Links 4/20/2022

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.


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.

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We need to find a couple of videos of Ukraine that seem to be only on Telegram. Neither Lambert nor I are willing to sign up because Telegram now wants too much personal information. If any readers with established Telegram accounts are willing to try to locate some particular videos and send us coordinates, please write me at yves-at-nakedcapitalism-dot-com with “Telegram” in the headline. Thanks!

* * *

Sheep shorn of 18kg fleece after three years on the lam Guardian (resilc)

Scientists Publish Breakthrough Study In Oreo Splitting Research Vice (David L)

‘It’s Super Spectacular.’ See How the Tonga Volcano Unleashed a Once-in-a-Century Shockwave. New York Times (BC)

Hologram doctors beamed to space station to visit astronauts Kevin W: “It is a shame that the first words spoken were not ‘Please state the nature of the medical emergency'”. See also:

Saline solution: Japan invents ‘electric’ chopsticks that make food seem more salty Guardian (resilc). This is so Japanese.

Franz Liszt: Superstar Sinner Saint by Nathan Beacom Plough (Anthony L)



Covid hasn’t given up all its secrets. Here are 6 mysteries experts hope to unravel STAT (NorD94)

The Pandemic Isn’t Over Us Yet No Matter How Much We Want To Believe It The Root (furzy)


Poland reneges on coronavirus vaccine contracts Politico (Li)


The Trump judge’s opinion striking down the airplane mask mandate is a legal disaster Vox

The CDC’s mask mandate for flights needed to go Washington Post. Of course the voice of the PMC would say that.

Delta sparks backlash for calling COVID-19 ‘ordinary seasonal virus’ Atlanta Journal-Constitution (KLG)

Poor People’s Pandemic Report: Mapping the Intersections of Poverty, Race and COVID-19 Poor People’s Campaign (resilc)


‘It’s probably worse than Wuhan’: Experts warn China’s COVID-19 lockdowns will once again cripple global supply chains Fortune (resilc)



The Surprising Climate Cost of the Humblest Battery Material Wired (Robert M)

Lithium costs a lot of money—so why aren’t we recycling lithium batteries? ars technica (Chuck L)

Microplastics found in lung tissue from live human beings for the first time PhysOrg (Robert M). From earlier this month, still germane.


Surrounded by NATO, Serbia buys more Chinese arms Asia Times (resilc)

US officials heading to Solomons over China pact worries Associated Press (RobertC). Usual US trying to close the barn door after the horse is now in the next county, per China Signs Solomon Islands Pact, Over U.S., Australia Opposition Wall Street Journal

La belle France

Macron allies warn victory not certain as poll lead over Le Pen grows Guardian

The French election is getting hairy! Macron tries to woo younger voters with a series of ‘behind-the-scenes’ photos (so which macho man is he trying to copy?) Daily Mail (Li)

Old Blighty

Ukrainian workers flee ‘modern slavery’ conditions on UK farms Guardian (resilc)

New Not-So-Cold War

Two Cheers for Realism Francis Lee, The Saker (Chuck L). Useful and timely discussion of the Treaty of Westphalia.

Russian Ambassador to US Says Biden Officials Don’t Want to Speak With Him Antiwar

EXCLUSIVE. Nassim Nicholas Taleb: “We must humiliate Putin so that he backs down” L’Express. Original here. Lambert: “Shockingly naive and dangerous.”

President Zelenskyy, one Israel is enough Al Jazeera (resilc)

America’s Intellectual No-Fly Zone Matt Taibbi

* * *

Russia gives fresh ultimatum to fighters in Mariupol BBC. The result of a sudden “tah dah” claim that there are civilians in the Azovstal factory. Russia said it doesn’t buy it but gave the holdouts one more chance because optics.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview with India today, Moscow, April 19, 2022 YouTube. Note that quite a few sites are declaring that Phase 2 of Russia’s campaign has begun based on a throwaway remark in Lavrov’s interview. I concur with Alexander Mercourius’ take, that Lavrov was merely reaffirming what other senior Russian officials had said in March, that Russia had completed Phase 1 and would be starting its second phase. Mercouris is of the view that Phase 2 had already begun but Russia is picking up the tempo.

Russia pushes back western sanctions, revs up operation in Eastern Ukraine Indian Punchline (Kevin W)

Per the below, I believe it was Bloomberg that recently reported that Ukraine is using up equipment and ammo shipments in a day that the US thought would last a week. Even though Russia is very good at blowing up supply depots and new deliveries, they aren’t that good. It’s a safe bet that a lot are being sold.

How Pentagon contractors are cashing in on Russia’s invasion Responsible Statecraft

Scott Ritter “the Javelin missile myth.” YouTube

* * *

Can Russia Pay its 2022 Dollar Bond Obligation in Rubles? (More dodgy Russian bond clauses?) Credit Slips. Bettridge Law violation!

A sanctions counter measure: gas payments to Russia in rubles Bruegel. Help me. We predicted very close to exactly what the mechanism would be when Putin made his initial statement, since he’d set enough boundary conditions that there was pretty much only one way it could be done. Even so, with taking weeks to get to this matter, this think tank adds nothing to our initial and more fleshed out take (once the mechanism was published) except for getting a key detail wrong! Gazprom does not go to the Russian Central Bank to get the roubles in exchange for the euros/dollars/sterling deposited by the gas buyer. It executes the FX transaction on the Moscow Stock Exchange. Now one can argue that ultimately the Moscow Central Bank is the supplier of roubles….but that will happen only if and when banks need more reserves and the central bank has to supply them to maintain its policy rate.

* * *

US congressman urges Biden to ban six UK lawyers for ‘enabling’ oligarchs The Guardian

The Armenian Genocide Holds a Bitter Lesson for Those Who Weep for Ukraine Intercept

Germany, scapegoat of the Ukraine war DW

Imperial Collapse Watch

Lessons learned and relearned TTG (resilc)



How Orwell Diagnosed Democrats’ Culture War Problem Decades Ago Politico

Americans want to legalize marijuana – their senators don’t The Hill (resilc)

After Years of Failure on Gun Control, Democrats Push More Police Funding Intercept

Who’s on the payroll of Peter Thiel’s dark-money “influencer” campaign? Carl Beijer (martha r)

Gov. DeSantis Clears Way to Revoke Disney’s Special District in Florida New York Times (Kevin W)

Powell’s looming power problem HCN (resilc)

CalPERS to vote to replace Buffett as Berkshire chairman Reuters (Kevin W)

A former Foxconn executive tries to explain what went wrong in Wisconsin The Verge (resilc)

FDA Probes Lucky Charms’ Possible Link to Illnesses Wall Street Journal

Corn futures hit decade-high above $8 per bushel on global supply Al Jazeera (Kevin W)

Treasury Bond Massacre, Mortgage Rates Hit 5.35%, Highest since 2009, and it’s Only April Wolf Richter

Something Happened By Us: A Demonology New Atlantis. Resilc cites:

In 1841, the Scottish journalist Charles Mackay published a book that would eventually assume the title Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds. “We find that whole communities suddenly fix their minds upon one object, and go mad in its pursuit; that millions of people become simultaneously impressed with one delusion, and run after it, till their attention is caught by some new folly more captivating than the first.”

Class Warfare

“We’re Living in an Era of Extraordinary Corporate Power” Washington Monthly (resilc)

Flight Attendants Union Punts on Mask Mandate – Apple Retail Workers Union Launched – Verizon Raises Retail Wages to $20-an-Hour Mike Elk. Problem for flight attendants is they have to trade off risk of getting Covid v. being assaulted.

Democratic Elites Don’t Understand the Class Culture Gap New Republic. Resilc: “A kid down the street here in Vermont is an electrician in SE Mass, he flies into Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard to work……”

Redlined Neighborhoods in Cities Across the US Saw More Oil Drilling, Study Finds DeSmogBlog

Antidote du jour. Chet G:

A snapping turtle who has come out of hibernation, along with a painted turtle. Painted turtles have been around the past few week or so. Given all the problem with human-to-human relationships, it always amazes me how different animal species can coexist without any hassle.

And a bonus (Chuck L):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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    1. David

      Taibbi makes some good points, but what struck me about the article was how Chomsky himself is just as deluded about American power as those he is criticising.

      “The other option is to make it explicit and clear to Putin and the small circle of men around him that you have no escape, you’re going to go to a war crimes trial no matter what you do.”

      What kind of world is Chomsky living in? Americans have to realise that they are on the sidelines here, and that they have little or no ability to influence the outcome of the war, or what happens afterwards.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Fully agree. I think that Chomsky has passed his use-by date here and he even let himself be used by Biden in 2020. How does he imagine that Putin and the Russian leadership end up at the Hague? The only way that that would happen would be for Russia to collapse as it is illegal under the Russian Constitution to deport or extradite citizens. I think that at this stage that Russia will win this one and people like Chomsky will be unable to cope and will have a meltdown.

        1. Michael Ismoe

          “…people like Chomsky will be unable to cope and will have a meltdown.”

          No. They just go on and become wrong on the next topic. There is no penalty for being wrong. Everyone is Kim Kardashian these days. They are famous for being famous. And being famous, they get to expound on things they know nothing about for hours on end.

          1. lance ringquist

            the problem in america is that the elites never have to pay a price for their follies.

            its why we must name names to their disastrous policies.

        2. Otis B Driftwood

          Agree with Ismoe. Chomsky is not infallible. However, he is chillingly accurate in his closing statement in this interview about the folly of persuing military conflict while humanity desperately needs to cooperate on climate change. And he rightly holds the United States responsible for this.

        3. woozel

          Chomsky is referencing the US “war criminal” rhetoric to make the point that the US is effectively telling Russia to go for broke since the US is going to destroy Putin and Russia no matter what Russia does at this point. I see nothing to suggest he’s endorsing a war trial as realistic.

          1. Steve B

            Productive to read Chomsky on the US as a ‘rogue state’ against Saker blog post on the demise of the Westphalian multi-polar world system and rise of the US-backed one-world system from the League of Nations onwards. Chomsky seems to think that a United Nations (UN) institution like the World Court has moral legitimacy capable of holding accountable a ‘rogue state’ – whether Russia or US. While Saker blog post author Francis Lee suggests that US realised that with collapse of Soviet Union in 1991 it no longer needed UN cover and went it alone.

            So question arises: is the UN part of the unfinished project of the Enlightenment (as Chomsky would like to believe) or the result of an American one-world fantasy which is now obsolete (and being replaced by a ‘successor ideology’)? If the latter, then chance for Westphalian order to re-emerge from the crucible of Ukraine. Let’s just hope it doesn’t take another Thirty Years’ War.

        4. Cat Burglar

          There is a possibility of a non-ICC war crimes tribunal being cobbled together on a “coalition of the willing” basis. The process could then be politically managed to avoid the “wrong” issues and people, and the appropriate verdict reached. The Nuremberg trials did not address the allied bombing of Dresden, for example. The Tokyo trials were even denounced by some of the jurists themselves for their partiality to western colonial interests, as is well covered in John Dower’s Embracing Defeat: Japan In The Wake Of World War 2. The US convinced Tojo to take the fall for the emperor so the US could employ the sovereign as a political tool to control the population. Complicit officials were listed as criminals, then their prosecutions were dropped (and many ended up as leaders in the LDP). General LeMay, who led the firebombing campaign on Japanese cities, understood — and said so — that the only reason he was not in the dock was because he was a victor. Even if Putin and Co. are tried in absentia, trials could be useful. Obviously, justice would not be a concern.

          1. David

            You could do this, I suppose, but it’s doubtful whether anyone outside the West would take it seriously. The only real options for a tribunal are under UN auspices (obviously not), a voluntary treaty-based organisation like the ICC, which only has jurisdiction, in principle, over its own members, or a regional organisation, as in Africa, and which is again voluntary.

            The example you cite illustrates the problem: at Nuremberg the Allies had total control, access to the evidence, and the defendants in custody. When Ukraine is finished, the West will have none of these, and Russia will have the ball. Even in the “trials” of western leaders in Belgrade in 199ç/2000, the Serbs had the evidence and the witnesses. Where would you even start?

          2. The Rev Kev

            As David says, nobody would take such a court seriously in the rest of the world. The ICC is sticking their beak into the Ukraine and I think that they even declared the whole of Ukraine as a crime scene but really, the bulk of people that are tried by the ICC are black Africans and Serbs. It has become a bludgeon to keep the third world in line and wouldn’t you know it, another guy is fronting up to the ICC now who happens to be – a black African. The west has no moral standing whatsoever, especially after Iraq and no dodgy, make-believe court will change this.

            1. Cat Burglar

              You and David are right that the legitimacy of such a tribunal would be problematic outside the west. But if such a tribunal was seen as useful in consolidating western opinion behind a continuing political campaign or military effort, the calculation might be to do it. And do they even care what people outside the west think?

              What made me think of it was the paucity of calls for independent investigation of the Bucha incident. Where were the impartial forensic investigators? I wondered if a doctored version of events was in the making, and that the killers would never be discovered.

          1. Oh

            Reminds me of someone who kept calling Biden “My friend ” and never criticized him or his policies during the election campaign. Hint: his name starts with an S and ends with an s.

      2. liam

        I couldn’t agree with you more David. The problem is that many are invested in the notion of US supremacy, whether they realize it or not, and even if they’re for it or not. The idea that the US does not reign supreme does not seem to compute. There was an interview posted in the comments here a couple of days ago. It was with an adviser to Zelensky from 2019; apparently the guy who was responsible for dealing with the Donbass negotiations. His reasoning was entirely premised on the notion of western strength, against which Russia would not be able to stand. It was the most illuminating video I’ve seen of the whole situation. Too many people/countries are invested in the notion of US, and by extension western, supremacy. A link to the video accompanies the comment here:

        the video itself:

        1. chris

          I do not consume information from mainstream outlets. I don’t go on Twitter. I avoid conversations about political topics on Facebook. Instagram is for sharing for photos. And I can’t bear to listen to Nice Polite Republican radio, or things like Slate anymore. The Atlantic “disinformation” conference just about killed any interest i had in that outlet too. The New Republic has become a parody of itself with writers who can “see gender in a ham sandwich” to quote from one of the articles in today’s dose of links.

          So perhaps I am suffering from ignorance due to a problem I have created for myself, but has anyone in our leadership ever clearly explained why we care about Ukraine? Why do my friends and neighbors think that “we must do something!”? How did it happen that everyone thinks Russia is too rational to use nuclear weapons even though it’s run by a “fascist madman who has horrible autocratic desires”? And why is everyone so eager to jump into war with Russia, for NATO, in a conflict that will immiserate our allies in European, destroy food production globally, and upset energy markets for years to come? Why wasn’t Senator Romney laughed off the stage when he recently opined that the USA had any say over the completion and use of the NORDSTREAM2 pipeline? Why are journalists cheering on the death or political targeting of other journalists like Gonzalo Lira and Julian Assange? And if we want to double down on fossil fuels why are we dithering around with the KSA and letting them humiliate us instead of using the real hard leverage we have against them?

          I feel like there was some kind of meeting held where everyone but me got together and decided all of this. Maybe they will produce a transcript so I can understand what I’m supposed to say when I’m out in polite society these days. Otherwise I’m keeping my mouth shut about all of this. Explaining what I understand of how things are made and how the world works to people who think Amazon 1-Day delivery can solve all their problems is exhausting. And asking what I think are basic questions about why the US should be involved at all produces eye-rolls but no answers.

          It’s one thing to state as the people at NC do that this is the weirdest informational environment ever but when did We The People take for granted everything we’re being told even though the people in charge haven’t given us any reason to trust them in decades?

          1. JTMcPhee

            Excellent take. What a mess.

            Stupid effing humans. Organized and herded here in the US into a death cult.

            1. Colonel Smithers

              Thank you, JT.

              I live in Buckinghamshire, which was Parliamentarian and Puritan in the civil wars (1642 – 9). After the death of Cromwell in 1658, the Puritan gentry switched sides and restored the monarchy.

              It has been suggested that either side of the wars, the Puritans were, ahem, encouraged to go west. Many people here were and are thankful that they did.

              Some local royalists fled to Virginia in the mid 1650s, avoiding Massachusetts, later home to some regicides. One branch of the Washingtons, business partners in the wool trade and cousins of Princess Diana’s family, did so, but their cousins remain around here.

              1. Old Sarum

                ‘ahem’ amen:

                I have just come to learn of the ‘Fifth Monarchy Men’, Thomas Venner, his rebellion, and the reactionary ‘Clarendon Code’ which seems to have encouraged ‘fanaticks’ to head to the thirteen colonies. …All thanks to my local library and the March 2021 issue of ‘History Today’.


                1. Colonel Smithers

                  Thank you.

                  In the 1990s, a cricket fan and comedian, Mark something, did a Radio 4 programme about that and implied relief that the Puritans were forced overseas.

                  I love History Today and will have a look.

                  Sulgrave Manor, near Banbury, is the ancestral home of the Washingtons and near estates formerly and still owned by the Spencers and Smiths (aka Abel Smith, Carrington, Blunt (as in Anthony) and Mosley (as in Oswald) and the late Queen Mother). It’s a small world.

                  1. Old Sarum

                    In a similar vein, check BBC R4 ‘In Our Time podcast’:
                    ‘The Rapture’ and get your head around: Premillennial_dispensationalism (it’s a cracker!)

                    Nowadays you probably need the BBC Sounds app unfortunately.

          2. Screwball

            Well said! My only exception would be adding “some of” we the people take for granted. Not everyone buys into the incessant propaganda we are fed. Unfortunately, many, on both sides, actually do believe what these people in charge have to say.

            That needs to change, if we ever want any real change. How to change that is the tough question. I have no answer.

          3. hunkerdown

            The distinguishing lines between the Ukraine infowar and the Democratic Party’s 2022 midterm campaign do not exist. Treat them both as you would any other political party that recently assumed a kinetic capability.

          4. anon in so cal

            Ukraine is crucial to the US’ goal of destabilizing, dominating, and asset-stripping Russia, as a step in the US’ quest for full spectrum dominance. First, Russia; then, China.

            John Helmer explained:

            “The US has been installing American-directed military bases in the Ukraine for stockpiling advanced weapons to strike Russia by land, sea, and air.

            In these plans for attack deep across the Russian frontier, Ukraine was already a platform with the potential for nuclear battlefield operations without formal admission to the North Atlantic Treaty Alliance (NATO); without acceptance by the NATO member states; without comprehension or vote of approval by the Ukrainians themselves. “


            The plan was also articulated by the Rand Corp:

            “Over-extending and Unbalancing Russia”

            Provide lethal aid to Ukraine
            Increase support to the Syrian rebels
            Promote liberalization in Belarus
            Expand ties in the South Caucasus
            Reduce Russian influence in Central Asia
            Flipping Transnistria
            Diminish faith in the Russian electoral system
            Create the perception that the regime is not pursuing the public interest
            Encourage domestic protests and other nonviolent resistance
            Undermine Russia’s image abroad
            Increase U.S. forces in Europe
            Increase European NATO member ground capabilities
            Deploy large number of NATO forces on the Russian border
            Option 2: Increasing NATO exercises in Europe
            Increase the size of U.S participation
            Generate a mass mobilization of European NATO member forces
            Hold exercises on Russia’s borders
            Hold exercises practicing counterattack or offensive scenarios…


          5. alisonm

            Snap. This is exactly where I am at. Self imposed isolation from mainstream outlets, so feeling like an outsider in all these weird kind of ways from my own ‘culture’, if one can call it that. (I live in aotearoa/new zealand, a U.S. lackey/puppet etc.) And, as with you, when I do (less and less often) venture out into society, the only thing to do is keep schtum. It helped to read your comment. To know there are others out there in this strange alienated state. (Taken to reading long novels.)

        2. Brian (another one they call)

          Perhaps our “use by” date has long since past. Can anyone imagine the cost of printing money to finance the pressure necessary to make every EU nation do things that will destroy themselves by the end of the year? Nothing at all. We can print until the money is worthless and that is clearly the intention. As long as they go bankrupt before we do, everything will be fine. Deutschland is balking and looks like they will start saying no to the destruction of their economy. Yet they are sending weapons to Nazi’s? Sublime isn’t it?
          Can anyone justify their support for a nation run by Nazi’s for the benefit of profit for foreigners? The people that have freed themselves from the army are telling a tale about atrocities committed by their own army. The cities cleared by the Russians are returning to normal, without the terror of their former leaders. The US hates this kind of normalcy.
          Please tell me why one would believe the stories being fed to Western news outlets coming from Ukraine? Is it hopey changey? Is there any evidence that can be verified? Who would believe the propaganda created by Disney on the Potomac that President Z is spouting?
          How can rational people ignore 8 years of artillery strikes and regular atrocities on the citizens of the Donbass by the Ukrainian government? And you believe they wouldn’t harm their own people? No one even talks about the reasons for this clean up on isle Z.
          Delusion is everything.

          1. DanB

            “Can anyone justify their support for a nation run by Nazi’s for the benefit of profit for foreigners?” Yes, the 1% sees this as opportunity.

      3. PlutoniumKun

        Perhaps I read it wrong – but my interpretation when I read that is that he was setting that up as a ‘what if’ scenario to illustrate his wider argument.

        1. GramSci

          Exactly. Chomsky immediately explained that the US is the world’s biggest war criminal, and that is why the “war crimes” option is off the table.

          1. Stick'em

            Shhh! Don’t mess with the “Chomsky smells like milk past the expiration date” narrative being pushed here by the peanut gallery. Anyone who’s actually read anything by Chomsky knows he’s spent the last 90 years telling anyone who’ll listen ‘Merica is run by war crimals who’ll never be brought to trial. It’s like claiming not to know Mick Jagger sings about sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll.

            1. Stick'em

              “If the Nuremberg laws were applied, then every post-war American president would have been hanged. By violation of the Nuremberg laws I mean the same kind of crimes for which people were hanged in Nuremberg.”


              His website is chocked full of this stuff. Biden and Putin aren’t going to be hanged; they’ll be celebrated for their “contributions to mankind.” Give ’em an Nobel prize just like Obama! Bush is so cute; lookit the doggy painting!

          2. Stick'em

            Biden just announced Putin is a war criminal, we have to take him to war crimes trials.


            Well, I do lots of interviews and talks all over the world, virtually, a lot in the Global South. You can read it in the newspapers. When asked, “What do you think about Biden’s statement?” they have an answer. Their answer is, “It takes one to know one.”


      4. woozel

        Hmm I’ve read the Current Affairs and Intercept interviews and it’s clear Chomsky’s actual point isn’t that he thinks Putin is going to be put on trial or any such thing. His point is that the US, through it’s rhetoric, is effectively telling Russia to go ahead and destroy Ukraine since there are no advantages being offered to Russia if it were to back down.

        This quote from the Intercept is clear:
        “Just imagine how they reach Putin and his circle, what they’re saying, what they interpret as meaning is: Nothing you can do. Go ahead and destroy Ukraine as much as you like. There’s nothing you can do, because you’re going to be out. We’re going to ensure that you have no future. So therefore, you might as well go for broke.”

      5. Philip Ebersole

        I don’t know what you’re talking about. That quote is nowhere in the transcript of the interview.

        Chomsky does mention in passing that the invasion of Ukraine was a violation of international law, and then goes on to point out U.S. hypocrisy in raising this issue in the light of the many U.S. war crimes and its refusal to recognize the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court. He nowhere in the interview suggests that bringing Russia to The Hague is a realistic possibility.

        He says the only possible outcomes of the conflict are the total destruction of Ukraine or some sort of a compromise peace.

      6. Philip Ebersole

        The quote you’re referring to is not from the Intercept interview, but from an interview Chomsky gave to Current Affairs. Here is the full quote:

        In this world, there are two options with regard to Ukraine. As we know, one option is a negotiated settlement, which will offer Putin an escape, an ugly settlement. Is it within reach? We don’t know; you can only find out by trying and we’re refusing to try. But that’s one option. The other option is to make it explicit and clear to Putin and the small circle of men around him that you have no escape, you’re going to go to a war crimes trial no matter what you do. Boris Johnson just reiterated this: sanctions will go on no matter what you do. What does that mean? It means go ahead and obliterate Ukraine and go on to lay the basis for a terminal war.

        I don’t take this as Chomsky thinking that bringing Russia to its knees and having a show trial of Putin is a realistic option.

        1. David

          Well, I do, although I should perhaps have made it clearer which document I was referring to. But I can’t see any other way of interpreting his remarks in the extract that you cite. He says there are “two options.” One is a negotiated settlement which will allow Putin to “escape” (from what? Presumably from retribution.) The other is retribution itself, making it “clear to Putin” that “there is no escape” and that he will be put on trial. The second, he says, would destroy Ukraine.

          This starts as standard western élite speak, taking for granted that Putin is a criminal who deserves punishment, but here, he might perhaps be allowed to “escape” this time, because, through gritted teeth, we recognise that such a course might destroy the country. All that’s different here from the language of someone like Johnson is that Chomsky is saying, daringly, yes, Putin is a monster who deserves to be put on trial, but let’s not actually do it because the consequences are too terrible. If that’s not what he meant, he shouldn’t have said it.

          More generally, I think this is simply an example (perhaps inadvertently on Chomsky’s part) of the American delusion that they have any degree of control at all over how the crisis finishes. Both “Left” and “Right”, it seems to me, grossly overestimate the actual influence the US now has.

          1. Laputan

            I don’t know how to you can read this in any other way than Chomsky saying we have two options, one is reasonable and the other one isn’t. Expressing an idea isn’t the same as endorsing it, and it’s clear which of the two he supports.

            1. David

              Indeed, that’s not the problem. My worry is that he thinks the unreasonable option is even theoretically possible, because it isn’t, and because if he does think it is, he’s deluded about western (and especially) American ability to influence the outcome of the war. It’s not a question of what he prefers, but what he (mistakenly) believes is possible.

              1. Paul Boisvert

                Hi, David,

                You may not be used to reading Chomsky’s highly telegraphic style. He often shifts (sometimes, frustratingly quickly) from discussing actuality to analyzing the logical implications (if/then) of US “official” rhetoric. He trusts listeners to follow that jump, which is a bit too trusting, I personally think.

                Here, he’s saying that IF the US took its own war-crimes rhetoric seriously, which includes the implication by the US (not Chomsky) that it could somehow actually bring Putin to a trial, then that rhetoric would (within its own framework) give Putin no reason to avoid far worse destuction of Ukraine. Yet the US claims in its rhetoric to want the opposite.

                He’s analyzing the hypocrisy and bad faith of the US rhetoric, even on its own terms, not the reality (which, as Noam points out constantly, is totally disconnected from the rhetoric.)

                Chomsky’s sudden shift in the source cited by Taibbi (not the source mistaken for that one by Sardonia) is awkward (he’s old, and he was on a live broadcast), but rest assured, Noam does NOT remotely believe there is the slightest chance Putin would ever actually go before a war crimes tribunal, any more than W. or Biden will… :)

                1. flora

                  Very good explanation of Chomsky’ style and his expectation that listeners will understand his quick references used to make his points. Thanks.

                2. bun

                  agreed. Reading Chomsky is like reading Milton’s Paradise Lost, absolutely chock full of references and allusions to his and other’s past work, which, if you are not familiar with them, can easily makes things confusing fast. it’s like you need to have read his entire canon before approaching anything new – he uses these allusions as short hand.

                  fortunately I’ve been reading his work for decades now, and so I catch more than I miss. Still it’s heavy lifting going though one of his essays.

                  as an aside, I had the great honour of interviewing him in his MIT office in early 1996. He completely eviscerated me on a topic that I _thought_ he would be in total agreement with. Did it with a straight face, didn’t raises his voice, just calmly sliced me to pieces, and then just as calmly went on to discuss my other topic. I’ve seen him to that to many many people, young and old, famous and unknown, and it really stung when it happened to me.

              2. BlakeFelix

                I mean, I don’t think that it’s a credible possibility we try Putin in the Hague in any near future, but I do think that there is a real possibility that we yammer on about it while sending arms to Ukraine for Russia to bomb…

          2. KD

            If the US/NATO get directly into a shooting war with Russia in Ukraine, it can only end in a nuclear exchange when the side losing conventionally starts lobbing nukes to save their bacon, and the “limited tactical nuclear strike” causes the opposing side to escalate. Lots of war gaming of a US/USSR land war in Europe, they all end in nuclear exchange.

            If that is what a “terminal war” means, then I don’t see it as advocacy for “terminal war”. Also, the US does have influence, they have the power to blow up the world, although it is unclear what the threat of blowing up the world buys you when our adversary has the same trick.

            Anyone arguing for direct involvement is either a moron or a political agent involved in posturing, or both. I am sure the DOD knows what a land war with Russia means, and have briefed all the relevant decision-makers. Chomsky has TDS pretty fierce, but he is not a moron, and he is sincere, so I can’t believe he believes a contest over a pretty useless chunk of land in Eastern Europe is worth suiciding the human race.

            1. KD

              Remember the Russian perspective: they can’t allow Ukraine in NATO.


              Because if they attack a NATO country, it triggers an Article V option to defend, and then a potential nuclear standoff. By invading now, and trying to force Ukraine in the “right” direction (from their perspective), they substantially lower the risk of the conflict ending in nuclear escalation, which it most assuredly would if Ukraine was in NATO.

              Nuclear deterrence is real, and should drive any strategic considerations in the first instance.

              1. Yves Smith Post author

                You are incorrect about Article 5. Scott Ritter has explained this at length, repeatedly in his many talks.

                Article 5 only requires NATO members consider Doing Something, and even then, it’s a county by country decision.

            2. Anthony G Stegman

              The way I see it is the powers that be in the West (and especially in the US) are supremely confident that were Russia to launch nuclear missiles the missiles would be intercepted with little harm to the intended targets. If this is not an accurate reading of the situation why would the West take the risk of pushing Russia towards nuclear war? Is Boris Johnson okay with losing London along with Moscow? Is Macron okay with losing Paris? Is Biden okay with losing New York or DC? Do these “leaders” think Russia would surrender unconditionally without using its nuclear arsenal? Is that their expectation? Maybe these nut jobs ought to convene in Las Vegas and gamble with chips, not with hundreds of millions of lives.

              1. David

                I’m sure western leaders don’t think that, because the weapons that would carry out the task don’t exist, and, even if the technology could be made to work, would have to be deployed on a massive scale, and work flawlessly.
                Western leaders are stupid, and also caught in a trap of their own devising.

              2. KD

                Look, Hiroshima got 15 kilotons–that is the explosive force of 15,000 tons of TNT. Rumor has it Russia has stuff upwards of 88 megaton nukes–the explosive force of 88,000,000 tons of TNT–that is almost 6000 times bigger blast, with the center being a 3000 degree Celsius ball of death. They don’t have as many nukes as in the 80’s, but they have enough to blast most of America back to the stone age (and vaporize most people in urban areas), and blot out the sun for a couple years.

                The Western politicians are f#$@ing insane, and if we had media workers who saw their job as educating the public instead of carrying water for the forces of darkness, the public would be outraged at the reckless stupidity.

      7. enoughisenough

        I think people need to realize that Chomsky is not stupid, and floating the idea of war crimes punishment is to throw the blood thirsty a bone.

        It’s all in aid to ending escalation and helping get Russia to back out now. Whether Chomsky truly believes a tribunal is possible is really not the point, and you should give him credit for knowing that’s unlikely. It’s a diplomatic rhetorical point.

        Also, calling Zelensky a “good person” or whatever is to make it clear he is not anti-Zelensky. He sort of *has* to say that.

        Those things are besides the wider points, and it’s nit-picking to try to invalidate what he’s saying based on those statements, which I believe he made purely as diplomatic points to allow the rest of his discourse to be heard.

        I was annoyed by his statements in the election, but it was clear to me he was doing his best to steer people away from Trump. I always get annoyed when intellectuals excuse bad actions by Dems. But any one person is never going to say things I personally sign onto 100% of the time. That doesn’t invalidate everything else they say that is good.

          1. chris

            Or they’ve sought alternative platforms? I remember some people in more mainstream sources saying that once consequence of the January 6 “coup” was that people with that mindset were seeking to return to in person meetings and other forms of social interaction and communication that could not be so easily hacked. Maybe like the ‘zine and comix culture before, the alternate voices who will become the satirical guide posts for my kids’ generation are distributing their work using a means I don’t appreciate? Mix tapes on a corner. Hacked QR codes that take you to site where their manifesto is printed. Meetings in a park. Collective action projects like the private homeless shelter project from yesterday’s links. I feel like this is the phase where enough people have seen what happens to those who make themselves an easy target. So they’re hiding and waiting.

    2. truly

      Another must read article re Ukraine NATO conflict. Don’t get shy due to the link I have provided. This story has been published at many outlets, this is just where I happened to find it. And the English translation is good.
      Written by a Swiss former intelligence and military guy who went on to work for/with NATO doing work that included tracking small arms supplies in the Donbass region. One nugget that surprised me- they found that most of the arms used by separatists in Donbass were arms coming from Ukrainian defectors. Suggesting that many Ukrainian military personnel did NOT approve of West UK attacking East UK.
      This article is a long read and link heavy. One link that I would encourage you to click on (and advance to page 30):

      1. OnceWereVirologist

        The article has been linked here before but it is encouraging that it has gone so viral. It’s popping up all over the place.

  1. chukjones

    On mask mandate from TheRoot: The message seems to be, “you’re on your own, now.” I think I got that message way back in feb/march 2020. Just like “Mission Accomplished”, 2003.

    1. Safety First

      To be fair, during the 2020 election the Democrats tried to create an expectation that, once Biden was in office, the US would downshift from “rugged individualism” back to some semblance of having a public health policy. I am not suggesting one should necessarily have believed them, but they did SAY things like this. [Ditto on student debt and a myriad other topics.]

      I think that is why the visible abrogation of its nominal responsibilities by the CDC et al starting in May of last year stung as much as it did. When mixed in with all the other failures of the Biden administration – and is there a single significant election promise it actually managed to fully deliver on?! – that’s when you see Biden’s rating start taking a dive from 53%-54% (May-June) to 42%-43% (October-November). But that’s obviously a purely messaging problem, of course…

      1. chris

        Today’s Democrats can only think in terms of messaging and symbolic effort because that is all they can provide. Substantial change, like offering the electorate concrete material benefits, requires pissing off their donors. They won’t ever do that. Significant changes in governance, such as eliminating the filibuster or calling out their financially conflicted colleagues, requires doing things Bernie Sanders would never dream of doing. So how can we expect anyone in authority to even try? I’m with Lambert here – the Democrats are a rotting corpse too far gone to even bury themselves. They’ll be gone one day and there will be people who will be surprised it happened, instead of those in places like NC who are amazed it took so long.

      2. pasha

        blaming biden administration for an off-the-wall decision by a trump-appointed judge is not accountability

    1. juno mas

      Thanks for the link. Worth the time.

      The most clearly stated result of the US/Russia proxy war in Ukraine is at the very end of the interview. When the US Dollar is no longer the world’s reserve currency it will drop in value. Making imported goods more expensive; fueling inflation, and creating the conditions for a receding economy that will feel like the Great Depression to regular Americans. (This is why the war is already do or die for both the US and Russia.)

    1. Oh

      That vulture David Boies shows up like a bad penny in every lawsuit and usually loses and makes off with a large booty.

      1. Anthony G Stegman

        Wasn’t Boies the corporate attorney for Microsoft when they were fighting the anti-trust cases back in the day? He’s very well connected. No slouch.

        1. Colonel Smithers

          Thank you, all.

          Boies also represents some of the Epstein and Maxwell victims, which has aroused suspicion.

  2. The Rev Kev

    “The French election is getting hairy! Macron tries to woo younger voters with a series of ‘behind-the-scenes’ photos (so which macho man is he trying to copy?)”

    Just sitting here considering with what would happen if Marine Le Pen decided to mess with Emmanuel Macron by releasing an image where she duplicated that same exact Macron pose with the unbuttoned shirt and the manspreading going on. Maybe text underneath it saying posing does not a President make.

    1. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you, Rev.

      The Mac has been at it a lot recently. A fortnight ago, official photos of him replicating JFK’s poses, sitting at a desk and standing by a window and looking drained, during the Cuban missile crisis were published.

      One wonders what Bernard Henri Levy makes of this photo. I thought he was the only (French) geezer allowed to go around with his crisp, designer white shirt unbuttoned.

      One wonders what the NC community’s France based contingent, especially David, makes of such PR stunts and the last days of the campaign, including this evening’s debate.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Thank you, Colonel. A decent media could publish fotos like that of Macron replicating JFK’s poses by having side-by-side images of the original JFK one and the Macron imitation but I do not think that the French media are up to it. During the last French election in 2017 which saw Macron get in, a guy visited a newsstand in Paris and nearly all of them had Macron on the front cover and I think that only one had Le Pen and even then she was sharing that magazine cover with Macron.

      2. David

        Thanks Colonel. The BHL comparison had occurred to me as well.

        I think the reality is that Macron isn’t a very good politician, doesn’t have a clear message, and doesn’t really know what he wants. His vision of politics is essentially banal and trivial, and he’s obsessed by technical issues like making French people work longer for smaller pensions. He no longer represents anything new or different, and the “change” he promised has been shown to be the kind of “change” that management consultants are so fond of, and usually means taking your job away. Indeed, if you took a random consultant from McKinsey’s Paris office and shoved him into the Elysée, this is pretty much what you would have. Macron can play the part of the President of France if he has to, and likes having his ego stroked on the international stage, but his heart isn’t in it. He’s made it clear that he despises the country that elected him.

        His entire strategy has been to undermine the traditional parties of Left and Right by promising everything to everybody, and enticing away some of their top people to join his government. By occupying what he sees as the “centre ground”, he could weaken the traditional parties to the point where his opposition in the second round would be Le Pen. That would assure him of an easy victory, like last time, without having to do very much. Notice that almost none of this is traditional politics: Macron essentially hoped to win by default, counting on the massed forces of the other parties and the media to intimidate the electorate into voting, not for him, but against Le Pen.

        The strategy worked to some extent, and would have done so even if Mélenchon had come second: he would have been destroyed easily in the second round. But the problem for Macron is that the anti-Le Pen vote isn’t holding up as well as it did last time. Whilst the polls still show him ahead, it won’t be the kind of overwhelming victory he had in 2017. Thus, the flailing around and trying everything. Because he’s not a good politician, he doesn’t know what to do.

        To understand the political situation here, a few days before the election, think of the electorate as divided into five parts.
        – Those who will enthusiastically vote for one of the candidates: this probably doesn’t exceed 15-20% of the electorate at most.
        – Those who don’t want Le Pen to win, and can be bothered to vote against her.
        – Those who don’t want Le Pen to win, but can’t be bothered to vote against her.
        – Those who don’t want Macron to win, and can be bothered to vote against him.
        – Those who don’t want Macron to win, but can’t be bothered to vote against him.

        The election will be decided in the main by how many people can be bothered to turn out to vote against the candidate that they dislike. In any case, the Abstention Party will continue to make ground.

        I’m more worried about the future. Whoever wins will have a tough time forming a government after the June parliamentary elections. And unless the traditional parties can revive themselves, or be replaced by parties more relevant to the French people, then by 2027 the French political system will be a field of ruins.

        1. Colonel Smithers

          A big thank you, David, for the update and insight.

          What did you make of the EU trying to influence the outcome with that late and measly embezzlement case? Has Brussels no idea of how bad that looked?

          Further to BHL, even in Afghanistan, Syria and Libya, he goes around dressed like that. Flak jackets and helmets, like lunch, are for wimps. Then again, the most dangerous place on earth is the space between a camera and BHL.

          1. David

            I think the EU manoeuvre was so transparent (it goes back 18 years) that people just laughed.
            On BHL, I remember seeing a picture of him striding around in Libya, white shirt and hairy chest, thinking, I wouldn’t be allowed to do that without body-armour, how on earth did he? (Yes, I know it’s heavy, that’s why it’s effective, and you tend to look an idiot).
            I try to avoid him like the plague, but he was everywhere on TV at the start of the war. I accidentally caught him explaining that Russia could not possibly have been afraid of NATO, because NATO was a defensive alliance. I took me some time to recover.
            Some people are born stupid. Others deliberately cultivate stupidity over a period of decades.

            1. Colonel Smithers

              Thank you, David.

              BHL inherited a colonial firm and fortune from his father, but had neither the aptitude nor interest in running it. The firm was sold to the Bollore family.

              The Bollore clan is serious and proved an enduring rival to Tiny Rowland’s Lonrho, a firm that I had links to.

        2. Ignacio

          This looks like a prime example of the degradation of politics in Western democracies with its French exceptionality and circumstances very much as other countries have their own. English intellectuals filled years ago their mouths with the word ‘post-democracy’ as the term explaining the degradation of western democracies. I find it much more compelling the narrative that I find here, at NC, about the excessive influence of corporations and/or oligarchs, corruption, greed etc. Forgetting about the necessities of the people at large, blaming them for being lazy, uneducated, unemployed, releasing plastics, emitting carbon or not being able to repay their obviously excessive debts while our pious politicians try to educate us showing the sacrifices we have to go through for all of our excesses. Lately for not vaccinating and even later for being stupid masks wearers when the pandemic is over. Now, for our sins, we have to pay the price of proxy wars against Russia and be thankful to our glorious and heroic leadership. We are all deplorables now. Despise, said David, and that is what I feel when I see and hear the Macrons, the Borrells, the von der Leyens of the current crop.

        3. Glen

          David, that you for your comments, I find them incredibly helpful in understanding France, much more information that I could possibly get from the American MSM.

          A couple questions if you don’t mind:
          How are America’s sanctions being viewed in France?
          Is there a general understanding of just how much America is asking the EU to sacrifice to maintain the “unipolar world”?
          Are the French elites as deluded as American elites that we even live in a “unipolar world” anymore?

          As to that last question, as an engineer that has been working in manufacturing for most of my career, I have been long dismayed by the de-industrialization of America. I would have though that when COVID first started, and it was obvious that America did not even make the basic chemicals required to implement CV testing in the scale required to test it’s citizens that it would be obvious to all that America is no longer the “Arsenal of Democracy”, it is the country where you go to be a WalMart greeter after you retire so that one trip to the hospital doesn’t leave you destitute.

          Our elites are at best, living in the past, or at worst, willing to kill a whole lotta people to make a quick buck.

          I dare say that the average American either feels abandoned by their government or wants the government to stay out of their lives. All Americans have a basic understanding that the government acts for the rich donors, not the citizens.

          1. David

            In the media, it’s all Ukraine all the time, and the election campaign has been full of attacks on “Putin’s candidates” in the person of Le Pen and Zemmour (remember him?) But this is in part a tactic to take the mind of the electorate off Macron and his problems, and to allow him to slime his way into a second victory, as the MSM desperately wants.

            As far as I can tell, ordinary people are worried about the prospects of the crisis getting worse, not least because the French have a lot of experience of providing the battlefield for others over the centuries. Most people seem vaguely to accept the dominant narrative about the war, without feeling very strongly about it. The government is currently subsiding petrol prices, and the summer is coming, so people are less concerned, for the moment, about heating their homes. I don’t think we’ll really have a good idea about the popular mood until a few days after Sunday’s elections, when things start to get back to normal.

            French elites are deluded and have been for some time. There’s a part of the elite that glories in American predominance and wants to share it, and another part which views the US as a powerful bully needing to be appeased. Here and there, you find a Gaullist who’s still keeping the flag flying. That said, I don’t think they se themselves as following the US line as such: the French have been developing strong relations with Ukraine for most of the post Cold War period, and they have their own sense of shock and disappointment. And somewhere in all this is the idea of France acting independently towards Russia: Macron still echoes this a bit, in his conversations with Putin.
            We’ll have a better idea in a week or two.

      3. voteforno6

        I saw an interview of the former White House photographer who took that picture of JFK standing from behind. There wasn’t anything particular unique about that pose – that’s how JFK read the newspaper, since he couldn’t do so sitting while wearing his heavy back brace.

    2. Wukchumni

      Wanna see my body, baby?
      (Such a thrill my body) Such a thrill, my body yeah-yeah
      (Wanna touch my body) Wanna touch my body, baby?
      (It’s too much my body) It’s too much, my body yeah-yeah
      (Check it out my body) Check it out my body baby, body
      (Don’t you doubt my body) Don’t you doubt my body, body
      (Talkin’ bout my body) Talkin’ bout my body, body
      (Turn out at the polls for my body) Turn out everybody (listen to me)

      Every man wants to be a macho, Macron man
      To have the kind of body always in demand
      Hirsute in the photo op, go man go
      Work outs in the health spa, muscles glow
      You can best believe that he’s a macho man
      Ready to get down with voters, everyone he can

      Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey
      Macho, Macron man (macho man, yeah)
      I’ve got to be a macho man
      I’ve got to be a macho, Macron man, yeah
      I’ve got to be a macho, ow!
      Macho, Macron man (yeah)
      I’ve got to be a macho man
      Macho, Macron man (hey, hey)
      I’ve got to be a macho

      You can tell a macho, he has a funky walk
      His western shirts and leather, always look so boss
      Funky with his body, he’s a king
      Call him Mister Ego, dig his chains
      You can best believe that he’s a macho man
      He likes to be the leader, he never dresses grand

      Village People – Macho Man (OFFICIAL Music Video)

  3. Louis Fyne

    —Something Happened By Us: A Demonology —

    Even in a secular world, humans like a story of good v evil (Manichaeism) and that they have the final secret to deliver the world from its broken state. Today wokeism and woke interventionism fits the bill for many today (among lots of other competing -isms of course).

    Russia v. Ukraine is like World War I in which it is gray side v. gray side. But of course the narrative is that RU = 1933-45 Germany and UA = the Star Wars rebels/Republic.

    Let’s cross fingers that Beltway-NYC-NPRland doesn’t go howling mad with bloodlust and war cries when the Donbas encirclement and UA army collapse plays out.

    not holding my breath

    1. chris

      I think there will be much gnashing of teeth and rending of cloth up and down the Acela corridor when the inevitable occurs. There are still people talking about Ukraine winning. How is the utter destruction of their country considered a win? Why is peace under terms that protect their citizens considered a loss? And why does the US have any say in either?

      I’d like to think that since so many people are so upset about this conflict that many more people will volunteer for the Armed Services. But I know that won’t happen. The only constant here is more contractors will get richer and fewer and a fewer of the well to do will experience the negative consequences of their actions.

  4. OnceWereVirologist

    EXCLUSIVE. Nassim Nicholas Taleb : “We must
    humiliate Putin so that he backs down”

    Could Russia belong to this liberal system?
    Yes, provided it breaks up into separate states.

    The best thing (for China) would therefore be
    for it too to fragment to escape the yoke of Beijing.

    Add those to the “saying the quiet part out loud” file.

    1. Louis Fyne

      even Taleb isn’t immune to media-narrative programming.

      Putin = Fat Tony (character from Taleb’s books) and the harbinger of fat tail outcomes. The western Establishment = world governed by simplisitc PowerPoint.

      People need to get familiar w/the “Pogo Paradox”: the actions that one does to prevent an outcome actually trigger such outcome.

      UA is a wake up call from China—-the Western colonial mindset is still alive.

      1. Polar Socialist

        Neither US Air Force or Navy has been hiding the fact they are preparing (at least on Power Points) for a war with China within 8 years.

        That’s the standing intelligence assessment, that’s the driving principle behind any reorganization or procurement. Marines don’t need tanks if they’re island (and atoll) hopping in the South China Sea, but they do need anti-ship missiles – the Navy ain’t going to stand around as sitting ducks waiting for those “carrier killers”.

    2. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you.

      A dozen years ago, I was introduced to some people from the Henry Jackson Society. They proposed the same and wanted the small states in European Russia forced into the EU and the small states in Asia left to the mercies and machinations of China and Turkey.

      At the same time, the wacko jackos wanted the UK out of the EU and into an enhanced Five Eyes. They succeeded in getting the UK out of the EU and have got useful idiots like Catherine Belton and Carole Cadwalladr to spread anti Russia / Putin nonsense.

      1. Anonymous 2

        Can you expand on your ‘Catherine Belton is a useful idiot theme’? I read her book, which I found disturbing, though without assuming every word of it is Gospel truth.

        1. Colonel Smithers

          Thank you.

          Much of Belton’s material is from Bill Browder, a fraudster whose name is equally mud in the City, not just Russia, and Kroll, who like to pretend they are a private intelligence agency and have access to the inner workings of the Kremlin.

          The rest of the material for her Murdoch published book is her opinion, not fact.

          Tufton Street, with its US MIC and Koch family donors in the far background, was happy to facilitate the diversion. There’s a lot of that about.

            1. Colonel Smithers

              Merci. Vous avez raison.

              Cadwalladr is worse. She crowd funds some of her hysteria and quietly walks back the allegations much later, but keeps the money.

      1. OnceWereVirologist

        Given all those nukes, I’ve always found it doubtful that the US’s desire to pull Ukraine into its orbit was based on fomenting direct military confrontation with Russia or being able to move missile bases just a little closer to Moscow. But imagine what a resource all those Russia-hating yet Russian-speaking Ukrainians could be for the CIA if trained in intelligence and sent in to liaise with every ambitious regional governor or ethno-nationalist separatist leader in Russia.

      2. wilroncanada

        The US has always been obsessed in breaking up countries into small units that it can then more easily control, usually by having the smaller units at each other’s throats, by way of it’s virtual monopoly on worldwide propaganda dominance. Sometimes it has succeeded, as with Korea, sometimes it has failed, as with Vietnam. The irony of Taleb’s declaration is that it may apply more directly to the US itself, than to it’s opponents/victims.

    3. JohnA

      One thing I found interesting was that he talks about a French speaking Swiss person considering themself to be Swiss not French, ditto a French speaking Belgian, but does not talk about Russian speaking Ukrainians, many of whom have been utterly alienated and terrorised by the Kiev regime that declares them subhuman, who would have been happy to remain Ukrainians but for the Kiev regime actions and the banning of their language, which goes against EU rules in any case. Effectively the root cause of the war, of which he says nothing.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Makes you wonder what would happen if the rest of Switzerland were bombing & shelling the French part of Switzerland for eight years if France would do nothing and would not support their compatriots. I think that we know the answer to that.

    4. PlutoniunKun

      I was pretty amazed to hear Taleb say that. Apart from anything else, he should have just looked at what happened to those States that split away from the Soviet Union 20 years ago. None of them are exactly exemplars of democracy and human rights. For that matter, as a Lebanese he should be well aware that breaking up empires doesn’t necessarily lead to better outcomes for the new small nations.

      Taleb, unfortunately, is yet another example of someone who is very smart who immediately goes into Dunning Kruger territory when he strays outside his core area of knowledge. When it comes to international affairs, its not just a case of not knowing what he’s talking about, he doesn’t know what he doesn’t know.

        1. jr

          Good gravy, what an idiot D’Asse Tyson is! He has a MasterClass video in which he offers to teach you “how to think!” As this article demonstrates, he is forever “one-upping” his audience and assuming their ignorance. “Betcha didn’t know X!”

          His history is always of YouTube video quality. He dismisses the need for studying philosophy then goes on to make all manner of philosophical claims. I understand he is not highly respected in his field of science either. I watched him on Rogan one time; he dissembles about things he has no clue about and speaks with utter arrogance about the things he has some inkling of. He is one of the set of fools who think it’s time to do away with the notion of consciousness because it upturns his doltish materialism. A scientism-ist, a fundamentalist of rationality. Another Jordan Peterson or Steve Pinker style pseudo intellectual foisted on the public because the people who decide such things are too dumb themselves to know any better.

          1. Colonel Smithers

            Thank you.

            You can add the likes of Fareed Zakaria, Malcolm Gladwell, Boris Johnson, Kwasi Kwarteng (former beau of Amber Rudd and Liz “fizzy Lizzy” Truss) and Jacob Rees Mogg to that long and dodgy list.

      1. valdo

        Taleb also can’t keep picking fights on Twitter fast enough, (Glenn, Cathlyn…) and insulting whoever has different opinions. Someone remarked he behaves like a narcissist, though I’m not qualified to judge on that. But I noticed he was an invited speaker on this Mars convention thing awhile back. He retweeted something from someone in the lines of great to be there, Jeff Bezo’s love for humanity was on display, don’t ask me for the right wording.
        Which made me wonder if it truly is what you guys speculate (clueless outside his expertise) or he just knows where his interests are (not enough f*** you money, borrowing his own term).
        In any case, an insightful Twitter account became a sorry spectacle (i like diverging views, it’s just that there’s only so much my eyes can take seeing so much platitudes and insults)

  5. DJG, Reality Czar

    The Root article about the mask mandate and the district court gives a link to the decision.

    If you go to page 6, you will discover that named plaintiffs Ana Daza, she of the mask-induced anxiety, and Sarah Pope, she of the mask-induced panic attacks, don’t offer much more in the way of physical obstruction or medical symptoms.

    The judge, relying on the idea that COVID virus is (conveniently) passed to others via droplets, then goes on and on about what “sanitation” is. She insists that it is cleaning.

    We are ruled by karens. We are ruled by eternal high-school cliques. What’s worse, we are ruled by small-minded, petty people who, unfortunately, are given power and don’t know how to wield power.

    1. Pat

      Not for nothing but isn’t it amazing that the original lie lives on.
      We have Fauci lies about masking, and the CDC ignoring the aerosol spread in favor of the droplet bs. Perhaps if there had been years of mask without any lies and carve outs and that the virus is in the air and not on surfaces, who knows…
      Regardless of administration, our public health bureaucracy has proven itself to be largely inept to incompetent.

  6. marym

    Re: The Trump judge’s opinion striking down the airplane mask mandate is a legal disaster Vox

    “So this law is broadly worded, and it specifically gives the CDC the power to enact “sanitation” regulations that protect public health. Mizelle gets around the law’s broad wording largely by defining the word “sanitation” very narrowly and misreading other portions of the statute.”

    The first link below is to commentary on the methodology used to decide on the definition. I just happened across this link on twitter. The second link is to the tweet, and such info as provided in the author’s twitter bio. The post also includes links to other sources with further discussion of the ruling and the methodology.

    “…corpus linguistics–a method in which databases of documents and texts are searched for instances in which words and phrases are used…This method of interpretation has gained steam in recent years, particularly in originalists circles where it is hailed as a groundbreaking method for determining the original public meaning of constitutional provisions.”

    1. Safety First

      I remain vaguely floored, though unsurprised, by the fact that this decision is a “thing” at all.

      To be sure, I am not a professional attorney, and for whatever reason no-one is inviting me to play one on the telly. That said, I have “lived” through a whole slew of corporate legal spats, especially in a bankruptcy context, and quite literally 99.5% of the time no-one cares about the District Court decision in the slightest, because 99.5% of the time it will be automatically appealed by whichever party is the loser. You always started to pay attention only when the case reached the Appeals Court level, at which point the issue would actually get resolved and the opinions would be worth reading for anything other than entertainment value.

      And yet here we have the Biden White House sit there for at least a full day, with Psaki saying we might consider appealing based on a DoJ review (CNBC now claims they WILL appeal, by the way), pretending as if the District Court – whoever happens to be the judge (Gumby!) – actually matters, and then you have a whole mess of press articles on how bad the judge slash decision slash whatever is. I mean, either this is West Wing Brain on full display, and these people have no clue how to do legal cases or how legal precedent works, or they genuinely thought they could let a District Court kill this and then pretend to be utterly helpless to do anything about it…

      …but like I said, it looks like an appeal is coming, so we’re back to the 99.5% principle.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        The previous three administrations took laziness to a new level. Sloth is very much part of the DC brain. No one is going to risk traffic for this. Biden is already known for his laziness, so I wouldn’t accuse them of too much planning.

        1. Pat

          Lazy they are, but I think Safety First is closer to the mark with this one. They planned on losing this and just like how it was all because the big bad Republicans blocked Obama’s agenda, it was going to be the courts blocked us. Airlines happy, they are off the hook. But no one bought they couldn’t appeal, in this case too many know there are alternatives to going along with losing.

          Just like the midterm bloodbath is all about messaging, much of our political leadership thinks they just need some social media cover for doing unpopular but lucrative donor service. Often they get their wish, propaganda does work. But sometimes the rubes don’t eat the dog food.

          Where you are right just as they don’t want to do the work to make the vaccine mandates work, they won’t spend any time crafting rules on something they know they should do but will effect donations and future job opportunities.

  7. kriptid

    Re: EXCLUSIVE. Nassim Nicholas Taleb: “We must humiliate Putin so that he backs down”

    I really can’t recommend reading this, but for those who did, a few thoughts:

    Before I read this interview, I was under the impression, despite not knowing much about him or reading any of his books, that Mr. Taleb was a smart man. After reading his comments, I find myself completely disabused of that notion. The cherry-picked, ill-equivocated historical examples he uses to support his positions made me feel embarrassed for him. The way he carelessly reaches into his bag of pop-history trivia to impress what he must perpetually assume to be an intellectually-inferior audience is telling.

    His views read like something that would be spouted out by a machine learning algorithm that was only fed tweets that contained the top ten daily Twitter hashtags since circa 2016. You can also see how his mind has been warped by the Trump = Russia agitprop; he can’t help but bring them up in the same breath, speaking as if he and Putin are somehow cut from the same cloth, which anyone with a brain can see is absurd. Maybe Trump is a Putin fanboy, but to say they are at all similar based on their political career, life trajectories, personal demeanor, is beyond-the-pale ignorance.

    I also find it incredible that such a pompous, thin-skinned person can exist in the public sphere. It’s no wonder he makes an enemy of everyone who deigns to critique him, even slightly (like Snowden). He even threw out the “Yea but… Snowden’s in Russia, must be an asset, so he’s like, whatevs” line in response to a mere question about Snowden.

    Another so-called intellectual that I can stop paying attention to…

    1. Louis Fyne

      your last line is ironic and funny in that part of Taleb’s first book was spent bashing “so-called intellectuals”

      taleb has become the very thing he despised 20 years ago…just with infinitely better maths skills

    2. Socal Rhino

      I still recommend Taleb’s books to friends, and I watch his mini lectures on yutube from time to time. Following him on twitter I started to perceive a change in him around the time he started bashing Snowden and now Greenwald. He started citing aphorisms from his books similar to the way that evangelical protestants offer “proof texts” from the bible as a substitute for reasoned argument. Different than his critique of crypto currencies.

    3. Bart Hansen

      He ‘got out over his skis’. Maybe he’s taking the course ‘To be a polymath in ten easy lessons’.

    4. KD

      If I wanted to explain Taleb’s position, I would start with Lebanon and Syria and Russia, and then reason back to Ukraine. Maybe even Hezbollah and Arab Christians and Iran and Russia. Further, if I was correct, then I would suspect that you will find no evidence of the real motivation in his essay.

      1. KD

        Let’s see, Syrian Sunni refugees from Syria to Lebanon, further undermining “Arab”, e.g. Christian, demographics in Lebanon, and creating more tension and instability:

        Refugees “temporary” but not going back so long as Assad runs Syria–which Russia has more-or-less guaranteed.

        A Russian collapse could knock out Assad, and the refugees could go back and stop de-stabilizing Lebanon. Plus there is a growing alliance between Iran and Russia, and if Russia collapses, Iran is even more isolated diplomatically, and then that makes life harder for Hezbollah, and easier for “Arabs” e.g. Christians, in Lebanon.

        I think it makes sense for an Arab Christian from Lebanon to be on the pro-Ukraine bandwagon, it certainly probably won’t cost him popularity amongst relatives in the Old Country.

        Skin in the game and all that, he sure isn’t signing up for the Ukrainian White Ethnostate when everything is over and Y’all Queda/Right Sector has the whip hand.

        1. kriptid

          Thanks for your insights. Hadn’t considered Taleb’s heritage/politics as a possible component of his position on Russia. Makes a lot of sense laid out as you have here.

    5. Anon

      One has to think: the only way this plays out, is the way that it’s playing out. So Nassim could just be an accellerationist. Sooner the nukes fly, sooner we can get back to hunting and gathering.

  8. The Rev Kev

    “Russian Ambassador to US Says Biden Officials Don’t Want to Speak With Him”

    Yeah, there seems to be a lot of this happening. The White House doesn’t want to talk to the Russian Ambassador and won’t meet with him. The Russian Ministry of Defence are not taking any phone calls form the Pentagon and are ignoring them. And the UN Secretary General – Antonio Guterres – has not tried to talk to Putin even though you would think that that would be an urgent priority for a UN Secretary General. As for the later, a spokesman for Guterres claims that he has but Russia’s Maria Zakharova branded him a liar-

    Considering that we are in a de-facto war between the two biggest nuclear powers on the planet, you would think that a little more jaw-jaw would be in order here.

    1. Safety First

      I think things like this are a very important sign.

      Recall what had happened after 2008 and 2014, both times when US and Russia clashed over a sphere of influence issue (in South Ossetia and Eastern Ukraine). Diplomatic conversations, unproductive though they were, continued; artists and writers and whatnot were not “cancelled”; I do not recall Bush or Obama making anything like a “this man has got to go” statement. In other words, even with an anti-Russian PR campaign domestically, internationally the US was still signalling – hey, we do not like what you are doing, and we would like to beat you in some fashion, but we recognise that you are still a diplomatic equal of some sorts, and this particular issue might eventually be hashed out in some fashion. Or even if it does not, we’ll pretend that it does, because there might be other issues that we are still going to talk to one another about.

      This does not mean that in 2008 or 2014 the US had anything other than purely imperial intentions viz. Russia, or actually regarded it as a diplomatic equal. But the appearance, the decorum, if you will, was there, and half of diplomacy is appearances. And, again, it at least held out the prospect of some kind of an understanding between the two countries materialising at some distant point in the future.

      Now, it appears the US establishment has fully shifted into displaying to the Russians, and to all onlookers, that they are not diplomatic equals, that the only possible outcome of this thing, from the US perspective, is an unconditional surrender by Moscow. They have effectively downshifted Russia to the status of, say, Cuba, or North Korea. We will squeeze you until we will destroy you, even if it takes decades. [Smashing the EU economy in the process to make it a fully fledged US vassal is a happy bonus.]

      I am not sure the Russian elites yet fully appreciate this. I am not sure whether this, whatever this is, will persist through the next President in the White House, though history suggests that is likely barring some massive defeat somewhere. I am not sure what exactly triggered this switch, whether it had been building up “organically” over the years, or the Democrats bought into their own Russiagate BS, or whatever the Hell else. I am sure, however, that nothing good can come of this viewpoint shift.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        I think the Russian elites do. They recognize the West has divorced them. And the US has greatly overestimated its and NATO’s military capabilities. The fact that they can’t resupply Ukraine, between its demands having drained their collective cupboards after a mere 50 days, in part due to pet weapons being not very effective (see Ritter on the Javelin; the Switchblades are also underperforming because among other things the Russians have much better EW capabilities in the field and can jam them, albeit at the cost of temporarily jamming their own comms) and due to Russians blowing up equipment and fuel depots.

        Now they may underestimate the difficulty and time it takes to reorient their economy to Asia (most of all China and India) but that is underway.

        1. jrkrideau

          Now they may underestimate the difficulty and time it takes to reorient their economy to Asia (most of all China and India) but that is underway.

          I doubt that they have everything smoothed out but China and Russia have been working on a SWIFT alternative for some time.

          Also as Andrei Martyanov says quoting or paraphrasing Bismark: “A Russian makes a plan when even going to a toilet.”

          I remember reading that back in USSR times when a US–USSR crisis arose, the lights would be burning late into the night in the White House. In Moscow everyone was tucked up in their beds at the usual time.

          The speed that Russian banks tacked on the Chinese UnionPay credit card to the Mir card suggests long–term contingency planning between China and Russia.

          With India, those oil purchases seem fast but I do not know anything about how such things are done.

    1. Alice X

      One of the pernicious aspects of the Espionage Act, beyond its very existence, is that there can be no defense based on a motive of serving a public good. The first defense, of course, is that Assange is a journalist. But the real indictment is that he published embarrassing secrets, revealing crimes of the Empire, an act to which the Empire will not abide. So far the liberal media has rolled out its many blind eyes.

    2. jsn

      US journalists are mostly unemployed, retired or writing abroad.

      They’ve been replaced by “media employees” who are happy to take dictation from petty dictators at three initial agencies.

      At this point anything in broadcast and most of what’s in print is in Bagdad Bob territory.

    3. Otis B Driftwood

      It is impossible to overstate the tragedy of this for the future of democracy. The US empire is rotten to its core.

    4. ambrit

      I’ll go out on a limb here and predict that the Department of Justice will hold the trial, if there is one, “in camera” on the grounds of “National Security.” That will be the ‘Crossing the Rubicon’ moment.
      Then it will be time to relocate out of America, (for those who can.)

    5. Mildred Montana

      @Bugs: “…a public trial [of Assange]…”

      Fat chance of that. Since 9/11 nearly 1000 terrorism defendants have been tried by the DOJ. Conviction rate +99%. Anybody know anything about these cases? I doubt it. Even high-profile defendants such as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (DOJ) and Bradley (Chelsea) Manning (military tribunal)—anybody from the media sit in on them and report on them? If they did, their reportage sure didn’t make the six o’clock news.

      I know Assange is charged instead with espionage, but the same “legal” tactic will be used. As ambrit says above, the proceedings will be held “in camera”, that is, secret or private. A fancy Latin phrase for “Star Chamber”.

      1. JBird4049

        Remember kids, we still live in a functioning “democracy” under a Constitution with a Bill of Rights guaranteeing our “rights” ’cause our benevolent rulers (including the courts) say we do. /s

        I am still waiting to read any legal justifications for a foreign citizen while living in another country can be guilty of espionage. I am sure that there are somewhere legal fig leafs already written, just like John Yoo’s Torture Memos, but like much of the American judiciary’s rulings, they will be just facile wordplay justifying a predetermined decision of injustice, even plain evil.

        It is stuff like this that is destroying whatever loyalty through faith to our government is remaining and replacing it with obedience by terror is now normal. Our nation is ruled by the equivalent of an abusive spouse that insist that our collective eyes are lying and that they showing they truly love us by beating the ever loving bejesus out of us.

        1. wilroncanada

          It’s easy to redefine words in US jurisprudence. A neophyte just redefined “sanitation”, so how difficult will it be to redefine “espionage?”

    6. Oh

      In this environment of fake news and heavy propaganda I doubt that there will be a trial. In the unlikely case there is one, it will certainly be in a Kangaroo Court.

  9. MT_Wild

    Turtles: Niche partitioning goes along way in preventing interspecies strife. Those two turtles overlap very little in competition for resources. And sunlight and log space isn’t limiting.

    Compare that to painted turtles and red eared sliders, and there is much more competition and partial displacement

    1. ChetG

      I’ve photos of painted turtles and red-eared sliders sitting peacefully next to each other.

    1. caucus99percenter

      Well, thank goodness it wasn’t CTS just muffing its cue and jumping the gun a bit like the BBC on 9/11, reporting from the future that WTC 7 had collapsed twenty minutes before it actually did…

    1. xformbykr

      a propos of ‘strategic’ anything, today for the first time, I could not access A site login is now required. According to its own duckduckgo entry, “Strategic Culture Foundation provides a platform for exclusive analysis, research and policy comment on Eurasian and global affairs. We are covering political, economic, social and security issues worldwide.”

      According to wikipedia, “The Strategic Culture Foundation (SCF) is a Russian think tank that primarily publishes an online current affairs magazine of the same name. It is regarded as an arm of Russian state interests by the United States government.. According to a 2020 United States Department of State report, the Strategic Culture Foundation is directed by Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service, and is closely …”

      First they came for RT, then they came for SCF. …..

  10. Wukchumni

    Over there, over there
    Send the word, send the word over there
    That the yank is coming
    The market plummeting
    The HFT’s short-running
    So prepare, say a prayer
    Send the word, send the word to beware
    The bull market will be over, we’re talking over
    And it won’t come back as it’s over
    Over there

  11. Lexx

    ‘Americans want to legalize marijuana – their senators don’t’

    An aging electorate and, according to WaPo, the oldest senate in history. Coincidence? It can’t be because the senate body fails to see the potential tax revenues. Aging senators, retirees, and pharmaceutical companies = (politically-speaking) vested interests with very deep pockets. Outside of billionaires, some of the most powerful in the country.

    Side note: We’ve used THC gummies since the state legalized marijuana for recreational use, to address poor sleep, not pain. We’re in our mid-sixties. I can’t remember the last time (if ever) I saw an “old person” trafficking the dispensaries. The average seemed to be 40-ish, or younger. Your Dispensary May Vary.

    1. Wukchumni

      The first 420 dispensary opened in nearby Weedlake, er Woodlake about 3 years ago, and like everybody else I used to buy my supply from a local guy-so it wasn’t like you knew any of his customers, and then I noticed a fair amount of partakers in their 80’s in the dispensary-the greatest generation lighting up!

      Maybe it was on account of the then draconian measures that made it the only legal pot shoppe in the CVBB for a spell (there’s oodles more now) where it literally had the drawing power of 100-150 mile range, that exposed octogenarian stoners to me?

      1. Lexx

        I don’t doubt the white-haired set are out there; I just haven’t seen them in any of the dispensaries east and/or south of town.

        Maybe I’ll go be a tourist on the west side where the Senior Center is located. Perhaps a dispensary has managed to muscle in amongst the flock of pharmacies, like a wolf wearing mary janes.

    2. Chromex

      I will be 70 this year. I seem to recall that my generation had a yuuggge number of people that smoked marijuana . My observation, speaking with and looking at my peers is that there are fewer of us but still a significant percentage. When I go to the dispensaries in my state, I see plenty of contemporaries. My observations about the US Senate is that the intellectual level is seriously degraded and if they are bought off and ambitious, as most of them are, their poorly reasoned rationales ring as hollow as that district court mask decision. I have to admit that back in the day, student council members, dorm supervisors et al were the least likely to be potheads. Many of them went on to be involved in politics. Anyway my suggestion is that there are reasons other than a sincere belief that pot is dangerous behind keeping it illegal federally. None of them hold water but bribery and idiocy still reign in the US>. Didn’t Biden fire a whole bunch of staff because they admitted they used it and it was “still illegal federally” ( tone deaf Psaki, as bad as the Trump press secretaries, just in a different way)? Of course , this somehow does not apply to “didn’t inhale” Clinton, Obama, and now Harris. Anyway, and in short, among my age group and older, I would say , anecdotally of course, that the majority of people I know use marijuana and would like to see it federally legalized.

      1. Mayacreed

        Kamala Harris being interviewed on the Breakfast Club she said that while she was in college, she smoked weed.

        “What were you listening to when you was high?”Harris was asked
        “Oh yes – definitely Snoop,” Harris responded. “Uh-huh. 2Pac for sure.”

        Snoop and TuPac didn’t release records until 1991-92.
        Kamala graduated from college in 1986.

        The color-coordinating, shape-shifting, wealth-deceiving and weaving, time-traveling, accent-accentuating Kamaleon strikes again.

          1. Dr. John Carpenter

            1988/1989 for that. Dr. Dre was still in the very glammed out World Class Wreckin Cru in ‘86.

        1. Mildred Montana

          Well, that only proves that KH might have a bad memory, which could support her weed-smoking admission. Does the USA have a VP with a weed-ravaged memory?. ;)

          1. ambrit

            Poor Kamala, she should play the ‘Queen Victoria’ card for the 420 Issue.
            It’s our son’s birthday today, and he hates Weed. Go figure.
            Happy Birthday Son!

      1. Lexx

        No worries. Despite being too old for excuses, I’m occasionally uncool (wrong, undiplomatic, politically incorrect, took the joke too far) in writing. The response may be wrathful, fire and brimstone may fall from the heavens… I wouldn’t want any of that to get on you. The consequences must be mine alone.

        Thank you for your attention to the detail though.

    3. playon

      Our local pot shops have senior discounts on Sundays, and in Seattle I know that some elder care places take a van full of old folks to the weed stores now and then for a shopping trip, so seniors (including my 95 yo mother who uses CBD products) are definitely customers in these parts.

      Big pharma aside, I wonder how much of the reluctance of the senate is tied to donations from big booze…

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Perhaps. It might be important to recognize Putin is smart enough to recognize Monopoly is a game that can be won by strategy if you follow the rules, playing against people who don’t have a clue who are just playing monopoly and droning on about house rules turning the game into chutes and ladders.

        Don’t build hotels. The game is monopoly. There are too many hotels relative to houses. Just keep buying houses.

    1. OnceWereVirologist

      Though called a tank column in the media, it looked like primarily a truck column in all the published satellite pictures. I didn’t think anything of it at the time because I assumed they were loaded with ammunition and other supplies, but if we take the diversion hypothesis as true then a massive column of empty trucks is a far cheaper way to make it appear like a major offensive is in the offing than a column of actual military equipment.

  12. jsn

    The Orwellian use of Orwell at Politico:

    So the authors apparently think there is a working class way to say “Give me a break, I have no empathy”, and “nothing fundamental will change”. These optimized word choices and deliveries will cause the spread sheet fodder that has come of the American working class to vote for rents to continue their rise, higher insurance costs, deductibles and copays, police funding to continue its increase and for more wars to exterminate their own kids.

    The walls of the bubble are getting thick.

  13. ambrit

    The ‘Power’ of Platforms Department.
    Another blogger I look at ran a copy of a recent YouTube ‘message’ to “content creators” concerning the Platform’s policy towards content concerning the Ukraine conflict.

    “Dear Publisher,
    Due to the war in Ukraine, we will pause monetization of content that exploits, dismisses, or condones the war.
    Please note, we have already been enforcing on claims relating to the war in Ukraine when they violated existing policies (for instance, the Dangerous or Derogatory content policy prohibits monetizing content that incites violence or denies violent events). This update is meant to clarify, and in some cases expand, our publisher guidance as it relates to this conflict.
    This pause includes, but is not limited to, claims that imply that victims are responsible for their own tragedy or similar instances of victim blaming, such as claims that Ukraine is commiting genocide or deliberatly attacking it’s own citizens.”

    Well, there it is, in black and byte. The Platform tells the “content creators” what is or is not “permissible speech.”
    For what it is worth.

    1. Carolinian

      condones the war

      Haven’t the Bidenistas more or less openly said that the war must continue in order to bring down Putin? Blinken is hoping for at least a year.

      Of course Youtube isn’t going to block him or, for that matter, the NYT. What they are really saying is that media might makes right so suck it up.

  14. The Rev Kev

    The US does not know what happened to all the weapons that they sent to the Ukraine? Frankly I doubt it. I would assume that a lot has been diverted to secret depots for future off-the-books actions. Twenty years ago you had the exact same headlines how the US did not know what happened to all the weapons that they shipped to Iraq. They weren’t even bothered recording the serial numbers of all that equipment that was shipped over there but just loaded it aboard a transport and sent it to Iraq where it was handed out to all and sundry. But when you stop and think about it, the US, UK, etc. were training & equipping tens of thousands of Jihadists before sending them into Syria a few years later. Could all those weapons be the ones that the Jihadists were being equipped with? You gotta wonder.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      The difference now is the US seems distressed because for whatever reason Ukraine is screeching it needs weapons and the US and NATO can’t come up with enough to fill its yawning maw of need. I hold to my view that the degree of ineffectiveness in the field and Russia destruction was not something they anticipated.

      And the messaging has not caught up. I got an e-mailed story from the Economist in the last 12 hours, which means they regard it as important, that we’re about to see the greatest tank battles since WWII. Huh?

      The Ukie tanks are greatly diminished in # between being rendered inoperable or having no gas. And any new supplies have to go all the way across Ukraine, via train. If Russia does not take out deliveries at the border or nearby supply depots, if worse comes to worse, they’ll bomb the trains or the tracks or take out the key remaining bridges.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        The Ukie tanks will never go one on one with Russian tanks for a simple reason – their ammunition is out of date and can’t penetrate modern Russian armour. This is a very well known limitation of their standard gun. Nato can’t help as it doesn’t make armour piercing shells of the right calibre for the Ukie tanks. I suspect the massive focus on ATM’s was the result of Nato trainers suddenly realising that this was an enormous potential problem. This, incidentally, is also the reason why Germany’s plan to send older Leopard 1 tanks to help out is a non-starter. They will simply not survive a one on one fight with a Russian Tank. And they don’t have enough Leopard 2 tanks to hand out.

        I think the focus on the Javelin/NLAW/Stinger comes from two motivations – the first one being that logistically they can’t deliver anything bigger and more complicated in the time frames needed. The second comes down to a belief that they can bog the Russians down in an insurgency – these weapons are far more useful for guerrilla warfare than large scale manoeuvre.

        What gets me is that nobody is giving any consideration to what happens when these end up in the hands of gangsters and neo-Nazi groups all over Europe. This is absolutely inevitable. They don’t even have to use them, they only need to demonstrate they have them and then demand a ‘fee’ to destroy them.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          In regards to the weapons, I figure the proper Western capitals believe it will be a Warsaw problem. Despite NATO status, are the Eastern bloc states really part of the West? Or forward bases? The panic over Polish plumbers was real.

      2. Louis Fyne

        yes to both points, UA no longer hhas any functional refineries…supplies have to be trucked in from somewhere. No diesel, no mechanized warfare.

        and those tanker trucks in transit are impossible to hide and make easy targets

      3. NotTimothyGeithner

        I tend to think the more hawkish Western elites fully expected Russia to run up to the Polish border trying to occupy the whole country. The weapons delivered would be great along with local resistance in that case. Then the Russians would get a new Afghanistan after our own disasters.

      4. The Rev Kev

        Even if the Ukrainians had the gas and the ability to get the tanks to the front, the Russians would slaughter them with air power and thermobaric artillery before making contact with ground forces. I would be a massacre so I kinda hope that the Ukes don’t try it.

        1. OnceWereVirologist

          Ukraine Has Mobilized Its Tank Reserves. They’re Already On The Attack.

          According to Forbes they’re already doing so. Bear in mind that this is the same publication that a couple of weeks ago uncritically published the Ukrainian claim that they had more tanks than when the war started by reason of capturing so many Russian tanks. Now this article contains lines such as “War, and the destruction of scores of the best T-64s, compelled Kyiv to mobilize the T-72 formations”.

          1. Fritzi

            That definitely smells like a sucidal last stand right there.

            But the more tanks they offer up to be destroyed, the faster it will be over.

            1. OnceWereVirologist

              If this battle over Izium turns in Ukraine’s favor, the government in Ukraine could owe the victory to a bunch of former taxi drivers and teachers riding in second-line tanks.

              For the sake of the people involved I can only hope that this is a propaganda piece because if that’s actually what’s left available to the Ukrainian army then the government should be negotiating surrender not sending them into the frontlines. According to the article these are reservists with only a couple of months training.

        2. Oisin

          How much air superiority do Russia have? I guess there are no reliable sources in relation to this as all we have is propoganda from either side. It basically is a battle of logistics and Russia and a stalemate in 3-4 months.

          1. Polar Socialist

            AFAIK, Russian military doesn’t really think in terms of air superiority or air supremacy. If their air forces can support the ground forces on strategic and tactical level without enemy hindrance, they’re content.
            And if their ground forces have the freedom on movement without the enemy air force intervening, they’re content.

            Russian airspace is enormous. It’s way too big for anyone ever to have air superiority, not to speak of supremacy. One would need 54 AWACS airplanes just to cover the area inside Russia, not counting the areas just outside it’s borders. So they focus on having the air power where it needs to be when it needs to be for the ground troops to do what they have to do.

          2. Yves Smith Post author

            On the attack, Russians go only for air superiority. They want enough control of the skies so that their ground forces are not meaningfully at risk.

            What the Russians do, which is very different from American, is they use missiles, not at all planes, for long distance attacks. They are very good at precision targeting. The strikes on weapons caches in Lvov were missile strikes.

            1. Skippy

              This is a huge distinction between the post WWII Atlantic mind set which has hang overs from all the usual suspects, deploying bad maths and physics via Newman, Nash, McNamara, et al.

              All this has been acerbated by the past military conflicts with weak nations or opposition and the idea that America only had to fight terrorists. So much money and policy grounded in a leading question that is grounded in an imaginary reality of superiority that can not be surpassed. Layer on an epic level of graft so everyone feel swell about their personal life styles and there you are.

              Just imagine the costs between a air based system of dominance and that of a comprehensive missile system backed up by air – lmmao at dog fights.

          3. PlutoniumKun

            This has mystified all the air power mavens I’ve read and follow. As PS and Yves has commented above, it is clear that the Russians simply don’t follow standard western doctrine on air power. They focus on what is ‘just enough’ to protect their troops from air attack, and are content to just make life very difficult for enemy air forces/defenses elsewhere. They never use strike aircraft if a cruise or ballistic missile can do the job. They also seem to be making extensive use of decoy drones to force the Ukies to waste their best missiles.

            The Russian Air Force is relatively speaking small, and cannot afford to take too many losses of their best aircraft. It may also be that there is some inter-service rivalry going on (there is a long history in war of one service or another getting into a huff when asked to do the work for another one), but it seems most likely that the majority of their air power is being kept in reserve for when its really needed. The Russians are probably well aware that other powers (not least Turkey) would try to take advantage of a stretched Russian military by heating things up in the region around Armenia. They will also of course have gamed out the possibility of Nato or an individual other country putting pressure on, say, Kalingrad or along the Finnish border.

      5. David

        Zelensky is faithfully following the tactics that have worked ever since the break-up of Yugoslavia thirty years ago. Present yourself as the weaker side, show your wounds and your suffering, put your main effort into a well-funded media and propaganda campaign to get the West to intervene militarily on your behalf. After all, it usually works, and it’s clear that Zelensky was expecting it to work this time. Now that it hasn’t, it turns out there was no Plan B, so all he can do is turn the volume up to 11, on the basis that continued arms deliveries will, over a period of time, so enmesh the West in the conflict that they will have no choice but to intervene directly. An obvious ploy would be to try to get NATO aircraft to deliver arms to airfields in Western Ukraine, in the hope and expectation that one would be shot down. I remember during the Bosnian War, sources “close to” Izetbegovic actually admitted that their entire strategy consisted of doing whatever was necessary to “get NATO into the war on our side.” I think the time for that kind of thing has gone, but Zelensky doesn’t realise it.

        As regards the Economist, well, there have been precisely zero tank battles in Europe since 1945, apart from a couple of very minor scuffles in Bosnia. So it’s bound to be the “greatest. That said, “tank battle'” is a bit of a misnomer. “Battle involving tanks”, maybe.

        1. Colonel Smithers

          Thank you, David.

          I can’t comment about NATO partners, but can guess that none, apart from may be France and the US, is fighting fit.

          A few weeks ago, the UK’s top artillery officer said he had no self propelled guns to spare as all are in the garage.

          Just one squadron of cavalry, not a regiment (four squadrons), has been deployed to the Baltic states as that is all the British army can muster.

          Most infantry battalions are under strength. The Scots and Coldstream Guards have four companies of 100 men each. They should have five to six companies of 120 men. If it was not for immigrants, there could be perhaps be no Scottish regiments. Most of the Irish Guards are from the Republic, not Northern Ireland and areas like Merseyside and Glasgow with their communities of Irish origin.

        2. Kouros

          The interview with Alexey Arestovich from 2019 linked before at NC indicates this same strategy. that there will be a war and that Russia will loose because of the NATO boots on the ground and NATO imposed no-fly-zone. Alexey is very cocksure that NATO will fight shoulder to shoulder with Ukraine against Russia. He obviously didn’t listen to Putin’s warnings. Pentagon definitely did.

    2. Louis Fyne

      Modern western weapons are produced at a snail’s pace. In less than two months Ukraine has used up years worth of arms production via

      1. destruction-capture by RU whether by air or ground,
      2. UA forces using more weapons than western planners assumed (fighting the last war, RU ain’t the Taliban or Republican Guard);
      3. UA social media rumours-accusations that certain local authorities, particularly in western UA, are hoarding-skimming weapons shipments meant for the frontlines

      #3 is how you turn UA into Libya or 1980’s Lebanon and have Z thrown out in a coup and have UA run by overt ultranationalists.

      1. hunkerdown

        Most of the armaments consumed have been old Soviet gear, which NATO, wearing its hat as a keeper of an international standard, has no problem seeing rid of. Presumably, their newly contracted replenishments will have kill switches to prevent “disrespectful” use in the future.

  15. Reality Bites

    Harpers published a good article on the runup to the Ukraine war and the constant intelligence releases warning of the impending invasion. It really goes to show just how bad US diplomacy is at this stage. If Jake Sullivan really thought this was a way to throw Putin off, he really needs to be fired immediately. Actually…he needs to be fired anyways. But it also shows how they were throwing their favorite leader, Zelenskyy under the bus by doing this.

  16. Sutter Cane

    I think the main reason we can’t have legalized marijuana is, as Yves mentions in the post about CDC failures, that the PMC can never admit they were wrong or change anything:

    “A reluctance to change course (as in the appearance of consistency is more important than being effective)”

    This comes down to a (self) protection racket. Why, if they admitted that our past decades of drug policy were wrong, that might open the door to considering what current policies might also be wrong. And what professionals who administer those policies might someday be held to account, even if only by saying “Our predecessors made mistakes” ? (Not that I would ever dream that any criminal charges might result, heaven forbid that kind of accountability be visited upon our PMC)

    No, it simply can’t be done, because admitting any error would call the entire edifice into question.

  17. Carolinian

    Re the Armenian genocide/Intercept

    The lesson here regarding Ukraine is grim, but it should be faced honestly. All of the heartfelt declarations from politicians should be ignored, here as in every case. It is possible that the U.S. will act in ways that benefit Ukrainians. But if so, that will be mere happenstance. Certainly no Ukrainians should be counting on it, and no Americans should believe that’s the goal that’s motivating our government. Powerful countries have far-reaching strategies that they are determined to carry through, and human suffering is not part of the equation.

    Of course one doesn’t have to go as far back as WW1 to talk about ! million dead as that may be the toll, overall, from our invasion of Iraq. At the end of the day the issue is really hypocrisy and the crocodile tears of those who pretend to be humanitarians while acting on the well known imperial principle that nations have “only interests.” Putin himself has been talking about the double standard and comparing what we did to Raqqa in Syria to Russia’s attempted avoidance of civilian destruction in Ukraine.

    1. GramSci

      It was refreshing to read a chapter of history that acknowledged that oil was a prime motivator for WWI. Churchill and the British navy understood full well the potential advantage of oil over coal.

      1. LifelongLib

        In WW1 the U.S. was the world’s largest oil producer. My understanding is that the potential value of Middle East oil wasn’t understood until late in the war.

        1. GramSci

          In March of 1908, after years of difficult conditions and failure, geologist George Bernard Reynolds discovered oil in Persia (modern-day Iran).

          A year later, an oil company in the UK, Burmah Oil, created a subsidiary company to develop oil production in Persia, the Anglo-Persian Oil Company (APOC), which started volume production of oil by 1913.

        2. PlutoniumKun

          Yes – up to WWI Asia was considered the most important source of oil for the British – hence ‘Burmah’ Oil. The naval powers were fully aware by WWI that oil was as crucial a war resource as coal. It was in the years between the two wars that it was discovered that the Middle East was full of oil, but it was only in the post WWII years that the US fully focused on it as a strategic goal.

          In the mid-war years it was the British and French who did everything they could to maintain control (including trying to shut out the US from the Middle East). One of the key strategic reasons for the North African campaigns of WWII was for the Germans (and Italians) to cut off oil supply to the British from what is now Iraq. One of the big ‘what if’s’ of WWII is what would have happened if Hitler had decided to focus on Mesopotanian oil rather than Caucasus oil as his primary strategic objective.

  18. Solarjay

    Batteries of the most common chemistries we use are a toxic mess. They are environmental disasters too.

    Graphite. Yes lots of energy making it, and very little by weight used in a lithium battery. Most of the better life cycle costs include all the components in a battery, so is this article somehow again trying to just be another anti change, batteries bad. If so and I agree then the answer is to use less, which really is smaller batteries, meaning smaller lighter cars ( not the 9000# hummer) or most of the Teslas and probably means hybrid plug in EV. But it’s not being talked about. Tax breaks and govt rebates can dramatically shape the car world. A hybrid car with a max battery size 20 kWh and minimum mileage 60 miles+ would be where I would start. And conversely, cars over a given battery size, and car weight would get no rebate and have a environmental penalty. Yeah right like that will happen.

    A lesser form, carbon is used to greatly increase a lead acid battery life.

    As to recycling lithium batteries. Right now it’s just a very small amount being recycled. Many different types of processes are being looked at. And really not a lot of lithium car batteries have yet to be recycled, which gives some time to hopefully sort it out.
    What’s not well understood is how much of those metals are recyclable? I get different answers every time I look.

    And no battery company is saying anything, which says to me that not much is reusable.

    Form factor of the batteries might play a big factor. Cylindrical ones like Tesla uses should be lots harder than the much larger and plastic case prismatic cells that many others use.
    NMC batteries are unstable and combust with air when damaged, making disassembly kinda complicated, vs LFP which don’t catch on fire when you crush them mailing for a much easier, cheaper process.

    The current battery technology ( NMC, LFP) is really short term with the next ones which will have to be made of less toxic and rare parts. A number of candidates, and lots of money trying to find the wholy grail of chemistries.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Yup. The entire focus on EV’s is wrong – the financial pressure is on building big, powerful ones. There is very little emphasis on making smaller, lighter vehicles and on battery swapping. BMW showed much lighter vehicles could be built with the i3, but somehow threw away their advantage. The weight of battery per vehicle could be dramatically reduced if cars could be built consistently at the weight of, say, a Mark 1 Golf (much less than one tonne), compared to a Mark 5 Golf (1.2 tonnes upward)s – never mind an SUV or truck. The problem is the massive scale of modern cars, not just their drivetrains.

      1. Ignacio

        It might even be the case that those large SUV, the hybrid-pluggable ones, when their batteries run out of power and run on diesel/gasoline, are so heavy and large that they will consume more than a smallish gasoline car if we compute all miles driven by both. A friend of mine complains a lot about how his ginormous hybrid BMW sucks gasoline like crazy. not to mention 99% of the time he drives alone in the monster car…

        1. Oh

          Most of the SUV’s today with their hi compression engines and requirement for premium gasoline are really gas hogs (17 mpg in the city and no more than 25 on the highway). Doesn’t matter whether it’s a toyota, honda or any other. What a waste!

          Teslas are light but the ones that have two motors add to their weight. I imagine that they’ll look shoddy in a few years because they’re built (not sold) cheap.

          1. jsn

            A model 3 weighs 3500 pounds.

            That’s not light. Muscle cars like the Mustang back in the late 60s weighed less than 3000lb and a BMW 2002 weighed in at around 2000lb.

            There were lots of cars back then in the 1500-2000lb weight class. They’ve been on the war subsidized fuel diet ever since, bulking up like high fructose corn syrup fed Americans.

          2. solarjay

            Teslas are HEAVY
            X plaid, 5400#
            X 5100#
            S 4600#
            Y 4400#
            S LR 4100#
            These are massive heavy cars that are backwards from what we need a EV to be: energy and material efficient.

            1. Anthony G Stegman

              Ford is introducing an electric version of the best selling F150 that goes from 0-60 in 4.3 seconds. The weight must be greater than 3 tons. Humans are crazy.

      2. Carolinian

        I’ve read that those Ford trucks now use aluminum body panels to cut down on the enormous weight. My Hyundai makes extensive use of plastic as do most cars these days in order to reduce weight and–probably–cost although the plastic itself may cost more than steel. Where I live it’s amazing how many people drive huge trucks when they could get by just as easily with a car or a car plus a trailer. It’s all about image and marketing and practicality be damned. If we really are having a new oil shock that may change. In the past it has always taken high fuel prices for Americans to show any interest in small vehicles.

        1. Dr. John Carpenter

          Big pickup trucks aren’t just for farmers and rednecks anymore. A while back it dawned on me, as I was walking the parking lot at work, twenty years ago, it probably would have been full of BMWs, Mercedes, Audis, and stuff like that. Now it’s a solid wall of luxury trucks whose hoods are taller than my puny Chevy Trax. All could seat 6 but never do. All have the cleanest beds you could hope to see. I’d don’t know if it’s a regional thing (I’m in the Midwest) but the luxury pickup is the new yuppiemobile.

          1. Carolinian

            My yuppie neighbors, who are not in the construction biz, tend more toward land rover variants or Lexi and of course BMWs since we build them here. However they have their lawn people and those without exception have monster trucks. I doubt we have as many trucks as in Texas where spotting cars on the freeway can be rare. Truck mania probably does increase as you move West.

          2. Glen

            My F-150 just made our once every three month dump run. About 75% recycling, and 25% trash. We compost, or feed the critters with most of our waste. Yesterday it was hauling bricks to make a kiln. It’s nothing fancy, I have been getting the low, low end trucks sold to be Fleet vehicles for over thirty years, no extended cab, or fancy engine, just a work truck.

            Today, I’m using it to go to work. Bummer, not very good milage, but I gave the super mileage ULEV I had been using to our daughter. I see all the big fancy trucks being used for commuting – ouch. That’s got to be pushing $120+ to gas up right now, and diesel is even more!

            Wife and I were discussing today how it would be nice to get a good cheap EV commuter.

  19. Alyosha (was Lex)

    At the time US foreign policy gave up on the realist school the idea of the “arc of instability” took hold in FP intellectual circles (there is no “leftist” FP school in the US and hasn’t been in decades). It’s from this that the idea of splitting everything into small, unstable states sprouts.

    For whatever reason, the ideologues running US foreign policy believe that the small, unstable states will be easier to control. Of course the opposite is true but it does provide a semi-return to the Cold War state of lots of little wars everywhere all the time with plenty of death but none of it on a scale that’s noticed by the American public. It’s also beneficial to US intelligence agencies being able to manipulate situations with small bands of militants while providing an environment that makes it look like the US is getting involved to provide “stability”. While it maintains situations that do not allow any other power to rise to the level required to even contemplate challenging the US.

    Of course the downfall of the concept that like all US foreign policy it makes everything a short term decision without consideration for long term effects of the decision, either first or second order effects.

  20. The Rev Kev

    I’ll say right now that I am seriously impressed with that Basel Zoo elephant having the intelligence to conceive and execute balancing that log atop the other. But there was another time when that idea was not so cute. So a bunch of hunters were out in the African bush when they found themselves being charged by a bull elephant. Fortunately there was a long, sloping rock nearby so these guys ran up it. The elephant followed them of course so the hunters jumped off that small ledge to the ground below. The bull elephant, seeing this and not being able to jump, turned around and ran to the bottom where it ran around the rock to get those guys. But by then the guys had climbed that low edge to the top where the elephant could not get them. The elephant ran back around to climb that ledge but by the time the elephant reached the top, those guys were back on the ground. So then the elephant went around the rock, stopped, went away and returned with a huge log which it tried to use to knock those guys off that ledge. True story that. Very smart elephants are.

    1. ambrit

      Add elephants to the list of tool using “animals.”
      Niven and Pournelle weren’t so far off beam when they had their alien invaders in the book “Footfall” from 1985 be intelligent elephants.

      1. caucus99percenter

        I’m rooting for the evolution of large, intelligent land cephalopods… “One trunk good, eight trunks better!

  21. Wukchumni

    {Lifted from a Reddit thread, found it fascinating-could the Colorado be the canary in the coal mine?}

    This sub is aware of the issues with the Colorado River. Globally it’s a small issue but Flagstaff is kind of an unlikely port town for the 20,000 plus people per year that go Rafting for 6 to 18 days on the Colorado River through Grand Canyon. Generally considered the premier multi day river trip on the world . Last year year saw an exponential increase ( six fold )in injuries and deaths on the river although it’s statistically still pretty safe. This year the River will be lower then almost anyone alive has ever seen it. The Glen canyon dam is close to losing the ability to generate power . Once that happens they don’t know if the infrastructure of the dam will be able to work again if by some miracle it somehow gets more water in the future.

    Page Arizona and much of the Navajo reservation will lose all electricity when that happens and there is no back up plan . They just announced further unanticipated cuts in the river later this month . Lake Mead has already been post apocalyptic for well over decade . The Colorado River on Lake Mead now flows below the dry barren bottom of what was the lake for miles .Most accrued knowledge of how to navigate the river through Grand Canyon will go out the window at the low flows this summer . There is an expectation for a dramatic increase on the water accidents . The era of epic whitewater and Grand Canyon river trips looks to be rapidly drawing to a close.

    It’s incredibly dry here . It’s already the worst drought in over 1200 years , worse then the dry spell that wiped out the anasazi culture , famous for eerie abandoned cliff dwellings and Chaco Canyon . The town is at seven thousand feet in the largest ponderous pine forest in the world . In the nineties it snowed pretty much every October and often into April. We are supposed to average over 100 inches of snow but this year we had basically one significant snow fall at New Years . Real estate is gone insane, air BnB s are taking over and the town is basically unaffordable unless you already own your home or bring cash from somewhere else .

    The collective memory of what winter was like in the nineties is largely gone, most current residents don’t even believe people who describe what is like here climactically in the early days of Brittany Spear’s career. Desert animals like the Javelina that were unheard of are now endemic . It’s like the town has dropped 3000 feet in elevation in 20 years .

    1. The Rev Kev

      ‘Once that happens they don’t know if the infrastructure of the dam will be able to work again if by some miracle it somehow gets more water in the future.’

      Any idea what they mean by that? Does that dam need the pressure of water against it to maintain its integrity?

      1. chris

        Not sure. Things like penstocks could be a problem if they stay dry for too long. Turbines and such may need overhauls if they’re taken offline due to lack of consistent use. The foundation of the dam and surrounding structures may be effected by the lack of water. I’m sure there’s a report on what the concerns would be if the water levels dropped too much. But from that description it’s not clear what they’re talking about other than the people who are relying on that energy are screwed. And just in time for demand to spike due to AC use…

        This might be a fun game people in the commentariat can play: the value of a desert property with no access to water is effectively zero. There are good odds significant parts of AZ/NM/NV will have no surface or ground water access in the next 10 years. So how many 30 year mortgages that have been securitized into various bonds for MBS purposes which include mortgages that are at risk of being completely devalued over the term of the loan? Is there a firm that is even considering that kind of near term risk in its pricing and purchasing decisions?

      2. Bart Hansen

        It might be moving parts seizing up due to not being lubed by use. It happened to our gasoline generator when I neglected to run it periodically. We had a tough time getting the crankshaft to break free.

    2. Questa Nota

      AirBnB Index, a predictor of accelerating crapification.
      Can that have a meme stock component?
      Asking for a friend.

  22. Smith, M.J.

    Yesterday a local hospital began running full page “We Stand With Ukraine” ads in the Houston Chronicle. Funny, I don’t recall seeing any hospital ads supporting Yemen, Libya, Syria, Afghanistan, or Iraq during their humanitarian crises. Guess you are not a worthy victim if your problems come from a U.S. gun or U.S. invasion.’s-hospital-announces-global-initiative-help-ukrainians-humanitarian-and-medical-needs

    Big Medicine using faux virtue-signaling to generate revenue off of war. Despicable.

    1. Carla

      Guess you are not a worthy victim if your people are black, brown or Muslim. Only blondes count. European Christians are all honorary, if not actual, blondes.

      Yes, despicable indeed.

      You know, that this would be the case in Texas does not surprise me. But my long-time “leftist” friends in Ohio and points east spouting pro-Ukrainian propaganda and refusing to hear a word of any opposing view whatsoever — refusing to admit that there could even BE another point of view — that surprises me. I’m not talking about “liberals,” but about people who were free-speech activists not so long ago. It is shocking, sad and very scary.

      It does make me all the more grateful for Yves, Lambert, Jeri-Lynn and the NC Commentariat.

  23. CaliDan

    After Years of Failure on Gun Control, Democrats Push More Police Funding Intercept

    “Amid a spike in gun violence, Democrats have blamed progressive members of the party who favor more substantive police reform for risking midterm chances and alienating voters.” [Emphasis my own]

    Aha! So, the mere suggestion of reform is what’s gonna bring down the Dems this coming midterm. Duly noted.

    Related and also a very good read, “Broken & Bankrupt: The NRA in 2021,” from NRA Watch. One main takeaway is that “the NRA couldn’t even file bankruptcy correctly.”

  24. ALM

    The reason that the Democrats have a culture war problem is the same reason that Republicans invest heavily in culture war issues. For both parties, policies that provide material benefits to voters are off the table because the donor class will not allow it. The only thing left is culture war issues. Regarding the Democratic Party in particular, the fact that even with control of the government, congressional Democrats refuse to raise the minimum wage and give Medicare the authority to negotiate drug prices – two wildly popular policies that they have been campaigning on for many years – reflects the deep corruption of the party of the people. This, rather than woke-ism and elitist snobbery is the essential problem in my view. It is not that Democrats’ core economic message disappears when cultural issues dominate but rather that Democrats’ core economic message has proved to be complete b.s.

    1. GramSci

      I had a problem with this assertion:

      Non-elite parents value obedience more than creativity: Being disruptive may help Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, but among non-elites, it just gets you fired.

      Outside of (and often inside of) a narrow specialization, twenty years of schooling teaches little more than obedience. Trump bad! Putin bad! is nothing more than the blind expression of PMC obedience to fashion and authority.

      1. jr

        This assertion conflates disruption with creativity. This notion is a veil used to mask the abuse of power, of violence, to achieve one’s goals. “Move fast and break things!” isn’t creativity, it’s a re-writing of “Might makes right.” It’s the equivalent of bombing a country back to the Stone Age in order to “create” a democracy.

  25. ryan

    love that the guy heralding tail risk for ages now thinks it’s fun to flirt with nuclear holocaust. sharp one.. I guess portfolios are the only thing that need to be robust, not human civilization. clearly level headed and sober thinking from taleb.

  26. CoryP

    Funniest shit ever. The official AZOV BATTALION Telegram Channel has this to say on April 18th:

    Now this channel is under the jurisdiction of the Russian Ministry of Defense.
    The former owners have been detained and are facing trial for sedition against the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics, as well as for inciting violence against civilians and military personnel of the Russian Federation. They were also involved in targeted harassment campaigns on civilians and supporters of the Russian Federation.
    Your path to truth begins here.”

  27. Lee Too

    A recommended read from the NYRB, probably under the category of “Imperial Collapse Watch” (but quite possibly pay-walled):

    This is a high-level discussion of the background for US war-making-on-a-whim. What struck me was the suggestion that anti-war sentiment has actually been blunted, effectively, by the concern with war “crimes” (the wars themselves being taken for granted). And the article includes what I thought was an interesting factoid: “More than 80 percent of all US military interventions abroad since 1946 came after 1989.”

    It was encouraging to see this article from this source. When I first encountered the NYRB, back in its early years, it was always a bracing, valuable read, on just about any topic including current affairs. In recent years, its articles on the latter subject have appeared to be channeling the DNC. I dropped my print subscription for that reason a few years ago, while keeping online access for the Review’s rich archives.

  28. Karl

    RE: Hologram Doctors Beamed to Space Station to Visit Astronauts

    OK, I can see 3D holograms transmitted from afar, plus virtual touch (“haptics”) combining for the next generation of digital porn:

    “Furthermore, we will combine augmented reality with haptics,” Schmid said. Haptics refers to technology that can simulate touch through things like vibrations or motors.

    1. WobblyTelomeres

      Read a sci-fi short story about that very thing. Society collapsed right after “touch” was added to porn. Harlan Ellison?

  29. Tomfoolery

    Re Orwell & Culture War

    Orwell and the author are clearly right, but I think they’re still only hitting the surface of the issue. Namely, that the “woke” / “judgmental” turn is anathema to the solidarity and trust needed for large programs (single payer) or required sacrifice (climate programs).

    I.e., if I’m a trucker and have seen how quickly I can get cut off from insurance/banking/livelihood for having wrong opinions, why would I want single payer where now I risk my healthcare getting cut off as well?

    I know I’m preaching to the choir here, but to be for efforts that require collective action and sacrifice, the Left really needs to make the preachy/judgmental/cancelling folks persona non grata. It’s an asymmetric issue and unfair, but the R’s don’t have the same problem because they have no ambitions for government or other collection action.

    I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that the PMC and billionaires are at the front of the woke train after all.

    1. Oh

      I.e., if I’m a trucker and have seen how quickly I can get cut off from insurance/banking/livelihood for having wrong opinions, why would I want single payer where now I risk my healthcare getting cut off as well?

      Doesn’t the trucker realize healthcare he has is tightly bound to insurance? Single payer may be less liable to being cut off if it’s run by the government.

      1. jsn

        Twas the government that just cut off truckers private bank account and private insurance.

        The more power is concentrated the more subject to abuse.

        Public goods should be provided free and locally with structures to share best practices. Well designed institutions aren’t simple, but generally appear that way.

        1. caucus99percenter

          Yes, it seems as if Oh did not pick up on your reference to the concrete and very recent case of Trudeau’s power play against, not just the protesting Canadian truckers, but anyone who donated even a trivial amount to them and wished them well.

  30. RobertC


    This report has been true for decades and the various causative factors basically began in the 1990s and worsened since then. And the nature of those factors are such that the Navy has no means to reduce much less correct them.

    GAO summarized three of their Big Four challenges (Crew/Workforce shortages; High operational tempo/scheduling; and Limited maintenance repair training) as

    The Navy relies upon the limited number of experienced, qualified crewmembers onboard ships and sailors at shore-based maintenance providers. These personnel must perform well at high operational tempos and while working long hours, and must also provide effective on-the-job training to new or inexperienced sailors.

    GAO is too diffident — the situation is dire.

    About a decade ago, I was invited to join a group of engineers visiting a Navy ship docked in Hawaii. I wasn’t responsible for any of the systems on the ship but did have an interest in several of them as they comprised a portion of the global network we were responsible for. After visiting the compartments for several of those systems, we ended up in one compartment which was the special interest of the engineers who invited me. They began discussing their system with the Navy technicians.

    Some context. I was the only one wearing a coat and tie. Not being one of the system’s engineers I stood outside the scrum. But I did ask questions — how did this system work with the other systems in other compartments; how did they coordinate operations; how did they coordinate fault isolation and service restoration. Around this time, one of the technicians realized how dangerous I was and went for his senior chief.

    The senior chief entered the compartment and watched me with hard eyes but did not stop my questions.

    There was one standout ET2 who I directed my attention to. When the problem was isolated to the other system, did you visit to assist? Yes. Did you receive training on that system? No. What usually was the problem? Operating system configurations. What operating systems? Several. Did you receive training on those operating system? No — I learned them on my own. What percentage of your daily time do you spend on your ET2 responsibilities? 25% What are your tasks for the remaining 75%? Kitchen and cleaning duties, etc. What are your plans for the future? Finish my four years and work in the civilian world.

    I couldn’t go any further. I asked for an escort to the gangway and told the group I would wait for them there.

    And repeating this story still hurts today.

    1. RobertC

      Today’s example at DefenseOne The Military’s 5G Gear Could Be Obsolete When It’s Fielded Time to market” is the Navy’s chief digital innovation officer’s biggest 5G concern, after security.

      “5G is, I would say, not innately insecure, but it’s another network to secure. And zero trust is a piece of that,” said Michael Galbraith, the Navy’s chief digital innovation officer, during a Cloudera and Fedscoop event on April 19. “So security is big…And then just given my background, probably the most important concern I have is time to market. It’s not not a term you hear a lot in DOD.”

      And this is for easy-peasy shore facilities!

    2. The Rev Kev

      Those poor swabbies. And if anything goes wrong, they will be hung out to dry. That wasn’t a system that you were describing. That is what happens when you don’t have a system in place.

    3. Old Sarum

      I love to learn about the nitty-gritty of supposedly superb organizations – especially the sort that have mission statements. That one is a cracker!

      Mine-sweepers all round.


  31. Maritimer

    “Telegram now wants too much personal information.”
    I looked at Telegram and came to the same conclusion. I find it remarkable that folks look for an alternative and then, at least, are just jumping from the frying pan into another frying pan. I did find one anti-social media site where only an email was required.

    I also find it remarkable that folks so readily use ZOOM with links to Communist China. For starters, I imagine Chinese Financial Engineers massaging all the aggregate data they gather and taking the pulse of US business and exploiting opportunities. I know of a non-profit that does all its communicating by ZOOM, one of the recent subjects was Privacy and Security!

    1. CoryP

      I’m not particularly keen on having apps that function as spyware. But in recent conversations about privacy someone was complaining about GMAIL’s two-factor authentication which requires a phone number. But the problem is Google is already reading all your emails and likely already knows your phone number so I’m not sure its a privacy win to disable 2FA.
      (I use gmail and I hate it but I’ve been too lazy to fully migrate my stuff to my local ISP email)

      I dont mean this as a criticism at all but I’m curious about the infosec philosophy of this site’s hosts. It has obviously been seriously thought out. But I mean, we have Yves and Lambert’s legal names and I also have Yves’ current physical address. Maybe I’m just so cavalier about my data that I don’t understand… But I feel like our hosts are plenty exposed already.

      (Caveat: I’m a millennial and a former tech enthusiast and have given my personal info to countless entities before realizing that was a bad idea)

  32. RobertC


    When you’re the 90-year-old founder and retired CEO of TSMC you can say whatever you want…and Morris Chang does at the Brookings Institution as reported by The Register Growing US chip output an ‘expensive exercise in futility’, warns TSMC founder Production talent isn’t here, costs are high … so how’s that multi-billion-dollar Arizona plant coming, eh?

    …The US has a ready supply of design talent, “it’s the best in the world,” Chang said. “Taiwan has very little design talent, and TSMC has absolutely none.” But to develop and grow a successful chip manufacturing industry, the US will need to address its own serious fabrication talent shortages, he opined

    That’s not all: Chang said that costs for manufacturing in the US are simply prohibitive, and TSMC has the data to prove it thanks to 25 years of manufacturing at its plant in Oregon. Chang said the plant is profitable, but expansion plans have all but been abandoned.

    …Chang added that TSMC tried multiple arrangements of American and foreign employees to staff its Oregon plant, but without much reduction in costs.

  33. RobertC


    I pushed Post too soon: AsiaTimes also reported that Morris Chang TSMC founder doubts US competence in chip-making Taiwanese semiconductor giant’s founder warns of rocky road for the company’s new $12 billion manufacturing plant in Arizona

    A delightful read with many insights. Recommended. Should strike fear into the hearts of COMPETES Act/US Innovation and Competition Act and Make-In-India cheerleaders.

  34. Left in Wisconsin

    Late to the party as usual but thanks for posting the Verge interview with the ex-Foxconn exec. Very, very interesting… and raises as many questions as it answers, firstly why is this person now a UW-Madison professor? Not questioning his credentials, but no one gets hired just on credentials anymore.

    Also, agree with above about excellent links and commentary in this edition.

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