Rather than using social media as a notebook, it seemed better to establish a separate optionally accessible site: Signal to Noise. The benefit of a members-only site is it reduces trolling. The Belmont Club will remain open and free, as usual. To keep the length manageable, I will start a new notebook every week or so. Sign up here to become a VIP member.
Climate Change and Putin
How Net Zero eco-policies have handed Russia’s strongman the bargaining chip he needs to ransom Europe over Ukraine – and could lead to soaring prices in the UK
Fears grow that the Kremlin may restrict gas exports to Europe in the face of potential sanctions
White House seeks energy security plan for Europe amid Russia-Ukraine crisis
Biden admin working to avert energy shortage in Europe if Russia invades Ukraine
It’s like the sensation the detective felt when he realized the man he just released was Keyser Soze
The odds in Ukraine
Johnson warns of painful and violent Ukraine ‘lightning war’ with 60 Russian battle groups
Pentagon Puts 8,500 Troops on ‘High Alert’ Amid Ukraine Tensions. The move signals a shift for the Biden administration as the United States and NATO allies brace for possible Russian military action.
2014 war lessons suggest Russian army must win quickly or be worn down
I think Putin made the mistake of framing the Ukraine game as a 2 player competition between Biden and himself and underestimated the threat it posed to the regional status quo. He’s roused the neighborhood, who are not even taking their cues from Joe any more. The situation is now becoming increasingly unpredictable from entropy and the expected value of Putin’s gambit is extremely volatile. As the weather window closes he must show his hand one way or the other. Putin, unlike the first time, didn’t close out early enough. Gradually the pool of players grew, changing the payoff of the game and greatly complicating outcomes. It’s far riskier for Moscow now.
If I was Putin I’d declare victory and swagger off to the bar. But obviously I’m not him and we’re about to find out if he’ll go for it.
Will Putin invade Ukraine?
Russian amphibious megagroup departs Baltic, destination unknown
Biden predicts Russian invasion of Ukraine, but says ‘minor incursion’ may prompt discussion over consequences.
A Ukrainian official told CNN’s Matthew Chance that he is “shocked that the US President Biden would distinguish between incursion and invasion” and suggest that a minor incursion would not trigger sanctions but an invasion would.
“This gives the green light to Putin to enter Ukraine at his pleasure,” the official added.
The Ukrainian official said he’d never heard any nuance like this from the US administration before.
“Kyiv is stunned,” he added, referring to the Ukrainian government.
The road to recovery requires an end to self-deception about the assumptions, character and competence of the crew in Washington. Their performance is either that of the unluckiest men alive or the most clueless. I thought I could live in the “happily ever after” part of history. Still could if politicians don’t keep being batshit crazy.
Biden huddles with bipartisan senators over what to do now. The scale of buildup on 3 sides of Ukraine means it may not be a minor invasion. Also watch Taiwan.
If the West fails to meet its security demands, Moscow could take measures like placing nuclear missiles close to the U.S. coastline, Russian officials have hinted.
Ukraine Invasion Forecast Series. Institute for the Study of War. Taking Kiev, the prospect of prolonged resistance. Despite Biden’s mistakes, Putin is making the bigger one by starting what neither his manpower nor economy can sustain.
Russia moves troops to Belarus for joint exercises near Ukraine border. Move likely to stoke invasion fears as war games also planned near borders of Nato members Poland and Lithuania
The experts predicted the future, but nature had other ideas
Biden’s Operation Snail Speed on Covid Therapies. Less than 1% of $1.9 trillion in last March’s relief cash went for treatments.
Omicron is probably one of the last waves, but we don’t know for certain. Biden was sure and got caught flat footed. Joe grew up in the 20th century when gov’ts regulated a few simple phenomena and left the rest to God or Nature. Then as human activity extended to complex domains govt thought they could control that too. But their models couldn’t even predict it.
“Thank you, President Biden. Your administration has achieved herd immunity. Alas, it has nothing to do with your promise to “shut down the virus” or vaccinate all 330 million Americans.” We still have information, we still have relative probabilities, but no certitudes in an immensely complex world. You must take a chance, risk failure, exercise freedom — and that freaks a lot of people out. But — to use a current term — people want to be “safe”. They crave assurance that “if they follow the rules they won’t get sick”. But the harsh truth is that no human authority can promise that, though some alas, dishonestly do.
No longer to be addressed as His Royal Highness
Prince Andrew will no longer hold military affiliations and royal patronages, Buckingham Palace announces
Hillary vs Donald vs Joe in 2024
The internet has been in a frenzy over a potential Trump-Clinton 2024 rematch. Clinton sparked 2024 rumors with a slew of television interviews last month
The Republican National Committee says it will require candidates to pledge to not participate in debates run by the Commission on Presidential Debates.
Somehow the dream turned into a nightmare
If prices keep rising, a nightmare scenario for the US economy is a real possibility
“Are you sure the Stash is around here?”
“This is where they said it was.”
The hard question: can you bring sanctions to a gunfight in Ukraine? You have no choice if you are unwilling to risk bringing a gun to a gunfight. Putin now knows this. The problem is: what will he do with this information?
I think the lesson of Ukraine is diplomats should never occupy a position on a great power border they are ambivalent about defending: a soft power bridge too far. If you retreat, it’s humiliating. If you fight … well you don’t want to.
Squishy borders are dangerous, a fact often overlooked about the US southern border. Lines that are sometimes real and sometimes not are instruments of tragedy, not virtue. But tragedy can be turned into money or votes and that is why we have so much of it.
The attraction of the armband exists in the West, too
The Army of Millions Who Enforce China’s Zero-Covid Policy, at All Costs. Those who grew up watching movies featuring Nazi blockleiters and Soviet commissars must have wondered how they could recruit all these petty tyrants. But there would be millions in the West all too eager for the power of an armband. Napoleon supposedly said he could make men die for a bit of colored ribbon. Hitler and Stalin should have added they could make men sell out their mothers for petty authority. When the Sherman tank of reality arrives everyone with an armband says “I was only following orders”. Many forget to add: eagerly, for the high of bossing people around.
What is the civic difference between an illegal alien and a citizen?
California Would Expand Medicaid to People in U.S. Illegally Under Gavin Newsom Proposal
Windfall tax or fallen wind tax?
The main opposition Labour Party this weekend called on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to impose a windfall tax on companies pumping oil and gas from the North Sea to help consumers with skyrocketing fuel bills
Russian protection muscle, Chinese money
Beijing’s huge investments in the region increasingly rely on Russian protection. “China has invested tens of billions of dollars in Kazakhstan and the rest of Central Asia, much of it in the oil, gas and minerals sector, over the past decade. The region is crucial to Beijing’s global ambitions.”
Djokovic wins in center court
Novak Djokovic Can Remain in Australia, Judge Rules. The court ordered the government to release him from detention and restore a visa.
Spy vs Spy
Is A Battle For Power Raging Within Kazakhstan’s Government?
Everyone built out their own networks
How the Trump Social-Media Ban Paid Off for Trump, Platforms. One year after being kicked off Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, the former president is raking in campaign cash and planning his own social-media company
Kazakhstan unrest: Ex-intelligence chief arrested for treason… His arrest has sparked rumours of a power struggle in the Kazakh government, the BBC’s Carrie Davies in Moscow reports.
Could be used to track fugitives
DNA can now be pulled from the very air we breathe. It could help track endangered animals
“This isn’t about health anymore, it’s political.”
Vorocova’s detention comes amid the fallout from the cancellation of Djokovic’s visa and his removal to an immigration hotel on Thursday pending an appeal hearing after the weekend.
Covid was always political, the world over. It has consumed politicians, civil liberties, economies like some kind of Blob. Now it’s devouring tennis, but hey, who’s keeping score?
The Party vs the party. HK quarantines 100 celebrants.
Biden, in Shift, Prepares Americans to See Covid-19 as Part of Life. He may soon reluctantly admit that you can’t pay debts by borrowing more money. The fear of reality is the beginning of all wisdom.
Alliance to contain China
Australia, Japan sign defense pact as China concerns loom
Russia Sends Troops to Kazakhstan to Help Quell Uprising
Taliban Is ‘Closely Monitoring’ Unrest in Kazakhstan After Russia-led Intervention
First the ‘bat’, now the ‘mouse’
The strange, unknown origin of omicron
Now the Cameroon Covid variant
Don’t worry — yet — says WHO. But Pavlovian conditioning is now working for fear.
Nine-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic may not be able to defend his 2021 title after his visa to enter Australia was canceled following an outcry over his controversial “medical exemption” from the country’s coronavirus vaccination rules granted by the competition’s organizers.
The two front challenge
Taiwan, Ukraine simultaneously menaced but the target is Washington
Maybe the Putin call didn’t go well as Biden was not reassured
President Biden follows call with Putin by telling Ukraine that U.S. will act “decisively” if Russia invades
China’s terrifying ‘brain control weapons‘. Why am I reminded of a Bob Hope movie about zombies?
‘We can’t vaccinate the planet every six months,’ says Oxford vaccine scientist. But we can mandate it.
Climate Change means government changing the climate
NASA’s Retiring Top Scientist Says We Can Terraform Mars and Maybe Venus, Too
Why not the earth? What is the line between regulating the climate to 1.5 degrees and changing it?
Omicron ‘plainly milder’; new measures not needed, UK’s Johnson says. “Despite a huge surge in infections, Johnson has so far mainly resisted imposing new restrictions in England, which accounts for more than 80 percent of the UK population. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, which control their own rules, have imposed some new measures.”
A midnight eviction of some residents in the Chinese city of Xi’an who were later taken to quarantine facilities has sparked concern on social media. Xi’an is at the epicentre of China’s current Covid outbreak, and authorities have enacted drastic measures. All 13 million residents are confined to their homes and cannot leave to buy food or supplies.
Communism vs Covid as China doubles down on enforcing zero cases. In a cackling voice: “how can a mere bat defy the Mandarin?” But are you sure it was just a bat? Here we see the power of imagery. To old timers in the West the Cheka coming for you at night represents terror. To Communists it’s an inspiring memory.