Drudge Retort: The Other Side of the News

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The nation's leaders are gambling with the singular financial instrument that global markets use as the measuring stick against which all other assets are priced.

Oh please. There's not going to be a "default" and everybody, at least in financial worlds, knows it. We've seen this movie before, we know how it will end - usually at the "11th hour."

Worst case scenario, they will finance most of ongoing 'critical' / 'essential' government expenses via CRs (Continuing Resolutions) while they are negotiating. Some government employees will have an [eventually] paid vacation. Some government contractors may find themselves in a bit of a bind, but they are a savvy lot and are used to navigating uneven flow of cash. CRs could go for a while, "paycheck-to-paycheck" may not be an optimal way to run country's finances but there is no possibility of "default" while the "leaders" are working budgetary things out.

"Debt ceiling" is just a device for Congress to be able to control the overall spending, so the Executive branch wouldn't "borrow us into prosperity" without Congressionally approved limits. That is if Congress really does have the "power of the purse..."

No, Prof. Lawrence Tribe, 14th Amendment doesn't allow President to "borrow or steal" unauthorized / unallocated funds (i.e., "sue me" or "What Would Trump Do?") which is why same Prof. Lawrence Tribe soundly rejected that "solution" 12 years ago. Mundane situational politics shouldn't be resolved by creating constitutional crises. (www.politico.com - Tribe: No 14th Amendment solution - 07/08/2011)

Politicians - Congress and Executive - can't solve the real problems (except throwing money to SIGs) so every once in a while they create other imaginary "crises" and "dramas"... like debt ceiling standoff.

It's a diversion from real issues and a way to engage (and enrage against the "other side") their constituents. Once the "drama" ends and "crisis" is averted, each side claims credit for whatever "win" they can, normal people breathe sigh of relief and go about their business - "problem" solved! Diversion has worked.

#3 | Posted by lfthndthrds at 2023-05-22 11:40 PM
Oh lookey, we have a welfare recipient charging into freedom! Screw him and his Nazi goals

What are his Nazi goals, exactly?

And how is buying from the USA and the NATO+ (using the same "Lend-Lease program" that saved Soviet Union from certain defeat against actual Nazis / fascists of Hitler's Germany) to defend his country from the brutal invasion by former KGB colonel and now one of the history's biggest imperial dictators in search of restoring / building an empire is being a welfare recipient?

Is Putin a "welfare recipient" for having to buy weapons from the Ayatollah of Iran, and from Vlad's brother from another mother Communist dictator-tyrant Kim Jong-un or sell oil well below market price (and production costs) to countries like India and China that haven't been very interested in it before, just so he can keep his war machine and social welfare spending going?

Is there any country which doesn't want to be subsumed by Putin's imagined Russian "Eurasian" empire that would not be a nation of Nazis, with whatever their "Nazi goals" are?

Then get ready for more "Nazis" coming Putin's way : Putin's 'Mini-NATO' Is Breaking

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan on Monday said that his country could exit the Moscow-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) as the leader continues to pull away from Russia. CSTO is a military alliance of six nations that's been likened to a smaller version of NATO, and Pashinyan's remarks on the bloc is the latest example of public frustration he's expressed in recent months that relates to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In Armenia there have been growing calls for a greater 'delinking' from Russia in matters of military security and economy. "Putin at this stage has two options regarding Armenia: Either to invade Armenia as he did in Georgia and currently in Ukraine, or to accept the reality that Armenia will gravitate towards the West. Armenia has been under Russian or Soviet control for more than two hundred years. Perhaps it is time for Yerevan to shift its orientation toward the West."

BTW, before Zelensky was elected President of Ukraine, he had a very successful 3-seasons "serious comedy" show where he played a teacher who was elected to be President of Ukraine (talk about being prescient) where he railed against and, as "President," tried to curb rampant corruption. Appropriately, it was called "Servant of the People / Sluga naroda" and the political party was named after it, of which Zelensky is a member.

Highly recommend watching the series, I enjoyed it. It's available on Netflix, or DVDs (set of 2, w/ English subs) on Amazon, eBay, maybe local library.

Most recent info:

A source from the media agency TASS reported that Valery Zvegintsev, a chief researcher at the Russian Academy of Sciences, was detained about three weeks ago and is now under house arrest. His detention only became publicly known yesterday. The motive for the treason allegation appears to be the publication of an article about gas dynamics in an Iranian magazine.

Dmitry Kolker, head of the laboratory of quantum optical technologies of Novosibirsk State University, researcher of the Institute of Laser Physics, was diagnosed with stage four cancer and died on the third day after his arrest.

The letter from researchers at the Institute of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics of the Russian Academy of Sciences stated that: "Over the past year, three outstanding aerodynamic scientists of our institute - Anatoly Maslov, Alexander Shiplyuk, and Valery Zvegintsev - were arrested on suspicion of committing a crime under the most severe article of the Criminal Code: treason. We know each of them as a patriot... incapable of committing what the investigating authorities suspect them of doing."

"The most frightening thing about this situation is the impact on the scientific youth. Already the best students are refusing to work for us, and our best young employees are leaving science."

The authors of letter emphasize that, according to open sources, the reason for the cases were presentations at international seminars and conferences, the publication of articles in high-ranking journals, and participation in international scientific projects. In addition, all the scientists' material has been checked for the presence of restricted information, and no such information was found.

Keep up the good work, comrade Putin!

NB: We have to be careful here, too, and balance our legitimate security interests against going overboard or even blatant political witch hunts like Trump-era's (Not Russia! Russia! Russia! - China! China! China!) China Initiative - en.wikipedia.org and similar actions under new names:

www.science.org - Pall of suspicion: NIH's secretive China Initiative destroyed scores of academic careers - Science Mag, 2022-March-23

www.technologyreview.com - The US crackdown on Chinese economic espionage is a mess. We have the data to show it - MIT, 2021-December-02

www.npr.org - The Justice Department is ending its controversial China Initiative - NPR, 2022-February-23

Treason: Russia arrests 3 hypersonic missile scientists

Article makes it sound like they all have just been arrested and it has to do with PATRIOT in Ukraine downing a bunch of Russian missiles, including "unstoppable" supersonic Kinzhal / "Dagger." Wish it were the case, but in reality:

Anatoly Maslov, a researcher at the Institute of Laser Physics of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, suspected of transferring state secret data related to hypersonic missiles. was arrested on June 27, 2022.

The District Court of Novosibirsk arrested another scientist, Dmitry Kolker, on June 30, 2022, on suspicion of treason. Kolker, who has been diagnosed with stage four cancer, died while being transferred from the pre-trial detention center.

Dr Alexander Shiplyuk, director of the Institute of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics of the Russian Academy of Sciences' Siberian Branch, is the third Russian scientist arrested on suspicion of treason and sent to the Lefortovo prison in Moscow, on August 5, 2022.

All three scientists were working at, with Shiplyuk heading, a technology lab with unique wind tunnels purpose-built for simulating hypersonic conditions.

Today, on May 17, 2023, a fourth physicist from the same department, Valery Zvegintsev, has been detained on treason charges.

An open letter from a group of prominent Russian scientists to save Russian aerodynamic science sector "from the impending collapse" now warns that Moscow's arrests of its top researchers will cause Russia to fall behind in the development of such weapons.

Russia is thought to have HGV (hypersonic glide vehicle) weapons in its arsenal, the Avangard system, which Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2018 claimed was "practically invulnerable" to Western air defenses.

@ #4 | Posted by madbomber - yes, it does sound like Stalin's and following Russian leaders' periodic "purges" of their elite scientists, academics, artists and intelligentsia. Apparently they live by Niccolo Machiavelli's rule that "if, ideally, it is not possible to be both loved and feared... it's safer to be feared than loved."

Russia has long suffered periods of "brain drain" - from tsarist times through its Communist history, and during Putinist fascism. More than 900,000 of young "best and brightest" left just after invasion of Ukraine, while the "door" was open. Many are still risking their lives to escape that regime.

... and that price increases aren't a 1:1 for the labor costs. 50% higher labor costs don't translate to 50% higher prices across the board.
I dunno. People tend to think linearly when that's not the case.

No, it can't be linear, because labor cost is not a 100% component of expense - mostly it's around 30%-35% depending on industry - but it's the most significant non-seasonal, unreducible cost. There are also other seasonal and every industry-specific temporary or permanent cost inputs. And minimum wage rise affects all cost inputs of the supply chain, so your suppliers raise prices due to their rising cost, in addition to your own costs - that's one of the main reasons for insanity of VAT system - the more suppliers in the chain, the higher costs and prices have to go:

For example, from another "fast-casual" higher-end QSR that depends on locations in expensive high-traffic areas (like malls, stadiums, airports, stations) and brand loyalty, well before COVID:
www.fool.com - Shake Shack's High Labor Costs Helping to Push Automation / October 16, 2017

----- "The restaurant industry is slowly getting priced out of the labor market, and chains such as Shake Shack (SHAK -1.50% ) that have led the charge to raise wages are now finding it's an expensive proposition. After saying just last year automation would not replace humans at its restaurants, Shake Shack is introducing a self-order kiosk at its newest New York City site. It might not eliminate employee counts immediately - the kiosks will be manned by "hospitality champs" to ease the customer transition - but it's obviously the first step in the process. The reason for Shake Shack's apparent change of heart is that labor costs are rising. In New York, the minimum wage is rising to $13.50 at the end of this year and jumps to $15 per hour in December 2018. The problem is, Shake Shack's higher labor costs are hurting its top and bottom line. While wages were raised with a lot of publicity, so were menu prices, though without quite as much fanfare. Labor costs were specifically called out last quarter as the reason restaurant-level operating margins tumbled 200 basis points for the period, only slightly better than the 300-point drop they were responsible for in the first quarter, but much worse than the 60-point drop they caused for all of 2016.

Higher prices take bite out of sales. Same-store sales at locations open for at least two years are continuing to decline and over the first half of 2017 have turned negative.

... Of course, Shake Shack isn't the only restaurant having to contend with rising labor costs. McDonald's (MCD -0.03% ) and Wendy's (WEN -0.46% ) are both expanding the use of kiosk ordering, with the latter adding them to 1,000 restaurants. ... Employee costs [from] automation will probably not fall right away, but particularly when a restaurant sees its costs going up and its sales and profits falling, it's a situation that can only lead to fewer jobs." -----

QSRs and retailers are worth watching simply because they are a great general indicator of almost any service industry - most automation already has been done and is not easy, so has to be worth investing in.

Another point to clarify the investors' expectations on "profit margins" : they expect them to be mostly stable around industry or company upper-limits, but react poorly to lower gross margins (means lower-profit product mix or bigger discounts to move the product) and lower operating and net margins excluding one-time charges (means inefficiencies or higher costs in business operations, like SG&A or higher inventory or interest payments etc.)

#20 | Posted by jpw at 2023-04-14 11:17 AM
Yep, increasing "minimum" or "living" wages while maintaining ever increasing corporate profit margins...

--- Fixed it.

Actually, you are probably confusing the ever increasing corporate profits margins with increasing corporate profits - if you do a little research, most stable, i.e., not "fast-growing," companies' like CPGs and retailers' gross and net profit margins (in %%) are remarkably stable, while their absolute gross and net profits (in $$) are obviously increasing with higher inflation. That's due to competition within and even outside of their immediate industries and because there are clear upper limits on gross margins (%%) within their sector and sub-sector and forward-visibility, as well as some well-accepted forms of financial engineering, like buying stock to compensate for dilution due to stock options issuance, and/or bump profit by a penny or two, to smooth the quarter earnings.

They usually maintain margins (%%) with efficiencies, like hiring / firing discipline (e.g., see recent McDonalds' "pruning" of workforce while reporting excellent earnings previous quarter, but cautious forward guidance.)

But it doesn't have to be that way.
www.cnbc.com - Only a 4% increase to cover the cost of wage increases.

Sorry, but your example is from early (Q2) of 2021. That's when economists like Larry Summers, Mohamed El-Erian and some others worth paying attention to (not the chattering "economists" on CNBC, MSNBC and FN / FBN) as well as people who were buying groceries in stores - instead of getting their restaurant food delivered through Uber / Doordash / Grubhub or subscription services - already noticed initial signs of accelerating inflation and started to send up warning flares of Fed's NZIRP / ZIRP and continuous flood of "government money" - some of which was Keynesian and needed, most of which was grossly overdone and inefficiently distributed, and much of which was plain corrupt.

Also, anyone watching QSR (quick service restaurants) industry, knows that there were several short periods of time of paradox in 2021-2022 when it was "cheaper" to buy burger, chicken or certain fast food items in fast-food restaurants than buying and preparing them from grocery stores - because QSRs are relatively slow and cautious of raising prices due to competitive reasons and especially after a period when their "foot traffic" was much lower than pre-COVID, so they were thinking more of increasing traffic and revenue and were willing to forego profit, while grocery stores just mostly passed along increases (or occasional "deals") with the usual profit markups.

Your example actually confirms it : The timing of the price hikes coincides with rising ingredient costs across the restaurant industry as suppliers grapple with the return of demand. For now, Chipotle isn't planning on further price increases.

In May, the leisure and hospitality industries added 292,000 jobs, but employment in those fields is still down by 2.5 million compared with pre-pandemic levels...

Also, Chipotle is not considered a "fast-food" restaurant but a "fast-casual" restaurant, so it generally has a higher-end prices and more loyal, more price-tolerant customer base and it's easier for them to pass through supply-chain increases than for a smaller, lower-end chain or independent food joint or retail store.

BTW, thanks for your immune oncology research. Hopefully you and teams like yours find reliable immunotherapy solutions that can replace most chemo and radio business. Appreciate it.

#22 | Posted by LampLighter at 2023-04-14 11:27 AM
Unemployment Is Low...
The job market is, incredibly, better today than it was in February 2020

Most of the recent data suggests that the economy is strong. More people are working. They are paid more.

That's from New York Times. And yes... if we cherry-pick the government data.

People ARE paid "more"... nominally, on average, not accounting for inflation and higher taxes that ate their wage gains and then some...

And "more" people ARE working... nominally, in absolute numbers, but not as a percentage of labor force participation rate or average hours worked, because we are still about 3 million (!) people short of where we would have been if we kept on the trajectory before COVID wiped out 20M from labor force.

www.cbsnews.com - Millions of men have dropped out of the workforce, leaving companies struggling to fill jobs

That created artificially tight labor market and higher demand in some segments of the mostly service economy which either cannot or have not yet been automated or cannot be afforded to fill in some high-wage areas. That will eventually go down and "stabilize" - if governments (feds, state, muni) and unions stop "helping" by demanding increased wages and/or "benefits" that the private sector has to pay for; then they will blame the private sector for "greed" in laying people off and raising prices, to stay in business and maintain their net profit margins.

As soon as the "Fight for $15" ended in most employers raising their "minimum wage" the same employees found out that their brand spanking new $15/hr can no longer support their rising "living wage" expenses and the "Fight for $18" started... What do you think will happen when they "win" that one... and the next, and so on? If this keeps up we might sometime soon have "minimum wage millionaires" complaining about "living wage" and "having to work two jobs, and living paycheck-to-paycheck" just to keep ends meet.

Even inflation, long the black cloud in the economy's sunny sky, is showing signs of dissipating...

WOW, "happy days are here again"! Yes, eventually, most inflations subside - compared to a year ago (unless you are in Venezuela, Argentina (en.wikipedia.org || socialism.com - Maria Alvarez of the Argentina's Freedom Socialist Party) or some other semi-socialist "s**thole country") - but we are still running about 5% or more depending on your basket (groceries etc. that hit harder the lower end of income scale, including lower-end middle class) which is still very high and that's on top of inflation that had already occurred. Remember, for years the Fed was bothered that inflation was running lower than its self-imposed annual "target" of 2%, and ignored market factors keeping NZIRP Fed rates well below Taylor Rule, which adjusts based on real market inflation.

This one is also from NYT: Paul Krugman's kinda, sorta mea culpa - www.nytimes.com - "I Was Wrong About Inflation."

"Yet inflation soared anyway...
In any case, the whole experience has been a lesson in humility."

Krugman used to be a good economist (Nobel Prize laureate) before he became a NYT shill and ideologically skewed interpretation of economic data... There are number of [formerly?] good economists on both sides who have / had to(?) become ideological shills and cherry-picking or skewing data depending on which audience they cater to.

Food prices go down under President Biden
For the first time since 2020 food prices are going down.

Then why was President Biden raising them for more than 2 years? Or maybe food prices "went down because of / 'under' recently elected Republican House of Representatives"?

Who and why write these stupid headlines?

#9 | Posted by jpw at 2023-04-13 12:09 PM
Actually, this is showing exactly what many of us would have predicted by increasing wages, particularly minimum wage, too much too fast.
Prices of goods simply rise to absorb it and you're essentially back to where you started, except those who worked for the $16-$20 an hour wage point get screwed because the increased buying power they earned evaporated.

Yep, increasing "minimum" or "living" wages and/or flooding the economy with money only lead to higher-than-market-induced inflation and will keep screwing people in the middle tiers and non-working elderly on "fixed income" - which only increases the "income inequality" - exactly opposite result of what the policy is advertised and ostensibly was desired to do.

Despite what Bernie Sanders' economic adviser Stephanie Kelton believes (* MMT / Modern Monetary Theory - "government debt doesn't matter, just print more money") it's basic economics that too many people are ignorant of - government's "trickle-up" policies always lead to higher inflation and often recession.

While recessions come and go, inflations accumulate.

That was just as true since 1975 as it was before 1975 - "80/20 golden rule" / Pareto Principle / Pareto Distribution : 80% of outcomes (or outputs) result from 20% of all causes (or inputs). At any given time, top 20% will hold approximately 80% of the wealth (+/-5% for diminishing marginal benefit).

* www.newyorker.com - The Economist Who Believes the Government Should Print More Money / August 20, 2019

www.cnbc.com - Fed analysis warns of 'economic ruin' when governments print money to pay off debt

#9 | Posted by catdog at 2023-04-12 09:17 AM
My money is still on Microsoft/Google/Apple/ Amazon buying the TWTR bonds, waiting for a default, squeezing Elmo like a tube of toothpaste, ousting him, taking over the company, and restoring some semblance of order in that sector of the world...

Why would any of them wish to take over and endure a headache like running and moderating Twitter - they are not generally known for their altruism and it wouldn't be doing anything for any of their top 3 primary businesses... Except maybe for using Twitter to feed their ML data and train their ChatGPTs / "generative AIs" but there are better and cheaper ways of doing that without buying Twitter - IOW, so not worth the pain.

Musk, of course, already declared - as they say, "without evidence" - that "most of the advertisers who abandoned Twitter after his acquisition have returned" ("Almost all of them have either come back or said they're coming back") and that "Twitter is operating at about breakeven and could become cash-flow positive as soon as this quarter."

Of course, if you fire most of the headcount and don't pay the bills, you can run cash-flow positive for a few quarters on accounting basis, but soon the wheels would start falling off. And it's a private company, so he doesn't have to prove the numbers... And this is Musk, so he can say anything he wants and maybe he "repaints" some numbers to match the background in his head, so they are not visible. "Problem solved."

#6 | Posted by Hughmass at 2023-04-12 06:31 AM
And how is he going to sell the company, which was one of the options he had listed when he bought it. Someone who buys it will now have to buy it will the X baggage.

1. Individual companies are separated and sold from umbrellas all the time, after establishing their "true" standalone market value.

2. He's not selling Twitter/Titter any time soon, certainly not in the condition it is now and not at the valuation he recently estimated ($20B) because
a) he is still having too much fun with all that "power" it affords him and
b) nobody needs or wants Twitter with all the mess he created and lawsuits against previous and current (Elon, Musk and Elon Musk) owners and management, and
c) even bigger uncertainty of how to monetize Twitter's eyeballs.

3) He could try to [re]make X in the mold of highly integrated Tencent's messaging+shopping platform WeChat or at least Alibaba's Taobao + Alipay or JD.com e-commerce platforms, possibly by getting APIs to the point where he could possibly [reverse-]merge it with an e-commerce / payment company such as his pal and investor in Twitter Jack Dorsey's Block / Square or maybe even going for broke by going to his roots and merging with / acquiring PayPal. That's an iffy proposition, especially after the massacre of devs and support departments, but many techies are getting laid off so finding devs shouldn't be a problem... if they don't mind working for Musk, and he and other investors are willing to invest enough.

Meanwhile, "fun" according to Musk :
"Musk addressed Twitter's merger with a newly formed shell firm called X Corp. "Yes, there is something more to it." He still wants to build X, the everything app akin to Tencent's WeChat.

Musk also repeatedly claimed his dog is now Twitter's CEO. "I am not the CEO of Twitter. My dog is the CEO of Twitter. He's got a black turtleneck, what more do you need?"

Twitter Inc. has been merged into X Corp. and no longer exists. X Corp. is a privately held corporation, incorporated in Nevada...

That's pretty much according to the plan - X Corp is an umbrella corporation for multiple entities... like Alphabet or Meta or IAC. Public umbrellas don't necessarily have to disclose or break down financials of individual segments or companies. Being private makes it even easier to hide financials or how and what individual pieces are doing.

Then there's is this - 4/20 starting early this year?

'Breast-obsessed' Elon Musk paints over the 'W' on Twitter sign at San Francisco HQ changing it to 'Titter'
- Elon Musk tweeted in April 2022: 'Delete the w in Twitter?'
- Now the CEO has painted over the letter, leaving the sign to read 'Titter'
- Elon Musk replaces Twitter's bird icon with Dogecoin's cartoon mascot days after he asked judge to throw out $258BN racketeering lawsuit accusing him of running a pyramid scheme to support the cryptocurrency

Elon Musk has taken his 'obsession with breasts' one step further by changing the Twitter headquarters sign to read 'Titter.' Musk shared an image of the street sign in San Francisco Sunday evening, revealing he had the 'w' painted white after a failed attempt to cover it with a tarp last week. "Our landlord at SF HQ says we're legally required to keep sign as Twitter & cannot remove 'w,' so we painted it background color. Problem solved," Musk tweeted.

Musk is also known for his off-color humor - he joked about starting a new university called the "Texas Institute of Technology & Science" or ----. And he had planned on having "epic merch."

Days before offering to buy Twitter for $44 billion in April, he tweeted: 'Delete the w in Twitter?' Now at the helm of the platform, Musk finally got what he wanted.

Apparently, long-term planning ended in success. $44+B? So worth it!

The spring draft for military service in Russia is underway. Will the young men be sent to fight in Ukraine?

Putin removes age limit for conscripts as Russian forces devastated
Russia triples contract length for prisoners fighting in Ukraine war

Russia's winter war on Ukraine's energy has failed - Ukraine plans to restart electricity exports

Russia may propose ceasefire in bid to stop Ukraine counteroffensive - Russian state TV pundit outlines how Ukraine could target Crimea

Russia reveals plan to combat new wave of Western weapons: "Tank hunters" - Russian defense minister ordered the creation of troop units trained to take out tanks supplied to Ukraine by the Western allies

Russia sacrifices resources for "minimal" gains in city with key road - battle over Marinka, Ukraine, has left what once was a city of 10,000 empty of people and largely destroyed.

Russia state TV warns about new NATO member Finland "serious military force" as NATO doubles border with Russia

Putin's forces are surrendering at surging pace - "The Ukrainian counteroffensive operation on the ground has not yet begun, but its effect is already bearing fruit," said spokesperson for the "I Want to Live" hotline - registered appeals for surrender from Russian soldiers doubled from last month to 3,000

Putin mocked after speech met with awkward silence - Putin paused for applause that never came during a speech at the Grand Kremlin Palace

Putin was waiting on "wink" from Donald Trump to seize Ukraine - It was "such a clear indication of what Vladimir Putin was trying to do," former Mueller prosecutor Andrew Weissmann said. Written correspondence between former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort and Kremlin aide Konstantin Kilimnik discussed Putin claiming part of Ukraine, saying that a "wink" from the Republican former president was needed to "make this work."

Europe is not only surviving the energy war against Russia - it's winning
Xi's rhetoric aligns with Putin against the USA but he wouldn't sign big gas deal with Russia

Putin's drive to expand Russia's armed forces is adding to labor shortages as his war draws hundreds of thousands of workers into the military from the economy. Shortage of personnel is hampering processes for the economy's structural transformation.

"The era of windfall profits from the oil and gas market for Russia is over." The price of a barrel of Urals crude fell to under $50 in January after Europe's oil embargo, while Brent and WTI are priced around $70-$80 per barrel. Yet Russia's 2023 budget is based on a Urals price of more than $70 per barrel, but with little buyers interest elsewhere, China and India are negotiating ever greater discounts. "There will be no money next year, we need foreign investors," said Russian raw-materials billionaire Oleg Deripaska in March.

Russia's economy on a trajectory of decline. Russia's finances are strained as it struggles to find replacement customers willing to buy commodities. Budget deficit for January alone was of $23.5 billion. Expenditures jumped 59% year-over-year, while revenue plunged 35%. State revenue shortfalls suggest an increasing dilemma over how to reconcile ballooning military expenditures with the subsidies and social spending that kept Putin's popularity high.

Thousands of officials fail Putin's paranoid 'loyalty' tests
More Russian military dismissals expected after Putin's firing of top commander in Vuhledar

Air defenses being installed near Putin's Sochi home

Putin eyes new 'Wagner Group' as Prigozhin feud continues
Wagner boss contradicts own claim of victory in Bakhmut

All feminists to be officially designated 'Extremists' under proposed Russian law

Putin's former elections chief dies after 'massive heart attack'
Russian pop star who criticized Putin found dead after drowning

Kremlin exile Ilya Ponomarev claims Russian rebels behind bomb that killed Vladlen Tatarsky
Russia's prosecutors are preparing criminal cases against the comedians mocking Vladlen Tatarsky

Four bankers who allowed a friend of Vladimir Putin - Sergei Roldugin, nicknamed "Putin's wallet" - to deposit huge sums in Swiss banks have been found guilty

Russian state media attacks Putin's War for the first time. RIA Novosti report titled "We didn't expect this" features interviews with frustrated soldiers who were injured while fighting in the war in Ukraine and didn't receive the compensation promised by the Russian president.

Trump hailed as 'Destroyer of America' on Russian state TV
Team Putin brutally mocks their beloved Trump in arrest skit - "We're getting lots of popcorn and waiting!" one Kremlin mouthpiece said against an AI-generated backdrop of Trump behind bars.

Russia-Ukraine War: Rouble Tumbles to Lowest in a Year

Ruble is a little more than a penny to the US$1 now. Makes it more expensive to buy things (like drones and other military toys) and brings in less of whatever currency they want to trade in (yuan, rial, lira...) for their deeply discounted oil and gas, which they now sell at a loss relative to production costs, but they need money for military supply and social services and have nothing else of value to sell... and demand is not there, so on top of Saudi 500,000 barrels a day Russia had to cut 700,000 from their production - less output, less money, lower conversion rate. Ruble's weakness has caused high inflation.

Putin's economy is in shambles; far from hopes of higher commodity prices and higher currency that was much talked about in first few months of the invasion, he is dealing with collapse of prices and currency, and very limited and fragile markets for his goods.

Brilliant moves, "genius" Vlad!

That's not all of his problems. He's losing whatever friends he had or thought he had, and his external and especially internal enemies are accumulating fast.

Victims of a war waged by Russia decades ago have united with Ukrainian troops in a high stakes deal against Putin."

"The same torture, the same mass graves... the things the Russians are doing in Ukraine, they were doing back in Chechnya," says Chechen Maga fighting for Ukrainian side. Maga said the atrocities he has seen in Putin's invasion match stories told by his relatives, who fought in the wars for Chechen independence from the Russian Federation in the 1990s.

Now, this shared trauma appears to have formed a bond between Chechens who have flocked to Ukraine to fight against Putin's invasion and Ukrainians. "If I am alive, I will participate in the liberation of Chechnya," said Alexander, a 43-year-old Ukrainian. "Why? Because for me they are brotherly people."

They have recently been fighting on the frontlines in Bakhmut, where they say that Russian tactics are just like those of the Soviets during the Second World War: "They throw and cover everything in meat and capture [territory] because they have a lot of this meat," while caring nothing for the lives of their soldiers or Ukrainian civilians.

Alexander admitted that even he used to find Russian propaganda persuasive. "We were constantly brainwashed that Chechens are our enemies. We were told that on TV all day long. Muslims, terrorists, etc. But let's just say, we didn't have the sources [that would allow us] to assess it critically. We had only one source: newspapers and TV, and you believed it!" He is extremely disheartened by his countrymen, and even family members who - despite access to the internet and social media - still believe Russian propaganda about the war in Ukraine.

"Why can't the people who live across the border... take another [source of] information, read it, compare, and think, 'What is the purpose of it all?' They got brainwashed that they are fighting some kind of mythical fascism and they are protecting their motherland. How can you protect your motherland whilst being on someone else's territory?"

For Maga, the only thing that will bring freedom to Chechnya is not just defeat in the war in Ukraine, but the end of the wider Russian empire. "This is necessary for peace both inside and outside Russia's borders. Dudayev [former Chechen leader] said that if today you keep Chechnya as an internal problem of Russia - tomorrow Europe will be an internal problem of Russia."

The Ukrainian parliament has already adopted a resolution declaring Chechnya as an independent state that is occupied by Russia, and denounced genocide of the Chechen people.

#2 | Posted by Effeteposer at 2023-04-04 12:24 AM
It's not like they were white Europeans or anything. C'mon man,get real.

No, with white Europeans you have to go back further, at least to Bill Clinton and 1998-1999, Serbia - Kosovo bombing.

"Prolonged exposure and overexposure to depleted uranium (DU) is leukemogenic and genotoxic due to its radiological (alpha particle) and chemical (metal) components. The use of DU in the 1999 Kosovo War raised concern about the increase of new cases of leukemia."

And, of course, "Russia has routinely used the depleted uranium tank rounds that Moscow said had a "nuclear component" when donated by the United Kingdom to Ukraine."

And British armed forces have used depleted uranium in its armor piercing shells for decades. "It is a standard component and has nothing to do with nuclear weapons or capabilities. Russia knows this, but is deliberately trying to disinform. There is no nuclear escalation," British foreign secretary James Cleverly said.

Since 1982, Russia has used several types of DU tank rounds, including variants of the "Svinets" rounds, said William Alberque of the IISS think tank. Russian state media has previously publicized the upgrading of Russian main battle tanks, including the T-80BV, T-72 and T-90 tanks, to be capable of firing DU rounds. In 2018 Russian newspapers reported that DU ammunition upgrades One Russian spokesman told TASS in 2018 that the use of DU munitions did not violate any international agreements.

Of course, Russia used DU rounds in Ukraine - on white Europeans, to stop them from being "Europeans" (as in EU) or even "Ukrainians" as Putin doesn't recognize that as ethnicity and wants to wipe it out and replace with "Russians".

What's your opinion on Russia's use of Thermobaric Rocket Launchers TOS-1A "Solntsepek" that create "incendiary and blast effects" which can destroy infrastructure, and cause significant damage to internal organs and flash burns, resulting in death to those exposed?

Now, about the leukemia and DU:

"In 2020, leukemia was estimated to be the 15th and 11th most frequent cause of cancer incidence and cancer-related mortality worldwide, respectively, accounting for 474,519 incident cases and 311,594 deaths. In addition, leukemia is the most common cancer in children younger than five years of age and accounts for the highest percentage of deaths, creating a significant burden on individuals, families, and countries. The global age-standardized rate of incidence was 5.4 per 100,000 and there was an almost five-fold variation worldwide. The exact cause of leukemia is still not well understood. It is a multifactorial disease resulting from the interaction of both genetic and environmental factors."

But never mind that - according to The Guardian, it all comes down to minor use of DU ammo in IRAQ!!! Because Saddam had such great army of tanks it took 20 years of shelling them with DU rounds to destroy and Coalition personnel was right there next to them!

"Studies on mice introduced DU directly in the bloodstream in vivo. Because the radiation cannot go to the marrow, it is biologically impossible for depleted uranium to cause leukemia."

"Irradiation of bone marrow by uranium's alpha particles would be almost impossible, unless entered into body through embedded fragments or contaminated wounds. Some Gulf War, Bosnia, Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), and Operation New Dawn (OND) Veterans may have been exposed to DU when they were: on, in, or near vehicles hit with friendly fire; entering or near burning vehicles; near fires involving DU munitions; or salvaging damaged vehicles."

#28 | Posted by oneironaut at 2023-04-03 11:33 PM |
Renee Diresta wrote the Senate Report on Russian bots. The New York Times later exposed her company for creating fake Russian bot accounts to sway an American election.
In response, she was promoted to lead the Election Integrity Project and the Virality Project.

I see it's a new, barely 1 day-old, Russian trolls' meme about Renee DiResta of Stanford Internet Observatory being "exposed as fake" - she must be doing a really great job that Russia wants to discredit her and her research on Russian troll factories.

Can you point to any NYT article that "exposed her company for creating fake Russian bot accounts to sway an American election"? Because I couldn't find any. Instead I found several right-wing sights that started this meme yesterday.

    ... Employing real people. In 2016, Russia used trolls, bots and other proxies primarily located in Russia itself to spread disinformation and generate divisive content. Social media platforms have become more adept at taking down accounts traced to Russia, so Moscow has increasingly begun to employ real people in targeted or other countries to knowingly or unknowingly spread Russia's narratives on its behalf. This helps Russia avoid the obvious signs of fake accounts that have led to quick account deactivations in the past. As Renee DiResta of the Stanford Internet Observatory stated, "Hiring people who are fluent in the language and culture avoids the kind of tells that can expose an operation."

    In October 2019, Facebook took down a Russia-based information operation that employed real Africans to post Russian propaganda and disinformation within African countries. The Russians even used some hacked Facebook accounts that had previously belonged to real people. More recently, the bogus news site Peace Data employed Ghanaian activists to write content targeting Black communities in the U.S. and hired freelance writers in the West to post articles espousing a far-left point of view. These writers did not appear to know that Peace Data was based in Russia. Facebook deactivated the site's social media accounts in September. This recent approach also shows the Russians are focusing less on spreading wholly made-up disinformation and more on sponsoring opinion articles written to generate shares, stir emotions, and cause division.

Are you one of those, like Effeteposer and his comrades?

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