Links 3/23/2021

Mouse plague ravaging farms in NSW and southern Queensland, scurries south to Victoria ABC News (Anthony L). Cue Willard.

Scientists read minds of monkeys using new ultrasound technique New Atlas (David L)

The simple food that fights climate change BBC (David L)

Man arrested after drone found with a bag of heroin on board, Simi Valley police say Yahoo (resilc)

Want to improve your health? Head to a national park, and absorb the sounds PhysOrg

#COVID-19

Covid: The countries that nailed it, and what we can learn from them BBC (ma)

Science/Medicine

U.S. Health Officials Question AstraZeneca Vaccine Trial Results New York Times. My reply to furzy, who sent this link: “I hate to sound like a CT type, but this does not smell right.” Her reply: “!!!!…Quote:”

Dr. Eric Topol, a clinical trials expert at Scripps Research in San Diego, said it was “highly irregular” to see such a public display of friction between a monitoring board and a study sponsor, which are typically in close concordance.

“I’ve never seen anything like this,” he said in an interview after the institute’s statement was released. “It’s so, so troubling.”

First Chinese Covid-19 cases may have been infected in October 2019, says new research South China Morning Post (resilc)

Covid-19 Flight From Hell: My Run-In With An Infected Passenger Forbes. I bet there were multiple violations of the Conditions of Carriage. Too bad he couldn’t have invoked a relevant section.

Covid 19 – Conspiracy Theories Unnecessary – By Walrus. Turcopoloer (Chuck L)

UK/Europe

Dutch ready to block AstraZeneca if UK deal fails Politico

Foreign holidays will be ILLEGAL from Monday: New Covid laws mean £5,000 fines for anyone leaving the UK without ‘reasonable excuse’ – and restrictions could last for some holiday hot-spots ALL summer Daily Mail

US

Variants Rise in Some States, Adding Urgency to Vaccine Push Bloomberg. Ahem, if long Covid is a significant driver of new variants, it’s not clear that vaccination will have all that much impact. The vaccines have been measured for efficacy in preventing severe infections and deaths, not asypmtomatic cases (at least the Pfizer vaccine, where clinical trial participants were not all tested regularly; you had to be symptomatic to be tested). Many long Covid cases were asymptomatic at onset. And even if it does keep or reduce the number getting long Covid, there’s still a significant pool of the afflicted out there who may continue incubating new variants.

Free DONUT deal for Covid-vaccinated reignites debate over Americans’ massive lockdown weight gains RT (Kevin W). “Now it’s safe to go back to getting diabetes.”

Finance/Economy

Winners, losers, and in-betweeners: How pharma companies stacked up in the Covid-19 vaccine race STAT

Sequencing the Post-COVID Recovery by Robert Skidelsky Project Syndicate. UserFriendly: “Well now I’ve heard everything, using Keynes and FDR to argue against Biden’s non-existent plan to reorder the economy to stop favoring the oligarchy.

China?

China retaliates after sanctions move by US, EU and UK Financial Times. Over the Uighurs.

Tiananmen Square, Uyghur Court: Tower Hamlets plans name changes in solidarity. “As the Chinese embassy prepares to move in, councillors vote to support the ‘freedom and diversity of our borough’” Guardian. This is not adult behavior. Shades of “freedom fries”.

Washington’s Delusion of Endless World Dominion TomDispatch (resilc)

Myanmar: Mass protests fail to attract global solidarity DW. Resilc: “Isn’t that a scene from Les Misz?”

Brexit

Brexit has already been a disaster for British trade Encompass

Old Blighty

JOB MEGXIT Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s Archewell foundation director Catherine St-Laurent leaves after only a YEAR Sun

Harry and Meghan Finally Admit They Didn’t Have Secret Backyard Wedding Daily Beast. Everything verifiable that Meghan and Harry said in the Oprah interview with respect to the Royal Family is been false. I continue to be gobsmacked at the craven US coverage.

Syraqistan

New leaks show CIA pressured Yemen to release al-Qaeda leader and agency asset Anwar al-Awlaki Grayzone (Chuck L)

Thoughts On The Iraq Invasion Caitlin Johnstone (resilc)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Can We Stop Pretending SMS Is Secure Now? Brian Krebs (Robert M). From last week, still important.

Ikea France snooped on staff and customers for a decade, say prosecutors Boing Boing (resilc)

Zoom Court Videos Are Making People’s Darkest Hours Go Viral Vice (dk)

Tinder and OkCupid Could Soon Let You Background Check Your Date — for a Price ProPublica (resilc)

Imperial Collapse Watch

Biden’s firing squad stands in a circle Asia Times (Kevin W)

Trump

Sidney Powell says ‘no reasonable person’ would take her election fraud claims as fact as she calls to toss $1.3bn Dominion suit RT (Kevin W)

Biden

President Biden Announces his Intent to Nominate Lina Khan for Commissioner of the Federal Trade Commission White House. Wowsers. Khan is the real deal.

Officials head to Guatemala and Mexico amid rise in migrants at US border Guardian (resilc)

Sinema, Cornyn urge Biden to use ‘full authorities’ at border The Hill (resilc)

‘We Can Cancel All $1.8 Trillion,’ Say Activists as Cardona Announces Full Debt Relief for Scammed Students Common Dreams. From late last week….

Gunman shoots and kills at least 10 people at Boulder grocery store – including hero veteran cop, 51, who was first to respond: Footage shows handcuffed man covered in blood Daily Mail

Hedges: The Evil Within Us ScheerPost (Chuck L)

GOP Civil War

Trump ramps up activities, asserts power within GOP The Hill

Democrats en déshabillé

Moderate Democrats warn leaders against meddling in Iowa race The Hill

Our Famously Free Press

The World Darkens a Little More: I May Have to Spend Some Time as a Political Prisoner Craig Murray

The Campaign of Lies Against Journalist Jesse Singal—And Why It Matters Quilette (UserFriendly). Important but also sobering.

The New Normal “Reality” Police CJ Hopkins. Not on board with all of Hopkins’ views, but this is absolutely nuts and also revealing. “Free speech” only exists in a public context, as in in the town square, in a public meeting (most of all in a government setting). Opinion, as long as it falls short of hate speech, advocacy of violence, or “yelling ‘fire’ in a crowded theater” is ever and always protected speech. But this all goes out the window on private platforms.

It’s All Just Displacement Freddie deBoer (UserFriendly). On Substack.

Sovereign Writers and Substack Stratechery (UserFriendly). Way overthinking this. Many writers want as close to a turnkey approach as possible. I spend a ton of time and meaningful hard $ on administrativa. But I had my own tiny consulting shop for many years so having to handle the business of this business isn’t an alien concept. And I value control a ton. By contrast, unlike many others, I prefer turnkey approaches to dealing with shelter and hate having to play property manager.

The Campaign of Lies Against Journalist Jesse Singal—And Why It Matters Quillette

The Bezzle

John Cleese has an NFT bridge to sell you for $69.3 million The Verge (resilc)

Artist Krista Kim sells “first NFT digital house” for over $500,000 Dezeen

Leon Black Steps Down as Apollo Chairman in Unexpected Move Wall Street Journal

UC’s deal with Elsevier: What it took, what it means, why it matters Berkeley News (UserFriendly)

The Flawed Inspection Process Under Scrutiny in Boeing 777 Engine Failures Wall Street Journal (John C)

Secret Calpers Meeting on CIO Meng’s Exit Sparks Legal Fight Bloomberg

Richest Americans Hide 20% Of Income, Costing You $175 Billion Annually Heisenberger Report (resilc). My world-recognized tax expert (lectures around the world and was calling for closing the carried interest loophole long before it was fashionable) is skeptical that the #s are this high. The US is better at identifying income of the super rich (taxing it is another matter, the IRS pretty much always loses big $ tax litigation cases, and that’s with trying to focus resources on winners). Says a most money that goes though the Caymans does not stay there, and so suspects double counting in Zucman’s numbers.

Factory blaze adds to computer chip supply crisis BBC (David L)

Retail Sales Fell 3.0% in February After January Sales Were Revised 1.9% Higher Angry Bear. But still 6.3% ahead of last year…

Texas Freeze Creates Global Plastics Shortage OilPrice (resilc)

The Persistent Compression of the Breakeven Inflation Curve Liberty Street Economics (UserFriendly)

Hospitals Hide Pricing Data From Search Results Wall Street Journal. Scumbags.

Class Warfare

Latest data: Black–white gaps widened and Hispanic–white gaps persisted as unemployment rates dropped overall Economic Policy Institute

Bernie Sanders tells Elon Musk to ‘focus on Earth’ and pay more tax Business Insider (resilc)

The Taxonomy of Student Debt Arguments Current Affairs https://www.currentaffairs.org/2021/03/the-taxonomy-of-student-debt-arguments

Amazon workers strike in Italy over pandemic-driven delivery demands Reuters Resilc: “Sat night at 745pm we get an amazon delivery. Some non-essential thing.”

Antidote du jour o4amuse: “California Sea Lions in Yaquina Bay, Newport Oregon.” Moi: I don’t know if you’ve ever had the opportunity, but I could readily spend an afternoon with a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, seated near sea lions like this, watching their antics. I’ve only seen them like this once, on a wharf in San Francisco, where someone worked out that leaving a few big square floating wooden platforms for their use would be a big tourist draw. They pile up on them, I assume to sun. They regularly readjust themselves, leading to some flopping and grumbling. Occasionally another sea lion will haul himself out of the water and try to force the others to open up a spot (there always seems to be more arrivals than departures), which will usually lead to a heated argument before the newcomer gets his place.

And a bonus (BC). I want whatever that dog is on:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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181 comments

    1. Miami Mitch

      I would have lost my lid if I was on that plane.

      But I think I am just going to start handing out Vitamin D to everyone…

      High vitamin D levels may protect against COVID-19, especially for Black people, study suggests

      Date: March 22, 2021
      Source: University of Chicago Medical Center
      Summary: In a retrospective study of individuals tested for COVID-19, vitamin D levels above those traditionally considered sufficient were associated with a lower risk of COVID-19.

    2. Jon Cloke

      As we all (hopefully) know, airports are hubs of infection and flights/flight routes accelerators of transmission, of which the inside of the plane is a compressed infection accelerator.

      It beggared belief that a country like the UK, with a massive dependence on international air travel, would refuse to close its airports until December of last year when infection was well past control and all we were doing was sending our own virus strain elsewhere.

      If you check global figures for top tourist-travel countries/business travel miles/international visitation and cross-reference them by type and timing of travel (i.e. business versus tourism), you will find all the Johns-Hopkins top COVID-19 countries.

      A SAGE committee that is comprised of immunologists, epidemiologists and medical specialists is useless. To control an anthropandemic such a commitee needs travel specialists, food systems experts and a bunch of global economic systems analysts working on pre-existing computer models of goods, food and passenger transport systems relevantly to the unique country.

      Anyone would think I’d written an article about anthropandemics… O wait, I did, here – “Writing anthropandemics – the strangely connected social geographies of COVID-19, plastic waste, and obesity” – https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/15387216.2020.1828127

  1. CJ Hopkins

    Thank you, Yves, for demonstrating that rational people can passionately disagree about issues (and even facts) and still recognize the madness of allowing corporations and their MIC-partners to decide which views are “safe” and which are “dangerous.” It is a dark road we are going down now, regardless of what we believe got us here.

    1. Arizona Slim

      OTOH, we could flop around on floating wooden platforms, with occasional interludes of bellowing at each other. Y’know, like California Sea Lions.

    2. km

      Absolutely. I have read you for a long time, I agree with you sometimes, sometimes I don’t, but I sure as [familyblog] don’t want Google or the alphabet agencies curating what I am and am not supposed to be reading.

    3. UserFriendlyyy

      Yes and Sorry for calling your descent into ‘COVID is a hoax trutherism’ tragic, which you objected to as deeply unfair. With fb posts like

      Consent Factory @consent_factory • Mar 19
      When you’re desperately trying to pretend the entire world is under attack by an apocalyptic plague and Florida ruins it by letting everyone just go on with their lives as normal…

      It’s hard to understand what I was thinking. Very unfair of me.

      1. UserFriendlyyy

        As a side note I completely agree that hegemonic capitalism is doing everything possible to eliminate criticism, censor even the most mild critiques, and is generally evil in just about every way possible. None of which has anything to do with the very real fact that plagues and pandemics are very real things that kill millions of people. Does that mean that evil neoliberal governments are going to overreach and grab more powers and generally do everything they can to take advantage of the virus? Yes, obviously. Is that an excuse to down play and minimise the virus which is actually killing millions of people? No, obviously. I don’t understand what is so complicated about any of that.

      2. CJ Hopkins

        I don’t remember objecting to your mischaracterization of me, Mr. Friendlyyy, but I’m sure I did. I’ve been insulted, smeared, and lied about so often over the past year that I’ve become a bit short tempered. As for my “Covid is a hoax trutherism,” here’s an except from one of my recent columns. Perhaps you could point out the “trutherism,” so that you don’t just sound like a fanatic who is spewing meaningless, pre-packaged, derogatory labels at those who refuse to conform to your ideology. (I’ve highlighted the relevant section for you, and there are links to sources in my Consent Factory column.)

        So, we’re almost a year into the “New Normal” (a/k/a “pathologized totalitarianism”) and things are still looking … well, pretty totalitarian.

        Most of Western Europe is still in “lockdown,” or “under curfew,” or in some other state of “health emergency.” Police are fining and arresting people for “being outdoors without a valid reason.” Protest is still banned. Dissent is still censored. The official propaganda is relentless. Governments are ruling by edict, subjecting people to an ever-changing series of increasingly absurd restrictions of the most fundamental aspects of everyday life.

        And now, the campaign to “vaccinate” the entirety of humanity against a virus that causes mild to moderate flu-like symptoms or, more commonly, no symptoms at all, in over 95% of those infected, and that over 99% of the infected survive (and that has no real effect on age-adjusted death rates, and the mortality profile of which is more or less identical to the normal mortality profile) is being waged with literally religious fervor.

        “Vaccine passports” (which are definitely creepy, but which bear no resemblance to Aryan Ancestry Certificates, or any other fascistic apartheid-type documents, so don’t even think about making such a comparison!) are in the pipeline in a number of countries. They have already been rolled out in Israel.

        Make sure to ignore the age-and-population-adjusted death-rate statistics going back several decades (as opposed to just the last 3-5 years) so that you can confidently label me a “truther,” or “denier,” or whatever our compassionate, trustworthy leaders instruct you to label people like me today.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Sorry, your analysis is misleading.

          First, the current mortality rates are the direct result of infections being kept at a low enough level that hospitals and ICUs have capacity to treat cases. Unlike flu or most other ailments that result in a hospital stay, Covid treatments routinely run from days to weeks, with a few weeks being common. So not all that many Covid cases can tie up hospital capacity due to the length of stay. Look at what is happening in Brazil now as hospitals are overwhelmed:

          Brazil state-level daily deaths were just updated and this is what looks like for those states in which deaths are still climbing (20/27). (And no, these out-of-wack shooting red lines are not an error.) pic.twitter.com/hXbKh1fhC4— Diego Bassani, PhD 🏠😷 (@DGBassani) March 24, 2021

          Second, as we have repeatedly stressed at this site (and we are all over Covid news and medical studies), mortality is not the biggest issue with Covid. It’s morbidity. Long Covid afflicts on the order of 1/10 to 1/6 of the cases, including cases that were initially asymptomatic. People who suffer from it are effectively disabled. They suffer from severe fatigue (at best having OK days followed by can barely crawl out of bed days) and muscle pain most often, as well as brain fog, shortness of breath, digestive distress. Many can’t work or are only minimally able to work.

          A large scale observational study in Texas found that 100% of patients with symptomatic cases of Covid and 70-80% of asymptomatic cases showed lung damage on chest X-rays worse than if they’d been serious smokers. It’s possible some of the damage will abate with time but no one is betting on it.

          Covid also often damages the brain:

          However, new research is now suggesting that there may be long-term neurologic consequences in those who survive COVID infections, including more than seven million Americans and another 27 million people worldwide. Particularly troubling is increasing evidence that there may be mild — but very real — brain damage that occurs in many survivors, causing pervasive yet subtle cognitive, behavioral, and psychological problems.

          COVID can cause damage to the brain directly by encephalitis, which may have devastating or subtle consequences. In one British study of 12 patients with encephalitis, one made a full recovery, 10 made a partial recovery, and one died. This study also found that a number of patients with COVID suffered strokes. In fact, COVID infection is a risk factor for strokes. A group of Canadian doctors found that individuals over 70 years of age were at particularly high risk for stroke related to COVID infection, but even young individuals are seven times more likely to have a stroke from this coronavirus versus a typical flu virus.

          Autopsy data from COVID patients in Finland suggests that another major cause of brain damage is lack of oxygen. Particularly worrisome is that several of the patients who were autopsied did not show any signs of brain injury during the course of their COVID infection — yet all had brain damage. In one patient there was loss of taste, and in two there was “minimal respiratory distress,” but none of these patients were thought to have any brain damage while alive.

          A new study by doctors from Johns Hopkins University and Harvard Medical School found that large cells called megakaryocytes may be found in the brain capillaries of individuals who died from COVID-19 infection. Megakaryocytes make platelets — part of the body’s clotting system — and these cells should not be there. In fact, these neuropathologists had never seen megakaryocytes in the brain before, and this observation had never before been reported in the medical literature. These cells could be related to strokes observed in individuals with COVID-19.

          https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/the-hidden-long-term-cognitive-effects-of-covid-2020100821133

          And the heart:

          A growing number of studies suggest many COVID-19 survivors experience some type of heart damage, even if they didn’t have underlying heart disease and weren’t sick enough to be hospitalized. This latest twist has health care experts worried about a potential increase in heart failure.

          “Very early into the pandemic, it was clear that many patients who were hospitalized were showing evidence of cardiac injury,” said Dr. Gregg Fonarow, chief of the division of cardiology at the University of California, Los Angeles. “More recently, there is recognition that even some of those COVID-19 patients not hospitalized are experiencing cardiac injury. This raises concerns that there may be individuals who get through the initial infection, but are left with cardiovascular damage and complications.”

          Fonarow said these complications, such as myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle, could lead to an increase in heart failure down the road. He’s also concerned about people with pre-existing heart disease who don’t have COVID-19 but who avoid coming into the hospital with heart problems out of fear of being exposed to the virus.

          https://www.heart.org/en/news/2020/09/03/what-covid-19-is-doing-to-the-heart-even-after-recovery

          And kidneys:

          COVID-19 can damage the kidneys and increase patients’ risk of needing kidney dialysis, researchers report.

          The study authors also warned that doctors should prepare for a significant rise in chronic kidney disease cases due to the pandemic.

          For the study, the investigators analyzed data from nearly 4,000 COVID-19 patients, aged 18 and older, hospitalized at the Mount Sinai Health System in New York City between Feb. 27 and May 30, 2020.

          Acute kidney injury (AKI) occurred in 46% of the patients, and one-fifth of those required dialysis, according to the study published Sept. 3 in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

          https://www.webmd.com/lung/news/20200914/covid-19-takes-heavy-toll-on-kidneys

          The picture you are painting is utterly misleading and destructive.

          1. CJ Hopkins

            I would honestly like to know what you consider “misleading” about the picture I have painted, or perhaps what picture you think it is I am painting.

            I have never claimed that the bug isn’t a bug or that it doesn’t make people sick, and some of them die. People have gotten sick and died in New York, Rome, and in Florida, and Sweden.

            My point, from the beginning, has been that there is no empirical evidence of any public health threat that remotely justifies canceling our constitutional rights, governments ruling by decree, goon squads beating and arresting people for being outdoors or not wearing masks, massive censorship, medical apartheid, and the other “emergency measures” we have been subjected to for over a year, and the immense but currently incalculable damage that those “emergency measures” have done, and are doing to society and to individual human beings.

            At the outset of all this, I asked, begged, New Normal fanatics to provide me with any actual evidence of such a health threat, i.e., one that justifies what I described above. In response, I have received numerous “studies,” articles, cherry-picked statistics, speculation, unsupported claims, emotional anecdotes, insults, death wishes, and a few actual death threats … but no concrete evidence that can possibly justify what has been done to our societies, to people, to children.

            This damage is being done, not by a virus, but by governments, corporations, “experts,” and the masses who are cooperating with them. I’m sorry that my refusal to conform to the official narrative on faith angers people (trust me, I am tired of the daily abuse I get from the faithful), but I cannot condone what is being done, especially not when there are clear examples that it isn’t necessary.

            Of course there are viruses. There have always been viruses. Some of them are very nasty. But we don’t need a “New Normal” (a radical restructuring of society, medical apartheid, etc.) because of a virus. If you find that observation “misleading” and “destructive” … well, I’m not sure what else I can say.

            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              Perhaps the misleadingness was in your careful non-mention of evolving knowledge of the long-term morbidity profile among non-immediate diers-from-covid.

              Perhaps the misleadingness was in your hope that no one would mention the things Yves Smith mentioned in the comment just above your reply to her comment.
              But your little plan has been foiled by her mention of those very things.

              And your misleadingness continues in your studied avoidance of the long-term
              health issues she raised. And in the clouds of “unconstitutional this” and ” tyranny that” squid ink you emit in hopes of distracting from your continued misleadingness on the unfolding and slow-rolling impacts of covid.

              1. CJ Hopkins

                I see. So, my devious, Covid-denying “plan” was to thank Yves for linking to my column in order to provoke some fanatic into calling me a “truther,” so that I could pretend to object to that mischaracterization in order to “carefully not mention” the “long-term morbidity” that there is no conclusive proof of (it being only a year into the long term), while distracting readers of these comments from my misleading “avoidance” of that issue by focusing on silly things like, oh, police goon squads raiding families’ homes because their neighbors reported them for having too many friends over for dinner, governments suspending constitution rights and ruling by decree, not to mention the medical apartheid system now being implemented … yes, your analysis sounds perfectly rational, and not at all paranoid or fanatical. You should probably report me to the DHS, as I am clearly some sort of “domestic extremist,” spreading “vaccine hesitancy” in order to increase “long-term morbidity” in “non-immediate diers from Covid,” or whatever. Thank God Yves foiled my plan!

                1. Lambert Strether

                  At long last we have an answer to the question of whether God can make irony so heavy he can’t lift it. So this entire thread has not been for naught.

                  Personally, I think this “New Normal” concept — if I may so denote your views — gives entirely too much credit to our failed state for the ability to plan and execute (“the most persistent principles of the universe were accident and error”). Our overlords, IMNSHO, manage a portfolio of profitable “solutions” that they apply as opportunities present themselves. A classic example here is the USA PATRIOT Act, hundreds of pages stashed in a drawer somewhere, pulled out and passed when the opportunity presented itself.

                  In other words, most of what you object to has been long in the works in any case, or already exists; indeed, you prove my point with “domestic extremist,” since the Capitol seizure provides the same sort of opportunity for authoritarian measures as Covid. Snitching is happening not only with Covid (I think your example, for which you do not provide a link, comes from the UK) but with the woke. “Medical apartheid” already exists between rural and urban, rich and poor, Medicaid and non-Medicaid, and so on.

                  The difficulty comes in one of your earlier comments: “the masses who are cooperating with them.” In reality, the “masses” — always a bullshit tell — is not a monolith, but fractured. Indeed, some are not cooperating (“the right to infect others shall not be infringed, especially during a pandemic”) and some are. The proportion is probably something like 40/60, being generous to the non-cooperators. I don’t see how you get the 60, the cooperators, to die on the hill of preventing your so-called New Normal, because the price is too great. Even if they themselves do not die, their children and family members, to whom they owe a duty of care, might. Perhaps a different ground for the same battle would be more likely to bring success.

                  In any case, I look forward to reading your blog occasionally, as you seek to further clarify your ideas.

            2. Futility

              Confronted with Yves’ observation that the mortality is kept low by the very measures you deem ‘tyrannical’ and the obvious results now visible in Brazil of failing to implement such measures, you still downplay Covid’s death potential by writing that ‘some die’ who get the ‘bug’. This can only be labeled misleading. Claiming that ‘studies’ present only cherry-picked data without providing any evidence and using scare quotes also clearly indicates that you simply discard information that does not fit your preconceived notion of the world. The evidence is very clear: if unchecked the virus will cause mayhem (NC is full of links to corroborate this claim.).
              This is not to say that a lot of how governments have responded cannot be criticized. The confused response in Germany (where I reside) is highly unsettling and caused a lot of unnecessary pain which understandably created frustration. But claiming that ‘medical apartheid’ is taking your freedom away is just silly (and also betrays a lack of understanding of what apartheid really entailed.) On a recent demonstration against the ‘tyrannical emergency measures’ in Kassel (Germany), people claimed that they are now forced to live like in North-Korea, completely oblivious to the fact that they claim this publicly on a demonstration, something they would be thrown into jail for or worse in NK. These people are highly un-self-aware to the point of self-parody.

            3. Lambert Strether

              > I would honestly like to know what you consider “misleading”

              Throwing Covid into the same bucket as flu, as “a virus that causes mild to moderate flu-like symptoms” strikes me as being absurdly misleading. It also seems that you didn’t actually read Yves’ comment, where she discusses damage to the brain, kidneys, and heart.

          2. Skip Intro

            Thank you Yves. I’ve long regarded CJ as a treasure, and was particularly struck by his observation about blatantly false propaganda serving as a loyalty test and in-group marker. It is thus more than just a bit ironic that this comprehensive smackdown was necessary. Pointing to the success of drastic measures as evidence that the measures are unnecessary is a pretty basic error. Thanks for taking the time to nail this counterargument.

        2. Lambert Strether

          > mild to moderate flu-like symptoms

          Dude. CDC estimates that 12,000 and 61,000 deaths annually since 2010 can be blamed on the flu. We’re at 546,000 with Covid, which is — [breaks out calculator] — an order of magnitude difference (even if one quibbles over the numbers). To be fair, death may not be a symptom. So there’s that. (There’s also lung scarring, long Covid, etc.)

          I view the “just a flu” talking point as not only wrong, but pernicious, since it could lead the gullible, naive, or hubristic into not taking measures to protect themselves, and, just as importantly, others (since transmission is asympomatic). I’m disappointed to see it not only repeated, but bolded.

      3. anEnt

        If we had competent and civically minded government then we could expect that government would take the painful steps needed to contain and ameliorate the pandemic. Since we don’t have competent and civically minded government Florida’s lack of measures is almost a rational alternative that produced similar results. I wonder when those of us in locked down states will realize our sacrifices in the name of the pandemic have been utterly squandered and whether (hopefully) we will exact electoral revenge on our political leadership.

        The refusal of government to admit to aerosol transmission and adapt its reopening guidelines to that reality along with retrofitting / sun setting essential facilities (schools, factories, hospitals, etc.) has placed tremendous real costs on all of us with no benefit to show for it. The thing is outrageous and we ought to be outraged.

  2. John A

    Re: Foreign holidays will be ILLEGAL from Monday: New Covid laws mean £5,000 fines for anyone leaving the UK without ‘reasonable excuse’..

    One of the ‘reasonable excuses’ is having a second home abroad that you ‘need’ to visit either to sell, rent out or otherwise manage.

      1. flora

        I’m starting to hear young people say in passing to friends, “You need to get off facebook.” That’s a change from the old rah-rah about fb.

    1. Maritimer

      Who will be Minister of Reasonable Excuses and Essential Business? (David “Greensill” Cameron or Tony “WMD” Blair are available.)

    1. The Rev Kev

      When he started to talk about his wife and his widowed mother in that very long tearful speech, I was in tears myself I tells ya, tears. Of course it did not last long. Afterward he was asked a question by a Sky News reporter and Scotty from Marketing in reply tried to out a supposed sexual harassment case at that reporter’s organization. Turns out there was no such complaint. Do’h!-

      https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2021/mar/23/scott-morrison-warns-journalists-to-be-careful-with-questions-as-he-publicly-airs-media-harassment-claim

  3. zagonostra

    >Hedges: The Evil Within Us – ScheerPost

    I’ve been reading Chris Hedges for a long time and for the most part I am congenial to his views.. Truthdig used to be one of my morning stops during my coffee and news intake hour before it died an ignoble death. But, I can’t go along with the concluding paragraph in this article. Yes, we all deal with the potential for evil that is always present within us and that threatens to manifest itself in times of duress. For the Christian, original sin is part of the catechism taught to us in elementary school or through parent’s tutelage.

    I think there is something to Rupert Sheldrake’s notion of “Morphic Resonance,” where what happens to one member of the species, in some inexplicable way, affects all members. But, “responsibility” is of a different order. I am not responsible for the murders committed by a sole assailant who exercised his free will to do evil. I think there is the potential for an “all are responsible” viewpoint leading to none are “guilty.”

    Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel said that “some are guilty, but all are responsible.” We may not be guilty of the murders in Atlanta, but we are responsible. We must answer for them. We must accept the truth about ourselves, however unpleasant.

    1. Miami Mitch

      Does this help clear it up?

      “We are the world. The world is you and me, the world is not separate from you and me. We have created this world – the world of violence, the world of wars, the world of religious divisions, sex, anxieties, the utter lack of communication with each other, with no sense of compassion, consideration for another. Wherever one goes in any country throughout the world, human beings, that is, you and another, suffer; we are anxious, we are uncertain, we don’t know what is going to happen. Everything has become uncertain. Right through the world as human beings we are in sorrow, fear, anxiety, violence, uncertain of everything, insecure. There is a common relationship between us all. We are the world essentially, basically, fundamentally. The world is you, and you are the world. Realizing that fundamentally, deeply, not romantically, not intellectually but actually, then we see that our problem is a global problem. It is not my problem or your particular problem, it is a human problem.”

      -Jiddu Krisnamurti

      If you do not settle the conflict in yourself, the conflicts of the world will never end. So we all need to engage in the spiritual work. The spiritual work that is denied by the evangelical pastors. Those Evangelical pastors all say the problem is “out there”, so that is where the congregants spend their energy. The idea has nothing to do with Morphic Resonance. It has to do with how we think and how those thoughts are passed on generation after generation.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        I agree….like the Greater Jihad is the struggle within oneself.
        the Jihad the neocons, et al. get worked up about is the Lesser.
        one of my favorite films…and fodder for much moral discourse when my boys were young:
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n_JfUsCJK_4

        and:
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SvJFoOEOYpE

        there’s plenty of evil in the world, but that doesn’t mean we must contribute to it…let alone ignore it or dismiss it.
        I can do little about some guy wanting to shoot up a walmart, or grand nebulous Power bombing the crap out of some sandy place…but i can hold the door for someone…or stop and help change a tire, even when i know the flat haver is a racist ass.
        thanks to whomever it was here who turned me on to this…which sums up my feelings on the matter:
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vI35mXr3IC4

        1. Miami Mitch

          The point Krishnamurti makes is that if you do not resolve the conflict in yourself, nothing will change. Holding a door for someone “to make the world a better place” has evil sewn inside of its little pocket. And it has been done for generations and nothing has changed. It is one thing to teach a child to be kind, but can you teach it kindness?

          I do not expect one to understand this without a lot of thinking about it so I will cut my commentary here.

          1. QuicksilverMessenger

            > “I do not expect one to understand this without a lot of thinking about it”

            Krishnamurti: “To free the mind from all conditioning, you must see the totality of it without thought”.

            I’m not a defender or acolyte of Krishnamurti, but what is your understanding of “spiritual work”? Indeed, how does one even begin to approach this action of separating ‘mind from mind’, a liberation from deep identification and deep conditioning?

            Can you see your mask? Can you see that often times the ideas and the people we defend, the ‘work’ we purport to insist that others engage in, turns out actually to be a literal defense of oneself? It clearly shouts “Me!” the loudest. Thus we are always stuck here on the same level, even in the name of the “spirit”.

            1. Jason

              There is the tale of the far eastern mystic who studied under all the great masters and himself went alone into the misty mount to contemplate forever and a day. Upon returning to the village, he was taken by many to be a sort of guru of enlightenment, though he never sought such attention.

              Indeed, removed from any remnant of culture or society and alone with his own thoughts, he had experienced more than a few truly enlightened states. Of course, he was also intelligent, well-rounded, sensitive, and quite practical despite his outwardly philosophical demeanor.

              What the people wanted to know – more than anything else by far – was how to attain even some measure of enlightenment.

              They had read the words of many great minds through the ages and had personally inquired of many spiritual masters over the years, yet they never received a useful answer.

              The man thought for a moment and said, “I can’t tell you how to reach enlightenment but I can tell you that if you if you ever feel you like you have reached enlightenment you should immediately go spend a weekend with your family.”

      2. cocomaan

        I work with a lot of Christian fundamentalists who are ultimately extremely conservative. They do spiritual work on themselves daily. I understand the impulse of Hedges’ article and the quote above, but we need to be careful. Painting with the broadest of brushes like Hedges is doing doesn’t help. It’s not identifying the problem, it’s wrapping millions of people into affairs with which they have no experience with at all.

        I used to like Hedges, but if this is the kind of stuff he’s going to put out these days, it’s not all that interesting to me. Feels a lot like punching down instead of punching up.

        1. Miami Mitch

          Hedges says; “Those who blind themselves to their capacity for evil commit evil not for evil’s sake, but to make a better world.”

          I see this evil everyday, people trying to make a better world, not for everyone, but for themselves or their family or their country. And I see the evil they do. Little evils that they create in their binary world of good and bad. Like the Mom’s Facebook Group that was passing around how to get vaccinations for themselves but not for vulnerable people. To me that is evil.

          If Hedges is not giving what you want anymore maybe that is your problem as well. No evangelical christian is doing the work I spoke of. And not even Buddhists are doing it now. Binary thought is a cultural problem that needs to be solved since it creates fear in everyone. And it is that fear that drives violence.

          1. cocomaan

            Nah, don’t buy it. I have met incredible people who are evangelicals and others who aren’t. I’ve also met people who are one step away from evil who are totally secular. Writing articles saying that millions of people of a certain group are personally responsible for abstract evils is a little silly.

            When Hedges dedicates his life not to selling books or having his own TV shows, I’ll start taking his polemics seriously.

            1. Pelham

              Agreed. Some of the nicest, calmest, most level-headed people I’ve ever met are evangelicals and Pentecostals. Others, however, not so much.

          2. Jason

            If Hedges is not giving what you want anymore maybe that is your problem as well.

            Actually, what’s going on here is that you’re quite emotionally tied to Hedges and thus any criticism of him is a criticism of you.

            it’s not lost on many that the more Chris Hedges talks the more self-righteous he becomes. There is no indication that he’s undergone any sort of spiritual experience on a personal level that would tamp down his own insatiable ego requirements. Thus, he scolds those who have seen through the ego game. He hasn’t, so it’s imperative that everyone get back on board to save the world with Chris.

            Jim Dore asked Hedges last spring if he was worried at all for his own life given the work he does. Hedges subtly scoffed and said he has a Canadian wife and Swiss passport, so…

            So, when the proverbial s**t really hits the fan, we know where Chris will be: making love to his Canadian wife wherever his Swiss passport allows them to roam. I imagine he’ll send his students in jail – the ones he constantly evokes in his own interest more so than theirs – a postcard from wherever he is.

            Incidentally, It’s hard to get a Swiss passport. You or I would have to live in the country for at least a decade. Do they just give them out to verbose war correspondents?

            Anyway, Hedges is penning another book (surprise). You should definitely buy it. Property taxes are obscene in Princeton, NJ.

            1. bassmule

              Fellas and gals…religious fanatics have been with us since forever. The easy accessibility of assault weapons in the US is kind of a problem too, no? If Hedges wants a real villain, let him look to the NRA.

              1. Baldanders

                The NRA is admittedly despicable, but their influence at this point is about as overblown as that of the hypothetical American “far left.”

                They were very influential—but now every NRA member has the same “absolutely no compromise” positions as the NRA, and they won’t vote for anyone who deviates from that position.

                If the NRA evaporated right now, it wouldn’t change US politics one bit.

                (Not to mention any half-aware NRA member is perfectly aware how awful and corrupt the leadership is. The current parasites in charge have done a great job of making themselves impossible to eject by changing the bylaws. But much like the DNC and lefties “we have no choice!”)

                This 2a supporter doesn’t give a dime to the NRA, because I think their racist bilge does the movement more harm than good. But I also vote for anti-gun candidates, because single-issue voting is for the easily manipulated. So I’m certainly not the typical 2a extremist.

                And I certainly am a 2a extremist by current standards. I support ending St. Ronnie’s 1986 actual assault weapon ban, and ending the NFA registration list.

                IMO, all weapons bans are ultimately about keeping guns out of the hands of folks with lesser economic means. This is the effect of training requirements as well.

                1. JBird4049

                  Some of the very first gun laws were those that restricted Blacks and the occasional (poor) White in the South before the American Civil War. Those proto-police, the Slave Patrol, did night time patrols and made sure that everyone had their papers in order. Just like in Nazi occupied territories, Soviet controlled land, or some other authoritarian regime.

                  I get why many people want guns banned. I just wish that people would read some history on the subject especially American.

                  1. Yves Smith Post author

                    I’m sorry but this narrative that guns make you safer is just false. I lived in NYC and Australia, both of which are tough on guns. I felt at no risk interceding in domestic violence and other heated arguments as a result. I would never in a million years do that in, say, Dallas.

                    And the evidence is overwhelming that gun owners are vastly more likely to hurt/kill themselves or have a family member die from a gun they own than protect themselves. That picture is made worse by the fact that way too many think it’s fine to shoot someone to protect property.

                    1. Basil Pesto

                      And the evidence is overwhelming that gun owners are vastly more likely to hurt/kill themselves or have a family member die from a gun they own than protect themselves. That picture is made worse by the fact that way too many think it’s fine to shoot someone to protect property.

                      Facts which, of course, allow for a reversal of Baldanders and others ‘arm the poors’ argument, which can then become “let’s arm the poors so they keep killing each other in the background”.

                      An equally tenuous and tendentious argument, perhaps, but there seems to be a hell of a lot more of that than armed resistance to state/aristocratic tyranny.

                    2. JBird4049

                      I don’t think, nor did I say, that having more guns automatically makes you safer. If they did, the United States would be a very safe place, which I am not seeing; I did say:

                      “I get why many people want guns banned. I just wish that people would read some history on the subject especially American.”

                      I should have added “…want guns banned” or kept because historical (and cultural) ignorance is a thing among Americans. Guns are no exception.

                      Epanding on what I meant about knowing history is knowing the reasons and causes for why things were decided or done in a particular way. For example, expanding or denying gun ownership was and is thought of a good means of control either of the elites or of the general population. It is also a mirror reflecting who is in power and what their fears are.

                      For the past four centuries, one of the things that the elites do in America is to seize or restrict gun ownership from the oppressed du jour. Native Americans, Black (slaves), poor Whites, abolitionists, union activities, socialists, reformers. Whoever threatened the elites’ power or ability to steal.

                      You can also include the British Army before and during the American War of Independence; this is why the idea of a guarantee of an armed population able to resist “tyranny” as well as an very small army was considered necessary.

                      Now we have large, numerous and heavily armed gendarmeries as well as an extremely powerful military that serves no real function. They certainty aren’t meant to protect us.

                      Too often when gun usage and ownership are “debated” , people emote unthinking rage and spout gibberish programmed into them while either seeming to think that everyone should have personal RPGs and heavy machine guns mounted on their cars or that having a BB gun is evidence of being a crazed, wannabe murderer.

                      This is just a great way to dehumanize the other half of the nation and is a great distraction from actually doing the hard work of fixing things including depowering the extremely powerful and corrupt elites of this country and not doing easy, entertaining mental and emotional masturbatory fantasies. The lack of historical knowledge impedes the former and propels the latter.

                    3. Lambert Strether

                      > For the past four centuries, one of the things that the elites do in America is to seize or restrict gun ownership from the oppressed du jour. Native Americans, Black (slaves), poor Whites, abolitionists, union activities, socialists, reformers. Whoever threatened the elites’ power or ability to steal.

                      I would like evidence that gun ownership was restricted for abolitionists (!), union activists, socialists, and reformers. (Policing people with obvious ascriptive identities like Native Americans, or Blacks, or even class markers, like poor Whites, is a lot easier than policing people based on ideology. As for poor whites, I suspect poverty was a far more effective way of keeping guns out of their hands than policing.

                      Personally, I’m with that well-known leftist, Warren Burger, who (in 1990 (!)) wrote that guns should be licensed like cars. This seems to be to be the sort of solution that “responsible gun owners” would be on board with.

      3. Maurice

        Rather than spiritual, a better word might be holistically. We cannot create a spiritual world or work separate from our self and our relationship to it and others. Agree 100 %

        1. youme

          ‘In the quantum field of Ultimate Reality, there is only one of us here. Attacking anyone is attacking ourselves; forgiving anyone is forgiving ourselves. Generosity and mercy are simply forms of self-care.’ Marianne Williamson

      4. zagonostra

        Where does “guilt” and “responsibility” enter in Jiddu Krisnamurti’s statement? These are the words that stuck in my craw in Hedge’s article. There is truth in Nietzsche’s discussion of the internalization of “responsibility” in his book, “Genealogy of Morals” where he traces it back to economic exchange and paying off of one’s debts.

        I see no conflict between “morphic resonance” and engaging in “spiritual work”, if true it it can only aid in “awakening” consciousness.

    2. Temporarily Sane

      Chris Hedges worked as a war reporter for many years. People who live through or experience war know that civilization is very fragile indeed and that when it fails ordinary people can and do turn into savage, subhuman beasts who inflict pain and suffering on their fellow humans in ways that someone living in a peaceful society can not even begin to imagine.

      Given the tensions in present-day American society and the animosities that lurk just underneath the surface, it’s not too crazy to think a catastrophic or unexpected event that breaks the social order could unleash some very ugly forces.

      There is no such thing as a wholly ‘evil’ person or a wholly ‘good’ person. We all have the capacity for both within us. How an individual behaves depends largely on the circumstances in which they live. When circumstances change, so do individuals.

      Having witnessed or experienced the dark side of human nature it’s impossible to go back to pretending that only “those people over there” have a capacity for savagery or that “something like that could never happen here.”

      My favorite is “bad things happened then but we’re much more civilized now.” Yeah we are, until we’re not.

  4. PlutoniumKun

    The simple food that fights climate change BBC

    There have been many studies over the years indicating that farmed filter feeder shellfish, in particular mussels, are maybe the most environmentally benign of all food sources. They are a positive benefit in many situations and require little to no inputs. Plus, they seem to be very healthy. I’ve no proof for this, but I’ve had a personal theory for years that the reason shellfish seem to have nutrients that are so important for humans is that early hominids were basically vegetarian insectivores, and that shellfish are essentially replacing the grubs and insects we probably should be eating. For example, vegetarians/vegans tend to be low on zinc, while shellfish is a very rich source of zinc. I’ve often thought that mainstream veggie/vegans have made a major error in deciding that shellfish don’t qualify as vegetables.

    But given that we know that bottom dreading for shellfish is enormously environmentally damaging, in a sensible world we’d be funding fishermen to turn to shellfish farming instead of dredging for scallops or similar crustaceans, or for that matter, farming prawns.

    1. Louis Fyne

      yes, early humans were nominally “hunter-gatherers”, but pre-tech hunting was such an inefficient expense of calories versus rewards (barring certain short times of the year) that they should have been called gatherers-root_diggers-scavengers-hunters.

      per evidence from studies of aboriginal hunters in Africa, South America, Australia. Ir just as a deer or duck hunter or fisherman.

    2. tomk

      In my experience the farmed mussels don’t have the flavor of wild ones from the same bay. Of course you don’t have the pearls breaking your teeth either. Dredging is awful of course but there’s nothing wrong with manual gathering. The mussel farm in my neighborhood is noisy, unsightly (rings of huge yellow buoys, and the diesel barge is often running as they harvest and wash the mussels.

    3. Brian (another one they call)

      I assume that the world has voted to further destroy the ocean’s ability to support the life that exists there, for the sake of what some people put on their plate. Humans, what in the world are you thinking? No one asked me about the vote. I suspect it was another deep thought exercise by the simple solution folks that are never held to account for their ‘largesse’.
      When the life in the ocean is impaired, the world is impaired. We are a short sighted lot, rushing toward our end if it is tasty enough. The pie hole is not all important, no matter what the growling says to each of us.

    4. JTMcPhee

      Filter feeders do have some risks associated with them. Zebra mussels, a successful species, strip the water column and starve other species, and have proven impossible to contain. They also pose major problems for water intakes from clogging as they busily proliferate. https://www.usgs.gov/faqs/what-are-zebra-mussels-and-why-should-we-care-about-them

      And who will watch the new billions of pounds of such shellfish to determine levels of pathogens and toxins they contain, in a world where cheating and fraud are the dominant ethics? The EPA, which after massive effort occasionally produces a “shellfish consumption advisory,” where dozens of EPA staff (some of whom are Fifth Columnists subtly or not so subtly serving corporate interests and career plans) and making the job even harder) have to deal with the inputs from commercial, corporate, and political interests that virulently resist even publishing such advisories, let alone any attempts to ban the consumption of shellfish and finfish that carry pathogens and toxins?

      Here’s EPA’s explainer on its advisories, https://www.epa.gov/choose-fish-and-shellfish-wisely/fish-and-shellfish-advisories-and-safe-eating-guidelines

      This is even weaker tea than what was in place when I worked at EPA in the late 70s-late 80s, and we attempted,, over many years, to just get a consumption and warning advisory in place for fish in the Tittabawassee River and Saginaw Bay due to pollutants from Dow Chemical’s plant in Midland, MI and other industrial and agricultural sources. These fish were an important subsistence food source for low-income people, as well as sport fishermens. Dow fought tooth and nail, and the bosses at the Michigan Department of Natural Resources joined with them, in fighting even a gentle warning.

      And consider that a huge amount of the specialty fish you get at a restaurant or even a seafood shop is fraudulently identified — so your “sea bass or snapper” may be some bottom-feeding trash fish that has bioaccumulated industrial and agricultural toxins to add a little frisson to your palate-pleasing dish: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/article/study-finds-seafood-mislabeled-illegal

      There are no panaceas, no easy answers to how 8 or more billion humans can live on the planet without killing it. Juicing up bivalve “production” with all the political-power-generating wealth effects will as usual tend to bury any negatives, https://shellfish.ifas.ufl.edu/wp-content/uploads/Environmental-Effects-of-Shellfish-Aquaculture-in-the-Northeast.pdf

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Just for clarity, zebra mussels are not farmed or fished. They are entirely different from blue mussels, which are the species you find with fries in your nearest Belgian bar.

        All filter feeders of course have some potential for food poisoning, but mussels in general are safe as they prefer open and fast flowing water. Health issues are mostly associated with estuarine shellfish such as oysters (as I know well from one ruined Christmas eve).

      2. Swamp Yankee

        Aquaculture has been great for our local bays here in Southeastern Mass., both in terms of water quality, and boosting the local fishing economy. It’s also bringing back old traditions — clams from this region, with 10+ foot tides twice a day, were actually shipped in ice cut from local kettle ponds and sawdust from local sawmills to Europe — “Plymouth clams” were sold to haute cuisine restaurants in Paris and London going back to the 1850s.

        Also, your comment, JTMcPhee, about the Saginaw Valley and Bay also strike a chord with me; I wrote one of my seminar papers in grad school at UMich on the history and development of the Saginaw Country, 1800-1870. Researching that, I came across a story in “The Michigan Messenger” (I believe an African-American newspaper) about a Dow Chemical fish fry in Midland, on the Tittabawassee River. The fish caught from the river were so unsafe to eat that Dow imported Pacific cod for its employees. What did it do with the contaminated fish? Donated them to a local food bank!

        The park where the fish fry took place is so polluted that visitors are instructed not to walk barefooted on the sand.

    5. drumlin woodchuckles

      We might even foster massive shellfish growth strictly for the carbon sequestration effect, even if we don’t eat them at all.

      Since oyster larvae need something hard and solid to attach to before they can begin eating and growing their carbon-rich shells, what would be a way to fill zones of shallow seawater with as much oyster fixation points as possible short of harming other sea life? Would that sea-based ” electro-concrete” technology of running a current through submerged bare-metal scaffolding structures to coat them with calcium carbonate give oyster larvae the sort of attachment points they need? If so, then perhaps we could “grow” huge miles-long 3-D cats cradle webworks of calcium carbonate oyster-attachment-point support structures.

  5. Kevin Smith

    Having been an investigator in a bunch of clinical trials, I can tell you for sure that being economical with the truth [economical avec la vérité], or slow to inform the authorities about a problem, is the absolute kiss of death for a clinical trial or for a company.

    Regulators take the view that: “There’s never just ONE cockroach!” and can [quite rightly, in my view] subject the trial/company to deep, intense, prolonged scrutiny; both to satisfy themselves as to the facts, send a message to the investigators/sponsor; and “pour encourager les autres” [https://wordhistories.net/2016/10/22/pour-encourager-les-autres/].

  6. Samuel Conner

    re: “sounds of nature”

    I’ve been potting up plants indoors (I started my starts a couple of weeks too early, over-compensating for a too late start in 2020. I’m now getting into the “the plants are, functionally, my boss” phase of the Spring) with south-facing windows open. A variety of bird song comes in, and even the sound of the breeze in the branches is relaxing. One doesn’t have to go to a national park to get some of the mental health benefits of interacting with the natural world.

    Between the Winter and COVID, it feels like the last normal Spring was a century ago.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Of course not everybody can get to a National Park but I would have thought by now that it would be standard to pipe in natural sounds into homes. When Gene Roddenberry was designing the USS Enterprise back in the 1960s, he noted how for tens of thousands of years we have lived with natural sounds going on all around us and it was not natural to have nothing but stuff like machinery making noises. So he envisioned that on a 23rd century starship that there would be subliminal natural sounds always in the background for mental health. I think that he had a valid point and you would think that in the 21st century it would be common to have this in most homes but apparently not. I have to confess that on hot, dry days around here during the summer, I sometimes load up a natural rain track in a background tab and let it play on a quiet level-

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UhZOsmO9JMs

  7. Henry Moon Pie

    Here’s why we love Democrats. For some reason, they think it’s very clever to delay sending the $1,400 to people on SS who don’t file tax returns. Since the IRS has been put in charge of distributing the money, they claim they are having to wait to get the necessary info from the SS Administration. It didn’t seem to delay the money when Trump and Mnuchin were in charge, did it?

    It made me wonder if there’s some kind of information firewall between the IRS and SS that the Biden-ites are trying to breach and/or manipulate SS-dependent oldsters into giving up info to the IRS.

    The news is getting out (https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2021/03/22/irs-sending-second-1400-stimulus-payments/). Many of the people affected here on the East Side of Cleveland are part of Biden’s “base.”

    1. BobW

      On Social Security, below income limit to file tax. I got the first stimulus check quickly, but never did get the second one. I had to file a federal tax return and am now waiting for the $600 to come as a “refund.” I suppose I’m good now for the third distribution. We’ll see.

      1. Laura in So Cal

        So my Dad (Age 79) who files electronically including having refunds post to his checking account received a paper check for the 1st round of stimulus and received an EBT card for the 2nd round which he promptly shredded because it looked like a scam. He gets tons of scammy mail. It wasn’t until he received a letter saying that he hadn’t activated his card that he realized what happened. He called and they are sending him another card which will be a hassle to deal with instead of a check which would have been straightforward. He talked to his church group which is mostly little old ladies and at least 3 other people did the same thing. He passed around the number to call to get a new card. He hasn’t received the 3rd stimulus yet.

        I also file electronically and receive refunds to my checking account and all 3 stimulus posted directly to my checking account right away. I have no idea what the criteria is.

    2. Estuary

      Do the guests at various state and federal incarceration facilities pay any SS on their meager earnings from doing laundry, making license plates, furniture or whatever income tasks may occupy their time?

      Are the identities, and still-alive status, of $1,400 check recipients cross-checked with the list of above guests or any others?

  8. fresno dan

    Sidney Powell says ‘no reasonable person’ would take her election fraud claims as fact as she calls to toss $1.3bn Dominion suit RT (Kevin W)
    I’m not a lawyer, but aren’t attorneys “officers of the court” and are duty bound to follow canons that include not putting forth arguments that they themselves believe are preposterous?
    It will be interesting if Powell will suffer any significant repercussions (I am skeptical that any professional societies can actually take any real action against high level members.)

    1. shtove

      It was amusing to watch Giuliani make his scatter-gun case on electoral fraud in front of the cameras, then pitch up in court when the issues were joined to enter so many no-contests. Like watching a boxer mouthing off in a pre-bout press conference, before creeping around the ring to the final bell, elbows tucked, head down.

      His ‘trial by battle’ cry is another matter, but the case against him seems to have retired from the arena on its shield.

    2. Geo

      This news makes me wish Parlor was still active. Had an account on there just to check it out and it was truly a magical place of unhinged fairytales and the fever-dreams of drama queens who long ago lost their tethering to provable reality. But, would be fun to see their reactions to the woman they were so excitedly expecting to “release the Kraken” (seriously, it was a mantra repeated often on that site) as she tells the courts that anyone who believed her is “unreasonable”.

      I have no idea how to ever wrangle the large sectors of our society who have wandered so far from reality (and, as I’ve said before, I empathize with conspiracy theorists of all stripes) but if having all your leaders publicly denounce you as deluded and unreasonable doesn’t make one question their choices, nothing will.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        I cannot promise you that Sidney Powell’s latest declaration in court will make the Qanons and Trumpanons change their minds, but I suspect with a fairly high degree of confidence that it won’t.

        Just as I suspect that nothing will change Clintanon minds about ” Russia elected Trump”.

    3. JTMcPhee

      The federal courts and most state courts have a Rule 11 that is supposed to deter bullshit pleadings, but generally does not:

      Rule 11 – Signing pleadings, motions, and other papers

      (a) Signature. Every pleading, written motion, and other paper must be signed by at least one attorney of record in the attorney’s name—or by a party personally if the party is unrepresented. The paper must state the signer’s address, e-mail address, and telephone number. Unless a rule or statute specifically states otherwise, a pleading need not be verified or accompanied by an affidavit. The court must strike an unsigned paper unless the omission is promptly corrected after being called to the attorney’s or party’s attention.

      (b) Representations to the Court. By presenting to the court a pleading, written motion, or other paper—whether by signing, filing, submitting, or later advocating it—an attorney or unrepresented party certifies that to the best of the person’s knowledge, information, and belief, formed after an inquiry reasonable under the circumstances: (1) it is not being presented for any improper purpose, such as to harass, cause unnecessary delay, or needlessly increase the cost of litigation; (2) the claims, defenses, and other legal contentions are warranted by existing law or by a nonfrivolous argument for extending, modifying, or reversing existing law or for establishing new law; (3) the factual contentions have evidentiary support or, if specifically so identified, will likely have evidentiary support after a reasonable opportunity for further investigation or discovery; and (4) the denials of factual contentions are warranted on the evidence or, if specifically so identified, are reasonably based on belief or a lack of information…. https://crushendo.com/frcp-11/

      The sanctions part of the rule (not excerpted here) has been so weakened by corporate and Big Law intervention over the years as to render it pretty much meaningless. For a while, Rule 11 motions were aggressively used by litigants to harass and drown public-spirited litigation, and in tit-for-tat warfare in big cases, to the extent that reining in the “Rule 11 practice” was needed. Of course that was the opening for inimical interests to warp the rule in their favor

      1. km

        Unless my memory is failing, Powell, for the most part, did not allege election fraud in court. Rule 11 doesn’t stop Powell from running her mouth elsewhere.

        1. marym

          The complaints she filed in the AZ, GA, MI, and WI Kraken court cases allege fraud. Detroit has filed a motion for sanctions in the MI case.

  9. The Rev Kev

    “Tiananmen Square, Uyghur Court: Tower Hamlets plans name changes in solidarity”

    Well of course the Chinese are annoyed by this sort of crap. In reply, they have sent a strongly worded letter of protest to the UK government about this Mickey Mouse sort of behaviour of local authorities. But in that letter it also asked that the address details for the UK Embassy in Beijng be updated. The new address should read as-

    11 Chagossian Road,
    (between Craig Murray Road & Assange Way)
    Chaoyang, Beijing,
    China, 100600

    1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield

      During the Vietnam War, the street outside the U.S. Consulate in Calcutta (now Kolkata) was changed to Ho Chi Minh Sarani and remains so to this day.

      1. skippy

        Bush Jr kicked the doors wide open and not unlike the Oz LNP went from middle of the road Liberal [backsliding FDR sort] to full blown Biblical Conservative where what is promoted by the front of the house is a facade for what happens in the back of the house.

        In both cases Murdoch greased minds with moralistic platitudes for the unwashed so they could rise up and cleanse the world … then some will bang on sun up to sun down about people being erased from history …

  10. PlutoniumKun

    U.S. Health Officials Question AstraZeneca Vaccine Trial Results New York Times.

    While all the indications I’ve seen are that the AZ vaccine is at least as safe and effective as the others, I think its becoming quite clear that they made too many mistakes in the development process (not least getting the doses badly wrong in the original trials) which seems to have led to some genuine concern in the regulatory bodies about whether or not they can believe the data. Of course, this is all getting badly mixed up with trade and nationalistic issues. Whatever way you look at it, its all becoming a mess.

    1. Eustache de Saint Pierre

      An analysis of Astrazeneca yesterday from dr.been agrees with you on that, while he notes that the 2:1 ratio between the control groups for the vaccine which was accepted by the CDC, was the reason they refused to accept the results of a recent Ivermectin trial.

      As a side note he mentions something I was unaware of relating to African American’s caution over vaccines, in that slave owners had a history of medical experiments on slaves, sometimes without anaesthetic.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2LXW39ILmTI&list=LL&index=1

        1. Eustache de Saint Pierre

          That is horrendous – reminds me of the fate that befell the Marshall Islanders.

      1. David

        In Europe, hardly anyone has focused on the detail: what’s really done the damage is the sudden changes of message from governments. In France, it’s widely reported that Macron put the AZ vaccine on hold because Merkel told him to. This may be inaccurate but many people believe it, and it only reinforces the idea of governments that don’t really know what they are doing, and are just thrashing around.

        1. ArvidMartensen

          I am observing a pattern regarding the AZ vaccine, over the past couple of months.
          First there is the media page 1 headline – AZ not effective for overs 65s / uses stem cells so immoral?/ causes blood clots/ research is incorrect

          Then the public becomes alarmed and public pressure gets it suspended or the public refuses to take it eg Germany.

          Then some days later on media page 25, new report – the AZ vaccine is ok for over 65s, doesnt cause blood clots etc. But the PR damage is done.

          Regarding CT, I am assuming that, like the stealth campaign against Trump as described in Time magazine https://time.com/5936036/secret-2020-election-campaign/ , there is a similar campaign against AZ with the patriotic aim of keeping US Pharma dominance.

          It ain’t over yet. Whilever rich countries keep buying AZ and not Pfizer or Moderna or perhaps? J&J, AZ will keep having omg! “scares” then quiet retractions, until governments give up, roll over and just order the US vaccines.
          The world will end up with US vaccines, Russian vaccines, Chinese vaccines in the end, delivered along ideological lines.

  11. The Rev Kev

    “Mouse plague ravaging farms in NSW and southern Queensland, scurries south to Victoria”

    Yeah, about those mice. For the past coupla days there has been a “weather event” all along the eastern coastline of Oz leading to once in a generation floods, massive evacuations and water spilling over Sydney’s main dam. It is chaos from southern Queensland down near Victoria and as I type this, there is heavy rain falling outside my window. If there are any mice that can survive this then I say good luck to them-

    https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/before-and-after-satellite-imagery-show-early-impact-of-nsw-floods-20210323-p57d9b.html

    And just to add a nightmarish twist, footage has emerged of masses of spiders trying to flee the floods

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hV-PoJ-IIyw (2:09 mins)

        1. chuck roast

          Reminds me of the story that Dr. John (Mac Rebennac) told many years ago about one of his visits to Professor Longhair’s house in NO. According to the Doc, Fess was sitting in a rocking chair in his living room. He had four cans of insecticide, two of which he was holding. The other two were rigged up to the rockers on the chair and would trip off when ever he rocked. Fess was clearly an atomic roach killer.

      1. skippy

        I took the beasties for a walk in it the other day, here in Brisbane, right next to the river. The real dramas are centered around the coastal hinterland ranges and the resulting flows from these water sheds.

        The rest can be pinned down on Texas like building of RE in historical flood plains, increased hydrology through its infrastructure, all to service the immigration or die big Oz policy to create more REMBS for investors.

        But I got to say the amount and size of the mushrooms abounding is like noting I’ve seen here. Even took a photo I’ll send to Lambert of a huge stonehedge like circle of shrooms along the bike/foot path I take beasties along.

        1. norm de plume

          Yeah me too, re the mushies.

          Weird red units on Anzac Parade under the big trees which I have worked out are Aseroë rubra. And out on our nature strip around the little sapling the council planted a few months ago, some lovely pale yellow Leucocoprinus birnbaumii.

  12. Kris

    “Covid-19 Flight From Hell: My Run-In With An Infected Passenger”

    Sad to see the author is a physician, yet clearly doesn’t understand that aerosol transmission means that putting the sick passenger in another part of the plane would have little effect.

    1. Kevin Smith

      I would have immediately moved MYSELF to the back of the plane, as far as possible from that Covidiot™ …

      1. Synoia

        That is a terrible idea. The Back of the plane is the final destination for all air in the Cabin. The Correct place to be is in the very front row of seats, as close to the plane’s nose as possible.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      No, you have this wrong. Airplanes bear no resemblance to classrooms. Air is very frequently filtered and the filters are to a very high standard.

      Studies have concluded you are at Covid risk on a plane ONLY if you are in very close proximity to an infected person, like within at most 3 rows. Moving the infected person way away from the others would have been the best option.

  13. Louis Fyne

    re. tax “loopholes”

    If you are an American and have assets of, say, >$25MM+, you don’t have to “hide” anything as the federal and many state tax codes are so favorable.

    Yes, there are trusts, tax avoidance strategies, etc. but a competent and above-board tax professional can minimize taxes without hiding anything from the IRS.

    ….which is why IMO the Trump tax investigation is/will turn out to be a wild goose chase.

    Wanna raise the coffers/increase inequality…the answer is blantantly in everyone’s face: reform the tax codes (state and federal). blow them up and start from scratch.

    but everyone avoids that path. it’s a feature, not a bug.

    1. km

      Did not Richard Murphy teach the masses thusly, that taxes are basically optional for the ultra-rich and for mulitnationals, but for ordinary schmucks they are obligatory.

  14. Mikel

    RE: “Variants Rise in Some States, Adding Urgency to Vaccine Push” Bloomberg.

    “And even if it does keep or reduce the number getting long Covid, there’s still a significant pool of the afflicted out there who may continue incubating new variants.”

    What can be done to get researchers who know about the implications of this some major airtime?
    In addition to it being hard for anyone with cautionary research to get on Big Pharma ad supported news, is the risk of being labeled “anti-vax” stopping them from speaking up?

    1. buermann

      Our host is confusing long COVID — which is almost by definition symptoms persisting long after testing negative, due to lasting damage by the infection or autoimmune disorders produced in reaction to infection — with chronic infection in immunocompromised patients. It’s only in the latter case that a patient might incubate viable mutants.

      1. Cuibono

        Can you say for certain that long covid patients do not harbor any virus in their guts for example?

      2. Yves Smith Post author

        Sorry, a recent presentation (Feb 2021) disagrees with your assertion of what Long Covid is:

        And I would say the scientific community hasn’t fully settled, but we’ve sort of settled on this idea of either post-COVID syndrome or post-acute COVID syndrome because that lets us know that, hey, the acute phase of the illness is done, there’s persistent symptoms, and you’re no longer infectious. So generally, we’ve kind of settled on that post-acute COVID syndrome, but you’re going to hear a lot of variability, certainly among the public. And particularly in social media accounts, this idea of long haul COVID has really taken on.

        https://www.sciline.org/covid-19/emerging-challenges/

        “No longer infectious” is not the same as “fully cleared the virus”. From another long Covid write-up:

        Researchers are not certain what causes the prolonged effects of COVID-19, but some possible causes of long COVID may include:

        a reduced or lack of response from the immune system
        relapse or reinfection of the virus
        inflammation or a reaction from the immune system
        deconditioning, which is a change in physical function due to bed rest or inactivity
        post-traumatic stress

        https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/long-covid#causes

    2. Susan the other

      One possibility. If, as the link above suggests, the cover-19 virus first emerged in October of 2019, that means it was hanging around incubating maybe from Sept. to. Dec. 2019. So three months prior. So now if the Variant B117 and the one from South Africa have emerged and spread across the US, this probably means it was here at least 3 months ago incubating away. I do remember it being noticed in California in late November or early December and this would fit the previous pattern of a 3 month delay from first case to epidemic. And cases did start to skyrocket in November. I think that indicates that at least here in the US what looked like the second wave was actually a variant and, hopefully, this latest spurt of infections here will not be too devastating.

  15. Isotope_C14

    Germany and the bizzare lockdown.

    My coworkers and I are quite confused by the easter lockdown. Everything hard closes except grocery stores will be open Saturday… Thursday to Tuesday, but not Saturday…

    Won’t that be the worst possible place to go? Everyone needing some onions, meat, or cheese will be there with masks half on and no ventilation.

    I guess I will stock up this weekend prior…

    If we didn’t always collectively do half measures in the first place this would not be so severe…

    1. David

      Descartes would be aghast if he could see the logical mess his own country has got itself into with lockdowns. Around Paris and in a few other areas, there is a lockdown and a 19h00 curfew, BUT you are encouraged to go out into the fresh air as much as possible as long as you don’t gather in groups, and so long as you don’t go more than 10km from home: you have to take proof of address with you. The list of businesses that can stay open this time (different from last time) appears to have been selected by throwing darts at a list blindfolded. Because nobody understands what’s happening, there’s little sign that the lockdown is actually being respected.

      1. Isotope_C14

        Mixed messaging is always incredibly unhelpful in a pandemic. Just ask St. Fauci!

        You don’t need masks…

    2. zagonostra

      There is hardly any coverage of European lockdown protests from U.S. Media. Below is from a couple of days ago from AP. From what I am reading from alt-news websites, the protest are much larger than that being reported below.

      More than 20,000 people participated in the protest in the central German city of Kassel, where there also were confrontations between the demonstrators and counter-protesters.

      Thousands of people marched through downtown Kassel despite a court ban, and most didn’t comply with infection-control protocols such as wearing face masks. Some protesters attacked officers and several journalists, dpa said.

      https://apnews.com/article/berlin-germany-coronavirus-pandemic-99b7100d7c223654a31c878a6f7375aa

      1. Isotope_C14

        Well, they might say “20,000” participated, but it looks like this line:

        “In Berlin, some 1,800 police officers were on standby for possible riots, but only about 500 protesters assembled at the city’s landmark Brandenburg Gate.” (with 1000 counter protesters)

        You can generally assume that the total “participating” on the anti-lockdown side is roughly 1/3 of the total, or less.

        The rich always want you to think there is roughly a 50/50 split between “left and right” but it’s almost always something like 66/33 or worse for the right.

        I’d be pretty surprised that Kassel had that many protesters, and they certainly aren’t in a low-case incidence area, they are kind of at the tip of the dagger of all of the high-incidence areas to the southeast of there, drawing a pretty good remainder of the dagger blade to the Czech border.

        No one I know is certain why there is such a high incidence in this area. The cities aren’t large and contain relatively few immigrants. I’d guess it’s people ignoring any logic or reason regarding social distancing, masks, and ventilation.

        Capitalism and the belief that you have to keep working no matter what is a “helluva drug”.

        1. zagonostra

          I was thinking that numbers would be skewed to the low end, that the turn-out is much higher than what is being reported in the MSM. There were also huge protest in Berlin if I’m not mistaken.

  16. Tom Stone

    Of course the Colorado gun man ran amok because he owned an ” Assault Weapon”, it was a classic case of “Gun Violence” .

    The assumption that firearms are “Malum in Se” and have agency is a matter of faith.
    As is the assumption that restricting firearms ownership to the Police, Military and the Well to do will “Reduce Crime” .
    There’s no evidence for either position.
    There is a lot of evidence based on the outcome of “Sensible Gun Control” laws that their purpose is social control, the actual effect is to disarm the rabble and reduce their power.
    As to banning AR-15’s and the like because the carnage is so great when someone goes nuts and kills a bunch of people…in the last annual reporting period rifles of all kinds were used in a little less than 400 murders nationwide while more than 1,600 were beaten to death.
    The AR -15 is the most popular sporting rifle in America by far, there are likely somewhere between 15,000,000 and 20,000,000 in civilian hands here in the USA.
    Compare that to the number of deaths attributable to despair, opioid addiction, lack of needed medical care, doctors not washing their hands, drunk drivers…
    And if the US does ban AR-15’s how the heck are you going to enforce that law and at what costs?
    .

    1. Basil Pesto

      There is a lot of evidence based on the outcome of “Sensible Gun Control” laws that their purpose is social control, the actual effect is to disarm the rabble and reduce their power.

      Let’s see it. The begunned rabble in America don’t seem terribly powerful to me, as things stand.

    2. cocomaan

      It’s a misapprehension of energy to chase down every mass shooting and make it into an existential crisis.

      Covid has now supposedly killed more people than were killed by guns in any other war in American history. Diabetes is way more of a threat to most people than a gun.

      The interest in the mass shootings is just a matter of pushing agendas. It’s like a game of dodgeball: everyone line up. Social justice advocates and gun manufacturers both get donations after every shooting.

        1. a different chris

          Well that ship certainly has sailed.

          I believe it was named the “Mayflower”…

          1. Synoia

            The reason the US is so “Gun Proud” is to enable the white settlers to massacre the Indians on the westward push.

            It has Genocide at its core.

    3. a different chris

      >As is the assumption that restricting firearms ownership to the Police, Military and the Well to do will “Reduce Crime” . There’s no evidence for either position.

      No there is plenty of evidence. Or is the fact that there are only 100+ other countries in the world “not enough evidence”? You need to see a couple of thousand countries do it, maybe?

      >There is a lot of evidence based on the outcome of “Sensible Gun Control” laws that their purpose is social control,

      No. There is not. Our overlords laugh in their cognac about such a simple, never-working scheme.

      This is simple:

      Give a man a gun. He becomes a threat. His words are ignored as everybody focuses on the gun. Thus the authorities are summoned, and he is “disarmed” (and probably disemboweled). End of problem for said authorities.

      Have an unarmed man speak. Now what do the authorities do? They can’t shoot him on sight, it becomes a way harder problem. Find some excuse to jail him, well that just prolongs and even worsens the problem.

      Boy I bet they so wish Assange had tried to shoot himself to freedom.

    4. Pelham

      Some good points in there. I’d like to see a comparison of the number of people killed with these assault-style (but not real assault) rifles and those killed by handguns over a period of years.

      Separately, the wording of the 2nd Amendment indicates that the founders intended to protect the right of ordinary citizens to keep and bear arms commonly used by a “well-ordered militia.” So in the modern sense, this would include real, fully automatic assault rifles and semi-automatic sidearms, wouldn’t it? Other weapons (grenades, howitzers, flame throwers, etc.) are not commonly issued, so they would be excluded. (Of course, the amendment was written at a time when muzzle-loaders were impractical for anything other than hunting and war-making. But other constitutional provisions are routinely updated to modern circumstances, and honest scholars I think would concede as much for the 2nd Amendment.)

      I have yet to hear anyone defending the amendment on this basis. Anti-gun people would obviously fear opening the door to fully automatic weaponry. But maybe pro-gun people (myself included, though I currently own no firearm) fear that a guarantee of unfettered access to such rifles would be enough to ignite a national movement for outright repeal.

      1. a different chris

        >the wording of the 2nd Amendment indicates

        Or does it indicate that people should literally be in a militia? The whole thing isn’t even grammatical by 18th century standards, for god’s sake. And the purpose of this militia is what? To protect “freedom”. From what? Generally foreign powers was the real focus of all that stuff.

        The Founders did not want a standing army, I think that was pretty inarguable. But that ship has long sailed. You guys hang on to the 2nd amendment like I hang on to the steering wheel of my first, long crushed, car. But I don’t get anybody killed with my un-connected steering wheel.

        I honestly think outright repeal is the best long term strategy for pro-gun people. The Brits are no doubt out in force, given some decent spring weather, shooting at anything that moves. The Swiss are well-armed as we all know. No Second Amendment there. Germany makes great guns of all sorts. No 2nd there, either.

        Those are the arguments you need to make. That it can be done right.

        But at the moment, you guys and your “militia” is about the only thing the F-35 can actually take out.

        1. km

          I dunno, the militias seem to be doing okay in Afghanistan, despite the presence of F-35s and various other hardware thrown at them.

        2. Pelham

          The founders wanted “the people” (note they didn’t say “militia members” or “militia candidates”) to be able to keep and bear arms so they’d be familiar with them and some might be called on to form a militia. That’s pretty much the situation today, isn’t it? Lots of people own weapons, and some join the military. The same would be true if we resumed the draft.

          The big issue isn’t the intent of the founders but the nature of the weapons, which has changed enormously. Owning a musket that takes a long time to load and using it to shoot a squirrel and, if aimed at a neighbor, might take one human life max is radically different from owning a semi-automatic rifle that can fire as fast as you can pull the trigger and hit maybe 30 people before you pause 2 seconds to reload.

          So THAT’s the issue. Hence, the real debate ought to be over outright repeal of the 2nd Amendment in light of changed material circumstances, not over “common sense” gun control that almost invariably violates the letter and spirit of the amendment and does little to rein in gun violence. I think even gun owners might in some way welcome a clean debate on this rather than have to deal with a multitude of obscure and annoying laws and regs that vary from state to state and year to year.

          1. skippy

            Read ‘Democracy in Chains’ – militia to put down slave revolts or other indigenous threats.

            Other than that advances in rife technology makes references to 2nd amendment a categorical error at onset. How can anyone refer to context based on muskets to a modern military grade semi auto with attendant clip size, not to mention availability of parts to covert to auto if one was so inclined.

            The whole protect property argument is an extenuation of the aforementioned after it got the PR/Marketing sales treatment by Mfg – its all Bernays sauce …

        3. mlipow

          The sentence is in Latin syntax. The subject is “a well regulated militia” not individual ownership.

          1. JBird4049

            “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.”

            Then what is the purpose of the Second Amendment? The government obviously has an inherent responsibility to be able to defend the nation. I have never heard of any constitution or law needed anywhere to give the government the right to bear arms.

            The purpose of the amendment is to protect the people from the government. This gigantic military and vast police state would have had the Founders and all other Americans back then a nervous breakdown.

            People say that we need to get rid of the guns. Okay, let’s start by getting the machine guns and assault rifles from the police.

            When we have gotten the military down to the equivalent of the very few cavalry regiments, artillery units, and engineers of the early 19th century, and dismantled the security state then we should talk about getting rid of the guns in civilian hands.

            1. skippy

              Rabble will never be able to defeat an experienced military force, but it is good for sales and investors.

              1. Futility

                Besides one never hears from the rabble when the government does in fact take rights away (Patriot Act, killing citizens without due process – terror Tuesday, …), they only come out when the topic is gun control. I don’t take their attitude of ‘fighting a tyrannical government’ very seriously.

  17. tegnost

    Skidelsky…
    Do not increase labor pay until after the recovery (and probably not then either but we’ll leave that discussion til later…)
    ” And yet economists continually reinvent the wrong wheel. The 2009-16 QE programs embodied the same misguided theory and similarly failed to boost the price level.”

    QE failed to boost the price level? Really? Oh that’s right. Labor is still cheap.

  18. The Rev Kev

    “First Chinese coronavirus cases may have been infected in October 2019, says new research”

    Well this is a bit awkward for some people. Looking at a map I see that Hubei is about 250 kilometers away from Wuhan. Is there a biological research station in Hubei as well? We’ll have to wait and see if more solid information comes from this research.

    Not to be missed is that 8:20 minute video on that page called “Travel diary: 14 days in quarantine in mainland China.” Now that is how you quarantine travelers. It should be made a standard template everywhere.

    1. DorothyT

      Re: First Chinese coronavirus cases — October 2019

      A good California friend, age 80, was with a small guided tour in Shanghai and environs in November 2019. He became extremely sick. The Chinese tour guide convinced him not to go to a hospital there. He was sick for some time and is lucky to be alive. When he returned home and learned about the coronavirus weeks later, he went to a doctor who told him he hadn’t had the virus but diagnosed his continuing symptoms as COPD.

    2. Jeff W

      “Looking at a map I see that Hubei is about 250 kilometers away from Wuhan.”

      Last time I checked Wuhan was in Hubei—in fact, it’s that province’s capital.

      1. The Rev Kev

        The article makes plain that it is thought that this virus was pin-balling its way around Hubeii province before becoming established in Wuhan itself. As Hubeii province is nearly 72,000 square miles in size, this makes it problematical to pin an origin down but the article makes plain that it likely originated in the province itself, and then heading off the the capital of Hubeii province which happened to be Wuhan. It may come down to animals that were raised in captivity in the province being infected and then these animals were shipped to the city for sale which was the wet markets. Great vector for the virus that.

        1. Frank Dean

          First you misrepresent the location of Wuhan. Then you start misspelling Hubei. And finally you misrepresent the content of the article.

          “It is highly probable that Sars-CoV-2 was circulating in Hubei province at low levels in early November 2019, and possibly as early as October 2019, but not earlier,” the researchers from the University of California San Diego wrote.
          “By the time Covid-19 was first identified, the virus had firmly established itself in Wuhan. The delay highlights the difficulty in surveillance for novel zoonotic pathogens with high transmissibility and moderate mortality rate.”

    3. Dirk77

      The article, dated 2021/03/22, states: “A study published in the journal Science last week…researchers from the University of California San Diego wrote.” Others are free to search, but I can find no article published in the last two weeks in Science magazine, or any of its related sub journals, from a UC San Diego team on anything related to the origins of Covid in Hubei.

  19. polar donkey

    A couple small anecdotes on new and used car markets. My brother in law works at a used car lot. He said the lot almost sold out this weekend. Tax refunds and stimulus checks. The lot has to fly car brokers to Texas and Florida to get cars. Aren’t enough nearby for local demand. I joked the lot will sell all their cars for the year in March and April. He responded “and repo them in the fall to sell again”.
    The other story my brother in law told me was about his friend at a Toyota dealership. The dealership can’t move any of it’s $50-$60,000 “regular” pickup trucks. So the dealership installs lift kits and oversized tires, slaps $10,000 more on the price tag, and they sell like hot cakes. GM had already been doing this as a trim package for some time.
    Strange times in car market. Segments going to extremes. Monster truck sales booming. A city like Memphis plagued by street racing dodges, camaros, or mustangs. Lower income people going on used car spree over paying for a lot junk cars soon to be repossed. All the while EV market valuations skyrocketing. So much cheap money sloshing around.

    1. Lemmy Caution

      The Canoo electric pickup is heavy on functionality and debuts in 2023 with a base price estimated to be around $33,000 — could be just the thing for driver’s who don’t want to shell out $60,000 to $80,000 for a blinged-up behemoth pickup.

      1. a different chris

        I don’t mean to speak for donkey, but I believe his point was that people do want to parade around in a “blinged-up behemoth pickup”.

        The F150 starting MSRP is under 30K. I doubt the dealerships even both to stock a single one at that level.

        1. hunkerdown

          The Ford office employee parking lot down the street suddenly filled with ~300 units of F150s last Wednesday, trim level unknown.

          My take-away from our non-rectangular coordinate comrade is that people aren’t willing to pay that much for bread without a circus attached.

    2. Pelham

      Fascinating. My wife and I lease a pickup that has way more stuff on it than we wanted. What we’d really like is a basic truck with an inline 6, manual shift, no power controls and no electronics. I suppose we could opt for a ’60s vintage truck, but they’re rather expensive and neither one of us is enough of a mechanic to maintain it.

      1. hunkerdown

        The Clean Air Acts banned the no-electronics engine. In most states you wouldn’t be able to register such a hypothetical beast as a regular road vehicle, but you might be able to run it around the farm or as a historical show piece.

    1. The Rev Kev

      I think that you are right about her being a Papillon and man, she moved like a rocket. You could see at the beginning that she was wound up tight like a spring.

  20. Carolinian

    Re It’s All Displacement

    Life in the “content” industry already sucks. A small handful of people make bank while the vast majority hustle relentlessly just to hold on to the meager pay they already receive. There are staff writers at big-name publications who produce thousands of words every week and who make less than $40,000 a year for their trouble. There are permanent employees of highly prestigious newspapers and magazines who don’t receive health insurance.

    Alex Cockburn used to joke that he got paid “in the high two figures” at The Nation and famous film critic Pauline Kael only got paid a few hundred dollars per column at The New Yorker. She had to get by in expensive NYC via her books and paid talks at colleges. It seems true that making a living as a writer much less an “influencer” has never been that easy which is why so many of them in the 1930s wound up in Hollywood. Later TV became the avenue to fame and fortune and Gore Vidal said one should never pass up an opportunity to have sex or be on television.

    Perhaps those bashing Greenwald and Taibbi are just jealous but who can deny those two have paid their dues to get where they are. Meanwhile to those overpaid complainers at the NYT and elsewhere–cry us a river.

  21. flora

    Thanks for the CJ Hopkins article. That’s an amazing – in a bad way – series of screen grabs. Are we behind the iron curtain or something? (Well, OK, DC is behind an iron curtain, but that’s different. /heh)

    Taibbi’s latest take on the same theme:

    https://taibbi.substack.com/p/a-biden-appointees-troubling-views

    An enforced eternal sunshine of the spotless platform mind sounds like a nightmare, as we’re seeing in real time. / ;)

  22. Patrick

    Having been a commercial fisherman for over 12 years I have firsthand knowledge of the damage and destruction some of the more insidious practices of the industry have inflicted on the ocean. It’s an awareness that evaded me during the years I participated in the industry, but it’s an awareness that was not commonly present in the long ago decades of my participation. I am familiar with what you referred to as “bottom dreading”, and although you meant to say “dredging”, it is a dreadful technique so the words are to an extent interchangeable. These days my sources of dietary zinc are ample and diverse, consisting of a variety of legumes, (especially heirloom beans), nuts, seeds and whole grains. I never have to worry about being deficient in grubs and insects. While not partaking of that bounty myself, I would wholeheartedly support shellfish farming if I were certain that it wasn’t having a negative impact somewhere within or down the environmental stream.

      1. chuck roast

        Ralph Stanley is such a revered fellow in Maine that he retains the number “1” on his lobstering permit. It is his contention that worse thing to ever happen to the Gulf of Maine was bottom dragging.

    1. chuck roast

      During my coastal cruising days I always liked to do river navigations. Nuns and cans; port and starboard, working the mainsail all the way up and down. I did the Damariscotta River a few years back. Nineteen miles of fun. I was surprised by the density and intensity of the shellfish farming on the river. The industry employs a lot of people who are invested in a clean and productive estuary. In Maine this is not just a good thing, it’s a superior thing. Sustainability is not just another non-profit, bogus narrative. It’s real on the river. I used to love to go to the seafood store in Portland and get a bunch of oysters from the different estuaries. They each their own remarkable and distinctive taste…and they taste even better with beer.

    1. Late Introvert

      So true it bears repeating. I used to be against guns until I started thinking about my family and friends who would have nasty cops showing up to take them away and I became at least neutral on the subject. There should be background checks and a concerted effort to take away guns from violent criminals, but the cat is out of the bag as far as the rest of Americans are concerned.

      My thought while driving lately, that never is far from mind, there are probably loaded guns all around me. But think back to say, the 1860s, nobody would have given it a 2nd (heh) thought.

  23. flora

    Thanks for the CalPERS – Bloomberg article.

    The CalPERS atty seems…uh…selective about which law violations are or are not important. / ;)

    1. Susan the other

      It’s interesting to think about the ultimate underwriter here. It’s the taxpayer. When all the grifters have profiteered off of unprotected pension/retirement funds, because of course “that’s where the money is”, then the State steps in and when the State is tapped out, the Federal Gov steps in (think Illinois here). In the meantime the hedge funds have made off with the money. And to make it even more absurd, currently there are provisions in the latest distribution of helicopter money for bailing out the retirement funds (which is fine) – but no mention of clawbacks from the hedge funds. It’s an understatement to say we need laws and we need to enforce them if retirement funds are so obviously destined to fail.

  24. NotTimothyGeithner

    Re: Biden’s firing squad article.

    Visiting India last week, Lloyd Austin, “the guy who runs that outfit over there” in Biden’s description, warned India not to go through with its planned purchase of Russia’s S400 air defense system, to “avoid any kind of acquisitions that would trigger sanctions.”

    According to news reports, Austin is the US secretary of defense. India is supposed to anchor the “Quad,” a four-way alliance among the US, Japan, Australia and India to contain China’s ambitions in the Pacific. Threatening one’s prospective allies with sanctions is not the conventional way in which alliances are built.

    My bolding. One problem Biden, not that he would ever understand this, is the US has been such a “theres profit to be had” scheme for so long that I suspect everyone is pushing for their respective lobbyist concern and there isn’t any coherent scheme. Biden probably bought the press of Trump being a singular evil and simply expected everyone to jump for joy upon the Restoration and doesn’t have any inkling of US foreign policy and what it should be beyond “American exceptionalism”, a phrase Obama loved to deploy.

  25. hunkerdown

    Microsoft in talks to acquire Discord (Bloomberg). Interesting how all the social networks seem to be “just merging” into Federal contractors, first TikTok, then Parler (actually merged into oblivion), now…

    For the NFT beat, the 4chan phenomenon of “rare Pepes” as valuable “currency” was memed into reality a few weeks ago.

  26. AussieMom

    Tinder and OkCupid Could Soon Let You Background Check Your Date — for a Price:

    Before I (thankfully) met and married my husband, I used dating sites and I subscribed to a background check website called “Spokeo”. I made sure every man I spoke to was who he said he was. Only one flipped out when I told him and I already knew from my search that he was not who he said he was. You can’t be too careful these days–whether you are a man or a woman.

    1. Temporarily Sane

      You can’t be too careful these days–whether you are a man or a woman.

      I call BS. “you can’t can’t be too careful these days” is an empty cliche and doesn’t mean anything. Dating isn’t any more dangerous than it was before the internet but people have definitely become a lot more paranoid.

      The post 9/11 obsession with “security” deserves much of the blame for this. Fast forward to 2021 and social media companies justify their banning, censoring and labeling by claiming they’re doing it to keep you “safe.”

      Yes, reading words on screen is now equated with “danger.”

      Buying into the safety and security hysteria and getting background checks done on potential dates is exactly what the surveillance state and tech companies want you to do. What next, background checks on friends you haven’t seen in a while?

      What kind of a society are we becoming where we are so scared/paranoid/helpless that we can barely function anymore without an internet connected device or service to “help” us get through a normal day?

      1. AussieMom

        Wow! Calm down. I see nothing wrong with running a phone number through a system to make sure the name matches what they gave me and the phone number. I wasn’t running a whole goddamn FBI background search. So I don’t think I or anyone else needs to explain to you how we take care of ourselves and keep ourselves safe. “What next, background checks on friends you haven’t seen in a while?” Come on, you know how moronic that question is? Relax. Before you attack someone, how about just asking questions? I don’t deserve your verbal attack. And maybe if you had looked up the program I was talking about–“Spokeo” you would have seen how simple it is. And I certainly don’t live my day to day life needing “help” from an internet connected device.

  27. Darthbobber

    Skidelsky’s recovery sequencing piece, invoking Keynes:

    First, a misreading of Keynes. The author summarized (but does not quote) Keynes thusly:
    “Likewise, Keynes criticized those provisions of FDR’s National Recovery Administration that tried to engineer recovery by strengthening the position of labor. This, too, he thought, was the wrong way round: the time to saddle business with extra costs was after recovery was secure, not before. And while Keynes never challenged FDR’s promise to drive the money changers out of the temple, he must have wondered about how this would affect the confidence of a paralyzed financial system.” In the first part, he’s referencing the open letter to Roosevelt solicited by the Times and delivered in 1933. Out of the rather large hodgepodge that was the N.I.R.A., this is the actual text of his criticism:

    “Now I am not clear, looking back over the last nine months, that the order of
    urgency between measures of Recovery and measures of Reform has been duly
    observed, or that the latter has not sometimes been mistaken for the former. In
    particular, I cannot detect any material aid to recovery in N.I.R.A., though its social
    gains have been large. The driving force which has been put behind the vast
    administrative task set by this Act has seemed to represent a wrong choice in the
    order of urgencies. The Act is on the Statute Book; a considerable amount has been
    done towards implementing it; but it might be better for the present to allow
    experience to accumulate before trying to force through all its details. That is my
    first reflection–that N.I.R.A., which is essentially Reform and probably impedes
    Recovery, has been put across too hastily, in the false guise of being part of the
    technique of Recovery. ”
    Note that this does not single out the support for unions as the specific problem, and indeed in a later (1938) letter to Roosevelt, Keynes is explicit on THAT topic, seeing robust support for collective bargaining as critical for recovery, not simply reform.

    As to the moneychangers part, he now misquotes Roosevelt, who in his inaugural does NOT propose to “drive” the moneychangers from the Temple, but says that they have already FLED their high seats in the temple, offering an opportunity to purify it. This was, of course, in the aftermath of the wave of banking failures preceding the inauguration and addressed initially by the banking holiday and bank examinations. There would have been no need for Keynes to speculate on that aspect, as the results were rapidly apparent. Public confidence in the banks was restored pretty rapidly, when it had already been on the point of collapse. One of the few unambiguously successful initiatives of the early New Deal.

    The “reform and recovery” dilemma seems to me to be a bit of a pseudodilemma. It was not the Wagner Act, the creation of social security and unemployment insurance, the Agricultural Adjustment Act, the SEC, etc. Which limited the funding of recovery through loans rather than taxation (Keynes doesn’t consider just printing), but the fact that Roosevelt was almost as much of a balanced budget fiscal responsibility hawk as his opponents. Not until the beginning of the crash rearmament program did the political constraints on spending start to go away and government begin to spend like it ALWAYS could have, given the will to do so.

    Additionally, its not at all clear that components can be broken out neatly into two baskets, one clearly being Recovery, the other being clearly Reform. Were Rural Electrification, the TVA, the Pacific Northwest power project reform or recovery? Obviously both. And whatever else they did, the SEC, the Social Security Administration and other reform projects also directly hired not inconsequential numbers of people.

    We went through some of the genius of sequencing back in Obamaland, when the promised minimum wage increase was deferred until after recovery was to have been accomplished, which they seriously affected to believe would be knocked off in a year and a half at most. A “premature” minimum wage increase might be an undue drag on hiring if done earlier, yada yada yada.

    One key thing such analyses always leave out, but which the looters and crisis capitalists always remember, is that it is the crisis (which causes the need for recovery) that ALSO provides the momentum for driving reform forward, and that nobody in power can be sure of holding it indefinitely while they get to those reform elements later.

    A sidelight on the author. He is the author of a reasonably well-regarded multi-volume biography of Keynes, but his political career has been quite convoluted. He starts out in labor, is a founding member of the Social Democrats during THAT labor civil war, then is with the short-lived rump of the Social Democrats after its majority merges with the Liberals. Then, after elevation to the House of Lords he aligns with the Tories, being their treasury spokesman in the Lords. But he falls afoul of them over Kosovo and has been a crossbench peer since 1999.

  28. Cuibono

    That BBC story conveniently left out the MOST CRITICAL step:
    BORDER CONTROL. Isn’t that interesting how they leave out the ONE step ALL countries who did well have in common.

  29. Maritimer

    Zoom Court Videos Are Making People’s Darkest Hours Go Viral Vice (dk)
    ************
    Forget FB, give me ZOOM. I have yet to see an article that even mentions the data gathering/analysis going on with ZOOM. You’re running your business and blabbing all about it on ZOOM? No one is listening? No one is analysing all this massive data. The possibilities and damage here are large indeed.

    Zoom Founder Eric Yuan is a Silicon Valley-based Chinese American billionaire, but his ties with CCP are too damn strong

    https://tfipost.com/2020/06/zoom-founder-eric-yuan-is-a-silicon-valley-based-chinese-american-billionaire-but-his-ties-with-ccp-are-too-damn-strong/

    For starters, any Chinese competitor to an American business, go see friendly ZOOM and see what they got for you.

    (One contrarian organization with which I am very familiar holds their meetings on ZOOM. I was invited to join in. No thanks.)

    1. Temporarily Sane

      It’s not the “CCP” you’ve got to worry about, you gullible fool.

      Ever hear of Edward Snowden?

  30. The Rev Kev

    ‘Ian Fraser
    “Absolute madness”: the Brexit deal negotiated by Boris Johnson and Lord David Frost continues to cripple exporters.’

    I can see the masses of paper but I wonder why they do not have it so that all that paperwork is submitted on a tablet or something similar. You think that it would be easier to digitally send all that paperwork and I mean, the UK government has only had about five years to work all this out and plan it.

  31. caucus99percenter

    The Boulder shooter suspect seems to have turned out to be, not a disgruntled white male, but rather a 21-year-old Muslim, Ahmad Al-Issa, who saw himself as a victim of racism / Trumpism / Islamophobia.

    Watch how The Narrative — along with people’s individual interpretations on Twitter and so forth — suddenly shifts to adapt…

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