Links 3/5/2021

Mysterious sea beast that weighs four tonnes and stretches more than 23ft in length washes up on beach in Wales Daily Mail

Long-Lost Babbler Bird Documented in Borneo for the First Time in Over 170 Years Smithsonian

Big data and machine learning in central banking Bank of International Settlements

We must clean up global finance to ‘build back better’ FT

Talking (and reading) about Bitcoin Adam Tooze, Chartbook. Link-heavy, and quite a good read.

Bitcoin, 11-years in Moneyness. From 2019, hoisted by Barry Ritholtz.

Bill Gates Says Bitcoin Is Bad for the Planet. He’s Not Wrong. Popular Mechanics (re Silc).


A Mixed Grade for COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout: More People See It as Effective but Frustration Is Still High Morning Consult

Estimated SARS-CoV-2 Seroprevalence Among Persons Aged <18 Years — Mississippi, May–September 2020 CDC

COVID‐19, children and schools: overlooked and at risk Medical Journal of Australia. Response to critics.

Thousands of students reported “missing” from school systems nationwide amid COVID-19 pandemic ABC

Alabama extends mask mandate 1 month, bucking other GOP-led states The Hill. Alabama’s Governor isn’t contemplating the Republican primaries in a Presidential run…..

Where Are We in Finding the Coronavirus’s Origin? Bloomberg. Good roundup.


China targets 6% growth after reining in coronavirus FT

China’s economy could double in size by 2035, according to the Bank of America Business Insider

Hong Kong polls to be postponed for second year as part of Beijing’s planned overhaul of elections, with expansion in store for legislature, Election Committee South China Morning Post

Is China Killing off its “Little Fresh Meat”? Jing Daily

U.S., Vietnam Interests ‘Aligned’ Amid Some Tensions, Says U.S. Envoy Bloomberg

Asian Military Spending: A Sign of Worsening Security Environment The Diplomat


Fleeing Junta Orders, Nineteen Myanmar Police Seek Refuge in India The Wire

Myanmar junta tried to withdraw $1.3 billion from US bank Sydney Morning Herald

Battlefield by day, graveyard by night: one reporter’s view of the street protests Frontier Myanmar


Indian farmers plan major road blockade outside Delhi to mark 100th day of protests Reuters. This enormous story is undercovered, even on the left.

Google Invests Billions in India as Modi and Allies Stage Corporate Takeover of Agriculture Eyes on the Ties

When Meenakshi beats a pot 3000 times People’s Archive of Rural India


Nurses’ fury as ministers offer them ‘pitiful’ pay rise of just ONE PER CENT after a year at the forefront of the battle against coronavirus Daily Mail

Inside the ‘Covid Triangle’: a catastrophe years in the making FT

Northern Irish loyalist paramilitaries withdraw support for 1998 peace deal Reuters (Re Silc).

The Disappearing Spy Blogmire. The Skripal case.

EU blocks export of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines to Australia Deutsche Welle

How a coronavirus variant is overrunning Brazil Deutsche Welle

Indigenous groups sue French retailer over destruction of Amazon rainforest France24

Lawyer and Chevron critic Donziger’s civil contempt finding mostly upheld; fees and sanctions vacated Westlaw

Biden Administration

Democrats can’t kill the filibuster. But they can gut it. Normal Ornstein, WaPo

Purging Inconvenient Facts in Coverage of Biden’s ‘First’ Air Attacks FAIR

ERCOT overcharged power companies $16 billion for electricity during winter freeze, firm says Texas Tribune

Brian Houston Apologizes For Hillsong NYC’s ‘Failings,’ Promises Whistleblower Policy The Roys Report

Dr. Seuss Books Deemed Offensive Will Be Delisted From eBay WSJ.

Capitol Seizure

The disputed timelines of the Capitol riot WaPo

A midlevel member of the Trump State Dept. has been arrested on charges related to the Capitol attack. NYT

Federal investigators are examining communications between US lawmakers and Capitol rioters CNN

Officers maced, trampled: Docs expose depth of Jan. 6 chaos AP

Court narrows law used to target white supremacists Politico

Democrats en Deshabille

Reports: NY officials altered count of nursing home deaths AP

Why ‘Cuomo’s death order’ didn’t really cause NY’s nursing home carnage. A reality check

Health Care

Most older Americans take multiple prescriptions but haven’t received medication review, unaware Medicare covers it Becker’s Hospital Review

Imperial Collapse Watch

An “emotional” moment at an NSC meeting shows why withdrawing from Afghanistan is so hard Vox

Class Warfare

Twitter Worked With Amazon to Block Payday, Labeling Payday & Other Labor Reporters as “Suspicious Content” Payday Report

Amazon closes North Las Vegas warehouse for day after employee suicide Las Vegas Review-Journal

As coal dies, the US has no plan to help the communities left behind Grist

Disposable People Econoblog

The death of American dignity Unherd

How Law Made Neoliberalism Boston Review

Mars: Nasa’s Perseverance rover sends stunning images BBC

All Of Humanity’s Problems Are Caused By A Lack Of Awareness Caitlin Johnstone

Do conversations end when people want them to? PNAS

The Judgment of Paris The Baffler

Yoga influencers have stretched themselves FT

In Nogales, joy endures High Country News

Japan’s tsunami survivors call lost loves on the phone of the wind Reuters

Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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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. The Rev Kev

    “Dr. Seuss Books Deemed Offensive Will Be Delisted From eBay”

    You may not be able to get those Dr. Seuss books on eBay, but fortunately they are still selling copies of “Mein Kampf” on there.

    1. Toshiro_Mifune

      Yeah. It doesn’t take much imagination to see where this is headed and the fun times ahead.

      1. epynonymous

        I think its like ‘beanie babies’ for misplaced outrage.

        It also reminds me of all the unsold merchandise demonizing Joe Biden from CPAC this year.

        Not that pro-obama merch is any better. Their books are a marketing pitch at best, and a bland offense to meaning itself at worst.

    2. Alex Morfesis

      And woke entertainment folks can still also get their copy of birth of a Nation on wokebay…might it not have been simple enough for Suess and company to update the images and change some of the anti Asians as poor immigrants in America images which seem to be the main issue with at least two of the books ?? Cooley hats can be removed as images from the books and most youngsters today would not have a clue as to what that image is trying to depict…not too many of the 1930’s & 1940’s Fu man Chu and other long mustached images of evil Asian people floating around today…

      1. John Zelnicker

        @Alex Morfesis
        March 5, 2021 at 8:18 am

        Apparently a lot of people have made a similar suggestion to just edit the pictures and text to more closely match the values and mores of today.

        So, shall we also edit Shakespeare’s Othello, or The Merchant of Venice? There’s plenty of racism and anti-semitism in his works.

        Should we edit Catcher in the Rye to make Holden Caulfield less of a jerk?

        How about Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer, or To Kill a Mockingbird? Plenty of racism in those. In fact, efforts have been made over the years to ban those books.

        I mean no offense to you, Alex, but I hope people can see how absurd and ridiculous this idea is.

        Books or other art simply cannot be edited or changed without destroying what makes them valuable and important in the first place.

        1. Alex Morfesis

          There is no actual value in the images in the books…they are not material parts of the story and conform to a long left behind set of “acceptable” notions… although even worse, since Dr Seuss never resonated with me…had never recalled reading much of any of his works…and the “and beyond zebra” book…have no clue what trope was offensive to anyone other than some party with a pHd in esoteric discombobulationism…there was and is no need to have someone in a Cooley hat, thus adding zero to the story…and with all due respect, the “current” version of some of the “classics” you describe have been “adjusted” from their original and many old world classics have been “retranslated” to conform to modern speech patterns…to the Victors and the wealthy enough go the History books… before the printing press the “facts” were available to those who could afford scribes to duplicate the “classic”

        2. Aumua

          There are of course several important differences between Shakespeare and/or Mark Twain and Dr. Suess in this context. I’ll leave it to the capable reader to deduce what those differences might be.

          1. urdsama

            An honest question: what are those differences? Because it’s not clear to me what they are.

        3. wilroncanada

          I claim the exclusive right to edit the bible. My church taught me that sex should be forbidden because it might lead to dancing. That isn’t a veiled threat, Salome, it’s a promis..cuous.

    3. marym

      Some general information:

      The American Library Association’s “Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) receives reports from libraries, schools, and the media on attempts to ban books in communities across the country. We compile lists of challenged books in order to inform the public about censorship efforts that affect libraries and schools. The ALA condemns censorship and works to ensure free access to information.”

      The page at the link below has links to additional detailed historical information on their site. (Note: These all appear to be http not https).

      Of course, the Seuss controversy is about business decisions, not pressure on public entities to ban or censor, which is a different perspective on the direction of the culture as a whole.

    4. Wukchumni

      Meanwhile, ‘my Kevin’ tries to make political hay by claiming the Donkey Show was behind the ousting of some of Dr. Seuss’s tomes, and it of course backfires on him.

      What’s funny is the only accomplishments he has done politically was to rename a trio of post offices & a dam, in essence he was banning the original names, an outlaw of sorts.

      House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) falsely claimed that Democrats had been successful in a quest to “outlaw Dr. Seuss” on Tuesday.

      McCarthy made the remarks from the House floor while speaking against H.R. 1, the For the People Act, a voting rights bill introduced by Democrats. The company that owns the rights to works by Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, had announced on the same day that six of the children’s books would not be republished due to racist images, but the books were not outlawed and Democrats were not involved in the decision.

      “H.R. 1 rewrites election law and imposes one-size-fits-all partisan rules from Washington,” McCarthy said. “Under the Constitution, we generally defer to states and counties to run elections. Democrats want to change that. First they outlaw Dr. Seuss, and now they want to tell us what to say.”

    5. Pelham

      Relatedly, I see the movie classics network TCM is still serving up “Gone With the Wind” (racist) and “Psycho” (transphobic), albeit it with viewer warnings. I applaud their refusal to drop these films, though I find the warnings creepy. But then, given the nature of nearly every old movie, if TCM caved on these two they would soon be forced to drop nearly every title in their archive. Then, buh-bye beloved TCM.

      1. Jason

        Well, all I know is my aunt can’t get TCM anymore because Comcast took it off whatever tier she had. She’s 85 and that and her crosswords and weekly visits from my cousin are all she has left. Now she doesn’t even do her crosswords. But she looks forward to my cousin’s visits even more!

    6. Rick

      Except the decision to pull them was made by the publishers on their own volition because they didn’t want to sell 6 books with racist drawings in them.

      There’s a lot to be said about disingenuous or misdirected woke campaigns, but the Suess books aren’t any kind of hill to die on.

      The controversy over a decision almost everyone misrepresents is mind numbingly stupid.

      1. witters

        First they came for Dr Seuss’ books, “but the Suess books aren’t any kind of hill to die on.”

  2. cnchal

    > Amazon closes North Las Vegas warehouse for day after employee suicide Las Vegas Review-Journal

    Bezos – “get Foxconn on the phone, we need suicide prevention nets and they are the experts”.

    We have come full circle. Industry was moved wholesale to China and Chinese workers are treated like slaves with no rights. Those working condition are being imposed here, with Amazon setting the standard of abuse and everyone else has to match it or fall behind.

      1. Carla

        Agreed. And I do.

        Somehow, I manage to acquire food and goods, get around, and in other-than-pandemic-times, find a place to lay my head when not at home.

        1. Keith

          Amazon number one sales point is convenience, which is their true product. They are not best on price, selection, info, etc, but if you are a lazy smart phone shopper, they are perfect. I couple of clicks and the product is en route, while you can listen to their music or watch a movie via Prime. It is ingenious how they monetized an individual’s laziness, but that is the crux of their success.

      2. Kfish

        Agreed. I’m in Australia, and people are already saying they don’t know what they did before Amazon. It’s only been two years.

  3. fresno dan

    Talking (and reading) about Bitcoin Adam Tooze, Chartbook. Link-heavy, and quite a good read.
    Money talk is political talk. We should be selective in the political talk we engage in. I don’t like the politics of crypto/bitcoin.
    “What backs fiat money?” is the question relentlessly posed by the bitcoin crowd. The question itself is a provocation. The answer that is implied is that “nothing of substance” backs fiat money, so you are foolish to trust the status quo and ought to be running for safety, buying gold and silver. Hoarding gold and silver will make you and your family into a target. So you will need a gun to protect yourselves and ample ammo. Or you could just own bitcoin …
    What backs bitcoin? It is bizarre and naïve to believe anonymous, unaccountable, private individuals will have the interests of bitcoin owners above their own. Who arbitrates legal claims and accusations of fraud???
    There is a great movie called Black Book about the travails of a Jewish woman during world war II. The very first scene is of Jews trying to escape across a river, and have made a deal with German soldiers, trading gold and diamonds for their escape. Of course, the Germans betray them, shoot them all and just steal the gold and diamonds. In a zombie apocalypse (or any apocalypse) there isn’t going to be commerce as the average person has come to understand it. If the world collapses, it won’t go on as normal except with gold and silver coins. And it is only in a Hollywood movie that one or a few people can hold off a hoard for any length of time (where does the water come from). In the gold rush an egg cost the equivalent of 90$ – all your gold will barely buy enough food for a month in a world in which normal food production has ceased, and than all your gold won’t buy you any food…

    1. Wukchumni

      I found this interesting in a turnabout is fair play fashion, as if they believed one of their own ‘Nigerian Letters’.

      Like a lot of African countries though, they are cursed with their own currency which only ever goes down in relation with western currencies, so you can see the appeal of not only not continually losing wealth, but also making big gains on cryptocurrency. I guess the good thing is they are so used to losing money, that when they get wiped out on Bitcoin, it’ll just be an oh well, moment.

      I used to physically get 1 or 2 of these a year in the 1990’s handwritten in all blocky capital letters, and it seemed as if English wasn’t the letter writer’s first language.

      In Nigeria, another distressed economy, bitcoin does seem to play a more important role, as one of a variety of ponzi-like “investment products”. If surveys are to be believed, Nigerians are four times more likely to hold crypto than Americans.

      1. Tom Doak

        I do not hold any Bitcoin, but if I lived somewhere like Nigeria, I might.

        The Bitcoin argument is that ultimately western currencies will suffer the same fate, which very well could drive Bitcoin prices to the moon . . . but when the game is ending, it will become impossibly difficult to cash out.

        1. ObjectiveFunction

          Ha! a comment on the thread by a Nigerian gent describes that very thing! (and got a thanks from Prof Tooze). And I am not a BTC fanboi, so fwiw….

          I am Nigerian. While not a believer in Crypto’s more esoteric predictions, I find it considerably superior, as a means of exchange, to the Fiat system imposed by the Nigerian government.

          It offers me fair value for my foreign earnings (?, not from ‘that’) while being (so far) invulnerable at attempts to impose currency controls….

          Yes, it threatens the current system. But as with all systemic revolutions, it is the losers in the current system and a few mavericks from the old who will best profit.

          I do not see Bitcoin as superior money. I do, however, see it as a superior means of exchange to the current Fiat system.

          It is faster, more responsive to market signals and unbannable, as my government is now learning.

          Some of my fellow citizens see it as a store of value (who can blame’em. Inflation is 16% while bank interest rates are ~2%). I do not. I use it as a means of exchange for market-rate Naira which I then use to buy Nigerian debt and leave with the professional money managers and challenger banks (there are apps for that).

          Between all that manoeuvring, I average between 12% to 20% returns. I am not making ‘mad gainz’, but it is better than the alternative which was the point I was trying to make. Without crypto, I’d just have a ton of currency regressing to the value of paper.

    2. Taurus

      “What backs the dollar?” has a very simple answer – “The American military.”

  4. Miami Mitch

    Relating to “The death of American dignity”; My daughter told me to watch a new TV show called “Superman and Lois”. “Trust me.”; she said. In it they spoke about, in a surprisingly well written way (for the most part) about;

    -The Opioid Crisis
    -Newspaper acquisitions and the death of Journalism
    -The Youth Mental Health Crisis
    -Megacorp Farmland Acquisition
    -Shady Bank Loans
    -The Hollowing out of Small Town America
    -The sense of abandonment by small town america
    -“The Deplorables”

    From one review, of which almost all are very positive;

    Superman and Lois is just as concerned with the consequences of reverse mortgages for the elderly and small-town economic woes as with Superman preventing a nuclear meltdown. And that’s intriguing.

    She said they tried a “woke” Batwoman and it failed miserable. So maybe writing about economics works because it is actually something most people are dealing with.

    1. fresno dan

      Miami Mitch
      March 5, 2021 at 7:59 am
      Interesting premise – Superman can’t save us from the real disasters. The real dangers are not from outer space or supernatural evil, but are due to the banality of human apathy and greed.

      1. epynonymous

        Its pretty good first episode. And also name drops Fukushima.

        Spoilers: instead of the clark, louis, superman love triange, the story is about raising their two kids.

    2. Geo

      Thanks for this. I’d been hearing good things about the show.

      It’s a shame that we need to wrap these messages in superhero stories for anyone to watch and pay attention. It took The Watchmen to teach people about the Tulsa massacre, Joker to show the systemic fitting of our mental health infrastructure, and now hopefully Superman can teach people a better economic message.

      I swear, if I somehow get to make another film, every character will be a superhero no matter what the subject is. It’s the only way to get an audience to pay attention now. :)

      1. JBird4049

        When everything is awful people do not want to see movies about how awful life can be. Just look at the Great Depression and the popular movies then. Masses of the unemployed, hungry, and homeless eating at soup kitchens.

        People had enough of reality and they wanted to escape it. So, the grand entertainment palaces. Often fluffy light romantic comedies or the screwball ones of the Marx Brothers. It’s simplified of course, but it is not just censorship that makes getting realistic “serious” films and shows made.

        1. John Anthony La Pietra

          Except that it sounds like this time maybe there are some nods toward the idea that truth and justice aren’t necessarily the “American” way. . . .

      2. Baldanders

        It beats the usual message of superhero films: big problems are solved by loners who follow their own sense of morality and don’t need to work with anyone else.

  5. The Rev Kev

    “EU blocks export of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines to Australia”

    Here in Oz, this is not being regarded as that much of a big deal. Yesterday Italy had nearly 23,000 new cases and about 340 deaths while Australia had only 11 new cases and no deaths. You send vaccines where they are needed and even Scotty from Marketing came out and acknowledged this.

  6. fresno dan
    In the end, Florida’s per-capita COVID-19 death toll remains middle-of-the-pack. And it is exactly the same as that of Washington, D.C., which embraced a strict lockdown. Meanwhile, on an economic level, strict lockdown states lost less year-over-year tax revenue than re-open-at-any-cost states. Florida’s economic performance is pretty disastrous, with tax revenues down 11.3 percent from the same period in 2019-2020.
    While red states have somewhat lower unemployment today, it’s not obvious that ill-considered re-openings did much more to help than if they had simply paid everyone to stay home. Many “open” businesses aren’t doing particularly well, and employees dependent on customer volume are suffering declines in their compensation anyway. On the other hand, it’s not clear the restrictive closures we saw in many blue states actually saved many lives (outside of a handful of outliers like Vermont and Maine). But they did lead to higher unemployment. It might be helpful if everyone on both sides of this debate acknowledged that an economically critical segment of the national population was unwilling to go to restaurants and movie theaters and gyms no matter where they lived or what the government allowed.
    Individual behavior, regardless of state rules and mandates, cannot be discounted. A certain subset of Americans never meaningfully changed their behavior after the initial lockdowns. Those who practiced social distancing were much less likely to get COVID than the heedless among us. The same is almost certainly true of those who have consistently worn masks in public.
    I, probably like a lot of at risk people, were undoubtedly very circumspect in going out – lock down or no, I wasn’t going out. I also have a disproportionate affect on bars and restaurants, as pre pandemic I went out many times per week and spent liberally. Probably more older people have more discretionary income than most young people, so people who can most support bars/restaurants are the very same people most likely to curtail visiting them until it is apparent that it is safe to do so.

  7. The Rev Kev

    “Mars: Nasa’s Perseverance rover sends stunning images”

    It looks as hospitable as LV-426 does – but during daylight. In short, it’s a rock.

    1. Wukchumni

      I felt like I could have been just about anywhere a few miles off of Interstate 15 somewhere between Barstow & Zzyzx Road, which is almost in entirety unoccupied, but to it’s favor-never reaches -81 degrees as on the red planet.

      Wall Of Voodoo – On Interstate 15

    2. Keith

      As a student of life on Mars, I can attest that life can flourish beneath the surface of the Red Planet. You can trust me, I study cheesy Sci-Fi movies all the time. :)

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          Ed Teller lives on, like a Force Ghost:
          “According to Sam Factor, a graduate student with the Department of Astronomy at the University of Texas, there are two ways to do this(restart the martian planetary dynamo/mag-field..AMF). The first would be to detonate a series of thermonuclear warheads near the planet’s core, while the second involves running an electric current through the planet, producing resistance at the core which would heat it up.”

          I can see it now….as happened in numerous recent scifi shows…Mars shattered into a sextillion chunks of rock by human hubris and a new Age of Bombardment is initialised….the light show here on Earth would likely be spectacular…at least until the stratospheric dust from all the impacts obscure the sky.

          like fixing global warming with nuclear war.

          maybe the answer to the question behind the Drake Equation is that we really are in Galactic Quarantine…a hostile and stupid species, prone to causing catastrophic destruction and doom.

          1. Baldanders

            I know you were engaging in hyperbole, but the amount of energy required to do that to Mars would be on the level of a supernova. Gravity is powerful.

            This would be one reason why the Death Star is sited in “scientifically nearly impossible” things lists.

    3. Art

      Our derelict Mars probes might be seeding the red planet with xenomorphs. Hopefully the real aliens (are you guys out there?) will send in their colonial space marines and put a stop to it.

  8. The Rev Kev

    “Purging Inconvenient Facts in Coverage of Biden’s ‘First’ Air Attacks”

    There is not only purging going on but also “embellishment.” The story is out that Biden was about to launch a second strike in Syria but 30 minutes before it was due to start, he found out that there were women and children there and because old Joe is such a humanitarian, he called it off-

    *insert snort of derision*

    1. km

      The story is out that Biden was about to launch a second strike in Syria but 30 minutes before it was due to start, he found out that there were women and children there and because old Joe is such a humanitarian, he called it off-

      Pull the other one! It has bells on it.

      Pity Biden wasn’t such a humanitarian before serving as a principal congressional architect of the War on Iraq.

      1. Harold

        Does this mean they called it off because they realized the first strike had killed children?

        1. km

          TL: DR: the latest attack on Syria isn’t getting the “rally ’round the flag” effect that was anticipated, and even Congressional Democrats are asking more pointed questions and not just the usual softballs.

          So a news tory had to be concocted to make Biden look less like the vicious imperialist that he is, sort of like Trump allegedly not escalating against Iran a couple years ago, because of his deep humanitarian concerns.

          1. Jen

            Funny how you can’t convince a population that’s experiencing a pandemic, record unemployment, massive student debt, unaffordable health care, a housing crisis, starvation and multiple weather related disasters that some people on the other side of the earth who are probably CIA funded anyway pose an existential threat.

    2. MRLost

      I read this as an admission that previously, if women and children were present at strike zones, then the missions continued and women and children be damned … and slaughtered. How would Joe have known this? Well, he was VP under that wretch and hence was privy to the details surrounding many bombing missions.

  9. Lemmy Caution

    RE: The Death of Dignity.

    The author Justin Webb seems to think that because he once pulled off the freeway to go to a McDonalds in a skeezy neighborhood that he has some special insight into flyover land.

    While he makes some valid points in his article, his contempt and disgust for everyday people is clear.

    According to Webb, flyover land is a place where “the air was filled with the smell of sweat and fried chicken and car oil” and there exists “great greasy wastes of land sprawling for miles around the intersections of roads.”

    The “folks” who lived there had “gentle, beaten-up faces,” although Webb notes that many gnarled visages could also be spotted, “often with rheumy eyes and saggy faces.”

    Webb recalled a time when he wanted to capture all this “seediness” by offering a BBC series on McDonalds, highlighting “all the people who worked in them, ate in then, wandered through en route to start a new life or leave a lover or escape a jail bond.”

    Webb seems to only be able to perceive these people as characters in a bad country music song.

    My favorite bit is when Webb shows he is as hilariously out of touch as the “top of American society, both Democrats and Republicans,” who lack his penetrating insight into real life.

    It starts when Webb includes a quote from the Chris Arnade book Dignity:

    “Work is something to endure, and most do endure it, with an impressive resiliency. Our technocratic class, politicians, and the elite media rarely see this, and if they did most would be hard pressed to understand it, because their resume and career define who they are. They are careerists, so they assume everyone else must be a careerist, and they look at everyone else working, including the guy in dirty clothes driving the F150, and assume he is a careerist as well, just one in a different and mostly icky career.”

    Webb follows this quote with his own sage explanation of the term “F-150” for those who are bewildered and troubled by its appearance:

    “An F150, by the way, is a basic and rather boring pick up truck.”

    This is funny for two reasons.

    First, the Ford F-150 has been the best-selling pickup truck in the U.S. for more than forty years. Ford sells more than 100 F-150’s per hour, 24 hours a day, seven days week. That’s about 1 million per year. The notion that the F-150 is some rare, virtually unknown species of vehicle is a hoot.

    As to the “basic and boring” part, Webb again displays his unearned confidence that he knows what he is talking about. While the base level F-150 starts at a modest $28,000, the top of the line F-150 Platinum is as tricked out with premium features as any luxury vehicle and starts around $68,000.

    I live in flyover country and I can tell you for every beat up, 10-year-old pickup there are two super nice, newer, loaded pickups, scrupulously maintained and proudly driven as a household’s flagship vehicle or as a work truck used to make a living.

    Like I said, while not all of Webb’s observations about flyover land are completely off base, his stunted and clichéd descriptions of it shouldn’t be used by anyone as a guide to understanding what life is like between the coasts.

    1. John A

      Justin Webb was the BBC US correspondent for a long time and very much a BBC person. I had no idea what an F-150 was, other than it sounds a lot cheaper and more practical than an F-35, which I have heard about.
      However, I was more struck by the way Webb seems to have become high on the Biden supply, with the following:
      “As well as backing union membership, Biden is proposing a doubling, in four stages, of the minimum wage.”

      He might propose it, but he is clearly not going to fight for it, as the man himself says, nothing will fundamentally change.

      1. Synoia

        If the Democrats were boxers, they’d be flat on the floor of the boxing ring every round.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          But only because their funders paid them to be flat on the floor of the boxing ring every round.

    2. tegnost

      yeah he gets the gist right, but then there’s this…
      As well as backing union membership, Biden is proposing a doubling, in four stages, of the minimum wage. This — if it happened — would transform life for people in those bits of America that Jay Carney and other top Democrats only notice at election time.
      I tried to find a date of publication after I read that…the 15/hr min has been on death watch for weeks. As to union membership who wants to bet there was a reassuring call to the banksters saying don’t worry it’s just another necessary public position….the private position will continue to focus on cheap and cheaper labor.

    3. John

      Well said, but for all the many who have never bothered to get off the Interstate, he makes a point of which they would otherwise be unaware. I have driven from New York to the Dakotas and Montana a number of times and you can see what he refers to. I grew up on a farm in upstate New York in the 1940s and 1950s. The hollowing out seventy years later is dramatic and sad. People know well that they are overlooked, forgotten, disparaged, and are beginning to vote accordingly. And there are plenty of new F-150s

      1. Wukchumni

        I highly recommend Blue Highways by William Least Heat-Moon, one last look at the USA circa 1979 vis a vis the backroads before the hollowing out of the country, and the people he meets along the way.

        1. fresno dan

          March 5, 2021 at 11:35 am
          I second your recommendation – Blue Highways is a great read. Been so long since I read it I might look for another copy. I never keep copies of books I read because I never read them twice, and I think why should I use up all that space.

          1. Wukchumni

            I have a habit of leaving copies of books I like in places with tiny libraries, most everything @ the Silver City Resort in Mineral King came from me* including a copy of Blue Highways among other titles, and oh so appropriate as you drive a 2 lane blacktop blue highway (occasionally more like 1 & 3/4 lanes and a few dirt sections, ha!) in getting there.

            * Somebody had to take a stand against the proliferation of Danielle Steel!

      2. Pelham

        My family and I are living in upstate NY now and have been here four years, though we’re planning to leave this summer for work reasons. I’ve lived all over the US and spent 7 years in Europe — always in nice urban environments — and I have to say that the people in this rural, very red, Trump-supporting section of the state are the nicest, gentlest, most polite, helpful and endearing people I’ve ever known. And that’s despite the fact that it appears to be extremely, even brutally difficult for most of them to just scrape by economically. I will miss them greatly and will never forget them. God bless them all.

    4. Amfortas the hippie

      I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt…his target audience is not those of us for whom “flyover” is just “the world”…it’s the enbubbled PMC.
      I’ll again use my stepmom and my brother as examples of the subspecies:
      Kingwood and Clearlake Texas…in their neighborhoods, they never see F-150’s that aren’t tricked out luxury models except those driven by The Help…and those, if noticed at all, are cause for suspicion…”what are They doing here?…should I call it in?”.

      I’m all for members of the Elite and their PMC subordinates making safari into the real world and reporting back to the Bubble with what they saw…even odious hacks like that Hillbilly Elegy guy…
      how else are the Enbubbled to learn about how the ordinary folks live?

      I wander through such PMC enclaves from time to time, and note how i’m received.
      I look like a cross between a homeless veteran, a duck dynasty guy and Ghan-buri-Ghan.
      i get followed by walmart employees in supercenters in nice areas…given a wide berth by all the karens…and watch as the (what’s a male karen?—a Timmy? ) puff out their chests and suck in their guts to cover the terror in their eyes.
      all this while I’m saying good morning and tipping my hat and helping old ladies cross the busy parking lot road out front.
      the unexamined assumptions these people live in are legion…especially about their less fortunate fellow americans.
      someone has to show them the Reality.

      1. Daryl

        Here in Houston, I have been looking at trucks and an actual truck is hard to find. All the used ones have giant 4dr cabs and barely any bed… They have more in common with a limousine practicality wise, than a vehicle used to actually accomplish things.

        1. jhallc

          Last year while rehabbing/gutting the the house I’m living in now, I borrowed my friends 1987 Chevy C30 Custom to haul materials in. Roll up windows, bench seat, 3 speed, and little push out side vents for ventilation (no AC). You could fit a sheet of plywood between the wheel wells. Got lots of comments every time I pulled up to a gas pump, which was often.

              1. Jason

                One of my early jobs was a gas station attendant here in NJ. I pumped gas, fixed flats, and cleaned up. My boss had a red 1977 Ford F-150 with the column shifter. The first and only one I’ve ever driven.

                Man those were good times. If the pay was better, and the social circumstances just a little different, I don’t know that I ever would have aspired to anything greater (in the job/career realm, I mean).

        1. Aumua

          Well no a female “Chad” is what you call a “Stacy”, whom I suppose might turn into a “Karen” after they’ve got a few kids and a house in the suburbs. There really isn’t a male version of “Karen” afaik, which I guess is a bit of sexism right there.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            They are usually simply Republicans. I suppose libertarians might be the male Karen.

      2. LifelongLib

        In Hawaii maybe the sociology is different. I have a bachelor’s degree and spent my working life mostly as a computer programmer for a state government agency, so I suppose that make me PMC as some here define it. Yet my neighbors are a mix of blue and white collar workers, with the occasional contractor and even a lawyer (not sure how successful). All of which makes me less convinced than many that the “PMC” are a coherent group that can be generalized about. That and the fact that while a world without rich people is imaginable, it’s difficult to conceive of anything like the modern world without professional or management-type people. They may be beholden to different groups than now (say employee-owners rather than investors) and have a different relationship to the rest of society, but will still be doing substantially the same things.

    5. Geo

      I get what you’re saying and the elitist sneering at “Heartland” Americans isn’t exactly doing anyone any good.

      That said, I grew up in “Heartland” America and a few friends and I used to go to the McDonalds inside our local WalMart for lunch to people watch. We called it “going to the freak show”. Cynical and mean? Yeah. But, even growing up in that place it was clear there was something unnerving about how “rough” people looked. It was also a reaction to the insults and sneers I had been given my whole life.

      It’s why I always found the taunts and threats from the homophobes to be an underhanded compliment. I felt their hatred of me was because I wasn’t like them – didn’t look or act like them. And that idea made me happy.

      So, yes, it’s wrong and elitist to sneer at the hardship of life in those places. But, as someone who had them sneering at me for not being like them my whole childhood, even though I was technically one of them, I still struggle to have much sympathy for wounded egos of Heartland Americans. They can dish it but not take it, I guess.

      And it hasn’t changed. Most people are lovely everywhere I go but have still had recent experiences with homophobes much the same when working in the heartland. I’ve lived in urban neighborhoods where I’m one of the only White people and never had the same kind of hostile treatment as Ive had in “Real America” for being “fruity” (the nicest slur they use). So, sorry their feelings are hurt when some BBC writer looks down on them. But, maybe they should take a cue from this “fruity f**” and don’t be such wussies about words and move on with their lives.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        for my idpol bonefrieds, i consider myself Trysexual.
        really just a Libertine, i suppose, but that hasn’t made it into the collection of capital letters, as of yet.
        The thing that made the rednecks, et alia mad at me was my brain.
        I didn’t have any control over that endowment of development, either,lol.
        last time i was arrested in my hometown, cop fingerprinting me felt compelled to answer when i asked why they hated me so.
        1.”because of that girl”—that i had helped out of a jam, in a perfect example of True Errantry.
        2. “because you read all those books…and get other kids to read those books…and you say all those things……..”
        3.(unsaid) because my Mythos as a Bad Man/Folk Devil had been constructed in his tiny mind by the Father of “that girl”.

        due to the resulting persecution(i have been beaten with sticks, left for dead, buried alive(Twice!…once by cops) and came close to being gangraped and murdered by actual Nazis(!)…i was chased by cops and rednecks for years, thought of by all and sundry as a master criminal, drug lord, and generally Bad Dude.

        I was, of course, none of these things,lol.

        I’ve been in Exile from my family stomping grounds…as well as most of the connections to my youth…for 30+ years.
        I’ll go back when it burns to the ground.

        If I can forgive them, for they know not…and endeavor to understand them, instead…well…

        1. MichaelSF

          “I’ll go back when it burns to the ground.”

          Bring dynamite – and a crane
          Blow it up start all over again
          Build a town be – proud to show
          Give the name “Tobacco Road”

    6. occasional anonymous

      A pickup truck (or a proto-SUV truck like a Bronco) that is actually put to use is beaten up and not ‘scrupulously maintained’. It may be washed occasionally and be shiny for a while, but it will still be covered in scratches and dents. The giant, expensive pickup truck that has very clearly never been used to haul anything is a conspicuously American form of social signaling madness. I see pristine RAM 3500’s and GMC Denali’s constantly. People are literally wasting their money on giant guzzlers that they seldom if ever use for anything.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        that phenomenon is useful, however, for identifying those mysterious rich folks that one hears about through the jungle drums that has bought the Leifeste Place, and subdivided it into 4 plots for their Neuveau Entourage.
        when our age’s Gengis shows up at my door, I’ll not only give him a beer, I’ll direct him to those places.

        1. The Rev Kev

          @ Amfortas
          I don’t know how true it is but I read once that as the barbarian tribes were advancing on Rome that the peasants, who were being taxed within an inch of their lives by Roman tax collectors, were giving those tribes directions on which direction that city lay in.

          But if things collapse to that extent, I suspect that any man or woman who knows how to brew good beer will have the personal protection of any such Ghengis. Warriors will be a dime a dozen but beer-brewers will be worth protecting.

          1. Amfortas the hippie

            consider the various lame blacksmith gods…all with their achilles tendon damaged.
            strategic asset.
            can’t let them run off.

            1. The Rev Kev

              Hephaestus may have been a mighty craftsman, but Dionysus was more fun to chill with.

    7. Baldanders

      Needing to explain what an f150 is shows how insular so much of America’s and the world’s upper middle/upper classes are.

      Can you imagine an author explaining what a Corolla is?

      Last I checked the F150 was the best selling vehicle ON THE PLANET, not just the USA.

  10. PlutoniumKun

    Yoga influencers have stretched themselves FT

    I was typing this into google and it auto completed as ‘yoga influencers have stretch marks’. Its the little things like this that make me despair for humanity.

    1. Jason

      From the article:

      “This is a long way from yoga’s origins as an ancient Asian philosophy, in which asana postures formed part of a practice of meditation and enlightenment. That is what happens when remote working and social media help to turn devotion into self-improvement.

      “A meditative and spiritual practice with the ultimate aims of self-diminution, ego transcendence and union with the divine was transformed into a certifiable, priceable and user-friendly product . . . promising a positive body image, fitness and stress relief,” says a new Cambridge university study of yoga’s post-1970s evolution.”

      I agree with the general tenor of the article. I’ve contended for a long time that this society superficializes everything it touches. That said, “union with the divine” is a decidedly western notion.

      1. SOMK

        The problem with how such matters are incorporated into most peoples lives is precisely as they an enfolded into a mechanistic model of living, so by some daft measurement people who do mindfulness practice may self-report as being 10% happier, but adopting these practices as if your are cultivating resources to make you “happier” and more “productive” in the face of circumstances that are making you less happy and productivity more difficult and joyless are only going to be of limited use. On the other hand dismissing it as the lame attempt of ‘westerners’ to become more ‘eastern’, belies the fact these two categories are mutually defining and porous to point of barely being a grade better than nonsensical. Does China become more ‘Western’, when it makes goods for the west, does the US become more eastern when China buys up dollars, if the lunatics in Washington get their fever dream war with China will that make the West more Western and visa versa (AFAIK the influx of so-called Eastern thought into the west in the 60’s was precipitated by US troops stationed in Japan post WW2)? I seen it argued that we could consider aspects of Tibetan culture more advanced in the spiritual than ‘the west’ is in terms of the scientific, but how such knowledge forms and understandings disperse themselves, if we grant a quasi jungian agency to ideas themselves, are they being exploited and corrupted by the modes of dispersal or alternatively are the modes of dispersal being exploited and corrupted by them?

        1. Jason

          I understand what you’re saying.

          To reiterate, definitionally there was no concept of “the divine” in India when yoga originated. It would more appropriately be the verb form of divine which indicates discovery via intuition or insight. This is an important distinction, methinks.

        2. QuicksilveMessenger

          Another aspect to this, and maybe the most important (and I don’t think this has eastern or western bias) is the tendency to make any ‘tradition’ or ‘discipline’ an ‘outer’ form, a dead ‘thing’. Like Trungpa had written about Zen- the real reason for a lot of Zen practice is very simple: the cultivation of, and the creation of the conditions for, what he calls boredom. And boredom is the threshold of enlightenment. The very beginning of the way, never an end. He would probably say the same about much of the Tibetan lines too. After all, his most famous book is called “Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism”.

          The problem then is when the outer forms become taken as the practice itself, not as a condition for inner work, but as an outer substitute for it, without ever realizing it. The principles behind the disciplines are unknown. But this is who we all are, eastern, western, whoever, wherever. The traps are everywhere in us, largely unseen, always serving what actually needs destituting.

      2. occasional anonymous

        You mean we stripped out the woo nonsense and kept the bits that might actually be good for something. It’s a form of exercise, nothing more.

        1. Jason

          I was getting at something sort of in-between the two. It’s not pure practicality, and it’s not pure woo. How about that?

          Of course, if woo be superficiality, then the whole thing doesn’t make sense anyway.

          You know, if If I had been doing yoga this whole time, this never would have come up. I’m probably just trying to make a connection.

          To quote a Zen Master: “From the bathtub to the bathtub I have uttered stuff and nonsense.”

          Beware of Zen Masters.

          Good talking to ya!

        2. Baldanders

          Yoga started as military PT in the 20th century.

          But like Buddhism, parts of Hinduism, Zen, etc., it became a superior way to True Enlightenment once some Westerners got a hold of it.

          Will the delusion that True Knowledge resides in Eastern traditions, superior to any Western tradition, ever die?

  11. The Rev Kev

    “Asian Military Spending: A Sign of Worsening Security Environment”

    There has been a lot of ratcheting up of tensions over the past few years. You now have the Quad which may or may not be the core of a NATO East. You have British, French and German warships sailing from the other side of the planet to South east Asian waters to challenge China. The US is trying to get together alliances of local countries in an anti-China pact. It is one thing after another.

    But it has never really occurred to me that with all this going on, that there are terrific opportunities for some corporations in the coming years. Corporations like Raytheon for example. Think of all the tens or even hundreds of billions of dollars of weapons that all those countries will be seeking to buy. Think too how the US is trying to make it illegal to buy Russian and Chinese weaponry as well. Would major corporations seek to help stoke warlike tensions in a region in order to make more profits? You make up your own mind here.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      If you did deeper into the spending commitments in so many of those countries, the focus is on domestic weaponry and European/Russian sources, not US or China. If you look at what they are spending money on, it seems pretty clear that they want to be independent of dependance on both the US and China in any conflict, as well as defending themselves from either power.

      1. David

        Yes, this point is often overlooked. Having a domestic arms production capability is a cheap and effective way of ensuring political independence in a crisis. This doesn’t necessarily imply hostility towards existing major powers and arms providers, but rather (as in the case of South Korea, which started on this road thirty years ago) an attempt to rebalance and become less politically dependent. Often , as you say, this involves sourcing technology from anywhere but the US, because that country has an unfortunate reputation for threatening to cut off supplies of spares and ammunition in order to exert political pressure. If the country is large enough (and again S Korea is a good example) this policy can lead to the deliberate creation of an R and D and manufacturing capability, with the possibility of experts;

        1. John

          Whereas with a shrunken manufacturing base, dependence on outside sources for key materials, and the need to purchase components in Asia, how independent and domestic is the US defense industry?

          1. PlutoniumKun

            It all depends on the context. Even the Russians are now dependent on imported parts – some of their latest tanks use French gunsight systems and domestic Russian microchips are hardly world beaters.

            The US was never entirely a military autarky – one of the less discussed drivers in the Pacific War was that the US was heavily dependent on rubber from the former British and French colonies which were seized by Japan. Germany of course in WWII ran out of materials like tungsten quite early on, resulting in putty soft tank armor by 1945.

            1. Wukchumni

              There’s a few dozen tungsten mines around here, the only precious metal underfoot for say 100 miles in any direction and they all opened after Pearl Harbor and pretty much shut down after Nagasaki.

              They were essentially mom & pop mines, really small affairs, I drive by a few of them all the time.

              Almost all the tungsten mined in the world comes from China now, with just one mine operating in the USA.


            2. Dave in Austin

              Re the rubber crisis:

              In the late 1930s the Germans finally developed an artificial rubber that worked. So in 1940 we confiscated the patents, hired Dupont to design the plants and by 1942 had about ten plants either finished or under construction. The folk memory of gas rationing along the east coast because of “a shortage of rubber” was largely incorrect; the real reason was only one pipeline- the Big Inch- and our failure to turn off the big city lights so the tankers were sitting ducks for the UBoats.

    2. occasional anonymous

      What the hell do these Chinese think they’re doing in the *squints* South…China…Sea…oh…

  12. antidlc

    re: Most older Americans take multiple prescriptions but haven’t received medication review, unaware Medicare covers it

    Medication reviews are covered for Medicare Part D patients who meet the criteria. These reviews are meant to check for potential negative interactions between multiple drugs or supplements, as well as inform patients about lower-cost alternatives.

    Can someone please help me out here?

    What does a “medication review” have to do with part D coverage?

    My pharmacist will look up drug interactions without charge for anyone who asks, regardless of whether you have part D coverage or not.

  13. Andrew Watts

    RE: An “emotional” moment at an NSC meeting shows why withdrawing from Afghanistan is so hard

    The Taliban has severed almost all the roads that lead into the cities still controlled by the government in Kabul. Beyond the emotional aspect of losing a war there only remains a few questions. Will the US military, who are few in number and dispersed throughout that country, be present when the Taliban launches it’s decisive assault?

    Maybe they’ll be able to repel it, and maybe not, but does Washington want to roll the dice? One way or another that offensive is coming. I wouldn’t count on a Saigon-style retreat either. The Vietnamese just wanted us gone and not necessarily defeated and humiliated.

    I worry about the consequences of having a bloated and defeated military during America’s imperial decline given the potential outcome. It couldn’t come at a worse moment while we’re mired in one domestic crisis after another and when other institutional support is at an all-time low.

    1. Ranger Rick

      The article was hard to read. “But Afghanistan will lose everything we fought so hard to gain for 20 years!”

      If you were feeling charitable, you’d assume that he was talking about the humanitarian, nation-building mission the military has ostensibly had in Afghanistan ever since they occupied the country. The cynic in me notes that even during the initial invasion — when top military officials were promising this would not become another indefinite Vietnam-style war with no clear goals, no clear outcomes and an angry, desperate people caught in a geo-political tug-of-war between opposing powers — nobody believed them.

      Withdrawing would mean they failed at whatever their objective was. Withdrawing would mean admitting they spent trillions of dollars and the lives of their soldiers for nothing. Withdrawing would mean a reckoning several decades in the making.

      1. John

        But the “mission” whatever it was at any given moment has failed and failed again because it was always a hand waving aspiration and not a mission. GWB’s bringing stable democracy to Iraq and Afghanistan, if believed in at all, was a naive notion suitable for middle school students.

      2. epynonymous

        Re: meaning

        In Vietnam, the army broke first. In the GWOT, it was our intellectuals and media.

        1. Andrew Watts

          That isn’t completely true. After the invasion of Iraq barely anybody paid any attention to the war in Afghanistan as the insurgency and rise of the Islamic State garnered the most attention.

          I don’t think ardent imperialists like the Kagans have given up on anything either,

      3. Amfortas the hippie

        what, exactly, have “we” gained?
        as soon as “we” leave/are chased out, the Taliban will reassert control, and poppy production will plummet, meaning that the CIA will have to maybe get a real job.
        Then Russia and Pakistan and China will make a fair deal and get that pipeline built for a fraction of the cost “we” could have done it for, and “we” will still be hated as an ignorant blundering empire.

        1. Pat

          As far as I can see, the poppy fields are the real concern, that would be a huge blow to black ops from every agency. Everything else is pretty much for show, even that pipeline. Now that show is important for our military, our intelligence community, and our politicians, but otherwise it is either ignored/forgotten or people want it ended.

          Unfortunately for the triumvirate once it is ended, they will lose even more credibility, but delaying the inevitable will find the end being the method that destroys it the most.

            1. Pat

              The poppy fields started producing again and have remained up and flourishing.

              Can you show me one any evidence that those running this operation want the pipeline, are really keeping the Silk Road open for our interests or closed to others? Pay particular attention to the minimal troops and where they are deployed.

              I am not saying your premise isn’t correct, only that if it is America has been negligent. It has failed in creating the needed alliances to control the Silk Road and in providing the resources needed to build and expand it and the forces needed to protect it.

              1. Amfortas the hippie

                Belt and Road=Silk Road.(= sitting in ambush,at a chokepoint on the trail, like the glorified outlaw band we are)
                Pipeline=i have no idea if this is even a thing any more.
                Poppy Production falls=CIA must beg for cash, or get in better with the Cartels, who are much worse than the Taliban, Warlords or even Daesh.
                There’s also eastern europe and the russian Pale, i suppose…lots of hypercrime, there, to feed upon.
                Due to previous Imperial Shenanigans.

      4. Andrew Watts

        Personally, I’m not unsympathetic at all. Success and failure, however defined in the course of war, is merely the different sides of the same coin. The price is always paid in the same currency.

        The Taliban will probably want sanctions to be lifted and international aid so I don’t think they’ll move to oppress women immediately or be as domineering as they’ve been in the past.

    2. jrkrideau

      Another thing, minor though it is: “former President Donald Trump’s deal with the Taliban, which would require Biden to withdraw all remaining 2,500 US troops by May 1 “. Not doing so simply reinforces world opinion, that the USA is “not-agreement-capable” or unable to make and then abide by an agreement.

      1. Andrew Watts

        The original withdrawal date was something of a moving target. I think it was pushed back six months to May. I’m not entirely sure about the details and could be wrong about that

    3. Jack White

      About an “emotional moment”.. 2500 troops is not enough to hold Afghanistan. Those lifers are following the Rumsfeld doctrine, “just enough to lose”. Interested parties might read up on the first Anglo-Afghan war. Those troops need to be out by May first.

      1. wilroncanada

        They’re more likely to be keeping a home base for the mercenaries…er ‘contractors’ who likely outnumber the troops, make a lot more money, and provide deniability for the US gov. in it’s dealings in the drug trade.

  14. Carla

    Re: How Law Made Neoliberalism — great article! Here’s just another little thingy for the brilliant law-professor authors of the article to address:

    Headline: After Championing Greener Building Codes, Local Governments Lose Right To Vote

    Lede: The nonprofit consortium that oversees much of the nation’s building codes just gave the construction and gas industries more control over the process.

    BTW, I was not being sarcastic; I do think the law-professor authors of “How Law Made Neoliberalism” are brilliant. I was even able to follow most of it.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      still perusing your worrisome link, but this leapt at me, given our recent Ice Age Event in Texas:
      FTA:”The measures sought to codify a trend already underway. More than half of homes built from 2010 to 2017 use electricity for space heating, water heating, cooking and clothes drying, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. In February, Seattle became the latest city to start phasing out natural gas hookups in new buildings, following San Francisco and New York City. ”

      so, regulate the hell out of the bottom of the pile…”consumers’/people who like to not freeze in their home…but deregulate almost entirely the top level, where the power is produced.

      all the things i do and build and invent out here that everyone marvels at would be impossible if i lived in a place with building codes and ordinances and zoning.
      I remember a master electrician friend, 30 years ago, lamenting those GFC plugs that were being mandated at the time…”it’s so Leviton can sell more of those fancy plugs”…as in don’t use a hair dryer or power drill in the shower, and the need for such devices is negated.
      I don’t have any of those, anywhere on my part of the place…but mom does, because she hires electricians to make it pretty(i’m all function over form), and they do the code by habit. Those are the switches that fail, and i end up fixing them in the dark at 4am so that mom never knows,lol.

      1. meadows

        .”, regulate the hell out of the bottom of the pile…”consumers’/people who like to not freeze in their home…but deregulate almost entirely the top level, where the power is produced…”

        Right! In our county in NW WA, several years ago there was a freak-out re leaking septic systems going into salmon streams. A mandate came down from on high… “All systems must be inspected annually by a certified inspector and repaired or replaced.”

        But guess what? Most of the failing systems belonged to older “economically challenged” folks…. even the inspections were too expensive and the new septic requirements outta site $ wise. (Raised mounds, pumps, fill, sheesh)

        It would have been completely reasonable to have the govt pay for upgrades to faltering systems but instead the gubmit arranged for loans to be available… r u kidding me?

        The program kinda petered out but if it comes back, it’ll be w/fines and penalties, you can bet…. “We just didn’t put enuf TEETH into the program!”

      2. jhallc

        I don’t have any GFI switches in my newly rewired home here in MA. The laundry, kitchen, bath, outdoor circuit breakers are all GFI at the panel now. They were expensive to boot, about 5x’s the cost of a regular breaker. Still a good thing to have if you have little kids running around.

    2. wilroncanada

      Gee, I can see that new consortium going into a city building department: “We have this new building covering for you. It’s perfectly green, easy to use. In fact we insist on it replacing the old-fashioned stuff you’re using now. We call it Grenfel Cladding.”

  15. PlutoniumKun

    Northern Irish loyalist paramilitaries withdraw support for 1998 peace deal Reuters

    I gotta say that the silence from the British government (and shrugged shoulders from the UK media) has led to a lot of anger about this in Ireland. These people are sectarian killers and associated with far right groups worldwide and are strongly linked with the DUP – i.e. the Tories recent partners in government. Just imagine if it was the IRA that made this statement and Corbyn was in government – all hell would have broken loose and Corbyn would no doubt be accused of being a terrorist associate for allowing it to happen.

    1. David

      I wondered the same thing, not least because during the Troubles the British were actually more worried about what the Protestant paramilitaries might do than the IRA. Ok, the IRA were larger, better organised, better armed and had killed lots of British soldiers and some politicians.They also got the lion’s share of the political and media attention, and they were The Enemy. But they did have a rational (if unachievable) strategy and were capable of tactical, and later strategic, flexibility.
      But the PPM were, as you say, sectarian killers, for the most part without a defined political programme beyond killing Catholics. They had also infiltrated the Police, and the British were sufficiently worried about them to set up the Ulster Defence Regiment, in an attempt to attract at least some potential recruits to the PPM away into an organisation where they could be organised and controlled.
      I think the reason this announcement hasn’t received more publicity is simply that even those among the current generation of politicians and security leaders with hazy memories of the Troubles have forgotten, if they ever knew, about the PPM and the threat they posed. I have a horrible feeling they might be about to find out more than they ever wanted to know.

      1. Synoia

        It is supposed that the Northern Irish loyalist paramilitaries get their funding from the US. In the troubles, the US appeared to turn a blind eye to the fundraising for violence in Ireland.

        1. Offtrail

          No, it was the IRA that fundraised in the US. The loyalists did not have a constituency here.

    1. flora

      Jonathan Cook’s latest about c19 passports.

      One wonders if this passport idea is time limited by the pandemic state of c19 (which we’re assured will be past by next year), or if tech moguls will find reasons to make digital “passports” permanent for all sorts of reasons.

      Ed Snowden interview from December 2020. Utube ~1:45:00 minutes.

  16. Rod

    Disposable People Econoblog

    Citing ponderings going back over 200 years, what an insightful read, with tiebacks reaching into: As coal dies, the US has no plan to help the communities left behind Grist and; The U.S. Grid Isn’t Ready For A Major Shift To Renewables – 03/05/2021 – Yves Smith

    Because Todays planned over consumption infects and diseases too much of our living, and is Terminal without intervention, this swung my head around:

    Although disposable people do not produce necessities what they do is not unnecessary. It is simply that the services they provide are not spontaneously demanded as soon as one acquires a bit of additional income. One is unlikely, however, to engage the services or purchase the goods produced by disposable people unless one is in possession of disposable income. Disposable income is the basis of disposable people. Conversely, disposable people are the foundation of disposable income.

    Ya just gotta think on it a minute.

    and the arguement on the effect of the Capitalistic method from 1808 just gets stronger the more you read

  17. Lee

    File under we’re never gonna know:

    “Where Are We in Finding the Coronavirus’s Origin? Bloomberg. Good roundup.”

    “Studies have been hampered by delays and geopolitics. China’s government has supported the hypothesis that SARS-CoV-2 may have entered the country in imported food, while the former Trump administration repeatedly blamed Shi’s Wuhan lab for the “China virus,” which she has denied. All that has heightened the sensitivity of the WHO-led mission. Team members described discussions in Wuhan as very tense on occasion, sometimes erupting into shouts on both sides. Meetings were also closely monitored by dozens of Chinese representatives, a large number of whom weren’t scientists or public health officials. The WHO team is still pressing Chinese officials to conduct exhaustive tests on stored blood-donation samples from Wuhan in 2019, which might indicate whether the virus was present there earlier. Under President Joe Biden, the U.S. State Department in early February said “the jury is still out” on the level of transparency and cooperation the WHO team received from China.”

  18. zagonostra


    I don’t trust the WaPo, NYT, CNN, AP, and Politico to report any information that may embarrass the FBI, or the current administration. They have a definite bias against Trump and are pro-establishment. I wish there were better sources with deeper facts available. Like, how many FBI and security state undercover agents were on the scene and took part in breaking into restricted areas. I haven’t seen much about the Sullivan family’s involvement. Why the “stand-down” orders were given. Why there was lack of contingency planning, etc.

    Relying on these sources is as bad as relying on some wild-shooting assertions of “false flag” operation. coming from alt-right. Between American Pravda-like establishment media and the wild west independent YTube journalist reports, I think true story won’t be available anytime soon.

  19. jr

    Field report: Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridge protests

    According to Citizen, around 200 protestors crossed the Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges led by Yellow Cab drivers. About an hour plus or so back. They are now at the Manhattan City Hall and Cadman Plaza in Brooklyn. Dozens of cab cars are parked in street in downtown Brooklyn. It’s hard to see from the video but I hear plastic bucket drums and chanting, I think it’s safe to assume they are BLM or adjacent.

  20. Darthbobber

    Confusing Politico article on Authorization for Use of Military Force (or an article about a confused situation, maybe.) And the lede, to me, is buried pretty deep.
    So sleepy Joe makes noises about the need for a narrower, more focused one, and an end (if not in this life, perhaps in the next) to the forever wars.


    “But unlike in previous administrations, the Pentagon did not cite any of the previous war authorizations as the legal justifications for the Syria strikes, signaling it plans to pursue a different approach.”
    “Instead, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby pointed to Article II of the Constitution, which grants the commander-in-chief “not only the authority but the obligation to protect American forces,” as well as Article 51 of the United Nations charter, which grants members the right to self defense.”

    This reads like a “we don’t need any kind of a stinkin’ authorization” position. Article II of the constiturion, of course, is (the relevant part) just the verbiage about the President as Commander in Chief. Interpreting that as carte blanche is pretty darn expansive.

    And the reference to Article 51 of the Charter, allowing the right of self-defense, of course says nothing about the internal procedures of a Member State in pursuance of that. (Whether Article 51 lets you go halfway around the planet to invade another country and then cry “self defense” when your troops are attacked there is another question. But we’ve been making such an utter mockery of international law this past couple of decades past that another lunatic assertion more or less hardly raises an eyebrow.)

    I like the way they describe reining this in as having been a “bipartisan priority” for years. If they mean that the minority who’ve shown any sign of caring have been from both parties, I suppose its true enough. But if it were really a bipartisan priority in the sense that the Space Force or warrantless surveillance apparently are it would have been accomplished. Easily.

  21. RockHard

    Death of Dignity

    she matter of factly asks him, “Well, what do you want with your life?”, to which he responds, “Job that pays enough to get a home, have a family, and do my hobbies.”

    Heck, I know several software engineers who would say the same thing.

  22. Dave in Austin

    Am I the only person who, when he reads the term “fiat currency”, thinks “What a wonderful name for a new car model!” Right up there with the legendary Datsun Dash and the Chevy Nova- which meant “not go” in Spanish.

    All U.S. currency since the creation of the Federal Reserve and FDR’s subsequent “We’re taking all your gold and giving you $35/oz in paper” has been fiat currency. Bitcoin’s problem is they don’t have an army with guns to force you to use their fiat currency; the U.S. Treasury, on the other hand…

  23. The Rev Kev

    “Officers maced, trampled: Docs expose depth of Jan. 6 chaos”

    This is so wrong this. It is the job of the police to mace people and trample them, not vica versa. Part of the natural order of things so to say. As for the ‘The disputed timelines of the Capitol riot’, why don’t they just ring up the NSA? I’m sure they have the recordings of all the phone calls that day and when they were made. What’s the point is spending tens of billions of dollars on them each year if you can’t call in the occasional favour?

  24. Greg

    Readers may find this interesting:

    ‘Earlier on Friday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that the vulnerabilities found in Microsoft’s widely used Exchange servers were “significant,” and “could have far-reaching impacts”.

    The hacking has already reached more places than all of the tainted code downloaded from SolarWinds Corp, the company at the heart of another massive hacking spree uncovered in December.’

  25. drumlin woodchuckles

    Dr. Seuss books deemed offensive will be de-listed from eBay.

    It may seem counter-intuitive to think this is a good thing, but I think this is a good thing. If they can also be de-listed from Amazon and indeed from everywhere else, that would be even better.

    Why? Because it will reduce or even remove the incentive for larcenous adults and others to steal all the copies of these books from all the libraries of the world, and sell them on-line. These books should now be embargoed from being sold for the same reason that looted archeological artifacts should be embargoed from being sold . . . . to discourage further looting.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Unless China decides to flood the world with bootleg copies. Hey, if Christians can smuggle bibles into China, why can’t the Chinese smuggle Dr. Seuss out of China?

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