Links 2/26/2021

Turtles Caught in Disastrous Oil Spill Treated With Mayonnaise Smithsonian

Sniffing out trouble! Blind and deaf ‘ninja’ spaniel Curtis is caught on camera stealing food off kitchen counters in the dead of night Daily Mail

Bond Tantrum Is a Big Test of Central Banks’ Mettle Bloomberg

McKinsey partners sacrifice leader in ‘ritual cleansing’ FT. That’s a damn shame.

Information on factory farms is spotty at best. The government has been hogtied from doing more. Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting

1 big thing: The NFT frenzy Felix Salmon, Axios Capital


Why global Covid infections have plummeted FT

Mechanistic transmission modeling of COVID-19 on the Diamond Princess cruise ship demonstrates the importance of aerosol transmission PNAS

SPI-M-O: Summary of modelling on scenarios for easing restrictions (PDF) SAGE. Commentary:

Lessons from applied large-scale pooling of 133,816 SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR tests Science. From the Discussion: “Overall, we tested 133,816 samples using 32,466 RT-PCR tests with a global efficiency of 4.121, saving 101,350 (76%) RT-PCR reactions.” Pooling works!

CDC estimated a one-year decline in life expectancy in 2020. Not so — try five days STAT. Hmm. Readers?

We’ve been cooped up with our families for almost a year. This is the result. WaPo

An Inside Look at BC’S Illicit Drug Market During the Covid-19 Pandemic BC Medical Journal (IM).


China-US relations: ‘let’s fix our own national messes before competing with Beijing’, says former diplomat Chas Freeman, South China Morning Post. Interpreter for Richard Nixon during his trip to China in 1972.

How the WTO Changed China Foreign Affairs

China celebrates official end of extreme poverty, lauds Xi AP

What’s Behind China’s Divorce Crackdown? Bloomberg

Taiwan’s chip industry under threat as drought turns critical Nikkei Asian Review

For Cambodian workers, obscure new border crossing makes for uncertain journey home Globe_

Singapore: Police officer’s wife admits to killing Myanmar maid BBC


World Bank halts payment requests on Myanmar projects made after Feb 1 coup Reuters

Coup chaos in Myanmar leaves employers fretting over paying staff Reuters. As predicted.

Facebook bans Myanmar military from its platforms with immediate effect Reuters

Digital platform law approved by Australian Parliament The Hill

The Koreas

Zombies are everywhere in South Korea, feeding on fears and anxieties Los Angeles Times

Medical oxygen scarce in Africa, Latin America amid virus AP


Khashoggi killing report will test US-Saudi relations FT

10-20 American mouthpieces for Israeli government had unrivaled access to Obama White House — Rhodes Mondweiss

Fighting to Go Home: Operation Desert Storm, 30 Years Later The War Horse


Alex Salmond will give evidence to Holyrood inquiry today after Sturgeon claimed the ‘integrity of Scotland’s independent justice institutions’ was being ‘sacrificed on the altar of the ego of one man’ in bitter SNP civil war Daily Mail

£25,000 Reward Offered for Copy of Geoff Aberdein Testimony Craig Murray

Kingspan used BRE report on failed test as basis for 29 desktop studies, Grenfell Tower Inquiry reveals Inside Housing

The Great Cronyism Coverup Tribune

New Cold War

EU says it does not need Nord Stream 2, but only Germany can block it Hellenic Shipping News

Biden must freeze Putin’s pipeline and prevent this “bad deal for Europe” The Atlantic Council

Pushkin and Dostoyevsky’s Idiot: How to Understand Russia’s Foreign Policy Valdai Discusion Club

Free Private Cities: Brazil’s New Libertarian Dystopia Brasilwire=

Biden Administration

Senate parliamentarian nixes minimum wage boost in aid package Roll Call

Bernie Sanders unveils his Plan B for a $15 minimum wage after Senate parliamentarian setback The Week

Secret Memo Shows How Harris Must Now Advance Minimum Wage Hike Andrew Perez and David Sirota, Daily Poster

Lott to Oust Senate Parliamentarian Who Ruled Against GOP Los Angeles Times. From 2001, still germane. No man, no problem.

* * *

The Memo: Biden faces first major setback as Tanden teeters The Hill

Biden’s Virus Relief Plan Threatens to Trigger Medicare Cuts Bloomberg. Paygo, Pelosi’s fetish object.

FCC votes to finalize rules for new temporary low-income internet subsidy Reuters

Biden’s COVID Plan Is Just a Beginning Scientific American

Why not tie minimum wage to local rent? Noahpinion

Trump Transition

Trump’s tax returns handed over to Manhattan prosecutors NBC


222 Boeing 787s Affected By New FAA Airworthiness Directive Simple Flying and Boeing, hit with US$6.6 million FAA fine, faces much bigger 787 repair bill: Sources Channel News Asia

Our Famously Free Press

YouTube Removes a CN Live! Episode Consortium News

Imperial Collapse Watch

‘A reckoning is near’: America has a vast overseas military empire. Does it still need it? USA Today

Ex-USA Gymnastics coach Geddert charged with human trafficking, sexual assault Lansing State Journal

Class Warfare

Race and America’s Long War: An Interview with Nikhil Pal Singh Salvage

The Power and the Silence The Unbound

Degrowth: A Response To Branko Milanovic Jason Hickel (john halasz).

Applause for Perseverance Ignores Plutonium Bullet We Dodged FAIR

PPE is the new plastic waste nightmare threatening the environment Euronews

Will the climate crisis tap out the Colorado River? High Country News

We Fought to Keep Frackers Out of the Delaware River Food and Water Watch

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. The Rev Kev

    “Ex-USA Gymnastics coach Geddert charged with human trafficking, sexual assault”

    Update: ‘US Olympic gymnastics coach who worked with abusive Dr. Nassar commits SUICIDE after being charged with sexual assault himself ‘ (golfclap)

    Geddert may have gotten away with it but the people in USA Gymnastics who protected and promoted him for decades need outing and prosecuting.

    1. ObjectiveFunction

      Ever since the fabled ‘playing fields of Eton’ and the Olympic vision of de Coubertin, which are the apex of the Victorian spirit (yes, with all the twisted repressed energy that implies), sports have been a magnet for predators. And the bond between coach and athlete is as intense as any relationship we are apt to experience in our lives.

      Gymnastics is particularly fascinating; it pushes the extremes of what the (young) human body can do, virtually defying gravity. It’s been decades since I cared enough to watch the Olympics, but think about it: only in womens’ gymnastics do the TV cameras dwell on the dynamics on the bench between (largely male) coaches, who are often celebrities in their own right, and their very young (pubescent) looking athletes. In other sports like diving or skiing, where the athletes anxiously await judge’s scoring (or men’s gymnastics for that matter), you rarely see that kind of thing.

      1. Wukchumni

        Womens’ gymnastics always struck me as kind of a Kama Sutra, with an emphasis on being as limber as silly putty albeit with rock hard lithe young bodies, and yes it’s the only Olympic sport where the (almost always) male coaches have had a star power unlike any other event, pushing their proteges so in what sometimes has the look of foreplay respectfully sheathed in a tight fitted leotard, often in curved angles of repose that are suggestive, but never is it ever suggested-the sexual aspect of it all.

        …and then it turns out the much older men coaching them are a bunch of pervs

        1. Synoia

          One could consider woman’s gymnastics as Female Teen Age Gymnastics. There appears to be few “woman gymnasts” over the age of 18.

          1. Pelham

            Still, what gymnasts achieve is amazing and shouldn’t be shrugged off — if one cares at all about sports.

            Ranking athletes in terms of sheer ability, I’d say gymnasts — female and male — are at or very near the top. The athletes we tend to adore most in pro sports — basketball, baseball and football — would be pretty far down the list.

            1. Old Sarum

              Gymnasts do gymnastics, Athletes do athletics and the rest are players, riders etc. Or in modern parlance: “heroes”.

              Pip Pip!

  2. Cocomaan

    Did not take Biden long to resume Obama era actions in Syria. I still remember their aborted attempt at starting another war front there at the end of Obama’s second term.

    I thought they’d wait a little longer before distracting from domestic politics but I guess things aren’t going well.

    Time to go back into the sandbox!

    1. The Rev Kev

      Caitlin Johnstone had a good tweet about this when she said-

      Americans: $2000 checks please
      Government: Sorry did you say airstrikes on Syria?
      Americans: No, $2000 checks
      Government: Okay, since you asked nicely here’s your airstrikes on Syria.’

      I guess that this airstrike makes Biden look Presidential now.

      1. Cocomaan

        Maybe next we can give Syrian defectors and militiamen fighting the Assad regime 2000? That’s enough for an AK-47, plenty of ammunition, and a can of beans.

        1. The Rev Kev

          I’m sure that the $2,000 would stretch far enough for them to get a can of fava beans and a nice bottle of Chianti. To go with the liver you understand.

          1. Cocomaan

            Siege of Ma’aara version 2: American Imperialism version.

            Honestly, if you were to chart the amount paid per freedom fighter when looking at American imperial projects, it would make $15 minimum wage look entry level. A few weeks ago someone posted how every US soldier costs roughly a million bucks to train and equip.

            1. The Rev Kev

              Once trained, I read how it costs the US about $1 million a year to keep each soldier in Afghanistan stationed there because of the supply lines extending all the way from the US to those units up in the hills and ranges of that sorry country. I am not sure it that implies that a battalion of soldiers would cost up to a billion dollars to keep in Afghanistan for a year but I would not be surprised if it was so.

    2. zagonostra

      There is, unfortunately, no sandbox to go to.

      “Biden will continue that operation, which Obama had started and Trump continued…And even on his domestic polices, Biden lies in order to serve the priorities of the billionaires who funded his way into the White House. For example, on February 20th, NPR headlined “FACT CHECK: Biden’s Comments On Loan Forgiveness And Elite Colleges” and proved that he was deceiving the public about that issue. He is as corrupt as they come. The stopping of the U.S. aristocracy will either come from abroad, or not at all. It won’t come internally from within the U.S., because the regime doesn’t allow its public to recognize that it’s a regime — an imperialistic aristocracy — instead of a democracy..

    3. pjay

      I despise Obama as much as the next NC reader. But it is instructive to remember that there were competing factions of “humanitarian” warmongers in his administration. During his second term, the “moderate” warmongers began to have some influence. Obama actually pulled back at the last minute from attacking Syria for the 2013 Ghouta gas attack (after he was informed that the evidence against Assad was less than convincing). He tried to deal with the Russians in Syria and his effort was sabotaged (something he shared with his successor). He seemed to genuinely regret the “sh**show” his administration created in Libya. He pushed back ever so slightly against Israel and caught hell for it. And of course there was the Iran deal, which the Clintonites and Israel lobby opposed.

      I point this out because, as far as I can tell, the “moderate” humanitarian warmongers have little or no representation in the Biden administration. But the full-on, neo-con adjacent “humanitarian” warmongers are mostly back and rearing to go. The Blob does what it wants to do. Presidents have very limited power to resist, even when they want to. I doubt Biden wants to. It does not look good for Syria. What we have done to that country is far beyond despicable.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        There was the story about Dempsey explaining to Kerry Syria could retaliate. I’ve always suspected Dempsey leaked this himself and it wasn’t Kerry but Obama. Obama is all about PR. The reality of a sinking ship under threat of missiles and a bunch of drowned sailors was what deterred him.

        He seemed to genuinely regret the “sh**show” his administration created in Libya.

        Obama only regrets there aren’t monuments built to him in Libya. When has he shown regret? Provide a link. He said one problem was they didn’t have a plan. Thats it.

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        Presidents have very limited power to resist, even when they want to.

        Sure they do. Obama could have said no to Libya. Instead, he decided to take the advice of his staff and leave it to a vote. HRC was the tie breaking vote of the 50 people he picked. He had all the power.

        Stop making excuses for that ahole. If he can’t stand up to his employees, he should have resigned.

        1. pjay

          There was a reason I used the term “moderate” humanitarian warmongers. We’re talking about variations within a narrow range. I’m not making “excuses” for Obama. But in fact he *was* the one who resisted increased Syrian escalation against almost all of his advisors. Regarding Libya, he mainly blamed our allies, and “tribalism” in Libya, for that catastrophe, not our own intervention, and his “regret” is mainly due to the fact that it didn’t work. So yeah, still an ahole, but he did acknowledge its failure. He discussed this most famously in that long Atlantic article by Goldberg toward the end of his term in 2016. That article, as painful as it was to read given Jeffrey “WMD” Goldberg’s spin, did provide an interesting glimpse of the difference between Obama’s foreign policy views and those of most of the Blob.

          It’s easy just to blast Obama; that’s what I usually do myself. But there is an argument to be made that in the specific case of Syria, while he allowed them to escalate early on, he possibly prevented an even more disastrous response at a crucial point in that conflict. You could also argue that Obama’s “hesitancy” allowed Assad (with the crucial help of Russia and Iran, of course) to stabilize his situation. I don’t think it was anything high-minded; I think Obama was worried about another Iraq as his legacy. Maybe that’s “PR” thinking. But again, most of his warmongering advisors were calling for retaliation, and he was lambasted for not doing so at the time. The New Yorker was publishing articles about how many tens of thousands of innocents Assad was torturing to death, so the liberal “R2P” forces joined in with the usual neocon mob. So yeah, whatever the motives, I’ll give Obama some credit in this case. I’ll continue to criticize his a** on almost everything else.

      3. Geo

        Agreed. Once he was rid of Clinton he actually made some positive steps. Similar to how Bush did after getting rid of Rumsfeld and sidelining Cheney later in his term. Both are still war criminals and monsters but both also seem to show how much the blob has control over this stuff.

        It’s hardly a coincidence that each supposed Assad gas attack has happened almost immediately after Obama/Trump made a withdrawal announcement.

        This is not in anyway meant to absolve them of the atrocities they’ve committed. In the end, they are the self-proclaimed Commander In Chief and they are the ones who chose their advisors and listened to them. But, it’s interesting to see this happen time and again. Even with Trump you could see him grappling with his instincts to withdraw and his devotion to the strongmen he surrounded himself with that kept pushing for escalation.

        With Biden, there is only a desire to make sure nothing fundamentally changes.

    4. kgw

      Testing, testing, 1…, 2…, 3 *********************


      DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — An explosion struck an Israeli-owned cargo ship sailing out of the Middle East on Friday, an unexplained blast renewing concerns about ship security amid escalating tensions between the U.S. and Iran.
      The crew and vessel were safe, according to the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations, which is run by the British navy. The explosion forced the vessel to head to the nearest port.

      The site of the blast, the Gulf of Oman, saw a series of explosions in 2019 that the U.S. Navy blamed on Iran against the backdrop of steeply rising threats between former President Donald Trump and Iranian leaders. Tehran denied the accusations, which came after Trump abandoned Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers and reimposed harsh sanctions on the country.

      Satellite-tracking data from website showed the Helios Ray had been nearly entering the Arabian Sea around 0600 GMT Friday before it suddenly turned around and began heading back toward the Strait of Hormuz. It still listed Singapore as its destination on its tracker.

      A United Nations ship database identified the vessel’s owners as a Tel Aviv-based firm called Ray Shipping Ltd. Calls to Ray Shipping rang unanswered Friday.

      Abraham Ungar, 74, who goes by “Rami,” is the founder of Ray Shipping Ltd., and is known as one of the richest men in Israel.

  3. FreeMarketApologist

    Re: One Big Thing: The NFT Frenzy:

    Today’s Beanie Babies. While there will always be a certain market for toys of all stripes, NFTs are undeserving of the term ‘good investment’. NFTs might best be valued as an experiment in the ability of blockchain-based things to establish and maintain a trail of provenance and authenticity.

    Re: Why not tie minimum wage to local rent

    Smith overcomplicates the topic of “what should be a living wage” by trying to solve two problems at once, thus rendering a solution unworkable, or one that can only be implemented another layer of means testing and meddling in local economic conditions.

    What is it about minimum wages that makes people want to complicate the topic so much? Too many people liking the feeling that they have something to hold over others?

      1. jsn

        Caught my attention too.

        Don’t know whether to think “old, complex, layered system” or “a message”.

        Someone knows and isn’t saying.

        1. Michaelmas

          A message, very possibly.

          The timing is suggestive, too: right before the Biden administration dips its toe in the waters with its first return to imperial military sorties in Syria.

          1. lyman alpha blob

            My understanding is that the ACH infrastructure has been rickety and in need of an overhaul for quite some time now. I would not be surprised if the investigation discovers this to be another case of simple crapification.

    1. Carla

      The thing about minimum wages is that they’re ass-backward. What we really need is a maximum wage. And I’ll decide: $240 per hour. At 2080 hours a year, that comes to $500,000. Should be enough for anybody. All subject to income tax and FICA. Expanded, improved Medicare for All of course.

      1. Pelham

        Yes! But let’s make it a maximum allowable annual income, as reckoned from all sources including wages.

    2. chuck roast

      You gotta’ hand it to Felix, he boldly goes where no man has gone before. This piece is positively scalp lifting. My recommendation for anyone interested in investing in “the market” would be…go and invest in a good mattress.

  4. Terry Flynn

    CDC life expectancy. It might turn out that the CDC was right but for the wrong reason. Projections in the modern era in industrialised countries have rarely had to deal with (large) cohorts of people who neither died nor survived in close to full health.

    If long term effects of covid-19 turn out to be true (see NC passim about the heart and lung issues) then it won’t be until loads of people do die of heart and/or lung failure 10 years early that we will finally learn that the actuarial table was in this case too optimistic.

    Of course a quality-adjusted life year based approach (which the article makes clear was not what the CDC did) might pick this up sooner. However QALYs are anathema to the US establishment: although not necessary to facilitate single payer systems, they are frequently used to gain and maintain trust in such systems. After all if your life expectancy post-covid is unchanged but your final 10 years are spent in 50% quality then you’ve lost 5 (quality adjusted) life years.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Its interesting to see that in Japan, having had a jump in mortality in the first wave of Covid, by the end of 2020 seem to have had a decrease. They think its due to anti-Covid measures providing more protection to people, specifically cutting down on flu and other infectious diseases. I don’t know if this will prove to be a Japan only phenomenon or if we’ll see it elsewhere.

      But you are absolutely right to say that the ‘true’ cost of Covid won’t be seen for many years, and may never be known as so many deaths will be put down to other causes. A couple of weeks ago I met up with a colleague, a very strong healthy man in his mid-50’s who is now a shell of his former self thanks to long covid – and there are many similar cases.

      As you say, we need better ways of measuring these things.

      1. Terry Flynn

        I’ll ask my best friend about Japan. He’s lived 23 of the last 26 years there with Japanese wife and now has a teenage son. Translated his English PhD published book into Japanese (he’s passed the Japanese language exam for those wanting to work in the professions like law!)

        His academic work includes the media so always has finger on the pulse. His last email suggested most Japanese want the Olympics to “quietly go away” as they see no upside to it even now with vaccines. He also thinks reduced subway travel (he’s now in Tokyo) has helped the country rebound in terms of covid (following an initial “guilt” about not being seen to work by one’s boss). This would explain what you remarked on.

        As people below remarked, misunderstandings of definitions are (in addition to what discussed here) problematic re life expectancy. But I’m slightly worried that in countries with high covid-19 rates the life expectancy tables may need major revisions when lots die early but not imminently….. But even more worryingly, when our “lack of good way of measuring things” means the huge productivity hit to the real economy means the “health equivalent of hysteresis” hugely impairs the economy (which would give me no pleasure in telling Sweden etc who thought about herd immunity ‘told you so’) then we’ll have trouble knowing “what the real capacity of the economy is”.

  5. zagonostra

    >Pushkin and Dostoyevsky’s Idiot: How to Understand Russia’s Foreign Policy – Valdai Discusion Club

    I have read the Idiot several times and it pains me to see Prince Myshkin described as someone who is characterized by below quote:

    “The moralism and humility of The Idiot entail withdrawing into oneself and indulging in isolationism”

    Aside from the Prince suffering from periodic epileptic fits, his concern was not with himself but with his identification/empathy with others, including the archvillain Parfen Rogojin. His willingness to sacrifice his inheritance and his life to Nastasia Philipovna is not “indulging in isolationism” but an impulse that comes from Christian ethics. His “idiocy” is in completely truthful with himself and others.

    If anything it is Lebedeff’s interpretation of the Apocalypse that comes to mind when thinking about our own time and foreign policy, especially when everything in our day is governed by its economic “measure”.

    Now for fifteen years at least I have studied the Apocalypse, and she agrees with me in thinking that the present is the epoch represented by the third horse, the black one whose rider holds a measure in his hand. It seems to me that everything is ruled by measure in our century; all men are clamouring for their rights; ‘a measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny.’ But, added to this, men desire freedom of mind and body, a pure heart, a healthy life, and all God’s good gifts. Now by pleading their rights alone, they will never attain all this, so the white horse, with his rider Death, comes next, and is followed by Hell.

    1. otherLiam

      I’m thinking that you’re misunderstanding what the columnist has written.

      The isolation he’s referring to isn’t Myshkin’s actions in the book. His actions are the “moral messianism” which he mentions in contrast to Pushkin’s daring. The “withdrawing into oneself and indulging in isolation” which it ultimately entails is a reference to his fate when the events between Nastasia and Rogojin have concluded. In a nuanced sort of way, the description is correct. Whether it has to always be that way is an open question …

  6. timbers

    Secret Memo (secret? seriously?) says VP Harris can over-rule Senate Parliamentarian on minimum wage

    “It’s been 12 years since we’ve raised the minimum wage, and if we’re going to make those promises, we have to be able to deliver on them,” Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal said Wednesday on MSNBC. “Because, I’ll tell you what, in two years… when people vote in the midterms, you’re not gonna be able to say, ‘Well, I’m sorry, we couldn’t raise the minimum wage because the parliamentarian ruled that we couldn’t do it.’ That’s not gonna fly.”

    That’s a great 2022 campaign slogan: The Parliamentarian Wouldn’t Let Us

    Full disclosure: Anyone in Washington who thinks $15 is a livable wage, feel free to live on that wage and give your paycheck back to the IRS. Please stop calling it a minimum wage. And give up your healthcare too, because the minimum wage doesn’t come with the free healthcare you have and the official position of The President and Congress is all Americans can not have healthcare.

  7. zagonostra

    >China celebrates official end of extreme poverty, lauds Xi AP

    The article ends with this comforting passage.

    World Bank expert Indermit Gill… said that based on the U.S. income standard from that era, as many as 90% of China’s people would be considered poor…If our numbers are correct, China is years — if not decades — behind schedule,”

    Which misses the whole point that China has an official policy to end extreme poverty and Xi is putting his political capital behind the effort. In the U.S. I only see private initiatives such as William Barber’s Poor People’s Campaign, or serveral years ago I remeber Tavis Smiley and Cornel West going on the “Poverty Tour.” Both of which fizzled out in public awareness with all the oxygen being taken out by MSM obsession with the Bad Orange Man (BOM has anyone coined that acronym?)

    Whatever the statistics and premature celebrations the Chinese may have the fact that they are trying to combat poverty that aim to at “narrowing the politically volatile gulf between an elite who have profited most from economic reform and the poor majority” should be celebrated not only in China but with ordinary people who see themselves connected to everyone else living on this fragile planet.

  8. Zamfir

    Regarding the life expectancy thing: I think both sides are correct, it’s a semantics issue. Despite the name, life expectancy is not a actually a projection into the future, and it’s not intended to be.

    If it was, it would have to include an estimate of changes in mortality in the future. That does not happen, not this year but not in other years either.

    For example, currently younger generations smoke less than the currently older generations did when they were young. We can estimate the effect of that on on future mortality rates when those young people get old, and we could incorporate that estimate in “life expectancy” number.

    But we don’t, because life expectancy is a fairly strictly defined statistical measure, based on the mortality of this year. Not on the mortality that one actually expects in the future. It’s somewhat badly named, really.

    Covid just makes this quirk super visible. Someone born today, will almost certainly not die from covid when they are 80, but the life expectancy figure for 2020 includes lots of 80-year olds dying of covid.

  9. Matthew G. Saroff

    Regarding life expectancy, note that it is overwhelmingly driven by changes in infant and child mortality.

    While life expectancy at birth has gone up by 30 years since 1900, life expectancy at 20 has gone up half as much.

    See this image:

  10. The Rev Kev

    “Zombies are everywhere in South Korea, feeding on fears and anxieties”

    Damn but the Koreans pump out not bad films. Gunna have to catch up with that movie “#Alive” as it sounds good. Reminds me of a chapter about a similar Japanese guy’s experiences in the novel “World War Z” and I would not be surprised that that is where they got their idea for this film from. But then I saw the following in that article – ‘Hollywood, which popularized the modern cinematic zombie, is planning a remake of “Train to Busan.”’ Nooooooo!!!!

    I can only image what a woke dog’s breakfast that they will make of this film. In any case, “Train to Busan” was set aboard the Korea Train eXpress – South Korea’s high speed rail system which goes up to 305 km/h (190 mph). The only high speed rail system the US has at all is Amtrak’s Acela Express which goes up to 240 km/h (150 mph) so it would have to be set on that one. But I can’t see a Hollywood production having the panache of the Korean one.

    1. lyman alpha blob

      The only high speed rail system the US has at all is Amtrak’s Acela Express which goes up to 240 km/h (150 mph) so it would have to be set on that one.

      Here’s the plotline – Hungry zombies board the Acela. Having no interest in the coffee and danish provided to morning commuters, they make their way to the car where the Bidens are sitting. Joe is having a nap, his head lolling on the unclad shoulder of the stripper sitting between him and Hunter. Hunter, having just returned from the bathroom, the counter of which is now coated with a fine white residue, is pecking away at his laptop, trying to organize his files and separate the hooker pics from the incriminating financial documents. But plot twist! – contrary to your typical zombie film where those engaging in illicit activities receive their (or become) just desserts, the zombies bite off the skullcaps of the Biden only to find no actual gray matter inside, the zombies starve to death, and the Biden’s have saved the planet!

    2. Stephen

      I concur, the Korean film scene is very strong and has only recently started to recieve the international attention it has long deserved. There have been a few low-key remakes of blockbusters, and of course The Parasite needs not be mentioned.

      I particularly enjoy the crime thrillers and monster flicks.

      Starter pack for the curious (or: my favorities), in no particular order: The Wailing, The Host, OldBoy. Train to Busan. The Host and Old Boy are definitely Canon.

      1. Massinissa

        The Host is one of my favorite movies. I’m a huge sea monster fan, and The Host is one of the better related films in the last 20 years.

      2. Jonathan Holland Becnel

        Also: Memories of a Murder, Yellow Sea, I Saw the Devil, Flu

        S Korea has def been my favorite country making movies!

    3. John A

      Not sure if there has been a Hollywood remake of ‘In Bruges’ a really humorous film about a couple of incompetent Irish hit men hiding out in Belgium after a job went wrong. The reason it was set in Belgium was because a key part of the plot is that one of them is arrested for smoking in a public space, and when it was filmed, the rest of Europe had already introduced a blanket no smoking ban.
      Can highly recommend the film by the way, though the American characters in the film are mercilessly made fun of.

      1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

        In Bruges is FN HILARIOUS!!!!!!!!

        THE ALCOVES!!!!!!

        ’Do you know this word? Alcove?’ LOL

        I wont spoil anything, but yall should def watch this movie!

  11. miningcityguy

    (UNELECTED) Senate parliamentarian nixes minimum wage boost in aid package,

    I am confident that most people know nothing about the Byrd Rule and that there even is a person called the Senate parliamentarian who has this kind of power, at least when the Democrats are in charge.

    David Roth has a great tweet about this: ” Feeling Great about Senate Democrats getting to choose between 1) a policy that would immedately improve the lives of many millions of people or 2) performing just how much they respect the Rules and not doing that thing. Really plays to the strength of the Senatorial Brain”

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      An unelected “parliamentarian” channeling a dead guy, and preventing the “world’s greatest deliberative body” from gettin’ about their business of “legislating.” Quite the “democracy” we’ve got goin’ on here. The “people” against a dead man and the dead man wins.

      Here’s and idea. We need a “constitutional ammendment” that says that when you die, you have to STFU. And that goes for that big mouth dead guy henry hyde too.

      1. zagonostra

        I would be willing to sign a petition to get said “constitutional amendment” passed in lieu of a petition that popped up as an advertisement just now to sign a petition to make sure Trump doesn’t run in 2024.

      2. ChiGal in Carolina

        Love the big mouth dead guy formulation—could be expanded beyond Congress, maybe a few economists…?

    2. Aumua

      I have honestly never before in my life heard of this parliamentarian person, but now apparently we have to follow their rules, even though we don’t really have to. It’s an amazing new level of walking back promises, I must say.

  12. Aaron

    Re Degrowth: A Response To Branko Milanovic:
    “Degrowth” is actually “Decline” (gasps, clutches pearls, faints). Shhh!! Don’t say it! Then it will appear. (like voldemort)

  13. Alex Morfesis

    CN YouTube ban vs CNN/MSNBC/fox rubetube spam…thou shalt not comport to be das non conformist…only conforming non conformist und das “approved” opposition need apply

  14. The Rev Kev

    “EU says it does not need Nord Stream 2, but only Germany can block it”

    Germany says: ‘That’s fine. When we hook up our gas, we will make sure that it all stays within our borders and that you don’t get any of it going into your own countries then.’

    1. John A

      Yes, if Nord Stream 2 gets blocked and Russia finally retaliates by closing down the decaying pipeline to the EU through Ukraine from which the Ukrainians syphen off gas and get huge fees, it would be fascinating to see how much Russian gas is still actually needed. Like the EU fruit farmers and pig farmers squealing in outrage how unfair Russia was being, when Russia sanctioned those products in retaliation for EU sanctions.

  15. tegnost

    President Kamala Harris could decide the fate of one of the Democratic Party’s most significant campaign promises
    Significant in that they basically didn’t make any campaign promises other than “nothing will fundamentally change.”
    a decision that would effectively put the Biden-Harris administration in the position of potentially killing the prospect of minimum wage legislation for the foreseeable future.
    mission accomplished.

    1. tegnost

      But wait! there’s more…
      “According to a recent study by the U.S. Congressional Budget Office, raising the minimum wage to $15 could affect the wages of 27 million U.S. workers”
      The main stumbling point is that it would also have an unknown and possibly unwanted impact on the finances of 27 billionaires.

        1. notherpet

          True which is why we need real estate rationing.

          I’d say two homes (one with sufficient land to be self-sufficient in food) and so many square feet of commercial property should be sufficient for any one citizen.

          We need to restrict the so-called “free market” with regard to real assets such as land, water, air and other essentials of life with PERMANENT rationing.

          Let the rich play with non-essentials – not things that money should never be able to buy such as the life of a poor man or woman.

          1. Massinissa

            That’s pretty much what Muammar Gaddhafi did. He solved their housing crisis by making it illegal to own more than one home. But considering he gave 100k USD to every married couple to buy a home with, that sounds like a pretty good deal.

            Also somehow or another Gaddhafi’s Libya had the highest standard of living in all of Africa at the time the war started. To be fair, even after Obama blew the place up, its still in the top 10 nations in terms of HDI in Africa. Somehow. The damn place was near the bottom in the early 70s, then Gaddhafi started building infrastructure over the entire country for about four decades, and despite the civil war much of it is still intact.

  16. The Rev Kev

    “Mechanistic transmission modeling of COVID-19 on the Diamond Princess cruise ship demonstrates the importance of aerosol transmission”

    This is an important study this. A really important study. It is so important that it should be sent to every government and ocean cruise company in the world. But it would have been even more important if a version had come out ONE YEAR AGO as the Diamond Princess had already been tied up in Japan in quarantine a coupla weeks by then.

  17. chris

    Apologies if these links have already been shared on NC but, if not, I’d appreciate any thoughts from the commentariat.

    The first was sent to me by my father who was upset by something he heard on Fox and then saw on Quora. It’s a teacher guide to making math instruction “more equitable”.

    Then there was this update from Rod Dreher on AC about “disrupting the hiring process” for STEM professors at NYU.

    There have been others in the last few months but these two caught my eye not just because my Dad brought them up to me but because they seem so antagonistic to their stated causes. The linked article yesterday about the racial accusations at Smith college falls into this type of thing too. I can’t see how either will help people from under represented backgrounds gain more access to better STEM education. They seem oddly joyless and performative to me. Other than spinning up people on either side of this divide I don’t see them doing much good.

    But maybe I’m looking at them wrong?

    1. Zamfir

      I looked at the teaching guide. Could you explain why your father was upset about it?

      I don’t think it’s well-made, to be clear. It’s rather thin on actual content, for the 80 pages. And the tone is rather condescending, ironically. But, well, I have seen a lot of other professional training material that is not very good. I wouldn’t say I get upset about them, perhaps mildly annoyed or bored.

      The best thing is usually to skim it through, and see if anything “clicks”. Some little insight where you think, yeah, that makes sense, I hadn’t quite looked at it like that, I ‘ll see if I can use this in my daily work. You only need one little click to make the effort worthwhile – it’s not like it’s much work to skim through the guide.

      1. chris

        What my father was so upset about was the idea that telling students their answers were right or wrong could be seen as racist. That this was an attempt to reduce the objectivity of things like 2+2=4. I think there are some good points in the document but I don’t think it’s useful. It seems more like a way to make math teachers feel really bad about themselves even when they’re trying to help their students.

        What I think is important about general ideas like this is some students genuinely don’t think they can do math or have careers that use science because they’ve never been told that’s an option for them or they’ve never seen anyone in the life who has that kind of vocation. I’ve taught college seminars and been asked by a black, female, engineering student if she would really be allowed to be an engineer when she graduated. So to the extent that people start showing kids from all backgrounds that yes, anyone can use math, and you don’t have to be a genius, that’s great. But if they do that by way of dispensing with rigor or glossing over a lack of learning, that would be awful.

        1. lyman alpha blob

          The manual specifically says the if “The focus is on getting the ‘right’ answer” it can be a sign of white supremacist culture. Not only is that absurd, but repeatedly hammering the reader with the ‘white supremacist’ verbiage takes it a little too far. I’m not trying to say there aren’t any issues, but maybe ‘prejudiced’ would be the more apt terminology to use.

        2. Zamfir

          That’s about stuff like on page 65? The guide has a
          contrast between weird sounding headings, and very mundane details. Heading is “White supremacy is focussing on the right answer”, and then the details are things like

          Verbal Example: Come up with at least two answers that might solve this problem.
          Classroom Activity: Challenge standardized test questions by getting the “right” answer, but justify other answers by unpacking the assumptions that are made in the problem.”

          Those don’t seem bad, even if the link with white supremacy is not strong. It might be a bit of a grift? They got a grant to make a guide about helping minorities in math classes, so they copied generic teacher advice and spiced it up.

        3. Massinissa

          I have to agree with Zamfir. It’s mostly a regular teaching guide they threw some woke phrasing in to appease the woke-sters and stop them from throwing hissy fits. In terms of changing curriculum by adding Wokeness, I have seen so much worse, and it seems here that its just math teachers putting a bandaid with the word ‘woke’ on it to the curriculum so that the IDPol types will be appeased without them trying to get anyone fired.

    2. David

      Tom Lehrer in 1965 talking about New Math:

      “The point is to understand what you are doing, rather than to get the right answer.”
      If you wait long enough, satire turns into real life.

      1. Jason

        There is actually something to be said for this as far as the process goes. You obviously want to understand what you’re doing and get the right answer. By going too far in one direction, you end up “teaching to the test” to get the right answer, without really understanding how you got there. The other extreme leaves one in the wild yammering on and on about the importance of the process with nothing concrete to ever show for it.

        1. chris

          Right. I also think some of the statements in the manual are because this is for people who haven’t used math as a practicing engineer, analyst, etc. perhaps the answer there is to encourage more practitioners from different backgrounds to help teach math and science?

  18. Carolinian

    Thanks for the Mondoweiss. However the first part of this discussion is linked up by Weiss and actually more interesting.

    The last kid in the room looked angry all the time. Just pissed. Not at all flattered that Obama was meeting with them. When it got to him, he had some horrible story. Detention. IDF soldiers cornered him in his home . . . He couldn’t take exams. [Rhodes says he can’t recall the details.]

    And then he looked at Obama and said, “We are treated the same way in this country that the black people used to be treated in your country.” And he paused and he said, “Financed by your government, Mr. President.” And it was just like, the direct shot to the solar plexus.

    And I remember Obama was just silent. So he got it, right?

    Rhodes says the Israeli lobby is no different than any other powerful lobby such as the gun lobby and undoubtedly that is correct (if you are Republican just try coming out against gunz). But there is one big difference in that the Israeli lobby isn’t allowed to be talked about (Phil Weiss’ theme). And none of this is new since when our system was created one powerful group of special pleaders (slave owners) put their stamp on the process. Then and now money is at the bottom of all of it–the thing we really aren’t allowed to talk about.

    1. hunkerdown

      Everyone and their brother talks about money. You talk about it when talking about not being allowed to talk about money. I suggest it’s not money, but property, that is the taboo that must not be interrogated.

      1. Bruno

        “it’s not money, but property, that is the taboo that must not be interrogated.” True indeed, and from the very beginning. Drafting his “Declaration” Mr. Jefferson just heedlessly copied from Rousseau or Diderot the standard Enlightenment concept of basic human rights: “Life, Liberty, and Property.” But when the other Founding Fathers, all very propertied Gentlemen, saw it, what a scandal! “Are we to say that our slaves, our servants, our wage-workers–let alone the native savages–are entitled to PROPERTY? Never. Ever.” So Mr. Jefferson drew a line through his word and scribbled in the fine sounding, utterly meaningless, phrase “Pursuit of Happiness.”

    2. Jason

      We are treated the same way in this country that the black people used to be treated in your country.

      Obama only knows of that black experience on an intellectual level. It’s not his “lived experience” – a term I’ve come to detest because it’s largely misused in the interest of agendas. In this case, it’s quite apropos.

      I would like to show the student the video of Obama enthusiastically lying to a working class black audience in Flint, MI. That ‘s who Obama really is. He is a fraud, a crook, and a liar. Just like the whole lot of them (political class). End of story.

      1. Carolinian

        Oh I don’t think he’s a complete hypocrite on these questions but he does show how people from the privileged classes–black or white–are always going to keep their eye on job one.

        White supremacy is undoubtedly a thing but there are many other supremacies and simply talking about one is a deflection.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            Obama is only for Obama, the instagram influencer.

            I use to not add the part after Obama, but Stoller is 100% right on this. Obama isn’t interested in being influential as much as “influential” connected to a branded platform.

            I would argue he lacks the depth to be considered a hypocrite.

        1. Synoia

          Obama is not a complete hypocrite. He’s only a hypocrite on his left. On his the right he delivers flawlessly and in abundance.

    3. lyman alpha blob

      Longer comment stuck in moderation, but it’s rather telling how many times that in that piece Rhodes goes out of his way to remind us that a small group of 10-20 unnamed people representing the Israeli government repeatedly meeting secretly with high ranking US officials in order to influence the course of events is in no way, NOT, perish the thought, a conspiracy.

      1. Jason

        I have a comment in mod regarding this as well, with a very informative link attached. I obviously hope it gets through. This issue is the proverbial elephant in the room, as was predicted years ago by many quietly suppressed and now conveniently forgotten voices.

      2. Jason

        I don’t know why my comment didn’t make it through. I thought it was well-crafted and to the point, spoke directly to the issue at hand, and I provided a link to what I thought was an uncontroversial website chock full of information for people to do further investigation.

        Oh well. I’ll keep hammering away as best I can. This issue is much too important.

  19. The Rev Kev

    “Fighting to Go Home: Operation Desert Storm, 30 Years Later”

    Interesting reading this but I could not help but be reminded of how too a newly trained but untried German Army went into Poland back in 1939. Both campaigns were short and were associated with massive damage and destruction. Both armies got to ‘see the elephant’ up close and personal. And when those short campaigns were over, both those young German soldiers and their American counterparts sat back and gave thanks that it was all over now and that things would probably go back to normal. And both armies never even realized that things hadn’t even begun yet.

    Just logging out for the night but thought that I would drop this twitter link here and yes, it is real-

    1. Michaelmas

      It’s 2021 — why wouldn’t it be real? It’s an early non-military model, though, and actually quite vulnerable. As follows —

      ‘PSA: if you or someone nearby are being brutalized by a police Spot robot and can get a hand or something underneath, grab this handle and yank it forward. This releases the battery, instantly disabling the robot. Keep your hands away from joints, Spot WILL crush your fingers.

      ‘If you are a bystander and can get BEHIND spot, don’t hit the power button, hit the OTHER button – it physically disconnects the motors. Spot can also be countered with booby traps easily. If you’re armed, shoot center-of-mass as normal. The lithium pack is huge and not armored.

      ‘Spot is also purely optical, meaning paint, dust, a sheet or blanket, sticky tape, etc can severely impair it.
      Original stereo cameras on the face. 360 camera, pan/tilt/zoom cam, and LIDAR rangefinders on accessory rails.

      If you’re feeling creative, and can prepare beforehand, Spot is literally just controlled with an Android tablet. In manual (as in, non-autonomous) mode, Spot is literally just communicating over Wifi.

      ‘A WiFi jammer based on an ESP2866 is $40 on Amazon, just sayin.’

  20. Mme Generalist

    >We’ve been cooped up with our families for almost a year. This is the result.

    “The nonwork categories that gained the most — child care, television and eating — are also the ones on which working-age (25-54), married Americans spent most of their pre-pandemic together time, Labor Department data shows.” (Emphasis mine.)

    Huh? Who the hell doesn’t start working until 25 and retires at 54?

    1. IMOR

      Perhaps that range was chosen because virtually no one is NOT working by 25, and no one retires before 54, so that characterizations of this type / on this topic across that group would be more accurate and contain fewer outliers.

  21. cocomaan

    Anyone else notice that FRED, is no longer keeping track of M2 money supply the same way? They’ve shifted from a weekly model to a new monthly seasonally adjusted model:

    I guess money supply is increasing so quickly that they don’t want to bother with weekly record keeping anymore, might as well just round up the numbers monthly.

    1. Ranger Rick

      They have an explanation in their Q&A’s on the main page. By “explanation” I mean “announcement.” I guess rationale is beyond the scope of a Q&A. It looks like the two most salient reasons are the elimination of transaction restrictions on savings accounts and a reduction in the availability of information on what the US Government owes to foreign institutions.

  22. DJG, Reality Czar

    Recommending: The article in Mondoweiss about Rhodes and Beinert and the dozen mouthpieces who simply repeat right-wing Israeli talking points.

    Just from a “we’re a great power” perspective, it’s embarrassing how much of U.S. foreign policy is run by satrapies like England and Israel. These are countries that don’t have the same interests as the U S of A, but the Washington consensus is to pretend otherwise. Largely, I suspect, because Americans don’t vote on the basis of foreign policy.

    Obama doesn’t come off well in the article. Nor do the Democrats, who are craven.

    Meanwhile, the national economy is now being determined by the Parliamentary Czar. The Democrats, though, will resolve the crisis by taking a knee clutching their copies of Robert’s Rules of Order.

    I’m glad I voted for Hawkins for President.

    1. R.

      Please provide an example of US foreign policy dictated by the UK. This inhabitant if the US’s unsinkable aircraft carrier does not feel like it is secretly in control of the New Imperium. We have gone along with some foolish US policies (Iraq wars, Iran sanctions, Afghan campaigns, Libya, Syria) but the only one that comes close to UK national interest (mainly oil cupidity) was Libya, which E. Macron and Cameron (funny that they are anagrams – do we see them in the same room?) thought a great wheeze.

  23. zagonostra

    >Democracy Now Provides Progressive Cover to State Department Propaganda Campaign Against China – Black Agenda Report

    It’s so sad to see how far DemocracyNow! with Amy Goodman has fallen. All the news outlets that informed my view of world events like NPR, and DN! that I listened to growing up have morphed into unrecognizable entities. Worse, they have become mouthpieces for the powerful elite.

    “the flagship program of the left-wing Pacifica radio network, Democracy Now (DN) and its founding host, Amy Goodman…has become a reliable platform for uncritical regime change propaganda, demonizing targets of US empire from Syria to Nicaragua while sending a correspondent to embed with US-backed “rebels” in Libya… Democracy Now has marketed itself as “the exception to the rulers,” it is functioning as little more than a force multiplier for the State Department, amplifying Cold War narratives on China behind progressive cover.”

  24. Mikel

    RE: “Taiwan’s chip industry under threat as drought turns critical” Nikkei Asian Review

    Water supply dangers. Tech looks less and less “green” from this view.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Maybe a deal could be worked out that if a company brings a tanker ship full of water to Taiwan, that they will get a discount on the cost of any purchased chips. it could work.

  25. Ping

    Re: Info on factory farms spotty at best:

    While the article addresses community and environmental damage of intensive livestock confinement, factory farming is the source of most recent pandemics and epidemics (bird flu, swine flu) where animals immune systems have been decimated and the farms are now Petri dishes. Apparently it’s better to ruin small businesses and public health than threaten big ag profits. Our sacred cow on health, Fauci and other authorities would be more credible if they addressed reducing overconsumption of animal products (and the American diet vastly overconsumes meat) and general immune building principles instead of exclusive focus on apparently now an endless vaccine and booster hamster wheel.

    Richard Engle’s special report on Covid variants at least touched on this issue describing intensive animal farming as “bio weapons” citing Denmark or Scandinavian country closing down their mink industry when the mink produced a virus that crosses species barrier and infected hundreds of people fearing broad population transmission. They killed 15 million mink to eradicate. US mink farms evidently only isolate infected mink…..

    1. Pat

      Oooh, that would likely mean war between the factions controlling the Democratic Party.

      Please Mayor Pete is scheduled to become VP Pete. Not sure the Clintonites can affor$ to piss off the Obama faction. Tanden might have to settle for a safe seat in Congress and a top Committee Chairmanship meant to embarrass her critics.

      (Not sure the Democrats know they might lose both Houses of Congresses.)

      1. JBird4049

        Would they care about losing the whole Congress or is about keeping their sugar daddies and mommies happy?

        Harris is a sadist with good tastes (that matches that of the neoliberal professional ruling class) so the sadism does not matter. Tanden can be described similarly, and Buttigiege is an empty suit. All three would likely please the masters with the pocketbooks.

        It is much like Senator Turtle and his stealthily getting the judicial branch filled the right kind of business friendly conservative judges while dancing around the smokescreen of the stimulus packages last year. He lost the Senate, but he probably go money for doing the masters’ bidding.

        1. Duck1

          Good point. Has Biden nominated any judges yet? Seems like with all of Trumps derided incompetence running the government he hit the ground running on that one.

      2. The Rev Kev

        Maybe they can get Tanden to run for some safe seat somewhere to kick start her carer in politics. Well, maybe not in California as they know what she is all about there but I am sure that some safe seat could be found somewhere.

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