Links 2/7/2021

Army holds safety stand-down to address dangers of drinking antifreeze Duffel Blog

Photos Capture the Shape-Shifting Beauty of Starling Murmurations TreeHugger

B.C.’s ‘dirty secret’: more than 100 contaminated mine sites threaten water, wildlife and communities Narwhal

Penguins Spared After Mammoth Iceberg Splits Into Smaller Pieces WSJ

California’s famed Highway 1 collapsed last week. It’s sure to happen again Guardian

The forgotten foods that could excite our tastebuds BBC

Bat boxes, ‘greened’ streets and bug hotels: Barcelona embraces its wild side Guardian

The next act for messenger RNA could be bigger than covid vaccines MIT Technology Review

The Great Dictator: The film that dared to laugh at Hitler BBC

Mars Attacks!’ Is Good — Here’s Why It Deserves More Respect Collider

A happy update on a formerly homeless man who asked strangers to take care of his corgi LA Times


Why Opening Restaurants Is Exactly What the Coronavirus Wants Us to Do ProPublica

Republicans look to pummel Democrats on school reopenings The Hill

Republicans seek to pin California’s Covid-19 problem on Biden’s HHS pick Politico

Los Angeles’ Dodger Stadium COVID Vaccine Super Site in 13 Photographs Capital & Main

What lessons do India’s Covid-19 serosurveys hold? Scroll

From Moonshots to Earthshots Project Syndicate Mariana Mazzucato

NYC’s COVID vaccine hubs are ghost towns as DOH mum on distribution NY Post

For how long can Europe keep businesses from going under? FT

Londoners may be told to wear medical-grade Covid masks on Tube and buses Metro UK

BREAKING NEWS – 115 violent prisoners take over St. Louis jail: Inmates set fires, injure guard and throw chairs out of smashed windows in anger over ‘unsafe’ conditions during the pandemic Daily Mail

COVID-19: Here’s why global travel is unlikely to resume ‘till 2024 Jerusalem Post

The West’s Greed Could Come Back To Haunt It Der Spiegel

Los Angeles schools to remain in hard shutdown for near future, Beutner says LA Times

Oxford/AstraZeneca jab fails to prevent mild and moderate Covid from S African strain, study shows FT

Class Warfare

The Stench of American Neglect New York Review of Books

This is for you, Dad”: Interview with an Anonymous GameStop Investor Matt Taibbi

The GameStop Rally Exposed the Perils of ‘Meme Populism’ New York

In Response to “New York,” Re: GameStop Matt Taibbi

Labor Pressuring Biden Admin to Boost Amazon Union Drive in Alabama Payday Report

Amazon Fails to Stall Unionization Vote in Alabama Gizmodo

Tech Workers at Every Level Can Organize to Build Power Jacobin

Klobuchar targets Big Tech with biggest antitrust overhaul in 45 years Ars Technica

Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Twitter Target Resellers of Hacked Accounts Krebs on Security (BC)

Our Famously Free Press

For Media, Bezos’ Self-Made Billions Are a Separate Story From Amazon Stealing Tips FAIR

Black Lives Matter

“That Could Have Been Me”: The People Derek Chauvin Choked Before George Floyd Marshall Project

Electoral Politics Use The Same Containment Strategies As Alzheimer’s Facilities Caitlin Johnstone

Biden Transition

Biden cancels Elon Musk’s adventures in space Washington Times

Biden inherited a USPS crisis. Here’s how Democrats want to fix it. WaPo

Joe Biden’s China trade policy: make America great again, not Wall Street SCMP

Trump Transition

The Struggle Inside Senator Mitch McConnell’s Brain Counterpunch. Ralph Nader.

Trump’s access to sensitive briefings will be determined by intelligence officials, White House clarifies WaPo


The clash between the UK and EU over Northern Ireland is a precursor to confrontations that will last decades Independent. Patrick Cockburn.


Ecuador’s historic election explained: Inside the Citizens’ Revolution Grayzone

How will Ecuador’s elections affect the future of the Amazon? Al Jazeera

In Search of Tomorrow Consortium News


Protests sweep Myanmar to oppose coup, support Suu Kyi Reuters


Book Review: The Many Lives of Data in India The Wire

Is Greta Thunberg breaking our armour of aatmanibharta? Scroll

The Farmer Has Bypassed Delhi and That Should Worry Modi The Wire

Farmers to intensify protests, threaten to hold one chakka jam every week The Print

Himalayan glacier bursts in India; dozens feared dead Al Jazeera


Covid-19, funding concerns hit China’s belt and road projects SCMP

Antidote du Jour (via):

And a bonus video (Chuck L):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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    1. dougie

      Quite possibly because Trump could claim “I have seen the briefings” before ending the sentence with pure fiction. That is about as diplomatically as I can state it.

      1. JTMcPher

        Bush and Cheney and Rice and Powell and Obama saw the briefings and lied to us barefaced. TDS ought to be fading, but the Mighty Wurlitzer keeps buzzing in our ears….

    2. cocomaan

      The reason stated for preventing him from access is that Donald Trump might tell Americans what their government is actually doing.

      What a strange world where people don’t want to accidentally know what their government is up to.

    3. RockHard

      I don’t like Joe much but he had it right on this one – “What good is it going to do, other than he might say something he shouldn’t?”

      These briefings are a courtesy in case the sitting President wants to call on a predecessor for advice. Pretty damn unlikely with Trump, I hope.

      Some people in this corner of politics want to get all hurt over this. That kind of opinion really makes me think less of a person’s judgement.

      1. tegnost

        Thanks for the explainer…Indeed he should take all the advice that clinton, bush and obama have to give and throw that in the trash too… What good does it do to listen to them?

        1. campbeln

          > What good does it do to listen to them?

          Are we to speak from the American peoples’ perspective or from the perspective of a Raytheon shareholder?

      2. Pat

        I defy anyone of sense wanting the advice of any of our previous Presidents. It is not just Trump who has shown bad judgment. Iraq and Libya just to name a screamingly bad decision from the two Presidents prior to Trump.

        Screw the courtesy, and end them entirely.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            His foreign policy was a disaster that declared the Middle East a US colony so it’s possible he didn’t even look at briefings when he was President.

            1. Chuk Jones

              Yes there was the ill advised Carter Doctrine, but there was also the Camp David Accords, bringing lasting peace with Egypt. The follow thu with Palistine was a failure, due to Regan’s incompetence, IMO.

              1. NotTimothyGeithner

                Somehow it doesn’t really rise to the level of arming and funding Islamic extremists per Brzezinki in 1977.

                Holding up a weekend when he was trying to get Egypt out of the Soviet sphere doesnt really excuse the guy’s presidency.

                1. Alex Cox

                  Carter was the founding father of the Mujahadeen and the Contras. In foreign policy terms, there have been no good presidents.

    4. griffen

      They could run it through an Onion-like filter, just to disguise what he may ignore anyway. Or call it the Borowitz briefs.

      We go to war with “West Vietnam” again, imagine all heck breaking loose. The headlines write themselves!

  1. Dftbs

    Re: Biden’s China trade policy in the SCMP. I’m incredibly doubtful of the honest desire the Democrats would have to repatriate manufacturing, and honestly I am doubtful of theirs, or any one’s, ability to do so.

    I agree that it reads as smart politics to say you’ll shift the balance of power away from wall st. But unfortunately for the Biden administration, this would undercut the other ambitious goals they have for the country.

    An earlier post on this blog(Hudson 2/6) accurately described how the current monetary system which allows for the projection of American power arose and is supported by the structural deficit in the balance of payment as well as the crushing of labor power.

    I do think it’s possible the Democrats would act in typical American fashion, think they can have their cake and eat it too. It is a habit of ours to ignore dialectics and assume that our actions have no reactions beyond our desired one.

    Repatriation of industry is a people process, the current factories stay in China, they’ll supply abundant and growing Chinese domestic demand, a market the US won’t be allowed into. American corporations shift their supply chains, at tremendous costs passed down to the American consumer, to new factories built to utilize the presently low skilled American workforce.

    I am all for the externalities that follow: The shift in the balance of power towards labor, after a century of American governments actively doing the opposite. In a bit of great news the US government won’t have to worry about Commie Chinese because re-industrialization will have their hands full with homegrown “reds”. The inability for the US to fund nazis in the Ukraine or salafists in Syria is also a plus. In the long run, American repatriation of industry may be the best geopolitical move for China. We’d have to mothball those fleets and shutter those bases that would become to expensive to operate under our new “honest” industrial monetary system.

    It would be great, and I’m all for it. Hopefully the Biden administration can deliver. I’ll keep an eye out while I wait for my vaccine and $2000 check.

    1. JBird4049

      American industry was the culmination of 180 years of conscious and deliberate effort by the federal government to create it; the factories, all that ability to create almost anything was the work of both state and federal efforts, the business class, the wealthy oligarchs like Henry Ford, the unions, inventors, and yes the research done by individual companies like Ma Bell and the various universities, over two centuries of work just destroyed over fifty years for the enrichment of the top 10%, really the top 0.01%

      I think that there are still many skilled Americans and that the workforce is not as unskilled as many believe, but those with the old knowledge are getting older so we are running out of time.

      1. Dftbs

        I would agree with the broad strokes. American industrial capacity was developed over two centuries of government guidance.

        Curiously enough the US is 245 years old. The last 45 years saw a distinct shift in strategy away from “industrial” policy and towards financial policy. Largely at the expense of the progress of the previous two centuries.

        Despite appearances, the facade of a booming stock market and zero percent interest rates, the US lacks capital. How can I make such a claim? Simply look at the nation’s inability to coordinate a vaccination drive, despite being the richest nation in history, yada,yada. Simply look at the degeneration of American living standards over those last 45 years. Capital then isn’t notional money, we’re awash in that. Capital is the ability to coordinate resources and the efforts of people to achieve some goal, hopefully a productive one. In this regard the only capital we have is that to military occupy our own Capital.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Not just a drift ” away from” an industrial, an overt shift to an “anti-industrial” policy. Free Trade was part of the mechanism for exterminating industry in America in order to exterminate industrial unions.

          Abolishing Free Trade and restoring Militant Belligerent Protectionism won’t bring back an industrial policy. But it would create a shelter behind which an industrial policy could be brought back and applied. It would of course require the “extermination” ( and perhaps even the actual physical extermination) of every last International Free Trade Conspiracy supporter within the borders of the United States in order for us to conquer for ourselves the permission to
          re-Protectionize our country and then re-apply an industrial policy.

    2. Glen

      America has no formal industrial policy. American CEOs and Wall St continue to ship jobs, technology and factories to China and other countries as a means to maximize profit. It is much more of a de-industrialization policy than anything else. Think of it as mountain top mining of your industrial base – it’s made a huge mess, but it does make the CEOs rich especially since the Fed is propping up those companies no matter what the companies do.

      Biden has told Wall St nothing fundamental will change and I take him at his word. He will not stop the de-industrialization. He has reshuffled the Buy American Act rules that Reagan gutted. Maybe he will get serious about it. Once it became obvious to all that our inability to manufacture PPE and chemicals was seriously impairing our ability to handle COVID-19, there may be some real public pressure to fix things.

      Quite frankly, the PMCs I work for are trained in job destruction as opposed to product creation (all under the guise of “cost savings”.) This is how the current MBAs are trained to think and act. Changing that group think at my company would require getting rid of 2/3 of all upper management especially the pure business types (most of those that came from an engineering background seem to have a better grasp of what making things is all about.)

    1. timbers

      Caitlin Johnstone needs to be placed into an Alzheimer’s Facility. She’s dangerous. Very very dangerous. Glenn Greenwald, too. Maybe they can have rooms next to each other. On the other hand, that might be dangerous, too.

      Loved it, too.

      BTW, NPR is doing a brilliant job of re-directing folks into circular mazes based on my in-and-out 8 hr day doses of it from co-worker.

  2. Mr. Magoo

    Re: “Mars Attacks”

    Good to see that movie get some recognition. “Mars Attacks” and “Blues Brothers” – the only movies I ever thought worthy enough to buy the VHS tape for. I can’t say I ever really appreciated how much it might fit in the current day climate until reading the article.

      1. timbers

        “They blew up the capital…HAHAHA!”

        Oh I’m sorry…isn’t that sacred territory according to the elites?

        I’d have the same reaction as that old lady did.

        Recently had a few back and forth texting with my family in which I expressed the view that financial fraudsters (2008, and hedge funds that wipe out the peasant’s retirement funds by paying themselves bonuses ala Sears, etc) should be subject to the same laws us peasants are, and given their crimes can affect millions of people – including deaths of despair – why isn’t the death penalty applied to them like it is on the peasantry?

        If China can do it, we can’t we?

        1. JBird4049

          ‘Cause money is sacred and those who have stolen the most are holy. Everyone else are just losers. And I believe many people actually believe that.

      2. Susan the other

        Thanks for those old memories… and the pols never realized how long we have been this jaded?

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      “Nobody wanted to see this”

      I saw it on opening night.

      Danny Elfman discussed Tim Burton movies and more or less said studios won’t make them because they are more expensive than most movies of there size and aren’t going to make the money back in toys or the first weekend like “Spiderman 7: Arachnids have 8 legs” will.

      1. fresno dan

        February 7, 2021 at 9:48 am
        Looks like you painted yourself into a corner – what are you gonna call Spiderman 8?

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          At that point, you either restart with “The Spiderman” or go the Star Trek route and stop numbering. Spiderman v the Loch Ness Monster or Spiderman v Zach Snyder Fans. There are endless possibilities.

      2. SOMK

        I don’t know what planet Elfman is living on, because it surely can’t be the same on where Burton has been consistently making big studio films for four decades?

        Burton peaked with Ed Wood, that being said his big budget Alice in Wonderland was a turkey through and through, a CGI nightmare of not-even-that-much-style over substance, but it made over a billion (and pretty much launched Disney on their “let’s remake all our classic animations” crusade, which has resulted in a decade worth of utter dross). Like a lot of art-ish house directors who were embraced by the studio system (and embraced it back), he relies on the same bag of tricks to the point of becoming a caricature of himself, he’s not far from being Micheal Bay in mascara.

        Mars attacks is fine, but it’s a bit unsubstantial, nihilism, however you dress it up, is fundamentally an immature impulse. In terms of underrated gems from the same era Paul Verhoeven’s Starship Troopers, or even Showgirls (neither of which were made to be taken at face value, the latter of which is underrated to the point it’s still remembered as one the the worst films ever made) would be my shouts.

      3. Wukchumni

        “Don’t run, we’re your friends”

        I too saw it the opening week and what a romp, Jack Nicholson in a triptych role, and for once not mamby pamby extraterrestrials who want to be our friends.

        Now in real life, if a Martian was to attack one of landers on the red planet and we got footage of it, would that be grounds for invading?

        1. ambrit

          That sounds like the opening of S M Stirling’s “Courts of the Crimson Kings” where the first Mars lander is “bagged” live on black and white TV by Martian scavengers for sale to their equivalent of a research facility. The rest is pure Crypto-Burroughs.

    2. Deschain

      I’m not sure I’d say it’s good, exactly, but it is definitely a good time. Remember seeing it in the theater with a couple of friends, we laughed our derrières off.

      And yeah, Burton has gotten serially boring since then,.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        I haven’t seen Corpse Bride, but Big Fish was good. Frankenweenie is a good kids movie and labor of love. Admittedly the short film is a personal favorite, so I’m biased.

        Alice and the Roald Dahl movie about candy could have been made by anyone with an edict to make it look like Tim Burton did it. They are fine, but they are just retellings for new generations.

        1. Geo

          Agreed. But, sadly, Burton’s worst movies are also the most profitable ones – by far. As much as I love to criticize the dreck put out through studio committees, the ceaseless franchises and IP milking, a big heaping dose of the blame comes down to the poor taste and laziness of audiences who go to see big dumb movies in droves.

          For all the faults in Mars Attacks, it’s still one of the most unique and enjoyable films of all time yet it flopped. By comparison, Burton’s Alice in Wonderland films are abominations of storytelling and filmmaking craft (the imagery, music, and character building are atrocious) yet they made billions. Even his horrid Planet of the Apes made a decent profit.

          This is why we have the movies we have, and why those rare filmmakers that manage to get sizable budgets to make original films should be supported even when they misfire. I’ll take flawed films like Tenet, Annihilation, Southland Tales, and Mars Attacks (as just a few examples) over the mass of mediocrity shoveled out by Disney’s IP factory any day.

          That said, I’m still a ride or die Fast & Furious fan. So, I’m a hypocrite. :)

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            I’m still a ride or die Fast & Furious fan. So, I’m a hypocrite.

            I’ll disagree on this despite finding these movies to be boring. I would rather just watch Stargate SG-1. They are what they are and don’t pretend to be something else. The Alice in Wonderland movie is a big budget version of a public domain story, a wonderful one, peddling in nostalgia for better Burton movies when its really just Disney having paid Burton to put his name on it and borrowing his color swatches. They even try to add additional “girl power” when Alice was the heroine in the first place. No one is producing “think pieces” claiming the most recent Fast and Furious movie is a hallmark of Cinema because something something Black Panther/Captain Marvel/diversity in Thor ignoring previous efforts if not quite as linked to modern Disney marketing.

            To a certain extent, Burton’s Batman is a comic book monstrosity but its his movie. Its not a soulless corporate monstrosity. I mentioned the full movie “Frankenweenie”. Its not made for me, but its clearly a long term effort to make a quality kids’ movie when they usually are just garbage.

      2. Cynthia

        Perhaps Disney destroyed Tim Burton’s talent as a filmmaker. But since he was always a Hollywood filmmaker, at least he was at the peak of his talent, you can’t blame Hollywood for destroying his talent.

        However, you can blame Hollywood for destroying Buster Kenton’s talent as a filmmaker. He was an independent filmmaker when he was at the peak of his talent. But after he signed with Hollywood, his talent was destroyed by the stroke of a pen. Film historians widely regard what Hollywood did to Buster Kenton as one of the most tragic events in film history.

        At any rate, over the holidays, I was watching “In the Good Old Summertime” (1949), starring Judy Garland and Van Johnson and I noticed that Buster Kenton was in it as well, though it was a very minor role.

        Well, come to find out that the only reason he was offered a role in the film is because he was the only person who could do two things for the film.

        First, he was the only person the film studio could find who could coach Judy Garland and her soon-to-be-love interest Van Johnson in a slapstick scene so it wouldn’t look terribly stagey or contrived.

        The second thing he did in the film that no one else could do without it looking fake was trip and fall on a violin, breaking it to pieces. At first he was asked to couch another actor through the stunt, but to no avail. So he did the stunt himself, and he did it flawlessly. No one but Buster Keaton could perform such a stunt and make it look so amazingly real. That was one of his many talents and Hollywood deserves the blame for destroying it!

    1. rowlf

      Hold my beer, Rev:

      “A fake news story claiming that Guantanamo Bay prisoners can apply for GI Bill benefits found a credulous victim in Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who posed a serious query to the Pentagon about the unbelievable report.

      Wired reported that McConnell fell for a far-fetched story on The Duffel Blog, a parody news site with fake reports about the military.”

      Mitch McConnell falls for parody news report about Guantanamo Bay prisoners being eligible for GI Bill benefits

    2. Dirk77

      I see that Duffelblog has gone to a subscription model on Substack. If every adult in the US spent a $1 per day supporting independent journalism as a replacement for all media, that would be around $60G per year. Would that be enough? Anyone know?

  3. cnchal

    Bezos’ boats are gonna boil the Pacific from hull friction alone when earnings catch up to the current stawk price.

  4. The Historian

    Re: Bezos stealing tips from Amazon drivers

    Who tips Amazon drivers? This is something new I’ve never heard of. Mostly they come to the door, drop the package, ring the bell and then walk away. They are already back in their truck before I get to the door. Do they do things different in other parts of the country?

    There certainly is no tip feature for the driver when you order from Amazon.

    I don’t doubt that Bezos would steal their tips if he could, but how does that happen? Do drivers who get a tip declare it?

    Sounds like I need to learn something new here!

    1. Noone from Nowheresville

      Amazon Grocery (Prime Now) and Whole foods deliveries not general Amazon deliveries. The worker is more like a person who contract through or for InstaCart or DoorDash rather than USPS, UPS or even a locally contracted Amazon general deliveries person.

      Yes, I would imagine these workers have to declare tips via the year-end tax documents which Amazon provides.

      1. BobW

        Walmart grocery delivery has a driver tip option. But if all your groceries are paid for by EBT card (government electronic benefits transfer, fyi) there is no option to tip. So the thing to do is order one non-food item, pay for that by debit or credit card to have the tip option appear.

    2. tegnost

      “I don’t doubt that Bezos would steal their tips if he could”
      Bezos did steal drivers tips, and of course the behemoth keeps a record of whatever it pays anyone… they certainly aren’t going to pay someone else’s taxes when they won’t pay their own. The way it happens is amazon takes in as much money as it can,and gives back as little as it can get away with.

      1. JacobiteInTraining

        Talked briefly withgive $5 or so my pizza delivery dude from dominoes thgive $5 or soe other night, and – since I always tip, my pies were steaming. (ok ok, I don’t necessarily believe in super quality pizzas but hear me out nevertheless…)

        Anyway, he said that rather then sending tips to their paycheck like normal…they now (fairly recent change) get tips shunted to some damn debit-like card instead. Quite the hassle, he said. i didnt catch what fees get charged but undoubtedly the vampires get their teeth into it some how. Probably several ways.

        I mentioned that cause pandemic I had gotten a bit lazy with my usual ‘casgive $5 or soh tips’ policy and asked if he would mind if I didn’t use the app to give tips and just leave cash under give $5 or sothe doormat in the future – ‘yes’, says he, ‘that would pretty cool man, I would *really* appreciate it’give $5 or so
        give $5 or so
        So now, in those litgive $5 or sotle ‘directions for driver’ fields, please thinkgive $5 or so about saying ‘tip left under doormat, friend!’, and DONT use any tip button in the app.
        give $5 or so
        Cash avoids the prying eyes of the taxman now, AND the vampires……twofers….

        1. JacobiteInTraining

          ps, I dunno how the ‘give $5 or so’ went rogue all over the editor. just my luck I guess…tech gremlin wants to be heard I guess…..maybe the AI/Skynet on this site is Union, lol. :)

        2. Charger01

          Cash avoids the prying eyes of the taxman now, AND the vampires

          A good lesson here. I keep tenners and two dollars bills (a surprise for younger folks) as tipping devices on hand daily. You can really improve a person’s day by paying their parking or lunch….

        3. nycTerrierist

          seconded! for Fresh Direct, and any takeout, we always tip in cash
          direct to the delivery person

          best way to know it reaches the right hands

        4. lyman alpha blob

          Always, always, always tip people performing a service for you in cash.

          Besides making sure the tip goes to the right person and isn’t stolen by management, there are tax reasons too. If you tip your waiter $5 by adding it on to your credit card bill, it is highly possible that waiter will wind up being taxed on income they didn’t actually earn. Credit card tips will get reported as income to the person they were given. Say a waiter makes $150 in tips for a shift. That waiter will often need to tip out several other people – busperson, bartender, hostess, etc. – and they will pocket only $100 for themselves. But if all those tips came by credit card, they will be taxed on $150. In states where there is a separate lower minimum wage for tipped workers, that can mean a waiter’s paycheck will be a big fat zero and they could still be liable to pay more taxes at the end of the year.

          Did I mention to always tip in cash?

          1. Procopius

            Thailand is a poor country compared to many (lots richer than Bangladesh, though). Tipping is not done here. Well, in Bangkok tourists give tips because they don’t know any better, but Bangkok is not Thailand. There’s a restaurant that serves Cajun food which I won’t go to because they beg you to tip their staff and also add a 5% “service charge” in very, very small type on their menu. Most places just pay their staff enough to live on. Not live well, but live.

      2. Pookah Harvey

        While looking up how much Federal tax Amazon pays ($0 for 2017, 2018, and a 1.2% rate for 2019) I came across this interesting little factoid that I had not heard before.
        This is from a Forbes’ article defending Amazon for paying so little in taxes(surprise, surprise)

        If you look at the Internal Revenue Code, as one CPA cites, less than 1% of it is dedicated to revenue generation. The majority, in fact, is on tax deductions. “There are only about 30 pages in the Code that actually raise revenue…[T]here are about 6,000 pages that tell you how to reduce taxes through tax deductions, tax credits and other incentives.”

        Remember, taxes are just for little people.

    3. The S

      I’ve always cash tip UPS, Fedex, and USPS for delivering packages, even more so now that there is a pandemic and those delivery drivers are risking their lives. People who fetch things provide a necessary service, and it’s important to see and treat those who serve you as equals. Delivery drivers (who are needed) are treated like tireless automatons to be squeezed of value by those who shuffle ownership papers and company stock (who are not needed). Workers have to support and protect each other, because no one else will, and because our bosses are trying to impoverish and kill us.

      1. Alex Cox

        In Oregon, Fred Meyer gas stations refuse to allow their employees to accept tips. The poor gas jockeys get quite paranoid if you offfer them a buck.

        No other gas stations operate this ridiculous policy. Fred Meyer is a part of the Kroger empire so maybe the dictate comes from above.

      2. Robert Gray

        > I’ve always cash tip … USPS for delivering packages …

        Wait a minute … you tip the Post Office?!?!? I must say, that’s one of the most _____ things I’ve ever heard. What’s next???

        1. Charger01

          Tipping USPS actually sounds like a killer idea- they’ve been stretched by incompetent management, bad legislation and amazon. A bit of cash stimulus for our hardworking posties sounds like a great idea. Please give them some love.

        2. The S

          Why not tip the USPS? My Postlady has more and more to do every year, with less and less time allowed to her. Her workload has increased substantially, but her wages have remained the same, and she’s no longer allowed to work later/overtime to finish all the routes if she’s swamped with deliveries. Bills and letters are a quick drive-by to the mailbox; package delivery requires her to roll up the driveway, honk twice, and walk the packages to my porch. I take up more of her time by getting packages. When I do, I chip in for her end of the day beer or whatever.

          Working class people are my peers and allies. My tips are for the material support of working class people. Tips shouldn’t be an award system for obsequiousness. Tips should say “Thank you, actual laborer that has contributed some of your limited lifetime to doing an essential service. Let’s look out for each other as best we can until we can together get out from under the boot of the bosses.”

          1. Robert Gray

            > Why not tip the USPS?

            Why not?!? How about, because they are government employees!!! You don’t see anything improper about private citizens making off-the-books cash payments to government employees? Not sure where you live but in any honest state, or country, that would stink of corruption, actual or potential. What’s next, ‘tipping’ the over-stressed, working class [ha ha: cue Jay Gould], non-obsequious cop who writes you a ticket?!?

            1. Yves Smith

              Normally, I would agree. I do not like the idea of tipping employees at USPS offices.

              However, for at least the last decade, it appears to be common if not pervasive for USPS delivery workers to seek Christmas tips. With USPS workers now tracked on their routes, it’s not as if it makes any difference in the service.

              But yes, this does have a third world feel to it.

  5. The Rev Kev

    I won’t say what they are but that bird in today’s Antidote du Jour is beautiful in real life. I use to live for a while in a flat in Sydney and sometimes they would come to sit on the railings. They are spectacular. Every now and then where I live now I will see them resting and you just have to stop and watch & listen to them before they soon take off again.

    1. fresno dan

      The Rev Kev
      February 7, 2021 at 9:38 am
      I think it may be a parakeet, which I think are called budgies in Oz. Or something similar, but I never saw one colored like that at a pet store.

      1. The Rev Kev

        ‘Fraid not but you can find the answer if you click the Via link next to the words ‘Antidote du Jour’. They do look like they have flown through a paint factory, however they can be really loud. When you find out what they are, put the name of that bird into YouTube and see some of the vids that come back. Luv them.

        1. fresno dan

          The Rev Kev
          February 7, 2021 at 9:58 am
          if they call them lorikeets, I would say I was 50% close. They have them at an exhibit at The Big Fresno Fair (trademark) and you can go in and be close to them for ?5$ – actually, I think its 7.50$ now. They were quite colorful, but not that pattern as I recall

          1. The Rev Kev

            True, lorikeets is pretty close. We use to have a lot of budgies but now only have one left and I sometimes think that it would be nice to have a lorikeet instead.

            1. ambrit

              Apologies in advance for a truly execrable pun.
              If this was a Democrat Party Avian Austerity Mascot (D’PAAM), it would be a “budgeet.”
              Said bird being “Rainbow”(TM) coloured, screechy, proud as it’s Uncle Peacock, and basically useless, [hence, “useless ‘eeters”].

  6. fresno dan

    This is for you, Dad”: Interview with an Anonymous GameStop Investor Matt Taibbi

    The original poster, whom I’ll call SP, was unaccustomed to attention. A one-time military man and father of two, he had no other social media presence and joined Reddit exclusively to comment about stock on wallstreetbets. He was overwhelmed by what he calls “just an endless Rolodex of sad stories,” nearly all referencing the same period after the crash.
    So, even though there are many, many, MANY more exploited than exploiters, somehow our vaunted representative government only seems capable of doling and printing money at will for the rich. Two thousand bucks for a poor guy – communist oppression, 2 trillion for a rich person, the wonderful equilibrium of capitalism is preserved….
    So I’m gazing at the TV, and this guy Charles Blow (! I have to say, I do feel sorry that he has to carry that name) is putting forth the idea that if black people all congregate in just a few states, black people will have real political power…doesn’t seem to have worked out for the vast majority of white people, where a few white people blithely oppress their fellowwhites, but at least its a different idea. But it doesn’t seem to even occur to Mr. Blow that black people can represent rich white people as assiduously as white people do…you know that recent high elected official.

  7. Pat

    Call me wild and crazy, but as far as I am concerned any retired politician, intelligence or military officer shouldn’t be getting security briefings or any briefings period. IOW, no Donald Trump shouldn’t be getting briefings, but neither should Obama, Bush, Cheney, both Clintons, Colin Powell, Rice, Clapper and so on and so on.

    The fact that these briefings take place is not an atrocity because of Trump, but that they take place at all. If a former official is going to take a trip or some other action that might put them in danger, they can be informed of that issue, but otherwise they should be getting their news from the press just like the rest of us.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      But how could they start charitable foundations or command millions on the speakers bureaus without all that privileged, confidential, classified information?

      With the notable exception of the odious Orange Man, those you mention have lived lives of supreme sacrifice as servants of the public. Why would you deny them the opportunity to peddle their rightfully-earned wares to make an honest buck?

      1. ambrit

        I aver that combining “servants of the public” with “honest buck” qualifies as an oxymoron.

      2. Pat

        Isn’t that why they get, by American standards, an extremely generous pension? And it certainly doesn’t stop them from selling their memoirs, as in telling the events of the past.

        But I do admit it would preclude them from owning multiple million dollar+ homes. And wearing designer clothes. Although George would probably still be able to afford to paint, sadly.

    2. polecat

      Big knobby Club and all that. We, the mokestanis, take our lumps .. They, of the ranks of ‘Officialdom’ don’t!
      Orange de Julius IS however, his own category .. kinda like a walking, talking grenade, nestled inside an unkept bird’$ ne$t .. strutting around with the pin in the half-pulled postion.

    3. Nakatomi Plaza

      And yet it doesn’t appear to have been a remotely controversial issue with any ill effects until now. Think maybe the problem is Trump rather than everybody else?

    4. The Rev Kev

      ‘any retired politician, intelligence or military officer shouldn’t be getting security briefings or any briefings period.’

      I wonder if along with security briefings there would be financial briefings classified as security briefings. So Obama might be informed in a briefing that a certain law is being changed and it would be really good for people that “happen” to own stocks in those particular companies.

  8. cocomaan

    I read: “That Could Have Been Me”: The People Derek Chauvin Choked Before George Floyd

    The Chauvin trial starts in March and I imagine that if things don’t go as some people want it to, it’s going to be another hot summer.

    What I didn’t really see discussed in the article is whether Chauvin’s go-to move, to pin someone to the ground with his knee, is allowable under the department’s code. If their law enforcement code allowed it, a code which usually has to be approved by the city government or some kind of law enforcement board, Chauvin could easily walk. The city of Minneapolis might have decided the conclusion of this trial years ago when they approved that type of force.

    We’ll see, I guess. Not looking forward to it, especially with all the talk of white supremacist domestic terrorism stuff going around. Wonder how involved the federal government gets with Chauvin’s trial. None of this sets a good precedent.

    1. TroyIA

      I made a very brief scan of the Minneapolis PD Use of Force Policies and the most relevant section is 5-311 USE OF NECK RESTRAINTS AND CHOKE HOLDS (10/16/02) (08/17/07) (10/01/10) (04/16/12).


      Choke Hold: Deadly force option. Defined as applying direct pressure on a person’s trachea or airway (front of the neck), blocking or obstructing the airway (04/16/12)

      Neck Restraint: Non-deadly force option. Defined as compressing one or both sides of a person’s neck with an arm or leg, without applying direct pressure to the trachea or airway (front of the neck). Only sworn employees who have received training from the MPD Training Unit are authorized to use neck restraints. The MPD authorizes two types of neck restraints: Conscious Neck Restraint and Unconscious Neck Restraint. (04/16/12)

      Conscious Neck Restraint: The subject is placed in a neck restraint with intent to control, and not to render the subject unconscious, by only applying light to moderate pressure. (04/16/12)

      Unconscious Neck Restraint: The subject is placed in a neck restraint with the intention of rendering the person unconscious by applying adequate pressure. (04/16/12)


      A. The Conscious Neck Restraint may be used against a subject who is actively resisting. (04/16/12)

      B. The Unconscious Neck Restraint shall only be applied in the following circumstances: (04/16/12)

      On a subject who is exhibiting active aggression, or;
      For life saving purposes, or;
      On a subject who is exhibiting active resistance in order to gain control of the subject; and if lesser attempts at control have been or would likely be ineffective.
      C. Neck restraints shall not be used against subjects who are passively resisting as defined by policy. (04/16/12)

      D. After Care Guidelines (04/16/12)

      After a neck restraint or choke hold has been used on a subject, sworn MPD employees shall keep them under close observation until they are released to medical or other law enforcement personnel.
      An officer who has used a neck restraint or choke hold shall inform individuals accepting custody of the subject, that the technique was used on the subject.

      My reading is that placing a knee on a subject’s neck is allowed under the neck restraint definition but it also states that it is a non-deadly force option question. The question then becomes what is considered actively resisting. Can a handcuffed subject be considered resisting and if so when can they be considered cooperating?

      1. cocomaan

        Thanks to you both.

        If it’s a matter of whether Floyd was resisting, unfortunately the bar is low. Really low.

        Speaking from experience.

    2. Michael Sharkey

      Please note the manual was changed on 6/9/20

      Excerpt from the Minneapolis police training manual:

      5-311 USE OF NECK RESTRAINTS AND CHOKE HOLDS (10/16/02) (08/17/07) (10/01/10) (04/16/12)


      Choke Hold: Deadly force option. Defined as applying direct pressure on a person’s trachea or airway (front of the neck), blocking or obstructing the airway (04/16/12)

      Neck Restraint: Non-deadly force option. Defined as compressing one or both sides of a person’s neck with an arm or leg, without applying direct pressure to the trachea or airway (front of the neck). Only sworn employees who have received training from the MPD Training Unit are authorized to use neck restraints. The MPD authorizes two types of neck restraints: Conscious Neck Restraint and Unconscious Neck Restraint. (04/16/12)

      Conscious Neck Restraint: The subject is placed in a neck restraint with intent to control, and not to render the subject unconscious, by only applying light to moderate pressure. (04/16/12)

      Unconscious Neck Restraint: The subject is placed in a neck restraint with the intention of rendering the person unconscious by applying adequate pressure. (04/16/12)


      The Conscious Neck Restraint may be used against a subject who is actively resisting. (04/16/12)

      The Unconscious Neck Restraint shall only be applied in the following circumstances: (04/16/12)
      On a subject who is exhibiting active aggression, or;

      For life saving purposes, or;

      On a subject who is exhibiting active resistance in order to gain control of the subject; and if lesser attempts at control have been or would likely be ineffective.

      Neck restraints shall not be used against subjects who are passively resisting as defined by policy. (04/16/12)

      After Care Guidelines (04/16/12)

      After a neck restraint or choke hold has been used on a subject, sworn MPD employees shall keep them under close observation until they are released to medical or other law enforcement personnel.
      An officer who has used a neck restraint or choke hold shall inform individuals accepting custody of the subject, that the technique was used on the subject.

  9. The Rev Kev

    “Biden cancels Elon Musk’s adventures in space”

    I like the assumption that one nation has the right to dominate space. What are they going to do then? Shoot down any other rocket trying to get off the ground? And how exactly do you ‘dominate an orbit’ exactly? Set up a check point? But Mars is a pretty big planet and it can be shared the way Antarctica is. But I can’t see China ‘strip-mining’ the moon. That is what Washington has said that they will do – with each mining area having a huge security zone around it ‘for safety.’

    Reading the rest of the article makes the writer sound like a Musk fan boy but I am afraid that it does not cut it for me. Until he solves the radiation problem then there will be no colony on Mars much less the Moon. I suspect that Musk’s real aim is to have a bottleneck grip on all flights leaving the planet’s surface and wants the US government to back him up on this as much as possible. And what that would mean is that no US company would be able to set up a business or operation in space without paying Musk top dollar for access first.

    1. The Historian

      Remember that this is a Washington Times story. There is no evidence that China wants to dominate space and as far as I can tell, China is only in its infancy wrt space. They are decades away from any attempt to have a base on the moon.

      As far as the FAA cancelling SN9’s test, they only did it for two days, apparently over a license violation which may have been for SN8. I haven’t seen the feds do anything else to inhibit Musk, so I take this article with a grain of salt. SN9 did go up, and unfortunately, came back down – hard. SpaceX still hasn’t figured out how to start their engines from a prone position.

      To fly to Mars, it is true, the space ship will have to have some serious radiation protection and that will be heavy and costly to put into space. One of the things that the starship is being designed to do is to carry heavier payloads so I think SpaceX is rationally thinking about what they will need to go to Mars.

      1. lyman alpha blob

        China’s space program is a lot more advanced than you likely realize. They are not decades away from being able to attempt a base, no more so than the US at least, and they have recently completed successful lunar missions –

        – with plans for more in the future –

            1. The Historian

              Remember the Pathfinder? 1997?

              China may someday pass the US in space, but they aren’t there yet. I don’t think we have anything to fear from China wrt space.

              1. lyman alpha blob

                The point isn’t that they’ve surpassed the US (and if they did, who cares other than jingoists?). It’s that they have caught up – their missions parallel those of the US and they have accomplished some minor ‘firsts’ for China along the way.

                The US was shooting payloads out of gravity wells with chemical rockets in the 60s, now a few more countries can do so, but with better computers on board.

                1. NotTimothyGeithner

                  Another aspect is we know more about the Moon. The potential of a lunar operation exists now as opposed to 1973. Our tech was good enough then, but setting up a moon base to determine viability was a huge cost.

                  Having a functioning moon base opens up the next step of space exploration/exploitation. SpaceForce:The Next Generation is unnecessarily aggressive, but pretending the Chinese aren’t looking to the Moon in relatively soon timelines is not a good idea.

    2. lyman alpha blob

      Where does Muck get all the fanbois? Perhaps he paid for the op-ed placement using some of his Gamestop lucre?

      This part was risible –

      The FAA did not cite its reasoning behind ordering the cancellation of the launch. Many have speculated that the cancellation was brought about due to safety concerns. After all, in December 2020, SpaceX did a test of the experimental rocket. The Starship prototype made it to a height of 41,000 feet. Once it reoriented itself, in order to allow for the rocket to land vertically, the great silver spacecraft promptly did a bellyflop that ended in a massive explosion.

      So you think a massive fireball crashing to earth a month prior may have had some bearing on regulators stepping in?!?!

      Since there in general seems to be little to no regulation on Musk’s activities, to the point where he, Bezos and the other techbro[family blog]s can clutter up the night sky with tens of thousands of redundant satellites just to see who can produce the biggest swarm, here’s my idea – a company that produces satellites capable of shooting down Musk’s.

      Feel free to steal the idea and spread it widely. I’ve got the cost of my astrophotography camera that won’t work due to satellite interference to chip in as seed capital to the founder.

      1. The Historian

        “So you think a massive fireball crashing to earth a month prior may have had some bearing on regulators stepping in?!?!”

        No, because SpaceX is using a different methodology than NASA. For a NASA flight, everything has to be absolutely perfect before any ship goes up – and they never test the whole system at once prior to a flight – so a flight failure for NASA is catastrophic. It is extremely difficult to have to work to those exacting standards and it is extremely expensive.

        SpaceX believes that they learn as much from failures as they do from success. They build extremely cheaply and test various components to see if they work – they aren’t after a perfect flight. Right now, their big problem is how to start the rocket engines when prone. They know their landing technology works when the rocket always stays vertical, so landing isn’t what they are testing right now. They already know they can do that – if they get the engines to start.

        There is a great site on youtube: NASASpaceFlight, created by a number of rocket engineers. They are set up around Boca Chica and watch everything SpaceX is doing there and their commentary is excellent.

  10. Skip Intro

    Taibbi’s interview “This One’s For You Dad” is, IMHO a must read.

    As for the conspiracy charge, it makes me laugh. JP Morgan Chase last fall settled for $920 million or whatever in a case involving spoofing in the metals markets. Before that, they would have said, there’s no such thing as spoofing! Same with manipulation of LIBOR. Once upon a time, if you accused the banks of manipulating LIBOR, they’d say, “That’s a conspiracy theory.” Then there were settlements and now everyone knows it happened. With these people, it’s always a conspiracy until it isn’t. Once they’re found out, it’s like, “Oh, you caught us. You’re right. It wasn’t a conspiracy. But this other thing, that’s a conspiracy. That’s not happening.”

  11. freedomny

    Matt T interview on Gamestop is really good. And this is absolutely the most on target answer for why the event occurred:

    “You had a leaderless group rise up and use whatever market power they had, whether it was buying a hundred thousand shares, or one. Some very established traders who trade for themselves frequent those boards. And then you had people who saw the message, they saw the Batman symbol and they rallied to that. You know how many messages I saw in the thread, of people just lining up? It meant something to them. They got to buy a fractional share of the hero’s journey.

    But the trade was destroyed. Whether or not that was intentional is not for me to say. All I can say is what happened. Retail brokerages all of a sudden stopped allowing their clients to trade, unless they were of a certain net worth. Banks could do it. Hedge funds could keep doing it. They could still be in the trade. But you and I could not. We could only sell. We could only do the one thing that they would need us to do, to get themselves out of the quagmire. And it wasn’t about price at that point. It was about control of physical shares that would allow you to cover.

    So yeah, a message got sent. But one was also received. They basically said, “We understand the message you’re sending. And here’s the message we’re sending back.”

    But it was worth it.”

    1. Phillip Cross

      Contrast that with this.

      You have been told that investing in the stock market is like betting on a sports game.

      You have been told that you are a SPECTATOR in the game of markets, that you are WATCHING a game being played out in front of you by lots of different companies.

      You have been told that you should make ‘bets’ on those companies based on how well you think those companies can play the game that you are watching. The companies will play the game and they will keep score by ‘beating’ or ‘missing’ on revenues and earnings and the like, and then that score will determine whether or not your bets pay off.

      You have been told that the better you are at ‘analyzing’ the teams playing this game, the more ‘due diligence’ you put into studying the teams playing this game, the more money you will make with your bets.

      You have been told that everyone can win with their bets, that this is how you, too, can achieve the wealth that you deserve.

      You have been told that the odds are ever in your favor.

      You have been told this for your entire life.

      More and more, you suspect this is a lie. But if it is a lie … what then? What meaning exists in the stock market if this is a lie?

      Over the past few weeks you have been told a new story. A brave story. A story of heroes. A story of meaning.

      You have been told that by banding together and acting as one, you can “democratize” the stock market.

      You have been told that you can slough off your market oppressors who “want companies to fail”.

      You have been told that you can be a PARTICIPANT in the game of markets, that you can storm the playing field of companies, that you can take matters into your own hands and rescue a promising company under unfair attack.

      And, yes, make some good money in the process. Why not? Seems only fair.
      President Chamath Coin enlists Katniss to the cause.

      Today, as you see the collapsing stock prices of the companies you supported, you suspect that this was a lie, as well.

      And you’d be right.

      Neither story is true. Neither story has EVER been true.

      You should read the whole thing. It paints a very compelling picture of what is really going on.

      SPOILER ALERT: Since this is happening in Scamerica, its all just another fake narrative deviously contrived to suck people in and take their money, in order to send it up the pyramid.

    2. Basil Pesto

      It’s a good interview, as interviews go, but when it gets to analytics, beyond ‘Wall Street bad’, it’s quite wrong, and vlade’s pieces here detail why. For one thing, while shorting companies can increase scrutiny of them (which is why short sellers can perform a valuable service by scrutinising fraudulent companies), they cannot ‘destroy’ or materially affect their business just by shorting them (I hope I have this right). The esoteric machinations of traders will, generally, have no effect on whether someone buys a copy of Cyberpunk 2077 from GameStop or from a digital platform.

      I do wish Taibbi would read NC/get in touch with Yves so he could see some of his blind spots on this story.

    3. Lambert Strether

      > “We understand the message you’re sending. And here’s the message we’re sending back.”

      That was the line that resonated with me. It’s what liberal Democrats said to the Sanders people, too.

  12. Noone from Nowheresville

    Taibbi: So it’s not enough that the rule book, the game board, referees, and enforcement mechanisms are all tilted toward a house win. If someone(s) manages to win despite the odds, then the rules must be changed mid-game to stop the members of the house from bleeding out. Unless the bleeding is caused by members of said house. that’s okay because the house itself still wins.

    Nader: The show must go on. Brilliant, simply brilliant. Mesmerizing even. I remember when Nader said Not you too, Amy when she used him as a scapegoat for the 2000 election years later. Here he is doing more or less the same thing, playing the political smoke & mirrors game.

    The distractions. The commentary. So much personal investment and public face signaling. True believers and liars on all sides.

    The Machine must think it’s great as The Machine can continue on unimpeded while the show goes on.

    In the words of Queen

    Empty spaces – what are we living for?
    Abandoned places – I guess we know the score
    On and on!
    Does anybody know what we are looking for?
    Another hero – another mindless crime
    Behind the curtain, in the pantomime

    Hold the line!
    Does anybody want to take it anymore?
    The show must go on!
    The show must go on! Yeah!
    Inside my heart is breaking
    My make-up may be flaking
    But my smile, still, stays on!

  13. Pelham

    The jury no doubt will be asked to also take into account the fact that Floyd was saying he couldn’t breathe before he was ever touched by an officer.

    The matter isn’t being helped by pretty routine media references to Floyd’s “killing” or “murder.” Neither of those descriptions has been established. So I think we can certainly expect violence if Chauvin is acquitted. But I haven’t picked up on any sentiment in favor of Chauvin, anything that would lead to riots if he’s convicted. Maybe I’m missing something, though.

    1. Kurt Sperry

      Surprised to see a comment backing Chauvin here. I don’t see how one could watch the video of Floyd being killed and come to any conclusion other than it shows a flagrantly—even performatively—deliberate murder.

      1. Katniss Everdeen

        When did the concept of “innocent until proven guilty” become such an anachronism that it doesn’t even deserve a modicum of lip service?

        1. JBird4049

          In modern times, it seems like almost everyone except the rich is assumed to be guilty once charged with a crime by any police officer no matter how disreputable the officer may be.

          Personally, I believe that Chauvin is slime and should be doing life, but the man has the right to be presumed innocent until tried and convicted by a jury of his peers. Too often the innocent have been punished because it was convenient, easy, or just fitted preconceived, often racist or classist, notions. I am willing to admit that my fear of the police could easily prejudge someone like Chauvin and that could (possibly) be true here. So all should be presumed innocent. It is supposed to be a core idea of our justice system, yes?

    2. Sardonia

      The media has shown its usual irresponsibility. Floyd was saying he couldn’t breathe well before the restraint hold. He was asked if he was on any drugs, and denied it. IIRC, the medical examiner said he was on a dose of Fentanyl that was high enough to be fatal – and how is opiate-overdose death caused? Depressed ability to breathe….

      IMHO, if there’s culpability here, it might be negligence due to the fact that maybe the officers should have assumed he might be lying about being on drugs, and when complaining of inability to breathe (before the resistance and restraint), an ambulance should have been called for (I don’t know if one was called for or not). If one wasn’t, there might be some negligence there. But from everything else I’ve read, the neck restraint itself was both allowable restraint, and not itself the cause of death.

      But, the media, with its thirst for ratings, preferred a different narrative. Honestly, I can see all network executives praying for as much violence as possible – a foreign war, a civil war, a race war – so as to increase their ratings and profits.

      1. Aumua

        Floyd was saying he couldn’t breathe well before the restraint hold.

        So what? All the more reason for the police not to pin him on the ground by the neck.

        He was on drugs. Again, so what? Does that absolve the cops of responsibility here? Does that mitigate what Chauvin did? What his fellow officers did? I don’t think so.

      2. Yves Smith

        There are plenty of reasons for not being able to breathe besides fentanyl. Did you forget the original “I can’t breathe” Eric Garner. He had asthma.

      3. Lambert Strether

        > IIRC, the medical examiner said he was on a dose of Fentanyl that was high enough to be fatal

        “He was no angel.”

        There was no way for Chavin to know this at the time, of course.

      4. Kurt Sperry

        Before we jump to any hasty and premature conclusions, we should all slow down and give the KC Chiefs’ lawyers a chance to make their case that their team won too.

  14. Wukchumni

    Many national parks allow RVs and trailers, but some impose certain length restrictions based on road, traffic, and weather condition variables, said Cynthia Hernandez, a National Park Service public affairs specialist.

    Nationwide, there are 8,585 spots for RVs at national park campgrounds. Amenities such as electric, water and sewer hook ups are usually listed on the park’s web pages, but Ingrassia believes the NPS campgrounds are inadequate.

    The RV Industry Association supports wider, longer and level campsites, 50-amp electrical service, as well as hook ups for water, and modernized dump stations.

    “Eisenhower-era campgrounds are not set up for RVs with slide out rooms,” said Ingrassia.

    I’m not a fan of RV’s in our National Parks, as visitation is generally in the summer months and a $100 tent will suffice versus a $100k motorhome. Yeah, an RV has a few advantages with its own shower & shitter, but here in Sequoia NP a private shower anybody can utilize will set you back a few bucks and no charge for dropping the kids off in the pool.

    Besides, all RV’s do is continually go down in value, a $100k version with a fair amount of miles being worth $20k within a decade typically.

    No RV’s or trailers are allowed in Mineral King as the road is just too narrow, and it warms the cockles of my heart to see the 2 campgrounds there full of tents, few of which are emblazoned with highly visible names on the side of them such as ‘Wilderness’ ‘Backcountry’ or ‘Montana’ as you’ll see on 4 wheels bad.

    1. furies

      It is NOT at all fun to have a campspot anywhere near these behemoths. Listening to a generator run for hours is not my idea of getting back to nature.

      I’m horrified they’re being encouraged and accommodated.

    2. Angie Neer

      About 30 years ago I visited Sequoia NP, and overnighted at a campground populated by RVs. I don’t remember whether it was in the park proper, but in any case quite of few of the RVers felt the wilderness experience needed to include loud music and television shows, powered by generators. Since then I’ve been wary of organized campgrounds of any kind. I would guess (and hope to be wrong!) that as RVs have continued getting bigger and more luxurious, the urge to make the campground “just like home” has only become worse.

  15. Jeff W

    The Great Dictator: The film that dared to laugh at Hitler BBC
    “…(consisting of cod-German punctuated by shouts of “Juden”)…”

    What the heck is cod-German? (From context it seems like ersatz German but still…)

    From here:

    cod British, slang mock; sham.

    And a bit more etymological detail, or at least speculation, here.

    1. Carolinian

      Hitler of course accused Chaplin of being Jewish (which he wasn’t but said he wished he was).

      1. fresno dan

        February 7, 2021 at 1:19 pm

        Coincidences. Just last night I saw Resistance (no, not the YouTube video against Trump, but the real Resistance, where getting caught got you flayed alive) the movie about Marcel Marceau during WWII. Twice in the movie the Charlie Chaplin mustache comes up, as Marcel uses it in his own skits. The movie doesn’t say Chaplin is Jewish, but it conveys the idea that the Germans thought Chaplin was Jewish.
        Marcel explains to his father that he is not playing Hitler, but Charlie Chaplin, and later to a German officer who finds the mustache while searching him on a train and accuses Marcel of mocking the Fuehrer. Marcel explains that he uses it to amuse children in his care.

      2. Jeff W

        “Hitler of course accused Chaplin of being Jewish…”

        From here:

        Years ago, Ivor Montagu, a close friend of Chaplin’s, told me that he had been in Berlin in 1934 and had come across a book [by Johann Jakob von Leers notorious for his anti-Jewish propaganda] called The Jews Are Looking at You, a parody of a children’s series, The Animals Are Looking at You. In it, Chaplin was described as a disgusting Jewish acrobat. The Nazis had been deeply offended by the rapturous reception given to Chaplin on his visit to Germany in 1931. Montagu sent this book to Chaplin, and felt that it may well have been the spark that led to the production of The Great Dictator.

        And, incidentally, the BBC piece inexplicably claims that The Great Dictator was “1941’s second biggest hit in the US”—it was, in fact, the second highest-grossing film of the previous year (beating out Rebecca and The Philadelphia Story). The second highest-grossing film in the US of 1941 was, of course, Honky-Tonk.

    2. Jeff W

      Adding: And, because cod has an invariant plural and can be a noun, a verb, or an adjective, it can be used, like buffalo, to make perfectly grammatical sentences of indefinite length consisting of that one word, as shown here:

      Cod cod cod cod cod cod cod cod cod cod cod.

      i.e., phony cod pretending to be real cod that are pretending to be phony pretend to fool other phony cod pretending to be real cod pretending to be phony.

      Cod, it seems, are a pretty crafty bunch.

    1. Dftbs

      The great lesson of post-Soviet communism was that Marxism can’t claim to be a science if it doesn’t take empirical reality into account. In that regard Deng Xiaoping was the most revolutionary Marxist thinker of the second half of the 20th century.

      Rather than let China’s communist system bash itself against the Labor Theory of Value and misallocate the resources required for national development, the way the Soviets did. He understood that resource allocation systems aren’t ideological, and that the ideological goal of Communism can be distilled to “better material conditions” for the people. And so the Communist Party of China subjugated Market theory of value to the material well being of the nation.

      The Communist Party of Cuba saw the success of this experiment, and in my opinion is pretty smart to ditch ideological dogma (not that the Cubans were ever very dogmatic) in favor of the validated results demonstrated in the PRC.

      That’s not to say the Cubans or the Chinese aren’t communist, but perhaps Communism isn’t what we thought it was.

      1. Wukchumni

        In my opinion a pandemic would have been a piece of cake in the days of the Soviet Bloc party, how hard would it have been to have your populace stay at home and not go to work?

        It wasn’t as if anybody had mortgages, owed money or were free to move about.

        Perhaps that explains why the Chinese seemingly did so well with our recent bout of it?

      2. flora

        The great lesson of post-Soviet communism was that Marxism can’t claim to be a science if it doesn’t take empirical reality into account.

        In that regard, the neoliberal economists and politicians still have something to learn. ;)

          1. skippy

            Unfortunately, the greater part of economic controversies arise from confronting dogmas. The style of argument is that of theology, not of science … In economics, new ideas are treated, in theological style, as heresies and as far as possible kept out of the schools by drilling students in the habit of repeating the old dogmas, so as to prevent established orthodoxy from being undermined …

            On the plane of academic theory, the importance of the Keynesian revolution was to show that all the familiar dogmas are set in a world without time and cannot survive the simple observation that decisions, in economic life, are necessarily taken in the light of uncertain expectations about their future consequences.

            Orthodox theory reacted to this challenge, in true theological style, by inventing fanciful worlds in which the difference between the past and the future does not a rise and devising intricate mathematical theorems about how an economy would operate if everyone in it had correct foresight about how everybody else was going to behave. – Joan Robinson


            Its nice to have people walking by the job and stop to comment – how beautiful it looks, having seen it in its previous state, out of the blue and all. Currently have 5 requests for quotes by people that have walked or driven by, including across the street, no signage or advertising at all ….

      3. Aumua

        That’s not to say the Cubans or the Chinese aren’t communist, but perhaps Communism isn’t what we thought it was.

        Well if Communism is a stateless, classless and money-less free association of individuals, which presupposes a material abundance to even exist at all… then yes Communism is not what you thought it was.

        1. Dftbs

          Perhaps my point would’ve been better made with more thoughtful phrasing. I’ll try again: The “market” is no more capitalists and no less “communist”, than a hammer is Catholic or Protestant

          1. Aumua

            Very well, and my point was to illustrate the difficulty of communicating about such things when words like “Communism” can have such different connotations of meaning, and raise such a spectrum of different feelings in people.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      “Commanding Heights” was the old buzz word pushed by Soviet reformer economists who were definitely not neoliberals. Energy, water, sanitation, education, “access” to reliable transit, etc still need to be done by the government because they can run these items at losses and aren’t incentivized to extract profit.

      Healthcare is one too, but maybe not cosmetic surgery outside of victims of disease or injury.

      The Soviet leadership hated Khruschev for trying this because he was really undermining their feudal control of areas that the government doesn’t help except in a regulatory environment. The USSR under Stalin did do some things better, but it wasn’t really all that different from Tsarist Russia. Other communist countries followed the USSR’s examples. Cuba was in a bind because of Kennedy’s embargo and it’s place in world trade.

      It’s fitting Brezhnev brought in Pepsi instead of Coke as Pepsi was a heavy top down company, and it just fell under the control of the Politiburo types. LBJ picked coke to put in care packages because it was more decentralized despite his own preferences.

        1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author

          Amazing movie! One of my favorites. Cagney was superb in his final film role. One can’t go wrong with Billy Wilder films: so many gems.

          1. Michaelmas

            Billy Wilder presumably made a bad film at some point. But off the top of my head I’m damned if I can think of one.

  16. Wukchumni

    I had mentioned using my $600 stipend to commission a Tijuana artist to paint dogs cheating at poker on the side of our black velvet cat* named ‘Blackie’ (absolutely no points for originality) and then selling him on Etsy for $1450 and plowing the gains into Bitcoin, and there’s no need for me to wait for Joe to come through with the doughulus, as i’ve got my $2k now thanks to last weeks performance by the acknowledged premier cryptocurrency.

    * yeah we miss him, but the new owner has come through with Zoom sessions, and he does wail plaintively on occasion from afar wishing he was back with his pals, but markets.

  17. Pat

    A point to add in the evil of Amazon using tips as salary rather than an addition to salary as intended, when purchasing from Prime Now the buyer was instructed NOT to tip the delivery person in cash but only through the app.

    This next part is anecdotal. Yes I used the service a couple of times in its first years. And yes I tried to tip in cash only to be asked to please do it in the app. I did ask why, telling them though it was years after my waitress days, I still knew I had preferred cash because my employer would wait to give me the credit card tips until everything cleared into their account. I was told they were warned not to take cash and if the company found out they could be fired. They did confirm they had gotten tips. But as I said this was in the early days.

    But I have always remembered that because it struck me as wrong.

    1. flora

      an aside:
      an idea for an editorial cartoon: draw Amazon as a gigantic boa constrictor using multiple coils to squeeze the life out of its warehouse workers, drivers, independent bookstores, small retailers, etc. The Amazon boa’s skin pattern spells out AMAZON.

  18. Wukchumni

    A happy update on a formerly homeless man who asked strangers to take care of his corgi LA Times

    Couldn’t break through the LAT paywall, but was this story about Prince Andrew?

  19. Chauncey Gardiner

    Thanks for the article from the South China Morning Post regarding China’s delays and cancellations of Belt & Road projects. Besides the issues mentioned by the writer, I question how much this initiative has also been curtailed by a shortage of Eurodollars, and to what extent organic internal economic growth in China is falling below the headline GDP numbers.

    1. flora

      Thanks for the link.
      an aside: when FOX News is the defender of journalism and free speech I know something has gone awry in the ‘left-ish’ MSM.

      “YouTube appeared Thursday night to have reversed its decision on demonetizing the account of an independent journalist. It happened hours after Fox News published a story about the tech giant’s ‘dangerous’ actions.”

    2. flora

      What happened at NYT is “Lord of the Flys” stuff. I wonder if the darling ‘outraged’ reporters have ever read the book? Which one holds the conch shell?

        1. Carolinian

          I’m not going to pose as any kind of expert on this but even decades ago people like Russell Baker were talking about the shift of print journalism from an apprentice system to being more journalism school oriented. Therefore staff once came from all over the country as they excelled in their local cities and learned the craft in a more hands on way.. It doesn’t sound like these wiser older heads are calling the shots at the NYT.

          So even if you fix the revenue problem that older culture seems to be gone. Some of us who are outraged are older too. I’m very dubious about government supported media being any kind of solution. PBS News Hour has become rather dreadful–a mirror to the print bigs rather than an antidote.

  20. Jason Boxman

    Unsurprisingly, the Republicans are using something else — schools — as the wedge issue, rather than Biden lying about $2,000 checks. Neither party can stomach Americans learning that, yes, we can all get money, an immediate material benefit, without the world ending.

    1. Aumua

      Well with all due disgust toward the Democrats, if the Republicans had their way we would get nothing.

      1. Jason Boxman

        Most people will get nothing, if the cut off income is reduced any further than it’s already ridiculous level. At this point, it’s just liberal Democrat virtue signaling. As usual, it’ll certainly help some people at the margins, but why do some people go to happyville and others got to paincity, to paraphrase Lambert?

        1. Aumua

          Right they’re doing the minimum they can get away with but also at the same time, if Republicans had their way no one would get any cash assistance, period. Both things can be true.

      2. Lambert Strether

        > if the Republicans had their way we would get nothing.

        $1,200 from the CARES Act + the famous $600 = $1800

        $1800 > $1400

        So the Democrats, now in control of both the Executive and Legislative branches, have managed to give less than Trump. And that’s before we get to the means-testing.

  21. Synoia

    Trump’s access to sensitive briefings will be determined by intelligence officials, White House clarifies .

    Really? No massages for Trump? That’s a bit harsh.

    1. ambrit

      I was under the impression that this modus operandi was in effect throughout Trump’s White House Days.
      It’s all a part of the crypto-austerity policy. The team that previously “massaged” the information before it went to Trump has been laid off. Unfortunately, this task does not comport with any activity that can be offshored.

  22. Mikel

    RE: Next Act For Messenger…

    The more I learn about it, the more I want to wait to see the effects.

    1. Eustachedesaintpierre

      One of his most memorable rants for me which I was haunted by, when I was somehow seen as the best person to write a piece of total blarney for what was at that time, a small Irish giftware company’s sales brochure. I ended up thieving bits of text from the competition into an accepted variation of the usual BS. I would have loved to have been able to have added the suggestions that were thrown at me in a late bar from a group of colleagues – but suggestions which for the most part revolved around Lovingly handcrafted magic Art produced in Leprechaun secret foundries in the Wicklow mountains or Tir na Nog, at the end of road constructed from 4 leaved shamrocks, by a river of Guinness under a rainbow bridge – although helping to make a great night would have certainly been rejected alongside myself.

      As for Bill if he was able to react to the news, I hope it would be of him with a Marlboro light in one hand, blowing out a large puff of smoke followed by one of his large mad grins before him saying ” I told you guys “.

  23. GF

    Biden inherited a USPS crisis. Here’s how Democrats want to fix it. WaPo

    “But some postal experts worry that a credit to the Postal Service would not remedy substantial problems with its business, namely that it must deliver to every corner of the country six days a week without enough mail to cover the cost of those trips.”

    Boy, if postal experts have determined that that is the most substantial problem facing the post office vs the pre-fund required for the pension plan, then new postal experts are badly needed. The problem is not that it is cost effective to deliver to every corner of the country. That is a straw man argument. The “profits” generated in major densely populated corners of the country more than offset the rural costs.

    1. Geo

      Well said. Would love to live in a time where your take was the norm. Or, at the very least, this “how will we pay for it” mentality was applied to foreign wars as vigorously as it’s applied to things that actually help lives. Sadly, things that hurt lives have bottomless budgets and things that help lives are starved of budgets.

      “Evil is life turned against itself” – Erich Fromm

    2. marym

      The House passed a bill HR 2382 in 2020 but the Senate didn’t act. This past week HR 695 and S 145 were introduced. The House bill currently has 200 (D) and 31 (R) cosponsors. The Senate bill has 2 of each.
      “H.R.695 – To amend title 5, United States Code, to repeal the requirement that the United States Postal Service prepay future retirement benefits, and for other purposes.”

      1. Lambert Strether

        > “H.R.695 – To amend title 5, United States Code, to repeal the requirement that the United States Postal Service prepay future retirement benefits, and for other purposes.”

        231 sponsors, but not Pelosi, Hoyer, or Clyburn. We’ll see how it goes…

  24. allan

    Go long dead pool futures:

    Hedge funds eye water markets that could net billions, as levels drop in Lake Powell [Salt Lake Trib]

    Water managers in the Upper Colorado River Basin know the number by heart: 3,525.
    It refers to an elevation, a topographic ring around the shores and walls of Lake Powell, and it signals a crisis.
    At 3,525 feet above sea level, the federally owned reservoir could only spare another 40-foot drop before reaching “dead pool” — where power generation at the Glen Canyon Dam becomes impossible. Below that lies a worst-case scenario where hundreds of billions of gallons of water would be trapped with no easy way to release them into the Grand Canyon below.
    The reservoir is currently 40% full and its elevation is 50 feet above 3,525, but that level could be exposed in just a couple of bad snow years in the river’s headwaters, given the continued demands of the 40 million people across seven states, two countries and 29 Native American nations who rely on the river. …

    Many see a need to continue what’s always been done in the river basin: the hashing out of differences in board meetings and conference halls, or, more likely for the near future, Zoom meetings. Others hear a death knell for Glen Canyon Dam.

    But another controversial vision has roared back to life in recent months that would upend nearly a century and a half of precedent. Hedge funds and other Wall Street interests want to rewrite the “Law of the River” in the Colorado River Basin and use the free market to solve the problem of scarcity — while potentially [SPOILER ALERT] raking in immense profits. …

    The first rule of Law and Economics Club is that the `free market’ can not encounter
    a legally constrained problem it fails to solve:
    either change the definition of `legal’ or change the definition of `solve’.

    1. Wukchumni

      Water for lying over-whiskey is for lying under.

      It’d be like a hedge fund taking over a debt laden bank, and distributing money from it’s emptying coffers, what could go wrong?

  25. Wukchumni

    The Donkey Show needs a counterpart to the My Pillow guy, and i’m thinking a My Sham guy would be easy to find. He’s got to have a thick Minnesota accent like one of the characters in the movie Fargo, you betcha.

  26. RMO

    re BC’s Dirty Secret: Not just mines, we’ve also got a lot of abandoned and leaking gas wells in the province. How many? No one knows for sure because of the lack of records, but even the ones we know about for sure come to a substantial number.

  27. lobelia

    February 7, 2021 at 12:46 pm

    A happy update on a formerly homeless man who asked strangers to take care of his corgi LA Times

    Couldn’t break through the LAT paywall, but was this story about Prince Andrew?

    Well, as you well know, Wukchumni, since you live in this hellstate California, it could also have been ex California Empire Royalty, Edmund Gerald [Jerry] Brown and his Ex First Dog corgi, Sutter Brown (if Sutter were not deceased) – who had his own formal twitter and facebook accounts (how much did that cost to pay the person[s] who ran those accounts????), in a punch to the face to all of the thousands of unsheltered homeless humans Jerry presided over. Though, the same odds – 0-1 would have applied.

    gotta run.

  28. Jason Boxman

    The stands certainly appear to have quite a few people at the Super Bowl tonight. I guess the pandemic is over? Nothing to see here? Curious.

    From USA Today:

    A total of 25,000 fans are expected to be in attendance in a stadium that can hold a capacity of 65,890 for football games. According to the Tampa Bay Times, the NFL will issue free KN95 masks to all attendees, and groups of fans will need to maintain a social distance of six feet from others. Fans can be thrown out if they fail to comply with the rules. Fans will also be offered a take-home COVID-19 test kit after the game.

    About 38% capacity. Masks provided, at least, but it doesn’t say if they’re required.

  29. Wukchumni

    The Super Bowl commercials are ho hum this year so far, and not one of them has featured anybody masked up yet, with lots of people way too close to one another.

  30. VietnamVet

    Caitlin Johnstone link is a great article about Alzheimer’s Facility’s walks being circles to keep the patients from leaving. Except, my walk goes to the mail box. Friday I was bamboozled by a Chase bill and until I dug out the one, I had already paid with a late fee. Only then did I realize that I got the February bill in the mail before the January bill. The perils of old age in a time of collapse. I’ve switched to internet payment as much as I can. The Post Office has just lost all of the supposedly profitable first-class letters that used to pay the bills by mail.

    The Washington Post article perfectly describes going in circles without mentioning that US Postal Service is a constitutional right. Its disrepair documents the trashing of the US Constitution.

    Duffle blog stated the truth: ‘Critics warn National Guard lacks exit strategy for presidential inauguration. “We have no metric for what success looks like,” said one high ranking officer.’

  31. KFritz

    The BBC article on “Forgotten Foods” is a triumph of ‘cool’ web design and, “Hey ma, look at this,” over readable content. Editors who don’t cry “foul!” and prevent this nonsense are at least as culpable as the perps.

  32. John Emerson

    The first comment to the Taibbi story suggests that Taibbi’s anonymous informant was conning him. I also have my doubts.

    1. Basil Pesto

      that had occurred to me as well, to be honest. Hopefully he did his due diligence. I would never take a poster at a site claiming to be ‘4chan with a Bloomberg terminal’ at face value.

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