Links 4/27/2023

Squawk bots: Can generative AI lead us to understanding animals? Google Cloud. By Betteridge’s Law, no.

Repos Rising Again As Subprime Auto Loans Put Owners Way Behind The Drive

America’s Industrial Transition Apricitas Economics


Rewilding the planet Nature

War and subsidies have turbocharged the green transition Economist


Non-pharmaceutical interventions:

Changes in the Incidence of Invasive Bacterial Disease During the COVID-19 Pandemic in the United States, 2014–2020 The Journal of Infectious Diseases. From the Abstract: “[Nonpharmaceutical interventions (NPIs)] likely contributed to the decline in IBD incidence in the United States in 2020; observed declines were unlikely to be driven by reductions in testing.”

An estimate of pediatric lives saved due to non-pharmacologic interventions during the early COVID-19 pandemic (preprint) medRxiv. From the Main section: “Historical data also show that external deaths in [children ages >1 year] typically increase in the summer. The present data show that unlike medical deaths, the typical seasonal trends in external mortality were not disrupted by pandemic-related behavioral changes…but were nonetheless statistically higher than expected. This natural experiment indicates that pandemic interventions likely averted thousands of pediatric deaths due to medical causes, most notably during the first full winter (2021), when interventions were most intense across the nation and the virus had not yet reached all parts of the country. In that winter of 2021, the usual seasonal increase in medical causes of childhood mortality was effectively eliminated.”

* * *

Long-Term Adverse Effects of Mild COVID-19 Disease on Arterial Stiffness, and Systemic and Central Hemodynamics: A Pre-Post Study Journal of Clinical Medicine. From the Abstract: “COVID-19-associated vascular disease complications are primarily associated with endothelial dysfunction; however, the consequences of disease on vascular structure and function, particularly in the long term (>7 weeks post-infection), remain unexplored. Individual pre- and post-infection changes in arterial stiffness as well as central and systemic hemodynamic parameters were measured in patients diagnosed with mild COVID-19…. The results point toward the existence of a widespread and long-lasting pathological process in the vasculature following mild COVID-19 disease, with heterogeneous individual responses, some of which may be triggered by an autoimmune response to COVID-19.” Note “mild,” twice.

Covid Omicron Variant: ‘Rats had a hand in creating longest-running Omicron variant’ Times of India. Hmm.

* * *

Turkey’s Erdogan cancels election rallies for health reasons and Mexican president says he blacked out due to COVID-19, now OK Reuters. As I asked: “What happens when 20% of the ruling class loses substantial cognitive function?

* * *

What lessons have we learned from the COVID pandemic? NPR. Zelikow PR blitz. Zelikow: “And this book really is kind of a revelation about, how do we restore a reputation for competence and problem solving?” #CovidIsAirborne, so start cleaning indoor air. (When I get the book, I will also look for one word of thanks and praise for people who implemented NPIs, especially masks. The words Biden has never given, not once. That would help, too.)

Review: ‘I Know Who Caused COVID-19′: Pandemics and Xenophobia MR Online


Covid-19 cases are rising in China but economic impact seen as ‘limited’ South China Morning Post. “Until it started rising again this month, the percentage of people testing positive for the virus had steadily fallen from a peak of 29.2 per cent on December 25.” 29.2%? Official figures? That’s a lot.

China, Greece explore potential to boost cooperation on shipping, trade Hellenic Shipping News. Speculating freely: Since China owns Piraeus, why not Odessa next?

China’s Dominance Over U.S. Solar Market Grows Despite Efforts to Stem It WSJ

Taiwan drills to focus on piercing blockade, get ‘Five Eyes’ intelligence link Channel News Asia

The Koreas

US, South Korea sign deal to deter nuclear attacks from North Korea Anadolu Agency

Parking missile subs in South Korea creates multiple risk scenarios (press release) NewsWise


Iran court orders US, Obama to pay $313m for ‘terrorist’ attacks Al Jazeera

For the ‘Flower Men’ of Saudi Arabia, A Handcrafted Tradition Heralds Beauty and Health Colossal

Dear Old Blighty

Starmer’s goal is to be nastier than the Nasty Party Jonathon Cook

The wellbeing economy: Can it really work? Holyrood

Scattering Gaggle London Review of Books. On the Spanish Armada.

New Not-So-Cold War

Ukraine’s coming counter-offensive may shape its future—and Europe’s The Economist. “Ukraine may never have a better chance than this.”

Ukraine is in “good position” for counter-offensive – Supreme Allied Commander Europe Ukrainska Pravdaa

* * *

The West should supply Ukraine with F-16s The Economist

DOD Digs In: F-16s Not a Priority for Ukraine, Despite Russian Airpower Air and Space Forces

* * *

Snap Insight: Xi-Zelenskyy phone call could trigger real effort towards ending Ukraine war Channel News Asia

Time for Biden to come clean on Ukraine Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft

How to End the War in Ukraine Boston Review. Key sentence: “The United States and its allies could make an open-ended commitment to continue training Ukraine’s army and provide it weaponry so that it possesses the military wherewithal for deterrence and, failing that, self-defense.” Give credit, Ukrainians, especially the Nazis, are massive trier\s. So in ten years, they give it another go. Why would Russia accept this?

Russia can fund war in Ukraine for another year despite sanctions, leaked document says WaPo

Biden Administration

One Neat Trick to Raise the Debt Limit Bloomberg

Big Tech Blocked: Microsoft Stopped from Taking Over Gaming Matt Stoller, BIG

Republican Funhouse

No, You Are The Baffler

The Supremes

Supreme Court draws fire for ethics inaction NBC

Urgent: The Roberts Court Hogeland’s Bad History (RK).

B-a-a-a-d Banks

First Republic shares sink again, down nearly 60% in week AP

Banking Problems May Be Tip of Debt Iceberg WSJ

Welcome to a new, humbler private-equity industry The Economist

Spook Country

The Russiagate Playbook: ex-CIA chief admits interference in two straight elections (excerpt) Aaron Maté. The deck: “Former CIA deputy director Mike Morell admits that the Biden campaign triggered the false claim that the Hunter laptop story was ‘Russian disinformation.'”

Now They’re Trying Censor Your Text Messages Michael Shellenberger, Public. The deck: “The Censorship Industrial Complex wants to censor ‘problematic content’ on WhatsApp, Signal, Telegram, and other encrypted text messaging apps.”

Digital Watch

Dating apps suck, so I let a chatbot flirt with strangers for me. Things got weird fast LA Times. Hard to see how the quantity of bullshit in dating apps could possibly be increased, but perhaps readers can experiment… .

Walmart Is Using AI to Negotiate the Best Price With Some Vendors Bloomberg

The Bezzle

Using crypto for crime is not a bug — it’s an industry feature FT

KPMG fined £1mn over ‘rudimentary’ failures in TheWorks audit FT

Class Warfare

‘The Thing That’s Made the Union Strong Is to Privilege the Lowest Paid’ FAIR

Tesla broke U.S. labor law by silencing workers, official rules Reuters

More on Consultants Pedestrian Observations

Capital’s Militant New Left Review. Peter Thiel.

The Quest for Longevity Is Already Over Wired. “[Jay Olshansky, an epidemiologist at the University of Illinois at Chicago], says that the quest for longevity in the developed world is mostly already over. We already live exceptionally long lives, he points out.” Sure, but what about Third World countries, where life expectancy is decreasing?

Public records are my passion. They can be yours too. Brutal South

Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. The Rev Kev

    As I asked: “What happens when 20% of the ruling class loses substantial cognitive function?”

    Based on what I have seen the past year or so, “How would we tell the difference?”

    1. jefemt

      My thought when I saw that question was,
      America 2023?
      Certainly my home state Montana, which seems to be intent on rivalling TN, TX, and FL
      for infamous notorious inanity.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Could be worse. Did Montana embark on spending several hundred billion dollars on weapon systems that it won’t receive for at least twenty years? It’s all late stage empire everywhere you look.

    2. Mildred Montana

      Just to clarify, the “ruling class” in the USA is corporate, not political.

      Brain-dead politicians are of no consequence to corporations, as long as those self-same lawmakers can sit upright in a chair and vote “aye” for the latest corporate-sponsored legislation.

      The current gerontocracy corresponds neatly with the rise of corporate power over the past fifty years.

    3. spud

      i do not think that covid alters their behavior, after all, are the outcomes for america any different under biden, then the outcomes that happened under bill clinton and barack obama.

      so covid does not affect a mind already driven by lust, greed and stupidity. that work was already accomplished years ago.

      so to that type, covid is just like a flu. so move along here.

      1. Laura

        It started with Reagan. You never go back far enough.

        I don’t say this because I like Clinton or Obama or don’t like Reagan. I despise them all. I say it because it’s important for understanding.

        We wouldn’t have gotten NAFTA if it weren’t for the original bilateral, the 1985 Israel-US trade deal, which was opposed by most of American industry at the time. The theretofore very powerful California Agriculture industry was vehemently against it. Its biggest supporters were the vaunted Israel Lobby and the Heritage Foundation.

        Reagan’s firing of the air traffic controllers was instrumental in changing the zeitgeist concerning capital-labor relations.

    4. albrt

      I had my first wake-up call on this issue in the past two weeks. A judge I know personally issued decisions in two different cases. The judge used to be intelligent and good at analyzing complex situations. The recent decisions demonstrated little ability to see even rudimentary implications or consequences. The decisions appeared to be motivated mainly by frustration and anger at the party making the more complicated argument. The result was giving the winners exactly what they asked for, and defending it on appeal will be the winners’ problem. Classic bad judge behavior.

      So I think Lambert’s formulation should be read as “What happens when an additional 20% of the ruling class loses substantial cognitive function?”

        1. John Anthony La Pietra

          Maybe my own cognitive impairment is showing, but I’m not coming up with a good “de-acronym” for TIVS. For what long form is this the acronym, please?

      1. The Rev Kev

        Rather ominous that. Having more sand in the gears of society I mean. I suppose that people will need their mobiles more for reminders, remembering plans and events, etc.

  2. griffen

    First Republic shares are circling the drain. Plan to sell off some low interest mortgages and other sundry unappealing assets, that’ll be a short term fix but long term solutions seem to be limited. Kudos to any bank interest rate risk testing that included this scenario. Deposits will flee and our borrowing costs will incrementally go higher.

    Maybe the brand name is worth salvaging in a merger scenario. Much like a defunct Sears/Kmart retailer that still had those Craftsman tools as a still worthy line, something is better than nothing at all.

    1. Wukchumni

      Mirror mirror on the Wall*Street crystal ball…

      Which too big to flail bank is the cleanest dirty shirt of all?

    2. The Rev Kev

      So the next time the Feds raise the interest rates to punish poorer people, will that have the secondary effect of pushing First Republic off the edge? How much money will they have to use to bail out this bank?

      1. Sardonia

        “How much money will they have to use to bail out this bank?”

        A lot. No one will buy it, because if their loan portfolio is marked to market they are deeply underwater. A buyer who pays a penny for it is buying tens of billions of dollars worth of negative equity.

        A few years ago I needed to refi some investment properties that almost no bank would touch. Weeks of shopping finally found 3 of them – and First Republic’s rate was almost half of the others – and interest only for 10 years. Outstanding. I was stunned and grabbed the deals.

        They made tons of these loans, hoping to establish relationships with high net worth individuals (I am not one, but they gave me the deal anyway – it was just their standard offering). A year later they were still offering these mortgages – at under 3%. Those loans are all still on their books. It’s a toxic portfolio. $100 billion in deposits fled in the last month or so – and the remaining deposits are mostly over the FDIC limits – so they are losing deposits fast. Sinking ship….

        1. Wukchumni

          I’d leave it up Janet to planet Earth to plan it, damn it
          Her word salad days are balsamic
          Croutons of wisdom can cure & calm it
          Making bacon bits out of rash decisions is comic
          Her dressing down of the situation looks a bit chronic
          FDIC what your doing and they didn’t say can it
          All I can say Janet is the feeling is plutocracy platonic

          1. The Rev Kev

            Saw one of Yellen’s brilliant ideas yesterday-

            ‘She rejected the idea that a war between the US and China is “increasingly inevitable,” that there is “no reason to fear healthy economic competition with any country,” and that “China’s economic growth need not be incompatible with US economic leadership.”’


            So as long as China accepts the US running the world economically, then they will let China grow their economy. Sounds legit.

        2. Objective Ace

          Talked to a couple at a barbeque who said they refi’d their student loans with First Rebublic at 1.5 percent.. no idea the duration, but WTF!

        3. Mildred Montana

          >“How much money will they have to use to bail out this bank?”

          Looks like that consortium of banks who generously (sic) contributed $30 billion in uninsured deposits to FRC will be asking for their money back. From the FDIC of course, which equally generously (sic) offered insurance on *all* accounts, not just those <$250,000.

          So those banks will get their money back, knowing full well that the FDIC would change the rules and protect them, at the expense of bank customers everywhere. With taxpayers next in line to foot the bill.

          One has to wonder, however, what did FRC do with the $30 billion? That massive injection of cash appears not to have worked. Where did it go? Where is it now? These questions need answering because $30 billion is a whole lotta grifting temptation.

          1. Henry Moon Pie

            From the FDIC of course, which equally generously (sic) offered insurance on *all* accounts, not just those with less than $250,000.

            I don’t believe that this is the case. They found that SVB’s and Signature’s failures constituted systemic risks to the system, and applied a full bailout. They will also have to find that FirstRep’s failure constitutes a systemic risk and so on, bank by bank.

            They have done their best to obfuscate this, hoping most will believe what officials seem to be saying, i.e. that all will be bailed out. In the event that this spreads, that would probably bankrupt the insurance fund or at least drastically increase the rates banks pay for FDIC insurance. At some point, they will have to say no bailout.

            1. Mildred Montana

              You might be right about FRC not having its uninsured deposits guaranteed by the FDIC. But I find it hard to believe that those other banks would so “kind-heartedly” donate $30 billion to a moribund bank without federal protection of some sort, either now or in the future

        4. jrkrideau

          I realize that bankers are not too smart in general but I wonder if a history course Great Banking & Economic Fiascoes over the Ages covering maybe the Fuggers & Spain, the South Sea Bubble, the Great Depression, the 2008 Débâcle and so on might help?

          Please add your favourite financial débâcle .

          1. ForFawkesSakes

            Extraordinary Popular Delusions And The Madness of Crowds by Charles Mckay should be required reading right now. Despite being published in the 1850’s, it’s relevant to our current moment.

            Reflecting on bubbles and mob mentality, there’s examination of economic and social aspects.

            Tons of bias and smug snark, it’s still a wonderful read.

    3. flora

      Ed Dowd says the M2 YoY growth (the expansion of credit in the banking system) went negative territory in Nov. 2022. It’s the 5th time that’s happened since 1868. The other 4 times resulted in historical bank failures and financial panics. The last time was in 1930.

      (Is this what’s behind the push for CBDCs ?)

      (Not to mention the growing clampdown on public and private speech.)

      1. John k

        So something new… our first experience with negative credit expansion in an economy running on a sovereign fiat currency, at least in modern times. Imo no needed liquidity crisis under fiat, but we’ll get a serious recession if the fed allows the contraction to continue – plus, the fed likely will be forced to back off as election approaches.

  3. zagonostra

    >US becoming ‘one-party state’ – Tucker Carlson

    I watched an unannounced video that TC posted on Twitter at 8:00 pm yesterday evening, his normal time slot but obviously not his normal Fox space. It had over 2.5 million views then, with all the retweets and secondary post, like on RT, he probably reached over 5 million.

    If you take Elon Musk’s recent BBC interview, the MSM (maybe I should start using Max Blumenthal’s term, Regime Media) is not having a good month.

      1. John

        I would much appreciate periodic heads up from the commentariat as to where someone like Tucker Carlson is to be found on You tube or Twittter or Telegram, etc. I did not watch his show on Fox. I watch almost no MSM television news, but I have found occasional postings of his monologues to be enlightening, affirming, infuriating, and sometimes a combination of those attributes. He has been more realist than fantasist on importantissues.

        I doubt he will be silenced for long.

          1. zagonostra

            That Twitter account as of couple of hours ago had 42 million views in less than 24hrs,15x what he would have received if he were on Fox at the same time, 8:00 pm. This does not included millions of views on other outlets.

    1. Craig H.

      The United States has been a one party state for around 20 years. My first tell was approximately October 1 2001 waiting for a bus to go to work and 98% of the cars on the road had those stupid little plastic American flags attached above the door frame snapping in air as the cars zoomed by with the first generation robot drivers.

      I only realized this many months later of course. Project New American Century new Pearl Harbor &c.

      1. jsn

        Julius Nyerere, 1982:
        “The United States is also a one-party state but, with typical American extravagance, they have two of them.

        Then there’s Gore Vidal I don’t have a date for:
        “There is only one party in the United States, the Property Party … and it has two right wings: Republican and Democrat. Republicans are a bit stupider, more rigid, more doctrinaire in their laissez-faire capitalism than the Democrats, who are cuter, prettier, a bit more corrupt — until recently … and more willing than the Republicans to make small adjustments when the poor, the black, the anti-imperialists get out of hand. But, essentially, there is no difference between the two parties.”

        It’s been going on for a while.

        1. pjay

          You could argue (correctly in my view) that the dominant political parties in the US have always represented elite factions, with rhetoric about “the people” mainly a contrivance to win votes. But there have always been individuals and social/political movements that have occasionally forced policies for the greater good. That said, I do think we reached a critical crossroads in the mid to late 1970s, when Vietnam, Watergate, and related revelations led to some actual Congressional investigations (instead of the usual cover-up kind), the public was allowed a peek behind the curtain, and there was a real possibility for reform. The story of how that potential was hijacked, undermined, and soon destroyed is the story of how we ended up here, why there are not even any Frank Churches or William Proxmires anymore, and why Seymour Hersh has to publish at Substack.

          I also think the explosion of the internet allowed another brief window of curtain-peeking beyond that allowed by the usual media gatekeepers. This one has especially exposed our “two party democracy” for the sham that it is. We are seeing the elite reaction to that glitch in the machinery now.

          1. flora

            Yes. It’s almost forgotten now that once upon a time, as this Tablet magzine article notes,:

            I would also suggest that it is an empirical fact that far more significant legislation of far more benefit to poor and working people passed the U.S. Congress in the 1970s and even the 1980s than is ever proposed, let alone passed into law, by the tribunes of TikTok and Fox News. Before it was transformed into an instrument of billionaire oligarchs and their nonprofit bureaucracies and the American security state, the Democratic Party proved itself capable of delivering tangible benefits to tens of millions of ordinary Americans in the places where they lived—whether that meant urban church parishes or the Ozarks. Once upon a time, the Democratic Party aimed to make the lives of ordinary people better, by working through the institutions that they built and valued, rather than subjecting them to tedious lectures about right-think and using the government as an instrument to punish anyone who said the wrong words the wrong way.


            That was long ago and far away. Does anyone under 40 remember that time? Maybe that time was before the US became what some call an oligarchy, when there was still some pretense of acting for the common good on some things just to be acceptable in society.

  4. c_heale

    Banking Problems May Be Tip of Debt Iceberg, substitute ‘is’ for ‘may be’ and it will be accurate.

    1. Wukchumni

      How to destroy a currency, or how I learned to love the debt bomb…

      First you have the public lose faith in their fiat fortresses by offering nothing really aside from a place to put your moolah, with their near zill interest rates that would allow you to double your money in a few hundred years, as meanwhile in the real world inflation is running rampant on everything, except interest rates.

      The smarties scurrying off the mooring ropes to the treasury wharf are getting 5% for the effort which beats the brick & mortar banks, but then treasuries prove to be poor havens as inflation quite frankly runs amuck and being anchored to 5% is a debt sentence.

      1. flora

        But then, do the treasuries ever cycle from the Fed to the real economy. In theory at least, savings in a bank are recycled into the real economy as loans to local businesses and homebuyers, etc. So, great if you can earn more in treasuries, but is that at the same time reducing further the expansion of credit to the real economy?

        1. JP

          This is a common misconception. Banks do not loan deposits. I will not attempt to describe the process of loan creation but check out MMT on the issue or one of Cullen Roach’s deep dives.

          1. John Zelnicker

            And, treasuries don’t cycle into the real economy either. Your money sits there until maturity when it is returned to you with interest. The federal government doesn’t use those funds, it creates new money whenever it spends.

          2. Acacia

            Banks do not loan deposits.

            Yes, see also Richard Werner:

            Shifting from Central Planning to a Decentralised Economy: Do we Need Central Banks?

            See, especially: § II.1. “Banks are not financial intermediaries, but creators of the money supply”.

            For a deeper dive:

            Richard Werner speaking in Moscow on the Central Bank issue

            1. Yves Smith

              You are using incorrect nomenclature.

              Banks indeed do not loan deposits (or other pre-existing savings). They create new deposits. Their loans produce a deposit in the borrower’s account.

  5. Bosko

    Has there been any good analysis on the “hour-long” phone call between Xi and Zelensky? I’ve seen multiple articles at this point suggesting that Zelensky has worked his charisma on Xi, based mostly on the fact that the conversation was an hour long. First, I find it hard to believe that Zelensky could convince Xi of anything, since the UKR/US/EU side of the proxy war cuts so sharply against China’s interests, China and Russia both being targets of neocon regime-change fantasies; I also find Zelensky to be utterly charmless.

    But wouldn’t it bother Xi and his circle to deign to talk to Zelensky on the phone, and then have the latter crowing about the length and depth of the conversation on Twitter and all over the western media? Wouldn’t the media suggestion that Zelensky ‘talked some sense’ into Xi be irritating to him, and potentially troubling to Russia/China relations? Or would the Russians and Chinese just see these reports as meaningless propaganda?

      1. jrkrideau

        I read a couple of blogs, Indian Punchline for one, that tend to see Global Times as pretty much a reflexion of Official CPC thought.

        So far I’d say they are correct.

      2. ChrisPacific

        Interesting. It seems like China wants to position itself as the adult in the room and paint the US as a warmonger with no interest in peace. Possibly they hope to win more countries to their side, isolate the US, and take on the UN leadership role that the US has largely abdicated (“China upholds the purposes and principles of the UN Charter in international affairs and has significant influence on the international stage.” = Now that the US has gone bats–t crazy, maybe you should listen to us instead).

    1. timbers

      Someone posted an English translation of the Chinese readout in comments section at MOA. Pretty bland stuff, don’t see any “simpatico” btwn the 2 IMO. Meanwhile, Germany is brilliantly following up on Scholz’s trip to China to drum up trade with bans on tech exports to China and Italy is considering pulling out of Belt & Road. China is fast becoming the New Russia.

      “In the afternoon of April 26, President Xi Jinping spoke by phone with President Zelensky of Ukraine by appointment. The two sides exchanged views on China-Ukraine relations and the crisis in Ukraine.

      Xi noted that China-Ukraine relations have gone through 31 years of development and reached the level of strategic partnership, which has provided a boost to the development and revitalization of each country. I appreciated President Zelensky’s repeated expressions of the importance he attaches to the development of China-Ukraine relations and cooperation with China, and thanked the Ukrainian side for its strong assistance in evacuating Chinese citizens last year. Mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity is the political basis of China-Ukraine relations. Both sides should look to the future, adhere to the long-term perspective and planning of relations between the two countries, continue the tradition of mutual respect and sincere treatment between the two sides, and push forward the strategic partnership between China and Ukraine. China’s will to develop China-Ukraine relations is consistent and clear. No matter how the international landscape changes, China is willing to work with the Ukrainian side to move forward the mutually beneficial cooperation between the two countries.

      Xi noted that the complex evolution of the Ukrainian crisis has had a significant impact on the international situation. On the Ukrainian crisis, China has always been on the side of peace, and its core position is to urge peace and promote talks. I have successively put forward the 四个应该 “four shoulds,” 四个共同 “four commons,” and 三点思考 “three points of reflection.” On this basis, China also issued a document entitled “China’s Position on Political Settlement of the Crisis in Ukraine.” China is not the author of the crisis in Ukraine, nor is it a party to it. As a permanent member of the UN Security Council and a responsible big country, we will neither watch the fire from across the river nor pour oil on the fire, nor will we take advantage of the opportunity to make profits. What China is doing is open and aboveboard. Dialogue and negotiation are the only viable way out. There is no winner in a nuclear war. All parties concerned should remain calm and restrained in dealing with the nuclear issue, and truly look at the future and destiny of themselves and all mankind, and work together to manage and control the crisis. Now that rational thinking and voices are increasing, all parties should seize the opportunity to accumulate favorable conditions for a political solution to the crisis. We hope that all parties will reflect deeply on the crisis in Ukraine and, through dialogue, seek a common way for the long-term stability of Europe. China will insist on urging peace and promoting talks, and make its own efforts to stop the war and ceasefire and restore peace as soon as possible. China will send its Special Representative for Eurasian Affairs to Ukraine and other countries for in-depth communication with all parties on the political settlement of the Ukrainian crisis. China has already provided a number of shipments of humanitarian aid to Ukraine and is ready to continue to provide assistance within its capabilities.

      Zelenskiy congratulated President Xi Jinping on his re-election, appreciated China’s extraordinary achievements, and believed that under his leadership, China will successfully meet various challenges and continue to move forward. China upholds the purposes and principles of the UN Charter in international affairs and exerts great influence in the international arena. Ukraine adheres to the one-China policy and hopes to develop comprehensive cooperation with China to open a new chapter in Ukraine-China relations and work together to maintain world peace and stability. Zelensky presented his views on the current crisis in Ukraine, thanked China for the humanitarian assistance provided to Ukraine, and welcomed the important role of China in restoring peace and resolving the crisis through diplomatic means.”

      1. Bosko

        Thanks–‘bland’ is a good word for it. Interesting that Zelensky is said to support the one-China policy. And no mention of the US or the EU, but lots of talk of sovereignty… while it seems silly to parse a press release as if it were the Four Quartets, it does appear that sovereignty/territorial integrity here might be less Russia’s invasion than covert tampering of all sorts. Appreciate you posting this.

    2. Will

      This in the Guardian was interesting. Or at least different from what you describe.

      Short version is (1) the call was damage control for China’s ambassador to France saying post Soviet countries are not legitimate, (2) whether the call will have any real effect among European politicians is immaterial to Xi, and (3) it’ll be used in China to continue the narrative of China playing a constructive peaceful role.

    3. IMOR

      “Ukraine supports the one-China policy” is a quote from the Global Times readpit. Eyepoke to his neocon masters that Zelensky will surely be made to walk back/retract.

      1. hk

        If Zelenski retracts this remark publicly, then he will officially have made China an enemy of Ukraine, justifying even greater Chinese alignment (and possibly more) with Russia.

      2. Otis B Driftwood

        How can this be an eyepoke if it is still the official position of the United States?

        1. IMOR

          It’s a dead letter every time a President or member of Congress, admiral. or general speaks of China “conquering” or “absorbing” Taiwan. Which has been daily for eighteen months.
          And I’m pretty sure the US MIC hasn’t shipped tens of billions to a puppet for 8+ years to have the puppet reiterate a polict completely contrary to the New American Century, Winken, Blinken, and Nod, harpy cabal.

      3. KD

        The US supports the One-China policy as well. The Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic voted in favor of UN resolution 2758. Ukraine does not recognize Taiwan as the legitimate government of China, nor does it recognize Taiwanese independence. The US doesn’t care what Ukraine thinks or says about Taiwan as Ukraine is wrecked and has nothing to contribute to some anticipated military campaign in the Pacific. Ukraine is not in NATO or the EU.

    4. Aurelien

      I wouldn’t be too impressed by the duration of the call. If this thing was as improvised as it seems, there would have been a lot of setting up and testing to do, as well as (I’m fairly sure) sequential interpretation, which takes more than twice as long. Xi would have been fairly disciplined, but Zelensky might well have rabbited on for ages. I doubt if the substance of any discussions took more than 15-20 minutes.

  6. Roger Blakely

    “I will also look for one word of thanks and praise for people who implemented NPIs, especially masks.”

    I wonder if Lambert shouldn’t start yelling at the Fed. The bank troubles are tied to inflation. The Fed jacked up rates, and the banks were caught in the squeeze holding low-yield treasuries. The inflation is tied to the pandemic. Inflation is tied to labor shortages due to workers either getting sick from COVID-19 or wanting to avoid getting sick from COVID-19.

    Last year Lambert showed US N95 manufacturers going out of business. What if we kept virus loads in the air low due to universal wearing of N95s? What if we were filtering SARS-CoV-2 when people inhale and when they exhale? Maybe Silicon Valley Bank wouldn’t have gone bust.

  7. digi_owl

    The thing about life expectancy stats is that they are driven mostly by infant mortality, that in turn comes down to illness and accidents.

    1. Eclair

      Certainly in the 19th and early 20th centuries, decreases in infant mortality, thanks to vaccines, clean public water supplies and sewage systems, and better maternal health care, was a prime driver of increased life expectancy in the US. However, the recent decreases in US life expectancy seem to be driven by CoVid deaths and by drug overdoses (along with suicides, part of the ‘deaths of despair’ cataloged by Case and Denton.)

      Decreasing life expectancy is the elephant in the room. No one talks about it. Neither the media or any politicians mention the glaring discrepancies in life expectancy among income levels (and, their surrogate, race.)
      Why aren’t we telling the working class that if you are poor, you are gonna die, on average, 20 years sooner than a millionaire? (Yeah, yeah, I know why …..)

    2. The Rev Kev

      I suppose it wouldn’t be hard to look at those stats and remove the age group from say O to 3 years to get a better idea of life expectancy. It’s like a version of what I call the millionaire problem. Five people in a room with four of them worth $250,000 each and the fifth person being worth $4,000,000. On average then each of those people is a millionaire. You don’t have to be mean to use the mean.

    3. Carla

      digi_owl: The thing about life expectancy stats is that they are driven mostly by infant mortality, that in turn comes down to illness and accidents.

      Actually, I think it comes down to poverty.

      Another “bonus” of capitalism!

      1. JP

        Poverty is the natural state without money. It is called subsistence. Outside of REALestate the only store of wealth was money and only the wealthy had any. The common folk subsisted.

    4. eg

      Yeah — Third World countries like the USA where life expectancy is declining? These people are irredeemable idiots.

    5. Adam Eran

      “Sure, but what about Third World countries, where life expectancy is decreasing?”… Like the U.S?

  8. digi_owl

    Heh, yeah the DoD likely do not want to expose their venerable golden goose, that, thanks to not having had to face a peer opponent for its service years, have an “impressive” kill ratio.

    Sending it into Ukraine, and having it come up against properly trained and experienced Russian pilots, never mind the latest in Russian surface to air weapons, would likely make a mockery of that stat.

    1. eg

      I think it’s especially the air interdiction systems the DoD knows they would encounter that is behind their opposition to deploying F16s. Currently fighters are looking more and more like expensive targets than anything else.

  9. Carla

    Philip Zelikow, in Lessons from the Covid War: “this book really is kind of a revelation about, how do we restore a reputation for competence and problem solving?”

    Uhm, by solving problems in a competent manner, maybe?

    But with public-health-for-profit, ain’t never gonna happen. And of course the “revelation” extends WAY beyond health care.

  10. JohnA

    Admittedly this link is from Sputnik, but it is pretty convincing in terms of how sensitive the F16 is to length and conditions of runways, and that Ukraine will have to engage in aircraft base infrastructure work, that can easily be detected and attacked, if they are to receive F16s.–1109869870.html

    The US might not be as keen to see yet another wonderwaffe prove to be a dud.

    1. Steve H.

      Noting the F-16 is having its 50th anniversary of flight next January.

      The only better platform for its task has been a Huey on an embassy roof.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      It’s as dumb as the calls for the no fly zones. This is part of their bargaining stage. The Sputnik article is just basic physics arguments. Planes have ranges. Satellites can determine hangars, fuel silos, and runways. And the Russians have missiles and a very large nearby airforce with an unaffected air defense.

      I’m 100% certain elements like State just assumed a no fly zone would materialize and didn’t grasp the state of Russian missiles or artillery despite public displays and concepts like logistics (after all, they have Amazon Prime memberships). The Russians have been eliminating Kiev air defenses. The famed leak means Kiev is on schedule to be have nothing left. I figure the Xi meeting with Zelensky is for deniability when the Russians unleash their air power on the Kiev counter offensive forces. Hey, Xi tried.

      1. hk

        Like commentators have noted in several venues, there already is a no fly zone over Ukraine: Russians are running it, against Western powers. There must be a lot of cognitive dissonance in NATO capitals to have yet another of their favorite weapons turned against themselves.

        1. Polar Socialist

          We can recall how Russian pilot recently asserted the no fly zone exists also over the big chunk of the Black Sea. Even for unidentified, trespassing drones.

    3. jrkrideau

      I have seen a couple of (pre-SMO) videos comparing F-99 planes versus Su-99 or MIG-99 planes and they stressed the engine vulnerability of the NATO planes. IIRC, a NATO / US airfield musters a huge number of personnel once a day to walk the pavement looking for debris. The Russians just taxi, some planes even having some kind of screens on the air intakes (until takeoff or until end of taxing?)

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      As it happens, I have just started reading RFK, Jr.’s fauci book. In the first pages, the “usual suspects,” Drs. Kory, McCullough, Risch, Cole et al., discuss the “what went wrong” question.

      Overwhelmingly they cite the refusal to treat patients with positive covid tests, at home and early on, with existing drugs and protocols being used successfully by frontline doctors worldwide, instead telling the patients to go home and come back when they couldn’t breathe. (That treatment, of course, would have negated the EUA “vaccine” rationale later on.)

      They note that neither fauci nor birx ever treated one covid patient.

      From the book:

      His critics argue that Dr. Fauci’s “slow the spread, flatten the curve, wait for the jab” strategy–all in support of a long-term bet on unproven vaccines–represented a profound and unprecedented departure from accepted public health practice. But most troubling were Dr. Fauci’s policies of ignoring and outright suppressing the early treatment of infected patients who were often terrified. “The Best Practices for defeating an infectious disease epidemic,” says Yale epidemiologist Harvey Risch, “dictate that you quarantine and treat the sick, protect the most vulnerable, and aggressively develop repurposed therapeutic drugs, and use early treatment protocols to avoid hospitalization.”

      Having saved his own, overweight brother by diverting him from the emergency room to a pharmacy for an ivermectin Rx, Dr. Ryan Cole is quoted as saying:

      “Never in the history of medicine has early treatment, of any patient with any disease, been so overtly neglected by the medical profession on such a massive scale.”

      Call me unrepentantly skeptical, but I seriously doubt that fauci, on his better-to-ask-forgiveness-than-permission tour, or zelikow, with the impressive credential of having headed the 9/11 commission, will be touching this aspect of the miserable american performance with a 10-foot pole.

      1. jefemt

        That JFK book is important. I was really infuriated and disheartened, but it is important.
        Hang in there!

  11. The Rev Kev

    “Russia can fund war in Ukraine for another year despite sanctions, leaked document says”

    ‘U.S. intelligence holds that Russia will be able to fund the war in Ukraine for at least another year, even under the heavy and increasing weight of unprecedented sanctions’

    This would be the same US intelligence that maintained that the Russian Federation would collapse under the first wave of sanctions early last year. And now we are up to the 11th sanctions package with nothing much less to sanction. Actually, I find this article kind of ominous. When the Neocons read it in the Washington Post, they are likely to turn to each other and say that only if the west can hold the line, send the Ukraine any more weapons that they can find by stripped the armouries bare, send them another tens of billions of (borrowed) dollars, then the Russian Federation will collapse and it will have all been worth it so now they can go in and cash in. And then they will be vindicated for the strategic geniuses that they are.

    1. ChrisFromGA

      I wonder why anyone gives our intelligence agencies any credibility. They fail to predict anything, like yesterday’s sudden phone call between Xi and Big Z.

      I also suspect the leak thing has been weaponized … kind of like Woodstock, everyone wants to say they were part of it. So, anytime the Wurlitzer needs to crank out a new tune, just attack the phrase “leaked document.”

      1. LifelongLib

        FWIW I once read a book that said the most important intelligence agency source isn’t HUMINT (spies) or SIGINT (signals) but IMAGININT (telling the higher-ups what they want to hear). Probably there are a lot of low-level analysts who know what’s really happening but nobody wants to listen.

        1. WobblyTelomeres

          > there are a lot of low-level analysts who know what’s really happening but
          > nobody wants to listen

          The low-level NSA analysts were asked, “What’s really happening?”

          “We don’t know, but we have intercepted and stored over 2 trillion dick pics in our Utah Data Center. It’s gotta mean something. Heck, as near as we can tell, over 20% are from Brett Favre.”

    2. hk

      I am starting to wonder if the Russians are holding back in Ukraine (and keeping the large army in Belarus) as a part of a more “global” strategy. If things stay as they are in Ukraine for a while, nothing would be standing in the way between Minsk and Berlin, or even the English Channel. If NATO keeps trying to escalate, we are back in 1814.

      1. Aurelien

        I think the Russians have a different conception of psychological warfare than the West does: it’s not about Twitter, but about having several hundred thousand heavily-armed troops on the borders of NATO, while Europe has thoughtfully disarmed itself. Whilst I don’t think for a moment that the Russians want to drive to Brussels (it may not be possible logistically anyway) at some point the awareness of just how big and powerful the Russian Army is, and how puny NATO forces are in comparison, is going to start to penetrate. At this point, the political demands that the Russians will be making will be backed up by a very big stick.

        There’s a very rich irony to all this. NATO was formed in the late 1940s because Europeans were conscious of their economic and military weakness, and scared of another war with a superior Soviet enemy. Through an entirely unprecedented type of stupidity, for which psychologists haven’t yet found a name, their descendants have managed to create exactly the same conditions eighty years later.

        1. Polar Socialist

          The richest irony must be that in late 1940 Soviet Union was in no condition to fight any war not did it want to – there was a lot of reconstruction to do (and Ukrainian nationalists to hunt).

          The Western estimated of the Soviet manpower were dramatically overestimated way into the 1960. In 1981 Ernest R, May concluded, based on declassified intelligence material, that by 1948 Soviet Union and USA had about the same amount of troops in Central Europe.

          That’s the year when USA decided to unilaterally divert from the Yalta and Potsdam conference agreements and divide Germany against the will of other Allies. Resulting in the Berlin airlift and the ensuing Cold War.

          And here we are.

          1. hemeantwell

            “divide Germany against the will of other Allies. Resulting in the Berlin airlift and the ensuing Cold War”

            I will again highly recommend Carolyn Eisenberg’s Drawing the Line: The American Decision to Divide Germany 1944-1949. Among other things, the account of the US swatting the new British Labor government into line by threatening to withhold relief food shipments was a stunner.

        2. irrational

          100% spot on except it is not necessarily stupidity, selective amnesia is also a strong potential candidate.

  12. Amfortas the hippie

    i’ll offer a flyby from my 4am coffee and splif ramble, and hope to be back for WC:
    Archdruid serves up the Real Doom.

    wherein Quinn ladles on a different flavoured sauce…and links to this from when the Atlantic was worth reading:

    i read that Kaplan article in the austin public library, just before i moved way the hell out here…and when my nascent Doomerism didn’t have a name or a framework…merely a collection of multifoliate impressions, WTF observations, and an inchoate, if abiding, need to GTF out of the big city.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Thanks for that John Michael Greer article. When the mood is on him, there is a Vulcan-like clarity about his analysis and the conclusions that follow from them.

      1. rudi from butte

        Agree with you on Greer. A good exercise is to ponder how many CATS (Caterpillar Inc.) does it take to run Caterpillar Inc. ? Putin gets it. It’s all about Energy and Natural resources. The students here at Mont. Tech. get it too.

    2. Wukchumni

      When i’m ensconced in a Big Smoke for a spell, I always get the willies of what if I got stuck there with hordes of humans whose idea of prep was a KitchenAid food processor, in a place where anonymity was encouraged and it wasn’t uncommon for neighbors not to know one another.

      Feels safe here, but who am I kidding-countless thousands of vacationers have stayed here in AirBnB’s and the like, our anonymity as a city went away, along with a quarter of tiny town’s population, raptured… because markets.

      A friend mentioned yesterday that a number of would-be Hilton types want out, as the roads into Sequoia NP are wrecked and will probably not get fixed until July if then. They were pretty much the only buyers aside from Covid escapees from Big Smokes the past decade and drove the average price of a home from $250k to $465k

      He’d mentioned a mutual friend who is the agent for 28 properties, and she told him, ‘i’d Never own an AirBnb, as the profits versus upkeep versus slack periods makes it almost a losing proposition now’ from what she’s seen after doing it for 5 years.

      If she sees the lite with the garage mahals, imagine the owners?

      Gonna be quite something to see that eagerness to buy up every house turned around when they can’t sell and get foreclosed on, the finishing touch in wrecking a place, because markets.

    3. ChrisFromGA

      Thanks indeed for the Archdruid link. This passage strikes me as important:

      When the British pound lost a similar role in the early years of the Great Depression, no other currency was ready to take on its role either. It wasn’t until 1970 or so that the US dollar finished settling into place as the currency of global trade. In the interval, international trade lurched along awkwardly using whatever currencies or commodity swaps the trading partners could settle on: that is to say, the same situation that’s taking shape around us in the free-for-all of global trade that will define the post-dollar era.

      That is kind of what I have been thinking. Most of the “de-dollarization” skeptics respond with TINA arguments – the Yuan is too small of currency, China doesn’t want to have the Triffin dilemma, crypto is just too unreliable and speculative. That’s all well and good, and may even be true. But what if, we don’t need a world reserve currency?

      The fact that there have been periods in history with no dominant world currency argues that it is not some sort of law of physics that there must be one. Economics has always struck me as more of a social science than a hard one. Humans are good at coming up with workarounds. Using the dollar for trade was a convenience, but now that the geniuses in DC have imposed serious costs and risks to using it, other countries are free to come up with their own bespoke solutions. Maybe trading in local currency; or perhaps as seems to be happening in India, using the UAE’s currency as a local reserve currency. Or maybe direct trading in each other’s currency, i.e. Russia sells gas to China in roubles and China sells tech back to Russia in Yuan. Both countries have enough reserves to make it work.

      I think the Archdruid did a nice job here articulating a huge blind spot in the “TINA” argument to the dollar as the world’s reserve currency. I suspect lots of folks have this blind spot, because the only people left on the planet who really remember the last time we had no global reserve currency were born in the 30s or 40s and are now in their 80s or 90s.

        1. ChrisFromGA

          Yeah, I stopped reading when I saw the “SWIFT” acronym. That’s already been weaponized and nobody outside of Europe and the US is going to fall for it.

      1. JBird4049

        >>>I suspect lots of folks have this blind spot, because the only people left on the planet who really remember the last time we had no global reserve currency were born in the 30s or 40s and are now in their 80s or 90s.

        Like with the United States pre-security state, pre-financialization, pre-carceral state (by President Nixon), before deindustrialization and social atomization?

        Or the 90 year olds who remember when the United States was still mainly an isolated continental power pre 1941?

  13. VT Digger

    F-16 had it’s first flight in the early 70’s……what chance would it have against the current su-30/35 or mig-35??

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      It’s not the individual model planes but numbers and integrated air defenses and missiles capable of destroying bunkers in ranges beyond the combat range of these planes. Even as advertised F35s would get wiped out where they are.

      This is part of the Western death cult and Azov believing white people are invincible. Even old planes will work against the hordes.

      1. tevhatch

        The ask is really a plea for American pilots, which will then lead to open American involvement, which then may well lead to Armageddon. It’s a cult, and they want to take the world with them rather than face reality.

  14. The Rev Kev

    “Ukraine’s coming counter-offensive may shape its future—and Europe’s”

    It’s future is already here and it is appalling. Gonzalo Lira dropped a video with the title “Demographics of Ukraine” and when he talks about what has happened to the Ukraine, it sounds like it will cripple it for at least a generation and maybe permanently. A country is ultimately made up of its people and this nation has been all but crushed so that a small minority of people can profit personally from it- (8:54 mins)

    1. zagonostra

      Perhaps the “future” for Europe is appalling, but not right now. I have family in Italy and although maybe not quite living the dolce vita they still go about their daily life as usual, going on vacations, enjoying family, food and friends per typical Italian style. In the rest of the EU, especially Germany, the standard of living is high, good/affordable healthcare, paid maternity/paternity leave, and a wide spectrum of social benefits the U.S. can only dream of. That that high standard is at risk, hasn’t seemed to have penetrated.

      I read that Meloni is considering pulling out of the Belt and Road Initiative, not sure how that would play out. Italy was the first European country to sign up.

      1. John k

        In an Asian centric future (or maybe present based on current trade flows) it would seem more logical to fast track b&r into Italy/eu.
        The Asian bits that wanna be part of the west don’t make sense to me. Imo us won’t be able to run huge deficits forever.

  15. tevhatch

    Time for Biden to come clean on Ukraine Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft

    That’s a big ask for a man who can’t fully control his bowls. For a second, before I clicked the link, I thought maybe the Quincy Institute was asking Biden to come clean on his crime family’s corruption in Ukraine. Then I got real.

  16. Burritonomics

    Re: The Quest for Longevity is Already Over.

    I think the argument that Jeanne Calment did not live to 122 is plausible.

  17. spud

    i am sure those ukrainian soldiers are itching, itching i tell you for the glorious counter attack, and the sprint for Crimea!/SARC!

    operation spring awakening all over again with the same mind set in charge.

  18. chuck roast

    Capital’s Militant

    Clearly, the title does not do justice to Peter Thiel. This is a deeply sociopathic individual. How he hasn’t tripped up into widespread social opprobrium is beyond me. We have any number of sociopaths in my little state. Fortunately, they are mostly confined to what we fondly call the Adult Correctional Institute

  19. Jason Boxman

    From Dating apps suck, so I let a chatbot flirt with strangers for me. Things got weird fast

    Since the introduction of swiping by Tinder in 2012, there haven’t been major changes to the mechanics of online dating. Apps have tried distinguishing themselves with features such as memes and astrology, but most have been unsuccessful in making a dent in the $4.94-billion global market dominated by Tinder, Bumble and Hinge.

    Monopoly alert. Match Group owns or has a huge stake (Bumble) in each of these. Each app that Match Group acquires ultimately turns into Tinder, with multiple subscription levels to even have a chance of getting noticed, and one time use tokens that you buy to boost your ratings. Costs only go up over time. My sincere hope is that Match Group executives die in the worst possible way.

    For years there have been services that’ll talk to people on these apps on your behalf, and I have no doubt they do a better much than this bizarre large language model based chat bot could ever do.

    AI chatbots having conversations for you offers “a lot of solutions to problems that people have on dating apps right now and one is that people are evaluated based on profile,” Sharabi said. “And the information that people put in profiles is often not a very good gauge of whether you would actually click with them in person.”

    No. People are evaluated based on appearance. Full stop. Only if you pass that test, does anyone bother to evaluate any written text in the profile. This is the entire Tinder swipe model. To claim otherwise is to expose complete ignorance of how these apps work.

    Only pretty people have the problem that Sharabi describes.

    This service is stupid and will crash and burn; the faster, the better. The last thing anyone has time for is talking to someone’s bot. There’s enough spam on these apps as it is.

    What really sucks is America dating culture, period.

  20. Tom Stone

    I believe that the Biden Administration will continue to double ( Or triple) down on its Domestic policies.
    The arrest of Yeshitela and 3 other black socialists appears to have happened as a reaction to the revelations about the Censorship Industrial Complex and I very much doubt the RESTRICT Act will be the last piece of legislation that includes asset forfeiture.
    Remember that this is the Biden Administration and you can not overestimate their ability to F$ck things up.
    Someone IS that stupid, always as Joe Biden has repeatedly demonstrated.

    1. Henry Moon Pie

      It would seem that the people who own our country are closing ranks. Petty little contests for power among Big OIl, Big Tech, Big Finance, Big Pharma and the MIC are being put aside. Old ego-driven feuds between billionaires are being forgotten. Arrayed against them are Russia, Iran, China and increasingly Saudi Arabia. India sits on the sidelines. Europe is reduced to a France in turmoil, Germany in a stupor and the annoying yapping dogs of the East led by the littlest yapping dog of them all, the UK.

      Internal dissent can’t be tolerated in such circumstances, yet the American people have never been unhappier since the whole polling thing began. Three-quarters of the country think things are headed in the wrong direction and that the current President shouldn’t run for re-election even though he is. Larger majorities have no use for Congress or the press. The water is rising, the dike is getting leakier, and the little Dutch boys are running out of fingers and thumbs.

      But they have a plan to get things back in order. Really they do. And we’re supposed to shut up and let our betters do the really important stuff of running an Empire.

      1. britzklieg

        well said. that was a sweet read.
        ot: I remember my first moonpies, smores without the campfire for a kid stuck at home!

  21. Mikel

    I haven’t played video games in decades. I had no idea how much “the bezzle” had crept into them.

    “…Getting better at a difficult task: This feeds the soul. Harvard professor Teresa Amabile has long documented how “small wins”—the experience of constant, gradual progress—can be deeply fulfilling. This is a core reason why some video games are so richly satisfying, and also why, whenever events in my real life seemed uncontrollable or spinning into chaos, I could find temporary solace in a game. Whatever crap was breaking loose, wherever else I was screwing up, a racing game offered a soothingly linear relationship between toil and reward.

    But that has all pretty much crashed and burned, thanks to the advent of what the tech industry calls “microtransactions.” These are the little moments inside a game when, if you realistically want to progress further, you have to buy something—with real money. A pastime that used to offer rewards for hard work, grit, and perseverance has turned into a matter of who is willing to whip out a credit card and spend their way to success.

    This transformation is unsettlingly redolent of how our broader economic zeitgeist has evolved into a pay-to-win scheme: People with money to burn can buy their way up the ladder, hard work be damned. It seems hypercapitalism, having already wreaked havoc on the real world, has come for the world of play…”

    “Microtransactions”. That’s along the lines of what I’ve suggested the Metaverse would be involved in.

    1. flora

      adding: this omidyar quote from the Shellenberger article is priceless.

      “We believe online safety is the result of trustworthy technology and enlightened regulation.”

      Pretty sure if anyone suggests enlightened regulation of big tech includes breaking up the digital behemoths into less than near monopoly companies he would be the first to scream. / ;)

      Does he believe any of his bs or is he just farming the govt, as we used to say.

  22. Alice X

    A Lie Is Halfway Round the World Before the Truth Has Got Its Boots On

    >The Russiagate Playbook: ex-CIA chief admits interference in two straight elections (excerpt) Aaron Maté. The deck: “Former CIA deputy director Mike Morell admits that the Biden campaign triggered the false claim that the Hunter laptop story was ‘Russian disinformation.’”

    Greenwald, Tuesday, was on the Morell admission. The letter from the 50 professional liars club, ie ex-CIA, stated specifically that they had no evidence linking the Russians. Well, at least they told the truth that far. Yet the Regime Media (h/t Max Blumenthal) ran with it as gospel that the Russians did it.

    I haven’t quite gathered the details of what exactly was on the laptop. Maybe someone can put it in a nutshell.

    False CIA Letter—Lying that Hunter Laptop was “Russian Disinformation”—Initiated by Biden Campaign. Plus: Darren Beattie on Ray Epps, Tucker, & More | SYSTEM UPDATE #78

    1. Jorge

      “Hunter B for Dummies”: he is a sweet, broken man, a bagman for a corrupt crime family, and his personal life is a third-rate version of Caligula.

      1. Acacia

        @Alice X,

        Yeah, the report is a giant, but if you have the PDF, just skim pages until you can’t look anymore.

        This has got to be one of the most sordid things I’ve seen ever.

        The level of depravity is mind boggling. Truly sickening, disgusting stuff, not to mention countless felonies. The fact that the Biden family isn’t in jail tells you all you need to know about the level of corruption and late-Empire decadence in Washington.

        I’m unclear yet what was the 2020 piece before the election that was suppressed by Twitter et al.

        IIUC, it’s that the CIA claimed falsely during the run-up to the election that the Hunter laptop story was “Russian disinformation”, thus allowing media platforms in the US to suppress the story. There are several recent investigations of the deception, e.g. Aaron Maté :

        The Russiagate Playbook: ex-CIA chief admits interference in two straight elections

        It’s unfortunate that the authors of the Marco Polo report didn’t figure out how to make a smaller and more accessible version, as probably many people hit the wall of trying to DL a nearly 1 GB(!) PDF file and gave up. I guess they were spared something genuinely horrific, but waking up in the Matrix looks pretty nasty too.

  23. jrkrideau

    the third view of the war, however, introduces a critical caveat: on February 24 last year, there was no chance that Ukraine would enter NATO any time soon, if ever. Hence, there was no existential threat facing Russia, as Putin and those sympathetic to the invasion aver.

    Rajan Menon seems to have missed President Zelenskys’ statemeant about Ukraine obtaining nuclear weapons.

    It was hardly the case that Putin was left with no choice but to invade a sovereign country—one that posed no clear and present threat to Russia, no less.

    Well, no. it the USA had not tossed the proposal in the garbage.

    The level of delusion rises.
    Consider one example, purely illustrative, which I proposed in a recent Foreign Affairs essay: Russia would retain Luhansk as well as Donetsk (which together comprise the Donbas), though only the part of the latter it now occupies. It would, in addition, return to Ukraine the areas of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia provinces it presently holds. A deal along these lines would necessarily require Russia to forfeit the land corridor it has created to Crimea

    Not a problem. Ukrainian induced drought again is not a problem.
    Russia could be coaxed by a pledge to phase out Western sanctions over a reasonable stretch of time.
    If this is the level of analysis that the US Gov’t is getting AAARCGH

    Remember the Russians seem to have invented a word for the USA: недоговороспособны

    The levels of stupidity, arrogance and hubris are mind boggling.

  24. KD

    Even if Xi is willing to use real political capital to force Putin to withdraw Russian forces from eastern Ukraine, what could China offer towards a peace settlement?

    I don’t know, maybe Ukraine could renounce NATO, establish Chinese military bases as a form of security guarantee to protect against Russian aggression, hook into belt and road, obtain financial assistance for re-building, and even maybe get Donbas and Crimea back?

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