Links 4/25/2022

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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New York launches a campaign for citizens to access books banned in other states Euro 25. The Brooklyn and now the New York public libraries.

John Adams’ Fear Has Come to Pass David French, The Dispatch


When the Earth Started to Sing Emergence

What Can One Disease Do to a Landscape? The Atlantic

In his new book, Neil Hamilton lets the land speak for itself The Gazette

A gold rush in the deep sea raises questions about the authority charged with protecting it Los Angeles Times

Stumbling Toward “Day Zero” on the Colorado River Audobon (Wukchumni).


White House official: US must respond to rising COVID-19 cases ‘with care and caution, but not overreacting’ The Hill. So awesome.

We’re Toying With a Ruinous End to COVID Travel Masking MedPage Today

The Drive to Vaccinate the World Against Covid Is Losing Steam NYT. Everything’s going according to plan.

* * *

COVID-19 Vaccination and Estimated Public Health Impact in California JAMA. Findings: ” In this modeling study using data from the California Department of Public Health, COVID-19 vaccination was estimated to have prevented more than 1.5 million COVID-19 cases, 72 000 hospitalizations, and 19 000 deaths during the first 10 months of vaccination, through October 16, 2021.”

Durability of BNT162b2 vaccine against hospital and emergency department admissions due to the omicron and delta variants in a large health system in the USA: a test-negative case–control study The Lancet. n = 11,123 hospital or ER admissions. From the InterpretationL “Three doses of BNT162b2 [Pfizer] conferred high protection against hospital and emergency department admission due to both the delta and omicron variants in the first 3 months after vaccination. However, 3 months after receipt of a third dose, waning was apparent against SARS-CoV-2 outcomes due to the omicron variant, including hospital admission.”

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The Race to Reduce Covid-19 Transmission: An Update on 67 Intranasal & 6 Oral Vaccines Hilda Bastian, Absolutely Maybe. From March, still highly germane.

Nasal COVID-19 vaccine trials held at Vizag Institute Deccan Chronicle


‘Urgent and grim’: Beijing on Covid-19 alert after sudden rash of cases South China Morning Post

Three Sinovac Doses Fail to Protect Against Omicron in Study Bloomberg

China’s Covid strictures scupper hopes of property revival FT


Junta forces ‘making locals’ lives miserable’ as violence engulfs central Myanmar Myanmar Now. The rainy season is a month off.

How the Coup Shattered the Image of Myanmar’s Military The Diplomat. Note the extremely equivocal role played by Aung San Suu Kyi.


Shop of man with no hands razed for ‘rioting’ in MP India Today


Macron reelected but Le Pen’s big score shows France increasingly divided Politico

Marcron v. Le Pen: What the French election means for the US Responsible Statecraft

Mélenchon to ally with Greens, PCF, NPA in French legislative election WSWS. What a debacle:

Deep in Macron Country New Statesman

Janez Janša suffers heavy defeat as newcomer party wins Slovenian election Politico

New Not-So-Cold War

Large fire at oil depot in Russia’s Bryansk, near Ukraine Reuters. Commentary:

US a ‘co-belligerent’ in Ukraine war, legal expert says Asia Times

Ukraine Latest: Blinken, Austin Pledge More Aid on Kyiv Trip Bloomberg. I don’t want to be cranky about this, but we don’t know where the “aid” is ending up, and we especially don’t know how much Ukraine is selling to third parties.

Ukraine wants large amount of equipment for its nuclear power plants, IAEA says Reuters. From not especially reliable authority, we hear that Ukraine cut back on nuclear power plant maintenance after the 2014 coup, preferring the spend the money on weapons. Simultaneosly they cranked the plants hard. Not reassuring. If any readers can fill in the blanks on this story, that would be great.

* * *

Sitrep: Operation Z The Saker

The battle for Donbas: ‘the real test of this war’ FT

Will Russia Win the War for the Donbas? The National Interest

US narrative won’t survive defeat in Donbass Indian Punchline

Are there still Russian soldiers in Belarus? Deutsche Welle

War in Ukraine, by the numbers Duffel Blog

* * *

​EU says pay for Russian gas in euros to avoid breaching sanctions Reuters but EU admits rouble payments for Putin’s gas might not breach sanctions Telegraph

Russia poised to exploit Mongolia on Soyuz–Vostok pipeline BNE Intellinews

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How Not To Report On Ukraine Moon of Alabama

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Holding Putin Accountable Would Require an Actual Rules-Based World Order Jacobin

Germany has a special responsibility to stop Putin’s evil FT

Seven Decades of Nazi Collaboration: America’s Dirty Little Ukraine Secret Foreign Policy in Focus. From 2014, still germane.

Russia to deploy Sarmat missiles by autumn in ‘historic’ nuclear upgrade Reuters

Zeitgeist Watch

Column: Amid increasing abuse, officials flee youth sports AP (Re Silc).

Supply Chain

Tech firms rip apart NEW washing machines so they can harvest their computer parts in a bid to beat the global microchip shortage Daily Mail (dk).


I helped Indigenous peoples beat Chevron in court and they put me on house arrest. It didn’t work. Stephen Donziner


Why more people of color are buying guns Axios

Guillotine Watch

The Air-Ambulance Vultures New York Magazine

WeWork’s Adam and Rebekah Neumann: Where Are They Now? Vanity Fair. Read all the way to the end.

Kid Who Used to Drown Guests in RollerCoaster Tycoon Now Thriving at McKinsey Hard Drive

Class Warfare

Amazon union could face a tough road ahead after victory AP (Re Silc).

Microbiome experts warn of an ‘invisible extinction’ of gut bacteria that’s harming human health Post-Gazette

Antidote du Jour (via):

Bonus Antidote:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. The Rev Kev

    “Germany has a special responsibility to stop Putin’s evil”

    I’m not sure what this Constanze Stelzenmüller wants Germany to do. Looking at her Wikipedia page, she seems to have positioned herself as an expert on Germany with outlets like the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Brookings Institution. Maybe what she wants to happen is for the Bundeswehr to jump into their tanks and charge ahead to Moscow to teach them a lesson or something. Let me know how that works out-

    1. voislav

      Yeah, the problem with that is that Bundeswehr and other European armies have almost no combat capability. Bundeswehr has less than 200 operational tanks and little ability to supply a sizable fighting force in the field. As we’ve seen with Russia, it’s not how many troops can you put in the field, but how many can you keep supplied for more than a few days.

      European armies in general have almost zero logistics capability. Russia has largely eliminated Ukrainian rail capability, so any forces fielded in Ukraine will have to be supplied by road from Poland. Ukrainian army is having to do the same right now with great difficulty.

      1. Anthony G Stegman

        How is it that Blinken and Austin travelled by rail from Poland to Kyiv? Apparently, Russia has not destroyed Ukraine’s rail lines. In fact, it does not appear that Russia has destroyed anything of value in Ukraine. Zelensky continues to move about freely and entertain guests whenever he wishes to do so. This begs the question – what is Russia exactly doing in Ukraine?

        1. Polar Socialist

          According to both Ukraine and Russia about 9-10 hours ago Russia destroyed 6 railway hubs in western and central Ukraine. All having been used to deliver weapons to Donbass area. Mostly they hit the electric grid systems and communications, but also tracks were damaged.

        2. Vandemonian

          Boris Johnson also visited Zelensky in Kiev, and travelled from Poland by train.

          I did read (but can’t confirm) that he completed the 14 hour round trip in about three hours, and was safely back in Brize Norton in time for tea.

          The popular belief on certain Telegram channels is that Zelensky is safely ensconced in Poland, and hasn’t been near Kiev for a few weeks.

          1. jrkrideau

            John Helmer at Dancing With Bears has been arguing this for some time I think he makes a very good though not completely water-tight case. I do have a problem with a the UK PM and two senior US Cabinet Ministers being allowed by their security people to waltz into a war zone.

    2. clem

      “There is no more neutrality in the world. You either have to be part of the solution, or you’re going to be part of the problem.”

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        ” There are two kinds of people in the world. People who say ‘there are two kinds of people in the world’ . . . and the other kind.”

        1. The Rev Kev

          ‘My wife says that I have two faults. One is that I don’t listen to her. The second is something else.’

    1. Stick'em

      re: Microbiome experts warn of an ‘invisible extinction’ of gut bacteria harming human health

      Our drive to improve our lives by killing critters with vaccines/antibiotics/sanitation raised the average life expectancy from ~35 years at the time America was founded, to ~75 years lately. We now live twice from the vantage of 1800s humans. Simply incredible when you think about it. No wonder we don’t really know what to do with all these extra people.

      Thing is, maybe we’ve gotten too good at it for our own good. Antimicrobial resistance to antibiotics is a real thing:

      I dunno exactly what we’ve done to our digestive systems in the process, but it is fascinating to hear of dedicated field scientists studying the gut flora/fauna of people with more primative diets. still… glad it ain’t my job!

      1. LifelongLib

        Most of the increase in life expectancy was from a reduction in the horrific child mortality rate. There are 19th century letters where the death of a child rates a paragraph of condolence, biographies where half or fewer of even a wealthy person’s children reach adulthood. What we think of as an extraordinary catastrophe was for them routine.

        1. Stick'em

          “Olivia, my eldest daughter, caught measles when she was seven years old. As the illness took its usual course, I can remember reading to her often in bed and not feeling particularly alarmed about it. Then one morning, when she was well on the road to recovery, I was sitting on her bed showing her how to fashion little animals out of coloured pipe-cleaners, and when it came to her turn to make one herself, I noticed that her fingers and her mind were not working together and she couldn’t do anything.

          “Are you feeling all right?” I asked her.

          “I feel all sleepy,” she said.

          In an hour, she was unconscious. In twelve hours she was dead.

          The measles had turned into a terrible thing called measles encephalitis and there was nothing the doctors could do to save her. That was years ago in 1962, but even now, if a child with measles happens to develop the same deadly reaction from measles as Olivia did, there would still be nothing the doctors could do to help her.

          On the other hand, there is today something parents can do to make sure that this sort of tragedy does not happen to a child of theirs. They can insist their child is immunized against measles. I was unable to do that for Olivia in 1962 because in those days a reliable measles vaccine had not been discovered. Today a good and safe vaccine is available to every family and all you have to do is to ask your doctor to administer it.”

          ~ Roald Dahl

          1. LifelongLib

            I was born in 1956 (around the same time as Roald Dahl’s daughter). Growing up I had measles, mumps, chicken pox, flu several times, and more colds than I can remember. These were all considered routine childhood illnesses. I didn’t find out that some could be crippling or even fatal until much later.

            1. foghorn longhorn

              Born in 58, same experience, had some kind of encephalitis (sleeping sickness, mom always called it), and was one sick pup.
              Remember the Dr. making two house visits. Very rare in the mid 60s.
              Did not realize it could have been fatal.

              1. orlbucfan

                Whew, born in 1952 here. I had them all: measles, mumps, and the worse one: chicken pox. Topped it off with a very severe liver infection called jaundice. I was out of school for several weeks with it; and yes, your skin turns yellow. I hate antibiotics with a vengeance. Studied diet, nutrition, exercise therapy, and other general human body medical info with a passion. It has paid off big time, glad to say. ?

                1. Dictynna

                  I was among the last cohort of children in my state to have the measles…a miserable illness that I still remember decades later. Thankfully I didn’t get the encephalitis.
                  My two younger siblings go the vaccination, and didn’t have to suffer as I did.

                2. lance ringquist

                  born same year, had them all including the infectious hepatitis or jaundice.

                  turned me yellow. there were seven kids in my grade school that got it. it was traced to one student who got his drink out of a drinking fountain, six kids were behind him waiting their turns, i was one of them. the state health department traced it.

                  i got very sick, out for almost two months. the school wanted to hold me back, but my mom and dad said no, and i ended up catching up.

                3. Pat

                  56 here, and also had almost all of them, including both types of measles. Let me tell you, German measles on the bottom of your feet is miserable. But no jaundice, the rarest of my childhood infections was scarlatina aka scarlet fever although my mother thought it was a milder form, I don’t know why.

                  It is true that I still don’t know how lucky I was, at least most of the time. Learning of a child who died of complications from some illness I weathered almost always brings me up short.

    2. Tater

      Chewing the fat here, but I had the same gut reaction. Honest. So please don’t bellyache about my ruminating redundancy and instead make an effort to digest the intestinal fortitude it took to say so. Burp (excuse me!).

      1. Bart Hansen

        Well, good, as it takes real gall to admit that sometimes venting one’s spleen in public will make a faux pas pass quickly and soon be forgotten.

    3. CanCyn

      This is only n=3 but I have two good friends and a work colleague all with autoimmune disease and all 3 had childhood illness for which they were heavily dosed with antibiotics. I also know someone who was treated with a poop transplant for C. difficile. Seems to me these researchers are on the right track. However, like many ‘natural’ remedies, I suspect that there is no money in it for big pharma, so not a lot of money being invested in research.
      People who are known as super poopers donate their poop for processing into something that can be transplanted. From a 2019 Popular Science article:
      Just search FMT or fecal matter transplant for more info.
      Have to agree with Stick’em – glad it ain’t my job!

      1. Milton

        Kind of related…
        I visited an allergist last week to see all of the foods and environmental factors that are the reasons for my chronic sinusitis and associated polyps. Well to my surprise, I had no allergies to any of the test items introduced in the form of skin pricks. As is normal (according to the doctor), I had minor reactions but none that could be construed as an allergy. But the biggest surprise was the result that I had no penicillin allergy. For my entire life, I had Allergic to Penicillin! on all medical and dental charts. My doctor told me that up to 95% of supposed penicillin allergies are misdiagnosed and that there were other reasons for the medical emergency that caused the original anaphylaxis-too high of a dose being a major cause. Needless to say, this news blew me away. In two weeks I go in and receive a dose of amoxycillin while being monitored for ant adverse reaction. I’m sure there are other readers here that have lived through my experiences with antibiotics and having to use only the tetracycline family as a treatment.

        1. Bart Hansen

          Be aware of something called Amox clav. It’s a turbo antibiotic that may kill all the bacteria in your lower gut.

          1. playon

            As I have become older, I’ve noticed antibiotics tend to mess up my gut. When I was in my 40s and 50s (and younger) they didn’t seem to affect me as much. Now I avoid them them unless absolutely necessary and have not been prescribed any for ten years. The last time was taking two courses of Cipro while in Bangkok as I contracted a terrible sinus infection from the air pollution there. Affected my digestion for about a week. Yogurt and the like can be difficult to find in Thailand.

            1. Yves Smith

              I’m not allergic but penicillin and any of its derivatives make me feel like crap, so I have take a lot of clindamycin (as in I now that I have fake hips I have to take a one shot dose around any dentistry, even a cleaning, plus I have had my wisdom teeth extracted late in life and a couple of implants due to earlier root canals breaking my teeth, which was predictable given the use of screws back then). Once I took 3 courses in a row because reasons. Clindamycin can produce C difficile, which is super nasty and multiple courses make it way more likely. But I was the queen of pro-biotics: yogurt, kombucha, and lactic acid yeast (the latter is not a probiotic but helps improve gut PH so as to help growth of good bacteria).

              So n=1 but still a good outcome.

              Other foods considered to be gut friendly are krauts/kimchee (again good bacteria) and other foods that are supposed to be good for your gut, like sweet potatoes, chia and flax seeds, beans and legumes, oatmeal. Also important to avoid refined flour and sugar and be sparing with red meat consumption.

              1. Paleobotanist

                I am allergic to both penicillin and sulfa drugs. This means a lot of clindamycin which can cause a C. difficile infection. I am battling a C. difficile infection right now since New Years. It is definitely something to really, really avoid. It put me in hospital and is refusing to go away. Please be very careful with clindamycin, Yves. C. dificile is no joke.

        2. Maritimer

          “My doctor told me that up to 95% of supposed penicillin allergies are misdiagnosed….”
          Wow! If that is true across the medical board, get a prepaid funeral. I had an iconoclastic Doc years ago who looked at my cardio records and pointed out all the errors and contradictions. The Guy saved my bacon.

          For anything other than an immediately life threatening situation, DYI keyboard hammering is in order. I’ve done a bit myself and found some amazing and helpful info. It was that iconoclastic Doc who encouraged me to do my own research and participate in my own healthcare. What a refreshing attitude!

      2. BeliTsari

        2yrs PASC autoimmune symptoms: PMC partner: treated decades for GERD, BP & allergies to basically EVERYTHING. Poor, redneck partner: eats ANYTHING spent 4 decades in mills, boilers, scary motels. She ‘gets’ C diff. Otherwise, kinda similar PASC, both D614.g & BA.1? I’d returned to a pre-biotic, phyto-polyphenol rich diet, but she’s NYC take-out, Zabar’s & WHITE carb Diet. Lithospermum Erythrorhizon next. Omicron’s diverticulosis/ sinusitis adding insult to injury (maskless churls pontificating, how “everything’s back to NORMAL, live with it” & will NEVER again have to hear about our debilitation, death, debt or our psychosomatic malingering.

    4. barefoot charley

      I got nothin’ but anecdata: after a 30-day round of antibiotics to defeat Lyme disease, I pooped ever more sporadically, down to every 3 or 4 days. My wife was getting great results from a gut-biota physician so I signed up for a now months-long regime of probiotics and supplements, while avoiding foods that feed bad biota: carbs, sugar and alcohol, alas. I now poop almost too punctually every morning. In my case yeast had flourished in place of good gut bugs, so an additional regime of empty-stomach Grapfruit Seed Extract every morning focused on taking them out. All I know is, it’s working.

      1. CanCyn

        Good to hear about your recovery BC … we live in the tick capital of Ontario and I admit to being more than a little fearful about Lyme disease and the antibiotic treatment. We have just been prescribed what our GP calls the morning after pill … a double dose of antibiotics to be taken within 24 hours of a tick bite. Apparently this has been helpful in preventing full blown Lyme disease. Sorry, all done by phone so I don’t know the name of the antibiotics, will update after we pick them up if anyone is interested. My goal is still to avoid the bite but I will be working clearing underbrush and planting native plants in our small woodlot this year so a bite may be inevitable. I got heck from our vet for picking up the dog’s tick treatment so ‘late’ this year – in early April! They are advising starting in early March as they are seeing tick bites from March to November when it used to be May to September. Thank you climate change. And last, if dogs have preventative meds, why don’t we humans?

        1. Janie

          Near Portland, Oregon, heartworm preventative (IVM) and flea and tick are now given year round.

      2. Grateful Dude

        chiming in late. My wife and I won’t take antibiotics anymore. I took them twice for Lyme 15 and 12 years ago; two years following I just fell out. Couldn’t work, took a leave of absence and suffered. Diagnosis? Chronic Lyme. Heard about a homeopath who specializes in Lyme treatment, with quite a few happy patients, and sure enough, it took six months and a slough of remedies, but it worked. I know, I know, Homeopathy is the epitome of quackery, right. I’m a believer. A friend was able to heal, ie cure, macular degeneration with homeopathy. Try believing that for a minute.

        Pharmaceuticals are ‘patent medicine’: no patent, no profit.This means in general that they are synthetic chemicals that our metabolisms are not familiar with and may not be able to break down easily … plus whatever chemicals are mixed in. Toxic in other words.

        Please correct me if I’m mistaken.

    5. Geo

      It is! I passed it along to some film distributors I know in the hopes the documentary they’ve made on the subject can gain an audience.

  2. Safety First

    Absolutely fascinating info from a WSJ podcast about how the Europeans are increasing imports of Russian crude while getting around the sanctions:

    You have to scroll down a bit (look for “Anna Hirtenstein”, she’s the reporter on the story), but the idea is – a Russian tanker leaves port with crude onboard with “destination unknown”; they meet a half-full non-Russian tanker somewhere at sea; transfer the crude to the non-Russian vessel to make a so-called “Latvian blend”; and as long as the Russian crude is under 50% of the blend, it counts, as, err, “good” oil and can be resold in Rotterdam or whatever.

    As I keep insisting, we are unlikely to see the real impact of the sanctions regime on the Russian economy until months and months from now, when we have a full handle on any sanction-avoidance schemes that are put into place and permitted to flourish, rhetoric notwithstanding.

    1. Polar Socialist

      The same works with gas, too. And once you have a batch of “Latvian blend” that is good, fine and perfectly legal, you can mix it with another batch of illegal Russian to make it legit again.
      Repeat until you have as much as you need.

      The fraction between Russian and original could be 4/1 or even 9/1 but it’s now non-Russian energy ready to be consumed. Almost as if even the most brash government intervention can’t prevent the invisible hand of the markets for supplying when there’s a demand…

      1. Paul Beard

        I hear homeopathy is popular in Germany. Surely passing Russian gas through German pipes could produce homeopathic German gas. The percussion aspect could be a little iffy though.

  3. NL

    Posted on Verso blog on April 22nd two interviews:

    ‘It’s time for a general riposte’: Pierre Chaillan, Interview with Alain Badiou


    ‘Mélenchon has mobilised an electorate that had stopped voting’

    Didier Eribon, sociologist and supporter of Jean-Luc Melenchon’s campaign, on the causes of the rise of the far right, and the challenges facing La France Insoumise in durably re-establishing left ideas.

    1. David

      Both of these are worth reading, notably for the analysis of the failure of the Left, and the interviewees’ failure to understand Le Pen. Badiou is an old Maoist who hasn’t changed that much since the 1960s, and for a decade or more has been pushing the idea that only a revival of classic Communism can really be an alternative to capitalism. This paragraph struck me:
      “This protest against capitalism is largely fictitious. The word ‘capitalism’ is uttered, but in the internal culture of demands and protests. There is a rather abstract general negation of the existing order, of the government, without the slightest real proposal, the slightest overall vision of what should replace the criticised order. In politics, pure negation is never significant. I say this all the more because I have practised it myself! In order to be in a position of fruitful criticism of the opponent, the protest must carry an alternative. Otherwise, the response will always be that there is no other way and we will find ourselves disarmed. It is very harmful to reduce Marxism to a critical enterprise.”

      Which is, of course, precisely what the Left has done since the 1980s. Badious’s criticism reflect the long-standing historic disagreement between the Communists, who favoured revolutionary action, and the Socialists, who favoured reform. Badiou, as a good Leninist, is all in favour of action.

      The interview with Eribon should perhaps have said that he was a friend and biographer of Michel Foucault, which explains the curious argument that it was not the influence of Foucault, Bordieu etc. which destroyed the French Left, by turning it away from economic issues towards social ones, but rather the reaction to those thinkers. Again, it’s important to understand what the “mobilisation” of new voters means. These voters are very largely Muslim youths in places like Saint-Denis, who voted very heavily for Mélenchon because, frankly, they were told to. Like the Christian Church historically in some countries, imams in France play a political role, and their influence over how their flock votes is often substantial. It was reported before the first round the Mélenchon’s lieutenants had been visiting imams to get their endorsement, in return for unspecified favours. What those favours might be, we’ll see at the Parliamentary elections in June.

    2. hemeantwell

      For a cinematic rendering of the erosion of the working class Left, try writer-director Robert Guediguian’s The Town is Quiet, out in 2000. Set in Marseilles, it’s quite an impressive, multi-storied achievement. Gueidguian followed up with two more solid films using the same cast and setting.

  4. jo6pac

    In reading the below story the writers have no idea what’s in the contract so lets make up some scary story.

    Russia poised to exploit Mongolia on Soyuz–Vostok pipeline BNE Intellinews

    Nice propaganda;-)

    1. Safety First

      And if you replace the word “Russia” with a term like “asiatic barbarians”, which one finds in both German post-war memoirs and at least early Cold War propaganda material, you get:

      “Asiatic barbarians poised to exploit Mongolia!”

      For some reason, this amuses me.

  5. Alyosha

    The response to the attack on Bryansk was pretty quick. Russia has started destroying significant rail infrastructure in the central and western parts of Ukraine. Frankly, if I were in charge at the Kremlin, there would only be one road left between Poland and Ukraine and there wouldn’t be any rail infrastructure.

    Because, as the Asia Times piece points out, the US is very much a co-belligerent and as such Russia’s only real choices are to stop the flow of arms at the border or attack co-belligerent nations. In terms of established international law, Russia may or may not have a case for its military operation in Ukraine just as it may or may not have a solid case under responsibility to protect precedent.

    I can’t be sure because of the variations in spelling between Russian and Ukrainian, but it appears that Olena Semenyaka may now be an official government spokesperson in Kiev. Apparently, some of her grant money from the US was used by her to help fund the Rise Above Movement’s “Unite the Right” rally in Charlotte. Here’s what RFEL says about her:

      1. Alyosha

        Telegram. It hasn’t been officially stated as the case, but Russia has mostly stayed clear of destroying rail infrastructure in the west. I believe it was at least 3 substations that provide power for rail transport.

      2. Polar Socialist

        Don’t know if it’s a response to Bryansk, but I did notice some hours ago news about central Ukrainian railroad hubs being knocked out. The only one remaining to connect west and east Ukraine is Kiev, where the Ukrainians themselves did some damage to the infrastructure earlier.

        It even occurred to me that with everyone now focusing on the coming “battle of Donbass”, it would make more sense for the Russians to cross the Southern Bug around Mikolaiv and go for Odessa. The Ukrainians in the east aren’t going anywhere for a long time, while the southern Ukraine is now totally cut off from the supplies in the west.

        For all we know, it could even be that the Kherson front having been relatively inactive for a few weeks and that cruiser sunk in the Black Sea, Ukrainians have moved men and material from Odessa-Mikolaiv area towards Dnipro to threaten the likely Russian lines of attack east of Dniepr. Apparently Ukrainians are concentrating forces in the Pavlograd area to prevent the northern and southern pincers from connecting.

        That said, I’ve been really bad at predicting any Russian action since February.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          I think there are a lot of clues from how they dealt with Syria. I was often mystified by the various war front maps of Syria as they were like a series of random blodges looking more like a childs painting rather than the nice neat fronts portrayed in WWII histories. In a way, they resembled more the war in the Pacific, where the US simply bypassed Japanese controlled islands when they were deemed not strategically vital. This strategy apparently enraged the Imperial Japanese who, it seems, considered it very unsporting of the US not to fight for every square inch.

          In Syria, the Russian strategy seemed to a large extend to revolve around letting non-threatening areas of rebel control just stew while they focused on strategic roads, and on weak points (such as areas controlled by local warlords who could be persuaded to change sides). Real hard points of resistance were chipped away bit by bit, usually when overwhelming firepower could be concentrated.

          I’m sure it won’t be quite the same as Syria, but given the huge size of Ukraine, they have to make some big moves sometime. I suspect that the judgement call on that will come when they feel that the Ukie army has been sufficiently degraded no to be able to manoeuvre on the field.

        2. NotTimothyGeithner

          If there are mass surrenders in the Donbass, the Russians will need to manage that population.

          To me the feint stuff around Kiev is overblown, Kiev has a mess of bridges and ferries, too busy to manage. The Russians basically controlled the approaches to all but two relatively close bridges due West of the cauldron all this time. This could be managed. They pulled out of the Kiev area after shutting down resupply for over a month, controlling major roads, and clearing out areas the Ukrainian army might be. Not as exciting as Mariupol activity, but the Ukrainian forces in the cauldron can’t stay forever. Fighting out or surrender are the options.

          The Russians would have to cross the river to bring in forces or launch a major amphibious operation. And we can knock the state of Western weapons, but they will be much more effective and easier to resupply to defenders or guerilla type fighters.

          Unless there was an opportunity like Washington ending his plans for a thrown down in New York in favor of capturing Cornwallis where everyone forgets what Washington was doing previously, the Kremlin regardless of approval ratings needs to move to remove Ukrainian forces from the Donbass. Strikes out of Mariupol can’t occur and the civilian population can’t be used as a human shield anymore. So that was fine. Destroying an army an probably half the proper soldiers can’t be replaced.

          What Moscow does next, I don’t know. Hitting those transit links now might be a prelude to further operations. With he West sending military supplies, depleting Western stocks, and relying on major thoroughfares, Moscow might be betting the West ignored setting up the kinds of supply routes necessary for guerrilla warfare. My guess is the Russians would prefer to stay away from the more rugged terrain in the West.

        3. redleg

          At a Corps-level tactical view, it would make more sense for the Russians to concentrate and reduce the Ukrainian army in the pocket between Crimea and Kharkov (TBH I don’t care how they’re spelled by whom) before moving on Odessa. The coast from Crimea to Odessa is a long, narrow stretch for the Russians to defend, with ample opportunity for isolation by Ukrainian forces. Keeping them engaged in that pocket takes pressure off of the coast while keeping the initiative to attack west from the Crimea area once the pocket is reduced. If the Ukrainians want to deploy forces to prevent a move toward Odessa, the pocket is weakened.
          The Ukrainian army appears to be in a catch-22.

    1. Darthbobber

      My guess is that the railroad juncture attacks are happening because the Russians have arrived at the point in their timetable where this step happens. To the extent that it could be seen as a “response” to something, the something would be things like the creation of the Howitzer-of-the-Week club or that large fuel train from Moldava.

    2. North Star

      Assuming that it was a missile strike on the Bryansk facility, I hope for Europe’s sake that the missile(s) originated from Ukraine.

    3. Acacia

      A fire at the Russian Defense Ministry research facility in Tver, then another mysterious large blaze at Russia’s largest chemical plant in Kineshma, and now Bryansk.

      “Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action”
      — Ian Fleming

      1. redleg

        Could be cyber. Turn off a valve and ramp up a motor against the deadhead and *poof* a fire happens. Stuxnet would do this and display nothing abnormal in the control system.

    4. Procopius

      I need to read Albert Speer’s book, but I think the Germans demonstrated in WWII that it’s very hard to block roads and railroads by bombing. They’re easy to repair. Not as easy as the Ho Chi Minh Trail was, but easy.

      1. jrkrideau

        As I understand it most Ukrainian motive power is electric with relatively few diesel locomotives. Take out the substations and, presto, a lot of trains going nowhere but most of the railway infrastructure undamaged.

  6. The Rev Kev

    “Will Russia Win the War for the Donbas?”

    I’m going to say yes. Some time ago I read a novel by a guy who was a GI in Europe during WW2 and near the end of that book, he had his main character tell another one that if war wasn’t so terrifying, it would be boring. By that he meant that typically when one side makes a move, the other will make a more or less predictable counter-move which experienced soldiers could see. Those guys in that cauldron are trapped. They have no access to supplies of fuel, ammo, etc. but are depending on what they have. It hasn’t stopped them bombarding the Donbass areas though. The Russians dominate the air and you can bet that they are bringing up their fearsome artillery units. Plus they have had two months to map out this cauldron and probe it for weaknesses. When they are taken out, the Russian units can then wheel around and take the rest of the Donbass Republics and anywhere else that they want. But I have no doubt that Kiev will first tell that trapped force to fight to the last man and shoot anybody that suggests surrendering. But Kiev will have their legend of their glorious martyrs to tell their kids.

    1. redleg

      A wise defender would pull back to the west into already prepared fighting positions, and then chop up or encircle the pursuing forces while they are moving. This preserves the army in the pocket, concentrates force for defense or counterattack, dilutes the attacking force, and makes Russia react for once.
      I highly doubt this will happen.

      1. Soredemos

        They can’t do anything like that even if they wanted to. They have no fuel to maneuver, and any path west is under constant Russian air and artillery assault. This also means that anything getting into the cauldron is doing so with Russian permission. They’ve turned it into a roach motel.

    2. RobertC

      TRK — if I was in 7th Fleet watching for Indications and Warnings, I’d be asking where’s China’s fishing fleet and where’s China’s Coast Guard fleet. The strategic action has moved out of Ukraine, as we all expected, but this isn’t the right entry point for discussing that. There will be in the next few days.

  7. timbers

    Tech firms rip apart NEW washing machines so they can harvest their computer parts in a bid to beat the global microchip shortage Daily Mail (dk).

    Odd it hasn’t occurred to Tech firms to investigate harvesting computer chips from all those arms being dumped into Ukraine. From what I’ve read a lot of them aren’t very useful to begin with and get discarded by the Ukrainians and fall into Russian hands.

    1. The Rev Kev

      It’s strange this report. Why don’t those tech firms simply go to those washing machine manufacturers and offer them a solid price for those chips instead. Even of the tech firms offered to pay the profit margin on a new washing machine, it would still be a win. Not only would they get those chips but it would be cheaper because they would no longer have to pay people to harvest those machines and they would not be faced with the problem of storing and disposing of those machines as well.

      1. TimH

        As someone in the semiconductor industry, I call BS. Firstly, the original quote

        Peter Wennink, the firm’s boss, told investors a major company had informed him it had resorted to buying washing machines and tearing out the chips inside them. He did not name the firm, but it is thought to be linked to the automotive industry.

        got stretched to wildness by a quote from Stuart Miles, founder of technology website Pocket-lint:

        They rushed breathlessly into the next board meeting and proclaimed, “I have solved it. We are going to buy 10,000 washing machines and we can take the sensors out of them. What are we going to do with the leftover appliances? Let’s worry about that tomorrow”

        This was the cat (sorry):


        The auto companies cancelled orders in 2020 due to downtick in demand due to CV, and now are whining that they can’t get stuff. The semi industry works on forecasts for wafer starts…

      2. skk

        Quite. And this harvesting lark. Once, just to expand my options in the very unlikely event of “Mad Max”, I practiced desoldering semiconductor parts out of of obsolete/ broken equipment. I started with an irrigation controller because the IC board was big, with big soldered joints. Its not easy. And I burnt myself on the iron – twice – most likely because I was frustrated by how hard it was and got distracted. And I quit it.

        1. Aumua

          First of all the iron needs to be pretty hot for desoldering. Also learn to use the braid correctly, and those spring loaded vacuum pumps work well in certain places.

          Having a decent soldering iron will immediately improve your skill.

        2. gc54

          Get a desoldering gun with vacuum. Parts just fall off and no heat damage. A Hakko model works very well, but pricey at $200 new on ebay. Share it with friends.

    2. hunkerdown

      Sources: One rumor at two removes, a minor reshoring gold rush, that casual English material sadism, and a touch of anti-China propaganda for spice. At best, the article is titillation for the Classes who take pleasure in Happy Motoring around on the wrecked labor-saving devices of their inferiors. At its most likely, the article is Making Shit Up in the great tabloid tradition.

      The only sensible set of facts visible to my mind through the Mail’s heavy breathing is one where used chips (let us be clear) are being upcycled from white goods into low-mid-volume, medium-intelligence, non-safety-sensitive, revenue-generating applications. Amazon lockers and similar automats fit that 10k volume profile well, but that’s not as sympathetic a cause to sacrifice mod cons for.

  8. The Rev Kev

    “Russia investigates large oil depot fire in region near Ukraine”

    Sometimes you get the bear and sometimes the bear gets you.

  9. Randy

    Are all these French left candidates just private and government agents in disguise? Apparently these candidates prefer all policy debate being skewed to Le Pen and Macron because they apparently can’t get over themselves otherwise and all have to run. Looking forward to angry responses about how the French Popular Party will never support the Popular Party of France, those fake leftist splitter traitors.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      I have suspicions about Greens, but Hollande effectively blowing up the organized left was a big deal. Melenchon (sp?) wasn’t well positioned during the last cycle given the state of the communists for 20-25 years. They weren’t reaching out to non white voters especially since they became voters when the communists became more of a lackey for the SDs (socialists in France).

      Macron had a crazy coalition in his first win, largely held together by the strength of LePen. It looks like he is a more traditional right wing type now. LePen was of course organizing among disaffected and non white voters had to nudge their bets with LePen on the horizon. The Communists have a branding problem with certain cohorts. The SDs think they are still relevant.

      1. Bruno

        “non white voters had to nudge their bets with LePen on the horizon.”
        *Muslim* “non white” voters. Marine’s greatest success was among
        the afro-francais electorates of the Caribbean départements (Martinique,
        Guadaloupe, and Guyane) where she won by crushing margins.

        1. pasha

          iirc, in the first round the caribbean departments voted heavily for Melanchon (left of Macron).
          the second round vote for Le Pen is best understood as repudiation of Macron, not as a rightward turn to Le Pen

    2. David

      The graphic is, of course, about an election twenty years ago, not the one held yesterday. That said, most of the political formations on that list still exist. The Left in France has always been bitterly divided between Marxists and non-Marxists, and this panoply reflected that division: several different types of Marxist ( tradi, Maoist, Trotskyist) and different personal followings within the Socialist Party. It still is, but of the parties they include as the “Left” (I think they have excluded the Greens), most were present this time, and they scored a resounding 25%. Quite a lot of that was tactical voting for Mélenchon by people who would otherwise have voted Green or not voted. The 2002 election was a shambles, but it was also a political watershed. If you look at the detailed figures, you’ll see that Le Pen senior (a genuinely nasty type) beat Jospin, the Socialist candidate, by only half of one per cent, largely because the Left vote was split in so many different directions. Chirac was not popular, after seven years in power, and would probably have lost to Jospin in a head-to-head. As it was, he beat Le Pen with no problem, and continued the neoliberalisation of France, as well as preparing the way for Sarkozy.

      I posted quite a long comment yesterday in Links on the second round of the election which you can find here if you are interested.

      1. Basil Pesto

        Perhaps I’m being reductive but that table seems to be emblematic of what ails “the left” worldwide, generally. Factionalism and ideological purity tests. Too much thinking directed in all the wrong places in the most hopelessly inefficient ways. While the centre-right just gets on with it.

  10. Carolinian

    Re David French and religion as a cure for all our problems–Those of us who grew up Southern Baptist were indeed exposed to an admirable New Testament approach to ethics that had good effects. Perhaps my aversion to liars comes from the fact that I can’t recall my parents ever telling one.

    But we were also exposed to a great deal of hypocrisy with the church as a kind of businessmen’s association that saw throwing money changers from the temple as the very least of their goals. The article asserts that the founders were depending on human virtue to somehow make the whole thing work. But history tells us just the opposite–that competing interests including indeed slavery were the central problem as they saw it. John Adams only lasted four years and offended many with his moralistic and even dictatorial Alien and Sedition Act approach to governing. Adams was himself a hypocrite by pretending his curbs on free speech weren’t intended to boost his interests more than the country’s.

    Earlier generations of Americans were a lot more religious than our own. It’s hard to argue however that they were more virtuous. Changes in ethics and behavior may depend more on reason than faith.

    1. Bruno

      “throwing money changers from the temple”
      This contradicts history as well as scripture. Money changers were not *in* the Temple,
      they worked in the Temple courtyard and their work was absolutely crucial to the Temple
      finances. The revolutionary project of Y’shua bar Abbas (Joshua son of God, grecified as
      “Jesus Christ”) explicitly involved the *physical* destruction of Herod’s Temple and its
      replacement by a temple appropriate to the “Kingdom of Heaven” that he had promised to
      establish after the overthrow of the Roman/Herodian regime.

      1. Carolinian

        Just speaking for we lapsed Baptists I think the commonly accepted narrative is what matters rather than historical nitpicking. Of course religious interpretations differ, often with the paradoxical effect of a lot of that killing ‘thou shalt not’ do.

      2. Amechania

        Well there was, and I hear is, a temple industrial complex.

        The temple only took shekels and that barrier meant money changers.

        Need a dove to sacrifice? That just takes ready money.

        Dont forget the ceremonial garb. Available at a convenient location for a low low price.

        You see what theyve done to mecca?

    2. Anthony G Stegman

      Growing up I was forced to attend Catholic church on Sundays. During the Vietnam war the Sunday sermons were often supportive of the US war efforts in southeast asia. I quickly disabused myself of the notion that the Church is all about compassion, empathy, and love. And this was all before I got wind of the vast and global sex abuse by Catholic clergy.

  11. Tom Stone

    Yesterday was the anniversary of my second Moderna shot and I am still experiencing elevated levels of pain.
    Both elbows still feel sprained and weather changes are a bitc…
    It is a beautiful spring day, I intend to enjoy it.

  12. diptherio

    Re: John Adams’ Fear Has Come to Pass David French, The Dispatch

    The author somehow manages to lay the blame for our crumbling social compact on each of us as individuals. If only we could restrain our passions, our avarice and our ambition, everything would be fine. If everything collapses, it will be our fault, not the fault of the state or the people that control it. I don’t buy it.

    Here’s an alternative reading*: Adams knew darn good and well that the Constitution was just some pretty words on paper, and when push came to shove (which it inevitably would) it would be the worser angels of our nature that would end up calling the shots — and he supported it anyway. Given that Adams believed that US would eventually have to return to the “safe harbor of monarchy,” I’m not sure that he would have seen the Constitution’s inability to restrain the worst impulses of the powerful as a bad thing. If everything is falling apart, it’s because it was poorly designed to begin with. Don’t blame the victims.

    *The quote in question: “We have no Government armed with Power capable of contending with human Passions unbridled by morality and Religion. Avarice, Ambition, Revenge or Galantry, would break the strongest Cords of our Constitution as a Whale goes through a Net.”

    1. JBird4049

      What is often either ignored or not understood is that the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and all the various “norms,” customs, and expectations that come from them have been deliberately, Consciously destroyed. Even more important is that the United States, its government, and its society came out of Classical Liberalism and the Enlightenment.

      We have the destruction of both the law and rights (and responsibilities), as written and practiced for centuries, our political and social framework, and the internal mental and emotional framework carried around by Americans themselves as individuals. Further, the wreckers have nothing to replace it with besides money and the power it gives. That is not a system. That is only greed. Ultimately, it becomes a “system” of rule by the gun.

      I think there are plenty of Americans who still believe, as I do, in the American Experiment as informed by Classical Liberalism and the Enlightenment although the details might be argued over. However, just where can any of us go to support it?

      1. jsn

        Last year I read Hanna’s “Pirates Nest”, which is a history of essentially Welsh Protestant piracy from Elizabethan times through the next few centuries. I was struck in reading it by the degree to which the pirate bases became our offshore banking archipelago. “Operation Gladio” by Paul Williams is what I’m reading now. It echoes in every way. Elizabethan greed came first and the Crown took 3 centuries to mythologize it into a governable system, at which point the American Colonists said, “our greed supersedes your control” and set about creating their own profitable institutions of lawlessness.

        England had generated what normative myths it could to cloak greed and vanity under the Crown which the colonists threw off to weave their own. They developed a myth of freedom equally split between those who thought it meant freedom from coercion by the State and those who thought it meant State enforcement of their freedom to own others.

        The history of the US can be seen as the Manichean contest between these polar visions of freedom as a fig leaf over the organs of greed. Because we are a human society, no side ever has a permanent victory, though they may appear so at the time. The Civil War appeared to be a decisive defeat of the people owners, but by Wilson’s Presidency the people owners were back in charge. Ironically, it was one of their own in FDR who next brought victory to the freedom from coercion crowd, carrying in the bosom of this victory the seed of defeat with the Dulles brothers in key roles in his administration. So, here we are now where the Dulles brothers Nazi adjacent views are being expressed with perfect clarity through our foreign policy institutions. Somewhere in the resulting chaos are no doubt seeds of what comes next. Climate Change will inflect whatever it is in whatever direction it goes, but we will be needing entirely new myths to get to a better place.

        1. JBird4049

          It echoes in every way. Elizabethan greed came first and the Crown took 3 centuries to mythologize it into a governable system, at which point the American Colonists said, “our greed supersedes your control” and set about creating their own profitable institutions of lawlessness.

          A big block to successfully negotiate just how the Colonies were to govern was not only incompetence of the British government, but also greed as many people’s income depended on the empire’s system of mercantilism and the corrupt system of rotten boroughs and wholly controlled districts, which gave the wealthy, the landowners, and the owners of the slave plantations in the Caribbean. It rhymes with America today.

          Restated, British wealthy, importers and others wanted to continue their wealth extraction of the colonies. The politicians and their wealthy backers wanted to maintain control of Parliament. The government was looking for more revenue to pay off the war debts and protect the colonies. The colonists were considered backward, ungrateful bumpkins my much of the elites, which sometimes hampered the efforts of the colonists’ own agents.

          The colonists were… concerned about keeping their money, it’s very true. As a group, they also wanted to regularize the political government, and they eventually got angry at the increasingly repressive use of the military on them enough to start shooting. If anyone wants to see what triggered the fighting look at the Bill of Rights. It is a point by point bill of complaints about the empire’s agents and the military abuse, which seems to be slip the notice of the government and the judiciary. I keep saying it, but I will say it again: I don’t see our ruling elites as very educated or wise. I’ll reserve judgment on their intelligence as education and wisdom has been acquired by the not very bright. They just have to work harder to be educated or wise than others, much like some successful athletes, which might say just how lazy some of them are.

      2. LifelongLib

        The Declaration of Independence idea that we have natural rights which governments are instituted to secure seems to have been replaced (if indeed it ever took hold) by the idea that most of us are lazy jerks who need to be told what to do by “leaders”, which we have the privilege of choosing every once in a while from a very limited menu. Until we realize government is supposed to be our servant and not our master, the choices will always be “bad” or “worse”.

  13. The Rev Kev

    “Stumbling Toward “Day Zero” on the Colorado River”

    There is going to be a big fight brewing up here. No, not between the different States though that will get pretty bitter by itslef. What I mean is when it has to be worked out who is entitled to the remaining water. You would think that water for drinking purposes would have first priority but I bet that Big Ag will weigh in and say that they have to have priority as they have overseas contracts to fill. And I predict that when they force people to conserve water, that local industries, seeing a new surplus, will try to grab it for themself. Thing is, without water, people will be forced to move away whether they want to or not. And then it will be discovered that without people, that there is no economy. Surprise.

    1. Reaville

      It’s been widely reported that 85% of California’s water goes to agriculture, the rest split between other business and residential. Californians seemed to reject conservation this year when asked by the governor (residential water use did not decline). The drought raises the matter of “water export” in the form of water used to grow export crops (almonds, etc). I suspect that most Californians would get politically active against incumbents if residential water was cut but “water exports” continued.

      There are no good choices as “The Water Knife” era comes. Our political class is not very good at the operational side of government where real world decisions get made. They have been generationally trained to deliver messages, not run things. They better recover that skill set. Stuff gets real this year.

      1. JBird4049

        Our political class is not very good at the operational side of government where real world decisions get made. They have been generationally trained to deliver messages, not run things. They better recover that skill set. Stuff gets real this year.

        I think it more about being fools and when does it go from being foolish from lack of knowledge to being so from stupidity? The results of denying either food or water without a real good reason and apparent good faith efforts to ameliorate the suffering is just going to get them killed or hopefully just unemployed. (and this is not any sort of a threat, just a prediction based on reality and informed by history)

        This is going to be Covid again only with water and food. I am a broken record here, but the failure to deliver water and food to the population is a big, big reason for the fall of many governments or ruling elites. The delivery of water and food were likely the main cause of civilization being created some seven thousand years ago.

        It is funny, I guess, that the elites used the power given by their wealth to continually extract wealth, steal really, from and both immiserate and increase their control over us all; this continual wealth over all policy even over the most essential items needed for mere life is creating the conditions for them to lose everything.

        Last I checked, and I am no expert, the various freeways, canals, rails, locks, dams, even ports are all areas easy to disrupt or even just destroy. IIRC, during the drought of the 1976-77 the most extreme plans to ship more water from Northern California to the south did not happen because of threats to blow up the canals and/or locks.

        Lentils and beans for me, I see. Maybe I should stock up on beer. For the hydration of course. Anyone got some good recommendations for IPAs?

      2. Anthony G Stegman

        People in California have long been conditioned that they must conserve water, but Big Ag is exempt, because after all Big Ag “feeds the world”. Don’t expect much political activism. Americans in general are a pretty cowed people.

        1. JBird4049

          I seem to remember that shipping Northern California’s water to the south, partly because the voters are mainly around LA, partly because the developers wanted for their latest projects, and finally for extravagant, wasteful agriculture was pushing some to violence; it was the water for me, but not for thee that made people angry. Restated, it was not quite the shipping per se, it was the arrogance that said we can take the water that you need and there is nothing you can do about it. That is what was making it explosive. That need, and the contempt for it, which was caused by the wealth and political power of both the economic and political elites.

          Water is different than even food for there is no civilization or life without it. People will respond violently. People who would never protest will once it become almost impossible to be clean, crops fail and food become unaffordable, and eventually drinking water starts to go away. I remember as a kid standing on the mud cracked bottom of one of the empty reservoirs that supplied the water we were drinking at the time. It makes an impression. Yes, it does. Big Ag is sacrosanct until it is not. Most people can do without food for a few days or tighten their belts. No one can go beyond a few days without water without dying.

          I do believe that this is avoidable. I believe that it is a situation that can be mitigated at least. I do believe that our feckless, incompetent, and arrogant leadership will fail to do the thoughtful and hard work needed. That means violence, civil war, even revolution. Wonderful.

    2. Wukchumni

      Few if any major population areas historically ever lived so very far away from their water source-as is common in the Southwest, there’s a lot of out of sight-out of mind going on among the 40 million often 400 miles from their source, and as long as the water flows when you turn on the tap, its all good.

    1. Dr. John Carpenter

      When have the Dems not run on “the Repubs are a bunch of extremists?” Maybe they’re not framing things is the way he wants, but the core of what he’s advocating is what the Dems have run on as long as I’ve been able to vote at least. And if I was a betting man, I’d say it’s what they will run on again because they have done the impossible and given themselves even less to run on than in 2020. Heck, they won’t even need to come up with new excuses when the voters don’t care!

      1. Bart Hansen

        For the young people promising a $15 minimum wage won’t work a second time, or the student debt forgiveness. Nor, for that matter will the third time lucky candidacy of HRC. Can’t see many of them voting. All the GOP has to do is promise the narcotic of cutting taxes.

        1. jsn

          Which they will then actually do.

          They’ll destroy some other residue of what used to work when they do, but so what.

          They will once again have done what they said they would do. Gridlock was fun while it lasted for the Democrats: the oligarchs got all they wanted and no one else got anything. Since the oligarchs already have almost everything they want, they can throw things now to the base on the right and actually deliver on two generations of Culture War promises, but they will never throw anything to the base on the left, leaving the Democrats without cover.

  14. Darthbobber

    WSWS article on French elections. Oddly, or not, this is not penned by a member of the Socialist Equality Party (France), if such members actually exist in the material world. I find nothing readily available that emanates from the PES (France) as an entity since the glorious day when the International Committee for the 4th International launched its call to build such a party on WSWS back in 2016.

    Can anybody more familiar with France confirm the tangible existence of this party anywhere but on the WSWS? Or is it another in the tediously long list of Trotskyist paper organizations.

    1. David

      As far as I can discover, the party exists largely in the imaginations of a few French Trotskyists. There’s no indication that it actually does anything or runs any candidates. Amusing as it is to see Mélenchon so violently attacked from the Left, I wouldn’t take the WSWS very seriously in this context.

  15. Aaron

    re Amazon
    Went to Amazon Labor Union rally yesterday in Staten Island. Good turnout. Some observations: Sara Nelson is fierce! She really brings it. Was good to see some local politicians speak, including Jumaane Williams. Quite a few other local and national union folks were there. Teamsters, AFL-CIO, TWU local 100. Kshama Sawant came all the way out from Seattle. Kshama is the real deal. She gets paid 140K a year as Seattle City Council person. She takes 40K cash a year for herself, pays taxes, and donates the rest to socialist and labor groups. She donated 20K to ALU. More pols like her, please. Chris Smalls is a very charismatic figure. He IS smart. And articulate. Love how Jay Carney and his ghouls decided best strategy would be making Chris the face of the union. Congrats, you succeeded. Careful what you wish for.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Sara Nelson ended the government shut down, a feat that eluded Pelosi. No one is perfect, but why not Nelson in 2024? As politicos go, who is more accomplished than Nelson?

          1. JBird4049

            True, but there are all those offices that don’t require being a native born American, which is all of them except for the Presidency and the VP.

    2. DorothyT

      Glad to see mention of NYC’s Public Advocate Jumaane Williams. He’s running for governor of NY. He also appears frequently on the brilliant Theater of War. He’s handled a neighborhood issue of ours in NYC — not in our favor but he took it seriously and communicated with us and our neighbors honestly. I’ve watched him for some time and am a supporter.

  16. Mikerw0

    PBS is currently running Season 2 of Rise of the Nazis. For those that haven’t been watching it, Season 1 is basically how Hitler rises to power in a modern, sophisticated, industrial society. Season 2 is the war period, and last week’s episode focused on Stalingrad.

    What they bring forth is that sustaining a successful dictatorship is actual not so easy. Both Stalin and Hitler have increasingly shrinking groups around them, they will only license being told what they want to hear, become increasingly convinced of their own infallibility and invincibility, which expose much of their incompetence. This inevitably leads to mass carnage in the actual battles.

    As I watched it I couldn’t help but think of the parallels to Putin. One has to suspect that he assumed Ukraine would be a success just because he showed up. When it didn’t work out to plan (if there even was one) he replaces key people, kills others, etc., just like Hitler and Stalin did. What makes this really hard, then, is if he is only hearing what he wants to hear and there is no way make him experience any real consequences then there is no solution.

    In WWII we basically demolished Germany until Hitler was dead and Stalin’s troops absorbed a level of casualties that I do not believe the West would ever have accepted. What is the solution here if we Putin stays in power?

    1. RobertC

      Mikerw0 — before anyone can answer your question “What is the solution here if we [sic] Putin stays in power?” you must first answer the question “What is the problem if Putin stays in power?”

      Looking forward to your answer.

    2. Maxwell Johnston

      I’m going to ignore completely the oblique comparison of Putin to both Hitler and Stalin, which is wildly inappropriate IMHO.

      Hitler and Stalin had very different relationships with their generals; in a nutshell, Stalin listened and learned, whereas Hitler didn’t. Stalin developed excellent working relationships with his top commanders (notably Zhukov), and there was quite a bit of give and take in their planning discussions. Definitely not the case with Hitler. Stalin tended to fire bad generals (even shot a few) and promote successful ones, whereas Hitler tended to promote the generals who agreed with him and didn’t push back.

      Today’s Ukraine war is nothing compared to WW2. That said, Putin is showing flexibility. He has canned some FSB generals (one of whom is now sitting in prison, presumably for providing lousy pre-war intel), and he has appointed the general previously in charge of Syria (Dvornikov) to be in charge of the Ukraine operation. If the situation on the ground has not gone exactly as the Russians had planned, it does seem that they are reacting accordingly and making changes.

    3. Jeff H

      To follow on from Robert C, how much of what you think you know about Putin comes from sources that haven’t demonstrated a deep seated bias? The western nations have proven through word and deed that the only options for Russia are domination or destruction. That’s been decidedly the case since 1917.

    4. Alyosha

      Perhaps US presidential candidates should watch the documentary, given the incredible shrinking group of foreign policy professionals in the US who get influential positions. US presidents go stomping around the world very much convinced of their own infallibility and invincibility, advised by a small clique of essentially neo-conservative foreign policy professionals. And it’s exposing everyone’s incompetence.

      For example, Nuland got her start working for Strobe Talbot (not exactly a shining star of diplomacy), then worked directly for Cheney, then attached to NATO, then Biden’s DoS point person for Ukraine during Obama, and now DoS for Biden. But since Trump ended up flirting with the neo-con FP establishment anyhow, I’m sure Nuland’s voice was heard via her husband and his contacts. Her sister-in-law runs the Institute for the Study of War which has been the US media’s go-to source for “analysis” of Ukraine.

    5. KD


      What precisely are the salient similarities between the government of the Russian Federation and the government of Nazi Germany and/or the Soviet Union? The first is decidedly not a one party state, the other two clearly are. The first has competitive elections (granted international criticism on fairness), the second did not.

      The Russian Federation is a conservative, authoritarian regime. It has multiple parties, it has competitive elections, but there is always a thumb on the scales, similar to Singapore. The better parallel would be Imperial Germany under Bismarck to the Russian Federation, for example, the war with France in 1870. That might be giving Putin and Lavrov too much credit, but it is much closer to the type of regime.

      The decision to go to war was not Putin’s, its not a dictatorship, it is the result of a consensus of the Russian national security apparatus. Obviously, what Putin thinks is very important, but he is not dictator. They are probably at war for the same reason the current head of the US CIA predicted a war in Ukraine in 2008, and that Ukraine would lose Crimea and Donbas at a minimum if the US expanded NATO to Ukraine and Georgia.

      I understand the need for talking points, but the government of Russia is public information available at Wikipedia.

    6. KD

      More follow up, per Wikipedia:

      Russia, by constitution, is an asymmetric federal republic,[214] with a semi-presidential system, wherein the president is the head of state,[215] and the prime minister is the head of government.[6] It is structured as a multi-party representative democracy, with the federal government composed of three branches:[216]

      Legislative: The bicameral Federal Assembly of Russia, made up of the 450-member State Duma and the 170-member Federation Council,[216] adopts federal law, declares war, approves treaties, has the power of the purse and the power of impeachment of the president.[217]
      Executive: The president is the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces, and appoints the Government of Russia (Cabinet) and other officers, who administer and enforce federal laws and policies.[215]
      Judiciary: The Constitutional Court, Supreme Court and lower federal courts, whose judges are appointed by the Federation Council on the recommendation of the president,[216] interpret laws and can overturn laws they deem unconstitutional.[218]
      The president is elected by popular vote for a six-year term and may be elected no more than twice.[219][i] Ministries of the government are composed of the premier and his deputies, ministers, and selected other individuals; all are appointed by the president on the recommendation of the prime minister (whereas the appointment of the latter requires the consent of the State Duma). United Russia is the dominant political party in Russia, and has been described as “big tent” and the “party of power”.[221][222] Under the administrations of Vladimir Putin, Russia has experienced democratic backsliding,[223] and has been widely considered an authoritarian state,[224] with Putin’s policies being referred to as Putinism[225]

      Does that sound like Nazi Germany or Stalin’s USSR?

      1. Polar Socialist

        Under the administrations of Vladimir Putin, Russia has experienced democratic backsliding

        His predecessor did use tanks to shoot the parliament to pieces, though, so this might not be a totally objective view.

        It may not be even close to a, say, Nordic example of a working democracy but having a multiparty system makes it, in my opinion, (at least slightly) more democratic than any two-party system.

    7. Bart Hansen

      If it wasn’t for the Soviet Army on the eastern front in WWII Europe may still be under German control. Some very large percentage of German materiel was destroyed there.

      And that is why Putin was so pissed when the Europeans revised history to claim victory for it all. Come May 9th those who haven’t seen the Immortal Regiment parade on TV should make the effort.

  17. Lexx

    ‘Microbiome experts warn of an ‘invisible extinction’ of gut bacteria that’s harming human health’

    The creation of a microbe vault may be the most brilliant idea I’ve heard so far this year.

    The subject de jour in our house is kombucha, commercial vs. home brew. I can look up at my whiteboard calendar and see when I stopped drinking ‘Synergy’ and switched to home-brewed passion fruit. It isn’t easy to reset the microbes of a body with an old brain being fed information from old hardware, where you’re constantly trying to add new software and then patch it every day… you’ve become an antique IBM with a sketchy bootleg Microsoft operating system. (The older you get, the tastier you look for an exploit by the Black Hat community and not for possession of what you think is your ‘intellectual property’.)

    Commercial kombucha manufacturers, who make the jump from local to the further reaches of the distribution pipeline, have to alter their formulas. We imagine they’re introducing more non-fermentable sugars to the juice that keeps the microbes alive, while appealing to the Western fondness for the combination of soda pop and virtue. While the pH of our homebrew is within a half point of Synergy, we use 2 cups fresh juice + 1 teaspoon priming sugar per gallon. Once 2nd fermentation was complete and we began opening bottles, our internal response to all that freshness was rapid. Booyah!

    Interestingly, the life o’microbe will kill a sweet tooth. That graving that used to demand ‘Cookie!!!’ is reduced to ‘cookie?’, and then silence. Your gut response every time is ‘no-uhuh-pick something else’. As my husband put it last week, ‘sweets don’t even occur to me anymore’.

  18. Basil Pesto

    > Kid Who Used to Drown Guests in RollerCoaster Tycoon Now Thriving at McKinsey Hard Drive

    Terrific stuff. If you know, you know.

  19. Questa Nota

    The Ukrainian Prime Minister Shmyhal is on record saying that cash is important because American taxpayers, the working American people, have a duty to fund the pensions and retirement accounts of the Ukrainian people, including govt politicians.

    Get out your checkbooks, and repeat the mantra, We broke it, We bought it. That would be the semi-royal We of Nuland et al. Thanks again, Obama. :/

    1. Polar Socialist

      At this rate the whole operation seems to be turning into demilitarization of the whole Europe and most of North America, too.

      1. Anthony G Stegman

        All that will be left are the nuclear armed missiles. Just what Zelensky desires.

      2. The Rev Kev

        I wonder where those European countries will be able to replenish those weapons stockpiles from? /sarc

  20. Stick'em

    RE: Why more people of color are buying guns

    For decades I’ve believed the best way to defeat the NRA is to have every person of color buy a membership. The white dudes would leave in droves once they realized the people they buy guns to “defend themselves from” run the club.

    1. Louis Fyne

      respectfully disagree, as IMO gun ownership increases the odds of “I don’t need the State” libertarianism.

      and given the failure of the entire criminal justice system, I don’t blame people for thinking that owning a gun is the path to security. I think such thinking is incorrect, but I have empathy for that line of thinking.

    2. Anthony G Stegman

      One ought not show up to a gun fight armed only with a knife. When in Rome do as the Romans do. Sage advice.

      1. Stick'em

        Personally, I recommend staying the hell away from fights. Works fine in my life.

        The libertarian question becomes what happens when you show up to what you thought was a gun fight and find it’s a tanks and planes and missles fight?

        Cause that’s what the gub’ment uses. You know, as in when it’s shipping goodies to Ukraine.

        1. Stick'em

          Guns are a lot like alcohol. Some people handle ’em just fine, no worries. But the people who can’t, why they fill the ER (and morgue) on Friday and Saturday nights, don’t they?

          Obviously neither prohibition of alcohol or guns is going to happen in ‘Merica. So the question is how do we ID the people who cause the problems?

          I dunno how to fix all our problems. But a license helps us keep up with the drivers who get DUIs and so on. Seems like a good place to start with guns. At least make Gramps go to the DMV every 10 years or so to make sure he can still see and doesn’t have flaming Alzheimer. So make folks pass some sort of gun safety class at the Department of Firearms instead of relying on Gramps to teach Junior how to shoot.

      2. Yves Smith

        Police studies show that if the assailant is closer that 20 feet, he can get to you before you can get a shot off.

        A bludgeon is the best weapon at short range.

  21. .Tom

    How come Adam Neumann got $1B and Anna Sorokin got prison? Such questions fascinate me. I’m inclined to think it’s highly contingent. Perhaps it has to do with the particular investors, how they responded to being embarrassed, e.g. SoftBank weren’t interested in seeing him go to jail and/or weren’t familiar with the mechanisms.

    1. Gregorio

      Neumann’s story reminds me of Donald Trump. I understand that he did quite well when his casino empire imploded.

  22. RobertC

    New Not-So-Cold War

    The Director-General of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization is Qu Dongyu

    He is the first Chinese national to head the Organization. Qu won the nomination on the first round of voting at the 41st FAO Conference on 23 June 2019, obtaining 108 of the 191 votes cast by the 194 member countries.

    Moscow and Washington battle at the U.N. to assign responsibility for a looming food crisis that threatens millions with starvation. Who’s to Blame for the Global Hunger Crisis?

    International Food Policy Research Institute fellow Joseph Glauber said that while the FAO and other international agencies may seek to avoid finger pointing given the political sensitivity surrounding the conflict, he has seen no evidence that the food agency is taking sides: “As far as the analytical stuff I have seen from FAO it looks very, very solid.”

    And the situation is dire.

    United Nations World Food Programme Executive Director David Beasley recently issued a stark warning: ‘If you think we’ve got hell on earth now, you just get ready. If we neglect northern Africa, northern Africa’s coming to Europe. If we neglect the Middle East, [the] Middle East is coming to Europe.’

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