Composition VIII, Wassily Kandinsky, 1923
Composition VIIIby Wassily Kandinsky, 1923. Photo credit: Wassily Kandinsky / WikiArt (Public Domain)

A ship wrecks a bridge, a con man hawks a Bible, a Kennedy scores some cash…

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What a week! (I hasten to add that, the way things are going, that expression is becoming a bromide.) 


The news of Kate Middleton’s cancer called attention to the scary fact that more and more young people all around the world are getting cancer early; that is, before the age of 50.

Between 1990 and 2019, early onset cases increased by 79 percent.  

“People born in 1990 have over double the risk of getting colon cancer compared to those born in 1950. And quadruple the risk of getting rectal cancer,” said one oncologist.

Why? What changed? Doctors wondering what to blame suspect changes in environment and lifestyle. I can’t help wondering if micro and nano plastics have something to do with it. (Go here, here, and here to learn more about this possibility.)


Israel is using a mix of facial recognition technologies in Gaza, the West Bank, and elsewhere that calls up memories of the classic novel 1984.   

Of course, like most such things, this technology is a double-edged sword. By accurately identifying those sought for terrorism and other crimes, it can not only bring wrong-doers to justice but also spare those who might otherwise be wrongly accused. On the other hand, it is not perfect, and can make mistakes. Plus, who exactly is a “terrorist” or deemed problematic is a highly subjective determination. 

Palestinian poet Mosab Abu Toha was identified by this technology as having an association with Hamas. He was beaten and interrogated for two days before being let go without any explanation other than, “It was a mistake.”

The endless possibilities for creating a surveillance society must be contemplated. Imagine Iran getting its hands on the software and using it to identify gay people, unmarried people who are together, anyone suspected of being a dissident or insufficiently devout. 

Among many things that struck me was a confusing statement about the use of Google Photos in surveillance sweeps by the Israeli military. 

The New York Times wrote

Israeli officers used Google Photos, the free photo sharing and storage service from Google, three intelligence officers said. By uploading a database of known persons to Google Photos, Israeli officers could use the service’s photo search function to identify people.

Google’s ability to match faces and identify people even with only a small portion of their face visible was superior to other technology, one officer said. 

But Google’s spokesperson made the claim that its product “does not provide identities for unknown people in photographs.”

So which is true? The article doesn’t sort that out  

As troubling as these developments are, I found it reassuring that a number of Israeli intelligence officers took the risk of expressing their concerns about the practice to the Times. 


As you know, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. — whose top donor to date just happens to also be Donald Trump’s top donor — has announced his running mate: lawyer and tech entrepreneur Nicole Shanahan. Kennedy, who is polling around 12 percent according to some surveys, has spoken often about bringing accountability and integrity to government. He has lamented the power of big corporations and the wealthy. So it’s striking that his veep choice is a billionaire-ish tech divorcee who previously donated $4 million to a PAC supporting his bid. 

Related: Timothy Mellon and the Political Peril of Dynastic Wealth

Now that Shanahan is on the ticket, she’s allowed to give unlimited amounts directly to the official campaign. And almost certainly will, turbocharging his effort.

The seemingly mixed-message sent by his choice of a mega-rich running mate cuts hard against his ostensible core appeal to anti-elite Americans. As for Kennedy’s unrelenting anti-vaccine stance — which comes across as anti-science in the extreme, and which I’ve written about numerous times — take a closer look at his running mate’s record as a deep-pocketed philanthropist. Her largess has been almost entirely given to establishment science, which Kennedy and many of his supporters actively undermine. 

For these and many other reasons, he’s probably the first candidate ever to be almost unanimously opposed by his entire extended family. 

Yet he managed a Trumpian pivot — spinning his clan’s very public appearance at the White House to endorse Biden in such a way as to completely deny the reality of why they were there or what it meant:

They look very happy in that photograph and, you know, it’s very exhilarating… It’s intoxicating being in the White House, and I’m glad I got to — I played a role, I think, in facilitating that visit to the White House and bringing them all such happiness, so I’m happy about that. (Emphasis Added)

Despite his sheer perfidious chutzpah in almost every matter, Kennedy attracts a grab bag of people distressed, in some cases legitimately, about a broad range of matters. Talking to them, you discover that many know little about Kennedy’s actual positions, or their deadly consequences. But Kennedy’s cognitive dissonance seems to be shared by plenty of his advocates.

Related: If Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Were President, How Safe Would We Be? 

Whatever Kennedy is selling, it’s some kind of potion, sold wholesale to the aggrieved.


Elon Musk pivoted to China because it got him cheap workers who could be forced to work extremely long hours, plus subsidies and other forms of support from the government. Yet, according to a new article, China has beaten Musk at his game. 

China used his huge factory in Shanghai to learn how to make electric vehicles, and now his own company has been surpassed in sales by a Chinese firm. Musk is upset, and, seemingly reversing himself as he does so often, thinks that trade barriers are needed to protect American — i.e., his own — interests against Chinese domination of the auto industry. 

Oh. And what line is he pushing politically in his constant social media criticism of the current US administration — which is a big customer of his? I can’t remember. I need to check what day it is. 

Musk, whose main claim to fame as owner of X is his “commitment to free speech,” is busy suing everyone whose speech he doesn’t like. This includes a group whose report found that hate speech had surged since he took over what was previously known as Twitter. A judge, ruling against him, slammed him for being anti-free speech. 


And speaking of people who use ownership of a social media platform for selfish and nefarious purposes, Donald the Magnificent — on his way to the poor house, if not the Big House, while peddling sneakers and the Bible — has gotten the good news that his shaky Truth Social, which never generates a profit, began publicly trading with the ticker label DJT and an absolutely bonkers valuation of $11 billion. 

In some ways, the stock market is as nutty as he is — and so the evil wizard of nonsense lives on, most likely, to bamboozle another day or year or decade. If I knew anything about stock trading, I’d short DJT, as those in the know say it’s a pure meme stock with about as much inherent value as GameStop.


Efforts by foreign governments to influence American politics and perceptions — and, undoubtedly, policy — continue apace. The most recent example is Qatar, which put big money into the right-wing news outfit Newsmax. People who work there say they were asked to go easy on the country and its ruling family in their coverage. 


If you thought all we had to deal with in the presidential election was the wild card factors of RFK Jr. and No Labels, now there’s a candidate trying to get on ballots as “Literally Anybody Else.” To ensure this gambit worked, the man — an Army veteran and Texan school teacher named Dustin Ebey — has legally changed his name to Literally Anybody Else. What??!! 

It strikes me that someone trying to muck up the election even more than it already is — a wealthy person or interest — could start a PAC to fund LAE, ensuring “he” got on the ballot in as many states as possible. Were that to work, imagine how many people would tick that box. 


Right after the tragic accident in Baltimore Harbor, where a giant container ship lost power and drifted into the Francis Scott Key Bridge, taking it down, the right wing was on social media pushing a range of theories and — what a surprise — blaming Democrats. Moreover, at least one influencer floated the idea that “woke” employment practices by the shipping company were to blame. 

Now, however, other factors are emerging, like problems with the construction practices on the bridge itself, and the strong possibility that the use of unregulated “dirty fuels” (i.e., contaminated fuels) had a role in the ship’s malfunctioning. 

While the GOP is quick to assign blame (they almost never remediate the actual problem, because blame is perfect for igniting viral social media fires), they regularly oppose the sort of government oversight and regulation that might prevent these types of catastrophes.  

As for blaming “woke” employment practices, let’s take a look at who died in the tragedy. Here’s a choice bit from The Washington Post

The bodies of Alejandro Hernandez Fuentes, 35, and Dorlian Ronial Castillo Cabrera, 26, were recovered from a red pickup truck submerged in the river, authorities said Wednesday. Recovery efforts were later suspended when conditions made it too difficult for divers to safely navigate the wreckage.  

Early Tuesday morning, a panicked voice awoke Maritza Guzman de Villatoro. A bridge in Baltimore had collapsed, her daughter shouted. A familiar pit soon formed in her stomach.

A year ago, a speeding car plowed between highway barriers on the same Baltimore highway and killed six workers, including Villatoro’s husband and brother-in-law. That crash along Interstate 695 was about 20 miles from the bridge. Now, a massive ship stacked with containers had crashed into the Francis Scott Key Bridge, causing its collapse. Six workers, all native to Latin America, were lost in the Patapsco River and presumed dead.

One of the victims, Miguel Luna, came from the same area in El Salvador as Villatoro and her husband, near the southeastern city of Usulutan, she said.

“We leave with so many dreams,” she said, her voice trembling. “Here, immigrants have the hardest times and do the hardest jobs, and then we’re the first to break.”


A growing phenomenon: Leverage every unfortunate incident for political outrage. The other day I saw on X/Twitter — promoted by Musk to be seen by as many people as possible — a woman describing a man changing next to her in the women’s locker room at her club.  She said she complained and was told there was nothing they could do about that. 

Since then, she has gone on a crusade against “woke.” It then occurred to me that in all probability, most women have not experienced this, that the people at the club were not properly trained on how to handle it, and that it was more an aberration than the rule. 

Then I looked her up, and the world would be shocked to find she is… a GOP official. Who works in publicity at a firearms company. Nuff said. This is exactly what will rev up enough underinformed people who can’t distinguish between the kinds of unpleasant random things that everyone faces from time to time and a genuine national crisis — to vote for fascism and authoritarianism. 

And by the way, the original posting was pushed at me in my X feed. That means Musk is using his platform to favor a certain political slant and seeking to influence elections. 


And on Friday morning, Musk served up in my feed a posting from a previously unknown person who is now a major influencer by the name of Matt Wallace, claiming he is going to “expose the truth” about Taylor Swift. “What Taylor Swift had to do to get famous will shock you,” he wrote.  

In the sexual assault case against Sean “Diddy” Combs, the attorney for a plaintiff added deep-pocketed Universal Music and its CEO, Lucian Grainge. 

Wallace rushed to post photos of Swift with Grainge, with the caption:

Have you ever wondered why Taylor Swift suddenly started appearing everywhere? It wasn’t a coincidence! The CEO of the music group she partnered with was just named in the Diddy sexual abuse lawsuit.

But it’s perfectly normal for stars to pose with an executive of their music label. Universal has lashed out at the attorney as reckless in claiming that the company somehow aided and abetted Combs.  

Wallace then actually said, “We cannot allow the world to be run by evil individuals” — a group that to him does not include Donald Trump, various racists and antisemites, Vladimir Putin, and so forth. He did not mention Trump’s relationship with Jeffrey Epstein, because, well, “selective facts.”


And finally: Someone’s ring camera spotted a mountain lion walking along a fence, and the South San Francisco Police posted a warning to avoid the wild animals (males can weigh up to 220 lbs.). 

They later had to correct that — it was just a large house cat. 

I post this correction before this is weaponized and yet another “crisis” somehow blamed on Joe Biden. 


  • Russ Baker

    Russ Baker is Editor-in-Chief of WhoWhatWhy. He is an award-winning investigative journalist who specializes in exploring power dynamics behind major events.

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