Links 3/23/2022

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.

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P.P.S. One of our mods is on holiday till the end of the month, so comment liberation may take longer than usual. We are very sorry! Please be patient.

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Mollusc of the year 2022: The Cuban painted snail (Polymita picta) Senkenberg (Dr. Kevin)

Scientists untangle mystery of naked giant chalk sculpture in England — with the help of some snails ZmeScience (Dr. Kevin)

How aluminum cans are formed Boing Boing (resilc)

First people in America didn’t arrive by land bridge but by SEA due to Game-of-Thrones-esque wall of ice that new research suggests may have covered the area that is now Alaska Daily Mail



Italian study shows ventilation can cut school COVID cases by 82% Reuters (resilc)


Perspective | Why I’m stocking up on masks and tests Washington Post (resilc)

Hillary Clinton tests positive for Covid-19 NBC (furzy)

From resilc:


Ann Arbor dimming city lights to raise awareness about climate change Michigan Live. ma: “Well that should fix the climate problem…..”

A Drowning World: Kenya’s Quiet Slide Underwater Guardian


China-India ties ‘to ease’ after 2020-22 clashes Asia Times (Kevin W)

Old Blighty

Why a British ferry company has hired Indians at “poverty wages” Quartz (resilc)

Not So Cold New Cold War

Larry C. Johnson: “The Ukrainian Army Has Been Defeated. What’s Left Is Mop-Up” Mike Whitney, Unz Review (Li). As we said in our post yesterday, save that the mopping-up could take a while, since the forces near Kiev need to be taken out of action. But a very pointed take and extremely critical of MSM/official spin. Whitney often writes at Counterpunch. The venues for realist takes in the US look to be very limited.

What the ‘chattering classes’ of Russia are talking about: update Gilbert Doctorow (guurst). Cheery news that Poland is thinking of moving troops into Ukraine, which Biden looks to be encouraging. Since that Kinzhal missile is continuing to be A Topic, from Doctorow’s wrap of Russian political shows:

….the American views to be demolished were those of the President and of the Pentagon commenting on Russia’s use this past week of its hypersonic missile Kinzhal to attack a military target in Ukraine. President Biden was quoted as saying that he saw nothing special about the Kinzhal other than speed, that its warheads were the common variety. The Pentagon was quoted as saying that the Russians “appear” to have fired their Kinzhal in Ukraine, which would be a wasted effort for the given target.

Nikonov’s guests pointed out that the target of the first Kinzhal strike was a “nuclear attack hardened” structure 60 meters underground and protected by reinforced concrete dating from Soviet days. Inside this bunker were Ukrainian missiles and other munitions of high value. In other words, thanks to the incredible energy of mass and speed, the Kinzhal using what they characterized as one of its weaker potential conventional, as opposed to tactical nuclear charges could destroy a target otherwise considered protected against a nuclear armed ICBM. Nothing special about this weapon system, eh?

The Return of the Hawks Sohrab Ahmari, Compact (Li)

US fighting Russia ‘to the last Ukrainian’: veteran US diplomat YouTube (b1whois). Chas Freeman and Aaron Mate. This is interesting but my trust in Freeman’s reading tanked at 5:18 when he suggested China might be mediating, which is supported by absolutely no evidence and contradicted by numerous statements by Chinese officials and official organs, starting with Xi himself to Biden: “He who tied the bell to the tiger must take it off.” So it’s not clear Freeman is paying close enough attention to have a good view. But he does offer important historical perspective.

Turkey Rejects US Proposal To Send Russian-Made S-400 Missile Systems To Ukraine Republic. From Monday, still of interest.

The “Aleppo Playbook” is nothing but bullshit propaganda Turcopolier (resilc)

* * *

PATRICK LAWRENCE: Imperial Infantilism ConsortiumNews

What Are The Top Five Geostrategic Trends Of Biden’s “New World Order”? OneWorld (Micael T)

Cracks in the mainstream narrative on the Ukraine war wide enough to drive a tank through Gilbert Doctorow (guurst). Oof, key factoid:

The militants are still holding more than 100,000 residents [in Mariupol] hostage and shooting anyone trying to use the humanitarian corridors opened to them by the Russians.

Half Mariupol Under Russian Control, Zelensky Open to Talks on Crimea, Donbass, US Sanctions China Alexander Mercouris. The early section, on Gulf State nations meeting with Assad, the BoJo meetings flop (I did link to a story on it when it was being set up) and an India-China meeting, is telling. Later he reports on the action in the Russian financial markets as they are being reopened, and then turns to the US escalating v. China less than a week after Biden telling Xi the US wanted good relations with China. Freeman may be sound on a high level but be careful on his command of fine points,

Pearl Harbor My Eye! David Stockman, (Li). From a few days ago, still germane.

The Ukrainian Conflict Shows The Importance Of Non-Western Alternatives OneWorld (Micael T)

EU country says it won’t integrate Ukrainian refugees RT (Kevin W)

Zelensky hails Ukrainian fightback as US plans fresh sanctions on Moscow Financial Times

Exclusive: Ukraine 2022 spring crop sowing area could be halved – ministerReuters

Oil risks further surge in price after pipeline damage, experts warn RT (Kevin W). Hoo boy. I assume this is legit but if not, it would fit the profile of the sort of “passive-aggressive sanction” I mentioned earlier.

Los Angeles gas prices hit average of $6 Fox Business. Kevin W: “I am only sending this link as it has a simple map showing average gas prices by State.” Moi: I’ve been privately predicting gas at $6 a gallon by the end of April, $7 in high cost/high tax states. That looks like a more obvious call in light of the Caspian pipeline event.

Chevron, Waiting It Out in Venezuela, Tells U.S. Now Is the Time to Pump Oil Wall Street Journal (Brunches with Cats)

German regulator prepares for potential energy rationing next winter Financial Times

US & UK Announce Trade Deal to End Tariffs on Steel, Aluminum Products Sputnik (Kevin W)

French bank BNP Paribas halts financial transactions in Russia France24 (furzy)

Ukraine: Oligarch says he ditched mansions before sanctions BBC (resilc)

The Daily Beast Is Trying To Get Me Killed Gonzalo Lira. “Just because you are paranoid does not mean they are not out to get you.” This chat is way too long but Lira’s headline point is correct.


Colorado Moves to Divest Pension Funds from Ben & Jerry’s Parent Company Over Israeli Settlement Ban (resilc)

Syria using maze of shell companies to avoid sanctions on Assad regime’s elite Guardian

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Android’s Messages, Dialer Apps Quietly Sent Text, Call Info To Google The Register

Imperial Collapse Watch

US Needs More Arms Factories, Says Chief Weapons-Buyer Nominee Defense One (resilc)

Why the Navy carried pigeons aboard its first aircraft carrier Task and Purpose (BC)


Cowboys for Trump founder convicted for breaching Capitol grounds on Jan. 6

Jan. 6 prosecution: Enrique Tarrio’s indictment already surfaced a chilling Capitol riot document. Slate (furzy)


Hawley, Jackson clash over handling of child pornography case The Hill

Democrats en déshabillé

Latinx’ and ‘Defund the Police’ Are Driving Latinos to the G.O.P. New York Times (resilc)

Abrams files lawsuit arguing fundraising disadvantages in Georgia The Hill (furzy)

Expanded Child Tax Credit Would Pay Huge Dividends: Report Yahoo (furzy). But our Dems don’t believe in helping people…you have to earn it or at least be “deserving poor.”

Police State Watch

Legal Aid Society files lawsuit against NYPD, accusing police of collecting DNA for ‘rogue’ database ABC7 New York (BC)


While you were busy watching the war, life in America goes on as usual:

Arkansas Car Show Shooting Sees Children and Baby Shot – Dallas, Austin See Gun Violence Esquire (furzy)

New Rules Put Net Zero Pledges Under Scrutiny Wall Street Journal (Li)

Teens Are Struggling To Quit Smoking and Vaping The Verge

The case for decriminalizing the street sale of buprenorphine STAT (Dr. Kevin)

Americans’ favorite craft brews may get more expensive Quartz

Global Bond Plunge Wipes Out $2.6 Trillion, Exceeding Losses of 2008 Financial Crisis Bloomberg

Class Warfare

Oxfam: Almost one-third of US workers make less than $15 an hour The Hill

It’s All Oligarchs All the Way Down Counterpunch (resilc)

DC Sues Grubhub, Claiming App Is Full of Hidden Fees and High Prices The Verge

Antidote du jour. An antidote from long ago by Emma S I somehow missed. Apologies!

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Steve H.

    > Whitney often writes at Counterpunch.

    Past tense. For some reason, I remembered him last week and went looking. Hasn’t been on Counterpunch in years, not sure why.

    1. jo6pac

      He hasn’t been there since Alex died and guess the new leader doesn’t like him. CP has turned into an Anti Russian site and a lot pro west story’s now. Sad

      1. Nikkikat

        Yes, they have turned into a anti Russian site. I enjoyed his Friday articles but not much else that is published there. I won’t be reading his articles now either.

      2. Guild Navigator

        Yup. Erik Draitser who runs their podcast gave a really moronic, demagogic pro-USA at the lame podcast failed state update for Masochistic listeners only! My ears were bleeding from all his RA RA RA, multipolarity is a Russian word, etc. Zero pushback from J.G. Michaels of Parallax Views, who was guest host that day. Very sad on all counts.

    2. Carolinian

      Diana Johnstone used to write for Counterpunch. Even Paul Craig Roberts used to write for Counterpunch. St Clair seems to have a different taste in writers–or perhaps one should say less tolerant taste in writers–than the late Cockburn.

      1. jo6pac

        Agree. I’ve stopped going there except Fridays and even then I’m disappointed. I’m glad they found a new place to write

      2. trogg

        Counterpunch used to be my go-to. The loss of Johnstone was a bad sign. I find some of the regulars so loathsome that it was hard for me to bring myself to visit the site for a long while — Eric Draister in particular. I hate to speak ill of the dead, but thankfully I’ll never have to scroll past something written by the late Louis Proyect ever again. I now check in sometimes to read Patrick Cockburn’s columns (presently paywalled on the Independent), Dean Baker, and a few others. St. Clair’s columns are also worth reading even though they’ve turned into Twitter posts. On the bright side they also no longer publish Alexander Reid Ross. I’m not sure the changes are entirely down to Cockburn’s passing. They took flak for publishing a writer who turned out to be a Russian intelligence op.

        1. Soredemos

          I hate to speak ill of the dead, but thankfully I’ll never have to scroll past something written by the late Louis Proyect ever again.

          Glad to see I’m not the only one.

    3. Benny

      A lot changed after Alexander Cockburn died and St, Claire took over, but after Trump’s election there was a massive purge of regular contributors. Anyone with a whiff-O-the-right about them, or who cross-published at sites that St. Claire doesn’t like. I kept visiting for a couple of years but eventually Counterpunch just seemed useless to me and I stopped. But to be honest, Whitney was one of the casualties that I was least upset to see ejected. His articles started foaming at the mouth and getting more than a touch tin-foily.
      Seeing his name attached to an article at Unz gave me a nasty twinge. I’ve read some interesting things at Unz, but I’ve also seen some truly crazed anti-Jewish and red-scare bile spewed out there.

  2. bassmule

    re: 9,000 craft breweries: In 1984, I was working for Technomic’s packaging group, doing a study on returnable bottles vs. one-way. That year there were 44 working breweries in the US. I knew craft brewing was big (I was living in Asheville NC when it was named “Beer City”) but almost 9,000? Gob-smacked.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      A lot of craft breweries are tiny. I know of one that is literally located in a disused lock up garage. And not a big garage.

      Oddly enough, its one of the biggest of all breweries, Guinness, that is taking sustainability in its barley and hops sourcing more seriously – they are putting big money into regenerative agriculture for their barley sourcing. The problem with small craft breweries is that they are pretty much at the mercy of the market for high quality barley and, in particular, hops. The only good news with climate change is that its increasing the area of northern hemisphere lands where hops can be grown.

      1. mary jensen

        Pacific Northwest. Washington State and Oregon.
        My grandmother born 1905 picked hops for a wage. She covered herself in long-sleeved shirts to protect her skin despite the heat and wore a sort of fedora hat to protect her face.

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      It might be a good time to review some of the recipes for making alcoholic beverages other than beer [easy for me to say as a wine and hard liquor drinker]. Get you a copper kettle, and get you a copper coil, use no green nor rotten wood, so they’ll not get you by the smoke.

  3. JohnA

    Why a British ferry company has hired Indians at poverty wages

    The answer is the same as ‘why does a dog lick its balls? Because it can’.

    The Dover MP, a Conservative, went along to a demonstration in Dover, and to a chorus of boos, said she was going to do something. What she then did was vote against an emergency vote in the House of Commons to condemn the P&O decision.
    Another Brexit bonus. P&O are not doing the same thing in France or The Netherlands.

    1. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you, John.

      That happened to colleagues and me a year ago when working for a German bank.

      Did you notice New New Labour’s games, asking the government if the P&O move is illegal? The move is entirely legal and became so under Thatcher and Major. Blair and Brown / New Labour did nothing about it. Neither did the unions funder of the Labour Party.

  4. Mr Magoo

    Re: CW: woman tied to a pole

    I went thru the comments, checked some additional resources. The headline comments on the picture were hard to verify. Even though this is not the only picture like this, it seems to be as much assigning a random narrative to a picture without more context. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Russians singled out post-invasion. However, seems weak to use one wrong justify another.

    1. Polar Socialist

      The first time I saw pictures of women with green faces tied to posts, they were said to be gypsies from Odessa.

      When you say “Russian”, do you mean an ethnic Russian, a citizen of Russia, a Russian speaking Ukrainian or merely any person not conforming to strictly defined Ukrainian ethnicity?

      Anyway, I don’t assume these (and dozens of others alike) pictures and videos from Ukrainian social media are are presented as a justification for invasion (there were none before it), but as a pointer the the fact that in many cities in Ukraine the mob rules. Whether you take that as a symptom of a nation pulling together or breaking apart is up to you.

    2. The Rev Kev

      Would it make it better if you learned that these people are “only” Gypsies whom the Ukrainian far right have also been beating up the past few years because they are not racially pure? But the hatred for Russian-speakers is real as testified by the eight years that they have been shelling the Donbass Republics and killing maybe 12,000 people, mostly civilians.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        Estimates more like 13,000 to 14,000, and what I consider to be a more telling indicator, ~ 1.5 million refugees, who fled to Russia and Belarus.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Lots of those first wave of refugees did came back soon enough – as trained soldiers. In the first year or so it was the older guys that held the line against the Ukrainian military in the Donbass, especially those who had once served in Afghanistan. The younger guys were across the border in Russia being trained, organized and equipped into military units. They came back in time for the first Ukrainian invasion where they formed a cauldron around that force and crushed them.

        2. john d

          I’ve seen 1.5 to 1.8 million displaced. 0.5 million to Russia and the balance internally displaced in Ukraine – roughly 50/50 between gov and non gov controlled area.
          Of the 13-14k killed , approximately 4k civilians killed.

      1. Dave in Austin

        I saw the videos. The reports I saw said “Looters” and “Sellers of moonshine”. Not spies or saboteurs; they’d get a lot worse… in private. I know this stuff isn’t pretty, but it is wartime, there are no jails and courts operating. So we get this sort of rough justice. Men with their pants pulled down, penises showing and potatoes stuffed in their mouths. The women got the same treatment but only topside. Ukrainian Victorianism says “no panties down” for the women. Winter can be cold but nobody was wearing a heavy jacket so it was a warm day.

        The one time I saw a civilian screaming, picking up a stick and beating the person tied-up (“rule of thumb” sized stick), after about 10 seconds one of the people doing the wrapping intervened to stop it. Not pretty but not “hung from a lamp post with a sign saying looter” stuff or waterboarding with grinning US reservist-girls standing on the naked guys for a little “softening up”. More like the Paris August, 1944 “Women with shaved heads for dating Germans” stuff. I wasn’t surprised or shocked.

        I did think the cling-wrap was an interesting wartime innovation. But fraternities were half a decade ahead of them I hear. Pledge week. “You should judge a society by the tightness of its cling-film”. Not exactly the old India Indian move of wrapping the victim in wet cloth and putting him out in the sun so the cloth can dry… and shrink. More like the Pilgrims putting debtors and fornicators in the stocks on the village green for a day-or-two.

    3. Paleobotanist

      It looks like she has been sexually molested: note green dye smeared on her breasts, particularly the right. She is unlikely to have done that to herself, ruining her clothing. Not a nice a nice sight.

      I haven’t been looking for these pictures, but I have seen other pictures of other individuals treated this way. The children are very disturbing to see.

      1. JohnA

        One short video clip on twitter shows a guy clingfilm bound to a post and being brutally beaten by some cowardly type who knows the guy is literally defenceless.
        But then again, this is propaganda by omission from western mainstream media.

        As for the availability of clingfilm, I have flown to/from several airports in east Europe, and heavyduty clingfilm machines to wrap your luggage are a common sight, I didnt ask as I prefer to carry on my case, but assumed it was a kind of anti-tamper security measure. So I guess that kind of clingfilm is readily available. It is not the kitchen fridge stuff.

        1. Louis Fyne

          clingfilmed to a pole generally = purported/alleged looter.

          although who knows the truth. anarchy = good time to settle scores. or make people guilty even if innocent

          1. playon

            When Ukraine began giving out weapons to anyone who wanted one (including children) there was mention of some people using the guns to settle scores and for other personal reasons.

        2. Aaron

          That cling film is standard for wrapping pallets so any warehouse would have a bunch of it.

          There are a lot of these “marauder” (in Ukrainian мародер) videos and pictures out there. I have seen multiple reports they are coming from Ukrainian Telegram accounts.

          A Twitter account that was reporting on this just got banned but his Telegram is here.

    4. johnherbiehancock

      I recall back in 2014 looking at maps of Ukraine’s provinces (or as they call them “oblasts”) color coded by percentage of Russian speakers.

      Even as far west as Kyiv, I recall it was closer to 50%. In the eastern provinces (not just Donetsk and Lugansk) it was 90-100%.

      speaking Russian tracked heavily, but not exclusively, with being ethnically Russian. A lot of Ukrainians still spoke Russian though… especially if they were married to Russians, which was common. And there didn’t seem to be much of a distinction between the two, right up until this century. Seemed akin to an American marrying a Canadian. Maybe there would be some joking or exaggerating ethnic differences, but no significant barriers… same language, much shared culture, geographic proximity, etc.

      Not sure what the percentage is now; I assume a lot has shifted over the past 8 years. But I wonder if a lot of people realize that just a few years ago, in Mariupol and points farther east, the majority of the people would have been targets for this sort of “tar and feather” treatment.

      1. Polar Socialist

        I read earlier about the linguistic history of Ukraine that during the industrialization in the late 19th century a lot of Russians moved to the new factories and mines. Basically both elite and city folks spoke mainly Russian and countryside spoke Ukrainian, which soon led to Russia being seen as higher status language and many people switching over. This did not happen in western Ukraine, which at the time was part of Austria-Hungary.

        In recent years there has been a ‘decommunization’ campaign, which has included besides changing place names and western transliteration also heavy repression of Russian language usage.

        I guess I’m trying to say that the language and ethnicity link is much more complex issue in Ukraine than it may seem.

        1. Paleobotanist

          How different are Ukrainian and Russian? The difference between Spanish and Portuguese, so that you can understand the other language with listening hard, but not speak it immediately? Anyone who speaks both languages here care to comment?


          1. OnceWereVirologist

            I would say a good comparison is with English and Lowland Scots. If you’ve never heard Scots English before you won’t understand a word but once you’ve got your ear in you can start to get at least the gist without much effort or formal study.

          2. Polar Socialist

            Having no authority in this matter, I have to turn to Wikipedia. According to which there is no linguistical border between Ukrainian and Russian.

            But both languages have many geographically defined dialects. The standard Ukrainian is the dialect spoken in Kiev – Poltava region, while the standard Russian is the dialect of Moscow (which itself is a mixture of northern and southern dialects). There are just two dialects between the two: Ukrainian spoken from north of Kiev is the same as Russian spoken in Bryansk and Smolensk, turning then to Tver dialect east of Moscow. 160 miles south of Moscow Russians speak the same dialect Ukrainians speak in Kharkov area. So, it depends.

            According to EZGlot similarity metrics Spanish and Catalan are closer to each other than Ukrainian and Russian, while Spanish and Portuguese are further away. They are likely talking about the standard versions, though.

            1. PlutoniumKun

              The Langfocus channel on YT gives a very good overview of the differences.

              I think a simple way to put it is that Ukrainian (especially Western Ukrainian dialect) is somewhere between Polish and Russian.

  5. The Rev Kev

    “Zelensky hails Ukrainian fightback as US plans fresh sanctions on Moscow”

    The TV news made a big deal about this but I was not so convinced. In attacking, the Ukrainians must be using up men and resources that perhaps can only be replaced with difficulty or maybe not at all. Certainly the Russians would have no need to defend a patch of earth to the last man when they can pull back and reorganize & resupply. Maybe it will only be the shock of the Ukrainian army in that cauldron in the east surrendering that will make them aware that perhaps things will not develop to their wishes, no matter how many Javelins the west sends them. But I detect a feeling in interviews that they are getting resentful that NATO is not coming in to fight the Russians and that the west is still buy oil & gas from the Russians when it is obvious to their thinking that that must all come to an immediate stop.

    1. JohnA

      And the Russians have now figured out that the Ukrainian forces do not have anti-aircraft thermal imaging weaponry so now most Russian airforce sorties are done at night.

    2. OnceWereVirologist

      I saw this hyped on the mainstream news shows this evening as a sort of turning of the tide for the Ukrainian Army. Makariv, the town claimed to be retaken near Kiev, only has a population of 10,000. Not exactly Operation Bagration. Interestingly, as soon as I heard the news this morning, I checked the Wikipedia entry for the town of Makariv and found nothing beyond the fact that Russia had briefly occupied the town in the first week of the invasion but the Ukrainians had pushed them out a few days later. Since this morning the Wikipedia entry has been edited and now has a much more detailed story that says the Russians reoccupied the town but gives no source or specific date for when that happened. Smells of information operations to me.

  6. DJG, Reality Czar

    The esteemed Katie Halper talks with Vijay Prashad, who brings an Indian-leftist view to the anniversaries of the invasion of Iraq and of Libya. Yes, end of March.

    Listen for the part about U.N. bureaucrats and their manifest incompetence in gathering information about the Libyan situation. Why, Jen Psaki looks competent in comparison.

    And there are the reminders of what is an illegal war.

    And if Prashad is in any way representative of the general thinking in India, the U.S. has a big problem.

    I read Patrick Lawrence’s article about American infantilism yesterday. Bracing.

    How fast can one force people to grow up, learn about the world outside the shopping mall, make an effort to have some compassion, and to stop with the Smart Mouth (the most important U.S. cultural “signifier”)? We’re talking about 50 or 70 years of degradation to reach endless Two Minutes Hate.

      1. B1whois

        This should give you some idea of how that comment is going down with a very popular debate program on english-language Indian TV. In my opinion the analysis is really robust of the overall situation, but not perfect.

        1. Norm de plume

          I have seen several Indian reactions, one from a retired general. If you could characterise their stance toward the US in one word it would be ‘contempt’.

          To see Pakistani leader Imran Khan vocally support India’s position re continuing to trade with Russia in particular and acting it its own best interests in general, wondering aloud if the US thought everyone else their ‘slaves’, was sobering indeed. It is akin to Ian Paisley and Gerry Adams taking a stand together.

          Europe will soon look like an impoverished appendage to the rapidly consolidating Asian continent, with the Russo-Chinese alliance centering a sphere of influence involving Iran, India/Pak, Saudi and perhaps also Africa, where Russia seems to be in far better shape in terms of historical goodwill.

          What a hubris-driven own goal. George Kennan and the more recently departed Stephen Cohen must be gyrating in their graves.

          Good job Joe!

    1. hunkerdown

      The relations of the home are reproduced in the larger world. Americans will grow up when their social “parents” stop baby-talking to them from helicopters, or they run away from home.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      The weirdest thing is that they are discussing using drugs to try to remove the advantage any trans woman had from having higher testosterone as a teenager. The whole thing is just nuts.

      Of course, if you lifted the ban on performance enhancing drugs, you would have something like body building, with freakish body shapes and lots of early deaths. It would be the death of most sports. People like to at least pretend that their heroes are clean.

      The problem is though that there are increasing difficulties in maintaining a clear distinction between being ‘clean’ or not. In cycling, biological passports have reduced extreme doping, but have in a way legitimised low level dosing to, for example, maintain a red blood cell count just within what is considered ‘acceptable’. Extending this to trans athletes would mean entirely arbitrary biological definitions of femaleness which could only be maintained through the use of drugs. After all, if a trans woman can compete by proving she can lower her testosterone to X level, then a woman with lower testosterone can legitimately argue that she should be able to raise her levels to match.

          1. mary jensen

            I’m in favor of launching “Dopolympics” wherein all contestants can take any ‘performance enhancing’ whatever: pills, syrups, IVs etc but must declare all dope, steroids, etc before competition and of course be tested after competition to verify if the declaration is truthful. They’re gonna take the stuff anyway so let’s judge them accordingly. Might even be good for ‘science’.

    2. Dandelion

      Because doing so would make male sports unfair.

      But as a matter of fact, IOC regulations do now allow any female athlete who declares themselves a man to compete in male sports and increase circulating testosterone to any level WITHOUT LIMIT.

      Because when it comes to male sports, the IOC understands that the physiological advantages male athletes have over female athletes is systemic, exists even before puberty, and far more profound than a circulating t-level. It is only wrt female sports that they choose to ignore that.

      Sporting bodies downstream of the IOC are following their lead.

      1. Pat

        Eventually the only born female dominated women’s sport will be women’s ….well there may be some advantage I don’t know about for synchronized swimming. There is one good thing. It will probably end the advantage that prepubescent girls have in gymnastics and singles figure skating as the development of adulthood won’t have as much of an effect on transgender athletes and the strength advantages will definitely be overwhelming. At least until “women’s” sports are abandoned.

        And yes it is a feature not a bug, imho.

      2. flora

        From the BBC a while back:

        ‘But Hood called on sports’ governing bodies to “step up”, saying they were “excluding” athletes born female.

        “If people want to push this through some misguided idea that they are being inclusive, it is not inclusive. It is excluding women and girls from their own category. It’s not fair,” Hood said.

        “The IOC need to make fair policies that are based on the science that we have, because if they can’t then they are not fit for purpose.” ‘

  7. Steve H.

    Data shows heavy airline-stock short selling

    Sooo does anyone else not open Snapchat anymore? Or is it just me… ugh this is so sad

    Why wouldn’t Russia use cutouts to short commodities before they invaded? Let Wall Street pay for the invasion. Even without the direct benefit, they could tip off whoever they wanted and cause system disruption.

    A musing, not a prediction: how likely is an administrative intervention undercutting massive short losses on national security grounds? Asking for a couple of Apes I know.

    1. Steve H.

      This comment was meant for Russia Sanctions Collateral Damage: Diesel Shortage Risk Worsening, EV Batteries. Thought I deleted it, sorry.

    2. Dave in Austin

      Before 9/11 “someone” shorted the two major airlnes and two NC banks bigtime. It was reported in the press but the best accounts were in the Phili newspaper, the last, great independent paper- since sold. The story then went to “The account was at a LA-area stock broker” and “The account owners can’t be found”.

      Malarky. If they wanted to find them, all the papers would have been dusted for prints, security footage would have given a mug shot, a drawing based on the brokearge house people’s rememberance would have been plastered all over the front pages and the wire transfers and bank records plus phone records would have been searched. Nothing happened

      The speculation at the time by quasi-insiders was that the accounts were set up by either Egyptians or Isrealis. I don’t know anything else.

    3. dftbs

      There’s no benefit for Russia to realize any financial gains in dollar terms. I think the belief that they would finance their military operations (from cleverness or need) using USD (or Euro) is predicated on the belief that USD (or Euro) are inviolable and absolute measurements/stores of value. My gas station receipt from last night tells me that’s false. As a matter of fact, the Russians made a big splash this morning by demanding ruble payments for energy sales to “non-friendly” nations, further defrocking the USD (and Euro). On the modern macro-economic level, money is a measure of coercive political power, a dollar in Moscow now has the same utility as a ruble in NY. Although the after effects of today’s big splash may change that and giving a NY ruble more utility than a Moscow dollar. Both would keep you warm, the ruble by buying gas, the dollar by burning it.

      Quick observation from the trading desk this morning. No Russian sympathies amongst the denizens, but there is a belief shaping up that the Biden/Blinken gang is either criminally stupid or just plain criminal. They keep handing the Russians so many “Ws” that there’s a sneaking suspicion going around that maybe Biden is a Russian agent.

      1. atharvaveda

        I am very familiar with you are describing in the beginning of your post. It is indeed a very strange, and multifaceted phenomenon. For example, the other day I saw a tweet filled with glee over how Russians would now be starving by the millions due to being cut off from the dollar-based financial system. The person tweeting this seemed to be some kind of sophisticated actor in the financial system.

        It’s as if these peoples’ thinking really implicitly assumes some kind of cosmic vending machine where even the largest wheat exporting nation has to buy their own wheat with dollars, and now due to the sanctions the button to buy wheat has been greyed out or something. Their total inability to go back to fundamentals, and think through how the economic and financial systems they interact with and manipulate every day actually work, is bizarre.

  8. Amfortas the hippie

    re: minwage:

    as a certified teacher in texas, when she was also a tennis coach, wife was making less than that $7 something an hour. her “salary” stays the same if she works more than 40 hrs…but she gets docked if she works less, misses a day, etc.
    sports generally entails lots of extra work…and that’s not really compensated, when you run the numbers(ie: keep track of your hours)…the extra coach pay is added to the last check of the year, further confusing matters…
    the only straight forward, all above board pay from the school was when she would fill in driving a bus: separate check, by the hour pay.

    eldest son, who works all the time, is an “independent contractor”, of course…because that’s just how it’s done these days…made just over $24k this last year, and owes almost 2k in taxes…even with all the recpts he kept and mileage logged(due to 20 year old independence, he’s excluded us from helping him figure his finances out…which may soon change,lol)

    now, my wife who has terminal cancer, wants to retire…but if she retires before the end of the school year, she essentially loses her pension.
    …at least that’s what we’ve been told.(this is Texas, after all…i haven’t been able to penetrate the nitty gritty of the state teacher retirement system…remember, “hypercomplexity hides the hand in yer pocket”)
    (and ergo…let me hear no more about how public school teachers are part of the PMC/Bougie Class)

    it goes far beyond just minwage…and wages, period…it’s systemic.
    our rulers hate us and want us to die.
    that so many still maintain de facto fealty to the lords and ladies remains astounding, to me.
    propaganda and mindwar works.

    1. anon y'mouse

      (and ergo…let me hear no more about how public school teachers are part of the PMC/Bougie Class)

      they are in terms of aspirations and ideological capture, even while the rest of that class continues to chop them down financially, status and power-wise. they promote and replicate our system of “knowledge” and values to the next generation.

      they are part of the system, whether they try to subvert it in subtle ways around the edges or not. without realizing their part in continuing it, or conning themselves that that help around the edges is really “doing something” (yeah, but extremely marginal and only for those students already primed for it anyway), they will remain perpetrators as well as victims.

      when one encounters this kind of thing in a family system, unfortunately the role can be equated to be an enabler of the abuse even while trying to dampen then impact of the abuse. at least from my dim and personal understanding.

    2. GramSci

      Alas, Amfortas, I know plenty *retired* teachers, whose pensions have not yet been destroyed, who identify with the PMC. Too many of them stopped learning the day they exchanged places in the classroom.

      And then there are all the students they “failed”, one way or another. Even if the teacher doesn’t identify with the PMC, that’s how they get identified.

    3. CallMeTeach (retired)

      It may be the case that she cannot retire before the end of the year and access her pension early. I imagine she is vested in her pension, but may be locked out until 65 if she doesn’t meet the minimum time, since most states require that you work a certain amount of years to be eligible to receive your pension early. (It was 25 years in my case, and they counted every single day.) Your state’s Office of Pension should have that information on their website. In my case, every single day of unpaid leave that I took (for maternity) had to be worked at some point, which meant I had to work 13 weeks of the next year. Needless to say, I did not listen to their pleas to stay until the end of the semester.
      Hopefully you find someone compassionate in the state pension office to help clarify what is going on. And if she has to stay until the end of the year, she just has to make it one class period at a time. I am certain that she is a brilliant teacher who gives her all, and doing less than her best may feel anathema, but her health is far more important. Love and light to you both.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        one day at a time is what we’ve got,lol…and only 2 months to go.
        the school has been very supportive during the last 3 1/2 years of this mess…even over and above on occasion.
        as far as the pension situation, since wife decided to go on and retire(she has the required hours(that’s what they count, apparently) to retire early), i simply haven’t had the time or the bandwidth to slog through TRS.
        wife, even less so…what with all the doom and stuff she’s facing…likely within a year…2, at best.
        and on top of the complexity and obfuscatory jargon inherent in such things, for me to deal with it, they need an affidavit….many of them, apparently, as wife must send one in practically every time.

        the ISD’s pension person is a longtime friend of wife’s(grew up together), and she’s been really helpful…like when i got that small inheritance, and we had to get on the school insurance for a little while(still paying for thatwith chaos,what with the ensuing confusion at medicare, etc)
        but that pension person is also the ISD’s insurance person, as well as the payroll person, and is herself busy as hell.
        we just got the schedule for this latest clinical trial…i’m entering it onto my calendar, today(that i have a calendar is indicative of the craziness of the situation,lol)
        hopefully, this will afford us a bit of breathing room from the recent bout of chaos time, where i can take a day or two and deal with TRS.

        i suppose it’s good that i’ve been working to disengage and cut dependencies for all these years…doesn’t really take much money for us to live the way we do…and after wife is in heaven, it’ll take even less, since i require much less extravagance(sat tv, etc). to a point, barring continued grasshopper plague, etc, i could switch to food independence this year.

        1. Mesquite

          IIRC, TRS counts service by the year. But to get a year’s credit, she only needs to work a certain number of months of the school year, maybe 6? So from last September 1 to the end of February would be enough. I can verify this number if you need.

          In your case, I would highly recommend that when she applies for retirement, she chooses the option for you to get 75% of her pension after she passes. This gives her a somewhat lower pension, but if she lives under say 15? years from now, you will get more in the end. They take age differential into account, but not health status. Or you could choose to get 50% of her pension after, the pension reduction would be lower.

          If you need verified details, ask and I can look things up, though the 15 year figure is just an estimate.

        2. Ellery O'Farrell

          I’m so very sorry your wife’s time here is now judged to be so short. It will be especially hard for your boys and you, and for her as she thinks about your boys and you.
          Not much more I can say. This is where the hammer strikes the anvil and you’re in between.

      2. griffen

        That’s a very helpful response. Hopefully Amfortas can find someone period, and not a robot, let alone a compassionate listener. I want to imagine there is an 800 number one can call, where the wait time is a little less than 24 consecutive hours of the day. According to the website for Teacher Retirement System of Texas, they have quite a large number for investment assets (and perhaps that also means a well funded pension plan).

        Amfortas, we’re continuing to wish you and the wife well.

    1. ambrit

      This will fester like a sore appendage until someone begins to organize the “Directed Karmic Episodes” in some ideological manner. That could be carried out from either wing of the American political spectrum. Once it begins, expect the other wing to play catch-up. Then it might as well be a modern version of the Spartacist Uprising.

  9. Ghost in the Machine

    The war in Ukraine motivated me to start reading a book that has been on my stack for a while: The Crimean War by Orlando Figes (2010). On page 147, I read this:

    “But the origins of the Crimean War cannot be understood by studying only the motives of statesmen and diplomats. This was a war-the first war in history-to be brought about by the pressure of the press and by public opinion. With the development of the railways enabling the emergence of a national press in the 1840s and 1850s, public opinion became a potent force in British politics, arguably overshadowing the influence of Parliament and the cabinet itself. The Times, the country’s leading newspaper, had long been closely associated with the Conservative Party; but increasingly it acted and perceived itself as nothing less than a national institution, a ‘Fourth Estate’, in the words of Henry Reeve, its chief for foreign affairs, who wrote of his profession in 1855:’Journalism is not the instrument by which the various divisions of the ruling class express themselves: it is rather the instrument by means of which the aggregate intelligence of the nation criticizes and controls them all. It is indeed the “Fourth Estate” of the Realm: not merely the written counterpart and voice of the speaking Third.’ The government had little choice but to recognize this new reality.’ An English Minister must please the newspapers,’ lamented Aberdeen, a Conservative of the old school…’The newspapers are always bawling for interference. They are bullies and they make the Government a bully.’
    Palmerston [Prime Minister] was the first really modern politician in this sense. He understood the need to cultivate the press and appeal in simple terms to the public in order to create a mass-based political constituency. The issue that allowed him to achieve this was the war against Russia. His foreign policy captured the imagination of the British public as the embodiment of their own national character and popular ideals: it was Protestant and freedom-loving, energetic and adventurous, confident and bold, belligerent in its defense of the little man, proudly British, and contemptuous of foreigners, particularly those of the Roman Catholic and Orthodox religion, whom Palmerston associated with the worst vices and excesses of the Continent. The public loved his verbal commitment to liberal interventionism abroad: it reinforced their John Bull view that Britain was the greatest country in the world and that the task of government should be to export its way of life to those less fortunate who lived beyond its borders.’

    The section goes on in this relevant-to-current-events fashion to describe the
    intense Russophobia hyped by the press and the ridiculously romantic view of the Ottoman Empire likewise portrayed to justify Britain’s entering the war against Russia on the Ottoman Empire’s behalf. Of course, the real concerns were about Russia grabbing some good bits of the decaying Ottoman Empire instead of the Brits.

    1. The Rev Kev

      I have read a lot about the early years of the Crimean war but not so much the end bit so don’t quote me on this. I think that at the end the British wanted the war to go on and go into Russia itself but the French nixed the whole idea. I just checked Wikipedia and it says that ‘Palmerston took a hard line and wanted to expand the war, foment unrest inside the Russian Empire and reduce the Russian threat to Europe permanently. Sweden-Norway and Prussia were willing to join Britain and France, and Russia was isolated.’ But not only did the French experience more casualties in that war but by the end most of the troops on the line were French and not British so the British were forced to back down.

      But you are right about the bellicose nature of the British on the eve of that war. ‘Here is a well known Music Hall song from that time-

      Part of the chorus became famous for decades after when it said-

      ‘We don’t want to fight but by jingo if we do,
      We’ve got the ships, we’ve got the men, and got the money too!’

    2. Dave in Austin

      Greece 1821 was actually the first press-generated “We must intervene”. Lord Byron went off to that one. And if I remember correctly, there was a British naval blockade.

    3. Ignacio

      I found this interesting GITM
      Nice to see (again and again) that, though History doesn’t repeat, humans repeat themselves very often. We might run some machine learning algorithm to predict how our esteemed leadership will react in every new circumstance based on past experience. We could use past and present editorials as well as public appearances to parse out motives, decisions, lies etc.

      Something like a Big Brother in Reverse.

      1. Brunches with Cats

        > though History doesn’t repeat…
        I dunno, Ignacio; this sure looks to me like history repeating: “Of course, the real concerns were about Russia grabbing some good bits of the decaying Ottoman Empire instead of the Brits.” Not an exact description of current events, but close enough for government work.

        Likewise, the Russophobia based on religion, work ethic, etc.: I recently read somewhere (reading so much online lately that I don’t remember the source) that among Ukrainians who identify as European, there’s a pervasive view of ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine as “lumpenproletariat.” Remind you of anything? One of my first thoughts was that it’s no wonder the woke class in the U.S. is screaming the loudest to risk starting WWIII, when in past decades they’d have been organizing anti-war marches.

        In any case, I agree that the excerpt posted by GITM is interesting — thought-provoking and enlightening.

  10. russell1200

    Larry C. Johnson: “The Ukrainian Army Has Been Defeated. What’s Left Is Mop-Up”

    I am confused as to the value of this link. It’s a fantasy of what the Russians wish was happening. If it is going so well, why have so many of the military people been arrested?

    He talks about “sizeable” Nazi forces. The Azoth Battalion IS A BATTALION. Counts go from 900 to 2,000. They make up less than 5% in their parliament. This jibes with earlier poling that shows that of Countries in the Region (including Poland), Ukrainians were least likely (5%) to say that they could not see Jews as fellow countrymen.

    The neutral opinion I see, has it as a disasters slog going forward. The siege of Mariupol seems to be winding down, and that will free up the some Russian troops to go do something somewhere else. That is the Russian’s silver lining of the moment.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I have appreciated your comments in the past, but it looks as if your strongly-held views on the war have clouded your vision.

      I’m letting this comment through although I should have deleted it as agnotology and straw manning.

      You smear Larry Johnson as if he’s a Russian mouthpiece when he has actual expertise, something you failed to evidence in your comment. In case you missed his bio:

      Larry C Johnson is a veteran of the CIA and the State Department’s Office of Counter Terrorism. He is the founder and managing partner of BERG Associates, which was established in 1998. Larry provided training to the US Military’s Special Operations community for 24 years. He has been vilified by the right and the left, which means he must be doing something right.

      More specifically, the onus on you was to rebut what Johnson said. All you did was a drive by name calling. Johnson laid out point by point how, contrary to widespread Western press and political operative accounts, Russia has achieved multiple concrete objectives faster in its campaign that the US in Iraq or Germany in some of its storied WWII offensives. You need to deal with his evidence.

      As for the Azov Battalion, you again appear not to be on top of facts. It went from being a special volunteer unit to being integrated into the armed forces to very successfully extending its influence by getting key officers placed in other units to indoctrinate and enforce their beliefs.

      Even though the related party got only about 2% of the seats in Parliament, at the time of the Maidan coup, 15% of senior administration positions in the new government went to neo-Nazis, including critically domestic security positions. In an early broadcast (which I saw on YouTube at the time), the head of domestic security said any soldiers who killed an ethnic Russian could take their property. While I have no idea how much follow through there actually was, statements like that no doubt contributed to an estimated 1.5 million ethnic Russians fleeing eastern Ukraine for Russia and Belarus, mainly from 2014 to 2016.

      See more on the Azov Battalion:

      Oh, and billionaire Ihor Koliomoisky funded both the Azov Battalion and Zelensky:

      On March 31, comedian Volodymyr Zelensky won the first round in the presidential election and will face incumbent Petro Poroshenko in a runoff on April 21. Zelensky is famous for starring in a Ukrainian sitcom called Servant of the People, now streaming on Netflix, as a schoolteacher who inadvertently becomes the country’s president.

      Kolomoisky owns the TV channel that airs Zelensky’s ’s show, and Poroshenko has called him “a puppet of Kolomoisky…

      Jonathan Brunson, who worked at the U.S. embassy in Kiev and was senior analyst on Ukraine for the Crisis Group, took a different view.

      “I think Kolomoisky is super-dangerous,” he said. “He is probably one of the most dangerous oligarchs because he’s one of the ones who’s willing to get his hands dirty.”

      Brunson pointed to Kolomoisky’s role in funding the ultra-far-right Azov battalion, a group of Ukrainian fighters alleged to have ties to American white supremacists, per RFE/RL; the State Department has called its political wing a “nationalist hate group,” and human rights workers say it may be a haven for neo-Nazis.

      “He was one of the first oligarchs who began to act like a warlord,” Brunson said.

      Let me stress that the idea that Kolomoisky is the moving force behind Zelensky’s meteoric rise and also funded and promoted the Azov Battalion is not controversial.

      Any claims about Russian military shortcomings have to be taken with a fistful of salt. We’ve seen repeated efforts to deny that they have control of the airspace, to falsely portray them as targeting civilians, to claim that they are stalled around Kiev when they are clearly merely pinning forces there so as to prevent them from going east (Russia clearly hopes some reality will sink in when they have dispatched the forces in the east, but if not, I’m sure they have plans for what to do next). Even a Western defense official stated in the Financial Times earlier in the week that Russia had not changed its plans, contrary to widespread press efforts to depict Russia as scrambling.

      As for The Times, it was the most unreliable reporter of all the UK papers on Brexit. It would regularly run accounts of how the EU or particularly European leaders were about to agree to this or that, totally at odds with other papers. Those stories where The Times stood alone without exception proved false. By contrast, the Telegraph and even the Daily Mail broke important Brexit stories.

      More specifically, as Alexander Mercouris pointed out yesterday, the West has not broken Russian codes. Russia almost immediately reported the death of a general leading combat in Mariupol earlier this week, before any media outlet had the account. The Russians did not give his name, only his position, hewing to the German general staff convention of not releasing names of dead officers to the public. The press reports, which included commentary, were able only to state his position. Mercouris saw this as highly significant, that the West would signal that it knew his name and by implication at least the names of other top Russian officers prosecuting Russia’s offensive. If they don’t even know that, it is hard to imagine that they have any knowledge of the far more salacious sort that they allege.

      1. digi_owl

        Yeah, i have seen some claim that Russia have brought back the commissar with the power to carry out on the spot capital punishment for insubordination.

        But we should not forget the kind of influence the Nazis carried in the Wehrmacht even though few of the latter were card carrying members for the former.

        And this time round the SS to not wear easy to recognize uniforms.

        So who may be in greater risk of getting a 9mm to the neck if they disagree with orders?

      2. CanCyn

        Yves – this comment is not meant as a work assignment but your response to Russell1200 could be a post!

      3. clarky90

        Re; “Ihor Koliomoisky funded both the Azov Battalion and Zelensky”

        Jewish History in Ukrainian Maps

        Henry Abramson

        At 5 minutes, Henry discusses evidence of the presence of the Khazarian people in ancient Kiev, Ukraine.

        “The Khazars were a semi-nomadic Turkic people that in the late 6th-century AD established a major commercial empire covering the southeastern section of modern European Russia, southern Ukraine, Crimea, and Kazakhstan….”

        1. clarky90

          In the 8th century, It appears that the Khazarian people, were forcibly converted from paganism, to Judaism, for strictly pragmatic reasons. (“to deflect competing pressures from Arabs and Byzantines to accept either Islam or Orthodoxy”.) They could have easily, adopted Orthodoxy or Islam?

          There are no accounts of revelation or holy visitation. (ie, God did not appear to the Khazars as a burning bush). They were fluid in their religious affiliations.

          Just as the new resident, car/insurance salesman will join the local Baptist Church in small town America as a practical decision (not religious). “Sometimes you have to go along, to get along”. Pagans, everywhere, were forced to convert to an Abrahamic religion.

          IMO, some present day decendants of the Khazarian People view the Ukraine (not Israel) as their ancient, (618 AD) ancestral homeland?

          I am floundering here, just trying to make some sense of a small war that is inciting this (unexpected) world wide frenzy? Yikes!

      4. Charlie Sheldon

        This guy Patrick Lancaster, an American who lives in Donetsk and has been posting videos from the Donetsk and now Mariupol, may be argued to be Russia-freiendly but his videos are the only ones appearing regularly from within the battle scene which depict actual conditions and comments by people present. Lancaster reported on the missile attack on Donetsk that killed 20 people (this story never made the MSM) and this video here, just posted, shows interviews with refugees from Mariupol.

        What is most interesting to me about this compelling video is not that the refugees he spoke to were NOT forced to leave the city and head east, but rather that the refugees don’t really know or care who fired which bomb or grenade, just that they wish it would all stop.

        Say what you will, this guy is the only on the scene reporter who is trying to bring to viewers how things actually are on the ground, and some day out in the future if we all don’t end up in an ash cloud his videos will taught in journalism courses as how real reporters run risks for a story….

        1. Polar Socialist

          this guy is the only on the scene reporter

          Well, he’s at times traveling with a bunch of Russian, Chinese and other reporters, all of which are also in Mariupol. While their reports are probably edited much more, at least non-English speaking parts of the world do get their news from the source.

          But yes, the message is very strong in that one: when there’s shooting going on, people stay in the basements and hope the shooting stops. They don’t go out to see who’s doing the shooting, or shelling, or bombing.

          From these interviews it’s also obvious that nobody is forcing the refugees to go anywhere. At first they seemed to be genuinely confused by the question.

      5. BondsOfSteel

        OK… I’ll bite.

        First of all, I would like to say that I value this site. I’ve been a reader (and very infrequent commenter) for over a decade. I’ve always been impressed with the depth of coverage of issues. For example, I’ve been seeing the disturbing reports of people tied to pole in Ukraine and have head many references to the dehumanizing phrase ‘orcs’. I had no idea why their faces were painted green until today. (Thank you.)

        The ‘Larry C. Johnson: “The Ukrainian Army Has Been Defeated. What’s Left Is Mop-Up”’ story is not up to the quality of links usually on your site. I appreciate alternative views, but not alternative facts. This article contains many factual errors and comes from sources that have a reputation for misleading stories and outright lies.

        For example:

        “Johnson: I would note that the U.S. had a tougher time capturing this much territory in Iraq in 2003 while fighting against a far inferior, less capable military force. If anything, this Russian operation should scare the hell out of U.S. military and political leaders.”

        Reality: The initial US invasion of Iraq lasted less than a month – Area of Iraq: 438,317km2. Area of Ukraine: 603,628 km2

        “Larry C. Johnson– Short answer—YES! Russian military strikes in Western Ukraine during the past week have shocked and alarmed NATO officials. The first blow came on Sunday, March 13 at Yavoriv, Ukraine. Russia hit the base with several missiles, some reportedly hypersonic. Over 200 personnel were killed, which included American and British military and intelligence personnel, and hundreds more wounded. Many suffered catastrophic wounds, such as amputations, and are in hospital. Yet, NATO and the western media have shown little interest in reporting on this disaster.”

        Reality: This has been high reported in the western media. A simple google search shows dozen of reports from every major news organization. There’s even a Wikipedia page: What’s not reported, anywhere, is the figures he states along with American and British military and intelligence personnel deaths. Where is his evidence?

        I could go on and on here.

        As for the sources….

        Here is Larry Johnson’s Wikipedia page: You can see that while he did work for the CIA pre 1993, since 2008 he has been tied to various hoaxes and conspiracy theories.

        The UNZ Review also has a history of publishing conspiracy theories, including anti-Semitism works:

        I’m not trying to attack anyone or anything…. This is just a poor link and doesn’t stand up to the quality of information usually found on this site.

    2. Lex

      Azov is not the only fascist group integrated into the Ukrainian military much less the fuzzy concept of “territorial defense” and national guard units.

      On the link, “is believed to have been arrested” and “failure to achieve a rapid victory”. So rumor and assumption. How do we know that Russia’s plan was a blitzkrieg style strike to capture Kiev? If we take Russian statements at the beginning of the conflict at face value, a quick victory would be counterproductive as it would involve the surrender of the state-sponsored extremists to be able to reorganize and would likely mean the survival of a great deal of Ukrainian military infrastructure. As it stands, the bulk of the most competent Ukrainian military force is trapped in the east and being eliminated (including a lot of the UPA-fascist types). Azov has been reduced to putting out well-produced pleas to be saved. But their official telegram channel doesn’t show a lot of evidence for putting up much of a fight at this point. The percentage of military infrastructure Ukraine possess (and it was substantial) is getting smaller and smaller.

      Maybe, just maybe the US/UK press is lying about a few things. And it’s not like those two countries have covered themselves in the glory of military success in anyone’s lifetime. Maybe they don’t know what they’re talking about?

    3. Pookah Harvey

      The Azov Battalion has been the organization that has received the most press but it is not alone. Time reported back in 2014 that : “There are over 30 pro-nationalist, volunteer battalions similar to Aidar, such as Ukraina, DND Metinvest and Kiev 1, all funded by private investors.”
      These are not nice guys:
      “Shortly after, Kiev-based news network Pravilnoe TV reported that it had spoken with one of the mothers of the victims who confirmed her son was a rebel, captured during fighting in Donetsk.

      She said she had received her son’s head in a wooden box in the post, blaming nationalist volunteers for her son’s death.”

    4. pjay

      I’m not sure what you would consider “neutral opinion,” but I would say that anyone who claims this is a “disastrous slog” for Russia would not qualify. If you think the conservative Larry Johnson is too biased, perhaps William Arkin’s article in yesterday’s Newsweek would better serve. Arkin has been one of the best-connected and most informative mainstream journalists on military and intelligence affairs for many years. He emphasizes the great *restraint* Russia has shown so far, and how easy it would have been for them to inflict much more massive casualties and destruction had they wanted to.

      One of the very, very few mainstream analyses that I have seen that ring true. And it mainly compliments Johnson’s assessment.


    According to Tariq Ali in an already dated piece in the London Review of Books, the Russian invasion was precipitated by NATO beginning to put missiles in Ukraine. A couple of recent pieces in the New Left Review Sidecar blog (free) present interesting information about the trajectory of the Russian economy under Putin and about the obstacles to the implementation of the Minsk II accords, which to some, such as Noam Chomsky, appear to be the only rational solution to the conflict. Nothing so far, including Michael Hudson’s interview reproduced today, adequately explains why the hegemonic global power would put itself into a state of self-harming chaos relative to essential raw material and energy supplies, to say nothing of large write-offs of capital investment in Russia. After more than 20 years of watching Putin, with so many high ranking officials personally knowledgeable about Ukraine–Victoria Nuland, the Bidens (father and son), Manafort (convicted), Trump (impeached), Guiliani (providing security advice to Kyiv)—it looks like a foreign policy failure in a place where, by virtue of geography, on-going low-level conflict might the best that can be hoped for. The downplaying of Russian superiority with hypersonic missiles might be a clue. A note in Foreign Policy suggested the advantage of these missiles, together with Russia’s Syrian bombing success, has made Putin feel that he can dictate terms. If the Russians have the hypersonic missiles, it seems likely so do the Chinese. If you are facing a missile that travels 5 times faster than your own best and for around 30% more distance, that can evade your radars and carry a nuclear warhead, maybe you have to move the capability you do have closer to your enemy in order to keep things in balance. And maybe those in the line of fire need to bulk up their defenses. If there is any validity to this hypothesis, then NATO needs Ukraine as a buffer zone, which would be a reversal of the historical situation where Russia sought to protect itself from the West.

    1. digi_owl

      May not even need to carry a nuke.

      If used as an anti ship missile, those carrier fleets just became massive liabilities rather than power projections.

      Potentially the speed etc may well allow them to get past even the vaunted Phalanx CIWS.

      All of a sudden any hot conflict in the South China Sea turns into a turkey shoot.

      1. dday

        As Christian Brose, former staff director of the U.S. Senate Armed Service
        Committee and senior policy advisor to Senator John McCain of Arizona puts it in
        his widely read book The Kill Chain, published in 2020, “Were a war to break out
        in the Indo-Pacific between the U.S. and China, U.S. aircraft carriers in the region
        would immediately turn east and sail away from China, intent on getting more than
        a thousand miles from the opponent’s long-range anti-ship missiles, but from that
        far away, none of the aircraft on the flight deck would be capable of reaching their
        targets.” He adds, “America’s forward bases in places like Japan and Guam would be
        inundated with waves of precise ballistic and cruise missiles.”

    2. Polar Socialist

      Interesting point of view. But since Kh-47M2 Kinzhal is reported to have range in excess of 1200 miles, from Kaliningrad it can reach Pyrenees. One would need much, much bigger buffer zone than Ukraine.

      Or one could perhaps try and create a “political buffer zone” by playing nice and avoiding confrontation: security trough not being enemies. It is an option, albeit rarely mentioned.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        The irony is that its not all that advanced a missile. Its just a repurposed Iskander – just a conventional solid rocket rocket. The advantage comes from much greater range and a less predictable flight path when launched from a Mig 31. The real ‘hypersonic missiles’ that Putin was talking about previously are very different from the Kinzhal (they use scramjets, a far more complex technology).

        I think one technology outcome of this war will be the conclusion that even fairly simple ballistic missiles have an enormous advantage over supposedly more sophisticated drones and cruise missiles when they can be guided accurately and reliably. The game changer seems to have been the ability to hit within a handful of metres of a target.

        I saw some military ‘experts’ talking about the crazy waste of resources in using an Iskander to blow out a few Ukrainian rocket launchers. It doesn’t seem to have occurred to them that using conventional aircraft to do the same thing is potentially far more expensive. And the speed of reaction means you can wallop a target hundreds of km away within a few minutes of it being identified The Iranians of course already know this, as do the North Koreans, but its likely they can’t build guidance systems anywhere near as good as the Russian ones.

        1. Steve H.

          The message is to the decision-makers: You are now vulnerable, even in your little mountain bunker.

    3. pjay

      To clarify: is your “hypothesis” that NATO had to move closer to Russia for *self-defense* reasons because of Russia’s superior weaponry? And that this is why the US would risk such “self-harming chaos”?

      If so, then I can only add this to the growing list of incredible rationalizations for US/NATO policies which totally mystify reality. If I have misinterpreted I apologize.

    4. Pookah Harvey

      ” If you are facing a missile that travels 5 times faster than your own best and for around 30% more distance, that can evade your radars and carry a nuclear warhead, maybe you have to move the capability you do have closer to your enemy in order to keep things in balance.”
      This argument only makes sense if you ignore history. Putin didn’t start investing in his military until after NATO promised Ukraine and Georgia that they would be admitted to NATO in the future over the strong objections of Russia in 2008. NATO had made it clear it saw Russia as a potential enemy and Russia was concerned about its security. The possibility of placing nukes in Ukraine meant that NATO could wipe out 80% of the Russian population in under 5 minutes. For some strange reason Putin considered this a threat.

    1. Carolinian

      My psychology major brother was a big devotee of BF and his “behaviorism” but now admits the rather mechanical approach to behavior leaves out a lot of the stuff E.O. Wilson talked about. Skinner’s biggest impact may have been on Madison Avenue rather than missiles. American television is very much a “Skinner box.”

  12. The Rev Kev

    “A drowning world: Kenya’s quiet slide underwater”

    This is an amazing story this. I knew that as the oceans rose that people would be forced to relocate to higher ground but I never thought about people living inland having to move to higher ground as well due to lake level rises due to increased inflows of water into those lakes. I wonder if this is happening elsewhere.

    1. Lex

      I’ll be finding out. My house is a few blocks from Lake Superior and ground water tends to be 3-4′ below grade in the back of my yard. The lake level has been high and rising for a couple of years. The shoreline nearest me is hard to track because it’s always been reinforced with rip-rap but last year they completed moving Lakeshore Ave a bit inland because it was essentially closed all winter the last 5 years. The lake always took it over both by chucking boulders and wave wash into the road.

    2. Bart Hansen

      Jakarta is said to be moving to higher ground because, among several reasons, it is sinking due to too many heavy buildings.

  13. Amfortas the hippie

    regarding David Stockmans bit…on Antiwar, no less:

    i gave an extemporaneous amfortas’ armwaving while driving version of that historical narrative to my wife yesterday, while coming back from san antonio.
    this, after we listened to literally 5 minutes of NPR, and she turned it off because they were obviously gaslighting, and stupid…and asked me what’s what,lol.
    she’s usually reluctant to get me started…unless she needs help sleeping in the car(economics, especially, is a sleep aid)

    after binging the netflix show “Vikings” last year, i revisited the history of Kivan Rus, Novgorod, etc…admittedly, prior to Maidan/2014, i had largely overlooked the whole region post-Scythia/Pontic Steppes, etc.
    but that incident made me want to look into it…and Ivar the Boneless showing up in Russia(poetic license) made me go back and go even deeper.

    it’s a testament to the long term project of stupifying the american people that apparently so few of my countrymen felt compelled to do the same, after both instances(real life color revolution and a decent tv show)…and that we are so ripe for the hysteria and imperialist narrative framework.

    surely the Nulands of the world got a briefing when they entered office about all this?
    (the ambassador to Georgia was on NPR earlier yesterday, gushing about the mass protests in Tblisi in support of Ukrainian Nazis…glaringly ahistorical about the recent history there, as well)

    1. DJG, Reality Czar

      amfortas the hippie: All the best to you. No one else around these here parts admits to such flaws:

      admittedly, prior to Maidan/2014, i had largely overlooked the whole region post-Scythia/Pontic Steppes, etc.


      Meanwhile, back when people were passing around the U.S. embassy tweet (yes, U.S. embassy in Ukraine media workers’ tweet) that when Kiev was all a-glory with Orthodox cathedrals Moscow was a swamp:

      The problem, as I pointed out to someone on her FBk page, is that Russian culture at that point centered in the north on Novgorod and Pskov (which were on the trade routes to Kievan Rus’).

      Her response: I’m surprised no one commented on your comment.

      As Patrick Lawrence points out, it’s all American infantilism. Which explains why Americans can’t be bothered to wear masks. But now they have nukes.

      [And speaking of Pontic, and if you have a further taste for catastrophe, there is the history of the Circassians. There is also the Empire of Trebizond, which seems so mysterious till one reads about the fate of the Pontic Greeks.]

    2. JTMcPhee

      But Davos Man and the usual suspects appear to be in full-on disaster capitalism mode, ensuring that this crisis does not go to waste:

      “ Berlin wants Trump-trashed trade deal back on table
      Germany is calling for the resumption of talks on the transatlantic pact”

      When money interests are involved and regulatory capture can be done while the idiot attention of the electorate faces elsewhere, the tapeworms “sees their opportunities and takes ‘em.”

      And of course this resurrection of the TTIP (anyone remember what the acronym stands for?), complete with the nation-crushing ISDS “dispute resolution” provisions that let supranational corporations dictate the policy of nominal sovereign nations, will be a nice sweetener for the Germans to toe the New World Order Line, as the public-private/private-public interests seize the moment…

      Geez, after so many of us have watched those horror movies where the fainting innocents fail to permanently kill the monsters, we still are suckers for thinking that a stake through the heart renders the horror fully dead. But even some Dracul-genre movies have some hopeful surviving acolyte stealing into the crypt and pulling out the stake, and sprinkling some virgins’ blood on the supposed corpse, which then arises and goes forth into the night, seeking new throats to savage… “Burn it with fire, and scatter the ashes!”

      1. Ignacio

        This pearl from your link attracted me:
        “Especially now in the crisis, it is becoming clear how important free trade is with partners around the world who share our values.”
        Vomitive if true verbatim.

        1. lance ringquist

          the german was just a front for the nafta biden administrations running it up the flag to see how well it goes over.

          all of the absolute blubbering about free trade that came out of the nafta billy clinton regime about the wonders of free trade, how it will cure all evils facing the world.

          so they are grasping at what they believe should be the case world wide.

          robert reich wrote a hilarious piece the other day where is said he was wrong about free trade, it was almost a apology, then he blamed it on putin and i think trump.

  14. Andrew Watts

    RE: What the ‘chattering classes’ of Russia are talking about: update

    Alas a Polish incursion into western Ukraine wouldn’t be that crazy of a development. As an amateur historian and a fan of the Europa Universalis IV strategy game I definitely have the Polish–Lithuanian–Ruthenian Commonwealth on my ‘things are getting weird in 2022’ card.

    There’s definitely a comparison to be made between the events preceding the Treaty of Hadiach and the present situation. Before the treaty was even signed the Russians invaded Ukraine because they saw the loss of influence in the western borderlands as an unacceptable risk to their state and a declaration of war.

    The past is merely the future with a bit of clarity.

    1. Polar Socialist

      The question is would the Polish cross over to Ukraine to confront Russia, or would they just get the spoils, a.k.a. former Polish regions, after Ukraine has been demilitarized?

      The latter would fall under the cynical “decommunization” of Ukraine.

      1. Andrew Watts

        It could be both, but it’s more likely that Poland will forge a military pact outside of NATO with it’s neighbors. Biden’s forthcoming visit to the country should be interesting.

    2. The Rev Kev

      Poland would do better evacuating all those Polish-Ukrainians out of the Ukraine and returning the Ukrainians themselves. After the war there may be accusations about who was really supporting the fight and who was not. And the Polish-Ukrainians as well as the Hungarian-Ukrainians would make a natural target. They have already experienced a bit of grief due to those ultra-nationalists beforehand.

      1. vao

        There is a Polish movie called “Volhynia” (Wołyń / Hatred / Sommer 1943) that depicts the situation in Ukraine and the relations between Ukrainians and Poles (but also Jews, Russians and Germans) during WWII.

        It is a dark movie, there is neither redemption nor happy end, and one is prone to despondency after viewing it. It also caused a diplomatic crisis between Ukraine and Poland when it was released in 2016.

        It is available intermittently on YouTube — you can find it there these days, but I suppose it will be taken down again soon.

  15. Tom Stone

    Hillary Clinton has Covid?
    That’s a darn shame.

    And that 7 day average of daily US Covid deaths is misleading.
    How many of those 1,149 were “Real” people, people who matter?
    None,or almost none.
    It’s old people who are poor and already sick or “Those People”.
    If they could contribute to the prison industrial complex it would be a different matter,as it is they have nothing worthwhile to contribute to the Greatest Nation on earth.
    There’s nothing to see here, move along.

        1. JBird4049

          Oh, yes. Her comment about Muammar Gaddafi’s death, “We came, we saw, he died.” is classic Hillary Clinton.

    1. jr


      Having been within ten feet of Billy “Hotpants” Clinton for so long, she’s lucky it’s the only dangerous bug she has contracted. I say ten feet because I seriously doubt those two are “doin’ the deed” anymore but with his proclivities who the hell knows what’s lurking down there. Radioactive crotch-crickets? Carcinogenic lap-lobsters? Toxic fanny-fleas?

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      If the Corona flu affects mental health beyond the mental health impacts that even cursory contemplation of u.s. health policies and the colossal harm done by the $$ inspired u.s. ‘health’ policy and u.s. ‘health’ system imbue — conjoined with the many cases of ‘Elite’ Corona flu reported — Corona for Trump, members of the Executive staff, Congress and now Hilary … then the current levels of madness in u.s. government may be elevated to yet more frightening levels.

  16. Tom Stone

    Gosh, Jen Psaki also has Covid!
    The White House press Corps must be consumed with worry about her, she’s like a firm but loving Mother to them.

    1. The Rev Kev

      That’s twice now. How many more times will she have to get it before the press corps are forced to not only notice but to say something?

      1. Pat

        Not until she is hospitalized. And they will try to avoid it even then.

        I admit that our country’s callousness and willful idiocy/sociopathic relationship with public health decisions (it isn’t just Covid) are having an effect on me. I want hospitalization and even ICU time for both Psaki and Clinton. For Psaki I want her to end up at Walter Read and then being sent a bill for hundreds of thousands because it is an out of network hospital just as would happen to any other American who isn’t in a protected class but ended up there by mistake. I shouldn’t but I do.

          1. jr

            Why? Are gay men all baby killing, poor stomping, WW3 mongering, public sphere wrecking professional liars who would shove an old woman to the ground if it would advance their careers? No, of course not.

            Empty moralizing and false equivalencies. Smacks of $hit-lib piety. I know I’ve had enough of that myself…

            Unless I mistake your “point”?

          2. Pat

            No, let’s not, but we can also be honest that much of the progress of getting rid of that sentiment came when the public knew prominent and/or relatable people got AIDS. And that often helped cause the breaks in the bull that were spread by top politicians and public servants.

            I don’t like it, but a vaccinated and boosted Hillary Clinton ending up in the ICU after attributing her mild case to the vaccines will do more to advance a break in the we’ve got vaccines and boosters we can go back to normal idiocy, than any number of doctors or experts and their studies. It might be sad that it would probably be the most useful thing she has ever done, that this would be clarifying to a segment of the population that have bought the bull, that not getting the disease is the surest way not to end up in the hospital.

            Just as a political mouthpiece suddenly facing hundreds of thousand of dollars in medical debt despite having insurance would probably be an asset in getting the political class to understand what junk most of our insurance options are, and it isn’t just unworthy lazy mokes with two or three jobs that medical debt can cripple.

            1. Yves Smith Post author

              Let us not forget that Clinton so far has a famed “mild” infection. For Omicron and I believe BA.2, it’s slower to progress to something severe because it does not attack the lung but other organs. So even if she gets markedly sick, it will take a while.

        1. antidlc

          It has to hit home with Congress before they do something.

          One of the reasons mental health parity passed is because Senator Domenici had a daughter who suffered from schizophrenia.

          Domenici talks with TIME about mental health parity

          The Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 was included in the financial bailout bill approved earlier this month by Congress and the president. Domenici, who is retiring because he has been diagnosed with a degenerative brain disease, has a daughter who suffers from schizophrenia. As I’ve reported, he worked for years with a bipartisan group of senators to get the bill passed.

          Tim Kaine gets long covid and introduces a bill to help people living with long covid

          Virginia senator says he has long Covid and introduces a bill to help those struggling with it

      2. jr

        If they are getting it as well, they may have trouble noticing their shoelaces are untied let alone that Psaki is less than honed…

      1. GramSci

        How would we know? Mental degeneration was already terminally advanced, long before Covid.

  17. Colonel Smithers

    Thank you, Yves.

    A Ukraine related sitrep from the Thames valley and Mauritius.

    First, the tropics. The government has rationed the sale of petrol and diesel and petrol related products and begun to manage expectations about wheat and dairy products.

    The Thames valley countryside is strangely quiet with few livestock out in the spring sunshine. I have not seen cattle out for months and, as lambing season starts, relatively few sheep and lambs. Many fields are out of production, even allowing for rotation. Farmers cite the scarcity of labour, an issue since 2017, and nitrates and cost of diesel.

    On Monday, the first batch of Ukrainian families were welcomed at County Hall by the leadership of Buckinghamshire county council. Each family has been allocated a social worker and given a mobile ‘phone. The children will be allocated schools for the new term. Social services are being reorganised to cope with what the council leader, a Tory brexiteer obsessed with “controlling our money, our borders and our waters”, called “an influx”. Buckinghamshire refused to take refugees from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan etc.. which led to protests from neighbouring Oxfordshire and other local authorities.

    Municipal buildings and some, but not all, Anglican churches are flying Ukrainian flags and bunting. Catholic churches, which have more mixed congregations, wisely keep out of such matters.

    It’s not all gloom and doom, though. Ministers Patel and Braverman provided much light relief, and sorely needed light relief, by saying they are the children of refugees and identify with Ukraine.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Even my dentist this morning was complaining about how expensive it was to fill his car.

      For the first time this morning I heard a rant about the cost and difficulty in housing refugees (my dentists receptionist). Varadkar here was on the radio talking about how all the Ukrainians would be housed appropriately. Traditionally, this is a boon to small town hoteliers as the government usually just shoves refugees into hotels left behind by the AirBnB economy. Small town hoteliers are usually very well connected politically here. Varadkar of course, seems to have overlooked that there is a housing crisis right now, and many a person unable to get a home will listen askance at the implication that refugees are getting first dibs. So far, Ireland has been very welcoming to Ukrainians (politicians here love a welcoming gesture, the bask in the glow of German and north European approval). But this could badly backfire if politicians continue to be so tone deaf. Notably, Sinn Fein, who have made lots of political progress by continual pressure on the housing issue, are keeping quiet over Ukraine.

      As for crops, farmers here are complaining about a ‘winter fodder crisis’. Nobody points out that there wouldn’t be a fodder crisis if they didn’t insist on increasing the number of cows every year. Farmers are likely to have a bumper year with high food prices and increased markets in Brexit Britain (before cheap Australian food becomes the norm). But they are of course worried about a lack of nitrogen and other fertilisers, and now very expensive fuel. No doubt some hefty subsidies are already on the way to the biggest farmers.

      Patel and Braverman are, of course, the children of economic immigrants, not refugees. Unless they were refugees from the horrors of not being able to gain easy access to Harrods food hall.

      1. DAve in Austin

        I’ve been desperately scanning neutral papers for real news. From Sweden last night… (paraphrase) “While there is no official program for welcoming and housing Ukrianian refugees, many of you may have empty summer houses you might like to use for the Ukrainians”. No takers so far.

        From the same page: “Stabbings in Malmo”. If you don’t know the town, it is just a hop from Copenhagen which is short of labor. But Denmark has said “No” to more third-world refugees but “OK” to minimum wage third world commuters from Malmo. The city is now “majority minority” as they say in the US. Mostly middle easten and African.

        1. Eclair

          Dave, re: Sweden and Ukrainian refugees. Our Swedish folk dance group has been asked to donate to a local YMCA, which will then forward the cash through YMCA channels (??) to the Swedish YMCA, which is preparing their camp sites to host refugees. The dance group membership not only agreed to donate, but increased the asked-for amount substantially.

          The Swedish government has substantial programs for refugees … Syrian, Somalian, Afghan, Bosnian …. to teach Swedish language, culture and customs, as well a financial and housing assistance. A Swedish-American friend spent a year there recently, teaching Swedish-as-a-second-language in a small city.

        2. Bart Hansen

          My Swedish third cousins have moved from a larger city to their summer house in the countryside for the duration of the pandemic.

    2. JohnA

      Thanks Colonel, as a keen theatre and cinema goer, I am having to curb my enthusiasm as many culture venues now claim they will donate part of the proceeds of tickets sales to support Ukraine. And as a very occasional opera goer, I got an email from the Covent Garden Opera House with news of their special fundraising for Ukraine. It is as though everything was peace and light until 23 February. Nobody seems aware of the 14,000 deaths in the Donbass by the Ukrainian government terrorism since the 2014 US coup.

      I keep hearing Pinter’s Nobel speech “It never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn’t happening. It didn’t matter. It was of no interest…”

  18. Lex

    Industrial hygienist here. One of the lowest hanging fruit in addressing Covid transmission has been ventilation all along. First, in the hierarchy of controls engineering controls are above PPE (masks) and administrative controls (social distancing) and for good reason. In terms of viral transmission in the built environment, improving ventilation has difficulties related to long-term trends in construction to achieve energy efficiency goals. It is feasible to install HEPA filtration in commercial construction; I’m familiar with a medical building with a nursing home in it that uses HEPA filters for external make-up air and the recirculated air. Cases of colds and flues dropped by something like 40% the year after installation.

    While not a perfect solution, indoor areas and schools in particular, could have been outfitted with filtered ventilation that recycled the room air. Basically an appropriate fan with a HEPA filter. A 4″ centrifugal fan will move about 200 CFM (with reduction for static pressure drop across the HEPA), that’s 12,000 cubic feet per hour. Or enough to fully exchange all the air in a 30x30x12 room every hour. This kind of room filtration could be established for a retail cost of about $150.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Honestly, future historians of science will be writing libraries of books as to how and why the entire scientific public health community has failed so abjectly on the nature of how covid spreads. 150 years on from John Snow we still have scientists who are unable to dig themselves out of intellectual bunkers, even in the midst of an international emergency. The gaslighting that is still going on over how to control the disease is quite unreal.

      Incidentally, a little while back there was a link here to an outstanding article by Ben Ehrenreich in the Baffler magazine on the history of the failed paradigm of droplets and fomites. If anyone missed it, I’d strongly recommend giving it a read.

    2. Bob

      While ventilation is low hanging fruit. It can get a little complicated.

      In the US (and I suspect elsewhere) HVAC (Heating Ventilating And Cooling) systems are generally designed to move a set amount of air usually based on human occupancy. Now of course for special applications i.e. paint booths, plating lines, hospital isolation wards/rooms, the amount of ventilation air designed for can be much different

      This means that the HVAC system – that is the fans, the pumps, the chillers, the boilers, the duct work are all sized for that set amount. The amount of ventilation air flow can have physical limitations imposed by the HVAC system. Additional filtration can directly impact the air flow.

      This means that while better filtration and or more ventilation is of course desirable particularly in regards to CoVid each HVAC system will require careful study to achieve improvement in ventilation / filtration rates.

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        “Each HVAC system” … how many and how prevalent are these HVAC systems you are referring to? I am less than sold on the idea that there really are that many ‘robust’ HVAC systems around to circulate air — with or without current air flow limitations. I would be most happily convinced otherwise … and while you are at it, just how difficult is it to add HVAC filtering sufficient to reduce prevalence of the Corona virus — with and without regard for ventilation rates. Are the designs really really that constrained!? In any case, how much do independent air filtration systems, like Corsi boxes, really impact the existing constrained air filtration systems?

    3. Jeremy Grimm

      I believe it might be wise to push for better ventilation and improvements like Corsi boxes, based solely on their reduction of the levels of allergy, colds, and regular flues. Reductions in Corona infections could be treated as a bonus — given the bizarro political winds storming around the Corona flu. Argue for no more Angels or Devils than necessary … parsimony of argument.

  19. The Rev Kev

    At the risk of being accused of thread jacking or whatever, I have a question. I am not a financial guy obviously but with the chaos in the economic markets I am wondering if derivatives might start having an effect soon. Back in 2008 they were the napalm wrapped around all those dodgy home loans which nearly blew up the world economy. They are still being used but I do not know if they are done so with things like commodities and the like. I have only seen the word ‘derivatives’ used once in the past coupla weeks in the news so I have no idea if this is going to be one of those jack-in-the-box stories that nobody will expect.

      1. RobertC

        DA — I couldn’t take the stress of holding back: thread-jacking is hyphenated as explained in Policies

        We’re laughing together on this I hope.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      Threadjacking? I am aware of no thread you might have jacked.
      “threadjacking noun
      The act of taking over an e-mail list or discussion thread with a subject unrelated to the original posting.” []
      Unless I am mistaken, you started a thread.

      Why focus on ‘derivatives’ as a tool for financial destruction? I believe it were better to ask what FIN tools have arisen which threaten financial stability. A ‘derivative’ [in terms of its particulars and its impacts on financial systems] by any other name smells as ‘sweet'”.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        You need to read ECONNED. The 2008 crisis was a derivatives crisis.

        Complex derivatives (and those are where the money is, simple hedges like exchange traded futures are thinly profitable) exist for the purpose of accounting and tax gaming, as in societally destructive purposes. They also constitute societally funded gambling, since properly margined derivatives (as in having high enough exchange/central counterparty margin) would in most cases be too expensive for most users. Oh, and in case you didn’t know it, large banks book their derivatives risk in their largest FDIC insured entity, so you are backstopping it.

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          I did not intend to suggest by my comment that derivatives were not a concern. I worry there may be some new FIN inventions which may or may not fall under the rubric of ‘derivative’. I am very concerned by what appears in the large as FIN takeover and ravaging of the national economy, and yes we are backstopping it and victims of it. I do need to read Econned again. The 2008 crisis was a derivatives crisis. A 2023 crisis could also be a derivatives crisis or it could be a new form of crisis based on some other tool or mechanism. The Corona flu and the new Cold War combined with the increasing Corporate consolidations and ‘optimizations’ of the supply chains, Climate Chaos, the ongoing depletion of resources all offer the FIN sector many levers they can pull, many opportunities for new FIN ‘inventions’.

    2. GramSci

      Seven hours later and still no substantive response :-( .

      I hope we get one somewhere, if only to refute my naive theory: if derivatives are side bets made by traders shorting the turkeys they’re selling, such a scheme depends upon the traders knowing which way the wind blows. In this month’s world, I’m not sure they know.

  20. OnceWereVirologist

    Russia will only accept rubles for gas deliveries to Europe

    Boom ! Nuclear counter-sanctions against Europe.Though not expressed as sanctions per se, if European countries maintain their sanctions they’ll have to do without Russian energy because without exporting to Russia or dealing with the Russian banking system there’ll be no way for them to pay for their oil or gas.

  21. The Rev Kev

    “What the ‘chattering classes’ of Russia are talking about: update ”

    ‘Nikonov’s guests pointed out that the target of the first Kinzhal strike was a “nuclear attack hardened” structure 60 meters underground and protected by reinforced concrete dating from Soviet days.’

    I wonder how deep the bunker is at the brand new NATO Headquarters building in Brussels.

  22. jr

    Breaking Points detailing the burgeoning friendly relationship betwixt the Dragon and the Bear:

    Utoob has been presenting videos about the conflict, both pro Ukraine and pro Russia. I’ve been following the comments a bit. A lot of people seem aware that a no-fly zone = WW3. Those that don’t though are strikingly ignorant. “No one is stupid enough to press the button!” seems common. My personal favorite was “Ukraine is already living through WW3!”, to which someone pointed out that if it was, Keeeeeev would be a radioactive crater…

  23. Sibiryak

    RE: What the ‘chattering classes’ of Russia are talking about: update

    I agree with most of Doctorow’s observations, but not this one:

    “Add to this the testimony of escapees from Mariupol who describe the methods of torture and disfiguration inflicted on them by the Nazi battalions in the city. The source material is full of hate, and the airing on Russian state television also is not innocent: it has the clear purpose of inciting hatred for Ukrainians among the television viewers and so to prepare them for the much more cruel conduct of the war that Russia is likely about to implement.”

    I’ve been watching for hours on end all the shows Doctorow mentions—Время покажет (Time Will Tell) Большая игра (The Great Game) and 60 Минут (Sixty Minutes)—and I have not seen any incitement of hatred towards Ukrainians in general.

    These programs have consistently described the situation in Mariupol as the following: Ukrainian neo-Nazis/ultra-nationalists (the Azov battalion et al.) are holding over 100,000 peaceful Ukrainians as hostages and human shields, killing any who try to leave, and committing various other atrocities. The Russian forces are said to be doing everything possible to avoid civilian casualties, providing humanitarian aid, helping people escape etc.

    It’s true that these shows seem to be preparing their audiences for the death and destruction that will be the inevitable result of Russian forces finally rooting out the neo-Nazis building by building in order to “liberate” the city. However, all the “hatred”, if you can call it that, is being directed toward the neo-Nazis, not the innocent Ukrainian citizens being held hostage.

    If Doctorow were correct about these shows inciting hatred for Ukrainians across the board, then they would have to be inciting hatred for the Ukrainian hostages themselves. This is simply is not the case, and would make no sense given the story these shows are trying to tell.

    (To be clear, I’m describing the narrative these Russian TV programs are propagating, not my own personal views of the situation.)

  24. Dave in Austin

    Everything I read in Unz Reader I take with a lot of grains of salt. Ron Unz is a brilliant eccentric. I read Unz because under the pile of salt there are some real gems. The Unz article says that:
    “Russian arrival in Kiev within three days of the invasion also caught my attention. I recalled that the Nazi’s in Operation Barbarossa took seven weeks to reach Kiev and the(n) required 7 more weeks to subdue the city”

    This is a wildly inaccurate description of what happened in Russia in the summer of 1941. The Wikipedia article is surprisingly poor. The US Army in 1955 produced a fine study on the campaign. It is available on-line at:

    The 1941 German 3 million-man assault started from a line 100 miles inside Poland’s present borders, almost 500 miles from Kiev. The Germans had mostly horse-drawn wagons for logistics. The roads were poor and the Russian railroad gauge was different. The Russian attack this year went 80 miles on excellent roads against no resistance because the Ukrainian army was in the east. In 1941 the Soviet army opposing the Germans was equipped with huge numbers of acceptable tanks and many, less modern, aircraft. But the Soviet tactics and operational doctrine were poor. 3 -4 million soldiers were stacked up near the border and vulnerable. The Soviet generals who had just survived the 1938 purges had little freedom to act.

    The first German thrusts were aimed at Moscow and Leningrad 750 east of Warsaw in the north. A few weeks into the campaign the Germans turned their attention to the Ukraine. North of the Ukraine the Germans had advanced east of Kiev’s longitude. Sensing the opportunity, the Germans developed the largest encirclement operation in human history. The German pincers met 50 miles east of Kiev and isolated more than 700,000 troops. Liquidating the pocket took a month and most of the prisoners were starved to death in huge barbed wire POW camps. More Soviet prisoners died that summer from starvation that the total number of people exterminated at Auschwitz. But because there were so few survivors- and at the end of the war they were sent to Siberia by Stalin- there was little literature. The episode is largely forgotten in the west. But not in Russia.

    The Germans were at first welcomed by many Soviet citizens, even Russians, based on the generally good treatment of civilians and prisoners by German soldiers in WWI. But this time the Germans were embarking on what one observer called “The last great tribal raid”. It is always wise to subdue your prey before you try to eat it. Soviet citizens realized that summer that they were prey and that although Stalin may have been a monster, he was better than Hitler.

    By 1945 20 million Soviets citizens were dead; 7 million soldiers in combat; 3 million POWs and roughly 11 million civilians out of a population of 190 million. The US lost less than 4/10 of one million out of a population of 120 million. We know how much of modern America is conditioned by the memory of WWII. You can’t understand Russian and Putin’s remembrance of WWII without knowing those numbers.

    1. juno mas

      Well, it appears all that matters is who has whom by the balls in Ukraine. It seems that the Russian operation has been very effective. Rump state Ukrine could be next.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      Please pay better attention. This is a reading comprehension fail. The article is by Mike Whitney and is an interview with Larry C. Johnson. It’s an insult to claim I would run an article by Unz.

      And Johnson is qualified:

      Larry C Johnson is a veteran of the CIA and the State Department’s Office of Counter Terrorism. He is the founder and managing partner of BERG Associates, which was established in 1998. Larry provided training to the US Military’s Special Operations community for 24 years. He has been vilified by the right and the left, which means he must be doing something right.

      And absolutely nothing in your long quote sets forth the timetable.

      Operation Barbarossa started on June 22, 1941.

      According to the Holocaust Museum, the Germans did not enter Kiev until September 19, 1941 has somewhat different dates:

      The First Battle of Kiev was the German name for the operation that resulted in a very large encirclement of Soviet troops in the vicinity of Kiev during World War II. It is considered the largest encirclement of troops in history. The operation ran from 23 August – 26 September 1941 as part of Operation Barbarossa.[2] In Soviet military history it is referred to as the Kiev Defensive Operation (Киевская оборонительная операция), with somewhat differ

      That is the encirclement around the city.

      September 28 would = 14 weeks from June 22, which is 7+7.

      Johnson may be wrong in his fine points (the encirclement taking 5 weeks) but he’s correct about his overall claim, the time from the launch of the operation to when Kiev was taken. I don’t see why you are caviling.

  25. juno mas

    RE: First Peoples…

    The more likely reason that the Clovis land route had sustained archeological prominence is that the water route was on an ocean that was ~300′ lower than it is today. So any camps they may have created during their water route along the coast would be submerged today. Many have doubted the Clovis claim. The current ‘findings’ lay it permanently to rest.

    1. Charlie Sheldon

      It has taken more than 20 years for the Clovis dogma to be properly fractured, and some would argue longer. There was of course elegance to the theory that a corridor opened between the great ice sheets around 13,000 years ago and then people who had crossed the land bridge flooded south to people the Americas, along the way killing off all the megafauna, but even as this thesis was proposed there were vexing other sites that seemed older. During the last 20 years the new field of underwater archeology has developed and Canadian scientists have found buried village sites off Haida Gwaii clearly from the time of great ice when sea levels were lower. More significantly has been the realization that ancient humans were capable seafarers, could build and operate vessels, could navigate, and could thus run the coasts. Humans crossed to Australia 60,000 to 80,000 years ago, a 60 miles passage, well out of sight of land. Humans in Timor, 40,000 years ago, caught and ate a species of tuna only taken well offshore. Juno mas is right – at the time of the great ice the sea level was 300 feet lower than today, such that all coastal sites are buried.

      Another element never discussed is that, back then, humans were not the apex predator. The great animals ruled – dire wolves, huge cats, short face bear – and my guess is that human groups had to hide and find refuge away from these animals, on islands, for example, or in glacial refuges within the great ice – and this observation leads me to speculate that humans for thousands of years, at least in the temperate climates, lived in tiny isolated groups along the shore, living on seafood and marine mammals, and only really moved in numbers inland as the great animals were eventually reduced by hunting and climate change.

      What this means, of course, is that humans could have reached the Americas any time in the last 500,000 years, during one of the ice ages (there has been one every 100,000 years more or less for 2 million years). The lack of any skeletal evidence to date does not mean evidence does not exist. It may simply mean nothing has been found yet.

    1. judy2shoes

      You know, I was thinking there was a resemblance between Zelenskyy and former Mayor Pete.

  26. Swamp Yankee

    Re: Ann Arbor dimming lights. Here is a very Ann Arbor tale:

    About 14 years ago, during the beginning of my grad school days at UMich, a card carrying member of the Professional Managerial Class (professor’s spawn, multiple times over) and an adjunct member of the Outrage Industrial Complex, would have dinner parties for all of us in the same cohort. In the Spring of 2008, she turned off the lights for an hour and put candles on in honor of Earth Day.

    — This is a joke, right? I asked. Note that I was the climate hawk and outdoors enthusiast of all these people, too.
    — No, it’s not a joke! We want to save the Earth!
    — I don’t want to offend but this is self-deluding yuppie bullshit. (The one black guy in the room starts cracking up).
    — What do you mean, she asked, indignant and not a little wounded.
    — What I mean is that we all effing drove here! And we’re turning the lights back on in an hour! We aren’t doing anything real here.
    [crickets, followed by either appreciative or nervous laughter, plus the pouring of more drinks, or in some of our cases, the packing of another bowl].

    It was performativeness and virtue-signalling avant la lettre!

  27. RobertC

    Announcing that Putin wants ‘unfriendly’ countries to pay for Russian gas in roubles while Biden is flying to Europe is likely intentional.

    LONDON, March 23 (Reuters) – Russia will seek payment in roubles for gas sales from “unfriendly” countries, President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday, sending European gas prices soaring on concerns the move would exacerbate the region’s energy crunch.

    Putin said the government and central bank had one week to come up with a solution on how to move these operations into the Russian currency and that gas giant Gazprom (GAZP.MM) would be ordered to make the corresponding changes to gas contracts.

    1. RobertC

      Oops I forgot to highlight a key aspect of Putin’s announcement that “would exacerbate the region’s energy crunch.”

      That is the determination of “unfriendly” countries.

      Once any European country is determined to be “friendly” and accordingly relieved of the roubles requirement, then all the remaining countries will feel internal pressure to change their sanctions behavior from “unfriendly” to “friendly” thereby salami-slicing weakening of Biden’s sanctions regime.

      It’s Whack-A-Mole time for Biden.

  28. RobertC

    Xi serves notice to Biden that Russia’s Putin gets Chinese backing to stay in G20

    JAKARTA, March 23 (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin plans to attend the next G20 summit in Indonesia later this year and received valuable backing from Beijing on Wednesday in a pushback to suggestions by some members that Russia could be barred from the group.

    The United States and its Western allies are assessing whether Russia should remain within the Group of Twenty major economies following its invasion of Ukraine, sources involved in the discussions told Reuters.

    But any move to exclude Russia would probably be vetoed by others in the group, raising the prospect of some countries instead skipping G20 meetings, the sources said.

    This is an important very public action. China could have waited for the vote or until the next meeting in November but instead chose this moment, again while Biden is flying to Europe, to remind everyone that China’s relationship with Russia is “closer than an alliance.”

  29. RobertC

    Apologies to Kevin W but the AT article China-India ties ‘to ease’ after 2020-22 clashes is significant (highlights are mine):

    1. Chinese and Indian diplomats will exchange visits very soon. Chinese officials will visit India first, and India’s Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar will then come to China.

    2. The opportunity may be precipitated by the Russia-Ukraine conflict, in which China and India have very similar positions. For economic and trade reasons, India needs China. India will be at a disadvantage if it continues to fight with China. It won’t benefit from a border conflict with China, which will only benefit several developed countries, including the United States, Japan and Australia, which want to make trouble. These countries offer no benefits to India.

    3. India will have realized that it’s better to secure benefits from both China and the United States, rather than taking sides between the two. During the past two years, India has gone in the wrong direction by leaning toward the United States and Japan and joining the QUAD. It has now understood the true state of affairs. This provides India with no benefits, but only leads to problems. It is expected that India will remain in the QUAD while learning to echo Biden’s statement that it “wants no conflicts or a new Cold War.”

    4. China has no illusions about India’s capricious policy. But China will follow the strategic trend of peaceful development of economic cooperation and trade. There is no reason not to repair India-China relations. The United States always hopes that other countries will clash with China harshly. It worries that China’s global trade development will go smoothly. China should promote the development of its economic relations and trade with other countries. It does not need to retaliate against India. This development is a sharp response to the hostile United States.

    Like China did two decades ago with Russia, China is reaching out to India and asking for an improved relationship that resolves the border issues and accepts India’s non-aligned status.

    More at RobertC March 22, 2022 at 8:08 pm

  30. RobertC

    Another OUTSTANDING analysis by Indian diplomat (retired) M. K. BHADRAKUMAR India, US have different priorities

    If you have the time, I recommend you read it all including its links. And if you have more time read it again for the subtleties. Here’s one:

    Does Biden even know that at least 25 African countries depend on Russia for meeting more than one-third of their wheat imports? Or, that Benin actually meets 100% on Russia for its wheat imports? And that Russia supplies wheat at concessional price for these poor countries?

    Now, how do these meek and wretched countries of the planet import from Russia when Biden and EU chief Ursula Gertrud von der Leyen join hands to block the banking channels for trading with Russia? Can Delaware find a solution?

    The cruelty and cynical complacency with which the Biden Administration and the EU conduct their foreign polices is absolutely stunning. And, mind you, all this is happening in the name of “democratic values” and “international law”!

    Yves apologies for jumping the gun because I’m sure the article will be in tomorrow’s links.

  31. The Rev Kev

    People may remember the two Russian pranksters Vovan and Lexus who phone very important people while pretending to be another insider to get these people to make stupid and outrageous things on that line. People ranging from Recep Erdogan to Justin Trudeau to Elton John. Well a coupla days ago they got on the horn with the UK’s Defence Minister and had him admit things like that the UK was running out of anti-tank missiles as they had sent theirs to the Ukraine. They have already released a small clip and are promising to release the full conversation but the UK MoD is demanding that YouTube yank it down as it appears-

    Here is the sample that they released- (1:27 mins)

  32. rowlf

    Thanks for the Chas Freeman interview link. Like Bill Black, he is one of the old pros that is good to listen to. I would love Freeman and Lavrov together in a Valdai Club type interview.

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