Links 2/9/2021

Scientists develop transparent wood that is stronger and lighter than glass CBC (ma)

German Institute Develops ‘Powerpaste’ That Stores Hydrogen Energy At 10x the Density of a Lithium Battery Hackaday

MARLIT: Artificial Intelligence Against Marine Litter Eurasia Review (David L)


Nearly Three Times As Many Russians Have Died From Covid Than Previously Thought Forbes

China, Russia steal a vaccine diplomacy march Asia Times (Kevin W)

Feeling the strain: stress and anxiety weigh on world’s workers Financial Times


BioNTech-Pfizer COVID vaccine effective against 2 variants DW (resilc). You have to read carefully to see that this is in vitro. See here: Neutralization of SARS-CoV-2 spike 69/70 deletion, E484K and N501Y variants by BNT162b2 vaccine-elicited sera.

Vaccines Alone Are Not Enough to Beat COVID Scientific American (Robert M)

I have pointedly avoided reporting on accounts by MDs of Grade 4 reactions, but this is in the press: Man in his 70s collapses and dies just 25 minutes after receiving COVID-19 vaccine in NYC – as officials say he ‘didn’t have allergic reaction Daily Mail. And FWIW, the Mail is generally a vaccine cheerleader. Good charts in the article. Note Alabama and Oklahoma look to have the biggest gap between vaccine availability and uptake. Here, the process is a mess, so it may be that v. vaccine hesitancy.

Why the U.S. Is Underestimating COVID Reinfection Scientific American (Robert M). We’ve made occasional noises about observed cases of reinfections seeming to contract cheery analyses saying immunity lasts >6 months. And for those living in areas with high early infection rates, like NYC and California, we are more than six months past a case spike.

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

Wuhan mission unlikely to settle charged debate on virus origins Financial Times


Texas Rep. Ron Wright Becomes First Sitting Congressman To Die Of Covid-19 Forbes

Biden’s Herd Immunity Reality Check And Trouble In South Africa Heisenberg Report (resilc)

In the Absence of COVID Safety Plans, Teachers Are Resigning and Retiring Early Truthout

Nearly 10% of Americans Have at Least One Covid-19 Shot Wall Street Journal

Inside the Worst-Hit County in the Worst-Hit State in the Worst-Hit Country New Yorker (furzy)

Washington state hospitals scramble to find counterfeit N95 masks, test staffers Seattle Times (furzy)

People are fed up with broken vaccine appointment tools — so they’re building their own MIT Technology Review. Resilc has been trying for a week to get a vaccine appointment for an 85 in North Carolina. Today he sent a photo of three laptops next to each other all dedicated to this task. I didn’t get an explanation as to how three machines in parallel seeking a time might advance the cause….

Joe Biden’s Super Bowl Moment of Silence Garners Boos From Crowd, Surprising Social Media PopCulture

‘It’s not safe or smart. It’s stupid’ MarketWatch

The NFL Honored Health Care Workers By Throwing A Superspreader Super Bowl Vice (resilc). Party across the street, and munchies looked cleaned out at the grocery store.


The Crony Ratio – £800 Million In Covid Contracts To Donors Who Have Given £8 Million To Conservatives Byline Times (dk)


Gene Sperling: Joe Biden’s $1.9tn plan is necessary as economic recovery insurance Financial Times (David L)


“Everything has become an admin nightmare” due to Brexit say UK designers Dezeen (resilc)

Cancel the public debt held by the ECB and “take back control” of our destiny Defend Democracy. Impressively long list of signatories. Above my pay grade to identify how many are seen as Serious Economists.

Robert Tombs – Perry Anderson: A Devastating Indictment of the EU Brave New Europe (Anthony L)


Myanmar coup: Police clamp down as protesters defy ban on gatherings BBC

Myanmar: Military Coup d’état violates principles of rule of law, international law and Myanmar’s Constitution International Commission of Jurists (furzy). I find this bizarre. “What about ‘coup’ don’t you understand?” Perhaps I missed it, but did this group make any noise when the Maidan lot tore up Ukraine’s constitution?

India—like the rest of the world—is moving away from the path of economic austerity Quartz. When you’ve lost Modi…

Pacific Islands Forum in crisis as one-third of member nations quit Guardian (Kevin W)


Koch ads urge Biden to pull Afghan troops Axios

Can Biden get the US out of Afghanistan? Asia Times (Kevin W)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Biden DOJ Halts Trump Admin Lawsuit Against California Net Neutrality Rules ars technica

Trump Transition

Florida businessman gets year in prison in fraud case against Giuliani associates Politico (resilc)

Demagogues vs. Dictators by Michael Lind Project Syndicate (UserFriendly)

Where As a Nation Do We Go from Here? Pairagraph. UserFriendly: “A+++ back and forth between Chris Arnade and Michael Lind (addressed to each other).”


Senate looks to avoid dragged-out Trump impeachment battle The Hill

Trump’s Crack Impeachment Lawyers Misspelled ‘United States’—Again Vice (resilc)

Former FBI Agent Questions Police Response At US Capitol KSL. Useful confirmation.

In America’s ‘Uncivil War,’ Republicans Are The Aggressors FiveThirtyEight

The Boogaloo Bois Have Guns, Criminal Records and Military Training. Now They Want to Overthrow the Government. ProPublica. I only skimmed this piece, but I don’t see the key factoid, which is how many of them there are. The FBI keeps tabs on these groups (and if anything has an incentive to exaggerate their numbers because funding). They said the Proud Boys had 600 members, meaning their media presence was way out of proportion to their actual ability to do anything. Hence I am suspicious of the same re the new militia threat du jour.

Shelby won’t run for reelection The Hill. Really too bad. Shelby is tough on Wall Street and in the shrinking minority of not cray-cray conservatives. But he is an old coot. DiFi should take notice.

Hacker attempted to poison water supply of Florida city, officials say Guardian (Kevin W)

Black Injustice Tipping Point

George Wallace, segregationist Alabama governor, loses university honor Guardian

Our Famously Free Press

Facebook Says It Plans To Remove Posts With False Vaccine Claims New York Times

Fleet Street editors unite to demand ‘urgent’ action on Freedom of Information openDemocracy

Police State Watch

Can older and female recruits salvage the image of US police? RT (Kevin W)

NRA Examiner Motion Adam Levitin, Credit Slips. Schadenfreude alert! Way more fun than the headline.

Chinese regulators call in Tesla over customer complaints Reuters

Tesla’s Balance Sheet Not Volatile Enough. Needs Bitcoin, Musk Reckons Heisenberg Report (resilc)

Korea Inc seeks to corner global parts market for electric vehicles Financial Times

Boeing Board Failed to Challenge CEO on 737 MAX Safety, Lawsuit Says Wall Street Journal

Exclusive: Congressional Democrats set to back more than $50 billion for transportation sector Reuters. Resilc: “The Boeing/Delta et al welfare bill. The only trains we’ll see soon are Lionel.”

Family of Robinhood user who died by suicide sues company NBC (furzy)

Redditors’ Plan to Use GameStop Playbook for Glove Makers Unravels Bloomberg

EU’s Vestager Warns Apple To Treat All Apps Equally Amid Privacy Dispute Reuters

Regulation of Big Tech will decide the fate of Western democracies Business Insider (furzy)

Class Warfare

A Historic Union Vote Gets Underway at Amazon Wired (resilc)

Orthodoxy of the Elites New York Review of Books (Jim B)

It’s Easy to Fix Inequality: Tax the Rich Counterpunch

What Jeff Bezos Hath Wrought New York Times (David L)

Antidote du jour. Tracie H: “Sebastian engrossed in bug watching.”

And a bonus (guurst):

And another bonus (Lance N):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. The Rev Kev

    variant now identified in 293 cases in western Austria state of Tyrol—at least 140 active cases. Germany is considering closing the border to Tyrol. Austria govt has issued urgent travel warning. #COVID19’

    Interesting that. It was only a week or so ago that 100 skiers from different countries were sprung on Austria’s ski slopes in breach of the country’s coronavirus rules. And that was in the Tyrol as well-

    Of course Austria is doing the only thing that they can. They are easing their six-week coronavirus lockdown even though their infection rate remains high. They are giving a warning about the Tyrol region though so there is that-

    1. ObjectiveFunction

      Figures. First case I knew personally was an inveterate ski bunny who picked it up in Aspen in Feb 2020 and brought it home to hubby in NYC area. I expect tha’ Covid just loooooves those steamy apres ski spas everyone flocks to after a day on the slopes.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Most of the initial wave in Ireland in March 2020 was from school skiing trips to the Austrian/Italian border. The hotspots around upmarket schools was a very obvious feature in the first month or so of the pandemic. The fact that schools were still making those trips into March, while the media here stays silent about it of course has nothing to do with the fact that most senior media people attended those schools or have children attending them.

        I don’t know what is happening in the ski areas – I’ve heard stories from Austrians and Italians I know that people who live in those mountain areas are describing it as the most wonderful year they’ve ever had, as the locals have the ski slopes to themselves all season. But it does seem that as usual there are some businesses who can’t help bending the rules, and so there certainly are some resorts that have surreptitiously opened.

        1. Wukchumni

          My concern of Covid and skiing here on the all open slopes of our domestic resorts hasn’t borne out so far as being a vector of the virus, i’ve read of no accounts this winter of a superspreader event.

          But then it isn’t a forbidden fruit, as skiing would be in Europe with most resorts not opened this year, and a good mix of nationalities scrambling for precious few lift tix.

        2. wilroncanada

          The BC mainland’s major ski resort, Whistler (of 2010 Olympics lack of snow fame), has seen similar comments about how few skiers there are most days. However, there have been more than 100 positive tests, with the accompanying orders to quarantine, and the contact tracing that has forced several hundred more into self-isolation, and the closing of some bars and restaurants which were careless with mitigation protocols. Most have been traced to seasonal resort groups of young people who party apres-ski, share accommodations in groups, and won’t be around after the season ends

    1. lyman alpha blob

      So when redditors run up Gamestop stock to the stratosphere, that’s bad because it doesn’t reflect the stock’s underlying fundamentals.

      But when Elon Musk uses government subsidies (remember where Tesla gets so much of its ‘profit’ from) and plows them into a cryptocurrency with no inherent value and lacking the backing of any institutional authority whatsoever, that’s just good investing?!?

      1. Wukchumni

        Think of Bitcoin & Tesla more of a handy thing to pin the blame on when Dow Jonestown drinks the kool-aid & turns turtle or was that an ostrich?, and both are similar to John Law’s Bubble & the South Sea Bubble in that one is based on nothing while the other is in lofty territory stock wise on no earnings, i.e. nothing.

        JerrySeinfeldcoin, that’s it!

        A cybercurrency based on nothing

      2. Jack Parsons

        The US decided that we wanted to have an electric car industry, and we set up a subsidy program for private industry.

        What are you complaining about? This is how it was supposed to work! EM did what we wanted him to.

  2. Toshiro_Mifune

    Hacker attempted to poison water supply of Florida city
    The remote-access system the hacker was able to use has since been disabled.

    So many question;
    – Was the control system intentionally placed on a network that could be reached via the internet or was this unintentional?
    – What was the remote access software? RDP or, more likely something like LogMeIn/TeamViewer? Was 2FA enabled – or more generally – what were the security procedures and protocols?
    – Will there be a follow up article in 2 weeks when this turns out to have been someone working remotely who thought they were on “UAT Testing System 5” but were actually on “Production System 2”?

    1. RockHard

      It’s a city with a population of 13K people, more likely just a non-segregated network for lack of knowledge/manpower/money, along with some bad password security. There’s a shocking number of systems that get deployed with the default admin password. All it takes is someone who knows about these systems. Why screw around with RDP or LogMeIn if some random port is open and listening for Internet connections?

      I always check Hacker News when these articles come out. There’s always someone who worked at a water treatment plant who has some knowledge of how these things work. As usual, HN delivers

      1. RockHard

        Actually maybe it was an RDP attack, from the Tampa Bay Times

        But at about 1:30 p.m. the same day, Gualtieri said, someone accessed the system again. This time, he said, the operator watched as someone took control of the mouse, directed it to the software that controls water treatment, worked inside it for three to five minutes and increased the amount of sodium hydroxide from 100 parts per million to 11,100 parts per million.

      1. wilroncanada

        Did they leave their backdoor open, or are they just covering their backsides? I guess we’ll just have to wait two weeks for the briefs to be submitted.
        I’m sure the Russians will be prominent in their briefs

  3. fresno dan

    The Boogaloo Bois Have Guns, Criminal Records and Military Training. Now They Want to Overthrow the Government. ProPublica. I only skimmed this piece, but I don’t see the key factoid, which is how many of them there are. The FBI keeps tabs on these groups (and if anything has an incentive to exaggerate their numbers because funding). They said the Proud Boys had 600 members, meaning their media presence was way out of proportion to their actual ability to do anything. Hence I am suspicious of the same re the new militia threat du jour.
    I agree completely. Hyperbole is now the media business model. Gin up your demographic. Its Remember the Maine 24/7. 5 people died at the Capital riot – 3 of which were due to their own pre existing medical conditions, apparently (it is very hard to get dispassionate reporting about the cause of death of the 3 not killed directly by violence, but as best as I can glean, 2 died of heart attacks, and one of a stroke).
    Something like 44 people are murdered daily in the US. What is the Total number killed at riots in the US in the last year? According to the Guardian, 25. And that seems to be padded for the point of a political point of view.
    ACLED found that the overwhelming majority of the more than 9.000 Black Lives Matter demonstrations that took place across the US after the killing of George Floyd have been peaceful.

    The FBI keeps tabs on these groups (and if anything has an incentive to exaggerate their numbers because funding). I would be curious how many boogaloo boys ARE FBI employees…

    1. a different chris

      >Hyperbole is now the media business model.

      Well the media is right wing, and hyperbole is their game. For example, did you hear the horrors about 11,000 people “losing jobs” (disputed but we’ll take it as is for the moment) because of Biden’s Keystone XL cancellation? Oh noes!! All over not only Faux and the new crazies, but plenty of mainstream coverage. Meanwhile:

      >Some 847,000 people applied for unemployment benefits the week ending January 23,

      But Wuk’s point about the Proud Boys below is well taken. I don’t think that number makes any sense at all, I could probably scare up 60 at least sympathizers given any 10 square miles to the north Pittsburgh.

    2. dave

      Three years ago after the Charlottesville riot I had some co-workers who were afraid to go for walks in their neighborhoods because the streets were filled, filled I tell you, with roving bands of KKK white supremacists.

      Everyone is being worked up 24/7. And people just aren’t very good at assessing risk, and the press knows it.

    1. Pat

      What value would a stats site have for Disney.?

      Gotta spin it how you can…

      (We desperately need media “deconsolidation” in this country.)

      1. sd

        Fox and Disney merged not too long ago which just tells you more about Disney than Disney wants you to know.

  4. shtove

    Trump’s Crack Impeachment Lawyers Misspelled ‘United States’—Again

    Didn’t click through, so let me guess … the Minted Estates of Unmerica?

  5. Wukchumni

    The Landespolizei keeps tabs on these groups (and if anything has an incentive to exaggerate their numbers because lack of funding). They said the Proud Goys had 603 members, meaning their media presence was way out of proportion to their actual ability to do anything. Hence I am suspicious of the same re the new militia threat du jour.

    History shows the Beer Hall Putsch was a failed attempt at seizing politicians and stillborn-better done than the folly of January 6th, until the guns came out that is, and the lead was flying.

    Our scenario is different in that law enforcement leans right politically some profoundly so, and would be in alignment with the Proud Boys in particular (was there any other specific bully boys-cum-militia Trump mentioned aside from them?) because in our famous for being famous country, they are brand name and share their second amendment rights passion with a good many of the citizenry it seems. The idea of hate groups being the voce populi ain’t me babe.

    The slick ones are armed to the teeth, watch the ‘Crying Nazi’ after Charlottesville unload the armory he carried in case of battle on his person, onto his hotel bed @ 19:00 of the video…

    5 guns & a knife

    Charlottesville: Race and Terror – VICE News Tonight on HBO

    1. Duck1

      Don’t think the legal system leaned left aside from suppressing the ludicrous putsch of Ludendorff. Hitler received a hand slap sentence during which he was able to inscribe his tome about his struggle. He was notoriously (at least in retrospect) an intelligence agent.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      I took a quick look at your link and lost interest rapidly. A little more enticement might … might return my interest. But your link is lengthy and I am not sure why I should bother reading it. Would it trouble you too greatly to offer some further enticements than spurious precision? What is “rather daming[sic]” in the link you offer and why and how do you believe it is “rather daming[sic]”? I quickly found the link rather boring, rather long-winded, rather circumspect around the point … whatever that was if there were a point … and rather not of further interest. Would it trouble you to explain what I missed and what attracted your interest?

      For me, the CDC has labored diligently to undermine whatever credibility it once may have deserved and enjoyed. I do not need a clever and what appears to be a very well-done statistical study to undermine my confidence in the CDC — so little remains left to undermine. Also quick impression — the link content is over-my-head and I need something simpler to grasp at — an incisive brief for the statistics allergic — like me.

      [I apologize for being testy but I have been up all night and my patience is especially limited until I get more rest.]

    1. Rod

      This Heffernan column is so revealing.

      Insightful read on the lenses we often look through–thanks for it.

      That old law about ‘an eye for an eye’ leaves everybody blind. The time is always right to do the right thing.

      Martin Luther King, Jr.

      1. jefemt

        This was shared to me by a pal in BC Canada. WARNING Very graphic very profanity-strewn, astounding violence I Thought it was a spoof tik tok


        I have not seen any coverage in the US MSM (big surprise!) After searching the web, found these articles.
        Feb 06, 2021 · The Pennsylvania man caught on video ruthlessly gunning down two neighbors during a snow-shoveling dispute Monday before turning the gun on himself was an engineer and a …

        Who is the man who shot, killed neighbors over shoveling …
        2 days ago · The shooter in an apparent murder-suicide that stemmed from an argument over shoveling snow in Pennsylvania last week was at one point a member of the U.S. Navy, according to an obituary …

        3 Pennsylvania neighbors dead after fight over snow …
        Feb 03, 2021 · A fight that erupted over snow shoveling allegedly led to a Pennsylvania man shooting two of his neighbors to death, authorities said. The fatal gun …

        One would think this would be shocking, lead-story material everywhere.

        I am particularly struck by this as our state just presented a bill that took two weeks to get to our new Governor’s desk allowing concealed carry on all college campuses.

        We really are over the edge of failed state criteria

          1. hunkerdown

            None of those links is valid because they were merely cut and pasted in an abbreviated form and our poster failed to do quality control by testing them in the preview, tsk tsk. I presume these are the links:


        1. Lemmy Caution

          It’s a brutal and terrifying video that delivers a powerful reminder to de-escalate and walk away from stupid, ego-driven arguments. You never know what the other person is capable of.

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      yes, it is a right wing site.

      But it was a TDS addled, “LEFT” winger who actually compared the good neighbor who plowed her “pandemic getaway’s” driveway to “Hezbollah,” Nazis, and called doing something for someone you don’t know for free “weird.”

      That there is someone willing to put their name on this demented “opinion” is a mind-blower. Read it and weep:

      1. Pelham

        Can’t recall where I read it, but years ago a couple of sociologists visited some far-right militia (I believe in the Northwest) to try to get a grip on what these people were like. And what the sociologists found — and truthfully reported, to their credit — was that the men were cheerful, decent and unfailingly helpful guys.

        I grew up around people who were about as far right as it’s possible to be without toppling off some ideological edge (though none were in militias), so it wasn’t very surprising to me. Most were kind and generous to a fault until some political issue surfaced and the fangs came out.

        Nonetheless, I can understand why some highly insulated person like Heffernan would be in a quandary over how to respond to such an act of kindness. Number 1 on the list of liberal/neoliberal imperatives is dehumanization of the 74 million who voted for Trump. At this stage and without that, they risk everything else they believe turning to ashes.

      2. FluffytheObeseCat

        The Yahoo article was poorly written, by someone who did not appear to have much depth of understanding. However, the thesis, that receiving unasked for help from “wonderful, giving, all-American” types is not wholly fabulous, is a sound one. I was mildly shocked that her neighbor didn’t ask if she needed or wanted her drive plowed before just choosing to waltz onto her property and do it. I sure would never have known this ‘great gift’ had been giving without the courtesy of a simple ask after reading katniss’ rage-soaked description of the event.

        Giving people charity they haven’t asked for, without even informing them about your decision to do it, is not particularly admirable. It’s condescending. And I’ve run into wayyyyyy too many ultrarightists over the years who feel they have the right to condescend in this manner, and who get quite bent if they aren’t praised for their “Christian” one sided largess.

        Case in point: I live in an area that is not dominated by LDS families, but is one in which they are a significant component of the middle to upper middle class. They are very gracious as a rule in giving to others. And then, they take over. And let you know that your comparatively meager contributions to whatever charitable endeavor they’re running are not really needed. I’ve been dissed in this smooth, ugly way both when bringing dinner over to a friend who’d had a fire in her garage, as well as in formal charity endeavors, specifically a winter tent city for homeless that my Unitarian church had been instrumental in getting started the prior year.

        I encountered similarly high handed charity action after Katrina when I lived in the exurbs of New Orleans, except then and there the smiling, covertly haughty charity-controllers were either Catholic, Baptist, or big box, nondenominational types.

        If you want to shovel someone’s drive for them, maybe because they’re older or weaker and could use the help, that’s great. Just doing it without letting them know beforehand is something else altogether. And yes, it’s a particularly distinctive, condescending habit among many of the self-admiring right wingers I’ve met over the decades. Complaining that some writer on Yahoo failed to properly express why she wasn’t humbled with gratitude over a gift that she neither asked for, nor was informed of……. makes me wonder if you like the humbling part of the whole thing much more than anything else about it.

        Hezbollah uses charity as a way of controlling others around them. Their showy charity is both needed by those who accept it, and unavoidably shaming to them. They are not unique in using charitable action in this controlling manner.

    3. lyman alpha blob

      Great article. We have a small driveway which doesn’t warrant the expense of a snowblower or plow service, so we shovel it which generally isn’t a problem in a normal snowstorm – I can clear the whole thing in half an hour without much effort.

      The bigger storms can be a pain though when the town plows come by and dump a few tons of snow from the street into the mouth of your driveway, and even more of a pain when you’ve just finished shoveling when it happens. My wife was out there struggling with the town-produced berm one day when a plow guy spotted her and decided to plow out the driveway mouth. It took him about 2 minutes and saved us an hour of shoveling and a couple potential heart attacks.

      Somehow when I tried the same tactic, nobody stopped at all! I had to wave a $20 bill around to get somebody to stop and plow out the mouth ;) It’s coming down again today and if I can’t convince my immediate family that they need the exercise more than me, I’m going out shoveling in a long blond wig.

    4. Procopius

      I find it odd. They call themselves conservative, but many (most?) of the things I see there are what I would call center or slightly left of center. Aside from that, the excerpts he quotes seem to me to be quite clearly parody of the stereotype of a Coastal Liberal Karen. He seems to take them as being serious.

      1. ObjectiveFunction

        Well that’s also why there are quite a few of us ‘Conservatives’ milling about here on NC trying to interact civilly with the ‘Old Leftist’ majority. We have far more in common in terms of what we’ve lost and where we should go than we do with either Dem or GOP hydra heads of the PMC griftocracy. (Even those among us young and fortunate enough to pass for them)

        Most people on here seem to agree broadly that:

        1. we don’t need to be Amish, but one’s household (however one defines that) should be in part a unit of production, not just consumption;

        2. producing for one’s own needs, and sharing with others, enriches health, wealth (stability) and happiness far more than competitive getting and spending;

        3. the primary source for whatever we don’t produce at home should be ‘local’, while the last choice should be sweatshop junk from the other end of our gasping planet;

        4. we waste far too much, and don’t need many of the things we think we do. But we also want a voice in those choices, and not to have austerity foisted on us, either by Markets or The State (whose PMC functionaries in either case have no intention of living by the rules they set for us).

        Anyway, regardless of your views on property and the Rights of Man, these are small-c conservative and small-c communist values. And they will be the values we will end up living with during (pick all dystopias that apply): the Jackpot, Great Depression 3.0, Power to the Soviets, The End Times, Boogaloo, Chinese Red Dawn, _______…..

  6. The Rev Kev

    “Joe Biden’s Super Bowl Moment of Silence Garners Boos From Crowd, Surprising Social Media”

    ‘And the NFL showed their appreciation by inviting 7,500 healthcare workers to the Super Bowl.’

    So if I have this right, just about the same time that people come down sick with the Coronavirus from this superspreader event, that perhaps many of those same healthcare workers will also be coming down sick? That’s good thinking that. Almost as good as Florida’s Spring Break superspreader event last year.

    1. Pat

      If I heard correctly, those healthcare workers were all vaccinated. They will merely go home and infect anyone they meet who hasn’t been vaccinated, that is if the vaccine works.

      Also worrisome are all the wealthy idiots who flew in. And the jerks who were partying. And…

      The US Figure Skating Championship took place inside a rink filled with paper cutouts, strict enforcement of hotel to rink lockdown, strict use of masks, only one coach from the coaching team at the event, and limited media. The contrast was striking.

  7. Phillip Cross

    “Can older and female recruits salvage the image of US police?”

    In the U.K there are plenty of small minded, aggressive and overly officious W.P.C.s. In my experience, they are usually much worse than the men.

    The problem with Police recruits is not what sex they are, it is that they have a strong urge to boss people around, but are too thick, and lacking in social skills, to get a proper job and climb the ladder, and too cowardly to join the Army and rise up the ranks.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Yes, this is a classic example of using optics instead of real change.

      I once had the dubious pleasure of watching in an English court as a WPC, who I’d had a pleasant conversation with earlier, lie on oath to get convictions against environmental protestors. You know it happens, but there is something shocking and visceral when you actually witness it in person.

      Its anecdotal, but I have to say that my encounters with the police in England (London and Birmingham) were almost always horrible, even when (in two cases) I was the victim of a crime, and in one case a witness.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Why would PK want to get rid of his Internet Research Agency t-shirt? That is some level 10 trolling right then and there.

      1. Terry Flynn

        I think your experience may be generalisable, though I’d like to give a counter example (Nottm) that illustrate how massive reform can and has led to amazing improvement. I was the “responsible adult” asked by police to represent an alcoholic relative who claimed he had committed murder. The Chief Constable took this seriously enough to mobilise most of the local force – on a Saturday night at midnight.

        Whilst waiting for relative to sober up in a cell I chatted to a female Detective Constable going for promotion to Sergeant. She’d had back injury from a suspect which hadn’t settled. As someone with slipped disc I sympathised and we chatted a lot about her job. I wouldn’t have changed places for anything. Her male boss (DS) was equally nice. My dad had previously had an equally sympathetic engagement with local police – better than local social services – for this relative. Twas all sorted in the end. Personally if I were them I’d have charged this relative with wasting police time but they didn’t.

        I believe I only had good experience because Nottm police were essentially disbanded and rebuilt from the ground up following exposure of deep integration with local mafia family. Many police were jailed and the court cases had to be run in London and Birmingham to stop witness intimidation. It took wholesale reform to put Nottm right but ironically I think they’re now a good police force. This is all detailed in the media – the Gunn family (ironic I know)……

        1. PlutoniumKun

          Thats good to hear – the Notts police were notorious back in the day, but I haven’t been following things.

          It does show though that even the worst police forces can be reformed. Similar to the RUC/PSNI in northern Ireland, they are not perfect, but they are genuinely vastly better than they were.

          1. Eustache de Saint Pierre

            Fortunately I have no experience of RUC & B specials & my occasional contacts with PSNI have been fair enough, although I have heard from others that particularly in the older fellas, there can be old grudges that sometimes get an airing.

            It took me quite a while to get used to seeing them bearing what I think are automatic rifles, especially one night when they turned up at our house by mistake. I also got a bit of a shock one day in the Republic, when I suddenly realised that I had walked into a bunch of Garda also armed to the teeth outside a bank in Mullingar. A town where apparently, Joe Dolan would giveaway holidays to the lucky Guards who occasionally caught him in a car in possession of a belly full of booze.

            When living in Kerry, I was warned a few times to be careful around Listowel Garda, which not being a career criminal was easy enough, but on the odd occasion we went into the town at night, they were all over the place, which from my experience was unusual in the West.

            1. PlutoniumKun

              The Gardai are generally unarmed, but the armed units are becoming a bit of a visible pest, they are called in too often I think and it seems to attract the type of Guard who has watched too many Bad Boys movies. They are mostly used for following/harrassing known gangland figures. They may be clamped down on as they recently shot a mentally disturbed African immigrant in distinctly murky circumstances.

              The Gardai used to be pretty good, with just the occasional lapse. They were regularly moved around the country to stop any stations going bad, and the constant threat of being posted on the border, spending your days tramping through Monaghan bogs looking for gun caches, was a very good way to keep them disciplined.

              Unfortunately, things slipped a lot, and (I think disastrously), they stopped moving Gardai around, resulting in some mid level officers creating local fiefdoms. Many trace this back to the scandals of the mid 1980’s when the then Commissioner, a disciplinarian known for an obsession with playing things by the book was moved out in favour of politically connected operators with a penchant for quoting management gurus. Things got progressively worse until the government finally acted a few years ago to clear out the upper ranks and brought in an outsider (ironically, an ex PSNI officer) to clean things up. From what I’ve heard, he has done a generally good job in cleaning out some of the worst offenders and bringing the organization up to date.

              But its an open secret that the intelligence officers within the Gardai consider him to be ‘connected’ with MI5 (as in, they’ve been leaking this to the media), so don’t always trust him with information. And of course Brexit has used up a lot of bandwidth and resources as there was a fear of major trouble on the border.

              1. Eustache de Saint Pierre

                Thanks for that – I was surprised by the Listowel thing as in comparison to Westport which was always much busier every time I visited, it looked very much like overkill.

                Incidentally this was all happening at a time when there was a paedophile scandal in the local RC establishment which got very vicious & a certain Dail Speaker whose name I forget was punched in the face by a farmer at Listowel races -2008/9, while of course there was the Healy-Rae’s who some informed me were the local Mafia.

                1. PlutoniumKun

                  I honestly don’t know what would have been going on in Listowel, its a pretty peaceable place. John B’s pub is a great place for a quiet pint and just listen to the chat. It may have been connected with the annual races.

                  The Healy Raes are not really local mafia, just cute hoors. They always get a suspiciously large chunk of Council contracts, but I’ve not heard of any more serious allegations. They are a bit of an embarrassment though to most Kerry people, they are popular with the mountainy types who complain about being ruled by the cosmopolitan hipsters of Tralee.

                  I just read that they’ve appointed a former Toronto deputy policy chief to a senior role. That, I can say with certainty, will go down like the proverbial lead balloon among the rank and file. Its probably necessary though to clean things up a bit, assuming it isn’t all just for show.

                  1. Eustache de Saint Pierre

                    Totally agree on John B’s – we lived in Lyereacrompane near the actual location that inspired ” The Field “. Hard rocky land which I cleared about 3 quarter of an acre of for a donkey sanctuary that never was thanks to the ripples from US Sub-prime, AIG, Lehmann’s & all of that.

                    1. PlutoniumKun

                      Oh really? Its hard land up there, you can feel the loneliness. I’ve tramped those fields a number of time (in a previous work life I was doing surveys up there for wind farms). I stayed in the Listowel Arms, I’ve a thing for those old style country hotels. There are few things nicer than sitting by a roaring fire after a day up the cold hills, listening to the local retired gentry discuss the price of land these days.

                      A few years back an Austrian friend of mine wrote her Masters thesis on John B, so I spent a lot of time explaining to her the intricacies of Kerry rural life (or as much as I understand it). Its difficult to explain to someone the depth of loneliness those farmers experience unless you spend time with just the sound of curlews and the howling wind.

    2. km

      When my fleabitten wife lived in England, her purse was snatched by a young man. She chased him down the street and tackled him to the ground until the Metropolitan Police arrived.

      The arresting officer gave my wife a stern finger-wagging lecture about the dangers and unlawfulness of taking matters into her own hands, and also asked if she was looking for a job and might she consider law enforcement.

  8. LadyXoc

    50 Billion Transport Bill: to shore up payroll? Why can’t they collect unemployment like the rest of us schlubs? What am I missing? And what other “ accounting devices” are being used to artificially depress the unemployment numbers?

    1. a different chris

      Unemployment tops out at a few thou a month and you certainly can’t expect our betters to accept that, can you? Those Haavaarrd MBAs didn’t come cheap.

    2. STEPHEN

      The entire PPP program was cover to artificially suppress unemployment numbers. Of course it failed because the already rich hired bankers and lawyers to grift it all away.

    3. John Anthony La Pietra

      I’m surprised that there’s no mention here of funding for road maintenance — now, in this bleak midwinter, this peak pothole season….

  9. Phillip Cross

    Unless they are cooking the books, Florida has gotten off extremely lightly considering how lax they have been about Covid restrictions. Maybe they are on to something?

    1. PlutoniumKun

      A lot I think comes down to climate. Hot and humid countries have generally gotten off quite lightly compared to regions that are colder and/or drier.

      Its also arguable that all the retirement communities have the advantage of separating the generations, so there is less transmission from schoolchild to grandparent.

  10. cocomaan

    The Boogaloo Bois Have Guns, Criminal Records and Military Training. Now They Want to Overthrow the Government. ProPublica. I only skimmed this piece, but I don’t see the key factoid, which is how many of them there are. The FBI keeps tabs on these groups (and if anything has an incentive to exaggerate their numbers because funding). They said the Proud Boys had 600 members, meaning their media presence was way out of proportion to their actual ability to do anything. Hence I am suspicious of the same re the new militia threat du jour.

    Hard numbers on this are difficult to come by. And they are usually exaggerated.

    I was reading a great book on COINTELPRO last night, The Age of Surveillance: The Aims and Methods of America’s Political Intelligence System by Frank Donner. Old classic recommended to me by a Nation of Islam researcher I was talking to.

    In it, Donner talks about the FBI’s relentless pursuit of the Black Panthers that included paid informants doing assassination, an incredible array of dirty tricks, sexual exploitation, and so on.

    Donner points out that the Black Panthers, at their height, had several thousand members, maybe 6,000, spread across the country. Not only was the number small, but many of the most vocal members were socially isolated, preaching doom and revolution to just themselves 80% of the time. Pamphlets and papers had low circulation.

    The FBI went to incredible lengths, violating the constitution left and right, in order to shut down a militia that was tiny and non-influential in the scheme of things. Their reasoning? If the black community ended up with a messianic figure, all hell would break loose. Decades later we look at this event as an embarrassing affair. How are we going to look at current events in a few decades?

  11. The Rev Kev

    “Senate looks to avoid dragged-out Trump impeachment battle”

    This might be wise. Supposing, just supposing, that the Republicans call Chuck Schumer as a witness during proceedings. I can see it now..

    Republican Senator: ‘Mr. Schumer – you have railed against the protest at Capital Hill. Is it not true that you led a similar protest in front of the Supreme Court last March?’

    Chuck Schumer: ‘Ummmm….’

    Republican Senator: ‘And is it not true that you threatened two Supreme Court Justices saying “You have unleashed a whirlwind, and you will pay the price?” And then said “You won’t know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions.” ‘

    Chuck Schumer: ‘Ummmm….’

    Republican Senator: ‘And did not those protesters go on to bang and slam the door to threaten the Supreme Court Justices inside? But that this time nobody opened the doors to them and stood aside? And that the Supreme Court building is hallowed ground as part of our sacred institutions?’

    Chuck Schumer: ‘Uhhhhhhhh….’

    Republican Senator: ‘Well, do you have anything to say?’

    Chuck Schumer: ‘I move that we end these proceedings and get back to work on the relief bills to help out our fellow Americans. Any nays?’

    1. a different chris

      >Is it not true that you led a similar protest in front of the Supreme Court last March?’

      Nobody died. Nobody entered the building. Nobody tried to replace the SC justices.* So, not similar at all, sorry.

      *I admittedly wish they could..

          1. lyman alpha blob

            I’d forgotten about his incident and I think the impeachment of Trump is ridiculous for any number of reasons. If the goal is to make sure he can’t run again, then using 14th amendment grounds seems the way to go rather than the dog and pony show the Democrat party will be putting on.

            That being said, if we can get Trump and Schumer in a twofer, impeachment might be worth it after all. Unity!

    2. marym

      If I were trying to hold Trump accountable for the event at the Capitol I’d start much earlier than his speech that day – from the claims of fraud about the election he won in 2016 on through all he did to undermine the election, rile up his followers, and encourage protests in 2020.

      However if we’re just comparing Trump’s and Schumer’s speeches, we should also note the responses from McConnell, Roberts, and Trump.

      McConnell said that if any American had heard the words spoken by Schumer shouted at them from a sidewalk outside their office, “they would hear those threats as personal and most likely they would hear them as threatening, or inciting violence.”

      “For Justice Roberts to follow the right wing’s deliberate misinterpretation of what Sen. Schumer said, while remaining silent when President Trump attacked Justices Sotomayor and Ginsburg last week, shows Justice Roberts does not just call balls and strikes,” said Schumer spokesman Justin Goodman, referring to Trump’s criticism of the two liberal justices and his call for them not to participate in any rulings involving him.

      Trump also slammed Schumer saying his comments were a “direct and dangerous” threat to Supreme Court justices.

      Protesters did get arrested at the SC and inside the Capitol (where they were apparently sufficiently unthreatening that Senate staffers were taking pictures of them).

    3. ObjectiveFunction

      The comparison is to the (alleged) incitement, which is what Trump is being tried for, and that comparison seems to me to be perfectly legitimate.

      Unless you can find the part where Bad Orange Man instructed the mob to break in and burn the mofo to the ground.

  12. Jim Hannan

    There hasn’t been much discussion on this site about the proposal to raise the minimum wage. I found this site from the Economic Policy Institute quite helpful, it has an interactive map that tracks the minimum wage in every state.

    Here in Arizona, the minimum wage increased from $12 to $12.15 on January 1st. Arizona is a conservative state controlled by a Koch Brothers influenced Governor Doug Ducey and a reactionary legislature, but the state constitution allows citizen led initiatives, and a few years back we voted to increase the state minimum wage and to keep raising it as the CPI increases.

  13. Halcyon

    Brexit worse than feared, says JD Sports boss

    Peter Cowgill, chairman of JD Sports, said the red tape and delays in shipping goods to mainland Europe meant “double-digit millions” in extra costs.

    He told the BBC the company might open a distribution centre overseas to help mitigate the problems, and that would mean job losses in the UK.

    He said: “I actually think it was not properly thought out. All the spin that was put on it about being free trade and free movement has not been the reality.

    “The new system and red tape just slows down efficiency. The freedom of movement and obstacles are quite difficult at the moment. I don’t see that regulatory paperwork easing much in the short term,” Mr Cowgill said.”


    I read this in awe. This is a multi-million pound company that imports from all over the world, and the CEO has been in position since 2014. Yet, from the way he talks, it seems as if he had no inkling of a clue as to what the implications of Brexit would actually be for his business. The way that so many people who *should* have a vague understanding of this – or, at least, who should be in a position where they can employ people to explain it to them – seem utterly shocked that trading is more difficult or that the hated “red tape” has MULTIPLIED by leaving the trading bloc is absurd. It’s as if the basic trade-off between agreeing to a common set of rules in exchange for reduced friction in trading has simply not registered and they actually believed the government’s cakeist propaganda. Unreal.

    1. Basil Pesto

      In the same way the working class might have once trusted Labour only to be betrayed in the New Labour era – and taken a while to realise the full extent of that betrayal – perhaps the business class of the UK have been similarly betrayed by the Conservatives, and are just now beginning to come to terms with that (albeit betrayed almost by accident and as a result of incompetence, rather than an ideological shift). They never would have expected it, that’s for sure, which might explain the surprise of some of the members of that class.

      1. The Rev Kev

        That’s not a bad line of thought that. Not bad at all. It certainly would explain a lot of what we are seeing such as the lack of preparedness for Brexit.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      Nationalism is a helluva drug. I think Brexit types really believed people would want British made goods and would be welcomed with open arms, ignoring the development of the Euro was a 50 year process.

    3. PlutoniumKun

      I’ve heard and read repeatedly from Irish and European sources that UK companies they work with have been hopelessly unprepared. Certain, the Irish, Dutch and French governments (I don’t know about the others), had been working intensively with businesses for the past 3 years or so to help them identify any potential issues. The UK seems to have spent a lot on preparations without actually achieving anything in most cases. Some companies were prepared (one online shop I use quite a lot shifted a warehouse to Ireland for its European customers, although I only realised this when returning an item), but many, large and small, seem not to be.

      I really don’t know why this is, but I think a lot comes down to a mixture of excessively slimmed down companies which lost the institutional memory of what they did before the Customs Union and Single Market came in, and found they couldn’t buy in the expertise because it just wasn’t available. And a lot simply comes down to an assumption that somehow a deal would be done whereby they wouldn’t have to actually change anything apart from fill out a few forms every year.

      But it does say a lot that a company like JD, which imports vast amounts of sports goods from Asia before distributing them all over Europe, doesn’t seem to have realised the implications. It is a core part of their entire business. Its pretty unforgivable that either they didn’t know, or had been misled by the government to think that they didn’t have to change anything.

      1. c_heale

        I think there are a lot of British companies with the same business model, especially clothing companies.
        However, there is another factor. The UK government closed the deal very late and didn’t bother preparing any of the administration that it was responsible for. For example it was widely known beforehand at least 50,000 customs agents would be needed. This is a governmental responsibility. There are only about 10,000 available now.
        Also full implementation of all the new agreement has been delayed, until the end of March and June so things will get worse rather than better. It’s also possible the EU parliament won’t ratify the agreement – I don’t know if this means it will revert to no deal.
        I have a lot of sympathy for those who are going to lose their business/jobs due to this. For people who voted for Brexit for political or xenophobic reasons, I have none.

    4. Procopius

      Halcyon — three or four years ago (seems like Brexit’s been going on forever) there was a YouTube video (I think it was linked on NC) called something like Three Blokes In A Pub. There were three guys who were knowledgeable about import/export rules, customs procedures, etc. I think one of them may have been a lorry driver who delivered goods to the Continent. They described every one of the things these guys are complaining about now. At the time I could not understand how, when these things became known, the majority would still be clamoring for Brexit instead of stopping it. I think at that time they could have; the British hadn’t yet sent their formal notice. Apparently no British businessman bothered to find out beforehand what the new rules would be. I can only sit here and shake my head in awe. I believe it’s going to get worse.

  14. zagonostra

    >Democracy Not

    I get a kick out of AP’s attempt at spinning the decline in belief among the population that the U.S. is a “democratically” ruled nation at the feet of Trump. The antecedents are so much deeper than it’s made out in this grossly massaged article. At least it does provide some useful baseline numbers.

    Note the hyperbole, “deadly violence,” “reputation as model for democracy,” truly laughable…

    Just 16% of Americans say democracy is working well or extremely well, a pessimism that spans the political spectrum. Nearly half of Americans, 45%, think democracy isn’t functioning properly, while another 38% say it’s working only somewhat well.

    The core elements of democratic government, including free and fair elections and the peaceful transfer of power, were put to a dire test by the baseless claims of election fraud advanced by former President Donald Trump. Those assertions of fraud were a root cause of the deadly violence at the U.S. Capitol last month, which damaged the country’s reputation as a model for democracy.

    1. p coyle

      “baseless claims” strikes again. if i didn’t know better, i might start to worry that our vaunted media was, say, trying to manipulate public opinion or something along those lines. but i’m just some yokel who doesn’t even have the good sense to live in a coastal metropolis, and am well aware that my thoughts on the matter are irrelevant.

  15. The Rev Kev

    “Scientists develop transparent wood that is stronger and lighter than glass”

    This is really great stuff this. Really love stories like this on practical technology developments. If they could do this for flat timber, I bet that by steaming wood that they could create other shapes & forms and then make them transparent too. I wonder if some wood works better than others? And I wonder where they got the idea from?

    1. Basil Pesto

      Yeah that was a really cool story. It could also have positive implications for the worldwide sand shortage, if it really is a viable substitute for glass (the material does seem to retain a certain amount of opacity, compared to glass).

      Tangential, but an ace book about materials science aimed at a popular audience is ‘Stuff Matters’ by Mark Miodownik. Fascinating stuff.

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      The nicest thing about transparent wood is that I could try to make some out front in my tiny yard … once the weather heats up a little. I love glass — but I could also love a substitute that’s stronger and structural. It does not replace glass for me. It might replace windows — and glass does require so much and such intense energy it quells some of my love for it for the future … but I do love glass.

    3. drumlin woodchuckles

      From the pictures I saw in the article, the images seen through the transparent wood were a little fuzzy and unfocused. If so, and if it remains so, I would prefer glass for windows I actually want to see out of. But for bulk quantity in-letting of light for other than “seeing what is outside” purposes, transparent wood windows could be quite good. Good for greenhouses, good for skylights, etc.

    4. Procopius

      According to the article, they applied this to planks “five feet long and one millimeter thick.” I don’t think a regulat sawmill is going to be able to produce planks one millimeter thick. I have a foot ruler on my desk that also shows centimeters and millimeters. One foot is pretty close to thirty centimeters, or 300 millimeters. A millimeter is pretty close to 1/32 of an inch. I think some further development is going to be needed.

  16. ObjectiveFunction

    Re the POWERPASTE article, don’t miss the comments!

    Many are hilarious (intentionally and otherwise), but I also learned a few new things.

  17. Carolinian

    Link of the day? Trump supporters do something nice for a neighbor. Are they morally worthy to be thanked?

    Let me tell you something, Virginia: your neighbors probably have no idea who Ben Sasse is, and isn’t looking to reconcile with you, much less receive your absolution. They just wanted to do something nice for you, because you are their neighbor, and that’s what neighbors do for each other. The fact that you assume there must be some politically aware motive behind the action says a lot about you. I grew up in the rural South, and trust me, nobody stopped to ask what one’s politics were before doing something nice for them. This is not how people live outside of Blue State Cosmopolises.

    As for “absolution,” I kind of hope you do try to engage your Trumpist neighbors by descending from on high to tell them that you might be willing to wash their sins away with your pure milk of la-te-da liberal kindness. That would be fun to watch.

    Perhaps our “woke” era demonstrates that freedom from prejudice exists on a kind of seesaw and one can’t discard prejudice toward one group without aiming it in a different direction.

    1. fresno dan

      February 9, 2021 at 9:54 am
      Biden won 81,283,098 votes, or 51.3 percent of the votes cast. He is the first U.S. presidential candidate to have won more than 80 million votes. Trump won 74,222,958 votes, or 46.8 percent of the votes cast. That’s more votes than any other presidential candidate has ever won, with the exception of Biden. (Third-party candidates picked up 1.8 percent of the votes cast.)

      More than 159 million Americans voted in 2020: 159,633,396 to be exact. That’s the largest total voter turnout in U.S. history and the first time more than 140 million people voted. Voter turnout in 2020 was the highest in 120 years when measured as a percentage of the voting-eligible population: 66.7 percent. You have to go back all the way to 1900 to find a higher percentage turnout (73.7 percent). The election of 1876 holds the record for highest turnout: 82.6 percent. That, of course, was also one of America’s most controversial and consequential elections—and not in a good way.
      The fact remains that every US president has not received a majority of votes from eligible (as opposed to actual) voters. A significant number of people don’t vote and don’t care – and they are probably wiser not to waste any mental angst on the subject. And though the media would paint every Trump voter as a rabid, frothing at the mouth fanatic, I estimate that 98.5 percent* of Trump voters would not do one single thing – not even make a donation to the republican party – in reaction to the Trump defeat. I think I gave hundreds to Bernie and a few hundred** to Biden – it was the first and will be the last time I ever contributed to politics, and I was an idiot to do so. I don’t think it gives me absolution for all the porn I watch, drinking I do, or post it notes I have stolen from the office. In the scheme of things, whether someone likes or dislikes Trump has precious little to do with how good a person he/she is…just another example of how humans can convince themselves to believe screwy things.

      ** because the dems have a lock on CA, I donated to Biden but voted green.

      1. Carolinian

        Americans are not very political at all–memo to the media. Our shallow take on politics explains both Trump and MSNBC which is the Dem answer to Fox.

        People used to make fun of David Broder but one almost longs for a return to High Broderism if only to dial down the crazy.

      1. pjay

        And last week I believe it was the SF Chronicle that published the “Bernie meme as white privilege” article. It’s as if they are trying to give conservatives as much ammunition as possible to verify the image of clueless bi-coastal liberals.

        By the way, I live in upstate NY, in a middle class neighborhood that was pretty evenly divided between Trump and Biden signs. Neighbors are friendly and there has been a lot of mutual driveway shoveling this winter. Even up here, *most* people are normal.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          That article accusing Bernie and the Bernie meme of White Privilege had a different motive. Its purpose was to discredit Bernie as “White Privilegist” in order to discredit political-economic leftist concerns as ” White Privilegist”.

          That article was advancing exactly the same agenda that Hillary Clinton was advancing when she asked Sanders in the Clinton-Sanders debate ” how would breaking up the big banks do a single thing about racism?”

  18. dougie

    Covid vaccine appointment link for the Raleigh Durham NC area that worked for my wife and I.
    It popped up on Nextdoor for about 2 hours Sunday afternoon, then disappeared. An alert friend notified me.
    I was able to login to the site at 4 PM Monday afternoon, and we have appointments for the Pfizer vaccine at
    9AM tomorrow. You do not have to be a Duke Medical patient. I am told if there is not an available appointment when you log in, check every few hours, as they are continually updating. Good luck, and happy hunting!

    1. unjabbed

      So what happened to the rest of the eligible cohort already on the Duke wait list? I’ve been on it for 2+ wks and hear zip. Yet someone unregistered can pounce on a random Nextdoor announcement and jump the Q? Are you really supposed to sit on their website constantly refreshing? Why don’t they use your email/text/whatever that was provided at registration to contact? According to their Website

      “Vaccinations are by appointment only. Once you add your name to the waiting list below, we will contact you when we have availability to schedule your vaccine appointment.”

      At least Duke is supposedly taking reservations. UNC-Health is a black hole, but I bet all the useless overpaid administrators have had shots “because of their vital role”.

  19. The Rev Kev

    “In the Absence of COVID Safety Plans, Teachers Are Resigning and Retiring Early”

    And this is how it can play out in practice-

    District Principals: ‘We demand that you put your own lives at risk to teach in the middle of a pandemic!’

    Teachers: ‘That’s us that you see walking out the door.’

    1. Wukchumni

      Did trash pick-up the other day on Hwy 198 with my buddy the newly retired 7th grade science teacher who said adios in the summer after having threatened to do so for many years before Covid, but with no follow through as he genuinely enjoyed teaching.

      CalSTERS (hopefully it isn’t nearly as bad as CalPERS) is giving him $4500 a month retirement for his 30 years on the job (he doesn’t get SS) and now pays him to pick up road-side trash and go hiking.

      It wasn’t really a hard decision deciding to call it quits, on his part.

      Hello, Mr. Chips!

      1. Polar Donkey

        Desoto County Schools in Mississippi have over 500 kids in quarantine. About 60 are covid positive and other kids are contact tracing. My kids are in elementary school in Desoto County. The teachers try their best but there are no resources to try to mitigate covid transmission. Thanks to Naked Capitalism, I built 2 box fan air filters and took to my kids’ classrooms.

  20. DJG, Reality Czar

    Virus likes restaurants, Pro Public article by the esteemed Caroline Chen, whose coverage of the pandemic has been thorough, reasoned, and wide-ranging. I ran across the article a couple of days ago–I recommend it highly.

    Restaurants: This brings up another question, which is whether the U.S. model for restaurants simply has come to an end, which is why we are seeing a crash. A collaborator was telling me about a place here in Chicago, a kind of piano bar with food, that just reopened as Chicago (foolishly) returned to Tier 1 (We Like Superspreaders Tier). The owner of the place was eager to open, intends never to close again, and is defiant. And there will be singing!

    This is typical behavior of U.S. restaurateurs: The government, especially the health department, is always wrong. Further, they don’t care so much about paying wages–the waitstaff is often on subminimum wage and tips. The restaurants don’t offer benefits, except for maybe dinner. When someone quits–and it’s a constant round of quitting the job at U.S. restaurants–good luck at collecting any back wages.

    I note that in my neighborhood, the borderline restaurants were desperate to resume indoor dining. Lousy food, table turns, bad ventilation, quick bucks. The better places, which are the source of the neighborhood’s reputation, are holding back.

    A friend of mine, who lives in the adjacent neighborhood, with a similar reputation for restaurants, maintains that there are too many restaurants. She thought that it is time to cull the herd, that COVID would do it. It seemed like a merciless proposal at the time. Maybe it isn’t.

    1. Lee

      Hence, After years of struggle, New York’s street food vendors win long-sought reforms.

      “On Thursday, New York City Council voted 34 to 13 for a bill to lift a limit on full-time vending permits for the first time in nearly four decades. The bill, Intro 1116-B, authorizes the city to issue 4,000 new permits over the next decade, beginning in 2022. It’s a move that will help more of the city’s estimated 10,000 street food vendors go legal, and escape a vicious underground economy that can trap them in debt. The bill now goes to the desk of Mayor Bill De Blasio, who has indicated he will sign it into law.”

    2. Anthony G Stegman

      I agree with your friend. When I was young going out to eat at a restaurant was a big deal and reserved for special occasions. Somewhere between then and now it has become commonplace to the point that increasing numbers of people eat the majority of their meals out. Rather than trying to save tens of thousands of restaurants society ought to be encouraging people to develop cooking skills and prepare their meals at home.

      1. Procopius

        I have read, and believe, the reason for so much “eating out” is that between overtime (or two jobs) and long commutes, many people simply don’t have time to prepare meals any more. It’s not that they’re enjoying “fine dining;” most of them are eating at fast food joints, not even greasy spoons.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Notice too that the sizes of kitchens in apartments seemed to have been decreased. I saw one photo in an airport years ago of a so-called trendy kitchen and it was basically a small bench, a bar fridge, a microwave and a single sink. I suppose that this ‘minimalist’ approach would encourage people to eat out or two just whack a feed in a microwave but otherwise it looked a miserable setup.

  21. Maxwell Johnston

    “Nearly three times as many Russians have died of Covid than previously thought”

    The only accurate way to measure the number of deaths from Covid (whether directly from Covid or indirectly via not receiving treatment for other conditions) is to examine year-on-year total deaths and determine the number of excess deaths compared to previous years, so we’ll have to wait a few years to finalize judgment on how different countries coped. The author did not compare ”excess deaths in Russia” with excess deaths in other countries, so he provides us with no yardstick to see how Russia’s doing. My general sense is that Russia has handled Covid reasonably well; not as competently as the East Asian societies, but certainly no worse than most “Western” states. As for Russia’s demographics, I’ve been reading about Russia’s impending demographic collapse for 20+ years and am still waiting. I think this recent assessment is much more accurate and sober than what this Forbes guy is writing (and again, he doesn’t compare Russian demographics with those of other countries, so without context it’s hard to judge):

  22. Lee

    Facebook Says It Plans To Remove Posts With False Vaccine Claims New York Times

    I would never, ever take the likes of Zuckerberg, Sandberg, et al at their word on just about anything, except that they are willing to lean in hard and do anything they could get away with to increase their bottom line.

    Perusing the list of proscribed topics, one finds the lab-leak hypothesis, sometimes labeled by the MSM as a theory, and by NPR as a “conspiracy theory”, although it is neither. It is, until definitively proven or unproven, a plausible possibility—a testable hypothesis.

    The WHO, an organization that does on occasion, as with all human projects, science-based and otherwise, make mistakes, has labeled the lab leak hypothesis “extremely implausible” and is therefore suspending further investigation in that direction. Given that the Wuhan Institute of Virology is under Chinese jurisdiction and that this is the same government that denies maltreatment of the Uighurs and other minorities, in addition to other official lies (in this regard it is not unique), color me a bit suspicious that the WHO is perhaps bending to the will of a powerful, global political actor.

    The reason that the lab leak hypothesis is an important avenue of investigation is not necessarily to point and fire the blame cannons, but more importantly, to drill down further into questions of ethics, safety, and technical competencies as regards experiments involving dangerous pathogens. See for example: Biotechnology risk at Wikepedia.

  23. pjay

    Re: ‘Demagogues vs. Dictators’ by Michael Lind, Project Syndicate (UserFriendly)

    This is a very useful discussion that summarizes the weakness of the “Trump as fascist” hysteria. Lot’s of good quotes, but here’s one that stood out to me:

    “Populist demagogues in democratic countries generally do not intend to create police states, and they could not even if they tried. Whereas interwar fascist dictators were backed by their countries’ military, police, bureaucratic, and business establishments, populists rely on the support of alienated non-elite groups and are typically opposed by most of the other power centers in society.”

    This is nicely complementary to the essay by Rob Urie that was noted a few days ago. Lot’s of good quotes there, too, but this one fits well here:

    “The ‘Business Plot,’ the only widely reported effort to affect a fascist coup in the U.S., was conceived and executed by Wall Street titans and business executives, not by pet groomers from Des Moines. The plot fell apart when the plotters tried to enlist General Smedley Butler. Luckily, General Butler was enthusiastically unsympathetic to the fascist cause. The Plot was a struggle for power between competing ruling class interests. That the U.S. allied with the former Nazi leadership after WWII, rather than the communists, provides an indication of where official sympathies lie.”

    As bad as Trump was, and as dangerous as a few of his supporters might be, when I think of the “F-word,” I’m much more likely to look at some of his enemies. Lind and Urie help explain why.

  24. Wukchumni

    I bagged on RV’s in our National Parks the other day, not a fan of the concept of bringing everything with you.

    When I was a kid our family would rent cabins in the Giant Forest in Sequoia NP for around $25-50 per night depending on how big it was, and it was great fun doing so (they pulled out every last one of them 25 years ago) and they had separate communal bathrooms & showers, a shared experience.

    Here’s what they’re doing in Canada, and I like the idea of not so much glamping, but roughing it a little bit under a roof.

    Parks Canada was experimenting with roofed accommodations to reverse a worrying decline in overnight stays and test-driving creative options that would soon become staple products across the country.

    Jump ahead to 2021 and Canada’s network of parks and national historic sites boast more than 400 oTENTIks, a handful of MicrOcubes and 34 teardrop-shaped Ôasis pods — all deliberately given unusual names to provoke buzz and instantly brand them to Parks Canada.

    “We see these as an alternative form of camping,” says François Duclos, manager of visitor experience infrastructure. “Some people call it glamping, but this is a term we haven’t really latched on to because we’re not in the luxury business, we’re in the comfort business.”

    Duclos is based in Quebec with a team of about 12 people in charge of “everything built,” like campgrounds, accommodations, trails, outhouses, washrooms and electric vehicle charging stations. He calls his department “very much a R&D (research and development) shop for tourism infrastructure.” They identify things that visitors need, brainstorm and then work with parks and historic sites to implement the solutions.

    1. Carolinian

      When I was a kid our family had a nightmare cotton “umbrella tent” bought at the Army/Navy store. It had a wooden pole in the middle and a steel frame and seemed to weigh about a hundred pounds.

      And yet I grew up loving camping because nightmare tents can be an adventure. IMO fans of “comfort camping” are missing the point. You are there to get away from civilization, not to bring it with you. Doubters need to turn to Hemingway, that poet of the Michigan upper peninsula wilderness, and the short story Big Two-Hearted River. It’s all about self reliance and making do. You can get back to the computers and dishwashers when you get home.

      1. Wukchumni

        Tents always fascinated me when I was a kid and I used one for the first five years of backpacking, and then slept on the ground on a tarp on a thermarest pad for maybe a decade before joining the great hammockracy when my longtime backpacking partner gave me one for xmas along with one for himself before the turn of the century, and it snowed on us the first night out using them, but with the tarp set up, no problemo. Guess i’ve spent 400-500 nights sleeping in it since, and so comfortable almost like sleeping in a bed once you get the hang of it. If it’s in a time of mossie infestation you might find me in a tent though, as you need a respite from their manifestations.

        In a serious downpour, tents can get wet i’ve found, but it has never been a problem in a hammock, as your behind ideally is about a foot above the ground. Luckily it almost never rains in the Sierra in the summer.

        1. Carolinian

          Are you familiar with the book Beyond Backpacking? It’s a classic guide for lightweight throughikers.

          I’m not much of a backpacker but I love that book for its “outside the box” ideas. The author was an engineer.

    2. Lee

      Some decades ago we went on an a six week camping tour of Canadian Rockies national parks, in a year that it rained pretty much all summer. The campgrounds had these large, open-air, roofed facilities equipped with big iron stoves that threw off a great amount of heat. Tables and benches were also provided as well as mountainous piles of free firewood. You had to bring your own whiskey, wit, camping tips, and tall tales. Met many great people. Good times.

      1. RMO

        Personally I’ve decided I am done with sleeping in a tent – when I’m in a campground I’ve driven into. If I’m carrying everything on my back or in a kayak or canoe then tents are fine. I’ve got decades of camping in remote places under my belt in that manner. If the campground is basically a parking lot though I’m going to go with a trailer, camper or some sort of small RV. IF I can find anything decent for the tiny amount of money I can afford for one that is. I don’t need (or really want to see) massive pads for big pusher motorhomes with slide-outs everywhere or power/water/sanitary hookups though.

        My pet camping peeve is one shared by almost no one: campfires. Can’t stand being around them. Almost all the camping I’ve done has been in areas where fires are prohibited so I’m used to not having them and whenever one is burning happily away the smoke seems to chase me wherever I go which then sets off the mild asthma I’ve had all my life.

        1. Carolinian

          I agree with you about campfires and some of my best car camping experiences have been at campgrounds that were almost empty rather than choked with smoke.

          And I’ll concede that camping in the West makes a case for hardshell camping because of the tremendous winds and lack of trees. But I doubt that those Canadian parks or most of our US National Parks would fall into the treeless category.

  25. FreeMarketApologist

    Headline: “Why Opening Restaurants Is Exactly What the Coronavirus Wants Us to Do”

    Midway through the article: “People have a bad habit of anthropomorphizing the coronavirus: ascribing human-like intentions to it, as if a microbe can discern that we finally have a vaccine and try to evade it. But viruses don’t really have any schemes; they just reproduce. ”

    Perhaps the headline writer should have read the article.

    1. Wukchumni

      We haven’t lost restaurants here because the tourist trade to Sequoia NP is really hopping, but over in Visalia with nearly 70x as many people as here, I see a number of restaurants of long standing calling it quits, or the vagaries of having a drive-thru or not when the pandemic hit.

      They say that 8 or 9 out of 10 restaurant starts are out of biz in the first 5 years back in the day before Covid, and if we have to start from scratch trying to find new blood after its safe to dine again, there’ll be a pent up demand for the old locations.

      There’s a couple Panda Express Chinese food restaurants about 10 miles apart, one with drive-thru & one without.

      It’d be interesting to compare numbers on both sites.

  26. Jason Boxman

    Speaking of dark patterns, if you go to the Scientific American link, it asks immediately about cookies. Unless you click the less obvious “Cookie Settings” text, your only choice is the very obvious “Accept All Cookies” button.

    And if you click “Cookie Settings”, you’ll see that by allowing all cookies that you’re including ad trackers and other garbage.

    Fun times.

    I always have DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials extension installed, just in case.

  27. Synoia

    Nearly 10% of Americans Have at Least One Covid-19 Shot
    The country is now averaging about 1.4 million vaccinations a day
    Nice, lets play math:

    300,000,000 In the US.
    90%, 270,000,000 are not vaccinated
    1,400,000 vaccinations per day
    Days to 100% 193 or about 9 months (or December this year).

    We need to up the Vaccination rate by an order of 2 or 3, at least, or we could hit a new wave in next winter.

    I wonder abut the world wide vaccinated and inoculation rates, immunity and period, because the Virus easily crosses borders.

    The statistics for Orange County CA, where I live, appear worse, with a 20 month period to vaccinate all OC residents. It could be that the,the OC Covid website, website is not reporting all vaccinations.

  28. Fastball

    “ Tesla’s Balance Sheet Not Volatile Enough. Needs Bitcoin, Musk Reckons Heisenberg Report (resilc)”

    Conversely, Tesla stock would benefit and get less volatile from a reduction in Elon Musk.

  29. Kouros

    On Robert Tombs – Perry Anderson: A Devastating Indictment of the EU

    Excerpt: “The article ends tellingly by quoting EU President Herman van Rumpuy (to whom Middelaar was a close advisor): ‘I believe the Union is over-democratised.’”

    A historical parallel for the US:

    On the morning of May 29, 1787, in the Pennsylvania State House in Philadelphia, Edmund Randolph, governor of Virginia, opened the meeting that would become known as the Constitutional Convention by identifying the underlying cause of various problems that the delegates of thirteen states had assembled to solve. “Our chief danger,” Randolph declared, “arises from the democratic parts of our constitutions.” None of the separate states’ constitutions, he said, had established “sufficient checks against the democracy.”

  30. buermann

    “I don’t see the key factoid, which is how many [boogaloo boys] there are”

    Didn’t we learn from the Al Qaeda years that this number is meaningless in the context of a decentralized ideological movement whose primary mode of production is cultural, inspiring the operation of independent cells and lone wolves?

  31. Laputan

    RE: Orthodoxy of the Elites

    Excellent piece. Neocons (do we still call them that since they’re not so neo anymore?) like Applebaum and the shysters in the Lincoln Project obscure their defenses of elitism with blanket references about democracy when referring to anti-democratic institutions like the DoD. It’s textbook doublespeak.

    And that she can concurrently have an employment history at the AEI and maintain that her successes are based on merit….there are few clearer indictments on the entire meritocratic system than that one.

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