Real fucking journalist delusion hours, who up

Link back to the discussion thread.



  • Germany faces wave of bankruptcies, says Commerzbank CEO Manfred Knof RT

“The energy supply in Germany is at risk, supply chains are breaking down, we have high inflation,” Knof was quoted by the Handelsblatt daily as saying.

  • German industry reels from anti-Russian sanctions RT

German industrial production dropped more than expected in March, data released on Friday by the country’s statistics office shows. According to Destatis, Covid-related supply chain issues have been exacerbated by the conflict in Ukraine.

Production slid by 3.9% last month following a 0.1% increase in February, far outstripping expectations of a one-percent decline. On an annual basis, industrial output slumped by 3.5% in March following a 3.1% jump the month before.

  • European banks reveal cost of Russia exit RT

The lenders have so far taken a hit of about $9.6 billion, led by Societe Generale and UniCredit. ING and Intesa Sanpaolo reported that Russian exposure had slashed their combined first-quarter net income by nearly $2 billion.

  • OPEC Stays Silent As EU Rushes To Ban Russian Oil OilPrice

The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its partners in OPEC+ led by Russia decided this week they would not increase their target production figure for next month. Effectively, OPEC+ slapped the EU in the face, as this decision means no additional oil is coming to Europe to replace sanctioned Russian barrels.

  • Orban: Russian Oil Ban Is Like Nuclear Bomb On Hungarian Economy OilPrice

  • Russian energy giant Gazprom announced on Thursday that it will use the onshore capacity of Nord Stream 2, designed to pump natural gas to Germany, for Russia’s domestic market. RT

Gazprom noted that only half of the pipeline’s capacity would be available for Europe if the pipeline was allowed to operate in the future.

  • Ukraine minister calls for immediate Russian energy embargo to make it harder for Putin to fund his military BusinessInsider

  • Europe’s Ban on Russian Oil Has to Be Realistic BusinessInsider

The European Union is working toward a ban on imports of oil from Russia, as well as targeting the country’s wider trade through sanctions on shipping insurance. But it needs to realize that reducing Russia’s oil exports to zero is neither achievable nor desirable.

Hungary, Slovakia and Croatia are already threatening the bloc’s unity over a proposal to phase out imports of Russian crude over the next six months and purchases of refined products by the end of the year. They need to be taken seriously, even if their arguments aren’t accepted in full.

During the company’s first-quarter results presentation last week, Beurden said, “we do not have systems in the world to trace back whether that particular molecule originated from a geological formation in Russia.” In defining what is sanctioned, he added, if a product is “substantially treated, reformed, changed it actually loses its origin.” In other words, diesel exported from an Indian refinery processing Russian crude should be considered Indian diesel.

The alternative would be to impose sanctions on all the products from every refinery that processes Russian crude. In a global market where supply is already tight, particularly for diesel-type fuels, that would be economic suicide.

Yeah, the EU is definitely doing a stellar job of avoiding economic suicide.

  • 3 experts break down why Russia is set to lose its status as a top global oil power under an EU embargo: ‘It could surely cripple the Russian oil and gas industry’. Dude, this time, I swear. It’ll work this time. BusinessInsider

  • Gazprom Tries to Reassure Europe Clients They Can Still Buy Gas Bloomberg

Gazprom PJSC has written to its European clients seeking to reassure them that they can keep paying for gas without breaching sanctions, the latest indication that Russia may be trying to find a way to keep the gas flowing.

“Guys, you don’t– no, you don’t have to keep stabbing yourself, I don’t see why you’re… guys, please, just relax."

  • The [UK] economy is collapsing. Yet I can’t recall a government so devoid of a plan Guardian

  • Confidence? It’s in short supply at the Bank of England Guardian

Asia and Oceania

  • Russia ramps up sales of crude to India; Rosneft reportedly sold 700,000 tons of Urals to an Indian refining major RT

  • Covid and Conflict Complicate Fruit Supply Across Southeast Asia Laotian Times

China’s zero-Covid policy for imports has disrupted the Thai exportation of durian crops, while coffee farmers in Vietnam have resorted to growing avocados and durians due to the high cost of fertilizer amidst the conflict in Ukraine.

Thai farmers aren’t able to profitably sell their crops domestically, either, due to low prices caused by the pile-up of unexportable fruit.

Middle East

  • Between searing drought and Ukraine war, Iraq watchful over wheat IraqiNews

In 2019 and 2020, wheat harvests had reached five million tonnes, enough to guarantee “self-sufficiency” for Iraq

This season, Iraq may only grow 2.5-3 million tonnes of wheat, “not enough for a whole year for the Iraqis,”

  • Iran begins procedures to build a fully domestic nuclear reactor Tehran Times


  • African oil producers gather for Angola congress AfricaNews

  • Somalia requests IMF for financial support extension AfricaNews

Somalia’s government has asked the International Monetary Fund, IMF, to extend its financial support by three months to August 17th. In February the IMF warned that Somalia’s delayed legislative and presidential elections risked the renewal of the three-year budget support programme worth nearly $400 million.

  • Nigeria: No End in Sight As ASUU Strike Enters Third Month AllAfrica

  • Nigeria: Please Don’t Shut Down, Govt Begs Airlines AllAfrica

The Minister expressed concern “about the difficulties being faced by the airline operators in the country in procuring aviation fuel, but said there is little his ministry could do as the issue of aviation does not fall within his purview.

  • Nigeria Is First Nation to Ground Flights as Fuel Costs Soar Bloomberg

  • Zimbabwe suspends bank lending in bid to arrest currency decline Reuters

Zimbabwe’s government on Saturday ordered banks to stop lending with immediate effect in a move Harare said was designed to stop speculation against the Zimbabwean dollar and was part of a raft of measures to arrest its rapid devaluation on the black market.

The southern African country reintroduced a local currency in 2019 after abandoning it in 2009 when it was hit by hyperinflation.

However, the Zimbabwean dollar, which is officially quoted at 165.94 against the U.S. dollar, has continued to slide on the black market, where it is trading between 330 and 400 to the greenback.

North America

  • NOPEC: America’s Last Stand Against OPEC’s Drift To The East OilPrice

The passing on Thursday by a U.S. Senate committee of the ‘No Oil Producing or Exporting Cartels’ (NOPEC) bill is the surest sign yet that Washington has finally run out of patience with Saudi Arabia and with the Saudi-led Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), in their indifference to dealing with high oil prices, their continued dealings with ‘OPEC+’ key member Russia, and their ongoing drift towards the China-Russia axis of power. Washington has decided that the time might be right to up the ante on its former allies and let loose the Damoclean Sword of the NOPEC Bill if necessary, it seems.

  • California says it needs more power to keep the lights on Reuters

  • Decreased immigration is contributing to rising prices and heightened inflation as businesses struggle to find necessary staff amid labor crunch BusinessInsider

The national labor shortage and rising inflation have been partly fueled by decreased immigration, the Associated Press reported.

Immigration rates have dropped significantly in recent years as a result of restrictions enacted by former President Donald Trump’s administration and the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. According to the AP, if immigration rates remained at the same pace it was prior to Trump’s tenure and the arrival of COVID-19, the US would have 2 million more immigrants than it does now.

  • US giant Kraft Heinz will use the metaverse to quash logistical woes. Here’s how it plans to avoid products getting trapped in its supply chain. If I could :jesse-wtf: on this site, I would. BusinessInsider.

  • Cannabis confusion: Thousands of truckers taken off the job amid supply chain woes Politico

The Biden administration is vowing to put more commercial truck drivers on the road to help ease the supply chain snarls plaguing the economy. But one obstacle of the government’s own making is hampering that goal — a federal ban on marijuana use that has sidelined tens of thousands of truckers.

  • Whatever Happened To The $15 Minimum Wage? Bloomberg

It seems like only yesterday that the $15 minimum wage was high on the agenda of every self-respecting progressive politician, including Hillary Clinton in her presidential campaign. The “Fight for 15” was successful in several states and even went statewide in New York and California.

So why aren’t we hearing more about the idea these days? It may be because labor markets are working, just like textbook economics say they should.

Yeah, that makes sense.

South America

  • Colombia’s Shale Boom Might Be Over Before It Even Started OilPrice

The controversial crude oil extraction technique hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking, has long been touted as a solution to Colombia’s rapidly dwindling petroleum reserves. … A temporary ban on fracking has been in place in Colombia since 2018, although the ruling issued by the State Council, the country’s highest administrative tribunal, does not block pilot projects.

Recent events however point to a deteriorating social license for Colombia’s petroleum industry, particularly as community opposition to fracking remains firm which could eventually see the controversial oil extraction technique banned in Colombia. This could not come at a worse time for the strife-torn Latin American country’s oil industry which is struggling to reactivate after the pandemic and continues to be impacted by heightened geopolitical risk. Those risks are further magnified because 2022 is a presidential election year.

  • Fertilizer issues threaten South American soybean crops Producer

Disruptions in Black Sea potash exports will have little impact in the near-term but could play a significant role in determining the fate of South America’s next soybean crop, according to a report by RaboResearch.

Russia and Belarus account for 40 percent of global potash exports.


  • Who’s Cashing in on the War in Ukraine? Fossil Fuel Firms and Agricultural Traders CommonDreams

Coal companies and offshore drilling services have done the best out of the geopolitical crisis, both registering an astonishing 42% increase in their market value.

Agricultural commodity traders have also seen 10% growth in market capitalization in the past two months, profiting hugely from the market instability and rising commodity prices brought about by the conflict.

  • Diesel fuel is in short supply as prices surge — Here’s what that means for inflation. It means bad things, if you couldn’t guess. CNBC

  • The Food Crisis Didn’t Begin With The War In Ukraine PopularResistance

Even before the war in Ukraine, farmers across the U.S. were getting ready for higher prices on seed, fertilizer and crop chemicals. All winter, major farm media was warning farmers to book supplies early as prices would be high and supplies would be short.

  • The Next Frontiers In The Lithium Boom OilPrice

In the U.S., several energy firms are racing to find new lithium supplies to boost production over the next decade and beyond. At present, the only active lithium mine in the U.S. is the Thacker Pass mine in Nevada, meaning that many companies are trying to find other sources across the country.

At present, most lithium supplies come from South America and Australia, with the biggest reserves in Chile. The U.S. produces around 2 percent of the world’s lithium and is home to 4 percent of reserves. To find new sources, the U.S. would likely have to carry out open-pit mining operations or brine extraction, which environmentalists worry could cause environmental damage.

Now, a possible location for lithium mining has been discovered on the California-Mexico border in the Salton Sea - a landlocked lake that could soon become known as the Lithium Valley. The California Energy Commission has been exploring the area since 2019 and believes it could supply around 40 percent of the world’s lithium demand.

It was predicted that China lockdowns would cause container shipping havoc. Six weeks into Shanghai lockdowns, it still hasn’t happened.

“The port [of Shanghai] is open and operating,” said Skou on Wednesday’s quarterly earnings call. Trucking and warehouse disruptions “are slowing things down somewhat and we are seeing an impact on our volumes out of China, but probably less than we would have expected.

Diplomatically and Politically

Involving Ukraine or Russia

  • As Russia marks annual Victory Day, Ukrainians scarred by war reject defeat. It obviously has some western-brain in it, but it’s mostly just interviews with various Ukrainian civilians so it felt wrong to put it in Dipshittery. WaPo

  • No EU fast-track for Ukraine, says Austrian minister - joining the bloc will take more than a decade RT

  • Number of injured people in Russia’s Krasnoyarsk Territory fires climbs to 19 TASS

  • Russia may stab us in the back on 9 May, says Ukrainian Presidential Advisor Podoliak Yahoo

“We do need to understand that Russia desperately wants to do us some sort of evil on 8 or 9 May, so there will probably be some provocations. Unfortunately, we must understand that Russia is behaving irrationally today. That is, they want to do it not from a military perspective, not from the perspective of destroying certain infrastructure, but rather from a purely psychological point of view. I do not expect something radically unconventional, something that may cause panic. I expect the Russians to behave like a classic Russian does: namely, to stab you in the back. In this case, [I expect them] to launch another extra rocket at some peaceful city of ours.”

  • Pope Francis Blames NATO WSJ

Shortly after America’s disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan, Pope Francis quoted former German Chancellor Angela Merkel while criticizing the 20-year war: “It is necessary to put an end to the irresponsible policy of intervening from outside and building democracy in other countries, ignoring the traditions of the peoples.”

The problem is that the Pope was quoting Vladimir Putin, not Mrs. Merkel. That gaffe came to mind when an Italian newspaper published an interview with the Pope Tuesday.

Francis suggested that perhaps “NATO barking at Russia’s gate” had caused Mr. Putin to invade his neighbor, which doesn’t belong to the alliance. “I have no way of telling whether his rage has been provoked,” he continued. “but I suspect it was maybe facilitated by the West’s attitude.” Asked whether it was right to send weapons so Ukraine can defend itself, the Pope said, “I don’t know,” before criticizing the global arms trade.

Since the invasion, Francis has called for an end to the war and criticized the violence, but he hasn’t directly called out Russia for starting the conflict. Now that he finally speaks, he blames NATO for accepting members that want to avoid being invaded by Russia. What a terrible moral signal to send to dictators.


  • Sinn Féin set to be largest party in Northern Ireland assembly Guardian

The party topped the first-preference vote with 29%, which will position its deputy leader, Michelle O’Neill, to become the region’s first minister, the first nationalist to hold the position in a historic turnaround and a severe blow to unionism.

  • Hundreds of Ukrainian refugees removed from UK’s ‘unsuitable’ housing sponsors Guardian

The government is scrambling to rehouse hundreds of Ukrainians granted visas under the Homes for Ukraine scheme because the people they were supposed to stay with have been deemed “unsuitable”, the Observer can reveal.

Refugee charities have warned since the scheme’s launch that with most of the refugees being women and children, and many matches made on social media websites such as Facebook, the scheme risked being targeted by predatory men.

A wide variety of bilateral, regional, and international issues will be considered during the forthcoming ministerial conference, according to Khatibzadeh.

  • Heirs of Hitler’s Billionaires Need to Reckon With the Past. Bloomberg.

Q&A with David de Jong, author of a recent book on wealthy German families with fortunes launched by industrialists complicit in the Holocaust.

I might not even have mentioned this in the update if it wasn’t for the first few paragraphs.

Tobin Harshaw: I want to talk mostly about Nazis — wow, never thought I’d say that sentence — but first, can we touch briefly on Russia and Ukraine, and whether there’s a parallel with Putin and his oligarchs?

David de Jong: The main parallel is that the Russian oligarchs got their stakes in their companies through the “loans for shares” scheme under President Boris Yeltsin in the 1990s, during the Wild West years of Russian democracy. They consolidated their power through this devil’s pact that they formed with Putin in the early 2000s.

TH: And that’s something akin to what happened in Weimar Germany?

DdJ: Likewise, the Weimar Republic was the first time there was ever a democratic republic of Germany; it, too, was politically and economically volatile. The families I write about profited heavily after World War I as speculators, leveraging hyperinflation to their advantage.

The German industrialists and financiers fell in line after Hitler seized power, because they wanted economic stability. And of course you had the draconian measures imposed on Germany by the Versailles Treaty. Hitler promised them mass rearmament, and he delivered on that promise. From 1934 onward, you had billions of Reichsmarks flowing into the coffers of industrialists and their steel and machine-production conglomerates, which then were retooled to become arms companies.

Asia and Oceania

  • China tells US it will not be scared off by sanctions over Taiwan SCMP

The United States will face “unimaginable consequences” if it plays the Taiwan card and Beijing will not be intimidated by sanctions like those on Russia, a Chinese foreign vice-minister has said.

  • Why Taiwan may ultimately benefit from delays to US weapons delivery SCMP

Delayed weapons deliveries to Taiwan are unlikely to have an immediate impact on the island’s defences, but Taiwan may use the delay to request more advanced weapons from the United States, analysts have said.

  • Taiwan says hopes world would sanction China if it invades. It would be pretty entertaining to watch them do that. Reuters

  • U.S. Presses Taiwan to Buy Weapons More Suited to Win Against China NYTimes

  • Japan warns of Ukraine-like conflict in East Asia RT

“We must collaborate with our allies and like-minded countries, and never tolerate a unilateral attempt to change the status quo by the use of force in the Indo Pacific, especially in East Asia,” Kishida said during a meeting with his British counterpart Boris Johnson in London on Thursday. “Ukraine may be East Asia tomorrow,” the Japanese PM added.

  • Some 350 people took part in Immortal Regiment rally in Beijing, at the Russian Embassy. TASS

  • Countdown to COVID Zero – no new cases and only 18 active cases left in Cambodia KhmerTimes

  • China’s robot-built 3D-printed dam ready in 2 years SCMP

China is using artificial intelligence to effectively turn a dam project on the Tibetan Plateau into the world’s largest 3D printer, according to scientists involved in the project.

The 180 metre (590 feet) high Yangqu hydropower plant will be built slice by slice – using unmanned excavators, trucks, bulldozers, pavers and rollers, all controlled by AI – in the same additive manufacturing process used in 3D printing.

When completed in 2024, the Yangqu dam will send nearly 5 billion kilowatt hours of electricity each year from the upper reaches of the Yellow River to Henan, the cradle of Chinese civilisation and home to 100 million people.

Yeah, but have you seen Biden’s awesome infrastructure bill?

Middle East

  • Taliban orders women to cover up head to toe in burqas. NBC

  • Israeli High Court Greenlights Forcible Expulsion Of More Than 1,000 Palestinians In Masafer Yatta PopularResistance

  • EU resumes push to revive JCPOA with last-ditch attempt TehranTimes

The lull in the Vienna talks is over. The European Union has decided to dispatch its coordinator with the hope of breaking the ice amid a pause in the talks which have been put on hold nearly two months ago.

The talks came to a standstill in March after the U.S. refused to make political decisions regarding some terrorism-related sanctions that Iran believes were imposed in the first place to make the revival of the 2015 nuclear deal, formally called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), ever more difficult.

In the last round of talks, Iran demanded that the Biden administration remove the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) from the U.S. State Department Foreign Terrorist Organizations. The U.S. rejected the demand and blamed Iran for the delay in concluding the talks.


The people of Africa’s Sahel region want truly sovereign governments that act in their interests. But U.S. interference, the continued influence of France and other colonizers, and neo-colonial governance all play a part in causing “coup contagion” in West Africa.

  • Burkina Faso’s displaced numbers swell amid jihadi violence; 2 million people displaced WaPo

  • South Africa COVID-19 test positivity rate nears record Fortune

North America

  • American progressives join the War Party AsiaTimes

The Vietnam era marked perhaps the high point of progressive dissent against the American war machine. … Perhaps the most recent example of exemplary progressive bravery on Capitol Hill is that of Representative Barbara Lee, who cast the sole vote in the House against granting the George W Bush administration practically unrestricted power to wage war (via the Authorization for the Use of Military Force, or AUMF) in the wake of the attacks of September 11, 2001.

Now, it seems we have entered a new era. … A look at the roll-call vote in the House shows that only 10 members voted against Cornyn’s bill, all of whom were Republicans.

Not a single Democratic progressive voted against the legislation. All the leaders of the progressive left in Congress, including Ro Khanna (D-CA), Jamie Raskin (D-MD) and Pramila Jaypal (D-MI), voted for Lend Lease – as did every member of the so-called “Squad,” including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Jamaal Bowman (D-NY), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), and Cori Bush (D-MO).

But perhaps most important of all was the vote cast by Representative Barbara Lee. Not only did Lee vote for the Cornyn bill, she accompanied Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the House’s leading Russia hawk Adam Schiff on a trip to Kiev last weekend, where they paid homage to the Ukrainian president and promised US support “until victory is won.”

In the end, the unanimous Democratic support for the Ukrainian Lend Lease bill and the calls for more and more weapons by leading progressives shows they have abandoned their traditional and long-held opposition to American wars of choice.

  • America’s New QUICKSINK Bomb Targets China’s Vast Low-Tech Navy Forbes

The QUICKSINK bomb fills a long-vacant niche. For years, both the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Coast Guard have struggled to address China’s enormous array of lightly armed government vessels and dual-use civilian craft. Often hard to control, stop, or sink, these Chinese boats are often employed, in fleets of hundreds, to achieve China’s maritime goals or to directly support military action.

To confront China’s massive civilian fleet, U.S. forces in the Pacific had few options beyond watching China break one maritime and international norm after another. Equipped only with ships mustering small deck guns and, sometimes, a handful of anti-ship missiles, maritime forces throughout the Pacific really had no way to stop even a single determined and potentially hostile civilian surface ship beyond a heavyweight torpedo or balky laser-guided bomb.

QUICKSINK changes things for the China’s far-flung and badly-behaved fleets. As it sits right now, QUICKSINK is a simple kinetic capability, where a low-cost Air Force Research Laboratory guidance kit is strapped onto a 2,000-pound Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM). With lots and lots of JDAMs in the world’s arsenal, and given that JDAMs can be dropped by virtually any military aircraft, QUICKSINK is a mortal threat to China’s Gray Zone fleet.

Instead of serving the needs of high-end warfare against a near-peer fleet, QUICKSINK is, at heart, an existential threat to China’s massive investment in low-tech, coercion-focused ships.

  • Biden seeks to pass $10 billion COVID-19 bill to prevent a potential wave of 100 million infections in the fall. Biden cares approximately 3 times more about Ukrainian neo-Nazis than he does about the American populace. BusinessInsider

  • As chaos mounts in Haiti, the U.S. takes a tepid stance WaPo

Since mid-September, U.S. authorities have expelled more than 20,000 Haitians, mostly on flights that have arrived almost daily in the capital, Port-au-Prince. There, many of them are effectively fuel for the fire that has consumed their home country: Their chances of finding work are abysmal, but the possibility that they will be victimized amid the pervasive criminality is all too real.

Uh, I’m not sure if you’re taking a tepid stance if you’re actively worsening the situation.

Haiti’s turmoil is multidimensional; it’s no surprise so many Haitians are desperate for haven here. In addition to its supine economy and related hunger and public health problems, the random chaos of daily life delivers trauma for many.

Washington’s shrugging approach to Haiti isn’t really an approach at all; it’s an abdication. It is particularly indefensible given that it was so predictable that the country’s already parlous conditions would deteriorate after the assassination last year of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse. Mr. Moïse was no one’s idea of a stalwart of democracy, good governance and sound economic management. But the consequences of the power vacuum left in his wake were not hard to foretell.

The extradition on Tuesday from Haiti of Germine Joly, the jailed leader of the feared 400 Mawozo gang, is heartening; he and three others are charged with conspiracy to smuggle firearms and munitions from the United States to Haiti. That’s a positive step. It is no substitute for a vigorous U.S. policy.

God help Haiti when the US decides to come up with a “vigorous US policy”.

  • America, Unmasked NYTimes


    Our masks are finally coming off. As mandates across the county are lifted or struck down, we can breeze out of the house, nose and chin fully on display, face bare to the wind. How odd that something so basic has become something of a marvel.

    One million Americans are dead.

    But, though few among us loved the mask when it was forced on us, it’s worth considering what we’re losing as it disappears. We’re losing the ability to hide a smirk and cover up braces. We’re losing the ability to run an errand incognito and avoid eye contact without being a jerk. And we’re losing our newfound ways of reading other people according to whether and how they wear their headgear.

    One million Americans are dead.

    Let’s face it: Our masks, designed in part to conceal, have often revealed as much as they hid.

    One million Americans are dead.

    I mean, how else are we going to pigeonhole other people politically in less than five seconds? For a good two years, those who wore masks were demonstrably somewhere on the left or middle of the ideological spectrum; those who did not were Marjorie Taylor Greene.

    One million Americans are dead.

    Even when everyone was wearing a mask, how those masks were worn offered clues as to where people stood politically. You had the woman in first class with the phrase “This mask is as useless as Biden” emblazoned beneath a defiant glare. The dude with the permanent Republican chin diaper and the one who “helpfully” lowered his mask every time he spoke. The pushy shopper who expressed faux surprise when informed that her dangling mask wasn’t actually on. The many men who let their nose jut out in the pandemic equivalent of manspreading.

    One million Americans are dead.

    Guys, we can see you.

    Speaking of men, the beard remained an ambiguous social signifier during the pandemic, but the mask offered clues as to whether the bearded man in question was a MAGA trucker from Rapid City or a puzzle creator from Williamsburg. The former often let his ZZ Top roam free below, the mask more like a decorative kerchief than a protective device extending over the chin.

    One million Americans are dead.

    Then there was the matter of color and style. While politicos and business types chose the safety of serious black, others were more expressive. You learned things about the cashier at your local Trader Joe’s from her rhinestone-studded number. People who wouldn’t be caught dead in message T-shirts did not hesitate to shout their dedication to vegan living or their devotion to Jesus on a patch of fabric across the mouth. You could say what you held to be true (“Love conquers all”) or scold someone else (“Stay home”) without parting your lips.

    One million Americans are dead.

    International mask variances let you know where you were on the planet. While Americans went fashion crazy with fabric, in much of Europe disposable paper masks were the norm. Wearing a fabric mask in France, no matter how chic, set off an American bat signal more clearly than donning a pair of shorts in winter.

    One million Americans are dead.

    It was exciting, on occasion, to feel like some kind of masked crusader or outlaw. As frustrating as it was to be unable to discern whether someone else was smiling, only pretending to smile or definitely not smiling at all, it was often useful to hide one’s own facial expression. “Just you try to figure out how I feel,” you might think as you stared down the person pretending not to know where the distanced supermarket line began. That’s gone now.

    One million Americans are dead.

    People generally got a pass on speaking, listening to and understanding one another. While it was tiring to shout while enunciating through two layers of fabric, masks were an easy out when you didn’t want to hear. You could gesticulate helplessly at your ear and wander off, the grandpa who’d had enough and “forgot” his hearing aid on the bedside table.

    One million Americans are dead.

    We’re still somewhat in a muddle, a kind of hemline confusion over the masks that remain. Some people still put them on, and it’s harder than ever to know if this is a practical response to ongoing superspreader events, abject paranoia or something else entirely. Wearing a mask in spring 2022 may reveal something private, such as an immunocompromising condition or an unvaccinated 5-year-old grandson your colleagues don’t know is currently in your care.

    One million Americans are dead.

    Whether to still wear a mask is also revealing a schism on the left: You may choose not to wear it because you consider yourself a sensible liberal following the accepted science or to keep wearing it because you consider yourself a sensible liberal who has reason to doubt the accepted science.

    One million Americans are dead.

    The passing of masks may be the most complicated for young people. Consider teenagers and mask fishing — embracing masks as a way to cover up perceived deficiencies with one’s appearance. Some people thought they looked a good deal better in masks. It’s a look they are sorry to see go.

    One million Americans are dead.

    Kids who spent a significant portion of their childhood constantly being reminded by their parents and teachers to put a mask on, like toddlers badgered into wearing their glasses, may have absorbed the message too well. Many don’t feel safe without them. I know parents as desperate to have their kids give up the mask as they were to have them abandon the binky.

    One million Americans are dead.

    For people of all ages, masks have in certain ways become the blanket to our inner Linus. They offered a way to read others without feeling read ourselves. We got to more creatively choose the face we presented to the outside world, without piercing a nose or having our face chosen for us by the gods of genetics. It may be hard to completely give that up before the next variant rolls around.

South America

  • AMLO Tours Central America and Cuba to Foster Relations TeleSUR

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s tour of Central America and Cuba is part of the Mexican government’s strategy to foster realtions with the south, specifically aimed at expanding and strengthening ties of friendship in the Latin American region, as well as deepening political, economic and cooperation ties in favor of the region’s development and the well-being of its peoples.

He has also emphasized that Central American countries and Mexico are afflicted by the same problems: poverty, inequality, rural frustration, social disintegration, marginalization and the historical denial of effective rights for the majority.

  • Brazil’s Lula launches presidential campaign BBC


General News

  • Russian forces are accused of trucking away tons of Ukrainian grain, destroying wheat fields, and killing livestock in an effort to damage the farms during their invasion. CBS

  • Captured Ukrainian commander says that Kiev lied to encircled troops, telling them that help was on its way while making no attempts to end blockades. RT

  • UK promises more military aid to Ukraine, pledging $1.6 billion in military support, nearly doubling the UK’s previous spending. RT

  • Canadian sniper ‘terribly disappointed’ with military reality in Ukraine RT

Once lauded by the international media, a Canadian sniper known as ‘Wali’ has returned from Ukraine to Quebec, telling local media that his experience there was a “terrible disappointment.” He claimed there was inadequate weaponry, poor training and heavy losses, as well as profiteering and desertion in the ranks.

  • Washington should be added to a “list of war criminals” as it is now directly participating in “hostilities” in Ukraine, Chairman of Russia’s State Duma Vyacheslav Volodin claimed on Saturday, citing media reports about alleged US intelligence-sharing with Ukraine. RT

  • Captured Ukrainian officer labels US-supplied Javelins ‘useless’. Usually I disregard what POWs say for obvious reasons, but this does at least seem to reflect reality. RT

  • Watchdog group finds F-35 sustainment costs could be headed off affordability cliff DefenseNews

Specifically, the Defense Department will face a $6 billion gap in 2036 between the actual cost of sustaining the services’ F-35s and the cost the services can afford, the GAO said.

  • Photos of British Brimstone missiles falling from the sky without activating. Russian telegram.

  • Looks like Portugal is sending five Howitzers from 1939 to Ukraine. Russian telegram.

Northern Ukraine

  • Ukraine rebuilds a bridge near Kiev in a month. BBC

Eastern Ukraine

  • Dozens feared dead as Russians bomb school EuroNews

Ukrainian authorities fear up to 60 people sheltering in a school in Luhansk region may have been killed in a Russian strike on the building.

  • Russia shoots down another Ukrainian plane, near Izyum.

  • Ukrainian soldiers have retreated from Popasna, leaving Severodonetsk and some misc Ukrainian entrenched positions as the only places left to clear before the LPR is in full control of its oblast.

  • LPR clears the Rubizhne Zarya factory, very close to Severodonetsk.

  • Chechnya’s Kadyrov says his soldiers control Popasna, Ukraine disagrees Reuters

Ramzan Kadyrov, the head of Russia’s republic of Chechnya, said on Sunday his soldiers have taken control of most of the eastern Ukrainian city of Popasna, while Ukrainian officials said a battle for the town in the east of the country is ongoing.

Southern Ukraine

  • Transnistria reports explosions near Ukrainian border, no casualties RT

  • Ukrainian forces hit Kherson Region with tactical missile, says Russian Defense Ministry TASS

After confirmations that the Makarov was actually not sunk and is safe and sound, Business Insider writes this, 9 hours ago:

  • The Ukrainian military said it sank another Russian ship near Snake Island and posted a video showing the moment a drone apparently hit the ship BusinessInsider

  • DPR says that Mariupol will be receiving products from the DPR through its port this month.

Dipshittery and Cope

  • As world settles scores with Covid, why can’t China manage the pandemic? IndiaTV

While Covid numbers globally go down, in China, the situation is very different. On Saturday, Beijing started a fresh round of mass testing of Coronavirus and deferred Shanghai’s Gaokao University entrance exam till early July, said a report by Taipei Times.

The draconian movement curbs on Shanghai, an economic and financial hub, have caused frustration among its 25 million residents and triggered rare protests over issues such as access to food and medical care as well as loss of income. While some people have been let out for light and air in recent weeks, residents for the most part say they still cannot leave their housing compounds, as per a report by Taipei Times.

China’s COVID-19 policy is increasingly out of step with much of the rest of the world, where governments have eased restrictions, or dropped them altogether, in a bid to “live with COVID-19” even as infections spread.

  • China’s long arm of dictatorship reaches into the United States WaPo

What happens when a dictatorship sends its brutal enforcers to intimidate or capture dissidents, journalists, activists, business executives, members of ethnic minority groups and religious believers who are living in a free and open democracy?

Oh, awesome, we’re starting off with a criticism of ICE?

No rule-of-law state should tolerate such trespasses. Yet they go on — especially those involving China’s long arm of repression, which often reaches deep into the United States.

Oh. Nevermind.

While keeping a lid on free speech at home, Beijing sends agents to the West to harass, intimidate, surveil and abduct those who have spoken out. This can include brazen attempts to kidnap people and bring them back to China, or the misuse of extradition procedures and the international law enforcement platform Interpol. Other dissidents are silenced with threats to their relatives in China.

Among the targets are not only political dissidents and business executives, but also ethnic minority Uyghurs or Tibetans who fled repression in their homelands. In 2002, Chinese agents seized dissident and democracy advocate Wang Bingzhang while he was visiting Vietnam; he remains in prison in China. So does Gui Minhai, a Swedish citizen and Hong Kong bookseller and publisher whose volumes contained rumors about the private lives of China’s leaders. In 2015, he was abducted in Thailand and taken back to China.

Shadowy agents often carry out China’s intimidation overseas, demanding written pledges of obedience lest a relative be arrested or punished inside China. Such underhanded blackmail is terrifying for those on the receiving end. A 2021 study by Freedom House identified 31 countries that have aimed transnational repression at 79 host nations. The report documented more than 600 cases between 2014 and 2020, and found that 26 of the 31 nations also used nonphysical methods of intimidation, such as spyware, online harassment and sending threats by proxy. The report concluded, “China conducts the most sophisticated, global, and comprehensive campaign of transnational repression in the world.” Other leading perpetrators are Russia, Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Rwanda.

A glimpse of China’s efforts in the United States came in March when the Justice Department brought charges against five people accused of variously “stalking, harassing, and spying on U.S. residents” on behalf of China’s secret police.

The U.S. government has a spotty record when it comes to combating such activity. The Trump-era “China Initiative” against economic espionage and trade-secret theft was a misguided flop and created a perception of anti-China bias. Any effort to stop transnational repression must avoid this. In a positive step, State Department human rights reports are now highlighting more cases of transnational repression. It is vital to stop this ugly byproduct of dictatorship from spreading in democratic nations that respect rule of law.

  • Because of Ukraine, America’s arsenal of democracy is depleting. The return of the arsenal of democracy! Bloomberg had a similar article on April 14th. This almost seems like plagiarism to me. Economist

With war raging in Ukraine, President Joe Biden is casting himself as a latter-day Roosevelt. America will not fight directly but is determined to help Ukraine “win”. On April 28th he asked Congress for an extra $33bn to respond to the crisis, on top of $13.6bn approved earlier this year. The new request includes about $20bn in military assistance to Ukraine and European allies. “The cost of this fight is not cheap, but caving to aggression is going to be more costly if we allow it to happen,” he declared.

Can America’s arms industry respond? It must help supply not only Ukraine but also European allies that are rushing to re-arm and America itself, which must replenish its stocks and worry about the risk of great-power conflict. “One of the great success stories of this war is that we have been able to supply the Ukrainians with large numbers of munitions,” says Thomas Mahnken of the Centre for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, a think-tank in Washington. “My question is: who is going to supply the United States? Nobody.”

On May 3rd Mr Biden visited the factory in Troy, Alabama, where the Javelins are assembled. It produces 2,100 of them a year. It would thus take three or four years to replenish the army—more if orders from other countries take priority.

The production of Stinger anti-aircraft missiles is tighter still. They entered service in 1981, and America bought its last batch in 2003. The production line closed last year, but reopened for a foreign customer (thought to be Taiwan).

For America, the war in Ukraine is still a limited commitment. But if its industry is under strain now, could it cope with a big war—say against China over Taiwan? “In world war two, one reason industry could rapidly make the shift was because we had a massive amount of unused industrial capacity after the Depression,” says Mr Martin. “Right now the arsenal of democracy is not capable of responding to the demand of long-term high-intensity conflict.”

Back to the same three daily articles. The first one is an unconventional one, but after that it goes back to the stuff we all know and love. The bubble of delusion continues to expand - who knows what will happen when it pops.

  • Russia’s ultimate political survivor faces a wartime reckoning WaPo


    Sergei Shoigu, the consummate survivor of Russian politics, has always had a knack for PR.

    The 66-year-old Russian defense minister for years presided over theatrical exercises, rattled off statistics about personnel, and boasted of fearsome new weaponry — all to project the image of a Russian military on the rise under his guidance.

    But in the 2½ months since the Kremlin launched a war against Ukraine, the facade that Shoigu meticulously presented over the past decade has disintegrated into an ugly reality, laying bare the incompetence and barbarity of one of the world’s biggest militaries.

    Shoigu’s future is now on the line. Having retreated from its attack on Kyiv, the Russian military is facing immense pressure to save face and capture a larger swath of Ukraine’s east. Questions persist about how much blame Shoigu should bear for the Russian military’s failures — as opposed to Russia’s uninformed leaders and intelligence chiefs, widely seen to have miscalculated how much Ukrainians would resist.

    “There are reports that [Russian President Vladimir] Putin is very disappointed in how Shoigu prepared for this war, how he carried it out,” Russian political analyst Tatiana Stanovaya said.

    Russia is gearing up for Victory Day celebrations on Monday, traditionally the biggest annual holiday for the Russian military, amid fears Putin could use the commemoration of the World War II victory over Nazi Germany to announce an intensification of his war against Ukraine.

    The ultimate outcome on the battlefield may determine the future of Shoigu, the longest-serving minister in Russia, who regularly squires Putin around his native Siberia and in recent years has arrived at Red Square on Victory Day saluting the troops from a convertible. Can the great survivor of Russian politics, often seen as a possible next Russian president, survive even this?

    “I think Putin right now isn’t in the state to look for those responsible within the Russian government,” said Stanovaya, founder of the political consultancy R.Politik. “Of course, there are emotions, and absolutely I think there was some sort of serious negative blowup with Shoigu — though I think not only with Shoigu. But the main thing to understand is that the only one Putin considers responsible for the failure of the military operation is the West.”

    The Russian Defense Ministry did not respond to requests for comment.

    Exactly what role Shoigu played in planning the invasion of Ukraine isn’t clear. U.S. officials have said he was one of very few people in Putin’s inner circle privy to information about the impending onslaught against Russia’s western neighbor.

    A civil engineer by training who lacks a military background, Shoigu almost certainly wouldn’t have taken the lead in crafting the campaign plan — a task that probably fell to his military counterpart, Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov, and the rest of the brass.

    “I don’t think that in meetings [Shoigu] really plays much of a subject matter expert or policy leader role. Putin is the decider,” a senior U.S. defense official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss Pentagon assessments. “And Gerasimov, as the equivalent of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the chief of the general staff, is the one who directs and runs the military.”

    But Shoigu is culpable, military analysts say, for the state of the Russian force.

    Reform efforts that began under Shoigu’s predecessor stalled after he took over in 2012. He jettisoned a program to establish an American-style corps of noncommissioned officers that could have instilled professionalism in the lower ranks. Ambitions to expand the number of professional contract military personnel weren’t fully met, while the ministry spent lavishly to procure expensive weaponry. Russia went into the war without a fully ready combat reserve.

    The results have been apparent in Ukraine. Russia has faced high casualty rates and had insufficient personnel. Poorly maintained equipment, logistics errors and intercepted communications, as well as looting and war crimes in occupied areas, have spotlighted the unprofessionalism and indiscipline of the force.

    After Shoigu took over as defense minister, transparency within the Russian military dissipated into PR-crafted narratives, according to analysts who track the Russian force. The change boosted confidence in the armed forces among Russians, helping Shoigu’s political standing, but reduced valuable scrutiny.

    “The thing that sticks out to me is how much control he wants over the narrative of the military,” Rand Corp. senior policy researcher Dara Massicot said. “If you cannot have a transparent conversation about your serviceability rates, about how proficient your soldiers are or about how old some of your field rations are — if you can’t have some of those debates, the battlefield will show you.”

    The Russian military that Shoigu and Gerasimov built can generate a certain amount of military strength on short notice but ultimately needs a mobilization to obtain additional manpower to fight a major war, said Michael Kofman, a Russian military analyst at the Virginia-based research group CNA, who remains puzzled why they agreed to launch a full invasion of Ukraine without a mobilization.

    “Shoigu built a military that looked good in scripted exercises, and proved effective in limited wars, but when thrown into a large conflict, showed that it couldn’t scale operations and revealed the extent of rot in the system,” Kofman said.

  • Why I spend my Saturday mornings at the Russian Embassy WaPo

I’ve taken to spending my Saturday mornings protesting outside the Russian Embassy on Wisconsin Avenue NW in Washington — not the sort of thing I typically do. I carry hand-lettered signs that say various things, including “STOP PUTLER” and “BEAR WITNESS.” Another says, “DEFECT.”

Oh god. I’m not reading any more of this. Moving on.

  • As Coffins Come Home, Russians Confront Toll of Ukraine Invasion WSJ

“I only blame America—not Ukraine, not Russia,” Mr. Akhromov, a 32-year-old parks-and-recreation worker, said. “Biden, or however he is called, allowed for Nazism to flourish in Ukraine, and so Russia had to fight not only to protect its people and borders, but also the Ukrainian people, women, children, elderly.”

More than two months after Russian President Vladimir Putin sent troops into Ukraine, Russians are beginning to confront the toll of the war. Mr. Putin has justified his actions by saying Ukraine, which has a Jewish president, is run by Nazis—a claim for which he hasn’t provided evidence.

Luckily, the media has, as every other photo of Ukrainian soldier has a Nazi tattoo pictured in it.

A survey published by the independent Levada Center pollster in late April found that 57% of Russians blame the U.S. or NATO for the deaths and devastation in Ukraine, while only 7% blamed Russia. The survey also found that 74% of Russians supported the offensive—a slight drop from the previous month.

Ms. Bogaeva said she believes her nephew is a hero for defending Russia and liberating Ukrainians, and that he and other Russian soldiers are dying because the Kremlin is pursuing a policy of protecting Ukrainian civilians. “Russian forces came to save them and send them humanitarian help from all over, and they still aren’t happy,” Ms. Bogaeva said. “Then why are we saving them? Let them die at the hands of the nationalists.”

  • Putin has put himself at the center of Russia’s Victory Day. But he has little to celebrate CNN


    President Vladimir Putin takes Russian anniversaries seriously. It was no coincidence that his invasion of Ukraine came a day after Defender of the Fatherland Day, a celebration of Russia’s military achievements. It was on that same occasion in 2014 that Putin took the first step in annexing Crimea from Ukraine, through orchestrated pro-Russian protests on the peninsula.

    The leader had clearly hoped to have more to celebrate by this Victory Day on Monday, the country’s most patriotic of dates, marking the Soviet Union’s role in defeating Nazi Germany in World War II. It was on May 8, 1945, (May 9 in Moscow’s time zone) that Germany signed its Instrument of Surrender in Berlin, ending the fighting in Europe. The USSR suffered the biggest losses of any nation – around 27 million soldiers and civilians died.

    Russia’s justification for war in Ukraine suggested a deadline for success by Victory Day. Putin and his government have repeatedly said the aim of their so-called “special operation” is to “denazify” Ukraine, and that freeing the country of Nazis is a matter of Russian survival. It’s an argument that has no real weight; a blatant cover for Russian revanchism.

    Even though the Kremlin’s well-oiled propaganda machine has been going at full steam since the February invasion, it will be difficult for Putin to twist Russia’s losses into true victory on Monday.

    If anything, the operation in Ukraine has been an embarrassment for him – at least on the international stage.

    Russia’s military outsizes Ukraine’s by every measure – even with the heavy weapons the West is sending in – yet it failed to take territory in the north, let alone the capital, Kyiv, and is struggling to make gains even in the east, where it is now focused.

    Ukraine’s armed forces claim that Russia has lost more than 24,000 troops in just over two months, and more than 1,000 tanks, over 2,600 armored vehicles and hundreds of aircraft. CNN cannot independently verify these numbers, and there are likely to be heavy losses on the Ukrainian side too. Still, it’s undeniable that Russia military is weakened.

    Russia’s guided-missile cruiser the Moskva – once the crown jewel of its Black Sea fleet – is now a wreck, sitting destroyed in the depths of the sea.

    Meanwhile, Putin’s foes in the West, whom Russia had tried so hard to divide over years, are increasingly united, all for the cause of ensuring victory for Ukraine.

    Emily Ferris, a research fellow with the Royal United Services Institute, said that Russia’s failures had been largely logistical.

    “Some of the logistical problems they had were partly because they never really managed to take major railway hubs at all, frankly, in the whole country,” Ferris told CNN. “And because the Russian motorized ground forces rely on the railways to move all of their troops, their hardware and their tanks. Because they never really managed to control those hubs, they never really managed to push particularly far into Ukrainian territory, and it meant that they then had to rely on off-road capabilities.”

    Russian forces instead moved by trucks and slow-moving tanks, many of which were bogged down in mud, as warmer weather prevented the ground from freezing and allowing freer movement, Ferris said.

    “Then it meant that it was tricky to tow the tanks back to Russia for repairs, because they were far away, and so a lot of them were abandoned. Lots of their equipment started breaking because the tanks can only take so much moving around,” she said. “And, of course, you have the very well-documented resistance from local Ukrainians, who didn’t take too well to being occupied.”

    Even in the east, where Russian forces are trying to advance through the Donbas region, their gains have been limited. Pro-Russian rebels have been installed in the self-declared separatist regions of Donetsk and Luhansk for years, but still, Russia hasn’t annexed those areas, and its forces are struggling to get through a stiff Ukrainian resistance in big cities.

    “We’re still talking about huge amounts of territory – Ukraine is massive – even if they are just focusing on the east and the south. Some of the claims from senior commanders that they’re going to be establishing a land corridor across the south of Ukraine, it’s still a huge task,” Ferris said. “The fact that they’ve not been able to take major cities and major rail hubs before is still a problem. I think that’s going to persist.”

    Sitting in Russia, however, it’s easy to think that the war is going to plan. Russian propaganda is flooding the media, which is almost entirely state-controlled, but in March the government also passed a law making “false news” about the military illegal, a crime that comes with a maximum 15-year jail term.

    As a result, the antiwar protests that happened in Russia in the early weeks of the invasion have all but ended. And the media is largely complying with the new law.

    Indeed, Russia is pushing ahead with force. It’s in the midst of a prolonged battle in the southeastern port city of Mariupol, where its forces are intensely shelling a huge steel plant that it has failed to seize. If the plant falls, the city is more or less in their hands.

    Intelligence reports show that Russia could be planning to annex Luhansk and Donetsk “sometime in mid-May” and could also declare and annex a so-called “people’s republic” in the southeastern city of Kherson, according to US Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Michael Carpenter, who spoke to reporters on Monday.

    Any advancements are amplified in Russian media, where the messaging of success is very clear, Tatiana Stanovaya, founder of the political analysis firm R. Politik, told CNN.

    “The message is that Russia is moving according to plan and everything is going as it should, that there are some gains. Russia has declared that it took Mariupol, and so everything is going according to the plan,” she said.

    That messaging is filtering through to the Russian people effectively, according to Levada Center polls, which show that not only do the vast majority of Russians support the war, but 68% of Russians think the operation is proceeding successfully. Putin’s popularity has also soared to 82%, after remaining stubbornly in the 60s since the Covid-19 pandemic hit right up until February, the month of Russia’s invasion. Polling in Russia must be taken with a grain of salt, however, given people are subject to a stream of propaganda and dissent is not tolerated.

    Stanovaya added that there was an additional narrative in state media that Russia is the victim in this war and that the country is acting defensively.

    “When you’re watching Russian TV for several days, you can really start believing that we are in a huge danger of Ukrainian Nazis. That we are vulnerable, that we should, we must get up and protect ourselves, otherwise it’s a matter of Russian existence,” she said.

    Putin doesn’t even need to use Monday to declare any kind of victory, Stanovaya argued. He will just need to bank on the anti-Nazi emotions of the holiday to consolidate his justification for war.

    As Russians will be listening in on Putin’s Victory Day speech, so too will global leaders and observers, eager to learn where Putin might take his war next. There has been much speculation, but as always with the Russian President, no one really knows.

    There’s a growing sense of nervousness that with so little to show the world – if not Russians – more than two months into the war, Putin may double down on his “special operation.”

    UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace even suggested last week on a UK radio station that Putin may drop his guise of a “special operation” and outrightly declare war. Doing so could trigger a huge mobilization of Russian fighters, even civilian conscripts. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov on Wednesday dismissed Wallace’s suggestion as “nonsense.” But if Russia’s military continues to deplete at the rate it is, it’s not impossible that Putin will make that decision at some point.

    Andrei Kolesnikov, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said he thinks Putin’s original plan was to declare victory and an end to hostilities on Monday.

    “But it is obvious that the war is dragging on, and Putin’s plan is not getting any clearer. But he must make some symbolic or practical gesture,” he said, speaking to CNN from Moscow.

    “Everyone here is scared that he will announce a partial or full mobilization. Although such a measure might prove unpopular: the Russians have become militarists, but they are lazy militarists, sofa troops.”

    While Victory Day is about World War II, it has also become a source of legitimacy for Putin, who has found ways to associate himself with the day, said Kolesnikov, who accuses the leader of simplifying the historical details and “turning the celebration into a pompous ritual.”

    In the Putin years, the mythology around World War II has metamorphosized. Historians note it glorifies Soviet sacrifice, while downplaying Stalin’s willingness to squander human lives. It glosses over the darkest chapters of the war: The USSR’s pact with Nazi Germany that served as a prelude to war; the wholesale deportation of entire populations deemed untrustworthy by the Soviets; and mass rapes by Soviet soldiers in occupied Germany during the waning days of the war.

    Even a grassroots parade known as the “Immortal Regiment” to honor those who died in the war has been co-opted by the government. Putin now routinely leads marches himself. Stalin – who refused to believe Adolf Hitler’s army would invade the Soviet Union when it did — is increasingly being celebrated as a hero on May 9, not as the leader who was caught off guard in the 1941 German attack.

    “Of course, the new generations do not really understand the significance of the holiday,” Kolesnikov said. “Those who do understand and know history are horrified by the way Putin has privatized it.”

    And on Monday, the significance of May 9 may change yet again, depending on what Putin has to say.

  • Surrendering land is not the same as defeat – if a stronger Ukraine emerges from the ruins. In a first in military history, we have found that losing land in a war might actually mean you didn’t lose, and that gaining land means you didn’t win. Guardian

Does Vladimir Putin’s aggression really mean that we must relive those times, when the League of Nations fumbled with endless European crises over minorities and plebiscites and frontiers and land-grabbing invasions? True, states today don’t bother with declarations of war. Hitler and Stalin showed Putin how to dispense with that rubbish and replace it with rubbish proclamations dripping with lies, hypocritical victimology and fake history. But some of those old riddles survive to plague us. One is the difference – if there is one – between “independence” and “territorial integrity”.

Uh oh, I see where this is going.

Liz Truss, as foreign secretary, is among the most hawkish politicians over Ukraine. In her “war aims”, supporting its independence means not only helping to beat away the Russians but restoring Ukraine’s “integrity” – the pre-2014 frontiers that included Crimea and the whole Donbas region. But that’s a dangerous muddle, conflating two things that aren’t the same.

Ukraine, outside Nato, has no “guarantee” of anything. There are three ways this war could end: Russia driven back to the pre-2014 line; Ukraine defeated and partitioned; or (the most likely at present) a stalemate along a fragile ceasefire line.

First, peacemakers have to answer one brutal question: is Putin Hitler? In other words, will any compromise – leaving him with some conquests – simply encourage plans for further conquests?

The trouble is that Truss’s “maximalist” war aims assume independence and territorial integrity are indivisible. They are not. Take Poland. The nation was stripped of many ancient cities and a third of its territory in 1945. But, once free of Soviet imperial overlordship, its independence is intact. The Trianon treaty in 1920 reduced Hungary to less than a third of its prewar size, but left a ferociously independent “core” Hungary. Georgia (like Ukraine, an informal Nato candidate) still insists Abkhazia is integral to its sovereignty, although that tiny Black Sea nation rejected absorption into Georgia in 1993. But no one would dare say that in “losing” Abkhazia Georgia lost its independence.

Holy shit lmao. “Okay, yes, you DID beat the shit out of me and steal my wallet in that fight - however, have you considered that I don’t think that counts as losing it? You are owned, good sir!

At tomorrow’s Victory Day parade in Moscow, Putin may claim “mission almost accomplished”. That depends on how narrowly he can define “mission”. But peace talks, if and when they begin, will inevitably centre on where new frontiers will run, which means, unfairly, finding out how much lost territory Ukraine will give up.

Here danger lurks. Ukrainian politics since independence in 1991 have been unforgiving, to put it mildly. Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s brave and selfless war leadership has been a break with the corrupt oligarchs and demagogues who have mostly hogged the Kyiv stage. But if Zelenskiy takes responsibility for ending the war on a bargain that included, say, accepting that Crimea stays with Russia, some ambitious figures would be tempted to stab him in the back as a betrayer of Ukrainian independence. They could fill the streets with hyper-nationalist mobs and Zelenskiy’s creation – a new degree of national unity – would dissolve in chaos.

Hope lies with the younger generations now fighting for their country. Their world view is west of centre: a European Ukraine that is liberal- or social-democratic, a nation where the rule of law and transparency are more than slogans. Some of them are from the west of the country, their identities secure in their Ukrainian language and culture. But the men and women who really matter are the millions who speak Russian, who regard themselves as ethnically Russian but who now, through contempt for Putin’s regime and blazing outrage at this invasion of what is their homeland, have come to feel fully Ukrainian. Their country is in ruins, but it is their country now.

  • Russia-Ukraine War: Putin’s Plan B is failing as Russian troops ‘pushed out’ of Donbas NZHerald

“The conclusion, unfortunately, is bleak,” Russian intelligence officer and commander Igor Girkin wrote on his Telegram social media channel. “In the best-case scenario, the enemy will be slowly ‘pushed out’ of the Donbas with large losses (for both sides, of course) across many weeks and possibly many months.”

After early heavy losses, the Kremlin “recalibrated” away from a general invasion of Ukraine towards a more focused effort against the Donbas region.

But the Ukrainian coastal city of Mariupol remains a thorn in the invading force’s side after more than two months of fighting.

And this week, Russia reportedly lost three of its modern Su-30 air superiority fighters in two days. That’s despite parts of the Donbas – Donetsk and Luhansk – having been under Russian separatist control since 2014.

Slow. Stalled. Stuck. The language used by the US and European defence officials continues to paint a picture of Russian failure.

  • Ukraine’s Air Force Is Back! But Who Knows For How Long. Forbes

Ten weeks into Russia’s wider war on Ukraine, Kyiv’s tiny, aging air force is in much better shape than anyone should have expected prior to the invasion.

Videos that have circulated on social media in the last week depict each of the Ukrainian air force’s manned fighter and attack types, at least some of them while in action near the front line in eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region.

  • Two Europes Confront Each Other Over the Glory, or Shame, of War NYTimes

In the past, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia has used the annual celebration of the Soviet victory over the Nazis in 1945 to cement his steady militarization of Russian society, extol the values of heroic patriotism, and contrast Russia’s warrior spirit with what he sees as the moral decadence of the West.

This year, he will no doubt try to conjure “victory” from the indiscriminate destruction he has wrought in Ukraine. He will find some justification for a war that has gone far less well than expected against a Western-backed “Nazi” threat in Kyiv that he has invented.

As he does so, May 9 will be marked otherwise in Western Europe. President Emmanuel Macron will salute Europe Day in Berlin and Strasbourg, seat of the European Parliament, laying out his ambitious vision of a 27-nation European Union now compelled to move beyond mere economic heft toward becoming a more federal, and more forceful, world power.

“It will be a split-screen effect,” said Nicole Bacharan, a French foreign policy analyst. “On one screen, a magnificent Moscow military parade, on the other something more cumbersome and slow, but perhaps we in the European Union should celebrate not having a dictator laying down the law.”

Two Europes now face each other on a Continent where, for Mr. Putin’s Russia, the defeat of Nazi Germany in the “Great Patriotic War” enshrines the sacredness and glory of war, whereas in Paris and Berlin it symbolizes the imperative of peace.

Literally what the fuck are you talking about? This is just abstract phrenology.

  • Viewpoint: Putin now faces only different kinds of defeat BBC

Whatever else Russia’s Victory Day parade is supposed to represent, it won’t be any sort of victory over Ukraine, regardless of the spin President Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin will try to put on it, writes defence analyst Michael Clarke.

This war is one that Russia cannot win in any meaningful sense.

Putin now has few options but to keep going forward to make this war bigger - either bigger in Ukraine or bigger by advancing beyond its borders. Escalation is built into the current situation and Europe has reached a very dangerous moment in its recent history.

Having failed with Plan A to seize the government in Kyiv before President Zelensky’s forces, or the outside world, could react, Moscow then switched to a Plan B. This was a more “manoeuvrist” military approach to surround Kyiv and move in on other Ukrainian cities - Chernihiv, Sumy, Kharkiv, Donetsk, Mariupol and Mykolaiv and simply snuff out Ukrainian armed resistance while Kyiv itself would be threatened with capitulation or destruction.

This, too, failed. Kherson was the only major city that fell under Russian control and has since continued to resist Russian administration. The fact is that Russian forces were too small to dominate such a big country; they performed very poorly for a mixture of reasons; they were badly led and dispersed around four separate fronts, from Kyiv to Mykolaiv, with no overall commander.

And they turned out to be up against a determined and well-trained Ukrainian army who fought them to a standstill in a classic demonstration of “dynamic defence” - not holding a line but rather hitting the attackers at points of maximum vulnerability.

In frustration, Russia has now moved to “plan C”, which is to give up on Kyiv and the north, instead concentrating all its forces for a major offensive in the Donbas region and across the south of Ukraine, probably as far as the port of Odesa in the south-west - effectively to landlock the country.

This is the campaign we now see being played out in the east around Iziyum and Popasne, Kurulka and Brazhkivka.

Russian forces are trying to surround Ukraine’s Joint Forces Operation, (JFO) - about 40% of its army that has been dug in opposite the breakaway Luhansk and Donetsk “republics” since 2014. Key Russian objectives are to take Slovyansk and, a little further south, Kramatorsk. They are both crucial strategic points for control of the whole Donbas region.

If the battle reaches an autumn stalemate, he will have precious little to show for so much loss and pain. If the military momentum shifts and his forces get pushed back, even more so. And even if the Russians succeed in overrunning the whole of the Donbas and all across the south, they still have to hold those territories for the indefinite future in the face of several million Ukrainians who don’t want them there.

One way or another, Russia will have to keep fighting in Ukraine, either against the population, or against the Ukrainian army, and quite possibly both simultaneously. And as long as Kyiv sticks to its current line that demands Russian withdrawal before any concessions can be contemplated, there is not much Putin can do but carry grimly on.

The western powers will keep supplying weapons and money to Kyiv, and will not be lifting powerful sanctions on Russia any time soon. Once Europe’s energy dependency on it is greatly lessened, Russia has so little that Europe really needs, the US and Europe will be able to leave crippling sanctions in place with small cost to their own economies.

These people literally do not live in reality anymore. They’re floating in some tubes with television screens of Zelensky in front of a green screen telling them that the assault on Moscow is a week away.

  • Russia’s grave miscalculation: Ukrainians would collaborate SeattleTimes

The Kremlin entered the war expecting a quick and painless victory, predicting that the government of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy would fracture and that leading officials in the largely Russian-speaking eastern region would gladly switch sides. That has not happened.

Okay, whatever, you get the idea, it continues like this. This is actually a specific point that really annoys me - that Putin went into Ukraine thinking that he would be welcomed by the Ukrainians inside. Do these people GENUINELY believe that Putin does not know about the divide in opinion towards Russia between the west, centre, and east of Ukraine? Like, do they think that Putin just hasn’t looked at Ukrainian opinion polling since the 1970s? You even saw this repeated by some people in the megathreads early on. Like, are you kidding me?

  • See what it’s like to live in one of the compact sleep pods that allow 14 residents to share a single home in California BusinessInsider


  • An Unprecedented Heatwave in India and Pakistan Is Putting the Lives of More Than a Billion People at Risk InsideClimateNews

The temperature exceeded 120 degrees in Jacobabad, Pakistan, and a leading climate scientist says even more severe heat waves projected for the subcontinent “will really begin to test limits to adaptation.”

  • Arizona braces for additional water cuts amid megadrought Guardian

  • New Mexico residents brace for extreme wildfire conditions NPR

  • European farmland could be biggest global reservoir of microplastics, study suggests ScienceDaily

Up to 42,000 tons of microplastics are applied across European agricultural soils each year as a result of sewage sludge fertilizer.

  • Similarly: ‘Forever chemicals’ may have polluted 20m acres of US cropland, study says Guardian

PFAS-tainted sewage sludge is used as fertilizer in fields and report finds that about 20m acres of cropland could be contaminated

  • Red Hill Water Contamination Sickened Some 2,000 People, Survey Finds CivilBeat

The Navy’s contamination of its water supply with fuel last year caused approximately 2,000 people to experience symptoms of petroleum exposure, the vast majority of whom were sick for more than a month, according to preliminary results of a survey conducted by federal health officials.

  • World’s ocean is losing its ‘memory’ under global warming ScienceDaily

Compared with the fast weather fluctuations of the atmosphere, the slowly varying ocean exhibits strong persistence, or “memory,” meaning the ocean temperature tomorrow is likely to look a lot like it does today, with only slight changes. As a result, ocean memory is often used for predicting ocean conditions.

Along with ocean memory decline, the thinning mixed layer is also found to increase the random fluctuations of the sea surface temperature. As a result, although the ocean will not become much more variable from one year to the next in the future, the fraction of helpful signals for prediction largely reduces.

  • Iraq rejects Saudi initiative to plant 15 thousand square kilometers of Iraqi desert IraqiNews

In response to the Saudi’s Middle East Green Initiative, Iraq informed Saudi Arabia Sunday that the country will not be able to provide enough water to participate in the project aiming to plant 15 thousand square kilometers in Anbar, Najaf and Muthanna governorates.

I Thought I’d Mention

  • Researchers want to send nude illustrations of humans into space. Contacting the Integalactic Volcel Police right now. CNN

  • Tribes credited with elevating vaccinations in rural Arizona SeattleTimes

Link back to the discussion thread.