Links 12/15/2020

Digital technology reveals secrets of UK’s earliest dinosaur Guardian (Kevin W)

Critical temperature for tropical tree lifespan revealed PhysOrg (Chuck L)

Excellent year for ‘wild ice’ skating on northern Minnesota lakes MPR. Chuck L: “More re the unusual cold but snowless winter in northern MN. This piece includes some awesome photos.”

Solving a Long-Standing Mystery About the Sun: How Stored Magnetic Energy Heats Solar Atmosphere SciTechDaily (furzy)

Don’t Use Or Buy Metal Grill Brushes The Worst Things for Sale. News you can use!

Tome raiders: solving the great book heist Guardian (Anthony L)

Gmail, YouTube, Google Docs and other services go down in multiple countries TechCrunch (furzy).

Powerhouse plants that bolster the food web PhysOrg (Chuck L)


Stefano Boeri designs prefab vaccination pavilions to be rolled out across 1,500 Italian squares Dezeen (resilc)


‘Shocking and Alarming’: Indian Hospital Warns About Deadly Fungus in Recovered COVID Patients Sputnik (guurst). Just because screechy headline does not mean this not big time bad.

Diverse Functional Autoantibodies in Patients with COVID-19 MedRxiv

Virtually all children infected with COVID-19 show signs of blood vessel damage, study shows Study Finds

WTF, why weren’t they tested?

UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock says a new coronavirus strain may be spreading faster than the original, but scientists aren’t so sure Business Insider (Kevin W)

WHO Epidemiologist: “Only with Vaccination of Younger People Will Number of Cases Decrease” Der Spiegel (resilc)

Are we out of the woods yet? Bruegel. Key section:

Four in 10 doctors in Belgium, the country where I reside, are not themselves keen to take the COVID-19 vaccine. Similar results have been found also in the UK. It is likely that such concerns exist in other countries as well.

These doctors are not vaccine deniers. Their objection is that the vaccine, despite all the money, effort and best science dedicated to it, has simply not passed the test of time.


Covid-19: Greenwich Council ordered to keep schools open BBC (Kevin W)

The Netherlands to go into 5-week lockdown Politico

Italy likely to follow Germany with Covid Christmas lockdown Guardian


Hunger spikes, demand rises for US food banks BBC (furzy)

Latest updates as President not ‘scheduled’ to take Covid vaccine Independent (furzy). Don’t get this as a point of interest. He got Covid, remember? He should have immunity for a while, so him getting a shot theoretically deprives someone else. And because he had Covid, he presumably won’t have any reaction, while it looks like a fair number of other people will. If the idea is to show confidence, he could have Melania or Ivanka take it.


More U.S. Homeowners Seek to Delay Mortgage Payments Bloomberg

“Amazing” Hypocrisy: Democrats Make Wreck of Covid-19 Relief Negotiations Matt Taibbi

Plastic surgery is up during the pandemic Washington Post (resilc)

Pandemic Failure, Vaccine Success Indict American Monopoly Capitalism Juan Cole

Pandemic stalls Indonesia’s push to escape middle-income trap Nikkei


China’s ‘tainted’ cotton BBC. Underlying source has a blatantly partisan name, but one assumes that the BBC has vetted (as in read the Chinese) in the underlying records provided in the report.

Biden’s choice for US trade representative signals anti-China stance WSWS

In Latin America, a Biden White House faces a rising China Reuters

China has banned Australian coal in a huge escalation of the trade war, state media reports Business Insider Australia Business Insider (Kevin W)

Brexit (tweets below from guurst)

EU sees ‘narrow path’ to Brexit deal in coming days Politico

New Cold War

CNN-Bellingcat investigation identifies Russian specialists who trailed Putin’s nemesis Alexey Navalny before he was poisoned CNN (Kevin W). So now Bellingcat has been elevated by the MSM. Charming.


The Latest Phony ‘Peace’ Deal Is Stoking Conflict American Conservative (resilc)

Bibi wants Biden to bend the knee Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft

Trump Transition

William Barr steps down as Trump’s attorney general Guardian (Kevin W)

Foreign Workers Ban Has Left U.S. Schools With Teacher Shortages Intercept

Speculation swirls over Ivanka Trump’s potential run for US Senate in Florida Guardian


Trump Allies Want ‘Alternative Electors’ to Declare Him Winner of the Electoral College Vice

Michigan GOP Rep Stripped of Panels After Threat to Biden Electors at Lansing Statehouse Daily Beast (furzy)


President-elect Biden Remarks on Electoral College Vote C-SPAN (Kevin W)

Will Biden’s America Stop Creating Terrorists? CounterPunch. Resilc: “It’s called market development for DoD/CIA

How do we hold the traitors to democracy accountable? Washington Post (furzy). Yet they don’t hold themselves accountable for the attempted coup of Russiagate? I sense way too much of this sort of thing on both sides: “I want you to know that everything I did, I did for my country.” Pol Pot


Floridian Offers Novel Reason For Carrying AR-15 The Smoking Gun (resilc)

Our Famously Free Press

A record breaking number of journalists arrested in the U.S. this year Freedom of the Press Foundation (Tom H)

Florida COVID whistleblower Rebekah Jones tells podcast she ‘knew Gov. DeSantis would go after her’ before cops raided her home, says staff are ‘purged for being disloyal’, and describes how deaths are deleted from stats Daily Mail

Police State Watch

Police Say Seizing Property Without Trial Helps Keep Crime Down. A New Study Shows They’re Wrong. ProPublica (resilc)

Exclusive: Read Elizabeth Warren’s Scathing Report on “Corrupt” Prison Audits Mother Jones

Defund Campus Police Slate

EU to unveil landmark law curbing power of tech giants DW

Reith Lectures 2020 – How We Get What We Value Mark Carney BBC. JHR: “Mark Carney has already delivered the first two lectures, the third is this week.” From the BBC site:

Mark Carney’s Reith Lectures will chart how we have come to esteem financial value over human value and how we have gone from market economies to market societies. He argues that this has contributed to a trio of crises: of credit, Covid and climate. And the former Bank of England governor will outline how we can turn this around.

Beware The ‘Post-War Hangover’ From Misguided Government Belt Tightening Heisenberg Report (resilc)

Class Warfare

WaPo Reporter Accuses NewsGuild of Sexual Misconduct Cover-Up – California Respiratory Therapists Strike – N.C. McDonald’s Workers Fed Up Mike Elk

Mark Zuckerberg, Venture-Capital Radical American Conservative (resilc)

Blackstone CEO Celebrates “Huge Increases in Rents” as Millions Face Eviction Jacobin (resilc). Lambert featured the underlying story yesterday, but in case you missed it….

Uber, DoorDash Raising Prices in California to Fund Driver Perks Bloomberg

From Chuck L. Trust me, read the thread:

Antidote du jour. Tracie H: “Weedy Sea Dragon at the Aquarium of the Pacific”:

And a bonus. Apologies for the lack of a hat tip to the reader who put me on to the Raccoon Whisperer. Seeing him feed his already chubby followers is oddly comforting.

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here

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  1. timbers

    “Amazing” Hypocrisy: Democrats Make Wreck of Covid-19 Relief Negotiations Matt Taibbi

    This is very good news for folks who own stocks, bonds, investments, assets, real estate, the rich, Wall Street, and people who are friends of our nation’s central bank, the Federal Reserve. I expect the same members of Congress who worked on this stimulus package. They should do very well with this agreement if it passes.

    The Fed has been begging Congress to provide lots of stimulus. Now that it appears Congress will not, the Fed will reach into it’s “tool box” and could very likely use much more QE (eternal ZIRP is already a given) – which is basically a welfare program for rich asset holders. In the Fed’s eyes, if Congress does not step up with more stimulus, then it has no choice but use the tools in it’s tool box to do that itself, with more QE1.

    1. Grant

      I think that semantics matter. I think for something to be a stimulus, it must increase effective demand. That is different than giving financial interests money. For that to turn into stimulus, that money has to find its way into the real economy. I don’t see that happening. Who would invest in doing something that involves making more stuff if effective demand is not there, possibly set to collapse?

      The people in power are worthless. They run for office but don’t even attempt to justify the power they demand. I, personally, think that a big chunk of this is that these politicians don’t want people to get used to the government giving them money. They are so committed to a worldview where such things are off the table, and so are their donors, that even if results in a collapse in effective demand and ultimately hurts their donors, they will then use the state to bail them out. It is class war, and most politicians are not impartial in that war.

      It sets up a horrible situation. People that rent are about to get crushed, and the state will do nothing to help them. But, large financial interests that make money on rent will be bailed out. Working people could be bailed out in a way that also bails out interests like those they rent from, but the people in power would rather bail out those that they rent from while throwing the renters to the dogs. I don’t know anymore if we can expect change to happen within the system. The system is so thoroughly corrupt and dysfunctional that we may not be able to reform it. I think change can happen, but it may have to happen on the streets and outside of electoral politics.

      1. Aumua

        They don’t want people to get used to government support because it undermines the foundations of Capitalism, which needs a nice big pool of hungry surplus labor to exploit. If people aren’t sufficiently afraid of homelessness and/or starvation, then they won’t have any compelling reason to get or keep a Job. Pain is the stick, and the American dream or whatever is the carrot. That is why simply giving people the means to survive is Bad, for Democrats or Republicans.

        1. Dirk77

          I am wondering if you are too kind. Given how 2008-9 went and now this, it seems more reasonable that not supporting those poor that are suffering is so that the little of what they have can be taken away. Blackstone, etc., made out in 2008-9 and it’s looking like they will be the winner in this. I’m not sure they want the poor as slaves; it’s as if they just want them to die. I hope I’m wrong.

      2. D. Fuller

        …they will then use the state to bail them out.

        Wall Street certainly has that down pat. Corporations have that down pat. Republicans have a lock on diverting Federal money to their States, as Red States dominate the list of most dependent on Federal spending – though much of that money is skimmed. Democrats are not Saints either in this regard.

        What most people tend to forget is that the entire US economy is actually built on the bedrock of government. Whether it be from regulating money to R&D to authorizing the creation of corporations. Corporations are a creation of the State. The fight by special interests over Federal money is as to what share goes to whom.

        Want to know the purpose of government? See the earliest forms of government ever created in human history. Government enabled the protection of farmers & agriculture. The earliest governments were built around protection and distribution of food. Mohenjo Daro in India comes to mind. Yes, the well being of the population through the distribution of food – general welfare. And the protection thereof of the means of production.

        As an illustration as to the importance of government as the bedrock of our economy – and any successful economy? Texas contrasted with California. In 2018, when totaling up all government spending in Texas revealed:

        1. Texas received $1,845 per person of their population. CA paid to the Federal government, $345.
        2. Defense spending in Texas was approximately 2.5 times per person than in CA. CA has more military bases and more military personnel stationed in that State, than in Texas.
        3. The Oil & Gas industry in relation to fracking? Is overly reliant on Federal subsidies through the taxpayer. Texas State Government employs more people full-time as a percentage of population than either CA or IL. Full-time employment that exceeds the two largest employers in Texas: Wal-mart & The Oil & Gas industry. Add in Federal jobs? Government is the largest employer in Texas. This would be true in many States. The key is the percentage of government employment in any given State to reveal dependency on government jobs.

        California benefits in other ways. The coddling of Silicon Valley technology giants with favorable legislation. Priceless. Anyone remember Nancy Pelosi’s addition to her Covid-19 relief bill of electric busses for Silicon Valley workers in San Francisco? The Tech Bros can pay for their own rides; they are wealthy enough not to require taxpayer funding for their worker transportation.

        Without Federal spending, government jobs, grants, loans, contracts to corporations based in Texas; provided by the Federal Government? Texas’ economy would collapse from $1.4 trillion to around $150-$250 billion. Florida is an interesting point here. In 2019, Florida achieved a GDP of $1 trillion for the first time. What was not mentioned was the driving factor: Hurricane Relief money provided by? The Federal Government. Another example of how Red States have benefitted from diversion of Federal spending? The Base Re-alignment and Closure (BRAC) negotiations from the 1990’s onwards. Republicans did their damnedest to close bases in Blue States, to divert defense budget money to bases in Red States to enhance their economies. The strange basing, this year, of 20 aerial refueling tankers to Red States is another example.

        For Texas’ economy to exist in its present form? Takes funding from 5 Blue States who must bear the burden of Texas being a Federal dependency. Texas is an example of how Federal dollars benefit States. As for CA? The economy benefits from Congressional actions that affect their industries that do not involve direct cash payments to a State.

        Wall Street is provided for in other ways. CARES Act corporate aid and The Federal Reserve’s “cash for bond trash” special financing vehicles. Without Government? No Federal Reserve. No Federal Reserve? No “cash for bond trash” for Wall Street. Wall Street would be lucky to exist as a private bourse worth 1/10th of what it is today, without government.

        Research and Development (R&D) is mentioned. Everything from the modern pacemaker to the Covid vaccine to high-tech materials to the lowly OLED? Government money was instrumental in making those a reality. Research from NASA has helped improve over 100,000 products. By the way? The OLED was actually invented in 1979 using taxpayer money. Is currently manufactured in China and South Korea.

        Government, as the foundation of wealth and any successful, economically powerful nation? Is the natural target for takeover by special interests. We see that with Nancy Pelosi’s massive bending the knee to her donor constituency with her recent revelation of her true goals: $188 billion in new spending to “Main Street” despite demanding $3.4 trillion, refusing the offered $1.8 trillion. To settle for austerity in the form of $188 billion Covid-relief bill. Realize that Nancy Pelosi is a product of The DLC. The DLC co-founders included The Koch Brothers.

        Who says Mitch & Nancy are not getting exactly what they want?

        Congress is the Circus in “Bread & Circuses”.

    2. flora

      A party that once gave the public Social Security, Medicare, bank regulation, monopoly regulation, and passed the Civil Rights Bill and the Voting Rights Act has become nothing but a gang of self-dealing shakedown artists.

        1. ambrit

          ‘weasley?’ Cue the standard condemnation of the association of weasels and politicos.
          ‘punks?’ Come on now. The old punks were much better than that. The “slam dancers” at least literally had ‘skin in the game!’ “Anarchy in the US!”

          1. Hepativore

            The Democrats are like the guy who is paid or takes money to fall and throw a boxing match on purpose against his opponent, which are the Republicans in this case.

            1. ambrit

              True. Through his deployment of WWF symbology, Trump made that fact obvious. Thus, he had to go. He was giving the game away as far as the elites were concerned.

        1. km

          Note how seamlessly the neocons shifted their allegiances from Team R to Team D.

          They still get all the Empire, they just have to mouth a few more self-serving and hypocritical platitudes about Human Rights. Didn’t miss a beat.

      1. D. Fuller

        Pelosi is willing to sacrifice Democratic control of Congress – sacrificing junior Democratic members – in order to keep her lucrative ($$$) position as Top Democrat in the House. She does care that Democrats control Congress as it means a better oppportunity to favor Democratic donor factions (as opposed to Republican donor factions) through Congressional budgets and legislation.

        There are levels of survival we (Democratic Leaders such as Schumer & Pelosi) are prepared to accept.

        Including loss of Congressional control. As long as it means the survival of their own seats.

      2. Procopius

        anon in socal -Thank Gary Hart and Jimmy Carter for that. Yes, it wasn’t Reagan, it was the New Democrats. Bill Clinton was the chairman for almost two years before he quit to run for President.

    3. Pelham

      Wow, I hadn’t thought past the infuriating surface of this issue, but this sounds plausible. Thank you!

  2. The Rev Kev

    “Gmail, YouTube, Google Docs and other services go down in multiple countries (Update: slowly coming back online)”

    It wasn’t just things like Gmail, YouTube, Google Docs that went down. Google Home users were hit by this too which left a lot of people sitting in the dark because they were unable now to turn their lights on. Fortunately it only lasted an hour but for that hour as people sat in the dark, they must have contemplated whether it was a case of their home suddenly becoming stupid or perhaps someone else for tying a simple function to the internet-

    1. chris

      Yep. IoS strikes again. Now imagine someone’s plumbing freezes and bursts due to a snafu like this. I wonder if they have the right clauses in their contracts to protect their selves from their users :)

        1. RMO

          The IoS thing reminds me of an old Dilbert where Dogbert as a consultant convinces the company to develop a new product, the Ultra-Donut. It’s a 40,000 calorie donut filled with sharp objects, and it’s a huge success and continues to be despite killing the people who eat it at an alarming rate.

          The only difference is I can kind of understand the appeal of a gigantic sugary donut – the appeal of IoS baffles me completely. It’s almost like something Guy Grand would come up with in “The Magic Christian.”

    2. Calypso Facto

      Today, at 3.47AM PT Google experienced an authentication system outage for approximately 45 minutes due to an internal storage quota issue. Services requiring users to log in experienced high error rates during this period.

      Authentication is the process of validating a username and password. An authentication system being unavailable is like the front door simply missing when you go to enter the house; if it’s not there, you cannot enter. due to an internal storage quota issue sounds like a critical directory being filled up (like logs, common if there are hundreds of thousands of logon attempts a second and the problem went a while before being caught). Taking multiple regions down… like a lot of the big outages lately, sounds like they didn’t have a good failover strategy. Amateur hour from someone who should know better.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Step 1. Force everyone into their homes, no social gatherings
        Step 2. Force the closure of small businesses in favor of centralized monopolies
        Step 3. Cut off the President of the United States from communicating with the people
        Step 4. Cut off access to any information that contradicts the narrative, especially related to election integrity, war, domestic spying, and the operation of government
        Step 5. Cut off people communicating with each other online
        Result: Davos/Cayman Islands/Soros/WEF nirvana! A slave plantation where you don’t even need to hire guards to patrol the perimeter. You won’t own anything, you’ll have no privacy, and you will be happy. They are right up front with it :

        I’d support Vlad The Impaler if he was fighting for freedom of speech. Without that you don’t have a single chance for anything else.

        1. Calypso Facto

          Some may have lurid fantasies of that but it is not achievable in any way with the technology currently in use in the USA without subsidizing and mandating a relatively new computer, smartphone, and fast internet for everyone (as well as the ~2 year upgrades). All of the recent large outages can be linked to a wider background of rising usage after 10+ months of pandemic stay at home orders.

          If they want the surveillance capabilities of China they’re going to need to spring for the infrastructure and cheap electronics to support it. Not to mention paying off the (laboring) class of workers who keep it running.

  3. Krystyn Podgajski

    Two articles exhibiting examples of failed thinking in medicine:

    1) Virtually all children infected with COVID-19 show signs of blood vessel damage, study shows

    2) Diverse Functional Autoantibodies in Patients with COVID-19

    1) Soluble C5b9 does not cause blood vessel damage. For example, if sC5b9 is injected into people they will not exhibit small blood vessel damage. High sC5b9 is a healthy response to infection but since they find it when people have disease they assume it is bad. This is the same type of thinking that we used to have towards fever but know we know we need the fever to a point because it helps fight infections.

    2) Auto-antibodies protect our bodies from itself. These antibodies are trying to stop an out of control immune system. Why else would the body “attack itself”? It knows the enemy, and sometimes it is our own body. (This one will be the hardest for most people to hear becasue of the years of it being pounded into our heads that the body is “attacking itself” for no goo reason. It has a good reason, we just do not know what it is yet.)

  4. fresno dan

    William Barr steps down as Trump’s attorney general Guardian (Kevin W)

    So I watched MSNBC and CNN just to see how they would see the resignation of Barr – and of course, there was an implicit implication that Barr somehow managed to take overwhelming evidence of Trump collusion with Russia and prevent the deep, deep truth of the Mueller report from being revealed. And what is most annoying to me is that this is just stated as if it is a scientific fact with the same level of assurance that the earth revolves around the sun.
    So I Googled the question, “Did Barr mislead Congress” and the first seven hits certainly imply that Barr LIED about the Mueller report.

    CAVEAT – its been said many times, and many ways, but I despise Trump. So my skepticism about Russiagate is based on an examination of…dare I say it? inconvenient truths…
    So, from

    In his letter, Mueller told Barr that the attorney general’s March 24 summary “did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this Office’s work and conclusions,” a point Mueller said his office made to the Department of Justice on March 25.
    Barr, May 1: I asked [Mueller] if he was suggesting that the March 24th letter was inaccurate, and he said no, but that the press reporting had been inaccurate and that the press was reading too much into it. … He said that his concern focused on his explanation of why he did not reach a conclusion on obstruction, and he wanted more put out on that issue. He wanted, he argued for putting out summaries of each volume, the executive summaries that had been written by his office, and if not that then other material that focused on the issue of why he didn’t reach the obstruction question. But he was very clear with me that he was not suggesting that we had misrepresented his report.

    So when all is said and done, our MSM thinks the most important thing related to the Mueller report is not the Mueller report’s conclusion that there was no evidence of Trump colluding with Russia, but that somehow Barr did not “fully capture the context, nature, and substance” i.e., Mueller couldn’t PROVE Trump was working with the Russians, but the MSM knows he is guilty. I would say the Mueller report is deficient because it didn’t address the abysmal FISA court surveillance of Carter Page, as well as the incompetent AT BEST, and in all likely hood, corrupt FBI investigation of Trump for Russian conclusion.

    So when I was talking to my old friend, and he actually believes that Trump won the election, I find the lack of skepticism and logic sad – the belief in conspiracies. But after the most fawning adulation of Mueller, the MSM decides that Mueller’s investigation wasn’t as good as it should have been solely because it didn’t find Trump guilty, guilty, GUILTY, and that anybody who in ANY way somehow doesn’t know that Trump is guilty of collusion is a liar, at the very least. The corrupt election of 2016, but apparently somehow fixed (under the TRUMP administration) to the most honest, accurate, and wonderful election in history.
    Lincoln said a house divided cannot stand against itself, but I wonder about a society where 50% believes the sun rises in the west, and 50% believe the sun rises in the south….

    1. lyman alpha blob

      Barr is a Bush fixer and I don’t believe Trump had a whole lot of foreknowledge about any of his hires. If anything Barr was a wolf in sheep’s clothing for Trump, exacting a little revenge for the establishment by making sure certain details were not released prior to the election to ensure a Biden victory. Same sort of dynamic involved in Pelosi and McConnell colluding with their ridiculous covid relief kabuki (we’ll help the states and provide more individual assistance on the next bill right after we take care of our donors first) to make sure no relief would go out to any deplorables before the election that Trump could take credit for.

    2. Lee

      “…but I wonder about a society where 50% believes the sun rises in the west, and 50% believe the sun rises in the south….”

      As one who believes everything sounds better in French, might we adopt the term a folie du duopole?

    3. Procopius

      Yesterday I went back to Marcy Wheeler’s summary of the evidence “proving” the Russian hacking in 2015. It starts from Crowdstrike’s opinion that two hacker groups are “connected to,” respectively, the GRU and the FSA. That is then taken as incontrovertible fact, and the rest is claims from anonymous sources. I used to be enraged at the lack of critical thinking, but now I see it as desperation to deny the fact that lots of voters just hate Hillary Clinton, compounded by Trump Derangement Syndrome (TDS).

  5. lyman alpha blob

    I wanted to touch on one of yesterday’s links that I got around to reading late – Bob Shepherd: How “Reform” Ruined Teaching.

    Shephard started his career as a teacher, left for 25 years, and was appalled to see how that state of education had deteriorated once he returned to teaching. He notes that early in his career teachers had independence, individual departments within a school set their own curricula, teachers made their own tests, had the freedom to be creative and collaborate with each other to find what works best. Fast forward 25 years and teachers are handed down curricula from on high, subject to constant assessments of themselves and students, their jobs depend on student test scores so teaching to the test is now the norm, there is no more freedom, teachers are younger and uneducated themselves, and there’s a much higher turnover rate in the profession.

    All of this is true, and I have seen it with my own eyes in our school district as our kid grows up, and also heard similar stories from talking to teacher friends. But lets took a look at what Bob Shephard did in that 25 year gap between teaching stints, where he immediately tripled his lowly teacher’s salary. According to Ravitch’s introduction:

    Bob Shepherd returned to teaching after many years in the education publishing industry, where he developed curriculum and assessments.

    He helped cause the very problems he is now decrying!! Because he went for the bigger payday. And there is absolutely zero acknowledgment of that in the article. I am sure he is a well meaning person who tried to do what was best for his family and the kids he teaches and I know Ravitch is on the side of the angels too . But this is the problem with neoliberalism and capitalism in general. It has become so ingrained in our society that just like fish swimming through water, we don’t even realize when we’re surrounded by it and constantly breathing it in. And we often fail to recognize our own part in perpetuating it and fail to do the easy things we could do to stop it.

    1. Carla

      Yes, I think this is why, as they say, “It’s easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism.”

      I’m currently reading KSR’s “The Ministry of the Future,” in which, as I understand it, he attempts the latter (am just at the beginning).

      1. lyman alpha blob

        Big scifi fan but I’ve never read anything by Robinson though I’ve heard he’s really good. Let us know what you think when you finish, or if you have a recommendation for any other of his books.

        I realize it’s nitpicking, but one reason I haven’t bought any of his books after hearing good things is because in recent years his publisher insists on putting out these mass market paperbacks of his novels with pages that are narrower than normal. This means they don’t match all the other books on my shelf with normal width pages and we can’t have that – very aesthetically unappealing for a anally retentive book lover! ;)

        1. ambrit

          Here’s an idea. Have a shelf dedicated to the “shallow” books. There is a place for everything, if we just believe hard enough.

        2. ivoteno

          give “aurora” a try. i read it after someone here recommended it, and i thought it was very good. i had never read any of his work prior, so it might be a good starting point for you as well. i also think it might be even more appropriate now than a few years ago when i read it.

      2. Jessica

        I found Ministry of the Future to be maybe half good sci-fi and half what amounted to articles that could be found in The Atlantic or the like. Those parts were a bit preachy. If you are a standard liberal, they may well be music to your ears, but they may well grate on anyone to the left or right of that.
        The mechanism with which the necessary change is actually accomplished is, let’s say interesting. (Trying to avoid plot spoilers)
        He also paints the current global corporate elites as far more passive than I found credible, though that is mostly about what they don’t do, so that doesn’t interfere with the book’s goal of portraying an escape from our current predicament.
        I may be prejudiced because his last three books seem like an extended apology for his Mars Trilogy, which I thought truly brilliant.
        BTW, I listened to the Audible edition and I hate to promote a monopoly owned by another monopoly (Amazon), but the narrators do an excellent job.

    2. Michael x

      Not that it’s all that relevant to the issue at hand, but Shepard’s is a constant voice of TDS on a blog that is a #McResistance and TDS echo chamber.

      It was a big deal when Diane Ravitch changed sides and started publicly opposing the hostile takeover of the public schools, and she deserves appreciation for that, but her and most of her reader’s obsession with Trump and Russiagate was unhinged.

    3. Michael Fiorillo

      It was a very big deal when Diane Ravitch changed sides and became a vocal opponent of the hostile takeover of the public schools ten years ago, and she deserves much appreciation for that. Until then, those of us opposing privatization and charter schools were a small band of malcontents crying in the wilderness.

      Unfortunately, her blog, with Shepard as a commenting mainstay, has been a predictable echo chamber of TDS and Russiagate nonsense for years now, diminishing her credibility.

      1. lyman alpha blob

        Thanks for the clarifying info since I’m not a follower of her blog. It’s great that a few people do eventually have their ‘Road to Damascus’ moments where the scales fall from their eyes, but FFS couldn’t that happen before they spend 25 years causing the problems they now rail against?

        Critical thinking really is in short supply. I used to get so frustrated wondering why people couldn’t see what seemed so obvious to me (and I still do). Then one day driving across a bridge I had my own falling scales moment where for the first time I really understood what people mean by a worldview and realized most other people just don’t think about things the way I do at all and what is obvious to me isn’t even on their radar, never was, and likely never will be. That’s made me get somewhat less frustrated with individuals, but even more frustrated by the neoliberal system which those at the top controlling it all would rather we didn’t even know existed. And I think most people don’t. NC readers are well versed in the concept, but saying the world ‘neoliberalism’ to most people would just bring about a confused look.

        1. tegnost

          My go to remains “who is victoria nuland?” and if I get a confused look I change the subject to the weather forecast

      2. Jessica

        This is another area where I read claims of deterioration so deep as to beggar belief, but I don’t have direct contact with anyone who can verify or disprove the claim, so I am left wondering if it can really be that bad or if instead I am reading someone with an axe to grind and simply not knowing.
        Irreversible Damage by Abigail Shrier is another example of this.

  6. Lee

    “Four in 10 doctors in Belgium, the country where I reside, are not themselves keen to take the COVID-19 vaccine. Similar results have been found also in the UK. It is likely that such concerns exist in other countries as well.”

    Epidemiologist Larry Brilliant stated in an interview that the vaccines’ “safety signal” has yet to be established because as yet too few have yet been vaccinated. He also noted, by way of illustrating the sample size required to establish a vaccine’s safety, that the polio vaccine’s safety was established by a joint U.S./ U.S.S.R. test on 10 million Russian kids. I guess things were better in certain ways during the Cold War.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      i finally managed to be on my way to letting chickens out at mom’s when one of stepdad’s daily nurses was getting out of her car(this is the sane, non-MAGA nurse…sharp as a tack, takes all this pandemic very seriously)
      i asked the usual disease surveillance questions: she said it’s about 2 times what’s officially reported, although the tests from last weeks’ 2(TWO) religious superspreader events are still trickling in.(school has gone all virtual, sports is cancelled “until december 28th”*)

      then i asked her for thoughts on the vaccine:
      said she’s waiting for the oxford one…and so are many of her healthcare coworkers…but a handful are raring to get the pfizer mRNA vax….she said, “we’ll see how they do…”.
      she said, when lightly pressed, that the coworkers who are refusing the pfizer vax are doing so explicitly out of fear of the new tech…and explicitly due to distrust of everything from pfizer, itself, to the fda.
      this isn’t anywhere near “over”.

      (*–remember in october(i think) our isd unilaterally decided that all kids must return to in person…with no exceptions for people like my wife. ..and that i called school board, principal, superintendent, and the TEA(and my state congresscritters)…and we ended up pulling him out and enrolling him in the town up the road, who still did online.
      I told the super then that his policy of closing the barn door after the horse had left(and the barn had burned up) was gonna come back to bite him…and that they’d shut down sooner rather than later.
      the current outbreak is due to one girl who knew she was sick but went on a religious retreat anyway, infected potentially 20+ others, who went to another church event full of hugging and singing, that then spread it to potentially 30+ more kids…who went to school….and who knows how far its spread, now.
      at least 4 teachers/coaches have it, and at least 19 kids…more trickle in every day, via the pre-internet jungle drum network(everybody knows everybody out here)

    2. Maxwell Johnston

      It’s depressing to realize that even during the darkest days of the Cold War, USA/USSR could work together on issues of fundamental importance to humanity. We have regressed, badly. Iggy Pop nailed this early on: “The Wall is down, but something is lost.”

    3. Cuibono

      I liked that interview until he made some really egregiously erroneous statements.
      at 22 minute mark; ” i see a blocking of disease transmission and certainly a blocking of death very early on from the first vaccine”
      this is patently false. the data does not show that and even the company said so.

  7. The Rev Kev

    “Virtually all children infected with COVID-19 show signs of blood vessel damage, study shows”

    Every once in a while, you see a title in Links or Water Cooler that make you exclaim a certain four-letter word aloud. This is one of them. This is going to warrant serious investigation this. I can think of all sorts of outcomes from this and many of them are bad. What if this stays with these kids only to surface in serious problems in adulthood or middle age, perhaps fatally so. I know of a family where they got sick in childhood and as they hit their forties, their systems started to collapse and they died one after another. This is not something to be kicked down the road for later study when somebody gets around to it. I thought several months ago of the possibility of a ‘damaged’ generation as news of long-haulers started to appear in the news but never thought of the possibility of this effecting children as well.

    1. Krystyn Podgajski

      This is not at all a case for alarm. Soluble C59b does not cause TMA, it is only increased in cases of TMA. And sC59b was high in the children who did not have TMA. This could mean that sC59b plays a protective role in COVID and it certainly means this article and study are alarmist

      They found high sC59b in every child, even in the ones without TMA. Yet they go on to say that sC59b is a bad sign? No, not at all. It is just correlative.

      TMA are associated with a large number of diseases. A common cause is thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP) which is due to low activity of a protein called ADAMTS13. ADAMTS13 uses zinc as a cofactor. So it you are not low in zinc you can have high levels of sC59b and no TMA.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Not that I am disagreeing with you but I am a firm believer now in the precautionary principle. If there is only a 1% chance of this turning serious for kids, then it should be seriously followed up. There is too much at stake to do otherwise.

        1. Krystyn Podgajski

          If it was a problem we would be seeing it already.

          Homelessness and malnutrition are a much bigger problem.

          1. Wukchumni

            The odds were in my favor as the other 100 million spermatozoans in the naked city were all low account losers laid low by Covid, and then she asked me out on a date.

          2. The Rev Kev

            That family that I talked about saw no problem either until thirty or forty years later – as they died one after another. You should know that with medical matters, effects are not always immediate but can play out long term.

            1. RMO

              “Homelessness and malnutrition are a much bigger problem.”

              I wasn’t aware this was an either/or choice.

              Since we have about a year of experience total dealing with this virus maybe it would be better to try to prevent people from getting infected with it at all rather than the current strategy (which seems to be what we’re going with in Canada too) of “It doesn’t seem to kill kids for the most part so let ’em go to school and spread it around.” My very young nephew picked it up and we’re hoping it doesn’t spread to his parents too.

    1. chris

      That’s a stiff read. I guess some people with limp brains could look at evidence like that and continue to take their chances but I think it takes some balls to ignore an article like this… :p

    2. ewmayer

      Thx for the link, but I do wish posters-of-links would be so kind as to at least supply article titles in the absence of a full-blown html-style embedded-link-with-caption. In this case, “Pathological and molecular examinations of postmortem testis biopsies reveal SARS-CoV-2 infection in the testis and spermatogenesis damage in COVID-19 patients”. One discordant bit immediately leapt out at me:

      “…it is currently unknown whether SARS-CoV-2 infection impacts spermatogenesis and male fertility…”

      OK, that is indeed important in men seeking to start a family or have more children. So we’d be looking mainly at younger men, say under 40, yes? Uh, nope:

      “In the present study, we evaluated the effects of SARS-CoV-2 infection on spermatogenesis by examining the pathophysiology and molecular features of testes obtained from five male COVID-19 patients at autopsy.

      First, the histological morphology of the testes from five COVID-19 patients and three uninfected controls was examined by periodic acid-Schiff (PAS) staining. The COVID-19 patients were aged 51, 62, 70, 78, and 83 years, and the control patients were aged 71, 78, and 80 years.”

      The youngest covid victim was 51, and the youngest control was 71. So excuse me if I skip the rest.

      And not to miss out on the spirit of the preceding reader comments: the Nature editor(s) who approved this article without accompanying “studies in non-geriatric nut owners are needed to clarify the present seminal work” should be given the sack.

    3. Yves Smith Post author

      And on top of what ewm said above, this is only five patients. Not even remotely dispositive even if it had been on patients where you’d have reason to see impairment of fertility as a big deal. Even if it were a potentially important finding, it would need a lot more work to be firmed up.

  8. chris

    Perhaps this is more fodder for Guillotine related topics…

    I can’t even manage a healthy bit of snark for this. Rather than give starving, homeless, and suffering citizens money so that they can get what they need, some jurisdictions are going to make stealing because you’re poor an affirmative defense. I like that they’re thoughtfully discussing how to handle cases where someone stole something because they needed to eat versus stealing something they could sell to pay rent.

    How ignorant do you have to be to think what we’re doing is working?

    1. LawnDart

      In my experience, that ignorance extends to the bench. And to the makers of laws.

      However, “willfull blindness” is more common amongst the most successful of these.

      Think “highly-functional” sociopaths: it’s like algae filling a pond where once fish swam.

  9. The Rev Kev

    “‘Stefano Boeri designs prefabricated vaccination pavilions for 1,500 Italian squares”

    ‘A large, pink primrose will be emblazoned on the exterior walls and the roof of the structure, allowing Italy’s historic piazzas to “visually blossom” once again.’

    This flower is being used in a campaign where they show the whole peninsula of Italy blooming with these pink primroses and is good symbolism. One day when this pandemic is over, and it will be over, I hope that the Italians preserve some of these pavilions and re-erect them in museums where exhibits and images of the pandemic will be on display so that people never forget. This is a year that should never be forgotten. But I hope that we get our sense of humour back again-

    1. Robert Hahl

      Funny, but I think of 2020 as being more like a world war than a crazy woman. A war in which the Allies (N. America and EU) are loosing 40,000 people per week right now, while the Axis powers (East Asia) are loosing about 100 per week. Surprisingly, AU seems to be non-aligned at this time.

  10. larry

    The Michigan GOP rep has only had his committee privileges taken away for about one week. How much of a punishment is that? Worse than worthless.

  11. Wukchumni

    Excellent year for ‘wild ice’ skating on northern Minnesota lakes MPR
    6 or 7 years ago during our long drought, we didn’t get any precip in the Sierra Nevada until late January and the Tioga Pass road near Yosemite was open and ice skaters were flocking to frozen Tenaya Lake, so in early January I buy a couple of pairs of skates online for the misses and me, and one pair shows up in the mail, but the other is AWOL and finally arrives around the 20th and a few days later we’re on the road to nirvana when we hear on the radio that on account of a storm coming in a few days, Tioga Pass road was now closed, game so over.

    Anybody need a couple of brand new pairs of never used ice skates?

  12. The Rev Kev

    “Hunger spikes, demand rises for US food banks”

    I made a comment the other day which mentioned the possibility of soup kitchens. Well they are already here and I did not recognize them for what they are. There was a recent story about a mile of car lined up at some place in Texas for free food. Then while reading this article, I remembered someone saying in comments this year that if you are in some Texas cities, you have to use a car to get around as it is not possible to walk. So of course people would be taking their cars to the food banks. Lining up for soup is just so 1930s. No idea where all this food comes from but I hope that it does not run out-

    1. Wukchumni

      I’ve mentioned this before, but we keep around a year’s worth of food on hand as insurance against hunger due to events beyond our control, and truth be said, not a lot of it gets used as were pretty un-canny eaters and treat it more like a cache cow, and after the use-by dates go by, we donate the lions share of the foodstuffs to our food bank, and then go out and reload the pantry with fresh goods.

      If you can swing it financially, its a little like a homeowners insurance policy that never gets a claim and at the end of the term you’re out a few thousand bucks, but with the proviso that said couple grandidos has a second chance @ helping the less fortunate in our community.

      A win-win deal~

      1. Carla

        Here in rustbelt country, food banks will not distribute out-dated foodstuffs. I guess they send ’em to the landfill — not sure.

        I guess if you’re on the receiving end of food donations, it would be nice for the food to be something the donor would eat, too.

        So when I discover some of the cans in my pantry are past their use-by dates, I try to figure out a way to work the contents into my meal-planning relatively soon. I know the dates are arbitrary, and just another way for the food industry to goose their sales, so it doesn’t freak me out at all to eat the stuff. Canned tomatoes, tuna, beans, and corn are all pretty good and easy to incorporate into yummy dishes.

        1. jhallc

          At the pantry where I work, we used to be able to put out “recently expired Best-by dates” less than 3 months past and clients could pick from that table if they wanted to. Now that we have to pack all the food for them and put it in their car we can’t do that. We give it to an organization called “Foodlink” that uses it immediately. They also take our dented cans that are suspect and compost it if they can’t use it. As long as it has not been exposed to extreme temperatures and kept dry it is generally safe well past the sell by date. Making chili tonight with canned tomatoes dated BB February 2020.

          1. Wukchumni

            Our food bank realizes the use-by dates aren’t that important and gladly accepts them and gives them out to those in need, but no rusted or dented cans.


      2. Myron

        A year’s worth of food? Absolutely, don’t forget other consumables as well. As for expiration dates, instead of storing one year’s worth of 1 food item, then running up against the expiration date, buy half of much of 2 different items with the same expiration dates, that way you use it up faster, you have more variety and you will be able to donate it to food banks if you can’t stand it.

        As to other things, not just toilet paper and paper towels which are gone in our local Costco, there are shortages of soap, dishwashing tablets, detergent, car tires, car parts and building materials. If available, they are getting absurdly expensive over time. Buying today what you will need in the future is like earning whatever the real future inflation rate is on your money that you spend now.

    2. D. Fuller

      The US is entering the Cannibalism phase of Late Stage Capitalism.

      Mass hunger & homelessness is a symptom. The inability of The United States to produce teachers & doctors necessary to fulfill homegrown needs; instead relying upon foreigners to achieve the needs of society. This was evidenced by a story here on NC earlier today, TRUMP’S BAN ON FOREIGN WORKERS HAS LEFT SCHOOLS WITH TEACHER SHORTAGES.

      American Politicians catering to their wealthy donors, resulted in an education system that prices many Americans capable of performing those jobs, without the education to perform those jobs. Foreign workers also have the added benefit of our Capitalist masters, of suppressing wages. The ultimate goal is to produce wages in line with other less developed countries. A mobile, disposable, work-on-demand work force.

  13. William Hunter Duncan

    That raccoon whisperer hopefully has an uninterrupted supply of goodies. Those twice-the-size of wild raccoons feasting on urban detritus after emerging each night from the sewers aren’t necessarily going to not chew on him if he falls asleep on that bench…..

    1. td

      Plumpness aside, Ontario raccoons are twice the size of those, so I figure he’s in the southern US. The homes of Toronto et al are regularly terrorized by good-sized fellows that often know how to get the raccoon-proof recycling bins open.

      1. wilroncanada

        The raccoon is no longer a fringes animal, but an urban one. They are almost completely acclimated to humans, but to many domestic dogs and cats, and sometimes live in harmony with them. The same applies to skins in some places.

        1. RMO

          I live in the suburbs outside Vancouver with a lot of farm land and wild land about. I almost never see raccoons here. Go into the city though and they’re all over the place. I see far more rabbits than raccoons day to day – and the occasional opossum. I hear the coyotes much more often than I see them. Though I have woken up late in the night to hear what I thought were small dogs yipping only to look out the window and see coyotes trotting along the cul-de-sac. My dog never seemed to get excited at seeing the rabbits or hearing the coyotes but a raccoon was a unusual enough smell and sight that he would go to full attention and pull on the leash just a little the few times we came across one.

  14. chris

    This report on voting irregularities in Michigan has been making the rounds in my social media feed this morning. Not sure what to make of it. My die hard pro Trump friends are pointing to this as proof the election was rigged. I’m sharing it so people who know more than me can sniff at it. I can point to a lot of different reasons why Trump lost but if the voting machines are this bad then maybe he has a better chance than I thought of being right?

    1. neo-realist

      Trump simply doesn’t like the fact that the black vote came out in MI, as it did in PA, GA, and WI, to make the difference in beating him.

      1. chris

        I agree.

        That’s why the session with the NAACP leaders that Matt Stoller linked to yesterday hit so hard. Biden really did have a number of communities rally behind him to push his senile butt over the line. Now they’re asking for something in return and they’re not going to get it.

        But this could be a both/and situation too, right? A lot of people in key areas could have rallied against Trump AND the voting machines screwed up the count.

          1. Pat

            As it could become a cudgel for the Democratic Misleadership Class, it will never be allowed to get any traction. They will co-opt the leadership and/or have the medium portray them as crazy or radical or ignore them.

            The only protests/action groups who get anywhere aren’t really going anywhere the public needs or wants. Otherwise they are just beaten or ignored or eased out of existence.

            At least the black community is raising a little hell about it, lefty liberals old school democrats would make excuses for Biden and friends just as they did for Obama and both Clintons and Pelosi and Schumer and….

          2. ambrit

            BVD = Foundational Support
            If I were black, I’d wonder about that correlation. Blacks, as far as I can see, have been treated like ‘unmentionables’ for since forever.

        1. D. Fuller

          Oh, they are going to get it alright.

          Mitch & Pelosi’s austerity. Which President signs the austerity bill is up for debate.

          Pelosi faux-grandstanded for months. Biden won the election. Austerity is back on.

          Depending on how restless Main Street becomes? Will equate to how much austerity will be imposed, and the size of the crumbs for Main Street.

      2. Darthbobber

        I would demur to this, because the numbers in Pennsy and Georgia don’t reflect this. I haven’t looked at Michigan in any depth.
        In both Pennsylvania and Georgia, black turnout was indeed up, but by less than turnout overall, leaving black voters a smaller portion of the electorate than 4 years ago. And within that black turnout, the margin for Biden was less than the margin for Clinton in 2016, which was less than that for Obama in 2012, which was less than in 2008. Philadelphia’s overall margin for Biden was less than before, partly due to inroads for Trump in the black vote and bigger inroads in the Hispanic vote. (This is now the 3rd straight presidential election in which Philadelphia’s margin for the Democrat has declined.) Trump lost here because his margins declined significantly in numerous counties of central and western PA, leaving Philadelphia and Pittsburgh less to overcome. Georgia follows a similar pattern.
        If the Democratic party thinks that its methods are working well, it needs a serious rethink.

          1. edmondo

            You mean the people who voted R downballot and almost kicked Nancy to the “Day Old” rack?

            I find it amazing how many different ways that the D Party can screw themselves. The entire party apparatus is 2000 Robbie Mooks.

          2. Darthbobber

            Sure did. Which is why they came up empty on the Senate and less than empty on the house. Guess upscale Republicans who don’t personally approve of Trump saw no need to change their preferences downticket. Who could have predicted?

          3. D. Fuller

            Those were Republicans voters who were disenchanted with how Trump ran government. They voted Biden, R for the rest. Pelosi lost seats in The House and The Senate is up for grabs – meaning Kamala Harris would be the tiebreaker in The Senate IF Democrats manage to pick up the Senate seats in Georgia.

            Democratic leadership is already well on their way to losing 2022. Democratic Party will have to pray that Republicans muck themselves up enough between now and mid-term elections. Meaning the Democratic Party candidates must rely on Republicans to win in 2022. Much like Biden had to rely on Trump to win his election by the skin of his teeth.

            Biden and Pelosi & Schumer have begun betraying Democratic voters even before Biden and Congress is sworn in. At least Obama waited until his inauguration to signal his betrayal.

            Senate Democrats are fortunate that only 12 seats are up for grabs in 2022, along with 22 Republican seats. Democratic Senate Seats up for grabs are mostly in safe States for them. Perhaps 5 States will be an issue.

            The entire House is up for grabs in 2022.

            Lies can be forgiven. Betrayal? IS FOREVER. Something Democratic leadership still has not learned. Senior Democratic leaders are quite happy to lose control of Congress by sacrificing junior members. They are happier when they control Congress. Happiest when controlling Congress & The Presidency. Supreme Happiness would be The Presidency, Congress, and 6 Liberal (corporate) judges.

            As for Pelosi? She grandstanded for months on delivering aid. Knowing full well that her bills would never make it past Mitch. Then she said something curious… “That is a total game changer — a new President and a vaccine.”

            Austerity. No need for a large relief bill because there is a vaccine and BIden the Austerian will be President. With the likelihood of President Kamala Harris being elevated from VP.

            Wall Street has everything; the people, NOTHING

            The best thing Trump could do right now to screw Democrats on behalf of the Republican Party would be to extend the moratorium on evictions well into next year – December 31st, 2021. Forcing Biden to either cancel the moratorium, modify it to a shorter period, or leave it in place. Options 1 & 2 would be negative for Democrats. Option 3 would be credited to Republicans.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          With machines like the ones examined in the report, how would you know any of the above? No “turnouts” required.

          On Earth 2 we would have a court willing to make a judgement on the actual merits. Call me old fashioned but I believe Americans have a right to know how the machines that select their leaders operate, and to count only the legal votes in an election. Outrageous requests! (I know Joe did particularly well with the 120-140 age group but c’mon man). Silly me, here I thought we had a constitutional republic based on the consent of the governed, not the consent of local “administrators” voting 68.5% of ballots when they pop out as “errors”, or unknown persons using HTTP logins to remotely change the tallies. I’d also personally like to know whether my own vote counted as 1, or was my “score” adjusted to -79.2?

          Read the report and then tell me with a straight face that you would even be capable of knowing if this vote was legitimate.

          1. Procopius

            On Earth 2 we would have a court willing to make a judgement on the actual merits.

            How is it the job of the courts to do this? Why would you trust a judge more than a congressional committee? Seriously, if you trust Trump appointed judges, how can you trust the small number of judges Obama appointed? Or Bush, for that matter? I agree we need someone to seriously evaluate the crap machines, but first thing we need to do is repeal the Help America Vote Act of 2002, and you know the chance of that happening. $$$

    2. marym

      Here’s a report on the response:
      Michigan Elections Director Jonathan Brater said in a weekend court filing the report “makes a series of unsupported conclusions, ascribes motives of fraud and obfuscation to processes that are easily explained as routine election procedures or error corrections, and suggests without explanation that elements of election software not used in Michigan are somehow responsible for tabulation or reporting errors that are either nonexistent or easily explained…

      Because voting tabulators in Michigan use hand-marked, paper ballots, any alleged errors in tabulators can be caught during a hand recount, which any candidate could have requested in Antrim County…

      This week the Michigan Bureau of Elections and Antrim County will also be conducting a hand tally of all ballots cast in the presidential election in Antrim County, which will provide further verification that the Antrim County results are accurate.”

      Response document submitted to court:

      Here are critiques of the report author’s credentials and findings on other vote counting issues.
      Document submitted to GA court:
      Mainstream fact-checker:
      Conservative blog:

      1. Phillip Cross

        marym, I know your heart is most certainly in the right place, but let me help you out so you don’t waste a lot of time banging your head against the wall.

        For most Americans, the only fact checking they care about is done by asking, “Does this story help our side, at the expense of our opponents?”. If “yes” then story == true;

        1. marym

          Guess I’ll go for broke…Here’s Dominion’s side of the story:

          Well, they would say that…

          I’m skeptical about the feasibility of fully hand-counted paper ballots, given the numbers of candidates, races, and ballot issues. Maybe I’m wrong about that.

          In the meantime, to the extent that states are implementing machines that tabulate hand marked ballots or encoded paper ballots which also include a voter-verifiable text image of the voter’s choices, I think the ability to conduct public hand recounts for selected races can provide a check on the reliability of the machine count.

            1. marym

              Thanks! I’m interested in finding out more about the process in a large country – how long it takes, how they keep track of all the different items on the ballots. I’ll look into it.

      2. Katniss Everdeen

        From your Detroit Free Press link, emphasis added:

        In a joint statement, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and Attorney General Dana Nessel said ASOG “has no apparent expertise in election administration and technology,” and its work appears “limited to the previous release and amplification of other false information and fake documents.”

        Nessel said it is common for parties in a case to hire a consultant who will support their desired conclusion. “It’s why we give the other parties in a lawsuit a chance to depose the expert and challenge their qualifications in court,” which did not happen in this case, Nessel said.

        The election was “flawless.” They got nuthin’ but “false information” and “fake documents.” We could prove it in court but we’re not going to. We said it and that’s good enough. It’s obvious, so just shut up and quit your bitchin’.

        1. marym

          I’m not sure, but this seems to be related to the placing and then lifting of a protective order on publishing the report before the defendants had a chance to dispute the expertise of the expert. Here’s more context on defendants agreeing to lifting the order.,4534,7-359-92297_47203-547422–m_2012_2,00.html

          I have no idea what the legal protocol is or what reasons were given for or against the protective order.

          Side note: This same link mentions that the recount will be open to the public.

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            Let’s leave aside the assertions and ad hominems shall we?

            And answer a few of the simplest questions:

            1. Do the machines tabulate or do they calculate? In other words is a vote stored as a whole integer and added up or is a vote “calculated” and then stored as a three-digit “score”?
            2. If machines store “scores” instead of whole integers, what possible reason is there for this?
            3. Do the machines enable an operator to run the same ballot through more than once? (As I understand it some models do and some don’t).
            4. Can the machines connect to the internet or can’t they? Dominion continues to insist it is not possible to connect to a machine using HTTP, but both their operator’s manual and the audit say otherwise.
            5. What percentage of the time did machines kick a vote out as an error? (The FEC calls for a maximum percentage of 0.0008%).
            6. Once a ballot is kicked out as an error for “adjudication” can the local administrator vote the ballot however he or she wishes?
            7. Was the “adjudication” process monitored in any way?

            Good luck.

            1. marym

              I’m not even techy enough to know if those are the right questions!

              As far as I can tell what’s happened in MI so far is: The document was submitted. There was some dispute about whether it should be released to the public at this point. The dispute was settled and the document released. An election official submitted a general critique and said it needed review by a technical expert. The head of Dominion also testified under oath to the MI legislature today.

              So, all that seems to be the start of what you’re looking for – public testimony and evidence submitted under oath.

              It’s right to want more transparency about what the machines can do theoretically and what’s actually occurred. I’ve seen some intriguing twitter threads criticizing the document in technical terms I don’t understand. No doubt there are also social media threads making opposite claims.

              In the meantime, I’m looking forward to the hand count. It’s an indicator that I can understand of whether actual fraud occurred.

              More on the scope of the MI audit:

      3. chris

        Thanks for that link. It’s appreciated. Part of the problem with claims like this are how good they might appear on the surface and how much time it takes to dig in and understand things. Those are good responses for when friends start bugging out about this mess.

    3. lyman alpha blob

      You know I realized I hadn’t heard from Brad Friedman much in this election cycle and he is usually all over claims of election fraud and has been a fierce advocate for hand marked paper ballots for years now. Just checked his website to see if he had anything on Dominion and found this – Fact v. Fiction Regarding Dominion Voting Systems in Georgia: ‘BradCast’ 12/10/2020.

      I have not listened to the podcast, but the written post introducing it is unfortunately pretty equivocal. He doesn’t trust Dominion, but also says no evidence of fraud has been presented. I get that Trump’s people have been filing a lot of lawsuits and then failing to provide any evidence when called on it, but Friedman used to be the one gathering all the evidence, not waiting around for someone like Trump to come up with it for him. Not really sure what to make of his take, and he also seems to be annoyed that Trump’s people have latched on to his previous research and used it incorrectly for their own purposes. Anyway, here’s an excerpt:

      Today, for the first time since before the November 3rd election, we’re joined by voting systems expert MARILYN MARKS, Executive Director of the nonpartisan, good government watchdog group, Coalition for Good Governance. As a plaintiff in the long-running federal lawsuit seeking to bar Dominion Voting Systems’ new, unverifiable touchscreen systems from use in the state, Marks has been one of the longest and loudest critics of both the private Canadian-based voting system vendor and the state’s Republican Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger who contracted them. (Her same federal suit already resulted in a federal judge, last year, banning the use of the state’s 20-year old, unverifiable Diebold touchscreen systems.) Raffensperger defied both election integrity and cybersecurity experts by purchasing Dominion’s unverifiable $100+ million systems instead of a hand-marked paper ballot system as recommended by the experts. And now, Team Trump is exploiting Raffensperger’s ill-considered decision to make all sorts of unfounded claims about them.

      That said, because these systems are unverifiable, it’s next to impossible to know that they accurately recorded the intent of any of the voters who are forced to use them at polling places across the state — something that Marks (and us) warned about long before Republicans decided to pretend they were concerned about “election integrity” and invented a ridiculous worldwide conspiracy led by Dominion to steal the election from Trump.

      In addition to cribbing from and bastardizing some of The BRAD BLOG’s decade-old, independently verifiable investigative reporting about Dominion to create their ridiculous conspiracy regarding Venezuela’s dead President Hugo Chavez helping to steal the election from Trump, the same MAGA Mob has been stealing from and lying about Marks’ long-running federal law suit to try and make their case in court.

      I used to read Friedman regularly but not so much recently. When I have checked his website he doesn’t seem to be putting as much into it as he used to. Same with Bev Harris at Blackboxvoting.

      I really don’t know what happened with this election, and neither does anyone else as long as a significant percentage of voters are casting ballots on these machines which have been shown time and time again to be easily hackable.

      I’m really at a loss to explain why nobody in this election cycle, whether it’s Trump’s people who want to win or those who can’t stand Trump but are genuinely concerned about election integrity, seems to be looking in the right place and asking the right questions this time around.

    4. Aumua

      This company, which doesn’t seem to have existed before this year, is a strange animal that I haven’t really been able to decipher yet:

      ASOG is a group of globally engaged professionals who come from various disciplines to include Department of Defense, Secret Service, Department of Homeland Security, and the Central Intelligence Agency. Our employees and contractors care about this world and strive to make the international community a better place for all.

      Alrighty then. Also of note is their stated goal of “proving up vulnerabilities in U.S. election equipment and reporting.” So, they’re not exactly objective investigators here.

  15. The Rev Kev

    “China’s ‘tainted’ cotton”

    This article has everything except the Communist party officials watching the Uighurs slave away in the cotton fields from the porches of their Antebellum mansions while sipping on their mint juleps.

  16. fresno dan

    And a bonus. Apologies for the lack of a hat tip to the reader who put me on to the Raccoon Whisperer. Seeing him feed his already chubby followers is oddly comforting.

    Let’s not call the raccoons fat – they’re just fluffy….

      1. Wukchumni

        I’d never feed wild animals aside from the Catiphate* here in Cali** to which i’m much obliged and occasionally reciprocated in fine fashion such as this frosty morning when I had yawn furniture on my lap in mutual warmth for the 4 of us.

        Our neighbors have I think 8x 1 gallon hummingbird feeders around the periphery of their house, and man what a rush, there’s frequently 25 of them of 5 or 6 breeds hovering near nectar hoovering it up oh happy day!

        In contrast, we’ll occasionally see a hummingbird preening in the window, but that is as good as it gets.

        They’ve been feeding the hummers for 15 years so it’s an accepted thing through say 4 generations of them, that yes indeed! there is a free lunch.

        I like our neighbors, but they’re only human and pushing 70, and when they pass on will the new owners abide and replenish the nectar 2 to 3x a week for the winged ones?

        * The usual suspects have ended up dead less lately versus the past when orange jumpsuit attired voles and gophers knew what was coming next, but Einstein: the brains of the outfit, has seemed to have lost interest in the hunt, although he did ask me to stencil his food bowl with the silhouette of a sparrow, poor thing.

        ** No native son of the Golden West would ever self-identify with this shortened cheapened version of a name that came from a early 16th novel where said land was an island unto itself, peopled by Amazonian women, and not the slaves that work for Jeff. That said, i’m cautiously using it every now and then to go against the prevailing wind that blows hard online

        1. a different chris

          >I’d never feed wild animals aside from the Catiphate*

          Calling a cat a “domestic animal” was always laughable, but I also had an unexpected start at your use of the word “wild”.

          Are they really that either? Seems more like they are simply a parallel civilization to ours… thus neither term applies. :D

  17. Alex1

    ‘We read 7 books all semester, all US-based writers, all books published since 2000’

    As if it’s a good thing. This is not quantum physics so it’s a bit preposterous to assume that all the best that can be written on the topic of power was written in the last 20 years in the US. I’m not saying that he should have replaced all 7 seven by Greek or Roman classics but surely the students would have benefited from at least one book offering a different perspective.

  18. Matthew G. Saroff

    A teacher shortage?

    If only there were some sort of proxy for value that we could offer workers in areas where there is a shortage.

    Pay them more, and treat them better, and you will get the people that you need.

    1. Wukchumni

      My buddy the newly retired hero (7th grade science teacher for 30 years) is pulling in $4500 a month from CalSTERS, so for him it wasn’t a matter of being paid more,, it was Covid that took him out.

      1. ambrit

        Tell him to come on down South. He could live like a minor potentate on that amount here. It might not be a lot of money in the Gold Plated West, but it’s pretty darned good for our ‘neck of the woods.’

    2. Amfortas the hippie

      …and don’t let the proprietary corporate algorithm make the teacher cert test impossible, either.
      this is what happened to wife and her co-testers in texas several years ago…while texas newspapers lamented having to import spanish teachers from Colombia.
      teacher cert test in question would fail you, without telling you what you missed, a certain number of times(6 in wife’s case), for $150+ per try…and then pass you on your last chance…if you persisted that far(most didn’t).
      what’s the phrase? ‘everything is calpers”?
      all this is anecdotal, since any evidence is behind proprietary and paywalls.

      1. apleb

        Did those colombian imports have to do the same test, or was it waived since they already did the colombian teacher test and were fully qualified spanish teachers?

        1. Wukchumni

          My entre vous to Venezuelan foibles financially came from my brother-in-law’s sister who went to work as a teacher in Caracas in the early 1980’s, loved the job and was paid almost twice as much as teacher in the states, and they made roots in the country, that is until Black Friday in 1983 and it didn’t make any sense to go on teaching as she was now making a fraction of the amount of money that a teacher made in the states, and exit, stage north.

          This was merely the opening innings in hyperinflation hell that continues to this day, not a quick Weimar job where it’s over in a year or 2 and you go on living.

          A 1965 silver Bolivar coin contains 1/8th of an ounce of pure silver in content and was worth around a Quarter back in the day.

          The math is tricky as there have been so many revaluations and new types of Bolivars, etc., but I think it would take around half a billion Bolivars to equal the current $3 melt-down value of that one stinkin’ silver Bolivar

  19. Wukchumni

    Ides dept:

    One thing i’m not hearing much of during the hap hap happiest time of year is how we consumers are doing as far as buying superfluous junk in the brick & mortars to give to others doing the same, as compared to past versions.

    1. ambrit

      We don’t talk about Uncle Econ locked up in the attic room to outsiders. It’s just not done among the “right sort.”

      1. chris

        Wasn’t there an analysis from 2016 that said some 35% of US residents didn’t have enough disposable income to shop? They mostly had enough to cover living expenses and that’s it. I wonder how the data are shaping up for 2020 :/

        1. wilroncanada

          But 20% to 30% never had it so good. New car sales are booming. Real Estate sales are booming. Home remodelling sales are booming, along with all the gold-plated Trumpian stuff to stuff it with. A couple of my well-off friends have said, “I couldn’t take my two ocean cruises this year, so I’ve put the money into redoing the kitchen and bathrooms, or added a tiny house to rent for more income, or added a fourth car.”
          It’s all for the kids, HA!

  20. John A

    Re: CNN-Bellingcat investigation identifies Russian specialists who trailed Putin’s nemesis Alexey Navalny before he was poisoned

    A pure coincidence that this NATO propaganda piece was published just as Russia starts work again on completing the last bit of the Nord – 2 stream to Germany.

    1. nn

      It’s all based on call logs/position data from phones and travel logs from planes. And what they say about source of such data is this:

      Leaked databases from government registries are widely available in Russia for everything from vehicle registrations, passport details and other personal data.

      Yeah. Logs from phones of what they call elite Russian spies are in Russia widely available for anyone, which is why said elite spies are carrying their phones all the time, especially when planning and executing murders.

      1. Alex1

        Well, these logs *are* available, it takes a minimum effort to find it if you know Russian.

        I found it plausible that their fake names were found in the travel logs. Asking the airline to remove their names from the travel logs would definitely leave a lot of traces – it would be almost like sending an official letter confirming that these guys are from FSB.

        I’m less sure about the phone logs being so easily accessible. It’s quite easy to get a burner sim card in Russia, so I find it hard to believe that all these guys used phones registered under their true names even part of the time.

        Overall I don’t know what to make of it. Some parts of the story are plausible and some less so.

        1. nn

          It’s all about data from phones. Strip these and what remains is that somebody is following Navalny where he travels in Russia and that some agents were to Sochi.

    2. Darthbobber

      And by CNN-Bellingcat, I assume really just Bellingcat, because its been years since CNN itself had the investigative capacity to contribute much to such a report or to pass that solid a judgement on what its been given.

      The usual Bellingcat methodology is followed here. A lot of breathless puffery about all the gumshoe stuff they did, but no release of the supposed research and evidence on which all the conclusions are based. Just the conclusions themselves. So basically: “Trust me, pal.”

  21. Wukchumni

    From time to time I like to drag out Tainter’s List of 11 reasons why complex societies collapse, see if any of them apply to us?

    Resource depletion
    New resources
    Insufficient response to circumstances
    Other complex societies
    Social dysfunction
    Mystical factors
    Chance concatenation of events
    Economic explanations

    1. Carolinian

      David Attenborough has a new book on our uncertain future called A Life on our Planet. At the beginning of each chapter he lists the world population at that stage of his long (94 year) life. The basic thrust is that all of our problems track back to our overwhelming success as a species and that threatens to rob the other species if not we ourselves of a future. So yes overpopulation needs to be on your list even though this is controversial in many quarters these days. A few decades ago it was topic A but changes in agriculture shoved onto the back burner.

      Attenborough suggests the world population probably will level off at around 11 billion toward the end of the century due to greater urbanization and, perhaps number one, the emancipation of women in developed societies. Whether much will be left otherwise by then depends on how we treat the rest of nature. But if sufficiently threatened we humans can be quite inventive and responsive. I for one am optimistic. Maybe your beloved trees will endure for futther centuries.

      1. JWP

        Just finished a book called “The Ends of The World” by Peter Brannen. It’s a great retelling of mass extinctions with parallels to our time sprinkled in. He, and the geologists and paleontologists he spoke with all pointed to the heat forced migrations and agriculture as the biggest drivers for humans, as any birds, plants, and reptiles, and most mammals we don’t kill will long outlive us.

        We are going to need some new changes to agriculture as (especially in the US), our food belts will be uninhabitable hot and unproductive by mid-century. Are we going to somehow move 10 states wroth of agricultural land north into Canada? If water doesn’t get the US first, the aftershocks on the agriculture will which would fall under resource depletion, where my money is on the main collapse driver with social dysfunction as the immediate secondary effect.

        1. Wukchumni

          I think we’re at the dawn of a new era with limitations, this coming after the fiat free for all post WW2 building up everything and bringing on climate change, and as important, the Bosch-Haber process for creating fertilizer which greened up the world with vast amounts of food for developed countries to consume, albeit at an unlimited cost in creating toxic algae and other bad stuff.

      2. Procopius

        I’ve just started the 3rd volume of Fernand Braudel’s Civilization and Capitalism 15th-18th Century. He says that there was a large increase in productivity in Europe in the second half of the 13th Century, but it ended up causing a reduction in people’s standard of living, because the population increase diluted the improved conditions. That was “corrected” by the Black Death in the 14th Century, which paradoxically caused a long improvement in social conditions because of the labor shortage it caused. He also says there was a turn downward in the “secular trend” starting in 1974, which suggests conditions will continue to deteriorate until the next upturn. Secular trend cycles seem to run around 75 years, while Kondratieff cycles are 50. I think in this case both cycles are headed down and should turn about the middle of this century. The cyclical theory is controversial, of course, meaning it (the cycles) may not be a real thing.

    2. The Rev Kev

      Maybe add another one. That the people of a society stop believing in that society – especially if they have been marginalized out of it by an elite. That idea works for institutions as well.

  22. zagonostra

    >Forcing a M4A House Vote

    The Rising covered Jimmy Dore’s push to push the progressives on withholding support for Pelosi’s speakership in exchange for bringing M4A the the floor for a vote.

    This follows a very interesting conversation on the Katie Halper with guest David Sirota and Matt Stoller last night. The latter believes M4A is a “slogan” and DS thinks it’s a good idea but that it’s mainly “performative” and that it’s the absolute minimum, intimating that the focus would be better spent on other initiatives (those were listed in a NC link yesterday).

    I hope the pressure keeps mounting. I think it takes someone like a JD to breakthrough the log jam, I don’t think policy wonks have a handle on just how people are being devastated by the current system, and if they do they are too far removed to understand this is a do or die, literally, for millions. And, as has been pointed out, if doesn’t even get a floor vote in a pandemic, hang it up, it’s over, you’re better off finding a way to emigrate.

  23. Cliff

    Foreign teacher shortage in U.S.

    Pay more and more Americans will become teachers.

    An entire generation of potential American teachers was alienated and kept out of the profession by California School Superintendent Bill Honig’s emphasis on bilingual education with the additional tests and costs of education. Mayan speaking cleft palate students have their specialty ed teachers thanks to him. American gifted and talented students are ignored.

      1. D. Fuller

        All those talented people graduating high school who can’t afford a higher education. Priced out of the education market. Which is fine with those who do afford their degrees without taking on debt. Those that have, do not like competition.

        Successful societies send their talented kids on to higher education, for free. Providing them with a large, talented pool of workers. Beginning with Reagan, college became unaffordable for many… also, the proliferation of cheap “degrees” that are worth nothing more than a certificate in reality.

        America had several advantages after WWII. Not least among them was providing a subsidized, cheap, high quality education. That is, until The Haves decided they didn’t like competition, that education was to be monetized.

    1. JWP

      Tons of my fellow college students are seeking to be teachers (with almost all of them being women) yet see pay and debt as the biggest hurdles so are pursuing degrees and careers that allow them to shift over to educations relatively easily if pay increases. Guess Mr. Market wasn’t able to set the teacher pay rate where supply and demand meet up this time around.

  24. Cuibono

    As to why the President should take the vaccine it is because the official recommendations are that people who have already had covid-19 should take the vaccine

    1. john d

      I think it depends on the vaccine. Some if not all have not been tested on those that have had covid. Therefore Biden should take it not trump. Regardless ive spoken to a number of people who suggest access to any vaccine in the US will be very much in the hands of those with the most money rather than those who need it.

    2. ewmayer

      Newsweek has a decent article on this topic:

      Dr. Mark Siedner, an infectious disease clinician and clinical epidemiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, agreed that there is not enough evidence to know if the vaccination benefits those with prior infection.

      “On one hand, we know that some people, and particularly those with poor immune systems, appear to remain at risk for re-infection,” Siedner told Newsweek. “But on the other hand, re-infection appears to be an incredibly rare phenomenon. There are only a handful of cases in the literature.”

      The first batch of coronavirus vaccines, once approved, are expected to be enough for 20 million people, less than the amount of frontline and high-risk individuals in the country.

      “The decision whether or not to vaccinate those previously infected has completely different implications for the top two groups on the vaccination priority list: older individuals in long-term care facilities and healthcare workers,” Siedner said. “For the former, vaccination primarily serves the purpose of preventing severe disease. But for the latter, vaccination is most important for prevention of transmission to others.”

      IOW, since it’s unknown whether vaccination helps the previously-infected, it’s safest to vaccinate everyone, at least in the 2 most-urgent-need groups. Concludes with:

      Once a vaccine is approved and distributed, experts recommend that everyone is vaccinated, beginning with high-risk individuals and front-line workers.

      So, for one, Trump is in neither of those first-need groups.

  25. Alex morfesis

    Fake female owned businesses will be potentially outed/crushed by new corporate disclosure requirements…too many of the “woman owned” firms for government and large firm “diversity” programs have the “wife” at 51% ownership to evade the intent of the law, depriving real “female owned” firms opportunity to compete.

    So… probable big “transition” in the next few years…or a number of “fake divorces” to keep the merry-go-round moving…

    Sadly, only small time fakes are to be effected by this “new law”… anything of decent size, meaning 20+ employees or 5 million pestados per year, gets to keep the choo choo train moving…

  26. lobelia

    How petrifying, an obscenely wealthy country, the US, sovereign in its own currency, is literally committing mass murder on its own citizens (Occam’s Razor) by refusing any semblance of a safety net and forcing millions onto: foodless; starving, flea ridden Norwegian Rat ridden, healthcareless; phone/mail/internet accessless/ unsheltered streets, their life belongings (many of them of lifelong emotional value, or considered necessities) no doubt pilfered by horrid ‘passers by,’ some coldhearted evicting cops, fleamarket/antiques collectors, ravenous landlords, you name it. Where are they expected to even defecate without being set afire by those still afloat, or be able to wash their hands?

    Will there be anything even approaching the Nuremberg Trials (and even then, look at US Operation Paperclip, etcetera) at the end of the day? The US Executive, Judicial, and Legislative Offices have blood (as in death, it is still death (even worse) when its done torturously slowly, with no escape) all over their Bipartisan hands; right along with countless, Bipartisan State, County and Local Politicians. They apparently like to bathe in death.

  27. RMO

    Regarding the story about the ridiculous alternative electors thing:

    “Democrats shook their heads at the effort.

    “This is nothing more than pathetic political theater by a defeated campaign,” Marc Elias, Democrats’ top election attorney, told VICE News in an email.”

    I cannot tell anymore if this sort of thing is complete lack of self awareness, complete lack of shame or possibly, in rare cases, an Andy Kaufman level of ironic anti-comedy art.

  28. The Rev Kev

    “The Netherlands to go into 5-week lockdown”

    So I guess that Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s idea of going with herd immunity a coupla months ago did not pan out. A pretty despicable technocrat whether it is supporting jihadists in Syria, imposing crushing austerity in Greece, suggesting that Poland & Hungary be pushed out of the EU, or using the Hague for some pretty dodgy legal shenanigans, there is Mark.

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