Links 5/4/2023

Powell: Fed made ‘mistakes’ in regulation and supervision on his watch American Banker

Pushback Against Powell’s Prognosis Comes Almost Immediately Bloomberg

How the Fed Became Everything (and Everything Became the Fed) Foreign Policy


Here Are Five Ways Finance Is Trying to De-Risk Heat Waves Bloomberg


Microplastics in Lake Erie highlight growing concern over potential health effects ABC


Evaluation of Waning of SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine–Induced Immunity JAMA. The Abstract: “This systematic review and meta-analysis of secondary data from 40 studies found that the estimated vaccine effectiveness against both laboratory-confirmed Omicron infection and symptomatic disease was lower than 20% at 6 months from the administration of the primary vaccination cycle and less than 30% at 9 months from the administration of a booster dose. Compared with the Delta variant, a more prominent and quicker waning of protection was found. These findings suggest that the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines against Omicron rapidly wanes over time.” Remember “You are protected?” Good times. Liberal Democrats should pay a terrible price for its vax-only strategy. Sadly, there’s no evidence they will pay any price at all, unless President Wakefield’s candidacy catches fire.

Virological characteristics of the SARS-CoV-2 omicron XBB.1.16 variant (correspondence) The Lancet. “Altogether, our data suggest that XBB.1.16 has a greater growth advantage in the human population compared with XBB.1 and XBB.1.5, whereas the ability of XBB.1.16 to exhibit profound immune evasion is similar to XBB.1 and XBB.1.5. Since the spike proteins of XBB.1.16 and XBB.1.5 exhibit similar characteristics in terms of infectivity and escape ability from humoral immunity, the increased fitness of XBB.1.16 might be attributed to the mutations in non-spike proteins.” Orgels’ First Rule: “Whenever a spontaneous process is too slow or too inefficient a protein will evolve to speed it up or make it more efficient.”

New COVID Drug Guards Against All Variants in People With Weak Immune Systems St Louis Post-Dispatch. “‘In vitro studies demonstrated that AZD3152 neutralizes all COVID-19 variants, including Arcturus, the latest variant of concern,’ Mene Pangalos, executive vice president of biopharmaceuticals at AstraZeneca, told investors on an earnings call this week. Results of the SUPERNOVA trial on the drug could be out by September, and that may lead to an emergency use authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, CBS News reported.” Of course, I remember when mRNA vaccines were going to be updated, like software. Whatever happened to that? So take this with a truckload of salts.

* * *

WHO experts weigh up whether world ready to end COVID emergency Reuters

Long covid patients crying out for local data Medical Republic. By “local” is meant “national,” in a global context.


China’s factory activity dipped in April on weak demand as bumpy post-Covid economic recovery continues South China Morning Post

Small farmers in limbo as Cambodia wavers on Tonle Sap conservation rules Monga Bay

The Koreas

On South Korean President’s Yoon’s performance at the White House:


The ignorance. If indeed it is ignorance. Once the CDC is demolished, the rubble plowed under, and the earth salted, we can move on to the State Department and The Blob generally.

European Disunion

French Want More Protests Against Pension Reform, Poll Shows Bloomberg. May Day:

Umbrella tactics (a la Hong Kong?).

Protester’s hand blown off by grenade during France’s largest May Day protests in 30 years The Telegraph

Protest and Power in France Project Syndicate

* * *

Teacher strikes: More schools than ever unable to fully open in England BBC

The Wheels of the Strike. An Interview on the Truck Drivers’ Struggle between Poland and Germany Transnational Social Strike

New Not-So-Cold War

Ukraine denies Kremlin assault as Russia launches drone attacks FT. Terrible news, terrible:

The Ukrainian postal service was part of a Russian “false flag” operation!

The Counteroffensive By Anne Applebaum and Jeffrey Goldberg, The Atlantic. Wheeling out the big guns, I see. The deck: “The future of the democratic world will be determined by whether the Ukrainian military can break a stalemate with Russia and drive the country backwards—perhaps even out of Crimea for good.” Let me know how that works out.

Mad Max in Bakhmut:

* * *

More ammo for Ukraine in new $400m US aid package Straits Times

The U.S. Military Relies on One Louisiana Factory. It Blew Up. WSJ. Our factories do keep doing that.

* * *

The unknown Indian company shipping millions of barrels of Russian oil FT

South of the Border

Mexico’s Exports Hit Record in Sign Nearshoring Is Booming Bloomberg

Biden Administration

FTC proposes ban on Meta profiting from minors’ data Reuters

Kroger-Albertsons merger will harm grocery store worker wages Economic Policy Institute

* * *

Four ways Biden is boosting fossil fuels — and drawing heat for it The Hill

Senate sends bipartisan rebuke of solar tariff policy to Biden’s desk Politico

* * *

Biden administration under pressure to address press freedoms Axios. They could start with Snowden, who goes unmentioned in the current spate of “press freedom” discourse. For some reason.

The Supremes

Supreme Crooks Eschaton. “We’re learning ‘the real work’ is hardly as it has been portrayed over the years.” That goes for a lot.

Senate panel explores ethics standards for US Supreme Court as questions swirl Reuters

Supreme Court: ‘We Wear Gold Crowns Now’ The Onion

B-a-a-a-a-d Banks

PacWest explores potential sale after shares plummet 50% FT

First Republic’s pain had a lot to do with its reliance on wealthy clientele CNN

Why the First Republic drama isn’t over yet Axios


CNN’s Trump town hall reignites debate over media coverage The Hill. True, “debate” and “dogpile” both begin with the letter d, but it shouldn’t be this easy to confuse them.

Why Arsenal’s struggles show you shouldn’t count out Donald Trump FT

ABC News and CNN Manage to Demonstrate Exactly What Not To Do with Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Vice


Tennessee shooting update:

I have always assumed Christianist political clout from the Covenant School was the issue, but what the Covenant School is worried about is a very, very open question.

Digital Watch

‘No! You stay!’ Cops, firefighters bewildered as driverless cars behave badly Mission Local

Researchers Use A.I. to Decode Words From Brain Scans Smithsonian. “After you get done culling Legal, loop in Marketing….”

Dished up by 3D printers, a new kind of fish to fry Reuters

Inside the Battle Between Big Ag and Lab-Grown Meat The New Republic


Associations between illness-related absences and ventilation and indoor PM2.5 in elementary schools of the Midwestern United States Environment International. From the Abstract: “This study monitored indoor environmental data in 144 classrooms in 31 schools in the Midwestern United States for two consecutive days every fall, winter, and spring during a two-year period; 3,105 pupils attended classrooms where the measurements were conducted. All classrooms were ventilated with mechanical systems that had recirculation; there were no operable exterior windows or doors…. Present results agree with the previously demonstrated benefits of reduced absence rates when classroom ventilation is improved and provide additional evidence on the potential benefits of reducing indoor inhalable particles. Overall, reduced absence rates are expected to provide socioeconomic benefits and benefits for academic achievements, while higher ventilation rates and reduced particle levels will also contribute to reduced health risks, including those related to airborne respiratory pathogens.” Who knew?!

Groves of Academe

I hope we can leave Lord of the Flies on school library shelves:

The whole thread is worth a read.

The Fight for the American Public Library Bloomberg

Realignment and Legitimacy

Americans take a dim view of the nation’s future, look more positively at the past Pew Research Center

The F-35 Lightning II Fighter, In Europe, Wins Fans While Watching Russia Forbes

Imperial Collapse Warch

Chairman Milley on avoiding war with China: U.S. must strengthen military Washington Times. Milley: “It is not in the U.S. interest to see Russia and China form a strategic military alliance, and we should do what we can to make sure that that doesn’t happen.” The brain geniuses in The Blob, however, want to fight a two-front war.

Class Warfare

Not a bad idea:

And then the workers could own the executive AIs collectively (after wiring an electromagnetic shotgun to the forehead of every one of ’em).

Generative AI at Work NBER. At the end, not mentioned in the abstract: “[O]ur findings raise questions about whether and how workers should be compensated for the data that they provide to AI systems. High-skill workers, in particular, play an important role in model development but see smaller direct benefits in terms of improving their own productivity.”

* * *

TV’s Streaming Bubble Has Burst, a Writers Strike Looms, and “Everybody Is Freaking Out” Vanity Fair

Cord cutting, streaming losses and the ‘terrifying math’ driving the writers strike CNN. The “terrible math” is the hundreds of millions sucked out of streaming by parasitic executives, before the industry collapsed, ffs.

* * *

At a McDonald’s in Kentucky, 10-year-olds worked past midnight, Department of Labor finds NC Newsline

Physicists See ‘Strange Matter’ Form inside Atomic Nuclei Scientific American

Antidote du jour (via):

Bonus antidote:

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. griffen

    Joe Biden, doing his best Dean Martin impression? I just don’t get that at all, seems like the tweet thread details the SK cultural insults the improvised moment represents. Biden didn’t challenge him to a push up contest, I suppose.

    1. ambrit

      Biden has been in politics too long not to have known that you do not treat a foreign Head of State like a contestant on a game show.
      This is the ‘real’ “Creepy” Joe Biden, a bully and a cheat.
      America is doomed.

      1. Pat

        Yes. But please add racist in there. All of that contributed to this latest example of going off his meds.

        That and the belief I am sure he holds that the President of the United States is the supreme ruler and is not bound by any such rules and has a get out of jail free card for every thing as long as your name isn’t Trump. He wanted to dominate and embarrass so he did.

      2. John

        Why always the worst interpretation of the President’s actions? Why not . . .

        ‘Cooked up between them, and it came off great!’

        . . . because I had great feelings about President’s Yoon while watching.

        And this extends to South Korea.

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      Seemed to me the tweeter blamed Yoon for what he considered an embarrassing, stereotypical, unacceptable obsequiousness. That he’s bowing and scraping to the doltish biden apparently made it all the more insulting. Found this observation especially interesting:

      6. Then there is Yoon himself, a man out of central casting for the worst type of middle aged Korean man: servile to to those more powerful than you, cruel and callous to those weaker than you. Yoon’s shit-eating grin is very, very recognizable to anyone who dealt with this type.

      No idea if the above is true, but it reminded me of the portrayal of Asians on “Hell on Wheels.”

      1. hk

        While I think Yoon has acted clownishly in general, I tend to think AAK is going over the top. His (I think?) tweets have been overly hysterical in the “politically correct” and rather ultranationalist direction many times before, ie everything is an “insult” to Korea, Koreans, and Korean culture.

      2. Kouros

        a man out of central casting for the worst type of middle aged Korean man: servile to to those more powerful than you, cruel and callous to those weaker than you.

        Korean dramas are full of them.

    3. JTMcPhee

      Tried to visit the offensive tweet and it and all its progeny have, mirabile dictu, been disappeared!

      “Nothing to see here!”

      1. markylarky

        I agree. It was staged. Yoon wanted to sing this song. I thought it was cute, but I definitely
        think it was staged.

      2. griffen

        I dunno, could have been a bit of planning. It also had the look of hey, you in the crowd, you want to dance with Bruce Springsteen in this video? Hypothetical quick huddle…

        Joe Biden: Come on, man, it’ll be a cool thing to show the grandkids.
        President Yoon: Just keep away from them please, I hear things. Yeah, let’s go for it.
        Joe Biden: Cool deal. I don’t know nothing about what you mean.
        Jill Biden: Joe, time for pills !

    4. Cat Burglar

      Yoon sang lines from “American Pie,” a song about US decline. If he was being hazed, he sure paid it back.

      1. LifelongLib

        I never thought of American Pie as being about U.S. decline, rather about the end of childhood and a more innocent time. Opinions vary, but some argue that psychologically the 50s actually lasted until the JFK assassination.

  2. Stephen V

    More on possible history of umbrella tactic from Wikipedia::
    Louie Steven Witt came forward in 1978 and claimed to be the “umbrella man”.[7] He claimed to still have the umbrella and did not know he had been the subject of controversy. He said that he brought the umbrella simply to heckle Kennedy, whose father, Joseph, had been a supporter of the Nazi-appeasing British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain. By waving a black umbrella, Chamberlain’s trademark fashion accessory, Witt said he was protesting the Kennedy family appeasing Adolf Hitler before World War II. An umbrella had been used in cartoons in the 1930s to symbolize such appeasement, and Chamberlain often carried an umbrella.[7][8][9] Kennedy, who wrote a thesis on appeasement while at Harvard, Why England Slept, might have recognized the symbolism of the umbrella. Black umbrellas had been used in connection with protests against the President before; at the time of the construction of the Berlin Wall, a group of schoolchildren from Bonn sent the White House an umbrella labeled Chamberlain.[10]

    1. Alex Cox

      JFK assassination investigators tend not to believe that Witt was the Umbrella Man. He doesn’t look anything like the man captured on film and in photographs, and the umbrella he brought with him to the HSCA had a different number of tines.

      The Umbrella Man, and his apparent partner, wearing a light blue jacket, watched the murder calmly and then sat on the curb to observe the aftermath. Assuming they were part of the assassination plot (perhaps members of the 112th Military Intelligence Group from Fort Sam Houston, who were present all over Dealey Plaza in plain clothes that day), it’s possible they were signalling the success of the assassination. The Umbrella Man lowered his umbrella after Kennedy was shot repeatedly. His blue-clad partner raised a fist, then lowered it in unison with the umbrella.

      One researcher claimed the umbrella was a projectile-firing weapon. The filmmaker Errol Morris made a video for the NYT mocking such claims. I made a short video response, which you can watch here.

  3. Sam Adams

    Chairman Milley on avoiding war with China: U.S. must strengthen military Washington Times. Milley: “It is not in the U.S. interest to see Russia and China form a strategic military alliance, and we should do what we can to make sure that that doesn’t happen.” The brain geniuses in The Blob, however, want to fight a two-front war

    Correction: three front war: Ukraine, South China Sea, AND Middle East/ Eastern Africa.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Sorry but Milley sounds like an idiot when he talks about this stuff. The US is conducting a proxy war against Russia so that it can be broken up while hundreds of US bases face China and politicians say that they will be at war with China itself about 2025-27. Both powers are the target of hundreds of provocations each and every year which only ramp up over time and Milley is worried that they might come together into a military alliance. Seriously? That boat has long ago sailed and it was mostly due to US foreign policy over the past thirty years. They could not have done it better if it had been planned.

      1. flora

        Hmmm, let’s see… US having a hard time filling military recruitment goals because too many physically unfit or uninterested young people. China makes most of our stuff, including lithium battery stuff used in guidance systems. The sanctions have driven RU and China and even India all closer together. Can anyone in D.C. think outside their blind “because I say so” box? Do they still think it’s 1990 – a time when the US *could* say “because I say so” and it had a real effect.? (Back 30 years ago when a lot of them were only 50 years old, in their prime. Stuck in a mental time warp?)

        1. The Rev Kev

          A long time ago, somebody in a comment noted that Napoleon said something interesting: that to understand a person, you must understand what the world looked like when he was 20. Could it be that too many of the people that are at the levers of power now were in their twenties back in the 90s and had their world view shaped by a time when the US was unchallenged after the fall of the USSR? It would explain a lot.

          1. nippersdad

            Good question. How old was Hillary Clinton back when she was a Goldwater Girl?

            That would explain a lot.

            1. NotTimothyGeithner

              The 90’s are a problem in Europe, but the US is run by the younger siblings of the early hippies (late 50’s, early 60’s versus the late 60’s and disco crowd) who embraced the style but we’re budding Reaganites obsessed with the I’ve got mine mentality. They naturally despise children.

              Besides the usual class suspects, one group remembers parents going to school on the gi bill and so forth, and the other simply enjoyed the return when they wound up in a wealthier class.

              1. Wukchumni

                Generation Jones humbly reporting, sir!

                We were Baby Boomers in name but really missed out on being dirty hippies as we were only 5 or 6 during the Summer of Love, and barely with it on body waste management and no way was mom gonna let me go to Woodstock when we lived in Long Island in the summer of ’69, no matter how much I pleaded with her for a solo 7 year old to hitchhike upstate to Yasgur’s Farm.

                That 70’s show was all about inflation-the whole decade pretty much. We were only teenagers but it left a mark on us.

                We were barely old enough to vote in 1980, and I started a string of losses when saddled to the Donkey Show, and really don’t remember anybody in my age group that were all that excited about the gipper.

              2. Henry Moon Pie

                NTG, those would be Beats and Folks in the late 50s. Kerouac’s On the Road was published in ’57, a year after Ginsberg’s Howl. The Newport Folk Festival began in 1959.

                Ginsberg signals the beginnings of a switch when he writes Timothy Leary with the eventual result being Ginsberg’s involvement in the Harvard Psilocybin Project, but can you really talk about “hippies” before Kesey and the Merry Pranksters took off on the bus in 1964. The Monterey Pop Festival, the Be-in in Golden Gate Park and the “Summer of Love” in Haight-Ashbury were all in the summer of 1967. Woodstock was in ’69, and things began to wind down by the time “The Farm” was founded in 1971.

                1. Michael Fiorillo

                  Paul Krassner, whose autobiography is quite entertaining, is also an interesting bridge between the Beats and the Hippies. He hung out with Lenny Bruce, wrote for Bill Gaines’ Mad Magazine early on, made the scene with Kesey’s Pranksters and was a founder of the Yippies.

                2. LifelongLib

                  The Beats and Folks (or “folkies”) were very much the WW2 generation. IIRC William S. Burroughs was born in 1914, Allen Ginsberg in 1926, the same year as my WW2 vet dad. FWIW my dad was a folky and even went to Bob Dylan and Joan Baez concerts. He must have been one of the oldest guys there…

          2. Pat

            I think you need to take that back to the 80’s. The Soviet Union might not have fallen until the early nineties but the lead up to it would have also been a heady time regarding American dominance. And after Even with 9/11, the enablers who are slightly younger from beginning of this century would still see America as the most powerful.

            The DC bubble is filled with people who were rarely or never challenged regarding American exceptionalism and dominance.

          3. Carolinian

            That’s an interesting idea but of course “world” for most people is a much narrower environment than international relations. Perhaps what’s changed is that DC itself became much more globalized with many many foreign influences compared to pre WW2 when the WASPs ruled the roost. One has to ask why this obsession with Ukraine or even non-communist Russia or why Americans should care about any of this. I think they don’t, and that’s a problem for the “make our own reality” crowd. A great deal of propaganda and lying is the result.

        2. Gregorio

          There is already a brilliant plan in place to address that recruiting deficit by offering transgender transition surgery coverage to all enlisted soldiers.

  4. Stephen

    Anne Applebaum: “perhaps even out of Crimea for good.” Let me know how that works out.

    This video of Crimean people from 2015 is at least part of your answer. It almost gives me goose bumps watching it and I am not Russian. Like a Last Night of the Proms experience.

    Guess the Neo Cons would say they were all forced there at gun point. Russians must be great actors.

    1. flora

      Lost in her own bubble reality. (Not a bad description of the entire PMC class. “Bubble intel. Bubble law. Bubble banking, Bubble politics. Bubble academia. etc.)

          1. Vandemonian

            …or the Scottish football fans I saw this week singing “You can stick you coronation up your a**e”…

            1. ambrit

              Aye! We need the latest ‘Young Pretender’ to show up at the Coronation and tell them that new Monarch is properly Charles IV.

              1. The Rev Kev

                Well there was a guy in Oz that had a claim to the throne. If you dig into the history book, several centuries ago a Queen gave birth to a baby boy who became the future King. Trouble was that the King had been overseas for longer than nine months but the history books cover that bit up. And that guy in Oz was descended from the person who should have been the King.

        1. Daryl

          There’s a pink bubble and a green bubble
          And a blue bubble and a yellow bubble
          And they’re all made out of ticky tacky
          And they all look just the same

          All the people in the bubbles
          All went to the university
          Where they were put in bubbles
          And they all came out the same….

        2. Stephen V

          Flora: Your comment put me in mind of:: substitute “bubbles” for “boxes” …Pete Seeger!

          Little boxes on the hillside,
          Little boxes made of ticky tacky
          Little boxes on the hillside,
          Little boxes all the same,
          There’s a green one and a pink one
          And a blue on and a yellow one
          And they’re all made out of ticky tacky
          And they all look the same.

          And the people in the houses
          All went to the university
          Where they were put in boxes
          And they came out all the same
          And there’s doctors and lawyers
          And business executives
          And they’re all made out of ticky tacky
          And they all look just the same.

          And they all play on the golf course
          And drink their martinis dry
          And they all have pretty children
          And the children go to school,
          And the children go to summer camp
          And then to the university
          Where they are put in boxes
          And they come out all the same.

          And the boys go into business
          And marry and raise a family
          In boxes made of ticky tacky
          And they all look just the same,
          There’s a green one and a pink one
          And a blue one and a yellow one
          And they’re all made out of ticky tacky
          And they all look just the same.

        3. jrkrideau

          And repeating the old lie. The story goes that Potemkin built fake villages along her route, populated with fake villagers exuding fake prosperity.

          I don’t really know who she is but I have seen her name. If this is her level of expertise about the Russian Empire the Atlantic needs new writers.

          1. The Rev Kev

            Re that story about Potemkin. Nowadays we do the same sort of thing – but with media outlets.

    2. pjay

      This is the issue of the Atlantic for which Bono did the “cover art” celebrating Z. I think Caitlin’s response has already been posted, but if not:

      The competition is fierce, but I think Bono is leading in my “most despicable celebrity propagandist” contest. Producing his “art” to support the likes of Applebaum and Goldberg puts him up there. Sean Penn is blowing his chances by being too self-righteously obnoxious even for Hollywood.

      1. The Rev Kev

        I liked the bit where she said-

        ‘Many westerners felt their first stirrings of youthful rebellious passions while listening to U2 songs like “Sunday Bloody Sunday” and “Pride (In the Name of Love)”, but nowadays Bono’s voice is heard saying that he has “grown very fond” of war criminal George W Bush, praising capitalism at the World Economic Forum, teaming up with warmonger Lindsey Graham to promote US empire narratives about Syria, and singing “Stand by Ukraine” in support of US empire narratives in a Kyiv subway. And just when it looks like he can’t become any more of a tool of the empire, he gets hired by one of the world’s worst militarist smut rags to draw a cover image of Zelensky.’

    3. Keith Newman

      @Stephen, May 4, 7:46 am

      Independent polls conducted by UK profs show that ca. 85% of Crimeans were/are happy with the decision to join Russia. Hence the video. These were conducted at least twice and reported in the Washington Post. The notion that Crimea will rejoin Ukraine makes no sense except as a propaganda device.
      There is more to the issue as well: ie Crimea voting to be independent of Ukraine and Ukraine annexing it anyway following the break-up of the USSR.

      1. Polar Socialist

        In 1991 93% of Crimeans voted for establishing Crimean Autonomous Socialist Republic as a meber of Soviet Union and a party to the Union Treaty (to replace Soviet Union with a new union). So basically declaring independence from Ukraine.

        In 2014 97% of Crimeans voted for joining Russian Federation. Most of them were very unhappy with the Ukrainization started during Viktor Yushchenko’s presidency.

        I’ve understood that the current Ukrainian regime means “liberated Crimea” as a geographic area, without any of it’s current inhabitants.

        1. Stephen


          Fascinatingly, my understanding is that one of the first acts Russia carried out after 2014 was to put in place safeguards for the Tatar language. Ukraine had never done this. The opposite in fact.

          The western narrative is total nonsense.

          1. jrkrideau

            I remember seeing a Putin quote about this where he was also saying that he was worried about difficult it would be to do the same for Pontic Greek.

    4. hk

      It seemed like Ukrainians have been saying, since 2014, that every pro-Russian in Crimea, Donbass, and elsewhere in the Ukraine is a “Russian invader” who must be expelled even if they’d been there for centuries. So I suppose those folks would all be candidates for ethnic cleansing (and this has been the norm again in the recent decades–all in the name of human rights!(tm) and democracy!(tm)–see former Yugoslavia.

    5. Kouros

      The other half of the answer are the video clips with the charred bodies of those Russians from Odessa that in May 2014 have protested against the coup and burned to a crisp in the Trade Union’s Building…

  5. Old Sovietologist

    “Mad Max in Bakhmut”:

    Crazy to think that its 2023 and theirs’s major war going on in Europe where over 200k soldiers have been killed.

    Meanwhile the weather in Zaporizhzhia has really stabilised. It looks like the long awaited Ukrainian offensive will be launched in the next week.

    The Russian defence need to withstand the first salvo of the long-range HIMARS-type multiple rocket launchers and the swarm of drones the like of which probably hasn’t been witnessed on a battlefield.

    The West need the Ukrainian offensive to look successful in PR terms for its own audience and of course the image losses for Russia associated with this. It also wants the Russian’s to use tactical nuclear weapons which would damage Russia’s in the eyes of China & India. I think the Russian’s are too rational to fall into the nuclear trap.

    The upcoming success or failure of the the offensive will decide who gets to dictate the terms of the autumn peace agreement which will in effect freeze the conflict.

    However, long term what’s left of Ukraine will become even more nationalist and the west will continue to pump in weapons. So any peace settlement will be only temporary before the conflict emerges again.

    1. nippersdad

      I think the routinely reiterated terms of the Russian SMO will preclude a nationalist rump state capable of rearmament. A frozen conflict has been tried already, and I doubt it will be on the Russian agenda.

      Far more likely that anything they do not want will be ceded to Poland and Romania, giving them their very own new East Germanys to occupy themselves with.

      1. Kouros

        To Romania?? Romania hasnt managed to reunite with Moldova (eastern Moldova), so I highly doubt they would want pieces of Ukraine other than the Snake Island, with no population…

    2. Frank

      No, there isn’t going to be any Autumn peace, Minsk III, or what have you. You say the West will pump any remaining rump state with weapons to continue to be a thorn in Russia’s side as if the Russians are stupid and don’t know that themselves. Even if the Russian leadership wanted to stop, it can’t because the people won’t let it, Putin would be deposed. The only solution is for Russia to keep fighting until the entirety of Ukraine is subdued, however long it takes, however costly it is in terms of blood and treasure.

    3. Robert Hahl

      Speaking of the weather, all that smoke coming from Ukraine and Crimea reminded me it was said that northern hemisphere winters following WW II were relatively cold due to smoke from buring cities. Europe had a mild winter this year, but the odds against another mild one seem to be going up.

    4. anon in so cal

      Speaking of Bakhmut, Prigozhin has another video up wherein he’s totally apoplectic. It’s got a lot of
      people riled up. Hope it’s staged and just more ott dramatics. Zoka (who tends to be a doomer) posted it on Twitter.

    1. Verifyfirst

      Wow. Everyone needs to read this. Scariest thing I’ve read in a long time. There really is a “them” and a coordinated high level conspiracy. I don’t care WHY they are doing it (good motives, real beliefs, bad information, whatever–if they had any moral integrity they are smart enough to think for themselves, but at their pay grades, who would want to upset the applecart).

      I wish I shared his optimism that the tiny cracks he feels he found in the edifice were ever going to be of consequence. 650 comments, it says–not sure if/when I’ll be able to read those!

      1. Michael Fiorillo

        As Adolph Reed says, sincerity is overrated.

        Who cares if #McResistance imbeciles truly believe that Russia helped elect Trump, or that the war in Ukraine is a struggle between “Democracy” and “Totalitarianism?”

        Q-Anon, Blue Anon… the inability of too many people to reason, think critically and argue with integrity is turbocharged by their narcissistic Sincerity.

    2. Milton

      Thanks for the link. It’s so frustrating to hear of an account where it is obvious that those espousing the consensus line of the unquestioned benefits of the vaccine, are refusing to look at the data in front of them because their paychecks, livelihoods depend on their obsequiousness to the medical establishment and huge pharma.

    3. notabanker

      Great link thanks. They mention Dr. Aseem Molhotra in the article. He was a conference speaker on the vaccine mandate conference posted a few days ago in the comments. There is a clip circulating on YT where he appeared on Joe Rogan and talked about statins. He goes into some detail on how he was attacked by the establishment by trying to discredit his statins study. In the end, his study was upheld by a 6-0 unanimous vote.

    1. Acacia

      I remember that. Somehow their bonds were subsequently upgraded to BBB, and the company became considered “a rising star” which means it was junk but then became investment grade.

      But with the streaming bubble bursting… I guess we’ll see.

    2. Jeff V

      Thanks for the link, that was a very interesting analysis.

      I looked around for more recent cash flow reports on Netflix, and the Motley Fool from November says Netflix’s current cash position is a lot better, and can only improve as they stop paying for new content.

      No prizes for guessing whether that spare cash should be used to pay off some of their USD 13 Billion of debt, or used instead for share buybacks. What could go wrong? And it’s not as if stopping buying new content could have any impact on subscriber numbers and hence revenue ..

      1. Pat

        Having seen how their content providers were allowed to set wheel barrows full of cash on fire, paying for content that was not produced directly for them will be magnitudes cheaper and likely better quality in many cases than the idiocies of the last decade or so.

        Do not forget they are also beginning to crackdown on password sharing in the US, if it works like it has in other countries they will end up with fewer subscribers but more revenue, as many of those that stay will pay increased rates so the family still share.

        Does any company pay debt, produce new products, raise the wages of the workers who make the company work before issuing a stock buy back?

  6. zagonostra

    >Protest and Power in France – Project Syndicate

    Too much repetition can diminish the impact of even the most dramatic events. Such is the case with mass protests in France, which erupt so often and persist for so long that much of the world hardly takes notice.

    I’m not familiar with “Project Syndicate” but the first sentence of the article above made me suspect. Is it repetition that is behind the months long protest not getting any coverage? I don’t think so. Those who control the means of widely broadcasting an event over and over or not broadcasting an event at all or diminishing coverage are the ones who share in “Power.” It is not “Protest and Power” it is Protest versus Power.

    1. Aurelien

      It’s a reasonable account of the situation, although like a lot of similar Anglo-Saxon commentary, it ignores the fact that the Fifth Republic has the Constitution it has, because of almost a century of political instability brought about by parliamentary regimes that were incapable of forming lasting governments. It’s Macron more than the Fifth Republic that’s the problem. It’s also objectively true that the more you repeat something the harder it is to interest people in it. There have been twelve or thirteen days of mobilisation this year, and they’ve all been dutifully covered by the media–Le Monde has published an interactive map each time where you can see what’s going on where you live. But the article is right to say that the impact diminishes with time, as it must. Macron has broken the basic rule of French politics, not well expressed in the article, which is that elected politicians, including the President, only have legitimacy so long as they respect the broad thrust of public opinion. Any other politician would have given up faced with this degree of opposition, but Macron took advantage of the fact that ultimately there’s no way of forcing him to back down, except for action in the streets, which is where we seem to be going now. If you’re interested, I’ve written rather more about the issue here.

      1. Bazarov

        I don’t know if I buy this claim: ” It’s also objectively true that the more you repeat something the harder it is to interest people in it.”

        In my life, a remarkable thing happened. For more than a decade, the US media apparatus repeated 24/7 the existential danger posed by guerrilla forces like the Taliban, Al Qaeda, and the insurgency in Iraq. People were frothing at the mouth for years about it! Every time Jane-normal turned on the TV, a spokesmodel reminded her how barbaric these guerrillas were and how gloriously just it was to rain bombs on savage locales far, far away.

        Then, all of a sudden, it stopped. And without the constant propaganda, people ceased caring. I can’t remember the last time anyone mentioned the “war on the terror” to me or justified anything based on the talking points ubiquitous from 2001 to, say, 2014. Very smoothly, the population was herded on to new pastures: Russia and China.

        Now, instead of the Taliban or whatever, the normals froth about China and Russia (emphasizing one or the other depending on which party they sympathize with). The media sets the agenda by repetition, which is effective in maintaining interest for a long time. They can repeat the same line for years, and the people seem to eat it up.

  7. BillS

    Re: European Disunion: While France loudly protests, Italy is quietly dismantling its national health system, bridges are collapsing, factory offshoring continues apace.

    Lately, I have been seeing flashy adverts on TV and online for private health clinics run by insurance giants like Unipol, Allianz, etc. Private clinics are popping up like mushrooms, yet the public system is being starved of funds and staff. This sends chills down my spine as I see an American-style health-insurance insurance jungle replacing the once well-functioning (however imperfect) national health systems. We are all becoming Ukraine!

  8. The Rev Kev

    “WHO experts weigh up whether world ready to end COVID emergency”

    I suppose that many in the WHO are keen to put the pandemic behind them so that people will stop talking about it and criticizing them. That law professor at Georgetown University said that ‘All emergencies must come to an end’ which on the surface sounds reasonable – which it is not here. I would compare the outbreak of the Pandemic to an explosion so yes, the original explosion is over. The trouble is that in terms of an explosion, we are at the part where debris and shrapnel are still raining down on us and inflicting even larger casualties. Maybe the WHO can do what it did at the beginning of the pandemic – by removing the word ‘pandemic’ from their lexicon – because that worked out so well.

    1. Craig H.

      The only place I have seen this is in the sports reporting.


      “Today, we are announcing that the Administration will end the Covid-19 vaccine requirements for federal employees, federal contractors, and international air travellers at the end of the day on May 11, the same day that the Covid-19 public health emergency ends,” the White House said in a statement.


  9. GramSci

    All the AskAKorean Tweeter’s links are “down”. Who knew Elon was so sensitive to Korean sensibilities. What ever happened to “deal with it”?

    1. Wukchumni

      {imagines Joey @ a karaoke bar somewhere south of the 38th parallel}

      … Got what I got the hard way
      And I’ll make it better each and every day
      So honey don’t you fret
      ‘Cause you ain’t seen nothing yet

      … I’m a Seoul man
      I’m a Seoul man
      Play it Yoon!
      I’m a Seoul man
      I’m a Seoul man

  10. The Rev Kev

    ‘Ukrainian postal service #Ukrposhta announced the launch of a new stamp after the night attack on the #Kremlin.’

    To modify an old First Cold War era Joke – two Russian tank commanders are wandering around Lviv at the end of the war and taking in the sights when they bumped into each other. After talking for awhile, one says the other ‘Say, any idea of who won the media war?’

    1. Acacia


      Seeing that tweet above with the image of the Kremlin-on-fire postage stamp, I had one of those “Is this satire? Maybe not?” moments.

    1. curlydan

      And besides the school swag…as a father of two high school aged boys, I’m always surprised to see parents willing to spend $$$ to send their children to “out of state” state schools. The first family in that article is from NJ but is sending their daughter to the University of Indiana (out of state tuition: $39,510 per year). I see that Rutgers University tuition is $15,000 per year. From my perspective, I see an instant way to save $24K per year!

      I keep telling my kids that unless they can get into a really good private school, I will only send them to an “in state” state school. I just can’t justify an out of state state school or a so-so private school. Let’s hope I hold out–I want to retire!

      1. Laura in So Cal

        We sent our son to a state school in another state. There were multiple reasons, but the biggest driver was the covid vax requirements at almost all california colleges. The school he goes to never required it. The combination of the fact that he gets WUE reduced tuition and 529 savings should help us pay for it without student loans.

    2. griffen

      Let’s celebrate excess with more excess! Yeah, enjoy your debt servitude while attending your favorite big time college. Back in the halcyon days of my teenage youth, I was celebrating (if you can call it that) by working to save money for my first year. The $3,000 mentioned above, well that is more than the $1,200 I dropped on my first car in 1990. I’m sure that a modern, inflation adjusted price for used Dodge Colt 4 cylinder, absent A/C and wonderful vinyl seating, might be in that range.

      Maybe overlong celebrations of a mere high school completion and entering your vital college years, deserves a rethink? Rhetorical question, of course. This is America. Go Big and Go in Debt.

  11. digi_owl

    AI replacing execs, not a new thought that.

    It brought to mind one episode from the original Connections series, where Burke is “touring” an seemingly empty office complex. While talking about how in the future perhaps management will sit around, waiting for the basement mainframe to come up with the next 14 day strategy for them to implement.

    And while writing down that, Cybersyn came to mind, as well as other proposed ideas for computerized socialism. Funny how companies again and again can implement command economies internally and nobody blinks, while if one try so, unless while at war, for whole nations there is a “national” panic.

  12. Pat

    I do love an Atrios explains it all for you paragraph or two. He does it so well.

    Mind you I haven’t read comments there more than occasionally since 2016 when most of the regulars were still deluding themselves 1.) that Republicans kept Obama from being the greatest President and 2.) Hillary was going to demolish Trump. I still admire those who thought to remain and inject some reality. But reading them today it appears TDS and Ukraine forever have been fully embraced. Applebaum’s latest even gets a recommendation. I remember many there being less than fans, but that was another time before the Neoliberals swallowed the left and the progressives whole.

    I hope Brand and Saager are right that there is an independent journalism rising that might be similar to the blogs and muckrakers of yore. Places where holes are punched in the propaganda and controlled messaging that allows light and doubt and realization to breakthrough. Some modern equivalent of the child pointing out the emperor has no clothes, only it would have to include the palace is crumbling, the general is picking fights, and….and….

  13. flora

    re: 2024.

    So… the geniuses in MSM have forgotten one of the oldest ideas in the US: Americans love an underdog.

    The MSM is making T look like an underdog – a feat I would have thought impossible. Shows how disconnected the MSM and especially cable news is from the rest of the country. / ;)

  14. Wukchumni

    Gooooooooood Mooooooooorning Fiatnam!

    It was the best of times to panic-while it was the worst of times to panic, everybody was in agreement while transferring funds from Plan A to Plan B on QWERTY using light digital pressure on the very ends on their arms to move alms.

    You couldn’t really call it panicking if all you were doing was losing faith in various banking establishments and parking the money in Treasuries, essentially putting all your faith in Federal fiat.

    Fear, by the Ventures

    1. Mark Sanders

      OMG, as they say, someone remembers the Ventures! I still have that album.

  15. The Rev Kev

    “Cord cutting, streaming losses and the ‘terrifying math’ driving the writers strike”

    Well the good news is that it is not a complete disaster-

    ‘Defund Ukraine
    “Oh no, what happened to Seth Meyers-Stephen Colbert-Jimmy Kimmel and all the other interchangeable late night hosts who all tell the same Trump/Republican jokes” said no one’

    Seems that without writers, they can’t do a single thing. I don’t think that the same could ever have been said of people like Red Skelton, Dean Martin, Danny Kaye, etc.

    1. Carolinian

      I was never that big a Johnny Carson fan but he was a cultural force in a way those you just mentioned could never be. He was also apolitical which itself reflected the country’s obsession with success rather than ideology. I had a rich uncle who seemed to ape Carson’s style, as did many. By the 80s his above it all cool turned into Letterman-esque “irony” and the breeding ground for those you mentioned. Reputedly above the entrance to The Daily Show’s studio was a sign “abandon all news ye who enter here.” Now Jon Stewart is in Ukraine puffing up Zelensky. The ironists are revealing just how shallow they were all the time.

      1. Pat

        For odd reasons I ended up hanging out with some of the Daily Show writers a few times during Stewart’s time there. That might have been above the door but each and every one were news junkies.
        When you talk about shallow, please do not forget that even then our press was increasingly shallow. The writers I knew were as appalled at the news media then as we are here about todays media. And for many of the same reasons. They wanted people to realize how bad the press was and were trying to use humor to do so.

        Assimilation may have occurred, but I have to refute your blanket accusation that it and everyone was shallow at the time.

        Something about Carson’s period on television you should remember, is that news was not considered entertainment during that period. The divisions were kept largely separate. He also took up The Tonight Show during a period of growing unrest in the country. NBC, and Carson himself, would have wanted it clear he was not continuing the ten o’clock news. Once that was established there was no reason to change. It worked for him.

        1. pjay

          I would love to know what those writers think of Stewart, or Colbert, today. For me, that would be the test on whether they were more than just “news junkies” and were actually able to dissect it critically.

        2. flora

          I remember the Daily Show with Stewart. It was very funny, witty, on point. Until… the writers went on strike over wages (I think it was). During that time, Stewart wasn’t very funny or on point, imo. Drove home the point that the show’s presenter isn’t the creative genius entirely responsible for the show’s success. After the strike was settled and the writers were back at work the show returned to its high standard of commentary and humor.

          1. Pat

            Believe it or not that strike was about a big part of what this strike is about, streaming compensation and how it is calculated. They knew before the rest of the guilds that streaming would become a major factor in the entertainment business AND that producers would use it to lower income and benefits both for production residuals and income and benefits for production financed by streaming companies. Part of the reason that IATSE the technical union is actually supporting this one, as in telling their members they can honor picket lines, is that last time around they pooh poohed it and in no time found their dvd residual supported benefits in deep doodoo. The writers wage and benefit asks for the majors really weren’t the problem.

            There is more this time around but it is about agencies and conflict of interest.

        3. Carolinian

          Fair enough. I loved The Daily Show but in my as always humble o neither Colbert nor John Oliver have been very good after leaving it. I’m sure you are right that the writers made a big difference. They were smart about the news while Letterman just goofed around and threw watermelons off buildings to watch them explode.

          But the “everything is bullshit” attitude has turned more vicious rather than intelligent and this is not helping. Colbert, in front of Bush and his press corps, called the press stenographers and now he’s a stenographer. Career over all–not a big surprise.

          As I say below I don’t watch streaming and therefore not really entitled ot much of an opinion. But I do watch a lot of media and think Hollywood has lost its already shaky way. When it comes to television we’ve always been grateful for what we can get.

    2. Pat

      I have to point out that all three you mentioned by name are members of the WGA and part of the writing staff for their shows.

      Oh and while I am not sure about Skelton’s show, Martin wrote little to none of his material after leaving stand up and he was a producer not a writer his program, and though Kaye’s wife was a writer he was not. Steve Allen otoh….

      Seriously, even older shows had a somewhat extensive writing staff. Just think, Your Show of Shows didn’t just have Sid Caesar, but Mel Brooks, Neil Simon and Woody Allen were all on the writing staff at some point. Variety not talk, but even Allen’s Tonight Show had four or five people on staff along with him.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Sure they had their own writing staff but all of them were capable of going on stage with a cold audience and warming them up. They did the hard yards when younger and did more shows that I have had hot dinners. I cannot imagine a Stephen Colbert doing the same with an audience using only his own abilities.

      2. Michael Fiorillo

        Carl Reiner and Larry Gelbert should be added to the Show of Shows list of writers.

    3. LY

      They’re shutting down the show in solidarity with the writers. But, can watch the View as they’re soldiering on without their writers.

      And Red Skelton and Dean Martin had writing staff on their shows.

    4. Mildred Montana

      Re: Colbert et al

      The good news is that nobody will be watching their schtick a few years from now. Nobody will be downloading it on YouTube. Because it’s like a McDonald’s hamburger, momentarily satisfying if consumed right away, inedible after that.

      The reason their comedy will lose its flavor quickly is because it is topical. It deals with the issues of the day and personalities in the news, not the enduring social or cultural problems that affect us all. That is a recipe for ephemeral trash.

      Two comedians who make comedy gold out of social and cultural problems without once mentioning the “hot’ issue of the day or the name of a politician:

      George Carlin (27M views, 13 min.)
      Sam Kinison (4M views, 10 min.) (Warning: Profanity, sexual content, and “misogyny”, if one is sensitive to such things)

      Good comedy, like satire, is iconoclastic, subversive, disruptive. It challenges the current narrative, doesn’t reinforce it. The so-called comedy of Colbert and friends will be forgotten—and soon.

      1. Screwball

        I loved Carlin and I can only imagine what he would have to say today. So much material…

        Gone way too soon.

  16. William Beyer

    The Vice piece on RFK Jr. now yields a “404” message. It was accessible an hour ago.

    1. pjay

      I was able to open it with no problem. But all you need to read is the first sentence:

      “If there’s one thing to know about prominent anti-vaccine activist and current presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr., it’s that he makes false claims about vaccines.”

      That is the one *and only* thing you need to know about RFK Jr., according to the author. The rest of the article elaborates on this one thing, criticizing those MSM outlets that provide Kennedy a forum without hammering this point sufficiently. I think her colleagues will listen to her wise advice.

      1. Yves Smith

        He absolutely does make false claims about vaccines. He says MMR vaccines produce autism That’s been roundly debunked. I happened to know the CA couple second hand who are major promoters and funders of the theory. Husband in PE. Wife is the main activist.

        I was told long form the tale of a dinner where said wife was asked politely by an academic MD to provide the evidentiary foundation of her views. She couldn’t. She instead got very ugly.

    2. flora

      In a relatively short article they used the term “anti-vaccine” eleven times. / heh

      1. Pat

        It appears that is the biggest thing they can throw at RFK is his position on vaccines.
        I could be wrong about registered Democrats, but I don’t think it may be as big a sure thing that it was during the vaccines are all we need stage almost a couple of years ago.

        1. lambert strether

          > the biggest thing

          Well, working hard to make infection with measles a regular part of children’s lives once more disqualifies President Wakefield for me. YMMV, of course.

          1. pjay

            Unfortunately, working hard to start WWIII with one or both major nuclear superpowers disqualifies every other candidate for me, so I guess we’re screwed.

            Regarding the vaccine issue, I will not engage. I am definitely not anti-vax. But using this “Wakefield” meme is unfair. If RFK Jr. actually says “MMR vaccines produce autism,” period, as Yves says above, then he’s demonstrably wrong for the vast majority of recipients. But there are dozens of studies that have pointed to *possible* links between vaccines and autism at some level, for some subgroups. It’s not just this one study. To say that “Vaccines do not cause autism,” period, has also *not* been proven.

          2. kareninca

            How much is it going to matter, I wonder. Let ‘er rip has now made childhood illnesses a part of the lives of adults who were vaccinated against them as children, as well as of present day vaccinated children:

   (“In the city, many adults vaccinated for chickenpox are also getting infected, say doctors.”)

            If your immune system is shot, you may get childhood diseases even if you have been vaccinated against them. So, I am in favor of the usual childhood vaccines, but I’m not sure they are going to help so much going forward.

    1. cfraenkel

      Me neither. A quick google search says a Wakefield was one of the originators of the MMR vacc –> autism hysteria, so I assume the reference is to RFK Jr’s anti-vac stance (?). But I don’t care enough to track it down any further. Sounds like a dog-whistle.

      1. lambert strether

        Well, I’m not into trading on the family name to give children measles. RFK the Lesser, by amplifying Wakefield’s fake and ultimately retracted article, is. Children’s Health Defense, my Sweet Aunt Fanny. It’s a crock, and RFK the Lesser is a purveyor of crocks. That he’s taken seriously by anyone, let alone members of the NC commentariat, is a sign of the profound degradation of the party system and our political discourse generally.

        As “dog whistle,” damn straight “President Wakefield” is a dog whistle. Please propagate it widely, because if it catches on I will be a very happy camper. “So shines a good deed in a naughty world,” as we say.

        1. Carolinian

          His name isn’t Joe Biden. That’s nuff said for my primary vote. How wrong is Biden about oh, say, everything? And maliciously, blood spillingly wrong. I’m willing to believe that RFK advocates some dubious positions in good faith.

          I was not one of Sanders big supporters but I voted for him in the last cycle primary. Biden is a disaster and we always knew it.

          1. britzklieg

            Agreed. And since the skynet (?) didn’t like my comment about vaccination being undermined by the dodgy mrna vaccines and those who pushed them, for reasons I can not fathom given that writers here have made the same observation, I’ll leave it at that. Besides, I’m out of patience with the constant links subtly promoting the “effectiveness” of the mrna’s since it should be clear by now that so many of the “studies” which aim to prove the unprovable are dodgy themselves… what was that about so many “retracted” papers to professional journals during this s%$#show of a medical failure?…

            My point was that the same people who promoted the half-ass mrna vaccines have now provided RFK Jr.’s crazy-pants take on childhood vaccines with some cover. The question of vaccine effectiveness is toothpaste out of the tube, whatever the truth may be.

    2. jrkrideau

      Former Dr. Andrew Wakefield who started a lot of the “modern” anti-vax hysteria by fabricating a study that was published in The Lancet. It took something like 10-12 years to get the study retracted. He came very close to completely wreaking the careers of his fellow-authors who believed his fabricated data.

      He is a former doctor as he was struck-off.

    3. lambert strether

      > I don’t get this president Wakefield reference they keep using

      “They” is me, champ.

  17. Lexx

    ‘Cord cutting, streaming losses and the ‘terrifying math’ driving the writers strike’

    I wonder who’s cutting the cord faster, the media companies or the subscribers? In addition to Netflix and Prime Video, we signed up for HBO Max for a few months, hoovered up all the streaming content we were interested in watching and cancelled. Then we signed up for first Apple, then Disney +, hoovered for a few months and cancelled. I’m starting to look for something new. Maybe next year we sign back up for a month to find out what happened with those characters. There’s no penalty for cancellation… for now.

    The media companies don’t want to pay their workers except when in production. As far as they’re concerned it’s gig work and has been for the last few decades that I know of. When production wraps hundreds of thousands of workers in Hollywood go on unemployment and pray their show is renewed or start looking for their next source of income.

    The first workers kicked to the curb are the writers, since the scripts have to be written or mostly completed before production begins. I’ve read the average age of those writers is getting lower all the time. If the writing seems to sound increasingly immature to your ears, it may be because the writers don’t have a lot of mileage on them. Ditto for the producers… or I dunno, maybe the executives are dumbing the scripts down, it’s bloody awful either way and it’s why, say a couple in their sixties, can rip through content very quickly. I don’t like leftovers for dinner or reruns unless it was very good the first time.

    I find some kind of weird appeal in the ‘Jesse Stone’ movies; I keep rewatching them and I’m not a Tom Selleck fan. The writing was above average, there’s a dog, and good jazz playing in the background. Good jazz is transcendent.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Agreed about the ‘Jesse Stone’ movies. They really developed his character and his dog took the edge off him in his quite hours. Good script-writing, good acting – what’s not to like?

      1. Lexx

        The scripts weren’t overly verbose; Stone is a deeply flawed character* and never pretends otherwise; the golden retrievers (2) border on angelic in their patience and fortitude with their human; and I love rain and the ocean… any ocean. It’s the perfect combination for easy viewing curled up on the couch for hours.

        *Is that Johnny Walker Red Label he’s drinking?!

    2. albrt

      The trend among my friends in flyover country is to drop their official streaming subscriptions and sign up for highly suspect aggregating services from somewhere in the middle east or south asia. The services claim to have 15,000 channels, including local sports which are some of the hardest channels to get in the U.S. At first only a few tech savvy people were doing this. Most of my friends avoided it because it seemed too scammy. But now that it’s been going on for a few years with no apparent adverse consequences, my friends are signing up in droves.

      Maybe everybody else is aware of this, but I don’t think I’ve seen it discussed much here. Not sure how the US media monopolies will get this toothpaste back in the tube, given how far it’s gone.

      1. junkelly

        You used to have to be computer savvy to pirate content, now it’s prepackaged for you. I know people that have “sticks” preloaded with stuff like that. Illegal or cracked content, stream it to the tv or computer. If it stops working just get another one for $25. . .

      2. Pat

        They are working on it. The aggregating services are under attack. They may be able to keep them with a vpn, but at least one large alternative streamer was shut down in the US recently.

      1. Acacia

        The director Albert Serra says:

        “It’s like they say, all films today look like they were made by algorithms. Ideologically, all were made by algorithms. On the performance of actors, all were made by algorithms. The actors themselves are already algorithms. On the level of dramatic construction, all were made by algorithms. We don’t see films like, I don’t know, Pulp Fiction. Somebody making the effort to make it different. Everything now is so conventional.”

      2. LilD

        I’m using it for scriptwriting.
        I came up with a plot and some characters and an overall arc, (have many such things in the notebook…) and use chatGPT to suggest plot points, beats and character exposition. It’s mostly bad but useful often enough.
        I’m not a pro and have never sold anything but output is 3x faster with my unpaid eager intern ie chatGPT helping out. It knows all of the screenwriting books, save the cat etc
        Maybe it’s 3x as much cr@p but I definitely feel like I’m more productive

    3. LifelongLib

      IIRC in the books Stone is in his late 30s. Selleck played him as older middle-aged which I think improved the character quite a bit.

  18. The Rev Kev

    People will be happy to know that Zelensky is now safe in the Netherlands where he will be at The Hague. No, not on trial for war crimes but there to give a speech and raise money. I guess if the Great Ukrainian Offensives fizzles out, then he is only a short flight to Miami and his mansion there. Hey maybe he can get together with Venezuela’s Juan Greedo. They could even be next door neighbours and Zelensky could even visit him and ask to borrow a cup of (sniff, sniff) “sugar”-

  19. JohnM_inMN

    Is twitter down for anyone else in the commentariat? I’m getting the nothing to see here message with a poodle on a chair.

  20. Carolinian

    Vanity Fair

    The networks used to employ tons of people just to create and shoot pilots for a zillion shows that never saw the light of day. And if a broadcast show did make it into America’s living rooms? It’d have at least 20 episodes every season, which meant people had steady employment on a single series all year. Actors, writers, and directors would also get residual checks every time an episode was rerun, the way songwriters get royalties. For some TV creatives, it could have a big impact on their bottom line if their show was sold into syndication. People in the industry love to trash network TV as timid and formulaic, but it didn’t just bring many of them to the dance, it bought them second homes in Ojai[…]

    Like Uber, they changed culture and only then realized their business model was unsustainable. Now they’re aggressively cutting back on deals with talent, the number of original scripted shows they’re making, and the budgets attached to remaining projects. “I certainly know people, myself included, who realistically might have thought a year or two ago that they’d be renegotiating for multimillion-dollar overall deals,” says a prominent showrunner. “Now it’s like, Oh, there’s not going to be any deal for me at all.” In other words, welcome to Peaked TV.

    TV from vast wasteland to vast art land? Or is most of all that ‘art’ itself not very good? Since I don’t stream I’ve seen very little of it and perhaps shouldn’t even offer a comment. But the library did get some discs of Handmaid’s Tale to which I can only say yuk. Silo-ing entertainment may be an unfortunate reflection of our current culture and its failure only worthy of crocodile tears.

  21. The Rev Kev

    “The F-35 Lightning II Fighter, In Europe, Wins Fans While Watching Russia”

    This sounds like a Lockheed Martin ad than an actual article. Real world experience? Will they try flying it over the Ukraine itself? One of it’s roles is ground support to replace the A-10 Thunderbolt II after all. By coincidence I came across an article today by an F-16 pilot. You know, the plane that they talk about sending into the Ukraine. He said that if they tried to send it there that the Russian anti air defenses are much too strong. So how would an F-35 go flying over eastern Ukraine?

    1. gf

      I talked to a commercial pilot a few years ago that said some pilots in the military he knew did not like the F-35 because it was a single engine.

  22. WillyBgood

    ” (after wiring an electromagnetic shotgun to the forehead of every one of ’em)”. Thanks for the lol, almost spit my morning tea! Should be part of a law that AI is guilty until proven innocent, and missteps mean their end!

  23. A guy in Washington DC

    There is only one thing national leaders take more seriously than national security and that is the personal security of themselves and their own families. In 1993 former President George Bush senior visited Kuwait to celebrate the First Iraq War victory. An Iraqi team tried to kill him: The Bush family for obvious reasons did not forget. It is not clear who in Iraq authorized the operation.

    But one of the first responses to 9/11 was President George Bush junior’s question to his staff: “Do we have any proof the Iraqis were involved?” They didn’t, but 9/11 provided a convenient excuse. Exit Saddam Hussein and a bit later his two sons, surrounded one night in a fairly isolated house and not given the opportunity to surrender- an antitank round took them out in their sleep. The women and children in the family were allowed to go into exile- the traditional Bedouin rule.

    In the past three days one Ukrainian drone was apparently aimed at a Moscow-area factory Putin was scheduled to visit and two more attacked the Kremlin compound where Putin lives: Here are some pictures of the Kremlin attack This was either extreme carelessness on the part of the Ukrainians or an assassination attempt. Or maybe just a PR stunt poorly timed. And most of these drones use reconnaissance and GPS satellite information from the US to find their targets. This, combined with a series of other recent Ukrainian attacks on what are usually considered civilian targets ( ) plus the semi-official Ukrainian attempts to justify the attacks because the targets are “war criminals” are, indeed, a very bad sign.

    That does not mean Zelinsky is behind the attacks. The US has had enough experience with rogue, semi-official operations for us to understand the problem of attribution. In the spring of 1864, when the outcome of the Civil War and the 1864 election were still in doubt, a cavalry raid on Richmond was authorized Wikipedia describes it in gory detail. Among other things: “Papers discovered on his (Dahlgren’s) body revealed orders to free Union prisoners from Belle Isle, arm them with flammable material, torch the city of Richmond and assassinate Confederate President Jefferson Davis and his cabinet.” The gloves came off and a few months later Lincoln was assassinated. Lincoln probably never saw the order.

    JFK-Fidel Castro affair plus the wave of assassination that led up to WWI are other examples of playing with fire. If, as I suspect, many Ukrainian officials see little chance for a victorious outcome to the war, there are many people with the incentive to say “Let’s escalate!”. Efforts in both the American press and the White House to ignore these attacks is a serious error.

    1. Maxwell Johnston

      I’m in Moscow this week and will post my observations next week when I’m back in Italy. There is a lot of discussion here of the Kremlin drone stunt the other night (I wouldn’t call it an attack–too clumsy to deserve that word–but I don’t think it was a false flag, either). There are reports this evening that GPS has stopped functioning in the center of Moscow (car and smartphone navigation, etc), so maybe extra precautions are being taken. I agree with your observations; Putin will take this as a direct threat to his personal safety, and he will eventually give the order to retaliate in kind. But I don’t think he will hurry, and I don’t think his forces will miss their target when the order comes down.

      On a more amusing note: this afternoon I looked out my upstairs window (we’re spending the week in the countryside at our dacha) and saw an enormous plume of black smoke coming from the village nearby, about 2 km away. It was quite a fire. Of course the thought of a drone strike (or a downed drone) crossed my mind; there are no military or petroleum targets in our area, but we’re under the Vnukovo airport flight path. Yikes. So this evening we drove to the local village to do some shopping. And we drove past the site of the fire (which was under control but still smoldering, counted 5 fire trucks), which was a run-down building. A local shopkeeper told me that the building was where some security guards and guest workers were living. So it’s nice to know that it wasn’t a UKR drone, but just good old fashioned negligence and bad construction and blatant non-adherence to fire regulations. Russian life carrying onwards as usual.

  24. Janeway

    Vanity Fair article – the worst is not even mentioned. You can get anything on cable or streaming services 100% FREE. Not legal, but FREE.

    IPTV (and KODI) is the lingo to search and there are hundreds of websites that show you how to get it all for free.

    That toothpaste is out any never going back in.

    As more people sign up and get comfortable paying Zero . Zero for content, the industry will continue to collapse.

    Unlike Napster, there is no central site to close down, it’s a whack a mole situation and 99% of them operate from overseas. With a VPN, there is almost no way to ever stop this without shutting down the internet itself.

    1. Carolinian

      In theory the content owners can get your IP address and your provider will send a warning. There have even been civil cases filed against file sharers but with little success and the movie studios seem to have given up except in egregious cases.

      Me, I get everything I want through the library so it is free although the library pays.

      As for collapse, Bittorrent has existed for many years now. No collapse. Streaming is a response however as they are trying to mimic the convenience of internet delivery if not the pirate price. And it seemed to be working as long as the rest of the economy was. Maybe it’s the short series streaming format that is the problem. Articles I see say that the money was over committed to shows of uncertain worth.

  25. Willow

    Agree with Mercouris that the Moscow drone attack was likely a (Ukraine/UK/US?) stunt to take out Russian flag above the Kremlin. US/UK brainiacs thinking these things up keep failing to take into account wider optics of these stunts. Social media idiots like the ones responsible for the Bud Light debacle. Russia will use this to create a narrative to justify taking Kyiv. Putin won’t attack Zelensky directly but will take his city.

    1. Acacia

      Thanks for that. Grim and sobering indeed, especially the section on ‘Negotiations’.

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