Links 4/3/2022

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

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


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* * *

How to Love: Matthew Strohl and Rax King on Bad Movies Los Angeles Review of Books

Haunted by Venus Alpinist

The Library Ends Late Fees, and the Treasures Roll In NYT

What to See in the Night Sky for April 2022 TreeHugger

A fresh take on why Octavian won the war against Antony and Cleopatra Ars Technica

Robotic dog will be on patrol in Pompeii Ars Technica

Travel writer Dervla Murphy: ‘I’m lucky to still be enjoying being alive’ FT


Narrowing the vaccine gap as boosters begin for people over 50 Stat

Happiness, benevolence, and trust during COVID-19 and beyond Werio

Cuts in Britain Could Cause a Covid Data Drought NYT

Shanghai orders Covid tests for all 25 million residents in bid to contain current outbreak South China Morning Post

German man got COVID jab 87 times — report Deutsche Welle

Not So-New-Cold-War

Missiles hit Ukrainian refinery, ‘critical infrastructure’ near Odessa port CNA

We Seriously Underestimated Russia; Our Own Propaganda is Killing Us The Reading Junkie

Ukrainian forces retake areas near Kyiv amid fear of traps AP


‘Hostile environment!’ Germany left scrambling as Putin cuts off Gazprom gas supply Express

Lithuania ceasing all Russian gas imports for domestic needs Reuters

Poland Surges Towards Energy Sovereignty  European Tribune. Poland had ended contract for delivery gas from Gazprom —- they get delivery from more sources such as Norway and LNG tankers. By shortage, the gas flows from Germany into Poland via Yamal. Nothing unusual … baby it’s cold outside.

The UK Set To Join U.S. In Oil Reserve Release Oilprice

Germany Could Nationalize Parts Of Russian Oil And Gas Giants Oilprice


Rand Paul: Promoting negotiations over war doesn’t make you a Putin sympathizer Responsible Statecraft

Beware of wartime fake news triggering a run, EU banks told Reuters


Beware of the resurgent Russophobia Al Jazeera

Russia will END cooperation on the International space station and will NOT work with Nasa or European Space Agency Daily Mail

What really happened at Geneva’s crucial biodiversity negotiations? Guardian

Climate Change

Facts Haven’t Spurred Us to Climate Action. Can Fiction? The Wire

Staggering Photos Show Lake Powell Nearly Dried Up Gizmodo

The Download: Droughts are cutting into California’s hydropower. Here’s what that means for clean energy. MIT Technology Review

Once Again, Environmentalists Are Sabotaging Climate Progress New York magazine

Class Warfare

Joe Biden Is Still Fighting Student Loan Debtors Who Declare Bankruptcy  Jacobin

NYC Amazon workers vote to unionize warehouse Fox 5 NYC

‘The boss wears Prada… the workers get nada’: Vogue boss Anna Wintour faces employees’ mutiny over pay and ‘unethical practices’ Daly Mail

Groves of Academe

Colleges scramble to recruit students as nationwide enrollment plunges WaPo

Biden Administration

Joe Biden flying too close to the son NY Post

House Approves Marijuana Legalization Bill With Racial Justice Provisions Truthout

Biden Struck Out on Police Reform. Is Trump’s Remaining Policy Enough? Marshall Project

How two dozen retired generals are trying to stop an overhaul of the Marines Politico

Garland Faces Growing Pressure as Jan. 6 Investigation Widens NYT

As Cuomo weighs a comeback, some political strategists run the other way Politico


America Is Finally Taking The Battery Metal Shortage Seriously Oilprice

Health Care

Biden’s Health Moonshot Project Syndicate. Mariana Mazzucato, Travis Whitfil.

Our Famously Free Press

Your Top Priority is The Emotional Comfort of the Most Powerful Elites, Which You Fulfill by Never Criticizing Them. Glenn Greenwald.

Scoop: Jen Psaki planning to leave White House this spring for MSNBC gig Axios

Old Blighty

Tories fear poll disaster over high taxes Guardian


Macron’s Lead Over Le Pen Narrows in Daily Ipsos Election Poll Bloomberg

Macron holds 1st big rally; Rivals stir up ‘McKinsey Affair’ AP


Orban’s Party and Opposition Tied in Poll Before Hungary Vote Bloomberg


Hell at Abbey Gate: Chaos, Confusion and Death in the Final Days of the War in Afghanistan ProPublica

Sri Lanka

After China, India aid, is IMF help Sri Lanka’s best hope as Rajapaksa battles worst economic crisis since independence? South China Morning Post

Sri Lanka imposes curfew amid food, fuel and power shortage protests BBC


The Women Of Doodhpathri: From Housewives To Sustainable Businesses India Spend

A Perfect Inflationary Storm is Brewing at the Intersection of India’s Coal and Power Sectors The Wire

Last student standing on Elephanta island People’s Archive of Rural India

Fuel prices increased for the 10th time in 12 days Scroll


Pak army chief plays peacemaker, seeks dialogue with India on all disputes Times of India

‘I Will Not Resign,’ Says Pakistani PM Ahead of No-Confidence Vote Diplomat

PM Imran Khan take lives calls from public on eve of crucial NA vote Dawn.  And for context, see PM unveils ‘foreign plot’ against his govt Dawn


China’s Big Tech crackdown isn’t over yet Asia Times

Antidote du Jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. The Rev Kev

    “Lithuania ceasing all Russian gas imports for domestic needs”

    Bully for them. They have the Klaipeda LNG import terminal and have booked three large cargoes of gas to arrive of gas each month for all their needs. And as well, only 2.6 million people live there which is not very large and I don’t think that they have any mega industries. And if they run short of gas, they have already said that they can get some from Latvia and Poland – but don’t ask where that gas originally comes from. They are also saying that every other EU country do the same but this is like the guy who uses his car only once a week selling it and then depending on an Uber to get him places and then telling everybody else in town that they should do the same.

    1. Irrational

      All the Baltics did the same and will rely on Latvian storage in addition to what you cite, Rev. Poland supposedly contemplating stopping importing Russian fossil fuel this year, claiming to be able to tap into the Baltic supply. If not, all will tap into flows from Germany. Where will Germany get its gas? All seems very circular…
      Btw, thanks to Yves and the team for the articles from CNA and the Reading Junkie – I found those most illuminating to read together.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Sorry, but I have little faith in Poland and the Baltic States acting with any rationality. Latvia recently passed a law banning the display of the letters ‘Z’ and ‘V’ in public because Russia but won’t ban parades commemorate Nazi SS Soldiers from WW2. And just now I saw Poland’s Deputy Prime Minister saying that it would be a really great idea to have US nuclear weapons stationed in eastern Europe and tens of thousands of American troops stationed on their border as well-

        1. Irrational

          As do I, hence the comment that it seems very circular that they want to be supplied by each other. Not impressed by any of the EU political “class” in fact!

        2. drumlin woodchuckles

          I hope this will help people who have always considered NATO to be an American conspiracy against Europe to consider that NATO is really a Euro-British conspiracy against America.

        3. Polar Socialist

          Latvijas Gāze just “entered into a valid long-term agreement on the supply of natural gas until 2030 with Gazprom”. Using the new mechanism of payment that “does not violate the sanctions”. So some rationality seem to be appearing suddenly. Could be the slightly delayed spring in the Baltic Sea.

          It may also be a good business. Say, if the Polish find other sources of natural gas somewhat… lacking.

        4. Oh

          From what I’ve heard the elites of Latvia (princes, princesses et al) escaped to Germany thanks to the Nazis. This halo effect and propaganda against the Russians make the people and the pro US government still exalt the Nazis.

    2. Kouros

      Apparently Ukraine buys all its gas from EU… No wonder all German and Austrian storages are close to empty….

      1. Principe Fabrizio Salina

        Yes, from time to time the flows on the Yamal Pipeline through Poland reverse (gas flows from west to east). From the top of my head, without checking historical data, the reverse flows correspond roughly to the capacity of the natural gas pipeline connecting Poland and Ukraine. Ukraine may also receive natural gas from Western Europe through Slovakia.

    3. Principe Fabrizio Salina

      Gas Interconnection Poland Lithuania (a 508 km pipeline), GIPL, is scheduled to start operations on May 1, 2022. Realistically, it is difficult to expect any significant shipments to Lithuania prior to October – November 2022, when The Baltic Pipe (a pipeline connecting Norway and Poland) is completed. The pipeline has capacity up to 10 billion cubic meters of natural gas per year, about 50% of Polish needs. With LNG imports and domestic production, Poland may have a surplus of natural gas for export. A contract with Gazprom expires at the end of 2022 and will not be renewed.

  2. PlutoniumKun

    Travel writer Dervla Murphy: ‘I’m lucky to still be enjoying being alive’ FT

    Lovely interview. Dervla Murphy is an inspiration. Although she is unusually tough and resourceful, she is proof you don’t need much courage or resources to go on an adventure. She just got a bike and set off. Her book about cycling to India in the early 1960’s is terrific and a wonderful insight into the Afghanistan of the period – a much more prosperous and peaceful place than most imagine. Its interesting to me that she became far more politically radical as she travelled and aged and her later books have a lot more interesting details about the countries she visits than her earlier ones. As a writer, she is also refreshingly direct – she never found the need which seems to blight most travel writers of needing to show off their literary skills or wide reading.

    1. digi_owl

      I wonder if the basic problem is that cultural change can’t be forced over a single election period. Thus when that is attempted, you either end up with bruised egos or autocracies.

      I suspect Planck’s observation about science changing a funeral at a time can be generalized to cover the culture of a nation.

      Sadly these days it seems like some want things to change at the pace of internet, and that in turn is creating a whole lot of friction.

    2. Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author

      PK: I too appreciate Murphy’s direct approach. But I also enjoy some of the more literary stuff, which can be superb. Think Patrick Leigh Fermor, William Dalrymple, Rory Stewart. I agree ‘literary’ travel writing can be awful when the writer reads widely but superficially, or pummels readers with OTT prose.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        I love Leigh Fermor. Sadly I brought one of his book on a train trip last week and managed to leave the book on the train… I hope someone at least gets the pleasure of picking it up and enjoying it.

      2. Harold

        Norman Lewis. I don’t know if it’s travel writing or journalism, or history: Naples 44. He wrote a lot of travel books, too.

        Robert Byron, The Road to Oxiana, which I just read — pre-pandemic so I don’t know if “just” applies. It seems like last night, though. The better travel books do have a timeless quality. I haven’t yet read Dervla Murphy. Will make a note.

    3. KLG

      For those interested in another bicycle trip around the world, I recommend Fred Birchmore. His book is back in print. I knew Mr. Birchmore when I was a student at the University of Georgia. He was a fabulous story teller and an adventurous man!

      1. PlutoniumKun

        That looks like a great book. I can’t recall the names, but back in the 1880’s doing round the world bike touring was quite a thing – the newspapers would fund the trips in exchange for regular updates. There was a real divide between the working class cyclists doing it for the money and upper class adventurers. It was pretty dangerous then – China was very hazardous for solo travellers then and at least one famous cyclist was murdered in what is now Armenia. The early riders would use penny farthings and ‘ride the ties’ – cycling on railway tracks was easier than on unpaved roads.

        1. jrkrideau

          Round the World on a Wheel
          by John Foster Fraser a story of 3 young Brits doing the trip in the late 1890’s or early 1900’s is a fun read.

    4. Mikel

      “Although she is unusually tough and resourceful, she is proof you don’t need much courage or resources to go on an adventure…”

      She go by herself?
      I don’t see how she is proof that would not take much courage.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        I’ve met many bike tourers and long distance hikers over the years. Most don’t bother with writing books or keeping up blogs or YT channels. They just go and do it. Many are just very regular people who just started from their front doors and kept travelling.

    5. skk

      I remember her book on Northern Ireland during the Troubles. Having known NI people in university I took a deep interest in NI during the 70s and 80s, from the mainland of course. Her book improved my understanding quite a bit.

    1. The Rev Kev

      I read an article a day or two ago that said that the US has actually increased their order for oil from Russia.

      Schrödinger’s Sanctions.

      1. eg

        In the inimitable style of William Lyon Mackenzie King, “sanctions if necessary, but not necessarily sanctions” …

  3. GramSci

    I’m sorry, Rand Paul, but supporting negotiations over war *does* make one a Putin sympathizer.

    1. mark mezger

      Fine, then I’m a Putin “sympathizer”, too. Words, just don’t mean anything any more, do they, GS?

        1. pjay

          Then I’m afraid most of us misinterpreted your comment. My apologies for jumping to the wrong conclusion.

        2. drumlin woodchuckles

          The internet is a bad place to attempt sarcasm, , snarkasm, snarchasm, etc. I wish people just wouldn’t even try it. It is begging to be misunderstood unless one adds the cautionary sign: Warning: Sarcasm Ahead.

    2. .human

      No nation state has the right to exist. Legitimate nation states are the result of negotiation and diplomacy by a peoples. Dictators and tyrants come and go.

      It’s all black and white to you?

    3. super extra

      I walked in on a family member commenting on this news to the effect of “Big words coming from a guy who got his ribs broken by a neighbor over a lawncare dispute!”

      I feel like the sportscenter-ification of current events through the entire industry built up around ‘the news’ is a big factor in why everything is so bad. I don’t have a grand thesis on this horror. I think it is insane normal people have been tricked into believing it is bad to engage in diplomacy. There isn’t even any thought behind it, it’s entirely reactional based on the nonsense pumped in from screens.

    4. John

      Do I understand you correctly that the solution to war is never to negotiate lest someone see that as sympathy for ones enemy? That would seem to leave only unconditional surrender as the end game. In the present conflict that means a nuclear armed combatant and a crowd of nuclear armed cheerleaders in the opposition have no reasonable or even face saving means of concluding the contest. I find that existentially dangerous.

      1. redleg

        You find it that way because it is that way.
        GramSci’s mentality, which is ridiculously common among liberals, demonstrates how genocides are possible. The only way to solve the problem is through annihilation of your enemy. And if that means actually obliterating everything else in the process, “we showed Putin!”

        The widespread omnicidal lack of critical thinking in the US is going to kill everyone, and VBNMW liberals will cheer when the missiles launch.

    5. Katniss Everdeen

      “Putin sympathizer” is the kind of “crime” that has to be made up when the desired policy is so unhinged that it is indefensible on any rational level.

      “The devil made me do it” used to be a comedian’s punchline. Now, it seems, it’s strategic foreign policy for the greatest nation ever invented in the history of the world.

        1. playon

          I think this is the first time I’ve somewhat agreed with Kissinger about anything, ever.

          1. Oh

            Henry seems to play a peace maker when he is a murderer of millions and a war monger. I wouldn’t take his word for anything.

        2. RobertC

          edwin — thanks for the link back to 2014. Money quote for me is:

          To treat Ukraine as part of an East-West confrontation would scuttle for decades any prospect to bring Russia and the West — especially Russia and Europe — into a cooperative international system.

          And today we see that horse has left the barn headed East.

          1. Anthony G Stegman

            The United States doesn’t want a “cooperative international system”. Can’t you see that? What the United States wants is full spectrum dominance – that of the north, south, east, and west.

      1. lyman alpha blob

        I think GS is speaking to the actual definition of “sympathizer” and noting that Russia also preferred negotiations over war (Minsk agreements) but the US insisted on poking the bear instead.

        1. tegnost

          It seems like some pretty good irony to me…maybe a little too good seeing the reactions… maybe /i

    6. pjay

      The venue for Rand Paul’s comments:

      “This was a rare receptive audience for restraint and non-interventionism in the heart the Washington — even rarer in that it focused on the right, hosting Rep. Thomas Massie, U.S. Senate hopeful J.D. Vance, Rep. Dan Bishop (who said critics complained he “joined the pro-Putin wing of the Republican Party” for questioning “war fever” on the Hill), and Fox News’s Mollie Hemingway. Co-sponsored by American Moment and The American Conservative, topics revolved around the current echo chamber promoting an aggressive posture against Russia, and attempts to silence dissent.”

      Yes, I’d prefer a receptive audience for restraint and non-interventionism made up of progressives and humanitarian liberals. Oh wait…

      I can only speculate on what’s behind this comment. Do you really agree with this statement, or is it a reaction to the speaker (or his audience)? Rand Paul makes a statement that to me is both rational and measured. Bernie Sanders spouts ridiculous anti-Russian nonsense. I’ve criticized Paul’s libertarianism my entire life, and strongly supported Bernie’s “democratic socialism.” So what’s one to do? I guess I’m a “Putin sympathizer” now, too. Sad.

      1. Screwball

        Yes, I’d prefer a receptive audience for restraint and non-interventionism made up of progressives and humanitarian liberals. Oh wait…

        I find it amazing how so many on the so-called left have been inflicted with war mongering. Twitter was ablaze today with Ali Veshi calling for more war drums and my PMC friends are all for it. They want nothing less than Putin’s head. What he hell happened to those people?

        A couple of things IMO. 1) Trump. They equate Putin to Trump and nailing Putin is equal to nailing Trump. 2) They believe every nugget of BS they are fed by the “news” and the administration. And don’t dare question the narrative or you are exactly what this is all about – A Russian/Putin sympathizer. It has become a cult.

        1. fringe element

          I have heard it explained as the only response they have to emerging economic class consciousness. It began before Trump as a response to Occupy and then metastasized into a cult after Trump’s election. Faced with the emergence of economic class consciousness, our glorious liberal thought leaders chalked it all up to personal discontents.

          Apparently I am the only person left in the known universe who remembers that this was the original rallying cry of second wave feminists back in the days of consciousness raising groups. Back then women were told that our personal shortcomings were the source of our problems, not the fact that we were, at the time, economic second-class citizens. The slogan that ‘the personal is political’ was meant to refute the idea that our problems were not political and class-based.

          I find it galling that calling political problems personal issues is being used again in exactly the repressive way it was used fifty years ago. One thing I do not feel, however, it confused about any of it. Precisely because I have living historical memory of how this ploy was used against people in the past, I see it for the sham it is today.

          1. Waking Up

            I also have historical memory but hadn’t thought of it in quite this way before. Lots of food for thought. Thank you for the comment.

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        I once thought of buying a MAGA hat so I could put a Marx button and a Sanders button on it.

        “Make America Great Again with Trump, Sanders AND Marx.”

        But as with so many things, I had no follow through.

    7. Art_DogCT

      Thank you! So I am a “Putin sympathizer”. I had been wondering if my basic sympathy for the Russian positions set out in their draft treaty documents of December 17, 2021, and my further understanding of the rationale for Russian intervention in Ukraine was WrongThink, and I am extremely pleased to have that clarified.

      I think your namesake’s thinking on morbid symptoms apt (morbid in the medical sense, understand, as in the Weekly Morbidity and Mortality Report issued by CDC). What else can describe the mind virus that makes people believe diplomacy is bad? Morbidity goes hand in hand with mortality, and I would be delighted if this war leads to breaking the back of the US/NATO hegemon. If it also leads to the death of the hegemon, then hopla!

    8. Kouros

      And supporting war over negotiations makes one a warmonger. I think that is a worst qualifier than being a “Putin sympathizer”…

  4. The Rev Kev

    “Robotic dog will be on patrol in Pompeii”

    I keep forgetting how ugly these things are. Obviously the true purpose of them in Pompeii is to advertise Boston Dynamics robot dogs which is why they retain their garish yellow colour scheme. Maybe they could paint them a grey tone and give them a mini red cape to have them get in on the spirit of the place. And since there are a few of them there, put a number on the side – but in Roman numerals.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Maybe drop a whole bunch of neodymium magnets on them and see what happens.

  5. griffen

    Climate fiction, well as long as the climate facts stay far away or not on our immediate doorstep then perhaps the general US-ian populace is more or less sanguine (perhaps, my humble thought). Maybe the pricing increases of darn near everything needed to function in society will be a harbinger of it’s getting worse out there.

    The article cited a few examples, but left out the tsunami wave that destroyed Sri Lanka. Or the earthquake off the coast of Japan, in 2011 I believe. I keep thinking the future looks an awful lot of a blend of films like Max Max Fury Road (where a non-benevolent oligarch / authority oversees a population bereft of hope) or a society that resembles the Purge series of films. In those purge films I’ watched, there exist god-awful rulers pass rules that favor them against the poor and oppressed, and we are left with some bread and a circus to entertain us..or to switch gears to another excellent film with Clive Owen called Children of Men.

    Feels like this topic gets a frequent discussion. With good reason. I am leaving the odd or unusual cannibalism fictional story off the table so to speak.

    1. Paul Jonker-Hoffren

      If you want great climate sci-fi, look for e.g. Olivia Butler or other young African writers in anthologies. They deal with ecosystem depletion, oil spills, drought etc…

      1. John

        Ministry of the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson and Termination Shock by Neal Stephenson are two that deal with climate change. I have about given up on anything substantive being undertaken to mitigate, slow down, or much less reverse the wheels we have set in motion. Nuclear power is something of a devils bargain,but it does not put greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Non-renewables are grand where there is reliable wind or near constant sunshine. Natural gas is better than coal or oil.There is no perfect solution unless you can figure out how to actually implement beaming microwaves from orbital satellites or produce a roofing material that is itself a solar panel. Both of these figured in Robert Heinlein short stories written in the 1940s. Move to higher ground and see what the Jackpot brings.

        1. Solarjay

          The space/microwave solar has been talked about for decades. Technology does able, but for 2 small problems. Getting hundreds of GW of solar into space and then figuring out where you send The high energy microwaves. Yes some desert region. Say 1 square mile, meaning a staggering amount of energy per sq meter. If one of those space mirrors gets out of alignment, it would be incredibly destructive.

          Now since it’s in a remote area you’ll need lots of high voltage transmission lines all over the country. Which seems to not be a possibility with anyone.

          The largest new information with the IPCC report was the aspect of feedback loops that we already see that are most likely impossible to change in time to make any difference. The release of arctic methane, sub sea methane hydrides, destabilizing of Antarctic sea ice/glaciers to name just a few.

          I no longer think we can stop let alone reverse climate change. Slow it down somewhat, yes but not enough to be meaningful.

          And now it’s drill baby drill!

          1. Aumua

            Wait did you just say getting solar energy into space is a problem? I think I’ll contemplate that for a bit.

            1. MichaelSF

              I think he left out “Getting hundreds of GW of solar capture/transmission equipment into space”

          2. drumlin woodchuckles

            And of course such a microwave beam from space could be aimed at any place on earth which the aimers of the beam decided to aim it at, on purpose with malice aforethought.

            And of course hackers would try figuring out how to take over the aiming device and change the beam’s targetting just for the lulz.

            Better not to permit such a technology into existence in the first place.

        2. Anthony G Stegman

          When one looks at the total lifecycle of a nuclear power plant there are vast amounts of greenhouse gas emissions in the construction, operation, and decommissioning of a nuclear power plant. Nuclear power plants are by no means greenhouse gas-free. The same can be said for electric motor vehicles.

          1. Oh

            People are all for EV’s but they forget that their electricity comes from fossil fueled power plants (coal, oil or nat gas powered) that emit a lot of CO2. The only solution would be to capture the CO2 from these plants or use electricity generated from solar (PV’s).

    2. hamstak

      “there exist god-awful rulers pass rules that favor them against the poor and oppressed, and we are left with some bread and a circus to entertain us”

      That sounds pretty much like the state of affairs in the USA, currently.

      1. griffen

        Despite the mangling of the English language that I stated above, I sorta figured someone here would just highlight the apparent situation. Really though it depends on the station and class one finds themselves today. The circuses in the USA are expanding as professional football tries yet again to succeed with a second rate NFL equivalent.

        I have to add / admit I enjoyed the circus act for last night’s college hoops event in New Orleans. A highly visible head coach for a highly visible men’s program was sent home by my favorite team in all the land. The skies are Carolina Blue.

        1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author

          They are indeed. I almost posted a link to that result!

          Two of my nieces are recent UNC grads and a third is currently a junior. Three of my siblings live in North Carolina with their respective spouses, and have either raised or are raising families there.

          Thanks for your comment as it reminds me i need to send some congratulatory emails.

  6. Louis Fyne

    –we Seriously Underestimated Russia; Our Own Propaganda is Killing Us–

    The think tank consensus makes zelensky’s pre-war seemingly irrational, pro-escalation behavior more understandable. He/his handlers (Nuland, brain trust at the State Dept) genuinely thought that Russia was a paper tiger.

    Zelensky/his handlers might have even thought that Biden would send the US Air Force with no boots on the ground without talking to the Pentagon

    Russia has the most advanced air defence system in the world. Flying over Ukraine would make US bombers flying over 1943 Gemany look like a kid’s tea party.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      I suspect it was more than just Zelensky that thought a no fly zone would simply come into being. The propaganda was everywhere despite the absurdity of trying to put one into place. Nuclear concerns aside, the operation would be have to be larger than Desert Fox where just the US had 2,600 planes, with no appropriate bases, and carriers that would be too obvious as targets.

      We had those stories where every cable presenter ranted about the famed convoy and explained how air power would hit it as if no one but Americans know that.

      1. anon123

        It seems we downplayed Russia and Syria and overplayed Turkey Armenia. I read an article from some neo-con Peter Ziehan (sp?) and he believes Turkey could defeat Russia and has all kinds of wild projections based on this assumption.

        The Ian Kummer article is very useful to understanding our thinking especially in light of anything neocon.

        1. John

          Seemed to me that the war games Ian Kummer was citing considered grabbing territory. From all my reading before the event, that was ever the objective. If that is the best the wargamers can do, they might consider another line of work. Was there no gaming of alternatives? No contingency planning? No asking the obvious question: why would Russia want a Ukraine that 30-years of misgovernment and oligarchic looting had reduced to a shell? Why did Rand not take repeated Russian complaints about NATO expansion into consideration? If I had commissioned that study, I would want my money back.

          1. dftbs

            Thank you for linking to Kummer’s piece. The title gets right to the guts, “our own propaganda is killing us”.

            If it wasn’t obvious before the defeat in Kabul, it should be clear now that our propaganda machine is a strategic liability. I think Kummer makes a clear case that this liability grows as we move from the Taliban to the Russian army.

            If all the Russia hating analysts and strategists truly wanted to beat the Russians, they would begin by submitting their resignations.

      2. voteforno6

        We had those stories where every cable presenter ranted about the famed convoy and explained how air power would hit it as if no one but Americans know that.

        A no fly zone doesn’t stop convoys on the ground. That’s a much different kind of mission.

        1. Polar Socialist

          I doubted the existence of such a column, since the images I saw showed only about mile and a half of road, and about ten miles apart. So there ever was evidence of a most ten mile column, and even that was a stretch, if you will.

          But the main point of doubt is that such a column would have meant over a division forth of firepower west of Kiev, where the situation did not change at all after the images, not were the new forces introduced in the battle. Given that most of Ukrainian forces are still in the east, that kind of force would have been able to push 40-50 miles south of Kiev in a few days. But that didn’t happen. Nothing happened, that huge force just dissipated without any effect.

          1. chuck roast

            This is consistent with the heterodox view that the attack on Kiev was simply an RU feint to keep the UA reserves in place while the main RU thrust was to kettle the UA elite forces in the southeast. The “ten mile column” certainly scared the bejesus out of the checker players and reaffirmed their oracular certainties.

        2. vao

          That is not how Western powers interpreted the “no-fly zone” imposed on Libya by resolution nr. 1973 of the UNO security council. Very soon, their air forces were bombing ground targets while their navies were attacking Libyan vessels.

          Since then, the West exhibits a surprised and hurt demeanour every time China and Russia oppose a resolution about a no-fly zone.

      3. Anon123

        Hello NotTimothyGeithner – not sure of was you or the RevKev but the belief the Russians are stuck in the 1970’s fits in with the call for a no fly zone. After all, we have the $200 mil per plane F-35 – and it is invisible to Russian air defenses and is the most advanced fighting machine in the world. So the call for a no fly zone makes light if you look at what people who follow the news casually see – a weak 1970’s Russia versus state of the art NATO.

        Unless you follow the alternative sites like this site, one rarely hear the invisibility cloak does not quite have the bugs out, so it is a reasonable conclusion the reluctance for the no fly zone is from the Pentagon.

    2. digi_owl

      It may also be that they thought they had Zelensky on a short leash, but then when shit hit the fan he proved himself far more of a statesman and PR savant than expected by both DC and Moscow.

      Him refusing to fall on the sword by being the one to renounce the NATO idea, and thus let DC et al save face, is perhaps a good indication of just that.

      Then again, who knows what is going on behind the scenes given that his supporters are also apparently the supporters of the Azov Battalion and like.

      It may well be that he fear his local handlers more than he fears some abstract threat from DC or Moscow. And only with Russian forces being close to wiping out the best Ukraine has, have said handlers allowed him to suggest a neutrality stance.

      1. ambrit

        And as the article says, the “handlers” will soon discover that that Armoured Train has already left the station.
        If Russia manages to “eliminate” the Ukrainian forces ‘in the East,’ it will all pretty much be over except the crying.
        NATO had also better think this one through pretty intensly. Some have been making noises about fomenting a guerrilla war inside the Ukraine against the Russian forces. They should consider the fact that two can play that game.
        If Russia’s main goal here is to have a buffer zone on it’s border to stop NATO encroachment, then a de facto partition of the Ukraine is in the cards.

        1. digi_owl

          Splitting it along the Dnieper to produce a natural moat do have a certain appeal to it. But recently i was pinged on the issue of Ukrainian ethnicities.

          Putin was not wrong when the said that modern Ukraine was a product of the USSR. There is perhaps a reason why Russia didn’t push hard from the north, but advanced rapidly in the south.

          The south, being former Russian territory from before USSR, has a population that may consider itself ethnically Russian.

          As one head north the map becomes more muddled.

          And to the west you have areas that were Polish until after WW2.

          All in all the place starts to look more and more like that of Yugoslavia. And we know that story.

          1. Polar Socialist

            The longer the conflict lasts, the higher the probability of partioning.

            – Crimea is gone for good.
            – Luhansk and Donetsk will have a referendum about their status either as independent states or federal subjects of Russia as soon as the fighting is over in their area.
            – Kherson oblast has converted to using rubles and hoisting Russian flags here and there in the administrative buildings.
            – Zakarpattia is making noises about autonomy under Hungarian protection.
            – Poland is really, really keen to send “peacekeepers” into Volyn and Lviv oblasts (that used to be part of Poland).
            – The Serpent Island was occupied by Russians mainly to prevent Romanians from taking it.
            – Either Moldova or Romania wouldn’t mind if the southern Odessa oblast (a.k.a. Bessarabia) was “returned”.

            1. Kouros

              Small correction here about Romania and Moldavia. It is only the Budjeak region in southern Moldova that could be claimed (was part of Bessarabia present day Republic of Moldova which was part of the Moldovan principality until 1812) and that was gifted to Ukraine in 1954, same time as Crimea.

              Snake Island was taken from Romania in 1948 in a shoddy deal led by Jewish Communists in Romania while the Romanian communist leader was assassinated for being too patriotic…

            2. timbers

              If what you say of Kherson that’s important because Wikipedia says it’s only 14% ethnic Russian vs 80% Ukraine, AND the Oblast to its east is 40% Russian. Meaning a land bridge that landlocks Ukraine may be a bit more feasible, less risky than I imagine.

          2. John k

            I thought the river too, but…
            Google the 2014 Ukraine election, shows the pop split… kind of Kharkiv in NE to west of Odessa.. would cut Ukraine off from sea. Looks to me Russia will follow that split past Odessa after finishing off the surrounded Ukraine army, then offer full pullback from Kiev/north as face saving chip.
            I think this leaves mostly just farming in the west? Plus bio labs? Industry mostly in SE? Ukraine exported fertilizer, but made it from Russian gas. Might get cold without deal.

            1. Yves Smith

              The West keeps projecting that Russia wanted to take territory. That was never its objective. Its objectives were to demilitarize, as in destroy the war-making capability of Ukraine, denazify, and secure non-membership of NATO. None of those are about conquest and Russia makes clear it intended to leave once it was done; in fact Putin made a specific remark to that effect. However, as we noted, the denazify objective was very ambitious and it was unclear how they would achieve that.

              The present pullback from Kiev was announced and the MoD has said it is to concentrate on finishing up in the east. And since the military capacity of the Ukraine army, particularly its mobility, is very much diminished, it doesn’t need to pin forces to the same degree.

              1. Greg

                I think it’s fair to include the securing of the breakaway oblasts in the original russian aims – at least to the proclaimed borders of DNR and LHR territory, which is roughly the donetsk and luhansk oblasts.

                It also seems pretty clear that a persistent land corridor to Crimea featured in those plans, to secure water for Crimea and allow rail connection (it’s only a little more ground beyond the SW edge of DNR).

              2. Sardonia

                I get that Russia initially stated that they had no intent to take territory, but…. The question that keeps arising for me is that, as things have evolved, even if they “demilitarize” Ukraine – wouldn’t US/UK/EU/NATO zoom right in and re-militarize it?

                If I’m in Russia’s shoes and thinking “Ok, we’ve supported an independent Donetsk and Lunansk, and done “a little de-nazification”, and Ukraine has “agreed” to be neutral, my next thought would be “But what now?”

                It seems that in essence, that doesn’t accomplish much for Russia’s security, except for the moment. I could see NATO et al coming back with a vigorous determination to make Ukraine even MORE of a “de-facto NATO ally” – staging missiles, air defenses, perhaps stationing troops. If the long-term plan of the West prior to Russia’s military operation was to build up Ukraine as a de-facto NATO ally, and a forward operating position against Russia, if Russia fails to create a new buffer, it seems like they will have accomplished nothing in the longer-term, defensively, on their western border.

                Were I Russia, I’d be re-thinking my original goal, in light of the fact that we’re now in some sort of WW3, at least economically, the West is ratcheting up Russiaphobia to 11 (and the West citizenry is buying into it), so I’d expect the West to double or triple down on their original arc of building up Ukraine militarily as a Western ally. That would make me seriously wonder if I need to expand my original stated objective, to counter that expected new build-up.

                Also, if i was Putin, I’d probably have a team of real estate appraisers calculating just how much Ukrainian farmland equals $300 billion in value – and seriously considering taking it where there aren’t cities to deal with – and calling that whole aspect “just a little real estate purchase”

                1. timbers

                  I am torn like you…am very tempted to say grab the coast to landlock Ukraine but need more info. And strike those US bases in Poland and Romania. Send a clear uncompromising redline signal. Doing it now will cost less than doing it later.

              3. Yves Smith

                As I said, the denazification piece seems hard to square with the rest. And Putin did say something to the effect of “Obviously we won’t stay where we aren’t wanted.” This opens the door to both a repeat of the Kosovo and Crimea processes, of having a regime change approved on a regional level by a democratic process (in Kosovo, a legislature, in Crimea, a referendum) and having Russian peacekeepers remain.

                Yes I agree mission creep is quite possible but so far the West repeatedly depicting Russia as wanting to conquer Ukraine and anything short of failure is wildly at odds with Russian aims and operations. They would have had to use vastly greater forces if they wanted to take and hold territory. And there is no reason to think they ever wanted the West, although they might have to do a hard encirclement of Kiev if the government doesn’t accept enough of Russia’s requirements.

                1. lance ringquist

                  if the russians think that the west will now honor a peace agreement, they are fools.

                  take the coast, hook up with the strip of land in moldova, otherwise they will be sorry.

                  1. Yves Smith

                    Lambert and I think they will take the coast. The question is how to pretty that up. They can’t impose that. Dunno the ethnic Russian composition there but it might do for a vote of regional autonomy.

                    1. PlutoniumKun

                      The simple and well proven method to create a democratic majority is to make life difficult/uncomfortable for those who will vote the ‘wrong’ way to encourage them to move out and then resettle the ‘right kind’ of refugees there. There are a million or more Russian-Ukrainians who might be persuaded to move back with the right incentives.

                      Of course, you then have a very disgruntled ‘out’ group who will create trouble in their new homeland and campaign to go home, guaranteeing a few generations of strife.

                    2. David

                      It very much depends where and how you draw the border. Ask the British about Northern Ireland. Boundary disputes (in Bosnia, for example) can be very sensitive for precisely this reason.

                    3. PlutoniumKun

                      The Irish border is an interesting example of how this can go very badly wrong. Originally it was supposed to be the nine counties of Ulster until Unionists realised this would result in a very bare majority. So the three mostly catholic counties were arbitrarily cut out. Collins was happy with this because he saw the border as unstable and something he could undermine (as opposed to a border following firm geographical features). There was supposed to be a border commission to deal with the many anomaly issues, but there was no agreement and this part of the agreement was never finalised. Hardline Unionists have always seen the three counties east of Lough Neagh as a fallback ‘natural’ border.

                      And one reason its so arbitrary is that nobody really knows the origin of the county borders, which is the basis for the boundary. These go back to pre-medieval boundaries, which seem to have been based mostly on bogs and wetlands, which were natural neutral zones in the days of tribal warfare. Most of these have now been drained, making the boundaries nonsensical in any real sense. Many of the lines don’t follow any discernible topographical feature. Sometimes it even runs through houses.

                    4. lance ringquist

                      they can do a kosovo. the protection racket that nafta billy clinton came up with.

      1. digi_owl

        Makes you wonder where those were hiding all this time.

        That said, i think Russian air defense is more aimed at taking down fast movers and bombers. Helicopters are a whole other game, as they can use terrain and such to mask their approach. That is why the Apache was retrofitted with the Longbow radar on top of the rotor, to allow it to hide in terrain while acquiring targets.

      2. praxis

        Nap-of-the-earth flying is something helicopters can do well to evade detection. Still, it probably was embarrassing for Russia defense systems.

        1. Kouros

          The payback was blowing up the only refinery in Ukraine. Owned by Zelenskyy’s patron. No wonder Ukraine denied involvement in that helicopter attack, sensing some heavy retribution, which happened asap.

        1. Greg

          If this wasn’t Ukraine, I believe we’d say a country with modern weapons systems under the control of feuding factions is a “failed state”.

          But it’s Ukraine, this is working as intended.

          1. caucus99percenter

            > this is working as intended

            “Everything’s going according to plan,” as Yves and Lambert are wont to say.

    3. David

      I thought it was a pretty good piece. It’s not just about under-estimation, either, it’s also about a form of strategic ethnocentrism, which assumes that you can accurately know another nation’s intentions, and predict how they will act. So of course the Russians were going to take Kiev, because why wouldn’t they? After all, that’s what the US would do. There’s also a generational problem. back in the Cold War, everyone was well aware of the strength of the Soviet Air Defence system (it was, and is, a separate branch by itself) and NATO was pretty dubious about whether it was possible to fly missions against rear area forces without very heavy casualties. Thirty years later, after decades of total air superiority, everyone has forgotten that.

      As regards Zelensky, NATO membership for Ukraine was one of those questions in politics to which there is no satisfactory general answer. Saying “yes” would have antagonised the Russians and led to unforeseeable complications. Saying “no” would have meant publicly admitting that the Russians had an effective veto, and could have led to other unforeseeable complications, within NATO and in the Ukraine itself. So the solution was, as always, to fudge it, in the hope that the question would never have to be answered definitively. Now it’s too late. The solution would have been a tactic understanding between Russia, Ukraine and NATO that Ukraine would not become a NATO member, but would nonetheless be treated as a genuine neutral by both sides. But that would have required a level of adult thinking that wasn’t on offer.

      There are a number of question like this in politics. The classic is Turkish membership of the EU, which is never going to happen but never going to be publicly ruled out. So you jog along from year to year, never actually taking a firm position, and then the question suddenly comes and bites you.

      1. The Rev Kev

        ‘The solution would have been a tactic understanding between Russia, Ukraine and NATO that Ukraine would not become a NATO member, but would nonetheless be treated as a genuine neutral by both sides.’

        I’m afraid that that was never going to be an option. NATO has been training the Ukrainian military to NATO standards with NATO gear at the rate of about five battalions a year. So you would have a NATO force directly stationed on Russian borders with eventually high-class missiles to threaten both Russia and the Russian Naval base in the Crimea which would amount to a clear and present danger. This must be why the Russians are demanding that the Ukraine be demilitarized.

        1. digi_owl

          Went beyond training. Supposedly USA was funding dock work in Odessa, capable of housing fast patrol boats. It would seem that DC and Langley had been turning Ukraine into a US fief even before the NATO issue was settled.

          1. jrkrideau

            Minor quibble, I think it was actually in Ochakiv about 60–70 km east of Odesa. The naval base was hit on Feb 24. I have seen some speculation that there likely were US casualties.

        2. David

          It was an option, but for obvious reasons it would have had to have been implemented a decade or more ago. As I’ve indicated, it was never really feasible politically, because it would have required NATO to admit, at least privately, that its future expansion was contingent on the Russians agreeing. Neutrality is in principle a good idea, but it only works when all sides agree it’s in their interest, as was the case with Austria after WW2. That was never the case with Ukraine.

          But in any event, formal membership of NATO is rather beside the point. Just as NATO membership doesn’t mean that other countries will automatically send you military assistance in a crisis, so non-membership doesn’t preclude quite close defence relationships, and it’s that that the Russians were really concerned about.

      2. Andrew Watts

        If the Russians wanted to seize Kiev by force it would’ve taken close to their entire force. It’s why I assume that the goal of these forces were meant to provide support in the event of a coup.

        It’s hard to ignore the possibility of a coup when so many high ranking Ukrainian officials were being accused and/or suspected of treason. It can’t possibly be all hysteria or paranoia.

        1. timbers

          But Blinken said today on the TeeVee that heroic fierce Ukrainian AUF defeated Russian forces outside Kiev so Russia is running away because troop casualties. Blinken also said Ukraine has defeated all of Russian 3 goals which he said the Russians have stated to be 1). Make Ukraine obey Russia no matter what her orders are 2). Split Ukraine in two 3). Be really mean to Ukraine and humiliate her. But Russia has been defeated on all those goals so she had to scale back her mission and only wants to have the Donbass because Ukraine defeated Russia.

            1. Procopius

              Blinken’s grandfather (like Victoria Nuland’s) was a Jew from Ukraine. He hates Russia with the heat of a thousand suns. He doesn’t need meds.

          1. ChrisPacific

            And the scaled-back goals happen to align almost exactly with what Putin said Russia’s goals were at the beginning of the conflict, but that’s irrelevant because everybody knows he was lying. Obviously his real intention was to capture all of Ukraine, then send his armies across the globe and eventually rule the world from a secret base inside a hollowed-out volcano. Only the heroism of the Ukrainians and the deterrent value of NATO and all those US military bases have spared us from this fate.

        2. Yves Smith

          Close to the entire force they deployed in Ukraine. They reportedly have a lot more across the border. Belief is it’s not meant to be sent in but to deter Ukraine’s neighbors from getting bright ideas.

      3. Tor User

        The seizure of Kyiv was estimated to happen quickly under the Russian plan because that’s the way the Soviet Union did it in the past:

        “The invasion was well planned and coordinated; simultaneously with the border crossing by ground forces, a Soviet spetsnaz task force of the GRU (Spetsnaz GRU) captured Ruzyne International Airport [Prague] in the early hours of the invasion.”


        In Ukraine’s case, Russian troops seized that airport and entered Kyiv on February 25th, the second day of the invasion.

        When Ukrainian’s decided to fight, the Russians had to move to Plan B.

        1. Greg

          The “Russian troops” that entered Kyiv on Feb 25th were a few light vehicles and infantry scattered in small groups. Makes no sense as an actual invasion, only as a distraction. It doesn’t even really make sense as a distraction for the main forces.

          The Hostomel heliborne landing does make sense as part of longstanding soviet doctrine for use of spetsnaz to worry rear lines and keep forces busy on multiple front, and preventing the most obvious line of heavy air reinforcement by NATO.

          My money is on the loose light infantry in Kyiv early days mostly/entirely being made up of the disposable “400 Wagner mercenaries” sent in at the start with decapitation goals.

          1. Anthony G Stegman

            It was a colossal mistake by Hitler to invade Russia in 1941. NATO armies will meet a fate similar to that of the Wehrmacht if it makes any serious offensive moves against Russia today. Throughout their history the Russians have proved that they can take a punch or two and still ultimately prevail.

        2. jimmy cc

          its the same plan they used when they attacked Afghanistan. had spetsnaz forces come in on commercial flights and ssized Kabuls airport.

          one time too many apparently.

    4. redleg

      I’m currently reading about the last time nazis and Russians fought.
      Otto Carius’ memoir “Tigers in the Mud” discusses fighting in the exact locations mentioned, specifically the railroad bridge in Narwa.
      William Craig’s “Enemy at the Gates” documents how the Germans didn’t think the Russians could supply their armies or sustain an attack. That attack, which encircled the German sixth army and parts of the 3rd and 4th Romanian armies “guarding” the German flanks, concluded in Donetsk.
      It’s 2022, but the so-called experts are making the same mistakes as 1942, in nearly the same locations.

  7. Robert Hahl

    The real problem with bad movies: almost all of them are. It is much easier to find great books now that the used book market is so accessible, and then spend many hours in the presence of excellence if not genius, while excellence in movies and TV shows is rare as a chicken crossing the road. And they are over in a few hours, I have almost given up looking.

    1. Martin Oline

      Another advantage is I have never had to plug in a book in order to read it. It looks as though I will be well prepared for any possible power supply problems in the future with my library. Gardening in the morning and reading in the afternoon and evening . . .

    2. The Rev Kev

      With bad movies, sometimes there are markers that will tell you that they are. In the 50s and 60s there was a whole string of sci fi films from this one production company whose name I forget. It was something like American Enterprise or something and whose logo was the Capital building. Point was, if you saw that name & logo, you knew that the film was a stinker. On the other hand, when you see particular people associated with a film, it is a sign that it will probably be a good if not great film. So if I see the name of Gale Anne Hurd as a producer, there is a fair chance that it will be a really good film as her name is associated with many so solid films.

          1. lance ringquist

            they were a great studio. i saw just about everyone of their pictures at my local drivins starting in the 1950’s. great double features, sometimes even dusk to dawn affairs.

            panic in the year zero, earth vs, the spider, the man with the x-ray eyes, zontar thing from venus, invasion of the saucer men, the amazing colossal man and its sequel, the brain eaters, night of the blood beast, attack of the giant leeches are just a few of their classic entertainment:)

      1. Dr. John Carpenter

        I’d take any random movie from AIP or Crown (their biggest competitor) over the latest whatever extended universe Hollywood is belching out. Those old movies were cheap and often bad, but never boring. People call Plan 9 From Outer Space a bad movie but I dare you to watch it and not be entertained. The last bit Hollywood blockbuster I tried to watch bored me to tears.

        1. Bugs

          AIP produced those fantastic Vincent Price movies based on Poe stories. Roger Corman was one of the directors for them. Many good memories of watching those on Saturday evenings in the 70s.

          1. Acacia

            I once heard AIP producer Samuel Z. Arkoff give a talk about his career. He was a grumpy old fellow, full of anecdotes about dropping the hammer on directors, telling them they had to finish by next week on some ridiculously small budget. The proof is in the pudding…

    3. playon

      We try to find foreign films as most of them are better than the dreck coming out of Hollywood these days. Many modern TV series and documentaries are better than most current movies I find.

    4. playon

      We try to find foreign films as most of them are better than the dreck coming out of Hollywood these days. As well, many modern TV series and documentaries are better than most current movies.

      1. Rober Hahl

        Film seems to be a difficult medium to handle well, like water color. Then, the money and glamour attracts a lot of no-talents, so the net result depends on contributions by hundreds of people who have no say in the product, and a few self-important ones who ruin it for everyone, much like government. Another issue is movies present themselves as long form fiction but they are really just short stories, also a difficult medium to hand well.

  8. polar donkey

    If IM Doc has the time/interest, could he comment about Taylor Hawkins autopsy. I read a report his heart weighed 600 grams, which is twice what it should weigh for a man his age. Hawkins had received his covid booster February 26th. The article said he had complained about chest pain before going to his hotel room. Could his heart been caused by drug abuse earlier in life?

    1. Mikel

      Drug abuse “earlier in life”? Autopsy found about 10 different drugs in his system.
      That is indication of abuse and/or some kind of condition.

      1. playon

        The article you linked mentioned that an enlarged heart is not uncommon for athletes (and if you’ve ever seen a clip of Taylor playing the drums, he might qualify as one).

        But seems like he had a lot of stuff in his system, not good.

    2. griffen

      I really prefer to tread lightly here, but a little more time to reliably sift through the preponderance of drugs is probably needed. When it relates to the heart and heart conditions, there are no known issues among myself or my brothers (all either in our 50s or reaching that stage).

      However, a similarly aged male (about 53 or 54 then) cousin had a scare over two years ago. That’s when he had emergency stents put in place, thus preventing the heart attack termed the Widowmaker which could have been his untimely ruin. Prior to this occurrence he had led a fairly clean standard of life, including his eating choices. Zero alcohol, in fairly decent health.

    3. IM Doc

      So, right off the bat, I am not a pathologist nor an autopsy expert. However, I have been exposed to enough of them over my life that I can get pretty granular.

      As I expressed to the brain trust colleagues right after the drug reports came out on this individual, I found that to be a little problematic. If you follow the news at all, you will be familiar with the fact that drug evaluations in forensic pathology often take many weeks to complete. Having released the fact that there were 10 drugs found in his system in just a few days was not the normal time frame we see in these cases. Usually, the information in just a few days that comes out is the same we have in the ER. QUALITATIVE data on drug families. NOT QUANTITATIVE. We can have quantitative alcohol numbers very quickly. All the other drugs not so much. And they are reported as POS/NEG QUALITATIVE and only in the general families, ie BENZOS, COCAINE METABOLITES, OPIOIDS, etc. To get granular details on which exact drugs are involved will take days/weeks of analysis – and certainly will not have the actual quantitative numbers associated with them ( ie did the person have a level high enough to kill him?) until much analysis is done.

      Therefore, I would say the result that “10 drugs” were found in his system just a day after death seems to be problematic. Not sure what they are talking about. It is possible that the authorities found empty bottles or containers in his possession or some such. But that was not clear from the reports.

      That being said – the enlarged heart issue is absolutely not unusual in patients who have used drugs heavily in their past. Even if they are currently sober. This also includes alcohol. When I have patients like this in my practice, which I have plenty of unfortunately, we monitor their heart function and size on a routine basis. We monitor them constantly for signs/symptoms of congestive heart failure and rhythm problems like AFIB. And FYI – there is also a cohort of patients who are previous professional or very high performance athletes that have much of the same problems. These would be the folks involved in very highly aerobic exercise – marathons, IronMan, Wide Receivers, etc. This man was a drummer. I have witnessed enough rock concerts in my life to notice the drummers stripped to shorts, no body fat, and sweating like a water fountain for hours on end. That could also have played a role in his situation.

      One thing is for sure. I would be very very careful about medical evaluations done over TV or magazines. There is nothing like seeing and feeling the patient’s body and organs in your own hands and eyes. There are exceptions to this. Diagnosis of dementia and other neuro problems is often patently obvious just by watching behavior on TV. For example, Joe Biden – his neurologic issues are apparent for any trained eye to see – the marked change from baseline, the irrational bursts of anger, the gradually worsening and severe gait disturbance ( that particular type is very associated with dementia), the slouch when he walks, the way he holds his face/eyes, the confusion, getting lost in speech, having his family or handlers constantly cover for him, etc . A bunch of disparate symptoms that are behavioral and obvious are apparent. If this type of patient showed up in my office, after a few minutes of observation, I would order a neuro-cognitive evaluation instantly.

      There are a few other medical conditions that will be obvious to a trained eye in just a fleeting glance or a brief look – the eye changes of hyperthyroidism, certain rashes, etc. I have driven my wife absolutely nuts a few times in our lives by telling complete strangers they really ought to have “thus and so” checked out. I have also blown her mind in the past stating things like – “that celebrity person on TV is about to have an MI” and having it happen in the next few weeks.

      That being said, most medical conclusions require medical evaluations and hands/eyes on the patient in the same room. We should not be armchairing that in any way. This situation with this drummer is assuredly one of those things. The fact that the “10 drug” thing was released to the public is completely inappropriate. And all the people making judgments about it one way or the other is inappropriate. Once the full autopsy is released – then we can hypothesize. Until then, we should keep quiet.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Thanks for the informative comment. Hawkins, as well as being a drummer, was super fit his whole life – a keen surfer and mountain biker. He was a heroin user before his marriage and kids I believe. He always seemed full of life in his interviews, he never had what to me are tell tale signs of someone who takes too much coke or opiades. He never bulked up so far as I’m aware, so I doubt he was taking steroids.

        My first thought, based on where he was, that maybe he got some cocaine that was too pure and strong. And given the mix, maybe it was a situation like Tom Petty, where he seemingly accidentally overdosed while self medicating for pain.

      2. Geo

        Just want to say thank you for your contributions here. Every time your opinion is offered I get the feeling I’m more informed on whatever subject you have discussed. Or, at the very least my biases have been challenged. :)

      3. Unfinished

        Thanks IM Doc. Having lived years in Bogota I can add that the altitude (+8600 ft) presents a challenge to anyone arriving from time spent in lower altitudes; even longtime residents in the flush of youth. Might that not also have contributed?

      4. Anthony G Stegman

        Some time last year Jim Rome’s radio sports show had a fitness “guru” of sorts on as a guest. One of the things he emphasized was the hazards of over-exercising. He is of the opinion that those who train like a professional athlete or aspirant to the Olympics do themselves no favor. He pointed out how over-exercise ages the body and actually takes years off one’s life. I started to notice that in the runners in my neighborhood. They all looked older than their likely chronological age, but they were seemingly addicted to their daily runs. In California’s Sierra Nevada range there is a mountain peak – Norman Clyde peak – named after the famous mountaineer Norman Clyde. At nearly 14 thousand feet the peak is a challenging climb. Clyde was famous for climbing with 70 pound packs. His doctor eventually advised him to stop due to an enlarged heart.

          1. orlbucfan

            I don’t. Taylor Hawkins died from what rock and roll musicians and educated fans call a “chemical cocktail.” He almost OD’ed over 20 years ago. He has stated that he liked doing chemicals. The noise about 10 drugs is National Enquirer gossip. As IM Doc and others have pointed out, full autopsies take time. But, he had cocaine, probably alcohol, pot, and some sort of Ativan type drug in his system. That is certain. He also had an enlarged heart. Anyone who has watched genuine and talented artists perform on stage knows it is a physical workout. Performers also deal with hot lights on stage and have to be aware of the weather if the concert is outdoors. And he was in Bogota, Columbia which is a high altitude city. It’s a shame, a real shame. I feel for Dave Grohl, the Foo Fighters’ leader. First, Nirvana and Kurt Cobain’s suicide, and now this tragedy. He and Hawkins were very close. It is my hope Grohl doesn’t give up making music cos he is very talented with a mature, level head on his shoulders.

      5. juno mas

        “…most medical conclusions require medical evaluations and hands/eyes on the patient in the same room.”—IM Doc.

        This is why everyone should have access to a primary care physician—every year of their life. Heart attacks have many causes. Heart health is not readily discerned with just tests. The US needs more family physicians (that are guaranteed funding through a national health plan.)

  9. Questa Nota

    Axelrod, soon to be cancelled by PBM lobbyists operatives?

    Or just due to people on Twitter remembering who and what he was?

    Axelrod writes: I’ve been taking an RX for a chronic condition for years. This week, I learned my insurance no longer covers it. Now the cost is $639-a-month! How many people can afford that?
    “Your money or your life” is a hell of choice that people shouldn’t have to face.

    Respondent writes: did you know that you have the exact same name as a powerful government figure that spent a decade making sure our healthcare system worked like this? crazy coincidence dude

    1. Nikkikat

      How tone deaf these elite idiots are. What? Did he actually think people would rally to his circumstance? Every one would console him and feel bad and forget his part in why it costs
      639.00 I doubt he lost any sleep when he helped Obama to screw us all over with his corrupt Obama care.

      1. Dr. John Carpenter

        Part of the thing is our betters fail to acknowledge these sort of issues until they happen to them. But the other part is, they always get a bailout we commoners don’t get. For instance, Biden should be aware of the medical situation too many in this country find themselves in as he claims he’d been there with Beau. However, by all accounts, President MyBoss bailed him out. So the solution is never that we need to change the system. It’s always have rich and connected friends. I’m sure Axelrod will be fine for exactly this reason.

        (And speaking of having the same name, it’s always annoyed me he shares the name with an amazing musician/producer/writer from the 60s and 70s. Some of the good David Axelrod’s works:


        1. megrim

          This is exactly how I felt about Scott Walker, governer of Wisconsin, having the same name as Scott Walker, of the Walker Brothers. Thankfully the politician’s career seems to have tanked!

  10. Wukchumni

    The Download: Droughts are cutting into California’s hydropower. Here’s what that means for clean energy. MIT Technology Review
    One of the first hydropower efforts in Cali was right here circa 1900.

    There are 3 flumes in the vicinity on the middle & east forks of the Kaweah River which carry water into power plants just outside of Sequoia NP and in Three Rivers not too far away. There are small concrete dams on a number of high altitude lakes in Mineral King built from 1904 to 1911, so as to be able to control the flow of the water.

    None of them really do anything these days, and the Franklin Lake dam was a real piece of work. Must’ve taken an awful lot of mule loads of concrete to get ‘r done.

    In 2015, the plants went offline on account of the drought, and it’ll probably happen again this summer. It was such a strange winter this year full of promise and 10 foot high snowdrifts in Lake Tahoe in early January, but bupkis since.

    I inquired once about where the power went, wondering if we could light up things locally using our own largess, and was told that it all goes into the grid. How difficult would it be to redirect it to our community i’ve wondered, were things to come a cropper and the grid went down?

    The concrete halfpipe flume which runs through tiny town has sections where when the water is low enough (you have to be able to float under sideways wood trestles) you can ride the flume for a good 1/3rd of a mile with the only question being head first or feet first? It’s always around 102 here in the summer, so you take a ride, get out at the catching rope, walk back and be dried off by the time you do it again.

    Another sometimes event is our local regatta, which has had as many as 30 boats made of anything you can imagine, with the only proviso that it must be able to hold a red solo cup full of beer.

    None of the boats look alike, one might be a plastic gallon milk jug with a bit of weight added and a perfectly fitted hole for the cup of barley soda, while the next is a car wash sponge with a hollowed out space for suds.

    The contest is half a mile and we launch and follow the race along the flume, cheering on our watercraft and if our rides didn’t tip over, enjoy a frosty brew after picking them up out of the channel.

  11. DJG, Reality Czar

    How Octavian won against Antony and Cleopatra (who, as we all know, was not “really” black according to U.S. racial categorization:

    From the article, an excellent summing up: “Technology is very important, but having the best technology and having the most money does not necessarily guarantee you victory. A hungry and audacious underdog can win—particularly in the case of Octavian. He was a really good strategist. He knew his own limitations. He was willing to turn over command to Agrippa, who could do the things that he couldn’t do.”

    Later, as Augustus, who always claimed to be working for the Senate and the Republican, he also engaged in some fascinating religious reforms, including rebuilding many temples in Rome and incorporating and invigorating the cult of the Lares, arguably the most popular gods, because they lived in each house, which gave him ritual support, too.

    He also relied on Rome’s system of “neighborhood organizations” in the vici (the nabes) to organize the city and support his power.

    All very astute.

    This is the difficulty with trying to draw parallels to ancient Rome. On the one hand, Augustus has a pragmatic mindset easily understood by moderns. On the other hand, Americans in particular have no feel for the strength and moral authority of so-called paganism. The Lares, indeed.

    I note the article’s mention of some intriguing back story about the Seizure of Methone: “One of the sources is a book about being a vegetarian that just mentions the siege in passing.”

    I have a feeling that this is the indispensable Plutarch’s book on his being a vegetarian. Like Augustus, Plutarch is accessible and practical, yet his books on Greek mysticism (The E at Delphi & Why the Oracles No Longer Prophesy in Poetry, among them) raise many questions about spirituality (of the times).

    1. DJG, Reality Czar

      Further on U.S. racial colonialism, and no, Cleopatra wasn’t really black in the U.S. sense.

      The author writes that Bogud, an African “Moor” king, was at the battle and may have been a person of color.

      Bogud was likely a Berber and looked like Zinedine Zidane.

      Wikipedia sez: “Bogud (died 31 BC), son of King Mastanesosus of Mauretania,[1] was a Berber joint king of Mauretania with his elder brother Bocchus II, with Bocchus ruling east of the Moulouya River and his brother west. An important ally of Julius Caesar, Bogud later supported Mark Antony in the power struggle between Antony and Octavian. He was deposed by his brother and was killed at the siege of Methone prior to the Battle of Actium.”

      Now that Americans have discovered that the “country of Africa” exists, they still can’t deal with Africa’s historic, religious, and linguistic variety.

      1. Andrew Watts

        The people of the ancient world weren’t obsessed with skin color or ethnicity as much as our contemporary society is. The primary distinction was class and whether a person was a Roman citizen. Non-citizens were subject to an entirely arbitrary system of legal rule. Nor did they possess the ability for any kind of legal redress.

        1. playon

          Nor was there as much anti-semitism in the ancient world – some Arab royals had Jews in their court.

          Obsession with “race” is mostly America and Europe, but Europe was much better than the USA, which is why in the 50s and 60s some black jazz and blues musicians moved to Europe permanently. In my experience visiting countries where white people are a minority, there is far less racism there than the other way around.

        2. PlutoniumKun

          Their conception of race was far more fluid. The Ancient Greeks seem to have believed that there were three races – whites, blacks (black Africans, but not higher skinned north Africans), and blondes (i.e. northern Germanic/Nordic types). They were fully aware of the Asian peoples but considered them as ‘white’.

      2. Michael Fiorillo

        Fond memories of classes – it didn’t matter the subject – at CCNY in the mid-seventies, when ever-present Black nationalist classmates would inevitably try to hijack the discussion with the classic, “What about the Egyptians?”

        1. DJG, Reality Czar

          But, but, but, the Egyptians called their country, Kemet, which means black land.

          The person who truly “sensitized” me to how much Americans insist on imposing their racial insanity on the world is the gay, pagan, Druid, radical, Rhyd Wildermuth, originally from S.E. Ohio and now living in Luxembourg. When one is outside the US of A, this desperation to impose racial categorization by Usonians becomes more than evident.

        2. drumlin woodchuckles

          Eurocentrism is the theory that blond Aryan Germans built the Great Pyramids of Egypt.

          Afrocentrism is the theory that black African Egyptians built the Great Wall of China.

          One good centrism deserves another.

    2. Mildred Montana

      Interesting comment. Thank you.

      >”…he [Augustus}also engaged in some fascinating religious reforms, including rebuilding many temples in Rome and incorporating and invigorating the cult of the Lares, arguably the most popular gods, because they lived in each house, which gave him ritual support, too.”

      One of the reasons for the downfall of Robespierre in Revolutionary France was the “Festival of the Supreme Being” he presided over in 1794. Many French people were appalled and angered that their Catholic God (whom they were still strongly attached to) was belng replaced by a “Supreme Being”. Maximilien was mocked and ridiculed, immediately lost much public support, and perhaps paid with his life for his misunderstanding of the people’s long-held religious preferences.,rival%2C%20the%20Cult%20of%20Reason.

      >”…Americans in particular have no feel for the strength and moral authority of so-called paganism. The Lares, indeed.”

      As far as paganism goes in America today, it exists. It is called Christian Fundamentalism and it lurks in the background of all American politics. Woe to the politician who ignores its influence.

      1. Bazarov

        By the time of Augustus, paganism was already beginning its decline.

        A great book on this topic is Burckhardt’s “The Age of Constantine”. There’s a wonderful English translation from the 1950s by Moses Hadas. Burckhardt writes history in the stye of a literary essayist. He’s rather witty.

        Despite the title, most of the book is about Diocletian.

        1. Mildred Montana

          I’ll definitely check him out. I like witty literary essayists.

          But…it was 300 years from Augustus to Constantine. The decline of paganism during Augustus’s reign surely must have been rather slight.

          1. Bazarov

            The paganism that subsisted during Augustus was already transforming into a kind of unstable “transition belief”–a pre-Christian paganism with “asiatic” elements in it that would eventually kind of merge together into Christianity.

            The old paganism was by the end of the 1st century pretty unintelligible to the average Roman. The symbols of the cults became increasingly esoteric to people and were soon incorporated into “asiatic” style worship–Mithras, the “Great Goddness,” Christian stuff–to give the mysteries a more magic-y feel.

            The overall impression I get from the study of late-paganism is that of instability in the face of spiritual dissatisfaction. Paganism itself was transforming, and if Christianity hadn’t swept it away, we would’ve ended up with a Christianish religion that would’ve killed the remnants of “old style” paganism anyway.

          2. NotTimothyGeithner

            Modern uses of paganism, monotheism, polytheism and so forth are words cooked up by 18th century English dilettantes. Because lets be honest, how many Christians are monotheists? Like 10 to 14. The rest worship saints, angels, Jesus and his dad, and so forth.

            A better waywould be to see religions as falling under two major divisions:
            -city, desert, forest religions
            -entrance requirements: mass suffrage, stricter requirements, geographic based religions and ancestor worship.

            The Christianity of the Constantine era was more of a mass suffrage, city religion except in Rome. Its desert roots always come back.

        2. DJG, Reality Czar

          Mildred Montana and Bazarov:

          Paganism was not fundamentalist. That is a U.S. imposition. And I think that writers like Burkhardt assumed too much that Christianity is simply the successor religion.

          I prefer Rūpke:

          The pagan world was a complicated place. For much of its history, Roman religion was like Shintō–Japan (and Rome) were the lands of eight million gods.

          Then came an idea of religion as something more codified, with a hierarchy and with scriptures. Christianity wasn’t the only competitor with a hierarchy and with scriptures in its early days. Rūpke is particularly provocative on that account.

          I also recommend Harriet Flower’s The Dancing Gods, which is about the history of the Lares, who were so popular (in several senses of that word) that the Christians had to extirpate them. (If they succeeded, I don’t know.)

          1. Bazarov

            I read Rupke’s recent “Pantheon.”

            Perhaps the English translation is a bad, but the writing was so leaden with academese many passages honestly came off as gibberish. There were lucid glimmers, certainly, but I rolled my eyes a lot. It reminded me of my attempts to read translations of Hagel and Heidegger. Often times I read a passage and thought: this isn’t communicating very well.

            Funnily enough, the one chapter I thought was extremely lucid and interesting was the first (I can actually remember having read it!), and it’s this chapter he seemed most anxious about (practically apologizing for it–one has the feeling he nearly cut it) wherein he imagines, in thankfully concrete terms, what “religious life” might’ve been like for a simple person thousands of years ago.

            And anyway, I don’t think Rupke would disagree much with Burkhardt, as the time Burkhardt wrote about is very well into the “late” period when “religion” in the modern sense is already a thing according to Rupke’s argument (as far as I could follow it).

            1. Bugs

              Thanks all for this excellent thread. I love the late Republic and the Pax Romana. Perhaps the most beautiful period of history for me. Though the Shogunate must have been quite the experience as well.

          2. flora

            The popular meaning of ‘pagan’ has changed over time from the early pantheistic Roman era, to the somewhat later Christian Roman era, and on forward to now. It’s interesting to me that Zelenko refers to the WEF’s techno hopes of individual “immortality” for the right people, via technology, as the ‘new paganism’.

            Per wiki :

            an upgradable intelligent agent will eventually enter a “runaway reaction” of self-improvement cycles, each new and more intelligent generation appearing more and more rapidly, causing an “explosion” in intelligence and resulting in a powerful super intelligence that qualitatively far surpasses all human intelligence.

            Also, per wiki (above): Public figures such as Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk have expressed concern that full artificial intelligence (AI) could result in human extinction.

            The “new paganism” indeed. imo.

  12. The Rev Kev

    “Missiles hit Ukrainian refinery, ‘critical infrastructure’ near Odessa port”

    Surprised that it has not been hit earlier. Mariupol is mostly mopped up and it looks like the Russian are going to clean out that cauldron that has the best of the Ukrainian army and which was going to invade the Donbass. And this will free up tens of thousands of Russian soldiers this. But I would not be surprised to see the Russians going for Odessa soon. Maybe those NATO officers had better get out now. The Russians can move their forces freely through the south while the rest of the Ukrainian army no longer has the ability to send a force to try to stop them or reinforce the south without getting hammered. But on the TV news the reporters practically celebrate when they see a Russian tank or troop carrier that has been burnt out but aren’t looking for what is important. Instead, they are lapping up Ukrainian propaganda films. One example. There is a brief video clip showing a ‘Ukrainian Female Soldier’ walking through a battlefield to a soundtrack- (56 secs)

    Yeah, about that, Gonzalo Lira put out a video about Ukrainian propaganda and demonstrates how the same exact “battlefield” has been used in a coupla other videos. And that girl? Turns out that she is a well known fascist chick and he shows an image of her giving a Nazi salute. How about that- (57:36 mins)

    1. Martin Oline

      In regards to that cauldron in the Donbass, I heard two Ukraine generals were relieved of command. I wonder if they were in that cauldron and were negotiating surrender terms. Does anyone know any more about their identities and commands?

      1. Martin Oline

        To answer my own question, no, they aren’t/weren’t in the cauldron. A search shows
        “A southern-region security chief lost his general’s rank, Mr. Zelensky said. Serhiy Kryvoruchko had led Ukraine’s security service office in the Kherson region, where Russia seized the capital earlier in the war with little military opposition.

        Mr. Zelensky also stripped the rank from Brig. Gen. Andriy Naumov, the former head of internal security at the Security Service of Ukraine, who is believed to have fled the country shortly before the war began.”

    2. LawnDart

      Yeah, about that…

      “Quick, Ivan– fetch me my rod and reel!”

      Red carpet runway meets Mad Max? The trout pout suggests that poor girl needs a drool-cup to hang under her chin… …or perhaps her jaw is sore…

  13. Wukchumni

    …from detective novels to detectives

    ‘you have the right to be silent…’

    The city of McFarland is looking to replace its local library branch with a police headquarters.

    In multiple letters to various Kern County officials, the McFarland City Council and other local leaders encourage the county to allow the McFarland branch of the Kern County Public Library to be converted into the headquarters for the McFarland Police Department.

  14. DJG, Reality Czar

    Finally, some more cracks in the seemingly solid wall of pro-war propaganda in Italy, as reported by Fatto Quotidiano:

    Although one has to click through to a fairly minor blog for the whole statement:

    I don’t know: Zafesova, the Rachel Maddow at LaStampa, was reduced to profiling Stepan the National Cat o Ukraine last Sunday. (Her piece wasn’t good at noting any ironies, though.)

  15. doug

    From: The China big tech article

    The SAMR later said food delivery companies should take steps to ensure their deliverers make at least the local minimum wage, reduce their workloads and strengthen traffic safety education.

    What? the govt is protecting gig workers? Neat idea.

  16. The Rev Kev

    ‘How difficult would it be to redirect it to our community i’ve wondered, were things to come a cropper and the grid went down?’

    I don’t think that it will be so easy. There was a drought in my State over twenty years ago and against public opposition, they were laying pipelines so that sewerage could be recycled back into drinking water instead of for example sending it to farming districts instead. But what was galling was that while the whole region was on drought restrictions, one wealthy area wasn’t. Water was being piped from our biggest dam to a dam in this area that was full but because a contract had been signed, it could never be broken. So precious water was being piped from a dam that supplied a major city so that it could be sent to this rich enclave. In fact, during this drought, the Council there had to organize days where they asked residents to water gardens & lawns, wash cars, refill swimming pools as they had too much water in their dam and wanted to get rid of the excess. So be careful to see what contracts have been signed.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Meant as a reply to ‘Wukchumni April 3, 2022 at 9:20 am’ but got bumped way down here for some reason.

    2. Wukchumni

      Well, it is owned by Southern California Edison, so they’d have all the say in the matter, but we are an unincorporated island of misfit toys with oodles of independent minded thinking people, so who knows?

  17. TroyIA

    Sri Lanka is a case study of how it isn’t so simple to transition from growing crops using synthetic fertilizers to relying on organic methods. Prior to Covid-19 Sri Lanka relied on tourism for foreign currency which they would then use to subsidize the importation of fertilizer. Once Covid-19 struck tourism collapsed they no longer had as much in foreign reserves for fertilizer importation and switched to organic farming. They have discovered that the transition is not just as simple as flipping a switch.

    Hopefully countries around the world will learn from Sri Lanka’s experience and better prepare for either high priced fertilizers or have a plan on using less and still maintain production levels.

    In Sri Lanka, Organic Farming Went Catastrophically Wrong

    Faced with a deepening economic and humanitarian crisis, Sri Lanka called off an ill-conceived national experiment in organic agriculture this winter. Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa promised in his 2019 election campaign to transition the country’s farmers to organic agriculture over a period of 10 years. Last April, Rajapaksa’s government made good on that promise, imposing a nationwide ban on the importation and use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides and ordering the country’s 2 million farmers to go organic.

    The result was brutal and swift. Against claims that organic methods can produce comparable yields to conventional farming, domestic rice production fell 20 percent in just the first six months. Sri Lanka, long self-sufficient in rice production, has been forced to import $450 million worth of rice even as domestic prices for this staple of the national diet surged by around 50 percent. The ban also devastated the nation’s tea crop, its primary export and source of foreign exchange.

    By November 2021, with tea production falling, the government partially lifted its fertilizer ban on key export crops, including tea, rubber, and coconut. Faced with angry protests, soaring inflation, and the collapse of Sri Lanka’s currency, the government finally suspended the policy for several key crops—including tea, rubber, and coconut—last month, although it continues for some others. The government is also offering $200 million to farmers as direct compensation and an additional $149 million in price subsidies to rice farmers who incurred losses. That hardly made up for the damage and suffering the ban produced. Farmers have widely criticized the payments for being massively insufficient and excluding many farmers, most notably tea producers, who offer one of the main sources of employment in rural Sri Lanka. The drop in tea production alone is estimated to result in economic losses of $425 million.

    1. Bazarov

      It took Cuba awhile to master organic farming, called “organoponics,” during the “Special Period,” a situation somewhat similar to that of Sri Lanka’s (but caused by the collapse of the Soviet Union). Cuba’s heroic reorganization of its food production helped it rebound from a collapse in calories per person from 1800 in 1995 to over 3,000 calories today. During the “Special Period,” the average Cuban lost a reported 12-20 pounds.

      Also: health dramatically improved during the Special Period. People ate less meat, were forced to exercise (suddenly bicycling, never a major part of Cuban life before, became essential due to fuel shortages–in fact, there was a shortage of bicycles, partially alleviated by a huge bicycle donation from China), and smoked/drank less due to supply issues. I’ve read that diabetes cases fell by 50 percent, with similar drastic improvements in heart disease and cancer.

      Today, those diseases have returned to their “normal” levels as food scarcity long ago gave way to relative food abundance.

      I wonder if Cuba’s sent advisors to Sri Lanka?

      1. megrim

        Cuba switching back to using animals to plow the fields (because of a lack of fuel for tractors) also increased crop yields because the tractor tires compact the soil, while hooves are much smaller and gentler.

    2. Jack

      TroyIA: Thank you for the link to this interesting polemic. How will synthetic fertilizers be made after the end of the age of oil, though?

    3. PlutoniumKun

      The article is junk. It is written by Ted Nordhaus, who along with Michael Shellenburger are the founders of the Breakthrough Institute, which is essentially an astroturfing operation, funded by the usual array of right wing lobbyists. It specialises in producing quasi scientific sounding articles that profess to be sympathetic to environmentalism, but somehow or another always end up identifying problems. They are constantly pushing these articles on the media, and occasionally the likes of the NY Times of National Review bite. No serious science or tech outlets ever accept anything from them.

      There is little to no solid evidence out there on Sri Lanka’s experiment with organic agriculture (it is not a complete switch as the article implies) as it is very recent.

      1. CuriosityConcern

        The post made me consider, if you force a farmer to go organic/regenerative instead of convince that farmer, you might end up with the results described.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          Organic farming is hard. Using intensive inputs tends to deskill farmers. I’ve seen it in my own extended family where the old skills of growing a variety of crops have long gone. Farmers simply follow the instruction manual now.

          Going organic or similar takes years of work to build up the soil and develop the right mix of crops for the particular farm. As you suggest, its not likely to work well if you impose it on the farmer, but even a very quick google will show that this is not the case in Sri Lanka, contrary to what that article argues (typically, that article is first in every google search, giving a false impression of what is going on). The Sri Lankans are attempting a slow transition, but it seems to have been badly managed, probably exacerbated by very high costs for fertilisers and the lack of alternatives.

          The thing is, you can just as easily do the opposite kind of article as that for high input farming. Here in Ireland, farming is hitting huge problems thanks to over intensification of dairying. There is a near permanent fodder crisis as farmers can’t get enough winter food for the size of the farm herd, and fast rising costs for diesel and nitrogen are driven smaller farmers to the wall (which of course suits Big Ag). It is the classic crunch of high input farming vs the reality of the planets constraints. But the media is instead focusing on organic farming as being some sort of hipster affectation instead of the only thing that can be sustainable.

    1. Bart Hansen

      “Once again, very simple: Customers open an account with Gazprombank in Russia. Payments are made in foreign currency – dollars or euros – converted into rubles according to the current exchange rate, and transferred to different Gazprom accounts.”

      What happens to the euros?

      1. Polar Socialist

        Somebody buys them in Moscow Exchange with rubles – that is the “conversion” mentioned. What that someone then does with them, is their business. Literally.

        1. juno mas

          Right. The Yoorows are simply exchanged/arbitraged to customers who do want the Yoorows to pay taxes or buy stuff in France.

      2. jsn

        As long as sanctions are very porous, Euros and other currencies can be recycled through third part trades allowing Russia to sidestep the embargo.

  18. Tom Stone

    If someone says things that no sane or responsible person would say and they do what no sane or responsible person would do, they are indisputably both insane and irresponsible.
    Even if the person in question happens to be the President of the United States.

    I hope someone has mentioned to the Walton heirs that a nuclear holocaust would affect their quarterly profits and that it might be a good time to put their “Joe” puppet beck in the toy box.
    Have the maid do it.

  19. Tom

    Guy ends up paralyzed after crashing on Bird e-scooter. Sues LA for failing to maintain sidewalk. Bird defends LA. Bird says injured man agreed (in the TOS fine print) to never sue when he downloaded the app AND he owes Bird $300k for legal fees. AND “Bird argues that if the lawsuit goes to trial and Peña is awarded damages, it is Peña who must pay the damages … to himself.”

    1. Keith Howard

      I live in Denver, in a solidly residential old close-in neighborhood. My place is on a corner. On getting up this morning I saw that one of those damn scooters had been left overnight at the junction of the two sidewalks, completely blocking one of them. A disabled person or somebody pushing a baby carriage (of which there are many) will be forced either to move the heavy scooter out of the way or to detour into the street to get around the obstruction. I can’t prove it, but I think that the company that owns the scooter left it here, blocking the sidewalk, in what seems to me a deliberate provocation. I hate the stupid things. The Denver City Council’s action in allowing them to make money by appropriating the public space was typically imbecile and asinine. I deeply resent it. We’ve all been reading about the rise in furious behavior (on the highways, in airplanes, etc.) But the actual danger of moving around Denver has clearly increased as a result of the behavior of scooter users. I have personally nearly been struck by fast-moving scooters when getting in or out of the car. And recently a scooter rider nearly killed himself with my car; he was zooming along the wrong way on a one-way street downtown. Had I hit him — which I narrowly avoided — who do you think would have gotten the ticket? Few of the scooter riders wear helmets. Is the Council surprised that there is an increase in head and face injuries, many crippling?

      I realize that this rant properly belongs in a letter to the Council, or a letter to the editor. But of course, Denver hardly has a newspaper anymore, and a letter to the Council will have no result. More effective: pour something smelly and/or sticky on the handlebars.

      1. Tom

        They are absolutely a f%$!@#g menace. Hard to believe they are legal. Also hard to believe the terms of service are legally binding. NO ONE reads that stuff and everyone knows it.

        Does Bird (or will it ever) turn a profit? or is this another Uber/Wework style scam where VCs just dump tons of money into this thing?

        1. hunkerdown

          Quite possibly. IIUC, Bird indemnifies the city, and the rider indemnifies Bird and, in turn, the city, their own polity, without having explicitly agreed to do so. Perhaps the scam is to establish the precedent for private intermediaries to undo political guarantees via contract, as Uber undid employment guarantees.

    2. RobertC

      California Vehicle Code Sec. 21235

      The operator of a motorized scooter shall not do any of the following:

      (g) Operate a motorized scooter upon a sidewalk, except as may be necessary to enter or leave adjacent property.

      The LA Times article L.A. approves rules for thousands of scooters, with a 15-mph speed limit and aid for low-income riders notes

      California law prohibits riding electric scooters on the sidewalk. Users can ride in the street if the posted speed limit is 25 mph or slower, as close to the right-hand curb as possible, the law says. Scooter riders can also use bicycle lanes.

      The city will also require the scooter companies to print a message on the platform of the scooter that reads, “No riding on sidewalks” in lettering about two-thirds of an inch high.

      “We cannot regulate stupidity,” [LA City Councilman Joe] Buscaino said at the meeting. “Wear your helmet. Abide by the speed limit. Don’t ride on the sidewalk.”

      Yet the second picture in the article shows Buscaino riding on the sidewalk.

      LA has its own special stupidity.

      1. Geo

        I don’t know which side of this issue I want to support. The scooters are a menace but so are the dolts who use them. Often drunks at night zipping around on sidewalks and cross streets on red lights. Groups of riders hogging a road or leaving them in clusters blocking sidewalks all over. Very rarely do I see anyone using them for simple (sober) transport purposes.

        LA has tons of transportation problems but this scooter thing seems more of a burden than solution. Is there a way the judge can find both parties guilty and expel them from society?

      2. juno mas

        Similar rules apply to electric bikes (MPH in bike lane is 20). The problem is that the speed restriction of both scooters and bikes is readily circumvented by using a higher voltage battery-pack. I’ve tracked scooters going 25mph and e-bikes doing 35mph. It’s speed and stupidity that’s sure to bring forth wrecks.

        Vehicle code rules are useless. Whom is going to enforce them? Not enough manpower for that.

        Where I live 10 and 12 Y.O kids have e-bikes; that they never pedal. Whatever the current generation is called, they will not grow up to be strong and healthy

    3. Henry Moon Pie

      Re: transportation issues–

      There was an ad running several times during the Final Four that I found frightening. We see four people sitting in a GMC Denali SUV shot from the front of the vehicle as it goes down the road. The front grille on this thing must reach 6 feet. So then we watch them as they go down the road. All four–yes, ALL four–are playing a clap hands, slap thighs game. Now it’s bad enough this giant vehicle is speeding down the road with no hands on the wheel, but then we get a split screen so we can watch this monster pass another vehicle on a two-lane highway while the clap-hands continues.

      That must make all the bikers, walkers, and drivers of small vehicles feel great. The ad shows the driver at least sitting at the wheel, but from various Tesla tales, we know two geniuses will try sex in the back seat while this tank is cutting between lanes going 80.

      I guess it fits with the optional attitude toward stop lights here in town.

      1. Anthony G Stegman

        That very annoying commercial has been running for months. Apparently, GM has some kind of auto-pilot lite as an available upgrade which it is peddling in the commercial. Hopefully, nobody drives like the actors in the commercial.

  20. Carolinian

    Re bad movies–color me unconvinced. And a more accurate account of Pauline Kael’s attitude would be her statement that “even bad movies can give you something”–a good performance or other redeeming feature. She was opposed to pretensions of art–the “fantasies of the art-house audience”–rather than actual art. Having once run an art-house in Berkeley she knew whereof she spake.

    Indeed Kael almost seemed to be obsessed by “art” and may have, in later years, taken herself a bit too seriously as a result. In the end criticism is just somebody’s opinion or, as Kael also said, “taste is the great divider.”

    1. Robert Hahl

      I bought a couple of Pauline Kael’s books recently, on a search for good movies, and found them mostly unreadable. I think the problem was that her job was to create buzz about movies that were simply overrated, often by her.

      1. Carolinian

        Kael–in case it’s not obvious one of my great heroes–was a brilliant essayist on the subject of movies but I would agree that her judgments on specific films were uneven. Her pans were usually dead on, but her raves often haven’t stood the test of time. Did Last Tango in Paris “change the face of an art form?” Uh, no.

        But perhaps it’s true that when it comes to writers just as when it comes to movies you take what’s good and when she was good she was very good. IMO it’s those broad brush essays that put her at The New Yorker and made her a cultural star. This may have gone to her head a bit. The later reviews are not as good.

    2. Bart Hansen

      Those three or four films with Julie Delpy and a feckless American gave me zero. You remember “Before Breakfast”, etc.

      1. bongbong

        Delphy was trying to copy the (IMHO) brilliance of “Two For The Road”, changing the excellent cars of the latter into a humdrum train, and adding the High Concept of a trilogy to the mix.

        It takes masterful movie making to turn everyday life into Cinema. Donen succeded; Linklater failed.

  21. SocalJimObjects

    The Ukrainians have the Russians on the ropes guys!!!

    Russia’s chief negotiator did not refute Mr Arakhamia’s statement altogether on Sunday, but sought to make it look like it was Ukraine that accepted Russia’s demands, not the other way round.

    “The Ukrainian delegation has become more realistic on the issues concerning Ukraine’s neutral and non-nuclear status, but the draft agreement is not ready yet for the top-level meeting,” Vladimir Medinsky said in his blog, commenting on a possible meeting between Putin and Zelensky.

    He added that the proposals that Ukraine has agreed to were “exactly what Russia has been seeking since 2014”.

    Seems to me like the Russians pretty much have this war in the bag, seeing how Western media is laying down the path for Ukraine’s “victory”.

    1. Brunches with Cats

      Maybe the Russians know what women of my generation have known from young adulthood: If you want a guy to do something, you have to make him think it’s his idea.

      Adding: And you have to let him take credit for it.

        1. Polar Socialist

          At my work we even named this process “inception”. Too often the only way to make good things happen.

  22. The Rev Kev

    “How two dozen retired generals are trying to stop an overhaul of the Marines”

    And buried near the end is the reason why this “reform” is being done – ‘Berger’s plan is not only backed not only by Congress. It’s been welcomed by defense contractors and lobbyists as well, because money is still flowing on a variety of new projects.’ So the US Marines will only do the Pacific in essence and not much anywhere else. And a lot of them will be stationed on islands in packets with missiles to sink Chinese ships. Unless the Chinese use their intel to locate those Marines and hit them with their own missiles first. And how are those marines supposed to be supplied if scattered on those islands? And Marines have said that the missions now assigned to them are the same that the Army is doing so why the need for a self-standing Marine Corps?

    1. Lambert Strether

      > “How two dozen retired generals are trying to stop an overhaul of the Marines”

      If two dozen retired generals are against overhauling the Marines, maybe the overhaul is a good idea?

      What the heck do the Marines need Abrams tanks for, anyhow?

  23. Paradan

    So I read a really excellent synopsis of the War in Ukraine. It’s by a retired colonel from the Swiss intelligence service named Jacques Baud. The paper is titled “The Military Situation in Ukraine”, but it is in French. The translation I read was done by Boyd D, Cathey, and is up over at Unz under the title “Is it possible to actually know what has been and is going on in Ukraine?”. I’m not linking to it cause I’m unsure as to the policy here towards Unz.

    1. Polar Socialist

      Here’s the original. On the same site Baud has already a follow up.

      Colonel Baud seems to blame the collective West both for the lead-up to the invasion and for the poor performance of the Ukrainians.

      1. Keith Newman

        @Polar Socialist, 11:26
        Great analysis by Baud. Thanks for the link. I know some Quebec francophones who would like to read it.

    2. David

      I’m not sure exactly what your link is to, but this paper seems first to have been published on the site C2FR, which is quite reputable. Baud has another, much longer, paper on the subject here. As far as I can make out, the latter site is an extreme right-wing traditionalist Christian one, with, for example an interview with Aleksandr Dugin prominently featured. The analysis is a bit one-sided (and even tending towards a bit of Putin-worship) but certainly more balanced and informative than the type of gutter journalism we’ve become used to on this subject.

      1. pjay

        I also thought the paper was informative and seemed to ring true. But I was hesitant because (1) Cathey himself is a right-wing traditionalist Christian which has shaped (and distorted) his views on a number of issues; and (2) the quality of material at Unz’s site varies greatly, to say the least. But given Baud’s background, if the C2FR site is reputable then I would certainly recommend that people read it. As many have been pointing out recently, waiting for intelligent analyses from politically correct “progressive” sources has been a very frustrating experience (NC excepted, of course).

      2. Lambert Strether

        > the latter site is an extreme right-wing traditionalist Christian one

        I can deal with cray cray from the likes of Rod Dreher, where at least I don’t have to worry about filtering for the Illuminati.

        Baud is a security consultant in Brussels. From his Wikipedia entry (translated):

        According to journalist Antoine Hasday, published by Conspiracy Watch , an interview with Jacques Baud given to RT France “ticks all the boxes for geopolitical conspiracy theories” [ 18 ] . The latter, sometimes invited by the traditional media, also intervened on the far-right web-television TV Libertés , as well as previously on RT France [ 18 ] . Interviewed on this last channel by Frédéric Taddeï in September 2020, he notably minimizes the human toll of the Darfur war, which he reduces to 2,500 dead (against 300,000 according to the UN) and denies the responsibility of the Syrian army in the massacres in Homs in 2011 and in the chemical attacks in Ghouta, Khan Sheikhoun and Douma between 2013 and 2018 [ 18 ] . Taking up the official arguments of the Syrian regime of Bashar el-Assad, he also asserts that the photographs taken by the military photographer ” Caesar ” are not those of political opponents who died under torture, but of soldiers of the Syrian army [18] . Jacques Baud also whitewashes Russia considering that the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal was caused by “food poisoning” and that the poisoning of Alexei Navalny is probably “the work of the mafia” [18].

        I find it hard to believe anybody believes that the Skripals got food poisoning, but wev.

        So, cum grano salis.

        1. Soredemos

          I’m actually far more inclined to believe they got food poisoning than that they were dosed with a ‘more powerful than VX’ nerve agent that somehow just didn’t kill them, or even seem to leave any lasting damage.

    3. Lambert Strether

      > the policy here towards Unz

      We are unenthusiastic, because of article titles — I won’t give links — like “What Pee-Wee Hermans’s Big Adventure Reveals About the Jewish Mindset,” “Understanding the True Nature of the Illuminati Agenda Behind the War with Russia,” or “The Only Way to Understand the Ukrainian Crisis Is by Placing Jewish Supremacist Power at the Front and Center of the Discussion.” That’s material we don’t want to go anywhere near, even with two or three degrees of separation.

      That said, the Baud article is really interesting. I hope it appears in some other venue.

      NOTE Adding, here is a clean version (Baud only, no intro by anyone else). The English reads the same.

      1. Bruno

        “Avec des généraux comme ça, on n’a plus besoin d’ennemi !”
        A French tradition, from Bazaine (1870), Neville (1914), Weygand, Gamelin, Pétain (1940), Challe (1954 and 1958), to (Macron?)

      2. David

        Yes, that’s the site I was a bit dubious about, though as you say it’s a clean version. The French site I mentioned has the shorter paper in English. (
        The Darfur example is interesting. The figures cited in the media at the time have been analysed, and frankly it looks as though they were basically invented in a situation where it was very hard to be sure of anything.

        1. Polar Socialist

          A bit like the tens of thousands of refugees claimed by UN in southern Syria in 2018 which then kinda disappeared completely when the SAA operation ended successfully in 5 weeks.

      3. Yves Smith

        Unz is an aggregator. His position tends to be that of publishing pieces that don’t run elsewhere, due either to tone or content. So a lot of them are somewhat to pretty unsound, as the British would put it, but now and again the site has something worth considering.

      4. fringe element

        I have gotten the impression a couple of times that a site I linked to was problematic. Is there any way to know which sites will or will not pass muster here? I would be happy to learn how to be more discerning if anyone has any advice.

  24. Mildred


    F***Joe Biden and the harris he rode in on.

    Joe Biden is a corporate whore for the lending industry:
    “As a senator from Delaware — a corporate tax haven where the financial industry is one of the state’s largest employers — Biden was one of the key proponents of the 2005 legislation that is now bearing down on students like Ryan. That bill effectively prevents the $150 billion worth of private student debt from being discharged, rescheduled or renegotiated as other debt can be in bankruptcy court.”

    Biden’s billion dollar corporations “discharge, reschedule or renegotiate” their debts all the time and shaft workers. Fifth generation American taxpayers trying to advance their lives? Nope.

    We have one child and two grandchildren whose lives have been ruined by that SOB, one cannot get permanent disability because of an ability to still work a little, the other has a useless tech degree after listening to Bill Clinton rant on about the need for coders. Because of his reappointing Powell and support for Wall Street, they will probably rent for the rest of their life, with roommates.

  25. Mikel

    “House Approves Marijuana Legalization Bill With Racial Justice Provisions” Truthout

    “The legislation would allow for resentencing hearings and expungement for people convicted of certain federal marijuana crimes at a time when the people facing years in prison for cannabis are speaking out. The legislation would also tax legal marijuana sales to fund economic programs in communities damaged by the drug war and remove barriers to starting legal cannabis businesses in a booming industry currently dominated by white entrepreneurs..”

    Anything but just get their records expunged and them out of jail pronto?
    Why do they have to wait over the other haggling? I’m sure they just want out…NOW!

    1. Screwball

      I was reading the article and could only get as far as the part where it said the bill would not pass the senate. Then said the GOP has their own plan. That’s when I quit. I think this is all theater for the mid-terms.

      In the bigger picture, from the states I am somewhat familiar with, what they passed, rather completely legal or medical only, has been poor. For example, I live in Ohio, but not far from the Michigan border. Ohio has med only, and the system is a joke. I know people who qualify for the med stuff went back to the black market mostly due to cost, but also the complexity of the system.

      In Michigan, which has both rec and med, the prices are off the charts. Not only is the products way too expensive to begin with, they charge %6 sales tax and then another %10 percent on top of that. So an oz of top line THC content pot is $460 bucks plus another $73 in tax for a total of $533. Ha! And that was the cheapest place close to the Ohio border. The black market will thrive.

      Decriminalize, take off schedule 1, legalize nationally, and let us grow our own. Everything else will take care of itself. Why does .gov think they need a cut? Does that somehow create a deal where “they” the government “allows” us to buy pot as long as we pay “the government” to do so? That sounds like something the mafia would do. We the people ARE “suppose to be” the government, so F off and let the growing begin.

      1. Mikel

        Let the growing begin….where available….
        I tried getting a friend with a green thumb to make some space for some seeds I’d collected and put them in their small, patio garden. But, with the food prices, the space is taken by other edibles.

        1. Screwball

          Yes, that could be a problem. I’m lucky, I live in the sticks to land is not an isssue. Kinda…

          Every fall (October I think) the state goes on their annual “pot hunt” in the fields in our area. I think it is the state, but could be wrong. Anyway, they fly a helicopter all around the farm fields looking for pot plants hidden in corn fields. Then a bunch of sheriff with helpers come out and eradicate the plants and burn them. I wonder what that costs?

          Then of course, the paper will run an article about how great they are doing against the war on drugs. OK, whatever.

          There is always a closet, garage, small room, and hydroponics. :-)

  26. haywood

    On the Amazon union win:

    This was an INDEPENDENT union organizing campaign, unaffiliated with any big national union and, if rumor has it, shunned by most major unions.

    As a longtime union member, leader, and staff organizer I can tell you that it’s much easier to win union organizing drives than people think. Something like 75% of NLRB elections are victorious every year, even in the private sector. (Winning a first contract is the more difficult challenge)

    Unions and the left whine about how impossible it is to organize but it’s really not. The bosses will fight back. People will get disciplined and maybe fired in some industries. But the pushback isn’t severe. We aren’t facing down Pinkertons anymore. And in a tight labor market who cares if you get fired from Whole Foods when Albertsons will hire you tomorrow?

    No, the issue is that the AFL, SEIU, and almost every other union simply does not want to organize new workers. It’s not cost effective to organize new local unions of a few dozen workers. And what few large employment sites that exist are not targets for existing leadership because thousands of new excited workers upset the delicate power balance that put the existing union leadership in their positions of power. As you can see with the new digital media unions right now, all of whom are clamoring for new organizing resources with their national affiliates, while the legacy media workers are fighting them every step of the way, focused on protecting their pensions.

    The future for labor is independent unions. Everywhere. I don’t see any other way.

    1. Verifyfirst

      I agree completely. As a lifelong labor person, I have seen enough “behind the curtain” to know the existing unions cannot be fixed in any kind of time frame one would want to wait for (any more than the Dem party can be fixed IMNSHO).

      It will have to be new unions that make it happen, if it will happen. I’m sure the established unions will be circling like sharks to get this Amazon bunch to affiliate–especially if they do get a first contract, which I think unlikely due to turnover in these warehouses–Amazon will wait them out for the one year and then instigate a de-cert. If they can even make it to formal NLRB certification in order to bargain–Amazon will almost certainly drag out appeals as long as possible.

      I hope they don’t fall for it (affiliation). Maybe the former Mrs. Bezos could provide some funding? (through an NGO if course).

      1. Michael Fiorillo

        Another potential model going forward might be the UE (United Electrical Workers), an original CIO union that has been independent since the Taft-Hartley era. The union received a lot of publicity shortly after Obama was elected in 2008, when members occupied a window factory in Chicago after the owners announced they were going to shut it down. They’ve also been making efforts to unite with unions in other countries at least since the passage of NAFTA.

      2. Verifyfirst

        I should have said, for those not familiar, “affiliation” in this situation is assimilation and death of independence.

    2. rowlf

      A new independent union is also a threat to old unions in that the leadership hasn’t been leashed by dues check off and such, and may actually fight for the workers they represent, making the old unions look bad. I was a member in a new independent craft union that got smashed by the company while the other unions on the property worked with the company.

      We had broken away from an industrial union and we kept our contract and the associated notes from over the years. The notes made for interesting reading, as we found out that when the old union was telling us the company was dragging out negotiations the truth was the union leaders couldn’t be bothered to go to negotiating meetings most of the time. I can see why the old union told us to vote for the Democrats every time as the Democrats share the same fighting spirit.

      Another time the old union invalidated one of our local elections when we managed to vote in local leaders the union thought were too radical. (The old union had recently lost representation at another company.)

      Good luck to the Amazon workers.

  27. Andrew Watts

    RE: A fresh take on why Octavian won the war against Antony and Cleopatra

    As our understanding of the present changes so does the stories we tell ourselves of the past. I always assumed that Cleopatra and her forces fleeing the battlefield without engaging played a bigger role in the outcome. By most accounts Agrippa was a capable commander and at the bare minimum he was competent. Thus securing the crossing for Octavian’s land forces would’ve been the priority while the severing of the lines of communication were probably a secondary objective.

    I don’t recall too many contemporary historians or military experts writing about the importance of the lines of communication or supply that were very popular. Outside of the post-Normandy landings and the subsequent supply issues. Apparently that’s changed quite recently for some reason.

    Funny, that.

    1. LifelongLib

      I wonder if supply lines and communication were as important for ancient armies as they are for modern ones. Back then supply was much more decentralized than it is now and communication was slow and unreliable under the best of circumstances. Off the top of my head it seems like armies then would have been a lot more autonomous.

      1. Polar Socialist

        Foraging and looting. Best time for campaigns was right after harvest. Unless you had a navy and marched along the seaside, as the Persians apparently did during the “restlessness on the western border”.

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        Part of the reason, the Romans won was they maintained supply lines. Other armies went home. Then the Romans cleaned up. Then holding an army together from year to year was an issue.

        Jerusalem is actually an important, small city because its the last point you can station an army before you have to commit to invading, Egypt, Babylon, Syria, and so forth, depending on who is doing the invading.

      3. jrkrideau

        Supplying war: logistics from Wallenstein to Patton
        Martin van Creveld is interesting.

      4. Steve H.

        Answer: Yes.

        See “Alexander the Great and the Logistics of the Macedonian Army.”

  28. Brunches with Cats

    Boosters for over-50s…

    Got mine on Wednesday, was shocked they had them so soon at our small pharmacy in rural upstate NY (helps, I suppose, that it’s one of those Walgreen’s “neighborhood” drugstores.) I went to take a prepaid return to the FedEx drop-off and as long as I was there, thought to ask when they’d be getting them in. Pharmacist said they’d received them that morning and asked if I wanted one, so I rolled up my sleeve.

    While I was getting jabbed, I mentioned Lambert’s recent article on CDC effing around with the numbers. Pharmacist confirmed without hesitation, seemed exasperated and frustrated. Customers expect him to know what’s going on, and he has no reliable information for them from the government. What he knows is all from on-the-ground intelligence.

    1. Anthony G Stegman

      There are some disagreements on the wisdom of getting a fourth shot (second booster). Some medical professionals are concerned that receiving frequent shots will reduce the effectiveness of our immune systems. Since there is so much unknown about these vaccines some clinicians are advising patients not to take a fourth shot. Others have a differing opinion and are encouraging everyone who is 50 and older or immune compromised to take a fourth shot.

  29. David

    I’m glad you posted a couple of links about the French elections, because, even in France, there’s hardly any coverage of probably the most important elections for fifty years, on 10 and 24 April.

    Strange, you may say. But it reflects the fact that Macron is a poor candidate, is not especially popular with voters, and has no real programme to offer. He’s hoping for a repeat of 2017, when he won by default, squeezing into the second round for an easy victory over Le Pen. He’s almost certain to be in the second round this time, and hopes that the French electorate, exhausted by Covid, angry about all sorts of things and fed on an unrelenting diet of anti-Russian hysteria, will either stay at home, or drag itself reluctantly to the voting booths to vote for him as the lesser of two evils. The media are supporting him by going berserk about Ukraine all the time. We’ll see if that works. There is an argument (that I have some sympathy with), which says that it would be a good idea if Macron did have a narrow victory so that he has to deal with the consequences of the national and international situation. I can’t imagine a better and more thorough way of discrediting and burying the globalist tendency which has done so much damage to France for so long.

    One measure of the gravity of the situation is to compare it with the 2012 election. Then, the principal candidates of the Left and Right (Hollande and Sarkozy) scored more than 50% of the votes in the first round. If you add Bayrou, who was fishing in the same pool, that goes up to almost two thirds. This time, the polls show Hidalgo and Pecresse, the two (female) successors, barely managing 15% between them. Think of the combined scores of Republicans and Democrats, or Labour and the Tories, to get an idea of what that means. As well as the disintegration of the Left, which is an old story, the Right is in pieces as well, and Pecresse has been a walking disaster since she started her campaign. Watch this space.

    1. Bruno

      The “disintegration of the left” may not be quite so significant in this election, since the real left candidate, Mélenchon, is rising steadily in the polls (with about 40 percent still “undecided”) to within easy range of the second round, while the social-Atlanticists (Hulot, Hidalgo, Poutou) are unlikely to get much more votes than those from liberals ashamed to vote for Macron in Round One.

      1. David

        Well, it depends on what you mean by “Left”, I suppose. Mélenchon is certainly doing unexpectedly well, for reasons that aren’t entirely clear, but he’s been up and down in the polls for months now. He’s a much better campaigner than Hidalgo, Hulot and co, and he seems to be cannibalising their support as the now-leading candidate for those who think of themselves as from the “Left.” His rhetoric seems designed to peel working-class voters away from Le Pen by emphasising economic issues for a change, which is a wise strategy, but of course he has to overcome years of slavish worship of identity politics in some of its worst manifestations. I’ve always seen him as the natural candidate of those who would like still to be thought of as of the Left, but have a reasonably comfortable life and few of the worries of ordinary people, and don’t want to vote Socialist any more. He might, as you say, get into the second round, but it’s currently still looking like Macron/Le Pen. In any event, it seems to be the end of the Socialist Party as we have known it. We might be at the point of another realignment of the Left: I certainly hope so. Meanwhile the Communist Party candidate, Fabien Roussel, is actually ahead of the Socialist, Hidalgo. That is interesting.

    2. RobertC

      It’s glaringly apparent from the Putin-instigated sanctions regime that the US’s ever tightening embrace of the EU makes the election of France’s president less important than the election of California’s governor.

  30. antidlc

    Doctor fired from ER warns about effect of for-profit firms on U.S. health care
    A doctor fired after criticizing care at the ER he ran said execs are focused on the financial outcome, “and the outcome is ‘Hey, we’re making money.’”

    Patients seeking emergency treatment at the busy Overland Park Regional Medical Center in Kansas near Kansas City, Missouri, didn’t know their safety was potentially at risk. But the medical director of the emergency department saw the danger in 2012 and for years urged his bosses to address it by adding staff members.

    Then he was fired.

    What happened to the medical director, a former Army doctor named Ray Brovont, isn’t an anomaly, some physicians say. It is a growing problem as more emergency departments are staffed by for-profit companies. A laser focus on profits in health care can imperil patients, they say, but when some doctors have questioned the practices, they have been let go. Physicians who remain employed see that speaking out can put their careers on the line.

    Brovont sued and won $26 million.

    1. Brunches with Cats

      Wow, real investigative reporting in the corporate media! Thanks for the link. Well worth a read, even though little if any of it will be news to NC readers.

      Especially loved this quote from the parent of the for-profit staffing company that fired the doctor:

      Asked about McNamara’s criticism, the Envision spokeswoman said the company “follows an operating structure that is common across the health-care sector and widely used by nonprofit, privately-held and public groups as well as hospitals and insurers. Industry-wide legal challenges to that structure have proved meritless.”

      Apparently, a $26 million settlement was too inconsequential to merit their attention.

    2. Questa Nota

      The rationale for those ERs must go something like this, to be read in your best Edward G. Robinson voice:

      We can save you money, see.
      We’ll just rationalize some functions, streamline and outsource, rebase and renegotiate to eliminate the, er, dead wood.
      We aim to dissect the barriers between the patient and the provider.
      Your role is to sign what we say, and to comply without question.

      And, anyways, if some better, cheaper, faster alternative was to be found, someone ought’n to have already found it already as that is what competition does, see.

      Nowhere is the consideration of that Hippocratic Oath mentioned.
      Nor is any recognition of human dignity or right of access to a well-defined, objective standard of care.
      Nor transparency about pricing, roles, entities or other means of identifying just who is doing what to whom.

    3. curlydan

      I’m pretty sure private equity must own most “urgent care” facilities, too. My son hurt his arm playing soccer a few months ago on a Saturday. We thought it was likely broken, but not badly. Nonetheless, we thought we better take him to urgent care. After an x-ray, a splint, and a 5 minute visit with a doctor who told us to go to an orthopedist on Monday (all of which took about an hour), we headed out. A few weeks later I got multiple bills totaling $2,200-$2,500 from the urgent care facility and associated providers. I think I learned a lesson, but not really a good one.

  31. Jason Boxman

    So Britain has finally adopted the Trump approach, just don’t test:

    On Friday, two of the country’s routine virus surveys were shut down and a third was scaled back, baffling Dr. Fraser and many other researchers, particularly when those surveys now show that Britain’s Covid infection rates are estimated to have reached a record high: one in 13 people. The government also stopped paying for free tests, and either canceled or paused contact-tracing apps and sewage sampling programs.

    That’s horrifying.

    This is the most dangerous phase of the Pandemic yet. The elite have decided that it is over. So there is little choice but to conclude that every situation is the most dangerous it has ever been, absent any data to confirm either way. Long-COVID is no joke.

  32. Anthony G Stegman

    I have been re-acquainting myself with the history of the SS-Einsatzgruppen activities in WWII. Ukrainian nationalists participated in the killings of tens of thousands (perhaps hundreds of thousands) of Jews and Gypsies, along with Russian POWs. It is reasonable to assume that the descendants of many of these killers continue to live in Ukraine and are very eager to commit atrocities of their own against Russian-speaking peoples. World War II ended officially more than 75 years ago, but Nazis, neo-Nazis, and their sympathizers remain throughout Europe and elsewhere.

    1. Waffen Buffet

      Many of the Banderite’s descendants live in the US (Blinken, Nuland, Albright etc) and also Canada, where they celebrate the SS with memorials and parades.

      The Gallician elite had all their property nationalized by the Soviets, so they fled to the new world. They have a big chip on their shoulder, and dream of getting it all back, like the Cubans in Miami.

      1. Polar Socialist

        The Soviet officials hunted the worst collaborators in to the late 50’s. I believe the last trials were in the 60’s.

        As the Red Army liberated areas and the old administration returned, with them came the investigators who interviewed pretty much every survivor to figure out what had happened during the occupation. In the archives there’s tome after tome of testimonies about the atrocities committed by occupiers and locals alike. By an odd coincidence, Russia has started recently to publish these documents online.

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        If Blinken and Nuland are Jewish-descended, then they are not Galician-Banderite-descended, because the Galician-Banderites were not Jews.

        So which is it? Are Blinken and Nuland UkraJewish? Or are they UkraGalician?

        1. Yves Smith

          I don’t know about Blinken, but Nuland’s grandfather was a Jewish tailor who fled an area near the Black Sea as the result of a pogrom. Grandfather never adjusted, was horribly abusive to her father (who became a professor of medicine at Yale) that he became so deeply depressed that he could not work and was institutionalized for a year when Nuland was eight. They considered giving him a lobotomy (!!!!) but settled on mere electroshock instead. The depth of the grandfather’s abuse is mentioned in one of the prof’s books. He described as if his soul was being flayed. So that is the root of her Russia hatred.

          But Nuland allegedly has a personal relationship with Dmytro Yarosh, the head of the Banderite/Nazi Right Sector. This article does not establish that but does show how closely the US, including Nuland in particular, has been working with the Banderites:–but-its-a-long-story/

    1. Daryl

      Well, whether it works or doesn’t, they continue to surprise. Clear the west has no visibility into what they’re doing.

      Just to amuse myself, I went onto Google News (yes) and searched for “russia gold” to see if anyone had the drop on this. There were no articles leaking this particular move, but I did find one entitled “Russia has a $140 billion gold stash that no one wants.”

  33. drumlin woodchuckles

    About ” environmentalists will prevent hydro-quebec power from reaching NYC” . . . if this electricity is supposed to help NYC, then the people of NYC should be the sole and only payers of the higher electric rates the hookup will impose.

    Extorting more ratepayer money from the poverty-locked people of upper New York State to pay for the new electricity into New York City is Class Injustice against Upper New York State. I see no reason for Upper New York State to submit to that. If New York City wants Upper New York State’s support, let New York City be the sole and only payer of the higher rates. If New York City feels it is too good to pay its own electro-hookup costs, then let the plan be killed and let New York City disappear under the sea rather than force Upper New York State to disappear under a new wave of rate-increase poverty. Let New York City eat its own “justice”.

  34. Jason Boxman

    So liberal Democrat email groups are truly, truly insidious. I’ve been getting plenty of emails from liberal Democrat fun raising con outfits, out of the blue. But this is amazing, devious, industrious, and unsurprising.

    I’ve an email account I haven’t logged into for a decade. I only used it for a few things, but it is associated with a domain name registration, and so is publicly available, along with the physical mailing address I used at the time. Now, the only relationship between this address and me is my full name and that address.

    So I logged into that account just now, and to my shock, I’ve been getting fundraising emails from Nancy Pelosi! For years.

    No, I’m serious.

    It is mind blowing how insidious these fund raising out fits are. They matched up an abandoned email address that was only used for a handful of business contacts and vendors, and has been idle for over 12 years, with me, to spam fund raising emails with URGENT requests to me, to try to rob me. Nice.

    What a rotten party.

  35. Soredemos

    So the latest propaganda claim is that Russia massacred a bunch of civilians in a town outside Kiev as they were leaving for…some reason (I guess Russians just don’t consume food like real humans and just run on pure bloodlust /s).

    A bunch of skeptics are immediately jumping to saying it’s all staged, which is possible. But I think the bodies are actually real. But they weren’t killed by Russians. Most of them seem to have white armbands, which is something people were putting on to display their support for Russia. I’m inclined to think the Ukrainian thugs that masquerade as a military exacted some retribution and then claimed Russia did it.

  36. Michael Ismoe

    I see that the polls in Europe are just as good as they are in America

    Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s party was tied with the opposition in a poll published a day before Hungary’s election, raising the possibility that the race will be even tighter than previously predicted.

    With around 91% of votes tallied, Orban’s Fidesz-led coalition had won 53%, while a pro-European opposition coalition, United for Hungary, had just over 34%, according to the National Election Office.

    But those polls showing how Americans want a “no fly zone” in Ukraine. They are true. I promise.

    1. RobertC

      Looking at the European Union map in the current context of the Ukraine-Russia conflict, it is apparent today’s election of the Hungarian president is more important than the election of any French president. How Hungary’s Path Leads to China’s Belt and Road Hungary’s various identities are all pointing in one direction: toward Beijing

      — China as a Natural Partner for Hungary: The Political Argument
      — China as a Natural Partner for Hungary: The Economic Argument

      “New” Europe sees Russia’s Eastward turn more clearly than “Old” Europe.

  37. The Rev Kev

    How about a good news tweet for a change-

    ‘Marc B.
    Went to Wholefoods with my wife. I had on a t-shirt that said “Unionize Today!” Guy at the checkout said “nice shirt.” $150 of food rang up to about $26. I said “Did you get..” He cut me off. “I got everything, brother. You’re good to go.” ‘

  38. The Rev Kev

    Something is going on in Germany that does not fit the narrative-

    ‘The Eurasianist ☦️
    Rally in support of #Russia on the roads of Berlin. Thousands of cars came out to support the Russian Federation, the flags of Russia, USSR and the Airborne Forces been displayed.
    (with 2:11 min video)

    1. ChrisRUEcon

      Saw this on Twitter as well. Looked like a good few Serbian flags in the video, so I think it was probably a Serb thing. Nevertheless, it’s the kind of stuff that would never make MSM here.

  39. RobertC

    Not So-New-Cold-War

    Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was feeling his Wheaties Kremlin warns West: rouble-for-gas scheme is the ‘prototype’

    Peskov said that the West’s decision to freeze $300 billion of the central bank’s reserves was a “robbery” that would have already accelerated a move away from reliance on the U.S. dollar and the euro as global reserve currencies.

    The Kremlin, he said, wanted a new system to replace the contours of the Bretton Woods financial architecture established by the Western powers in 1944.

    “It is obvious that – even if this is currently a distant prospect – that we will come to a some new system – different from the Bretton Woods system,” Peskov said.

  40. lance ringquist

    thanks for the greenwald link. my sister sent it to me yesterday saying it sounded like me, but i did not get to it tonight.

    thank you Mr. Greenwald, you article made my day. i have been at it since 1993 and i will not give it up.

    we must link the smiley faces to the disastrous fascist policies.

    most importantly of all: continue to criticize powerful elites with gusto and freedom.

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