Links 5/17/2022

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

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


P.S. Also, before further stressing our already stressed moderators, read our site policies:

Please do not write us to ask why a comment has not appeared. We do not have the bandwidth to investigate and reply. Using the comments section to complain about moderation decisions/tripwires earns that commenter troll points. Please don’t do it. Those comments will also be removed if we encounter them.

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Crocodile Dad Gives Over 100 Babies a Ride on His Back PetaPixel (David L)

‘Doorway’ on Mars: NASA Curiosity Rover Finds Something ODD in the Red Planet TechTimes (David L)

Iraq sandstorm: Red skies as Iraq hit by eighth sandstorm in weeks BBC (resilc)

Saab’s latest weapon is like a high-tech bazooka Popular Science. Resilc: “On on to NATO.”

AI ethics groups are repeating one of society’s classic mistakes MIT Technology Review (David L)

Brazil’s public health workers race to tackle dengue surge The World (guurst)

UK monkeypox alert as health chiefs detect another FOUR cases of killer virus with NO links to Africa — as gay and bisexual men are urged to look out for ‘unusual rash’ Daily Mail. IM Doc:

There is apparently no clue the transmission line in the UK. This virus has a fatality rate of 10%. Only supposed to be mildly to moderately contagious.

Scientist GM’s reply:

Yeah, that means community spread. Not good, but then there haven’t been rampant out of control epidemics of it in Africa, so probably won’t cause the apocalypse it would have if it was a bit more contagious.

Although there is a wrinkle here, which is that smallpox vaccination works against this too, and over time smallpox immunity has been diluting more and more as vaccination against it stopped in the 1970s. So we might end up with the monkeypox adapting better to H2H spread, the boomer generation dying out, and then we’ll have a big problem

The changing epidemiology of human monkeypox—A potential threat? A systematic review PLOS (GM)

Switzerland changes organ donation rules RT. Kevin W: “Never thought about it before in this context but could some of those organs host C-19 virus?”

Heightened dream recall ability linked to increased creativity and functional brain connectivity PsyPost (David L)



How Often Can You Be Infected With the Coronavirus? New York Times (David L)

Your Case of Omicron Might Have Super-Boosted Your Immunity—If You Were Vaccinated Gizmodo (Kevin W). Since these two preprints being getting hyped, we asked scientist GM to weigh in:

That’s as usual twisted and spun into something way more optimistic than the data actually shows.

In unvaccinated subjects Omicron immunity is very poor, weak and short lasting.

So how is it that in the vaccinated it gives you this proclaimed tremendous boost? Well, it actually doesn’t, the trick here is that there is usually no comparison made, they just look at the antibodies, show an increase from the high baseline in the boosted, ignore ongoing antigenic drift, and declare victory.

But then in real life you see people with three vaccine shots and a prior infection, sometimes two, one of them Omicron, still getting BA.2.

>The findings could also indicate that an updated booster, perhaps specific to Omicron, will be more effective at ensuring longer-term immunity moving forward.

That is the exact same hopium that was being peddled a year ago and we know how that turned out

Nasal Sprays for COVID Vaccine Being Developed WebMD. Lambert notes:

Bharat (India) seems hung up and I don’t understand why:

The trials seem to be taking forever: <-- booster and primary, fortunately And I wonder if it's hung up -- or more precisely, been hung up -- in the regulatory process


China’s struggles delight some – but should make us all nervous Guardian. Yes, narcissists can’t have someone else outshine them.

While Ukraine Dominates the News, North Korea Could Become the Next Great Crisis (resilc)


How Australia Saved Thousands of Lives While Covid Killed a Million Americans New York Times (resilc)

The COVID Testing Company That Missed 96% of Cases ProPublica (David L)


A Sunscreen Ingredient Becomes Toxic in the Sea. Maybe the Anemones Know Why. The Wire (J-LS)

Cat Litter Could Be Antidote for Climate Change, Researchers Say Wall Street Journal (David L)


China’s economic risks ‘tilted to downside’, coronavirus-induced contraction ‘most severe’ since 2020 outbreak South China Morning Post


Wheat stocks in India may fall to their lowest level since ’16-17 Hindustan Times (J-LS)

Sri Lanka Down to Last Day of Petrol, PM Tells Crisis-Hit Nation The Wire (J-LS)

Euro zone trade plunges into record deficit in March on energy Reuters

Old Blighty

Operation Surprise: leaked emails expose secret intelligence coup to install Boris Johnson Grayzone (Nikkikat)

Priti Patel accused of ‘power grab’ over new policing proposals Guardian (Kevin W)

TV5 interview with former French PM and diplomat Dominique de Villepin YouTube. Colonel Smithers:

This interview from Sunday afternoon may be of interest to French speaking readers. Villepin’s views are realist and a continuation of what he expressed as foreign minister at the UN in the run up to the Iraq war. Get a coffee as Susan counsels.

New Not-So-Cold War

Ukrainian troops evacuate from Mariupol, ceding control to Russia Reuters. Very nice photo series at the top. But there have been no journos in Mariupol or Donbass save Patrick Lancaster forevah! Who told the Reuters team to show up? Also note 264 released v. at least 101 civilians before. Up to 2000 had been rumored to be in there….

Despite Ukrainian Claims, Russian Navy Support Ship Appears Unharmed Maritime Executive. Lambert: “Shocked, shocked!”

Putin, game master? Jacques Baud, YouTube. Important. One teeny addition: The breakaway republics did not have official standing in the Minsk negotiations. They were observers. However they did sign the pact, presumably to signal to their constituents that they were on board.

Life in the village Gilbert Doctorow. “Life is good.”

Western banks explore asset swaps as a way of exiting Russia Financial Times (Kevin W)

EU Gives Companies Green Light to Keep Buying Russian Gas Bloomberg (guurst). Many utilities had already signed up for the rouble payment mechanism with Gazprom, so the EU is trying to get in front of a mob and pretend it’s a parade.

EU fails to finalise embargo on Russian oil imports as Hungary vetoes proposal Irish Times and €15-18 billion – Hungary names price for russian energy embargo LB.Ua

U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve drops to lowest level since 1987 Reuters. Notice much more sour crude released in last month than sweet.


Israeli police attack on Shireen Abu Akleh mourners sparks outcry Al Jazeera. Resilc: “Although the US stopped short of explicitly condemning Israel for the violence. Green light to kill US citizens.”

Imperial Collapse Watch

Washington Needs to Play Better with Others: Relearning the Art of Diplomacy AIER (resilc)

Texans told to conserve energy as six power plants go offline amid heatwave Independent (resilc). Every time I’ve been to Texas, the locals seem to think the proper indoor temperature is 66 degrees.


FDA announces it will make it easier to import some baby formulas to ease shortage CNN (Kevin W)

FDA Eases Baby-Formula Import Rules to Boost Supplies Wall Street Journal

Karine Jean-Pierre is first ‘black, gay, immigrant woman’ to be press secretary Daily Mail (J-LS)

The People Who Promised Roe Was Safe Are Already Selling Their Next Bridge Slate. I can’t take this whining. The whiners are almost without exception women in blue cities who face no personal risk of not getting an abortion. Pray tell, what are they doing to help the women they pretend to be so worried about…mainly working women in red states…who effectively had no access to abortion due to lack of funding and mandatory 24 or 48 hour cooling off periods? More concretely, what are they about to do about the statute criminalizing helping women in Missouri get abortions? How about setting up phone banks in Canada, where the Missouri law does not reach, fer Chrissakes? All pearl-clutching, not one iota of help for the women they profess to be so worried about.

How ‘Just a Dude’ in Shorts Became a Senate Front-Runner New York Times (resilc)

GOP blame game erupts in Pennsylvania governor’s race Politico (Kevin W)

Kagan Pens Scathing Dissent as Supreme Court Kills Another Campaign Finance Rule CommonDreams (furzy)

Supply Chain/Inflation

Surging natural gas prices squeeze U.S. industrial sector Reuters (Kevin W)

Absolute record for the price of wheat in the European market – At 438.25 euros per ton CyprusMedia

German manufacturing backlog higher than ever, survey shows Reuters

Reader sighting, from resilc:

Granted we are in SW Vermont, but only 40 miles as the crow flies to Albany. Needed a refrigerator, the old one died. Not looking for high tech, wifi connected, etc etc., just a decent basic box. Not easy. supply not there. Little to choose from. Supply chain not getting better on lots of stuff. While at Home Depot buying the reefer, I wanted wood screws for the metal roof on the small barn/shed I’m building. Nada…….

I cannot immagine building a large project these days. Chasing labor, adjusting budgets by the hour, chasing material……

Boeing needs to get its ‘s*** together,’ Ryanair CEO says CNN (Kevin W)

Musk Says Twitter Deal Can’t Proceed Without More Clarity on Fake Accounts Wall Street Journal

The iPod is dead, but the podcast lives on The Verge (Kevin W). Speak for yourself. I have an iPod that I use. And so old no GPS!

Self-Driving’ Level 2 Autonomy Systems Still Pretty Crappy: AAA Study Jalopnik (Kevin W)

Crypto is weathering a bitter storm. Some still hold on for dear life. MIT Technology Review (David L)

Central Bank of India: Cryptocurrency threatens to “dollarize” the economy TASS via Found this by accident. There are stories in the English language press, but not many, such as:

Cryptocurrencies can lead to ‘dollarisation’ of economy, against sovereign interest: RBI officials India Today

Bitcoin has no future as a payments network, says FTX chief Financial Times (David L). Um, we and many others said this a long time ago. Total coin issuance cap + very slow transaction time + very high energy cost, which only keeps rising.

Class Warfare

Americans have bet $125bn on sports in four years since legalization Guardian (resilc)

Antidote du jour (Robert H):

And a bonus. Yours truly has a soft spot for cross species friendships:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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    1. upstater

      Cat litter has other uses. It was the antidote to coax the woodchucks to find new residences further away from my vegetable garden. It was with mixed emotions I dumped shovelfuls into their homes. After all, I wouldn’t want a dump truck load dumped in my house either! Anyway, they moved down the hill and enjoy wild foods now.

      If we could only use the same methods to relocate oligarchs to Mars…

      1. nycTerrierist

        Indeed re: the oligarchs…

        wondering would this deter or attract local stray kitties?

        as a TNR caretaker, always interested in ways to be a good neighbor

      2. Jacob Hatch

        In Swift’s Gullivers Travels, the hero visits Luggnagg, where he encounters the struldbrugs, people who are immortal. They do not have the gift of eternal youth, but suffer the infirmities of old age and are considered legally dead at the age of eighty.

        The point of legal death at 80 in the story is to keep capital from accumulating in the hands of incompetents. If such a rule could be struck now, I suspect blood transfusions and other boondoggles to grant longer/eternal life would dry up, as would the desire to rule earth from Mars. Piketty’s Capital before Piketty.

        1. GramSci

          Just implement a maximum wage at ten times the minimum wage, as FDR proposed. Of course he failed to tax unearned income at parity, and now we also have the step-up rule, but let’s keep our eyes on the prize!

          1. Jacob Hatch

            Surely you meant income, not wage. Jeff hasn’t had an honest days work for a wage in decades.

      3. FreeMarketApologist

        Did you use fresh (unused) cat litter, or one that cats had used? I’ve got a groundhog problem that I’m trying to solve and this sounds like a good option. (though I don’t have a cat).

        1. cnchal

          Then there is scented or unscented and clumping and non clumping. So many choices.

          My guess is upstater used non scented clumping.

        2. upstater

          Freshly used clumping litter, loaded with goodies. Once again it was dispensed with apologies to my neighbors.

  1. Louis Fyne

    Re. Resilc’s refrigerators

    Menard’s (Midwestern hardware Mega-Lo Mart) delivers refrigerators nationwide for $139, installation = $75. currently there is a 11% rebate on everything bought from them. Might wanna try if you have no other alternative.

    Presumably they use the same/similar installation subcontractors as Home Depot from the same/similar manufacturer warehouses that Home Depot uses.

    1. troutcreek

      The 11% “rebate” is basically a coupon only to be used at Menards for future purchases.

      1. lance ringquist

        yes, but just about every time i get one, i use it for food and packaging materials. i am mailing in three right now.

    2. CostcoPizza

      Menards also refuses to hire employees who have been a part of a union in a previous job, just an FYI.

      1. tegnost

        seems kind of dramatic over there…

        The letter cited two “independent” valuations of the MH Private Equity investments, which valued them at $78 million to $125 million, using a “mark-to-market” method of analysis.

        Those valuations were a far cry from the most recent estimate Hilbert had given Menard, in March 2011, which claimed the MH Private Equity companies were worth $380 million to $484 million.

        Hilbert had agreed to a change in how his management fees were calculated in 2008, but this time he said no. He reminded Menard that the MH Private Equity operating agreement required Hilbert’s management fees to be calculated on the purchase price of the companies, not on their current value.

        Silly Menard…we do mark to model nowadays in cantloseistan, mark to market is way too risky, sorry, value is what we say it is yadayada

        a little dated…I just noticed it’s from 2013

      2. lance ringquist

        yep, bad stuff, but you will find that every where in nafta billy clintons new golden era!

      3. Louis Fyne

        No Mega-Lo Mart is clean, even Costco in OP’s neck of the woods.

        OP can take his savings and donate it to a charity of their choice.

        Hard to find a basic refrigerator at reasonable prices.

        Like nearly everything else, an oligopoly (Whirlpool, LG, Haier-GE, Samsung) controls the bulk of the market. And those 4 have given priority to building higher-end models ($2,000+) ever since the Covid scarcity started.

    3. Katiebird

      Resilc Refrigerators…. We have Habitat for Humanity ReStores here and they often get donated appliances including refrigerators. If there is a ReStore in the area, I’d check that. Also used appliance stores.

  2. The Rev Kev

    “Ukrainian troops evacuate from Mariupol, ceding control to Russia”

    I came across this guy’s comment elsewhere, but cannot verify it as I don’t know Russian, but he said that two days ago that a patrol of the “Vostok” battalion found a small hidden tunnel which was used by Azov to get access to the Kalmius river and water. The tunnel was shut down so if this was true, this would explain this surrender. No water would mean no hope as you only last very few days without water.

    Meanwhile on the TV news here in Oz they were talking about the heroic defenders who had ‘won the hearts of the world’ and yes, the news presenter actually said that. I found that example of white (supremacist) washing absolutely amazing. But then again, western media refuses to recognize the Donbass or Luhansk forces as such but refers to them as pro-Russian military like in this article. Don’t recall the media referring to the old Afghan army as the pro-American military in all the years that they were fighting.

    1. RobertC

      What I didn’t read in the Reuters article was participation of the UN or Red Cross in the evacuation. Yes those two organizations were cited towards the end but no linkage to the surrender, care of wounded in town of Novoazovsk, etc. If there was no participation those two organizations need to think through their relevance and their values: are they modestly and helpfully neutral or are they pursuing an agenda?

      1. tegnost

        Just guessing, but since possession is 9/10’s of the law it may be that UN/Red Cross tried to get possession of the remaining soldiers so they could be international prisoners or some such thing and the russians said Um. No… they’re POW’s so UN/Red Cross only gets vetted civilians. Also, the water access tunnel just found brings into question how leaky the siege has been, high value individuals could have been snuck out…we’ll never know. We’re not getting the whole picture from anywhere. I have to admit, I didn’t see calling surrender a victory coming…

      2. Darthbobber

        I don’t recall that its ver ben the norm to have the red cross involved in the process of soldiers surrendering. And indeed, how could it be, given all the varying circumstances in which soldiers surrender or are captured. Russia has been cooperating with the Red Cross, so I imagine the (fairly minimal) red cross visits to the defined POW sites are ongoing. The Red Cross is unusual among NGOs in preferring to keep its activities as quiet as possible.

      3. RobertC

        I agree with tegnost that Russia wanted to ensure the evacuees were filtered appropriately while the UN especially and the Red Cross perhaps wanted to lump them all into a single innocent-until-proven-guilty category. This is a critical issue for the Russians and the new republics. I suspect the UN and Red Cross weren’t willing to operate under those restrictions which favored rule-of-law over Ukrainian fashionableness.

        WRT UN participation in surrender, I believe Secretary-General Guterres pressed Putin on this but again was not willing to operate under Russian restrictions. And I believe the Red Cross would have been participating in the care of the wounded beginning with their transport to Novoazovsk except their Western benefactors suggested otherwise for optics reasons as part of the unrelenting effort to demonize the Russians.

    2. Lambert Strether

      > a small hidden tunnel which was used by Azov to get access to the Kalmius river and water.

      A way for those NATO generals to make their way out?

      (If I were the Russians, I wouldn’t undo the cordon sanitaire round the steelworks just yet. Maybe the top dogs were kept well fed, eh?)

    3. Gregorio

      I’m sure that western media wouldn’t be calling it an “evacuation” if the Ukrainians were taking Russians into custody.

  3. Wukchumni

    Gooooood Mooooooorning Fiatnam!

    Nobody in the Unit relished the thought that someday cryptocurrencies wouldn’t be there all of the sudden, whose got our back now?… all the grunts were thinking.

    When you’re in a F.I.R.E fight, sure Visa would work for almost everything, and Amex is nearly as handy, but the outfit we procure blue & red pills from online only deals in the numismatrix.

    One fellow in the company-Jones, had put everything into Luna and that was that. I wrote a dear John letter to his imaginary broker.

    1. Geo

      Speaking of the crypto crash: A few weeks ago my film (about vampires running amok in Vegas – a not so subtle metaphor for predatory capitalism) started doing daily screenings at a “theater” in Decentraland. I like to think my film played a small role in crashing the crypto/NFT market. Probably not, but I’m going to pretend like it did because that idea makes me happy. :)

      1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

        Congrats, Geo!!!

        What’s the name if you don’t mind me asking???

        Would like to see it!!!

        In other news, there’s a new Evil Dead game!!!

      2. The Rev Kev

        There is a great black comedy film waiting to be made around a group of people trying to re-introduce slavery but using the same hype and techniques that were used for Crypto/NFT. Wall Street would back it, our intellectual elite would justify it, our celebrities would say how great they are and corporations would be buying them up wholesale for leasing them out to corporations.

        1. Geo


          Funny enough, I actually wrote a script with that premise. They’re called “Ubies” (a play on UBI) and they are people without proper jobs who are traded around by the upper class for grunt work and menial jobs.

          Will see if I can ever get the film made though! Getting anything made is hard. Getting a story made that harshly critiques our oligarchs and corrupt financial system is much harder! :)

  4. Stick'em

    re: Americans have bet $125bn on sports in four years since legalization

    “Four years ago, sports bettors had few options, including predicting the outcome of a game or player performance before the event started. Since then, the array of potential bets, or “markets”, has exploded, due in large part to a surge in in-game betting, where gamblers can react to events as a game unfolds and bet accordingly. It has become the fastest-growing segment of a fast-growing industry.”

    ^There it is. Was wondering how the terminology would be employed to magically transform a formerly seedy gambling house of iniquity into a neoliberal paradise through the divine providence of the invisible hand of God.

    1. Wukchumni

      ‘I lost everything betting on a double play to end the inning…’

      I’m the worst, one of those ex-gamblers who saw the light balance in my savings account eons ago and decided to stop doing it, so i’m more critical than most, but the explosion in gambling during my lifetime has been utterly ridiculous, and quite ruinous. It has gotten out of hand.

      I mentioned yesterday how MLB sold it’s soul outside the foul lines to interests that can only come back to haunt them in gambling & cryptocurrency, and imagine the repercussions from being part in parcel (the umpires wear a couple of FTX advert badges on their uniforms fer crissake!) with the biggest scam of its kind since the Darien Scheme, Mississippi Bubble or South Sea Bubble.

      The game was already way too slow for amped up-must have action-all the time on demand youngsters, painfully low on violence aside from the odd bench clearing brawl where if you’re unlucky you might get a few noogies on your head from a featherweight punch by a utility player.

      Here’s a film to make, MLB realizes there isn’t enough violence in baseball, so you insert some. Think Slapshot meets Chavez Ravine.

      1. Stick'em

        I’ve had a bunch of vices during my lifetime. Fortunately gambling isn’t one of ’em. I realized once a casino magnet like Donald Trump got elected, this behavior was going to be normalized. Like every instance of managed chaos, no doubt the oligarchs view all of this as just another “opportunity” to suck up and kick down. Better to legalize it all and make bank because “markets” says so.

        Been awhile since I watched a baseball game. There’s still a giant cardboard box full of baseball cards in the closet from days of youth. Here’s my favorite baseball can of asswhoopin’ opened:

        Can’t you just hear Ole Man Nolan yell, “Get off my lawn!” If you look closely, you’ll see Bo Jackson is on the Sox. He’d clean the clock of any man there in a real fight.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Supposedly, Ryan will drop whatever he is doing and autograph a picture of the event for free even though he doesn’t do autographs for free otherwise.

        2. Wukchumni

          Back in the day in the late 80’s and early 90’s, the market was hopping in Nippon for numismatics and a fellow coin dealer from back east probably visited Japan 4-5x a year to sell his wares pushing metal, and one time he told me he took in a Giants game in Tokyo, and Japanese teams always had a limited amount of American players, and this one contest a black American player got beaned in the first and 3rd inning and by the 3rd time in the 6th, he charged the mound, with the Japanese pitcher running out towards left field with the batter in hot pursuit and then the pitcher ran across the warning track to right field until finally tackled by the batter, think Keystone Kops.

          I have this visual of it in my mind…

          1. Stick'em

            Speaking of having a visual in mind, remember Morganna, mistress of the park?


            Baseball needs not only more WWF wrasslin’ hockey fight moments to deliver the Keystone Kops spectacle ‘Mericans have grown to expect in their sporting events. It also needs a revival of the cheap T&A thrills to compete with the Laker girls and Cowboy cheerleaders. Even our local hockey team has Storm Squad cheerleaders shooting T-shirts from a bazooka into the crowd and a Stormy the Pig mascot.

            The decline of baseball is not only directly correlated to Pete Rose’s gambling problem. It’s a kids game at heart, which means you gotta keep the young male demographic engaged with the San Diego Chicken. Need to raise the next generation of Gambler’s Anonymous meeting attendees, amIrite?

    2. Craig H.

      The market should be getting big to the point that some enterprising PhD student should be able to get a bunch of numbers to analyze:

      how much of the money is regular people entertaining themselves;
      how much of the money is gambling addicts wrecking their (& any financial dependents’) lives?

      I am guessing it is over 50% but fairly close. Those prop bets are ostensibly kind of stupid and in-game betting has got to be way over 50%.

    3. NotTimothyGeithner

      But something about tax revenues gained from not having gambling be a criminal activity with the money given to the police!!!

      1. GM

        Gambling is really another form of private taxation, as are most things in the economy these days.

        The way to make money is to set up some tollbooth somewhere in the economy and start collecting the rent.

        Gambling also is like that because there are guaranteed profits there, as long as you can trick enough suckers to play.

        However, casinos are limited in that people have to go there physically.

        Sports betting and various lotteries, on the other hand, are not limited in that way. Thus the explosion in recent years. It isn’t just in the US, it’s a worldwide phenomenon, if anything the US is a couple decades behind. I actually don’t have an explanation why it was restricted for so long, it is such an obvious way to regularly fleece the herd that one would think it would have been one of the things to happen early in the process of neoliberalizaiton.

        1. Katniss Everdeen

          To your point: Take a look at the videos of the grocery store shooting in Buffalo on the “news.” The front of the store has four signs in the big front windows. Do they say “Bananas–68 cents a pound” or “Chicken Breasts–$2.99 a pound?”


          They’re all for some kind of lottery.

        2. Basil Pesto

          it’s always been a curious anomaly that sports betting was banned in most of US, like some stubborn old regulation that wasn’t allowed to die.

          It was heavily deregulated in UK relatively recently – maybe 10-15 years ago I think? – and in Australia as well, so sports gambling ads are ubiquitous during all sporting broadcasts. Which is very tedious. But more than that, as far as the Premier League goes anyway, it’s become increasingly, er, shonky (I sent this link in last year, not sure if it was published. Josimar does some good reporting on football gambling industry)

    4. curlydan

      Let’s not forget the impact of ESPN with segments like “Bad Beats”, talk of the spread, analytics on making the playoffs, etc. The power-balded one, Scott Van Pelt, is the worst of the lot when it comes to pimping gambling.

      They won’t tell you about Coach Bill Self’s fixers in sitting in jail while KU is winning the basketball national championship, but they’ll sure let you know about the point spread and the money you could have won (or lost) had you bet on some crazy game.

    5. Leroy R

      The staggering number of empty seats seen at most baseball games so far this season (good crowds for Dodgers or Yankees at the sunny weekend day games, though) would indicate that the owners had to do something to take up the slack, and boy does having half your paycheck riding on the game make you pay attention. Does the billionaire boyz club see the writing on the wall?

      1. Stick'em

        Ufortunately, baseball needs to get with the program and embrace the spectacle to compete with the NFL. Here Jerry Jones says the quiet part out loud:

        “The foibles, the soap opera, the issues. They create interest. We always got something going. People follow us year ‘round. The owner every now and then gets in the paper. It just adds to the interest, all of it. People love that.”

        What Jerry Jones does is the same thing Donald Trump does. To compete with the short attention span theater of the current social media internet environment, you amplify the noise rather than run from it. There is no bad publicity when the greatest attention whore wins. Baseball gotta stop pretending and “keep it real” to survive now.

        Personally, I love the NFL days of my youth when the safety used to hit the receiver like dropping an 80# of concrete on him from a two story height. But that’s gone now. The integrity of the game is long sold out in favor of pimping the Tony Romo-bot QB to the female audience.

        So what you get are paternity suits on 75-year-old owners and Michael Irvin smoking crack in a White House across the street from the practice field with a pair of strippers and a donkey. That’s how the NFL and the Dallas Cowboys dominate the sports market. As Jer-rah says, “We got a retractable roof on the stadium so God can watch his favorite team play.”

        Everybody knows NFL players like Tom Brady are doing growth hormone. So what as long as they don’t cheat, umm, wait a minute.

  5. digi_owl

    I have absolutely no idea what that ambulance tweet is supposed to be about.

    And i do wonder how long those LNG tankers can sit around before they are losing money.

    1. The Rev Kev

      If I am reading those tweets right, it sounds like that because of a shortage of beds and medical staff, that when patients rock up to a hospital that they have to wait in those ambulances in the same way that too many planes flying into an airport are left flying in a holding pattern. So those ambulance people spend their shifts just sitting in their ambulances parked in front of their hospitals just waiting.

      1. Shleep

        Pretty sure this is the correct interpretation. Since early 2021 IIRC, UK press has been reporting long lineups of ambulances outside hospitals overwhelmed by Covid patients at every surge in cases, and more recently due to staff shortages.

        The picture of the parking lot full of ambulances – presumably from the phone of the poster – with lights on to me suggests they’re running, and that the poster’s vehicle is last in a long lineup.

      1. super extra

        quoted from the link:

        A huge extortion cyberattack hit dozens of nations Friday, holding computer data for ransom at hospitals, telecommunications firms and other companies. The attack appeared to exploit a vulnerability purportedly identified for use by the U.S. National Security Agency and later leaked on the internet.

        The attack hit Britain’s health service, forcing affected hospitals to close wards and emergency rooms. Related attacks were reported in Spain, Portugal and Russia. Two security firms — Kaspersky Lab and Avast — said they had identified the malware behind the attack in upward of 70 countries, although both said the attack has hit Russia hardest.

        Two points:

        – I am a computer engineer and I think the digitization of everything (“software will eat the world”) has gone too far and this is an excellent example. Will anyone in charge of these places step back to consider exactly what is being improved or enabled by these systems and connecting these systems to public networks? No, because enough people in positions of power don’t understand what these systems do or why they’re necessessary and they have multi-year contracts for their use and support. Nothing fundamental will change.
        – Cybersecurity firms with known political positions swooping in to inform us The Enemy has been hit the hardest make me wonder how much of these attacks are coordinated by the NSA and if people die, well, all’s fair in war and cyberspace is now war according to the brain geniuses in charge. Pretty cool how I, a person who may need to rely on a hospital, have no say in whether the hospital will open itself to these attacks by using the software everyone hates!

        1. cnchal

          > (“software will eat the world”)

          No it won’t. It will boil the world. Right now we are in the collect it all phase, having set off a digital crapola doom loop, requiring an exponentially increasing supply of power sucking data centers to collect and store all the zeros and ones made at an ever accelerating rate.

        2. flora

          Thanks for this comment. I agree with both points. These lines stand out.

          Will anyone in charge of these places step back to consider exactly what is being improved or enabled by these systems and connecting these systems to public networks? No, because enough people in positions of power don’t understand what these systems do or why they’re necessary and they have multi-year contracts for their use and support.

        3. playon

          The fact that it hit Russia the hardest makes me wonder about the source of the exploit.

          1. digi_owl

            The attack appeared to exploit a vulnerability purportedly identified for use by the U.S. National Security Agency and later leaked on the internet.

            Leaked my foot. This may as well be another Stuxnet. It was initially aimed at sabotaging Iranian uranium sentrifuges, but ended up affecting a number of systems using the same industrial hardware.

      2. Terry Flynn

        I worked till recently in the NHS. After Ukraine took off one afternoon we got one of those “can’t ignore” pop-ups that we needed to be extra careful and that a ransomware attack was expected soon.

  6. Polar Socialist

    There has been no western journos in Mariupol but Lancaster. Russian, Donbass and Chinese journos travel sometimes even with the troops. Some of them came under mortar fire yesterday south of Popasna.

    Here’s how Komsomolskaya Pravda (in Russian) correspondent describes the first contact with the Ukrainians in Azovstal yesterday morning. Quite readable using a machine translator. If your Internet has access to disinformation, that is.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Thanks for that. Google refused to translate it so went to DeepL Translate instead. Was just thinking earlier today about those guys. The Ukrainian government has been trying to cheat their own people by not carrying them on the books as being enlisted in the Ukrainian armed forces much less fighting on the eastern front. So I was thinking that it would be ironic if some of these defenders were eventually refused pensions as there were no records of them fighting which would reduce them to asking the Russians for a copy of their POW files upon capture at Mariupol to prove to their own government that they are entitle to a pension after all. :)

      1. Michaelmas

        Rev Kev: *The Ukrainian government has been trying to cheat their own people by not carrying them on the books as being enlisted … much less fighting on the eastern front … if some of these defenders were eventually refused pensions as there were no records of them fighting (that) would reduce them to asking the Russians for a copy of their POW files upon capture at Mariupol*

        Sounds like an all-too-likely scenario. But have you got any supporting links on the Ukes cheating on their payrolls? It would be a worthwhile item in the aftermath reporting a few months from now.

        1. The Rev Kev

          I think that it was in a Gonzales Lira video but was a coupla weeks ago now. When the Ukrainians were refusing to take back their dead recently, it was theorized that for them to do so would trigger compensation claims by their relatives after the bodies were returned for burial.

          1. Digital Echo

            I’d be wary of Lira’s claims if they are not robustly supported by secondary sources. He has a sketchy history, such as very blatantly scamming Steve Keen back in 2012. The term “grifter” is often overused but it fits Lira like a custom fitted vest.

            1. Bugs

              Wow. This and the “pick-up artist” stuff gives me real pause. That Lira guy has some trustworthiness issues.

              1. Soredemos

                Oh, he’s a clown to be sure. But he’s also on the ground in Ukraine. His input has to be considered.

            2. Yves Smith Post author

              Sorry, Keen was a fool and he first tries accusing Lira as not remitting him his share of money, then concedes Lira’s accounting was correct:

              So I suddenly realized that the site was far from profitable—given my production costs of about $2500 a month—and asked Lira to shut down yearly memberships while I decided what to do.

              Repeatedly accused someone of cheating them when you are wrong typically terminally sours a relationship. So things were set to end badly.

              You never let someone else control your URL. You always keep it in your name.

              And Keen did not give subscribers good advice. They could have cancelled with their credit cards companies (as in asked for a chargeback). Clean and easy. He could have provided a supporting e-mail and confirmed the services were not being provided.

              Keen could also have written to Visa and Mastercard to get Lira treated as a fraudulent merchant. That would have gotten all his credit card processing cut off.

              And as for scamming, I hate to have to say this but Keen loves to accuse others. He took $300,000 in a grant from INET to develop a macro model. That is a huge grant by economics standards for one person. Keen did not deliver, did not offer to return any of the money, but instead asked for another $300,000. When INET refused, he then trashed INET!

          2. Darthbobber

            Well, leaving aside Lira (which you can usually do, since other than the atmospherics of Kharkov virtually all of his analysis is cut and pasted without acknowledgement from others, the Ukrainian government did indeed forbid its commanders in the field to make any arrangements for repatriating the dead, and they also seem in the habit of leaving he seriously wounded for the Russians.

            They did also it seems decide that you need a doctor’s certificate to claim the death benefit. No bodies solves that problem as well as the bodybags/funerals problem. Its effect on the front-line troops is almost certainly negative, but they’ve been prioritizing social media over that from the beginning.

      2. Mark Gisleson

        Google translation worked on this for me. Is there a difference between Google in Australia and the States? Note, I just copy and pasted text which is cumbersome but sometimes it seems when people talk about translation issues, they’re clicking something to translate the entire page?

        Fwiw, Google Translation just assumes I’m translating Russian these days, but then when I go to another language instead of translating to English it will translate to Russian (until I reset it). I hate to think about the lists they’ve put me on….

      3. Yves Smith Post author

        I hate using Google (Yandex is better on Russian but it won’t translate entire sites) but what you need to do is use the “website” function. You then get a new window where you put in the URL for the site. You also may have to redesignate your language pair. Then you hit the blue arrow.

    2. Otis B Driftwood

      In addition to Lancaster, there have been journalists from Telesur and CGTN in Mariupol. And Max Clarke and, more recently, Graham Phillips.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Graham Phillips has been covering the war since forever. He moved to the Ukraine over a decade ago and after 2014, started covering the war from the Donbass side which made him a lot of enemies in Kiev but a lot of friends in the east like “Givi”. If you go to his YouTube channel, you will see heaps of his videos covering the war mixed with others and they go back at least eight years-

  7. Geo

    Saab’s recoilless rifle: “With an airburst, the HE 448 detonates above or near a target, letting the fragments and blast travel through the air above a group of enemies”

    Good to see our best and brightest minds are finding new and more creative ways to kill and maim as many people as possible. I do wonder though if this talent was used for, oh I don’t know, building up lives instead of ending them, if it might solve more problems than creating them?

    Just thinking outside the box. Probably too radical and ridiculous to think building up lives would ever attract such a high level of talent, or funding, since it doesn’t make anything go boom boom bang bang splat. Where’s the fun in that?

    1. digi_owl

      Airbursting is not really new as a concept. I seem to recall there were plans for a underslung grenade launcher that would use a laser range finder to set a timed fuse so that it would detonate when passing over a barrier, injuring or killing those behind it. Not sure if it went beyond the testing stages.

      And i think this is just a new use of the existing features of the SAAB weapon. I think its defining feature as an antitank weapon is that it does not fire right at the tank, but over it. And when the projectile pass overhead, it will detonate to send a shaped charge downwards. This based on the idea that a tank is usually thinly armored on top and back, while heavily armored at the front, to save on weight.

      1. Geo

        Yeah, article states the tech has been around since the 1940’s. Main new thing is it’s a “smart” weapon. Seems like the innovation is on the same level as a refrigerator that tells you when you’re low on milk or something.

        But, still annoying that this is the crap our best & brightest are spending their time innovating. Maybe the next model will also create & post a fun TikTok video as it “bursts” through a misidentified school classroom?

        1. digi_owl

          War has sadly always been a driver for innovation. In large part because it is the one thing that all politicians can agree to throw money at.

          1. The Rev Kev

            Very true that. It was said once that the four years of WW1 accelerated aircraft development by twenty years.

            1. Bruno

              Absolute general rule of human history: Every increase in the forces of production is simultaneously an equal or greater increase in the forces of destruction.

      2. Jacob Hatch

        The other issue is it’s a recoilless gun, flashback from which makes Azov style use of human shields more difficult, much less use from dug in positions. Once fired, it clearly marks the site of launch, so the supporting platoon best be a good distance away before the return comes back. Canadian “supersiper” Wali found out the hardway how using Stingers, smaller signal, can get your buddies wiped out, and nearly did him in as well. The primary target of these systems is the pocketbook/wallet.

      3. Samuel Conner

        it appears that it was terminated

        It was a clever concept; one could explode a projectile just
        past an obstacle to strike combatants sheltering behind it. I think that the capability was really attractive for urban combat against less than peer adversaries, for example for getting shooters firing from windows in masonry walls.

        Smart ammunition … what did Lambert say about anything labelled ‘smart’?

    2. Wukchumni

      I remember when Saabs were a car nonconformists drove, with that cool looking P1800, which was born the same year as me.

      1. digi_owl

        SAAB was formed to make aircrafts for the Swedish military. They started making cars in order to keep the company going between aircraft generations.

        1. Josef K

          I’ve never owned a SAAB, but I’ve heard them called “Slobs” because they’re not reliable. I guess SAAB’s R&D money goes mostly towards transporting people to the afterlife rather than around town.

          (I meant to put this after JohnA’s comment below)

      2. JohnA

        SAAB as a name means Swedish Aeroplane Limited Company. The cars were always quirky and did well in rally driving, which is big in the Nordic countries. Renowned for front wheel drive. Sadly, GM acquired the car side which was a bad marriage and the company went bankrupt. Prior to that local buyers of the two Swedish car brands, Volvo and Saab, were very loyal. Ie you were either a Volvo or a Saab owner, never switching between the two. This was one of the traits of the hero of the comedy book ‘A man called Ove’ by Fredrick Backmann, (also a successful film) where Ove was a fiercely loyal Saab driver, who was very disdainful of Volvo drivers.

  8. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Baby formula

    Courtesy of The Automatic Earth. The first several ingredients in abbot labs’ product:

    42.6% Corn syrup solids
    14.7% Soy protein isolate
    11.5% High oleic safflower oil
    10.1% Sugar (Sucrose)
    8.4% Soy oil
    7.8% Coconut Oil

    Keeping in mind that pretty much 100% of u.s. corn is gmo, maybe the real “crisis” here is that people might find out what kind of serious crap they’ve been feeding their infants.

    Sounds kinda like new moms should just pulverize some “Froot” Loops, mix it with some Mountain Dew and get the whole “lifetime of good eating habits” thing over with.

    1. Mildred Montana

      I asked my sister-in-law, mother of three, if baby formula could be made at home. She placed her hands on her breasts and jiggled them. I think that was a “No”.

    2. flora

      I checked the supermarket infant formula shelf today. Still some formula available, not much. Yes, tons of sugar in those corporate made formulas. (Obesity in children starts early, I guess. )

      Then I checked the baking goods area and saw cans of evaporated milk now fortified with vit D and a few other things. Maybe a tsp or tbl of Karo corn syrup added in with the boiled water is less sugar by volume than in the corporate made formula. Who knew?

      1. JustAnotherVolunteer

        50s bottle baby here – pet milk, boiled water, corn syrup in an Evenflo bottle that had been through a stove top sterilizer. Refrigerated and then reheated as needed.

        They still sell glass bottles. I’m guessing all the “don’t try this at home” advise we are seeing is because of the sterilization step.

        1. flora

          Thanks for the link. an aside: at another supermarket I visited the only formula left on the shelf was the super expensive, top of the line stuff – $5.00 per 8 oz bottle. $30.00 for 6 8-oz bottles. The ingredients list on that formula listed dehydrated milk as the first ingredient. $30 dollars is at at least 3 times the cost of making 6 8-oz bottles with evaporated milk.

          (adjusts tin foil bonnet) When Bernie’s 2016 campaign drew in billions of dollars in very small donations I wonder if the Dem estab (and probably the GOP estab) thought: “Whoa! There’s still a lot of money in deplorastan we and our corporate sponsors haven’t vacuumed up yet. Must get hold of that money!” Now 12 food processing plants have shut down, 10% of commercial chicken/egg production has been eliminated, baby formula plant is shut down, gas “shortages” and higher gas prices and refinery’s are being shut down, Texas electricity generating stations are being shut down, fertilizer and diesel costs are up up up, wheat shortages and higher prices predicted. And all of this – All of this leads to dramatically higher consumer prices. Impoverishing deploristan. / (foil bonnet off. )

    3. Nikkikat

      Katniss,I had the same thought re: baby formula. They do not want people to know the chemical crap that’s in formula. Reading those ingredients made me shudder.

    4. Maritimer

      Move over PFI, AZ, JJ—Abbott Laboratories Inc. are also criminals:

      “Global Health Care Company Abbott Laboratories Inc. has pleaded guilty and agreed to pay $1.5 billion to resolve its criminal and civil liability arising from the company’s unlawful promotion of the prescription drug Depakote for uses not approved as safe and effective by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Justice Department announced today. The resolution – the second largest payment by a drug company – includes a criminal fine and forfeiture totaling $700 million and civil settlements with the federal government and the states totaling $800 million. Abbott also will be subject to court-supervised probation and reporting obligations for Abbott’s CEO and Board of Directors.”

      I am shocked!

  9. Steve B

    New Not-So-Cold War
    Scott Ritter now more cautious about Russia’s military prospects in Ukraine:

    Ritter is baffled that Russians not bombing NATO arms deliveries in the west of the country and that useful weapons (eg howitzers) are getting through to the east. He thinks the Russian withdrawal from Kharkiv is a result of battlefield failure. Does this compromise the Russian ‘cauldron’ operation in the Donbass? Is the war likely now to last years, not months? I dunno. Any views from NC commentariat much appreciated.

    1. Alyosha

      The Russians dropped 10+ kalibers on a weapons accumulation depot in Lvov last night. Ukrainian air defenses ended up shooting into the city. We don’t know how many of the weapons have gotten through, at least one was shown (howitzer) and apparently one has already been captured. But the US took the electronics off them so they’re not nearly the asset they were purported to be.

      I’m not sure what’s changed Ritter’s mind. There’s certainly a possibility he’s right but I don’t think so. The victories in Donbas are starting to pile up. The surrender of Mariupol can be played as something else in western media, but it won’t be anything except surrender amongst Ukrainian troops and that bodes very badly for moral in pockets where they’re essentially surrounded and being hammered all day and all night with artillery and missile strikes.

      Kharkov probably was a battlefield failure, but one of relatively minor consequence beyond the tactical level. It’s possible for Ukraine to reconstitute some sort of effective military force in the west, but will it be enough to launch a significant counteroffensive? Almost every prediction requires inclusion of Russia’s final aims which none of us know. If there’s no plan to take the western oblasts, the reformation of a Ukrainian force there doesn’t really matter. If there’s no armistice agreed to, then Russia will just keep chipping away with standoff weaponry. If there is one, the Ukrainian force doesn’t make much difference.

      I’m coming around to the idea that when Phase II is complete (the liberation of DPR and LNR, primarily by their militias) which will include a severe reduction in Ukrainian military power, Phase III may see a higher percentage of actual Russian military push west in a way that people actually expected. I would expect that to include Kharkov, Odessa and the east bank of the Dnieper. And that’s where Russia stops.

      1. Soredemos

        “It’s possible for Ukraine to reconstitute some sort of effective military force in the west”

        With what? Middle-aged conscripts and no heavy weapons? And how do they plan to move such a force east with no fuel? Ukraine is smashed. It doesn’t have anything left to rebuild a military from.

      2. PlutoniumKun

        It seems to me that the Russians are not particularly interested in taking territory for territories sake, especially if it is not an area with Russian speaking majority. The more of that territory you hold, the more soldiers you need to hold it. Before they intervened in Syria, the Syrians had developed a strategy of giving up non-strategic territory (including large urban areas) to the rebels, as this meant that the rebels had to work out how to rule and control these areas as well as supply their troops. The Syrians guessed that this would prove very problematic for the rebels and they were right.

        I also think the Russians are following the strategy of using the Donbass as bait to lure in as many soldiers and as much equipment as they can. Why go out searching for targets when those targets will happily travel to you and within range of your artillery? This isn’t particularly new – it was pretty much the German strategy in Russia in WWI. They parked themselves in Russian territory as close to their own supply lines as they could and just mowed down every army thrown at them. They used Russias physical size against the Russians. I think that for now the Russians are content to do this to the Ukrainians.

        Of course, this won’t work in the long term, if they want to force a settlement on Kiev, they will have to move back into deeper Ukraine and take much more territory and this will require a very different sort of war. But the longer they can keep going as they are (or as long as the Ukrainians are foolish enough to keep throwing men and machines into the jaws of those battle groups), then why change.

        The Ukrainian strategists are in a bind. The tactically smart thing to do is pull back and use the Dneiper and other rivers as a defensive wall. But in doing that, they effectively surrender a third of their country and they will never negotiate it back. When good tactics are at odds with strategy, someone has to make some brave decisions, or just take a huge risk. So far, their gamble is on Russia running out of steam in the south-east, or on Nato committing itself militarily. I don’t think thats going to work.

        1. Jacob Hatch

          The Syrian Government probably calculated that any Sunni sympathy would quickly evaporate under the strict, arbitrary rule of the Caliphate, best let them have a taste that will keep them on-side for a generation or two. That and they put most of their effort in protecting minority areas where genocide might have resulted if the USA had its way.

      3. John k

        Used to think the river would be the division, but then saw a map with 2014 election results. Imo they want the breakaway oblasts to run a plebiscite, so they will focus on the nine oblasts (including crimea) that voted for the Russian-leaning candidate that won. This would be a roughly diagonal axis anchored by Odessa and Kharkov.

    2. Polar Socialist

      The Luhansk militia leadership declared today the formation of the Severodonetsk encirclement of 15,000 Ukrainian troops. Most commentators think it’s a bit premature, even if both roads out of the encirclement are under fire – some stuff can still get in and out.

      While it’s really hard to follow the situation now that neither side is telling much and are trying to control the information released by the population, it seems that there are multiple encirclement in process of forming. One has to remember that the part of Ukraine we’re talking about is mostly huge, open fields with deep ravines here and there. Occupy a hill and two ravines and you immediately gain the control of a much larger area.

      Popasna is one of those hills. It’s also a hub in the road network. By taking it the LNR troops have been able to easily push 5-7 miles in three directions basically creating one small encirclement into their east, one small to south of them and almost one big of the whole Ukrainian Severodonetsk formation.

      There has been talk (in Telegram, so a salty sidedish is advised) that Ukrainian commander in chief Zaluzhnyi is completely at odds with Zelensky and wants to pull these troops back to Slavyansk or even to Dniepr, but Zelensky refuses. Don’t know which of them is actually in charge, if either.

      This leads to the idea, that every half-brained strategist would form a defense line on the Dniepr with old and new troops, in which case it would make sense to destroy the weapons in the west. But since Ukrainians are not doing this, but are bringing the weapons and inexperienced troops to the east, it easier to destroy them there. Like in Sumy region the Russians just “calibrated” the training barracks of the territorial battalion.

      It’s noticeable that while west is pumping artillery in to the Ukraine, the newly formed units are already using weapons from WW2 or even WW1.

    3. Robert Hahl

      I watched that interview the other day and thought about how Ritter likes to jump to conclusions. He has a large audience, so I wouldn’t be surprised if one or more of his sources is playing him to help justify more US spending on Ukraine.

      1. Steve B

        Thanks, people. Very helpful.

        So, Russian withdrawal from Kharkov probably more a Ukrainian propaganda victory than anything with critical operational significance.

        And Russians have decided it’s easier to bomb imported NATO weapons in east rather than west of Ukraine. Probably because they don’t want to provoke Poland and Romania with bombing campaign close to their borders. However, this could change in prospective phase III of Russian campaign – in the autumn?

        1. ambrit

          Don’t forget “General Winter,” probably the most important factor in that part of the world. There is a definite “campaign season” determined by cold and mud. If you have ever been four wheeling through the mud before, imagine trying it in a big service truck, or a tank.
          After winter sets in, the “air war” will become the main means of fighting.

    4. Katniss Everdeen

      Military “strategery” aside, how could this war last “years?”

      The u.s. is essentially funding the entire thing, as well as keeping the massively corrupt “country” of ukraine afloat. We’ve spent, what, $50 or $60 billion in the 11 weeks since this war started including the $40 billion congress is just itchin’ to throw away now? How sustainable is that long term?

      And those are just the direct costs.

      In an environment where inflation is 8+% and likely understated, “we” are having to keep europe going as well. From the reuters link on natural gas prices “surging”:

      U.S. natural gas futures have surged to $7.854 per mmBtu on Friday from $3.730 at the start of 2022 but remain far lower than Europe’s benchmark of $31 and Asia’s of $24 per mmBtu.

      Right now, U.S. gas futures would have to reach $20 per mmBtu to cool demand for U.S. LNG, said analyst Paul Sankey of Sankey Research.

      “There is no upper bound on U.S. natural gas until we break the arbitrage for LNG exports,” he said.

      So, a double since the beginning of the year and a need to nearly triple from here before the price of natural gas “stabilizes” to keep europe in the fold? How “resilient” will the consumer be, in an “economy” that’s 70% the consumer, under those circumstances? Will the new disinformation czar censor any tweet suggesting that winter has not been cancelled this year?

      J.D. Vance, who won the Ohio republican senate primary, is reported to have said that he really doesn’t care what happens in ukraine. His concern is for the american people. The “putin price hike” crap is lame and the public isn’t buying it. I expect to hear plenty more of that as this mess drags on.

      No way this thing lasts “years.”

      1. amechania

        I watched a bbc report on a science convention from 1988. Appartently a large conventional war would emit enough carbon to melt the ice caps and tip us into five degrees centigrade warming. Carl Sagan talked them out of nuking the moon then. Maybe he shouldn’t have, I think now. We needed the warning.

        Someone should tell the New York papers they should consider rebranding, cuz ‘the atlantic’ is already taken – and they’ll be soaking in it in living future memory. In increasingly near term, just operating these militaries at peace time readiness will cause unthinkable disaster through CO2 alone.

      2. barefoot charley

        The thinking behind baiting the Ukraine bear trap was to bleed Putin forever, or till regime change. That thinking hasn’t changed, or we’d be negotiating with him rather than insulting and lying about him. Wherever his truce line is laid, we’ll send the weapons to keep shooting at him. It only costs magic money.

      3. fresno dan

        The u.s. is essentially funding the entire thing, as well as keeping the massively corrupt “country” of ukraine afloat. We’ve spent, what, $50 or $60 billion in the 11 weeks since this war started including the $40 billion congress is just itchin’ to throw away now? How sustainable is that long term?

        How long did Iraq (alone!) cost 100 billion a year? How much (alone!) did Afghanistan cost?,or%20%246%2C300%20per%20US%20citizen.
        So Iraq, what, about 2 trillion over about 20 years = about 100 billion a year. Supposedly, Afghanistan is about the same.
        When it comes to war, no body believes in MMT like the US government does. We will never run out of money for Ukraine, or war, anywhere

        1. juno mas

          Well, when the US dollar is no longer the world’s Reserve Currency then MMT funded wars become truly inflationary…and the war will be in the streets of the US.

      4. PlutoniumKun

        I think the irony is that while no doubt the plan was for the Ukraine to bleed Russia dry, in reality it will be the other way around. It will be a black hole for cash for the foreseeable future for both the US and Europe. Russia, meanwhile, will keep most of the best land and the coal and the ports.

      5. Henry Moon Pie

        No way this thing lasts “years.”

        I’m with you. Consider four nations under extreme stress right now:

        1) Russia fighting a war right on its border;

        2) China trying to fight off Covid;

        3) Germany with its vaunted manufacturing sector threatened by a cutoff of Russian gas; and

        4) the U. S. with the worst inflation in 40 years, a failure to deal with Covid that has resulted in an even more rapid decline in life expectancy, and a politics so dysfunctional that it borders on civil war.

        The Americans are hoping the Russians and Chinese blow a fuse first, while the Russians and Chinese may have chosen this moment to confront the U. S. because they feel confident the American system can’t survive. The Germans are getting ready to nationalize their gas companies to administer the rationing that could well come when winter arrives.

        And three of those four have nukes.

      6. Oh

        The CONgress and the Administration will keep this going as long as they can provide more and more $$$$$ to the Defense-Industrial Complex. We don’t have a say in this and they don’t care about the economy, only their pocketbooks.

        His concern is for the american people

        Sure! He’ll be concerned about the American People until he gets elected. Then he’ll care no more except only how much his cut is.

    5. Louis Fyne

      —eliveries in the west of the country and that useful weapons (eg howitzers) are getting through to the east. He thinks the Russian withdrawal from Kharkiv is a result of battlefield failure. Does this compromise the Russian ‘cauldron’ operation in the Donbass? Is the war likely now to last years, not months?—

      Given that no one in the West knows what the Russians think, one possible generous spin….

      1. Russia has no need to rush things in Ukraine given high domestic support and apparently little blowback from Russian military deaths (which UA says 25,000 dead, RU says a couple thousand dead),

      2. Russia is trying to wage its war/operation with as few Russian military regulars as possible, relying on Donbass military, volunteers, special forces.

      Given #2, no way Russia can occupy Kharkiv and encircle Donbass simultaneously. Is it a failure or was the Kharkiv attack a feint? Maybe both? Only the Russian general staff knows.

      eventually the Russians will be back in Kharkiv given it’s the #2 city and supposedly has a big pro-Russia ethnic Russian population. Before a push to Odessa or after? Who knows?

      IMO, the west has news-cycle ADHD. If things don’t develop quickly on our timetable, we call that a failure. Shouldn’t underestimate the Russian general staff. They are not perfect, but they are winning with minimal losses—and probably doing better than if the US were to invade Venezuela or defend Taiwan.

      —Ritter is baffled that Russians not bombing NATO arms deliveries in the west of the country and that useful weapons (eg howitzers) are getting through to the east.—

      The artillery and other systems that is West is sending to UA is outdated, the West isn’t sending spare parts, Ukrainians are getting a crash course in maintaining those systems. IMO, Russia is probably prioritizing blowing up the ammo deliveries, given yesterday’s missile attacks on Lviv-Yanoriv.

      some Russian-friendly social media that repost/translate what’s going on in the Russian side of social media

      neutral analysis from an Israeli:

      1. Steve B

        Thanks, people.

        Yes, Louis, looks like Russian missile strikes on Lviv-Yavoriv targeted the military base (as they did earlier on March 13):

        So, overall, looks like Ritter mistaken about any alteration or failure in Russian military strategy. He’s wrong when he says he got it wrong about likelihood of Russian victory in Donbass. Why the sudden change of mind? Am I paranoid to think controlled opposition? Probably…

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          I think it’s one thing to be right about something like WMD and another to call a war in real time. Even though Ritter is fluent in Russian and once in a while makes comments that suggest he’s read or heard some particular nugget from Russian sources, I’m not sure he’s doing what the non-military Alexander Mercouris or the ex-military Jacob Dreizen are doing, which is looking in depth at Russian and Ukraine sources every day to try to figure out what is going on. Ritter has a tendency to be black or white, so he’s been giving a lot of soundbites that are not nuanced and therefore sticking his neck out way further than he needed to.

          And it is pretty clear to me that PayPal demonetizing MintPress and ConsortiumNews had to do with Ritter. Both featured him very heavily. That plus his Twitter may have gotten to Ritter’s head.

    6. The Idiot

      Ritter baffled… Shock. — Russia does not have air superiority under 16k ft because of optically tracking MANPADS with warheads that only laser-guide at the last moment. No search or track radar detection warnings. No suppression of enemy air defense missions. Above 16k, guided munitions, in short supply, are required, not worth it to save a conscript’s life.

      Two, Russian spy networks might be played back with info that could draw Russian aircraft into a turkey shoot. If the Intel didn’t jive before the shooting started, chances are one won’t bet their life on it now.

      Three, Ukraine has at least 14 friendly border crossings. If valuable material is dispersed among basic goods and decoy convoys moving along a route with heavy AA, an air campaign will become a fool’s errand.

      Russian is learning that it is most effective when following wide artillery barrages with troops that scoot into the warm craters. Repeat. Hence the civilian casualties. Russia has to knock down a lot of stuff so as to not give away routes of ingress. A graduate course might point out that in nature, what appears striated is smooth, and what is smooth is striated. Urban warfare relies on non-contiguous dispersal of defenders. It is the terrain that dictates movement, not the objective. The enemies are the chokepoints themselves.

      1. Polar Socialist

        Beg to differ somewhat. Unless the pilot is really stupid and the MANPADS is really lucky, hitting a fighter zooming past in three seconds doing 450 kn at 300 feet with a laser is night impossible. And there’s still to IR signature of the launch for the automatic system to notice and trigger the soft kill defenses anyway.

        As for the need for guided munitions, no worries there either. With SVP-24 “sight” the Russians can hit close enough with any “stupid cast iron” in their inventory from 30,000 feet or higher. They just don’t like to fly up there because of all the Buks and S-300s still around hunting them (and not protecting the Ukrainian ground troops).

        Neither the Russians or the few Ukrainians seem to be much afraid of the MANPADS (Ukrainians fly only on the deck, and are as likely to be shot down as Russians in the short time the MANPADS operator has to make a decision to engage and they actually have to fly over the Ukrainian troops to hit Russians). Every time there’s a mention of a plane shot down, “the kill” seems to awarded to the more serious AA systems.

    7. woozel

      Ritter is saying that he thinks Russia can and will win in the Donbass region but that Russia’s wider goal of demilitarizing all of Ukraine is looking less sure. Russia’s primary goal with this invasion was to neutralize Ukraine so that it can no longer be used by the US to threaten Russia. If western Ukraine is able to reconstitute itself militarily, Ritter is less sure Russia will be able to defeat the West, which is required if Ukraine remains unwilling to capitulate to Russia’s demands for neutrality. It’s possible this is why Ukrainian troops aren’t retreating from the east, even as things are looking pretty dire there. They may be trying to buy time for weapons deliveries and training new soldiers in western Ukraine.

      1. Louis Fyne

        Ritter is a textbook USA patriot and I think his love of country is creating a cognitive blindspot—Russia is in a position to turn Ukraine into the West’s 2nd Afghanistan.

        Russia doesn’t need to defeat the west in Ukraine, just get a draw while annexing the crescent that starts from Transnistria and runs to Crimea and then Kharkiv.

        The West doesn’t have the money to simultaneously rebuild “Free Ukraine,” transition to green energy, be confrontational with China, militarize European NATO (Germany, Italy), keep the EU financial system solvent, and generate enough bread & circuses to keep Western electorates happy. Something has got to give in the long run.

        1. .human

          “Money” is not a problem. The problem is resource limitations, which TPTB are more than willing to literally blow up as if it were a fire sale. The rest of us pay the price as we watch the Earth burn.

    8. dftbs

      I think Ritter is making a sensible assessment: The Russians are going to win in the Donbass, but their current mode of combat is not going to lead them to victory further west. I think underlying his implied criticism of that mode of combat is the acknowledgement that Russia is capable of changing its tactics as it moves further West; but he interprets their current actions as showing a hesitancy to do so. Particularly the perceived indifference towards weapon shipments from NATO.

      Knowing what Russia’s physical metrics for victory are is difficult to guess. At which point will they consider Ukraine “demilitarized and de-nazified”? I do think that if these victory conditions require them to move west, the proverbial kid gloves will be taken as they move away from the areas that they are “liberating” and into the areas that require “demilitarization and de-nazification”.

      I think Ritter is right to highlight the seeming lack of urgency from Russia with regard to arms shipments. But I do wonder if that is our perception, and not reality. The Russian’s know the weapons are coming in, and they likely have the ability to know where from and where to they are going. Isn’t it in the Russian interest to have these weapons come through defined entry points to Ukraine, and be aggregated in specific locations so that they make “fatter” targets? Their strikes in L’vov yesterday seem to indicate that. I don’t think the Russian’s lack urgency when it comes to this conflict, but demonstrate the strategic value of patience, and not fighting from headline to headline.

      I also wonder if having a well “armed” but poorly trained, manned, and defeated Ukrainian army out west doesn’t suit the Russians in other ways. There has been talk of a Polish “peacekeeping” incursion into the west of Ukraine, Galicia. This is paired with the notion that Russia is not keen on sending troops into this area and would prefer to see it partitioned among the central Europeans. Wouldn’t it suit Russia’s plan to re-draw the European security structure to have the Poles go into the west of Ukraine as invaders and occupiers, rather than peacekeepers. Imagine the blank canvas of European security if NATO member Poland found itself fighting the retreating army of NATO armed Banderite Galicia.

      1. Soredemos

        Russia has consistently said they don’t want to conquer the country, and the west of Ukraine has been completely untouched other than missile strikes.

        1. woozel

          They’ve said it is not their desire to conquer and occupy all of Ukraine but they’ve also said that all options were on the table if Ukraine continues to refuse Russia’s demands for Ukraine neutrality, and that appears to be well off the table at the moment.

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            Please provide a link. I do not recall Russia every using the US “all options are on the table” formula. Russia escalated its nuclear warning level after NATO escalated (it was a technical move most people missed, Ritter did call that one out as an ex NATO guy).

            Russia has zero interest in occupying hostile territory. That is a sinkhole for manpower and money. Russia will not fall in that trap.

            Russia said from the outset it was going to denazify and demilitarize Ukraine. I said that could be a tall order. Since Ukraine is now refusing to agree to neutrality (something it was very much moving towards in Istanbul on March 31 and then retraded), Russia will have to do that by force. It is systematically destroying Ukraine’s war making capability. How it denazifies is beyond me.

    9. Randy

      Ritter is a moron. The Russians physically surrounded Grozny during the Chechen war and that didn’t stop the Chechens from getting arms. See also: Yemen, Gaza.

      Look at a map of Ukraine, which is larger than Alaska. Look at how much the Russians have managed to occupy. See all that non-Russian space? Are the Russian omnipotent, that they can monitor all that and just nuke things at will?

      That’s why I read some comments here about how the Ukies have no guns, no gas, no whatever, and I just roll my eyes. The Russians have had success at destroying incoming shipments, but when there’s a will, there’s a way. The failure to fully cut off the army in the Donbass will mean that so long as the Ukrainians can keep their morale up and keep sending people to fight in the meat grinder, the more Russia’s bizarre refusal to summon up its full forces is going to catch up to them.

      1. Polar Socialist

        So you haven’t noticed that Ukraine is running out of men (four waves of conscription/impressing) and small arms (they giving out PPS-43s, DP-27s and Maxim machine guns now).

        You’re supposed to pull depleted units from the battle to rebuild them with a mix of old experience and fresh meat, not let your best troops to be ground to smithereens and then send in a wave after wave of less and less capable formations, with less and less weapons.

        Ukraine just doesn’t have the manpower to replace quality with quantity, nor does it have time to raise the quality. US may want to fight to the last Ukrainian, but that may come much sooner than it seems.

        Azovians (of the battalion fame) are supposed to be most motivated, best trained and best equipped of Ukrainians, yet yesterday 800 of them figured out that Kiev wants them dead, and rather surrendered regardless of certain prosecution by DNR officials. What do you suppose the moral state of a “lesser” conscript is?

      2. Yves Smith Post author

        Help me. Russia is slowly and systematically destroying Ukraine’s war making capabilities. Ukraine is nearly out of gas. Go look at the huge lines at retail and the fact that Russia has blown up all its refineries and nearly all its fuel depots. You can’t get enough in by train or truck even before getting to Russia destroying the substations that drive the trains….and the remaining (few) engines use diesel, which is scarce. Oh, and Russia has started blowing up bridges too.

        Pray tell, Mr. Magician, how does Ukraine get in large weapons systems, which is what it needs v. heavy artillery? Small arms do little in the kind of war Russia is waging.

        And that’s before Polar Socialist’s point, Ukraine is running out of men who will fight.

    10. GramSci

      Kharkiv was one of the sites where the U.S. military was reported to have a bio-labs per this UN map from back in 2017. I suspect the main point of Russian military operations there was to secure the area against this threat. Since RU claims to have recovered documentation of the biological activity there and presumably has neutralized that threat, the retreat from Kharkiv could be more strategic than military defeat.

    11. Darthbobber

      Scott Ritter is a bit mercurial, often assumes more than should be assumed and then overcorrects when the original assumptions turn out to have been extreme. For instance, he seems to have had the Russians pencilled in as likely to achieve near-100% effectiveness in destroying western shipments. This was never realistic. They were never going to get every single concentration as it crossed the border, or destroy every train that had arms. And things that could fit into a large truck, they certainly weren’t going to get every bit of at. And when it turned out that they really weren’t that unbelievably effective he’s like “OMG!”

      But that wasn’t really necessary. 70-80 percent effectiveness is really fine, and what’s getting through doesn’t really add up to everything needful to stand up a large additional force, especially if most of the prime fighting age males are already under arms or “unavailable.”

      A lot of what they are getting doesn’t even seem to be getting used for standing up a force to the west, instead being fed piecemeal to the existing front, where a significant chunk seems to be destroyed or captured almost as soon as deployed.

      These numbers trotted out by the west for weaponry sound impressive at first, but even what’s making it through would give Ukraine at best an “army of samples”. A host of different weapons for the same purpose, requiring different training, different ammo, different supplies. An absolute nightmare. And the level of training required to be highly competent with artillery, ground surveillance radar, etc., is not accomplished in a few weeks. Nor can it be meaningfully done without a large open-area in which to conduct the training.

      I also don’t think its realistic to just pencil in Ukraine as remaining stable as recipient of largesse and organizer of troops past the next few weeks. A lot of key dominos seem to be falling in the Donbass now, and if the Azov surrender is followed by a debacle throughout that area, I don’t see any number of continuing blithe pronouncements from Kiev being likely to keep the populace convinced that its going swimmingly. The backbiting between political authorities and elements of the military is already becoming pretty public.

      1. juno mas

        What I’m interested to learn about the Nato/Russia fighting in Ukraine is the extent of Russian intelligence agents on the ground in the west of Ukraine. It seems it would be fairly easy for Russian agents to blend in.

        I watched a cell phone video made of the Russian rocket attack on Lviv arms depot a few weeks into the war. The video shows the incoming rockets; before they hit their target. It seems the person documenting the strike had foreknowlege of the attack. A Russian special agent, maybe?

  10. Gumnut

    Re omikron vac immunity and hyped hybrid/super(super) immunity

    Every single week since start of Omicron in Denmark the Vax cohort of Danes had had >2x of pos Test / hospitalisation and as of lately even COVID death probability compared to the unvaxxed Dane cohort.

    I know Igor Chudov / the substackarati are looked down upon around here, but nearly 6 months of Danish data support this: more than the linked hopium hype article.

    1. GramSci

      Thanks for the link, where I also found this Chudov post from back in March:

      «This might be a pure coincidence: certain bats, sitting in the caves 1,000 km away from Wuhan, purely by chance decided to follow the suggestion of the 2010 Baric article and modified the nsp14 ExoN genes in order to make their virus mutate faster — just for fun. »

  11. Robin Kash

    Baud interview is in French. We ill-educated monolingual English speakers are left wondering!

    1. Jacob Hatch

      Turn on “closed captions” click on French and for some reason they will show up as English if your settings are English as preferred language.

  12. Geo

    “I have an iPod that I use. And so old no GPS!”

    My old iPod died and refurbishing would cost a lot more than original price so for a while I tried using Spotify but despised it. Plus, I have a massive digital music collection that was gathering dust. So, searched around and about a year ago I found an awesome iPod-like device called the Surfan F20. It’s really basic. Just plays audio files (any type), has bluetooth or auxiliary ports, and basic scroll wheel navigation similar to original iPod. Sound quality is better than iPod, battery lasts most of the day, and all data is stored on a MicroSD card so cataloging and organizing music is as easy as creating folders on a desktop computer.

    Anyway, if any fellow music obsessives are looking for something like this I highly recommend it.

    1. super extra

      Let me add to the fun. I ‘built’ my mp3 player from an open source hardware board, another open source hardware board, and a complementary screen/button board for a user interface. The chip manufacturer has software examples on their site so even though its been a hot minute since I got into C it wasn’t a huge deal to wire up playback. I’m working on a case now made from 3d printed resin parts, but it works fine naked. I could have gotten it down to a single board and bodged a screen and button and mounted them in the case if I wanted it even smaller, but these kits are like legos for electronics engineers – just solder stacking headers in, snap everything together, and you have all the components wired up and ready to plug in. Really fun if you know some basic programming and have the patience to fight through figuring it out!

      1. hunkerdown

        Legos are nice, but circuit board design is so right-brained and relaxing. In these times especially, I think that deserves some attention. I’ve been known to while away hours drawing up boards I have no intention of manufacturing.

        1. super extra

          I am very close to getting into home manufacturing! Another year or two of the pandemic and I’ll probably be there in terms of time and mental headspace. Like everyone on the EE spectrum I’ve always been a part/component hoarder so I probably have enough laying around to get into it regardless of the shortages. I lack a hot air gun though, which is not a huge blocker, but large enough to make me fall back on the easy stuff when I have a need for something now :)

          1. hunkerdown

            I wouldn’t overestimate the practical reusability of harvested components. The bulk of passives and simple semiconductors are relatively easy and cheap to buy with plenty of production capacity, and not worth harvesting or characterizing unless they are specific or unusual. Don’t forget to hoard the datasheets for whatever you keep! I suggest there’s no better time for jumping on the hot air gun and buying any other cheap means of production you might want while China still likes us enough to trade.

    2. johnherbiehancock

      Thank you for that!

      I’ve been looking for a reasonably priced iPod replacement to use in my car (a newer model, which didn’t come with a CD player as a ham-handed way of forcing me to use my iPhone and a subscription service).

      All I found were iPods or the super-expensive Sony players. Sandisk made an inexpensive one (~$50) but the interface wasn’t great for driving.

    3. flora

      If your iPod quit working due to battery life ending and you’d like to revive it go to iFixit and get a battery and installation instructions. The hardest part is getting the case open. Guitar picks work well for the job, or you can buy an inexpensive tool called a Spudger.

      Here’s a link:

    4. Laura in So Cal

      My husband searched and searched until he found the app “musicolet” which he could load to his phone to play the large collection of digital music he has on his sd card without having to to play them one at a time. No streaming, no internet or ads, no account. etc.

    5. Aaron212

      I still have an old ipod, the first gen video one from 2003 that I bought unopened from someone on craigslist when I moved to Noe Valley in San Francisco. Somewhere along the line I partially busted the headphone jack but it still works great plugged into a generic audio/video cable (video stopped working too at some point and naturally I can’t add or update it without a working time machine) and it moved with me to NYC in 2013.

      When the pandemic hit I had a goal of listening to all 5200+ tracks on album shuffle. Most of them are music, but there are bunch of my old stand-up comedy routines and brainstorming sessions from when I first moved to the city, and an occasional Orson Welles Mercury Theater broadcasts or Suspense, so it’s quite the time capsule of my taste 14 years ago. It’s taken me 2+ years to listen to everything because every once and a while there’s a dead track and I would reset it since it wouldn’t let me skip it, then I realized if I let the track play it will go to the next one.

      Currently listening to track 4192/5275 (Bowie’s Rock ‘n’ Roll with Me) — Victory is in sight!

  13. LawnDart

    Re; Old Blighty, the 51st state:

    A government minister has suggested that people struggling with the cost of living should take on more hours or move to a better-paid job.

    And related, at least in “the West” or US and its vassal states:

    Inflation is worse than it looks

    1. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you, LD.

      There has been a spate of similar comments this month. Last week, another Tory MP said that people should learn how to cook and on a budget.

      Forty years ago, John Major’s mistress, then an MP, said people should learn how to knit and dress properly to keep the cold at bay.

      I must confess that I think the Tories still have a good chance of winning the next election or being the largest party. Things don’t seem bad enough yet.

    2. Vandemonian

      …and on Twitter, a smart young lass called @rosamundi responded thusly:

      The Tories’ next suggestion for household economy will be to open an etsy and render your mum down for artisanal soap.

  14. David

    For those who have space in their brains to think about other regions of the world, it’s worth noting that elections took place in Lebanon on Sunday. Lebanese elections are strange things: they don’t always happen, and when they do, they don’t always lead to governments being formed. This Sunday’s are quite significant, though. Results were only announced this morning, and I can’t find anything much in the western media yet. One local link in English is Al Jazeera, not exactly an impartial source, but the basic facts seem to be right.

    Essentially, there are three points to note. First, participation was low, at about 40%, representing the fact that the Lebanese don’t have much faith in the political system.

    Second, Hezbollah has taken a hit. Whilst, together with Amal, it still has a monopoly of the Shiite seats, it lost quite a few allies elsewhere, and Hezbollah now has fewer seats than Amal. Notably, the Forces Libanaises led by the veteran warlord Samir Geagea, which is a Christian party but close to Saudi Arabia, now has more seats than the Courant Patriotique Libre, the Christian Party led by Gebran Bassil, the son-in-law and heir presumptive of Michel Aoun, the current President, an ally of Hezbollah. The effect of this and other losses is to overturn the previous majority enjoyed by Hezbollah/CPL and their allies. But this being Lebanon, it’s not clear what kind of government can now be formed, and in any case, Parliament is by no means the only source of power in the country. The general feeling is that Hezbollah has suffered from losing its “outsider” status and becoming part of the problem. Likewise, both the party and its Iranian backers have behaved rather clumsily, and alienated a lot of their previous support, or at least tolerance, outside and within the Shiite community.

    More generally, the disgust that most Lebanese feel for their political system does finally seem to be surfacing in actual votes. Sixteen of the new MPs are avowed “independents” running on non-confessional platforms, a number of others are at least-semi-detached from the system. Whether anything will com of this, we don’t yet know: Lebanese politics is complicated, subtle and devious enough to give Machiavelli a headache.

    1. Polar Socialist

      I did notice UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon Joanna Wronecka and Secretary General Antonio Guterres are both already pushing the new government to sign with the devil IMF.

      It looks like Hezbollah & al got 61 seats, Forces Libanaises block 43 and independents 17. I assume the worst case is FL + indies forming a government that immediately demands Hezbollah to give up it’s arsenal of “Iranian weapons”. So that will probably be what the IMF requires.

      1. David

        This has been the nightmare of those who know the country for some time. It’s a typical Lebanese problem: on the one hand, it’s impossible to have a viable state if at the same time you have a private army on your territory with close connections to a foreign power. But on the other hand, that army has been a safeguard against attack from another neighbour, and enjoys a degree of cautious acceptance outside its own community. You have a typical Lebanese problem without a solution, and so, in typical fashion, the problem just gets managed, and kicked forward from year to year.

        I’m not sure anyone really knows the details of the negotiations that have taken place with the IMF so far, but I think their main demands are economic, and they will be difficult enough to meet in a country whose entire economy is based on organised looting by the elites. Hezbollah is an obsession of the Saudis and the US, largely to undermine Iran’s position in the region, but by the same token neither actually wants the country to descend into civil war and chaos, which will certainly happen if an attempt is made to disarm Hezbollah by force. We have to hope that there is a minimum degree of common sense still around.

        As for a new government, which needs 65 seats to have a majority in the 128-member Parliament, then good luck. The first problem is going to be to find a Sunni Muslim who is prepared to be Prime Minister. I don’t think Makati wants another go, and Saad Hariri has left politics, so….

        1. Polar Socialist

          I must admit I really don’t know my way around Lebanese politics (with only very superficial understanding of family-clan-sect-militia-party hierarchy, patronage and loyalties) or even the political system, so apologies if the question is dumb, but is Diab still too tarnished by the explosion to be usable as a compromise, “reformer” Prime Minister?

          1. David

            I’m tempted to say that if Hariri can make a comeback after being driven from power, then anybody can. Anything is possible in Lebanese politics except common sense.

  15. JB

    Made a public comment relating to this yesterday which became popular, and noticing some newspapers picked that up and republished after:

    “15,000 holiday homes available on AirBnb but only 851 available to rent nationally”

    “Airbnbs outstrip long-term rental homes in every county”

    Not apples-to-apples, but getting a fair bit of notice/discussion in Ireland.

    1. JBird4049

      >>>Not apples-to-apples, but getting a fair bit of notice/discussion in Ireland

      It is closer than some might want as AirBnb is very popular with absentee landlords as they can more money than merely renting. Then think of all of the housing bought as investors, which are not just corporate investors, but (often wealthy) families and individuals.

      Then there are the high end apartments and condos, which often sit empty because supply has finally outstripped demand. There is plenty of demand for all the other classes, but that housing is ignored as I guess those spreadsheets say that they aren’t profitable enough.

  16. The Rev Kev

    “Karine Jean-Pierre starts debut briefing by saying she’s the first ‘black, gay, immigrant woman’ to hold position”

    I’m sure that in the Biden White House, this would sound like a big win all round because diversity – or something. Myself, these days I follow what I call the D-K-D-C rule as in Don’t Know, Don’t Care. So, let me show you how it works-

    Karine Jean-Pierre: I’m black
    Me: Don’t Know, Don’t Care
    Karine Jean-Pierre: I’m gay
    Me: Don’t Know, Don’t Care
    Karine Jean-Pierre: I’m an immigrant.
    Me: Don’t Know, Don’t Care

    Now things that I do care about. Are you good at your job? Do you know what you are doing? Can you handle the pressure? Do you have all the information that you need on tap? And I am afraid that in Karine Jean-Pierre’s case, the answer seems to be no. She likes to stick to points that she wants to make like how the Biden regime is doing so much for Americans but darn it, it isn’t working. But she struggled to answer harder question that the press asked her and she was gone in less than an hour. Maybe she should have had a meet-and-greet over drinks to break the ice afterwards but I don’t think that this is a good start for her.

    1. JohnA

      The only question needed to ask her as an immigrant: Is English your first language, and if not, are you completely comfortable ungarbling the garbage word salads that come out of the mouths of Biden and Harris?

    2. Duke DeGuise

      I’ll see you a black, gay, immigrant, and raise you a black, immigrant hermaphrodite!

      Nyah, nyah, nyah!

      1. The Rev Kev

        I don’t think that you get my meaning. What I was trying to say was that her saying that she was black, gay, immigrant, etc. was only ticking off boxes on a PMC checklist of desirable attributes of what a press secretary should be. But a person in a job like that should be totally competent and any such attributes like she listed would be like the frosting on the cake, not the cake itslef.

        1. flora

          Interesting that her first introduction of herself is reductionist essentialism – the very thing the Civil Rights Act was meant to eliminate in education, hiring, wages, and housing. I don’t know and don’t care about essentialist reductions of individuals hired to do a job. Is the person qualified by training, education, experience, etc? Has the person done a good job in past postitions?

        2. Duke DeGuise

          The Rev Kev,

          I got your point. I was was making an insufficiently-marked sarcastic comment that the Identitarian box -checking is absurd, and inevitably leads to one-upmanship.

          1. The Rev Kev

            No worries. I get the same myself and I wonder if I should learn to use the /sarc tag more. :)

    3. Verifyfirst

      Thanks. I had the same thought when I saw the headline–new press secretary starting off by talking about herself is not a good look, or a good portent of what’s to come from her. Raising her identities as a shield against anticipated criticisms?

      On the other hand, please tell me you did not spend an hour watching a White House press conference! That’s time that could be spent….well anything would be better!

    1. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you, JH.

      I was wondering if these US troops could make sure they destroy the “technicals” and their factory. The MIC doesn’t want countries / potential clients learning that they can buy a Toyota with a machine gun and save money rather than buy something from General Dynamics.

  17. Wukchumni

    My buddy is a Sequoia Hunter and what a hobby. He started out wanting to see the 40 largest trees in the world, but has since ‘branched’ out to the 100 largest, and its quite variable as there are new contenders you find along the way, trying to muscle in on the action. It’s a lonely vigil largely when hunting the giants… there’s very few in his ranks, armed with a camera and a few thousand bucks of precise measuring tools

    We’d always wanted to do a big loop of the trees of interest in the Atwell Grove with a lateral going from the Dean & Arm tree to the AD & Diamond tree, but hadn’t done it for some reason, and got ‘r done on Saturday and along the way came upon a massive tree which had been burned on the backside (almost every Sequoia in the grove is on a steep slope and when fires happened in the past, burning logs roll down onto their base and ignite the tree, which usually doesn’t kill it) eons ago and was missing 30% of the base, and really awkward to measure because parts were missing, but we gave it a go and it came up to 108 feet in circumference, a 34 foot widebody, wow!

    It tapers quite a bit and isn’t tall enough to be in the top 40, but could be the 87th largest tree in the world, so he’s going back this weekend to devote a day to measuring it. Sorry previous #100, you’re off the list now.

  18. Tom Stone

    i took a 3 week break and it’s nice to be back.
    I’ve spent the time dealing with the medi cal bureaucracy, the housing bureaucracy ( Both successfully) and pruning/yard work (Fixing a drainage problem and path).
    About 9 cubic yards of debris,a little more than a yard of which became a cold compost heap.
    There are three badgers living on the property and although I have yet to see them they leave plenty of sign.
    Lots of sun, light exercise (Sciatica encourages the light part), few encounter with people.
    Covid in Sonoma County,oh boy.
    The Apple Blossom Parade and fair was held early this month, marching bands and all.
    The Occidental Community choir is performing again.
    Churches and concerts are going on.
    Mask use since the 1st of the Month has gone from maybe 30% to less than 10%.
    This is going to get ugly and expensive starting very soon.
    I am being careful and hope to stay lucky a while longer.

  19. Ignacio

    RE: TV5 interview with former French PM and diplomat Dominique de Villepin YouTube. Colonel Smithers

    I have watched until about minute 20 with automatically generated subtitles in Spanish which I could notice were awful and would not allow me to fully comprehend the interview. It seems to me that Villepin was talking with lots of care and one of the interviewers, the one seen at the left in the screen was like a wolf ready to jump into Villepin at the slightest mistake. Kind of interviewer-censor looked to me.

    I don’t know If I interpreted this correctly but Villepin was basically pointing the fact that Ukraine is basically a tool for regime change in Russia very much like in previous American-led wars.

    1. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you, Ignacio.

      That’s correct.

      Villepin also blamed the reticence of the global south on the lies told to justify the invasion of Iraq, the hypocrisy of the west and western insistence on seeing the world in black and white.

      If you want a read out in English, please try Arnaud Bertrand’s Twitter feed.

      Good spot, by the way, of the sort of censor. Since 2012, there has been a move by US think tanks, especially the Atlantic Council and firms to recruit French officials and academics, partly motivated by the need to find a replacement for a UK heading towards Brexit or from the centre of EU decision making, and represent US interests.

      As with Jose Maria Aznar and Jose Manuel Barroso, the US makes it very profitable to sell your country.

  20. jr

    re: a kinder, gentler, more equitable Skynet

    The MIT article about ethics in AI design seems like so much hooey to me. Everyone knows these things are going to be used, are being used, for the acquisition of wealth and power for the benefit of the few over the many because that is what the economic order they will exist within dictates. Can anyone think of an area of life that isn’t about economic exploitation to some degree or another? Medicine, academics, the sciences, public policy, governance? You can drape a kente cloth over it’s mainframe but when the goal is profit above all else it won’t make a fig of difference. I’m not saying the algos shouldn’t be designed to be more inclusive, in principle, but when they are to be wielded for the gain of the psychopaths running things how much difference will it actually make? So much of life these days seems like watching Kabuki theater while the theater burns…

  21. meadows

    Regarding the article on dream recall and creativity, dream recall evaporates rapidly on waking, so writing down as much as possible as soon as possible is useful. Many low dream recallers are simply sound sleepers and good dream recallers more fitful sleepers and also more attentive to those “visions of the night.”

    However one thinks of the purpose of dreams, all mammals dream. And if we humans are deprived of dreams, through accident, illness or torture, we tend towards psychosis.

  22. The Rev Kev

    ‘Troops defending Kharkiv reached Russian border, Ukraine says’

    Yeah, I’m not buying it. If I was one of those guys, I would be checking my six to make sure that there was not a Russian squad within view on the “Russian” side of the border and checking up to see if I could spot any drones. These guys could have been anywhere though you still have to be careful. A coupla weeks ago a Ukrainian squad were dealing with an abandoned Russian vehicle and so they all climbed over it to get a momento photo and something to post on social media. At least one of them saw the approaching tanks and waved to them but that tank must have thought that they were Russians and so from short range hit them with a tank shell obliterating them.

    1. Jacob Hatch

      Per the link (in Links)above, the video shows the squad carrying a border post marker with them. The video could have been filmed in a park outside of Lviv.

      1. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you, both.

        JH is on the money.

        A Lebanese neo con I know from the now defunct PR firm Bell Pottinger helped make the white helmets footage in Alexandria (Egypt).

        1. hunkerdown

          I have to assume that’s the real war, since that’s where they’re spending the most attention. It’s not hard to imagine that the armed operation was a NATO weapons disposal activity to render alliance members powerless against the 2% NATO shakedown.

    2. Darthbobber

      The Ukrainian excursions out from Kharkov are without military purpose. But it’s the only place available where they can show themselves advancing, which the marketing department sees as vital.

      1. Polar Socialist

        As far as I know, they are only against Russian border guards and special forces there, so it’s kinda “easy going”. Until they stay in the forest during the night.

        It seems that the main purpose is, besides good PR, to be able to shoot artillery shells on the Russian side of the border and hope the Russians have to pull some troops from the Donbass to deal with that. We can assume the Ukrainians there are looking for the first signs of counteraction to skidaddle back to Kharkov.

  23. tegnost

    Crude is creeping up now,,,it seemed to be settled around 100 for a few weeks, letting the herd get used to seeing $5 on the sign…I’ve thought the goal is to settle at 120 in order to juice the fracking industry…

    Market Summary
    Schlumberger NV
    42.77 USD
    +10.66 (33.25%)past 6 months

    investors agree?

  24. Carolinian

    From Consortium two good articles on Sweden/Finland–here

    and especially here

    We cannot count Sweden neutral, even if The New York Times insists on repeating this error daily. But it was NATO–agnostic, let’s say, and this counted. Stockholm told the world, We are of the West, but we do not partake of Washington’s imperial adventures, and we decline to subjugate ourselves to its militarization of trans–Atlantic relations.

    It is all gone now. The Finns have surprised me. I thought they understood their singular place between East and West better than they apparently do. The Swedes have been drifting rightward from their social-democratic principles for years, but NATO membership will still signal abandonment of a worthy position.

    As to the rest of Europe, the Ukraine crisis has made this a case of dashed hopes. We can forget about the Continent as an independent pole of power, an expectation I and others nursed over many years. The present generation of leadership has no experience acting other than within the shelter of the American security umbrella.

    Of course if the Dragon Tattoo books are to be believed Sweden was always a lot more Nazi than they cared to admit. But Bernie’s ideal of a civilized country seems surprisingly eager to sign onto the MIC, even as our Titanic is taking on water. How bad will it get before we have another postwar generation of peace?

    1. fresno dan

      Once they get rid of Putin, I expect Russia to be invited (compelled) into NATO.
      Of course, like New Coke, will the new Russia have the same fizz…

      1. Carolinian

        Putin says he tried to join up during Clinton time but then where would NATO be without their favorite boogie man? They’d have to beat all those F-35s into plowshares.

        Someday we’ll give peace a chance….maybe when there’s nobody left to fight each other.

    2. digi_owl

      The Nordics have been drifting rightwards ever since the 90s. Much of it modeled on Blair’s “New Labour”, and further driven by EU directives.

    3. IsabelPS

      I have started to read the first link. When I got here:

      “Both have been under heavy pressure by NATO and the U.S. in particular. Sweden’s prime minister, Olof Palme, was murdered – a man who stood for the U.N. goal of international disarmament, nuclear abolition and the intelligent concept of common security. U.S. ambassadors have held secret meetings with Swedish MPS, there are many channels, demands and rewards.

      Sweden’s single worst security challenge was the Russian submarine, U 137 Whisky on the Rocks. It was Russian, yes, but the operation was an American PSYOP – psychological operation – conducted by the “navigation expert” on board who was the only one never interviewed in Sweden and who soon after disappeared. ”

      I, who is an ignoramus in modern History (although I know a tiny little bit about Sweden and Swedes, had to check dates: Olof Palme was killed 36 years go, the Whiskey on the Rocks incident happened 41 years ago. I stopped reading.

    4. JohnA

      Sweden has signed the application form to join Nato, but has said it does not want any nuclear weapons or US (nato) bases in Sweden. Well both Denmark and Norway didnt want US bases but they now have them. Plus, the main Swedish naval base in Karlskrona on the Baltic Sea is almost directly opposite Kaliningrad, so I would be very surprised if the US navy doesn’t mount a takeover there. A US aircraft carrier is already entering the Baltic to ‘protect’ Sweden and Finland, pending overcoming Erdogan’s objections. The naivety of the Swedish government is beyond belief. Coincidentally, I am going to Stockholm this weekend to see a production of ‘Streetcar named desire’ that was postponed due to covid a couple of years ago. Will check out the ‘Nej till Nato’ demonstrations and report back next week if possible.

      1. Carolinian

        I’ve been to Stockholm which seemed pretty cool. I stayed at a sailing ship/youth hostel.

        Hate to see it blasted.

        1. JohnA

          The af Chapman? Great location. If Stockholm does get blasted, maybe that will be the centrepiece of a future Vasa Museum in a few hundred years.

      2. digi_owl

        The base thing in Norway is turning into a minor scandal.

        After all Norway had a no bases policy since the inception of NATO, and managed to stick to it even though events like the Cuban Missile Crisis.

        Yet the moment there was a right wing majority, they slipped in some US marines under a “temporary training” claim. As in, the 500 or so marines will be rotated at regular intervals under the pretext of them being around temporarily to train rather than permanently stationed. Except that when one batch leave, another take their place.

        They are effectively flaunting the spirit of the policy while claiming to adhere to the text.

        All because everything but Telemark battalion and the air force have been continually starved ever since the 90s. And those two are what is called upon whenever Norway takes part in US adventurism.

        1. JohnA

          The Norwegians have also discovered that the onboard data from their F35 turkeys, get sent straight back to the US rather than to the Norwegian armed forces.

          1. Polar Socialist

            What? A “smart plane” that everyone said will phone home a la Windows once a month actually does phone home once a month?

            Next they’ll figure out that if you disable this telemetry function, the plane will start loosing functionality, as everyone has said for a long time…

          2. digi_owl

            That said, it would probably end up there anyways. Back when Kursk sank, it was claimed that NSA was informed of it by Norwegian military intelligence before the Norwegian government.

            There are times i wonder where loyalties would be if Norway were to pull away from USA.

            Also, there is this:


            1. RobertC

              GLOBUS: 200kW X-band radar — yeah that’ll work for the long-range target discrimination and tracking the Missile Defense Agency’s GMD midcourse segment requires. Here’s the MDA’s Sea-based X-band Radar:

              …The radar was described by Lt. Gen Trey Obering (former director of MDA) as being able to track an object the size of a baseball over San Francisco in California from Chesapeake Bay in Virginia, approximately 2,900 miles (4,700 km) away. The radar will guide land-based missiles from Alaska and California, as well as in-theater assets, depending on the mission.

    5. lance ringquist

      remember, once you sign that free trade agreement, you are finished. no sovereignty nor democratic control. the oligarchs now call the shoots.

      and if you use other currencies besides your own, you just committed suicide.

      as time goes by the outrageous becomes the norm. it leaves many people bewildered and perplexed, but its very easy to see.

      by now finland and swedish politicians and military are complelety on another plane of existence, where night is day, etc.

      they see no down side to this at all. in fact its all smelling like roses. the oligarchs will pet the puppies heads, and all will be well.

      “There is a great deal of psychological comfort to be found in a
      fully fledged ideology such as free trade because it removes the need
      for critical thought.

      The ideology is used as an algorithm. All the
      individual has to do in any situation is to ask what the ideology
      requires by way of action.

      The fact that the action may be harmful or
      the ideology objectively at odds with reality is emotionally
      unimportant for the individual. What matters is that an answer has
      been found which is compatible with the ideology. This is especially
      appealing to the less intellectually curious.

      Psychologically, political ideologies are akin to religion and their
      practitioners behave in an essentially religious manner. For example,
      in the case of free trade, its disciples chant “let the market
      decide” in the manner of Christians saying “God will provide.”

      Those amongst the elite who are not true believers in free trade
      will, in most cases, toe the ideological line because they deem it
      prudent to do so for their own careers and security. The few who
      speak out against it are simply sidelined.”

      1. digi_owl

        Yeah, we should not forget that at the time eugenics was a well regarded science. And many a nation implemented schemes according to it.

  25. SocalJimObjects

    Taiwan’s transition to “Living with Covid” is not going so well. Medical workers are complaining about being overworked, and many are thinking of quitting. The usually competent Taiwanese authorities have lost the plot. I am still thinking of going there sometime next month, but I have to say my enthusiasm has cooled down A LOT.

  26. Mikel

    “Cryptocurrencies can lead to ‘dollarisation’ of economy, against sovereign interest: RBI officials” India Today.

    This is like some plot twist in a thriller….

  27. Lee

    “Yours truly has a soft spot for cross species friendships…”

    In Yellowstone I saw a coyote romping playfully in a clearing with a grizzly cub for quite some time. Mama bear seemed pretty relaxed having assumed a sitting position but she never took her eyes off the pair. Every time the two would get close to the woods that edged the clearing she would vocalize, calling the cub to move toward her. All very sweet and whether or not the coyote had ulterior motives is impossible to know. Even so, Mama grizzly’s tolerating another predator playing with her cub at all was quite remarkable.

  28. JAC

    Just an FYI if you happen to get the BA.2 variant that has me laid up right now. First clue was three days ago, tested positive yesterday, still running 100 fever. It started lower in my bronchial tube but has moved up to my middle that which is extremely raw. I see this as a good thing. The suffering comes in waves, just when you think it might be over it knocks you down again.

    If you missed my water cooler post yesterday, it also threw me into a horrible psychosis on Friday which has resolved. Only treatment is rest, blasting the heat, sucking on zinc lozenges, fish oil, and taking Vitamin C.

  29. Dave in Austin

    Azovstal surrenders… sort of. Maybe. Prtially covered by NC today. The press reports:

    NYT headline: “Ukraine Orders Surrender of Steel Plant as Russia Strengthens Hold on South” subhead: “Ukrainian fighters were taken from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol to Russian-controlled territory, in a hard-fought and costly victory”

    Guardian headline: “Russia-Ukraine war: hundreds of Ukrainian fighters evacuated from Avastol as peace talks stall”

    “Were taken” by who? “Evacuated from”? No this is an organized, honorable, partial-surrender after a hard-fought battle regardless of how the NYT and the Guardian chose to spin it.

    Al Zajeera wins hands-down for accurate reporting. Al Jazeera headline: “Some Ukrainian soldiers surrender heralding end of Avovstal siege.” subhead: “Hundreds of soldiers left Mariupol after surrendering to Russian forces, but several more remain at the steelworks”.

    The Al Jazeera story also shows a picture of three surrendered soldiers, one on a litter while the two that carried him are being searched by soldiers from the breakaway region. All look relaxed. The story is followed by two bullet points: “Ukraine’s military declares an end to the Azovstal operation in Mariupol after hundreds of soldiers were evacuated, having surrendered to Russian forces.”; “The Kremlin claims the fighters will be treated “humanely”, a Russian lawmaker says they “don’t deserve to live”, while the speaker of the Duma calls for them to stand trial.”

    There is also an Al Jazeera photo essay today about Ukrainian volunteer medics, the casualties in the south, and by extension the actual situation on the ground; a reminder of the reality behind all the colored maps and arrows:

    So here is what I think has happened. Either the “2,000 soldiers holed-up in Azovstal” was a vast overstatement (my guess) or the real number is 600 based on today’s reports. Some have surrendered; some are “awaiting developments”. But the shooting has stopped. Of the 600 apparently in Azovstal, 53 of the seriously wounded have been moved to a Russian-controlled town 20 miles east of Mariupol where they will be exchanged for Ukrainian-held POWs, also probably wounded. For these guys, the war is over.

    The roughly 210 others, including the lightly wounded, have surrendered and will go into a POW camp. Where? In the breakaway regions or Russia? My guess is the breakaway region. This matters because it will allow both sides to agree on the polite fiction that this is a “Special Operation”, just peacekeepers like the Americans in Kosovo, and thus the POWs are in the Ukraine and not under Russian control. And representatives in the Russian Duma screaming for trials can be told: “Sorry. Not in our hands”

    That leaves roughly 350 fighters from Azovstal unaccounted for. Zelinsky said according to Al Jazeera: “We hope that we will be able to save the lives of our guys,” “There are severely wounded ones among them. They’re receiving care. Ukraine needs Ukrainian heroes alive.” Al Jazeera’s Hoda Abdel-Hamid, reporting from Odesa, said: “a source indicated that a number of far-right Azov regiment members had decided to surrender, but there had been no official confirmation. “In the past days, we’ve heard from President Zelenskyy and from other senior officials here that these were very tough negotiations,”

    What do the Azov people say? “The Ukrainian regiment at the steel plant said it was fulfilling orders to save the lives of troops by evacuating them.” and “In order to save lives, the entire Mariupol garrison is implementing the approved decision of the Supreme Military Command and hopes for the support of the Ukrainian people,” the Azov regiment said in a social media post.”

    So the way I read this is Zelenskyy has ordered the garrison to surrender; the Azov leadership outside the Azovstel has said “Yes sir”; the ones underground have said “Maybe. Will we all be killed? Or be tried in an American-style International Criminal Court in Russia for War Crimes? This hole is no fun but we are awaiting developments.”

    I give this long set of quotes and reports to indicate the true complexity of what is- and has been- happening. Neither side is as unified or as shortsighted as the American media pretends they are.

    1. Soredemos

      Our media reporting a mass surrender as an ‘evacuation’ after ‘the successful completion of combat operations’ is peak propaganda. I think it actually broke part of my brain.

      1. Young

        OK. I will add that phrase to my vocabulary, like

        Fatally wounded…

        Negative growth rate…

        Victoriously evacuated…

    2. digi_owl

      I must say the coverage of this conflict at Al Jazeera gives me mental whiplash, depending on how they sourced the article. If it was in house, it can be highly negative towards Ukraine, NATO and USA. But if they mostly copypasted Reuters or AP it ends up the polar opposite.

    3. Darthbobber

      If this was the actual sequence, I suspect we’d have heard of Zelensky authorizing/ordering the surrender before it was already under way, rather than having that retrofitted a day and a half later. Kiev seemed to initially be caught flatfooted. They even publicly mentioned having a “crisis meeting” about how to react. Not what you’d expect if this was happening in response to their orders.

    4. Polar Socialist

      From the DNR side (and in Russian media) the story goes like this:
      early Tuesday morning some Ukrainians emerged from the Azovstal with a white flag to negotiate surrender of the most seriously wounded Ukrainians. Soon a ceasefire was declared from 1 to 3 PM which was mostly used to remove Ukrainian booby traps and mines from the agreed passageway. This was done by Ukrainians with body armor and weapons.
      Just before 3 a group of Ukranians left their weapons, helmets and armor in a pile and went to get stretchers from the DNR/Russian ambulances.
      When they returned with the wounded, it became apparent that the rest of them wanted to surrender too. All together in the factory there were 2483 Ukrainians, about 800 of them members of Azov, and about 400 wounded (also 200 corpses not included).
      Yesterday, only 205 “healthy” and 51 wounded were “evacuated”, as a test by the Ukrainians (who do have Internet access in the lairs, and would be following what happens to the first batch).
      Around this time the Azov leader published his message and Kiev started to react publicly to the events.
      The process has continued today, although I haven’t seen any numbers. I did see news that while the DNR wanted to stop the surrendering process for the night (understandably), the Ukrainians are still coming out en masse from all possible remaining doorways not wanting to spend another night in the depths (understandably).

    5. Lambert Strether

      > So the way I read this is Zelenskyy has ordered the garrison to surrender

      Doesn’t the timeline suggest that the garrison surrendered first, and Zelensky, having no choice, went along?

      1. JohnA

        Zelensky was busy preparing his victorious speech to the Cannes Film Festival. The glorious evacuation was all arranged by Ukraine government and Ukraine intelligence. The man is deranged, but as he has banned all opposition parties and opposition media, only his message is being communicated in Ukraine. He may well end up upside down swinging from a lamp post in Kiev when the locals finally discover his utter mendacity and willingness to sacrifice so many lives needlessly,

    6. Polar Socialist

      MoD RF has announced that 694 more Ukrainians have surrendered in Azovstal during the last 24 hours, making a total of 959.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Thanks for that update. You wonder how many are left below and more to the point, just who is there exactly.

        1. Old Sovietologist

          Its going to be interesting. Martyanov is teasing us with the idea of juicy plums. Although I suspect he doesn’t know much more than some commentators on here.

          For what its worth and its pure guesswork on my part. I don’t think any serving NATO big wigs will be found. Of course I have the popcorn ready if I’m proved wrong.

          The disgraced Canadian General seems to have disappeared so he’s either dead still in the hole or helping the Russian with their enquiries. I would be fairly confident that there are few ex-British army people among them and they could include a former officers.

          Give the number of Ukrainians who have served/serve in the French Foreign Legion. I think we can assume a fair few left with the full blessing of the French authorities. As for the rest its the usual suspects Balts, Poles, Georgians, etc.

  30. Questa Nota

    The estimable Cory Doctorow provides more insights about the pharmaceutical industry and Dollars for Docs in today’s Pluralistic.

    IM Doc, and other reader, observations would be most welcome.

  31. Wukchumni

    I’ve heard that if you cut the economy with just a little Fintanyl, you get the same high GDP feel, but be careful not overdosing on your own supply chain.

    Really has the feel of dearth by 1,000 cuts in availability, formulaic almost.

  32. XXYY

    Even before Election Day, some Republicans in [Pennsylvania] are pointing fingers over Mastriano’s expected win, specifically singling out state party Chair Lawrence Tabas. They argue he should have encouraged the party to endorse a gubernatorial candidate, muscled out low-polling contenders, or pushed the GOP to unite behind an alternative to Mastriano.

    In other words, the GOP should have done what the Democrats did to Bernie Sanders in 2020.

    Amazing how much hatred of actual democracy there seems to be in both parties.

  33. flora

    re: “It turns out there is a price to not teaching doctors how to interpret evidence.”

    Thanks for the twete with the link to the paper. Very good read.

    1. Lambert Strether

      > WHO treaty changes

      WHO was grossly wrong on both masks and aerosol transmission (and they still won’t say the magic words, “Covid is airborne,” which they should do at every opportunity). I question whether reinforcing the authority of droplet goons is a good thing.

  34. RobertC


    As JCPOA negotiations falter Israel says Iran working on advanced centrifuges at new underground sites

    HERZLIYA, Israel, May 17 (Reuters) – Iran is working on advanced uranium centrifuges at new underground sites being built near its Natanz nuclear plant, Israel’s defence minister said on Tuesday, giving figures that appeared to go beyond those published by a U.N. watchdog.

    …Ram Ben-Barak, head of parliament’s Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee, confirmed Israeli media reports on Tuesday that Israel’s air force, as part of a scheduled one-month military exercise, would be simulating an attack on Iran.

    1. RobertC


      I’ve been puzzled why In first, Russian military said to fire S-300 missiles at Israeli jets over Syria so I looked at a map of Potential IAF Strike Routes on Iran nuclear facilities and a map of Russian Air Defense Missile Ranges in Syria.

      The Times article didn’t identify the IAF aircraft attacking the Iranian facilities in Syria but there are claims from past intrusions the Russian S-400 can’t obtain a fire control lock on the Israeli F-35I (the S-300, not the S-400, was the system cited in the article).

      Coincidence is not correlation but still I wonder if the Russians were suggesting that Israel avoid exercising the nuclear attack path along Syria’s Mediterranean coast line.

      1. JohnA

        Most of the air strikes on Syria from Israel are fired from Lebanon airspace, the Israeli planes tend not to venture over Syria directly.

  35. RobertC


    This keeps happening: India halts Ka-31 helicopter deal with Russia is another example why China’s military is so much bigger and better than its southern neighbor’s.

    …Indian Navy officials have said the suspension represents a setback for the service because the Ka-31 [AEW&C] helicopters are needed for the country’s second aircraft carrier INS Vikrant, which was locally built and will be commissioned in July.

    …Neither ministry nor Navy officials would discuss whether India is exploring alternatives to the airborne early warning craft.

    The Navy currently operates 14 Ka-31 helicopters, which were inducted progressively — four in 2003, five in 2005 and five in 2013 — and are dependent on the original equipment manufacturer for spare parts, repairs and overhaul support.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      That was the word a patient of IM Doc who is an agbiz exec used….said our food price hikes come fall would be somewhere between epic and apocalyptic.

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