Antivaccine nonsense Medicine Science

Variability ≠ “We don’t know” how COVID vaccines work

A study that shows cell type-dependent variability of spike protein production by COVID-19 vaccines leads an antivaxxer to say how little we know about the vaccines.

It’s been a while since I’ve written about a basic science paper misinterpreted and/or misused by antivaxxers. It’s also been a while since I’ve encountered an antivax influencer or blogger with whom I was unfamiliar when first seeing their blather. So when I came across a post by someone going by the ‘nym of Joomi entitled, New study shows how little we know about how mRNA vaccines “work”—along with a blurb claiming that “Vastly different levels of spike protein depending on cell type”—I knew I had my topic for today. I have no idea who “Joomi” is other than this description from the Substack Let’s Be Clear:

I’m a biologist. My PhD research was in how the cell cycle connects to metabolism. I love science, but abhor Institutionalized Science. You can follow me on Twitter here.

So apparently this blogger’s name is Joomi Kim, if her Twitter profile is any indication and the photo is actually of “Joomi.” (These days, I take nothing for granted.) It does appear that Joomi Kim is whom we’re dealing with, as a quick Google search found an interview with her on a podcast about a Substack post by her comparing the disinformation leading up to the invasion of Iraq 20 years ago to the “information climate” around COVID-19 and the invasion or Ukraine as well as a list of publications over at ResearchGate. Unfortunately, Kim apparently got her PhD at Rutgers University, where I was faculty with The Cancer Institute of New Jersey before I switched jobs 15 years ago, which made me sad to learn, even though she was apparently in the Environmental Biophysics and Molecular Ecology Program, Department of Marine and Coastal Sciences at Rutgers. It didn’t take me long to find her article, published about a year ago, and, indeed, she did liken the disinformation campaign used by the Bush Administration about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq in the wake of 9/11 to justify the invasion to “nonstop COVID propaganda” during the pandemic, while asking;

How much can we trust the videos and images coming from Ukrainian officials? Are they any better than the anonymous sources, aka “US officials,” in the lead up to the Iraq War? What really happened in Bucha (see here and here)?

So, right away, perusing her Substack, listening to part of an interview with her, and seeing her painting messaging on COVID-19 and the Russian invasion of Ukraine as being very much like the Bush/Cheney disinformation campaign about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, I knew what I was dealing with.

Still, Kim states that she’s a biologist—although in a different post in which she lamented having been “deceived” about COVID vaccine safety and referencing antivax cranks Steve Kirsch, Jessica Rose, and Mathew Crawford, she says she “used to be a biologist”—and had done her PhD work “manipulating algae to make lipids for biodiesel,” after which she worked in tech for a while before joining a startup called Goodloops, which turns out to be a fly fishing company, at least if her ZoomInfo profile is any indication. I suppose it’s possible that this isn’t the same Joomi Kim, but she did mention having recently joined a startup called Goodloops in her interview, and the podcast is dated August 2022. Given that her profile now says she’s been with Goodloops for year, this information all seems to indicate that we’ve found our Joomi Kim, but, again, I take nothing for granted.

Whoever Kim is, I was actually rather surprised at her take on the study in question, an in vitro study in which the researchers tested the level of expression of spike protein (how much spike protein is made) in different cell lines in cell culture when they exposed to the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines, which are mRNA-based. I’ll start with her take as posted on her Substack, and then I’ll look at the study itself, which in which “two different cell types (Jurkat or K562) were given either the Comirnaty (Pfizer) or Spikevax (Moderna) vaccines.” Much to Kim’s amazement, the study found major variability in the expression of spike protein depending on the vaccine, noting:

We also see that cells that were given the Comirnaty vaccine showed a lot less spike expression compared to Spikevax.

And including this graph, showing that variability:

Variability in spike protein expression
Those are fairly impressive differences.

Here’s how the experiment was done. The cell lines were exposed to vaccine, incubated for 24 hours in the presence of the lipid nanoparticle/mRNA vaccines, after which the cells were harvested and subjected to flow cytometry to determine what percentage of the cells were expressing (making) spike protein. Where did the authors get the vaccines for their experiments? Simple. They used leftover discarded vaccine, basically what’s left in the multidose vial that doesn’t get used:

Three vaccination centers in Perugia (Italy) provided us with residual vaccines present in vials after administration. The vials were collected between September and December 2021, during the first cycle of vaccination (first/second dose). The content of four vials of each vaccine was pooled under sterile conditions and used within 1 h after administration of the last dose.

My first question was whether the variability was due to that, but then I remembered something, which, to her credit, Kim mentions, namely that the Moderna SpikeVax has way more mRNA in it than the Pfizer Comirnaty vaccine does:

This may not be that surprising given that Spikevax has a higher concentration of mRNA. In this study, 1 and 10 µL of both vaccines corresponded to 0.1 and 1 µg mRNA of the Comirnaty vaccine, and 0.2 and 2 µg mRNA of the Spikevax vaccine.

However, what is surprising is that in the Jurkat cells, there isn’t that much difference in spike expression between the cells that got 1µL and 10µL Comirnaty. Strange.

Being a biologist, Kim should also have been aware of lots of other factors that could account for this supposedly astonishing result. I thought of a few right off the bat. For instance, the lipid nanoparticle carriers used by Pfizer and Moderna might also have had different levels of efficiency in transfusing cells (binding to the cells and helping the mRNA get into them). The authors even mentioned these possibilities:

Differences in S-protein expression levels following vaccine treatment may be attributed to variations in the efficacy of lipid nanoparticles, differences in mRNA translation rates and/or loss of some lipid nanoparticles’ properties and mRNA integrity during transport, storage, or dilution, and may contribute to explaining the slight differences in the efficacy and safety observed between the Comirnaty and Spikevax vaccines.

Note: Slight differences in efficacy and safety between the two vaccines.

Nor is it particularly surprising that in one cell line there wasn’t much increase in expression at a ten-fold higher dose of vaccine. What easily could have accounted for would be a 1.0 µL dose already being close to the saturation point for the cells, so that adding more doesn’t result in a lot more mRNA getting into the cells. It is not at all uncommon for a dose-response curve for a drug to reach a plateau, and likely that was the case for the Jurkat cells. Moreover, the only thing measured was the percentage of cells positive for spike protein. They did not do any Western blots to examine overall protein levels after treatment. It is, of course, possible that the K562 cells might have been making a lot more spike protein in a lower percentage of cells.

Indeed, look at the higher dose, and you see a lot less variability in expression compared to the lower dose. While this could be due to variability in the vaccine batches used, more likely it is due to approaching that plateau at a lower dose of mRNA. The way to work that out, of course, would have been to do a more detailed dose-response curve that went down to lower doses, say 0.10 µL, or one-tenth the lowest dose used in this experiment. Seriously, this experiment is lacking in data points in its dose-response curves. Perhaps the authors couldn’t get enough vaccine to use, but, even so, the data presented here are pretty sketchy. Had I been reviewing the paper, I would have asked for at least a couple of more doses on the dose-response curves. I rather suspect that if the investigators had included a dose between 1 and 10 µL and maybe a dose lower than µL and higher than 10 µL, what we would have seen is a pretty conventional sigmoidal dose-response curve looking something like this representative curve that I got from Wikipedia:

Dose-response curve variability
Seriously, for the authors to conclude that response to vaccine was “dose-dependent only in the “dose-dependent only in Spikevax-treated cells” shows a rather interestingly lack of understanding of basic principles. Basically, if you start with a dose closer to the plateau, you will see less increase with more drug than if you start at a lower dose that is closer to where the curve first starts to take off. Unless the authors tested much lower doses (which, as far as I can tell, they did not, even as “data not shown”), they can’t make this conclusion.

Indeed, I facepalmed when I read this part of the discussion in the paper:

Notably, dose escalation of the Spikevax vaccine increases S-protein expression (Figure 1B (right panel) and Figure 2), whereas dose escalation of the Comirnaty vaccine does not (Figure 1B (left panel) and Figure 2).

Note that the authors have not demonstrated that at all, as they have done an utterly inadequate dose-response curve, with only two data points. Again, how do they know they didn’t start near the plateau of the dose-response curve. Answer: They don’t, because they didn’t test enough doses.

Kim seems to draw a much stronger conclusion than is warranted about the differences in expression between the two cell lines as. well, with treatment of the Jurkat cells resulting in about two- to three-fold more cells expressing spike protein than the K562 cell line. Again, it is not at all uncommon for different cell lines to have different levels of expression after introduction of DNA plasmid or mRNA sequence designed to drive expression of a gene.

She also makes a lot of the observation that two forms of spike are made, both the full-length spike, which is, as designed, embedded in the cell membrane, and truncated spike protein, which floats loose from the cell membrane in the supernatant media in which the cells are submerged. Surprise! There’s variability in how much soluble spike protein fragments each cell line makes after treatment with each vaccine:

If we focus on the bars that received 10µL of Spikevax (circled in red); this time, we see more spike associated with the K562 cells compared to the Jurkat cells (notice the difference in scales). This is the opposite of what we saw with spike that was attached to the surface of cells.

Remember what I said about the Western blot and how K562 might be making more spike in fewer cells? This rather suggests that I might have been correct. Still, this is a pretty bare-bones set of experiments, even as observational experiments, to justify all the handwaving in the discussion about what might be causing the differences, which include reasons alluded to above and others including differences and variability in:

  • Lipid nanoparticle composition
  • Cell line characteristics
  • mRNA dose
  • mRNA sequences surrounding the gene sequence for spike protein
  • Storage conditions under which the vaccines were stored
  • Dilution necessary to achieve the desired dose
  • Codon optimization strategies in the sequences of the two vaccines. Codon optimization involves which of the redundant three-nucleotide codes, or codons, are chosen to code for each amino acid in the protein, with different codons resulting in different efficiencies with which the protein is translated (made).

This paper claimed to “evaluate whether the S-protein expressed following treatment with the two vaccines differs in the real-world context.” However, testing just two cell lines, both of which are highly artificial compared to normal human cells, is hardly “real world context. Jurkat cells, for instance are an immortalized cell line—artificially altered so that they can divide indefinitely and never become senescent, or unable to divide anymore—human T lymphocyte cells originally established in the mid-1970s from the peripheral blood of a 14-year-old boy with T cell leukemia commonly used to study acute T cell leukemiaT cell signaling, and the expression of various chemokine receptors susceptible to viral entry, particularly HIV. In contrast, K562 cells were the first human immortalized myelogenous leukemia cell line to be established and were originally derived from a 53-year-old female chronic myelogenous leukemia patient in blast crisis, which is the phase of chronic myelogenous leukemia in which more than 30% of the cells in the blood or bone marrow are blast cells (immature blood cells). In other words, neither of these cell types are much like the normal muscle and lymphoid cells exposed to the vaccine that take up the mRNA for spike protein, and they are grown on Petri dishes in growth media in incubators, rather than existing in organs in living animals or humans. As such, using them to test how much spike protein the mRNA vaccines can induce cells to make is not how I would choose to test how the vaccines work to produce spike protein in the “real world.”

Far be it from me to disparage testing how well mRNA vaccines work to induce different cells to produce spike protein, but this is a shockingly bare bones effort: Only two cell lines, chosen apparently because they can be purchased from ATCC and represent T cell-derived cell lines, is wholly inadequate, as were the range of doses of vaccine chosen. I realize that perhaps the investigators were very limited in how much “real world” vaccine they could get their hands on, although by the time the study was carried out in late 2021 vaccine supplies were abundant in Europe. Even so, just two cell lines that don’t include any muscle cell lines? Only two doses per cell line? This paper reeks of leftover data that the authors tried to get published as what we in the biz call a “minimal publishable unit” (MPU), which is not a compliment. Also, don’t get me wrong. I’ve been very tempted to do some MPU papers myself, particularly now given that progress in the laboratory has been slow. I also hope, though, that if I do succumb to the temptation I won’t also be tempted to oversell my results as more important than they are, as these investigators did when they tried to suggest that they might explain differences in the likelihoods of each vaccines to cause myocarditis:

Notably, myocarditis following vaccination with mRNA-based vaccines affects young males much more frequently than other demographics [13,16,17,18]. In these subjects, Spikevax shows a higher frequency of myocarditis than Comirnaty, with increased risk ranging from 2.5 to 8 folds in different studies [16,17,18]. The higher mRNA dose of Spikevax compared to Comirnaty is believed to be the reason for the increased incidence of myocarditis. If the different in vitro S-protein expressions by Spikevax and Comirnaty vaccines reflect in vivo conditions, our results could contribute to explaining the disparity in myocarditis frequency.

That’s a huge “if” there, or, as I like to say, “if” is doing some very heavy lifting there.

But back to Joomi Kim, who also notes that a higher fraction of K562 cells die 24 hours after transduction with Spikevax (Moderna), specifically 3.7% of the Jurkat cells and 11.4% of the K562 cells, leading her to conclude:

So K562 cells seem to be more susceptible to vaccine toxicity compared to Jurkat cells.

Unfortunately, the controls used for this were not adequate. Specifically, the controls were untreated cells, which makes it impossible to tell if the differences were due to the lipid nanoparticles, the mRNA, or something else. At the very least, a lipid nanoparticle-only control without the mRNA in it should have been included if at all possible, although I realize that if you’re using commercially available vaccines you get the whole package. Also unmentioned is that even the untreated K562 cells had 2.2% dead cells after 24 hours compared to 0.8% of untreated Jurkat cells, which should have been mentioned. If you think of it this way, you’ll be less impressed. Spikevax increased cell death by 4.8-fold in Jurkat cells and by 5.3-fold in K562 cells, which is not a very impressive difference at all.

I could go on and on pointing about examples in which Kim is unduly impressed by these results, but let’s go on to see the conclusions she makes about the variability in this study:

The main point is this: we do not understand fundamental things about what happens after mRNA vaccines are injected into people.

For example, we saw that the Pfizer vaccine led to less spike protein expression, and yet there are studies that seem to show that the efficacy between Pfizer and Moderna are similar (example here). How could that be?

And what accounts for the differing levels of spike protein expression in the different cell lines?

Jurkat cells are T lymphocyte cells that were originally derived from a 14-year old boy with leukemia. K562 cells are bone marrow cells that were originally derived from a 53-year old female with leukemia. 

Do the levels of spike expression differ between these cell lines because they are from two different people, or because they are different cell types, or both? What would happen with heart or brain cells? How much spike would they express if they accidentally took up vaccine LNPs?

And why is it that we see more surface spike in one cell line, but more loose spike in the other? Is it because one of the cell lines express more enzymes that cleave the spike off the surface of cells?

Fucking magnets, how do they work?

Not to say that the questions above are not worthy of investigation, but that’s not what Kim seems to be doing here. Rather, she is JAQing off, handwaving, and incorrectly concluding that the variability in spike production between the two vaccines in two different cell lines has way more to say than it actually does about how the vaccines work and might produce different risks of myocarditis than it, in fact, does, which is actually very little to say.

Not that that stops Kim from concluding:

As usual, the more we learn about these vaccines, the more questions arise.

Maybe, but we also have copious data showing that the vaccines are very effective at preventing severe disease and are very safe. What Kim is doing is what antivaxxers always do: Take scientific observations (particularly rather uninteresting ones from lower quality publications reporting in vitro studies) and then using variability in the results to cast doubt on vaccine safety. That’s what science deniers do. They misunderstand, either unintentionally or sometimes intentionally, the role and significance of uncertainty and variability in scientific findings. Because they want certainty, variability and uncertainty frighten them and they turn that fear into doubt and do their best to make that doubt contagious by harping on what is not known rather than what is known.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

146 replies on “Variability ≠ “We don’t know” how COVID vaccines work”

I found a personal webpage ( for the Joomi Kim from Rutgers, identifying her as an “oceanographer turned data scientist” employed at Chatdesk as “Lead Data Scientist, Mar 2017 – Jan 2022” and listing the research projects she had worked on there, which are data related, all over the place in subject, and not connected to biology.

It says nothing about what she’s been doing since 1/22. I would guess the Zoominfo profile reference to the fly-fishing company (which seems to just be a business name for one fishing guide/instructor) was created by some automated process that got it’s wires crossed. (The fish biz is Good Loops, two separate words, though its url is There are other businesses with web-presences with similar names, but for one reason or another I doubt any of these are where Kim is now either.

Yeah, but her email on that profile has a email address. You are, however, correct. Who knows where she works now? I’m just bummed that she got her PhD from a university where I once taught.

As an aside, I don’t know if I can say I was Rutgers faculty or not, even though I taught there. At the time, I worked at The Cancer Institute of New Jersey, which was affiliated with UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, part of the UMDNJ system. After I left, the UMDNJ system was folded into Rutgers and the cancer institute renamed the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey. Technically I wasn’t Rutger’s faculty, of course, but UMDNJ doesn’t exist anymore, having been subsumed in to Rutgers, the main NJ state university.

OK, on her linkedin page there’s an icon for “Good Loops” that links to a stub linkedin page headed “Good Loops / A skunkworks lab and startup incubator / Technology, Information and Internet / 6 followers / 2 employees.” The other employee, identified there only as “Ryan B.” a software engineer “Building apps and services for pro-social media” appears to be Ryan Bennett, who studied computer science at Colorado State, and is otherwise as devoid of web presence as Ms. Kim.

In the political news of the day:

Now that Ron DeSantis has declared his candidacy for POTUS, he’s revealed what appears to be the central theme of his campaign, the policy distinction that differentiates him from Trump, and his basis for attacking Trump. Wanna guess what it is?

“I think [Trump] did great for three years, but when he turned the country over to Fauci in March of 2020, that destroyed millions of people’s lives.” He went on to claim that by virtue of his standing up to Fauci-puppet-Trump, the Florida economy is booming, “that 2020 year was not a good year for the country as a whole. It was a situation where Florida started to stand alone. So I think that that’s important contrast.”

In no doubt related action, the DeSantis lackeys who have taken over at The New College in Florida tapped Scott Atlas as commencement speaker.

Does DeSantis stop at blaming the lockdowns for destroying lives? Hmm, what else could he attack Trump for?

““The way they weaponized these COVID vaxxes was a massive incursion into our freedoms… They wanted to deny people the right to put food on their table if they didn’t bend the knee and get a COVID shot that they may not have wanted and that many of them did not need… We can never allow ‘Warp Speed’ to trump informed consent in this country ever again.”

Of course, he’s been prepping this line of attack against Trump for awhile, birthing a state law banning vaccine mandates for state employees, including public school workers; having Ladapo gin-up that fraudulent study result on myocarditis; and using that as an excuse to call for a grand jury investigation into COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers for potential wrongdoing.

And as if that depressing enough, a fair number of conservative pundits have opined that his COVID stances are his strength, and exactly how he should be trying to separate himself from Trump if he wants to wrest the nomination away from TFG, as said pundits (and the GOP big money) clearly hope he will.

Am I missing something? The Jurkat cells are lymphocyte origin; the K562 cells are marrow origin. The two vaccines are injected into muscle. It’s muscle cells that make the spike protein, which is then exposed to lymphocytes to elicit an immune response. In what way is this study relevant to how the two mRNA vaccines are actually used?

It does feel a little bit like “hey, we’ve got these cell lines lying around, and I know where we can get some vaccine, want to see what happens?” more than a really well-thought-out study.
(I’m currently swamped in K562s – they’re easy to grow. It’s been a long time since I used Jurkats, but I remember them being easy to work with too. Not like, HeLa easy, but easy.)

I’ve never worked with either cell line, but, yeah, that’s exactly how this paper comes across.

Yeah, Covid and Russian invasion on Ukraine are just like Iraq. FFS, had it been last year, I would have invited people like Kim to Poland, to work helping thousands of Ukrainian refugees who at that time were sleeping on the floor of sports halls because simply there was no place for them to stay. Nowadays it’s a bit better, some of them decided to come back, realizing that their part of Ukraine is probably not going to be invaded by the Russian forces anytime soon, some of them moved on to other EU countries and some of them integrated into Polish society but still – the war has a constant presence over here.

You are so very right. The Russian invasian of Ukraine is very real, just like the refugees. But well, those refugees don’t travel to the US, so it is easy to say it is just a false flag.
But well even in The Netherlands and Germany there are still parties, that consider NATO as the aggressor and Russia as just defending itself.

Unfortunately, there are plenty of right wingers here in the US pushing the Russian propaganda message that Ukraine is full of Nazis and that Russia is only “defending itself” against them (while reuniting people who are really Russian and should be part of Russia). There is also a fairy high correlation between pushing Russian propaganda and having antivax beliefs.

There seem to be some Russian groups fighting on the side of Ukraine and one of them has some neonazi roots.

Of course, you’re right as usual.
NN and prn are totally against assisting Ukraine. RFKjr is more careful as he may be trying to garner support from voters associated with the Democratic party.
Despite their position on Ukraine, their unrealistic ideas about vaccines makes anything else they say suspect.

I’m not a scientist, nor do I play one on TV. I don’t pretend to understand much about science, but what I do understand is writing fiction and the study talked about is a great writing prompt if you want to come up with some fiction about vaccines. Because really, all that the study is is a prompt. Look at this difference! Why does it exist? No one knows! (The answer being, ‘because we don’t have enough data’ is conveniently left out.)

And then someone looking to write fiction comes up with an explanation for the difference that goes far beyond anything the study actually shows, coming up with a reason that fits the story they want to tell. Even better, the story gets to be ‘based on a true story’, making it seem closer and more dire to the reader. Feels kind of the same as how the majority of popular creepy pastas are written in the first person to make them feel more intimate and therefore more believable.

Russian attack on Ukraine

I agree that Russia’s attack on the Ukraine is both types of war crimes, namely, attacking when not attacked and targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure and nothing justifies this; however, the US set the stage.

When Gorbachev met with Reagan he was promised, not once; but six times that NATO would not move East. NATO was created as a counter to the WARSAW PACT which no longer existed. With the fall of the Soviet Union, all of the Republics became independent, some became democracies, some dictatorships. A main problem was that various goods were supplied in the Soviet Union by the various republics. Imagine the US breaking apart into separate nations and imagine that one State produced penicillin, another batteries, another . . . and during the turmoil of the breakup, supply lines ceased to function. Western European nations and US promised to help Russia during transition; but US reneged. Next couple of years saw over one million Russians starve to death and many more suffering. Many turned to alcohol. Eventually Putin came to power.

National Security Archive (2017 Dec 12). NATO Expansion: What Gorbachev Heard: Declassified documents show security assurances against NATO expansion to Soviet leaders from Baker, Bush, Genscher, Kohl, Gates, Mitterrand, Thatcher, Hurd, Major, and Woerner

So, why did US renege? Simple. If Russia, using Western European nations; e.g., Germany, as role models succeeded, it would have remained a super power, though peaceful one and US wanted and still wants hegemony.

In 2014 the CIA undermined a free election in Ukraine which resulted in wanting closer ties with Russia. And, though far from majority, Ukraine still has many Nazis, despite what Orac believes. And actually Zelensky isn’t as “clean” as currently portrayed.

So, despite the above, Russia’s attack on the Ukraine is clearly both types of war crimes; but the US position is hypocritical given our history. One of the worst war crimes since WWII was the Vietnam War. PBS has an excellent documentary “The Movement and the Madman” and even as a Jew who hates Nazi Germany with every fiber of my being, the US was guilty of horrible war crimes. We fire bombed German cities, not targeting the military, resulting in over one million civilian death and many more severely injured. Even more, anyone who know history, Hitler NEVER got the majority of votes and Germany was already in full retreat from the Soviet Army.

There is also an excellent Swedish documentary entitled: Att Skapa en Putin (creating a Putin). I e-mailed them requesting English subtitles; but so far nada; however, there are free online websites that translate Swedish to English. I am fluent at Swedish and it was Swedish friend who told me about documentary.

I should also point out that the US has overthrown more democracies and supported more brutal dictatorships than any other nation since World War II. In 1953 CIA engineered overthrow of democracy in Iran. CIA assassinated Patrice Lumumba in Congo, etc.

And Zelensky is corrupt and antidemocracy and guilty of war crimes; e.g., slaughtering 10,000 civilians in Donbas

Luke Harding, Elena Loginova and Aubrey Belford (2021 Oct 2). Revealed: ‘anti-oligarch’ Ukrainian president’s offshore connections: Volodymyr Zelenskiy has railed against politicians hiding wealth offshore but failed to disclose links to BVI firm. The Guardian.

Elena Loginova (2021 Oct 3). Pandora Papers Reveal Offshore
Holdings of Ukrainian President and his Inner Circle.

Note. I have a bunch of papers on all of the above.

You may be right, but the former countries that were part of the USSR and other countries, belonging to the Warsaw Pact, choose voluntary to be members of the NATO, basicly because they didn’t trust the Russians, based on their experiences in the past. (Hungary in 1956, Czechoslovakia in 1968, and the deportation of people opposing the USSR in the Baltic States.) Ukraine shows they were right. Ukraine gave up it’s nuclear weapons and Russia promised to respect their borders, which they didn’t.
Yes, the USA has done bad things as well, but two wrongs doesn’t make one right.

@ Renata

Why did the choose to “voluntarily” join NATO? Subsidies from US maybe? And why did NATO even continue to exist since it was created as counter to the non-existent Warsaw Pact? And, as I explained, the US intentionally allowed Russia to suffer immensely, reneging on promise to help transition.

I can give list of books that document US long history of undermining democracies and supporting brutal dictatorships and also enormous war crimes. Even 2003 Iraq War. Not only was there NO evidence that Iraq was involved in 9/11, so war of aggression; but we targeted hospitals, power plants, water treatment plants, etc. leading to mass suffering and ISIS. Yep, US is responsible for ISIS; but also Al Qaeda, Taliban, etc.

I am an old man; but sometime in the future, seeing the deterioration of US economy. etc the US will be seen by entire world and many Americans as one of the most evil nations ever. For instance. we have 5% of world’s population, ca 25% of prisoners with conservatively estimated that ca 20,000 totally innocent and a criminal injustice system that bends over backwards to not overturn convictions and when found that DA and/or police fabricated evidence, suborned perjury, or withheld esculpatory evidence, they don’t go to prison and Supreme Court ruled couldn’t even sue New Orleans DA, though over 10 innocent people based on aforementioned sentenced to death. We also have qualified immunity, basically even if cop shoots unarmed person dead, nothing happens to them. And only nation with a for-profit prison system

And we are major contributors to global warming and fossil fuels kills over 100,000 American per year from toxins, etc.

And we are NOT a democracy: Electoral College, Gerrymandering, Voter Suppression and thanks to Supreme Court, masses of money poured into campaigns.

And our law enforcement, etc. targets leftists far more than right wing terror groups, despite a few recent convictions and it is right wing extremist who are responsible for majority of current and past decades acts.

Unfortunately, the World on the whole has moved towards neo-fascism. Sweden’s current government is a coalition between a neo-Nazi group (its founder literally had portraits of Hitler and Swastica flags on his walls in his house) representing 23% of Swedish population and extremely conservative other party, etc. Israel is another example, never a good nation; but now extreme right. And being anti-zionism is NOT anti-semitism.

Well US democracy may not be perfect, but it is defenitly far better than the Russian democracy. Is there such a thing as a perfect democracy?
The Warsaw Pact did exist, and Russia defenitly seems to be a treat to surrounding countries. The invasion of Ukraine is not a first. Look at Moldavia, or Georgia (not the US state).
I’m not blind for what the US might have done in the past and still is doing, but I’m still glad we are freed by the US and Canada and not by the Russians.

The NATO might have promised not to move east, but the former part of the Warsaw Pact didn’t trust Russia and wanted to join NATO, to be protected from their neighbour, which has shown to be dangerous in the past. And looking at the current events they were right.

And yes, perhaps the west should have helped Russia in transforming to a democracy. But mistakes of the past are no reason to sacrifice Ukraine.

@ Renate

You write: “And yes, perhaps the west should have helped Russia in transforming to a democracy. But mistakes of the past are no reason to sacrifice Ukraine.”

I made it clear several times that the attack on Ukraine is both types of war crimes. Just how stupid are you?

You write: “The NATO might have promised not to move east, but the former part of the Warsaw Pact didn’t trust Russia and wanted to join NATO, to be protected from their neighbour, which has shown to be dangerous in the past. And looking at the current events they were right.”

Again, you ignore that if we had help Russia when it needed help, instead of allowing over one million to starve to death, etc. Putin would NEVER have come to power. Don’t you understand English.

And the expansion of NATO was encouraged by US, including masses of financial support to the various nations.

You write: “Well US democracy may not be perfect, but it is defenitly far better than the Russian democracy”

Who claimed that Russia is currently a democracy? Not me. It may have “elections” but Putin decides who is on the ballot.

And you ignore that, yep, Russian invasion of Ukraine and Georgia are war crimes; but compared to US, overthrowing numerous democracies, supporting ruthless dictatorships, and, of course one of the worst recent war crimes, Iraq, Russia is an amateur.

Have you heard of the My Lai massacre where a company of American troops in Vietnam entered a defenseless village, raped the women then slaughtered between 300 and 500 defenseless people, including children and babies? Polls in US found about 70% believed true; but same polls found about 70% of Americans didn’t want the soldiers punished. So, a war crime for many Americans is only if someone else does it.

I find the current Russian government contemptible; but I feel the same about much of American government. Maybe you agree with Republicans concerning women’s rights, lowering taxes on corporations and super wealthy and reducing health care to poor Americans and other subsidies?

It is a waste of time exchanging comments with someone as dense as you.

@Joel Harrison. I would like to see that that “massive financial support” for joining NATO. Actually, joining cost money. You must rise defense spending..

I have a bunch of papers on all of the above

It would be interesting to see them.

Despite your comments, it is foolish to expect later government leaders to be bound by “promises made” by previous leaders, especially one as disgusting and dishonest as reagan.

If we had kept our word, Putin would NEVER have come to power.

Bullshit. It might have decreased the probability of his rise, but that’s it: changing one data point in time will create unpredictable results: Russia could have turned out better, it could have turned out worse, or the same as it is now, but that’s all that can be said.

@Joel Harrison European countries joined NATO at their own will. Do you think it is right that US and Soviet Union decide foreign policy of independent nations over their heads ? And indeed, none of promises you mentioned were put in writing.
I can speak for experience: one joins NATO to protect yourself from Rf itaus ocussian aggression NATO is stiill needed because of it,
Read some history. Russia and Soviet Union have attacked quite many countries, too (more than US, actually). It is called Russian idea. Putin just resurrected it.
Ukraine actually did have nuclear weapons after breakup of Soviet Ubion. It gave them up, and Russia promised to give up Sevastopol base. This is in writing, too.
Btw million Russian starved to death, There is FAO’s take:,products.%20Russian%20dietary%20energy%20supply%20in%20international%20comparison
“The depth of hunger in the Russian Federation also seems to be relatively mild compared to developing countries. The depth of hunger is measured by taking the difference between a country-specific minimum energy requirement and the dietary energy supply of individuals suffering from food inadequacy expressed in kilocalories per person per day. The higher the number, the deeper is hunger (FAO, 2000c, p. 2). The depth of hunger in the Russian Federation is more than that of developed countries. For example, hunger depth in the country was calculated at 170 calories, while that in the UK, Germany, France and Japan, for example, was 130 calories. But the Russian deficit is quite a bit lower than that for such developing countries as Bangladesh (340 kcal), Thailand (260 kcal), Iraq (210 kcal) and Somalia (490 kcal). The Russian deficit is similar to such countries as Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon and Costa Rica, which are also middle-income countries.”

@ Aarno Syvänen

You write: “There were lots of bombing during wwii, and Germany started it”

So, two war crimes don’t make a right. Did you know that the one charge not included against Germany at Nuremberg was bombings of Rotterdam, Warsaw, etc. civilians, though clearly war crimes. Why? Because they would have thrown it back at us. And, as a Jew, I hate the Nazis with every fiber of my being. Hitler NEVER received majority of votes; but even if he did, killing defenseless old people, women, and children is wrong. Defeating Nazis and punishing them was great; but, actually, even the Einsatz Group, volunteers who went into areas of East Europe and raped and killed Jews and others, the worse of war criminals on the whole weren’t punished. Several thousand were arrested by US, four or five hanged, handful given prison sentences; but all released by 1954. Watch Netflix EINSATZGRUPPEN. So, the absolute worst of war criminals weren’t punished by us; but allowed to return home, many became West German police, mayors, etc.

As opposed to you, I value all innocent human life, regardless of nationality, race, religion, etc. Killing defenseless Germans, killing Iraqis, etc. all horrible crimes. As a Jew I am disgusted by Zionism, a form of Nazism, including ethnic cleansing. I have one set of values, only one.

What type of cold ASSHOLE are you???

If you speak about international law, Germany cannot call bombing war crime, because Germany started it. Did you notice that ?

@ Aarno:

Joel’s overall take here may be bonkers, but he’s got you on this point. “Germany started it” is not a defense for war crimes. The fire-bombing of Dresden was pure vengeance (driven by the Brits, not the US) directed at civilian targets with no military value in the waning stages of the war. It did not shorten the war, it just slaughtered huge numbers of non-combatants and turned the priceless historical heritage of the city into cinders.

Ditto the firebombing of Tokyo and other Japanese cities, which were entirely us; that is, even before the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

We don’t attack civilians. Men in my task force died so that civilians wouldn’t. We went to extreme ends to avoid civilian injuries/deaths and undue damage to non-military infrastructure. Just get that straight, please.

@ Renata

You write: “You may be right, but the former countries that were part of the USSR and other countries, belonging to the Warsaw Pact, choose voluntary to be members of the NATO, basicly because they didn’t trust the Russians, based on their experiences in the past. (Hungary in 1956, Czechoslovakia in 1968, and the deportation of people opposing the USSR in the Baltic States.)”

You ignore that the US promised six times that NATO would NOT move East. You ignore that the US sabotaged Gorbachev’s efforts to create a democracy and modern state. You ignore that US has long history of invading nations, so, Soviet Union not alone. And you ignore that all you wrote were actions of Soviet Union, basically a dictatorship. And you ignore that US encouraged expansion of NATO in order for world hegemony, etc.

So, pick your poison. The United States is an evil nation, racist, mass incarceration, police brutality, undemocratic, overthrowing democracies, supporting brutal dictatorships, recent creation of Al Qaeda, Taliban, and ISIS, etc. etc. And you ignore that Zelensky is corrupt, that he murdered over 10,000 people in Donbas and that CIA sabotaged 2014 Ukrainian elections


Your list of US misdeeds left out our history of supporting fascism in Latin America, most notably staging the coup that toppled Allende and installed Pinochet. I could add quite a few more, too. Yeah, we suck a lot, but we also do good sometimes. Like I always say about the pharmas, big institutions are rarely just one thing, and you can’t toss out the baby (e. g. vaccines) with the bathwater (Sacklers, Shkreli, et al).

Sometimes, sadly, it does come down to what appears to be the lesser of two evils, but it’s more of a question of institutions that encompass moral tensions being preferable to those that don’t. I see no good whatsoever in Putinism, whereas at least until Trumpism triumphs the US carries forth important enlightenment principles which have not been erased no matter how often our spooks have violated them. Similarly, whatever faults Zelenskyy may exemplify in Ukraine, there’s some noble impulses to build on.

More specifically, the idea that promises made to Gorby must be honored to Putin no matter what evils his regime perpetrates is STUPID!

@ Sadmar

You write: “More specifically, the idea that promises made to Gorby must be honored to Putin no matter what evils his regime perpetrates is STUPID!”

You missed the point that we didn’t honor our promises to Gorbachev and allowed over one million Russians to starve to death and many more to suffer. If we had kept our word, Putin would NEVER have come to power. And as I wrote, I totally agree that Putin’s war on the Ukraine, regardless of many flaws in Ukraine, represent both types of war crimes, aggression, not defense, and targeting civilians.

But, as I wrote, the US set the stage, including allowing Russians to starve, etc., moving NATO east, sabotaging 2014 elections in Ukraine, and trying to add Ukraine to NATO. We created the circumstances that led to Putin’s war crimes.

If we are talking about starvation, think about the holomodor. This war is not the first time Ukrainian people were killed by Russians.

And in 2014 the people of Ukraine went on the streets, to protest agains a corrupt pro-Russian government.
We have seen in Belarus how pro-Russian governments try to stay in power.

@Joel Harrison None of promises to Gorbatchov were in writing. Besides of that an independent country can decide their own foreign policy including their military alliance
Of course million Russians did not starve to death. There is FAO again:,climates%20%28Table%205%29.%20Comparison%20with%20other%20transition%20economies
Go to figure 5. Non food use indeed collapsed.

Due to the Chile incident, my Chilean husband mostly agrees with Joel on these matters, basically that US foreign policy is so full of hypocrisy and royal screwups that there is no reason to believe whatever side of the story favors the US on such things. In fact, my husband follows podcasts arguing that this new East-West conflict is about dominance of the international oil market.

If only politics were science. Thing is, it always has been a mess, at best a work in progress and at worst people just repeating the same mistakes every century or so. It may slowly kind of get less bad over time, but always taking steps back.

If the US has anything going for it to deserve its less bad reputation, it (1) has perhaps the longest standing unbroken tradition of at least half-heartedly trying to let some of its people have a say in things (in spite of its ongoing internal conflict over who should and shouldn’t have a say, which at one point in the wake of the Industrial Revolution got brutally violent), and (2) as you point out, the US can admit wrong and eventually try to correct it, as it did in the case of Chile after Pinocchio (as they called him here) ordered a hit on one of his political enemies in the US President’s back yard. He was mainly tolerated as being an alternative to another Cuba, and then he went full Russia in terms of intolerance of political opposition. Authoritarianism is much the same on either side of the political spectrum. And yet, there are Chileans who defend the SOB and his 3000 hits on political enemies to this day, growing in political power lately too…same BS everywhere. (Except Chilean right wingers are overwhelmingly pro-covid-vax. That particular madness didn’t catch on much here.)

War never seems to have good guys. And politics will probably always be a mess. I just reassure myself that we’ve managed in spite of everything not to do ourselves in completely yet. And the husband, kid, and I all get our shots. Because we distrust viruses more than politicians, whatever our opinions are regarding Cold War II or whatever we might call it.

@Joel A. Harrison, PhD, MPH
Are you perhaps familiar with the concept of “homo sovieticus”? The general problem with Russia is that it has absolutely no tradition of democratic rule and a very long tradition of being ruled by despots. Which we in Central Europe are all very familiar with. And really, joining the NATO and the EU was in our case an act of self-defense.
And really, Russia’s acts of aggression on its neighbours did not start with Ukraine. Think about Georgia.

@ Alia

You ignore that we sabotaged 2014 elections in Ukraine that elected a Russia friendly government and everything else I wrote. As for Georgia, you ignore that the US was building close political ties with them, another example of surrounding Russia

As opposed to many, I think Russia is horrendous; but also the United States, going back to colonial times

The US is not perfect, but defenitly far to be prefered to Russia.

Pro russians lost Ukraine 1914 because Russia has annexd Crimea. Only a Russian would vote a pro russian party afer ha

It’s interesting that you don’t frame it as Georgia building strong ties with the USA, another example of a weaker country with much stronger neighbors. You seem to see Russia’s ex-colonies desire to limit Russia influence, through a USA-Russia lens.
The USA should try and limit their meddling in other countries affairs’, and let them make their own decisions – including whether they become part of the EU, NATO etc.

@ Alia

You write: “The general problem with Russia is that it has absolutely no tradition of democratic rule and a very long tradition of being ruled by despots”

Actually you should read Wikipedia. Government reforms of Alexander II of Russia. He wasn’t a despot.

And have you ever heard of Alexander Kerensky or Wikipedia. Russian Provisional Government? An elected government

And, actually several other Tsars attempted reforms.

I just love commenters who approach things in absolute extremes of black and white

@ Aarno Syvänen

You miss the point. I didn’t claim Russia had strong periods of democracy, just that it had some short-lived attempts as opposed to Alia’s absolutist denying any at all. Try actually reading what people write!

@Joel A. Harrison

It’s very easy for you to play a role of an objective, uninvolved observer when you live thousands of miles from where the war is going on. I’ve been living for years in the shadow of Russia, worried about Yanayev’s coup, breathed in relief when Yeltsin won the 1996 elections (we all know how it ended later but at that time it was a true relief). It. Is. My. Life.

It is pretty telling there are very few people wanting to flee to Russia, as opposed to the US.

Poland has a lot of bad experiences with Russia, just like most other neighbours of Russia.

@ Alia

You don’t like living next to Russia, well many Cubans don’t like being so close to US.

I am NOT a fan of Russia and no one can say for sure how Russia would have developed; but anyone with an open mind understands that US sabotaged any hopes it might have developed in a positive way. And, as I’ve written over and over, the US has overthrown more democracies and supported more brutal dictatorships that any other nation by far.

You do realize that the US does not control NATO? So any promises the US made about NATO were not for the US to make. NATO is many countries, all having a voice. NATO does not bow to the US or nor does it have to uphold US promises, as it is not a U.S. organization, but a multinational one.

@Jol Harrison Zelensky murdered 10000 in Donbass ? Where you got that ? From Russian state media ?
Pro russian party lost Ukraine election 2014 because Russia has annexed Crimea. Quite obvious, I would say,

@ Aarno Syvänen




but anyone with an open mind understands that US sabotaged any hopes it might have developed in a positive way.

And again, bullshit.

“The United States is an evil nation, racist, mass incarceration, police brutality, undemocratic, overthrowing democracies, supporting brutal dictatorships, recent creation of Al Qaeda, Taliban, and ISIS, etc. etc. And you ignore that Zelensky is corrupt, that he murdered over 10,000 people in Donbas and that CIA sabotaged 2014 Ukrainian elections”

Well…that’s one take, I guess.

@ Alia

I suggest you read the Wikipedia article: Georgia–Russia relations

It shows that the relationship between Georgia and Russia are not straightforward, including times when Russia recognized one Georgian government which was contested and that different areas of Georgia have different histories with Russia, etc.

And I want to emphasize that the US relationship with Cuba has been horrible. Almost the entire world trades with Cuba and condemns are boycott, etc. And just before John F Kennedy was assassinated he had a representative in Cuba negotiating to normalize relationships, etc.

Netflix has a fascinating series entitled: The Cuba Libre Story. And when Fillipinos were fighting for independence against Spain in late 1890s. US intervened, killing over 200,000 Filipinos, mainly defenseless civilians, in order to have a colony.

The representative from Kennedy who was negotiating with Castro to renormalize diplomatic relations was French journalist Jean Daniel. When they heard the news from Dallas, Castro said this is a very bad thing, and then shortly afterwards gave a long speech (in public) pointing out that Oswald seemed like an intelligence agency provocateur, not an authentic leftist (the “fair play for Cuba” fake group in New Orleans). One of several motives for his extrajudicial removal from office.

Mark Twain was one of the few US citizens to loudly criticize the US war on the Philippines.

Martin Luther King said the US was the “greatest purveyor of violence” in the world, but he didn’t say we are the ONLY one. He also denounced the Soviet invasion of Hungary in 1956.

Putin came to power after having the FSB (KGB) wage false flag terror attacks on apartment buildings in Moscow and another city that were blamed on Chechens, used to trigger a new war on Chechnya. One of the whistleblowers of that crime was Alexander Litvinenko, a FSB officer who fled to England and was later poisoned with polonium.

I’m not a supporter of NATO or Warsaw Pact or Five Eyes or Shanghai Cooperation. But my views don’t matter. The various new members of NATO since 1991 all have unpleasant history with Russian domination and that was the main reason they wanted in, not bribes from the US State Department (although there probably were many of those). Since Feb. 24, 2022 attitudes in Sweden and Finland toward NATO membership flipped from mostly against to mostly for. Putin, not Victoria Nuland, was the chief persuader …

@ Mark Robinowitz

Yep, Mark Twain and also John Dewey against US in Philippines.

And, yep, Sweden and Finland joining NATO and, given current actions by Putin, probably OK; but as I pointed out, Putin should not have come to power and the expansion of NATO has played a role in his current actions.

And, Martin Luther King is one of my all-time heroes. I think we should build monument to him in Washington like Lincoln Memorial, etc.

There is a MLK memorial in DC, very close to the Lincoln Memorial. A statue and selected excerpts from speeches (including mention of his opposition to the war on Vietnam).

Looting of Russia under Yeltsin probably had more to do with the rise of Putin to the Presidency than anything NATO did, according to my friend who emigrated from Russia at the end of the USSR. He had an advanced history degree from one of their fancy universities (but that’s not a guarantee he was right). If Kennedy and Krushchev had managed to implement their new policy to end the Cold War it’s likely there would not have been Brezhnev nor Putin. JFK’s Sept. 20, 1963 speech to the UN calling for detente and a cooperative Moon race is recommended as an introduction to that (aborted) period in world history. JFK also ordered the start of withdrawal from Vietnam (National Security Action Memorandum 263). What would the world have been without US war on Vietnam with its lingering social traumas here? What would US political culture have been without Nixon, Raygun, Bushes, Trump, etc.

Putin’s destruction of Chechnya, Syria, etc. persuaded several Eastern European countries to join NATO. More compelling than anything from Foggy Bottom.

Putin’s regime grossly undercounted Covid deaths. Official toll about 400k. The Economist estimates 1.2 to 1.5 million when excess deaths are included. Roughly the same death toll as US but with less than half the population. The US excess death toll of 1.3 to 1.4 million is about the level of all US citizens killed in wars from 1776 to the present (on the US side).

I hope some day we see the wisdom of looking at humanity as a Mobius strip – the illusion of sides. We’re all on the same side on Spaceship Earth.

Interesting thing. you defend all foreign interventions made by Russia, and none by US. Explain the difference

@ Renate

You write: “It is pretty telling there are very few people wanting to flee to Russia, as opposed to the US.”

I NEVER claimed Russia was a great place to live. But people coming to US often have little choice; e.g., gangs and death squads in Central America, etc. However, many people moving to France, Germany, UK, Sweden, Australia, etc. People from Middle East and Africa mainly moving to European nations. And, if I were younger, I would move to New Zealand. And, actually Russian speaking people in Ukraine have been moving to Russia.

Maybe living in US, lesser of two evils; but still evil. I’ve already written about mass imprisonment, violent police, voter suppression, courts and Republican states against women’s rights, and we have a large number of right wing heavily armed terrorist groups. US has highest per capita murder rate by far among top 20 advanced democracies, highest mass murder rate, highest police killings of unarmed people, and only democracy with death penalty, etc.

So, I would certainly not want to live in Russia; but hate living in US.

You just keep trying to defend the US

@Joel A. Harrison
Where have I defended the US? I know very well how many problems you have and I would definitely not want to live there. What I’m defending is the right of Central European countries to have joined the EU and the NATO – as well as their reasons to be distrustful of Russia.

Joel was addressing a Western European (Dutch) commenter in that post, not you or other Central Europeans. And he has also admitted that Russia has acted as a bully here; he just mostly blames US foreign policies in the 80s and 90s for it, a point others here have disputed since there were multiple factors involved in the transition from Communism to neofascism and the rebirth of Russian imperialism. Joel seems to follow a long tradition on the US intellectual left of being harshly critical of the US’s failure to live up to its own stated ideals both domestically and especially internationally. With the exception of the McCarthy era and people belonging to ethnicities/nationalities that the US has had recent conflict with, the US allows such discourse among its citizens and residents, which I suppose is something it has going for it.

@ Alia

” Dmitry Peskov restated Moscow’s demands, that Ukraine should agree to change its constitution to enshrine neutrality, accept that the Crimea was Russian territory, and recognize Donetsk and Luhansk as independent states; he claimed that Russia was ready to halt military operations “in a moment” if Kyiv agreed to these condition”

So, several times Russia has agreed to immediately halt all military operations if Ukraine becomes neutral, etc.

And fascinating how Europe continues to purchase natural gas from Russia, thus, providing funding for its military.

As for joining EU, I have NO problem with that; but NOT NATO. In fact, not only expansion of NATO to ensure US hegemony; but actually NATO was used in Afghanistan with US in lead, so NATO not just focused on Russia; but used by US for other military operations.

And I don’t like the Taliban; but Afghanistan had a home-grown communist government in 1980, at first rather brutal; but changed, built schools for girls, rural health clinics, and Soviet Union built dams, electric power plants, etc. US saw chance to create a Vietnam for Soviet Union and supplied money and arms to Northern Alliance, a loose confederation of fundamentalist Moslem tribes who treated women like dirt. So, we ended Afghanistan’s developing into modern nation and supported fundamentalist Moslem tribes eventually leading to Taliban.

So, you support NATO when used any where in world to support American brutality.

Joel, in April 1978 Afghanistan’s centrist government was overthrown by a faction of the military headed by Nur Taraki. After that power fell to a split between two groups: the People’s Party and the “Banner” party. They had a contentious history. The new government had little to no popular support and forged close ties with the Soviet Union.


It launched immense purges of all domestic opposition. It did begin reforms of land ownership and use as well as social reforms: both were hated by the Muslim community and the general population, which was strongly anti-communist. that were bitterly resented by the devoutly Muslim and largely anti-communist population. The insurgencies that came from that opposition came from tribal, and urban, groups — what became known as the mujahideen. The USSR invaded in 1979, got rid of the leader from the people’s group (Amin), installed a new puppet, and worked on putting down the insurgency [a move we know failed].

Your grasp of history seems to be quite faulty.

@Joel Harrison Putin agrees to halt agression if Ukraine
a) Gives lots of its land (now he demands more)
b) become defenseless against further agression.
Every agressor is all for peace, after he got all he wants

And you never know if Russia is going to stop at the new borders. It is happening in Georgia as well, where the border seems to be changing still.

Oh, sure, Ukraine should give up it’s territory for the hope that Russia won’t change its mind about respecting Ukraine’s new borders.

I wouldn’t touch those odds, and I play the lottery!

@ ldw56old

You write: “Your grasp of history seems to be quite faulty.”

Just one of several articles I have: but now I’m done. Discussing US Foreign Policy on a blog supporting vaccine science and related issues is a mistake.

“In an interview with French magazine Le Nouvel Observateur in January 1998,
former U.S. National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski recounted that
“according to the official version of history, CIA aid to the mujahideen began
during 1980, that is, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan on December
24, 1979. But the reality, kept secret until now, is quite different: Indeed, it was
on July 3, 1979, that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to
the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul.” This admission—corroborating
previous disclosures by the CIA’s Charles Cogan and Robert Gates—was
quite innocuous on its own, but Brzezinski was further quoted alleging that “on
that day, I wrote a note to the president in which I explained to him that in my
opinion this aid would lead to a Soviet military intervention.” He admitted that
the administration had “knowingly increased the probability” that the Soviets
would intervene militarily, and maintained that he had no regrets as the “secret
operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into
the Afghan trap.” He added that on the “day that the Soviets officially crossed
the border, I wrote to President Carter, in essence: ‘We now have the opportunity
of giving the USSR its Vietnam War,’”

Conor Tobin (2020 Jan). Myth of the “Afghan Trap”: Zbigniew Brzezinski and Afghanistan, 1978–1979. Diplomatic History

Conor Tobin, PhD, is professor of history. You can read his credentials at:

The Carter/Brezinski stuff is well known Joel, and doesn’t do anything to support your earlier comments.

@ ldw56old

Are you so stupid? Of course, it is what I said in previous comments.

I’m done. Write anything you want. Anyone with an open-mind who has been following this exchange will decide for themselves.

“Are you so stupid?”

No Joel, it doesn’t support your previous comments. It’s too bad you take such overly sensitive offense to having any error or inconsistency in your comments, or even to have people disagree with you. I casts a pall on your more on-point and relevant science-related comments.

@ ldw56old

Joel A. Harrison, PhD, MPHsays:
May 28, 2023 at 2:16 pm

My previous comment: “And I don’t like the Taliban; but Afghanistan had a home-grown communist government in 1980, at first rather brutal; but changed, built schools for girls, rural health clinics, and Soviet Union built dams, electric power plants, etc. US saw chance to create a Vietnam for Soviet Union and supplied money and arms to Northern Alliance, a loose confederation of fundamentalist Moslem tribes who treated women like dirt. So, we ended Afghanistan’s developing into modern nation and supported fundamentalist Moslem tribes eventually leading to Taliban.”

Says exactly what I quote above. Are you actually so stupid or, perhaps, you are just posting comments to irritate me.

You really spin a mythology, dams and all. Soviet Union kicked Karmal off 1986 and installed Najibullah, formerly brutally effective head of secret police, and started withdrawal. Thus attempts for reconcilation.

“So, we ended Afghanistan’s developing into modern nation and supported fundamentalist Moslem tribes eventually leading to Taliban.””

They weren’t developing into a modern nation. That attempt is why Russia invaded. Again, your history is off.

@ ldw56old

You just keep attacking me based on ignorance. Read my comment below and go to chapters online and read them! ! !

Joel A. Harrison, PhD, MPHsays:
May 29, 2023 at 12:07 pm
@ Everyone

The difference between me and commenters like you is that if someone challenges what I write, I devote time to additional Google searches & books I own and if wrong, over time I have been posting on this website, around dozen times I have admitted I was wrong as I did on Donbas above; but you and others, no matter how clearly I refute you, including references, are incapable of ever admitting being wrong.

As I wrote above, don’t know if you are just ignorant and biased or simply posting, not to enter into an intelligent dialogue; but just to irritate and provoke.

As I wrote above, don’t know if you are just ignorant and biased or simply posting, not to enter into an intelligent dialogue; but just to irritate and provoke.

Neither ignorant nor biased Joel. Let’s just say, better informed with more nuance than you.

Your problem, Joel, is that you don’t like being challenged on anything. It’s been repeatedly pointed out why your take on Russia and related history is seen as wrong, but you seem to take it as a personal attack. It isn’t. Your continued resort to personal attacks in this matter is not a good look for you case.

@ ldw56old

You write: “It’s been repeatedly pointed out why your take on Russia and related history is seen as wrong”

And I have responded with valid citations and references. Doesn’t matter how many times that people claim I am wrong if they can’t back it up with valid references. And as I wrote above, if someone challenges me, I don’t just double down, I review what books, etc I have and also do a new search of Google and if shown to be wrong, I have NO problem admitting it as I did on Donbas above.

You just keep attacking me without anything supporting it except your ASSHOLE position.

I don’t just double down

That’s clearly not true. I’m not sure what your problem is on this, but it’s clear that your knowledge and understanding of history isn’t up to your science and medical knowledge.

Continue slinging insults until your butthurt stops.

@ Aarno Syvänen

1986??? The Soviet Invasion because US provided arms and funds to mujahadeen, primitive tribes that treated women like shit, was in 1980. So, why are you trying to attack me based on events six years later??? As I wrote above, at first the homegrown Afghanistan communist government was brutal; but then changed, built schools for girls, rural health clinics, and began program of modernization. Accepted help from Soviet Union who built dams, electric power plants, etc. Get your dates straight! ! !

Anyone want to discuss infectious diseases, immunology, and vaccines, the actual purpose of this blog???

Anyone want to discuss infectious diseases, immunology, and vaccines, the actual purpose of this blog???

Joel, last night you said that you were “done” with this exchange, yet you’ve continued as though that never left your keyboard.

If you wish to be done with it, you have to stick the landing.


You are absolutely right; but I was hoping that others following this exchange would submit comments tearing ldw56old apart. He deserves it.

He has never given any references to his comments whereas I listed two online Chapters and a list of books that include chapters on Afghanistan.

Your book about Afghanistan flies against basic facts. Perhaps you should read another book ?

Hi Joel.

This whole thing started, remember, as an example of how antivaxxers/anti-public-healthers are increasingly into right wing party line views, which lately includes defending Russia on a “what’s so terrible about authoritarianism and imperialism if you can justify it?” basis. What you’re doing is…well, if you were trying to defend Russia (which you stated in the beginning you were not) it would be whataboutism, but since you’re trying to point out US imperialism and failures to live up to its democratic ideals by itself, is more of a sidetrack. Which, to be fair, was started by another sidetrack.

The people with the most to lose mostly care little who started it, why things and people suck. They just don’t want to live under a despot. Ask Venezuelan expats about Chavez and Maduro. They don’t care that much to what extent Chavez’s descent into despotism and choice of a useless yes-man as a successor was caused by US 1970s-throwback politics vs, well, something more domestic, or maybe even Chavez’s close ties with Castro. They just care that their economy and politics suck and wanted out of there. The US being an A-hole and/or idiot internationally gives it, in my opinion, even more responsibility for trying to help other people around the world affected by A-holes and idiots. But they have to try harder to do it right and not screw things up worse. Unintended mistakes can still happen to anyone, though.

But this is politics, not science. At least we, unlike the right wing antivax Putin apologists that inspired this sidetrack, know the difference. Facts are still highly relevant, but processes have a much larger margin of error and are sometimes more self-destructive than self-correcting.

@ space_upstairs_cluttered

If you think I was being a Putin apologist I suggest you carefully re-read what I wrote. I despise Putin but simply explained if US had NOT over and over broken its word, if US had helped Russia transition, etc. Putin would NOT have come to power. And I made it clear that attack on Ukraine breaks both types of international war crimes, a war of aggression and targeting civilians.

I know you are not a Putin apologist, just someone who strongly believes US foreign policy should never be discussed without pointing out that it is full of royal screw ups. However, this discussion began with Putin apologists and how many of them are also anti-vaxers because they can’t separate science from politics. It was ultimately you who sidetracked the discussion far from science, via your conviction, however noble in intent and backed with references, that everyone must know how badly the US fails to live up to its ideals and must agree with you that there is no more important point to acknowledge in discussing foreign policy.

You are not foolish or mean. You are simply passionate about critiquing your country, your right as a citizen of a nation that at least halfheartedly attempts democracy. But politics, sadly, is not science. With the same set of facts, a much larger range of interpretation and conclusions is possible. Many of us prefer to hope the US can learn to right its wrongs, and are not sure intervening in Eastern Europe is just another wrong in a march of interminable wrongness. That doesn’t make us foolish or mean either…maybe just naive and Pollyannish at worst. But we all take democracy – and science – seriously. We are on the same team.

How do you think that the US could have, or should have ‘helped Russia transition, etc.’?
Based on the well demonstrated history of US lead ‘democratic transformation’ (with relatively few real successes), it seem somewhat wishful thinking to expect any different a result. The are limits to even the USA’s power, and it get the best result when helping countries efforts to establish democratic institutions.

@Joel Harrison As I have said, better reason for Putin’s rise to power were 1999 bombings.He played a part of though cop for his political benefit.

Where you get all that stuff ? Communist government was brutal until Soviet Union decided to withdraw. After here were attemps to reconcile with muslims. This was answer to your claim that communist governen was so benign
Speaking about Soviet invasion, it happened because Soviet Union wanted to oust Hafizullah Amin, the then dictator, His offense is an attempt to reduce Soviet influence.

@ Alia

You don’t like Russia. OK; but during World War II nations alongside Russia; e.g., Baltic States, Poland, Byelorussia, Ukraine, all launched brutal attacks on Jews, raping, torturing, and murdering. In many cases, began before Nazi Germany. Since World War II the same nations are known for their antisemitism, mistreatment of Jews and also other minorities; e.g., Gypsies. In fact, there were a few instances where German soldiers halted some of the aforementioned because it appeared even too brutal to them.

So, Jesus said: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” So, if your nations are brutal against Jews and other minorities, maybe, you deserve someone being brutal towards you.

Keep in mind that I would prefer neither of the above.

@ Everyone

If you consider yourself open-minded, I suggesting reading the following well-documented chapters from a book I own and read years ago (found free chapters on line)

From first chapter: “The stage was now set for 12 long years of the most horrific kind of warfare, a daily atrocity for the
vast majority of the Afghan people who never asked for or wanted this war. But the Soviet Union
was determined that its borders must be unthreatening. The Afghan government was committed to
its goal of a secular, reformed Afghanistan. And the United States was intent upon making this the
Soviets’ Vietnam, slowly bleeding as the Americans had”

[William Blum. Afghanistan, 1979-1992: America’s Jihad]

[William Blum. How the US provoked the Soviet Union into invading Afghanistan and starting the whole mess]

Just cut and paste titles into Google search box.

Perhaps you can read another book, just to show openmindedness. Modern secular state, for Pete’s sake.
It is known fact that Russia/Soviet Union want their neighbours to be non threatening . So they invade if the neighbour is too independent. Strange that you accept that.


Below is a list of books I own and have read on American Political and Foreign Policy. I’ve read numerous other books checked out from library and have 100s of downloaded articles. The first author I actually met and had coffee with twice. A local Unitarian Church sponsored monthly seminars on a variety of subjects; e.g., US Foreign Policy, Death Penalty, etc. and I tried to attend them all


Chalmers Johnson (2004). Blowback, Second Edition (American Empire Project)

Chalmers Johnson (2004). The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic

Chalmers Johnson (2007). Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic (American Empire Project)

Senator WIlliam J. Fulbright (1966), The Arrogance of Power

Michael Parenti (1995). Against Empire: A Brilliant Exposé of the Brutal Realities of U.S. Global Domination

I’ve read several other books in American Empire Project (at type in search box)

Melvin Allan Goodman (2013). National insecurity: the cost of American militarism

Stephen Kinzer (2006). Overthrow: America’s Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq.

Chris Lombardi (2020). I Ain’t Marching Anymore: Dissenters, Deserters, and Objectors to America’s Wars

Cynthia McKinney (2018). How the US Creates Shithole Countries

Samuel Moyn (2021). Humane: How the United States Abandoned Peace and Reinvented War

Nick Turse (2013). Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam

Rather selective reading list. So next challenge: read a book that does not just confirn your opinon.

@ Aarno Syvänen

First, do you know who Senator WIlliam J. Fulbright was? A extremely well-respected Chair of the US Senate’s Foreign Relations committee.

Second, please, suggest a book or books that you have read that disagree with me and I will try to get hold and read them.

Or do you just disagree with me based on personal bias???

@ ldw56old

I gave reference to two excellent chapters available online which I am sure you won’t read and I listed all the books on American foreign policy that I own and have read, almost all include chapters on Afghanistan

You have not given any references so it is obvious that your intent isn’t to enter into a civilized dialogue; but to just provoke and irritate. In other words, YOU ARE A DESPICABLE ASSHOLE. You must be a really unhappy unsuccessful person if this is what you do

I stopped taking you seriously on this [at least seriously informed, it’s clear you’re passionate about it] a long time ago. Your continued reference to promises made by reagan, implying they should have been binding on future US administrations, is asinine on its own. Implying that they would have prevented putin coming to power shows a serious logical lapse: we don’t know what would have happened if they’d been followed.

Your discussion of events leading to russia’s invasion of Afghanistan is odd, seemingly based on the writings of Blum. I’m not sure why the hell you include books about Vietnam or others on American Imperialism: I haven’t seen anyone here seriously disagree with most of the ideas there. Do they show a pattern of horrible actions? Sure. They don’t support your timeline of events [well, except for this by Blum “The Afghan government was committed to its goal of a secular, reformed Afghanistan.” — that flies in face of events].

Your reaction to people who disagree with you, and point out flaws in your comments, is a bit much — unhinged is a better term. Civil discourse doesn’t seem to be in your mindset so, unlike your previous promise, this will be my last comment: It’s a very good thing you aren’t a teacher or professor: unleashing the type of tirade you’ve demonstrated here on a student who questioned things would not be good.

That’s why I pretty much step aside when Joel dives into this subject from time to time.

As for books, I’m curious if anyone else has read this one?

I only made it through the first few chapters, but they were extensively referenced with contemporary news sources about the events in 1948. And she started her research from a pro-Palestinian point of view.

@ squirrelelite

The Joan Peter’s book has been torn to shreds by numerous historians, etc. I own and have read it; but I own an entire bookshelf of books on Israel and several DVDs, just some of them:

Norman G. Finkelstein (1995). Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict

Benny Morris (1987). The birth of the Palestinian refugee problem, 1947-1949

and the absolute best:

Thomas Suaréz (2023). Palestine Hijacked: How Zionism forged an
Apartheid State from River to Sea

I actually lived in Israel for six months

And, perhaps you have ignored that over 600,000 Israeli Jews have illegally moved into the Palestinian Authority and East Jerusalem, backed by the Israeli military. Condemned by the UN and almost ALL nations in the World with US sort of “neutral”.

Read Suaréz book. Note all the books I have were written by Jews, many who were Israeli citizens. Zionists from the beginning murdered thousands of Jews, even Rabbis, who either wanted one democratic nation with real equality for Jews and Palestinians or only believed in establishment of Jewish State with advent of Messiah.

One of many reviews of Peter’s book I have:

Daniel Samel (2015 Jan 17). The legacy of Joan Peters and ‘From Time Immemorial’. Mondoweiss [Note. A Jewish online magazine]

Thanks for the input.
I’ll probably pick out one of those to read or listen to this summer.

I can be clueless but I do follow the news and am aware of much of that. I had hopes after the peace treaty with Israel that there might be further progress toward a complete peace. But it was not to be due to a multitude of factors.

And now it seems they are caught in a negative feedback loop with the Israeli government stuck in full-on intransigence.

Their situation with the Palestinian workers has a little bit in common with that of white politicians in states like Texas and Florida complaining about migrants. Their states need the workers in agriculture, construction and other industries. But they don’t want to work on a real long-term solution. Perhaps that is in part because the current situation gives them a disadvantaged underclass of workers that they can take advantage of and use to manipulate their base.

@ squirrelelite

One more excellent book by an Israeli Jew:

Ilan Pappé. The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine.

@ ldw56old

I really shouldn’t respond because you are obviously a troll; but . . .

First, Blum’s chapters have extensive reference lists

Second, how about an interview with Zbigniew Brzeziński who was Jimmy Carter’s National Security Advisor:

Brzezinski: Yes. According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the Mujahadeen began during 1980, that is to
say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan, 24 Dec 1979. But the reality, secretly guarded until now, is completely
otherwise Indeed, it was July 3, 1979 that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the
pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And that very day, I wrote a note to the president in which I explained to him that in my
opinion this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention. . . . B: Regret what? That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it? The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter. We
now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam war. Indeed, for almost 10 years, Moscow had to carry on a war unsupportable by the government, a conflict that brought about the demoralization and finally the breakup of the Soviet empire.”

Brzezinski interview (1998 Jan 15). “Yes, the CIA entered Afghanistan before the Russians …” , by Zbigniew Brzeziński, Vincent Jauvert.
Brzezinski (1998 Jan 15). « Oui, la CIA est entrée en Afghanistan avant les Russes … », par Zbigniew Brzeziński.

Both available online. Note, though my French isn’t great I first read with help of dictionary the original French version.

So Troll, besides not reading Blum and ignoring well-written with extensive references, how can you refute US President’s National Security Advisor who was responsible for what I wrote. Is he a liar??? If so, why???

I realize it is a waste of time to respond to a TROLL; but, hopefully there are still others following this exchange who might actually check out my references and as I’ve mentioned several times, not once have you given a single paper as reference to back your comments.

As for Putin coming to power, I have numerous articles; but I suggested going to Swedish documentary “Att skapa en Putin” and access one of the free online translators. It clearly explains how US withheld help leading to starvation and suffering of Russians, etc.

It was still a Soviet invasion, can you not get that ? They took the bait,if Brzezinski was right. They could have avoided it.
Brzezinski was probably boasting , though. Atheism and Islam do not mix, and this is the cause of bsurrgency,
Amin tried to negotiate with Pakistan,Iran and even US:
Those who boast of friendship with us, they can really be our friend when they respect our independence, our soil and our prideful traditions.
Article contains many references

@ Aarno Syvänen

My comment above makes it clear that Soviet carried out an “invasion” of Afghanistan, which is a war crime, given Soviet was NOT attacked.

You have been WRONG every time you have challenged what I write.

How dense are you???

Yet you still claimed that Soviet invasion was somehow caused by Brzezinski, Stop that.
Speaking about denseness, this is again FAO about food situation in Russia:
More reliable than some Swedish documentary, i would say. Now read this, or my previous link.

@ Aarno Syvänen

You really are either stupid and/or dishonest as I cited above:

In an interview with French magazine Le Nouvel Observateur in January 1998,
former U.S. National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski

@ Aarno Syvänen

You write: “More reliable than some Swedish documentary, i would say. Now read this, or my previous link.”

Without having watched the Swedish documentary, you continue to show your stupid bias. However, I have downloaded your linked articles, and, as opposed to ignorant dishonest people like you who judge without actually reading, etc. I will read them. I am always open to new ideas, info, etc.

So, probably later today I will read:

Sedik (2003 May). Globalization and Food and Nutrition Security in the Russian Federation, Ukraine and Belarus.

@ Aarno Syvänen

“You write: “Speaking about apartheid, do you know what apartheid was:
List similar acts implemented by Israel.
To be specific, had blacks right to vote under apartheid ? Israel Palestinians have.”

I guess you missed the section that stated: “The term apartheid has been adopted by Palestinian rights advocates and by leading Israeli and other human rights organizations, referring to occupation in the West Bank, legal treatment of illegal settlements and the West Bank barrier. Within the pre-1967 Israeli borders, Palestinian rights advocates have raised concern over discriminatory housing planning against Palestinian citizens of Israel, likening it to racial segregation.”

Note. “by leading Israeli and other human rights organizations.”

I guess you also missed the section “Israeli arms sales”. When almost the entire world condemned South Africa for its apartheid, Israel had very friendly relations and supplied them with arms.

Having the right to vote says nothing. The Israeli Knesset has 120 members. Palestinians have 4 members, so 116 vs 4, guess who wins ALL the votes? But you ignore other things, such as administrative detention of Israeli Palestinians, often for years, without trial, discriminatory housing. In fact, if a Palestinian wants to add a second floor, for instance, to their house, usually denied by Israeli government. And Palestinians areas of Israel poorer infrastructure support and Palestinian Israelis schools receive approximately half amount of funding per student as Jewish schools. And most of all, you ignore the over 600,000 Israelis in Settlements in the Palestinian Authority backed by the Israeli military, condemned by the UN and most nations around the world.

But, since you like Wikipedia, read the following two Wikipedia articles: Israel and Apartheid and Israel-South Africa Relations.

And the absolute best up-to-date paper:

Amnesty International (2022 Feb). Israel’s apartheid against Palestinians – Cruel system of domination and crime against humanity.

Amnesty International (2022 Feb). Israel’s apartheid against Palestinians:Cruel system of domination and crime against humanity.

Note. I have been a follower of Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch as far back as I can remember.

So, as with others you see world in black and white. If not exactly like South African version of apartheid, then not apartheid. You are Pathetic!

And, though I know you won’t, I suggest reading Thomas Suaréz (2022). Palestine Hijacked

None of that answered my question: how it can be apartheid, when Israel Palestinians have right to vote. You did not mention other apartheid laws implemented by Israel either, Any number of people can call it apartheid, but this is another thing.
Supporting apartheid was indeed both stupid and immoral, another thing again.

Jesus F. Spaghetti, Aarno, you stepped into a poop pile there and conceded a big argumentative point to Joel. You’re attempt to police a particular restrictive definition of “apartheid”, insisting a lack of a particular de jure restriction (voting) makes the whole shebang of Bibi’s regime innocent of an unjust separationist nature (“No true apartheid??”) is, well… just pathetically weak.

i asked are other apartheid laws implemented, too. Check the list and report..

To put it clearer to you apatheid means segregation. Have Isral implemnted it ?

@ Aarno Syvänen

I also suggest you check out two Jewish online magazines, one based in Israel:

Mondoweiss: News & Opinion About Palestine, Israel & the United States

+972 Magazine: Independent Journalism from Israel-Palestine [Note. 972 is Israel’s international phone number]

Mondoweiss and 972mag ? Now that is a selection bias. I suggest that you read Arutz Sheva.

@ Aarno Syvänen

From Wikipedia: “Arutz Sheva (Hebrew: ערוץ 7, lit. ’Channel 7′), also known in English as Israel National News, is an Israeli media network identifying with religious Zionism . . . In the 1970s an offshore radio station Voice of Peace was launched, broadcasting pacifistic messages. In response, Rabbi Zalman Baruch Melamed launched radio station Arutz Sheva in 1988, aimed at Israelis opposed to negotiations with the Palestine Liberation Organization . . . It has been identified with the Israeli settlement movement”

So, now we know your bias, a rabid religious organization that supports the over 600,000 Israeli Jews who have settled in the Palestinian Authority with support by Israeli military, settlements that have been condemned by UN and vast majority of nations around the world.

So, you support Zionism, a neo-Nazi movement! ! !

Jesus F. Spaghetti, Joel. You and Aarno are a real pair, You deserve each other. He hands you a point on a platter, first with that “It’s not apartheid” nonsense, and then doubling down by citing a source allied with settlement movement… Then you punt it right back by conflating a particular virulent form of Zionism with all Zionism and that with Nazism.

[shaking my head]

He hands you a point on a platter

Yes, there’s nothing this debacle needed so much as a sports commentator.

Nope. Arutz Sheva is as ridiculously one sided as 972mag. I suggest it as an antidote. Read something that does not confirm your bias.

Those of us pro-vaxers with lots of money in Pfizer and Moderna will be cheered to know that financial analysts think investors are too bearish on these companies. Sure, vaccine uptake is down for now, but that could change fast. From the Wall St. Journal:

“Yet Covid-19 will remain a durable market for years to come, with a chunk of the elderly population likely continuing to vaccinate. While it is impossible to predict how the virus will evolve, Jefferies analysts estimate that the total Covid vaccine market will generate global sales of $8 billion by 2030.”

Also, both Pfizer and Moderna are in on the emerging RSV vaccine market, and Moderna is working with Merck on promising individualized cancer vaccines.

All this means hefty profits to come, and increased $$$ for us Pharma shills.

The future’s so bright, I gotta wear shades.

@ Dangerous Bacon

Thanks for getting us back on track, that is, this blog on vaccines and infectious diseases, etc.

I am looking forward in September to getting new booster for COVID, RSV vaccine, and flu vaccine.

Yep, profits from vaccine too high; but profits don’t say if a product is beneficial, harmful, or something in between. Since US government, State governments ,etc. purchase large quantities of vaccines, government can enact laws allowing reasonable profits and enforce them. Unfortunately, the Republican Party transformed from Lincoln’s “government of the people, by the people, and for the people” to “government of the corporations and super wealthy, by the corporations and super wealthy, and for the corporations and super wealthy”. Nope, not pro-life, despite what they claim as they fight against extending Medicaid, even try to shrink it, so pregnant women don’t get prenatal and postnatal care, and fight against various social programs; e.g., food stamps, to ensure women and children given minimal decent standard of living.

I totally agree that profits on vaccines immoral and something should be done about them, especially when majority of funding that developed vaccines was from government; e.g., research grants, etc and overall societal benefit.

@ Everyone

Several commenters have criticized me for only reading one side of events, etc. When I was growing up I read lots on Nazi Germany; but also senior in high school read Mein Kampf, read second time years later, and have read various speeches and Nazi German newspaper articles justifying Nazi Germany. Of course, no one in their right mind would believe the two sides are equally legitimate.

I am a strong supporter of vaccines as is Orac, have a strong background in immunology, microbiology (currently proof-reading and making editorial suggestions for next edition of colleagues undergraduate textbook), infectious diseases, epidemiology, etc. When battling antivaxxers, I point out the overwhelming majority of them have no understanding of any of the aforementioned and a few misuse data and statistics. So, have both sides some equal validity????

Every nation, every group, etc. writes papers, books, etc. to justify their position. I can read books by racists, which I have, books by American hawks, which I have; but, again, not two valid sides.

So, while I do read both sides, the overwhelming evidence validates just one side.

For instance, in Economics and Politics, I have read Libertarian F.A. Hayek, Conservatives Milton Friedman, Barry Goldwater, etc. as well as main stream and Liberal; but overwhelming evidence against Libertarian and extreme right-wing conservatives.

And what is even more telling about those who attack me is that as far as I can tell they actually have not studied the issue or just read very little one-sided and are dishonest hypocrites.

All reading material you suggest is *very’ one sided. Curios that you have not noticed it.

@ Aarno Syvänen

Do you know who Senator Fulbright was? Chair of US Senate Foreign Relations committee and one of the most respected politicians at the time. And, please, list all the books you have read on the subject. I also have a lot of articles as well. Did you read what I wrote on one-sidedness above???

Simple question: Do you think it totally impossible that the US could have done what I write, given the history of both nations use of military, the US use of CIA, etc???

@ Aarno Syvänen

I participated in protests against the war in Vietnam and when I lived in Sweden protests against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. I also participated in Civil Rights demonstrations and demonstrations against US invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. So, what have you done??? And, even as an old man I am a regular monthly blood donor and have been donating blood for over 45 years. How about you?

I have books and articles that disagree with premise US contribution to Soviet invasion; but, given US history, history of cold war and interview with Brzezinski . . . You don’t believe it, think he was just boasting. Yep, anything that disagrees with you must be a lie, boasting, etc. LOL

Even now with the largest military budget by far in the world, our Congress just increased it. And there are numerous books and articles about how our CIA damaged many nations. You probably believe all one-sided. And US war in Vietnam, probably justified in your view. Recently our public broadcasting TV had a documentary, The Movement and the Madman, that depicted Vietnam War as one of the worst war crimes ever and given US defeat, many of the books and articles on Afghanistan make it clear that US wanted Soviet to suffer its own Vietnam. Of course, you disagree.

And women under a communist government in Afghanistan were treated much better than under the Islamic government, perhaps you disagree???

Maybe you are just a TROLL

Soviet Union needed not to suffer defeat in Afghanistan. It was their own decision. As for Brzezinski, he was asked about supporting Taliban (not a smart move) and tried make it look better.
When we are at Vietnam, do you know Hue massacre:
You are a bit one sided.
Communist goverment begat Taliban. I of course do not like either,
Before Saur revolution, an autocrat ruled:
with some progressive and too much independence.

@ Aarno Syvänen

You write: “You are a bit one sided.”

Given you are a neo-Nazis supporter of Zionism and are the one who is one-sided, it is a waste of time responding to an absolute sick ASSHOLE like you; however, example of two credible articles, one supporting idea Ukraine has significant Nazis presence and one says not so. Just an example of how I research things:

Farley (2022 Mar 31). The Facts on ‘De-Nazifying’ Ukraine. FactCheck

RIpp (2022 Feb 5). Ukraine has a Nazi problem, but Vladimir Putin’s ‘denazification’ claim for war is a lie. NBC News.

@ Aarno Syvänen

Yep. quite aware of the Hue Massacre. I lost childhood friends who were drafted into military during Vietnam War. And, yep, the massacre was an atrocity perpetuated by communist; but would NEVER have happened if US had NOT intervened in Vietnam and it is US responsible for highest number of civilian casualties by far. Our Public Broadcasting Station had documentary entitled: the Movement and the Madman which made clear that US in Vietnam was absolute worst double war crime, attacking not defensive, targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure.

I don’t know of a single war in history where some war crimes committed by both sides; but question is size and number of war crimes and who started war.

So, congratulations finding a Wikipedia article on one specific horrible event.

There is an article reviewing a recent book that I’m sure you will disagree with as it gives number killed by Americans over American history

Jeremy Kuzmarov (2023 May 30). U.S. Empire Named Most Murderous Killing Machine In History | CovertAction Magazine.

US empire most murderous killing machine in history ? Kuzmarov forget Stalin, among others. Even Pol Pot, based on a small country beat US

@ Aarno Syvänen

You didn’t read Kuzmarov’s article, did you?

Yep, Pol Pot ca 1 1/2 million, Stalin estimated 9 million; but just during World War II US targeted and killed ca 2 million civilians by firebombing and A-bomb. Kuzmarov’s article is total American history, including killing of American indians, number Africans died crossing Atlantic in slave trade, 200,000 Filipinos by American military, 2 million mainly civilian Vietnamese, etc.

So, once more you stupid dishonest ASSHOLE, you don’t read anything that may not agree with you.

By the way, as opposed to you, I read the articles you linked to, including Sedik (2003 May). Globalization and Food and Nutrition Security in the Russian Federation, Ukraine and Belarus.

And it appeared extremely valid, so I’ve changed my mind about mass Russian starvation after fall of Soviet Union. Even number of low birthweights not high. However, high percentage with iron deficiency anemia and Vitamin C deficiency and other vitamin deficiencies, so diets adequate to prevent starvation and weight loss, but not necessarily healthy, actually very high obesity percentage

See, you neo-Nazi Asshole, I read it carefully.

Maybe you are just a TROLL

This word is again apropos of nothing in this context, full caps again notwithstanding.

Pitching a fit over the long-standing commentariat is exceptionally foolish.

Not sure where to put this but it’s Covid-related…and Orac should know

I heard an interview with Pierre Kory by Mike Adams ( 49 minutes in, yesterday) and he outlined his treatment plans for long Covid and Covid vaccine injury- just as you might expect it included a laundry list starting with ivermectin, various supplements et al
BUT here’s what’s interesting:
he and his group ( do telemedicine and ( I venture) to overcome little problems like state medical boards they have teamed up with a Native tribe, the Crow Nation. Clients have to join the tribe, for a small fee- et voila!..
Creative illegality? Casinos, I can understand, but this? Will he try to call it “native medicine”?
-btw- he’s a whitey.

So, an indigenous group helping Whites spread a deadly infection amongst themselves? And collecting cash from Mike Adam’s Trumpy (read: “racist”) fan-base for the privilege of indulging self-destruction? That’s some major karma right there at the very least…

Sorry — fumble fingers again: the twitter link goes to a tweet by Jan Jekiele [from epoch times] about Kory. It leads with this quote from kory

“I actually practice under the jurisdiction of the Crow Indian tribe now. So the states don’t have any jurisdiction over me. All of my patients become tribal members…I think I’m safe for now.”

According to the Crow Nation website, you must be at least 1/4 or 25% Crow blood to join the tribe.
How are Kory’s suckers clients getting around this?

Read your comments on drs Ericsen and Massihi 3 years ago.
Now 3 years later we know that they were spot on right in everything they said.
So you were wrong in everything you said.

Of course, we “know” nothing of the sort. I do wonder whatever happened to those two quacks in the intervening three years since they had their brief moment of viral fame.

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