Links 2/10/2021

Texas lawyer, trapped by cat filter on Zoom call, informs judge he is not a cat Guardian

Conundrum over what to do with growing population of Pablo Escobar’s hippos Euronews

Blue glass beads in Alaska’s tundra Polarjournal

Decentralized Finance: On Blockchain- and Smart Contract-Based Financial Markets Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis

Fossil fuel pollution causes one in five premature deaths globally: study Reuters (pre-proof).


Op-Ed: #ZeroCOVID or #HarmReduction? MedPage Today. “As I write this, the 7-day average for new cases exceeds 100,000 per day in the United States. Vaccination now exceeds a million doses a day, but a non-trivial portion of the population is not eligible for vaccination (i.e., <16 years old) or is reluctant to be vaccinated. In the absence of drastic measures, I do not see a path to #ZeroCOVID in the U.S.” IOW, if the West generally had not exercised what Michael Hudson calls “veto power” on #ZeroCovid, the United States would have ended up doing so by itself.

What If We Never Reach Herd Immunity? The Atlantic (Re Silc).

J&J CEO says people may need annual Covid vaccine shots for the next several years CNBC

Covid-19: Social murder, they wrote—elected, unaccountable, and unrepentant British Medical Journal

* * *

‘What other variants might be out there?’ An expert on viral evolution on what’s happening with coronavirus mutations STAT

What we know about the most troublesome Covid mutations FT

* * *

What is ‘vaccine nationalism’ and why is it so harmful? Al Jazeera

Vaccine Hesitancy vs. Vaccine Refusal: Nursing Home Staffers Say There’s a Difference KHN

How You Make an Adenovirus Vaccine Derek Lowe, “In the Pipeline,” Science

Necessity of 2 Doses of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 Vaccines JAMA

One of the giant vaccine players pushes back against a ‘fundamental shift’ spurred by mRNA. But is the CEO just whistling past the graveyard? Endpoints

* * *

Coronavirus unlikely to have leaked from China lab, WHO team says Los Angeles Times. Live blog of presser:

Evidence for SARS-CoV-2 related coronaviruses circulating in bats and pangolins in Southeast Asia Nature

* * *

Antibodies elicited by SARS-CoV-2 infection and boosted by vaccination neutralize an emerging variant and SARS-CoV-1 (preprint) medRxiv. From the Abstract: “Here we examined whether sera and monoclonal antibodies from convalescent donors, prior to and following a single immunization with the Pfizer or Moderna mRNA vaccines, neutralize the Wuhan-Hu-1 strain and a variant, B.1.351 from South Africa. Pre-vaccination sera weakly neutralized Wuhan-Hu-1 and sporadically neutralized B.1.351. Immunization with either vaccine generated anamnestic B and CD4+ T cell responses and a 1000-fold increase in neutralizing antibody titers against both strains and SARS-CoV-1.”

Rapid coronavirus tests: a guide for the perplexed Nature

Conspiracy theory doctor surrenders medical license Cal Matters


China’s Recovery Points to Lunar New Year Boost for Gold Demand Bloomberg

Chinese users flock to Clubhouse app to debate Xinjiang and Taiwan FT but unsurprisingly Mainland China users of Clubhouse app say experiencing internet access disruptions Reuters

China’s CanSino Covid Vaccine Shows 65.7% Efficacy Bloomberg

China is marching closer to a population crisis Quartz (Re Silc).

Hanging Out (to dry) in Hong Kong Angela Tam

The best course for Biden is to help Taiwan help itself Reponsible Statecraft


Myanmar anti-coup protests resume despite bloodshed The Rappler

What can workers expect in post-coup Myanmar? FocaalBlog

Resisting The Temptation To Intervene In Burma The American Conservative. It’s not clear to me how far the protests have penetrated outside the cities (modulo Shan warlords). Myanmar is 70% rural.

EXPLAINER: How are the Myanmar protests being organized? ABC

Hillary Clinton: Aaron Sorkin’s ‘West Wing’ Studied by Burma’s New Government (Video). Hollywood Reporter, from 2012. So there’s your problem.

Vaccine Diplomacy Is Biden’s First Test in Southeast Asia Center for Strategic and International Studies. It’s madness that the US is not doing this.

The Koreas

North Korea developed nuclear, missile programs in 2020: U.N. report Reuters

Between Seoul And Sole Purpose: How The Biden Administration Could Assure South Korea And Adapt Nuclear Posture War on the Rocks

COVID-19: Cats and dogs to get free coronavirus tests in South Korea’s capital Sky News. That’s because South Korea is a First World country.


Indian police arrest man suspected of leading farm protest violence Reuters

Authoritarianism and resistance in India The Tempest (part one).

Twitter Yields, Blocks Access to Hundreds of India Accounts Bloomberg


As demand for vaccines plummets, Israel may resort to incentive programs Times of Israel

Sergeant wants a girl who looks at him like Joint Chiefs look at Afghanistan Duffel Blog. The deck: “When the Joint Chiefs look at Afghanistan, it’s a look that says ‘I’ll never leave you.'”

Bolsonaro’s Neoliberal Disaster: An Interview With Esther Dweck Brasilwire


OpenLux : the secrets of Luxembourg, a tax haven at the heart of Europe Le Monde. In English.

The Crony Ratio”: £800 Million In Covid Contracts To Donors Who Have Given £8 Million To Conservatives Byline Times. Impressive ROI.

Leaked NHS Reform Plan Could See Reduced Role for Private Sector MedScape

Director of France’s elite Sciences Po steps down over Duhamel abuse scandal Politico

New Cold War

Say hello to Alexei Navalny’s libertarian multimillionaire backer Yasha Levine, Immigrants as a Weapon


4 takeaways from Day One of Trump’s second impeachment trial WaPo. “The day concluded with a significant vote on whether the Senate had jurisdiction to hold this trial. The result indicated Trump’s conviction is no more likely today than it was yesterday…. Only one Republican voted that the Senate had jurisdiction after previously voting the trial was unconstitutional: Cassidy. McConnell voted that it didn’t. In the end, 44 GOP senators voted not to move forward.”

‘My Cousin Vinny’: Trump legal team panned Agence France Presse (Furzy Mouse). “My cousin Vinnie” won, actually.

Trump’s Impeachment Trial Offers a Chance to Seize the Initiative on the Future of Free Speech The New Yorker. “The brief’s weakness on the First Amendment issue signals a loss of clarity among Democrats and liberals about the unqualified defense of free speech.” No kidding. Has anybody made the “yelling theatre in a crowded fire” joke yet?

“The First Amendment Does Not Apply”: A Response To The Letter Of Scholars In Rejecting Trump Arguments Under The First Amendment Jonathan Turley

No Ordinary Lie Commonweal

Biden Transition

Biden administration plans to continue to seek extradition of WikiLeaks’ Assange: official Reuters. Reassuring continuity.

A Rotating Group of Intelligence Analysts Will Brief President Biden NYT. Supervised by one Morgan Muir. Same.

Senators deleted defense bill provision intended to combat violent extremism in the military Stars and Stripes

Our Famously Free Press

WaPo Curates the Memory of George Shultz FAIR

The Beltway Media Is Manufacturing Consent David Sirota, The Daily Poster. Film at 11.

Realignment and Legitimacy

Trumpian conspiracy theories come from unresolved issues of the Civil War: Matthew Dowd USA Today

Class Warfare

Who Spent Their Last Stimulus Checks? NYT. Are the checks for stimulus? Or relief? If the latter, is it so very bad that the working class might end up with a little money in the bank, for once?

Can human judgment handle avalanches? High Country News

Tom Brady and the vindication of age over youth FT

Antidote du jour (via):

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. Follow the Money

    Navalny and his libertarian backers: so they have discussed privatization of the Russian energy infrastructure? No wonder this Navalny is loved by the West.

    1. Polar Socialist

      They pretty much did privatize the Russian energy sector during the Yeltsin years. There was a notorious shares-for-loans program, that allowed already rich or well positioned actors to become actual oligarchs by becoming majority shareholders in energy companies.

      Then, between 2003 and 2006 (or so) a lot of this companies were de-privatized by charging the oligarchs with tax evasion, embezzlement and what ever the inspectors could find out, giving them prison sentences and declaring bankruptcies – which transferred the companies back to the state ownership.

      Quite a many of these former oligarchs now live abroad and hate Putin to their very core. It’s been rumored that in the summer of 2000, Putin had a big shashlik party with the oligarchs, where he told them that as long as they paid their taxes and didn’t push their neoliberal policies (many of them “owned” parlamentarians), state and the oligarchs could co-exist.

      Some, like Khodorkovsky did not heed, so he was thrown to prison and Yukos (the biggest Russian oil company at the time) was taken away from him and given to Rosneft, owned by the governement. Same happened apparently with Chichvarkin, mentioned in the Levine article, who was forced to sell his company and leave the country or go to jail.

      1. Alex

        While this is true, the important twist to this story is that Putin’s friends from his college or from the St Petersburg administration ended up owners or top managers of key companies (Rosneft, Gazprom, StroyGazMontazh).

        1. The Rev Kev

          Not quite. The important twist to this story is that Khodorkovsky did not succeed in selling Siberian oil & gas fields, owned by Yukos, to the US in a planned auction. If that had happened, Washington would have had a death-grip on the Russian economy forever and a day and permanently crippled it. George Bush tried to have some judge in Texas have a say in proceedings as Khodorkovsky tried to put his bankruptcy through a Texas court but eventually it was thrown out.

          1. Alex

            Yes, that was definitely a consideration. I’m not a fan of Khodorkovsky or of anyone who took part in the privatisation in the 90s.

          2. Sibiryak

            Interesting, I never heard of that planned auction. Could you please point me to where I can read up on it?

            1. The Rev Kev

              Memory on the finer details are a bit fuzzy after nearly twenty years but it was going to be a sale more than an auction to the US. Details are hard to find on Google now but note that after Khodorkovsky was arrested, he was succeeded by Simon Kukes, a Russian-born American in 2003 and a few months later he was replaced by Steven Theede, a US oil executive.

              This was in the era when you had Cheney do a smash-and-grab for Iraq to take its oil reserves and no doubt he had his eye on Russian oil reserves as well. And I do remember reading stories at the time talking about Khodorkovsky planning to sell out Russian oil reserves and then becoming just another overseas, wealthy oligarch among a host of others.

              Even now it is still not over as Dutch courts are demanding that Russia pay back Yukos shareholders some $50 billion they reckoned that is owned but this is just lawfare and the Russians have told them nyet. Here is a video to remind you what this era was like with Cheney and oil-

     (5:29 mins)

              1. Sibiryak

                Well, that took quite a bit of research, but I find this quite fascinating. It seems that what you remember was partially correct.

                Overall best English source:

                For interpreting the events, I also found quite a few sources in Russian. I believe that all put their own spin on things, but the basic facts are there.

                My conclusion is that you remember correctly and there was a deal planned with the lovely Bush-Cheneys, who at the time were enriching themselves with oil wars and other acts of questionable ethics and legality. The deal would have probably made Khodorkovsky, already an enemy of Putin at the time, too powerful for Putin to handle, while introducing US big business interests into the Russian oil industry, which was most of the economy. Only Putin himself knows for sure how much he cared about the second part, but him remaining in power certainly dependent on the keeping Khodorkovsky in check.

                Where I disagree with you is on Khodorkovsky becoming just another overseas wealthy oligarch. From what I have gathered, he was planning to use his money to wrestle power away from Putin and take Russia in his own direction, likely one with much deeper ties to the West.

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        Washington wants to go back to the “glory” days, and Navalny is likely the last person DC can get to return their calls. The clowns have been rounded up or are in the West, and “reformers” of any stripe likely aren’t as enamored of the West as Russians once were. Even if the crooks toppled Putin, how long would they last, a week? Genuine reformers are likely under no illusions.

    2. Alex

      The post is subscriber-only so I couldn’t read it, but Chichvarkin is a former owner of a network of shops selling mobile phones and accessories. By the standards of Russian billionaires he’s definitely a small fish. I find it highly unlikely that he has any connection with past of future privatisation of anything.

      For that matter, the guys who did take part in the privatisation of energy infrastructure mostly get along great with the Russian government (Abramovich, Alekperov, Chubais, Fedun) or are Putin’s pals from the 90s (like Gazprom’s Miller)

  2. SKM

    thanks very much for the BMJ “social murder” article. Really glad to see someone addressing this matter. If we add to this the wilful ignoring of the now overwhelming evidence about the consequences of widespread inadequate vitamin D levels in the face of a pandemic of a respiratory virus (ANY respiratory virus, but especially Sars-CoV-2), we have an open and shut case. Our health authorities are actually recommending that the population supplement with 10 mcg vitamin D for all ages and body weights!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! All replacement hormone doses are dependent on body mass, obviously. Rolling out this recomendation is worse than saying nothing re vitamin D, for obvious reasons.
    Our dear leaders are guilty of criminal negligence and for the (avoidable) deaths of tens of thousands to say nothing of even greater numbers of people condemned to months and possibly years of ill health.
    Hope someone thinks of a way we can hold them accountable…… (I`m not holding my breath)

    1. Patrick

      I’m a bit confused by your post as it regards Vitamin D. Can you elaborate? I have read reports of studies that show a majority of COVID deaths are associated with Vitamin D deficiency. Thanks!

      1. dermotmoconnor

        Patrick, my understanding is that the UK authorities are recommending 400 IU per day in their handouts to the elderly. 4000 IU is closer the mark, and you could / should go higher with very deficient people. Handing out tiny volumes is dooming the process to fail, they can then claim “see we tried, it did nothing”.

        1. Patrick

          Dermotmoconnor, thank you for the assist. (Guess I’m on the right track taking 5000 IU daily.) .All the best!

          1. Patrick

            I guess the 400 IU policy could be filed under “neoliberal assault on the NHS”. And when the policy fails, it will be used as an example of NHS shortcoming to justify privatization.

    2. ProNewerDeal

      I recall reading that Dr Fauci admitted in an interview he takes 6000 IU Vitamin D3 personally.

      Why doesn’t Fauci ever note that Vitamin D3 should be taken by the public?

      IMHO it seems very possible that Wall $treet, other 0.1%ers & their puppets including Trump, Biden/Harris, & Fauci sociopathically desire to kill more 65+ age cohort to reduce Social Security/Medicare costs.

      1. J7915

        Think of all the real estate that would come on the market. Lest we forget the housing units, apartments, in NYC that would come off the rent control and rent stabilized rolls.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > I recall reading that Dr Fauci admitted in an interview he takes 6000 IU Vitamin D3 personally.

        I can’t find an interview, or a “print” source that gives the dose. This seems to be the source for the claim:

        (Click through for video.) It wasn’t easy to find. Thank heavens the email was at the beginning, so I didn’t have to listen to an entire video to find one nugget.

  3. The Rev Kev

    “As demand for vaccines plummets, Israel may resort to incentive programs”

    Wait. I have an incentive program for Israel. Simply tell those hesitant or refusing to take the vaccine that if they don’t, then they will ship those vaccines next door where there are five million people more than willing to take them. Then step back and see what happens next.

    1. zagonostra

      Good psyops Rev., But I think what is happening here is more effective.

      Manufacture false scarcity to create an unnatural demand. Reports on how the rich and the privileged are getting ahead in the line for vaccines, stir up outrage (the gov’t has the power under the War powers act to intervene and ramp up production if it wanted to).

      I don’t think it will ease the distrust in this country created by historical precedents among colored people who remember Tuskegee experiments or the Supreme Court stated in Buck vs. Bell, or the eugenics that elites were so keen on and that Hitler took inspiration from.

      Maybe the citizens in Israel know something we don’t.

      1. The Rev Kev

        The Tuskegee experiments? Don’t forget Operation Big Buzz. Only heard of that one the other day which caused ‘Black Savannahians Haunted by Memory of US Military Mosquito Experiment’-

        No mentioned is made to similar programs like Operation Drop Kick and Operation May Day. Somebody really hated Georgia back then.

          1. JBird4049

            Yes and no. It usually is class, but when, where, and who also counts, and at least in the United States you can add racism for that extra, tasty evil.

            I don’t think of it as a binary on/off, yes/no, black/white issue. It’s cumulative. The richer you are the better you are treated, and the poorer you are the worst you are treated, regardless of race.

            But regardless of your class, the whiter you are the better you will be treated in relation to that class, and the darker you are the worst you will be treated. Unfortunately, with the police and other people with itchy trigger fingers, that can determine whether you live or die, regardless of class.

            Again, all the possibility of being experimented on was also influenced by when it occurred. The greater the bigotry, the number of disposables increased. People might not see it, but all the bigotries especially race, sex, and sexual orientation have really diminished. Yes, it is there, but seriously…

            The Irish and the Italians did not get the White Card until the early 20th century, while lynching Blacks as SOP ended in the 60s and redlining in the early 70s Women sometimes had trouble getting her own bank account because she was a woman into the 1970s. Sporadic gay bashing complete with beatings up into the late 80s in the Bay Area. Then there is being disabled and how different disabilities got you treated differently.

            Being poor, Black, a convict, a woman, disabled or a just nuisance made the possibilities of lobotomized, sterilized, and imprisoned in a mental institution all real until about 1970 or so. With California being one of the last states to end such practices. Being White, wealthy, and completely not disabled in anyway, and at the same time, was the only way to guarantee none of this happening.

            So, how would a Black man have been treated in the (God help him) 1920s compared to today? Or a woman in the 1930s or 1970s or today? A poor person in the 1960s or today? A disabled person? Or gay? Then think about how just likely he or she would have been experimented on. And what about convicts? Sterilizations and medical experiments were legal often without even the knowledge of the victim until IIRC about 1970 depending on the state.

            All these categories of people were experimented on because of who they were in the past. The more despised they were, the more likely they would be experimented on. The further in the past we go, the more likely that they would be despised or not respected. Today, it would almost be all about class, but in the past, not so much.

            Of course, that could change. Just think of ICE and their hysterectomies and then there the California prisons’ semi-forced, definitely illegal, sterilizations of women I read about every decade or so. It gets exposed and stopped only to reappear elsewhere. I would bet real money that… unauthorized… experimentation being done somewhere in an American prison or jail right now.

            Like life, it’s complicated.

            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              > Yes and no. It usually is class, but when, where, and who also counts, and at least in the United States you can add racism for that extra, tasty evil.

              I have never been able to get the metaphor right, but I think of it as a one-two punch. The first punch that immobilizes you is class, and the second, the punch that takes you down, is which ascriptive identity weakens you the most.

              1. JBird4049

                The one-two punch is good. I almost went with using DnD with its stats and roll modifications. It is too easy to think of these problems as either/or answers, which is why I sometimes post these overly long rebuttals or explanations. I don’t know of any other good ways to do it.

                1. JBird4049

                  If else knows of another way to explain how class and identities interact, would be grateful; the more ways I have to see, the better chance of, not winning an argument because that just ego boosting, but of getting someone to see a different angle or of different possibles.

                  However, that only works when the other person wants to listen and possibly learn or teach something.

                  Far too much of “debate” or just conversation has become exhausting and frustrating; either the other person believes that if you believe in x you must be abc.

                  Then there are the pod people phenomenon. The sane, reasoning, and intelligent person starts ranting about the Moon is made of cheese, and not just any cheese, it’s that evil Limburger.

                  I know that I must have my own blind spots and triggers, I hope that I try to be aware of them. It is just that you cannot, can not have a reasonable conversation about an increasing number of topics. All I can do is slide in something that will not get me labeled as a Bad One. But they either can’t or refuse to see (not wrong because you can be crazy and right) just how programed they are.

                  So at the end of this long post, if anyone has some suggestions, and not just about class and identity, I’d be happy to listen.

  4. Valiant Johnson

    RE: Cats + Dogs get free tests in S. Korea.
    No such thing as a first world country.
    It goes like this.
    Mercury, Venus then Earth.
    We are all third world countries.

  5. TomDority

    One take away from yesterdays impeachment proceedings – came from Trump’s defense team (Castor from my neck of the woods haha) That being – federal criminal charges should be made against Trump, that the impeachment trial is a civil trial with only the removal from office and inability to hold public office or position of profit as penalties and….even if aquitted or guilty of impeachable offense, it does not relieve Trump of liability and judicial trial – At least that is how I understand it… that no double jepordy applies … Is my understanding correct??
    If so, any scuttlebutt regarding a prosecution for federal and state crimes?

    1. David

      Suggest also reading the Jonathan Turly post as well. As noted “If the case is so clear and “powerful” as these experts allege, charge him. However, I expect many are concerned with testing such claims when Trump could prevail in the federal courts – an act that would be viewed as a vindication for not just that case but the impeachment itself.”

  6. zagonostra

    >George Shultz

    I remember watching him on the MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour on PBS in the 80’s and always being struck by his measured poker-face delivery and being impressed. I got an eye opener yesterday by reading some of the background on his contributions that set the precedent for much that is wrong with the U.S. economy/culture.

    I know the LaRouche organization is tainted and considered persona non grata among enlightened liberals, but below segment is a good counter narrative to what the WaPo is reporting and provides some good background history and bibliographical information.

    (The title says it all “George Shultz Has Died: May the “Free Market” Economic System He Imposed Be Buried with Him”)

    1. Maritimer

      George may have been “poker-faced” but he couldn’t have been much of a poker player. He was suckered in by Elizabeth Holmes in the Theranos scandal. The documentary about this fraud is a real shocker.

      His grandson Tyler Schultz tried to blow the whistle:
      “Twenty-five-year-old Tyler Shultz made the most significant decision of his professional career to date in 2015. The Stanford graduate, two years out of school, had worked at Theranos, a booming biotech startup, for only eight months before he quit in April 2014.

      In that short time, he had learned the truth — that the company founded by Elizabeth Holmes was fraudulent. In October 2015, he blew the whistle.”

      Tyler had little success convincing Grandad that there was a problem with Theranos and Liz. There are two books and the documentary about Theranos. A real case study of America gone wrong. Very germane to today since it involves health fraud.

  7. The Rev Kev

    “Conundrum over what to do with growing population of Pablo Escobar’s hippos”

    I would go for a .375 H&H Magnum solution before they get out of hand. And a telescopic sight too as who wants to face a charging hippo? Hippos kill about 500 people in Africa each and every year as they are so aggressive and though the locals might be a bit fond of them because of tourist dollars, it is only a matter of time as numbers increase that they start killing some of the locals. They already have to put up a sign to warn school kids. If not stopped, they could very well destroy the local habitat for other animals too. Nope. They gotta go.

    1. cocomaan

      There was, at one time, a plan to bring hippos to Louisiana for ranching and, eventually, racing. This is a great article on the interesting (insane/narcissistic) people who thought about doing it:

      W. N. Irwin, the Agriculture Department bureaucrat—the old man who had told The Washington Post, “I hope to live long enough to see herds of these broad-backed beasts wallowing in the Southern marshes and rivers, fattening on the millions of tons of food which awaits their arrival; to see great droves of white rhinoceri … roaming over the semiarid desert wastes, fattening on the sparse herbage which these lands offer; to see herds of the delicate giraffe, the flesh of which is the purest and sweetest of any known animal, browsing on the buds and shoots of young trees in preparation for the butchers block”

      1. Eustache de Saint Pierre

        I have a photo from 1963 of the equivalent of the Simpson’s going on safari in Kenya, which shows me, my family & a squaddie landrover driver standing in the bush in front of the vehicle. I was only 4 years old & all I remember is my Mother freezing on the spot at the sight of what looked like large post holes in the baked mud, with what appeared to be a large muddy pool around I think 30 yards in the background. Her intuitive fear hit me like a shot & probably everybody else as we all wasted no time in getting the hell out of there.

        My Father later gained respect of the wildlife when a male elephant in must after sweeping a 3 tonner Army truck into a deep ravine, forced the rest of the column into a nail biting reverse along what was a narrow road part way down that ravine – the Africans had sensibly legged it at the first sight of the tusker.

        The Simpson’s ” Nice Grizzly, nice grizzly ” episode brought back the memory of the above & after some research I realised how right my Mother was.

        1. cocomaan

          My wife tutored an immigrant from Senegal once who said that the kids lived in mortal fear of walking to and from school because of the hippos.

          I also once met someone at a university who was later killed by an African bull elephant on a research trip.

          These animals are not to be messed with. I can only imagine how dangerous it would be to make these megafauna an invasive species in another ecosystem.

          1. Eustache de Saint Pierre

            Yes, in Africa they are top of the chart for killing people – maybe Escobar thought they might become the ultimate guard dogs when getting high on his own supply.

          2. skk

            Never mind hippos – bloody monkeys – bonnet macaque as per the wiki. We were in Southern India, visiting the Vijayanagar Empire ( 15xx) ruins in Hampi. Outcrops of bare rock with temples carved within. Walking along, suddenly this little school girl in school uniform grabbed my hand – didn’t say a word ! I was quite nonplussed but we carried on walking… Then I saw – 6 or so monkeys eyeing all 3 of us with malevolent intent ( IMO). We walked a 100 yards or so and she let go of my hand and went on her way.

            Quite an experience.

      1. Pat

        Don’t give them ideas, our betters might actually adopt them and call themselves brilliant despite looming disaster.

  8. Eelok

    The Crony Ratio”: £800 Million In Covid Contracts To Donors Who Have Given £8 Million To Conservatives

    I’ve been reading Brett Christophers’ Rentier Capitalism and just this morning finished the chapter on outsourcing. The whole chapter is an excellent overview of the landscape of public-sector contracting in the UK, which is notable not just for the staggering degree to which it is practiced (£500-700 billion pounds a year, he estimates) but also the perverse forms it takes. The NHS literally contracts out the function of managing all of the outsourcing it does.

    Looking over the list in the article, I’m surprised to not see some of the massive players mentioned in the book getting in to the game. But I suppose their cronyism is of a more advanced and opaque variety.

    One thing that stuck out was that the public-sector outsourcing industry doesn’t have the exorbitant profit margins of every other style of rentierism catalogued in the book. Desperate attempts to be the lowest bidder have led to contracting firms suffering greatly, with the blowup of Carillion a few years ago being the most obvious example.

    Anyways, a great book so far that I’d highly recommend to NC readers.

    1. chuck roast

      I moved to DC for a government job in the early aughts. In my first section meeting my supervisor informed us that our division was being looked at by “leadership” for outsourcing and privatizing. My response was, “Help me understand this. I just moved fifteen-hundred miles to immediately see my new job disappear?” “Oh, no,” my section leader responded, “we believe that our jobs are ‘inherently governmental‘ and therefore will not be outsourced.” As it turned out we were ‘inherently governmental‘, but it scared the bejeezus out of me.

  9. PlutoniumKun

    The best course for Biden is to help Taiwan help itself Reponsible Statecraft

    The big problem I have with this sort of article – and its a feature of both the ‘China hawk’ and the ‘anti-imperialist’ side, is that you would almost think from reading them that the Taiwanese State and people have no agency whatever, they are simply puppets to be fought over by the great powers.

    On the contrary, following the horrors of the immediate aftermath of the last great War (including large scale massacres perpetrated by the right wing US supported government) the Taiwanese have built a solid, well run democracy, ridding themselves of the autocracy of the KMT and have followed a path of self reliance and self defence, keeping both China and the US at a necessary arms length, while cultivating close relations with other regional powers such as ROK and Japan. They also have a very powerful domestic arms industry, allowing them to be militarily independent to a significant degree from dependence on the US, although they obviously look to it for specific weaponry.

    The fact that the Taiwanese have built such a solid country, with an enviable health care industry, a pretty decent welfare state by Asian standards, and an open and vibrant democracy with a free press should be cause for congratulations and ‘how did they do it’ articles not ‘should the US sell them out or what’ type handwringing. They have also forged a strong independence, rejecting US bases as strongly as it has rejected Chinese interference.

    Like any small country, they will use whatever diplomacy they can have to play off greater powers in their interest. Of course they do their best to manipulate US imperialist interests to use as a counter weight to their large, aggressive neighbour, but this is not the same as being either an ally, or a client state, of the US. Like the South Koreans and the Vietnamese, they are determined to plough their own course and maintain their sovereignty and have so far done a very good job of doing it.

    1. ForeignNational(ist)

      I think the statement that Taiwan has rejected US bases is a bit simplified – even if Taiwan wanted US bases, it wouldn’t get them because it would be a diplomatic mess with the mainland China. The US pulled its forces out of Taiwan when it switched diplomatic recognition from the ROC to the PRC. I should add there is a significant pro-US camp in Taiwan’s politics – I suspect they would take US bases if given the choice (not that they likely ever will be asked).

      I also would like to politely object to the characterization of Taiwan’s domestic arms industry as “very powerful” – Taiwan does design and manufacture an impressive array of missiles, small arms, other munitions, missile corvettes, and fighter jets. However, it has relied on foreign powers for key enabling technologies, including jet engines (boy are those tricky to engineer well) and special radars. Ongoing advanced projects in the domestic defense industry are handicapped by the need to access certain foreign technologies – if I recall correctly, Taiwan’s indigenous submarine program is dependent on technology transfer from other countries, and one of their larger drone projects has been set back by the inability to procure a lightweight but powerful engine. Because of this reliance on other countries (usually the US) for key technologies as well as Taiwan’s dependence on the US for big-ticket weapons (F16Vs, M1A1 tanks, helicopters, the occasional used frigate) I disagree that Taiwan is “militarily independent” from the US.

      Curiously, Taiwan can do lots to increase its military independence – there’s an ongoing shift in the government and military to move its defense posture from 20th century big-military tactics to asymmetric warfare (look for “Overall Defense Concept”). This is a recognition that Taiwan is militarily outnumbered and needs to fight in unconventional ways. The bright side about this is that Taiwan has the engineering capabilities to domestically produce weapons for asymmetric warfare (more missiles, mobile missiles, self-propelled mines, military AUVs, autonomous drones, shoulder-launched missiles, even more missiles …). It needs to prioritize the development of such weapons.

      I agree that the Responsible Statecraft article is very shallow, especially on what Taiwan and its people think. I also agree that the rest of the world can learn a lot from Taiwan’s past, and I also think the country doesn’t get enough credit for the feats it pulls off. However, overstating the country’s independence and strengths goes a bit far in the opposite direction.

    2. Andrew Watts

      Countries are only independent to that extent their state can assert and defend their own sovereignty. Taiwan can do neither and it’s sovereignty has always been ambiguous at best. It isn’t an independent country even if it self-governs itself. Thus it’s primary status is as a client-state of the United States. This client status is now being aggressively challenged by the mainland as an internal matter of it’s own sovereignty. The best case scenario was probably always going to be “one country, two systems” with the rise of China.

      The increasingly hostile relationship between China and the US is making that outcome less likely. A competitive relationship between the two countries would allow smaller countries an opportunity to leverage their relations for their own sovereign needs. However, this would require a degree of political sophistication and cultural understanding that doesn’t appear to be present in DC. The mindset of the American ruling class appears to be stuck with strategic ambiguity established by the Taiwan Relations Act in 1979. They cannot seem to accept the reality of the present situation and that’s with other countries depending on American power to safeguard their sovereignty.

      It isn’t clear to me that the Taiwanese people would offer any kind of collective resistance if China resorted to an invasion. It isn’t hard to imagine that many would flee the island and there would be anti-war riots in Taipei and other cities. Possibly started by the KMT and with Chinese intelligence potentially assisting in fomenting it. The amount of brawling in their Parliament at regular intervals makes US politics look positively boring. My favorite incident involved the KMT throwing pig guts on the floor of the legislative assembly and at their opponents to stop them from voting.

  10. NotTimothyGeithner

    Re: vaccine diplomacy

    The orientalism that infects US foreign policy means vaccine diplomacy isn’t something that occurs to DC. They expect to be worshipped simply by showing up. Biden’s current Covid plan amounts to shrugging his shoulders and sending people out to claim, “Science says schools are safe. Praise Science,” despite evidence to the contrary.

    The closest the imperialists came to diplomacy was complaining Russia didnt do the last phase of testing when Russia announced the start of that phase back in October.

    1. RMO

      “Southeast Asian nations continue to seek help from international partners to cope with the coronavirus pandemic, particularly in securing access to vaccines. China is eagerly answering the call. The United States, by contrast, has been a non-factor in the region’s early vaccine diplomacy. This absence fuels a false narrative that a battered and insular United States cannot help lead the world out of this crisis.”

      This absence fuels a false narrative that the US can’t help lead the world out of this crisis? A “false narrative”? That’s like saying the injuries and deaths from defective Takata airbags and the massive recalls are feeding a false narrative that Takata manufactured a dangerously faulty product!?

  11. Alex

    As demand for vaccines plummets, Israel may resort to incentive programs

    FWIW, I got my first shot last week after seeing that no major side effects have been observed so far. The facility had around 10 booths and most of them were occupied but there was no line so it took a few minutes. Most of my friends and colleagues got vaccinated as well.

    1. tegnost

      Are you in israel? How is it that “Most of my friends and colleagues got vaccinated as well”? Where I am you’re either elderly or in the medical industry or you’re not eligible.

      1. Alex

        Yes, I am. They started with medical workers and elderly as well and last week everyone over 16 became eligible.

        1. tegnost

          Thanks. I’m in the states and not quite elderly. I figure it’ll be may or june before they get around to me

          1. Nick

            With the devolution of vaccine administration to the state level, one option might be to look at how nearby states have determined eligibility. My state is a mess and low on the % given / received rankings, but they just opened up to phase 1B that includes all kind of occupations (educators/childcare, food services, manufacturing). No residency requirements either and when I worked a drive thru clinic yesterday I saw we did have a handful of people who drove in from quite a ways.

            May or may not be feasible, but if it’s a priority then it might be worth spending 20 minutes to research.

          2. wilroncanada

            Much of the slow speed of Immunization in all countries can be attributed to limited production of vaccines. That is, for the most part, understandable, though concerning now that the mutations are multiplying. Availability for the raw materials for creation of billions of vaccines, ramped up production of syringes and needles in the billions, storage and shipping, then distribution and innoculation even while medical people are spread thin and themselves becoming victims.
            Some of it can be solved with money, and perhaps bribery: Israel has vaccinated, apparently, about half of its (Jewish) population. Two factors there were bonus pricing and trade of personal data to Pfizer The US, about 10 percent, Canada about 2-3 percent. Of course, Canada has no “local” manufacture, medical outsourcing having been part of the neoliberal mantra of previous governments, along with everything else–ship out raw resources and buy finished product. That policy ran into the nationalist wall, first with ppe from the US, and now with vaccines.

            1. RMO

              Yeah, looks like it’s going to be a looong wait here in my house before we’re all vaccinated. Three of us – my Mum who is over 80 (and probably the least likely of all of us to get sick – she’s in amazingly good health) is in the age group that was scheduled for February/March, I’m in the July/August age group and my wife is in the September/October group. Even before the new delays that meant nearly 2022 before everyone in the house was fully vaccinated and until that happens we have to keep up full precautions as if none of us were vaccinated.

            2. Alex

              about half of its (Jewish) population

              The vaccinations have been carried out in Jewish and Arab settlements alike, some people went to Arab towns to get them when they had leftover vaccines. I don’t know where you got the breakdown by ethnicity but certainly every citizen could have got the vaccine by this time if they wanted to.

          3. chuck roast

            The Daily Snooze reports our little seaside community of 25K just got an allocation of 120 doses from the state. There is nothing more to say.

    2. lordkoos

      Being an old man, I got my first vaccine dose (Pfizer) last week. A sore shoulder for about 36 hours was the only reaction. I hear that the second shot can make more of an impact.

      It’s insane that they are forcing teachers back to work without giving them the vaccine first. More proof that they really do not care about working people.

  12. The Rev Kev

    “Texas lawyer, trapped by cat filter on Zoom call, informs judge he is not a cat”

    One guy named Harold Cook from Austin lobbed a few tweets having fun here such as –

    ‘well we all suspected Rod Ponton would one day become accidentally famous for something. But I didnt have this on my bingo card.’ and

    ‘This is the only day in the entire world history of lawyering that Rod Ponton, the kitten lawyer, is only the second most awkward lawyer on earth, thanks to Trump’s inept legal team.’

    But then just to show you that the Cosmic Forces of the Justice get their payback eventually in interesting and in unusual ways, this appeared in that guy’s twitter page-

    And here is the story that he wrote-

    1. fresno dan

      The Rev Kev
      February 10, 2021 at 9:18 am

      How exactly do we know that the cat ISN’T using a lawyer filter??? and the glitch was the lawyer filter failed for a brief time, kind of like an anomaly in the Matrix? Of course, cats secretly running the world by Zoom would claim they really are human lawyers…

      1. The Rev Kev

        For a brief moment I thought that there was a ‘furrie’ involved. Anyway, cats don’t need to run the world as they already have staff for that – us!

  13. a different chris

    Oh god another Jonathan Turley link.

    >That is particularly a concern when critics of the President, including members of this Senate “jury” have engaged in similar over-heated and reckless political rhetoric.

    No. If I murdered somebody and had not been caught yet, does that mean I should, finding myself on a jury, acquit somebody else of murder regardless of the facts?

    He fortunately seems to drop that line of argument, but unfortunately it gets worse. So:

    Dear Mr. Turley: The President is not the same as a Senator. A Senator is not the same as a Congressman. A congressman is not the same as your local mayor. An obscure engineer (me) is not the same as my local mayor.

    Yelling “fire” in a crowded theater – well the size of the crowd in the theatre corresponds to the weight of the one yelling. If my neighbor tells me Mars is attacking, I will smile and continue to my mailbox. If the President on the TeeVee tells me the same thing, I am going to react differently.

    I don’t think this is so hard.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      How many in the Senate voting to convict really want to make this argument? 5 to 10. The others want to punish Trump for being crass and disrupting their grift. They don’t want to punish a former President by suggesting the status and position require higher standards and increased accountability because that could catch on.

      1. a different chris

        >because that could catch on.


        Pretty much applies to all our elites, business as well, nowadays, doesn’t it? A long way from “the buck stops here” have we come.

      2. Alternate Delegate

        Hmm, higher standards? Frankly, I would trust a neighbor over anything the President – any President – might say on TV.

        And if it’s a claim I’m inclined to disbelieve, such as an attack from Mars? My neighbor may be wrong, but they’ll have a reason for saying what they’re saying, and it will be – from my point of view – a more valid reason than the President’s ulterior reason.

        The exception would be information from someone with more knowledge than ulterior purposes. But I fear that the “truly disinterested tenured faculty member with a telescope” is a thing of the past. Whom should I trust, if not my neighbor?

    2. flora

      Representatives and Senators are sworn into office at with an oath declaring they will defend the Constitution and bear allegiance to same; all Representives take the oath at the beginning of each new Congressional session and about 1/3 of the Senators (longer terms, longer election cycles) do also.

      So I think Turley is right to argue they follow a Constitutionally described process and honor at least in spirit the Bill of Rights during the process. (I think any law school scholar who suggests otherwise is more interested in partisan politics than in the law. imo.)

      1. The Rev Kev

        I know that your Constitution says that it is up to the Senate to hold any impeachment trials but I do feel uneasy about one aspect. Many of those Senators were ‘victims’ of that day and I saw one guy give a big emotional speech and was almost crying. Point is, if you were having a trial in any part of the country and that you were directly affected by the accused, that would be automatic grounds to exclude you from service on a jury judging that person. i thin that you see what I am getting at.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          The Impeachment conviction won’t directly result in incarceration, and the prescribed peers are the Senators. If only unaffected Senators could vote, any President would have free reign.

          1. marym

            Also wouldn’t senators who refused to acknowledge the results of the election have to be excluded as unindicted co-inciters?!!

            1. Carolinian

              Is that what they did? Weren’t they just asking for further investigation?

              In the end Trump did concede and peacefully leave office. If he still thinks he was cheated that’s his private opinion and he is entitled to it and even to say it out loud.

              As some have pointed out it’s likely or at least possible that the post 2020 moves by Trump and company were intended as payback for the hysteria of late 2016. And here at NC there have even been suggestions that the actions of Brennan and others smacked of an intelligence community coup attempt to control the Trump administration if not expell it. Here’s suggesting that many of those crying for our poor Consitution and sacred electoral process are shedding crocodile tears.

          2. Fraibert

            That’s a fair point. Though, keep in mind, even in some silly civil lawsuit of little practical importance, the defense almost certainly would prevail in striking jurors _for cause_ with such a direct emotional connection to the controversy at hand. Due process, which requires impartial decisionmakers and factfinders, does not depend on the risk of incarceration.

            1. NotTimothyGeithner

              This isn’t a lesser court. Its a constitutionally prescribed court. The office of the President isn’t a citizen. The House has already proclaimed why they impeached. Its not like they are simply putting Trump on trial. Even to punish him beyond stripping powers, not available to the average citizen would require additional steps by those lesser courts.

              “High crimes and misdemeanors” is already vague, but all he really had to do was be popular enough to not make it an issue. There is no abrogation of rights occurring.

              If Trump was convicted:

              -he won’t be fined.
              -he won’t be incarcerated.

  14. zagonostra


    I don’t think the events of Jan 6th are going away anytime soon and like other historical events, there will be continuous obfuscation, misdirection, and “conspiracy theory” accusations thrown about.

    This from yesterday’s Hill reporting.

    A man who was charged in connection with the Jan. 6 Capitol riot claims he’s worked for the FBI and holds top security clearance…

    “He has held a Top Secret Security Clearance since 1979 and has undergone multiple Special Background Investigations in support of his clearances,” Caldwell’s attorney wrote.

    1. cocomaan

      Seems to me that the pool of conspiracy theories is increasing. They seem to come along more frequently and with greater intensity. Assumed authority figures in media, government, tech and so on are seeking to keep a lid on the frothing through censorship, but it’s the Streisand effect: it only makes the conspiracy theory seem stronger.

      I mean, we’re not even out of Covid (with its own conspiracies) but we have dueling conspiracy theories about last summer’s supposed leftist Antifa agitators and this year’s supposed right wing Boogaloo extremists.

      If there was a stock market for conspiracy theories, I would be going long. Lots of fodder for investment.

      1. zagonostra

        I think that “conspiracy theory ” needs to be viewed through the lens of power and class analysis; and for that, I find no better resource that that provided in in this classic lecture by Michael Parenti (I love the way he intersperses his “radical analysis” with humor).

  15. The Rev Kev

    “Blue glass beads in Alaska’s tundra”

    What a story those beads could tell. I suppose that being small, cheap, easily packed and highly durable, that they would be an ideal item to use to swap fur pelts for with local hunters. The map in that article was a bit iffy about how they got from the end of the Silk Road through to Alaska but I wonder if they might have used the river systems to go through the Siberian wilderness-

    1. ambrit

      I also wondered about those copper ‘bangles.’ The source of the ores used to make copper can be figured out. This is already used in research into bronze artifacts. Where those copper ‘bangles’ came from would be a story itself.
      Amusingly, my first reaction to the headline was; “Oh. Tektites! Neat!” What a self ‘bias reveal’ that was to me.
      “Watch the skies everywhere. Keep looking. Keep watching the skies.” (‘Beam me up Scotty. There’s no sign of intelligent life on this planet.’)

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > They’re pretty clear on their perspective

      Except JustSecurity is all about practicing lawfare domestically. It’s absurd and tendentious to call a riot an insurrection*. Was it the Winter Palace? The Tuileries? Even Guy Fawkes? The South seceding, perhaps? It’s all so hysterical and delusional. These people sit in extremely comfortable chairs (or doze on extremely comfortable mattresses, Princess and the Pea-style).

      NOTE * Unless you want to call the Black Lives Matter events in Portland and Minneapolis insurrections. Of course, it’s OK when our side does it. To be fair, we know we can buy BLM off, because it’s been done. Perhaps the real fear is that we might not be able to buy off these guys?

  16. DJG, Reality Czar

    The article about the blue beads, originally from Venice, that were found in Alaska is interesting.

    The article makes an assumption that the beads went overland from Venice to Beijing.

    But there were plenty of trade routes, many of long standing–thousands of years old. There is also a possibility of a water route to Alaska, given that Quanzhou in Fujian province, was a major trading city in the medieval era, with many resident Europeans:

    A squib from Wikipedia about Quanzhou: “Medieval Quanzhou was long one of the most cosmopolitan Chinese cities, with Chinese folk religious temples, Buddhist temples, Taoist temples and Hindu temples; Islamic mosques; and Christian churches, including Nestorian and a cathedral (financed by a rich Armenian lady) and two Franciscan friaries. Andrew of Perugia served as the Roman Catholic bishop of the city from 1322.[8] Odoric of Pordenone was responsible for relocating the relics of the four Franciscans martyred at Thana in India in 1321 to the mission in Quanzhou.[1”

    Pordenone is not far from Venice itself. As always, I wish that writers in the Anglo-American world weren’t so provincial.

    1. Pookah Harvey

      During this time frame the Greenland Vikings were trading Walrus ivory and Narwhal tusks to Europe. There is evidence that they also traded with the Dorset and Inuit in eastern arctic Canada. This gives a direct trade link from Europe to Inuits in the eastern arctic Canada. That trade routes could exist between Inuits in eastern Canada to Inuits in Alaska doesn’t seem unreasonable.

  17. fresno dan
    I’m embarrassed for what I’m about to share.

    I hit mute on the TV before making a phone call. Then I scrolled through Twitter. Then I opened Slack. Did a FaceTime. I scrolled through Instagram. I opened ThinkOrSwim to check the market. All while riding the Peloton with the sound off.

    I have mixed feelings about my addiction to everything. On the one hand, the internet takes away a lot of our time. On the other hand, it also gives a lot of it back.
    We’re so hyper-stimulated today that it’s a mind f*ck to think about what your life could have been like if you existed in a different time. Imagine what it was like raising kids in the 1940s? Or being a child in the 1960s? Before computers. Before Facebook. Way before the internet.

    We live in a 24/7 world for better and for worse. It’s exhausting and stressful and depressing and incredibly exciting all at the same time.
    So, I like the internet. It exposed me to NC, and profoundly changed my opinion on a number of economic beliefs. But I also lived before cell phones, when dinosaurs roamed the earth, and life was more three dimensional. There is a flatness, artificiality, insincerity, and unnatural aspect of modern life. Although I enjoy the back and forth in the comments, can anyone really say it is even one millionth as satisfying as an in person exchange?

    1. tegnost

      gerbil meet wheel…”I keep running but never seem to get anywhere, but no problem as it’s all about the journey, not the destination…”
      I miss land lines and broadcast tv
      I got cornered into a surveillance phone due to coverage in the rural area (ATT is evil but that’s another ball of dryer lint) and it’s the neediest item that ever possessed me…

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      It’s not the same as real lfe commons, but those have been destroyed. “Cheers” went off the air almost 30 years ago, maybe longer. Where does that line up of characters meet and converse today? It’s not phones or the Internet that killed it. The decline of Bowling Leagues occurred much earlier. “Cheers” was something of a fantasy even then. When would Dr. Frasier Crane interact with Cliff?

      To a certain extent, imagining life before is reaching a point where it’s hard to imagine the commons. 9 to 5 has been replaced by 5 to 9. “The Office” is beloved by millennials and zoomers. The key is the fantasy of steady jobs.

  18. NotTimothyGeithner

    Matt Stoller has a tweet thread on GM cutting production due to a semiconductor shortage which makes no sense because the free traders promised we could export legal advice.


  19. DJG, Reality Czar

    The BMJ article on social murder is definitely worth your while. Note the paragraph on the five problem countries. It is not an accident that the USA and UK are there.

    And there’s this, which is just as readily recognizable to Usonians:

    “Ministers in the UK, for example, interact with the media through sanitised interviews, stage managed press conferences, off-the-record briefings to favoured correspondents, and, when the going gets tough, by simply refusing to appear. It is this environment that has allowed covid denial to flourish, for unaccountability to prevail, and for the great lies of “world beating” pandemic responses to be spun.”

    What we also know is that there will be no consequences for the behavior of the Anglo-American elite. In fact, we can soon expect a renewed push for the wonders of the Oxford (Best University in the World!!!) Astra-Zeneca (Public + Private Parnership!!!) vaccine, which has barely passed, barely credibly passed, through drug trials.

    Because, natch, I already feel national healing going on here in America…

    1. epynonymous

      What about societal murder? — wherein we are likely to destroy not just each other, but everyone.

      The Omega Man was a movie in 1971. Lord knows how far that book goes back.

      A man on an island, sure… but the last man on Earth? (sorry, ladies)

      Oh, just started with ‘The Ministry for the Future’

      edit: I skipped googling USAonians til now, but I already obviated that part. Agreed.

      double edit: the whole establishment media is predicated on the idea that no establishment figure need ever answer questions publically from us plebs.

  20. Carolinian

    Re The New Yorker and free speech–so now Steve Coll, with his background as a newspaper reporter, is posing as an expert on the Constitution, impeachment and free speech. Is there any reason to believe his opinion on the matter is any better than, oh say, mine? What Coll does possess of course are credentials and his status as head of the Columbia Journalism School is intended to persuade if not his legal training.(he’s an English and history major). That school has a tight and approving relationship with the NYT so one may turn to the Times to see what this version of “journalism” has become. It’s not a pretty picture.

    1. Fraibert

      From what I’ve seen, the most professionally “lawyerly” viewpoint on the whole matter has been Professor Turley’s.

      Though, I’m not sure I’d expect valuable analysis from much of our elite legal professionals, either. The elite echelon of the legal profession has gone, for lack of a better condensed descriptor, “woke.” The traditional legal profession recognized that even unpopular persons and viewpoints deserved a defense because seeking justice through the adversarial process required that both sides have strong advocates. Contemporary legal elites (who virtually all are “liberals”) view law as simply another weapon in the political arsenal–so, of course, “the enemy” should be hounded without mercy through the use of so-called “lawfare.”

      To be clear, I am not speaking of everyday lawyers, who are just trying to do a good job on behalf of their clients or employers. I mean the elite intellectual class, at places such as Harvard and Yale.

      1. Carolinian

        You are correct IMO. An example would be Dershowitz who wrote a recent column saying that Trump and his supporters are entitled to free speech but not too long before that was denouncing the BDS movement in favor of the Palestinians and saying their speech should be suppressed.

        Practicing lawyers are advocates who will employ any tactic or argument to win their case. Turley is a professor first (but also a sometime defense lawyer apparently). Dersh was also a professor but not any more I believe.

  21. polar donkey

    Shelby County Health Department (Memphis) sequences 100 positive covid tests out of anywhere from 1,000 to 2,100 positive tests a week. That level of sequencing is relatively high. Some states don’t do that much. What is scary is B117, P1, and P2 variants have all been found.

  22. Carolinian

    The West Wing link from 2012

    Sorkin now oversees HBO’s The Newsroom, a similarly realistic take on current events as filtered through the prism of a cable news network.

    It is to laugh. But perhaps there is a deeper thread here and the Sorkin-ization of American and even Myanmar-ese society demands an investigation.

    1. RMO

      It just calls it “similarly realistic” after all. If I made a show about the operations of a large candy company that had gnomes as the production personnel and a lollipop that turned the person who ate it temporarily invisible it wouldn’t be incorrect to refer to it as being similarly realistic to Charlie and The Chocolate Factory.

  23. semiconscious

    re: Covid-19: Social murder, they wrote—elected, unaccountable, and unrepentant British Medical Journal

    trying to imagine a past in which someone attempted to argue that president dwight eisenhower be held personally/criminally responsible for the deaths of americans resulting from the asian flu, & failing miserably. same with lyndon johnson & the hong kong flu. i’m pretty sure that no one back then would’ve taken you seriously…

    again: worldwide, both of these pandemics killed more people proportionately than covid-19 has managed to thus far:

    1. jonboinAR

      Obama criminally responsible for deaths in Libya and Syria? Bush for deaths in Iran? We could go on, and on, and…

  24. Jason Boxman

    I’m way late to the party on this, but regards unlicensed pot shops in LA, it isn’t clear why they can’t follow the money to find and arrest the owners? Particularly in a business that’s cash-based (hence the armed guards). That cash is surely driven somewhere. It never comes up in the article at all; It’s not clear how the LLC shield prevents this?

    (The Half-Legal Cannabis Trap)

  25. petal

    I am watching a webinar-Madeleine Albright talking about “The Future of Democracy”: “join Dean Slaughter in conversation about the challenges facing democracies today and the fragility of freedom during these unprecedented times. Reflecting on her own experiences fleeing a communist coup in Czechoslovakia and immigrating to the United States, Secretary Albright will share insights and personal stories from her remarkable life and distinguished career in public service.”
    It looks like it is being recorded, so I’ll keep an eye out for when the video is posted in case anyone would be interested in watching it.

        1. ambrit

          I’ll go ‘meta’ on this and wonder why she is being resurrected from the grave right now. Given her priors, I sense something very dangerous in the offing. Not an exact analogy, but, this is comparable to Colin Powell being trotted out to push the Iraki “Weapons of Mass Destruction” argument in favour of that unnecessary war.
          Prepare the ground for ‘developments.’

          1. petal

            You are so right on about that. Had the same feeling and kept thinking Obama 2.0/getting the gang back together. Video should be up in a few days. Glad I watched it, good to find out what is going on and potential directions. She is teaching at Georgetown, btw, dog help us.

            1. ambrit

              Great Googly Moogly. Georgetown. I had a friend who went there and ended up in the ‘Foreign Service.’ He has since retired and lives in Athens, Greece. Since he was always one of the “We Will Conquer the World” types that I enjoyed associating with in High School, his choice of retirement places makes me wonder what he knows that I don’t.

              1. ObjectiveFunction

                Perhaps that Greece, for all its quirks as a modern nation state, still has a functioning social contract that can provide quite a comfortable daily life for someone bringing in a reasonable fixed income? Especially if you’re married locally. Good for your mate!

  26. Grant

    “China is marching closer to a population crisis”

    I love the people of China, used to live there. But, it is just a fact that it has major, major environmental issues that are increasingly at the crisis stage. It baffles me as to why this is not discussed more in regards to the rise of China. One issue will be China looking for natural resources, they are using things like debt in some places (Ecuador) to get access to things like forests. I think that will greatly accelerate in the coming years.

    China has very low per capita water availability, and a good chunk of the water is in southern China. Unfortunately, the water there is nightmarishly bad because of pollution. As is, China already has very low per capita water availability, but if you negate the water that shouldn’t be used for human consumption or used in the growing of food, it is frightening. There are cancer villages, issues with deforestation and soil erosion, massive pollution of soils, water, the air, the species extinction rate is picking up, etc. And in the country, there are already a lot of “mass incidents” (protest and riots related to government policy), which the government used to track. Studies show that a large share of these mass incidents are the result of corruption, environmental damage, the privatization of communal land and inequality. This is also occurring in a context internationally that is even more difficult, with an environmental crisis that is worldwide in scope. There are things that could be done, and the country could use planning (the planning being more democratic would help a lot) and its state owned enterprises in radically different ways to address these things, but it is still focused largely on growth, and there are clear limits to growth. Its recent plans have focused more on environmental stewardship, but not nearly enough. If you want a leftist perspective on this, read Minqi Li, and a couple news book from Pluto Press called “China’s Engine of Environmental Collapse” by Richard Smith and Mabo Gao’s “Constructing China”. The new left in China is emerging (the government is ironically cracking down on things like Marxist study groups at universities that young students are organizing) and there are many shades of leftism too, so maybe they can take power, prioritize the environment and democratize planning.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      I still have a couple of books from the 1990’s about the ‘impending environmental crisis’ in China. When I first visited back in the late 1990’s I was staggered by the visible levels of pollution, and everything I’d read indicated that there was an enormous problem with soil pollution in particular, thanks to the massive toxin load of years of chemical applications.

      I don’t think things have improved except in the big prospering cities, where there have been major strides made in tackling air pollution and the most visible water and other forms of pollution. Its very hard to know about food, most Chinese people I know simply assume that unless its an import, the food is likely to be poisonous, and they could well be right. There seem to have been significant improvements in regulation and enforcement that have made things better, but they are well behind other countries at a similar rate of development. That said, the major investments in modern plant has meant the closure of a lot of the worst polluting industries.

      Its very hard to know the real figures of what this is doing to Chinese people, but going on anecdote cancer rates seem to be off the charts (needless to say, the official figures aren’t reliable, so its hard to be sure). Almost every Chinese person i know has lost several close relatives to cancer, often at a young age. It is a very common reason cited by many for moving away from China.

      As you say, the new wave of leftists in China are not treated with a kindly eye by the government, and certainly environmentalists aren’t either. The only real positive I think is that the government knows it has to stay on the right side of the younger, more educated urban dwellers, and they expect things like decent health provision and reasonably clean air. There have been a few cases, such as in Dalian a few years ago, when the government made rare visible concessions to public outcry over polluting industries.

      1. flora

        adding: Glenn pointing out that silencing or trying to silence anyone who questions the currently accepted science is a policy or practice that, had it been in effect last March, anyone who questioned the accepted science recommendation *against* wearing masks then would have been silenced. He also points out that science is a human endeavor and human created knowledge and is subject to review and questioning because it’s never perfect. He also said that because he was able to do his own study of the vaccines, both pro and con, before the ‘official narrative’ took hold he came to the conclusion that taking the vaccine is the best thing for him and his family. He also said that if there was only an ‘official narrative’ allowed in social media or MSM space when he was doing his research he would have been more skeptical of the claims made for the vaccines. And he wondered why the manufactures aren’t confident enough in their product to accept free speech and legitimate questioning, like “has this been tested for safety during pregnancy.”
        Serious, real questions that other vaccines have had to show proof of passing. But social media and too much of the MSM shut down those questions.

  27. epynonymous

    If you combine the ideas from yesterday (that vaccines might be annual requirements) with the information from the article 2-3 days ago from MIT that mRNA vaccines using the same technology of nano-lipid envelopes have decreasing immune responses over time then you get a scenario where we are all in serious trouble.

    1. cocomaan

      It’s 2AM in 2035. You’re on your couch, barely keeping the chronic pain at bay.

      Commercial starts up.

      “Did you take an mRNA vaccine between the years of 2020 and 2022? You might be entitled to a structured settlement over the Settlement Act for Vaccine Equity (SAVE) of 2032. Call now to get a FREE consultation from a trained legal expert.”

      1. epynonymous

        “Its (Moderna’s) scientists were also learning that administering repeat doses, which would be necessary to replace biotech blockbusters like a clotting factor that’s given monthly, was going to be a problem. ‘We would find it worked once, then the second time less, and then the third time even lower,’ says Afeyan. ‘That was a problem.’ ”

        To be fair, this is a paragraph regarding why mRNA failed experimentally for applications in other therapeutic scenarios. note: (this argument is based solely on this reporting, I am not a biologist)

  28. Susan the other

    Economic Research by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis?? “Decentralized Finance on blockchain and smart contract-based financial markets.” This research comes from some shadowy characters in the heart of BIS territory, professors at the U. of Basel. How strange. This elaborate analysis pops up just when the Federal Reserve is jack knifing into the deep end of digital money? I’m wondering how all this decentralized finance will get along with restricted carbon footprints – sounds like they will have a huge electricity bill at the very least. This whole long piece of “research” is one big fat WTF. This new decentralized finance is secure and transparent due to the miracle of blockchain. It does not require any intermediaries (aka banks and investment houses) but it does provide for investment management services (too funny) and allows all sorts of derivatives to flood the system. The objective is to free up capital to do as it pleases as long as it is legal. I hope I live to see this casino of tokens of tokens of tokens sometimes pegged to a sovereign currency get totally jammed up. And just one quick question: If Ethereum (the “native crypto asset” of the Ethereum system) is pegged to the US dollar (like Stablecoin or if it creates a composite trade with Stablecoin so as to be fungible) and then makes a wrong-headed bet on some derivative and the bet goes south fast, does it all get paid off in actual dollars to the winning side of the bet? You’re kidding me, right? This is just FinSat – Financial Satire. And if not, if no one sees any humor in this at all, then please tell me what the purpose all this decentralized finance marketeering in valueless “native crypto assets” is?

    1. Steeeve

      Seems like most of the solutions to the potential risks were more centralization and/or regulation. Also, forgive me for being skeptical when I see people pushing for miraculous solutions filled with made-up jargon that don’t require trust.

  29. Ranger Rick

    My $600 stimulus “check” (card) is still sitting on my dining room table, unused. Thinking about throwing it out the next time I take out the trash. I’m extremely wary of having to give out any personal information to private institutions like Metabank for any amount of money.

    1. petal

      Ranger Rick, I believe there was a recent discussion about this-somebody said you can take it to your bank and they can transfer the amount to your bank account? Can anyone jump in on this with more details?

    2. Glen

      I activated ours at the credit union, and transferred all of it to our credit union account. It requires you input part of your SS number to activate the card, and you get ONE free withdrawal. Our credit union was familiar with the process so more than me have shown up to activate the card and drain it. Then you can give to the charity of your choice.

    3. ForeignNational(ist)

      At some point, I think the bank has to send your account number and the like to Metabank anyway (unless there’s a way to move money between banks in this country without account numbers – I don’t work with money enough to know). You might want to ask your bank what it does. The inconvenient way would be to withdraw cash at an ATM and deposit it in your bank account, but they charge fees for that unless you can find an ATM in their network (no clue how to do so).

      I think there’s an option to request via telephone for them to send you a check with your remaining balance on it. I don’t know if they charge for that, and I don’t know if there are restrictions for how that check can be used. Quite frankly, the whole ‘you can service your account over the telephone’ thing bugs me.

      1. Glen

        I think that’s a valid point about account numbers, but I’ve been handing out checks with that information on it for the last forty years so I’m going to assume everybody knows it by now.

    4. Maritimer

      More and more of this every day, destruction of Privacy. I recently refused the installation of a Smart Electrical Meter and that will cost me $4 a month to have the meter read by a Human. I also have a VPN, $3 a month, to protect privacy. Another example is the Stupormarket discount card; you have to give your identity and consumption purchases to get the discount. So, it now costs money to protecy your Privacy. They are cranking this up in all facets of Life.

      1. ambrit

        Where we are, the “Dumb Meter” option is not available.
        “Prepare to be assimilated. Resistance is futile.”

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        When I signed up for a Stupormarket loyalty card, I gave a fake name and a fake phone number.

        Of course, that was before the age of email.

        Maybe I will try signing up for another such card somewhere and see if they will accept a fake name and a fake email address.

    5. ivoteno

      i am spending my entire stimulus on depressants. namely, alcohol. hopefully the data collected will cause some tee-totalitarian in congress to have a conniption.

      1. ambrit

        Just keep reading and watching the news and your depression will be free of charge. Alcohol optional but not necessary.

  30. Carolinian

    This is good. Rome versus now.

    This crisis was complex and tangled up in multiple aspects of Rome’s social, cultural, political, and economic life. But in essence it was a progressive erosion of what Abraham Lincoln called, in a different context, the “mystic chords of memory”—a widespread constitutional sensibility and consciousness of heritage that maintained a powerful hold on the people and sustained a mutual fealty to their republican compact. Called mos maiorum and often distilled simply as “the way of the ancestors,” the Roman constitution, though unwritten and vague in conception, was nevertheless universally hallowed and so ruled supreme.

    Thus, for centuries this cultural ethos transcended whatever issues might arise in the polity, and a civic comity prevailed. Then around 133 B.C., the political issues roiling Rome took on a definitional cast, penetrating to the very heart of Rome’s identity. The issues became more important than the state’s mystic chords, and politics increasingly took on a portentous cast. The opposition had to be not just bested but destroyed. It must be noted also that, once the Romans abandoned mos maiorum just a little, a further unraveling ensued. Eventually the Roman constitution no longer maintained its traditional hold on the public imagination or its check on the machinations of politicians.

    So is the US in the middle of a crisis of identity or a passing fad? You could say the fadsters are carrying on the traditions but they explicitly reject the founders as racists and therefore to be discarded, their statues torn down. Of course we shouldn’t worship our ancestors or even Lincoln and give them more credit than is due. But as Taibbi and others have pointed out this new creed is the feeblest of substitutes for a government created by–whatever their flaws–serious thinkers. They studied Rome themselves and tried to learn from the mistakes.

    1. zagonostra

      I’ve been listening through some of Michael Parenti speeches today. A book he wrote, “The Assassination of Julius Caesar,” puts 133 BC in a new light, as does his take on Cicero. Michael Hudson also covers Roman history in new an novel ways, especially with respect to doing away with the “Jubilee.” Both these writers have altered my view of Rome and Roman history, as has learning to view history through the various forms oligarchy has taken.

      This author sees to rely on a more conventional understanding of Rome and Cicero and I’m not sure how close his analogies hold, but I’ve only skimmed through article and may be wrong…

      1. Carolinian

        I recently read the Thomas Ricks book First Principles about the founders and their classical educations and fixation on Roman history. He says the founders themselves were divided re Rome with the “Ciceronians” like John Adams believing in a strong state that had to keep “conspiracies” in check (hence the Alien and Sedition Acts). He points out that Adams has no monuments in DC while Jefferson’s is quite grand. Perhaps our new age will tear down Jefferson’s and celebrate Adams.

        1. chuck roast

          John Adams get the scarlet letter I’m afraid. He is largely responsible for the first ten amendments to the constitution, and they have been a very sharp thorn in the side of the property holders ever since. Portraits of old John and his kid Quincy gaze down on me almost daily as I read in my ancient athenaeum. That’s as close as he is ever getting to a public monument.

  31. Cuibono

    Who China report?
    They spent more time inside Karaoke bars than they did in the lab, of that I am reasonably certain.
    Talk about the fox guarding the henhouse.

  32. ArvidMartensen

    Manufacturing consent where ” Millionaire pundits paid by billionaire media moguls are once again trying to protect millionaire politicians bankrolled by billionaire donors.”

    This is why politicians think trickle down works just fine.

  33. Kouros

    In the article about S. Korea and the US nuclear umbrella or S. Korea acquiring nukes, I love the nonchalant tone that War on the Rocks takes to the issue of nuclear proliferation. From two perspectives.

    In fact NPT does not condone the placement of nuclear devices on third parties soil. Fact that US always poops on. Second. S. Korea, as part of the NPT, agreed to not go for nukes. Breaching that, would make it in theory liable of the same sanctions N. Korea suffers, one would think.

    But I guess the liberal rules based order refers to the rules that the liberal world and especially the US can break.

  34. Matthew G. Saroff

    I am wondering if the leaked proposal to de-privatize the NHS is more about kneecapping the Lib Dems than anything else.

    Every story mentions that the “reforms” were drafted when they were in coalition with the Tories, and assigning some of the blame to them would go a long way towards reducing their political possibilities in the next election.

  35. JTMcPhee

    Trump worse than Biden? Ask Assange. Or Snowden. And pushing a misery like Neera Tanden.

    It’s the system. And the Dems like it just the way it is. The bribes must flow, and dissenters must be crushed.

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