Links 6/16/2023

Five planets will be lined up in space Saturday. How to see the ‘planetary alignment’ USA Today

Catfish Noodling 101: A Beginner’s Guide Field and Stream

High Inflation is Officially Behind Us Richard Vague, Democracy

Larry Summers Was Wrong About Inflation Eric Levitz, New York Magazine

Joachim Nagel: Ensuring the supply of cash – including in times of crisis Bank of International Settlements


Record-breaking heat scorches South; parts of Texas could top 120 degrees FOX

The Mercury is Off the Charts Bill McKibben, The Crucial Years

Biden calls climate change ‘only truly existential threat‘ Anadolu Agency

Climate-Friendly Cocktail Recipes Go Light on Ice Scientific American


Drift of Earth’s Pole Confirms Groundwater Depletion as a Significant Contributor to Global Sea Level Rise 1993–2010 Geophysical Research Letters


Mandy Cohen, seen as next CDC director, would bring political chops to an agency lacking them Helen Branswell, STAT. Ah. The CDC thinks it has a messaging problem.

Association between vaccination rates and severe COVID-19 health outcomes in the United States: a population-level statistical analysis (preprint) medRxiv. From the Abstract: “We analyzed the association between time-dependent vaccination rates and COVID-19 severity for 48 states in the U.S. using Generalized Additive Models (GAMs)…. We used SARS-CoV-2 genomic surveillance data to model the different COVID-19 variant driven waves separately…. Our study revealed a strong and statistically significant negative association between vaccine uptake and COVID-19 severity across each variant wave. Results also showed that booster shots offered additional protection against severe diseases during the Omicron wave. Additionally, higher underlying population immunity based on previous infection rates are shown to be associated with reduced COVID-19 severity. Full-service restaurant visits are associated with increased COVID-19 severity for the pre-Delta and Delta waves, while office of physician visits are associated with increased COVID-19 severity for the Omicron wave. Moreover, the states with higher government policy index scores have lower COVID-19 severity. Regarding static variables, the social vulnerability index, and the proportion of adults at high risk exhibit positive associations with COVID-19 severity, while Medicaid spending per person exhibits a negative association with COVID-19 severity. Despite the emergence of new variants, vaccines remain highly effective at reducing severe outcomes of COVID-19.”

FDA panel backs monovalent XBB switch for fall COVID vaccines Center for Disease Research and Policy. I’m so old I can remember when mRNA vaccines were going to have point releases, like software.

NYS working to get rid of unused pandemic materials WKBW


China drops cremation data from quarterly report, raising questions about key Covid death indicator South China Morning Post

What if China really did develop COVID as a bioweapon? Here are the issues involved The Conversation


Time Running Out on Indonesia’s Myanmar Diplomacy Institute for Security and Development Policy. There is no diplomatic solution. The Myanmar junta is no more agreement-capable than the United States.

‘They ignore us on purpose’: Cyclone deepens Rohingya suffering Frontier Myanmar


India seals $3 billion drone deal with US ahead of PM Modi’s visit Business Standard

How Dowries Are Fuelling a Femicide Epidemic The New Yorker

How Polo Was Discovered In Manipur Madras Courier


Flowing Through Time: The Nile River Shaping Cairo’s Architecture and Urban Landscape ArchDaily

L.A. and other cities are recovering, but not their downtowns. Why? Brookings Institution

European Disunion

Hungarian man pays with fake money with a picture of George Soros in a pub Daily News Hungary

New Not-So-Cold War

How Ukraine has become a magnet for Western neo-Nazis Scotland Today Online. The deck: “The war-torn east European country is a mecca for some of the most odious people on earth. What sort of threat does this pose to their home countries?”

Round Two? There Is No Round Two Aurelien, Trying to Understand the World. Well worth a read.

* * *

The Kakhovka Dam Disaster: Responsibility and Consequences Wilson Center. Alternatively:

Dreizin Publishes Complete Ukrainian Battle Plan for Entire Zaporozhie Front The Dreizen Report. Big if true. Interestingly, suggests a post-Kakhova river crossing, but at Kamenskoe-Vasilievka Ukraine, and not near Energodar.

SITREP 6/15/23: Kakhovka Powerplay Heats Up as AFU Readies For Round 2 Simplicius the Thinker(s)

Russia says US intelligence is helping Ukraine ‘cover the tracks’ of its attack on Kakhovka dam Anadolu Agency

* * *

Sending a message?

Ukraine’s Offensive Meets Strong Russian Response WSJ. URL has the less anodyne “riposte” for “response.” Commentary:

War on the Black Sea – Ukrainian Drone Attacks on the Ivan Khurs and the Priazovye John Helmer

Meeting with war correspondents President of Russia

* * *

Is There a Future in Politics for Russia’s Wagner Boss, Yevgeny Prigozhin? Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Vladimir Putin sides with Russia’s military in clash with Wagner FT

* * *

Why do US sanctions fail? Because a platypus isn’t a bird Al Jazeera. Commentary:

A Forgotten History The American Conservative

South of the Border

Peru’s President Boluarte Says She’ll Remain in Power Until 2026 Bloomberg

Biden Administration

Lina Khan Fires a Crooked CEO Matt Stoller, BIG

Spook Country

Guardsman indicted on charges of disclosing classified national defense information AP. Teixeira.

Digital Watch

I’m a Student. You Have No Idea How Much We’re Using ChatGPT. Chronicle of Higher Education. “As any former student knows, one of the main challenges of writing an essay is just thinking through the subject matter and coming up with a strong, debatable claim. With one snap of the fingers and almost zero brain activity, I suddenly had one.” Hand-written, proctored examinations followed by viva voces would be a start (which would require individualized attention to students, and who wants that? So, on consideration, no).

Artificial Intelligence Already Being Used In Transactional Drafting: An Interview With The CEO Of Spellbook Dealbreaker

Supply Chain

World’s rice glut will be put to the test with El Niño’s return Economic Times

Police State Watch

“All I am saying is the police will do their job as they see fit.” Worcester Sucks and I Love It


The Moral Crisis of America’s Doctors NYT (IM Doc).

Why Are Corporate Healthcare Fraudsters Being Handed ‘Get Out of Jail Free Cards’? Common Dreams

Zeitgeist Watch

Mating n+1 (Amfortas).

Imperial Collapse Watch

How the U.S. let EV battery tech born here wind up in the hands of China Autoblog (via Bloomberg, not paywalled). Well worth a read.

Guillotine Watch

Finance Executive Accused of Drugging and Raping Teen in Midtown Hotel NYT

Shedding equity: Housing slowdown leads to first annual drop in US homeowner equity since 2012 AP

Class Warfare

Korean writers picket in solidarity with Writers Guild of America Hankyoreh

Strategies of Denial New Left Review. “The American left’s blinkered focus on the domestic impact of Bidenomics has echoes of the ‘social imperialism’ of the European belle époque, when the Webbs and Bernsteins celebrated an increased share of the cake for their native working class, as inter-imperial rivalries and colonial depredations accelerated towards catastrophe.”

Compounding Optimism Collaborative. Pessimism doesn’t compound??

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. Mark Gisleson

    Not a catfish noodling story, but as a little girl in Thailand one of my former clients had to help her mother catch catfish. I’ll let her tell the story:

    When I was young each summer my friends would go to the beach to swim and play volleyball. Not Anna. I would go to our family fruit orchard to spend the summer in a house without electricity to help my mother feed the thirty workers who cared for our durian, mango, rambutan and mangosteen trees. Did I mention the catfish pond yet?

    My mom gave me a choice: I could take the net and catch the catfish, or I could cut their heads off. I chose to be the catfish catcher.

    I took the net and would pull 20 catfish from our pond each morning. They weighed a kilogram apiece so I had to make many trips from the pond to where my mother and I would make the catfish salad. Sometimes the catfish would slip out of my mother’s hands and it was my job to catch them again as they tried to run away. This made me very mad. I wasn’t sure if I was mad at my Mom for losing the catfish, or at the catfish for not wanting us to eat them.

  2. Bugs

    “How Polo Was Discovered In Manipur” The most beautiful polo grounds I’ve seen in India is in Jodhpur, and the play is aggressive and breathtaking. There are specific dates where non members are admitted, so check before traveling. Jodhpur is also a very beautiful city, well worth spending time in.

    1. Don

      The second sentence in the article is most unfortunate: “It is a game best appreciated by sports enthusiasts who eschew grace, speed, and sportsmanship.”

      eschew | to deliberately avoid using; abstain from: he appealed to the crowd to eschew violence.

  3. mrsyk

    “Climate-Friendly Cocktail Recipes Go Light on Ice” The deck: “It takes a lot of water and energy to make negronis, manhattans and margaritas. Could we do with less ice?” Dear god. That’s certainly not going to solve much. In fact we’ll need more, because fairytale writing to assuage that neoliberal hangover make me crave a stiff drink and it’s only 7:30 am. FFS.

    1. Lexx

      The second season of ‘Our Planet’ is out on Netflix. I was uncomfortable but okay until they got to the young skinny male polar bear and then I was out of my chair headed for bed. David tells the audience that the polar bears may spent as much as eight hours a day swimming in seawater looking for prey, usually seals who are much more agile in water and escape easily. With insufficient ice a polar bear has to work very hard and for much longer to catch a meal.

      But yeah, one less ice cube in my iced tea ought to fix the bear’s starvation/drowning problem so I’ll pitch in to help. /s

      1. jefemt

        I saw an inane comment by one of the denier-set regarding polar bear population INCREASES.
        Made me so mad I was vexed for the day.

        Polar bears, if some survive, will do so by adapting and returning to land, and there is some evidence this is happening. And then they will be circum-polar bears?

        As destructive as humans are, I really wish we would self-extirpate faster! We reaaaally suck.

        1. Henry Moon Pie

          We can be really disgusting, but Lambert’s post on the Amazonian children’s survival was a strong antidote to that tendency we have to blame humans per se. I’m sure that the Amazonian gardeners aren’t perfectly in tune with the ecosystems where they’ve been living for millennia, but they provide some strong evidence that humans can thrive in a locale without destroying it and building highways all over the place.

          Our problem is not in our genes, but in our culture, and as we know from the past 60 years or so, culture can be changed, and sometimes quite rapidly. We have a culture that contains several elements–capitalism, individualism, materialism, consumerism–that have rendered us so destructive. It’s basically an updated version of the Conquistador worldview that all but destroyed indigenous people in the Western hemisphere who, like the Amazonians, had a better understanding of their role in the universe than the their gold-obsessed conquerors.

          1. jefemt

            I really believe that darned Devils Brew from the bowels of the earth, marvelously portable energy dense oil, has allowed us to overshoot over the last seven generations by around 7 Billion or so…
            Me included, and I have revenue, work, and use-of-oil ‘blood on my hands’

            Out, damned spot!

          2. Lexx

            There’s a new game warden in town and his name is ‘Joe Pickett’. In that fictional Wyoming every character Joe crosses swords with is up to no good and beats the crap out of him, out somewhere there’s no witnesses or cameras,… and hell Joe’s the law (of a sort) and armed, but so what!?

            The black hats* have no use for law-and-order types like Joe, getting between them and ‘opportunity’ in the Wild West, so Joe has to go… one way or another. He’s resourceful of course, but also mind-mindbogglingly naive and slow to anger. Plus he has a family, a pregnant attorney wife and two daughters. According to today’s entertainment formula, they’re both a parent’s nightmare, especially the oldest**.

            The words ‘keep safe’ are liberally sprinkled through the series’ scripts so we know who the good guys are. Villains never waste any time or energy concerning themselves with the safety of innocents.

            Why am I writing about ‘Joe Pickett’, you’re wondering? I’m not sure we humans suck by nature. I think we’re wired for self-gratification and shortsightedness, some more so than others. We’re dopamine diddlers constantly looking for our next dose, screw ‘the road less traveled’***. It is in our genes, our ‘epi-genes’, our neurology, and our culture. Can we change? Maybe but not significantly enough in the time remaining. I could be wrong; I’m only a 65 year old ‘egg’****, a shortsightedness in itself and you seem to be a better student of human history than I have been. History is full of the exceptional, not the rule. Of the powerful, not the ordinary who are quickly forgotten and returned to dust, since their stories were never written. Billions of them on a finite planet, determined that their lives had some measure of meaning… mmmmmeaning, like a warm final hug.

            *His district seems to be full of sneaking exploiters of Nature, all murderously determined not to get caught. Will no one rid them of that troublesome warden?!

            **Because she’s ‘tired of her parent’s treating her like a child’ and out of love and concern for her family, she lies, sneaks, pries, steals, and only when it suits her, does what the ‘adults’ tell her to do.

            ***Do billionaires think they’re on the ‘road less traveled’, rather than our planet’s biggest dopamine addicts?

            **** Ala ‘Stranger In A Strange Land’.

        2. JEHR

          Some polar bears have learned how to catch young whales. They stand on rocks overlooking the water and when a young whale passes, they catch it. Bears are smart! They also learn to catch Arctic char.

    2. Eclair

      Mrsyk remarks, “That’s certainly not going to solve much.” But, if we drink these low-ice cocktails without the aid of … gasp …. plastic straws …. we can save the Planet!

    3. Katniss Everdeen

      Above-the-fold nyt headlines of the not too distant future:

      “FDA Fasttracks Approval for mRNA Vax Against Deadly, Highly Contagious Virus Found in Tepid Cocktails.”

      “Private Jet Frequent Fliers File Class Action Against Cocktail Ice Limits Claiming Emotional Distress and PTSD.”

      “Distilled Spirits Trade Group Demands Properly Chilled Cocktails Be Declared a Universal Basic Human Right. Establishes Advocacy Organization #DUI–#Drinkers United International.”

      And speaking of ice and it’s contribution to climate change, the Stanley Cup hockey championship was just won by the Las Vegas Golden Knights. They played the Florida Panthers. Talk about yer “climate” change.

  4. griffen

    Catfish noodling, or how I learn to not break all the fingers in one hand while doing so. Those buggers can really get hefty. While that appears to be a fun thing to do, even if catch and release is common, I’ll stick to my outdoor choices for hiking or an occasional bicycle ride.

    And now I’ll have visions of tragedy on the water and a banjo tune in my mind the rest of the weekend. Oh, Deliverance, never far from memory.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      the swamp folk i stayed with for a summer during my Wild Years would sometimes do that…but it was more sport/foolin around than anything…and usually involved jack daniels.
      to actually catch dinner, it was trotlines for catfish.
      and…i’d be more worried about disturbing/pissing off a water moccasin than anything…those snakes are quite aggressive….mean, even.
      they, unlike every other snake i’ve encountered, will actually come after you if you get their ire up.

      1. t

        In my experience, they wait a minute before coming after you, so whatever you might do to make sure there are no snakes causes them to hunker down in wait for as long as it takes the average person to think it’s okay, and then snake will jump out and come right at you, head up. They are not in flight. They are in gonna gitcha mode.

      2. foghorn longhorn

        Visited my Redneckus Texicanus buddy last week, made it clear, no noodling.
        So we went sailing on his 22 footer. Pretty dang fun, I must say.

    2. tevhatch

      I keep waiting for the horror story about the fellow noodling for Catfish who found his hand, or what remains of it, in the beak of a large snapping turtle. They hang out in the same waters. All I can figure is there are no survivors of such an event.

      1. BeliTsari

        Hand? You’re supposed to use your HAND? No wonder, them fellers was laughing at my anguished grimace!

        1. tevhatch

          I’ve heard that nightcrawlers has a different meaning in Japan, and they try catching a different kind of fish.

      2. griffen

        Parallel to a scene from Planes, Trains and Automobiles.

        “Those aren’t pillows….”

    1. eg

      Precisely this. Always and about everything. A truncated version of the headline is therefore evergreen.

  5. Randall Flagg

    Re Putin speaking with war correspondents, can you imagine a scenario with Biden being allowed to speak with war correspondents without someone standing behind him ready in a split second to put duct tape over his mouth and drag him out?

    1. tevhatch

      Our press is so tame I’m waiting for the “story” to come out that Joe Biden did a tour de force, vigorously sniffing the hair of every female correspondent, slapping with a resounding smack the buttocks of the male correspondents, while spending 3 hours in a tour-de-force explanation of how we’re really going to win in Afghanistan, and the pull-out was a fake. With AI- deep fakes anything is possible now.

  6. flora

    Thanks for the NYT’s article on doctor burnout in modern American medicine. I skipped the Times comments section but read the aggregated comments on Metafilter. Brutal.

    1. DorothyT

      NakedCapitalism has been covering private equity/PE for some time. I can’t recommend enough the new book by Gretchen Morgenson that goes into detail about PE in healthcare and many, many other fields.

      “These Are the Plunderers: How Private Equity Runs — and Wrecks — America.” Simon & Schuster.

      I worked on a private-public California insurance scandal years ago in which PE firm Apollo, founded by Leon Black, was named the ‘winner’ in acquiring an insurance company with 360,000 policyholders and more than 700 companies/entities making up its asset portfolio (bonds). The insurer, Executive Life Insurance Co. had not missed payment on a single contractual policy that had come due. Leon Black ‘won’ this so-called auction for less than half the value of its assets. The CA attorney general’s office told me that losses to policyholders was more than $7B. That’s billion with a ‘B.’

      Gretchen details the ELIC disaster in what she calls the ‘Rosetta Stone’ of private equity. Full disclosure: I organized thousands of those policyholders in the day, as her book describes. It makes me sick to this day to think of the hundreds of thousands of policyholders and their heirs whose lives were impacted by Leon Black and former CA insurance commissioner (now CA congressman) John Garamendi. Private equity took off like a rocket as those 700 bonds became fodder for PE firms. Unemployment grew unimpeded in hundreds of those companies. Healthcare and other industries have never been the same — and to this day, as the NYT article describes.
      Your 401K is on the chopping block now. (See Trump’s part in that.)

      Some people in this article are detailed in this book. So if you’re worried about your pension being annuitized/privatized without gov. protection, your health insurance, your annuity, your government bond/GIC, etc., read this book.

        1. JTMcPhee

          The question is, what to do with this information. Maybe some of us with the right self-protection and predatory skill sets will figure a way to profit off it, a la Big Short. So far the rest of us are just muppets, along for the ride.

          There is no mechanism to stop this kind of behavior, and there can never be any remedies that balance out the harm done with sufficiently grievous punishment.

          It’s looking to me more and more that this is like one of those accelerating exothermic irreversible reactions I took such delight in as a student in high school chemistry class…

          1. flora

            At this point I’m less interested in knowing how to profit from the information than in knowing how to protect my small savings from predators. Knowing who the predators are and how they operate is the first step, imo. / ymmv

            1. flora

              I’m more concerned with the return of my money than the return on my money at this stage in life. / ;)

              1. Amfortas the hippie

                my strategy is to maintain in my head a list of tangible things to obtain whenever someone dies or i otherwise come into a windfall(tax returns w/ EITC paid for our house).
                then when it happens i review the list, prioritise…and leap into a spending frenzy…to where the $ is immediately converted into useful things, like that tractor over there, or the cabin, bar extension or getting the big greenhouse up and running again.
                then i’m broke, again…but i have either tangible things…or the materials for them…right here on the ground.
                only misallocation fo funds from my wife’s life insurance was attempting to get my teeth fixed domestically…i should have gone to mexico,lol…because fancy dentists here appear to be scam artists.(a story/rant for another day)

          2. Felix_47

            Campaign finance reform might be the only option short of a redo of the French Revolution.. I think 16 billion in total was spent on the last election. Private equity and politics are inextricably entwined.

  7. Steve H.

    > Compounding Optimism

    >> It’s hard to imagine, say, our incomes doubling over the next few generations. That seems like such a massive leap, like we’d have to boil the ocean to get it done.


    1. Henry Moon Pie

      The author’s enthusiasm for exponential growth might be tempered if he considered it if he considered its impacts on carbon emissions and resource depletion.

      1. Carolinian

        “When fascism comes it will be called anti-fascism.”

        Could be true, whoever may have first said it.

    1. wendigo

      “Inside Fox News, the women who run the network…”

      Nothing like a little misogyny to start things off.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Is it a true statement? Maybe not misogyny, but statement of fact?

        But obviously requires dismissing out of hand the entire essay.

        Another kind of impeachment.

        Cue the fear, uncertainty and doubt in 3, 2, 1…

      2. Carolinian

        Or a piece of information for those of us who know little about Fox. True she sounds like a chip off the old Ailes block so perhaps gender is irrelevant in this case.

        A 2017 article quoting numerous former Fox News Channel on-air talent and support staff alleged that the “…executive assistant-turned-Fox News vice president of programming Suzanne Scott enforces with the wardrobe and makeup departments an aesthetic that features skimpy dresses, high-heeled open-toed shoes, and big hair for the channel’s on-air women.”

        She’s now head of Fox News, appointed by Lachlan Murdoch in 2018.

  8. Rob Urie

    The suggestion in the NLR piece that the Biden administration’s goal with its ‘environmental’ proposals is to benefit the American working class, rather than Democratic party donors, is contradicted by their structure.

    Tax incentives are neoliberalism 101. They are based in economic theory, not demonstrated through outcomes. Peruse the literature if you doubt this. They do not work as advertised.

    This makes the Biden administration the representative of American capital abroad, not the American people.

    1. Oh

      I don’t see where Biden’s “environmental proposals” benefits people when it dismantles parts of NEPA, subsidizes yuuuge corporations and still increases fracking and fossil fuels.

      Other mythical tax incentives (at the local level) include tax waiver for Walmart and other corps to build a factory in an area, special tax districts and giveaways to owners of sports teams for building stadiums and selling conventions claiming that they’ll provide additional benefits to the local economy.

      The business of America is Big Business and the US economy operates on 2, 4 and 6 year cycles.

  9. The Rev Kev

    ‘”Missiles are still flying towards Kyiv,” Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said.

    The president of South Africa is also in the Ukrainian capital.’

    Bit reminiscent of something that happened in the early days of WW2. Russia’s Foreign Minister Molotov was in Berlin negotiating with German Foreign Minister Ribbentrop when they had to take to the bomb shelters because of British night bombers. So Ribbentrop was going on how helping Germany was great and that they were going to win the war. Molotov then asked him if that was true, then whose bombers were above Berlin at the moment.

      1. digi_owl


        Kinda reminds me of the Biden photo-op with the blaring sirens in the background. As someone pointed out then, if there was a real risk to the POTUS the Secret Service would have him inside the armored limo in no time. And making a straight dash for Air Force One.

        The whole thing is such a massive kayfabe from the western side, the Russians and Chinese must be worried they are dealing with lunatics.

  10. DJG, Reality Czar

    Thanks for the link to Aurelien’s essay, Round Two?

    I enjoyed how Aurelien up top demurs as to being a “military specialist” and then proceeds to write in illuminating detail about tactics and materiel. The essay is worth a read just for understanding how unfit Western material is for what has become trench warfare (what Yves Smith often characterizes as a war of attrition or “grinding”).

    This sentence dovetails what has been on my mind for several days: “All of which leaves the West pretty much bereft of options, yet with a busybody tradition of interfering everywhere, trying to take the lead and the initiative, and assuming that its views count for a lot, just because.”

    Or, because so much of the U.S. warmongering is coming from Hillary Clinton Diehards, just because Putin is a man-spreader.

    The amusing video in the tweet above (yes, it’s true, the penguins are the stars) underscores the Western elite’s determination to fight the war as an extension of office politics. The U.S. mindset is that war should be like the poisonous atmosphere of the endless number of U.S. toxic organizations and corporations.

    Somehow, Chairman Mao would think otherwise. “As for the imperialist countries, we should unite with their peoples and strive to coexist peacefully with those countries, do business with them, and prevent any possible war, but under no circumstances should we harbour any unrealistic notions about them.”

    Meanwhile, I’m seeing headlines that the elites now want to force Ukraine into NATO a.s.a.p. The populace will not be consulted by such “leaders,” of course. As I have mentioned, there are strong indications that the Italians would say no.

    1. The Rev Kev

      They may want to force the Ukraine into NATO but it won’t happen. It only takes one NATO member to veto their application and then it can’t happen as Sweden has discovered with their application. Too many members know that to invite the Ukraine into NATO is the same as going to war with the Russian Federation as that will be precisely what the Ukraine will engineer. You can bet that Hungary will vote no and though many countries in the east like Poland, Bulgaria and the Baltic States will vote yes, most countries west of the Elbe river will vote hell no.

      As for that amusing sanctions video, about the only thing that they have not sanctioned is all 146,118,642 citizens of the Russian Federation but if that is what happened with the next sanctions package, I would not be surprised.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        i wonder…is there a mechanism for kicking a country out of nato?
        if so, they could sort of jigger the thing to where they have yes votes enough to get the world war they seem to pine so feverishly for.
        i mean, its not like legitimacy is an issue,lol…

        1. digi_owl

          As best i recall, there is not. Something that has come up again and again ever since Erdogan pissed off the US MIC by ordering Russian S-300s.

      2. Ignacio

        Even those who never pay attention might realise that would be a short cut to WW3. Na ga happen and I can only think of 3 NATO members insane enough to push for it. One of them is quite powerful but, IMO, there is not arm wrestling capability enough to cross certain red lines. Not only Hungary would oppose. Stoltenberg already said no way.

    2. Carolinian

      The theory of this war seems to have been that Russia was a paper tiger and every fresh example of how that is not true puts Biden and his international cronies ever deeper in the soup.

      Meanwhile those of us who hang out on the internet read years ago that the Pentagon had run war games against Russia and that NATO was the loser of these for all the reasons that are now plain. The truth is that US policy doesn’t make any sense but does give employment to useless thinktankers who otherwise might have to get real jobs. We are being out thought and out fought and while Armageddon may settle the question here’s doubting that is what Biden and the grifters really want. They placed their bets wrongly and at some point they are going to have to wave the white flag. Putin seems to merely be waiting it out.

      1. Carolinian

        Today’s MOA

        He quotes Petraeus

        My sense is that they will achieve combined arms effects in other words, they will successfully carry out combined arms operations where you have engineers that are breaching the obstacles and diffusing the minefields and so forth; armour following right on through protected by infantry against anti-tank missiles; air defence keeping the Russians aircraft off them; electronic warfare jamming their radio networks; logistics right up behind them; artillery and mortars right out in front of them.

        Meanwhile Simplicius above in Links reports that Russia’ Lancet drones are using AI to identify targets from a stored database and don’t need to communicate at all. Guess somebody should tell Petraus.

      2. digi_owl

        There were mixed signals from the outset. Russia was somehow simultaneously a paper tiger and an existential threat to Europe, that would march all the way to the Atlantic if not stopped in Ukraine by NATO going all in.

        1. Polar Socialist

          There have also been somewhat contradicting assumptions that Putin is an autocrat ruling with an iron grasp every minute detail in Russia, but he will be disposed by dismayed people as soon as they can’t get their French cheese and Italian wine anymore.

  11. Acacia

    Re: I’m a Student. You Have No Idea How Much We’re Using ChatGPT

    Paywalled, but:

    The article offers two conclusions: (1) “we should embrace the role AI is beginning to play in the writing process” except that: “When we want students to learn how to think — something I’m sure all educators consider a top priority — assignments become essentially useless once AI gets involved.” And (2): “So rather than fully embracing AI as a writing assistant, the reasonable conclusion is that there needs to be a split between assignments on which using AI is encouraged and assignments on which using AI can’t possibly help.”

    Thus, the first conclusion is rejected in favor of the second one. But: what is the point of encouraging the use of AI? So that we “teach how to best use it”? That was part of the first conclusion, and was rejected as being inimical to teaching students to learn how to think. The author admits this several times through the article.

    Then, the main takeaway: “If education systems are to continue teaching students how to think, they need to move away from the take-home essay as a means of doing this, and move on to AI-proof assignments like oral exams, in-class writing, or some new style of schoolwork better suited to the world of artificial intelligence.”

    This may sound like a reasonable “solution” but beyond the vagueness of “some new style of schoolwork” as yet unknown, bear in mind that in the pre-AI era, the so-called take-home essay has been about teaching students how to do research and craft arguments, involving everything from the selection of sources, arrangement of the parts of the argument, writing topic sentences, paraphrase, quotation, analysis, and so forth. This is the craft of writing an argumentative essay. It’s what undergraduates are taught how to do.

    Now, imagine trying to do all of that using in-class writing assignments. The time requirement alone is going to be prohibitive. Are faculty seriously going to allocate several weeks of proctored classroom time to writing a final research paper?

    This article goes an important distance in drawing attention to a situation in which “very few people in power even understand that something is wrong” but the solutions on offer are not viable, at least not for the traditional goals. It’s really difficult to not conclude that the mission of universities to teach critical thinking is really going to take a very serious hit from this.

    1. t

      Well, the very least, this means now both students and grader will have to check all the sources, to see if they exist and of they say what’s claimed.

      1. witters

        As a grader in my uni, and a casual, I would get 20 minutes per 3000 word essay. Can’t be done.

    2. flora

      At least the old CliffsNotes has accurate information, unlike the truthy sounding bs generated on Chat. (Now about that lawyer who used Chat for case citations…that didn’t exist.)

      1. tevhatch

        old CliffsNotes has accurate information…

        don’t forget accurate is lifting “approved assumptions, interpretations, and data”

    3. Laura in So Cal

      This was my high school English class over 40 years ago, but we did a mix of in-class and at-home writing assignments. In-class essays were mostly on things we were reading or had read so the material was right in front of us. These were mostly compare/contrast,opinion type, or book report assignments. The at-home assignments were more in-depth argumentative or persuasive essays and of course a term paper or two.

      However, the in-class work taught you to organize your thoughts quickly and get your ideas on paper in 45 minutes. Cheating was basically impossible so the teacher could really see your writing skill and address it. I had 3 very good English teachers in high school,and I can still write an essay on “whatever” pretty easily.
      However. this was a lot of work for the teachers. They all gave us 2 grades, one for content and one for structure,grammar, etc. Also grading was subjective so the teachers would be asking for trouble today if the grade was challenged by a student or parents.

      Much easier just to give multiple choice quizzes etc. My son went to the same high school I did and his English education wasn’t nearly as rigorous as mine was.

  12. GramSci

    Re: Mandy Cohen, Biden’s new chief at CDC

    “She’s got the leadership skills, the communication skill. She’s an operational person and she values public-private partnerships. And at the end of the day that’s what this is about — those four things right there,” she said.

      1. Jeff W

        Someone conscious and able to act, maybe? (An “non-operational” person presumably isn’t.)

    1. Ignacio

      At the end of the day, disease control and prevention is a matter of public-private partnerships, communications and leadership? PMC at its best. To demonstrate it they can always make public the minutes of all these public-private meetings. Like those of von der Leyen negotiating with Pfizer, for instance. No wait! von der Leyen missed that great opportunity to show her leadership etc. when asked by the Europarliament.

    2. Eclair

      I can’t believe that government officials can still mouth the phrase ‘public-private partnerships’ while keeping a straight face. (Although I guess that is how one becomes a government official.). My spouse and I have been pointing out egregious screw-ups (from NYS toll-road collection debacles to, well, vaccine production and distribution) looking at each other, chanting in unison, “It’s a public-private partnership,” then rolling about in laughter. For years now.

  13. pjay

    – ‘What if China really did develop COVID as a bioweapon? Here are the issues involved’ – The Conversation

    Wow. This article really got my attention, and not in a good way. Most noteworthy was what was *missing*: any mention of EcoHealth Alliance, Peter Daszak, DARPA, or *any* of the other US links to Wuhan and its research. What we did get was “bioweapon,” “Chinese scientists,” and “China, China, China”.

    In Wednesday’s Links Lambert posted Schellenberger’s article on US officials supporting the lab leak hypothesis. In the comments, Darthbobber laid out some reasons for caution, not least of which was that “a significant number of blob members now want the story told this way.” As stories like this one, or the one in the Sunday Times that is cited here, start popping up in the Western media echo chamber, I think that our BS radar should probably start beeping loudly.

    I should say that personally, I happen to think that the preponderance of evidence does favor a lab leak origin. But this type of framing is something quite different.

    1. Acacia

      Also, good comment on this by Basil Pesto in the June 13 WC at 11:02 pm, drawing attention to the WSWS interview with Arijit Chakravarty.

    2. Ghost in the Machine

      I agree that the evidence supports a lab leak, but am also highly skeptical about this framing. It seems to me that it was coronavirus research, likely gain of function, at least partially funded and certainly supported by the US, for the purpose of pandemic preparation. Tragic irony. The safety measures were obviously inadequate and it was ripe for a leak.
      If you were going to make a bio weapon, you would not pick a coronavirus. It was known, and discussed at NC at the beginning of pandemic, that it was difficult to make a vaccine for coronaviruses and past attempts had failed. There were early skeptics that predicted the vaccine would fail in just the way it did. For a bio weapon you pick something you can make a vaccine to. Now I guess their military/intelligence community could be as insane as ours, but they seem a little more grounded in reality from my limited perspective.
      I am sure there were observers who speculated about its use as a bio weapon, and I am sure we had similar observers on the US side.

      1. OnceWere

        The simplest explanation is that it was a new wild virus encountered on a sampling expedition to SE Asia – that’s what the sequencing shows, not that there was any genetic engineering. The researchers in Wuhan did indeed make sampling trips to the region. Much easier to have a lapse in lab safety, too, when you’re doing boring routine processing of potentially hundreds or thousands of environmental samples as opposed to some sort of super-secret super-dangerous bioweapons research. Not even something I’d attach all that much blame to the researchers for – it’s not necessarily easy to take appropriate safety measures for something you don’t know exists yet. I worked in a lab that did environmental screening for viruses and one doesn’t take Ebola-level precautions when all you expect to be detecting is avian flu.

      2. Raymond Sim

        I know I’m a broken record record about this, and if someone can show me where I’m wrong I’ll be happy to be disabused of the notion, but to my mind the fact that they wanted to develop and test an aerosol vaccine is prima facie evidence that it was indeed weapons research.

        Weaponizing pathogens is one thing, making militarily useful weapons of them is quite another. A vaccine that could be administered en masse, but covertly, would be an important step towards doing so, or at least could be sold as such.

        And that’s what matters – none of what was proposed had to be workable. Pitchable would be good enough.

        An insufficiently biosecure boondoggle (or collection of boondoggles) blowing up in everybody’s faces when nature took a hand via, for instance, viral recombination or passaging through unwitting staff, strikes me as plauusible.

        1. Ghost in the Machine

          I think the reason stated for the aerosol vaccine was so it could be used in the bat caves. Heh heh. But, you make a good point. And it does seem that when my cynicism could not get worse, I get some surprise that causes a jump to another level of cynicism.

  14. The Rev Kev

    “How Ukraine has become a magnet for Western neo-Nazis”

    ‘The deck: “The war-torn east European country is a mecca for some of the most odious people on earth. What sort of threat does this pose to their home countries?”

    That certainly is a problem that and one example comes to mind. There was the 2017 Manchester Arena bombing which killed 23 concert goers. Turned out that the guy who set off the bomb had not long before returned from the fighting in Libya but further investigations showed that the British security services were recruiting all sorts of people in the UK to go fight in Libya, including people who were under a terrorist watch order – and this guy as well.

    But then there is the flip coin. I read this Ukrainian official promise that if the Ukraine loses the war against Russia, then people in the west will not be able to relax with a coffee in an outdoor restaurant for example and I read that as a threat as much as a promise. I can easily see resentful Ukrainians take revenge against people in the west for not supporting the Ukraine enough through bombings and the like to teach them a lesson or something.

    1. digi_owl

      I do wonder if recent events in Sweden are the first inklings of this taking effect.

        1. digi_owl

          There seems to have been an uptick of shooting lately.

          But i suspect mostly it is gang/drug related, though it has sadly struck bystanders.

          1. vao

            All right, the link might be the weapons used in those gang battles — not ideology or the shooters themselves as veterans of the Ukraine war.

            The issue already surfaced in France — where competing drug gangs in Marseille have been fighting each other for years. There is growing concern that weaponry smuggled from Ukraine is facilitating a spate of shootings (increasingly with assault rifles) that have been taking place in the past couple of years.

            1. digi_owl

              That said, the Nordics have had ongoing problems with neo-nazi groups. Often quite violent problems.

              I believe there were even stories of some going to Russia and Ukraine over the years, partaking in paramilitary training or some such.

    2. Raymond Sim

      Dollars to doughnuts, vengeful Ukrainians and Friends of Ukraine take it out on the Poles (or Hungarians) first and worst. I don’t think they’ll even have to be tricked into it. As folks say around here, they have form.

      In any case, Polish intervention in western Ukraine won’t fail to happen for lack of rationales.

      1. Mildred Montana

        No way am I betting my valuable doughnuts for your worthless dollars on that proposition.

    3. Aurelien

      I’m glad to see this getting a bit of publicity, because I think it’s one of the longer-term, and potentially most serious fallouts from the whole Ukraine crisis. In Europe, we’ve seen how a small handful of former combatants armed with automatic weapons can cause casualties in the hundreds. True, it’s a lot less easy to smuggle automatic weapons and explosives into Britain than around Europe, where it’s trivially easy, but the you don’t need many of them to cause mayhem.

      The problem is how to counter it. The traditional method – trying to recruit people to infiltrate such groups, or disillusioned or mercenary current members – works until it doesn’t, and when you lose control of a source, or that person is just stringing you along and takes part in an attack, the political consequences can be horrible. But on the other hand, if there is an attack, and it emerges that you had the capacity to infiltrate these groups but didn’t, because you were afraid it might go wrong, well, then you get kicked from the other side. I’m not sure there is an answer.

      1. Tom Stone

        You don’t need to smuggle automatic weapons, with a 3D printer and a bucket of saltwater you can make them in a spare bedroom.
        Improv.Guns tacks the proliferation of craft made firearms worldwide and have had recent posts about teenagers making the FGC9Mk2 in Myanmar.
        I’d be very surprised if there aren’t a number of entrepeneurs already making these in OZ, The UK and anywhere else that has reliable electricity and a ready market.
        These are a heck of a lot better quality than a STEN gun and the cost of your first run is @ $200 each.
        Wholesaling them to Bikie gangs at $600 each gives you nice margin.

      2. Polar Socialist

        I recall reading an article some decades ago about how good the French magistrat were in keeping track of all the terrorist and revolutionary groups operating ion France. They had investigating judges/prosecutors with offices specializing in certain groups and their spin-offs so that even normal surveillance and and snitches gave them pretty good picture of who was up to what.

        That was, of course, the time before massive electronic surveillance which produces a lot of data but very little understanding of what is important and what is mere noise. If such groups indeed appear in Europe, they’re very likely to need a backbone of what remains of Ukrainian intelligence operations and they will need support networks among the emigrants. Catching them would require mostly footwork (surveillance, interviews, interrogations) and putting resulting pieces together.

        Like it was building a case for court, not fighting a bloody “war”, you know.

        1. vao

          That kind of footwork was the domain of the “Direction centrale des renseignements généraux”, a specialized unit of the French police that had agents keeping tabs on what was happening throughout the country regarding terrorism, illegal gambling, as well as, through the department for “analysis, prospective, and societal phenomena”, the press, political parties, and trade unions (yep!)

          In 2008, Sarkozy had the DCRG sliced in two, with one of the branches merged with the counter-intelligence services. The reorganization reportedly resulted in a notable decrease in the effectiveness of the intelligence activities within France. This led in 2014 to the re-instatement of an autonomous agency distinct from counter-intelligence — but which no longer dealt with terrorism. In 2017, a further separate organization was set up that basically took over the missions and methods of the old DCRG regarding terrorism.

          1. rowlf

            Thanks for the explanation. As outsider it is hard to understand all of the branches of French security and police services. There are military appearing squads patrolling cities with Famas assault rifles. I was once detained briefly in France (2017) for resembling a person of interest but I have no clue of what branch the official in street clothes was in.

    4. Susan the other

      We are just using the “Nazis” to throw our temper tantrum for us. It is laughable to imagine that the US is being intimidated by the possibility of pipe bombs in outdoor cafes. Zelensky is such a twerp. Of course it will happen, sporadically and pointlessly, because that is how temper tantrums wind themselves down. But in the end terrorism can neither govern nor rule. It can only stir the shit and distract.

  15. Alice X

    >Five planets will be lined up in space Saturday. How to see the ‘planetary alignment’ USA Today

    You can see Saturn, Neptune, Jupiter, Uranus and Mercury lined up in the sky Saturday.

    Well, the headline is a bit oversold. Jupiter is hard to miss and Saturn is easy enough to spot, but Mercury is quite elusive. Uranus and Neptune are not visible to the naked eye and even a good pair of binoculars might not help. I’ve only seen Mercury a couple of times and only when I knew exactly where to look, Uranus and Neptune never. But it is a nice thought.

    1. curlydan

      That’s been my experience. If you’re in the city, seeing most of those smaller or more distant planets is just plain hard–even with binoculars or an OK telescope.

  16. volker

    Re: Anyway, if there’s a particularly Russian sense of humour, it’s trolling

    Made lough out loud! I especially like the nasty take on Scholz, reminds of me of one former boss with (if possible) even less brain activity and similiar typing skills. Spot on!

  17. Carolinian

    Re Autoblog how American battery tech wound up in China–this is a long and interesting story but the short version is very short: the company that owned the technology opened a factory in China. And they did this because the current version of US capitalism has contradictory goals that valorize shareholder value concerns versus protection of their other intellectual property obsession. Maybe that latter is part of the problem and the US should now filch some Chinese technology just as, in the 19th century, we stole our textile technology from the British. Complaints about China are really “do as we say, not as we did.”

    Of course the story does simplify the issue since there are other aspectss such as greater Chinese willingness to engage in the dirty business of lithium mining itself. Perhaps in the end putting thousands of tiny batteries in cars will not be the best solution anyway.

    And perhaps, like Covid, global warming is a world wide problem where money making must take a back seat to solving a problem for humanity. That really would be a revolution in thinking.

    1. Rolf

      And they did this because the current version of US capitalism has contradictory goals that valorize shareholder value concerns versus protection of their other intellectual property obsession.

      Agree. There is also a good comment by a physics person in response to that article:

      I’m a physicist at a national lab and am well familiar with the problem here: not too much money wasted, but rather not enough committed over the long timescales it takes to actually allow the long game to succeed. Because private industry is generally too focused on near-term bottom line to fund these types of things competitively, we really depend upon the federal research infrastructure to fund (and/or take on itself at the labs) speculative research where there are long timelines to bring something to market.

      Meanwhile, the US budget process, where a new set of priorities every year/every congress/every administration leads to whipsaw spending from year to year, makes it very difficult to carry through long-timescale programs, and even harder to do it efficiently unless it is a big existential issue on which everyone agrees (think Manhattan Project). Other countries, including those in Europe, tend to make multi-year budget plans for R&D that are set in stone, and a country like China, well, they can make a plan that extends as long as Xi is around. We just can’t compete with that if we are not going to make long-term plans and lock them in so that they can be carried through. Because the US budget process isn’t structured like this, there really isn’t an easy solution without some kind of fundamental change, perhaps even an amendment.

      We also have to allow that not every such initiative will succeed: just as with industry. Innovation is messy, private or public…

    2. spud

      you mean you did not believe this? SARC!

      “PRESIDENT CLINTON: (Applause.) Thank you very much. Thank you. (Continued applause.) Thank you.

      Thank you very much, President Brody, Dean Wolfowitz. I thank all the members of our administration who are here; Secretary Daley, who is coordinating our efforts in the Congress, Secretary Summers, Secretary Glickman. I want to say a special word of thanks to Ambassador Barshefsky, and National Economic Adviser Gene Sperling, who negotiated this agreement with China, and wrung the last drop of blood out of it. And my National Security Adviser, Sandy Berger — I thank him for his great advocacy. Ambassador Holbrooke. To our O.P.I.C. President, George Munoz.

      Chinese tariffs, from telecommunications products to automobiles to agriculture, will fall by half or more over just five years.

      For the first time, our companies will be able to sell and distribute products in China made by workers here in America without being forced to relocate manufacturing to China, sell through the Chinese government, or transfer valuable technology — for the first time. We’ll be able to export products without exporting jobs.

      Meanwhile, we’ll get valuable new safeguards against any surges of imports from China. We’re already preparing for the largest enforcement effort ever given for a trade agreement.

      “Of course, we’re going to continue our efforts not just to expand trade, but to expand it in a way that reinforces our fundamental values, and, for me, the way the global economic system must move. Trade must not be a race to the bottom, whether we’re talking about child labor or basic working conditions or the environment. The more we avoid dealing with these issues, the more we fuel the fires of protectionism. That’s why we’ll continue our efforts to make the W.T.O. itself more open, more transparent, more participatory, and to elevate the consideration of labor and environmental issues in trade.”

      “China will open its markets to American products from wheat to cars to consulting services, and our companies will be far more able to sell goods without moving factories or investments there.”

  18. Jason Boxman

    Despite the emergence of new variants, vaccines remain highly effective at reducing severe outcomes of COVID-19

    Wait, brain damage isn’t a severe outcome? What about long-COVID? The only outcome the Establishment cares about is ICU admission, unsurprisingly.

  19. Eclair

    Loved the National Park Service helpful hint: Hike in groups. Bears like options.

    One needs at least one good loud tears-in-eyes laugh per day! Thanks!

    Forwarded it to my daughter-in-law, an intrepid backpacker and traveler, except where bears are concerned. Hope she laughs.

    1. tevhatch

      Further down there was advise from the FS about not pushing down slower members of the party when being chased by a bear.

      It seems Twitter users didn’t catch the double humour, they assumed that the idea was unnecessary, that the bear would catch the slower member, when the idea is the person down on the ground is less likely to be the focus of a charging brown bear than a running hiker, so let them stay up and floundering.

    2. Alice X

      I’ll stab at refining the thought:

      Two hikers are in the woods when they spot a bear. The first hiker sets down his backpack, takes out a pair of running shoes and starts putting them on. The second says: why do that, you can’t outrun a bear. The first hiker replies: no, but I only need to outrun you. (rimshot)

    3. Wukchumni

      Saw 2 more bears yesterday in Sequoia NP, and lived to tell the tale, now @ 4 sightings this young summer

        1. Wukchumni

          Saw them eating in a meadow about 150 feet away and could’ve watched them for hours, as when a bear is eating they are oblivious to us.

          I’m guessing they woke up hungry after hibernating and as the snow has all melted fairly recently, meadows are the one place for sustenance @ present, and quite swampy too.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      “fraud and abuse WAIVER”

      Just let that sink in.

      I am trying to wrap my brain around what the official united states government form for requesting the ability to commit fraud and abuse would say, and who would sign it.

      I can’t. My brain just refuses to bend that way.

  20. Jeremy Grimm

    The government has declared that the Corona flu pandemic is over and today I learned that “High Inflation is Officially Behind Us”. I am so glad.\s

  21. tevhatch

    Another reason that Sanctions didn’t really work but did look like they work in South Africa is the children of the ANC leadership were coopted by being made offers to sit at the table if they would allow the corporate exploitations to continue after regime change. and Thus we have the South Africa today, a neo-liberal paradise, instead of a socialist republic.

    1. Aurelien

      Sanctions were one of the many things that brought apartheid to an end, insofar as they increased pressure on the educated middle-classes, especially the English-speaking minority, and made them feel deprived and isolated. The effect on the private sector (which always opposed apartheid partly because it was dominated by English speakers, and partly for simple economic reasons that there was a huge market not being tapped) was especially strong, notably in sectors like banking, agriculture and winemaking, where there were big export opportunities. I still remember the sense of euphoria among middle-class whites as commercial, cultural and sporting contacts started to be revived with the ending of apartheid thirty years ago. It wasn’t only sanctions, of course, and by themselves they would not have been sufficient: weariness with the war in Angola and the end of the Cold War were much more important, but they did play a part.

      1. tevhatch

        My language skills fail me again. They were a pressure to change, but were insufficient. It was capitalist class coopting the ANC leadership that was key, and even if sanctions had not existed, would still have been key. A neo-colony is always more productive for exploitations if fully coopted. White management could not achieve this, so they had to go. An appropriate takeover was arranged. Russia may yet throw a spanner in there by offering an alternative path to SA, but I suspect the rot is too deep now.

        1. Keith Newman

          I read an interview many years ago with a senior ANC person on why his government had taken a very pro-business turn once they achieved power. He said they did not want to become a target of endless US sabotage, like Cuba.
          Unfortunately I do not have a link or source, only my recollection.

          1. tevhatch

            Same here, I just recall seeing Joe Slovo explaining how much pressure Mandela and other old ANC members were under from their children and grandchildren, that and the fatal deal that had to be made to get out of Robin Island.

      2. Susan the other

        So I see our sanctions as ironic and it is no surprise they backfired because the effort was very last-ditch and it was not to end apartheid but to create a new one – that is an altogether new kind of one. A settlement apartheid – a firewall between financial systems. I’m very curious just how they are going to construe that one.

  22. Lex

    I’m not sure I agree with Big Serge on the draining of the reservoir making crossing the area easier. That soil is going to dry out slowly and strangely. Rains will probably make the soil behave extra strangely (good chance the silt layer goes hydrophobic). And it’s now wide open ground. It won’t be for long. Pioneer tree species will sprout pretty soon and may turn the now exposed land into a bamboo forest of many trees all exactly the same size.

    I have a suspicion that the much discussed brigades for the offensive were/are actually undermanned, perhaps significantly. To execute the offensive required more troops than Ukraine could realistically put in the field, but if forces around Kherson city and in Nikolaev oblast north of the city were moved they would leave the area susceptible to counteroffensive actions. Whether Kiev blew the dam up or overtopped the damaged dam by controlling water volume in the reservoir is immaterial. What it achieved was distracting Russian forces on the left bank near and below the dam and made their potential to cross limited. This allowed moving VSU forces east to the offensive zone. And they did move, they were moving almost immediately after the dam failure based on TG reports.

    1. OnceWere

      I think even ordering such an operation would be dangerous for Ukrainian command. While the Ukrainians have shown a lot of commitment to defending their country, it’s not ISIS jihadi driving an explosive-laden truck into Syrian army checkpoint indifference to certain death level commitment. A lot of reports around that suggest they are already having problems with combat refuseniks on the Zaporizhe front. Unless they’ve got some foolproof trick up their sleeves that guarantees success, then ordering a Banzai charge across kilometres of open terrain into the teeth of superior firepower seems a good way to provoke a 1917 moment.

  23. Roger Blakely

    Strategies of Denial – New Left Review.

    I cannot grasp what the author, Grey Anderson, is trying to tell me.

    I grasp the message of National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, which is that the US has done everything wrong since the 1970s (my lifetime).

    I grasp the idea that that the rise of China is forcing Americans to pull our heads out of our butts.

    Neoliberalism has failed and must be abandoned. But I see no sign that the people who run things will change course. I am having a hard time finding any hope for our collective future.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      i was born in 69…and i started noticing things that contradicted the catechism rather early on…like beginning in 2nd grade.
      but i didnt really put it all together until late-clintontime…and then especially after 9-11…
      i got dialup and my 1st computer in 99…when foia docs and myriad scholarly journals could be perused for free…to say nothing of the presence of actual journalists in the mainstream.
      the more i have learned, the more i am of the same opinion you attribute to sullivan(not so sure of his sincerity,lol…sounds like just another “learn to code” power grab, to me)…we’re frelled…and we have been frelled for all my life…because the elite didn’t want to pay americans, and wanted more than anything to remain in power…no matter the medium to long term cost to the planet or humanity or even my fellow americans.
      that oh so many people still cannot…or more likely refuse to…see it, is a testament to the 40+ year mindf*ck.
      i have a not stupid friend who is in ukraine right now…around Lvov…volunteering at a refugee kitchen.
      i didn’t even try to dissuade her…because the fundamentals of her reality tunnel would appear to be very different than mine.
      if she returns, i expect her to be even more unhinged than she already was….but still very intelligent, which is the hardest thing to grok.

      1. digi_owl

        Intelligence and wisdom are different DnD stats for a reason. ;)

        Sadly we can’t teach wisdom in schools, one is either naturally inclined or have to experience events first hand.

        1. barefoot charley

          We’re too hard on stupid people. It’s the smart ones that cause real trouble.

    2. KD

      My take on the article is that the author is saying, hey Left, the American Rescue Plan isn’t a chapter in Progressive Left legislative achievement, its passage was driven by the desire to maintain American hegemony worldwide, and in particular based on an attempt to economically hobble China’s rise. While Americans haven’t learned to hate China enough yet to back a war against them, in the present the US can use all available means to cripple China economically as well as deliberately provoke them, so that China when reacts, the media can jump on the reaction and start building that dossier of all the Chinese crimes to prepare the public and get them on board when it comes time for WWIII.

      The problem with the US strategy is we do not graduate enough engineers to be able to reindustrialize, our cost of living is too expensive to make it competitive for industry, you can’t get permits for heavy infrastructure, our military procurement is wasteful and focused toward obsolete and expensive platforms, Congress means that nothing can happen unless it is loaded up with expensive gimmes for congressional districts, among other things. Good luck Jake Sullivan with defeating China.

    3. digi_owl

      “A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it …”

      Seems to apply just as well to world politics. In particular as so much of the US Congress is apparently in their 80s-90s.

      1. jrkrideau

        Somewhere there is a US Gov’t webpage with info on US members of congress and senators including are or DoB. I scraped it and looked at ages. Unfortunately I did nod keep the data.

        Congress is overall not that old. IIRC there in a fairly reasonable bunching in the 40– 60ish range. The pattern is not that different than what we see in the Canadian House of Commons.

        I think that procedural rules are giving the octogenarians power, not their numbers but I don’t know much about how the US Gov’t functions.

        1. flora

          Committee chair positions in Congress (both parties) used to be based on seniority in service. Parties rewarded longtime serving members who’d been re-elected several times with committee chairs. That all changed in the 1990’s (?), when first the GOP and then the Dem parties made important chair positions and committee assignments dependent on how much money the politician raised for the party. Pelosi was House Leader due to her great fund raising skills. Of course, once a person has a chair position the donors pile even more money into their coffers. Pay to play even within Congress. Really, it’s an open scandal of … uh… what was it Mark Twain wrote? “There is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress.“ / ;)

  24. spud

    the fraud Bill McKibbens calling Robert Kennedy jr. a free market fraud, when not one word out of Bill McKibbens mouth what free trade has done to the planets environment. not one word that reversing free trade and every country trying to feed themselves and make as much stuff for themselves at home, then we would not have to worry so much about wheat from the Ukraine.

  25. spud

    the high inflation behind us article, WOW, roger corman could make a great sci. fi. out of that article.

    as long as you do not have to eat, drive, live in a home, require insurance of all kinds, no repairs of any sorts, stay completely healthy, go no where, sit in one spot and use nothing, inflation has now been tamed!

  26. Tom Stone

    It’s going to be a hellish fire season in California and I’m seeing a lot less clearing of high weeds than I have in the past.
    I wonder if the Feds will cut back their assistance now that it looks increasingly likely that Governor Noisome will be make a run at the Whitehouse?

    1. Oh

      The Google keyboards probably lift your keystrokes as you type and sell your e-mail. Anything by Google is meant to profit off of your data and destroy your privacy.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      Thank you for the link. I read the article too quickly to notice whether the Massie bill still had life. I believe a farm bill like what was described might have a good chance of passing if Massie rounded up support from the Representatives and with help from Senators representing farming areas. Big Ag has bought itself a fat place at the trough but I believe, and still hope, there are enough disgruntled voters living in rural areas to start a truly populist movement to counter Big Ag’s strangle hold on the fate of the fabled family farmer they trout out as a poster child for pushing their subsidies and monopoly protections. I suppose it might be possible to tack on some verbiage regarding killing practices — a gentle killing method [no Rabbis or Imams required] that could entice support from across the aisle.

      I might consider becoming a Republican if the Republican party became a conservative party without overhangs from DoD, the MIC, and other similar afflictions. [I might consider becoming a practicing Democrat again, if the Democratic party represented labor and the Populace without its Neoliberal afflictions.]

  27. spud

    Stollers article highlights how free trade builds gigantic oligarchies that are trying to control the world.

    looks like newly independent U.K. said no first. they would not have done that in the E.U. free trade zone.

      1. pjay

        I saw the NBC News “tribute” to Ellsberg. It was disgusting, because they tied the Pentagon Papers to the heroic actions of the *media*, Watergate, blah, blah,blah, with no sense whatsoever of the irony today. Needless to say they had nothing on what Ellsberg had been doing over the last few decades, such as his defense of Assange, work on nuclear war insanity, etc. We’ve truly come a long way.

  28. spud

    a’123 failure was a direct results of bill clintons free trade mania, and let the markets decide. can’t reverse none of the damage done to america, till we reverse all of bill clintons disastrous policies.

    disastrous to us, but not the financial parasites, nor the chinese communist party.

      1. Alice X

        Thanks. I will read it and hopefully investigate the author. CP has published some questionable pieces.

        1. pjay

          CP has published *many* questionable pieces, but this isn’t one of them. Douglas Valentine is perhaps the most knowledgeable and least compromised critic of the CIA around. His books are invaluable. There is a good argument that as important as they were, the Pentagon Papers were a limited hangout in a sense. A lot of what they left out was – as always – much of the role of the CIA. There were also some other important gaps in the record, such as most the crucial month of November 1963. And there were some related aspects of Ellsberg’s Vietnam service that remained mostly unknown.

          That said, however, Ellsberg’s actions since the 1970s seem to demonstrate his sincerity in working for peace and transparency. Peter Dale Scott, who had written an important critique of these missing elements of the Pentagon Papers when they were first published, was one of Ellsberg’s best friends, as were many other knowledgeable and prominent critics of the War Machine. He was also a tireless defender of Assange, Snowden, and other whistleblowers and champions of press freedom. So I’m inclined to give in the benefit of the doubt.

      2. Alice X

        That piece is from 3/8/2003. The author asks questions, but never came back to answer them. Or so it seems.

        1. pjay

          He has written several books that deal some of with the subjects mentioned in this essay in great detail, including The Phoenix Program, The Strength of the Wolf, and The Strength of the Pack. But for an introduction to Valentine I’d recommend starting with The CIA as Organized Crime, a collection of previous articles and interviews. Here is his website:

          As I say above, his critique of Ellsberg might be somewhat unfair; I personally think Ellsberg atoned for his earlier actions. But what Valentine says in his critique is accurate.

          1. ThirtyOne

            The CIA as Organized Crime by Douglas Valentine; Clarity Press [SC]; Copyright 2017 by Douglas Valentine; ISBN 978–0‑9972870–2‑8;p. 33.

            . . . . Maintaining Ellsberg’s image is mostly a business decision, because Ellsberg is what the Mafia calls “a money-maker.” If one of these Compatible Left media outlets has Ellsberg talk at a peace conference it’s sponsoring, a hundred fans will pay cash to see him. The Compatible Left is a business venture that’s dependent on the capitalist society within which it operates. At the same time, Ellsberg is a symbol of the illusion that change is possible within the system. He calls for reform, yes, and like the Compatible Left, he backs many important progressive programs. But more importantly, by covering up his own CIA connections, he’s reassuring the bourgeoisie that subscribes to these media outlets that everything they assume about their leaders is right. And that’s how symbolic heroes mislead the way. . . .

  29. some guy

    . . . . ” How Ukraine has become a magnet for Western neo-Nazis ” . . . . annnd . . .
    ” The war-torn east European country is a mecca for some of the most odious people on earth. What sort of threat does this pose to their home countries? ” . . . .

    Threat? Threat? If the right people play their cards right, this is an opportunity, not a threat. An opportunity to help all of ” some of the most odious people on Earth” get to the Ukrussiakraine Front and All all ALL get killed there, with not a single one surviving to come back and further contaminate their host countries of origin.

  30. Fastball

    If climate is a truly existential threat, Joe Biden is acting like he wants to kill the planet.

    Of course we non-madmen and non-madwomen also realize nuclear war is an existential threat, and there too, Joe Biden is acting like he wants to kill the planet.

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