Links 4/1/2022

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.


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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.

* * *

New Research Decodes the Sea Cow’s Hidden Language Scientific American

Global dealmaking falls to lowest level since start of pandemic FT


Temporary nature-based carbon removal can lower peak warming in a well-below 2 °C scenario Nature

A thread on “primary energy,” so-called (dk):


“This Shouldn’t Happen”: Inside the Virus-Hunting Nonprofit at the Center of the Lab-Leak Controversy Vanity Fair. Commentary:

One thing seems clear: Our grant-making machinery is utterly hosed.

* * *

Vermont to schools: Ignore CDC guidance on masking Valley News

Schools left ‘scrambling’ after Missouri treasurer tied bond deals to AG’s COVID demands Missouri Independent

* * *

Which Comorbidities Increase the Risk of a COVID-19 Breakthrough Infection? Epic Research. Handy chart, which I have highlighted:

COVID vaccines: head-to-head comparison reveals how they stack up Nature

Exclusive: The pushback against WHO’s imminent COVID-19 excess deaths estimate Devex

* * *

Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in domestic cats imposes a narrow bottleneck (PDF) PLOS Pathogens. From the Abstract: “. Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in cats involved a narrow bottleneck, with new infections founded by fewer than ten viruses. In RNA virus evolution, stochastic processes like narrow transmission bottlenecks and genetic drift typically act to constrain the overall pace of adaptive evolution. Our data suggest that here, positive selection in index cats followed by a narrow transmission bottleneck may have instead accelerated the fixation of S H655Y, a potentially beneficial SARS-CoV-2 variant. Overall, our study suggests species- and context-specific adaptations are likely to continue to emerge. This underscores the importance of continued genomic surveillance for new SARS-CoV-2 variants as well as heightened scrutiny for signatures of SARS-CoV-2 positive selection in humans and mammalian model systems.”


Shanghai Hospital Harbors Unreported Covid-19 Outbreak, Deaths WSJ

As Shanghai Locks Down, Netizens Are Equating Vegetables to Luxury Jing Daily

Solomon Islands says won’t allow Chinese military base and knows ‘ramification’ Channel News Asia

How Japan survived covid-19 British Medical Journal

Japan Won’t Exit Joint Oil Project With Russia, PM Kishida Says Bloomberg


Central Trade Unions begin two-day nationwide strike National Herald

COVID-19: India Is the Only Country To Approve Corbevax. But Where’s the Data? The Scroll. I so want Corbevax to be a feel-good story:


New Not-So-Cold War

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, March 31 Institute for the Study of War

Ukraine strikes fuel depot in Russia’s Belgorod: Regional governor Al Arabiya. Cheeky! Maybe somebody wants the peace talks to fail?

NATO ‘has been DEFEATED’ by Putin calling the alliance’s bluff and should be replaced with a smaller coalition of nations prepared to be more offensive, says Britain’s former army commander Daily Mail

The Ukraine War Is Over But the Biden Administration Hasn’t Noticed William Arkin, Newsweek

Winners and Losers in Putin’s War Richard Haass, Council on Foreign Relations

* * *

Is a peace treaty to end the Russia-Ukraine war in sight? Gilbert Doctorow

Mariupol’s fate is the key to a Ukraine deal Asia Times

Avoiding the Dangers of a Protracted Conflict in Ukraine Quincy Institute

Biden, Putin and the danger of Versailles Edward Luce, FT

* * *

Putin signs order on new ruble payment mechanism to come into force April 1 S&P Global. Commentary:

* * *

Ukrainian Journalist Finds Charred Remains Where Alleged War Crime Was Filmed The Intercept

Zelenskyy is Not a Jewish Hero Times of Israel

Ukraine says Russia is seeking to form ‘occupation administrations’ FT

Ukraine war: Russian forces leave Chernobyl after radiation exposure South China Morning Post

Nuclear War with Russia? ‘A Wall of Fire that Encompasses Everything Around Us at the Temperature of the Center of the Sun.’ Scheer Post (AC).


Did Sweden beat the pandemic by refusing to lock down? No, its record is disastrous Michael Hiltzik, LA Times

P&O Ferries has ‘got away with it’, say unions as Shapps backtracks on action Guardian

Supply Chain

Overflowing Inventories and the Supply Chain Crisis Dean Baker, Counterpunch (Re Silc).

Supply chain crises force corporate America into a ‘what if’ mindset Gillian Tett, FT

Long-term ocean freight rates up almost 100% year-on-year Hellenic Shipping Newsxxx

Global schedule reliability records largest improvement in the last two years Container News

Seafood biz braces for losses of jobs, fish due to sanctions AP

General Average declared on Ever Forward as second refloat attempt fails Seatrade Maritime News

Our Famously Free Press

The news flow:

Wartime Propaganda Classics:

Zeitgeist Watch

As Part of His NFT Debut, Jeff Koons Will Launch Sculptures Into Space and Place Them Permanently on the Moon Artnet. Can’t we launch Koons instead?

Black Injustice Tipping Point

White Anxiety, Redefined African-American Policy Forum. A bit more intellectually disciplined than Robin DiAngelo….

America’s Retirement Crisis Is a Financial Crisis Too Bloomberg. Maybe we could turn to Andy Cuomo for a final solution?

Class Warfare

Amazon union has strong lead in NY vote count; losing in Alabama Reuters

Seeking the killers with humility at work Axios. Maybe a little too on-the-nose?

Ban Secret Deals Boondoggle. NDAs for economic development deals. What could go wrong?

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. Questa Nota

    That Tora Bora cave home graphic launched, or sank, a thousand bore holes for bugout apocalypse sanctuaries crypts in Texas, New Zealand and elsewhere. And what’s worse, inflated costs, too. /s

    1. The Rev Kev

      When I saw that graphic, I thought that they had repurposed a diagram of Jet Jackson’s (aka Captain Midnight) lofty mountain retreat – but without the runway & the ‘Silver Dart.’

      1. ambrit

        Yes. It reminded me of one of those “How It Works” cutaway drawings from the old Boy’s Own and Girl’s Own weekly ‘comicbooks.’ [Granddad used to ship me three month’s worth of Eagle Lion, Hotspur, etc at a time, Third Rate, Sea Post.] I also wondered where the “secret” atomic lab was located inside Tora Bora.

            1. amechania

              Earliest parallel I know is on the maginot line from ww1 science magazines for kids. Many repetitions over the years.

      2. johnherbiehancock

        As a child of the 80’s, it always reminded me of the Cobra Lair in GI JOE cartoons.

        And the Bush Administration’s dumbed down rhetoric of “good guys versus bad guys” and the terrorists “hating us for our freedom” pretty much cemented the reference in my brain. After that I couldn’t really shake the nagging suspicion that our leaders and the American people going along with them were going to f___ everything up, badly.

        I guess that was the first “crack in the facade” for me.

        A lot of cracks since then! The “facade” is more crack than facade now.

        1. Swamp Yankee

          Fellow 80s child here. There was a great article by a former US officer, I believe the Marines, about how critical that 80s GI JOE cartoon was critical for him and so many he knew joining up. A jaundiced look back, I am pretty sure was in the American Conservative.

          “Real American Heroes — GI JOE!!!”

      1. ambrit

        And then the “Authorities” went and hired The Ambiguously Gay Duo to hunt bin Laden down.
        NSFW????: Not Safe Foe Woke.

          1. Swamp Yankee

            When Colbert can be kept off Trump and Putin, he can still be good.

            Those two subjects turn him dumb, however.

            1. ambrit

              And every “righthinking” American MSM consumer ‘knows’ that Trump and Putin are gay lovers! There is a connection! Colbert is “in the closet!!!” Poor man. Having to hide his ‘proclivities’ in this day and age. [I would blame the flinty hearted managers of The Cartoon Network, or wherever it is he broadcasts from.]
              “Oh, the Humanity!”

          1. ambrit

            Stepping back a few meteres, I notice that this story is very close to the legend of Barbarossa, sleeping under the mountain until his people need him to return to “save the day.” I am surprised that some Jihadi Popularizers haven’t taken up such a meme.

    2. digi_owl

      that graphic so reminds me of some illustrated encyclopedias my parents had. In particular a cutaway of a urban area showing the infrastructure.

      Or maybe one of them glass displays with living ants inside (i fail to recall the proper term for some reason).

      Also, seeing this being posted by Charlie Stross brings to mind that old chestnut about not meeting your heroes. Having perused the blogs of various scifi authors in recent years have soured me on their mental faculties.

      1. Dr. John Carpenter

        Every time I see it, it reminds me of a series of kids books I read as a youngster. Can’t remember the series, but they always impressed younger me. Of course those books were actually based in reality.

        Oh and ant farm is the work you’re looking for. :)

    3. Wukchumni

      First thing I thought of was it being the Marmot Cong’s hideout (the big sleep that started in September ends this month) in Mineral King, only I didn’t see any bitten into radiator hoses in the cutaway drawing.

      The Cong are all about procuring antifreeze and is it mere coincidence that it shares the same first 5 letters as Antifa, I think not.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Maybe a silly question but why can’t they make a sleeve that snaps over radiator hoses that has lots of sharp needles to persuade the Marmot Cong to go back to the Dirty Muddy Zone instead?

        1. Wukchumni

          Seems like a lot of work, and it would definitely bite into tarp sales, and the one you want is a 10 x 20 foot variety.

          Lay it down on the ground of the parking spot and drive on top of it, and then using parachute cord, secure the underside from the under menschionables. I can do it in under 5 minutes flat, but sometimes get lazy and go with plan B, opening the hood and propping it up for the duration of your hike, with the thinking being the Marmot Cong like it dark and will feast on the 10-20% of cars in the parking lot with no protection, like so many sitting ducks.

          Final score last summer 3 cars disabled by the Cong, and I was sitting on the deck of the Silver City Resort one day when a late model van showed up with a marmot in the engine compartment who had gotten on board in MK Valley.

          They spent about an hour trying to extract it, and you know how tight the engine compartments are these days, and nothing they could do would dislodge it, they even rode the van up on ramps and tried to hose it out with a water stream, but no dice.

          It passed on somewhere en route to San Diego, sadly.

          I was told it cost a few hundred bucks to dismantle the engine enough to access retrieval.

          1. Anthony G Stegman

            I’ve been to Mineral King numerous times, but I purposely avoid going there April through June because of the havoc Marmot Kong wreak on motor vehicles. I wonder if leaving out bowls of anti-freeze will satisfy the Kong. Or bowls of salt water.

    4. Swamp Yankee

      I remember this graphic from 2001! Encountered it reading Newsweek in my dorm common room in Williamstown, Massachusetts.

      That it was utter bull—- seems symbolic of the last two decades.

  2. wol

    As Part of His NFT Debut, Jeff Koons Will Launch Sculptures Into Space and Place Them Permanently on the Moon Artnet. Can’t we launch Koons instead?

    Lest we forget: ‘The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.’- Aristotle

    1. Martin Oline

      I hope he selects the one of Michael Jackson with his pet monkey. Can you imagine an alien race at some date in the future trying to figure out what kind of race lived on the ruined planet that the moon is circling?

    2. Geo

      Had a teacher in art school who told us, “There are two ways to succeed as an artist. One is to do one thing and do it bigger than anyone has ever done it. The other is to do one thing more than anyone else has ever done it.”

      This lead to a heated discussion about ideas and creativity, beauty and craft, and he stood firm saying, “all those things are nice but don’t matter to your career. Most people don’t understand or care about art. If you want to be successful you need people to talk about you. It’s all PR.”

      This has haunted me ever since.

      1. wol

        It’s now de rigueur for artists to hire publicists. Universities have promoted art as a fun career for children of money. So they produce artists who have a ‘practice’, like surgeons or attorneys. Critic Dave Hickey lamented the loss of the underclass of undesirables where art used to come from, at least those who didn’t matriculate in ivy league programs. I wonder if the current MFAs were already PMCs or are aspirants.

        1. Acacia

          Recalling Hickey on Taos vs. Las Vegas, he could have an interesting take on the PMC in general.

      2. Art Vandalay

        Hunter Biden’s recent prominence as an “artist” has led me to wonder how much of the art world – at least payment to living artists – is nothing more than an elegant money laundering and bribery mechanism. Seems a lot easier to run than small time money laundering operations like restaurants where you have to fake receipts for supplies, etc. The artist can show, say, $50 for paint and canvas, and $500K in sales as entirely “legit.”

        if you back out PR and criminality . . . what’s left?

        1. caucus99percenter

          Actually, one can be certain such money laundering and bribery is indeed occurring due to the idea of a “phishing equilibrium” in economics:

          If, in a system, there is an opportunity for extra gain through exploitation of a human psychological weakness or of a loophole in the rules, then that opportunity will be exploited up to the point where a counterbalancing amount of pushback neutralizes further extraordinary gain, yielding a state of equilibrium…

        2. wilroncanada

          Crass Struggle, the 2011 book by R T Naylor, outlined the corruption of just about everything from art to collectibles, to animal parts, minerals, and a lot more, as hedges of wealth by the already wealthy.

    3. Wukchumni

      I heard there’s talk of canceling Jeff’s last name, so he’s making a limited edition NFT of it, available for purchase.

  3. SocalJimObjects

    Another article fit for Class Warfare:

    “Student living close to campus seeks support in her personal life and with house management,” the listing begins innocently enough. The dream candidate must be “kind, compassionate and patient, with his or her own sense of authority.” You must also “anticipate and tackle issues without explicit direction.” (It should be noted that the $50 per hour pay rate is a $5 per hour increase from when the posting first went viral Wednesday.)

    You also must possess “previous experience assisting a high-net-worth individual” — so no one who primarily interacts with middle- or working class people should apply. And you need to be this person’s therapist, or at the very least “naturally provide emotional support.” You’re also on-call.

    1. LawnDart

      …so no one who primarily interacts with middle- or working class people should apply.

      This is so dead-on true. The elites go to great lengths to protect themselves from even the presence of the unwashed. Need to ride with some brothers from 81 to crash the Hamptons this June, just for giggles and kicks!

      1. JohnA

        Why would anyone who does not primarily act with the unwashed, need to apply for any kind of money paying job?

          1. Petter

            So true. Having worked – house – at country clubs in a prior life, I can testify to that.

    2. Old Jake

      They want a butler. They’ve been watching Downton Abbey. Or had “help” when a child and want to maintain the lifestyle.

  4. Wukchumni

    Gooooooooood Mooooooooorning Fiatnam!

    The order came from on high, draw down the strategic petroleum reserve currency for the next 6 months, de facto capitulation and fiatnamization of the economy, panem et circuits.

    The Unit had been decorated for action in WW2, but Bretton Woods was 4 generations ago when the USA was by far the largest oil producer, the largest manufacturer, the largest creditor, held the majority of above ground all that glitters, and was untouched by the war largely,

    1. TJHbuff

      Apparently the “Strategic” in the SPR now refers not to wars or disasters but to keeping Biden’s approval up.

      1. Samuel Conner

        Like with the CV public health response, the most important agenda is to protect ‘the economy’ (or, maybe, the top line number, GDP).

        At some point they’ll notice that when the workers are sick and dying younger, and hoarding cash against expected medical bills, that does have an effect on the top line.

  5. The Rev Kev

    “P&O Ferries has ‘got away with it’, say unions as Shapps backtracks on action”

    For the bean-counters that decided that this would be a good idea, they forgot one thing – that the ocean gets a vote too and it can play rough. With P&O ferries manned by these cheap, dodgy crews you have all the makings of another MTS Oceanos. Which ship was that? Har, me maties, pull up a seat and I will give you a tale. The MTS Oceanos was a French-built and Greek-crewed cruise liner that in 1991 ran into a storm off South Africa and started to take on water which caused an explosion cutting power to the ship. There was no alarm or announcement so some passengers went to the bridge to find out why and discovered it abandoned. The captain & crew had already left the ship. It was the ship’s British entertainers that called a Mayday and organized the successful evacuation of that ship saving all lives. In the middle of all this the Captain contacted them from shore to ask how things were going. So if you are on a P&O ferry in the channel and it gets into rough seas or an emergency, reflect that the crew will be even less-trained and less capable than that of the MTS Oceanos-

    1. JohnA

      TBF, on a clear day you can see Britain from France and vice-versa, in rough weather, the ferries get cancelled or anchor offshore and wait for the storm to pass. As it is P&O are not even anchoring offshore as the government is not going to kick up a storm and only a passenger boycott will have any effect.

      1. The Rev Kev

        I was on a ferry once from Dover to Calais and I think that the trip took about two hours and the sea was rough but at least it was not a storm. Back in 2013 one ferry took 16 hours to do the same trip due to a severe storm. The ocean plays rough.

      2. Kevin Walsh

        The Herald of Free Enterprise managed to capsize 4 minutes out of Zeebrugge harbour. The width of the Channel is plenty of space for a fatal accident.

        1. Count Zero

          With a name like that the ship was obviously doomed from the start. It was indeed the herald of free enterprise.

  6. anon y'mouse

    from the Axios thing on seeking out sharks:

    The big picture: Be quick to run from bad people who don’t change, but even quicker to lift up good people who stumble.

    the “to do list” (won’t call it article) also refers to “purging Bad People from your life”, a previous to-do list apparently.

    i want to know how one can reliably determine Bad People and Good People on sight, just from a limited view of their work behaviors and presentation. it would save me so much time.

    /s if it’s not apparent.

    my guess is that this is weeding out people who don’t conduct themselves in socially appropriate ways to the Axios standards, which likely means social and economic mores.

    translation: we need to find a legitimate form of discrimination and apply it, and then ostracize. since i doubt seriously that they are discussing truly bad people, who tend to rape, rob, expoit and abuse those around them in various ways. the more subtle forms of abuse can take years to understand and deflect, much less heal from while the more obvious are police and court matters which are usually obvious to employers beforehand.

    my hint to Axios-kind: look in the mirror, remove plank.

    1. hunkerdown

      It also softens up Axios’ readers (who, anyone correct me if I’m wrong, skew toward the Democratic “ascendant”) for better performance in the next swarming attack. No getting distracted by Black celebrity slap fights next time — stay in formation! Incidentally, all that makes me wonder about bee Twitter, and how much they know about what they do.

  7. Karrinina

    Update on story shared last week about Applebee’s mid-level manager:

    An executive for a Missouri-based restaurant franchise group was fired Monday following a recent email suggesting that employees’ financial desperation was working in the company’s favor.

    Best part is what some employees in Lawrence, Kan., led by their manager, did after news of the email broke:

    “I printed a couple dozen copies of the emails, distributed throughout the restaurant, putting them around places so servers could find them,” Holcomb told the Herald-Leader. “Then, I gave everyone in the restaurant their food for free and we just left; we didn’t even close the store.”

    1. Dr. John Carpenter

      So is this still Applebee’s policy and they’re just picking out a scapegoat for saying the quiet part via email or what? The article didn’t specify.

      Kudos to the Kansas staff though. That the manager was leading that parade is a very interesting detail.

      1. Art_DogCT

        Managers of chain outlets are often paid at rates only $1-$2 more than crews they supervise. One needs several promotions up the corporate ladder to reach an income north of the median. Advancement is open only to those who adapt to and adopt corporate’s policies, outlook, and attitudes – applied above all to those beneath them in the hierarchy. And a willingness to work unpaid hours. You have to show you’re really worth being made salaried.

        1. Wukchumni

          Signs on McDonalds here in the CVBB often offer these wages per hour:

          $15 counter staff
          $16 cooks
          $17 manager

        2. Dr. John Carpenter

          In my experience, make someone a “key” and all of a sudden they are identifying with the higher ups though they’re still just a peon but with more responsibilities. I’ve found it rare for managers at McJobs to have any solidarity with their crews because that’s not the way you advance. The system depends on this dynamic to work. If managers are starting to side with the workers, that’s going to be a bigger problem for the Applebees of the world than being forced to approach a living wage.

          1. hunkerdown

            Food service is the modern-day apprenticeship. As an institution it serves the same purpose of instilling work discipline. There is also a tacit class formation aspect as you describe. In at least one franchise I remember, managers are explicitly forbidden to fraternize with employees off the clock, said to mitigate losses from such as favoritism or shrink.

            It’s not clear whether Applebee’s, the interstate franchising group, or the unit has such a policy or monitors and enforces it, but this environment of national belligerence might offer customer service businesses an opportunity to reinforce organizational discipline with minimal public pushback.

        3. anon y'mouse

          what you report is exactly what a relative found out 30 years ago working for a pizza chain.

          she kept being offered management and said “why would i want to do that? then i’d have to work another 20 hours without making any more money, and be blamed for everything that goes on there”. she mentioned nothing about forcing the underlings to heed the lash, but then again she wouldn’t have found that odious—very much a “people are just big dogs and need similar training” kind.

          there’s a reason some of us stay below management. well, many reasons.

  8. The Rev Kev

    “NATO ‘has been DEFEATED’ by Putin calling the alliance’s bluff and should be replaced with a smaller coalition of nations prepared to be more offensive, says Britain’s former army commander”

    I am actually in full agreement with this. So how about getting countries like Poland and the Baltic states into an alliance to go after Russia instead of them constantly demanding troops, armour and air from countries from as far away from Spain instead? But I would ignore that General and listen to what his political masters are saying instead. And what they are saying is that they hope that the war in the Ukraine will go on until the Ukrainians can win a victory to be in a stronger negotiating position. ‘London believes there must not be an “easy off-ramp” for Moscow, and urges that the sanctions be intensified “until all Russian forces have left Ukraine, including Crimea.” ‘ If London refuses to give up Scotland, why would they think that Russia would give up Crimea?

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Is the former commander admitting NATO is a defensive alliance in name only and largely a preplaced logistic network for the US and it’s poodles to launch wars? I don’t see Russian troops in NATO countries.

  9. Keith in Modesto

    Re: “The Ukraine War Is Over But the Biden Administration Hasn’t Noticed” by William Arkin, Newsweek.

    Did anyone else read that? I read about half-way through and couldn’t stomach any more. It seemed like pure unapologetic propaganda to me. Did I miss anything redeeming?

    1. pjay

      I read it carefully, because it was by William Arkin, whose Newsweek article last week directly challenged the dominant mainstream narrative that Russia was on the ropes. My interpretation is that this represents the narrative that the “realists” in the Pentagon are going to use to try to get the neocon/neolib idiots in the White House, State Department, and Congress to allow a negotiated end. Namely, talk about how “exhausted” and “stalemated” the Russians are, how their plans to conquer Kiev and other cities were thwarted, blah blah blah, but state that this now provides an opportunity to end the war if only the administration would ease their rhetoric and take it.

      Arkin is well-connected to Pentagon and intelligence sources. They all know what’s going on. Last week’s article was widely discussed as an attempt by the “adults in the room” to insert a little realism into the media hysteria. I think this article provides the cover story for how to turn the Russian offensive into a glorious Ukrainian victory rather than the exposure of NATO that it actually is.

      1. Keith in Modesto

        Sorry for the late reply, I just got off work. I didn’t know anything about Arkin’s background — maybe I’ll give it another read with what you say in mind. Thanks!

  10. Wukchumni

    My mom despite living in SoCal for 60 years is really afraid of earthquakes, terrified by them.

    So one April Fools Day about 50 years ago. her progeny came up with a plan and 4 of us would simultaneously shake the bed posts as much as we could while she was sleeping. She told me a few years ago she was sure it was ‘the big one’, around an 8 or 9.

    …any good Aprils Fools Day jokes perpetuated by the commentariat?

    1. Laughingsong

      Why yes, wuk… Himself and I got married on this day back in 2011. Since we had already been together for donkey’s years we thought we should choose a date that we would easily remember.

      1. wilroncanada

        We served pancakes this morning to my two younger grandchildren, except we put hamburger/hot dog fixin’s on the table for them to “garnish” their pancakes with.
        But my all-time favourite is still the great “invasion of sans serif” years ago in one of the British newspapers.

  11. Solarjay

    Primary energy.
    Sure wish people got their data correct. Combined cycle gas turbines are about 64% efficient.

    As to solar at 100%. True if all the following are true: air mass-1, watts per meter sq-1000 perpendicular to the cells, cell temperature 25°C, about 75°f. Any one of those being different means less or more production. The biggest one people don’t know is that heat for all crystalline panels reduces wattage output. A 75°f day will have the black cells at 20-30° degrees hotter reducing volts, which reduces watts. In this case roughly 5-10%. Hotter weather = bigger reduction.
    Night time = 0% efficiency.

    As to the car part.
    Here is a view of the mileage of said mustang.
    338 mpT town, 464 mpT highway. (Miles per tank)Assuming 16 gallon tank vs that 300 mile ev range, which wildly varies with temperature, terrain, wind, speed and how you drive. I have a 2017 Nissan Leaf, purposely bought used, small battery, works great to get to town and to the bike parks. All that I said above I see when I drive it.

    And as to the ecological aspects of ev vs ice. Here is the best study I’ve seen.

    I can’t help but mention the new hummer ev with a 2900# battery. Weights More than many cars.
    And gets to the point made here and elsewhere that cars driven less and smaller lighter high mileage ice cars might be the most important environmentally way to go.

    1. Rod

      hey SJ
      re the above–agreed we need to make better, more informed, decisions.
      When i ran into this:
      I somehow thought of you(and grumpy engineer also–nothing implied : } )–not because of the choice to do bit coin, but because of the applied practicality and implications–say generation into compression into ICEs or something.
      I mean, they called it Fugitive or Stranded, and either let it go or flared it before.

  12. Tom Stone

    Where are the calls for Biden’s impeachment?
    These sanctions were decided upon by the White House without any consultation with any other part of the US Government including Congress.
    These sanctions are historically unprecedented, a violation of international law and an act of war.
    So…where’s “The Squad”?
    Where are all the “Law and Order” Republicans?
    Aren’t our Congress critters aware that if they become too obviously irrelevant that the bribes will dry up?

    1. Wukchumni

      Today is the final snow survey of the year, and it’s particularly bad in the far north which is typically the most bountiful versus the central & southern Sierra in accumulation, but not this winter. It’s at 30% of typical average while the other sections are around 40% of average.

      The bad part is the northern section usually fills the big dams @ Shasta & Oroville which are both about 1/3rd full.

      To give you an idea of how bad things have gotten in the Cali drought, Governor Newsom signed a bill today mandating recovery of H20 from expectant mothers when their water breaks

      1. ambrit

        I’ll say it so that you don’t have to. It’s the 2022 “When the Dam Bursts Act.”

  13. LawnDart

    Ukrainian R&R goes a bit wrong:

    In Odessa, the commander of the defense was caught… the underground brothel of the Odessa region of Arcadia, Colonel of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Andrey Kislovsky, a deputy of the Odessa City Council from the Trust in Affairs party, one of the leaders of the local territorial defense, was spotted…

    Yes, there is a video (found on Telegram, see Intelslava) from the vice raid, and when surprised cop shouts “F**k! Look at that hose!” he isn’t referring to the Col.’s…

  14. Wukchumni

    {slips on Reynolds Wrap toque and peers in the mirror, mirror on the wall…}

    The USA is going to swing heavily in the other direction from worshiping wealthy people & their trappings, to what exactly? he wonders…backing away from the mirror, slowly.

    When I was an aspiring juvenile delinquent, Evel Knievel replaced astronauts as all that was good, despite a much shorter orbit in space.

  15. Screwball

    Just saw a Tweet that Jen Psaki is leaving as press secretary in May to join MSNBC as a host. Not shocking at all.

    1. fresno dan

      I guess she can’t join CNN because she is not a lying former CIA employee…

      1. Screwball

        Ain’t that the truth.

        She is an experienced paid liar, which makes me wonder; what kind of person is willing to spend every single day making shit up and lying right into the camera and people’s faces? That is literally her job and she knows that going in.

        Money? Fame? Power? What exactly?

        She is now being rewarded by MSNBC for being such a good liar. Of course they are the mouth organ for the administration so maybe it’s really a lateral move.

        I will never watch a minute of that crap (or CNN, FOX, etc) and will be better off for it.

        1. Dr. John Carpenter

          I think you answered your own question. MSNBC seems like a pretty kush gig and the pay is nice. You can parlay that into being an author, public speaker, etc. and never have to work a day again in your life!

        2. hunkerdown

          Those kinds of people who read Plato’s Republic in HS and had all that sunshine about leadership blown up their adolescent derrieres by the academia-industrial complex. The DeVry billboard in the second row gets down to business immediately: “Degrees of Separation.”

          I wouldn’t say she’s being rewarded by MSNBC, so much as rotating herself to the rear where Matt Lee has no voice and she won’t be challenged on her deranged pronouncements.

        3. Mildred Montana

          >”Money? Fame? Power? What exactly?”

          Just my armchair psychological analysis here, but I really think it’s about power—that is, power over people, not necessarily political power. I think that pathological liars delight in duping people and that is their primary motivation, which is why their lying seems so senseless to the average person.*

          I presume the thinking of the pathological liar is as follows: See how smart I am, I can lie and you, an idiot, believe me. Therefore I am better than you, I am exercising my power over you.

          *We have a pathological liar in our family. He lies for no reason, and with a little investigation his lies can easily be uncovered. So why? The only point to it that I can see is that it is a perverse form of power over other people.

          1. juno mas

            Jen Psaki is just doing what she is paid to do: give Biden Administration perspective. However far that is from the truth. She will do the same at MSNBC.

            Information travels too fast these days to comprehend the facts and respond rapidly, so storytelling prevails.

        4. GramSci

          Wikipedia reports “Jennifer also has Polish ancestry”. In my experience, it’s not hard for people to align their family allegiance and unshakable belief system with high-paying opportunity. It’s easy for her to believe that whatever makes her money is God’s Truth.

  16. Safety First

    Two things to give some context to the whole “Russia lost the war” narrative (hashtag NewsweekIsGoodJournalism).

    One – DNR press office regularly (weekly, I think) publishes its own casualty reports, separately from the irregularly published ones for Russia’s MoD. Here is the one they put out today:

    March 25 to March 31:
    Military = 758 wounded, 186 killed
    Civilians = 360 wounded, 82 killed

    January 1 to March 31:
    Military = 3609 wounded, 780 killed [their total strength is estimated at ~35k, so we’re talking pretty heavy casualties on a percentage basis]
    Civilians = 843 wounded, 192 killed

    Mind, that’s just DNR, LNR I think reports their casualties separately. But whether you believe these figures or not is beside the point. It’s the fact that they continue to report significant civilian casualties, even now, and these are the stories that are “flooding the zone” in the Russian media space (which is what most Russians are kind of limited to). So imagine how a regular Ivan and Olga are going to react if they keep being told that “this week Ukrainian forces killed X civilians in the Donbass”, and that’s what the war is really about.

    With that, here is Putin’s monthly approval rating from Levada ( – it’s the first chart from the top). Note that Levada has been positioning itself as the “liberal” and “not-pro-government” polling firm (whereas VCIOM is the “pro-government” pollster).

    Jan 2022 = 69%
    Feb 2022 = 71%
    Mar 2022 = 83%

    VCIOM ( – Putin’s rating is the purple line at the top of the chart) gets more granular:

    Feb 20 = 67.2%
    Feb 27 = 73.0%
    Mar 6 = 77.4%
    Mar 13 = 79.6%
    Mar 20 = 80.6%
    Mar 27 = 81.0%

    Which kind of matches Levada’s figures. The point is that in the interim, you haven’t really had many military victories or defeats to talk about propaganda-wise (in Russia, I mean). Instead, a lot of their propaganda seems to come down to a) evil Westerners are trying to strangle us with sanctions (the ones against cats got a LOT of play, by the way), and b) evil Ukrainians are murdering innocent people in the Donbass (see the LDNR casualty reports above). And you know what? For now, it seems to be working.

    And what this also might mean is that the government kind of has painted itself into a corner – it cannot really cut a “losing” deal with Ukraine, it cannot stop the war (even if it wanted to) – it needs to come back and say, the sanctions were worth it, and the guys killing civilians are dead. I mean, of course it CAN do anything it wants to, but if you are trying to manage public opinion, which they usually are, you don’t have all that many options left now.

    This is why Newsweek’s framing may work on the American audience, but it’s completely tone-deaf in terms of how this war has been framed for the Russians, and how the Russian public has responded, per the polls above. Anecdotally, the biggest fear you see on Russian social media is that “the job will not be finished” – references to the Hasavurt Accords that ended the First Chechen War – which kind of tells you that people can live with casualties and military reverses, so long as there is a “Mission Accomplished” moment of some kind at the end of it. Which at this point might well include outright annexation of a large chunk of Ukrainian territory (LDNR plans to hold referenda on this subject shortly – ditto South Ossetia, by the way, so there is another potential flashpoint), to say nothing of whatever other concessions they will want to impose on Kiev.

    1. Soredemos

      I think those official LNR stats are accurate. Because the fact is that they continue to fight and advance. They are still a coherent army. The outlandish numbers given in western media don’t make sense in that context.

  17. fresno dan
    One of the questions that has been raised is whether Joffe and Sussmann knew the data they were supplying to the FBI was bogus from the start, i.e. maybe the goal was just to launch an investigation to harm Trump to offset the one into Hillary’s emails. That came up during today’s hearing as well.
    …the prosecutor alluded to what appears to be the operating theory of Durham’s investigation: that someone cooked the data to generate a meritless FBI investigation in a bid to do political damage to Trump.
    “That’s a much more complicated issue: whether the data was in whole or in part real, manipulated, or cherry-picked or any of the above,” DeFilippis replied.
    The prosecutor seemed to indicate that Durham’s team doesn’t plan to argue at trial that the data was fabricated or torqued, but wants the right to do so if Sussmann’s team tries to argue to the jury that he was simply passing on information that he had every reason to believe was accurate.
    Well, I think the data being manipulated is far more important than wheather Sussmann lied to the FBI about who he was working for. One could argue that Sussmann protecting the identity of a client was just normal campaign tactics. But making up evidence to give to the FBI means there was a conspiracy in place, and that such a conspiracy had an instigator.

  18. The Rev Kev

    “Ukrainian Journalist Finds Charred Remains Where Alleged War Crime Was Filmed”

    Nice switch by the Intercept by showing a Ukrainian war crime and then saying ‘Look, Russian war crimes.’ I have seen other stuff that Ukrainian troops have been up to. Like mocking wounded Russian soldiers, grabbing the mobiles off dead soldiers to call their mothers and wives to tell them that they are dead and then threaten them, using software to take images of dead Russian soldiers to try to identify them on social media and then to call their parents with the news, leaving strings of mines on highways that civilian cars use, cutting off the index fingers of POWs and recording them on film, calling the girlfriend of a captured pilot and threatening to castrate him. But hey, western values for the freedom-loving Ukrainians, amiright?

    1. hunkerdown

      > using software to take images of dead Russian soldiers to try to identify them on social media

      Two can play at that game. It makes yarn diagrams a lot more interesting, especially when not-Zs are spotted posing for selfies at 1/6 with Viking Guy.

    2. Mark Gisleson

      The Intercept made sure to include a tweet of an alleged Russian war crime involving a kindergarten which they followed up with the following objective analysis:

      “A list of just some of the many transgressions of the laws of war by Russian soldiers includes killing hundreds of civilians in the widespread indiscriminate shelling of apartment buildings, schools, hospitals, opera houses, and theaters; forcibly deporting tens of thousands of residents of the besieged city of Mariupol to Russia; using cluster munitions and banned anti-personnel mines; and opening fire on peaceful protesters. Russian soldiers have also been accused recently of having raped a 15-year-old girl and filmed the crime.”

      A long but grudging admission of probable wrongdoing followed by a specious list of imaginary crimes presented as factual news. Sounds like The Intercept to me!

      1. Jonathan Holland Becnel


        Beginning: RUSSIA WAR CRIMES

        Middle: Ukraine haz War Crimes???

        End: Ummm…a list of debunked Russian War Crimes

        Dam has the intercept really nosedived…

        1. The Rev Kev

          It was set up by a billionaire – Pierre Omidyar – and the first people like Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras left when they realized that it was just a walled garden. When they sold out Reality Winner, it was a sign on whose side they were on.

          1. Skip Intro

            So, Snowden material is disappeared by a gig called The Intercept. I feel like we shoulda seen that coming.

  19. Keith Newman

    @Keith in Modesto, 9:23 am
    Hi other Keith! There are several of us Keith’s here on NC.
    I too read that article as well as most of the others on the topic. They all include the obligatory “Putin’s unprovoked attack”, “the Russians are losing”, deliberate targeting of civilians, etc., despite all this being obviously untrue. I especially enjoy the one about Russia being unable to take the large cities, something they never said they wanted to do. Nonetheless there is more truth in these articles than in the press where I live (Eastern Canada: Globe and Mail, CTV news, Le Droit).
    I think it is important to look for messages in these articles that the US should come to an understanding with Russia to end the war. In the end that’s what matters.These are mainstream sources. If their story is the Russians were fought to a standstill by the brave and unbowed Ukrainians and now are looking for a way out so let’s just give them the consolation prize of a neutral demilitarised Ukraine, no NATO, the Donbass, Crimea, and big parts of southern Ukraine, well OK, if that ends the war. Naturally they won’t point out that these are what Russia actually stated they wanted at the beginning. It’s true the Russians did not achieve denazification of the entire country however the “Azov battalion” has been destroyed.
    On that score I found the Quincy Institute story very interesting. It’s rather long so I read it selectively. With respect to Nazis the authors give the obligatory statement that Putin exaggerates their importance for propaganda purposes but then proceed to describe how prevalent and entrenched the extremist elements actually are. I have followed this issue to a fair extent for several years and found more evidence cited in this article than I have seen anywhere else.

  20. Robin Kash

    I continue to read in publication after publication that the Russian invasion of Ukraine was “unprovoked,” viz. The Intercept’s report in today’s Links. I also read and hear of NATO’s continuing movement eastward toward the Russian frontier during the 30+ years since the collapse of the USSR.
    One needn’t approve or discount the horrific impact and yet-to-be-fully-realized consequences of Russia’s invasion to believe that such prolonged, continuing advances constitute provocations.
    I hope that those who embrace the notion that the Russian invasion was unprovoked will explain their view.

  21. playon

    I can confirm the supply chain cost increases – a friend of mine who is in the coffee business told me that his cost to get a shipping container from central America to the Seattle area went from $1000 to $3000 in the past year.

  22. Wukchumni

    I heard some Car Go Cults in the USA have built both mock gas stations and ‘mockfineries’ to lure go-juice back.

    Some are quite elaborate with one Exaco station offering faux S & H greenstamps with every fill-up.

    1. Wukchumni

      From this White House they say you are leaving
      We will miss your bright eyes and sweet smile
      For you take with you all the sunshine
      That has brightened our pathways a while

      Then come sit by my side when you get on tv
      Do not hasten to lie to me, there too
      Just remember the red ginger validated it
      And thus her words must be true

      For a long time, my darlin’, I’ve waited
      For the final words you never would say
      Now at last all my fond hopes have vanished
      For they say that you’re going after MSNBC pay

      Then come sit by my side when you get on tv
      Do not hasten to lie to me, there too
      Just remember the red ginger validated it
      And thus her words must be true

      Red River Valley, by Marty Robbins

      1. Maxwell Johnston

        Oh my, Red River Valley, we’re really digging deep into nostalgia land today! My favorite rendition is by Mitch Miller and the Gang. Though I never understood which Red River the song referred to: Dakota or Texas.

  23. marku52

    That VF article on the possible lab leak for Covid is an actual example of journalism. So rare these days.

  24. pjay

    – ‘Winners and Losers in Putin’s War’ – Richard Haass, Council on Foreign Relations

    For those who are pressed for time, here is a quick summation of the contents:

    War is Peace
    Freedom is Slavery
    Ignorance is Strength

    Literally every sentence of this article can be interpreted this way. Given the author and the institution, this is not surprising. But it still startles me to see it so blatantly represented. Here’s the opening paragraph:

    “It is one month into Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war against Ukraine. Actually, there are two wars: A Russian war waged mainly against Ukraine’s cities and civilian population, and a war fought by Ukraine’s armed forces against Russian troops. Russia is winning the former; Ukraine is winning the latter.”

    It’s downhill from there.

    1. dday

      In thinking about folks like Haass, perhaps Putin could have done things a bit differently. If he had said “we think that Ukraine has weapons of mass destruction”, surely most of the “free” world would have saluted him. I imagine that Russia has a Colin Powell type who could have gone to the UN with grainy photos of biolabs and strange looking equipment.

  25. Brick

    Ukraine strikes oil depot in Russia.

    Reported depot strike at Belgorod looks odd. The released footage shows what looks like two lots of 4 rockets and we see two fast moving helicopters. The first question that comes to mind is how they evaded anti aircraft measures. The next question is what type of helicopters and rockets or missiles were they.
    It is known Ukraine has MI-24P helicopters which were used in th Ivorian crisis in 2010. Ukraine also has upgraded MI-24V helicopters. Generally speaking the MI-24 Helicopters use guided 9M114 Kokon missiles which would not really be launched from low altitude. There are reports that the rocket remains found in Belgorod are S-8 80mm rocket remnants.
    What we do know is that the Russians have adapted Ka-52 Hokum-B and Mi-28 Havoc helicopters using what are believed to be unguided 80mm rockets. These are designed to get around the Ukraine air defence systems.
    It is reported that a few of the Russian Helicopters have been captured although with some damage. I guess Turkish made Ka-50-2 “Erdogan” Helicopters could be adapted to work the same way.
    Some are suggesting it is a false flag attack, but it looks more like outside parties might have assisted here. There may be another story here that we are missing.

    1. ambrit

      Hopefully, the Russians will stay “responsible” and not counter strike a NATO facility. I’ll bet that this is the intended outcome for the perpetuators of the Belgorod strike. If it becomes ‘obvious’ that “outside experts” were involved, I would deem that conclusive evidence that this was a ‘provocation action’ by the West in general.
      Secondarily though, since the combatants here are two adjoining countries, each striking into the other would be pretty much a given. War is war, and enemy supplies are fair game, wherever they are located. So, this could just be a Ukrainian ‘stunt’ to build up morale on the home front.
      Nothing is simple.

  26. RobertC

    Supply Chain


    There is a threat of drifting mines in the Northwest, West, and Southwest areas of the Black Sea. Drifting mines have been detected, and national authorities are working to find and neutralize any other mines in the region. Masters should take all precautions to mitigate the mine threat including avoiding floating objects, keep the forward area of the ship clear of crew, and using effective look-outs.

    1. Wukchumni

      Had lunch yesterday @ my favorite Mexican place in Woodlake, and the owner was doing some paperwork on one of the tables and I struck up a conversation asking how things were going, supply chain issues and all that?

      She told me she’d raised prices 10% with the new year and was holding the line, and then related something that seemed so odd to me…

      Her egg order from Sysco couldn’t be filled on 2 occasions in the past week, we’re talking none.

  27. Brick

    Germans regretting their slow down in renewables investment, but still impressive.

    Europe is not really interested in the sanctions and will pay whatever.

    Europe is not keen on blackmail though.

    While the wealthy worry about oil prices the poor are starving through grain shortages. Funny how charity and priorities get channelled.

    Price of oil can cause starvation as well.

    Heard about problems with Ford Germany manufacturing through components manufactured in Ukraine not available, waiting lists for new cars coming to you soon.

    Who could have guessed UK Politicians seen as being for sale.

    Lets not forget war can be pretty bad for ordinary people.

  28. Gumnut

    Sitrep Denmark: life back to 2019 norms, minus the 25% increase in petrol/diesel prices. But covid, gone from the hive mind. That said, cases & hospitalisations still at least 2x as likely in vaccinated vs. Unvaccinated population, i.e. 90%+ of both are in the vaccinated. So seeing that Nature article regarding how well the shot does…monty python spitting in your eye level of absurd.

    Same in the official UK data:

  29. RobertC


    Analyst Trita Parsi on the possible consequences of another Biden negotiation failure Without the Iran nuclear deal, war is on the horizon US and Iranian officials appear fixated on the costs of JCPOA re-entry, but they’ll pay a far higher price if they fail to get an agreement.

    The Iranians may very well be bluffing. These decisions may not have been taken. And even if they are, they can always be reversed. The inevitability of these scenarios cannot be assumed. What appears clear, however, is that neither Iran nor the United States can increase pressure on the other if the JCPOA collapses without risking dangerous escalation, including military conflict. The main reason there is no such escalation right now is precisely because of the hope that the JCPOA may still be revived.

  30. Maritimer

    Exclusive: The pushback against WHO’s imminent COVID-19 excess deaths estimate Devex
    On the ABOUT page for Devex:
    “Subscribers to Devex Pro, our premium news subscription, include:
    [Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation] [House of Commons] [Global Fund] [World Economic Forum] [World Food Programme] [United Nations] [World Vision] …
    We give members of Parliament, Congress, development agencies, philanthropists, researchers, multilateral banks, and NGOs the news they need to do their job.”

    Looks like more Industrial Non-Profit Penetrating of Governments.

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