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23 Feb 19:31

A private company just landed the U.S. back on the moon for the first time since 1972 ✊

by Not the Bee

After five long decades of absence, the U.S. is back on the lunar surface, baby!

23 Feb 19:26

HMM: History repeats? Why Chinese companies are establishing private armies. “China appears to be go

by Stephen Green

HMM: History repeats? Why Chinese companies are establishing private armies. “China appears to be going back to its old ways. Its companies are reportedly setting up volunteer armies, something which was more common in the 1970s. Several of the country’s state-owned enterprises and a private firm have established in-house fighting forces over the last year.”

23 Feb 19:23

Tulsi Gabbard says Democratic elites are destroying democracy in the name of saving it

by Charlotte Hazard
"I don't use these words lightly," Gabbard said.
23 Feb 14:51


by Glenn Reynolds


22 Feb 21:33

COLLUSION: RealClearInvestigations: ‘Sue and Settle’ Looks to Some Like Crony Democracy. And Under

by Glenn Reynolds
22 Feb 17:33

We’re Not Curing Cancer Here, Guys

by Oliver Wiseman
“Scientific papers are like someone’s dating profile on an app. They’re picking what pictures to show you and what stories to tell you.” (Dana-Farber Cancer Institute)

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A top cancer surgeon at Columbia University is under scrutiny after one of his research papers was retracted for containing suspect data. Twenty-six other studies by Dr. Sam S. Yoon, who conducted his research at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, have been flagged as suspicious by a British scientific sleuth called Sholto David. David raised the alarm after spotting the same images across different articles that described wholly different experiments. He has also found duplications and manipulated data in papers published by researchers at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston that have since been retracted. 

This news shocked me: leading scientists at some of the most respected research centers in the world, working on the very important and well-funded fight against cancer are. . . making stuff up. That seems bad. Really bad. And it poses a lot of unsettling questions, like whether we can really trust medical research at all. But maybe I am missing something. In search of reassurance, I called up an expert: oncologist, UCSF professor, the author of more than 500 academic papers, and Free Press contributor Vinay Prasad

Here’s an edited version of our conversation. (Spoiler alert: I was not reassured.) 

Vinay, how worried should we be about the problem of fraud in cancer research? 

Extremely worried. There’s something very unique about all these papers that allows people to find the fraud, and that is they report the raw data, in the form of images. Most papers, though, do not contain images. The data is all hidden. The researchers only provide a summary of the data. You have to worry how much fraud you’d find if everybody provided all the raw data. I suspect you’d find a gargantuan amount of fraud. This is merely the tip of the iceberg. 

Most laymen like me assume all the data is transparent in medical research. You’re telling me that’s not how it works?

Scientific papers are like someone’s dating profile on an app. They’re picking what pictures to show you and what stories to tell you. You don’t get to see the whole library of photos on their phone. Researchers are only presenting a sliver of what they’ve actually done. And just like a dating app on your phone, everything is inaccurate. 

That’s shocking, Vinay. What can we do about it? 

These concerns have been brewing for a while and they are reaching a tipping point. The fact that there’s been so much plagiarism at Harvard and there’s been all this image manipulation shows that the most venerable institutions are no safeguard against malfeasance. 

What punishment have any of these researchers actually faced? Claudine Gay resigned, although was shuffled into a role that paid her very well. All of the authors of these disputed papers have, to my knowledge, faced no sanction. Their paper gets withdrawn, but they still get promoted. There’s no punishment. 

A few years ago, there was a proposal by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors arguing that every paper published in the top journals should make the raw data available. That proposal was shot down because people were worried about their careers, and that other researchers would take their data and use it to make breakthroughs before them. Sharing is the solution. You should have to make all the data available whenever you publish medical research.

Oliver Wiseman is a writer and editor at The Free Press.

Vinay Prasad is a hematologist-oncologist, and a professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco. Follow him on Substack, on his YouTube channel Vinay Prasad MD MPH, or on Twitter (now X) @VPrasadMDMPH.

22 Feb 13:40


by Glenn Reynolds



21 Feb 19:47

FBI Claim That Alleged January 6 Pipe Bomb Was Left At Republican Headquarters Is False, New Evidence Suggests

by Michael Shellenberger
FBI Director Christopher Wray testifies before the House on January 31, 2024, in Washington, DC (left); the FBI’s erroneous map of the alleged bomb (center); Karlin Younger, who allegedly discovered the alleged bomb (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images; FBI)

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), last year, somebody planted a bomb at the Republican National Committee (RNC) headquarters on January 5 to go off on January 6, the day of the Capitol riot.

But the person who was the FBI’s Director of the Washington Field Office on January 6, 2021 told members of Congress last year that he agreed the bomb couldn’t have gone off on January 6 because it had a 60-minute timer on it.

“One of the many implausible aspects of the FBI’s pipe bomb narrative is that the device outside the Capitol Hill Club sat there overnight and for half the day,” Rep. Thomas Massie told Public, “only to be discovered just minutes before the breach of the perimeter at the Capitol with the kitchen timer set to 20 minutes remaining.”

There are many other suspicious elements of the case. The FBI claims that cell phone data that would have helped it to find the bomber was corrupted. The Secret Service claims that all the text messages of its agents from January 6 were deleted, which independent experts have said is “highly unusual,” “not something any other organization would ever do,” and “ludicrous.” And a video released last month by Rep. Thomas Massie showed that after a passerby told them about the Democratic National Committee (DNC) pipe bomb, Capitol police did not react with alarm and let people, including children, walk past the alleged bomb.

Reporter Julie Kelly reported that surveillance video appears to show an individual and a trained bomb-sniffing dog sweeping the premises a few hours before the DNC pipe bomb was discovered. If the bomb had been planted the day before, as the FBI claims, it is unclear how the Secret Service would have missed it.

Now, an experienced security analyst has come forward with a report for members of Congress, which shows in great detail that the FBI is misrepresenting the location of the alleged bomb allegedly found at the RNC.

Map created by a security expert. It shows the discrepancy in the FBI’s map of the alleged bomb.

 “The FBI map displays the pipe bomb’s location near the southern corner of the Capitol Hill Club,” but in reality, the source says, “the device was closer to the opposite side of the building.”

Last month, Darren Beattie of Revolver News reported, “The first bomb discovered was not an ‘RNC bomb’; it was discovered in a back alley by the Capitol Hill Club, which is adjacent to the RNC.”

But now, the anonymous security expert has created a series of highly detailed illustrations of the misleading mapping. The FBI map “misrepresents the dimensions of the RNC and Capitol Hill Club buildings, making it appear the bomb was closer to the RNC,” notes the expert.

In response to an email detailing these new allegations, an FBI spokesperson said the agency would not comment on this story and referred us to the FBI’s most recent statement, which reiterates that it is offering a $500,000 reward for information about the alleged bomber and that the bombs were “viable,” not fake, and that "a dedicated team” has spent “thousands of hours conducting interviews, reviewing physical and digital evidence, and assessing tips…”

The FBI has not released video evidence necessary for following the bomb suspect. “FBI has released video recordings of the alleged bomber walking through the alley,” notes the security expert, but “it has not made public a video of the perpetrator planting a bomb near the wooden fence. The FBI also has declined to release video that shows the alleged bomber placing a pipe bomb near the base of a bench at the DNC.”

Beyond the implausibility of the FBI’s official story about the location of the bomb is the suspicious behavior and employer of the person, Karlin Younger, who claims to have discovered the alleged bomb.

Photos and captions from security expert.

At the time, Younger worked for a security contractor to the FBI, Kelly first reported on X  and Substack in January. Several representatives of US government security agencies, including the Director of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), sit on the board of that security contractor called “FirstNet.”

Younger’s self-described reaction to what she believed was a bomb was unrealistically calm, notes the political security expert. “Younger never expressed any worry.” The security expert expressed suspicions about other facts that Younger alleged, including that she had walked past the alleged bomb three times without noticing it. Younger did not respond to Public’s requests for comment.

Read more

21 Feb 17:56

NEW YORK’S WAR ON BUSINESS. The political winds shift unpredictably, and no one can know that they’

by Glenn Reynolds

NEW YORK’S WAR ON BUSINESS. The political winds shift unpredictably, and no one can know that they’re safe, or will be in a few years. The only winning move is not to play, and I expect a lot of businesses will make that move. “Engoron has also decreed that Trump is not allowed to ‘do business’ in New York, which includes borrowing from his previous lenders to pay the money for this bond. In other words, Engoron has both levied an excessive fine against Trump, while simultaneously forbidding him from obtaining enough in loans to pay for the bond to protest the excessive fine. . . . Ah, but don’t worry about New York going after all the other big businessmen who routinely evaluate their properties at the outer limits of plausibility — Kathy Hochul admits that this is a political prosecution directed at one single political enemy and will never be used against anyone else.”

Related: The Fix Is In: The $455M ‘Poison Pill’ in Trump Judgment.

21 Feb 14:03

GOLLY! WHO EVER SUSPECTED?  Depopulation – the elephant in the eco-room.

by Sarah Hoyt


GOLLY! WHO EVER SUSPECTED?  Depopulation – the elephant in the eco-room.

21 Feb 03:24

The Current State of the Cannibal Feeding Frenzy

by Jack Wylder

-Jack here. This needed to be archived…

So now the Hugo controversy cannibal feeding frenzy gets even better, where it comes out that the King Chorf they’re gonna blame it all on to make him the sacrificial goat to take away their sins has sexual harassment allegations against him too. Because of course he does.

Okay, a few things to note for my amusement.

First off, I told you so. 😀

Next, we all know this bullshit ain’t the fault of a couple of administrators. Being censorious, manipulative assholes has been part of WorldCon’s basic culture for a long time.

A lot of libs are crying about this. Oh well. I tried to warn you.

With these email leaks, note how it was already enshrined in WorldCon’s culture how to investigate authors for political wrongthink so they could be punished or excluded. That didn’t suddenly spring into being for the first time when the Chinese came along. They already had the methodology to fuck authors with the wrong beliefs down because they’d been doing it for a long time.

A clique of connected, politically aligned insiders turned what was supposed to be an award representing all of fandom into their personal little playground, where they could be horrific bastards to anybody who wasn’t part of their clique to drive them out. I demonstrated that to the world years ago, and their response was to double down and make it even worse.

All that happened this time was our amateur statist authoritarians ran into their professional statist authoritarians. Hilarity ensued.

Fandom observers are currently recoiling in horror that the awards are A. given for politics and connection rather than the quality of work itself. B. don’t actually represent all of fandom, but rather one narrow clique of assholes who made it their own little playground while pretending it was still for everyone.

All I can say to those people is… well duh.

When me and my friends exposed that, you all plugged your ears and covered your eyes while chant screaming “RACISSSSS SEXISSSS” over and over again, until we just said fuck it and bailed, leaving you to spiral into your inevitable doom.

Now, a note on how their chosen sacrificial goat suddenly and reliably has sexual harassment allegations… from clear back in 2011!

When I upset the Chorfs, they immediately combed through everything I’ve ever done or said. The Guardian (which is allegedly a British newspaper) even crowdsourced a witch hunt to go through all of my books, internet posts, and blogging clear back to the dawn of the internet looking for some sins to cancel me with. Something. Anything… They came up with nada.

So instead they fabricated a bunch of nonsense about how I was a racist sexist monster trying to keep women and minorities out of publishing… by nominating a bunch of women and minorities for their sainted award? (which in the prior year had been won by 14 white liberals and 1 Asian liberal and so they hailed it as a “triumph of diversity”) Yeah, it doesn’t make a lot of sense, but it is about narrative not reality with these fucks.

When an outsider threatened their status quo, they went out of their way to malign and destroy me. They had coordinated press coverage in a dozen different entertainment websites and magazines all repeating this same narrative. And even though after I busted out the lawyers and threatened libel lawsuits and the chickenshit outfits like Entertainment Weekly put retractions on their dumb articles, that foul stuff lingers to this day. Anything I do I have to listen to that same tired shit from the stupid gullible types and malicious liars.

And they didn’t just do it to me. They harassed the shit out of all my friends and threatened the careers of everybody I got nominated. Then George Martin threw a party for everybody who caved in to the bullies.

Only when it comes to being bullies, the Chairman Xi is way better at it than you’ll ever be. 😀 (well, maybe not Mary 3 Names. I’m actually surprised the ChiComs didn’t offer her a job with the secret police)

But now, the anointed scape goat, who these same cadre of assholes have decided will take the blame for their entire rotten culture, has sexual harassment allegations from 14(!) years ago, and these allegations weren’t ever a secret? And that wasn’t an issue for you fuckers before now? Only now that it is convenient and you need a bad guy for your hubris it becomes a thing?

Lol. 😀 You dorks.

An amusing side note on that. Of the loudest puppy kickers who screamed about my racist misogyny a decade ago, I think about a dozen of them have since been canceled for being gropy, rapey, sleazy, perverts. Go figure. Nice bunch y’all got over there. 😀

So anyways, I’ve just got to say that this whole sham has been wonderful to watch, and I’m having a wonderful time enjoying the same cadre of vapid fucks who made excuses for why it was good to exclude authors for politics years ago, freaking out and clutching their pearls about how excluding authors for politics is super bad now that the shoe is on the other foot.

Especially as every time this is getting discussed somewhere there’s an exchange that goes like- “hey, isn’t this exactly what Larry Correia/Sad Puppies was talking about when–” “OMG NO THAT WAS TOTALLY DIFFERENT REEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!11”

You have destroyed your legacy. You are a lumbering corpse. Everybody knows it. Plus, your scam where you just hide from all criticism by crying sexist is played out. You are all trash.
You sowed the wind. Now reap that whirlwind. 😀

Update 2/21/24:

As I’m enjoying the utter destruction of the Hugos, my friend who likes to keep up on the Vile 666/Cameltoe crowd (dude must be a masochist) pointed something fun out to me this morning.

Normally, those douchebags spy on everything I write and whenever I say anything even sorta controversial they quote me for hate clicks from their audience of angry inbred dipshit communist troglodytes.

“Tellingly, neither Glyer nor Cammy have mentioned the reactions of the former Puppies to the news. And normally everything you guys say and do is fodder for their blogs.”


I wonder why. 😀

Meanwhile, John Scalzi is screaming at people that he will not “re-litigate Sad Puppies” and immediately blocking anyone who points out Larry Was Right.

Gee whiz. I wonder why? Could it be because those assholes were okay with this kinda shit when it was them and their publishing house benefiting from the political games, but when it’s done on behalf of the Chinese Communist Party THEN it’s bad?

I voted for the Leopards Eating People’s Faces Party, but I never thought the leopards would eat MY face!

Sorry, dummies, I tried to warn you.

The sad part is, the ChiComs just manipulated the game, business as usual for them, it’s nothing personal, because that’s what they do. The CHORFs were petty dicks while they did it. China just fucked authors. You assholes fucked authors and CELEBRATED it. Even the genocidal Chinese secret police have too much dignity to make wooden assholes. The Chinese had some politically unacceptable authors silenced. You fuckers gleefully lied to try and destroy careers of anyone who stepped even slightly out of line while crowing about how righteous you were even as your pet weirdo deviant perverts bullied and threatened women. I think I might actually respect Xi Jingping more than George R.R. Martin, which is a really low bar, but damn, you guys fucking suck.
The world knows Larry was right and I’m fucking loving it. Quote that, you gravy-blooded hypocrite sack of whale blubber. 😀

20 Feb 20:56

Monster Thread | FEC website shows massive epidemic of ghost donors.

by Kane
20 Feb 20:19

SAUSAGE-MAKING, COLORADO STYLE: Proposal from Democratic leaders ‘completely’ exempts lawmakers from

by Stephen Green

No accountability desired...

SAUSAGE-MAKING, COLORADO STYLE: Proposal from Democratic leaders ‘completely’ exempts lawmakers from open meeting laws. “Leaders of the Colorado General Assembly, along with several Democratic members, are seeking sweeping exemptions for lawmakers from the state’s open meetings law, which contains guarantees of transparency when officials craft policies.”

20 Feb 20:15

RIDICULOUS, GENDER IS SOCIALLY CONSTRUCTED: Neural network model identifies distinct brain organiza

by Glenn Reynolds
20 Feb 14:40

ONLY WHEN IT SERVES THE LEFT:  The Unstoppable Momentum of Outdated Science: 2024 Update.

by Sarah Hoyt
20 Feb 14:36

RULE OF LAW IN NEW YORK: “What is the ‘extraordinary, unusual circumstance’? Being Donald Trump?

by Glenn Reynolds

RULE OF LAW IN NEW YORK: “What is the ‘extraordinary, unusual circumstance’? Being Donald Trump? If so, she’s revealing that she believes the prosecutors went after the man, not the crime, an abhorrent abuse of power. So, whatever she thinks, she can’t mean to be saying that. What else is there?”

Nothing. We were told up front not to normalize Trump, and the Democrats have denormalized themselves in response.

From the comments: “I’ve always thought that Donald Trump was a bit of a clown. I largely still think that. So why are our rulers so hell bent on eliminating him that they are willing to throw away every last vestige of their credibility? It makes me wonder.”

Me too.

20 Feb 02:16

New Study: Climate Models Get Water Vapor Wildly Wrong – A ‘Major Gap In Our Understanding’

by Kenneth Richard

“Here, we have demonstrated a major discrepancy between observation-based and climate model-based historical trends in near-surface atmospheric water vapor in arid and semi-ari regions.” – Simpson et al., 2024

A new study published in PNAS has demonstrated, once again, that climate models fail to simulate what happens in the real world with regard to fundamental climate change variables like water vapor. This is a devastating finding, as water vapor is the most significant greenhouse gas due to its alleged “feedback” capacity, accelerating warming well beyond what CO2 is said to be capable of alone.

The authors do not understate the significance of this climate modeling failure.

“This represents a major gap in our understanding and in climate model fidelity that must be understood and fixed as soon as possible in order to provide reliable hydroclimate projections for arid/semi-arid regions in the coming decades.”

Per state-of-the-art climate models, specific humidity (SH) should increase as a consequence of CO2-induced global warming. But 40 years of observations (1980-) show no increasing SH trend over arid/semi-arid regions.

Per state-of-the-art climate models, relative humidity (RH) should decline slightly as a consequence of CO2-induced global warming. But 40 years of observations (1980-) show not a slight declining trend, but a declining trend that is “about an order of magnitude more than the models on average.” In other words, the climate models are wrong by a factor of 10.

Image Source: Simpson et al., 2024

A few years ago another study documented how wildly wrong 102 state-of-the-art climate models have been with regard to a 60-year temperature trends (1958-2017) over tropical regions.

The models say the tropical warming rate should have been nearly 3 times larger than the observations show – “0.389 ± 0.173°C per decade (models) and 0.142 ± 0.115°C per decade (observed)” – due to the assumed feedback response to CO2 forcing over warm regions. Instead, there is a “clear and significant tendency on the part of the models to overstate warming.”

These authors also do not understate the significance of this modeling failure. Climate models are not even realistic.

“Instead, we observe a discrepancy across all runs of all models, taking the form of a warming bias at a sufficiently strong rate as to reject the hypothesis that the models are realistic.”

“[T]he major hypothesis in contemporary climate models, namely, the theoretically based negative lapse rate feedback response to increasing greenhouse gases in the tropical atmosphere, is incorrect.”

There may be no other branch of physical science with model-observation discrepancies (failures) this profound, this fundamental.

Image Source: McKitrick and Christy, 2018
19 Feb 17:11

BETTY VAN PATTER COULD NOT BE REACHED FOR COMMENT:  Uh … I’m not sure that we should be thrilled

by Gail Heriot

BETTY VAN PATTER COULD NOT BE REACHED FOR COMMENT:  Uh … I’m not sure that we should be thrilled by this:  On Sunday, Assemblymember Mia Bonta (wife the the Attorney General and co-sponsor of ACA7) announced on Twitter/X that $1,250,000 of taxpayer money was going to the Huey P. Newton Foundation.

Seriously?  You mean the Huey P. Newton who repeatedly stabbed Odell Lee with a steak knife?  The Huey P. Newton who killed Oakland police officer John Frey and then bragged about it?  The one who almost certainly ordered the murder of Panther bookkeeper Betty van Patter, whose badly beaten body washed up on a San Francisco Bay beach five weeks later?  Is that the guy we’re talking about?

Are we talking about the one who “allegedly” shot 17-year-old Kathleen Smith, who lay in a coma for three months before dying of her wound?  Note the only reason I use the word “alleged” is that Newton’s Panther thugs tried to kill the eyewitness, which caused the eyewitness to refuse to testify.

Oh … and is this the same Huey P. Newton who repeatedly raped Erika Huggins and threatened to harm her children if she spoke up?  Just asking …

This kind of thing makes me sick.  I can’t understand what makes people worship thugs.

19 Feb 03:03

Black tenured Harvard professor Dr. Roland Fryer had his career destroyed by Claudine Gay.

by Kane
19 Feb 01:15

State Department Threatens Congress Over Censorship Programs

by Matt Taibbi

The politicians are not in charge.

“You can look, but don’t touch!”

The State Department is so unhappy a newspaper published details about where it’s been spending your taxes, it’s threatened to only show a congressional committee its records in camera until it gets a “better understanding of how the Committee will utilize this sensitive information.” Essentially, Tony Blinken is threatening to take his transparency ball home unless details about what censorship programs he’s sponsoring stop appearing in papers like the Washington Examiner:

The State Department tells Congress, which controls its funding, that it will only disclose where it spent our money “in camera”

A year ago the Examiner published “Disinformation, Inc.”, a series by investigative reporter Gabe Kaminsky describing how the State Department was backing a UK-based agency that creates digital blacklists for disfavored media outlets. Your taxes helped fund the Global Disinformation Index, or GDI, which proudly touts among its services an Orwellian horror called the Dynamic Exclusion List, a digital time-out corner where at least 2,000 websites were put on blast as unsuitable for advertising, “thus disrupting the ad-funded disinformation business model.”

The culprit was the Global Engagement Center, a little-known State Department entity created in Barack Obama’s last year in office and a surprise focus of Twitter Files reporting. The GEC grew out of a counter-terrorism agency called the CSCC and has a mission to “counter” any messaging, foreign or domestic as it turns out, that they see as “undermining or influencing the policies, security, or stability of the United States.” The GEC-funded GDI rated ten conservative sites as most “risky” and put the Examiner on its “exclusion” list, while its ten sites rated at the “lowest level of disinformation” included Buzzfeed, which famously published the Steele Dossier knowing it contained errors and is now out of business.

In an effort to find out what other ventures GEC was funding — an absurd 36 of 39 2018 contractors were redacted even in an Inspector General’s report — the House Small Business Committee wrote the State Department last June asking for basic information about where the public’s money was being spent. State and GEC stalled until December 3 of last year, when it finally produced a partial list of recipients. Although House Republicans asked for an “unredacted list of all GEC grant recipients and associated award numbers” from 2019 through the current year, the list the Committee received was missing “dozens” of contractors, including some listed on

The Examiner and Kaminsky subsequently wrote an article slamming GEC for sending “incomplete” records of the censorship investigation, in the process including links to a “snippet” of the GEC’s contractors:

In response to the outrage of this disclosure, the State Department sent its letter threatening in camera sessions until it gets a better “understanding” of how the Committee will use its “sensitive” information. That’s Beltway-ese for “We wouldn’t mind knowing the Examiner’s sources.”

About that: the State letter wrote that the Examiner’s records were “reportedly obtained from the Committee,” and included a footnote and a link to a Kaminsky story, implying that the Examiner reported that it got the records from the Committee. But the paper said nothing about the source of the documents, which as anyone who’s ever covered these types of stories knows, could have come from any number of places. It’s a small but revealing detail about current petulance levels at State.

“Anti-disinformation” work is not exactly hypersonic missile construction. There’s no legitimate reason for it to be kept from the public, especially since it’s increasingly clear its programs target American media companies and American media consumers, seemingly in violation of the State Department’s mission. The requested information is also not classified, making the delays and tantrums more ridiculous.

There are simply too many agencies that have adopted the attitude that the entire federal government is one giant intelligence service, entitled to secret budgeting and an oversight-free existence. They need pushback on this score and have at last started to get it. Thanks in significant part to the Examiner as well as lawsuits by The Federalist, Daily Wire, and Consortium News, the latest National Defense Authorization Act included for the first time a provision banning the Pentagon from using “any advertiser for recruitment that uses biased censorship entities like NewsGuard and GDI,” as a congressional spokesperson put it in December. We’ll see how it pans out, but congress withholding money for domestic spy programs is at least a possible solution, now in play.

Perhaps it’s time for the State Department to receive a similar wake-up call. If GEC wants to put conditions on disclosure, can we put conditions on paying taxes? SMH, SMH…

18 Feb 15:37

The 22-Year-Old Who Unlocked the Secrets of Ancient Rome

by Julia Steinberg
Photo illustration of Luke Farritor with the Herculaneum papyri scrolls. (Images courtesy of Luke Farritor and Vesuvius Challenge)

While driving to his SpaceX internship in Texas in March 2023, 22-year-old Luke Farritor was listening to a podcast about a niche use of artificial intelligence: deciphering ancient scrolls. Then, he heard about a new competition—called the Vesuvius Challenge—being offered to the first person who could use AI to decode an ancient scroll from the ruins near Pompeii

The prize? One million dollars. And anyone with a laptop could compete. 

Farritor, then enrolled as a computer science major at the University of Nebraska, learned Latin as a kid and used to spend hours in history museums, but he never considered the classics an especially lucrative pursuit. That was until he heard about the Vesuvius Challenge. 

“I got home that day and just got going and never stopped,” Farritor told me. 

The competition, organized by Silicon Valley entrepreneurs Nat Friedman and Daniel Gross, and Dr. Brent Seales, a computer science professor at the University of Kentucky, launched on the Ides of March last year. Contestants had until the end of 2023 to decipher one of around 1,000 Herculaneum Papyri scrolls recovered from the library of the Villa dei Papyri, which was decimated by the same 79 CE eruption of Mount Vesuvius that froze the city of Pompeii in time. Discovered in the eighteenth century, the excavated scrolls have been sitting in museums and universities around Europe, unable to be touched “without them turning to ash,” Farritor said. 

Left: The scroll read by the winners. Right: Result of an attempt to physically unroll a scroll. (Vesuvius Challenge)

The materials from what was once one of the largest libraries in the ancient world, attached to a villa belonging to Julius Caesar’s father-in-law, have long had potential to reshape our knowledge of ancient history. Historian Garrett Ryan wrote that the recovered scrolls “will transform our knowledge of classical life and literature on a scale not seen since the Renaissance.” Before the Vesuvius Challenge, little was known about who wrote the scrolls or what they said.

Last week, Farritor was announced as one of the winners, receiving more than $250,000 in prize money, and was coolheaded about the news. When I asked him how he felt about the prize, he said he was “relieved.” The contest also landed Farritor a job: he has dropped out of college and now works for Friedman, “mostly doing investing stuff.”

Farritor explained to me that his AI program took the image of the scroll and chopped it up into “tiny bits of 100 pixels by 100 pixels. And then the machine learning algorithm looks at each one and it asks itself, do I think there’s ink here? Or do I think there’s no ink here?” By compiling these tiles, the AI program can do what was impossible only a few years ago: read the scroll. 

The Greek characters πορφύραc, revealed as the word purple by Luke Farritor. (Vesuvius Challenge)

In October, seven months after he’d started his work, Farritor won the $40,000 First Letters Prize for finding ten characters in a small area of a scroll—the word “ΠΟΡΦΥΡΑϹ,” used in ancient times to indicate purple dye or purple cloths. In Roman times, purple was a symbol of high status and imperial authority because of its scarcity

Weeks later, Youssef Nader, an Egyptian living in Berlin, independently found the same word. The two teamed up with Swiss student Julian Schilliger, whose work has enabled 3D mapping of the scrolls, and on February 5, the three students were announced as winners of the $700,000 top prize for deciphering five percent of the scroll. 

The deciphered text was an Epicurean work of criticism, likely by the scholar Philodemus, who lived in the first century BCE. In it, Philodemus criticizes the Stoics, who, he writes, “have nothing to say about pleasure.” As the competition organizers note, this line “seems familiar to us, and we can’t escape the feeling that the first text we’ve uncovered is a 2000-year-old blog post about how to enjoy life.”

Some of the lines of text extracted from the scroll by Luke Farritor. (Vesuvius Challenge)

Farritor hopes that his team’s code can be used to read the remaining 95 percent of this scroll as well as the other manuscripts from the Herculaneum Papyri. On top of the scrolls discovered so far, experts believe many more remain unexcavated. “There are hundreds of these scrolls that we want to scan and read,” Farritor said. “And then there’s probably hundreds more that are still there.” 

The Vesuvius Challenge will continue to incentivize further work into reading the scrolls—and redefining what we know about the ancient world—using checks from wealthy donors, including more than $2 million from the Musk Foundation. The next challenge is to read 90 percent of four scrolls.

Farritor predicts that reading these ancient scrolls “will completely upend our understanding of the ancient world. There’s just so much work that was lost.” At present, much of our understanding of ancient Rome comes from gluing together “guesses on other guesses.” To have access to an ancient library is “going to rewrite a lot of the assumptions we have,” he added. 

For now, Farritor and his team have their work cut out for them: “All of our efforts are going to be just focused on reading the rest of this library.” 

Read Julia Steinberg’s last article for The Free Press, a look at Silicon Valley’s e/acc evangelists, “Move Fast and Make Things.” And follow her on X @Juliaonatroika.

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16 Feb 20:46

TOTALLY LEGIT: Biden’s DOJ Arrests Former FBI Informant Who Alleged Burisma Biden Bribes, and I Ha

by Stephen Green
16 Feb 20:13

Many Reporters Paid for Covering the Russiagate Story

by Matt Taibbi
Christopher Steele’s reports burned many reporters, who in turn burned those who got it right.

Three years ago, on February 25th, 2021, Aaron Maté at RealClearInvestigations ran “In Final Days, Trump Gave Up on Forcing Release of Russiagate Files, Nunes Prober Says.” Extensively quoting former Principal Deputy to the Acting Director of National Intelligence Kash Patel, Aaron wrote a section on “Assessing the ‘Intelligence Community Assessment,’” detailing a lot of the same story Michael Shellenberger, Alexandra Gutentag and I ran in Public and Racket Thursday. Describing a 2018 House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) report on the subject, Aaron wrote:

The March 2018 House report found that the production of the ICA “deviated from established CIA practice.” And the core judgment that Putin sought to help Trump, the House report found, resulted from “significant intelligence tradecraft failings that undermine confidence in the ICA judgments.”

Many of us who followed this story — a number of reporters on both sides of the aisle did so obsessively — have long had a good idea about the general direction of that House investigation. The tale of improper CIA and FBI surveillance mixed with manufactured intelligence has been in the ether since late 2017 and early 2018.

I’ll list just a few of the names who reported stories in this direction over the years, in some cases day after day on broadcast shows. An attentive reader will notice nearly everyone on the list has been denounced at some point by the mainstream commentators who got this story horribly wrong. Aaron, considered a traitor by former mainstream colleagues, faced pressure from staff at The Nation, was denounced by The Guardian as part of a “network of conspiracy theorists,” and failed to gain support from any major media outlet or press advocacy organization when the FBI passed on an outrageous request from Ukrainian secret services to remove him from Twitter.

Others who got this story right but were singled out for dismissal or ridicule include:

  • former CIA officer Ray McGovern, who was called “fringe” and “conspiracy-mongering” by Max Boot, a member of the illustrious club of pundits who botched both the Steele dossier and Iraqi WMD stories;

  • former NYPD officer and Secret Service agent Dan Bongino, who has been on this subject for years and was called a “misinformation superspreader” by the New York Times after the 2020 election;

  • Intercept founder Glenn Greenwald, denounced as a pathological bigot for dissenting on Trump-Russia themes, and ultimately forced out of his own publication for writing critically of Hunter Biden and Burisma without adequately addressing the question of “Russia’s hand”;

  • former CIA operative Larry Johnson, who said years ago that the surveillance campaign began with the GCHQ, Britain’s version of the NSA, in 2015 and was among the first to say publicly what our source just told us, that there is intelligence suggesting Maltese professor and supposed Russian asset Joseph Mifsud was British intelligence. He’s naturally been denounced as a “conspiracy theorist”;

  • Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo, declared “bonkers” by the Daily Beast, perhaps the most aggressive promoter of the “collusion” theory and one of the most dependable producers of factually dubious stories on this subject in the mainstream press landscape;

  • author Lee Smith, the major chronicler of the HPSCI work (more to come on this), who naturally was ripped for “conspiracy theory” for publishing a book on the subject;

  • Pulitzer-winner Jeff Gerth, who wrote a 24,000-word deconstruction of Trump-Russia coverage in the Columbia Journalism Review that included a quote from Bob Woodward saying the media needed to “walk down the painful road of introspection.” He was called a “Trump-Russia denialist” who “can’t handle the truth,” by David Corn of Mother Jones, one of the first people to publish the phony Steele-blackmail story;

  • another RealClear writer, Paul Sperry, who wrote about CIA chief John Brennan overruling dissent to create the 2017 Intelligence Community Assessment. Sperry popped up in the Twitter Files when the office of California congressman Adam Schiff, who infamously said he had “more than circumstantial” evidence of collusion, asked to have Sperry banned;

  • Professor Margot Cleveland of The Federalist and Chuck Ross of the Daily Signal, who both got this right and were both marked “unreliable” by Pentagon-funded NewsGuard;

  • former The Hill and current JustTheNews writer John Solomon, who published a significant amount of the key documents in this matter, and was the subject of a poisonous media campaign that crested particularly during the period of the first Trump impeachment;

  • citizen investigators like the Racket-profiled “Sleuth’s Corner” of @Walkafyre, @TECHNO_FOG, @RyanM58699717, @climateaudit, @FOOL_NELSON, and @Hmmm57474203. This group who uncovered the name of the “primary sub-source” of famed British ex-spy Christopher Steele, Igor Danchenko, not only went roundly uncredited, but was immediately accused in the New York Times of putting Danchenko “in Russia’s sights” by Virginia Senator Mark Warner.

There are countless others. Even I took more than one whack at this material in the past, among other things listing episodes involving illegal classified leaks as a way of focusing attention on intelligence abuses surrounding the Trump-Russia scandal. I heard the gist of this week’s story six years ago, but didn’t have the details and the multiple people willing to be sources I needed to put something in print. That changed when Michael, Alexandra, and Public got their scoop a few weeks ago.

Anyone can go back and read the reports of the figures listed above and piece together pretty much the whole story we ran this week, minus a few conspicuous details. We learned there were 26 surveillance targets among Trump’s aides and associates in the 2016 campaign year, and we were able to use a number of key quotes, including the internal intelligence community analysis that Russia wasn’t desperate to avoid a Hillary Clinton presidency at all, but saw her as “manageable and reflecting continuity” and a “relationship they were comfortable with.”

These details, along with things like the assertion that the surveillance had “nothing to do with our relationship with Russia” and was “just leveraging capabilities to undermine a rookie unprepared Trump campaign,” are important and move the story forward. The quotes about Russia’s attitude toward Hillary in particular could be impactful in helping undo one of the last surviving Russiagate myths.

Still, it’s important to make clear that the substance of these pieces was already out thanks to the people listed above, along with others (Joseph Wulfsohn? Rich Lowry? Caitlin Johnstone?) I may have neglected to mention. The novelty with our series is that headline-ready specifics from still-classified reports do not often get out in a way that’s reportable. And far from searching for credit, the goal in jumping on TV shows and podcasts and trying to make noise with these stories is to inspire or shame (either will do) other reporters to build on these articles, as we built on eight years of past reports.

A last note on the media angle. Amid the initial rush of Trump-Russia mania, a series of reports came out that featured tantalizing details. One was Jane Mayer’s March 2018 “Christopher Steele, The Man Behind the Dossier,” which told us about a “stream of illicit communications between Trump’s team and Moscow that had been intercepted” by the GCHQ. The New Yorker piece asserted GCHQ chief Robert Hannigan flew to Washington to brief John Brennan about these details. Brennan already co-signed that story in May of 2017, when he testified in Congress, saying he had been “aware of intelligence and information about contacts between Russian officials and U.S. persons that raised concerns” that those people “were cooperating with the Russians,” and that this “served as the basis for the FBI investigation to determine whether such collusion… occurred.” The Guardian’s British Spies Were First to Spot Trump Team’s Links With Russia” also told this same basic story.

There’s considerable overlap between those accounts, the ones we just published, and the reports of the people listed above. In each place you find the elements of very early intercepts of Trump team conversations captured abroad. I think I speak for everyone on the above list when I say I’d be thrilled if Brennan or Hannigan or whoever would come forward and show us what those “illicit communications” were, or what that “intelligence… that raised concerns” was. If there’s proof all of this was legitimate, we all need to see it.

16 Feb 15:30

“How in the Hell Dare He Raise That?” Biden Faces a Question of his Own Making

by jonathanturley

Below is a slightly expanded version of my New York Post column on the report that President Joe Biden, not Special Counsel Robert Hur, raised the death of Beau Biden during his interview. The report, now confirmed by various media outlets, suggests that the President lied to the press and the public in his controversial press conference after the release of the Special Counsel’s findings.

Here is the column:

In his press conference following the Special Counsel report on his retention of classified documents, President Joe Biden lashed out at Special Counsel Robert Hur over allegations that he has such “diminished faculties” that it would be difficult to criminally charge him. One of the key and scripted moments was Biden angrily denouncing Hur for raising the death of his son. The “how dare you” moment was eagerly re-played by many in the media who piled on the next day in calling the question outrageous, callous, and unprofessional. Now, however, NBC is reporting that it was not Hur but Biden himself who raised the death of his son.

In the disastrous press conference, Biden quickly went on the attack and asked “How in the hell dare he raise that?” Frankly, when I was asked the question I thought to myself it wasn’t any of their damn business.”

The NBC sources suggest that this was a knowingly false claim by the President and that he was the one who raised his son’s death.

If it is true, this is not something that the White House can simply correct with a few brackets rewrites.  The corrected version would read “How in the hell [could I] raise that. When I [raised] the question I thought to myself it wasn’t any of their damn business.”

It would make referencing recent conversations with dead foreign leaders look like relative moments of clarity.

While we will have to await the spin, the report (if true) suggests that the President is either mentally diminished or openly deceptive in such moments. The latter seems most likely. Biden clearly went to the podium intending to make this attack on Hur. That means that it was likely vetted by his staff.

Moreover, the press conference was inundated by false claims from the President. He suggested that the Special Counsel did not find willful retention of material. He not only did so but repeatedly said so in the report. He claimed that he did not show classified material to third parties.  Not only did the Special Counsel say that he did, but there is a witness to that fact. He said that he kept material in locked drawers or drawers capable of being locked.  The Special Counsel showed actual pictures of ripped boxes holding such material in his garage.

Once again, it is hard to see how these false claims were made without the prior review of Biden’s staff. The President famously works off teleprompters and scripts.  The staff also did not correct the record on any of these false claims immediately after the press conference despite being demonstrably untrue.

Ironically, the White House may have to claim that the President was simply confused in a press conference called to deny such chronic confusion. It has already had to spin out of the President confusing the presidents of Egypt and Mexico in the same press conference.

Yet, in support of the diminished capacity defense, the President continues to make false claims about his son Beau, including repeated claims that Beau died in the Iraq War.  He actually died at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland from glioblastoma, the most prevalent form of brain cancer, in May 2015  — six years after he returned from Iraq.

Of course, an enabling media quickly took the lead from the White House and lashed out at Hur. Democratic Rep. Ro Khanna of California objected “I do think the special counsel’s gratuitous mention of Beau Biden, whatever you think of the rest, but to talk about someone’s dead son and to put that in … what is this country coming to that we’re politicizing that?”

In the media, there was outrage. MSNBC’s Jennifer Palmieri asked:

“Why was the special counsel asking him about Beau’s death, right? There is no legitimate answer for why he would do that, and in an interview that happened in October, months and months and months after the special counsel began their work. Unless they were trying to trip him up, rattle him, gain oppo, right? I mean, I think it is just that, the fundamental question of, why would you ask him about Beau’s death, raises the question about the legitimacy of the entire line of questioning,”

MSNBC host Al Sharpton joined the chorus of objections and Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian, told MSNBC it was “beyond the pale.” . Likewise, former Obama Attorney General Eric Holder was positively irate:

“[T]he larger question is, why the hell are you asking that question? What does that have to do with the retention of classified documents? I’d like to think that at best, this prosecutor was extremely naive, a rube perhaps. He’s a Republican appointee, and he’s thinking, I want to have a life beyond what I’m saying in connection with this investigation. And that might have shaded what he put in the report.”

The First Lady was reportedly used by the campaign to raise money off of the outrage, stating “I hope you can imagine how it felt to read that attack — not just as Joe’s wife, but as Beau’s mother.”

She added “[w]e should give everyone grace, and I can’t imagine someone would try to use our son’s death to score political points.” However, if these reports are true, it was the President who interjected the death of his son into the interview.

The use of the White House to spread false claims about these investigations is a highly precarious practice. It can be the thing that impeachments are made off.  Ian Sams, spokesman for the White House Counsel’s Office, has been especially aggressive in attacking critics of the President and spinning these reports. He was recently confronted about false claims in connection to the Hur report.

The use of White House staff to carry out an alleged disinformation campaign can raise alleged violations of the public trust and misuse of federal staff and resources. Such allegations have been included in past articles of impeachment and would be most serious in relation to the ongoing investigation into influence peddling by the Biden family. In the. most recent controversy, the aggressive effort of the White House Counsel’s office to shape the coverage led to a rare rebuke from the White House Correspondents Association.

The coordinated campaigns can also bootstrap earlier alleged violations into Biden’s presidency. For example, the House is pursuing allegations of corruption stemming from Biden’s time as Vice President and the period in which he was a private citizen before running in 2016. Using federal personnel like Sams to spread or repeat false claims could make such allegations “evergreen” in tying them to contemporary ‘in office” conduct.

In other words, the White House has to be careful that the effort to spin out of scandal only results in spinning into an impeachment.



16 Feb 15:26

Marjorie Taylor Greene questions timing of charges for ex-FBI informant: 'What changed'?

by Ben Whedon
Smirnov was arrested at the Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas on Thursday.
16 Feb 15:25

Bobulinski testified Biden was involved in son’s business, shielded by ‘plausible deniability’

by Steven Richards
A key figure in Hunter Biden's early relationship with CEFC China Energy, Bobulinski claims he met with Joe Biden and discussed business, contradicting the Bidens' longstanding assertions.
16 Feb 14:41


by Glenn Reynolds

IF THERE WERE A PILL THAT DID THIS MUCH FOR YOU, EVERYONE WOULD TAKE IT: Review of studies confirms exercise alleviates depression.

16 Feb 14:41

CULTURE OF CORRUPTION: John Podesta Was Behind Biden’s Decision To Pause Natural Gas Exports. His

by Glenn Reynolds
16 Feb 14:40


by Sarah Hoyt



16 Feb 03:16

Special counsel charges ex-FBI informant with lying about Hunter Biden's dealings with Burisma

by Ben Whedon

Legit or just taking out enemies of the government party?

Authorities detained Smirnov at Harry Reid International Airport on Thursday. The allegations against Smirnov call into question an FBI-1023 document that detailed bribery allegations against President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden.