Three Things: Dead, Deader, Deadest

[NB: check the byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

Watching Russia’s continued assault on Ukraine has been horrific, bodies shredded and families burnt to cinders as their cities are leveled by Russian missiles. Photographic evidence of war crimes has been particularly difficult to witness.

Whatabouters argue western countries particularly the U.S. engage in a double standard over Ukraine’s losses compared to Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, and other past engagements in which western military force has been mustered.

If their point is that U.S. foreign policy has been conflicted in the past, yes, it has, and it’s been so because of conditions established long before many of us were born.

Like our nation’s reliance on oil and the agreement to protect Saudi Arabia to assure continuity of oil production for economic national security.

Other crappy foreign policy decisions spin from that origin or are tangentially related to that agreement because in part elections have been bought by oil and gas money, or the dependency of U.S. national security on the flow of oil and gas has been made economically sticky.

We had a critical opportunity in 2000 to take an alternative time line and delaminate our security from oil but that fork in the road wasn’t taken.

Instead the presidential election was decided by the Supreme Court in favor of an oil man who lost the popular vote — in essence, a right-wing coup took place in favor of continued reliance on oil and the eventual hamstringing of Americans’ domestic needs by trillions of taxpayers’ dollars spent in unlawful and unnecessary wars to assure our continued addiction to fossil fuels.

But this is what has made the existential crisis in Ukraine so dynamic and engaging to western observers, particularly Americans. The problem is black and white: a sovereign democracy was attacked by a larger hostile neighbor which seeks to eliminate its existence. It happened in full view of the global public with access to the internet and social media platforms.

The fossil fuel problem is now likewise simplistic: the hostile neighbor’s kleptocratic economy relies heavily on oil and natural gas. It has used both to bully neighboring countries for decades, threatening the economic security of western allies. It’s using its fossil fuels now to cudgel the market for supporting Ukraine and to raise funds to continue its illegitimate invasion.

We’ve returned to the fork in the road again, 22 years later. Our national security and that of our allies is threatened by the continued reliance on fossil fuels, not including the increased geopolitical and economic instability generated by the mounting climate crisis.

Fossil fuels must die, should already have been long dead. It’s past time to liberate ourselves and other sovereign democratic nations from its grip.

~ 3 ~

Speaking of death, there have been a few unexpected deaths in Russia. Reported by Russia’s Sota Vision via Twitter:

…Family members of the former vice-president of Gazprombank Vladislav Avaev and himself found dead in Moscow According to the preliminary version of the investigation, Avaev shot his wife and thirteen-year-old daughter with a pistol, and then shot himself. The bodies of the dead were discovered by a relative of the family.

Gazprombank converted Gazprom sales in non-rubles to rubles. Vladislav Avayev’s death is the third one of executives affiliated with Gazprom this year. The unconfirmed scuttlebutt is that Avayev had been in the middle of a messy divorced, tensions heightened because his daughter was disabled. But the divorce makes a handy cover story if this wasn’t a murder-suicide situation.

The previous Gazprom-related deaths were also suicides in which windows weren’t used.

Alexander Tyulyakov, an executive identified as Deputy General Director of the Unified Settlement Center of Gazprom, was found hanged on February 25, the morning after the Russian invasion of Ukraine began. Quelle coïncidence.

(Side note: I’m not able to confirm one way or another this Tyulyakov is the same one who held onto a bunch of uranium which was involved in the U.S. uranium repatriation program with Russia back in 2003.)

Leonid Shulman, executive at Gazprom Invest, was found on January 29 dead of an apparent suicide. Descriptions of his death are sketchy but it sounds like he’d bled out in a bathtub.

Both Tyulyakov and Shulman died at home in the region referred to as “the nest” where many of Gazprom executives lived.

Reading about this cluster of deaths, one outlet remarked how rare executives “suicide” deaths have been with only four having occurred over the last dozen years. It’s a rather dry method of noting how very bad this cluster of three deaths is from Russians’ perspective, and how deadly being an executive in Russian business can be.

~ 2 ~

Russia has suffered the loss of yet another general this past weekend. Major General Vladimir Frolov, deputy commander of the 8th Army, died in combat in Donbas region. That’s eight dead generals since the invasion began. Details about this officer’s death are fuzzy at best.

Frolov wasn’t the only senior Russian government figure of note lost this past week; retired army general and veteran of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service Vyacheslav Trubnikov died at age 78. No mention of cause of death in any report I found, only praise for Trubnikov’s service and mourning over his death.

Trubnikov’s death was announced more than 5-10 days after Ukraine doxxed 620 members of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), the intelligence agency.

Was Trubnikov still a spy for Russia even at his advanced age? Was this a roll-up or just an old dude shuffling off the mortal coil?

~ 1 ~

Russia lost nearly one million citizens between October 2020 and September 2021. The country’s total population before the pandemic began was less than 43% of the U.S.’s population, which suggests its COVID deaths were not only grossly underreported but multiple times greater than that of the U.S.

And you know how stupid and avoidable U.S. COVID deaths have been even before vaccines were approved and distributed. COVID surely had an impact on the number of active duty and retired Russian military available for deployment.

At a rate of 10.7 births per 1,000 citizens, Russia has experienced a decline in birth rates like all other developed nations. Its birth rate is lower than that of the U.S. and may be related to factors like increased alcoholism and the lingering fallout from the economic upheaval of the 1990s. Russian women born during the 1990s are much fewer in number than the cohort who were children and young adults at that time.

… The effects of this dramatic and prolonged collapse in birthrates are now becoming apparent. A brief glance at Russia’s population pyramid illustrates this knock-on effect. There are around 12.5 million Russians between the ages of 30 and 34 who were born around or just before the collapse of the Soviet Union. But there are around 6.5 million people between the ages of 20 and 24 who were born during the chaos of the late 1990s. This smaller base of people able to bear children means the birthrate is almost destined to decline. And that is exactly what has happened; after a brief period of natural population growth in the mid-2010s, Russia’s population once again began to contract in 2019. It will continue to do so well into the foreseeable future. … [source]

Which means there were fewer male children born during the 1990s as well. This certainly has affected the number of Russian service persons, and likely explains why we’ve seen Chechens enlisted as well as recruiting from African countries and the Middle East, and why military contractors have been engaged to fight against Ukraine.

The deaths of so many Russian military leaders may also be related to COVID. Russia does not encourage its lowest level service persons to exercise much independent decision making in the field; major generals and superior officers below them are in the field to provide direction. If much of the military has been exposed to COVID with at least 20-25% suffering from some degree of long COVID, leadership’s function is degraded as is the function of all subordinates. (In actuality the percentage globally of COVID infected who suffer from long COVID is closer to 43%. Age appears to increase the likelihood of long COVID.)

Poor performance due to the effects of COVID only exacerbates morale problems among those serving who weren’t told they were going to invade Ukraine, who weren’t supposed to be engaged in active warfare as conscripts, who were police and not military as some were.

Many have surely paid with their lives for Russia’s inability to plan for the effects of COVID. One can only wonder how much more COVID will cut into both Russia’s military, its country, and its future — recall that COVID also does a number on men’s testicles and on pregnant women.

~ 0 ~

And now today, even as I was writing this, yet another executive of a Russian gas company was found dead along with his wife and daughter. Sergei Protosenya was the former deputy chairman of Novatek, Russia’s second-largest natural gas producer. He had been staying in Catalonia with his wife and daughter; his son couldn’t get them on the phone and called the police to investigate. They found what appeared to be a murder-suicide but reports implied this was subject to further investigation.

What are the odds of two Russian natural gas executives and their families dead by murder-suicide within a week’s time?

73 replies
  1. Rayne says:

    This was grim going. It’s so frustrating that we’re not processing how much loss we’ve suffered as a country, let alone how much loss humanity has experienced globally.

    I can’t help wonder if the invasion of Ukraine wasn’t the biggest, nastiest ‘wag the dog’ humans have seen in hundreds of years, launched to avoid dealing with the biggest decline in Russia’s population in a lifetime due to incompetent governance.

    • Badger Robert says:

      The Russians have told themselves they won WWII. But its more accurate to say they were on the winning side.
      But as the corruption and incompetency hamstring their attempt to conquer Ukraine, its time to remember that Russia survived WWII with 20M civilian and military casualties, because the army had been Stalinized and Stalin failed to prepare for the obvious pending Nazi invasion.

      • Rayne says:

        There’s an interactive graphic depiction out there somewhere on the internet which shows just how badly WWII hurt Russia. Staggering. I’ll have to hunt it down. I don’t know if they measure against that standard and think this current pandemic is nothing by comparison.

        You made me think of this tweet with “the army had been Stalinized.” Worrisome depending on which way this goes.

        ADDER: Found it – an 18-minute video graphic documentary. So much of this history revisited in Ukraine.

        I should note the Russian deaths include people of what is now Ukraine.

        • gerontar says:

          Rayne, Thanks for sharing the graphic documentary of war deaths. It is chilling how little regard Eastern leaders have had for human life.

        • Rayne says:

          You’d think there would be an effort to concentrate on the health and safety of their people to restore its power but apparently that means something altogether different to Putin the nihilist.

        • Spencer Dawkins says:

          “I should note the Russian deaths include people of what is now Ukraine.”

          Yeah, that’s the thing that keeps amazing me – that the Ukrainian social media videos from the front seem so cheerful. I’m not seeing as many cheerful videos as a month ago, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s a result of Russia actually killing Western journalists, and many of the ones they missed bugging out (honestly, who would blame them?)

      • RJames says:

        PBS has a very good documentary currently showing, Rise of the Nazis. The episodes on Barbarossa and Stalingrad show how Stalin very nearly lost the Soviet Union more than once to the Germans and the needless losses of life do to his ineptitude. Hard to believe there are now people who believe he was a great leader.

        • Charles Wolf says:

          That was all back in the pre-climate change days.
          The nazis wouldn’t freeze to death these days, they’d get stuck in the rasputitsa.

        • FLwolverine says:

          This week the local PBS station advertised the Stalingrad episode but showed an episode from what must be a related series about Hitler’s main lieutenants. This episode featured Goering and Himmler. The story of how quickly and easily the police and the courts were corrupted was chilling, as was the story of the first “re-education” camp, Dachau. I kept remembering the first line of Niemöller’s poem: First they came for the Communists….

    • Rayne says:

      Very busy this last 24 hours in Russia:

      April 20 — Sarmat ICBM tested in Plesetsk Russia; Russia notified US in advance.

      April 21 — Fire at Russia’s Aerospace Defense Research Institute, Tver Russia; supposed to be development site for missiles.
      April 21 — Fire at Dmitrievsky Chemical Plant, Kineshma Russia; unclear what is made at this plant though rumor said missile fuel may have been processed here.

      April 21 — LUKOIL president and board member Vagit Alekperov resigned, reported on his smaller yacht; future crime scene? Should we take bets?

      • Charles Wolf says:

        It would undoubtedly help the effort if the Kerch Bridge(s) were to suddenly become useless.
        I hope some way of accomplishing that is in the works.
        It is very long and I would imagine difficult to defend.

        • Rayne says:

          Nothing a few missiles couldn’t handle. I rather wonder if the Neptune missiles which took out the Moskva couldn’t work on the Kerch Bridge infrastructure below the waterline.

          Just don’t know if the water depth can accommodate a Ukraine submarine or an adequately armed unmanned underwater vehicle.

        • Rayne says:

          I need to do the non-Floridian maths to figure out where Ukraine would have to park a Neptune launcher to safely make the 190-mile range. Might be why Russia has clung so persistently to Mariupol.

          If Ukraine doesn’t have enough made up, I guess we need to help them with raw materials and fabrication or find alternatives.

        • bmaz says:

          Lol, or just give them a bunch of cruise missiles, we have plenty! Suppose ours are different and more complicated to use. France, UK and Germany likely have some to spare too. The holy trinity of “NATO can’t be directly involved” is showing its warts at this point.

        • Rayne says:

          It’s the ‘complicated to use’ part versus finding a way to help speed production and use of their own homegrown weapons. Homegrown is better not just because there’s no learning curve but it would be beneficial to Ukrainians’ spirits — just as taking out the Moskva with their own missiles was a bonus.

        • bmaz says:

          It is the time it would take to get them the materials and for them to then produce them that concerns me.

        • Leoghann says:

          President Biden was notable unclear on what the two large shipments of armaments this week comprised. What was also notable was the dollar amount. There had to be at least one very big pony.

        • posaune says:

          Mr posaune says that Kerch Straight tactical access would require a mini-sub or UUV, but either is extremely difficult to maneuver. surface is a lot more predictable. Bridge design and construction provided by Russian oil industry is likely questionable, however.

        • Rayne says:

          I’m thinking it’d be easier to provide a UUV, though, than a SAM, while providing more stealth. But I don’t know how far along the US is with its armed UUV programs.

        • Jon says:

          Things like this are where I think (deniable) US action is absolutely necessitated.

          However, while action originating from Crimea seems to have been more successful from that launched from other fronts, it also seems to have reached similar limits.

        • Leoghann says:

          I think someone needs to start a General a Day Club, to go with the Russian Executive a Day Club that’s already up and going.

  2. Badger Robert says:

    Good article.
    The test will come when the fighting ends.
    Ukraine will be moving rapidly towards EU membership. It will be an open media environment, and it should have good employment prospects open for temporary or permanent immigrants.
    Most Ukrainian refugees will want to return.
    Russia is losing fewer people to emigration than Ukraine is to refuge seeking. However the Russian losses are most likely concentrated among educated people under age 40.
    They won’t be likely to move back as long as the Putin regime exists.
    If Ukraine gains EU membership and a bilateral military agreement with the US involving training and equipment, it will a big test for the western allies to prove their system works.

    • Leoghann says:

      This is one of the few topics we discuss in which you’re the optimist and I’m the pessimist. My fear is that Russia will only leave Ukraine when Putin dies, if then.

  3. Al Ostello says:

    After Ukraine sunk Putin’s prize warship I was hoping they would get intel on exactly what bunker Putin is hiding in and drill down with hundreds of consecutive missiles on that exact spot.

    • Alan Charbonneau says:

      Speaking of the Moskva, Marcy tweeted
      “FYI: My suspicion about the Moskva sinking is that Ukraine had a **great** deal of US intelligence help but that was laundered bc none of the weapons used had US fingerprints.”

      Looks like she was right on the money:

      • Bobster33 says:

        The full story has yet to come out. One of the weapon simulators tried to evaluate ways to sink the Moskva. One curious result from the simulation is that the Moskva’s missile defense system could not detect or shoot down a Neptune missile in low light with very high waves.

        My guess is that info like this may have been provided to the Ukrainians and they used it.

    • rip says:

      I’m sure that a scenario not too dissimilar to the one you mentioned is being war-gamed right now.

      Back in my younger days these scenarios were based on expert knowledge involving many different disciplines. Now I think they are actually played out many thousands per minute shifting parameter on the models of machine learning. This is the same type of technique that allowed AI to beat humans at their board games. This is the same technique that can beat an old KGB agent at his war game.

  4. morganism says:

    I have been asking if anyone has tried to contact prisoners in jails, or if he conscripted them. The last news reports i saw had the jails seriously overcrowded…

  5. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Has Tom Hagen been busy explaining to Russian oil executives how Roman senators committed suicide to save their families, for the glory of the empire? Perhaps not. These families were murdered, too, which suggests Vlad is making a statement, pour encourager les autres. Putin appears to be cleaning house of those deemed insufficiently loyal.

    There are Americans who think Ukrainians should give up and kowtow to Putin in order to save themselves. The likelihood of Vlad being so generous is lower than the odds of Donald Trumping becoming an avatar of women’s rights and civil liberties. Some of those Americans also argue that Biden is only willing to fight to the last Ukrainian, in pursuit of traditional American realpolitik. That doesn’t sound like Biden, nor does it contemplate that it is Putin who is determined to fight to the last Ukrainian.

    • Badger Robert says:

      The Earl makes an important point. This is a post WWII conflict. The Ukrainians have abundant evidence about losing this conflict would mean.
      As to Biden’s willingness to fight, the Ukrainians were partially prepared for this fight.
      Unlike Poland in 1939, the are fighting just one enemy not two. Poland was attacked by Germany and sold out by Russia.
      The Ukrainians repelled the initial Russian blitzkrieg, and then they looked like a good investment.
      As to Biden being willing to fight to the last Ukrainian, I don’t think that is the case. I would not equate what the Pentagon has disclosed as aid to Ukraine with the full package of aid, especially as to UAVs, that are being provided.

    • Rayne says:

      I wrote about that one at the bottom of my post. Not a Gazprom executive.

      And now today, even as I was writing this, yet another executive of a Russian gas company was found dead along with his wife and daughter. Sergei Protosenya was the former deputy chairman of Novatek, Russia’s second-largest natural gas producer. He had been staying in Catalonia with his wife and daughter; his son couldn’t get them on the phone and called the police to investigate. They found what appeared to be a murder-suicide but reports implied this was subject to further investigation.

      What are the odds of two Russian natural gas executives and their families dead by murder-suicide within a week’s time?

      Two murder-suicides including a child looks like a massive fuck-you from somebody, though it could be somebody cleaning up the doxxed spies list, too, with messy overreach.

      • bmaz says:

        I am just glad to see prostratedragon again. That alone is good enough. Let that be more often please.

    • Leoghann says:

      This butchery makes me wonder what is going on in the European gas sector that we haven’t yet noticed. Marcy wrote several posts about Rick Perry and his Three Other Musketeers and their adventures in Ukraine, in 2019-2019. I’ve always believed that the intense interest in Burisma, and Hunter Biden’s involvement with them, was initially intended as a distraction from further scrutiny of Naftogaz and Trump’s buddies. Now we have Russian gas executives catching a strange suicide bug.

      We’ve also read that Putin is furious with all the intelligence types in his circle that were painting Ukraine as an easy and quick conquest. Many have been suspended from jobs, and a few are detained. It’s possible that both these men were on that list.

    • Molly Pitcher says:

      I have had a horrendous tech day, so it is very likely that I am not thinking clearly, but for the life of me, I cannot understand why all of these oil guys and their families are getting ‘whacked’.

      Is the supposition that they were selling natural gas and oil by the mason jar out of the back of a Lada ? Apologies for the density.

      • drouse says:

        Maybe it is the Russian equivalent of an anti-corruption effort. With the large drop off in revenues, their various depredations may have become more visible and maybe a bit problematic. A case of not rendering unto Caesar sufficiently.

      • john paul jones says:

        It’s possible I suppose that discontented executives and oligarchs might become focal points for groups wanting to oust the King. If you remove them it puts planners on the back foot and serves as an object lesson to those who might be considering as shift in loyalties. The politics around Putin (like those around Kim Jeong-Un, who is the last Joseon monarch in a way) are the politics of medieval courts, though with less civility, that is, everyone jockeying for a position close enough to power to score the big money, but not so close that they end up dead.

    • Dutch Louis says:

      According to the Dutch internetmagazine Follow the Money former president Poroshenko has in 2019 signed an agreement for the building of two new nucleair plants in Ukraine with Skoda JS. Although the name of the company suggests it’s Czech, in reality it is through OMZ BV and OAO OMZ a 100% daughter of Gazprombank. The affairs of OMZ BV were until december 2021 handled by a relatively small Dutch Trust Fund Company, C-Corp, that was founded about twenty years ago. Among others the firm represents corporations owned by Oleg Deripaska. The founding father and CEO of C-Corp died in 2017 after he was hit by a car, while driving his bike in the neighbourhood of Barcelona.

  6. Epicurus says:

    I’ve thought for some time that, given an elementary reading of the CIA factbook on Russia, Russia has about three or four generations before it is past its own tipping point to sustain itself. Wars and pandemics only hasten the reckoning. Putin and his advisers cannot not know that. After that it is just a Spartan shell of nuclear weapons. In that regard Putin had the truly great opportunity to be his country’s true savior by finding a way/ways to reverse the economic, cultural, and political norms that Russia has embraced leading to this tipping point. He has wasted the opportunity and doubled down on Russia’s self destruction.

    Everything about the situation noted by Rayne is so tragic. One wonders what possibly could be so misguided in Putin’s and the people of Russia’s minds to ignore the tsunami that is so clearly visible. But then I think of our own overarching political situation and a bunch of misguided individuals at the elected and electing levels. And I think of a lot of world history. Lord Acton comes to mind. Power corrupts everything.

    • Leoghann says:

      The Soviet and the rest of the government of the USSR (as well as the people, since propaganda was all they heard) were the same way through the slow economic collapse of the late Seventies and early Eighties. Then, suddenly, there was no money. We know Putin is essentially incapable of admitting that he is wanting in ability or ever in error. And right now, he’s the only one in Russia that counts.

  7. TooLoose LeTruck says:

    In honor of dead Russian generals…

    He Was the Very Model of A Russian Major-General*

    He was the very model of a Russian Major-General,
    With knowledge biological, nuclear, and chemical,
    He knew the czars of Russia, great battles territorial
    Kulikovo to Stalingrad, so famous in memorial;

    A highly educated man, proud son of Mother Russia,
    Keen to take the fight abroad, if needed into Prussia,
    He’d studied all the theories and memorized the tactics,
    The ideal one to send to fight the Nazi drug fanatics;

    The battle started well that day until the Javelin struck,
    Blowing up the general’s tank and the general’s luck,
    And now he’s headed home in a mood quite funereal,
    He was the very model of a Russian Major-General.

    *with apologies to Gilbert and Sullivan

    I am horrified and furious at what the Ukrainians are suffering thru…

    I can even muster some sympathy for Russian conscripts who don’t want to be there…

    I feel ZERO pity for dead Russian generals.

    Sometimes when I see a video of a Russian helicopter being shot down, or a tank erupting in flames, I find myself cheering… and then I realize I just watched several human beings die a horrible, ugly death, too… and I feel sick to my stomach…

    But when a Russian general bites it? I’m fine w/ that…

    • Blueridgebill says:

      To paraphrase Lady Bracknell:
      “To lose one general may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose eight looks like carelessness…”

  8. StringOnAStick says:

    It’s instructive to look at how Russians have been taught a very different history of WWII than the one everyone else knows. They’ve been told for decades now that Russia alone took down the German Nazi regime and that the Holocaust refers to Russians being systematically murdered in the war, with the collaboration of the Jews. The word “Nazi” basically means “non Russians who oppose our holy state”, and the head of the Russian orthodox church is a willing supporter of this war.

    When you see how effective controlling what history Russians have been and are taught, it makes it more than a little chilling about the RW and Christianists attempts to do the same here. Home schooled kids from RW families believe a history as debased as current Russian citizens.

    • Ken Muldrew says:

      The Nazis had four times the number of divisions on the Eastern Front than on the Western. Most of WWII in Europe really was fought between the Germans and the Soviets.

        • Badger Robert says:

          Sacrificing a generation of fighting men is relevant to Rayne’s post, and it is a strange sort of winning. And it explains why by 1989 there was a large gap between Russia on the one hand, and the US, UK and France on the other.
          The Russians certainly were the primary target of the Nazi’s. But the divisions expended on Crete, North Africa and Sicily/Italy were critical missing modern forces that might have made the difference in the east.
          At any rate, it was the US and Britain that kept the sea routes open and produced the air offensive that crippled Nazi air power.
          The war ended 11 months after the allies invaded Normandy.
          The Russians would have been exhausted in some type of stalemate had the US, Britain and Canada not drained off Nazi resources.
          Finally, suffering does always demonstrate greater effort. In some cases it may demonstrate willful incompetence and disregard of human life,

        • Ewan says:

          Everybody knows one history in the US which is actually given in the introduction of lonely planet USA, and along the line of what you say. This is not the story Europeans know. Not the Brits, not the Germans, not the Poles, not the French. To all of them, the importance of the war effort of the Russian cannot be overstated. Yes, of course, the US part in the war is very important. But saying that the Russians were just on the winning side is very misleading.

      • Bobster33 says:

        You’re right. If you average the number of deaths in the USSR over the whole conflict, the USSR lost as many people every 3 weeks as the US lost in the entire war. The only country to lose more people than the USSR was China.

        Basically the allies defeated the axis using the American economy and the population of the USSR.

  9. DrFunguy says:

    Great post Rayne.
    Re. birth rates. I am reminded of the time, ca. 2007, when we were entertaining a Russian microbiologist. It’s a bit hazy, ’cause entertaining Russians takes adult beverages. We were getting along famously, but at some point, for some reason, I mentioned the negative birth rate of Russia, a bit subtly (my American friend didn’t pick it up). Vladimir’s face grew cloudy, he stood and rolled up his sleeves (I thought I might get punched!) then he sat down and challenged me to arm wrestling.
    I lost, quickly.
    This is relevant because it demonstrates that Russian intellengsia, fifteen years ago, were aware of and threatened (or at least embarrassed) by their low birth rate.
    They know where their country is heading, but do they have any notion how to make it better?
    I can say the same about the US at present. Its clearly headed toward some sort of authoritarian nightmare, likely theocratic. Can we make it better?

  10. gmoke says:

    I keep wondering why politicians and pundits aren’t constantly and loudly beating the drums about blunting Putin’s oil and gas weapons by speeding the transition away from fossil foolishness. It is rare if ever that I hear the word “climate” when the NatSec talking heads pontificate about the present Russian situation. Seems obvious to me but then I’m not a politician, pundit, or NatSec talking head (thank G*d).

    We have until July/August 2029 to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions to levels that will keep our global temperature rise below 1.5º C, according to one carbon budget counter. Seems that deadline should concentrate our thoughts to the sticking point but that’s just me.

    • Rayne says:

      I have a suspicion there are concerns Bonesaw would (continue to) target politicians who are aggressive about exiting oil.

      But all the more reason why the left needs to be loud, louder, LOUDEST about liberating the U.S. from foreign control by fossil fuel interests, and not to the benefit of U.S. fossil fuels which would remain vulnerable to the machinations of the international fossil fuel market.

  11. skua says:

    Looks like the lesson learnt by covid sequencing institutions from the travel bans imposed on South Africa when it discovered Omicron has been “I would stop sharing data in real time with the world, but would continue sharing with my government, to guide our own response.”.
    Which means than any future severe variant that can outcompete Omicron is much more likely to be spread globally before its severity is recognised.
    This possibility fits well with the title of this thread.
    Imperfect barriers to spread, like travel bans, lockdowns, masks, vaccinations and social distancing have saved a lot of lives, and could have saved more if more widely used/available.
    More publicly shared sequencing results and compensation/reward for countries which discover, announce and get travel banned, would seem a better way forward.

  12. mospeck says:

    Hot off the presses from WaPo:
    “In October, Austin .. first trip by a Biden administration Cabinet official to Ukraine, where he met with President Volodymyr Zelensky and declared that U.S. support for Ukrainian sovereignty was “unwavering.” .. putin took notice, responding with a warning that Ukraine’s military development .. “really poses a threat to Russia.”
    Two Els Lloyd said subtley that US does not pose threat to Russia. But lost in the tea leaves is maybe we do pose a problem for the four horseman: putin, gerisamov, putrashev and special minister with no clue, shoigu – those ones who said go – those brave guys sending off the young Russian joes into the shredder. Seems like advanced American weapons systems kill mainly only the young Russian joes. And now it’s clear vlad’s russia has no real advanced weapons systems, but does have a lot of young joes. Sure Uk snipers take out some generals and colonels.. but then it’s a lot like shooting ducks in a rain barrel. Why not just smoke the four horsemen who started all the festivities?
    Yesterday Obama said today is time for us to all just shake off that sense of “grimness.” (yea ok, hey im all in with that..sunny side. keep on the sunny side, always on the sunny side). And Sleepy Joe just said talk softly and carry a big Jav (repeating history, like TR). yea absolutely, stop the Russians. For ex my Russian bridge pals from Kharkiv say tks to our Spooks for that Turkish drone with the special software upgrade that killed moskva :) Subsequently, judging by the pictures of her captain having his it’s-my-party- and-I’ll-cry-if-I-want-to-and-everyone’s-got-to-come it sure looks like there’s 300 young sailors down there in the Davy Jones locker. Meanwhile vlad and his inner circle got their nemesis Navalny on the thorazine in solitary, but then Alexei, hey he’s got his own special on the CNN tomorrow night :) Spooks, could we please maybe get another special software package to fix things up? Right now looks like stormy weather Ethel Waters 1933 – except for that she’s maybe a bit too optimistic with that bop in the middle, like they had back in the thirties
    more modern and realistic

    • bmaz says:

      Nice. Swell to credit a Turkish drone for the specific intel that was almost certainly led by the US. Also to discount the Ukrainian Neptune cruise missiles. And if you think Russia does not have enough weapons to complete the job they appear to intend, you are sadly mistaken. The question is how this fracas proceeds, not whether east or west has enough weapons and capability. Despite all the popular lionization of heroics by the Ukrainians, and rightfully so, they are getting flattened and exterminated.

  13. Jan says:

    So refreshing to read a ‘big picture’ article, finally, and no surprise to find it here, once again.

  14. Spencer Dawkins says:

    Rayne, I always note the bylines, but your section 1 was especially insightful, at least to me.

    Thank you for including this topic in your post.

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