Links 3/24/2021

The first peregrine falcon eggs of the season in We Energies nesting boxes are here Journal Sentinel. OK, good PR for a power company. Still, I would rather have falcons than not.

Egypt’s Suez Canal blocked by large container ship BBC. An excellent thread (dk):

When it all went sideways:

And for those of you following along at home, a tide chart, (dk).

Financial world greenwashing the public with deadly distraction in sustainable investing practices USA Today

ECB Invokes Banknote Paradox to Explain Cash in Contactless Age Bloomberg

A Better Path to Tech Reform? Felony Charges Wired. That’s the stuff to give the troops. But break ’em up, and whatever you can’t break up, turn into a public utilities.


Mapping of Carver County outbreak unmasks how COVID spreads Minneapolis Star-Tribune (Henchman21). Handy chart (interactive at the link):

Excellent epidemiology, a must-read. The CDC’s distinction between school and community is looking more vacuous every day,

Pandemic Theater, The Anniversary Edition Zeynep Tufecki, Insight

Transmission of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 during Border Quarantine and Air Travel, New Zealand (Aotearoa) Emerging Infectious Diseases, CDC. Aerosol transmission proves to give a better account than one of the few cases suggesting fomites. Commentary thread:

* * *

COVID-19 at UVM: Off-campus cases rise sharply, UK variant detected The Vermont Cynic

The B1.351 and P.1 variants extend SARS-CoV-2 host range to mice (preprint) (PDF) bioRxiv. From the archive: “Here we show that unlike the initial virus, VOCs are able to infect common laboratory mice, replicating to high titers in the lungs. This host range expansion is explained in part by the acquisition of changes at key positions of the receptor binding domain that enable binding to the mouse angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) cellular receptor, although differences between viral lineages suggest that other factors are involved in the capacity of SARS-CoV-2 VOCs to infect mice. This abrogation of the species barrier raises the possibility of wild rodent secondary reservoirs and provides new experimental models to study disease pathophysiology and countermeasures.” Remember, however: “Monkeys exaggerrate. Mice lie.”

* * *

A New Generation of Vaccines Is Coming, Some With No Needles Bloomberg

New signs J&J may not be able to hit vaccine delivery goal Politico

* * *

The impact of population-wide rapid antigen testing on SARS-CoV-2 prevalence in Slovakia Science. From the Abstract: “Observed prevalence decreased by 58% (95% CI: 57-58%) within one week in the 45 counties that were subject to two rounds of mass testing, an estimate that remained robust when adjusting for multiple potential confounders…. Modelling indicated that this decrease could not be explained solely by infection control measures, but required the additional impact of isolation and quarantine of household members of those testing positive.”

Coronavirus: How the common cold can boot out Covid BBC. Big if true.

How Much Weight Did We Gain During Lockdowns? 2 Pounds a Month, Study Hints NYT (Furzy Mouse). Matches my experience. A combination of a more sedentary lifestyle, and snacks to relieve stress and anxiety (not alcohol, thank heavens). Making me less fleet-footed when the next predator comes….

Toronto-area school boards struggle to find supply teachers amid rise in absences due to COVID-19 CTV. “[A}s more schools experience outbreaks, occasional teachers are reluctant to expose themselves to the virus.”

All Canadians could get 1 dose of COVID-19 vaccine by summer — if all goes well Global News. They’d better hurry:

Vaccine passports ‘an enormous can of worms’ that will widen societal divides South China Morning Post


U.S. Rips China ‘Maritime Militia,’ Backs Philippines in Row Bloomberg

Hong Kong, Macau suspend Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine over packaging flaw Agence France Presse

TSMC: how a Taiwanese chipmaker became a linchpin of the global economy FT


Inside the ‘spring revolution’ opposing Myanmar’s military coup Reuters. In the city:

And the country:

If “conflicts escalate” turns into “Federalism emerges,” that would by no means be the worst possible outcome.

Japan state-funded hotel deal pays rent to Myanmar defence ministry Reuters

Military piles pressure on private banks to reopen – or else Frontier Myanmar

Myanmar Gem Traders Warned of Blacklist for Joining Naypyitaw Emporium by CRPH The Irrawaddy

Fast fashion and Myanmar – why garment workers are protesting, how brands have responded, and the unrest’s potential impact on consumers South China Morning Post

Gone with the blaze The Daily Blaze. 45,000 Rohingya refugees became homeless in Bangladesh camp.


The migrant and the moral economy of the elite People’s Archive of Rural India. Implications far beyond India.

No vaccines, no leadership, no end in sight. How Brazil became a global threat CNN. Maybe if we hadn’t installed Bolsonaro? Just a thought.

The Crisis in a Venezuelan Steel Mill: A Conversation with César Soto Venezuelanalysis


Capitalism and Greed Gave Britain Its Vaccine Success, PM Johnson Says Reuters

Sturgeon turns up heat after seeing off No Confidence bid Daily Business

European coronavirus update and its implications Ed Harrison, Credit Writedowns

French wine experts ask to be prioritised for COVID vaccine Euronews

Germany imposes strict lockdown over Easter Deutsche Welle


Israel Election Live: With Nearly 90 Percent of Vote Counted, Netanyahu Denied Clear Path to Majority Haaretz

Saudi Arabia offers cease-fire plan to Yemen rebels AP

Why Joe Biden Should Stick to the May 1 Deadline to Bring Home Troops From Afghanistan Time

Biden Administration

The Blundering Biden Team Patrick Lawrence, Consortium News

At NATO, Blinken warns Germany over Nord Stream 2 pipeline Reuters. Crude.

The radical unavailability of Joe Biden FT

A Biden Appointee’s Troubling Views On The First Amendment Matt Taibbi, TK News. Tim Wu.

An Unusually Optimistic Conversation With Bernie Sanders (interview) The New York Time. Sanders: “But I think bottom line is that Democrats got to take a deep breath and to make the determination of whether or not they’re going to become the party of the American working class — a class, by the way, which has suffered really terribly in the last 40 or 50 years, where today, workers are barely in real wages making any more than they did 40 or 50 years ago, despite huge increases in technology and productivity. I think we got to do that.” Let me know how that works out.

The Years of Work Behind Washington’s Best-Liked Man NYT. Jerome Powell.

Fed sets up panels to examine risks that climate change poses to the financial system CNBC

Imperial Collapse Watch

The New Concert of Powers Foreign Affairs

Concerts have two characteristics that make them well suited to the emerging global landscape: political inclusivity and procedural informality. A concert’s inclusivity means that it puts at the table the geopolitically influential and powerful states that need to be there, regardless of their regime type. In so doing, it largely separates ideological differences over domestic governance from matters of international cooperation. A concert’s informality means that it eschews binding and enforceable procedures and agreements, clearly distinguishing it from the UN Security Council.


Bipartisan delegation of Australian MPs meets with US embassy about Julian Assange Sydney Morning Herald

Our Famously Free Press

Maybe belling the cat isn’t all that difficult or dangerous?


Why Does the US Pay the Highest Prices in the World for Prescription Drugs? (hearing) U.S. SENATE COMMITTEE ONHealth, Education Labor & Pensions. Starts at 14:42.

Guillotine Watch

They Just Moved Into an Austin Neighborhood. Now They Want to End One of Its Traditions. Texas Monthly. Classic:

The fleet of several dozen cars pulled into East Austin’s Fiesta Gardens, or “Chicano Park” as locals call it, on a recent weekend with the booming of powerful stereo systems announcing their arrival. After a few loops around the park, some drivers—most of them Black and Latino men in their twenties and thirties driving customized lowriders, bright, candy-colored slabs, and jacked-up trucks with flashy chrome rims—packed into a nearby middle school parking lot. Some unloaded barbecue grills, toddlers, and pit bulls, then cracked open beers, and blasted Texas hip-hop and Tejano music….

Some variation of this assembly has taken place nearly every Sunday afternoon since the early nineties. But now many residents of The Weaver, a newly built luxury apartment building across the street—whose website promises renters access to a “community that is rich in history and tradition”—have decided it’s time for the weekly event to come to an unceremonious end….. One particularly vocal tenant, a non-Hispanic white woman with short blond hair who appeared to be in her fifties, claimed that smoke from the tires was killing nearby trees and that traffic from the gathering would make it impossible for an ambulance to reach her in the event of a medical emergency (though two other roads to the apartment building remain accessible at all times). Another Weaver resident voiced more generalized criticism, calling the event a “display of toxic masculinity.”

Man, I hope there’s a good brunch place near-by.

Class Warfare

Italy’s Amazon Strike Shows How Workers Across the Supply Chain Can Unite Jacobin

How Amazon helped create an America in despair Protocol

Exclusive: Amazon Drops All Low-Tier Workers From Company’s Internal Social Network Amid Union Push Sputnik. Can any readers confirm?

Organizing Gravediggers, Cereal Makers and, Maybe, Amazon Employees NYT

Detroit area, Keurig Dr Pepper/Seven-Up distribution workers strike over pay inequity WSWS

Secretly Group: Workers at Indie-Music Company Begin Efforts to Unionize Rolling Stone

Steel Away Bookforum

HR Warns Employees Against Taking Unsanctioned 8-Hour Naps Every Night While Working From Home The Onion

The Need to Link Arms With Every Oppressed Sector: An Exclusive Conversation With Rey Valmores-Salinas Twink Revolution (DG).

ACLED 2020: The Year in Review Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project. Interesting: “Nearly all types of conflict actors reduced their activity overall between 2019 and 2020, except for identity militias. Identity militias are the only actor type that increased their engagement in violence. Identity militias — which ACLED defines as armed groups organized around a collective, common feature including community, ethnicity, region, religion, or livelihood — include the Dan Na Ambassagou ethnic Dogon militia in Mali, the Tribal Mobilization Forces in Iraq, and the Volunteers for Defense of Homeland in Burkina Faso. There was a proliferation of identity militias in Africa especially last year.”

Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
This entry was posted in Guest Post, Links on by .

About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. JTMcPhee

    That “concert” idea: reminds me of the structure of Mafia/organized crime syndicates, like the Appalachian Meeting,

    “So then, to summarize: Vinnie, you take Eastern Africa. Mohammed and Binyamin, you split the Middle East. Solly, you get Southeast Asia. Joe, you get the Americas, and Europe. Are we agreed then? Cut your palms so we can share a blood oath on it.”

    Rules-based, indeed. Omertà all the way down…

    1. shtoves

      Scramble for Africa and gunboat diplomacy. The Benin bronzes are still stuffed away in London.

  2. JTMcPhee

    And on Biden toddling over to Air Force One and the Stairway to Heaven, I’d ask anyone with experience in rehab and nursing of declining seniors to watch closely as Joe walks oh so very carefully and with contained frailty from the Presidential Whirlybird to those revealing stairs. Note the limited lift and swing of his legs and the concentration required to just make that little stroll, and the quick duck into the cabin at the top. I wonder if he went to the deck, or up against the bulkhead to keep from toppling, once he was out of sight of the cameras…

    And on that recent press availability moment, what is with the way his handlers arranged the end of it, with him walking down that Hallway of Flags into the perspective distance?

    Old politicians never die, they just fade away…'s_Mausoleum

    1. The Rev Kev

      Old Joe being noted for those multiple pratfalls on that staircase is only fair when you think about it. Last year he was criticising Trump when he held onto handholds or was too careful going down a ramp.

      1. Arizona Slim

        He has a long way to go before he matches President Ford in the pratfall department. Ford could stumble and fall like nobody’s business!

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          And Ford could get right back up again after every pratfall. He could take a lickin’ and keep on tickin’. He was Timex tough.

          Is Biden Timex tough?

          ( The Countess Draculamala is probably hoping Biden is just tough enough to last in office for 2 years and a day after being inaugurated.)

      2. Dr. John Carpenter

        It wasn’t just Biden criticizing Trump for that. This incident is the first of many where the partisans will have flip-flopped positions. Democrats, only too happy to have memed or declared Trump unfit for office based on his spill, have declared this one off limits and the Republicans who excused Trump are laughing or commenting on his health. One thing I will note, had this been Trump, it would have been in the media on a loop 24/7.

        I’d also like to add I’ve seen people I know who perhaps are well intentioned tut-tuting laughing about this as abelist or whatever. Well, speaking as someone who walks with a cane and is prone to falling, I just don’t see apples to apples here. We’ve been expected to accept Joe Biden is fit as a fiddle. He is not known to be handicapped or impaired in any way they’ve admitted to. Not to mention, this is someone who has been nasty about other’s physical abilities, challenging people who dared to ask him a question on the trail to pushups and whatnot. Yeah, it’s rather base humor, but spare me the outrage.

    2. Pelham

      I dunno. I think he looks fine on the stroll from the helicopter. Maybe just a bit stiff, but no more. The stairs are another matter, but he does appear to recover.

  3. Toshiro_Mifune

    French wine experts ask to be prioritised for COVID vaccine
    From the article
    Health, education and frontline workers deserve to be priority for vaccination but we think that tasting professionals, especially oenologists and sommeliers are particularly impacted…
    I’m sure we can all think of professions that should be prioritized higher than sommeliers… but… bless France for being so very very French if they do.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      It is very French. Although to be fair, losing your taste or smell would be the end of your career for one – and there is evidence that the effect can be long term for some.

      12 Years ago I had an accident which partly destroyed my sense of taste. At the time, it did occur to me that if I was a chef or sommelier or similar, I’d either have to become a very good bluffer or lose my job.

    2. Lee

      This is happening in California too. I know people who have gotten their shots solely on the basis of their employment at vineyards and wineries. Whose to say that wine isn’t one of life’s essentials? Plus, it’s ~$60 Billion industry in the state that employs 325K workers.

    3. Maritimer

      “French wine professionals would like to be prioritised for COVID-19 vaccinations.”

      “Wine experts are “particularly impacted” in their profession by the loss of taste or smell caused by COVID-19, the country’s Oenologists’ Union said in a press release.”
      Yes indeed the Elite need their Sniffers. Please apply to the Ministry of Reasonable Excuses and Essentials. We also welcome applications from Royal Fartcatchers.

      “They are all in this together.”

  4. allan

    Like Uber Amazon Prime, but for election dirty tricks:

    In Amazon union election, votes cast by some ineligible ex-employees could swing outcome [Reuters]

    … Reuters spoke or texted with 19 people Amazon listed to receive a ballot for the election even though they now no longer work at the company. At least two of them already voted, they told Reuters. …

    The NLRB requires that Amazon distribute a notice of election informing employees that they would become ineligible under those circumstances. It is not clear whether all workers who received ballots were aware of the restriction, which was detailed in one sentence of the five-page document. …

    The online retailer has encouraged workers to vote in text messages some received after they departed the company. Asked why, it said it was contacting workers who were on leave to answer any questions they had about the election. …

    Surely Jay Carney has a perfectly sensible explanation.

    1. cnchal

      > The online retailer has encouraged workers to vote in text messages some received after they departed the company. Asked why, it said it was contacting workers who were on leave to answer any questions they had about the election. …

      Amazon answers don’t have to make sense, and so much for Amazon’s vaunted on top of everything image when it could be that the Amazon “engineers” that work the anti union angle weren’t informed by the “engineers” in the meat department that they have walked out the door.

      Amazon never admits to making an error so makes up stupid non answers.

  5. The Rev Kev

    Working link for “Bipartisan delegation of Australian MPs meets with US embassy about Julian Assange” article at-

    Yep. And it is still the same understanding that has been in use the past decade. Both major political parties here pretend that they care about what happens to Julian Assange and Washington pretends that they will take note of Australia’s concerns. And it is bipartisan, baby!

  6. Isotope_C14

    “Germany imposes strict lockdown over Easter – Deutsche Welle”

    On top of the insane mid-lockdown opening of grocery stores on April 3rd, our SPD mayor of Berlin has this to say:

    According to Müller, the schools should remain open. “No, no restrictions,”

    Of course the children have to go to school. Otherwise how can we force their parents to do all the meaningless jobs we’ve invented for them?

    1. Mickey Hickey

      Germans value their holidays. Mutti Merkel reached a consensus with all concerned that the five day Easter holiday would be ideal for a lock down. Very few people argue that a lockdown is not needed. However holidays are untouchable and the public backlash was widespread and extreme. If Mutti Merkel had persisted the public would have simply ignored her direction. So she did what she had to do and cancelled the lockdown. The necessary lockdown will be called after Easter during days of work. Germany is an interesting country, for example it is legal to go to Majorca in the Mediterranean but not to the German Baltic coast resorts. Majorca is Spanish but Spaniards cannot go to Majorca.

  7. PlutoniumKun

    The Blundering Biden Team Patrick Lawrence, Consortium News

    Scarily, I think Lawrence has put his finger on the biggest problem with the Biden administration so far (I’d add to his list of blunders his appalling treatment of South Korea). It is worse than malign and corrupt as many previous administrations have been. But it is also incompetent. Even the Bush II administration had at least a few adults in the room to partly balance out the crazies.

    But there is another factor at work as Biden and his lieutenants unfurl their foreign policies, and I have already suggested it. This is the problem of incompetence. I mean this two ways: There is personal incompetence, and there is institutional incompetence. What a time, with numerous large policy questions looming, to come face to face with such deficits as these.

    Neither the president nor those closest to him are demonstrably qualified to conceive of, manage, or execute a foreign policy that meets the 21st century’s numerous and complex new demands. This may not be readily apparent, given the administration’s pose as one of subtle, cultured, deep thinkers (with excellent manners, of course, the president an exception on this score).

    This is the price of 8 years of Russia Russia and related nonsense. Propaganda is fine up to a point when you are in opposition and trying to get rid of someone you hate. But you can only go so far before the voices of sanity within a structure just get sick of it, and the remaining people start to believe their own propaganda (quite literally, I’m sure they knew it was nonsense at first, but now they are behaving as if it is reality). We’ve seen the same with the UK, where Euroscepticism moved from a fairly harmless obsession of the fringe to a central belief structure, meaning that if you didn’t believe in it, you either moved out or accepted you’ll never get promotion. There comes a point where the rot becomes complete and nobody with genuine competence or an iota of honour gets into a position of influence. You end up with a governing structure with no brakes. Even the Trump administration had a brake – Trump himself. This isn’t new – Kennedy, for example, almost alone stood up to the military establishment over the Cuban Missile Crisis. But I fear Biden is cognitively incapable of doing this now.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Biden being an idiot aside, the “End of History” garbage was 30 years ago now, and the result was a generation that simply expects the US to behave like it’s 1998 again. When Obama dismissed Russia as a regional power, the obvious response was the problems Obama is referring to are in Russia’s region.

      We’ve had some chest thumping about the US being back, but back to do what? They have no idea and simply expect 1998 to return. They can’t even manage diplomacy with Iran when they managed 6-7 years ago.

      1. chuck roast

        Every generation has an ‘End of History’ schtick. I remember reading Daniel Bell ‘The End of Ideology’ (1962) as a course requirement. Here I am, a real nimrod, just getting into the old 19th Century leftists and going, “I don’t think so.” Bell was my introduction to Triumphalism. The Beatles set me straight…ob la di, ob la da.

    2. David

      Yes, there’s a difference between recognising the basic competence of a government, and whether you agree with their policies. For much of the post-war period, it had to be recognised the US government was quite competent on foreign policy issues, even if you didn’t like the policies. At the time of the First Gulf War, for example, the team around Bush the elder did a competent job of assembling an international coalition, whatever you thought of the purpose.

      I think the author is too kind: the rot set in under Clinton, with lots of neoliberal NGO types flooding onto government, largely ignorant of how the world actually works but, critically, not suffering any negative consequences for their mistakes. At least during the Cold War, there was the threat of nuclear annihilation if you got something badly wrong. It’s been generally downhill since, to the point where the idiots around Biden have essentially grown up in an atmosphere of total impunity, where you don’t actually have to know anything about the world, and where, if the world conflicts with your normative frameworks, then there is a fault with reality. We are about to see that mentality come badly unstuck, I fear.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Yes, I guess it goes back a long way (as with the rot in the UK system) – at least to Clinton, although I suppose you could make the case for many presidents. I was recently reading a little on the Cuban Crisis and it is striking just how alone Kennedy was in the face of some very aggressive posturing by the generals in the room. For all his faults, he stood up to them. I know it was a very different context, given everyone was still figuring out the Cold War, there are far fewer excuses in a situation where the US (as now) has no real military peers and so no justification for such wanton policies.

        As you say, its striking how there are no consequences whatever now for being repeatedly wrong in foreign policy circles in the US. As I’ve said here before in relation to Europe, small countries don’t have the luxury of having ideologues, idiots or second raters involved in foreign policy (either at a political or sherpa level). One mistake can be nationally catastrophic. But powerful countries do have that luxury…. at least up to a point. We may be reaching that point.

        1. ambrit

          I’ll add that Kennedy had combat experience in WW-2 and was a junior officer. He understood the generals he was dealing with. He also had an upbringing that required him to deal with an overbearing father. He was psychologically equipped to face down the generals. “Creepy” Joe? A career as a professional lickspittle.
          Obama needs to bring out of retirement whoever gave him the backbone to do the Iran deal and send him or her on over to the White House. We need that person now.
          I find it a sign of how wacky the times have become that we are pining for the return of the Bush 43 administration.

        2. The Rev Kev

          Another factor is that Kennedy had recently finished reading Barbara W. Tuchman’s “The Guns of August” which gave him a good idea of how miscalculations and arrogance could lead to a world war-

          There was a 1974 TV docudrama about the Cuban crisis that riffed off this by being called “The Missiles of October.”

    3. Pelham

      JFK is a great example. But a better one, one that we shouldn’t forget, is the political officer aboard a depth-charged, cut-off and suffocating Soviet submarine during the Cuban crisis who alone opposed standing orders, the opinion of a second political officer and the sub’s captain and prevented the launch of a nuclear torpedo. The “special weapon” would have vaporized the entirety of the US and Soviet fleets in the area and quite likely would have sparked off World War Three.

      BTW, this guy, Vasili Arkhipov, caught hell for his actions when he got back home. Today, he should have giant statues in his memory, both in Washington and Moscow. Actually, the planet should be named after him. None of us would be here without his largely unsung heroism and cool head.

      1. JBird4049

        >>>…prevented the launch of a nuclear torpedo.

        I’ve always wondered what chuckleheads authorized and ordered the use of nuclear armed torpedoes when regular torpedoes work just in such circumstances.

        We all got seriously, ridiculously lucky during the fifty years of the Cold War as there were so many times it could have just all ended because of random stupidity or just mischance.

          1. JBird4049

            Hey, I find the Russian/Soviet idea of torpedo with a 100 megaton somewhat interesting. IIRC, the largest warheads deployed were 10M when accuracy was a problem and everyone had a “there’s no kill like overkill” mindset; the largest test detonation was the Czar Bomb.

            It was supposed to be 100M at Stalin’s order; the scientists deliberately, secretly stepped it down to “only” ~50M and then lied to the mass murdering dictator. They must have been truly terrified.

            1. Anthony Noel

              Ummm Stalin was dead for 3 years when the bomb design was commissioned in 1956 and dead 8 years before the Tsar Bomb was detonated in 1961. I would be truly terrified as well if ghosts were demanding I build thermonuclear devices.

              As for the yield, the bomb was always supposed to be a 50 megaton yield and actually over produced a 57 megaton blast. It was theorized that the design could potentially create a 100 megaton yield but as there was never a second “Tsar” bomb built to a completed state we will, thankfully, never know.

              1. jBird4049

                Ouch, that’s embarrassing, but better that then continuing to being so drastically wrong. And misinforming others as well.

                1. Anthony Noel

                  Well, on the plus side I think you could do a dandy short story out of the idea of the dead forcing the living into building the tools that would end all life.

      2. Kfish

        Many young people sent him letters thanking him for his deeds after his story became Internet-famous briefly around 2010. His response: “I was doing my duty.” If only everybody saw their duty this way.

    4. Andrew Watts

      Except that it isn’t the US military who’s pushing for confrontation. The military has run numerous war-games with RAND involving China and they lose every time. If anything they’ve begun to lose even faster as more Chinese capabilities come on line and are accounted for. One of the important details that came out about them was how they had to restart the game after the “Red” team knocked out “Blue” team’s command and control.

      We’re living in the world where power has shifted to Asia and the US is struggling for relevancy.. Brzezinski remains the primary architect of the current American foreign policy. It’s why Ukraine is considered an important focus of American national interest. The US is otherwise relegated to the periphery in a world where economic and military power is concentrated in Asia.

      1. David

        Yes, that’s true. The US military, in my experience, has been much less keen than the civilians on getting into wars, and staying there. Understandably, perhaps, they still favour the Powell Doctrine: short, winnable wars with clear objectives, where overwhelming force can win a quick victory. There aren’t many of these on offer, and I’d be astonished if it’s the military who are pressing Biden to be more hawkish. In recent decades, the hawks have been the civilians, who run no risk of getting shot themselves.

        1. Andrew Watts

          The Powell doctrine only works when the US is waging micro-aggressions against countries like Panama, Serbia, or an Iraq already exhausted by a major war with Iran and/or sanctions.

          One of the ways America’s empire could end would be the widespread mutiny of the US military along the lines of the British RAF mutiny in 1946. Or a disastrous war with China.

      2. David in Santa Cruz

        This isn’t “the Pentagon” per se calling the shots. The Military Industrial Complex is run outside the uniformed services, in the offices of defense conglomerates such as the Carlyle Group. They will continue to profit from a New Cold War with Russia and China. Lawrence is correct:

        … our defense contractors, whose tentacles reach deep within this administration, will be better served by enemies requiring big-ticket arms acquisitions than they were by the low-intensity, low-tech “war on terror.”

  8. John A

    Re Capitalism and Greed Gave Britain Its Vaccine Success, PM Johnson Says

    Not to worry, Johnson’s chief groupie, BBC political correspondent Laura Kuenssberg was quick to tweet the following reassurance, namely it was just ladz banter:

    “More on PM’s ‘greed’ comments – one of those present says Johnson was having a crack at Chief Whip, Mark Spencer, who was gobbling a cheese + pickle sandwich while he was talking about the vaccine, ‘it was hardly Gordon Gekko’, ‘it was banter’.”

    So that is all alright then. And the MSM wonder why fewer and fewer people take them seriously

    1. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you, John.

      Her husband, James Kelly, is McKinsey and has been on long term secondment to the Cabinet Office since the coalition.

      Kuenssberg was a Tory activist at university.

      1. John A

        I read the other day that junior health minister Helen Whately is ex-McKinsey. Mind boggling as she is verily as thick as the proverbial mince.

  9. PlutoniumKun


    The situation there seems to be rapidly going out of control. I think the big unknown is whether the numerous local secessionist movements take a ‘wait and see’ stance, or they go for what they will perceive as weakness and join the protestors in trying to take down the army. If they do, then Myanmar will break up, as no new government would be able to resist it. What would happen to the army then is anyones guess (become a militia itself?).

    I think the key question is whether the revolution on the street is mostly young radicals – in which case the army will gradually grind them down – or whether it extends to all sectors of society, including rural peasants. If the latter, then maybe the army can be forced into submission.

    Whichever way you look at it, there does not seem to be any good short to medium term outcomes, although you could certainly argue that allowing all the secessionist movements some level of independence would be a least worst outcome. Although since most of them fund themselves through opium, that brings its own issues – none of Myanmars neighbours will appreciate having a flow of cheap opium on its doorstep, especially the Chinese.

    1. JTMcPhee

      Who has the guns there? The video I saw this AM showed groups tossing rocks and shooting roman candles and ad hoc tube weapons at each other. The bunch I grew up with used to do stuff that looked like that in the construction sites as our subdivision got built out, Dirt mounds at each end of the cellar excavation, affinity teams ducking on the far sides of each mound, lobbing clods of dirt at each other like hand grenades. Until some wise-ass there’s a rock, leading to tears and bleeding and either parental intervention or slinking away in “It wasn’t me!” shame.

      Maybe this has some hints on the subject: “ Gravitas: Myanmar Army’s Global Business Empire.”

      Wonder if this is what the US will look like in not too many months…

      1. PlutoniumKun

        The army has guns – the group in the video are opposition activists who seem to be almost entirely unarmed. You can clearly hear a number of gunshots from the other side. From other videos and shots I’ve seen its likely that snipers are being used to take out individual protestors.

    2. ObjectiveFunction

      Do keep in mind that most of these ethnic groups are quite small in number, even though the (mountainous and mineral rich) ‘states’ they inhabit look big on a map.

      Ethnic Burmese are some 70% of the population, with (largely quiescent) Shans another 10%. Local tribalism and warlordism subdivides most of these groups, and they have typically proved tractable to divide-and-rule when the army was so inclined (often they are not).

      The repression in Arakan (Rakhine) was initially a crackdown on increasing numbers of Bangladeshi migrants trying to pass themselves off as Rakhine. The Tatmadaw of course made no distinction. They are proper bastards, and I have direct experience in the matter. On the other hand, do not underestimate their professional competence.

      The relationship between the Tatmadaw and the Thai military (yes, that’s right, they still rule Thailand) is also of long standing, dating back to the Ne Win period. When the SLORC took power in the 1988 bloodbath, one of its main lifelines was the massive export of teak (clearcut from Shan State) across the Thai border by businesses run by Thai generals. So it goes….

      Colorful history aside, I don’t know that opium will ever again be the huge cash cow it once was in the Golden Triangle, although no doubt it will stay in the mix.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Thanks for the overview. I appreciate the minorities (I was thinking mostly of the Karen) aren’t numerous, but they are pretty effective guerrilla fighters and presumably could make a lot of problems if they started giving aid to government opponents in the city. I assume that their calculation for the moment is that a non-army government is not necessarily any friendlier to them that the present or past set ups.

        I guess the ‘good’ side of this is that if the tribal areas were to successfully drive out the army, they would be geographically distinct enough to create separate kingdoms without compromising the core population area of Myanmar. In other words, Myanmar could break up without necessarily turning into Somalia or Libya. In theory, anyway.

        The Thai military do seem to have quite a malign influence on the whole region, including Laos and Cambodia.

      2. airgap

        “Colorful history aside, I don’t know that opium will ever again be the huge cash cow it once was in the Golden Triangle, although no doubt it will stay in the mix”.

        The new cash cow in the Golden Triangle, which due to international pressure and competition from Afghanistan, has for more than a decade been yaba. Yaba is a methamphetamine laced little pink pill that can be smoked, injected, snorted or just swallowed. Over the past several years crystal meth (ice) has become the product. It is estimated to bring in $60 billion of cash per year. This is a frightening amount of money.

    3. drumlin woodchuckles

      I have read ( can’t find links just now), that at least some of the ethnic militia-groups and movements are offering to be part of a new Federal Army if the current army can be defeated and abolished and all-the-way decomissioned. Perhaps if the protesting majority among the Bamar ethnic majority itself can tear the army and the police forces partway down enough that all the border state ethnic militia movements feel fairly safe and certain that they could help tear the army and the police forces the rest of the all-the-way down by co-ordinating all-at-once decisive attacks, they may do so.

      I would not dare to predict if such a thing would happen or not. But I think a sign of it getting ready to happen would be . . . if the ethnic militias tried their hardest to destroy every rail and road link between China and Burma over the mountains . . . so that China could not send any assistance to the Myanmar Army and Police forces.

      ( If they also sought to destroy every road and rail link between Burma and Thailand over that extension of those same mountains so that China could not invade North Burma through Thailand, then that would mean the ethnic militias have gotten very serious very fast and are going to gamble everything).

  10. John A

    Re Capitalism and Greed Gave Britain Its Vaccine Success, PM Johnson Says

    Not to worry, Johnson’s chief groupie, BBC political correspondend Laura Kuenssberg was quick to tweet the following reassurance, namely it was just ladz banter:

    “More on PM’s ‘greed’ comments – one of those present says Johnson was having a crack at Chief Whip, Mark Spencer, who was gobbling a cheese + pickle sandwich while he was talking about the vaccine, ‘it was hardly Gordon Gekko’, ‘it was banter’.”

    So that is all alright then. And MSM wonder why fewer and fewer people take them seriously

    1. Halcyon

      She’s been notorious for basically just tweeting the content of various Whatsapp chats as journalism for years and now no longer hides it. Access/client journalism at its very, very worst.

  11. PlutoniumKun

    Germany imposes strict lockdown over Easter Deutsche Welle

    The latest news is that Merkel has withdrawn the lockdown proposal and apologised. I’ve no idea what’s going on there, anyone in Germany can enlighten us?

    1. Isotope_C14

      I don’t know the details of this, I’ve been busy in the tissue culture hood growing stem cells.

      I’m guessing that due to the fact that Germany is fragmented into states similar to the US, that none of them agreed on anything, and that is just how it is. Rumor was on the Chancellor’s zoom meeting with these politicians that she had to spend 7 hours on the phone begging them to concede to even the idea of a lockdown. Someone probably came up with some crazy German law that hasn’t been used in decades to say no, money comes first, health comes last.

      They also probably all see the 14 day forecast and are fully aware that every German and his brother will be out on the hiking trails. Looking quite warm to the south, and we won’t get quite that warm, but it will beat this last week of chilly overcast gloom.

      1. Arizona Slim

        ISTR reading that Germany the country did not exist until the late 1800s. Before then, there were separate entities like Saxony and Bavaria.

        This could explain why Germany’s modern-day states are still determined to have their own way and go their own way.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          The German federal system is both a strength and a weakness. They have very strong institutional structures at ground level, but getting something done at a national level is like herding cats. Its one reason German cities are so well run, but they always struggle with national level infrastructure.

          The relative newness of Germany and its federal structure is also a key reason why Germany has so many similar sized powerful cities – unlike most European countries it doesn’t have one dominant city (such as Paris or Vienna or London) acting as a death star over all the others. Even Berlin isn’t all that big or powerful relative to the other major urban areas.

          1. The Rev Kev

            I noticed that about Germany. You only had a few big cities like Bremen and Hamburg and most other cities were only a few hundred thousand in population size. That made the cities very livable, you often met friends while out and about and a walk in the nearby woods was not a hard effort to do. Seems that an optimum size for a city is about 100,000 to 250,000 people.

            1. Isotope_C14

              All good comments from Plutonium, Kev, Slim, and herding cats is 100%.

              You also have something that I find so nuts is that Germans all hate each other. Everyone hates the Bavarian accent, except the Bavarians. Everyone says Dresden has a funny accent. Austrians don’t speak German is something you would normally hear from a Northern German. People from Stuttgart don’t speak German, they speak something like Swabian. Don’t even get started with the Swiss.

              So WTH did the Nazi’s want to unite all of the disparate “Germans” across Europe? As far as I can tell, they all can’t stand each other, which is hysterical because Germans always say when they see you, not “How are you” but “Have you learned German yet?” – it’s a rigged question. Which German do you mean? The Dresden dialect? Oh no, not that one…

              I get why Rammstein and Einstürzende Neubauten are not currently loved by the locals. Self reflection is not a talent of the populous here.

              So weird of a video, and it’s quite poetic (Sabrina), and not as controversial as “Deutschland” which is a marvelous video, but pretty hard music:


    2. km

      I suspect that, if she didn’t know it already, Merkel has simply learned that you don’t give orders that you do not know will be obeyed.

      1. Irrational

        Especially in an election year when the latest polls were awful and it is the bishops complaining about the policy of the Christian Democratic Union.
        But then it is insane to seemingly permit holidays abroad, while limiting them at home with abstruse rules!

  12. John A

    The wheels are really coming off at the BBC. Last week 2 breakfast TV presenters were reprimanded for joking that the tory politician they had just interviewed had a too small union jack flag and picture of queen behind him, and the pair have not been seen on air since. Yesterday, apropos the so-called riots in Bristol against tory moves to ban ‘noisy’ protests, a BBC journo tweeted above a photo of the carnage ‘riot police with dogs as arrests are made after Bristol’s second protest in three days turns ugly. It was peaceful before police arrived’.
    The tweet has naturally enough now been deleted. Incidentally, Bristol was where protesters toppled a statue of a slave trader and chucked it in the local river. A ‘crime’ that the government now wants to make an offence worth 10 years in prison. Bristol was a major port in the slave trading triangle between Britain, Africa and America.

    1. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you, John.

      There’s a good write-up of how the Tories imposed many allies at the BBC during the coalition, a process that has continued to this day. If I can find it again, I will ask Yves to post.

      The BBC tweeted yesterday that Charlie Stayt and Naga Munchetty “had been spoken to after viewer complaints”. Johnson referred to that sort of dissent at the BBC when addressing the 1922 committee yesterday evening.

      The carry on with flags and now photos of HM is surreal.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Thank you Colonel. There was an article that came out some time last year how this was part of a plan. To appeal to British patriotism with flags and symbols and appeals about veterans if I recall correctly and it looks like they are carrying this plan out. I could not find the original article but here is one from a coupla weeks ago talking about this-

        1. Redlife2017

          I’ve been thinking about this and I do see the Labour focus on nationalism and the flag is basically turning into an arms race with a massive amount of one-upmanship.

          The BBC is totally useless now – only good for light entertainment, nature documentaries, and children’s programmes.

          It will be interesting to see what cul-de-sac we get ourselves into with this nonsense. This will be the excuse and driver of some pretty horrible policies…(I mean on top of the awful stuff already being done).

          1. PlutoniumKun

            It is beyond idiocy that anyone in Labour thinks they can beat the Tories at the flag waving stuff. You really have to question the quality of the advice Starmer is getting (of course, its his fault if he is not picking good advisors).

            1. Halcyon

              Keir, Keir, Keir, always the general fighting the last war. I’ll not live to see anyone but the Tories in power.

            2. JTMcPhee

              Seems to be working for the Dems (our nominal equivalent of Labour.) They are busily out-patriot-izing and Imperializing the US Tory equivalent (?). Flag lapel pins, flags in every photo op, trillions for the war machine, and in bed with the repressive machinery of the State…

              And of course we have the Neoliberal Propaganda Radio here, staffed with people from the reactionary staffing services, ever since Reagan…

              1. drumlin woodchuckles

                Wouldn’t it be neat if someday some young rebel office-seeker were to run for office without a flag pin? And whenever someone accused herm for it or sneeringly asked herm about it or sarcastified herm about it, heeshee could say “any scoundrel can wear a flag pin . . . . I see you have yours on.”

        2. Colonel Smithers

          Thank you, Rev.

          Starmer has a former Trotskyist, Claire Ainsley, and two former Israeli soldiers as advisers. The latter were “suggested” by donors like Sir Trevor Chinn.

      2. Halcyon

        What’s happening at the BBC is utterly ridiculous. I can essentially only read it now as sheer state propaganda. I have no idea whether it’s the result of decades of propaganda that it has a “liberal or left-wing bias”, or perhaps more transparently the fact that the government keeps threatening its license fee and replacing key influential members of its hierarchy with old Tory donors, but they have become putty in the hands of the government.

        They’re even coming for any comedians who had the temerity to criticize the government to replace them with right-wing comedy (see Mr Nish Kumar). “Cancel culture” indeed.

  13. The Rev Kev

    “The radical unavailability of Joe Biden”

    ‘The president is calming US politics by not saying very much’

    If he calms US politics any more by this method, they may have to put his picture on the sides of milk cartons.

    1. Keith

      I think it was a politico article that discussed this, Jack Schafer maybe, but the crux of it was the tactic worked during the election so why not now. Also pointed out was that Obama was similar in avoiding the press, relying instead on his media team.

      As long as you have the lapdog press, why not run with a winning plan.

    2. km

      I’d like to see Biden’s mug on a “Wanted” poster.

      “WANTED – for Waging Aggressive War, Crimes Against Peace and Crimes Against Humanity. If you see this man, contact law enforcement immediately. Do not approach, unless you are a lying dog-faced pony soldier.”

  14. Wukchumni

    How Much Weight Did We Gain During Lockdowns? 2 Pounds a Month, Study Hints NYT
    I was doing so well in the first half of the pandemic Superbowl, keeping fighting trim and walking the usual mountain miles as is my habit, and then months of 150-400 AQI smoke from wildfires forced me into the great indoors, followed by a torn retina in a time of year when i’d always let myself go fallow somewhat, but never so much as this winter when I went on a see food diet, a one man conquering army of sorts.

    I’m in the home stretch of eye issues I hope, with cataract surgery on one orbit yesterday, with the other socket to be done in a fortnight, and back to ‘normal’ but its difficult to get back into shape, and hopefully an early summer (there is essentially very little in the way of snowpack here in the southern Sierra, it’ll be gone by May mostly) will be quite the catalyst.

    As for now, i’ll still in the binge bin and the only way to stop me from eating too much of the wrong comfort food is to not have it around, good luck with that!

    The longest i’d walked from Labor Day to present was a 6 mile dayhike, and then before surgery yesterday, went on a 34 mile backpack trip last week which only highlighted how I let myself go, getting into camp after 10 mile days, exhausted from the effort.

    The only sliver lining for me in the ordeal, being that if my eye issues had occurred in say this June instead, it would’ve wiped out my summer with no possibility of going to altitude, so i’m thankful for the timing.

    1. Carla

      So sorry to hear about your rough year and your eye troubles, Wukchumni. I’ve actually lost a couple of pounds since Feb. 2020, which I attribute to no restaurant meals! Unfortunately, my body has changed shape and not in a good way. The same thing happened to my mom when she was about my age. Although I’ve been able to get out for almost daily walks (albeit just a mile or so in the very coldest weather), I know I don’t step with the same energy as a year ago. Hope that returns with more of the wonderful spring weather we’re starting to enjoy.

    2. Lunker Walleye

      The Great British Baking Show is who I am blaming for weight gain — oh, and King Arthur baking. It’s so easy to be inspired by the beauty of the cakes by GBBS contestants, but for instant gratification, I’ve resorted to a very simple cake recipe slathered with buttercream frosting. That and a simple drop sugar cookie recipe aided in putting back in place the weight lost 1-1/2 years ago.

      Best wishes for good vision.

      1. petal

        Lunker, I feel you. It’s been hard for me because the KA flagship store is only 2 miles away. Don’t look in my cabinets!

    3. PlutoniumKun

      Best of luck with your eye troubles.

      I’m kind of surprised that so many people are gaining weight – around my way all I see are people relieving lockdown boredom by walking and cycling and jogging – my local parks have been packed with people all year, even in bad weather. It may be different out in the ‘burbs where there aren’t always good options for exercise. I suspect the primary reason is snacking (and maybe alcohol) at home while working and in the evenings.

      1. Wukchumni

        The outdoors is the clear winner in the pandemic, and you see it everywhere. I was in both of the Wal*Marts in Visalia recently and usually they have around 50x $75-250 bikes in each location, but demand being what is, there was a grand total of about half a dozen bicycles for sale, all for the 5-8 year old set.

        Friends who mountain bike a lot tell me its the same story for $3-5k expensive rides, hardly anything for sale.

        I hear similar stories in regards to other types of outdoor gear, and i’d guess half of the people we saw on the Sespe trail last week were all sporting new backpacks…

        1. PlutoniumKun

          Its the exact same here. A 6 month wait for any almost type of bike, whether a cheap city bike or top of the range mtb or road bike. The bike shops find it very frustrating to be turning away so many customers with cash in hand. All the outdoors shops have struggled with stock. Most didn’t even bother with new year sales.

    4. Sutter Cane

      I was doing so well in the first half of the pandemic

      Me too, I canceled my gym membership but was doing bodyweight workouts and was still in pretty good (maybe even better!) shape for the first few months of the pandemic. I lost my motivation by around August, though, and I don’t even have the excuses of wildfire smoke or personal injury. By summer it got so hot that, once I started sweating from a workout, there was no cooling down the rest of the day. That, and well, just being generally depressed. Working from home was great at first, and I don’t miss commuting, but having home be the location for work, leisure, AND the gym has just been too much. I gained a few pounds but I guess I’m glad to see I at least gained fewer than the average! Pending vaccination and the possibility of actually meeting socially with other vaccinated folks has helped me see the light at the end of the tunnel and I’ve started moving my now larded posterior again…

    1. Arizona Slim

      Sotto voce: I know I’m not supposed to say things like this, and I’m not even adding the mandatory “I’m no Trump fan” disclaimer, but I thought that a lot of Trump’s tweets were pretty funny.

      And the liberals’ reactions to them? Priceless! They reminded me of a former boss, and his interactions with one of the employees who preceded me.

      This was during the 1990s, said employee had a strong dislike for the First Lady, and Bob the Boss knew just what to do. He’d tell said employee that he was reading an article in our local fishwrap, and the article mentioned that Hillary said …

      Said employee would go ballistic! At the thought that Bob would mention her name!

      Well, Bob was a fun-loving guy, and he realized that he had discovered the perfect way to bait said employee. So, he did the Hillary-quoted-in-the-newspaper thing, over and over again.

      Said employee never caught on to the fact that Bob was baiting him.

      1. John A

        Trump once in a tweet referred to the heir to the british throne as the Prince of Whales,
        I thought that was pretty funny.

        1. TroyIA

          My favorite was when Trump called Stormy Daniels horseface in a tweet. Say horseface slowly and see if you catch the double meaning.

    2. The Rev Kev

      That’s good news about that ship. Seems that they were able to partially re-float it and will be towing it out of the way soon. Couldn’t help but think what would happen if a ship with a large amount of ammonium nitrate went off like happened with those stores in Beirut somewhere near one of the locks-

      1. ObjectiveFunction

        There are no locks on the Suez canal.

        But, blockships….

        Mr. Vane asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs how many of the ships wilfully and illegally sunk by the Egyptians in the Suez Canal had been prepared as blockships.
        §Mr. Selwyn Lloyd The Anglo-French salvage unit counted 22 wrecks in Port Said and the United Nations reported 16 wrecks south of El Cap. Our own information shows that one wreck, the “Akka,” was deliberately prepared as a blockship, being filled with concrete and towed into a planned scuttling position in the channel. She presented a very difficult problem in salvage but has now been raised.
        At Port Said most of the wrecks had apparently been sunk in haste and by means of explosives. All but four obstructed the fairway to a greater or lesser extent.

        1. timotheus

          Wasn’t that how Nassar faced down the Anglo-French-Israeli invasion in 1956? Blocking the canal with a few rusty old boats?

  15. The Rev Kev

    “European coronavirus update and its implications”

    ‘We are not safe until everyone in the world is safe simply because deadly mutant strains can form in the unvaccinated population. A recent Israeli study showed the Pfizer vaccine was not equally effective against all variants, for example.’

    Yeah, about that. If this is true, then perhaps it might be wise for the Israelis to vaccinate those millions of Palestinians for self-interest instead of trying to pretend that Israel has no control over what happens in the Palestinian territories. So far, the only Palestinians they have vaccinated are those 9,000 or so that cross the border to do work in Israel. Be a real shame if a new strain infected Palestinians there who then carried it across the border to Israel and all those vaccinations counted for zip.

  16. NV

    Regarding the Wired article, ‘A Better Path to Tech Reform? Felony Charges’ : I am hoping that Diana Florence, candidate for Manhattan DA, wins, because she is proposing that the decades long practice of fraud perpetuated by the city agencies handling tenant issues, be prosecuted as felonies. As someone who has testified before New York City Council half a dozen times, I could talk for hours about this, and about the betrayal of politicians, especially those whose identities would lead one to trust them.

  17. Polar Donkey

    Spoke with a friend last night works in the FedEx hub in Memphis. FedEx and Amazon in a battle for labor force. Start hourly wage at both places is $18 and will go up soon. Many workers jump back and forth between the two. Generally, Amazon is seen a better place to work. Labor market so tight for FedEx that it is rehiring fired workers sometimes within 2 weeks of the firing. Used to be if you got fired you could never go back. I worked in the hub 25 years ago. Even back then FedEx was working to automate the sort as much as possible. It looks like they are close to achieving that goal. There is a massive building near completion that uses robots to do the sort. A senior person told my friend 50 jobs will be eliminated for every one that is retained. Robot mechanic will be the only job growth. 18,000 people work in the hub. The bottom half of the Memphis economy will collapse with automation and the city will be unliveable. All Memphis has is warehouse/distribution jobs.

  18. noonespecial

    Re: Time article Afghanistan

    Above link: “Rural Afghans will find themselves stuck in the crossfire as a scorned Taliban squares off against a reanimated U.S.-led counterinsurgency backed by deafening airpower.”

    But those US gov’t-approved military contracts just seem to make so much sense /s/. Just. Get. Out. Of There.

    From (3/21/2021)

    Interview with John Sopko Inspector General for reconstruction in Afghanistan…

    “[Sopko is quoted], ‘Based on all the work we’ve done, it seems obvious that the biggest mistake we’ve made was to try to build an Afghan Army in our own image and likeness…In other words, an Army that uses the systems and the equipment and the weapons that our army does.’…

    Last year, the Defense Department Inspector General’s Office determined that the U.S. military had awarded more than $14 million for an internet-based system to help Afghan keep track of their vehicles and weapons, which the Afghans were not using at 78 of 191 storage sites because they had no electricity or internet connection.”

    1. Jack White

      “Afghanistan is likely to spiral into more violence.” Another possibility is something resembling the Tet Offensive of 1968.

      1. ambrit

        I’m wondering if the collapse of Afghanistan will drag Pakistan down with it. Pakistan has a strong Army, and supposedly a strong public sphere, but, how resilient are they? I’ve read of the ‘border areas’ of Pakistan as being almost like autonomous theocratic zones.
        Add up Myanmar, Afghanistan and bordering states and I see this as a crisis of the post-colonial era. The present day borders of many former colonial regions were drawn by the colonial powers back when things like ethnicity and local power relationships were often ignored. A grand wave of breakups and realignments is headed our way.
        Such a dynamic is helpful to the globalists. Smaller polities are easier to sway, inveigle, and outright bully by predatory transnational ‘concerns.’

  19. zagonostra

    >Why Does the US Pay the Highest Prices in the World for Prescription Drugs? (hearing) U.S. SENATE

    Bernie Sanders opens up the committee hearing with the following:

    There is an interesting debate among the the people of this country on which powerful special interest has the most clout with Capitol Hill. Some say it’s Wall Street, other the MIC, some the Fossil Fuel industry. I myself think it’s Big Pharma.

    So not only does a former President (Carter) state that the U.S. has become a plutocracy, Sander’s pretty much corroborates it. His remark is so jejune that it doesn’t even register in anyone’s consciousness anymore. It’s accepted. It’s reinforcing that this is the reality we live in. You fight your little incremental battles by holding hearings and trying to improve things as much as you can. But like gravity, the form of gov’t where powerful special interest dominate the legislative process is an ineluctable force of nature.

    It’s similar to HRC saying the M4A will never happen even though the majority of the citizens want it. Or, AOC saying that the only way to get $15 MinWage now is for people to mobilize and exert pressure on their Representative. The message is clear, your government is run by powerful special interest, it has been for a long time, and only incremental change can happen, and that only with people having to mobilize. This is a sclerotic political system that will have a cardiac arrest before long.

    1. Jason

      The most powerful “special interest” of all – as demonstrated by the fact it’s taboo to even mention in the same breath with all the other powerful special interests – is most commonly referred to these days as “the Israel lobby.”

  20. The Rev Kev

    ‘Thomas van Linge
    This is probably the most insane footage I’ve seen of #Myanmar so far. It shows how since the coup the county’s cities have turned into battlefields. Protesters and the #Tatmadaw fight it out from behind their barricades.’

    They are in the middle of a pitched fight and I am seeing a lot of ad-hoc tactics and weapons. Thing is, a lot of tactics, equipment and weapons were developed during the riots in Hong Kong not too long ago. It is a wonder that lessons learned there have not been disseminated to places like here. Just from what I am seeing, I can think of one simple device that could be made in minutes that would help them out and make it more safe to observe their opponents-

    Don’t laugh. Soldiers used such devices in WW1 trenches.

  21. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Why Does the US Pay the Highest Prices in the World for Prescription Drugs? (hearing) U.S. SENATE COMMITTEE ONHealth, Education Labor & Pensions. Starts at 14:42.


    1. WobblyTelomeres

      Just another theatric shakedown, if you ask me. Get their lobbyist once-and-future coworkers more of that phat pharma money as a bonus, too.

      Gawd, I’m cynical today. Think I’ll take a long walk.

  22. Chromex

    “The United States fears Russia could use Nord Stream 2 as leverage to weaken EU states by increasing dependency on Moscow.”
    And decreasing profits er dependency for the US -based companies that are the “United States” masters.
    The “United States” as a whole could give a fig about the comfort of various ceos and most people in the “United States” would not have the nerve to characterize someone in a foreign country buying cheaper natural gas as inimical to US “security”. Our “meddling” foreign policy is entirely ruling class profit-based.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      The real issue here is not the EU becoming dependent on Russia for energy – it already is – but that the explicit intention is to weaken the power of eastern European countries who have used the pipelines crossing their lands as leverage. Nord Stream II is a way for the Germans to deal directly with Russia without having to involve the Poles or anyone else.

      European policy on gas is set out quite explicitly in a number of documents – it is to set up a variety of alternative sources to reduce geopolitical dependency. This is why LNG facilities are being constructed when pipelines are cheaper – its to allow Europe spread its buying from Russia to the Middle East to the US. For the US to insert itself in this is just stupid politics.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Another factor is that countries like the Ukraine earn billions from gas transit fees so if the Germans can bypass them, the gas will be even cheaper for them. So if the budget in the Ukraine goes into freefall over this, guess who they will demand financial aid from? Wait until you hear the wailing start when the planned Nord Stream III starts construction.

          1. Polar Socialist

            It also seems to have been normal for Ukraine not to pay either transit fees or for their own gas to Russia, but rather ‘misplace’ the money. When Russia (or, to be more precise, Gasprom) threatens to cut the supply due to unpaid bills, Ukraine pleads for EU to help them. And often try to fleece that money, too. Since EU has to pay to get their gas – which they paid already.

            It’s a good business, Ukrainian energy sector. You apparently don’t need any particular skills to make good money in it. Just good connections.

  23. Wukchumni

    Summer is coming in. The days are getting longer, and lake, sea, and river water are getting warmer.

    This leads to a desire on the part of some national park patrons to take off their clothes and a similar number of fellow taxpayers to complain about nudity, with the hapless park ranger in the middle. This can lead to problems.

    Guess i’ve been in close to 250 lakes in the High Sierra & Sequoia NP in particular and not once did I ever have a stitch of clothing on, even when there were others around, nobody cares in the backcountry.

    Hot springs are a bit trickier and it all boils down to how easy access is, you’d never be naked @ a pay to enter hot springs in the USA, but soaks in ‘primitive’ out of the way places are a natural.

    We’re headed to Saline Valley hot springs soon, and it’s an oddity in that despite being in a National Park and you can very nearly drive up to the tubs, you’d feel awkward having clothes on, as 9 out of 10 soakers are in birthday suits, the rule rather than the exception.

    Sometimes I wonder if a classic Daily Mail naked expose of goings on @ Saline hot springs in Death Valley NP would cause a change in the view of the NPS that nudity is ok there, as it’s really the only place i’m aware of in the whole NP system where it is tolerated, were I to be in the buff around the Sherman Tree here, I guess i’d be arrested within 15 minutes, with the law enforcement officer taking care to make sure I was swiftly swept out of view, oh the humanity!

  24. The Rev Kev

    “Saudi Arabia offers cease-fire plan to Yemen rebels”

    The Saudi plan is a non-starter. They want to have a cease-fire (mostly because they are losing on the battlefield) while keeping up most of the starvation blockade. This plan is based on a proposal by a U.S. Special Envoy so an article in Responsible Statecraft suggested that this plan was designed to appease the US rather than have something workable. And the Houthies have already rejected that proposal so why should they accept it this time. In short, the Saudis have lost this war. They just don’t want to admit it yet-

    1. km

      Even if they wanted to, the Saudis cannot admit that they have lost.

      The War on Yemen was MBS’ baby, and an awful lot of MBS’ dear relatives would like nothing more than to see him receive the treatment that he meted out to other members of his extended family.

      Saudi Arabia having to admit that it lost that war, MBS’ war, would be just the excuse the fam is looking for.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        The family dynamic has always made me suspect the war is about keeping potentially less loyal forces to MBS away from Riyadh especially if the US were to have a President who would be fine supporting a different family member. Or even the Chinese and Russians.

        I know the Saudis don’t want to have functioning Muslim majority states because it might make Saudi Arabia’s stability seem less palatable. Why bring in Bandar Bush when you could bring in Speaker or Consul X for advice?

  25. paul

    RE: Sturgeon turns up heat after seeing off No Confidence bid.

    What strange headline.
    A spokesperson for our wretched FM merely:

    hinted that she would turn up the heat on the constitution

    She has no more intention of doing that than PM Johnson. It’ll be kept locked up in the deep freezer while she’s around.

    Anyway her personal prosecution service has closed down Craig Murray’s site:

    Temporary Blog Closure
    March 24, 2021 in Uncategorized by craig

    In view of our understanding that the High Court has found some articles on this blog to be in contempt of court, and in view of the fact that the Crown Office had sought to censor such a large range of articles, this blog has no choice but to go dark from 15.00 today until some time after tomorrow’s court hearing, when it will be specified to us precisely how much of the truth we have to expunge before we can bring the blog back up.

    This is a dark day for the entire team here. We will be looking to appeal this to the Supreme Court and if required (though we very much doubt it will be) to the European Court of Human Rights.

    1. chuck roast

      In his last post Murray wrote that the justices Lady Watch-A-Ma-Call-It, Lord Waddlemore and Lord Fauntleroy were putting the kibosh on him. Putting this sort of thing in print is a violation of the good taste required towards minor royalty and punishable by silencing. Peer to Not-so-Peer. Maybe the lefties should concentrate on consigning the Royals and their entitled hangers-on to histories dust-bin as a first order of business. The Second Glorious Revolution. Up with Bonnie Prince Bob!

  26. Wukchumni

    Anybody on here have their catalytic converter stolen?

    I do a news search once a week on the subject matter and the stories come from everywhere & the robberies keep rising, as all a thief needs is a jack & a Sawzall and you’re in business, and will recoup your investment in those 2 items with just a couple of pinched cat converters, easy peasy.

    Thieves are especially hot after the catalytic converters on the Mitsubishi Outlander sport utility vehicle and the hybrid Toyota Prius. The Prius has a converter that is used less frequently to process pollutants, meaning the precious metals inside them are less likely to corrode.

    So it was no surprise to Will Creech, manager at Pace Tire & Service Center in West St. Paul, when he tried to get a Prius catalytic converter from Toyota recently and was told it was on backorder.

    “It depends on the year, but it took almost a month to get a cat on that particular Prius,” Creech said. He added that customers become even more frustrated when they are told it is illegal to drive without the part and, if they do, it could cause engine issues and damage to other components.

    Thieves are especially hot after the catalytic converters on the Mitsubishi Outlander sport utility vehicle and the hybrid Toyota Prius. The Prius has a converter that is used less frequently to process pollutants, meaning the precious metals inside them are less likely to corrode.

    The problem has been worse in Minneapolis, where catalytic converter thefts jumped from 207 in 2019 to 1,474 in 2020. This year, there have been nearly 400 thefts, compared with 290 during the same period of 2020. This year’s cases include reports of thieves using a tow truck to move a car and then steal the part.

    1. KB

      My vehicle parked in the garage. However, my camera caught the thief who removed my neighbor’s Prius one in the middle of the night and she parked in the street….The task is loud too and nobody woke up unfortunately…This was more in the beginning of this, maybe last fall?…so she got another and some kind of security device around it now..
      I live in the area of your link.
      They also do it in broad daylight these days..I feel sorry for those who have to park in a parking lot.

    2. Harold

      Yes. In 2019. It was a very traumatic experience, as we cannot afford another car. Coincided with shattering sudden death of beloved cat from intestinal cancer. But being without a car is liberating in a way — from insurance payments, on-street parking headaches, repairs, etc. Except when we want to travel. Rental experience not too great. I have taken long bus rides — Bolt bus not too bad. But you are kind of stuck without a car in most non-urban places, totally dependent on others. Have new rescue cat but still upset about old one. She was one-in-a-million.

    3. Geo

      Yup. Had mine stolen in January. Prius. Was parked in an Downtown L.A. parking garage for about six hours.

      Tow truck driver said he has a few of these every week. The repair place said they have a few similar cases a day.

      For an extra $90 they installed a protective plate that supposedly makes stealing the cc harder. We’ll see!

    4. Xihuitl

      Yup. Toyota Prius Parked on a busy street in Houston for about two hours in the early evening (dark) dinner hour several months ago. Couple of other Prius owners I know too. Fortunately I have a locked garage to park in. I don’t drive it anywhere at night now.

  27. UserFriendlyyy

    The New Concert of Powers Foreign Affairs

    I don’t think anything I have ever read has triggered my gag reflex quite like this. Imagine being so confident in your innate superiority. It just gives me hives knowing people this utterly unself-aware exist in the world.

  28. RMO

    RE: Canada vaccine effort “They’d better hurry” Yeah they had better. Here in BC it was handled well and contained at first then around November cases exploded to near 1000 per day. We’ve been bouncing between 500 and 750 per day lately, the majority of cases in the 20-29 year old range. The vaccination schedule seems to be getting better though. A month ago the schedule had my 80+ mum only being able to try to get an appointment on March 22 but she got her first shot last Friday. It will be four months until the second shot though.

    It still angers me that we have the UK and South African variants here now – any travel from them should have been shut down altogether when the new variants first appeared and control of anyone arriving from anywhere out of country should have been much stricter and more controlled the whole time.

  29. UserFriendlyyy

    The Need to Link Arms With Every Oppressed Sector: An Exclusive Conversation With Rey Valmores-Salinas Twink Revolution (DG).

    Decent interview. I absolutely love comments part of the website:

    We are quite sure that many readers will now wish to criticize the author(s). For the convenience of readers, a check list of appropriate criticisms is given below; however, of course, readers are not limited to the check list.

    Rotten Liberalism
    Fails to chart a perspective
    Petty Bourgeois Cynicism

Comments are closed.