Links 2/22/2021

Are Cities Finished? Project Syndicate

The Brain’s ‘Background Noise’ May Be Meaningful After All Wired

What would a truly wild Ireland look like? BBC

When Engineers Were Humanists New York Review of Books

Postures of Transport Public Domain Review

NYC backtracks on de Blasio’s plan to close Trump-owned ice rinks New York Post

Entire California School Board Resigns After Chewing Out Parents on Accidental Zoom Broadcast Gizmodo. Oops!

Boeing Calls for Global Grounding of 777s Equipped With One Engine Model NYT

A tale of two provinces: how coal mining plowed ahead in the B.C. Rockies while Alberta hit the brakes The Narwhal

A Friendly Debate About Herbert Marcuse, with R.J. Eskow Matt Taibbi. Hoisted from comments (flora)

#COVID-19

The Rural Alaskan Towns Leading the Country in Vaccine Distribution New Yorker

Covid-19: Hong Kong logs 20 new cases and officials hint at possibly reopening border if enough residents get vaccinated South China Morning Post

Five steps the Indian government must take to ensure an effective rollout of Covid-19 vaccines Scroll

A leaked report shows Pfizer’s vaccine is conquering covid-19 in its largest real-world test MIT Technology Review

Travel’s Covid-19 Blues Are Likely Here to Stay—‘People Will Go Out of Business WSJ

To get ahead of variants, Covid-19 drug makers use evolutionary biology as a guide Stat

US braces for 500K COVID deaths: Somber milestone nears as Fauci says Americans may still need masks into 2022 despite infections falling – as experts say cases could drop so low that vaccine complacency sets in Daily Mail

Dying on the Waitlist ProPublica

Top virologist warns Italy virus cases rising again Medical Xpress

Germany’s COVID infections rise again Deutsche Welle

Schools in England to reopen on March 8 under easing of lockdown FT

White House reiterates teacher vaccinations ‘not a prerequisite’ to reopening schools WaPo

Facebook political ad ban blocks pro-vaccine messages Politico

Texas Deep Freeze

Many Texans have died because of the winter storm. Just how many won’t be known for weeks or months. The Texas Tribune

Ocasio-Cortez fundraising for Texas relief reaches $4.7M The Hill

Texas utilities can’t stick customers with huge bills after storm: Abbott Reuters

Austin Energy says power has been restored to 100 percent of customers Austin American-Statesman

Big Brother IS Watching You Watch

Privacy faces risks in tech-infused post-Covid workplace France 24

Biden Transition

US-China tech war: calls for Biden to fund US semiconductors grow louder in Washington South China Morning Post

Katie Porter — one of Congress’ only single moms — has a plan to help caregivers AlterNet

Accomplice to Carnage Foreign Affairs Robert Malley and Stephen Pomper.

The US Empire Is An Abusive Narcissist: Notes From The Edge Of The Narrative Matrix Caitlin Johnstone

Biden seems set to pick fight over Rahm Emanuel The Hill

Collins to vote against Biden OMB nominee Neera Tanden The Hill

Attorney General nominee Merrick Garland to face challenges that include links to Biden and Trump CNN


Class Warfare

Workers Should Take Back Control of Their Pension Funds Jacobin

UK competition watchdog warns Big Tech of coming antitrust probes FT

Silicon Valley is not suffering a tech exodus, and money is flowing in at record rate — for a fortunate few MarketWatch

Silence About GOP Senators’ Hypocrisy The Daily Poster. David Sirota.

Brexit

Brexit red tape ramped up on British sausages destined for Northern Ireland Independent

The New Cold War

EU: Germany urges sanctions against Russia Deutsche Welle

Syraqistan

IAEA, Iran agree temporary deal for inspections with less access Al Jazeera

On Not Being a Princess Craig Murray

‘Rulers Are Leading a Campaign of Terror Against Journalists and Activists’: Al Jazeera Anchor The Wire. Meanwhile, the U.S. media focuses on being woke über alles

Myanmar

India

PM Modi’s plan to make a Singapore in Gujarat has fallen flat The Print

At BJP’s election strategy session, Modi asks party leaders to spread awareness on farm laws Scroll

How India’s Government is Weaponizing Twitter Columbia Journalism Review

Blue sheep, ibex, snow leopards – How this Ladakh village stopped hunting and took to tourism The Print

Antidote du Jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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132 comments

  1. Robert Hahl

    Texas utilities can’t stick customers with huge bills after storm: Abbott Reuters

    “He said the Public Utility Commission of Texas will order electricity companies to pause sending bills to customers, and will issue a temporary moratorium on disconnection for non-payment.

    “The state will use the time to find a way to protect utility customers, Abbott said.

    The real tragedy here is so few Texans have light insurance. I hear Abbott is proposing a plan, Electricare, to pay 80% of monthly electricity bills above a $1,000 deductible for those over 65, and so would pay about $3,600 of those $5,000 bills if the rate payer was over 65 as of last Friday.

    For those who don’t qualify for Electricare and are below 400% of the poverty line there will be Electricaid, why not? And if the customer happened to own equity in a house, Electricaid expenses can be clawed back from the estate after death, and split to reimburse Medicaid expenses if any. The Medicaid system is reportedly objecting to this provision of the bill

    Reply
    1. miningcityguy

      Does this mean that Electricare will be paying 80% of Alice Walton’s electricity bills or Jerry Jones’ bills even though Jones is making a bundle through the higher prices his company, Comstock is receiving, for natural gas as a result of the storm? How about George W. Bush? I want that guy to start pulling himself up by his bootstraps and quit relying on the government dole. Or does Abbott have some means testing planned?

      Reply
    2. TomDority

      How did demand go up when supply was cut .. leading to high rates. Why should the dis-abling of electrical production by a foreseeable event, where a private company was to harden the system, over the past decade, against the very threat that took down the system – be bailed out of liability for both price gouging and financial losses to their ratepayors who were paying for the last decade to harden the system?
      Why should the taxpayors make whole the con-men in the private company for ther fraud and leave un-whole those defrauded customers?

      Reply
        1. jsn

          There is nothing to puzzle at here except that virtually no one pays any attention to what has really been going on since Reagan.

          The system functioned exactly as it was designed to: to make money for people on the energy production side at the expense of any and every entity that risk and cost could be externalized onto. https://www.power-grid.com/blogs/has-privatization-failed-texas-utility-customers/#gref

          This is the whole point of neoliberalism: populations and natural resources exist to be integrated in a financial system designed to strip both of money by converting them to waste.

          Reply
    3. JohnnySacks

      It’s like signing up for an ARM at teaser rates, with no cap on rate increases, and adjusted monthly. What could possibly go wrong? The state of Texas allowed this type of plan to be legal, and rate payers agreed to sign up for it. Wow, if Texas allowed it to begin with, why would anyone think they stand a chance for relief? Texas? Going to put a company out of business, write it all off, and institute the concept of a regulated public utility like the rest of us are accustomed to? Absolutely ludicrous.

      Reply
      1. chuck roast

        Sorry Johnny, people in my neighborhood are not like “…the rest of us.” Our “public” utility is permitted not regulated. It’s all kabuki theatre here.

        Reply
  2. The Rev Kev

    “White House reiterates teacher vaccinations ‘not a prerequisite’ to reopening schools”

    This is a bit of a logic defier. There has been a major push to get schools back and running again so that workers could, well, go back to work. The teachers on the other hand have major issues with going back to school, mostly to do with the possibility of a lingering death or a lifetime of medical problems. So logic would dictate that if all the teachers were vaccinated as a matter of priority, that they would feel safe enough to once more go into classrooms enabling the States to re-open face to face classrooms. Everybody wins you would think. Since this is not happening you wonder if the reason is that as old Joe has promised that the majority of schools would be re-open in the first 100 days of is Presidency, then that is the real priority – making Joe look good by having the schools open again.

    Reply
    1. Pat

      Teachers and students are disposable, at least if reports that B117 does infect kids and young people are accurate.

      I get that there are multiple reasons why in person learning is vital for children. But sadly I don’t think the best interest of children has been a factor in major political decisions for most of my adult life, especially in education. So I am left wondering what is really driving this. Are schools the real impediment to the economy, the only thing keeping everything closed? Is it just a supposed easy political win? What?

      Reply
      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Biden’s presidency is largely over, so attacking loyal Team Blue voting blocs is largely all he has left.

        Even with Manchin’s “opposition”, Biden should have a plan for a 48-52 Senate. He simply doesn’t, and so the various economic issues will continue to unwind. Leaving him in a position where Biden might still be trying for the $1400 joke going into the late Spring. The police won’t suddenly have become less violent. 8 years to citizenship is a joke. Kids are in cages. Healthcare is a problem. Kids have been in jokes of schools for almost a year now. My governor is saying things like schools should consider class in saying umber with no guidance or even promises to work on funding.

        Reply
        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          The Countess Draculamala hopes that Biden can hang on for 2 years and a day and then resign or be Article 25’d, so she can have 10 years as President, she hopes and dreams.

          Reply
      2. lordkoos

        This is more likely about getting the kids’ parents back to work – people can’t return to their jobs if they have to be babysitting at home.

        Reply
      3. Pelham

        Add to the B117 danger the growing evidence that 1) children do infect others even if the kids suffer no symptoms and 2) a high percentage of sufferers of even mild cases of covid end up with long-lasting, perhaps lifelong, medical problems, as The Rev Kev notes.

        I have completely abandoned any hope of getting useful info from official sources. I refer to sources on NakedCapitalism and otherwise my family and I are on our own. Like you, I’m puzzled about their motives. But I think a pretty good rule of thumb is to suspect and act on the most diabolical assumptions.

        Reply
    2. Mr. Magoo

      I have two school age kids, for which i really wish them to get back with their peers/social group. However, it defies logic that the concerns of teachers is taken lightly by so many. Personally, I would like someone to speak up for parents of school age children who are more likely to be infected living with “little active transmission vessels” should they start going to school again.

      It defies logic that we can’t take a day or two out of the vaccination appointments and just prioritize the teachers. There may be more at risk of adverse health effects, but there are fewer at risk of exposure. And it doesn’t help that the priority for those at risk is to join Ted Cruz in Cancun.

      https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/17/travel/seniors-covid-vaccine-travel.html

      Reply
      1. Amfortas the hippie

        our one doctor, who doubles as the county health official, decided that…whenever the next 400 vax doses come in…we’ll vaccinate all the teachers, no matter what cdc, greg abbott, or whomever says.
        i’m all for it…but there’s a lot of antivaxx craziness hereabouts, so it is as yet unknown how many will get the jab.

        Reply
      2. Brooklin Bridge

        While I agree that teachers should get priority and be vaccinated, I’m not sure that will help protect parents much. My understanding is that it remains unresolved whether or not those who receive the vaccine can still transmit the virus meaning teachers could potentially transmit it to their pupils. Regardless, children can still get the disease from their parents, relatives, or others, and then spread it to their mates in school, and so on back to the parents.

        Reply
    3. Allentown

      There are many millions of front line essential workers who have been working in person throughout this entire crisis who are still not vaccinated. There is a lot of anger towards teachers among this set for refusing to return to work without the vaccine while the numbers are dropping.

      The economy and schooling won’t get back to normal until everyone is vaccinated, but people who have been working in essential positions this entire time should be ahead of those who have had the luxury of receiving paychecks while working from home.

      Reply
      1. Katniss Everdeen

        You do have to wonder how loudly these highly credentialed “babysitters” would have howled if grocery store staff and amazon and food delivery people, not to mention the uber-essential burrito rollers at chipotle and starbucks baristas, had taken the same approach.

        Reply
        1. Laughingsong

          I think that’s backwards… frontline workers are indeed getting the short end and I too would be angry enough to spit nails at being treated that way (disclaimer: it’s been over 20 years since I have had a job like that).. but I think that if they are angry at teachers they are looking in the wrong direction. Teachers aren’t the ones making them miserable. The difference is the existence of unions/labor power. Rather than taking that from teachers we should talk about expanding it more universally.

          Reply
          1. Wukchumni

            My buddy is in CalSTERS* and after 30 years of being a junior high science teacher, hung up his spurs and called it quits when Covid came calling.

            All jobs ought to pay a pension of $4500 a month (he doesn’t get SS benefits) as he’s getting for years spent in the big house, and being let go on his own recognizance.

            Its kind of a no brainer to retire for teachers in Cali who have put in the their time. We’re going to need a new breed of them just as replacements, another priority.

            * if there’s a similar tale of owe to CalPERS, I don’t want to know

            Reply
            1. Laughingsong

              Mom was in CalSTRS too. I don’t know offhand what the pension amount was, but she seemed to do okay (she was always really good with household finances anyway). Haven’t heard any of the same type of horror stories as for CalPERS.

              She had been a hairdresser for 40 years before getting her teaching credentials so without that chance she would not have had much. It gave me my first appreciation for public sector jobs and unions.

              Reply
      2. cocomaan

        Yep, not to bag on teachers too hard, but there was never any doubt that they’d receive a paycheck. School could have been totally cancelled (often was in my area) and they’d still get a paycheck.

        My school district raised property taxes last year too, and I expect another 5% raise upcoming. Never any doubt about that either.

        That’s not the case for the rest of us wage slaves. We don’t get paid by the taxpayer.

        Reply
        1. paddlingwithoutboats

          Here in Victoria BC, the political preference is clear. Until a couple of years ago, landlords were guaranteed a rent increase that assured them profit over inflation.

          At the last of it, it entailed a one-and-a-half percent plus the official rate of inflation increase, calculated yearly for them.

          No one else receives such a guaranteed float above inflation.

          For some reason unknown to me, that was changed to currently they are allowed to increase rents at the rate of inflation, yearly.

          Working in the hospital, any increases negotiated years in advance have been carefully structured to fall below any expected rate of inflation.

          And that’s inflation calculated in the abscence of housing and real estate.

          House prices increased 1000% since 1980. Unaffordable doesn’t describe it. The news environment talks about “rental growth”. Why no conversations about growth as the term for working class wealth? Crickets. Language.

          We are in an area known to the European Parliment as a global fraud jurisdiction where the effortless wealth in development and real estate are…creating landlords living on cat food? Sleeping under viaducts?

          Systemic grift that many of my coworkers sold their home owner-wanna-be-a-mini-artistocrat souls to participate in. The buy-in is thorough.

          Last I looked, Canadian GNP is about 40% from financialation, real estate, construction and banking.

          Reply
          1. cocomaan

            I guess the expectation is that eventually nobody will have to live in North American anymore?

            Truly, the only way to get any semblance of financial security anymore is to play the game of assets. Those without assets lose in this society.

            I don’t particularly think that it’s right to castigate teachers for having security, but it’s going to be natural as the crabs in the bucket peck at each other.

            Reply
        2. Keith Newman

          Re public servants receiving a paycheck: In Canada EVERYONE experiencing a non-trivial decrease in income received $2,000 monthly for 7 months or a significant top-up to unemployment insurance. The programs continue at a lesser rate today. Other countries had similar programs. The lack of income support was deliberately inflicted upon millions of USians by their political and economic overlords. It was certainly not the fault of teachers. Why should they pay?

          Reply
          1. cocomaan

            I’m not saying they should.

            However, before we start patting other countries on the back, many, many firms were able to keep their employees on payroll via the PPP. I know mine were. Plus, many millions of Americans were receiving large unemployment stimulus checks.

            Reply
      3. The Historian

        I think the reason teachers are complaining is because schools are opening – so they are not “working from home”.

        But hey, if teachers are only “high priced babysitters”, the problem could be easily solved, couldn’t it? Just keep the schools closed! No sweat!

        But one size doesn’t fit all, does it? Teachers have some unique problems wrt Covid, don’t they? They are expected to spend 6 hrs/day around children who don’t understand things like social distancing because, well, they are children. It isn’t as though the teachers can protect themselves around children, like maintaining a safe distancing, or having proper HVAC systems, or even trying to get the children to properly wash their hands or properly wear masks.

        And then because there is a group who is willing to fight for their rights to be safe, you are dissing them instead of supporting them? What is with that? So instead of pointing out the fallacies of our vaccine program, like how everyone is on their own and are just supposed to lie down and take it, you criticize the few people who won’t? So you’d rather go with ‘divide and conquer’ instead of solidarity? How is that going to help you?

        Yes, I do wish we could get more vaccines to essential workers who do have to be out in the public, and yes, I do wish we could get more money into the hands of those essential workers so maybe they wouldn’t have to be out in the public, but that isn’t the fault of the teachers, is it? Why hold them accountable for this? Why not, instead, follow their lead? Then, MAYBE, something more could be done?

        Reply
        1. Swamp Yankee

          The Historian,

          I couldn’t agree more. I’m a college-age teacher, so this is less of an issue for me personally, but my colleagues in K-12 are very quickly becoming radicalized by this, and it’s very significant.

          I find it passing strange (well, not really), that certain reactionary voices, whether inside the Democratic Party or outside of it, have as their first instinct to attack teachers and labor unions, when the [redacted] hits the fan.

          The real authors of this are not the long-suffering teachers, but 50 years of our leaders saying “there is no such thing as society” — and yes, it strikes many of us as crocodile tears when the safety of the children (“Won’t somebody please think of the children!” – Mrs. Lovejoy) is invoked, often by people who chose higher paying, more prestigious work, and when many of those same voices spent years cutting resources and denying nutrition and healthcare to all the children in the nation.

          I think it’s clear, to many teachers, that the affluent sectors of the professional-managerial class who are the moving factors behind premature reopening, are simply ticked off that, unlike immigrant and/or non-union labor, teachers can’t be attacked with impunity. Lupita who cleans the house, or the nameless Uber Eats driver who brings the take-out to said house — these can be abused without consequence, they have no unions, and in some cases, effectively no legal personhood. (To be frank, many of the PMC social stratum seem to be just tired of having to take care of their own offspring….)

          Teachers by way of contrast are organized, articulate, well-educated, and a real threat to the Managerialist ideology that dominates both major parties.

          What I think you will see is that it has become crystalline clear for educators that we exist as disposable “babysitters”; the PMC has just let the teachers know that they don’t regard us as one of them (and thus as worthy of rights). Consequently, I would not be surprised to see increasing numbers of teachers become overtly oppositional to the establishments of both parties, as well as their own union leadership. The great fear of the 10%ers is that the 90% organize, and they have just made that more likely.

          I have seen this in my own world — types who were just a few short months ago “Team Blue No Matter Who” are now interested in Old Labour, Marx, Trotsky. There is serious talk of unseating Randi Weingarten as the national union President. Primaries for elected officials who were brought to the dance by us, only to push us in the mud when the music started, are being contemplated or even planned.

          This is going to have significant ramifications in the future. The “irrepressible conflict” between affluent professionals and workers of all types over who will control the Democratic Party is out in the open. It reminds me in its own way of the mid-19th century break-up of the (US) Whig Party.

          I think many on this blog will support bringing that rift into the open, and I hope many of you, most of you, will side with Workers, and not the Bosses.

          We shall see.

          Reply
          1. cocomaan

            Great post, I think you’re on to something. I don’t think that the centrist wing of the Democrats really understand that they may have a labor movement on their hands soon.

            The treatment of health care and essential workers during this pandemic has ignited a lot of discontent.

            Reply
          2. jr

            +100

            Lot’s of tall talk about the luxurious life of the over credentialed, pampered teacher flying around today. Well fear not, the party is wrapping up:

            https://trofire.com/2021/02/19/teachers-are-leaving-education-profession-in-droves-during-the-pandemic/

            “Nearly 27% of K through 12 educators in the US say they’re considering exiting the profession or taking a leave of absence due to the COVID-19 outbreak.”

            For those who didn’t have a math teacher growing up, 27% is over a quarter of the teaching workforce. 1+ in 4. Guess America’s kids are going to have to bootstrap themselves into literacy, with typical American ingenuity and pluck.

            My sister is supposed to return to the gutted shell of an institution she teaches at in the Bronx next week to babysit the fallout of a society in decline. She’s tired of fighting ignorant parents, imbecilic careerist administrators, and the vagaries of education politics. I urged her again to look into starting her own consulting or tutoring service; her constellation of talents and skills are wasted trying to hold back a flood.

            Reply
          3. jhallc

            Yes, teachers are much like the nurses union, and are a potential threat to the establishment. I don’t think it’s lost on the Democratic Party elite who the nurses union supported in the Primaries.

            Reply
        2. FluffytheObeseCat

          In Washoe County our public schools are at half capacity. The kids do half their work at home, half in person, rotating through part of each week. It’s not ideal but our winter COVID surge was not quite as bad as in the surrounding states, suggesting it is a reasonable compromise. However, the massive surges in Utah, Arizona and Southern California late last year and earlier this year seem most closely correlated with large numbers of citizens, across many employment groups, simply not masking and not social distancing. Until the deaths began to soar. Given that mass cultural choices appear to drive the disease surges, diatribes against small groups of workers seem off target.

          Teachers are also not the school board, nor do they ever sit on the boards in most places. Some of our commenters appear to have chosen to forget that basic organizational fact. Smearing our nation’s teachers by insinuating they all think like the petty fools on one Northern California school board is a malign and off base mischaracterization.

          Reply
          1. Janie

            A friend who teaches fifth grade in Carson City NV, directly south of Washoe Valley, was eligible for vaccination a couple of months ago, has had both shots and is teaching half of her students in person on alternating days. She seems comfortable with the situation, and she had not mentioned any loss of staff.

            Reply
      4. Pelham

        I certainly understand the anger of essential workers over this. They should have some choice, too.

        But being planted in one modestly sized classroom all day with 30 or so possible covid carriers is probably different in terms of infection exposure from, say, working in a supermarket many times the size of a classroom with only periodic exposure to passing shoppers. Of course, there are probably other essential-work situations that are worse than a classroom.

        As Lambert says, if we had had some rational descriptions from the start of the types of environments that pose differing degrees of danger rather than a series of confusing and ever-shifting bans and openings for various categories of gathering places — churches, bars, restaurants, etc. — we’d be a good deal better off and possibly less angry today.

        Reply
    4. jhallc

      My 28 year old daughter informed me yesterday, while visiting, that they are going back into the classrooms next week. She teaches pre-kindergarden children with disabilities at a working class suburb outside Boston with a high incidence of covid cases. The district is short classroom space and they put her in the old high school that was unused do to its leaking roof and other issues. They can only use a percentage of the classrooms due to the water issues. I can only imagine the state of the heating/ventilation system. When she started teaching there they put her in a windowless room for the first six months. I’m not sure I’ll be seeing her much once she starts back into the classroom since there is a much higher potential for her to pick up the virus. I’m not eligible for the vaccine until the next phase here in MA. I’m just under 65 with only one comorbidity, so don’t qualify for the current group. However, I work in a food pantry so I will get one in the group along with the teachers and other essential workers.

      Reply
      1. Rod

        I would be interested to hear her solution to the Teaching Crises.
        As a retired Educator, I have been trying to ask everyone i knew or is still “in the Classroom” how they would have set things up and proceeded.

        Lots of variations from the trenches is what I hear, though nobody-nobody at all I have spoken to– believes Virtual is the solution.

        Some of the more creative have suggested neighborhood or locality based ‘one room schoolhouses’ pods managed across mixed Grade Levels by Designated and Assigned Educators–like Satellites’ run out of designated Local spaces and utilizing Peer Education and Peer Tutoring with Parental Participation(supported) in the management of such.

        Reply
        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Between pre-existing labor issues, classroom distancing, and Covid retirements, there aren’t enough teachers to do much. My sister is an AP teacher, and she has heard the 9th grade is a total disaster. That 9th grade did most of 8th grade in person with an early to mid August start and no snow days.

          I think high school should have been put on the back burner for the time being to direct resources to younger kids.

          Reply
        2. jhallc

          I’m not exactly sure how they plan to manage. Her situation is likley to be different than a standard classroom. They are talking reduced daily class size from 10 down to 4-5 children ages 3-4. Not sure they can hire or even find more qualified teachers for children with severe disabilities. They let all the classroom aides go last year so it’s not certain if she will have a second adult in the room. They may go hybrid by splitting the 10 or so children into every other day groups. Not sure how this helps the parents to have such a irregular schedule. Lunch will be in the room and bathroom runs are likely to be an issue as many of her kids are not fully able to manage on their own. Mask wearing is another question for her kids. I really don’t know how they can structure this safely but, they’ll have to find a way.

          Reply
      2. ambrit

        s/ That surely is the Promised Land where you live! /s
        Down here in the North American Deep South, all the local ‘food pantries’ are religious or ‘private’ affairs. Indeed, I am at a loss to think of a single non-religious connected food pantry hereabouts. That being so, food pantry workers are not given ‘special’ status concerning vaccination. (Absent, of course, the “special” status their Deity of choice endows them with. [I have heard that exact argument put forward in debate with complete sincerity.]) They are “private” volunteers and thus fall into whatever category their ‘natural’ status demands.
        Our middle daughter is an “Adjunct Educator” near Baton Rouge and informs us that conditions there are chaotic at best. She and the grandchildren have already had the Covid. We try mightily not to worry about her and the grands, but, you know how it is. [I offered to buy her some veterinary I——–n but was told ‘not to worry.’]
        Hah! It’s Magical Thinking Turtles all the way down here in America!

        Reply
    5. drumlin woodchuckles

      One hopes that every last teacher can remain part of a Solid Wall of Rejection. If any teachers go back, extortionate pressure on more to go back will increase.

      If the dam cracks, it will break.

      Hopefully the teachers can torture a hostile system and a hostile Democratic Party into satisfying their requirements.

      Reply
  3. Andrew

    Had to laugh at NYT headline “Boeing calls for global grounding of all 777’s equipped with one engine model”
    If those planes take off as a two engine model are they legal to land as a one engine model?

    Reply
    1. rowlf

      Re 777 engines, à la Clarke and Dawe:

      Interviewer: So what happened in this case?
      Airline Spokesman: Well the front fell off in this case, by all means, but it’s very unusual.
      Interviewer: But why did the front of the engine fall off?
      Airline Spokesman: Well turbulence hit it.
      Interviewer: Turbulence hit it?
      Airline Spokesman: Turbulence hit the engine!
      Interviewer: Is that unusual?
      Airline Spokesman: Oh yeah! In the air? Chance in a million!

      Reply
      1. Maritimer

        Air Disasters is a TV show about that. 20 seasons. Unbelievable stuff. Human incompetence and engineering at its best/worst. Commercial free if you see your local Torrent dealer.

        Well educated, straight-shootin’ relatives of mine two years ago flew a puddle jumper with about twenty other passengers and a cockpit open to the passenger section. They were right at the front.

        The two pilots got on, got in their seats and one turns to the other: “Ever fly one of these before?”

        “No.”

        “Me neither”, answers the other pilot.

        One then asks: “Look and see if there’s a manual here.” Absolutely true story.

        Me I am heading for the exit.

        Reply
        1. vlade

          actually, they are pretty good at this. That is, as long as you don’t need to change directions much. Glide ratio (means the distance you can glide for a loss of one unit of altitude) for 747 is about 17, 777 has higher yet . A good recreational gliders are around 30.

          The problem is banking IIRC, as that can lose you a lot of altitude and speed very very quickly.

          Reply
          1. fresno dan

            vlade
            February 22, 2021 at 10:37 am
            I still don’t really believe air can support such tonnage – I think the Matrix makes us believe that…
            Never the less, say there just happened to be a runway in front of a disabled 747 or 777. Could these planes land (relatively safely) without any engines?
            thanks

            Reply
            1. ForeignNational(ist)

              It’s possible. A good pilot helps. This A330 glided 120 km from 10 km altitude to make an emergency landing at a military airfield after running out of fuel:
              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_Transat_Flight_236

              Wikipedia has a whole list of airline flights that involved gliding: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_airline_flights_that_required_gliding

              Here’s one where a 747 glided some distance before restarting the engines at a lower altitude: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KLM_Flight_867

              Reply
          2. wilroncanada

            I think it was a 767 flight by Air Canada from Montreal to Edmonton that ran out of fuel halfway and was “glided” to a safe landing in Gimli Manitoba, a former airbase converted to a car racing track. Faulty fuel gauges were exacerbated by logging metric measures as imperial in a dipstick check.

            Reply
  4. The Rev Kev

    “Al Jazeera Anchor, Victim of Pegasus Spyware, Sees ‘Campaign of Terror’ by Saudi, UAE Rulers”

    If I was Ghada Oueis, I would decline any offers by Saudi Arabia to fly there for “consultations” or to “give a statement” at any of the Saudi Arabian embassies. The case of Jamal Khashoggi is only so well known as he was the one that believed in Saudi assurances. Others who spoke up afterwards said that they had declined such invitations.

    Reply
  5. Katniss Everdeenrr

    RE: Silence About GOP Senators’ Hypocrisy The Daily Poster. David Sirota.

    So, politicians on both sides of the aisle are terminally corrupt, and the partisan propaganda industry picks one side to defend while attacking the other. The hackneyed charge of “hypocrisy” is made yet again.

    Film at 11.

    PS. Is everyone (anyone???) aware that our newly elected president is “expected” to deliver his first state of the union address tomorrow? Considering the deafening silence with which his recent townhall debacle was greeted, it would seem TPTB are “expecting” a barn burner.

    https://www.ap.org/live-and-location-services/events/state-of-the-union

    Reply
    1. Wukchumni

      PS. Is everyone (anyone???) aware that our newly elected president is “expected” to deliver his first state of the union address tomorrow? Considering the deafening silence with which his recent townhall debacle was greeted, it would seem TPTB are “expecting” a barn burner.

      Could Biden’s les Cent-Jours mark the period between the exiled ex-emperor’s return to power from his island unto himself in Palm Beach-not exactly Elba, Al adjacent, but you go with the name that fits the historical reference.

      His main claim to fame in office was riling up the crowd, and seeing how Biden has been as quiet as a church mouse online & in person, the former President’s adoring fans must be going through the D.T. D.T.’s

      Loved the ‘Joe is playing video games {and on a non violent one, imagine the reaction if he’d beat her on Grand Theft Auto?} with his granddaughter’ tale to make him seem relevant as we’re going through the throes of another Presidency where erasing your predecessor’s past performance remains a major pastime.

      Reply
        1. Wukchumni

          Who among us isn’t attracted to pulpit fiction, i’m considering splurging and getting the $59.95 HD pay per view of him on CPAC*, so I can see warts & all.

          * this sounds uncomfortably close to CPAP

          Reply
      1. Katniss Everdeen

        Loved the ‘Joe is playing video games {and on a non violent one, imagine the reaction if he’d beat her on Grand Theft Auto?} with his granddaughter’ tale….

        Ya know, every time I hear that story it gets more cringeworthy. I guess it’s supposed to be a heartwarming, image-correcting view of a family whose legacy business is government corruption. Grandpa and granddaughter just hangin’ out like regular law abiders, playin’ games and talkin’ “swag.”

        But damn, she’s not some cute little muppet in a dressy dress and Mary Janes. She’s an adult who brought her boyfriend and their dog along on the trip.

        I can’t help thinking that if JFK had been president, at biden’s age, with the nation facing as many “challenges” as it is right now, and he was spending time with JFK, Jr.’s or Caroline’s adult children, Mario Kart, whatever the hell that is but it sounds too childish for the leader of the free world and his adult spawn, would not be considered image enhancing, let alone something you wanted people to know you were doing.

        Reply
        1. Basil Pesto

          and he was spending time with JFK, Jr.’s or Caroline’s adult children, Mario Kart, whatever the hell that is but it sounds too childish for the leader of the free world and his adult spawn, would not be considered image enhancing, let alone something you wanted people to know you were doing.

          It’s not. It’s a hugely popular racing game franchise. It’s certainly geared towards children in terms of its art direction, but as with most (all?) Nintendo made games, its design is elegant and sophisticated enough to appeal to older audiences despite its outwardly child-friendly appearance. As the series has been around since 1993, it also rings the bell of nostalgia, making it something of a go-to for young adults, particularly when playing with others in the same room. It’s all pretty normal, benign stuff.

          Reply
        2. ambrit

          If it were the Veep we spoke of, I’m certain that I would have no pushback if I asserted that their favourite game was: “Grand Theft Autocrat.”

          Reply
    2. lordkoos

      Sirota is hardly partisan, he regularly and unsparingly critiques Democratic politicians and takes a lot of heat for it.

      Reply
      1. chuck roast

        I think that the point here is that saying that they are “hypocrites” is right up there with the old saw “ah, they are all crooks.” Which of course means nothing. As long as Sirota hews to this meaningless line he will continue to appear on Krystal and Saagar. If he decides to sharpen his blade he can carve out a spot on Substack.

        Reply
  6. zagonostra

    >Silence About GOP Senators’ Hypocrisy – The Daily Poster. David Sirota.

    A political press corps that has been transformed into partisan and corporate weaponry is now more averse to covering stories of corruption and avarice if those stories implicate figures in both parties shilling for corporate power.. the dynamic leaves hugely important news about bipartisan corruption in a media no man’s land .

    I’m not so sure “hypocrisy” really gets at the problem. Hypocrisy abides in many places in life without the kind of damage to the management of the political, social, and economic system we are living in. I think this is structural. The system is working the way it was designed. Without going after the underlying power that guides both political parties we are left to live in a wacko-mole world; Cuomo today, Cruz tomorrow, what does it matter when you can’t provide shelter, food, safety, for your family and leave some equity to your children.

    Reply
    1. zagonostra

      When politics gets beyond hypocrisy and there are real challenges to the underlying power structure you get this:

      >Malcolm X family says letter shows NYPD and FBI conspired in his murder

      Almost 56 years since the day Malcolm X was assassinated in New York City, lawyers and family members of the late civil rights and Black nationalist leader released new evidence they claim shows the NYPD and FBI conspired in his murder.

      https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/feb/21/malcolm-x-death-family-letter-nypd-fbi

      Reply
  7. Carla

    Another link of interest:

    By putting Big Pharma’s patents before patients, doctors will further erode trust in experts –Jonathan Cook

    “The doctors and researchers who have been gradually piecing together the critically important role of Vitamin D are the medical equivalent of the dissident journalists who try to present a realistic picture of what goes on in Israel-Palestine.

    Because Big Pharma can make no serious money from Vitamin D, researchers into the sun hormone have struggled to raise funds for their work and have mostly been denied corporate platforms from which to publicise the stunning findings they have made. Until recently, corporate medicine simply ignored most Vitamin D research, relegating it to the supposedly fringe science of “nutrition”, which is why most doctors know little or nothing about it.”

    https://www.jonathan-cook.net/blog/2021-02-22/doctors-vitamin-d-erode-trust/

    Note: Cook debunks the Brazil study claiming that Vitamin D was of no use in treating Covid-19 patients.

    Reply
    1. marieann

      I read that story with interest because a couple of weeks ago I read his article about Vitamin D and then last week I watched the numerous links floating around from “experts” about how vitamin d was ineffective and the studies were flawed and I even read a story from a doctor who explained that we don’t need to worry about vitamin d.
      What I did learn was that shouting at the computer is totally ineffective :)

      Reply
  8. Rod

    Katie Porter — one of Congress’ only single moms — has a plan to help caregivers AlterNet

    she says:
    I’m fortunate that my children’s child care provider has continued to come during COVID, but obviously I can’t afford to have him here every hour of every day that I’m working. Do I stretch the budget and try to get the amount of child care that would really represent my need? Or do I live with less and juggle? I think I’ve definitely been doing the live with less and juggle because I don’t have the resources. And I think that is really, really common.

    I’m having some problems making sense of this, and yes i realize that everyone situation is complicated and has differences–

    Porter was born on January 3, 1974, and grew up in the small farming community of Fort Dodge, Iowa.[4][5] Her father was a farmer-turned-banker.[6] Her mother, Liz, was a founder of Fons & Porter’s Love of Quilting.

    After graduating from Phillips Academy,[3][7] Porter attended Yale University, where she majored in American studies, graduating in 1996.[8] Her undergraduate thesis was titled The Effects of Corporate Farming on Rural Community.[9] She was a member of Grace Hopper College (then called Calhoun College) at Yale.[10] Porter also interned for Chuck Grassley during this time.[11]

    Porter later attended Harvard Law School, where she was the Notes editor for the Harvard Women’s Law Journal.[12] She studied under bankruptcy law professor and future U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, and graduated magna cum laude with her Juris Doctor in 2001.[6]

    combined with:

    People also ask
    How much does Congress make 2020?

    The compensation for most Senators, Representatives, Delegates, and the Resident Commissioner from Puerto Rico is $174,000. These levels have remained unchanged since 2009. Subsequent scheduled annual adjustments were denied by P.L.

    Just a reminder of my point of confusion here:

    The top 5% of households, three quarters of whom had two income earners, had incomes of $166,200 (about 10 times the 2009 US minimum wage, for one income earner, and about 5 times the 2009 US minimum wage for two income earners) or higher, with the top 10% having incomes well in excess of $100,000.

    Affluence in the United States – Wikipediaen.wikipedia.org › wiki › Affluence_in_the_United_States

    Reply
    1. Yves Smith

      Why don’t you try pulling out a calculator?

      Porter as a left-leaning Congresscritter is going to have to pay her caregiver(s) above board, which means FICA, income tax withholding, the whole nine yards.

      A living wage for a singe person in Washington is $20.10 an hour. For a single person with one kid, it’s $37.88. If instead the kid is in CA, it’s not much different (and is worse). Biggest city in her district is Irvine and the living wage for a single person is $20.50 an hour.

      Porter would have to pay the employer % of FICA, so that adds 7.65%, and as far as I can tell, unemployment insurance is another 2.7% but I believe the employer is liable only on the first $8000 (experts please correct.. So now we are up to $21.65 an hour plus $216, assuming only one carer, which seems unlikely. Porter will also have to pay for reporting (W-2), so take the admin costs take the total up to $22 an hour. This is bare minimum pay. Porter may pay more. I paid my cleaning woman $30 an hour in NYC. We pay our aides (who do a hell of a lot less in the way of active work than a nanny would, they spend 75-80% of their shifts sitting next to my mother watching TV) not that much less than that in much lower cost Alabama.

      Assume further that Porter needs care 50 weeks a year, 9-5. She likely needs more since she has to get to and from work, may take the nanny with her when she travels or alternatively had nannies full time if she goes on trips to see constituents, or conversely goes to DC. She can’t be yanking her kid out of school. Congresscritters are effectively long distance commuters.

      That’s $54,760. After tax. Not one penny is deductible.

      Porter is a CA resident for tax purposes. Federal marginal tax rate is 24% from $85,000 to $163,000 ish, 32% over that. Her CA marginal rate is 9.3%. For simplicity, even though not quite right, we’ll treat her marginal tax rate as 40%. So for her to pay that $54,760 after tax, she needs over $91,000 in income. She has only $83,000 left. And that includes the cost of two residences. She has to live in CA and DC.

      Reply
      1. John Zelnicker

        @Yves Smith
        February 22, 2021 at 10:07 am
        ——-

        Your analysis misses a couple of important details, and made one critical mistake. I’m a tax accountant in Mobile, so I’m only familiar with Federal and Alabama rules.

        The mistake is that the cost to the taxpayer for household employees is tax deductible, including wages and all employer-side taxes paid, such as FICA and unemployment insurance.

        The rate for Alabama unemployment insurance starts at 2.7% plus an additional .06% assessment (these are adjusted after a few years according to claims experience), on the first $8,000 of wages. However, you overlooked the federal unemployment tax which is 0.06% on the first $7,000 of wages.

        Ms. Porter would also be eligible for the Dependent Care Credit which, at her income level, is 20% of the first $3,000 of child care costs for one child or $6,000 for more than one child.

        There is also a Child Tax Credit ($2,000 per child under 17) for which she would qualify unless she has a lot more income in addition to her Congressional salary.

        The result is that her tax situation is better than you calculated, but the child care expenses do have to come out of her paycheck, regardless of the tax consequences.

        Reply
        1. Yves Smith

          FUTA is $42, so it is the functional equivalent of nothing. I indicated that this was approximate since I was not using the precise marginal tax rate. And I was using CA and Washington DC, and DC also indicates 2.7% unemployment rate up to a cap. It was $7,000 but the date of the form was a few years back so I assumed $8,000 but was unable to run that down on a current basis.

          I just spoke to one of the top tax experts in the US (as in has been listed as one of the most influential; writes analyses that tax experts rely on and lectures around the world,) who concurs with what I wrote.

          She cannot deduct her nanny from her taxes. A tax credit is not a deduction so my comment is correct as written.

          Porter lives in two of the most expensive places in the US. And her Federal and state income taxes are so high that her tax credit is meaningless in the overall scheme of things. She has high cash on cash expenses.

          Reply
          1. John Zelnicker

            @Yves Smith
            February 22, 2021 at 4:12 pm
            ——-

            You are right, it’s correct as written. The thing I missed was the tax credit instead of deductibility. I was trying to provide additional information more than anything else.

            I was sloppy, my apologies. My excuse is that I’m in the middle of tax season and really shouldn’t be spending time making comments, although you did ask and I couldn’t resist.

            Reply
      2. Darthbobber

        And unlike most gigs, being in Congress usually requires you to maintain two residences. One back home, one in Washington.

        Reply
      3. Rod

        Thank you for the response.
        And the suggestion.
        In anticipation, I did before posting using 38% off the top–leaving about $108,000 net for the year, or about $300.00 net per day (assuming the work critical and requiring all 365 days to be worked)–which as you know is well above any average.

        If I were in this position I thought I would probably hire a full time Caretaker:

        https://www.ziprecruiter.com/Salaries/Home-Day-Care-Provider-Salary–in-California

        As of Feb 15, 2021, the average annual pay for a Home Day Care Provider in California is $27,632 an year. Just in case you need a simple salary calculator, that works out to be approximately $13.28 an hour. This is the equivalent of $531/week or $2,303/month.

        While ZipRecruiter is seeing salaries as high as $65,377 and as low as $11,306, the majority of Home Day Care Provider salaries currently range between $20,153 (25th percentile) to $29,493 (75th percentile) with top earners (90th percentile) making $47,189 annually in California.

        All kids are our future so I used $50,000 or 24.00$ an hour ($65,000 out of pocket–50k+30%) giving net 35K (50k – 30%) to the provider.

        Now, ~$108,000 – $65,000 = net ~ $43,000. Looks tight– for a bi-coastal, two home household, on paper for sure.

        But there are add backs, no?
        Employee Expenses(DC Rental and Expenses)
        Employer Expenses.
        Dependent Care Credits
        Child Tax Credit
        and, Child Support–
        ( What is the minimum child support in California?
        Only the non-custodial parent’s income is considered. The flat percentage of the non-custodial parent’s income that must be dedicated to child support is 25% percent for one child. The non-custodial parent will pay $625 a month.Feb 2, 2021

        3kidsx$625ea.x12mo. = $22,500 yr. Gross

        Granted, if you are just cash poor, credits help little, and as JZ pointed out, she is putting out the cash on the front end, and it is tight. And complicated as a personal budget.

        This is what got me wound up, her proposal: Had her bill been adopted in 2020, families could have set aside $11,800 in pre-tax dollars for dependent care.
        40 x min wage 7.25=$290 x 52 = $15,080 gross, so at what wage does one have 12k to set aside?

        But she was not a pauper that made it into, and won, the Congressional Race–in California.

        Reply
        1. Yves Smith

          You clearly haven’t ever hired these services.

          That “home care provider” is not a nanny. Nanny implies some involvement in teaching as well as home/kid minding, as in some level of education in the nanny person.

          That I rate I guarantee is a home health care aide. And I can also tell you FROM EXPERIENCE that those figures are for people who are not being hired to engage with children. They may be nice enough but even a teenaged baby sitter is typically more involved with the kids, as opposed to merely making sure they don’t kill themselves, which kids seem wired to try to do.

          I am in Birmingham, whose cost of living is 60% of the US norms, and is certainly way below what living in DC and California costs.

          Down here I am having to pay far more than those figures for at best OK home health care aides. And they don’t cook and only do bare minimum cleaning, like wiping counters, doing laundry, and loading and unloading the dishwasher and once in a great while sweeping the floor. We still have to have a cleaning service in every 2-3 weeks to vacuum, clean toilets and bathroom floors and showers, and every other time clean the refrigerator.

          This is not to criticize these aides per se. Sadly the home health care agencies pay low wages and accordingly set low service standards. Even with paying markedly above market, it’s hard to find people who will exceed well-established norms for that role.

          Reply
          1. Roger

            She should just get on a committee which provides her with enough insider information to become a multi-millionaire, what does she think she has public office for – to serve the plebs? Then do a deal with rich corporations that will be rewarded with later highly paid speaking engagements, following Obama’s lead.

            Reply
    2. Katniss Everdeen

      I [Porter] have three kids. One’s in high school, one’s in middle school, one’s in elementary. None of them are in school at the same time. Obviously some of them entertain themselves, whether that’s an iPad, or play basketball in the driveway, or playing with toys or reading. But we’re definitely kind of straining our Wifi to its maximum.

      Not to put too fine a point on it, but I’m so old, I can remember a time when a high schooler could be expected to take some responsibility for minding his/her younger siblings when the parents were at work or otherwise unable. That was pre-ipad and video gaming, of course, but also pre-microwave / microwaveable mac-and-cheese and uber eats.

      I also hear tell that in Porter’s California, there are ten-year-old undocumented children picking vegetables to help support their families, and maintain americans and big ag in the living standards to which they have become accustomed.

      This is not to say there’s not a childcare crisis for many in this country, just that any tears I might be inclined to cry for the likes of Porter would be the crocodile kind.

      Reply
      1. lordkoos

        Porter is one of the better people in congress right now so why dump on her? As a single mom she’s juggling a lot.

        There is probably nothing teens hate more than being forced to babysit younger siblings, especially if it becomes a full-time thing, and I’m guessing Porter is forced to be MIA much of the time due to the demands of her job. I don’t know if you are a parent yourself or not, but that thing of forcing high school kids to be responsible for their younger siblings doesn’t always work out well, especially for the younger one who get to be on the receiving end of the older kids’ anger.

        Throughout her high school and middle school years my wife was forced to be caretaker of her siblings who were much younger & she still feels resentment over it.

        Reply
      2. Carla

        Well, as the sole single working mom in Congress, I’m sure Katie Porter regularly faces more trenchant and genuinely threatening criticism than that dished out on NC this morning.

        Thanks to Yves and John Zelnicker for informative comments.

        Reply
      3. fresno dan

        Katniss Everdeen
        February 22, 2021 at 10:23 am

        I can remember being left alone when I was 9 or 10 and cooking my own spaghettio’s for lunch…

        Reply
      4. Barbara

        Ah, how times have changed. I’m a post-Great Depression baby. My mother went back to work when I entered kindergarten. My sister, five years older was supposed to look after me. But she was in school full-time and kindergarten back in the 1940s was half-time. So half the day I had to look after myself. You think, once I figured out how to take care of myself, I wanted my big sister bossing me around?

        In the 1940s working class-ascending to middle class urban neighborhoods, kids went outdoors and played with whoever was there and learned about character and friendship in a hands-on way.

        When I had children, parents had become a little more protective, but quite a bit of childhood independence remailed.

        Now, we get to my grandchilden’s generation, and I swear we’ve gone all the way back to the Victorian era and children only meet children officially approved of by the standards met by class.

        My daughter-in-law suggested that I teach my oldest how to crochet. I asked my granddaughter if she wanted to do that and she enthusiastically said yes.

        So I arrived with crocheting supplies and began the lesson. As she was proceeding with crocheting a simple square, she stopped and did a little shiver and said, “Oh, I’m going to get a lot of points doing this!”

        “What,” I asked, “is this for Girl Scouts or something?”

        She pulled the crochet square to cover her face, and she pointed the crochet hook toward the kitchen where her mother was and, her eyes all merry, whispered: “They pay me to be good.”

        “What??” I whispered back. “Tell me more. .” Although I wasn’t sure I really wanted to know.

        It seems her parents found a cellphone app where they could award points to children for how they spent their time. Each week she got a small amount of money for her points. And at the end of the month if she had accumulated a certain number of points, she got $20.

        Privately appalled, I asked her how it was working out for her. She pulled herself up to her full height and said, “Oh, I get my $20 every month.”

        I leaned over to her and said, “You’re making out like a bandit.” We both collapsed in giggles, and laughed ourselves silly.

        I bet both sides think they’re very clever.

        I just shake my head.

        Reply
        1. Wukchumni

          I was a much overlooked lack of talent in little league, but who cared how well you performed, my mom usually was in the stands on the appropriate side with other mothers mostly, some dads, but the games were usually when fathers were working.

          Youth soccer is something else now, my nephew was 10 and on a team losing 5-0 against the other team in some sort of tournament, when one of the players fathers practically screamed from the sidelines for them all to hear: ‘There’s $10 for the next boy on our team who scores a goal!’

          And the not quite equalizer happened, with our team on the wrong side 7-2 in an embarrassing way to lose fashion, totally dominated by the other team…

          …and then afterwards I saw the young goal scorer collecting his Hamilton

          Meanwhile, my brother in law is videoing all the action from his smartphone, and he & his son will play it on the 72 inch HD TV @ home, to go over his play on the pitch.

          Reply
          1. Lambert Strether

            > when one of the players fathers practically screamed from the sidelines for them all to hear: ‘There’s $10 for the next boy on our team who scores a goal!’

            That’s like the first scene of a horrible, horrible movie. (I mean, the movie might be great, but the people and the setting..).

            Reply
    3. CloverBee

      I think the bagging on Katie Porter for commenting on how challenging this is for her, and how it must be so much harder for other parents, is amazing. She is pushing to increase the ability working parents can set aside for childcare, currently $5,000. About 40% of what I pay for 1 child. She was not complaining, she was using her experience as empathy and a spring board to discuss helping working families.

      I know 2 working-parent PMC households who have decided not to have more than 2 kids due to the cost, and even at exorbitent costs is not *great*.

      Our governor in Colorado is working on improving this environment, and started by requiring all public schools to offer full-day kindgertaren tuition free, which does not impact charter schools. They recently passed Universal Pre-School, but that has yet to be implemented. Combined with this is improving education for Pre-School and Child Care workers.

      Reply
    4. Eclair

      I was a single parent, with two children, grad school and part-time job, then a full-time job. The juggling was intense.

      Why can’t we admit that the task of raising children is the most important job most of us will ever have? And most of that labor falls on women, not only the actual birthing and breast-feeding, which can’t be done by male partners, but also the household management, the meal-planning and laundry, the doctors’ appointments and the pick-ups at soccer practice and music lessons. (OK, more males are taking part in this work.) And, it is unpaid. All those labor hours, which produces the next generation of workers, a valuable commodity whose labor hours will be paid and will become a part of the GDP. Woman (and some men) do all that work for no monetary compensation. Which, in our capitalist society , has become the sole measure of a person’s worth.

      Our Social Security system works. Task it with depositing monthly stipends into accounts set up (at the USPS?) for each child, from birth through age 18. Give it to every child, no matter what the parents’ income. As we do with Social Security retirement benefits for recipients whose income is above a certain level, tax it back through parents’ federal tax returns.

      Reply
      1. marieann

        and we will call it the Baby Bonus…….that money really helped us when our kids were young and it was taxed back if one earned enough.
        This is in Canada and it’s still going strong as far as I know.

        Reply
      2. Rod

        Why can’t we admit that the task of raising children is the most important job most of us will ever have?
        imo, pure truth and we would be better to say it out loud often. the future is riding on it.

        Reply
  9. The Rev Kev

    “Iran, IAEA agree to nuclear inspection deal with less access”

    Looks like Iran wants to be seen as the accommodating partner here but I doubt that it will go anywhere. Iran says that Biden should fulfill the nuclear treaty that the US signed years ago and that Iran will reciprocate by doing the same. Biden’s position is that Iran should fulfill all their obligations to the treaty while the US keeps up all the sanctions imposed by Trump. Then, when they have done that, then and only then will the US start to negotiate what is essentially a brand new treaty – all the while keeping up the sanctions routine. But to guarantee that it goes nowhere, he wants to bring in Israel and Saudi Arabia who want no treaty at all. But then Iran says that if you are incapable of fulfilling the original treaty, how can you be depended on fulfilling a brand new treaty? This may not end up in a war in the next four years but if it ends up with military actions being taken, I would not be surprised.

    Reply
    1. km

      Iran cannot make a deal that will please the United States, because no deal can give Saudi Arabia and Israel what they really want.

      Saudi Arabia’s real objection to Iran is that Iran is Shia. No deal can change that.

      Israel’s real objection to Iran is that it exists. No deal can change that, either.

      Reply
      1. Jason

        Iran cannot make a deal that will please the United States, because no deal can give Saudi Arabia and Israel what they really want.

        Which is the same thing as saying that the United States doesn’t operate in its own interests or control its own affairs (in this particular arena anyway).

        Reply
    2. Wukchumni

      I hear IAEA & IKEA have merged with the chairman of the pressboard supplying reasonably priced easy to assemble nuclear inspection kits to the agency.

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        The Instructions for building the kits also come in both Euclidean and Boolean geometry systems. And, if you fold the instructions sheets just right….

        Reply
    3. Polar Socialist

      A. Timokhin, Russian journalist specializing on navies, wrote recently that it would serve Russian interest to modernize and build up the Iranian navy (and Russia has enough ships “retired” but not scrapped available right now) firstly by forcing US Navy to stretch itself by allocating more resources to the area (and thus having less resources to pester Russian Navy in Black Sea, Baltic Sea or Pacific), and secondly Iran could protect it’s oil shipments to Venezuela by itself and not need Russian Navy for that.

      According to him the main problem with this is that Russia can’t afford a conflict with Israel, because trough them Russia has access to all the needed, but sanctioned, technology at the moment. So, Russia can’t help Iran to build a functioning Navy with proper ships. But China can, if Iranians allow and Chinese should feel the need to distract USA.

      I would assume that an Iranian Udaloy or two visiting Puerto Cabello or Havana on a “freedom of navigation” mission would annoy Pentagon and White House enormously.

      Reply
      1. Bill Smith

        The Iranians would have to maintain whatever they got from Russia. This would be a significant amount of work. Not as significant as maintaining the Kilos (which are all in drydock for that reason) but still a lot of work. The likelihood of whatever the Iranians got from Russia showing up in the Caribbean is pretty small.

        But I get your point.

        Reply
  10. jefemt

    Nice juxtaposition of the antidote exotic threatened pheasant and the Ladakh flip from hunting to sustainable tourism . Thank you!

    Reply
  11. antidlc

    Columnist at DMN has written about Texas energy deregulation for years. Here are a couple of his columns.

    https://www.dallasnews.com/news/watchdog/2020/01/24/yo-arizona-dont-deregulate-your-electricity-market-like-texas-unless-you-want-games-galore/

    https://www.dallasnews.com/news/watchdog/2021/02/19/no-surprise-our-electricity-system-is-the-laughingstock-of-the-us-only-customers-cared-until-now/
    He places a lot of blame in this article, but omits:
    1) Dubya who in 1999 as governor passed deregulation bill.
    2) the voters who put Dubya, Rick Perry, Abbott, et al. in office.

    Reply
    1. Sharron

      My kids went to school with his and we were in the same community for years. He writes some great consumer information. I even re-read his electric rate column every year as I have deal with the god forsaken deregulated mess the repubs have in place here in Texas. Unless something has changed, he is in thick with the shakers and movers in Northeast Metro Plex of Dallas Fort Worth area and wouldn’t want to attack that group too harshly.

      Reply
  12. Wukchumni

    Wow, it was a decade ago when we were in NZ as the Christchurch quake hit. We’d done an amazing overnight trip on a boat on the Doubtful Sound where it rained buckets during the night and into the early morning, resulting in thousands of waterfalls en route as we came back from the mouth of the Tasman. I’ve never seen such a display~

    We were driving to Queenstown and unless the road buckles underneath you, there is no sensation when doing 100 klicks, we only found out on the radio. When we got to our motel in Queenstown, the desk clerk told us what an effect it had on him 300 miles from the epicenter, shook him up.

    We’d been in ChCh maybe a week before and it had been hit by a 7.1 quake in September the previous year, and if anything we were surprised how relatively few buildings were damaged & red-tagged from a temblor that size, but it was centered 25 miles away and deeper so as to dampen damage.

    The 6.3 main event was an aftershock, shallower and closer in. I couldn’t believe the damage it did. We’d stayed @ a hotel named the Grand Chancellor some years past and it was a 26 story building, which ended up giving it a leaning tower of Pisa look post-quake, and it had to be taken down.

    Everybody in Cali knows the drill, but we haven’t had anything of substance in 115 years, and now would be a good time to see how you stand in terms of preparedness, whats in your make it through a week kit being in a lone state of your own affairs?

    Reply
  13. Darthbobber

    Taibbi, Marcuse etc.
    One Dimensional Man was the first Marcuse work I encountered. The Repressive Tolerance stuff, which did nothing for me, came later. I don’t really find Marcuse (or others in the rather heterogenous Frankfurt School) pseudointellectual, though the term certainly describes many of their epigones, who use quotes from them to illustrate polemics of all varieties, often with little indication that they actually understand or have engaged in any meaningful way with the works they cite.

    By the time we’re talking about this work in relationship to 1950s and 60s America and western Europe, it has to be seen against the background of the developments in capitalism they were operating within. The postwar relative affluence in the United States and in western Europe once the respective rebuilding “economic miracles” gets under way there puts paid for awhile to the assumed revolutionary trajectory that was the received scripture of the prewar period. The proletariat, in particular, seems to be stubbornly refusing to fulfill its ordained role in leading the movement against capitalism per se. Even where the official doctrine remains revolutionary, as with the French and Italian CPs, the bulk of the practice involves the fight for improved conditions within capitalism. And the very fact that this fight produces pretty good results for organized workers for about 25 to 30 years causes the explicitly revolutionary trends to continue to wane. (In the US one can add to this the successful effort to exclude the commies from the union movement at the leadership level.)

    A lot of Frankfurt School theorizing, whether Marcuse, Fromm, Adorno, or others, starts looking for “big, big” social and cultural explanations for why this is. For the explicitly Marxist people, there’s also a change in which parts of Marx get focused on and talked about. Discussion centred around central works like Capital gets replaced by (not useless by any means) discussions of alienation, understood variously, and the nature of work whether well or badly compensated. These discussions were not without value, but they became the focus because this was the era in which capitalism (in the west) was appearing to produce better results than it had in the past (or ever would again). Even the on-the-surface revolutionary movements like the Italian autonomists assumed a continuation of strong bargaining power for western workers and seemingly endless growth.

    Marcuse and others are sort of embarked on a search for a Unified Field Theory of why they’re losing, and for some kind of cultural superweapon that will intellectually bypass the very real entrenchments the status qu has in the material world.

    The tolerance blather tends to me to hark back to 20s and 30s Diamat and Histomat invocations of the superiority of “proletarian” to “bourgeois” democracy, and the need for the dictatorship ostensibly on behalf of the proletariat to use social and political control to break the post-revolutionary resistance of the bourgeoisie. (Bourgeoisie eventually acquiring the technical meaning of anybody who disagrees with the current trajectory of anything, emphatically including workers whose mere subjective understanding of their desires conflicts with their superiors’ objective and scientific assessment of their real needs.)

    The difference being that all the diamat and histomat stuff was deployed to either justify the acts of people who HAD taken power, or the tactics of movements who saw themselves as credibly on the edge of doing so. By the time Marcuse is trotting out his rehashing of this its more like what one of his conservative critics called “the spectacle of a powerless minority threatening to withold tolerance from the overwhelming majority.”
    -and I stop here arbitrarily, having other things to do at the moment.

    Reply
    1. pjay

      Thanks for taking the time to illustrate what Taibbi ignores: that the work of Marcuse and the other Frankfurt theorists reflect particular intellectual problems in particular historical time periods.

      Taibbi admits at the beginning of this video that he never read Marcuse. As Eskow points out (ever so gently), he starts with a preconceived bias because Marcuse was supposedly the intellectual guru of the New Left, which supposedly morphed into today’s intolerant Id-pol. We are all familiar with the classic “critique” of Marx by people who never really read him, but who blame Marx for Stalin so they cite him selectively to “prove” their case. Taibbi does the same thing with Marcuse. He takes Marcuse’s most problematic work (even many of his admirers — including me way back in the day — had problems with it), and yanks it out of its historical context to link it to today’s PMC calls for censorship. Worse, while I am somewhat sympathetic to Taibbi’s criticism of “Repressive Tolerance,” his remarks on One-Dimensional Man are incoherent. A lot has changed since 1964, but there is still much in that work on our commodified, mass-mediated, “repressively desublimated,” “totally administered” society that is relevant today, perhaps even more so. Taibbi does not really engage Marcuse’s work at all, including his real flaws (which are also educational). Rather, he creates a straw-man caricature and then tears him down.

      To some extent, all “intellectuals” writing about life and death issues from safe academic or literary platforms can be seen as fatuous. The bad ones use ideas to legitimate systems of power and repression. The worst ones justify systems of power and repression while claiming to do the opposite. For all his flaws, Marcuse does not deserve to be lumped with the latter. In doing so, Taibbi undermines his own critique of liberal pseudo-intellectuals by being as intellectually shallow as his targets.

      Reply
      1. Darthbobber

        I suspect that if Taibbi were actually read One Dimensional Man even at this late date he would find a goodly amount of stuff there to which he would assent. While I suppose you COULD contrive to see the other work (on tolerance) as some kind of great-uncle of “cancel culture” (though you’d have to explain why it manifests itself when Marcuse is long since in the grave and not when his influence is at its peak), there’s a rather long section I’ll group under “authoritarian ritualization of discourse” which Marcuse is at pains to expose and attack, and into which the cancel culture manifestations Taibbi complains of today would easily fit as a subset.

        And there’s a lot else in 1DM. The look at how the developing “industrial sociology” strives to mandate seeing problems on an individual rather than collective level. The “operational” (I’m tempted to say nominalist, but I’ll stick with Marcuse’s word) definition of terms like “Democracy”, “Free”, and among the Communists “Socialism” are freed from any objective content that would let a person criticize a society in terms of them, and become names for whatever a social order claiming to be those things actually does.

        A buddy of mine who was what he called a “journeyman assistant professor” used to actually use 1DM in an English Lit class with Brave New World and 1984 as an academic companion piece to those dystopian fictions because of the similarities he saw as analyses of actual and possible regimes of social control.

        Reply
        1. flora

          Thank you both for these in-depth comments. I now wonder what the term ‘authoritarian ritualized discourse’ means and how Marcuse meant it. Your above comment is my first encounter with the term.

          Reply
    1. Wukchumni

      Wow, stunning that. I wonder what will be left of us 17,300 years from now aside from ‘learn to code’ becoming a permanent part of the lexicon.

      Funny how our ‘old masters’ are really only worth the big bickies in a frame with the exception of Jeff Koons, the Last Supper & Sistine Chapel. I saw the latter before and after the big restoration that did away with over 4 centuries of soot, exhalations and whatnot which had given it a real sinister look, and then when I saw it with fresh eyes all cleaned up, it was as if Michelangelo was truly the painter of light (sorry Kinkade) and it was incandescent.

      Reply
      1. Procopius

        I doubt there will be very much left of us in 17,300 years. We’ve already lost much of the documentation of the early development of computers. Even in the rare cases where some storage medium still holds text or graphics, no one knows how to decode it. For example, there were computers using 11-bit words. The byte was not a standard size, and even since my introduction to computing has varied from 8 to 64 bits. Some computers used a format with the high value at the right end, others with the high value bits at the left end (used to be called Big Ender and Little Ender from Johathon Swift’s novel, IIRC). Recently my nephew asked if I had copies of the CDs from his wedding — his were no longer readable. That’s only ten years. Parchment was pretty durable; papyrus not so much, but still a lot more durable than paper. We have nothing like the tens (hundreds?) of thousands of baked clay tablets left by the civilizations of Mesopotamia, and those are from only about 5,000 years ago. Do people ever look at pictures they took five years ago? Do they still know who those people were?

        Reply
  14. Unfinished

    RE: Are Cities Finished?

    “To support this process – and help maintain flexibility and speed in urban innovation after the pandemic – leaders should consider creating participatory digital platforms to enable residents to communicate their needs.”

    Here is an article looking at how when Christchurch literally needed to rebuild after their massive quakes it fell far short of it’s goal to “build back better”. This despite widespread public input.

    https://slate.com/business/2021/02/christchurch-earthquake-anniversary-how-the-rebuild-failed.html

    Reply
    1. RMO

      This kind of presumes that 1: the “digital platform” will be neutral and available to everyone and 2: the “leaders” will actually pay any attention to it whatsoever.

      I mean this could happen but my experiences with public input suggest that either the input will be manipulated to support what those in charge want to do or they’ll just flat out ignore it and do what they want to do anyways.

      Reply
  15. Wukchumni

    On our family Zoom* jam my sister asked when we were going to get electric cars, and when I told her no hurry, i’ve got to get another decade and 150,00 miles out of the truck, she was kind of shocked having stereotyped us for them there environmentalists who have to look the part, as to one who is sentimental of his environment and does his part to pick up trash on the trails & a mile of Hwy 198.

    This season is over and we had teams of 3 & 5 on different days combing the sloth underbelly on either side of the DMZ (de-motorized zone-that 12 inch wide great yellow divide with black inside) and everything goes into large white plastic CalTrans bags, which we leave just off the curb as they get filled up with pluckings on just the other side of the asphalt.

    These 33 or so bags are left by the side of the road before getting picked up for a week or 2 after in silent tribute to us, all awhile our mile stretch looks marvelous, we’re pretty meticulous in getting everything, one broken beer bottle can turn into 47 pieces of beer bottle, being a real bother.

    Cigarette butts were winners again in best overall performer in quantity with say 99, the usual kinds of beer cans & bottles (hopefully intact) strewn so as to get rid of the evidence of somebody drinking & driving, relatively few soft drink cans & plastic bottles (never glass). Masks were here and there, maybe I picked up 15 of them. Didn’t find any money…

    * For us, the most beneficial thing of the pandemic, once a week, we have an hour Zoom of what looks like the Brady Bunch tv show introduction, all of us in our squares on the screen.

    Pre-pandemic, this get together with all of us & mom would’ve happened once a year, maybe two times.

    Now we see her every week and although I haven’t been with her in physical presence in over a year, I feel closer.

    Reply
  16. Jason Boxman

    So the hilarious thing about Tanden is that it’s Manchin, and now Collins, that are saying “no”. Not Sanders, of course. This is kind of like when the Tea Party sabotaged Obama’s Grand Bargain with House Speaker John Boehner.

    I’m still waiting for someone from the ostensible left to actually exercise power.

    Reply
    1. km

      I enjoy teeing off on Sanders and ostensibly leftist congressmen as much as anyone, but why does Sanders need to expose himself to criticism by opposing Tandem, if enough others are willing to do it instead?

      Reply
      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        I agree. Bill Belichick’s defensive theory (2 Super Bowls with the Giants as defensive coordinator who swore that mortgaging the farm to get Lawrence Taylor would payoff) is to attack strengths not weaknesses as weaknesses take care of themselves.

        Tanden is an undisciplined clown who doesn’t have a resume to demand a position like OMB and bungled the 2016 layup. She was going to fail to get the votes or force Biden to fire her.

        Reply
  17. lobelia

    [Obama, Kamala, Nancy, Schiff, Dr. Zeke] Biden seems set to pick fight over Rahm Emanuel

    That was quick (though no shock). Who knew™ that Black Lives, and Cop violence in general – much like illegal immigrant lives, and public student lives (e.g. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/rahms-lie-about-charters-_b_821373 , and https://jonathanturley.org/2013/06/23/rahm-emanuels-reform-of-the-chicago-public-schools/ ) really didn’t matter, at all, to the current Undesired and Unelecteds in the White House; outside of winning the election?

    Why not bring that third Emanuel Brother, Hollywood Ari, on board too, for a triad.

    Revolting.

    gotta run

    Reply
    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      This is where their heart is. They claim they don’t want to lose political capital on fixing the USPS and firing DeJoy, but when Rahm Emanuel can’t get a job, its all hands on deck. Except for Zeke, I can’t imagine Ari cares, is there a Rahm Emanuel voting bloc?

      Reply
  18. chuck roast

    I still haven’t gotten my jab yet. I’m kinda waiting it out. So, I’m left wondering what would be worse…getting a lung-full of the Covid or getting a pants-full of Novichok like Navalny and the Skripals. I’m going with the worlds worst nerve agent over the world’s worse coronavirus.

    Reply
  19. juno mas

    RE: Are cities finished?

    Mine is. It will be consumed by the ocean over the next fifty years. It’s sandy tourist attracting beaches will be history. The underground, coastal hugging infrastructure will corrode due to salt water intrusion. It will no longer drain storm runoff efficiently. Sewer system will be inundated. Tourists will be gone. 2000 slip mall craft harbor submerged. Seagull population will diminish with loss of anthropomorphic food scraps.

    Reply
  20. fringe element

    I don’t have a deep understanding of Marcuse, but I did read enough to know that he learned from the post-war prosperity he observed in the U.S. He concluded that going forward, societal change would come from the technical intelligensia, not the proletariat, fwiw.

    Reply

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