Warming Making Russians Live Longer

I wrote about how this winter was the warmest on record in Moscow, Saint-Petersburg, and many other places in Russia.

This is having salubrious effects on public health: Alcohol Deaths Plummet as ‘Warmest Winter’ Hits Russia

Some 619 people died from alcohol poisoning in January 2020, down 37.3% from January 2019, Russia’s National Center for Alcohol Policy Development said Thursday. The past winter was the warmest since records began in 1891, Russia’s Hydrometeorology Center announced the same day.

My regular readers will know that alcohol consumption has long been a very strong contributing factor to many other causes of mortality in Russia. So it is no accident that according to preliminary stats, all-cause mortality fell by 4.9% y/y this January, including a near 10% fall in heart disease deaths and a 18% fall in homicides.

January probably wasn’t an anomaly, since according to blogger zemfort1983, regional Rosstat divisions report similar numbers for February (6.8% decline mortality for nine regions y/y in Feb vs. 5.8% for those same regions in Jan).

Should these improvements continue for the rest of the year – and if Corona doesn’t torpedo everything – Russia’s life expectancy for 2020 should be close to 75 years (up from 73.4 years in 2019), which is no longer that far away from the US or the V4 (78-79 years).

Cucked By Corona?

So even after Corona is done genociding the boomers, we might still have a lingering problem.

Here’s one English language paper about this:

Fan, Caibin, Kai Li, Yanhong Ding, Wei Lu Lu, and Jianqing Wang. 2020. “ACE2 Expression in Kidney and Testis May Cause Kidney and Testis Damage After 2019-nCoV Infection.Urology. medRxiv.

In December 2019 and January 2020, novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) – infected pneumonia (NCIP) occurred in Wuhan, and has already posed a serious threat to public health. ACE2 (Angiotensin Converting Enzyme 2) has been shown to be one of the major receptors that mediate the entry of 2019-nCoV into human cells, which also happens in severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS). Several researches have indicated that some patients have abnormal renal function or even kidney damage in addition to injury in respiratory system, and the related mechanism is unknown. This arouses our interest in whether coronavirus infection will affect the urinary and male reproductive systems. Here in this study, we used the online datasets to analyze ACE2 expression in different human organs. The results indicate that ACE2 highly expresses in renal tubular cells, Leydig cells and cells in seminiferous ducts in testis. Therefore, virus might directly bind to such ACE2 positive cells and damage the kidney and testicular tissue of patients. Our results indicate that renal function evaluation and special care should be performed in 2019-nCoV patients during clinical work, because of the kidney damage caused by virus and antiviral drugs with certain renal toxicity. In addition, due to the potential pathogenicity of the virus to testicular tissues, clinicians should pay attention to the risk of testicular lesions in patients during hospitalization and later clinical follow-up, especially the assessment and appropriate intervention in young patients’ fertility.

A friend who is fluent in Chinese claims to have dredged up quite a number of papers on chinaxiv.org and similar sites.

tl;dr: very little empirical data to work with, but there is a great deal of circumstantial evidence (coming from follow-ups with corona survivors in China) suggesting that male corona victims, even those considered ‘fully recovered’ and discharged by the Chinese medical system, exhibit symptoms of testicular damage culminating in permanent(?) infertility.

Not knowing Chinese to reading level, I can’t absolutely vouch for this assessment.

But if that is really the case, and with the most pessimistic estimates indicating that up to 70% of the world population could end up getting COVID-19, this may have a non-trivial effect on global fertility (which has already been in free-fall in the industrialized world since c.2015).

Might not be the absolute worst time to get your sperm frozen if you have the cash and it’s relevant to your life situation.

Russia’s (Jewish) Top Putinist TV Pundit Hails Mussolini

As I always like to point out, especially on the anniversary of the Georgian BDSM master’s death, life in Fascist Italy was nicer, more predictable, and several orders of magnitude safer than in the 1930s USSR.

Even for Communists. And Jews.

Just nine people executed for political crimes from 1922-43 under Mussolini. That’s a rounding error by the NKVD’s standards.

Back this Jan/Feb, I was surprised to learn, thanks to liberal journalists and Navalny, that Vladimir Solovyov (nee Shapiro) – Russia’s most well-known conservative/Putinist TV talk show host, who loves fast, expensive cars and has eight children – also appears to be a fan of Il Duce.

Back in 2013, Solovyov made a documentary film about the last days of Mussolini (“Zakat”), where he expressed some powerful thoughts on the Italian leader:

Who is Benito Mussolini. A coward? No. Very brave person. A scoundrel? Murderer? Anti-Semite? Sadist? No. From what has been written about him, he was a man who was deeply disrespectful to women, but so far as clearly expressed failings go, that was the last of them.

More recently, Solovyov re-posted his friend Igor Molotov’s positive review of his own film on his Telegram channel, creating a small furore amongst the liberal pro-Western opposition:

Vladimir Solovyov made a very necessary film. Foremost, because amongst us, the Duce is considered a maniac, and people don’t understand that fascism and bastard Nazism are two different things.

Mussolini was a brilliant character, who gave the world a third path, which Russia, partially, is treading along today.

Solovyov, too, was evidently reading my blog – even time traveling six years into the future just to do so.

Anyhow, in an obvious response to the mini-scandal, RT’s Russian language website published an article by Dmitry Petrovsky, under the wonderfully trollish title “The Duche Scared the Liberals“:

The facts outlaid [in Solovyov’s film] are well-known; until 1941, there really were no concentration camps, Mussolini was not an anti-Semite, treated Hitler with contempt, did not execute his political opponents…

But we are not the neoliberal sect, which doesn’t tolerance dissident. We are honest conservatives, and since we are being called to discussion – let’s have it. Let’s remember Benito Mussolini, who he really was and what legacy he left behind. And let’s begin with the main mistake we inherited from Stalinist propaganda – calling both the Italian, and the German dictators “Germano-fascist invaders.”

Mussolini really was a fascist. Fascism is an Italian word, coming from fascio – a bundle, a fagot… the symbol of imperial power in Ancient Rome, and of the high magistrates during the Republic. Mussolini used this word as a symbol of unity for the recently divided and up until then still weak Italy. Meanwhile, Adolf Hitler never called himself a fascist. He was a National Socialist, his party was the National Socialist German Workers’ Party, and there were no Roman bundles in either its symbology or its lexicon.

And our military propagandists were well aware of that – the problem is that, had they called a spade a spade, it would have emerges that the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was fighting those same socialists – just slightly different ones. “Fascism” struck more of a contrast, it fit better, and under wartime conditions, this rhetorical ploy was entirely justified.

It is very nice to discover that such a prominent media figure in the putative PutlerReich is so based, and to read the anguished wailing of sovoks and liberals under this article, and in response to Navalny’s video. Indeed, so triggered were the Navalnyites, they sent an official complaint to the Investigations Committee to check Solovyov’s comments for extremism and rehabilitation of fascism.

Incidentally, what makes this entire spectacle of a Mussolini-loving Russian Jewish journalist even funnier is that RT English pretends that Navalny is a fascist and/or nationalist, which leftist Western Russophiles eagerly lap up.

Never Forget The Almost 6 Million

Turks Don’t Want Idlib–Or Refugees

This, at least, is the result of an instructive poll carried out recently amongst Turks.

Here’s the three main takeaways:

  1. Erdogan’s popularity is at a relative low point.

  1. 49% of Turks don’t want their military in Idlib, vs. 31% who do.

  1. 60% don’t think refugees will return home after the war, 71% think that they damage the economy, and 77% don’t want to give them citizenship.

So, in combination, this explains pretty much everything about recent events in Idlib and on the Greek-Turkish border.

Erdogan’s popularity is going down, so he needs to do something.

However, the Turkish public doesn’t want to get too deeply drawn into Syria. Which is logical, considering that Turkey is an upper-middle income sort-of-democracy with a conscript army. Tolerance for casualties is limited.

They can demonstratively hammer the SAA with drones, but getting drawn into a serious ground conflict with Syria (let alone Russia) over Idlib is not something they want to do. Hence blaming Syria for the deaths of the 30 odd Turkish soldiers, even though it was almost certainly Russia that was responsible.

However, the SAA’s operation to retake Idlib is undoubtedly creating – and will continue to create – tons of refugees.

Recall that Idlib is by far Syria’s most “oppositionist” province: Only 9% have a positive opinion of Assad (at least as of 2015). Even the provinces that fell to Islamic State were around 30%.

Many of those people, such as foreign jihadists, are going to flee the SAA offensive regardless, e.g. the Uyghur terrorist families that have been colonizing ethnically cleansed Christian villages.

Second, the Syrians themselves have a cynical interest in bombing the hospitals and bakeries – for real, this time. To encourage all these people to leave.

But the Turks are extremely strained as it is – the refugee flows are already fundamentally reshaping their demographics, compressing into a decade a process that took several decades in Western Europe.

Some 395 Syrian babies are born each day in Turkey, said professor Murat Erdogan, head of the Migration and Integration Studies Center at the Turkish-German University in Istanbul, explaining how prominently refugees bear on the demographic equation. “In 10 years, Turkey’s demographics will be in the hands of the Syrians,” he told Al-Monitor.
“There are 3.5 million registered Syrian refugees but the real number is higher than that. There are also around 1,000 Afghan and Iraqi refugees [illegally] crossing to Turkey from the southeast daily,” Erdogan said, adding that border control is still not thorough.
Stressing that the number of Syrian refugees has shot up to nearly 4 million from 58,000 at the break of the war in 2011, Erdogan predicts Turkey will have some 6 million Syrians in the next decade, making up at least 7.5% of the country’s overall headcount.

So of course it’s reasonable for them to unload all this biomass onto the EU.

I’d be doing the same in their shoes.

“Russia for Russians” To Be Written Into the Constitution

It was always a longshot.

But the Russians who believed that ethnic Russians should have some official status within their putative country persevered. The Russians who believed that Russians, who constitute 85% of Russia’s citizens, are not inferior to and do not deserve any less than Jews, who proclaim Israel to be the Jewish State even though Jews make up only 75% of Israeli citizens, persevered. The Russians who wanted their country to follow in the footsteps of the post-Communist East European mainstream, where nationally-minded governments from Hungary to Poland have rewritten their Constitutions to prioritize God, traditional values, and their own people, persevered.

These Russians were not only “marginal” Russian nationalists in their “bubble of Internet subcultures“, such as Grigorov and the Russian Democrats with their petitions, Malofeev and his Tsargrad media empire, the more “official” lobbying efforts of Bespalko, and sundry individual publicists and activists. Enshrining ethnic Russians into the Constitution was the official position of the two largest opposition parties, the LDPR and the Communists; of several important figures within the Russian Orthodox Church; of certain individuals within the ruling “United Russia”, such as Konstantin Zatulin; and of numerous celebrities and intellectuals, such as sci-fi author Sergey Lukyanenko (most famous for The Night Watch).

We had plenty of “scares” along the way. For instance, one version of proposed Constitutional amendments leaked a week ago was most notable for obligating Russia to “combat all attempts to falsify history and revise the outcomes of the Second World War” – something that triggers senile sovoks into bouts of spittle-flecked rage against what they themselves castigate as small and irrelevant East European polities, and associates Russia with a regime that persecuted Russians more than anybody else. Another proposed addition called on Russia to “acknowledge the priority significance of science and technology for the country’s development.” That was something that could have only come from the imagination of a Russian bureaucrat-bugman. It’s what one imagines some tinpot Third World dictatorship would write in its Constitutional preamble. Central African Republic: We affirm the priority importance of vaccines and literacy for the country’s development. Meanwhile, there wasn’t even a hint that Russians would be mentioned. For a time, this seemed to confirm all our worst suspicions about the Kremlin’s antipathy towards Russianness.

So expectations were low – even if I did allow the possibility that this zrada (betrayal) could yet flower into a peremoga (victory), should Putin gather the courage to send the sovok apparatchiks packing – and propose his own, Russian changes.

And yet, against all expectations, we emerged triumphant. Putin really, really does read my blog!

Although the fine details have yet to be hammered out, we now know with a high degree of certainty that the following points will appear if not in the preamble, then at least somewhere, within the new Putin Constitution:

  1. Ethnic Russians as the “state-forming” (государствообразующей) nation of the Russian Federation.
  2. The rights of compatriots.
  3. God.
  4. Family as a union of woman and man.

Russia is transitioning from a post-Soviet scrapheap into a national democracy before our eyes.

(1) The acknowledgement that ethnic Russians have some stake in their own putative state does not impinge on the rights of the 15% of Russians who consider themselves to be minorities, since it does not contradict other statements about the multinational nature of the Russian Federation – nor, for that matter, does it impinge on the Constitutions of Russia’s ethnic minority Republics, most of which – including the two most important ones, Tatarstan and Bashkortostan – explicitly mention Tatars and Bashkirs, respectively, as peoples to whom they owe a special degree of responsibility.

So we have Bashkortostan for the Bashkirs. Tatarstan for the Tatars. Israel for the Jews. Skyrim for the Nords. Likewise, from April 22, 2020, Russia will be for the Russians.

(2) Russians are, along with Koreans, the world’s most divided major nation. Consequently, a special provision for Russians stranded abroad after the collapse of the USSR is called for – and Putin has promised to deliver.

(3) Barring a small Buddhist minority, at least 95% of Russian citizens come from cultures that practiced the Abrahamic faiths, while its core faith is undoubtedly and deeply Christian. This is something that most nations of the post-Communist bloc have been unafraid to recognize.

For instance, the Hungarian Constitution has the following lines:

We are proud that our king Saint Stephen built the Hungarian State on solid ground and made our country a part of Christian Europe one thousand years ago. … We recognise the role of Christianity in preserving nationhood. We value the various religious traditions of our country.

The West has become obsessed with LGBT rights since c.2010; since then, the US has gone from half of Americans opposed to gay marriage, to a bipartisan global Rainbow Crusade. So this particular point has perhaps received more vitriol than any other.

In reality, there is plenty of precedent for this – see, for example, the Polish Constitution of 1997:

Marriage, being a union of a man and a woman, as well as the family, motherhood and parenthood, shall be placed under the protection and care of the Republic of Poland.

(4) The family as a union of woman and man (in that order – as befits socialist feminism) was even mentioned in the RSFSR Constitution of 1978.

Marriage is based on the mutual agreement of women and men; the spouses are equal in their familial relations.

The state expresses its care for the family through the creation and development of a wide network of childcare facilities, the organization and improvement of household services and public catering, the provisioning of child benefits, and the provisioning of subsidies and benefits to families with multiple children…

Incidentally, while we’re on this topic, the RSFSR even mentioned ethnic Russians in its preamble:

The formation of the RSFSR provided the [ethnic] Russian people, as well as all nations and peoples of the Russian Federation, with favorable conditions for comprehensive economic, social, and cultural development – while respecting their national characteristics within the brotherly family of Soviet peoples.

Tellingly, it was the USSR – the communal apartment in which ethnic Russians had to make do with squatting in the common areas, while the other major ethnicities got their own national republics – that fissured apart under centrifugal pressures in the late Gorbachev era. Whereas the RSFSR, which did assign ethnic Russians official status, had to be destroyed by Yeltsin’s tanks in 1993, to make way for an American-sponsored Constitution that had no place in it for ethnic Russians, a Constitution that proclaimed the superiority of the international community over Russia, a Constitution that we have had to put up with ever since. Until now.

Russians will imminently get a once in a generation opportunity to take their country back.

I am not saying that all the proposals are optimal from the viewpoint of Russian nation-building. At this point, we don’t even know the concrete wording, or even whether the changes will appear in the preamble or further within the Constitution.

But what I do know is that all the “right” people are enraged about this. Sovoks, liberals, and Russia’s Western “wellwishers” (ha-ha) – they are all triggered, and very, very sad at the prospect of Russians reclaiming their sovereignty – at least on paper – from their “multinational” elites and the “international community” that they serve.

But the dogs will bark and the caravan will move on.

The Russian Occupation Government is here to stay.

Слава России!

Corona Clusters

Many big headlines since the last time we talked about it, but the two biggest ones in my opinion are:

  1. In my Feb 24 post, I suggested there are already numerous Corona clusters all over the US, Europe, and elsewhere, due to the disease’s ease of spread and its having a long incubation period.

Trevor Bedford, on March 1:

The team at the @seattleflustudy have sequenced the genome the #COVID19 community case reported yesterday from Snohomish County, WA, and have posted the sequence publicly to http://gisaid.org. There are some enormous implications here. This case, WA2, is on a branch in the evolutionary tree that descends directly from WA1, the first reported case in the USA sampled Jan 19, also from Snohomish County, viewable hereThis strongly suggests that there has been cryptic transmission in Washington State for the past 6 weeks. … I believe we’re facing an already substantial outbreak in Washington State that was not detected until now due to narrow case definition requiring direct travel to China.

As I said, the cat is out of the bag. The US has neither the political will nor the social self-discipline to confine tens of millions of its people to their homes. And there aren’t many Americans who would take sick days out of their meager vacation days,

  1. I also suggested that a recession is close to inevitable this year. In the week since I wrote that post, the ElectionBettingOdds.com tally of betting sites measuring the chances of a US recession in 2020 has skyrocketed from 32% to almost 50%.

As I said, I don’t think there’s much chance of stopping Corona from infecting a large % of the world population. There are now more new daily COVID-19 cases outside China than within China, which remains largely locked down (and at an economic standstill that is unsustainable in the long-term). Epidemics are one of those things where you either go big or go home. And Harvard epidemiologist Marc Lipsitch’s prediction that “go big” means a large percentage of the world population is looking increasingly realistic.

Lipsitch predicts that within the coming year, some 40 to 70 percent of people around the world will be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19. But, he clarifies emphatically, this does not mean that all will have severe illnesses.

So perhaps governments’ main task should no longer be about trying to contain it as such, but keeping infection rates steady to prevent surges that overwhelm healthcare systems. That is because mortality rates seem to be  around ~1% when there’s access to modern healthcare (e.g. ventilators), it goes up to as high as 4% when they are overwhelmed (e.g. Wuhan a few weeks back – and, as seems plausible, Iran right now)*. So the main focus should be on trying to push as much of the population as possible into the phase state where they have 1% aggregate mortality from Corona as opposed to 4% aggregate mortality from Corona. The most obvious way to do that seems to be to stretch out the infections, e.g. by tightening up and relaxing quarantines at timed intervals.

Even radical and counterintuitive ideas, such as paying to get infected earlier so as to spread out the morbidity burden over time – as suggested by controversial economist Robin Hanson – should not be off the table. My own idea, or “powerful take,” involves paying out money to young people to get infected, which should produce very few casualties and will also push the overall r0 way down because they are generally much more active out on the streets than the elderly.


In other news, today also marks Russia’s first “real” case – that is, an ethnic Russian with a coronavirus infection within Russia (there were two Chinese coronavirus patients about a month ago, but they don’t seem to have spread it further). He was a Muscovite who had returned from vacationing in Italy on February 23, and reported into a clinic with symptoms of pneumonia on February 27 (according to a comment on /r/coronavirus, he was put in a ward with six other people before they discovered that he was infected with coronavirus). This is consistent with reports that Russian clinics have been testing pneumonia patients for Corona since the last third of February. But pneumonia patients are edge cases – there is no mass testing of travelers, or random testing of the population to gauge the approximate strength of the epidemic (as is now starting up in the UK). Considering Moscow’s links with China, Korea, and Italy, I would be very surprised if there weren’t already at least a hundred cases within the Russian capital as of the time of writing.

Newspaper “Signal”, Nov 13, 1917: “Russia Is Ruled by a Lunatic!”

Newspaper “Signal”, Nov 13, 1917:
Russia is ruled by a lunatic! We demand an investigation into the mental state of the “autocrat” Lenin!
Reps of Army Committee of South-West Front said he’s a madman after a conversation with him. …
Save Russia from him … Or he will doom us!

 

Russian Demographics in 2020

Time for this year’s update, now that 2019 preliminary stats are out. I am not going to write much for this one, since there’s nothing new or interesting. For the most part, updating the graphs should suffice.

For extended commentary, you’d be better off reading the last one.

None of the main trends have changed:

  • Plummeting fertility since the mid-2010s (in line with global trends).
  • Rapidly increasing life expectancy.
  • Rapidly falling mortality from external causes.

Absolute numbers of births are back at the levels of 2005, though this is from a significantly smaller cohort of women in their childbearing age.

TFR for this year hasn’t been released, but will be 1.48-1.49 according to my estimates, corresponding to the levels of 2008. I don’t expect a turnaround this year, since trends are still negative, but the rate of decline is slowing.

I don’t expect Russia’s TFR to remain in the 1.4-1.5 range beyond the early 2020s since I view the current shift as being significantly driven by birth postponement.

There’s no official estimate for life expectancy in 2019. However, with a figure of 73.4 years being cited on Russian TV based on the first 11 months of this year, it might as well be the final figure.

Rates of death from “external cases” continue to decline rapidly: Suicides fell by 6.5%, murders by 7.5%, deaths from car accidents by 7.9%. In particular, the homicide rate was 4.9/100,000 by 2019. It is the lowest number to date since the early 1960s. The US rate was 5.0 in 2018, so for all purposes the inflection point is nigh.

Infant mortality reached 4.9/1,000, which is considerably worse than the OECD average, but not a wild outlier (and better than the US). It was at 20/1,000 during the late Soviet period.

After at least a century in the lead, Russia has overtaken the Ukraine in life expectancy, despite Russians generally drinking more. Ukrainian life expectancy actually fell a bit from 2017 to 2018, though this year it would have recovered back to 72 years or slightly more.

Still, whereas there are currently 20% as much deaths as births in Russia, in Ukraine there are nearly twice as many deaths as there are births. The rate of natural increase of -272,297 is similar to Russia’s -316,160 despite Ukraine’s almost four times smaller population.

Presidential Requirements

As of this February, there is a 90% chance that the US President come 2021 will be Trump, Bernie, or Bloomberg.

  • One of whom has been branded a Russian “asset” for the past 5 years.
  • One of whom spent his honeymoon in the USSR.
  • One of whom publicly sympathized with Russia’s incorporation of Crimea back in 2015.

Seems that being an old, white man who’s been accused of working for Putin is becoming a requirement for future American Presidents.