You thought hydrogen was a clear, colorless gas? There are colors!!!

Hydrogen

Just a few days ago, I was explaining that

“grey” hydrogen is produced from natural gas;[1] this has been proposed for steel production in southwestern Pennsylvania.[2] It is not, no matter what people might tell you, “green.”[3] If the methane that would be released in natural gas production is captured, the resulting hydrogen is “blue.”[4][5]

It turns out there is also such a thing as “pink hydrogen.” You might be rolling your eyes at this point, wondering first, just how many “colors” of hydrogen (the gas itself is clear and colorless) there are,[6] and second, what the fuck “pink hydrogen” is.

I can’t answer the first question,[7] but “pink hydrogen” is produced using nuclear power. I’m going to leave that there at this point: I haven’t looked at the hazards of nuclear power in decades and when I did, I hadn’t returned to school (which I did in 2003), so my views on nuclear power are, ahem, uneducated. That doesn’t mean I don’t have concerns—no matter what they do to improve nuclear power plant safety, I still, in all these decades (and it ain’t like the question is new), haven’t heard an adequate answer to the question of what to do with nuclear waste.

Most hydrogen produced today in the U.S. is “brown.” It is made via steam-methane reforming, in which steam is used to produce hydrogen from a methane source like natural gas. So while both of these processes produce clean, zero-emission hydrogen fuel, they produce significant amounts of Earth-warming CO2 in the process, making them less-than-ideal choices for a truly clean hydrogen future.[8]

The stuff Alex Ivanenko labels “brown hydrogen”[9] would be what Camilla Palladino labeled “grey hydrogen.”[10] Stupid disputes over terminology are a reason for something well beyond eye-rolling.

Will Wade, “Billion-Dollar ‘Pink Hydrogen’ Plan on Hold as US Weighs Rules,” Bloomberg, May 30, 2023, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2023-05-30/pink-hydrogen-plans-hinge-on-fine-print-of-biden-climate-law


Illiberalism


Fig. 1. Photograph by Joachim F. Thurn, August 1991, Bundesarchiv, B 145 Bild-F089030-0003, via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0 DE.

Kareem Fahim and Louisa Loveluck, “Erdogan wins reelection in Turkey after bitter campaign,” Washington Post, May 28, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/05/28/turkey-election-runoff-erdogan-kilicdaroglu/

Asli Aydintasbas, “Erdogan won Turkey’s election. But this is not the end of the story,” Washington Post, May 29, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2023/05/29/turkey-election-results-erdogan-challenge/

Wojciech Kość, “Political uproar in Poland after Duda pledges to sign Kremlin commission law,” Politico, May 29, 2023, https://www.politico.eu/article/politics-election-poland-andrzej-duda-russia-law-donald-tusk-pis-civic-platform/

Matthew Miller, “Concerns Over Potential use of New Polish Legislation to Target Opposition,” U.S. Department of State, May 29, 2023, https://www.state.gov/concerns-over-potential-use-of-new-polish-legislation-to-target-opposition/

Kareem Fahim, “Erdogan continues divisive rhetoric following victory,” Washington Post, May 30, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/05/29/erdogan-post-election-harsh-rhetoric/

Ishaan Tharoor, “Erdogan becomes an era-defining electoral autocrat,” Washington Post, May 30, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/05/30/erdogan-autocrat-electoral-power/


Jeffrey Epstein


Fig. 1. “Donald Trump with his future wife Melania Knauss, Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell at Mar-a-Lago in February 2000.” Photograph credited to Davidoff Studios Photography/Getty Images, February 2000,[11] fair use.

My expectation now is that we’ll be getting revelations dribbling out a little at a time about all the powerful people Jeffrey Epstein dealt with (and may have procured underage girls for)[12] for a while now.

Khadeeja Safdar and David Benoit, “Jamie Dimon Says He Never Discussed Jeffrey Epstein’s Accounts at JPMorgan; Jes Staley Says Dimon Did,” Wall Street Journal, May 31, 2023, https://www.wsj.com/articles/jamie-dimon-says-he-never-discussed-jeffrey-epsteins-accounts-at-jpmorgan-jes-staley-says-dimon-did-b11f0da5


Gilead

Donald Trump

Supposedly, Donald Trump was not involved in a scheme to defraud his supporters by selling them “legal tender” that was definitely not “legal tender.”[13]

Corky Siemaszko and Brandy Zadrozny, “‘Trump Bucks’ retailers’ websites taken down, days after being exposed for selling bogus currency,” NBC News, May 31, 2023, https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/trump-bucks-scam-websites-unavailable-rcna86916

Coup attempt


Fig. 1. “Jake Angeli (Qanon Shaman), seen holding a Qanon sign at the intersection of Bell Rd and 75th Ave in Peoria, Arizona, on 2020 October 15.” Photography by TheUnseen011101 [pseud.], October 15, 2020, via Wikimedia Commons, public domain.

Birthright citizenship is included in the 14th amendment to the US constitution, which was passed by the Senate in 1866 and ratified two years later. The relevant passage says: “All persons born or naturalised in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States.”

In 1898, in US v Wong Kim Ark, the supreme court settled an outstanding question, ruling that the child of Chinese citizens born in the US was automatically a US citizen.

[Donald] Trump has repeatedly said he will remove the right regardless.[14]

Bess Levin, “Report: Trump’s Lawyer Revealed Some Unfortunate Things for Trump in Classified-Docs Case,” Vanity Fair, May 30, 2023, https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2023/05/donald-trump-evan-corcoran-documents-investigation

Asawin Suebsaeng and Adam Rawnsley, “Team Trump Scrambles to Unmask the Feds Investigating Him,” Rolling Stone, May 30, 2023, https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-features/trump-fbi-justice-department-purge-1234743318/

Martin Pengelly, “Donald Trump reiterates pledge to scrap birthright US citizenship,” Guardian, May 31, 2023, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2023/may/31/donald-trump-birthright-us-citizenship

White Christian nationalism


Fig. 1. In terms of geographic area, Pennsylvania is very much a white Christian nationalist kind of place. Photograph by author, January 5, 2023.

Martin Pengelly, “Donald Trump reiterates pledge to scrap birthright US citizenship,” Guardian, May 31, 2023, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2023/may/31/donald-trump-birthright-us-citizenship


  1. [1]Camilla Palladino, “Lex in depth: the staggering cost of a green hydrogen economy,” Financial Times, May 28, 2023, https://www.ft.com/content/6e22930b-a007-4729-951f-78d6685a7514
  2. [2]Jon Hurdle, “‘Green Steel’ would curb carbon emissions, spur economic revival in Southwest Pennsylvania, study says,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, April 18, 2023, https://www.post-gazette.com/business/powersource/2023/04/18/green-steel-curb-carbon-emissions-renewables/stories/202304170092
  3. [3]Stuart Braun, “The true cost of fracked US ‘freedom gas,’” Deutsche Welle, March 28, 2022, https://www.dw.com/en/the-true-cost-of-fracked-us-freedom-gas/a-61283540; Camilla Palladino, “Lex in depth: the staggering cost of a green hydrogen economy,” Financial Times, May 28, 2023, https://www.ft.com/content/6e22930b-a007-4729-951f-78d6685a7514; Hiroko Tabuchi, “For Many, Hydrogen Is the Fuel of the Future. New Research Raises Doubts,” New York Times, August 16, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/12/climate/hydrogen-fuel-natural-gas-pollution.html
  4. [4]Hiroko Tabuchi, “For Many, Hydrogen Is the Fuel of the Future. New Research Raises Doubts,” New York Times, August 16, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/12/climate/hydrogen-fuel-natural-gas-pollution.html
  5. [5]David Benfell, “Actually, we might have a few Molochs,” Irregular Bullshit, May 28, 2023, https://disunitedstates.com/2023/05/28/actually-we-might-have-a-few-molochs/
  6. [6]Alex Ivanenko, “A Look At The ‘Colors’ Of Hydrogen That Could Power Our Future,” Forbes, August 31, 2020, https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2020/08/31/a-look-at-the-colors-of-hydrogen-that-could-power-our-future/
  7. [7]This article does not list “pink” hydrogen and, so far as I know, there may be yet more colors: Alex Ivanenko, “A Look At The ‘Colors’ Of Hydrogen That Could Power Our Future,” Forbes, August 31, 2020, https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2020/08/31/a-look-at-the-colors-of-hydrogen-that-could-power-our-future/
  8. [8]Alex Ivanenko, “A Look At The ‘Colors’ Of Hydrogen That Could Power Our Future,” Forbes, August 31, 2020, https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2020/08/31/a-look-at-the-colors-of-hydrogen-that-could-power-our-future/
  9. [9]Alex Ivanenko, “A Look At The ‘Colors’ Of Hydrogen That Could Power Our Future,” Forbes, August 31, 2020, https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2020/08/31/a-look-at-the-colors-of-hydrogen-that-could-power-our-future/
  10. [10]Camilla Palladino, “Lex in depth: the staggering cost of a green hydrogen economy,” Financial Times, May 28, 2023, https://www.ft.com/content/6e22930b-a007-4729-951f-78d6685a7514
  11. [11]Martin Pengelly, “‘She say anything about me?’ Trump raised Ghislaine Maxwell link with aides,” Guardian, October 4, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/books/2022/oct/04/trump-ghislaine-maxwell-epstein-maggie-haberman-book-confidence-man
  12. [12]Khadeeja Safdar and David Benoit, “Jamie Dimon Says He Never Discussed Jeffrey Epstein’s Accounts at JPMorgan; Jes Staley Says Dimon Did,” Wall Street Journal, May 31, 2023, https://www.wsj.com/articles/jamie-dimon-says-he-never-discussed-jeffrey-epsteins-accounts-at-jpmorgan-jes-staley-says-dimon-did-b11f0da5; Lauren del Valle and Eric Levenson, “Jeffrey Epstein’s former pilot testifies Bill Clinton, Donald Trump, Prince Andrew flew aboard Epstein’s private plane,” Cable News Network, November 30, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/11/30/us/ghislaine-maxwell-pilot/index.html
  13. [13]Corky Siemaszko and Brandy Zadrozny, “‘Trump Bucks’ retailers’ websites taken down, days after being exposed for selling bogus currency,” NBC News, May 31, 2023, https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/trump-bucks-scam-websites-unavailable-rcna86916
  14. [14]Martin Pengelly, “Donald Trump reiterates pledge to scrap birthright US citizenship,” Guardian, May 31, 2023, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2023/may/31/donald-trump-birthright-us-citizenship

Tara Reade defects to Russia, supports invasion of Ukraine. No, I don’t believe her anymore.

I am not caught up.


Democratic (neoliberal) Party

Joe Biden

Strictly speaking, it’s still possible that Tara Reade was telling the truth when she accused Joe Biden of sexual assault.[1] But she has defected to Russia, now supports Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and her concerns about safety[2] seem poorly formed, vague, and possibly paranoid.

The way claimed threats to safety become credible is through specificity. Reade’s story needs to be about who specifically threatened her, specifically how, and specifically what they wanted of her. It should be about who she reported these threats to and what they did (or didn’t do) about them. Reade’s story, at least as reported in the Guardian, isn’t anything like that.[3] Instead, it looks to me like a play for publicity.

And if she is not telling the truth about her reasons for ‘defecting’ to Russia, then I have reason to doubt her story about Biden.

I’m still thinking about the implications for the #MeToo movement. Reade is a single case, but the assumption that underlies “Believe Her” is that women would never lie about sexual misbehavior. That assumption always sounded naïve; with Reade, we now have specific reason for doubt.

As well, evidence has only accumulated over time suggesting that powerful men often express their power through various sexual misbehaviors. Which is what #MeToo is really about. The cause is undiminished.

And when there are so many opportunities for such behavior behind closed doors, without witnesses, a great many of these cases will continue to reduce to “he said, she said,” enabling misbehaving men, denying victimized women justice. This isn’t an adequate answer.

Martin Pengelly, “Tara Reade, who accused Joe Biden of sexual assault, defects to Russia,” Guardian, May 30, 2023, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2023/may/30/tara-reade-defects-russia-biden


Imperialism

Russia

Ukraine


Fig. 1. “Destroyed Russian military vehicles located on the main street Khreshchatyk are seen as part of the celebration of the Independence Day of Ukraine in Kyiv, August 24.” Photograph by Gleb Garanich for Reuters, August 24, 2022,[4] fair use.

Julia Ioffe, “Yalta 2023: Planning for Life After the Russian Invasion,” Puck, May 30, 2023, https://puck.news/yalta-2023-planning-for-life-after-the-russian-invasion/

Richard Milne, Adam Samson, and Felicia Schwartz, “West steps up pressure on Turkey to admit Sweden into Nato,” Financial Times, May 30, 2023, https://www.ft.com/content/2954fa63-4590-4570-96e6-962c85957904

Bojan Pancevski, Laurence Norman, and James Marson, “Ukraine and Allies Plan Peace Summit Without Russia,” Wall Street Journal, May 30, 2023, https://www.wsj.com/articles/ukraine-and-allies-plan-peace-summit-without-russia-72341551

Max Seddon and Christopher Miller, “Vladimir Putin vows retaliation for drone attack on Moscow,” Financial Times, May 30, 2023, https://www.ft.com/content/cdde0e44-0e90-41c0-a3be-e5f6849b706b

Patrick Tucker, “Estonia Will Ask For a Clearer Path for Ukraine to Join NATO,” Defense One, May 30, 2023, https://www.defenseone.com/threats/2023/05/estonia-will-ask-clearer-path-ukraine-join-nato/386879/

Nataliya Vasilyeva, “James Cleverly backs Ukraine’s right to attack Russia after Moscow’s ‘Beverly Hills’ hit by drones,” Telegraph, May 30, 2023, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2023/05/30/moscow-uav-drones-ukraine-kremlin-putin-civilain-attack/


Illiberalism


Fig. 1. Photograph by Joachim F. Thurn, August 1991, Bundesarchiv, B 145 Bild-F089030-0003, via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0 DE.

[Andrzej] Duda and the Law and Justice (PiS) party government say [a controversial bill creating a commission to investigate Russian influence on Polish politics that could ban people from public office for a decade is] an effort to root out the Kremlin’s agents in Poland, but the opposition warns the commission is aimed at harassing political rivals — especially Donald Tusk, a former prime minister and European Council president who heads the opposition Civic Platform party — ahead of this fall’s pivotal parliamentary election.[5]

Kareem Fahim and Louisa Loveluck, “Erdogan wins reelection in Turkey after bitter campaign,” Washington Post, May 28, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/05/28/turkey-election-runoff-erdogan-kilicdaroglu/

Wojciech Kość, “Political uproar in Poland after Duda pledges to sign Kremlin commission law,” Politico, May 29, 2023, https://www.politico.eu/article/politics-election-poland-andrzej-duda-russia-law-donald-tusk-pis-civic-platform/

Matthew Miller, “Concerns Over Potential use of New Polish Legislation to Target Opposition,” U.S. Department of State, May 29, 2023, https://www.state.gov/concerns-over-potential-use-of-new-polish-legislation-to-target-opposition/

Kareem Fahim, “Erdogan continues divisive rhetoric following victory,” Washington Post, May 30, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/05/29/erdogan-post-election-harsh-rhetoric/

Ishaan Tharoor, “Erdogan becomes an era-defining electoral autocrat,” Washington Post, May 30, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/05/30/erdogan-autocrat-electoral-power/


Banking

Commercial real estate


Fig. 1. “The iconic Crescent stands as recognizable landmark in the upscale neighborhood of Uptown, Dallas.” Photograph by Dallasedits [pseud.], July 5, 2016, via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0.

While office towers sit empty and nearby businesses struggle to pay their bills, residential neighborhoods in America’s biggest cities are bustling again.

The pandemic and remote work have done little to dent the overall appeal of cities such as New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, foot-traffic and rent data show. Instead, the pandemic has shifted the urban center of gravity, moving away from often sterile office districts to neighborhoods with apartments, bars and restaurants.

“We’re now back to what cities really are—they’re not containers for working,” said Richard Florida, a specialist in city planning at the University of Toronto. “They’re places for people to live and connect with others.”[6]

Konrad Putzier and Kate King, “American Cities Are Starting to Thrive Again. Just Not Near Office Buildings,” Wall Street Journal, May 30, 2023, https://www.wsj.com/articles/american-cities-are-starting-to-thrive-again-just-not-near-office-buildings-d839798f


Human Science

Inquiry

Quantitative
Artificial idiocy

Alyssa Lukpat, “AI Poses ‘Risk of Extinction’ on Par With Pandemics and Nuclear War, Tech Executives Warn,” Wall Street Journal, May 30, 2023, https://www.wsj.com/articles/ai-threat-is-on-par-with-pandemics-nuclear-war-tech-executives-warn-39105eeb


  1. [1]Alanna Vagianos, “Joe Biden Accused Of Sexually Assaulting Senate Aide In 1993,” HuffPost, March 29, 2020, https://www.huffpost.com/entry/joe-biden-sexual-assault-tara-reade_n_5e7e69c8c5b6256a7a2a88f2
  2. [2]Martin Pengelly, “Tara Reade, who accused Joe Biden of sexual assault, defects to Russia,” Guardian, May 30, 2023, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2023/may/30/tara-reade-defects-russia-biden
  3. [3]Martin Pengelly, “Tara Reade, who accused Joe Biden of sexual assault, defects to Russia,” Guardian, May 30, 2023, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2023/may/30/tara-reade-defects-russia-biden
  4. [4]Reuters, “Ukraine puts destroyed Russian tanks on display in Kyiv,” August 25, 2022, https://www.reuters.com/news/picture/ukraine-puts-destroyed-russian-tanks-on-idUSRTSALV9Q
  5. [5]Wojciech Kość, “Political uproar in Poland after Duda pledges to sign Kremlin commission law,” Politico, May 29, 2023, https://www.politico.eu/article/politics-election-poland-andrzej-duda-russia-law-donald-tusk-pis-civic-platform/
  6. [6]Konrad Putzier and Kate King, “American Cities Are Starting to Thrive Again. Just Not Near Office Buildings,” Wall Street Journal, May 30, 2023, https://www.wsj.com/articles/american-cities-are-starting-to-thrive-again-just-not-near-office-buildings-d839798f

Vladimir Putin must surely now be getting desperate

Imperialism

Russia

Ukraine


Fig. 1. “Destroyed Russian military vehicles located on the main street Khreshchatyk are seen as part of the celebration of the Independence Day of Ukraine in Kyiv, August 24.” Photograph by Gleb Garanich for Reuters, August 24, 2022,[1] fair use.

It’s a very different picture from the one Julia Ioffe offered from Munich.[2] Patrick Tucker senses that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization might well choose to intervene in Ukraine.[3]

Tucker’s report is certainly unexpected. The assumption has been that Ukraine would not join NATO because of Russian sensibilities,[4] NATO would avoid combat with a nuclear power, because it doesn’t want nuclear war,[5] and the pretext that NATO would use to intervene is unclear.[6] Logically, Vladimir Putin’s threat to go nuclear[7] does not substantively diminish with time; the fear has rather been that as the war continues to go poorly for Putin,[8] the chance he might desperately go nuclear increases.

Putin faces a much-too-obvious challenge from Yevgeny Prigozhin over the Russian military establishment’s handling of the war, because the war hasn’t been going well for Russia, with many suspecting Prigozhin wants Putin’s job. For a while, Prigozhin’s name was the only one I’d heard mentioned in the context of a possible coup,[9] but it’s been reported that various “clans” are jockeying for position to replace him.[10] He’s clearly running out of time.[11]

Tucker’s reporting suggests that NATO politicians finally understand[12] what I and others have been arguing from the outset, that Putin cannot be allowed to win the war.[13] There is good reason for skepticism on this point and frankly, it’s Ioffe I trust:

The questions are myriad. How, for example, do you rebuild a country while it is being actively destroyed by a foreign army? How do you understand the future of a country that has kicked out all real journalists, making the present reality so hard to understand? How do you reimagine a country whose territorial integrity is very much up in the air, or one whose dictator seems more powerful at home than ever?[14]

Russia isn’t done. We see that it isn’t done. Even if any possibility of victory has escaped Russia’s grasp, it isn’t done. And while it’s possible to suggest with regard to Putin that it’s always darkest before the dawn, we really don’t know that we’re at that point; we really don’t know that Prigozhin, let alone any other rivals, can dislodge Putin.

If Tucker is right, it could be that NATO is sensing a vulnerability that is unclear to the rest of us. But Ioffe isn’t seeing it:

In fact, Ukraine’s ascension [to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and to the European Union] seems even further away now than it was before, given Washington’s reddest of red lines: not getting into a hot conflict with Russia. That would be all but guaranteed should Ukraine join while the threat of Russian attack remains anywhere on the horizon, even if the war were to end tomorrow.[15]

Read Ioffe patiently, however, and it emerges that some NATO leaders do indeed seem to understand that Putin cannot be allowed to win. Some is not all, however, and Ioffe is still pointing at “Washington’s reddest of red lines: not getting into a hot conflict with Russia.”[16] That probably means Tucker is wrong. Probably.

Julia Ioffe, “Yalta 2023: Planning for Life After the Russian Invasion,” Puck, May 30, 2023, https://puck.news/yalta-2023-planning-for-life-after-the-russian-invasion/

Patrick Tucker, “Estonia Will Ask For a Clearer Path for Ukraine to Join NATO,” Defense One, May 30, 2023, https://www.defenseone.com/threats/2023/05/estonia-will-ask-clearer-path-ukraine-join-nato/386879/


Gilead

Donald Trump

Coup attempt


Fig. 2. “Jake Angeli (Qanon Shaman), seen holding a Qanon sign at the intersection of Bell Rd and 75th Ave in Peoria, Arizona, on 2020 October 15.” Photography by TheUnseen011101 [pseud.], October 15, 2020, via Wikimedia Commons, public domain.

Bess Levin, “Report: Trump’s Lawyer Revealed Some Unfortunate Things for Trump in Classified-Docs Case,” Vanity Fair, May 30, 2023, https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2023/05/donald-trump-evan-corcoran-documents-investigation

Asawin Suebsaeng and Adam Rawnsley, “Team Trump Scrambles to Unmask the Feds Investigating Him,” Rolling Stone, May 30, 2023, https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-features/trump-fbi-justice-department-purge-1234743318/


COVID-19 Pandemic


Fig. 3. Photograph by author, November 8, 2022.

Joe Leahy and Clive Cookson, “China investigated Covid lab leak claims, says top scientist,” Financial Times, May 30, 2023, https://www.ft.com/content/cd633f52-c2d2-4ee4-b940-d1bef6a5d910


  1. [1]Reuters, “Ukraine puts destroyed Russian tanks on display in Kyiv,” August 25, 2022, https://www.reuters.com/news/picture/ukraine-puts-destroyed-russian-tanks-on-idUSRTSALV9Q
  2. [2]Julia Ioffe, “Peace & Gossip in Munich,” Puck, February 21, 2023, https://puck.news/peace-gossip-in-munich/
  3. [3]Patrick Tucker, “Estonia Will Ask For a Clearer Path for Ukraine to Join NATO,” Defense One, May 30, 2023, https://www.defenseone.com/threats/2023/05/estonia-will-ask-clearer-path-ukraine-join-nato/386879/
  4. [4]Anthony Faiola, “How joining NATO and the E.U. became Ukraine’s unattainable dream,” Washington Post, February 17, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com//world/2022/02/17/ukraine-nato-eu-european-union-membership/; Isobel Koshiw, Jon Henley, and Julian Borger, “Ukraine will not join Nato, says Zelenskiy, as shelling of Kyiv continues,” Guardian, March 15, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/mar/15/kyiv-facing-dangerous-moment-amid-signs-of-russias-tightening-grip
  5. [5]Simon Lewis and Sabine Siebold, “NATO rejects Ukraine no-fly zone, says ‘not part of this’ war,” Reuters, March 4, 2022, https://www.reuters.com/business/aerospace-defense/nato-meets-ukraine-calls-no-fly-zone-hinder-russia-2022-03-04/; Brett Samuels, “Biden: Direct conflict between NATO and Russia would be ‘World War III,’” Hill, March 11, 2022, https://thehill.com/policy/international/597842-biden-direct-conflict-between-nato-and-russia-would-be-world-war-iii
  6. [6]Patrick Tucker, “Estonia Will Ask For a Clearer Path for Ukraine to Join NATO,” Defense One, May 30, 2023, https://www.defenseone.com/threats/2023/05/estonia-will-ask-clearer-path-ukraine-join-nato/386879/
  7. [7]Yuras Karmanau, “Putin puts nuclear forces on high alert, escalating tensions,” Associated Press, February 27, 2022, https://apnews.com/article/russia-ukraine-kyiv-business-europe-moscow-2e4e1cf784f22b6afbe5a2f936725550; Tom Nichols, “How Should the U.S. Respond to Putin’s Nuclear Provocation?” Atlantic, February 27, 2022, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2022/02/how-the-west-should-respond-to-putins-nuclear-provocation/622943/; Adam Taylor, “War in Ukraine enters a new phase, even more unpredictable and dangerous than the last,” Washington Post, March 1, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com//world/2022/03/01/ukraine-putin-nuclear-sanctions/; Robin Wright, “What Does Putin’s Nuclear Sabre Rattling Mean?” New Yorker, March 1, 2022, https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/what-does-putins-nuclear-sabre-rattling-mean
  8. [8]Patrick Tucker, “Without A New Draft, Russian Offensive Operations Are Over, US Intel Chiefs Say,” Defense One, May 4, 2023, https://www.defenseone.com/threats/2023/05/without-new-draft-russian-offensive-operations-are-over-us-intel-chiefs-say/386003/
  9. [9]Julia Ioffe, “‘Putin’s Chef’: The Man Behind Russia’s Shadow Army,” Puck, December 13, 2022, https://puck.news/putins-chef-the-man-behind-russias-shadow-army/; Maria Katamadze, “Can Wagner head Yevgeny Prigozhin challenge Putin?” Deutsche Welle, February 19, 2023, https://www.dw.com/en/can-wagner-head-yevgeny-prigozhin-challenge-putin/a-64744266; Allan Woods, “Why Vladimir Putin isn’t shutting down the outspoken ‘thug’ running the Wagner Group,” Toronto Star, May 15, 2023, https://www.thestar.com/news/world/2023/05/15/why-vladimir-putin-isnt-shutting-down-the-outspoken-thug-running-the-wagner-group.html
  10. [10]Vazha Tavberidze, “Interview: The ‘War Of Clans For Putin’s Throne Has Begun,’” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, May 24, 2023, https://www.rferl.org/a/putin-clans-war-russia-interview-succession-ukraine-war/32425962.html
  11. [11]Samantha de Bendern, “Putin claims he’s cancelling public celebrations over safety fears. The truth is more humiliating,” Guardian, May 2, 2023, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2023/may/02/putin-cancelling-public-celebrations-safety-fears-ukraine-war; Patrick Tucker, “Without A New Draft, Russian Offensive Operations Are Over, US Intel Chiefs Say,” Defense One, May 4, 2023, https://www.defenseone.com/threats/2023/05/without-new-draft-russian-offensive-operations-are-over-us-intel-chiefs-say/386003/
  12. [12]Patrick Tucker, “Estonia Will Ask For a Clearer Path for Ukraine to Join NATO,” Defense One, May 30, 2023, https://www.defenseone.com/threats/2023/05/estonia-will-ask-clearer-path-ukraine-join-nato/386879/
  13. [13]David Benfell, “Where does Vladimir Putin stop?” Not Housebroken, November 16, 2022, https://disunitedstates.org/2022/03/04/where-does-vladimir-putin-stop/
  14. [14]Julia Ioffe, “Yalta 2023: Planning for Life After the Russian Invasion,” Puck, May 30, 2023, https://puck.news/yalta-2023-planning-for-life-after-the-russian-invasion/
  15. [15]Julia Ioffe, “Yalta 2023: Planning for Life After the Russian Invasion,” Puck, May 30, 2023, https://puck.news/yalta-2023-planning-for-life-after-the-russian-invasion/
  16. [16]Julia Ioffe, “Yalta 2023: Planning for Life After the Russian Invasion,” Puck, May 30, 2023, https://puck.news/yalta-2023-planning-for-life-after-the-russian-invasion/

What are the ‘South Hills’ anyway?

It had not been my intention to watch the South Hills Memorial Day parade.

But I’d had business on West Liberty in Dormont, parked in store’s parking lot, and when I came out, the street was closed and the parade was about to begin. So I probably had the most comfortable seat, in my car, watching the parade go by.

It was pretty much what you’d expect, celebrating everything I loathe—police white supremacist gangsters, the military, scouting, marching bands, the occasional car dealer who didn’t pass up a marketing opportunity—but also a few folks I definitely don’t loath: firefighters and paramedics. Lending further support to my impression of scouting as preparation for military service, some boy scouts carried a banner for Marine Corps veterans who I guess couldn’t carry it themselves.

As the parade went on, I started noticing omissions. Dormont, Mount Lebanon, and Brookline (a Pittsburgh neighborhood) sent white supremacist gangsters, firefighters, and paramedics, but even as the parade took the South Hills name, lots of other South Hills communities were absent. Though the Allegheny County sheriff sent its mounted patrol (from South Park), Green Tree, Beechview (a Pittsburgh neighborhood), Banksville (a Pittsburgh neighborhood), Scott Township, Baldwin Township, Whitehall, Baldwin Borough, Castle Shannon, and Bethel Park were all absent, never mind communities farther out.

The “South Hills” are not, to my knowledge, formally defined. I’ve been loosely counting everything on the west side of Route 51, which runs through a couple of long valleys, out to West Elizabeth, out to South Strabane, and east of Washington Avenue/Pike (not the same as Washington Road) and Morganza. In Canonsburg and points south, I draw the western boundary at East and West Pike Street (I would use Interstate 79, but I strongly doubt it existed when the “South Hills” term was first coined. It’s a pretty massive area, but it includes a coherent group of hills about as distinct from surrounding areas as you’re gonna get in the Appalachian Mountains.

So either Dormont and Mount Lebanon appropriated the “South Hills” name for their parade or other communities nonetheless did not feel welcome to participate in what was really a Dormont and Mount Lebanon parade.

And because Pittsburgh is a heavily segregated place, this parade was a very white affair. There were a few Black faces in the crowds lining the streets, a few Black faces among those marching in the parade, but I can’t say this parade was representative of South Hills as I conceive it, let alone Pittsburgh.


Work


Fig. 1. Yeah, this is me. The sign says, “If you’re whining about a labor shortage, STOP ignoring my job applications!” And the QR-code leads here. Photograph by author, January 16, 2023.

Lizzy McLellan Ravitch, “A tight job market dangled opportunity. Instead, workers found burnout and uncertainty,” Philadelphia Inquirer, May 29, 2023, https://www.inquirer.com/jobs/labor/labor-market-burnout-wages-philadelphia-federal-reserve-20230529.html


Illiberalism


Fig. 2. Photograph by Joachim F. Thurn, August 1991, Bundesarchiv, B 145 Bild-F089030-0003, via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0 DE.

“The outcome of the May elections suggests that Turkey has now shifted closer to a Eurasian autocracy than an illiberal European democracy,” Soner Cagaptay, Turkey scholar at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, wrote in Foreign Affairs.

“Just as [Vladimir] Putin had acquired sweeping executive powers in Russia, [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan had now become Turkey’s most powerful elected leader since the country’s first free and fair vote in 1950 — in effect a new Sultan,” Cagaptay added. “More symbolically, like Putin, who has increasingly portrayed himself as successor to Russia’s greatest tsars, Erdogan also began to embrace the trappings of an imperial head of state.”[1]

Ishaan Tharoor, “Erdogan becomes an era-defining electoral autocrat,” Washington Post, May 30, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/05/30/erdogan-autocrat-electoral-power/


Theranos

Adam Lashinsky thinks Elizabeth Holmes got a fair trial, but that bigger high technology grifters have learned nothing from her conviction.[2] The second part of that seems tautological; if ambitious grifters had an alternative to grifting, would they grift?

Adam Lashinsky, “As Elizabeth Holmes heads to prison, has Silicon Valley learned anything?” Washington Post, May 29, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2023/05/29/elizabeth-holmes-prison-silicon-valley/


Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh

Infrastructure


Fig. 3. Post-collapse scene at the Fern Hollow Bridge, photograph by National Transportation Safety Board, January 29, 2022, via Wikimedia Commons, public domain.

Jonathan D. Salant, “‘This isn’t safe’: A lack of truck parking on Pennsylvania’s highways alarms drivers,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 30, 2023, https://www.post-gazette.com/news/transportation/2023/05/30/pennsylvania-highway-truck-parking-safety/stories/202305250117


Gilead

Right-wing militias

Incarceration


Fig. 4. Coffee Creek Correctional Facility. Photograph by Twelvizm [pseud.], December 27, 2019, via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0.

Emma Folts, “Federal financial aid is returning to PA prisons. But getting a college degree inside won’t be easy,” Public Source, May 30, 2023, https://www.publicsource.org/pennsylvania-department-corrections-prisons-pell-grants-inmate-university-college-education/


  1. [1]Ishaan Tharoor, “Erdogan becomes an era-defining electoral autocrat,” Washington Post, May 30, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/05/30/erdogan-autocrat-electoral-power/
  2. [2]Adam Lashinsky, “As Elizabeth Holmes heads to prison, has Silicon Valley learned anything?” Washington Post, May 29, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2023/05/29/elizabeth-holmes-prison-silicon-valley/

Actually, we might have a few Molochs

Gilead

Gun nuttery


Fig. 1. “Rally Against Gun Control ‘Come and Take it’ flag at the Minnesota State Capitol,” photograph by Fibonacci Blue [pseud.], April 28, 2018, via Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

You know, I don’t normally post old articles here. It’s not what the Irregular Bullshit is here for. But I just came across this one for the first time.

That horror [the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre] cannot be blamed just on one unhinged person. It was the sacrifice we as a culture made, and continually make, to our demonic god. We guarantee that crazed man after crazed man will have a flood of killing power readily supplied him. We have to make that offering, out of devotion to our Moloch, our god. The gun is our Moloch. We sacrifice children to him daily—sometimes, as at Sandy Hook, by directly throwing them into the fire-hose of bullets from our protected private killing machines, sometimes by blighting our children’s lives by the death of a parent, a schoolmate, a teacher, a protector.[1]

Here, yet again, in a single passage, I cannot do justice. Garry Wills wrote this article magnificently. If you can wrangle access, please, by all means do. And I’m going to be thinking about his analogy using Maloch—apparently, a forbidden biblical god for all you heathens (including me)—for guns for a while.

Of course, guns as Maloch, now apparently understood as the author of the First Commandment, is maybe a few mind-blowing bundles all dumped on us at once. Let me count the ways I can unpack thee. . . . Starting with, perhaps, Maloch joining the Holy Trinity (oh, and it looks like an appropriate word for a holy four might lie down a series of ratholes that I’m just not up for chasing down right now). Or maybe Maloch was an apparition, testing human faithfulness, projected by that forever-angry Old Testament God. Or, where do all these pagan gods and goddesses we are told not to worship come from, anyway? What sort of ‘divine’ power struggle is this where we humans must blindly pick sides? How is that even supposed to work? On a few levels, how is that even supposed to work?

Garry Wills, “Our Moloch,” New York Review, December 15, 2012, https://www.nybooks.com/online/2012/12/15/our-moloch/

Right-wing militias

Police White supremacist gangs


Fig. 2. Photograph by Lorie Shaull, April 1, 2021, via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 2.0.

Angélica Cházaro, B. J. Last, and Taylor Riley, “DOJ Intervention Didn’t Stop Seattle’s Police Violence. It Gave Cops More Money,” Truthout, May 28, 2023, https://truthout.org/articles/doj-intervention-didnt-stop-seattles-police-violence-it-gave-cops-more-money/


Hydrogen cars

If like Toyota, you were holding out hope that hydrogen cars might be part of the mix in a renewable future:

Yes, climate change means that we need to stop using fossil fuels, which account for 80 per cent of global energy usage. The answer, critics say, is to use renewable and low-carbon electricity to power electric vehicles or heat pumps directly. That would be a better bet than going through the rigmarole of using renewable electricity to split water and generate “green” hydrogen, that can then be burnt in boilers.

For the most part, that is an accurate representation of the energy transition. Hydrogen is abysmally inefficient. Consider EVs, for example. Even when factoring in the 5 per cent lost in transport and 10 per cent as batteries charge and discharge, EVs can be up to 80 per cent efficient. In hydrogen vehicles, between 30 and 40 per cent of the starting renewable electricity is lost in making the fuel and a further 40 per cent in the fuel cell.[2]

Assuming these efficiency rates hold, Toyota is simply wrong about hydrogen.

Hydrogen’s poor efficiency means that it holds a compelling case as a decarbonisation solution only where direct electrification is not feasible — in industrial processes that require a chemical reaction, for instance.[3]

Terms to learn: “grey” hydrogen is produced from natural gas;[4] this has been proposed for steel production in southwestern Pennsylvania.[5] It is not, no matter what people might tell you, “green.”[6] If the methane that would be released in natural gas production is captured, the resulting hydrogen is “blue.”[7]

My issues with electric cars remain the same: I need longer range, more availability of charging stations (Tesla has put in a bank of charging stations, which probably only work for Teslas, at least for now,[8] at a nearby Giant Eagle and that would help, but requires doing business with Elon Musk, and I prefer to do business with grown-ups), and finally, frankly, batteries that are faster and a whole lot less fussy about charging.[9]

Camilla Palladino, “Lex in depth: the staggering cost of a green hydrogen economy,” Financial Times, May 28, 2023, https://www.ft.com/content/6e22930b-a007-4729-951f-78d6685a7514


Illiberalism


Fig. 3. Photograph by Joachim F. Thurn, August 1991, Bundesarchiv, B 145 Bild-F089030-0003, via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0 DE.

Kareem Fahim and Louisa Loveluck, “Erdogan wins reelection in Turkey after bitter campaign,” Washington Post, May 28, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/05/28/turkey-election-runoff-erdogan-kilicdaroglu/


  1. [1]Garry Wills, “Our Moloch,” New York Review, December 15, 2012, https://www.nybooks.com/online/2012/12/15/our-moloch/
  2. [2]Camilla Palladino, “Lex in depth: the staggering cost of a green hydrogen economy,” Financial Times, May 28, 2023, https://www.ft.com/content/6e22930b-a007-4729-951f-78d6685a7514
  3. [3]Mark Meldrum, quoted in Camilla Palladino, “Lex in depth: the staggering cost of a green hydrogen economy,” Financial Times, May 28, 2023, https://www.ft.com/content/6e22930b-a007-4729-951f-78d6685a7514
  4. [4]Camilla Palladino, “Lex in depth: the staggering cost of a green hydrogen economy,” Financial Times, May 28, 2023, https://www.ft.com/content/6e22930b-a007-4729-951f-78d6685a7514
  5. [5]Jon Hurdle, “‘Green Steel’ would curb carbon emissions, spur economic revival in Southwest Pennsylvania, study says,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, April 18, 2023, https://www.post-gazette.com/business/powersource/2023/04/18/green-steel-curb-carbon-emissions-renewables/stories/202304170092
  6. [6]Stuart Braun, “The true cost of fracked US ‘freedom gas,’” Deutsche Welle, March 28, 2022, https://www.dw.com/en/the-true-cost-of-fracked-us-freedom-gas/a-61283540; Camilla Palladino, “Lex in depth: the staggering cost of a green hydrogen economy,” Financial Times, May 28, 2023, https://www.ft.com/content/6e22930b-a007-4729-951f-78d6685a7514; Hiroko Tabuchi, “For Many, Hydrogen Is the Fuel of the Future. New Research Raises Doubts,” New York Times, August 16, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/12/climate/hydrogen-fuel-natural-gas-pollution.html
  7. [7]Hiroko Tabuchi, “For Many, Hydrogen Is the Fuel of the Future. New Research Raises Doubts,” New York Times, August 16, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/12/climate/hydrogen-fuel-natural-gas-pollution.html
  8. [8]Hyunjoo Jin and Jarrett Renshaw, “Tesla to open U.S. charging network to rivals in $7.5 bln federal program,” Reuters, February 15, 2023, https://www.reuters.com/technology/tesla-open-us-charging-network-rivals-75-bln-federal-program-white-house-2023-02-15/
  9. [9]To me, the procedures required here are insane: Tom Jervis, “Electric car battery life: how to preserve your battery,” Driving Electric, March 22, 2023, https://www.drivingelectric.com/your-questions-answered/96/electric-car-battery-life-how-preserve-your-battery

Now a dirty word: the neoliberal wet dream

So-called ‘ridesharing’

Drivers


Fig. 1. Yeah, this is me. The sign says, “If you’re whining about a labor shortage, STOP ignoring my job applications!” And the QR-code leads here. Photograph by author, January 16, 2023.

It seems that “gig work” has become a dirty word—I’ve been calling it a neoliberal wet dream because, by neoliberal standards, it’s hard to beat the power relationship between so-called ‘ridesharing’ companies and drivers—thanks to how Uber and Lyft treat their drivers:[1]

[David Simon] said people on the [screenwriters’ strike] picket lines had been discussing how the type of gig work associated with Uber had arrived at their industry. “The formula is always the same — labor is only a cost, and to the extent that they can cut costs, they will.”[2]

The reporting treats what should be a non-question of whether driver income has fallen as a question[3] (figure 2).

Fig. 2. Chart of average daily net earnings by month since January 2022 by author, as of May 26, 2023.

Kellen Browning, “Minnesota Governor Vetoes Gig Worker Pay Bill,” New York Times, May 25, 2023, https://www.nytimes.com/2023/05/25/technology/minnesota-veto-gig-workers.html

Kellen Browning, “Has ‘Gig Work’ Become a Dirty Word?” New York Times, May 27, 2023, https://www.nytimes.com/2023/05/27/business/gig-work-uber-lyft-writers-strike.html


  1. [1]Kellen Browning, “Has ‘Gig Work’ Become a Dirty Word?” New York Times, May 27, 2023, https://www.nytimes.com/2023/05/27/business/gig-work-uber-lyft-writers-strike.html
  2. [2]Kellen Browning, “Has ‘Gig Work’ Become a Dirty Word?” New York Times, May 27, 2023, https://www.nytimes.com/2023/05/27/business/gig-work-uber-lyft-writers-strike.html
  3. [3]Kellen Browning, “Minnesota Governor Vetoes Gig Worker Pay Bill,” New York Times, May 25, 2023, https://www.nytimes.com/2023/05/25/technology/minnesota-veto-gig-workers.html; Kellen Browning, “Has ‘Gig Work’ Become a Dirty Word?” New York Times, May 27, 2023, https://www.nytimes.com/2023/05/27/business/gig-work-uber-lyft-writers-strike.html

The Department of Justice keeps wagging the dog

Gilead

Donald Trump

Coup attempt


Fig. 1. “Jake Angeli (Qanon Shaman), seen holding a Qanon sign at the intersection of Bell Rd and 75th Ave in Peoria, Arizona, on 2020 October 15.” Photography by TheUnseen011101 [pseud.], October 15, 2020, via Wikimedia Commons, public domain.

The [18-year] sentence [imposed on Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes] is the longest given to any of the hundreds of people found guilty of involvement in the pro-Trump riot [on June 6, 2021], and the first to include an enhanced penalty for terrorism. Judge Amit P. Mehta said it was merited by the role Rhodes, a leader in the armed anti-government movement for decades, played in convincing others they had the right to impose their political beliefs by force. . . .

[Judge Amit P.] Mehta on Thursday [May 25, 2023] also sentenced Kelly Meggs, a Florida car dealer and top deputy to Rhodes, to 12 years.

In a lengthy address to the court before the sentence was read, Rhodes, 58, did not dispute that he was a key figure in the right-wing firmament. He cast his conviction as part of a left-wing plot that included the Biden administration, the media and anti-fascist activists.[1]

Aruna Viswanatha, Sadie Gurman, and C. Ryan Barber, “Special Counsel Is Wrapping Up Trump Mar-a-Lago Probe,” Wall Street Journal, May 23, 2023, https://www.wsj.com/articles/special-counsel-is-wrapping-up-trump-mar-a-lago-probe-99cd2517

Isaac Arnsdorf, Josh Dawsey, and Adriana Usero, “The deepening radicalization of Donald J. Trump,” Washington Post, May 24, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2023/05/24/trump-language-policy-2024-race/

Devlin Barrett et al., “Trump workers moved Mar-a-Lago boxes a day before FBI came for documents,” Washington Post, May 25, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2023/05/25/trump-classified-documents-mar-a-lago/

Rachel Weiner, Tom Jackman, and Spencer S. Hsu, “Oath Keepers leader Rhodes gets 18 years for Jan. 6 seditious conspiracy,” Washington Post, May 25, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/dc-md-va/2023/05/25/oath-keepers-sentencing-seditious-conspiracy-jan6/

White Christian nationalism


Fig. 2. In terms of geographic area, Pennsylvania is very much a white Christian nationalist kind of place. Photograph by author, January 5, 2023.

One point of contention is about the definition of anti-Semitism: Does, as defenders of the Israeli occupation often suggest, anti-Zionism constitute anti-Semitism? The White House definition sidesteps the issue:

When Jews are targeted because of their beliefs or their identity, when Israel is singled out because of anti-Jewish hatred, that is antisemitism.[2]

It goes on to suggest that lessons learned in the fight against anti-Semitism might also be useful in the fight against Islamophobia.[3] I think that’s a win: For now, at least, the acknowledgment of the existence of the Palestinian people cannot be construed, as some Zionists would clearly prefer, as anti-Semitism.

White House, “U.S. National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism,” May 2023, https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2023/05/U.S.-National-Strategy-to-Counter-Antisemitism.pdf


Self-driving cars


Fig. 3. Photograph by Mark Doliner, August 1, 2012, via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 2.0.

Russ Mitchell, “Huge Tesla data leak reportedly reveals thousands of safety complaints. 4 things to know,” Los Angeles Times, May 26, 2023, https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2023-05-26/tesla-autopilot-alleged-data-breach-leak


Imperialism

Russia

Ukraine


Fig. 4. “Destroyed Russian military vehicles located on the main street Khreshchatyk are seen as part of the celebration of the Independence Day of Ukraine in Kyiv, August 24.” Photograph by Gleb Garanich for Reuters, August 24, 2022,[4] fair use.

Robyn Dixon, “Russians snitch on Russians who oppose war with Soviet-style denunciations,” Washington Post, May 27, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/05/27/russia-denunciations-arrests-informants-war/


  1. [1]Rachel Weiner, Tom Jackman, and Spencer S. Hsu, “Oath Keepers leader Rhodes gets 18 years for Jan. 6 seditious conspiracy,” Washington Post, May 25, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/dc-md-va/2023/05/25/oath-keepers-sentencing-seditious-conspiracy-jan6/
  2. [2]White House, “U.S. National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism,” May 2023, https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2023/05/U.S.-National-Strategy-to-Counter-Antisemitism.pdf, 9.
  3. [3]White House, “U.S. National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism,” May 2023, https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2023/05/U.S.-National-Strategy-to-Counter-Antisemitism.pdf, 9.
  4. [4]Reuters, “Ukraine puts destroyed Russian tanks on display in Kyiv,” August 25, 2022, https://www.reuters.com/news/picture/ukraine-puts-destroyed-russian-tanks-on-idUSRTSALV9Q

Black voters have reason for disappointment with Joe Biden. What will they do in 2024?

Gilead

Right-wing militias

Police White supremacist gangs


Fig. 1. Photograph by Lorie Shaull, April 1, 2021, via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 2.0.

Y’all know how I feel about survey research, that with response rate declines, the methodology has ceased even to be a methodology and should be discounted entirely. This problem will be exacerbated with hard-to-reach groups, often overlapping with subaltern groups.

So I would urge caution with the Washington Post story by Toluse Olorunnipa, Scott Clement, and Emily Guskin, which is based entirely on survey results. That said, the upshot seems to be the Black voters don’t have a lot of choice: Joe Biden failed to get police reform passed and, if we accept these results, has disappointed a lot of Black voters. But the alternative is a clearly worse Republican, probably Donald Trump.[1] I didn’t see any analysis relevant to Tim Scott’s candidacy.[2] Scott

has presented his success as evidence that Black Americans are no longer marginalized, telling Iowans in February that he was “living proof” that “we are indeed a land of opportunity, not a land of oppression.”[3]

I think most Black people, certainly around Pittsburgh, know in their bones that they are still marginalized. And at some point—certainly I’ve been there—you wonder that the point of voting is when what you get is the same neoconservative policy regardless of whether Republicans or Democrats are in power, which is really what all this is about: Will Black voters still see a reason to turn out in 2024?

My guess is that they will. But if Republicans ever learn from their mistakes, they’re going to stop frightening the Black folks.

Joyce Sohyun Lee, Sarah Cahlan, and Arelis R. Hernández, “A year after Uvalde, officers who botched response face few consequences,” Washington Post, May 24, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2023/05/24/uvalde-school-shooting-police-response/

Toluse Olorunnipa, Scott Clement, and Emily Guskin, “Three years after Floyd’s death, a reckoning for Biden’s agenda on race,” Washington Post, May 25, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2023/05/25/george-floyd-death-anniversary-biden-race-agenda/

Abortion


Fig. 2. Sign at demonstration in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, May 3, 2022. Janni Rye, via Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication.

Rebekah Riess and Sydney Kashiwagi, “South Carolina governor signs 6-week abortion bill into law,” Cable News Network, May 25, 2023, https://www.cnn.com/2023/05/25/politics/south-carolina-abortion-ban-bill/index.html


Pennsylvania and surrounding areas

Pittsburgh, the Ohio Valley, and surrounding areas

Pollution


Fig. 3. Photographer unknown, circa 1940-1950, from Smoke Control Lantern Slide Collection, ca. 1940-1950, AIS.1978.22, Archives Service Center, University of Pittsburgh, via Bloomberg,[4] fair use.

Patrick Varine, “Shell Appalachia fined $10 million for air quality violations from Beaver County ‘cracker’ plant,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, May 24, 2023, https://triblive.com/local/regional/shell-appalachia-fined-10-million-for-air-quality-violations-from-beaver-county-cracker-plant/


Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh

Housing


Fig. 4. Most of the homeless encampments I’ve seen around Pittsburgh have been on the North Side. This one is downtown, right by a Parkway (Interstate 376) onramp. Photograph by author, May 22, 2023.

Eric Jankiewicz, “Pittsburgh’s mayor asked for expert advice on homelessness. Here’s what the mayor — and you — should know,” Public Source, May 23, 2023, https://www.publicsource.org/shelter-stakes-homelessness-pittsburgh-encampments-outreach-summer/

Imperialism

Russia

Ukraine


Fig. 5. “Destroyed Russian military vehicles located on the main street Khreshchatyk are seen as part of the celebration of the Independence Day of Ukraine in Kyiv, August 24.” Photograph by Gleb Garanich for Reuters, August 24, 2022,[5] fair use.

Explaining his claim that a Kremlin power struggle has already begun, Roman Anin argues that those who contend

want to save their lives, assets, the lives of their relatives. They understand that after Russia loses the war — because nobody among them believes in the victory anymore — they understand that it will be the starting point of this battle for the throne. And the one who loses the battle will lose everything — power, assets. . . .

Imagine that the next president of Russia is somebody from [Nikolai] Patrushev’s clan, who is the head of the National Security Council of Russia, one of the major governmental bodies of the country. That means that people who were fighting against him during all these years will not be able to save their assets, and even [their] lives or maybe freedom, and they understand that. And that’s what I believe will make a war really be fought. They will be fighting for their lives.

Because the other problem is that they’re stuck on this boat — because of the sanctions, because of their involvement in various crimes. They can’t leave the country. They can’t just say, “OK, let’s betray Putin and go somewhere.” They’re stuck there. And imagine snakes stuck in the same bottle and they just hate each other. . . .

And what is also really important and interesting in the framework of this war of clans and Prigozhin himself was his public statement [in the same video]…that they are going to leave Bakhmut on the 10th of May. And everyone paid attention only to the first part of this statement. But, in my opinion, the last part was more important. What he said was that “we will leave on the 10th of May, and we will wait until the Russian people need us, which we believe is going to happen really soon if you look at how our leaders are acting.”

It was obvious that he was referring to some kind of revolution, coup, or whatever. So he sees Wagner as this kind of military group that represents the interests of the majority of Russians, and if Russians need it, they will be ready there. That’s a very dangerous statement and nobody noticed. But I believe that Putin and his people in the Kremlin really read between the lines.[6]

This sounds like it will be uglier than I thought.

Philip Breedlove, Wesley Clark, and Ben Hodges, “Why Isn’t the Pentagon Helping the International Court Prosecute Putin?” Defense One, May 23, 2023, https://www.defenseone.com/ideas/2023/05/why-isnt-pentagon-helping-international-court-prosecute-putin/386681/

Julian Borger, “Wagner chief warns of revolution and says 20,000 fighters killed in Bakhmut,” Guardian, May 24, 2023, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/may/24/wagner-head-warns-of-revolution-after-claiming-20000-fighters-killed-in-bakhmut

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, “Wagner Chief Prigozhin Says Russia’s Plan To ‘Demilitarize’ Ukraine Has Failed,” May 24, 2023, https://www.rferl.org/a/russia-wagner-prigozhin-failure/32425650.html

Vazha Tavberidze, “Interview: The ‘War Of Clans For Putin’s Throne Has Begun,’” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, May 24, 2023, https://www.rferl.org/a/putin-clans-war-russia-interview-succession-ukraine-war/32425962.html


  1. [1]Toluse Olorunnipa, Scott Clement, and Emily Guskin, “Three years after Floyd’s death, a reckoning for Biden’s agenda on race,” Washington Post, May 25, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2023/05/25/george-floyd-death-anniversary-biden-race-agenda/
  2. [2]Maggie Astor, “5 Things to Know About Tim Scott,” New York Times, May 22, 2023, https://www.nytimes.com/2023/05/22/us/politics/tim-scott-2024-election.html
  3. [3]Maggie Astor, “5 Things to Know About Tim Scott,” New York Times, May 22, 2023, https://www.nytimes.com/2023/05/22/us/politics/tim-scott-2024-election.html
  4. [4]Mark Byrnes, “What Pittsburgh Looked Like When It Decided It Had a Pollution Problem,” Bloomberg, June 5, 2012, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2012-06-05/what-pittsburgh-looked-like-when-it-decided-it-had-a-pollution-problem
  5. [5]Reuters, “Ukraine puts destroyed Russian tanks on display in Kyiv,” August 25, 2022, https://www.reuters.com/news/picture/ukraine-puts-destroyed-russian-tanks-on-idUSRTSALV9Q
  6. [6]Roman Anin, quoted in Vazha Tavberidze, “Interview: The ‘War Of Clans For Putin’s Throne Has Begun,’” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, May 24, 2023, https://www.rferl.org/a/putin-clans-war-russia-interview-succession-ukraine-war/32425962.html

Yevgeny Prigozhin’s fateful day likely draws near

Imperialism

Russia


Fig. 1. Historic Russian empire, from the New York Times, possibly March 6, 2014, fair use.[1]

[W]ith the raids into southern Russia this week, the spotlight has been turned on both the Freedom of Russia Legion and the Russian Volunteer Corps, another group composed of Russians who now say they are fighting against [Vladimir] Putin.[2]

These are not all your favorite Russians. Some look for all the world like far right-wing extremists.[3]

That said, I have heard it said before that Russia itself is an empire, even before Soviet additions, even before czarist expansions (figure 1), let alone Putin’s imperialist aspirations.[4] If Yevgeny Prigozhin is literally right in warning of a revolution, not, as I very strongly suspect, actually very strongly projecting his own intentions onto a population grieving war losses,[5] then Russia might be in for years of tumult. We’ve been hearing from the right-wingers with the Ukraine war;[6] I would expect to hear as well from leftists who are, for now, and necessarily, laying very, very low. And I would expect to hear from more long-conquered subjects of Russia, the empire it already is.

The original name of Julia Ioffe’s newsletter to Puck News subscribers was “Tomorrow Will Be Worse.” This, of course, was specifically referring to Putin’s regime and, as many thought possible at the time, a soon-to-be-conquered Ukraine. And indeed, if Putin falls, and especially if I am wrong and Prigozhin succeeds him, a succeeding regime might indeed be considerably worse.

But remember who we aren’t hearing from. We know not what tricks may lie up their sleeves. It is conceivable that depending on how or if they strike, we might never know.

Sometimes, you just have to wait, patiently, for the players to lay down their cards. Then we see who was bullshitting bluffing farthest from the most dismal hand.

I think this is one of those occasions where we just have to wait, patiently. Or impatiently if you insist, but it won’t change a thing. The players will play.

Andrew Roth, “‘We are Russians just like you’: anti-Putin militias enter the spotlight,” Guardian, May 24, 2023, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/may/24/russian-anti-putin-militias-belgorod

Ukraine


Fig. 1. “Destroyed Russian military vehicles located on the main street Khreshchatyk are seen as part of the celebration of the Independence Day of Ukraine in Kyiv, August 24.” Photograph by Gleb Garanich for Reuters, August 24, 2022,[7] fair use.

I could very easily be completely full of shit here, and I’ll even apologize for that in advance, but the more I see of Yevgeny Prigozhin, whose name is the only one I’ve seen mentioned as a possible replacement for Vladimir Putin,[8] the more I sense he’s just too clumsy to replace Putin. Now, he’s warning of a “revolution if [Russia’s] leadership does not improve its handling of the war [against Ukraine],”[9] which sounds to me about as obvious a way of telegraphing coup intentions as there is.

And it is all also to say that all the murmuring about Prigozhin attempting a coup may not be in vain,[10] because yes, I think that’s what, given the opportunity, he will fail attempting. I just don’t think Prigozhin has the finesse and while I think it may be difficult for Putin,[11] the day draws near when he’ll have to do something about Prigozhin to prevent it even getting that far.

Of greater interest may be the follow-up on Russian (minority[12]) rebels striking inside Russia. Based on the Russian military response to that raid,[13] it appears that Putin still doesn’t have a fighting force.

Of course, that’s just what Prigozhin claims will do Putin in lead to revolution[14]—and as far as that goes, he might not be wrong, as long as he stops there, which is precisely what I don’t think he’ll do.

Julian Borger, “Wagner chief warns of revolution and says 20,000 fighters killed in Bakhmut,” Guardian, May 24, 2023, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/may/24/wagner-head-warns-of-revolution-after-claiming-20000-fighters-killed-in-bakhmut


  1. [1]New York Times, “Ukraine Crisis in Maps,” n.d., http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/02/27/world/europe/ukraine-divisions-crimea.html
  2. [2]Andrew Roth, “‘We are Russians just like you’: anti-Putin militias enter the spotlight,” Guardian, May 24, 2023, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/may/24/russian-anti-putin-militias-belgorod
  3. [3]Andrew Roth, “‘We are Russians just like you’: anti-Putin militias enter the spotlight,” Guardian, May 24, 2023, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/may/24/russian-anti-putin-militias-belgorod
  4. [4]Julian O’Shaughnessy, “I’m reconquering just like Peter the Great, insists Vladimir Putin,” Times, June 10, 2022, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/president-putin-creates-police-department-to-impose-martial-law-xqhlt79fn; Reuters, “Hailing Peter the Great, Putin draws parallel with mission to ‘return’ Russian lands,” June 9, 2022, https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/hailing-peter-great-putin-draws-parallel-with-mission-return-russian-lands-2022-06-09/; Ishaan Tharoor, “Putin makes his imperial pretensions clear,” Washington Post, June 13, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/06/13/putin-imperial-russia-empire-ukraine/
  5. [5]Julian Borger, “Wagner chief warns of revolution and says 20,000 fighters killed in Bakhmut,” Guardian, May 24, 2023, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/may/24/wagner-head-warns-of-revolution-after-claiming-20000-fighters-killed-in-bakhmut
  6. [6]Dan Ladden-Hall, “Prigozhin Says Jealous Kremlin Deliberately Stopped Wagner Taking Bakhmut,” March 16, 2023, https://www.thedailybeast.com/prigozhin-says-jealous-kremlin-deliberately-stopped-wagner-taking-bakhmut; Pjotr Sauer, “‘We have already lost’: far-right Russian bloggers slam Kremlin over army response,” Guardian, September 8, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/sep/08/we-have-already-lost-far-right-russian-bloggers-slam-kremlin-over-army-response; Allan Woods, “Why Vladimir Putin isn’t shutting down the outspoken ‘thug’ running the Wagner Group,” Toronto Star, May 15, 2023, https://www.thestar.com/news/world/2023/05/15/why-vladimir-putin-isnt-shutting-down-the-outspoken-thug-running-the-wagner-group.html
  7. [7]Reuters, “Ukraine puts destroyed Russian tanks on display in Kyiv,” August 25, 2022, https://www.reuters.com/news/picture/ukraine-puts-destroyed-russian-tanks-on-idUSRTSALV9Q
  8. [8]Julia Ioffe, “‘Putin’s Chef’: The Man Behind Russia’s Shadow Army,” Puck, December 13, 2022, https://puck.news/putins-chef-the-man-behind-russias-shadow-army/; Maria Katamadze, “Can Wagner head Yevgeny Prigozhin challenge Putin?” Deutsche Welle, February 19, 2023, https://www.dw.com/en/can-wagner-head-yevgeny-prigozhin-challenge-putin/a-64744266; Allan Woods, “Why Vladimir Putin isn’t shutting down the outspoken ‘thug’ running the Wagner Group,” Toronto Star, May 15, 2023, https://www.thestar.com/news/world/2023/05/15/why-vladimir-putin-isnt-shutting-down-the-outspoken-thug-running-the-wagner-group.html
  9. [9]Julian Borger, “Wagner chief warns of revolution and says 20,000 fighters killed in Bakhmut,” Guardian, May 24, 2023, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/may/24/wagner-head-warns-of-revolution-after-claiming-20000-fighters-killed-in-bakhmut
  10. [10]Julia Ioffe, “‘Putin’s Chef’: The Man Behind Russia’s Shadow Army,” Puck, December 13, 2022, https://puck.news/putins-chef-the-man-behind-russias-shadow-army/; Maria Katamadze, “Can Wagner head Yevgeny Prigozhin challenge Putin?” Deutsche Welle, February 19, 2023, https://www.dw.com/en/can-wagner-head-yevgeny-prigozhin-challenge-putin/a-64744266; Allan Woods, “Why Vladimir Putin isn’t shutting down the outspoken ‘thug’ running the Wagner Group,” Toronto Star, May 15, 2023, https://www.thestar.com/news/world/2023/05/15/why-vladimir-putin-isnt-shutting-down-the-outspoken-thug-running-the-wagner-group.html
  11. [11]Allan Woods, “Why Vladimir Putin isn’t shutting down the outspoken ‘thug’ running the Wagner Group,” Toronto Star, May 15, 2023, https://www.thestar.com/news/world/2023/05/15/why-vladimir-putin-isnt-shutting-down-the-outspoken-thug-running-the-wagner-group.html
  12. [12]Theo Merz, “Ethnic minorities in Russia are campaigning for the breakup of the country,” World, May 22, 2023, https://theworld.org/stories/2023-05-22/ethnic-minorities-russia-are-campaigning-breakup-country; Tom Mutch, “Soldiers Make Secret Pact to ‘Destroy’ Putin’s Empire From Within,” Daily Beast, April 9, 2023, https://www.thedailybeast.com/chechen-fighters-make-war-pact-with-ukrainian-troops-to-fight-vladimir-putin; Andrew Roth, “‘We are Russians just like you’: anti-Putin militias enter the spotlight,” Guardian, May 24, 2023, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/may/24/russian-anti-putin-militias-belgorod
  13. [13]Julian Borger, “Wagner chief warns of revolution and says 20,000 fighters killed in Bakhmut,” Guardian, May 24, 2023, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/may/24/wagner-head-warns-of-revolution-after-claiming-20000-fighters-killed-in-bakhmut
  14. [14]Julian Borger, “Wagner chief warns of revolution and says 20,000 fighters killed in Bakhmut,” Guardian, May 24, 2023, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/may/24/wagner-head-warns-of-revolution-after-claiming-20000-fighters-killed-in-bakhmut

In Pittsburgh, the paramedics who come to rescue you might not get there

Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh


Fig. 1. Along Mifflin Road in Pittsburgh’s Hays neighborhood. Photograph by author, December 1, 2020.

Julia Felton, “Pittsburgh’s public safety, public works vehicle fleets in ‘dire straits,’” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, May 23, 2023, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburghs-public-safety-public-works-vehicle-fleets-in-dire-straits/


Imperialism

Russia

Ukraine


Fig. 1. “Destroyed Russian military vehicles located on the main street Khreshchatyk are seen as part of the celebration of the Independence Day of Ukraine in Kyiv, August 24.” Photograph by Gleb Garanich for Reuters, August 24, 2022,[1] fair use.

President [Joe] Biden should authorize the sharing of U.S. evidence and other support for the [International Criminal Court’s] important work.

Ukraine’s choice to involve the ICC is entirely appropriate. Every commander understands that providing accountability when the laws of war are broken—whether on your own side or an adversary’s—is ultimately a way of protecting your own people. Civilians are safer during hostilities, and servicemembers are safer when taken captive, if all the parties to a conflict understand that there will be legal consequences fairly imposed for violations. . . .

Little is actually being asked of the United States. The U.S. government does not have to join the ICC to assist it in Ukraine, although doing so would make U.S. calls for justice much more credible and powerful. Rather, it only has to accept the world as it is.[2]

Philip Breedlove, Wesley Clark, and Ben Hodges, “Why Isn’t the Pentagon Helping the International Court Prosecute Putin?” Defense One, May 23, 2023, https://www.defenseone.com/ideas/2023/05/why-isnt-pentagon-helping-international-court-prosecute-putin/386681/


Gilead

Donald Trump

Coup attempt


Fig. 1. “Jake Angeli (Qanon Shaman), seen holding a Qanon sign at the intersection of Bell Rd and 75th Ave in Peoria, Arizona, on 2020 October 15.” Photography by TheUnseen011101 [pseud.], October 15, 2020, via Wikimedia Commons, public domain.

Aruna Viswanatha, Sadie Gurman, and C. Ryan Barber, “Special Counsel Is Wrapping Up Trump Mar-a-Lago Probe,” Wall Street Journal, May 23, 2023, https://www.wsj.com/articles/special-counsel-is-wrapping-up-trump-mar-a-lago-probe-99cd2517

Isaac Arnsdorf, Josh Dawsey, and Adriana Usero, “The deepening radicalization of Donald J. Trump,” Washington Post, May 24, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2023/05/24/trump-language-policy-2024-race/

Right-wing militias

Police White supremacist gangs


Fig. 1. Photograph by Lorie Shaull, April 1, 2021, via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 2.0.

Joyce Sohyun Lee, Sarah Cahlan, and Arelis R. Hernández, “A year after Uvalde, officers who botched response face few consequences,” Washington Post, May 24, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2023/05/24/uvalde-school-shooting-police-response/


  1. [1]Reuters, “Ukraine puts destroyed Russian tanks on display in Kyiv,” August 25, 2022, https://www.reuters.com/news/picture/ukraine-puts-destroyed-russian-tanks-on-idUSRTSALV9Q
  2. [2]Philip Breedlove, Wesley Clark, and Ben Hodges, “Why Isn’t the Pentagon Helping the International Court Prosecute Putin?” Defense One, May 23, 2023, https://www.defenseone.com/ideas/2023/05/why-isnt-pentagon-helping-international-court-prosecute-putin/386681/