Links 6/15/2023

Evidence of 1-Billion-Year-Old ‘Lost World’ of Microbes Discovered beneath Australian Outback Scientific American

The idea of “holobionts” represents a paradigm shift in biology The Economist (Rev Kev). Fascinating. As is if the unit of analysis were not the plant, but the companion planting.


Rich nations say they’re spending billions to fight climate change. Some money is going to strange places. Reuters

France’s Global Warming Predicament Counterpunch

Anthropogenic climate change impacts exacerbate summer forest fires in California PNAS. From the Abstract: “Using the latest simulations for climate change attribution and detection studies and accounting for the uncertainties arising from the data-driven climate-fire model and climate models, we quantify the influence of anthropogenic climate change on recent changes in [summer forest burned area (BA)]. We show that nearly all of the observed increase in BA over the past half-century is attributable to anthropogenic climate change.”

Evidence for Large Increases in Clear-Air Turbulence Over the Past Four Decades Geophysical Research Letters. “Turbulence is unpleasant to fly through in an aircraft. Strong turbulence can even injure air passengers and flight attendants. An invisible form called clear-air turbulence (CAT) is predicted to become more frequent because of climate change. Here we analyze modern atmospheric data based on four decades of observations (1979–2020) to investigate whether CAT has already started to increase…. We find clear evidence of large CAT increases in various places around the world at aircraft cruising altitudes since satellites began observing the atmosphere. For example, at a typical point over the North Atlantic, the upward trend is such that the strongest category of CAT was 55% more frequent in 2020 than 1979. Our study represents the best evidence yet that CAT has increased over the past four decades, consistent with the expected effects of climate change.”


How Arizona squeezes tribes for water High Country News

Ancient fish, modern problem: How the pallid sturgeon could be a warning for the Missouri River NPR


Estimates of Bivalent mRNA Vaccine Durability in Preventing COVID-19–Associated Hospitalization and Critical Illness Among Adults with and Without Immunocompromising Conditions — VISION Network, September 2022–April 2023 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, CDC. From the Abstract: “Among adults aged ≥18 years without immunocompromising conditions, bivalent booster vaccine effectiveness (VE) against COVID-19–associated hospitalization declined from 62% at 7–59 days postvaccination to 24% at 120–179 days compared with VE among unvaccinated adults. Among immunocompromised adults, lower bivalent booster VE was observed. However, bivalent booster VE was sustained against critical COVID-19–associated outcomes, including intensive care unit admission or death.” 120–179 days is pretty fast. But it’s a good business model: The now “endemic” disease is the razor, and the vaccines are the blades. Say, how are those sterilizing vaccines coming?


China to deploy deposit insurance to repay victims of rural banking fraud FT

Chinese miners try livestream sales to shift coal glut Channel News Asia

Stridulations New Left Review. On silk workers.


Another 33 Political Scientists Ask NCERT to Remove Their Names From Textbooks The Wire. These are the textbooks from which evolution and the periodic table were removed.

Iran’s SEPAM to replace SWIFT in trade transactions: ACU chief (press release) Islamic Republic News Agency. ACU = Asian Clearing Union (the central banks of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Iran, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka). The sourcing on this is dreadful; the press release gives no link to where ACU chief Farhad Morsali said whatever he said. This seems to be the story:

The switch to SEPAM is apparently temporary until the new “Iseomer” (spelling?) platform is ready. Meanwhile:


US deploys fighter jets to Middle East after ‘unsafe and unprofessional behavior’ by Russian planes CNN. Keep it domestic, guys.

US welcomes decision by Canada, Netherlands to take Syria to ICJ over torture allegations Anadolu Agency. As if ***cough*** Abu Ghraib ***cough*** Gitmo ***cough*** we had standing.

Dear Old Blighty

Boris Johnson condemned for lying to parliament FT Bojo: “Dignity is a grossly overrated commodity and that I prefer to fight to the end.”

New Not-So-Cold War

Ukraine’s forces are advancing but appear to be miles from Russia’s main defensive line. A much tougher fight lies ahead. Insider (sorry; best headline). They don’t “appear to be.” They are.

West confirms successes of Ukrainian counteroffensive and predicts further progress Ukrainska Pravda

Putin threatens to seize more of Ukraine to block border attacks AP. FAFO.

* * *

A Drawn-Out Ukraine War Should Not Change U.S. Strategy Foreign Policy. The deck: “It’s in Washington’s interest to make the best possible use of Moscow’s barbaric folly.”

The US plan for Ukraine: short-term carnage, frozen conflict Aaron Maté. So in terms of outcomes, Maté and Foreign Policy are on the same page…

Why Blockading Rather Than Retaking Crimea Might Be Kyiv’s Best Option The Moscow Times (via RAND).

* * *

Sergey Karaganov: By using its nuclear weapons, Russia could save humanity from a global catastrophe RT (LawnDart).

Leader of Belarus says he wouldn’t hesitate to use Russian nuclear weapons to repel aggression AP

Fiscal policy in the rich world is mind-bogglingly reckless The Economist. The deck: “High inflation and low unemployment requires tighter budgets not looser ones.” Also purging and bleeding.

Biden Administration

SEC proposal to re-define “exchange” draws broad industry concerns Axios

Biden Administration Tells Car Manufacturers to Ignore Right-to-Repair Law Gizmodo (Rev Kev).

Congress Is Still Heading Toward a Shutdown Despite the Budget Deal, Democrats Say Government Executive

Four Mistakes that Cost the Election for Alberta’s NDP The Tyee


What Investigators Found In Trump’s Secret Documents The Onion

Trump Indictments Subvert the Legal and Political System Margaret Kimberly, Black Agenda Report

The Rape of Lady Justice Patrick Lawrence, Counterpunch

Trump rejected lawyers’ efforts to avoid classified documents indictment WaPo. Hmm. I’ve always wondered about this exchange from Smith’s indictment:

So “totally wins my case” how, exactly? I can find some aghastitude on Trump’s quote (here, here, here) but not even speculation as to what Trump’s theory of the case might be. Could be puffery, could be “winning the case before the American people.” If there is a there here — not a given! — Trump doesn’t seem to have told his lawyers about it (understandable, given the level of leaking and snitching that goes on).

* * *

What Does The FBI Have On Hunter and Joe Biden? Ryan Grim and Ken Klippenstein, The Intercept. “Dispassionate” analysis of the FD-1023.

Inside the GOP’s Latest Desperate Attempt to Smear Joe Biden Michael Tomasky, The New Republic

Spook Country

US senators and spies spar over Section 702 warrantless surveillance The Register

Paranoid Posting The Baffler. Blobfluencers.


Illinois man charged after shooting himself during a dream, police say NBC


Inside the Preventable Deaths That Happened Within a Prominent Transplant Center ProPublica

Sports Watch

The Denver Nuggets Were Built to Last The Ringer

Zeitgeist Watch

It’s Time to Let the Noisy World Back In Wired

How Noise Can Take Years Off Your Life NYT

Guillotine Watch

Bounced paychecks, frozen 401(k)s — How this promising Fresno tech company ‘disappeared overnight’ LA Times

Ex-Harvard Medical School morgue manager accused of selling body parts Axios

Average American Wages Now Outpace Inflation: A Cause For Pausing Fed Rate Hikes? Benzinga

Class Warfare

Global inequality at lowest level in nearly 150 years Felix Salmon, Axios

Massive strike pits African fishers against ‘superprofitable’ EU firms Guardian (Re Silc).

West Coast Dockworkers and Ports Reach Contract Agreement WSJ

Will Erie Locomotive Plant Workers Strike for the Right to Strike over Grievances? Labor Notes

Artificial intelligence may change labor market but doesn’t need to cause long-term harm FOX. Unless that’s the goal, of course. As it was, with Uber.

Could You Decode a Message From Aliens? Smithsonian

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. JohnA

    Re: West confirms successes of Ukrainian counteroffensive and predicts further progress

    The headline is pure projection. The intro actually reads:
    “Western states estimate [my bold] that since the beginning of the counteroffensive actions, the Ukrainian forces have been able to advance seven kilometres deep into the Russian-occupied territories and liberate at least four villages.”

    Literally nothing coming from Ukrainian sources is credible without independent verification.

      1. Wæsfjord

        If I had to think up a name for a paper that would really instill confidence and put it’s reputation beyond reproach, I would definitely include “Pravda” in the name.

          1. The Infamous Oregon Lawhobbit

            As the old Soviet saying went, “Ni tass Pravda, ni pravda Tass.”

            Not rendered in the original Cyrillic….

    1. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you, John.

      A wave of refugees arrived in Buckinghamshire in mid-May. Another wave is expected this month. Mum is one of the civil servants involved. She played dumb and called Whitehall, saying she was confused as the BBC reported refugees returning home and Max Boot said life was back to normal in Kiev, as mum pronounced it and hoping to be corrected, as he sipped a latte on a sun baked cafe terrace. Whitehall said the war is not going as well as hoped and reported.

      We were in Normandy for Pentecost and, being lifelong socialists and happy to see people do well and enjoy themselves, were delighted to see high end SUVs with Ukrainian number plates and the owners enjoying sea food without a care in the world. As Thatcher said on the steps of Downing Street that Saturday evening when South Georgia was liberated, “Just rejoice at that news.”

      1. Faz

        Yes, I can attest to seeing one up North 2 weeks ago. Had to look twice to confirm the Ukraine 🇺🇦 number plate. I’ve only seen Romanian one before. Almost always the middle and upper middle class that may it out of those places in good enough time for obvious reasons.

    2. ilsm

      reading some of the links here, and moon over alabama reflect two worlds….

      in that sector it appears russian skirmishers, on the high ground, are not calling in hellfire on the ukraine advance…..

      do you suppose the russians want to form a kessel if ukraine exposes itself?

      while some sources, big serge, etc. relate the gains were rolled back.

      ‘trust but verify’

      1. Will

        As I understand it, Russia and Ukraine have traded those villages back and forth for several days now. In the process, Ru is battering them with artillery, drones, etc., but I’d be curious to your sources showing they’re not.

        Also, I think we’re both assuming it’s the Vremivka Salient since the article doesn’t state it.

        Interesting theory that the reason they’re attacking there is to score a PR victory since the salient is only lightly defended and taking it would only get them in contact with the main defensive line.

    3. Speedwar

      Russia is about 9,000 km wide from farwest to fareast.
      7 km per week = 1289 weeks and Russia is Ukraine. This is blitzkrieg 2.0

    1. The Rev Kev

      I would be curious to know the ratio of men to women that will be replaced by an AI in the coming years. I doubt that it would be a straight fifty-fifty split.

      1. hunkerdown

        Karen is an LLM with legs, to put it bluntly. Functionally speaking, the entire managerial priesthood could be replaced by bots in the short term, long enough to find someone else to impersonate the Almighty while reading the stochastic screed. Every single liberal priest think-tankie can be replaced with an LLM today. Not one of their Twitter careers provides evidence to the contrary.

        Symbolically, on the other hand, property ownership needs to be portrayed as desirable if the Western disease is to survive, and petty martinets are a good way to keep “the fear of God” in the army of labor.

        1. Mildred Montana

          >”…the entire managerial priesthood could be replaced by bots in the short term…”

          Except that that will not be allowed to happen. A substantial proportion of PMC jobs could safely be defined as sinecures, given out as rewards for conformity and obedience to those handing them out. They are not real jobs, with clock-punching, productivity measures, clearly stated job descriptions and responsibilities. They are gifts, like the church simony of a few centuries ago, and irrevocable.

          Nobody would dare snatch away these gifts by using AI instead. And what would be the point anyway? It would have nothing to do.

          1. jsn

            The question this leaves, however, is to what extent corporate management is actually aware of what they are functionally doing.

            I suspect most “leadership” still believes the bullshit rhetoric behind the bullshit job.

            Replacing the bullshit job with the AI bullshit generator will allow funds to be appropriated by management, unaware of the stability it was previously purchasing for itself with the sinecure. The chaotic instability that will result from the mass collapse of the sinecures won’t necessarily affect the individuals responsible for it, so until it takes on its own structural form, “management” won’t see the downside.

            1. Mikel

              They won’t see the downside until it comes time to sell over-priced homes, insurance (of all kinds), college loans (that is what is being sold to people more than education), and an assortment of status designating goods and services. AI BS generator is not concerned with its social status. (But can be programmed to imitate the language of status seeking).

              1. djrichard

                If generative AI ever becomes a reality (or the singularity is reached whatever) wouldn’t it be funny if the resulting AI that takes over the world is status seeking. Maybe a measure of status would be how many humans you have in your stable.

            2. semper loquitur

              “I suspect most “leadership” still believes the bullshit rhetoric behind the bullshit job.”

              A friend had a co-worker that was a total drag on the office. She wormed her way into other people’s projects. She talked over others in meetings. She was incompetent at the job she had been hired for.

              She was around for years, maybe three or more, before she was essentially asked to quit. I asked my friend how this could go on for so long and he said it was simple. The woman could talk the business rhetoric like a pro. The boss was totally ensorcelled by it, would look all intent and such when it got turned on so as to demonstrate she got it. It was total BS and cost them countless dollars and man hours.

              1. jsn

                Many similar experiences!

                The bigger the firm, the more common the problem.

                The more abstract the work product the more common the problem. Big firms with abstract products, complete cranial rectal inversion.

              2. Mildred Montana

                “ensorcelled”. Word of the day. Never heard it before. Synonyms: fascinated, enchanted.

                Thank you for expanding my vocabulary—by one word at least. ;)

            3. .Tom

              Graeber’s conclusion in Bullshit Jobs was that the point of corporations was not to do business but rather to soak up as much of the economy as possible, i.e. to grow and control as much stuff as possible. So it really needs to be people doing that BS. How do you threaten an algorithm with unemployment? There’s no control in that.

              1. jsn

                Yes, but who in our “leadership” class actually knows what they are doing?

                How many have read Graeber and grocked it?

                1. .Tom

                  Very few, I guess. But he was describing what they do without knowing why they were doing it.

    2. Mark Gisleson

      Being a retired creative I have no stake in this but everything I know tells me AI will — however dangerous — be in most ‘creative’ regards a complete belly flop.

      Immediate impact: each truly horrible snafu will get headlines (like the attorney who trusted AI to do legal research). News media will not be able to resist probably because they will be very cautious with AI. Publishers will love it but every actual journalist and editor will fight it tooth and claw.

      Unless AI folks pay top writers/editors to review AI content, AI content will be flawed. Late night comedians will make jokes. Some of the jokes will actually happen, fueling more jokes.

      Long tail effect is that every paying user of content will be exposed to AI mistakes, and the writers, researchers and editors competing with AI will have no shortage of guerilla marketing material with which to sell their human services. There will be ZERO competing stories about AI content accomplishing anything. Their goal is to not make mistakes. Creatives thrive on mistakes. AI will never defeat a genuine creative in any kind of challenge.

      In the end I think AI will allow genuinely talented creatives to finally get decent ‘average’ pay (we’re clearly on the superstar system, just like athletes). The more business owners are forced to see how AI doesn’t get it (and this will not be obvious to the owners at first because they’ve NEVER understood creative product), the more they’ll finally figure out which creatives really produce. They’ll try to make new superstars but it should quickly become obvious that most creatives are already ‘superstars,’ just without the pay.

      Sorry to write long but this has been building up for a while. Creating useful written copy is nothing like designing a crosswalk. I suspect that’s obvious to everyone but the C-suiters who got to skip Humanities requirements when business colleges began dumbing themselves down in the ’80s.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        The ones with the dumbed down mbas are the ones at risk. Their training grounds will go first. Chatgpt replaces McKinsey associates.

        1. chris

          Absolutely. A junior McKinsey consultant is a pathetic beast, begging for free resources while trying to look like an old person’s idea of a smart, young, thing. Skinny jeans. Pointy shoes. No ethics. An AI could replace them all in a heartbeat.

      2. Lexx

        If I want to find the ‘creative’ in the room*, I’ll listen for an unexpected word choice and observe if there’s a pattern of unexpected choices, so I know it isn’t a one-off. I’m probably listening to the smartest person in the room being sociable. Even smart creative people have patterns in their behavior and word choices… and AI’s learn. A hyperconnected brain may be more complex but not necessarily beyond prediction. There’s pattern even to intuition. I see a future where AI closes the prediction gap, but I’ll agree that ‘creatives’ will be the most difficult to duplicate and displace.

        *Another clue is the person least interested in the conversations. Probably walked in the room and picked up some reading material. They’re bored (not shy) and marking time for some reason until they can get back to what interests them. It’s usually a solitary activity or within a dedicated few.

        1. jsn

          I expect shortly to see “creativity” go offline. Ted Gioia published this last month about sound engineers exiting the perpetual “update”/”upgrade” climb to maintain control and quality standards.

          A similar migration is proof against the perpetual internet IP scrape at the heart of AI: if you create, don’t do it online.

          1. Jokerstein

            Interesting article, thanks. I notice that he name checks Cormac McCarthy as someone who shuns publicity. He took things a little too far in that direction a couple of days ago, no?

          2. hunkerdown

            It’s common in other engineering to archive copies of all the tooling used to generate the project, to eliminate potential sources of third-party error. When the project needs to be pulled out of mothballs, all that tooling gets reinstalled too. (You get the necessary OS image from IT and their Microsoft Developer Network subscription, if needed.) In the age of digital, audio engineers I’ve known have always been skeptical and careful about fixing what’s broken, never mind what isn’t. At least this amateur, who has lost two gold setups from upgrades gone awry, is like that.

      3. Carla

        @Mark Gisleson — “every actual journalist and editor will fight it tooth and claw”

        With respect, how many actual journalists and editors do you think are left?

        If reading the grey lady, WaPo or my own hometown rag, the Plain Dealer, provide any indication, very, very few. We had a really good journalist at the weekly Cleveland Scene for a few years. He needed to earn a living and so went over to Axios, which is pure crap.

        Newspaper headlines often contain egregious errors now, and from the evidence, very few BOOKS are even proofread or copy edited now. I’m pessimistic that the few working journalists and editors still on the job will be able to police AI.

      4. Mildred Montana

        Mark Gisleson: Thank you for your long, thoughtful comment. This might not address it directly but I am thinking of the recent news about an upcoming “Beatles” release, courtesy AI.

        What will happen to new “creators” if this becomes common? If AI is constantly mining the past, producing “new” and “different” versions of it, and squeezing said creators out, what happens to the future? Will there be one or will we end up being stuck in some sort of Twilight Zone past or facsimile thereof?

        1. Vandemonian

          As I understand it (per Paul), all they used the AI for was to remove the backing music from a recording of John singing. Not much creativity there…

          1. Mark Gisleson

            They’re reengineering a lot of old music right now because people inside the bubble have no clue how much new music there is outside their world.

            But I’m sure AI is harvesting ALL the music.

            [looks at the floor, decides it needs sweeping and decides to laugh loudly while sitting up]

            Sturgeon’s Law still applies and 90% of everything AI harvests will be horse droppings.

            I think about this everytime I check out some new music heavy into “noise.” Most of it’s crap with a layer of sound poured over it. “Good” “noise” is way more complicated but not in ways AI would ever detect (was that just the barest hint of Stravinsky? said no AI ever).

            I’m doubling down on AI initially being popular because the folks responsible for the decidering here are the ones who tried to get through college without reading any literature. AI is going to have to blow up in their faces over and over and over again before they realize they need writers/editors to monitor and once we’re back in the building AI’s going to get short-sheeted and wedgied everytime the boss ain’t looking. [scab #$@!s]

      5. EGrise

        I work for a media conglomerate (in the bowels of the IT department, but still) and the execs announced to the workforce yesterday that they are running a number of pilot programs and “experiments” with AI, ChatGPT specifically.

        They framed it as “automation” but everyone in the reporting/editorial/”creative” part of the business could see where this is headed. Hell, the CEO even made a comparison to the type setters who were thrown out of work by advances in printing technology, and made it clear that they considered the changes inevitable and are “getting out ahead of it.” Mentioned that the company was well known for dealing generously with people who lose jobs to automation with retraining (to do what exactly?) and so forth, meaning they anticipate significant losses.

        They even led off the announcement with a quote from Bill Gates, to the effect that the creation of AI is “as fundamental as the creation of the microprocessor, the personal computer, the Internet, and the mobile phone.” For those of us who consider LLMs little more than autocomplete on steroids, that was a howler.

        With trust in corporate media at all-time lows, replacing humans with BS-bots seems like a bad idea. But what do I know? I don’t have an MBA.

    3. Randall Flagg

      Well, as a member of second class citizens known as blue collar workers/laborers/tradespeople, if the PMC crowds that are going to be outsourced or offshored are looking for sympathy, did you show any to us over the last 40/50 years as the industrial base of this nation was hollowed out in the name of profits? Other than the helpful advice of “learn to code “?
      So my advice back is: Learn to swing a hammer, turn a wrench, read a blueprint, get your electrical or plumbing license, run heavy equipment. Gonna be a while before AI or a robot gets in the trenches. It’ll happen but will be a while. The jobs are plentiful at the moment and for the foreseeable future if this country is serious about upgrading our infrastructure and there are damn good incomes to go with it
      Sympathy? We’re fresh out.
      And as someone remarked below, just for starters there are probably a number of graduate schools that will see their enrollments decline as this upheaval rolls through society. Never mind the add ons.

      1. chris

        I think you’re wrong on the grad school bit.

        I feel confident that when the coding jobs have fled and the low level BS jobs have been hoovered up by AI, those with wealthy parents and the CV to do so will flock to academia. They’ll be in MFAs and MBAs and certificate programs in order to desperately cling to what they believe should be theirs. IMO, that is when the revolution might begin. When all the people who assumed a comfortable life would be theirs are shown it will never be, they’ll revolt.

        I agree with you that someone who complains about people doing real work should try doing physical labor on the night shift. When they’re exhausted and a little broken then maybe I’ll take pity on all those who dismissed the suffering of their countrymen with “learn to code”. But I know that’s a self defeating strategy. It just feels good. If we’re smart we’ll all band together now and take the rights and rewards that have been denied us by the Elites for so long.

    4. Will

      Or our corporate overlords can just agree amongst themselves to hire fewer PMC as baseball is likely to do.

      To be fair, professional sports leagues have an exemption from anti-trust laws so they can openly do this. But with ever more concentrated industries with just a few major players in each, coordination issues are almost trivial and easy to hide. Remember when big tech firms got a slap on the wrist when it was discovered they had agreed not to hire top talent from each other? Like that but even more capitalism.

    5. .Tom

      Let’s not lose sight of fundamentals. There is the real world and the symbolic world. Words are symbols and it’s up to us how much we let them control or influence us. Same with numbers and data in computer memories. None of it is real.

  2. JohnA

    Re Why Blockading Rather Than Retaking Crimea Might Be Kyiv’s Best Option The Moscow Times (via RAND).

    This optimistic about Ukraine capabilities piece concludes with:

    “Ukrainian forces could pin down and neuter the enemy in Crimea while they work to oust it from other parts of their country.”

    The question is what Ukrainian forces? They are being wiped out by being thrown into meat grinders and hopeless counteroffensive charges, as though commanded by Douglas Haig. What passes for analysis in the US is remarkably naive, to say the least.

    1. OnceWere

      I’ve seen this a lot lately amongst Ukrainian supporters – reaching the Azov Sea and knocking down the Kerch Bridge is portrayed as some kind of cheat code that automatically wins the war. Making Crimea “untenable” is supposed to force Russia just to give up and slink away in shame. If it were really so easy to make an impenetrable blockade with nothing but drones and long-range fire then neither side would actually have to fight. They could just cut off sectors of the front from resupply and move in when the defenders had nothing left to eat.

  3. The Rev Kev

    “A Drawn-Out Ukraine War Should Not Change U.S. Strategy Foreign Policy”

    Joe Biden’s 2024 Presidential Re-election Campaign Committee begs to differ. Having the Republicans accuse Biden as being responsible for “losing” Afghanistan next year will be bad enough. But to be the one to also “lose” the Ukraine in an election year is something that neither he or the Democrats can afford to risk. Better to lose it this year and then to have the media memory-hole it like they have with Afghanistan and distract people instead with Taiwan instead. So prepare to hear Rachel Maddow start ranting about China!China!China! in the coming months.

    1. ambrit

      I beg to differ here.
      The anti-Russia Neo-cons are a very “committed” group in the halls of power in Foggy Bottom. They are presently “in the driver’s seat” and forging full speed ahead in their project to dismantle and loot Russia. I fear that they will either be forced from power soon or drag us all down to Perdition, where, traditionally speaking, it is very, very hot. [Don’t forget that thermonuclear explosions are an example of very fast climate warming.]
      Stay safe, keep your eyes open.

      1. The Rev Kev

        They had better hurry in dismantling Russia then. I believe that General Mark Milley retires in a few months as US Chief of Staff and the guy that replaces him – General Charles “CQ” Brown Jr. – is an absolute “China hawk” and will not want to see any more military gear wasted in the Ukraine when Taiwan beckons. So it’s Russia hawks versus China hawks – with a US Presidential election looming. Fun times!

      2. Kilgore Trout

        OTOH, in the aftermath of a nuclear war, we get nuclear winter. Biden ’24 campaign slogan: “Nuclear winter fixes global warming”.

        1. Richard

          A nuclear war involving Russia, Europe, and the US also takes care of white privilege.

      3. Judith

        Seymour Hersh has a new substack piece today the is primarily about the Karaganov RT piece. But at the beginning of the piece he mentions this bit of news:

        I was planning to write this week about the expanding war in Ukraine and the danger it poses for the Biden Administration. I had a lot to say. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman has resigned, and her last day in office is June 30. Her departure has triggered near panic inside the State Department about the person many there fear will be chosen to replace her: Victoria Nuland. Nuland’s hawkishness on Russia and antipathy for Vladimir Putin fits perfectly with the views of President Biden. Nuland is now the undersecretary for political affairs and has been described as “running amok,” in the words of a person with direct knowledge of the situation, among the various bureaus of the State Department while Secretary of State Antony Blinken is on the road. If Sherman has a view about her potential successor, and she must, she’s unlikely ever to share it.

        1. ambrit

          Oh Heaven help us. Such an appointment would be just like Hindenberg appointing that former WW-1 corporal, you know him, the loquacious one with the Iron Cross, both 1st and 2nd class, as Chancellor.
          This takes the “Scantifying the Banderites” policy to a new level.

          1. Cetra Ess

            I think appointing Nuland would be heaven helping us. I consider her to be purely ideologically driven with the result that she is also highly incompetent, in the very same way the former WW-1 corporal tended to overule his experienced generals, created an environment not at all conducive to questioning and therefore thinking, with predictable results. I think the sooner we get to the predictable results, the inevitable consequences, the better for the world, assuming we get there while avoiding WW-3. However, especially if we don’t avoid a WW-3 Nuland is EXACTLY the person you want in power.

            1. ambrit

              The problem here is that, just as the Corporal enacted a literally genocidal policy in his nation, the Nuland, once she sees that her Russia policy is failing will “go large” and enact another similar genocidal policy. When the Corporal failed, he decided to take the Nation down with him. Can we expect any less from the Nuland?
              The real problem is that, when the Corporal failed, he took down a nation or two. When the Nuland fails, she will take the World down with her. Egos can be that large.

        2. Susan the other

          My reading of Karaganov was positive. He cut thru all the gaslight from both sides and stated the best option – that the sinking West and the rising East stop fighting over “Ukraine” before it actually becomes the logical and best option to go nuclear. If both sides are entrenched in their precious but conflicting economic paradigms they will inevitably blow themselves up. So why not just settle the conflict with an agreement not to interfere in each others business. It really sounded to me like Russia was saying, OK, we will leave Europe to The West, we’d rather align with China and the emerging East anyway – but you, NATO, must agree not to interfere with us, not to create insurrections around the world just to re-establish neoliberal colonialism. He was really telling us that we are now the ones that must be contained. A new mutual policy of Co-containment. I imagine something like a political blood-brain barrier between our two economic systems, but I think that means the planet will literally be divided up.

          1. pretzelattack

            but one side is not interested in non interference. I don’t think this is a battle of conflicting economic paradigms, I think Russia and China are well aware they are targets whatever they do, short of just turning their countries over to the US.

    2. Ignacio

      The punditocracy keeps well entrenched in their positions and committing the same mistakes. What strikes me about this is to check how these people don’t give a damn on Ukraine: the perfect “tool” for our objectives in their view. Shameless stuff.

  4. OnceWere

    “The dollar is being used even more for international payments than it has the last few years.”

    Now I couldn’t tell you if losing payment share in SWIFT is symptomatic of a significant practical economic downside – but the increase in US dollar share is coming from an utter savaging of the Euro share in the last six months. More to add to the “being America’s enemy is dangerous, being their friend is fatal” file perhaps ?

    1. panurge

      The payment share chart (the left one) linked byMatt Williams (here) could be titled “Ukraine War is working”.

      1. cfraenkel

        The text below the chart is amusing. “The euro and U.S. dollar together made up more than seven out of 10 SWIFT payments worldwide in January 2023, outperforming many other currencies.” Perhaps ‘outperforming’ means ‘in a steep nose-dive’ in their world? The color choice of bright blue for the US and black for the Euro lets the eye focus on the steep rise in the US$, and ignore the steep fall in the combined pair. Makes you think the lowly author was told “make it look like we’re still winning” and did as instructed, but in a way to make the Potemkin facade obvious.

        Here’s the chart link extracted from behind the paywall:

        1. Kouros

          So this means they didn’t include the payments through Russia, China, and other systems out there, not conducted in USD? Maybe this is another reason the increase in the usage of the USD. One must have the proper denominator…

    2. R.S.

      > payment share in SWIFT

      And what’s happening outside of SWIFT? I guess we just don’t have any stats at all, right?

      1. ChrisFromGA

        Great catch, I noticed the same thing.

        If the share of trade inside SWIFT is shrinking (cough, China) then that would be the real story. We need a metric on that from a reliable source, not Statista.

        1. Yves Smith

          I suggest you read more carefully and not mislead readers. Statista is a very reliable source. Your issue seems to be with Matt Williams.

          1. ChrisFromGA

            That was sloppy on my part. Statista seems to be a German tech tool for building charts.
            I do take issue with Williams, because now that I read the entire tweet, his first commenter called out the issue with assuming SWIFT = the entire trade universe, and he then responded with an obvious non-reply reminiscent of this scene:


    3. Jorge

      The Statista chart is very interesting- the most important parts are
      * The Dollar eating the Euro’s share, but together declining, and
      * JPY slowly rising to 5%.

      Is this why we are now hearing about how Japan has finally dug its way out of the 30 Years’ Depression?

      Japan is uniquely placed to prosper from the China/USA/Russia economic rearrangements.

      Warren Buffett bought into the big 5 Japanese trading companies a few years ago. They are the premiere coordinators of this Asian import/export trade.

      1. Acacia

        USDJPY is currently approaching 142, with the yen weakening against the dollar as the Fed signals it will hike another 50 bps by the end of the year, while the BoJ remains dovish. If UJ passes 150, we can expect another BoJ intervention.

        This may be good for FX traders betting against the yen, but how does it help small to medium-sized Japanese companies or the average Saito-san, all of whom are now facing price increases for everything?

        Bear in mind also, that Japan continues to align itself with Western foreign policy and, unlike South Korea, has refused to pay Russia in roubles for energy. Japan is heavily reliant on LNG, though most of it comes from Australia and Malaysia, with only 9% that was coming from Russia. It’s still a loss, though, and the ruling LDP has warned citizens that they must expect price increases for basic energy.

        When Zelenskyy spoke in the Japanese Diet via Zoom, there was apparently a signal to the representatives every time they were supposed to clap (which they did). A Japanese friend commented: “Isn’t that like what you’d expect in the DPRK?” So, at least economically, Japan appears keen to follow the EU, self-immolating in the name of “freedom”.

        This may be good for a few big trading companies, but it’s hard for me to see how Japan as a whole will “prosper”; of course, I’m open to other viewpoints on this.

        1. SocalJimObjects

          One argument is that the weak Yen has made it cheaper for tourists to visit Japan, according to this article,, inbound tourism to Japan has recovered to about 60% of prepandemic levels. Spending from tourists will definitely help small and medium sized companies, I would think.

          I was just in Japan at the end of March 2023 for their world famous sakura season, and one thing I did notice was the abundance of Help Wanted posters in Tokyo. The Yen then was around the 130 level and everywhere I went, there were tourists aplenty so my thinking is that small businesses like restaurants, etc are probably doing alright.

          I am planning to go again later this year, this time for 2 months, so pardon me for being selfish, but I certainly am hoping that the Yen will remain weak against the USD.

          1. Acacia

            Yes, I am here and can attest to a huge surge in foreign tourists (mostly unmasked) visiting Japan, since all travel restrictions were lifted. Compared to the US, prices in Japan aren’t bad. Good quality food is easy to find, etc.

            Yet, while it might appear otherwise to a visitor, the bulk of businesses here are not involved in the tourism economy and won’t benefit. More specifically, Statista reports that travel and tourism pre-COVID-19 only accounts for about 2% of Japan’s total GDP, and 99% of that is spending by Japanese traveling within Japan. Similarly, the much-vaunted Tokyo Olympics only added a very small boost to GDP.

            So, I don’t see this as any support for the broader claims, above.

  5. christofay

    I know it will be trouble when Hillary appears in Taiwan. Luckily there is no son to fill the grifter role.

      1. christofay

        That was a locus for the grift. While Hillary was Sec of State and Greece was going through the debt troubles Mr. Chelsea Clinton ran a hedge fund trading in Greek debt. I just feel sure with State dept help. No matter he ran the fund into the ground.

        1. hunkerdown

          Statecraft is a grift, but not just a grift. Mezvinsky served the Order of Capital duly by enforcing Civilized Values on those barbarians. Many, many counterintuitive actions are, one, the rational management of capital, and two, set pieces against which for the lower orders to signal their entrepreneurial virtue.

          I hesitate to recommend readings due to my own apparent classification struggles :) but the special section in Sociological Research Online‘s summer 2018 issue critiqued the “character education movement” in the UK and, among other things, traced out the networks and the US “philanthropic” influence behind it. Those interested in how societies are deliberately crafted by special interests should consider finding a copy.

      1. christofay

        But it was one of the Pelosi sons who accompanied her to Taiwan. Unfortunately the Taiwanese are smart enough to know that this is the deal, “oh, this is this male is the conduit.”

    1. ambrit

      Yeah, but Chelsea’s Dad has other children. A bastard lineage is viable in dynastic politics. Although, if Hubble is really Chelsea’s dad, then she has half siblings. They would count in a “it takes a village” manner.
      Take my word for it, neither the Chinese nor the Russians would want anything “unfortunate” to happen to the Evil Dowager Empress. They do not want to create an American PMC Martyr.

  6. digi_owl

    Bit early for Halloween.

    And whenever i read about low unemployment these days, i remind myself of the stringent requirements for getting counted as unemployed. Thus it is quite possible that here are a large number of people not working that is not part of the official unemployment figure.

    1. ambrit

      Too true. We seldom hear about the labour participation rate lately. [Would AI be counted as “workees?”]

      1. Kurtismayfield

        The 25-54 participation rate is very high, and approaching all time highs.

        It’s the rest of the workforce that is lower. That can be age discrimination and the extension of teenagehood into graduate programs.

    2. pretzelattack

      During covid, it took me literally 3 months to finally get in touch with a human at the unemployment commission to complain my password was not working. I couldn’t apply for benefits, or even access my account.

  7. Steve H.

    > The Denver Nuggets Were Built to Last The Ringer

    >> “After everything we’ve been through as a team, knowing we could’ve been here before if we were healthy—it’s just real sweet to see it through,” Murray said.

    After winning the last game of the season, Jokic said ‘we learned how to play defense.’

    Murray is subject to Rosy Retrospection, a cognitive bias that things were better than they were. Jokic was right, the Nuggets went from a gunsablazin outscore-you team to champions by receiving a Direct Transmission from the Miami Heat about defense. You could see it happen.

    Even after all these years, they didn’t really trust each other until it was forged in the crucible. What caught me in the article was “the fourth-longest-tenured head coach in the league” after three no-doubt Hall-of-Famers. They kept him through two years of no playoffs, they kept Murray through two years of serious injury.

    Janet and I bought a house on contract, and during a rough patch Melva told us, ‘You don’t have to pay me until you can.’ That gave us a level of stability that opened conceptual frameworks that simply didn’t exist before then. I think about that a lot.

    1. griffen

      I think their example and finally a successful playoff run to a championship speaks volumes on how building a winner does not just happen with a few phone calls and weird introductory conferences. For a recent glaring example from the NBA, I hand you the Brooklyn Nets. Combining dominant talents who also may exhibit mercurial tendencies as highly paid athletes is a path to ruin, in my humble opinion. Culture happens and is cultivated over a period of time.

      It’s good to see as well, younger talent getting this limelight as the current cast of NBA “elders” like James, Paul, Curry and Durant might have had their best years in their past as compared to their future. Jokic is a beast! I have to wonder if watching Wilt Chamberlain in his prime would have been comparable.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Jokic is the best player and plays the most important position who can hit free throws (hence no hackashaq). With Murray, they can’t play keep away.

        Only a really talented team with bodies can challenge them. The only real way is to try to rattle Jokic like Russell rattled Wilt. Big guys aren’t necessarily use to rough and tumble because they are just so big. Bodies are needed to make it work. If Love was a bit younger, the Heat might have had enough minutes to do it, but they only really seemed to rattle in Jokic in game 2. The Heat looked gassed afterwards.

    2. Mark Gisleson

      Everybody involved in sports is in it for the long term. It’s the billionaire owners who keep blowing up the teams because the art of the deal is more important than actual wins and losses. They don’t understand loyalty, experience or chemistry: they’ve seen the stats and know with certainty they can make the team better by swapping parts with the competition.

      Capitalism has ruined sports but at least the NBA is catching on. The tortuous system of games on cable, NBA TV or ESPN are coming to an end. Teams are going back to local TV and internet streaming next season. The twisty monopolistic strategy of forcing fans to buy HUGE cable packages are over. The League finally noticed they’re losing fans and that cable tv has been turning them into a minor sport like hockey.

      1. Mikel

        “The twisty monopolistic strategy of forcing fans to buy HUGE cable packages are over.”
        Don’t disregard the greed of the streaming services and not only the same conglomerates that owned cable TV networks, who now have streaming services.
        Other “twisty monopolistic strategies” or other price increasing strategies are in the works.

        I think a main thing keeping the internet streaming services a bit cheaper is other options like cable and satellite being available.

  8. DJG, Reality Czar

    Cornel West explains how he’d diagnose the problem (empires) and produce a resolution (negotiations) in Ukraine. So he isn’t a knee-jerk anti-Russian (note his reference, rather quick, to U.S. gangsters).

    His view of the Ukraine situation is roughly comparable to that of RFKJr. He just takes longer to say so. He always takes longer to say so, which is part of the care and power of his thinking.

    I think that Medea Benjamin may have led the way. RFKJr and West are in her wake.

    Trump is a peace candidate (!) and First Amendment martyr (31 counts under the Espionage Act) (!!).

    Who’da thunk it?

    1. hunkerdown

      Now this is Democracy Now!, and what was said yesterday about milieu is true, but Br. West might also be seen as a danseur in the pirouette to China that the egg-faced think tankie class is so transparently gagging for.

  9. Alice X

    Jake Johnson at Common Dreams

    Naomi Klein Rebukes ‘Counterfeit Populism’ of Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

    “Progressive populists make tangible economic offers: tax the rich and give poor and working-class people more money and supports,” Klein wrote. “Kennedy is not actually proposing any of this.”

    Greenwald interviewed RFK Jr the other night, available on Rumble.

    Then there is Cornell West seeking the Green Party nomination. He proposes dismantling the Empire. Is he looking for an endorsement from the Blob?

    1. Socal Rhino

      I think the use of “populism” is pretty much exclusive to DNC and RNC types as a term of derision. I haven’t seen Kennedy refer to himself as populist, has anyone else?

      Maybe they should refer to him as the guy who polled 1% behind Biden in the most recent Rasmussen poll. Yes, it’s Rasmussen but still.

  10. griffen

    Inside the latest GOP attempt to smear Joe Biden. I made as far into this but after a few paragraphs would be losing my breakfast if I try to finish. There is nothing to see dear citizen and how dare any sitting Congressional opponent of the Democrat President support such finagling of actual, or purported, allegations. Lies and malarkey ! It’s like the laptop story about dear Hunter.

    Yes…and Hillary Clinton once had a bright career path in trading cattle futures. Chelsea Clinton had a bright future as a journalist for NBC. Puhleeze, so many of these career politicians have form.

  11. The Rev Kev

    “Another 33 Political Scientists Ask NCERT to Remove Their Names From Textbooks”

    ‘These are the textbooks from which evolution and the periodic table were removed.’

    Couldn’t work out why the removal of the Periodic Table which is one of the foundations of science. Apparently, according to this article, it is to ease off the work load of students because of Covid-

    With decisions like this, I do not think that the Chinese next door will be so worried about future competition from India in sciences.

      1. Xquacy

        It had nothing to do with Mendeleev being Russian (assuming you are not being facetious). The Englishman Darwin’s theory of evolution was eliminated also.

        Most of the references to the Timurid Empire (known as the Mughal Empire in India) was taken out as well, to make way for sweeping revisionism of medieval history. This is a sticky point for the BJP (Modi’s party), and the proto-fascist organization it supports (RSS) who have capitalized politically by forceful and often violent subjugation of India’s Muslim population.

        I have often heard it said on this blog that India stands to be a big player with shifts in power towards Eurasia. It’s hard to understand where this idea comes from, which so far remains a feature of commentary coming exclusively from the West. You can’t be cynical enough when looking from inside. I agree with Rev Kev’s comment above with slight modification. Apart from population, China has little contest from its southern neighbor.

      2. hunkerdown

        RTFA > tendentiousness. Periodicity was moved to grade 11 in an attempt to reduce the content load post-COVID. Some people in science education have a pedagogical problem with that, and I can’t really speak to that one way or the other, except to note that “education” is the business of instilling forms, not facts, and that the quality and direction of scientific thinking could change due to the transposition.

        The perception of such a need to drive the rearrangement of science instruction is pretty interesting in itself. I imagine deciders could be thinking of the needs of no-contact instruction going forward as a neoliberal technological “savings”, or they could be tacitly managing the cognitive sequelae of COVID.

  12. marym

    > “totally wins my case”

    The case Trump was trying to make in the preceding part of the transcript was that it was the military proposing an attack on [country A], not Trump. The anti-Trump aghastitude is based on the assumption that his remarks undermine his case (quoted from a Fox interview in the first “here” link) that taking government docs and shipping them to his residence meant they were de facto declassified; and also that the document apparently was at Bedminster.

  13. Colonel Smithers

    Thank you, Lambert.

    Hot off the press (from my UK government official mum): A Ukrainian family, with a town house in Chelsea and country retreat near Wycombe (Buckinghamshire), has applied, hence the disclosures, to bring two nephews who will be of military service age in the next 2 and 3 years to the UK permanently.

    It has long been rumoured, but now appears to be true, that the Ukrainian elite and its hangers on are able to avoid the fighting.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Thank you Colonel. Just a few hours ago I stumbled across a video and I immediately thought that it might be one that you might be interested in. It talks about how after WW2 the UK government brought in 8,000 Ukrainian SS veterans with hardly any screening. Not all of them went to Canada and I do wonder how many of them managed to infiltrate British society the past 78 years which explains their present influence. Anyway, here is that video and the guy that presents it runs a history channel- (14:39 mins)

      1. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you, Rev.

        I’m glad that you have brought this up.

        When auditing the Ukraine related social services efforts around the turn of the year, including money unaccounted for and due diligence on host families / hosts not conducted, mum noticed how many of the central and local government volunteers, as opposed to those like her dragooned into helping out, are of Polish, Balt and Ukrainian origin. Mum did not write in her report, but made a comment not for minuting that this may be understandable, but is not appropriate and may have contributed to the lack of oversight and not following the correct processes.

        The late mother of my best friend and grandmother to two of my godchildren came to London about then. Her sisters stayed in Vienna. I often wonder.

    2. Wæsfjord

      Not just the elite, but anyone who can get their hands on $7,000, about a year’s wages, which is the going rate to get a deferement. It was mentioned in a France24 video that appeared in the links recently.

      1. ambrit

        Could this be driving some of the “diversion” of ‘donated’ military equipment onto the Black Market? Sell a few Stingers or Javelins to “independent contractors” and amass enough to buy your way out of the Army. Hmmm…. I sense a business model….

    3. JohnA

      Re avoiding the fighting. Much of the footage of men being pressganged and dragged off the street, out of cars, clubs, and similar places, comes from areas that are traditionally either ethnically Russian, Hungarian, Romanian etc. Likely as part of ethnic cleansing of those parts. Kiev certainly does not appear to be a target for the military recruiters, at least not if the footage from packed night clubs there is an accurate reflection of any anxiety about being nabbed for military service.

  14. The Rev Kev

    “US welcomes decision by Canada, Netherlands to take Syria to ICJ over torture allegations”

    Yeah, I bet they did. Just another example of lawfare, or should I say proxy lawfare. They get Trudeau to squawk and the Netherlands will offer a fair trial in The Hague. I am sure that Assad is packing his toothbrush right now to go there as he will be totally assured of a fair trial for the criminal offense of not letting his country be overrun by western-backed Jihadists.

    Funny thing is that Wikipedia says that the ICJ’s purpose is that ‘It settles disputes between states in accordance with international law and gives advisory opinions on international legal issues.’ Have they got the right court? I also found out that ‘Article 31 of the statute sets out a procedure whereby ad hoc judges sit on contentious cases before the court.’ so would that mean a US judge appointed by Biden by any chance?

    The torture allegations are a bit rich. Do they use torture in Syria? Yes they do. And how do I know that? Because in the early days after 9/11 when the US wanted people tortured for information, they sent them to Syria to do it for them. Outsourcing I suppose that you could call it. But then that was one industry that Bush & Cheney repatriated back home.

    1. Will

      I was going to say purely performative because the ICJ has no jurisdiction. As in its like arbitration where the ICJ can only hear cases if both sides agree to appear before it. You can’t take the other side to the ICJ and force them to defend themselves.

      The article doesn’t say, but I assume this is all just to get an advisory opinion, which the ICJ can also give. But not sure the point since I don’t think the other side even has to participate much less commit to abide by that opinion. So, at best, all this ends with the ICJ wagging it’s finger at Syria since there’s no ICJ Marshals Service to carry out orders of the court. Purely performative.

      But, and this is tin foil hat time, is this a fig leaf for Captain America to “reluctantly” do its thing? If so, seems weird. The first time the ICJ has been used like this? If true, interesting that the usual covers for American militarism are not available.

    2. jrkrideau

      “US welcomes decision by Canada, Netherlands to take Syria to ICJ over torture allegations”

      I hope they are including the USA. Syria was just a sub-contractor in the Maher Arar case.

    3. spud

      it was bill clinton that made torture a official government policy.

      “Extraordinary rendition” is when shady government operatives stuff a bag over your head and fly you off to some foreign country where they can legally torture you. It sounds like something Alex Jones might dream up in a paranoid frenzy, but it’s a well-documented phenomenon under both Bush, Jr. and Obama—and Bill Clinton was the guy who started it all.

      Clinton and Gore signed off on the first rendition back in the ’90s, despite being aware that it breached international law. Until recently, rendered people frequently wound up in the prison cells of places like Mubarak’s Egypt or Gaddafi’s Libya, where they were tortured with electric shocks, rape, beatings, and even crucifixion. It can sometimes go hideously wrong: In 2003, the CIA snatched a terrorist off the streets and beat, tortured, and sodomized him, only to discover they’d accidentally grabbed the wrong man. The victim just happened to share a name with a wanted criminal. His suffering came care of the Clinton/Gore dream team.”

      and Assad will have nothing to worry about, he will be treated as well as milosovic was/SARC!

    4. Roland

      Canada was, and probably still is, active in the “rendition” programme. We actually got caught, in the Maher Arar case, in abducting and deporting a Canadian citizen, with the full advance knowledge that he would get tortured in Syria.

      Arar had some friends who knew people, and who could afford to hire good lawyers. But how many others have been disappeared by the Canadian secret police (CSIS), we’ll probably never know.

      Canadian Forces in Afghanistan handed over the prisoners they took to Afghan or US forces to be tortured. General Hillier, the Chief of Defense Staff at the time, openly admitted this in his memoirs.

      Until Canadians get put on trial, the international tribunals are a joke.

      1. spud

        roland agreed. to blame bush is partially correct. but the ones who made it legal in the west and set this up, was bill clinton and albert gore.

        the carters/reagan/thatcher types were bad. but the most evil fascists types were clinton/blair, as well as other creatures that got a hold of the left type of parties. far far more damage done by them, and as we see today, they are very dangerous.

  15. Mark Gisleson

    Watching Matt Gaetz interviewed and he points out that by mentioning Hillary Clinton in the Trump indictment, the door is now open for Trump’s lawyers to depose HRC on how she handled documents.

    This sounds like Biden’s team throwing Hillary Clinton under the bus which, if true, is a brilliant strategy. Once you started deposing HRC she and Trump — not Biden — would be the lead story every day.

    1. begob

      In her deposition Clinton names Biden, which allows Trump to depose the president, who claims a privilege that allows him to decline: case dismissed.

    2. rusell1200

      I did a search on the pdf of the indictment, and I am not seeing a “Clinton” reference.

      Do you know the specifics of what he is taking about?

      1. Mark Gisleson

        Sorry, I was too busy watching his eyebrows to do more than catch the general drift.

  16. eg

    Where the rapid decline in Covid booster efficacy is concerned, where are my nasal vaccines?

    1. ambrit

      As we used to say on the job: “If it was up your nose you’d know where it was.” {Original version uses a different Terran human orifice.}

  17. LawnDart

    Re; Sergey Karaganov: By using its nuclear weapons, Russia could save humanity from a global catastrophe

    Coming from a former Putin/Yeltsin Presidential Advisor, it’s a very well-written piece, and the logic is sound– I don’t disagree with him: in order to prevent Armagedon, someone needs to be nuked, and this in order to serve as an example, to restore the fear of these weapons and to restore peace.

    In no way is he suggesting all-out nuclear war. As a student on nuclear doctrine, he is aware of the utility of a few “demonstration-strikes,” or, if need be, “decapitation-strikes.” A few million dead in order to save billions of lives? As Madam Albright might say, “some of us feel that the price is worth it.”

    Perhaps the best way to achieve this would to smuggle a few nuclear weapons into carefully targets, detonate these, but to not claim responsibility for the attack, ala Nordstream– let the nuclear powers point their fingers at one-another and play the blame-game.

    I have spent many years studying the history of nuclear strategy and have come to an unequivocal, if unscientific, conclusion. The advent of nuclear weapons is the result of the intervention of the Almighty, who, appalled that mankind had unleashed two world wars within a generation, costing tens of millions of lives, gave us the weapons of Armageddon to show those who had lost their fear of hell that it existed. On that fear rested the relative peace of the last three-quarters of a century.

    1. The Rev Kev

      I don’t think that Putin would ever allow it and would seek different solutions. Consider. In the past fifteen months Russia, through how it has waged this war, has gotten nearly the entire Global Majority of countries to back the Russian Federation. And you can see the results around the world as countries abandon the Collective West and to look towards the Eurasian mainland for their future. A minor example of this support was on show for Russia Day a coupla days ago when Dubais’s tallest tower was lit up in the red, white and blue of the Russian flag-

      If Russia used a nuke, all that support would evaporate overnight and it would be Russia totally isolated and not the West. China would have to disassociate themselves from Russia too. Putin is not stupid and will know this. So what else might he do? He might shut down the Ukrainian electrical grid altogether. He could shut down all internet, mobile networks and telecommunications for the country as well. He could wreck all the trains, train stations and railway lines. He could blow all the major bridges. So Russia is not short of alternate solutions here.

      1. BillS

        I don’t think Putin would sanction it either. My feeling (hope) is that this is a bit of маскировка designed to intensify the bureaucratic slugging match going on presently in Washington. Up to now, the Russians seem to have been remarkably restrained. I can’t help but think that the Kremlin is trying to set up the USA for a Soviet style collapse – returning the favor, so to speak – upping the economic and military pressure until something breaks.

      2. Lex

        This is true. It is a little ominous that Putin recently complained about MAD not having any effect on some people anymore and that nuclear war isn’t the deterrent it used to be. Which is, of course, insane but he has a point. US leadership is remarkably casual when it comes to the top rungs of the escalation ladder or how the rungs below the top lead directly to those top rungs.

        1. ambrit

          I think that the most accurate way to put this is that today’s American Elites are plain old stupid.
          Isn’t such a reduction in intellect and ability a hallmark of a declining Ruling Class in general?

      3. tevhatch

        We should help with a short list: Wall Street, Threadneedle St (London), The Hague, Brussels.

        On the other hand, just one of those would make life better, and all four would create a dance storm around the world, so it could be counter-productive if the idea is to make nuclear arms use repugnant.

      4. spud

        gee, maybe this article is magical thinking:)

        Xi Jinping’s new world order is collapsing before our eyes

        Matthew Henderson
        Thu, June 15, 2023, 2:00 AM CDT·5 min read


        “China rapidly globalised its economic influence by exploiting the West’s illusion that, once admitted to the World Trade Organisation (WTO), it would engage in trade according to WTO rules and norms. But from the outset it denied foreign businesses free and fair access to its domestic market and used massive state subsidies to capture market dominance for its own products and systems across the world.”

        or this one:)

        Putin is retreating into dangerous fantasies.

        The Telegraph
        Putin is retreating into dangerous fantasies
        Con Coughlin
        Thu, June 15, 2023, 12:00 AM CDT
        Russian President Vladimir Putin makes a statement after the meeting with participants of the Eurasian Intergovernmental Council and the Council of CIS Heads of Government meeting, in Sochi, Russia
        Russian President Vladimir Putin makes a statement after the meeting with participants of the Eurasian Intergovernmental Council and the Council of CIS Heads of Government meeting, in Sochi, Russia

        The longer the war continues in Ukraine, the more Russian President Vladimir Putin appears to be losing touch with reality…

    2. Acacia

      Agree with Rev Kev, above. For the Russians to join the same club with Curtis LeMay would be pretty bad optics.

      1. ambrit

        “Bomb them back to the Flint Age?” (A little Lower Peninsula humour there. “Danger! Teflon-ey when wet!”)

    3. Cetra Ess

      The piece puzzles me. Why doesn’t the author consider MOAB/FOAB weapons? What problem does nuclear solve that equivalent or near-equivalent non-nuclear weapons can’t solve?

      1. tevhatch

        Maybe a MOAB/FOAB with a 30 ton coating of PFOS fine power would get close to the same issues as DU use?

      2. cfraenkel

        What are you trying to ‘solve’? You’re falling for the fallacy of thinking about nuclear weapons as ‘just a very big pile of TNT’. “equivalent”??? really?

        The problem to be ‘solved’ isn’t how do destroy xyz hardened bunker or ammo dump or navy base (…. or whatever). As the original author takes pains to argue, the problem to be ‘solved’ is that the amorphous leadership in the West is no longer afraid of the risks of escalation.

        He explicitly put it as (to paraphrase) ‘we have to put the fear of God back into them’.

        Bigger, badder conventional munitions won’t do that, the expectation of the mid-west covered by radioactive fallout might.

        As they say on the internet – don’t feed the trolls. Reconsider the wisdom of thinking about the issue using the language Washington uses to obfuscate the issues.

        1. Cetra Ess

          I don’t think you’re understanding what I’m asking.

          If the goal is to “hit a group of targets in a number of countries to bring those who have lost their senses back to their senses” what does nuclear offer that MOAB/FOAB does not? If your goal is to decimate a few cities here and there, kill a few milliion or six….or thirty, to make a (very debatable) point you think you’ll be making, will you not be able to make the same point with MOAB/FOAB? Or why not chemical weapons, VX perhaps?

          Indeed, launching of ICBM’s will trigger an automatic counter-response, will take out your cities as well (which the author considers when he urges Russians to head for the hills in advance), whereas MOAB/FOAB won’t – not automatically anyway.

          The author is not at all logical, isn’t weighing or considering options, and isn’t trying to solve a rational problem, seems to be bloviating and a bit…not in possession of the plot.

          1. pretzelattack

            it offers a greater imminent threat. the only way to escalate is full nuclear war. I don’t agree with it btw.

  18. Mikel

    A few of us on NC made some quips weeks ago about the price of Beyonce tickets.
    Sweden isn’t laughing or making jokes.
    Beyoncé blamed for keeping inflation high in Sweden. Is Springsteen next?

    “The chief economist at Danske Bank, the biggest bank in neighboring Denmark, said Wednesday that the singer’s decision to kick off her “Renaissance” world tour in Stockholm last month led to a surge in hotel and restaurant prices in the area as tens of thousands of fans descended on the city…”

    “….Some of Beyoncé’s US fans told BuzzFeed News in February that they had snapped up tickets for the singer’s Swedish concerts at a huge discount to her US shows.

    Grahn noted that “there are a limited number of hotels and accommodation in the Stockholm area,” adding that hotels as far away as 50 kilometers (31 miles) from the capital put up their prices as a result.

    Still, he expects the Beyoncé effect to be short-lived, with hotel prices likely to fall over June.

    Bruce Springsteen is due to play three shows in the Swedish city of Gothenburg later this month, which could put an upward pressure on prices, Grahn said, but that’s not as likely.

    “What we saw with Beyoncé was a little bit special.”

    1. JohnA

      Beyonce only played 1 night in Stockholm. At the football stadium in early May. Could well have been chilly.

      1. Pat

        I haven’t. But I’m betting that the acorn didn’t fall from the tree and I’m going to enjoy finding out about him.

        1. JohnA

          Her son is a columnist for the Daily Mail, and fits the exact profile of a Daily Mail columnist.

      1. rowlf

        I really liked her in Hopscotch (1980). The back and forth with Walter Matthau was like a good fencing match.

    1. britzklieg

      Many of the elders I admired in my youth are dying now, which places time itself into a new framework, as mine diminishes, signposts for a personal history filling my head with a poignant emotion that reminds of just how human and puny I am.

      I first saw Brook’s Marat/Sade at the impressionable age of 11. Glenda Jackson’s impression was indelible.


    2. Jorge

      If any North American is looking for a good Glenda Jackson movie, “Nasty Habits” is great. It’s a Watergate parody set in a Philadelphia convent in the late 1970s. It’s a hoot! Note: this is different from the many other movies also titled “Nasty Habits”. Good luck finding it; we pulled an illegal copy for my Zoom film gang months ago.

  19. semper loquitur

    Re: WIRED for sound

    I smell a weasel here, methinks. The headline indiscriminately exhorts us to “to let the noise back in”. The author then shares a personal tale of what sounds like a rather fragile personality that grew ever more brittle after the constraints of the lockdown. Now it’s time for this caterpillar to burst from it’s sound proof cocoon and fly! You should do this to! No more remote working, no more ducking the world, you have no right to peace and quiet….back to work.

    The article is a kind of sabot round for your mind. The outer shell aligns the projectile with the target with a story of personal struggle and nascent victory. Get that tech out of your ears and plug back into the world, baby! The slug inside, of depleted neoliberal dogma, is delivered to your mind and punches deep into soul. It ping-pongs back and forth, wreaking damage on your sense of self worth in favor of laboring for others.

    Fu(k anyone who tells you you need less silence. Their problems are their own. We are saturated with media and intrusive data collection all day long. Silence is becoming a luxury for many. Anyone downplaying it’s importance is not your friend. Nothing new for WIRED though, the “Kool Kids” face of tech domination and corporate power.

    1. hunkerdown

      Thank you for this fine deconstruction. I agree. People who tell you that you need more stimulation want to dominate you. Full stop. And WIRED’s “ideas” are as half-baked as their readership.

      1. semper loquitur

        Thanks! WIRED occasionally has a decent article but most suck, I agree. Aren’t they CIA or something? A quick search of “WIRED” and “CIA” reveals all manner of videos they produced about spy gadgets and how the CIA disguises their agents…

      2. eg

        I used to read WIRED magazine in the 90s — sort of like how I used to read Omni magazine in the 80s and science fiction in the 70s.

  20. The Rev Kev

    The text associated with today’s Antidote du jour says-

    ‘Summer Witch ☀️
    Happy #Caturday 🖤

    As a Celtic animal symbol the cat was regarded as guardian of the Otherworld; gatekeeper to the other realm of existence

    Silent & mysterious, cats are expert guardians of homes & people, master secret keepers & symbols of hidden knowledge.’

    For fun, here is a reply further down to that tweet which speaks the truth-

  21. The Rev Kev

    “Rich nations say they’re spending billions to fight climate change. Some money is going to strange places”

    Just another slush fund. Like the money that will be going to the “reconstruction’ of the Ukraine. Anytime you get a coupla hundred billion dollars together, it is just another honey pot to be looted by those in the know.

      1. Late Introvert

        I keep explaining to people that One Billion is One Thousand Million. Their eyes get wider, then I say that One Trillion is One Thousand BILLION. Yup.

  22. flora

    re: Ukraine

    Recent news, linked at NC earlier iirc, about the US and UK sending depleted uranium ammo to Ukraine tells me one thing: The US/UK know they’re losing and so are salting the earth of Ukraine so RU will be left with a wasteland. / my 2 cents.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Had the same thought here. And that was what destroying that dam was all about. When Lindsey Graham was in Kiev recently, he was all excited about the secret plans that he saw. I wonder if this was one of them? Certainly the Ukrainians would never have blown that dam without Biden’s permission. And Biden may have figured that if grain production was wrecked in this part of the Ukraine, then the US would be able to demand higher prices for their own grain because of the resulting shortage.

      1. ambrit

        Yeah, and with America entering into what is predicted to be the worst wheat harvest in over six decades, I can see Jackpot futures surging.
        Watch the Chicago Board of Exchange this fall.

          1. ambrit

            I can see “Creepy” Joe Biden on the stump: “We are all Arabs now! Let us come together with our fellow calorie challenged cousins to face the future with resolve and faith!” Etc. Etc. Ad nauseum.

  23. Tom Stone

    When I asked the commentariat what over the top action the Biden administration might take over the next year I got very few responses, a tribute to the sanity of those who regularly spend time at NC.
    No one brought up cancelling the 2024 Election, which somewhat surprised me.
    Is that any dumber and more provocative than Nordstream or the arrest of Trump?
    After all “The republic is threatened by enemies from within and without as never before” including the Aliens who keep crashing or just abandoning their spacecraft here on earth, causing who knows what kinds of pollution.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Over the top action by Biden? Ooh, ooh, I got one. Having the leading 2024 Presidential contender for the Republicans arrested on some trumped up charges of treason. Oh wait, it’s been done.

    2. Paradan

      Don’t forget that there’s 30 tons of ammonium nitrate that’s still unaccounted for….

  24. Tom Stone

    Rev, it’s hard for most of us to wrap our heads around the kinds of insanely reckless ideas that the Biden administration considers normal and sensible.
    Trying to find a rational explanation for insane behavior hasn’t worked out very well for me.
    “Because they are Effing NUTS!” does.
    And they are effing nuts and no mistake.

  25. JM

    Very cute couch panthers in the antidote today! Just a reminder that black cats are not bad luck, and that they tend to be adopted less than other coat colors.

  26. Random

    The twitter chart measures payments in SWIFT.
    Not exactly proving anything at this point besides the decreased use of the euro.

  27. Tom Stone

    Q: “What’s the difference between Extreme carelessness and Gross Negligence?”
    A: 20 years in the Federal Pen.

  28. Mikel

    The Bezzle?
    Bounced paychecks, frozen 401(k)s — How this promising Fresno tech company ‘disappeared overnight’

    Some highlights from the company that banked at First Republic:

    “…In April, Olguin and Soberal sent an email out to employees announcing that payroll would be transitioning from direct deposit to paper checks.

    “Your anxiety may be trying to tell you, ‘OMG the business is failing, we’re out of money.’ No. That’s not what this is about. We’re literally trying to make your lives simpler and remove uncertainty,” the email shared with The Times said.

    And the preceding months of payroll issues? The co-CEOs wrote that those were due to everything from “bank failures to delivery problems to software glitches to literal natural disasters.”

    The move to paper checks, they explained, was so the company could transition from small community banks to “larger, brand name banks where the size and complexity of our company can be better served.”

    Multiple employees reported that their paychecks, which came from First Republic Bank, started bouncing in April, with one employee’s bank rejecting the check due to “insufficient funds” a week after the deposit was made.

    After the switch to paper checks, 401(k) contributions also started to go missing….”

    “…Olguin and Soberal have stated under oath that they had $80 million in their Central Valley Bank account as of March 9 of this year, the lawsuit said. The company had announced the previous month an $80-million funding round from investors including Kapor Center, Motley Fool Ventures, and Goldman Sachs, that was supposed to fuel their expansion to Chicago’s South Side.

    “It begs the question, what do you do with $80 million in three months?” said Roger Bonakdar, an attorney with Bonakdar Law Firm in Fresno who’s representing the plaintiffs. “If they in fact had $80 million in March, they should have taken that money and earmarked it for the staff first to make sure they could have carried that payroll and benefit expense…”

  29. Wukchumni

    Saw a couple of black bears, my firsts of the year….

    One of them was what I call a ‘Billy Idol Bear’ as it looked to have gotten into some hydrogen peroxide and was quite tan.

    It allowed us to watch it for 20 minutes, a long encounter.

  30. Ed S.

    RE: The Rape of Lady Justice Patrick Lawrence in Counterpunch.

    Great article, well worth a read. But the unrelenting propaganda even permeates the website – a photograph (which proceeds the article) of a bathroom with about 30 “bankers boxes” stacked is captioned: “Boxes of classified documents stored in a bathroom at Mar-a-Lago” emphasis added.

    Since the boxes are not opened and the contents aren’t shown, there’s NO WAY to know that the boxes contain classified documents. Or any documents at all. Or anything at all.

    A truthful caption would be either “boxes stored in a bathroom at Mar-a-Lago” or “boxes alleged to contain classified document…..”.

    What’s that legal phrase, “facts not in evidence”?

  31. Wukchumni

    Fresno cybercurrency is akin to the worst of both worlds, had they never heard of Miami?

  32. DMK

    The Intercept reports that the FBI paid the informant in the House’s current Biden investigation $200,000 from 2017 to 2020 and pays on average $42 million annually to informants.

    Looks like there is good money to be made in the gig economy.

  33. Jeff W

    stridulation: a high-pitched chirping, grating, hissing, or squeaking sound, as male crickets and grasshoppers make by rubbing certain body parts together [used in the referenced article as “…I couldn’t hear the high-pitched croaking of the crickets in that scene. They were drowned out by the monstrous stridulations of the machines.”]

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