Links 6/9/2023

Patient readers, i[pastes]f you see any missing “[pastes]f’s,” that’s because my keyboard is having an issue. –lambert

What Makes Foxes So Fantastic? JSTOR Daily

Octopuses Redesign Their Own Brains When They Get Chilly Scientific American

6 Swing States Will Decide the Future of Geopolitics Foreign Policy. Brazil, India, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, and Turkey. The deck: “These middle powers of the global south should be the focus of U.S. policy.”


US National Weather Service warns smoky haze likely to persist for days across the US, Canada FOX

Earth: A global map of wind, weather, and ocean conditions Cameron Beccario (QuarterBack). Animated. QuarterBack: “I have followed the world wind map site for years, and this is the first time I have seen NO WIND over CONUS.”

How safe is the air? Here’s how to check and what the numbers mean AP. Meanwhile, AP News has exactly one story on the Aranet4 for the whole of the pandemic: A press release.

Biden weighs in:

I went to The mask recommendation is buried two levels deep:

So is Biden modeling the behavior his own source recommends? Oh, hell no. Biden’s anti-masking Administration is resolutely committed to the bit.

How Restaurants Are Handling the ‘Unhealthy’ Smog Eater. Of course, if we had taken the oppportunity to improve ventilation and make masking a cultural norm a year or two ago….

* * *

Tim Flannery: No counsel of despair Actuaries Digital. Austrialia.

Deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon fell by 31% in January-May: INPE Anadolu Agency

Extreme weather expected as El Nino climate pattern returns, US forecaster says Reuters

Norway seeks to open vast ocean area to deep-sea mining FT


Breakthrough proposal would aid drought-stricken Colorado River as 3 Western states offer cuts AP


COVID cases trend down in all world regions Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy

Do pathogens always evolve to be less virulent? The virulence–transmission trade-off in light of the COVID-19 pandemic Biologia Futura. The Abstract in full:

The direction the evolution of virulence takes in connection with any pathogen is a long-standing question. Formerly, it was theorized that pathogens should always evolve to be less virulent. As observations were not in line with this theoretical outcome, new theories emerged, chief among them the transmission–virulence trade-off hypotheses, which predicts an intermediate level of virulence as the endpoint of evolution. At the moment, we are very much interested in the future evolution of COVID-19’s virulence. Here, we show that the disease does not fulfill all the assumptions of the hypothesis. In the case of COVID-19, a higher viral load does not mean a higher risk of death; immunity is not long-lasting; other hosts can act as reservoirs for the virus; and death as a consequence of viral infection does not shorten the infectious period. Consequently, we cannot predict the short- or long-term evolution of the virulence of COVID-19.

Predicted clinical and economic burden associated with reduction in access to acute coronary interventional care during the COVID-19 lockdown in two European countries (corrected proof) European Heart Journal. “The effect of a 1-month lockdown on STEMI treatment led to a reduction in survival and QALYs compared to the pre-pandemic era. Moreover, in working-age patients, untimely revascularization led to adverse prognosis, affecting societal productivity and therefore considerably increasing societal costs.”

Metformin reduces SARS-CoV-2 in a Phase 3 Randomized Placebo Controlled Clinical Trial medRxiv. From the Abstract: “Literature review identified metformin, widely known as a treatment for diabetes, as a potential suppressor of protein translation…. Our results demonstrate, consistent with model predictions, that a safe, widely available,12 well-tolerated, and inexpensive oral medication, metformin, can be repurposed to significantly reduce SARS-CoV-2 viral load.”


China’s central bank chief calls for ‘confidence, patience’ amid weak economic data South China Morning Post

Chinese investors flock to Riyadh conference seeking new markets, capital Channel News Asia

Taiwan denies being part of initiative to share real-time naval data with US, Japan Anadolu Agency


Malaysian, Indonesian leaders call on Myanmar junta to implement peace plan Anadalu Agency

Hanoi scorches under high heat VN Express

Commentary: Tokyo could win ‘not China’ global hub status – but it must want it Channel News Asia

New Not-So-Cold War

Russo-Ukrainian War: Dam! Big Serge. Excellent on the Dnieper watershed.

Kakhovka dam breach is a perfect crime Indian Punchline. Recommends–

Postmortem Analysis on Kakhovka Dam Breach Simplicius the Thinker(s)

Nord Stream revelations should chasten Ukraine dam ‘hot takes’ Responsible Statecraft. Commentary:

* * *

Ukraine Mounts Major Offensive Against Russian Lines in South NYT

Russia claims it repelled one of war’s most serious cross-border attacks AP. We know that Russia will “step back” and trade space for casualties. If they have not, then, no significant losses. On the other hand–

Russian forces battling Ukraine’s assault are discovering a nasty danger behind them, courtesy of the US Business Insider

* * *

Mick Ryan assesses Ukraine’s counter-offensive The Economist. An Australian general sets the baseline:

President Volodymyr Zelensky, his armed forces and their supporters in the West will be hoping for something similar. They need a decisive campaign that not only recaptures swathes of Ukrainian territory but also destroys a significant part of the Russian armed forces in Ukraine so they cannot conduct offensive operations again in 2023. The best case would see all of Ukraine liberated this year. The most likely is that large parts of the east and south of the country are liberated, placing Ukraine in a good strategic position to regain Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014.

Let me know how that works out….

What to watch as Ukraine’s counter-offensive heats up Axios. Another baseline: “Forcing major Russian retreats across the 20% of Ukrainian territory Moscow currently holds would indicate to Ukraine’s people and its Western backers that the war can be won.”

* * *

Nato members may send troops to Ukraine, warns former alliance chief Guardian. The deck: “A group of Nato countries may be willing to put troops on the ground in Ukraine if member states including the US do not provide tangible security guarantees to Kyiv at the alliance’s summit in Vilnius.” A guarantee of a Russian “maximalist stance,” since a security guarantee to a state which no longer exists becomes the ideal outcome for Russia.

Ukraine: cooling pond at Zaporizhzhia plant at risk after dam collapse – report Guardian. I think we’d better send in some NATO paratroopers.

* * *

As casualties mount, mobilisation tests Ukraine’s social fabric France24

An Unwinnable War Foreign Affairs

The Karabakh Problem and the Nature of International Conflicts Valdai Discussion Club

New World Order Holds Annual Meeting At Indianapolis Marriott The Onion


Trump charged over classified documents in 1st federal indictment of an ex-president AP. Apparently under the Espionage Act. Commentary:

Democrats lean into “more serious” Trump indictment Axios

‘Biden just secured Trump’s nomination,’ ‘War on the republic’: GOP unites in outrage over Trump indictment FOX

* * *

Burisma executive ‘paid Joe and Hunter Biden $5million EACH to end corruption investigations’: Republicans reveal contents of FBI document showing first family’s alleged criminal scheme Daily Mail

Joe Biden bribery allegations were brought to DOJ in 2018 — two years before similar claims by whistleblower NY Post

The Supremes

Supreme Court upholds Section 2 of Voting Rights Act SCOTUSblog

Digital Watch

Scientists claim >99 percent identification rate of ChatGPT content The Register. That was fast.

Investors must beware deepfake market manipulation FT

Ex-Google safety lead calls for AI algorithm transparency, warns of ‘serious consequences for humanity’ FOX

Evaluating Artificial Intelligence Responses to Public Health Questions JAMA. “ChatGPT consistently provided evidence-based answers to public health questions, although it primarily offered advice rather than referrals.”

Sports Desk

Lionel Messi Chooses Inter Miami Defector

Spook Country

Press Silence on Latest Twitter Files Scandal a New Low Matt Taibbi, Racket New

Zeitgeist Watch

The illusion of moral decline (PDF) Nature. From the Abstract:

In a series of studies using both archival and original data (n = 12,492,983), we show that people in at least 60 nations around the world believe that morality is declining, that they have believed this for at least 70 years and that they attribute this decline both to the decreasing morality of individuals as they age and to the decreasing morality of successive generations. Next, we show that people’s reports of the morality of their contemporaries have not declined over time, suggesting that the perception of moral decline is an illusion. Finally, we show how a simple mechanism based on two well-established psychological phenomena (biased exposure to information and biased memory for information) can produce an illusion of moral decline, and we report studies that confirm two of its predictions about the circumstances under which the perception of moral decline is attenuated, eliminated or reversed (that is, when respondents are asked about the morality of people they know well or people who lived before the respondent was born). Together, our studies show that the perception of moral decline is pervasive, perdurable, unfounded and easily produced.

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. timbers

    New Not-So-Cold War

    At the very end of Military Summary, Dima said Ukraine officials have requested peace talks with Russia provided Russia can change the mission of it’s SMO.

    Maybe the offensive ain’t going so well.

    1. The Rev Kev

      That is a strange one. I think that he mentioned that the Ukraine would be able to be part of NATO as well as the EU. So maybe Big Z is thinking of a frozen conflict with where the lines are right now? Kinda like Japan offering America – after the Battle of Midway in 1942 – to freeze the Pacific war and everybody keeps what they have. So does the Ukraine get to keep their Nazis too?

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        They may have internalized Putin as a land grabber and think they can make concessions when the SMO was about denying US platforms to launch a strike at Russian bases and control trade. The New Silk Road effectively ultimately will reduce ocean going commerce and the power of the US fleet and bases which are really about trade interdiction.

    2. ChrisFromGA

      Big, if not just another fake-out.

      I will say that the reports of Poland or Romania wanting to jump in solo if NATO cannot provide security guarantees in Vilnius ties up nicely with “Ye Olde Counteroffensive” failing to launch. They cannot accept defeat – they being the right-wing lunatics like Nuland who captured governments in the Baltics.

      The reports I am watching from the blogosphere are looking dire for Ukraine. Losses in men and equipment that are simply not sustainable beyond a couple more weeks.

      1. R.S.

        Just a media fake IMO. They didn’t “request peace talks”, it’s just Reznikov answering a press question. He said that if the Russians’ interests would change there might be some space for possible negotiations.

      2. ChrisFromGA

        I should have added, we are likely looking at the end of the Ukrainian professional army within a month. Hence, another country is needed to sacrifice it’s warriors to keep the neocon dream alive.

        If I were a male under 50 in Romania, Poland, or Lithuania, I’d be looking to get out to a Schengen zone country like Spain or Italy ASAP.

          1. The Rev Kev

            If those countries ordered some of their military units into the Ukraine, I would expect a high number of resignations from those troops and apparently this has already been happening in Poland. Those troops might remember how in the early days of the war the foreign legion of volunteers that was set up in a camp – but then received a visit from Mr. Kinzhal.

          2. OnceWere

            They wouldn’t have any more choice than the Ukrainians do if the Romanian government announced a draft and a ban on military age men leaving the country. I would hope that any Romanian president who tried that would get the Ceaucescu treatment, but who can really say these days. I wouldn’t have thought that the people of Ukraine would passively accept a suicidal war to the last Ukrainian against Russia in return for not much more than non-binding promises of consideration for NATO & EU membership someday down the track but I was completely wrong.

            1. Kouros

              It is true that the Parliament is made up of a bunch of clowns and crooks, but issuing a draft wouldn’t be that easy.

          3. Henry Moon Pie

            Are any of the “New Europe” going to be very anxious to go to war with Russia after seeing what’s happening to the Ukrainian “offensive?” Surely some in all of Europe are beginning to sober up after watching this. A bunch of countries who have done their best to vilify and strangle Russia, who have given much of their military equipment to Ukraine, who have small to tiny armies, might be reconsidering their relationship with Russia, the U. S. and the Brits.

    3. Ignacio

      In contrast it is interesting to read the Foreign Policy article linked today (An Unwinnable War) that in my opinion looks like a desperate call for and endgame that the West should look for. The article ends by saying that “The Biden administration should begin to fill that gap”. Problem is that the Biden administration doesn’t seem ready, not willing, to fill that gap anytime soon. Never while Biden’s dogs of war remain firm in their positions. So, as the very same article states, the endgame, if there is to be one, can so far be settled only by Kyiv in the Western side (and of course Moscow in the other side).

    4. Glen

      I’m waiting for Z to request alien spaceships when the F-16s don’t work out so well.

  2. griffen

    They got their man this time, I just swear it. Immediate money quote from a short read of the Axios…my view anywho…”Everyone is innocent until proven guilty, but we don’t need a judge or jury to determine…his destruction of decency …incompetence stains America…” Tweeted by a Democrat from Minnesota.

    I dare say he left off the “Our Democracy” phrasing. Donald Trump, prepare for hell. I am no fan of Trump but I’d vote for the most honest of assholes in 2024 to prove a point. Yeah he appears to have likely screwed around with classified documents. Next time keep them on a server.

    1. The Rev Kev

      The fun and games start when Trump starts calling in other ex-Presidents and witnesses to the stand to prove that this is common practice. Remember all those secret documents that old Joe had scattered around his home? What happens if Trump’s lawyers try to give him a subpoena? If old Joe receives it, them he is on the stand where any lawyer would be able to take him apart. If old Joe uses his secret Service detail to refuse to accept it, that is going to smell like two week old fish and will haunt old Joe’s campaign. If a court tries to rule that looking at what previous President’s did has no bearing on the case, that escalates the whole thing tenfold.

      1. Dr. John Carpenter

        I’d love to see it. I’m too cynical to think much will happen, but I have considered the possibility of the blowback from this being a lot of fun.

      2. Tom Stone

        The Biden administration has shown itself to be reckless to the point of insanity and the “Intelligence” Agencies and our Free and Fearless Press no more than the enforcement arm of the Blob.
        Biden guaranteed that Trump would not be elected again with almost the same words he used to guarantee that the Nordstream pipeline would never flow.
        Maybe we’ll get luck and avoid a Nuclear exchange….

  3. semper loquitur

    STUNNING UFO Bodycam, 911 Call From Las Vegas | Breaking Points

    Krystal and Saagar react to new UFO footage out of Las Vegas.

    A family calls 911 to report 10″ tall humanoids in their backyard after a fireball is seen by several witnesses dropping from the sky. A Ring camera picked up the sounds of something dropping and impacting the ground. A police officers bodycam catches video of the fireball itself. This Pentagon funding scheme is really heating up! ;)

    1. flora

      re: “This Pentagon funding scheme is really heating up!”

      Saw that on the news the other night. Only the spectators said (we are told) the things were 8 feet tall. When the officer’s body cam was blacked out when entering the back yard because they were on private property (we are told) my first thought also was “Pentagon funding scheme”. Yep, that sounds about right. / ;)

      1. semper loquitur

        One of the sons says “8..9..10 feet tall.” when the responding officer asks him what he saw. This video provides more details than the one above:

        ‘100% they’re not human,’ Witness details alleged alien encounter in Las Vegas

        Just before midnight on April 30, skywatchers across several western states saw a bright fireball streak through the sky. A police officer working in part of the Las Vegas valley caught a glimpse of the colorful fireball on his body cam.

        1. Jabura Basaidai

          folks seem to have their phone cameras ready for anything but for some reason nobody decided to take a video of these creatures – not buying it at all

        2. Jeff W

          At 4:15 George Knapp: “We’ve been told by Angel [one of the family members who says something crashed in their backyard] in multiple phone conversations that he shot video of the creatures. We haven’t seen it and we don’t know anybody else whose seen it so maybe he’ll release it at some point.”

          Somehow “maybe he’ll release it at some point” is not the conclusion I would have drawn.

          Meanwhile, Saagar Enjeti (who loves this UFO stuff) on Breaking Points reports on a Substack piece that says that the US has “12 or more” of these craft of non-human origin (“quite a number” as intelligence official David Grusch put it). From the Substack piece:

          [“Multiple sources…all either high-ranking intelligence officials, former intelligence officials, or individuals who we could verify were involved in U.S. government UAP efforts for three or more decades each”] said they had seen or been presented with “credible” and “verifiable” evidence that the U.S. government, and U.S. military contractors, possess at least 12 or more alien space crafts…

          I’m pretty open-minded about reports of UAPs—and I won’t exclude the Pentagon funding angle, either—but a dozen non-human-origin spacecraft (not “crafts”), with different “morphologies,” one that’s been flight-tested, all kept under wraps for decades, seems like a bit of a stretch.

          1. Jorge

            That many crashes on one little planet? Your technology is good enough to send your own people billions of miles through space, but you keep crashing here?

            It’s like Earth is the Bermuda Triangle of the universe!

          1. hunkerdown

            If there is not a bigger fish, someone has to make one up, quickly, so that human slavery may persist.

            Dude, even Greer won’t hunt on this field, and although I may object to his ideology I certainly would not impugn his research skills and his ability to see through mystery.

            1. semper loquitur

              At what recent point exactly has the enslavement of humanity been so threatened, has universal liberation been so close, that Hollywood style stunts like this have to be created to keep the masses distracted? Including dropping a widely witnessed flaming whatsit into someone’s yard? Which then goes away?

              I’m aware of Meister Greer’s position on UFO’s. I disagree with it. I have a lot of respect for the man, he co-wrote the book that got me into Magic, but I don’t find his take on UFO’s compelling.

              I’m not saying it’s aliens for sure but this is getting weird. Embrace it! It may be our best hope for survival!

                1. semper loquitur

                  Hopefully not spitted! ;)

                  Gary Nolan, the acclaimed medical inventor and Stanford professor, is also a UFO witness or “experiencer”. He has discussed the notion that they are here to harvest and study DNA. Nature being the biggest chemistry set ever, it seems to me that any advanced civilization encountering another would be very interested in understanding and perhaps manipulating that DNA. What better way to get a really “big picture” view of the long term capabilities and vulnerabilities of a civilization?

                  1. The Rev Kev

                    But what if those UFOs are just “teasers”?

                    ‘Teasers are usually rich kids with nothing to do. They cruise around looking for planets that haven’t made interstellar contact yet and buzz them.” “Buzz them?” Arthur began to feel that Ford was enjoying making life difficult for him. “Yeah,” said Ford, “they buzz them. They find some isolated spot with very few people around, then land right by some poor unsuspecting soul whom no one’s ever going to believe and then strut up and down in front of him wearing silly antennas on their head and making beep beep noises.’

                    ― Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

                    1. ambrit

                      And yet “crop circles” are international in distribution and often much too complex for the crude ‘construction’ methods those two display.
                      Something much more “interesting” than two old dudes faffing about in farmer Jone’s fields after dark is going on here.
                      The UK military seems to have captured some “circles” being “constructed” on video some time ago. (They set up camera positions on hills above fields in England with a history of “crop circles” appearing in them during the height of “circle season” one year.) As usual, the interplay of competing “agendas” has muddied these waters wonderfully.

                    2. semper loquitur

                      Someone somewhere said that the reason they are spotted and crash ships occasionally is that the aliens sent here to study us are bumbling graduate students.

                  2. johnnyme

                    I’ve always wondered if the uptick in UFO encounters, post-WW2, is simply a myriad of interstellar anthropologists all wanting a front row seat to see if another emergent technological civilization self-destructs.

                    Depending on the parameters of the Drake Equation, this could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for them for field studies.

    2. JW

      It was the latest Irish attempt to land a leprechaun on the sun, at night of course. 10” must have been a young leprechaun!

    3. tevhatch

      3 years ago apropos Afghanistan, I predicted the problem was it didn’t provide the right spending opportunities, and that full on hybrid war would be ramped up on Russia, then China (without dropping the war on Russia), then full on hybrid war on the EU (without dropping the hybrid wars on Russia and China) and then on South America (repeat ad nauseum) and finally the MIC-IMATT would have us declaring hybrid war on the universe, imaginary and real). Why, because of Capitalism and the need to grow profits. Other than getting the order on EU and China out, so far it looks like I’m doing good in the prognostication market. Anyone know if there are there any bookies who might take this on?

      Oh, that sucking sound, that’s the blood, sweat, and tears of the slave class being sucked through the grinders in the Congress kitchen disposal.

      1. digi_owl

        How long before the rest of the world view USA the same way it views North Korea, an impotent hermit kingdom throwing temper tantrums?

        1. tevhatch

          “… view USA the same way it views North Korea…” Never gonna happen. The North half of Korea, to the best of my knowledge, the PROK, has not participated in any war outside of Korea’s historic boundaries. (The ROK, ie: USA puppet in the South(What is it about South, Slaves, and USA?), has sent it’s troops to make war on Vietnamese, Cambodians, Afghans, and probably more that I’ve not heard about).

          Most of the world would be happy if the USA did turn inward. It would even make for great TV, an allegorical lesson and passion play, with all the bloodsheding. Old habits die hard.

    4. Otis B Driftwood

      I dunno. Could be they have come back after watching their experiment on earth turn into a sh!tshow.

  4. Wæsfjord

    That France24 video on the draft in Ukraine is fascinating.

    Considering this is a propaganda pience, a lot slips through. A young man being interviewed seemed surprised that the draft enforcement team didn’t just grab him as he says has happened (obviously they wouldn’t do that in front of a camera crew). Even though he is exempt, they still want him to turn up at the draft office in the morning – just so they know who is eligible and who not – yeah right. He just showed them his papers, how does doing it again the next day change anything?

    The going price (bribe) for getting out of the draft is $7,000, a years salary. Everyone interviewed was real patriotic but couldn’t go to the front right now – grandma’s sick, got a bad back, etc (very American, lol!). The word was out that draftees were cannon fodder who would be dead or de-limbed in a matter of weeks. A psychotic female recruiter made fun of their fears. A minister for propaganda said the reports from the front were Russian disinfo even though the WaPo and NYT has published accounts of Units suffering 80 to 100% casualty rates and being annhilated in mere weeks with no training. Slava!

    1. Samuel Conner

      Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori

      I imagine that that wears off at some point, and the people’s anger toward their own elites, and their elites’ “handlers”, will be aroused.

      1. tevhatch

        “Every time we witness an injustice and do not act, we train our character to be passive in its presence and thereby eventually lose all ability to defend ourselves and those we love.” Julian Assange

        Don’t hold your breath, these people have been thoroughly trained to ignore injustice and to even take part in it. That and cowardice will do the rest.

        1. Ignacio

          Not comparable. Ukrainians are not witnessing injustices. They are being sent to almost certain death. Judging by the reactions of some Ukrainian soldiers against some commanders as per the latest Simplicius The Thinker(s) post they might react if only to save their life. At least some of them.

          1. tevhatch

            They witnessed 8+ years of it.

            First they came for the Roma
            And I did not speak out
            Because I was not a Roma
            Then [they came for the Communists
            And I did not speak out
            Because I was not a Communist
            Then they came for the Socialists
            And I did not speak out
            Because I was not a Socialist
            Then they came for the trade unionists
            And I did not speak out
            Because I was not a trade unionist
            Then they came for the] Hungarians
            And I did not speak out
            Because I was not a Hungarian
            Then they came for the Russians
            And I did not speak out
            Because I was not a Russian
            [Then they came for me
            And there was no one left
            To speak out for me.]

  5. Greg

    Russian forces battling Ukraine’s assault are discovering a nasty danger behind them, courtesy of the US Business Insider

    Oddly truncated article, presumably to focus on American supplies.
    The telegram post the story is based on continued after “these aren’t too much for sappers” to say that German dm31 mines were also being scattered, and these are designed with a secondary mode to kill sappers. They can be disarmed only by removing all metal objects so as not to trigger its magnetic sensor.

    1. OnceWere

      Are randomly-strewn artillery-delivered mines even in theory a practical way to interdict paved supply routes ? The only reference I could find said “Remote Anti-Armor Munition (RAAM) mines mines are delivered by 155mm howitzer. RAAM should not be planned on hard surface roads or airfields as the mines will shatter or break when hitting asphalt or concrete.” So sounds like they’d have quite limited ability to prevent Russian movement in the rear.

      1. semper loquitur

        Sounds like a great way to create generations of untimely deaths and maiming amongst the locals…

        1. OnceWere

          Apparently these mines do at least have the virtue of disarming themselves after a set time period.

            1. The Rev Kev

              Of course there may be a high failure rate on those things. They have probably been in storage for years now so who know what condition they are in. I would guess that Russian soldiers are using their rifles to shoot and destroy those mine from a distance like so much tannerite. I saw them doing the same with those anti-personnel Petal mines.

      2. tevhatch

        See Petal mines. It’s easy to make mines that don’t blow up on hard cover, but burrow into it. A similar effect can also be achieved by use of time delayed ammo. Once it is buried, disarming it is right up there with playing Russian Roulette.

    2. Darthbobber

      And considering the frontage of the theatre, 10,000 of these is a pretty miniscule number.

  6. Henry Moon Pie

    “We know that Russia will “step back” and trade space for casualties.”

    Lao-Tzu would commend the Russian strategy:

    The expert in warfare says:
    Rather than dare make the attack
    I’d take the attack.

    Tao te Ching #69 (Le Guin rendition)

    This is but one example of such advice in the TtC.

    1. hemeantwell

      Falling back was part of the plan, but according to Simplicius’ latest Russian forces have held the front line. The attack unfolded like a turkey shoot, with Ukr armor columns getting stuck behind knocked out lead tanks because those in the rear were afraid of running into mines if they got off the cleared path. Even the most trained Ukr unit bumbled.

      I lived in a Midwestern rural area for several years as a kid. The scenery in the tank destruction videos is disarmingly familiar and engaging, it’s where I learned to enjoy being alive, and that makes this travesty even more impossible to grasp.

      1. ilsm

        the so called first line, so far most engaged is similar to skirmishers.

        their mission is to detect and slow the attackers.

        in the night attack the skirmishers called in arty, ka52 and employed atgm to great effect. seems few had to retire.

    2. The Rev Kev

      Seems that advice is flexible. Simplicius was saying in his latest post that the Russian MoD were telling their guys that they got three defensive lines so when things get serious, fall back to the next line and they’ll move up reinforcements to help do a defense in depth. But the guys on the lines like the 291st Guards Motor Rifle Regiment were saying f** that, and that they were going to hold the line and take not one step back. And by an large, that has what been happening along the front.

      Of course the Ukrainian officers have been helping by sending their men into minefields at night and not giving them artillery coverage or enough armour to do their job. It’s like it is their first day on the job and those officers have learnt very little over the past 16 months. So more and more units are rebelling at the waste of lives – their lives – and are refusing to follow any order that they deem suicidal.

      1. ambrit

        And not a peep out of anyone about “fragging” in Ukrainian line troops. Curious that.

    1. Alice X

      I have the vision of a Trump and Assange trial under the Espionage Act at the same time. Maybe it could bring about a repeal of that pernicious piece of legislative tyranny.

      1. Kouros

        It is curious that no SCOTUS has bother to look into that act to see how unconstitutional and against first amendment it is…

        1. flora

          Someone would need to bring a case and be found to have standing to bring the case. (I’ll spare you the US legal system’s requirements for ‘standing’ to bring a case details.)

          The Supreme Court is the third branch of US govt. While I’m often in disagreement with their rulings, I even more disagree with anyone who suggests the SC is passe and should be done away with. Go figure. There’s always the possibility we will have better Justices at sometime. See Justice Louis Brandeis, for example. “”Oh! But that might take years!” saith those who would cut off their noses to spite their faces, er, those who would abolish the SC because they do not get the rulings they want in the moment. I’m as frustrated as any in the current moment. But times change. As FDR found out that packing the Court for what I considered might have been good reasons then was a no go, so B has found out that packing the Court for what I consider bad reasons now is a no go.

        2. flora

          This the Assange case is currently before the UK bar, not before the US bar. This is a UK court decision. The US SC has nothing to do with UK case decisions.

    1. jrkrideau

      I am proposing that the annual (biannual? I don’t live in the USA) debt crisis ritual is a subtle plot by the People’s Republic of China, Russia and Iran to destroy the US working and middle classes that will lead to the collapse of the USA. /src

  7. Lexx

    ‘The illusion of moral decline’

    I would have said it was the loss of privacy, voluntarily and not. Absolutely everything about us has been ‘outed’, the information collected and sold for profit.

    We’ve learned we’re not a kind species, not nearly as virtuous as we thought. Kindness requires social effort and an emotional generosity few now feel they can afford; civility is declining and with that decline the perception that morality is too.

    Perhaps we should remain a bit of a mystery to each other where good intentions can be believed, rather than cynically wondering what/who they have buried under in the garden under the rose bushes.

    1. hunkerdown

      And you’d be wrong, thankfully. Only parasites, thieves, and self-entitled casuists are enabled by faith, and mystery only serves power. Homo would be in a better position by destroying faith and power entirely.

      1. Lexx

        I was thinking of Mariette Hartley who soon found her limit as a talk show hostess, when she began to compulsively say to her guests in the midst of oversharing, ‘you don’t need to tell us everything’ and the television executives watched what was happening to the ratings.

        Also ‘Rear Window’… wtf, Jimmy?! Did any of the people with their shades open have a reasonable expectation of privacy? Did Raymond Burr? Sure, he killed his wife, but no one notices the guy watching them with binoculars and thinks ‘well, that’s a little creepy’. Naive? Minding their business about who was minding their business? Narcissism portrayed as the norm even then?

    2. digi_owl

      We can be kind, when we have our basic needs of food and shelter secured.

      But when those are threatened, stress rises. And viciousness comes close behind stress.

      1. Lexx

        Yes, but what if the media is constantly trying to convince the public they’re not safe… because fear sells? Crises have a beginning and an end, likewise threats. This is something pervasive going on, a dragon the size of our planet without a name. If we can’t name it, we can’t tame it, the threat never ends. The populace then is in a constant low-level state of anxiety. If you’re not the hungry and unsheltered, you’re should be worried about joining their ranks. The anxiety of precarity can/is shortening the lives of millions and then the sub-clinical run up to the COD, not mentioned on the death certificate.

        Should we reserve kindness and generosity then for when things get better? Should we allow our government to tell us when it might economically appropriate to breath ease or when to clinch up? I think about these things while watching my garden and the birdfeeders, marveling like a fool at what deep pleasure I find there.

    3. Katniss Everdeen

      Together, our studies show that the perception of moral decline is pervasive, perdurable, unfounded and easily produced.

      So I guess the “moral decline” of the super algorithm enabled, studiously-ignored-by-media-and-meta-management instagram pedophile network is just a figment of someone’s fevered, “perdurable” imagination.

      Either that or the words “morality” and “pedophilia” have gone the way of the word “vaccine” in the definition department.

      1. flora

        In the current neoliberal economic order can any markets be immoral, including the markets for (insert worst possible markets for human dignity and welfare here)? Can any market making a profit be deemed immoral?

        (Of course you know the answer, but do our benighted politicians in thrall to or dependent upon the (both legal and illegal, spoken and unspoken) corporate largesses know the answer? Would they state the answer if it conflicted with their donor’s profits? )

    4. Mildred Montana

      From the excerpt of the abstract: “…we show that people’s reports of the morality of their contemporaries have not declined over time…” and, “…the perception of moral decline is attenuated, eliminated or reversed… when respondents are asked about the morality of people they know well…”

      I admit I did not read the article. Because I do not believe its conclusion. The PMC can publish and promote all the studies it wants on social behavior and I will still not believe any of them. Because they issue from the civil corridors of academe, where standards of morality (among them courtesy, considerateness, respect, kindness, etc.) are observed either sincerely or for selfish reasons cleverly disguised. I include all these things in my personal definition of “morality” because Lionel Trilling once wrote, “Manners are small morals.”

      The above quotes from the excerpt show the weakness of the argument. “Reports of the morality of their contemporaries…and people they know well” have not shown decline. Well of course. This is not support for the conclusion; it is just confirmation that the bar has been lowered. Who wants to think ill of one’s contemporaries and friends? We’re all in the same boat. Best to turn a blind eye.

      What would older generations have to say? That is the true comparison. Were they asked? Societal expectations change over time and certain behaviors, previously frowned upon, become accepted.

      I live in the real world. I’ve lived in it for seventy years. I invite the authors of this article to leave their PMC ivory tower and join me in a tour of my city to witness the vandalism, stranger attacks, littering, foul language in public, rudeness, aggressiveness, etc. etc. etc. and then tell me that it is not worse than it was fifty years ago.

      1. Jabura Basaidai

        MM – i’m 74 and agree – to view morality academically is purposeless without walking down the streets you speak of – i grew up in Detroit and as a kid i could take a bus to the foot of Woodward and walk north for miles without incident – everything is broken – and lets criminalize homelessness while we’re at it – there has always been profanity and bad behavior but didn’t seem to predominate like today –
        my wellspring – Bob Dylan –

  8. The Rev Kev

    ‘The Babylon Bee
    ‘The Russians Blew Up Our Dam!’ Says Zelensky While Still Holding Detonation Plunger Thingy’

    And just to show you that the Babylon Bee can’t keep up with the times, that Ukrainians want to be given a billion dollars so that they can work on rebuilding that dam, even though it is in Russian territory. You would think that there would be an international investigation about this ecological disaster, which the Ukrainians are making worse by releasing more water upstream, but you would be wrong. Türkiye proposed such an international investigation but Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmitry Kuleba has ruled that out as it saying that ‘It’s all just a game to indulge the Russians.’ Also there are no plans for any investigations anytime soon. Base on the non-investigations of the destruction of the NS2 pipelines by the UN, I doubt that they will press the Ukrainians-

  9. Eclair

    Off-topic, but I learned about this yesterday, when we visited Amish friends who just opened their roadside farm stand for the season (rhubarb and the season’s first strawberries, with fresh peas promised for next week.). They farm in Pennsylvania, where part of the state’s low income food assistance program has for years included providing $50 (big deal!) worth of certificates, redeemable at PA farms and farmers’ markets, for fresh, local produce. Helps the local small farmers, as well as insuring that low-income seniors get some fresh fruits and veg.

    People have been stopping at the stand, saying they have not received their certificates, available by June 1 each year. Due to ….. a paper shortage! Maybe there will be paper by July 1. In the meantime, let them eat ….. what, canned veggies from their local food bank?

    Just one of the many small indignities that are routinely imposed on the poor and working class.

    1. Alice X

      Michigan has $25 coupons each year for low income people to use at farmer’s markets. I look for them every year, but last year I missed the boat. You’ve just reminded me to email them.

      1. Eclair

        Alice X, let us know if there is a ‘paper shortage’ in Michigan.

        And, only $25 per year? What pikers! Have any of these state people bought fresh local produce lately? $25 per month would be more reasonable, if not $50 per month.

        1. Alice X

          Well, I appreciate whatever little scrap I can gather up in my little canoe. It all helps. I could get $80 or so in food stamps/mo., but I dislike the reporting requirements so much that I don’t do it. Anyway, Michigan got back to me and I’m on their coupon list, with no mention of a paper shortage, so thanks again for the reminder. :-)

    2. Not Again

      Yeah, but any low income person can still get a $7500 tax credit if they buy a new $80K electric vehicle thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act. See how the Democrats take care of their base?

      I wonder if you can use your EV tax credit to re-pay your student loans?

      1. ambrit

        Great idea. Pay off the student loan with tax credits and then go bankrupt on the consumer goods loans. I sense a business model aborning.

  10. pjay

    – ‘Nord Stream revelations should chasten Ukraine dam ‘hot takes’’ – Responsible Statecraft.

    I see the Quincey Institute as representing the absolute “left” boundary of *acceptable* foreign policy discourse. This is Valhors’ opening paragraph:

    “This week’s bombshell news that the CIA knew of Ukraine’s plans to sabotage the Nord Stream pipeline three months before it blew up hasn’t given pause to some Western political leaders and commentators who are already suggesting that Russia might be behind the Kakhovka Dam explosion in Ukraine on Tuesday.”

    So I guess this is the story we’ll be going with: Ukraine did it! Nordstream, attacks inside Russia, assassinations, the dam… We *tried* to help them but they just kept acting irresponsibly. Once again, our intentions were good, but we just overestimated the abilities of the country we were trying to save. Another tragedy for the US! We’re just too darned trusting and naive!

  11. The Rev Kev

    “Mick Ryan assesses Ukraine’s counter-offensive”

    I have come across work by Mick Ryan before as he is an Aussie ex-general. Just remember when reading this article that he is in fact a neocon and is in service of the empire.

    1. John k

      Good explanation of why he gets coverage.
      Granted, that’s true of most msm coverage of the war.

  12. R.S.

    Re: Nato members may send troops to Ukraine, warns former alliance chief

    “We shouldn’t underestimate the Polish feelings, the Poles feel that for too long western Europe did not listen to their warnings against the true Russian mentality.”

    Ah, “the true Russian mentality”? So he’s informed by the likes of Anna Fotyga. I recall her rants about “the authoritarian and imperial essence of Moscow”, being “an existential threat to humanity and international order”. (As well as that “[t]here are no such things as Russian gas, oil, aluminium, coal, uranium, diamonds, grain, forests, gold, etc.”, but that seems to be just the icing on the cake.)

  13. flora

    A couple of things:

    this from Mark Crispin Miller.

    “Our free press” hates the Kennedy campaign because they want to keep us PANICKING in ignorance

    And, here’s this kind of interesting idea from a citizen scientist who’s noticed something about the location of the Canadian and US and Mexico fires. I disagree with a lot of his assumptions but his plate edge locations and oil drilling sites idea is very interesting to me, especially if they are fracking well sites. Fracking is the cause of a lot of medium-small earthquakes. Oklahoma is a good example of that. Look up how fracking works. Look up lateral drilling. Anyway, he’s annoyingly hyper but it’s an interesting observation. He makes assumption and leaps I wouldn’t make. even so… Who knows, maybe there’s something to the drilling at the plate edge. It may be nothing or there may be a correlation. I’m not dismissing the idea out of hand. utube. The first 20-30 minutes are enough to get the idea.

    6/07/2023 — Earthquake activity across North America — Major Fires across whole plate – UNREST

    1. flora

      adding: volcanic activity does increase and decrease on a not yet well understood basis. I doubt oil drilling has anything to do with increased volcanic activity.

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