Links 11/10/2023

The future of money: a possible role for central bank digital currencies and their implications Bank of International Settlement. Presumably the smallest unit will be sufficient to purchase one insect, good eatin’. I mean, I woudn’t want to be forced to purchase more insects than I really need.

Jamie Dimon is selling his stock. These Wall Street bankers are doing the same FT


The Historic Claims That Put a Few California Farming Families First in Line for Colorado River Water ProPublica

Microplastic-eating plankton may be worsening crisis in oceans, say scientists Guardian


Semen proteomics reveals alterations in fertility-related proteins post-recovery from COVID-19 Frontiers in Physiology. N = 20 + 21. From the Abstract: “Our study suggests that the effect of COVID-19 on the male reproductive system persists even after recovery from COVID-19. In addition, these post-COVID-19 complications persist irrespective of the prevalent variants or vaccination status.”

Association of COVID-19 with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infections in children aged 0–5 years in the USA in 2022: a multicentre retrospective cohort study Family Medicine and Community Health (MV), From the Abstract: “COVID-19 was associated with a significantly increased risk for RSV infections among children aged 0–5 years in 2022. Similar findings were replicated for a study population of children aged 0–5 years in 2021. Our findings suggest that COVID-19 contributed to the 2022 surge of RSV cases in young children through the large buildup of COVID-19-infected children and the potential long-term adverse effects of COVID-19 on the immune and respiratory system.” I’m so old I remember when Covid wasn’t supposed to inf3ct chlidren at all…. 

We Interrupt This Mood of Denial to Update COVID’s Threat The Tyee

How lawmakers in Texas and Florida undermine Covid vaccination efforts NBC


Top US military official doubts China wants to invade Taiwan FT

How scary is China? The Economist

Report: Plateau China: Reform in the ten years after the Third Plenum of 2013 Sinocism

VW and Stellantis Show the Script Has Flipped With China’s Carmakers Bloomberg. The deck: “Western automakers are paying up for minority stakes in Chinese EV companies to gain access to their technology.” Pathetic.


Armed rebellion risks break-up of Myanmar: junta-backed president Agence France Presse

Myanmar’s Junta Is Losing Control of Its Border with China United States Insitute for Peace

China Signs Solar Power Deal with Myanmar Junta The Irrawaddy

Junta-led Myanmar holds joint naval exercise with top arms supplier Russia France24


The Anatomy of an Electronic Voting Machine: What We Know and What We Don’t  The Wire


Analysis: How would Israel find, map, take and keep Gaza’s tunnels? Al Jazeera. By Betteridge’s Law, it won’t. And I agree. From my armchair at 30,000 feet: I don’t see wunderwaffen or technical solutions doing the job, the IDF is casulties-averse, and we’re not dealing with Marines in Falujah, or with Russia and the Donetsk People’s Republic in Mariupol, or even Wagner in Bakhmut. We’re dealing with Israeli reservists, demoralized by colonial occupation, who haven’t been trained for urban warfare. Today’s must read. 

Israeli Forces Have Limited Time in Gaza, U.S. Officials Say NYT. Commentary:

Netanyahu says not seeking to ‘occupy’ Gaza but ‘demilitarise’ it Al Jazeera. Oh, right [nods vigorously]. 

* * *

Dark Brandon, even more dark:

Israel agrees to 4-hour daily pauses in Gaza fighting to allow civilians to flee, White House says Chicago Tribune

* * *

Israeli forces approach key Gaza hospital; what will they do? Reuters. It seems we have our answer:

Gaza War Crimes Make a Mockery of Western “Democracy” Black Agenda Report. Indeed:

Not clear to me where the “rules” in the “rules-based international order” come from, or even what they are.

* * *

The Middle East Crisis and Russia’s Eurasian Agenda Valdai Discussion Club

As Palestinians Confront a Second Nakba, the Relationship Between Israel and Hamas is ‘Complicated’ The Wire

Would you sell them out? Timothy Snyder, Thinking About…. 

* * *

Under the volcano Times Literary Supplement

The Colonizer-Indigenous Rhetoric Only Divides Lee Fang

House Votes To Censure 66% Of Americans For Antisemitic Support Of Ceasefire The Onion

European Disunion

Hungary’s Orban says EU must not start membership talks with Ukraine Reuters

New Not-So-Cold War

West will choke on Putin’s terms for Ukraine (video) The Duran, YouTube

Is an End Game in Sight for Ukraine? Consortium News

‘If Not Me, Who?’: As Ukraine Seeks Troops, Women Prepare for the Call NYT

Russia’s New Elite Emerges to Fill Void After Multinationals Flee Bloomberg. That was fast.

Biden Administration

How many in the U.S. are disabled? Proposed census changes would greatly decrease count Science. Jiggering the numbers.

Spook Country

Big Brother is Flagging You and The Tragic Victimhood of “Disinformation Experts” Matt Taibbi, Racket News


I Set Out to Create a Simple Map for How to Appeal Your Insurance Denial. Instead, I Found a Mind-Boggling Labyrinth. ProPublica. Movie interlude.

Patients don’t know how to navigate the US health system — and it’s costing them Vox. Same interlude.

* * *

Childhood Vaccine Exemptions Reach Highest Level Ever — Upping Risk For Outbreaks Of Polio, Measles And More Forbes. President Wakefield, good job.

The death of public health: Scientific advisors used for political preferences, Derelicts at the helm and More! The Covid-Is-Not-Over Newsletter

The Bezzle

Adam Neumann Is So Good at This Bloomberg

Digital Watch

‘ChatGPT detector’ catches AI-generated papers with unprecedented accuracy Nature. So the first cycle in an arms race…. 

Chatbots May ‘Hallucinate’ More Often Than Many Realize NYT

Book Nook

The Spy Novelist Who Loved Me Literary Review

The Gallery

Drip Painting Was Actually Invented by a Ukrainian Grandmother… Not Jackson Pollock Literary Hub

Our Famously Free Press

Big Tech Censors Crowder’s Release of Long-Awaited Nashville Shooter Manifesto Glenn Greenwald

Class Warfare

Rule #2:

I wrote this in 2014. It never occurred to met that “the rules” would play out in a global pandemic, amidst the death of millions.

More protests in Bangladesh as garment workers reject pay increase Channel News Asia

California’s scientist union plans to stage the first-ever strike by state civil servants Sacramento Bee

Think You’re Messaging an OnlyFans Star? You’re Talking to These Guys Vice

The Best Inventions of 2023 Time. From the Robotics section: “Robot Coworker.” From the CEO:  “The goal is that our general-purpose robots will be capable of doing any work that people can do.” Kill them with fire, and maybe life expectancy will stop dropping.

How to Become a Millionaire A Wealth of Common Sense

Stops Making Sense Small Things Considered. On the genetic code.

Determined: Life Without Free Will by Robert Sapolsky review – the hard science of decisions Guardian

For Martin Michael Smith, Crying in the Wilderness. This is a hymn, in “the old foursquare Common Metre.” Perhaps some readers might like to try their hands at the form?

Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. bwilli123

    Re Ukraine. The US might be pushing Zelensky towards some sort of end-game negotiations, but I’d wager that when it comes to any signed documents that mark the end of the war the Russians will insist on American signatures (as well as Ukrainian)
    Think of USS Missouri type pics (for the benefit of the global majority)

    1. The Rev Kev

      In an election year? Biden would absolutely refuse and would have US troops & spooks just drive over the border into Poland and leave the Ukraine to it’s fate. No wait, change that. They would first tell the EU that the Ukraine is their problem as it is in Europe and the US has nothing to do with and will do an Afghanistan.

    2. timbers

      No, that would elevate the US out of the ceasepool it placed itself into. Also not agreement capable. Instead, Russia would be well advised to rub the American and NATO defeat in their faces. Perhaps hold a party entitled “We Beat America and they can’t stand it!” similar crass “up yours” event. The West has nothing to offer Russia in its present form. Pretending it does unduly grants it honor it never deserved.

    3. Louis Fyne

      that’s why it’ll be a permanent cease-fire after a defacto unconditional surrender, probably after a coup….not armistice because Brussels and DC won’t sign.

    4. ilsm

      Russia’s going in position should be the return to Yalta 1943: the Reich sundered to 4 “zones”, never to be united, with no military and minimum industry (expensive LNG is doing this anyway). UN peacekeeping force paid by US.

      Every entity from Warsaw Pact/former soviet republics out of NATO.

      US occupation positions in Europe, UK, Korea, Japan, Philippines, Guam, Marshalls, etc. evacuated….

      US “aid” and exported weapons zeroed.

      The above is as doable as US keeping an agreement!

      1. Polar Socialist

        …the Reich sundered to 4 “zones”, never to be united…

        The agreement in Yalta and Potsdam was actually not to split Germany. The whole West Germany thing was created by the US State Department (taken over by the Council of Foreign Relations) to save US economy from post-war depression and against all the commitments made during the war.

        1. JBird4049

          The more I read about the State Department’s actions over the past, say 140 years, the greater the desire to just sack the entire department and start over. Whenever I do any deep reading of American imperialism, that department, with the urging of whatever wealthy oligarchy exist as well as individual members of Congress, is always involved. Once the CIA gets going, they are deeply connected to State. It is just fricking amazing and this is usually ignored, but it is there if you dig. Talk about a nexus of evil.

          I think I need to add some books of the history of that department on my book piles instead of just running it from everywhere else.

        2. ilsm

          Roosevelt went to Yalta in early 1943. He and Churchill stopped in North Africa to confer with Ike and staff.

          The agreement that time was softened in the next Yalta, and trashed after Roosevelt’s death.

          Potsdam was a severe disappointment to Stalin and the conditions he wanted wrt demilitarizing Germany, and a long buffer for Soviet Union.

          Would the Cold War have happened had Roosevelt lived?

          1. digi_owl

            FDR was a dead man walking during the last election.

            Why the fat cats managed to force Truman on him rather than let him keep Wallace.

            A better question would be if the nukes had been dropped and the cold war happened had Wallace been sworn in as POTUS rather than Truman.

    5. Henry Moon Pie

      “Think of USS Missouri type pics”

      But this time, do it from outside what used to be a McDonald’s in Moscow in “celebration” of The Great Sanctions that were going to undermine Putin using Big Mac Fever. Perhaps the Russians aren’t as easily led by their noses as elites assume Americans to be.

      1. tegnost

        Who ever could have expected russian capitalists to out perform socialist western multinationals? (kind of a swipe at socialism, but one can debate whether or not it’s deserved criticism). Not on my bingo card, that’s for sure.

        1. John k

          I would have said, ‘russian capitalism easily beat us short-term neoliberalism’, the latter hardly a workers’ paradise.

    6. Feral Finster

      Why? Has American demonstrated some kind of scrupulous compliance with its international obligations that I am not aware of?

      Biden could pinky swear a treaty, ratified by a unanimous Congress, and the United States would break that treaty the moment it seemed convenient.

    7. Roland

      I believe that the Western leaders will escalate the war. They want to rule the world, and have a self-conceit tantamount to a religious fervour. Today’s Western leaders are neither rational nor humane. Tremendous military and economic resources remain at their disposal. Domestic dissent is being openly repressed.

      Our leaders want what they want, and they will kill to get it. They will not give up easily. They do not care what anybody else thinks.

      This war has gone through several stages, each variously appearing to favour one warring party or another. But in the bigger picture, it’s going to go nuclear, with innumerable scenarios for what that might look like.

      I’ll just say that you had better like your normalcies on the novel side, because a whole bunch of New Normal is coming your way.

  2. The Rev Kev

    “The Best Inventions of 2023 Time”

    ‘From the Robotics section: “Robot Coworker.” From the CEO: “The goal is that our general-purpose robots will be capable of doing any work that people can do.’

    Hopefully they will be more friendlier than the one in South Korea that saw a human worker, identified the man as a box of bell peppers, lifted him into the air and slammed him onto a conveyor belt which led to his death due to severe crush injuries to his head and chest-

    1. griffen

      I’m always inclined to think of an evil robot in the mold of Ash, your friendly science officer. Preserve human life? Eh, that’s second on the list!!

      Farmerless farming. Meatless imitation meat. The mind wanders, what will they think up next!

        1. herman_sampson

          If the robot coworker can do it all, why not use them to replace management and the executives? Imagine the cost savings. But since corporations never outsourced management to India/ Bharat’s MBA grads, I doubt that will happen.

        2. griffen

          Just occurs to me, some roles need to be performed absolutely by a trained, careful human. Like at the dentist, the dental hygienist that was working to clean my toothies yesterday afternoon, following a neglectful delay of about two+ years by yours truly.
          Fortunately I only have to worry about ordering a guard to wear while sleeping. Lest I damage my back molars and have costly crown repairs.

          It’s a good thing I don’t have a regretful habit of smoking, vaping or consumption of Mountain Dew. Just some coffee in the morning and beers in the evening.

            1. digi_owl

              That is not a robot in the autonomous sense or anything.

              Effectively they are gearing for the surgeon’s fingers so that they can make far more delicate actions than normal dexterity allows. And do it from angles that would require some contortions either from surgeon or patient otherwise.

              It is still ultimately a human that decides what and where to cut.

    2. digi_owl

      Identified nothing.

      This was a robot arm set up to grab object at A and drop it off at B. All that happened was that he triggered the sensor detecting a ready object at A.

  3. Samuel Conner

    > The US chose to sacrifice the vulnerable for the economy.

    The thought occurs that this reality interacts in … interesting … ways with the review of the Sapolsky book on “free will.”

    Taking the point of view argued in that book, the US elites who set the policies that preferred the “health” of the economy to the health of the human population did not have much choice in the matter.

    My personal “take” on the “freedom” question is that people have significant ability to pick the path by which they pursue what they want, but they have very little power to change the character of what they want. (Amusingly, this is an ancient question that has occupied dualists as well as materialists; I think my view is approximately parallel to what one finds in Martin Luther’s Bondage of the Will, though I did not finish that as ML’s rhetoric toward his target, Erasmus, was so off-putting.)

    That said, the brain is plastic and if one wants to be different, I think it is possible to change, though that may be very difficult.

    Regarding our elites, I have no idea how to find and elevate that (probably very small) subset of sociopaths whose desires are approximately aligned with the well-being of the rest of us.

    1. Random

      The issue with “free will” is that your “wants” are likely determined externally.
      Either by the way of how your brain physically is or external stimuli. At no point is there a space for you to make a different decision given the exact same circumstances.
      Don’t think that should be affecting our thinking on morality and accountability though.

      1. Samuel Conner

        Agreed. In thinking about my own internal world, I’ve come to a place where “heuristics” (call them “moral principles” if you prefer) seem very important as a restraint on possibly ending up in a bad place in terms of my thinking and conduct toward others.

        It brings to mind a conversation in a (IMO) wonderful episode of Doctor Who:

        Madame Govarian: “The problem with good men is that they have too many rules.”

        The Doctor: “Good men don’t need rules, and today is not the day to find out why I have so many”

      2. digi_owl

        I dunno, history has maple examples of people overriding the want of a comfortable life in order to make a principled stance.

        But it takes far more mental effort than most that talk about free will acknowledge.

        The sad thing about modern life is that science has uncovered a myriad ways for bypassing will and go straight to instinctual desires. And it gets abused in order to fatten the wallets of a small percentage ever more.

    2. Craig H.

      The brain is connected to the body. Change the body and you can change the mind. First principle of Wilhelm Reich’s techniques.

      They burned Reich’s books and records and imprisoned the man. If you want to explore it you are going to need some motivation. If you are destroying your family life with your alcohol consumption that could possibly be enough. There are a very very small number of Reich students remaining. The ones I have known do not speak his name.

    3. Susan the other

      Sapolsky’s point seems true enough – that “free will” is non-existent because we humans are pre-programmed to react beginning with our genome and extending all the way to our synapses. Which is very interesting research. Free Will is a romantic fiction. Hard to imagine what 8 billion free-wheelers would do to this hapless planet. It kind of explains why democracy isn’t very effective in a world of various advantages. One over-riding mechanism of all life which both promotes choice and absence of choice simultaneously is evolution. Schroedinger’s Evolution, right? Change itself is the underlying condition. We don’t have a very refined appreciation of it. Robert Plomin in Blueprint tells us that everything we are, and everything we aren’t, is genetic. Or simply survival. Leaving a smidge of room for epigenetics, given enough time. One new take on the existence of free will is what Michio Kanu described as the possibility contained in quantum AI – that we could enter some idea or model of human action and let it run through the entire watershed of probable consequences and wait to make a decision until we got the readout. Then we could at least select the lesser evil.

      1. Solar Hero

        Well Gregory Bateson contends that evolution and intelligence (even properly understood as a human attribute) are the same! Just sayin’ there’s a lot of frames out there!

        I mean go ahead and stop using heart to make decisions, but nothing good comes of that. To proclaim that there is no free will is the surest mark of free will.

    1. CanCyn

      I have come to think that rules based order is whatever the ‘rulers’ decide to implement. Apartheid and slavery were both part of rules based order were they not? There is nothing inherently just or right or moral about rules based order. Until people start talking in terms of justice and peace, I don’t see how the situations where war and conflict are occurring can be solved.

    2. ilsm

      US’ rules are based on the Melian dialogue, Thucydides’ Peloponnesian Wars*.

      The essence: In dealings between states, the powerful direct the weak accept.

      The Melians, a city state that resisted the Athenian/demos’ empire, were eliminated in the end!

      *On reading list of US military schools.

      1. Harold

        The fact that “might makes right ” is taught in our military schools shows the intellectual bankruptcy of our present Kakistocracy. Athenian rule over Melos was not long. The Athens were defeated and the Spartans took it over. (The island was located off the coast of Sparta, to which it had historic ties). Not long afterwards all of Greece lost its freedom under the rule of Macedon.

        1. Feral Finster

          The present rulers are too busy masturbating at the thought of All That Power to think about what happens next.

          For that matter, the track record of cult leaders is not encouraging, but there never seems to be a shortage of candidates for this rile.

      2. Roland

        Books VI & VII of Thucydides, concerning how the Syracusans decisively broke the hegemonic power of Athens, form an excellent, and nearly comprehensive, textbook on warfare in all of its aspects: political, diplomatic, economic, religious, socio-cultural, military and naval. Thucydides does it in only about 120 pages, although admittedly it is an advanced work.

        It should be on everybody’s reading list.

    3. lambert strether

      Ambitious and a rollicking good yarn but completely devoid of sourcing, and depending at key points on the unserious “deep state.” It’s also prone to CT.

    4. hemeantwell

      I give another Perry Anderson article a recommendation, this from the most recent New Left Review that walks you through the twists and turns of how international law has always cleaved to providing legalistic rationalizations for theft and murder, with the greats of law engaged in ad hoc rummaging in a toolbox of excuses.


      Grotius is mainly remembered, and admired, today for his treatise on ‘The Law of War and Peace’—De iure belli ac pacis—of 1625. But his actual entry into international law, as we now understand it, began with a text that would come to be known as ‘On Booty’—De iure praedae—written twenty years earlier. In this document, Grotius set out a legal justification for the seizure by a captain of the Dutch East India Company, one of his cousins, of a Portuguese ship carrying copper, silk, porcelain and silver to the value of three million guilder, a figure comparable to the total annual revenue of England at the time—an act of plunder on an unprecedented scale, causing a sensation in Europe. In its fifteenth chapter, subsequently published as Mare Liberum, Grotius explained that the high seas should be regarded as a free zone for both states and armed private companies, and his cousin was well within his rights—so providing a legal brief for Dutch commercial imperialism, as Vitoria had for Spanish territorial imperialism..

      1. communistmole

        Grotius international law is nothing other than an attempt to mediate intra-imperialist conflicts between competitors of approximately equal strength in a way that prevents the opponents from threatening to destroy each other in endless wars. The Hobbesian war of all against all should be suspended without having an absolutist state at hand. The only other alternative that could be considered is Kantian cosmopolitanism, whose eternal peace is unfortunately based on illusionary assumptions.
        Capitalist relations imply legal norms (an early example of this Marxist thesis: Evgeny Pashukanis), ergo legal norms can never be understood independently of changing social relations as relations of power.
        In Marxism this theory is represented by the somewhat clumsy construction of a base (Basis) that requires a superstructure (Überbau) and its relationship as interaction (Wechselwirkung).

    5. Es s Cetera

      “Rules Based Order” has always reminded me of “you live in my house, you follow my rules” and I have a feeling many Americans raised by abusive parents carry forward the cycle of abuse, manifesting it at the international level.

      1. pasha

        As a one-time student of Calvin’s Institutes and a lover of the comic strip (especially the snowmen!) I approve this message

  4. zagonostra

    >Determined: Life Without Free Will by Robert Sapolsky review – the hard science of decisions Guardian

    A familiar paradox lurks here, as with any discussion of how we ought to respond to the absence of free will: if there’s no free will, surely we’re just going to respond however we respond?

    It’s a paradox that goes back to the ancient Greeks and the statement by a Cretan that “All Cretans are liars.” It doesn’t work, statements like we have no “free will” will always get tangled up in self-reference wormholes. And, it’s what made Whitehead and Russell’s Principia Mathematica a failure and why late Wittgenstein rejects his own earlier works.

    1. Adam Eran

      Yep. If someone says “there is no free will” how do we know he wasn’t just pre-programmed to say that?

      Also, not even physics and mathematics insist they are omniscient, between Godel and Heisenberg, there’s at least some wiggle room.

  5. RabidGandhi

    I was feeling pretty glum today so I decided to punish myself by reading the comments on that Tim Snyder Ukraine piece. TLDR: the internet is a harrowing place. A few select pearls:

    – ‘Maybe I missed it when NATO attacked any other countries?’

    – ‘our defense treaty with Taiwan would require us to have a full blown shooting war with China’

    – ‘Frankly, I had never heard of the “Nuland phone call”’

    – ‘And now, any attempts by Catalans to forge a distinct identity is repelled by Madrid.’

    -When NBC asked Zelenskyy about what to say to Americans who experience high prices for stuff, I thought he would lose his cool. What does the American life style have to do with Ukraine fighting an existential war against Russia, a country with a historically resolutely anti-Democracy, anti-Capitalist, anti-Freedom bias? Americans have the option of stopping their purchases of things they consider too expensive and, thus, driving the prices down.’

    – ‘It seems that each time Professor Snyder posts an article, I think this is his best yet and cannot be topped. Then he goes and tops it!’ [movie interlude]

    I know, it’s Snyder, so what do you expect, but I’d still highly recommend it to anyone suffering from brain cell surplus.

    1. Alice X

      >but I’d still highly recommend it to anyone suffering from brain cell surplus.

      Wellie, that’s not me? ;-)

      I generally steer clear of Snyder after watching several episodes of his history of Ukraine.

    2. pjay

      Whenever I see something by Snyder I have this masochistic compulsion to read it, just to see how absurdly biased his comments are this time. But I have to say that the current piece is one of his worst yet. I was going to include a quote or two to illustrate but literally every paragraph was so wildly delusional that I gave up.

      We should bear in mind that Snyder is not just some neocon pundit, but “the Richard C. Levin Professor of History at Yale University and a permanent fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna.” His “expertise” is in Russian and East European history. He also “serves on the Committee on Conscience of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum” and is “a member of the Council on Foreign Relations” (from Wikipedia). I’m sure it must be frustrating for him that such sterling expertise is being ignored by an increasingly skeptical media today.

    3. lyman alpha blob

      Snyder gets the chef’s kiss for writing –

      “Imagine we were a country that cared about war crimes”

      – a month into the US financing, defending, and at least indirectly and possibly directly perpetrating said war crimes in Palestine.

      Guess we will all have to keep imagining such a country, Timmy.

      1. lyman alpha blob

        And I have to say I wasn’t familiar with Snyder previously. When I looked him up just now, I find that he was the author of the Trump-deranged, execrable little tomelet that some relative who clearly didn’t understand my politics at all gave me as a gift during the Festivus season several years ago, called On Tyranny.

        Wish I could remember who gave it to me so that this year I could give them a copy of Harry Frankfurt’s masterful essay On Bullshit in return.

    4. Trending

      “What does the American life style have to do with Ukraine fighting an existential war against Russia?”

      Why speculate? Go straight to the top:

      “President Biden on Tuesday issued his most expansive warning yet that there would be a significant price for Americans to pay as a result of the war in Ukraine, one that he argued was worth the cost in the name of supporting a fledgling democracy.”

      “On a day when he announced the next escalatory step — and the one most likely to reverberate in the United States — Biden also called for further sacrifice.
      “This is a step that we’re taking to inflict further pain on Putin, but there will be costs as well here in the United States,” Biden said as he announced a ban on Russian oil imports. “I said I would level with the American people from the beginning. And when I first spoke to this, I said defending freedom is going to cost. It’s going to cost us as well in the United States.”

      We are willing to sacrifice for Ukraine. Not one discretionary purchase until February 2024. Ukrisrael needs our steel for bombs, our chemicals for explosives, our fuel for rocket fuel. Don’t forget to recycle!

      1. A.D. Katz

        In other words, a sit down strike {on your wallet} until the wars are over?

        Easy way to protest. Besides, as Marie Kondo demonstrated, most people have too much stuff anyway. Goodwill is overflowing with items you might want.

        It feels really good to get rid of things you haven’t used in the last couple of years. Storing a hundred bucks worth of stuff you probably never will use on ten thousands of dollars worth of space in your house is really foolish.

      2. eg

        I suspect that Biden will be disappointed with the American people’s, er, enthusiasm for said sacrifices. Good luck with that, Joe …

  6. The Rev Kev

    “The Anatomy of an Electronic Voting Machine: What We Know and What We Don’t”

    I think that the only place that they use these things here in Oz is in Canberra which is the nation’s capital. The people there mostly work for the federal government and it is often noted that they will in elections and the like vote the opposite of the rest of the nation. So kinda like Washington DC. The Australia’s Electoral Commission kept the encryption key for those systems private to ensure security. Yeah, about that-

    As is so often said here – paper ballots hand-counted in public. And no digital ballot counters either. Hackers have not yet found a way to hack paper nor have political parties. Bonus points for paper ballots being far cheaper to use than electronic voting.

  7. Quentin

    November 22 we are voting for a new government in the Netherlands: pencil marked paper ballots counted by hand. The Dutch are evidently too backwards to design super-duper ‘voting machines’. Quaint, ‘tisn’t it?

    1. marym

      How many races are on each ballot and/or how many separate ballots are there? In other words, how many “check marks” does a voter have to make, and a counter have to count in a typical election?

      (I’m interested in possible methodologies that would scale for hand tabulation of US elections.)

      1. Pat

        Along with Lambert’s split ballots, I would also suggest a less visually cluttered ballot. You could have multiple races on a ballot that can be read and counted quickly with a simplified design.

        Ballot design isn’t talked about much, Florida’s butterfly ballot aside, but we really should. It is difficult because it isn’t unified really, but at least here in NY, it is more manipulative than we realize.

      2. Quentin

        This time each ballot lists 37 parties. The voter gets to vote for only one. The ballot is about the size of an open NYTimes double page from years ago. The voter is handed the ballot in a folded state. In the privacy of a small booth the voter unfolds the ballot, marks it with the small red pencil provided with the ballot (filling up a small blank ring), folds it up again according to the original creases and goes to deposit it in a box. By the way, the voter receives an announcement of the election mailed to their home address beforehand; this must be presented at the polling place in return for the ballot. Official documentation is required of each voter: driving license, passport, whatever. Everyone finds the requirement for identification perfectly uncontroversial.

        1. marym

          Thanks for the detail. In earlier days when the US had voting machines with mechanical levers it was possible to pull a single lever to vote for one party’s entire slate (many offices), or separate levers for each office. I don’t know of any party level voting capabilities now.

    2. caucus99percenter

      I helped a blind Dutch friend vote once. Interesting fact: the special pencils the polling place provides mark the ballot in red.

          1. marym

            This also reminded me of a hand re-count a few years ago in AZ. The tabulating machines only recognized blue or black ink, so they restricted pens used in the hand re-count area to green ink. It would be a good a precaution to distinguish colors used for voting and colors available during the counting.

  8. John

    Anyone who has paid the least attention to what the PRC has to say about Taiwan knows that China wants it to be politically reunited with the mainland and also knows that military invasion is the last and worst option for accomplishing that. The Island and the mainland are increasingly intertwined economically. Were the US government not beating the war drums … which it does in the absence of any real military options … and ginning up anti-China hysteria there would exist no “crisis.” My only question is what do the owners of the US, the Hedge Funds et al, calculate they have to gain by posing China as a rival, a threat, the latest fearful object beyond the ever swelling flood of the so-called “defense” budget?

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Desperation of the free trader is at play. It’s not just the usual military contracts but the service industry we’ve “built” our gdp on. They want to force passage of anti-China laws to protect Cisco, Microsoft, and so forth from going the way of GE. What about industrial policy? That would require work.

      Why hire an American law firm, especially with the US in decline? This is the fear. The US isn’t an autarky anymore. What happens when Chinese Chris Pratt replaces Chris Pratt? “They took our jobs” is coming for the architects of free trade. They can’t say this directly because the people worried about rising China are the ones who told layed off workers to learn to code.

  9. Maxwell Johnston

    Timothy Snyder’s “Would you sell them out?” is wildly delusional but very much worth a read, because it’s a useful insight into the mindset of a certain chunk of the USA’s population. Especially its PMC, among whom Snyder is an influential opinion maker. The comment section is particularly enlightening: the fact that Hamas attacked on Putin’s birthday (7 October) is taken as proof positive that…..I won’t even continue, we all know where this is going. Russiagate is alive and well with these people. And Snyder is an Ivy League professor and famous author.

    Really disturbing stuff.

    1. Chris Smith

      Ugh! Reads like some W-era agitprop. I’m surprised he did not say the actual words “they hate us for our freedoms.” Just plain sick.

    2. pjay

      I did not see your comment before I posted mine above. I thought it fitting (and humorous) that I independently used the same phrase – “wildly delusional” – to describe Snyder’s screed. I also share your despair that someone in such an elevated “scholarly” position can push such propaganda with impunity. Disturbing indeed, but unfortunately not surprising.

  10. The Rev Kev

    “Israeli Forces Have Limited Time in Gaza, U.S. Officials Say”

    You can tell that the New York Times is not really concerned about the 11,000 Palestinian deaths much less the number of women and children killed. They want this war over by Christmas so Netanyahu can call it a win, give northern Gaza to the settlers and then scuttle any moves to get rid of him. Their real worry comes at the end-

    ‘Yaakov Peri, a former head of Shin Bet, the Israeli internal security service, said the military and intelligence agencies would kill the Hamas commanders who carried out the Oct. 7 attacks. But like General Brown, he worries that Israel is creating a new generation of fighters. “We’ll be fighting their sons in four or five years,” Mr. Peri said.’

    Peri does not really understand the situation. Those 11,000 deaths will not create just 11,000 future fighters. Israel should be so lucky. We are seeing hundreds and hundreds of millions of people watching Israel commit open genocide without a hint of apology but with glee instead causing outrage. And not just the Global Majority countries but in the Collective West too. In addition, the Likud has declared Russia an enemy of Israel for not siding with them and they are criticizing China for trying diplomacy too causing the Chinese UN Ambassador to read the riot act to his Israeli counterpart. Israel may tell itself that it does not need the world as they have the US in their pocket but I do not think that it will end well for them.

    1. anahuna

      The headline notes (with alarm) that sympathy for the Palestinians is increasing “even while Israelis continue to bury their dead.” I was very nearly speechless on reading that appalling bid for sympathy.

      Have the Palestinians had a chance to bury their thousands upon thousands of the dead?

    2. zagonostra

      Your comment made me think of below from Caitlin Johnstone. Sadly there are friends whose views are becoming so egregious, from my standpoint, on the 11,000 Palestinian deaths much less the number of women and children killed that I have to rethink my friendship.

      Gaza isn’t one of those issues where you have to respect the other side’s opinions. Supporting a genocidal massacre is not an acceptable opinion for anyone to have. This is worth hurting people’s feelings over. Worth losing friends over. Worth disrupting Thanksgiving dinner over.

    3. bonks

      I don’t know which is worse. Immediate death or seeing your legs amputated in an instant like in that twitter video. His scream will forever be imprinted in my head, and that’s just one of many. How can anyone still side with the Zionists after seeing all these harrowing videos?

    4. ilsm

      Of the thousands of Palestinians killed by US weapons, informed by US ISR, fired by Israelis maybe 2% are “terrorists” who can handle a weapon.

      The rest of the terrorists “we alls” have killed thus far are children, women and elderly!

  11. Rob

    … Chat bots hallucinate…. Er um that seems to be attributing human or organism attributes to a bunch of code that requires a constantly maintained hardware, OS, network, and its own code to keep going. That’s a lot of entropy to fight back. Anthromorphizing code is a new one to me. ChatGPT code just guess the next letter, That’s all folks!, impressive trick, and so is 3 card monty :) Happy Friday, cheers!

    1. Mikel

      “…Er um that seems to be attributing human or organism attributes to a bunch of code…”
      That type of headline is part of the con. Humans are practiced at applying those attributes to inaminate objects in various ways (some more pathological than others). That’s what the con relies on.

    2. Duke of Prunes

      It’s more palatable to say “hallucinate” vs “gives wrong information”. What a great time to be alive!

      1. Samuel Conner

        Perhaps “hallucinate” is a more acceptable alternative to “emit falsehoods”. One can’t speak of an AI “lying”, since they have no agency and no beliefs. But they can produce text that asserts things that are not true.

  12. The Rev Kev

    “As Ukraine Seeks Troops, Women Prepare for the Call”

    Zelensky, having caused the Ukraine to be demolished with the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people and tens of millions of people more fleeing the country, has now decided that the best thing that he can do to protect himself is to burn the seed-corn for his country. I have seen videos of young girls going to the front and some coming back missing limbs and having to learn how to to use prostheses. It’s never a good look.

    1. ChrisFromGA

      That seems so ill-advised and stupid as to defy my admittedly low-bar expectations for Zelensky.

      I wonder if he needs a sit down with some biologists to explain that killing off your young female reproductive age cohort is the express lane to demographic extinction in a generation?

      Dead men can be replaced; in theory you could use the sperm of a single donor to create many pregnancies, but killing off the young females is going to result in a situation where your population can never recover.

      Between this story and the ongoing carnage in Gaza, it is a good day to take up drinking again.

      1. Feral Finster

        Zelenskii and his cronies care not a whit whether a male or a female body soaks up Russian munitions, as long as they aren’t the ones doing the soaking.

        1. R.S.

          Yep. They’re the cattle, the bydlo, they don’t matter that much anyway (no sarcasm).

          I had and still have difficulties defining the system those guys created in Ukraine. It’s not the Nazism we usually think of. The German one was obsessed with biology and being “scientific”, sometimes ridiculously so.

          I tried to read Dontsov for example. It seems he vacillated between different names for his brand of nationalism. In his later works, he referred to it as to something like “volition nationalism” (or “willpower nationalism”), Willensnationalismus, to use German. Yes, he was speaking of nations as of “species”, but not strictly biological ones, more like “spiritual species”. And within a nation, the majority of it (“the people”), them he held in very low regard. The majority was allegedly passive, didn’t know the Will of The Nation, and had to be led and goaded (and sacrificed if needed). It was the active minority that really mattered for him. That minority was something like the Will of The Nation incarnate, characterized by amoralism, fanaticism, idealism (as in preferring their Ideals over mundane matters), “creative violence” – all praised as positive traits.

          I’d say it’s a vile philosophy, but surprisingly not outdated. Romanticized social Darwinism, the Great Men vs the masses, John Galts and proles, you name it. And it dovetails just nicely with unfettered capitalism.

          1. digi_owl

            I think perhaps it helps to keep in mind that the only area that they likely see as pure and proper Ukrainian is the western part around Lviv.

            The rest are some mix of Ukrainian and other, depending on the bordering nation. The Area of conflict, Donbass and Crimea, was not made Ukrainian until the 1950s by soviet decree.

            As best i can tell, the population near Lviv has been largely spared the conscription drives as well as much of the war in general.

            As such, what is perhaps going on is the nazis are capitalizing on the ambiguity of what it means to be Ukrainian to cleanse the land of those they consider half-breeds or mongrels.

            1. Acacia

              Quoting Jacques Baud:

              We forget that Crimea was independent, even before Ukraine became independent. In January 1991, while the Soviet Union still existed, Crimea held a referendum to be managed from Moscow and not from Kiev. It thus became an Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic. Ukraine did not get its own independence referendum until six months later in August 1991. At that point, Crimea did not consider itself a part of Ukraine. But Ukraine did not accept this. Between 1991 and 2014, it was a constant struggle between the two entities. Crimea had its own constitution with its own authorities. In 1995, encouraged by the Budapest Memorandum, Ukraine overthrew the Crimean government with special forces and abrogated its constitution. But this is never mentioned, as it would shed a completely different light on the current development.

              Regarding the Ukronazis’ aim to “cleanse the land”, yep, that has been their objective for a long time.

    2. Benny Profane

      Mecouris pointed out that Hitler, at the end, didnt even go there. Boys and old men and the disabled, but, no women.

      1. Daniil Adamov

        Hitler didn’t do it, but Kerensky did. Women’s Battalions of Death in 1917 consisted of patriotic middle-class volunteers and had noticeably higher morale than the male soldiers who were fighting for longer. Of course, their greater enthusiasm did not make them very popular with the men, so their participation was a stopgap measure at best instead of inspiring the rest of the army as hoped. This sounds like a repeat.

        …Although on second thought, mass conscription instead of relying on volunteers might make a difference if it comes to that. Likely not for the better, though.

          1. JBird4049

            The thing with the Soviets was that it was voluntary, the Nazis really were trying to exterminate, not just conquer, and the women were not straight up cannon fodder especially not infantry unless you count the snipers. In a total war, women have been in the military in other nations, but usually far behind the lines to free up men to die on the frontline.

            1. Daniil Adamov

              “the Nazis really were trying to exterminate, not just conquer”

              Yes (sort of – I’m not sure they wanted to exterminate completely but they did have plans to do unto us as the Americans did unto their natives, which is not much better), but:

              1) At the time, many people throughout the Union genuinely did not believe that. The Germans tried to cultivate ambiguity by working with local collaborationists, how ever poorly and inconsistently. Even Soviet propaganda at the time acknowledged that people generally expected “cultured Germans” to behave better than they eventually did. Fighting against them wasn’t so obvious a choice for many then as it may seem in retrospect.

              2) At least some people in Ukraine probably do believe the (IMHO daft) line that Putin is waging a “war of extermination”. For others it may seem ambiguous – they don’t know where he plans to stop. Others still may have personal stakes or grudges, or ideological motives.

              Overall this situation does make me think of the WWI precedent more than the WWII one. But the Ukrainian government and its backers would surely prefer to promote the latter, and they have some tools with which to do so.

              1. Acacia

                @Daniil, perhaps you’ve commented on this before (and forgive my inattentiveness, if so), but from your perspective, where would you guess Putin intends to stop?

                In an alternate timeline, if the Ukraine had remained neutral and stayed out of NATO, I guess the leadership in Russia could have felt the RF was reasonably secure and none of this would have happened, but alas the neocons took great pains to ensure that that wasn’t to be.

                Maybe things are actually a lot more fluid, but it seems like the current plan is roughly to defeat the Ukraine on the battlefield and arrange for some kind of neutral buffer zone between the rump Ukraine and the RF. The West can’t keep any of its promises and seems to have little regard for diplomacy, so the solution will have to be implemented on the ground, so to speak.

                Still, I’m having trouble seeing how this works without a sizable ongoing Russian military presence around that future buffer zone, and some continued skirmishing as the West steadfastly refuses to accept the new reality.

                1. Daniil Adamov

                  I have no idea. I certainly don’t think he intends to exterminate Ukrainians, as some Western media types like to claim. I strongly doubt that he would want to eliminate Ukraine as an independent state. He and other Russian officials spent a lot of time before and during the SMO insisting on their respect for Ukrainian independence. That could be dismissed as a temporary line to be abandoned later, but Putin always struck me as extremely cautious and stability-minded. A full annexation would be an enormous headache for a whole host of reasons (difficulties of administration aside, relations with CIS countries would certainly be complicated by it, and it’s not like they have nowhere else to go in a multipolar world).

                  At the same time, I don’t think he would give up Crimea or the four oblasts where the referenda were held under any circumstances. There is no incentive for him to do so, and it would be a major blow to his prestige at home, which he does seem to care about. A lot of pain for no real gain.

                  With that in mind, I suspect his preference might be to just change the government in the rest of Ukraine, get it to recognise those changes in borders, and ensure either neutrality or a permanent Russian influence over the new government. Achieving this much would be compatible with all or most of his officially stated aims. Taking even more territory might be appealing for some people here, but would rock the boat further.

                  The wild card is that it might prove impossible to impose a stable non-Western-aligned government in the rest of Ukraine. Also, defeating the current government (whether helmed by Zelensky or not) will take an unknown amount of time and effort. In that time, the situation might change enough – for example, if Ukraine loses more territory outside the referenda oblasts without collapsing, the calculus for annexing more territories would begin to change.

                  As for a DMZ, that compromise would make sense if we reach a truce with the current government. I don’t think that’s impossible in principle, on our side. The problem is that there is no reason to trust the West or a Ukrainian government that is wholly reliant on the West, so it would be as you say. I think that on our side there is still some hope that the other side might suffer a sudden collapse, military or political, that would let us simply try to impose a different government and cut the West out of the issue as much as possible. I presume that on their side, they must hope that either we will collapse after all (no serious signs of that so far) or advance so slowly that the West would have time to rebuild a military industry and bring things to a stalemate. Their best-case scenario sounds even more wildly optimistic than ours, but they must expect something.

                2. hk

                  I’ll interject since I had exchanges with Daniil on this. I actually think a Russian military victory fails to negate their strategic dilemma: Russia’s real adversary is the US and the prize is central/western Europe. Ukraine is not, in the grand scheme of things, all that important as even a total victory does not necessarily defeat the US, except in a rather abstract manner nor does it help Russia gain a Europe that is less hostile.

                  The facile answer would be that Russia should drag the war in Ukraine as long as possible while working other angles. Unfortunately, that’s not going to work, apparently, and Russia will soon have to manage the wreck without having gotten appreciably closer to its larger aims. The not so serious answer is that Russia would need to keep advancing West until, say, they retake Paris. That is rather obviously absurd. In fact, I am really curious what Russia has in mind for, say, Lwow and Ternopol even now–they don’t want them, it’s almost certain, but having feral bandit gangs on your borderlands is a headache, let alone a Europe most of whose governments remain hostile.

                  1. Daniil Adamov

                    Yes, pretty much, which is why I have been sceptical of this whole operation to begin with. At most, it destroyed a Ukrainian army that might otherwise have struck first against the People’s Republics. Even if assuming that this was a genuine threat, I don’t think Ukraine has any conventional offensive potential left by this point, and I’m not sure if it can recover in the near future. It can, however, remain a nuisance regardless of what we do. It’s a quagmire, though I’m not sure who it is worse for – us or the Americans. (Ukrainians get the worst of it, Europeans second worse. Who’s third?)

              2. hk

                To an extent, the somewhat favorable impression of the Germans was caused, I suspect, on the account of the many Russophile Germans that the Soviets had experience with. There were a lot of Germans who were favorably disposed towards Russia, many who were relieved (in 1940 certainly) that they were spared a two front war (little did they know!), and still many who saw huge benefits of Soviet-German economic cooperation. Many of these people (eg Schulenberg, the German ambassador to USSR) who worked with the Soviets, no doubt made a benign (often genuine) impression on their interlocutors, no doubt.

                1. Daniil Adamov

                  That was surely a part of it. Soviet-German cooperation went back to the 1920s, when both countries wanted to find a way around their diplomatic isolation. The Soviets also wanted help with industrialisation, while the Germans sought opportunities to develop and test weapons in secret. As for Russophilia, I remember reading somewhere that a German general involved in this cooperation even asked his superiors whether he should become a communist!

                  But also, Germans spent about a century earning a widespread reputation as a cultured nation, on the strength of their scientific advances, art, education (many Russians studied in German universities before the revolution, by the way), and organisation in everyday life. There was a strong association between Germany and civilisation. They then spent two world wars frittering it away.

                  And of course, Marxism came to us from Germany and remained strongly associated with it.

          1. Daniil Adamov

            Kerensky really does have some uncanny parallels with Zelensky, now that I think of it. When he rose to power, he was praised beyond all measure by allies at home and abroad, who held him up as a symbol of triumphant democracy. It did not take long for him to lose all that goodwill, partly due to disasters that were outside of his control and partly because his skills did not extend far beyond oratory. Within a few months everyone who mattered and many who didn’t wanted him out. My great-great-grandfather, a Menshevik, had his portrait on a wall until the day he met him (to petition against sending a mutinying unit to the front); after the unsuccessful meeting, he turned the portrait around, saying that Kerensky was “not a statesman, but a talker and an old woman”.

            1. hk

              Yup. I was struck by the same as I was writing this (granted without thinking that much and not knowing too much about the Kerensky government–it’s almost always underexplored and caricatured in accounts of the October Revolution and beyond). Thanks for the additional details!

  13. tegnost

    The rules are in the room with the dry powder and jamie dimon et al are buying up the powder with their stock sales. Remember, americans are going to have to get used to a lower standard of living, and there must be a recession to keep labor down, and right now your house, if you own one is worth more than ever, and the elite in the usa love to control people with unpayable debt. Student loans are the ultimate subprime (imo), seven year auto loans? Don’t forget that when your car is being paid off, your monthly insurance payments are to cover the real owner of the car, the bank. I recall greenspan in his day describing the economy as a water bed, push down in one place and it rises up in another. The people wall st is going to push down on is you. Remember one of the other stated goals, you will own nothing…and exactly how is that supposed to come to pass? We’re led by an austin powers antagonist, you know, the pinkie guy…

  14. mrsyk

    We Interrupt this Mood of Denial, This piece is about the current situation in Canada.
    “In the middle of October, Moriarty calculated that COVID patients occupied about nine per cent of intensive care beds and 21 per cent of hospital beds across the country. (The average hospitalization rate during the pandemic has been seven per cent.) The estimated cost of this sustained viral assault is $274 million a week.”
    Note, despite the lede, this is not a pro-vaccine screed by any means. Well worth a read.

    1. Roger Blakely

      Unless we start taking transmission seriously again, our future will be that a huge portion of the population will be sick and dying of COVID-19. What am I going to do? Am I going to wear a respirator and avoid social interaction for the rest of my life? Yes.

    2. Yeti

      I have been following health Canada’s Covid-19 reports for almost 2 years. Their last report claims less than 4,000 Covid-19 hospitalizations which is approximately 4% of total hospital beds. Not 21% as claimed in article. Tara Moriarty is hugely pro vaccination, encouraging all to get boosted. I’ll give her credit for being concerned about excess deaths in Canada but I disagree with her conclusions. Less than 4% of total deaths have been in the under 50 age group yet they comprise about 50% of population. See here:
      Here is her claim on vaccine safety,

      “Tara Moriarty
      Dec 11, 2020
      My mom in a care home will be among the first to receive C19 vaccine in ON. I will be too, as her essential caregiver.

      I know the Pfizer & Moderna vaccines are safe.”

      Yet her and her mother have had bad bouts of Covid-19. I would like to see her information on vaccine safety. It is clear that its effectiveness is limited. I do share her concerns on excess deaths in Canada and am waiting for my provincial health authority to provide some answers. In BC where I live there are an additional 7 people dying every day of something even after you remove overdoses and Covid-19 from the equation.
      Here is a good source for excess deaths,

  15. Sub-Boreal

    My COVID observations from yesterday:

    I attended a memorial gathering at my former workplace for a co-worker who recently died of COVID, apparently after only two days of illness. Of the ~ 75 in attendance, mostly biologists, only about a dozen of us were wearing masks. Although the meeting space was large and airy, I refrained from sampling any of the refreshments.

  16. Alex

    Re the tunnels, what makes you think the reservists are demoralized? This is not what I hear when I talk to people. The events of October 7 were a shock to everyone and there is a strong feeling across the political spectrum that Hamas has to be removed from Gaza, otherwise it will happen again.

    I don’t know if they will succeed, we shall see. I’m also really curious whether any kind of tunnels will be found beneath Al Shifa hospital.

    1. lambert strether

      Colonial armies tend toward demoralization, because putting the boot into civilians, or kneecapping them, or torturing them, tends to demoralize (unless you’re in one of the more sociopathic units of the SS, of course). These behaviors aren’t soldiering, and share none of its virtues.

      1. Daniil Adamov

        I think that would be a reason for them to be demoralised over the course of their normal activities in the West Bank. Gaza can be sold internally as righteous vengeance, and personally I suspect many (though not all) Israeli soldiers would buy that.

        Ultimately, though, this just makes me think of the speculations about how the Russian soldiers in Ukraine must be ever so demoralised. It’s really hard to tell. However, most takes I’ve seen seem to reflect the author’s assumption that they see the operation in the same way as the author, which is a dangerous thing to assume regardless of one’s position.

      2. Allison

        unless you’re in one of the more sociopathic units of the SS, of course

        I don’t understand. Are you suggesting that the Zionist/Israeli sociopathy isn’t on the level of “one of the more sociopathic units of the SS” – whatever that means?

        Where is the evidence that the Zionist project – which well predates WWII – has ever become weary in the face of its own colonization, apartheid, ethnic cleansing and genocide?

        I am not defending Nazi atrocities perpetrated in the midst of WWII.

      3. JBird4049

        (unless you’re in one of the more sociopathic units of the SS, of course)

        Even the SS had some problems especially anyone having anything to do with the einsatzgruppen (special action or deployment units or groups). Extremely large amounts of alcohol for the trigger pullers were issued and nobody was forced to shoot although the pressure was intense to their “duty.” The rates of disability eventually became extreme.

        Gas vans were developed for the murder of the disabled in Germany for the Aktion T4 program, which were later used in the East, but they were not efficient enough. The einsatzgruppen were hazardous to their soldiers’ health, and also insufficiently efficient. Finally, they built extermination camps like Sobibor, which were purely for extermination, and concentration camps, which were also used to make a profit, like Auschwitz. Maybe “arbeit macht frei,” but it was a literal working of humanity into money. A profitable extermination. The point of those camps was to make the process of genocide both efficient and discrete reducing both the cost and the stressful exposer to genocide as much as possible using mainly volunteers who were given perks for their work. Also large number of the camp staff did take pleasure in their “work.”

        I do not want to make light of the Holocaust, but the Nazis’ attempts to make money from, even run somewhat like a business, their consumption of eleven million lives does remind me somewhat of modern day neoliberal capitalism. Many of them really wanted to and did profit from it. Remembering the slogan arbeit macht frei while typing helps with that.

        However, the point is that it was and is the mass murder, rape, torture of the unarmed, the old, the disabled, the young, that causes the most serious mental illnesses in soldiers. Just combat makes plenty of people literally crazy, but most people can justify it or at least accept it as just war, if it is against other soldiers. You are armed, they are armed, there is the Cause, and often random chance decides things.

        The abuse and murder of civilians is something else, and the effects can take days or decades to occur after the mental gymnastics fail. Reading on what Americans, Japanese, even Germans endured decades after whatever war is unpleasant and particularly of those who go insane after decades of apparent good health. Getting older, maybe wiser, perhaps a triggering event like some particular noise, and the memories of what they endured, and more importantly, what they did unstoppably comes out.

        If the IDF sends in the infantry into Gaza City, look for an uptick in mental illness in the coming decades.

      4. Feral Finster

        “Colonial armies tend toward demoralization, because putting the boot into civilians, or kneecapping them, or torturing them, tends to demoralize (unless you’re in one of the more sociopathic units of the SS, of course).”

        I think you are getting warmer.

      5. Alex

        They don’t consider themselves a colonial army. I’m not talking about the West Bank now where this description is probably partially accurate but about the current action in Gaza. This is not a war in some colony thousands of km from home, but something very close to home and with the clear goal of preventing the repeated attack.

        1. .human

          Very cleverly framed. Given the genocidal conditions in Gaza, the rest of the world knows full well how to prevent repeated attacks.

          1. Daniil Adamov

            Yes, and a lot of people in Israel and among the Israel-loving public around the world think they know as well. The PERCEPTION is what’s important if we’re talking about morale rather than morality – doesn’t matter whether you or I think this perception is wrong.

        2. vao

          The operation by the IDF in Gaza is a typical “punitive expedition” as they were carried out by colonial armies: shoot at the native population indiscriminately, raze their dwellings, wreck their economic basis (uproot plantations, slaughter cattle, sink fishing boats, destroy workshops, etc), and drive away survivors. All this to enforce the dispossession by, the privileges of, and the security of settlers. If you want an adequate comparison, look at how the Schutztruppen in Deutsch-Ostafrika, the force publique in Belgian Congo, or the regio esercito in Cyrenaica were proceeding.

          Lack of territorial proximity is irrelevant. After all, South Africa waged the same kind of operations against the camps of SWAPO (fighting for the independence of Namibia) in Southern Angola, France against the FLN in the French departments of Algeria, and the USA against Amerindians on the “frontier”, or in as yet unincorporated territories.

          1. Alex

            In all your examples the home country was never threatened. Algerian rebels did not plan to take over France, SWAPO didn’t plan to conquer South Africa and the Senoussi insurgents in Cyrenaica did not plan to invade Italy.

            When the perception is the survival of the country is at stake, and that if Hamas is not removed then the attacks like the one of October 7 will repeat, the situation is completely different,

            I’m not interested in discussing the labels here, or to what extent these perception are accurate, since they are irrelevant to the original question about the morale.

            1. vao

              “L’Algérie, c’est la France” — Algeria is France — was the slogan of the French during the war…

              The situation of Israel is very similar to the one of South Africa fighting against the ANC (including by attacking its camps in Mozambique). And the specific South African regime was indeed a fairly typical colonial regime (in a post-colonial environment, which made it such an anomaly). The similarities with Israel have been established long ago, and the similarities of both countries with other colonial endeavours are obvious. Including the unhinged way the IDF is operating — which was the point about “not considering themselves a colonial army”: they are precisely acting as one.

              As for morale (understood as the will to fight), professional armies are in general very difficult to demoralize, whatever the kind of conflict. Conscript armies undertaking colonial operations get demoralized when three conditions are met:
              1) the war goes on with seemingly no end to it;
              2) casualties and fatalities can no longer be ascribed to “bad luck”, but exhibit a significant probability because of a resolute and skillful enemy;
              3) the soldiers start getting the impression that they are fighting for people closely involved in the colonial endeavour with privileges that they do not themselves enjoy. In Israel this could be, for instance, settlers getting subsidies for living in the Occupied Territories while conscripts have a hard time finding affordable accommodation in Israel proper.

              As far as I understand, IDF soldiers have not yet been affected by these three causes of demoralization. They still are in the gung-ho “let us exterminate all the brutes” phase.

              1. Alex

                1) and 2) are not specific to colonial warfare, they affect any army anywhere.

                The third condition is more to the point, but then the question is how you define a “colonial endeavour.” If it’s the ongoing settlements in the West Bank, then it probably affects a soldier from Tel Aviv who is assigned a guard duty in Hebron and isn’t very happy protecting settlers, but it’s absolutely irrelevant to the morale of those who are now fighting in Gaza.

                If you consider the whole Israel a “colonial endeavour,” then we’re back at square one. If your whole livelihood and life itself depends on it, then your morale would be high, no matter the labels.

      6. NYMutza

        I don’t think there is any evidence to suggest that the soldiers and marines perpetrating massacres in Vietnam (weekly My Lais) were demoralized. If they were, it didn’t effect their ability to routinely murder civilians. The Israeli soldiers likely have few qualms in killing civilians. After all, they are merely following orders.

  17. Matthew G. Saroff

    Regarding, “Analysis: How would Israel find, map, take and keep Gaza’s tunnels?” I see 2 potential ways to detect these tunnels.

    Ground penetrating radar (I worked at NIITEK, which has a grand penetrating radar which works while in motion, and uses synthetic aperture processing to image) image down to in excess of 10 meters, which would identify entrances and the like.

    The other method would be gravimetry analysis, which been used to relatively deeply buried find tombs and passages in pyramids.

  18. Camelotkidd

    Being an occupying force tends to have a serious corrosive effect on a military. Fighting a determined and battle-hardened opponent is a different kettle-of-fish than bombing defenseless civilians. The IDF discovered these realities in 2006 when their elite infantry units were mauled by Hezbollah
    The US is discovering many of the same realities in their proxy war against Russia in Ukraine, after decades of counter-insurgency warfare or bombing Third-World countries lacking an air force or air-defense

    1. vao

      Being an occupying force tends to have a serious corrosive effect on a military.

      And in many ways. I have seen in twitter references to Israeli soldiers looting the houses of Israeli citizens who had to evacuate because of the on-going fighting. This seems to have taken place in kibbutzim near the areas where fighting is on-going. Stealing valuables when raiding or “inspecting” Palestinian houses in the West Bank is not uncommon, and sometimes the culprits get caught.

  19. Jason Boxman

    How many in the U.S. are disabled? Proposed census changes would greatly decrease count

    So I wonder when the United States will start gaming actual death numbers; Can people exist in a Schrödinger’s cat state where they’re both alive and dead for the purposes of death accounting? A basic function of the modern state is to accurately tally births and deaths. Once this ceases, is America really a going concern?

    1. JBird4049

      >>>Once this ceases, is America really a going concern?

      Just because the Census Bureau is likely to screw up the census for political reasons, which any empire or civilization for thousands of years has needed and carried out to survive and an accurate one is needed for the House of Representatives, not to mention the various state and local governments’ services, plus the CDC, FEMA, and the military…

      I think we are becoming a more ramshackle country every year.

  20. Jason Boxman

    The confusion starts during open enrollment, as Levitt and Altman noted, when people enrolling in Medicare Advantage have more than 40 plans available to them, on average, and people who sign up for coverage on the Affordable Care Act’s marketplaces may have more than 100 to choose from. HR industry surveys have also found that people who enroll in health insurance through their job often feel uncertain about the selections they are making.

    At one employer I know, every year a kind soul does up an entire spreadsheet comparing the all-in costs for 3 different health plan options, which is highly complex, and takes into account whether an HSA or FSA is used, whether the deductible is met or not, and so on. It is insane to see. I’m college educated and even I find it challenging to discern which plan might screw me the least under what circumstances. And then there’s the reality that whatever you pick, your insurer might just deny all your claims, as we’ve recently learn is extremely common, with these denials often robo-signed, a 100 an hour or more. Having insurance merely grants your access to this labyrinthine hell.

    1. Ed S.

      Notwithstanding the entire issue of trying to get an insurance company to pay claims, there is also the fundamentally extortionate aspect of not having insurance. To put it bluntly: if you don’t have medical insurance, virtually any medical service will be multiples of what the insurance company “negotiates”.

      Case in point: the explanation of benefits for blood tests for an annual physical lists the “un-negotiated” price as $675. The insurance company “negotiated” a rate of about $67.00 or roughly 90% off. Of that $67.00, insurance paid roughly half and I paid roughly half. Of course their “negotiation” skills don’t come cheap; my employer based plan costs in excess of $20k per year.

      A final anecdote: five years ago I needed an knee MRI. After jumping through many hoops, I was finally able to get the insurance company to approve the MRI. I went to the local outpatient facility and in the process of getting the paperwork completed, I mentioned how much trouble I had in getting the MRI approved. The person helping me said that “cash-pay” was always an option. When I asked the price, it was the same as my co-pay through the insurance company.

      What a racket!

    2. hunkerdown

      This is one of the things that really scares Them about home LLMs: once they are a bit less ditzy like Bubbles from Absolutely Fabulous and can handle long documents more competently, “consumers” might have any advantage in efficiently uncovering predatory language or comparing two proposals, automatically. Robots, say the Boston Brahmin EA AI NXIVM lot, are for capital only.

      1. Late Introvert

        So how could you trust it? Wouldn’t you have to read all the relevant details to be sure it wasn’t lying? Not that I care. I agree with Lambert that AI = BS.

  21. Tom Stone

    Health system anecdotes.
    It recently took me 10 days to get a prescription for Metoprolol refilled, this is a blood pressure med I have been taking for 3 years with no issues, not an opioid.
    I had a recent appointment with my primary care person, I showed up 10 minutes early and had a 2 hour wait.
    15 Minutes with them and a referral to an orthopaedist ( My right hip is bad) with a phone # to call.
    I called on 4 successive days and left messages on Voicemail with no response.
    The VM didn’t pick up until the phone rang 15 times…
    On the 5th day I got a human on the line who explained that they were short staffed due to illness, but did take my # and informed me that I should expect a call from the orthopedic surgeon in the next week or so.
    As of this week Health care workers in Sonoma County including those working at pharmacies are required to mask, their patients are not.
    From my observations over the last six weeks or so it appears that health care systems in Sonoma County are on the verge of collapse.
    I called the OIG of HHS about the new HICPAC guidelines and ask any who have not yet done so to do so.
    Mine is not the only life on the line.

    1. Bsn

      Good health to you Tom. My younger brother is having urinary problems, out of nowhere. He called his Urologist and can be seen in March. Imagine “holding it” for four monthsI’ve followed the FLCCC often but their website is a bit of a maze. Can anyone recall the name of the group of nurses/doctors that grew out of them and are offering tele-health options?
      With long waits and other problems in dealing with local doctors, do others have experience in finding alternative medical help?

    2. John k

      I take the same stuff, 100mg/d. Kaiser pharmacy in orangey county seems ok, maybe try to get your # filled in another county.

  22. Bill Urman

    A friend is a big fan of Snyder. He has Snyder’s books and pulls one out on occasion when we’re engaged in discussions about world events. I tried to read one of Snyder’s books at my friend’s request several years ago but couldn’t get very far. My friend is also addicted to MSNBC and anything that comes out of Rachel’s mouth. We continue to have our discussions, but there are certain topics that I avoid. For my friend it’s a toss up between Trump and Putin as to which is the most evil in world history and yes, he absolutely believes the Democrats are the good guys and Joe Biden is doing a great job. He is having some of these fundamental beliefs being challenged by the genocide in Gaza. He’s a good person and he’s having a hard time rationalizing the slaughter and our direct role in making it happen.

    1. undercurrent

      There is no way for a decent human being to rationalize the slaughter in Gaza. Leave that to the Joe Bidens and Tim Snyders of the world. Your friend can be either a good guy or a bad guy. It’s up to him.

    2. hk

      Reconstruction of Nations was quite good, even if where Snyder’s sympathies lay were evident. The subsequent stuff he wrote were steadily getting more deranged.

  23. Bsn

    Well, let’s be balanced here and read the fine print. An above link from Aaron Maté, states “Yet according to NYT, US officials were aware that Israel’s war plans ….. all but guaranteed a high civilian death toll.” Aaron doesn’t mention the the NYT cites “U.S. officials”. US officials are not a source, except for propaganda purposes. I like and trust Mr. Maté, but let’s be fair. I need more than “US sources” as a reference.

  24. Feral Finster

    Whom does Orban think he’s kidding? Either he’ll be strongarmed into compliance, or the EU will simply change its rules on the fly so as to admit Ukraine.

    1. Benny Profane

      Seems to have survived well throughout this war. Now that it’s ending, he’s in a better position than most, I guess. And I doubt the EU is so united and compliant, especially after losing this war, that they’ll just follow lockstep into that decision.

      1. Feral Finster

        So far, the EU seems pretty lockstep, with a remarkably few exceptions. They’re still talking, at least in public, of Until Final Victory.

        vid. Scholz’ speech today or yesterday.

        But none of that has anything to do with whether Orban will be able to prevent Ukrainian accession. The people who matter in Europe seem pretty set on it.

        1. eg

          Ukraine will no doubt achieve accession to the EU — of course only long after membership has ceased to have any meaning.

          1. Feral Finster

            Not really. Ukraine can use this as another token to show its populace thar We Are Winning.

            If real victories cannot be had, symbolic victories will do.

            The EU leadership see this as a way to force dissidents fall into line.

    2. John k

      Maybe not after Russia meets their objectives, which imo includes Odessa, Kharkov and 2 other oblasts plus a new russ-leaning gov. They’ll be a basket case dependent on Russia to fix electric system etc and with the most productive regions a part of Russia.
      The neocons have made russia wealthier, with a larger pop and strongest military on the planet, a true superpower. Plus accelerating the full arrival of multi-polarity. Good job, joe!
      And the other shoe lands in the ME. I noticed a general says China doesn’t intend to invade Taiwan, seems mic trying to head off the next fiasco, we’re running out of feet to shoot. And 155 mm shells.

      1. Feral Finster

        I’m not sure what Russia’s objectives are.

        And the EU elites have already demonstrated that they care nothing about practical matters, since they are insulated from any consequences.

    3. The Rev Kev

      Orabn is saying what a lot of the other EU countries are acknowledging but are afraid to speak up themselves. Having the Ukraine in the EU would wreck it especially in light of the fact that no measure or law could be passed without the Ukraine demanding a special cut-out because the EU owes them for fighting the Russians. No matter what the elite say at the EU, it can’t be done.


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