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Sunday, January 15

That's what it was about yesterday



"On January 14, 2023, a missile attack was carried out on the military command and control system of Ukraine and related energy facilities, all designated facilities were hit, the target of the strike was achieved - Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation"
t.me/intelslava/43415


The strikes:


Summary of Russian Army strikes against Ukrainian infrastructure facilities [today]:

Targets were hit in the following cities and regions
▪️Kyiv and region
▪️Kharkov
▪️Odessa and region
▪️Nikolaev region
▪️Dnepropetrovsk and region
▪️Krivoy Rog
▪️Vinnytsia and region
▪️Ternopil region
▪️Ivano-Frankivsk region
▪️Sumy region
▪️Lviv region

We are aware of blackouts and power outages in the following cities and regions:
.Kyiv
▪️Kharkov
▪️Kirovograd
▪️Dnepropetrovsk
▪️Zaporozhye region
▪️Ivano-Frankivsk
▪️Zhytomyr region
▪️Vinnytsia region


Saturday, January 14

"Insufficient analysis, which today leads Biden to proceed mindlessly."

Has the third world war begun?  A famously prescient anthropologist thinks so. The post below is from Bernhard at Moon of Alabama, published today:

MoA - Emmanuel Todd on the Third World War (moonofalabama.org)

Emmanuel Todd On The Third World War

The French Le Figaro has an interview with the well-known anthropologist Emmanuel Todd.

Emmanuel Todd: «La Troisième Guerre mondiale a commencé»

"The third world war has begun" is his new thesis. Todd is quite famous for correctly predicting the devolution of the Soviet Union long before it happened. He was quite alone at that time.

I once had a piece on Todd's later predictions for the U.S. and Europe which still seems spot on. I also quoted him in a piece on social decline as a national security issue.

Unfortunately the Figaro piece is paywalled. But Arnaud Bertrand has done us the favor of translating the gist. Here is his slightly edited thread:

Arnaud Bertrand @RnaudBertrand - 15:42 UTC · Jan 13, 2023

Emmanuel Todd, one of the greatest French intellectuals today, claims that the "Third World War has started."

Small 🧵 translating the most important points in this fascinating interview.

He says, "It's obvious that the conflict, which started as a limited territorial war and is escalating to a global economic confrontation between the whole of the West on the one hand and Russia and China on the other hand, has become a world war."

He believes that "Putin made a big mistake early on, which is [that] on the eve of the war [everyone saw Ukraine] not as a fledgling democracy, but as a society in decay and a “failed state” in the making. [...] I think the Kremlin's calculation was that this decaying society would crumble at the first shock. But what we have discovered, on the contrary, is that a society in decomposition, if it is fed by external financial and military resources, can find in war a new type of balance, and even a horizon, a hope."

He says he agrees with Mearsheimer's analysis of the conflict: "Mearsheimer tells us that Ukraine, whose army had been overtaken by NATO soldiers (American, British and Polish) since at least 2014, was therefore a de facto member of the NATO, and that the Russians had announced that they would never tolerate Ukraine in NATO. From their point of view, the Russians are therefore in a war that is defensive and preventive. Mearsheimer added that we would have no reason to rejoice in the eventual difficulties of the Russians because since this is an existential question for them, the harder it would be, the harder they would strike. The analysis seems to hold true."

He however has some criticism for Mearsheimer:

"Mearsheimer, like a good American, overestimates his country. He considers that, if for the Russians the war in Ukraine is existential, for the Americans it is basically only one 'game' of power among others. After Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, what's one more debacle? The basic axiom of American geopolitics is: 'We can do whatever we want because we are sheltered, far away, between two oceans, nothing will ever happen to us'. Nothing would be existential for America.

Insufficient analysis which today leads Biden to proceed mindlessly. America is fragile. The resistance of the Russian economy is pushing the American imperial system towards the precipice. No one had expected that the Russian economy would hold up against the 'economic power' of NATO. I believe that the Russians themselves did not anticipate it.

If the Russian economy resisted the sanctions indefinitely and managed to exhaust the European economy, while it itself remained, backed by China, American monetary and financial controls of the world would collapse, and with them the possibility for United States to fund their huge trade deficit for nothing. This war has therefore become existential for the United States. No more than Russia, they cannot withdraw from the conflict, they cannot let go. This is why we are now in an endless war, in a confrontation whose outcome must be the collapse of one or the other."

He firmly believes the US is in decline but sees it as bad news for the autonomy of vassal states:

"I have just read a book by S. Jaishankar, Indian Minister of Foreign Affairs (The India Way), published just before the war, who sees American weakness, who knows that the confrontation between China and the US will have no winner but will give space to a country like India, and to many others. I add: but not to Europeans. Everywhere we see the weakening of the US, but not in Europe and Japan because one of the effects of the retraction of the imperial system is that the United States strengthens its hold on its initial protectorates. As the American system shrinks, it weighs ever more heavily on the local elites of the protectorates (and I include all of Europe here). The first to lose all national autonomy will be (or already are) the English and the Australians. The Internet has produced human interaction with the US in the Anglosphere of such intensity that its academic, media and artistic elites are, so to speak, annexed. On the European continent we are somewhat protected by our national languages, but the fall in our autonomy is considerable, and rapid. Let's remember the Iraq war, when Chirac, Schröder and Putin held joint anti-war press conferences."

He underlines the importance of skills and education: "The US is now twice as populated as Russia (2.2 times in student age groups). But in the US only 7% are studying engineering, while in Russia it is 25%. Which means that with 2.2 times fewer people studying, Russia trains 30% more engineers. The US fills the gap with foreign students, but they're mainly Indians and even more Chinese. This is not safe and is already decreasing. It is a dilemma of the American economy: it can only face competition from China by importing skilled Chinese labor."

On the ideological and cultural aspects of the war: "When we see the Russian Duma pass even more repressive legislation on 'LGBT propaganda', we feel superior. I can feel that as an ordinary Westerner. But from a geopolitical point of view, if we think in terms of oft power, it is a mistake. On 75% of the planet, the kinship organization was patrilineal and one can sense a strong understanding of Russian attitudes. For the collective non-West, Russia affirms a reassuring moral conservatism."

He continues: "The USSR had a certain form of soft power [but] communism basically horrified the whole Muslim world by its atheism and inspired nothing particular in India, outside of West Bengal and Kerala. However, today, Russia which repositioned itself as the archetype of the great power, not only anti-colonialist, but also patrilineal and conservative of traditional mores, can seduce much further. [For instance] it's obvious that Putin's Russia, having become morally conservative, has become sympathetic to the Saudis who I'm sure have a bit of a hard time with American debates over access for transgender women in the ladies' room.

Western media are tragically funny, they keep saying, 'Russia is isolated, Russia is isolated'. But when we look at the votes at the UN, we see that 75% of the world does not follow the West, which then seems very small.

With an anthropologist reading of this [divide between the West and the rest] we find that countries in the West often have a nuclear family structure with bilateral kinship systems, that is to say where male and female kinship are equivalent in the definition of the social status of the child. [Within the rest], with the bulk of the Afro-Euro-Asian mass, we find community and patrilineal family organizations. We then see that this conflict, described by our media as a conflict of political values, is at a deeper level a conflict of anthropological values. It is this unconscious aspect of the divide and this depth that make the confrontation dangerous."

There you go. Is he right on everything? I don't know, but Emmanuel Todd is certainly always a very singular and interesting thinker, with a vastly different analysis from the depressingly predictable bad takes that usually dominate French media.

Todd's thinking rhymes well with that of Radhika Desai and Michael Hudson as reproduced at Naked Capitalism

Economists Radhika Desai & Michael Hudson Explain Multipolarity, Decline of US Hegemony - Original here

Yves Smith introduces it:

Yves here. Some rousing weekend listening! Radhika Desai and Michael Hudson are launching a bi-weekly talk show, Geopolitical Economy Hour. The opening segment gives an overview, starting with the breakdown of US dominance and how it has been accelerated ironically by self-defeating efforts to preserve the system. It seems trivial at this point to observe that American defense of its hegemony has helped forge a strong Russia-China alliance. But will this partnership wind up dominating other countries, and stymie the development of a truly multipolar order?

Good food for thought ...

Posted by b on January 14, 2023 at 14:52 UTC |

NATO miscalculated in Ukraine

Russian Armed Forces Gaining Momentum In Donbass Following Liberation Of Soledar - South Front - January 13

"This whole house of cards in Ukraine will collapse, sooner than Washington realizes."

Quote from Douglas Macgregor This is MUCH worse than they're telling you | Redacted with Natali and Clayton Morris - YouTube - January 14

See also:

Russia Missile Strike, Advances Bakhmut; German Criticism Tank Transfers, US Navy Stocks Depleted - YouTube -  Alexander Mercouris - January 14



Summary of Russian Army strikes against Ukrainian infrastructure facilities [today]:

Targets were hit in the following cities and regions
▪️Kyiv and region
▪️Kharkov
▪️Odessa and region
▪️Nikolaev region
▪️Dnepropetrovsk and region
▪️Krivoy Rog
▪️Vinnytsia and region
▪️Ternopil region
▪️Ivano-Frankivsk region
▪️Sumy region
▪️Lviv region

We are aware of blackouts and power outages in the following cities and regions:
.Kyiv
▪️Kharkov
▪️Kirovograd
▪️Dnepropetrovsk
▪️Zaporozhye region
▪️Ivano-Frankivsk
▪️Zhytomyr region
▪️Vinnytsia region
*********

"The West has broken its word too many times by now."

"Nobody evens knows what the rules of the rules-based international order are."

Russia's next move, keeps collective west guessing - YouTube - The Duran yesterday

Last part of the discussion is the keeper.  Starts at the 21:49 minute mark with analysis of seizing Russian assets. 

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Friday, January 13

Things will move faster now in Russia's Ukraine operation

However, the Russian military continues to move with the almost maddening precision that has characterized its operation from the start. 

From Intel Slava Z today:
Establishing full control over Soledar makes it possible to cut off the supply routes of Ukrainian militants in Artemovsk [Bakhmut], and then block and take into the "cauldron" the enemy units remaining in it, the Russian Defense Ministry said.

05:39

Intel Slava Z
On the evening of January 12, the liberation of Soledar was completed, which is important for the continuation of successful offensive operations - the Russian Ministry of Defense.

05:47

Intel Slava Z
Over the past three days, more than 700 Ukrainian servicemen and over 300 units of weapons of the Armed Forces of Ukraine have been destroyed in the Soledar area — Russian Defense Ministry

See also this war analysis at The Duran yesterday:



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Such lunacy happening around the world

Indian town rapidly sinking, space agency warns — RT World News - January 13

"Subsidence has affected Joshimath for some time, with the impact magnified by the depletion of groundwater for irrigation and the rapid development of infrastructure, including the construction of hydropower plants ..."


The Indian town of Joshimath, known as a gateway to the Himalayas, sank by 5.4cm, sometime between late December and early January, the Indian space agency has reported. The popular tourist destination, at an altitude of over 6,000 ft (1800 meters), is prone to subsidence, partially due to infrastructure development.

A report by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) released on Wednesday detailed changes detected by satellite observation of Joshimath, revealing that a rapid subsidence event had taken place sometime between December 27, 2022 and January 8, 2023.

The region's chief minister, Pushkar Singh Dhami, ordered a mass evacuation after a 603 buildings in the town were found to have deep cracks.

Recorded elevation changes varied between 1 and 5.4cm, the data shows. ISRO observations over the past year have detected a slow subsidence of up to 9cm over a period of nine months, the report said.

Joshimath is located in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand on the slope of a hill and is a popular destination for pilgrims and tourists who visit the areas many temples.  

However, the settlement sits atop inherently fragile Himalayan geology and a treacherous environment. Thousands of people have been killed over decades by natural disasters such as earthquakes, landslides, flash floods, and avalanches. The Uttarakhand floods in February 2021 alone claimed over 80 lives.

Subsidence has affected Joshimath for some time, with the impact magnified by the depletion of groundwater for irrigation and the rapid development of infrastructure, including the construction of hydropower plants, according to scientists. 

[END REPORT]

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Thursday, January 5

Indian rupee fast emerging as currency to settle global trade debts

I seem to recall asking last month whether the Indian rupee -- trade in the rupee -- is a black swan event. From Firstpost today:

India’s Neighbours Ready to Embrace the Rupee | Indian Rupee Goes Global - YouTube - 3:42 minutes

Introduction to the report: 

De-dollarization became the buzzword after Russia became the first overseas country to settle trade with India in rupees. After all, it's the US dollar that currently exercises hegemony in global trade. And de-dollarisation, effectively, seeks to counter this precise overreliance. Moscow junked the dollar and brought smaller nations like Tajikistan, Cuba, and Sudan on board as well. Now, it's India's immediate neighbors that are eyeing using the Indian rupee for trade, boosting New Delhi's Neighborhood First policy. And this is no mean feat. As a result, the Indian rupee is fast emerging as a plausible alternative to settling global trade. [...]

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Monday, January 2

Wall Street Journal wants to know whether Covid vaccines are fueling Covid's evolution

Public-health experts are sounding the alarm about a new Omicron variant dubbed XBB that is rapidly spreading across the Northeast U.S. Some studies suggest it is as different from the original Covid strain from Wuhan as the 2003 SARS virus. Should Americans be worried?

It isn’t clear that XBB is any more lethal than other variants, but its mutations enable it to evade antibodies from prior infection and vaccines as well as existing monoclonal antibody treatments. Growing evidence also suggests that repeated vaccinations may make people more susceptible to XBB and could be fueling the virus’s rapid evolution.
[...]

That's as much of the article as you can read for free.  Eventually free sources will pick up on the WSJ ruminations, which are not new but in this case quite specific -- and coming from a top mainstream news publication.  

Meanwhile, it seems mainstream medicine continues full support for Covid vaccines; for example:

'Cocktail' vaccines could offer increased protection against future COVID-19 variants of concern (medicalxpress.com)

Have a nice day. 

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Saturday, December 31

"When you cannot commit one calculation error."

Maiden voyage of World's Biggest Containership | YouTube

The introduction at YouTube [emphasis mine]: 

Mega Transports: Biggest Containership | Engineering Documentary
It is the largest heavy load transport on earth! The maiden voyage of the biggest containership of all times. 
When the first ship of the brand-new OOCL-fleet gets underway, more cargo is moved at one time than anywhere else in the world and never before.
At 21,100 TEU capacity, the vessel is the largest ever ordered to date. 400 meters long and about as wide as a football field (58.8 meters).
These mega-cargo ships will not only be able to load more cargo than ever before, they will also be equipped with a number of high-class energy-saving systems.
This Episode shows the maiden voyage of the OOCL HONG KONG. Everything happens for the first time: the captain, the pilots and the harbour crew have never before manoeuvred a giant ship like this. Berthing, loading, steering: risky manoeuvres, which have never been tested [in real time] before.
Once berthed, the cargo loading pushes everyone involved to the limit -- crew, crane operators and the lashing team. A loading procedure like this, with additional containers on top of the so-far known stacking limit, has only been theoretically discussed, but never tested in real life.
Balancing the ship, moving and securing the stunning mass of containers is a task that does not allow even the slightest mistake. 
The route from Shanghai to Rotterdam, with stop in Singapore, brings constant challenges: pirate areas, onboard emergency drills and the navigation through the narrow waters of the Suez Canal. All of this happens under incredibly high pressure of time.
Will the world’s largest container ship stay on schedule on its maiden voyage?

The 48-minute documentary, published February 2020, gives the audience a front-row seat to an amazing ship's journey.  

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Tuesday, December 27

"Authorities never expected the impacts to be as bad as they were." A symbolic snow disaster.

The quote is from Buffalo’s no stranger to snow. Why was the storm so deadly? - The Washington Post - December 27, 2022.  (Access to the report at WaPo is free; it's also published here: Buffalo’s no stranger to snow. Why was the storm so deadly? (msn.com)

We've seen the pattern before in other types of natural disasters that were worsened by poorly conceived attempts at preparedness. (Remember this?) 

But what WaPo reporters Brianna Sacks and Emily Wax-Thibodeaux learned about Buffalo's preparations for a historic blizzard is perfectly symbolic of how Europe got into such a jam this year. Governments did projections of the impacts of making financial war on Russia but overlooked so many factors they were left wide open to a series of disasters.

So, in addition to the number of lives it took, a snowstorm in America serves as a warning about the limitations of projections and the dire consequences of snubbing common sense.  

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