Links 12/9/2020

‘Massive’ goldfish weighing 9 pounds found in South Carolina lake NBC

Monarch butterfly population plummets at Pismo Beach grove: ‘These numbers are so bad’ Sacramento Bee

SPACs On The Rise On Wall Street And Beyond Agence France Presse

Warning bells jingle for December climate Barents Observer

Republican lawyer resigns appointed state post over treatment of data analyst Miami Herald. The resignation letter:


Towards an accurate and systematic characterisation of persistently asymptomatic infection with SARS-CoV-2 The Lancet. From the Abstract: “Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 from individuals without symptoms contributes to pandemic spread, but the extent of transmission from persistently asymptomatic individuals remains unknown. We describe three methodological issues that hinder attempts to estimate this proportion. First, incomplete symptom assessment probably overestimates the asymptomatic fraction. Second, studies with inadequate follow-up misclassify pre-symptomatic individuals. Third, serological studies might identify people with previously unrecognised infection, but reliance on poorly defined antibody responses and retrospective symptom assessment might result in misclassification. We provide recommendations….”

* * *

FDA Head Stephen Hahn On What’s Next For Pfizer Vaccine In Fast-Moving Process NPR. Here are all Pfizer’s submissions; here’s Pfizer’s “briefing document”, which I searched for “all-cause mortality” after vaccination. No hits. Readers, what else?

Detailed data on AstraZeneca-Oxford Covid-19 vaccine show it has moderate efficacy STAT

Yes, your boss can fire you if you refuse to get a Covid vaccine CNBC

* * *

Summary of Guidance for Public Health Strategies to Address High Levels of Community Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and Related Deaths, December 2020 CDC

‘Astonishing’ Amount Of Masks Thrown Out During Pandemic: Scientists HuffPo.

California’s new COVID-19 restrictions place burden on workers and small business owners WSWS

The Real Reason Americans Aren’t Quarantining The Atlantic. “Some people they like to go out dancing And other people, they have to work.


How red-flagging coal can help align belt and road projects with China’s climate ambitions South China Morning Post

China and Nepal agree on new height for Mount Everest Channel News Asia


India farmers block railway tracks, roads in national action against new laws Channel News Asia

India’s Police Detain Opposition Leaders As Farmers’ Agitation Grows NYT

“We Brought Our Own Food”: Farmers Refuse Lunch At Meet With Government NDTV

Farmers’ protest shows Modi’s politics is caught between India’s two middle classes The Print

Did You Think the New Laws Were Only About the Farmers? The Wire

The Koreas

COVID Fatigue: Seoul Subway Data Shows Koreans are Tired of Social Distancing The Blue Roof. “Pandemic fatigue is real and quantifiable.”

How to Buy Time on the Korean Peninsula After Trump’s Theatrics Foreign Policy

Covid forces Davos forum to move to Singapore BBC


Some of those involved in killing of Iranian nuclear scientist arrested, official says Reuters

OPCW executives praised whistleblower and criticized Syria cover-up, leaks reveal Aaron Maté, The Grayzone

U.S. Leaves Behind Afghan Bases — and a Legacy of Land Disputes NYT

Possible Eritrea Troop Sightings Signal Wider Ethiopia Fight Bloomberg


Boris Johnson heads to Brussels with Brexit talks still stuck and UK to drop plan to breach international law Politico

UK agrees to EU officials permanently stationed in Northern Ireland ahead of PM’s Brussels trip The Telegraph

Future of the City: how London’s reach will shrink after Brexit FT

Builders run short of supplies as UK port holdups raise Brexit concerns Guardian

Border Force using out-of-date technology to decide who can enter UK, report finds Sky News

ING: Russia de-dollarising Intellinews


UK will break ranks with EU and halt US tariffs over state subsidies FT

COVID-19 rages in German regions with far-right leanings Agence France Presse

Devastated by Covid, Latin America Is Now Unprepared for Vaccine Bloomberg

Trump Transition

White House proposes dramatically lower unemployment benefit in exchange for $600 stimulus check WaPo

More than 42 million student loan borrowers don’t have to resume payments until February CNBC


Justices won’t stop Pennsylvania from certifying election for Biden and Texas tries Hail Mary to block election outcome (updated) SCOTUSblog

NV Supreme Court denies Trump campaign lawsuit seeking overturn of presidential election Nevada Independent

Biden Transition

Biden is forming a business-friendly administration Yahoo Finance. Handy list, updates in thread:

Biden’s Choice For Pentagon Chief Further Erodes a Key U.S. Norm: Civilian Control Glenn Greenwald

Biden’s reliance on retired military brass sets off alarm bells Politico

Scoop: Mayor Pete may get China post Axios. Yes, you want somebody with gravitas to deal with Xi.

Democrats in Disarray

Effort to Take on Surprise Medical Billing in Coronavirus Stimulus Collapses The Intercept. Thanks, Richie Neal. Good job, Mass Democrats.

Our Famously Free Press

At NYT, Now You See Corporate Influence, Now You Don’t FAIR

Police State Watch

Providing police with military gear does not reduce crime or protect officers: Studies ABC

Health Care

Why some eastern Idahoans are being served, arrested and sometimes jailed over medical debt East Idaho News

Imperial Collapse Watch

Biden Wants America to Lead the World. It Shouldn’t. Peter Beinart, NYT

Majority of millennials see catastrophic war as real possibility, and believe there should be limits International Committee of the Red Cross

Scientists Are Slamming A Report Saying Microwave Attacks Could Have Caused “Havana Syndrome” In US Diplomats Buzzfeed

Class Warfare

WWI Trench Disease Is Reappearing Among People Experiencing Homelessness Gizmodo (TH).

The coming war on the hidden algorithms that trap people in poverty MIT Technology Review

Neal Katyal and the Depravity of Big Law The New Republic

No, Pandemic UI didn’t kill jobs Noah Smith, Noahpinion

Antidote du jour (via):

Bonus antidote:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. PlutoniumKun

    How to Buy Time on the Korean Peninsula After Trump’s Theatrics Foreign Policy

    An interesting contrast with the article in yesterdays links on the advisors Biden is likely to be relying on for Korean policy.

    Trump, for all his bluster, actually didn’t do so badly on Korea. He realised the importance of treating the North Koreans as equals across the table. In contrast to Obama, who was in thrall to very far right ultra nationalist Korean influence groups (the super intelligent Obama being apparently oblivious to this) and made the situation far worse by continually cranking up pressure on the north without wondering if there was any end game, apart from causing the country to collapse (and if that happened, no doubt walking away to let Seoul clear up the almighty mess).

    The article recommends putting a review of policy in a safe pair of hands – a general no less. Somehow, in all this everyone forgets that South Korea has a democratic government with an extremely popular and competent elected leader. How about just asking him and following his advice?

    1. Darius

      Obama is intelligent but shallow and narcissistic. He strokes his own ego, which is the key to his attractiveness to liberals and such but it also makes him do stupid things, like kissing up to right wingers.

    2. km

      To be fair, the current SK government was elected, over the vociferous objections of the United States, on an explicit platform of peace and reconciliation with the North.

      So the meetings were going to go ahead, with Trump or without. Trump, seeing a fait accompli and also an opportunity to look presidential, was on board.

      1. Procopius

        My understanding, from news reports at the time, was that Trump’s agreement with Kim was immediately undercut by Bolton and Pompeo. There were things the U.S. was supposed to do that they prevented from being done. North Korea, seeing that the U.S. was faithless (as their hardliners insisted all the time) then refused to follow up on their side, which would not have started for a couple of years in any case. Sorry, I can’t provide sources, but this story was from several non-MSM sources.

  2. Wukchumni

    ‘Doom Me!’ they cried out in silence online…

    …i’m only too happy to oblige

    The 1859 solar storm (…the Carrington Event) has always fascinated me since I first became aware of it some decades ago. It caused the northern lights to dip way down much lower than usually seen all over the world, and more importantly, fried the electronics of the day, pretty much all in the guise of telegraphy.

    Telegraph systems all over Europe and North America failed, in some cases giving telegraph operators electric shocks. Telegraph pylons threw sparks. Some telegraph operators could continue to send and receive messages despite having disconnected their power supplies.

    Those who happened to be out late on Thursday night had an opportunity of witnessing another magnificent display of the auroral lights. The phenomenon was very similar to the display on Sunday night, though at times the light was, if possible, more brilliant, and the prismatic hues more varied and gorgeous. The light appeared to cover the whole firmament, apparently like a luminous cloud, through which the stars of the larger magnitude indistinctly shone. The light was greater than that of the moon at its full, but had an indescribable softness and delicacy that seemed to envelop everything upon which it rested. Between 12 and 1 o’clock, when the display was at its full brilliancy, the quiet streets of the city resting under this strange light, presented a beautiful as well as singular appearance

    There’s a new sheriff in town, due to arrive on the morrow on the next stage of the event, and this caught my eye in the WaPo:

    NOAA is predicting a strong one Thursday that could generate northern lights as far south as Oregon to Pennsylvania

    My inner doomer kinda freaks out easy, but really only online-because in face to face action its tantamount to physically holding up a cardboard sign reading ‘i’m a little cray-cray, ok?’ to family, friends & neighbors, that is unless they turn out to be dooministas and then you can let fly with how it goes down.

    I’d envision a weird variant of the movie Maximum Overdrive where for a day or 2 (the length of the Carrington Event) anything electronic goes kind of apeshit and gets fried in the process.

    Everything-save one particular item, will be drastically effected, no money*-no transportation-no hospitals-no food delivery-no information-no smartphone-no water deliver-no netflix.

    * folding fiats & coins only represent less than 5% of all monies in circulation, do they become worth more than face value in the scramble afterwards?

    …every last gun though will faithfully continue to function

    1. The Rev Kev

      You think that vacuum tubes would still be good to go? I really should read up on what the actual effects of such a event would be nowadays. It sounds like it could be as bad as having an EM pulse go off overhead.

    2. Justin

      For a decent fictional take on this, I recommend the book “When the English Fall” by David Williams.

      Nuanced portrayal of the Amish as well.

    3. JacobiteInTraining

      “…‘i’m a little cray-cray, ok?’ to family…”

      Heh, I resemble that statement too! :)

      Sadly, carrington events aside…its almost certainly going to be all cloudy/rainy hereabouts so no get to see. i sure wish i could take the kids out at night and show them what the Lights look like.

      Back in the mid-to-late 80’s there were a couple major events, and I remember my (now alzheimered, but by-gawd still beloved) Dad and I out on a gillnet boat for a winter salmon gillnetting season about this same time of the year.

      Columbia River….upriver from Astoria by a couple miles, tied up to a lonely piling out of the ship channel. 1am, splish-splosh of waves lapping at the boat, Everything else totally silent.
      Northern Lights moving and sinuously gliding about the sky…dissapearing, reforming. ooohhhhh…ahhhhh…..

      Chilly, almost freezing….Dad, handing me a cup of coffee and a ham sandwich with fog coming out of his mouth as he tells me, ‘remember this to tell your kids…it’ll be a long time til you ever see it again’

      Heh, yup, i remembered, Dad! :)

      1. Lee

        “Beauty is truth, truth beauty, —that is all
        Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know”

        As I grow older and my days of tramping through Yellowstone and other beautiful wild places with my son are probably over, It is my fondest hope that my son holds me and the times we had out there in the same regard as you do yours.

          1. Wukchumni

            I’m invested heavily in mental images of perfect sunrises on faraway vistas with a granite bowl nearby housing what looks to be the largest mirror you’ve ever laid eyes on, until you realize its the reflection upon a lake in the High Sierra saying good morning, while taking in all the scenery above if only on a temporary basis before retreating back to blue.

    4. Jeremy Grimm

      The novel “One Second After” by William R. Forstchen describes the aftermath of an EMP attack on the US, which is similar to a Carrington Event. There was a solar storm near miss in 2012 “Near Miss: The Solar Superstorm of July 2012” []:
      “In my view the July 2012 storm was in all respects at least as strong as the 1859 Carrington event,” says Baker. “The only difference is, it missed.” (Daniel Baker of the University of Colorado.)

      As I recall there was hot air in our Congress about doing something to harden the electric Grid … but that hot air did nothing more than spin pinwheels.

      The US military used to test equipment for EMP hardening, but I don’t think they do much if any EMP testing now. Both EMP and another Carrington Event appear to be concerns of the survivalist communities.

      1. The Rev Kev

        If William R. Forstchen wrote it, I bet that it would be good. I came across one of his Lost Regiment book many years ago which was very intriguing. This was based on a Union Regiment – the 35th Maine – going through a wormhole to a planet populated by different humans from different periods and terrorized by aliens that in technology and culture resemble the Mongol Horde. Using their technology, they form regiments to fight and resist the Hordes-

    1. Keith

      Then there is the old maxim, “Clothes make the man.” When you dress for battle, you tend to adopt that mindset. It was also an reason police went from blue to black dress, adds a little more intimidation. Perhaps the traditional blue dress would be best to help the mindset. That being said, it is also just a small part of the puzzle. Everything from Hollywood representation of police to the addition of technology, namely the two way radio and police car has had effects on policing. The latter two really removed police from the community and started the idea of having an occupational force. Before that, police were on the beat and part of the community. They had to conform to their standards and needed their support, for good and bad.

      1. Procopius

        There was an article somewhere by an Army officer who was in charge of a region in Iraq during the Insurrection. He was one of the few who paid attention to the local politicians and tribal elders, so was able to operate. The article he wrote explained that when he set up the local police force they were offered surplus army uniforms, and he was firm in rejecting them. The police must not be dressed like the army. Doing so would immediately destroy any trust in them as a fair agency. He made sure that the police in his district were dressed in blue.

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      I still think the police should continue receiving military gear from the government but instead of the high maintenance lower diesel mileage attack vehicles both seem to prefer they should be ordering power generators, water purification vehicles, and diesel fuel carriers to supply fuel to their power generators, water purification vehicles.

      In place of the military boots, pants, shirts and helmets the police seem so found of they should be required to wear old-fashioned blue slacks, blue copper buttoned coats, a bowler hat, and high polish oxfords. And many of them could benefit from training in basic manners and courtesy.

    3. JWP

      I kid you not, earlier this semester I was marked down on an econometrics paper because I said there is positive correlation between military gear in police departments and crime.

  3. Fox Blew

    “Scoop: Mayor Pete may get China post Axios. Yes, you want somebody with gravitas to deal with Xi.”

    …on the other hand, how would China deal with a U.S. ambassador who realistically could be a power-player
    for several decades to come? While I’m not a fan, I can’t ignore both his youth and his apparent appeal to a segment of the Democratic party.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Pete’s voters largely have one foot in the grave. His shtick is to flirt with the elderly. His best days are behind him.

      1. edmondo

        He was quite the PMC favorite for a long time. The fact that he couldn’t get one Black vote in a In a Junteenth Parade is why Biden is president and not he. Mayo Pete will be around a long time. He proved he was flexible enough to be counted on when they needed him. Backing down is an admirable quality in Democrat Party politics.

        1. cocomaan

          He also has an incredible aptitude for speaking without saying anything coherent at all. That alone qualifies him for all kinds of positions.

          1. bob

            “We all agree that tomorrow is the day we are building together today.”

            There should be an online pete quote generator. Just take all 4 of Obummers autobiographies and rearrange the quotes to say even less.

          2. Winston Smith

            He is definitely a polished speaker. I saw a few clips of him on Fox and he can handle himself well in such situations. But again, very ambitious to a fault

            1. bob

              “aptitude for speaking without saying anything coherent at all” Compared to “He is definitely a polished speaker”

              He’s not that good at speaking. He has managed to emulate the cadence of Obama while saying even less.

              It’s the illusion of being a polished speaker who handles himself well. Media training. Speaking of which, he has the same politics as everyone else on Fox. Why wouldn’t he handle that well?

    2. John

      His record in politics is as mayor of a medium size mid-western city. His service in Afghanistan was brief and, so I have read, in safer areas. He is said to speak several languages none of which is Chinese. He may be a ‘power player’ in the future. At present he is the former mayor of South Bend and one of many aspirants for the presidential nomination who failed.

      1. Darius

        Pete’s a detestable creep, but he’s got the backing of powerful people and institutions. Don’t underestimate him.

        1. Big River Bandido

          Electoral politics being brutal as it is toward those who attain power but do not use it, I’d say the power of the mainline Democrats is hanging by a thread. I would expect they’ll do what Obama did — squander what they have and lose it all two and four years hence. By failing so badly on Election Day, they’ve already lost the 2020 reapportionment battle.

          What a pathetic joke of a political party.

        2. NotTimothyGeithner

          Pete is a front row kid interested in gold stars. The rumors are he’s decided he’s too good for VA or OMB. In the end, he’s lazy and doesn’t have a do nothing job like Senator.

          1. edmondo

            I prefer Pete out of the country and suppose his employer, the CIA, does too. Didn’t Daddy Bush end up over in China to kill time until he became VP?

      2. Yves Smith

        “He is said to speak”…. Nicely done. His attempt at French after the Notre Dame fire was an embarrassment, and French is almost English (70% shared vocabulary).

  4. Amfortas the hippie

    from the red cross thing on war:
    ” the experience of war makes people hate war”

    i don’t know very many current troops…i’m aware of a few, but they’re from families that i don’t hang out with…i say hello in the produce aisle, but that’s it.(ie: they’re all from the more a$$holeish end of the “conservative” demographic).
    that said, every, single viet nam vet i’ve ever known were anti-war…even if it had to be cajoled out of them. (they think it’s a betrayal of sorts to feel this way, is my take*). this goes even for ultraconservative RW nutjobs.
    in contrast, about 2/3 of the korean war veterans i’ve known(much fewer than vietnam, due to age), have been enthusiastic warhogs…many, even to the point of being gleeful about “nuking the bastyids”.
    anecdata, sure.
    i wonder if there’s any more scientific/comprehensive looks into this.

    * the most remarkable sample of the Vietnam vet population were the 20 or so homeless vets i knew when i lived in austin.
    they were hyperpatriotic…in spite of acknowledging the evil of their war, and the cruelty visited upon them, since…but in a sad, nonbelligerent way. no flag waving or other performative displays….just wistful knowledge that we could do so much better.
    the expressions of hope that we’d finally “get there”….and be all we can be as a nation…stood in stark contrast to their lived experiences: lack of mental care(top of list–this was early 90’s), and other supports, led to drink and drugs and depression and craziness…which led to domestic problems, which led to work problems, which led to sleeping behind a dumpster, and showering at that crazy hippie guy’s house.
    I learned a hell of a lot from those guys.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      I recall reading or hearing from someone that the more enthusiastic veterans were about war was inversely proportional to how much combat they were in. I am surprised at hearing that 2/3 of Korean War veterans you’ve known were warhogs. Roughly 1/8 of the US soldiers in the Korean War were wounded or killed and the number of fubar fratricides [not counting fragging] were relatively high compared to Viet Nam and our many later and ongoing wars.

      I was unsure how to regard a Red Cross survey. I believe the Red Cross has a less than stellar reputation and the conclusions of so many surveys have seemed dubious. I do not believe any survey is necessary to conclude that millennials are pessimistic and look to the future with foreboding — but in these times, are millennials particularly special in that regard?

    2. ewmayer

      I would phrase the problem this way:

      “As they are all-too-rarely subject to it, the experience of war alas does not make the people who make wars hate war.”

      Look at all the warmongers who populate the permanent government in Washington and get well-paid to give sobering warmongering perspectives in the MSM. “Experienced hands,” I believe Joe Biden and the good folks at warmongering Foreign-Policy rags like to call them.

      1. Procopius

        One of the reasons Americans are so willing to let the owners wage wars on their dime is that the British invasion in 1812 barely affected any people, and since then the oceans on both sides have prevented military campaigns reaching our land. That’s why I really feared voting Democrat both in 2016 and this year.The neocons are strong in the announced picks so far. I have read, and believe, that there are supporters of John Bolton in the upper levels of the civil service, and they seem to believe that nuclear winter has been shown to be a myth, and that radioactive fallout does not spread very far and is not dangerous anyway. I really fear they think “we” could “win” a nuclear war. Given the terrain of Iran I think the government would decide to use “tactical” nuclear weapons. My belief is that if any party uses a nuclear weapon, no matter the size, every other nuclear power will know a maniac is loose, and will fire their weapons before the maniac comes for their nukes.

  5. The Rev Kev

    “Beavers have built their first dam in Exmoor in more than 400 years.”

    This is really great this. It must be part of a rewilding experiment and it will be interesting to see how they change the landscape as their numbers increase. These particular Eurasian beavers were relocated from Scotland back in January and their efforts have already encouraged other species to move into the area like kingfishers. I wonder if they plan to introduce other lost species into this area over time?

    1. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you, Reverend.

      There are plans to reintroduce beavers in other river systems, including the Thames upstream, i.e. north of Henley and Oxford.

      Some landowners in Scotland, newcomers, not aristocrats, and sometimes from the continent, would like to reintroduce the wolf and reindeer in the Highlands. One gentry family has decided to “rewild” their Sussex estate and move from farming.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Thank you Colonel. Some time ago, somebody in comments recommended the book “Wilding: The Return Of Nature To A British Farm” by Isabella Tree which I went out and got. A fascinating account of what can be done. That would be that Sussex estate that you mentioned. This account of the beavers makes me want to go and read it again.

    2. jefemt

      Terrific beaver/homestead biography from British Columbia: Three Against The Wilderness. Quite a story… all true, the genesis of much of the beaver-as-hero science

    3. JEHR

      We have Bank Beavers in the small streams that flow through our village. Beavers are very curious and will swim across the water in order to look at who is on the bank on the other side and once satisfied they then swim away. They chew down many trees, large and small, and make dams wherever they feel they are needed. There was once a beaver dam near the edge of a farmer’s field in our area which would have flooded his field so he trapped and killed the adults. When I walked by the next day, I could hear the kits mewling in their empty home in the dam. It still makes me sad to pass by that place. I have seen many areas in the woods where trees have flourished around the dams built by beavers who help to keep a sound wet ecology wherever they live. I love them!

  6. zagonostra

    >Biden is forming a business-friendly administration – Yahoo Finance

    Of course he is, it’s not like it wasn’t carefully planned. At this point it seems bootless to point out that OBiden is anything other than a front man for the empire of power, money, and greed. Who will hold those in power accountable? When corporations control the gov’t the volk have no agency. Historically, the only dynamic that seems plausible is that a threat from the left forces the right to elevates a charismatic leader a la Weimar Germany, but I don’t see that happening anytime soon. So it’s going to be business as usual with things getting worse for most while few continue to gorge themselves until total collapse makes change inevitable.

    Near the end of the Democratic Party’s primaries, on 16 March 2020, CNBC headlined “Megadonors pull plug on plan for anti-Sanders super PAC as Biden racks up wins”, and reported that Bernard Schwartz had become persuaded by other billionaires that, by this time, “Biden could handle Sanders on his own.” They had done their job; they would therefore control the U.S. Government regardless of which Party’s nominee would head it.

    Biden — like Trump, and like Obama and Bush and Clinton before him — doesn’t represent the American people. He represents his mega-donors. And he is staffing his Administration accordingly. He repays favors: he delivers the services that they buy from him. This is today’s America. And that is the way it functions.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      and related…just read through all the comments below vogel’s tweet about biden’s cabinet.
      so many apologists for cruel and rapacious hyperempire, with diversity and better rhetoric.
      if these folks represent the “core” or “base” of demparty, then “taking it over” is impossible.

      1. tegnost

        Read the FAIR article.
        The biden admin is and will be filled with professional arsonists.
        There will be plenty of fire to burn biden to the ground.
        See n pelosi and more corporate bailouts.
        Remember that the corpo dems only truly represent a small fraction of the population but they feel their voices are the only ones that matter.
        The nominal left pushed biden over the line, imo mostly to get them to shut up about trump.
        Now it’s time to put up and there is zero chance of them succeeding.

  7. Sylvia

    We need to talk. Medicare is great medical coverage if you avoid all the hype and pick standard Medicare, a good drug plan a Medigap policy. Don’t pick an F plan. I have a G plan. I am 76 and have required expensive medical interventions but 1–did not have to pre-clear and 2–never got a bill. You can got to ant Dr you like. Becoming eligible for Medicare and leaving behind having to deal with insurance companies is the best thing about turning 65!!!

    1. Katiebird

      I’ve held off of switching to Plan G because it does not cover deductibles. Which isn’t so bad now but, who knows how high deductibles could go in the future? There’s no limit. Back when I was first on my employers insurance $2000 or $5000 deductibles were unheard of but by the time I retired they were common.

      What if Medicare deductibles go up that high? That’s why I stick with Plan F — I don’t want the risk.

      1. edmondo

        If deductibles went that high then the cost of the plan would rise as well. Having your insurance company pay your deductibles is added into your premiums. Instead of paying it yourself you pay the insurance company to pay them for you. Medicare deductibles are rather small and very predictible.

      2. hdude

        The “G” plan only requires about $170 annual “deductible’ that you pay. $100 after that. Oh, BTW – IIRC, plan “F” has been eliminated.

        1. Leftcoastindie

          Not totally eliminated. When I turned 65 in 2018 I was in the last group who could get that plan so I get to keep it – we were grandfathered in so to speak.

    2. zagonostra

      I am looking forward to be receiving for Medicare when I turn 60 next year. Biden will make it available by lowering he eligibility age as he indicated during the campaign. Even after reading “Medicare Blues” I would welcome Medicare over private health insurance. Just kidding, I know this will not happen anytime soon and if it does, they’ll probably tack on some proviso like having to “buy in” to the program.

    3. Katniss Everdeen

      Once again I am compelled to ask how you figure you are “leaving behind having to deal with insurance companies” when you buy both your supplemental and drug plans from them?

      By law, all lettered supplemental plans must provide the exact same “coverage” as any other with the same letter, so pretty much all you are buying is the insurance company and the price. And as has been mentioned before, drug formularies can change at any time for any reason with minimal notice as a result of insurance company profit-seeking backroom deals.

      While it is true that constraints on some typical insurance company abuses are provided by Medicare’s federal regulation, the plans are still subject to others like huge, annual premium increases; control of patient pools; medical underwriting; limitations on changing plans that become too expensive; lousy customer service; torrents of indecipherable EOBs; and disputes with individual providers that can interrupt continuity of care.

      Recognized or not, insurance companies (as well as the medical establishment) run this program. That the feds / taxpayers pick up a large part of the bill doesn’t change that.

    4. Yves Smith

      You are completely wrong about your claim that you can see any doctor. None of my doctors, including my chiro in NYC and one I briefly used here, take Medicare. The best gerontology practice here in Birmingham (and 75% of the practice is seniors) is in a concierge practice that doesn’t Medicare either. They charge a flat fee a year for the MDs and nursing home visits if needed, and tests are additional.

      Medicare A is so skimpy that you risk bankruptcy if you don’t get a Medigap or similar private plan, and if you don’t sign up for Medicare D, which has nasty late enrollment penalties, you are naked if you wind up needing pricey drugs, and Medicare D is private insurance too.

    5. kareninca

      You also have to be able to find a doctor who takes Medicare. Good luck doing that in eastern CT or western RI.

  8. Wukchumni

    ‘Astonishing’ Amount Of Masks Thrown Out During Pandemic: Scientists HuffPo.
    As a condition from my parole from work, I do trash pick up on Hwy 198 twice a year, and its an archeological dig of sorts with none of the artifacts older than 6 months.

    Once again the big winner was cigarette butts with 146 of them counted the other day, and surprisingly masks were #2 with 26 picked up. Back in the era before Covid, I can’t remember picking up a mask, ever. I’m sad to relate the rest of the debris field was just the usual items tossed from a window, or drifted from the bed of a truck. We usually find cash, a buck here or there, but came up empty on the free money front.

    1. jefemt

      My favorite ‘current archaeology’ is walking the ski-lift lines at well-heeled resorts after the snow melt.

      Not nearly as altruistic, but fascinating to observe the inner machinations of the
      “Lost People of Mountain Village”(must see 1/2 hour Tee Vee- colorado PBS)

      1. Wukchumni

        Ha ha

        I bet you accumulate enough cheap bead necklaces where if you took a time trip back to the Big Apple four centuries ago, you could have procured it for a relative pittance from the Native Americans.

    2. JEHR

      I used to be a trash picker-upper and usually managed six to nine large garbage bags on one small stretch of roadway. Now I am too old to climb up and down those ditches so I am “garbage-blind.” I thought after everyone saw those horrible pictures of plastic in the oceans, that less garbage would be thrown from cars and trucks. It didn’t happen!

      My farmer uncle used to tell me that pigs were the cleanest of animals, as long as they had a large enough field and pen to keep different areas for different activities. And indeed it was true: the eating area was clean; the sleeping area was clean; the running area was clean; and even the mud playing area was clean. It made sense to me. Pigs are better than human beings at keeping their spaces clean. Imagine that!

  9. The Rev Kev

    “Scientists Are Slamming A Report Saying Microwave Attacks Could Have Caused “Havana Syndrome” In US Diplomats”

    Probable cause of what is causing this effect-

    What the US government sounds like when they tell the world about “microwave attacks”-

    I myself refuse to believe that it is a deliberate microwave attack. If I was in one of those offices, I am certain that I would notice if I was on a huge turning glass plate or not.

  10. a different chris

    Hey somebody tried to take me to task for using “them” to describe rural Republicans… which I keep pointing out I live in the middle of, well them. Read this:

    Here are some pull quotes:

    Guns are a marker of shared identity. They confer a sense of belonging and status.

    ……so I don’t “belong”…

    Hunting together demands a very specific mix of trust, endurance, skill and coordination. It confers status and prestige in groups where those honors might otherwise be hard to come by. Carrying a gun shows to others—and to yourself—that you’re fully a part.

    ….I’m not “a part”…

    you might criticize your family, but still burn with resentment when overhearing an outsider’s critique.

    …I’m an “outsider”…

    But I get taken to task for saying “them”… this is my very environment. And let’s not even try to deal with the atheist part.

    Now actually I do get along with “them”, but don’t act like I’m not an outsider from the ‘burbs and always will be.

    1. Stephen C

      People are highly sensitive to being demarcated by others. A group will fight tooth and nail to retain the power to demarcate themselves from others. We can identify and describe ourselves, you cannot identify and describe us.

  11. Mark

    All Cause Mortality in Pfizer/BioNtech Study: There were four deaths in the placebo group and two in the treatment group (both out of roughly 21,600 subjects). The following is from the adverse effects section of the briefing document:
    “Serious Adverse Events, Deaths: A total of six (2 vaccine, 4 placebo) of 43,448 enrolled participants (0.01%) died during the reporting period from April 29, 2020 (first participant, first visit) to November 14, 2020 (cutoff date). Both vaccine recipients were >55 years of age; one experienced a cardiac arrest 62 days after vaccination #2 and died 3 days later, and the other died from arteriosclerosis 3 days after vaccination #1. The placebo recipients died from myocardial infarction (n=1), hemorrhagic stroke (n=1) or unknown causes (n=2); three of the four deaths occurred in the older group (>55 years of age). All deaths represent events that occur in the general population of the age groups where they occurred, at a similar rate.”

    I have no expertise to interpret this but FWIW – the absolute numbers seem too small at this point to draw any conclusions but I guess the Brits will soon find out for us if it’s real or a statistical anomaly before any of us average folks have to make a decision.

    1. Halcyon

      Take any group of 21,000 people and follow them around for 7 months… a small number of them will die. C’est la vie, n’est pas?

    2. Cuibono

      besides ACM, how about the ability to prevent severe infections.
      Plabebo 9 in 21k, vaccine 1 in 21k

      run the math. dramatic relative decline which however did not meet FDA criteria as those were set for people having finished 2 shots and it appears many of the events happened after 1. Absolute decline?
      Do the math. it is interesting

  12. GramSci

    Re: Neal Katyal and the Depravity of Big Law

    Another reason for a maximum wage.

    “… last week he argued that because the corporation that supplied Zyklon B to the Nazis for use in their extermination camps was not indicted at Nuremberg, Nestle and Cargill should not be held liable for their use of child slave labor.”

  13. Amfortas the hippie

    richie neal is this decade’s joe lieberman.
    why is this person in the democratic party?
    he’s been shameless on this issue, and yet get’s the full throated support of the party establishment.

    at the beginning of wife’s cancer experience, when she was in the hospital for almost a month, and i was trying to get her on medicaid(couldn’t get on it until after she was out, and they retroactively paid back bills only so far, leaving the whole 3 1/2 week in hospital out. ).

    during that time, there were lots of doctor-looking people that we only saw once…they’d come in, alone or with the regular people…not say much, look at her, take her pulse, and then leave after 3 minutes.

    i’m sure these people are represented in the pile of unpaid bills for that period…and i assume that is what “surprise medical billing ” means.
    i only noticed them at all because of NC…and asked questions, which remained unanswered.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      It’s just Greenwald’s Rotating Villain Strategy except the relative anonymity and lack of local media at play. Neal never bothered anyone before, but he’s probably not running. He will take the criticism for Team Blue’s preferred policy.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          If only the king knew, but joe Manchin, but Lieberman, McCaskill isn’t a rough race, and pretty soon it’s about ever Democrat with a few exceptions.

    2. doug

      A friend in the hospital thought it was ‘nice’ of the docs to pop their head in and say ‘hello, how are you doing?’ , wave cheerfully and leave.
      Then the bill came and each of those were billed at an unreal rate as a doc checkup.

      I imagine we all know stories like this.
      Ties into todays healthcare link about deb collection, which could have been placed under imperial collapse as well.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Same happened here in Oz with an infamous medical practitioner back in the 80s. He would go from bed to bed and chat with all these old ladies and would bill the government for consulting services. The old ladies loved him because he took the time to chat with them though. He then set up 24-hour medical centers that were decorated with chandeliers, white grand pianos and mink-covered examination tables. He really was a man of the 80s-

      2. Lex

        Went round and round for six months with a PA at an ENT practice, where I tried to get an effective treatment for a sinus problem. Nothing he suggested worked. In the end he sent me for a CT scan, called to say the scan was clear and offered me again the same medication he’d prescribed months earlier in August, which was also ineffective. Unless he failed to check my chart notes or hadn’t bothered to write it down in the first place, my report on that med would have been right in front of him when he called.

        My theory is that he was hired to create charges that pay the rent and utilities. It’s like he’s working on commission. First he has to pay the rent and utilities, and he gets a percentage of anything above that. The easiest way for him to do that is to just string patients along for the maximum number of visits until they give up in frustration.

        High value cases get kicked up the food chain to an actual doctor. The PA screens for those cases to spare the doctor’s more valuable time. Like a paralegal.

        So what I’ve been wondering is, is it the among the few charges that insurance companies won’t argue about or delay paying for months?

    3. Grant

      “why is this person in the democratic party?”

      He is corrupt, offers nothing on policy, really has no reason to justify any power given to him. I think he is very much at home in the modern Democratic Party. He also won against a far better candidate in the primary, even after being outed as taking part in a homophobic smear campaign. Shame on the voters that voted for him, which is the base in that rotten party. I will be far too kind in assuming that most people just weren’t paying attention, but it seems that many of the PMC are just as vacuous as the people they vote into power time and time again.

      1. Futurebroketeacher

        Massachusetts is a weird state. It’s more progressive than most states, but there’s a strong adherence to neoliberalism. I’m in Lesley’s grad school program for teachers and you would think it would be a breeding ground for radical leftist future teachers who push for a Dewey-fied public education system, but no, most of the students don’t even know who Dewey is and they don’t assign him at Lesley. No, 70% of the students want to work in the burbs and teach the scions of the PMC. I’ve only met one student at Lesley that expressed any interest in discussing politics or teachers unions. LOL, one of my teachers is constantly pushing neoliberal shit like Waiting For Superman and Thomas Freidman and Teach for America propaganda down our throats and I’m the only student who pushes back.

  14. timbers

    Why some eastern Idahoans are being served, arrested and sometimes jailed over medical debt East Idaho News

    Almost afraid to say, but find myself considering more and more that IMO given the state of US healthcare, it may be better to just die than treat and expensive illness and allow yourself to go thru the things described in this article (and others like the one about the woman who calculated the cost of her cancer treatment and decided not to take treatment due to financial burdens)…IF you can arrange your ducks in order and leave gracefully. At least then, you might be able to pass on what you still do have to someone you love. Sadly, many times circumstances just won’t you to do that.

    Regarding the Medicare Blue article, every elected official should be required to have ONLY Medicare and Social Security as their retirement. Biden, Mrs Biden, Obama, Congress, all judges, all of them should have to go thru it’s selection process and be allowed no other options.

    Can you picture Joe Biden going thru his Medicare options? Jill helping him? A fly on the wall should secretly record Obama doing that, with the resulting video shared to us on the Jimmy Dore Show.

    1. carl

      I recall reading a Propublica piece the other day on the same subject: jailing for medical debt, this time in Kansas. Just when I think this country can’t possibly sink any lower on the depravity scale, it manages to surprise me.

      1. timbers

        Maybe Biden could make his FDR promise to be a crash program to build thousands of Medical Debt prisons to create jobs…but not mention it will be done with cheap immigrant labor.

    2. Oh

      Their salary should be the median salary of Americans. All donations to them should be taxed at the highest rate. Then there’s no need for term limits.

  15. Polar Donkey

    The state of Mississippi will likely pull the plug on high school basketball after Christmas because of covid. Why does basketball get shutdown but football doesn’t? The state found no incidents of transmission between fans at outdoor games. So far in basketball season, there have been multiple incidents of transmission between fans at school gyms.

    1. Wukchumni

      There was an article on Covid in kids hockey, and how it spreads much more in that sport than others. It got me thinking about skiing-another cold sport that was quite the ‘Tyrol Mary’ in Italy early in the saga, and shortly thereafter an Italian skier brought it to the Rockies and 3 Colorado resorts got slammed, as he went from one to another spreading old world cheer.

      1. Oh

        I wonder why all these football players who test positive for Covid spring right back within a week or two. I don’t hear of any of them getting hospitalized. Are the tests resulting in false positives? Are these atheletes super healthy? Can someone explain this?

        1. ewmayer

          The PCR tests are very sensitive – i.e. unlikely to give false negatives – but the flip side is that they yield a high % of false positives. So if you get a +, you self-quaratine and re-run the test, sometimes multiple times, to confirm or deny.

    2. Stephen C.

      –Why basketball but football doesn’t–

      Look into the funding. In my area the high schools have year round fundraising drives, so I think the parent’s hold a lot of power and their preferences in sports are catered to, Title IX requirements be damned.

    3. PeterfromGeorgia

      One key difference between football and basketball is football is played outdoors, where presumably the sunshine would act as a disinfectant…

      1. JTMcPhee

        Ever bern in a school or pro locker room? No social distancing, masks or air exchange there. Can’t aboid athletes foot or jock fungus snd colds snd flu gey spread. Most sports ise locket rooms.

    4. curlydan

      My older son participated in his first masked-indoor soccer game last weekend. In March or April, I thought that when this type of protection occurs, it’s when we start to “get real” about the virus, so I welcomed the mask requirement.

      For basketball, I think masks on the bench and in the crowd (with very limited crowd attendance, i.e. 2 people per player) is a necessity. If they would actually open the windows of the gym and put some 3-4 foot industry electric fans blowing the air out, I think playing basketball might be safe even without a mask.

      The masked soccer game reminded me that you pretty much could ask the players to wear their Halloween costumes, and they’d still play the game, so masking requirements are not a big deal.

      All these possibilities of sports transmissions still would benefit from good contact tracing which obviously (i) doesn’t exist due to lack of people and too much transmission and (ii) the lies people tell (e.g. what coach or soccer club would admit that they in fact are not running a socially distanced practice)

  16. Wukchumni

    Sports Desk:

    I’m pleased to report that the gentleman who garnered the write-in nod in November from yours truly to lead out country, has been through the gauntlet of Covid running rampant on his team, but has really held it together and has risen to the occasion, with a win against the Cowboys yesterday, defense coordinator Wink Martindale’s minions allowing only 17 points to be scored against them. Quote the Ravens, never more any players testing positive.

    No word on the other Wink Martindale-the game show host with the most.

    1. curlydan

      But on the other side of the ball, Ravens wideout Dez Bryant quit the team after testing positive for COVID right before the game with the ‘Boys. But I’m glad Wink has his guys in line.

      1. ewmayer

        Where did you hear Bryant quit the team? I saw that he briefly considered at after his + test, but show of support from his teammates and coaching staff after they won the game, blah, blah. Basically a classic Twitter mini-drama, full of sound and fury, signifying very little than a craving for follower likes and instant internet micro-affirmations. Social media addicts, gah.

    2. ewmayer

      Things have suddenly gotten really interesting in the AFC Central: Pittsburgh looking very average last 2 games, latest a loss to a Washington team that seems to have found itself – even if “in all but name” – under veteran QB Alex Smith (my hands-down pick for comeback player of the year) who led WFT to a dramatic 2nd-half comeback on Monday night. Pit. now just 2 ahead of Cleveland and facing Buffalo (9-3), Indianapolis (8-4) and Cleveland (9-3), all in the thick of the battle for playoff spots, in three of their last four games.

      And Cleveland, helmed by rookie head coach and coach-of-the-year candidate Ken Stefanski, finds itself 2 ahead of Baltimore, with those 2 playing each other next Monday night. Meanwhile, in the Buffalo-led AFC East, the new-look Patriots also seem to have found something, and still might make it into the postseason as a wildcard. Fun times.

  17. The Rev Kev

    “California’s new COVID-19 restrictions place burden on workers and small business owners”

    California is a mess from what I see on TV and I guess that you can lay it at Newsom’s door. There is a video that apparently has gone viral of a small restaurant owner being hammered by all these restrictions and trying to do the right thing. So then a movie company sets up a huge outdoor dining are in the car park opposite her outdoor dining as if to mock her efforts- (2:11 mins)

    1. Wukchumni

      I spot a man in a Reno parking lot-just to watch him die…

      I’m down with another lockdown, but here in the CVBB, the sheriff isn’t really proactive as far as doing anything. Stories such as this strengthen my resolve to just stay put.

      But a series of viral photos of Renown Regional Medical Centre in Reno, Nevada, has truly brought home the extent of the disaster, after the hospital was forced to convert two floors of its car park to a makeshift treatment site to keep up with the influx of Covid patients

      1. furies

        From what I understand, all northern Cali sheriffs are refusing to enforce pandemic guidelines~

        It’s picking up steam here…Saturday is the Xmas parade and craft faire. “They” did decide to do the craft fair outside, but masks are not required. Wasn’t it a parade that really got the Spanish Flu going?

        I’m signed up to help set up but now wondering why…

    2. Grant

      To be fair to Newsom and mayors and cities in the state, the federal government has told state and local governments to effectively drop dead. If state and local governments could create the currency they use, they would be okay, but that is up to the federal government. If they close things down, the tax revenue coming in will collapse even more than it has, and the fiscal situation at the state and local level here is really, really bad. If they don’t shut things down, they have a massive crisis in healthcare, and that too will come with a massive economic cost. If the federal government was there for small businesses, workers, state and local governments, I believe that they would likely make better decisions (despite my many issues with Newsom), and our society would be in far better shape, less people would have died. This entire system is just broken, and most of those in power are involved in a class war and operate as if they are sociopaths. I don’t know if they are sociopaths, the worthless politicians at the national level. What I can say is that if they were sociopaths, they would probably do everything exactly the same as they have to this point.

      About the only benefit of this all is that the corrupt nature of this system is now on full display. There is no hiding from the fact that those in power don’t care about the country, and only care about themselves and their donors, and the state has been so hallowed out that it can’t at this point even do basic things. The notion that this system is largely okay and that only moderate changes are needed should be thrown to the side. Silly, and we aren’t really even feeling the full impact of the environmental crisis yet. I think people need to rise up and make the lives of those in power just as miserable as the misery they are causing society. The fact that Pelosi didn’t step down, but was re-elected, then named again to lead in the House, is damning. That party should be ashamed of itself, but it those running it cannot feel shame.

  18. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: More than 42 million student loan borrowers don’t have to resume payments until February CNBC

    So the harris / biden administration will get the privilege of crankin’ the machine up again. Well played, Mr. Trump.

    They’ll probably need to combine a collections restart with a federal bailout for DoorDash which goes public today, and, according to jim cramer this morning, has a customer base of the same younger people who are “customers” of the student loan “industry.”

    1. Milton

      Trump’s recent moves-deferred student loan payments, winding down troops from Somalia, reimportation of drugs from Canada…-seem to hit all the populist notes that were expected of him from the outset. It’s almost like he was trying to campaign with only 5 cylinders firing and now that he lost, he is putting up the gallant fight against the blob only for show purposes for the benefit of his rabid supporters.

  19. cocomaan

    I was fishing near my home in SE Pennsylvania this past April, way back in a creek in the woods. I’d noticed some trees chewed up and some tree snags that might have been dams in progress, but it all looked old, from previous years. I didn’t think much of it. Fish weren’t biting so I was looking around the woods and noticed that there was a groundhog playing in the water.

    Wow, great big giant groundhog. Oh, wait, that’s a beaver! He was the size of a dog, I was floored.

    I got to watch him chewing on branches for about ten minutes. Eventually, he got a look at me and didn’t like what he saw and dove into the creek, disappearing. It was neat, I had no idea the beavers had come back so far into PA. I knew that upstate they have plenty but not down here. Good to see them, they’re not very compatible with human construction and property lines, but are great for the environment.

    1. Hutch

      Thank you so much, cocomaan, for reporting this. I’ve seen a good many beavers around the Tioga State Forest in northern PA, but none so far south as you’ve seen. This is very good news. Let’s hope landowners and State Game Lands folks let them be.

      1. cocomaan

        He was definitely safe in this area. It’s county property, I think, and in the middle of a nasty thicket with no homes around. (I haven’t gone back to fish there because my line was getting stuck every other cast, haha)

        I’ve also heard from landowners in the area that they see them every once in awhile, and I think I saw a roadkill one last year. Beaver trapping is so out of style and most of the skills are lost, to the point that I really doubt anyone will try and harvest them, either.

        I was talking with a park ranger and he said that there’s sightings of river otters as far south as the Susquehanna, which is awesome. They are so neat.

  20. The Rev Kev

    “ING: Russia de-dollarising”

    This is probably part of a Russian strategy to reduce the attack surface area for their country and may indicate them having no faith in relations getting better with a Biden America. Having US dollars makes them vulnerable for ad hoc sanctions or measures against them which they do not need. And this strategy seems to be spreading to other areas. Just today I read how Putin just signed a law allowing Russian legislation to over-ride international treaties. There has been a lot of lawfare attacks against Russia in the past few years and European courts for example are willing to take part in some dodgy legal findings to hit up Russia with. It would not surprise me in the least if the Netherlands came out with a list of Russian officers who served in Syria and charging them with war crimes or something or other. The fact that the Russian Constitution does not allow for citizens to be extradited to foreign courts would be irrelevant. It would just be to smear them for a coupla years and hit them up with sanctions and the like-

    1. anon in so cal

      Recent threats to exclude Russia from SWIFT, as leverage in Ukraine, may also figure in:

      “Leonid Kravchuk, the first president of Ukraine (1991-94) and the current head of the Ukrainian delegation to the Trilateral Contact Group set up to end the war in Donbass, has threatened Russia with exclusion from the SWIFT international payment network unless there was progress on a resolution of the conflict. These are strong words, which may or may not be a bluff.

      This article avoids a discussion of the blame for failing to implement the Minsk Agreement for peace in Ukraine, its focus is devoted rather to the peculiar threat by Kravchuk. It is a strange, as, in the first instance, Ukraine does not have any influence over SWIFT. Although, if it is supported by the US it would represent a dramatic escalation.

      The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) provides banks with a secure messenger network to allow international transfers. This is the dominant transaction system in the world and expulsion from the club would wreak havoc on Russian banks and the financial sector….”

  21. IM Doc

    Hello All

    An update – The past 10 days have been among the busiest of my career. As I stated – our little rural hospital became a M*A*S*H* unit. I did not know if the hospital would be able to handle things for several days there. Lambert, I will be looking at the Pfizer docs a little bit later today – I have actually gone over them superficially – but really want to dig deep today. I have simply not had the time. Life is crazy in a M*A*S*H* unit.

    My little hospital is in the middle of a rural area of the country that has opted to not be too serious about masking – and there certainly are no lockdowns. Business is affected – but pretty much continues as before. We have just been through the first surge in this pandemic that we have had. Multiple dozens of very sick people – only one death – literally all at once over the past 10 days. We have had a few patients in the summer here and there – but nothing like this. And now the past 3 days – it is receding as rapidly as it hit us. We had expected a Thanksgiving surge right now – instead – the numbers all over our state are declining rapidly.

    All that to say – this is NOT normal epidemic behavior. Either this virus, or our immune response to it – is just not behaving normally. For astute medical observers – this is an indication of the vast oceans of mystery that are still there regarding COVID19 – we just do not know that much about it.

    A few weeks ago – before all the ad glossies started to fly from Pfizer, et al – the journal for Internists in America – ANNALS OF INTERNAL MEDICINE – NOV 17th – published a short statement by the leadership of the ACP – the questions/issues they thought were critical are below:

    •Did the vaccine or vaccines earn full approval or Emergency Use Authorization?
    •What are the characteristics of the patients who participated in the trials that led to vaccine approval or Emergency Use Authorization? Did trial participants have risks for COVID-19 similar to those of the person who is asking me for advice?
    •What are the clinical outcomes on which vaccine approval or Emergency Use Authorization is based?
    •What adverse events were observed during the clinical trials? How will postmarketing of vaccines be monitored for safety concerns?
    •Are the vaccine approval or Emergency Use Authorization and clinical recommendations for use limited to specific types of individuals? If so, are limits equitable and informed by scientific evidence?

    Please note – as far as I can tell from early viewing – the Pfizer data release does not really address any of these issues very adequately at all. Again – as we have been since this pandemic started – in every aspect – we are focused seemingly on nothing but case numbers – which at this point should be important for public health officials and epidemiologists for mapping and readiness – but mean really absolutely nothing for vaccine efficacy.

    Please note – the third question above – this really is the most important issue – WHAT ARE THE CLINICAL OUTCOMES on which approval or EUA is based? This indeed has been the most important issue on any vaccine in the past – what is its affect on morbidity? Mortality? Symptoms? – case numbers are tangential at best. In fairness – it is probably far too early to know these benchmarks – but that is the point – we are rushing this through and the normal benchmarks seem to be too cumbersome to matter in the middle of this “emergency”.

    I would end with this anecdote. I have a patient who is extremely well-connected to BIG PHARMA. I had him in last week for a visit – and asked him if he would be taking the vaccine…. His answer – “You are much smarter than that DOC. I will take these mRNA vaccines exactly one year to the day after Dr. Fauci takes his on national TV.”

    Here at our hospital at the medical staff meeting this past week – another interesting anecdote. We were told that all clinicians would be asked to take 1-2 days off after receiving the vaccine because we would likely be sick. That is unique to me in vaccines. Since the vast majority of people will have minimal symptoms with COVID – WHAT EXACTLY ARE WE DOING HERE? Bizarre on so many levels.

    A brief overview of “all cause mortality” in what has been released reveals a handful of deaths in both the placebo and the vaccine arm. This is actually a very small number of cohort patients – and I suspect the “power” of any conclusions at this point renders conclusions meaningless. Very concerning. It appears to me, as the pharm industry has become accustomed to doing, we are going to be using the first few million of actual patients to get this data along with many other parameters.

    We have induced a panic in our population – and our leaders – political and medical – are going to be seen to be doing “SOMETHING” no matter what.

    Our society and culture – has turned its head on simple public health measures that have worked for centuries – and indeed all around the world this time. We have embraced whiz-bang for profit pharmaceutical science as the “end-all” – and we are about to see the consequences – good or bad – from that decision.

    I am certainly hoping that these mRNA vaccines work, but I also know something of rushed pharmaceuticals. I am not discouraging or encouraging my patients. I am telling those who are demanding the vaccine to have their prayer beads ready and to walk with God – and I will be right here if something happens – and to let me know early rather than late.

    Again – thank you to the moderators and commenters here. One of the last places informed discussion can happen about anything.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Thank you for those comments, all very interesting.

      I hope your hospital stays quiet – there are indeed many mysteries about how this virus behaves, my family members in medicine have noted that ebbs and flows seem particularly difficult to predict compared to other similar diseases. Speculating, it may be that the ‘super spreader’ effect has made it inherently unpredictable in smaller communities, I wonder if anyone has done an analysis on this.

    2. vlade

      There’s already one thing which I’m not sure how could have been missed on Pfizer – seems like people with history of alergic reactions have a rather bad reaction to the shot too. This could be from overstimulating the immune system (which could explain the “we expect you to feel sick” as well.

      Seems like the Britons are becoming the international lab mice, with a lot of novel stuff (from Cummings to first trade divorce to the vaccine) will be tried on them before anyone else in the world would give it a go.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        I have a bad feeling about the Pfizer vaccine – when it first came out I thought it was by far the best candidate for a quick solution as it was the least radical in design. But there are a lot of questions popping up about how the original trial was handled. Its becoming all too clear that they felt they were in a race and the priority was to be the first to be approved. As you say, a potential for allergic reactions should have been identified very quickly in the safety testing. It makes you wonder if the test subjects were screened out for pre-existing problems like this.

        If it turns out there are too many negative reactions and at some stage it has to be withdrawn for more tests, it could have disastrous impact of take-up on all vaccines.

        1. Cuibono

          “But there are a lot of questions popping up about how the original trial was handled.”
          Care to share those questions? Inquiring minds and all that

      2. Cuibono

        phase three trials OFTEN miss important reactions. long history of this.
        But i did not expect this to appear SO FAST.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > phase three trials OFTEN miss important reactions. long history of this.

          That was my reaction. But at a minimum, at the very least, as the most charitable reaction, the public relations aspect of this rollout is absolutely the worst I have ever seen. All they are doing is doubling down on their expertise (which 2016 and Brexit show is a ruinous strategy). They’ll never convince anyone to “take one for the team” if their only team is, so obviously, them.

          I agree the whole process is a miracle of corporate science, but the dogs have to eat the dog food. If Pfizer has produced the Olestra of vaccines, that’s gonna be a big problem.

          1. John Anthony La Pietra

            “The Olestra of vaccines” — now there’s a discomfortingly apt phrase.

            +2 (urp) much. . . .

        2. vlade

          Somewhere I saw that the placebo was around 0.5% alergic reaction vs. 0.63% in the shot. But the question is, whether they removed “known history of alergies” people from the trial, which, given how common alergies are, would be extremely stupid. Not that doing clearly stupid things ever stopped anyone.

    3. Maritimer

      My two questions for Medical Professionals:

      1. How do you feel about the fact that Pfizer is a criminal organization?
      (At the same site, AstraZeneca and J&J are also criminal organizations.)

      2. Will all those taking the vaccine be given full disclosure and told that Pfizer is a criminal organization.?

      In all the reading I have done on Covid, I have only seen one site, a contrarian one, refer to the fact three of these vaccine developers are criminal organizations. Certainly, evidence of media incompetence if not conspiracy.

  22. The Rev Kev

    “Biden’s Choice For Pentagon Chief Further Erodes a Key U.S. Norm: Civilian Control”

    I’m starting to see a pattern. So retired Gen. Lloyd J. Austin, III is being nominated for Pentagon chief who has worked for Raytheon for the past coupla years. Yeah, give Mr.Raytheon a direct say with the Pentagon. And today I read that former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack is being nominated for Agriculture and his nickname is ‘Mr Monsanto.’ See what I mean by a pattern?

    1. MacDaddy

      Would you have any qualms about put a military man in charge of a series of warehouses and purchasing agencies? Of course not.

      The Pentagon is a giant procurement agency whose main job is to spend our tax money to buy stuff to be used up fighting in overseas losing wars and preparing for civil insurrection in the our country.

    2. tegnost

      You know, I think we need to get serious about transportation.
      No one but travis kalanick can do the job properly

    3. montanamaven

      When I was a delegate to the 2004 Dem Convention (when I was a Dem), it was mostly about the parties hence my disgust. Went to a party for Vilsack “Agriculture Salutes Tom Vilsack” at the Harvard Club. Hunky guys shucking mounds of oysters. a whole room of just Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream in a huge mountain. Gross. And yes, it was sponsored by Cargill, Monsanto et al.

  23. Wukchumni

    The Real Reason Americans Aren’t Quarantining The Atlantic.
    One of my sisters is quite the traveler, having been to around 115 countries and counting. She and her husband are planning to fly to Florida for xmas, and i’ve voiced my opinion and enlisted mom in trying to get her to ixnay on Miami, eh. but no way, they’re still going. Short of committing faux Seppuku on a family Zoom jam where they can’t really verify that i’ve done the deed-as all you get is a head shot, anybody else have any plans to help me derail the plane, er plan?

    A real quarantine would be all public transportation shut down, and drivers allowed a ration (same as in WW2) of 3 gallons of gas per week, both of which will never happen.

  24. Wukchumni

    I’ll see proles in front of me buying lottery tickets and you know damn well the odds against you are astronomical, pick a number, say 10 million to 1 against you hitting the jackpot. It doesn’t deter em’ though, somebody’s gotta win.

    I like the odds, evens out things.

    What are the numerical odds of an American contracting Covid, can somebody suss it out?

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Due to the duration of antibodies and lack of testing, but it’s been around 5 to 10% of the population in September per the internet tubes.

    2. Cuibono

      well, look at the vaccine trial data for starters. That will tell you rough odds for symptomatic infection for the trial members who may or may not be like you.
      some are like me cause i know a fair # of em

    3. Maritimer

      Search “calculate chances of getting covid”

      Here is one site that gives something like what you are asking:

      Early on I had a simple site that asks the population of your region and then how many cases were active. Based on that, it gave a percent chance of contracting Covid.

      In my region, chance of getting Covid was infinitesimal let alone dying from it. Along with that and other evidence, it was apparent that in my jurisdiction, the Government was way, way overreacting and scaring people unnecessarily. But fear, anxiety and panic were and are still the Government diet of every day.

      As you can see from that Georgia Tech site, there are huge differences in risk across the country. This, to me, is part evidence that a one-size-fits-all approach is inappropriate. Certainly, in my jurisdiction, it is absurd. I can only describe Governments’ reactions overall to be Chicken Little and Helter Skelter.

  25. Wukchumni

    A Burning Man-style festival in Mexico turned into a coronavirus superspreader event — with several attendees bringing COVID-19 back with them to New York City, according to a report on Monday.

    Private COVID-19 testing company Checkmate Health Strategies said over half of its recent positive cases in the Big Apple were directly tied to the Art With Me event in Tulum, the Daily Beast reported.

    “I would say that 60 to 70 percent of my positives in the last couple weeks in New York City have been a direct result of either people coming back from Art With Me — or who have been directly exposed to someone who attended Art With Me,” said founder Eleonora Walczak.
    Was talking with my Burner friends about 6 months ago how they dodged a huge bullet by the event taking place in late August instead of around the time of Mardi Gras, and everybody agreed it would’ve been bad.

    I haven’t been to Burning Man in a dozen years and am a little curious how it compares then and now, and a friend bought an RV and has always wanted to go, and doing it in an RV beats the hell out of being in the equivalent of a Russian nesting doll setup with a tent within a tent within a tent, alkali dust still gets in everything.

    There’s also the sticky issue of money, Burning Man operates similar to ski resorts in that they get you to buy a ‘season pass’ in January for the event 8 months away, and while the ski resorts got in over half a season and kept the money, Burning Man had to refund each and every ticket sold earlier this year, ouch.

    Will there be another Burning Man on the flat confines of Black Rock City?

  26. Noone from Nowheresville

    Monarchs. Only personal observation. We have milkweed. Lots even. No pesticide use in our spaces in the for what it’s worth column.

    Used to watch the monarchs and then the dragonflies perform dances around the yard. See the caterpillars on the plants earlier in the season. This year not really that many Monarchs, caterpillars or munched on milkweed observed. Even fewer dragonflies. Perhaps the Monarchs stayed south of us. No idea about the dragonflies. Did notice more fireflies this year, still the exception as opposed to the rule.

  27. Eduardo

    Texas tries Hail Mary to block election outcome (updated) SCOTUSblog
    Can someone explain how Texas has standing to challenge the election process or results in other states?

    If they do have standing that seems to open up a big can of worms for future elections …

  28. Kurt Sperry

    One of Dunn’s clients in the restaurant sector thinks a compulsory inoculation requirement could be a game changer for business.

    From: Yes, your boss can fire you if you refuse to get a Covid vaccine CNBC

    “They think it gives them a competitive advantage,” explained Dunn. “They could say to their customers, ‘Hey, our restaurant is safe. All of our employees have been vaccinated.’”

    It may be, in part, a PR tactic, but Dunn said it is totally within an employer’s rights to implement this kind of requirement.

    “Under the law, an employer can force an employee to get vaccinated, and if they don’t take it, fire them,” said Dunn.

    It might make me a bad person in some people’s eyes but at the point once everyone who wants a Covid vaccine has had the opportunity to get one, I’ll be strongly inclined to avoid public-facing entities that don’t require their employees to be vaccinated if they don’t have a valid medical reason not to be. What’s worse at that point in time if I have a choice, I don’t want be around unvaccinated people, workers or clients, in any closed-in environment, restaurants, pubs, planes, schools, events, you name it. I say give the anti-vaxxers their own private spaces to do whatever they like, but I don’t want myself, my family, or my friends to be around them.

    1. furies

      We don’t even know if the vaccines are ‘safe’.

      I’m certainly not asking to be first in line with my weird genetics and the damages from Pharma I’ve already incurred, thanks.

      1. tegnost

        Indeed… “you take the vaccine or I won’t go to your business” not “I’m taking the vaccine so I can go wherever I want”

        1. JBird4049

          If it had been created with the same standarded as the yearly flu vaccine, or most of the other vaccines out there like MMR, with the understanding that speed was going to cause some shortcuts, I would have no problem.

          However, safety seems to be unimportant. Profits seem to be more important. Add that it is the poor and working classes, those with the least, would likely suffer from a bad vaccine, and I just cannot support demanding that someone take a vaccine or be fired.

          In other words, the pervasive and endemic corruption in our government and business, which hold life as worthless, makes me not trust what they say, but only what they do. I’ll wait for a year after the shots have been widespread before I take one.

    2. Yves Smith

      We don’t know whether having been vaccinated means you can’t spread the disease to others. All we know is that the vaccines reduce the risk of contracting Covid. The impact on contagiousness is a known unknown at this point.

      So businesses which present themselves as not being a hazard to patrons by virtue of having vaccinated staff could be engaging in advertising fraud. It may turn out that someone still generates enough of a viral load while mounting a vaccine-induced defense to Covid to infect others.

    3. Synoia

      If forced bu one’s employer to take the vaccine, who pays for the inoculation, and who has the liability if there are adverse reactions?

    1. sam

      Leaving aside the substance of the article, “persons experiencing homelessness” is one of those currently de rigueur PC terms we could do without. Whenever Newsom or Garcetti discuss the issue (very significant in CA) they get tied in knots trying to squeeze in this circumlocution. If a person lacks a home with walls etc then why can’t we just say s/he is homeless. This is the kind of stuff that causes voters to respond to someone like Trump.

      1. JBird4049

        Because they want to think of it as a supposedly temporary, unexpected then like the flu, or the pain one gets from stubbing one’s big toe; they want to treat homelessness like it is an act of God or a accident with temporary discomfort instead of the deliberate creation of the state’s political economy or at least of malign neglect.

        To acknowledge that homelessness is common, often long term, and can cause serious health problems like mental illness means it is more likely that they will have to take it seriously and actually do something beside the circuitous bloviations of the past forty years.

  29. fresno dan

    From the movie, Wallstreet
    The richest one percent of this country owns half our country’s wealth, five trillion dollars. One third of that comes from hard work, two thirds comes from inheritance, interest on interest accumulating to widows and idiot sons and what I do, stock and real estate speculation. It’s bullshit. You got ninety percent of the American public out there with little or no net worth. I create nothing. I own.
    So I’m a big movie buff, yet I have never seen the movie Wallstreet
    Ironically, now that I really want to see it, I can understand why Netflix doesn’t carry it – all about copyright, who owns the rights, and who will pay what to distribute a movie over 30 years old.
    I don’t want to join Amazon Prime, so I guess I will buy it…

  30. Clem

    On mandatory vaccinations:

    If employers and government can get away with forcing people to be vaccinated as a condition of employment or receiving emergency financial assistance then government might also force people to have Norplant* injected as a condition of receiving welfare.

    *Norplant is a new long lasting contraceptive that consists of six matchstick-size silicone capsules that are inserted in a woman’s upper arm.

    1. zagonostra

      Are you familiar with the Supreme Court case Buck v. Bell?

      It is better for all the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime, or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind. The principle that sustains compulsory vaccination is broad enough to cover cutting the Fallopian tubes…Holmes concluded his argument by declaring that “Three generations of imbeciles are enough”.

  31. Mikel

    RE: “Mayor Pete may get China post” Axios. Yes, you want somebody with gravitas to deal with Xi….

    Looks like they are opting for sneaky and “spooky” (in every sense of the word) over “gravitas.”

  32. Wukchumni

    Just got off the blower with mom who reminded me I was in NYC today 40 years ago in front of the Dakota crying over John (she never forgets anything!), and she’s all locked down again in her gilded cage, er apartment and things are going ok, nothing new to report on the Covid front. She told me they went from 51 residents this time last year down to 36 presently. Some of it is virus related, others have jumped ship and came ashore at a rival outfit a few thousand a month cheaper.

    Assisted living places must have a threshold occupancy in making money or not, must be close with a third of the place empty.

    And a funny thing about them, when people inquire as to how my mom is, I say ‘she’s at an assisted living place {and then they always grimace} down in LA’.

    Everybody knows they were occasionally death traps, early on.

    1. montanamaven

      We might have been standing next to each other crying! I lived at 85th and Columbus and ran down to 79th when I heard the news. So sad. For me it was Martin, then Bobby and John… Lennon. Glad your mom is OK. My Mom hated assisted living with her little cramped apartment but then we transferred her to this small Nursing Home in the tip of Michigan where she was in a hospital bed and went to the dining room for dinner that had really great oil paintings in it. (Rich guy had a wife with early Alzheimer’s so he hired a 4 star chef for the place and donated art). She was treated like a princess. She was very happy there and resumed her comedy routines which endeared her to the staff.

      1. Wukchumni

        I was getting on a red-eye from LAX to JFK about the time he was murdered, and sought out solace the next day with others and I was wearing a brown jacket if that jogs any memories, ha! One of the saddest moments of my life, the melancholy ran deep @ the Dakota, a mixture of crying and singing songs was just too much for me after half an hour, I could take no more.

        For me it the end of not only my favorite Beatle, but the end of the band ever getting back together again, which I now think is a good thing, as their music is timelessly a picture of the 1960’s.

  33. Wukchumni

    Close it up, close it up
    Buddy gonna shut you down

    It happened in the land of the free where the divide is wide
    (Oooo close it up now)
    Two cool restaurants standin’ side by side
    (Oooo close it up now)
    Yeah, a groovy Thai place and one serving Italian Florentine
    (Oooo close it up now)
    Crunchin’ the numbers and it sounds real mean
    (Oooo close it up now)

    Close it up, close it up, close it up
    Buddy gonna shut you down

    Declinin’ profits at a plummeting rate
    (Oooo movin’ out now)
    On account of Corona losses accelerate
    (Oooo movin’ out now)
    My bank balance is light, i’m really pinned
    (Oooo movin’ out now)
    But after the new year foreclosure’s really diggin’ in
    (Oooo movin’ out now)

    Gotta be cool now power shift here we go

    Moving truck is windin’ out in low
    Loaded up with restaurant fixtures really startin’ to go
    To get financial traction I’ve hocked a bunch
    Artwork on the walls where I paid too much

    Pedal’s to the floor here a bump in the road
    (Oooo pump it up now)
    And now the savings are startin’ to shrink
    (Oooo pump it up now)
    I’m hot with ambition but it’s understood
    (Oooo pump it up now)
    I got a start a new restaurant after Covid in another hood
    (Oooo pump it up now)

    Shut it off, shut it off buddy now I shut you down
    Shut it off, shut it off buddy now I shut you down
    Shut it off, shut it off buddy now I shut you down
    Shut it off, shut it off buddy now I shut you down
    Shut it off, shut it off buddy now I shut you down

  34. Stephen C.

    “Some people they like to go out dancing And other people, they have to work.“

    This line in the links above caught my eye. (I clicked. It took me to a Youtube with Lou Reed music, but no lyrics, so I’m not sure if that is a line from a song.)

    It caught my eye because just yesterday I was grappling with a Latin textbook (wherein English explanations are forbidden, the textbook forces you to figure things out on your own) that seemed to be teaching that pronouns and their respective nouns can be used in the same sentence. I couldn’t wrap my head around what I assumed I was supposed to be learning until I saw that line above.

    Yet the line struck me as “low brow” English, so on my hike this morning I was contemplating why that would be so if it were perfectly acceptable in Latin. I am glad to see that it might be a lyric and therefor works better as far as meter or whatever the correct poetical term is.

    As you can tell, I still haven’t sorted it all out, and I am probably wrong about the Latin. I’m sure that all you grammarians and linguists here can correct my many errors. But I just wanted to say that Naked Capitalism stimulates in surprising ways.

  35. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

    Meantime the investigations into The Biden Family sale of America to the highest bidder, mostly the CCP, continue apace. This is going to be fun, like RussiaGate with evidence. From Chuck Grassley’s interim report:

    “The records acquired by the Committees show consistent, significant and extensive financial connections among and between Hunter Biden, James Biden, Sara Biden, Devon Archer, and Chinese nationals connected to the Communist regime and PLA as well as other foreign nationals with questionable backgrounds. These connections and the vast amount of money transferred among and between them don’t just raise conflicts of interest concerns, they raise criminal financial, counterintelligence and extortion concerns.”

    Given the moveable feast of hard evidence they should just go straight to sentencing and San Quentin, but they’ll probably let Mountain Master have home detention on compassionate grounds, given his mental state. Will be fun watching him try to teleprompt his way out of this one:

    The doc cites some of the bank wire transfers and amounts, selling your country can be very lucrative indeed! Q: Won’t Joe struggle if he makes it to January 20, when he’s supposed to put one hand on a Bible and swear he will “protect and defend”? LOL

  36. crittermom

    RE: “Massive goldfish… ”

    l lived a mile from a lake when in New Mexico & saw numerous large goldfish (but none at 9 lbs).
    It seems someone was (illegally) using them as bait when fishing & apparently dumped them into the lake when done (or saw a ranger?).

    I was told that they were considered invasive & had multiplied to large numbers. (I was even able to take photos of one as it swam along the shore). Supposedly they had removed literally tons of them from the lake in prior years (but obviously not quite all of them).

    Those were the only fish I observed Bald Eagles catching, as they were easy prey.

    Bald Eagles steal more food than they catch, which I’ve also witnessed as they harassed Osprey until a trout was dropped & retrieved by an eagle. “Rather than do their own fishing, Bald Eagles often go after other creatures’ catches.”

    As Benjamin Franklin said, “He is a Bird of bad moral Character. He does not get his Living honestly.”

    A very accurate symbol of our country currently, it seems.

  37. Rtah100

    I am enthusiastic about the beavers but there is a dark side to this enthusiasm for rewilding. It is all very Marie Antoinette, milking cows in the Petit Trianon. Beavers are the in gift this year for the county set. Boris bought Stanley a pair for his place in Exmoor. Brian May funds the society vet who breeds them!

    Isabel Tree is rewilding Knapp but it is easy to turn your land over to ranching Highland cattle when you have 3,000 acres of prime Sussex land and several former tenanted farmhouses and yards that you took in hand and converted to commercial property to rent out. You also get £70/acre subsidy just for being the “active farner” ftom the common agricultural policy (there are caps but if you break the holding up between family or trusts you could sidestep these) – that’s £210k per annum for beaver food to start with!

    To their credit they acknowledge their privileged position when they talk about the project and it is a fantastic project but it is not scalable. The agenda of rewilding is troubling. Half the joyful vision of starry-eyed eco dreamers, half the cynical cover story for the disaster capitalism that will refashion British agriculture post Brexit. The new mantra of “public money for public goods”, I.e. water retaining bogland, tree cover, hedgerows etc. is meaningless if the money on offer is not enough to maintain family farm incomes. Small farms will be bankrupted and farming concentrated in large estates that will be brutally efficient in the lowlands eschewing subsidy and scenically subsidised in the uplands. Only the deep pocketed likes of the National Trust and other large landowners can afford to diversify in this way.

    My wife is involved in policy in this area and despairs of getting civil servants and ministers to meet real farmers (landrovers, Rayburn’s and trousers held up with bailer twine), not landowners and gentleman farmers (Rangerovers, Aga’s, tailoring). Some of the problem is just Cameroonian hug-a-husky and Cummings radical-for-radical’s-sake types monopolising the Whitehall discourse. She does think George Eustice is a force for good though.

    As for the hollowing out of civil service competence, don’t get her started on the public school boys in the Treasury or the civil service wide infeststion of project managers or the apparent inability to think with clear and common sense.

  38. rtah100

    The Oxford / Astrazeneca vaccine group have published the Phase 3 data.

    It’s very interesting, well worth a read.

    Watch out for side-effects, there have been four non-Covid deaths already:
    “There were four non-COVID-19 deaths reported across the studies (three in the control arm and one in the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 arm) that were all considered unrelated to the vaccine, with cause of death assessed as road traffic accident, blunt force trauma, homicide, and fungal pneumonia.”

    I’m not going to take the mRNA vaccines. I’m musing on the Oxford vaccine but by the time it gets to the clinic for the general population, there may be wider choices.

  39. taunger

    I’ve got beavers on my mind, too. A beaver family in my neighborhood recently abandoned the dams they had made on multiple streams, which created a pond catty-corner the the swimming hole in the main branch, and dammed up the main branch just past my swimming hole. Now my spot is at least a foot deeper, but I’m not sure how human/beaver relations will go, and I’m afraid of bringing the dog or the baby. Nonetheless, watching the process and change in their strategy is awesome in the original sense of the word.

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