Links 3/23/2023

‘Warhol cooked us scrambled eggs. Or was it Rauschenberg?’ – Gilbert and George preserve their greatest moments Guardian (Dr. Kevin)

Genomic analyses of hair from Ludwig van Beethoven Cell (Micael T)

Scientists Discover RNA Component Buried in The Dust of an Asteroid ScienceAlert (Chuck L)

Strange Acceleration of Mysterious Interstellar Visitor Finally Explained ScienceAlert. Chuck L: “Bummer. I much preferred the explanation that it was aliens in a spaceship looking for intelligent life and who, after a look-see, passed us by.”

Liberal Commitments Dissent. Anthony L: “I do not like this guy.”

A Paradise for All Lapham’s Quarterly (Anthony L)

Living organ donors deserve priority status for transplants STAT (Dr. Kevin)


House of Fauci: How Dr. Christine Grady, aka Mrs. Fauci, Used Her NIH Position To Backstop Her Husband’s Pandemic Health Directives OpenTheBooks (BC)


Elon Musk’s Company Plans To Dump Wastewater In The Colorado — And Locals Have Concerns HuffPost (Kevin W)


China’s billionaire population drops: 229 knocked off Global Rich List South China Morning Post

More than 40 percent of Americans support banning TikTok: poll The Hill. Kevin W: “A Washington Post poll.”

Winnie the Pooh slasher flick mysteriously cancelled in Hong Kong The Register (Dr. Kevin)

Xi-Putin Summit

Press statements by President of Russia and President of China Kremlin

On Xi-Putin visit, the US sees only threats Responsible Statecraft (furzy)

Old Blighty

Johnson to be wheeled in front of select committee wearing straitjacket Daily Mash

Impervious to advice or rules, Johnson held up the shield of stupidity John Crace Guardian (Dr. Kevin)

Food, Bar Inflation Now Off The Charts In UK Heisenberg Report

La belle France

Understanding What’s Happening in France. Aurelian

South of the Border

Costa Rica, laid-back land of ‘pura vida,’ succumbing to drug violence Gazeweek

New Not-So-Cold War

EU seals deal to send Ukraine 1M ammo rounds Politico

Garland, Scott and Me. Andrei Martyanov. Kevin W:

Beginning at the 40 minute point Scott Ritter goes into detail about military organizational & technological reasons why NATO & the US will not be able to go head to head with Russia any time soon, if ever. Later he and Andrei get into the world-historical nature turning point triggered by the Ukraine conflict. The whole thing is very much worth a listen.

The lady doth protest too much. Oh, and per Alexander Mercouris, both pilots were women:

* * *

* * * Telegram. Prigozhyn trolls Blinken. The English version is rough, Russian here.

Armed Russian jets have flown over a U.S. base in Syria nearly every day in March, U.S. commander says NBC. Note headline contrast with Business Insider re-reporting:
Russian fighter jets are circling a US airbase in Syria a week after a fiery confrontation between Russian jets and a US drone over the Black Sea: report.

Ex-US envoy wants Russian billionaires to pay their way out of sanctions RT (Kevin W)

Die EU hat für den Haftbefehl gegen Putin bezahlt Anti-Spiegel. JohnA:

This article by Thomas Röper, a German who is fluent in Russian and lives in St Petersburg, was published 21 March. It discusses the ICC charges against Putin and his Minister for Children (or similar) for war crimes and child kidnapping in Ukraine, and how the ICC has been funded by the EU for this very reason. It is in German but google translate can help.

Museums Rename Artworks and Artists as Ukrainian, Not Russian New York Times


Free will trumps determinism in Gulf politics Indian Punchline (Kevin W)

Imperial Collapse Watch

Biden administration to release review of Afghanistan withdrawal in April Anadou Agency

Déjà amnesia The Bunker (rexilc)

Private equity gobbling up defense firms at a frightening pace: Experts Responsible Statecraft (resilc)

Arizona State Senate Passes Defend the Guard Act (Kevin W). Important


Exclusive: Trump breaks cover for a round of golf as Alvin Bragg ‘struggles’ to convince grand jury to charge him with ‘weak’ case’ that has split the DA’s office: Panel probing Stormy Daniels payment reconvenes tomorrow Daily Mail. Reader Li points out that Trump had said he’d come to New York to surrender (and rumor has it he intended to bring his own cameraman). However, Li argues his much better play would be to stay in Florida. New York would have to extradite him. DeSantis would have to sign the extradition order, which would put DeSantis in a no-win situation.

Donald Trump’s lawyer has to hand over documents in Mar-a-Lago records probe, according to court USA Today

Woke Watch

‘He was certainly a racist’: J Edgar Hoover and a history of white nationalism Guardian

Rotten Banks

Swiss Are on the Hook for $13,500 Each on Credit Suisse Bailout Bloomberg (Paul R)

US bondholders prepare to sue Swiss over $17bn Credit Suisse wipeout Financial Times (Kevin W). Lordie. You only need to read Wolf Richter’s headline: Total Wipeout of $17 billion in Credit Suisse AT1 CoCo Bonds Shocked Because No One Reads Clauses Anymore? In other words, this smells a lot like an exercise in incompetent US fund managers trying to blame Switzerland for their failure to do a basic inspection of key terms.

Imperial Fed

Market Implied Fed Funds Path, Post-FOMC Menzie Chinn

‘Close to thin ice’: looming credit crunch puts pressure on Fed Financial Times

Some Additional Hikes. Maybe. Heisenberg Report (resilc)

Citi CEO Fraser Warns Mobile Money is ‘Game Changer’ for Bank Runs Bloomberg. So much for financial innovation.

Exclusive: Republican U.S. Senator Rick Scott, Democrat Warren unveil Fed oversight bill Reuters

The Bezzle

Hackers Drain Bitcoin ATMs of $1.5 Million By Exploiting 0-Day Bug ars technica

SEC charges celebrities including Lindsay Lohan over cryptocurrency endorsements Guardian (Kevin W)

Coinbase Heads to the Supreme Court in First Crypto Case Gizmodo (Kevin W)

SDNY: EFTA Applies to Crypto Adam Levitin. Forgive acronyms. Levitin explains why this is good for consumers.

Class Warfare

44 People Share The Funniest Job Rejections They’ve Received Bored Panda

When Thieves Retire London Review of Books (Anthony L)

Antidote du jour (Tracie H):

And a bonus (guurst)

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Antifa

    (melody borrowed from Lili Marleen per Lale Andersen)

    When a bank falls down nobody needs to lose
    Bonuses are paid and the suits don’t pay their dues
    If well-to-do folks intervene
    And have the Fed print lots of green
    Ye Olde Dollar Machine (Ye Olde)
    Ye Olde Dollar Machine (Ye Olde Dollar Machine)

    The Dow Jones goes straight up, the Fed runs up our debt
    The can’s kicked down the road, nothing bad has happened yet
    The joy of a reserve currency
    Is green ink at the Treasury
    Ye Olde Dollar Machine (Ye Olde)
    Ye Olde Dollar Machine (Ye Olde Dollar Machine)

    How much gold or oil backs dollars that are made?
    You might begin to wonder how this debt will be repaid
    We trade fiat trust for commodities
    We buy stuff with our Treasuries
    Ye Olde Dollar Machine (Ye Olde)
    Ye Olde Dollar Machine (Ye Olde Dollar Machine)

    (musical interlude)

    Might this be the magic of the MMT?
    Or will those wild derivatives drown us in the sea?
    Will we tell our grandkids some fine day
    They have a monstrous bill to pay?
    Ye Olde Dollar Machine (Ye Olde)
    Ye Olde Dollar Machine

    Will we tell our grandkids some fine day
    They have a monstrous bill to pay?

    Ye Olde Dollar Machine

    Ye Olde Dollar Machine

    1. LifelongLib

      The U.S. government sings:

      I don’t need to borrow
      What I already own
      I create the dollars
      I never need a loan

      The national debt
      Is net assets
      In the private sect
      No one collects

      I dream about my freedom
      My freedom from the gold.

    1. profan

      Have not listened to Mercouris, but the women were the ones who foiled a recent Ukraininian drone attack on the Crimea. The pilots who “disabled” the US drone over the Black Sea were male.

  2. timbers

    Not so cold war

    The Duran yesterday (Alex Christoforou) mentioned video showing Putin and XI in Moscow during Putin’s press conference regarding the West’s decision to use spent uranium shells in Donbass (thus poisoning the land and spreading cancer) drew an expression of horror on XI’s face.

    Unfortunately while trying to find this on the internet limited attempts between working produced various articles saying XI was facing coup attempts, bad health…the usual propaganda on finds directed at XI and Putin.

  3. zagonostra

    >Understanding What’s Happening in France. Aurelian

    The article opens up with this sentence:

    You’ve almost certainly read or seen something about the political chaos in France at the moment

    Well, for most MSM grazing denizens, I bet they haven’t seen much. It seems to me the Media are trying desperately to downplay the unrest and protest. You have two Uyghurs outside American embassy in China and you would have wall-to-wall coverage, millions across France, not so much

    When the author of the article says:

    The political crisis in France today is the product of a political system which is now terminally dysfunctional, and it’s probably true to say that if the immediate cause had not been pensions, there would have been another cause instead.

    It makes it seem that the French are fickle and would like to just go out an protest for any old reason.

    Yesterday in Macron’s address to the French people he said:

    “The crowed has no legitimacy compared with the people who speak through those the elected.”

    The inversion of Macron’s statement is what this is all about, and not just in France. When the elected no longer represent the people THEY, the elected have no legitimacy. Crowds have always been the force that has the politicians and ruling elites on edge.

    1. Lex

      I don’t think the full context of the essay paints the French as fickle. It’s more that a host of crises face France and the current state of the political system is worse than unresponsive, so there was a powder keg with fuses everywhere.

      Macron’s statement is wild in the context of the Aurelian piece since Macron is painted as the ultimate “lesser of two evils” candidate who likely wouldn’t even be in position to be elected if the political system hadn’t become dysfunctional. He believes people voted for him rather than voted against someone else. There’s a mirror here for the US. It allowed Trump to get into the WH and Joe Biden seems to believe that people really wanted Joe Biden to be president rather than the reality of people wanting anyone except Donald Trump to president.

      1. Stephen

        That’s insightful. I read the piece last night and it is excellent. My recollection is that Aurelien makes the comment that Le Pen is the only one talking about the issues that matter to ordinary people, even if one disagrees. Trump is similar (as you say) and in the U.K. context Nigel Farage has played that role, and now seems to want to do so again. However destructive these people might be they are entering a vacuum

        Nearly all western political systems have lost touch. The elites that are in power almost pride themselves on how unresponsive they are to ordinary people. Instead, they are in thrall to globalist ideology. As an example, there are comments floating around that the Italian Prime Minister has even stated very directly that her government’s support for Ukraine will continue irrespective of what the Italian people think. This mirrors comments by various German politicians. Whatever one thinks of the rights and wrongs of Ukraine it is not the prime priority for people facing inflation, risks of unemployment and generally making ends meet.

        The ultimate irony is that we are supposed to believe that Maidan overthrew an oppressive government via a popular uprising and that this was a good thing. So responsive government is a good idea for Ukrainians but not for anyone else. The sheer hypocrisy of elites is off the scale and one senses that ordinary people are increasingly seeing this.

        1. digi_owl

          And this happens because the MSM is playing on team with the globalists, being PMCs themselves. End result is that unless they get actual power, as seen with Trump, they are largely dismissed as fringe right wing populists.

          But if someone from the left raise the same issues, as seen with Corbyn or Sanders, the MSM go on the warpath.

          Likely the left we are seeing today is the culmination of the new left that took hold in the west from the 50s onwards. A de-fanged left, acceptable to Wall Street and City of London as they didn’t talk about material issues unlike the pre-war marxist/communist left.

          1. fresno dan

            And this happens because the MSM is playing on team with the globalists, being PMCs themselves. & A de-fanged left, acceptable to Wall Street and City of London as they didn’t talk about material issues unlike the pre-war marxist/communist left.
            The only time money can be used by government to solve a problem is for war. Can’t use money to solve medical cost issues, or inequality, or homelessness. Nope. interferes wth the market, aka our values

        2. Lex

          Politics having become its own economic sector is probably largely responsible for this state of affairs. The politicians are in touch with the source of their revenue. Perhaps more importantly, the PMC that’s truly dependent on the economics of politics will steer every politician towards representing the revenue source.

          I agree that there’s pride in being out of touch. It’s why Biden couldn’t be bothered with a day trip to East Palestine or why he always seems to get combative with regular people he’s allowed to meet. I doubt that Trump actually cares about the residents of East Palestine but he at least understands that their grievances can be exploited. Most politicians simply can’t be bothered even enough to exploit the grievances. History though suggests that to be a dangerous game for elites to play.

        3. fresno dan

          My recollection is that Aurelien makes the comment that Le Pen is the only one talking about the issues that matter to ordinary people, even if one disagrees. Trump is similar (as you say) and in the U.K. context Nigel Farage has played that role, and now seems to want to do so again. However destructive these people might be they are entering a vacuum
          digi_owl makes the point that the MSM carrys water for the globalists. It seems to me the purpose of so much Ukraine coverage was to deflect from East Palestine, inflation, and anything that makes the current administration look less than stellar. Now that Ukraine seems to be a loss cause, and making the current administration look less than stellar, there seems to be very little said about it in my Google supplied “news” feed.

      2. Ignacio

        That problem: absence of real political alternatives is an acute problem possibly in most if not all Western countries. Even if candidates try hard to differentiate they will be made very much homologous by the system they are entering. They have to pass all the neoliberal checks and controls. Then, voting against someone is all to common and the problem we see is that the one you vote often ends being quite worse than the worse you could expect from the alternative you wanted to avoid. If you vote against Trump or Le Pen and get something that looks actually worse you might end voting for Trump or Le Pen, naturally.

        1. Kouros

          Political alternatives are not explored because the oligarchic system in place does not allow for it. But there are so many political templates that could be tested, but all of them would clip the wings of TPTB.

          So we’ll slog along until the powder keg will explode. But then well have to deal with more intense climate effects, little done with energy sustainability and maybe transition, etc.

    2. The Rev Kev

      This is a damn good analysis of the situation, especially when he talks about the different players and how they inter-relate. I find it ominous when he says near the end ‘So things may be about to get distinctly kinetic, in a country with a reputation for a vigorous and lively form of street politics.’

      This would be true for normal times. But what happens as energy supply problems continue to wrack that country, fallout from the banking crisis infects French banks, France loses more and more influence in Africa as they get pushed out leaving all those PMC types with no ex-colonies to be sent to, demands are made that France cuts social spending to build up a bigger French army as demanded by NATO, etc. The word ‘kinetic’ may prove to be an understatement. The worse problem?

      It will be Macron trying to deal with all these problems.

      1. Adam1

        I like how you set this up because at least in different parts of the world this could really be multiple crisis happening simultaneously. The PMC, a class of people educated to handle “processes” (real or imaginary) are going to react to the perceived process failure. A problem the PMC has is they don’t have a PROCESS for multiple system failures. This is where revolutions happen and where potentially dictators take advantage… French Revolution, Hitler, Russian Revolution, etc…

        1. Adam1

          I should clarify… when multiple crises like this occur there is no guarantee the PMC can find AND agree upon not only a good and workable but that they can make it acceptable which is required to make it happen. Absent that you have a vacuum for anyone to fill.

    3. upstater

      It was a very good essay. This section nails it… just die

      Next, the “reforms” essentially target the poor. Lawyers, politicians, CEOs, doctors, journalists, bankers … such people are in no hurry to retire. But nurses, HGV drivers, care workers, agricultural labourers, construction workers, rubbish collectors … such people are as worn out by manual work as they ever were, and look forward to retiring. Indeed, one of the ironies of the situation is that the measure won’t save much money, because a lot of working-class people of about 60-62 are either unemployed (since the young are cheaper to employ) or are on long-term invalidity benefit, worn out by a lifetime of work. A report just today pointed to the significant increase in early deaths and long-term invalidity over the last decade when the pensionable age was raised to 62. And since no-one has yet worked out how the measure can actually increase the total number of jobs available, the result will be to increase unemployment among the young. But then the young don’t vote.

      It’s for this reason that the initiative is not about, and understood not to be about, making people “work longer.” Rather, it’s about making them wait longer to collect a pension in the hope, brutally, that they will die. What to do with an increasingly elderly population more and more confined to institutions, is a problem that no French government has yet faced up to, so why not just help them to die earlier, and so reduce the size of the problem?

      Bald faced neoliberalism at its ugliest. I sent this to my French banker son in law who admires Macron (fortunately my daughter was inculcated with different values).

      1. digi_owl

        And the same dynamic can be seen playing out elsewhere in Europe as well, only that those places do not have the history of lively protests that France has (maybe because the climate do not allow such activity half the year).

      2. mrsyk

        Our “David” nailing it yet again. I like this part. “Macron survived the Gilets jaunes, as he survived Covid. Running for re-election last year, his platform consisted of not being Le Pen, and his strategy consisted of ensuring that he fought the second round against her. The traditional Left was still in pieces, and the traditional Right had been gravely weakened.”
        Smells like 2016, USA.

        1. irrational

          I agree with all above that “our” David has delivered another excellence piece. For sure the system is broken – not only in France.
          As to pensions specifically:
          David mentions the extra years workers have to put in to get their pensions – 43 years. Now, if I understood correctly, previous legislation already aimed for 43 years of contributions, but the government is now accelerating the transition to minimum 43 years, which is an awfully long time if you have worked in construction, been a truck driver or similar. Supposedly there are exceptions, but I have not been able to gather if they are meaningful.
          In terms of retirement age, most European countries are at 65, Denmark even 67, so one could argue that the French have had it too good. What I cannot get into my head is the timetable the government proposes for reaching 64 – they essentially propose that if you turn 62 during the last quarter of this year you will already have to work an extra 3 months. For successive years of birth the retirement age increases by a quarter of a year, i.e. born in 1962 -> work until 62.5 years. So the transition will take 7 years with zero grandfathering (if that terms is still allowed ;-)) – that is simply politically inept.

          1. mrsyk

            “our”. Foolish pride, I know, but my other existential currencies are for the most part legacy.

      3. vao

        The essay misses something significant — although one could say most commentaries about the pension reform never allude to it either.

        The new law increases the retirement age from 62 to 64 years. Which, as your quote makes clear, is a blow to employees exhausted by a career in physically demanding fields of work.

        But there is more: in order to get a full pension, one must now contribute to the retirement fund for 43 full years (an increase of what varied so far from 41.5 to 42 years). Since French people on the average start their career at 22 years of age, it means that, in general, they can actually get a full pension only when they are older than 65…

        There are special provisions for people who start working before they are 20 years old: they can retire between 58 and 62, depending on when their career started (from 14 to 20 years of age) — provided that they can justify 44 years of contributions to the retirement fund. So by starting to work early, which is most often the case for physically demanding jobs, one must work even longer to get a full pension…

        By the way: the issue regarding years of contribution is why trade unions like the CGC, representing white-collar and low-to-middle level management, traditionally very accommodating for right-wing projects, joined other organizations in demonstrations. For their members, retiring before 65 has now become next to impossible.

        1. Karl

          France, the land of Rousseau and the Social Contract, seems to have breached its contract with workers who were promised other terms, and who made financial plans (for retirement) based on those terms.

          In the U.S., when changes are made, it’s only those newbies entering the system that get the new terms, the terms of existing beneficiaries are grandfathered in, i.e. their rights are protected.

          If Macron’s reform sticks, will it give our elites the idea they can do the same thing?

          By the way, in the U.S., when the Social Security trust fund runs out, pensioners will see an immediate cut in their SS checks by around 20%, that being the difference between what the law gives them and what the system is currently collecting in taxes. So that “pension reform” USA style is coming. My guess, though, is that Congress won’t let that happen. Here, unlike France, all votes of elected leaders on legislation are necessary public.

          After reading Aurelian’s fine piece, I couldn’t help but conclude that Marine Le Pen will have a nearly unbeatable slogan: “Repeal the undemocratic Pension Reform! Power to the People!”

          The manner of getting things passed is crucial to public legitimacy. In a country with France’s history, I imagine the people will make a cause celebre of exerting their will in the end, if only to establish that their leaders are subject to the people. Therefore, based on Aurelian’s essay, I suspect this “reform” will eventually be repealed one way or the other. Or, Le Pen may well become the next President of France. Not knowing much about French politics, I wonder: would that be such a bad thing?

          1. Karl

            By the way, I see the dysfunction of the National Assembly in France paralleled in many ways with that of our Congress. There is no longer a functional “Left” in France, and there isn’t one in the U.S. either. Neither establishment Party in the U.S. seems to care about the problems of the working class, although the far right is gaining traction among them, as Le Pen is in France.

            My question, as an American ignorant of French politics: is Le Pen a genuine champion of the worker or is she more like Trump, just a front for more powerful interests?

      4. Howard

        “If they would rather die,” said Scrooge, “they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.”

    4. Mikel

      “Well, for most MSM grazing denizens, I bet they haven’t seen much. It seems to me the Media are trying desperately to downplay the unrest and protest. You have two Uyghurs outside American embassy in China and you would have wall-to-wall coverage, millions across France, not so much…”

      Here is a description of a conversation I had with a friend who wasn’t aware of protests in France.

      Me: Hey, did you hear that protestors are practically shutting down France? They’re protesting the raising of the retirement age.
      Friend: No, didn’t hear about that.
      Me: Get this…they’re setting cities ablaze over raising the retirement age from 62 to 64.

      Friend’s brow tightens into wrinkles, eyes squint, and head spins around in a 360. A struggle for words. And then…

      Friend: How the *&^% is the retirement age here pushing 70?
      Me: I guess people were busy playing video games.

  4. Verifyfirst

    Interesting bit in Bloomberg about the Swiss bonds that were zeroed:

    “All the contractual terms that allow the bonds to be written off ultimately reference Credit Suisse’s capital adequacy, according to analysts and investors. That was a problem because the bank’s capital adequacy was fine all the way through the rescue — it was deposit flight and other liquidity issues that threatened to kill it.

    The Swiss solution was to enact a law that created a new kind of liquidity facility which included government guarantees on the borrowing. The law contained a single line allowing AT1s to be wiped out if the facility was used; because it enlisted federal guarantees, it also triggered contractual language in the bonds related to ‘extraordinary government support.’ ”

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Due to the hour, I have to turn in, but IMHO that sounds like a lawyering argument. Other sources, including the Wall Street Journal, said the CS AT1 bonds got wiped out before equity.

      This argument seems silly because the investors would/could buy the bonds only if the capital were adequate. If you have a bad enough run on the bank, you’ll have to sell assets that are less liquid and you can’t sell at anything other than a loss. So the line between a liquidity crisis and solvency crisis is not clear cut.

      And Credit Suisse just had its big Saudi investors refuse to fund it. If a bank can’t get funding, it’s dead. The niceties about how don’t matter much.

      Lehman shows the fallacy of the CS argument. From Steve Waldman:

      Bank capital cannot be measured. Think about that until you really get it. “Large complex financial institutions” report leverage ratios and “tier one” capital and all kinds of aromatic stuff. But those numbers are meaningless. For any large complex financial institution levered at the House-proposed limit of 15×, a reasonable confidence interval surrounding its estimate of bank capital would be greater than 100% of the reported value. In English, we cannot distinguish “well capitalized” from insolvent banks, even in good times, and regardless of their formal statements.

      Lehman is a case-in-point. On September 10, 2008, Lehman reported 11% “tier one” capital and very conservative “net leverage“. On September 25 15, 2008, Lehman declared bankruptcy. Despite reported shareholder’s equity of $28.4B just prior to the bankruptcy, the net worth of the holding company in liquidation is estimated to be anywhere from negative $20B to $130B, implying a swing in value of between $50B and $160B. That is shocking. For an industrial firm, one expects liquidation value to be much less than “going concern” value, because fixed capital intended for a particular production process cannot easily be repurposed and has to be taken apart and sold for scrap. But the assets of a financial holding company are business units and financial positions, which can be sold if they are have value. Yes, liquidation hits intangible “franchise” value and reputation, but those assets are mostly excluded from bank balance sheets, and they are certainly excluded from “tier one” capital calculations. The orderly liquidation of a well-capitalized financial holding company ought to yield something close to tangible net worth, which for Lehman would have been about $24B.

      So Lehman misreported its net worth, right? Not according to the law. From the Valukas Report, Section III.A.2: Valuation — Executive Summary:

      The Examiner did not find sufficient evidence to support a colorable claim for breach of fiduciary duty in connection with any of Lehman’s valuations. In particular, in the third quarter of 2008 there is evidence that certain executives felt pressure to not take all of the write‐downs on real estate positions that they determined were appropriate; there is some evidence that the pressure actually resulted in unreasonable marks. But, as the evidence is in conflict, the Examiner determines that there is insufficient evidence to support a colorable claim that Lehman’s senior management imposed arbitrary limits on write‐downs of real estate positions during that quarter.

      In other words, the definitive legal account of the Lehman bankruptcy has concluded that while executives may have shaded things a bit, from the perspective of what is actionable within the law, Lehman’s valuations were legally indistinguishable from accurate. Yet, the estimate of net worth computed from these valuations turned out to be off by 200% or more.

      Advocates of the devil and Dick Fuld will demur here. Yes, Lehman’s “event of default” meant many derivatives contracts were terminated prematurely and collateral on those contracts was extracted from the firm. But closing a marked-to-market derivatives position does not affect a firm’s net worth, only its exposure. There may be short-term changes in reportable net worth as derivatives accounted as hedges and not marked-to-market are closed, but if the positions were in fact hedges, unreported gains on other not-marked-to-market assets should eventually offset those charges. Again, the long term change in firm net worth should be zero. There are transaction costs associated with managing a liquidation, but those would be minimal relative to the scale of these losses. Markets did very poorly after Lehman’s bankruptcy, but contrary to popular belief, Lehman was never forced into “fire sales” of its assets. It was and remains in orderly liquidation. Last July, more than 9 months after the bank fell, Lehman’s liquidator reported that only a “fraction” of the firm’s assets had been sold and the process would last at least two years. Perhaps the pessimistic estimates of Lehman’s value were made during last year’s nadir in asset prices, and Lehman’s claimed net worth looks more reasonable now that many assets have recovered. But if Lehman’s assets were so profoundly affected by last Spring’s turmoil that an accurate September capitalization of $28B shifted into the red by tens of billions of dollars, how is it plausible that Lehman’s competitors took much more modest hits during that period? Unless the sensitivity of Lehman’s assets to last year’s markets was much, much higher than all of its peers, Lehman’s assets were misvalued before the asset price collapse, or its competitors assets were misvalued during the collapse.

      We get lost in details and petty arguments. The bottom line is simple. The capital positions reported by “large complex financial institutions” are so difficult to compute that the confidence interval surrounding those estimates is greater than 100% even for a bank “conservatively” levered at 11× tier one capital.

      Errors in reported capital are almost guaranteed to be overstatements. Complex, highly leveraged financial firms are different from other kinds of firm in that optimistically shading asset values enhances long-term firm value. Yes, managers of all sorts of firms manage earnings and valuations to flatter themselves and maximize performance-based compensation. And short-term shareholders of any firm enjoy optimistic misstatements coincident with their planned sales. But long-term shareholders of nonfinancial firms prefer conservative accounts, because in the event of a liquidity crunch, firms must rely upon external funders who will independently examine the books. The cost to shareholders of failing to raise liquidity when bills come due is very high. There is, in the lingo, an “asymmetric loss function”. Long-term shareholders are better off with accounts that understate strength, because conservative accounting reduces the likelihood that shareholder wealth will be expropriated by usurious liquidity providers or a bankruptcy, and conservative accounts do not impair the real earnings stream that will be generated by nonfinancial operations….

      So, for large complex financials, capital cannot be measured precisely enough to distinguish conservatively solvent from insolvent banks, and capital positions are always optimistically padded.

      1. rusell1200

        Thank you for this explanation.

        Since it isn’t my area of expertise, my question is “How obvious is this ‘clause’ that the purchasers of the Coco missed/ignored”. Obviously, it is buried in there somewhere, but if you believe a document says ‘X’, you are going to read it as ‘X’ unless something really jumps out at you. I don’t know what sort of time constraints the purchasers are under when making these deals.

        Were they mislead, or simply slack. Or are both true?

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Big institutions buy these bonds, not little retail guys. And regardless, you should read the damned agreement. The subordination clauses would be clearly set forth.

      2. Karl

        Very interesting. During a severe liquidity or credit event, the “VARs” on all financial assets suddenly explode, and who knows what the portfolio will look like today or tomorrow. As Waldman points out, the range of uncertainty on the actual value of a firm like Lehman is large and maybe unknowable; but whatever that known unknown “X” is, you can be sure it is growing ever larger during a crisis due to increased volatility. This in turn can raise market perceptions of the firm’s risks to the point where it loses credit worthiness or liquidity and enters a doom loop; and then contagion to other firms sets in.

        Isn’t capitalism exciting at times like this? Pass the popcorn.

        1. skippy

          VaR was used far outside its original guidance by many pre GFC to fudge numbers the right way and as such sell product so the bosses could make bonus …. 3 mo extended to 6 mo … like it has been said on this blog for so long it was all about egregiously bad risk weighing at the end of the day and became endemic because the culture allowed it, a culture that was promoted IMO …

  5. The Rev Kev

    “Armed Russian jets have flown over a U.S. base in Syria nearly every day in March, U.S. commander says”

    ‘Lt. Gen. Alexus Grynkewich told NBC News that Russian jets have violated the airspace of At Tanf Garrison roughly 25 times this month, including Wednesday.’

    Should it be pointed out that that is actually Syrian air space which the Russians have permission to fly through? And that Al Tanf is actually an illegal occupation and one not sanctioned by the UN? I think that the Russians are now getting jack with the constant crossing of their red lines and that now they are starting to play hard ball. Here is a clip of armed, Russian fighters screwing around with US B-52s over the Black Sea- (3:25 mins)

    it should be mentioned that in wartime, that these B-52 would be used to launch nuclear cruise missiles at Russia. Can you imagine if there were Russian nuclear bombers flying off Florida and claiming that they were ‘conducting routine operations in international airspace exercising (their) freedom of navigation and overflight?’ But gotta keep on poking that bear.

    1. t

      Should it be pointed out that that is actually Syrian air space which the Russians have permission to fly through?

      Yes. Repeatedly. Occasionally in a louder than normal or clearly annoyed tone of voice.

    2. tevhatch

      I’m in complete agreement on legitimacy of Russian flights in Syria, vs illegal status of the US base. Regarding the video: The first pair are Russian Su-27, that footage is from 2020. Later we can see a pair of Ukrainian Su-27, with blue camouflage and trident on stabilizers, unknown date. The last pair?, at the end of the video are Ukrainian MIG-29s. The click-bait title made me study the video closely, otherwise I’d have missed it.

    3. digi_owl

      Nothing new. A few years back USA was buzzing right up to the Kaliningrad border multiple times with zero press coverage. But when one Russian jet responded by buzzing a US warship in the Baltic sea, it was on all the front pages.

      Similarly, if a “Bear” lumbers its way from Murmansk and into the north Atlantic it gets massive press coverage. But when US planes perform similar flights in the Bering sea you could hear a pin drop.

  6. griffen

    Johnson to be wheeled in wearing a straitjacket. So he gets the Hannibal Lecter treatment, but is that too good for Boris? Good for a chuckle though! To be fair to Sir Anthony Hopkins the actor to best portray Johnson is quite possibly Gary Busey (I had to confirm Gary is still above ground too).

    I hadn’t really followed this UK headline much, but I assume it’s the partying during Covid; so I know the absolute bare minimum.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Pity nobody took the opportunity to finally give that guy a descent haircut. Even a Mohawk or a Buzzcut would be an improvement on how he has his hair.

      But yes, it is all about Partygate and likely he will only get a wrap across the knuckles which he will ignore in his campaign to once more get back into Number Ten.

    2. Jeff V

      Kind of.

      Johnson has, of course, already been convicted and fined for partying during Covid.

      He has now been invited to explain to the Parliamentary Committee whether he lied to Parliament when he said he hadn’t been partying during Covid.

      His defence is that he was too stupid to realise he was breaking the law, so whilst he had clearly misled Parliament (for which he has already apologised) he hadn’t actually lied.

      Meanwhile, his lawyer’s fees of £5,000 per hour are being paid by the British taxpayer (although some people have interpreted the facial expressions of his legal team during Johnson’s performance as indicating he has largely been ignoring their very expensive advice).

      The UK Parliament accepts all sorts of mistreatment and side-lining by the UK executive branch, but it seems they *might* draw the line at being deliberately lied to.

  7. ambrit

    All of this Putin and Xi bashing lately in the MSM begins to resemble Orwell’s “Two Minute Hate” from the book “1984.”
    Great minds think alike???

      1. ambrit

        Ouch! With high priced “consultants” to make the yells go soft or loud as required.
        Orwell as the ‘Prophet of Neo-liberalism?’

        1. hunkerdown

          And a Ministry of Truth to retcon everything or at least tie it back into canon, but with typical American extravagance, we’ll have two.

    1. Carolinian

      I used to think 1984 was an exaggeration meant to shock people. But you are correct that it increasingly seems like a user manual for the totalitarian mindset. Orwell just got the dates wrong.

      Of course it’s still far fetched when employed by the Bidenistas and the cancel crew and that is making some of question our own sanity. But it’s hard not to conclude that there is something deeply irrational within we Humans that wants to confuse self-aggrandisement with truth. Education becomes merely a way of managing the flimflam. Reality will intrude as it did back in the 20th but even then there were those following WW2 who wanted to start the whole thing over again. Our world needs a shrink.

      1. Vandemonian

        Orwell just got the dates wrong.

        I did read once that Orwell’s original title for the book was “1948”, but his publisher found that too provocative, and convinced him to change it.

        This concerted attempt at mass deception has been going on for quite some little while. Either:
        1. The operators of the mighty Wurlitzer are losing their touch;
        2. We’re getting better at seeing through the cracks; or
        3. The internet really does change everything.

      2. digi_owl

        That seem to be annoyingly common with such books.

        Likely because younger readers do not have the experience to see the negatives, and dream themselves some sort of alpha predator rather than prey.

        1. hunkerdown

          Well, that’s one of the standard dreams that predatory capitalist culture encourages. Unfortunately, under our neo-Roman traditions, it’s illegal, or at least considered tortious, to discipline other people’s private property.

    2. nippersdad

      Two minutes a day would have been nice. It is the twenty four seven for seven years hates that have become a bore. I would say that they need new material, but I am eagerly awaiting the newest adventures of Fu Manchu to break it up a little bit.

      We have made “incremental progress” all the way back to the Yellow Peril of the Twentieth century’s early teens.

      1. Wukchumni

        I briefly had a cream colored-leaning towards banana custard really, 1979 Cadillac Seville that was so unworthy of being driven as it was automatic everything, which seemed to be at odds with itself and broke down frequently, my friends called it the ‘Yellow Peril’ after a few were with me when it gave up the ghost again.

      2. ambrit

        Hate burn out. Is that even possible?
        Terran humans are a notoriously fractious and dangerous lot. No wonder they have been restricted to their solar system for the past 25,000 years.
        Maybe the Zeta Reticulans are really our jailors.

  8. Verifyfirst

    So wait…..”Defend the Guard” is a Republican issue? Asking for my vote again, are they?

    1. The Rev Kev

      As far as I can recall, the last time the US officially declared war against another country was back in December of 1941 – nearly 82 years ago. There is a good point to be made that you can’t keep on grabbing a State’s National Guard and sending it overseas again and again without a formal declaration of war. But it might be that Biden will make a Presidential Finding that he is allowed to do so whenever he feels like it. It will be interesting to see if any other States do the same.

      1. Esohbe

        The supreme court ruled in 1968 that we were in “a state of war” and it was legal to activate national guard units.

        1. tet vet

          Interesting. So the Supreme Court apparently concluded that Congress did not need to declare “a state of war”. It’s either that or WW2 was not over by 1968.

      2. JBird4049

        >>>But it might be that Biden will make a Presidential Finding that he is allowed to do so whenever he feels like it.

        Why, not? It is the Imperial Presidency of the American Empire, ain’t?

    2. Keith Howard

      I went to look at the website. From that source, no such bill has been introduced in Colorado. I will let my D State Leg members know that I would like to see such a bill passed.

    3. Aleric

      Didn’t this get decided in Perpich vs DoD in 1990? What are these proposals offering that is new to get around that ruling?

  9. Hank Linderman

    Sounds like Ms. Warren should have offered to drop out for Bernie’s VP slot. Not sure Bernie would have asked her first but might have taken the deal.


  10. The Rev Kev

    “Press statements by President of Russia and President of China’

    I was reading this and then had a stray though. I know that it was never on the cards and that it was never going to happen due to historical issues, but…

    Imagine for a moment that the relationship that the Russians and the Chinese have between each other could have been done between the US, Mexico and Canada. That would make for a helluva union that. Nick Corbishley’s posts show the toxic relationship between the US and Mexico though but when you think about it, it was not that long ago that the Russians and the Chinese were in a shooting war with each other. And if they could change…

    1. Lex

      Western media is making a big deal about “junior partner” and such, but the reality looks much more like complimentary nations finding mutually beneficial solutions. You’re right about the potential of a partnership in N. America. The problem is ideological. Nobody in the US power structure since WWII has been capable of conceptualizing actual partnerships and/or complimentary relationships. It’s always an exercise of power. And we see it in how US “analysts” process events like the Sino-Russian partnership that it must be a raw power relationship.

      I’m not saying that there aren’t or won’t be imbalances in the Sino-Russian partnership nor that the multipolar world will be free of them. The “rules based order” is designed to maximize imbalances in favor of US power, though so anything less than that will be a dramatic improvement.

      1. hunkerdown

        That problem extends down into interpersonal relationships as well. Americans have trouble doing lateral, peer-to-peer relationships of any kind without the benevolent market-god mediating them. Such are the wages of managerialism.

        1. JBird4049

          >>>That problem extends down into interpersonal relationships as well. Americans have trouble doing lateral, peer-to-peer relationships of any kind without the benevolent market-god mediating them. Such are the wages of managerialism.

          It is more of a deliberate effort to mold Americans into such rather than managerialism, which was the tool, not the process.

          I am reaching here, but American ruling classes, which includes the corporations and wealthy elites creating a top down dictatorial system; using the American state including or especially the CIA, FBI, and Congress among others to destroy, or better co-opt, the unions, the troublesome uncontrolled NGOs such as charities like the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, even churches, social clubs, community sports and arts; the Palmer Raids, the Red Scare, the suppression of the unions, the destruction of higher education, and much else to supposedly fight the evils of communism.

          American writers like Peter Drucker and Edward Deming, whose ideas were used by the Japanese to beat American manufacturers, were either ignored or only partially implemented because it gave too much power to the employees. Much like with shipping industries overseas to destroy the unions (as well as extracting more wealth) was considered good.

      2. begob

        I came across this notion of multi-currency mercantilism, which outlines how $ abuse will be mitigated or even cut out of interstate transfers.

        The description of it gaining ground deal-by-deal is interesting, though I’m not sure how that measures up against the traditional process of mercantilism as a zero sum game that promotes conflict.

    2. Boomheist

      I still think, in the end, absent a nuclear disaster over Ukraine, we will see a Russia-China bloc, maybe actually a broad Eurasian bloc including eastern European nations and the Middle East, and a North American bloc with Canada, US and Mexico, because in the end those blocs with energy, land for agriculture, an industrial base, and an educated workforce will survive best. The sad part of this is that the North American bloc must first go through a huge humbling before recognizing reality.

  11. paddy

    ritter’s point about turning point in mismatch with russia:

    the inflection point was when ‘they’ did not kill the f-22 (trend started with c-5 in 60′) as it yielded 183 jets for the cost of a 750 jet plan. that was the end of any suitable design from the military industry complex.

    the trillions for f-35 (plus ford class carrier, etc.) are unilateral disarmament.

    trump beating the neocon cabal cause a 5 year delay in their ‘forlorn hope’ war to beat them!

    will ‘they’ back down before they execute us all?

    1. begob

      The slasher movie is a peculiarly American phenomenon, distinct from giallo – like a liberal morality play with a vague notion of game theory for a plot engine. A clapped out genre, but they keep on coming: I watched one last year to see if anything novel appeared, and it turned out all the victims were male, all the heroes female – the final girls, plural. An awful, colour-by-numbers effort, but big production values.

      As for the slashing of the Winnie movie in Hong Kong, the linked article contains some gory propaganda that audience members may find upsetting.

    2. tevhatch

      The Register isn’t a tech shop magazine so much as a NED/NSA cash recirculation device. They probably killed Pooh from paper cuts inflicted by filthy money.

    3. ChiGal

      sorry but an AA Milne slasher flick is such a gratuitous sacrilege that I think I’ll just go back to bed.

      1. ambrit

        So, is that how Eeyore keeps losing his tail? Simple plot mechanics in a slasher film? Milne was waaaaay ahead of his time.
        [“Don’t open that door! Don’t!”]

  12. Test

    “…. Oh, and per Alexander Mercouris, both pilots were wome….”. <—— NOT TRUE
    The women were engaged in anti drone fire during the recent Ukrainian drone attack on Sevastopol.
    The pilot(s) engaged in downing American drone were men and were recently awarded by Russian Minister of Defense… there are pictures available

  13. rusell1200

    For those interested in the London Review article on Graeber’s Book, I would strongly recommend:

    Mark G. Hanna – Pirate Nests and the Rise of the British Empire, 1570-1740

    It is densely written with a lot of information. It’s theses is not Graeber’s, per se, but it doesn’t really disagree with it either. It goes a long way to showing that our potted stories about early British North American colonialism aren’t even close to what was really going on. And that there is a lot of information showing this if you care to look.

    1. Keith in Modesto

      I hadn’t noticed that link (“When Thieves Retire London Review of Books”) or realized that lead to a review of a book by David Graeber (the book is “Pirate Enlightenment, or the Real Libertalia”). I read (most of) the article, and it was very interesting — now I will have to add it and the book you mention to my reading list. Thanks!

  14. Carolinian

    Re the Met in NYC relabeling paintings

    “Nationality descriptions can be very complex, especially when making posthumous attributions,” Glenn D. Lowry, the director of the museum, said in a statement to The Times. “We do rigorous research and approach the descriptions with sensitivity to the recorded nationality of the artist at death and birth, emigration and immigration dynamics, and changing geopolitical boundaries.”

    Meanwhile the Ukrainians themselves busy trying to erase the Russian heritage of the Donbas and Crimea (or perhaps the Ottoman heritage of the latter) and sweep under the rug the largely Polish heritage of Galicia not to mention Bandera and the whole Nazi thing which is also very much a part of their “heritage.”

    Clearly there are people at the museum who have way too much time on their hands. Art is supposed to be universal–the nationality of the artist merely an interesting sidebar for art (as opposed to political) historians.

    The Met Opera has been doing it too and has just been court ordered to pay $200,000 in contract fees to canceled Russian singer Anna Netrebko. Director Peter Gelb sniffed that someone who thinks like her deserves nothing.

    1. The Rev Kev

      I know that it is a meme but a lot of these Ukrainian activists act like the crazy, ex-girlfriend from hell in how they go after anything Russian. So it is not only re-labeling artwork but is also extending itself into literature. So-

      ‘The dispute, Shvydkoy notes, could now travel farther into literature, pointing to the Russian poet Alexander Pushkin’s African ancestry, Mikhail Lermontov’s Scottish ancestry and German philosopher Immanuel Kant’s birthplace in Königsberg, now Kaliningrad, once a German city but later part of the Soviet Union and now of the Russian Federation.’

      1. Carolinian

        Of course it’s the belief, not just of Putin, but now the Russians themselves that it is Russian culture itself that “the West” wants to erase–that this has been a long standing project. Hitler talked about how he hated commies but also those “subhuman Slavs” in need of enslavement or elimination. The current Ukrainians as well insist they are part of Europe and not those Slavs that they call “Orcs.” Borrell’s recent comments reflect the attitude of imperial hero Churchill who despised third worlders as a threat to “civilization” as represented by himself and England’s white burden.

        When racism comes it will be called anti-racism? Or is it just that any excuse is needed for the will to dominate as my Southerners once did to their slaves. True humanism is universal. People who lie to themselves don’t like that. After all they are a superior group.

        1. JBird4049

          >>> When racism comes it will be called anti-racism? Or is it just that any excuse is needed for the will to dominate as my Southerners once did to their slaves. True humanism is universal. People who lie to themselves don’t like that. After all they are a superior group.

          The Slavocracy was honest enough to accept that they were owning human beings, who were to them inferior people, as one would a cow or a chair; they did embrace with enthusiasm, perhaps agreeing with James C. Calhoun’s description of slavery as a “positive good.”

          Our elites act and apparently that the people, the disposable essentials, are but “tools that think,” which is a description by some Roman elites of their own slaves. However, the elites probably believe that the new AI and robotics make the old tools obsolete and too expensive anyways.

          Why worry about wars, plagues, and environmental collapse as they plan to move into some new wonderworlds leaving the barbarians outside to just die.

                1. ambrit

                  “Absence of proof doesn’t mean proof… Uh. Where was I? Oh, yes, the weather report.”
                  *Brain fog in Channel. Continent, er, something or other. And now to Sports!*
                  [And what if ‘The Beeb’ was now just another sub-variant of the Coronavirus? BBC 8.6.49? “Degrading the cognitive skills of Britons proudly for ages and ages!”]

                  1. Wukchumni

                    на здоровье!

                    I always thought ‘proof’ was the goofiest measure ever, why 200% of something when 100% would suffice?

                    To throw shade on proof, its also a method of minting special coins with a mirror surface and not meant for general circulation.

                    The US Mint puts out of a proof set of all circulating coins every year, as does most every other country.

                1. ambrit

                  Then we could play “Spin the Bottle 2.0.” In this game, we sit around in a circle and spin an empty bottle of Victory Gin. The “winner” then gets to spin the cylinder of a pistol which holds a single live round in it. If the “winner” survives the attempt, we spin the bottle again. Just like the Coronavirus, previous ‘experience’ in trying the second phase of the “experience” does not exempt one from being in the “winner” pool for the bottle spin. The ultimate “winner” of the game gets to keep the pistol as a souvenir.

            1. hemeantwell

              …don’t pick on Trotsky

              Amen. Permanent revolution is pretty much a defensive response to wars driven by wars of unlimited capital accumulation. Claiming Trotsky’s ideas inspired neocon imperialism was a frequent slur at when Raimondo, the founding editor, was alive.

      2. hk

        Having been embroiled, although, thankfully in good humor, in discussions about “true” nationalitie of people like Adomas Mickevicius/Adam Mickiewicz or Alexander of Macedon, I think trying to apply “modern” notions of nationalities retroactively is about the most insane thing anybody can do. Unfortunately, people seem to be doing it everywhere, not just crazy Poles/Lithuanians or Albanians/Greeks.

  15. LawnDart

    This headline is NOT satire:

    American IQ’s Are Dropping. Here’s Why It Might Not Be A Bad Thing

    The researchers found that scores associated with “verbal reasoning (logic, vocabulary), matrix reasoning (visual problem solving, analogies), and letter and number series (computational/mathematical)” all declined from 2006 to 2018, while scores for 3D rotation or spatial reasoning increased. These changes were consistent regardless of education level, age, or gender.

    1. semper loquitur

      “The researchers found that scores associated with “verbal reasoning (logic, vocabulary), matrix reasoning (visual problem solving, analogies), and letter and number series (computational/mathematical)” all declined from 2006 to 2018, while scores for 3D rotation or spatial reasoning increased.”

      Video games?

      1. Carolinian

        Or our hypervisual culture in general. People in Shakespeare’s day and on through the 19th century were verbal geniuses compared to us because that’s what they had.

    1. Randall Flagg

      Right to repair.
      Reminds me of a time a few years ago riding up to the Northeast Kingdom to visit my daughter at the farm she worked at then. Literally across the road from her place of employment, a neighboring farmer was mowing hay on an older tractor and there was a new John Deere along the fence row of the same field. Asked her what was up and she said the new tractor shut down, throwing some codes that required the dealer to send someone out to troubleshoot, yet the service guy couldn’t get there until the next day.
      No wonder the price of the older used tractors and combines has been so strong the last number of years.

  16. Mal d'Archive

    The MQ-9 and the Su-27 are outside of each other’s flight envelope. The top speed of the drone is slower than the minimum speed of the jet, therefore it was extremely difficult to control the jet anywhere near the drone. My guess: the pilots were trying to douse the drone by jettisoning fuel, hoping to set fire to it by engaging their afterburners as they passed. They struggled to control their aircraft at that slow speed and plowed into it.

    Flying like this is called “headbutting”, and it happens everywhere. A show of force, sharpening skills, frustration, whatever, but flying up another aircraft’s bup-bup is butterfingers.

    Russians might call this “smekalka”; everyone else knows it’s not having the right tool for the job, the leitmotif of Russia’s colonial project.

    1. tevhatch

      Hydrocarbon liquids in the normal composition of atmosphere don’t burn until they vaporize, but being hit with a few liters of fuel at a closing speed of 100 knots is like being hit by several brick-bats.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Thanks for that. I have been wondering myself if those bent propeller blades were a result of scores of liters of av-gas hitting them at speed. It sounds more logical than having those two aircraft somehow clip each other while that Su-27 was doing a steep climb. It sounded more likely than the Russian pilot cracking the canopy and whacking that bird with a shovel as it sped by.

        1. Revenant

          The commentary at various twitter feeds (Russians with Attitude, Dr Snekotron, Fennec Radar) and Intel Slava Z is that the pilots were either hitting it with the dumped fuel to damage it or to damage the engine by feeding fuel into the air intake, resulting in too rich a mix and either overspeed or flooding of the turboprop.

          Tactical genius if invented on the fly by the pilots; strategic genius if the Russians have been wargaming how to knock drones out of the sky by manoeuvres rather than projectiles….

        2. Polar Socialist

          Given the geometry of MQ-9’s tail end (looooong stabilizers everywhere) it would be really hard to hit only the propeller (and only one blade at that, if I recall the video correctly).

          What ever hit that blade was much smaller than a fighter plane. Or maybe, just maybe, a really recklessly flown fighter plane.

          1. Bill Malcolm

            The blade tip of the drone’s propeller is moving at multiple hundreds of miles per hour. It was a problem for fighter planes way back in WW2 when blade tip speeds reached the speed of sound. This lumbering drone’s tip speed with the new four-blade configuration is still likely to be 400 mph. That’s what everyone doesn’t seem to realize — forget about the difference in speed of the fighters and the drone. One tip smash into a solid blob of kersosene jet fuel (no av-gas involved) and it’s almost the same as hitting a solid object. Result, bent blade tip. Even with that, the US-released cam footage showed no overt vibration of the drone structure immediately afterwards. Whatever, the US decided to splash its own drone anyway, perhaps sensing the inevitable end.

    2. Carolinian

      That’s a great point which I had wondered about. Would it be like intercepting a Cessna?

      1. hk

        The British did some exercises back in 1970 or so about something like this: they were likely to get into a potential conflict with the Indonesians over Northern Borneo and Indonesians still had WW2 era Mustangs. So they took some Spitfires from their ceremonial demonstration squadron and sent them in mock combat against supersonic jets. The unpleasant discovery was that, while Spitfires could not possibly defeat the jets, it was extremely hard for the jets to do anything about the Spitfire either. Previously, there were similar encounters: in Korea, communist forces used Po-2 biplanes to harrass anti-communist forces at night. They were tiny and couldn’t do much damage, but they could fly so slow and low that no jet could catch them–and these biplanes were doing the same trick back in World War 2, when no proper prop fighters could catch them either–except, i think, the Italian built biplane fighters.

  17. antidlc

    I tried to find the post from a few days ago (I think it was from NC poster Chris), who asked about incidences of cancer.

    Kashyap Patel, MD, Sees Link Between COVID-19 and Cancer Progression, Calls for More Biomarker Testing

    Kashyap Patel, MD, CEO of Carolina Blood and Cancer Care Associates, sees something different in his practice since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic—not just with cancer care, but with cancer itself.

    Since March 2020, the longtime community oncologist has seen multiple patients in his Rock Hill, South Carolina, based-clinic with cholangiocarcinoma, and these patients are developing the rare cancer 20 to 30 years earlier than the typical age at presentation, which is usually 65 years or older.1 In the past year alone, physicians in Patel’s practice saw 7 patients with this cancer, and 3 have died.

    It is not just a single cancer type, either. Patel and his colleagues, both in the United States and those he knows overseas, have seen patients with rapidly progressing cancers of several types, such as breast cancer and renal cell carcinoma. During an interview with Evidence-Based Oncology™(EBO), Patel said several did not even have time to receive treatment and died within weeks of diagnosis.

    h/t to Michael Oleson

    Michael Olesen 💉😷🇺🇸🇺🇦
    “With COVID-19 added to the mix, Patel now fears a ‘perfect storm’ of factors will trigger inflammatory responses in some patients, causing cancer to arrive years earlier than normal and making it deadlier once it is diagnosed.”

    1. ambrit

      The Neoliberal Project just goes from strength to strength. Let us hope that this parasite does not kill it’s host.

  18. The Rev Kev

    “China’s billionaire population drops: 229 knocked off Global Rich List”

    That sounds like a win to me. Less billionaires? If that happened in America, I would consider that an excellent development. OK, they may be reduced to be merely hundred-millionaires but I am sure that in lifestyle, they would never notice the difference.

    1. skippy

      Considering the U.S. is neoliberal H.Q. its a hoot to see the oligarchs get bailed out endlessly and when China or Russia clip a few wings [as did FDR] all the sudden they are painted as anti freedom and liberty totalitarians ….

      Yet the unwashed cling to out football team is the best and supporting it means ***I*** am a winnar …

      Public goods be dammed ….

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        “Authoritarian” = not run by the billionaires.

        When a country’s leader asserts the public interest in opposition to the will of the billionaires, then that leader is “authoritarian.”

    1. vao

      Could that be a candidate for some kind of permanent link or sticky message somewhere on this website (if there are provisions for such things, of course)?

  19. antidlc

    Last week, Osterholm caught Covid-19 for the first time.

    I have no idea how I caught it,” he said. “I was wearing N95s [masks], the whole nine yards.”

    From his March 9 podcast:

    Dr. Osterholm: [00:01:50] Thanks, Chris, and welcome back to all the podcast family, this very special group of people that we are so appreciative to have as part of this podcast to work. To any of you who are new to the podcast, I hope today that we’re able to provide you with the kind of information you’re looking for that is helpful in understanding where we’re at and what we must need to consider with regard to this pandemic. And today I want to address some of the controversies that are occurring right now within the COVID world and the media and the social media world and hopefully provide some context to those controversies as to what do they mean to us every day in our lives. But I do want to comment first about something that happened this past week, and this was for both Chris and myself. We both attended the Bruce Springsteen concert here in Minnesota on Sunday night. And it was a show unlike I’ve ever seen before. Three hours of nonstop music only as the boss could deliver with an 18 member E Street band. It was simply remarkable. And I was there and I was very, very happy to be there with Fern. And I was there with my N95. On feeling confident that I would be protected if there were anyone there who was shedding the virus in my locale.

    Dr. Osterholm: [00:03:09] And it’s part of really almost coming out. It’s my way of understanding how can I be part of everyday society? How can I get myself back to what it was before the pandemic began and at the same time protecting myself as an aging man? And as many of you know, getting up there, I surely am at risk for potential serious illness, even though I’ve had all my doses of vaccine, which we will talk about that today, too. So I just wanted to share this with you on this moment of optimism that we can find more and more ways to live our lives with this virus. And we’ll talk about why for many people in society, the virus is done. As far as they’re concerned, they’re done with it and it’s done with them. And we’ll talk about that today, too. But in the context then of what we’re going to be really addressing today, I want to dedicate this podcast to a simple concept, one that shouldn’t need to ever be discussed. It should be assumed, and that is truth. Right now, we’re beginning to see more and more untruthful misinformation, disinformation messages out there about COVID and what’s happening or what did happen and how we reflect on what did happen. And I think that’s going to be very important for us as a society, as a world, to move forward and be better prepared for the next pandemic.

    Later on, he says there were 18,000 people at that concert.

    1. ChiGal

      yeah, I listened to that one and it caught my ear when he said because he was wearing a well-fitting N95 he felt safe! On Death Panel they call out the propagation of the lie that one-way masking works as an important component of the “social production of the end of the pandemic.”

      Cidrap itself published a handy dandy table a while back from a study showing how long transmission takes given various statuses/types of masking between two people.

      As I recall it only took a masked person a few hours to be infected by someone wearing no mask at all. much better than no mask to no mask which was something like 10 min, but still…

      Bummer, have really appreciated his leadership up to now as one of those experts who demonstrate it is possible to be careful. haven’t listened yet this week and I sure hope he doesn’t actually say he has no idea how he got it—what a disservice to so many of us who have counted on him for truth and nuance for years now!

  20. semper loquitur

    re: liberal commitments

    Is it just me, or did that article basically consist of a guy explaining how liberal values are necessary and wonderful but every time liberals get into power they become profoundly illiberal? I realize he makes the distinction between “liberal” and “liberalism” but is that anything more than a bit of word-play? Sure, open mindedness and fairness and such are nice but where and when have they actually been realized beyond a few individuals? And how do you instill these liberal values if everyone who is liberal eventually becomes a neoliberal? Do they ever stick? I can honestly say I’ve -never- met a liberal in the form he describes.

    1. hunkerdown

      The power of invidious floating signifiers as fiat virtue. “Liberal” will do no more good as a Pavlovian table condiment on grand but false Protestant ideals than its self-flattering palimpsest predecessor “Godly” did.

    2. Cat Burglar

      Reading the Walzer interview was like a trip back to the left-liberal discourse of the 50s and 60s.

      How could he discuss liberalism and social democracy, but not make a single mention of the Sanders campaign? You get the feeling he wants the left to remain an open fund for the Dems to draw upon when needed. His position has not aged well.

      His mention of anarchists not being in the public view is pretty strange, but I guess he lives far from Portland, and does not get out much.

  21. The Rev Kev

    “Garland, Scott and Me.”

    Been listening to this excellent discussion and it is well worth listening to with some hard truths being slapped down. Ritter makes the point of how Australia is going to spend hundreds of billions of dollars protecting Australia’s trade line to China – from China. Yes, I know that this was a comedy skit but the Deputy Prime Minister actually came out the other day and said that the purpose of these nuke subs is to protect our trade routes-

  22. pjay

    – “Exclusive: Trump breaks cover for a round of golf as Alvin Bragg ‘struggles’ to convince grand jury to charge him with ‘weak’ case’ that has split the DA’s office: Panel probing Stormy Daniels payment reconvenes tomorrow Daily Mail. Reader Li points out that Trump had said he’d come to New York to surrender (and rumor has it he intended to bring his own cameraman). However, Li argues his much better play would be to stay in Florida. New York would have to extradite him. DeSantis would have to sign the extradition order, which would put DeSantis in a no-win situation.”

    My apologies for copying this entire post and comment, but all of it is so hilarious: Trump playing golf; the long DM headline; Li’s observation about the DeSantis dilemma (I wondered about that myself); Trump bringing his own cameraman — it’s just too funny. So many win-win opportunities for the showman/conman Trump to increase visibility and support. And all because the Trump-deranged establishment is hysterically desperate, trying everything to keep him from running again, not realizing that each such effort makes him more popular.

  23. Mikel
    (from the producers of the expose on Adani Group)
    An Excerpt of the beginning:

    – Block Inc., formerly known as Square Inc., is a $44 billion market cap company that claims to have developed a “frictionless” and “magical” financial technology with a mission to empower the “unbanked” and the “underbanked”.
    – Our 2-year investigation has concluded that Block has systematically taken advantage of the demographics it claims to be helping. The “magic” behind Block’s business has not been disruptive innovation, but rather the company’s willingness to facilitate fraud against consumers and the government, avoid regulation, dress up predatory loans and fees as revolutionary technology, and mislead investors with inflated metrics.

    Mostly about Block’s Cash App platform.

    Note: Just a month or so ago, I had a nephew that wanted me to send money via Cash App.
    I sent him a wire via regular bank channels. (Me: wipes sweat from brow)

  24. Wukchumni

    … I am just an ageing Illionaire
    And in the wars I used to play
    And I’ve called a tune to many a manna session
    Now they say the market isn’t long for the world
    And Its fading away
    Father, please hear my confession

    … I have legalized robbery
    Called it belief
    I have run with the money
    I have a-hid like a thief
    Re-written history
    With my armies and my crooks
    Invented memories
    I did burn all the books

    … And I can still hear his laughter
    And I can still hear his song

    … The man’s too big
    The man’s too strong

    … Well I tried to be meek
    I have tried to be mild
    But I wrote of things in my domain
    Where the unworthy made a pile
    I have lived behind online paywalls
    That have made me read headlines alone
    Striven for exposure
    Of the unknown knowns

    … And I can still hear his laughter
    And I can still hear his song

    … The man’s too big
    The man’s too strong

    … Well the sun rose on the courtyard
    And they all did hear him say
    I always was a Judas
    But made bank anyway
    You may have got your $1200
    But I swear upon my life
    Your government gave me PPP
    To spend as i’d like

    … Oh Plutus, please help me
    For I have done wrong

    … The man’s too big
    The man’s too strong

    The Man’s Too Strong, by Dire Straits

    1. Christopher Peters

      I believe that this Dire straits classic is also relevant to our times:

      Industrial disease … cough, Germany, Old Blighty (do they have any industry left?)

      Recommendation – File away for potential comedic material … paging Antifa, other bards of NC

      1. Wukchumni

        Love Dire Straits, saw them half a dozen times, once in Brighton and then the next day saw Springsteen in Wembley.

        I did this take on that song, and its in the NC Songbook:

        Now, warning lights are flashing down at crypto quality control
        Somebody wanted their gotten gains out of a glory hole
        There’s rumors in the numismatrix and anger in the town
        Somebody pulled a lever, and no reinforcement came down
        There’s a meetin’ with an attorney, they’re tryin’ to trace the amount
        There’s a leak in an online chatroom, there’s diarrhea of the mouth
        Somewhere in the corridors someone was soon fleeced
        Goodness me, could this be late stage crypto disease?

        FTX caretaker was crucified for sleeping at his post
        Refusing to be pacified, it’s him they blame the most
        whatever is in the cupboard, the Bahamas done seize
        Everyone concerned about late stage crypto disease
        There’s panic on the internet, emoji nooses in knots
        Most lack sympathy, some come on as bought & paid for bots
        Some blame the management, some the employees
        Everybody knows it’s late stage crypto disease

        Yeah, now the Winklevoss are disgusted, out a billion unwilling
        Innocence is injured, somebody made a killing
        Everyone seeks withdrawals, everyone agrees that
        These are classic symptoms of a monetary mirage squeeze
        On the internet they talk about the virtual tulip curse
        usability is useless, worthiness is worse
        History boils over, there’s a frozen virtual floral frieze
        Cyberscribes invent words that mean “late stage crypto disease’

        Andrew Ross Sorkin declared, “I’m not surprised to see you here
        You’ve got Kubrick stare from smirking, laughing @ newly austere
        I don’t know how you came to get the do-gooder need
        But worst of all young man, you’ve got late stage crypto disease”

        He was pushing NYT subscriptions, and said, “You are depressed
        But I’m glad you came to see me to get this off your manly chest…
        Come back and see me later, next mirage money mogul please
        Send in another victim of late stage crypto disease”

        Industrial Disease, by Dire Straits

        1. MaryLand

          One of my favorite bands. Envious that you got to see them so many times! I hope you or another NC poet uses “Sultans of Swing” soon.

          1. Wukchumni

            They showed up when disco was running circles around my 16 year old mind, just in time!

            Glad to be of assistance over in the Water Cooler…

  25. bassmule

    Congress beats up on Evil Chinese Man:

    “TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew has come across so far as soft-spoken, earnest and temperate — and lawmakers aren’t buying any of it. Chew has yet to find a sympathetic ear, or even a modicum of trust that he’s telling the truth, among House committee members of either party. Many appear convinced that China’s laws make it impossible for any Chinese-owned company to be trusted with Americans’ data, rendering Chew’s defenses moot.

    So when Chew admits to shortcomings, as when he said TikTok’s content moderation isn’t “perfect,” they’re evidence of a problem. When he expresses anything less than certainty, as when he said he has “no evidence” that the Chinese government has ever accessed American user data, it’s taken as an admission of guilt. Likewise when he says it’s complicated, as in the question of whether any Chinese engineers have the ability to access TikTok users’ data.

    TikTok Live Updates Washington Post

    1. Wukchumni

      Tulare Lake was once the largest body of water west of the Great Lakes until it was drained out and unlike much of the rest of the Central Valley where orchards tend to be the norm around these parts, cotton & tomatoes are grown there-annual crops.

      Thanks to seemingly most every inch (an exaggeration-but not really) of Godzone having something Ag going on, and the idea that there has been oh so much subsidence since the lake was drained, the areas where wells predominated (that would be all of the Central Valley) will not replenish aquifers as there’s no place for the water to go, the soil being so heavily compacted.

      It’d be akin to the Aral Sea filling up again all of the sudden.

      Check out the map of the battleground of 6 rivers flowing from the western flank of the High Sierra, all converging on Tulare Lake.

      We’re supposed to get another couple of feet up top, its getting to be a situation where the straw broke the camel’s back, how much more snowpack can be added on?

      By the way, this week is the FresYes Fest, and i’m trying to keep my streak of not going intact, hope I don’t weaken.

  26. The Rev Kev

    ‘Germany may face a shortage of gas next winter, in order to avoid this, companies and households will have to further reduce their consumption, – head of the German Federal Grid Agency Klaus Mueller.’

    The Financial Times is now talking about what we have been talking about here on NC since the middle of last year.

      1. Paul J-H


        In other news, in Finland we’ll have elections after next week and there is a fairly strong discourse (on the right and with populists) that the high energy prices in Winter were caused by the green transition and that Finland’s next government should roll that back somehow.

        But in the whole European scheme we’re doing ok I think: we have never had so much wind power, the new nuclear powerplant is more or less online and people save electricity (you must, with all these electric saunas!)

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