Links 2/6/2021

Septuagenarian Laysan albatross Wisdom hatches new chick on Midway Star Advertiser (Cathy T)

Drunk birds in North Texas BoingBoing (resilc)

‘How good were koalas?’: A national treasure in peril Sydney Morning Herald

Biologists Discover Modern-Day Corn Dog Descended From Ancient Aquatic Sausage The Onion (David L)

Remastered images reveal how far Alan Shepard hit a golf ball on the Moon ars technica (Kevin W)

Study: Earth Warmer Than Any Time in Last 12,000 Years Defend Democracy

World’s biggest battery with 1,200MW capacity set to be built in NSW Hunter Valley Guardian


The Coronavirus Vaccine Fail and International Elites Dean Baker, CEPR (Gary O)


Shifts in global bat diversity suggest a possible role of climate change in the emergence of SARS-CoV-1 and SARS-CoV-2 Science (Paul R)

What If the COVID Pandemic Never Really Ends? New York Magazine (resilc)

When Will Life Return to Normal? In 7 Years at Today’s Vaccine Rates Financial Post

Children and COVID-19 spread Harvard Medical School. Kids have high viral loads.

Study shows young COVID survivors can get reinfected MedicalXpress. Not liking the look of this. 10% reinfection rate in frigging Marines. Ggiven the study time frame v. when Covid got going in the US, the majority of the men who were reinfected were reinfected in less than six months. This seems not at all consistent with the UK and other study data claiming that there’s evidence of immunity lasting >6 months, and another >8 months. But those are extrapolations based on antibody levels or Tcells or other blood factors, not based on actual cases of reinfection.

‘A waste of money’: The home Covid-19 test funded by the Biden administration is too costly and complex, critics say STAT

Computer model can determine whether you’ll die from COVID-19 Science. Resilc: “I’m sure all the data from white, healthy, sane Denmark is relevant to USA USA.”


How the COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout Was Hobbled by Turf Wars and Magical Thinking Vanity Fair (resilc)

America’s Soviet-Style Vaccine Rollout Atlantic

Rural community in shock after Georgia raids clinic vaccinating teachers NBC

A SoulCycle Instructor Got the Vaccine as an ‘Educator’ New York Times (resilc)

Walgreens, CVS beef up protections against threat of ‘bot’ attacks on vaccine program Reuters


Britain risks becoming virus ‘melting pot’ as mutations spread FT (Kevin W)


Under The Hood Of A Bad Jobs Report Heisenberg Report (resilc)

Bad jobs report boosts Biden stimulus case The Hill

The Employment Situation in January White House

‘Lost generation of unemployed’: Covid hits careers of over-50s Guardian

The Catholic Church took more than $3 billion in taxpayer-backed pandemic aid. Slate (resilc)

Mitt Romney Wants to Give Your Baby $62,600 New York Magazine

‘I have to do this to survive’: a night with Jakarta’s silvermen Guardian (resilc)


Brexit is coming apart at the seams Chris Grey

UK fashion industry facing ‘decimation’ over Brexit trade deal Irish Times (guurst)

Live farm animal exports to mainland EU at a standstill post-Brexit Guardian (resilc). Richard North described in gory detail early on that this would happen, and even some industry groups for live animal exporters raises alarms well before the fall.

Old Blighty

Insults and expletives turn parish council Zoom meeting into internet sensation Guardian

Following the money behind Myanmar’s coup Asia Times (Kevin W)

New Cold War

Exclusive: Navalny affair no grounds to cancel Nord Stream pipeline, new German CDU chief says Reuters

What Putin nemesis Alexei Navalny is, and what he is not Responsible Statecraft (resilc)


Palestinian shot dead by Israeli settlers in West Bank Al Jazeera (resilc)

U.S. Support for the Saudi Coalition War on Yemen Is Finally Ending American Conservative

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Coming to Your Neighborhood? Amazon Delivery Vans With ‘Roaming Eyes’ Cameras Children’s Health Defense (furzy)

Trump Transition

Biden says Trump should no longer receive classified intelligence briefings CNN (Kevin W)

Capitol Seizure

Acting U.S. Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman delivered a statement on the eve of the one month anniversary of the January 6 attack on the Capitol C-SPAN (Kevin C)

Rachel Powell, Mercer County Mother Of 8 Wanted In Connection To Capitol Riots, Taken Into Custody CBS Pittsburgh (UserFriendly)

Blowback: How US-funded fascists in Ukraine mentor American white supremacists Grayzone (Chuck L)

New Section 230 reform bill would have sweeping unintended consequences. We have to oppose it. Fight for the Future


‘We’ve learned to love the guy’: How Biden charmed the left Politico (Chuck L)

Biden Should Use Executive Action All He Wants Washington Monthly (resilc)

Kamala Harris’s niece reacts as protesters burn her picture in India Independent

Border Killing Cover-Up Was Part of Pattern, Former DHS Supervisors Say Intercept. Note that this was an Obama Administration practice.

Democrats en déshabillé

Old democrat vs. new democrat White Hot Harlots (UserFriendly)

From dk. A very important thread, do click through:

Our Famously Free Prees

Fox News has dropped ‘Lou Dobbs Tonight,’ promoter of Trump’s false election fraud claims Washington Post

U.S. senators propose limiting liability shield for social media platforms Reuters (Kevin W)

In Epically Nerdy Interview, Elon Musk Discusses Build Quality Problems With Engineer Who Compared Model 3 To ‘A Kia In The ’90s’ Jalopnik (resilc)

Wall Street Veteran Says Market Could Plunge 15% Bloomberg

Class Warfare

Amazon has lost its bid to delay Alabama union vote The Verge (Kevin W)

Amazon Is Forcing Its Warehouse Workers Into Brutal ‘Megacycle’ Shifts Vice (resilc)

Medicare for All and the Black Freedom Struggle YouTube (Kevin C)

Antidote du jour. Found this in my e-mail box from 2017 from crittermom and I am embarrassed to say I am pretty sure I haven’t posted it:

A male (buck) pronghorn in the wild out West.

Often referred to as an antelope, it is not, belonging to a family of its own.

They are the second fastest mammal in the world, next to the cheetah, & North America’s fastest land animal, able to reach speeds up to 60 mph, & to maintain half that speed for miles.

Unlike deer, elk or bighorn sheep, pronghorn rarely jump fences, crawling under them instead.
That is why ranchers are encouraged to keep the bottom of their fences 18″ off the ground, as pronghorn migrate for hundreds of miles.

And a bonus (Chuck L):

An extra bonus. Furzy:

In Rajasthan, India, in a village, everyday at night a wild Cheetah and his family would come to a farmer’s hut and snuggle up to the farmer.

One day he mentioned it to the local wildlife preservation department. Just for fun, disbelieving the farmer, they installed a CCTV camera in the hut.

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  1. Massinissa

    “They say Amazon is forcing them into anti-union meetings, texting them up to 5x daily, putting messages in bathrooms, even changing traffic light patterns to harm union organizing.”

    Good GOD, if Amazon wasn’t so inept it would almost seem like they were TRYING to get them to unionize. What the hell does a ‘anti-union meeting’ even look like? If there’s anything Amazon could do to justify the union and make employees want to do it, this stuff is it.

    1. ambrit

      I remember “anti-union” meetings on big commercial jobsites. The Site Supervisor would come out and regaled us with ‘tales’ of how much we would lose in weekly take home pay due to union dues being subtracted from paycheques. Unions were also demonized as “Un American” and, I kid you not, “Communist Fronts.” (This in the eighties!)
      My favourite example was the Job Supervisor who baldly came out and said that if any of us wanted a union, we could go home and not come back. About a quarter to a third of the workforce did not show up for work the next day. [I never went back. My information from a work mate who needed the job badly enough to put up with this level of abuse.]
      I don’t know the mechanics behind it, but union organizing has always been weak in the North American Deep South.

      1. Swamp Yankee

        Yes, you’re quite right, ambrit, that union organizing is weak in the Deep South. This is frankly the consequence of being a Greater Caribbean- style slave society, in which there are no public schools (these are a Yankee New England idea from the start), very few towns, let alone cities, and very few printing presses.

        You then add a seigneurial style social organization, and it is going to be really hard for union organizers to crack things.

        The US Deep South is more like Brasil than it is like Boston or Liverpool.

        1. Mao "No Landlords Now" Zedong

          It doesn’t help that the KKK was in active collaboration with the local PD (and by extension the FBI) to both discourage unionization in general and among black people specifically. Take the Greensboro Massacre for example, where members of the Communist Workers Party were gunned down in the street while trying to organize black textile workers, by KKK members, who were aided by the Greensboro Police Department in planning the attack and escaping afterwards.


        1. ambrit

          Amazing. I saw them live in New Orleans in the late 1970’s. The ‘locals’ didn’t “get” their music, but I did. There was a Golden Age. We are going to have to fight very hard to get it back.

    2. John Anthony La Pietra

      If you know anybody who’s ever worked at WalMart for more than holiday seasonal work, ask them. The odds are pretty good (or bad, I should say) that they’ve been at an anti-union meeting.

  2. fresno dan

    n Rajasthan, India, in a village, everyday at night a wild Cheetah and his family would come to a farmer’s hut and snuggle up to the farmer.

    One day he mentioned it to the local wildlife preservation department. Just for fun, disbelieving the farmer, they installed a CCTV camera in the hut.
    There are cheetahs in India? Why would the cheetah (and family!) do that? I sure would like to know more about that

  3. The Rev Kev

    ‘Tom Hamilton
    Male Tory MPs taking off more clothes than is strictly necessary to be photographed getting a vaccination:’

    Could have been a lot worse that. He might have been taking one of those anal test kits that the Chinese have deployed to test for Coronavirus.

    That image of that pronghorn by crittermom is magnificent by the way. It looks like an animal that you would expect to see from the last ice age.

      1. Anonymous 2

        Depends who the target audience is? If they are right-leaning women of a certain age, perhaps you only have to compete with the husbands?

        1. ambrit

          They are Tories for heaven’s sake! Think of the Public School ethos! They are signaling to other Tory males, obviously!

    1. John A

      They both look a lot younger than 80+, the group that is supposedly first in line to be vaccinated and not all of which have been given a shot.
      I know one Tory MP claimed he ‘happened’ to get vaccinated with a jab that would otherwise have gone to waste, but maybe there was a whole batch of vaccines dumped outside the House of Commons by chance that had to be used or be discarded.

  4. jackiebass63

    I’m 79 years old and live near Elmira NY in Chemung County. On tv and in the press we are bombarded with covid news. Especially about where you supposedly can get the covid vaccine shot. They are now going to let local pharmacies give the shot. This sounds great. The problem is getting an appointment to get the shot. Several pharmacies announced they would be soon giving the shot and encouraged people to sign up. The problem is when you try to signup you get the same message from all of the providers. We are booked up and presently not taking any new appointments. My county with a population of around 85,000 has at least 10 sites that can provide the shots. What good is this if they don’t have the vaccine needed to give to people. I’m frustrated and at the point of giving up trying to get an appointment for the shot. I don’y want to blame anyone but this whole roll out is probably the worst I have ever seen.

    1. The Historian

      In Ada County, Idaho, we have 9 provider sites for 500,000 people. Two of those sites are grocery stores with pharmacies, but when I tried to get an appointment on those sites, they claim they have no vaccine available. Apparently we are supposed to check in every day at every store to see if they get vaccine. It is no wonder that Idaho is 41st in the nation for getting people vaccinated. And they are currently bragging on the news that we aren’t dead last any more.

      We also just had a news report about 100,000 doses of the vaccine being ‘hoarded’, so our state is trying to get those freed up for use.

      I am currently scheduled to get a vaccine on Feb 20th at my healthcare provider, but I’m afraid that what will happen is what happened to a friend of mine who was supposed to be vaccinated on Feb 9th – she got an email yesterday saying that her appointment was cancelled because there was no vaccine available.

    2. Carla

      @jackiebass63 — I agree, roll-out is so incredibly bad it seems it might have been planned this way. We got emails from both of the gigantic hospital systems that dominate our area, inviting us to “pre-register.” In one case, the “pre-registration” was simple and straightforward, asking only for name, DOB, phone number, zip code and email address, so we went with that one. That was in mid-Jan, and we got emails confirming our “pre-registration” on Jan. 22.

      Here in Ohio, our age cohort became vaccine-eligible on Feb. 1. The date came and went with no word from the hospital system. Finally, yesterday (2/5), I went online and learned that a local Walgreens supposedly had vaccine. Wasted an hour trying to get an appointment (as directed) online. Finally, I called the store and an unexpectedly nice and competent phone operator kept me on the line for about 20 minutes while she tried to get an appointment for us with the pharmacist, who administers the shots at that location. Eventually, the phone operator said, “Come in between 3 and 6 today and be sure to bring your Medicare card.” We arrived at 3:00 and were out of there at 3:30, having gotten the Pfizer jab. There was one person ahead of us, and one person waiting after us. We were given cards with the date for our second doses. My arm has been a little sore since, but it’s not bad.

      Now, the coda: I called a friend who’s our age and very eager to be vaccinated, told him this whole story, and suggested he call that Walgreens. They shut him down completely. Told him he could ONLY get an appt. online, and when he tried, the web site said there were no appts. left. Different phone operator, I’m sure.

      1. timbers

        Carla, NPR is background noise where I work, and Friday some lady was on NPR talking about what it’s like setting up shot appt…while doing so, she referred to her “healthcare conglomerate” and the hosts and later guests on NPR made several snide shame on you jokes in reference to her using the term conglomerate to refer to our Greatest Healthcare on earth. Thought that amusing and telling.

      2. Steven A

        Another Buckeye here. I registered with my local health network last week, as soon as it was announced that the vaccine was available to my age cohort. Like Carla, I had no prior nofification of my eligibility. Yesterday I received a “scheduling ticket” in my email advising me to sign in to my account on Saturday morning (today) to schedule an appointment. Bright and early this morning I signed in and spent about one hour and forty minutes advancing several times through multiple navigation layers. Each time I would arrive at a page advising me that “we are experiencing heavy demand, please try again later.” I was about to give up when I decided to try signing in with a different browser. A miracle? After signing in I made it straight to the sign-up page without a hitch and had an appointment in less than a minute. I will have to drive to a neighboring county for my shot, but it is the only facility in the are where appointments were available so I am feeling lucky.

      3. Procopius

        I’m always dubious of the advice to “never assume evil when stupidity is a sufficient explanation,” but …

        “I failed. I’m adjusting. I am fixing and we will move forward from there,” Gen. Gustave Perna told reporters in a telephone briefing.

        This dude is a [family blog] four-star!!! The most important part of an officer’s job is logistics — feeding, clothing, and housing his troops. Starving soldiers can’t fight. The fact this jamoke is a four-star suggests profound corruption somewhere. Of course that was back in December; there may be somebody else in charge now and they just haven’t had time to get things straightened out.

  5. The Rev Kev

    “Rural community in shock after Georgia raids clinic vaccinating teachers'”

    If the Georgia Department of Health is going to suspend any more vaccines to that community for the next 6 months, then that means that that community will only be eligible when the present vaccines have worn off for those that were lucky enough to have been vaccinated. Everybody else will not have a chance to be immunized and so will remain vulnerable to the virus and possible death. So the Georgia Department of Health is going to punish the people of that community for what may have been a result of a simple miscommunication. Not sure, but I think that when you punish a population for the actions of their leaders, that this constitutes a war crime under international law, especially when fatalities are involved.

    1. Skip Intro

      I think the collective punishment doctrine could only be invoked if the GA Health Dept. was a hostile foreign power. In this case, we have what is known around here as the neoliberal health plan: ‘Go Die’

  6. PlutoniumKun

    Re: The Chris Battman twitter threads.

    That really is fascinating, its great to see such concentrated, ideology free ‘on the ground’ research (you can never expect this from most economists). The dynamics of countering gangs is complex – I’m aware of studies in the UK and Ireland that showed successful policing (i.e arresting senior gang leaders) often increased violence as it removed the incentive for gangs to work within their communities.

    But the takeout (i’d recommend reading all the way through) is that if you want to defeat gangs, you have to remove their source of rent, which is overwhelmingly drugs. And you don’t do this by ‘cracking down’ on drugs, you do it by sensible policies of legalisation and regulation and helping drug users. The US has become the major driver of gang warfare around the world by its idiotic war on drugs.

    Although having written the above, there are some exceptions, although they are, I think, culturally specific. The Yakuza and Triads are shadows of their former selves, mostly because in Japan and China/HK/Singapore, etc., very rigid anti-drugs policies have taken away their rent base. It was really a generational war on those groups. But I’m not sure that type of approach is really workable in countries which aren’t willing to go to those extremes.

    1. The Rev Kev

      In the history books there is an example in America of a multi-generational fight against a bunch of gangs that succeeded. This was the Tong Wars in San Francisco of the late 19th century/early 20th century which were rival Chinese gangs. But if I am going to be honest here, it is true that it was the 1906 earthquake in that city that destroyed the brothels, gambling dens, and opium houses that these gangs depended on for their revenues and from which never recovered-

      1. JBird4049

        The Tongs were still a much smaller problem into the 1980s, It only finally(?) stopped after the Golden Dragon Massacre in 1977 got the SFPD to really crack down. Bad for business as well as just horrifying. None of the people who died were connected to either gang as the fools shooting missed their targets. I remember the news stories. It was a big deal.

        1. Anonymous 2

          We as newly weds ate in that restaurant six weeks later IIRC. We were completely oblivious to what had gone on. I now wonder why they sat us right next to the entrance.

          I do remember it was rather quiet.

    2. jsn

      The whole thing strikes me as appropriate to general US political analysis: substitute corporate for gang and you are here:

      “We draw a few lessons from this. A big one is that gangs and gang rule don’t emerge from state weakness. They can emerge from state strength. After all, the state is what makes something illegal, creates a space for gang profits. And the state compels gangs to seek loyalty.”

      “Another is that these illicit economies and criminal rents are the big driver of gang strength. If you try to tackle something like gang rule without tackling rents, you can expect unexpected consequences.”

      “The peril is that tackling rents can be destabilizing. Sometimes violent. Even if we were naive to start with, that’s what made us so excited about the liaison intervention–it was peace enhancing. But there is no free lunch!”

      The whole thread also reads like a summary of Mark Hanna’s “Pirates Nest and the Rise of the British Empire”, treating all the same subjects of crowding in, crowding out and state vs “privateer / pirate” power and loyalty except set in the harbor towns of New England mostly.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        I agree totally. As soon as the State permits rent extraction in any lucrative sector, it aids gang related activity, whether of the ‘legitimate’ or ‘illigitimate’ type.

      2. barefoot charley

        I appreciate your plug of Hanna’s “Pirate Nests and the Rise of the British Empire.” It’s the most concentrated good sense I’ve ever read on how British colonies grew from raffish opportunists rich and poor. And like Americans have ever since, from the git Brits made up rules that the Spanish Empire would have to follow and didn’t, which justified stealing from them (what they don’t own, you see, they just claim it). No lawlessness without lawyers, it’s the English way.

        He has the same quality of insight so appreciated from Michael Hudson, though as a working academic it’s understated.

        1. jsn

          It’s fascinating!

          There’s this continuous shortage of specie in the colonies as London tries to maintain colonial status on it’s, well, colonies. But the fanatic protestants, displaced heirs of Cromwell and psychotic anti-papists, are looting thousands of tons of sterling across the Isthmus of Darien. This maintained a bootleg liquidity in entrepreneurial New England port town regional economies directly at odds with English policy. What the plantation colonies took from slaves with english blessings the northern colonies looted from Spain with an uncomfortable wink and nod from London.

          Rather than the bloodless looting of QE, that it’s bloody piracy somehow gives it more integrity: you had real skin in the game. And of course ties it in to the comparison with gang dynamics!

        2. Procopius

          Thanks for the recommendation. I’ll see if I can get a copy. You probably would enjoy Barbara Tuchman’s “The First Salute,” which gives a wonderful sketch of commerce in the Carribean during the late 18th Century. It also gives a fine explanation of the good luck that enabled Washington’s victory at Yorktown — the coincidences that caused the British fleet to be elsewhere than Chesapeake Bay while the joint forces of the Americans and French were besieging Cornwallis.

      1. tegnost

        From the M. Hudson post earlier today…
        Already in the mid-60s the United States faced the problem of how to avoid its balance-of-payments deficit. The solution was to make America the haven for criminal capital in the world. Somebody from the State Department joined Chase Manhattan, and asked Chase to set up enclave affiliates in the Caribbean to essentially attract the criminal capital of the world. As they explained it to me: “We want to be the new Switzerland.” They said the most liquid people in the world are the criminal class, the drug dealers. “We want the drug dealer money; we want the criminal money because it’s liquid. They have nowhere to go. Let’s make America safe for the flight capitalists, for the kleptocrats, for the crooked heads of states of the world for putting their money. Don’t have them put them in Switzerland to push up the Swiss currency. Have them put it in the branches of Wall Street banks that then would take this money in the Caribbean tax evasion and offshore banking center enclaves and then send the money to the head offices.”
        Follow the money I guess…

    3. David

      Up to a point, I think, although the article plays with words like “strong” a bit, and also focuses on small-scale local criminal gangs rather than the big and dangerous ones.

      The problem is that criminals provide all kinds of services that the law forbids (child porn, domestic slaves for example) and you can’t, or at least I think you can’t, legalise all of them. But even when you do, it doesn’t stop organised crime (which operates generally at a level above the groups studied here) from getting involved. Many years ago, I was talking to a senior Dutch policeman, who remarked in passing that prostitution in the country was controlled by the Turkish Mafia. Puzzled, I said that I thought it had been legalised. Yes, he said, but that didn’t stop organised crime taxing the business, providing protection, deciding who was able to work, who could open a brothel etc. The same goes in almost any area: alcohol is legal almost everywhere but alcohol smuggling is endemic because of duty arbitrage. It’s profitable to smuggle alcohol between Sweden and Norway, and there are organised gangs that do that. Likewise, virtually anything that attracts duty or taxation will be sold more cheaply by criminal gangs that evade the taxman.

      But if you did legalise (gulp) heroin, what would happen? Well, you’d have to put some controls on it, nonetheless . It’s perhaps a little more dangerous than codeine or even full-strength ibuprofen, which are only sold in most countries in pharmacies, and may need prescriptions. There would have to be some limits on how much you could buy, some control of prices, and some duty not to sell it to those who were clearly already dying. It can be assumed that robberies of heroin-selling shops would be frequent, that a massive black market would open up, that gangs on the street would continue to offer heroin (or something like it) at reduced prices. In fact, it’s doubtful if organised crime would actually suffer very much from legalisation, unless you were to allow it to be sold to children in supermarkets. It’s all a bit difficult actually.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        I think the general point though is that for criminal gangs to be a real threat to the State, they need resources that can come close to matching the State. You can get rich on things like child porn or people trafficking or tobacco smuggling, but not rich enough to buy off anything but the smallest of countries. But as we’ve seen, the monopoly profits from cocaine and heroin are vast enough to make those criminal gangs essentially State actors in scale.

        Its not impossible of course to suppress the drugs trade – several Asian countries have pretty much done it – but I think thats only possible under certain social conditions. In a regulated drug market, criminals could certainly take a cut, but at least they wouldn’t be getting every cent.

        1. David

          Again, to a degree, but for what it’s worth my own observation is that these threats arise much more where the state is weak than where crime is strong. In a country where the police aren’t paid and the courts don’t function, you don’t need a massive capability to replace the state, bearing in mind that most state functions don’t interest organised crime at all anyway. In fact, the latest research, especially on the Balkans, suggests that the state/criminal distinction is becoming increasingly questionable, if not actually obsolete. It’s long been the case in post-Soviet states that organised crime would promote a candidate for Interior Minister, to give it control of police and customs. But more recently, it looks as though, in Albania, for example, there is now an almost total fusion, where organised crime, politics and the state are effectively the same thing, and people actually move between one and the other much a Tory politicians move between the City and the Cabinet (exactly, perhaps ….). In such societies, the police are used to crack down on competitors and anti-corruption campaigns are used to destroy rivals. This seems to be the coming trend, especially in the Balkans, and I suspect that it will soon spread elsewhere, making issues like that discussed in the paper effectively obsolete.

          On profits, I’d be interested to know if anyone has made an analysis. Obviously profits from illicit heroin supplies are enormous, but so are costs, and a lot is mislaid along the way. A regulated heroin trade would have very large control and compliance costs built in (no doubt an EU standard for purity) and would be heavily taxed. A slightly contrarian argument is that legalising heroin would remove many costs and difficulties for traffickers, who would turn to legitimate supply and probably make just as much money, but still use violence to acquire and keep markets. In addition, there would be a grey market from resale of heroin bought on Amazon, British heroin might be cheaper than in the EU and start coming through Northern Ireland, and crooked pharmacists would make millions. So whilst I’m in favour of decriminalising at least personal possession of some drugs, we shouldn’t automatically assume that it will make the crime/gang situation better. It might make it worse.

      2. Procopius

        Are your descriptions of the results of legalizing heroin what has actually happened in Portugal? You say, “It can be assumed …,” but we have a real world example to look at (except the data is very hard to find in the U.S.). Also, I don’t see how “… a massive black market would open up …” when there already is a massive black market. I agree, though, that it’s all a bit difficult.

    4. drumlin woodchuckles

      If you think the war on drugs is meant to reduce illegal drug use, then you would consider it idiotic. If you think the war on drugs secretly advances the secret agenda of growing the drug gangs in order to increase their revenue in order to increase the revenue streams going through the international money-laundry center banks, then you think the war on drugs is a sensible way to advance that secret agenda.

      And I myself think that is the secret agenda and the secret reason for the war on drugs.

    5. Yves Smith Post author

      Japan has an explicit deal with the Yakuza. they could run gambling and prostitution rackets as long as the kept hard drugs out Japan. So the reduced role of the Yakuza, even if true, had nada to do with hard drugs. I would image it’s a function of the lost pushing three decades. Less construction (and construction-related payoffs), aging of the society (men less horny on average due to lower testosterone) and less gambling.

  7. Tom Stone

    I’m still puzzling over the bait and switch on the $2K dtimulus checks and hope some of the more knowledgeable members of the commentariat will weigh in.
    I have come up with three explanations that more or less make sense explaining why the Dems would spend a record amount to elect Ossoff and then immediately take actions that guarantee he won’t be reelected.
    His Political career is dead.

    1) someone with clout thought he might become a serious competitor for the 2024 Nomination..

    2) A video surfaced of Ossoff getting real friendly with Tom Cotton in the backseat of a ’56 Chevy.

    3) Malice.
    The Joy of abusing the helpless overcame good sense.

    1. trhys

      This doesn’t exactly respond to the question of motives, but after Obama can anyone be surprised when national Democrats have no intention of following through on promises? Just marketing to sucker us rubes and get past the election. Then they can take care of their donor’s interests.

      1. Phillip Cross

        Why is anyone surprised?

        Right at the climax of that Georgia election, the Dem Senate voted (nearly unanimously) to end the filibuster that could have got the $2k checks out there and then. They only did it so they could rubber stamp money for more wars.

        Watch what they do, ignore what they say.

      2. Milton

        It could be as simple as being an overt signal to the donor class saying, “Hey, I’m open for business.” I mean, what signifies playing ball, more than a politician willing to withstand some voter heat in the hopes that some corporate cash being dumped into their campaign coffers along with some juicy inside info to boot.

      3. drumlin woodchuckles

        In which case, Ossoff and Warnock would be written off as acceptable collateral damage.

        They can still save themselves by quitting the Democratic Party and starting a Real Democrat Party of their own.

    2. KLG

      Raphael Warnock was elected to finish the term of the retired Johnny Isakson. He will face voters in the 2022 midterm, so he is in the greater electoral danger. Harris-Biden are making noises indicating that they will not stroll down the Obama primrose path. Dissing Larry Summers of Harvard is a start, but we shall see. My hopes are tiny, but there is room for hope as opposed to optimism.

      Still, Ossoff has no known natural constituency in Georgia other than those suffering from persistent TDS, the fortune spent on his election notwithstanding. He couldn’t defeat the odious Karen Handel previously, and David Perdue’s roots were very shallow. Plus his “insider trading” hurt. As did his residence in a gated community on a gated island, from where he looks and acts like an entitled jackass. Ossoff might surprise, but having closely observed Georgia politics since the early 1970s, I expect him to be a one-term wonder as was Wyche Fowler, who defeated the hapless Mack Mattingly who had previously defeated the corrupt Herman Talmadge. Fowler basically refused to go statewide, kept his base in Greater Atlanta, and lost to Paul Coverdell. Warnock could stay in the Senate for as long as he desires, but this $2000 fraud will still be a giant hurdle in less than two years…The ads, they write themselves.

    3. David

      Bait and Switch is simple marketing 101 and a standard feature in political campaigns. Plenty of books on influencing our minds using simple social constructs in print. The question is not why is it done, the question is why do humans continue to fall for it.

        1. Return of the Bride of Joe Biden

          Alternatively, blame state schools?

          Well, maybe public/private partnership schools, to be more accurate.

          1. bob

            Why is it always the person who has none of the power who must be blamed because they are too stupid, too lazy and too easy to fool?

            None of the blame can ever go to the people with power making the decisions to lie, cheat and steal. Otherwise, you’ll personally have to get on a website anonymously to defend their honor….by blaming the victim

            1. David

              Far be it from me to defend the honor of anyone in our political class. I’m simply pointing out that we as humans are predictable. We are all victims of it in our daily lives. We tend to use these social constructs as shortcuts for decision making. Following the crowd is much easier, and safer, than taking the time to make an informed decision on our own.

              1. bob


                “The question is not why is it done, the question is why do humans continue to fall for it.”


                “We are all victims of it in our daily lives”

                Did you write that? Am i misreading it? That’s the definition of blaming the victim. You even used the word “victim”


                Victim blaming occurs when the victim of a crime or any wrongful act is held entirely or partially at fault for the harm that befell them.

                1. PlutoniumKun

                  Even by the definition you’ve posted, what David said was clearly not victim blaming. He was simply stating the fact that politicians keep playing the games they do, because they self evidently work.

                  1. bob

                    It is ‘self evidently’ a moral question. One group is lying, the other is a victim of that lie, but who can judge[sic]

    4. ChiGal in Carolina

      So much wit and wisdom wasted here on this non-issue!

      In December, Congress approved $600 in aid, though former President Donald Trump threatened to veto it, saying it should be $2,000 instead. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., quickly filed an amendment to add $1,400 to the already approved $600 payments, and it was passed by the House. McConnell, then the Senate majority leader, blocked the amendment, in a blunder that likely cost him control of the upper chamber.

      In Georgia, Democrats ran on the promise of getting that $2,000 check out the door immediately if they won both Senate races. But even after the $600 check had been sent out, Democrats continued to refer to a $2,000 check, leading some progressives in Congress to argue that Biden should now approve a full $2,000, for a total of $2,600.

      From a political standpoint, if tens of millions of people get $1,400 checks, Democrats are still well-positioned to benefit from having delivered on Ocasio-Cortez’s amendment. But if tens of millions who got $600 from Trump get stiffed by Biden on the remainder — while watching millions of others get their checks — the damage could be severe enough to cost Democrats the Senate.

      It’s the means-testing, dummy!

      1. Procopius

        Thanks for the reminder of the lead-up to the fiasco. I think, since he was president* at the time, most people think of the $600 as coming from Trump. Also both Joe Biden and Rev. Warnock explicitly said, “Vote for me and a $2,000 check will go out immediately.” 20 months is a long time, and people may have forgotten by November 2022, but I sure see it as bad faith and I think a lot of other people will, too.

    5. Pat

      Two things not thought of in your reasons:

      Much of the money spent went to people the Democrats want to get the money. It went to consultants and media. The candidate winning or losing is not the point, the groups they wanted to enrich did win, and will win in the next election.

      The hopefully soon to be mistaken notion that Democratic and Democratic leaning voters have no where else to go. They truly don’t think baiting and switching the voters will come back to bite them in the ass, especially since they do not really want majorities (cover that extends that nowhere else to go by allowing them to pretend to want the same things as voters.)

      I say hopefully because people bought that ACA was the best Democrats could do, without noticing and understanding the way it was passed, reconciliation. This time people don’t want to hear excuses, they want help and they want it now. Pay go and other family blog road blocks are being recognized as something the Democrats have created or extended to put in their own way.

    6. Massinissa

      “His Political career is dead.” Not necessarily. Hes in the senate, not the house, so he gets 6 years. And if the Republicans win in 2024, he’ll probably try and base his reelection on “2024 REPUBLICAN PRESIDENT BAD!”. Hell, even if he does lose his reelection, six years is a long time. If Biden gets reelected and he doesn’t, he’ll have served for 3/4 of the Biden presidency.

    7. Glen

      4) Pushing Americans to constantly vote for change by voting for the other party stops real change and keeps Wall St and the billionaires in charge.

      The corporatists in the Democratic and Republican party don’t care about the American people. They don’t work for the American people.

    8. John Anthony La Pietra

      It could be an extra safety valve to relieve the pressure of losing one or both majorities in Congress in 2022. (Only 14 D seats are scheduled to be up for grabs next year versus 20 R seats . . . But does anyone here want to bet the Ds can’t snatch defeat from the jaws of victory?)

      Combining this with the image of “the Left” Politico says Biden has charmed into accepting the means-tested $1,400 one-and-done cheapburger, it looks to me like that’s one way they are perhaps being fingered as the fall guys as much as Elisha B. Cooke ever was. “They were the ones who said we needed to stick with as much as that — and that’s what made the bill impassable in the Senate . . . so if we’re going to even hang onto the current hangnail ‘majority’, we can’t afford any more such ‘radical’ overspending.”

  8. PlutoniumKun

    Study shows young COVID survivors can get reinfected MedicalXpress.

    I think so many of these studies are tainted by the poor quality of testing. I talked recently to a friend who had a very serious Covid infection in April and is still suffering from long Covid, and he tested negative for antibodies. His specialist just told him to ignore the test result and just assume it was false.

    I heard a very credible account recently of a young man (early 20’s) who had Covid following an outbreak that hit all his family, but who 6 months later got an even worse infection that led to hospitalisation. There are increasing numbers of stories like this floating around. Its possible that the new variant is hitting previous sufferers.

    What implications this has for vaccination, I really don’t know, but we are about to find out as we are embarking on a very expensive population level experiment.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      If you had read the article, they tested for the particular strain. It was the same one.

      Negative tests on long Covid have absolutely nothing to do with reinfections. I have what is likely some sort of Epstein-Barr related fatigue (I got mono at age 32, got hit with very abruptly with fatigue 14 years later with no triggering event, no infection, no sudden stress, nada) but I test only with normal (very low) antibodies for Epstein-Barr and other viruses.

      Please don’t spread disinformation, which you effectively did.

  9. Medbh

    Here’s another study that talks about covid reinfection:

    On Tuesday, details of the Novavax trial were presented at the New York Academy of Sciences.

    About 30 percent of the people in the South African trial had antibodies in their blood at the start of the trial showing they had recovered from an earlier infection.

    But that previous exposure didn’t necessarily appear to afford protection. Among those who got saltwater shots, the people with a prior infection got sick at the same rate as study participants who had not been previously infected — a surprise because they would have been expected to have some immunity. Nearly 4 percent of people who had a previous infection were reinfected, an almost identical rate to those with no history of infection.

  10. PlutoniumKun

    U.S. Support for the Saudi Coalition War on Yemen Is Finally Ending American Conservative

    I suspect the motivation for Biden pulling the plug is less humanitarian than a simple recognition that the Saudi’s have lost the war. The situation on the ground in Yemen seems hopelessly confused, but its clear the Houthi’s have not been defeated and can’t be defeated, although they may just merge into a new melange of groups fighting for power. The UAE (probably the main instigator of the original intervention) has already withdrawn, essentially accepting defeat.

    1. The Rev Kev

      For the Saudis this may offer an honourable way to end the quagmire that they have found themselves in by saying that the US pulled their support so they had to end the war. This does not preclude the possibility of the Saudis saying down the track that ‘we were stabbed in the back’ of course.

      But then it can get complicated. The US has said that attacks there will still be made on Iranian groups. So attacks could be kept up by pretending that some group are actually Iranian in the same way that the Israelis do in Syria. Just recently the US pulled their 800 people out of Somalia but the attacks still continue there. So deploying the Saudis out of Yemen to the border may reduce the number of targets for the Houthis but this could mean that the war and siege will still continue.

      1. ambrit

        Don’t forget that the Houthis can and do attack into The Kingdom. From a distance, it looks like the Houthis can threaten Saudi oilfield infrastructure. That is a powerful weapon to have in reserve. Since, arguably, oil is the Saudi economy, a threat to it is a threat to the House of Saud.
        The entire matter of the borders of Yemen is a muddled mess.

    2. barefoot charley

      Also in the mix: in Sleepy Joe’s first debate, the only time his spittle really flew was to denounce Saudi Arabia, almost out of the blue. May have been a Khashoggi angle–sucking up to Khashoggi’s recent employer, the richest newspaperman in the world?–but his anger was over the top, very odd. It was as if the Dems had sworn off gasoline . . .

  11. crittermom

    >Reinfection of Covid

    A former neighbor has a brother (in his 60’s?) who is in prison in Alaska, whom she said was infected last year.

    She called last week, telling me he now has been infected again.
    Neither time required hospitalization, but he has suffered from symptoms, making him ill.

    I have no way to verify this. Only her word to go by, but I’ve often wondered if reinfection was a possibility.
    After reading the article about the Marines, & now her story, I’m tending to believe it possible.

      1. Charger01

        Extremely handsome antidote- bonus if you find a video if them springing uphill. They are a fantastic athlete

  12. The Rev Kev

    “Blowback: How US-funded fascists in Ukraine mentor American white supremacists”

    This is literally playing with fire this. Having radicalized guys go over to the Ukraine to receive specialized military training and gain combat experience? Do they meet regular US Army officers while over there and share a few bottles? Do they get training in sabotage as well? What are the dangers posed here?

    About five years ago an Army Reserve Afghan war veteran named Micah Xavier Johnson was so infuriated about police shootings of black men that after doing some self-training, he went into the city of Dallas. There he killed five police officers, wounded nine others and two civilians as well. They finally cornered him but in the end had to kill him with a bomb attached to a robot.

    Now imagine a team of four of these white supremacists outraged about a crackdown on people like them under Biden. So can you imagine what they could be capable of? Johnson was only one guy with limited military training and experience. These guys could be the real deal. And it is amazing the number of times that you hear of a terror attack and find that the security services knew all about the attacker but did little but interview them-

    1. Keith Howard

      A couple of years ago someone at NC linked to a new collection of stories by Cory Doctorow, Radicalized. I thought then, and am more convinced now, that Doctorow’s title fiction will soon be fact. The capabilities Rev Kev mentions are quite wide-spread enough.

    2. Patrick

      Sure enough.
      But isn’t trumpian fascism (including the capitol mob) being hyped by the “deep state” to further the interests of “corporate fascists” and the neoliberal agenda (emasculate our civil liberties, for example the Klobachar bill to “reform” Sec 230 of the CDA linked in today’s read)? Isn’t everything theater? Or has the rDNA vaccine altered my reality sensor?

      1. Count Zero

        Well Patrick, your reality sensor seems to be putting things together too quickly and too tightly. Yes the bits are all there. And yes there are interconnections. But reality is a bit messier and more disorganised than that. That’s the problem with most conspiracy theories. They go too fast for quick and simple answers in order to manufacture a big single enemy who is somehow running the show. Reality is not a simple story.

  13. QuarterBack

    Re tech companies becoming governmental entities, I have been replaying some memory tapes of prior conversations with back room power-behind-the-thrown types. I am starting to think that this may be driven by rare earth extraction and processing. The thing about rare earths, is they are not as much rare in presence as they are hugely toxic and destructive in processing. Green energy, high performance computing, and space technologies are critically dependent on rare earths. Most rare earths come from China or other countries with low population densities and/or weak governments with much bigger problems than worrying about pollution in their off the path areas.

    Having the governmental authority and police powers would enable extraction and production to be cordoned away from prying eyes, to include the power to arrest and imprison violators that get too close. Another inside baseball fact is that many of the EPA oversight, and intelligence gathering happens at the state administered county levels.

    Remember that Bezos just announced his retirement to “pursue his passions”, which he said includes space travel, and “saving the planet”. How nice it would be to considered a space pioneer and planet savior if all you have to do is to figure out how to quietly pollute a little quiet corner in the U.S. whilst building a new western monopoly in the critical rare earth materials? Another justification is why be just a CEO, when you can be a legit Count?

    1. John

      Corporate government: I am reminded of Frederick Pohl’s two sci-fi novels, Space Merchants and The Merchant’s War. The first was written over 50 years ago and the second in the 1980s. I may be off on the dates but I think I am in the ballpark. He had the ad agencies in charge, but the scenario is similar and man, did they extract rent from everyone.

      1. Patrick

        The privatization leg of the neoliberal stool is “government by large corporations” – that is the goal! Other legs, too. Reagan’s deregulation and demonization of government (“government is not the solution; government is the problem”. Ditto austerity and financialization.

        Kennedy/Johnson Undersecretary of State George Ball began pressing for the reduction of trade barriers and impediments. But Ball’s idea behind getting rid of these barriers wasn’t about free trade, it was about reorganizing the world so that corporations could manage resources for “the benefit of mankind”.
        Appearing in 1967 before a legion of impressive Senators and Congressmen, Ball attacks the very notion of sovereignty. He goes after the idea that “business decisions” could be “frustrated by a multiplicity of different restrictions by relatively small nation states that are based on parochial (local or selfish) considerations,” and lauds the multinational corporation as the most perfect structure devised for the benefit of mankind. He also foreshadows our modern world by suggesting that commercial, monetary, and antitrust policies should just be and will inevitably be handled by supranational organizations. Here’s just some of that statement:
        “For the widespread development of the multinational corporation is one of our major accomplishments in the years since the war (WW II), though its meaning and importance have not been generally understood. For the first time in history man has at his command an instrument that enables him to employ resource flexibility to meet the needs of peoples all over the world. Today a corporate management in Detroit or New York or London or Dusseldorf may decide that it can best serve the market of country Z by combining the resources of country X with labor and plan facilities in country Y – and it may alter that decision 6 months from now if changes occur in costs or price or transport. It is the ability to look out over the world and freely survey all possible sources of production… that is enabling man to employ the world’s finite stock of resources with a new degree of efficiency for the benefit of all mankind.
        “But to fulfill its full potential the multinational corporation must be able to operate with little regard for national boundaries – or, in other words, little regard for restrictions imposed by individual national governments.
        To achieve such a free trading environment we must do far more than merely reduce or eliminate tariffs. We must move in the direction of common fiscal concepts, a common monetary policy, and common ideas of commercial responsibility. Already the economically advanced nations have made some progress in all of these areas through such agencies as the OECD and the committees it has sponsored, the Group of Ten, and the IMF, but we still have a long way to go. In my view, we could steer a faster and more direct course… by agreeing that what we seek at the end of the voyage is the full realization of the benefits of a world economy.
        “Implied in this, of course, is a considerable erosion of the rigid concepts of national sovereignty, but that erosion is taking place every day as national economies grow increasingly interdependent, and I think it desirable that this process be consciously continued. What I am recommending is nothing so unreal and idealistic as a world government, since I have spent too many years in the guerrilla warfare of practical diplomacy to be bemused by utopian visions. But it seems beyond question that modern business – sustained and reinforced by modern technology – has outgrown the constrictive limits of the antiquated political structures in which most of the world is organized, and that itself is a political fact which cannot be ignored. For the explosion of business beyond national borders will tend to create needs and pressures that can help alter political structures to fit the requirements of modern man far more adequately than the present crazy quilt of small national states. And meanwhile, commercial, monetary, and antitrust policies – and even the domiciliary supervision of earth-straddling corporations – will have to be increasingly entrusted to supranational institutions….
        “We will never be able to put the world’s resources to use with full efficiency so long as business decisions are frustrated by a multiplicity of different restrictions by relatively small nation states that are based on parochial considerations, reflect no common philosophy, and are keyed to no common goal.”

        1. QuarterBack

          Thanks for the additional illumination. It’s interesting to me how this long war on the quaintness of “national sovereignty” has evolved to its next phase of a war on “populism”. The message behind the message is that the world would be much more efficient and better off if WE THE PEOPLE would just shut up and be removed from the governance of our lives, communities, and the world we are allowed to live in. Corporations have evolved to search for and appoint CEOs that are the most omnipotent wizards that know what’s best for all, and just as importantly, know how to keep the ranks in line.

          Part of me wants to cheer them on, because the sooner they decide to flip the switch to give themselves full written law authority over every person, animal, plant, and mineral, the sooner they will discover that no combination of writs of authority, weapons systems, nor AI are a match for the unwritten laws of decency and humanity that control the true power that binds the common folk of the world together.

      2. John Anthony La Pietra

        Complete with references to “the Senator from Coca-Cola”, for example. . . .

        BTW, Wikipedia says The Space Merchants, by Pohl and Cyril M. Kornbluth, was first serialized in 1952 and then published as a book in 1953; The Merchants’ War, by Pohl alone since Kornbluth died in 1958, came out in 1984. (Pohl also wrote The Merchants of Venus, published in 1972, but that was part of another series.)

    2. jonboinAR

      Re Bezos: Space travel and “saving the planet” are not avocations that go together very well, to me. Reminds of a certain ex-vice-president and failed presidential candidate jetting around and “saving the planet” from his mansion.

  14. PlutoniumKun

    World’s biggest battery with 1,200MW capacity set to be built in NSW Hunter Valley Guardian

    Its become clear that as the price of batteries plummet, all the negativity around power storage is wrong. Scale production alone has gone a long way to solving the storage problem with renewables even without much governmental support. Many wind farms now are incorporating battery storage as a matter of course as its profitable to store the energy to sell at times of the day when there are higher rates.

    This isn’t the only good news on renewables – Denmark is moving ahead with a vast offshore wind farm, supported by a series of artificial islands on the shallow waters off Jutland. This is just one part of a potentially enormous series of offshore wind farms on the Dogger Bank, a huge shallow area (a moraine left behind by the last ice age) in the North Sea. The mega sized turbines used will have a far higher output than conventional turbines – perhaps 50% or more of the installed capacity over a year.

    Taking together all the potential projects on the Dogger Bank alone, there is the potential for in excess of 100GW of installed capacity, which is around the annualised capacity of 3 dozen or so conventional nuke plants. The power would essentially be shared between the UK, Denmark, Netherlands and Belgium, although Brexit has of course complicated this.

    There are similar huge scale projects proposed for the shallow waters of the Baltic and the Irish Sea.

    The driver for this, like with battery storage, is scale. Prices are dropping very rapidly, and offshore wind along with storage and long distance interconnections is now in many circumstances fully competitive with nuclear and fossil fuels, with prices continuing to fall rapidly.

    1. hunkerdown

      MW denominate flows, such as generators. MWh denominate stocks, such as battery installations. The article is one big category error.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        No, its not a category error. It is a reference to the batteries maximum output, not its total storage capacity. For grid scale batteries, maximum output is a more useful measurement than total capacity as it indicates how much slack it can take up in the event of a shortfall within the grid. Because shortfalls within a grid are usually relatively short in duration, what matters most is how much can be delivered on demand, not the total stored. Hence MW or GW is the more usual reference measurement used when discussing storage in non technical documents.

        1. Adrienne

          MWh is a significant figure, because it indicates the total energy that can be stored–not just how much, but for how long. A battery has a finite storage capacity and that number is represented as MWh. The battery might be used to provide grid stability or to keep the power up during an outage, but regardless, it can only provide a certain amount of juice for a limited time.

          Anyone who has set up an off-grid system understands this concept. The battery bank needs to be big enough to not only maintain the desired level of output to run your lights and appliances, but also do so for long enough time to provide energy when your system isn’t producing.

          It’s always interesting to note that articles like this one are usually very, very light on details, and never include links to actual planning documents that spell out the details of the cost and capacity of the system. They are press releases, nothing more.

          1. PlutoniumKun

            Yes, anyone who sets up an off-grid system knows that total energy storage is the key.

            But the article is not about off-grid systems, its about grid scaled systems. It is maximum output that matters most in grids, this is why the headline figure is, and always has been, about peak output, because that is what matters most to grid managers. Of course total storage is also important, but the nature of grid management is such that the amount of power that can be put into the grid on demand is the single most important quantum of interest, that is why it is always the headline figure. Total storage only matters in the event of a major longer term outage (lasting a few days) or if there is a shortfall in overall capacity within a grid.

  15. PlutoniumKun

    Brexit is coming apart at the seams Chris Grey

    Its becoming immediately clear that any optimism that people may have had about Brexit was misconceived. It was possible to think that having gotten their Brexit the Tories would turn to other things to mess up, and that gradually the technical issues would be minimised. But in reality, things are getting worse.

    The screw up by the commission over Article 16 has given an excuse for the DUP and Tories to heat things up in Northern Ireland. The police there have been warning about a lot of unrest in Loyalist communities – the most obvious manifestation being threats made against customs officials – but there is a lot more coming, and when Covid restrictions ease it could get worse. Rather than damp it down, Gove and Johnson seem intent on stoking up tensions, which is, to put it mildly, playing with fire. I can only speculate that this is part of a delusional strategy that constant Trump -like ramping up of threats and anger can force the EU into concessions. Quite simply, it won’t. The EU is in a much stronger position and simply isn’t interested anymore in playing nice. If anything, I think the EU will start playing a much harder game, and trade disputes are a game that the bigger side always wins.

    As predicted, the impacts are hitting hardest on small businesses and otherwise obscure sectors such as fashion and shellfish growers. These may be very small in the greater scheme of things, but I think it risks setting off a chain of economic problems and making unemployment much worse. It will soon dawn on the financial and pharm industry that they could be next in the firing line in a trade war, and they don’t want to be on the losing side.

    1. Massinissa

      “Rather than damp it down, Gove and Johnson seem intent on stoking up tensions, which is, to put it mildly, playing with fire.”

      I swear, sometimes it feels like they miss the 80s version of NI, complete with everything from mass hunger strikes to bombings.

      “I can only speculate that this is part of a delusional strategy that constant Trump -like ramping up of threats and anger can force the EU into concessions.”

      I mean, on Brexit they’ve already been doing that for five years now. The concessions they offered at the beginning that Theresa May condemned as unacceptable were better than the ones they ended up getting recently. Not sure what they were even expecting in that regard.

      They say insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome… Basically what Johnson is doing with both of the above issues.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        I usually can’t stand him as a commentator, but Nick Cohen actually has a pretty good summation of it in tomorrow mornings Observer.

        The DUP’s stupidity is truly bottomless because no Irish republican war forced them to embrace Brexit and partition the union. Democratic Unionists weren’t, like so many settlers of the British empire, abandoned by the Tory metropolis when the price of maintaining colonial rule grew too high. Rather, they egged Tory England on as it went berserk. They hope now that the EU’s brief threat to impose a vaccine border in Ireland will save them.

        But there’s no way out. Now, as always, the choice is a soft Brexit or no Brexit, which they ruled out; a border on the island of Ireland, which the world will not accept; or a border in the Irish Sea, which cuts unionists off from the rest of the UK and forces them to integrate with the Republic and the EU.

      2. Anonymous 2

        I think the rationale behind UK Government policy is to try to maintain the EU as the scapegoat for the UK’s ills even though it is no longer a member. Having an external unfriendly power (for that is how the Tory press present the EU now), who you can demonise, is a good distraction for the masses which means you have more freedom to do other things without too much attention. It also strengthens the hands of the Murdochs (who together with Putin are arguably the main beneficiaries of Brexit) if a wedge is driven between the UK and the EU. The more bad blood is created between the UK and the EU the stronger the Murdochs’ position is as it makes the prospect of an early UK return to EU membership increasingly unlikely.

        For those who do not follow UK politics closely, the Murdochs (and their allies) are pretty much the uncrowned kings of UK politics now, with the power to make or break politicians. Previously UK politicians could limit the Murdochs power by bringing the EU in against them. Not any more.

        The next ugly developments to come in the UK (apart from Scotland quite possibly breaking away) are the establishment of would-be Fox-type TV channels by Malone and Murdoch. As though there are not enough angry old men in the UK already. Expect to see a further swing to the right and downturn in the quality of UK politics and life generally.

        That none of this will benefit the greater part of the British population is of no concern to the Tories or their puppetmasters.

  16. The Rev Kev

    “Biden Should Use Executive Action All He Wants’

    ‘Don’t listen to the whiners. The founders wanted a strong executive.’

    Ummm, no. Brianne Gorod is the Constitutional Accountability Center’s Chief Counsel but I suspect that she got her ideas from “Hamilton” the play. It is this sort of thinking that produced the idea under Bush that in order for a President to fulfill their oath to the Constitution, that they must then be above the Constitution itself to do so. Obviously she has never heard the concept that the Founders came up with called the system of checks and balances.

    The Congress is supposed to keep an eye on the President, the President is supposed to keep an eye on the Congress and the Supreme Court is supposed to keep an eye on both of them. One thing that they made plain and clear was that they were hostile to a President that acted like a King as that was a major reason for the Revolution itself. So aware of it were they that when George Washington refused to be touched at the first inauguration, that a bystander quipped that I fear that we have swapped George III for George I.

    1. flora

      re: ‘Don’t listen to the whiners. The founders wanted a strong executive.’

      Now imagine her writing that if T was still president. She wouldn’t. That’s an important point about “factions” and one the founders foresaw, imo.

      1. montanamaven

        Some founders wanted a strong executive. But others? Not so much The book “The Other Founders: Anti-Federalism and the Dissenting Tradition in America, 1788-1828.” by Saul Cornell tells their story. “The controversy over the Alien and Sedition Acts was a watershed, further legitimating Anti-Federalist fears about the dangers posed by Federalists and shifting the terms of debate in profound ways.”. The book illuminates the complexity of the ideas that people were debating during the US founding and how these ideas were neither “left” nor “right”. Speaking about the courts, The anti-Federalists were very leery of the Judiciary preferring local trials by their peers. I haven’t finished the book yet. But I am fascinated with it. How to keep your individual rights while being part of a community. Kind of the essence of the left libertarianism that produced thinks Emerson, William Morris, Shaw, Oscar Wilde…

        1. Massinissa

          I mean, Alexander Hamilton proposed that we should have either made the US an electoral monarchy, or have a presidential system where a President is elected for life. (Oh man, could you imagine having Jimmy Carter for half a century? Would have been hilarious. Hilarious in a good way maybe, but mostly hilarious.)

          It almost baffles me that the Dem party has become obsessed over a historical figure they know nothing about because he was in a mediocre play. Hamilton is a fascinating figure, and there’s things to both like and dislike about him, so I find it almost nauseating that there’s so much adoration for him now, whereas he was completely unknown aside from being on the $10 bill when I was in school, and its for no particular reason that has anything to do with anything he did. I read his biography when I was in High School because I found him strangely amusing, at least partially because he was one of the more nakedly authoritarian founding fathers even by the standards of the day, but the play, despite literally being based on the *same biography that I had read* (same title, same author), has no real understanding of either the person or even the time period. Putting a diverse cast into a random historical setting that didn’t have historical diversity is fine, and I’m sure that could be done in many excellent ways, but by that standard, they could have either some historical figure that is either more laudable or at least more interesting. And now he is showered with adoration, even by politicians, despite the average viewer of the play knowing nothing about him other than his name, portrait, that he was a founding father, and that he got shot by Aaron Burr. The play, even if entertaining, does nothing to actually teach people anything, which is fine, most plays don’t, but then, why pick such a historical character to make such a play about in the first place?

          Sorry for the off-topic mini-rant. Had to get that off my chest.

          Also lastly, the biography its supposedly based on is very good. Oh yeah, and he was a Federalist. I’m pretty sure a lot of modern laypeople just see it as an earlier version of todays Democat/Republican feud, but that’s really a disservice to both their time period and ours.

  17. The Rev Kev

    “Biologists Discover Modern-Day Corn Dog Descended From Ancient Aquatic Sausage”

    From what I have heard about the sort of fried foods served at County Fairs, I would not be surprised to learn that some of those corn dogs were actually the original 300 million year-old sea sausages.

    1. petal

      RevKev, you’re totally missing out on Fair food! When I was growing up, we went to the county fair every year for 4H-so it was a once a year treat of a vanilla milkshake from the dairy booth, fried dough(have to put powdered sugar on top), and chicken bbq made with Mr. Baker’s Cornell chicken recipe. At the State Fair(also an annual outing for us due to 4H), it was a treat of curly fries, and we always took home a bag of sugar waffles. We stayed away from the fried candy bars and the like. That stuff is silly. I live in the middle of nowhere New England now and I miss those special outings and the foods so much. So delicious!

    1. The Rev Kev

      Saw that on the news last night and Netanyahu went ballistic. He said that this was anti-Semitic as there are no other defenses that he can offer against this happening. The list of war crimes is long and extensive and cannot be denied so with his buddy Trump gone, he will have to go to old Joe to get him to squash it from happening.

      1. John Anthony La Pietra

        Or maybe he can retire to the US and become president (real or honorary) of half a dozen NGOs. . . .

  18. flora

    re: Coming to Your Neighborhood? Amazon Delivery Vans With ‘Roaming Eyes’ – Cameras Children’s Health Defense

    Wonder who thought up this idea? /heh

    Ed Snowden weighs in:

    “Reacting to the news of Alexander joining Amazon, Snowden tweeted from exile in Russia that “it turns out that ‘Hey, Alexa’ is short for ‘Hey, Keith Alexander.'”

    “It turns out “Hey Alexa” is short for “Hey Keith Alexander.” Yes, the Keith Alexander personally responsible for the unlawful mass surveillance programs that caused a global scandal. And Amazon Web Services (AWS) host ~6% of all websites.

    — Edward Snowden (@Snowden) September 9, 2020″

    1. John

      Ten years ago Matt Taibi called Goldman Sachs the “vampire squid”. Someone more creative that I am must come up with a like epithet for Amazon.

      1. Arizona Slim

        The Deadly River?

        Anecdotally, I have heard that in South America, the Amazon River is feared. You don’t want to fall in because of all the piranhas, and you don’t want to get too close to the banks because of swift and ever changing currents.

      2. Massinissa

        It still gives me a headache that some people accused Taibi of calling Goldman Sachs that as some kind veiled anti-Semitic thing. Since when have either vampires or squids been associated with jews? Is it anti-semitic to criticize banks now? The mind reels.

        There were a bunch of articles about that. Probably about as many articles as the ones actually talking about Taibi at the time.

        1. flora

          Yes. The ‘squid’ reference was a direct comparison to the late 1890’s cartoon depictions of US robber barons’ crushing monopolies and control.

          See for example this Puck magazine cartoon about Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Trust (monopoly):

          See this example from the Daily Graphic cartoon about William Vanderbilt (son of Cornelius) crushing competitors so that his New York Central RR would be the monopoly carrier of Standard Oil:

          It seems the only thing required to bring on a charge of anti-sem is questioning unregulated modern monopoly power and neoliberal capitalism. The old red baiting wasn’t working. (Isn’t this what happened to Corbyn?) ;)

          1. skippy

            Yet the McCrazzypants part is at one time this ethnic group was fingered as the socialist/commie wellspring in Southern Germany.

            How is it that such a small population is responsible for all the worlds problems past and present, leaving one to wonder how this might shape future generations.

        2. skippy

          What scapegoat would they have if informed banking as we know it today was started by the Templar’s and not those charging a fee to store their gold.

          Same could be said about the death of a fictitious person in antiquity leading to a small ethnic population being hated for it and the forces that has unleashed since then.

          1. flora

            I’ve never heard of that. According to the wiki, the octopus as related to religion first appeared in the early 20th century, decades after it was used in the US to depict capitalist robber barons’ monopoly control of US conglomerates. It’s a powerful anti-monopoly image.

            1. flora

              adding: The Daily Graphic cartoon about Vanderbilt (linked above) was printed in the 1870’s. The Puck cartoon about Standard Oil was printed in 1904. So, 30 years of anti-monoply imagery seems to have been appropriated in the early 1900s for other nefarious reasons, but the original meaning still applies.

      3. drumlin woodchuckles

        I can’t come up with a better epithet for Amazon, but I can offer a maybe-good image-meme for Jeff Bezos.

        Take “iconic” photos of Doctor Evil from the spy spoof movies, semi-morph the faces of Doctor Evil and Jeff Bezos together into one combination face, and call it Doctor Evil Jeff.

  19. simjam

    Even Dean Baker avoids mentioning Sputnik V in his excellent article posted here. Patents before people? Or is it the fear factor again?

    1. pasha

      Baker has a strong anti-patent record with respect to pharma, is also in favor of encouraging immigration of foreign health workers to lower monopoly pricing of medical care in the US

      1. Cynthia

        Baker couldn’t be more wrong with regards to using foreign health workers to lower the overall cost of medical care. He’s apparently overlooking the fact, whether it’s intentional or not, that the hospital industry has the widest wage gap between CEO and worker of any other industry in the US. So unless he is a pro-corporate economist who supports management over labor, which I doubt is the case, he shouldn’t support such an antilabor stance as that one.

        However, bringing in foreign doctors has dropped physician wages, but not by much. What really has dropped their wages is due to hospital management being way overpaid for what little they do. Essentially what they do is take well-earned money away from physicians and give it to themselves. Since hospital managers, from top to bottom, are in charge of the money flow, they get away with robbing from physicians — the very people who make money for hospitals.

        So if Baker favors bringing in foreigners to lower healthcare costs, he should recommend taking all the overpaid and underworked hospital managers in US and replacing them with foreigners who are equally qualified to do their work, but who are far less expensive than them. Better still, replace them with low-cost robots! Since robots don’t eat or sleep, much less buy yachts or vacation homes, they would generate enormous cost savings for hospitals!

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        How little would Baker like to see American health care workers paid? One dollar an hour? Is that Baker’s goal with that recommendation?

  20. Mme Generalist

    Re Study shows young COVID survivors can get reinfected

    Virology 101. Why are these studies even being done? (See “Science needs radical overhaul” in yesterday’s Water Cooler.) Viral infection does not guarantee immunity even against an identical virus. It reduces the likelihood. It also doesn’t protect from other strains. It’s all down to individual immune systems. What would be surprising would be if SARS-CoV-2 could not re-infect.

    Five minutes ago most people knew this. What has happened to our reasoning and knowledge base? Scary times.

    1. Massinissa

      I wonder how reinfection affects Long Covid. Would it get worse? I’m not a medical person so I have no idea.

      ” It also doesn’t protect from other strains.” One of the main problem with the whole ‘herd immunity’ nonsense. Now there’s, what, half a dozen major new Covid strains now, with more to come? Good luck having population herd immunity to a dozen different strains of the thing. A China style crackdown or shutting the planes off like New Zealand were the only kind of things that would have prevented something like this, and in most first world countries that aren’t islands, neither is politically tenable, so the US government laid all their bets on these vaccines, and the rollout has been a mess. Even if the vaccine works as expected, which it might I suppose, it’ll still be at the end of the year for the majority of the nation to get vaccinated. Also, the vaccine will last what, two years? This is such an incredible mess.

    2. Mikel

      Expressed the same amazement as you with this.
      I remember charts about these types of ronas clearly showing any immunity that did occur from antibodies would most likely be only a matter of months – if that.

      This why the BS idea of herd immunity before the rollouts would never go away.

      It’s the confusiom that keeps it spreading.

      1. chuck roast

        Yeah, herd immunity…that would be the same kind of herd immunity that we had for decades back when I was a butt-smokin’ social butterfly. I would catch a corona virus every spring and every fall like clockwork. Of course it would never occur to me to stay home and not go around infecting everyone. Two weeks of hacking followed by two weeks of recovery. Covid is not going away. It will just continue to morph into a multitude of money-making opportunities. But the Kiwi’s seem to have a clue. They appear to be reasonably civilized for a nation well within the anglo-orbit. They should just stay buttoned-up and get on with their lives.

    1. Lee

      Juxtaposition of Cheetahs and Pronghorns is appropriate as they likely co-evolved as super speedy prey and predator in North America.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Per the wiki, the North American “cheetah” is much more closely related to cougars than cheetahs. Cheetahs at least as we recognize them could have easily evolved in Eurasia not North America. Its like how critters evolved into crabs at least six times.

        Cheetahs are related to cougars as opposed to lions though.

        1. Janie

          San Diego zoo staff says cheetahs are classified as small cats because they purr rather than roar. Staff put on informative shows with quite tame cheetahs.

        2. NotTimothyGeithner

          The more I think about it, there is no way a physically Cheetah like critter gets across the Bering Strait land bridge. Its simply too cold for an animal with that much surface relative to its size.

      2. JWP

        They lived alongside many other “american” versions of the African megafauna we know including zebras, camels, and lions. Pronghorns are some of the last survivors of that group. Came across this information is a fantastic book called “The Ends of the World” by Peter Brannen. An account of deep time, revealing, among other things, that humans are not the first species to have caused a mass die off of other species, and we arent even close to performing a mass extinction ourselves by % of species killed off.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Typing ” pleistocene pronghorn images” into the Yahoo image search engine one gets a mixture of pictures of modern pronghorns, some pleistocene relatives, and irrelevant noise.


          And just for fun, images of Epigaulus, the Ice Age two-horned gopher.

        2. polecat

          Yeah. When I laid eyes on that image, it read ‘Pleistocene’ all over it. Very cool.

          Since others have stated such in one way or another, perhaps it’s provokes some kind of racial memory we humans recal .. even subconsciously, of previous era …

          I mean, for an instant, I became extremely hairy .. and strong!

  21. allan

    Trump campaign paid Arizona state Rep. Mark Finchem $6,000 during effort to overturn election results [AZ Central]

    Former President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign reported paying $6,037 to a business owned by state Rep. Mark Finchem while the lawmaker pushed for the Legislature to overturn Joe Biden’s victory in Arizona.

    The campaign reported in its latest financial disclosure that it made a payment on Dec. 18 to “Mrk Finchem PLLC” and the address provided for the company is the lawmaker’s home. The campaign labeled the expense as “recount: legal consulting.”

    Finchem, R-Oro Valley, said the payment was a reimbursement “for crowd control and security costs” at a meeting he convened at a downtown Phoenix hotel on Nov. 30 with the president’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, several other Republican legislators and various people alleging wrongdoing during the election.

    Lawmakers are required to disclose each business in which they have a position or a fiduciary relationship. In an email, the lawmaker did not address why the company is not listed on his most recent financial disclosure, which covered all of 2020.

    And Finchem is not a lawyer …

    Finchem went on to join protests against the certification of the electoral college on Jan. 6. He promoted rallies scheduled for that day and said he was due to speak at one outside the U.S. Capitol that afternoon. …

    The lawmaker later said he never got within 500 yards of the building, did not witness any violence and did not know it was breached until later that evening.

    But through a private attorney, he refused to comply with a public records request that The Arizona Republic sent to the state House of Representatives seeking emails and text messages concerning his travels in Washington that day. …

    Election finance fraud, false financial disclosure statements, incitement to riot, FOIA violations.
    Just another day in the life of a citizen-statesman in a great republic.
    If people like Mr. Finchem, and the people who funded them, aren’t prosecuted,
    we’re done as a country.

  22. allan

    And in other news from Arizona,

    Phoenix Police Department trophy celebrates shooting man in groin during protests [ABC15]

    After shooting a protester in the groin [in 2017], a special team of Phoenix Police officers celebrated the shot with commemorative coins to sell and share.

    The “challenge coins” clearly depict the man being shot on the front and have the date of the protest on the back, according to images and photos obtained by ABC15.

    This story is part of an ABC15 investigation series titled “Politically Charged”

    The coins also have the following two phrases: “GOOD NIGHT LEFT NUT” and “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN ONE NUT AT A TIME.” …

    The coins were largely kept and shared by the Tactical Response Unit. …

    Apparently Gresham’s Law also applies to police memorabilia.
    A few bad apples commemorative coins.

  23. Goyo Marquez

    Re: Border Killing Cover Up

    Standing by for all the white/leftish defenses of ICE.

    We must avert our eyes from the offenses of those who protect us from peasants looking for work to feed their families.

    1. George

      I think you may have overlooked the possibility that not all who immigrate are looking for work to feed their families but have other things in mind, things that might be bad for us. Should not our Government check them out?

  24. Lee

    Blue State Blues

    EDD and Bank of America Make Millions on California Unemployment

    Unemployment in California: EDD official talks fraudulent claims, busy phone lines, identity verification

    While many of the eligible can’t get their money and suffer dire consequences, it appears that $billions have been paid to fraudsters and millions paid in unemployment benefit debit card fees to Bank of America. These debit cards are particularly efficacious in enabling fraud.

    1. Mikel

      I thought that people had an option to transfer the money to other accounts?
      But fees may be able to still seep through while doing that. And one would have to have other accounts available.

  25. Carolinian

    Dershowitz making sense? Scary.

    The brief is based on a flawed reading of history and the role of freedom of speech in governance. Its section on freedom of speech begins with a sentence which reveals its fundamental error as it claims that the “First Amendment exists to promote our democratic system.” This idea surely would have surprised the framers of the First Amendment, who believed in freedom of speech but not so much in democracy. The framers of our constitutional system thought they were building a republic with limited suffrage and many checks on democracy in the United States.

    The Electoral College, as it was conceived by the framers, was anything but democratic. State legislatures could select the electors without even allowing eligible voters to participate in the process. Just a small fraction of citizens and residents, male white landowners, were eligible to vote, and even they were subject to varying standards. The Senate back then was selected by state legislatures instead of democratic voting.

    Benjamin Franklin once said, “It is a republic if you can keep it.” Freedom of speech was essential to keeping this a republic, but not necessarily a democracy. Over the years, we have evolved into a democracy, with near universal suffrage, direct election of senators, and voting for presidential electors, but we would still have the protections of the First Amendment even if we had not adopted these attributes of democracy. So the First Amendment does not exist only to “protect our democratic system.” It exists to protect our liberty, regardless of the system we select.

    Of course one can certainly argue that the American glorification of liberty and individualism is now threatening the planet with Randian self-interest. But given the corruption of our current political system it’s hardly likely that a turn to social control is going to solve the planet much less promote greater freedom and “pursuit of happiness.” The article says McCarthyism used the same excuse of saving democracy while resulting in just the opposite. Some of us with long memories know that it comes to the current climate of fear and conformity been there, done that.

    1. John Anthony La Pietra

      Mind you, since the 14th Amendment, state legislatures haven’t had quite so “plenary” (full) power to approve any old way of allocating EC votes they felt like. In fact, given the rule from the 1960s one-person-one-vote cases that one way to deny (much less abridge) voting rights is to dilute voting power — the ability of individual voters or groups to swing an election — it’s at least strongly arguable that states should all be awarding EC votes in proportion to the popular votes.

      See, for example, here:

      Though Greens have supported this since 2004.

  26. Jeff W

    Septuagenarian Laysan albatross Wisdom hatches new chick on Midway Star Advertiser

    That headline, with its anarthrous noun phrase, brings to mind—well, my mind, anyway—this classic 2004 blog post by the linguist Geoff Pullum: “Renowned author Dan Brown staggered through his formulaic opening sentence.” It appears that the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, unlike, say, the NYT, does not go out of its way to “avoid the unnatural journalistic mannerism of the ‘false title.’”

  27. Mikel

    RE: “Wall Street Veteran Says Market Could Plunge 15%” Bloomberg

    If it did, indexes would still have a parabolic rise in the past months.
    It would put it back to a few months ago, when there were people calling “bubble” then.

  28. Jason Boxman

    From Baker:

    While we could not know that a vaccine entering Phase 3 trials will subsequently be shown to be safe and effective, the advantages of having a large stockpile available that can be quickly distributed swamp the potential costs of buying large quantities of a vaccine that is not approved. Suppose the United States had produced 400 million doses of a vaccine that turned out not to be effective. With the production costs of a vaccine at around $2 per shot, this would mean that we had wasted $800 million.

    But given all the shortages in the supply chain, isn’t this only true to the extent that we decided we had glass vials, stoppers, and so forth in excess that we didn’t want to hold in reserve for an approved vaccine?

    It’s not the money, it’s the resources. So that’s the tradeoff involved. Granted, I know nothing about vaccine supply chains, so it might be there’s always been plenty of availability of these things, and that is the least of our worries. But I do recall reading about issues with finding enough special glass for the ultra-cold vaccines, for example.

  29. Mikel

    I don’t get it. People are surprised by re-infections when there were cases of this months and ago and scientists were always saying it was a possiblity. The evidence always pointed to these types of ronas having providing limited immunity.
    No one ever said this was like the chicken p. Or measles…

    1. Mikel

      I meant to temporay immunity.

      That’s why there wasn’t really going to be any herd immunity by everyone running out and tryinh to catch it.

      The problem is as bad as it is because no one wants to think it can get worse.

    2. Massinissa

      Everyone just really, really wishes 2019 would come back. Problem is that isn’t going to happen this year, but the population is in denial, and the government might be too. Hard to tell. So theres wishful thinking everywhere. It was, what, November when people were predicting the Vaccine would come out, solve all our problems, and the pandemic would be over by March or April? March or April of NEXT year maybe…

  30. Dftbs

    How about America’s American style vaccine roll out. Say what you will about the Soviets, but the author should bear historical reality in mind and see how they handled vaccination drives and eradicated a myriad of diseases in the old USSR.

      1. The Rev Kev

        That is an amazing story that and I have never heard about it. It sounds like the government picked a winner – the Salk vaccine – and it was really only the Soviets picking up the Sabin vaccine which enabled it to go worldwide to quickly supersede the Salk vaccine. Makes you wonder what would have happened if the FBI had never cleared Albert Sabin to go to Leningrad. I guess that the US authorities were not worried about the Soviets getting ahold of this loser vaccine.

    1. Maxwell Johnston

      The USSR did well on the basics of public health (mass vaccinations, disease eradication, sanitation, potable water, etc), so I suppose Applebaum just couldn’t resist being anti-Russian as usual. What struck me most about this article was Applebaum’s line towards the end: “Signs that we live in a dying superpower are all around us.” Coming from her, that just stunned me.

  31. Cuibono

    That Marine study? Wouldn’t read to much into it yet.
    Some of these were likely persistent positives (they did not appear to rule that out through genotyping) and some would be false positives. they mention neither of those. It appears to be justifying the need to vaccinate even the previously infected even though they present zero evidence for that.
    Still, one should not be surprised that those who have been infected get reinfected. that will eventually be shown to be the norm if this is a corona virus

  32. Cuibono

    Harvard study:
    this jumped out at me:”The team found that infected children in the asymptomatic or early infection phase had significantly higher viral loads than hospitalized adults with severe COVID-19″.
    Well duh! People who are severe are typically thought to be past the period of high viremia.

      1. Montanamaven

        I highly recommend taibbi’ s article and recommend subscribing to Taibbi’s sub stack. His interview with the trader whose Dad died in despair is riveting. The man is incredibly articulate and gives a birdseye view of the whole Reddit crowd.

    1. Carolinian

      Just to chime in with a ditto to the recommendation. The investor seems fully aware of the reservations expressed here by Yves and by sites like Wall Street on Parade but says many of the small fry were willing to lose the money–perhaps from their stimulus check–simply to make a point. In other words they know the game is rigged and are trying to let the world know.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Which side lost more money? The couple of targeted hedge funds? Or all the small fry cumulatively?

        In other words, were the small fry cumulatively able to inflict a greater loss on the hedge funds than what they all cumulatively taken together lost themselves?

        1. witters

          You can think of it that way ($), or you might be making a point about the $ system, and its horrors.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            I raise the possibility of thinking of it in that way ( which side lost more?) because I wonder if some, or most, or any, of the small fry themselves thought of it in that way.

            If most of the Reddit Wall Street Bettors are/ were hoping to make more money individually than what they individually spent, and most of them end up losing at least some of what they spent, then they will eventually give up and leave the field.

            But if most of the individual Reddit Wall Street Bettors were seeking vengeance and were prepared to lose their own money in order to inflict a greater loss on the Hedge Fund Class Enemies, and if they did indeed inflict a greater focused loss on the target than what their diffuse losses added up to, then they may do it again.

            If they feel the vengeance is worth the money, they may do it over and over and over again.

            ( And now that I think about it further , if a vast number of people can afford to sustain a collective loss of four billion dollars, but their target can NOT afford to sustain a focused loss of three billion dollars, then the revenge-horde may find the price of vengeance worth it even if they collectively lose “more” money than the target.

            Because the target’s loss is a focused loss, and if ( in this scenario) a focused imposed loss of three billion dollars would be enough to exterminate the target into irreversible roach motel liquidation, then the revenge-mob may consider their successful revenge worth the price.)

  33. skippy

    Union workers had more job security during the pandemic, but unionization remains historically low – Data on union representation in 2020 reinforce the need for dismantling barriers to union organizing.

    Scroll down to Figure B

    One of the cornerstones of neoliberalism was to create a two tier society and the rights that distinction affords. Removing the rights [power] of labour was and still is the coal face in restoring some semblance of democracy, at the national level, as well where one lives. Hence why shipping jobs overseas [long lines of information dramas] was critical, not to mention applying JIT to the labour pool.

  34. drumlin woodchuckles

    The Georgia state health department aggression against the Elbert County health clinic described in the article should be reversed and also punished as savagely as possible, though that is of course up to the people of Georgia, finally.

    Not that anybody has asked me, or ever will, but here is what I would recommend. That all teachers throughout Georgia refuse to teach in person and keep refusing until all the vaccine is restored to the Elbert County health clinic and every teacher in Georgia has been vaccinated. Also, every health department individual involved in that raid, from the tippy top who ordered it to every single little mid-level Eichman who sent the order down and arranged the raid, to the perpetrators on the ground who committed the raid, should be summarily fired. They should also be doxed and have their lives destroyed as thoroughly and permanently as possible. That is the only way to deter other subhuman health department scum from carrying out similar gestapo actions in Georgia ever again, and hopefully in other states as well.

    1. Lambert Strether

      > That is the only way to deter other subhuman health department scum from carrying out similar gestapo actions in Georgia ever again

      Well, er, I think civil service rules are the best way to handle the civil service (especially if the goal is to continue to have one).

      I also don’t think doxxing is a good idea. I don’t like Internet dogpiles of any variety on any side.

  35. LifelongLib

    Well, the raid would have been justified if (say) the clinic was vaccinating whoever showed up with the biggest wad of cash. But it doesn’t appear that the clinic was flouting the law or deliberately doing anything illicit. Seems like a simple cease-and-desist order would have been enough until any legal misunderstandings were sorted out.

    1. The Rev Kev

      But an example had to be made – ‘pour encourager les autres’ – so nothing personal. It was just business.

      1. drumllin woodchuckles

        Which is why an example has to be made of all the personell involved in this vaccine seizure if the people of Georgia want any hope of preventing more and more and more such seizures.

        But again, that is up to the people of Georgia, really.

    2. Lambert Strether

      > But it doesn’t appear that the clinic was flouting the law or deliberately doing anything illicit.

      I’m not aware of any study that shows the current “tier” paradigm for vaccination is the most effective from the standpoint of stopping the pandemic; are any readers?

      Perhaps sortition would be the best; it would certainly be speedy. Or perhaps we should be vaccinating the most badly behaved first — e.g., Super Bowl revelers — on the assumption that’s how best of control superspreaders.

      I hate to be cynical, but the rationale for “tiering” seems to be PMCs seeing, as one does, the need to vaccinate the most worthy, and then leaping to fill the breach. Am I wrong? Has anybody seen any studies on this?

    1. Lambert Strether

      > Apropos of Amfortas’ post the other day, looks like someone in his town took his words to heart

      And not for the first time. From the article:

      The first county courthouse and a jail were built in 1869. That courthouse burned down in 1877. Bearden said that occurred as the town endured what became known as the Hoodoo War, when returning Confederate soldiers waged a war of terror against German settlers, who were pro-Union and anti-slavery.

      The entire north side of the square and all the buildings on it burned down in 1900. The second courthouse also burned down. The courthouse that was set afire Thursday was built in 1909 and is the town’s third courthouse.

  36. Jason Boxman

    So news from pharmacy chain world: At one Walgreens in Raleigh, NC, a single short staffed pharmacist is expected to provide 100 COVID shots in 2 days. I’m not exactly sure how that’s going to work. This is in addition to the normal daily work at that pharmacy. I believe this is for the Pfizer vaccinate that’s just arriving there.

    I get the impression Walgreens is run about as thinly staffed and badly as CVS, but this is only a single data point from a single source, so make of this what you will. It does track with the seemingly disastrous rollouts in places relying on the pharmacy chains though.

  37. The Rev Kev

    “‘I have to do this to survive’: a night with Jakarta’s silvermen”

    Bet that they have to leave some skin unpainted. There was a James Bond film made back in the 60s named “Goldfinger” where a villain painted a girl all in gold killing her. I saw an article much later about the actress that did that scene and it was explained that in painting a human body, you have to leave an area clear of paint, which they did for her, so the body can still ‘breath’. Here is that scene for those that never saw it- (1:31 mins)

  38. drumlin woodchuckles

    Here is a picture of a ” chicken with a genetic defect”.

    Actually just a chick so far. But as it grows into a chicken, will it still be able to use its hind legs for walking and running and scratching? Will it be able to fly, with those “feet” on its wings? If so, will it also be able to use those wing-feet? Will they begin to function like ” hands”? Little hands on its wings which will still be wings?

    What if we could work with that defect? What if we could give its wing-“hands” some opposable thumbs?

    What if we could do that for African gray parrots? What if we could do that for crows? With their long lifespan and tendencies toward cognitional-level intelligence and high-population societies already, would grasping-hands on their wings set them up for evolution towards human levels ( but not human types) of intelligence?

    1. ambrit

      Sorry, you must have misunderstood “us.” We meant $2000 ‘tax credit.’ We can’t have just anybody getting a piece of the action now, can we.

Comments are closed.