Links 1/25/2021

40 Times Designers Forgot Things Need To Be Cleaned When Creating Them, As Shared On This Facebook Group Bored Panda

What happens to the brain on sudden impact? Egg yolks could hold the answer Ars Technica

US technological leadership is fragile Asia Times

Tech is having a reckoning. Tech investors? Not so much. MIT Technology Review

Dry January is moist for some at the rocky start of 2021 AP

English and Scottish get drunk most often, 25-nation survey finds Guardian


Covid-19 vaccine tracker: the global race to vaccinate FT

Covid-19: White House criticises ‘chaotic’ vaccine rollout BBC

‘The Basic Problem Is a Lack of Central Strategy’ FAIR

The day we let Covid-19 spin out of control Stat

How West Virginia Became a U.S. Leader in Vaccine Rollout NYT

As Biden team takes reins, Becerra likens COVID-19 pandemic to ‘plane in a nose dive’ LA Times

Large national outbreak of COVID-19 linked to air travel, Ireland, summer 2020 separator Eurosurveillance

Biden BANS travelers from South Africa over fears of its mutant COVID-19 variant and WON’T lift the bans on UK, Europe and Brazil as promised by Trump Daily Mail

Australia suspends New Zealand travel bubble amid new virus strain BBC

Johnson being urged to impose blanket Covid border controls Guardian

The 5 Biggest Lessons We’ve Learned About How Coronavirus Spreads on Campus Chronicle of Higher Education

Coronavirus boom for Malaysia’s rubber glove industry loses shine amid worker rights abuses SCMP

Pandemic aftershocks overwhelm global supply lines WaPo

Trump Transition

Counter Trumpism By Ending the Conditions That Created It Consortium News. Caitlin Johnstone.

Deborah Birx, the former White House coronavirus coordinator, said Trump was fed ‘parallel data’ that she hadn’t approved, which he then presented to the public Business Insider

House sending Trump impeachment to Senate, GOP opposes trial AP

Biden Transition

The Cool Kids Are Back In Town! American Conservative. Not so cool. Although they think they are. I‘d give them smug. And they’re certainly not self-aware.  Could do w/ a bit more irony.

The muzzling of America NY Post. Josh Hawley.

Twitter and YouTube Banned Steve Bannon. Apple Still Gives Him Millions of Listeners. ProPublica

If Biden Wants to End Death Penalty, He Must Also End Death by Incarceration Truthout

Landfill operators weigh next steps for PFAS regulation, research and opportunity Waste Dive

Chemical Warfare’s Home Front New York Review of Books

Biden to sign executive order reforming ‘Buy American’ rules The Hill

Biden confronts a budget office broken by Trump Politico

New Auto Safety Report Demands Biden Strengthen Federal Programs Now Counterpunch. Ralph Nader. Unsafe at any speed redux.

US-Pakistan reset boosts Biden’s Afghan plan Asia Times


Zuckerberg’s Biden Problem BBC

Biden set for ‘buy American’ push to boost domestic manufacturing FT

Our Famously Free Press

All The Spin That’s Fit To Print Daily Poster. David Sirota.


From Egypt to the US: Lessons for activists from the Arab Spring Al Jazeera. Ten years on.


Navalny Protests Sweep Russia as Kremlin Cries U.S. Interference Foreign Policy

Russia Seeks to Stamp Out Navalny Protests as New Unrest Looms Bloomberg

Navalny protests: EU to consider ‘next steps’ after Russia carries out mass arrests Guardian


India’s Gains From ‘Vaccine Diplomacy’ – if Any – Will Be Small, Transient and Pyrrhic The Wire

Why Budget 2021 allocation for MGNREGA, migrant workers’ cushion during lockdown, is key The Print

Indian, Chinese soldiers injured in physical brawl near Naku La in Sikkim  Times of India

China risks a Himalayan water war with India Asia Times


Taiwan reports large incursion by Chinese warplanes for second day BBC (David L)

Class Warfare

Joe Biden and the ‘great rebalancing’ of the US economy FT Rana Foroohar

Antidote du Jour (PR):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. voteforno6

    Re: Hawley

    So, the Junior Snowflake from Missouri is complaining about being muzzled…from the front page of a major American newspaper. His right to have a vanity book published was violated, until a different publisher under the same corporate umbrella picked up the book. Conservatives really are a whiny bunch. It’s hard to take them seriously when they do nothing to complain about the people who truly are being silenced.

    1. jackiebass

      My question to Hawley is where were you for the last 4 years? It isn’t just conservatives that are whiny. Liberals are guilty of the same behavior. That is why I don’t like to use categories to describe people. You have good and bad people spread all over the political spectrum.What I think we have lost in this country is the ability to listen to different opinions. I consider myself progressive. I still like to listen what other have to offer. It would amaze you to find that most people are more alike than different.

      1. Massinissa

        “It would amaze you to find that most people are more alike than different.”

        Not surprising, considering both parties are more alike than different. Same policies, but different cultural markers. Most of the ‘polarization’ is culture war stuff, most of which mostly marks differences in aesthetics than personality.

      2. Katniss Everdeen

        My question to Hawley is where were you for the last 4 years?

        Hawley has only been “whining” about tech censorship from the senate floor since 2019. Before that, he presumably did his “whining” as the Missouri Attorney General, but I can’t confirm that since I don’t live there.

        It seems he is a fairly effective “whiner,” however, since his “whining” enabled him to knock claire mcckaskill out of the senate, although she was so odious I’m not sure how much actual “whining” was required.

        1. Jason

          His whining is quite selective. He doesn’t have much to say about Big Ag, which devastates small farmers across the country, including many in his own state. Nor Big Oil. I could go on…

      3. Procopius

        I recently was reading an article that Identified Senator Manchin as “liberal.” I just stopped reading at that point, so can’t give the URL.

    2. cnchal

      Any thoughts on the substance of what Josh Hawley is writing about, monopoly power by the bigs?

      It is becoming apparent to me that the winners of the election intend to criminalize dissent, first by cutting off “platform” access with Humpty Dumpty terms of service interpretations. What’s next is an open question but when AOC cheers the tech monopolists for silencing a website, nobody’s head in any hall of power is screwed on tight anymore.

      Also, the “major American newspaper” itself was muzzled by big tech and was cancelled for reporting on potential Biden family corruption. Imagine the election results were the “press” to highlight that corruption instead of burying it. Election interference has many facets, but the press won’t tell you that they are the elephant in the room and most are too blind to see it.

      1. Return of the Bride of Joe Biden

        It is becoming apparent to me that the winners of the election intend to criminalize dissent

        If by “winners of the election” you mean the top 1% and their enablers, I couldn’t agree more. I put Mitch McConnell in that group.

        If the pie can’t/won’t grow, then the owners will really have to start cracking down. IMO, neo-feudalism isn’t going to look exactly like classical feudalism, but it will share striking similarities.

        1. flora

          Not to put too fine a point on it: the moveable-type printing press democratized knowledge in a way that helped lead to the end of feudalism and the rise of The Enlightenment philosophies, imo.

          Today’s digital platforms for communication serve a similar purpose for democratizing information… unless suppressed. Which seems to be happening, imo.

          1. Return of the Bride of Joe Biden

            Today’s digital platforms for communication serve a similar purpose for democratizing information… unless suppressed. Which seems to be happening, imo.

            That’s a very interesting comment, and 15 years ago, I would have shared that opinion – the interwebs were my business.

            Today, I would insert “should” between “communication” and “serve.” The real problem, IMO, is the monetization, and attendant monopolization*, of attention; making money off eyeballs. Personally, I would approach the conundrum by taking away the money/monopolies and leave the free speech component intact. If Google/Facebook/Twitter/etc. couldn’t make money through mass-scale social manipulation, or it carried huge risk (repeal of 230), we would see a re-decentralization (probably not a word) of the web. People could be crazy on small forums, just like they always were, and their crazy would be contained, as it always was.

            Not going to happen, IMO.

            “Social media” could easily exist as a federated service based on open standards (like email) that carried broad restrictions on Pavlovian manipulation techniques (votes, likes, etc.), but that too would reduce the money/monopoly potential.

            Not going to happen, IMO.

            Destroying free speech – and all other freedoms, as necessary – is much more ideologically palatable to our masters, if it maintains the existing order, IMO.

            * When I say “monopoly,” I mean monopolies, duopolies, triopolies, and other large cartel-like structures.

            1. ArvidMartensen

              I read once that every new technology is co-opted by the ruling class, no matter how egalitarian it starts out.
              First the ruling class make a fortune by building the technology, then they make sure that it is used for their own enrichment and looting wars and control of the citizenry.
              So, Farming(landed gentry and peasants tied to estates), Horses and wheels( looting expeditions to other lands), Ships(looting England, Europe, India, South America etc), Roads (taking of indigenous lands), Coal (barons and child miners), Petroleum (Texas millionaires, Saudis and repression of women), Trains (robber barons, commerce), Planes (wars, commerce),
              Electricity,(explosion of consumption industries, growth of huge corporations), Computers (commerce, worker control), Telephones (commerce, spying on citizenry),
              Internet (global wars, global spying, US hegemony of internet companies eg Amazon, Twitter, FB, eBay, and suppression of ideas not supportive of billionaires),
              pharmaceuticals (massive enrichment of shareholders, impoverishment of citizenry in US and third world, iatrogenesis).
              Along the way innovations may have changed conditions of the ordinary citizens in some good ways and some very bad ways.
              But they always enriched and entrenched the ruling class in every way possible.
              And every technology henceforth will do the same. AI is romping in that direction.

  2. cocomaan

    I thought Trump and the Trump admin were going to get prosecuted the minute they walked out of the White House?

    Interesting that they haven’t, besides in peach mints. I’m getting an Obama-era “I will prosecute the Bush admin for war crimes” vibe here.

    1. jackiebass

      I find it amusing about how talking points change so quickly. For a short time many republicans were on the side of making Trump accountable. The most obvious was Mitch McConnell. Now that the house is sending articles of impeachment to the senate his attitude has seems too drastically change. The same is true of others. Romney and Clair from AL seem to be staying the same. Trump will be held accountable. It will be NYS that does what the senate won’t. Trump and some of his family have serious legal problems in NYS.Money is the key. It is used to prosecute people that seem to be able to escape prosecution.Remember how the FEDS got Capone.

      1. Cocomaan

        As NotTim says below, where’s NY? I thought they’d spent all this time preparing cases against trump, Rico and whatever. Why wouldn’t they have gone after him at this point?

        The press would be hearing about those cases ahead of time through strategic leaks by prosecutors who could pick at Trumps political corpse for a career boost. Yet I’m seeing nothing.

        Expectations are being lowered, I think.

      2. Pat

        Just wait for the Mueller report.

        Expectations of the system taking out Trump have been off the charts since before he was elected.

        My neighbor, a very nice woman who is educated, told me Biden wasn’t elected and the state legislatures would replace the electors. She honestly believed that was possible. Why because she had been told those legislatures were filled with good people who would do what is right. You see it wasn’t that she supported Trump, she is just rabidly anti-abortion. As she went through all the ways Biden was going to be stopped I was reminded of both the investment in Mueller and how many of my friends and acquaintances knew that all the evidence in Impeachment one was so overwhelming Trump would be convicted (a few even missed the 2/3 requirement and thought Mitch and Claire would be enough).

        This is beginning to remind me of every one of those.

        NY isn’t going to indict him. They might go after the kids in a few years, but Donald will be left alone. And the Senate will not convict him or use the 14th Amendment on him.

        Trump may be hated but he has been a member of the club for almost half a century.
        His crimes are not that unique in that Bipartisan club. And the base still likes him more than them. The fallout will come from multiple directions and is not worth it.

      3. Enver "Bonkers for Bunkers" Hoxha

        You really think politicians would do that? Just lie based on whatever’s convenient at the time?

      4. Yves Smith

        Hate to tell you but the IRS just about never wins big ticket tax litigations. That has to be even more true of NY which has fewer resources (its AG office has all of a dozen full time attorneys in addition to the AG).

        The only reason Trump might fare worse is he seems to hire terrible lawyers.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      No, just wait for New York State….I mean look we need to focus on the Biden legislative agenda…Mitch McConnell said no…OMG Trump just went golfing with the first gentlemen. 2022 is going to be a great year!

      At least I thought there has been a suspicious decline in the claims New York will go after Trump.

    3. PHLDenizen

      Rising had an interesting perspective found here.

      I was incredulous at the time, but now see how it’s a little more credible.

      The gist is McConnell is setting up a devious delay tactic to eat away Biden’s runway for getting things done in the Senate. He wouldn’t reconvene the senate until January 19th, while also pointing out how long previous trials have taken. If Schumer takes the bait and Dems decide to have a trial, that blocks all other business in the senate for at least a couple of weeks. Dems are stuck between angering their TDS infected base for not impeaching Trump and making Biden look like an even bigger incompetent and liar, which will depress Dem voter turnout in the mid-terms.

      1. cocomaan

        It’s a good take by Krystal, thanks for posting. A lot of people have lost a lot of money betting against Mitch McConnell.

        As Pat points out above, all the investigations and reports and so on always lead to nothing. And McConnell knows this.

        A looooong impeachment trial is going to make everyone crazy. Once again, the Democrats waste everyone’s time with nonsense.

        1. Procopius

          Maybe I misunderstand this, but I’ve seen articles at more than one site that say Schumer does not become the new Majority Leader and none of the new Democrat committee chairs become chairs, until the current Senate approves a new Organizing Resolution. McConnell is threatening to filibuster the vote on the Resolution, and there is no way the Democrats can peel 10 Republican votes off to approve cloture. I find it hard to believe this is true, but would be grateful is somebody would explain why it’s not true. McConnell is demanding that the Democrats promise not to change the filibuster rule for at least two years, and even if he allows a vote on the Organizing Resolution and the Democrats take the power everybody thought they already had, more than one Democratic Senator is likely to vote against nuking the filibuster. Heck, even President Biden has said he is willing to look at that option if the Republicans don’t play nice, he’s not demanding it right now. This is crazy.

  3. PlutoniumKun

    Large national outbreak of COVID-19 linked to air travel, Ireland, summer 2020 separator Eurosurveillance

    Correct link here.

    We are one year into the pandemic and we still have official bodies, including many scientists, denying that air travel is a key element in the spread of the disease. You would almost think the virus has little wings and can fly across oceans. WHO is still remarkably resistant to calling for a shut down in air travel.

    The evidence that holiday air traffic was key to the pandemic in Ireland was obvious from the beginning. The first wave in March/April was associated strongly with school clusters – upmarket school kids returning from ski trips in the Alps. The second wave had a strong component of a Spanish variant of the virus, almost certainly brought back from people insisting on their Med holiday. And the third wave is now very strongly associated with seasonal travel with the UK.

    The official reason in Ireland (given of all people, by the leader of the Green Party) that they are not stopping all non-essential flights or insisting on quarantine is that they cannot for political reasons close the border with Northern Ireland, and the UK is not allowing a shut down of Irish Sea traffic. There is some truth to this, but the likeliest reason is, quite simply, the lobbying power of the airline industry.

    1. Mummichog

      In my jurisdiction, after almost a year of Government stimulated fear, panic and anxiety regarding pestilence, disease, death, they still have yet to properly control air travel both domestic and international. In addition, there are all those charters and private jets scooting about. Never hear anything about those except now in this story below:

      “Vancouver CEO and actress charged after flying 2,200 km to sneak into COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Yukon
      The couple allegedly presented themselves as visiting workers, misleading staff at the mobile vaccination clinic in Beaver Creek”

      I’ve drawn my own conclusions about why all these Expert Epidemiologists, Scientists, Public Health Boffins have failed to control air travel.

    2. Synoia

      not stopping all non-essential flights or insisting on quarantine is that they cannot for political reasons close the border with Northern Ireland,

      Oh I get it. They don’t want to stop flights over the NI border. /s

  4. Glen

    So Biden is going to change the rules for the Buy America Act. BAA has been around since Hoover:

    Buy American Act

    BAA has always allowed exceptions depending on the rules being implemented. I’m looking for the data now,but from what I have seen in the past, the number of exceptions remained very small until Reagan, then exceptions took off. But at the same time, total US imports roughly doubled from $334B to $663B under Reagan, which I suppose could be when our trade gap started too.

    1. jackiebass

      When you look at Reagan objectively you see his legacy still effecting us. He is painted as some kind of God. I lived through Reagan. I remember him putting on his makeup and going on TV to talk to the American people. He passed himself off as a father like figure. I personally believe Reagan was a bad president. He did so many things that had lasting harm to the people of the US. Anti government, neoliberalism, and inequality are just a few of his sins.

      1. The Rev Kev

        I couldn’t believe stories I read years ago how Republicans wanted to kick George Washington’s face off a coin so that they could put Ronald Reagan’s face on it instead.

      2. Glen

        On the contrary, having too live through Reagan, the numbers show that he gutted the BAA, and started the trend of outsourcing American manufacturing.

        His “legacy” is today’s America which is this nightmare. I want FDR’s America back again.

      3. Lost in OR

        Reagan was elected on three promises:
        Balance the budget
        Reduce the deficit
        Increase defense spending

        He accomplished only one of those promises and failed miserably at the other two. Guess which.

        1. charlie sheldon

          I actually met Ronald Regan in the summer of 1967when I was 20, after a press conference in Sacramento, shook his hand and spoke to him for all of 5 seconds. His personal charm was amazing, I remember thinking even as I listened to whatever meaningless pratter he was saying that if he told me the word was flat I might believe him. Somehow he was able to carry that charm over television, and now he has been nearly deified….ch

          1. QuicksilverMessenger

            That’s right about the time he called those hippies up in the Haight:

            “A hippie is someone who looks like Tarzan, walks like Jane and smells like Cheetah.”

            Okie dokie!

          2. jackiebass

            A different approach but like Trump who is very convincing. He should be a used car salesman. When my conservative friends start quoting Trump my response is it must be true if Trump said it. Almost all of the time they have no response.

        2. Charger01

          Reagan also set up the notion that the Democrats needed to emulate the Republican policies, accepting wall street and industry donationals and abandoning their traditional constituencies. Their transformation was well underway by Carter into neoliberal DLC/Third Way mutants.

          1. Vgregory

            Substitution of Reagan’s image—. Not Washington’s image; FDR’s on the dime. The GOP wanted to obliterate every trace of theNew Deal. Still does.

        3. Phil in KC

          There were five promises, actually. Cut taxes, and end abortion being numbers four and five. He sort of cut taxes, sort of didn’t. Depends on who you were, and whether you were a corporation or small business, or just a citizen.

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      I don’t know if TPP-lover biden is going to “change the rules” for the BAA, or if he will just change the definition of “Made in America,” as the last administration he was involved in suggested doing. From 2014: (Emphasis added)

      … On May 22, the Office of Management and Budget issued a notice for comments on a proposal to dramatically alter the way government keeps statistics on domestic industries. The proposal suggests “that factoryless goods producers (FGPs) be classified” as manufacturers.

      In addition to being an oxymoron, the proposal, if adopted, would create a statistical fiction that companies that are American in name only, which outsource 100 percent of their production, assembly and services to other countries like China, will be deemed to be manufacturers. In other words a company does not have to manufacture any of its products in the United States to be considered a U.S. manufacturer. For example, companies like Apple which, according to the New York Times, relies on hundreds of thousands of workers in other countries to produce its goods, would now be included in manufacturing industry statistics.


      ….Buy American laws require that taxpayer money spent on government procurement is used to buy U.S. produced goods. Ex-Im domestic content policies are essential for letting it meet its mission of providing financing for exports that are made by U.S. workers. If the definition of U.S. manufacturing is nonsensically broadened to include foreign manufactured goods, can considering foreign parts, components and other goods as made in the United States be far off?

      When a government takes the position that $2000=$1400 with a straight face, who the hell knows what they’ll say “Made in America” means.

        1. Synoia

          Correct, Tomatoes are not a vegetables. Tomatoes are fruit….

          Ketchup, without additives, is a fruit paste.

    3. PHLDenizen

      Over the past 30 years, US policy has created a deindustrialized wasteland in our own country. We’ve exported our ability to make stuff other than economic neutron bombs like MBSs. The only exemption they’ll require is “China is the sole source vendor”. It’s a necessity to NOT buy American — trade deals have made us hostages. That being the case, buy American is quixotic sentiment without the need to fundamentally change the trade gap. Biden gets points for his appeal to patriotism and performatively offering assistance to the blue collar “folks”, but “nothing will fundamentally change”.

      1. m

        Well we are still short PPE gowns at hospitals, basically a garbage bag that has a loop over neck and ties around the waste. Supposed to be for one time use, enter room, do stuff and throw away. Not sure the cost to make specialty garbage bags.
        Nurses are striking all over the country over this issue.
        Besides covid, there is mrsa, cdiff, vre, TB, etc..

      2. flora

        Just think, by exporting the manufacturing to other countries they destroyed US unions and well funded, organized, political forces working for good wages and benefits that created a rising middle class. (The one shrinking economic sector of the last 30 years is the middle class. The rich and the poor are increasing.)
        They starved the large domestic working class challenge to their increasing wealth. Maybe that was the whole point of offshoring?

        1. tegnost

          To be fair we’re talking about the same people who created the “banana republics” as a model of governance. It should surprise no one that they’ve done the same thing here.
          “Move fast and break things…”

        2. Rod

          agreed. And an anecdote:

          recently clicked on my sidebar advertising on this site and went to SG Sportsmen where i bought brand new Military Surplus cold weather gear.
          Good stuff, amazing price, and everything made in USA–labeling indicates most in Unionized shops. (I am aware that i have already subsidized this stuff through tax funding, so buying it back affordably felt extra special–did I mention the quality??–double anecdote: the day of Active Service, during the War, when I received my first Military Clothing issue, i got the best pair of dress slippers, pants, and coat, I had ever worn in my entire life to that point–and i was not alone in noticing that as I recall.)

        3. skippy

          At its core neoliberalism was/is about creating a two tier society because that was the ***natural*** order of humanity.

        4. Phil in KC

          No, the point was to replace high-paying jobs with great benefits with low-wage jobs. More for the ownership class. The low wage workers were given a culture war to fight: gun control, abortion, flag burning, and religion (family values). We peons were to fight over Creationism and the ACLU while the fat cats divided up the loot.

      3. Procopius

        Minor quibble:

        Over the past 30 40 years, US policy has created a deindustrialized wasteland in our own country.

        The deindustrialization was created by Paul Volcker.

        … in 1981, with Reagan’s backing, Volcker launched his main offensive. Short-term interest rates shot up to near 20 percent The machinery industries of the upper Midwast, citadels of union power, went bankrupt.
        — The Predator State, James K. Galbraith, 2008, p. 43

        Of course other policies made things worse, as well. The roots go back to Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and the Democratic Leadership Council, as well as Reagan and the Republicans. The DLC has formally disbanded, but its members are still in control of the Democratic party.

    4. Efmo

      So many bad things under Reagan, “…let me count the ways…” Tax “reform”, creditor nation to debtor nation, savings and loan deregulation, junk bond destruction of businesses, the mishandling of the AIDS crisis, the “Star Wars” money pit – trying to start a war with the Soviet Union, there’s too many to list. Two really good Philadelphia Inquirer reporters from back then, Barlett and Steele, documented a lot of the destructive changes and turned some of their articles into books. The articles I remember turned into their book, America – What Went Wrong, I believe. My sister – while she believes herself to be an Independent – really is a pretty conservative Republican (pocketbook issues – not cultural ones). She voted for Reagan and is now hit in the pocketbook because of one of the changes he helped usher in – taxing social security income. (Biden made it worse). She’s fortunate to be in that circumstance – but not so fortunate that it doesn’t hurt to lose a few months worth of social security payments. I just mention when that policy started and leave it at that.

  5. Floyd

    re: Schwartzman

    It’s actually worse than that. Tony James, former President and still on board of Blackstone (I think), is an an enthusiastic supporter of the Democrats. His name was tossed around as a possible Treasury Secretary in a Clinton Administration. Tails I win, heads you lose. These guys don’t care who is in office – except Sanders as Blankfein famously said he would vote for Trump if Sanders was the nominee.

  6. PlutoniumKun

    Taiwan reports large incursion by Chinese warplanes for second day BBC

    This has been going on for a while, but I think the target of this is Biden. The Chinese will want to see if Biden reverts to the older policy on Taiwan, of strategic ambiguity or whether he will be inclined to keep on (without admitting it) to Trumps greater assertiveness.

    The unexpected game changer in all this is high speed computer chips. As Intel and other US/European chipmakers retreat to mid speed consumer chips, Taiwan and Samsung of South Korea are the last two standing when it comes to the cutting edge. Taiwanese chip manufacture will become as globally important as oil, and so any attempt by China to strangle Taiwan or invade will become far less tolerable. I don’t doubt that this will change the strategic calculation in Washington, not to mention Tokyo or London/Paris or other capitals. The question is whether Xi may calculate that now is the best time for an aggressive move.

    1. The Rev Kev

      But would China really attack Taiwan? I understand that last year China imported some $300 billion worth of chips and I would assume that a lot of them would have come from Taiwan. If that is so, China is more likely to defend Taiwan from attack than cause chaos by attacking it. Well, at least until they can master the black arts of manufacturing computer chips that is.

      Puts me in mind of an old James Bond film where the Russians helped him foil a plot to destroy Silicon Valley via triggering an earthquake. When asked at the end of the film why this was so, the Russian KGB General said ‘where do you think we get our technology from?’

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Yes, China would really attack Taiwan. A huge proportion of their military expenditure is aimed at this, and I’m not aware of any serious China analyst who doesn’t believe that China would use force if it deemed it politically necessary. China is entirely serious when it says that Taiwan is a renegade province and sees this as an internal matter, this is a very deeply held article of faith for the CCP. They see it as unfinished business from the Revolution.

        The fact that most of the Taiwanese population does not agree is entirely beside the point for Beijing.

        1. Ook

          “The fact that most of the Taiwanese population does not agree is entirely beside the point for Beijing.”

          Of course they don’t agree. They’re renegades. (rimshot)

          But seriously, my Taiwanese colleagues might value their de facto autonomous-region status, but they also value their connections with the mainland and are very pragmatic about maintaining these to further their careers.
          And a major reason for the aggressive stance of the mainland military is because of the aggressive presence of 30,000 American troops in Taiwan, there to protect US interests, not Taiwan interests.

        2. neo-realist

          I’ve read from some diplomatic and military sources in Taiwan that it’s a matter of mainland China reaching the necessary military superiority in order to proceed with an invasion, and it may not achieve such a level till near the end of the decade.

      2. ObjectiveFunction

        Unfortunately, I have no confidence that the CPC elite’s current experiment in ‘Meritocracy’ is going to create any more sober and enlightened decisionmaking than did:

        … America’s Best and Brightest of 1960 who were ‘passed the torch’ and then promptly groupthought us into Vietnam, suburbs/ghettos, and Unsafe at Any Speed (the original Crapification);

        ….or the European ‘send forth the best ye breed’ of bourgeois imperial administrators, classicists, eugenicists and polymaths all, who after taking fossil fuels to their apex promptly used that knowhow to shell and gas each other (and the children of their housekeepers and gardeners) into near extinction starting in 1914, leaving enough alive to start it all again in 1939.

        The Communist Party of China is now, what? 4 generations in? Xi and his ‘red prince’ cohort is in the 55-60 age range. 5-8 years old when Red Guards broke in and beat up their parents. Rode crappy bicycles to school in Zhongnangai in the Seventies. That was the last real privation they encountered: since 1980 or so it’s been silk suits, Wharton MBAs, and the endless echo chamber of Han supremacist self-congratulation.

        Sorry for the mini-rant, but yes, this Meritocracy appears perfectly capable of groupthinking that Taiwan is an intolerable threat and MUST bend the knee to the Mandate of Heaven (that would be the Party), or perish. And that America is too far gone to be arsed to intervene (they may be right about that, although I hope the Japanese/Koreans who have a lot of skin in this Great Game will likely talk the Blob around).

        **** I will relegate to footnote the sad precedent of China’s Ming mandarinate, the most selective meritocracy in known history, who managed to rule their own sacrosanct Han homeland for all of 400 years before losing it once again to fur wearing northern horsemen. A Confucian brains trust whose response to (uncontrollable) foreign trade was to scuttle the fleet and forcibly depopulate the coastal provinces.

        (Like that old joke about the two cows: Shoot both cows for heterodox deviation. Milk is banned)

        FWIW, I am thoroughly in the Edward Luttwak school of thought: Sun Tzu notwithstanding, as a group the Chinese are brilliant at pretty much every human endeavor EXCEPT strategy. A trait they unfortunately share with the equally capable, self-regarding (and surrounded) Germans.

        Nervous yet?

    2. Glen

      China and Taiwan are already cooperating in some chip fab joint technology ventures. I think it is much more likely that Taiwan will continue to develop a closer trading alliance with China as the China market grows and the US market slows.

      No need to invade.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        China has not been co-operating in tech ventures at the highest end of design, in fact China has been deliberately trying to undermine Taiwans industry, mostly by luring away its engineers. The context for this was Taiwans alarm at widespread Chinese industrial espionage in its industry, which led it to block a number of Chinese attempted mergers/takeovers. The gradual de-merging of previous Taiwanese investments in China has been ongoing for years.

        1. Glen

          Good to know!

          But I’ve also been involved in American manufacturing for 25 years, and China is not STEALING our jobs, American CEOs give them our jobs, factories, and technology.

          I’ve been saying for twenty years – what everybody finally learned due to CV (that we cannot make critical stuff in the USA) was very obvious to any of us in manufacturing.

    3. Alex Morfesis

      Didn’t made in Taiwan become made in China by and with the help of the China Lobby krewe ?? At the end of the day…has the world been played ?? Is there actually even a single strand of hair separating the old cks crowd from the mercantalist “fake red princelings” of the mainland ??

    4. Bill Smith

      These incursions would be a typical strategy to lull the Taiwanese into believing that any given incursion will be like all the past ones which amounted to nothing. Expect for the time it doesn’t.

      Has there been any talk of Biden rolling back the actions Trump took in regard to Taiwan over the last few months?

      Didn’t Biden invite the Taiwanese ‘ambassador’ to the US to the inauguration?

  7. The Rev Kev

    “Navalny protests: EU to consider ‘next steps’ after Russia carries out mass arrests”

    A Guardian headline that you will never read-

    “Capitol Hill protests: EU to consider ‘next steps’ after America carries out mass arrests”

    This whole thing has been engineered to stop the Nord Stream 2 pipeline from being completed and in fact this article says ‘EU lawmakers passed a resolution on Thursday calling for the bloc to stop the completion of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline as a response to Navalny’s arrest.’ By EU lawmakers, this article means the European Parliament which has a track record of being anti-Russian and are not always to be taken seriously.

    As an example, a fortnight ago the EU finally dropped all recognition of Greedo from Venezuela being that country’s leader as he wasn’t even part of the government anymore having been voted out. But then a week or so later, the European Parliament came out and said that Greedo is the legitimate interim President of Venezuela and welcomed new sanctions on Venezuela – in the middle of a pandemic. In other words, the European Parliament is a neocon clown college.

    1. John A

      The Observer (aka Sunday Guardian) architecture correspondent had a very long and ridiculous piece yesterday heavily and cringingly criticising the taste of uber evildoer Putin at his so-called Putin Palace as claimed by Navalny. No mention that the entire video is heavily photoshopped and clearly faked, such as the library where Navalny had clearly copy and pasted photos of Strahovská knihovna, the library in a Prague monastery.
      Look up the pictures in the link

    2. farragut

      I’m still struggling to understand why much of the EU/NATO would allow the US to deny them cheaper natural gas from Russia (via Nord Stream 2), in favor of more expensive LNG from the US. Any insight from the Commentariat would be appreciated.

      1. John A

        When the EU, at US behest introduced sanctions on Russia, Russia retaliated by blocking imports of various food stuffs from the EU. Apple farmers in Poland, peach farmers in France and Spain and various other farmers across the EU suffered huge losses because of that, yet the EU politicians, to a man and woman in the pocket of the US, simply shrugged and let the farmers take the financial hit and food rot in fields.
        This article in Strategic Culture website offers a fascinating insight into Denmark’s subservience to the US war machine.
        As in our neoliberal age, what is good for the people and in their best interests, is of no concern to politicians.

      2. Maxwell Johnston

        What matters most in the EU is what Berlin wants. Berlin wants Nord Stream 2, so it will happen. Maybe not in 2021, but it will eventually be completed and put into operation. Germany is committed to phasing out nukes and coal, so it really has little choice.

    1. Massinissa

      First they deflatformed the Socialists…

      Going to be a slough of these at some point. MAGA types and socialists will be the first to be deplatformed globally and then it will go further mainstream over time from there.

  8. PlutoniumKun

    China risks a Himalayan water war with India Asia Times

    As so often, this type of reporting is very confused. The map on this article shows a different dam, one already under construction on a tributary at Zangmu.

    I find it hard to believe that a dam of the claimed size could be built on the scale claimed – I don’t know the flow figures, but Tibet is very arid for most of the year and the Yarlung Zangbo/Brahmaputra is little more than a stream for much of the year. Plus there is simply no demand for the amount of energy claimed – it would be prohibitively expensive, even for the Chinese, to export all that power out of Tibet, or, for that matter, build up an industrial base in Tibet to use it. Ironically, the only real demand for that power would be in India and Bangladesh, both of which buy up all the power the Bhutanese can produce on their rivers, using far less destructive run-of-the-river hydroelectric schemes.

    So if the Chinese build a dam big enough to interfere with flows, it will be a political, not an economic move. Bangladesh would be the big loser, not India – Bangladesh is essentially the river delta of the Brahmaputra, any attempt to control its flow without a good reason would be pretty much a declaration of war on that country, not that they would be in a position to retaliate.

    So I suspect this is all part of a destabilisation strategy from China. Quite simply, they want to push the Indians as far as the can, to see if they will fold. They may also see a value in pushing Bangladesh towards an alliance with themselves and Pakistan, squeezing India further. Its no wonder the Indians are investing heavily in Sukhoi and Rafale strike aircraft.

    1. John

      The Chinese have always had a taste for megalomaniac infrastructure projects since the days of the Great Wall up to the recent Gorges dam project. The really wack proposal is to cut thru several mountain ranges and rechannel the river to eastern China. That for sure would start a war.
      Although a modest river in central Tibet, the Zangpo is rather vast as it approaches the border. And fed largely by slowly accrued glacier melt.
      Global warming is taking those glaciers out at an astounding pace.
      A dam or a war ain’t gonna solve that problem for any of the countries of East Asia.

    2. Lex

      I’ve pasted that in just for the figures in the larger picture of the Hindu Kush.

      ‘The Hindu Kush Himalaya encompass hundreds of the world’s most iconic mountains, hold over 30,000 square miles of glacier ice—more than anywhere else in the world besides the poles—and sustain 240 million people in their peaks and valleys. The mountain ranges also cradle the headwaters of rivers like the Indus, Ganges, and Brahmaputra that provide water to billions in the lowlands downstream.’

      ‘As the novel’s antagonist Baron Harkonnen explains: “He who controls Spice, controls the universe!”. (Spice was also called ‘the water of life’.)

      Or in this case, ‘Who controls the water, controls the planet’. The Chinese are about to have a huge problem on their hands. The snowpack is slowly disappearing with the heat of global warming. Two of the most populous countries in the world and a future with a diminishing water supply. Those dams also form reservoirs with the added bonus of being able to generate electricity… and that’s where I find the article confusing. I thought China had built huge solar arrays to meet their energy demands, now and in the future?

  9. The Rev Kev

    Mark Ames
    ‘The virus exposed our ruling classes as deranged failures—they’ll never forgive China for making them look bad.’

    I think that Mark Ames nailed it here. In the west we are seeing lockdown after lockdown while in Wuhan they have mass pool-parties. Remember too a year ago there was the discussion in the media if Coronavirus would only affect Asian peoples. But now because China got on top of the virus – for the moment – their economy is coming back as well as a lot of economic and social activity. The contrast is too stark and it is not only China that is having success tackling this pandemic but the failures do stand out. The UK, being an island group, could have shut their borders and gone after the virus inside but that never happened. The Brazilian strategy was ‘It’s just the flu, amigo’ but that hasn’t worked out either. The EU was insisting that the Schengen borders simply had to stay open because reasons. The Russians ignored the dangers too long and are now paying the price. But there are a few countries that make world elites look bad but China will be the target because they are an easy choice to rabble rouse people against them rather than the elites.

    1. Pelham

      Who benefits from the global spread of covid? And where did the virus originate? Or should we not even ask such questions?

      1. Temporarily Sane

        Go ahead and ask those questions but if you are implying that COVID19 is being spread deliberately you need to furnish evidence to back up that claim.

        Seeing grand conspiracies behind every notable event has become very popular. But making a conspiracy claim when there is no compelling evidence to back it up is lazy thinking at best. And, no, pointing out irregularities, contradictions and coincidences in official ‘narratives’ does not prove that an event is “fake” or a false-flag.

        Similarly, asking cui bono? is fine but knowing, for example, that the 9/11 attacks helped the Bush administration sell its wars to the public isn’t proof that it was a staged event.

        When considering if a conspiracy is responsible for an event, a good way to stay grounded in reality is by asking yourself how a good police detective would go about testing that claim. Or pretend that you are accused of a crime. Would you be happy if the standards of evidence used to “prove” most popular conspiracy theories were applied to your case?

        It has become de rigueur to dismiss any and all challenges to establishment approved narratives as “conspiracy theories” and this too is extremely disingenuous. Uncritically assuming that official accounts of major happenings are the absolute truth or that conspiracies never happen is just as silly as assuming everything is a conspiracy.

        Jumping to conclusions and desperately seeking certainty is rarely a good substitute for critical, evidence-based analysis.

        1. Procopius

          And, no, pointing out irregularities, contradictions and coincidences in official ‘narratives’ does not prove that an event is “fake” or a false-flag.

          Sometimes the “irregularities, contradictions, and coincidences in official narratives” are so blatant and so numerous that, when they are not addressed, Occam’s Razor is satisfied by “conspiracy.” I’m thinking particularly of the Skripal case, but the Navalny case has some similarities; so do the cases of alleged “poison gas attacks” in Syria.

    2. a fax machine

      2.3% yoy growth is not “coming back” for China’s economy. Western economists might (now) salivate at the thought of any growth, but the fact remains China’s economy needs about 10% yoy to function without trouble and the gov’t target of 7.25% was already pushing the limits of what the system can handle. In that regard, the same idea of simply banning investors from selling bad stock would arise and prop markets up (amongst other ideas). Pre-Covid things were slipping under 5% and now it’s not even half that. Someone is cooking the books. This is the same government that somehow manages to have blackouts despite having a socialized, state-run utility that lacks the incompetent bean counters western utilities do. The doctors’ arrests, censorship and untimely deaths indicate something rotten within China’s government, where competent people are removed if they provide truths inconvenient to the official state policy. This is a demonstration of poor government, no matter how many concerts are put on.

      It’s evidence that China’s government is openly lying about the pandemic’s real numbers now and the images we see out of Wuhan are either faked, not real, or carefully cropped to omit anything negative about Beijing.

      Australia is a better model for competence, although they are much smaller.

    3. Roland

      The PRC screwed up big time at the start of the epidemic. But to their credit, once they understood that they faced catastrophe, they reacted accordingly.

      While PRC’s screwup rapidly became, thanks to globalization, the whole world’s problem, the fact remains that if the whole world had done what PRC did, this crisis would be over by now, at a fraction of the cost, both human and material.

  10. JWP

    An update on the modern econ discipline:

    Published in 2019, my Public Finance course textbook holds the following statement in the introduction chapter: “The government debt must be financed by borrowing from either citizen’s of one’s own local or national area, or by borrowing from citizens of other nations.” Proceeded by a page about the government and households having the same budgetary styles. Nowhere does it mention why a deficit would be bad or how money even enters society via the banking system. So how can the textbook make any further legitimate claims until it addresses how money enters the economy, and what the macro ramifications are once it starts circulating?

    This is where school gets concerning. When we are tested on this material that has been proven false and misleads the public. To some extent it is forceful indoctrination and to another, it’s just experiencing corruption firsthand. Hopefully there will be tolerance for open minds.

    1. JWP

      A bonus! One of the healthcare chapter subheadings is: Why is insurance so generous in the United States?

      1. Rod

        Find out who is on the Textbook Selection Committee and write them with your very simple Question:

        So how can the textbook make any further legitimate claims until it addresses how money enters the economy, and what the macro ramifications are once it starts circulating?

        Leave it at that–very simple. After finding out who is sitting on your Univ. Board of Trustees, as well as your Department’s Board–then find your Student Board Rep and those Reps with Economics backgrounds and copy them in on your Letter asking for Clarification.
        If you can find an affiliated Conflict of Interest(did the Professor or Department write, contribute or have Publisher ties) to highlight that would be a bonus.

        I mean, you are their ‘Customer’ nowadays–right–so you should have standing– ;-|

    2. ambrit

      In any ‘entrenched’ institution, there is never “tolerance for open minds.”
      Over my lifetime, I have seen several truly original minds shut out of academic “success.”
      Max Planck, an original thinker if there ever was one, said it best: “Science progresses one funeral at a time.”

  11. Zelda

    California governor Gavin Newsom lifted the statewide Shelter In Place order today. Guess he’s seen his political career flash before his eyes with the unpopular lock-downs and small business destruction.
    He was the next San Francisco, regional, state to federal level mediocrity destined for great things in D.C., like Kamala Haggis.

    Over 2/3rds of the voter signatures needed to recall him have been gathered. As soon as the weather gets better, time to get out there, set up the card table and help gather the other 1/3.

    1. kgw

      Poor Gavin…Betwixt the Virus and Standing Up To The Capitalists. If the U.S. had done the right thing (supplying 3/4 of the normal income to all) , the poor guy wouldn’t be in this dilemma.

  12. flora

    re: The Muzzling of America – NYPost, Josh Hawley

    Thanks for the link.
    This is from the foreword to Martin Gurri’s book The Revolt of the People.

    Reading this book made me realize that democratized information poses a dilemma for society. If the public loses patience and respect for government, the result would be disintegration. If elites choose to dig in, they are likely to resort to repression.

    The digital age has given us a new democratization of knowledge. Now it seems the big tech platforms want to put that democratizing genie back in the bottle.

    See for example, this from Greenwald:

    “The framework of aggressive Silicon Valley cens*rship which liberals in conjunction with journalists demanded be imposed to silence right-wing voices has predictably been unleashed on numerous left-wing voices with particular aggression over the last several months:”

    1. WJ

      Makes a lot of sense to me. The real reason why establishment politicians and corporate media want to throttle non-corporate and independent outlets of information is that things work much more smoothly for them if they can successfully herd the populace through media triangulation and manipulation.

      Bernays (genius and author of *Public Relations*) thought this sort of thing would be *required* if democratic polities were to have any coherence on the large scale. The idea of a mostly invisible elite quietly working the levers of the press backstage in order to move the people in whatever direction they please is the unspoken assumption of the actual practice of journalism in the U.S. and has been for a hundred years.

  13. Jason Boxman

    From Stat:

    Asymptomatic coronavirus infection is not necessarily benign. Several studies have reported abnormal lung scans in those infected without symptoms, as well as myocarditis, a type of heart inflammation. The long-term health implications of asymptomatic infection aren’t known.

    It’s still astonishing to me that we don’t select a random sample from the huge pool of those we’ve tested positive, and provide free X-ray tests, so we can see across the population what kind of damage might exist to the lungs. Not to mention whatever other followup tests might make sense, particularly for those that might test positive without any symptoms.

    There could be a huge body of valuable information there, just waiting. I can’t be alone in thinking this. Maybe this has been conducted already, but I don’t recall reading about it anywhere in the general news media.

    1. Rod

      I can’t be alone in thinking this.

      Doing a little line lingering chat about this with my fav Food Lion cashier last week when she said about the same thing—so great minds think alike i guess…

    2. ambrit

      If such a study were to be done, I’d expect it to happen ‘overseas.’
      The Insurance Industry and Big Pharma has it’s hooks too deeply sunk into the body politic of America to allow much in the way of intellectually free publically funded research.
      A real world example.
      When Phyl was fighting off the melanoma cancer several years ago, we took a trip over to Houston, to the U of T MD Anderson Cancer Center, to look into her participating in one of several anti-cancer drug research trials. All of the trials then open were experimenting with different types of “drug cocktails” utilizing one main substance, which Phyl had already been “treated” with and had had a bad response to. All of these trials were “sponsored” by large Pharma concerns. Other trials using other ‘substances’ were not open. No information concerning other types of experimental treatments were forthcoming from the “officials” we encountered at this institution. Even information concerning alternative main stream trials that we knew to be extant in the wild. Looking back at it now, I am convinced that we encountered there an example of an ‘Institutional Hive Mind.’
      YHMMV? (Your Hive Mind Might Vary?)
      Indeed, I am tempted to interject that this is an example of the “Hive Mind Principle, a corollary to Heisenberg’s Principle of Uncertainty. the HVM Certainty Principle

    3. Pelham

      Yes! What are the percentages of people who had mild or asymptomatic Covid and now suffer possibly irreversible damage to vital organs? Not only should we determine this proportion but we also should highlight it right up there with death rates.

      Actually, I’d argue for making it the main story. Only 1 in 100 or 200 people may die of Covid but what if half of them are permanently impaired and require ongoing medical intervention for the rest of their lives? Right now, this looms as my greatest fear of the disease.

    4. drumlin woodchuckles

      Maybe the authorities don’t want such information to even be gathered, lest it become widely known.

      Because if asymptomatic coronavid left behind a trail of perma-damage, people might insist upon a fully subsidized full lockdown until the virus was exterminated from human existence.

  14. jr

    Field Report: A bit of good news in NYS?

    So about five months back, after wasting five minutes listening to the legal threats that fraud carries with it on the NYS unemployment phone-line, I was crisply informed that my benefits had expired. I was expecting it but it sucked. Visa was pretty cool with it though.

    About a month and a half ago, my girlfriend told me to check into benefits again because a friend of hers had been enjoying extended benefits. After some wrangling I discovered that I did have benefits left, or they had been extended after the original expiration had passed. Whatever, it’s welcome income but in NYS, if you work one (1) hour a day that counts as a workday and you lose your benefits from one of the four (4) eligible days. I do work a few hours a week and it was up to halving the amount I received for my claim. How this can possibly be justified is beyond me, if I make 5$ helping a friend I lose around 60$ in benefits. See, this is why I hate math.

    Well, I got an email the other day that there was going to be a change in how part-time unemployment is calculated. My heart stopped briefly. This is going to suck.

    Except it doesn’t, I don’t think. Now when you sign on they ask you exactly how many hours you work per day, per week and is it under something like 545$. Since I generally work around three hours a week and well below that amount I qualify as working zero (0) hours in the much more liberal arrangement. I believe will receive my full weekly benefit check.

    I say I don’t think because I’m going to see what hits my ATM card in a day or so. It’s been off before, weirdly. I didn’t get paid one week. I got a message that my identity may have been compromised and to change my password. I did so then looked around. My record of filing was incorrect when I check the transactions history but it claimed I hadn’t filed when I had. No money was lost.

    I emailed my Vet rep at the Dept. of Labor and was told he doesn’t have any access to any information. Unlike my last Vet rep who did. She got me filed and ready to go back when COVID broke. This guy just sends out an email once every two months telling me about a job as a head cook in a halfway home for mentally challenged ex cons or some such. Literally.

    It’s such a confusing mess. It’s turned up heads for me at the moment but no one told me I still had benefits after telling me I was “expired”. I have my plucky lady to thank for that. In another guy’s shoes, one without a VISA card, I could have lost everything in the time I wasn’t claiming. The fact that suddenly one hour of work doesn’t equal one day of work in NYS is great both from a mathematical as well as an ethical perspective but how the hell did it get that way in the first place?

    1. Pelham

      Good grief! You shouldn’t have had to jump through any of those hoops.

      I was briefly on unemployment a few years ago in Illinois. I had been working steadily for about 35 years. A rational person in a rational world would expect that with an unblemished record like that, a decent state apparatus would simply hand over the benefit, no questions asked.

      Of course, that didn’t happen. I was treated like a criminal, as I’m sure every other jobless soul was at that time, a period of high unemployment. I can’t say I was surprised. Just monumentally disgusted.

  15. Chauncey Gardiner

    Regarding the link to the FT article on the rebalancing of the US economy, Robert Hockett posted an article last week regarding directing the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) to require national banks channel “bank money” – which is the majority of all public money created – into publicly beneficial, productive and reconstructive projects and businesses rather than into mergers, acquisitions and speculations in the financial markets. In my own view this would be good policy, but would need to be implemented gradually given the speculative imbalances that have built up over time, derivatives exposures at systemically important financial institutions, and related fragility of the system.–and-why-does-it-matter/?sh=4cb552c8717a

    Might not be such a bad thing to appoint someone like Hockett as head of the OCC.

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