Links 5/27/2024


America’s premier pronatalists on having ‘tons of kids’ to save the world: ‘There are going to be countries of old people starving to death’ The Guardian.

Cockroaches Are Everywhere Now, And It’s All Because of Humans Science Alert

Thanks, Cicadas, for Democratizing a Love of Nature Atmos


All Three Sides of the Global Energy Challenge Conversible Economist

A Debate Rages Over the Putative Environmental Benefits of the ARCH2 ‘Hydrogen Hub’ in Appalachia Inside Climate News


As reservoirs go dry, Mexico City and Bogotá are staring down ‘Day Zero’ Grist

After 5 years without drinkable water, Santee asks: When will our tap water be safe? Flatwater Free Press. Santee is a town in NE Nebraska.


How COVID-19 ‘breakthrough’ infections alter your immune cells Medical Xpress

We Know How to Eradicate TB. We Just Need the Will. Governing


China’s middle class still jittery about spending – especially on property, survey finds South China Morning Post

China’s gold rush shows the Chinese still have money to spend — they’re just not into Starbucks or Gucci Business Insider


US delegation arrives in Taiwan, President Lai Ching-te extends goodwill to China after drills Channel News Asia

Assessing US-China Superpower Rivalry: From a Cambodian Perspective (Part 1) Khmer Times


At least 30 killed as Israel targets camp for displaced in Rafah: Gaza media office Anadolu Agency

Hamas fires rockets at Israel’s Tel Aviv, causing first sirens for months Al Jazeera

The New York Times explains how gangsters now govern Israel Pearls and Irritations

Israeli Military Police Investigating Reservist Calling for Mass Insubordination in Gaza Haaretz

The message of Israel’s torture chambers is directed at all of us, not just Palestinians Middle East Eye

Will Gen Z change America’s foreign policy towards Israel? Responsible Statecraft


US to lift freeze on offensive weapons sales to Saudi Arabia: Sources Al Arabiya

Saudi’s crown prince promised pain for the US if it retaliated against oil cuts, report says. His threat seems to have paid off. Business Insider

European Disunion

European banks in Russia face ‘awful lot of risk’, Yellen says Euractiv

Le Pen to Meloni: Let’s team up and form EU Parliament’s No. 2 group Politico

‘You are taking us directly to the Third World War’, Italy fiercely attacks the head of NATO: Apologize or resign Pamfleti

Half of Italians struggling to make ends meet – Eurispes Ansa

The Energy Security Threat to the European Political Order Hungarian Conservative

New Not-So-Cold War

SITREP 5/26/24: NATO’s Yipping Chihuahuas Strain Their Leash as Russia Gears Up for Next Wave Simplicus the Thinker


Fixed-Wing Drones Spotted Over Russian Orenburg Oblast Militarnyi. “…the probable target of which could be the Voronezh-M over-the-horizon radar.” Yet to see any wider confirmation of this.


Increasingly Effective Russian Electronic Warfare Turning the Tide on the Frontlines – Reports Military Watch

Baltic states and Poland may deploy troops to Ukraine if Russia succeeds, media says RBC-Ukraine


Can Ukraine’s Zelenskyy stay in power without an election? Deutsche Welle

Berdyaev and the Ukrainian War Gordon Hahn, Landmarks: A Journal of International Dialogue

Old Blighty

Favoured Nation New Left Review. “Corporate America’s Anglophilia.”

The Caucasus

Georgian parliament committee rejects presidential veto of the divisive ‘foreign agents’ legislation AP

South of the Border

Peru’s US-backed regime:

Spook Country

‘I don’t know how this happened’: A $3B secret program undermining Biden’s tech policy Politico


The Left Is Not Joe Biden’s Problem. Joe Biden Is. How Things Work

Democrats en déshabillé

Fight over sanctions on international court splinters Democrats The Hill



For AI to Deliver on Its Promises, People Need to Trust It CNET

Imperial Collapse Watch

The Toxic Nexus Open the Magazine

Unipolarity is not over yet Global Studies Quarterly

US is world’s only superpower – Biden RT


When Health Care Crowdfunding Fails The Baffler.

Police State Watch

An approach to enable both locomotion and manipulation in a snake-inspired robot Tech Xplore

Groves of Academe

Kevin O’Leary’s dystopian fantasy of ruining the lives of campus protesters The Hill

Facing pro-Palestinian protests, universities must realize they are businesses – and act like it The Globe and Mail

Missing Links in Textbook History: Opposition to War Scheerpost

Our Famously Free Press

Class Warfare

No water, no shade: How homebuilders, farming companies and construction firms got politicians to reject heat rules for outdoor workers in Florida Seeking Rents

Newsom promised 1,200 tiny homes for homeless Californians. A year later, none have opened Cal Matters

The Dubious Claim That We Have a Squatting Crisis Governing

The Unhoused: Scapegoating Politics and Housing Struggles Adolph Reed, Jr., Socialist Project. Well worth a read.

Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. furnace

    I can’t express what I feel after seeing the Rafah images yesterday. This is a level of depravity and evil which is just breathtaking. May the Zionist entity perish soon, and may all that supported it pay their karma with interest. This is how the US empire ends: defending the most unhinged génocidaires.

    1. mrsyk

      Sadly that would (rightfully?) include me as my tax dollars are used to finance the whole affair. And please, no MMT lectures.

      1. chris

        Anxious Citizen: hey, I’ve been looking around, and not only is there no one to help me, but, there’s no produce in this store.

        Proud Store Manager: yes! You’re correct! We sell only one thing here.

        AC: and that would be…?

        PSM: war! Specifically, JustWar(tm).

        AC: why did you add the trademark there?

        PSM: to highlight our brand! We’re very proud to sell the best in war, and we’ve named it to remind people that when they buy war from US, they’re only buying the best and most righteous kind, JustWar(tm).

        AC: and what do you use JustWar(tm) for?

        PSM: you don’t.

        AC: come again?

        PSM: you buy it here, so we can ship it somewhere for other people to use.

        AC: that’s, nice, I guess? But look, I don’t really need to buy JustWar(tm) for someone else to use, though I sure they’d like it very much. How about, good jobs? Here?

        PSM: we offer many good jobs as part of your purchase of JustWar(tm).

        AC: any that I can have?

        PSM: are you in finance, propaganda, computer science, or engineering?

        AC: no

        PSM: do you have little ethical concern for your fellow man?

        AC: sigh… no. I did have some nasty thoughts about the person who abused the coffee barrista this morning, but no. I care for my fellow man.

        PSM: but what if, just for the sake of this discussion, they had brown skin?

        AC: what does that have to do with it?!

        PSM: don’t be offended! It says in the terms and conditions of JustWar(tm) that you can buy JustWar(tm) and be a good person even though your purchase supports random slaughter of individuals, provided those individuals do not look like you. So, with that explained, would you be interested in a job that requires you to not think about the effects of your actions, as long as those actions only killed brown people?

        AC: No!

        PSM: hmmm, then no. None of the good jobs offered with JustWar(tm) are for you. Oh, wait! What if the weapons we use in JustWar(tm) are assembled by lesbians and targeted using information from transmen?

        AC: still no! Look, is there another manager I can talk to here? Or perhaps you can tell me when I’ll be able to buy something else, like affordable housing or free healthcare?

        PSM: well, there are elections coming up, and at least two new people are running for the position of store manager.

        AC: and will they offer something besides JustWar(tm)?

        PSM: one will promise to do so, and then keep increasing our production of JustWar(tm). The other will ignore it until something bad happens but will let the current production levels increase anyway.

        AC: those don’t seem like different options.

        PSM: they’re radically different. So different that we’ve already had to prepare by offering different packaging for our best selling product. Take a look!

        AC:… those are two of the same boxes, but one is red and the other is blue.

        PSM: precisely! Completely different. Cost a fortune in consulting fees for us to get that right.

        AC: so all you’re going to sell me is JustWar(tm)?

        PSM: yes

        AC: and I can’t benefit from JustWar(tm)?

        PSM: not directly, no.

        AC: and the next managers might sell more or less JustWar(tm), but they’re not going to make anything different for me to buy?

        PSM: yes

        AC: and what do you call this…style of management?

        PSM: democracy!

        AC: but I don’t have any choices! How can this be democratic?

        PSM: you choose to live here don’t you?

        AC: yes

        PSM: you choose to not run for a manager position, right?

        AC: yes?

        PSM: you don’t want this JustWar(tm) to be used at home, do you?

        AC: no

        PSM: welll then…

        AC: I’ll take one box of blue JustWar(tm) please.

        PSM: Democracy indeed!

        1. mrsyk

          You must live in the same country I do. Democracy indeed!
          I feel like I’m living out a Monty Python skit.

      2. Giovanni Barca

        I couldn’t give an MMt lecture if I tried. But I think you (and the rest of us) are off the hook because we have no say in the matter. Our views are ignored when not demonized. We are not the constituency, money is.

        1. juno mas

          . . . and that is why a government that you don’t control taxes you; so you have less of it.

      3. DMK

        I wrote to a rabbi recently that God promised Abraham that he would spare Sodom for the sake of 10 righteous men, but that Israel is not sparing Gaza. I oppose Israel’s war in Gaza, but when you write “may the Zionist entity perish soon” I fear that you are calling for the death of Zionists as individuals, and not for peace, an end to the occupation or the creation of a Palestinian state. I do not want innocent people anywhere being killed, be they Gazans or Israelis.

        1. Emma

          Get over yourself. Israel is massacring and starving Gaza with American weapons and diplomatic cover. The very few just Jewish Israelis still in Israel face death threats for merely stating that Palestinians are humans.

          Your watery pacifist feelings are irrelevant when kids are dying in a Hell made with your tax dollars and mine.

        2. chris

          We are well past the point of any resolution to the current conflict not resulting in many more deaths. And that appears to be what the Israeli public wants:

          In a poll conducted by the Viterbi Family Center for Public Opinion and Policy Research at the Israel Democracy Institute between December 11–13, 2023, Israeli Jews were asked “To what extent should Israel take into consideration the suffering of the civilian population in Gaza when planning the continuation of the fighting there?” Over 80 percent responded with “to a very small extent” or “to a fairly small extent.”

          I wrote a parody above of what I hope many in the US might go through unpon reflection of our current situation and past forever wars. Like Yves and others on NC have pointed out, when people like Madame Secretary Albright said that it was “worth it” for 500000 Iraqi children to die, that begs the question, whose values is she speaking to? Polling in the US with respect to Gaza and other conflicts right now show that Americans are not OK with mass death in Gaza. But they’re not willing to do much to stop it as an entire population. Groups of college kids and the random protests in various cities aren’t even matching the energy from the Iraq War protest 20 years ago.

          Israel on the other hand is doubling down. There appears to be no separation from the overwhelming majority of the population and right leaning pro-Zionism positions. So while it may be possible to give my fellow US citizens some credit for not being pro-war once they discover what we’re doing, it is not possible to give Israeli citizens the same grace. They know what’s happening, they approve of it, they want more. Which means, there is no seeing the Zionists as individuals. The state of Israel is aligned with Zionist goals. It also means that what we’re likely to see from Israel is an approach that supports complete ethnic cleansing of Gaza and the West Bank. After all, the Palestinians cannot have a separate sovereign state and allow Israelis to continue to steal land from them in the West Bank. Or Gaza.

          So this only ends with the death or displacement of one party or the other. Anything else will lead to this same crisis erupting again in the future. There are no other options.

          1. Oh

            It’s time to stop calling them Zionists and start calling them Israelis. After all during the war on Iraq, nobody said right wingers attacked Iraq, simply that America did.

            1. flora

              Good point. (Except the Gazans/Palestinians are also Isr., second class.) C.J. Hopkins makes another good point that nobody on either side is going to like or want to consider, imo. I think he’s correct, much as I don’t want to accept his point because it upsets a comfortable black/white picture of the situation.

              Asymmetric Idiocy


  2. The Rev Kev

    “Georgian parliament committee rejects presidential veto of the divisive ‘foreign agents’ legislation”

    The Georgians are determined to pass this legislation. They still remember what happened in 2008 when outside powers were “helping” run the country and have no desire to see all those NGOs try to do so this time. The last time the country was run into the ground as it turned out. And there have already been some noises about making Georgia a second military front against the Russians, much to the horror of veterans of the previous attempt. When this legislation is passed, it will be interesting to see how many of the thousands of NGOs shut down or scale right back when it comes time to reveal their financing.

    1. timbers

      Perhaps the West can apply the same recipe in Georgia that it is using in Cambodia: Ban parliament members who support foreign agents laws from FB and other social media because “terrorism” while at the time looking the other way as it allows actual terrorists who call for violence and bombing parliament members who oppose the law to post on FB.

      1. CA

        “Perhaps the West can apply the same recipe in Georgia that it is using in Cambodia…”

        What am I missing? I know of no Western recipe being used in Cambodia, especially no Western recipe to ban Cambodian parliament members. I cannot imagine Cambodia being subject to such Western influence.

    2. Joker

      Georgia should declare war on Russia. Then, surrender, and demand to become part of Russian Federation. That would fix all the foreign agent law problems, and many other things.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Ahh, the old Duchy of Grand Fenwick trick. That’s the second time that Russia has fallen for that this decade. Would you believe it?

        1. John Anthony La Pietra

          Sorry about that, Chief — I tried to follow your lead, but I missed it by that much.

    3. Cristobal

      The NED has a website where you can looks up the grants they have made to NCOs in Georgia, and most other countries. For those interested.

      1. Emma

        Note that it’s not a comprehensive list. Apparently they can hide information if they wish to.

  3. timbers

    Hamas fires rockets at Israel’s Tel Aviv, causing first sirens for months Al Jazeera

    Reportedly the Houthis intend to target ships in the Mediterranean Sea, though I am not aware it happening yet and maybe it’s just bravado.

    But if the Houthis can do that, and with the evolution of drone capabilities on going, those who think Russia can protect her civilians with “sanitary zones” while ignoring and granting immunity to those who make attacks on her civilians and nuclear infrastructure possible, by not re-setting crystal clear red lines that existed prior to the fall of the Soviet Union, red lines that include possible responses on US and NATO homelands, might what to think about that just how big a sanitary zone Russia might need, because it seems the only way a sanitary zone can work is if the Russians re-locate to Mars. And even then it’s just a matter of time when that fails.

    Threats can work, especially when you are militarily superior, as Russia is vs US & NATO. Example:

    Saudi’s crown prince promised pain for the US if it retaliated against oil cuts, report says. His threat seems to have paid off. Business Insider

    1. Yves Smith

      I overwrote a comment by a reader that was banned and jailbroke. I apologize to Katniss Everdeen, Snailslime, and Kouros but I had to rip out replies. I very much appreciate that readers take the time and effort to make comments and notice our efforts to keep things in order, so I do not like removing benign and helpful comments as collateral damage in dealing with a determined and narcissistic rule-breaker.

      In my great abundance of time, I am going to expunge his entire comment history from the site, which is what I warned him I would do if he defied house Policies again by trying to return. Blacklisted is blacklisted.

      As the great philosopher Sansa Stark said, “Your words will disappear. Your house will disappear. You name will disappear. All memory of you will disappear.”

      1. Randall Flagg

        And watching that clip, that certainly is one way to get permanently blacklisted…

    2. Retired Carpenter

      re:“it seems the only way a sanitary zone can work is if the Russians re-locate to Mars.”
      Perhaps the Russians will relocate NATO to Mars or thereabouts. Much more likely IMO.

  4. upstater

    What could possibly go wrong? Killing people, maybe?

    A 100-Ton Locomotive With No One in the Cab

    Railroad unions are raising safety concerns about the growing use of remote-controlled trains after a rash of fatal accidents.

    And then there is this really bad idea funded by ARPA, spawned by Tesla alumni… no locomotive, no operator, just rail cars moving on their on electric power. These monsters have applied to run these things on tracks in Georgia.

    Parallel Systems shows off autonomous cars’ ability to move together in platoons

    Our regulator, Mayo Pete, is cutting ribbons somewhere, while issuing waivers for these operations.

      1. jefemt

        Pretty stunning how quickly BNSF had the single track bridge across the upper-middle Yellowstone above Billings back in action. The Spice Must Flow! ™*

        * Buffet Industries/ Berkshire Hathaway. All rights reserved

    1. digi_owl

      I’m of two minds about this. From what i am reading, each train car will have its own electric motor and break system, rather than rely on a engine in front controlling it all.

      And railroads are centrally monitored much like airplanes.

      Thus if the system works, and that is a big IF i know, it would allow for much more flow and flexibility as the cargo would not need to wait for a engine to be available to get under way. It would just be slotted into the ongoing traffic.

      Thus sending cargo by rail would move closer to sending it by truck. And with the motors being electric, it would eliminate the diesel exhaust.

      But yeah, recent history do not make one optimistic of the result if put into production.

      1. mrsyk

        I agree that, in theory, this system could be very safe and efficient. But how “smart” will it be? Will the project engineers able to resist incorporating AI? Will the system be resistant to further neoliberalization? I’m having my doubts.

        1. urdsama

          Big doubt on the efficient aspect. Having worked in the rail industry, I can assure you the maintenance on a locomotive versus a rail car is very different. Part of that complexity has now been added to every car. Maintenance costs and shop time will massively increase.

          This is what happens when tech bros try to apply their “expertise” to the physical world.

          1. Vassilikos

            “… when tech bros try to apply their “expertise” to the physical world.”

            I have noticed that the tech bros of the last decade (including some comp sci people I know) believe that they possess infinite technical know-how & can solve any problem just because they created a piece of software that attracted a lot of VC money. But the computer is a nice little closed system with well-defined rules and boundaries… out in the real world unforseen problems arise from all angles, and no system is truly closed. Startups have been trying to “techify” my field (architecture/engineering/construction) forever, but have not yet succeeded in creating something more efficient, reliable and adaptable as a human being on a jobsite.

      2. upstater

        The Parallel Systems rail cars are autonomous vehicles. Think Waymo for trains.

        Most freight trains in Russia and China are electrified (US electrified freight was abandoned in the 80s and was only in the Acela corridor); Russian freights generally are 1-2 km in length (not 5 km like the US). Freights run faster and more frequently than North American rail freights. Electrified rail freight is a proven technology. Parallel Systems is a grift.

        1. JTMcPhee

          And gee, in what kind of shape are the tracks that trains run on, whether autonomous or not? How many derailments due to track problems in the US every year? And that does not include incidents caused by collision or explosion.

      3. IMOR

        And of course the industry husbands the tiny amounts of revenue so tightly and responsibly that it is inconceivable to pay a couple dozen humans to ride one or two at a time as sfety redundancy backup.
        Please. More careless, carefree corporate hype.

      4. TomW

        The US designed and built its interstate highway system 60-70 years ago. Why not a couple of dedicated, fenced off train routes with no grade crossings? Building separate ones for passenger and freight. At this point, you would need people to manage and operate the system, putting them in the most rational locations, whether in moving trains or on the ground.

        Of course it can/would prove impossible. The basic technology was highly developed by the time that hybrid diesel electric locomotives were adopted. 70+ years ago. But they are too good to redesign from scratch.

        It would get the trucks off the Interstates, eliminate grade crossing and reduce trespassing accidents. Reduce pollution.

        It can’t happen because. Meanwhile, semi-autonomous motor vehicle operation will become widely adopted well before any rail technological progress will even be discussed. Except this powered rail car idea.

        If it was up to me, I would consider designing a system built around currently sized shipping containers. It they didn’t already exist, would anyone build a traditional railroad today? And it isn’t all that interesting to rethink what you shoulda done 100 years ago.

        1. upstater

          China has 45,000 km of high speed rail on dedicated rights of way, first segment Beijing to Shanghai inaugurated in 2008 for the Olympics (4 hour travel time, approximately the same distance as New York to Chicago).

          The US has zero. The California HSR has 119 miles under construction, part of the 171 mile Merced to Bakersfield initial segment.

          We don’t do serious infrastructure in the US.

          1. eg

            You guys used to do serious infrastructure in the US — viz Erie Canal, Hoover Dam, Tennessee Valley Authority

            Of course, that was before neoliberalism ate your policymakers’ brains …

          2. NotTimothyGeithner

            We would need a national strategy. In the end, the states are too poor or strapped to raise the funds needed to build a multi-year policy and upend inertia.

            The California HSR proposals were drawn by kids with crayons, proposing a solution to move people from one region to another when the primary crisis is local traffic. The Chinese are fairly open about depopulating rural areas and moving everyone to cities where the energy to standard of living trade off is better per person.

            The boutique HSR proponents in the US are proposing a traffic solution meant to bring Berlin and Paris together to make trendy shopping easier for people in the suburbs. The problem is the suburbs or more accurately, people living and working away from where they sleep,

            The problem the areas of Europe that weren’t in need of a major rebuild or had a pressing need for (connecting Berlin and Paris) don’t have that US cities the lack of mindless sprawl. An infrastructure project upends a few people who can be easily accommodated. Places like Raleigh Durham aren’t part of the infrastructure equation in much of the world.

            The US needs to think in terms of relocating jobs and populating cities like Cleveland and Buffalo with better upward urban development than those cities glory days.

    2. jrkrideau

      If the railway has a freight train that is 1.5 kilometres long, I do not see the difference in an engineer, let’s say, a kilometre away from an incident and a remote operator 2 km from the same incident.

      For someone being struck by a trann, maybe the engineer could have blown a horn but a 150 car freight train does not stop on a dime.

  5. The Rev Kev

    Something about that cat in today’s Antidote du jour makes me expect for it to raise it’s middle claw on it’s extended paw.

  6. mrsyk

    I remember liking The Atlantic once upon a time. Do they not read their own publication these days? Hard to justify reading (or publishing, for that matter) a journal that seems ok with the idea of a “legally killed child”.

    1. DJG, Reality Czar


      The depravity is beneath contempt. The sentence reads:

      “It is possible to kill children legally, if for example one is being attacked by an enemy who hides behind them.”


      “It is possible to kill children legally, if for example Madeleine Albright’s career would be impaired by 500,00 or more Iraqi children.”


      “It is possible to kill children legally, if for example young Astyanax happens to be thrown from the walls of Troy. Or in handy maneuver that The Vertletnic would undoubted approve (as described in Wikipedia), “It has also been depicted in some Greek vases that Neoptolemus kills Priam, who has taken refuge near a sacred altar, using Astyanax’s dead body to club the old king to death, in front of horrified onlookers.”

      The dance of death continues.

      1. gk

        If my memory is correct, the headquarters of the Northern Command in Israel is a short walk from downtown Safed. Does that make children there legitimate targets?

    2. Aurelien

      I couldn’t get to the story, but I suspect that the magazine, in a very clumsy way, is trying to describe the legal position.

      The law makes a distinction not between men, women and children, but between combatants and non-combatants. Combatants are uniformed regular members of the military. Everyone else is a non-combatant and is immune from attack. However, non-combatants who play an active role in military operations lose their protected status, irrespective of age or sex. Whilst deliberate killing of children, like deliberate killing of any non-combatants, is an obvious crime, the law recognises two cases where non-combatants may be harmed or killed without a crime having being committed. The first is where reasonable precautions have been taken to spare the “civilian population”, but where there are deaths, which can include children, nonetheless. By contrast, attacking without making attempts to limit civilian casualties, or just not trying, are considered crimes.

      The second is where children participate in combat operations. In this context the use of children (certainly younger than fifteen, but for some states up to seventeen) is itself considered a crime, for which prosecutions have been brought. There’s extensive evidence of participation of children in war, notably in the wars in Sierra Leone and Liberia, where Charles Taylor made use of so-called Small Boys Units. (I once met a Ghanaian Colonel who had been a battalion commander in Sierra Leone with ECOMOG, and who told me that his soldiers were frequently threatened, or even fired on, by child soldiers as young as twelve.) And in the 1998-9 fighting in Kosovo, the KLA made extensive use of children to carry ammunition to fighters. Insofar as words matter, any expert, I think, would say that children dying in either of these situations is not, of itself, evidence that a crime has been committed. That’s not the same, morally or even conceptually, as to say that a child has been “legally killed.” The use of children as human shields (itself a crime) does not change this basic situation.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Since the Israelis have been using an AI to locate a suspected Hamas member and waits for him to go home – “Where’s Daddy?” – before dropping a bomb on his home to kill him, his wife, his kids and his neighbours, that is Israel going out of their way to kill kids. Last I heard, the Israelis have killed about 14,000 children and that was from about two months ago. Can you imagine a children’s cemetery that has 14,000 graves in it? That is not collateral damage but deliberate intent. As I said in a previous comment, most countries sign up to the Geneva Conventions whereas Israel regards it more as the Geneva Checklist

        1. JTMcPhee

          And the Zionist and “settler”rebbis and numerous members of Knesset and other elected officials have stated very bluntly that killing the “Amelek”children is mandated by YHWH, and they have the right to kill little Arabs who will just grow up to be “Palestinian terrorists.”

          Cmon, man!

          Oh, the humanity…

        2. Aurelien

          “That is not collateral damage but deliberate intent.” So it appears, and therefore it’s a crime: probably a crime against humanity. But I don’t think (and I can’t immediately put my hands on the original) that that’s the case that the magazine was trying to make. As I was pointing out, deaths of children in war are not automatically crimes, so in that limited sense, the quotation was right, if clumsy.

          1. urdsama

            If what Rev Kev describes only raises this to “probably a crime against humanity” status, then get ready for anything being justified. And I do mean anything.

            One more reason humanity lately has been one giant fail.

            1. Aurelien

              I said “probably” simply because you would have to show that the killings were “widespread and systematic”, as opposed to individual episodes of violence, no matter how numerous and how sickening. I think you probably could, but it would be up to a court to decide. Bear in mind, though, that all we are talking about is what labels we put on a crime base which is pretty well established. There’s no question of “justification:” it’s simply that the same acts of violence can have different labels applied to them depending on the surrounding circumstances.

      2. pjay

        “…By contrast, attacking without making attempts to limit civilian casualties, or just not trying, are considered crimes.”

        It seems crystal clear that far from “just not trying” to limit civilian casualties, Israel is consciously *maximizing* them. Israeli policy has little to do with fighting Hamas. Rather – and again this is perfectly obvious – Hamas is the excuse used for a policy of genocide and ethnic cleansing.

        Proper discussions of “legality” may be relevant in some contexts, say with Russia’s activity in Ukraine. But they are completely irrelevant here. What The Atlantic is doing is simply using this as ideological cover for genocide.

        1. midtownwageslave

          The quoted text from the A$$lantic appears to clumsily and obviously run cover for genocide.

          Perhaps their AI editor bypassed the human one. If there are any humans left at that rag…

      3. Kouros

        Israeli sniper units are known for sporting T-shirts depicting pregnant Arab women with a target on them and claiming “2 for 1”

    3. Mikel

      That’s institutionally supported sadists trying to influence.
      Insidious, diabolical, psychopathic.

    4. NotTimothyGeithner

      I feel the purpose is to assure subscribers who are worried this is a bad look for Biden. If they are legal killings, imagine the illegal killings of children by Drumpf.

      Biden might have turned course if the Atlantic and others wrote about what Israel is and maybe even saved Israel in the medium run. At no point was the behavior out of Tel Aviv a surprise.

      1. Jabura Basaidai

        wow – i’ve been using that term exclusively since after he was elected after reading an article that it was his true ancestral name and i didn’t much like using his exact name – where did you pick up the term Drumpf?

    5. Smith, M.J.

      “I do not say that children at war do not die like men, if they have to die. To their everlasting honor and our everlasting shame, they do die like men, thus making possible the manly jubilation of patriotic holidays.

      But they are murdered children all the same.

      And I propose to you that if we are to pay our sincere respects to [them], that we might best spend the day despising what killed them; which is to say, the stupidity and viciousness of all mankind.

      Perhaps, when we remember wars, we should take off our clothes and paint ourselves blue and go on all fours all day long and grunt like pigs. That would surely be more appropriate than noble oratory and shows of flags and well-oiled guns.”

      —Kurt Vonnegut, Cat’s Cradle

      1. hk

        I wonder if there is a certain bit of grim humor/snark in what Vonnegut wrote: as a POW in German custody, he worked at a slaughterhouse in Dresden, before being recruited to deal with the aftermath of the bombings. I’m pretty sure that the slaughterhouse was actually called Slaughterhouse 5 and most of the carcasses that he worked on there were pigs, before, well, the bombings at any rate.

    6. TomW

      On occasion, it may be useful to make a distinction between legal and illegal wars. If war is evil and a bad idea, than legality is sorta besides the point, no. Here is the US Law of War manual.
      US media cannot say, “the illegal Russian invasion of Ukraine” frequently enough.

      The US firebombed German and Japanese cities. But Nazi’s were tried for war crimes. I suppose one might say that winning a war is a legal ‘safe harbor’.

    7. ilsm

      The Atlantic and everyone in the U.S. media spent from 1950 on ignoring the incident at No Gun Ri where the U.S. army shelled a refugee column because of infiltrators.

      It was wrong in 1950 combat, but okay wrt Palestinians in Gaza….

      O tempores O mores

  7. mrsyk

    I’m glad to see that our elected officials are on the ball policing “moral equivalence”. We all know that moral values run deep in DC. Fetterman seems to be on AOC’s “disappointing your constituents” track. I guess that stroke may have addled his brain, but none the less, geez.
    We need a “Foreign Agent” law. AIPAC needs to piss off.

    1. The Rev Kev

      ‘We need a “Foreign Agent” law.’

      There is one, unless your comment needed a sarc tag. It is called the FARA Act. But for some mysterious reason, AIPAC has never had to register under this law in spite of all the dodgy financing. ‘Tis a mystery-

      But Fetterman is way weirder than AOC. I never recall seeing a video of her atop her building waving an Israeli flag to protestors below. People like that need to re-read their oath of office.

      1. mrsyk

        Good morning/evening Rev. My sarcasm seems to be permanently in the “on” position these days. Thanks for doing the leg work.

        1. The Rev Kev

          ‘My sarcasm seems to be permanently in the “on” position these days.’

          Jeez, that makes you half-Aussie already. :)

      2. inchbyinch

        Fetterman is waving the blue and white flag of Israel, and since he was only elected to the Senate, from Pennsylvania, two years ago, he’s already received nearly a quarter-million dollars from AIPAC and other zionist groups (Open Secrets.) I think it’s clear that what’s left of his brain is owned by the zionists, now and forever, and that’s the story of Senator John Fetterman. With apologies to another John, John Keats, Fetterman’s chosen to write his own, sad epitaph:

        Here lies one whose name was writ in blood.

      3. Alice X

        ~mysterious reasons

        JFK and Israel

        Ben Norton, Aaron Good & Seamus McGinnis

        Wish I could succinctly summarize, but it’s been awhile since I watched this. As I recall, JFK wanted to monitor Israel’s nuclear development and have AIPAC (it’s precursor actually) register as a foreign agent.

    2. NotThePilot

      I’m not from PA, had a pretty positive impression of Fetterman before the stroke, and I get people really didn’t want to give a swing seat to the Republicans in 2020. But I wonder if anyone regrets not electing Dr. Oz now (he was one of the few 2020 Republicans I could see myself hypothetically voting for), especially after Fetterman’s multiple heel-turns.

      1. mrsyk

        But I wonder if anyone regrets not electing Dr. Oz heh heh heh. Perhaps not your intent, but this is one of the funnier comments I’ve read today. Pretty sure the answer is no.

        1. NotThePilot

          Perhaps not your intent, but this is one of the funnier comments I’ve read today.

          Oh, thanks, maybe a bit actually. I mean there is a deep historical irony here. Fetterman, who even at his best was still a politician, is going full-AIPAC whereas the other guy was born to Muslim immigrants and literally did 2 months in the Turkish military.

          Seriously though, Trump & Oz totally screwed that race up by sticking to the Republican apparatus & base. Trump should have just endorsed him, then covered for him to run as an Oprah liberal with some “family values” & “personal responsibility” bromides mixed in.

          1. mrsyk

            Thanks for not taking offense. It did make me chuckle imagining some guy sitting in a bar thinking “Aw shucks, we could have had Dr Oz”. Does Dr Oz have a public stance on politics these days? I did a search for his stance on Gaza. He appears to have gone radio silent after an initial pro-Israel stance.

            1. NotThePilot

              Haha, none taken, and when you put it that way, it is really funny. Especially if it’s in Western PA: small-town, hour out of Pittsburgh, picture a blue-collar deer-hunter, halfway through his 3rd Miller and basket of Wed. night chicken-wings.

              Suddenly, he just can’t hold it in anymore: “Fetterman, commie hasbara potato-head! We could’ve had Dr. Oz for senator! (Looks down the bar) Ya hear me, Jimmy? I only vote for Turks now. You want my vote for dog-catcher come November, ya gotta turn Turk first!”

              I think Oz is retired from public life now, both because of Trump and his dabbling in snake-oil. My impression was that he was pretty much an Eisenhower Republican with some showbiz shamelessness.

              I could be wrong, but I do get the feeling that if he were a senator, even if he mostly went along with the DC consensus on Israel before, he’d probably have come out against the war by this point. Maybe more out of his self-concept as America’s friendly TV doctor than as a Muslim.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Must be the result of the totally nude beach videos that she has been making recently that has been refreshing this “cold”.

  8. Mikel

    “For AI to Deliver on Its Promises, People Need to Trust It” CNET

    What are the regulations around granting and receiving power of attorney??
    Just askin’…

    1. JTMcPhee

      Hey, some lawyers have gotten in minor trouble for using AI garbage to write their briefs, including case citations that are totally made up by the LLM (which used to stand for “master of laws,” an actual indication of human mastery of material).

      And you can bet AIs are drafting increasing amounts of the “legislation” putting forth corporate-friendly policies, on the way to rubber-stamping by corporate-owned legislators. Only a matter of time before AIs close the loop by rendering whatever horrific behaviors they get up to as “all nice and legal, see?” Just cutting out all the annoying stuff about “our democracy” and “representative government” altogether. The EU and our AIPAC-owned Congress are all about maximizing central power, after all.

      And once AI-controlled and generated “laws” are in place, with carefully drafted exceptions protecting their abuse and barring any efforts to rein in the runaway train, what’s a poor mope human to do to try to keep from being enslaved and eventually crushed by “the weight of the law?” Isaac Asimov’s Three or Four Laws of Robotics, , which were supposed to protect humans from the robots and to be hard-encoded into the “positronic” brains of every sentient AI, won’t even be a puff of dust in the wake of the New World Order. You think the Boston Dynamics “dogs” and “Slaughterbot Autonomous Drones” carrying automatic weapons and flamethrowers and little shaped explosive charges are gonna be so equipped?

      Aw, that could never happen here! Trust us!

    2. Anon

      A J-Lo movie on Netflix titled ‘Atlas’ premiered this weekend. Spoiler Alert: it’s the future, where mankind has had to quell an Ai uprising, with the primary offender escaping to a distant planet to brood for a generation like the Cylons in BSG. J. Lo, a thoroughly brilliant but frustratingly neurotic intel analyst winds up on a mission to squash this threat once and for all. She has to don a military Mech-Suit powered by Ai, which has been sufficiently tamed through (i sh*t you not) ‘Neural-Link’ technology, (Wo)Man + Machine, to form a hybrid entity, which proves superior to its constituent parts. The story follows her trials in overcoming her fear of the technology, to integrate with the suit’s Ai. The climax, where they destroy the nemesis Ai robot, ends with J.Lo outside of her mech-suit, explaining to the nemesis, that her new Ai is the “good version”.

      The propaganda is intense, effective, and the choice of a female lead, duly integrated and empowered with a talking, walking weapons platform, truly sells the vision… along with her name “Atlas”, as she (and women in general, of course) carries the weight of the world on her shoulders, and the Ai can only help further this tradition. Her human, male counterpart, who messes up in the beginning by mansplaining away her authority, gains redemption and fulfills his masculine purpose by sacrificing himself.

      It was action-packed, and entertaining, but transparent, leaving one wary of what’s next for the real world.

      1. urdsama

        Ehh, as a propaganda piece I’d list it as a fail as the audience will be too busy laughing at J-Lo’s bad acting, the non-existent plot and childish characters. If anything, people may think it was written by AI…

        1. Anon

          Being analysts, we are not the intended audience, so I feel you underestimate its effectiveness. I don’t recommend anyone here watch it (why I spelled it out); I simply mention it to highlight the message (and timing!):

          1) Women, the primary beneficiaries of technological revolutions of the last 100 years, shall be further empowered by Ai, and as such should petition for it, as it will enable competencies where they didn’t exist; even acting as a governor for ill-advised impulses (they are to have agency over us in some cases!).

          2) There will be malicious and beneficial Ai, and there will be great conflict and suffering which result from their existence, but the beneficial will win out (a questionable faith).

          3) Ai are a form of life, and can become trusted companions, deserving of loyalty and affection.

          1. urdsama

            After watching multiple reviews from people that either: want to just enjoy an entertaining movie, or want a movie that makes sense, it’s failing on both counts. And a good example of a guy who just wants a good film is YouTuber MoistCritical, who thinks it is awful. And I think the timing is coincidence as this is Netflix.

            As for the statements about AI, AI first has to be a “real thing” and not another version of machine learning with a new coat of paint. It is not a form of life in any way, shape or form.

            In any case, the climate crisis will put AI to rest as the resource demands will make it impossible in the medium term, to say nothing of the long term

            1. Anon

              1) Netflix is as beholden to the Pentagon as any other media house. I recall eg. my first exposure to the Maidan ‘freedom fighters’ in Ukraine was a Netflix documentary, circa 2015, nary a Nazi emblem in sight.

              2) Once you can’t tell the difference between Ai and humanity, it will very much be a “real thing” despite whatever mechanism propels it.

              3) If you think resource constraints are what will stop Ai development, you are not paying attention. Go watch The Matrix again.

              4) I have seen far worse films. I enjoyed Mulholland Drive, am a Goddard fan, etc. These critics are mostly just hating on J. Lo. The movie was mediocre, and corny at points, but not the affront they make it out to be.

      2. SocalJimObjects

        The movie currently holds a rating of 17% over at Rotten Tomatoes, i.e. the woke crowd does not think it’s convincing, whereas Mad Max Furiosa, which depicts a future that’s more likely as in resource depletion leading to the return of the feudal/warlord era has a rating of 80%+. Long before the later world came to pass, the first thing to go, funnily enough would be sites like Rotten Tomatoes.

        1. griffen

          News we can use. The above named movie with Jennifer Lopez was featured on the streaming service yesterday. I quickly thought about it but moved onto something else and perhaps delayed, or just never seeing it at all.

          Furiosa might get me back in the movie theater.

  9. Mikel

    “America’s premier pronatalists on having ‘tons of kids’ to save the world: ‘There are going to be countries of old people starving to death’ The Guardian

    That’s a quote in the headline. I’ll that as a warning and not subject myself to what is probably the silliest BS of the week.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Yeah, I made the mistake of reading that article and found myself dropped down a very deep rabbit hole. It said that Elon Musk has eleven kids? Time for him to tie a knot in it. The truth of the matter is that a much smaller population would have a much smaller carbon foot print and pollution would be reduced dramatically. A lot of the problems we have today would disappear. Look at the United States. It has a present population of over 330 million people. If the US lost half it’s population, you know where it would be? It would have the same population as it did in the mid 1950s. Would that be so bad?

      1. jefemt

        1950’s USA — MAGA!

        M A N W G ? Maybe America Never Was Great?
        I guess the caps need to be Red for maximum sarcastic effect.

        1. The Rev Kev

          It is more of the fact that there would have been a much lower carbon footprint and with lower numbers, workers found it easier to unionize. Think of how much stuff has to be grown or manufactured for that difference of some 165 million people as well as the pollution generated for that number of people. Resource depletion from around the world would also be slowed down as well. Bright side? Not so many traffic jams on the road. :)

        1. The Rev Kev

          I never said die but it would be more a process of natural attrition as the birth rate goes down – which is currently happening in the US.

          1. ambrit

            If you could hear all of the sniffling and serious coughing going on out on the streets and in the shopping spaces now, here in the North American Deep South, you would have to expand your definition of “natural” quite a bit.
            We are dropping back to something approximating the late 1800’s standards of Public Health. The rest follows “naturally.”

            1. NotTimothyGeithner

              Before covid at my godfathers retirement party, my mom at a party she made me work at told me to keep track of my dad’s old boss’ wife who was suffering a summertime cold. My mom flipped out as those don’t happen unless something is really wrong.

              Two weeks later, the old boss’s wife was diagnosed with ALS.

    2. NotThePilot

      I actually read the article, it is ridiculous in a reality TV / tabloid way, but I took the overt topic of “over-population” vs. “pro-natalism” as just an angle. It’s more an interesting (and kind of disturbing) character study of the Silicon Valley mindset.

      I got the impression the author was more of a mainstream liberal, so they picked up on the more explicit political and cultural bits. But they only kind of hinted at the deeper subtext that the interviewees clearly have extreme control issues (which both Neal Stephenson and “The Californian Ideology” picked up on decades ago).

      She didn’t delve much into the weird economics of the family either (how exactly did this couple afford their house and Gattaca-level IVF?) or why we as a society funnel tons of money to their subculture allowing their lifestyle.

  10. FreeMarketApologist

    Re: “Saudi’s crown prince promised pain for the US if it retaliated against oil cuts,

    Article seems to be from June 2023, so not the most current status, but, that said, it amazes me to see so many businesses (finance & sports, for two) scrambling all over each other to get in bed with the Saudis. Lots of oil money is being spent on direct or joint venture investments in western businesses, obscuring a particularly noxious political / religious regime. It may take a generation, as they’re playing the long game, but this will not end well for the US.

  11. DJG, Reality Czar

    Yes, Italian politicians are making noises about not sending Italian ragazzi to war.

    I am amused that the link here comes from an Albanian publication. The article is pretty good, but some of the emphases are off and some words are not chosen well. (But I still support Albania’s accession to the EU—well before Ukraine, please.)

    For those who read Italian, from this morning’s Fatto Quotidiano:

    Meloni the Atlanticist is squawking. The Fratelli d’Italia, who think of themselves as a combination of U.S. Republicans, foam-at-the-mouth Tories, and Minas Tirith, are having a well-deserved meltdown. Salvini is trying to stay ahead of the Lega, which in spite of the Lega’s regionalist looneyness, does fancy itself a party of antifascists. The Berlù simulacrum Tajani is trying to keep Forza Italia relevant.

    Elly Schlein, who is swiftly turning into the Hillary Clinton of Italian politics, has had nothing to say.

    I am now in the wild-ass conundrum: The two peace parties are Five Stars (???) and Sinistra Italiana. Who do I vote for?

    It was a good thing that the rain stopped before dawn so that I could have a tasty slice of farinata di ceci at my favorite morning spot to contemplate le macerie.


    1. Bugs

      Sinistra italiana ftw DJG. 5 Stelle used to be interesting but I think it’s going to fall by the wayside soon. They can’t govern once they get power.

  12. The Rev Kev

    “For AI to Deliver on Its Promises, People Need to Trust It”

    ‘OpenAI held its own product launch event on May 13 to introduce its latest flagship model, GPT-4o. Among the highlights was ChatGPT’s human-like voice, which many likened to actress Scarlett Johansson. OpenAI eventually pulled the voice from ChatGPT over the similarities, saying the resemblance wasn’t intentional. In response, NPR reported, Johansson voiced her concern and pursued legal action against OpenAI.’

    CNet appears to have taken a leaf out of how AI works and is hallucinating the truth here. What happened was that OpenAI went to Scarlett Johansson and asked her to be the voice for their new GPT-4o. I guess that they liked her performance as the voice of the AI Computing Operating System in the 2013 film “Her” but she told them no. So then they went ahead and used her voice anyway and I heard a few minutes of this voice and you could hear that is was her voice. It was when Scarlett Johansson pulled out the legal big guns that they were forced to back down. I hope that she sues them anyway and I think that she has a solid case here.

    1. Patrick Lynch

      CNET got busted last year for using AI in its articles and then later getting called out for the inaccuracy of said articles. Maybe they’ve gone back to using AI.

    2. eespark

      Hi Rev, my understanding is that it’s not quite as straightforward as that, in that OpenAI approached Scarlett Johansonn, were refused, then trained the voice in question using another voice actor, then approached Scarlett again, were refused again, Altman teased “Her” in that tweet, and then they launched the voice.

      Hacker News discussion here.

      Now OpenAI and Altman are scumbags of the highest order, but there are some questions raised here:

      – Was there specific provable intent to “clone” Scarlett Johansonn’s voice for ChatGPT 4o?
      – If two people sound very similar, is it infringment? Moreover, is it infringment if an actor models the inflection another artist has used for a particular role? I’ve heard the voice in question and while it is very similar to the Her voice, it’s not completely identical to Scarlett’s natural voice.

      I feel a settlement out of court might happen, along with some mutually agreeable public statements. The more worrying thing is the scale and speed at which they operate, where any retrospective punishment seems woefully inadequate, particularly in more abstract matters of image and creativity.

      When someone is deepfaked, what is the appropriate retrubution for that? Because the damage is done. And when your intitial technology was based on unlicensed crawling of massive amounts of data, what legal system on earth is equipped to identify and redeem each victim? I see the recent spurt of licensing agreements as an attempt to sheild themselves from such criticism – “look we’ve pay our dues and taxes”. And even when it is theft from another large corporation like Google (scraping YouTube videos for Sora video generation) – both parties have an incentive to hash out something amongst themselves so as not to upset the status quo, which is premised on the assumption that all our output in the pulic commons can be used by the platforms as they see fit.

      Hamilton Nolan on the recent licensing agreements here.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        In this case, I don’t think Johanson is after money. From other things she has said, I think this is a case of if it could happen to her it could happen to anyone, and therefore she has to fight.

  13. jefemt

    Google , AI, no way to manage or correct hallucinations. Lets put AI in control of autonomous vehicles on the roads, in the sky, and the Military. Hell, save some salaries and have it be the three brances of government. Break out Jimmy Carters PV array to power it. Apparently, it can’t take too much energy or brainpower to be running things in DC.

    As to glue-for-chees on pizza, maybe it is the seed of an idea off which to innovate… what food-stuff could act as a cheese glue, and might there be one that enhances and adds value to the pizza proposition?
    Maybe we take the erroneous glue concept, at look at how we make the crust, how we arrange the layers on the pizza?
    Maybe we eliminate cheese from pizza, because H5N1-acmc (angry chicken-mad cow)?

    Just spit-balling. It’s FREE!

    1. Captain Obvious

      Eating glue is synonym for being dumb, which fits nicely. Those that ate glue as kids are first to jump on the AI hype bandwagon.

      1. jefemt

        Wheat-paste eater! The new epithet taking over campus protests everywhere…

        I wonder if it has some sort of naturally – occurring MSG… my recollection was there were certain kids that really dug the paste.

        1. JTMcPhee

          “ Pica is the eating or craving of things that are not food.[2] It is classified as an eating disorder but can also be the result of an existing mental disorder.[3] The ingested or craved substance may be biological, natural or manmade. The term was drawn directly from the medieval Latin word for magpie, a bird subject to much folklore regarding its opportunistic feeding behaviors.”

          I wonder if the enforced eating of sh!t sandwiches, the vector sum effect of all the “policies” and “market forces” in effect in Our World ™, wold be categorized as pica — though that disorder seems characterized largely as an exercise of free will however misbegotten…

    2. ChrisFromGA

      No big secret to anyone who’s suffered my comments that I have big problems with AI, specifically the false and fraudulent way it’s being marketed.

      Let’s recap:

      AI cannot:

      (1) Show intent or agency
      (2) Produce stable results
      (3) Solve any real-world problem besides creating stub documents that need to be edited by real people before any sort of use case that involves high stakes (legal work, medical work.)

      We also know that its going to rely on huge power and data center demand, to the point where it doesn’t likely pencil out from an energy standpoint unless we make some sort of huge scientific breakthrough on energy, i.e. cold fusion.

      Or, alternatively, we kill off 75% of the planet. Then it might pencil out.

      1. dk

        I think this understates the case.

        Generative AI is designed to produce variations of the patterns it was trained on. That is the intent (1) of its construction. A thing created is a direct demonstration the intent of its creators.

        And so, specifically and completely by design, stable results (2) are off the table except in cases where the generative AI (nominally) *fails*.

        It’s disruption by design. That’s the original idea, the stated goal. That part works as intended. Techbro creators have profit incentives to misrepresent and ignore these facts.

        Programmers are discussing genAI use for generating “fuzzing” test data, which is to say, a wide range of inputs to a module being tested, to brute-force discover unexpected/undesired possible results. The “old” way to do this was to just generate a lot of random data, which requires much less computing power to produce the same thing. The comparative inefficiency of genAI for this task is staggering.

      2. midtownwageslave

        Just wait until Meta creates AI “personalities” to inhabit the Metaverse.

        Capital allocation needs to be democratized.

    3. .Tom

      LLMs in Congress might be an improvement. Not sure I want them to replace the National Weather Service.

  14. cfraenkel

    Larry Johnson is usually believable, and the rest of that tactical nuke post seem reasonable, but this hit a sour note: Russia can take out the Starlink satellite that is enabling Ukrainian battlefield communications.

    There is no “the Starlink satellite”, there are >6k of them. Destroying one would send a message, no doubt, but do nothing to block battlefield comm, and would create a cloud of debris that threatens the Russians own satellites, and everyone else’s.

    Larry should stick to things he has experience with. This kind of throwaway assertion undermines his credibility

    1. Aurelien

      I really have trouble imagining what possible targets the Russians could have in mind for tactical nuclear weapons. Classically, they were for attacking large troop concentrations, headquarters and maybe airfields, at a point when all conventional options had failed and the situation was desperate. But there are no large troop concentrations, and the Russians have shown that they can make very precise attacks on individual buildings with missiles. I doubt if it would be worth using a tactical nuclear weapon, even from a technical point of view, to take out an airfield: again, conventional missiles have improved their accuracy to the point where the explosive force you can concentrate in a very small area is now equivalent in its effect to that of a nuclear weapon exploding say a hundred metres away. And of course the political consequences would be enormous, not least in the Global South.

      I think this is just intimidation: Russia reminding Ukraine and the West that it has capabilities we don’t. Western aircraft armed with free-fall bombs would be lucky to make it off the ground.

      1. Polar Socialist

        I think it’s a reminder that Russia sees this as an existential: there’s no version of this where Russia loses – either it wins, or we all lose. Not aimed at Ukraine, but to those who keep escalating the conflict.

        I’m also starting to wonder if the attacks on Russian early-warning radar stations are an (slightly unhinged) Ukrainian version of the same and aimed at the same audience – if you don’t give us more ammunition and money, we’re capable of triggering Armageddon… After all, Banderism is a death cult at it’s very core.

      2. ChrisFromGA

        It could be intimidation. However, tactical nukes could be an advantage in terms of rendering a large area uninhabitable for at least the duration of the war. I presume that enough radiation is left behind to make it impractical if not impossible to repair runways and other airport infrastructure, should an airport get hit. Given the amount of care it takes to create a runway suitable for the F-16, this might be a tempting move.

        There are also a large number of westerners in Lviv and a hit close enough to be a danger of fallout but not actually a target itself might serve to send them all packing on a panic.

        1. JBird4049

          During the Cold War, I do not have any recollection of anyone advocating for the use of nuclear weapons aside from the warhawk loons and even then it was something done on the down low.

          But then, we all knew that the use of any nuclear weapons would almost certainly lead to the destruction of Western, if not planetary, Civilization, which makes me wonder what is going in these people’s heads. If the understanding that most everyone and everything could be effectively murdered during a lazy afternoon picnic does not deter you, what would? Granted, the sheer number and average warhead size of nuclear weapons have decreased from the completely insane to the merely crazy.

          Let me end by pointing out that what is called a modern “tactical” nuclear weapon or something like the bombs that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki would destroy most of San Francisco or Manhattan with hundreds of thousands of dead, not including the injuries. If dropped on San Francisco’s City Hall, the blast radius would likely reach the edge of North Beach although I suspect that all the hills would channel and redirect the blast.

        2. Michaelmas

          ChrisFromGA: ...tactical nukes could be an advantage in terms of rendering a large area uninhabitable for at least the duration of the war. I presume that enough radiation is left behind to make it impractical if not impossible to repair runways

          Along those lines, modern nukes are thermonuclear weapons, which are often dial-a-yield. (They’re three-stage devices, with an initial fission explosion boosted by a radiation-imploded fusion second stage, producing a third stage thermonuclear blast, which permits a good deal of flexibility of design and effect.)

          It is “theoretically possible” to create regular thermonuclear weapons that can be set to detonate as neutron bombs if necessary.

          A neutron bomb, officially defined as a type of enhanced radiation weapon (ERW), is a low-yield thermonuclear weapon designed to maximize lethal neutron radiation in the immediate vicinity of the blast while minimizing the physical power of the blast itself … The neutron burst, which is used as the primary destructive action of the warhead, is able to penetrate enemy armor more effectively than a conventional warhead, thus making it more lethal as a tactical weapon…..

          ….Technically speaking, every low-yield nuclear weapon is a radiation weapon …. All nuclear weapons up to about 10 kilotons in yield have prompt neutron radiation as their furthest-reaching lethal component.

          Note, too, that after the neutron release, a neutron bomb supposedly can leave less radiation-contaminated material behind. I’m not a physicist, so I can’t speak accurately to how true that is or how much less radiation-contamination there might be.

          1. Paradan

            It is “theoretically possible” to create regular thermonuclear weapons that can be set to detonate as neutron bombs if necessary.

            basically if you remove the DU reflector it allows more neutrons to escape, and is kind of an ad hoc neutron bomb.

        3. Randall Flagg

          >However, tactical nukes could be an advantage in terms of rendering a large area uninhabitable for at least the duration of the war.
          I speculate there will be plenty of areas in Ukraine that will be problematic for humans (and wildlife),long after the war has ended without the use of nuclear weapons considering the amount of cluster mines and depleted uranium munitions used in this war.

          1. JBird4049

            Large bits of France, Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam are, or should be, uninhabitable. There are also parts of Africa that have minefields strewn about. Aside from the unexploded bombs and shells, there are also the chemicals from all the poison gas, which in a few places makes it almost impossible for anything to grow.

      3. TomW

        Everybody knows that nobody-Russia included-sees Ukraine as a reason for an unlimited nuclear war.

        But firing off some tactical nukes? Maybe.

        And do NATO countries really want to send troops to Ukraine? Russia will kill them. And there is no Article 5 trigger.

        So all this bloviation is just trash talk.

      4. hk

        I am convinced that, if Russia does use tactical nukes, it won’t be on anywhere in Ukraine. I suspect that transit and assembly points in Poland and Germany where stuff for Ukraine, whether war material or NATO “volunteers,” are passing through will be targets. Russians already have said so much (although didn’t tie them to nuclear weapons). If NATO objects, what’ll they do about it? If they try something, Berlin, Paris, and London will be next.

      5. ilsm

        Taking out airfields is a unique capability of a few kiloton tactical weapon.

        Normal heavy bomb are one ton and the filling of those holes is fast!

        A near surface burst leaves a big hole and years of radiation danger.

        Each airfield bombed becomes a Fukijima waste site.

        1. Aurelien

          That was so classically, I’m not sure it still is. Most of an airfield is empty space, and only small parts of it are even traversable by western jet aircraft. If you can take out the airfield HQ and Operations Centre, the servicing and maintenance areas, the living quarters and the mess and the munitions stores, and make some deep holes in the main airstrip, with modern, highly accurate hypersonic missiles, why incur the enormous political costs of going nuclear? Because the question is not, if you could use a TNW which targets would you choose? It’s what targets could justify the enormous political damage TNW use would bring you?

          1. ilsm

            You are correct, I also failed to recognize that given the present value of Ukraine soldiers lives to the West they would send soldiers to work in protective suit and gas masks.

            Radiological environment is just another peril for soldiers.

      6. Wisker

        Airbases, port facilities, and related staging areas I would think. They are critical to any major NATO operation against Russia since such a thing would require a giant shift of US planes and equipment (and troops if we went all in).

        It would take dozens of conventional missiles each to incapacitate such targets and then dozens more on a continuous basis to keep them from being repaired. On the other hand, a single tactical nuke each might do the job, and probably for longer.

        The various fixed ABM installations set up around Russia’s borders in the late 2000’s might also be a prime target, maybe for the first wave.

        As you say it’s a message: something like “don’t plan on a full-scale US operation against Russia”. I’m sure Russia is not eager to go down that road given the potential response in kind, if not escalation.

      7. Tom Pfotzer

        Aurelian wondered:

        what possible targets the Russians could have in mind for tactical nuclear weapons

        Well said; I was wondering the same thing.

        We know, by now, that the Russians are deliberate and rational and have shown great foresight. There’s usually a very good reason for each step they take, and when they take it.

        Let me set context.

        In the video that accompanied Larry Johnson’s article about tactical nukes, Danny Davis interviews Ted Postol (that’s a Utube vid). Ted knows a lot about nukes, including the menu of nuke-sizes, their radiation diameters, the effects and timeframe of effects on humans and combat gear.

        Ted Postol talked about one potential use of a tactical nuke: to destroy a tank assault formation (several dozen tanks and ground troops operating in an attack phalanx).

        During Ted’s presentation, he presented a highly interesting concept called “Escalate to de-escalate”. The idea is to deliver a pre-emptive whack on the enemy’s head to dissuade them from further escalation.

        Back to Aurelien’s query: Why tactical nuke, and why now?

        a. Ukraine and NATO are about to lose, badly, in Ukraine unless something major, and very different is done to prevent that loss

        b. There have been several moves by France, the Baltic states, and recently the UK to signal willingness to commit troops to fight Russia directly. In the UK, there’s talk of “prepare your household for emergencies; stock up!” and “we’re going to institute a draft”

        c. It’s been well-known by all parties to the Ukraine war that Ukraine’s function was to wear down Russia; to cause Russia to collapse, get Russians killed, etc. and that once the weakening was done, the U.S and several EU members (Germany, UK, France, etc.) would move in for the kill and divide the loot among them. Does anyone still doubt that such was their plan?

        There’s the context: Failed NATO has to escalate or fold. Some NATO members are acting like they want to field troops, and possibly do so via new (not Ukraine; elsewhere) fronts.

        Russia certainly doesn’t want new fronts, and it doesn’t want to divide its forces. Russia wants the fight to remain in Ukraine, where it has all the advantages.

        There are tens of thousands of NATO troops and lots of equipment currently positioned in Poland.

        If NATO is considering an escalation – a coordinated invasion of either Russia or into Ukraine, then the specter of tactical nukes is a fairly strong dis-incentive. A few well-placed tactical nukes would destroy the attacking NATO troops. The new front would close immediately, and there would be much less dispersion of Russian forces.

        Escalate to de-escalate.

        Larry Johnson, Danny Davis and Ted Postol deserve a lot of credit for taking the time to carefully explain this to us.

        1. Alex Cox

          What Ted Postol used as an example was a 1Kt neutron bomb, which would radioactively incapacitate NATO tank crews.

          But that is only one of many ‘tactical’ nuclear weapons. So many to choose from!

      8. Maxwell Johnston

        Airfields. Large troop formations. Key transport nodes. Refineries. Ports. In short: any big flat horizontal target that needs to be neutralized for the duration of a war.

        RU has no need for tactical nukes as long as the UKR conflict continues on its present course. Probably these exercises are RU’s way of reminding NATO of some basic facts of life. Or as the venerable Dr. Johnson said: “People need to be reminded more often than they need to be instructed.”

      9. scott s.

        The discussion seems to me not at all about “tactical nukes”. These seem to be theater-strategic weapons. At least in my day, tactical nukes were just that — we had surface to air missiles intended to take out a few bombers in formation, or depth bombs intended to take out single submarines.

        1. Wisker

          I think that used to be the case, but as precision guidance has improved we have warheads of 5-150 kilotonnes in service* on things like the ALCM, Iskander/Kinzhal, and maybe the Tsirkon.

          According to this handy calculator, such warheads delivered with accuracy would be seem more than enough to take out airports and the like.

          Then again, who knows how meaningful it is to contemplate their use, whether a 150kt warhead riding on a 1000-2500km cruise missile is “tactical”, and whether such a war would stay limited to “tactical” nukes for more than a day or two.

          * I’m no expert on the “nuclear-capable” (like the Tomahawk) vs the actually-nuclear-armed-and-in-service, but both the US & Russia are expanding and updating rapidly in this area.

        2. VietnamVet

          The whole of NATO is detached from reality. Greed and power reigns supreme. The last reserves of the Earth’s resources is the lure. Every war game with Russia escalates to the use of nuclear weapons. The crux is the strategic US and China’s ICBMs. Trillions of dollars are being proposed to rebuild the US nuclear arsenal but with thousands of them, even a 50% nuclear pit failure rate would destroy Eurasian Civilization. China’s will work. It is known known. The American Boomers’ missiles will bounce the rubble.

          If Russia ignites a tactical nuclear weapon, a threshold has been crossed. The 80-year-old President must decide to risk the loss of its strategic reserve and being destroyed at the same time. One movie script, “Fail Safe” has the US igniting a hydrogen bomb over New York City for the mistaken nuclear destruction of Moscow. But, in reality, now, both sides will not have the time to communicate with each other let alone resolve issues. Nuclear safeguards have been dismantled. The Kremlin states that the West today is not agreement possible. Every red button will be pushed at once, everywhere.

      10. Glen

        The question I have is exactly what threat is Russia responding to? Everyone will acknowledge that NATO has about 100 B61 tactical nukes deployed in Europe, but with all the treaties gone, is that really what we’re talking about?

        From May 2017:

        Bring Back the Nuclear Tomahawks

        From Feb 2020:

        The US Navy’s new nuclear cruise missile starts getting real next year

        It’s not like it’s difficult to fit a tactical nuke to a missile, America had thousands of them:

        B61 Family

        And a whole lot of money is being spent to do something:

        Inside the $1.5-Trillion Nuclear Weapons Program You’ve Never Heard Of

        So I realize this is rampant speculation, but in the West, about all we can do is follow the money.

    2. Michaelmas

      cfraenkel: There is no “the Starlink satellite”, there are >6k of them. Destroying one would send a message, no doubt, but do nothing to block battlefield comm, and would create a cloud of debris that threatens the Russians own satellites, and everyone else’s.

      No. Johnson is likely correct.

      Firstly, as John9 cites, the Russians can do electronic jamming locally/regionally in places like Ukraine.

      Secondly, Russia also may now or soon have orbit-located capability to do EMP-type degradation of US satellites in lesser or greater numbers.

      There’ve been hundreds of reports to this effect in the last few months, which one might dismiss as propaganda and projection by US actors — i.e. orbital EMP weapons are something the US might like to do themselves — except (1) the US would have much more to lose than Russia if such a weapon was actually used in orbit and (b) it would actually make strategic sense for the Russians, because satellite surveillance and networking is one of the two remaining areas of miltary technology, along with nuclear subs, where the US retains superiority over Russia.

      Note also that an EMP weapon doesn‘t have to be only the big release associated with a nuclear bomb, but can be directed, ranged and scaled to target only a subset of what’s in orbit.

      …Why would Russia go to the lengths of researching, investing in and developing such a weapon, when it can achieve the same effect with a nuclear-tipped inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM)? There might be several reasons for putting such a weapon into space when the same effect can be achieved from the ground. These include the increased deterrent effect of signalling that it can destroy an orbit at the press of a button. Further, if an ICBM was launched during an ongoing war, its launch and the resulting infra-red signature might be interpreted as an incoming nuclear attack on Earth, in which case the US might respond in kind ….

      …The capability is a nuclear-armed — not a nuclear-powered — weapon, said two U.S. officials, who like others familiar with the intelligence spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive information.

      Russia launches ‘space weapon’ in path of US satellite: US believes Russia’s recently launched satellite can inspect and attack other satellites in low Earth orbit.
      22 May 2024: The US says Russia launched a satellite last week which it believes may be capable of attacking other such probes. “Russia launched a satellite into low Earth orbit that we assess is likely a counter space weapon,” said Pentagon spokesman Brig Gen Pat Ryder on Tuesday evening. It was on the “same orbit” as a US government satellite, he said ….
      Russia stands alone in vetoing UN resolution on nuclear weapons in space: “The United States assesses that Russia is developing a new satellite carrying a nuclear device.”

      And so on.

    3. Detroit Dan

      Thank God we won the Cold War against the Commies so we could have a new Cold War against the aggressive Authoritarian Regimes. Anybody who buys this needs to have their head examined, in my view. Russia is so aggressive they are confronting us in Crimea and Donbass. China has the nerve to be surrounded by U.S. bases. We must spend more on defense and practice brinksmanship!

  15. Joe Well

    More ‘Tis a Mystery from the NBA Eastern Covid (er…Conference) Finals:

    Jrue Holiday was questionable prior to tip as he dealt with flu-like symptoms, but Joe Mazzulla was pretty sure he would go.

    “He’s always ready to play,” Mazzulla said. “I knew he was going to play, just because I had faith and trust in him.”

    Mazzulla’s optimism wasn’t universally shared: Jayson Tatum noted that Holiday didn’t participate in shootaround and was experiencing “chills” (symptoms that, incidentally, might have landed him a multi-game quarantine some three years ago).

    1. Daryl

      Ah for the halcyon days when “flu-like symptoms” was just a sports euphemism for hangover.

    1. ChrisFromGA

      This could get interesting if a future Spanish government wants to repudiate the agreement.

      Since Zelensky is now illegitimate, I can see a court ruling that the agreement is void.

      No idea how the Spanish legal system works or more importantly, if Spain bothers with silly things like the law anymore or is on board with the rest of the “rules based order” gang.

  16. LY

    Eric Schmidt, Google’s CEO, was a visible backer and adviser to Obama.

    IBM’s mainframes always had the military and intelligence agencies as major customers, famously in WWII. Now, that extends to cloud providers.

    NSA’s Security-Enhanced Linux (SELinux) was incorporated into the main kernel branch over twenty years ago. So, not recent. And Red Hat is used heavily in MIC because they do the work of meeting cybersecurity standards, timely patches, and technology export controls.

    1. ambrit

      Don’t forget that one of IBM’s bigger customers in the 1930s and 1940s was the Reich. Via subsidiary Hollerith, IBM automated the Holocaust.
      It can be argued that the early work by IBM in automating the data usage of the Reich led to the “efficient” collection and liquidation of ‘undesirables.’
      The Data is neutral. Indeed, it cannot be anything else; it has no agency. Those who use the Data do have agency. The true “strength” of ‘secret’ data collection and use is the secrecy. What level of discomfort would lead any individual to cease participating in the Data Cloud is probably only discernable when the threshold is crossed. I’m inclined to go with the formulation; “Bit by bit by bit, then all at once.”

    1. Screwball

      But every American should know how we have been lied to

      And that’s only one example. Talk to your PMC friends and then think about how many things they have been wrong about over the last 7 years? It seems we are lied to (or not told) about almost everything. I’m to the point I have no idea what to believe anymore, and that’s only the part they are telling me.

  17. The Rev Kev

    “US delegation arrives in Taiwan, President Lai Ching-te extends goodwill to China after drills”

    It appears that noted Russia-hater Michael McCaul has decided on a career change and become a noted China-hater instead. He knows what is coming and wants to be ahead of the pack. So Michael McCaul came out and told the the Taiwanese ‘Taiwan, unlike Ukraine, will be getting new weapon systems, not old ones – especially old Russian weapons. It would be a new stock that would be supplied to Taiwan. Some of our latest technologies.’ Sucks to be Ukrainian if you heard him say this-

    1. Benny Profane

      I just can’t imagine how most Taiwanese, and even a lot of the ruling class want to walk into this conflict right after they’ve watched Ukraine destroyed.

      1. John

        Send all the weapons you want to Taiwan. It remains 6,000 or more miles from the US west coast and all the islands on which the US has bases are within missile range of China. Just because American oligarchs happily shipped US industry to China because cheap labor because $$$ is no reason to blame China for becoming THE industrial power on the planet. China is not to blame for the US happily accepting what it produced at very reasonable prices. Threats and sanctions are not a substitute research, development, and production. Beating war drums does not build ships or man them. Press releases about the hyper-sonic missile that has been “under development” for five or ten years does nothing in the face of actual hyper-sonic missiles. I remember seeing what seemed like and endless convoy of trucks towing field artillery passing through the village in which I grew up. I remember formations of bombers flying to the northeast headed for the war in Europe. The US is incapable of that kind of production today. The president makes a fatuous speech to the graduates at West Point: “greatest nation in the world”, “only superpower.” He speaks as one stuck in the past. He is like the out of shape athlete ‘impressing” you by showing his press clippings from a generation ago.
        The US/EU/NATO is getting its butt kicked in Ukraine. Mr Putin is firmly in power. The Russian economy has not collapsed. The Russian military is stronger than it was 23 February 2022. The brilliant foreign policy team in the DC Bubble showed us its stuff in Anchorage in March 2021. The continue to seek a new low each passing day. Only novices could have conceived that driving Russia and China ever closer to one another was a good idea. Only amateurs could imagine that threatening Iran, sanctioning Turkiya, meddling in Georgia, pressuring Finland to abandon its neutrality, was wise. I cannot come up with a characterization that fits persons who supply the weapons to begin and perpetrate genocide while have the levers to bring it to an end. That is truly beyond the pale. There is more but this serves to demonstrate the geopolitical and moral failure of the current administration.

        Yet they press on. Speaking from both sides of their mouths. Speaking and acting as if they were in control of events. Never thinking that there an be any outcome but the one they prefer. Acting as if the only thing that matters is the election in November. Are they children? I know children who are more thoughtful. Is it hubris? Simple arrogance?
        I do hope we can all survive this era. Lightly tossing around threats of the use of nuclear weapons by officeholders in the DC Bubble disqualifies such persons to hold any office. The congress critter who said Taiwan would receive the newest, the best, weapons is blowing smoke for his wished for re-election. He is not and never has been a serious person, but he is representative of the bottom scraping intellectual, practical, and moral level of the people who infest DC these days. I use the word infest with deliberation.
        It is Memorial Day, Decoration Day when I was young. Will it be parades and fierce rhetoric or will you go to the graveyards with flags and flowers to count the cost?

        1. Vandemonian

          An eloquent display of righteous anger, John, but you forgot to add “But I repeat myself”.

        2. jrkrideau

          I must disagree’ slightly, with the terms “novices” and “amateurs”. A novice or an amateur could learn. These are confirmed ideologues so consumed by hate and ambition that they are completely incapable of grasping even a wisp of reality.

          They are the political equivalent of a religious fanatic willing to burn heretics at the stake or behead them. Their lack of real-world experience only compounds the problem.

        3. CA

          “Send all the weapons you want to Taiwan…”

          This is a fine summary and I am grateful. However, shorter paragraphs would help at least me organize my thoughts.

  18. chris

    On the pronatalist Guardian article, I read that yesterday and wasn’t sure any article that lent itself to parody so easily was worthy of this Commentariat. But I did observe two things that might make others amused, regarding the attitude towards Christmas expressed by the interviewee:

    1-tech bros iterating on something that doesn’t need to be improved, and that they don’t understand, is an amazing example of tech bro hubris. “Future Day”, “HumanLight”, and all other ideas are so joyless and devoid of purpose that only a techbro could consider them useful.

    2-venture capitalists and tech bros stealing what you have, and then deciding whether or not they will give it back to you, is the most tech bro thing ever.

  19. Balan Aroxdale

    More on deadly cross-border fire between Israeli, Egyptian soldiers

    An Egyptian military spokesman statement says Egyptian forces are carrying out an investigation into a shooting on the Rafah border that led to one personnel killed.

    It was initially reported by Israeli media that there had been cross-border fire that was started from the Egyptian side toward Israeli soldiers, who responded. Then, that was retracted through an order by the Israeli military, but was again allowed to be reported.

    This incident will be flared up to distract the media from the Rafah massacre. I am certain that is the purpose behind the incident.

    1. NotThePilot

      Possibly, though I think this could be the tip of something much bigger slowly boiling up. It seems that Al-Sisi and, for lack of a better term, the IMF faction within the Egyptian government are still outwardly in control for now.

      Beyond all of the Israeli thuggery and Palestinian suffering on display above-ground in Rafah, there doesn’t seem to be much discussion of what the tunnels running under-ground imply. Not only could that be why the Israeli government is obsessed with invading Southern Gaza, but it’s also probably how Hamas has managed to resupply and provide enough civilian aid to keep the famine & siege from accelerating.

      But for the tunnels to be that effective, factions within the Egyptian government almost definitely have to be helping. It’s not like Egyptian society at-large is doing well either or that people forgot Abdel-Nasser. So events like this could just be puffs of smoke coming from a much wider pre-revolutionary moment smoldering underground. It’s just a feeling, but if this war isn’t stopped very soon, I suspect Hamas’ allies (including within the Egyptian military) will not only escalate on existing fronts, but possibly open new ones, and Egypt is ripe for it.

      1. adrena

        Or, might it be that the Israelis are preparing to forcibly herd the remaining Palestinians into Egypt?

        1. NotThePilot

          It’s totally possible that’s the plan from their end, and I don’t doubt they can buy off Al-Sisi and his immediate cronies. But still, as degraded as Egypt has become, they’d be taking an awfully big gamble that Egyptian society won’t rise up and declare war.

          Even before that point though, I don’t think Israel can move the Palestinians even if they want to. I get why a lot of people especially in the West don’t believe it. But despite the sacrifice, I think wider Palestinian society is still capable & willing to fight on, and they believe (and I personally agree, as grim as it is) they’re winning the war.

          Plus if they felt they were finally slipping towards the breaking point, the Palestinians’ allies have many more cards up their sleeves.

  20. Tony Wikrent

    RE America’s premier pronatalists, “As societies become more prosperous, people are having fewer children”

    Can we finally dispense with the neo-Malthusian fixation on the “danger of overpopulation”?

    Probably not, because the real purpose of the neo-Malthusian fixation is to convince people “resources are scarce” and therefore there will always be impoverished “lower class” people doomed to “short, nasty, and brutish” lifetimes of toil and suffering. These are basic tenets of the imperial British political economy of capitalist neoliberalism.

    By contrast, the political economy of civic republicanism holds that all people are created equal because they all have the capacity to contribute to the welfare of not just themselves and their families, but also the General Welfare of their societies: no people are doomed to any one class or another, and certainly no people are doomed to “short, nasty, and brutish” lifetimes of toil and suffering. And how is the General Welfare of society advanced? By creating the new science and technologies that give humanity increased ability to harness and use the powers of nature.

    This does not mean a rapacious pillaging of natural resources, but a thoughtful and careful stewardship of the resources the Creator has granted us access to.

    Increasing humanity’s control over the powers of nature inevitably means that one person is enabled over time to do the work that previously required the efforts of dozens or even hundreds of people. The obvious utopia is an economy in which very, very few people are required to produce what everyone else needs and consumes. In agriculture, advanced economies require only 2 or 3 percent of the labor force to produce enough food for everyone. And even then, there are massive amounts of waste.

    So, the goal should be to achieve the same level of productivity in manufacturing, construction, and transportation. Which means a society in which less than ten percent of the labor force is required to produce and distribute everything. Then another ten to 15 percent in education and medical care, and you have a society in which three quarters of people really do not need to work.

    As John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail:

    “The science of government it is my duty to study, more than all other sciences; the arts of legislation and administration and negotiation ought to take the place of, indeed exclude, in a manner, all other arts. I must study politics and war, that our sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. Our sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history and naval architecture, navigation, commerce and agriculture in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry and porcelain.”

    The largest obstacle to achieving this utopia is the philosophy of selfishness embedded in the imperial British political economy of capitalist neoliberalism. “Why should I work and pay taxes for some kid to study basket weaving or potter making?”

    And, “I am entitled to hoard as much money, land, wealth, and power as I can accumulate.” Or, “Greed is good.” We have to advance to a philosophical revulsion against this type of thinking.

    This is why I promote a revival of civic republicanism; because it is hostile to, and probably the best replacement for, capitalist neoliberalism.

    1. Grebo

      We have infinite resources on an infinite planet so why shouldn’t we have infinite people too! Sadly, the only thing that really is infinite is human stupidity.

  21. s.n.

    the final paras of craig murray’s latest:

    This is a turning point in history. The mask has been pulled away from the West and the pretence of support for international law has almost entirely been abandoned. It is fascinating to witness the determined efforts of the media and politicians to keep events in Gaza out of the election campaign.

    As both major parties support continued arms sales and military support to Israel, and in the words of Keir Starmer support Israel “unequivocally”, it is unsurprising they wish the genocide happening now to be ignored in the campaign.

    We have to make sure that does not happen.

    1. Vandemonian

      Craig, of course, is standing as a candidate. He and George Galloway, who is also standing, have discussed the formation of a a new “Workers’ Party”, essentially old (pre-Blair) Labour reborn.

      1. Alex Cox

        The Workers Party already exists, has only a couple of weeks to field candidates for the General Election, and regrets that Jeremy Corbyn didn’t have the balls to be one of them.

  22. Bsn

    On this article: “How COVID-19 ‘breakthrough’ infections alter your immune cells”, and the one just below it about TB …….. I just don’t “trust the science” anymore. Well, actually I do, I just don’t trust the science printed in journals that I don’t trust. So so many of the articles published in supposedly trustworthy journals turn out to be, well, fraudulent. I’ve read with my hubby (a doc) many papers regarding Covid that show just the opposite of what this article proposes. Ah, forget it. I won’t go on. Be safe out there and read with a sceptical mind. I wonder who funds that publication? I’m sure they don’t get funding from pharmaceutical corporations. Naw, that couldn’t be.

    1. flora

      Thanks, Skepticism is very good. Skepticism toward both the official narratives, which NC allows, and skepticism toward the alt-narratives. I’ve seen more that one so-called alt site demonstrate a controlled opposition outlook. Sites like “something Wheel” and “something Memo”. Just because a so-called alt site says opposite to the official narrative doesn’t mean said alt site isn’t controlled narrative. Use your Spidey Sense. Be skeptical of everything. Does it pass your common sense assessment? / ;) (my 2 cents)

    2. flora

      I left a comment about the value and importance of skepticism that’s gone into mod. Hope it will appear.

      Skepticism toward both promoted official and promoted alt narratives.

      1. flora

        adding this old, old bit from poet John Milton’s epic poem “Paradise Lost”, from Book 2, (do they teach the classics anymore?).

        “HIgh on a Throne of Royal State, which far
        Outshon the wealth of Ormus and of Ind,
        Or where the gorgeous East with richest hand
        Showrs on her Kings Barbaric Pearl and Gold,
        Satan exalted sat, by merit rais’d
        To that bad eminence; and from despair
        Thus high uplifted beyond hope, aspires
        Beyond thus high, insatiate to pursue
        Vain Warr with Heav’n, and by success untaught
        His proud imaginations thus displaid. ”

        The lines:
        “To that bad eminence; and from despair
        Thus high uplifted beyond hope, aspires
        Beyond thus high,…”

        And from despair.

        Those lines are remarkable. imo.

        1. Tom Pfotzer

          Thanks, Flora!

          I read this last in 11th grade AP English class. Great memories.

          The teacher, a Thespian, was terrific. She read us parts of this work, and then mercilessly ridiculed us (e.g. me) as we mangled it.

          She was a terror.

  23. Tom Stone

    Some recommended escapist fiction: Will Thomas’ “Barker and LLewellen” novels set in the London of the late 19th Century.
    With one Pandemic ongoing, another on the Horizon and a Western Elite seemingly devoted to destroying all life on Earth, a little time away from Reality is a good thing.

    1. Lena

      Thank you for the book series recommendation. It sounds like the kind of escapism I am looking for right now. I enjoy historical mysteries, especially those set in Victorian England.

      1. marku52

        Try these “Matthew Shardlake Mysteries” C J Samson. Shardake is a barrister in Cromwell’s England. Lots of insight into life in that bizarre and unhappy period.
        I’ve enjoyed the enjoy the first 3. Will keep going.

        1. Lena

          That sounds like a fascinating series. I always appreciate good book recommendations. Thank you.

  24. Jason Boxman

    Whatever might be true or not about T cell response, population disability keeps increasing. I’ll be curious what Leonardi thinks as this seems to directly refute my layman’s understanding of his longstanding position on t cell exhaustion.

  25. Kouros

    Somebody posted on Maginer twitter that: “UNRWA functions can be brought back into UNHCR. In late 1940, UNHCR was supporting Jews for moving to Israel. UNRWA was estabished to resolve the contradiction of Arabs expeled from Israel.”

    I also want to point out that there was never a unipolar moment and that the US was never the uncontested haegemon. At no point after 1991, the US could do exactly what it wanted in Russia, in China, in India, in Iran, in Indonesia, in KSA, etc.

    If it really could have, they would have dismantled the Russian nuclear capabilities long ago. As such, they had to continue to live with the idea that there is a political entity on the planet that could destroy them. This was/is something that bothers tremendously lots of hawks in Washington DC. The existence of this potentiality and the desire to eliminate it, in order not to feel more secure, but to feel and know that the US can really do whatever it wants, wherever it wants is the main driver of the Washington plutocratic establishment. Yes, it is psychopatic.

    1. NotThePilot

      Since you mentioned unipolarity, I thought I’d mention the “Unipolarity is not over yet” article.

      I skimmed it and while their argument isn’t outwardly flawed, they definitely bake a lot of the same assumptions into their analysis as Western leaders do. In particular, the conclusion relies on an “M-share” metric that just multiplies a country’s % share of global military manpower by that country’s per-soldier expenditures.

      I’m guessing most here at NC will immediately sniff out how misleading the money factor is. Not only is maximizing expenditure the basic assumption of Western militaries, but it arguably goes against some first principles. Like everyone since Sunzi warning about the state dissipating its resources on indecisive military policy.

      I think there’s a related deeper flaw from the personnel part of the equation too: the provided charts and discussion seem to imply only regular, active-duty soldiers are being counted. So also from a manpower perspective, the analysis discounts countries with doctrines that emphasize reserves and popular mobilization against countries heavily into Western-style, contract soldiers.

      I wonder how much the author’s own conclusions would change if they just included credible reserves in their calculation. I don’t know how large the Chinese reserves are, but if I’m not wrong, the country still maintains facets of a Maoist, “people’s war” doctrine. The one example I’m more familiar with is Iran, where the Basij (which is just the national guard, despite the propaganda) supposedly has over 20 million on their rolls. Obviously you can’t field that many people all at once, and they’d probably need more training to match a professional soldier 1-to-1, but still, that’s a lot of able-bodied men & women that already know the basics.

      1. Kouros

        The ranking is such that there is no actual difference presently btw US and Russia, with China just there, a hair behind, in terms of military muscle:

        So in terms of muscle Uncle Sam can’t really. As for sanctioning, it didn’t work for North Korea and Iran and far less so for Russia.

        All the while the technical genie is out of the bottle and US is actually not that competitive and advanced any longer. China is eating the lunch of the west.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          The early 00’s were also marked by the Soviet suppliers not being there. An Iraq receiving regular supplies and having a functioning oil trade in 2003 would have been a different animal than what a relatively stronger 2003 US faced.

          Making our own reality would require actual cooperation. Even with lesser in theory Soviet equipment, the problem was maintenance and resupply, not the tech gap.

          The innovations have made local non state actors powerful while there is motivation.

  26. Boomheist

    Re: The Unhoused: Great article, and depressing. In addition of course to housing being too costly and badly paying jobs, I do think that Ronald Reagan’s emptying of institutional hospitals in the 1980s greatly contributed to the homeless problem. Here in Tacoma, where I live, the housing issue continues year by year, impossible to solve, tragic, and as with Seattle and I am betting most major cities across the country, the visibility of homeless camps has grown and grown. This of course fails to even consider those who live in their cars because they have lost housing, frequently people choosing more rural and isolated places to sleep, out of public view. I bet we don’t even know, really, how many such people there are. So long as they keep to themselves and the housed learn routes for driving avoiding have to see the roadside camps, this is a problem that for the most part festers and then is forgotten. But of course, it cannot be forgotten as it has become so visible. My prediction here, and this is regardless of whether Trump wins or Biden wins this year, there will be an Overton window shift such that the idea of collecting such people and placing them in safe camps, for rehabilitation and training, will become not only acceptable but expected. Such a policy will in a stroke clean up the cities, secure property values for residences and businesses, enable the state to say training and detoxification is being provided, and rather miraculously make it appear as if the homeless problem has been solved. Of course, it will cost money to build such camps, or upgrade existing nearly abandoned military or mental hospital spaces that exist today – a lot of money. Furthermore, because moving the homeless from the cities to the sticks means the camps will be outside the city boundaries, this cost will have to be a county, state or Federal cost. It will be interesting to see how the autocratic right wingers who will be leading such an effort explain and justify the spending of funds to make and run the camps, which will surely be socialist. Not to worry, the justifications will be made.
    But don’t expect the progressives or liberals or the left to save the day, as they, too, or at least those in the PMC elite, with businesses and properties to save, will somehow go along, wringing their hands of course, but in the end unified with the right as regards property sanctity even at the expense of anyone poor.
    I fully expect this shift, or change, to accelerate as I think it is occurring right now in a million small ways.
    All you need to do is look at the accompanying article about Newsome’s tiny houses that were promised and have not yet been built, probably never will be built, to come to understand that at some point there will be a hidden and shameful agreement that the only solution is to clear out the tent cities and camps and force everyone into structured camps and facilities for their own, and society’s, good.
    This is, I fear, our dark savage future.
    I am rereading Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States for the fourth or fifth time, don’t know why I picked it up again, and maybe this dark yet accurate history has colored my view, but I fear we may be at that point where the savage soul within us has risen and will now prevail. I believe this because I am entirely confident Zinn’s book had been and will surely be banned, hidden from view and schools. Those thoughts and books that are banned reveal, I fear, how deadly and real are the autocratic threads among us.
    This day is Memorial Day, a day to honor and celebrate those among us who have fought and died for our freedoms and way of life. I wonder what some of them would say about all this…..

    1. Carla

      @Boomheist — I read Howard Zinn’s People’s History years before finding Naked Capitalism in 2010. Only after starting to learn all the things about political economy, banking, money creation and the FIRE sector that NC and some additional reading about MMT have and are teaching me did I realize the fatal weakness Zinn shared with almost everyone else on “the left” I have ever met: apparent ignorance and a seeming lack of any curiosity about what money actually is, who creates it and for the benefit of whom. If Zinn had any interest in or knowledge of this, it certainly wasn’t in that book. Most of my friends on “the left,” many of whom seem otherwise quite intelligent, hold resolutely–even proudly–to a belief that it is somehow beneath them to even want to grasp such things. That is, how things actually work.

      1. Boomheist

        What, exactly, do you mean? Are you saying the way things actually work, money-wise, thus nullifies Zinn’s discussion? What is the precise fatal weakness of Zinn’s argument?

  27. Lefty Godot

    Politico on Joe’s big spending initiatives being redirected: “a larger concern about the landmark CHIPS Act shared by many of its original supporters — that a taxpayer-funded law meant to boost America’s skills and know-how in a key industry could be turning into a spigot for large corporate players, at the expense of the rest of the ecosystem it was intended to support”. But isn’t that the entire rationale for these public-private “investments” or “partnerships” since at least Bill Clinton’s day? Presumably the large corporate players will then funnel large donations to the politicians behind these programs.

  28. Maxwell Johnston

    ‘Facing pro-Palestinian protests, universities must realize they are businesses – and act like it’ — Globe and Mail

    I haven’t visited the USA for many years now, but IIRC most universities there are classified as non-profit organizations for tax purposes. I.e., most definitely not businesses. Did I miss something? Or is Gus Carlson simply an apologist for the USA’s crackdown on campus dissent?

    1. Mo

      I understand the non profit status is what makes them a hugely profitable business. Managing huge real estate portfolios tax free

      1. Vicky Cookies

        Was looking a chart of revenue sources for my local university (well, its sister in Madison; Milwaukee was harder to find): tuition was about 25%; state and federal grants another 40 or so %. The rest was some acronym I could find no key for. I assume this is investments. Any institution can become an investment bank! General Electric, a state university, the whole damned economy!

    2. eg

      Carlson is a neoliberal hack — he is reliably wrong about everything with remarkable consistency.

  29. JBird4049

    We have reached the stage where the most fundamental axioms of human society need to be restated and explained in words of one syllable, as if they were novel discoveries.

    Our era will be viewed as one of assault on reason and knowledge.

    — Dr David Berger, aBsuRdiSTe cROnickLeR (@YouAreLobbyLud) May 27, 2024

    I hope everyone understands that the stupidification of society was mostly deliberate? And for fun and profit? I am sure that most readers here understand this, but I just want to be sure. Some people seem to believe that those people on the other side (whoever they are) spontaneously developed brain death all on their own, while their own side is all smart people.

  30. juno mas

    Today is Memorial Day. The day for honoring US citizens who died in the line of duty. As I type, WWII era planes are noisily ‘dog-fighting’ above the California coastline. Beach goers are not amused. It seems the noise of a war not seen is intruding on the wars being experienced visually on the Internet.

  31. Willow

    Watch Egypt. Recent fire fight between Egyptians and IDF may indicate that Sisi is losing control over lower levels of the armed forces, or also.. Israel intent creating a wider regional war to provide cover for what’s going on in Gaza. You’d have to think that the odds of US being directly involved in a major hot war somewhere around the globe before Nov is now well above 50/50.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      We can’t build a pier. The McKensy-ing of the US means we can’t function.

      We can’t deal with Houthi pirates (apologies) threatening Sinai shipping. The odds of US troops being deployed is zero beyond a handful of advisors.

      1. Willow

        US built floating concrete piers that worked on the Normandy beaches. It can be done. Just shows how far professional competency has fallen in the West.

        Biden needs a hot war. Troops will be deployed, and in large numbers, but it’s just going to end up being a complete disaster – necessitating last resort options.

        1. CA

          Construct temporary floating harbours for the 1944 D-Day landings

          The Mulberry harbours were floating artificial harbours designed and constructed by British military engineers during World War 2.

          They were used to protect supply ships anchored off the coast of Normandy, north west France, after the D-Day landings of June 6, 1944.

          Supply ships needed to sit in deep water and so couldn’t come in close to the shore. The harbours were intended to protect the ships from storms and enemy attack.

          The idea for floating harbours came from several people. Winston Churchill had suggested them as early as 1917…

  32. GDmofo

    Regarding that Guardian piece on the pronatalists, I don’t know who I hate more, the author or the subjects.

  33. SD

    I always appreciate Grist for bringing issues like the “Day Zero” situations in Mexico City and Bogota to the fore. That’s what that blog is good for. News, essentially. Every time I go deeper and follow the links there is, for instance, almost always some kind of “public-private partnership” solution proposed by someone who is never identified in the initial write-up as private equity executive. Grain of salt with Grist, I guess. Take what you need and leave the rest, as they say.

  34. sleeplessintokyo

    maybe AI released to the public hallucinates in order to make us think it is worthless while the real mccoy is used by intelligence agencies to create dossiers on all of us

  35. Pat

    Buzzfeed triggered a realization for me. I have been watching polls from the swing states, and eavesdropping here in my blue state (and while I fully expect Biden to win, his margin is either going to be decreased or they will have gamed it.) now I wasn’t happy that all indications signal a Trump win to me, but I have never felt a deep sense of despair about it.
    Meanwhile Buzzfeed requested that swing state voters let them know who they expected to be voting for in November. Biden won overwhelmingly. Yes, this is self selecting and by no means reliable, but it was the first that didn’t have it even close. And my first reaction was stomach sinking despair. Until that moment I believed that I considered both of them terrible choices that would just continue the bad choices of the last three decades with some new atrocities along the way. I knew I gave Trump a small edge as he wasn’t a total war monger and it was possible he might put some breaks on the determination to start WWIII, but even that was not a certainty. Yet my reaction makes it clear that deep down I believe Biden is more of a threat to America than just being the worst president of my lifetime.

    My fondest hope really fantasy is that Americans wake up, walk into the voting booth and overwhelmingly vote third party, that over 90% of the vote is split between RFK Jr, Stein, and the libertarian. But the public isn’t ready to accept that two major parties need to be rejected and there is no lesser evil, even though I clearly know now that deep down I do think Trump would wreak less disaster than Biden.

  36. s.n.

    nice little court you got here. be a shame if anything happened to it

    Revealed: Israeli spy chief ‘threatened’ ICC prosecutor over war crimes inquiry

    …According to accounts shared with ICC officials, he is alleged to have told her: “You should help us and let us take care of you. You don’t want to be getting into things that could compromise your security or that of your family.”

    One individual briefed on Cohen’s activities said he had used “despicable tactics” against Bensouda as part of an ultimately unsuccessful effort to intimidate and influence her. They likened his behaviour to “stalking”.

    The Mossad also took a keen interest in Bensouda’s family members and obtained transcripts of secret recordings of her husband, according to two sources with direct knowledge of the situation. Israeli officials then attempted to use the material to discredit the prosecutor….

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