Links 11/20/2020

Scientists Create a Buzz With the First Ever Global Map of Bee Species Smithsonian (original). The original is worth a look because it’s structured in a way that makes it easy to pick out the (human-readable) high points. Thank you, Current Biology!

Millennium Seed Bank celebrates 20 years of preserving plant heritage Euronews

How hedge fund traders known as the SPAC Mafia are driving an $80 billion investment boom with a no-lose trade. Forbes

Why Google Dominates Advertising Markets (PDF) Dina Srinivasan, Stanford Technology Law Review

Judge smacks down Ernst & Young’s aggressive tax strategies for audit client Coca-Cola Francine McKenna, The Dig. Deck: “It’s not enough for auditor EY to be in the spotlight for frauds at Wirecard, NMC, and Luckin. EY is also defending dubious tax avoidance schemes in court.”

1 big thing: Small-town home runs Felix Salmon, Axios

California Wants Its Imperial Valley to Be ‘Lithium Valley’ Bloomberg

Climate change is bringing back long-lost forms of food poisoning The Counter

Prospects for life on Venus fade — but aren’t dead yet Nature


A Lack of Transparency Is Undermining Pandemic Policy Wired

Health experts clash over use of certain drugs for COVID-19 AP

A living WHO guideline on drugs for covid-19 (PDF) WHO. A change: “The latest version of this WHO living guidance focuses on remdesivir, following the 15 October 2020 preprint publication of results from the WHO SOLIDARITY trial. It contains a weak or conditional recommendation against the use of remdesivir in hospitalised patients with covid-19… Considering the low or very low certainty evidence for all outcomes, the panel interpreted the evidence as not proving that remdesivir is ineffective; rather there is no evidence based on currently available data that it does improve patient-important outcomes. The panel placed low value on small and uncertain benefits in the presence of the remaining possibility of important harms.”

The ‘very, very bad look’ of remdesivir, the first FDA-approved COVID-19 drug Science. Oddly, Fauci’s name goes unmentioned, though Fauci, on the basis of a press release, dubbed remdesivir “the standard of care.” If Science wants its political endorsements to drive its reporting, that’s fine, but let’s be clear that’s what’s going on, eh? (Yes, yes, it’s “a bad look.” And bipartisan!)

Secret ingredients behind the breakthrough Covid vaccines FT. Oh, “secret ingredients.”

Hospitals scramble to get ready for coronavirus vaccines Healthcare Dive

* * *

What the data say about asymptomatic COVID infections Nature

L.A. officials are still not sure how or why COVID cases are skyrocketing. It’s a huge handicap Los Angeles Times

FDA approves emergency use for first at-home Covid-19 test kit CNBC

This winter, fight covid-19 with humidity WaPo

Hedge Funds Inoculated Themselves Against Vaccine Profits Dealbreaker


The Elements of the China Challenge (PDF) Policy Planning Staff, Office of the Secretary of State (via Axios).

China deepens probes into the roles of rating agency, banks and brokers after AAA-rated Yongcheng Coal’s bond went bust South China Morning Post. Commentary:

China Urges New Era of Mass Migration—Back to the Countryside WSJ

China’s grain and soya imports upsurge Hellenic Shipping News


East Asia Decouples from the United States: Trade War, COVID-19, and East Asia’s New Trade Blocs (PDF) Petersen Institute for International Economics. Handy diagram:

As Michael Pettis points out, the RCEP members are all net exporters. So who buys the goods?

The Koreas

South Korea daily COVID-19 cases highest since August; nationwide infections feared Reuters

From a crab shack to Hyundai, China’s wrath over a U.S. missile defense system weighs on South Korea LA Times


EU leaders clash over Hungary and Poland budget veto Deutsche Welle

France’s Macron issues ‘republican values’ ultimatum to Muslim leaders BBC

The Repression of France’s Yellow Vests Has Left Hundreds in Jail — And Crushed Freedom of Protest Jacobin

Jeremy Corbyn ‘must make full apology’ before returning as Labour MP, says ex-PM Gordon Brown Sky News. Nothing Corbyn says or does will be enough for his detractors, so why worry?

Jeremy Corbyn row deepens as allies threaten to cut off Labour election cash Mirror

Bankers in Denmark See Sharp Rise in Threats From Angry Clients Bloomberg


Three EU countries call on Commission to step up no-deal Brexit preparations Politico

Brexit Britain Collides With Irish Soft Power in Washington Bloomberg

Trump Transition

US Treasury refuses to extend some of Fed’s crisis-fighting tools FT

‘We Basically Made Recovery Much, Much Harder Than It Has to Be’ FAIR

Biden Transition

Listening to the scientists on Biden’s Covid task force:

(Zeke Emmanuel: “Why I Hope to Die at 75.”)

Not just COVID: Nursing home neglect deaths surge in shadows AP


Georgia manual recount confirms Biden victory Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Trump campaign legal fight keyed to court of public opinion The Hill. The “faithless electors” strategy didn’t work for the Democrats in 2016, and it’s unlikely to work for Republicans in 2020. That said:

The Extremist At Dominion Voting Systems The American Conservative. “Dominion” as in “Dominion of Canada” (it’s a Canadian firm), not as in Dominionism (a perfectly valid inference; good wrap-up here, from one of those old-time blogs). DVS bought Diebold and Sequoia, FWIW. (One reason that voting machines are such a fertile field for “connecting the dots” is that privatizing “our democracy” has led to a horrid tangle of failed and/or acquired vendors, crooks, con artists, grifters, operatives, politicos on the take, plus white-hat hackers, and whistleblowers (some of whom are statisticians). On the role of DVS in election 2020, I’m still waiting on the affidavits (assuming they’d be reported, of course; the DVS Wikipedia entry has extensive, for up-to-the-minute edits on 2020, but the material on the acquisition of Diebold and Sequioa hasn’t been beefed up at all). When you’ve lost Tucker Carlson:

If one of the outcomes of election 2020 is the syllogism: “Election 2020 was legitimate, therefore electronic, privatized voting is legitimate”… Well, that would be pretty bleak.

Uptight City Tries to Silence Neighborhood Councils … and, CityWatch City Watch LA

What it took to investigate a suspicious town in the Mojave Desert High Country News

Our Famously Free Press

Covid anti-vaxxers should face action for spreading false information that ‘could cost lives’, Britain’s top counter-terror officer says Daily Mail. Paging Barbra Streisand

Digging the rabbit hole, COVID-19 edition: anti-vaccine themes and the discourse around COVID-19 Microbes and Infection

A Game Designer’s Analysis Of QAnon Medium (RC). Word of the day: apophenia. Well worth a read.

Meet the Censored: Ford Fischer Matt Taibbi, TK News

Boeing 737

Bjorn’s Corner: 737 MAX ungrounding, the technical background Leeham News and Analysis

Police State Watch

A cop shoots a Black man, and a police union flexes its muscle Reuters

Protests and Riots

Kenosha: How two men’s paths crossed in an encounter that has divided the nation (video) WaPo. Interview with Rittenhouse.

Imperial Collapse Watch

TAC Files Lawsuit Against State Department Over Venezuelan ‘Bay Of Pigs’ The American Conservative

America’s “Wars of Religion” Slate

Class Warfare

Social democracy or feudalism Interfluidity

Coronavirus: Facebook accused of forcing staff back to offices BBC (dk).

The Student Debt Crisis is a Crisis of Non-Repayment Marshall Steinbaum, Phenomenal World

Antidote du Jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. The Rev Kev

    ‘As Michael Pettis points out, the RCEP members are all net exporters. So who buys the goods?’

    Ahem. Our own PlutoniumKun brought up this point a coupla days ago. Still, there are differences enough between the different countries that may make it work. Countries like Laos and Myanmar are not famous for the amount of iron ore they export but they may have need of that exported by Australia. I suspect that if countries in a pact want something to work, then ways will be found to make it work. Imagine the difficulties in getting all the countries of Europe to eventually mesh into the EU the past few decades for example. I guess that it will be a matter of watch-this-space.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Thanks for noticing, Kev. But to be fair, I’d have to say that I think Pettis made the observation first. His twitter account is excellent for sorting out the wheat from the chaff on discussions on Asian economics and politics.

      My guess is that the RCEP will mean very little in economic or trade terms (especially since China has made it absolutely clear it has no intention of reducing its trade surplus, as have ROK and Japan), but does have significance in economics terms. If the rumours are true that Biden will appoint Susan Rice to a senior role in Asia policy, this will get worse – she is widely disliked in the various major capitals around Asia because of the policies she pushed in the Obama era, they don’t consider her to be out of her league.

      1. Carla

        Don’t quite understand your last phrase “they don’t consider her to be out of her league” in the context of the sentence.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          Sorry, rushed comment, I don’t know how that ‘don’t’ slipped in! This is what happens when I comment on NC while trying to make lunch.

        2. NotTimothyGeithner

          I think it means they see Rice’s actions in the past as well thought out as opposed to the usual American fp dopes who can be distracted with a song and dance routine and do matching jackets. Rice isn’t going to listen to reason as much as push for her vision of the Pox Americana.

        3. The Rev Kev

          This just came out a day ago – ‘Susan Rice is Asia’s Worst Nightmare’

          From that article- ‘Susan Rice credits herself with a commanding role in the implementation of Obama’s China strategy. In her memoir Rice describes why she, as National Security Advisor, needed to take control of America’s relationship with China, instead of allowing another NSC “Principal” (like the Secretary of State) to take charge’

          This should work out well.

          1. John

            Retreads all the way down. I voted for Biden not because I expected much but because I am mortally tired of the sound and fury signifying nothing, but Donald! Donald! Donald! That person is so utterly predictably tiresome.

            But, if Biden meant it when he was quoted as saying nothing would change; four more years of the insane “Washington Consensus”. If that is our fate, you can be sure the republican candidate will be elected in 2024.

            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              Perhaps if eleventeen million Sanderistas and their aligned office-seekers can keep a secret, they can silently plot to run Sanderistas in Republican primaries and all come out in mass to vote for them. That way, they can let the Pink KKK Democraps have their choice of Democratic candidates while maybe getting a choice of Sanderista candidates under Republican cover.

            2. Procopius

              Plus, my guess is a Republican wave like 2010 in 2022. I hope I’m wrong, but I think Qanon is going to be a major force for the next two years. I think the Democrats are going to continue to display how much they despise working people without degrees. I also think they are going to pursue absolutely insane harmful austerity policies, probably including making cuts to Social Security and Medicare. Look at the guy being proposed for OMB.

    2. a different chris

      I’m a little baffled by the question, myself. I mean they aren’t taking themselves off the global market, they are just making a “local” arrangement. They will “net export” to the same places they have been “net exporting” to already.

      Somebody just wanted to sound clever. Or maybe he was just joking and nobody got it.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        The point is that the trade surpluses those countries run are not accidental – in theory, trade should balance. The can only arise in the long term if they are part of a deliberate economic strategy whereby the consumer side of the domestic balance is suppressed in favour of domestic investment and export. Or put another way, money is taken from ordinary working people and given to industry through wage suppression or other means.

        As Keynes pointed out back in the 1940’s, this is inherently unstable unless someone steps in to be the buyer of first resort.

        1. a different chris

          I understand all that. And it should eventually balance (long run we will all be dead pops up here speaking of Keynes) but at the moment there is no qualitative difference between say China and Japan being in the same block and both net exporters as Quinghai and Sichuan being both net exporters but in the same country.

          The quantitative difference is that every country in the world can’t be a net exporter and that will have to sort itself out. This block I expect will also sort itself out but it doesn’t have to right now.

          All this does is simplify manufacturing said exports. Australia (haha I joke but why not, will be buying my new Holden any day now right?) can more easily get a part from China to make something they want to export to the US.

          Shorter me: a lot of gun-jumping here. When they shut off trading outside the block let me know.

          1. PlutoniumKun

            I replied before but again my reply seems to have vanished, so sorry if this is a retread:

            I take your point about supply chains – it may well simplify supply chains for some products under this agreement,and this could lead to more ‘100% made in Asia’ products. But so long as most of the major members are committed to import subsitution and on-shoring (as China, ROK and Japan are), then any impact will be pretty minimal.

            There is a history of cross-Asia organisations with grand sounding names which amount to little more than photo ops for politicians. It remains to be seen if RCEP is any different.

        2. Spoofs desu

          +1 at a plutonium kun….

          Good description of the consequences—as opposed to the mechanism—of a an economic strategy/structure.

        3. Chauncey Gardiner

          The RCEP trade agreement seems largely aspirational to me. Perhaps signatories are considering a lengthy policy time frame for a regional bloc to develop, somewhat analogous to how the European common market evolved into the EU with its euro and ECB. Institutions would presumably follow the framework, as they have in Europe. Would be useful to know how this fits into China’s new 15-year “Five Year Plan” and economic model, and their “Belt & Road” initiative. I also would not be surprised if this trade agreement is used as a tool of persuasion to attempt to build domestic political support for resurrection of the TPP agreement by the incoming US administration.

          1. Procopius

            Chauncey Gardiner
            November 20, 2020 at 3:36 pm

            Resurrection of the TPP is going to run into the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). As I understand it, that’s all the countries who were prepared to join the original TPP, except the U.S. They modified it slightly to remove some of the restrictions on “intellectual property” and the ISDS, the objectionable Investor State Dispute Settlement. I’m pretty sure Biden wants to revive the TPP, but he’s a day late. Still, what do I know?

    3. Steve

      While Biden tries to get a handle on COVID and keep the markets happy, a couple of post RCEP next steps in the evolution of Asia’s regional trade architecture to watch for in 2021. 1. Canada opens FTA negotiations with the ten ASEAN nations, which if successful sets them up to join RCEP; 2. Australia opens talks to “upgrade” a few of its existing bilateral agreements (like the Australia-Indonesia FTA); 3. At least one or two Asian nations join (Korea, Thailand, Philippines) and/or ratify (Malaysia, Brunei) the CPTPP; 4. Singapore continues to push new bilateral “digital FTA’s” with like minded partners; 5. EU and/or U.K. open negotiations for either new bilateral deals (EU-Indonesia, following EU-Vietnam) or joining pluralateral agreements (CPTPP); 6. China, Japan, Korea agree to re-start trilateral investment agreement negotiations.

    4. DFTBS

      I think it would be interesting to note how the RCEP countries trade balances look if you exclude their trade with the US. Are they all still net exporters? How would their trade balances look if they settled trade in ¥ rather than $?

      I’ve noticed a persistent and pointless thread in American Sino-analyst and their output: the notion that the US is essential, and so all Chinese moves can be interpreted relative to their impact on the US. We like to think of ourselves as the 800lb gorilla that can’t be ignored. But perhaps we’re more like a turd in the corner of the room.

      1. Fabian

        The net benefits in the study were simulated before the Covid shock. That presumably means the integration effects will be greater

  2. zagonostra

    >Covid anti-vaxxers should face action for spreading false information that ‘could cost lives’, Britain’s top counter-terror officer says

    When I open NC I typically scroll right past the COVID section since I’m completely confused on the subjects and defer to others who are more qualified to comment. However, I do take note of the conflict and contentious nature of COVID as it relates to free speech. So when I see comments like those in the article above that worry about our children and the most vulnerable I think of the Iraq war and the babies in the incubators and my spider senses start to tingle on high alert.

    There is a link below that shows a doctor doing a live stream in Germany where the police knock down the door with guns ablaze because he was questioning the lockdowns and the veracity of what the gov’t was saying about the virus. You can see as they are breaking down the door his heavy breathing and look of panic in his eyes.

    The protest on the lockdowns happening in Europe don’t get much coverage in the U.S. What is disturbing to me about both the video and the article is that some friends applaud it and have no qualms about what is happening, to me this is very disturbing and signals an era where free speech and technological advances that allow for real time streaming and posting on social media under the cover of COVID will be changed forever.

    “I’m worried that the radicalisation of some of the most vulnerable people in our society, namely our children, is happening by online groomers and terrorists both from the Islamist and extreme right wing ideologies.

    “It’s that online radicalisation, the explosion of online and technological devices in people’s hands 24/7, on top of the pandemic, which has effectively led to a lot more time people are spending on those devices, locked in their rooms away from their protective influences, while they’ve been out of school or out of colleges.

    1. Carolinian

      Doing the rounds lately is a quote from Huey Long or maybe it was Mencken. Here’s the Mencken version since it’s straight from the horse’s mouth.

      My own belief, more than once set afloat from this spot, is that it will take us, soon or late, into the stormy waters of Fascism. To be sure, that Fascism is not likely to be identical with the kinds on tap in Germany, Italy and Russia; indeed, it is very apt to come in under the name of anti-Fascism.

      It’s hard to deny that the dangers of Covid are generating an impulse toward authoritarianism in some quarters and perhaps even more so in Europe where the “F” word beast found its origins. Covid is not the flu but it’s also not the plague. You wonder how the world would be reacting if we had the real thing. But I think it’s valid to say that the fascist impulse isn’t only confined to the right but can also come from the faux left. After all these days both sides seem firmly wedded to corporatism and big business for whom “every crisis is an opportunity.”

      1. jef

        I find it very disturbing as well as incorrect when people say “anyone who doesn’t wear a mask is killing people”. They are saying the same thing about the vax.

        How about “anyone who doesn’t get rid of their car and stop flying is killing people”.

      2. Katniss Everdeen

        You do have to wonder how people think things will go, should tens of millions of americans resist various biden/harris “mandates” and policy “initiatives.” Do they really think that appeals to “patriotism” made in hushed, conciliatory tones, and preceded by the already nauseating “Look” will continue forever? harris, after all, thought jailing parents of california truants was a “reasonable” approach to solving the minority “education crisis,” or so the story goes.

        I’d say that the “impulse toward authoritarianism” significantly predates this current “emergency.” The situation is remarkably similar to the adoption of the “patriot” act, which languished on the shelf longing for a problem to solve prior to the fortuitous catastrophe of 9/11.

        Lotta holes springing in american society’s dike these days that will require innovative, “unprecedented” solutions. Defying death by covid seems tailor-made to show us the way “forward.”

    2. Pavel

      I predict that in a few years it will be widely understood that the lockdowns coupled with the enabling and acceptance (by the “liberal media”) of widespread censorship and de-platforming of dissenting voices are doing more harm than the virus itself.

      In South Australia they wanted to ban taking dogs for a walk and going for exercise (until there was enormous outcry).

      I do not understand this bizarre obsession with Covid “risk”. If we applied it elsewhere, nobody would drive (risk of fatal accident), nobody would take medicines (risk of serious or fatal side effect), nobody would undergo an operation (risk of surgical or anaesthetic mishap)… etc etc etc.

      Remember the (justifiable) outrage about mass school shootings in the USA? According to Covid Logic parents should never send their kids to school.

      All this madness based on PCR tests and “positive” rates in populations. These tests may be seriously flawed.

      Fauci himself stated in a podcast [16 July 2020, “This Week in Virology” Episode 641] that if PCR tests are run for more than say 35 cycles they produce too many false positives. A lot of covid PCR tests are run for 40 cycles, as the NYT states:

      One solution would be to adjust the cycle threshold used now to decide that a patient is infected. Most tests set the limit at 40, a few at 37. This means that you are positive for the coronavirus if the test process required up to 40 cycles, or 37, to detect the virus.

      Tests with thresholds so high may detect not just live virus but also genetic fragments, leftovers from infection that pose no particular risk — akin to finding a hair in a room long after a person has left, Dr. Mina said.

      Any test with a cycle threshold above 35 is too sensitive, agreed Juliet Morrison, a virologist at the University of California, Riverside. “I’m shocked that people would think that 40 could represent a positive,” she said.

      A more reasonable cutoff would be 30 to 35, she added. Dr. Mina said he would set the figure at 30, or even less. Those changes would mean the amount of genetic material in a patient’s sample would have to be 100-fold to 1,000-fold that of the current standard for the test to return a positive result — at least, one worth acting on.

      Officials at the Wadsworth Center, New York’s state lab, have access to C.T. values from tests they have processed, and analyzed their numbers at The Times’s request. In July, the lab identified 872 positive tests, based on a threshold of 40 cycles.

      With a cutoff of 35, about 43 percent of those tests would no longer qualify as positive. About 63 percent would no longer be judged positive if the cycles were limited to 30.

      In Massachusetts, from 85 to 90 percent of people who tested positive in July with a cycle threshold of 40 would have been deemed negative if the threshold were 30 cycles, Dr. Mina said. “I would say that none of those people should be contact-traced, not one,” he said.

      [emphasis added]

      Your Coronavirus Test Is Positive. Maybe It Shouldn’t Be. (29 Aug 2020)

      Jesus wept. Destroying lives, families, education, small businesses… based on false positives.

    3. Fireship

      Bad news conspiracy nuts: The police were searching for someone else in the same apartment block. As usual, zerohedge are full of sht. From journalist Stefan Raven’s site:

      “Heute erreichte uns Auskunft der Berliner Generalstaatsanwaltschaft. Diese bestätigte, dass gegen Dr. Noack kein Verfahren geführt wird. “Der Polizeieinsatz fand anlässlich der Fahndung nach einer anderen Person statt”.”

      1. drexciya

        That doesn’t negate the fact that a really really bad law was passed in Germany, which is identical to a similar bad law in The Netherlands, which enables the politicians to push through measures, which are completely against the normal laws.

        Under the guise of Covid-19, politicians have been going on a power trip, and by using fear, lots of people welcome it. Also, the mainstream press has been an active accomplice in all of this.

        Call me a conspiracy nut as many times you like, but I’m getting a very bad feeling with this obvious power grab, and total lack of accountability. Democracy has effectively been put on hold in this crisis, and lots of people seem to be fine with it. This is way more scary than Covid-19.

        1. MyFunnyIdeas

          I second that emotion. What’s happening in the Netherlands is to use an archaic term: evil. This law has nothing to do with public health and everything to with an authoritarian power grab concocted by instilling fear in a cowed population. Angst is een slechte raadgever.

  3. PlutoniumKun

    Coronavirus: Facebook accused of forcing staff back to offices BBC

    I’ve friends who work for a FB contractor here, and they say there is a mass exodus outward – to TicToc, who apparently pay far more for the same work with better conditions. To be fair to FB, during the first lockdown they kept their staff on full wages despite most being on part time hours. But I do know there is deep resentment among their workers at being told to go back to the office, even though they are being given taxis, free parking, etc., if they ask for it. I think they may change their tune if they find they just can’t recruit on the wages they offer. I’m told Twitter pay a lot better too.

    1. a different chris

      It’s so comical (in a bitter way) that all these on-line companies need a physical presence from their workers.

      Me, I think it’s just Authoritarianism in a Libertarian mask.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Yes, its amazing at just how many worker bees are needed to keep those systems working. Its good news for liberal arts folks as it now seems that these companies hire as many people for language and cultural skills as coding. Nearly every one of the people I know here who works for FB, Google, Twitter or Yahoo have their jobs because of a second or third language fluency.

        But yes, the irony of these workers having to sit in old fashioned offices isn’t lost at all on those workers. Its a pity none of them seem to have the wit to go for another old fashioned solution – joining a Union.

      2. Procopius

        It’s good to remember that Adam Smith was a Professor of Moral Philosophy. He pointed out in Book III, Chapter 2, “The pride of man makes him love to domineer, …”

    2. josh

      I have been receiving increasingly desperate recruiter emails for Facebook. I suspect their reputation with the established professional crowd is in tatters, and the more naive college grads are gravitating toward newer and shinier things like TikTok.

  4. timbers

    As Michael Pettis points out, the RCEP members are all net exporters. So who buys the goods?

    Honestly – and this is just based on a quick internet search – the net importers in order are: US, UK, Brazil, Canada, India, France.

    But the figures for the US so dwarf the rest the list as might as well read something like: US, US, US, UK*

    *and and a few others, too.

    So it’s almost like RCEP is a list of nations US companies like Apple can move their plants in China from in the event matters require them do so, and that’s not going to help bring US jobs back. And those jobs can be back brought if there were actual US policy to do so.

    Also, IMO noting RCEP are all export nations just may diminish the importance of the agreement because it could help China reduce what imports from the US it does already have. Though agriculture is hard for it to get around probably.

    1. Mel

      This is the core idea in Michael Hudson’s Super Imperialism: The Origin and Fundamentals of U.S. World Dominance. Following the World Wars, the U.S. had cornered the world’s gold and had little choice but to be a buyer; nobody else could afford to be. Being the sole buyer gave the U.S. the power to dictate terms of trade. The ingenious part was after 1971, when U.S. had spent the gold on foreign military actions of its own. After gold convertibility ended, U.S. restructured the IMF and World Bank around the idea that U.S. fiat needn’t be spent and that US$ deposits could be considered long-term assets, and the U.S. could continue to be a purchaser.
      So yes, the RCEP members are mostly net exporters. In the current dispensation, the American Century, almost every small country is. There is the possibility that the RCEP could transform that situation into a situation of balanced trade. A possibility.

      1. Wukchumni

        Following the World Wars, the U.S. had cornered the world’s gold and had little choice but to be a buyer; nobody else could afford to be

        Yes, we had about 80% of all that glitters from WW1 onwards, and the Europeans?

        So broke after the first war and in debt up to their necks to us, that most of them were on a de facto non gold standard after 11/11/18 and didn’t issue monetized gold coins (they all did before the war) in the interim period. between wars.

        Heck, most of them couldn’t even issue coins made out of silver, that’s how bare the cupboard was.

        The situation is completely different now, with i’d say the 4 main players being India, China, Russia & Iran, while we’re out of the picture. (that is unless 400 ounce gilt tungsten bars come into financial vogue)

  5. The Rev Kev

    “‘China’s corridor bridges: heritage buildings over water’ — superb paper on the extraordinary timber and masonry ‘lángqiáo’ of Southeast China ”

    Bridges of Madison County – eat your heart out. And I thought that the Ponto Vecchio in Florence was mind blowing-

    You look at amazing, working structures like this and you wonder what else there is out in the world that would take your breath away if you could go and see it.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Yes, there is something about bridges that bring out the best in humans. Even the most humble arch bridge can be gloriously beautiful, as well as representing great engineering. Many Roman bridges are still fully functional. There are thousands of stone arch bridges around Ireland which have never been touched in hundreds of years, but happily carry modern HGV’s without a problem. Many were built by local builders without any architecture or engineering training, but they will still be carrying vehicles when modern concrete and steel buildings have rotted away.

      I’ve a particular fondness for the iron bridges of the West Midlands canals in England built in the late 18th Century. These were mass produced as kits in the 18th Century, and were purely functional, and yet they are both engineering marvels and wonderfully elegant.

      1. vlade

        There’s still quite a few Bailey bridges around too, I used to live round a corner of one. They are not beautiful in classical sense, but I still like them a lot as an example of great unpretentious engineering.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          I think Bailey Bridges are a bit of an acquired taste – I was involved many years ago in a tussle between engineers and architects over building one in a Kent town over a series of railway lines. The engineers (and cost accountants) loved the simplicity of a truss structure, the architects hated it. The engineers won. As a Dubliner, having to live for years with the horrible Loop Line Bridge, I sympathised with the architects.

            1. a different chris

              Come to the US and, when you go back you will hug the first bridge you see, even if it is a Bailey.

              We lay down the biggest beams we can find and pour concrete over them. Arches? What’s that?

              1. PlutoniumKun

                I wish I had a photo to hand, but there is a spot under the infamous Spaghetti Junction motorway intersection in Birmingham, England where you can stand and see an 18th Century iron canal bridge, and early 19th Century railway arch (both elegant), a steel truss bridge from the later 19th Century (ugly as hell), with 1960’s concrete structures overflying them all. Its hard, from that perspective, not to think that we’ve gone backwards.

                The concrete structure btw requires constaint ongoing maintenance to stop it falling apart. The earliest two scarely require anything but an occasional visual check.

      2. Janie

        Conde McCullough, the Oregon state bridge engineer in the twenties and thirties, designed beautiful arched bridges. Many are still in use, mainly on the coast. Pics on the web…

    1. Maxwell Johnston

      Nice catch: thanks for posting. “Fluency in Russian is preferred.” The fact that fluency is only ‘preferred’ and not a requirement pretty much says it all about the quality of the NYT’s ‘reporting’ from Russia.

      1. polecat

        I would much prefer fluency in accuracy and truth in reporting the ‘news’ … rather than the transparency of megaphonic propagada.

        A bridge too far, I know .. but still.

    2. pjay

      Thanks for this. Just the slightest of hints about what the applicant’s editorial position should be. No Stephen Cohens need apply.

      I wonder who wrote this ad?

    3. Geo

      They should hire Matt Taibbi. He’s got experience reporting in Russia and is an acclaimed journalist. Would bring a lot of value to their tarnished brand.

      Oh, what’s that? He doesn’t buy into the Russiagate narrative? Oh. Not qualified then!

    4. Oh

      The winner will be selected based on how many times they can chant “Russia, Russia, Russia” without taking a breath.

  6. PlutoniumKun


    Three EU countries call on Commission to step up no-deal Brexit preparations Politico

    Brexit Britain Collides With Irish Soft Power in Washington Bloomberg

    Keeping track of the Brexit negotiations is a bit head spinning at the moment. Even the most reliable commentators are contradicting themselves on an almost daily basis. The last ‘real’ date for ratification has probably passed (some argue that the middle of next week is the last practical date), but it seems the EU is exploring the idea of an ‘interim’ ratification if there is an agreement even up to 31 December. In other words, they will fudge something to prevent a no-deal if at all possible, and are determined that it will be the UK that pulls the plug if the talks collapse, they will stay at their desks until the last hour if needed.

    But negotiations seem to have pretty much stopped. The key issue is the ‘level playing field’ for regulations and enforcement. The EU will not move on this, so the UK must concede – anything else, including fisheries, can be fudged on way or another.

    There are rumours that Johnson will shake hands on whatever deal is on the table next Tuesday. The EU may, or may not, make some concessions to give him political cover, but they certainly will not be on anything substantial. As always with Johnson, he’ll make a decision based on the last person he talks to at the last minute. No doubt there is a massive fight going on around no.10 to be that last person.

    In the meanwhile, its pretty clear that a number of members states (and the Commission) are assuming that no-deal has a high likelihood. There are lots of on-the-ground activities from Rotterdam to the Irish border. But if there is a no-deal, expect panic buying in UK shops (and maybe elsewhere) in late December. It will put supply chains under enormous strain. Its already reported that there is virtually no warehouse storage space available in the UK for companies hoping to stockpile for early 2021.

    As for the Bloomberg article, there are rumours that Biden wants Ireland to be his first port of call as POTUS, and will ignore the UK. Ireland is now the last English speaking country (unless you count Malta) in the EU. This is possibly one reason why the UK just announced a huge rise in defence spending – a very expensive way of trying to get back into Washingtons good books.

    1. David

      The British have been haunted, ever since joining the EC fifty years ago, by the fear that too close a connection to Europe would undermine the links thy have with the US. In my experience, this fear was exaggerated, but it was very real, because if it wanted to the US could cut off cooperation on certain specific strategic technologies, which would cause huge problems for the British. This is why the British consistently tried to stop, or at least slow down, moves to some kind of independent European defence capability over so many years. It could have happened differently, because on the one hand the British could have opted for the French model of transatlantic cooperation based on simple mutual-self interest, without any particular warmth, but that’s not how the British do things. On the other hand they could (also) have taken a leading role in Europe defence issues, since apart from France they are the only other European nations with any real, usable defence capability.

      But as often, London wanted two irreconcilable things: the benefits of being a close ally of the US, and the economic advantages of European integration, without at the same time allowing Europe to develop a security identity that would potentially be a competitor to NATO. They have spent the last thirty years in an impossible balancing act which was always going to come to an end one day, and has now done so. In the process, they have salami-sliced the military again and again, rendering much of it effectively unusable: thus the current increase. The British now risk having forces that are very expensive but nonetheless too small and weak to maintain their position with the US, whilst being frozen out of European fora as well. This, though, has very much been the spirit of the post-Cold War era; trying to keep all the balls in the air at once, postponing choices and hoping something will turn up. Britain risks the double whammy of being estranged from Europe whilst simultaneously losing influence in Washington. It takes real political talent to do that.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Maybe one day I’ll trademark my personal theory that you can tell more about a countries true strategic interests from what it spends its military budget on than any other type of metric or analysis. According to my theory, the UK is hopelessly confused and conflicted on what it sees as its future role in the world, but for sure knows that it needs aircraft carriers, no matter how small and useless.

        1. David

          In recent generations, the British have tried to retain military capabilities that would allow them to have some influence over the US. The decision not to replace Ark Royal as a fixed wing aircraft carrier (immediately regretted of course when the Argentines invaded the Falklands) not only reduced this influence, it enabled the French (who have a fixed-wing carrier) to steal a march, since they frequently exercise with the US. With the current generation it would frankly have made more sense either to go for a genuine fixed-wing capability, and so a genuine capability for power projection, or just get out of the game altogether. Typically, the British have managed to get the worst of both worlds.

  7. Amfortas the hippie

    perusing interfluidity while waiting for y’all to wrangle your software(i do not envy you this—Solidarnosc!)
    a link in one of those…from september, but a very hopeful thing, as far as “taking back the demparty”:

    the Texdems are that way…distant, oblivious(especially to us hicks out here. it’s like they’re afraid of rednecks, or something)…during the teabilly era, they sometimes didn’t have a working phone or email(or they were ignoring me,lol).
    not sure if or how the rhode island method would work in Texas, but it looks like something worth trying in other places.

  8. timbers

    US Treasury refuses to extend some of Fed’s crisis-fighting tools FT

    “I was personally involved in drafting the relevant part of the legislation and believe the Congressional intent as outlined in Section 4029 was to have the authority to originate new loans or purchase new assets (either directly or indirectly) expire on December 31, 2020,” Mnuchin said in a letter to Fed Chair Jerome Powell.

    Remarkable that of all the things the Fed expresses outrage, it’s this?

    So the Fed might lose one of the “tools” in it’s “tool box” to make the rich, richer, that give it cart blanch to buy up the assets of the super rich, when those assets are worthless (or not). The horror. But wouldn’t be surprised it this gets reincarnated by Team Biden.

    How will the rich old men and a few rich women at the Fed be able to stop us from bailing out the rich and parasitical financial industry? Maybe instead of just keeps interest rates for savers at zero forever, the Fed can use it’s proposed digital bank plan and just TAKE those savings (“and…IT’S GONE”) and give them to their rich friends and cut Wall Street out of the equation? So much more efficient.

    And as Powell himself said a few days ago, taking money from savers via zero interest rates helps the poor and low income by saddling them up with more and more debt. Never mind it’s only the rich and Wall Street and corporations that get those near zero rates while the working poor never see the low rates of ZIRP.

    1. a different chris

      My daughter just bought a >10yrs old vehicle. It was a fight to get the interest rate below 10%. No that is not a typo.

      1. zagonostra

        I read somewhere, I think a Michael Hudson article, that some credit card companies charge near 30% interest. You would think that there would be some usury laws in place to prohibit any rate that outrageous. We are in the late stages (I hope) of predatory capitalism.

    2. Upwithfiat

      the Fed can use it’s proposed digital bank plan and just TAKE those savings

      And you prefer being enslaved to a private bank cartel instead?

      Besides, citizens should be allowed to use their Nation’s fiat FOR FREE up to reasonable limits with no such exemption for the banks, large users and foreigners. Those can help fund an EQUAL Citizen’s Dividend instead of welfare proportional to account balance on inherently risk-free assets.

  9. Krystyn Podgajski

    RE: Why I Hope to Die at 75

    I just watched a horror movie called “Midsommar” where this was the premise. Seriously.

    These people are horrific technocrats and I do not want to live in a world with them. “By the time I reach 75, I will have lived a complete life.” What? how doe she know that? Maybe he already lived a complete life? Or maybe he will be needed when he is 85?

    Funny thing is he will most likely live till he is 90 because he is rich so he has the pleasure of making such stupid statements. He probably has good health care and a low stress life. The “incapacitated older people” he speaks of are the working poor and are suffering well before 75.

    And he talks about “Healthcare” and not health. Yeah, these people are trying anything to feel better because our healthdontcare systems is horrible. Talking about health in technocratic terms like “how far you can walk”, really? What about the wisdom you have, or the spare time you have to watch grandchildren?

    Emanuel makes the mistake in a change in ability to a decline in abilities. If I ever saw him I would punch him in him perfect teeth.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      wife likes horror movies, i do not…figgering that there’s enough of that in the real world.
      and isn’t this emmeanuel the brother of that other one?
      my wires may be tangled.

      alzo, I’m curious to learn how your trek through West Texas went. i live on the eastern edge of all that, and have only rarely had the time/money to roam around out that way.

      1. Krystyn Podgajski

        I d o not like horror movies either, and it was not really as great as the person who recommended it to me mad it out to be, but he insisted.

        I clocked 700 miles from Glidden, TX and slept at the Las Cruces Overlook. Pretty scenic and smooth ride.I always seem to feel better when i get past the Mississippi.

        I don’t have the money for much sight seeing, just trying to live and not break down, which seems to be happening too much. Lost my brakes in Tuscon yesterday. See below. Good times…

      2. Pat

        Yes Zeke is brother to Rahm. They have another who is a notorious agent in Hollywood. (He had his fingers in a lot of the “improvements” in how agencies operate, that allow clear conflicts of interest, nothing matters except enrichment of the partners.)

      3. Jonhoops

        Midsommar is not your typical horror movie. It mostly takes place in bright summer daylight.

        It sort of reminded me of The Wickerman but not as dreary, a happy upbeat summery horror.

      1. jonboinAR

        Anyone hear the story about “The Colonel” in later years after he’d sold the chicken franchise? They had him try some, obviously figuring he’d cooperate. He said “This stuff is terrible!” They sued him. (May be apocryphal).

    2. a different chris

      What’s really sad is that *I* don’t want to fall apart either, and every year I look in the mirror and despair.

      BUT: my kids, now adults, will miss me. If they have to feed me oatmeal and wipe my butt they would rather do that than say goodbye.

      I am going to find a fair median between self-sufficiency and the above, but it is really telling that Mr. Emmanual considers no feelings except his own. However, to be fair I suspect if he did he might find the vote to be closer to 70 than 75.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        i had a bad wreck at 20, learned to walk again and to muscle through the pain to work my tail off for 12 years, until it caught up to me and i became A Cripple.
        37 and it all caught up to me enough to “Retire”…43 i finally got a hip(!).
        doc said when i was 40 that my skeleton looked like that of a 70 year old man.
        one learns to adapt, as best one can(i get more done out here before noon, than most people i know get done all day)
        bruxist tenacity will likely shorten my time here, but what else is there, besides staring at the tv? I learned to loathe just laying there during the 6 1/2 years it took to get the hip.
        i figure when the time comes…to be determined my me, alone…i’ll wander off into the hills like Buffalo Hump or Old Lodge Skins*, with a waterproof note for the justice of the peace, explaining that I, myself, dumped my carcass way out there for the critters,lol….no foul play, etc.


      1. Harold

        Michelangelo working on St Peter’s Dome at time of his death at 88 (it was substantially finished & construction started when he died.)

        1. Wukchumni

          We watched & listened to Earl Wild playing piano @ the Hollywood Bowl when he was in his early 90’s, and so masterfully.

      2. lambert strether

        In the colophon to this work, Hokusai writes:
        From the age of six, I had a passion for copying the form of things and since the age of fifty I have published many drawings, yet of all I drew by my seventieth year there is nothing worth taking into account. At seventy-three years I partly understood the structure of animals, birds, insects and fishes, and the life of grasses and plants. And so, at eighty-six I shall progress further; at ninety I shall even further penetrate their secret meaning, and by one hundred I shall perhaps truly have reached the level of the marvellous and divine. When I am one hundred and ten, each dot, each line will possess a life of its own.[27]

    3. Oh

      I felt it was a pretty balanced article. He specifically said that he didn’t wish to impose his views on others and he certainly didn’t say that 75 was a definite cutoff. Personally, I subscribe to his opinion on not getting treatments to extend his life and only restricting it to palliative procedure. I feel that I should be a burden to my children or spouse in my older age. Most Americans want “more” and this includes their life expectancy.

  10. FreeMarketApologist

    What it took to investigate a suspicious town in the Mojave Desert

    My great grandfather bought a couple acres of land over 100 years ago in what was then way outside of the limits of Los Angeles. When I was a kid it was something of the family joke, but when it was sold late in my mother’s life, it paid for a kitchen remodel (by then she had only 1/16 share).

    I purchased 3 lots of land in NM from a co-workers parent, who, 50 years ago, had similarly believed Horizon Land Company’s pitch that ‘this dry barren desert will be valuable some day’. I got it for virtually nothing, and pay almost nothing per year in taxes. When I’m gone the lots will go to my nephews, and they’ll pass them on to their kids, and maybe the kids of those kids will also get a new kitchen when they sell them off.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Ten years ago I was cycling on the Great Divide trail through Colorado and came across a similar area south of the town of Fairplay – an area of arid high plain that for many miles had been set out in a herringbone pattern of rough tracks. Apparently someone decided it would be a great place for a new city and set out all the blocks, but so far as I could see only about half a dozen houses had been built over an area of many square miles (you can see the pattern on google view). Each road had its own cutsy name. The obvious problem for living up there was its extreme isolation – many hours drive from anything approaching a town, and a probable extreme shortage of water.

    2. PlutoniumKun

      I wrote a reply to this but it seems to have vanished into the ether…

      In short, I saw something similar 10 years ago when cycling along the Great Divide Trail in Colorado. In a very arid upland plain, someone had laid out a vast area for development. Dozens of rough roads were given cutsy names, but few if any houses had been built. The land was certainly cheap though – but I wonder where anyone got water.

      You can see the extent of the area on google view – its between the towns of Como and Fairplay, not far from the NM border.

      1. crittermom

        My home of 20 years (that was stolen by the banksters) was 12 miles from the tiny town of Como, to the east. I’m very familiar with the area and land is no longer cheap there, nor is it now unpopulated.

        It’s not close to the NM border, however. Hartsel is the geographical center of Colorado.
        I lived between Como & Hartsel. Twelve miles from each.

        But it is heavily treed where I lived, with a huge aquafer under the valley.
        I’m very familiar with the area and it is now so expensive I cannot afford to move back there.

        Hence, I’m stuck renting in the San Luis Valley, which is the coldest environment in the winter, hottest in the summer, dustiest, with the worst winds I’ve ever encountered, of any place I’ve ever lived.

        South Park is an oasis by comparison!

        1. PlutoniumKun

          That is interesting, its such a beautiful area, although my main memory of Hartsel is getting food poisoning in the only bar that seemed to have been open. The food must have been hanging around in their fridge for months, they didn’t seem to have any customers for anything that wasn’t beer. Close to the ski resorts is of course super expensive. You are right of course about it not being newer the NM border, I was thinking in cycling terms – its all down hill to Salida and onwards, so it felt much closer :-)

  11. Louis Fyne

    today’s misleading headline of the day: “South Korea daily COVID-19 cases highest since August; nationwide infections feared Reuters”

    In a country of 50+ million Korea’s daily count exceeded…300. three hundred. All without shutdowns.

    So what isn’t every state (and American) just copying everything that the Koreans are doing? (lots of testing, temp checks in public buildings, etc.)

    (to the extent possible…as their concept of privacy, social cohesion, trust in government is very different from USAers’)

    1. Carla

      … to the extent possible, as [S. Korea] has a functioning health system, which you have to have in order to initiate and sustain a functioning public health program.

      USians have neither.

      1. polecat

        That’s because the demarcation of adequate and efficacious healthCARE stops at the clay feet of Congrease!

    2. PlutoniumKun

      Yes, its misleading, but the Koreans are still quite worried it seems – the trend is upwards, and heading for winter (cold and dry usually), there is a chance that they could lose control. But still, they are in a vastly better situation than most other countries, and I don’t doubt they will get the better of it. The one fear is that the huge evangelical church networks there don’t co-operate, they are very anti-government.

      1. Phillip Cross

        300 cases grows fast once it’s out there!

        It’s interesting to note that back on March 12th 2020, when the US was officially on 0 daily cases, a Senator from Vermont called Bernard Sanders stuck his neck out and predicted US deaths from Covid19 would be on the scale of WW2 (~400,000), and suggested the response should be equivalent to fighting a major war.

        Of course he was roundly criticized from both sides of the aisle for being so alarmist.

        I would love to read the briefings he was receiving at that time, because the most recent IHME projections for deaths from Covid19 in the US is 470,000+ by March 12 2021. #precient.

    3. anon y'mouse

      it is misleading to say “without lockdown”. did they do a government mandated closure of everything? no, but neither did we, really.

      they closed many places though. including schools, some offices, clubs, etc. they “locked down” by incentives and suggestions rather than mandate, and offered a LOT more support for both individuals and businesses to do so.

      and i bet they had better compliance than what i saw during the “lockdown” here, where everyone decided to have a family barbecue and thus needed to go grocery shopping (in groups, no less). not to mention the staggered and incomplete nature of our “lockdown”, where some states were not even closed when others were coming out of “lockdown”.

      this word is problematic because it is being used to imply some clear separation, when many of these countries “without” lockdown are or have shut many of the same things that were closed here.

      which means many of those using it are doing so for propaganda purposes rather than understanding what the real differences in cracking the COVID nut require.

      lockdown could have worked, if our government was prepared to use it as an opportunity to launch itself into amending its deficits, provided full support to individuals and companies, and did it in such a way that hotspots could be revealed and addressed.

      instead, like everything else we do for the actual citizens in this country, we did it half-arsed and barely at all, whining and resisting the entire time. meaning, the lockdown we had (which was barely in effect, from where i sat) did not serve the purpose and was a waste, whereas the “non lockdown” the Koreans had (which closed many of the same things) did work because they DID address the core issues of Testing–Track/Trace–Quarantine and most of all clear info provided to the public.

      so please do not try to use “lockdown” as a target word to claim apples and oranges, when the real issue is much deeper than that. it misleads.

  12. Krystyn Podgajski

    Hey ArizonaSlim,

    I am in Tucson but having a hell of a time. I was driving down Mt. Lemmon when my right front brake almost caught on fire. Had to go the last 20 miles down in low gear. Took forever. Then after making an appointment at a brake shop and searching for a place to park for the night, a wrong way driver crashed head on into a car in the lane right next to me. I just kept driving. That was too much for my PTSD. I meant to look for you in the comments yesterday but…

    I think I am headed to Prescott today to escape this mini heat wave after getting my brakes checked out at a place on E Tanque Verde Rd this morning. But here is my e mail just in case: podgajski at protonmail dot com

  13. The Rev Kev

    ‘EU leaders clash over Hungary and Poland budget veto”

    When I read this I thought that it was a matter of Poland and Hungary playing hard to get but watching a story on the news about it changed my mind completely. I had an Admiral Ackbar moment when I realized that “It’s A Trap!” The EU could have simply put forward their budget and coronavirus rescue package, everybody would have voted for it, and then everybody could have gone home to implement it but no. The EU decided to add a rider to it. It went like this-

    ‘All member states must uphold democratic standards to access the EU’s billion-euro emergency coronavirus relief package and budget. The bloc also agreed to impose sanctions on nations that fail to apply the rule of law.’

    So how does that work out in practice. Well, just after passing it, the EU tells Hungary, Poland and Slovenia that there will be 200,00 muslim refugees being shipped to them – many without original documentation – and that as they signed that measure they now have no possibility of refusing now – or else. That new rule of law mechanism allows for only a qualified majority to pass as well. To me, that is like a bill being passed in the US that says only a population majority needs to have a bill to pass nationally and States like California, New York, Texas & Florida says yep, sounds like a good idea to us. In short, its a power grab by the EU.

    1. vlade

      Nope. The EU is changing its tune on refugees, and the problem is not that they want to put zillions of them to Poland and Hungary. In reality, Poland and Hungary combined took in way less refugees than Germany did, and the flow of refugees is a trickle of what it was few years ago (and I’d point out that ME wars that created most of them were not of the EU’s making – unlike Libya).

      But Poland and Hungary are WAY more xenophobic than even Germany is. A lof of the post-communist countries claim not to be racist. That’s true in the narrow sense that a community of a close to single ethincity is not racist. A friend of mine (an Aussie) was beaten by Polish thugs for his Med looks. A black friend of mine working on some volunteering program in northern CZ stopped going to a pub there, because she was stared at every time she went there. Vietnames in the CZ are accepted as hard working, but still looked at as a second class citizens.

      Orban openly plays the race (defined by him as “Hungarian”, so realy ethnicity based, not that it stopped nationalist in the Europe ever) card with his neighbors, with a clear with to redraw Trianon borders if at all possible (unlike Germans, Hungarians weren’t entnically cleansed from various territories post WW2, or at least not as dramatically).

      The EU is a club. It’s far from a perfect club, but if Poland and Hungary don’t want to go with the rules, they can leave (as the UK did), nobody’s forcing them to stay. Yes, I know that the rules are applied inconsistently, but the “you can leave” still applies.

      But Poland and Hungary are – at the moment – recipients of tens of billions of EUR/year, never mind their exports are pretty much EU bound (>80% each). So their governments want their cake (I make the distinction from populace, as in their populations, the EU is popular), while not playing by the rules. TBH, I’d really like the EU to get the guts to chuck some states out – you don’t like it? Well, here’s the door, thank you very much, come back when you can follow the rules.

      On that basis, quite a few countries should not have been admitted in the first place.

      1. David

        My first attempt not only disappeared into a back hole, it seemed to crash the site. Sorry.
        I was just saying that none of this was understood during the mad rush for enlargement. The fact is that the political forces that were held down under Communism were, for the most part, not very nice, especially in Hungary and Poland. The fantasy that these countries would rapidly turn into countries like Sweden was one of the greatest delusions of European enlargement, and that’s saying something.

        1. Oh

          I think the EU was formed to exploit cheaper labor from the countries that used to belong to the eastern Soviet bloc with the biggest beneficiary being Germany. It was sold as “no more wars” between neigbors.

          1. Clive

            William Waldegrave’s speech from nearly 40 years ago is as valid today as it was then:×900

            Those propagandising EU membership to their people rarely communicate exactly what it entails. Usually, it’s sold as just a free trade area, or the, as you say, peace and goodwill to all men guff you mention.

            So it is unsurprising that populations of a country have difficulties adjusting to EU citizenry. They’re never told, except obliquely and piecemeal, what they’re expected to put up with.

        1. Wukchumni

          I was soaking @ Arizona hot springs just off the Colorado River about a decade ago just with a coterie of Polish-Americans who were all fairly recent immigrants, and asked if any of them were ‘Polish Plumbers’ and almost as if on cue, they all pointed to one another and said ‘he is’, ha ha.

      2. Clive

        How Romania ever got in is still a complete mystery to me. It’s not the U.K. (NI) border the Commission should be worried about, it’s Romania’s. It leaks like a sieve. With a big hole in it.

    2. timbers

      Guess EU is getting ready for more refugees so Biden can restart some of our forever wars like in Syria. How thoughtful of them.

    3. Irrational

      This was at the demand of the European Parliament, whose assent is also needed to pass the budget. Complicated politics.

  14. YY

    re Tucker Sidney item. Fox is stuck in a weird twilight zone of adhering to the new pro Biden agenda and the reluctance of their star performers to go along with it. So the complaint about Sidney would be Tucker:s compromise. A more interesting issue is that it is clear that the numbers are truly strange and compelling as to fraud, except that it requires detailed record of data. Otherwise it becomes a theoretical mathematical exercise, requiring numerical expertise, not necessarily an area that the lawyers (and judges) are comfortable in and raising interesting questions as to admissibility of what may appear hypothetical calculations. It would all be solved if the servers had good history and the data were accessible by other than the spooks who may be holding them hostage for the time being.

    1. marym

      That weird twilight zone between submitting charges, evidence and testimony under oath in a court of law, and stuff people say on social media.

      1. fresno dan

        November 20, 2020 at 9:42 am

        Whether it be Hot Air, or National Review, both considered republican and conservative, they are providing detailed, objective analysis showing that Trump conspiracy charges are completely without merit. The fact that one is arguing contrary to one’s own tribe ALONE can’t be used to solely verify the reality of a position, but it does give a lot more credence to the good faith of the person presenting the position. I never once believed that Russia was behind Trump’s election – of course, Trumpists saying Biden was helped by China, or Russia, or Venezuela is Karma…
        And I can’t help but note – if I choose to base my vote on who Putin recommends, that is my business and only shows the poor quality of US candidates.
        Tucker Carlson: A lot of people with impressive sounding credentials in this country are frauds; they have no idea what they’re doing. They’re children posing as authorities, and when they’re caught, they lie and then they blame you for it. We see that every day; it’s the central theme of this show and will continue to be. So, that’s the long way of saying we took Sidney Powell seriously; we have no intention of fighting with her, we’ve always respected her work — we simply wanted to see the details. How could you not want to see them? So we invited Sidney Powell on this show. We would’ve given her the whole hour; we would’ve given her the entire week actually and listened quietly the whole time at rapt attention — that’s a big story. But she never sent us any evidence despite a lot of requests, polite requests, not a page. When we kept pressing, she got angry and told us to stop contacting her. When we checked with others around the Trump campaign, people in positions of authority, they told us Powell has never given them any evidence either, nor did she provide any today at the press conference. Powell did say electronic voting is dangerous, and she’s right — we’re with her there — but she never demonstrated that a single actual vote was moved illegitimately by software from one candidate to another, not one.

        1. OpenthepodbaydoorsHAL

          Why would Powell give any information to Fox? She’s an attorney litigating a case, and Fox is the enemy camp. Meantime it’s almost “put up or shut up time” in the only court that matters, the court of law. So far I’ve only heard personal character counterattacks based on things like streaks of hair dye. Maybe there are perfectly good explanations for truckloads of ballots arriving at 4 in the morning and then being counted in secret, or for Democrat districts where 200% of residents voted. Let’s find out.

    2. pjay

      I’m afraid Sidney tipped her hand when her “release the Kraken” revelation turned out to be – drum roll – a *communist* conspiracy. Apparently Venezuela and China are behind it. A sure signal that this is about keeping the base stirred up, not anything real.

      1. Duke of Prunes

        One of the CTs I’ve heard is that Trump’s team will prove the election fraud, but it will be blamed on China, and not the Dems. This gives everyone a common enemy to unite around, and neither the Rs or Ds will need to fess up to their dirty deeds – supposedly making the election “reversal” and 4 more years of Trump more palatable. They are simply laying the groundwork here. Creative minds at work.

    3. jefemt

      Is there anyone we all collectively would trust to turn over the entire server network, computers, data, ballots? ? General Mattis?

      Jaime Diamon?

      Sam Harris?

      Billy Graham Jr?

      Trump started in on this path 4 years ago, after he filed for re-election in 2020, along came the allegations and hints of fraud, which are as plausible as not.

      Here’s one: dims blew it with electoral college loss in 2016. Hillarity won the popular vote. And electoral was by thin margins.

      4 years of the Big T, and it objectively should not be a surprise that MORE people than in 2016 voted against Trump, AND that the dims focused on the electoral college map and outcome.

      Somewhat reinforced by Trumps down-ticket trouncing of dims.

      Donald, we can’t stomach you….. by an approximate margin of 3% . Get over it.

    4. voteforno6

      A more interesting issue is that it is clear that the numbers are truly strange and compelling as to fraud, except that it requires detailed record of data.

      So, there was clearly fraud, but you don’t have any actual evidence of that? Also, the reason that you don’t have any evidence is that “the spooks may be holding them hostage.” That’s…something.

      If you see some nice gentlemen with medical smocks and butterfly nets, go with them. They’re there to help you.

  15. edmondo

    Biden: “Anyone got another scientist?”

    Doc Zeke: “Everyone should die at 75!”

    Biden: “Hire that guy!”

    Joe is 78 years ancient today. Time for the soyelent green.

    1. Randy G

      Edmondo — I like the way you find nifty solutions to our most indigestible problems.

      Pass the Biden burger, please. All the nutritive value of saw dust.

    2. jef

      The implication is if we don’t lock down everyone over 75 will die.

      It is true that the Covid-19 mortality rate for 75 and older is much higher than the rest of the population it is still around 10 to 12%. The other 89 to 90% of old folks will live and in fact now that we have better prevention and treatment protocols it could be even less.

      By the way the normal mortality rate for 75 and older is always much higher than the rest of the population.

      As many have pointed out if we had a functioning health system all of this suffering and death could be much less than it is now.

  16. rusti

    re: remdesivir.

    Dr. Daniel Griffin has repeatedly pointed out that most of the trials of antiviral drugs were conducted in ways that are contrary to the more recent clinical understanding of the “phases of covid” where the viral phase is just the opening act. A lot of patients who show up to the hospital with COVID are already in the later stages so giving them an antiviral is almost certainly unlikely to help and can possibly hurt. He seems to believe that if it is given very early, around symptom onset, then it can reduce severity of illness.

    1. Cuibono

      that would surely make the manufacturers happy indeed. Why not put it in the water and hope it will work instead?
      oh, no evidence that it works? Never mind

  17. Donald

    Yeah, I don’t think Corbyn should apologize fro the simple reason that he said nothing wrong.

    From what I can see from the other side of the Atlantic, the leading Corbyn critics are largely hypocrites who don’t think Palestinian human rights should take precedence over their feelings ( in the case of fanatical Israel supporters) or their political convenience ( in the case of people who pander to fanatical Israel supporters). They pay lip service to the idea that you can criticize Israel, but don’t want anyone doing it for real. The giveaway is the insistence that Labour adopt the IHRA definition of antisemitism and all if its examples.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      i formed my opinion of israel/palestine when i was 14, after reading Max Dimont’s, “jews god and history”, as well as reviewing the last volume of britannica’s “annals of america”, 1976 edition, which covered the Carter years(which i vaguely remembered experiencing).
      the gist: israel(and the jewish people in general) have a fascinating history, with much to be admired….especially if you totally discount all the other people who live and have lived in that part of the world. …and that the current regime/zeitgeist, back to at least Golda Mier, borders on becoming what they beheld(which is a great tragedy…a lost opportunity…and a High Moral Standing squandered for grubby and greedy ends).
      all that decided to my satisfaction(and reviewed periodically), the zionist fanatics, hasbara, and all the rest gives me hives….and the label of “Antisemite!~” has been tossed around so carelessly and ruthlessly that it is almost counterproductive. Ie: when the Usual zionist fanatics use the term, i generally take it to indicate the opposite.
      the thing with corbyn sure looks thataway.
      a lot like the repeated shameless attempts to cast bernie as a cryptonazi….stupid, nakedly self serving, and meant to cut off support that they couldn’t counter with honest argument.

      1. Clem

        Spilling the beans:

        Donald Trump said the U.S. isn’t involved in the Middle East for oil, but because we “want to protect Israel.”

        “Trump made the comment during a rally in Winston-Salem, N.C. on Sept. 8, when he was bragging about America’s energy independence, which he said Joe Biden would undermine if he gets the White House (minute 47):”

        ‘I like being energy independent, don’t you? I’m sure that most of you noticed when you go to fill up your tank in your car, oftentimes it’s below two dollars. You say how the hell did this happen? Thank you President Trump! Look at your electric bills and everything else– these guys, your electric would go up four, five, six times. The Green New Deal it’s called the Green New Nightmare. While I’m president, America will remain the number one producer of oil and natural gas in the world. We will remain energy independent. It should be for many many years to come. The fact is, we don’t have to be in the Middle East, other than we want to protect Israel. We’ve been very good to Israel. Other than that, we don’t have to be in the Middle East.’ ”

        1. Heruntergekommen Sein

          Since when has Trump’s rambling prevarications been a reliable source of insight? The US’s relationship with the House of Saud goes back further than 1948. Naval power has been good to America. The US started converting her navy from coal-power to diesel fuel in 1910. Coaling stations became obsolete, now an oiler vessel could keep 30+ ships at sea. When power must be projected on other continents: diesel. Accept no substitutes. The US can produce as much Texas Tea as it wants, but none of it is in such a convenient place as the Middle East’s petroleum. Trade routes, sea lanes, Suez Canal. Strategically speaking, China has no good alternatives for resupply by sea other than China’s giant straw to the ME’s milkshake: Pakistan’s Gwadar port. The Silk Road had a good run until haters got their hands on gunpowder, parked themselves at strategic choke points, and became susceptible to bubonic plague.

    2. JTMcPhee

      Would someone please review the bidding on the whole Corbynization noise? What is Corbyn accused of doing?

      Or is this just another British “Red Queen” scream of “Off with his head!”?

      And not that it matters, given the on-the-ground realities, but say again how the “friends of Israel” come to have the essentially unbridled power of censure and censorship all over the planet? That is a very small tail wagging a very large dog.

      How does this kind of power come to be, when the Israel ites are such vast hypocrites and abusers of others, not just by “violating verbal norms” they have imposed on the rest of us, but by killing and burning and running bulldozers through houses and olive groves to facilitate thugs displacing indigens, even the nominal Arab citizens of the “democracy” that Israel is supposed to be? Let alone their history of poking the US hegemon, which Israelis often refer to as Uncle Sucker, in the eye when it suits them, with impunity? As in trying to sink a US Navy ship in international waters in 1967,

    3. Count Zero

      I agree Donald. To apologise for something you haven’t done is to acknowledge your guilt. It’s a classic Catch 22 double bind. You are damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

      Everybody knows that Jeremy Corbyn is being used as an example to anybody else in the Labour Party who might think about challenging traditional party policy towards the Middle East. For most Labour MPs looking forward to a lucrative career in “politics” it must be a chilling example. Everybody knows that Jeremy Corbyn is not an anti-Semite but increasingly even to say that in public in Britain is to make yourself vulnerable to hysterical accusations. It’s a McCarthyite web of lies and accusations that are impossible to rebut.

      And it takes some brass neck for Gordon Brown — complicit in that other vast public lie about WMD that justified British support for the invasion of Iraq — to pipe up at this juncture.

  18. The Rev Kev

    “California Wants Its Imperial Valley to Be ‘Lithium Valley’”

    The first thing I thought of when I read this title was the word ‘pollution’ and maybe California’s attempt to replicate ‘Blade Runner 2049’. To think that the Salton Sea use to be a popular tourist resort back in the 50s and 60s. Millions would go there each and every year for the warm waters. But no more-

    If they start extracting lithium in this area, what is the bet that before long, these industries will say that they need fresh water to make it a success and that California will have to supply them with it at a subsidized cost or else those companies will pack up their lithium mines and find another State to move to. Here is an article of the impact of lithium mining so you can see what to expect in California going forward-

    1. The Historian

      Mining is ugly and earth-raping no matter where it is done. So that begs the question: Is it OK to import lithium and other mining products that we need from third world countries so that we keep our areas pristine – while destroying theirs? And what does that say about those who are against international trade and globalization? What about all the lost mining jobs in this country? Do they compare in any way to all the manufacturing jobs we’ve lost too?

      I don’t have an answer to these questions, but I think we need to make up our minds. Either international trade is good because it allows us to get resources cheaper – while unfortunately causing job loss in this country – or international trade is bad because it causes job losses in this country – even though it protects us from the worst of the environmental harms of resource production. I don’t think you can have it both ways – although we sure do try, don’t we?

      1. jefemt

        Oil patch / oil trash truisms

        You want an omelette, you must break some eggs

        If it wasn’t grown it was mined

      2. Krystyn Podgajski

        I was driving around the Salton Sea last year and I met an elderly woman in a coffee shop and she lamented on how much the Salton Sea had changed. It used to be a place where they would go and enjoy themselves but now she said like everything else, too much humanity.

        but I think we should be getting our resources totally from within our own country. This will make the externalities more real and will also limit consumption because of limited resources.

      3. Darthbobber

        “Either international trade is good because it allows us to get resources cheaper – while unfortunately causing job loss in this country – or international trade is bad because it causes job losses in this country – even though it protects us from the worst of the environmental harms of resource production.”

        It evades me why we would need to have it either way, or why there is anything like a real dichotomy here.

        The alternative to having any trade at all in goods or services that crosses national boundaries would be literal autarky for each nation state. Which poses massive problems even for the handful of nations for whom it is a leas remotely conceivable.

        I’m not aware of any serious debates about trade or globalization that hinge on such a contrived opposition between absolutes. Nor am I able to see how framing discussion in such terms would represent an improvement.

        1. The Historian

          Of course, trade will always exist. The dichotomy comes when countries become dependent on globalization and international trade for their survival. What happens when the trade they depend on ceases because of enviornmental factors, natural disasters, wars, internal rebellions, etc.?

          Some of the things you might consider are what happened to China and Japan – countries that didn’t need trade with Europe but were forced to trade with them anyway after the 1500’s. And for that matter, consider what happened to Japan when the US embargoed them.

          Globalization and international trade has some serious downsides that can cause country and even civilization collapse. Certainly Rome fell partly because trade for needed necessities was diverted. And there was no doubt that the Mediterranean region was thrown into a dark age with many countries collapsing in the 1200-1100’s BC Eric Cline, in his book “1177 BC” states:

          “We have seen that for more than three hundred years during the Late Bronze Age –from about the time of Hatshepsut’s reign beginning about 1500 BC until the time that everything collapsed after 1200 BC –the Mediterranean region played host to a complex international world in which Minoans, Mycenaeans, Hittites, Assyrians, Babylonians, Mitannians, Canaanites, Cypriots, and Egyptians all interacted, creating a cosmopolitan and globalized world system such as has only rarely been seen before the current day. It may have been this very internationalism that contributed to the apocalyptic disaster that Ended the Bronze Age. The cultures of the Near East, Egypt, and Greece seem to have been so intertwined and interdependent by 1177 BC that the fall of one ultimately brought down the others…”

          I think this is a warning we should take seriously.

          If you aren’t aware of any serious debates about trade or globalization then you really haven’t been paying attention. What do you think Brexit or even our opposition to TPP was all about?

          1. Darthbobber

            What I said was: “I’m not aware of any serious debates about trade or globalization that hinge on such a contrived opposition between absolutes.”

            Obviously this is hardly the same thing as saying that I’m not aware of any serious debates about trade or globalization period.

      1. zagonostra

        I wouldn’t want to sully the moon with their likes…it would take terraforming decades to eradicate their stench…still hoping for a Valentine Michael Smith to show up, though it didn’t end well for him did it?

        1. JacobiteInTraining

          But really…in the book, some of those types were undoubtedly ‘transported’ along with the garden variety criminals, vagabonds, and subversives….and if they are unable to adapt they will quite quickly have a p-suit accident, or become some pleasingly greasy stains on the floor somewhere in Tycho Under.

          And some, given the chance…might just become cobbers. Witness Stu LaJoi, nee Stu LaJoi-Davis eh? :)

      2. JacobiteInTraining

        Oh man, that book. Say what you will about Heinlein’s odd politics, that book has been a favorite since I first picked it up as a little kid.

        I still want to be an ice miner on the moon, dossing at Luna City (the bottom-most warrens, that have the seediest taprooms – natch) as I make my way to Novylen via the tube to pick up some more contracts.

        I may not have enough HKD to really get my own farming cubic yet, but thats where i am headed if I work hard enough. Maybe marry into a solid line marriage in HKL, take some side work helping the fam expand their own cubic with the laser drill. Good times.

        Why, even at my age, i could live quite a few more years, and after a hard days work go do some flying.

        Ahhhh….the future I dreamed of as a kid.

      3. Bob Tetrault

        Heinlein was my god as a kid. His backstory and involvement in EPIC for Upton Sinclair underpins my respect for him. Moon Is A Harsh Mistress is a masterpiece, IMNSHO, of humanity, politics, imagination, tech, AI, pathos. And, it foundationed much of his output with sequence.
        I hoist a cup to you, AtH!

    2. GF

      According to the article, the process for extracting the lithium from the brine in quantity hasn’t quite come about yet; however, three companies are working on different techniques.

      70% of the CA Colorado river water allocation (over 3 million acre feet – each acre foot is approx. 325,000 gallons) goes to the Imperial Valley serving Big AG and 180,000 people. The rest of SoCal gets 30% (1.3 million acre feet) for 20,000,000 people. There will be no shortage of water for industry that moves in. They just buy out the farms and water rights.

      Currently the Salton Sea get 100% of its water from pesticide and herbicide polluted AG runoff from the adjacent farms. Wonder why no one goes there to swim anymore.

  19. zagonostra

    I’m curious how the house can get away with making votes “privately” or how they can get away with “voice” votes where you can’t see how your rep votes on an important issue, like the CARES act. The two quotes below, from the Hill are stated with such insouciant declamation. And if it was a vote conducted electronically how can it be a “voice vote,” this is truly Kafkaesque for a putative democracy.

    House Democrats had voted privately to nominate Pelosi (D-Calif.) to serve another two years at the top of a party

    The nomination was secured by voice vote during a process conducted remotely as a health precaution amid a surge in coronavirus cases.

  20. The Rev Kev

    America’s “Wars of Religion””

    If you want a religious war, try the Thirty Years War to show you how bad it can get. There was a film from back in 1971 about this war called “The Last Valley”‘ which was quite good. Here is one scene from that film that this article reminded me of-

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Yes, that article was a reminder of what a real religious war looks like. They always seem to have a particular viciousness and cruelty that goes beyond even old style wars for domination and land.

      Its funny the echoes it leaves many centuries later. A couple of weeks ago a Japanese friend asked me what ‘gurrier’ means, she’d heard someone say it on the street. In Dublin its a old slang term for a tough mischievious boy. It of course somes from the French word for a warrior, and was probably brought to Dublin by Hugenot refugees from France’s religious wars. There is still a big Hugenot graveyard in Dublin (although I don’t think any existing churches identify as Hugenot), and many of the surnames there are still common in Dublin, mostly in very aglicised form.

    2. Geof

      I see strong similarities between the current situation and the lead-up to the English Civil War. It is not good.

      The article on QAnon by the game designer is a must-read. He compares QAnon to religion, one where the believers (players of the game) construct reality by inventing connections between the dots:

      QAnon grows on the wild misinterpretation of random data, presented in a suggestive fashion in a milieu designed to help the users come to the intended misunderstanding. Maybe “guided apophenia” is a better phrase. Guided because the puppet masters are directly involved in hinting about the desired conclusions. They have pre-seeded the conclusions. They are constantly getting the player lost by pointing out unrelated random events and creating a meaning for them that fits the propaganda message Q is delivering.

      I think this applies more broadly. Compare the process he describes with anti-racism. Here is Robin diAngelo:

      All white people benefit from racism, regardless of intentions; intentions are irrelevant. . . . But no one is neutral –to not act against racism is to support racism. Racism must be continually identified, analyzed and challenged; no one is ever done. The question is not ”did racism take place”? but rather “how did racism manifest in that situation?”

      As thinking like this solidifies into dogmas and instiutions, it turns into something very much like religion. This seems to be happening in many places. It suggests the problem of the moment is not particular dogmas and ideologies or specific bad actors (“puppet masters”) who are taking advantage: they are the symptoms, not the disease. Something more fundamental is creating an environment where such things flourish. The death of God? Social media? Political polarization? Deindustrialization? The broken media? The end of empire?

  21. martin horzempa

    Can anyone help me??? Please.
    I do NOT understand why the FDA cannot meet till the 8th of December when the EUA application was sent in today.
    on the same day the headline news reads:
    back of the envelope:
    18 days times > 150,000 new cases per day with a fatality ratio of apparox. 1.5% would mean that another 40,000 or so die waiting for the FDA to issue thier authorization.

    They have the data, Pfizer has made the formal request, the military can ship within 24 hours so what are they waiting for? Are they busy with their holiday decorations? Are they still trying to load and install ZOOM? Wtf?

    1. fresno dan

      martin horzempa
      November 20, 2020 at 10:06 am

      Because applications are hundreds of thousands, if not millions of pages. I remember we got an application that weighed several tons (per copy, and typically a couple dozen paper copies were submitted back in the early 2000’s) and the building that stores applications had to be modified to support the weight. Applications are predominantly submitted by computer now a days, but that has only increased the size of the application as practically every document associated with a drug is submitted. If nobody is going to read the application, what is the point of submitting it?
      Is that much paperwork really necessary?
      To understand why there is so much paperwork, just look at the 737 fiasco. Another federal agency reviews paperwork and pre approves product (airplanes) and than that product falls out of the sky – do you think the amount of testing, validation, and certification and paperwork generated with regard to only one aspect of plane flight, i.e., computer code, is going to decrease after something like that happens? All the design, testing, validation, etcetera proving the increase in quality control of software is going to increase, and the agency is going to demand that such actions be documented with paperwork. And the agency is going to review each and every document.
      I remember that an old hand at FDA told me that the application for the polio vaccine was 8 pages…

      And should mRNA vaccines turn out to be a disaster, there will be few people saying that we have to expect increased risk with faster approvals

    2. JTMcPhee

      Assumes that these products, based on Federal research funded by the government but to be sold at profit, will perform as you expect them to. That math you did, based on that assumption, is unlikely, going by prior experience (VIOXX and swine flu vaccines, off the top of my head), to prove out.

      And there is a hell of a set of supply chain issues in even getting the vaccine manufactured and distributed. Make haste slowly. Far as I can see, and as a person in the high-risk category I am looking hopefully, this is not going to be some magic bullet that will stop the virus once it is finally approved.

      Even if the FDA were to issue an “emergency use authorization” this very hurried minute, without further ado or scrutiny, trusting that the corporations who will be immunized from liability for any “whoopsie” problems with their rent-seeking, “people are gonna get sick and die.” Including all the people who either refuse vaccination and continue the “antisocial” behaviors that are helping spread the disease, or dare to wait until they see what the beta testing produces in terms of risks and benefits.

  22. farragut

    Oh boy. A 2006 article from the NYT about a certain software company & a certain US manufacturer of electronic voting systems and their alleged link to Venezuela & Chavez. And some still refuse to at least entertain the notion of potential election fraud? Given our beloved CIA’s long and rich history of meddling in other countries’ elections and coups, I would find it surprising if one were *not* open to the idea it might occur here in the US? Especially given the intelligence community’s visible disdain of Trump?

    1. lyman alpha blob

      If that company did have ties to Chavez, I might actually feel more confident that they worked properly, since international observers have declared Venezuelan election to be legit many times over the years. Even the NYT says so –

      “There is a clear difference in favor of the government of President Chávez,” former President Jimmy Carter said. Mr. Carter, who heads the Atlanta-based Carter Center, which monitored the election with the Organization of American States, held a joint press conference with the OAS’s secretary general, César Gaviria.

      In the packed conference, shown on national television, the two men explained that the highly accurate “quick counts” their organizations conducted at various polling stations coincided with the outcome released by the Electoral Council.

      The quick counts, used in elections around the world, tally up totals from various polling sites and have a margin of error of 1 percent.

      “We have found the information from the quick count was almost exactly the same as that presented” by the electoral authorities, Mr. Carter said. The Nobel Peace Prize winner has monitored elections in 50 counties. He added that “all Venezuelans should accept the results of the CNE,” the electoral body, “unless there is tangible proof that the reports are incorrect.”

      But to your overall point, there have been numerous anomalies in the US using these machines (take a look at how Chuck Hagel owned a voting machine company and then suddenly started winning elections unexpectedly, as Lambert noted yesterday) and claims of election fraud shouldn’t just be written off forever just because Trump, as unreliable as he is, is the one currently making the claims.

    2. voteforno6


      Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. Right now, those claiming election fraud have produced even less evidence than there is behind Russiagate.

      If there really was election fraud, why didn’t the Democrats try to win a few more Congressional races? It’s hard to believe that they could pull off fraud on such a massive scale, without leaving any trace of it on the one hand, and on the other hand that they could be so incompetent that they forgot to include some of the down-ballot races as well.

      1. lyman alpha blob

        The mantra is Democrats rig the primaries and the Republicans rig the general.

        No Trump, has not provided any evidence as I noted in a couple comments currently in moderation.

        But just because Trump is incompetent, it doesn’t follow that these machines are at all trustworthy.

        The entire DC establishment wants Trump gone, Rs and Ds. My personal theory is that’s why there was no stimulus package prior to the election with another round of checks being sent out – Pelosi and McConnell both hoped that would be enough to sink Trump, and they were quite likely right. But until there is an audit of those machines, and I mean a real one, you will never convince me that they aren’t being manipulated. As I’ve said here many times, I have participated in a hand recount using the optical scanner machines, the supposedly good ones, and those good machines on a good day when there is no reason to suspect fraud don’t count all the vote because I’ve seen it with my own eyes.

      2. JTMcPhee

        Who’s to say, from here in the Matrix, that the results are not exactly what the Deep State (assume arguendo its existence) and the Owners wanted? The reporting on how electronic voting has been “managed” in the past, as I recall, was to the effect that it was most effective at the margins. A divided polity is more “manageable,” as per the Dem whine about “the Repubs didn’t let us do the Change we Hoped for,” while miraculously the military gets more than it asks for and to cuts and regulatory changes and flat-out multi-trillion-dollar gifts benefitting the Squillionaires somehow sail through the legislative process.

        The Dem machinery gets paid (off) no matter the outcome of elections, and they have actively worked to squash any progressive candidates that might somehow form up to challenge the minions of the Looters from within the private corporation known as the Democratic Party.

      3. zagonostra

        The linked article below seems to be well sourced regarding “evidence.” I can’t speak to it, I’m not qualified to make the judgement. I don’t have the time nor capacity to do so. Maybe others can and can debunk it if it seems that what is being stated has any veracity, that would be of great service.

        To me It seems to be a fait accompli that Biden will be the next President and any “evidence,” if there was any, wouldn’t see the light of day.

      4. farragut

        Good questions and I don’t have answers. If you’ll allow me to speculate, I’d say it takes time to conduct a thorough investigation to gain compelling evidence and it’s only been 2 weeks since the election. Also, it’s possible the Dems believed the overly optimistic polling once again, and felt they wouldn’t need to fudge the down ballot results due to all the Blue Wave talk. Who knows? But, in my peanut brain, there certainly appear to be enough oddities in the Presidential results that a deeper look is warranted.

    3. FluffytheObeseCat

      The thing is, until quite recently Trump and his campaign were not at all worried about in-person voting via electronically tallied ballots. They were all up in arms about paper ballots mailed in by urban Democrats. The election fraud issue that arises with unauditable machine counts didn’t matter at all to them. Slandering urban voters with the wrong politics, the wrong ancestry, or the wrong color of skin however……. that was their theme for months. That and picture IDs, which don’t protect the voters from managed miscounts that they cannot see or contest.

      Now that the Republicans are really stuck they’ve begun to talk about machine count fraud. It’s a bit too late, however. It’s obvious that if they’d really believed it was a danger to them they’d have started yapping about it months ago.

      1. flora

        I’m a registered Dem, and I’ve been on this computerized voting dangers bandwagon for a few years now. A lot of US goo-goos (good-government types) are against it as it stands now. And – while I’m commenting on good government infrastructures – bring back the League of Women Voters to host the debates and stop the voter role purges.

      2. farragut

        As lyman alpha blob said above: Trump’s team is many layers of incompetent. Thus, they hollered about the fraud they expected, ignoring another viable form of fraud. Their myopia doesn’t make the electronic voting machine fraud any less real (if, indeed, it did occur).

        1. hunkerdown

          Or, he’s pulling his punches for the camera just like Democrats do for SCOTUS nominees they pretend not to like.

  23. lyman alpha blob

    RE: Dominion voting systems, Trump presser and Tucker comments

    First of all, thank you for noting that Dominion is the result of acquiring other voting companies. I’ve been reading about these machines for a couple of weeks now wondering how Dominion became a major player so quickly when I’d never heard of them before. Not sure why the corporate media can’t provide this important context. I’d known that Diebold was either acquired and or rebranded years ago to get rid of the stink of the name which had become associated with election fraud, but hadn’t been aware of these further mergers. The way these companies responsible for the integrity of our elections are flipped and traded like subpar housing stock in an overheated market doesn’t exactly give one more confidence in their accuracy.

    The reason Powell can’t provide any evidence to Carlson is not necessarily because there is none, but because I doubt anyone on the Trump team can be bothered to look. I’m not even sure Trump wants to be president again. Obama pissed Trump off years ago by making fun of him at one of those DC backslappers and I think he got revenge and proved his point by sticking a fork in both the Bushes and Clintons before taking office and then overturning everything he could find with Obama’s name attached after. At this point, he is just trolling with the fraud charges, trying to get a rise out of the ‘woke’ crowd and casting doubt on the legitimacy if this election because the Democrat party spent four years doing the same to him. If you want to believe anonymous sources, here he is admitting to it

    President Donald Trump told an ally that he knows he lost, but that he is delaying the transition process and is aggressively trying to sow doubt about the election results in order to get back at Democrats for questioning the legitimacy of his own election in 2016, especially with the Russia investigation, a source familiar with the President’s thinking told CNN on Thursday.

    The President’s refusal to concede, as CNN has previously reported, stems in part from his perceived grievance that Hillary Clinton and former President Barack Obama undermined his own presidency by saying Russia interfered in the 2016 election and could have impacted the outcome, people around him have said.

    Trump continues to hold a grudge against those who he claims undercut his election by pointing to Russian interference efforts, and he has suggested it is fair game to not recognize Joe Biden as the President-elect, even though Clinton conceded on election night in 2016 and the Trump transition was able to begin immediately.

    And if it weren’t for the unsubstantiated claims of election fraud he’s been making, I’d find it all pretty hilarious and exactly what such a corrupt system as ours deserves. But I’m afraid it will lead to Lambert’s syllogism and we will never be rid of these machines.

    Then again, we’ve had 18 [family blog]ing years to look under the hood of these things since the HAVA in 2002 was passed, and nobody has – apparently it’s preferable to all parties to cast ballots on easily hackable machines whose software is proprietary and that leave no paper trail.

    So now I’m back to thinking we’re getting what we deserve. I don’t see Trump being prosecuted after leaving office and there are reports that he’s going to create his own news network. Perhaps he can leverage that to acquire Dominion and run again in 2024 when we can all vote for president on Trump owned machines.

    Trump Jr 2024 – Make America Great Again Again!

  24. flora

    re: re: Meet the Cen$ored: Ford Fischer – Matt Taibbi

    Just testing to see if taking out the word (cen$or) in the headline gets the comment past skynet. This is the 4th try. ;)

      1. Carolinian

        We could compile a Skynet forbidden word list but then we wouldn’t be able to post it.

        If some in congress have their way and NC becomes a publisher then our esteemed hosts may have to hire a lawyer to vet the comments. There are worse things than Skynet. We should be grateful for what is.

  25. Clem

    This winter, fight covid-19 with humidity

    Simple solution for many households; vent your (electric only) dryer into the house, not to the outside.

    This would imply that some kind of instrumentation were present to measure relative humidity and automatically shunt the dryer vent back outside when the proper humidity level was reached in living areas.

    Also, dryer sheets that may cause SIDS, perfumed detergents and other chemical garbage would have to avoided in the wash and dry cycles.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      i put an old, heavy enameled canner pot full of water on one of the woodstoves.
      and houseplants.
      and i’ll sometimes cook on the one woodstove that’s suited for it…when it’s really cold, and soup/stew is in order.

      1. polecat

        Hear here. We do the same with ours. We also live in the PNW, under the shadow of the Olympic Range, so we get plenty of moisture resulting from that mountaine cloud squeeze before the sponge runs dry. Mild enough generally, to open windows .. except for the occasional winter artic-influenced snapfreeze/lowland snow dump.

        Also: I really hate forced-air heating!

        1. Rtah100

          Despite living in a sodden mild maritime climate, I have invested in a humidifier this winter and a bottle of iodine. We run the humidifier with iodinated water as an aerial disinfectant whenever there is a workman in the house. We also have all the upstairs windows open all the time (I hate hot bedrooms so I would do this without the virus) but if you cannot stand the cold, get a seaweed scented fog going….

  26. Amfortas the hippie

    the thing on Qanon as LARP/ARG is chilling.
    i’ve been a believer in what i call the Mindf^&k for a long time…generally based on chasing down FOIA and congressional testimony and bumping into weirdness for most of my life.
    Cass Sunstein’s “Nudging” is the tip of the iceberg, as is how walmart is arranged spatially, and bernays sauce covering everything….from chomsky to pilger to naomi klein, there’s ample evidence of manipulation on pretty grand scales.
    but to think of a deliberate ontological coup like this….wow.
    and that it’s apparently very successful…double wow.
    i shudder to think that my hyperxtian neighbor up the road(who’s very friendly with me…we just don’t get into politics, or religion aside from Jesusspeak(least of these, camels and needles))…might be one of these people, and see my deer skulls over the gate as a sign that satanic cannibals live here.
    it’s like the teaparty on PCP, and has real potential for Sturmabteilung and/or Stay Behind Army
    last thing i need, lol.

  27. Geo

    “L.A. officials are still not sure how or why COVID cases are skyrocketing. It’s a huge handicap”

    It’s popping up everywhere here. A friend’s neighbor just got it. Other friends who work in retail have told me about coworkers getting it. And Gavin Newsom is partying with health officials like it’s 1999.

    It’s strange realizing we don’t live in a civilized society like I’d been raised to think it was. We’re a failed state, if we ever even had been a functional one.

  28. Geo

    Also, all this Macron stuff has made me ponder if this is a peak into what a Biden presidency is going to be like for us. Putting a friendly face on authoritarianism.

    Might be my pessimism but getting the feeling we’re in for dark times. What’s that saying? Democracy dies in darkness? Or was it: Democracy dies at brunch?

  29. zagonostra

    I can’t help thinking about the miles long line of folks queuing up in their cars to get groceries when reading below stat from Wolf Street. It makes me sick to think of the privileged folks who can afford to hole up in their comfortable citadels ordering whatever their hearts or stomach desires while these people who are burning gas in their vehicles, wearing them out and depreciating the car’s value, just to eat. What a twisted country, failed state, to use Jimmy Dore’s characterization, this is.

    Online food-and-beverage sales in Q2 had shot up by 100% from Q1 and by 220% year-over-year, to $7.1 billion. In Q3, people started going to grocery stores a little more and backed off just a tad from buying this stuff online, but online sales of food and beverages in Q3 were still up 160% year-over-year

  30. David

    The BBC story about Macron is basically accurate, but the headline is needlessly sensationalist. The Muslim leaders whom Macron met (the CNCM) are basically onside anyway, and some of them have been warning for years about the risk posed by extremists. There’s no need for an “ultimatum.” The key to the government’s demands is the reported comment about “the rejection of political Islam and any foreign interference” Political Islam – the idea that religious leaders, rather than the government, the courts or parliament, should have the final say about laws and behaviour – does have a worrying degree of support, especially among the young, but it’s still very much a minority point of view, which in any event no democracy can accept. In turn, Political Islam was introduced into the country largely by Imams from Turkey and Qatar, who were allowed in under the pretext that France’s rapidly-growing Muslim community could not generate enough of its own. They are now being shown the door, provoking another hissy fit from Erdogan, who sees an important part of his foreign policy going up in smoke.

    This is part of a series of measures which have provoked quite a bit of controversy, and not just from the professional human rights lobby. But as often, it’s a measure of how far successive governments have allowed things to deteriorate. The media has been full for the last month of articles by people pointing out that they warned previous governments something like this would happen ten, even twenty, years ago, and other articles by politicians claiming It Wasn’t My Fault. After the 2015 massacres, it did look as if something might be done, but in the end it was easier to let things slide and avoid the risk of frightening the horses. As the philosopher Michel Onfray remarked at the time, “we have candles, they have Kalashnikovs.” There’s been some grumbling about the lack of parallel “social measures”, but it’s not clear, quite honestly, what these would be. As we know from jihadis returned from Syria, Political Islam is attractive because it’s wild, romantic and adventurous, giving its adherents the sense belonging, and of playing a personal role in history, and indeed the future of the human race. Western societies can’t compete with that: if you were an impressionable eighteen-year old, and your alternatives were joining the Fellowship of the Ring or going shopping, which would you choose?

    In the end, Macron probably had little choice. He was damaged by the Gilets jaunes, and even more by Covid. If he doesn’t show signs of gripping the problem, he is toast for 2022. Macron’s natural base is the PMC, but that’s perhaps 10% of the electorate. He’ll never get the IdiotPol vote, which seems to be going to the Greens, so his only chance of making it into the second round against Le Pen is to hoover votes from the Centre-Right, and from Socialist voters who gave him the benefit of the doubt in 2017. For different reasons, both are expecting action on this problem. Macron is trying to transform himself rapidly from the supercilious neoliberal technocrat of 2017 into a genuine national leader, but I’m not sure he’ll manage it. This government thing is turning out to be a bit more complicated than he thought.

  31. Jason Boxman

    So I wonder if believe science and related is simply a dogwhistle. We know Liberal Democrats ignore climate science. It seems more like what it means in context is The Other doesn’t believe in science. The Other is ignorant. But we aren’t. We’re enlightened, and educated. Given Liberal Democrats are disingenuous actors, not sure why this wasn’t obvious at the first.

    But it was never credible that the Biden strategy would be any other than “because markets, go die.”

  32. ewmayer

    “East Asia Decouples from the United States: Trade War, COVID-19, and East Asia’s New Trade Blocs (PDF) Petersen Institute for International Economics. [Lambert:] As Michael Pettis points out, the RCEP members are all net exporters. So who buys the goods?”

    Exactly — U.S. incurred a $923 billion trade deficit in 2019, here are the top 10 trade-deficit countries, with E Asian ones starred:

    * China: -US$365.8 billion
    Mexico: -$105 billion
    * Japan: -$72.3 billion
    Germany: -$69.6 billion
    * Vietnam: -$58.5 billion
    Ireland: -$53 billion
    Italy: -$34.9 billion
    Canada: -$34.8 billion
    * Malaysia: -$28.4 billion
    Switzerland: -$27.5 billion

    The 4 E Asian countries in that list account for over half the US trade deficit, and trade with the US accounts for a significant or dominant fraction of each’s exports. Some decoupling!

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      As long as the United States remains under occupation by the International Free Trade Conspiracy, the United States continues to buy the goods until America has zero gainful employment and zero thingmaking capacity left.

      That is the plan. The Free Trade plan.

  33. drumlin woodchuckles

    What would happen if Jeremy Corbin and the Corbinites decided to start their own political party and call it
    the Real Labor Party or the True Labor Party or something like that?

  34. drumlin woodchuckles

    About Zeke Emmanuel planning to die at 75 . . .

    Well, bless your heart . . . Zekiepoo. If you die at 75, the rest of us won’t mind at all.

  35. JCC

    An on the ground report on the article “What it took to investigate a suspicious town in the Mojave Desert”

    I live about 45 minutes north of Cal City (as it’s known in this area) and one afternoon a couple of years ago I was bored stiff and thought I would check out Silver Saddle Ranch. Never mind Cal City itself, miles and miles of roads with no houses, but Silver Saddle Ranch? Just wow!

    First, you have to drive east of Cal City on a dirt road for about 10 to 15 miles. I was constantly wondering if I was going the right way until I finally saw a postage stamp sized sign with an arrow pointing to the turn. As I drove up the road I passed a nine or ten new houses, a few with cars parked in the driveway, most were obviously empty, a few with barbed-wire fencing around the property, and then I finally arrived at the “ranch”.

    It appeared to be a little oasis with a small decent looking hotel, a very small lake with some fountains and with some RV sites, a barn with a few horse and not much else. It looked like lots of water was available but I’m not sure if it was a natural spring or was piped up from Cal City. I still don’t know one way or the other, but it was obvious that it was a huge waste of water. The only good thing to be said about it is that the views across the Mojave Desert were amzingly expansive.

    I decided to walk into the hotel and ask about the place, membership cost, RV rental sites, etc, but it took me about 15 minutes to even find anyone to talk to. The first thing the girl did was try to talk me into buying property there.

    I was surprised that they sold anything at all. The hotel, on a weekend, was empty. It was expensive, and there was nothing there of interest. Other than a gun range and a few horses there was nothing there. No trees, nothing. It had even less to offer than Cal City itself, which I never thought possible.

    I can understand why they go after immigrants with poor English skills. The place was such an obvious scam, it stuck out like a sore thumb. I’m actually a little surprised that people would want to buy into it.

    I was glad to see that the article mentioned the place was closed and under investigation. It had the word “crook” written all over it. I never went back.

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