Links 7/16/2022

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

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


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

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

* * *

Why Woodpeckers Don’t Mind Hitting Trees With Their Faces New York Times (furzy)

In Malawi, 250 elephants are being carefully moved to a larger park Associated Press (David L)

The Secrets of America’s Greatest Math Team Wall Street Journal.

MIT’s building a time-traveling dark matter detector The Next Web (David L)

PTT to commercialise ‘rejuvenating DNA’ Bangkok Post

Remembering Richard Taruskin, a writer who made you care about 1,000 years of music NPR (David L)

Art Is for Seeing Evil Point Magazine (Anthony L)



From GM: “Here is first data on BA.2.75 itself”:

GM continues:

Two keys results:

1. receptor affinity has increased quite a bit

2. BA.4/5 shows more overall escape, but BA.2.75 escapes Delta immunity better.

This sort of effect will likely matter more and more in the future as different populations accumulate very different exposure histories.

More than 50 Long-term effects of COVID-19: a systematic review and meta-analysis MedRxIv (David L)

Covid-19 Vaccines Temporarily Changed Menstrual Cycles, Study Shows New York Times (Kevin W). How many were “temporary” only because they had a medical intervention? We’ve heard of cases of child-bearing age women losing their periods for more than 2 months and seeking treatment.


More cities across China order partial Covid lockdowns South China Morning Post (resilc)

Zero-Covid policy killing off China’s growth Asia Times. Kevin W: “Translation – ‘Jump in. The water’s fine!'”


Low demand for young kids’ Covid vaccines is alarming doctors Politico


Europe heatwave: Thousands escape wildfires in France, Spain and Greece BBC (Kevin W)

England braces for 40C temperatures as experts warn thousands could die Guardian

As alarm over plastic grows, Saudis ramp up production in the US Grist (Glenn F)

Floodworx: Smart Design for Easier Flood Protection Core77 (resilc)

The big default? The dozen countries in the danger zone Reuters (Kevin W))


China faces difficult decisions with slide in economic growth South China Morning Post

China Studies Ending Australia Coal Ban on Supply Fear Bloomberg. Says China still afraid of US secondary sanctions.


Biden’s I2U2 summit diminishes India Indian Punchline (Kevin W)

Allow India to export foodgrains from public stock to needy nations, says FM Sitharaman to WTO Economic Times

Sri Lanka

Watch: ‘If Rajapaksa’s Party Picks Wickremesinghe as New President, Sri Lanka Crisis Will Get a Lot Worse’ The Wire

Old Blighty

The former Chancellor and Mordaunt still in the lead The Times

Italy. Remember that on top of everything else, Italy is the sick man of Europe, with particularly wobbly banks.

Mario Draghi struggles through mire of Italy’s turbulent politics Financial Times

New Not-So-Cold War

EU Slashes Ukraine Assistance Nine-Fold Amid Domestic Economic Troubles Sputnik (Kevin W)

Supporting Ukraine For ‘As Long As It Takes’ Is Not a Strategy 1945

” Uniper Starts Using Winter Gas With Urgent Bailout Needed Bloomberg

Production in Russian manufacturing could drop 6% in 2022 despite growth in defense sector – Manturov Interfax

* * *

About Borisov’s New Post. Andrei Martyanov. See also a key point from Alexander Mercouris yesterday, that Russia is re-nationalizing military production and has put another top-top technocrat in charge. A point that can’t be made too often: what freaked the West out the most about Communism was that the USSR went from a peasant economy to an industrial power in a generation. No “free enterprise” country has come close. Moreover, some recent studies contend that the central planning model worked well initially, but then the Soviet analogue to middle level managers hopelessly corrupted the system, both via how they influenced targets and hid inventories. Mercouris opines, and this sounds right, that Russia spent 30 years experimenting with a Western-style private military procurement system and concluded the Soviet approach worked better.

Ukraine. Military Summary And Analysis 15.07.2022 YouTube. In the first few minutes, a discussion of a sighting of very recent recommendation by the US for all US citizens to leave Ukraine + the US embassy moving its operations from Kiev to Lvov. But Lambert went looking and couldn’t find it…..I found this version but it is only in Ukraine via a translator, which makes me question it.

* * *

I know Tulsi has baggage but no one else is making clear and urgent statements like this:

G20: Canada claims Russian delegation are personally responsible for ‘war crimes’ in Ukraine Guardian. Resilc: “Unlike the merikin delegation in Somalia, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, West Bank/Gaza, Libya……….”


Biden hands blank check to Saudi Arabia in Middle East visit WSWS

Noam Chomsky: Biden’s Middle East Trip Contains Echoes of Trump’s Policies Truthout

Joe Biden greeted by protests during brief visit to Palestine Guardian (resilc)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

San Francisco cops want real-time access to private security cameras for surveillance The Register (David L)

Facebook allows users to create multiple accounts – Bloomberg RT (Kevin W)

BMW starts selling heated seat subscriptions for $18 a month The Verge. Li: “Internet of things.”

Imperial Collapse Watch

How the ‘great power competition’ model leads to costly entanglements Responsible Statecraft (resilc)

US warns it will defend Philippines in South China Sea DW. Resilc: “Who would believe this drivel?”


Secret Service under pressure over erased texts and Jan. 6 actions The Hill


Manchin appears to doom Biden agenda The Hill

Biden expects Saudi Arabia to take ‘further steps’ to boost oil supply Financial Times (Kevin W). Erm…” Saudi official downplays US president’s remarks saying production will be based on demand.”


Prominent conservatives issue report rebutting Trump election claims CNN (furzy)

Ivana Trump died of blunt impact injuries to torso – NYC medical examiner BBC


State abortion bans prevent women from getting essential medication Reuters (ma)

Our No Longer Free Press

Documents show Bill Gates has given $319 million to media outlets to promote his global agenda Grayzone (Kevin W)

Auditors Cheating on Ethics Exams – Who’s Surprised? Francine McKenna

UK Lawmakers Tell Visa and Mastercard To Justify Fee Rises Reuters

Chaos Is Becoming the Rational Base Case in Market Ruled by Fear Bloomberg

Class Warfare

High deductibles helped UnitedHealth reach $7 billion in profits in Q2 as a 14-year-old begs for deductible assistance on GoFundMe. Wendell Potter

Antidote du jour. Another image of littermates Cookie (with white) and Niblet who have Stephen T as their human:

And a bonus (guurst):

And another bonus from guurst:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Dftbs

    With regards to Tulsi’s baggage; we are being taken for a ride, at least she seems intent on not driving the car off the cliff. I’m out on electoralism (working to leave the land of the free instead), but if one is still disposed to think voting matters I can’t see how any of her “baggage “ would compare to the zero denominator of nuclear war. I don’t think she’s “evil” but that mass of lesser evil voters that have gotten us here should take her position on the apocalypse into account.

    1. Questa Nota

      Big Baked Apple PSA
      Stay in your new walk-up apartment as elevators and pretty much everything else no longer work. It won’t matter anyway when you can’t find a bogeda or was that bodega? grocery store.

      1. griffen

        I missed this whole kerfuffle over this PSA during the week, or rather I saw the links and comments herein. Makes me think about the following lyric, by Talking Heads. Life During Wartime.

        I got some groceries, some peanut butter, enough to last a couple days…Burned all my notebooks, what good are notebooks ? They won’t help me survive.

      1. JAC

        C’mon man! I put my ballot in the ballot box so hard last year it counted for seven votes! You are just doing it wrong. Vote harder not smarter!

      2. Oh

        If you vote for the Republicans, you lose. If you vote for the Democrats, you lose. If you don’t vote, you lose. What choices!

        1. Samuel Conner

          But if you do vote rather than abstain, you have the illusion of agency.

          It’s a kind of placebo effect.

          snark aside, I encourage people to vote, but perhaps communicate to the duopoly that you don’t approve, by whatever means are available, such as leaving the top races unvoted and only casting ballots for decent local candidates, if there are any.

          1. Pelham

            Also setting aside snark (even though it’s greatly merited on this subject), I like the idea I ran across through NC some weeks back to the effect that we need a truly representative democracy at the federal level.

            Basically this means expanding the House of Representatives with one member for every 1,000 or so voters across the country — with that member living and legislating in the geographical midst of his/her constituents. This way voters could keep an eye on these characters and have meaningful regular contact.

            Of course, the whole logistics of a massive House of 152,000 representatives would have to be worked out. No small task. Still, I like the concept. And it would be constitutional to boot!

            1. Paul Jurczak

              Only if you vote for one of the corrupt warmonger presidents we had in the recent history. A vote for the political duopoly makes you complicit, a vote against it does not.

              1. CheckyChubber

                Agree to disagree! You’re just giving undeserving legitimacy to the process, when you vote for also-rans with no chance of being elected, let alone making a difference.

          2. marym

            Agree as far as voting for local candidates and local ballot initiatives

            State-by-State Guide to the 2022 Supreme Court Elections

            Guide to Local Elections Where Abortion Is on the Line This Year

            The objective of Run for Something is a bench of “young progressive” Democrats, so make of that what you will. If the alternative is a particularly awful local candidate, there may still be lesser evil opportunities.

            1. Anthony G Stegman

              Nearly all local elections have been hijacked by special interests just as are nearly all federal elections. Don’t kid yourself that you have any agency whatsoever. You don’t.

              1. marym

                I think people who believe change for the better is possible should contribute whatever is within their physical, mental, and financial ability. Achieving meaningful change is a big, difficult effort that requires many forms of activism around many issues. I think voting can be a small part of that effort. Whatever reasons people may have for choosing not to vote – maybe logical reasons like no good candidate in a particular race, or no local issue that matters to them – that choice, in itself, doesn’t contribute to the effort.

                1. CheckyChubber

                  The only kind of activism that could work would involve a mega-cull of ~10% of working age Americans, and the only kind of people that are capable of that would probably just replace the current system with something much, much worse.

                  Save your energy. forget about activism, and take up water color instead.

          3. Old Sarum

            Illusion of Agency:

            Praying too: but the politicians prefer that as, it unreservedly lets them off the hook.


          1. Jess K

            It’s nearly impossible to overstate how staggeringly wrong all the “leftists” who shilled/apologized for Biden-Harris have been. As despicable and dangerous as the Trump regime was, the combination of a politically weak, cognitively-gone warmonger and the delusional ideologues currently crafting US foreign policy is one of the most potent threats to human survival ever seen.

            1. spud

              agreed. this is one time for sure the lesser of two evils was required. as bad as trump was, studebaker had it nailed!

          2. drumlin woodchuckles

            A Trump 2.0 Presidency will be staffed by competent reactionaries in those areas concerned with “deconstructing the Administrative State”.

            That means abolishing the National Park Service and selling all the National Parks to private buyers . . . . as an example.

            That means trojan horsing the FDA completely enough that it is made functionally legal to put aspirin on the label and arsenic in the bottle. And it becomes functionally legal to import melamine tablets from China and label them as antibiotics.

            So people should decide whether they think that foreign policy is the only policy there is.

            1. Anthony G Stegman

              What you describe has been occurring under both Republican and Democrat administrations. They both serve the same masters and both seek the same outcomes.

            2. spud

              we already have that. bill clinton said the era of big government was over, and he meant it.


              How the Democrats Traded the New Deal for Neoliberalism

              “Across Geismer’s documentation of the Clinton administration’s market-based development programs and reforms, she clarifies how delegating public administration to the private sector, as well as groups that were formally nonprofit but generously funded by elites, was a form of privatization in the United States, particularly in the areas of local development, education, and regulations on corporate labor practices.”

              (privatization was invented by the fascists in the 1930’s)

            3. Jess K

              Asset-stripping the USA has been a bipartisan endeavor for decades. Democrats have been the tip of the spear in many cases.

              We should also note that the post-Trump pandemic has utterly destroyed the idea that the Democrats could at least be counted on to act as responsible stewards of the “administrative state.” They are every bit as willfully inept and negligent (if not actively malevolent) when it comes to anything in the public interest as the GOP.

              The FDA, in the midst of some of the worst scandals in modern memory under leadership appointed by Obama/Biden, might as well be a case study.

          3. neo-realist

            Trump sent federal officers to pick up peaceful protesters in Portland, NYC, and Chicago during the demonstrations in late 2021 and sat down with Bill Barr to discuss using the RICO statutes against progressive demonstrators, likely for his second term. Trump also had 25% percent cuts for social security in his fiscal 2021 budget were he to be re-elected. His justices on the court are considering allowing state legislatures the ability to throw out election results.

            Studebaker has his head up his piehole if he thinks Trump wasn’t an existential threat. Some or all of the things I mentioned are likely to happen on steroids if he gets back in office.

            1. spud

              Bill Clinton tried to privatize social security, cut medicare, and threw millions into jails to feed the privatized prison industrial complex.

              obama did cut social security, and used the F.B.I. violently on occupy wall street.

              Biden just named a privatizer to the social security board. and has started wars and is starving people.

              Studebaker is correct. the democrats have already done what you say Trump was going to do.

              1. The Rev Kev

                ‘Bill Clinton tried to privatize social security’

                And through a quirk of his personality profile, he was foiled in this by a blue dress.

                  1. The Rev Kev

                    I always was a fashion barbarian. Just ask my wife what she thinks of my fashion sense.

                    1. The Rev Kev

                      That Wikipedia article says ‘Viewers of the image disagreed on whether the dress depicted was coloured black and blue, or white and gold.’

                      I’m looking at it and I see light blue and gold.

        2. drumlin woodchuckles

          If you vote for a third or fourth or fifth party, your vote may well be seen and counted. That may count for something.

          Also, there may be regional or local initiatives or referrendums of interest to vote about, even if one leaves all the political office slots blank.

        3. neo-realist

          You lose abortion and voting rights with Republican Presidents, e.g., Bush appointee Roberts who threw out the voting rights act and the Supreme Court overturn of Roe v. Wade with the help of 6 judges appointed by republican presidents. And those appointed by republican presidents are going to take more rights away, e.g., gay marriage, contraception.

          Americans lose more rights with republicans than democrats. They’re not equally bad. Democratic appointees on the courts don’t take rights away.

          1. JBird4049

            Americans lose more rights with republicans than democrats. They’re not equally bad. Democratic appointees on the courts don’t take rights away.

            No. The Democrats in the past few decades have always halved the difference between their old positions and whatever new crazed position is the Republicans; the Democrats became conservative and the Republicans insane. One party has deliberately given cover to the other party and sabotaged any attempts at reform because it threatens their grift, which means they are just as complicit in whatever evils the Republicans have committed.

            1. Yves Smith Post author

              Obama would start negotiating at 75% of the R position and concede further from there, so IMHO your estimate of half is generous.

          2. eg

            Democrats are the ratchet that prevents the duo-Party apparatus from ever turning leftwards while the Republicans crank everything rightwards every chance they get.

          3. spud

            the democrats had the majorities at least four times, and never made Roe the law of the land. and those judges are there like Thomas, because of democrats like biden.

            none of those judges could be there today, if the democrats did not vote for them.

            North Carolina because of the democrats, just booted the greens of off the voting ballots.

            the Clintons rigged two national elections in a row. i see no differences between the two groups, except that Trump was a loose cannon, that did do a few good things.

            but going back to carter who waged a war on working people, what universal concrete material benefit did we ever get from Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, now Joe Biden, please name one.

            so the bar was set so low, a drunk could have tripped over it and done a better job, and that is what Trump did, he tripped over the bar like a drunk.

      3. Keith Howard

        Here in Colorado, the State and municipal ballots often include statutory or (State) constitutional measures that are worth supporting or resisting. My present plan is to return a ballot but leave the choices for elected offices blank. I believe that politicians do pay attention to undercounts. Other than this, there seems to be little we can do by traditional US means to get the attention of our rulers.

        1. ambrit

          Never forget that violence has been a staple of American politics since the very beginning of the Republic. In the recent past, it has mainly been the Right and the State, (the two not necessarily being the same,) that have employed various forms of violence to ‘influence’ the course of the Nation. The main changes in the American socio-political balance have come about from credible threats of countervailing violence emanating from the Left. I contend that the Civil Rights movement would have been summarily crushed had it not been for the credible threat posed to the status quo by the Black Panther movement. There is good reason why the image of the Panthers is not allowed to become a ‘meme’ today. It would expose the “quietist” political philosophy promulgated by and promoted by the Elites as the sham that it is.
          Anyway, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
          Stay safe. Keep masking.

          1. digi_owl

            Supposedly MLK got offed when he started to broaden his message to incorporate not just blacks but all working class Americans.

            USA may always have used race as a way to distract from class/wage issues. Pit the Irish against the blacks and Chinese etc.

            One claim is that the Spanish flu originated in China, entered USA via Chinese workers being shipped on the down low across the nation by freight trains to build the barracks housing the conscripts destined for France.

            It is only called the Spanish flu because that is the first nation to report an outbreak, thanks to not having a war related media blackout.

            1. ambrit

              I have read the same conjecture; that MLK was ‘liquidated’ when he began to pivot towards class as an issue, rather than just race.

              1. Henry Moon Pie

                I think his sermon at Riverside 50 years ago where he pointed out that the USA was the world’s greatest purveyor of violence might have had something to do with it too.

                1. neo-realist

                  That ties into him angering the MIC, which doesn’t like their profits messed with.

                2. Judith

                  Yes. He made the connection between violence at home and violence abroad and explicitly condemned the Vietnam war. By doing so he upset some of the traditional conservative Civil Rights leaders (as well as the powers in DC).

              2. Alex Cox

                Also his focus on the escalating war in Vietnam, rather than on “domestic” civil rights.

          2. drumlin woodchuckles

            Does ” the new Gun Control” mean several million liberals and leftists getting AR-15s and ammo and learning how to use them? It very well may. Quietists may not like the conclusion that people may come to.

        2. anon y'mouse

          i have always advocated for changing the ballot to include a “none of the above/no confidence” option, but when are they going to allow us to have that?

        3. Michael McK

          Politicians do not pay attention to undervotes. They only notice if you vote for a fringe party. Notice that they don’t do voter drives or ridicule undervoters to attempt to reduce their numbers. Compare that to how they keep Greens off the ballot like recently in NC. I still hear BS grumblings about how Ralph Nader, not an actual lawfare coup or Gore’s acquiescence to it (and insipidness to begin with), ushered in the Conservative era. They care about other messages getting undeniable public support. Apathy is fine with them. Supporting different visions for society is extra important now.
          Of course voting is just a small part of one’s political actions but it is by far the easiest to do.
          BTW, I am very disappointed by the 3rd parties on offer. Anyone want to start a MMT based California secessionist party? Kind of like an un-soldout SNP?

    2. Eric Anderson

      Voting for the lesser of two evils seems to only have the effect of compounding evil.

      1. Samuel Conner

        Perhaps a public-service “Greater Evil Party” could be constituted, which would not run candidates, but simply provide endorsements.

        It could be substantive — “here’s why we endorse Candidate X over Y as the ‘greater evil’ in this race.” The endorsement advertisements would highlight the evils of both duopoly party candidates, but explain which one was ‘more evil’.

        Perhaps over time voters would begin to wonder why the options are only always bad.

        1. ambrit

          I believe that “Cthulhu for America,” even though it is a ‘joke’ Party, has used the motto, “Vote Greater Evil” as a campaign slogan.
          I am tempted to get a Cthulhu for America sign for the front yard for ’24. I wonder how the “Back the Blue” PMC across the street will react. (She has had a “Back the Blue” sign on her front lawn since the last election. It has become a permanent feature of her yard.)

        2. digi_owl

          AKA a (super) PAC?

          That said, i don’t think sarcasm works in this days and age. People have been trained to take everything literal, it seems.

          1. Samuel Conner

            I think that political advertisements that gave voters reason to be upset with both of the duopoly candidates could be useful. The “greater evil” meme (which I lifted from, I think, a “Chthulhu 2016” meme — “why settle for the lesser evil?”) would also be a way of inviting people to laugh (through clenched teeth, admittedly) at the duopoly, which I think could be deeply subversive if it became widespread.

    3. Mel

      Maybe Tulsi is the WEFer who will break ranks.
      My inner conservative is saying “Trust, but verify.”

  2. timbers

    New Not-So-Cold War

    What’s striking is the lack of reporting on this (Russian re-organizations) and other happenings in Russia. I’ve been reading tidbits of this for the last few days (Russian Duma being called into unusual “emergency” session and related). Granted I don’t surf the internet but contain my use to shopping and a few trusted sites. Maybe I’m not seeing this reporting because of me, not Western reporting.

    If I were the United States, I’d be very concerned about Russia including its Space Program in its re-organization, partly because I doubt the US still has the ability to do anything competently and if it still does, probably only at ginormous cost and overruns.

    1. The Rev Kev

      That Russian Duma meeting bears watching. After seeing how the west tried to destroy the Russian economy for the stated aim (by at least the US, UK & France) of regime change and the river of NATO supplies flowing into the Ukraine with the stated purposes of killing more Russians, you can bet that their minds will be concentrated. This won’t be a meeting to throw a few trillion dollars to their rich buddies but probably one to better organize the country to meet the ongoing threats by the west. There are apparently about 60 issues due for their consideration-

      1. Polar Socialist

        I assume the main aim here, by transferring Borisov to Roskosmos, is to make both arms and space industries independent of foreign imports (a.k.a. “technological sovereignty”).

        Naturally I’m venturing to the realm of kremnology here, but comparing the specialties of the Borisov (high ranking army engineer, technocrat) and his successor Manturov (investment lawyer, industrial organizer) it could be understood that after Borisov has solved problems in production and procurement Manturov is brought in to write the rules to scale things up.

        One other way to interpret this reorganization (besides countering sanctions) is that putting a military man responsible for the latest generation of “wonder weapons” in charge of Russian space industry, the time window for talks for Preventing an Arms Race in Outer Space (PAROS), pushed strongly by Russia and China, is now closing quite fast.

        1. The Rev Kev

          This may be a response to the US seeking to militarize space on two fronts. The first is the US Space Force whose stated aim is to ‘dominate’ space and the second is how some western countries are seeking to replace the Outer Space Treaty of 1967 with the bs Artemis Accords which was signed by such space-faring nations as Bahrain, the Isle of Man, Luxembourg and Mexico. It is my understanding that the RF space program has also started to fall behind so this may be also an effort to boos it, especially in concert with China’s space program.

          1. Polar Socialist

            They do have a Federal Space Program 2016-2025, which did see some budget cuts in 2020, probably due to the falling oil prices (covid slump) when the “phase II” was about to start.

            I believe first phase was more about ensuring Russia has a space industry and keeps up with the technological progress and a lot of it was funded by selling engines and doing commercial launches.

            Now the second phase is more about groundwork and preparation for emergence of new technologies after 2025. For all we know, everything is going according to the plan and the emergency meeting was more about the need to change laws because sanctions force Russia to kick-start whole sections of industry in a short order.

          2. ambrit

            Add to this the “Privatization” of Space Warfare with the involvement of Musk and his Starlink program in helping the Ukrainians find and target Russian ‘assets’ on the ground. One thing I’d lay money on is Russia doing their own version of “Operation Warp Speed” on the development of satellite killing technology. There’s one space where the “reorganized” economy and the “reorganized” military would overlap.

            1. digi_owl

              Do wonder if old Starlink sats can be repurposed into kinetic kill vehicles. Why expense a drone and a missile when a deorbited sat will do the trick?

      2. timbers

        That link makes what’s going on in government in Russia seem far more democratic than what goes on here in USA. Hard to imagine Obama/Biden/Democrats being able to put forward 60 issues to improve America and tend to voters concerns unless it involves more funding for wars and the military.

        1. jsn

          Until our oligarchs feel collectively threatened US policy can’t pursue any collective aim: any substantive changes would impinge on some existing profit stream who’s recipient oligarch will spend whatever it takes to prevent such changes.

          US has proven it cannot mobilize for public health, for public safety, for essential utilities like water and power and most recently, in Ukraine, for war.

          Votes haven’t had a measurable impact on policy, really since the first Clinton term. But the lost capabilities listed above haven’t yet obviously manifest as catabolic collapse outside places like Puerto Rico and Far Rockaway, invisible to PMC eyes, so it’s not quite obvious how far along in our collapse we are. When the new “sacrifice zone” turns out to be the entire Colorado watershed, just expect news reports from there to stop.

          1. Amfortas the hippie

            “…it’s not quite obvious how far along in our collapse we are.”

            hence the importance of Field Reports on sites like this.
            where i’m at, due to “end of line” as well as cultural isolation, i expect us to collapse well before places further in to the interconnected urban core zones(think interstates, with big cities as hubs…long ago buddy of mine labeled this the core network of fedgov(he was a Libertarian).
            things will gradually, in short bursts, shrink towards this network.
            its where most people live, for one…and it’s a real network, with pipes and powerlines and rail following along parallel to the interstates.
            eventually, it simply won’t be in the interests of the Moffs and Grand Moffs and various viceroys and territorial administrators to spend resources on the more diffuse and distant areas.
            folks there(here) will be asked to/coerced into/encouraged to move on down to the core(already been happening for all my life), where there’s opportunities…and food…and the lights are on…like the Sanitary District in Grapes of Wrath, but a lot bigger.

            eventually, folks will only venture out here for slave raids.

          2. Aaron

            This seems to be a correct analysis to me. We do not have one monolithic ruling class in the USA, UK or Europe. Instead, we have many many fragmented capitalists with different views on what is necessary in order to secure their financial futures.
            This is sailors bickering as the ship sinks, no one able to really enough support to patch the hull.

          3. Synoia

            I believe our Olargacs feel secure, as they control all of our elected in DC by their purse strings.

          4. eg

            I think nippersdad had it right — every “why” in America is that someone who is already rich will make more money.

    2. John

      You don’t understand. Enormous cost and overruns are the source of huuge profits. Profits are the only reason to do anything.

      1. hunkerdown

        Economism Understanders seem to have internalized capitalist logic so much that they get upset when other people don’t think in its terms. The fetishism of the value token isn’t an explanation. It’s a myth that we are supposed to internalize so that WE can be led around by value tokens. It is not an aid to understanding. It is a false principle meant to keep people from really thinking about elite values and relations, and especially class relations. In light of these effects, I ask why you persist in promoting this disinformative economistic mythology.

        1. ambrit

          I sincerely hope that previous poster “John” forgot the ‘sarc’ tag. If not, poor boy.
          Hmmm… The image of a “Bot Boy” doesn’t inspire confidence.

    3. Mark Gisleson

      Wishful thinking on my part, but I’m hoping Borisov proves to be the overachiever who exposes Western CEOs for the self-absorbed frauds they are. Instead of reengineering Russia’s space program to enrich himself and his cronies, he’ll — gasp! — work to make it all work better.

      Like it says in the actual original job description for the people in charge.

      1. hunkerdown

        The myth that institutions are meant to serve people is a shining example of how liberal ideology defines its own reproductive activities as moral misdemeanors, then preoccupies us with moral policing games so that we a) bear witness to those activities and b) don’t materially disrupt them. If the myth were really so, institutions would not need to exist separate from the popular will.

        1. LifelongLib

          Arrangements turn into institutions under every ideology. The local strongman and his band of tough guys morph into lord and knights. Government of the people (however it starts out) turns into a bunch of specialists in politics whose main interests are holding office and telling the people what to do. Show me any setup (liberal or not) where that doesn’t happen. Anarchism isn’t the answer either. It’s not the freedom to do anything you want, but one where others are free to do anything they want to you.

          How to stop arrangements from turning into unaccountable institutions? I don’t know.

          1. Polar Socialist

            Allow people a possibility to vote with their feet. In many parts of Europe serfdom was impossible, because there were other options – like a wilderness or a town within a few days walk – available for people.

            Same with jobs; if there’s a health care and unemployment benefit available from the first day, people can just walk away from any employer that takes too much advantage of them.

          2. Henry Moon Pie

            That’s not what anarchism is as a philosophy. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Anarchism springs from a belief that societies can be held together by a glue other than hierarchy.

    4. Carolinian

      i’m reading this morning that the Russians and NASA have agreed to continue joint support of the ISS and will both send crew in September. Given Bidenista hostility one assumes this must mean that NASA can’t maintain the project without the Russians.

    5. Boomheist

      I think what we are watching unfold before our very eyes, with very very little reporting on it, is the development of the first real autarky or self-contained great power nation, in real time. Everyone is so concentrated on the Ukrainian situation and the sanctions that they seem to be missing that, of all the nations on earth, it seems Russia is best positioned to become the 21st century Greatest Power. I say this because Russia has energy, oil, gas, common minerals, rare minerals, a very strong industrial and scientific sector, and a population still remembering the suffering of both World War 2 and the chaotic 1990s after the Soviet Union fell; ie a people willing to dig in and sacrifice for the future. If globalization and international supply chains are breaking down, and I think they are, what will be left are specific economic blocs, each of which will need energy, materials, defence, workers, and food production. Russia has all these. So does the U.S and Canada combined, as much as Russia, perhaps, but twice as many citizens and a much longer period of wasteful consumption, easy life, and little memory of suffering or the need to sacrifice – ie, the U.S. and Canada will also be able to thrive as a bloc but their citizens will initially face a sharp reduction in their standard of living, which will be difficult to accept.

      China? Over a billion mouths to feed. Same for India, by the way. Plus, both nations don’t have energy resources, and may be facing agricultural limits due to heat and weather constraints, meaning, in a bloc system neither China or India can become autarkies (is that a word?) and basically self sufficient. The press talks of China as the next great ower and Putin becoming Xi’s vassal, but it is the exact opposite.

      Europe? The EU and the UK? Marginal energy, in fact not enough energy. Food production might be possible, barely, and the European industrial base and scientific base is strong, but this is a bloc that the Russian SMO has revealed to be critically dependent on Russian gas.

      Africa and South America might both in time become blocs, but their level of economic might seems well behind the northern-tier blocs.

      All of which to say, if we are now in a time when those nations and blocs most able to become self sufficient are the ones that will rise, then it seems to me Russia has the potential to rise the most.

      1. Polar Socialist

        Indeed. It’s not a coincidence that while Russia is turning away from the West and it’s sphere – and cutting ties to many organizations, China has been busy with the Belt and Road Initiative and Global Development Initiative. India has been looking for it’s own arrangements, but unfortunately often undermined in these by US (when India and Japan find each other, US will have no significant role in Asia anymore).

        It’s almost as if Russia, China and India all have seen that soon globalism will be replaced with something else, likely based on national interest, since the system created by the West just can’t absorb them as equal actors. While western focus may have been in China’s and India’s emergence as modern powers (while Russian rebounce was totally missed), somehow the pressure to reform organizations like UN or IMF because of this have been mostly ignored.

        So if the big players in the global south want to replace the current system, they have no other choice but turn to nationalism and some level of autarky to figure out where to go from there.

        1. spud

          protectionism is the foundation of national self-determination and is fundamental.

          George Friedman
          Geopolitical Forecaster and Strategist
          Nationalism Is Rising, Not Fascism
          06/03/2016 02:18 pm ET Updated Jun 04, 2017

          “The charge of a rise in fascism comes from a profound misunderstanding of fascism. It is also an attempt to discredit the resurgence of nationalism and to defend the multinational systems that have dominated the West since World War II.

          Nationalism is the core of the Enlightenment’s notion of liberal democracy. It asserts that the multinational dynasties that ruled autocratically denied basic human rights. Among these was the right to national self-determination and the right of citizens to decide what was in the national interest.

          The Enlightenment feared tyranny and saw the multinational empires dominating Europe as the essence of tyranny. Destroying them meant replacing them with nation-states. The American and French revolutions were both nationalist risings, as were the risings that swept Europe in 1848. Liberal revolutions were by definition nationalist because they were risings against multinational empires. “

      2. Mildred Montana

        >”…it seems Russia is best positioned to become the 21st century Greatest Power.”

        Way back in 1986, Gore Vidal proposed an alliance between the US and the then-USSR as a counter to the rise of China. The key quote from his essay 𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘋𝘢𝘺 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘈𝘮𝘦𝘳𝘪𝘤𝘢𝘯 𝘌𝘮𝘱𝘪𝘳𝘦 𝘙𝘢𝘯 𝘖𝘶𝘵 𝘰𝘧 𝘎𝘢𝘴:

        “There is now only one way out. The time has come for the United States to make common cause with the Soviet Union. The bringing together of the Soviet landmass (with all its natural resources) and our island empire (with all its technological resources) would be of great benefit to each society, not to mention the world.”

        But of course that was impossible because Communism, and the fact that the US could not and cannot to this day admit that it is no longer the world’s only super-power. That and the fact the US prefers not to make alliances (outside of Israel) but rather to keep an enemies list (See: Cuba, Venezuela, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc., the number of countries “hostile” to US interests is always large.)

        And so, here we are today. Russia not an ally but a mortal threat, China on the rise, and America growing weaker by the year.

        1. Acacia

          Out of gas and running on fumes.

          Empires don’t have allies or peers, only vassals or enemies.

      3. eg

        Your analysis is very close to that of Peter Zeihan in “The End of the World is Just the Beginning” except that he’s a huge US homer and therefore downplays Russia’s strengths, primarily on demographic lines.

        He also includes Mexico in the NorAm bloc.

    6. MaryLand

      “US to resume international space station flights with Russia.”

      Not sure how to add a link here, but the story is from France24.

      Seems odd timing.

    7. NotThePilot

      I definitely think some of it is that these stories touch on a lot of sore spots the Western media would rather repress (like in a Freudian sense).

      To riff on what Yves wrote though, Russia re-nationalizing their arms industry (and France its energy provider for that matter) is pretty huge news. We’re seeing multiple countries jettison not just the Washington Consensus, but even any lingering sympathy for it. The real kicker is that there’s nothing even ideological about it this time; people are just dismissing it as useless and ineffective.

      The US should probably nationalize most of the MIC, and not just to rein it in politically. These think-tank types that complacently assume the US military has technological superiority are living in cloud-cuckoo-land, just like the people that predicted we’d lead the world in pandemic response. If they want to be seen like scientists, they really need to get out some and see how the sausage is made.

      Like Yves mentioned with the Soviets, a lot of it comes down to managerial decisions. The US has tons of really smart people, but all planning & design is limited by the same top-down rule: up-sell & maximize marketing while minimizing labor & costs, especially indirect costs that don’t easily count towards a deliverable. And that’s exactly how you wind up with a society full of great sales brochures for things that quickly disappoint in the real world.

  3. Samuel Conner

    re: China

    It’s encouraging that there’s at least one country on the planet where financial contagion is not the only kind of contagion that the rulers are concerned to control.

    1. eg

      Yeah, Western “analysis” of China’s Covid response seems incapable of recognizing that the CCP is committed to public health over “the economy” as it’s understood in the West. There also appears to be a complete ignorance of the importance of the “mandate of heaven” in Chinese political history.

  4. griffen

    Is the corporate performance in US equity markets by the behemoth insurer, United Healthcare, just the greatest symbol of how the ACA royally f*cks us all with this access to sickcare? I can’t think of another health insurance conglomerate that comes close. Granted, I should allow room for healthcare conglomerates / pharmacy chains like Walgreens and CVS

    Surely this administration will resolve this. They will lower the costs for average Americans. Okay, now I’ll wait for the satirical responses.

      1. griffen

        But, what about the children? Will no one think of the children…to be clear by writing children I really mean profits. Because markets. That’s why an established medical treatment like insulin costs so damn much in our modern American life.

        If you can’t afford your treatment or dosage to live today, please contact your Congresscritter.

        1. hunkerdown

          Hah, “children” is an evocative symbol for the reproduction of the status quo. They want nothing to do with real children, only the new original sin debts for which they style themselves servicers.

          1. Oh

            This is the same kind of lament as “We must help small business that built this country”. Utter BS.

  5. Colonel Smithers

    Thank you, Yves.

    Further to United Health, it funded and provided advisers to the leadership campaigns for Owen Smith (versus Jeremy Corbyn) and Starmer (for the Corbyn succession) and supports Starmer’s office and that of his potential successor, the Pete Buttigieg of Britain and sock puppet of Laura von Kuenssberg, Wes Streeting, with money and staff.

    A few days ago, Starmer repeated that private sector involvement in the NHS will continue under a Labour government. As Biden said, “Nothing will change fundamentally.”

    1. ambrit

      Hmmm Colonel. From this side of the Pond, I do wonder how anybody over there can, with a straight face, include “privatization” and ‘Labour’ in the same sentence. (Thus my incredulity at Starmer having any power within the Labour Party at all.) Doesn’t Labour have any Fourth International types left? [Let us not confuse the issue by including Tankies. They live in their own little pocket universe.]
      All the best to you and yours. Stay safe.
      (Oh. How is the ‘new and improved’ Covid affecting you? The City? You’re staying well I hope.)

    2. spud

      Bill Clintons privatization: The practical significance of the transference of government enterprises into private hands was thus that the capitalist class continued to serve as a vessel for the accumulation of income.

      Bel, Germà (2006). “Retrospectives: The Coining of ‘Privatisation’ and 
Germany’s National Socialist Party”. Journal of Economic Perspectives 
20 (3): 187–194.

      Two locations

      here is another primer on privatization,

      Monday, September 11, 2006

      The Origins of the Term “Privatization”

      “In fact, Nazis coined the term. Their intent was to skew the distribution of income toward the rich, with the objective of reducing consumption. After all, the rich have a lower marginal propensity to consume. “

  6. IM Doc

    About the low demand for infant and toddler vaccine worrying doctors.

    I simply could not believe the framing of that article.

    The latest figures show that the very highest uptake state currently is Hawaii with an uptake of right at 2-3%. The overall national uptake is about 1%. This is after three whole weeks. My blue area saw its health department give less than 10 on the first day or two and they reported in the doctor meeting yesterday that they have not given an injection to an under five kid in two weeks. Not one. There is simply no demand.

    And yet, in this setting of virtually no demand in the entire country, the writers of the article go about “exposing” the rube attitudes of vaccine hesitancy in places like Alabama and Mississippi. An uninformed reader would come away from that article thinking things were much better in other parts of the country. THEY ARE NOT.

    What a complete joke and lying sack of s#$t our media has become.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Any publication that is headquartered in Arlington, Virginia should automatically come under suspicion sight unseen.

        1. BrianH

          While the headline made sense the majority of that NY Post article didn’t seem to be based on science. Some of the authors examples of NOT following science: requiring masks in schools, requiring virtual school when cases ticked up, and not believing in the power of natural immunity. Even though there were some good tidbits and I enjoyed the discussion about the insanity of vaccination for those who are very young and the call for more reasoned debate and less politics/capitalism in public health, it was largely NY Post junk.

          1. IM Doc

            As I relayed earlier this week before any of these articles began coming out, I have 7 former students/residents who are currently employed at FDA CDC or NIH. I have had occasion to have been in contact with each one of them over the past month or so. As with many other things in life, these old students now view me as an “old man” and elder who can be called on and trusted to discuss their current life path.

            What I am able to glean from these conversations is that indeed, at all 3 agencies, the morale is at an all time low. There appears to be a mad rush for the exits. And they have told me that in many cases it is the best and brightest who are leaving. There is great concern with what will happen if some of these people leave. There are multiple examples where they are the only ones holding back even more incompetence.

            This was all brought home to me as well this week when I learned that at my old department, two new faculty hires have occurred in the past few months – both of whom have recently left their positions in one of our agencies. Good people, and our agencies desperately need them, but they are making this transition now. Why? Maybe for the same reason there seems to be a mass exodus in Kamala Harris’ staff.

            We should have all seen this coming months ago. The resignation parade was started when two of our premier vaccinologists resigned from their top level administrative jobs at FDA. They could no longer stomach the politicalization and financialization of booster decisions last fall and the vaccine mandates.

            As an aside, has anyone asked Fauci or Walensky lately how many of their employees at NIH or CDC or FDA are vaccinated? They both testified under oath many months ago that the levels were way lower than one could imagine. Apparently, from my sources, that has not really changed all that much. (This hypocrisy being a major moral problem to one of my old students). I know nothing for sure other than what I am told – but it certainly needs to be revisited in Congress in public given how many lives have been altered by these mandates.


            I will again state that we were promised in the very early stages of the Biden Administration that the adults were back in charge – that our agencies would begin “following the science” again. That most certainly has not materialized in any way, shape or form. Indeed, the science deficit is obviously much worse now than it has ever been.

            I spend most of my days now dealing with a COVID situation that is measurably worse than it has ever been in this entire pandemic given that way more patients are now involved. With a situation that seems to be slowly spiraling out of control. In a situation where the environment on the ground does not seem to be reflected in official numbers and statements. And an increasingly furious populace who is becoming more angry and frustrated by the day.

            I am quite frankly completely overwhelmed. I am doing my level best to take care of all those who have chosen to entrust their health to me. I shake my head in disbelief all day long, knowing in my heart that this is absolutely going to detonate in a very ugly way.

            1. jsn

              Institutions for Public Health built over a hundred years stripped and looted for corporate profits in three or four years.

              This is central to what I mean by catabolic collapse in my comment to Timbers above.

              When this public capability is fully monetized, it will be nearly impossible to recreate as a state capability, and certainly not in our 1$ 1vote system.

              1. Tom Stone

                The corruption of the public health system in the USA is a crime against humanity.
                More than a million dead and counting with long Covid affecting not less than 10% of those infected.
                And a new daily case estimate of 800,000
                It’s depraved indifference at best and a betrayal of a tradition of medical Ethics that stood the test of time for thousands of years.
                It is a betrayal of trust that I would not have believed possible for most of my 68 years.
                When Habeas Corpus was revoked in the 2016 NDAA it set the bar pretty high when it comes to betrayal, however that tradition only lasted a Millenium in the West.
                “First do no harm” was codified twice as long ago.
                Gone, for a dollar.

                  1. ambrit

                    A medical themed “For a Few Dollars More” sounds right. Lee Van Cleef can play Fauchi. Claudia Cardinale can play Wallensky. Klaus Kinsky should do Biden, I mean, it’s a natural match. We can do a “cattle call” for the American public.

            2. antidlc

              My hope is that after all of this detonates, we can come out of it as a society that truly functions as a society — we take care of one another. No more of this “rugged Individualism”. We start to build a health care (including public health) that works for all and leaves no one behind.

              Bless you, Doc. I, too, shake my head in disbelief. Nothing is being done to stop the spread…more sickness, more long-term complications, more death, more stressed-out, overworked health care workers.

              I feel that every day we are being punched in the gut. Day after day after day.

              I truly wish you the best. I only hope that in the end, goodness prevails and we begin to build the type of society that cares for one another.

            3. Lee

              Who’s dying of Covid?

              From This Week in Virology, Clinical Update with Daniel Griffin (minute 39:50)

              “Peter writes:

              Daniel: I’m a non-practicing ID doc and thanks for your continuing brilliantly informative clinical updates. I have not seen any data on the 325 people still dying of COVID in the US each day. Who are these people? Are they mostly the unvaccinated? What can we learn from this group to give confidence to those who are fully vaccinated?

              Thanks, Peter”

              Dr. Griffin’s response:

              Half are unvaccinated. Of the ones who are vaccinated some are immune compromised, are not up to date with their vaccinations, have not been given Evusheld, older individuals mostly over the age of 75.

              The majority of individuals did not have an effective action plan that was brought to bear so did not get treatment early enough. Griffin feels that a majority of these deaths could be prevented.

              My response:

              Lack of individual action plans my sweet aunt fannie. This state of affairs is another indication of systemic failure of what we laughingly and tragically call our healthcare system.

              1. ChrisRUEcon

                ” … did not have an effective action plan …”

                Translation: You’re on your own

            4. curlydan

              “has anyone asked Fauci or Walensky lately how many of their employees at NIH or CDC or FDA are vaccinated?”

              Could be a good FOIA request. I suspect most agencies must have kept records to some point. I’m not sure if I have the guts to submit it. FYI: FOIA requests often are not free. An federal agency can and will charge for research time. Requesters can specify how much they’re willing to pay.


          2. Jess K

            Re: NY Post Junk.

            Perfect example of how the only officially-acknowledged criticism of US Covid policy is from the right, i.e. advocating an even *more* do-nothing and denialist strategy than the current one. The official debate consists of two sides that fundamentally agree on the mass infection/’live with the virus’ model but bicker over mRNA vaccination vs. natural immunity.

            You’ll even see this in the official “how to counsel patients” guides issued by CDC and other authorities to clinicians: the hypothetical patient who takes Covid *more* seriously than the CDC literally does not exist. There is no script for how to deal with patients concerned about the vaccines’ *inadequacy* or seeking to avoid infection in the first place. It’s just assumed that the only pushback could be from anti-masker, anti-vaxxer patients.

    2. hunkerdown

      Politico is not MSM. Politico is a safe space where lobbyists workshop their moralistic tones and mendacious arguments. It is not for a mainstream audience. Beware of Main Character syndrome!

      1. Thistlebreath

        Owned by Axel Springer. SE that publishes a lot of scandal sheets in Deutschland.

    3. Pelham

      To elaborate on one secondary point, yes, the media are a lying sack of s#$t. But to be fair, note that “the media” are now almost exclusively East Coast entities with an unhealthy concentration of Ivy Leaguers. Cable “news,” the internet and social media have pretty much killed journalism both as an at least semi-respectable profession and as a source of non-PMC perspectives. (There were few enough of these to begin with, but they’re basically non-existent now.)

      Years ago, I worked for a non-East Coast newspaper that for a time had a few foreign correspondents. Truthfully, I can’t say that the stories they filed ever really registered much in Washington or elsewhere. But if you read their stuff, in many, many instances you would have gotten an entirely different perspective on major areas of conflict — at the time in the Middle East and the Balkans.

      As a former journalist, I’m compelled to hang my head in shame over the depths to which the profession has fallen. Broad, easy swipes at “the media” are, unfortunately, justified. But through the mists of time I can recall at least somewhat better times.

    4. GM

      What a surprise — you normalize mass infection and tell people they should be happy with vaccines that have zero VE against infection and near-zero against symptoms, and then there is no demand for vaccines…

      On top of that there is the problem that the vaccine for little kids was approved despite absolutely not meeting the VE requirements — the thing barely works and doesn’t induce much in terms of immunological response. It was approved for political reasons.

      But I highly doubt the parents who are not rushing to vaccinate their kids even know that, they are not doing it for other reasons.

  7. DJG, Reality Czar

    Santissima Maria Ausiliatrice, ora pro nobis. Che melodramma mediatico.

    Giuseppe Conte plays hard ball, and the reaction of the media is stereotypes and panic.

    Conte as leader of the Five Stars (and as one of the most popular politicians in Italy) went to Draghi with a nine-point proposal, all of which consisted of Concrete Real Benefits for the citizenry. Draghi is temporizing and complaining in public. [And La Stampa is quoting the acid-reflux-inducing Jake Sullivan. Santa Maria Ausiliatrice…]

    Heck, it isn’t even clear if Draghi has resigned.

    Here in [undisclosed city] in [undisclosed region], it isn’t as if the streets are thronged with women singing “Vissi d’arte.” Nor are men surrounding the nearby statue of Mazzini to intone “Va’ Pensiero.” Nor has the bronze of Mazzini moved a centimeter on its base (but I will go to check later, caso mai).

    But the coverage surely is operatic, although not up to the standards of Verdi and Puccini.

    Here is what Conte is playing hard ball for (from La Repubblica): “Un documento in nove punti che inizia esprimendo “un profondo disagio politico del Movimento” e che elenca le richieste dei Cinque Stelle al governo per restare nella maggioranza. Il reddito di cittadinanza che non deve essere discusso. Decreto dignità. Salario minimo. Critiche all’abolizione del cashback. Superamento del blocco della cessione dei crediti per il superbonus….”

    This puts Conte well to the left of Bernie Sanders.

    I’m not a big fan of Five Stars, but please, let’s stop pretending that Mario Draghi is indispensable. Obama thinks that of himself, too. As does Boris Johnson (speaking of bogs of turbulent politics…).

    Meanwhile: Honorable Donato (above) is a member of the Lega from Sicilia. Or: The very definition of “Stockholm Syndrome.”

    Un granello di sale, ne

    1. The Rev Kev

      Italy’s Foreign Minister wants people to realize that this is all Putin’s fault-

      (Foreign Minsiter) Di Maio said (ex-PM) Conte’s actions were what “hurts him the most.”

      “The incredible thing is this is an ex-prime minister attacking Draghi, helping Putin’s propaganda and autocracy over democracy,” the minister said.

      The political turmoil spells troubles for Italy itself as well, Di Maio continued, as the potential downfall of the government would jeopardize Rome’s ability to secure new energy contracts ahead of winter.

      “If the government falls on Wednesday, we won’t have the power to sign any new energy contracts and this is serious because we are headed into winter,” the minister explained.

    1. Bugs

      Thanks for this. Really interesting stuff. My dermatologist gave me two doses of Varivax a couple years ago because she thought Shingrix was way too strong. She is a bit of an oddball and is convinced that this vaccine can treat a lot more than just varicella and shingles. She’s done a lot of clinical work in Africa to prove that.

      She also had me cut back on the corticosteroid asthma inhaler as much as possible to build up immunity. Apart from not getting shingles, I’ve noticed I don’t get cold sores on my face anymore, which is a lovely side effect. I’ve done some masters work in microbiology but understanding what she’s working on is way beyond my pay grade. Would be interested in hearing views from the doctors here.

      1. Carla

        No guarantees with the Swiss-cheese approach, but this is the deli we have ;-)

        Shingles is miserable, anyhow.

        1. Screwball

          My significant other had Shingles about 5 years ago. Had it in her forehead and eye. She was down for almost 2 weeks. I thought her eyeball was going to fall our of her head it was so bad. I’ve never been around anyone that sick in my life. It was horrible.

          As soon as we could get the shots we took them. I haven’t had COVID (I think) and neither has she, but she thought she did. Ended up in the emergency room (few months back) with the symptoms, but tested negative. They never could figure out what it was.

          We figured out later this came from a bad batch of JIF peanut butter they ended up recalling. I know two people who got really sick because of that.

          They really are trying to kill us.

          1. curlydan

            The bad thing about shingles is that you can get it multiple times, too. I got it in my early 40s–my first sign that I had a screwed up immune system. I also subsequently had multiple episodes of what I self-diagnosed as “mini-shingles”, i.e. localized nerve pain/itchiness and 1-day fevers that would knock me out of commission for a day or two. So when Shingrix came out, I went on a tear trying to get it.

            I was told by my doctors and everyone else that sorry, you’re not 50 years old. You don’t need the vaccine. Like hell I didn’t. I finally convinced a pharmacy to give me the first shot after my doctor faxed a note to the pharmacy. After getting the shot, I got a call 30 minutes later from the pharmacy, saying, “oops, we made a mistake. The state does not allow us to give you the shot. Only your primary care doctor can give it to you. We can’t give you the second shot.” They DO want to kill us all. I did eventually get the second shot from my primary doctor.

            1. Screwball

              Wow! Good for you, and what a story. Thanks for sharing.

              All I can think is “and they call it healthcare.” My ass!

      2. griffen

        I’m hitting the eligibility age minimum, per the article, late in the year. So excited to line up for the shingles vaccine shots. Said, no one ever.

        However, the shingles disease itself is supposed to be quite nasty.

        1. Kengferno

          I had a mild case a few years ago in my early 50s. Started as an itch in my eyebrow and as the days went on, went up my forehead to the top of my skull. I felt like taking sandpaper to my head to stop the itching. I was out of work for about a week-10 days. Did some work from home at the end so I can’t say for sure how long I was out. I had slight recurring itchies for about 6 months which is very unnerving as you think it’s going to fully come back but it doesn’t.

          My neighbor, an 80+ year old widow, VERY active and healthy, working part time while training show dogs had a horrible case on her shin. Caused nerve damage to her leg which stopped her from walking without assistance. She kept trying however, and eventually fell, breaking her hip and eventually leading to her death.

          I’d avoid shingles if you can get the vax

        2. CGKen

          My brother in law is a firefighter and still practices jujitsu past the age of 50. He says the worst pain he’s ever felt was when he had shingles.

          I’ll be getting the vaccine as soon as eligible.

        3. Laura in So Cal

          Both my husband and I have had shingles in the past. We both describe it as irritating and annoying, but not a big deal as we apparently had mild cases. Like so many other things, it is highly variable to the individual.

          Neither one of us is planning to get the shingles vaccine.

        4. old Jake

          I had the first shingles vaccine several years ago, a few years after an initial bout of the malady. I subsequently got the Shingrix(TM) version but still have had two more rounds of shingles. All bouts of shingles were mild and were treated with acyclovir. But the vaccines don’t appear to have been effective. Just sayin.

      3. Laura in So Cal

        My Mom had to delay getting the covid vaccines by a month because she received the shingles vaccine in Jan 2021. She then got the covid vaccines in Feb/Mar 2021. She caught a super mild case of covid from my Dad who had Delta in September 2021 followed within a couple of weeks by a mild case of shingles so YMMV.

    2. elissa3

      Got the shingrix shots in September and November, 2021. One J & J covid shot in April, 2021 (and that’s it for me). So far no covid, unless totally asymptomatic. And our preventative measures have been pretty mediocre–shopping w/out mask, occasional (but less frequent) dining and entertainment. FWIW, the second shingrix shot laid me low for 24 hours. Chills, utter fatigue, a headache. But given my risk/benefit analysis, I’d do it again.

    3. Wukchumni

      I had my first Shingles shot in April 2020 and my pharmacist asked me, ‘hey what are you doing tomorrow?’ and I said nothing, and he uttered ‘good, it knocked me out the day after when I had my shot last year’ and I really felt nothing the next day and the following day went on a 35 mile backpack, which was not a good idea as it turned out, since the 2nd day after left me listless, and i’ve never struggled as much in light flyweight lifting as it turned out over 10 miles, and the next day was a struggle too, but I persevered, wasn’t like I could call a helicopter Uber to come fetch. I had the 2nd Shingles shot a couple months later which wasn’t eventful.

      7 out of 10 of the dartful codgers in my over the hill ski group caught Covid in early January 2022 including yours truly, so i’m not so sure about the Shingles shot was all that as far as it protecting me from the pandemic, but glad to have had the Shingles vaccine, as my aunt up in Canada had it go into her eye, which was way painful.

    4. Tangled up in Texas

      Carla, a friend had both her shingle shots and has also had Covid. She has also had a Covid shot and two boosters.

  8. digi_owl

    I seem to recall USA turning command economy once war was officially declared during WW2. Either you made your company available to produce military goods, or they would send someone in uniform to take over operations.

    And i think Kremlin had another problem, paranoia. They were even more paranoid about DC, than DC was about Kremlin. End result was that they could never quite let themselves leave enough resources to domestic consumption, further playing into the hands of the managerial class that could make something fall of the back of lorries or wrongfully marked as faulty.

    The perfect example of that, late in the era, was the Able Archer 83 incident. Where some last minute changes on the NATO forces partaking in the exercise make Kremlin mobilize for a potential NATO first strike.

    And on a different note, the comment about maybe putting music on Rico munching corn made me think of the story the other day about Gaiman translating Princess Mononoke. And how Disney/Miramax contemplated putting sound effects or music on top of various quiet moment in the movie. Makes me wonder if the US lead western mind can’t abide quiet.

    1. hunkerdown

      Try reversing the causality: television is noisy to normalize noise, generate a public expectation of stimulation, and diminish people’s power to see and construe the world accurately.

      Neoliberals can’t abide quiet. Philip Mirowski’s 2019 INET keynote explains how gratuitous, futile noise rebranded as conversation and debate was a key enabler of neoliberalism’s rise.

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        Examine section 6, beginning on page 32 of the document you referenced “The Neoliberal campaign of ‘Open science'” — I believe it gives a horrible twist to efforts to “follow the science” in dealing with the Corona pandemic or Climate Chaos, or other issues where “follow the science” has become a mantra.

    2. David

      The lesson the Soviet Union drew from WW2 was that they had been surprised, and they had not been powerful enough to deter aggression. They concluded from this that they needed to have armed forces which were so large, so powerful, deployed so far forward and on such a high state of readiness, that no-one would dare attack them. If somebody did look as though they were going to attack, they wanted to get their blow in first.

      This meant total mobilisation of the economy for war, and an absolute priority given to defence. This fact (not really appreciated at the time) made a lot of the arguments about the Soviet Defence Budget in the 1980s pointless: there wasn’t one, the military just took what they wanted. Whilst, as we’ve discussed in the past, there was competition between design bureaux for contracts for major systems, there was nothing really like the competitive tendering system used in the West. All the major combatants in WW2 had to do this to some extent, the difference is really that, after the War, the Soviet system carried on doing essentially the same thing. One of the by-products was the development of an enormous and very large-scale design and production capability for complex technological projects, which they have largely retained, and the West has largely lost. (It’s doubtful if any western country now has the capability to manage a really big technological programme.)

      Given their history, it’s not surprising the Russians were paranoid, and the opening of the Soviet and WP archives in the 90s revealed the extent to which the leadership was terrified of an attack. Although the whole Able Archer thing has been exaggerated, I do remember talking to people who were involved in it at the time, and who felt that it was a stupid and provocative thing to do as an exercise. But after all, in the words of the famous James Baker “the Russians know that we’re not going to attack them,” so nobody bothered to ask what the Russians actually thought.

      1. hk

        At least in his memoirs, Reagan says that he was very surprised when he was briefed on the Soviet reaction to Able Archer by defectors like former KGB station chief in London (and double agent) Oleg Gordievsky and that was a major motive for his seeking engagement with the Soviets after this episode (Admittedly, who knows if this is true, or even Reagan actually wrote/dictated/informed this). If so, that would have been one of more enduring qualities that Reagan had (and certainly, moments like this won the affection he got from much of middle America), as that would have been the common reaction from vast majority of regular Americans, even if the FP/Intel elite would not have thought thus.

      2. Chris A

        David I think you’re mistaken. Hitler made it very clear in his book that he intended on taking Large parts of the Soviet Union and killing or subjugating all of the Slavic people. I seriously doubt this escape the attention of the Soviet leadership. It also would seem that the Russians were preparing for war And they tried to get Britain and France to join them in attacking Hitler which the Western powers did not want to do.

        David Glantz is a good place to start.

        1. David

          Er, yes, that’s what I thought I said. And indeed the Germans partly succeeded with General Plan East. See for example Mark Mazower, Richard Overy etc.
          The trouble is the West forgot that, if they ever realised it.

      3. vao

        It’s doubtful if any western country now has the capability to manage a really big technological programme.

        In the case of European countries, I already argued that they will simply not be able to come up with a new generation of working main systems (fighter aircraft, battletanks, nuclear-powered aircraft carriers) with up-to-date specs.

        The last time they actually designed such weaponry, Gorbachev was in power; a full generation (33 years) has passed, therefore a large part of the development know-how, technical skills and industrial basis has simply faded away without ever being transmitted, renewed and practiced.

  9. The Rev Kev

    “China Studies Ending Australia Coal Ban on Supply Fear”

    I’m surprised that the Chinese just don’t adopt the EU solution to their shortage of Russian oil. Russian oil went to India where the Indians refined all the Russian-ness out of that oil and sent it on to the EU for a marked-up price. So Oz could just send extra coal to India who would wash it and then sell it to China as Indian-grade coal. As it is, a deal may be set up but then Biden could make a phone call to Canberra to nix the whole deal.

  10. simjam

    Attention NC editor: “I know Tulsi has baggage but no one else is making clear and urgent statements like this:” etc
    What exactly is her “baggage”? She seems on target in the things she says? Please explain, thanks.

    1. Mark Gisleson

      If I may? I like Gabbard a lot but before I start sending her checks there are two basic areas of her past and present I need to know more about.

      Tulsi Gabbard grew up in a religious cult that we really don’t know much about. It seems to have been benign and she seems to have left it when she came of age. I for one would like to know much, much more about this.

      At present, Gabbard’s “family,” the people she most relies on, are mostly a mystery and most seem to have a background in the religious cult Gabbard grew up in. This too, I would I like to know more about.

      And maybe a better grasp of how she really views Modi but — speaking as an American — I care less about India than I do the cult stuff.

      I hope this answers your question while being acceptable to the moderators. Tulsi’s a great gal and assuming she gets her close-up and passes, would make a great President.

      1. Milton

        No. The baggage she apparently has to burden results from her questioning US imperialism–more specifically, her criticism of this country’s policy in Syria. That alone made her a candidate nongrata during the primaries and resulted in having her labeled a lunatic fringe.

        1. hunkerdown

          No, the baggage we’re talking about is her involvement in religion, both Hindutva and global capitalism. Performative intrigue is irrelevant. Any contact with global capitalist authority is evidence of an inclination to serve the global bourgeoisie at the expense of the working class, and IMO is an absolute disqualifier.

          1. Milton

            Lots of fancy words and phrasing–indicative of an advanced degree from some credentialed institution–but for those of us living in flyover states of mind, Tulsi’s religious views never entered into any of our discussions. Though her economic positions were pedestrian Repub., what excited us was here confronting the PTB on forever wars and militaristic policing at home. Her takedown of Harris in the primary debates was also a sin that would never be absolved. Religious baggage? Bullshit!

          2. Skip Intro

            That’s just an outdated idpol smear hyped up to cancel her in the eyes of democrats who weren’t scared off by the Assad-baiting. Guess there are still pockets resurfacing… like Obama’s birth certificate.

        2. K.k

          I think calling her some anti imperialist is a stretch. What was the “war on terror” if not imperial adventurism? She is a self proclaimed hawk on that matter. Her views or as she projects them are pretty ugly when it comes to Islam in general.

          “Tulsi Gabbard’s Deceptive Foreign Policy”

          1. Dr. John Carpenter

            Second on this. Anyone thinking she’s anti-imperialist has a mistaken impression. She’s not exactly anti-war either. I do appreciate that no one else is saying what she is but I think were she some how or some way to become president, many people would be confused and angry by what they get.

      2. Oh

        She was born a Hindu and AFAIK she didn’t belong to any cult. I think she’d make a good President. This nonsense about her baggage is just to marginalize her.

        1. Michael Ismoe

          No, not really. Her religious beliefs are important to me. I am not ashamed to admit I won’t vote for people who have wacky religious beliefs because they think that God speaks to them. I won’t vote for more Mormons or “practicing Catholics” to hold elective office since they seem to have real issues with separation of church and state. I may be a bigot but, sorry, Tulsi’s beliefs matter to me and Thanks, but no thanks.

          1. Tom Stone

            Religion has an undue influence on policies at times, I’d also like to know more about Ms Gabbard’s past and current religious affiliations.
            Just as I would about any other candidate, because religious nuts are really dangerous.
            I would never vote for any religious leader running for political office no matter what “Faith” they professed.

      3. Carolinian

        I thought the “baggage” was that she had made statements in the past that gays claimed were homophobic. Also the people at Counterpunch don’t like her military background and past statements endorsing at least some of that military’s goals.

        I, on the other hand, say if you want to get anything done you need a politician who inspires trust and that Tulsi has the personality to deliver. Plus enough with the gerontocracy already. Time to ditch these ancient grifters for a different generation that has more of a stake in the future.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          She’s the only major pol regularly and articulately calling out our imperial/militaristic foreign policy. But she’s a Modi fan and her views on economics appear to be pretty neoliberal.

          1. jonboinAR

            Good summation. I wish I had a politician with views superior to Tulsi’s to follow, but I don’t, so,on the national stage, I’m a Tulsi boy. Espousing an anti-imperialist point of view goes a long way with me, a long way. It made me a Ron Paul follower briefly, once. Also, knocking Kamala off her perch, man, that was a blast, though just entertainment.

          2. Skip Intro

            But she’s also a Bernie fan, who quit the DNC Vice Chair gig to support him. How do we infer ideology from association, especially with a prominent Hindu US Representative running for president, who would not be particularly well-advised to pick fights with nominally respected world leaders, particularly when she won’t pick fights with nominally evil world leaders.

            Because she actually served in the military, she has a credibility across the spectrum, that lets her say things about our dumb military engagements ( and there are so many to choose from) that are otherwise banished, and she has, or had the platform to say them, and does.

          3. Bugs

            She’s also “anti-woke” to where it sounds like she approves discriminating against trans people. That’s my big turn off with her. I get that woke is a joke but people are people.

    2. wol

      IIRC, there were questions about her position on health care. I’d like to know more as well. Her takedown of Kamala in the debate was epic.

      1. playon

        Yes it was – yet here is Harris, a heartbeat away from running the whole show. I shudder at the prospect.

          1. JBird4049

            >>>Can Harris be any worse than Biden? I don’t think so.

            I don’t know about that as President Biden seems to have a soul somewhere in his body, whereas Her Kamalaness seems to be more of a real life version of Chucky the Doll whose only true satisfaction seems to be in hurting others. So, do you want a doddering husk that still has a soul, maybe even the remnants of a conscience too, or Chucky with the hyena laugh in the Oval Office? Let’s not forget that VP Harris only desires seem to be not working hard or looking like a fool. Decisions, decisions…

          2. griffen

            As bad as things have gotten to this point, a mere 18 months after January 2021, under a doddering Biden administration, it can get worse from here.

            Let’s just not tempt that fate quite yet. The suggestion of a dead betting pool was mentioned recently, but only Feinstein merited a mention (at least for serving US congress persons, etc…)

          3. drumlin woodchuckles

            A G Harris of California went out of her way to immunise and impunify Steve Mnuchin for his possible financial crimes in California. If she becomes President, the black hat FIRE sector perpetrators will crash the financial system again confident that she will immunise and impunify them just like Obama did. Is that worse than Biden? Its certainly not better.

    3. marym

      I’m not an editor or close follower of Gabbord’s career. My impressions:

      I don’t know much about her time in Congress . I think she was somewhat of a leftish Democrat (supported M4A). Ballotpedia has a summary 2020 presidential candidate positions on issuesn at the time.,_2020#Presidential_candidates_on_the_issues

      Currently she’s just a media pundit who speaks out on a few issues. One of her websites says nothing about these or any other issues, except do war better. It links to a fund raising website, with a brief, generic mention of issues. Other than speaking at a few right wing events, she doesn’t seem to endorse any candidates, organizations, or activist movements.

  11. simjam

    Attention NC editor: “I know Tulsi has baggage, but no one else is making clear and urgent statements like this:” etc
    What exactly is her “baggage”? She seems on target in the things she says? Please explain, thanks.

    1. flora

      I’m not an editor. This is just my take.

      She is a WEF “Young Global Leader”, or was, or still is? Hard to tell. WEF keeps “editing” their site. This article is from this March, 2022. / ;)

      Why was Tulsi Gabbard scrubbed from the World Economic Forum website this month?

      This from Wikispooks:

      You can take these for whatever they’re worth.

      1. Screwball

        I don’t know how Tulsi would be in a position of power, but when Mitt Romney, Kamala Harris, Hillary Clinton and the liberal MSM all hate her – what’s not to like?

        She says a lot of good things about regime change wars, bio-labs, etc., but I’m not sure she is ready for prime time.

        My PMC friends hate her too. Thinks she’s a Putin puppet and an Assad ass kisser, but my PMC friends hate just about everyone. All you have to do is go on FOX news and they hate them. Tulsi, Greenwald, Taibbi, Mate are all toxic scumbags to the PMC.

        I would be kind of funny if she became the VP pick for the GOP nominee (since she sure doesn’t fit in the war-monger democratic party) and the Ds don’t want her anyway. So a DeSantis/Gabbard vs. Hillary/Mayo Pete ticket would be fun. And they would smoke Hills and the robot, which would, I hope, finally drive a stake though the wicked witch of self enrichment.

    2. Craig H.

      She has made statements one or two (or maybe three) times in her entire life questioning the devotion of Washington to Israel.

      This “baggage” weighs approximately 300 milligrams if you ask me. Nobody has ever asked me.

    3. Katniss Everdeen

      She goes on Fox. She talks to Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham. You can’t do that. Something to do with Trump. I think she had a meeting with Trump once when he was president. You can’t do that either.

      She seems be willing to do a lot of things you can’t do.

    4. Chris Smith

      The trick is to say she has “baggage,” never really explain what the baggage is, and watch people just sort of nod along with the “she has baggage” meme without stopping to think. There is no “baggage.”

      At best, there is her connection to more conservative Hinduva elements of India’s BJP. However, most people who bring this up to me tend not to really care about Hinduva except as a way to slam Gabbard, and if you question them, turn out not to know anything about Hinduva except that it is “bad, m’kay” and Gabbard is somehow involved.

    5. AndrewJ

      I followed her Instagram for a few months, and she’s got a streak of Christian fundamentalism a mile wide. She says the right things about globalism and imperialism, but I have zero faith her leadership wouldn’t be of the aggressively Christian variety. As an atheist and humanist, I found myself plenty disturbed.

      1. Wukchumni

        We need somebody with no religious bonafides to lead us, ideally a pantheist.

        It isn’t as if anybody who isn’t an evang is going to get their 25% of voting bloc overall, so who cares about the ersatz history majors specializing in a tiny range of time and what they think?

        Tulsi is disqualified, that dogma won’t hunt.

      1. Mark Gisleson

        Great article that I would love to see it spark some serious investigative journalism to confirm some of the details.

        I don’t have a problem with Gabbard having grown up in a cult environment (not Hindu, this was in fact something else). That’s not disqualifying. What would be disqualifying is learning that she still holds cult (not Hindu) beliefs, or that cult members play key roles in her political organization.

        What I am hoping to learn is that Tulsi survived her cult experience and became a hard-headed realist as a result. I swear half the socialists I’ve met grew up Republican, and the best atheists seem to come from religious stock.

        The question is: who is Tulsi Gabbard? I for one would like to know more.

  12. The Rev Kev

    Looking at that image of Cookie (with white) and Niblet, I suspect that they have their owner very well trained by now. :)

    1. malchats

      First, thanks to Yves for featuring my Cookie and Niblet.

      As for them having me trained, I only just adopted them beginning of May, and it’s a constant tug of war. Of course I’m destined to lose…

      There’s a reason I use malchats (French, “bad cats”) for my screen name!


      1. The Rev Kev

        You think that you own a cat until the day comes when you realize that you are actually their staff.

      1. digi_owl

        One may speculate that these RNA vaccines are targeting too narrow a trigger, vs those built on neutered viruses. Thus the immune response is overfitted (to borrow from machine learning), making it easier for the virus to evolve around it.

        End result is that the vaccines do not produce the kind of “herd immunity” that was expected, and so here we are.

        Another problem is perhaps that a vaccinated person may only feel something akin to a strong cold upon a new infection, and thus be reluctant to call in sick for a few days to curtail the spread. but that is enough to pass it on to others also vaccinated, until it hits someone that either isn’t, or have a weaker immune system, and thus get a bigger reaction that require hospitalization.

        In the end though it comes down to governments putting the economy ahead of the people, and thus being reluctant to implement effective measures when an outbreak is found.

        1. LifelongLib

          A few commenters here have noted that attempts to develop vaccines for the common cold (also caused by covid viruses) had similar issues to the covid-19 ones (immunity faded after a few months, new forms of the virus reinfected people). So it looks like vaccines in general don’t work well against covid viruses over the longer term.

  13. The Rev Kev

    “Remembering Richard Taruskin, a writer who made you care about 1,000 years of music”

    Never heard the name Richard Taruskin before so when I checked, found that ‘He is best known for his monumental survey of Western classical music, the six-volume Oxford History of Western Music.’ I found it odd though that this article never mentions what could be termed folk music but concentrates on what you could call high-status music. Another oddity was when I asked Google for the different types of music there were and it came back with the answer Pop, Funk, Classical, Techno, Country and Rock. Not even close that. So I was wondering just how many types of music there are in the world. So you would have western music, African music, Arabic music, Asian music and to tell you the truth, I don’t know how many types there are. Certainly these major groupings would break down into regional types of music along with different strata in each type (So western music would contain classic, popular, folk, etc.) but I do wonder how many major regional groups of music there would be.

    1. Petter

      That’s a good question. Linguists investigate languages and language groups (doesn’t India have more than two hundred languages?) and would assume musicologists are doing the same.

    2. hk

      What makes things more complicated that different societies came up with quite different versions of music that supposedly belong to the same genre. European jazz, Korean hip hop, Japanese ska, etc. are all noticeably different even if broadly similar, to their American (broadly defined) cousins, for example.

    3. playon

      Every culture certainly has its own folk or indigenous music. Folk music is perhaps pesky to to the ruling classes because it’s actually of the people. Many classical composers simply took folk melodies and proceeded to write musical variations of them.

  14. vao

    A few small complements to the Uniper story.

    Uniper is the largest importer and distributor of gas in Germany.

    a) Just like Gazprom Germania, it has been squeezed by a discrepancy between the massively increased prices of gas (the cheap Russian gas no longer being available in the quantities needed), and its contractual obligations at old conditions.

    b) It is losing €20M per day. It already had to book a €3B loss in 1Q2022 after writing off its share in Nordstream 2 and in its subsidiary Unipro in Russia.

    c) It is asking a cash infusion similar to the one granted to GG — about €9B.

    With the complete (temporary) stop of gas flows via Nordstream 1, filling gas tanks in Germany has stalled, but the Bundesnetzagentur had already been warning for a couple of weeks that the objective of 90% fill level by November was looking improbable anyway. They are currently 64.6% full.

    Early this month, Austria took control of another giant gas storage facility (in Haidach) from a Gazprom subsidiary — just after enacting a new law allowing the government to reapportion the utilization of empty tanks amongst other gas providers.

    d) There are actually two storage facilities from different subsidiaries of Gazprom in Haidach: one from Astora — already under governmental control because it is a subsidiary of Gazprom Germania; and one from GSA (a subsidiary of Gazprom itself) — which the Austrian government now hopes that other firms will fill up.

    e) Those storage tanks help Austria, but indirectly: they are only connected to the German (Bavarian) gas network, and a couple of Austrian regions (Tirol, Vorarlberg) are themselves linked to and supplied by the Bavarian network. The Austrian government hopes that a bilateral agreement (to be negotiated) will make it easier to coordinate the replenishment of the tanks, make possible their their direct utilization for Austrian needs, and that the necessary infrastructure will be built quickly.

    f) Overall, Austria has a similar problem as Germany: its gas tanks are not filling up fast enough — in fact, the rate had been slowing down before Nordstream 1 was switched off; they are now 49% full.

    However, this fill rate correspond to much different prospects: Austrian tanks can store the equivalent of 95 TWh — one year of national consumption; German tanks can store 256 TWh — about 3 months of consumption. In any case, Austria has already invoked level 1 of its “Notfallplan Gasversorgung”.

    Let us conclude with another German-speaking country — Switzerland (which has largely followed the EU regarding sanctions against Russia).

    g) Switzerland does not have any significant gas tank capacity: 6 small facilities storing about 2.7M m3 — compared to 17.4B m3 in Italy and 19.2B m3 in Germany.

    h) For gas storage, it therefore relies upon its neighbours, especially France. In March, the Swiss government asked the gas industry to reserve sufficient storage amongst neighbouring countries for a total of 6 TWh. At the end of June, 3.8 TWh had been achieved.

    i) Those 6 TWh only represent 15% of the yearly national consumption (about 35 TWh), so the plan included acquiring options for the delivery of additional 6 TWh of non-Russian gas in winter. Those options are supposed to be callable at short notice.

    j) That is where a problem popped up, as reserving storage capacity and acquiring those options in a coordinated manner (as explicitly urged by the government) clashed with laws prohibiting arrangements between market competitors. Despite assurances by the government that these would be exceptionally allowed, the industry and the Swiss competition watchdog (WEKO) have been trading barbs about who is responsible for the sluggish implementation of the plan to secure gas supplies.

    k) The Swiss government has also set up a commission to investigate the construction of gas storage facilities in Switzerland. A first feasibility appraisal is to be delivered in August.

    If you are interested in delving into the status of gas storage in Europe, by country and even by individual facility, including statistics of replenishment and depletion rates, differentiating between natural gas and LNG, there is a WWW-site for that.

    1. RobertC

      vao — thanks for the analysis with hard numbers and for the link. EU minds don’t seem to be focused quite yet. But winter is coming…

    2. kareninca

      Oh, that is a very interesting explanation, especially the part about how much different countries can store. It would not have occurred to me that Germany could only store three month’s worth. So they only have 64.6 percent of three months worth on hand at this point? So they only have about two months worth, securely in tanks? That is not very much at all. If I am understanding this right, Germany is in a lot more perilous situation than I had thought. I have seen the 64 percent figure in a number of places, and I had assumed it was 64 percent of something like a year’s worth.

      1. vao

        The situation is even worse since gas consumption exhibits enormous seasonal variations. So those 2 months net reserves are for the average consumption during a year, but correspond to something like 1 month consumption in winter, while Austria with its approximately 6 months yearly average consumption might already have reserves equivalent to 3 months winter usage.

        Switzerland has basically no reserves of its own, the few small tanks on its territory essentially serve as buffers to smoothen the inevitable variations in weekly/monthly consumption/deliveries in its gas network.

        1. jsn

          I look at good analysis like this, the incredibly fragile conditions it highlights and assume it’s a fair proxy for digital fragility.

          This is what happens in a year of significant natural gas disruption. What happens in a week or month of comparable digital disruption.

          I expect we’ll find out soon enough.

        2. kareninca

          Ha, and here I was assuming that those two months of stored fuel that Germany has, were two months of “high use” worth. And when I read (what you wrote) that Austria had six month’s worth on hand, I thought “oh, they could get through the winter”, since again I was assuming that it was six months of heavy use worth.

          It is strange what assumptions I have been making; I guess it seems incredible to me that they could actually have so little on hand (in tank). Can the German government not calculate? Is this magical thinking? How can they think this will work????

          The money part is almost irrelevant (though interesting). The “physical” part is very scary. And then, are Americans going to be shipping their own gas off to try to remedy this (to the limited extent physically possible)? So our prices will go up like crazy? But maybe our inability to ship much will help our population.

          1. vao

            are Americans going to be shipping their own gas off to try to remedy this (to the limited extent physically possible)?

            Whatever, but it cannot be sent to Germany, since this country has no infrastructure — none whatsoever — to download LNG from ships, store it in tanks, and feed it into the national gas network.

            No worry, the Bundesnetzagentur has initiated a procedure to specify the laws regulating the access to a future German LNG infrastructure. It is now making enquiries amongst the relevant parties; these consultations are to be completed by the 26th July.

  15. The Rev Kev

    “Production in Russian manufacturing could drop 6% in 2022 despite growth in defense sector – Manturov”

    To put it into context, the sanctions levied on Russia back in February were supposed to drop the Russian GDP by about 60% but which obviously it didn’t. So a 6% drop on manufacturing may not be good but as they are at the start of re-configuring their economy, it is hard to see how this plays out until another year or two goes by.

  16. fresno dan

    I read this article and I thought it provided some good insights about learning from history. I had never read anything about what is wrong with learning from history.
    The second argument against reading history is even more harsh. The argument is that accountings of history are not accurate, and can never be accurate, thanks to the narrative fallacy. By its nature, narrative necessarily compresses reality into some coherent tale, meaning that accountings of history tend to overemphasise intention and action, instead of the more plausible ‘random actions by actors in a complex adaptive system, conspiring to create unexpected results’. This is a roundabout way of saying that whatever histories you read are most likely wrong — and not even a good representation of reality.

    1. jsn

      Science is always wrong too.

      No map will ever be the territory, but they can be pretty useful.

      Ignorance, of course, is its own justification.

    2. Late Introvert

      I don’t think it lessens my enjoyment of history that it is just one tiny piece of a huge unknowable puzzle/object that splits off into infinite directions, for all practical purposes.

      I read Thucydides because of this blog, and it was not just fun but brain bending to realize how nothing has really changed. Alcibiades was also not the first of his kind, I’m sure.

      And from another book I found on NC, The Immortality Key by Brian Muraresku – he asserts that Alcibiades was put into exile because he was serving pychedelic beer at his home, illegally. Only the high priestesses at the Mysteries were allowed to do that.

      I like to read history like it’s poetry, and I find it more compelling.

  17. DJG, Reality Czar

    Santissima Maria Ausiliatrice, ora pro nobis. Che melodramma mediatico.

    Giuseppe Conte plays hard ball, and the reaction of the media is stereotypes and panic.

    Conte as leader of the Five Stars (and as one of the most popular politicians in Italy) went to Draghi with a nine-point proposal, all of which consisted of Concrete Real Benefits for the citizenry. Draghi is temporizing and complaining in public. [And La Stampa is quoting the acid-reflux-inducing Jake Sullivan. Santa Maria Ausiliatrice…]

    Heck, it isn’t even clear if Draghi has resigned.

    Here in [undisclosed city] in [undisclosed region], it isn’t as if the streets are thronged with women singing “Vissi d’arte.” Nor are men surrounding the nearby statue of Mazzini to intone “Va’ Pensiero.” Nor has the bronze of Mazzini moved a centimeter on its base (but I will go to check later, caso mai).

    But the coverage surely is operatic, although not up to the standards of Verdi and Puccini.

    Here is what Conte is playing hard ball for (from La Repubblica): “Un documento in nove punti che inizia esprimendo “un profondo disagio politico del Movimento” e che elenca le richieste dei Cinque Stelle al governo per restare nella maggioranza. Il reddito di cittadinanza che non deve essere discusso. Decreto dignità. Salario minimo. Critiche all’abolizione del cashback. Superamento del blocco della cessione dei crediti per il superbonus….”

    This puts Conte well to the left of Bernie Sanders.

    I’m not a big fan of Five Stars, but please, let’s stop pretending that Mario Draghi is indispensable. Obama thinks that of himself, too. As does Boris Johnson (speaking of bogs of turbulent politics…).

    Meanwhile: Honorable Donato (above) is a member of the Lega from Sicilia. Or: The very definition of “Stockholm Syndrome.”

    Un granello di sale, ne

    1. DJG, Reality Czar

      I posted this set of observations earlier, and when it clicked, it went off into the metaverse.

      So if this is a duplicate of the comments, I ask for indulgence. (Plenary, please.)

    1. griffen

      That is most unfortunate, and quite surprising. The park is on my list of places to visit, when leisure time meets the optimal time for retirement. Or, I just fudge it and chose to retire a few hot minutes before death.

      These water concerns and lowered lake levels are a growing issue. Caught a short bit on a broadcast news, no less, about the Great Salt Lake as well.

    2. Carolinian

      Thanks for the link.

      The main culprit is water extraction to serve major cities and agriculture, which makes the river extremely sensitive to drought. Neither Rocky Mountain snowmelt or rainfall from New Mexico have flowed through this section of the river for more than 100 years, since dams upriver save that water for irrigation in the high desert of New Mexico.

      I’ve been to Big Bend which in itself is an accomplishment given how remote the park is. Our uncle took my brother and I on the way to one of his many trips to Mexico. It was beautiful, and very hot.

  18. bwill123

    On Ukraine.
    “The main trick of the special operation of the Russian Federation was revealed by the Ukrainian politician and journalist Dmitry Vasilets, noting that with their unhurried advancement, the (Russian) allied forces most effectively implement the process of demilitarisation not only of Ukraine, but of the entire collective West. He said:

    “The Russian army took some tactical pause to regroup before the attack on Slavyansk. Even in the West, many have already concluded that this is far from a traditional war. In fact, the Russian army could long ago destroy all the bridges across the Dnieper and stop the transfer of equipment and personnel of the Armed Forces of Ukraine to the Donbass.

    “We see a slow advance in the Donbass and near Kharkov, which is due to the fact that the army saves its forces as much as possible, giving the enemy even time and the opportunity to bring up reserves and thus destroying the entire military potential of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.”

    …“For many years, Kyiv’s “partners” exported all its resources out of the country, but now they are only forced to inject huge amounts of money without receiving anything in return. This is a death trap for the US and its satellites.”

    …”The sanctions war is hurting the American economy. At the same time, the United States needs to fully support Ukraine, even paying the salaries of the entire state apparatus, and soon it will also need to support the declining economy of the European Union in order to keep the already shaky anti-Russian coalition under control.”

    “The Americans simply will not pull out a long war in such conditions, but, in theory, they also cannot retreat, at least without serious geopolitical losses. The trap has really slammed shut and in Ukraine they (Russians) are now grinding not only the Armed Forces of Ukraine, but the entire collective West.”

    1. digi_owl

      DC thought they could pull another 80s Afghanistan, but got locked into a economic quagmire judo style. That is unless their real hope is to destabilize EU.

    2. The Rev Kev

      That is a very interesting take that. In a way, Russia has placed the US and the other western nations into their own economic/military “Cauldrons” with the heat steadily being turned up. I’ll have to think about that idea. I have heard that the military of some countries are not happy that their armaments are being stripped out and being sent to the Ukraine. I think that the French military was very unhappy to see a third of their gear gone east made worse by the fact that the Russians purchased two Caesar artillery units from the Ukrainians for technical analysis back in Russia itslef.

    3. VietnamVet

      “Demilitarization not only of Ukraine, but of the entire collective West” is a very explicit and dangerous war goal for the Russia Federation. If not, then the only other alternative is that the Kremlin didn’t have a clue when they dashed towards Kiev and got trapped into an industrial war of attrition. Either case, a nuclear war is inevitable unless someone backs down soon.

      Antony Blinken and Jake Sullivan both look distraught. It is not just attending super spreader events and associates catching COVID. Unless they are totally crazy, they must realize what they have wrought. The neoliberal trade organizations and the neoliberal Western Empire could take down Greece without needing the Wehrmacht, but they can’t dominate Russia/China/Iran. Neoliberalism can’t mobilize nations – working governments have been flushed down the toilet in the West. The new Axis has the energy supplies and the industries to disengage from Western financial system. Then like Sri Lanka, the bills will come due for Europe and North America.

      The only hope for a future for human beings on earth is the restoration of democratic national governments, equality, a debt jubilee, and peace.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        I have been not letting through over half of your comments, because, like this one here, you are Making Shit Up. If this continues, I will have to blacklist you.

        It has never been a goal of Russia to “demilitarize” anybody other than Ukraine. The fact that NATO was so badly prepared for the conflict in Ukraine they sought (see RAND among others recommending using Ukraine to destabilize Russia) that they’ve now run down their weapons caches was an unintended side effect.

        Putin has been entirely consistent since his 2007 speech to the Munich Security Conference, and he was likely saying similarly things one on one and not being heard. He said the West needed to recognize that the world was multilateral and that there needed to be a new security architecture in Europe reflecting the idea that if one country was insecure, no one was secure.

        See here:

        Or here for a transcript, including the Q&A, which I highly recommend.

        1. Lamovr Ouvray

          See Bwill123’s comment. Vvet did not make shit up. Seemed like a legitimate comment on a comment.

  19. ProNewerDeal

    I read here on NC that protein subunit vaccine Novavax was approved by the FDA.

    Does the NC Covid Brain Trust have any take on Novavax. In particular, taking Novavax after having taken the Johnson shot 14 months ago?

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      We don’t give medical advice. But I am in a similar position to you. And I am considering Novavax. Older technology, in theory less problematic.

      The general theory is mixing and matching vaccines should produce better immunity, but the flip side is 14 months is so long ago that you have no immunity left.

      1. GM

        Novavax has an advantage that wasn’t understood early on in that it includes the S2, and apparently that produces broader antibodies somehow. So it is doing better than the others against Omicron.

        It doesn’t means it’s doing great as the Cuban vaccine, which was actually updated, seems to be. It does, however, produce better titers than the mRNA vaccines, so that should translate into better protection.

        But of course the rush to declare the pandemic “over” was so great that the first thing out the gate was declared the “winner” instead of waiting a bit to see which approach actually works the best and then investing in that.

        This is aside from the larger issue, which is that nobody outside of the trials should ever have needed to be vaccinated, the vaccine came about 10 months after the problem became really serious, which is much much much longer than it should have taken to contain it with NPIs.

    2. PlutoniumKun

      Here in Europe, Novavax (Novaxovid) has not been fully approved yet by the European Medicines Agency, but is being widely used under emergency authorisation.

      The Irish health agency (HSE) is not actively promoting it, but is not discouraging its use as a booster shot (note from the attached document how they are dancing around the topic of people reacting badly to RNA shots).

      From what I’ve heard, the Irish agency will be allowing pharmacies to give Novavax shots with this years flu vaccine when its available, probably around September. Its too late for the summer rounds of BA.5 (already peaking here), but may provide better protection going into the winter. With the disclaimer that I’m not a medical professional, from my current perspective I will not accept another RNA booster shot (I’m on 3 shots), but I think Novavax offers a better alternative for most of us going forward and my current thinking is that I will get it with the flu shot.

      I would normally preface the above comment with ‘you should consult with your doctor’, but as we all know, our public health authorities have been so inept you are very lucky if you have a doctor who is fully informed of the current science.

  20. spud

    the article on india begging corporations(THE W.T.O.)to let them export food to starving nations is a classic example of why free trade is nothing more than fascism.

    india would bypass the markets, something that sends fascists bouncing off of the walls.

    thanks god america got Truman who kept the world free with GATT till Bill Clinton came along.

  21. Hibike

    This is the link to the US Ukraine Embassy statement suggesting all US citizens leave Ukraine. It is specifically to do with the recent missile attack on VINNYTSIA.

    The U.S. Embassy urges U.S. citizens not to enter Ukraine and those in Ukraine to depart immediately using privately available ground transportation options if it is safe to do so. Avoid large gatherings and organized events as they may serve as Russian military targets anywhere in Ukraine, including its western regions.

    1. The Rev Kev

      The Russians claim that they were targeting a meeting in Vinnytsia between Ukrainian officials/officers and foreign representatives of arms manufactures and the like to get more fighting gear into the Ukraine. So what if some of those foreign company representatives were American which led to that order? Targeting American mercenaries, spooks, military advisors is one thing. Targeting civilians from the arms industry is the Russians really taking their gloves off. Maybe the CIA HQ in the Ukraine has also realized that they can now be a target with this change of rules and may expect a visit from Mr. Kalibr.

      1. Late Introvert

        The wing of DC that even Truman regretted, that has never been accountable to the Citizens of the US as it wreaked havoc on leftist governments while smuggling dope and NAZI scientists? The one that offed JFK? That CIA?

        Boy, I hope not. That would be terrible! USA! USA!

        1. spud

          “As the nation’s top diplomat, John Foster established implacable hostility toward the communist bloc as an unshakable tenet of U.S. foreign policy. And for him, even worse than the communists were the “neutralists” who “immorally” refrained from picking sides in the Cold War. These neutralists were even more of a threat because they threatened to defuse what he saw as a necessary conflict. Thus he framed the diverse anti-colonial independence movement sweeping the third world after World War II as little more than a communist plot.

          It was Allen’s CIA that gave teeth to his brother’s policy. Allen completed the transformation of the agency from the intelligence clearinghouse envisioned by President Harry Truman to the clandestine paramilitary force that it is today. This transition was deliberately enabled by President Dwight D. Eisenhower who saw covert action as a relatively bloodless way to achieve geopolitical aims. In this estimation, he did not factor the blood of foreigners that spilled amid the chaos his interventions engendered.

          Under Allen, the CIA became a perpetual covert war machine. Even during “peacetime,” the agency would ceaselessly scheme to subvert and ultimately overthrow any foreign government not in the orbit of the U.S. Behind the Iron Curtain, this only worsened the plight of those suffering under communism by goading their Soviet overlords to paranoid extremes. And elsewhere, it only served to drive neutral governments into alliance with the Soviets for the sake of protection from the “Yankee imperialists.”

          Truman created a OSS, Truman had dissolved the OSS after WWII. it had to be reformed for peacetime.

          it was Ike that turned it into what it is today, and i watched Ike’s speech when i was a child.

      1. Michael Ismoe

        That must be Pentagon Math: 803 + 37 = 843?

        I guess the $3 billion that “fell off the table” is for “the big guy.”

  22. Jeremy Grimm

    “Art is for seeing evil”:
    The theory elaborated by this link, that art is for seeing evil is much to simple to explain the nature of art, of human attraction to art, of the human need to create art. The creation of art is one of the last markers of what makes humans different in kind from the animals — now that language, tool-making, consciousness, empathy, warfare, dreaming and other suggestions for our difference from animals are falling by the way. Our perception of the world is censored but no where near the extent of missing the gorilla in the living room.

    However, the examination of Plato’s utopia in the Republic near the end of this link, does suggest a possible origin for Lois Lowry’s book “the Giver”. It is curious to me that the movie version felt compelled to append a happy ending, like Disney’s “Little Mermaid”.

  23. KFritz

    Re: Secret Service Under Pressure

    When Cassidy Hutchison (Meadows’ aide) claimed that Trump tried to seize his limo’s steering wheel, Secret Service agents denied that it happened. Any mention of that is one possible reason to delete text messages. The deletion calls into question the veracity of any Secret Service testimon re 1/6.

    Also note that the agency’s spokesman, Guglielmi, denies that the texts were “maliciously deleted.” Not “strategically,” “adroitly,” etc, etc. etc. No, “maliciously,” as in plausible deniability.

    1. caucus99percenter

      Well, shucks, if a principal like EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen can delete her messages then why not the Secret Service, which when you come right down to it is just a glorified security detail?

      1. The Rev Kev

        And if the CIA can delete all those torture videos after being told not to and one of the people responsible for that then being made the head of the CIA, then I am sure that the FBI thought that they could do the same. The fact that out of 365 days of the year, the two days deleted were the day of the riot and the day before when you would expect any planning to have been done is just a coincidence.

    2. TroyIA

      The Secret Service are a bunch of amateurs compared to the Mueller Team of investigators.

      Judicial Watch Obtains DOJ Records Showing Top Mueller Team Repeatedly, ‘Accidentally’ Wiped Phones

      Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today it received 87 pages of records from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) that show senior members of Robert Mueller’s Special Counsel’s Office (SCO) repeatedly and “accidentally” wiped phones assigned to them.

      The records were produced in response to Judicial Watch’s September 2019 Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed against the Justice Department and FBI over December 17, 2018, FOIA requests (Judicial Watch, Inc. v. U.S. Department of Justice (No. 1:19-cv-02693)) for:

      All records related to the hardware, software and contents of mobile phones issued to FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page for their use while they served on the investigative team of Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
      All records of communication (whether on government or email accounts and whether using real names or aliases), with FBI officials relating to the hardware, software and contents of mobile phones issued to FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page for their use while they served on the investigative team of Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
      In a table that appears to be a tabulation of Special Counsel’s Office reviews of phones used by Robert Mueller’steam for records-preservation purposes, 27 phones were reported wiped clean of all data prior to the review having taken place:

      20 phones were reported wiped of data due to “accidental wipe” (usually from entering the password too many times);

      2 phones were reported wiped after placed in airplane mode from which they could not be unlocked because password was forgotten, including the phones of Andrew Weissmann (2 phones) and two deputies of Mueller, Kyle Freeny and Rush Atkinson.

      1 phone was wiped clean without explanation.

      There are no records of Robert Mueller’s phone’s ever being reviewed.

  24. drumlin woodchuckles

    So . . . BMW sells heated seat subscription for $18/month? One wonders if a master mechanic + master electrician team could hot-wire the seat and put a manual on-off switch on the hot-wire circuit. I’m not saying they could. I don’t know enough to know if they could. I merely ask the question . . .

  25. jr

    I have to say I was not very impressed with the Art is for Seeing Evil piece. I’m happy to accept the notion that art helps us to see evil, amongst other things. But the author’s definition of evil is fundamentally flawed:

    “I am using the word “evil” to encompass the whole range of negative human experience, from being wronged, to doing wrong, to sheer bad luck. “Evil” in this sense includes: hunger, fear, injury, pain, anxiety, injustice, loss, catastrophe, misunderstanding, failure, betrayal, cruelty, boredom, frustration, loneliness, despair, downfall, annihilation. This list of evils is also a list of the essential ingredients of narrative fiction.”

    This just seems rather silly in it’s broadness. To my thinking, the list could be trimmed down to these items: injustice, betrayal, and cruelty. Why? Because they all share the element of intentionality. The other items in the list could be the products of evil but they are not evil in and of themselves.

    A mundane example will illustrate my thinking. Right after I read this article this afternoon, I decided to make my lunch. In doing that, I cut myself ever so slightly while opening a package. It hurt, for a moment. In that instance I experienced injury, pain, and a slight whiff of frustration. But evil? No. In fact, even if I had severed my finger with the edge of the arugula container, it wouldn’t qualify as evil. There was no intentionality, nothing had reflectively caused me harm, there was no plot to on the part of the arugula packers to generate a bad outcome. It was a mildly unhappy confluence of my clumsiness and a less than ideal package design.

    Here’s a much more complex example: In the movie Mephisto, a movie I cannot recommend enough, there is a scene towards the beginning in which a low class member of the Nazi party in pre-war Germany is driven to the edge of Berlin by agents of the party establishment. It’s been a while since I’ve seen the film but if memory serves this lumpen-Nazi had been raising concerns about corruption in the higher levels of the party establishment. The powers that be have ordered that he be silenced. The car comes to a halt and the hapless man is ordered to walk into the woods. He gets a few yards in and he is shot in the back. The car full of uniformed officers returns to the city while the body is left for the birds.

    I bring up this vignette because everyone involved was a Nazi and therefore ostensibly everyone was evil. But I don’t think that was the case. The victim had become a Nazi because he felt that his homeland was under an insidious assault from both without and within. He was convinced that he and his family were being threatened and the only legitimate response was to band together with his fellow Germans to resist the assault. His vision of that resistance was in agreement with that of the National Socialists. Communists, Jews, and other foreigners were the enemy. They needed to be stopped.

    Was this man evil? No. Was he wrong? Yes, although not entirely, his country was under siege from a number of vectors but a better analysis of power would have allowed him to point the finger at his oppressors more selectively and accurately. Rather than blanket condemnations of whole swaths of humanity, he might have been able to pinpoint the sources of repression and exploitation. He might have seen he had much more in common with those he called his enemies than not. But his intentions were not intrinsically malignant, he did not wish evil upon others for it’s own sake or for gain but only sought to protect himself, his loved ones, and his country. So, no, I would not condemn him as evil.

    But the Nazi’s in the car, they were another story. They were not interested in protecting kith and kin, they were seeking personal advancement and power, even at the expense of one of their own. Their intentions were malignant, they sought to cause pain and suffering, despair and death, to achieve their goals. This, I argue, is actually what evil looks like. Evil is a conscious act. The bodies, the suffering, the camps, the war: these are the fruits of evil but not the thing itself.

    The author’s problems don’t end there though. She has some rather strange ideas about life as well as a bit of a heavy hand in dictating what it means to others. Take these lines:

    “Does our ordinary experience of life—both our own, and our close associates’—show us evil? No, not really. Life is censored.”

    Speak for yourself. I don’t censor myself in that manner. I experience and struggle with evil, in smaller and greater measures. My own evil and others, to be clear. I see people making choices that cause harm, sometimes for material benefit, sometimes for a sugar rush of power, and sometimes for both, all the time. Acts of cruelty, of betrayal, of injustice all point to one thing: Evil is above all else a choice. One I’ve made. Although I’m not given to it, I’ve been rude, cruel, and even malevolently harmful at times. Usually because someone had been evil to me and I was seeking to fill the gap that that act had left behind. This is, I would argue, one of the seductions of evil.

    “What you see in the room is a function of what’s useful to you in that room, given the aims with which you walk into it….Your whole life is like that.”

    No, it’s not. It is at times, but a large part of my spiritual practice is to keep in touch with the transcendent even in the most mundane of situations. The author is describing an automaton, not a person.

    “You permit a problem into your line of sight only insofar as you are looking for solutions to it; we instruct our children to ponder the mistakes they’ve made, but only so as to do better in the future; holding wrongdoers accountable is important because it allows us to “move forward.” The value of mourning lies in “working through” grief; crying is a way to “let it out.” When you criticize someone, you should do so “constructively.” The soul is like a compass; it can’t help but point goodwards almost all of the time.”

    No, no, and no. I’m not sure what kind of clockwork existence this person leads but no thanks, not for me. When I consider a problem, I surely look for solutions but I also ponder where the problem came from, why it’s a problem, and what solving it might fully entail. I treat it as a faceted object to be turned over and examined, not as a line to travel from point A to B. I would teach any children I had to do the same. My soul is not a compass, it simply is. I do have a compass of my own devising but I also seek to immerse myself in the moral geography I find myself traversing. To be in it, above it, and of it simultaneously.

    “If you consciously notice your mind wander and land on something “irrelevant”—a speck of dirt on the window, a memory of an unpleasant encounter, a problem you can’t solve at the moment—you tell yourself to focus on what needs doing.” If your mind goes even further afield, you might be called to use force. Consider the story of Leontius in Plato’s Republic…”

    Sometimes, when necessity demands it I seek focus but I also make a conscious effort to lose myself in those specks of dust, in memories both good and bad, in scrutinizing the inscrutables, as it were. As for Leontius’s rubbernecking, well, rubbernecking is in the eye of the beholder. There are truths, profound truths, in a pile of corpses, with the right perspective.

    “In normal life, vision is burdened by positivity: we tend to be aiming, achieving, improving, appreciating and enjoying. There’s almost always something we’re up to, and that purpose skews our process of observation.”

    Again, speak for yourself. I am most certainly not burdened with that fool’s quest, positivity. She seems to be overlaying some bizarre work ethic onto everyone’s existence then tacking on “appreciating and enjoying” as if they were part and parcel of “improving and achieving”. A confusion and perhaps an ideological one. If she is always “up to something” then she needs to develop a meditative practice of some kind. And an inner life, while she’s at it.

    “Our ravenous consumption of badness in art reveals just how much we standardly deprive ourselves of it. We commonly praise some piece of art for its “realism”; we could fault life for its lack thereof.”

    Good Lord, how divorced from the world is this person? This reminds me of Nooner’s comments posted yesterday about her shock at how incompetent and evil law enforcement has become seemingly all of a sudden. Is that a whiff of PMC piety I detect? The notion that since I just noticed something is awry, you too must be ignorant of it and it’s my job to inform you of what we’ve been missing? Skip brunch this Sunday, plant yourself on a city bench, and watch the show unfold, lady.

    “The positive has a secondary and derivative place in fiction, just as the negative has a secondary and derivative place in life. In life, we are looking for all the various ways to make our marriages succeed; in fiction, we are fascinated to observe all the possible ways a marriage could fail.”

    The negative in life is not “secondary and derivative”, it’s as real as the positive and both are only as valid as the times and circumstances allow. The fear of death can be the promise of release. Taken together, and taken loosely as both terms are so laden with pop-psych baggage as to flatten a mule, the positive and the negative are interwoven influences concurrently flowing through and from one another and that impetus drives our lives. Looking at it from a Magical perspective, the Yang-Yin symbol is the diagram of a motor; the Qabbalist’s Tree of Life is the template of a circuit board.

    1. fresno dan

      insightful analysis.
      Was this man evil? No. Was he wrong? Yes, although not entirely, his country was under siege from a number of vectors but a better analysis of power would have allowed him to point the finger at his oppressors more selectively and accurately.
      I would apply this to a lot of Trump supporters – they understand something is definitely wrong, they just seem not to understand who really is behind the oppression…

      1. jr

        Thank you, fd, and I agree with your comparison to Trump supporters. I lurk on a lot of conservative Youtube channels and I see honest anguish and pointed truth-telling in the comments. Big Pharma gets called out, as does Putin-itis and warmongering. This is counterbalanced by a messianic vision of Trump’s return, Elon-anism, and no tolerance for abortion rights at all.

    2. Brunches with Cats

      As I see it, jr, the problem is that the E-word is so overused as to have lost its meaning. It’s been at least 30 years since I began reserving it for a very limited set of circumstances, for the most as you describe. Unfortunately, justification for its use seems to be increasing exponentially lately. Maybe a sign of imminent collapse …

      1. jr

        Yeah, BwC, it’s an easy term to toss around. Polarizes thinking and with a nice, warm mantle of righteousness as a kicker. It’s kind of the ultimate thought-stopper.

  26. The Rev Kev

    Was just listening to the latest video from the Military Summary channel and he says that it is now confirmed from several sources that one of those US HIMARS systems is now on its way for technical analysis to Russia so I would guess that Russia has also acquired herself several new citizens- (22:36 mins)

    Looks like this is a job for Tom “Maverick” Cruise and his special squadron.

  27. The Rev Kev

    For those with a spare two hours, Gonzalas Lira hosted a Roundtable that included Larry Johnson, Andrei Martyanov and Alexander Mercouris. Real good stuff- (2:14:34 mins)

    They could not include Alex Christoforou as his ban on YouTube still has a few days to run but he should be there next time.

  28. Mike

    Re: “I know Tulsi has baggage but no one else is making clear and urgent statements like this.”

    What “baggage?” Why is something one might disagree with called baggage? She seems honest, definitely anti-war, and against censorship. If there is a politician without your definition of baggage please let us know who that individual is. Nuclear war is not about duck and cover. It’s not about a short survival inside a bunker. It is about immediate climate change. It is about the end of water, energy, and food supply. It is mass death and suffering. It is about disease, chaos, and quite likely the end of civilization. If anything can be considered baggage it would be politicians that support policies that risk that scenario. People need to fully understand how a nuclear war ends.

  29. RobertC

    A few days ago we had a discussion on the environmental benefits of transition to battery-powered vehicles compared to transitioning residences from fossil fuels to electricity (which I argued for).

    Two days ago The Register reported Copper shortage keep green energy, tech ventures grounded Copper the balloon popper for 2050 net-zero goals according to S&P

    Very informative, great links, easy to read and the Comments are useful and fun.

Comments are closed.