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European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen warned late thursday that Europe had “the tools” to deal with Italy if things go in a “difficult direction”

I think this story is silly but it is making the rounds so here it is for what it is worth. China has steadily trimmed its holdings of US government debt this year and moved some bonds to offshore tax havens where they could be protected from any future sanctions, according to a report from Nikkei Asia. I will just note two things. It is small percentage of total holdings and if you where the Chinse would you really think that small Islands far from China and closer to the US where safe if the US decided to go after them? Plus, if US is trying to lock you out of its system, what good are dollars going to do you anyway?

“It is pretty devastating. The sad reality is the people who need information are unable to hear it. Their phones are not working, they don’t have power or access to the internet,” Houston said.

My latest study, published in The Lancet’s eClinicalMedicine journal, shows that our dreams can reveal a surprising amount of information about our brain health.

Why House Fly Barf Is an Overlooked Potential Vector of Disease

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Russia Mobilization Blues: Grumpy Old Men, Grumpy Old Tanks, Grumpy Ethnic Minorities

Putin Bets It All in Ukraine

Mostly noteworthy because it shows they have stopped fearing Russia. Kazakhstan Closes Trucking Loophole Which Allowed Russia To Dodge Sanctions

Poland Now Has Enough Natural Gas And Coal Supply For Winter

Statistical analysis aims to solve Greek volcano mystery

Early Puberty in Girls Surged in The Pandemic, And We May Finally Know Why

Oil Falls Below $80 As Powell Warns A Recession May Be Looming

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Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu later claimed Russia would mobilize 300,000 people, calling up only reservists with prior military service, specialist skills, and combat experience. However, the Kremlin redacted the section of Putin’s decree specifying the number of draftees, and the independent Novaya Gazeta Europe cited an unnamed Kremlin source as saying the true number is 1 million. Both those figures should be treated with caution.

Time to Dust Off the Old Nuclear War-Fighting Playbook?

Inflation is historically high in Turkey, but President Erdogan continues to defy economic wisdom as the country’s central bank slashed policy rates further.

One Million Puerto Ricans Still Without Power As Grid Crisis Persists

Shipping: liners swimming in money but supply chains sinking

PayPal Demonetises the Daily Sceptic

Initial Review Of Nexcess

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The Justice Department Was Dangerous Before Trump. It’s Out of Control Now

Existing home sales fall in August, and prices soften significantly

Profits Plummet And Vehicles Left Unfinished As Ford Struggles With Inflation

Fire ant rafts form because of the Cheerios effect, study concludes

Eritrea launches ‘full-scale offensive,’ say Tigrayan forces in Ethiopia

Chinese President Xi Jinping has ordered the country’s military to develop the ability to take control of Taiwan by 2027, according to CIA official David Cohen.

Thoughts on Putin’s Speech.

You can read a translation of Putin’s speech here. My thoughts along with excerpts are as follows…..

The speech starts out with some minor things. I found it funny that Putin felt obliged to tell a Russia audience that the Crimea was Russia proper when he said….

After the Kiev regime publicly refused to settle the issue of Donbass peacefully and went as far as to announce its ambition to possess nuclear weapons, it became clear that a new offensive in Donbass – there were two of them before – was inevitable, and that it would be inevitably followed by an attack on Russia’s Crimea, that is, on Russia.

Imagine as if Roosevelt felt obliged to remind Americans that an attack on Hawaii was an attack on the US. To me, this shows he is a little insecure about his own people thinking that the Crimea is worth dying for.

Another thing that caught my eye is that Putin basically admits the stories about the volunteer units being screwed over when it comes to money and equipment when he says…..

In this connection, I have already issued instructions for the Government and the Defence Ministry to determine the legal status of volunteers and personnel of the military units of the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics. It must be the same as the status of military professionals of the Russian army, including material, medical and social benefits. Special attention must be given to organising the supply of military and other equipment for volunteer units and Donbass people’s militia.

They must have been treated really badly for it to finally come to the big man’s attention.

But all those things are minor things. The big thing about this speech is that Putin has left himself with no choice but to keep all that he has and take the rest of the Donbass. After this speech it is hard to see how he can possibly survive the end of the war if he does not at least hold all the territories mentioned in this section….

I would like to emphasize that we will do everything necessary to create safe conditions for these referendums so that people can express their will. And we will support the choice of future made by the majority of people in the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics and the Zaporozhye and Kherson regions.

The part that I highlighted above is the real kicker. It use to be that some people dreamed of a negotiated peace between Putin and Ukraine. It was thought that if Ukraine would only give up Donetsk and Lugansk (which possibly would have voted to leave Ukraine in a fair election some time ago) that war could end and that would be better for everyone. But I think that only the insanely pro-Russian would believe that the region of Zaporozhye (where the City of Mariupol is located) and Kherson (where public demonstrations took place in the city against the Russians after they took it over) truly want to be part of Russia. Moreover, giving up those areas would give up so much of Ukraine’s coastline as to destroy their future as country. Only a fool would now believe that this war will end with anything other then the end of Ukraine as country or Putin as a leader (to be fair, it is possible that both of those things could yet happen as they are not mutually exclusive).

A few other minor points follow this such as….

Additionally, the Executive Order on partial mobilisation also stipulates additional measures for the fulfilment of the state defense order. The heads of defense industry enterprises will be directly responsible for attaining the goals of increasing the production of weapons and military equipment and using additional production facilities for this purpose. At the same time, the Government must address without any delay all aspects of material, resource and financial support for our defense enterprises.

Tact admission from the big guy that the Russian military is facing shortages. Not exactly a secret, but it is important to note for reasons that I will get into later.

Another minor thing is the section that all the media is making a big deal about.

They have even resorted to the nuclear blackmail. I am referring not only to the Western-encouraged shelling of the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant, which poses a threat of a nuclear disaster, but also to the statements made by some high-ranking representatives of the leading NATO countries on the possibility and admissibility of using weapons of mass destruction – nuclear weapons – against Russia.

I would like to remind those who make such statements regarding Russia that our country has different types of weapons as well, and some of them are more modern than the weapons NATO countries have. In the event of a threat to the territorial integrity of our country and to defend Russia and our people, we will certainly make use of all weapon systems available to us. This is not a bluff.

The above is what all the media hype is about. “Putin threatens the west with nuclear weapons” all the headlines scream. And as those who read my last post on the subject know, I am as worried about that as the next guy. But that is not what this speech is about. There is no actual threat to the west in this speech. Rather, it is about trying to drum up fear of the west and support for his war in his own people.

If he had intended to threaten the west in this speech, he would have laid out a red line. In other words, he would have said “you must do this by this time or I will do this.” But instead, he is just whining about various things the West is doing while promising no specifics on his part. And many of his claims about the west are things that he knows are as fake as his claim that America was lying when it said that Russia was going to invade Ukraine. He can hope to get his people to believe those claims but he can’t hope to use them to get the West to do anything. For these reasons, I think the time to get worried about Russia using “special weapons” is when it starts losing all hope of winning on the conventional battle field and I don’t think Putin is there yet. But that brings us to the question of how effective the 300,000 men the Putin called up will be…..

Given that Putin has staked his future on this war and left himself no wiggle room to end the war short of victory, one has to wonder if calling up 300,000 more men is enough to do this. A naïve way of looking at this is that Putin is going to more then double the amount of forces he has committed to this fight. After all, most sources say that Russia has about 200,000 troops in the country even after counting Russia-aligned separatists, members of private security companies, and ethnic “volunteers.” But this is not the correct way of looking at things.

Much of the Russian troops currently in Ukraine have been fighting hard and need a break or they will become useless. More over, Putin has basically admitted that the current forces are facing equipment and supply issues. How are they going to equip 300,000 more at the drop of a hat? Given how stupid the Russians have been, it would not surprise me if they throw a lot of guys straight into the fight to try to stop further losses of territory. Another problem is that all of Russia’s best troops have been true volunteers. How well are the new troops going to fight who will all have been compelled to fight? The history of the Russia-aligned separatists after they started getting drafted does not bode well for Russia.

All that said, this is the bare minimum that Russia needs to do if Putin is going to achieve his aims. If Russia does not lose to much territory this year and Russia manages to turn those 300,000 men into something that resembles an fighting force, it may enable Russia forces to hold out long enough for Ukraine’s support to start dropping off. But given what we have seen from Russia so far, that seems like a tall order for their level of competence.

Links For Today


Why didn’t Ukraine fall?

‘They won’t invade, will they?’ Fears rise in Russian city that Ukraine war could cross border

Moscow’s local allies were told ‘Russia is here for ever’. Now they flee Ukraine

German gas storage 90% full ahead of winter despite Russian cuts

Rhine Water Levels in Germany Approaching Normal Depths

Alzheimer’s deaths in aging Germany more than doubled since 2000

A Natural Gas Shortage Is Looming For The U.S.

Americans Drowning In Long-Term Credit Card Debt

Starship will be the biggest rocket ever. Are space scientists ready to take advantage of it?

What have we learned about Ukraine?

About two weeks ago, I wrote a post asking “What is up in Ukraine?” in which I tried to figure out how the war in Ukraine was going to go. It was a purely an intellectual exercise in trying to see how much truth I could gather through the fog of censorship and competing ideological blind spots. It seemed like a good place to try to exercise those skills before they became relevant in some issue closer to home. My tentative bet was that Ukraine had the advantage because Russia was holding the line in Kherson with airborne units that should have been in reserves. My logic was that if Ukraine managed to break through anywhere, it would be really bad for the Russians because they would have nothing to contain the break out with.

Needles to say, a lot has changed since then. The Ukrainians did force a massive break out and the Russians had nothing to stop them with in a timely manner. I can’t claim too much credit as I never would have guessed that Ukraine had the forces to pressure Russia in two locations. I was envisioning a grinding war attrition followed by a collapse of Russian forces in the Kherson region. I envisioned Russia holding Kherson itself due the defensible nature of the large urban area as well as their ability to support it with artillery safely a crossed the river.

So what have we learned and what can we see about the future? Granting all the same caveats in the first post, these are my thoughts on what we have learned that is beyond an honest person’s ability to dispute….. Continue reading