Links 12/11/2020

Rats love driving tiny cars, even when they don’t get treats Ars Technica

World’s biggest mammal migration under threat Al Jazeera

Drug Middlemen Shift Arguments to Escape Liability, State Laws Bloomberg Law

‘A total blessing’: Sacramento County gives $1,000 payments to residents affected by COVID-19 Sacramento Bee (JJ). Unlike Holyoke, MA (possibly because Holyoke has an insurgent mayor Mass Democrats hope to stifle).


FDA advisory panel endorses Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine STAT. Very useful live blog of the proceedings. However:

Sanofi, GlaxoSmithKline hit with a major delay on Covid-19 vaccine program as their first jab flops in older adults EndPoints

Covid: Australian vaccine abandoned over false HIV response BBC

* * *

Phylogenetic analysis of SARS-CoV-2 in Boston highlights the impact of superspreading events Science. Pulling out one sentence:

“Our findings highlight the close relationships between seemingly disconnected groups and populations: viruses from international business travel seeded major outbreaks among individuals experiencing homelessness, spread throughout the Boston area including to other higher risk communities, and were exported to other domestic and international sites.”

We’ve seen a million fingerwagging posts about bikers and Sturgis, and virtually nothing about international air travel that infected the whole country to begin with. Odd.

Potential Causes and Consequences of Gastrointestinal Disorders during a SARS-CoV-2 Infection Cell Reports. From Concluding Remarks: “The complex pathogenesis of SARS-CoV-2 infection is only starting to be deciphered. Along with the respiratory tract, the gastrointestinal tract is an entry and replication site for SARS-CoV-2. The gut constitutes one of the main extrapulmonary target organs with regard to symptoms and is a potential route for virus dissemination; its role therefore needs to be actively explored. In particular, several lines of evidence suggest that SARS-CoV-2 infection is associated with alteration of the gut microbiota. It remains to be determined whether the gut microbiota influences the gastrointestinal and pulmonary signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and overall mortality. Putative changes in the gut microbiota’s composition and functional activity might be biomarkers of disease severity. Lastly, and if the gut microbiota does prove to affect the disease’s severity and mortality rate, targeting the microbiota’s various components might be an attractive therapeutic strategy.”

How kids’ immune systems can evade COVID Nature

* * *

There’s Still Time to Beat Covid Without Lockdowns Bloomberg. The deck: “South Korea’s successful approach of regimented masking, aggressive testing, and high-tech contact tracing is a blueprint for the U.S. and other democracies.” If that’s the kind of building you want to build, yes.


US-China decoupling: has China cast aside US threat with booming exports in 2020? South China Morning Post

Stupid China declares trade war on itself Macrobusiness

China’s C919 commercial jet aspirations are overblown and no threat to Boeing or Airbus, Washington think tank finds South China Morning Post. Handy diagram:

IIRC, the wing is the one component Boeing has never sought to outsource. So with China, it seems. Nevertheless.

Chinese tech companies bet big on India. Now they’re being shut out CNN

China launches ‘gray-zone’ warfare to subdue Taiwan Reuters

The U.S. Was Late to China’s Rise 20 Years Ago. What Is It Missing Today? World Politics Review

U.S. crackdown on Huawei hands Japan a 5G lifeline Japan Times

How homogeneous is Japan? Noah Smith, Noahpinion

Hundreds work against the clock for first made-in-Vietnam Covid-19 vaccine Vietnam Express

The Koreas

North Korea wasted chance to improve relations under Trump, U.S. envoy says Reuters

Asia’s Unequal Recovery Sounds Alarm for Global Economic Rebound Bloomberg


Beirut explosion: Lebanon’s caretaker PM Hassan Diab and three former ministers charged Sky News

Trump sells out future of global food security for Morocco-Israel normalization deal Responsible Statecraft

Exclusive: U.S. says reports of Eritrean troops in Ethiopia’s Tigray are ‘credible’ Reuters


EU countries agree historic €1.8tn budget and recovery package FT. So maybe now they’ll have time for BoJo.


Johnson Appeal for Brexit Help Frustrated by Summit Deadlock Bloomberg

EU contingency preparations:

A note of exasperation in the last sentence?

Brexit stockpiling: ‘I can’t get my wine out of the EU’ BBC. Foodstuffs, here we go…

The DUP, facing a unionist backlash, must be wishing for soft Brexit Irish Times

Mexico’s COVID-19 deaths average 55 years vs. 75 in Europe AP


Barr Worked to Keep Hunter Biden Probes From Public View During Election WSJ

* * *

States Urge Supreme Court to Declare Election Over, Reject Texas Bid Bloomberg. Pennsylvania’s brief against. Republicans file amicus brief, supporting Texas:

Why We Question The Election Results The American Conservative

The GOP Abandons Democracy The Atlantic

Website targeting U.S. election officials draws attention of intelligence agencies Reuiters

Biden Transition

Joe Biden Said He’d “Follow the Science” on the Pandemic. He Isn’t. Jacobin

Some of this has been downright Orwellian. After Osterholm — now on Biden’s COVID-19 advisory board — told Yahoo Finance the US government should financially cover workers and businesses for a four-to-six-week national lockdown, he was not only swiftly contradicted by both Biden’s spokesperson and Fauci and forced to walk the comment back, but by other science advisers on Biden’s task force, too, who quickly closed ranks and insisted on the same strategy Boris Johnson had pursued in defiance of scientific advice: a more limited, “targeted” approach.

If we financially covered workers, that would give them ideas. Can’t have that. Remember “Rooseveltian” relief? Good times.

Biden chooses Denis McDonough as Secretary of Veterans Affairs Stars and Stripes. Obama’s Chief of Staff. Odd.

Biden’s choice to lead USDA is sparking a broad backlash. Here’s why. The Counter

Pentagon pick may need GOP rescue Axios

Inside Biden’s Meeting with Civil Rights Leaders The Intercept

Sanders, Hawley team up to demand vote on second round of stimulus checks The Hill (Re Silc).

Not wild-eyed radicals, either:

Democrats in Disarray

Trump’s Gone, So What’s Next for the Democrats? Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone

Sen. Bernie Sanders says Democrats delayed COVID-19 relief NY Post

Facebook, Google Risk Fines Up to 6% Revenue Under New EU Rules Bloomberg

Monopoly Versus Democracy Zephyr Teachout, Foreign Affairs


We can have democracy or we can have Facebook, but we can’t have both Anand Giridharadas, The Ink. With Stoller.

The Smoking Gun in the Facebook Antitrust Case Wired

“Facebook Gets Paid” Buzzfeed

Section 230 is Good, Actually EFF

Class Warfare

Working at a Nursing Home During the COVID-19 Pandemic Is a Daily Heartbreak Teen Vogue

Couch Surfing the Waves of American Poverty Current Affairs

Poverty, depression, and anxiety: Causal evidence and mechanisms Science

Museum of Difference The Baffler

China flight attendants advised to wear diapers for coronavirus protection ABC7

The Receding Horizon of Travel’s Return NYT

Antidote du jour (WB):

WB writes: “I owned my only cat 44 years ago – Serge, a sweet-tempered and beautiful Russian Blue.”

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. zagonostra

    >Inside Biden’s Meeting with Civil Rights Leaders – The Intercept Ryan Grim

    Not much substance in this article although it alludes to additional details would be available in a forthcoming podcast. What I’m curious about is who the “civil rights leaders” are referenced below. These are probably the same individuals that BAR/Glen Ford label the “mis-leadership” class. What was clear in the article is that OBiden is unlikely to do much by way of “executive action.”

    I’m also curious on how “BigTech” removing Louis Farrakhan’s Ytube channel in October plays into the Dems trying to control “Black Support.” Since this is the anniversary of Fred Hampton’s murder by Chicago police 51 years ago, I would think that any attempt to lump the “Black Vote” as somehow a monolithic group should be tempered.

    On Tuesday, a group of civil rights leaders urged him privately to take a slew of executive actions during a two-hour virtual meeting. While Biden didn’t close the door to anything specific, he was far from enthusiastic about the idea of using executive action.

    1. Geo

      Listened to a bit of the recordings. Typical Biden stuff scolding black people and talking about how he’s done more than anyone for everyone about everything. That whole “if you don’t vote for me you ain’t black”/“record player” vibe in full force.

      Don’t know why anyone is surprised by it. It’s who he’s always been.

  2. The Rev Kev

    “How homogeneous is Japan?”

    I’m still not sure that we are getting a complete picture of Japan. The Japanese, like other people, have their own prejudices. There is that against the Ainu, the original inhabitants of the Japanese islands and I have read that there is even prejudice against groups like the survivors of the atomic bombings. But this came up again in a recent Nike ad in japan. Here is that ad- (2 mins)

    And here is an article explaining this ad more. Lots of people in japan were not happy-

    1. PlutoniumKun

      I found the article confusing and somewhat pompous, especially when in the last paragraph he conflates ‘multiculturalism’ with having a multiplicity of ethnicities – they are entirely different things. Smith is one of the worst offenders among western observers of Japan who insist on trying to frame every Japanese problem as if Japan was America.

      The first time I travelled to Japan I was struck by how varied the faces I’d see on streets in Japan were compared to China or Vietnam, which are both far more homogenous, at least in terms of how people appear. The Japanese are ethnically quite clearly a mix of East Asian, Polynesian and Siberian. The Ainu are of course one strong element (they were pretty much self governing in Hokkaido up to the late 19th Century), and yes, they’ve been strongly discriminated in the past, as have ethnic Koreans, ethnic Okinawans and the Burakumin, who are essentially a ‘lower caste’, but who many Japanese consider a distinct ethnicity (they are probably the descendants of meat workers and roving workers, a little like Irish gypsies).

      Typical Japanese tend to have an acute perception of who they are in relation to others around them, which makes anyone ‘different’ to get excluded. So while I don’t think the Japanese are any more or less bigoted than any other society, they do tend be particularly firm in keeping a separation between ‘us’ and ‘them’ however that is defined (as one Kyoto woman who was married to a Canadian I spoke to once said ‘my parents aren’t bigoted against anyone who isn’t Japanese, they hate everyone equally who isn’t from Kyoto’). Hence people with very distant Korean ancestry can find themselves excluded from society.

      Of course, this can be self reinforcing as (for example) the Korean community then set up their own schools (actually, two different school systems, one sympathetic to the south, the other the north), and others migrate to the Ukiyo of the entertainment districts and crime (the Yakuza are overwhelmingly burakumin or sometimes ethnic Koreans).

      The article also confuses immigration with guest workers. Even in small towns in Japan now its common to see Vietnamese or Filipino’s working away at the tills, but they are mostly on short term work contracts – so yes, there are huge numbers of them, but the Japanese have no intention of letting them settle long term. Most of the workers aren’t bothered, they get money and learn a skill or two before going back to Japan. Its striking how little intermarriage there are between Japanese and other Asians.

      Things are changing though – among younger Japanese its become quite cool to be mixed race (as perceived by the Japanese – someone with a little Korean ancestry is considered mixed race there) and there is a new wave of politicians and other prominent people from other backgrounds. But as usual, the Japanese do things their way, and have little interest in the opinions of people like Noah Smith.

      1. Jessica

        At least back in the 1980s, Kyoto folks were notorious in Japan for their high self-regard.
        That’s hardly unique to Japan though. Moscow folks see Siberians as pretty much wet-backs. In Vienna, I heard from many long-term residents that there were two sets of social circles: one for Viennese (who were said to have made many of their friends in kindergarten) and one for everyone else. It was the folks from Graz who seemed to particularly dislike that.

        BTW, Okinawa was a separate nation until around 1870, at least on paper, and originally spoke languages from the Ryukyuan branch of Japonic. It had the same kind of relationship with China that Korea had. There is no exact contemporary equivalent, but perhaps the closest would be post-WW2 Finland vis-a-vis the Soviet Union. During WW2, the US and the Republic of China agreed that Taiwan, which Japan conquered in the 1890s, would be returned to China, and that Okinawa would be under joint US-ROC governance. Not sure how that never happened.

        1. David

          Agree with both of you. I thought the article was rather superficial and even silly in places. Japan is not the US, and it doesn’t have problems comparable to those of the US. Japan isn’t anything else: it has similarities (notably to Korea) but that’s all. The real homogeneity is not ethnic but cultural. The Japanese have always been fascinated by foreigners (I’ve had my photograph taken in the remote countryside just for being there) and there are (or at least were) restaurants in Tokyo with western menus where the Japanese take foreign guests, and young trendy people come to watch you and soak up the atmosphere. You are an attraction, and they will (usually) take your money, but you’re a gaijin and the first thing you have to learn is that you might be tolerated but you’ll never be accepted.

          1. lordkoos

            My wife is third generation Japanese American. In the past she had some interest in visiting Japan but a teacher once told her that she’d be in for a rough time, since she looks Japanese but can’t speak the language (is basically a California girl) she would be viewed in Japan as stupid.

    2. Wukchumni

      One thing I found to be amazing in Japan was the vending machines for everything you could ever imagine, versus here where in an age of automation, they’ve mostly gone away.

      When was the last time any of you bought something from a vending machine?

      It has been years for me~

      1. anon y'mouse

        i have had a longstanding fantasy to have a vending machine emporium. but then my non-technical self would need to learn to repair them.

        small hope of that one.

  3. jackiebass

    Bernie is spot on about democrats being responsible for the delay in a covid relief bill. Because he isn’t afraid to speak out against power I like him. He doesn’t change his views much depending how the wind is blowing. I have followed him for decades and his message and beliefs haven’t changed much.

    1. The Historian

      Hang on a second. Yes, Pelosi screwed up by not accepting the $1.8 T deal. But – do you think that deal would have ever gotten past McConnell?

      Both parties are responsible because both parties serve only one master – and it is not us.

      1. ambrit

        Pelosi missed a big chance to put the onus of the continuing Pandemic chaos on the Republican Party. Now, most people will blame the Democrat Party for this disaster.
        The 2022 elections are going to be an absolute disaster for the Democrat Party. It’s guaranteed.

        1. The Historian

          This is true and we won’t be any the better or worse for it. If what you care about are political parties, then 2022 will be a disaster. But if you care about what happens to ordinary Americans, nothing will change, will it? Neither party has the interests of ordinary Americans in mind.

          1. edmondo

            Trump told Nancy that $1.8 trillion deal was a go. It had 6 more months of UI and another round on $1200 checks. Nancy said she needed another trillion for state and local relief and the whole thing died two weeks before the election. You wanna know why Nancy almost lost the House. Re-read this post. Between the no stimulus and the impeachment fiasco, they should have lostthe whole thing and deserved to.

            If they don’t dump Nancy on January 3rd, they will lose 100 House seats.

            1. Katniss Everdeen

              You must be mistaken. The Orange Man is bad. Old Lady pelosi is the shrewdest of political negotiators.

              It’s mcconnell’s and the republicans fault. Always was, always is and always will be as far as dem “strategists” and apologists are concerned.

              The dems really better hope the republicans keep the senate. They’re running out of boogeymen.

              1. tegnost

                +1 “It’s mcconnell’s and the republicans fault. Always was, always is and always will be as far as dem “strategists” and apologists are concerned.”

                This and I expect voter shaming will be replaced by vaccine shaming….all those stupid people. What are we to do with them? Are there no workhouses?
                Susan Rice should be able to deal with them.

          2. ambrit

            True, but as far a ceding ground to the Republican Party goes, this is a dereliction of duty, even down at the partisan political level. We are constantly harping on the theme of the eventual “Efficient Autocrat” this dynamic is setting the country up for. The more dysfunction America experiences, the stronger that eventual Autocrat’s position will be.
            It doesn’t matter what ‘wing’ of American politics that Autocrat emerges from.
            The conditions “on the ground” will nurture the process.
            As for the ‘Left’ ‘Right’ divide in America; it is good to observe that the Right wing elements have traditionally had better organizational skills in evidence. The Left, or what passes for a Left in America, had better “up it’s game” or face literal extinction.

            1. The Historian

              I think the Left has an inherent weakness. They don’t crave ‘power’ for its own sake as much as other groups do. I’m hoping that ‘distaste for ‘power’ will be replaced with ‘necessity’ here some time in the future.

              1. neo-realist

                The left doesn’t have the widespread corporate media infrastructure to broadcast and reinforce their perspectives and policies 24/7 into the minds of the masses as the conservatives and the centrists have. And apart from the occasional appearance from Bernie, who usually gets a very antagonistic and adversarial interview, or a blogger, corporate media generally host left viewpoints.

                The resultant aggressive corporate media propaganda results in people believing that progressive democrats are socialists/marxists, even among those with the education and worldliness to know better, e.g., thinking about Yves professional friend who thought the dems were socialists, or words to that effect.

                The left wants power, but the money power and propaganda headwinds against them are strong.

                1. anon y'mouse

                  where are “our” (s)Think Tanks?

                  where are “our” corporate trust-funded foundations lasting for over 100yrs after the original oligarch was buried?

                  if we had them, we would probably take them as a sign of our own failure.

              2. Lex

                And The Greens? The Working Families Party? I’ve been trying to figure out what the Greens want other than power over the party itself.

                I have one bumper sticker on the back of my car that says, ‘Adults onboard. We want to live too.’

              3. Lost in OR

                The Left:
                -distrusts power
                -dislikes leadership/hierarchy
                -recognizes that other people must change
                -likes to talk about action

                This comment from an old, far leftist

                1. Copeland

                  But “these people” are not the left, Pelosi is emphatically not the left. There is no left, left, as discussed above.

                  1. tegnost

                    before the election…
                    “We’re all the same left! Must beat the Cheato!
                    After he election,…
                    “Those people aren’t the left! ”
                    If you define the effective political environment as the overton window, the left edge of the window has power, a lot of it, and knows how to use it.
                    The ethereal left has no power, and will continue to be excluded from the power dynamic.

                    1. Mao "No Landlords Now" Zedong

                      lol the only people that have ever said “we’re all on the same left” were never part of the left to begin with

        2. Jessica

          The big question in 2022 will be whether the Republicans can win enough Senate seats to remove Harris (and Biden if he is still around).
          Unless the centrist Democrats suddenly become something the avoidance of which is the one principle that they seem to be willing to fight for.

      2. polecat

        “– and it is not us.”

        Yesss. The Schwabian Cloud tends to rain on one’s ‘unrepresented’ parade, don’t it.

        Even the humble cardboard hovel isn’t safe anymore: such a soggy mess!

    2. zagonostra

      No disrespect intended and this is coming from someone who financially contributed to Bernie and attended his rallies when they rolled into town, but “he isn’t afraid to speak out against power” is patently false when that speaking out entails calling out the Democrats for what they truly are, tools of the ruling elites. There is a threshold that BS will not step over. Jimmy Dore has covered this extensively and I refer you to below, which is just one clip among many that JD has on Bernie (caution: strong language may be offensive.)

        1. polecat

          Yeah, ‘truthiness’ to Power, indeed! .. for he of ‘Damn HER-> emails!! – I be a friend of Joe’s’ fame
          … be ensconed within ‘the Club’.

          Mr. Social Democratist, my a$$! What a wanker.

            1. ewmayer

              Oooooh, “he moved the dialogue left” … and then did his utmost to shepherd his followers right, into the arms of Team DNC. But they’re a bunch of *woke* corporatists and warmongers, eh? They’re unfailingly polite when screwing the working class and pink-misting haters-of-our-freedoms around the globe.

              Listen to yourself – it’s pathetic. Next you’ll be reminding us of all the progressive stuff he got Team DNC to – wait for it – “include in the Dem party’s official platform.” And he and his still-loyal handful of followers are gonna “hold the Biden White House’s feet to the fire.” It’s gonna be a revolution, I tellya! “We will ‘influence the conversation’ or the streets shall flow with blood!”

              1. Cuibono

                yeah and tell me EW: what you got? the revolution is built from the ground up and if you want to keep waiting for your savior, be my guest

                1. ewmayer

                  You just said it – any real change must be grassroots, meaning Bernie’s strategy of “working with the existing system and trying to push Team D to the left” was doomed – and that was already crytal-clear in 2016. One more try to actually get the D nomination would’ve been OK, valiant attempt, blah, blah, but to then to do the exact same thing he did after 2016’s primary screwjob, tell his followers to vote for a bunch of career anti-left crooks who are anathema to everything he claimed to stand for, that’s just a massive betrayal. What do I got? Well, don’t send $ to and vote for the aforementioned establishment crooks, for starters. You’re the one who seems to still be clinging to Bernie-as-our-savior. Yah, it sucks – but the quicker people realize that “influencing the debate” in the context of either of the Big 2 establisment parties is hopeless, don’t-give-those-crooks-your-time-or-your-votes, utterly reject lesser-of-2-evils thinking and focus on the grassroots level, the better.

      1. jr

        Thank Bog for Dore, I listen to him daily because no one else is expressing the real emotions he does. I wonder when they will come for him à la that scientist in Florida…

      2. Wellstone's Ghost

        I think we might begin to see a different approach from Bernie going forward. He is certainly not running for President again. I am curious to see what a “I’ve got nothing to lose” Bernie Sanders looks like.

        1. Spring Texan

          I’ve been wondering about that. Especially with Biden spitting in the left’s face. I suspect he’ll continue mostly muted till all the cabinet is selected. But maybe not after that.

  4. Wukchumni

    The Receding Horizon of Travel’s Return NYT
    We’ve been an unusual travel outlier in that vacation rentals have been plenty busy all summer (with a 2 month dead period when the Castle fire was blazing) and while all the campgrounds, lodging and stores are closed in Sequoia NP now on account of the latest lockdown, you can still hike and do touristy stuff in the park, and stay overnight here in the foothills in an AirBnB and eat in one of our Covidiot friendly restaurants where eatery employees eschew the use of masks and guests are on their own recognizance, in a County where the sheriff has bigger fish to fry than worrying about some invisible menace, so there’s no need to worry about compliance issues, there aren’t any.

    As far as travel beyond our borders go, this bumper sticker quote from the 60’s seems quaint, now that we can’t really go anywhere…

    ‘America: Love it or leave it’

    Funny how we went from exotic places being overloved by all the ploperazzi having to get pictures or videos of themselves to post online as proof of been there-done that, and now the same locales are largely vacant, what a difference a year makes.

  5. Geo

    “Rats love driving tiny cars, even when they don’t get treats”

    Uber is excited by this news and will soon be replacing all human drivers and launching UbeRat. A spokesman said they are thrilled to have drivers that finally do it for the love of driving and don’t ask for benefits, pay, or even treats.

    1. The Rev Kev

      What I really wanted to see with this experiment was a tiny car that could seat a few rats, a roof and a coupla windows. As the car was speeding along, it would be interesting if the other rats stuck their heads out the window like you see dogs do.

      Congrats on your latest film by the way. Well done. Wonder if Indie films or Hollywood will bring out movies about people during the present pandemic or even the 1918 one.

      1. Geo

        Thank you! I know a few people in the indie world making ones about the pandemic but mostly personal/intimate stories (very stereotypical indie stuff). I’m sure Hollywood is gonna do their usual cash grabs like they did with the Housing Crisis, 9/11, and almost every other national crisis. But don’t know of any. Would be surprised if Netflix doesn’t already have a 1918 series in the works!

        Hoping this new one of mine allows me to make the next one. Have a script loosely inspired by the Epstein New Mexico ranch that tackles class power structures. Basically uses that setting to explore how the ruling class lords over and exploits disposable class with aid from all systemic institutions from education to police to elected reps. Fingers crossed I can make that one. First, this new one needs to not be a bomb. :)

        1. ambrit

          Good heavens. I can see it now.
          Have Angelina Jolie in the Mz Maxwell persona playing the child of New York hustler Joe Buck. Her Dad can play her Dad in the film. Put a photo of Ratso Rizzo on the mantle piece in a living room scene. The continuity of lifestyle “choices” can be emphasized that way. From Ratso Rizzo to Epstein is but a small jump.

          1. Geo

            Ha! Love it.

            Will see where it goes. Just sent the script to a producer on Wednesday. Who knows, it might be trash, or just never get made. My films so far have been incredibly hard sells. First was “too depressing” and “too messy” (as if that’s not what a story of a person returning from war and being homeless should feel like?). The new one was “I like it but I have no idea how to market it” and “I don’t know what genre this is supposed to be” feedback. Yet, the first one got amazing reviews once it was released and I’ve been told by combat vets is the most real movie on the subject they’ve ever seen. The new one has been compared by critics to Peckinpah and Bigelow, and audiences compare it to Tarantino.

            So, doubtful I’ll get Jolie for it. I’ll probably end up doing this new film for 0.01% of a budget she would work for. Seriously, my two films were made for peanuts. Like what most films spend on craft services is my entire budget. It’s the only way I can make them the way I want them to be made. Every time I’ve tried to get proper funding they always bring in some “script expert” that gives you notes on how to make it more marketable and appealing to general audiences. Last time this happened I just said, “If you want something that’s already been made then go watch something already made. I want to make something new.”

            Didn’t go over well. And this is why I’m poor and not lounging in a Hollywood hills pool sipping on a daiquiri right now. :)

            1. ambrit

              Ah, the old “he’s good, avoid him like the plague” routine.
              You need a “sugar daddy” without the messy physiological complications.
              That’s an idea.
              A fund raising app.
              Call it #SugarDaddyLife.
              Could such an app be structured as to be an arms length tax write off scheme? The arms length aspect would be to stop that infuriating “the producers want final cut rights” insanity. A ‘reputable’ accounting firm would have to be involved to establish “probity” and ‘customer trust.’
              Phyl has relatives who went Hollywood and are making it, in a sense, in the Hollywood scene. They went West from the Gulf Coast already with some money behind them. Whether or not that ‘money’ was at their beck and call, I have my doubts. However, I get the feeling that it was all similar to the old story, “The Million Pound Note.” The illusion of backing might have bought in outside backers, etc.
              I don’t envy you. I get the distinct impression that all aspects of Hollywood, and I do mean all, are “smoke and mirrors.” The Hall of Mirrors scene from the film “The Lady From Shanghai” pops into my mind.
              Be safe and happy trails!
              [Oh, it was a good idea for your latest film to get real vampyres to play the leading parts. Did you steal the idea from “Shadow of the Vampire?”]

      1. polecat

        Just smear some $cheddar$ to the gearshift handle, and tie a stale ol’ benjamin bread heel to the clutch pedal. Probem solved!

    2. Mummichog

      Remarkable! Science marches on. This finding should go a long way toward solving the numerous and increasing numbers of existential threats caused by Science.

  6. Slap Stick

    Facebook, Google, EU.

    EU are really the wristslappers par excellence. Facebook and Google are selling air. Their margins are enormous. 6% of revenue is still an acceptable cost of monopoly and surveillance economy business, would they not be able to fight EU.

    It is really embarrassing to see these morons in EU doing absolutely nothing to whip market actors into useful behaviour.

    1. Mikel

      Google sells content too. YouTube.
      They are the real streaming giant -above and beyond Netflix. That is who the likes of Disney+, HBO Max, etc are ultimately up against
      They’ll see as incomes dwindle.

  7. Fireship

    > Today’s Class Warfare links

    I spent a few months during lockdown counselling people online with addiction issues. The thing that struck me was how few supports exist for people in the US as compared to other developed nations (or even developing ones!) It was both heartbreaking and infuriating. The defining feature, to my mind, of American society is cruelty to the weak. The weak in America fulfill the role of Jews in medieval Europe.

    To be honest, given the lack of basic healthcare and even nutrition and sanitation (see UN special rapporteur on poverty in America) for large amounts of Americans, I no longer think of the US as a first world nation. There are already cities in China and Latin America with higher gdp than certain US cities (pretty sure you all know which ones). I used to think that the US would end up as a “Brazil with nukes” but now wonder if it will not more resemble India with a just as rigid caste system.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      i can hear good morning america from the next room…”Doom”, she cried….
      and then, outgoing admin thinks not enough death, so lets hurry up and kill some folks(executions) while we still can….to ingratiate our base of support.
      I mean…think about that!
      and if it’s not enough? do we nuke some sandy place?

      meanwhile, out here in rural northwest texas hill country…
      a high school girl in town knew she didn’t feel good. fever, etc.
      but the young life trip to Uvalde was too important to miss…2 days later, 29 kids in high school are under quarantine(unknown how enforced this is…just that they aren’t allowed at school.)
      none of this, of course, shows up on the county website.
      weirdly, it’s 99% trump supporters who are getting it out here.
      and still , few masks in town…mostly just us.

      wife freaking out, because one of the girls in quarantine was the day before working the counter where we got takeout…handed the sack to my wife.
      so i went to walmart, 16 miles to the north, and stocked up on pizza and pot pies, because i’ve declared an end to takeout when we’re tired or feeling too lazy to cook.
      no one is happy about this…but we’re freaked out about the local spread and lack of apparent concern of the majority of our neighbors….so lockdown protocols are a go.
      it’s stupid and cruel and indicative of a selfishness that is quite staggering..and that’s also proportional to how overt the religiosity.
      bugchasing for jesus.


      1. edmondo

        I always wondered why the servers and the customers wore masks while no one was very bothered by the guy in the kitchen who was sneezing all over their food while it was being prepared. Serving me in the “open air diner” makes sense until you realize that the kitchen is really close quarters and no one seems to be to worried about Typhoid Marty, the short order cook.

      2. polecat

        I recently made chicken potpies – the taters, carrots, parsley, & sage came courtesy of farmerpolecat’s kitchen garden. One 5-6lb organic bird pressure-cooked with shallots, orange/manderine juice (for the liquid quotent), a little rice wine, ground pepper, salt, and dried sage, roasted garlic .. with butter dabbed on top of bird before cooking – ‘Wala!’ .. the result: a peck of hand-pies fit for .. a well .. small king of his castle, anyway.

        So, Amfortas, ditch the pre-made stuff, and prep your own. Cheaper, healthier, & more affordable. CONVENIENCE sucks!, whether by take-out lane, or freezer section. C’mon, you’re a chef, right?

        ps … Don’t forget the drippings. Made a most Excellent Gwavey, thicked, then added to the filling.

    2. Geo

      So true. For a nation that loves piously brandishing the Bible it’s amazing how little they recall “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

      Our system for those who fall from grace – either by their own actions or through bad fortune – is retribution and condemnation instead of rehabilitation and compassion.

      Erich Fromm wrote in “The Heart of Man” that, “For a sadist the fact that he can kill a man proves that he, the killer, is superior.” I feel like this sums up our society well. Because “those people” suffer it makes those who do not suffer feel superior. Or, I’m just overthinking it and the fortunate are just too comfortable and separated from the lives of the suffering to care.

      1. jr

        How many of the Thumpers have actually read the Good Book? I’d wager a significant portion of them haven’t cracked it open more than once or twice in their lives. I don’t consider most people who claim to be Christian as anything close to it, it’s usually wielded as a challenge to things they don’t agree with: non-heterosexuals, feminists, environmentalists, liberals, leftists, Muslims, etc. If you aren’t studying your faith, wrestling with it, applying it, you’re a phony. Listening to your leader drone on once a week isn’t enough. It’s just a label.

        1. jr

          Plucked from today’s Water Cooler:

          “The biggest Trump supporters I know, including my own extended family, are nominal patriarchs of families where middle-ages kids are shacked unmarried with their latest boyfriend or girlfriend. Their grandchildren, glued to social media on their smartphones, know nothing about Christianity and have rarely if ever set foot in a church. MAGA Grandpas rarely attend church themselves. Despite having a solid work ethic and many other admirable qualities, they’ve failed to preserve and pass along their faith and their culture within their own families, and they want to blame “the left” for what their kids and grandkids have become.”

      2. ShamanicFallout

        I had never seen that translation (using ‘for’ and not ‘to’). Usually we see something like “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ (Matthew 25:40) Interesting.

        In my experienced one cannot argue about who Jesus was, or what does it mean to be a Christian. If we are honest, Jesus means, and is, whatever one wants him to be. And that basically means that he magically becomes perfectly aligned with one’s own ‘egoism’, one’s very ‘me-ness’. And there we are locked.

        What would it truly take to even approach understanding the profundity of Matthew 25:40, (and indeed all of the ancient traditions have some formulation of this)? Can we bear what we see in ourselves and in the world?

      3. Socal Rhino

        Harold Bloom called what we see around this land “the American religion”, distinct from historical christianity.

    3. Lakisha

      “but now wonder if it will not more resemble India with a just as rigid caste system.”

      To be ushered in by President Kamala, our first high caste Indian president, along with her sister, Uber’s P.R. director, Neera Tanden and all the Silicon Valley Billionaires and social media bosses?

      “Women of color united against racism”? More like some are riding the caste system they brought with them to success using U.S. Civil Rights Laws and affirmative action, hard won by American civil rights activists.

      “How does an immigrant woman of color climb to the top rung of the corporate ladder? By working twice as hard as her counterparts, says Indra Nooyi, 50, who was appointed CEO of PepsiCo last October. With that, she became the highest-ranking Indian American in corporate America. Speaking of her successes, Nooyi gives credit to her Indian upbringing. “Being a woman, being foreign-born, you’ve got to be smarter than anyone else,” she said in an interview on as one of “100 Most Powerful Women.”

      So African American women are not smart enough? That is what I read here.

    4. Maxwell Johnston

      Several years ago, I had a Russian colleague who traveled regularly to the USA. She described it as “a third world country with a first world infrastructure.” Mind you, she liked visiting the USA, but she had no illusions about it.

  8. timbers

    If we financially covered workers, that would give them ideas. Can’t have that. Remember “Rooseveltian” relief? Good times.

    Dems can’t even pass $300 unemployment let alone anything else like aid to locals. Remember 12 yrs ago Obama & Clinton falling over themselves before roaring crowds as they promised to reverse GWB’s tax cuts for the rich? (Obama didn’t of course but never mind) Well, reversing Trumps tax cuts for gigantic corporations wasn’t even a conversation in 2020 campaign.

    Biden should just come out and say what Team Blue really wants: Make America Safe For Vacation Travel Again.

  9. The Rev Kev

    “Sen. Bernie Sanders says Democrats delayed COVID-19 relief”

    “They walked away from $1.8 trillion, was that a mistake?” Tapper asked.

    Notice that this is Jake Tapper asking Bernie this. I don’t think that he dares bring Nancy Pelosi on herself. He asked her about payments for people a coupla months ago and she told him to calm down – which he did. But I think that whoever gave Tapper that question to ask Bernie was a wheels-within-wheels sort of person. That is basically the same question that a reporter asked Nancy a few days ago and she blew up about it. She told him to never to use the word mistake to describe what she did as a preface to a question or she would not answer it. Tapper would know this so would only ask a Bernie about this. Good thing that Bernie is in the Senate and not the House then. :)

  10. Geo

    “If we financially covered workers, that would give them ideas. Can’t have that. Remember ‘Rooseveltian’ relief? Good times.“

    Just the other day I had a friend who was baffled at how little has been done to help regular people the past nine months. I brought up the housing crisis and how 99.999999% of the relief went to bankers. They didn’t recall it being like that so found this article to share with them.

    The line about invoking “‘moral hazard,’ claiming that reducing Americans’ mortgage debts would incentivize delinquency” is really charming.

    Moral Hazard for thee, but not for me!

    Anyone else have a sinking feeling in their gut about the next few years? A feeling that the switch to Biden from Trump is merely just the difference between softer two-ply or abrasive one-ply toilet paper and either way we’re still swirling down the drain that is the toilet of America?

    1. ambrit

      Spot on. Some of us already are putting on our snorkel, mask, and flippers for the swim. (We can’t afford a wet suit.)

      1. Geo

        Them: “A rising tide lifts all boats!”

        Us: “I don’t have a boat.”

        Them: “Why not? Go get one.”

        Us: “I can’t afford one.”

        Them: “You should have planned better. Saved money. Learned to code.”

        Us: “can you toss me a life preserver?”

        Them: “No handouts! How will you learn to swim if I give you a life preserver?”

        Us: *glug*glug*glug*

        1. The Historian

          I love these little stories as logic problems, figuring out at what point the euphemism for “not my problem” enters the conversation. Here it was line 3.

        2. Phillip Cross

          Geo, I cant find the comment now, but i think saw you mention a film you had something to do with recently. Did I dream it,or did I misunderstand you? If not, what is the theme and title, how are you involved and where can it be viewed? I would like to watch it.

    2. The Historian

      You are absolutely right – we are going down that toilet no matter who is president. But Biden wants to ‘unite us’ and I think that is a GREAT idea. So instead of being torn apart by Trump’s culture wars, let’s unite against the real enemy – the people behind the curtain that actually control our government and our economics. Less BLM and more Occupy Wall Street!

        1. Geo

          When I was a kid I had a friend that had all of the He-Man toys and castles. He was a terrible friend who only did what he wanted to do but he let me play with the He-Men toys he didn’t like – as long as I did what he said they should do. This was still sorta fun for me since I barely had any cool toys of my own.

          I feel like this is Biden’s “friendship” with billionaires. He gets to pretend to have toys and they tell him what to do.

        2. rl

          billionaires are good folks when you get to know them.

          Indeed. You just have to know them (and properly venerate them, as you naturally would if you really knew them!) to not-not-matter to them.

    3. Pat

      And Trump is the two ply.

      Sure it was an election but while Biden was following the science (wink wink nod nod) and declaring he would veto MFA, Trump was using his limited official powers to put a hold on evictions.

      They are both hideous but Trump is actually more aware that people are drowning. He might ignore it most of the time but the extent of Biden’s awareness is limited to himself and his top donors.

      I will never stop saying the best thing the American public could have done was vote third party for President. A Possible green or libertarian planning their presidential transition would have struck fear in the entire Political Misleadership Class (hat tip to BAR). I am pretty damn sure as they were both fighting to overthrow the results we would find Nancy and Mitch falling all over their selves to give people free stuff, starting with extended and expanded UI and multiple relief checks. As a people we weren’t smart enough to reject the disasters they gave us to choose between.

      1. fresno dan

        December 11, 2020 at 9:26 am

        I will never stop saying the best thing the American public could have done was vote third party for President.
        I agree.
        But it is the conventional wisdom that voting 3rd party is wasting your vote. I just can’t believe that people won’t open their eyes and see voting for the repub or dem is wasting their vote…

        1. foghorn longhorn

          The Stockholm Syndrome is very, very strong in the exceptional land of the free.
          They, d or r, tell you straight up, they are going to abuse you, and we happily run out and get the biggest switch on the peach tree.

          Not even sure it is POSSIBLE at this point to break the cycle.

  11. ambrit

    Impending Zeitgeist Watch:
    We got the bill for the property tax for the “old homestead” down on the coast yesterday.
    On the document, tucked away in something else, all in small print, was this message: “After July 31, 2021 we will not accept personal checks.” So, I’m wondering, what exactly will we use as proof of payment now? Is a printed out copy of an electronic communication acceptable as proof in a court of law? Considering how the banks, abetted by a crooked judiciary, literally stole property from owners back in 2008-09, this question is more than rhetorical.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Is getting a bank check an option? But yeah, you do want do have a financial record. In triplicate. With at least one copy not stored on your premises.

      1. Lakisha

        Walk up to the counter at city hall with cash. ”
        “Take it or leave it, that’s my offer.”

        They charge 1% extra if you use a credit card to pay property taxes in Solano County, so to hell with that!

        1. ambrit

          Down here, the local County offices charge a 2.5% fee for credit card payment. This is, I was told by a county functionary, what the banks charge the County for clearing the electronic transfers.
          My problem is with out of town property owners. Since we moved north, it is an hour’s drive each way to the County Courthouse in our old place of residence.
          Stay safe!

          1. fresno dan

            December 11, 2020 at 10:12 am

            If this isn’t corruption, its hard to understand what the word means. It seems obvious to me that the credit card companies have gotten to your municipality.

            1. festoonic

              Here it’s third party software that mediates between our city and its citizens — an extra layer of rent extraction too good to pass up in the name of out-sourced efficiency.

    2. Wukchumni

      I’m takin’ that in the lower NADS, County tax collectors were getting too many NSF checks as a delaying tactic and are now resorting to hardball as in a clean payment.

      1. ambrit

        I don’t know about the motivations here. The County makes bank on late fees and such. Why kill that Golden Goose, unless there is a severe cash flow problem? Also, what about the banks and their “bounced cheques” fees?
        Something just doesn’t feel right about this development. Next is the possibility of a limit to cash payments?

        1. Wukchumni

          I think every county, duchy and such across the land is suffering from the extreme financial dieting craze they all fell for when tax revenue went out of fashion, causing them all to put on wait.

        2. polecat

          Here, in our hamlet, the Realm’s coin is verboten! Check only – so far … Evidently, creepy-crawlies are just find and dandy living (Ha!) on a personal check … but on cash notes, the HORROR!!!
          Go figure ..

          Me thinks our $chwabiancloud betters will attempt to make GloBull$h!tkoin a reality soon. Then beyond that, just outright stealing of resources, vie the Peacekeepers wand ….

          1. Salamader

            I’m curious as to how that is possible. “Legal currency, all debts public and private.” What if you were unbanked? Such people exist.

            1. polecat

              One has to mail-in the demi realm’s tribute, being that no one’s allowed to pay up in person!

              Just another great knock-on effect of pandemic×gov’s alchemy against the mokes.

              ‘Make the Ratchet Tighter Again’

    3. Amfortas the hippie

      when our property tax people frell things up egregiously, i pay them in feedsacks full of pennies.
      they generally blame a proprietary algorithm over which they have no control(me: “so why are we paying you, again?”).
      that’s what they told me when my beat up old trailerhouse appreciated by $10K in one year.
      it sucks, because i’m in favor of paying one’s taxes cheerfully(so long as everything’s above board and fair).
      but i keep having the same bit$h session with those folks every 3-4 years.
      that trailerhouse is not gold and jewel encrusted.
      with the state and local budget crises forthcoming, extra scrutiny will be needed.

      people don’t talk about personal finance….but from what i can gather, every year, the property tax office does these silly appreciations…on poor people.
      the hope….again, as near as i can tell…is that those people will just pay it.
      the handful that go to the trouble to contest the evaluations get them reversed easily.
      it’s a performance.
      but a handful of poor people end up not paying…and those properties end up in arrears…and if it goes on, with interest, end up being sold on the courthouse steps.
      the people most likely to be there to buy them up for a song…also happen to sit on the grievance board.
      one of the usual suspects is the father of the chief appraiser.
      all 4 of them are slumlords.

    4. polecat

      Better start collecting some pigs and chickens, ambrit … gotta have Somethin to pay the Sheriff of Note inghamfisted!

      I doubt turnips will cut it ..

    5. Anthony G Stegman

      Where I live property taxes can be paid via ACH, with no extra fees applied. A receipt can be printed from the computer, or saved on the computer. Easy as can be!! No more checks. I love it.

    6. The Rev Kev

      For a long while, our main telecommunications company – Telstra – charged people a coupla dollars if you paid them in cash, I kid you not. For some reason they were all hot and bothered about getting people’s banking details. But since I suspected that they sell our telephone and mobile numbers to Indian telemarketers, I said to hell with that and paid cash till that charge had to be put to a stop to by the government.

  12. PlutoniumKun

    China’s C919 commercial jet aspirations are overblown and no threat to Boeing or Airbus, Washington think tank finds South China Morning Post. :

    As Lambert has observed in the past, building airliners is very, very difficult.

    I can’t find a source, but I did see a while ago a claim that China has pumped $45 billion into Comac. I find that unlikely, but it is pretty clear that China has made a huge effort to be a player in the world civilian aerospace industry, and has so far failed. The C919 is simply not good enough, even for budget airlines. And of course for a few years we’ll see a world flush with cheap used 737’s and A320’s, making it even more superfluous. Because of politics and pride, China will probably continue to pump cash into it and force domestic (and a few minor international) airlines into buying it, and will continue to invest. They are trying to develop joint projects with Russia, but the Russians will probably be too sensible to give away too much technology to the Chinese, they’ve already been badly burned with military aviation (the Chinese essentially churning out Sukhoi copycats).

    Both the Japanese and Russians have tried very hard, and they seem to have their own disasters. The Mitsubishi Spacejet is being quietly scrapped. So decades of work by the Japanese to do a number on Boeing have failed. Its a fine aircraft, but it looks like they took the wrong option of going for the smaller regional jet market rather than facing up directly with a 737/A320 competitor. Its hard to see why anyone would buy a small jet when for pretty much the same price they could get a much larger, long distance one. The Sukhoi Superjet has also been a disaster, with again politics playing a role – it looks like it was forced into production a couple of years too early, with lots of dead bodies the result. Canadian Bombardier and Embraer have been pushed out or absorbed too.

    So that leaves a half dead Boeing along with Airbus. I doubt if Airbus is altogether too happy with this, as a cosy duopoly probably suited them a lot more than being an overt monopoly. But thanks to the incompetence of their competitors, thats where they find themselves. The French must be feeling pretty smug about this now.

  13. Krystyn Podgajski

    RE: Couch Surfing the Waves of American Poverty

    The report mentioned, in passing, that many homeless people stay with relatives or friends prior to becoming officially homeless, but “staying with relatives or friends” is a rather euphemistic phrase that does not capture the anxiety and desperation inherent in the struggle to keep a roof over your head when you can’t pay rent.

    I often half joke to people that it is easier to be homeless than to depend on people for housing like this. Even when I pay friends for a room the place is never really “mine” and not a home because I know it is always just temporary. And living under others rules can feel like being in a prison.

    1. Geo


      I’ve always tried to leave my place open to friends in need. Try to make it feel like their home and even let them take my room so they have privacy (I sleep in the living room often anyway). Some have stayed for only a few days and others for over a year. Never asked for rent or bills as the whole reason they are there is to get back on their feet.

      Had the tables turned in me a few times. Sadly, what goes around doesn’t always come around. I’d rather be in a car too then feel like an unwelcome squatter.

      It’s baffling to me how precious people are of their space.

      Fun side story: there’s a local homeless addict who occasionally hangs out in my patio. I let him hang there since it’s a rare safe/quiet place for him in the area. Brought him a glass of OJ once and as thanks he offered a hit off his pipe (I declined). Made me think of the many kind gestures toward friends and acquaintances that never received an equal gesture in return. Not that gestures should be tit for tat but was nice to have the gratitude from this man who doesn’t even know me.

  14. Wukchumni

    Let’s go surfin’ now
    Everybody’s learning how
    Come on and safari with me
    (Come on and safari with)

    At Huntington and Malibu
    They’re buddies with betters with beds
    At Rincon they’re worn out their welcome
    We’re going on safari to the SFV burbs this year
    So if you’re coming get ready to go

    They’re anglin’ in Laguna for a pee’d-à-terre
    They’re couch’ing in Doheny too
    I tell you surfin’ for an empty bed
    It’s getting bigger every day
    From Hawaii to the shores of West Quoddy Head

    Let’s go surfin’ now
    Everybody’s learning how
    Come on and safari with me
    (Come on and safari with)

    With me
    Surfin’ safari
    With me
    Surfin’ safari
    With me
    Surfin’ safari
    With me
    Surfin’ safari

  15. Alex1

    Re Western Sahara, I know literally about the situation there and how bad the oppression is, but I know for sure that all the media, far-left, far-right and mainstream, absolutely didn’t care about it until now.

    Also the article doesn’t really explain how the global food security would suffer as a result of the recognition of Moroccan claims. Why would it be better if the phosphates ended up in independent Western Sahara rather than in Morocco? And considering that Morocco has occupied it for almost 50 years already, it’s not like Morocco was going to renounce its claims even without the US recognition.

      1. Alex1

        I wouldn’t call 4 articles in the first eleven months of 2020 extensive coverage, but it’s probably better than most of the other media.

  16. The Rev Kev

    “North Korea wasted chance to improve relations under Trump, U.S. envoy says”

    ‘U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun admitted he was disappointed denuclearisation negotiations had stalled and that more progress was not made during his time leading those efforts.’

    Maybe Stephen hasn’t been keeping up on past events but I remember that maniac John Bolton telling North Korea that they were going to do a Libya on them. As that ended with Gaddafi getting a bayonet up the wazoo, I don’t think that that was exactly a confidence builder for Kim that.

  17. Wukchumni

    Obama prevailed by a single vote in 2012, while Trump triumphed in the single digits in 2016, here on just the other side of nowhere…

    This year’s numbers were wider:

    Three Rivers voted for Biden-Harris 757 to 649 for Trump-Pence. Conversely, Tulare County voters chose Trump-Pence by almost the same margin 52 percent to 48 percent for Biden-Harris.

    In the race for Congress in the 23rd district that includes Three Rivers, Democratic challenger Kim Mangone received 715 votes to 683 for incumbent and minority congressional leader, Kevin McCarthy. In the rest of the district in Tulare County outside of Three Rivers, McCarthy was the leading vote-getter at a 57 percent clip, the margin he won by district-wide.

  18. Pat

    Anybody but me looking at the revelation that Barr hid the extent of Hunter Biden’s problems and think not just thumb on the election scales, but how much of a head start this is on the coming impeachment.

    Not sure how this will effect the desire for Kamala to be in office less than two years. Will this force Joe out before the midterms because the coming trial will be so destructive to the status quo, or does he hang in and resign right after everyone new is sworn in just before they can start the warp speed in order to allow Harris to run twice.

    This is all going to be “fun” in so many ways. Most Americans don’t deserve what we are getting. Not on any front.

    1. Eureka Springs

      What, over 140 million just cast a vote for the duopoly? Those 140 million definitely deserve it and much much worse, imo.

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      I was thinking the same thing.

      Of course, there’s also the fact that barr knew at the time of the last impeachment that the issue was not the bogus “Russian disinformation” that it was being made out to be and kept quiet. “Ongoing” investigations and all. I think we can all quit waiting for the “explosive” Durham report. Not much chance of that surfacing any time soon, if ever, especially if sally yates is nominated to be barr’s successor.

      Who the hell is this guy anyway?

    3. Jessica

      Harris has to wait until January 21[20?], 2023 to take over the presidency if she wants to run twice more.
      Not that it will matter.

    4. fresno dan

      December 11, 2020 at 9:40 am

      I will put forth the proposition that Barr is the most honorable man at the DoJ in the last 5 or 6 presidencies. I was looking at a list of all the “terrible” things he has done under the Trump administration, and despite the near universal MSM saying how bad Barr is, I agree more with Barr than his critics.
      In a nutshell:
      1. Barr made the Mueller report LOOK bad – uh, as there was no Russia collusion evidence, something the Mueller report CONCLUDES, going on about how Barr makes the Mueller report look bad is pretty specious. I recall a congressional hearing, and it wasn’t Barr who made Mueller look bad – it was Mueller himself…
      2. Saying that the instigation of the Russia collusion investigation was “justified” maybe OK on narrow legalistic grounds, but I think an objective and dispassionate analysis shows it was pretty much what MSM is screaming about now – trying to overturn an election. And it is kinda disingenuous to equate STARTING and investigation and ignore STOPPING the investigation after it became OBVIOUS that there was no there there.
      3. Publicly maligning FBI agents involved in the whole Carter Page fiasco? Those agents, BESIDES being maligned, should be prosecuted, convicted, and serve real sentences. So much for the people who go on and on about civil liberties, i.e., civil liberties for me but not for my political opponents.
      4. I don’t know if Barr directly allowed Lafayette square to be cleared – if he did, that was terrible.

      I think Barr has been pretty level headed, dispassionate, and REALITY BASED about speaking about the 2020 election. His critics have been COMPLETELY delusional in speaking about Russian collusion. At least Trump may be truly mentally ill, but ALL the people involved in perpetuating Russiagate can’t use that as an excuse – they really tried to overturn an election but truly despicable manipulation of the DoJ and FBI.

      Finally, Barr “hiding” Hunter Biden’s problems seems to me to be in accord with DoJ not bringing up politically controversial things before an election. Did anybody REALLY not know about the charges against Hunter Biden? It seems to me Barr is much more in accord with the DoJ policies than Comey was with regard to Clinton and the classified information on her servers, and than how Comey handled Crossfire Hurricane.

      I think Comey and Barr is a perfect example that once one is in a bubble, not ONLY is it that Orange Man Bad, but all sorts of associated officials MUST be bad as well, not matter what they actually do, and all the people on your own side MUST be good.

      1. Pat

        I am ambivalent about Barr, which is actually a recommendation considering the way I feel about most of Washington’s players. I don’t really disagree with you. In point of fact the bigger players regarding the silence about Hunter were the media. (Too many good “resistance till brunch is restored” voters really are going to be shocked if there is an extensive investigation that goes public. Finding out old Joe has been selling influence for decades just laundering through his kids and brother… say it ain’t so Joe!)

        Yes, I do think this is just the beginning. And no Barr is and was not the gate keeper here, this leak/revelation just starts the landslide. The saddest thing is there is more there there than there was for Mueller. The bigger question is going to be how much of the real depth of corruption will be allowed to be investigated. Just like with emoluments, investigating real high crimes might break too many rice bowls and will be off the table.

        But the circuses must continue, cannot let the public realize how they are consistently being royally family blogged and not just by orange men and human turtles..

      2. Katniss Everdeen

        Finally, Barr “hiding” Hunter Biden’s problems seems to me to be in accord with DoJ not bringing up politically controversial things before an election.

        The wsj article is paywalled, so from this one:

        Subsequent media reports said the investigation was broader in scope than he [hunter biden] initially indicated, however, with The New York Times revealing that the tax investigation grew out of what started off as a money-laundering investigation in late 2018. Politico also reported, citing one source, that in addition to Delaware prosecutors, the securities-fraud unit at the Manhattan US attorney’s office investigated Hunter Biden’s finances, and as of early 2019 prosecutors in both Delaware and Washington, DC, were examining possible foreign ties and money laundering.

        “Late 2018” is only “before an election” in the sense that everything after the last election is “before” the next one.

        This was information on corruption of a previous administration that the american public deserved to know, before joe biden ever became a candidate. It was also information that would have impacted the impeachment of the constitutionally elected current president. Damn straight it was “controversial,” as it should have been. It was also known fact.

        And barr did not keep silent in a vacuum. As Greenwald points out in my link above, barr said absolutely NOTHING while human shitstains brennan and clapper and 50 other “intelligence professionals” claimed relentlessly that this had “all the hallmarks of Russian disinformation” which he knew absolutely NOT to be true. And the scandalously partisan corporate media was free to run with the lies unchallenged.

        If this is “honorable” behavior, this country is well and truly screwed.

        1. fresno dan

          Katniss Everdeen
          December 11, 2020 at 12:37 pm

          So, long story short, you are saying Barr was REALLY a Hillary plant?
          If Trump doesn’t like Barr now (how we forget all the effusive praise from Trump to Barr) I think the most parsimonious explanation is that Barr is making decisions based upon the law.
          I would defend Barr by saying the investigating prosecutors were investigating in 2018, and they continued to investigate. Did Barr stop any investigations, or delay any prosecutions? Did Barr advance any unjust investigations or prosecutions? Barr didn’t interfere in ongoing investigations – as is the law. I’ve read plenty about Hunter Biden – to the extent the MSM doesn’t cover Hunter, I think that is on the MSM.
          Barr appointed Durham, and though I think people should be prosecuted (including FISA judges) for the Carter Page abomination, it is going through the legal process, and as far as I can see, Barr has done this without fear or favor.
          As far as I can see, both the dems and repubs hate Barr, and to me, that is a pretty good recommendation…
          As far as Barr having to correct all the disinformation in Washington, there are not enough hours in eternity…

          1. GF

            The non-starter for me, concerning if Barr is a competent AG who follows the law, is when he ordered the Washington DC police commander at the scene to forcibly remove the non-violent protesters so Trump could make his bible photo op while the light was good and get back to the WH before Hannity. He should have been removed from office for that little ditty.

          2. pjay

            There seems to be very little knowledge here of Barr’s past history in government.

            Barr started out in the CIA. After graduating from law school he “retired” from the CIA, going on to hold several important positions in the Reagan and Bush I administrations (including AG during the latter). Much of his career has involved covering up CIA adventures: Iraq-gate,BCCI, Iran-Contra, etc. This usually involved sacrificing a few scapegoats and providing a few limited-hangout mea culpas, as with Iran-Contra. As Bush’s AG, he was instrumental in the blanket pardon Bush granted before he left office.

            This is all a matter of public record. When his appointment as Trump’s AG was announced, I was absolutely certain that the major Russiagate culprits in the intelligence community would be protected. As was so often the case, Trump was clueless here until it was too late. The faction of right-wing Trump backers that have some “deep-state” connections (e.g.Flynn) are second stringers playing with the big boys.

      3. polecat

        You seem to forget that he just shrugged indifference, as ‘Mia Tai’ Jeff supposedly ‘slipped’ and ‘died in his cell … where’s the justice there?

    5. Geo

      I’m still waiting for Hunter to serve a lengthy prison term for admitted crack use. His father wrote the law sentencing crack smokers to obscene punishments. He should have to live by those laws too.

      Unless, laws are only applicable to us little people? But that can’t be true in the land of the free.

    6. Anthony G Stegman

      What does Hunter Biden’s problems have to do with Joe Biden? How are Hunter’s problems impeachable offenses for Joe? Inquiring minds wish to know.

      1. ambrit

        “Creepy” Joe is implicated in the moneys disbursed. References to “The Big Man” wanting a cut of ill gotten gains plus other unsavoury elements.
        It is “Creepy” Joe’s involvement in Hunter’s shenanigans that are impeachable.
        Don’t forget that the “Russiagate” hoax has opened the door for semi-truthy “events” to be actionable offenses. That djinn is out of the bottle now. There will be no putting it back in.

    7. dk

      Just want to point out that if the material on Hunter Biden that Barr withheld was not particularly damaging (within the scope of the investigation, which by some reports was looking for money laundering not into HB in particular), then there is nothing particularly pattern-breaking about Barr keeping it under wraps.

      Similarly the material may have compromised someone or something else that would be disadvantage to Trump or more likely some Trump donors. But imo the nothing-burger scenario is more likely.

  19. The Rev Kev

    “The U.S. Was Late to China’s Rise 20 Years Ago. What Is It Missing Today?”

    ‘The scholar who made the presentation used a projector to dramatic effect as he argued that in the decades ahead, it was almost certain that China—then very far from a peer competitor with the United States, whether in military or economic terms—would eventually make it impossible for American aircraft carriers to operate with impunity in the region.’

    Can you imagine is something like this was said in a briefing to British officers say, 140 years ago? It would read as follows-

    ‘The scholar who made the presentation used a lithograph to dramatic effect as he argued that in the decades ahead, it was almost certain that the United States—then very far from a peer competitor with the British Empire, whether in military or economic terms—would eventually make it impossible for British battleships to operate with impunity in their region.’

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      140 years ago? There was a reason the UK was playing footsie with the Confederacy, and the Brits were always drawing up plans to defend Canada. With USians, the Brits weren’t having to deal with the usual Western foreign policy disease of orientalism and could see clearly.

      In economic terms, I’m not so sure. I think it’s in the Bismarck book that everyone had 20 or so years ago with a comparison chart of industrial output of Germany/Prussia, the UK, and France. There was a note about the US which dwarfed those little countries in that particular metric.

      The Internet tell me it was 1890 when the US surpassed the UK in economic matters.

    2. fresno dan

      The Rev Kev
      December 11, 2020 at 10:01 am

      I would put forth the proposition that the USA, having to be number 1 in the world with regard to military supremacy, is why we don’t have universal healthcare today.
      And 20 years from now, after we have lost military supremacy, we still won’t be able to have universal health care because all available resources must be used to restore military supremacy…

      1. Geo

        This is what I think of when I read about how poor people shouldn’t have flat screen TVs and Nike shoes.

        They’re just doing what our leaders do. We claim to have no money for healthcare and social safety nets but we have plenty for shiny war toys.

  20. Wukchumni

    ‘A total blessing’: Sacramento County gives $1,000 payments to residents affected by COVID-19 Sacramento Bee
    Just what lengths would one go in order to become a Thousandaire in Sacramento?

    For an overwhelming amount of people that test positive, nothing much happens.

  21. Wukchumni

    Is it just me, or does anybody else have difficulty figuring who’s who behind a mask saving face, when you run into them on the street?

    It was such a focal point previously, among the 200 I know by name & face. but not by any other body part.

    1. fresno dan

      December 11, 2020 at 10:33 am

      There are all sorts of people at stores that I know on site by sight that I usually just smile at, and never exchange words with. A nod of the head is a poor substitute, because it is so much quicker, and you don’t know if the person saw it in the instant it happened, while a smile can be continuous while near the person.
      As well as its hard to hear what people who are masked in a big box store (everybody) are saying while you are passing each other.

        1. marym

          I’ve been going with thumbs up, waves, and slight bows from the waist as greetings and thank-you’s. Open to further suggestions

        2. Anonymous

          Body language.

          My eyesight is poor but I can almost always recognize body language, mask or no mask.

          That and “the eyes which tell no lies”.

          I don’t like my poor eyesight but it’s been a blessing too …

          Doctor, my eyes.

    2. petal

      It happened to me the other night at the store. A guy came up to me and asked “Heidi?” (not my name), and I said “No, I’m sorry, not her.” I also have a hard time recognising people because of the masks. If I’m not sure, I won’t say hi and will just walk by.

  22. lcn

    Sick and tired of Trump’s and some Republicans’ continuing election fraud charge. Not a single court case filed on the allegation merited favorable ruling.

    Yes, Uncle Joe might have been a horrible choice but we can’t deal with possibly yanking some of his anti-progressive policies unless we could proceed from the highly divisive and paralysis inducing protests on the legitimacy of the last elections.

    1. Michael Fiorillo

      Considering that Russiagate, if not a soft coup attempt, was also promulgated and maintained in order to call into question the 2016 election (and constrain, if not remove, Trump), I’d say that horse has already left the barn.

      1. lcn

        I’m not sure about Putingate but as far as I recall Miss Hillary did in fact concede.

        Would Trump’s continuing non-concession not flirt with civil strife and possible violence?

        1. Aumua

          Yep it sucks. It’s a lose-lose situation. There’s no silver lining. There’s no good side, and hardly even a better side, if that.

        2. chuck roast

          I am unaware of any law or statute that requires someone who lost an election make a concession speech or write a concession letter or even say, “whatever.” Since when does El Douchee display good form or civilized behavior. If he doesn’t want to concede…so what…he is who he is. This concession nonsense is just a continuation of Trumpist strum und drang and fodder for the brunchistas. Trump will walk out of the White House on the morning of January 20th or his old lady will drag him out.

          1. lcn

            Conceding in American political tradition ensures orderly transfer of governance and power in contrast to the practice of autocrats, dictators, and feudal monarchs of yore.

            Trump is destroying this tradition based on wholly unsubstantiated claim of fraud and fueling the angry base which could ignite chaos and violence. MAGA!

            1. ewmayer

              “Conceding in American political tradition ensures orderly transfer of governance” — say what now? You mean there’s not an actual well-defined constitutional process for declaring an official winner of an election, and the whole thing depends on one of the nominees making a concession speech? Whoa! Well, I’ll be hornswoggled – I could swear our HS civics and history teachers rattling on about some “electoral college” thing and the result determining who won, and what to do if there were a tie there. All lies! So instead of promulgating a complicated “faithless electors” scheme after the vote in 2016, all Hillary & co needed to do was not concede, and let all the Clintonites and Obamaists in the DC establishment basically declare her dictator-for-life. Shocked the founders didn’t think of a less chaos-inviting arrangement. Guess the country dodged a bullet for 240-odd years by way of having only polite candidates, who always knew when to concede and not let the country slide into dictatorship.

              1. tegnost

                seriously. The idea that you didn’t lose until you concede is silly.
                Somebody linked me van jones thoughtfully explaining this nonsense back in october

                1. lcn

                  It’s not so much the institutional and official determination of winners and losers that’s being compromised. By continually not conceding on spurious claims of fraud, he is fanning the embers of discord and violence.

                  That scenario is of course scripted from Steve Bannon’s playbook. Do you think that’s the right way to effect social/political /economic change?

                  1. Aumua

                    By continually not conceding on spurious claims of fraud, he is fanning the embers of discord and violence.

                    Yeah but so what? That’s Trump for you. That’s what he does. I’m just so done freaking out about Trump, and everything he says, and everything he does. After 4 years of this I just can’t find any more outrage or shock. All my pearls have been clutched into dust.

                    1. Yves Smith

                      After two years of non-stop Russiagate as the centerpiece of the claim that Hillary was defrauded in 2016, the opposition can hardly whine about sowing discord and violence.

        3. ambrit

          I like the way you tried to evade the animus surrounding the term “Russiagate” by morphing it into ‘Putingate.’
          And, no, if actions are any guide, Mz Hillary did not really concede. She and her minions kept up the anti-Trump “Big Lie” campaign for ‘Four More Years.’
          Thus, all things being equal, Trump can now cite precedent for contesting the 2020 election “results” for the next four years.
          As for civil strife and violence; hah! Ask any of the people who have had loved ones killed by the police in sketchy circumstances over the last decade about “violence.”
          What is really feared by the elites is that the plebs are going to deny the police forces their traditional monopoly on the use of force.
          We live in interesting times.

            1. ambrit

              From your lips to the Department of Homeland Security’s ears.
              What do you not understand about desperate people having nothing left to lose?
              Obama completely destroyed the symbolical value of “Hope.” Now, all that is left is “Change.”

              1. lcn

                Yup, Trump is desperate and really have nothing left to lose. He’ll be facing tax liabilities, lawsuits, bankruptcies etc. That’s why he doesn’t really care if he burns this whole place down as he exits. Might as well milk the base for contributions.

                1. ambrit

                  So, you never heard of the Clinton Foundation?
                  Obama’s Mausoleum in fabled Chicago? The seaside compound on Martha’s Vineyard where, under the dark of the moon frenzied acolytes perform unspeakable rites in honour of the Thing that arises from out of the waves just offshore?
                  But you leave out the important bits. It is not just Trump who is facing a near term future of legal entanglements and physical and psychological degradations. It is roughly a half of the American populace so burdened.

        4. Lambert Strether Post author

          > as far as I recall Miss Hillary did in fact concede.

          I’m sure with a little reflection you’ll see that concession and “call[ing] into question the 2016 election” are entirely compatible. Also, of course, the money. You gotta respect the grift, as I keep saying.

      2. marym

        Both establishment “sides” do bad things. It’s important to identify systemic issues, and cause/effect issues. However it’s also important not to deflect from understanding unique causes and potential effects of a current issue by saying butwhatabout some other time and issue.

        Russiagate, whatever its evils and stupidities, didn’t cause Trump and Republicans to decide black people in urban areas voting is fraud and must be suppressed. That’s an on-going and multifaceted (and sometimes Dem-complicit) project. The unsubstantiated allegations of fraud in the 2020 election are already having consequences in feeding Republican voter suppression demands ahead of the GA run-off Senate election.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > The unsubstantiated allegations of fraud in the 2020 election are already having consequences

          If one of the consequences of partisan binary thinking on election fraud is to legitimate inherently unauditable ballot marking devices I will be very unhappy.

          1. marym

            There are election security bill(s) (not sure if there’s more than one) passed by the House but stalled in the Senate that may include requirements for a paper audit trail. See HR 1 – Section 1502

            “(i) PAPER BALLOT REQUIREMENT.— (I) The voting system shall require the use of an individual, durable, voter-verified paper ballot of the voter’s vote that shall be marked and made available for inspection and verification by the voter before the voter’s vote is cast and counted, and which shall be counted by hand or read by an optical character recognition device or other counting device…
            “(ii) PRESERVATION AS OFFICIAL RECORD.—The individual, durable, voter-verified paper ballot used in accordance with clause (i) shall constitute the official ballot and shall be preserved and used as the official ballot for purposes of any recount or audit conducted with respect to any election for Federal office in which the voting system is used.
            “(iii) MANUAL COUNTING REQUIREMENTS FOR RECOUNTS AND AUDITS.— (I) Each paper ballot used pursuant to clause (i) shall be suitable for a manual audit, and shall be counted by hand in any recount or audit conducted with respect to any election for Federal office.

            It will be interesting to see which of the supposed many good bills that passed in the House but not the Senate will survive into the next term, especially if the Dems, to their dismay, take the Senate.

            Technology may be moving more toward auditable paper. In Cook County IL paperless touchscreens have been replaced with touchscreen which generates a voter verifiable paper ballot that goes into the scanner, and is used for audits/recounts.

      3. Another Scott

        Have you forgotten that Democrats won’t let you have a rational conversation involving Trump? I tried comparing the GOP’s reaction to Trump losing to Dem’s reaction to Trump winning (both the faithless electors and Russiagate), and they wouldn’t have any of it.

    2. Lex

      I don’t think they expect to win. They want to be seen exhausting every possibility, to protest the election results. How would it have looked to those 70 million Trump voters if they had not? They have a brand to protect. FWIW.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Its not dissimilar to the Bork vote.

        Though, to a certain extent, the GOP is fairly dedicated to delegitimizing Democrats whenever possible. This is nothing new except Obama and Clinton won by much larger margins in relevant states. After decades of alleging voter fraud, the GOP needs to look like they tried as they have a healthy respect/fear of their voters. This is par for the course for the GOP. There is a reason i think anyone espousing bipartisanship is mindless. It will be four years of “Biden the President in name only” kind of stuff.

        It also gives the GOP a point of contention without having to promise anything especially as Biden won’t do much more than pick fights with the left and be a listless ship.

  23. Carolinian

    Re section 230–this seems to be the essence of the EFF analysis

    It’s true that online services do not have the same liability for their content that print media does. Unlike publications like newspapers that are legally responsible for the content they print, online publications are relieved of this liability by Section 230. The major distinction the law creates is between online and offline publication, a recognition of the inherent differences in scale between the two modes of publication. (Despite claims otherwise, there is no legal significance to labeling an online service a “platform” as opposed to a “publisher.”)

    But an additional purpose of Section 230 was to eliminate any distinction between those who actively select, curate, and edit the speech before distributing it and those who are merely passive conduits for it. Before Section 230, courts effectively disincentivized platforms from engaging in any speech moderation. Section 230 provides immunity to any “provider or user of an interactive computer service” when that “provider or user” republishes content created by someone or something else, protecting both decisions to moderate it and those to transmit it without moderation.

    In other words they are saying that the law offers legal immunity to all moderation decisions including what might be called censorship as long as the website is a private party. Of course there are those who say this special legal protection is a reason why Facebook has become so big and monopolistic but perhaps the current focus on section 230 isn’t even about that. One gets the impression that the opponents are not so much interested in crushing a semi monopoly as in getting it to further abuse its power by doing even more censorship.

    The article says the real response to Facebook should be more robust antitrust. One can but dream?

    1. fresno dan

      December 11, 2020 at 11:18 am

      It seems to me Facebook wants enough censorship not to devolve into IChan or ZeroHedge, which would prevent enough subscribers to make Mr. Zuckerberg billions upon billions less rich, but enough censorship at the same time so that Zuck is immune from any legal tribulations from practicing FINANCIAL censorship (i.e., censorship undertaken to maintain the highest possible profits).
      My view is that you are either a totally open platform, with no censorship whatsoever, and get boycotted by left, right, gay, evangelicals, Jews, Palestinians, and any other group offended by posters on your site ad infinitum, OR you play by the same rules as print publications. I think logic and fair dealing should prevail, but in the USA, keeping billionaires rich seems to be the overarching goal…

      1. meme

        Zerohedge announced today that it is going to start comment moderation on its free, ad-supported website and will be charging $1/day for its new premium unmoderated offering, which will also add more market related content.

        Which is why what troubles us most, far more than the Fed’s vain and futile attempt to control the business cycle and plan markets (for the eventual outcome, see USSR), are the creeping attempts by various multinational entities and corporations to quash free speech, both elsewhere and here. It started with Facebook, which in May 2019 became the first “social network” to ban ZeroHedge, only to reverse shortly after (admitting it had made a mistake); this was followed a little over half a year later by Twitter, which “permanently” banned our account, only to admit 6 months later that it had “made a mistake” and reinstated us. But barely had the digital ink on these “mistaken” attempts to censor free speech dried, when the world’s biggest online advertising monopoly, Google, took the unprecedented step of demonetizing the website (following a similar step taken by PayPal). Why? Because it disapproved of the language in our comments (how or why it picked on this website’s comment section as opposed to millions of others, we will never know). To avoid a shutdown, and against our wishes, we were forced to implement comment moderation as the alternative was insolvency. Also, contrary to occasional laughable rumors, we don’t and have never had access to outside capital – be it political or financial – and have been reliant on the same advertising model we have used since inception.

        Needless to say, whether due to “mistakes” or overt attempts to demonetize us, the writing on the wall was clear: while they may be entirely within their rights to do whatever they want as “private” companies, pardon monopolies, the ‘social’ and ad-based gatekeepers of online content – the twitters, the googles, the facebooks of the world – had launched an overt crusade to upend the uncensored internet, to snuff out independent thought, contrarian views, and inconvenient opinions and create one giant echo chamber of consent straight out of George Orwell. To do that they would use any and every tool they have access to, and unfortunately we had to comply with the whims of these monopolies which nobody in Congress has the guts to challenge directly and to strip them of their too-big-to-question powers.

        1. fresno dan

          December 11, 2020 at 2:12 pm

          Wow, thanks for that. I always have to tell myself that although it seems like a lot of people, that out of the population of the US the commenters on Zero Hedge are not a real threat to civilization.
          But Zero Hedge can’t really whine and bitch about PRIVATE enterprises choosing not to do business with Zero Hedge, as Zero Hedge is such an advocate of unadulterated capitalism and zero government regulation. I always enjoy the rich irony of those who shout the loudest about the virtues of capitalism who wail the loudest when it causes their own failures…and how there should be LAWS and REGULATION to prevent the BIG BAD CORPORATIONS on picking on poor wittle Zero Hedge. As far as Zero Hedge being against monopolies, I’ll believe it when I see it – Zero Hedge doesn’t have to deal with Facebook or Google – they want to because they want MASS Market access and the money that comes from that. Fine, but if you want the money of the mass market you have to accept the conventions of the mass market.
          Finally, ALWAYS check your hot water and soap supplies for a long, long, LONG hot shower after reading the Zero Hedge comments or IChan…

          1. meme

            I’ve been reading/scanning ZH since the financial crisis, I gave up reading comments there, for the most part, since the commentariat gradually became dominated by knuckle draggers.
            I will occasionally post a Marxist rant when the silly libertarians from Mises post something outrageous, or source links when I think some “facts” need refutation.
            I guess that makes me a troll, but it seems like so few there have developed their critical thinking skills, and I feel it is a public service to put forth a different perspective.

        2. Aumua

          This site has had a “soft ban” on Zerohedge for some time as well, and not without good reason. It’s interesting to see them attempting to reign in the insanity now.

          1. Carolinian

            A corollary to section 230 is that one should be careful when it comes to judging sites by their comments since they often are unmoderated. i don’t think I’ve ever once read the comments on Zerohedge or for that matter Sic Semper Tyrannis. But both can have some interesting articles.

          2. Yves Smith

            The problem with ZH is its content. It is utterly unconcerned about accuracy and a high proportion of its stories are either flat out wrong or make incorrect inferences.

            ZH has relentlessly attacked NC and sent armies of trolls over when we questioned some of their terrible reporting (for instance, just about everything they write about the Fed is wrong). The fact that they won’t tolerate reasoned criticism means we are not willing to promote or drive traffic to them in any manner. I don’t know how even this discussion was approved. It shouldn’t have been.

    2. The Rev Kev

      When I saw the letters EFF after the title of that article, I wondered if it should have been a FFS instead. That article really did sound like the EFF carrying water for mobs like Facebook.

      1. ewmayer

        Uh, that is exactly what EFF does – have a gander at Yasha Levine now and again:

        “EFF is America’s oldest and most influential internet business lobby — an organization that has played a pivotal role in shaping the internet as it exists today. That privatized telecommunication system that’s owned by giant monopolies, powered by for-profit surveillance and influence ops, dominated by spies, and lacking any democratic oversight? Yep, that one. EFF is directly responsible for bringing it into being — and for making sure it stays privatized, shitty, and oligarchic.”

        1. Carolinian

          Yet another bete noire for Yasha? Color me not entirely convinced. It’s quite true that the internet was built on a highly libertarian foundation and that the claims of altruism by some of its heavy hitters like Jobs and the Google partners have not panned out. But you could say that about almost any institution that becomes big and powerful and therefore corrupted by power. If the alternative is the mainstream press then they too are private interests and even more concentrated and arguably dangerous. Is Levine “lobbying” for them while talking about “democracy” (does it die in darkness)?

          I think Levine greatly overstates the peril of commercial spying that is used in order to sell you things while, in your link, pooh poohing the danger of government spying by the NSA and others. The private versus government power centers are at war with each other as gets discussed here all the time. But both can have their points without some cartoon good versus evil framework.

  24. anonymous

    RE: question about whether the Pfizer vaccine blocks infection

    Here are the relevant questions and answers from yesterday’s FDA VRBPAC meeting:

    After the Pfizer presentation, Dr. Arnold Monto, University of Michigan School of Public Health, VRBPAC chair, asked how asymptomatic infections are going to be measured. Kathrin Jansen, PhD, Pfizer, said the protocol was designed to monitor and explore whether the vaccine is efficacious against asymptomatic infection by monitoring with an N-protein test (antibodies to the nucleocapsid would be from infection, since the vaccine should only generate antibodies to the S protein) and hopes analysis will be completed early in the new year. Pfizer will be collecting serological samples through the 24 months. 

    Later, in the questions before the vote, Dr. Patrick Moore, University of Pittsburgh, asked about the effect of the vaccine on virus carriage or shedding, although he noted that the FDA did not ask for this. Dr Moore asked Pfizer to perform nucleic acid assays in the placebo group before unblinding, as this data will be lost once the unblinding occurs. Dr. Monto interjected that the CDC will be doing this during observational studies, as there are sample size issues and factors such as a need to look at households, where transmission will take place. Kathrin Jansen said Pfizer is looking into determining asymptomatic infection and into doing PCR tests to look for prevention of virus acquisition. She added that non-human primate studies show the virus is more transiently detected in the vaccinated animals and also that infection is prevented in the lung.  

    Short answer: more information will be forthcoming from Pfizer and the CDC. Although sterilizing immunity would be ideal (I think it unlikely from what I’ve read so far), prevention of serious disease is still a big deal. I think the lay press might be setting up unrealistic expectations and causing confusion by writing about immunity passports and such.

    1. cuibono

      “prevention of serious disease is still a big deal.”

      It is , and you will note that they have not shown this!

      1. anonymous

        Yes, it was suggestive, with very small numbers. 
        One needs to remember that this is an EMERGENCY Use Authorization. A decision needed to be made on whether there was enough evidence of protection and safety not to deny the US population the vaccine, with thousands of Covid deaths a day in the country, and a failure to crush the virus with other public health measures, while waiting for larger numbers and further studies. We will only get the information we need as more people are vaccinated and with additional monitoring.

        1. Yves Smith

          No, experts have pointed out there is NO evidence with the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines they reduce transmission, and only some evidence with the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine. The mRNA vaccines may eventually develop some proof of transmission reduction but there is none as of now.

          1. anonymous

            I was answering Cuibono about severe disease. No evidence for reduction in transmission has been released to date for the mRNA vaccines, but this is being followed. Fauci in the interview above said that maybe we will find that viral replication is reduced by vaccination enough that someone can be infected, but not infectious, but we just don’t know yet. For now, if the vaccine seems to prevent disease, if not infection or transmission, that’s better than no vaccine.

            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              > For now, if the vaccine seems to prevent disease, if not infection or transmission, that’s better than no vaccine.

              I am wondering about a scenario with low uptake (40-50%) and no transmission reduction. Is that better than no vaccine? What if people give up masking and social distancing because they feel the vaccine makes them unnecessary?

              1. Skip Intro

                Even with large uptake, if transmission isn’t substantially reduced, but symptoms are, the virus will spread quickly, as the vaccinated abandon masks and social distancing. Those whose access to vaccine does not actually lead to vaccination will thus be under much greater threat of infection. And if the vaccine needs a refresher every year or two, and the virus has become endemic, well that’s just good business.
                Personally, I imagine that the reduction of symptoms is enough to reduce transmission.

  25. Wukchumni

    SEQUOIA CREST, CALIF. — Until a few years ago, about the only thing that killed an old-growth giant sequoia was old age.

    Not only are they the biggest of the world’s trees, by volume — the General Sherman Tree, considered the largest, is 36 feet in diameter at its base and 275 feet tall — they are among the oldest. At least one fallen giant sequoia was estimated to have been more than 3,200 years old.

    They last so long that, historically, only one or two of every thousand old-growth trees dies annually, according to Nate Stephenson, a research ecologist for the United States Geological Survey.

    Fire always was a frequent visitor to sequoia groves, but rarely a threat. Mature sequoias are virtually fireproof because the bark can be several feet thick. The crowns, the top where branches and needles are, are so high that they stayed above the fray of fire, out of harm’s way.

    Until now.

    Dr. Stephenson was home in Three Rivers, Calif., this summer as the Castle Fire raged in the nearby mountains. Ash and debris fell from the sky, big enough to be identified.

    “I could go, ‘Oh, there’s a fir needle, that’s incense cedar, that’s oak, that’s a pine,’” Dr. Stephenson said. “Then I saw a piece of giant sequoia ash, and that really drove it home. I thought, ‘Oh, no, I bet some of those sequoias, their crowns are burning.’”

    The craziest thing I heard of that fell from the heavens along with ash into somebody’s yard here was a scorched half of a check, or as it was termed ‘toast-dated’.

    We really ought to replicate conditions in the Sequoia groves before we got here, and cut down all of the lesser trees withing a certain perimeter of them. When fire came through all the time once upon a mountain, a White Fir or Lodgepole 125 feet tall adjacent to a Sequoia never got a chance to get that lofty and a danger to Sequoias which are largely fireproof, that is until you get in the branches which start anywhere from about 25 to 75 feet up.

  26. fresno dan
    This is about that case in Missouri where a couple was charged with…well, I don’t know the specific charges – brandishing a weapon I suppose.
    I don’t know how often judges really scrutinize prosecutors, but I suspect not nearly often enough.
    Of course, if everybody gets to open carry guns, how soon before brandishing becomes pointing? And as I have posted before, in the sixties in CA, the black panthers were big believers in the 2nd amendment, and Ronald Reagan was a big believer in gun control.
    So I imagine that at some point whatever groups oppose one another are gonna start exercising their right to open carry. And brandishing will evolve into a person perceiving a gun being pointed to be fired, so “I was in fear for my life and shot first in self defense.” I know the police can use the I was in fear of my life, and JUSTIFY shooting first. I am not sure about civilians, but I expect that situation to be adjudicated in the future…
    But maybe not. When one considers all the supposed hatred between the blue and the gray red, and all the open carry, it is amazing how little violence there has actually been. A cynic might think all this reporting is just click bait…

    1. ambrit

      Back in the American Wild West days, one could be shot dead from behind legally if one was carrying a firearm. Shooting an unarmed person was murder.
      Perhaps the resort to similar rules today would cool the ardour of the “rough and tough” in our society. Either that or get them killed off quicker. (Both would be acceptable outcomes.)

  27. anon y'mouse

    i have had a longstanding fantasy to have a vending machine emporium. but then my non-technical self would need to learn to repair them.

    small hope of that one.

  28. Cuibono

    “Rats love driving tiny cars, even when they don’t get treats”

    Anyone who grew up reading Stuart Little knows this already

  29. Pat

    I’m late on this, but…

    Serge was beautiful. Thank You for sharing, WB. I’m so happy you had your time together.

  30. Wukchumni

    I’ve been positioning myself in order to somehow procure a pardon from the President for time served.

    1. ambrit

      You’re a little bit late with that idea. It was Bill Clinton who you had to procure for in order to get a pardon.

  31. LaRuse

    Re: Rats in Cars
    I needed the extra cuteness today, thanks. But I about fell off my chair laughing when I saw the second picture and realized the driving rats study was put out by the University of Richmond. UofR is a good ($$$) school very local to me. A suburban campus full of really wealthy kids (and it really is a beautiful campus) for the most part that don’t leave campus much in ordinary conditions. UofR went back to in-person learning this Autumn like most Virginia colleges/universities, but once COVID cases started rising, the Admin forbade students from leaving the campus at all. So I laughed – those kids are bored and they miss driving around Carytown so they must be living vicariously through those adorable rats.

  32. Fecund Stench

    Thank you for the American Conservative election fraud/media bias article.

    I had up until now consigned this site’s failure to note it as TDS.

    My more informed opinion is that you simply were not aware.

    I contend that for the good of the country the Texas lawsuit should fail.

    We need to spend the next four years impeaching and jailing the Bidens.

    We also need the time to bring the Left up to speed on the election fraud.

    It is cruel of Trump supporters to demonize people who were not aware of the specifics of the fraud, due to efforts by big tech and the media to suppress it.

    I have found many who oppose the Texas lawsuit to be unaware of the 14th amendment.

    This doesn’t make them bad people.

    1. lcn

      Any credible evidence for allegation of election fraud functionally sufficient to overturn overall results?

    2. Yves Smith

      It appears you are unfamiliar with concepts such as evidence. The Trump election suits were without exception pathetic, poorly argued legally and with no meaningful substantiation of the claims of fraud. That’s why we ignored them. There was no there there and we have more important topics to cover.

  33. Maritimer

    “and virtually nothing about international air travel that infected the whole country to begin with. Odd.”
    In my jurisdiction, as the Government generates fear, panic, anxiety and death threats to the population, it has at the same time failed to rigorously control the international airport. You are free to come and go, but have to self quarantine. That’s all. So, the Government has destroyed businesses, removed vital medical care, etc. but refuses to properly control the airport. Yes, odd indeed. There are reasons but we do not know them.

    In addition, the Government here issues exemptions for travel and other activities but those exemptions are opaque. One criterion is someone is “essential” yet there is no definition of this or a list of who is essential. Just more murkiness.

    And in my extensive readings on Covid, I have yet to see any article comprehensively addressing this issue of travel control. It is my understanding that private planes come and go as they wish. Odd indeed. The oddity certainly adds to suspicion.

    All the above indicates there is a Two Tier Pandemic. The Top Tier continue to travel and have their perks and bank their winnings. While those below, “Eat cake and get vaccinated!”

  34. Rtah100

    Surely Amfortas, Guardian of the West etc, forager and chef, you have a freezer? Why would you eat a shop-made pie or pizza when you could make your own and freeze them? Curries, soups and stews too…. Just make double each time you are not tired or lazy and freeze the extras.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      prior to this crazy year, i did just that….except for the craziest days of wife’s cancer.
      but ive been scrambling, and, since i am the chef, i’m more often than not…not worth shootin’.
      mom and stepdad cook quite a bit, but we get really bored with their menu, to say the least.
      we’ll get back to it, after all this infrastructure is in.
      i’m having labor problems(best boss ever…but they need something with a longer timeline, etc)
      (weather isn’t helping, either,lol…enforced day off, today, due to a front coming, grabbing me, and throwing me across the room, when i came in for my 9am 3rd breakfast/coffee break—i’m always still amazed when this happens…even after 30 years of it)

      “convenience” is exactly what i require at this point

  35. ewmayer

    Top 2 headlines today:

    “Rats love driving tiny cars, even when they don’t get treats | Ars Technica” — Um, maybe driving the tiny car *is* the treat. Did they even bother to ask one of the little furry Mario Andrattis its opinion?

    “World’s biggest mammal migration under threat | Al Jazeera” — Spring Break canceled due to Covid? Or is the next World Cup already upon us?

  36. Mikel

    RE: “China flight attendants advised to wear diapers for coronavirus protection” ABC7

    Surprise! Airplane bathrooms, especially with no toilet seat cover, are Covid Booths.

    And a good reason for the continual spread…

  37. The Rev Kev

    “Trump sells out future of global food security for Morocco-Israel normalization deal”

    When I read this, I thought that there has yet to be another shoe to drop. Morocco has been facing an insurgency for decades in that territory and has not been able to put it down. So figured that there would have to be something in that deal that would shift the balance of that conflict. And here comes the other shoe. As part of that deal, Trump has said that Morocco be able to buy $1 billion worth of drones and precision-guided weapons.

    The kicker is that the Morocco Armed Forces are not exactly a high-tech force and their annual budget is only $3.5 billion a year. So it may be that they will need help with deploying and using those high-tech weapons in the same way that Turkey did for Azerbaijan in the recent war. Thus I would expect to see another US contingent in Morocco helping them prosecute their war for them and getting involved in yet another conflict. What could possibly go wrong-

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