Links 1/13/2021

Cat Cafe Gets Funding To Help With Pandemic Surge In Demand For Cats Bklyner. Go long cats.

How does international capital flow? Bank Underground. In the wake of the gunboats?

Trade sentiment and the stock market: new evidence based on big data textual analysis of Chinese media Bank of International Settlements

The Courage to Learn: A Retrospective on Antitrust and Competition Policy During the Obama Administration and Framework for a New Structuralist Approach (PDF) American Economic Liberties Project. Stoller’s thing.

Theranos destroyed crucial subpoenaed SQL blood test database, can’t unlock backups, prosecutors say The Register

Capitol Hill Seizure

DOJ probing sedition in connection with Capitol riot Politico

How the Capitol riot revived calls to reform Section 230 Politico

Nearly 2 in 5 Say Social Media Companies’ Decisions to Temporarily Suspend Trump’s Account Are ‘Exactly Right’ Morning Consult


McConnell is said to be pleased about impeachment, believing it will be easier to purge Trump from the G.O.P. NYT

House passes bill calling on Pence to remove Trump The Hill

How Liz Cheney became the conscience of Republicans Chris Cilizza, CNN

Coronapolitics from the Reichstag to the Capitol Boston Review


Wastewater-based epidemiology: a 20-year journey may pay off for Covid-19 STAT. Wastewater testing is non-intrusive and doesn’t enrich Silicon Valley, and so, like medical dogs, may prove to be a non-starter. Although it has been implemented in a few states: Missouri, New Mexico, Washington. And Massachusetts–

Wastewater COVID-19 Tracking Massachusetts Water Resources Authority. Handy (pilot data) chart from Biobiot:

Look out, Boston. Also, it couldn’t hurt to push this technology with your local water and sewer authority.

* * *

Ventilation and viral loads: the key misunderstandings of how coronavirus spreads Science Focus

What Makes Building Ventilation Good Enough to Withstand a Pandemic? Bloomberg

* * *

An evidence review of face masks against COVID-19 PNAS. An awesome multidisciplinary round-up, well worth a read (and worth forwarding to relevant decision makers, even at the local level). From the Abstract: “The preponderance of evidence indicates that mask wearing reduces transmissibility per contact by reducing transmission of infected respiratory particles in both laboratory and clinical contexts. Public mask wearing is most effective at reducing spread of the virus when compliance is high. Given the current shortages of medical masks, we recommend the adoption of public cloth mask wearing, as an effective form of source control, in conjunction with existing hygiene, distancing, and contact tracing strategies.”

* * *

We need a better way of distributing the covid-19 vaccine. Here’s how to do it. WaPo. “Distribution should be redesigned to work in the health system we have.”

The Challenge Of Vaccine Hesitancy In Rural America KFF

Canada, US extend closure of shared border to Feb 21 France24


China imposes tough new curbs on 23m people after Covid outbreak FT

Sinovac’s vaccine general efficacy less than 60% in Brazil trial – report Reuters

Amid ‘chaos in the West’, Chinese law enforcers told to keep grip on social stability South China Morning Post. Commentary:

For Covid Vaccine Storage, Philippines May Tap Meat and Fish Freezers for Help Bloomberg

“No More ‘America No. 1′” The Blue Roof

Lessons from the American insurrection Bangkok Post


‘I really want to go to Delhi’ People’s Archive of Rural India

India’s quick nod to homegrown COVID-19 vaccine seeds doubt AP

Despite Mounting Disputes, Govt Presses Ahead With Vaccine Roll Out The Wire


Nagorno-Karabakh: Putin hosts talks between Azerbaijan, Armenia leaders France24

Erdogan’s great game: The Turkish problem on the EU’s doorstep FT

This image seems…. oddly structural:

Lawsuit threatens $23B weapons sale to UAE Defense News. That’s a damn shame.


Rush-hour traffic in London hits its highest level during third lockdown as key workers continue to commute to work Daily Mail. We saw the same pattern of third-wave pandemic fatigue in Seoul’s subway system (Links 2020-12-19).

BoJo, good job:

Send them a message!

Populist Amlo’s tight grip on Mexico finances holds back Covid stimulus FT

Biden Transition

Atop the Powerful Budget Committee at Last, Bernie Sanders Wants to Go Big NYT. Sanders controls the reconciliation process, apparently.

Biden dresses down his Covid team over plans to speed vaccinations Politico. West Wing brain, West Wing brain: “‘[Covid coordinator Jeff] Zients, a business executive, and [his deputy Natalie] Quillian, who was until recently a partner at Boston Consulting Group, do not have public health background…. ‘They probably require some more practical doers with deep experience in navigating business and government,’ the person who has been working with the transition said. ‘People who have actually made a bill become law or pulled together industries and understand what businesses are capable of and what they’re not.'” Or the government? Funny how the Defense Procurement Act has faded from view. It used to be conventional wisdom among liberal Democrats that Trump should have invoked it instantly, for example to manufacture masks. (Zients was on Facebook’s board until 2020, and resigned as CEO of Cranemere, said to be a private equity firm.)

Trump administration makes sweeping changes to speed up pace of COVID-19 vaccinations The Hill. Aligning first dose policy with Biden.

Can Burns Change the CIA? Ray McGovern, Consortium News

Joe Biden poised to name foreign policy expert as Asia tsar FT. Kurt Campbell, a key architect of the “pivot to Asia.”

The Lincoln Project’s Predator The American Conservative. Oopsie.

Former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and other top officials will soon be criminally charged in connection with the Flint water crisis, report says Business Insider (jp).

Police State Watch

What Was the Point of Fortress D.C.? Slate. Very good. Naturally, we are doubling down on #FAIL:

We Should Be Very Worried About Joe Biden’s “Domestic Terrorism” Bill Jacobin (nippersmom).

Our Famously Free Press

These Fortune 500 keyword blocklists are defunding the news Branded

Just Because The System Is Stacked Against You Doesn’t Mean The Universe Is Caitlin Johnstone

Class Warfare

Unity will come when people ‘feel it in their pockets’: former Citigroup chairman Yahoo Finance. It seems that Dick Parsons has taken out a Communist Party card:

In a new interview, former Citigroup chairman Dick Parsons, who also served as Time Warner CEO, attributed the political division to rising wealth inequality that has shut out many Americans from access to ‘prosperity,’ adding that tensions will dissipate when people ‘feel it in their pockets.’

‘If we owe Donald Trump anything, we owe him the fact that he revealed how large and how dissatisfied that group of people were,’ Parsons said. ‘Those people have to be made to feel like they are included in the prosperity of the country.’ ‘It’s going to take a regeneration of prosperity spread more equally,’ adds Parsons, who served in some fashion every Republican president from Gerald Ford to George W. Bush, and as an economic adviser to Barack Obama amid the financial crisis.

Good thing the CARES Act actually reduced poverty, albeit temporarily. Otherwise, we might be in real trouble.

How CEOs became the 4th branch of government Felix Salmon, Axios. “American capitalism is based on a foundation of legal contracts, all of which ultimately rely on the strength and stability of the government,” which corporations now seek to reinforce by withholding donations from those they consider to be malefactors. I’m not sure that’s as clever as they think:

Framing by liberal Democrats that denying Republicans corporate funding is somehow bad for them drives me up the wall. They’re doing a happy dance because their party could be the only one that’s openly corrupt?

Trumka Stopped Talk of General Strike Against Trump – Peoria Teachers Walkout – Hawaii Nurses to Strike Payday Report. Big Labor, doing its part!

More Than One-Third of U.S. Coronavirus Deaths Are Linked to Nursing Homes NYT

The Pension-Fund Profiteers Are Making a Killing From Long-Term Care Jacobin

Gig Worker Rights Group Announces App to Track Uber’s Prop 22 Benefits Motherboard. So why not an app to take Uber’s business away from them?

Blueberries, Xanny Bars, Clazzys: My Anxiety-Driven Benzo Journey Filter

The life and death of SNET, Havana’s alternative internet Rest of World

Antidote du jour (via):

“Yes, well, some free advice to go with your free information, then. Feed it to them on a long stick.” He smiled affably. “Because if you don’t, they’ll take your arm off at the shoulder.” –Richard Morgan, Broken Angels. Words to live by!

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. The Rev Kev

    “Wastewater-based epidemiology: a 20-year journey may pay off for Covid-19”

    This is a great tool this as it gives you the big picture rate of infection in an area and is being used across Oz. It is like an early warning system and here it has showed infections in places that were not suspected of having any. Used in conjunction with testing stations, it has proven very effective whereas testing alone is slanted to only those who actually turn up for a test in the first place. Here is a local article from a month ago talking about this technique-

    That CSIRO mentioned in the article by the way is the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation which is a government agency tasked with scientific research in everything from WiFi development, polymer banknotes, radio telescopes and anything else to do with science.

    1. D. Fuller

      John Snow (insert Game of Thrones reference/joke here), considered the founder of epidemiology, traced the outbreak of cholera to a water well in London in 1854. Not quite the same. However, both Snow’s efforts and wastewater monitoring show a need for beginning-to-end monitoring.

      Dangle enough in guaranteed profits through taxpayer dollars, there will be some Capitalist company willing to provide the barest minimum of monitoring.

        1. D. Fuller

          How do we know masks work in preventing spread of diseases? Alice Hamilton, 1905. How do we know that proper hygiene works? Florence Nightingale.

          There are too many who misunderstand how masks work. Most effective in preventing the transmission from an infected person to others. As you and most here already know. For some reason, too many believe that masks prevent one from contracting diseases – they do to a certain extent and depending on the type of mask.

          Then again, look at the state of our education system and public education programs.

          We’ve come a long way to understanding. Only to take steps backwards into the realm of mysticism. The Pendulum between Progress and Barbarism swings to Barbarism. Instigated by the usual suspects.

          Nice one on the desk. My most valuable possession that I prize above all else is a simple phrase written by a woman, tucked away in my passport wallet. For me to lose that would be devastating. Walking around the palace at Yalta where Stalin, Churchill, and Truman remade the world – with Churchill desperately finagling side deals with Stalin as to the division of Europe in a vain attempt to maintain some sort of Empire afterwards – some can’t help but be struck with awe. Personally, I found the experience less than awe inspiring, much less. My most profound experience was the girl who was selling postcards on the grounds at a cart, crying because she made the sale upon which her job depended on. That incident was the sobering experience I took away from visiting Yalta. Imagine a woman crying, grateful and thanking you that you bought post cards. Because it meant she kept her job for the day, could feed her family for another day.

          However, people take meaning from owning a desk or fountain pen or even a short note on a piece of paper. Connections to the past. Or for inspiration. Others, see objects as status. Others visit historic sites to view the surroundings in which such momentous decisions are made; to wonder what the effects of the surroundings were on the people who occupied those rooms so long ago, had on their decisions.

          Thanks, Yves and NC for being patient. I’m typing too much today. :)

      1. chuck roast

        My neighbor walks down to the Elm Street pier every Tuesday morning and picks up a water sample which he sends to the state lab. Family blog capitalism.

    2. jhallc

      It’s a great tool for identifying when and where the virus shows up at a locality. In Boston and many places the sewers are combined with storm water runoff which, would act to dilute the overall sample. Ideally sampling should occur well after a precipitation event. That said, the overall effect might be that the average levels are depressed slightly and the wastewater levels are unfortunately higher. Sewer systems that separate storm water infiltration provide the best results.

    3. .Tom

      I was curious about the unit of measurement: number of RNA copies per unit volume. What else might affect volume that isn’t linearly related to number of toilet flushes? e.g. weather. So I emailed the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority. They confirmed that it’s not quite as simple as the measurement unit suggests.

      Yes, there are combined sewers in our service area which means that we do see increased flow due to rain and snowmelt.  Biobot Analytics uses the concentration of a virus that is much more prevalent in human feces as a reference to correct for these changes.  The data posted on the website includes that correction.

      Clever stuff.

      So, would the rank of our indicators in terms of time lag behind the actual rate of active infection in the population be 1) waste water, 2) tests, 3) hospitalizations, 4) deaths? Is that the right order?

    4. Kfish

      The CSIRO is one of Australia’s most famous and most loved public institutions, and a big middle finger to the private market zealots who insist that government can’t innovate. Of course, its funding is constantly under review by conservative governements who want to prove that government can’t do anything.

  2. chris

    I couldn’t find this article in the December links and watercoolers. Sharing here in case others want to read Chris Hedges opinion on what Biden’s instincts will likely lead him to as policies to handle the social unrest we will surely experience over the coming months.

    The Biden administration resembles the ineffectual German government formed by Franz von Papen in 1932 that sought to recreate the ancien régime, a utopian conservatism that ensured Germany’s drift into fascism. Biden, bereft like von Papen of new ideas and programs, will eventually be forced to employ the brutal tools Biden as a senator was so prominent in creating to maintain social control – wholesale surveillance, a corrupt judicial system, the world’s largest prison system and police that have been transformed into lethal paramilitary units of internal occupation. Those that resist as social unrest mounts will be attacked as agents of a foreign power and censored, as many already are being censored, including through algorithms and deplatforming on social media. The most ardent and successful dissidents, such as Julian Assange, will be criminalized.

    1. jr


      I’ve heard the idea of the US splitting up into three separate nations, perhaps here a while back. As deplatforming, and therefore the marginalizing and isolating, skyrockets, it seems that any trends towards such splits would be sped up. With a liberal MSM that tends to ignore large swaths of the country except to mock them and a predominantly right wing alternative media world like radio interested in festering “us vs. them” narratives, there is a lot of fuel to power such ideas.

      I realize there is a lot more going on, economic and social ties, military factors, but I do think mass deplatforming could ultimately feed into separatist trends. At a minimum, more regionalism and probably a lot of indirect support for state’s rights movements etc.

      1. epynonymous

        The Clinton impeachment led to – which eventually led me here.

        I think the same process will happen on the right, except without the nuance.

        1. a different chris

          How do we split up, though? It’s not SW vs NE vs CA or whatever. It’s rural vs urban, the suburbs do generally land with the “color” of their state but still…and I would even argue beyond that, the splits are in the virtual world of the Internet as much as in the physical world and I think the shift that way will continue.

          This ain’t your great-great grandfather’s Civil War, even if the roots are quite similar.

          1. D. Fuller

            The (mostly corporate owned) media (serving their corporate masters) present Civil War 2.0 has Blue v Red. Framing the circumstances and player into a neat narrative. Too effective.

            Civil War 2.0 is more about the 1% versus the 99%. As long as the majority can be distracted from that? Split the nation up. Which will solve NOTHING.

            Thiel and his Silicon Valley billionaires wanted to split California in two. One for them, having the peasants come in during the day into the rich enclave, to service them. And the rest of California for the peasants, to be the leisure playground of the haves.

            Splitting up the US into separate geographical regions will simply lead to more strife. As “begger thy neighbor” becomes the dominant paradigm in pursuing wealth. Much like Globalism today uses wage and regulatory arbitrage between nations to “begger thy neighbors”.

            With one or more Financial factions, the destruction and subversion of the United States has always been a goal. Any super-power is a threat to the creation of a supra-national elite. Super-powers are competitors to multi-national corporations who desire to be their own independent entity above nation-states. Super-powers have the strength to be the 800lb gorilla in the Globalist China shop.

            Nations are threats to the power structures of Globalists.

            The destruction of the US and US national power will be a boon to those factions which see corporate passports as the gateway to international freedom from governmental restrictions.

            On the other hand? Who will become the enforcers for the global aspirations of the wealthy few? Perhaps they believe they can bind another country or countries with contracts… such as China. Much like Western financial powers wished when they attempted to subjugate what was left of the USSR, during the 1990’s. That did not work out so well.

    2. Synoia

      Is that not a definition of a Gerontocracy?

      The president, leaders of the House and Senate, all ancient, and past their dotage?

      1. The Historian

        That is the problem with power. Once you’ve been intoxicated with it, you never want to give it up. There are very few Cincinnati’s left in the world.

        1. Stephen C.

          Power is not only intoxicating, but it seems also to promote longevity. See Kissinger and Pelosi lifespans.

        2. Carolinian

          Yes. The mantra of the powerful is “too much is never enough.” I’m reading a good book by Thomas Ricks called First Principles. It promotes a view that the founders got all their ideas from the Romans and Greeks and foremost among these was the notion that “virtue”–sacrificing one’s personal interests in favor of the greater good–was necessary to make a republican government work. Of course they had plenty of virtue problems themselves but at least the goal was correct.

          One suspects that the obsession with IDPol in the current day is simply a rationalization for the opposite–an obsession with the individual over society. These days if you complain about selfish business people they are likely to say you are attacking them for their ethnicity or gender. The notion that we are all more alike than we are different, even Trumpies and the Woke, is anathema. The inability to step outside oneself–so characteristic of the powerful–has spread throughout our elite. It cannot end well.

      2. D. Fuller

        “A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.” -Max Planck

        Same goes with politics and most other systems. With exceptions.

        Interestingly enough, there is a audio-visual phenomena that affects older people, “change blindness”. A processing issue. What other effects of age affect our mental processes? As we age, change for many, no longer becomes an option. We live in the past, too many.

  3. D. Fuller

    Mitch McConnell reportedly leaning toward impeachment? The media has a habit of reporting on what McConnell is in favor of. Before McConnell attaches strings to his position, achieving the opposite.

    1. Susan the other

      And it is always possible that Mitch is in favor of impeachment again, at this almost absurd time, just to get the Democrats to really step in it. Which they probably will.

    1. CanChemist

      The new strains are terrifying, game-changing developments. That can’t be overstated. The one in particular focus right now is B117 which is actively circulating beyond the UK now into many countries including Denmark, USA, Canada. There has been serious discussion this past week now on Twitter under hashtag #B117 and the projections are extremely grim. The mainstream media has communicated that there is a new, more contagious strain, but not the true implications of that in practice.

      Here is the data released by the Ontario govt yesterday morning. It instituted ‘stay at home’ orders and a state of emergency yesterday afternoon.

      Everyone should take a look at slide 22. The blue line is the projections of existing covid. The red line is B117 and the gray line is the total of existing + B117. The spread in lines is the probability spread based on different assumptions. This plot matches projections from other countries as well. In a nutshell, B117 is 50-70% more infectious and measures that control existing covid, like lockdowns, have been largely ineffectual so far against it. It means we seem to be on a pathway of “when, not if” to having the pandemic go so far out of control that I can’t even speculate what that looks like.

      Would very much like to have input from the health professionals/epidemiologists in the commentariat on all this. The outlook appears very grim indeed and I don’t know that there’s any information yet on how safety precautions need to be adjusted to deal with this.

      1. marcel

        Twitter has even less memory than myself, so I can’t provide a link, but a health professional stated that mask wearing, in general, reduces transmissibility by about 45%.
        This new variant is about 50% more transmissible.
        So mask wearing with this new variant is thus about the same as no mask wearing with the old variant(s): be very afraid indoors.
        Several countries in Europe are in lockdown for that precise reason. Bavaria has mandated N95/FFP2 masks in public transport & public spaces.

        1. a different chris

          No your math is wrong:

          The equation is .5*(1-.45) = .275 or 27.5%.

          Not good but we need to get this stuff right. Wear your mask, if you live in a civilized country you can probably and should get an N95.

          1. juno mas

            Yes. However N95 masks are still not readily available. The KN-95 masks (similar, but not exactly) are available online. After reading the B117 report in NC yesterday I ordered 10 KN’s for trips to indoor venues (grocery store, dentist, Post Office, etc.).

            Time to double down on vigilance.

            1. Anthony G Stegman

              A mask won’t do much good at the dentist. :)

              I’ve been to my dentist twice during the pandemic. She has added a vacuum machine she calls “ET”. It has a vacuum motor with a long flexible tube, and attached to it is a wide mouth that sucks aerosols out of the air while she or her hygienist is working on a patient. I felt very safe there. During the pandemic the hygienist doesn’t use ultrasound to clean teeth, and instead uses old fashioned scraping methods so as to minimize aerosols generation.

              More infectious variants will pose additional challenges, and require stricter adherence to safety protocols, but should be manageable in clinical settings.

              1. juno mas

                Well, they are required in the indoor waiting room.

                I was admonished by my dentist that my cloth mask was doing me little good. Thus my online purchase of KN95’s. (I have another appointment in a week.)

                My local community, which is just up the coast from LA, is now seeing exponential growth of infections. As I said, the NC article detailing the new Covid variation has me and my dentists office bracing for the worst.

                My dentist has ALL the new fangled machinery to minimize aerosols, too.
                He adds a $10 PPE fee to every appointment AND recommends N95 masks in the waiting room. (“recommends” has special force when you consider he is around your face with sharp objects.)

        2. Redlife2017

          I’m now using one of those disposable inserts into my regular mask. I tried a KN95 and due to my tiny head/ face it doesn’t actually work for me.

          I am very concerned about the B117 variant. People I know who have been very careful got it. The local butchers had to shut down because multiple people got it. It’s game changing in trying to figure out the rules again – that is we all have rules we work by that seem to keep us from getting infected. But they don’t seem to work anymore. In my area of North Islington people are starting to wear masks outside (unthinkable 3 months ago). And I’m getting very fastidious about how long I stay in places and how many people are inside – whereas before I would have been fine with OK social distancing and masks indoors. Now? I basically want no one to talk in the green grocers and try to get out in less than 10 minutes (and yes, I know that is chancy with this variant).

          Of course, once the stockpiles dwindle to nothing, I won’t have anything to shop for anyway…

        3. Grateful Dude

          math check: percents aren’t reversible that way. If, say the base of transmissibility is 100 transmissibility units (TUs). Then 50% more transmissible takes that to 150 TUs. But the 45% reduction by masks would reduce that to about 70TUs, not 100.

          So if you’ve concluded that the masks we have won’t be effective at all on the new strain of virus, I believe you’re mistaken. Might want to be careful with that.

      2. Kurt

        If B117 arriving, as well as toilet paper and masks still being rationed, plus old fashioned Covid and potential civil unrest around January 20th aren’t reasons enough to get your butt to the store TODAY to acquire everything for a long shut down, I don’t know what is.

        Besides food, don’t forget the little things that you use around the house everyday like trash bags, detergent, bar soap, wine and liquor.

        1. ambrit

          As I remarked yesterday on another thread; being called a “prepper” now is no longer an insult.

      3. three eyed goddess

        CanChemist here’s one ‘medical professional’ (nurse) response to the new variant: having committed to work through one year of the pandemic – post-retirement – I resigned after hearing of the new variant. Not an option for my youngert colleagues.

      4. Anthony G Stegman

        So far, the “experts” don’t seem too concerned about B117. They keep emphasizing that it does not appear to be more lethal so we should all relax. News of an even more dangerous variant originating in Africa is sparse. In any event, physically distance, mask up, and wash hands. What else can we do?

        1. Yves Smith

          That is badly informed. Anyone who has actually pushed a few #s around will quickly conclude a 50% increase in infectiousness at same mortality rate will kill way more people with same transmission level and 50% higher mortality rate.

    2. D. Fuller

      In order to create deadlier strains in a laboratory, virologists will use tissue and cell cultures to accelerate the evolution of viruses through mutation. By repeatedly passing viruses through tissue and cell cultures. This is a simplification. By doing so, newer and/or deadlier strains may be produced. The evolution of viruses can be vastly accelerated.

      Tissue and cell cultures take the place of humans. In the reverse, we are the “tissue and cell cultures” in the “petri dish” society through “herd immunity”. There is a “plandemic” – allowing the spread of Covid-19 to achieve “herd immunity” by obstructing methods and measures to control the spread of Covid-19. Most fail to recall that prior herd immunity strategies by the medical profession were achieved through mass innoculation by public health officials through government.

      The public is the petri dish. An uncontrolled spread of a highly contagious virus circulating through human petri dishes. Excacerbated by multiple environmental factors that would be controlled in a laboratory setting; that are not now controlled. Factors such as genetic exchange between viruses and/or bacteria, for instance.

      Key mutations produced by the uncontrolled spread of Covid-19 now hasten the spread of Covid-19. What mutations would it take to produce a far deadlier, easily communicable strain? The longer the virus circulates, the greater the odds are that we will find out. People will say, “well, that could happen regardless of whether or not we took measures”. Yes, it could. People who make such utterances are typically people who demand that something either work or not. A/B thinkers. Demanding perfect outcomes or systems. Who lack the capacity to understand that no system is perfect. In the case of Covid-19, measures to reduce or eliminate the spread of Covid-19 also reduce the probability of the virus mutating into a far deadlier strain. The chances will always be a non-zero number. This is not good enough for A/B thinkers. “It is going to happen anyways.”, is thrir mantra.

      Also of concern? Secondary health effects that persist long after infection. The damage to nervous and vascular systems. For men, damage reproductive organs. Many people who survived their initial bout with Covid-19 will be suddenly dropping dead years or decades earlier. The more people infected, the greater the number of early deaths. Which is where the virulency of any new strain, is of great concern. Welcome to the “early death lottery” in which “winning” means death, with no known way of predicting when or who will win.

      Covid-19 is the third coronavirus in the last 18 years, with the potential to cause tens of millions of deaths. SARS in 2002. MERS in 2012. Covid-19, today. More mutations means newer, novel strains at an accelerated pace. More mutations occurring through infections, infections increasing as a result of the increase in virulence of a virus as it spreads from host to host. Producing more mutations.

      Insert “Agenda 21 reference” for conspiracy nuts, here. Attributable to Trump as a UN Agenda 21 conspirator, naturally. Apologies, could not resist.

      If one is cynical enough, the profit motive of Capitalism sees Covid-19 as a new market for generating profits. A long term market given that recent evidence is that antibodies produced by infection or vaccination have a limited lifespan. Complete with captured consumers. The perfect market. Rest assured, executives at private corporations have seen and considered the potential enormous profits in a recurring pandemic that Covid-19 represents.

      1. Ignacio

        If you do serial passage of viruses through in vitro cultures of human cells what you will obtain won’t be more virulent strains. on the contrary, you will almost certainly obtain milder strains since you are working in conditions where no strong natural selection occurs through transmission or through inexistent systemic immune systems in cultured cells. Please, stop this bullshit about malignant virologists creating deadly strains. It just reflects ignorance about science.

        The rest doesn’t even merit comment, IMO quite a crazy & lazy comment. Indeed new strains can appear and these could be more (or less) virulent, but current epidemiological conditions, until ‘herd immunity’ is there will favour the selection of strains that are more easily transmitted, which in turn doesn’t necessarily mean deadlier (though it could well be so). This is not the result of a malignant capitalist conspiracy but simple natural selection and events like this are muuuuuch older than capitalism itself going back to the very origins of life on earth.

        Pretending that the new virus could be eliminated such as SARS1.0 or MERS suggests willing ignorance given the epidemiological differences between the three new coronaviruses. With a very fast and tough response early in Wuhan it would have been possible but not certain. Very shortly after the outbreak the beast was unleashed all around the world. Eliminating Covid-19 is now a chimera even if the toughest measures were taken for a long time and it would require identifying and killing any potential animal reservoir that by now must be many.

        If you have paid any attention the strategy that is being pushed the hardest is that of vaccination which doesn’t match exactly the ‘perfect market’ which instead would require a focus on treatment rather than prevention. If by chance it occurs that vaccines based on the Spike protein stop being protective there is still the possibility of using vaccines based on inactivated virus, probably less efficient but surely still protective against S-protein variants.

        1. Susan the other

          Is it possible to make a vaccination mistake here? Doing an end-run around our natural somewhat slower immunity processes by instead enhancing them with a vax that almost immediately stimulates a strong immune response but doesn’t last very long? And it’s somewhat like a drug fix. We need more and more. And at some point could this come to actually harm our long-term natural immunity processes?

          1. Yves Smith

            Please do not feed vaccine alarmism. There are reasons to question the mRNA vaccines but a shorter immunity period than you’d get in the wild is not one of them.

            1. Susan the other

              apologies. I’ll keep my misgivings to myself. But I’d really like to hear a good conversation on all of this. Can’t find one anywhere.

            2. Cuibono

              that has not been resolved to my knowledge. if i am wrong i would like to know about it
              admittedly the Ab response to the vaccine seems stronger than wild type infection. but immune systems are complex and much we dont know

              1. Yves Smith

                There is no reason to expect vaccine-conferred immunity to be worse than by getting Covid in the wild. Absolutely no one has suggested anything remotely like this, while they have pointed to other known unknowns, like to what degree will the vaccinated transmit Covid less (ie, could they still shed virus while their immune system is combatting Covid?). The open question is whether vaccine-conferred immunity will be better.

                1. Cuibono

                  Prof Eleanor Riley, Professor of Immunology and Infectious Disease, University of Edinburgh, said:

                  “The take home message from this study is that a primary infection with SARS-CoV-2 provides at least 94% protection against symptomatic reinfection for at least 5 months. This suggests that natural infection provides short term protection against Covid-19 that is very similar to that conferred by vaccination.

                  “Importantly, natural infection induces approx. 75% protection against asymptomatic reinfection, suggesting that people who have recovered from SARS-Cov-2 infection are much less likely to transmit the virus to others….”


      2. Geo

        “Rest assured, executives at private corporations have seen and considered the potential enormous profits in a recurring pandemic that Covid-19 represents.”

        The only way to stop a bad guy with a profit motive is a good guy with a profit motive?

        Hopefully the industries with a financial incentive for a functioning society are going to fight for one because you’re right that the vultures will feast on a sick and helpless one. And, it’s not like our government has any interest in our well-being. They’ve made that abundantly clear!

      3. Lee

        If a virus is passing quickly enough between hosts, mutations favoring increased virulence have a higher chance of persistence and replication, absent any fiendish scientists in secret laboratories.

      4. deplorado

        We have water meters per housing unit. Why not develop a wastewater infection meter that is plugged into the pipeline along with your water meter? It could be modular – with pluggable test units for various microorganisms or chemicals, smart – reporting to a grid, etc etc. Could be testing for forbidden substances etc etc
        This is a multibilion dollar idea. VC capital should indeed go for it.

    3. Geo

      I forwarded that article on to numerous people. Especially ones who’ve been talking about “back to normal” in the Spring. NC delivers lots of great news but that one is probably the most essential reading for our daily lives right now.

      Highly recommend it to anyone who hasn’t read it yet.

  4. Wukchumni

    “No More ‘America No. 1′” The Blue Roof

    Still, you can’t stop printing dollars. The overflowing dollar dilutes the dollar’s value and manages to preserve the export competitiveness of US products. The US, whose fiscal deficit is so severe that it is difficult to record in current currency units, prints dollars again. Even the term of quantitative easing is about to be eased by printing too much money. The same goes for Biden. The progressive government further expands its finances. It plans to spend 2,200 trillion won in eco-friendly industries alone. Where will the money come from? So you have to print more dollars. How long will that dollar hegemony continue?

    The Chinese economy also grew 4.9% in the third quarter. It seems to be escaping the corona aftermath. On the other hand, the US economy is still infected with the coronavirus. In fact, it is the degree to which artificial respiration is necessary. China, known as its origin, has paradoxically become the country that has been most affected by the coronavirus. This event may be the trigger to determine the new economic hegemony. A very harsh economic situation awaits the elderly, new president-elect.

    A worthy read of our situation from a Korean who lived in the USA, recommended.

    For me, the biggest take on January 6th was how did we appear to our peers?

    Not good, even our would-be revoltlutionists were a sad reflection, some with their see me-dig me tactical equipment (who needs that in order to watch a speech?) resembled suicide bombers in the middle east, but in our midst. Law enforcement couldn’t stop them, nor could the protagonists figure out what to do with the prize once obtained. There looked to be no option other than failure all around January 6th for all concerned.

    Digital money doesn’t allow for hyperinflation from what I can discern, and hyperinflation takes awhile for a country to bleed out, and what I see coming is more of a surgical strike on the almighty buck, which would really put paid to our empire in that everybody would still be ‘stuff rich’ but stoney broke. The housing bubble to come will astound you, in the scramble to get rid of $’s.

    It would be an event that would make you forget Default-Day on Jan 6th, as just a minor step on the road to committing $eppuku.

    When the Dollar comes a cropper the winners will be exporters, foodstuffs in particular. Why would you want to sell a naval orange to Americans for $47 when you could get 4 Yuan exporting it to China?

    1. D. Fuller

      Digital currency has value precisely because it is valued in?

      Currencies such as the dollar. Digital currency increases in value through inflation of said currencies. The value of digital currency being precisely predicated on… fiat money. Paper. And a certain amount of hopium. Digital currency is more “tulips”.

      Digital currency, limited in replication? Can be and is hoarded. Like gold. Those who have the gold? Make for masters who write the rules.

      1. Wukchumni

        Invisibility is digital currency’s cloaking device, and quite effective in that regard. Heck, if a learned chimp was in charge of the mouse clique in doling out dough re mi, who would know?

        Why is a limited replication cryptocurrency initially valued @ around $10 a decade ago, now fetching $30k?

        It’s the only possible variant of digital hyperinflation i’m aware of, albeit Bizarro World rules where you don’t get wiped out financially-just the opposite.

        1. Yves Smith

          No, that it not true either. Most people hold their crypto in a wallet. The IRS has been compelling wallet-owners like Coinbase to disclose the identity of their clients. If you don’ use a wallet, you run the risk of losing all your holdings if your hard disk dies or your device is lost or stolen.

          And the blockchain records all transactions. Those are not immune to being decoded either.

          1. Wukchumni

            I’m blissfully unaware of numismatrix, although it has been fun to watch the machinations go through their paces.

            Have you ever given thought to it being a clever drag net that draws illicit money in on the basis of never ending Martingales, when it was all run by the Feds?

              1. Wukchumni

                Think of it as more of a way to keep the proles on the straight & narrow in investing in something Alt-A, but in the end just another bunch of of 0’s & 1’s.

                If cryptocurrency didn’t exist, where would the money have gone traditionally in times of uncertainty such as now?

          2. ocop

            On your last point, Coinbase is providing (being paid to provide?) training to various three letter agencies on how to pick apart blockchain transaction records for tax and criminal investigations.

        2. D. Fuller

          Anything electronic, considered compromised. Solarwinds, e-voting, etc. Wallets are only as good as the security provided. And trust in the people running them.

          Yves provided a nice link awhile back – my apologies as I do not have it – showing how a very few controlled cryptocurrencies. They are the movers and shakers who benefit from the cryptocurrency craze. Their interests are what matters. Any small fish who benefit – few as they are due to the limited nature of cryptocurrency – is incidental.

          Why are cryptocurrencies, whose sole value rests on conversion to fiat currencies – so valued? Inflation and hopium. Much like tulips.

          Scarce supplies of raw materials leads to greater control as the few come to control those scarce supplies. Gold for example. Or, as the battery industry more recently has shown… rare earth metals. Hoarders are rewarded.

          Scarcity of stores of value leads to greater control of the few over the many. Those that hoarded, are the winners. Since there is only so much to go around? The majority become the losers.

          The issues with cryptocurrency:

          1. Limited supply. Which restricts wealth distribution and results in concentration of wealth over time.

          2. Electronic system. There is no possible way to guarantee against compromise unless one has perfect knowledge of the future out to forever.

          3. The sole value of cryptocurrencies rests on exchange into fiat money. This alone illustrates how cryptocurrencies are WORTHLESS, in all reality. Sustained by financial mysticism. Cryptocurrencies are gimmicks.

          4. The limited supply can not possibly satisfy the size of the world economy. See 6. below about how cryptocurrencies can be infinite in supply.

          5. Cryptocurrencies are privatization of the money supply. The US had a little experiment before establishing a national currency. Each State issued their own currencies. It failed spectacularly.

          6. Cryptocurrencies are not limited in supply. Anyone with sufficient technological knowledge can create their own cryptocurrency. See 5. above regarding States printing their own money. The only impediment is acceptance.

          Imagine walking into GrocerX with your BitGrocer Coin and no GrocerX Coin. Just exchange it, only to find out that your BitGrocer Coin has been devalued by 10% in the last hour. Mind you that GrocerX has sufficient economic clout to enforce the use of GrocerX Coin. Having eliminated all local competition. Mom-and-Pop Coin having become worthless has mom & pop shops are no longer a significant factor in your local market.

          Welcome to your cryptocurrency future. Being at the mercy of every private issuer of cryptocurrency with significant economic resources. Cryptocurrency wars soon follow.

          One could write fiction about private armies or national armies being deployed to foreign lands to enforce BitCoin supremacy over foreign markets.

          Just a repeat of a historic mistake made prior to 1784. Yet again. People who fail to learn history? Doomed to repeat it. This time it will be different. It never is.

          Tulips. Look up the economic reference.

          Oh, due to cryptocurrency – at least of one type (until all the others are “printed”)? There will never be enough to go around. Producing monetary scarcity for the majority and digital wealth for the hoarding minority.

          Money is a medium of exchange. Hoarding money from circulation is detrimental to all. Perhaps the greatest mistake is substituting money for actual real wealth. Much like people treat houses, not as a home… but as a means of wealth representation to be bought, traded and sold. A home is priceless. Houses as wealth to be bought and traded?

          Hell, houses can be considered akin to cryptocurrency. We can have houses as currency. There are only so.many. They to must be “mined” (built).

          Cryptocurrency is but one logical step in absurdity of modern Capitalism. A worthless product over-hyped and sold to the masses.

          1. Geo

            “One could write fiction about private armies or national armies being deployed to foreign lands to enforce BitCoin supremacy over foreign markets.”

            If I was smart enough I totally would! Great concept for a sci-fi!

          2. Wukchumni

            Money is a medium of exchange. Hoarding money from circulation is detrimental to all.

            Coins come in all conditions from ‘fair’ (which means awful) to uncirculated (new) and the most valuable ones are those that were hoarded and never used, sometimes the price differential in value on a 20th century American coin can go from being worth a few bucks in retched grade to being worth $10k for a perfect example.

            I did a lot of time travel in my day (not me-the aged round metal discs that is) and looking for perfect or something close to it was where the money was, but I always like well worn examples, take a Roman Denarius from 150 AD with 7 file marks cut into the planchet, which means at least 6 others also wanted to be sure it was made out of silver, and not merely silver-washed copper. The silent stories they held of transactions of eons ago.

          3. Mikel

            In short, the biggest issue is how people perceive the purpose of currencies.
            Crypto lovers seem to think the reason for a currency is a way to store personal wealth, while soveriegn currencies are issued as a way to run an economy to support billions of people.

          4. Neonomad

            “The Unincorporated Man” by Dani Kollin and Eytan Kollin touches lightly on the subject.
            Galt/Musk type character with terminal illness uses his companies wealth and resources to freeze himself and arrive in a future that can cure him.
            Ends up in a quasi libertarian/corporatist fantasy, hilarity ensues.
            Main part is that every individual is “incorporated” and sells off shares thereof, which are used to claim the individuals earnings/profits.

            1. D. Fuller

              Thanks for the reminder. I enjoyed the first book. Haven’t bothered with the sequel.

              So that is what my subconscious was using to influence the post.

              Though, in the books, no wars were fought to enforce monetary supremacy of digital currencies over another. Relegated to the usual financial markets.

              For utopial anarchist – read “Libertarian” – fiction, it wasn’t a bad read. I consider it more, Libertarian Man rebelling against a future version of Libertarian Society.

          5. Grateful Dude

            What about the price paid in CPU cycles, ie energy and processing power, for every coin? Isn’t that why they have any value at all: they’re hard and expensive to make and there’s no guarantee that the effort will pay off (yes/no?) – IIRC there a competition for computing new coins?

      2. dftbs

        “Hopium”, good stuff! The Fed may have destroyed American’s purchasing power in order to save American assets; but I don’t think digital currencies are the salve.

        I always think how terribly ironic it would be to be a bitcoin holder if bitcoin went to one million dollars. At which point you will have a worthless million dollars and a worthless bitcoin. I share the sentiment often voiced by our hosts here at NC, bitcoin are prosecution futures.

        I am reminded of what Stalin once said when he was informed that the Vatican disapproved of some initiative of his, “how many divisions does the pope have?” With regard to digital currencies, how many lawyers does bitcoin have?

    2. Fireship

      You missed the most salient point:

      “[The United States] cannot even manage its presidential election, the nation’s biggest event. When things get out of control, it summons the police to fire at its citizens, like they might do in Zimbabwe. The president denies the result of the election; social trust is at rock bottom. The bureaucracy cannot even set a valid deadline for the mail-in ballots, waiting helplessly instead for the court’s directives. Behind the proliferation of fake news is the illiteracy rate that is several times higher than Korea’s. One third of the population lacks proper health insurance as they succumb to the new virus. A country with the most advanced financial system in the world cannot manufacture enough test kits, PPEs, or even simple masks. Unable to handle the rush of patients, it had to import ventilators from Russia.”

      Being able to care about the value of the dollar is a luxury for most Americans now. They are literally dying.

      1. Wukchumni

        The almighty buck is the only thing left in our empire that hasn’t been cheapened, it underpins everything.

        1. Wukchumni


          Another cheapened item is overhead again, that makes 5 out of the last 8 days of F-35 flyovers. Something’s up.

          1. CallMeTeach

            I agree. I love not terribly far from DAFB, and I’ve been hearing more planes overhead. Something is up.

            1. Wukchumni

              An odd wrinkle to today’s F-35 sorties in that there have been 3 of them each spaced an hour out. That’s never happened before…

        2. Fireship

          How very American.

          “Only when the last tree has been cut down, the last fish been caught, and the last stream poisoned, will we realize we cannot eat money.”

          ― Cree Indian Prophecy

    3. TMoney

      The thing about the reserve currency, is that other countries have to believe the new alternative is better than the old. USD only really took the mantle from GBP after WW2. WW1-WW2 was sort of a transition period**. Most other countries don’t trust China with their money more than the USA (yet). Hell looking at the money flows out of China, most Chinese aren’t convinced their currency is ready for prime time.

      Fortunes will be lost and made if and when such a transistion does happen.

      ** Others argue for after WW1 with the Brits deluding themselves until WW2.

      1. D. Fuller

        Perhaps the GBP was removed as a de facto reserve currency in 1956 Suez Crisis when The US threatened to flood markets with GBP, devaluing the GBP.

        Also, convincing the Saudis to only trade oil in dollars.

        1956 Suez crisis was the nail in the coffin.

      2. DFTBS

        I’d go a step further and say that the Chinese are aggressively trying to forestall the dethronement of the dollar. Had they wanted to be the “reserve currency” and enjoy the “benefits” of that status they could’ve done some some years earlier.

        The Chinese understand the pitfalls of the financialization that “reserve currency” status brought the US. It manifests itself benignly in statistics like trade (im)balances, but shows its true face in other statistics like American life expectancy, and poverty. This dynamic has only accelerated over the past decade, as the US has fought tooth, nail, sanction and bomb (literally) to defend the coercive power they see the dollar bestowing upon them. In that time the average Chinese citizen has seen material benefits which are undeniable, and have no historic parallel.

        Finally, much like John McCain once quipped that Russia was a gas station w/nukes; the Chinese see the US as an abandoned strip mall with nukes. As much as they have warmed up to our idea of great power competition; they can’t have the North American continent collapse into a patchwork of evangelical and corporate-liberal caliphates slinging WMDs at each other. Better to take these green pieces of paper, and send the Muricans their big screen Teevees and toilet paper. After all, a 70 inch tv is $650; but peace is priceless.

        1. Susan the other

          It was encouraging to read in the above Links “How Does International Capital Flow.” And the discussion about how some sovereign currency has to take the responsibility to run a deficit so trade is encouraged. The “encouraging” thing, above all the boilerplate, was that it is almost a given at this point in time that the race to the bottom doesn’t work except to bring everything down. Any given country will attract foreign finance/investment (i.e. the savings of other countries with surpluses) if that receiving country has a stable society, a well run and stable nation. So there it is. Direct sovereign spending to improve society has the benefit of attracting foreign investment. I’d say that applies to environmental spending as well. We should start calling environmental spending “infrastructure”, no? This is encouraging news for “capital” because if it is employed properly what goes around comes around. I’m thinking the amount of “money” needed to achieve full capital-lift-off is more than anyone has yet imagined. Just times 8 billion people by some factor of consumption (as in huge) and we can see the actual budget we must deal with to be a capitalist-sustainable world. To continue to withhold spending is not cautious or prudent in the least. It is just about the dumbest thing anyone ever considered.

    4. tegnost

      “For me, the biggest take on January 6th was how did we appear to our peers?”
      well…mexico is probably thinking more seriously about pitching in on that wall…

      “Law enforcement couldn’t stop them, nor could the protagonists figure out what to do with the prize once obtained”

      Law enforcement definitely could have stopped them. Are there no fusion centers in dc? No surveillance cams? I doubt that most thought they would even get in, and see the clownish behavior once there as proof of that.

      1. Wukchumni

        well…mexico is probably thinking more seriously about pitching in on that wall…

        Remember the Alamo, revisited

        Its easy to read into things, but every last man died @ the Alamo back in the days of Davy Crocket & Jim Bowie, and why did Trump go there yesterday? Seems like a suicide note.

        As if he’d ever surrender to the Mexicans, metaphorically?

        “The Alamo” is in San Antonio, Texas, but he passed through the town Alamo, Texas. However… the town says it had not been contacted by the White House. I wonder if Trump and/or his team is aimed for a “Remember the Alamo” moment, but instead created another Four Seasons Landscaping business moment.

        If there is a mole in the WH communications throwing spanners into the works, I like their style.

        Dick Tuck would approve.

    5. Mikel

      It matters ZERO what form a currency takes. It will not solve the problems that are caused by HOW money is spent and allocated. It wil not address the fact that budgets are about priorities.
      It’s value is a political decision.
      Changing the form of a currency always seems to me a search for more creating alleged value through scarcity – people thinking the only value in society is in having what others don’t have – as a way to achieve real or perceived power.

    6. .Tom

      Are you describing something akin to a run on the bank, Wukchumni? Iiuc, that’s when depositors in a given bank race against each other to withdraw whatever the bank has on hand before it runs out. The recent examples such as Northern Rock involve people crowding bank branches to convert their deposits into cash.

      If an analogous dynamic could happen for “the dollar” overall (whatever that means), in which all dollar deposits and investments combined are analogous to the bank on which there is a run, then it needs more than a crisis of confidence: it needs something to convert to. What would that be?

      I remember Yves explaining that the dollar’s reserve status depends on the USA sustaining a current account deficit as it has since the early 80s(?). Other large economies aren’t ready to do that for political reasons.

      And it can’t be crypto since it lacks a supervising authority to create more of it as needed.

      1. Wukchumni

        Nothing to do with bank runs, more like the world sprinting from the $

        Currencies used to be like sports teams when there were more of them, and if Italy had a bad harvest or its manufacturing was down it would be reflected in the value of Lira. We came upon being the world reserve currency as really the only country of size intact after WW2 and deserved the honor then, but what have you done lately for us Dollar?

    7. Procopius

      As long as the dollar is the world’s reserve currency, all other nations will need dollars, so will continue to sell us stuff. They send us real, usable things, we send them dollars or debits (assets) in electronic accounts. Also, the public debt is the nations wealth. If we reduce the public debt (“national debt”) then commerce has less money to use in their transactions. So we’re stuck. We can only end the trade deficit if we give up our privileged position. The Chinese currently want to maintain a trade surplus, as does Germany, and Japan, and Korea. That means they have to export more than they import and that means they have to maintain a stock of dollars.

      Nothing has “Intrinsic Value.” Gold is only valuable because you can exchange it for currency, in our case dollars. Try to take some gold to your feed store and buy a sack of oats with it. Lots of luck. Or buy a box of ammo. Not gonna happen. Try paying your taxes with it. Ha ha. Same with any other commodity. They are only valuable because we can exchange them for dollars. Dollars have value because we can buy stuff with them and pay taxes. See Brad DeLong, “Fictitious” Wealth and Ludwig von Mises

  5. floyd

    >Rural vaccination hesitancy

    I’ve heard campfire stories how great some insurance coverage and healthcare can be for those working in the government and large global corporations. But for many outside of NYC, LA, San Fran the coverage and healthcare experience is not even close – I dare say it can even be predatory. I can understand the hesitation in a world where a facility access fee or some other extraneous charge or service might accompany a vaccination (or the fear of it). And if there are any complications like the need for an epi pen it shouldn’t be a surprise that a lot of people in rural America might not be excited to run out and get a jab at their local monopoly.

    1. jr

      Years ago while managing a moving company down South I ran into that amongst the African-American workers we had with us. I would mention going to the doctor and it would be greeted with scorn or head shakes. One of the guys explained that they had all been “ripped off” by the doctors in their neighborhoods and they didn’t trust any of them. This was in the face of serious medical situations.

      1. James Simpson

        Ripped off? By a doctor? I don’t understand how that could happen. A General Practitioner, like all NHS medical staff, is paid out of public funds, not directly by patients, as has been the case since 1948. Oh… you live in the USA. Poor you – and you’ve got Biden dead set against any substantial change.

          1. Mark Gisleson

            I guess that point would be that like your African Americans, I would go to great lengths to avoid seeing a doctor as my last experience was a thorough and ongoing rip-off. I needed an antibiotic but they insisted on an MRI and did very deceptive split-billing on the costs in an effort to get me to do the MRI again because the first results were inconclusive.

            By then the Cipro (all $17 worth of it) had fixed the problem but it took $2500 of my money (despite Obamacare) to get that Cipro.

            I think Mr Simpson’s sarcasm is warranted.

    2. D. Fuller

      We had to move my sister from Texas to another State, or she would have died. She has MS. Under Texas Medicaid rules, she would have never qualified for Medicaid in time. Okay, NEVER. She was working at the time and employer related health insurance qualification was still a ways off.

      By the time we moved her, she was experiencing early symptoms of her immune system attacking her own body (not related to MS). Eventually, she was unable to walk due to the muscle loss caused by her own immune system attacking her muscles.

      Fortunately, she has recovered after a benign tumor was removed. Her immune system over-reacted to the tissue.

      Left in Texas, her death was all but guaranteed through lack of early and necessary access to health care. Moving her to another State allowed her access to State health care that saved her life.

      She has MS. Has worked her entire life. Paid her taxes and dues. Only to be shown that one part of the system indicates that she is not worth life in society. At least, not in Texas.

    3. Medbh

      There were already stories of that predation related to “free” covid testing. Even people with supposedly good health insurance have personal experience with inaccurate or unexpected medical bills.

  6. fresno dan

    McConnell is said to be pleased about impeachment, believing it will be easier to purge Trump from the G.O.P. NYT
    (I don’t actually have access to the NYT) When the two thousand dollar check couldn’t get past the GOP right before the election, it seemed to me the repubs were more than willing to dump Trump. But to a person interested in facts, it is hard for me after the NYT reporting on Russiagate to take any reporting, especially regarding McConnell’s innermost strategy, seriously from the NYT. And did Trump call Pence a p*ssy to his face? Of course, I find things on Youtube indisputably said by Trump amazing, so it could be true. But it just seems to me that the animus the NYT has toward Trump makes their reporting unreliable. I don’t mind anti Trump reporting – I just want it to be based in reality as opposed to wish fulfillment…
    Of course, impeaching and convicting for impeachment are two different things as well. I think the sturm und drang of impeachment helps Trump more than hinders him – but after 4 years of irrationality, why should the media let the profitable craziness end now?

    1. Winston Smith

      Just follow the money….big donors have signaled that they will not give money to the republicans until they get rid of Trump. That’s all there is to it-almost. Trump screwed McConnell and he is a vindictive bxxxxxx.

      1. Pat

        McDonnell is going to have to decide which threat is longer lasting.

        I have spent years hearing that someone will never be backed by the donors, or the voters. And don’t forget we cannot accept donations from X from politicians. All to have that everything forgotten and dismissed in no time. Just as I have no doubts that if Deutsche Bank thinks they can make money by backing Trump and/or Kushner in a matter of months they will do it, same with all the corporations demanding their money back or swearing to lose some politicians numbers, if they hold power.

        McConnell knows the real threat is the midterms. He also knows that it is the Democrats to lose, IF his people do not alienate the base. So the perhaps the real question is how many Republican voters will react. If he and his Republicans will lose if they do throw Trump out, or if they don’t.

        Unlike Democrats, Republicans have no problem replacing their elected officials.

        Which is the longer term threat?

    2. Carolinian

      I take everything in the NYT about Trump with a pinch of salt. Doubtless McConnell does want to get back to the grifting without all the tweeting but I doubt that the Repub base are quite so willing to go along. The Morning Consult headline above should say Only 2 out of 5 Agree with Trump’s Social Media Suspension.

      The way for the establishment to defeat Trump is to ignore him. They seem incapable of doing this. He thrives on all publicity–good or bad.

  7. Polar Donkey

    Two vaccine related things that scare people- Last week, an important doctor at a local hospital gave speech to nurses and staff. He recommended people get the vaccine, but noted if you are a younger woman still wanting to have children you probably shouldn’t. The second was a nurse I know got her second vaccine shot and got really sick for 18 hours. She said getting sick from the vaccine was worth the price since she has seen what Covid does to people. While both these people, the doctor and the nurse, support vaccination, you can see how this can put doubt in peoples’ minds. It will be a tough sell to get 80%+ of population to get the vaccine.

    1. Arizona Slim

      One of my neighbor-friends shared the tale of the last time she got a flu shot. It was right before Obama’s second inauguration, and she and her ex-husband were planning to attend. So, she decided to take the shot as a precaution.

      In her words, she got sick as [the word rhymes with “firetruck”].

      That was the last time she ever got a flu shot, and she is darned if she’ll ever get the COVID vaccine. BTW, she is a well educated woman under 40. Very much a part of the PMC too.

      1. tegnost

        The phase 3 trials are being done currently on the general population that is being vaccinated now. I’d say that if you’re gung ho on science and evidence then get the vaccine and come back and tell us how it was for you, but that would be anecdote…

      2. juno mas

        Az Slim, this is the sort of anecdotal impression that gets Comments placed into the Corner. Some people do get sick in proximity (time) to taking a flu shot; but there is no way of knowing what is the true causal agent. Maybe the syringe was contaminated. It’s been said a thousand times: the flu shot is an annually formulated, non-active, vaccine that saves thousands of lives.

        1. tegnost

          begging the pardon of our hosts, I replied to a reply to slims comment, the comment I replied to and my comment were yanked, so apparently our hosts did not object to slims comment.

        2. Harold

          The flu shot is only 40 or 50 % effective. I got the flu two years in a row about a week after having the shot. Stopped getting it for a while. But now I get the stronger one for older people. But even if not 100% effective the flu shot makes a big difference in public health, I understand. I do feel “hesitant “ about this new vaccine but will probably get it.

  8. The Rev Kev

    “What Was the Point of Fortress D.C.?”

    I can see where Washington is going wrong. Too many people can mingle themselves between buildings like the White House, the Capital Building, the Supreme Court, the FBI headquarters, Foggy Bottom, etc. so there will always be vulnerabilities. Add to that the National Mall which has been historically a site of protest and it is impossible to fully control. So inspired by something that Washington did in the past and after checking a satellite map of Washington DC, I have a solution. You declare a security zone from K Street down to the Anacostia River and you surround it with a great, big, wonderful wall. At each entrance to the wall you would have people having to use passes to get into that zone and a security clearance would count as one. Remember, over five million Americans have security clearances so many of them could live in that zone in taxpayer-subsided accommodation taken over from former occupants. And just to tie a bow on the whole project, you could give it a name inspired by a modern buzzword. Hey, how about the Green Zone?

    1. polecat

      Why not cut to the chase and forget the passes altogether!.. Just install ‘Pods’ along all routs, forcing any rebels to wind their way through a course of destrution as they vie for the CAPiTol?

      A story is just a story …. but reality can indeed rhyme.

  9. ArkansasAngie

    Per — Nearly 2 in 5 Say Social Media Companies’ Decisions to Temporarily Suspend Trump’s Account Are ‘Exactly Right’.

    Thank goodness it’s less than 50%

    Kinda like the number of healthcare workers who “want” the shot.

    1. WJ

      Probably More Accurate Alternate Headline:

      More than 3 in 5 See Problems in Social Media Companies’ Decisions to Temporarily Suspend Trump’s Account

      Editors know their Edward Bernays

  10. Wukchumni

    {adjusts Reynolds Wrap toque to a rakish angle and admits to knowing nothing about technology, we’re talking bupkis-i’m not wired that way}

    Presumably somebody turned on the internet initially, could somebody turn it off now?

    1. Phillip Allen

      Oh, yes. Someone can. Search “internet kill switch”. Here’s a CNET article from July 10, 2012 about Obama’s executive order:

  11. stefan

    As a veteran of the Vietnam War I have often paused to contemplate how my military experience affected me over the course of my life.

    But it was only the other day, after reading Stoller’s account of Ashli Babbitt, the woman who was shot at the US Capitol on Jan. 6, that it dawned on me that our nation’s 20-year, continual, overwrought military aggression around the world since 9/11 has finally driven us insane, and is one deep-seated cause of the crazy irrationality that passes for righteousness these days.

    btw, the Michael Pettis thread today is very good.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Babbitt was on 8 deployments. She’s 8 Pete Buttigieg’s at least, and she did more than drive officers around on base. Its mind boggling. And in case it’s unclear, she was a woman. The US military has its own #metoo crisis. Nothing might have happened to her, but living in that world did.

      This is almost 20 years of repeated deployments. When we consider the Vietnam suicides, what is coming won’t be pretty. It’s all so the Chinese can slaughter these soldiers if things ever get hot, cut off from the world. Repeated head trauma.

        1. Kurtismayfield

          Young white male, with a gun, “holding back the horde”.


          Young white female, no gun, being part of the horde

          Her death doesn’t for the narrative if the Right.

          1. Wukchumni

            Young unarmed white female gets within 100 feet of Pelosi while storming the Capitol, dies in a hail of bullet.

          2. GF

            Didn’t she have to volunteer for the tours? Maybe every military person who wants a second/third/fourth tour into a war zone should get a complete mental exam first. Might result in fewer suicides later.

            1. NotTimothyGeithner

              If we did that, we would be out of soldiers. Thats the point. Its not the grunts. The problem starts at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and Congress.

      1. Rod

        to me, another Veteran, this is very concerning on many levels…
        You take the simple Oath, with hand upraised. Then you get the experience.
        There may be some cognitive dissonance.
        Then you turn back the gear and ETS.
        The Oath and maybe the dissonance go home with you.
        Veterans have been hoisted to hero status in American society, in support of forever wars in third world countries.
        7 days ago Veterans were all over the Capital
        There may now be some civilian cognitive dissonance.
        What happens in country whose Veterans no longer perceive the Government that trained and deployed them as legitimate?
        Here is one such(note crowd size and actions to and fro):

  12. The Rev Kev

    “McConnell is said to be pleased about impeachment, believing it will be easier to purge Trump from the G.O.P.”

    The New York Time could also say that McConnell wants a second career as a human cannon ball but that does not mean that it is necessarily true. Now I am only an amateur observer of American politics here but McConnell would have to be nuts to agree to impeachment. Trump is gone in a coupla days time so what is the point? Trump isn’t even in Washington anymore putting paid to Democrat fantasies of him being frogmarched out of the White House. So let me spin you a tale.

    If McConnell fights this, then next week the Republican will be united in the idea of Democratic shenanigans in the last of Trump’s 208 weeks of his Presidency. Yes, he was a horrible President but he was still a Republican President and that will count. In the Venn diagram of Republicans who support the Republican Party, those who support Trump and those who support both, all will be united in this idea.

    Now suppose McConnell folds. Then next week you will have a civil war in the Republican movement with the Democrats looking on in glee. Millions of Republican voters will feel betrayed by their party who refused to back a Republican President in his last days. There could be a schism in the party with many pulling all support and votes from any official Republican candidate. In essence, McConnell would be doing the Democrat’s dirty work for them with absolutely no upside except a feel good moment.

    And as far as Mike pence dumping a sitting President, that would be even worse. He would become a historical laughing stock as well as becoming a pariah. Why? The shortest term ever to have been served as a US President was William Henry Harrison and that was way back in 1841. His term was only 31 days long because the sob actually died in office. So consider this. Pence removes Trump and as Vice-President, is immediately sworn in as the President of the United States – for all of about five days. Does anybody really think that Pence wants to go down in history as the “Five Day President”? Comedians would have a field day and he would never, ever live it down. Nor would the Republicans.

    1. vlade

      The point of impeaching Trump is that it stops him from ever running for any office again. No 2024 campaign, no sireee.

      Which clears the field for Republicans, and Cruz nor Howley are likely to out-Trump Trump, they are just wanna-bes.

      Moreover, it (now) appears that at least some of the Trump voters are disgusted enough with Trump to stay at home. It’s highly unlikely that a core of Trump as seen a week ago could get enough votes to win the power. To win the power, you always need _some_ alliance, and Trumpers got themselves isolated.

      Which opens the door for the likes of Tom Cotton, Trump w/o his loose mouth, but anyone who ends as a top dog there will have to to build his alliance from a different place than Trump cultists (even though he will take them back to the fold, eventually. A vote is a vote.).

      1. juno mas

        The point of impeaching Trump is NOT to directly keep him out of future public office. The point of impeachment is to create an indictment that details his bad behavior which the Senate will decide whether he is guilty of “high crimes” by a two-thirds vote (67). Only if convicted can he be considered for banishment from holding political office again. That “banishment” vote is separate and only requires a majority vote (51)

    2. Bruno

      However, under the 25th Pence would merely be “acting” President and would get none of the enormous post-presidential emoluments and perks to which Trumpe-l’oeil will absolutely be entitled no matter what. But if the orange nullity is *convicted* after impeachment but before Jan. 20, Pence would be entitled to the same full post-presidential eminence as fellow gangsters Bush, Clinton, Obama, and Trumpe-l’oeil.

      1. The Rev Kev

        I am pretty sure that he would be a full President. You only have an acting President as a temporary measure but if Trump is gone, Pence owns it all including the nuclear football.

      2. Wukchumni

        There’s a 6,500 sq foot mansion hidden away on private property surrounded by Sequoia NP, and a few summers ago after the fact, I was told Laura Bush & a retinue of friends had rented it out for a spell, and what really got me was that 15 secret service officers accompanied her group.

        Being an ex-President or Flotus elevates you to our highest form of royalty.

    3. Glen

      I think a much better way to interpret McConnell’s actions is that the elites have dumped Trump. They have gotten together and banned him from Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc. They have taken a golf tournament away from him (which supposedly has pissed Trump off the most). His bank has dumped him. NYC is working to dump him.

      So it’s better to think of this as the elites beginning to implement Biden’s stated ruling policy: Nothing will fundamentally change.

      Those in the Republican party which have come out in opposition to Trump are those who are supported by Wall St and the MIC. They will work together with Biden to ensure that Wall St and the billionaires remain in charge.

  13. Robert Gray

    re: House passes bill calling on Pence to remove Trump The Hill

    from the article:

    > The House on Tuesday passed legislation calling on Vice President Pence …
    > Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) crafted the resolution …

    Question: Is a House resolution really legislation? Isn’t a resolution what they do to proclaim August 11th as National Cheerios Day and things like that?

    1. caucus99percenter

      You’d be surprised at what a mere resolution can do. A congressional resolution can, for example, purportedly even annex another sovereign country whose people are dead-set against being annexed. (Hawaiian sovereignty activists argue to this day that in the absence of a duly ratified treaty, Hawaii is not legally part of the U.S. and U.S. rule there amounts to belligerent occupation.)

  14. lyman alpha blob

    RE: the Capitol riots

    It’s difficult for me to see this as anything other than farce really. Yes there was some violence, but as far as violent mobs go, this was relatively tame. I saw no heads on pikes in the aftermath.

    The thing I find striking is the photos of all the lawmakers cowering behind benches in fear for their lives juxtaposed against rioters for the most part smiling and taking selfies once they got inside the building. Had this been a couple decades ago it would be more understandable, but I’d imagine most if not all had blackberries or iphones or whatever where they could see what was happening outside their chamber in real time, and it didn’t occur to any of them, not a one, to go out and face the crowd. I’m not necessarily saying that I or most people would have, and it’s also possible that security wouldn’t allow them to exit the chambers if they wanted to.

    All I do know is there are no Desmond Tutu types in the US Congress with the courage and bravery to face down a truly murderous mob, bringing calm and an appeal to reason with the hope for a truly lasting peace.

    Instead I see AOC(!) calling for massive censorship, and the possibility of new draconian laws being run up the flagpole, as if the rioters couldn’t be prosecuted using existing law because DC lives matter more than others.

    I fear there will be no self reflection as to what brought us to this point, only measures taken to provide security for the elite few at the expense of freedom for the many.

    Our leadership has been tried and once again been found sorely lacking.

    1. Yves Smith

      If you watch the news, the tone has shifted from the notion that the rioters damaged property to them presenting a threat of violence. I know some who are not fragile flowers who are increasingly coming to that view, that there was a small but motivated group that wanted to harm at least Pence and Pelosi, and also some evidence (not just zip tie guy, apparently others had handcuffs, there was a truck found with a lot of weapons close to the site).ed t

      But even though I think this thesis has some merit, I agree depicting them as a serious threat is way ahead of evidence. The IRA back in their bombing heyday demonstrated that they were a real physical danger. Not clear yet re these guys. Sadly the press and pundits wetting their panties will be a great recruiting tool.

      1. km

        What did these wannabe Rambos do when they broke into the Capitol and found that their intended targets weren’t standing around, slack-jawed and patiently waiting to be taken prisoner? Did the ‘insurrectionists” immediately switch to Plan B?

        Hell, they didn’t even make a last determined stand, daring the cops and National Guard to take a side or root them out as the nation watched. Instead, they milled around, engaged in some japery and petty vandalism, stole a few mementos, then ambled away.

        Reminds me of the boneheaded plans to kidnap and/or execute the Governor of Michigan a few months back. Without asking how many of these folks were FBI informants, any plan that requires the Governor of Michigan to answer her own door is destined to fail.

        Viet Cong, Houthis, Taliban, Donetsk militias, Hezbullah, these guys weren’t. The joke is that they needed a US Embassy to organize the insurrection for them. Failing that, they didn’t know what to do.

      2. Carolinian

        Perhaps they should have faced the crowd but with police protection. Where was that protection BTW? I’d say that’s the big question in all this.

        1. Wukchumni

          I remember watching the Rodney King Riot and it was as if the coppers had been raptured @ one point, all of the sudden they split and frolic, flames & ‘clearance sales’ continued until the National Guard came calling.

          L.A. Disappearados


          There was nary a Caucasian rioting or looting 30 years ago, and it was all white people last week in Humordor.

          1. Carolinian

            nary a Caucasian

            My former cotton mill town has some mostly white mill villages that are more run down than the poorer black neighborhoods. The country is in a class war that the elites pretend to be a race war. There’s still plenty of racism of course but the more respectable folk just substitute their own prejudices which are still prejudices, wherever targeted. In the South these days overt racism is much less of a thing. Poor blacks and whites are not competing for low skill manufacturing jobs that no longer exist.

          2. lyman alpha blob

            I remember more recently watching the Michael Brown verdict, or I should say the verdict on the cop who killed him whose name escapes me at the moment. There were literally thousands of law enforcement officers, local state and even some federal IIRC who had come from hundreds of miles around to keep the peace in case the cop wasn’t convicted and things got out of hand. The cop wasn’t convicted and things didn’t get out of hand right away, despite the fact that the media had been predicting potential riots for days.

            Then after a half hour or so, a few young men wearing black and hiding their faces approached a police vehicle. Nothing happened. Then they started jumping on the vehicle, rocking it, and smashing it. I don’t recall exactly if they also set the vehicle itself on fire too, but the whole city went up shortly after.

            You might wonder how with thousands of cops around, these black bloc types managed to find the one police cruiser that had just been seemingly abandoned, and once they approached it, nobody among the ubiquitous law enforcement made the least effort to try to stop them. I have been wondering that myself for years now.

            If the media is predicting a riot, well it just wouldn’t do to have everybody go home peacefully now would it? That would make our corporate media look pretty silly.

      3. ChiGal in Carolina

        I too have evolved from my earlier take on them as Cosplay in the Capitol. The degree of violence and the intention of committing violence (however incompetent they may be) I think do qualify some of these groups as domestic terrorists. That said, this is a small minority who are infiltrating Trump supporters, most of whom whatever they may be are NOT terrorists.

        A constructive response on the part of the Dems and their mouthpieces in the MSM would be peeling the radicals off from the vast bulk of Trump supporters, not tarring the many with the sins of the few. And enacting universal benefits based on the shared needs of the 80%, “Trumpers” or not.

        Trump himself is another matter: since in his monumental ignorance and narcissism he relishes the opportunity to act as a figurehead for these domestic terrorists, he should absolutely be deplatformed, isolated, and stripped of assets insofar as it is legal and feasible, all of which are the sorts of things (plus assassination which I am not endorsing ;-) that happen to the leaders of groups like Al Quaeda and Isis.

        The intent matters; isn’t arguing from consequences–because only five people are dead, they aren’t real terrorists–a kind of logical fallacy?

    2. Laputan

      While this wasn’t exactly the Chilean army, I saw a lot worse than just smiling and taking selfies. A police officer was beaten to death, after all. And if an MoC like AOC or Pelosi – you know, those who had zipties with their names on them – tried to talk down the mob, it would have been a disaster.

      To your point about self reflection, we’re eventually going to have to attribute agency to people and not lazily assign everything wrong committed to elites. These were unhinged conspiracy theorists with the same access to information as the rest of us. Which is probably the real tragedy here, that this gives the elect no cause to consider.

      1. lyman alpha blob

        Of course those who committed violence must be held responsible. You can’t just go around whacking people with flagpoles. As to the officer who was allegedly beaten to death, if you have evidence of that, I would love to see it. I’m not disputing that the man died, but all the accounts I have seen say he returned to his office, collapsed, was taken to the hospital, and later died. That he was beaten with a fire extinguisher seems to be only the say-so of other cops, and I have yet to find any other witnesses who corroborate that or any video evidence, and I’m not about to start taking the cops’ word for anything, especially when doing so may result in my rights being taken away. Not being contrarian for the sake of it here – I’d really like to see evidence that I may have easily missed, if there is any.

        My point is that if either political party has actually managed to provide concrete material benefits for anybody other than their wealthy donors over the last several decades now, a person like Trump would have been laughed out right out of the primaries and wouldn’t have come close to being president.

          1. flora

            The “Seeking Information” call seems off. All those faces are probably connected with drivers’ licenses that the govt has a database of as well as having facial recognition software. They could ask the NSA (or Amazon cloud service /heh) for the info they seek, imo. The Real ID drivers’ license thingy. ;)

          2. lyman alpha blob

            Thanks. Interesting that they are still vague on whether it was Sicknick. The extinguisher bounces off a helmeted cop and then hits another without a helmet in the head. Hard to believe that would have killed either of them – one had a heavy helmet which would have taken away a good bit of momentum before the extinguisher hit the other – but you never know. And you’d think that if the unhelmeted guy were Sicknick, he would be pretty easy to positively identify.

    3. lordkoos

      Some were taking selfies and having a party but others were following a plan to kidnap members of congress — it could have easily becoime much more violent. I think the only think that prevented things from being worse is that these people are not the brightest bulbs in the lamp. If I was a house member I sure as hell wouldn’t have gone out to face a mob where many were armed and screaming with anger.

        1. lyman alpha blob

          Right, and I don’t think shooting your mouth off on social media counts as evidence of a master plan either.

          Can’t put my finger on it right now, but I did read an article about one of those arrested for threatening Pelosi with violence on social media who was also found to have brought weapons. That was the breathless headline at least. Upon reading the article, all of those weapons were left in the guy’s car when he left it to join the protest, because the offender knew DC had tough gun laws and he didn’t want to be arrested for brandishing a weapon publicly. That was his story at least, based on my admittedly not perfect memory. Saying stupid things in the heat of the moment and actually doing them are two different things, and according to the article this particular individual wasn’t planning to go through with anything he threatened to do online.

          I did not see any of the rioters brandishing any actual weapons at anybody. The guy in paramilitary garb with zip ties was about the most intimidating guy I saw, and I’m sorry, but zip ties aren’t exactly deadly weapons.

          So sure, prosecute those who did get violent – I have seen plenty of evidence of people throwing punched and whacking people with flagpoles, etc – but my fear is things won’t stop there.

          1. Aumua

            I’m sure that most of the people there realized that waving an actual gun around in that situation would be suicide. They’re not total idiots, for the most part.

        2. lordkoos

          Why do you think people were carrying zip cuffs, to play bondage games? They were cuffs like cops use, not the little zip ties like you use to bundle cables. Some people planned to hang Mike Pence.

          1. lambert strether

            There are, so far as I know, two examples of zip ties, one being indeed that cosplaying bartender from Tennessee, the other being “Torch,” the fighter pilot.

            “Zip ties” is one of those words that sticks in the mind and suggests expertise, like “kompromat.” So it gets repeated.

          2. flora

            They were cuffs like cops use, not the little zip ties like you use to bundle cables.
            hmmm… the words “agent provacateur” do come to mind… not that there were any provocateurs at BLM protests trying to rile things up or anything, or at the Capitol more recently….

            Starting to think the US needs a non-partisan rumor control hotline. /heh

      1. Aumua

        We need to understand about how crypto-fascism operates. The age of information has enabled new forms of this phenomenon whose parameters haven’t really been defined yet, and which ride the line between being a joke and being serious. That’s how it both hides in plain sight and propagates. Most of the people at the Capitol were at least half tongue in cheek about what they were doing. They considered it to be a joke of some kind, just to make a point. They felt they were memeing and trolling Democrats, liberals and/or leftists, along with the MSM. As evidenced by the ridiculous costumes in some cases selfie poses and smiles, it was all fun and games as such things are… until they aren’t. It’s all too easy for this kind of script to flip into something a lot more serious, earnest and deadly. I’m sure there are parallels that can be drawn to Nazi Germany. Fascism has always had a clownish aspect to it, but as I said what we’re seeing today is also uncharted territory.

  15. Wukchumni

    Lit a warming fire in the chiminea this morning and before long the coyote chorale about 2 miles up canyon started up with elongated yelps, what sounded like pleas and before you knew it a dozen were in somewhat rhythm of sorts. I was able to translate some:

    “Hey its me Mabel, anybody have any carrion bags they want to stow away?”

    Burn piles consisting of 6 months worth of hunting & gathering twigs, branches and anything deemed not large enough for the big leagues of ignition, all went up in flames last week, with a 15 foot high crescendo licking the sky, out of ammo before you know it and 30 minutes later what was 6×6 feet wide and 4 feet high, was now merely embers content to radiate through the night into the dawn before expiring of natural causes.

    One thing a too close for comfort major wildfire creates in it’s aftermath is more of an awareness of risk, and i’m seeing a fair amount of locals motivated to be their own fire marshal Bill in ridding combustibles from their property, flame on.


    According to NC time it is now 6866, and let me catch you up to speed as to what’s going on 4,845 years in the future.

    Hard to believe, but Tickle Me Elmo dolls were the biggest selling toy this past Christmas, and were about to inaugurate the 1,394th President in a week.

  16. AbyNormal


    “Why do people say “grow some balls”? Balls are weak and sensitive. If you wanna be tough, grow a vagina. Those things can take a pounding.”


    1. Samuel Conner

      Listening via C-SPAN. History in the making, same as last week. Thankfully no excitement outside the legislative chambers is likely today.

      Not happy about the timing — more deliberation and exhibition of underlying facts might be useful — but I have the sense that there might be an important element of “game theory” at work.

      IIRC, outrageous conduct is most reliably restrained by “tit for tat retaliation.” Future demagogues might need to be on notice that conduct like DJT’s will not be tolerated. My sense is that retaliatory action by Congress may be necessary, even if troubling in terms of the haste of the proceedings.


      full disclosure: it is hard for me to not regard DJT’s behavior since the election as constituting “high misdemeanors”. I think that years of prior behavior had kind of anesthetized or desensitized the polity to his behavior.

      And maybe … Congress should have a lower bar for impeachment than it has previously had. That might be a restraint, however imperfect, on executive over-reach.

      1. flora

        Oh, I don’t know. I’m not too exercised about T’s behavior. Consider that Hills last summer insisted that Biden shouldn’t concede for any reason if he lost, that he should drag the election out.

        It seems like something was in motion last summer and both sides were acting the same drama, but in rolls determined by how the election went.
        Same script, different party rolls, etc. Both parties work for the same donors, after all.

        I’m looking forward to spring and gardening. First sightings yesterday in the store of seed packets for garden veg and flowers.

        1. Samuel Conner

          > both sides were acting the same drama

          Yes, and I don’t forget that in late 2016, “unusual” ideas were being promoted by some Ds for over-ruling the election result.

          Chickens come home to roost.

          I too am looking forward to Spring. Maybe this year I will actually get Purple Milkweed to germinate and bloom.

          1. voteforno6

            So, the Democrats were also organizing a mob to storm the Capitol, and possibly take members of Congress hostage or murder them?

                1. ChiGal in Carolina

                  I do the same, only sans MSNBC which I cannot abide. While CNN harps on the same stuff and has the same guests (mostly other journos fer chrissakes) over and over and do a lot of speculation and spin and gotchas that are a big waste of time, they also show more of the actual events than I have seen on Fox.

                  Fox does all of the above, plus shows very little footage of the events (mostly they show the BLM protests from last summer) while doing their spin (it was Antifa who attacked the Capitol).

                  To the extent they acknowledge that Trump supporters were involved, they do a better job of explicating the rationale for the protest than CNN, but not including the deaths of despair angle so much as the libertarian (property rights, gun ownership, freedom fighter) stance.

                  YMMV of course

        2. HotFlash

          My snowdrops are up almost a centimeter! In Toronto! I told ’em, “Guys, guys, it’s too early!” Even told ’em the date. I sure hope they know what they’re doing.

    2. Stephen C.

      Listening to the impeachment proceedings on NPR? Certainly there is a better way. Don’t encourage them. While driving yesterday, having forgotten my language CDs that I normally listen to, I turned on NPR. They were still trying to figure out why the “less than college educated” Trump supporters don’t respect our institutions. This among a discussion that framed the recent events in DC as only, only, a matter of racism.

      It’s as if NPR was given the task of maintaining a bubble to shield the PMC from dangerous thoughts.

      1. Another Scott

        One thing that I’ve been thinking about is this: is there a group of 500+ Americans less able to handle the impeachment than Congress? Last week their workplace was violently attacked by a mob, they heard gunshots and feared for their lives. They are likely still traumatized and shaken by the events, yet the continue to rush towards impeachment less than a week later without seeing to gather all of the facts. There is a reason that we don’t let crime victims serve as prosecutors let alone as prosecutors, judge, and jury. And this is before getting to all of the political posturing both intra- inter-party.

        1. Offtrail

          The way that Congress returned without hesitation to complete the electoral count speaks well of their ablity to handle trauma. That was a fine moment.

          IMO Trump is a danger and must be permanently removed from any official role. That’s what I emailed my US Representative, Jaime Herrera-Buetler (R). I’m proud to see that she voted for impeachment today.

  17. The Rev Kev

    “Joe Biden poised to name foreign policy expert as Asia tsar”

    “Nearly half a century since Nixon’s first steps toward rapprochement, the record is increasingly clear that Washington once again put too much faith in its power to shape China’s trajectory,” Mr Campbell wrote.

    And there it is in a nutshell why this furious attack on China which will only increase under Biden. China got to the point where they could decide their own destiny. One where they no longer had to accept whatever Washington gave them while constantly being undermined by them at the same time. China refused to develop into a neoliberal paradise up for sale like Russia was back in the 90s so now the only way left is to go head to head against China, hence the pivot. China never had to be an enemy of the west. A place could have been made for them on the world’s stage in a realignment of power. But instead, we are now manufacturing an enemy out of China instead to satisfy the demands of a small western elite. I wonder how that will work out?

  18. flora

    re:We Should Be Very Worried About Joe Biden’s “Domestic Terrorism” Bill – Jacobin (nippersmom).

    Thanks for the link. Let me adjust my foil bonnet for a moment… there… ahem…. Looking closely at “viking guy” it crosses my mind that last week’s mayhem was perhaps a cosplay for some people, the desired outcome of which was mayhem itself for some reason or other. … removes foil bonnet. ;)

    There had to be a dramatic and shocking event for the Patriot Act to pass.
    Quoting Bertrand Russell:
    Collective fear stimulates herd instinct, and tends to produce ferocity toward those who are not regarded as members of the herd.

    Picture of “viking guy” shaking Rudy G’s hand. ;)

    1. Medbh

      I don’t understand how the protesters thought this was going to play out. They at least look like they’re trying to intimidate, capture or kill the representatives, and it’s all being recorded.

      Did they think the Democrats were just going to run out of the building and the Republicans/Trump would take over? A politician that is willing to steal an election is likely perfectly happy with killing opponents. If I’m trying to take out half the government, I’m either going to be successful or dead, not catching a flight home the next day to get back to my day job.

      It seems so delusional to me. If you’re going to intimidate or overthrow the government, at least come prepared! Maybe I’ve just watched too many movies and expect a higher caliber of criminal.

      1. flora

        I didn’t see what you claim to see or have heard. If there’s proof then charge those apparently involved with breaking the various laws. We already have plenty of criminal laws with stiff sentences to address everything you list. There are cameras everywhere around the Capitol. The smart phone signals of all the protestors near or in the Capitol were undoubtedly captured and can be mapped to their owners, etc. It’s shouldn’t be hard to do this. If people broke the law then charge them under existing statute.

        1. flora

          And of course, the demands to criminalize even peaceful dissent are increasing. If anyone on the right cheered the passage of 3 states’ new laws in the wake of BLM protests, thinking the laws were only targeted at the left and would never come back to bite the right, they were wrong. The reverse is also true. Criminalizing dissent or speech or right to assemble or other Bill of Rights guarantees isn’t a good idea in general.

          1. JBird4049

            Why not? IIRC, the first gun control laws were never intended for white (upper class) people. They were to be enforced on blacks, poor people, troublesome whites, or people like union organizers. Just another tool to beat people down and send to prison, but not the right kind of people.

            However, every single law meant to criminalize troublesome people’s actions is eventually used on everyone. Every loophole and exception that have made the Bill of Rights more fantasy than reality. I think that is one of the reasons why some people are fighting so hard for the right to bear arms. We can all see how most Americans don’t really have rights, but the 2nd Amendment is still sorta in effect. That’s nice and I do strongly support that right. I just wish that the other rights were more than a strong suggestion.

            It’s funny that all the rights were put in as a response to the British government abuses and denial of rights of the colonists. The more the government pushed (sometimes legitimately and reasonably) the more the Americans pushed backed. Those abuses helped to start a war, and yet after reading about them, I can see the police being given the green light to routinely commit on Americans by the courts including the Supreme Court.

        2. Medbh

          Yes, I agree there are numerous recordings, and criminal actions should be charged. Sorry it was unclear, that’s one of the points I was trying to make. I’m not alluding to a conspiracy theory, more commenting on the short-sighted and self-destructive behavior of the protesters.

          I’m confused about their thinking. Everything was being recorded. Did they think they could beat police officers, vandalize the building, and enter offices with no repercussions? Did they think those actions would convince any representatives to change their votes or behavior?

          Why would someone attend a “peaceful” protest with a stun gun, zip tie handcuffs, etc.? It’s either stupid or suspicious. You either intend to use them and are grossly unprepared, or you give law enforcement a reason to charge you with something.

          I don’t understand how people thought they could break into the capital and not have it follow them back to regular life.

          The entire event was destructive to their supposed goals. Did they just get caught up in the moment, have some grander plan, or were they incapable of thinking more than one moment into the future?

          1. JBird4049

            IIRC: “Why does treason never prosper? Why, if it succeeds, none dare call it treason!”

            The stakes from here on out are only going to increase.

          2. Aumua

            Yep Trump and his little personality cult have really overplayed their hand here, it would seem. Or have they?

  19. Poopypants

    Maybe it’s time for all the politicians to be kicked off Social Media and told to get back to work.

    As one Twitter person so aptly put it when referring to an Ilhan Omar tweet:

    ‘All Y’all do is Tweet’

  20. Mikel

    RE: “No More ‘America No. 1′” The Blue Roof

    Read this with interest, but highly disappointed in this assessment:

    “One third of the population lacks proper health insurance as they succumb to the new virus…”

    The population lacks proper health CARE. “Insurance” means nothing when yoo have hospitals that have laid off medical staff during a pandemic, hospitals with not eniugh PPE – still after knowing his virus has been here nearly a year, prices guaging for health services, drugs, equipment with no systematic pricing, and it could go on.
    However, there is plenty of concern about “insurance”.

    1. Massinissa

      I mean, Americans are so brainwashed there are plenty of Americans I’ve talked to who think the NHS provides health ‘insurance’ to Britons. Its like the entire concept of public healthcare, which much of Europe has to various degrees, is something that isn’t even thought about by many here as being a possible option, as if its something only Communists and Martians have and therefore can’t be thought of as a reasonable alternative.

      Its absolute madness. I’m at the point where I don’t think writers of articles like that even realize they’re helping in the propaganda, they’ve just drank so much of the Kool-aid they assume the Kool-aid is just water.

  21. Mikerw0

    I think more coverage and realistic expectations for the speed with which we can get people vaccinated is needed. Notably, the math.

    Assume we need to vaccinate circa 85% of a population of 330 million people (put aside cross border movement for now) and it takes 2 shots in order to achieve functional societal immunity, then 0.85 x 330 x 2 = 561 million shots.

    If the objective is to get there by Labor Day, which is 236 days from now, means we need to administer 2.4 million shots per day.

    If the objective is to get there by year-end, which is 352 days from now, means we need to administer 1.6 million shots per day.

    From data reported we aren’t even close to this rate. I would also argue, as we see in the old pictures of mass vaccination against polio, that if we were serious we would already have large scale vaccination centers established nation-wide.

    Am I missing anything?

    1. Lee

      What you are missing, as are we all, is competent and humane governance. The best thing the Dems can do to break the pro-Trump insurrectionist fever is to focus their full attention upon delivering relief money and medicine to the people. As to whether or not they are up to the task, which would involve mass mobilization measures such as invoking the Defense Production Act, and ignoring unwarranted concerns about government deficits, I am not optimistic.

  22. farmboy

    DOJ/FBI news conference yesterday detailed law enforcement efforts to date regarding the Capitol riot/insurrection. Repeated several times by the US acting attorney general in DC was that people will be shocked by the sheer number of cases eventually filed… “I expect that number to grow into the hundreds,” the prosecutor said. “Just the gamut of cases we’re looking at is mind-blowing.” He related that 168 cases have been opened and even if some are only misdemeanors now, that with further investigations, charges will be added. Expectations are case numbers will grow exponentially.
    Also, inquiries into Republican Attorney’s General around the country is happening after reports of their involvement. Reports of Republican HOR giving guided tours to next day rioters was revealed by Rep Mikie Sherril and three Republican members of the HOR are said to have helped plan 1/6.

    1. MRLost

      Democrats refused to prosecute torture. Torture. Roll that word around in your head. Now Democrats are all worked up about the so-called invasion of the Capitol and how scared they were for a few hours. Democrats refused to close Gitmo and some of those people have been in cages and mistreated for 19 years. Democrats have no moral authority whatsoever. Zero.

      1. Harold

        They were shouting “Hang Pence!” at the top of their lungs. Surely that qualifies as intent. In the 1960s nobody shouted “Hang LBJ” or even Nixon.

      2. The Rev Kev

        This whole idea of the “invasion of Congress” is sounding like the invasion of the Bastille at the outbreak of the French Revolution. From the outside it looked like a big scary castle but the mob found that it was only guarded by 82 invalides pensioners and a short platoon of foreign troops. When it fell there was only 7 prisoners there so it was more a sham. The real fault with the events of last week was not that rioters actually got inside Congress but that a place with an annual trillion dollar budget let them get within a kilometer of that building. To put a hard point on it, if a car thief steals your car because you left the windows down, the keys in the ignition and the engine running, who is actually at fault here?

      1. ChiGal in Carolina

        Scotland has publicly stated he cannot enter the country with their current pandemic restrictions–they (and many other countries) don’t allow Americans in at present.


  23. Matthew G. Saroff

    Not a lawyer, but it is my understanding that such a destruction of evidence by Theranos could lead the judge to instruct the jury that this is an admission of guilt.

    There was a case around 1990, Piper or Beech was the defendant, I think, and they had done a series of tests to develop an improved seat for their light aircraft.

    Once they had this seat developed, they destroyed all data collected so that it could not be subpoenaed and used against them.

    A number of years after that, they were sued, and the destruction of data was ruled by the judge to be an admission of guilt.

  24. The Historian

    Re: “Bernie Sanders wants to go big”.
    “Mr. Sanders said in the interview that he wanted an initial, emergency stimulus package to be “big.” He thinks it must include an additional $1,400 in direct payments for adults and children, on top of the $600 that Congress just passed,……”

    No, no, no. Biden promised $2000 and he needs to stick to that – anything else will be seen as a betrayal.

    I do agree with all else Sanders wants, but he cannot reduce the amount of stimulus and expect Americans to go along with it.

      1. The Historian

        Yes, I can add!
        Biden promised the $2000 after the $600 had gone out. I may be wrong but I don’t recall him promising $1400 in addition to the $600; I remember him promising $2000. I think that is the way many others understood him too.

        1. ChiGal in Carolina

          Nobody that I know! In conversation and in whatever I have read the idea was that if Biden won he would make good on the $2k figure that after Trump raised the Dems belatedly supported, and the Rs then ran out the clock on. Making good means making up the other $1400.

          I only pipe up because this is a strange thing to accuse Bernie of betrayal on imho.

  25. Wukchumni

    In all of the events to transpire last year, i’m not sure any were more striking & shocking as well armed open carry advocates being allowed in the Michigan statehouse.

    It set off alarms in my head, in particular as it was as it turns out (Mi just banned open carry inside the statehouse) the peak of guns having more rights than humans in our country, and seeing as they got away with it in Michigan, lets try it elsewhere, gang!

    Hoping that January 17th is all peaceful like, but according to Luntz, only about 25% of Republicans he polled, felt Trump was to blame for January 6th, denial still runs deep.

  26. Louis Fyne

    — Funny how the Defense Procurement Act has faded from view.—

    Faded from view because there is no money in it anymore. In April 2020, KN95-KF94 masks imported from China/Korea cost $3-$5 each at the wholesale level.

    Now the costs for the same masks have declined 90%+. So that each KN95 mask costs $~0.25 at the US wholesale level. Hand sanitizer costs have plummeted too, so much that there is a glut of it.

    And speaking of masks—An evidence review of face masks against COVID-19 PNAS.— confirms what NC commenters have been saying in March-April (citing studies from east Asia)….

    multi-layered masks (cotton and polyster), even if made by grandma on the sewing machine, meets and often vastly exceeds the flimsy paper surgical masks (which are more meant to control bacterial transmission, not viral)

    1. lordkoos

      Every store in town here hands out those crummy paper masks. Many around these parts don’t bother to own more effective masks as they rely on these freebies instead.

    2. ChiGal in Carolina

      Because there is less profit in it is exactly why the Defense Production Act should be invoked so they can start handing N95s out like candy, as they should have from the get go.

      Can you provide a link to that study? I use cone-shaped multilayer cotton masks with a filter insert and a lanyard to tighten the ear loops but I know a lot of people who rely on the surgical masks. I tell them these are not as effective, they are the wrong shape and leak too much air, etc etc but they aren’t convinced.

      And how does it factor in that the surgical masks have an electrostatic layer that attracts viral particles?

        1. ChiGal in Carolina

          thanks for responding. unfortunately the first link is a video demonstrating the efficacy of mask vs no mask, and the second an article, which does talk about “t-shirt” (knit) material vs medical masks, but addresses droplet, not aerosol spread.

          If anybody can find a video or article comparing surgical masks to double or triple layer high thread count (woven) cotton ones, I would appreciate it!

          1. HotFlash

            Not exactly in the format you asked for, but this video should get you to where you want to be. Gail Kollmar compares various mask materials using ratings from Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering, University of Chicago, Chicago, Il, and the Center for Nanoscale Materials and Worker Safety & Health Division of the Argonne National Laboratory, Lemont, Il. She has links to the research article below which was published in the American Chemical Society Nano on April 24, 2020 as well as to the CDC, WHO, etc.

            All her stuff is very good to great. Awesome, actually. Comments interesting as well, and include some updates.

            1. ChiGal in Carolina

              Ah, good ol’ U of C, back in my very own hood to which I hope the pandemic will allow me to return this summer–thanks so much! I will check it out and add the reference to my list.

              Despite having had to be put in time out recently, this commentariat is the bestest.

  27. jeremyg

    re: Your picture of the Israeli media workplace.

    Yes, in photographic terms “oddly structural” is fitting.

    Socially it is also structural. One tall male, standing casually, hands in pockets, between two little females bowed at their desk. You know who is the boss. You always know who is the boss.

    Not odd at all.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > You know who is the boss

      Exactly. Also, the boss is standing in the darker part of the photo, and only the hasbarists’ hands are visible, with the sharp dividing line (dare I say “terminator”?) between them. It’s a brilliant photo.

      1. jeremyg

        I hadn’t picked up on the hands and the light. I just felt the embedded patriarchy.
        I think I wanted to believe that the crazy composition was impro from the end of a cubicle.
        I didn’t know the term hasbarists.

        You see what it shows you.

  28. Pelham

    So Dick Parsons said this: “Those people [working Americans left behind] have to be made to feel like they are included in the prosperity of the country.”

    So if we somehow make them “feel” they’re doing well, we’ll all be fine? Better idea: Sweep away the likes of Dick Parsons and leave it to working people to rebuild a real economy that Parsons and his ilk are busy dismantling.

  29. none

    Yay, comments are back! I hope no one minds my bringing up a question of possibly great gravity for economics and finance (lol). Sometime in the past week or so, I remember seeing an Antitote or Water Cooler picture here, or maybe a link in a comment, that showed a few second gif animation of two wildcats (lynx, bobcat, or whatever), a full sized one and a kitten. In the animation, the full sized one lets out a big yawn, and then a moment later, the kitten does the same. I’ve been looking through old posts for a while trying to find the link, but no luck. It’s sort of possible that it was on another site rather than here.

    Does anyone remember this picture? I should have saved it as soon as I saw it. Thanks.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > a few second gif animation of two wildcats (lynx, bobcat, or whatever), a full sized one and a kitten.

      That would most likely be a “Bonus Antidote.” I searched for that string over the last week and didn’t find what you remember. You might try over a longer period, or vary the search string.

  30. noonespecial

    Re MunchBunch Tweet/UK food and kids

    Posting this as a comparative example from one area of Colombia I am familiar with. Sadly, this is but one of several examples of how private contractors abuse public trust when it comes to school lunches and demonstration of abject ignorance of the effects of undernourishing a child in terms of scholastic and personal development. Inserting Lambert’s lament here – the Harkkonens rule.

    An article from 2019 with my quick translation of key parts:

    1. The contract had a value of (approx US$ today $10K) to provide school food for 124,892 students in 82 locales (of the Providence) of Santander.

    2. The Attorney General’s report indicates that, “All of the monies were disbursed to the contractor and the nutritional portions did not arrive to primary or secondary schools…the contractor submitted information detailing cost overruns, charged for products to fictitious companies…Among the more notable items that were purchased at a price well above the norm are tamales for $30.000 (Colombian pesos; about $10 US). (My note – in a typical farmers market this item costs about $0.75 US and for a person under 12 years of age the typical portion may well be just enough food for lunch, not including a drink).

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Posting this as a comparative example from one area of Colombia

      As a parenthetical, it’s good to have information from close to or on the ground in Latin American. Thanks!

  31. K.k

    I just heard some congress critter or such argue that the riot at the capital occurred as a consequence of blm not facing any consequences for their actions. I have for years heard others argue blm activists get off too easy. My friends and family members too are eager to argue that these capitol rioters should not get severe sentences because blm is left off the hook too easily. I remind them about the violence and brutality even peaceful protesters faced from law enforcement last year. There is plenty of video evidence. I also remind them of cases such as those of Joshua Williams who in 2014 was sentenced to 8 years for lighting a trash can on fire and stealing a bag of chips during the Ferguson protests. Williams was 18 years old at the time , with no priors or arrests. Last i checked he was still in prison last year and was up for parole. I cant find an update on his case.
    Im not arguing that the capitol rioters should be given harsh sentences or charged under terror laws. I just ask my family and friends to extend the same compassion they reflexively have for these people to others who have been getting their skulls cracked and getting obscenely long prison sentences protesting state violence.

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