Absurd in the land of Rule And Law!

      1. lambert strether

        > the man who was third in line at the Dept of Justice

        I believe he only took consulting money from the DNC after he resigned, but before joining Bragg. So that’s alright then.

        1. Katniss Everdeen

          Congressional committee “debate”:

          “Oh, girl? Baby girl,” Ocasio-Cortez shot back. “Don’t even play.”

          What it looks like when a country is well and truly fucked…

          1. ChrisFromGA

            Are we certain that this sort of junior high behavior, while embarrassing, is actually worse than the House maintaining decorum while passing legislation to supply lethal aid to Israel?

            I know it is sort of a false choice, but I’d rather have them bickering and infighting than doing their jobs, because AIPAC is now clearly their boss.

  8. Neutrino

    Hungary gets its turn.

    First it was French Freedom Fries.

    What next, Hungarian Freedom Gobsmacked Goulash?

    1. Lena

      I enjoyed listening to the Hungarian Foreign Minister’s remarks. If only the US had someone that articulate and intelligent speaking for our government. Instead we have sociopaths with guitars and cookies. (I don’t believe Nuland is really gone for good. Like Hillary, she’s the Undead.)

      1. The Rev Kev

        Remember Blinken’s guitar? Alex Christoforou said in a video that he was contacted by a bunch of musicians to say that that guitar was a leftie. And the chance that he could step up on a stage and be given one was virtually zero. So likely that was Blinken’s own personal guitar which he brought to the Ukraine with him and they had it ready for him to grab on stage.

        1. R.S.

          > And the chance that he could step up on a stage and be given one was virtually zero.

          LOL. There’s a well-known Soviet/Russian idiom, translated along the lines of “a piano in the bushes”.

          An amateur musician “just happens” to have this and that to show his skills. Even a grand piano in the bushes nearby, because it’s the most natural thing one can expect. Anthony, it was comedy!

          1. JohnA

            We lefties like myself, have to learn to adapt to a right handed world. Hendrix would have played a right hand guitar upside down with strings switched. I didnt even know there was such a thing as a left handed guitar, maybe now, but not in the 60s when Hendrix was around.

            1. wilroncanada

              Some minor flunkie named McCartney was a lefty with a lefty guitar in the 60s, JohnA

        2. Gregorio

          I noticed that when I first saw the photo, immediately thinking Tony brought his guitar with him for a staged PR stunt. The chances were definitely zero considering that none of the other guitarists on stage were lefties.

        3. Feral Finster

          Of course it was a PR stunt with every detail planned and stage-managed in advance.

          The message was simple: “Don’t worry, everything is under control!”

  9. zagonostra

    >Pro-Israel billionaires urged New York crackdown on Gaza protests: Report Al Jazeera. Who’s the sovereign here?

    A handful of powerful businessmen pushed New York City Mayor Eric Adams to use police to crack down on pro-Palestinian student protesters at Columbia University, donating to the politician and offering to pay for private investigators to help break up the demonstrations, the Washington Post has reported,

    I think sovereignty in the majority has been on life support from day one, but I think we have reached the point where it has gone code blue and we are exactly where Frank Church said we would be back in 1975. Indeed, the argument could be made that we fell into the abyss after 9/11 and the Patriot Act and there is no point of return.

    I know the capacity that is there to make tyranny total in America, and
    we must see to it that this agency [the National Security Agency] and all
    agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under
    proper supervision, so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the
    abyss from which there is no return.
    —Senator Frank Church (1975)

    1. Kurtismayfield

      They are so bold to express the plutocracy out in the open now. Be careful if your citizens don’t lend you legitimacy.

  10. SocalJimObjects

    The sectoral balances show that the government has very little control over the national debt.

    One line from that article really caught my eye i.e. “It is not possible to have a saver without a borrower.”. I think the author’s conflating saving with investing. When most people think of saving money, they think of return of capital and not return on capital. Imagine you live in a safe society where you can store all your money under the mattress, would you still need a borrower to be able to save your money? Perhaps that’s the reason why governments are not interested in reducing crime to zero ;)

    How about that thing called the savings account then? Well, it’s not really risk free, in a sense you are investing in the bank by making an implicit bet that the bank will not go bankrupt. If it’s really risk free, it would not come with insurance i.e. FDIC.

    So yeah if the private sectors wants to earn a “risk free” return on capital, someone will need to provide that return and that’s the government, but I would argue that still falls under investing, and not savings. Or perhaps it’s time for me to question my own understanding of those two words :(

    1. Samuel Conner

      I think that “investment” has a very technical meaning in the economics literature — funds spent on plant and equipment. The “layman’s” meaning of “investment” is the purchase of some financial instrument that will provide a future return. So if I reduce my bank account by X$ to purchase shares in a mutual fund, I think of that as an “investment”. But at a micro-level, it’s a financial asset swap that in itself has no effect on net savings — I’m exchanging my bank balance (which we agree is “savings”) for someone else’s interest in the mutual fund shares I have just purchased. So my “savings” got transferred to the share seller and the share seller’s shares got transferred to me.

      Regarding “savings hidden under mattress as cash”, national accounting includes “cash outstanding”. I don’t think there’s a conceptual lacuna in RM’s account. That the sectoral balances do sum to zero is true tautologically, the sectoral balances identity is an accounting identity, but one can also see that it does work out this way in practice, for example Figure 7 at this link.

      That State policy cannot control the deficit (at least not in a “first order sense” — policy changes will induce back-reactions in other sectors that can dilute the effect of the policy change, because the other sectors have their own goals and considerable ability to pursue them) is counterintuitive, but I think our intuitions in this regard are a kind of fallacy of composition — we know that individuals can control or at least strongly influence their individual annual deficit through spending and earning choices.

      1. vao

        Languages such as German and French make a distinction between

        a) on the one side: investment — “Investition”, “investissement”, with corresponding verbs “investieren” and “investir” for invest — which means acquiring means to maintain or increase productive capacity (e.g. machines, lorries, warehouses, computers, etc);

        b) and on the other side, financial operations — “Anlage”, “placement”, with corresponding verbs “anlegen” and “placer” — meaning buying bonds, stock, shares in a fund, putting money in a time deposit, etc.

        By the way: in Germany, Heiner Flassbeck has been insisting on the concept of sectoral balances for many years, explaining that the wonderful “schwarze Null” of the balanced, or even positive, budget of the German federal state is only possible because foreigners are dissaving with respect to Germany (as proven by its persistently massive trade surplus).

      2. NotThePilot

        Good write-up, Samuel. On top of “investment, if I’m remembering right, “savings” has a technical, somewhat counter-intuitive meaning in sectoral analysis / national accounting too.

        Every sector by definition can only send current income into one of two buckets: spend it now or spend it later, and if I’m not mixed up, “savings” is everything in the 2nd bucket, even if you stash paper bills in a mattress or simply set them on fire (deferring your $x of consumption into eternity). It is confusing though because hoarding currency, which definitely isn’t good, is often described as a leak in the system.

        The counter-intuitive part (for me at least) is that as far as the balances are concerned, money changing hands only mediates spending in the current time frame. What mediates everything else across time, including savings and investment, is how slack productive capacity is allocated.

      1. Revenant

        The third source of money is currency. In the UK, English pounds are an obligation of HMG (via BoE) whereas Scottish and NI pounds are obligations of their issuing banks, which in turn back them 1:1 with English pounds in a currency board-type arrangement. I don’t know if Guernsey and Jersey currency has the sane arrangement but I believe it must be part of the Sterling area (it is part of the Sterling payments system etc).

        Of course, notes and coins are a small fraction of bank money but, importantly, they are the only direct liabilities of HMG, rather than commercual-bank-funny-money and they are a high profile, tactile daily reminder of state capacity. Which is why technocrats hate them and want CBDC’s….

        1. Procopius

          Since pounds sterling are backed by pounds sterling, I think it would be fair to say they are backed by the fact that everybody believes in them and nobody wants to go to the trouble of exchanging pounds for pounds. Same with dollars, euros, rubles, yuan, etc. I have never understood the idea some people have that a currency backed by gold is a good thing (it’s deflationary).

    2. Samuel Conner

      I think that MMT theorists do think of “cash outstanding” as a kind of debt obligation of the issuer of the cash. Physical cash notes are a form of bearer bond, that entitles the bearer to payment upon presentation for redemption. The issuer (US Treasury) is obligated to accept them upon presentation for redemption for the specific purpose of payment of taxes.

      Again, I don’t think there’s a hole in RM’s discussion.

    3. R.S.

      Off the top of my head: if you’re storing cash in banknotes, those are IOUs of the respective central bank or similar entity. If it, say, declares some or all of its notes invalid by a certain date, or just invalid, or dissolves, your cash is as good as paper. Say, marks of DDR, Soviet rubles… it happened.

      Even when money was mostly silver, the coins could be declared “bad”, and you had to sell them as metal, or exchange for the “good” ones with discount.

  11. Samuel Conner

    The Richard Murphy item on UK sectoral balances, posted under “Dear Old Blighty”, could equally well be posted under the heading “MMT”, as it is MMT-themed and of general applicability. That government deficits are the result of the decisions of non-government sectors is IMO extremely important but apparently not widely recognized.

  12. ChrisFromGA

    Lest we doubt that the confetti money spray from 2020 is still percolating through the system, four years later, here is a local news story:

    This week, the Cobb Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to return $1.7 million in unspent COVID relief money to its American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) contingency fund.
    Just over $1.6 million allocated for Cobb Travel & Tourism and about $59,000 for SelectCobb went unspent, according to county staff, and commissioners approved returning those unused ARPA funds to the county’s coffers as part of its undesignated COVID relief fund.
    The move will allow the commission to re-allocate those funds to other projects in the future.

    They got so much federal $$ they literally couldn’t spend it. Now it goes into a general fund where it can be spent on anything.

    Separately, the local school board is blowing $50M on a building for hosting HS graduations, when there are perfectly good County facilities available that were already paid for.


    1. lambert strether

      > they couldn’t spend it

      Are the Atlanta public schools well-ventilated? No?

      1. ChrisFromGA

        Lots of things wrong with this.

        It’s CobbCounty and there is little tourism here. We are a bedroom community with no real “draw” for tourists other than the Atlanta Braves stadium for visiting fans. Not much need to promote that – it’s Major League Baseball.

        Why not give the money to food banks or as rent relief? Probably because it would highlight the ongoing struggles of the middle class and hit a discordant note in an election year.

        1. jsn

          Why doesn’t Cobb County have ventilation in all public buildings meeting the new ASHRAE post Covid specifications?

          1. ChrisFromGA

            Good question. During COVID pandemic the board voted to enter a contract with a private company to put UV disinfecting stations throughout the schools.

            They ended up cancelling the contract due to some sort of financial shenanigans, although I never really heard a good explanation for it.

    2. Will

      Ontario did the same but on a larger scale.

      The feds distributed billions to the provinces for Covid related spending. As in, the money couldn’t be spent on anything else. Don’t know if this was repeated elsewhere, but the conservative government of Ontario stashed the cash in its emergency fund and didn’t spend it. Then at the end of the 2020 fiscal year, budget rules automatically transferred those unspent billions from the province’s emergency account to its general spending account.

      At the time, the suspicion was they would apply the Covid money to the deficit so the ruling conservatives could later brag about their fiscal prudence or something but nope. Even bigger deficits because they’ve been spending on the dumbest pork barrel projects like a huge waterfront spa and a new and unnecessary major highway that is conveniently close to property owned by major donors.

      We are ruled by idiots.

      1. Danpaco

        Doug Fords constituency is all developers!
        Sadly The Science Center will now become condos as well when it’s moved next to the spa.

      2. jrkrideau

        We are ruled by idiots.

        It’s not clear to me that Doug is that intelligent. Some of his cabinet ministers might rise to that level.

    3. Stephen V

      This deserves a book at least. In Podunk, AR here the County is building a new jail with Covid $$. (A scam all its own: there are contractors that roam the countryside building jails, who knew?– A Lambert self-licking you know what). I did a little research and found out we are not unique. Iowa City (IIRC) filed suit only come to find out the freaking Dept. of Treasury is not enforcing the regulations which are intended to limit these expenditures.
      But shipping $$ back to U.ncle S.ugar? I didn’t see that one coming.

  13. polar donkey

    Car insurance rates- This isn’t connected to any links today but I thought it was something bordering on the unbelievable. Guy I work with has 21 year old son here in Memphis. Son bought a 2023 charger. Didn’t check insurance rate before buying. The cheapest insurance he could find was $986 a month. At same time, there are almost no repo men here (and around the country) because it is so dangerous. Many cars are driving around here that are delinquent and uninsured, fueling street racing, car theft, and fast n furious style criminal gangs. Stellantis built insane overpowered cars, their bank gave out loans to anyone with a pulse, flood areas with these cars, and then just watch as the down stream problems explode. Dodge did to cars what NRA did with guns.

    1. The Rev Kev

      The cheapest insurance he could find was $986 a month? That’s nearly $12,000 a year. Where is a 21 year-old kid supposed to get the money to pay for that. Best he can do is to pay the insurance, let it be stolen, and then try to buy a more reasonable car with the insurance payout. The cops in Memphis must love Dodge for all the work that they created for them.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Maybe too that are considering where he is trying to insure this car. Seems to have a very bad rep.

        2. Terry Flynn

          As a former actuary I saw the beginnings of change in terms of no longer actually pricing according to risk in the mid 1990s. Before then, yes insurance was typically quite highly tied to risk. My two miserable years in the field coincided with the start of the oligopolisation and outright buy-outs of the traditional actuarial consultancies by the “big accountancy firms”.

          The big accountancies would offer “complete set of services” deals to companies. Pricing of the actuarial services became increasingly opaque, aided by the moves from defined benefit to defined contribution pension schemes. It was a recipe for the worst oligopolistic over-charging possible (since 90% of the actuaries were now surplus to requirements and it became difficult for clients to keep tabs on what was being done at all, with negative spillovers from the pensions side to the traditional insurance side).

          I wince at the oft-quoted “use the actuaries’ rates to quantify climate change risk” calls. These may well be qualitatively in the right direction, but if you believe that some big finance organisation that offers you all your auditing/actuarial services/etc is not over-charging you on insurance then I’ve got a bridge to sell you.

    2. doug

      Chargers are stolen all the time. Leave one on the street in many towns and it will not be there when you come back. And an hour later, it is parts being shipped out.

    3. Benny Profane

      Last time I was in downtown Memphis it was literally an S show of white and black kids making tremendous noise and doing Stoopid stuff in newish muscle cars. Lord knows what happens out on improvised drag strip and tire burning shows outside of town. Sorry, but, if I was a Geico cube number cruncher, I’d consider the kid lucky to be insured at all. Nothing worse than a 21 year old male behind the wheel of something with a lot of horsepower and big tires. Buy a used Honda if you have a problem with that, and grow up.

      1. ArcadiaMommy

        Every person I see driving one of these chargers is a maniac driver. My 16yo driving increased our insurance costs by $300 to cover a BMW sedan, small Mercedes suv and a hand me down Hyundai suv. These cars are 2020 or newer.

        And yes my son is a terrible driver as we all were at that age. We are lucky that his on campus parking options are limited and require a carpool.

  14. The Rev Kev

    “Local authority reveal 4 construction workers killed during building of fortifications in Kharkiv Oblast”

    The Russians have worked out that if they take out the heavy construction equipment, then that puts a spanner in any future fortification construction- (41 secs)

    1. Polar Socialist

      If you’ve seen any pictures of the said fortifications it’s more likely the workers died from drinking toxic vodka than during any “construction”.

  15. yep

    Why Blinken’s visit to Ukraine was “revolutionary” but not fully successful European Pravda. Blinken pledged fealty to Azov by dining at their pizza joint. What more do these people want?

    Money. These people want more money. Also, a nuke to drop on that bridge. Regular people would probably prefer to hear a fat lady sing.

    1. Feral Finster

      NATO troops and longer-range missiles.

      Ukraine will get both as Russia continues to dither.

          1. yep

            Yea, right. Russian are dithering wafflers with cope cages, and cope toblerones, and no capability of differentiating sh*t from shinola. Putin shoud dismiss whole general staff, and all of the advisors, and just check out Twitter.

            1. Polar Socialist

              Nah, he should just nuke the NATO to show Russia can be just as despicably stupid as Israel.

              1. Feral Finster

                Don’t argue with strawmen, since I never once have advocated use of nuclear weapons.

            2. Feral Finster

              NATO weapons are hitting Russia and NATO continues to ignore red line after red line with impunity.

              Spin it how you like.

              1. yep

                I am not trying to spin anything. You are, with that Twitter vocabulary. I have no problem with trolling, but I do with low effort posting. You are capable of writing posts worth reading, and these are not among those.

  16. MT_Wild

    On blackmail of our elites.

    We only know about Epstein because he was sloppy and outlived his usefulness so they made an example of him. A single blackmail operation from a single Mossad or Mossad-adjacent outfit. Even then, all they let us know about was that he was running underage (but at least teenage) girls. Which is relatively tame.

    The reality is that Mossad, and every other intelligence agency, and maybe a surprising number of corporations are running multiple variations of the same play. And given my incredibly low opinion of humanity, I’m sure they’re catering to tastes far darker then anything we’ve heard about in the Epstein case.

    And so it seems the two guardrails on our politics are blackmail and large-dollar campaign contributions.

    I’ve been really skeptical of the recent trend of recruiting navy seals as politicians. But maybe it actually makes sense, since they are the kind of people who don’t mind getting their hands dirty, and have the skills and connections to run their own counter operation.

    1. Jason Boxman

      Heh. This reminds me of Altered Carbon and the pleasure ship, Head in the Clouds. Whatever you want, if you have the coin. Second season wasn’t so great; first season thankfully stands alone. Netflix, actually. I usually find little to redeem Netflix, but the shoe fits.

    2. JBird4049

      I am reminded of Marc Dutroux, a man who makes Jeffrey Epstein look decent; it does make me wonder just what kind of blackmail various agencies have on members of our government.

      I know that there are many good people in government and in law, but seeing all this makes me want to do things. Unfortunately, the filth overwhelms the good or even human.

      1. Feral Finster

        I understand that there also were numerous fishy circumstances surrounding Dutroux’s life and death.

        Things that make you go hmmm.

      2. steppenwolf fetchit

        Jeff Wells at Rigorous Intuition 2.0 wrote a bunch of blogposts under the grab-bag category titled:
        ” The Military-Occult Complex, ritual abuse/mind control, and “High Weirdness”
        Some of those posts are about this kind of Upper Class organized perversionism.

        One such article is titled ” Gosch, again”.

  17. bassmule

    Headline in Politico: “President Biden announces moves to relax weed restrictions.”

    So now it will be a “Schedule 3” drug. Meaning the Feds will let your physician prescribe it? To belabor the obvious: Ka-Ching! for everyone but the buyer. And it is already legal in 24 states. So who is he doing this for? You only get one guess:

    1. Christopher Smith

      Too little too late as far as I am concerned. The vast majority of people want it fully legalized, now do it already.

    2. lyman alpha blob

      Living in one of those states where it’s legal, I have to say I preferred the illegal commercial exchange. Product is only sold in specialized storefronts and just walking in the door gets you IDed and put into a digital database. Somehow legalization now makes the purchaser feel more like a criminal. Prices here are at or above the former black market price.

      There really is nothing our elected representatives can’t [family blog] up.

      Meanwhile, on a recent trip across the pond, I saw joints being sold at the counter of a snack bar, much like cigarettes are sold in US convenience stores. I’m sure Uncle Sugar will soon convince Europe they’re doing that wrong too.

      1. Randy

        I live adjacent to Michigan. Prices in Michigan are dirt cheap. Before Michigan legalized I grew my own. I am old and out of the pot social loop so that was my only solution. Growing was more risk, expense and work than now.

        Now I just make a short road trip, spend ~$100 and I have a years supply, I use only occasionally now that I am older. Gummies once a week to obtain an uninterrupted nights sleep and concentrates once a week to enhance musical enjoyment. Thanks Michigan!

      2. steppenwolf fetchit

        Make part of the legalization be recognition of the right to grow one’s own at home. In Michigan one now has the state-legal right to grow up to 12 plants per year for personal use.

        What we have now at the state level may “feel” more illegal, but what we did have at the state level WAS more illegal and subjected you to greater risk of genuine persecution with genuine consequences by the legal enforcement system.

        People who prefer what we had can always start a petition to get something on the ballot re-state-outlawing marijuana all over again. I would not sigh such a petition, of course.

    3. Screwball

      I didn’t think of that angle, but it makes sense. Joe doesn’t do anything unless someone makes a buck. He probably wants 10%. My local newspaper made it sound like he was making it legal, when that isn’t the case at all. So it also buys him votes. Votes + money = win/win.

      These people are so awful.

    4. cgregory

      We have got to stop treating addiction as lawlessness. As happened with alcohol in Prohibition, it only boosts the price, the profits and the desire to make even more money.

      We need to re-define substance abuse of all kinds as slow suicide. Provide stores where the addicts can get, as they do now with alcohol and tobacco, their preferred substances in whatever quantity at a reasonable price. Turn the cartels into legal businesses which don’t need firepower, are protected by regulation of the industry practices and do pay taxes.

      What we will see decrease: attempts to increase the consumer market, a reduction in crime associated with drug dependency, and an increase of the number of families and persons willing to confront the addict’s problem.

      Finally use the money now spent on enforcement, prosecution and adjudication to deal with the would-be suicides.

      1. JBird4049

        The (states’) Legislatorial-Prison-Police Industrial Complex makes too much money to make reform realistically possible, just as with the Congressional-Military-Industrial Complex does from war.

      2. steppenwolf fetchit

        And of course marijuana use is not slow suicide. It is self-improvement. At least it was for me with the sorts of marijuana which existed 40 years ago.

        Today’s supercharged marijuana might make it different. Perhaps present day users should be advised to use 10 X less per dose than what we used 40 years ago.

  18. The Rev Kev

    “NATO commander says Russia doesn’t have enough troops for Kharkiv breakthrough”

    ‘The Russians don’t have the numbers necessary to do a strategic breakthrough. More to the point, they don’t have the skill and the capability to do it, to operate at the scale necessary to exploit any breakthrough.’

    Putin has already said that Russia has no intention of capturing the Ukrainian city of Kharkov which means that they don’t need to have huge numbers of troops in this region. But for putting the Ukraine’s defenses into a hash, it has been a great success. Don’t know why Cavoli felt the need to trash the Russian military, especially when you consider that in his career that he has studied them. I would point out that right now there is only one army practicing and using combined arms operations and it is not the US Army-

    1. yep

      I wonder if NATO generals still think that Russia wanted to take Kiev two years ago, with even less troops.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Becoming a General is like becoming a billionaire. Your IQ drops 20 points straight away.

        1. Samuel Conner

          It may be more fundamental, and worse, than that. As was anciently affirmed, “the problem with the generals is that they are promoted from among the colonels.”

          A more recent take on “making General” as a career path.

        2. John k

          We make up for the low quality of our generals by having so many more of them… as Stalin said, there is a quality element in quantity.
          Or, if it takes one ship 9 days to cross the ocean, 9 ships can…

        3. Terry Flynn

          I’m sure you will recognise the Star Trek “insane admiral” meme.

          When have we had a sane empathic admiral in ST apart from Ross in DS9?

    2. Lefty Godot

      The Kharkov attack looks like opportunistic probing to see what they can get, and how much they can discombobulate the Ukrainian command. And they have the threat of an attack through Sumy to wind up the AFU brass some more. Both of which are probably mostly about making Ukraine pull troops from other positions. Anyone want to bet that Xi got briefed yesterday on what the next steps will be?

      Next Tuesday is when Zelensky’s legal tenure in office expires, so something more consequential may get rolled out then. And I’m still wondering, has anyone in the UK seen Zaluzhny yet? Is he already there and keeping a low profile for an ambassador, or in jail back in the old country, or in hiding while he waits to spring a coup on Zelensky?

      The other factor is Steadfast Defender. Will the NATO exercise be an excuse for NATO’s green troops to jump in and (try to) thwart any sudden Russian gains? The exercise is only supposed to extend through May, but it’s not clear how quickly the 90,000 NATO soldiers will be withdrawn after that. Russia may or may not be ready to defeat a NATO intervention at this stage; they could always wait a few weeks before escalating dramatically (likely due sometime in June). Maybe NATO will just hang around there to discourage any large-scale offensive, but how long can they drag that out? I imagine Biden’s biggest concern now is that things not blow up before the election.

  19. The Rev Kev

    “Western volunteers join the battle against Myanmar’s military regime”

    I guess that these mercs figured that Myanmar is safer than fighting in the Ukraine as Myanmar’s military regime is not known for using huge masses of artillery.

    1. Joker

      LOL. I was about to write similar thing. Ukrainian safari turned out to be disappointment for many.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Ukrainian weather report for the front-

        ‘The weather today will be warm and mild with a chance of heavy shrapnel in the afternoon.’

        It’s all fun and games being on safari until you realize that you are the game. Both the Iraq resistance and the Taliban were also not known for their heavy artillery units.

  20. CA

    Arnaud Bertrand @RnaudBertrand

    Wow, China and Russia issued an extraordinary joint statement yesterday, with almost 8,000 words when translated into English, and in many ways more important than the famous “no limits” partnership statement in February 2022.

    Here are the points that stood out for me.


    The statement says that it is an “objective factor” that “the status and strength of emerging major countries and regions in the ‘Global South’ are continuously increasing”, and that “the trend of world multipolarity is accelerating”. This in turn “accelerates the redistribution of development potential, resources, and opportunities in a direction favorable to emerging markets and developing countries, promoting the democratization of international relations and international fairness and justice”.

    They point out that “countries that adhere to hegemonism and power politics are contrary to this trend, attempting to replace and subvert the international order based on international law with a so-called ‘rules-based order’ “.

    Security-wise, the statement says that “both sides believe that the fate of the peoples of all countries is interconnected, and no country should seek its own security at the expense of others’ security. Both sides express concern about the current international and regional security challenges and point out that in the current geopolitical context, it is necessary to explore the establishment of a sustainable security system in the Eurasian space based on the principle of equal and indivisible security.”

    They go on to say that China and Russia “will fully tap the potential of bilateral relations” in order to “promote the realization of an equal and orderly multipolar world and the democratization of international relations, and gather strength to build a just and reasonable multipolar world”.

    As for the vision of this world order these 2 principles seem to be the foundational ones…

    11:04 PM · May 16, 2024

    1. The Rev Kev

      So much for Yellen and then Blinken ordering China to cut off trade relations with Russia. Here, China and Russia are directly challenging the so-called Rules Based Order and will fight for international law instead. It is a direct challenge to the Collective West and this will resonate with a lot of the countries of the Global majority.

      1. CA

        “So much for Yellen and then Blinken ordering China to cut off trade relations with Russia…”

        This is of special importance. China and Russia are countries of more than 1.5 billion, making up an area that is 3 times that of the United States including Alaska. Chinese mathematics and engineering development is already near to or world-leading. Chinese infrastructure and production capability is also near to or world leading. Just how then is China with the potential of Russia going to be “contained?”

        Somehow United States political leadership has failed to understand what China was becoming for decades, no matter how obvious that should have been. And a thoroughly benign China was increasingly, fiercely challenged rather than partnered with. Possibly this demonstration of the partnership of China and Russia will temper US policy from here.

        1. Gregorio

          Congress could save the lobbyists a lot of extra work by just passing one bill that limits Chinese imports to clothing, cheap plastic consumer goods, and rare earth minerals.

  21. The Rev Kev

    “Lessons from the Red Sea: Considerations for Naval Strategy in the 21st Century”

    Oddly enough, this article does not mention a very important lesson. That using $2-$3 million dollar missiles to shoot down $40,000 drones is a losing proposition. More so when that warship runs out of missiles and has to retreat to a port so that it can restock. Being able to do so at sea is not an option. And then there is the fact that the US cannot keep up with using missiles at that rate as those production lines can not keep up in light of demands from other theaters. Most of the stuff that Ansar Allah is firing off is heading to Israel or ships that try to make a run up the Red Sea and not that naval task force. So the thought must be occurring to a lot of Admirals of what would happen if they took on China and had to face swarms of drones and missiles actually aimed at them. In addition, another lesson learned is that allied ships are not willing to serve as missile sponges for the US Navy and they followed their own doctrine. The same would apply if they were involved with Taiwan as well.

    1. ChrisFromGA

      Upton Sinclair’s rule applies to this. We can’t have such contradictions being pointed out, because the point isn’t to win foreign wars, it’s to jack up military spending and load as many Beltway Bandits on the DC gravy train as possible so contractors’ kids can get a nice model Mercedes for their 16th birthday present.

    2. XXYY

      It seems like there was a lot more to discuss than this article mentioned.

      One issue is that being a big, heavily armed ship doesn’t do that much for you and in fact just makes you a bigger and more attractive target. No lives are endangered in the attacking force since they are sitting 100 km away in an underground bunker. Formerly, it was quite dangerous to take on a carrier battle group since they could literally blow you out of the water from over the horizon. The trend towards bigger and bigger, more expensive and heavily armored naval ships packed with people seems like it’s now over. Now it seems like you would prefer a swarm of tiny, cheap ships, or perhaps no ships at all. This will require a gigantic change in mindset among senior Naval people, probably too much for existing officers to handle.

      Another point is that Naval ships are increasingly either (a) missile launching platforms, or (b) carriers of defensive armaments to protect themselves and other ships nearby from incoming missiles. This all seems rather pointless, since missiles can be launched in other ways that do not need massive amounts of protection.

      Add your own obvious points to mine!

      1. hk

        There was a movement similar to that, in late 19th century: the Jeune Ecole (the “Young School” movement.) The inspiration was the invention of the “automotive” torpedo, the stuff that we call just torpedo nowadays, and, to a point, the invention of the first practical submarines (made possible in part because of the torpedo). The battleship was declared obsolete as a swarm of small and cheap torpedo boats, some of which could hide underwater, could wipe them out. That didn’t quite pan out, though. As it were, sinking big ships with torpedo boats turned out to be pretty hard, for many reasons. it took a lot of daring and skill for small craft to successfully attack big, heavily armed and protected ships, and those were always in short supply. New equipment and ships were developed to defeat totpedo boats–eventually dubbed the “destroyer” (short for “torpedo boat destroyer”–the French term still keeps the original etymology), along with suitable tactics. Plus, torpedo boats were not useful on high seas and couldn’t be used for power projection the way battleships could be. So, while there were some spectacular successes of “torpedo boats” of various types taking down battleships during both World Wars, the Jeune Ecole idea never quite did get realized fully.

        Now, it is true that the Jeune Ecole’s ideas did make battleships much more expensive: they had to be kept under “protection” of a broader ecosystem and had to be kept out of settings where torpedo boats (defined broadly) could ambush them. But the value of “battleships” (defined broadly, to include carriers), especially as tools of power projection remains (including the PR dimension–sending a yuuge warship does carry a certain prestige).

        So can modern “torpedoes,” in form of missiles and drones finally make battleships obsolete? I could imagine it being the continuation of what the original Jeune Ecole did over time: making battleships (and the supporting equipment) so expensive and by driving them out of so many roles that they become white elephants. In a sense, that has already happened: very few proper “carriers,” capable of acting like battleships of old exist today. Only one country can use them meaningfully, and even that at ridiculously bloated cost. The question is, whether the new Jeune Ecole, with missiles, can drive even the United States out of the “battleship” business? Personally, I don’t really see it, yet. Although hugely wasteful, there is such immense political capital invested in building and maintaining them (and the supporting gear) that they won’t go out of business except by a singular disaster where they get wiped out en masse convincingly, and that seems improbable any time soon (and if that does happen, building carriers won’t be high on the priority of any government that survives–assuming there is any that survives at all.

        1. Procopius

          Oddly enough, China is building more aircraft carriers, and has also announced they will build the world’s largest drone carrier. I suppose they are thinking in PR terms.

          1. hk

            Big carriers are a useful PR tool–no question about that (power projection is more than just about firepower). I don’t expect them to be actually “useful,” though, in any military sense.

  22. lyman alpha blob

    RE: Maybe Even Build a Boat

    I’ve always liked this idea of education being both academic and practical. If I were king (one of those beneficent ones Plato was so fond of, or course!), higher education would be free of charge and graduates would be required to complete both academic and vocational programs. Physics major with a minor in welding. Or double major in carpentry/philosophy or history/horticulture. Something like that.

    I grew up with the practical types without much higher education. People who fixed their own vehicles, grew their own food, who could make anything out of wood. Some of that rubbed off on me, but I was good at school and pushed toward the smart stuff. My college education was purely academic. That seemed fine at the time, but 30 years later it pains me to hire a mechanic or drywaller to do things I never learned to do as well as the rest of my family. Of course it’s getting more difficult to even hire people to do practical things. As a kid I remember repair shops being a thing but today, not so much.

    I vaguely remember reading about a proposed new college or one possibly just getting off the ground, literally, a few years ago somewhere in the SW US if I remember right. Thanks to crapified search, I can’t find anything about it though. My recollection was along the lines as mentioned above. You could live in a dorm for example, but you had to build it first. If anybody else has ever heard of this, please chime in. Seemed like a great idea and I’ve wondered whether it was successful or not.

    1. Kouros

      I read somewhere that there was a tradition in the Ottoman empire that the successors to the sultanate had to learn a practical skill, i.e. blacksmith, book binder, etc… Anchor them in reality…

      1. Procopius

        The Ottoman sultans mostly killed all possible rival claimants to the throne (including the large numbers of their brothers). In the rare cases where they didn’t, they threw them in solitary confinement, so when the current sultan died and the new sultan was brought forth from the prison he was quite mad.

    2. Lena

      Such institutions of higher education have existed for a long time in the US. They are called “work colleges”. Berea College in Berea, Kentucky (founded in 1855) is probably the best known. I know several people who graduated from Berea. They speak very highly of their college experience. Every student is required to work at least 10 hours a week on campus. They work in construction, maintenance, food service and groundskeeping, etc – a wide variety of jobs that give them practical skills along with academic knowledge from their regular classes. There are several other “work colleges” across the US.

      1. CA

        Such institutions of higher education have existed for a long time in the US. They are called “work colleges”…

        [ There are a number of land-grant colleges, such as Cornell, dating from about the 1860s, with technical divisions such as agriculture and engineering. But, various work divisions are found in many liberal arts colleges. ]

      2. JBird4049

        Too bad that this is not a general thing across the United States. If students could get a full ride, some knowledge and skills while not being in debt, that would do much for the country especially if all the teachers were actually well paid.

        1. Lena

          All students pay $0 in tuition to go to Berea. That has been true since 1892. They also get paid for the work they do on campus. I believe it is the only “work college” in the country that pays their students.

  23. Screwball

    So I see on Twitter Eugene Vindman (brother of Alexander) is running for congress. Virginia, as a democrat. If elected, I’m sure it won’t take long to get him on the war party committees.

  24. XXYY

    Biden, CDC silent as North Carolina lawmakers vote to ban masks The Gauntlet

    Let’s see: Masks were bad at the start of the pandemic, because covid was transmitted on surfaces, then masks became good when Red populations were protesting against them, then masks became bad because the administration had declared the pandemic was over, and now masks are being declared good again because North Carolina lawmakers are saying they are bad.

    It’s really hard to trust the science in the US!

    1. Chris Cosmos

      I like your comment–humor is a requirement today. During COVID here in North Carolina restrictions were very sketchy. I never saw a mask or any difference whenever I went to an autoparts store or place working class guys hang out there was no hint of a mask. People around here just don’t trust the authorities.

  25. enoughisenough

    When I think of Mandy Cohen, CDC director, I imagine her face as Alfred E Newman, going “What me worry”

  26. Lefty Godot

    A few dozen demonstrators were within the barricaded area cloaked in the Israeli flag

    The few dozen that are demonstrating for the approved (usually pro-war) position, will always get “equal time” in the media alongside the thousands who are demonstrating for the “wrong” position. It was true during the Iraq war and true during the Vietnam war and it’s still true. Fair and balanced, yeah.

  27. Chris Cosmos

    Just a general comment on the love of war in the USA. Americans are far less warlike these days but, fortunately for the oligarchs, popular approval of policies is no longer necessary. The economics of war are positive for the US–in fact, losing the war is better for all concerned (who count) at the moment–plus, it keeps tensions high and forces the vassal states to group ever closer to the Empire and the “threats” out there always bind populations to the authorities and give governments an excuse to repress dissent. If peace would breakout in the world the power-structure in Washington would crumble. No one in power could conceivably favor peace.

  28. Anon

    The world economic order is falling apart – Voltairenet

    ‘According to the Economist, “the order (megasic!) which has governed the world economy since the Second World War has been eroded (megasic!)” and is today “on the verge of collapse”. This axiom has long been trumpeted by critics of deregulated, nihilistic and misanthropic globalization, but for the magazine – a champion for globalism, now in free fal – to make such a statement amounts to capitulation.’

    What a time to be alive.

  29. steppenwolf fetchit

    We should make AI an object of noisome disgust. But how can we do that? By using the right words and phrases in the right way to point up the inherent disgustingess of AI productions?

    I offer words and phrases like : AI pollution, AI emissions, AI contamination, AI infection, AI fecal waste, etc., in case anyone wants to use them or invent others.

    Perhaps we could use the letters AI in the naming of new conceptual diseases to point up the loathsomeness of AI. Perhaps AIds ( pronounced “aids”) which stands for Artificial Intelligence dementia syndrome. Or perhaps in all caps, like this: AIDS –> for Artificial Intelligence Dementia Syndrome.

  30. James Payette

    Honesty About Covid is Essential for Progress John Snow Project
    How can you have an article about honesty about Covid without mentioning the harms of especially the mRNA vaccine which the majority of Americans took? I realize that almost every study I have read about long covid does not discuss the possibility or the percentage of long covid attributed to the vaccine rather than the so called infection. Most everybody who has long covid has also had 1-(8) COVID Vaccines. There is no talk in the article of the idiocy of vaccinating 6months+ children and nothing about the documented harms to teenaged males.

    1. flora

      A woman who took part in the AstraZeneca (AZ) clinical trials signed a trial enrollee contract that said AZ would provide care and assistance for any harmful side effects. She had a harmful side effect; AZ walked away. But she has a contract which AZ seems to have breached.

      Jimmy Dore has the story and interview. utube. ~33 minutes.

      It Begins!

  31. Willow

    > Western military trainers will be sent to Ukraine ‘eventually,’ top US military official
    Russia would have deep channels into West/NATO thinking which is why Belousov was made Defence Minister in preparation for another ‘Vietnam’. Except this time it may lead to the economic collapse of the West.

  32. Willow

    > The DragonBear-Hug Signals Unprecedented Expansion of Ties
    Russia to gets Europe & Mediterranean Africa. China gets Asia/Pacific, Americas and rest of Africa.

  33. Balan ARoxdale

    House passes GOP bill rebuking Biden’s Israel weapons pause Politico

    An item in the Bill which may have been overlooked (I fully expect the press to overlook it). Section 5 ( c )

    (b) Prompt delivery of direct commercial sales.—The Secretary of State shall ensure prompt approval and delivery of all direct commercial sales of defense articles and services for Israel which are expected to be delivered in fiscal years 2024 and 2025, including those for the Ministry of Public Security.

    The Ministry of Public Security is Ben Gvir’s ministry, which the US already threatened to stop sending weapons to after Ben Gvir handed out weapons to settler militias last year.

    In my opinion, this introduction is a smoking gun which will land many in Washington in the dock under the US Genocide act should pogroms or worse kick off in the West Bank. If the bill passes, I expect the first major (direct commercial = private?) shipments will be crates of small arms which will end up the hands of settler militias, a la Rwanda machetes, there to await the appropriate political provocation. The Bill has no reasonable purpose to include the Israeli interior security ministry in this fashion. This passage is an overreach, with potentially disastrous enough consequences that the bill sponsors, backroom and backbench, could easily find themselves indicted for both domestically and internationally.

    I consider myself jaded, but the degree to which the US congress has utterly wholesaled itself is beyond staggering. I struggle to think of any historical analogues. I don’t think these people are smart enough to avoid a jail sentence.

  34. Randy

    All the X(formerly known as Twitter) links posted today were in the hated (by me) black background-white print format. This format drives my eyes nuts, it is like looking at the sun or a very bright light bulb and then trying to refocus my eyes for dimmer light and it doesn’t work.

    Is this a Muck mandated “improvement” to X(formerly known as Twitter), is it Firefox or is it a temporary fluke?

    1. Lefty Godot

      One data point: I’m using Firefox and they appear to have white backgrounds and black text to me.

      1. juno mas

        I use Firefox in ‘dark mode’ and X tweets appear as white text on black background. Maybe relevant?

  35. JBird4049

    >>>In California, otters are turning to tools to eat prey in Monterey Bay The Hill

    The article mentions that Northern California and Oregon coasts are still barren from all sea urchins eating the kelp forests because of the sea otters not yet expanding back into the area. IIRC, I believe that the otters use to live in an arc from just south of Monterey where the cold current starts to the other side of the Pacific going past Canada, Alaska, the Aleutians, and I vaguely remember just north of Sakhalin. That suggests a lot of formerly rich seafloor made barren by the Russian fur trade.

    It is like how the Western United States including the Rockies and parts east of them have suffered from the decline of the salmon runs which brought in vast amounts of nutrients from the Pacific from all salmon going up the many rivers and streams to spawn. All the nutrients eventually trickles throughout the ecosystem along the streams and rivers of both sides of the Continental Divide. I would have to believe that something similar happened to the East Coast as well. Actually, salmon do best when the forests and animals like the river otters are there to create all the best spawning grounds needing clean, cool, shaded streams.

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