Monday Message Board

Back again with another Monday Message Board.

Post comments on any topic. Civil discussion and no coarse language please. Side discussions and idees fixes to the sandpits, please.

I’ve moved my irregular email news from Mailchimp to Substack. You can read it here. You can also follow me on Twitter @JohnQuiggin

I’m also trying out Substack as a blogging platform. For the moment, I’ll post both at this blog and on Substack.

39 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. Tread Where? Tyre externalities. You are breathing tyre tread. Tyre dust never sleeps.  

    An article yesterday says “”As much as 700kg of tiny tyre particles, … wash off the roads and into the catchment after each storm.”. And kill fish. The culprit is 6PPD which is new to me.

    But imo, 49.6 tonnes of tyre dust is still missing in the environment. In NSW.

    In 1994 I had access to some of the most detailed system dynamics models. One such model was about trye recycling. 

    But it missed the missing. Tyre Tread. I wondered where the tread went. 

    Of only car & truck tyres in NSW – just NSW – tread ‘lost’ was in the vicinity of 45 m3. Lost. Gone. Not researched nor accounted for that I could find. 

    At 1,100 kg/m3 – 1.1 tonne a cubic metre, a suspicious density imo  – tyre tread forgone to environment gives us:
    – 45 x 1.1 tonne of toxic tyre dust via tread, or; 49.5 tonnes. A year. Lost to the environment. In in NSW. Alone! 

    The article says 700kg Aust wide. I’ll assume 200kgs in NSW. Leaving, in NSW, approximately 49.6 tonnes missing in the environment. Oh! At least some tread / tyre dust now accounted for. Wonkish yet real. 

    The article says between 0.2mm – an optimistically large ‘first grind’ size imo, through to <pm10's. Don't get me started in brake dust, particularly in tunnels.

    Dust dynamics never sleep.  When tyre dust settles, we run over it causing vortices of air, sucking dust up, resettles, re crushed / ground & airborne, again resettles, pulverised and finally areosolised. I suggest <pm2's, effecting every mammalian lung in dispersion plume zone. Cough. Oh, every busy road and house in every city. Everywhere. 

    One day we will know "Tread Where?".

    The best I can do these days is  email author & Lidia Morawska, master of aerosols.

    To end on a bright note, biomimicry brains are trying to grow tyres ala mussels attachment fibres, which are super tough at attachment point and blend & flex seamlessly from attachment point – very hard ala tread, towards shells – think sidewalls,  in an almost perfect combination of toughness, strength and flexibility. Hence tyres. Can't wait.

    One mussel example. Glue for corals. Couldn't find mussel tyre person in time. 

    "Mussel Polymers (MPI) has developed a high-performance, non-toxic adhesive known as poly (catechol) styrene, or PCS, mimicking the adhesive proteins mussels use to adhere to surfaces in extreme marine environments. PCS is 300% stronger than other underwater adhesives, and bonds to a wide range of materials. MPI will be used in a number of industries, but they are bringing their product to market first for coral restoration, "
    https://biomimicry.org/solutions/

    "Mussels Hold On With Fancy Footwork
    "Sticky Mussels Inspire New Underwater Adhesive"
    youtube.com
    watch?v=wxnK-KQesHI&feature=emb_title
    *

    "Chemical from tyres linked to mass salmon deaths in US found in Australia for first time"
    theguardian.com/environment/2022/mar/21/chemical-from-tyres-linked-to-mass-salmon-deaths-in-us-found-in-australia-for-first-time
    *

    6PPD

    Environmental Impact
    "The formation of a quinone-form of 6PPD (6PPD-Q) is the intended function of this rubber additive. But a 2020 study found that 6PPD (or already converted 6PPD-Q) released from vehicle tires gets converted by ozone to a previously unknown quinone analog 6PPD-quinone:"

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/6PPD
    *

    "Airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2: The world should face the reality"
    Lidia Morawska et al. Environ Int. 2020 Jun.

    Abstract
    . ..
    "It is therefore extremely important, that the national authorities acknowledge the reality that the virus [tyre dust] spreads through air, and recommend that adequate control measures be implemented to prevent further spread of the [tyre dust]."
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32294574/
    *

  2. Further to the above post.
    “A revolutionary new road surface, using old tyres that would otherwise end up in landfill sites, is being tested by Highways England on a stretch of the M1, the government announced.

    It is the first time that a major road has been made using the asphalt mix, which is created by blending a fine rubber mix from waste tyres with bitumen and crushed stone.”

    Doubling down on the grind.

    https://www.cips.org/supply-management/news/2019/august/recycled-tyres-trialled-for-eco-friendly-road-material/

  3. “Mere dorks, … and how [capitalism] might be changed.”

    Any comments re changing ‘modern’ capitalism?

    “Modern Capitalism Is Weirder Than You Think It also no longer works as advertised.

    “To the political economist Benjamin Braun, the contemporary structure of corporate ownership is so novel and consequential as to mark a new era in economic history, the age of “asset-manager capitalism.”

    “Braun’s papers on this subject are fascinating, and nerds will want to read them in full. Mere dorks, however, may be content to consider the following four ways the rise of asset managers challenges conventional wisdom about how capitalism functions — and how it might be changed.
    ….
    1. Market competition is becoming impossible under capitalism — or else increasingly plausible under socialism.

    2. There may now actually be a “committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie.”

    3. The dominant theory of corporate governance no longer makes sense.

    4. Wall Street and organized labor are now aligned on monetary policy.

    https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2022/03/how-asset-managers-have-upended-how-modern-capitalism-works.html

    “Benjamin Braun on Twitter: “What is asset manager capitalism?
    “(How) does index fund dominance change the political economy of corporate … The table summarizes – the evolution of the US investment “..
    twitter.com › bjmbraun › status

    https://osf.io/preprints/socarxiv/v6gue

    https://www.benjaminbraun.org/
    *

    Xevram – “Doubling down on the grind.”, yes. And ensuring a very long tail of unaddressed externalities. Near me we now have ‘recycled plastic’ bolards and street furniture everywhere. Slowly decomposing. Market & regulatory failure long tail.

  4. The Federal Coalition has announced a guarantee of $5,4 billion for the proposed Hells Gates Dam in north Queensland. However, the fate of the project still depends on the business case, expected to be released in June, and environmental approvals.

    https://www.abc.net.au/news/rural/2022-03-23/townsville-hells-gates-dam-north-queensland-morrison/100931270

    With all such proposals, it behoves decision-makers to engage in an extended social and environmental cost-benefit analysis that should included consideration of the opportunity cost of $5.4 billion for such a project rather than potential alternative uses of the money. In the case of north Queensland this could include investment in the energy transition from fossil fuels, funding for business start-ups in the region, and even simply dividing $5.4 billion by the adult population of north Queensland and making a cash payment of the dividend to every resident of NQ.

  5. Hells Gate dam is damned.

    Murky waters. Hells Bells! “As part of the Bradfield Scheme”.  Bob Katter says $560 million sunk already. 

    Paul Norton says “even simply dividing $5.4 billion by the adult population of north Queensland and making a cash payment of the dividend to every resident of NQ.”

    Wikipedia says popn Nth Qld  “231,628 (2011) [1]”
    2.89 persons oer square km.

    $5.4bn + Katters $560m sunk to date let’s say  $6bn. = $ 25,903.60 pp.
    Hmmm… might get up in a vote!
    *

    I see an Qld CCC investigation into Hells Gate Dam. Murky deals all around.

    Hells Gate is the correct name. Every one from Rupert Murdoch, Clive Palmer, Adani, , ex-Macquarie bank boss Bill Moss, Qld monopolies, and all the neocons from the Liberal Party incl Costello. – wow – a real self referential, self serving Lesson 1 saga! I still cant find out if the damn dam is worth it! Is it? And report leaked by a person made by it seems finance guy at Townsville City Council -TCC.
    *

    “McCormack, Katter dispute Hell’s Gates Dam
    Fri, 23 April 2021

    “As part of the Bradfield Scheme, which was originally designed to drought-proof much of western Queensland and expanses of South Australia, stage one of the Hell’s Gate Dam proposes a diversion of water down a 150 kilometre channel to an area southwest of Charters Towers.

    “Mr Katter believes if the dam wall isn’t erected 395 metres high, 350,000 hectares of land for irrigation will be wasted.

    “He (the deputy PM) has got a scheme that’s going to irrigate 50,000 acres of land and I’ll tell you who will own that land, it will be the cotton kings of NSW who bank roll his political party,” the maverick 

    https://thewest.com.au/business/agriculture/mccormack-katter-dispute-hells-gates-dam-c-2668691
    *

    “Katter calls on ScoMo to commit to projects
    04 Oct 2018 – Northern Miner, Charters Towers QLD
    …“looking into” projects and wanted to see real action on Big Rocks Weir and Hells Gate Dam.
    “The cost of looking into it has now hit $560 million over a period of the last 20 years . without a single shovel of concrete across a gutter,” …
    https://kap.org.au/kap-in-the-media-this-week-16/
    *

    Circumstances may rescue Townsville City Council (TCC) as Moss has a proposal to make a “stock called Magnis Resources. Magnis has a mine in Tanzania producing graphite, the expensive mineral vital to the manufacture of lithium batteries” on land gifted by TCC to Magnis.

    Hells Gates Dam in north Queensland. 
    Leads to:
    Townsville Enterprise
    https://www.townsvilleenterprise.com.au/about-us/board-of-directors/

    On board;  Townsville City Council, Sun Metals Zinc Refinery, Port of Townsville Limited, FGH Group, Colliers Townsville, The Ville Resort-Casino, Keir Steele Waldon, …
    And, Professor Sandra Harding
    “Harding was one of three commissioners appointed in 2012 to the Commission of Audit into state of Queensland’s finances, which was led by Peter Costello.[2]

    “Harding has been a member of the Leadership Council (previously the Board of Governors) of the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) since 2013–14.[3]
    wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandra_Harding_(sociologist)

    Harding on board of :
    “Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef.”

    Very circular. Very Lesson 1. Very self referencing.  Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef website bereft of corporates using as greenwash.

    With one foot in “oh the reef” and the other in build the dam, irrigate, use the port.

    Imo Sandra, you must have cognitive dissonance.

          “What happens in the tropics over the next 30 years will fundamentally affect the trajectory of the world. It’s that important.”

    “Celebrating her 12th year at JCU, Sandra, an economic sociologist, has academia deeply imprinted in her DNA. 

    https://www.theceomagazine.com/executive-interviews/education/sandra-harding/
    *

    … was prompted by a strategic leak of a ‘feasibility study’ of the Hell’s Gate proposal. Water For Townsville founder Linda Ashton was rightly outraged at the leak, as her group had been promised a briefing on it before it was released.  Stern words (you mess with Ms Ashton at your peril) forced TEL CEO Little Patty O’Callaghan to admit that the report wasn’t finished, inferring it should not have been released. Yeah, sure, Patty.

    “The other interesting fact is that the report’s main author, one David Lynch, Dolan Hayes’ partner in Empower Economics, was given the lucrative TEL contract to cobble together this load of old cobblers for a pretty penny. That done, Mr Lynch now rejoices in the title of City Economist for the TCC, whatever that is.” https://www.townsvillemagpie.com.au/feasibility-fantasies-fact-and-fiction-in-a-leaked-tel-report-on-hells-gate-dam/

    “Is The Reputation Of Another Of Townsville’s Gilded Few Starting To Unravel?

    “Did JCU’s Vice-Chacellor Sandra Harding 
    … [ sacked Ridd, didn’t know other things]
    “And it involves the proposed lithium battery plant , to be sited on gifted council land at Woodstock, land that was or will be  exchanged for an undisclosed equity in this project.

    “…stock called Magnis Resources. Magnis has a mine in Tanzania producing graphite, the expensive mineral vital to the manufacture of lithium batteries. Magnis is central to the Townsville plans, as it will supply the factory here. And battery factory proponent, ex-Macquarie bank boss Bill Moss, is closely tied up with Magnis and the fortunes of its mine.It is seeking to raise money on the ASX, and things have to look rosy to attract investors. And. … what could be rosier than  a factory in north Queensland,
    … ( Courier Mail, Rupert visit, murky)
    https://www.townsvillemagpie.com.au/is-the-reputation-of-another-of-townsvilles-gilded-few-starting-to-unravel/
    *

    https://www.townsville.qld.gov.au/water-waste-and-environment/water-supply-and-dams/dam-levels

  6. The shadow carbon price – Risk. 

    And déjà vu, by JQ – 13 years [fn^1

    And striving for change, are all Joe (Johnny), “… after months [13yrs] and months of banging his head on his pillow”. [fn^2]
    *

    “Risk is taking the place of a price on carbon

    “For 20 years, federal politicians debated the merits of a federally regulated market mechanism to put a price on carbon emissions.

    “An emissions trading scheme, a carbon tax and a carbon price were debated. None survived.

    “Ms Delahunty explained “risk” is now playing a role that could have been played by those policies, which has led to investors pushing for decarbonisation of the economy.

    ”     “It deeply saddens me that there’s no political space for that kind of conversation at a federal level.
    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-03-24/shadow-carbon-price-risk/100914678

    https://www.vu.edu.au/contact-us/mary-delahunty
    *

    fn^1.
    JQ -13 years, it seems, the past is the present.

    “Risk” ( Déjà vu )
    FEBRUARY 14, 2009
    JOHN QUIGGIN

          “Over the last few months, we have been reminded again and again how fragile the foundations on which our lives are built can be. Thousands of people have seen lifetimes of work and savings destroyed by fire or flood, or swept away in the incomprehensible cataclysms of financial markets. Tragically, in the recent bushfire disaster, financial losses have been overshadowed by the loss of hundreds of lives.

         “And despite technological advances, improved information and organizational innovations, individuals and governments have proved unable to prevent, and only a little to mitigate, the impact of these disasters.”

        “How can we respond better to the risk of extreme events? One lesson that needs to be learnt is that of the danger of hubris and complacency. The fact that some problem has been successfully managed for a number of years, does not mean it has been solved, and can be ignored. Otherwise success in managing relatively minor shocks can make big disasters even worse.

         “There are some classic examples of this problem in flood mitigation,. Levee banks that prevent minor floods can reduce preparedness for the rare, but inevitable severe floods that break the banks.

         “We must also look for better ways to spread risk, so that the costs of extreme events are shared….
    https://johnquiggin.com/2009/02/14/risk/

    “Refuted economic doctrines #4: individual retirement accounts

    “The news that, on average, superannuation investments lost nearly 20 per cent of their value last yearJohnny Got His Gun movie download comes as no surprise, and its likely that there are plenty of unrealised losses still on the books.”…
    https://johnquiggin.com/2009/01/23/refuted-economic-doctrines-4-individual-retirement-accounts/

    More JQ déjà vu:
    “Some arithmetic on retirement income
    APRIL 3, 2009
    https://johnquiggin.com/2009/04/03/some-arithmetic-on-retirement-income/
    *

    fn^2.
    As JQ has referenced, above feels alot like:
    Johnny Got His Gun
    …” Joe successfully communicates these desires with military officials after months and months of banging his head on his pillow in Morse code. 

    “However, he realizes that the military will not grant his wishes, as it is “against regulations”. It is implied that he will live the rest of his natural life in his condition.

    “As Joe drifts between reality and fantasy, …”
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johnny_Got_His_Gun
    *

  7. “Confronting State Capture

    “How corporations have eroded our democracy, and what we can do about it

    Australian Democracy Network

    “By its nature, state capture is usually hidden, often in plain sight. The scandals that hit the news are the tip of the iceberg. The report breaks done six modes of influence used in state capture;

    Financial interventions in politics

    Lobbying and personal influence

    Revolving doors and personnel exchange

    Institutional repurposing

    Research and policymaking

    Public influence campaigns

    “The report also explores two case studies in detail and sets out four recommendations on how to confront state capture.

    ” The report also sets out four recommendations on how to con

    “So what can be done?

    “This report makes a compelling case that state capture is a problem eating away at the foundations of our democracy, our way of life and everything we care about most.

    “It’s a huge problem, but it’s not bigger than us. If you read this report and want to do something positive about the problem of state capture, come and join us.
    https://australiandemocracy.org.au/statecapture

    Confronting State Capture
    Read the Full Report

    Click to access state-capture-report-2022-online.pdf

    Real world examples

    State capture is used by many different industries, and this report deeply investigates two of the worst examples in Australia.

    Fossil fuel industries

    “We know more about energy policy than the government does. We know more about industry policy than the government does. We know where every skeleton in the closet is – most of them, we buried.”
    Fossil industry lobbyist

    Arms industry
    “Despite the effort and priority accorded to maintaining a healthy local defence industry, there’s surprisingly little hard data in the public domain about the size and shape of the sector.”
    Australian Strategic Policy Institute, 2017

  8. The (female) Prime Minister of Estonia (Kaja Kallas) nails it: the Putin version of Russia is utterly antithetical to the rest of the continent having peace; it is expansionist in its ideology of a reinvigorated Russian Empire. The difficulty is that we have to confront Putin head on, and that could, potentially, lead to an earlier WWIII than if we held off for a few years, watching the Putin Circle poaching small countries from the EU or NATO zones. At some point, it will become intolerable, but by that point, Putin’s Circle will have control of a much bigger country than they do now, already the largest country in the world. Really, if they can’t be happy with 11% of the world’s land mass, why would the sudden addition of Ukraine be enough for them? In other words, it isn’t really about the land mass, as such. It is about some quite abstract notion, i.e. the Ideology, that is driving this war, and the wars to come.

    As a few other people, far more qualified than myself, have pointed out, the current situation of worrying about what Putin might or might not do with respect to some reasonable action in the Ukraine, it is how the Hitler Nazis gained so much territory, before they were finally challenged. The lesson from that was it how costly it is to confront the totalitarian later, rather than sooner.

    Nobody wants a nuclear war (except maybe a dickhead). That said, if we operate in total fear of what some other person might or might not do, we fail to act with moral strength, and we forgo the opportunity to assert our own rights against that of the aggressor. I’ve heard all sorts of arguments about giving Putin an “off-ramp,” a way of “saving face.” These arguments are the tin-ear of all time, for the entire reason Putin is on the current path is that he quite frankly doesn’t care about some supposed sense of face in the international arena; he figures that if he can bulldoze one of the biggest countries in the world, there is no doubt who is the big man. I’ll merely point out he is a pasty faced chinless wonder.

    We know that many countries could blow up the big cities of the world. So, f**king, what? We cannot stop them on an individual basis. With respect to the Russia of Putin, I’d finish with this comment: He has sowed the wind,… He has chosen the path of greatest destruction, and perhaps he hasn’t contemplated—I am sure of this—the massive destruction of Russia, of Russian people, their homes and their villages and towns and cities. How else does Putin think this will end, if he continues along his current trajectory?

    In what Universe does the Totalitarian think it is a good idea to bet on snake-eyes? Seems to be their one enduring trait, to the detriment of the rest of us—including their own citizens, for whom they vaingloriously espouse great empathy and caring…all bulldust, sadly.

    If Putin simply didn’t, if he left Ukraine with its borders, and if Russia engaged in friendly trade, what would have been the harm of that future? Nothing, not unless you are a paranoid dictator with totalitarian ambitions, quite frankly. That’s what we have in front of us, and we have to deal with that reality, and not some preferable alternate reality.

  9. With Russia empire building and in doing so, driving up the price of our beloved hydrocarbons you would think that now would be an excellent time to ramp up renewables and become independent from those fragile and volatile energy markets

    But our very weak PM has buckled under the weight of the big corporate backers and will now send shiploads of coal to the Ukraine, presumably in our national interest.

    Our govt is the publicity arm of big $$

  10. rog “will now send shiploads of coal to the Ukraine” seems to be just a boondoggle and political announcement maneuver. Ala Hells Gate.

  11. JQ, et all, how we do we support;
    – lowing the barriers to
    – careful, fair, substantive economic critiques?
    *

    From “Arguing without warning”…

    “So how about: The world needs more high-quality disagreement.

    “Economically speaking, careful, fair, substantive critiques are undersupplied. We need to lower the barriers to making them, not raise them.”

    https://dynomight.substack.com/p/arguing-without-warning

  12. ! “A quarter of medical researchers involved in clinical trials in Australia did not declare funding from pharmaceutical companies.

    “Undisclosed industry payments rampant in drug-trial papers”

    … unfortunately go hand in glove with my posts above;
    – Modern Capitalism Is Weirder Than You
    – Murky waters. Hells Bells!
    – Tyre externalities.
    – The shadow carbon price – Risk
    – Confronting State Capture

    Add subsidiaries, monopolies, monsoponies, pork barrels and greed and lax ethics.
    *

    “One in four Australian medical researchers involved in drug trials failed to declare money they had received from pharmaceutical companies when submitting journal manuscripts, a study reports.

    “The authors cross-checked statements on financial conflicts of interest listed by Australian authors of 120 drug trials published in the first eight months of 2020 against a database of company-made payments reported to Medicines Australia, the country’s pharmaceutical-industry association. The research, published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine1 this month, is one of only a few studies outside the United States to examine discrepancies between drug-company payments made to health professionals and author disclosure statements.

    “The study found that missing or incomplete declarations were common. Half of the trials and a quarter of the 323 Australian authors involved had at least one undeclared financial conflict (see ‘Undeclared Conflicts’), with undisclosed payments ranging from AU$140 to AU$97,600 (US$100 to US$71,000) for consulting, advisory meetings, speaker fees and education events.

    https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-022-00835-8

  13. Scary really.

    “Human Rights and Disinformation Under the Trump Administration: The Commission on Unalienable Rights”

    St. Louis University Law Journal, Vol. 66, 2021
    48 Pages
    Posted: 4 Mar 2022
    Robert C. Blitt
    University of Tennessee College of Law
    Date Written: 2021

    Abstract
    “The former administration of Donald J. Trump shattered norms governing the responsibility to relay accurate, truthful information to the public. Whether regarding trivialities or vital issues of the day, the “Trump Doctrine” unleashed a global torrent of damaging misinformation and disinformation. This penchant for falsehood and distortion did not spare U.S. human rights policy. The administration’s decision to establish a Commission on Unalienable Rights (COUR) represented a high-water mark in its campaign to subvert international human rights norms.

    “After introducing key concepts relating to misinformation and disinformation, this article reviews the establishment of the COUR and the substance of its final report. Among other things, the COUR report prioritizes “unalienable rights” while dismissing other “lesser” or “newer” rights intended to protect vulnerable groups. Coupled with this hierarchical framing, the report aspires to freeze the substance of human rights as it was in 1948 and to invoke state sovereignty as a legitimate shield against international scrutiny of domestic human rights conditions.

    “With this background established, the Article explores how the COUR’s disinformation assault on the common political knowledge shared by democratic states operated to disrupt shared values while empowering authoritarian and illiberal actors. More damaging, this section also demonstrates how the administration compounded this disinformation fissure through its subsequent advocacy of selective elements of the COUR report for the purpose of prioritizing “religious liberty” at the expense of other rights, as well as the United States’ longstanding democratic alliances.

    “The final section of this Article reasons that restoration of the United States’ vital leadership role in the international community is contingent on repairing its commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights both at home and abroad. Despite the Biden administration’s swift, if perfunctory, repudiation of the COUR project, the Article concludes that an effective and durable rebuttal of its pernicious and lingering disinformation will demand more significant policy and educational change.”
    https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=4046025
    *

    …” [25] On June 13, 2019, the U.S. House debated an en bloc amendment which included a provision to defund the Commission.[26][27][28] On June 18, 2019, the U.S. House voted 231–187 in favor of the en bloc amendment.[29][30][31]

    After the release of the commission’s final report, former U.S. Deputy Secretary of StateRori Kramer criticized the commission and in an interview with The Guardian, saying that “[f]rom day one when Pompeo announced this, the intention was always to change the actual working policy of the department to fit his narrow religious views in a way that really upends the normal working order of the department.”[32]
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commission_on_Unalienable_Rights
    *
    Pompeo’s focus on ‘unalienable rights’ legitimises authoritarian practices elsewhere, human rights groups warn https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/sep/17/mike-pompeo-human-rights-women-lgbt-unalienable

  14. I am wondering why Putin insisted on European payments for Russian oil and gas to be made in roubles. Sure energy purchases will have to buy roubles and that will help restore the value of the rouble and help stop worsening Russian inflation. But Russia will get less less foreign reserves. That might be offset by the effects of sanctions which restrict imports but the point of trade is to get such imports not to put further obstacles in the way of importing. In addition, Europeans now have increased incentives to ditch Russian exports particularly those subject to long term contracts. They will also have an escape clause if the contracts specified payment in US dollars. Does Putin really see the future of Russia as an autarchic regime like North Korea?

    The Russian economy has done reasonably in recent years but is still tiny – smaller than Italy or Canada and per capita incomes are low relative to developed western countries – about comparable to those in Mexico and Turkey and about 1/5th those of the US. It is not in a position to pursue a North Korean model but that seems to be its immediate prospects.

  15. Harry,

    Interesting questions. Maybe you have hit the nail on the head. Energy purchasers will have to purchase roubles and push up the price of roubles. Whether that helps Russia overall in the current world system is beyond my technical economic knowledge.

    More broadly, I think it would be valid policy on our part to deliberately reduce strategic exports to, and strategic imports from, large dictatorships totally over time and direct all such trade to allies. The previously suggested principle from the Nixon/Kissinger era on, that economic engagement, trade and use of markets in interaction with authoritarian regimes would induce their progress towards openness and democracy, has manifestly failed. Russia and China have doubled down on oppression and aggression. Trade with them has made these matters worse. We have become entangled with them and significantly dependent on their primary products (Russia) and their manufactured products (China). This entanglement weakens democratic countries and alliances and hamstrings attempts to resist the aggression of authoritarian states.

    The very fact that we are now needing and attempting to use sanctions indicates the failure of engagement. We should disengage completely in my opinion. In other words, implement an absolute zero trade policy with dictatorships.

    Putin is a fascist. Xi is a fascist. (Incidentally, Trump is a would-be fascist.) I think designating them fascists is wholly consistent. If democratic socialist is a valid designation (for example) and I think it is then fascist oligarch and fascist socialist are also valid designations. These different systems of governance and economy seem empirically capable of existing in all combinations.

    Re how Putin sees the future, I do not believe he can or does see it at all beyond himself. Dictators are narcissistic megalomaniacs and either sociopaths or psychopaths. Putin is very clearly a psychopath. If anyone did in the social and criminal realm what he has done in the political realm, including serial murders, posisonings, shootings, tortures, kidnaps and imprisonmentt of rival and critics and the use of subordinates and “soldiers” regardless of their lives, there would be no question of hesitation in diagnosing such a person as a dangerous psychopath completely lacking in empathy or remorse.

    Such psychopathic personalities cannot see the world beyond its existence with them at the center of all existence. The notion of a future beyond the psychopath’s own life, a future that will matter to others alive at that point, when the psyhcopath is alive no more, is incomprehensible to the psychopathic emotionally. He has no vision of or interest the world beyond his own existence and he does not care what happens then. Beyond the grandiose, subjectively infinite value he attaches to his own life and existence, a psychopath is a nihilist about everything else.

  16. pentagon leaks to newsweek contradict state department/nato. there seems to be a schism in the biden cabinet : secretary of state anthony blinken, victoria nuland & nat’l security advisor jake sullivan on the one hand vs defence secretary lloyd austin (general ret’d) on the other. -a.v.
    https://www.newsweek.com/putins-bombers-could-devastate-ukraine-hes-holding-back-heres-why-1690494
    https://taskandpurpose.com/news/ukraine-nato-united-states-russian-casualties/

  17. “The conqueror is always peace-loving (as Napoleon always maintained); he would prefer to enter our capital unopposed. But so that he cannot do this, we must accept war and therefore also prepare for it. In other words, the weak, those who are most in need of defense, should always be armed and thus not be attacked. So wills the art of war.” – Carl von Clausewitz.

    The contemporary Russian military are totally incompetent. Worse than that, their war aims (Putin’s war aims) were and are utter nonsense. Ukraine was no threat to Russia. Ukraine was not going to invade Russia. That was and is quite impossible. But Putin knows that. He intended to conquer the whole of Ukraine for his own “glory” and thought it would be a simple cake walk to take an easy prize.Putin has done inestimable damage to Russia.

    I thought Russia was a conventional military superpower (leaving aside nuclear calculations). It turns out that Russia’s armored ground forces are junk, mostly 40 years out of date,and their crews and infantry are green, frightened conscripts. Their artillery is numerous and powerful but their targeting is poor. Artillery is useless if it can’t be defended by armor and ground troops. As Carl von Clausewitz wrote , IIRC, “The infantry is the arm most capable of operating independently and the artillery the least capable.” Without a strong infantry, the rest of the arms are useless. It is clear Russia’s infantry is weak, at least operating outside of Russia. At home, they might be a different proposition. Putin said Ukraine was part of Russia. Everybody knows, you don’t invade Russia! Russia’s air-force also failed to establish air superiority over Ukraine. Overall, an extraordinarily weak performance by all the arms and the signature incompetence of totalitarianism.

    Russia gave no quarter. They deserve no quarter. However, as matter of avoiding a nuclear WW3 they have to be given an escape route. We can only hope that Putin will be deposed in the aftermath of this fiasco.

  18. rog, yes, “the nords highly regarded reputation is based on mythology.”.

    Amnesia? People forget “Once lockdown was first announced in the UK deaths per million actually fell below Sweden’s.”

    Graph from:
    December 1, 2020
    “Why trying to ‘live with COVID’ meant another lockdown”
    https://mcdreeamiemusings.com/blog/2020/11/30/nbspwhy-trying-to-live-with-covid-meant-anothernbsplockdown
    *

    “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death: The liberal case for lockdown

    “If we take liberalism to its extreme we reject any form of government. This is where we find anarchism and libertarianism. And yet more contradictions. For the anarchist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon “all property is theft.” For the libertarian Ayn Rand “a free mind and a free market are corollaries.”  It is the libertarian wing of the Conservative Party which makes up the CRG.  They campaign for liberty against lockdown. Yet they also were the MPs most willing to support the absolute removal of the rights of UK citizens to live, work and trade without barriers with the European Union.”

    “In other words when it comes to COVID-19 you don’t have to choose between liberty or death. A liberal would tell you that you can have both.”
    https://mcdreeamiemusings.com/blog/2021/2/11/give-me-liberty-or-give-me-death-the-liberal-case-for-lockdown

  19. “ Mandatory legislation was seldom used; recommendations relying upon personal responsibility and without any sanctions were the norm. Many elderly people were administered morphine instead of oxygen despite available supplies, effectively ending their lives.

    If Sweden wants to do better in future pandemics, the scientific method must be re-established, not least within the Public Health Agency. It would likely make a large difference if a separate, independent Institute for Infectious Disease Control is recreated.

    We recommend Sweden begins a self-critical process about its political culture and the lack of accountability of decision-makers to avoid future failures, as occurred with the COVID-19 pandemic.

  20. “ Mandatory legislation was seldom used; recommendations relying upon personal responsibility and without any sanctions were the norm. Many elderly people were administered morphine instead of oxygen despite available supplies, effectively ending their lives.

    If Sweden wants to do better in future pandemics, the scientific method must be re-established, not least within the Public Health Agency. It would likely make a large difference if a separate, independent Institute for Infectious Disease Control is recreated.

    We recommend Sweden begins a self-critical process about its political culture and the lack of accountability of decision-makers to avoid future failures, as occurred with the COVID-19 pandemic.”

  21. This is Death by Torture “Iranian asylum seeker found dead in Villawood detention centre”.^1

    This is not lockdown nor Detention. Nor an acceptable death. Torture.

    JQ said in 2013 “The treatment of asylum seekers has shown Australia at our worst, driven by fear and bigotry”.^2

    A very easily preventable death –
    ^1. …
    “he had not left his room for the past two weeks and was found dead about 1pm on Saturday.”

    “He had been detained in Villawood for two years, it said.”

    “It is understood that the man took his own life

    “The Refugee Action Coalition has been told that the dead asylum seeker had been assaulted a couple of weeks ago and was the victim of another assault last night (Friday 25 March).

    “Home Affairs and medical provider, International Health and Medical Services Pty Ltd (IHMS), are already the subject of court proceedings regarding the suicide death of a detainee in Villawood in 2019.

    “It is also alleged that Home Affairs and IHMS failed to provide necessary training, information, and supervision to mental health staff in relation to their care for that detainee.

    March 26, 2022
    https://www.refugeeaction.org.au/?p=16266

    Due to our recurrent amnesia. My sincere apologies. Useless.

    The bastards can’t even say the S word – suicide. 

    Government, private enterprise, Serco’s shareholders actions and profits will easily eclipse providing this dead guy a house and dole for 2 years.

    ^2.
    JQ? Economic Torture Consequences please.

    You said in 2013: “The treatment of asylum seekers has shown Australia at our worst, driven by fear and bigotry. But with a serious effort to drive a global response to the problems of refugees, we could go a long way to redeem ourselves.”

    “Is there a solution to the refugee problem?
    JULY 21, 2013
    https://johnquiggin.com/2013/07/21/is-there-a-solution-to-the-refugee-problem/

    Today, I hate Déjà vu. 9 years coming 2013 to 2022.

  22. I’ve noticed that avowed “Socialist” (World Socialist Website) and “Marxist” websites (Monthly Review) show no nuance is denouncing the US and NATO and blaming them completely for the war in Ukraine. The misplaced support for Russia is astounding. It’s as if they think Putin’s Russia is a socialist or Marxist state. I guess that is what they think. They never actually tell us what kind of state they think Russia is these days. There is no word space left after the endless denunciations and recitations of the capitalist West’s failures. I often agree with that side of it. I am a critic of capitalism too.

    But can they not see that Russia is now a totally capitalist state? Specifically, it is a crony capitalist oligarchic state with a dictator. A consistent Marxist (who is probably almost as mythical as the true Scotsman) would note that the US & NATO versus Russia conflict is a capitalist on capitalist war. In the past, Marxists were capable of making this kind of assessment. They certainly made it about Germany versus Western Europe and US with WW1 and WW2.

    The reaction of the Ukrainians themselves is surely a litmus test; a people’s judgment on where they want their future to be. They are voting with their bodies. The mothers and children flee sensibly for safety. They want no part of being absorbed by totalitarian Russia. The able men and many able, unencumbered women too, are fighting with extraordinary tenacity and courage. Is this the behavior of a people tricked, manipulated and pressured into wanting to be somehow a part of the West or is it the behavior of people who know their own minds? I suggest it is the latter.

    Western capitalism is full of faults. It too is dominated by oligarchs and cronies. But it retains significant aspects of democracy and social and political policies which one can still term democratic socialist, especially in the EU. Blind, doctrinaire Marxist support of a nation without a shred of effective Marxism or democratic socialism left in it is the height of absurdity and the very essence of inflexible dogma failing to accommodate real complexities.

    I’m particularly disappointed in the Monthly Review who do have many brilliant and valid articles and critiques of late stage neoliberal capitalism. They make the same mistake with China too: another nation which despite its remnant socialist characteristics at the grassroots, is top-down is a crony capitalist oligarchic state with a dictator. Any semblances of these states to Marx’s ideas are long gone. Capitalism, as Marx predicted would triumph globally before any further nascent possibilities, like socialism, could emerge. But Marx never said socialism was inevitable, only that barbarism was the other alternative.

    The war of the (capitalist) elites against the peoples of the world has begun everywhere (not to mention the war on nature). The war takes different forms in different capitalist countries. Sometimes they fight each other. Sometimes they fight their own poor, dispossessed and minority populations. Sometimes the weapons are military, sometimes the weapons are financial, sometimes the weapons are disinformation like the disinformation weaponized to barbarically force COVID-19 infection on the global population and convince people that being continually at risk from evolving and worsening COVID-19 is freedom.

    Socialism or barbarism? Our choice and we ought to remember that barbarism equals extinction.

  23. Sunday evening light reading.

    …”here are some of the passages I highlighted from the book.

    Page 4:
    “Capitalism! It was important to hate it, even though it was how you got money. Slowly, slowly, she found herself moving toward a position so philosophical even Jesus couldn’t have held it: that she must hate capitalism while at the same time loving film montages set in department stores.

    Page 4:
    “Politics! The trouble was that they had a dictator now, which, according to some people (white), they had never had before, and according to other people (everyone else), they had only ever been having, constantly, since the beginning of the world. Her stupidity panicked her, as well as the way her voice now sounded when she talked to people who hadn’t stopped being stupid yet.

    Page 51:
    “Some people were very excited to care about Russia again. Others were not going to do it no matter what. Because above all else, the Cold War had been embarrassing.

    Page 52:
    “In contrast with her generation, which had spent most of its time online learning to code so that it could add crude butterfly animations to the backgrounds of its weblogs, the generation immediately following had spent most of its time online making incredibly bigoted jokes in order to laugh at the idiots who were stupid enough to think they meant it. Except after a while they did mean it, and then somehow at the end of it they were Nazis. Was this always how it happened?
    *
    “Highlights from Patricia Lockwood’s No One Is Talking About This

    https://kottke.org/22/03/highlights-no-one-is-talking-about-this

  24. fox business – host : stuart varney – guest : col. douglas macgregor (ret’d)

  25. alfred venison,

    I’ve written several acerbic replies and struck them all out. I’ll simply say I think Douglas Macgregor is wrong at all levels. Must… restrain… my typing fingers… now.

  26. only its not just macgregor. did you read the newsweek article? three pentagon sources more or less agree with macgreagor. The pentagon leaked to “task & purpose”, too, an armed services e-magazine. there is a split in biden’s cabinet and its coming out and defence secretary austin is behind it. good night, sleep tight, don’t let the bedbugs bite. -a.v.

  27. Just been reading an article about Corona in China, which reminded me of one very stupid line of reasoning against vaccine mandates “even China (implication the evil opressive dictatorship) has no vaccination mandate”. There are a few reasons why China would and should not do what is apropiate in a western nation. The urgency is, or at least was not there until recently, the culture makes non-mandates as binding as some western laws. There is also another reason: China probably has no mandate because it is an evil dictatorship. Incidents of a certain puzzling disregard for the death of elderly people unless one has personal ties with them are quite come there. That remains true when accounting for development level or collectivists nations willingness to sacrifice people for the greater good. So that does not seem independet of being a one party state. And those elderly are precisly the ones that could fall victim to the Chinese vaccination strategy. Just hope China suceeds in supression of the omcricon variant, at least until vaccination coverage and quality improves.

  28. alfred venison,

    Macgregor presupposes that Russia is an economic and demographic superpower. It is not. Russia cannot sustain the position it has taken. It has 140 million people, a puny count for a superpower. Its economy is also insufficient to support superpower status. On GDP PPP, Russia’s economy ranks 6th in the world, falling below Germany but above Indonesia. Only China, 1st and USA 2nd have true superpower economies in relation to the rest. Only China and India (3rd on PPP) have true superpower populations (over 1 billion people).

    Russia is crumbling demographically and economically. Only possession of nuclear weapons and nuclear infrastructure (also crumbling), land area, much of it melting tundra and general resources confers any status on Russia at all (in the great power stakes). Russia today is a classic case of strategic overreach. Conventionally, they cannot even defeat a third rate power, namely Ukraine. Their attempts to do so and their attempts to keep territory in the east of Ukraine will weaken them further. Putin is doing a wonderful job of weakening Russia much further. He’s fallen for the now-classic “rope a dope” strategy. Ukraine is on the ropes but still standing and Russia simply exhausts itself trying to defeat them. I doubt Russia can do anything but retreat now. How far it retreats is open to question at this stage.

    The correct strategy is to attrit Russia by supplying Ukraine so long as it is willing to fight and also to impose complete isolating economic embargoes and sanctions on Russia. The USA and NATO of course cannot enter Ukraine’s ground or airspace with their forces. They cannot be the ones to precipitate a nuclear war. Military men like Douglas Macgregor do not understand the relationship between economic power and military power. They don’t even understand that tanks are trending to obsolescence. Macgregor is an old, bull-headed tanker who took risks in the Battle of 73 Easting (Gulf War) that were audacious but would also have had him court-martialed if the attack failed. Fortunately, for Macgregor, Iraq had the old useless tin cans that passed for tanks in Russia and to this very day.

    Russia is top-heavy. Its economic base and even demographic base cannot support a superpower army. It is bankrupting itself in the attempt. “Bankrupting” we can understand in real resource terms as well as in financial terms. The proof on the military side is the poor morale, poor condition and poor technology of the Russian military. Breakdowns, desertions, communication and logistic failures attrit their army as fast as the enemy does.

    Old, heavy armor warfare is becoming obsolete, The infantry is coming back into its own, with a two-man team being capable of killing any main battle tank in Russia’s armory. Cheap missiles and cheap drones own the battlefield, at least the kind of battlefield Russia sets up with armor 40 years out of date, failure to attain air supremacy and WW2 strategies and tactics on the ground. Russia has made a huge mistake entering Ukraine. This misadventure will accelerate their decline.

    “After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Macgregor appeared on three Fox News programs to speak in support of Russia’s actions. Russian state television broadcast excerpts of Macgregor’s appearances, which included a characterization of Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy as a “puppet,” that Russian forces had been “too gentle” in the early days of the invasion and that Russian president Vladimir Putin was being “demonized” by the United States and NATO. Macgregor said he believed Russia should be allowed to seize whatever parts of Ukraine it wanted. After one of his appearances, Macgregor’s comments were characterized by veteran Fox News Pentagon correspondent Jennifer Griffin as “appeasement” and that he was being an “apologist” for Putin. After Griffin’s remarks, Tucker Carlson — who hosted Macgregor on two successive nights — remarked, “Unlike many of the so-called reporters you see on television, he is not acting secretly as a flack for Lloyd Austin at the Pentagon. No, Doug Macgregor is an honest man.” Trey Gowdy, another Fox News host who interviewed Macgregor, said his viewpoint was “stunning and disappointing.”[35][36][37][38] U.S. representative Liz Cheney said of Macgregor “This is the Putin wing of the GOP.” – Wikipedia.

    Frankly, you are quoting with approval the Putin wing of the GOP. You are supporting a fascist dictator, Vladimir Putin. With his extreme dictatorial style, hyper-nationalism, ethnic chauvinism, historical mythology, imperialist agenda and support of corporate oligarchy at home he is in fully line with the quintessential model of fascism. There is no appeasing fascists as history has taught us.

  29. If it would not cause so much suffering, one could laugh about that Russian invasion. So why again are western nations increasing military budgets? Nato military spending remains a useless provocation for anyone else. Instead of setting a minimum at 2% of gdp, Nato should have a maximum of 1%, real 1%, not 1%+ secret service+nukes+health insurance+pensions for soldiers all off the books. That invasion has strengthend the case for restraint. Not in public perception where the paranoid xenophobs in the Baltics and Poland are suddenly taken serious.

  30. A Goehring & Rozencwajg blog post on Mar 24 titled The Oil Crisis is Unfolding in Slow Motion included:

    How could so many people get it so wrong for so long?

    As we go to print, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has just announced the largest set of upward demand revisions in its history. For several years, we have discussed how the IEA chronically underestimates demand; these revisions suggest we were right. Despite the significance of the shift, most people were not even aware it took place. After a full decade of investor apathy (or outright hostility), it is difficult to change people’s minds.

    What follows is a study of unintended consequences and the impacts of massive capital distortions. For nearly a decade, the energy industry has underinvested in its upstream business; it was naïve to think this wouldn’t have any impact.

    Oil prices stand at eight-year highs, and we believe they are heading higher. How high could crude rally in this cycle? We would not be surprised if prices ultimately spiked to between $150 and $200 per barrel. Natural gas prices reached $300 per oil-equivalent barrel in Q4, and the fundamentals in the oil markets are as bullish, if not even more so.

    Volatility will likely increase as well. Global inventories are at their lowest seasonal levels ever, leaving us extremely vulnerable to any supply disruption, just as geopolitical turmoil seems to be accelerating. OECD inventories peaked in the summer of 2020 at the height of COVID lockdowns at 4.8 bn barrels – 245 mm barrels more than normal for that time of the year. Inventories are currently down to 4.1 bn bbl – 327 mm barrels less than normal for this time of year. Relative to seasonal averages, oil inventories have never been lower in our dataset going back to 1995.

    https://blog.gorozen.com/blog/the-oil-crisis-is-unfolding-in-slow-motion

    There are suggestions that there will likely be an announcement that some of the fuel excise will be cut in the Australian Government budget tomorrow. How much by is anybody’s guess, but will it make much difference?
    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-03-27/josh-frydenberg-hints-at-fuel-excise-cut-in-federal-budget/100942580

    Australian average state/territory retail diesel fuel prices are currently:
    NSW: $2.14 per litre
    VIC: $2.20
    QLD: $2.21
    WA: $2.03
    SA: $2.16
    TAS: $2.25
    ACT: $2.22
    NT: $2.33
    https://fuelprice.io/qld/?fuel_type=diesel

    If oil prices breach US$150 per barrel or even get to $200, then Australian fuel prices could then climb much higher than the current $2.20 per litre price, perhaps beyond $2.50 (excluding any excise cut), negating any benefits from any excise cut.

  31. Given the amount of fossil fuel I use these days, I don’t care if it goes to $5.00 a litre. As soon as eletric cars are value for money I will switch or I could even live taking electric taxis. If the world was really motivated, which it should be, surface goods transport can be weaned of fossil fuels very quickly; certainly by 2030.

  32. The $oil will effect low income earners the most – what is needed is a plan and a commitment to move to a more reliable, cost effective and non polluting source of energy.

  33. ikonoklast : i’m at a loss where to start, but something, however unstructured, is better than nothing.

    air superiority :-
    1a/ why is zelenskii calling for a no fly zone, if russia does not have air superiority?

    1b/ why doesn’t ukraine enforce its own no fly zone, if russia does not have air superiority?

    2/ why is the cream of the ukrainian army, the 80,000 men surrounded on the donbass frontier, not provided with close air support? why is that army running out of food, ammo & fuel – why is a relief column not forced through to them, if russia does not have air superiority?

    3/ why was the russian army surrounding mariupol never attacked by the ukrainian air force in close air support of the defenders, if russia does not have air superiority?

    4/ same with kharkiv : why no ukrainian close air support of the defenders, if russia does not have air superiority?

    russian tanks :-
    1/ russia & unkraine are using similar “obsolete” armour.

    2/ why are apparently more russian tanks destroyed than ukrainian tanks? could it be because the ukrainian army is out of fuel & out of ammo & surrounded in 3 distinct cauldrons/ pockets and its tanks are therefore unable to mount sorties against russian forces? tanks which are surrounded, out of ammo & unable to move are as good as destroyed but don’t show up as such in sites like orynx (*).

    3/ why are the various locally successful ukrainian attacks on russian armour/ forces never followed up with any sustained counter attack? could it be that ukraine has effectively no reserves? that its forces are surrounded, isolated in separate cauldrons/ pockets, out of communication, and therefore unable to support each other?

    backward failing superpower :-
    1/ hypersonic cruise missiles : russia has hypersonic cruise missiles (the kinzhal, for one) and is using them in ukraine. every other day there is news of russia destroying yet another ukrainian ammunition depot, fuel depot, or military airfield using hypersonic cruise missiles. today (last night) an ammunition depot & military airfield outside lviv were destroyed by hypersonic cruise missiles. back on march 18 it was a massive attack on the training base at yavoriv on the polish border by hypersonic cruise missiles. russian hypersonic cruise missiles travel at mach 12, they cover 4.1km per second, they have a range of 2000km, they are impossible, atm, to detect & track or intercept. china & the united states do not yet have operational hypersonic cruise missiles, they have prototypes in test stages; china is said to be closer than america to putting one into production but its not there yet, russia *is* there & has been since 2017.

    2/ the t-14 armata : if tanks are passe & if russia is a backward superpower, why are britain, france and germany urgently scrambling to upgrade their main battle tank fleets with quick fixes & whole new systems (expected to come into production circa 2030(!)) *in response to* russia’s development & production of the t-14 armata? these tanks are presently in production & in the russian inventory now.

    3/ anti-tank weapons : infantry anti-tank weapons require an unscrambled electronic environment, t-14 armatas are equipped with electronic counter measures to scramble infantry anti-tank weapons’ guidance systems. for every measure there is a counter-measure. why you might ask isn’t russia deploying its state of the art t-14 armatas in ukraine? i suspect it is for the same reason the americans aren’t providing ukraine with cutting edge abrams m1-a2 tanks : neither country wants its cutting edge/ game changing/ next generation technology falling into their opponents hands.

    there is a not so old saying : the russian arms industry produces arms, the american arms industry produces profits. i will refrain from providing links so as not to end up in moderation.
    again, i urge you to read at least the newsweek article & ask yourself why the pentagon feels a need to leak information that flatly contradicts the state department narrative. try the pentagon kool-aid for a change & reflect on why there is a schism in the biden cabinet between the warriors & the neo-conservative diplomats, the neo-cons who have long claimed america is so powerful it can create its own reality, the people who brought us the afghanistan & iraq debacles. -regards, a.v.

    (*) note on orynx, a turkish “clearing house” site for armour “kills”. orynx lists as confirmed “kills” only those that are supported by photo or video evidence. russian troops are prohibited from taking mobile phones into the theatre of war/ “special operation” zone. do you see at least one systemic problem with that site’s data collection modus operandi that might affect reporting?

  34. alfred venison,

    1a/ Zelenskii is calling for a no fly zone which would establish air supremacy. US/NATO could establish air supremacy over Ukraine but only at the risk of starting WW3.

    1b/ Russia currently has some degree of air superiority but not air supremacy. (I should have used the term “air supremacy”.) It’s not an adequate level of air superiority its operations in all areas over Ukraine. A poor performance from a supposed superpower. Russia is in a position of strategic overreach. (Globally, the USA is too but that’s another issue.)

    2/ I am not sure where the cream of the Ukrainian army is. Where is your proof as to where they are and their condition?

    3/ Mariupol etc. My point was Russia did not have effective air superiority over the whole of Ukraine. For a supposed superpower this is a very weak performance.

    4/ As above.

    russian tanks :-

    1/ russia & unkraine are using similar “obsolete” armour. Sure. Ukraine is not a superpower or a second rank power.

    2/ why are apparently more russian tanks destroyed than ukrainian tanks? Russia started with many more.

    3/ Ukraine is fighting a defensive war and an asymmetric war. It is fighting to what strengths it has which is the only wise and possible course of action for them. And it has stalled the Russian invasion for now.

    backward failing superpower :-

    1/ hypersonic cruise missiles: honestly blah. blah, blah. When dictators are failing they put their faith in superweapons. The misspending is gargantuan. Meanwhile they have raw recruits, obsolete armor, atrocious logistics and atrocious comms, command and control.

    2/ the t-14 armata : if tanks are passe etc. The West is not immune to “fighting the last war not the next one.”

    3/ anti-tank weapons etc. An unusable weapon, for whatever reason, is a useless weapon. Not using best weapons (eg. t-14 armata) while conscripts die like flies. Wow, what a morale booster. It’s working so well too.

    I’ll remind you that Russia as the Soviet Union had an Afghanistan debacle too. Now, it is having a Ukraine debacle.

    Overall, I am not saying Ukraine will win. They might stalemate Russia enough for a long term win or a partial loss (partition). Even if Russia wins militarily in some fashion, it will be a Pyrrhic victory. Look up that term and absorb the concept. Russia will be diminished no matter what the outcome of the Ukraine war. I take the guns and butter argument seriously. A top heavy military compared to the productive base will break a nation or empire. It broke the Soviet Union. Now it is breaking Russia.

    By the by, the USA is in strategic overreach too and crumbling internally from inequality. Did I say that above? If I say one nation is foolish it does not mean I am saying another is wise. Russia and the USA are both foolish. Meanwhile China sits back and watches all its rivals defeat themselves. Currently, they appear wise, at least in some ways. I doubt that wisdom goes very deep there either. Soon China will start to make all its own sorts of foolish moves. That is my prediction. Predicting humans will behave foolishly is almost a sure bet. Predicting dictators and oligarchs will behave foolishly, with respect to preserving the whole (whole nation, whole world) is a completely sure bet. With dictators and oligarchs in charge all over the world our catastrophic collapse is assured. Isn’t it wonderful? Sleep tight.

  35. Northern NSW is under flood warnings again. These sequential, massive “rain bombs” are unprecedented to use the correct but now clichéd word. It is clear we in Australia have entered the Long Climate Emergency which will last for millennia. Yes, you read that word correctly – “MILLENNIA”. It will affect Australia worse than any other nation on earth. The models show this.

    This means we have to completely “re-infrastructure” our entire nation from renewable energy build-outs to housing, building, transport and communication build-outs: climate proofing (and pandemic proofing) our entire society and economy. Anything less we leave us in continuous and finally total collapse as a society and a nation. To take a current example, towns like Lismore and others, or at least anything below a so-called 1 in 10,000 year flood event (which will now come likely with a 1 in 100 year or 1% in any one year probability) will need to be moved to higher ground, lock, stock and barrel.

    Australia must declare a Climate Emergency and a radical “New Economy” NOW to meet the emergency. The old economy caused the emergency. It cannot possibly address it. We must start doing this now or we collapse radically and quickly. The global climate has crossed a threshold and is spinning rapidly out of control with terrifying runaway processes and consequences in store very soon, in a decade or less.

    https://www.abc.net.au/news/science/2022-03-28/antarctica-ice-shelf-size-new-york-city-collapses-heatwave/100944274

    The Antarctic / Arctic heatwaves are off the charts and these levels were not predicted by even the most pessimistic of forecasters. Everything is much worse than anyone ever predicted. Total action now or total collapse. These are the choices. We also face a runaway zoonotic pandemic with many more to come. Climate change and refugee movements will multiply pandemic dangers. These too have to be treated as national and global emergencies.

    The great majority of national spending will have to be directed to these emergencies. Discretionary spending on all the non-emergency ephemera of our society will have to largely cease if we want to survive. It’s a clear case of ultimate or existential opportunity cost.

  36. There is lying and there is misinterpreting. However, I argue that I am not lying about, nor am I misinterpreting, the article in question.

    The article is titled “The ‘zero-Covid’ approach got bad press, but it worked – and it could work again.”

    “It could work again” is unambiguous. This is clearly the author’s argument as at 28 March 2022. In context, the article equates “Zero-Covid”, which it admits is not properly defined, to Level 3 – Elimination in a Region.

    While Michael Baker and economist Donald Low both changed their tunes about the period after the first 20 months of the pandemic and are quoted to give both sides of the story, it is far from clear that the author changes her viewpoint. More, she is arguing that elimination if pursued and adhered to would have worked for COVID-19, indeed could still work, in my interpretation. It is the fact that the world refused elimination early in favor of zero to weak mitigation (until the vaccine arrived as the only serious mitigations tsrategy) and then gave up totally (except for mainland China) that caused the evolution of now nearly unstoppable variants. Giving up made it a fait accompli, a self-fulfilling prophecy, that this pandemic of a rapidly mutating virus would become near unstoppable.

    Since we have given up, we have left an open field for an extreme mutated variant to arise. Top epidemiologists now rate the chances of the rise of an extreme variant (sooner or later) as highly likely. When that arises as is almost certain now we will see how much people support “let it rip”. Even the S>A. election result shows that people don’t support “let it rip” plus medical system neglect. The Long COVID’s long tail of destruction of health will also become an intolerable burden for society. Our current course leads to complete health, economic and societal disaster on multiple fronts. It’s totally unsustainable.

  37. The clear war crimes in Bucha, Ukraine (for example) are stunning and sickening. They are patently obvious and merely remain to be properly investigated, documented and brought to international court (with charges in absentia if necessary). Of course, “war crimes” is largely a tautology. Unprovoked, even mostly unprovoked, offensive war is always a crime. The nature of modern warfare commits the aggressor to total war if victory is to be sought at all costs. Unavoidable war crimes ensue when siege warfare results, which it usually does. The modern large city combined with modern weapons is more resistant to conventional siege warfare than medieval walled towns or Vauban fortresses ever were in their times.

    The modern city’s extensive above-surface / below-surface rabbit warren structure plays into this. Every reinforced concrete, block or brick building building is a fortress against most small arms fire and a vantage for anti-armor rocket weapons. Every street is a firing line for enfilade. Every intersection is a kill zone.Reducing everything to rubble is possible but time-consuming and costly. Then ruins and rubble became just another rabbit warren for stubborn defenders.

    The war crimes in Bucha have gone far beyond indiscriminate shelling. They are not unavoidable in the above indiscriminate siege sense. They go far beyond this into the zone of gratuitous, cruel and vengeful slaughter of innocents and non-combatants. We see clear evidence of random shootings, hog-tieing, point blank executions and unfinished, partly filled mass graves. I hope all those who cheered Putin on or found excuses for his actions are thoroughly ashamed of themselves. I suppose they won’t be though. That is the nature of a love of authoritarianism and gratuitous violence. My call of “fascist is as fascist does” simply becomes truer by the day. Putin’s Russia is ideologically and functionally a fascist regime for as far as state power extends in Russia and anywhere else.

    Equally, the West needs to remember that the Vietnam war (for example) was easily as morally execrable and functionally fascist as Russia’s Ukraine war. All this becomes clearer and clearer as media, war reporting and now social media reporting expose war on a necessarily grotesque but simultaneously intimate and extensive scale and on a day by day basis. Cruel aggressors are going to lose the “image war” very quickly. Dictators are going to fall into the Dictator Trap over and over again whilst they attempt unjustified aggressive war.

    Aggressive hot war does not pay in the modern world. The complex networks, the interconnected and often fragile loci and modes of modern production cannot be captured intact, only smashed in the necessary total war with all the economic and supply linkages broken. The home economy of the aggressor suffers great costs too for no reward and then international pariah status and economic / trade / technology isolation. The Dictator Trap awaits all aggressive dictators (another tautology of course). The dictator spurns expert advice. He is the ultimate Dunnings-Kruger type, expert and a know-it-all on everything. He suffers from megalomania and grandiosity on a grand scale so great his reality checking is abysmal. His functionaries and underlings fear to give him any accurate assessments and news on anything, because almost all the news is almost always bad.

    Remember, fascist is as fascist does. Incipient fascist is as supports fascists, neo-fascists and other clearly incipient fascists. Heavy recourse to the fascist slur when justified under the above precepts is fully justified as the curent course of events has proven.

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