Links 3/28/2022

Dear patient readers,

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

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


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

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

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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Perseverance Reveals The Speed Of Sound On Mars IFL Science

Worm composting is great for the planet and your garden. Here’s how to get started LA Times

I Want You Back: Getting My Personal Data From Amazon Was Weeks of Confusion and Tedium The Intercept. Commentary:

The entire Doctorow thread is worth a read, too.


‘Forever chemicals’ found in fast food wrappers The Hill


SARS-CoV-2 shedding sources in wastewater and implications for wastewater-based epidemiology Journal of Hazardous Materials. From the Abtract: ” Recent studies found that SARS-CoV-2 RNA concentration in wastewater (CRNA) could not be accounted by the fecal shedding alone….. Sputum discharging behavior of patients also resulted in great fluctuations of CRNA under a certain prevalence. Thus, sputum is a potential critical shedding source for COVID-19 WBE surveillance.” Hmm.

Controlled Mechanical Ventilation (CMV) works Fondazione David Hume. The original of the Reuters “82%” study. Commentary:

Your homework assignment for “Let ‘Er Rip” 101:

You’re on your own, kid! Let me know how it works out!


Two Ukraine war scenarios and what they mean for US-China power rivalry South China Morning Post

How COVID Exploded in Hong Kong The New Yorker

What a Time for Japan to Matter to Markets Again John Authers, Bloomberg


Renowned forest monk murdered in Mandalay monastery Democratic Voice of Burma

US, Philippines largest-ever war games kicked off Al Mayadeen


India, China agree to disagree on LAC as India seeks border peace, China long-term view Times of India

Why India and China should make nice South China Morning Post

New Not-So-Cold War

American officials scrambled to clarify Biden’s suggestion that Putin ‘cannot remain in power.’ NYT

Just where is Joe Biden going to find gas for the EU? Politico. “A senior U.S. official clarified that the promise of 15 bcm this year is actually a commitment to try and help convince companies in Asia or elsewhere that were expecting cargoes this coming winter to agree to send them to Europe instead. That would be a repeat of what happened this past winter, the official said.” Oh. There seems to be rather a lot of clarification going on just now.

* * *

New Ukraine-Russia talks this week Channel News Asia

Ukraine IS willing to accept neutral status in any peace deal with Russia, Zelensky reveals, as Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan calls Putin to urge for a ceasefire ahead of peace talks today Daily Mail

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks at a meeting of the Board of Trustees of the Alexander Gorchakov Public Diplomacy Fund, Moscow, March 25, 2022 The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation

* * *

Biden Confirms Why the US Needed This War Consortium News

Re-Visiting Russiagate In Light Of The Ukraine War Caitlin Johnstone

Beware the redux: America’s violent Cold War history Responsible Statecraft

* * *

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, March 27 Institute for the Study of War

Exclusive: Ukraine’s Defense Intelligence Chief Warns of “Real Hell” for Russians The Nation

Problems With Russia’s Political Prepwork in the Russo-Ukrainian War The National Interest

* * *

Ukraine promises “immediate investigation” after video surfaces of soldiers shooting Russian prisoners CNN. Made it through the filters, oddly.

Poland and the United States: Warsaw and its ‘big brother‘ Deutsche Welle

Zurich Insurance removes Z symbol after letter used to show support for Ukraine war Reuters. Good thing Putin didn’t pick “e.” Rutrs would have a problem.

Banks stuck in legal tangle over Russian corporate bond payments FT

Biden Administration

Kaspersky, China Telecom, China Mobile named ‘threats to US national security‘ The Register

Congress Is Already Blowing a Key Chance to Reform Nuclear Weapons Policy The Intercept

No, Justice Thomas Did Not Commit an Impeachable Offense Jonathan Turley

Supply Chain

Global commodity shifts in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine Splash 247

Sanctions and rationing: the next shock for companies FT

Tanker Market Mired With Uncertainties Hellenic Shipping News

Russia’s Arctic gas ambitions at risk as sanctions imperil LNG icebreakers FT

Price of pint is set to soar by Christmas: Brewer Adnams warns rocketing barley costs due to war in Ukraine will push up beer prices as cost-of-living crisis deepens Daily Mail


Chris Rock Declines to File Police Report After Will Smith Slap at Oscars, LAPD Says Hollywood Reporter

Black Ops in Hollywood: From Censorship to Normalization Covert Action Magazine (AC).

Our Famously Free Press

Invasion of the Fact-Checkers The Tablet. On the terrain of the platforms:

Fascist normalization proceeds apace….

Health Care

Why well-qualified medical school graduates can’t get jobs — despite doctor shortages Vox

Sports Desk

Underdog Saint Peter’s ends unprecedented March Madness run with Elite Eight loss ABC

Black Injustice Tipping Point

Howard Historian Daryl Scott on ‘Grievance History,’ the 1619 Project and the ‘Possibility that We Rend Ourselves on the Question of Race’ (interview) The 74. Well worth a read on the 1619 Project, among other things.

Despotism centre-stage Times Literary Supplement (NL). “The pit exercised power. By applauding or hooting, it determined the success or failure of plays. Its antics were part of the performance, and they illustrate an argument that I would like to advance about the immediate origins of the Revolution: theatricality and violence went together.”

Class Warfare

Capital Spending Boom Helps Raise Productivity, Contain Costs WSJ

As Sacramento teachers strike enters second week, state superintendent begins negotiating sellout contract WSWS

IHOP and Pepsi Made a Maple Syrup Cola — Will It Pair Well with Pancakes? Food & Wine

Shikoku Pilgrimage Emergence Magazine. Multimedia, but reasonably laptop-friendly.

Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. griffen

    Pepsi Cola. Maple Syrup. IHOP. No love for Cracker Barrel, what gives?

    Intrigued, I am not. Just weird.

    1. anon y'mouse

      no love because they unofficially still maintain segregated dining areas in some small towns in the south?

      experienced that for myself. it may have been coincidence or shift change, but i somehow doubt it.

      arrived with a mixed group for a late brunch when the place was starting to empty from a saturday breakfast crowd. waited an unusually long time considering the place was about 1/3 empty and diners kept leaving. when we went back to be seated, it was rather apparent that the white diners were in the first section and the black in the second, and they had no idea where to put us.

      one of many interesting experiences in the “new” south.

      1. griffen

        erm, no not exactly where I was going. Some places in this world, per that dining example, the fact that the world changed in the past 50 years has yet to reach them. I am a bit more saddened by that than shocked.

    2. truly

      A friend of mine just had an open house at his Maple syrup operation. An annual thing, a pig roast, picnic like sides and LOTS of drinking. Celebrating the sap run and thanking all of the help. (I am on the chainsaw committee).
      They mix cheap whiskey with Pepsi and pour a little (tablespoon?) of hot syrup, right out of the evaporator into the drink. He said they went thru 9 gallons of whiskey in this manner. I have not tried it, but it sure went over well.

      1. ambrit

        If you are going to mix it with things like colas and syrups, you may as well use the “cheap” whiskey. [Beware the “blended” brands. Basically some wooden barrel aged spirits mixed with everclear. Sipping whiskey it is not.]
        My favourite exposition concerning this is a scene from “It’s A Wonderful Life” where saloon keeper Sheldon Leonard proclaims the eternal verity of barkeeping.
        Short and sweet.

    3. Brunches with Cats

      As for the cola itself, Pepsi Maple Syrup Cola is described as combining “the indulgent flavor profile of maple syrup with the crisp, refreshing caramel notes of a Pepsi.”

      How many molecules of actual maple syrup do you suppose are in a drop of “indulgent flavor profile?” My guess is zero — which is exactly what’s in commercial pancake syrup.

        1. Grateful Dude

          and a phenomenal demulcent. A cup of fenugreek tea clears sinuses, and the demulcent will steep, or simmer out of the seed for days. Tastes good too

    4. upstater

      I’d bet the HFCS sludge remains and maple syrup content is probably 2% in “Maple” Pepsi. I remember Log Cabin syrup as a kid with “2% real maple syrup”. What a foul stuff that was. No wonder I didn’t like pancakes or waffles until I left home!

      On a more wholesome note, we’re going to try using 5 gallons of maple sap in place of water in the this week’s batch of home brew.

      1. Shleep

        A couple of breweries here in Ontario (Upper Canada, now defunct) sold maple beers. They weren’t terrible.

    5. lyman alpha blob

      As a maple sugar maker myself, this is an abomination. Add it to the “kill it with fire” list.

  2. fresno dan

    Re-Visiting Russiagate In Light Of The Ukraine War Caitlin Johnstone
    The most important thing to understand about the Trump-Russia collusion narrative is that it began with western intelligence agencies, was sustained by western intelligence agencies, and in the end resulted in cold war escalations against a government long targeted by western intelligence agencies.

    Day after day mainstream liberals were promised major revelations which would lead to the entire Trump family being dragged from the White House in chains, and day after day those promises failed to deliver. But what did happen during that time was a mountain of US cold war escalations against Moscow, a very good illustration of the immense difference between narrative and fact.

    And now here we are. Joe Lauria has an excellent new article out for Consortium News titled “Biden Confirms Why the US Needed This War” which lays out the evidence that the Ukraine invasion was deliberately provoked to facilitate the longstanding agenda to oust Putin and “ultimately restore a Yeltsin-like puppet to Moscow.”

    1. anon y'mouse

      and now they’ve started replaying that same record about Clarence Thomas. any day now, i’m assured on certain websites, he will be turfed off of the court and his wife face charges for something or other.

      if believing in and acting on false info is a crime, every one in the U.S. is likely guilty.

      1. Mac

        Actually quite well if you look at it through the lens of long term financial and human resource extraction planning.

        What the U.S. first did to foreigners and underlings in our financial and resource colonies, it later learned how to and took full advantage of new financial instruments post Glass Steagal Clinton, starting in the bubble, the “housing crisis” of 2008, then switched gears to the pandemic and now the Ukraine provocation by the U.S.

        That is, the elite acquired more power, have jettisoned more of the Bill of Rights, minus the financial protection parts, more wealth and now stand a chance to destroy the middle class after doing one last extraction through sanctions.

    2. flora

      For the same reason uni academics need to find $ grants to stay employed, the intels need to find enemies to stay employed, pharma needs diseases to medicate and the MIC needs wars to fight to keep the profits high. It’s a win-win. (not) / ;)

    3. AndrewJ

      I’m predisposed to question narratives that involves years and years of planning by behind-the-scenes powerdealers, but, ever since Russiagate I have always wondered Why? Why the constant pounding and demonization of Russia? Because Hillary and the Democrats needed an excuse so she didn’t need to confront their own failures? But the volume was so high and sustained and long, and then last winter, behind the Covid headlines, Biden started loudly saber-rattling, and I thought that was a diversion from the administration’s Covid failure. But it’s all too weird. This thesis that these were elements in a long-term plot to properly root an anti-Russia sentiment in Americans so as to return Russia to client state status via “regime change” makes a lot more of the past decade make sense.
      I wonder how many people I know will start giving me a tinfoil-hat look.

      1. Kouros

        Check the report on “The crisis of democracy: by the Trilateral commission… Long term planning…

      2. Donald

        Syria was supposed to be the new “Afghanistan” that would bleed the Russians if they got involved. I don’t have links offhand, but I know there were statements to that effect from certain officials. I also remember Michael Morell telling Charlie Rose that it would be good if we could kill Russian troops in Syria in a plausibly deniable fashion–they would know we did it and we would know they knew, but everyone could save face and pretend otherwise while sending them a message.

        So yeah, there’s been a longstanding deeprooted desire to see a hottish Cold War (a Lukewarm War?) with the Russians going back before Russiagate. Both Syria and Ukraine are part of that. Syria didn’t work out as the quagmire for Russia that they were hoping for.

        If you say this in mainstream circles then of course you are a terrible Putin apologist or something, but I don’t think Russia had the right to invade Ukraine. But I also don’t believe in these fairy tales about good vs evil that our so called pragmatic mainstream liberals and conservatives believe in.

      3. David

        There’s always a temptation to find long-term patterns in extended sequences of events, but they rarely exist in practice. The US political class, with its studied ignorance of the rest of the world and its attention span of a hyperactive gnat, is perhaps the least capable of any in the world of having a long-term plan. There are two qualifications to this, though.
        The first is that there are certainly individuals within the Blob who would like to have a long-term plan, and may write about it, argue for it, and occasionally even occupy positions where they can try to formulate one. But they remain individuals. The second is that it’s very possible for large numbers of individuals, over quite long periods of time, to respond to the same pressures and the same opportunities in much the same way. Russia has functioned for the US PMC as an all-purpose enemy and villain for many years. The Russians have, until now, not been able to extract a cost for this, so it’s a game which any number have been able to play, and it has helped careers, gathered publicity for institutions, funded university places for children and so forth, without any real downside. It’s even more attractive when you consider that for most of the PMC the outside world doesn’t really exist, and nothing that Washington says or does has any actual consequence outside, unless Washington wants it to. And in that case, all consequences are necessarily positive for the PMC. If you really want to think of it as a conspiracy, think of it as a crowd-funded one.

        1. Kouros

          We also need to remember that personnel (HR) is policy as well. This is how Stalin got into power and how the many Russian Soviets ended up being dominated by the Bolsheviks…

      4. Alex Cox

        In the same way the Skripal story, with its many holes and the ensuing total disappearance of the Skripals, the endless Economist covers of a demonic Putin and a beaten-up bear, and the elevation of Luke Harding to the status of “journalist” – all his Guardian articles about Russia featured the banner ‘Mafia State’ – were part of the creation of an hysterical anti-Russian narrative in England.

        Not sure it was really necessary, though. Hollywood movies and BBC leCarre series have been demonizing the Russians for such a long time that the novichok claims were surely overkill.

        1. Grebo

          Russia held the FIFA World Cup finals in 2018. The British government tried to discourage footy fans from going, with little success. And their nightmare came true as the fans all said what a nice, normal place Russia turned out to be.

          The plan has clearly existed ever since Putin kicked the Americans out of the Kremlin. Not in every detail of course, but every opportunity to advance it has been taken.

      5. fresno dan

        Very good questions. I really don’t know, but my theory is that it is akin to a religion, the indoctrination is that constant and pervasive. First it was communism was Godless AND they would destroy capitalism – (OMG – destroy capitalism!!!!) Now Russia is not communist, or Godless, but somehow they still imperil us. I think Putin’s critique of billionaire exploitation is just too dangerous for the rich.

    4. Jeremy Grimm

      “… the Russian people empowered to see how little he cares for them. In showing them that, Putin’s days as President will surely be numbered and so too will those of the kleptocratic elite that surround him. He’ll lose power and he won’t get to choose his successor.”
      “… the American people empowered to see how little he cares for them. In showing them that, Biden’s days as President will surely be numbered and so too will those of the kleptocratic elite that surround him. He’ll lose power and he won’t get to choose his successor.”
      “The Invasion Was Necessary” section — strange echoes of Ellsberg’s discussion of the reasons the war with Japan was continued in 1945 to enable demonstrations of the atomic bomb.
      Comment — “Figleaf23:
      What makes no sense to me is how is any of this anti-Russia strategy of any benefit to American citizens.”

      I really want to believe the actions of the u.s. government are motivated by incompetence or avarice, but this link leaves me very afraid the u.s government is driven by madness. I cannot understand madness. I cannot predict its direction or rationalize its actions through emotions or motives I can comprehend. Madness to lead us into an era already presenting many other sources of chaos?

      1. KD

        Those whom the Gods would destroy, they first make mad.

        While not a particularly religious person, I have never lived in a time when it was clearer that simple prayer is perhaps the greatest defense against the Zeitgeist.

          1. Procopius

            Prayer has great power, even if you do not believe in prayer; even if you do not believe in the power of prayer.

      2. digi_owl

        Not sure if it is madness, but it seems to in part be a fervent belief that US culture is the peak of culture.

        As in while the republicans are out to loot, the democrats are out to “educate”.

        This similar to how to Romans everyone else were barbarians.

  3. DJG, Reality Czar

    Joe Lauria’s article at Consortium News and Caitlin Johnstone’s article (in which she quotes Lauria) are good explainers. They show how the U.S. has been fomenting war in Ukraine for years. Now, in typical U.S. managerial fashion, the national management is “walking things back” and “clarifying.” After all, the elites in the U.S. don’t want to be held accountable for their actions.

    Given that U.S. management never thinks anything through–recall all of those general meetings that we’ve had to sit through in which the dental plan is suddenly and inexplicably altered / destroyed–it is no surprise that the U.S. government has no plan for getting energy to the EU. There is some magical thinking about LNG ports. More likely, the “intelligence community” and Boris Johnson are more than happy to let the French surrender monkeys freeze in the dark.

    War is a racket.

  4. digi_owl

    Republicans, the party of big oil.

    Democrats, the party of big mac.

    It seems like the Democrats wants to “run” Russia in order for US services companies to get priority.

    This similar to how just about the only nations outside of USA that use US made mobile network tech are places that USA have invaded over the years.

  5. The Rev Kev

    “Ukraine promises “immediate investigation” after video surfaces of soldiers shooting Russian prisoners”

    ‘Made it through the filters, oddly.’

    Or maybe not. I just watched that three-minute video and though the Ukrainians claim that they captured those Russians wounded, the film clip ends with three bound Russian prisoners forced off a van and then immediately shot in their legs. Wouldn’t want to be those Ukrainian soldiers going forward as Russian military intelligence will be on their cases.

    Anyway, perhaps this made it through the filters because of another film clip that has come out of Mariupol. DPR forces found the body of a woman in the basement of Mariupol school No. 25, which was used by Ukrainians as a stronghold. The woman’s arm was torn off, she was tortured, she had a bag over her head and she had what looks like an emblem either branded or burnt into her stomach.

    No doubt more will be found and Russian-led forces also captured the base of the 8th regiment of the Special Operations Forces of Ukraine and found a torture chamber created there with chains, electric torture devices and the Right Sector-kind flag. So perhaps that first video was allowed to slip out to cover up some of the stuff now coming out of places like Mariupol.

    1. digi_owl

      Shit, now i sit here contemplating the story of Sayyid Qutb.

      While he was a conservative from the start that didn’t like US culture encroaching on Egypt, he didn’t turn militant until Egyptian government had him jailed and tortured. And those tortureres in turn had been trained by CIA.

      What is the chance that these bastards have CIA training? Perhaps that they got it at certain black sites at the height of the war on terror?

      I do wonder what will come to light the day the political will is gathered to confront and raze Langley to the ground. Because i worry that it will be just as sickening as the Gestapo or KGB.

      1. John Zelnicker

        didi-owl – The odds are 100%. The CIA has as much as admitted that they have been training operatives from Ukraine ever since 2014, at least.

        Supposedly, there is a secret training base in southern Mississippi, likely at Camp Shelby.

        1. ambrit

          So that’s the reason for all the flights in and out of the Camp Shelby airfield? Hmmm…
          This gives us pause. If some idiot goes and uses tactical nukes against Russian formations in the Ukraine, I’ll fully expect a low yield nuke to hit Camp Shelby, which is six miles from where I sit. Oh joy!
          At least we’ve got our Potassium Iodide tablets ready to hand.
          Stay safe! Don’t glow in the dark!

          1. Wukchumni

            Perhaps it is foolish, but I feel so safe being relatively close to Fresno-which has nothing worth wasting a nuke on from an adversary’s standpoint, although it would do much to improve the looks of the place.

            NAS Lemoore is more of a target being the base for an F-35 squadron-but again, why would you waste nukes taking out planes that don’t work all that well?

            1. Kouros

              Dresden also was not worth wasting those bombs either. Such places are also not defended…

              1. Wukchumni

                I can’t see you in a sear-sucker suit, although i’m assured you are of target value, rest easy fresno dan.

            2. Ana

              Sacramento here. We have some attractive targets. The State Capital, the east west north south freeways all converge in downtown, likewise the rail lines, a deep water port (yes we do, by way of a deep ditch called the ship channel), three military bases currently in civilian hands that could be repurposed back to the military immediately, most of the rivers for agricultural use in the central valley, the major north south electrical transmission lines and the control center to direct and manage electrical supply in Calif.

              All this was inventoried by the Sacramento Bee newspaper about 20 years ago. As bonafides for myself, I was in charge of disaster recovery and business resumption for one of the state departments. We got nothing for ability to do recover or resume anything if zoomies are involved.

              Ana in Sacramento

      2. lyman alpha blob

        As John Z said, 100%.

        The corporate media was bragging about it shortly before Russia invaded, which is also likely one of the prime reasons Russia invaded.

        From 1/13/22 –

        “The CIA is overseeing a secret intensive training program in the U.S. for elite Ukrainian special operations forces and other intelligence personnel, according to five former intelligence and national security officials familiar with the initiative. The program, which started in 2015, is based at an undisclosed facility in the Southern U.S., according to some of those officials.”

        1. digi_owl

          So here we are, once more setting the stage for a epic fuckup akin to Afghanistan. Only this time it is not some far off mountainous “nation” filled with goat herders, it is a modern nation on the eastern edge of Europe. And a massive grain producer as well.

          1. OISIN

            Ukraine is many things but its poor and corruption is rife. There is no pot of gold for the Victors, if there can be Victors.

    2. Lex

      I saw the POW video this weekend on Telegram. Indeed, the beginning of the clip looks like they’re all wounded but the end explains why some of the “wounded” were bleeding from the foot. At least one of the soldiers exiting the van is shot directly in the heel.

      Agree on Mariupol. The former SBU guy that runs UKRleaks has already been to the airport which is long known as Avoz’s torture camp. I’m not at all sure how the west’s information war is going to be able to spin Mariupol. There are also pictures of training materials on how to use civilians in a high rise as human shields and photos of high rises where the tactic was clearly used, including the tank parked in the courtyard entrance.

      There’s no way that the number of stories coming out of evacuees can be a Russian information operation. There are too many and while consistent, they aren’t perfectly consistent. They include removal of people from upper stories, firing artillery from in front of apartments and then moving, and Azov shooting civilians for sport when they came out of basements to boil water or attempt to cook what little food they might have found. (I’d link these but most of them come from Telegram and most are not subtitled.)

      1. The Rev Kev

        Ah, your comment explains something that I just read. The Ukrainians are pleading with the International Red Cross not to set up an office on Rostov-on-Don to take care of refugees being evacuated out of the Ukraine to Russia. Couldn’t work out why at first until I read your comment. If those refugees start telling the Red Cross people what happened to them in Mariupol and what the Ukrainians have been up to, that information might leak out eventually and will not be welcome in the west-

        1. digi_owl

          There is also the issue that Ukraine maintains that any “refugee” found on the Russian side of the border was forced there by Russia.

          Red Cross may well be the last remaining neutral org that operate in warzones, and thus anything coming from there will be hard to disregard.

        2. Polar Socialist

          Oh, just the refugees telling that they came willingly to Russia would punch holes in to the Ukrainian “they are hostages” narrative. On the other hand, if Ukraine actually believed this narrative, wouldn’t they demand Red Cross to interfere.

          Anyway, I think International Red Cross would be diplomatic enough not to collect or publish the stories in order to stay apolitical and capable to operate impartially everywhere.

        3. Lex

          Not all the stories are “pro-Russian” either in the “thank god they liberated us”. A lot of them are just describing hell and saying they wanted no part of any of it, but at least the Russians got them to somewhere safe and are feeding them. A fair number of them indicate that they only left the basements because Russian troops came and told them they had to get out now, and then helped them. More than a couple of videos of Russians using armored trucks and APCs to evacuate people. Watching a babushka trying to exit the side hatch of an APC is something. I can’t imagine it was the first choice of soldiers on the ground.

      2. dftbs

        You almost have to wonder what benefit does the “spin” give the narrative controllers. The rest of the world isn’t buying what we’re selling. If everyone in the states suddenly became convinced that the Ukrainians were rife with nutsies would that change anything? You can bet our foreign policy isn’t motivated by moral considerations or perceptions of those considerations, any more than our healthcare policy is.

        The hermetic narrative control policy of the West is definitely total within the bubble, but it almost seems strategically useless.

      3. Kouros

        Israeli tactics on Palestinians. Read an article some years ago, cannot retrieve it, on competition between Israeli sharpshooters to hit Palestinians’ ankles and legs with the purpose of making them infirm for life, to be a big cost to their families…

      4. Donald

        The Soviet war in Afghanistan was covered as pure good vs pure evil in most of the press as I remember it back then. You mostly had to look at far left sources (this was pre-Web) in magazines like the Nation to find out that the mujahadeen were not quite the noble resistance fighters that politicians embraced. Real wars tend to be nasty on both sides, no matter which side has the better cause, but that doesn’t make for good narratives I guess.

        I think the Syrian rebels mostly got a starry-eyed press. Assad was the only villain there in many or most Western reporting and it wasn’t reported as a brutal mulit-sided civil war where all sides committed atrocities and a large fraction of the dead were Syrian soldiers defending the government, but as one long massacre of civilians and outgunned rebels conducted by Assad’s forces and the Russians.

        I don’t know what is going on in the Ukraine regarding atrocities committed by either side, but I expect that if it is like Syria, don’t expect that much honest reporting in most of the press. I’m curious about whether there is some objective third party coverage in any newspaper both about the war itself and who is winning and also about atrocities.

    3. Sibiryak

      …the film clip ends with three bound Russian prisoners forced off a van and then immediately shot in their legs

      That clip is being shown all over Russian TV today, with parts of it blurred out. You can imagine the rage its producing.

    4. Dave in Austin

      Kneecapping. How… Irish. Not pleasant but not a bullet in the neck. Or as the Canadian Stan Roger’s song “the House of Orange” says about the Canadian Irish Catholic position on Belfast:

      “And meanwhile my babies are safe in their home
      Unlike their pale cousins who shiver and cry
      While kneecappers nail their poor dads to the floor
      And teach them to hate and to die”

    5. flora

      No mention in the MSM accounts of the prisoners being shot not only in the knees but also in the… higher up the leg. Shooting the knees is bad enough.

      1. flora

        adding to be clear: the shooters were Ukr soldiers, the POW prisoners were captured RU soldiers.

    6. Boomheist

      I have been watching the Patrick Lancaster videos from Mariupol, and I think in the long run this guy should receive some kind of major award, he is producing great stuff and it seems increasingly unlikely this is some kind of whitewash operation run by the Russians. That video of the shot POWs (by Russians) is not at all clear, either.

      What seems obvious (to me at least) is that there has long been and continues to be this huge group of western neocons and East European refugee ancestors who have all their lives fought to disable Russia, even after the USSR ended. This anti-Russian and anti-communist belief is more than a century old, except fore the brief blip (but a huge blip) when Hitler rose and for a few years the Nazis were deemed worse than the Russians. Now the Russians are back on top, as bad guys, and this is a familiar, generations-long view, and in this context the Azov group is being excused as less bad.

      Never forget that after the First World ended in 1918 the U.S. and maybe Britain sent soldiers to join the White Army fighting the Red Army, and these soldiers, several thousand of them, fought for a couple of years. This is a long long story.

      In the end, from a global perspective, the balance seems to be tilting back to an anti-Russian focus, and just as during WW2 many Eastern Europeans joined the invading German Nazi armies to fight Stalin, now, today, 80 years alter, it seems the entire West is again aligning with the descendants of those Nazis.

  6. fresno dan
    Over the last several years, scientists have investigated the mystery of anesthesia from a surprising angle: the Venus flytrap. They have found that anesthesia paralyzes Venus flytraps by disrupting electrical signals, similar to its effects on animals and humans.
    Thirty years after anesthesia debuted in the operating room, Claude Bernard, a French physiologist, demonstrated that the shameplant (Mimosa pudica), which bashfully folds into itself when touched, was unresponsive to touch after exposure to ether, a commonly used anesthetic. The plant also folds into itself at night time, but this movement was not affected by anesthesia. Bernard concluded that anesthesia does not inhibit the ability to move; rather, it inhibits the plant’s ability to sense its environment.

  7. La Peruse

    This post may offend site protocols, be that as it is.

    There has been much speculation about Putin’s short and medium term strategies.

    I think there is considerable evidence that there is only one long term goal. That is Putin’s successor.

    Put simply, Putin is engineering a situation where his successor must be ‘for Russia’, and is changing the world order to ensure that no repeat of the Gorbachev/Yeltsin acquiescence to the western hegemony is possible. This is beyond ‘democratic’ or ‘authoritarian’, liberal or conservative, alliances and compromises. He is leaving a situation where his successor must first and foremost fight for (and win, hello Democrats) the existential integrity of the Russian nation.

    This is a long term goal in purely Keynesian terms.

    I can’t go without a reference from the Washington Post. “Above all, Putin probably seeks to ensure that he and his family are safe and immune from investigation if he steps back from public life.” Ah…. my navel is on fire.

    1. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you.

      With regard to the Putin family fortune that one keeps hearing about, having worked in private banking and knowing a fair bit about the ill gotten gains of the Blair, Clinton and Obama “nouves” and the older money from the network, I have to say that this unimaginable wealth of the Putin family exists largely in the imagination of the usual suspects.

      A fortnight ago, my new employer, an EU bank, sent colleagues and me on a wild goose chase to check if we had financed or had anything to do with Putin’s £65m London apartment and, again, his £65m Monaco yacht. WTF! Why £65m, too, both times? Why would he be stupid enough to do that?

      In 2019, when at another EU bank, Buzzfeed invited me to their London office, next to the Old Bailey, to have a look at some documents proving that Putin banked in the City and was the richest man ever to live. I went for the laugh and free boozy lunch. As I went into their reception, I was met by a life size card board cut out of Putin and struggled to contain a chuckle.

      Anyway, I spent the afternoon wading through treacle and found nothing that could be remotely associated with Putin and his entourage. Buzzfeed wouldn’t buy my conclusions, but it killed much of their feature.

      They had lots of interesting stuff about the former Soviet bloc, not just Russian, oligarchs, their London facilitators, including well known politicians and media types and less well known banksters, and activities, stretching from London to Monaco to Sardinia to Montenegro, that would give Epstein a run for his money.

      1. digi_owl

        Brings to mind a vague memory about some rule of thumb for spotting made up numbers. Something about them ending up outside of some normal distribution or other.

        1. skk

          You may be thinking of Benford’s Law :

          “Benford’s law, also known as the Newcomb–Benford law, the law of anomalous numbers, or the first-digit law, is an observation that in many real-life sets of numerical data, the leading digit is likely to be small”

        2. griffen

          That’s a scene from the Accountant, starring Ben Affleck as being both on the autism spectrum and incredibly gifted working with numbers. I think it was the fictional CFO or COO whose gimmicky ruse for embezzlement that was found out.

          Fictional values ending in 3. Or highly similar tell when breaking down the years of accounting statements.

        3. Wukchumni

          During the GFC in 2008, corporations all seemed to tally their losses @ $3 billion, no matter what sort of business they were in or in spite of actual losses, it sure was a popular number.

        1. Divadab

          Ah so it’s totally accurate- Browder a fine and ethical truth-teller, not a lying tax fraudster and thief at all.

      2. Oh

        the ill gotten gains of the Blair, Clinton and Obama “nouves”

        need to be exposed to the poor fools who worship them.

    2. hamstak

      If there were a single long term goal, I think it is the one you mention a bit further down in your statement: the existential integrity of the Russian nation. Perhaps you can tack onto that “the preservation of Russian sovereignty”.

      Making it about the presidential successor is placing too much emphasis on the individual and the position, which is what “we” tend to do in the West; Russia is the most egregious case of this, where “we” actually equate Russia with Vladimir Putin who is ridiculously treated as an absolute despot.

      This military operation/invasion/your-preferred-characterization (IMO) was not about electoral politics to any appreciable degree; it was about legitimate security concerns regarding NATO expansion, an unstable and hostile rump state on its border prepared to wage an all out assault on the Russophilic separatist regions, that same state intimating the possibility of acquiring nuclear weapons in the future, and the utter unwillingness of the US-led West to even acknowledge those concerns.

      Could you perhaps share some of this “considerable evidence” of which you speak?

      1. JTMcPhee

        So a core tenet of neoliberal globalism is that nations must be destroyed. Nations may not be the ultimate *best* way to organize political economies, but it sure seems like a better way than “every corporation for itself and the devil take the hindmost,” that latter bit bringing to mind the joke about two guys confronting a hungry bear — both have to know that neither can outrun the bear, but that the survivor is the one who can run just a bit faster than the other one…

        Seems to me Putin and his advisors are on to something important here. Not that protecting Mother Russia will resolve all issues of survival, but in the present context, Russia as pretty autarchic, sitting on crucial resources, seems likely to be able to run faster than the geronto-Pluto-kleptocrats that rule the West.

      2. hunkerdown

        I have a theory that ALL Putinology is an attempt by an entitled PMC to manipulate empathy, and should be deleted and banned for the good of the information environment. How’s that for a theory?

    3. Skip Intro

      Th WaPo is so obliviously yet transparently projecting their own values and ‘lived experience’ under US oligarchs, it is a wonder to behold. Thanks for that quote!

    4. lance ringquist

      and that is why america needs a truth commission badly, and one not run by the free traders. what gorbachev and yeltsin did, ranks right up there with what nafta billy clinton did, his disastrous policies have reduced america into a third world status, and the worst has yet to hit.

  8. bubbles in the parking lot

    Biden Confirms Why the US Needed This War

    It’s obvious why Biden needs a war against Putin, and a long one at that. So he can campaign as a “war president” come presidential election time. Instead, what he’s taking a big chance in becoming is a nuclear war president, especially if he keeps publicly spouting crazy talk.

  9. The Rev Kev

    “Kaspersky, China Telecom, China Mobile named ‘threats to US national security‘”

    Yeah, read about this earlier today. Right before I renewed my Kaspersky antivirus.

    1. harrybothered

      I bought a two year Kaspersky anti-virus subscription for the first time this year. I believe they’ve always had an excellent reputation in what they do but because they’re a Russian company they’re not **supposed** to be trusted now. My subscription was just my puny FU to all the anti-Russian hysteria. Working in academia and now in industry, I have worked with a number of Russian colleagues over the years and never had any complaints about any of them. I have personally found them to be engaging and friendly.

  10. Craig H.

    Price of pint is set to soar by Christmas: Brewer Adnams warns rocketing barley costs due to war in Ukraine will push up beer prices as cost-of-living crisis deepens

    30%. Hmm. I’m thinking if a beer is only 30% up by Christmas Britain is going to be skating. A friend of mine in Amsterdam told me beer prices in the pub doubled in one day when they switched from gilders to euros. I wasn’t there. That was a Little Re Set. This is THE Great Re Set. I’m thinking 3X and Daily Mail beer spokesman is low-balling by factor 10

  11. Carolinian

    Re Hollywood and the CIA–The article is a bit skewed and downplays the many instances where the CIA and covert ops are depicted as convenient villains. In fact I had just watched one called The 355 in which the CIA head is depicted as part of a secret money driven plot for world domination.

    If there is a censorship regime this one likely slipped through because it depicts a CIA operative played by Jessica Chastain as having super human fighting skills. And that’s the real false message that the CIA wants to convey: we may be villains (“we lie, we cheat, we skill”–Pompeo) but we sure do know what we are doing. Whereas the truth is that they are dangerous boobs who fit right into the “empire of chaos.” Perhaps it’s less that the movie industry is colonized by the CIA than that the CIA sees itself through the comic book lens of the movie industry. For a ruling class steeped in “narrative” it self licks.

    1. begob

      The Hollywood paradox probably appeals to their ‘outside the box’ thinking: if it ain’t faked, it never happened. Like when you get two actors on a stage in front of an audience, and one slaps the other in the face, but the other’s feet never move an inch – next day it’s generated a billion worthless opinions. Including this one. Ha! See the trick? That’s how they get ya.

  12. Wukchumni

    Go take a hike dept: Crescent Meadow

    John Muir called Crescent Meadow in Sequoia NP, ‘The gem of the Sierra’ and it was the starting point for my 5 backpack trips across the Sierra to Whitney Portal on the High Sierra Trail, along with being a favored childhood haunt back in the 60’s & 70’s.

    It is lousy with lots of monarch sized Giant Sequoias with many of them measuring 15 feet across or larger, they’re a Dime a dozen as you walk from the Giant Forest museum up Crescent Meadow road-now closed to vehicular traffic.

    This was the first time i’d been in the vicinity since the KNP Fire in the fall, which burned the western edge of the road, but didn’t get into Crescent Meadow itself. Scorch marks on Brobdingnagians of size in the burn zone often approached 50 feet high, giving you a feel for how intense the conflagration was.

    2 giants fell of their own accord in the past 6 months or so as the branches were still green, and I always enjoy visiting these particular crash scenes with both 200 foot tall and 15 foot wide baums breaking into a few sections upon impact, 20 tons of tree coming down in a hurry. It’s tantamount to an airplane crash with the ground around littered with parts like some sort of jigsaw puzzle never to be put together again.

    Barring fire taking out the now prone giants, they will last thousands of years without really decaying much, trees that linger long, dead or alive.

    1. Leroy R

      I am wondering how the fuel (diesel especially) situation is going to affect California’s firefighting efforts in the upcoming season. (Might get kinda pricey — maybe reduce inmate pay?) Are there other factors in the present state of affairs that might complicate the situation? With drought continuing and not a lot of snowpack it doesn’t look good.

      1. Wukchumni

        Perhaps the finale of storms for the year hit today and was a bit of a dud unless you were on the coast, and precip falling there is sadly mostly wasted, kind of puts an exclamation mark on our winter of missed content.

        I walked @ 7k feet yesterday and there was no snow on the ground already as April 1 comes calling, the traditional end of winter in Cali.

        Everything drying out so quick so early in the year bodes badly for crazy fire activity, and I too wonder what will transpire if diesel/Av gas becomes unavailable for firefighters?

        1. Leroy R

          “Jet fuel is used to power jet engines. Also known as aviation turbine fuel or Avtur, it is a highly refined Kerosene (a type of diesel), ignited by pressure and heat. There are many different specialised types of jet fuel…
          The octane rating of jet fuel is much lower, around 15 – this is much more like automotive diesel and thus much more resistant to detonating due to sparks or compression.”

          Today I learned…

  13. Lex

    Re: PFAS from a professional perspective,

    The concentrations quoted in the article are insane, even though use in food packaging is a well known source. I try to avoid proposing on PFAS sampling jobs because it’s almost impossible. A few of the issues include having to have the lab analyze the sample container before they send it and a hugely long list of things the sampler cannot do prior to sampling. Did you wash your car in the last two days, are you wearing anything waterproof, did you eat fast food, and so on. They are already everywhere and since the limits of detection we need to use are so amazingly small (I use a microscope regularly, I can actually “visualize” microns/micrometers in the single digits, I mean magnified 400x but still, and I have a hard time dealing with ppt conceptually.)

    The intercepts “bad chemistry” series on PFAS is very good for a high level, lay explanation. But it is much worse than can be conveyed in standard journalism. I believe it’s covered by some Intercept articles, but during the trump administration DoD was furiously attempting to incinerate as much of their PFAS stock as they could. The only problem is that the emissions controls for hazardous waste incinerators can’t handle PFAS and the incineration process doesn’t actually destroy them; in fact, it has a tendency to create new, novel PFAS forms. In terms of chemistry, the variety of PFAS is essentially determined by the number of carbon atoms on the molecular tail(s). Turns out that burning them just rearranges or attaches new carbon atoms to the tails.

    This is frustrating since I spend most of 40 hours every week dealing with hazardous substances that have been banned since the late 1970’s. 30% of total PCB production went into paints and caulks, but mostly those aren’t tested for PCBs. In 2019 I had to oversee the landfilling of >1 million pounds of structural steel due to PCB paint. No recycling operation in the US designed for PCBs can handle that volume or type of material. PFAS is essentially an impossibility from my professional perspective. They make PCBs look like a simple problem.

  14. KD

    Johnstone’s exercise in “blame America” is hollow. The US had an excuse in 2014 (Crimea) to take stronger measures and did not. The US did not “make” Putin decide to invade Ukraine in 2022, Ukraine was not going to be accepted into NATO any time soon.

    Trump did run on a repudiation of the bipartisan foreign policy establishment, and won, and the Deep State did everything in its power to prevent a reset on foreign policy, including Russia Gate. I think they would have been happy to remove him from office, but the point was to prevent a reset in foreign policy, which worked. It goes too far to say that the Russo-Ukrainian war was somehow “hatched” by the Deep State, even if it was foreseen as a possible consequence of this policy.

    If you look at the 2019 Rand Corp study, the primary recommendation was to arm Ukraine, but in a calibrated fashion to avoid war. While Russia still has a lot of work to do, it is quite possible that they pick up a large chunk of territory on the Black Sea and end up with a neutral rump Ukraine on the border, which is not what the Deep State wants. Anyone with any brains knows that the sanctions are for domestic audiences, they won’t be effective at causing a change of heart in Russia. It will just push Russia into the arms of China and result in further integration of Russian economy with India and China. On the other hand, you can start telling your kids to clear their place and think about all the starving people in Europe again. It is possible Russia comes out stronger, and the US weaker, and NATO divided–it seems like a real miscalculation by the US foreign policy establishment.

    1. K.k

      “Anyone with any brains knows that the sanctions are for domestic audiences…”

      That might be news to the parents and relatives of tens or more like hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqi children who died from entirely preventable illnesses after the the US attacked civilian infrastructure like water and sewage treatment plants during the Gulf War and then proceeded to impose sanctions on Iraq preventing them from fixing the the damaged water treatment plants leading to countless children shitting themselves to death due to dirty water. This was intentional, in hopes of creating such wide discontent among the populace that it would lead to toppling Sadaam and the Baathists.
      Or tell that to the Venezuelans where tens of thousands a year are dying early due to the US sanctions. Or the Cubans or the Iranians whose lives have been made incredibly miserable due to sanctions.
      The sanctions on Russia are certainly not just for domestic consumption. They are not imposed to change behavior but to inflict pain onto Russia regardless of their behavior going forward. They are meant to divorce and isolate Russia from the world economy or at least a permanent rift between much of Europe and Russia.

      As for Trump, as soon as the permanent State came a knocking he folded every single time. For someone trying trying to buck the “foreign policy consensus”, he sure surrounded himself with the neocons through and through.
      For example, sending the kind of weaponry to Ukraine even Obama managed to resist. Tearing up INF treaty. Tearing up JCPOA with Iran. Or destroying attempts at a detente with Cuba began under Obama.

      And to your first point, the US did more than its fair share to destabilize Ukraine before and after 2014 by supporting the most hideous political factions inside Ukraine in order to cause trouble for Russia.

      1. Yves Smith

        I would go further with Russia. They were meant to incite regime change, to turn Russians against Putin. The West keeps chanting like a mantra that Russia’s economy has collapsed….which it may, but not yet, and not before Europe takes a ton of damage from cutting itself from Russian energy and fertilizer (among other things) and they don’t regard this war as the need to halt an existential threat.

        1. KD

          Let’s see, there have been sanctions on Cuba since Castro came to power, sanctions on Iran, sanctions on Venezuela, sanctions on North Korea, and when have sanctions resulted in regime change? There were even sanctions on Italy in 1935 over the invasion of Ethiopia, which didn’t work either. No doubt they create a humanitarian disaster in the target, but its not clear that they ever resulted in the end of war or regime change. They really are a democratic pretext to appear to be “doing something” when the Establishment gets a political result they don’t like but are unwilling to use force. [I understand that the US is “using force” in Ukraine by virtue of its proxy army, but its not committing US armed forces or even declaring war on Russia, because for now it appears at least the DOD understands that means nuclear annihilation.]

          1. K.k

            It helps to think of sanctions as just one prong of a multi prong approach. In Iraqs case , the sanctions after the gulf war made sure that the economy would would remain in shambles and by extent its military capacity as well. The sanctions weakened and isolated the country with enough body blows that when the US eventually invaded, the Iraqi military had absolutely no chance of putting up a fight. And there was no where they could turn to for support. The sanctions ensured they were entirely alienated from Europe and the USSR was no more.
            We can appreciate the valiant struggles of peoples to live and fight against sanctions but lets not romanticize it. The countries sanctioned suffer terribly. Imagine Iran not under sanctions for decades. It has the history, people and the resources that without the sanctions for decades it would be far wealthier, the regional powerhouse with a real presence on the global stage. Instead the sanctions made sure that it would be too costly for Europeans and others to engage in the kind of business that would have potentially made the country a far more prosperous place. The Iranian GDP remains far smaller than it should be and the ultimately the people suffer from reduced incomes and lower standards of living. Sanctions function as a form of economic warfare and are part of a process to bring countries to heel.

  15. Bob Kavanagh

    Has the updated article on the Przemyśl(?)-Kiev train station issue been posted yet? There was a question if EU ministers actually went to Kiev. I was away for a few days. Yves said it would be posted once it was ready. Thanks

    1. Brunches with Cats

      Helmer posted a third installment on his website a week ago, insisting there’s proof the meeting took place in a mock-up conference room in Poland and no proof it took place in Kiev.

      There’s a discussion about two-thirds of the way down in the comments section on the March 24 Links, including several observations by yours truly. I’ve followed Helmer for years for his in-depth reporting on people and events ignored by the U.S. mainstream. However, as I noted earlier, digging in his heels on this one is not a good look. As other readers also have pointed out, some of what he offers as “proof” is beyond lame. There are several videos online showing all angles of the room, plus Zelensky walking down the hallway and greeting media outside the room before going inside, where the foreign delegation was waiting for him. At least two independent networks (i.e., not state-owned) were there, and I’ve seen videos from one of them of the post-meeting “press conference” — which, in Helmer’s defense, is what government announcements ahead of the “secret meeting” called it. However, it wasn’t a press conference in the sense that reporters could ask questions, but more like a photo op with audio of each leader’s 30-second PR clip.

      I have to wonder whether Helmer was under some kind of pressure to try to prove that story, or maybe just got sucked into the wartime rumor mill. It was widely reported in late February/early March that the U.S. and its European allies were discussing a Ukrainian government in exile if it looked like Russia was winning. That would make Zelensky’s whereabouts highly relevant in the info tug-of-war between “Russia is winning” and “Brave Ukrainians beat back evil Russkys.” It’s not hard to imagine how a story like this could spiral out of control or how even someone of Helmer’s reputation could have been fooled.

    2. Yves Smith

      Helmer said he would send his first rebuttal (his second piece) to us so we could kick the tires before he ran it.

      He didn’t and I wasn’t impressed with it. My running it was preconditioned on advanced review and debugging.

      He’s not under any pressure except his ego. He’s not in Russia.

      He did very fine work on MH17, and given the wall-to-wall propaganda coming out of Ukraine, did have the reasonable basis for a surmise: it’s nuts for three heads of state to travel TOGETHER, worse by train, through a country at war. I am sure the Russians would not want to hit them, but it would have been prefect for the crazed neo-Nazis to blow up the train and blame it on the Rooskies.

      1. Brunches with Cats

        Agreed, it was a crazy stunt and worth investigating, but if a thorough, objective analysis fails to prove one’s theory, the professional knows to let it go or at least put it on a back burner until more evidence surfaces. I was taken aback that he chose instead to insist that he had absolute proof when it so clearly wasn’t, and that’s why I thought he might have been pressured. BTW, I didn’t know he wasn’t in Russia, so thanks for that bit of info. I wasn’t thinking only in terms of government censorship, though. Pressure can come from one’s business network, threats to cut off access to sources, and other tactics I imagine you’re more familiar with than you care to be — especially in this divisive climate.

        As for the meeting itself, I’m still wondering who their target audience was. Obviously they didn’t go all that way just to slap Z on the back and say, “Helluva job.”

  16. Jason Boxman

    The problem of inadequate residency slots is more complicated to untangle because it requires changes in federal funding streams. While small increases in residency positions have been funded by health care institutions themselves and small investments from state governments, only a major federal investment would create the kind of growth that would end the physician shortage.

    And this is truly insane, because federal funding isn’t a constraint! We could have slots for everyone that graduates, every year!

  17. The Rev Kev

    “Just where is Joe Biden going to find gas for the EU?””

    He’s not. The capacity is not there. Not even close and the numbers are ridiculous. The goal is 15 billion cubic meters annually but the Russians have been pumping 155 billion cubic meters a year? Of course ‘the details aren’t clear.’ And ‘a senior U.S. official clarified that the promise of 15 bcm this year is actually a commitment to try and help convince companies in Asia or elsewhere that were expecting cargoes this coming winter to agree to send them to Europe instead. ‘That means that they are asking other countries to go without because the EU stuffed up their own supplies. But you have to remember. Biden is a Democrat. So he is going to promise the EU “access” to the gas needed. Meanwhile, Russia has set a deadline for Ruble gas payment – March 31st. That is in three days time. And if they refuse to settle their debts in Rubles, then they get the chop-

    But no worries. In Germany a politician told people just to put a sweater on as people can withstand 15 degrees (59° Fahrenheit) and it won’t kill them and won’t they think of the dying Ukrainians instead? Of course that went down like a lead balloon-

    1. The Rev Kev

      Right! It’s on! The G7 have rejected the Russian demand for payment in Rubles saying that it would be a breach of their contracts. No seriously, they did-

      So now the clock is ticking and we’ll see what happens on April 1st. If no gas ends up going to Europe after then, I guess that the Ukrainians will no longer need all those gas lines anymore and they can now be bombed.

      1. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you, Rev.

        Gas! What gas? Let the Eu eat cake or, in this instance, burn their furniture.

        My former employer’s CEO, a member of and adviser to the CDU, and a former colleague*, member of the SPD, are lobbying furiously for a reality check.

        *Colleague at said EU bank and a UK banking trade body.

      2. OnceWereVirologist

        Margarita Balmaceda is a professor of diplomacy and international relations at Seton Hall University who has spent years studying the fine details of Russian pipelines and how the country uses its energy to assert global power. Her new book, remarkably timed, is called “Russian Energy Chains.” She spoke with “Marketplace Morning Report” host David Brancaccio, and the following is an edited version of their conversation.

        “Somebody like Putin loves the optics of closing the pipeline, closing the supply spigot — but in reality, natural gas doesn’t really work like that. You cannot really stop producing natural gas so quickly. And if you do not have somewhere to store natural gas that you have already produced, your only choice is either to let it flare in the air, or to continue shipping it.”

        So there you go, the American experts are convinced it’s all a bluff.

        1. Polar Socialist

          In 2016 Gazprom had over 70 bcm storage capacity in Russia, and I don’t think that includes the depleted fields they also use as storage. So they may well have storage for at least a 3-4 months of production, which may be longer than G7 or EU can be without.

        2. John k

          Imo this is true of gas produced as a byproduct of oil. But gas wells can be capped by shutting the valve, so it depends on the well. Granted they produce 10mm barrels/day, so maybe much of it is the former.
          Seems it should be possible to reinject the gas into on other well in the same field, which would have the advantage of maintaining field pressure, but maybe they don’t have the equipment ready to do that.

    2. Louis Fyne

      every molecule of LNG that gets sent to the EU means one less molecule for the US vassals of East Asia (Singapore, Japan, Korea).

      Japan is already at the line when it comes to electricity shortfalls

      it’s going to be one big train wreck.

  18. Matthew G. Saroff

    Jonathan Turley is remarkably consistent.

    His opinions always correspond to the maximum political advantage for the Republican party.
    * Clinton’s offense was impeachable, Trump’s was not.
    * The current no harm, no foul on Thomas.
    * His statements on Kavanaugh.
    * Etc.

    He is a hack.

    1. Yves Smith

      I don’t agree. He pretty often breaks with the conservative line and has Republicans unhappy with him.

      Specifically, he regularly criticized Trump when he was in office.

      His big sin in the minds of the Dems was defending Trump at his impeachment hearing. Oh, where the factual allegations were crap and Turley was the only “expert” to present a legal, as opposed to political argument.

      And calling him a hack is ad hom. Don’t do it again.

  19. The Rev Kev

    “Chris Rock Declines to File Police Report After Will Smith Slap at Oscars, LAPD Says”

    Did Chris Rock go too far? Yes, he did. But for a comment, I will leave this tweet-

    Will Smith saying he wants to be a vessel for love fifteen minutes after hitting a guy live on international TV and then getting a standing ovation is just an incredible summation of what Hollywood’s all about.’

    1. Carolinian

      If celebrities are going to follow this new precedent and jump on stage to slap insult comics it will add an extra hour to the show. Of course the switch to Ultimate Fighting Club will help the show’s increasingly anemic ratings.

      And as a summation perhaps it’s summing how the industry increasingly pretends to take itself seriously while turning out inane “tentpoles” to make money. Once again here’s a recommendation to watch Cronnenberg’s Maps of the Stars for an acid depiction of what the town is all about. Summer upper: it’s about ego and money. And also talent from time to time–the redeeming feature.

      1. Michael Ismoe

        What kind of man “slaps” another man in anger? There’s no business like show business.

    2. CanCyn

      Whole thing was very strange. If they planned and staged it, as some seem to believe, it was very poorly thought out. Some years ago Rock made a documentary called Good Hair in which he explored the lengths and expense to which black woman go when caring for their hair. It was inspired by his daughter’s worry that she didn’t have good hair. Strange that he chose to pick on Pinkett-Smith’s hair style (due to a medical condition which Rock may or may not know about).
      In spite of Smith’s worse (IMO) behaviour (Rock didn’t even flinch towards defending himself or retaliating) I suspect that Rock will become the villain in this saga.

      1. cocomaan

        I sound like a paleoconservative when I say this, but assaulting someone on TV (or giving the appearance of assaulting someone on TV) breaks all kinds of norms of socially-acceptable behavior.

        The comedian Brian Redban wondered whether this will normalize assaults on comedians on stage.

        To me, this is a real sign of a break in public trust, which has already been falling apart for years. It means public gatherings now have an even more implicit threat of violence than already existed (from mass shooters, for instance).

        All that said, I think it was fake. I took martial arts and one of the things they teach you is footwork. Right before the slap, Chris Rock appears to set himself up for the slap. He’s leaning forward. About a second before it’s delivered, he steps forward with his right foot, not away from the blow.

        If it was faked, it’s even more disgusting.

        1. Wukchumni

          Who cares what Hollywood does these days anyhow?

          They used to be important as far as shaping public opinion, but has the feel of a thing we used to be interested in, and you can see it’s influence slipping away.

          1. cocomaan

            That’s true, but if the way they get attention is to pit black men against each other in bloodsport, I do still have a problem with that. They have enough influence to still matter.

        2. greenfire

          Just more messaging to young people, like our flooding the Ukrainian zone with weapons, that violence is an acceptable way to handle conflict. We are a war-loving nation that idolizes warrior culture, attributing that mindset to a host of occupations.

          Michael Moore was 100% correct in Bowling for Columbine. If Mommy and Daddy go off to work at the weapons of mass destruction factory, why are we surprised when children pick up arms to settle their schoolhouse disputes? Add to that the obvious fact that we intend to use all the fossil fuel at every opportunity, and that the old white people heavily invested in fossil fuels and weapons, occasionally kneeling with Kente cloth to feign diversity, are all too eager to end life on this planet as we know it – one way or another.

          1. digi_owl

            That brings to mind other considerations as well, like how a warrior nation/culture treat those that do can’t or won’t partake in the warrior role.

            1. LifelongLib

              Don’t believe the warrior culture hype. People in the U.S. join the military because it’s the employer of last resort, and often their only chance at education/training beyond high school. For the vast majority the interest in being a warrior stops at video games.

              1. digi_owl

                Maybe more “warrior” than warrior.

                And yeah, i know how the system has gotten rigged in order to avoid having another draft like during the Vietnam war.

                But still, consider the supposed fawning over those in uniform. The police in particular.

                Or that national pastime that involve two teams of young men in “armor” ramming into each other like bulls during mating season.

      2. Pat

        I suspect you may be wrong.
        Smith laughed at the joke THEN went after Rock. He continued yelling at Rock even after Rock tried a half assed apology. Rock was then the one who lowered the temperature by pivoting to giving the award.
        Smith had a breakdown in front of that live audience and the millions watching. It might be interesting to see how any taped delay versions had his speech. He became a sobbing mess, and despite a reference to being considered the crazy father, it still came off as largely incoherent. And despite some pockets of support, the audience reaction as shown was more get me out of the room. Which most would have if the big award wasn’t going to be next, and it being Coda reversed the mood to a more feel good state.
        Mind you the producers wheeling out a not all there Liza Minnelli to hand out the best picture Oscar right after might make part of Smith’s point for him. I don’t know whether to applaud Gaga or condemn her for helping.

        Even low rated, enough people will have seen both events that I don’t think propaganda will be able to make Rock the villain.

        1. Pat

          Okay I take it back. We really do live in an upside down world as Smith’s speech is being commended in various outlets. Yes he did apologize to the Academy at the end of his speech but getting there was like talking to someone off their medication, something I do have some experience doing. So I may not buy it, but others might.

        2. Michael Ismoe

          Mind you the producers wheeling out a not all there Liza Minnelli to hand out the best picture Oscar

          Perhaps it was a tribute to Joe Biden?

        3. Carolinian

          The show gives actors free publicity in front of billions worldwide and in exchange they are supposed to take the ribbing (supposedly designed to lighten the mood) if not like it.

          Nikki Finke said that everyone in Hollywood hates the oscars which is why the show has trouble finding hosts. It is a promotional event for the industry.

          1. Eudora Welty

            This reminds me of the statement by Prince Harry that no one in the Royal Family wants to be the Monarch. These institutions have passed their sell-by date but the ending has not yet arrived.

    3. Mikel

      I posted last night about Rock’s mask comment. That is the only small part of the show that I saw and must have left just before this drama.
      Then this morning, I saw some footage of during the commercial break. It was real. Denzel Washington and Tyler Perry among some celebrities trying to calm a tearful Smith.
      Who checked on Chris Rock to see how he was other than the LAPD?
      I heard something about the rapper P. Diddy saying he was going to hold a peace conference between them after the show. How did that go? Maybe we should put Diddy on the Russia/Ukraine situation?

    4. fresno dan

      I didn’t watch – was Zelensky there, and if not, did Penn smelt his Oscar? And if Zelensky was there, did he deliver the famous Belushi Oration (of course, substituting Ukraine for America) from the classic Spielberg 1941?

      1. Pat

        I didn’t watch the entire thing with any diligence, between fast forwarding and reading various things so I may have missed a remark or two. But except for a show card urging giving to Ukrainian refugees and some oblique references to our troubled times, an occasional ribbon was it, no Zelensky.

        1. Carolinian

          The trades say Amy Schumer was pushing the idea of a Zelensky video appearance and the Academy shot it down as inappropriate (ya think?).

          I really didn’t watch the show myself and took in the Spielberg West Side Story instead–which was good. Oscars are always three hours of tedium and embarrassing acceptance speeches. If they have a good host it can be bearable.

      1. Ben Joseph

        I’m pretty sure I learned you can’t hit someone for what they say in kindergarten.

        Chris Rock was unaware of a Smith family illness. He didn’t know Will is a frail narcissist.

  20. antidlc

    Uninsured Americans now to be charged up to $195 per COVID test by some providers: report

    Several testing providers will no longer provide COVID-19 tests for free to uninsured Americans, even if they are symptomatic, saying they will begin to charge between $100 and $195 dollars for PCR tests, ABC News reported.

    Quest Diagnostics, which is one of the country’s largest COVID-19 testing providers, told ABC News that patients will now be billed $125 per PCR test if they are not on Medicare, Medicaid or private insurance

    Quest has started telling partners and clients that it will no longer be able to reimburse for uninsured claims due to a lack of congressional funding, ABC noted.

    At clinic sites run by Northwell GoHealth Urgent Care, the largest health care provider in New York state, uninsured people will now be charged between $120 and $195, plus external lab fees, for a PCR test, according to ABC.

    1. Pat

      Well if people find out for sure they might not treat this like we do a cold or flu, where you go into work unless you actively having GI issues.

      This way no one has to admit people are working in a highly infectious state.

      1. Mr. House

        Not to mention this was what they we’re going to do if you weren’t jabbed at many places of work. How would you like to pay that amount weekly for your covid test? That’s not coercion at all, not at all. Pay your rent in the cost of jabs or just take the jab, we’re not forcing you! ;)

  21. Tom Stone

    I hope the White House keeps plenty of Johnson’s baby powder on hand.
    Because I hate to think the world could end because one senile old man has a bad case of diaper rash.

    1. Anthony G Stegman

      Is that the same J&J powder that causes cancer? Perhaps regime change will first come to Washington.

    2. JTMcPhee

      Would that be the Johnson’s product that may cause cancer? Not that Biden is likely to last long enough to develop that misfortune…

      Dear lord, that the world has come to this, a decrepit, unprincipled old man surrounded by effing Orcs ready to burn the place down for proof of their “power,” faced down by an archetypical Evil Empire (so hard to tell which one is the real evil any more?) minion who at least appears to be upright and honorable in the old sense.

    1. Yves Smith

      First, you have clearly not read our Site Policies. You are supposed to do that before commenting. It is enormously frustrating that I have to waste scarce time that would otherwise be spent on new posts repeatedly pointing people to information they should have read already.

      Second, we have a really friggin’ obvious note at the top of comments. Your complaint is as of 11 AM. I turned in at 7AM. That means whatever comment you posted earlier was after. The idea that you’d expect a comment to be freed in <4 hours under normal circumstanced

      I don't see any comment by you in our Approved, Pending (moderation), Trash or Spam folders. That suggests you changed your handle somehow, which earns you troll points.

  22. Dave in Austin

    If the Russian assault in the Ukraine ends with an agreement requiring the end of sanctions, how will the US press handle it? My bet is the same way the press is handling the assault at the Oscars. First the Ukraine.

    The finger of Russians that reached within 20 miles of the South Ukraine nuclear plant has withdrawn 50 miles and the Russians are evacuating Chernobyl. An agreement on how to inspect the potential Ukrainian Plutonium has been implemented. Mariopol is almost completely in the hands of Russia and the capture will free-up Russian units. The threat of a military division of the Ukraine is suddenly real. Zelinskyy says “neutrality is possible” but not disarmament. Also “Sovereignty and territorial integrity” are a must but the status of certain regions is “subject to negotiations”. Relatively good new.

    Now onto the most amazing news- the Oscars- and what it says about how the press will handle backing away from sanctions. Supposedly the Academy of Motion Picture Artists made a statement about the assault at the Oscars. Where’s Waldo; go to and try and find it.

    Google “Motion Picture Academy Statement” and “Top stories”. Headlines were in order:

    from Deadline: “Academy Issues Statement after Smith-Rock Oscars Slapping Incident”;

    from Pinkvilla “The Academy releases a statement on Will Smith and Chris Rock’s altercation during the ceremony”;

    from Variety “Academy Says It Does Not Condone Violence after Will Smith Slaps Chris Rock at Oscars”.

    Full statement. The Academy “does not condone violence of any form. Tonight we are delighted to celebrate our 94th Academy Awards winners, who deserve this moment of recognition from their peers and movie lovers around the world.” Those pesky verbs. The timeless “does not condone” and the present tense “we are delighted” even though the statement was issued after the ceremony ended. Try “does not condone violence in any form. Tonight we were delighted to celebrate…” and see how it sounds.

    The NYT? The 11th headline down on the website says: “Onstage Slap Rattles Oscars, Before CODA Triumphs” and then: “On the night when CODA became the first film from a streaming service to win best picture, the focus was on Will Smith’s altercation with Chris Rock.”

    Incident? Altercation? Does not condone? The soporific linguistic cruise missiles are inbound. I can’t wait for Jan Pesky to give us Biden’s statement.

    And the synopsis of the Best Picture winner from Google: “Ruby is the only hearing member of a deaf family from Gloucester, Massachusetts. At 17, she works mornings before school to help her parents and brother keep their fishing business afloat. But in joining her high school’s choir club, Ruby finds herself drawn to both her duet partner and her latent passion for singing.” The film is a remake of a French one. It is set in a quaint former fishing village which is 91% white with an $89,000/year family income.

    CODA is on Apple TV+. I’m no expert, but Netflix, the top streaming service, reports the lowest-rated of its top 10 movies got 61 million viewing hours. Apple TV+ seems to be aiming for “quality”; CODA had 600,000 viewers in the first six months and another 375,000 views since the Oscar nomination. A few years ago, in response to criticism, the Oscar voting list was “made more diverse”, so we get Sundance winners not blockbusters. The Oscars are about movies and theaters. Both are ancient history; streaming rules. Apple TV+ is the PBS of that world, older, Whiter and better off. The Oscars are in deep trouble. In 2020 23 million viewers; in 2021 10 million. So this year the show was slanted to get more Black viewers. They got more than they bargained for.

    A thought experiment: imagine what the press and public reaction would have been if a White action-hero/star, 6’2” and 218 lbs, had charged up onto the stage and “slapped (open hand but very hard) a White comedian MC who was 5’8” and 168? And the Black public reaction? Variety gives a sample: The first comment is by Colman Domingo, another Black actor who says on Twitter: “I thought, he’s from West Philly, just like I’m from West Philly. We’re very passionate people.” Of course Coleman is also 6’2”.

    This incident and the press and Black reactions are an almost complete explanation or why White and Asian families are gravitation to places where few Black families live, places like Gloucester MA. But on the bright side, the Ukraine “incident” will probably soon pass into history.

  23. djrichard

    > Despotism centre-stage Times Literary Supplement (NL)

    That article looks to be fascinating. I’ll wait for it to show up in the Gale Literature Resource Center which contains TLS articles in general and is searchable from my local library. This article isn’t in there yet; hoping it should be in there shortly.

  24. Mikel

    Re: Amazon and Personal Data.

    “….This is where the contrast between Amazon’s failures and successes come in. As Mazurov notes, one of the zip files lists *167 corporations* who were sold access to his personal data, ranging from the Royal Bank of Canada to Fitbit to HCA Healthcare.

    It’s a sure bet that when Amazon sells your data to these customers, it comes as a ready-to-use product, not 74 .zip files.

    The gap between Amazon’s “relentless” efficiency and its bumbling, Kafkaeque data delivery couldn’t be more stark…”

    The funny thing is that the corporations have all of this data and still make the same mistakes over and over again. The economy still limps along and they imagine it’s just going through some great transformation that will be better.

  25. nippersdad

    Something that I have been enduring a great deal of cognitive dissonance over lately, largely due to the reportage of The Duran, is this idea that neoliberals/neocons are an outgrowth of the progressive left in the Sixties. A perfect example can be found here at the 31:45 mark:

    I spend so little time in right wing circles that this just serves to confuse me. Correct me if I am wrong, please, but I thought that neoliberalism was a return to the type of capitalism practiced prior to the Great Depression, the kind that even Adam Smith warned of, and that neoconservatism involved the export of the the economic colonialism that supports it. If there is “nothing conservative about it” then how was it that it was conservatives who dragged the Democratic party into their world view to the point where even the mildest of left wingers, like Sanders, now espouse it themselves? Even if they are not “conservative ideas” in practice, they were popularized by conservatives.

    Much is made of the fact that these ideologies were proposed as a counter to the cultural revolution of the Sixties by former Trotskyites within the Democratic party, but I fail to see how conservatives within the party can be called “progressive leftists” when their entire project was based upon curtailing the progressive movement wrt foreign entanglements and building upon the New Deal to expand into areas like The Great Society and civil rights movement current at the time. Reagan was once a New Deal Democrat, himself, and I cannot see how the Clinton Administration’s efforts to expand upon the Reagan revolution by “ending big government as we know it” can in any way be called a progressive left achievement. These references to “former Trotskyists” that one now sees everywhere appear to be conflating the means of continuing the revolution with the ends that “the revolution” seeks to achieve.

    Mercouris, in particular, often waxes nostalgic about the United States that he grew up with, itself a product of the New Deal, so it strikes me that as a student of history these would not be the kinds of ideological blind spots he would be subject to. I found it particularly interesting that he puts our present lack of prominent intellectuals engaging in debate, like Thoreau, down to a “Marxist revolution in education” rather than the routine defunding, increasing authoritarianism and “teaching to the test” that best characterize right wing ideologies of conformity. Somewhere along the line he must have missed that true liberals have the tendency to disagree and have been likened to herding cats; something not seen on essentials within our parties of controlled opposition today. That seems like a pretty large blind spot.

    What am I missing?

    1. Grebo

      I think you are more right than that Alex guy. The original Neocons were Trotskyists (which is not the typical ‘progressive left’) who got turned around by Leo Strauss. They are Zionist imperialists with loftier goals than mere politics. They will happily align with whichever party is in power and can be used to further their ends. Both parties just happen to be Neoliberal so that’s the mantle they don.

      1. nippersdad

        Thank you! I have been seeing this everywhere of late, and I just do not know where it is coming from.

        If they were talking about “former Goldwater Girls” it would have made a lot more sense, but I cannot see Angela Davis for that role.

    2. anahuna

      It’s good to see that I am not the only one wondering about Mercouris. He, seems to share with his frequent guest, Robert Barnes, a highly selective vision of “real Americans” who, for example, are against no-fly zones and don’t want war. The ‘elite,’ in contrast, have been lead astray by their admiration for the British upper classes (this is what I’ve been able to discern while watching Barnes and muttering “arrogant blowhard” from time to time) . It’s startling to see Mercouris, who is so careful to sprinkle caveats throughout his analysis of Russian or Chinese statements, actions, and intentions, succumb to a sort of nostalgia when he speaks of the US. This includes a familiar type of wishful thinking in relation to DJT, assuming that, if he had been re-elected, he would have been able to impose his concept of Russia as a trading partner rather than an adversary. (Pat Lang, over at turcopolier, seems to have succumbed to a similar, though incoherent view, and often raves about our ‘Marxist’ government.)
      Many of us certainly feel a horrified dismay, sometimes shading into terror, at what Hillary and her acolytes have accomplished and what they may continue to inflict on the world and all of us in it. But what does it take, exactly, to regard Trump as a viable alternative?
      Reflecting on the fact that old Marxists – – real ones– clung to a belief in the justice embodied in the Soviet Union, and that both classicists and many of those who should know better still cling to the vision of Athens as an ideal democracy, I wonder if the longing for a truly just and representative society continues to survive in us so strongly that we are impelled to grasp at whatever wisps we find, no matter how illusory.

      1. Yves Smith

        Trump did not accelerate the war project with Russia.

        Hillary wanted a no-fly zone in Syria. That = immediate hot war.

        Trump is enamored of his negotiating skills. Had the neocons managed to poke the bear enough to create a crisis of sorts, Trump loves negotiating, even if he overestimates his skills. Talking at high levels usually prevents further acceleration of hostilities.

        1. nippersdad

          Re: “Trump did not accelerate the war project with Russia.”

          Trump did dump the INF, the Open Skies and the JCPOA treaties, assassinated Soleimani, imposed more sanctions on both Iran and Russia and, in addition to training them, armed Ukraine with weapons that even Obama refused to give them. Given another term of such provocations (the elimination of START as well?) I don’t think any amount of talking could have prevented conflict. Time would not have been his friend as he depends far too heavily upon others being the adults in the room.

          While he does have a certain idiot savant talent for reading a room and acting accordingly, the downside is that he is only as good as the last guy in the room tells him to be. Given his lack of talent at choosing advisors they were few on the ground.

          On the no fly zone front: as we elected to let others do our wet work in Syria we would have had no response when they preemptively took out our aircraft carriers in the Mediterranean and nearby air bases in one fell swoop. Even Hillary might have gotten the message that air dominance can be easily eliminated if Russia so chooses, and that our overreliance on it can be a weakness.

          As you probably already know, Scott Ritter’s analysis of how fast our European bases could be taken out is chilling; he actually sounds a little gleeful when he recounts it.

          There were no good choices in that election, just as there ultimately were none in the last one.

      2. nippersdad

        Thank you! I (think) I am usually pretty good at weighting for bias, but lately I have just seen this idea that it is all the “progressives fault” in the most unusual places, and it led me to wonder where I went wrong. If the “progressive left” had a percentage of the power that is claimed for them we would live in a different world, altogether. I, too, think that Barnes is high on his own supply. He seems well read, but his conclusions often lead to head scratching. That is where they get me questioning my own conclusions.

        And the whole Marxist thing; where would one even start?

        As for this: “I wonder if the longing for a truly just and representative society continues to survive in us so strongly that we are impelled to grasp at whatever wisps we find, no matter how illusory.” Not to go all fawning acolyte, but Yves Politico column* really did seem to cover the zeitgeist well at the time. I have yet to see a better explanation for why he was elected.


  26. RobertC

    WRT to this link Why India and China should make nice South China Morning Post analyst Alex Lo asserts

    India is worth it and Beijing can afford it, at least for now, for the following prices:

    Adding to his price list, for the sake of SouthEast Asia, India and China together must address, albeit not immediately resolve, the critical issue of China’s Upstream Advantage in the Great Himalayan Watershed.

    The four-character Chinese idiom “benefiting from the gifts of nature” (de tian du hou) captures China’s riparian advantage in the great Himalayan watershed. In Mother Nature’s luck of the draw, China is the big winner; many of the largest rivers in the Himalayan watershed originate in the glaciers of Tibet. The Yellow, Yangtze, Mekong, Brahmaputra, Salween, Sutlej, and Indus rivers provide water to 1.5 billion people from the mountains in Tibet down to deltas in Bangladesh, China, India, Myanmar, Pakistan, and Vietnam. As the upstream power, China has the ability to control the quality and flow of water that reaches its downstream neighbors.

    Big powers have big responsibilities and it’s time for both nations to step up to them. But resolving their 2,200 mile land border is the first order of business and it’s hopeful to see the two nuclear-armed neighbors moving forward on that.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      It wasn’t the luck of the draw that made China the big winner over Himalayan water. It was its attack and annexation of Tibet and the forceful suppression of the Tibetan people.

      China has been putting pressure on the border areas for years now, and has been busy exploiting the weakness of India. In simple military terms, its far easier for China to get its army into position along the border than it is for India, as India is dependent on hazardous and seasonal roads for access. India spent years trying to build an all-weather road up to the high Ladakh plateau, but failed after a vast expenditure. So China has been slowly pressuring India and Bhutan along the border, exploiting areas of ambiguous or disputed territory. India has had little choice but to concede in most cases. And China has the trump card in that it controls the headwaters of rivers vital for India, Bangladesh, and much of SE Asia. There is little any of those countries can do about this short of a direct military attack.

      India’s main concern of course is Pakistan, which means China really has had to choose one or the other as an ally. Its chosen Pakistan as the more logical partner and has long term military and political links. This will always constrain any attempt to settle issues with India.

      1. RobertC

        It wasn’t the luck of the draw that made China the big winner over Himalayan water. It was its attack and annexation of Tibet and the forceful suppression of the Tibetan people.

        I agree. China forced others to become its “luck.”

        India’s main concern of course is Pakistan, which means China really has had to choose one or the other as an ally. Its chosen Pakistan as the more logical partner and has long term military and political links. This will always constrain any attempt to settle issues with India.

        Nuclear-armed Pakistan is a problem for everyone in the neighborhood. China made the best economic choice available at the time. It’s not working well with Balochistan looking to be an Afghanistan-scale problem without the mineral benefits. If (when) China and India improve their relationship in the interests of feeding their 1.4B people, which India says begins with resolving border claims, then Pakistan will no longer be able to play them off each other. And BRI can move forward to the region’s mutual benefit within the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation framework.

  27. gepay

    Reading the article on shortage of medical residency positions for recent graduates made me think of the information I found when looking into my recent bill for eye cataract surgery. I found that the amount that I was charged by the hospital was 10 times what medicare paid to the hospital. There was what medicare said the hospital could charge and I was charged 20% of that. But as above Medicare only paid the hospital 10% of what I paid ie 3000$ charged to me, $3oo paid by Medicare to the hospital. This was explained to me by Medicare is that what the hospital could bill by Medicare was the same as what was charged by an urban hospital which would get paid by Medicare 80%. Somehow the law says that a rural hospital so designated only gets paid 10% of what I was charged. WTF Is this some part of a plan to make rural health care unavailable? Then there is the cost of the eye cataract surgery. I was in the hospital less than an hour. There was a previous visit to the eye surgeon, a physical, and a covid test. There was a follow up visit to eye surgeon. I was only locally anesthetized by a nurse anesthesiologist and there were two other nurses besides the eye surgeon (who did a good job and there were no complications). $17,000 Looking at an itemized bill I requested I found $945 charged for phenylephidrine (administered by IV drip) which costs less than $10 in pill form. or IV chondroiten hyaluron $874 oral form similar in price to phenylephedrine. Or $745 for balanced saline. I was charged $750 for the anesthesiology and 300 for the nurse anesthesiologist. Not had time to find out how Medicare can ok these prices. I believe the eye surgeon was paid less than a $1000.

    1. Maritimer

      Silly me, I thought all I needed for company when I went to a hospital was a lawyer. Now I see I need an accountant also. Maybe go long Shamans.

  28. Wukchumni

    Worm composting is great for the planet and your garden. Here’s how to get started LA Times
    Can’t break through the LAT paywall, but i’m guessing they are talking about politicians, and what is the best way to compost them when the most egregious cases are so far away in Humordor?

  29. RobertC

    The glowing embers of radical Islamism are bursting back into flame with the Haqqanis imposing their radical will on Afghanistan The radical network with a penchant for suicide bombings is edging out a more moderate and diplomatic faction inside the Taliban

    One key difference between the Haqqani network and Bardar’s more moderate camp has been that the former believe that it was their struggle, rather than talks held and agreements made in Doha, that forced the US out of Afghanistan.

    That explains why when the Haqqanis arrived in Kabul and occupied the presidential palace, they saw it as their victory over the US and their backed Afghan national forces, according to Mahmudullah, a former Kabul-based journalist who saw this happen first hand.

    Having survived its first few months in power and with the West now largely focused on Russia’s Ukraine war, the Haqqanis now clearly see an opportunity to project themselves as the de facto ruling elite of Afghanistan.

    Afghanis are cursed Afghanistan world’s unhappiest country, even before Taliban and so are their neighbors.

  30. fresno dan
    Over the last several years, scientists have investigated the mystery of anesthesia from a surprising angle: the Venus flytrap. They have found that anesthesia paralyzes Venus flytraps by disrupting electrical signals, similar to its effects on animals and humans.
    In 2017, a group of researchers found anesthesia works on Venus flytraps. They sealed a flytrap in a glass chamber with a beaker of ether and, after an hour, stimulated the plant’s sensory hairs, short hair-like structures in the plant’s trap. Normally, this would cause the carnivorous plant to close its trap. Under the effects of anesthesia, there was no movement.
    From now on, my plants get a shot of novacaine before pruning…

  31. Tom Collins' Moscow Mule

    “Chris Rock Declines to File Police Report After Will Smith Slap at Oscars, LAPD Says Hollywood Reporter”

    We ive in an age where fantasy and reality continually merge and converge into blurred abstract representations that may not be entirely truthful, as they may be deliberate hoaxes, in the form of publicity stunts, perception management, ect.. The public, often the direct target of these hoaxes, is under the misapprehension that they (the public) are far too clever and sophisticated to be conned or suckered, even though it is the case that history demonstrates time and time again the overall gullibility of a beleiving and trusting audience. What does that all mean? Perhaps a past example illustrates the technique: where, for example:

    “On April 5th, 1982, in Memphis, Tennessee,” David Letterman said, introducing the Late Night segment, “Andy Kaufman—the actor-comedian and Intergender Wrestling Champion—had his first wrestling match with a member of his own sex.” In true Kaufman form, the segment descended in chaos. Lawler eventually slapped him across the face, which unleashed a torrent of expletives and coffee thrown in the direction of the wrestler. . . . .It all came into focus long after his death, when his friend and collaborator Bob Zmuda finally confirmed that Lawler had conspired with them. “Jerry is quite the gentleman,” Zmuda wrote in his 1999 book Andy Kaufman Revealed!, “and a helluva good sport.”

    That bit of deliberately deceptive razzle dazzle can be compared and contrasted with the infamous Jim Morrison, hysterically over exaggerated “Miami Incident” gone wrong:


    In other words, it is all the fine art of the kayfabe and eyeball capture (It is the desperate cry from the performer that constantly says, “Look at me! Look at me!”, because without the fixated, attentive gaze from the audience, there is irrelevance and with irrelevance, the making of easy money as an entertainer stops.), as they are all actors, entertainers, and performers that are in constant need of selling themselves, because all the world is simply a stage and everyone else is simply the audience.

  32. RobertC

    JCPOA negotiations seemed to have entered Zeno’s Dochotomy Paradox

    Iranian perspective EU coordinator to visit Tehran to close gaps on JCPOA revival

    “Travelling to Tehran tomorrow to meet @Bagheri_Kani. Working on closing the remaining gaps in the #ViennaTalks on the #JCPOA. We must conclude this negotiation. Much is at stake,” he wrote.

    The European Union’s top diplomat Josep Borrell said the negotiating sides were very close to agreement on reviving the nuclear deal.

    Earlier this month, the Vienna talks, meant to resurrect the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), were paused for an undetermined period of time despite reports suggesting that they were in the “final stages.”

    [Jake Sullivan] said substantial progress has been made in resolving a number of issues necessary for the US to come back to the JCPOA “on a compliance-for-compliance basis.”

    Twelve months with no end in sight for something Biden promised, could have and should have accomplished 21 January 2021.

    Meanwhile Russia’s war on Ukraine destabilizing Middle East Complex political situations, including the JCPOA talks, have been made even more troublesome

    1. RobertC

      Latest AEI and FDD blaster against Biden risking new wars with Iran ‘diplomacy’ — and our Middle East allies know it

      “It’s time to end this forever war” — those were President Biden’s words as he issued the order for U.S. troops to withdraw from Afghanistan. America’s chaotic withdrawal certainly fulfilled a campaign promise, but it was foreign policy malpractice. The poorly executed exit, the rapid Taliban takeover, and Washington’s abandonment of its longtime allies to the fate of jihadist death squads was like blood in the water for cynical autocrats, revisionist powers, and rogue regimes.

  33. Foy

    Russian Central Bank has apparently said it will pay a fixed price of 5,000 roubles ($52) per gram between March 28 and June 30, the bank said on Friday. This is below the current market value of around $68.

    The central bank added that the resumption in buying will ensure supply and uninterrupted production of local gold. It had halted purchases two weeks ago.

    I wonder if this is a also prelude to an option that Russia is gives the EU countries to source the roubles required to pay for energy imports from 1st April if those countries are having problems finding roubles. Gold for roubles, because sanctions.

    It’s getting warmer in the monetary kitchen

    1. The Rev Kev

      Interesting. The Russians are saying that you can buy their gas with gold or Rubles. I am not sure that the former is an option as over the years I have read of so much gold going to the east. You wonder how much gold is actually left in the west and I have noted that every time a country is smashed up, that the first thing that happens is that planes land and evacuates that gold out of that country. And I mean each and every time – Iraq, the Ukraine, Libya for a start. And you won’t want to go into the subject of when the last time the gold at Fort Knox was actually inspected. Nor the amount of gold-coated tungsten bars floating out there. Not bad for a ‘barberous relic.’ I guess that we in the west will have to learn to be content with an NFT. :)

  34. LawnDart

    A “game-changing” antibiotic could save millions of lives worldwide from drug-resistant superbugs, a new study suggests.

    COVID is also thought to be speeding up the global threat of antimicrobial resistance, meaning the development of new antibiotics that can be used as a last resort when other drugs fail is crucial, scientists said.

  35. juno mas

    RE: Antidote

    I see a version of this dolphin frolic often in the summer looking out to Channel Islands NP.

    The local Chumash tribe tells a cultural myth called the “Rainbow Bridge” that involves the dolphin. Dolphins are considered the reincarnation of Chumash souls who, in crossing the rainbow bridge, fell into the Pacific Ocean. That is why dolphins are so friendly and playful.

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