Links 3/14/2021

Philadelphia calls for ‘lights out’ after skyscrapers cause hundreds of bird deaths Guardian

102-year-old woman goes viral after joining great-grandson’s virtual gym class NY Post

Review | Liars: Falsehoods and Free Speech in an Age of Deception by Cass R. Sunstein on how to live with lies SCMP

Pakistan’s beloved ‘poor man’s burger’ BBC

Eli Lilly releases detailed results on Alzheimer’s drug, as data divide researchers Stat

What Can We Learn From the Terrible Fate of Sarah Everard? Craig Murray

‘Impossible travel conditions’ as spring storm delivers historic snow and severe storms CNN

Graham Greene Against the World The New Republic. Big GG fan. I’ve read all the novels, the collected film criticism, much else besides, but somehow missed the short stories, which I’ll turn to later today, following a friend’s recommendation to read one.

The Short Story Priesthood The Baffler


A Year Into COVID, What Have We Learned? Capital & Main

Did CDC Delays in Up-To-Date Masking Advice Cost Health Workers’ Lives? Kaiser Health News

Maskless spring-breakers pack Florida beaches and parties erupt in cities across the country for St Patrick’s Day on the day a record 4.6 million Americans are vaccinated Daily Mail

‘Granny shouldn’t be out here’: Maskless spring breakers flout Florida’s South Beach COVID-19 rules Herald Media

Opinion: COVID-19 challenges German efficiency cliche Deutsche Welle

German COVID cases could revisit December peak in April Reuters

‘Covid is taking over’: Brazil plunges into deadliest chapter of its epidemic Guardian

India Expected to Review Covishield After Reports of Blood Clots After Vaccination The Wire

A State-by-State Look at Coronavirus in Prisons Marshall Project. I’ve linked to this before; latest update.

Vaccine Distribution Key Element in Gov. Newsom’s Plan to Reopen Schools Capital & Main

Should Covid-19 vaccine manufacturers’ IP rights be waived? SCMP

Europe Confronts a Covid-19 Rebound as Vaccine Hopes Recede WSJ

Norway Reports Three Blood Clot Cases After AstraZeneca Shot Bloomberg

EU member states squabble over vaccine distribution FT

The Coronavirus Killed the Gospel of Small Government NYT

Lockdown sceptic Scott Atlas: ‘The big issue exposed by Covid is civil liberties’ FT


New York Reports New Allegations of Inappropriate Behavior by Andrew Cuomo NY magazine

Cuomo biographer: ‘Predatory behavior’ has been ‘evident for years’ The Hill

Biden Administration

Biden Defers to the Blob Counterpunch

Biden keeping Ukraine at arm’s-length Politico

Trump Transition

Fundraising spat points to Trump-GOP fissure The Hill

Trump and Hillary: Forever connected by self-created failure The Hill

North Korea

North Korea ‘not responding’ to US contact efforts BBC

Capitol Seizure

6 Questions Officials Still Haven’t Answered After Weeks of Hearings on the Capitol Attack ProPublica

Prosecutors seek a slowdown in Capitol attack cases, calling probe the ‘most complex’ in history Politico

Our Famously Free Press

If The Rich Were Propagandizing Us, We’d Have Heard About It In The News Caitlin Johnstone

Class Warfare

Antitrust Is Back in America Project Syndicate

Black Lives Matter

US protesters demand justice a year after Breonna Taylor killing Al Jazeera


Germany kicks off general election year with state polls Deutsche Welle


Lava Jato Hacker Walter Delgatti speaks Brasilwire


How schoolchildren built a library network for students without access to books during the lockdown Scroll


Myanmar’s first satellite being held by Japan on space station after coup Straits Times

Myanmar protests: Civilian leader in hiding vows to continue ‘revolution’ BBC


Growing Pains London Review of Books.

UK declares China in breach of 1984 Hong Kong declaration FT

Antidote du Jour (via):

And a bonus video (Chuck L):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Miami Mitch

    After reading “Liars: Falsehoods and Free Speech in an Age of Deception by Cass R. Sunstein on how to live with lies”, I need to ask; Will you be removing your “Making Things Up” rule in the comments?

      1. tegnost

        I think he’s just setting out a marker for the new normal, yes we complained bitterly about trump lying but of course we have to lie so it would be wrong to punish us for it but rest assured that everyone lies and so at least good people are lying to you now and no one knows the truth anyway so sort of a philosophy lesson on how to deal with the cognitive dissonance and sunstein wants you to think according to the reviewer that not trusting the vaccine is not an outcome of lost trust in our rapacious health insurance system but the wrong message getting through and how you have to just put up with stuff like that because freedom.

      2. Mark Gisleson

        As recently as last August Sunstein was in Bloomberg writing about how to spot Russian subversion in the news about the upcoming election.

        Establishment journalists/pundits are the new sharks, always moving, never looking back.

      3. John Wright

        The Sunstein Bloomberg op-ed has this:

        “The best answer goes by an unlovely name: “probability neglect.” Suppose that a potential outcome grips your emotions, maybe because it is absolutely terrifying, maybe because it is amazingly wonderful. If so, there is an excellent chance that you will focus on it — and pay far less attention than you should to a crucial question, which is how likely it is to occur.”

        It would have been good for Sunstein to mention this “probability neglect” to his “humanitarian hawk” wife, Samantha Power, before she pushed Obama to do the Libya action to overthrow Gaddafi.

        Maybe a disaster could have been averted.

        1. Procopius

          I think that, as with Rumsfeld in Iraq, they were not particularly concerned with what would follow their action. The only thing that mattered was stopping Qaddafi from … something. I also do not think Samantha Power was actually an important moving force in that decision. That person fortunately lost the election in 2016, although the result was otherwise not particularly happy.

          Joe Biden on Wednesday named Samantha Power, the former US ambassador to the United Nations, as his choice to lead the US Agency for International Development (USAid), citing her deep experience addressing crises around the world.

          “addressing crises.”

          1. gc54

            Well addressing = “think about and begin to deal with (an issue or problem).”

            Then leave mess.

  2. cocomaan

    I woke up again and realized I hadn’t yet changed my clocks.

    I don’t care whether we have DST or standard time. But we need to pick one and stick with it. This evil created by the Department of Transportation screws up the sleep schedules for millions of people every year and I am tired of it.

    I blame Benjamin Franklin’s trolling of Parisians in a satirical essay:

    There is no reason for us to have a time change anymore. The POTUS that orders the DOT to end the time change, picking one standard for the entire country, will become my favorite president ever.

      1. Cocomaan

        Truly wise people down there.

        I wish other states would get out from under this nonsense

        I might need to start a movement

      2. LifelongLib

        Same in Hawaii, although here the length of daylight only varies by 2 1/2 hours over the course of the year. We do have to keep standard time/DST in mind when phoning people on the “mainland”.

  3. upstater

    A wonderful takedown of the Oprah-Meghan-Harry interview and the British royals in general:

    Harry and Meghan: The union of two great houses, the Windsors and the Celebrities, is complete
    Patrick Freyne: After Harry and Meghan, the monarchy looks archaic and racist. Well duh

    Having a monarchy next door is a little like having a neighbour who’s really into clowns and has daubed their house with clown murals, displays clown dolls in each window and has an insatiable desire to hear about and discuss clown-related news stories. More specifically, for the Irish, it’s like having a neighbour who’s really into clowns and, also, your grandfather was murdered by a clown.

    Those 2 vamps signed a $100M deal for Spotify. Who would waste their time listening to this drivel? Not much bread, but plenty of circuses for the hoi polloi.

  4. The Rev Kev

    “‘Granny shouldn’t be out here’: Maskless spring breakers flout Florida’s South Beach COVID-19 rules”

    I don’t know if anyone else notices it but this article could almost have been written one year ago. The elements are all there – masks under chins, the hot climate will stop the virus, grannies should stay away, Gov. Ron DeSantis being a total d***, the crowds. It is almost uncanny this article. The only difference is that a lot of those kids have probably already been infected last year and so no longer care about any risks. And though I know that it is risky behaviour on several levels here for both themselves and others, it is hard not to be sympathetic to them wanting to live their lives while they are still young.

    1. Lambert Strether

      As is the photographic shaming of hot young bodies outdoor behavior. It’s not the beach that’s the problem. It’s the restaurants and bars (closed, close contact, crowded). At least in this respect we have learned nothing.

  5. km

    It ain’t just conservatives.

    Sooner or later, the yuppies and various sexual and racial minorities that make up the liberal coalition will discover that not only do they not have all that much in common other than enemies- they also don’t like each other all that much.

    1. The Historian

      When any group becomes too big or too powerful, there will be a concerted effort to ‘divide and conquer’, and it doesn’t matter politically where the group stands. Those who control the government aren’t going to allow any challenges to their authority – from either side of the political divide.

        1. Old Sarum


          Looking from outside, the fissiparous nature of the USA, where the most banal commonalities are subject to litigation, leads me to question what unites this nation “in a state”.

          I currently look to the military in all its forms for the first signs of disintegration, as it is seems to be the only institution (aside from language) I am aware of, that truly that unites the entity. How far can the states’ divergence go before it ceases to be a single entity? In short, what would the pivot point be?

          Pointers please!

          Pip Pip!

      1. km

        Rather, it is something different. It is a recognition that coalitions can only stay together for so long.

        Sooner or later, they can’t agree how to respond to a threat or can’t reach consensus on how to share the spoils.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      Does something more pragmatically better and more practical and more attainable lie beyond the completion of the break-apart process?

      It could if enough people understand and apply and declare some basic principles starting now.

      All men are strangers.
      I’m not your brother.
      I am not Woke.
      I am not an Ally.

      Get all that straight and we can do business.

      What kind of business? Strictly reciprocal transactional co-operation. Coalitions of shared interest.
      One back scratches the other.
      And no more stupid crap about sentimental nonsense like the “beloved society”.

  6. Andrew Watts

    RE: Growing Pains

    “Hillman portrays China’s expansion in Piraeus as the Asian hordes at the gates of Europe, but doesn’t tell us that the European troika’s forcible privatisation of Greek state enterprises in the wake of the financial crisis offered the port on a platter to China’s Cosco Shipping.”

    Which is a good example of how you can’t have an explicitly anti-Chinese foreign policy abroad without Yellow Peril politics at home. This being in spite of whatever anti-racism measures white liberals will attempt to use to mollify people of Asian descent.

  7. km

    FYI the BBC Pakistani poor man’s burger link goes to a photo of said poor man’s burger and not the article.

    1. Brooklin Bridge

      Ah, ok, I thought it was a 1000 word article and a pretty compelling one at that, in a sort of, Ça me mettre de l’eau à la bouche, sort of way.

      1. LaFrancaise

        If you want to break out the French, it’s “Ça me met de l’eau à la bouche” in your grammatical context :)

        For the non-French speaking, this is basically translated as “mouth watering”.

        1. Synoia

          I speak French so badly that the French suddenly decide it is better to speak to me in English, and not have their language massacred.

  8. Robert Hahl

    “The Short Story Priesthood,” which is about George Saunders’ how-to book on writing that doesn’t say how-to very much, actually does contain a nugget of wisdom for writers:

    “Bored on a conference call, he began scribbling “dark little Seussian poems,” each accompanied by a doodled cartoon. When he brought them home that evening, his wife read them and let out a peal of laughter—’the first time in years that anyone had reacted to my writing with pleasure.’ ”

    Good music teachers say the same. Getting the pleasure synapses to light up in an audience is what it’s all about.

    As for true examples of how to write, one might read Doris Lessing’s “Martha Quest” novels, and then her two-volume autobiography, to see how she turned her own life into Martha’s.

  9. The Rev Kev

    “What Can We Learn From the Terrible Fate of Sarah Everard? 307”

    The phrase “All men are potential rapists” is an interesting construct. So is the phrase “All women are potential murderers.” One is as true as the other and both requires that you prove a negative. Of course you could push a few people’s buttons by saying what if a proven rapist identifies as a women. What then? And as Craig Murray says (after being modified)-

    ‘I think the difficulty lies in an ambiguity of language. The phrase “All women are potential murderers”, or Duffy’s expression “it is what any woman might do”, can be taken to mean:

    “You cannot tell, by appearance, which woman is a murderer” – which is evidently true


    “Every woman is liable to murder” – which I would argue strongly is not true. The large majority of women would never murder, nor commit any other heinous crime.’

    Personally I would be going after real behaviour which is proven. Such as when London Metropolitan Police attacked the women holding a Sarah Everard vigil yesterday-

    Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick is being urged to resign over this assault but before you feel too sorry for her, I recognize her name. She was in charge of the operation that murdered that innocent Brazilian guy on the London Underground back in 2005 because they thought he was possibly, maybe, could be a terrorist and could not be bothered just arresting him after pinning him down but emptied seven shots into his head instead.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      This whole affair is becoming a very good reason to avoid Twitter. Even with my very careful choice of who to follow I’m still getting deluged with nonsense.

      What everyone seems to overlook is that the reason this horrible murder has had such a high profile is because its so rare. But that hasn’t stopped everyone getting on their high horses and using it to promote whatever view it is they want to push. It is also, incidentally, making a fair trial of the suspect nearly impossible, and the UK police have a very long and dishonourable history of fitting up the wrong person in this type of crime.

      The hypocrisy over the vigil is overwhelming. Just the day before everyone was (rightly) criticising Rangers fans for their behaviour after winning the Scottish Premiership. But now its all apparently ok to gather in breach of guidelines for a vigil (even when funerals are strictly controlled). On my twitter feed I had a photo of the Rangers fans saying ‘its ok for men to gather for football, but not for women to gather to protest violence’, which, given how Rangers fans were treated just 24 hours before, is quite an epic piece of gaslighting (and I say this as a Celtic fan).

      Street crime, fear of strangers, and violence against women are of course deeply important issues. But the causes and potential solutions are complex, and they certainly won’t be solved through Twitter memes. Or lockdown breaking vigils for that matter.

      1. Eustachedesaintpierre

        I certainly don’t think that what appears to me to be a form of mass hysteria is going to result in women not suffering the same terrible fate. The ludicrous on so many levels suggestion or demand from Green Party peer Baroness Jones that all men should be put under a 6pm curfew being perhaps the most idiotic example.

        I get a feeling of many hands tearing away from polar opposites at that thing called the fabric of society.

    2. Mao "No Landlords Now" Zedong

      It’ll be a cold, cold day in hell before I ever feel sorry for a cop.

    3. Redlife2017

      Here I was thinking Jean-Charles had 5 bullets to the head. I remember it all too well. The lies pilled up, going from Jean-Charles had a puffy jacket on and they couldn’t tell (and it was summer!) to…oh whoops, the actual video of him in the tube station had him in a jean jacket and yes he sort of ran towards the tube…oh that is something everyone does?? It was insulting.

      I used to know a guy in Crown Prosecutions and he said the shooters were definitely MI-5.

      Cressida did the cover-up and the establishment rewarded her…

    4. LaFrancaise

      Getting past the semantics, the hashtag #notallmenbutallwomen trending on Twitter as a result, positions this from a slightly different lens and has some first person stories that are worth reading and understanding.

      1. Yves Smith

        I hate to tell you but I lived and worked in NYC in male-dominated businesses during the years when crime was high. I walked to and from work many of those years and alway ran errands on foot (this was before the day of pervasive deliveries). What they report is utterly alien to my experience and that of women I know. I suspect there is a strong class element that isn’t being included.

        Also ignores the fact that women are regularly victims does not mean all men are potential perps. This is paranoid. For starters, At least 1% of men are asexual and 1-4% are exclusively or close to exclusively homosexual.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          What concerns me is that fear is self perpetuating. Rather than solve the problem, it simply promotes fear of the unknown. On a purely statistical basis, serious assaults in even relatively dangerous cities are rare, certainly less common than, say, traffic injuries. By far the best way to make our streets safe is to have people out walking and cycling those streets, at all times of the day and night. We make our streets safe by inhabiting them.

          I live in a ‘mixed’ neighbourhood (i.e. plenty of hipsters and young professionals, but also lots of homeless, drug addicts, with some dark and nasty alleys). I walk all hours of the day and night around and I see plenty of women, young and old, around at all hours. I have female friends who walk alone down short cuts I’d hesitate to go. But I also know many women (and some men) who genuinely fear going out alone at night, even in well lit and relatively safe areas. Sometimes this fear is based on personal experience but mostly its all about perception.

          I’ve also lived many years in various UK cities, as well as a brief stint in NYC in the late 1980’s, when it was arguably at its worst. I’ve seen the same mix of people who are fearless (or perhaps, more precisely, understand the risks and accept them), with people almost crippled with fear. I met people (including physically tough men) in NYC who hadn’t taken the subway in decades. I also met young and old women who travelled at all hours (but of course all the sensible ones took reasonable precautions). Mind you, one or two had some hair raising tales to tell. One very petite cousin of mine got lost while drunk one night in the South Bronx and lived to tell the tale (actually, some local toughs took care of her and even paid her taxi home).

          As you suggest, I think there is a very strong class element to this. They hidden message is often about fear of young working class men as they are the clear target. Of course, the twitter warriors would never mention immigrants or minorities, but there is a lot of wolf whistling about that too.

          1. Eustachedesaintpierre

            In my experience within various cities in particular London in the late 70’s, how you carry yourself makes a difference as fear can be transmitted in your body language & as I believe that I am correct in stating that for the predators power is a large part of the trip, whether the assault is sexual or purely physical, it could be a big tell for them.

            Personally I have never had any trouble in regard to being English in Ireland, but an English friend who lives in Galway & is a hulking but gentle giant has got into many scrapes from other men. He’s better now as he has developed a don’t mess with me walk which I suppose would likely instill fear in others. He is also middle class whereas my upbringing was of going from Army camp School to Army camp school 8 times in all meaning I had to learn how to survive that experience.

            1. Yves Smith

              Agree 100%. Violent criminals were shown tapes asked who they would not target and they all identified people (regardless of stature or gender) with a strongly contralateral walk. See the later Terminators for an example (I couldn’t find a great one but if you saw the newer Terminators in T2 or T3, you’d remember):


              Similarly, in a class I took taught by the guy who developed the hand-to-hand combat course for the Navy Seals, he strongly recommended against wearing earbuds when out and about (makes you a target), and described how a woman who was pretty sure she was being pursued turned suddenly on her heel and started walking forcefully towards the man who’d been tailing her. He beat a retreat.

        2. LaFrancaise

          I am not, and that hashtag is not, is saying all men are potential perps, hence my language about a “different lens” – the hashtag is bringing forward that ‘enough’ men have been a problem for ‘all’ women to have such experiences. It’s worth examining why that is.

          I hate to tell you but as a counterpoint I’m also female and working in a male dominated area for decades. I tend to radiate a ‘don’t mess with me’ vibe so my stories aren’t as bad as some on that hashtag, but I certainly have many and so do every woman I know. I’m in a ‘professional’ field but have worked ‘working class’ jobs as well, in multiple countries. I’ve seen it in both types of professions. There’s a reason after all why #metoo erupted.

          1. Yves Smith

            It may not have to do with the working environment per se but where women go to party and socialize. If the women are known to be from employers or backgrounds where they might personally have money or connections, men who have aggressive tendencies might hesitate to target them for violence (as opposed to obnoxious and sometimes demeaning harassment) out of fear they have the juice to go after them legally, as in perps might believe a woman in a good white collar job would be taken more seriously by the police than a student (campuses historically have protected male students and staff), a nurse, or a store clerk.

          2. Lambert Strether

            > There’s a reason after all why #metoo erupted.

            Erupted within the professional-managerial class, and pretty much stayed there. Anyhow, it all went away after Tara Reade, oddly, or not.

    5. Old Sarum

      Cressida Dick:

      As Dame Edna says: Spooky! The first thing that jumped to my mind was the murdering of the Brazilian when the I heard of the police snatch-squaddies going into action again.

      It also reminds me of London criminals’ epithet for the police which was ‘The Filth’. I imagine that was because they knew that the Met. were “on the take”, just as was exposed in Hong Kong’s later colonial decades.


  10. Mikel

    It’s been over a year. And while the vaccines have everyone’s hopes up, it will be months and years to know how effective any of them will be as mutations persist.

    But to really understand the level of wishful thinking vs reality, read “Granny Shouldn”t Be Here, Maskless Spring Breakers” and “Covid Is Taking Over, Brazil Plunges Into Deadliest Chapter.”

    While “jr” in Florida has been told his youth makes him invincible and the warm weather will help fight the spread of the virus….
    Brazil is dealing with virus variants now hospitalizing more young adults and Brazil has some pretty warm weather and nice beaches.

    Even with “vaccines” floating around in various stages of development, nothing crystalizes how much has been refused to be learned.

    Something tells me the summer isn’t going to be as “wide open” as expected.

    1. Lambert Strether

      > Brazil is dealing with virus variants now hospitalizing more young adults and Brazil has some pretty warm weather and nice beaches.

      I have heard it said that Miami is the capital of Latin America. So it will be interesting to know if anybody came North for Spring Break and, if so, what they brought with them.

  11. Andrew Watts

    RE: North Korea ‘not responding’ to US contact efforts

    If the Biden administration isn’t offering sanctions relief then they don’t have anything to talk about. The North Koreans won’t be interested in hearing Washington once again demand they unilaterally surrender their nukes without any kind of agreement. A state of war still exists between our two countries.

    There isn’t a scenario where the North Koreans willingly give up their nukes while relations remain in the forever war state. And Washington has already wasted decades waiting for the Kim Dynasty to collapse.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Its unfortunate that nobody is willing to take the obvious route, of letting ROK take the lead and following their advice. Its noticeable that they weren’t involve at all in the recent discussions between the US and Australia and other ‘western’ powers in the region.

      The increasing problem now is that ROK is also inching ahead towards getting nukes for their own strategic reasons, which will most certainly lead to the North wanting to keep and develop their own capacity whatever the US or China says or does with them.

      1. Andrew Watts

        I wouldn’t automatically rule out Seoul taking the lead in negotiations with North Korea. It isn’t clear that anybody in the Biden administration knows what to do. Whereas Moon seems to have a blueprint on how to approach it. Whoever has a plan will win by default in the absence of any alternative.

        Unfortunately, I don’t think Japan is without it’s own schemes alongside their perceived national interest on the peninsula. It’s why I imagine that South Korea is planning for all contingencies in the future. If they drift apart from the US alliance they’ll probably develop their own nuclear deterrent aimed at Japan as much as China. The unlikely scenario is where the Korean peninsula is unified under a federal system and DPRK nukes are stationed on ROK submarines.

    2. neo-realist

      I suspect the horse has left the barn on the North giving up their nukes: When you consider the past history of the massive bombing campaign upon NK during the Korean War, I believe they see nuke possession as ensuring the survival of the regime and will never be given up. We in the west project disarmament as abolition of the nuclear program, however, I think the North perceives it as reduction of weaponry. I could see an offer of reduction of production of nukes with the offer of sanctions relief and financial aid and that is the best we can expect IMO.

      1. Procopius

        I am not encouraged by Blinken and Biden’s statements regarding “talks” with Iran. “We will not make any unilateral concessions.” Well, Trump unilaterally imposed sanctions on top of the ones that were supposed to be lifted after the agreement was signed, and I think it would be a refreshing display of good faith for the United States to make a unilateral gesture and lift the Trump sanctions, even if the Iranians do not accept reimposition of the JCPOA. Alas, I don’t see any signs of good faith.

        1. wilroncanada

          The US has Blinken and Nod (off), mentioned above by Procopius, But where are they hiding Winken?

      2. Foy

        Mohamed El Baradei was Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) during the 2000s. In his autobiography he said back in the early 2000s the North Koreans main request offered numerous times was to give up their nuclear weapon development was if South Korea and USA stopped all the military exercises that happen every year during their harvest season – much of the NK military go home to help with national harvest (very manual labour, little machinery) and so have a very weak military defence at this time, and this is the exact time that USA run huge military exercises just off the coast that are almost indistinguishable from a real invasion if they wished to trigger it. It scares the bejesus out of them.

        The El Baradei said the USA had zero interest in discussing anything at all with NK even though other security council nations wanted to. USA needs a bogeyman. NK is much less likely now to give them up given what they’ve seen what has happened to Libyan, Syrian, Iraqi, Ukranian and South American leaders since at the hands of the US. It’s pretty obvious why NK is is still standing.

        I found El Baradei’s autobiography a fascinating insight into the geopolitical machinations at the time.

        1. neo-realist

          I don’t doubt the North Koreans request, however, I betting it meant stopping the program yet not giving up the nukes made or any of the materials and technology to build the nukes. For sure, the actions of the the US toward Iraq, Libya and the like only encouraged them to go full speed ahead.

          The Bushies being in power at that point, with a war mongering blowhard diplomat like Bolton, not surprised at the hard line anti-commie posturing.

          1. Foy

            It’s many years since I read the book but I remember being surprised that El-Baradei thought they were sincere in their seeking a solution that involved giving up the nukes, he didn’t seem a naive individual.

            Love that last sentence Neo, a great summary of that era!

    3. km

      After what happened to Saddam and Gaddafi, the North Koreans would have to be insane to agree to give up their nukes.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Especially after John Bolton told the North Koreans that they would be going the Libya route with them. I doubt that Kim relished the idea of a bayonet up the clacker.

    4. c_heale

      From what I can understand of the article it seems like there is contact but no engagement (i.e. discussions). The article is vague and badly written and most of it is a rehash of old news.

      1. Andrew Watts

        Hence the “if” part of my comment.

        I don’t think the Biden Administration has decided on any policy concerning North Korea yet. It’s currently all under review and deliberation. Both Austin and Blinken are traveling to Asia with stops in South Korea and Japan for consultations so it’ll be concluded at some point in the near future.

  12. The Rev Kev

    ‘Jesse Singal
    This is a guy who writes for the Columbia Journalism Review calling an email to an author asking him to correct (what I am arguing is) a false claim “vaguely threatening.”

    I do wonder about this. I think that it was that AOC that accused a YouTube critic of ‘violence’ to her in a comment too. Is this a tactic where the person ‘under attack’ hopes that the other person will be banned from social media under the terms of conditions of Twitter or YouTube or whatever?

  13. PlutoniumKun

    Opinion: COVID-19 challenges German efficiency cliche Deutsche Welle

    German COVID cases could revisit December peak in April Reuters

    Its looking bad in Europe now. What seems to be happening is that the new variants are becoming dominant and their increased infectivity is making existing suppression controls redundant. It looks like there will be another major wave in a couple of weeks.

    The pattern in the UK and Ireland with the B117 variant was a sort of drip, drop of cases, then a very sudden surge, even worse than the one last year. I think we’re going to see the same thing in much of Europe.

    Europe seems to be a couple of weeks ahead of the US in trends (although obviously there are a lot of regional variations), so unless the vaccine program can somehow head this off, its pretty bad news for mid to late Spring in the US.

    Incidentally, both Ireland and the UK slowly opened schools a couple of weeks ago. This was on the basis of advice that children are not major spreaders. It looks like the advice was wrong – rates have stopped declining and may even be increasing again – the data isn’t in yet, but it looks like its school exposure that is the major problem.

    1. R

      I would disagree politely with the unifactorial conviction of that statement. :-)

      The UK only just reopened schools on the 8th. It will not show up in the data for several days. The plateauing in places predates this. It is geographically dispersed, the southwest of England and be Scotland for example.

      Nationally it is in part an artefact in part of a cold spell. With England under uniform lockdown and uniform temperature drop, there’s been a very elegant paper published calculating the ambient temp sensitivity of R from this period’s data. They found it was only slightly higher than postulated by SAGE.

      However, it is now sunny and mild and there are places in the UK where the cases are still rising. Some of this is mooted to be the huge testing expansion with lateral flow devices. All school children are offered twice weekly testing. At low prevalence, false positives will add a constant unidirectional noise to cases. But LFDs have a false negative problem, not a false positive problem, and false positives will increase with testing, not with increasing time, so this is unlikely to lead to a sustained rise in cases, just a one-time jump.

      Another factor seems to be care homes. At low prevalence, a single bad outbreak pushes up a local rate manyfold. There is an outbreak under police investigation in Devon (god knows what that is supposed to contribute to public health unless there has been a deliberate infection to kill granny quicker and save her fees – care homes will see deaths despite the 80% vaccine take up because the non recipients are too frail to receive it). But again, there should not be a sustained rise.

      It is a worry, if there is. It would be a sign of an impending variant if concern, for example. But it nay also be behavioural change. If you believe the Daily Mail (!), a lot of vaccinated pensioners and their families are going out with abandon now the spectre of death is lifted.

      As to continental Europe’s experience, it will be like UK and Ireland. Standard humans are very bad at exponential growth. It is lower than linear in the early periods and then blam! Hence your drop-drop and very sudden surge, that’s just viral growth. The challenge for Europe is that the exponential growth of the B1.117 variant is happening under cover of the declining / stable high prevalence of Classic Corona.

      NB: If you don’t watch the numbers through genotyping strains, you get blindedsided worse than usual for outbreaks because of this camouflage and complacency. The UK was lucky that its chosen PCR technique comprised three assays per case, one of which was not responsive to the variant, so you had a proxy measure for tracking the variant by tracking failed pcr tests rather than additional full genome analysis. This was only true of some UK regions, others used a different pcr test and had less insight into 117’s spread.

    2. Cuibono

      “The pattern in the UK and Ireland with the B117 variant was a sort of drip, drop of cases, then a very sudden surge, even worse than the one last year. I think we’re going to see the same thing in much of Europe.”

      Not sure what chart you alre looking at.
      UK cases have fallen precipitously since Jan 9th. AS have South Africa and a host of other places with lots of variants.
      France was ahead of UK in its largest wave by about 2 months.,

    3. Zamfir

      You say “unless the vaccine program can somehow head this off”, but isn’t that a given already? At this point, US vaccination rates among vulnerable people is already very high. And the next few weeks will add a lot more. Even if the virus spreads wildly, it’s almost impossible to reach the medical impact of previous waves.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      I doubt it – they are downplaying it here. At least part of the motivation seems to be a ‘weekend’ issue – they are taking a few days to get everyone together to look at the data to discuss it, so they are suspending the use temporarily until they can do that. Ireland is still gearing up its vax program, so there is not a high risk to suspending the use of one of the vaccines for a few days.

      I’ve not hear anything that suggests that the blood clotting issue is a big deal, its most likely just a coincidence (as several statisticians have pointed out, increased monitoring of people taking vaccines is likely to result in over reporting of illnesses that would otherwise be ignored).

      That said, its something worth keeping an eye on.

      1. Terry Flynn

        Agreed. NC reported on common side effects of covid long infection. Whilst clots and bleeds are more common than expected (I had the latter) I am just not seeing evidence to suggest such effects are cropping up with any vaccine at worrying rates.

        I totally agree that increased observation is warranted but nothing so far suggests halting immunisation. I certainly have a personal as well as professional interest in not messing up vaccination but the media seems to be falling for the “Wakefield problem” yet again for bad science reporting.

        1. R

          Apparently AZ has 13 reports of pulmonary embolism as adverse event following vaccination.

          Pfizer has 15. :-)

          There is a lot of discussion on Reddit that lobbyists for competing vaccines which are not sold at cost would have a strong motive for manipulating the presentation of AZ in the EU….

          1. Terry Flynn

            Interesting. I’m going to ask clinical and immunological former colleagues about these stats. Reddit can be an early warning system or an uninformed scare system that fails to contextualise risk so I neither dismiss it nor take it is gospel.

            Getting the same side effects as observed in the disease itself is certainly something that needs investigation, however, so I am guessing at the least AZ needs to investigate and reassure people. I myself have appt with specialist coming up concerning condition that NC flagged as common in long covid…..

    2. Cuibono

      there is nothi0ng at all to see here. All the experts are saying in unison that there can NOT be any such side effects from this vaccine. It seems like ti is even suggested that this vaccine has caused a DROP in expected thrombotic events.

    3. Johan Telstad

      In Norway, it looks to me like a lot of people just don’t want the AstraZeneca vaccine.

  14. Michael Ismoe

    New York Reports New Allegations of Inappropriate Behavior by Andrew Cuomo NY magazine

    If NC is going to document the daily relationship struggles of Governor Pepe LePew then I guess I am going to have to get up a half hour earlier each day.

      1. bob

        Can you imagine the people defending him? Twitter MAGA (Make Andy Governor Again) is working overtime.

    1. verifyfirst

      Cuomo should avail himself of the consulting services of Bloomberg and Bill Clinton, titans of the Democratic Party who succeeded in skating completely and becoming fabulously wealthy besides.

    2. Baby Gerald

      Call me old-fashioned, but the real ‘inappropriate behavior’ in the eyes of this reader was Cuomo’s granting of immunity to the nursing homes to which he consigned thousands of elderly patients and their caregivers to COVID exposure and death while finding the time to write a book and design a poster celebrating his success in conquering a virus that is still taking as big a toll on his state than it did a year ago.

  15. Pelham

    Re Biden defers to the Blob: One premise underlying the recalculation of the current political situation holds that passionate commitment to identity politics and grievance is the primary driving force. True for the moment, I suppose, but I question how long it can last. One can’t be furious for long before the energy gets played out.

    On the Trumpian side, for instance, Trump himself is beginning to look like a spent force. And as many have noted, the media-driven left appears to be going back to brunch. I expect a prolonged period of sullen, subdued resentment in which no one really abandons their convictions but the Trump flags and BLM signs begin to fray and fade. Meanwhile, the Blob quietly goes back to work.

    (One caveat: The Chauvin trial in Minneapolis. That could make for a hot summer.)

    1. David

      Elites in most western countries are heavily into IdiotPol, because all the real problems of the world are too difficult and complex to solve, and not nearly as satisfying to engage in arguments about. That said, IdiotPol is like a train which is accelerating faster and faster but which no-one is brave enough to jump off. Not supporting, or even not upping the ante on, any assertion or demand, no matter how stupid, could get you sacked or ruin your career. Eventually, of course, there will be a crash, as with all cults.
      But I don’t think most people could care less, frankly. It needs to be understood that “politics” is as much about Left and Right as it ever was, and that’s how people see it in practice. What’s changed is the structure: the money, the media coverage, the structure of the parties and even political careers, now primarily reflect a whole lot of things that most people couldn’t give a stuff about, which is, in a nutshell, why politics is in such a mess today.

      1. urblintz

        well said. there’s a disconnect between the political passion people are willing to assert when under pressure to do so and the more influential “couldn’t give a stuff about” attitude lurking behind p.c. responses, creating a robotic inertia full of movement but going nowhere.

      2. flora

        A small quibble:

        Elites in most western countries are heavily into IdiotPol, because all the real problems of the world are too difficult and complex to solve,

        Elites in most western countries are heavily into IdiotPol, because all the real problems of the world are too difficult and complex to solve without ending the neoliberal economic system propping up the new class of financial western elites. . imo.

        1. Phillip Cross

          That’s interesting.

          What would you replace it with, and how would you manage the transition?

          If you could “sweep the leg” of these elites you’ve identified, the whole house of cards might come tumbling down with them, leaving a violent third world hellscape, akin to Yeltsin’s Russia.

          1. Cat Burglar

            In the area I live in now in the US, there are already people living the same lives, in the same poverty and high mortality that people lived and died under in Yeltsin’s Russia.

            It is here, now, under the present system.

            1. LawnDart

              Yeah, we were lucky that Putin emerged from the chaos of the 90s, and not one of Russia’s hard-right extremists who view Putin’s brand of nationalism as weak tea, otherwise WWIII might have well been the result.

              USA poverty is just a common fact for most, except for those who can afford to live in the bubbles. I’ve witnessed the hard-life everywhere that I have spent any time in here in this country, and my job is 90-95% travel– the “land of the free” is about as free as a sticky-trap is to a mouse, and about as humane.

              1. Phillip Cross

                I’m not saying the situation is good now.

                I’m saying that a plan involving “ending the neoliberal economic system” and disempowering “financial western elites” sounds great, but needs to be much more fleshed out to be useful.

                Who is and isn’t part of the elite?

                What parts of our society are neoliberal and so must be ended?

                Will any of our property or businesses be spared?

                Who is going to manage these decisions and arbitrate problems during the transition?

                What if these elites don’t go quietly?


        2. Jeff W

          Nailed it, as usual, flora.

          And, as Ian Welsh reminded us back in 2011, “difficult” and “complex” (or “hard” and “complicated,” as Ian puts it) are often conflated—many problems we face might be hard (in lots of cases because they involve “ending the neoliberal economic system propping up the new class of financial western elites”) but they’re not particularly complicated.

      3. Pelham

        Yes, all true. I guess what I’m saying is that the passions on either side of the idpol divide and just about any other subject are kind of played out. No one’s giving up on this nonsense. They may just be taking a breather during which time the neoliberal/globalist regime will continue to do its work — and maybe for an extended period. Maybe I’m just projecting, though. After five years of being incandescently furious (alternating between left and right perspectives), I’m exhausted.

        1. Cat Burglar

          Obama’s management of the bailouts and foreclosures after the 2008 crisis is worth knowing about in detail because it presents the failure of identity politics so clearly. As a member of an oppressed group whose place in power must therefore be univocally progressive no matter what policies he followed, Obama neatly increased social inequality, and dispossessed black and hispanic families back down to pre-War On Poverty levels of wealth holdings. A very handy example.

          Susan Rice, an African American woman official, who spearheaded the Libya debacle under Obama, assisted in the recreation of enslavement of black Africans in Libya. Also a very useful example. Margaret Thatcher is a pretty effective example, too, but generates fewer oppression points.

          I bring these points up in conversation when identity politics comes up, and it often reframes the terms of discussion in a way that makes it possible to discuss real problems.

      4. c_heale

        …because all the real problems of the world will affect the bank balances or status of the elite, and therefore they aren’t going to let the rest of us try to solve them…

    2. Synoia

      Meanwhile, the Blob quietly goes back to work. Hmm, does the blob ever sleep? Or is it continually using lies, propaganda, leverage and privilege for continued control?

      My impression is that the blob it never ceases.

  16. tegnost

    Re biden and the blob with the rear view mirror cabinet choices, it would be nice if indeed we were on the cusp of being in a new phase of political experience and we could stop seeing articles about
    trump and hillary…two shades I wish would fade into the fog of history……….. It’s hard to think of anyone who might fill the vacuum though.

    1. juno mas

      Sitting on the porch overlooking Lake Almanor (NorCal), not once did I see a full aero dive bomb Osprey like that photo. A sudden impact is imminent!

    2. bob

      They are amazing birds. The feet forward dive thing doesn’t seem like it should be possible anatomically.

      They are also some of the best, most determined squatters ever. They move onto power poles and build nests with large branches. The branches are long enough that they can bridge the gap between wires and short them, causing power outages.

      Power companies spend lots of time dealing with them. If they pull the nest down, the osprey will rebuild it the next day, and the next year in the same spot. The power company has to keep sending the truck out.

      In a bargain with the osprey, the power companies have to build the osprey a platform above the wires

      People think the osprey move onto the platforms because the platform is there for them. The opposite is true, the platform is there because the osprey moved in.

      1. ChrisPacific

        Near the entrance to the Homer Tunnel in Milford, New Zealand, there is a jungle gym-like structure by the side of the road. It’s there to provide entertainment for New Zealand’s intelligent and inquisitive mountain parrot, the kea, which otherwise tends to rearrange or destroy road crew equipment like traffic cones.

        The gym equipment needs to be changed frequently to keep them interested, but it’s still much cheaper and easier than dealing with things like hazard markers that go wandering when nobody is around.

        I agree the osprey photo is amazing. Some fish’s day is about to take a decided turn for the worse.

    3. The Rev Kev

      Incredible how optimized the shape of that Osprey is for its dive. If it went any faster, it would need swept wings. Did a quick check and found out that Ospreys can dive at 30 miles per hour (50 kph) and have been clocked at 50 miles per hour (80 kph) by the time they hit the water.

  17. t

    “No credible threat indicated that tens of thousands would attack the U.S. Capitol,”

    Hmmm. So we don’t have talk about credible threats of hundreds or thousands? Pretty deft lawyer dodge.

    1. JTMcPhee

      How many were in the mob, again? Not that many,, though the Narrative puffs it way up and says because there were no aerial images, unbelievable, “it is impossible to estimate the size of the crowd/mob…”

      No space given to ACTUAL threats that thousands of lobbyists and Procurement Forces out of the Pentagram and its Fifth Columnist MIC Troops, attack the People’s Palace every day, armed with bribe cannons and fiscal flame throwers, to seditiously burn down any remaining bits of the Temple of Our Democracy…

  18. Maxwell Johnston

    “Biden keeping Ukraine at arm’s-length”

    There’s a lot to unpack in this article, but I’d like to point out one glaring error. Ukraine’s population is nowhere near 43m. The last proper census was in 2001 and showed about 48m. The government did a rough census in 2019 and announced in January 2020 that the population is now about 37m; lower than Poland, incredibly enough. Some experts think the true population total is even lower. The country is in demographic free fall.

    1. JTMcPhee

      Unpacking to include the tiny mention-in-passing of Corruptnik Hunter Biden, and the IMF’s neoliberal demands to austeritize fuel prices to Mopes and reinstate the “independence” and power of their friends in the Ukraine central bank. “Nothing fundamental, etc.”

      “Give us Nuland!”

    2. chuck roast

      One glaring error? Please unpack this lot of lies, distortions and fabrications built on an ahistorical framework. Talk about narrative management. This is a country that makes a virtue of naked corruption. And why would they want to “…succeed in being a normal European country?” The cash cow must keep milking. The demographic free fall you are talking about is the result of everyone with the means to migrate, migrating.

    3. Cat Burglar

      I admire your understatement in the face of the Politico article on Ukraine, and your self-restraint in picking out an error that speaks to the economic and political disaster there.

      Overall, the article describes the United States offering to pay Ukraine to adopt specific policies and personnel, which it dubs an anti-corruption agenda. A Biden administration official characterizes the construction of a gas pipeline as “aggressive action,” but choosing to remain unnamed for some reason, does not get to take credit for the innovative framing. Former Ambassador Yovanovitch refers to Kolomoisky as “one of the most destructive oligarchs” — prompting the reader to wonder who the other most destructive oligarchs are, if there are less destructive oligarchs, and if there are any constructive oligarchs. Scratch at it a little, and the article turns into pure comedy. That the author of the article seems to favor direct quotes so she doesn’t have to take responsibility for things like likening a building project to an act of war just makes it funnier.

      For very serious reasons, the comedy needs to be pointed out at every opportunity — these people deserve to be laughed at and mocked for trying to foist this stuff on us — and I use it in conversation. That is one of the few ways an average person can corrode the underside of power.

    4. Darthbobber

      From the politico article you wouldn’t get much grasp of the present constitutional crisis in Ukraine, and from the larger media you wouldn’t even know it was happening. This, from the Wilson Center, gives a summation, though it follows western practice in referring to everybody who favors any kind of negotiated end to the Russia/Donbas standoff as either a pro-Russian party or a pro-Russian oligarch.

      More troubling, MoA is up with a piece dealing with not only the above, but what look like preparations for renewed attacks on the breakaway republics.

  19. flora

    re:The Coronavirus Killed the Gospel of Small Government – NYT

    Thanks for the link. Turning around the economic ideology that’s guided politicians for the past 40 years will take a lot of time, like turning an ocean liner. The economic paradigm of the last 40 years is finally discredited by events.

    Making govt smaller meant, among other things, reducing govt employment in areas like health and safety inspections . One example: trying to make sure nursing homes, for example, adhere to regulations and standards by letting the nursing homes simply ‘self report’. Sort of like ‘self-regulating’. The current self-reporting star-ratings system is virtually meaningless.

      1. Jason Boxman

        And this was introduced under liberal technocrat and hero Obama, and much like HAMP left people to their own devices, CMS leaves our most vulnerable a the mercy of hedge fund profits.

        Elsewhere years ago, there was an article that detailed the complex ownership agreements between shell companies that make suing a nursing home apparently extremely difficult.

        Where are the individual, criminal prosecutions for this stuff? Murder on a large enough scale, for profit, is socially acceptable to our elite.

  20. antidlc

    ‘It’s so great to see everybody without a mask on’: Music fans celebrate at Billy Bob’s Texas

    In an indoor honky-tonk, a popular and politically outspoken musician entertained a predominantly unmasked throng of rowdy revelers. No, this wasn’t a scene from a year or two ago, but from Friday night at Billy Bob’s Texas in Fort Worth, where Aaron Lewis performed an acoustic set.

    Busy sidewalks, packed parking lots and a palpable “big night out” energy made the evening feel like one from the before times. The folks heading out for Stockyards fun were doing so two days after statewide COVID-19 mandates lifted.

    I don’t think this will end well.

    I went for a drive past the local restaurant row. Parking lots were packed. Some restaurants had people waiting outside to get in.

    1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

      Local rundown strip club in Hillsboro was packed to the gills the other day.

      My ladyfriend bartender back in Nola better save her tips…

      Because, yes, this will not end well.

  21. Carolinian

    Re Graham Greene–I had just checked out that new biography from the library but haven’t yet dipped in.

    Some movie fun facts–The part of Harry Lime in The Third Man was originally offered to Cary Grant rather than Orson Welles. It would have been quite different. There are claims that Welles greatly influenced the way Carol Reed directed it.

    And when functioning as a critic Greene got in big trouble by suggesting–tongue in cheek no doubt–that Shirley Temple was really a midget. The public (including my mom) loved their Shirley

    1. R

      My wife turned me on to Graham Greene. I owe her a big debt of reading pleasure. Except End of the Affair and Heart of the Matter, where you just want to give the protagonist a good shake, same as Raskolnikov in Crime and Punishment but mercifully shorter and more modern. I think my favourite is A Burnt-out Case.

      We had a tenant once who was the sister in law of Norman Sherry, Greene’s diligent biographer, so we met him once or twice (Norman, not Graham!).

      On the same topic of six degrees of separation, and the same third degree, I was taught English Literature at school by someone whose father had emigrated on the same boat as Carol Reed and had worked on the third man (writer? Artist? Musician? Cannot remember: Hoellering was the name).

    2. Michaelmas

      There are claims that Welles greatly influenced the way Carol Reed directed it.

      More than that. The classic Lime parting monolog to Joseph Cotten’s Holly Martin atop the Ferris Wheel: –

      “Don’t be so gloomy. After all it’s not that awful. Like the fella says, in Italy for thirty years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love, five hundred years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock. So long, Holly.”

      That’s entirely Welles’s input, not Greene. Reed had the smarts to let Welles do it, of course.

      Just like Ridley Scott fortunately had the smarts to let Rutger Hauer rewrite about a page of dialogue in the original BLADE RUNNER and reduce it to Max Batty’s “I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe” death speech.

      There are a few really smart actors who really understand their characters. When they have a great director who understands that, great artistic moments can happen.

      Cary Grant? Wow. Great film actor, but he could never have put across pure American venal psychopathy as Welles did. Which was necessary because one central fact behind THE THIRD MAN, both book and script, was that Greene really disliked and was contemptuous of Americans in general. On the one hand, he hated the self-serving exploiters (Harry Lime) and, on the other, he deeply despised the self-serving, exceptionalist believers in American ‘innocence’ like Holly Martin. See also THE QUIET AMERICAN where the eponymous character, Alden Pyle, manages to be both ‘innocent’ and murderously self-serving,

      1. Carolinian

        Grant was pretty good at playing villains or, more often, the “is he good or is he bad?” type characters. Examples would be Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief or the comedy/drama Charade. I believe a recent bio says he was offered either part, Lime or Holly.

        Of course the once named Archie Leach’s whole life was a bit of an act and one he carried off very well.

      2. Big Tap

        Some background on “The Third Man”:

        Welles improvised the coocoo clock but not the rest of that speech.
        The producer, David Selznick got the unhappy ending for the film that made it a classic
        Welles is in the Vienna sewers around 90% of that scene, The rest by a double.
        Greene spent two months in Vienna for research,

  22. Terry Flynn

    Re German inefficiency. This was highlighted in the autobiography of Albert Speer – well worth reading. He pointed out that the WW2 government worked DESPITE not because of national socialism. Adolf was renowned for getting ministries to compete against each other, causing problems of lack of economies of scale and numerous supply problems. It drove Speer mad and he frequently deliberately failed to inform the leadership of his decisions, so that the war machine wouldn’t crumble. (This came to haunt him at Nuremberg as he couldn’t claim innocence.)

    In my work trips to the Netherlands from around 2006 onwards I had to start factoring in delays to any train journeys that originated in Germany. My Dutch hosts chuckled and said “NOW who are Europe’s efficient people”.

    1. Swamp Yankee

      Yes, Speer’s _Inside The Third Reich_ is an absolute must-read. Speer’s attempts to bring order to an insane and shambolic system are a major theme — it’s remarkable how just how badly the German war economy was managed. The Fuhrer, for instance, would insist after major bombing raids that theaters and opera houses (paging Fitzcarraldo) be rebuilt first, for the Volk loved entertainment…. Speer’s entreaties that the Volk wanted housing and sanitation fell on deaf ears.

      Also, Hitler refused to accept the need for spare parts. He would literally just have them build a new tank. Speer said Hitler fundamentally never lost the mentality of a front-line rifleman from WWI; industrial warfare was beyond his mental horizon.

      I think we’re in a similar way, in the 21st c. Anglosphere (sans NZ), with our own national managerial elites…..

      1. David

        Speer’s autobiography was at least as self-serving as is the norm for such things. Read Adam Tooze “The Wages of Destruction,” which among other things puts Speer in his place. And don’t forget that the “inefficiency” in the Third Reich was a consequence of the nature of the Nazi system itself: ruthless competition at all levels was the norm, from which the strongest would emerge victorious. We know how that turned out.

        1. Terry Flynn

          Oh yes. I did reread it after seeing some documentary about Speer and his faux sincerity (which probably saved him from the noose). You can spot when he is trying to preserve his reputation. Nevertheless there is lots of (externally) validated evidence of things he reported on (construction works noted by allied planes) which reflect the point I made above and which you also make – ruthless competition was the norm and this was not optimal for Germany.

          This non centralised approach has reared its ugly head with covid. The Lander have more control over health (compared with national government) than many believe. This has anecdotally been claimed for German problems in response to covid. IIRC NC has reported on Merkel’s ability to shift blame.

        2. Swamp Yankee

          Yes, David, I quite agree, it is obviously self-serving and an extension of Speer’s desire to avoid the gallows. I should have made that clearer.

          Nevertheless, it’s still a remarkable document that is one of the few quasi-primary sources we have from the Third Reich leadership — however partial and compromised, it commands attention, as does any historical source.

      2. Old Sarum

        Swamp Yankee, don’t be so sure about NZ. Since moving to Australia I have become very aware of the number dodgy businesses that operate (or maybe operated) out of New Zealand. I can’t image that a few years of centre-left government has changed much.

        Shell companies, links to tax havens: any news anyone?


    2. Larry Y

      The new Berlin international airport should have dispelled modern notions of German efficiency.

      Otherwise, seems like the reputation came from Germany’s initial industrialization and then post-WWII rebuild.

      1. Terry Flynn

        I wish I had the NC links to hand but I am fairly sure NC drew attention to problems Germany have had in getting “too involved” with Anglo-Saxon finance schemes that weren’t the efficiency machines they claimed to be.

        Around 1995 I was personally part of the actuarial team that had to work a weekend valuing the Morgan Grenfell pension scheme in time for 8am Monday when Deutsche Bank would launch its takeover bid. My line manager noted that we were behind the ball – the British (highly respected well known) law firm dealing with it had sent faxes timed at 3am. Exactly. Which was possible but raised eyebrows. (We worked till about 10pm). Their charge out rate was naturally much higher for that. We kinda thought we had not *ahem* used German efficiency as well as others….!

      2. ArvidMartensen

        We had a taste of German efficiency while trying to catch a train in Germany near the Swiss border.

        The platform signage said Platform X was for a train going northwards to Berlin. But, that train arrived on Platform Y so we missed it. I think the station master had alerted native German speakers with an announcement in German.

        But then, none of the train signage on Platform X was changed so that the next train arrived with the Berlin destination still shown on the platform. But it was going to Basle. We nearly went to Basle. Only an irate German who rushed off the train at the last minute alerted us to the mistake.

    3. marku52

      I’ve lost two international shipments in my small guitar parts business. One was in the German post.

      Surprised, I was.

      The other one did get resolved but occurred because if you replace a zero with an oh in a zip code, a package can go to Canada instead of the UK.

      Vehicle VIN numbers do not include that figure becuase of the potential confusion.

  23. Baby Gerald

    I am pleased to report at least one small silver lining to the dark cloud that has been the COVID shut down. Workers at one of Chinatown’s largest and most popular dim sum restaurants are now looking into ways to collectively own the establishment. Here’s the story today in Gothamist:

    Chinatown Banquet Hall’s Workers And Supporters Propose Collective Ownership Plan To Launch New Restaurant

    Professor Richard Wolff, long a proponent of worker coops, should be called in to advise these 150+ workers in their aims. I left a message on his site, but if anyone else here has any ideas how to put the workers in touch with him, I’d think someone at NC could help out.

    Annoyingly, for some reason the comments in the Gothamist article were shut down or else I’d have mentioned Dr. Wolff there in hopes of drawing attention to his work by the folks leading this effort.

  24. ArvidMartensen

    Re “all men are rapists”. This is a very fraught area.
    Many women who have trusted male colleagues, boyfriends or friends have been viciously raped by a trusted male.
    A single act of rape can have long term devastating consequences for the woman. They can suffer terrible mental health problems. And they suffer shame because our society has been set up to absolve the man and cast doubts on the morality of the woman. The man is a bit of a lad, but the woman is a slut, this sort of thing.

    There are enough stories about these rapes to make women fearful when walking home at night. They know the possible consequences. And trusting a male companion after they have both been to a party has proven a particularly bad move for some women. At least one government is under a cloud, at the highest level, because of rape allegations from women who trusted male companions to take them home after a party.

    And really, yes, there are men who would never contemplate such behaviour, but then while we “decent” men do nothing and allow the law and society to treat women as game, that makes men complicit in a rotten system.

    Perhaps while nothing changes a male curfew, as has been suggested in Australia, is the only solution. Say, all men have to be home by 8pm unless they are on shift work, on alternate Saturday nights.

    1. Yves Smith

      Your problem statement says your proposed remedy is all wrong. Most rapes are committed by a man (we’re omitting male-male rape for now) who knows the woman, even if having just met her at a bar or party, as opposed to a man following a women he does not know and assaulting her and raping her. The man in a dating or even established relationship/marriage setting presumed the woman was willing to have sex with him and she wasn’t and he wouldn’t take “no” for an answer.

      Women want to meet men (and men want to meet and get to know women) for companionship, to perhaps get into a relationship, to find a mate and get married. How the hell are they supposed to meet if men have to hide at night? Oh, and women want to get laid too.

      And what about men who have to work late? Or work evening shifts? Do they have to carry passes like Jews in Nazi Germany?

      And like the Prohibition, there would be work-arounds. All this would do is force men to take Ubers home rather than walk or take public transportation. Pretty classist.

      1. ArvidMartensen

        Yes agreed, it would be difficult.
        I suppose I like this suggestion because sometimes the only way to move a conversation in the desired direction is to put forward an extreme option so that more reasonable options suddenly seem more desirable.
        I imagine this suggestion has arisen from the sheer frustration of living in a country with one of the highest rates of reported sexual assault in the world. and
        Now echoed in Britain by Green Party peer Baroness Jones, in the wake of the murder of Sarah Everard.

        The usual response to reports of sexual assault, especially in politics is: quick as a flash… nothing happened.

        1. Yves Smith

          Women need to be taught in junior high how to kick and knee men in the balls. Women are trained to be inhibited about fighting back. Lord knows I see all sorts of stupid scenes on TV crime shows (now that I am attending to a 93 year old, I too often am subject to the boob tube out of the corner of my eye) where the idea that women should cower and beg with a male assailant is reinforced. One that particularly pissed me off was when a man was talking to a supposed FBI woman with a knife pointed at her neck, and his intent was to kill her. He was still talking, which mean he wasn’t yet about to hurt her. He was close but didn’t have her pinned. Both arms were free. She could easily have gouged his eyes out. IF someone goes for your eyes, your reflex is to pull your head back; he never would have immediately cut her throat when he was at risk . She could have kneed him in the balls or stomped on his foot to break it next.

          That needs to be modeled and it isn’t.

          A law that women who crush the balls of a rapist during the attempt are not guilty of any crime would also help.

          1. ArvidMartensen

            Absolutely. Teaching at high schools would not only equip girls with the skills, but it might also show the boys what they could expect if they try it on. A few demonstration sessions would be very educational.

          2. The Rev Kev

            A quick chop to the throat is quicker and easier and makes that person lose interest in current affairs.

            1. Yves Smith

              Depends what you have access to. You hit what you can most readily hit that is a vulnerable point. Agree throat is good. Solar plexus is good too.

              Women don’t have as much upper body strength and aren’t trained to hit with their hands. I was trained to hit with my forearm or elbow, depending on the target, which better enables untrained people to get some body weight into the strike.

              Another thing women need to be trained to do is what to do if grabbed or pinned. If a man grabs you from behind, even if he pins your arms, you can wriggle and kick, which means you’ll slither down and can grab his balls. If he’s on top and pins your hands with his, you can straighten your arms out and flip him over.

              The big thing, which sounds weird, is being dis-inhibited about hurting someone else, which is necessary if they are serious about hurting you. We were shown a bunch of nasty prison fight tapes to help with that.

  25. michael99

    6 Questions Officials Still Haven’t Answered After Weeks of Hearings on the Capitol Attack – ProPublica

    This part pertaining to whether the National Guard was ready is interesting:

    Last week, Walker, the National Guard commander, offered startling testimony on what he called “unusual” restrictions limiting what he could do on Jan. 6.

    He said that on Jan. 4 and 5, he was told he would need approval from top defense officials to issue body armor to his troops, use a “quick reaction force” of 40 guardsmen, or move troops stationed at traffic posts around the city.

    In his testimony, Walker said he had never experienced anything like it in his nearly four decades in the guard.

    And a Pentagon official testified that “acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller was at the top of the chain of command and “wanted to make the decisions.””

    More on Miller from Wikipedia:

    During the 2021 storming of the United States Capitol, Miller was criticized for several reasons. He hesitated to approve assistance of National Guard troops from neighboring states to reinforce the D.C. National Guard until 4:41 PM, three hours after Capitol Police signaled that they were being overrun and two hours after city officials from the District had asked for such assistance.Two days prior, he banned the DC National Guard from touching, arresting, or searching rioters, and bringing weapons, helmets and body armor to work on January 6.

    Miller was also the person who was accused by the Biden transition team of obstructing the transition.

  26. Lambert Strether

    > A Year Into COVID, What Have We Learned?

    “What do we learn, Palmer?” Giving me the opportunity to play one of my favorite clips (introduced to me by an NC reader, long ago:

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