Links 4/29/2022

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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Sharp pictures! James Webb Space Telescope completes alignment in huge milestone

U.S. economy shrinks in first quarter; trade, inventories mask underlying strength Reuters

Looking for the Silver Linings in Shrinking GDP John Authers, Bloomberg

Growth slows and prices rise as stagflation stalks eurozone FT


Avoiding ocean mass extinction from climate warming Science. “[U]nder business-as-usual global temperature increases, marine systems are likely to experience mass extinctions on par with past great extinctions based on ecophysiological limits alone. Drastically reducing global emissions, however, offers substantial protection, which emphasizes a need for rapid action to prevent possibly catastrophic marine extinctions.”

Rising dissolved organic carbon concentrations in coastal waters of northwestern Borneo related to tropical peatland conversion Science. See NC on peat here, here, and here.

Climate change increases cross-species viral transmission risk (accepted manuscript) Nature. From the Abstract: “We predict that species will aggregate in new combinations at high elevations, in biodiversity hotspots, and in areas of high human population density in Asia and Africa, driving the novel cross-species transmission of their viruses an estimated 4,000 times. Because of their unique dispersal capacity, bats account for the majority of novel viral sharing, and are likely to share viruses along evolutionary pathways that will facilitate future emergence in humans. Surprisingly, we find that this ecological transition may already be underway, and holding warming under 2 °C within the century will not reduce future viral sharing. Our findings highlight an urgent need to pair viral surveillance and discovery efforts with biodiversity surveys tracking species’ range shifts, especially in tropical regions that harbor the most zoonoses and are experiencing rapid warming.”

How Okra Could Clean Up Our Drinking Water Texas Monthly

Why the Great American Lawn is terrible for the West’s water crisis CNN


South Africa is being hit hard by COVID again. What that means for the U.S., if anything, remains unclear USA Today. At a minimum, it means this:

(I’m sure this map is not complete, but it makes the point well enough. Here’s another with more East Coast.) Thread on new South African BA.4 and BA.5 lineages:

Party like it’s 2019!

LAX sees 1 million monthly international travelers for first time since pandemic’s start LA Times

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Why Nasal Sprays Are Poised to Be the Next Weapon for Fighting Covid Bloomberg. “[Marty Moore of Meissa Vaccines Inc.] remains convinced there’s ample reason to build immunity against Covid in the nose and throat. ‘You’re going to need this, you’re going to want this, because it’s the endgame,’ Moore says. Sure, boosters of the current vaccines can reduce infections, but only temporarily, like tapping snooze on an alarm clock. ‘Then it just repeats,’ he says. ‘If you want to stop hitting the snooze button, we need to actually block transmission.'” Serious coverage and well worth a read, and good to see this topic make it into the business press at last.

Moderna files for U.S. authorization of COVID shot for kids under 6 Reuters

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Risk factors for severe COVID-19 differ by age for hospitalized adults Nature. Retrospective study, n = 6906. From the Abstract: “[F]or hospitalized patients, sex and chronic comorbidities had lower predictive value than vital signs and laboratory results.”

Why does the Omicron Variant Largely Spare Olfactory Function? Implications for the Pathogenesis of Anosmia in COVID-19 (accepted manuscript) Journal of Infectious Diseases. From the Abstract: “The omicron variant causes much less olfactory dysfunction than the previous variants. Here we discuss potential mechanisms how omicron may change tissue tropism and spare olfactory function. The new mutations make omicron more hydrophobic and alkaline compared with previous variants which may reduce penetration of the mucus layer.”

The Impact of Evolving SARS-CoV-2 Mutations and Variants on COVID-19 Vaccines American Society for Microbiology. From the Abstract: “[V]arious mitigation strategies are under investigation to address the potential for reduced efficacy or effectiveness against current and future SARS-CoV-2 variants, including modification of vaccines for certain variants (including omicron), multivalent vaccine formulations, and different delivery mechanisms.”

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Life expectancy in Chicago declined during 1st year of COVID pandemic, especially for people of color ABC. Live your life!


Political stakes high as Beijing responds to virus outbreak AP

Shanghai Uses Crowdsourcing to Survive Covid-19 Lockdown as Social Support Breaks Down WSJ. Local government debacle.

China economy: Politburo vows new tools, refined policies will help address coronavirus-induced turmoil South China Morning Post

China in ‘deep crisis’, says Hong Kong private equity chief FT

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Do we have a China hand who can bring home the Ukraine v. “The Romance of Three Kingdoms” comparison?

Tiktok, so….

Blinken to detail U.S. national strategy for China in coming weeks Reuters. Swell.


NUG settling in for long fight against junta Frontier Myanmar. The Tatmadaw had to destroy NUG and the PDFs before the rainy season. They failed.


China and Iran set to step up defence cooperation South China Morning Post


Tell us who you really are, Keir Starmer The New Statesman

Seems legit:

As the Tories saw across the NHS’s windpipe with a rusty knife:

The French Left Is Uniting Around Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s Radical Agenda Jacobin. Too bad they couldn’t do this in the Presidential election;

Nearly half of France’s nuclear reactors taken offline, adding to electricity demand on European grid Sky News

New Not-So-Cold War

The dogs won’t eat the dog food:

Despite a pervasive propaganda campaign of unprecedented proportions, worse even than Iraq WMDs.

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Russia’s halt of European gas could see ‘catastrophic’ winter pricing, veteran trader warns CNBC

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Sitrep: Operation Z The Saker

Julian Röpcke reports for Bild, so he’s not some sorta peacenik:

While fueling Ukraine proxy war, NATO and EU are militarizing the Balkans Multipolarista

Russia vows “lightning” response to NATO as war threatens to spill beyond Ukraine WSWS

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Towards The Abyss (interview) Volodymyr Ishchenko, New Left Review. A very detailed review of the bidding. As usual witih NLR, fire up the espresso machine, but well worth a read.

Inside Zelensky’s World Time

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The Reluctant Peacemaker Foreign Policy. U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres.

How Russia Beat America to the Hypersonic Missile Popular Mechanics

Musk Buys Twitter

Ten immediate Twitter fixes for Elon Musk The Reformed Broker. Sensible.

Musk told banks he will rein in Twitter pay, make money from tweets, sources say Reuters

Musk is right:

Supply Chain

Heat wave scorches India’s wheat crop, snags export plans AP

Brazil’s Drought: The Trigger that Could Take Corn Prices Higher? AgWeb

Port congestion in mainland China continued to remain high with extended lockdown measures Hellenic Shipping News

Health Care

Medicare Advantage Plans Often Deny Needed Care, Federal Report Finds NYT

FDA Proposes Ban on Menthol Cigarettes MedPage Today

Imperial Collapse Watch

Is Everything Falling Apart? Nonzero Newsletter

Class Warfare

Why Aren’t Rich People Happier? A Wealth of Commonsense. “Well, money is money. I mean you can’t buy happiness, sir, but it sure takes the sting out of being unhappy.” –John D. MacDonald, Darker than Amber.

Bonds of Inequality w/ Destin Jenkins (podcast) The Dig. “Destin Jenkins on his book The Bonds of Inequality: Debt and the Making of the American City, which makes a powerful argument about how the ubiquitous and in many ways invisible dependence of American cities on municipal debt to fund basic infrastructure has devastating consequences for democracy and entrenches spatial, racial, and wealth disparities.”

Is it possible to describe the complexity and absurdity of motherhood? The Conversation

Antidote du Jour ( via)

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. The Rev Kev

    “Heat wave scorches India’s wheat crop, snags export plans”

    Well, that’s not good. There is chaos enough with world wheat exports because of the war in the Ukraine disrupting exports and now it looks like India won’t be able to plug the gap because of that heat wave. Come to think of it, it might get worse down the track. The Ukraine is only planting a fraction of the wheat that they normally plant and if India gets hit with another heat wave, world wheat shortages may be an ongoing problem. Is there a crop, like barley for example, that could be a wheat substitute that is not experiencing shortages?

    1. Polar Socialist

      I’ve understood most of Ukraine’s wheat was planted in autumn and will be harvested in June-July. If the harvest is successful the main limiting factor will be the sanctions, since 25 – 45% (depending on the situation) of the production will be priced in rubles.

      If only half of Ukrainian wheat reaches the market, it means 4.5% less than “normally”. Which probably is less than is thrown away in “first world” annually, but nevertheless the markets will adjust and the poor will go hungry.

      1. The Rev Kev

        It may be that wheat production will be more problematical then at first thought. By the autumn, I doubt that the country of the Ukraine will have a coastline left at all. So to get their wheat to market, they will either have to lease facilities in former Ukrainian ports aboard wheat-carrying ships or to send wheat by rail to another country’s port which is less efficient. But wait, there’s more. I just checked to see where the wheat growing districts are in the Ukraine and they are not where I thought that they were. Click the embedded map-

        1. Rodeo Clownfish

          Seems like the area of current heaviest fighting in Donbass is prime wheat zone. How much wheat is being trampled by tanks and other military vehicles, or blown up in artillery blasts? Seems unlikely that the fighting in the midst of the fields will not also impact harvest yields…

          1. Yves Smith

            Huh? Donbass has been a war zone since 2014.

            The fighting is around bunkers the UAF has set up. It’s one of the most heavily fortified areas it the world. By definition that isn’t a growing area.

          2. The Rev Kev

            I was reading an article that said that the farmers in the Ukraine where the fighting is have taken to wearing flak-vests and helmets while they drive their tractors. And there were the photos to prove it.

            1. OIFVet

              Wow. After all the videos of Ukie tractors inflicting heavy losses on Russian tank corps, I had come to think of them as an invincible force.

      2. Louis Fyne

        even with a relatively normal harvest and even if RU magically left Ukraine, Ukraine still will need diesel and electricity and natural gas to harvest and process raw wheat.

        That is a lot of upfront costs.

        what a mess.

      3. OIFVet

        Ukraine is looking to export its grain, whatever it manages to harvest, through Romanian and Bulgarian ports. The problem is getting the grain to these ports. Different rail gouges. So on top of the likelihood of smaller crops, there are the additional transport costs. All in all, food will keep getting more expensive.

  2. Gawr Gura

    The Time article requires a barf bag, particularly for the Nazi whitewashing.

    A small force is still holding out inside an enormous steel factory. One of their leaders, Major Serhiy Volynsky of the 36th Separate Marine Brigade, had been in touch with Zelensky for weeks. “We know each other well by now,” Zelensky told me. Most days they call or text each other, sometimes in the middle of the night. Early on, the soldier sent the President a selfie they had taken together long before the invasion. “We’re even embracing there, like friends,” he says.

    The Russian assault on Mariupol has decimated the brigade. Zelensky told me about 200 of its troops have survived. Before they found shelter and supplies inside the steel factory, they had run out of food, water, and ammunition.“They had it very hard,” Zelensky says. “We tried to support each other.”


      1. ilpalazzo

        It is an ancient ornamental pattern, used in greek pottery and architecture, as early as Mycenaean period AFAIR.

        Classical Style in Architecture and decoration is supposed to induce association with Roman Empire and convey the right to govern. A well established tradition.

        1. lyman alpha blob

          Also known as the meander pattern, after the winding river in modern day Turkey.

          Also where the english verb “to meander” comes from – your grammatical tip of the day from Captain Obvious!

          It’s been around a long time, and although the US ruling class has had a long time affinity for Nazis (just ask the Bush family!), this particular Senate ornamentation doesn’t have much to do with that.

      2. jsn

        Swastikas in Greek Keys go back a couple thousand years.

        Nazi’s appropriated it, not the other way around, he building Blinkin is in probably predates Nazism.

        On the other hand, as in Gibbon’s “Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire”, the hatred of “communistic” “eastern religions” like Christianity is the toxic legacy of Western Classicism and DC was designed and built with Rome as a model.

      3. Mark Gisleson

        Grabbed that Blinken pic to send to some friends and when I adjusted the color to make the swastikas more clear, it was immediately obvious that CNN had hypersaturated the colors to obscure the design motif. Not something you would do by accident.

        1. Nikkikat

          This wouldn’t be the first time CNN altered backgrounds and skin color to fit their narrative.

    1. OIFVet

      I appreciate the picture on the cover as propaganda art. The man, the myth, the legend. It’s the finest of such propaganda mythmaking in a long time.

    2. Revenant

      To be fair, the marine brigade is not the Azov brigade. They may still be Nazis, for all I know, but I like to think they are not and whole post-Apocalyptic bunker is one giant Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau Odd Couple.

      1. Dr. John Carpenter

        The UN famously said it could end world hunger for $6 billion. Musk claimed he’d sell off stock and do it if they could show how it’s done. They did and he didn’t. Shocker.

        But yeah, I think this is yet another reason the dogs aren’t eating the dog food on Ukraine here in the US. Biden and the Dems have been a constant stream of “how you gonna pay for it?” when people are asking for the most basic things. Yet $33 billion magically appears for Ukrainian war toys? (and I’m assuming it’s all missiles and whatnot as Zelenski never asks for humanitarian aid, just more implements of destruction.)

        1. clarky90

          For the sake of maximum transparency, a query to NC accountancy boffins? Is The Big Guy’s 10%, subtracted from the 33 billion dollars of military aid to the Ukraine, or is it in addition to?

          Thanks in advance!

      2. Nikkikat

        I also thought of that when I saw the 33 billion. While the city where I live has a bunch of downtown elites patting them selves on the back for creating a tent city they have set up to house 50 homeless families. Well, gee whiz we’ve solved the homeless problem! Tents in a vacant lot, was the answer we’ve all been looking for all along!

        1. newcatty

          Remember the crass and awful “cute joke” about poor old people resorting to eating canned cat food? Now, they are in competition with felines for fancy cat food (s). Have no problem with cats being well fed. We are owned by a confident cat. Hungry seniors. Hungry children and families. Homeless families living in tents cities. Let er rip. What will be a rip that results in a torn society?

    1. flora

      from the full article. (I remember this.) :

      Of course none of the blue-check warriors currently howling about Musk cared then, because to them, such left-leaning critics of the Democratic Party might as well have been Russian agents. The Washington Post all but said as much in late 2016 when it ran a fawning profile of the anonymous smear artists PropOrNot, who’d compiled a list of “200 websites that… wittingly or unwittingly published or echoed Russian propaganda.” Imagine the gall of the Washington Post editor who approved the line that accused sites as diverse as, Truthdig, Naked Capitalism,, and the Ron Paul Institute of (at least perhaps) wittingly helping an alleged election-fixing conspiracy! But of course, that wasn’t harassment or abuse, since those were strictly Trumpian phenomena.

  3. vao

    Former French president Chirac reputedly said that “troubles always fly in squadrons” (or in the more colloquial original: “Les emmerdes, ça vole toujours en escadrille”).

    Just last week, Kazakhstan restricted its exports of wheat. In March, after Russia and Ukraine announcing export bans, Hungary, Serbia, Algeria, and Egypt did likewise (most countries banning the export, resp. the re-export, of a wide range of foodstuff, not just wheat), while Indonesia just blocked the export of palm oil.

    The globalized food supply chain seems to be unravelling — dominoes falling and all that…

    1. JohnA

      I guess that is a mangling of Claudius’ words in Hamlet ‘When sorrows come, they come not single spies, but in battalions’.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Just last week, Kazakhstan restricted its exports of wheat. In March, after Russia and Ukraine announcing export bans, Hungary, Serbia, Algeria, and Egypt did likewise (most countries banning the export, resp. the re-export, of a wide range of foodstuff, not just wheat), while Indonesia just blocked the export of palm oil.

      Thanks for the research.

  4. Larry

    While I appreciate that Elon Musk is correct in that Tweet, it is highly unlikely his rule would be anything good for so called free speech on Twitter.

    Some highlights of Elon’s illustrious career of gaslighting and intimidating critics:

    Calls the Thai cave rescue a pedophile for making fun of Elon’s phony attention grabbing attempt to build a mini-sub. Hired private investigators to destroy the rescuers credibility.

    Calls Montana Skeptics employer, doxxing his ID, because MS is a short seller of Tesla and lays his skeptics case out on Seeking Alpha.

    Potentially SWATS a whistleblower employee at his Nevada battery factory for exposing potential fraud in accounting for materials.

    I could go on. But the right wing thinking that Elon is the savior of Twitter really doesn’t hold water when reflected against how Elon acts against any and all critics.

    1. TimH

      Remember the exact quote:

      Musk is right:

      Suspending the Twitter account of a major news organization for publishing a truthful story was obviously incredibly inappropriate

      Betya it’s the major news organization that he sees as the issue, not the publishing a truthful story.

    2. Oisin

      The right wing thinking like Musks anti union BS. Plus many covet the return of the orange man.

    3. lyman alpha blob

      Let’s not forget the “We’ll coup whoever we want!” remark regarding the US-sponsored overthrow of Evo Morales in Bolivia, where all the lithium Musk wants for his car batteries just happens to be.

    4. Reaville

      I wrote for Seeking Alpha as well. Montana Skeptic (MS) was toxic, made things up, and was completely and utterly wrong. He was writing for SA when I was wrote 2 articles (one positive, one neutral) about Tesla last year (so the idea that he got run off SA in 2018 as the link says was wrong). I think MS felt he was untouchable. He wrote as if he were fronting for the Tesla short sellers (a group of powerful Wall Street personalities who got absolutely massacred). MS wrote many awful personal attacks against Musk calling him a fraud and much worse. Musk may be very flawed, but his engineering and managerial performance in running Tesla has been historically great. Considering that SA was first and foremost an investing forum, its reason for being was to publish investing advice. What MS produced were takedowns mainly of Musk himself. It was actually amazing to see MS try to explain how Tesla was about to fail as it hit milestone after milestone with remarkably few problems. I am completely not surprised that Musk fought back with every tool he could bring to hand. A word of advice to those like MS, if you play with the elephants, expect to get trampled. Especially in this case when Musk had the facts on his side.

      I have no position in Tesla and am very cynical about its current valuation given that its main “tech” product, Full Self Driving (over-confidently named), is an annual failure. Tesla’s share price could easily get cut in half in a bear market. However, none of that is consistent with anything that MS ever wrote. He and many of his like minded supporters (electric cars are a socialist plot, battery tech doesn’t work, Tesla makes bad cars, climate change is a myth, diesel is far superior, hydrogen is the real solution, blah-blah-blah) have generally abandoned the SA Tesla beat. Coincidentally, the big short sellers have also abandoned their trades. Maybe not a coincidence.

  5. DJG, Reality Czar

    The Multipolarista link leads to a series of articles, all of which are worth a look. In the so-called fog of war, it turns out that many other horrible things are going on. (Pakistan, change of government, for one.)

    The articles point out that NATO acted unilaterally in the former Yugoslavia–and who benefited from the dissolution of Yugoslavia? Not the Yugoslavs. Further, it would be much more awkward to pull the crap that NATO is pulling if a unified Yugoslavia had remained in place, rather than a bunch of small, defenseless, mini-states.

    Yet the mess that NATO made of Yugoslavia translates quite well into current Ukraine and Russia policy. Break things, and let other people suffer. Get a war on one’s résumé, like Blinken, Nuland, and Hillary (She’s Running) Clinton.

    And if this isn’t telling with regard to what will happen to internal Ukrainian politics:

    To quote: “In 2014, a wave of anti-privatization and anti-corruption protests began in Tuzla, a mainly Muslim mining town in Bosnia known for a tradition of socialist and labour militancy.

    “The protests were notable for broad solidarity between Muslim, Croat, and Serb protestors, and the shared contempt for the dysfunctional administrative structures and nationalist elites (including the aforementioned Dodik) created by Dayton.”

    The response? To quote: “In response, the Western-appointed High Representative threatened to suppress the protests with Austrian troops.”

    I hope that Christian Smalls and the ALU are watching: This is in the cards for them, too.

    1. hemeantwell

      Peter Gowan wrote a fine New Left Review article back in 1999 on the NATO intervention in Yugoslavia. It is a must read because
      1. not only does it cover that conflict at a point when there was considerable critical consensus about how the US and NATO had worked up the conflict — there was mass support for keeping Yugoslavia whole, but it fell apart into communal conflict due to machinations of the Germans and the IMF that broke down the remnants of Tito’s confederative bargaining system — and then drove it along — e.g. the US’ use of Bosnia to disrupt peace efforts led by Germany and France to block the formation of a post-NATO alliance less dependent on the US
      2. but it also reveals an inescapably obvious resonance with the runup to the Ukraine war, with the US again delaying and deterring peace efforts in order to pursue a hegemonic agenda. Again, highly recommended.

  6. solarjay

    Water use.
    Look I’m not supporting lawns but its just another article that flat out lies through omission. As if watering lawns is the reason for the drought.
    The short version, is that 8-11% of california water use is urban. And lawns might use 50% of that, or roughly 5% of the state water. Yeah its a stupid amount but is almost a rounding error. Sure better for that to go to agriculture or human use, yes.

      1. Michael

        Here in San Diego, we are turning golf courses into housing tracts. Thousands of units displace open space and privacy according to homeowners.

        Which uses more water? Which pays more taxes? Which is more friendly to the environment? Who plays golf anymore anyway?


        1. Wukchumni

          I got my MPGA tour card after a hole in one on the windmill hole (Par-2), and am anxious to rake in the big money now playing against the greats.

        2. CanCyn

          Golf was definitely dying out pre-pandemic. Clubs no longer had waiting lists, the fancy places were reducing annual fees and dropping initiation fees. Then along came the pandemic, and what was deemed boring became a safe way to get in a walk and some socializing outdoors. Waitlists are back and fees are up.
          My hubby plays golf and watches the PGA. We note that the fans at tournaments skew older but there are a fair amount of youngsters in the mix. Be interesting to see what happens post pandemic.

          1. Wukchumni

            Watching golf die off was tantamount to a hearse waiting outside an Elks Lodge, and then the pandemic came along and ruined everything.

          2. lyman alpha blob

            Golf really took off in the mid-90s when Tiger Woods came along. I don’t have figures at my fingertips, but I believe course construction increased dramatically at that time. Glad it’s finally tapering off.

            To quote the late great Al Czervik, country clubs and cemeteries are the biggest wastes of prime real estate, although I do disagree with his prescription of condo developments instead.

            One great thing about too many golf courses – you can reclaim the land later by pretty much doing nothing. Not so with most other land use these days. Looking long term, I’d much rather see a gold course built than skyscrapers or freeways.

          3. Lambert Strether Post author

            > My hubby plays golf and watches the PGA. We note that the fans at tournaments skew older but there are a fair amount of youngsters in the mix. Be interesting to see what happens post pandemic.

            Golf is actually a not un-neat sport (I watched it with my father a lot when I was young). But especially when played on a real brain- and heart-destroying links where frustration and despair built in, as in Scotland, and not on one of these manicured American courses, which are a lot like bloated American cars.

      2. Nikkikat

        I lived there when they had the last water issues. Sprinklers on golf courses running in the middle of the day and the same on the huge estates throughout Beverly Hills. Rich people ignored the rules. They watered their lush gardens every day. Meanwhile the local news was telling the rest of us to save water, by putting a bucket in the shower. The city had the water police monitoring our neighborhoods. Writing tickets if so much as a drop of water landed on the side walk. We were allowed to water before 8 am or after 5pm two days a week. We had to use a sprinkler on a hose, not sprinkler systems. They loved to pretend that it was us that were wasteful.

        1. CanCyn

          I recall a story about Oprah paying for truck loads of ‘private’ water to keep her estate green during drought and watering restrictions. She wasn’t using municipal water so no harm no foul. Sigh. The rich really are different and it ain’t a good difference.
          Re golf – my husband didn’t play for many years during the Tiger Woods hysteria. Bar carts zooming around the course to keep players ‘watered’ ain’t exactly they way he learned the game. Had only gone back as things quieted down pre pandemic. He isn’t a member at a fancy club and the place he plays does little in the way of pesticide or herbicide. We recently watched an Arizona PGA tournament – water traps, green grass, how much water is being wasted on golf courses everywhere, not just CA? Many places do try to do things more sustainably but obviously there are better things to do with a piece of land. I was never interested in taking up the game myself, partially because of the environmental problems and partially because my husband‘s habit provides my ‘me time’ – needed more than ever since retirement. Overall though, I do have to agree with Lyman ab that a golf course is better than a skyscraper.

    1. t

      Thanks for this. The crazy use of water in California in parts of California that are not otherwise suitable for agriculture is almost never mentioned. People go on and on about cats killing the type of birds who are the recipients of the zillion dollar wild bird food industry with not a mumbling word about the enormous cost to migratory bird species flying around our giant noisy brightly-lit cities. (NC did have a link a while back about turning off lights and big airplanes having fit.)

    2. Reaville

      California has a water use issue that cannot be discussed: water is exported in the form of nuts. Think about the insanity of being in a drought and exporting water because “markets” and “freedom”. So the political class struts up on stage and gives us performative politics about lawns but won’t lay a hand big ag and almonds.

      I get it. The pain of rearranging the economy and the state’s infrastructure is too much to bear.

      Saw this coming years ago and sold up my NorCal home in March. I now live in Puget Sound where it rains a bit a lot. Water is life and I am delighted to see it fall from the sky. Had to leave 20 years ago because of military moves and family ties to Sacramento area. Relieved to be back up here.

      1. Grateful Dude

        Have you seen the rice paddies above Sacto up the Feather River to Oroville? Thousands of acres knee-deep in water for rice that’s exported. Rich ranchers all around who control the irrigation districts.

    3. XXYY

      My memory is that 85% of CA’s water use is agricultural.

      Of course, agriculture is a legitimate and vital industry, but the long era of cheap or free water for farmers in the state has led us to a weird and surreal place where low-flow toilets are legitimately seen as the solution to the state’s water shortage.

      1. juno mas

        Well, agricultural consumption is about 75% in Cali. The issue is not a total lack of water. The issue is the ALLOTMENT of the little water in the reservoirs in CA and beyond. Municipal water districts have to live with negotiated allotments and they prefer that their citizens use that scarce water indoors, and not washing the driveway or runoff from the lawn. Three minute showers are not here… Yet!

  7. SocalJimObjects

    I am not an old China hand, but I actually have read the entirety of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms. The Indonesian translation, not the original text because my Mandarin was not good enough back then. Anyway, the battle that the little girl referred to in the video is the following: For anyone who has a passing familiarity with the novel (one of the so called 4 great works of classical Chinese literature), the Wikipedia page should serve as a pretty good refresher of that critical battle.

    Anyway the battle took place sometime after the fall of the Shu Han Dynasty. Cao Cao (“NATO”) wanted to reunite all of China and for that to happen he had to conquer the Southern Wu region (“Russia”) under the control of Sun Quan. The Jing Province (“Ukraine”), due to its very strategic location became the launching point of Cao Cao (“NATO”)’s invasion into the South. Cao Cao was eventually defeated and each of the major players ended up becoming the hegemon of his own territory, hence the Three Kingdoms.

    The novel is long and complex (never boring though), so I am sure I haven’t done justice to it with my short summary. I will leave the comparison between the novel and today’s Ukraine situation to smarter readers :)

  8. Safety First

    Re: little Chinese girl’s “Three Kingdoms” inspired analysis of Ukraine.

    I would not call myself a “China hand”, but I have specifically read “Three Kingdoms” extensively while at uni. One might say “Three Kingdoms” is kind of like China’s equivalent of “The Ilyad” and “The Odyssey” put together, but much longer still (~2k pages in paperback), filled with vastly more events and characters (but no gods whatsoever), and with considerably more depth once you drill into Confucian thought. Referencing various well-known stories from the novel is sort of like saying “I am caught between Scylla and Charybdis”, or “that’s your Achilles’ heel”, or “Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra”. Which I guess no-one does anymore, but you get the point.

    The events the little girl is talking about happen around Chapters 45-49 out 120, but they are also some of the most dramatic in the book, and also some of the most important – it is the battle of Chi Bi (“Red Cliffs”) that actually causes the titular three kingdoms to form out of the remnants of the Han Empire.

    Now, the book itself actually has levels, and the girl kind of stays near the surface, as one would expect from a…seven year old? But let us consider how she identifies the various sides.

    NATO is Cao Cao. Cao Cao is kind of like a villain for a significant portion of the book, although he is not one of the clear-dead-on-baddies-who-are-awful, but rather an intelligent man filled with ruthless ambition. [I should mention that the total character count goes past one thousand, so…you get at least one of everything.] As the Han Empire falls apart, he rises to become the head cheese in the northern part (eventually called the Kingdom of Wei) – but as prime minister with a figurehead for an emperor, fully in accord with Confucian governance – and his ambition is to restore the whole of the empire. He is the aggressor in many of the wars in the first two thirds of the book (until his death, around two decades after the partition), and generally possesses superior military forces, which his opponents counter with virtue and wisdom. Ironically, the north eventually does win, but decades after Cao Cao’s death, the girl clearly hasn’t made it to that part yet.

    Russia, interestingly, is the Kingdom of Wu. So as the Han Empire disintegrated, an aristocrat and great warrior called Sun Jian (“The Tiger of Jiangdong”), together with his sons, end up carving out a vast kingdom for themselves in the southeast. Actually, Sun Jian dies pretty early on, in battle, of course, so by Chi Bi the Wu are led by his equally militant son Sun Ce (also dies fairly quickly). The Wu, notably, are not the book’s “good guys”, more like – allies of the “good guys” through the battle of Chi Bi, but at some point afterwards going their own way and eventually becoming enemies, but in a series-of-unfortunate-events kind of way. The north ultimately wins, in fact, by exploiting this division, taking Wu out first after many, many, many vicious battles, but again, we are only up to the battle of Chi Bi here. So the Wu are still allies, and fairly virtuous and family-oriented, though also very warlike and doing much of the actual fighting during the battle. Remember this bit also.

    The girl does not mention the “good guys” at all – who, after Chi BI, end up forming the Kingdom of Shu in the southwest. They are led by Liu Bei, a relative of the original Han emperor and thus a legitimate successor, his sworn friends (names unimportant here), and, most importantly, the core protagonist and Cao Cao’s main opponent through much of the book, his “wise man” advisor, Zhuge Liang (a.k.a. Kongming, his “courtesy name”). Understand, the Confucian ideal for governance is, in very simple terms, a figurehead (hence “virtuous”) ruler with the officials of his bureaucracy actually running the place; Cao Cao is the “bad” bureaucrat, who is led astray by his ambition; Kongming is the “good bureaucrat”, who, err, keeps the faith, so to speak. [The whole “Three Kingdoms” story, on one level, is about how states prosper when the Confucian governance ideal is observed, and fall when it is not, i.e. when rulers and generals decide to start running things themselves bypassing the bureaucrats.] He is the one who orchestrates the victory at Chi Bi (the brains to Wu’s brawn), the alliance between Shu and Wu (by marriage, even!), and on and on and on. I am guessing the girl identifies China with Shu and Liu Bei/Kongming, but we do not have that on tape, so…

    Finally, Zelensky is Liu Cong, a very minor character, actually. He is a younger son of a provincial ruler, who leapfrogs his elder brother due to his mother’s intrigue, surrenders a key province to Cao Cao – and its huge army and fleet. Crucially, it is this infusion of men and ships that sets up the chain of events that leads to Chi Bi, so the girl’s interpretation here, that it’s just the buffer-zone-province, is a bit simplistic. After Cao Cao annexes the land, he attempts to appoint Liu Cong to another distant province (to remove him from the political scene, so to speak), but Liu Cong refuses, at which point Cao Cao has him killed. This is what the girl refers to at the end, a pawn that has outlived its usefulness is disposed of.

    As for Chi Bi itself, the basic idea is that Cao Cao showed up with a vastly superior force (>800 thousand men and I think 10 thousand ships or more), but was outwitted on multiple occasions (mostly by Kongming), and his force was destroyed in a bold attack involving fire ships being rammed into his fleet (among other things). Then, after the battle, a “multi-polar world” was created, with Shu, Wu and Wei equally sovereign and not really capable of destroying one another for many decades. Again, you have to adjust all this to what a seven year old might be reading (surely an abridged version of some sort?), and what they take away from it, but there you are, defeat of a vastly superior force leads to a new world order.

    I am sure by now it is fairly evident that the girl’s analysis falls very much in line with at least some of the tenets of China’s official position. Whether she’s just read the book and applied something that looks broadly similar to what she’s been taught about Russia/Ukraine/NATO, or whether the Chinese schools/media are making that explicit connection, I have no idea. But I am 146% certain (old Russian election joke…) that she is not the only person living in China who is viewing the events in this sort of framework and using these kinds of literary identities.

    Finally, I should mention that back in 2008-2009 there was a hugely popular two-part Chinese film (John Woo directing!) about Chi Bi – the English version is called “Red Cliff”. Very, very well done, and about 60%-70% of it directly reflects what’s in the book…though I personally quibble with the other 30%, especially how they completely and utterly changed one of the principal characters to force a romance with Liu Bei. But if you don’t wish to slog through the text, and do not mind stylised “Kung Fu Slo Mo” type action, I highly recommend.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      I would not want to demean that little girl’s intuition, but most Chinese kids that age will be fully aware of the Battle of the Red Cliffs from a variety of children’s books dramatizing the event, as well as plenty of movies and TV shows (Chinese parents are rarely as hesitant as western ones to show violent movies to children).

      I grew up reading children’s dramatizations of historical events, many of them very bloodthirsty. That rapidly went out of fashion as it seems it was felt it was turning kids into…. well, whatever it is they didn’t want us to turn in to. Looking at kids historical books now, they are remarkably anemic, as they seem determined not to give offence to anyone. From the little I know of Chinese children’s history books and TV shows, they don’t share the same squeamishness about romanticizing the heroic deeds of the past, so long as its in line with Beijings thinking.

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      While I know absolutely nothing about how “inspired” her “analysis” of this story is, I’m blown away by how articulate, speaking English fer chrissakes, she is.

      How old is she–9 or 10?

      I wonder how many american 9 or 10-year-olds could even use the word “nato” in a sentence, or use the concept in a discussion of a classic story they’d actually read in English let alone Chinese.

      I’ll bet she even knows how to properly pluralize in English without apostrophes, the difference between there, their and they’re, and can pronounce the word “kleptocracy.”


    3. Olivier

      Many thanks for this summary. That Twitter video in Chinese, with no subtitles, was very frustrating. I was about to ask here if anyone had a transcript.

  9. Mildred Montana

    >Why Aren’t Rich People Happier? A Wealth of Commonsense. “Well, money is money. I mean you can’t buy happiness, sir, but it sure takes the sting out of being unhappy.” –John D. MacDonald, Darker than Amber.

    Two more relevant quotes:

    “Money doesn’t solve your problems; it just means money isn’t one of your problems.”
    “Money can’t buy you happiness, but it can buy your preferred form of misery.”

    P.S. In my seventy years I’ve been both well-off and dirt-poor. As far as happiness went, not a big difference either way. At the moment I’m sitting somewhere in the middle. Seems about right to me.

    1. Carla

      Until I read Matthew Desmond’s “Evicted,” I realized I had no idea what dirt-poor meant. As a young married woman with a new baby and a husband with job-retention problems (he was bright and in a booming field and a strong economy — the problem really was him), I thought we were poor because we ate a lot of tuna fish and I sometimes had to ask my mother to float us a loan. I was clue-less.

    2. Chris

      Nice to see John D. MacDonald quote, not seeing many of his books in book stores and thrift shops anymore. Sad, because he was a very good, insightful writer. Perhaps not as popular because somewhat dated — 50s, 60s, 70s ambience.

      1. TimH

        John D. MacD. used his characters in the McGee novels to bemoan the residential overdevelopment of the Florida coastline… in the 1960s.

          1. tegnost

            Tomorrow is Independent bookstore day.

            A lot of those classic writers are available but the prices are a little higher these days. Still, I scored a hardcover charlie chan omnibus for 8 bucks so get out there and search the stacks…
            There’s a lot of pulp fiction out there
            Right now I’m on Mickey Spillane’s “The Deep”

      2. Reaville

        Absolutely a great writer. He made the underside of Florida live. So, for those who know, raise a glass to the “Busted Flush” and Travis McGee. Those books provided many happy hours of reading.

      3. Janie

        For updates on Florida development, try Carl Hiassen’s hilariously satirical novels. He’s a retired Miami Herald reporter.

  10. Questa Nota

    Under-35 people have it right about Ukraine. They, like the Vietnam Generation, don’t see the point in being conscripted to fight and die some in some distant war, let alone pay taxes for that. They see that the vaunted, damned, DC Consensus doesn’t include their interests.

    They ask, isn’t it time for the usual suspects to fade away? All those Congressional resignations and retirements and refusals to run seem to point toward that.

    1. Mikel

      “let alone pay taxes for that”

      Since the 20th century, MMT has been used to fund wars and the military – the printing and lending.

      I think the basic, simplified breakdown from what I’ve gathered about how fiat and MMT would ideally work: the printing and lending will work as long as certain employment levels are maintained. Taxes are used to control inflation. not raise money.

      People that have studied more about it can give more detail or correction.

      1. .human

        I consider withholding of personal tax liabilities a courageous method of non-violent protest to throw more sand into the gears of destruction regardless of the consequences of the actual mechanism involved.

    1. Samuel Conner

      Perhaps it’s an opening salvo in a policy of suppressing citizen self-reliance in the form of home gardening (menthol being a significant component of the garden herb Peppermint.)

      Some years ago when there was a scare in right-ish forums about some new proposed small business regulations, I saw suggestions that the new rules could be weaponized to prohibit backyard gardening. I did not take the concerns seriously at the time. But in the present context of increasing food insecurity, the thought occurs that governments interested in comprehensive control of the population might not look favorably on citizens’ efforts in the direction of individual-scale autarky.

    2. Tater

      “Re: FDA menthol cig ban. A little late in the game doncha think? Methinks something is not on the up and up–what it is, I haven’t a clue but the elite class are a shifty bunch”

      It’s on page 26 of the idpol wokeism playbook, in the section titled ”trick plays” (the subsumption of class into color – look at us, we savin’ black folk’s lives!).

        1. Tater

          Thank you kat. I approvingly assume “defiantly” not to be a typo … if’n that is otay with you.

  11. Wukchumni

    A day of discovery…

    Was working the legs shift from 9 to 5 yesterday with all the best intentions of exploring the long abandoned Lovelace trail with the NPS archaeologist when we strayed.

    You see, both of us are really into enigmatic tubs sunk into granite, or as she always chides me in regards to, by using the rather pedestrian ‘rock basins’ as per accepted terminology.

    I’d talked to this guy we met on the road on a previous hike, and in addition to the 7 tubs each around 4 feet wide and 3 feet deep-along with 7 mortars (grinding holes) on a boulder that we knew about and had been to, he told us of another set of 5 that we searched in vain for a few weeks ago, which only made us want to see them, all the more.

    We spent an hour looking at so many possible candidates only to find bupkis on top of the 100 of so boulders of size strewn about and had given up the search for lunch when we came across a set of 3 tubs with the openings being 4, 5 and 6 feet wide, the latter the largest opening both of us had ever seen, and the site was undocumented as an added bonus. She spent an hour with measuring tape and other tools of the trade sizing up what we’d blundered onto, and then in quick progression found 2 more undocumented basin sites in the vicinity. We never did locate the set of 5 we’d been looking for, ha ha.

    They really are the perfect artifact, who is going to make off with a tub sunk into a granite boulder weighing many tons?

    And as far as artifacts go, these will be around forever…

    1. petal

      Wuk, that is very cool! A big congratulations on the finds! The 5 will turn up when you stop looking for them.

      1. Tater

        Yes Wuk, very cool. And I learned a new word – “middens”.
        Will you share your finds with the academic conservationists?

        1. Wukchumni

          I’m not sure where the information goes, but i’d imagine that sharing goes on within the academic community.

    2. The Rev Kev

      I know that it might take a bit of the fun and adventure out of your walks with that archaeologist but what about using a drone to do a quick bit of scouting ahead now that a lot of the rubbish has been burnt away? They have been doing aerial archaeology for about a century now so if a drone was used, perhaps early in the morning or late in the day when more shadows would be cast by the sides of those “dishes.” Great linked article that by the way as it was great reading.

      1. Wukchumni

        The sites used to be visible from sat images, but NPS requested that said sites be blurred out, so i’d guess you look for blurs, eh?

        It’s a lot more fun going on a off-trail walkabout, no satellite image was going to show me the magnificent fire spalling on a boulder where it looked as if jigsaw pieces of granite had fallen from the ceiling, or the many Sierra Newts we glimpsed.

        1. The Rev Kev

          I like that philosophy. Any plans for keeping the Lovelace trail clear or will it be eventually be reclaimed by vegetation as time goes by?

          1. Wukchumni

            It’ll revert to nature until another inferno comes along, Sequoia NP has enough on its plate keeping existing trails open…

            …and by the way, I heard about a death in the family

            The Bearpaw Meadow High Sierra Camp in Sequoia NP on the High Sierra Trail about a dozen mile walk in, will be closed permanently and dismantled-the end of an era starting in 1934. It only had room for 12 guests.

            It’s demise comes on account of multiple reasons-the state regulating water systems with much greater scrutiny, the idea that it has to be supplied by stock, and packers are few and far between, and it was only open 3 months a year, and kind of a pain in the arse for the concessionaire.

            Here’s what you missed~

            In Your Backyard – Bearpaw High Sierra Camp


            1. Janie

              I loved staying at the High Sierra camps in Yosemite. I also loved Nic Fiore popping out of nowhere, anywhere.

    3. super extra

      Regarding mysterious basins of native american origin, I recently learned that the Muisca of Colombia ‘mined’ for emeralds using holes sunk into hillsides where scree and gravel came down with rain. The emeralds would be washed out of the gravel and caught in the holes for later retrieval. I believe this method was also used for gold.

      1. Wukchumni

        There’s a whole lot of nothing aside from granite in Sierra Nevada boulders, so a nice possibility, but no.

        I often wonder how disappointed 49’ers must have been looking for their proverbial pot of gold in the higher climes, there’s nothing aside from lots of pyrite.

  12. upstater

    re. Medicare Advantage Plans Often Deny Needed Care, Federal Report Finds NYT

    No, duh… family anecdata:

    Quite the mess with my 85 yo mother inlaw. She was in South Carolina, fell, broke hip and pelvis on April 2. Nine days in hospital, sticker price $240K, don’t know yet about inevitable surprise billing.

    Sister inlaw had to pay $15K out of pocket to get her discharged, plus $5K transport back to Syracuse area.

    She is now in a local private equity owned rehab. She got COVID within 3 days (BA.2.12 made its first US appearance here!). A dozen staff are out with COVID, at least that many patients as well. She gets virtually no PT, hasn’t seen an MD all week. She can’t get an orthopedic consultation to prescribe new PT or prescription for home care and equipment. Linens go unchanged, seldom getting bathed. I have no idea what the daily rate is for rehab.

    My wife was changing her to traditional Medicare and supplement, effective on May 1.

    Yesterday we found out her Aetna Medicare Advantage is dropping her effective today, tomorrow is self-pay. “You can appeal”…

    But getting dropped had nothing to do with the coverage change, both the facility and the insurance agent said. Supposedly a common occurrence we were told. WTF…

    My mom passed in February 2021, father inlaw last November, now this. The levels of care in hospital, local physicians, care facilities are atrocious. So kids, don’t get sick!

    USA!USA! WE’RE #1!

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Kind of surprised that your MIL’s Medicare Advantage plan is dropping her. One of the big complaints against Medicare Advantage is that if a “subscriber” is sicker than the insurance company “planned for,” they go to the feds who pay the company more money. Trying to make subscribers appear “sicker” than they actually are is supposedly a big part of the MA grift.

      I’d humbly ask you to keep us Medicare recipients informed on how the switch back to traditional Medicare plus supplement goes under these circumstances. (I certainly don’t want to run afoul of site policies wrt “assignments.”) When first choosing a Medicare plan at age 65, those of us inclined to choose MA are warned multiple times that after the first year, supplement plan providers can and will use medical underwriting to decide whether to sell you a supplemental plan at all, and are permitted to consider pre-existing conditions, including age, in determining the premium, which gets pricier the further away from 65 you get.

      All due respect, but your MIL would seem to be in a pretty difficult position with respect to buying a supplemental plan at this point. As I said, I’ll be curious to see how this works out “in the real world.”

      1. upstater

        One of the benefits of living in NYS is it is one if only a few states that allow easy switching of Medicare plans and do not allow underwriting. Effective May 1 MIL will have her new plan in force. I understand it can be very difficult to switch in many states and underwriting is common.

        The rehab said the change should not be a problem. The challenge we’ll face is finding a good GP or geriatric practice after we extract her from the skinny network.

        My mom had traditional Medicare and a supplement from my deceased father’s employer, fully paid. She had the same GP and cardiologist for 20+ years until her passing. The continuity was very helpful for her and her sons! There were very few surprises…

      1. Maritimer

        CDN Public Healthcare

        Spoke to a vaccinated, 70 year old neighbor today. He has a blood clot problem which Docs say needs MRI. MRI is scheduled to occur July, 2023. That is nineteen months from today, even if it actually does occur then. When I suggested that he travel to one of Canada’s few private healthcare clinics or to the US and actually pay for an MRI he thought I was nuts.

        Better to wait for a MRI freebie than actually be out of pocket any $$$. Free vaccine and free MRI what a great CDN healthcare system.

  13. kriptid

    RE: New Not-So-Cold War

    I’ve been thirsting for more military-tactical analysis that mostly ignores the “News of the Day” in favor of facts-on-the-ground, i.e. where the fighting is happening, what are the actual military targets. Less of the “Grand Scheme” commentary. Obviously impossible in the MSM, and often gets a quick gloss by the alternative sources (the Saker Sit Reps excepted).

    I’ve been hunting for something that fits the bill and have found a couple of YouTube channels that are exactly this: daily updates of the military frontlines but minimal high-level strategic commentary. Essentially, they’re farming info from both Western and Russian sources along with Twitter/Telegram and distilling it into a daily video showing changes in the locations of the frontline, recent battles, etc. There’s a map onscreen so you can follow along.

    I suspect some of the commentariat that will find some value here. Both are extremely neutral, almost to a fault. Defense Politics Asia is a bit jokey at times but has an interactive map in the links you can follow yourself. War in Ukraine is more succinct and polished with better detail of the military formations and movements. Production values are not high (these channels barely have 10K subs), but I’ve struggled to find anything else that aggregates info this way. Both are uploading new videos daily at the moment. Worth checking out if you’re lusting after even-more granular Ukraine coverage in your life, like me, and I think many here will agree that the coverage they’re providing is excellent:

    Defense Politics Asia:

    War in Ukraine:

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      In regards to the strategic situation, I don’t mean to sound like a jerk, but only up a highway map and a topography map, locate bridges, and remember tanks don’t swim. The middle part of Ukraine is just vast wheat fields with no way to control it, and the Western part is considerably more rugged.

      Basically, the Russians have 60,000 Ukrainian soldiers trained and equipped to destroy the Donbass trapped with one bridge across the Dnepier available to them. The Russia so destroyed Ukrainian air assets and supplies. They’ve moved to destroying transit nodes. New supplies if the aren’t destroyed can’t be brought up. Now, the RF is going to pick at the cauldron until the Ukrainians surrender, try to fight out which is hard without supplies, or try to escape.

      East of the Dnieper has been flooded with weapons useful for fighting occupiers. Moving East means the RF will essentially open themselves up to being shot in the back aren’t doing having to maintain supply lines. They probably won’t do this, but essentially, they can turn the Ukraine into a Euro Somalia. Refugees will flood Poland, a country thoroughly incapable of dealing with them.

      The RF has also created the conditions for a land bridge from Crimea to the republics or the RF. As to actual force disposition, you won’t get that until after the conflict and generals are hawking books.

      I would also add the energy game is part of the conflict. Europe is shooting game itself in the gut, not even the foot. The Russians don’t need to turn off gas to wreck Euro governments. They can always do it later.

  14. Patrick Donnelly

    The Saker is strange … there has not been an M.I.6 for decades.

    The WSWS is clearly not communist.

    Aurora was a project to develop a USA hypersonic plane in the 1980s. Russia is way ahead inEM, not hypersonics. Australian Universities have been developing hypersonics for many years…

    You may wish to consider quality of sources in an age where TL;DR exists as a meme or time poor response for a summary?

    1. Yves Smith

      Huh? This is Making Shit Up.

      The UK Government disagrees with you on MI6. The press refers to it all the time. First sentence:

      We are SIS – the UK’s Secret Intelligence Service – also known as MI6.

      Russia is ahead in hypersonics, specifically hypersonic missiles. Scott Ritter and other military experts confirm that.

      WSWS is Marxists which some consider communist.

      1. KD

        I think what he means is that America would be ahead in hypersonics if we hadn’t deported a scientific genius based on allegations he was a communist/Chinese Agent:

        Not clear how to work MI6 into it though. Maybe he means the kind of knee jerk jingoist McCarthyism we have come to expect of our neolib/neocon shills is continuing to bind our minds in accordance with old fashioned racist and xenophobic patterns making it highly likely we will make a similar mistake and deport some brilliant Russian because he reads Saker and then indirectly give the Russians some kind of super weapon.

      2. Safety First

        To be precise, WSWS has always billed itself as openly “trotskyist”, and explicitly reference the Fourth International (established by Trotsky & Co. in exile explicitly as a counterweight to the Soviet Union’s Third International). So definitely, certainly, without a shadow of a doubt “communist”, right down to their calling for a socialist revolution and the overthrow of capitalism at the end of what seems like every other article.

        Now, from a historical point of view, which is always my favourite, if you dig into Trotsky’s biography and writings (pre- and post-exile), the whole concept of “trotskyism” becomes extraordinarily nebulous, not the least since the “stalinists” ended up implementing some of the very policies Trotsky had been pushing for when still in power. It does not help that Trotsky’s own views occasionally bounced around like a rabbit pumped full with methamphetamines. But if you redefine the concept as “the left wing of the pre-1928 Bolshevik party”, then I guess that works. Incidentally, I suspect WSWS itself would be taken slightly aback by some of the stuff Trotsky had wanted to do back in the early 1920s (basically extend “War Communism” into peacetime, which Lenin quite rightly nixed as politically suicidal).

      3. David

        Up until roughly World War 1, the War Office (Ministry of the Army) had a Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI) as part of the General Staff. As usual, departments were numerically designated – MI1, MI2 etc. MI5 was responsible for domestic threats, MI6 for foreign intelligence gathering. After the War, the UK took these functions away from the military, and created the Security Service (domestic) and the Secret Intelligence Service (foreign), both civilian organisations. The old DMI continued to exist but with a much reduced and more professional focus. It was abolished in 1964 when the Defence Intelligence Staff was formed.

        But for a century now, the media has refused to accept this change, and still talks about “MI5” and “MI6”. The fact that the two organisations (SS and SIS) did not officially exist until thirty years ago had added to the confusion. So yes “MI6” doesn’t exit, but the name is impossible to get rid of.

      4. Matt McClintock

        Long time viewer. First time poster. Thank you Yves – this is exactly why I read NC.

    2. PlutoniumKun

      I have no idea why you think MI6 does not exist anymore. You can go knock on the door of their HQ in the SIS Building on the south bank of the Thames if you want to check them out.

      Aurora almost certainly didn’t exist. Speculation filled aerospace magazines for decades, but if it was ever flown, nothing came from it. It was probably just a headfake project to distract attention from other projects, especially the B1.

      And the old Soviet Union was very advanced in hypersonic glide vehicles, even back in the 1970’s – they tested at least one around 1979, it was photographed by a US spy plane when it landed in the Pacific. At the time, the US was convinced it was intended as a space shuttle alternative, but it was almost certainly a forerunner to the current Russian rocket launched glide vehicles.

      The US never invested heavily in hypersonics because there was little real need for them. For nuclear weapons, the vast range of missiles and cruise missiles and stealth bombers was sufficient for the west. The spur for Russia and China is that they are the only means to be sure to bypass the US’s more advanced anti-missile capacity.

      ‘True’ hypersonic weapons use scramjet technology. The Russians along with India (they have joint projects), have invested longer in them, and are probably more advanced when it comes to weaponising them. Most non-US investment (Australia included) has been for space vehicles, not for weapons. In reality, the West bet heavily on stealth, the Russians on speed, while the Chinese seem caught between both (but seem to be favouring speed).

      1. Patrick Donnelly

        They are no longer military. They are now, as you acknowledge, S.I.S., Secret Intelligence Service. M.I.5 likewise: they are the S.S., the Security Service. I admit I don’t know what happened to M.I.9. Probably abolished along with the rest?

    3. ACPAL

      “a maximum speed of Mach 5.5 at an altitude of 40,000 feet (12,000 m) was achieved.” – Wikipedia/ASALM

      Since “hypersonic” is Mach 5+ this flight means that the US had hypersonic capability in 1979. On the other hand this speed was achieved accidentally when the fuel control stuck open but the USAF could have expanded hypersonic testing at that time.

      Here’s an interesting story about this test. Past the intro is purely technical.

      1. garden breads

        He begins that story with him doing “technology exploitation” of the SA-6 “Gainfull”, i.e. the KUB ramjet anti-air missile the Soviet Union put into service back in 1967 – which just shows how far behind the Russians have always been in ramjet/scramjet /hypersonic technology.

  15. The Rev Kev

    “The Reluctant Peacemaker”

    As a UN Secretary-General, António Guterres is weak which was probably why he was chosen for the job. They don’t want another Kofi Annan in the job after all. The article admits that he had to be forced to go visit Kiev but while there, urged Russia “to accept to cooperate” with the ongoing investigation launched by the International Criminal Court. Of course he is only talking about what Russians have done but would never think of asking that Ukrainians be brought to trial for their crimes. So here is the thing. António Guterres has been UN Secretary-General since 2017. I don’t recall offhand him protesting the constant bombardments and the killing of civilians in the Donbass by the Ukrainians so as far as I am concerned, he had his chance and blew it. He has had five years to do something. And the fact that the Russians bombed Kiev while he was there let him know what they thought of him.

  16. The Rev Kev

    “China and Iran set to step up defence cooperation”

    Fortunately, in the Iranian Constitution it says that foreign bases cannot be built in their territory. If not and the Chinese were announcing that they were going to set up a facility there, Washington would call that crossing a “red line” and China getting involved in America’s “front yard”. :)

    1. JohnA

      The Norwegian constitution bans foreign bases, but the americans have created several effectively permanent bases there. The Norwegian air force also bought the F35 and were disappointed to discover all the on board flight data gets sent to the US rather than to the Norwegian air force. But ex Norwegian PM has done very well out of Nato, so that makes it all, alright.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > were disappointed to discover all the on board flight data gets sent to the US rather than to the Norwegian air force

        Needs a link, even if this is obviously what we would do.

      2. RobertC

        JohnA — disappointed to discover all the on board flight data gets sent to the US

        The Norwegian AF was disingenuous. ALIS was a public part of the F-35 from the very beginning. And has been a source of problems since then DOD Needs a Strategy for Re-Designing the F-35’s Central Logistics System with ODIN as its successor. A foreign user funded Sovereign Data Management system was offered to provide some data release control but the nature of the aircraft’s weapons supply and maintenance support requires the onboard information to be sent to Lockheed Martin. And Yes there are remote OTA “upgrades” that can enhance or perhaps disable aircraft capabilities. Foreign sovereign ownership is a fiction. Except for Israel.

        1. RobertC

          Did I mention a week or so ago that Technical Data Packages were expensive? Well Yes they are Pentagon wants $500M to get data to manage F-35 parts “It’s not a matter of data rights, it’s matter of data delivery and being able to have that data delivered is going to cost money,” Lt. Gen. Eric Fick said.

          The debate on F-35 technical data rights have been a sticking point in negotiations between the Pentagon and Lockheed in recent years, as the department has shifted its focus to lowering the sustainment cost of the aircraft. When the F-35 program was conceptualized more than two decades ago, it was structured under a “Total System Performance Responsibility” approach that gave Lockheed an unprecedented amount of power to manage the sustainment of the aircraft.

  17. KD

    New Not-So-Cold War: The blue people don’t want to mention it, but there is a racial angle to the Ukraine conflict, and the OMG the white people are fighting in Europe is rooted in white racialist sentiment. Not surprising that Black voters don’t care, just like the rest of the non-anglophone, non-NATO international community doesn’t care. What did Malcolm X say about Western Civilization? It would be a good idea.

    1. s.n.

      dunno what malcolm x said about western civ, but it was gandhi who suggested it would be a good idea

  18. The Rev Kev

    “Russia vows “lightning” response to NATO as war threatens to spill beyond Ukraine”

    So I was thinking about what happened during the 1982 Falklands war after the British were advancing across the island. There came a point where Argentinian morale collapsed and suddenly it was all over. Here, the Russians can see that they are in a NATO proxy war with the aim of weakening Russia as a stated war aim. Armaments from some forty nations around the world are being emptied to be sent to the Ukraine – along with tens of billions of dollars. It seems the idea to to give the Russians a twenty-year war and turn the Ukraine into the most militarized nation on the planet. A sort of Israel North if you like.

    That being the case, I think that is leaving the Russians only one choice. To win this war this year. Give Ukrainian soldiers two choices – surrender or die. And I have been seeing videos that may indicate that this is going on. I have read too that some of the Ukrainian reinforcements are awful young so manpower issues maybe a factor here for the Ukrainians. So my guess is that they are grinding up the Uke military until that final collapse of moral. When the Uke army in the west falls and Mariupol is completely cleaned out, that should leave the Russian army free to take the lands for the future settlement of any peace negotiations. Its vicious and dirty but this way would have less lives lost and less damage than letting it brew until the 2040s.

    1. Anthony G Stegman

      The only way Russia can end the war quickly is to use nuclear weapons. The West can supply Ukraine with unlimited quantities of conventional arms. Russia’s stockpiles will be depleted sooner than Ukraine’s stockpiles.

      1. juno mas

        As long as Russia has air superiority (including missiles) unlimited quantities of conventional weapons are not making it to the east (Donbass). And if you’ve seen the 18++ (gruesome) videos at The Saker site, there will be fewer troops to operate it. Russia may just confiscate it and sell it on the Black Market.

      2. John k

        That’s the question… who is good at making mil equipment these days? The us is not what it was in ww2, we’ve shipped our factories to China.
        Mfr already announced it will be years before they can make more stingers, and us is out. It will be years before we make any hypersonic missiles.
        Meanwhile Russia seems to be doing a great job destroying all arriving supplies before they get to the battlefield. Russia daily barrage makes it seem they have an unending supply. Ukraine is in need of new, well equipped armies, theirs is disappearing before our eyes.
        We specialize in super high profit but crappy stuff. We do make nukes, but hopefully will keep them in storage.

    1. IM Doc

      I would add this comment from an 85 year old patient this AM.

      “When I was a young mother, I took my kids to see Mary Poppins about 6 times…..Never in my wildest dreams would I have expected to see a government official do a Mary Poppins singing routine about a subject that is so consequential as censoring and first amendment rights….Did anyone screen this person?…..Did anyone realize what a complete moron she appears to be?…….

      And then the kicker that I am hearing all the time now from my patients……..”I am going to vote GOP for the first time in my life, just to make sure these clowns have some kind of oversight…..How embarassing…..”

      I had no idea what she was talking about. I had to go look it up. I almost spit out my coffee when I saw the Mary Poppins song……Whoever that woman is – she really is a joke. It really struck me as a sign of a once great power entering its terminal decline. It is almost palpable.

      I cannot tell you all how just completely unusual it is for me to have patients talking politics like they are now. And each month that goes by, it appears to be getting bleaker by the minute for the Dems. This lady above is a life long Dem.

  19. NYG

    I have no military expertise so my assessment of the tactics in Ukraine has no value. But the following may have value.

    Michael Every via Rabobank posted today:

    Renowned geostrategist Harald Malmgren again warns he fears the Russian response could be the use of a tactical nuclear weapon against Ukraine, which the West is not prepared for. Moreover, he says the current White House team has no experts in nuclear strategy to hand: it keeps trying to deescalate on the nuclear front, which can be seen as weakness rather than strength, while simultaneously trying to show strength not weakness in conventional arms and sanctions. The risks of that strategic mismatch should be clear.

    No fog here. The logic going forwards is the same binary I have argued since this started: constant escalation until one side blinks – and then a divided world economy; or a long, painful grind – leading to a divided world economy.

    1. OIFVet

      New corollary to “Don’t dine at a place that has the word Mom’s in the name:” don’t consume analysis by anyone that has the word ‘renowned’ before his job description. Why, pray tell, would Russia nuke Ukraine for the US- and EU-driven escalation?! And wouldn’t the first step to nuclear de-escalation be to stop the conventional escalation (to the latest tune of $33 billion)?! Truly, I had to delete some choice words to respect the sanity and decorum of NC.

      1. NYG

        Wikipedia: “Harald Bernard Malmgren is a scholar, ambassador, and international negotiator who has been senior aide to US Presidents John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon, and Gerald Ford,[1] and to US Senators Abraham A. Ribicoff and Russell B. Long, United States Senate Committee on Finance. He has acted as an advisor to many foreign leaders and CEOs of financial institutions and corporate businesses and has been a frequent author of articles and papers on global economic, political, and security affairs.”

        1. OIFVet

          Yeah, I did check out Wiki before I posted my original comment. Very impressive. As impressive a resume as those of the numbsculls that got us into this mess.

          1. Safety First

            If I may interject…

            …on the one hand, at this point the Russian regime has very little choice but to “win” the war. In part because the US has shut down any avenues for a climb-down, i.e. it will only stop when the Russians lose, or when Ukraine is no longer. Meanwhile, “losing” in any way, shape or form not only has grave implications for political conditions at home, but also undercuts Russia’s security objectives viz. Ukraine (e.g. not having it in NATO, not having US radars et cetera in it, and so forth).

            So when you combine these two factors – cannot afford to lose, no way to de-escalate but to win – you can totally imagine a highly improbable but not completely impossible scenario where things go very badly for the Russians, and Putin responds with tactical nuclear strikes against Ukrainian formations. To repeat, I am very highly doubtful that things will ever get this bad, at least so long as NATO troops stay out of the place (because then all bets are off), but this is why you usually want to not back people (countries) into a corner as the White House is apparently attempting to do. I mean, this is essentially the “realist school” argument that John Mearsheimer has been pushing since at least 2015 or so.

            On the other hand, that this guy specifically went from a “personal interaction” with Hayek to being of McNamara’s “whiz kids”, and then spent a significant length of time in the early rounds of free trade negotiations, makes me suspect that anything he has to say needs to be run through a critical prism to separate the wheat from the chaff, so to speak. That said, at least the statement that the present White House does not appear to have any experienced Cold War-era guys (or gals) who know a thing or two about nuclear strategy and deterrence rings very true to me. I mean, it’s literally been over 30 years since the Soviets went the way of the Dodo, and thus since anyone in Washington has had to think very hard about these things knowing that there might be real and very toasty consequences of making a mistake…

        2. Darthbobber

          Last president he advised left office 45 years ago. I’m sure he’s really au courant

    2. KD

      I guess strategy dictates that the Russian should nuke CNN, because it is only in the American media that the Russians are losing. On the map, they gradually pick up more and more territory with no effective Ukrainian counter-offensive, and they slowly bomb Ukraine into a situation where it has no logistical capability or ability to maneuver. All you see is Ukrainians holed up in well-fortified positions waiting to be surrounded, cut off, and starved out like the Azov battalion in Mariupal.

    3. JohnA

      And as Russia and Ukraine are very close, nuclear fall out could drift over Russia depending on which way the wind blows. Not a good idea to pee in pretty much your own backyard.

        1. WobblyTelomeres

          According to, 757 miles separate Novoye Chaplino, Russia from Wasilla, Alaska. Or roughly twice the distance from the Russia/Ukraine border to Kyiv, Ukraine. Still well within the range of Rooskie hypersonics with the bonus of the Alaska Range (Denali) to deter JohnA’s blowback. However, I don’t think that should be a concern as the prevailing wind in Wasilla is ENE.

          Not that Wasilla contains anything of strategic import. It is just “further away”. I’m sure it is a fine city. I’ve just never been that far south in Alaska.

    4. djrichard

      The cynic in me says that the US (and western nations in general) wouldn’t actually mind an escalation to tactical nukes. Because this would cause markets to be at risk, which would then necessitate the tender ministrations by the central banks to go back into effect … putting us back on path to ever more all time market highs. Without such a “force majeure” the central banks are on path to remove their punch bowl, which is not going to have salutary effects for whoever is in power to say the least.

  20. CzechAgain

    After quoting the Bild correspondent Julian Ropcke, Saker and NK seemingly neglected to mention his very next tweet in the same thread: “Seeing that Russian propagandists are using this tweet to claim, “even Germans know, Ukraine will lose”. Actually, nope. Ukraine will win this war. These are the last (maybe 30) days of Russian advances. The Russian army will be defeated inside Ukraine, if Kyiv keeps fighting.”

    Check for yourselves:

    Now, he may not know what he’s talking about – but that person is not saying what you think he was saying.

    1. Sergey P

      There are 4 hours between those two tweets, even though they appear as a thread. So I would rather assume mr. Ropcke is in damage control mode vis-a-vis his original tweet, seeing it used not quite the way he intended.

  21. scarnoc

    Zakharova says Daleep Singh is resigning. Normally when an organization drops an incompetent manager outcomes improve, but I have great expectations that his replacement will rate even higher on the Doug Feith scale of non-competency.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      I’m reminded of all the Jeff Zients talk about two months ago and how Klain was on his way out. I suspect Biden might be trying to the White House. He’s just too afraid of admitting he hired people dumber than him. There was another story about how he’s ticked at Garland for basically being Garland at AG.

      Of course, it could be rats jumping. I mean someone is going to sign on with Mother in 2024.

      As to the Ukraine, Biden is fairly stupid and greedy, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Singh is out for failing to bring India into the fold.

      Another thought is Biden changed his Afghanistan plans after consulting with the generals. Its entirely possible Singh was more selective with what Biden needed to hear and when Biden spoke with Modi he heard a different story than what Singh was peddling. Its just speculation.

  22. antidlc

    And another one…

    White House communications director Kate Bedingfield tests positive for Covid-19

    White House communications director Kate Bedingfield has tested positive for Covid-19, becoming the latest high-level Biden official to test positive for the virus. President Joe Biden, she said in a statement, is not a close contact.
    “This morning, I tested positive for COVID-19. I last saw the President Wednesday in a socially-distanced meeting while wearing an N-95 mask, and he is not considered a close contact as defined by the CDC,” she said in a tweet.

  23. JAC

    “Is Everything Falling Apart? Nonzero Newsletter”

    Both of them have no idea what the Story of Babel is about. God did not destroy Babel and it is not a story about destruction. It is in part an origin story of languages, but also a story of the conflict between the nomadic and farming way of life. The city and tower of Babel were built by Nimrod in Shinar (Babylon), which is in the the fertile crescent, and people were settling down and abandoning their nomadic way of life. The Hebrews were nomadic, and they wrote Genisis. They saw Babylon as a place of sin, pahgan worship, and polytheism. So you might now understand why they wrote the story.

    To the Hebrew, there was always one language, God created man with one language, but wanted them to be scattered and nomadic. But man’s ego and the common language got in the way and God saw this as bad. This time, instead of a flood, he just cast them apart and tweaked the language so they would not gather together in settlements anymore. Babylon (“Gate of God”) is constantly portrayed as a negative sinful place because it represents a cheap attempt to copy God’s kingdom.

    From Young’s Literal Translation;

    And the whole earth is of one pronunciation, and of the same words, and it cometh to pass, in their journeying from the east, that they find a valley in the land of Shinar, and dwell there; and they say each one to his neighbour, `Give help, let us make bricks, and burn [them] thoroughly:’ and the brick is to them for stone, and the bitumen hath been to them for mortar. And they say, `Give help, let us build for ourselves a city and tower, and its head in the heavens, and make for ourselves a name, lest we be scattered over the face of all the earth.’ And Jehovah cometh down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men have builded; and Jehovah saith, `Lo, the people [is] one, and one pronunciation [is] to them all, and this it hath dreamed of doing; and now, nothing is restrained from them of that which they have purposed to do.

    Give help, let us go down, and mingle there their pronunciation, so that a man doth not understand the pronunciation of his companion.’ And Jehovah doth scatter them from thence over the face of all the earth, and they cease to build the city; therefore hath [one] called its name Babel, for there hath Jehovah mingled the pronunciation of all the earth, and from thence hath Jehovah scattered them over the face of all the earth.

  24. TBellT

    “Musk told banks he will rein in Twitter pay, make money from tweets, sources say Reuters”

    The plan he outlined to banks was thin on detail, the sources added.

    Not that I had any faith this deal would be complete before, but come on, he’s unserious. He either has to be ready to lose a lot of money or back out of the deal.

    In his pitch to the banks, Musk also pointed to Twitter’s gross margin, which is much lower than peers such as Meta Platforms Inc’s (FB.O) Facebook and Pinterest (PINS.N), arguing this leaves plenty of space to run the company in a more cost-efficient way.

    If he was studying Facebook he would have realized they squared the circle by basically making two separate media ecosystems, Facebook and Instagram. Active users between the two platforms diverge demographically / politically to the point neither is a true debate hall between the factions. And there’s a reason for that. People aren’t as willing to give up their data for advertisers if they feel they are in “posting combat” with other individuals.

    Musk can’t both achieve his goal of making Twitter a free speech bastion (for bullying trans people) and Facebook level profitable.

  25. thump

    Regarding the article about Omicron producing less olfactory dysfunction: I seem to recall that areas of the brain most affected by Covid were those close to the sinuses. Would this imply that Omicron would produce fewer neurological problems?

    1. playon

      I have what I assume is Omicron BA2, and I lost my sense of smell for 3 days, which then gradually returned.

  26. playon

    Interesting that the piece about nasal spray vaccines doesn’t mention Novavax, which has already been approved in several countries, including Switzerland, Canada, India, Japan, Thailand, Israel and more. You hear little about this vaccine US media because I assume, profits.

  27. Susan the other

    NLR. Towards the Abyss. How Ukraine disintegrated politically into this “war.” Written from a standpoint that emphasizes the absurd conflict between political parties, even “clans”, this analysis/interview (by an expat Ukie) really misses the forest for the trees. It was an alphabet soup of deflection. This party for this, that party for that, ad infinitum. No pertinent questions asked, like: Why are the UK and the US continuing to arm western Ukraine even as the war is winding down? I can only guess that these questions about the international politics of the war were intentionally avoiding the fact that the Ukraine has been used for totally external reasons. It has now become a depot for war materiel that is intended for future use. Because the war most likely has virtually nothing to do with Ukrainian right-left politics at all. It has to do with the fact that the world is running out of oil and Russia has lots of it, just to the east of Ukraine. It has to do with the geography of Ukraine. I’m more than a little surprised that the NLR is being so superficial.

  28. Maritimer

    Nearly half of France’s nuclear reactors taken offline, adding to electricity demand on European grid Sky News
    “…critics have raised questions about nuclear’s reliability….”

    Critics have raised questions about DigitalID/CBC reliability and been ignored. Centralized systems with no backup are always cheaper and better.

  29. drumlin woodchuckles

    If Erik Sperling is correct, then Tulsi Gabbard could get a lot of ” young votes” by running as an Independent in certain key states in the 2024 election.

  30. RobertC


    Kevin ‘Karen’ Rudd China–Solomons deal ‘politically illiterate’ if Beijing wants better ties with Australia: Rudd

    …‘If the Chinese government and the Chinese Communist Party were seriously in the business of sending out a signal that post the next Australian election, whoever wins, the Liberal Party or my party, the Labor Party, that we wanted to have an agenda shift, we wanted to have a circuit-breaker, I could not have prescribed a worse thing to do than say, “I know what we’re going to do, we’re going to announce or have agreed with our new best buddies in Honiara, this security pact with the government of Solomon Islands.”

    As I said yesterday “I don’t think China cares anymore.”

  31. RobertC


    China leaps past Pompeo’s Clean Network with How China Will Dominate the Global Competition Over Data “Data … is becoming the high ground in the competition between major countries.”

    …The Eastern Data Western Computing project has been the object of nearly continuous coverage in Chinese newspapers since February [17, 2022]. By now, many (and perhaps most) Chinese Communist Party cadre and Chinese citizens could tell you it is the opening phase of China’s plan to construct a Nationally Integrated System (体系) of Big Data Centers. They could tell you it is a focal point of both the current Fourteenth Five-Year Plan and Fourteenth National Informatization Plan. They also could tell you it is a key technical sub-category of “Digital China,” Beijing’s comprehensive digital strategy, and that it has been tagged for acceleration right now.

    …At the authoritative level, although the competitive driver of Beijing’s data policies is undeniable, one gets the sense that the end state is still unclear, as thinking is still evolving. The overwhelming concern is that China should not find itself in a global digital economy whose governance system is dominated by others, even if that requires that China dominate it itself. China’s current “in-advance” policy of digital infrastructure construction (build the infrastructure first and the other key digital economy resources will follow) characterizes this thinking in concrete terms. The early, positive response by some Chinese academics to the European Union’s new consideration and passage of data laws also highlights both potential openness to external solutions, particularly ones that include checks on U.S. tech giants.

  32. Kooth

    Regarding the Ukraine vs The Romance of the Three Kingdoms,

    My wife is from China and while the analysis has some merit she is skeptical that a child of that age came up with it entirely on their own. I will note that there are a number of cuts to the video that hint at some level of staging or at least multiple takes. Of course the elephant in the room is the presence of long range nuclear weapons that were not available during the three kingdoms period. To me this means that the “buffer state” argument does not hold water. Why would Russia be worried about a land invasion from Ukraine when they can then nuke Washington DC from a sub in international waters. And then human civilization as we know it goes bye bye thanks to Mutual Assured Destruction.

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