Links 3/11/2022

Dear patient readers,

Lambert and I, and many readers, agree that Ukraine has prompted the worst informational environment ever. We hope readers will collaborate in mitigating the fog of war — both real fog and stage fog — in comments. None of us need more cheerleading and link-free repetition of memes; there are platforms for that. Low-value, link-free pom pom-wavers will be summarily whacked.

And for those who are new here, this is not a mere polite request. We have written site Policies and those who comment have accepted those terms. To prevent having to resort to the nuclear option of shutting comments down entirely until more sanity prevails, as we did during the 2015 Greek bailout negotiations and shortly after the 2020 election, we are going to be ruthless about moderating and blacklisting offenders.

P.S. Also, before further stressing our already stressed moderators, read our site policies:

Please do not write us to ask why a comment has not appeared. We do not have the bandwidth to investigate and reply. Using the comments section to complain about moderation decisions/tripwires earns that commenter troll points. Please don’t do it. Those comments will also be removed if we encounter them.

* * *
Al Pacino on ‘The Godfather’: ‘It’s Taken Me a Lifetime to Accept It and Move On’ DNYUZ

CAN THE THIN MAN SERVE AS A GATEWAY TO COZY MYSTERIES? Crime Reads. The book and the films are much better than this article. I’m posting it nonetheless to alert readers who might be otherwise unaware of those. works. Myrna Loy! William Powell! Alas, today’s NYC is a very different world.

The Bottom of Love Liberties. Once seen, it’s impossible to forget The Night Porter, with its performances by Dirk Bogarde and Charlotte Rampling. One of the most unsettling films to come out of the ‘70s. Or any time, for that matter.

WHAT’S THE GREATEST NEWSPAPER CRIME MOVIE EVER MADE? Crime Reads. I endorse most of these recommendations – especially Ace in the Hole – and will now seek out those I’ve missed.

The Battle of the Gauges History Today

John von Neumann Thought He Had the Answers The New Republic

Following the oud through the history of Armenian music. Lapham’s Quarterly

Reliving the nightmare of 1914 Asia Times

‘It’s not medical’: Oregon wrestles with how to offer psychedelics outside the health care system Stat

The cameras that capture deep-sea jellies in their environment MIT Technology Review


Coronavirus: Hong Kong daily Covid caseloads peaked in early March, health officials say, but latest deaths push toll past 3,000 South China Morning Post

Germany: New daily COVID-19 infections pass 250,000 for first time Deutsche Welle

Covid deaths probably three times higher than records say BBC

New Vaccine Findings Pose Tough Questions for Parents of Young Children NYT

TSA to extend mask mandate for planes, public transportation until April 18 NBC

DOJ finds more than $8 billion in COVID aid fraud The Hill. Got to hand it to the DoJ. They always manage to focus on the small stuff- rather than significant C-suite corporate crime issues.

New Not-So-Cold War

Russia widens attacks as new cities targeted BBC

Russia-Ukraine live news: Moscow widens attacks on cities Al Jazeera

Inside Germany’s Foreign and Security Policy Revolution Der Spiegel

Chris Hedges: Worthy and Unworthy Victims Scheerpost (John Zelnicker)

Corporate Interests Are Pushing the Disastrous Idea of a No-Fly Zone Jacobin

Economic Blacklist of Russia Marks New Blow for Globalization WSJ

Putin: External management necessary if foreign firms exit Russia Al Jazeera

We are not ready’: a cyber expert on US vulnerability to a Russian attack Guardian

Could a US billionaire bag themselves a bargain? Chelsea soccer club could go bust in weeks after the UK government hit oligarch owner Roman Abramovich with sanctions which left them unable to sell tickets or merchandise as potential buyers prepare bids Daily Mail

Evraz board resigns after sanctions imposed on Roman Abramovich Guardian

For the West, the Worst Is Yet to Come The Atlantic

What role are Indian states playing in rescuing students from Ukraine? Scrolll

US colleges cut partnerships, financial ties with Russia AP

Iran nuclear talks close to collapse over Russian demands Politico

Turkish carrier Pegasus, Kazakh Air Astana suspend Russia flights Daily Sabah

Ukraine War Pushes Biden Toward Venezuela, Iran and Saudi Arabia in Oil Hunt WSJ

Biden ‘personally killed Polish jet deal’ despite Republican AND Democrats ramping up calls to give Ukraine combat planes to make Putin ‘fearful of what WE might do’ Daily Mail

The Supremes

Supreme Court: Torture at CIA Black Site Is ‘State Secret’ Consortium News. Discusses Gorsuch’s ‘scathing dissent’.FWIW, Neil was in my HLS ’91 class. And unlike many of our classmates, who frequently marched in lockstep with ideologically compatible faculty or fellow students, he sought me out after a seminar in which I’d taken on Charles Fried (solicitor general under Bush senior) to offer gracious support. I appreciated that gesture – needless to say, such behavior was rare at HLS. I’m pleased to see he continues to eschew groupthink.

2020 Census Undercounted Hispanic, Black and Native American Residents NYT. Oops!

Biden Administration

Dems see midterm hope in Biden bounce Politico. Ha! Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha.! ROFL.

Biden warns Democrats it will be a ‘sad two years’ if Republicans take control of Congress The Hill

Big Brother IS Watching You Watch

Eye-Tracking Tech Is Another Reason the Metaverse Will Suck Vice

Old Blighty

The Great British Post Office Scandal Counterpunch

Climate Change

Gas price hikes fueling electric vehicle conspiracy theories AP. Whenever I see the words “conspiracy theory” in a MSM, I click to see which – if any – kernel of truth that’s being disavowed.

Climate change fundamentally affecting European birds, study shows Guardian

Why Achieving a ‘Circular Economy’ Is Important for Effective Climate Action The Wire

Plants humans don’t need are heading for extinction, study finds Guardian

Waste Watch

Washington passes bill to reduce organic waste disposal 75% by 2030 and widely expand collection Waste Dive

Class Warfare

Employers Are Running Unchecked Workplace Dictatorships Across America Jacobin

Retired NYC Workers Celebrate Medicare Coverage Switch Court Win The City

The IMF’s Agreement with Argentina Could Be a Game Changer Project Syndicate. Joe Stiglitz and Mark Weisbrot.

Jeff Bezos Is Heading to Space and Partying on Earth While Amazon Faces a Host of Challenges Bloomberg

Sports Desk

Baseball is back! MLB, players reach deal after months-long lockout NY Post


Why Beijing thinks Taiwan is different to Ukraine South China Morning Post


Modi, welfare, Hindutva: What does BJP’s stellar showing in state polls mean for Indian politics? Scroll

As Narendra Modi Extends His Dominance, Beware the Bulldozer’s Effect on the Constitution The Wire

‘Only 40% Indians Are Employed Or Looking For Work, Compared To 57-60% In Most Countries’ India Spend

Biden officials bat for India amid criticism of New Delhi’s stand on Russia-Ukraine spat Times of India

Antidote du Jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antodote du Jourhere.

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  1. Cocomaan

    I had followed ASB on Twitter. They had war footage and info that nobody else posted. Oh well, I’m on a watchlist now I guess.

    1. Louis Fyne

      they have a telegram backup. http t . me / s / asbmilitary (remove the spaces)

      also reccomend bellumactanews t . me / s / BellumActaNews

      Russia leaning but dispassionate.

      (if these links are not ToS worth, I understand )

      1. Donald

        I tried the first one and just got a message saying the domain expired. I typed it in without the spaces but maybe I did something wrong.

        My own view of the war is similar to what you find from most of the anti war left— this is Russian imperialism. But I agree with our hosts that this is the worst information environment ever, though I think the Syrian War was close. Assad is a massive war criminal, but most of the Western narrative portrayed it as Assadists ( very bad guys) vs ( Isis ( very bad guys ) vs Free Syrian Army ( morally perfect noble freedom fighters). Often it was just simplified to “ Assad is killing everyone”. I wanted, not perfect sources, but just people who were doing their best to be truthful. It was hard, but you could find people like Patrick Cockburn and Robert Worth in the mainstream.

        If there is anyone like that in the mainstream on the subject of Ukraine— well informed people just doing their best to be honest about the war and it’s causes — I haven’t seen it. They might exist but I haven’t stumbled across them.

        And the idea that Western sources in general are reliable in these hotly contested situation is just ludicrous.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Eva Bartlett and Vanessa Beeley did excellent reporting in Syria and right now they are reporting about the Ukraine war from the other side as independent journalists. Both are to be found on YouTube & Twitter – for now.

          1. pjay

            Yes. However, both of these reporters would have asserted, strongly, that the “Assad is a massive war criminal” narrative was part of the massive Western propaganda offensive. As it was, in my opinion. I doubt if they would buy the “Russian imperialism” line, either.

            1. Carolinian

              Yes. No reflection on the above commenter but funny how when it came to Syria the “anti-war left” was often the pro-war left. Example: Democracy Now–the radio so called “war and peace report.” Some might question whether we even have an anti-war left these days as opposed to an R2P left.

              1. pjay

                Of course, the R2P “left” are not willing to justify *all* “humanitarian interventions.” Just the ones – curiously – that coincide with US foreign policy. To bad for the Ukrainians of the Donbass – and now for all Ukrainians.

      2. Milton

        Good stuff Louie. I appreciate, also, the bit of humor with some fun animal pics. Interesting to see some Russian combat tanks flying Soviet flags. Of course, any clickable content is not accessible.

      3. Delmonico

        “This week, 27 foreign policy experts called for a no-fly zone in Ukraine”

        “Experts”, there’s that bullshit word. Safe to say “expert” is now an insult, or a joke. Like a college degree, an expert is someone who has four or five or more years of correct predictions or a healthy track record of knowledge producing positive results.

        Scott Ritter and Glenn Greenwald, even Chompsky are a real Experts, as are all the other people who have been shown to be correct about U.S. foreign policy for over 20 years. Victoria Nuland and the General Dynamics Generals? F* them!

        1. David

          I doubt if there were many airpower “experts” among them. They would be well aware that the US stands to lose most of its air force quite quickly, and mostly to missiles, if it tries anything. It was, if I remember rightly, foreign policy “experts” who got us into this mess in the first place.

          1. PlutoniumKun

            If there is one piece of good news out there, it seems to be that so far Biden is listening to real military experts and is well aware of how limited his options are. I’m no Biden fan, but I’m quite impressed that first with Afghanistan, and now with Ukraine, he has ignored the chickenhawks.

    2. PlutoniumKun

      I don’t know anything about who is behind ASB, but it was a very useful account – while it ‘leaned Russian’ in sympathy whoever was behind it was trying to be objective in sorting through the dreck to identify the real military story going on. It was certainly far more accurate than mainstream news from either the West or Russian sources.

      1. cocomaan

        Yeah, I at least enjoyed that they were posting raw information as it came in. We need primary sources no matter the bent. Even cutting people off from RT is dumb. Watching RT will let you study Russian perspectives.

        Technocrats love to treat us all as if we’re brain dead.

        1. Carla

          “Technocrats love to treat us all as if we’re brain dead.”

          Perhaps this is the well-known phenomenon of “projection” at work.

          1. Captain Obious

            One tell for me has always been the phrase “All you need to know…” Which appears constantly these days.

            1. jr

              That and “Smarter people than you and I say…”

              In my experience, the PMC types love to be told what their place is by their “betters”. I suspect it’s because their own power relies on that hierarchy. Kiss up, kick down, and blame the powerless whenever possible. The boss may be a jerk but the goal is to get to be the jerk. Always a positive demeanor. Reinforce the status quo at all times. Ignore the fact that the bell also tolls for thee.

    3. hunkerdown

      It’s probably unwise to indicate sources and methods just to own the info operators on Twitter. Democrats might find a heavy drubbing an acceptable price to pay for a next season of scorned, wrathful PMCs ready to sacrifice for the party meme, and a medium-term future of easy, controlled internal opposition while they nail their bureaucratic oligarchy in place and destroy the common interest.

  2. The Historian

    Arghh. The cozy mystery link brings me to an article done in 2010 by Richard Smith!

    I absolutely love cozy mysteries, it’s my guilty pleasure – and my introduction to them was the Thin Man series. I think I still have the DVD’s somewhere. I think it was the only time American media did cozy mysteries well. I watch British TV to get my fix and they have a ton of them. Half their appeal is that they show the British countryside, and as with Inspector Lewis, the amazing architecture at Oxford. The other half is that the British allow their actors to look human instead of overgrown barbie dolls. My all time favorite is Miss Marple with Joan Hickson, but the British have done so many others, like Hercule Poirot, Sherlock Holmes, Father Brown, Vera, Midsomer Murders, etc. New Zealand is also getting into the act with My Life is Murder and Brokenwood Mysteries.

    1. Petter

      Loved The Thin Man movies,at least those that were available on TV back in the fifties and sixties. Obviously too young to have seen the movies in theaters. What I remember about William Powell was he was always half sloshed, and without Googling, I would think the first one was made in 1935 or so, not too many years after the end of prohibition. Don’t think he would make it as a spokesman for Responsible Drinking today. But then, back in the day, you could drive drunk but not so drunk you couldn’t drive.

  3. The Rev Kev

    “US colleges cut partnerships, financial ties with Russia”

    How the times change. Back during the Vietnam war, you could have a similar title saying “US colleges cut partnerships, financial ties with Pentagon” and the students fought to end the ROTC programs as well as military research conducted on campus-

    Now? It seems that their protests seem to align with CIA talking points while they make sure that they do not have the wrong opinion causing them to be ostracized. Yeah, you have the occasional protests about BLM for example but the ones in the 60s & 70s were sustained over years.

    1. pjay

      I’m trying to envision a “teach-in” about the history of the Ukrainian conflict being held today. All I can see is a small group being hounded by a much larger contingent of “pro-democracy” students opposing “Russian imperialism.” We’ve come a long way since the 1960s.

    2. Carla

      In the 60s & 70s, the draft and the war in Vietnam powerfully concentrated the minds of a generation.

      1. Samuel Conner

        One could argue that if one is really opposed to Russian imperialism, the US should re-institute the draft and bulk up the armed forces ASAP.

        It might help to concentrate this generation’s minds.

        “Reintroduce the draft! Make US the arsenal and the army of Democracy, once again!”

    3. drumlin woodchuckles

      The 60s and 70s protesters knew there would still be a system for them to opt back into when their protest days were behind them, so they could feel free and secure to protest.

      In today’s no money = you die society where ” I can get ten interns who will pay ME to LET them do your job!” , protest of that sort is viewed as economic and therefor physical-soon-after suicide. So there will be very little protest relative to the 60s and 70s.

  4. DJG, Reality Czar

    Daily Mail. Note the dynamic. Biden listens to the Pentagon, the generals. Meanwhile, pseudoexperts in the D and R parties, overwhelmed with bloodlust, keep pushing for war.

    Yet I note this fact near the bottom: “The deal essentially fell through altogether when German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said he would not allow the Polish planes to land at Rammstein in Germany.”

    The Germans, having dealt with Americans and Poles, know that both cultures thrive on resentments. And now the resentful have nuclear weapons.

    So: I’m guessing that the U.S. generals, the Germans, the French, and the Chinese are who we should keep our eyes on.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        I’ve often thought history will not be kind as to Merkel as many contemporary commentators are. Her passive management of so many issues led to a decaying status quo. I know she was to some extent a prisoner of internal CDP party politics, as well as her own background, but I think there were many opportunities for Germany to have taken a more positive role in Europe that were passed up during her time in power.

        1. flora

          an aside: She and Tony were two of Schwab’s first Young Global Leader class graduates. Passive management of decaying status quo? √ check . / ;)

    1. ArvidMartensen

      Sanity would be taking actions not to increase the risks of destroying the only home that human beings have. Without a viable climate on planet Earth, we are all dead.
      So the US is not taking sane actions. And it basically owns the world apart from Russia, China, Iran and North Korea. Maybe Venezuela but that is looking dodgy.
      The Russians are taking sane actions. Putin told the world not so long ago that if Russia is destroyed then they have nothing left, so they will do whatever it takes to preserve Russia, with nuclear as the last resort.
      Other countries may be occasionally delusional, but US oligarchs have taken delusion to new heights by apparently planning to live on Mars if all else fails. Hard to believe that people who can buy anyone on Earth can’t buy a scientist to tell them that can never happen. and
      The world has descended into a cult, and the USA is the purposeful leader of the cult.
      In cults, only obedience is allowed, all alternative sources of information are banned, those who question are traitors, and anyone not in the cult is an enemy. Looks like FB, YT etc as all alternative sources of info are being snuffed out.
      And the US love of assassinations( is now being exported to other countries via FB.
      The US is the home of complete and utter lunacy. Insanity. Madmen.

  5. DJG, Reality Czar

    Thanks for the photo of the hoopoe. They are indeed charismatic.

    Karl Shuker, a zoologist, has this to say about the hoopoe at his blog: “I discovered, for instance, that many cultures throughout its extensive Eurasian and African zoogeographical distribution range traditionally deem the hoopoe to be a guide or leader of other birds through dangerous realms to their ultimate destination, as well as a messenger from the invisible supernatural world (this latter role of the hoopoe also features in Aristophanes’s famous play, The Birds). To the ancient Egyptians, it symbolised gratitude, and even appeared as a hieroglyphic.”

    [Although he admits that in Scandinavia it is a bird of ill omen.]

    Let’s think of it today as a messenger, indicating to human beings to be more birdlike.

  6. Mr. Phips

    No, we don’t have to watch the Chinese. They can’t do anything about this conflict, why would they anyway, and there are learning a lot right now on what they have to prepare for, when the inevitable moment comes for their confrontation with the West about Taiwan.

    1. Mikel

      “If I wait patiently by the river….”

      Just watching for where the divisions will be after more fall out from all of this….

    2. ArvidMartensen

      The US is starting to set up Australia for the next US proxy war which will be with China.
      Arming Australia with nuclear subs but not giving them real control, is a step in that direction.
      And the Australians have been making the right noises about “China bad” for a couple of years. So all going well for the future of the US arms industry. The next step will likely be hundreds of long range missiles aimed for no particular reason at China. etc
      Oh, the tears that will be shed when the world is flooded with heart rending pics of Aussie children escaping battle on FB. Millions of sobbing posts and prayers and likes will sent in support. And billions of outraged comments on how China are monsters, paranoid, psycho etc.

  7. OIFVet

    Re: Chelsea FC. Funny how the US has billionaires while Russia and former Eastern bloc only have oligarchs. There was an article in FAIR a few years ago that studied how in US media Russian billionaires were always presented as oligarchs, while US billionaires were presented as businessmen and philanthropists. All billionaires are oligarchs, as Bernie made clear in reference to MLB owners. Let’s keep referring to all of them as oligarchs, regardless of nationality.

    1. Mildred Montana

      “US billionaires were presented as businessmen and philanthropists.”

      Yes. The inimitable Ambrose Bierce nailed this (and so much more) over a hundred years ago. From his ?????’? ??????????:

      PHILANTHROPY, n. Restitution

    2. Steve H.

      plutocrat (n.)

      “person who rules or sways a community or society by virtue of his wealth; person possessing power or influence solely or mainly on account of his riches,” 1838, a back-formation from plutocracy. Related: Plutocratic (1843); plutocratical (1833).

    3. Dr. John Carpenter

      It’s simple: We have buisnessmen and philanthropists who own all the sources of news and they have oligarchs who feed them propaganda. See!

  8. drfrank

    re: Argentina’s IMF deal, Stiglitz. At 3AM last night, Argentina’s House of Deputies approved the IMF loan restructure while explicitly rejecting the conditions. No one in Argentina is happy with the new IMF deal except perhaps the Economy Minister, Stiglitz’ protege Martin Guzman. Guzman has made no secret of his aim to show the world how international debt restructurings ought to be done. For some in Argentina the new IMF deal is but a lightly disguised version of the same old recipe of remorseless austerity. For others, it does not go far enough to help Argentina address its core problems and in any event will end up in non compliance within a year. Stiglitz’ previous puff pieces on this subject have been roundly criticized as superficial and inaccurate, as reported in Bloomberg, but not picked up by NC. The case of Argentina is exceedingly complex and the IMF’s new loan rewrite might well be a more profound conceptual failure than its original program. I would be happy to see NC pick up the subject of the IMF with something like the intensity it devoted to CalPers.

    1. fringe element

      The IMF was tightening the screws on Ukraine too, and the 2014 coup was a victory for them. Before he was ousted, Yanukovich was refusing to impose austerity on his people and even went so far as to think he could get a better deal from Putin.

    2. Yves Smith

      We can’t influence the IMF and as you point out, there are many other commetators who criticize it, so it is hard to see how we can add value.

      By contrast, we can influence CalPERS and through them, both public pension funds and the private equity industry. Our efforts even led to the passage of a private equity transparency bill in California.

  9. upstater

    Lithuania tightens state of emergency over Ukraine invasion

    Lithuania imposed a stricter state of emergency on Thursday in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, limiting rights to free expression and peaceful assembly, in what critics said were the toughest constraints on personal freedom since Soviet times.

    The government in Lithuania, a NATO and EU member that was once part of the Soviet Union, declared a state of emergency on Feb. 24 hours after Russia invaded Ukraine, fearing Moscow could threaten Lithuania and deploying the army along its borders with Russia and Belarus.

    Our allies in action… I missed the imposition of the state of emergency. Like 1914, the tangle of players large and small increase the likelihood of something really bad happening.

  10. nv

    Re the posting about the Neil and HLS early 1990s… my minor story is
    set in a philosophy seminar, Bryn Mawr College, 1970s, when I attempted to critique a paper written by Beryl Howell, who became the federal judge
    overseeing Mueller’s grand jury.

  11. Kevin Smith

    Plants humans don’t need are heading for extinction, study finds Guardian

    A better title would have been:
    Plants humans don’t know they need are heading for extinction, study finds Guardian

    1. CuriosityConcern

      I’m pretty sure you know this or could formulate it on your own and this is also preaching to the choir, but even if there is a plant(or animal) that truly has no immediate useful value to humans, it may well play a role for another animal, plant, fungus or successor in a geological process; probably a combination of all four really. It’s the product of thousands or millions of years of natural development(evolution) and the loss of that is at least a tragedy, if not us in contemporary times, then probably those 7 generations in the future.

        1. CuriosityConcern

          I’ve seen it mentioned here in comments, definitely a worldview/operating principle that would require considerable thought as well as keen insight.
          As someone who has observed/contemplated the results of my own social interactions on very short timescales, I know that I currently lack the ability to reliably effect my environment in what I imagine would be a positive way, except by refraining from destructive processes. And in reading the linked blog, I see how they mention it can be applied to relationships too…
          The philosophy would seem to go hand in hand with the precautionary principle.

  12. OIFVet

    I found this interview of Cornell West to be very good: Cornel West Sees a Spiritual Decay in the Culture.


    The Democratic Party is in deep trouble. The neoliberal vision of brother Biden, which, in his own individual case, is predicated on crimes against humanity in terms of mass incarceration, the invasion and occupation of Iraq, and the Wall Street bailout that led toward the collapse of so many poor and working people’s life chances—to me those are crimes against humanity, just as a person that’s trying to be decent in the world, the crushing of lives of so many folk, the killing of so many folk in Iraq and so on. But he’s still better than Trump. Now, good God almighty, we wonder why we are so desperate.

    It’s very clear he turns out to be milquetoast, and the only way he can deliver is the opposing posture, as if you put a Black sister on the Supreme Court and you satisfy the Black women who voted. You’re going to tell me that Black women voted solely to have a representative on the Supreme Court, and not to deal with Black people, Black children, and other folk who are suffering economically and socially? All you need is just a Black woman on the Court, and you’re satisfied now? Most Black sisters out there that I know did not go out for that. But, of course, we want a Black progressive on the court, and a Black woman, fine. But he can’t fight for voting rights for a whole year, can’t hardly engage in any courageous action for that for a whole year?

    1. Rainlover

      I listen to Cornel West whenever I can. He is impressive in his language, his integrity, and in the way he upholds the humanity of every individual regardless of whether he personally agrees with them. He provides a sterling example of what a human being should be and how we should communicate with one another. This part stuck out for me:

      And that’s why we have to be committed to being certain kinds of persons, no matter what the possibilities are for triumph. We have a chance of a snowball in Hell of fighting for freedom. We fight anyway, because it’s right and because it’s just. And we just get crushed when we get crushed, but we get crushed with a smile.

      Get crushed with a smile. I love that. We have too few of these types of leaders. The leader of the Poor People’s Campaign, Bishop William Barber is another one along with his co-chair Rev. Liz Theoharis.

  13. ArkansasAngie

    For me, personal opinion, there is no reason for the US government to participate with anybody (government or private party) outside of the US in a biolab. None, And, I don’t don’t need to investigate it to know that I want all funding to any and all such facilities directly or indirectly fund by America stopped immediately. I want all of the people associated with this to be fired, including anybody who signed off on funding for these labs … from top to bottom. And … I’d like these yahoos to never be allowed to work for the government again nor run for political office nor be a member of a board public or private. No discrimination. Don’t care about race creed sex wealth political party health intelligence. None. Let the purge begin.

    We can discuss in an open public forum this after it is stopped.

    1. The Rev Kev

      The EU and the WHO were also cooperating with the establishment of these biolabs, especially in eastern Europe, so there is plenty of blame to go around. And all this has been know for years. In fact-

      ‘4 years ago I was expelled from the European Parliament for confronting the US Assistant Secretary of health over Pentagon-funded biolabs in 25 countries across the world. I was smeared by US media as “fake news”. Who is the fake news now?’

    2. PlutoniumKun

      One reason often cited is, quite simply, that providing some funding allows you some control and oversight over what is going on. If you don’t do it, someone else (nation, oligarch, whatever) may do it instead.

      Also, of course, many of these labs are doing entirely benign research, and others are doing defensive work (how to protect from bio attack). I find it very hard to believe that crucial bioweapons research would be done on behalf of the US in a country so unstable, right next to Russia.

      Of course, if there was full transparency and openness about the funding and the research, this wouldn’t be an issue.

        1. Basil Pesto

          This is silly over-interpretation. There will be countless labs all over the world doing research on Covid-19, for example, and those labs will necessarily have samples of the virus. Ditto, presumably, many other pathogens, including plague. The WHO’s suggestion to a country subject to military attack to destroy those pathogens to prevent a possible accidental spill seems entirely reasonable rather than panic. Hopefully readers familiar with such work + work environments can comment.

          While transparency would be far more desirable as PK suggests, I daresay we need actual evidence of wrongdoing before getting worked into a lather here, not rumour and innuendo – innuendo being pushed by an extremely biased party, at that.

          1. fresno dan

            Recent self-reported mistakes at the CDC (15), involving a particularly deadly strain of anthrax removed from BSL-3 containment and H5N1 Asian bird flu released from the CDC laboratories altogether, lend support to our concern that the probability of escape may be much greater than the 0.2% per lab per year from just LAIs. The CDC report spawned a congressional inquiry (16) and led to dozens of newspaper articles with concerns about lack of safety in high-containment laboratories.
            Why is running labs without such errors so hard?
            A look at the CDC’s records of Select Agent containment failures helps answer that question. Errors come from many directions. With worrying frequency, people handle live viruses thinking they’ve been given deactivated ones. Technology that’s a critical part of the containment process can fail unexpectedly. It’s not that there’s a single “problem” piece of technology — it’s that there are so many that are a part of the containment process, and all of them have some small risk of failing. We can secure against showers depressurizing and sterilization equipment flying open when it malfunctions, but many other pieces of hardware are a critical part of containment measures, and they might have obscure malfunctions under the wrong conditions too.
            I don’t think the Rev Kev concern is silly at all. But the failures due to hardware malfunctions pale in comparison to the failure of institutions. In another post I made today, the highest legal institution in the US thinks torture is OK (ok, the Supremes are not dejure saying torture is ok, but denying LEGAL challenge to the plantiff’s torture is denied because of tendentious reasoning. There is a virtial blizzard of paperwork about how safe these laboratories are, but they are not safe because the people running them are not straightforward about what is going on, and what has happened at these labs)

            1. britzklieg

              The word “silly” has condescension built into it, especially when used tautologically.

              Good on ya for not stooping to the same in your informed response.

              Thanks for the links.

          2. The Rev Kev

            Don’t know how many times that I can say it. If you are researching deadly pathogens (plague for example) for stuff like gain of function research, stick that facility on an island off the trade routes and make sure that it is unpopulated. It’s not hard. There have already been unacknowledged accidents with those lab facilities in eastern Europe that got loose among the local human and animal population. And if they are so harmless, then the US should let Russia and China establish their own research facilities – in Mexico and Canada.

            1. asher2789

              even so, doing such research on an island doesnt mean it will stay there.

              case in point: lyme disease and plum island.

              the “conspiracy theory” goes that they were studying how to make tick-borne diseases into bioweapons on the island, and the ticks got out and infected the island deer population. what is unknown to most people is that deer can swim, quite a ways, and it is believed that deer swam across the sound (hour long ferry ride) to lyme, CT where the disease was first discovered and named after; and of course a much closer swim to long island, where lyme disease is prevalent.

              as a former LIer born and raised, who came down with lyme, i give the “conspiracy theory” a lot of credit as being the likely cause. same with COVID coming from a lab. one doesnt have to act with malice, when incompetence and saving face are easier explanations. the real conspiracy is in the coverup.

          3. c_heale

            There is no need to do secret research on any of these diseases. None. If the research is beneficial then it can be published in the normal scientific journals or PLOS.

        2. cobo

          “It certainly had the WHO panicking-…” that’s called CYA bruddah. Where else is the WHO going to get their ongoing pandemics craze, Nature, no

      1. Louis Fyne

        there is no defensive research of biological weapons. paging wuhan

        Anything learned from “defensive” research can also be used in an offensive way.

        Just as any research in shooting down missiles can be used to make your missiles better at hitting the other guy

        1. David

          Well, the drafters of the Convention and the 183 states that have signed it beg to disagree with you. Naturally occurring diseases are not like missiles.
          I have a much longer comment stuck somewhere in moderation where I try to explain what I think may be going on.

    3. Bart Hansen

      Yesterday, and I would suppose again today, the White House press secretary went all hysterical about the labs, lying about them three times before the cock crowed. Don’t wait for an investigation, as all the Congress critters voted for the black money to support them.

    4. David

      I’m not sure that there’s anything left to say about this episode, really, apart from the fact that it could be a masterclass in miscommunication between a US government that can’t get its story straight and a media which can’t understand the meaning of what it’s told.

      So long as diseases exist in the world, there will be a need to research them and find prophylactics and cures. So long as these diseases exist, and given that the BTWC has no verification protocol, the possibility of someone weaponising these diseases must exist, as must the possibility of them falling into the hands of actors such as the Islamic State (who have a number of scientists and engineers in their ranks). The two issues are really one, since the threat is the same, except that in the latter case there’s a need to find active defensive measures, such as protective gear, sensors etc, and also to protect the military when deployed into areas where there are diseases they don’t encounter at home. It’s for this reason that quite a lot of the research is conducted in secure military facilities.

      The BTWC actively encourages cooperation between states in this kind of research and, since neither diseases nor weaponised biological agents are respecters of passports or geography (see Covid) there’s always been a lot of international cooperation in research programmes and sharing of results. The republics of the former Soviet Union are a special case, because during the Cold War, the SU had a massive covert BW programme (it’s not even clear the political leadership knew about it) and getting it closed down, decontaminated and made harmless was a big priority, if memory serves, well into this century. As PK says, cooperation is also a good way of keeping tabs on what other people are doing.

      The silly thing about all this fuss is that these programmes in Ukraine were never secret: indeed, the US government proudly announced it was carrying them out, including providing funding for a country that had none of its own. I suspect ( I have no proof) that there were those the West who were worried that groups in Ukraine might try to preserve this weapons technology and prevent it from being destroyed, either to sell it, or to use in some future conflict. Cooperation and funding would be ways of reducing this risk.

      It is, I suppose, faintly possible, that there were groups in Ukraine who were actually engaged in dangerous work of this kind, and it had not been possible to shut them down. But there’s no evidence of that so far, and in the absence of any the simpler explanations are, as always preferable. And somebody should sack Nuland for sheer incompetence:

      1. Ignacio

        As I see it, all this fuss about biolabs feeds on our ignorance about what a biolab really is and what can be done there. It feeds, for instance, on the idiotic need to believe that SARS CoV 2 was a creature made in a lab through ‘gain of function’ research. It also feeds on the false belief that any accidental or deliberate release of a pathogen would necessarily develop in a pandemic or worse. Now, in the view of many, if you have a virus or a bacteria in a lab and you are conducting whatever research you are no longer a scientist but a dangerous biowarfare guy. With or without intention. It is a narrative that has been officially pushed in the US and I know many believers here and there.This fits very well with the climate of suspicion or distrust that today contaminates everything in our ‘free Western world’. Indeed one must be more careful by the day and there are lots of reasons for widespread disbelief, but biological research with pathogens shouldn’t be another victim of this.

      2. vao

        I easily admit that such cooperation programmes would initially fall under the umbrella of the Department of Defense during the phase when the weaponized part of those old Soviet research was to be dismantled and cleaned up.

        But that was, what, 30-20-15 years ago?

        Why is current research and cooperation purportedly targetting non-military protection against infectious diseases and the production of vaccines be financed and performed under the control of the US military and not, much more naturally, of the NIH or the CDC, or even of the Gates Foundation?

        Institutions undertake activities that are congruent with the objectives that justify their existence, and the goal of the DoD is to arm the USA against its enemies, not to act as a benevolent provider of healthcare solutions for the world. When the military cooperates in, funds and supervises an activity on a sustained and intransparent basis, it is reasonable to assume until full disclosure that the programme is of an essentially military nature, and has subsidiarily a civilian character.

        1. The Rev Kev

          On a related note, after the First Cold War ended, both sides were supposed to have destroyed their chemical warfare weapons. The Russians did this yonks ago but a few years ago I read that the US has still not managed to do this because they could never get the funding. So the Russians with their economic collapse still did it but the US never could.

    5. K.k

      This is from the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists from a couple weeks ago…
      Article is worth the quick read.
      The picture in the article is a lab in Ukraine built by the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program, which is an initiative housed within the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA)

      An article discussing the Pentagon seeking more funding for DTRA.

      “DTRA officials want an extra $6.8 million for “low-visibility Chemical/Biological search” that would meet “specific Combatant Command requirements,” the budget document shows.

      DTRA officials declined to comment, saying Nimble Elder is classified.”

      Looks like they are doing more than just lending a helping hand if the lab is actually built by the US which other wise may not be there? Offensive, defensive, way above my pay grade.

      1. juno mas

        Yes, lending a helping hand WRT potential bio-weapons in an unstable nation residing next door to a nuclear power who does not (for good reason) trust you is, if not a provocation, STUPID.

  14. The Rev Kev

    ‘EXCLUSIVE Facebook and Instagram to temporarily allow calls for violence against Russians’
    ‘Facebook owner Meta is also temporarily allowing some posts that call for death to Russian President Putin or Belarusian President Lukashenko in countries including Russia, Ukraine and Poland, according to internal emails to its content moderators’

    And probably to Mark Zuckerberg’s surprise, ‘The Prosecutor General of Russia has asked a court to formally designate Meta Platforms, the owner of Facebook and Instagram, as an extremist organization’

    I think that a lot of media organizations will never be allowed to do business in Russia for a start and maybe more and more countries will decide that they too can live without them. Saw an example of reverse censorship on the news on TV tonight though. It is British reporters and the UK’s 77th Brigade – or do I repeat myself – pushing out the propaganda here. So one was showing a civilian’s body on a road with a big red blood smear as well as the bodies of some Russian soldiers. Point is, in the past such images would ALWAYS be blurred but now they are not. That’s quite a sea change that here in Oz. It really show the desperation of the propaganda war so I do not know what will happen if the Russian’s complete their mission succesfully.

    1. Dave in Austin

      Incoming euphamism alert! “spirit of the policy allowance” is heading your way.

      The Guardian says the Meta email says:

      “We are issuing a spirit-of-the-policy allowance to allow T1 violent speech that would otherwise be removed under the hate speech policy when: (a) targeting Russian soldiers, except prisoners of war, or (b) targeting Russians where it’s clear that the context is the Russian invasion of Ukraine (eg content mentions the invasion, self-defense, etc),” it said in the email.

    2. Oh

      I think it’s high time social antisocial medium like facebook, twitter, telegram, tiktok et al that operate solely on cell phone platforms qre bqnned. They serve no useful pupose and are actually gossip columns. Let them print a newspaper, magazine or use a web page.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Don’ta cha know? The Pandemic is over. My wife was told that just today by a checkout chick at our local supermarket. When she told me I mentioned that there were about 4,500 new cases in our State here in Oz just yesterday (starts humming)-

      ‘When you wish upon a star
      Makes no difference who you are
      Anything your heart desires
      Will come to you
      If your heart is in your dream
      No request is too extreme
      When you wish upon a star
      As dreamers do
      Fate is kind
      She brings to those to love
      The sweet fulfillment of
      Their secret longing
      Like a bolt out of the blue
      Fate steps in and sees you through
      When you wish upon a star
      Your dreams come true’

      1. Wukchumni

        Deltacron is a new variant coming on
        Could it be a bad combination from days gone by?
        And did I hear you say, it could be meeting you here today
        To take you to a mansion in the sky?

        1. ambrit

          Oh, oh! I know that one!
          [Category: Jackpot Jingles for $600.]
          What is “Deltacron Dawn” by H— is Ready?

      2. jr

        I heard “It’s over!” more than once this last week. If/when the ice cream hits the AC again, it will be impossible to get some people to take any measures. Harder than before. Until the corpses are stacked like cordwood. Maybe. Or maybe they will be honored as “Freedom Corpses” or something.

        1. Samuel Conner

          I’ve seen it suggested at NC (I think it may have been a reposted tweet from a reputable public commentator) that the precedents established in the CV pandemic suggest that when the next pandemic arrives, there will be no US federal public health measures taken at all, just “let ‘er rip” from day 1. That might lead to some “interesting” selective pressures on US polity, with differential failure/collapse of health-care systems depending on what state and local authorities do.

          Keep your stocks of N95s full and rotated. The elastic does not last forever in storage. And don’t stop offering them to people. I’ve found, thus far, that even people who refuse are not offended by the offer, accurately interpreting it to be a gesture of good will and an expression of concern for their well-being.

          1. jr

            Agreed. I’ve also purchased some N100 respirators. I also agree that this, reflectively or not doesn’t really matter, is prepping the US for the next big problem. As in not being prepared and expecting it, even welcoming the “freedom”.

            I can’t get NJ out of my head. It could be anywhere, of course. Those shiny new cars burning up the Earth. Masks at a total minimum. Everywhere, problems being exacerbated by the ignorance and entitlement of a people who don’t really know want. They will.

            I don’t blame them, I don’t care about their perspectives either way. They are mis-informed AND refuse to consider changes that would inconvenience them. Ethical questions are rather pointless when their baseline is how to keep things exactly the same at literally all costs. It’s like asking a charging bear to stop and consider it’s actions. An avalanche to take a pause. Get ready to hunker down.

  15. PlutoniumKun


    It occurred to me reading through those that the newspaper crime movie is a largely US genre – off the top of my head I can’t think of very many examples, even from French cinema, which has a wonderful history of crime movies. There was a recent Japanese film, loosely based on the real life scandal involving former PM Abe’s wife – called simply ‘The Journalist’ in English (‘newspaper reporter’ in Japanese). It was good, but not a patch on the golden age films in that article. Kurosawa did one film about the post War Japanese press called Scandal, although I don’t think you’d really call it a crime movie.

    1. Carolinian

      Funny how American movie depictions of newspaper reporters morphed from cynical amoralists as in Ace in the Hole and The Front Page to warm and fuzzy truthtellers as in All the President’s Men and Spotlight. The first version was surely closer to the truth. In fact the movie often cited as the greatest ever made–period–is a depiction of this transition in the life of one character. That film of course is Citizen Kane.

    2. ambrit

      I remember “Call Northside 777,” with James Stewart, and “Deadline – USA,” with Humphrey Bogart.
      The biggest I can recall would be “All the President’s Men,” with Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford.
      I’m sure there are more.
      Hold the presses, I just thought of the many versions of “The Front Page.”
      See, the original version:
      That’s -30-!

    3. vao

      From the French cinematography I can only think of “Quand la ville s’éveille” by Pierre Grasset (1977) — and even then, in that film the journalists are not as decisively the drivers of the action as in the North American movies mentioned in the linked article.

    1. Kate Sims

      I saw hoopoes in Tuscany on a bicycle trip.
      I think they look like they were designed by a committee– of children!
      One would not believe they are real without photographs!
      Thanks for this one.

      1. Samuel Conner

        > designed by a committee

        mentally blocking out the bill, the head IMO reminds me of a rabbit, with the ears folded back.

  16. PlutoniumKun

    The Battle of the Gauges History Today

    The battle still goes on. I used to work for a railway engineering company and the civil and track engineers still bemoaned the failure to adopt the wide gauge, while the value engineers and QS’s thought the narrow gauge was the real driver of the railway revolution as they were far cheaper to construct, especially over difficult terrain.

    There were of course other gauges, including many genuinely very narrow gauges – these rarely lasted long, but often make great leisure routes as they were used to connect towns and cities to holiday locations. Its incredible looking at some of them that anyone thought investing a fortune in a railway was a good idea, it was a classic bezzle. In the Irish countryside you can still trace the routes of lines that were never finished – they are often marked by the railway arches which were built first, for lines that were never laid.

    The arguments still go on – the Chinese had a lively discussion in the 1990’s and early 00’s over whether to go for HSR or extend the maglev from Shanghai Airport to Shanghai over the entire country. It was mostly the reluctance of the Germans to give up their technology that led to the relatively old gauge and design to be settled on. The Japanese are moving on to Maglev too for their new Chuo Shinkansen from Tokyo to Osaka, but its hard to see it becoming a standard as it is eyewateringly expensive. However, I’ve often thought the Chuo Shinkansen would be a better option for the US, with its very long distances but often quite railway friendly topography. Rather than catch up, a visionary President would buy the tech from Japan and leap ahead of everyone else. Not going to happen of course.

    1. lyman alpha blob

      The battle of the gauges today is virtual and with fintech. So many companies trying to reinvent the wheel, and badly. My company now receives a significant amount of payments that we can’t identify on a regular basis, because they come in with the name of the payment service and not the company they’re paying on behalf of, and with no other remittance info. This did not happen only a few years ago. What kind of service is it that sends anonymous payments they won’t identify?!?

      Tried to call a payment service the other day and they told us they couldn’t legally tell us who was paying us. Tried calling again to complain about that response and was told it would be at least an hour wait to talk to anyone. I guess we’ll find out once accounts noted as being in arrears are sent to collections and the inevitable complaints roll in. Such a colossal waste of time, but the execs of these fintechs unicorns are cashing in while the counterparties on both ends of the transaction suffer. Kaching!

      Maybe one of these days humanity will learn to cooperate rather than compete, but I won’t be holding my breath.

    2. Wukchumni

      One of the Chinese warlords in the 1920’s: Yan Xishan, deliberated used a different gauge in Shanxi than the rest of China, so as to make it difficult for other warlords to invade.

    3. Jessica

      How much of the eyewatering expense of Japan’s maglev is the maglev itself and how much is the real estate cost because they are not running it over existing rail bed because they aren’t willing to shut down the most used part of the Shinkansen network.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Its mostly the engineering. The line uses a lot of tunnels – partly because of the terrain, but also for the land cost issue you mention. The problem with high speed lines is that the faster you go, the straighter the alignment has to be – those trains aren’t exactly good at cornering. This hugely increases costs – this is another reason why the 19th century engineers preferred narrow gauges, you could take cheaper, more meandering routes around obstacles (physical and political). Also, maglev tracks themselves are very expensive.

  17. PlutoniumKun

    Coronavirus: Hong Kong daily Covid caseloads peaked in early March, health officials say, but latest deaths push toll past 3,000 South China Morning Post

    One for our covid brains trust perhaps, but I’ve seen suggestions that the omicron variant in HK may be bad news. The received wisdom seems to be that the high death rate is down to the weakness of Sinopharm and the low booster rate. But this death rate does not seem to be matched in other Omicron hit countries with similar vaccination profiles. So this variant might be significantly more dangerous. One to watch I suppose, as the west seems to have given up on bothering about doing anything else but passive observations of the train approaching down the tunnel.

    1. curlydan

      It sounds like mainland China may be worried, too. My mother-in-law lives in Guangzhou (1.5 hours from Hong Kong) near a major train station and a site of many travelers and transients. She told my wife last night that the busses and subways no longer stop at her neighborhood out of fear of picking people up there. That sounded really odd to me (my MIL is a shut in, so she would have to get the news from neighbors or the maid), but there has to be no doubt some types of movement back and forth between Hong Kong and Guangzhou no matter how tight the border is.

      I am surprised how widely spread Covid is in Hong Kong. I suspect mainland China has better controls than HK, but even the mainland may not be able to control the super-infectious Omicron.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        There are rumours flying around both Shanghai and Beijing that there will be a complete shut down. Omicron seems to have established a hold. It will be quite a job to dislodge it.

        And on other cheery news, infection rates have doubled in Ireland (nicely timed before St. Patricks Day) and they are zooming up in the UK and Germany and Denmark. Looks like BA.2 is on the launch for lift off. Death rates are rising sharply in Denmark. Its so good of those Danes to set themselves up as a live test bed for immunity.

        Nice timing for me too. I’ve a Christmas party tonight, postponed from December. Hmmmm….

        1. kareninca

          Yes, I follow Denmark on worldometer. Their daily covid death chart keeps getting worse and worse.

        2. c_heale

          Omicron rates have gone crazy here in Korea while the government has removed all restrictions apart from wearing masks. If there is another dangerous variant out there, very many people are going to die.

    2. K.k

      From what i have come across it seems they have had very low vaccination rates among the elderly.

      “The hesitancy over vaccines has been attributed to misinformation about the vaccines’ potential side effects and efficacy, as well as a high level of public distrust of the government. But even as Hong Kong recorded more deaths in just over two weeks than it did in the last two years, some residents remained reluctant to get inoculated.”

      From last year…

      I dont think they are using sinopharm but the sinovac as well as n MRNA vac developed by Germanys BioNtech with Fosun pharma instead of pfizer for China. Its called Tozinameran (Comirnaty).
      Agreed Omicron not looking particularly “mild”. It seems to not turn the lungs to goo but still manages to kill at rates similar to earlier variants in unvaccinated populations.

  18. KD

    Propaganda is obviously of value during a war, especially in a proxy war, so it makes sense that the US/NATO/EU would want to prevent access to anything that is not US propaganda, because they are afraid of de-moralizing the Ukrainians.

    However, censorship is not an effective means of managing popular discontent. Eventually everyone realizes that the government is feeding them b.s., and the gov’t-backed media assets lose all credibility. In America, the MSM already has almost no credibility. Further, not permitting any kind of responsible opposition just means people will a-critically accept all manner of ridiculous things, conspiracy theories, and the like. You are already seeing this due to the decline of MSM into Wall Street/Neocon shills, and things like the Qanon phenomenon. You have a vicious circle, the more you ban anything that is not government propaganda, the more brittle the propaganda, and the less credibility it has, and the more nutty the alternatives become.

    There is a certain strand of totalitarianism which believes that if you get them when they are children, indoctrinate them, and then make them live in a media bubble containing correct opinion, that they will be loyal patriots of the fatherland (e.g. kneel for the Pledge but salivate when parroting Ukrainian ultranationalist talking points). If that actually worked, then why did the Soviet Union collapse?

    No, there is a Xanadu problem, and constructing a media Xanadu is not a solution, it is feeding the problem.

    1. Alphonse

      Malcolm Kyeyune argues that the function of censorship is not to eliminate dissent, but to put it out of sight so elites don’t have to hear it. Out of sight, out of mind. Of course in the long run this is disastrous, because the result is that elites are unaware of rumblings of rebellion until it is too late. But in the short run, it allows them to continue on in comfort and certainty, without being assaulted by offensive ideas or moral uncertainty.

      A few years ago I would have found this explanation absurd. But almost everything the regime does seems to be counterproductive in the long term. Anti-racism promotes racism, TDS makes it impossible to make alliances with “deplorables,” sanctions on Russia chase it into the arms of China, constant lies and flip-flops undermine the trust that the regime demands to deal with problems like Covid. When you believe that reality is what you say it is, all you need to dictate reality is to control what you hear. As soon as Kyeyune made his argument that censorship is primarily about protecting the sensibilities of the rulers, not controlling speech among the ruled, it seemed obvious.

      Much of the podcast episode I link to above is about parallels between the current situation and that of Russia in the early 20th century, especially the role of the secret police.

      1. marku52

        I feel just like I was living in the old USSR, with the Wapo and the NYT filling in for Pravda and Isvestia, and McConnell, Trump and Brandon filling in for the Old Grey Men watching the MayDay parade. Of course we are superior, because we have our Old Grey Women Feinstein and the Gelato Woman as well.


        1. Alphonse

          Gelato Woman! Very nice.

          It is truly bizarre. Here in Canada, it felt like the country flipped upside down over the past few months. This is not the same country I grew up in. I keep seeing people online saying that in real life they feel like they’re surrounded by crazy people. I keep checking in on myself to see whether I’m the crazy one. I’m pretty sure my craziness is only at the usual, healthy level. I suppose the upside is that they are so crazy – the lies, the hate – that I am left with little doubt that I’m mostly sane.

        2. Acacia

          Adam Curtis’ HyperNormalisation (2016). “It argues that governments, financiers, and technological utopians have, since the 1970s, given up on the complex ‘real world’ and built a simpler ‘fake world’ run by corporations and kept stable by politicians.”

          “The word hypernormalization was coined by Alexei Yurchak, a professor of anthropology who was born in Leningrad and later went to teach in the United States. He introduced the word in his book Everything Was Forever, Until It Was No More: The Last Soviet Generation (2006), which describes paradoxes of Soviet life during the 1970s and 1980s.”

      2. Jessica

        Censorship is more effective at convincing you that everyone else believes something than in making you believe it yourself.
        For most people though, being convinced that everyone else believes pulls your own beliefs in that direction or gets you to keep quiet.
        Censorship also makes it possible to set up faux-alternatives.
        It can replace “The US deliberately backed Putin into a corner to force a war” with “well, yes the US slipped up and played a small role in unleashing Putin’s massive war crimes”.

    2. Alphonse

      On Q: I talk about Rene Girard too much, but it’s classic scapegoating, to the point where it’s probably predictable. Girard’s theory is that in times of social instability, when there is a war of all against all, peace can be attained by redirecting all of that animosity towards a sacrificial victim (individual or group), who is then destroyed.

      The ideal victim has characteristics that mark him as an outsider, especially: disease; deformity; foreign; high status; violation of taboos, especially sexual. Oedipus (lame, foreigner, king, sex with his mother, takes place in time of plague) is archetypal. The scapegoating mob are convinced that the victim is guilty and responsible for social disorder. Sometimes the victim is guilty, sometimes of great crimes – but almost never of causing the disorder that motivates the mob.

      As I believe Yves or Lambert have pointed out, Q is fiction, but it is narratively true: an elite class oriented globally, with little concern for ordinary Americans, are making policies that lead deaths (including of children), at the very least turning a blind eye to sexual predators (Epstein, Weinstein), and through economic exploitation are metaphorically drinking the blood of the people. This fits the scapegoat profile perfectly: the enemy is foreign, high status, and is breaking sexual taboos. In a time of plague, no less.

      In terms of John Robb’s theory of open source networks, which I comment on elsewhere here, Q is an emergent network that makes a plausible promise: citizens can help cure the nation by revealing the depravity of elites so that they can be destroyed or expelled. Similar stories are told by woke anti-racists, by the Trump resistance, by those who persecute the unvaccinated, and by the network that has mobilized against Putin. I’m not saying all of these scapegoats are entirely innocent: but whatever they have or have not done, they are not the cause of the anxiety and fear that afflicts the mob.

      It pains me to say this as someone who strongly believes that we need truthful elites, not ones willing to use Machiavellian means to sate a mob’s lust for blood – but I guess in this interpretation the regime’s loss of credibility is less important than the social disorder that afflicts the people. Regardless of truth or lies, if social disorder gets bad enough, the mob will choose a victim and invent a narrative for how destroying him will restore order.

  19. Mr. House

    Does anyone here see patterns with regards to TDS, it which shall not be named, and the Ukraine? Or is it just me?

    1. tegnost

      It’s not just you. We have a minority ruling class who can’t run on their record so they pound on the table and won’t stop talking. Just more brooks brothers “rioting” (now that was an insurrection ) What is democratic about wall st making money on every transaction the world over right up to whether or not you own the seeds in the flowers in your garden.

    2. Pate

      I think Chris Hedges in today’s links has an answer. Chomsky too.

      Noam Chomsky – musings about our thought environment (from “Manufacturing Consent” and “Deterring Democacy”):

      “… the press has a job: its job is to keep people from understanding the world, and to keep them indoctrinated … and the point is, if you want to be a “responsible” journalist, you have to understand what’s important, and what’s important is things that work for the cause – U.S. corporate power, that’s the cause. And you will not stay in the press very long unless you’ve internalized and come to understand these values virtually intuitively – because there’s a whole elaborate process of filtering and selection in the institutions to eliminate people who don’t understand them and to help advance people who do … And of course, it’s also part of the way the propaganda system keeps everyone else from understanding the elementary realities, too.”

      Referencing Edward Bernays, “father of the public relations industry” who quipped that “the very essence of the democratic process is the freedom to persuade and suggest – the engineering of consent”, Chomsky says about the public relations industry that it has devoted huge resources to “educating the American people about the economic facts of life” to ensure a favorable climate for business. Its task is to control “the public mind”. Bernays went on to say “The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society … It is the intelligent minorities which need to make use of propaganda continuously and systematically.” The intelligent minorities have long understood this to be their function.

      Chomsky: “This manufacture of consent is a system of indoctrination. It targets the stupid and ignorant masses. They must be kept that way, diverted with emotionally potent oversimplification, marginalized, and isolated. Ideally, each person should be alone in front of a television watching sports, soap operas, or comedies … the proper targets of mass media and a public education system geared to obedience and training in needed skills, including the skill of repeating patriotic slogans on timely occasions …

      “The public are to be observers, not participants, consumers of ideology as well as products … the majority must resign itself to the consumption of fantasy. Illusions of wealth are sold to the poor, illusions of freedom to the oppressed, dreams of victory to the defeated and of power to the weak. Nothing less will do.

      “The great British Enlightenment thinker John Locke observed that “the day-laborers and tradesmen, the spinsters and dairymaids (the common people) must be told what to believe; the greatest part (most people) cannot know and therefore they must believe”.

      “The idea that the common people should be denied the right even to discuss public affairs remains a basic principle of modern democratic states, now implemented by a variety of means to protect the operations of the state from public scrutiny: classification of documents on the largely fraudulent pretext of national security, clandestine operations, and other measures to bar the “rascal multitude” (the masses) from the political arena.

      “The 18th century Scottish philosopher David Hume found “nothing more surprising than to see the easiness with which the many are governed by the few; and to observe the implicit submission with which men resign their own sentiments and passions to those of their rulers. When we enquire by what means this wonder is brought about, we shall find, that as Force is always on the side of the governed, the governors have nothing to support them but opinion. ‘Tis therefore, on opinion only that government is founded; and this maxim extends to the most despotic and most military governments, as well as to the most free and popular.”

      “Hume was an astute observer; his insight explains why elites are so dedicated to indoctrination and thought control.
      20th century American political commentator and intellectual Walter Lippmann observed “the public must be put in its place, so that we may live free of the trampling and roar of a bewildered herd whose function is to be interested spectators of action, not participants”.

      “In the contemporary period, Hume’s insight has been revived and elaborated, but with a crucial innovation: control of thought is more important for governments that are free and popular (i.e., “democratic”) than for despotic and military states. The logic is straightforward. A despotic state can control its domestic enemy by force, but as the state loses this weapon, other devices are required to prevent the ignorant masses form interfering with public affairs, which are none of their business. …the public are to be observers, not participants, consumers of ideology as well as products.”

          1. Pate

            Like the rest of us I suppose he suffers the human condition (imprism-ment). I for one always thought him overly optimistic about the prospect of peaceful change.

          2. Acacia

            Chomsky’s Manufacturing Consent was published in 1988. He wrote extensively on the malfeasance of the American Empire, especially in Latin America, and for a long while was shunned by the media for that — I think he was even persona non grata on putatively liberal NPR — , but at some point in recent years he seems to have contracted TDS (the actual turning point might have been pre-Trump) and he hasn’t been quite the same since.

            All of this is to say that Chomsky’s earlier work may still be relevant for understanding the terrible media environment that we are living in today.

            1. Jessica

              Both Chomsky and Sanders lost relatives in the Holocaust and it would be understandable if that made them overestimate the events of the 1930s and 1940s as a map for what emergent authoritarianism would look like now.

            2. Skippy

              “at some point in recent years he seems to have contracted TDS”

              Oh this is a huge real[tm] thing I have personally witnessed with a vast array of educated, experienced, comfortably or better successful people, albeit not just related to TDS. Some people in econ/polisci blogs and platforms that were engaged with AET and neoclassical wangling just went POP over Trump and any intellectual foresight to economic matters went right out of the window – because Trump had to be stopped at all costs.

              Prior to TDS it was the IS-LM – yonks before it was even an issue of contention for most save the most keen in this economic introspection, seemingly due to some Krugman-esque connection. Gasp … ***we need*** the IS-LM or gravity will go poof … like gravity is subjective to collective belief or something [see Says Law] …

              So at the end of the day were not talking about academic or intellectual rigor but an indoctrinated/environmental belief system people have subsumed as a corner stone of their identity.

              Personally its been bizarre since the GFC to have had so many I’ve know go POP over something just because they can’t ***personally*** handle new information that superseded the old.

    3. Michael Ismoe

      II sat here this morning watching our “betters” – just how many retired generals does CNN own and operate anyway? – tell me how we must get involved asap in Ukraine because “civilians are dying and that goes contrary to the rules of war.”

      Civilian deaths in Afghanistan – 22,000
      Viet Nam – 600,000
      Iraq – 200,000

      Yeah, I am appalled but not for the reasons they think I am

      Maybe that’s what they mean by “white privilege” -only white civilian deaths count.

      1. LawnDart

        only (the right) white civilian deaths count (if we want them to).

        See opioid crisis for details.

          1. Anon

            I agree… evidence of the media’s efforts at representation: they did try to spin that whole Tigrayan/Somalia thing pretty hard… didn’t catch on for some reason…

    4. KD

      According to Real Clear Investigations, Durham’s investigation is considering evidence that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election on behalf of the Hillary Clinton Campaign in an attempt to find dirt on her opponent:

      It is almost like the allegations against Trump, that he conspired with a foreign government to seek dirt on his political opponents, was actually what HRC was doing. I imagine in a democracy with a free press, this would be a big deal, except Orange Man Bad and Putler Bad.

      1. lance ringquist

        notice the statement about international institutions? its the W.T.O. and other fascist organizations he is alluding to.

    5. Alphonse

      I agree. I posted about this yesterday. An interview with John Robb on the topic is well worth listening to. He directly links with TDS.

      Robb says he advised the U.S. government with how to deal with insurgents during the Iraq war. He has a theory of what he calls “open source” insurgency and warfare conducted by distributed networks rather than directed hierarchically. Rather than coordinating with one another, individual actors choose to contribute to a plausible goal (I forget the exact term he uses). Often they are motivated by empathy triggers (again I forget the term).

      He says that the reaction of so many companies and organizations sanctioning Ukraine within just a few days could not have been organized by the U.S. government. The network (or swarm) emerged spontaneously in response to empathy triggers coming out of Ukraine. Because of his theory, he says he was tracking this from early days and saw that the first to promote the cancellation were members and organizations of the Resistance to Trump.

      The problem with the network is that it has no limits. Regardless of whether Russia gives in, its demands will increase until they include deposing Putin and disarming Russia of its nuclear weapons. Which will never happen: but the network also lacks a sense of its own mortality, so in its monomaniacal focus on punishing Russia it takes no heed of collateral damage and risk, like the risk of nuclear war.

      I think this connects with TDS – and also with social justice cancellations and in the persecution of the unvaccinated. The bottom-up emergence of a mass that pursues the destruction of a victim is theorized by Rene Girard in his theory of mimesis and scapegoating, by Mattias Desmet in his theory of mass formation (made famous around Covid), by Hannah Arendt in some of her work on totalitarianism, and some are apparent in the work of Byung-Chul Han, who described the digital swarm of social media. I talk about a bit of this in my comment from yesterday.

      I think we are in a very dangerous situation where a non-human entity – the swarm – is pivoting from and attempting to destroy one target after another, pulling our institutions (governments, firms, NGOs) behind in its wake. There is no-one in charge. Even if we avoid blowback from its actions against Russia, the fundamental problem and danger will not go away. Not only do we have no way to establish control or limits over this phenomenon: most of us are not even aware that it is happening, even as we become wrapped up in the mania.

      1. Lambert Strether

        > members and organizations of the Resistance to Trump

        When some of the more presentable members of the Azov Battalion surface in their Miami condos and start going on cable, Maddow can host them. Anybody who thinks that’s some kinda contradiction hasn’t been paying attention.

      2. Anon

        Well… perhaps these are the toddler’s first steps; the singularity may well be birthed from a primordial ooze of cat pictures and tutorials.

  20. RobertC

    The Indian diplomat (retired) MK Bhadrakumar at AsiaTimes explains how Zelensky rubbishes Biden’s war on Russia

    What was the need for all that happened in the period since mid-December when Russia transmitted to Washington its demands for security guarantees? This question will haunt US President Joe Biden long after he retires from public life.

    The foreign-policy legacy of his presidency and the reputation of this much-vaunted 80-year-old politician with a half-century’s record in public life, much of it supposedly in the domain of American foreign policy, are in tatters – irreparable.

  21. Petter

    The Night Porter – yes truly a movie I’ve never forgotten, not the whole plot but individual scenes. At the time I thought it was the most twisted movie I’d ever seen. Shout out to one of my all time favorite actors, Dirk Bogarde, who I’d watch in anything.

      1. Petter

        No, The man was not afraid. I’ve seen The Servant, another great Bogarde film. I’ve mentioned The Night Porter to wife off and through the years, for reasons I can’t recall so she finally decided to give it a try today (through a non- kosher but readily available movie torrent site.) She made it thirty five minutes into the film before saying “this is too much, although worth the acting if you can stomach it. I can’t.”
        As an aside, but possibly related I hate victim movies and TV shows, where the protagonist, usually a female, goes back to her home town to face her traumas and demons.
        I’ve thought of a plot where the protagonist is a victim of sexual abuse, bullying at school, an abusive marriage and finally age discrimination at work. Oh, and the protagonist is male. Don’t think it will sell.

    1. aletheia33

      i watched it for the first time this evening. thank you, lambert. have not read the linked article yet but some other current commentary. clearly totally misunderstood in america at time of issue–american reviewers could only recoil at their own responses of which they were ashamed. yes it is erotic. that is part of the point. we are complicit in our own seduction. so much more to it than that. actually in a whole different realm from that.

      a not-untimely interrogation of our own current times. and brutally honest about what resides in us humans that WILL out, given the right situation. how does a culture/society go mad? we are seeing it. what is the price paid in individual insanity, trauma, captivation, punishment, and so down through the generations to come? it is mysterious yet obvious, and that can be very confusing. only the deepest kinds of art can reveal it–and only then to those who are determined, or driven, to look reality in the face.

      i am a trauma survivor and i think this is a movie that touches greatness. just a personal opinion. but it is often we traumatized who will look the longest at what causes us pain. who are often driven to, and/or unable to look away. not to claim any special status–that does one no real good in the end.

      collette on writing: “Look long and hard at the things that please you, even longer and harder at what causes you pain.”

  22. Barbados Slim

    Some interesting citizen journalism with Andrew Callaghan following and interviewing elements of the “People’s Convoy.” Especially striking since he gets out of his van and actually talks with the little people. At one point he stops to talk with supporters standing on an overpass while some local news jockey looks on from a hundred feet away.

    Paints a pretty diverse picture. While there are some weirdos, they come off as incidental rather than the feeling of a freak show hitpiece msm usually goes for. He even interviews the organizer of the convoy at one point. Lots of people with lots of opinions, and more than a few valid concerns like farmers upset at the price of diesel making it impossible for them to make a living.

    It’s not all great. I skipped past some parts where he’s goofing around with some friends of his, but otherwise I found it a fascinating look at the discontent brewing in the US.

  23. Carolinian

    Interesting Al Pacino interview

    if I put “Dog Day Afternoon” with “Godfather,” or “Serpico,” I don’t see a resemblance there. Would you call Michael more introspective? That’s what I would say. And I don’t know of any other introspective characters I played

    In his later movies he doesn’t even look the same and has taken on a kind of fast talking wise guy persona that persists from film to film. As Cary Grant (born Archie Leach in England) said: you don’t know how hard it is to play Cary Grant.

    Here’s to those great performances before he put on the mask.

    1. OIFVet

      Dunno, he was still something else in “Scent of a Woman.” I remember watching it in high school at my friend’s house and his father, also a retired colonel, asking me whether I thought I would be able to do the right thing in a tough situation. In my youthful ignorance, I said ‘of course!’ That question often came back to me later in life in many situations. Needless to say, I had been very wrong. Seems easier now in my mid-40’s to do the right thing, but not by much. In any case, it was Pacino’s masterful performance beside my friend’s dad’s question that is the reason why I nonetheless continue to be mindful of and to try to do the right thing. So there’s that.

      1. Carolinian

        Oh he’s still a good actor and perhaps I’m being, as is my way, a bit too broad brush. But I’d argue that his work in the two Godfather movies and especially Godfather 2, was iconic. Part of it of course is that when actors have been in a lot of movies they start to develop recognizable tics. So we will say “oh there’s Meryl Streep pretending to be X,Y or Z and isn’t she good [?] at it.” Undoubtedly one thing that made those early perfs fresh was that he was new.

  24. fresno dan

    Supreme Court: Torture at CIA Black Site Is ‘State Secret’ Consortium News. Discusses Gorsuch’s ‘scathing dissent’.FWIW, Neil was in my HLS ’91 class. And unlike many of our classmates, who frequently marched in lockstep with ideologically compatible faculty or fellow students, he sought me out after a seminar in which I’d taken on Charles Fried (solicitor general under Bush senior) to offer gracious support. I appreciated that gesture – needless to say, such behavior was rare at HLS. I’m pleased to see he continues to eschew groupthink.

    fresno dan
    March 5, 2022 at 2:42 pm

    Regarding state secrets cases, I find this one a little more interesting than the one in today’s post (from March 5, 2022):
    The opinion came in the case of Zayn al-Abidin Muhammad Husayn, known as Abu Zubaydah, a Palestinian man who was mistakenly believed to be a high-level member of al-Qaeda when he was captured in Pakistan 20 years ago. While he was held at several overseas locations, including one in Poland, the CIA repeatedly subjected Abu Zubaydah to so-called “enhanced interrogation” techniques such as waterboarding and sleep deprivation before he was transferred to the military prison at Guantanamo, where he remains today.

    The dispute before the Supreme Court stems from Abu Zubaydah’s efforts to depose and seek documents from two former CIA contractors who Abu Zubaydah says supervised his interrogations. He wants to use the information in a criminal investigation in Poland, where prosecutors are investigating the abuse that occurred there. The U.S. government asserted that the information is protected by the state secrets privilege because, even though the location of the detention site has already been publicly disclosed, Abu Zubaydah’s request could compel former CIA contractors to confirm the location of the site – which would itself compromise national security. The Supreme Court agreed.
    In a 30-page dissent that was joined by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Justice Neil Gorsuch did not pull any punches, describing the torture of Abu Zubaydah in detail and lamenting recent trends toward “overclassification” of government documents.

    The focal point of the case, Gorsuch wrote, was information about Abu Zubaydah’s treatment while he was detained at a black site between December 2002 and September 2003. No one, Gorsuch noted, contends that this information is a state secret.

    Gorsuch rejected the idea that U.S. courts should unquestioningly accept the federal government’s assertion that Abu Zubaydah’s suit should be dismissed because disclosure of the information he is seeking would harm national security. The government should provide details to support its assertion, Gorsuch contended, and courts should decide for themselves whether the state secrets privilege applies. Gorsuch observed that although English monarchs “may have enjoyed the kind of latitude the government sought,” the “Constitution did not create a President in the King’s image but envisioned an executive regularly checked and balanced by other authorities.”

    With efforts by the executive branch to classify information increasing dramatically over the past 20 years – Gorsuch observed wryly that the government had even classified a memo from one senior military official to another on the topic of the over-classification of documents – it is even more important, Gorsuch posited, for courts to conduct a careful review when the executive branch asserts the state secrets privilege to try to shield information from disclosure.
    So Breyer thinks its OK and Gorsuch doesn’t. Its a crazy mixed up world…
    And then the whole thing about a state secret not actually being secret is beyond Kafkaesque

    Addendum 3/11/2022: The “Supreme” Court has made rulings over the course of its existence that defy logic and human decency, at really an outlandish rate. Yes, I know we are all indoctrinateed with Brown vs Board of Education as a great Supreme Court decision, but good grief, that decision is only correcting a massively wrong decision that the Supremes themselves made.

    1. Dave in Austin

      “In a 30-page dissent that was joined by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Justice Neil Gorsuch did not pull any punches…”

      Is this a PFA (pun false alarm) or are you saying Gorsuch is in favor of the enhanced interrogation of our government?

      1. fresno dan

        I would say that is the only way you would get the truth out of them (government defenders of enhanced interrogation, i.e., torture)…ironic, the only way to get the truth out of people who use enhanced interrogation on innocent (or at least not proven guilty) is to used enhanced interrogation, as our vaunted legal system “protections” aren’t worth a warm bucket of spit…

    2. Lynne

      So Breyer thinks its OK and Gorsuch doesn’t. Its a crazy mixed up world…

      Not really. Breyer was never as liberal as most seem to think. NC recently linked to articles examining his lamentable record on antitrust, for instance. And Gorsuch is not reactionary as most seem to think. I listened to a seminar on the McGirt decision (the Tulsa Indian country decision) and the Indian law lawyers said they were relieved when they first started to read the decision and saw Gorsuch authored it.

  25. dcblogger

    watching Glenn Greenwald on Ukraine is just plain embarrassing. Rather than having the grace to admit he was wrong about Russia invading he just doubles down on denial. It is possible to challenge the narrative on Ukraine without resorting to buffoonery.

    I am following Yasha Levine for all things Russia and Ukraine

    1. britzklieg

      are you actually “watching” Greenwald or are you just reading about him in Slate?

      “Vancouver Recital Society cancels performance by ‘genius’ 20-year-old Russian pianist”

      The artistic director cancelled the show of the young Russian musician in order “to take a firm stand in support of Ukraine”

    2. lyman alpha blob

      Sounds to me you’re looking for a specific narrative Greenwald isn’t willing to provide for you. I’ve read him for close to two decades now, and he’s been consistent, unlike the majority of what passes for “liberal” media infected with the TDS.

      The first paragraph of your link is complete BS for crying out loud. The international community is definitely not unified against Putin, as evidenced by the position of the two most populous countries in the world just for starters. Link after link have been provided at NC showing many other countries and/or their citizens not buying the Western line at all.

      1. AndrewJ

        I love paragraph 5, though. Check, check and check!

        Oh, wait, that’s supposed to be the wrong view? Darn.

        1. lyman alpha blob

          Haha! I hadn’t made it that far but you made me go back and look. And then in paragraph 6 we find that Russia is “the world’s most brazenly criminal imperialist state”. Clearly the Slate people have been getting the good weed!

          Any further hilarity will have to be for others to find – I can only take so much ridiculous propaganda in one day.

          1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

            Good for both of yall!

            Lol, I couldn’t get past the first half of the first sentence!!!!

    3. Jonathan Holland Becnel

      1st Sentence of the Article:

      “On the orders of President Vladimir Putin, Russia launched an unprovoked air and ground attack against Ukraine…”

      Unprovoked????? Sooooo Nazis having Nuclear Weapons on ur border is OK in ur view????

  26. LawnDart

    China Plans To Take Advantage Of The Big Oil Exodus From Russia

    It’s a win-win situation, and it has one potentially crucial bonus: it would further strengthen non-dollar transactions between the two countries, undermining the global dominance of the greenback, and, over time, immunizing the two countries from future sanction action.

    All this would deepen an already significant disadvantage for the West. In fact, for some, the scenario of a Russia-China partnership falls in the “nightmare” category. Yet it has been the West that has been the most active in enabling this partnership by failing to consider the consequences of its actions.

    The article states that it’s not just oil, Chinese are interested in other asset-classes too– it’s like the West is holding a massive “going out of business” sale, the likes of which haven’t been seen since the early 1990s as states sold off the assets of the defunct Soviet Union.

    The West is like a compulsive gambler who’s maxed-out the credit cards, mortgaged the house, got title loans on the cars, and raided the kid’s college fund, but they know that their number’s gonna hit…

    1. Screwball

      Looks to me like we are going out of business. This country is a hot mess with no direction. I thought the adults were in charge now.

    2. RobertC

      Another excellent analysis by Irina Slav. Here’s the money quote for me

      “The wave of sanctions against Russia was meant to punish the Kremlin—and the Russian population along with it—for the invasion of Ukraine. One very big unintended consequence of that punishment, however, was pushing Russia and China further into each other’s arms.”

    3. PlutoniumKun

      What the analysis misses though is that in most of those cases, the western partner wasn’t just bringing cash, but also knowhow. This is particularly important for the Russians as they lag significantly in the drilling and extraction technology they will need for semi-depleted wells and Arctic waters. The Chinese may be able to bring money, but they don’t have the know-how either. And I suspect that the Russians will be loath to give too much control to the Chinese in any of their key resources. So I wouldn’t read too much into this.

      1. RobertC

        PK — two points:

        1. With their surprise at China’s UN abstentions, it is apparent the Biden State Department was expecting China to distance from Russia. Vice my contention that twenty years ago when China resolved it’s 2,600 mile border with Russia, mostly in Russia’s favor and to their mutual security benefit, the goal was the closer association we’ve been seeing evolve. And that’s what I was referring to even if Irina mightn’t.

        2. Know-how can cross borders fairly easily, especially when enticed by promotion, prestige and monetary incentives. It worked for China with Taiwan semiconductor expertise and I see no reason it won’t for drilling and extraction expertise.

        1. juno mas

          Yes, and Russians are not morons. For Chrisake, they have developed hypersonic weapons, developed the most trusted rocket engines, and have a culture steeped in serious education.

          Russia may be a mostly conservative, religious culture, but I’m sure they are ready to adapt to a New World Order.

  27. John Mc

    Re: Ukraine & US Pushing No-Fly Zone

    Last night, I watched a movie “Revealing Ukraine” by Oliver Stone (not the same one as his interview with Putin called Ukraine on Fire).

    And in watching this, I saw how the US hides behind Ukrainians for cover when being overtly aggressive (Maidan massacre, bombing in the Donbass regions, and removal of Yanukovich as President) —–> “It wasn’t us but the Ukrainian people.” McCain, Nuland, Pyatt, et al scrubbed from the picture as the West covers up the lobbying efforts since 2008 in Washington. Biden giving a speech in Ukraine to their Congress telling them exactly how to impress the world, demonstrate worthiness for NATO inclusion.

    Other forms of aggressive behavior also include strong-arming Germany and Nord Stream 2, Media saturation of Pro-Ukrainian army narratives (including alt-right and Banderite factions – albeit around 10% of fighters). Sanctions, pushing CoVid to the backburner, and seething during the Olympics watching Xi-Putin connect all contribute to the US honing in on more aggressive responses, but no No-Fly Zone.

    And the other forms of hypocrisy – going to Venezuela for oil? I hope the group that went down to meet with Maduro avoided the wooden weapons, funny flotilla and Gilligan island landings. Cannot think of a more humiliating foreign policy request (with the previous bombast of Mike Pompeo) than asking the country we have been trying to suffocate for the last 10 years – “hey man, can we buy some of your oil or buy it back better”?

    So, this no fly-zone is another proto-right-wing fantasy meant to give rise to the appearance of toughness but without any thought as to how wars breakout. In my estimation (especially after seeing Stone’s documentary last night), the US sees itself as a country who can still do whatever it wants, when it wants (help killing 100 Ukrainians at the Maidan or arm the right wing nationalists to wage war on Eastern Ukraine for years) so we cannot throw the No-Fly out the window totally – since it is a possibility given previous behavior.

    Additionally, when it gets caught (like Nuland’s – “Fuck the EU” or “Yats is the guy”), they hide behind the Ukrainians, NATO, and Russia blaming as a way to avoid taking responsibility. It really speaks to how fast America has descended, it makes me wonder if we are the unipolar force around the world or the World’s parent —- instead we are the selfish adolescent who has not learned the lessons they needed to and refuses to take responsibility for their mistakes while the rest of the world grows weary of dealing with us.

    No Fly Zones – what hubris?

  28. Tom Collins' Moscow Mule

    von Neumann stories and anecdotes are no doubt entertaining,

    1. “Two bicyclists start twenty miles apart and head toward each other, each going at a steady rate of 10 m.p.h. At the same time, a fly that travels at a steady 15 m.p.h. starts from the front wheel of the southbound bicycle and flies to the front wheel of the northbound one, then turns around and flies to the front wheel of the southbound one again, and continues in this manner till he is crushed between the two front wheels. Question: what total distance did the fly cover?”

    “There are two ways to answer the problem. One is to calculate the distance the fly covers on each leg of its trips between the two bicycles and finally sum the infinite series so obtained. The quick way is to observe that the bicycles meet exactly an hour after they start so that the fly had just an hour for his travels; the answer must therefore be 15 miles. When the question was put to von Neumann, he solved it in an instant, and thereby disappointed the questioner: “Oh, you must have heard the trick before!”

    “What trick,” asked von Neumann, “all I did was sum the infinite series.”

    2. “There was a seminar for advanced students in Zürich that I was teaching and von Neumann was in the class. I came to a certain theorem, and I said it is not proved and it may be difficult. von Neumann didn’t say anything but after five minutes he raised his hand. When I called on him he went to the blackboard and proceeded to write down the proof. After that I was afraid of von Neumann” — George Pólya

    “The Unparalleled Genius of John von Neumann”

    3. Yet, “His private life was less productive and rewarding, however. After von Neumann’s death, his second wife, computer scientist Klára Dán, who remarried for the fourth time before taking her own life in 1963, penned an unfinished memoir. Quoted in Marina von Neumann Whitman’s 2012 book, The Martian’s Daughter, the memoir’s chapter entitled “Johnny” opens as follows: “I would like to tell about the man, the strange contradictory and controversial person; childish and good-humoured, sophisticated and savage, brilliantly clever yet with a very limited, almost primitive lack of ability to handle his emotions – an enigma of nature that will have to remain unresolved.”

    1. c_heale

      The fact Neumann didn’t know the “trick” in the first example given, is a sign of lack of a certain kind of intelligence.

  29. Jason Boxman

    The law didn’t stop the Soviet Union from invading Western Europe, after all; raw American power did.

    From the Atlantic article.

    I guess I’ll just leave it at that, for at this late a date I’m not sure what the indications were that Stalin intended to conquer Europe in ’45.

    1. lordkoos

      On a related note, without Russia’s help, the US could not have defeated Germany in WWII. Here in the US we are taught that America won WWII while Russia’s huge sacrifice of personnel is rarely mentioned.

      1. Late Introvert

        Pretty sure Russia defeated Germany, with some help from the US, not the other way around.

        1. rowlf

          It is estimated by the Soviets that the US provided a 12 to 15% material benefit to their war effort, but unfortunately nobody wanted to concede the fact afterwards as each side made faces at each other.

          Supposedly the Soviets would run Studebaker trucks in their commemorative parades.

  30. Sean gorman

    Noticed it was quiet in here for a while after the links went up. Laugh, cry or hide seem the only sane way to deal with the madness. Having deactivated the Facebook some time ago in a quest for mental equilibrium, I flipped it back on to check on the depth of the penetration. Alas, near total. With homosexuals using homosexual smears to tar enemies, socialists not only parroting the Imperial propaganda but gleefully creating more, and zuck suggesting killing Russian babies to save Ukrainian babies. I call for the owners(shareholders) and mgmt to be indicted and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. As a Canadian citizen I call on the gov’t of my country to stop the flow of arms, material and combatants into an area of ethno-religious strife. I would advise all who I love to avoid this juggernaut as best they are able, and to those who add their weight to said juggernaut, well, should there be a judgment day and we meet in the queue, I will wish you the same love and. mercy that I hope for myself.

  31. Dave in Austin

    Today’s Ukraine news:

    First, a bit of a contradiction. 2.5 of the 44 million people in the Ukraine have left during the past two weeks. Yet the Ukrainian government says that 2 million people have left Kiev. My guess is that most Ukrainians are heading for villages in the Ukraine where they have relatives, especially villages in the ethnically Ukrainian, western part of the country. The Russian language speakers who predominantly live in the eastern and southern parts of the country are less likely to leave for two reasons, first they are less unhappy about the arrival of the Russian army, second, they would be fleeing to villages closer to the battle line.

    If this continues we may begin to see what I think of as a soft ethnic cleansing. Not a Yugoslav-style massacre of the innocents, but more like the ethnic realignment in Canada, where English-speaking people left Montreal, or the “liberal-conservative” shift in the US which is tending to make liberal areas more liberal and conservative areas more conservative.

    Demographics and population increase-and-decrease drive a fair amount of history. To get the 44 million number, above, I Googled “Ukraine population” (try it yourself) and unexpectedly got back an interesting chart comparing the population of the Ukraine, Poland and Turkey since 1960. The Ukrainian population went from 42 million to 44 million; the Turkish population went from 27 million to 84 million. Now let’s be clear; this is Google giving me not what I asked for but what Google thinks I should know. Propaganda takes many forms.

    By the way, 2 million Ukrainians were working in the EU before this crisis and 3 million were working in Russia. Those numbers haven’t changed.

    1. Polar Socialist

      According to the 2019 census there were 37.3 million people in Ukraine (Wikipedia), excluding Crimea and separatists areas. There were doubts that even that number was too high, since it was an estimate based on “a variety of sources, including mobile phone operators, sociologists, the statistical research of households, public registries, and the pension fund”.

      I recall reading one headmaster of a school saying that only 75% of kids who started her school stayed until graduation, mostly because their families moved abroad. It’s anecdotal, sure, but according to Wikipedia, right after the independence there were 52 million people in Ukraine. Which also turns out to be a loss of ~27%.

      1. Louis Fyne

        pre-war, Ukraine had the world’s % of people in diaspora. the only countries above it were war-torn countries, Syria, Palestine, etc.

        Anyone with English skills are going to the EU. Russian skills to Russia. Ukraine will be a nation of pensioners

  32. sidd

    I like railways and travelling by trains. There are four (broad, meter, narrow and standard) different gauges extant in India and i think i have travelled over all of them.


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