Links 3/9/2021

These sea slugs sever their own heads and regenerate new bodies Sky News

The Stocks Rotation Ride Is Real, and Violent Bloomberg

Google advised mental health care when workers complained about racism and sexism NBC

Google image search cements national stereotypes of ‘racy’ women Deutsche Welle


In Kent Patrick Cockburn, LRB. How B.1.1.7 spread from ground zero in Margate. “It would be difficult to find a place where coronavirus was more likely to flourish and to enhance its mode of attack than Thanet and Swale.” Today’s must-read.

The Pandemic’s Dr. Doom Bets It All The Atlantic. On variants, including B.1.1.7.

* * *

6 Feet Isn’t Enough. Workers Need More Ventilation. Politico. Politico, ffs. Everybody seems to know this but CDC; as I have pointed out, the CDC’s school reopening guidelines and their recent guidance for vaccinated people give only the slightest recognition to ventilation or aerosols, which do not appear in executive summaries or as bullets for talking points.

How to Be Sure Your Face Mask Isn’t a Counterfeit Popular Mechanics

* * *

Will the U.S. have Covid vaccine doses for everyone by the end of May? Probably STAT

Is Choice Always Worth the Anxiety? Zeynep Tufecki

Vaccine-skeptical Trump country poses challenge to immunization push Politico

* * *

Unlocking the Mysteries of Long COVID The Atlantic

Heroes: Nurses’ Sacrifice in the Age of COVID-19 MedScape

Less Popcorn, More Distance: How Indie Movie Theaters Are Gingerly Reopening Curbed

Maskless Uber Passengers Assault, Cough On, Pepper Spray Driver After He Refuses Them Service CBS. The video:


By the Numbers: China Lays Out Ambitious Five-Year Targets Bloomberg

China at least 30 years away from becoming manufacturing ‘great power’: former minister Reuters

China puts nuclear power, waste disposal on the front burner in bid to meet climate targets South China Morning Post

China’s Political Discourse: January 2021: A Wartime State Sinocism

China-US military rivalry: America’s cutting-edge NGAD programme aims to rise above PLA Air Force South China Morning Post

S01 Episode 1: China’s First Listeners / Rich Kids English Police Chaoyang Trap

Will Hong Kong’s Free Press Survive? CJR

The beautiful game has turned ugly in China Japan Times

Gradually recovering: Fukushima residents talk ten years on Reuters


Fear is the Glue That Holds Myanmar’s Military Together The Irrawaddy

Myanmar coup: The shadowy business empire funding the Tatmadaw BBC

Myanmar’s ambassador in London rejects junta FT

What could make Myanmar’s military junta back off? CNN


Farmers’ Protest Once Again Brought to Fore the Power of Women in Mass Mobilisations The Wire

‘For us there is always a lockdown – and work’ People’s Archive of Rural India

India’s new farming laws driven by WTO demands Eco-business

Google Props Up Modi’s Corporate Takeover of Agriculture With Big Investments Truthout

What prompted India-Pakistan ceasefire pact along Kashmir border? Al Jazeera


What is Israel building at its Dimona nuclear site? Middle East Eye

Lebanon’s army chief warns economic crisis is hurting troops AP

War in Tigray: Ethiopia’s Nobel ‘peace’ surprise Ethiopia Insight

Ship runs aground off Mauritius with fuel aboard Channel News Asia. Only 150 tons of oil, this time.

Who Are Kenya’s 42+ ‘Tribes’? and Should We Be Asking? The Elephant

The fight against descent-based slavery in Mali Africa is a Country


Cladding victims are preyed on by fire safety fraudsters: Thousands of certificates for blocks of flats may be fakes, probe reveals Daily Mail

France fells centuries-old oaks to rebuild the Notre-Dame Cathedral spire France24

Italy becomes second European country to surpass 100,000 COVID deaths Euronews

New Cold War

A Russian-Chinese Partnership Against America? The National Interest. The Blob worked hard to bring Russia and China together, good job.

Brazil: Lula has convictions quashed, leaving him free to challenge Bolsonaro Guardian. Greenwald interviews Lula, 2019.

NYT Fails to Examine Its Participation in Brazil’s ‘Biggest Judicial Scandal’ FAIR

What the Ecuadoran Elections Mean for the U.S. Counterpunch

Capitol Seizure

Report urges sweeping changes to Capitol security after Jan. 6 attack The Hill

Biden Administration

Relief package would cut taxes on average by $3,000: analysis The Hill. Always tax cuts, never cash. Well, hardly ever.

Biden stimulus will boost global recovery from Covid, says OECD FT

Biden’s associate attorney general pick would be wealthiest member of administration ABC

Republican Funhouse

Inside the Lincoln Project’s Secrets, Side Deals and Scandals NYT. Wait. Weren’t these guys Heroes Of The Resistance™?

Groves of Academe

Iowa’s state universities are dying, slowly Bleeding Heartland

Health Care

Oprah’s advertisers:

Quite a thread.

Guillotine Watch

Frist Family Leads Pandemic Profiteer Parade in Health Sector

Class Warfare

The Fight for Free Time Is a Feminist Issue Jacobin

Generational wars are created by ad executives. Don’t let them win Irish Times

Global Securities Watchdog Targets Greenwashing in New ESG Plan Bloomberg

The Tide Is High—and Getting Higher Wired (Re Silc).

How Much Energy Does It Take to Grow a Tomato? IEEE Spectrum

Jack Dorsey offers his first tweet as digital art: Highest bid is now $2.5 million NBC

NFTs Are Hot. So Is Their Effect on the Earth’s Climate Wired

Antidote du Jour (via):

Bonus antidote:

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. Cocomaan

    NFTs Are Hot. So Is Their Effect on the Earth’s Climate Wired

    It boggles my mind how much energy and capital and human effort is being put into trading the equivalent of fancy Pokémon back and forth. I’ve never understood the art world but a digital art world is even more mind boggling.

    Back when I was in college I was a World of Warcraft player. Giant online multiplayer game. In it, you could buy and trade armor and weapons. Spent a lot of time making my digital character look like a badass. Then I got a girlfriend and suddenly the fact that my digital character looked dope was a lot less important. I ended up marrying that girl.

    Have any of these people ever experienced a power outage? Does anyone else understand how fragile the internet grid is?

    1. The Historian

      Digital art has been around a long time, ever since the first computer games. If you’ve ever played a game online, gone to a webpage, sent an ecard, seen a sci-fi flick you’ve used digital art. It isn’t new. What is new is how they are now selling it.

      I have a daughter who has been involved in digital art for quite a while and she is very good at it and yes, it is an art medium, but until now, she had very limited ways of selling it. She didn’t want to work for a Pixar or any of the other meat shops that sell digital art. NFTs have changed that. She also knows that NFTs are probably a fad and may not last long, but it is a chance for some artists to make some money because there are always people, mostly rich people, who will spend good money to ‘own’ something, no matter how worthless it seems to most people.

      As for energy usage, yes, digital art is an energy hog, but aren’t all those Bloomberg terminals energy hogs too? What about gaming? What about streaming? Is there much that we do online these days that doesn’t take more energy than it should? What else are we willing to stop doing?

      Sadly we aren’t going back to the past and we won’t stop consuming like we should. NFTs are just a tiny bit of the energy we use and stopping NFTs isn’t going to save us. We have to look past some of these distractions and get to the real issues if we expect to survive as humans. But of course, we won’t. We will go after some small issues like NFTs, while the elephant in the room just keeps getting bigger and bigger.

      1. The Rev Kev

        It may be that digit art may devolve along the lines of art in general but I hope not. Tom Wolf in his book “The Painted Word” said-

        “In the beginning we got rid of nineteenth-century storybook realism. Then we got rid of representational objects. Then we got rid of the third dimension altogether and got really flat (Abstract Expressionism). Then we got rid of airiness, brushstrokes, most of the paint, and the last viruses of drawing and complicated designs”. After providing examples of other techniques and the schools that abandoned them, Wolfe concluded with Conceptual Art: “…there, at last, it was! No more realism, no more representation objects, no more lines, colors, forms, and contours, no more pigments, no more brushstrokes. …Art made its final flight, climbed higher and higher in an ever-decreasing tighter-turning spiral until… it disappeared up its own fundamental aperture… and came out the other side as Art Theory!… Art Theory pure and simple, words on a page, literature undefiled by vision… late twentieth-century Modern Art was about to fulfill its destiny, which was: to become nothing less than Literature pure and simple”

        Wolfe told of how one artist simply put an announcement in a newspaper his intention that he would create a piece of art but never actually did so. And to me, that is as valid as an NFT tied to anything.

      2. cocomaan

        Yep, for me the energy question always goes back to the military, to make a similar point. How much energy is wasted driving a tank from point A to point B in the age of nuclear weapons and intelligence agencies? How much energy goes into an HFT system?

        I suppose when it comes to digital art, why would anyone need an NFT at all? I guess it creates a market for scarcity, but as soon as your daughter puts her brush to paper (digitally) it’s protected by copyright. I suppose it can be put on the Pirate Bay and get copied, but so could anything else. What’s stopping anyone from paying her straight up? I think your idea of it being a fad is right on.

        I don’t deny that there’s real money changing hands, but like I said, I was out there grinding in a video game to get rare drops from instance bosses. Interesting story about that: “gold farmers” (usually from China or sometimes Taiwan) were against the terms of service but were a common sight, out in the field, barely speaking any English, but their character spent 24 hours a day out killing random enemies in order to collect fake gold and sell fake gold on the black market. People would then spend real USD on fake in-game gold to outfit a fake character with fake art.

        I do some paid fiction writing on the side. I make sure to print out all my stories when I hit the final draft stage.

        1. The Historian

          NFT’s are just another part of the big casino that rich people with too much money like to gamble in, like bitcoins. Digital art acts like chips in that ‘market’, but if someone is willing to buy my daughter’s chips, she is willing to sell them. She also has rent to pay and food to buy.

          The art scene for artists is more about marketing these days than actual creativity. It is how well you sell yourself rather than how good your art is, much like the market for literature. Good writing is very hard to get published, but if you market yourself well, you can sell all the crap you want.

          1. cocomaan

            Can’t disagree with any of that. Most art/literature that gets published/picked up these days feels like shadows on the wall rather than something that moves the soul. Then again, maybe that’s how it’s always been, though when I’m looking for agents, they lead with wanting stories from certain demographics rather than good stories.

            And the publishing industry wonders why it’s dying a slow death!

            1. The Historian

              Oh, you’ve said it perfectly! “Shadows on the wall rather than something that moves the soul”! I couldn’t agree more!

          2. SOMK

            Nope, quality still counts. I know plenty of people who just put the head down, put the work in, delivered quality and got their slot so to speak. There is a game beyond the game itself, but that’s no different to any field (with the possible exception of professional sports and even then top athletes are often adept in the art of not being especially sportsmanlike), if the work is good enough, it’ll find a way. It’s the Rilke Letters to a young artist thing, “ask yourself this, must I write?” If you are one of those, then you’ll a way, if you commit yourself fully to your craft to a certain standard of dedication and application of talent, the work will in turn find a way.

            The art world has many (so many) flaws and a great deal of modern art is flat out terrible, but even then it’s far less crapified a realm than say the media (and it does far less damage), there is plenty of genuine bona fide ‘good’ art out there, you still need actual talent to get into a good art college even in 2021.

            1. cocomaan

              Yeah, I admit, I’m cynical, but I have my own work published and I’m one of those people that has to write or I go bananas.

              Good comparison to the media. You do probably have more of an ability to put out decent creative work than you do good news.

            2. jonhoops

              While I agree that if you put the work in, your art skills will certainly enable you to make a decent living. On the other hand it will not guarantee success in the “Art World”. For an enlightening peek into this world I suggest reading “The $12 Million Stuffed Shark: The Curious Economics of Contemporary Art”

              1. wilroncanada

                I’ll recommend another book:
                CRASS STRUGGLE: Greed,, Glitz and gluttony in a Wanna-Have World – 2011, by R T Naylor
                Ostentaceous wealth is being displayed, somewhat like the “gilded age”.
                Chapters on gold, gemstones, diamonds, art, antiquities, coins, wine, cigars & cigarettes, fish, rare birds, exotic animal species, ivory
                It is nearly impossible to really evaluate the “collectors items” traded across the world, first because so much is fake, or because inflation of value through illegal trading.
                It touches on art as just one of the “wealth” fetishes.

        2. JTMcPhee

          “protected by copyright” only to the extent that you, the artist, have the resources to seek out “infringement” and bring effective enforcement action against the infringer.

          Even a Strongly Worded Letter from some minor attorney will have zero effect in most cases, unless backed by some squillionaire/corporate interest.

          There is no right without an effective remedy… and in the present kleptogereontopsychoticracy, the “rule of law” is back to raw power/money, which of course is what the Imperial structure (the sacred “Constitution”) was set up to protect…

          1. tegnost

            watch out pal, one more syllable and you’d have an eleventy dimensional word there…. I had to turn the computer off so I could say it a few times to decipher the syllabic content as it borders on an antidisestablishmentariast construct :)

              1. JTMcPhee

                Says Mark Twain, of the German language:

                Some German words are so long that they have a perspective.Freundschaftsbezeigungen.
                Stadtverordnetenversammlungen.These things are not words, they are alphabetical processions. And they are not rare; one can open a German newspaper at any time and see them marching majestically across the page–and if he has any imagination he can see the banners and hear the music, too. They impart a martial thrill to the meekest subject. I take a great interest in these curiosities. Whenever I come across a good one, I stuff it and put it in my museum. In this way I have made quite a valuable collection. When I get duplicates, I exchange with other collectors, and thus increase the variety of my stock….”

      3. Lambert Strether Post author

        > What is new is how they are now selling it.

        That’s not quite it. The new part is not the making of digital art. It’s that NFT enables digital art originals. From Walter Benjamin’s The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reprodution:

        Even the most perfect reproduction of a work of art is lacking in one element: its presence in time and space, its unique existence at the place where it happens to be. This unique existence of the work of art determined the history to which it was subject throughout the time of its existence. This includes the changes which it may have suffered in physical condition over the years as well as the various changes in its ownership.

        The presence of the original is the prerequisite to the concept of authenticity. Chemical analyzes of the patina of a bronze can help to establish this, as does the proof that a given manuscript of the Middle Ages stems from an archive of the fifteenth century. The whole sphere of authenticity is outside technical—and, of course, not only technical—reproducibility. Confronted with its manual reproduction, which was usually branded as a forgery, the original preserved all its authority; not so vis à vis technical reproduction.

        The difficult with digital art is that an infinite number of identical copies could be made; just copy the bits. Now that is now longer true. Through the miracle of the blockchain, there can now be digital originals (unique “objects”).

        That doesn’t make the horrid and absurd environmental costs go away, or the Silicon Valley hubris. But technically, it’s interesting.

    2. SOMK

      If Kim Kardashian’s backside can’t break the internet, I don’t think digital art has much more of a chance.

      Niklas Luhmann gave an interesting account of contemporary art from a systems perspective in ‘systems of art’. Essentially he traces the evolution of the art system from a ritualistic function to one of regulating ‘taste’ (ie. liking the right art as a sign of intelligence and status), to now being something that points to itself as a kind of pure functionality of non-functionality. He argues in such circumstance it becomes a way of looking at looking at looking itself. I would argue art (in the ideal as opposed to actual sense) is like this very rarified ‘thing’ wherein you can pretty much get away with anything, but that purity like a cotton swab also leads it to be vulnerable to contamination by the environment it is surrounded in, the canary in the canary in the Coal mine (per Jaron Lanier’s diagnosis of the economic impact of the internet on the creative classes). You can also draw parallels between 20th century art and management theory, that is Taylorism, which was geared above all at breaking down the manufacturing process to reducing the calibre of the skill of the average worker, and thus reducing their bargaining position. Duchamp did something similar in exhibiting a photograph of a urinal (not an actual urinal) as an attempt to lay a stake in the ground for the artist’s right to self-determine (he exhibited the work under a pseudonym whilst sitting on a panel adjudicating art for exhibition, then resigned from the panel when the piece was rejected, causing it to then be accepted), but in the absence of any validation other than the artists say so, that ironically also opens up scope for a middle management bureaucracy who’s validation becomes the defining attribute of art, thus you get the institutional theory of art from Arthur Danto, which was inspired by a viewing of a Warhol exhibition of wooden boxes painted up to look like Brillo boxes. That art is whatever the art world exhibits as art, so in the absence of the skill of the artist being the determining factor (granted there is a ‘skill’ in even being Damien Hirst, albeit one of boorish self-promotion as opposed to brushmanship) so now academics, critics, curators (increasingly), gallerists, collectors and grants officers arguably have the defining say in what is or is not art over and above artists.

      The fact that Twitter guy is selling his first tweet for $2.5 million shows you this is just a circular play, status chasing status, opportunities are there if you know the game and are savvy, but I don’t personally feel any need to go reading up on NFTs for the sake of partaking in some kind of art world gold rush (I would expect wealthy young artists buying a selling to each other could easily do their own version of pump and dump NFTs), a great deal of money has gone into the art world in recent years, as you would expect with the kind of gross global inequality gains, there’s a lot of stupid money out there, some kind of bitcoin type art token thing was probably only a matter of time. None of this strikes me as being fertile grounds for genuine creativity, and I strongly doubt any of this nonsense will unearth a new Picasso.

    3. Phillip Cross

      Have you seen the NBA NFT loot boxes thing called Top Shot? They are bit like digital baseball cards with a secondary market built into it.

      A friend of mine bought a’pack’ of 3 of these things for $14, and sold them on the marketplace for $150 the same day.

      They must be providing straw buyers, surely its not real people buying them on the secondary market? I’m thinking the strategy is for them to spend a few 100 million to kick start a product with ‘cant lose’ hype.

      1. cocomaan

        I was wondering where the money was coming from on the art side, but with the NBA perspective, I like your theory!

        Instead of spending that money on marketing consultants, get the word of mouth pumped up.

  2. John A

    RE Russian-Chinese partnership against America.
    The usual US centric fayre with the Russians interfering in Ukraine, China in the south China sea etc. But then:
    The article starts by stating:
    Moscow and Beijing are committed to multipolarity and a spheres of interest approach, where each state can regulate its periphery without U.S. interference.
    But then further down contradictingly argues:
    A rising China will likely challenge the United States for global hegemony.
    So, what does the author believe? That Russian and China believe in multipolarity, or that China is intent on global hegemony. Or are readers not supposed to question the wonderful exceptionalism of USA USA USA.

    1. Maxwell Johnston

      Charles Ziegler tries hard, but he cannot escape from his Yankee point of view. I loved this line (he’s referring to China and Russia): “The two authoritarian states are cooperating in developing technologies such as facial recognition software and internet blocking tools that improve the state’s ability to censor and control information, monitor dissidence, and repress individual freedom, and both supply surveillance gear to countries around the world.” Not even the slightest acknowledgement that the Yankees are doing exactly the same, none at all. Tone deafness on steroids with an oak leaf cluster.

    2. John

      I do not see a commitment to multipolarity and a challenge to hegemony as contradictory. I disagree with the manner in which it is stated; challenging hegemony and challenging for hegemony are two quite different propositions. I do not think China aspires to be the global hegemon. The example of United States overstretch in that role stands as a cautionary tale. The author mentions United States neglect of interests in Africa and Latin America. I take this neglect to be evidence of an inability to focus in all directions at once, of political disarray, and economic narrowness of rentier capitalism.

      It looks as if we are heading in the direction of a world of spheres of interest and not just in the classic territorial sense, but an ever shifting balance of focus as needs, desires, and circumstances indicate. This seems correct, but I am not able to define it any more precisely without further thought and most likely revision.

      1. JTMcPhee

        “Neglect of interests in Africa and Latin America.” As in what? Corporate looting opportunities? The Empire has troops and dark ops doing that kind of stuff, and apparently just doing “color revolution” and other regime change “just ‘cuz we can” in both those continents (now reduced to Areas of Operation of the Global Hegemonic Imperial Military.

        The agents of that kind of operation have access to pretty near endless (and increasingly free from civilian legislative control and oversight) sources of money and the tools of dispossession, like the World Bank, IMF and the rest of the Skulk of Jackals. Another bumper crop of opium in Notagainistan this year.

        I wonder if the Taliban will repeat one of the useful things they did last time around, seriously cut the growing of poppies… One wonders, with all the money that’s been blown on the Imperial Adventure there, supposedly about “winning hearts and minds,” there’s been no effort to figure out a replacement crop that the rough farmers there could live on. Poor sorry nation, not fortuitously sited over a bunch of fossil fuels…

        Dear Empire: Get out, and mind your own damn business, which is not the business of subverting the planet and completing the killing of the biosphere.

        1. Chris

          Just read John Pilger’s “A Secret Country” (from 1989 – I’m a bit slow on the uptake).

          He describes how, with the impending fall of Saigon, the CIA’s stash of heroin was transferred to US airbases in Australia.

      2. John A

        John, you say ‘I do not see a commitment to multipolarity and a challenge to hegemony as contradictory’.

        But that is not what the article says, it says ‘a challenge for hegemony’.

        Russia and China are clearly challenging US hegemony, but not in order to gain world hegemony, it would appear to me.

      3. Kouros

        One needs good infrastructure for proper “looting” of Africa and Latin America. There is a waiting period until China builds that. To prepare for the event, US troops have already be sent there…

        1. JTMcPhee

          And we always have the example of Angola, where the CIA armed, trained, funded, and “supported” Jonas Savimbi,, whose UNITA was pretty clearly a terr’ist bunch. And which in his efforts to “take over,” attacked the looting properties of US corporations, especially mining activities. Which activities were protected in large part by CUBAN COMMUNIST soldiers, delivered of course by the Red Menace of the Kremlin.

          I don’t recall any “plays” like that from the few times I could join some would-be world dominators and play The Game of RISK ™, though as a non-gamer I would bet that this kind of perfidy is built into a lot of the simulations of World Conflict and Domination that are likely out there.

    3. hunkerdown

      > So, what does the author believe?

      Nothing. Think tanks are sales organizations for bourgeois rule. Belief isn’t a market value.

    1. jo6pac

      That’s not a bad thing. They can hire their own staff and not have to worry about some one on the inside helping dnc take them down.

      1. TheMog

        That’s actually a good point, didn’t think of that.

        Apparently, I’m not yet cynical enough.

        1. CloverBee

          The real loss is the funds transfer to the DSCC. But the DSA is good at organizing without funds, so they are better off than those leaving realize. I wonder if we can replicate this success elsewhere?

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > That’s not a bad thing. They can hire their own staff and not have to worry about some one on the inside helping dnc take them down.

        The national DNC will do everything possible to f*ck them over. But at the state level, they should be good. Who would have thought the DSA seized took party power in Nevada?

    2. Darthbobber

      Clearly the apparatchiks of the old Guard believe themselves indispensable. I suspect they are wrong about that.

      Also, it took Reid decades to assemble all the strings of power that made him the force he was in the state. He is on the edge of passing from the scene, and the machine is likely to break into component submachines.

      It’s convenient to have the 5th columnists depart under their own steam.

      1. The Rev Kev

        ‘He is on the edge of passing from the scene’

        You may be right here. He was born in 1939 so he is already 81 years old which admittedly would only make him a whippersnapper among the DNC leadership. And he has had to fight off pancreatic cancer too which left him confined to his desk and a walker.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          One of the reasons the “New Dems” are everywhere was the old guard controlled everything through single individuals for decades. When the died, lost, or retired, the relatively disciplined New Dems grabbed everything.

  3. Henry Moon Pie

    Severed slug heads–

    It might be more useful for humans if we could manage the converse: sprout a new head. Perhaps the best we can do is imbibe some psychedelics.

  4. Anonapet

    Always tax cuts, never cash. Well, hardly ever. Lambert [bold added]

    Except for the fiat created to pay the interest on the inherently risk-free National “Debt”* of the US; ie. welfare proportional to account balance, not according to need or just equally distributed to all citizens.

    So the rich get their taxes cut AND additional welfare proportional to account balance to buy – a win-win for them.

    For the poors: “Get back to your wage, rent and debt slavery!”

    *The US National “Debt” is better thought of as an inherently risk-free fiat storage service for which a fee should be charged, ie. negative interest, NOT paid.

    1. John

      See “First Citizen” by Thomas T. Thomas written in the 1990s(?) for how to deal with the national debt … and the nation for that matter

      1. Anonapet

        Repudiating the National “Debt” is silly, Gold Standard thinking which itself should be repudiated. Instead, just start charging negative interest on newly issued debt on large and non-individual-citizen accounts and thus change the National Debt, over time (so as not to renege on existing debt), to a National Revenue Source.

        Of course other reforms are needed too since the above, by itself, would greatly reduce the Demand for US dollars…

    2. Ranger Rick

      It’s funny that they mention an “average” of $3000 — if it was actually $3000 then people with an AGI of about $27k would not need to pay an income tax.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > It’s funny that they mention an “average” of $3000

        Yes, given our insanely high Gini co-efficient, one can be sure that games are being played when “average” is used.

  5. The Rev Kev

    “Google image search cements national stereotypes of ‘racy’ women”

    Well, yeah. Every country has their own idea of what looks sultry. I would guess that American men regard Latino girls as ‘sultry’ hence the result for Brazilian women. Here in Oz Asian girl are regarded as kinda hot which leads to eye-rolls when Asian-Australian girls talk about this together. So I did an experiment and looked at Google images for men from Brazil, Thailand, the Ukraine, Germany and America to see what came back as they were the nationalities mentioned. The results as far as I can judge are that Brazilian guys come off as ‘sultry too, Thai, German & American men are a mixed bag while Ukrainian men come back with some not that great an image. Results may vary according to your location.

  6. cnchal

    From yesterday’s links.

    Alex Salmond

    If this is the bill we end up with, I think it’s important to note that $2T is pretty huge, and a ton of that money is going to the poor. Yeah it could be better but it’s also way better than 2009.

    $1.9 trillion = $5,500 roughly for every person in the US of A. Some means tested people are getting $1400

    The poor get one ton, all else gets five tons.

    1. Pat

      I admit I am prejudiced, but here in NYC some of the other monies may benefit the have nots. We are told there will be funds for the MTA. Which should head off some probable fare hikes. I say may because things are bad and you could almost hear the drooling over the idea of ending the time based fares, for instance the $33 dollars for unlimited subway and bus rides for a seven day period. That was supposed to be the stop gap to avoid A fare increase to $3. But one or both should be delayed for a significant amount of time. Fingers crossed.

      I am hoping there are more things like that in the bill. Not enough I am sure but more.

    2. Darthbobber

      I would include the unemployment extension and the added 300 monthly as mostly benefitting the hoi polloi. Also that rescue package for the multi-employer pension plans they slid through in this. And the state and local support are by no means exclusively for the benefit of the well off.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      I think it is far to say that the Biden administration’s attitude toward (re)distribution is different from the Trump administration’s (although we should remember that the CARES Act, passed under Trump, actually decreased poverty).

      I’m too lazy to find the tweet, but somewhere Eric Levitz remarked that the bill increased the “purchasing power” of the working class. It does, but that’s not the point. Does it increase the political power of the working class? I’d argue it does not. First, the decreases in the monies sent, from $2,000 to $1,400 and $400 to $300. Those decreases send the message that “we’ll promise whatever, and do what we want.” They also betray — to put the matter in its most charitable light — a woeful lack of understanding of the class position of the working class. Rent and bills are now. Cash is now. The effects of tinkering with the tax system, which liberals love to do, for some insane reason, are later. Second, the Democrats systematically implemented means-testing every turn, which is a tax on time, as well as being humiliating, chancy in its outcomes, and reinforcing the class power of the PMC. Third, the minimum wage debacle.

  7. NotTimothyGeithner

    “Because of your history, you are going to have to wait by the nurses table for half an hour” – so I’m having a good morning

  8. The Rev Kev

    “By the Numbers: China Lays Out Ambitious Five-Year Targets”

    Wouldn’t it be something if countries like America could announce their own five-year plans? They could say something like how they were going repair, upgrade or remove all the dams in the country that have fallen behind in maintenance. They would say that this is how much it will cost, this is how it will be paid, this is the number of jobs that will be created, and here are the metrics so that you know that the work has been done on budget and on time.

    But counties do not operate on the same time lines. One author compared the Chinese efforts and the US by saying “They play a long game…They play a twenty-five, fifty, hundred-year game of chess while we play checkers all day long on share price fluctuations on a day-to-day basis, quarterly results, two to four election cycles, etc.” And there is is. We don’t take the long term view much anymore-

    1. Keith

      We have them every four years during the POTUS election cycle. We just don’t bother following through.

      1. lordkoos

        One of the worst things about the American system IMO is the political whiplash citizens experience every 4-8 years. Our fearless leaders can’t see past next year.

  9. Lupemax

    In Kent Patrick Cockburn, LRB. How B.1.1.7 spread from ground zero in Margate. “It would be difficult to find a place where coronavirus was more likely to flourish and to enhance its mode of attack than Thanet and Swale.” Today’s must-read.

    I get a #404 error when I click on this?

      1. WobblyTelomeres

        Would you consider

        1) deleting your cookies, or
        2) opening the link in a private window?

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          That is the solution. LRB also has a subscription dialog that looks like it’s blocking the entire article, but all you have to do is close it. I believe this comes with cleared cookies.

          1. Alex Cox

            It’s a good article. I have a friend, a photographer and musician, who just moved from Tucson to Ramsgate (I don’t understand either).

            She sent me a bunch of pix – dozens of working class people hanging out on the street, no distancing, no masks. ‘They have given up’ she told me. ‘They know they are disposable, so why care? ‘ Cockburn’s reference to masklessness in the poorer parts of Liverpool was similarly apt.

  10. The Rev Kev

    “Google advised mental health care when workers complained about racism and sexism”

    Yeah, good advice that. If you are not nuts for joining Google it will not be long before they send you nuts with how they treat women and non-whites. And all this behaviour is still allowed to go on in the third decade of the 21st century, especially in ‘progressive’ Silicon Valley corporations.

  11. The Rev Kev

    “Report urges sweeping changes to Capitol security after Jan. 6 attack”

    Since this report was requested by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, it would be only fair to name this new force the Nancy Brigade. Sounds a lot better than the Praetorian Guard or the Washington Warriors. What they are talking about here would be the core of a militarized Capitol Police they would probably be expanded in numbers over time. Hell, maybe they will get their own Academy in the end. They will have the military gear, dogs, horses and likely an ever-expanding intelligence unit which may eventually evolve into the 18th intelligence community member. These things do have an momentum of their own. Look at the US Department of Homeland Security. It had zero members in 2002 and now it employs 240,000 members with an annual budget of over $50 billion. And those barriers that they are talking about may eventually be permanant so that Washington ends up with its own Green Zone or as one commenter put it, a new Forbidden city. Or should that be For Biden city.

    1. flora

      Star (gelato) Troopers in the Forbidden City. Those huge wire fences look like a big chicken coup. / heh

    2. tegnost

      I’m ok with just “the nancy’s” , clearly being an armed tour guide is a pretty cushy position

      1. tegnost

        it’s also intersectional because the headline “The Nancy’s Fight Off the Barbarian Horde” could be used as an example of the empowerment of Women, and as an added bonus they could totally be trans…

        1. polecat

          Can’t Congress just put forth an appropriations bill to fund a Colluseum annex, to be adjoined to the House Chambers?? What better way to toss stale panem et tu BluCircus clowns! Throw some steaming-redrHinos into the ring for good measure. Admission to be paid in denyerus!

    3. JTMcPhee

      If the Baghdad Green Zone is the model, maybe the response will be like the one the Iraqis have put together — grabbing whatever opportunities for corruption and skulduggery present. And of a boring evening, setting up an 81mm mortar or tripod mounts for some Kayushas on the beds of some of those monster pickups,, and lobbing the explosives into the Sacred US Imperial Enclave.

      The description and history of the Baghdad Green Zone in Wiki shows a lot of parallels to the putative Pelosiburg in the Imperial Capital:

      Not, of course, that this is any kind of advocacy for that kind of behavior. But as devolution proceeds, it’s something the Empire has to be concerned about. No doubt it is on the Threat Board of some part of the Imperial military right now…

  12. Wukchumni

    Regarding the coughed on SF Uber mention:

    Anybody make a lapse of note in these days of our lives, pandemic version?

    My friend was working for the US Army Corps of Engineers, er working @ Kaweah Dam in a not quite ranger capacity-but uniformed, driving around on not really patrols if you will-more of a scolder and a ticketer than an enforcer and she’s from back east and a tempting assignment there meant she was getting a transfer and asked if she could use our cabin for a going away party and I was of course invited, ha!

    This was in July

    Well, she and her 6 gal pals were all 6 degrees of separation of intubation, i’d invited a coven of Covid deniers into my midst, and not knowing the telltale signs until it was too late, they had me in their gasp grasps-good as gone I figured, why go the fear & loathing route-just ride out an overnight oversight and see if you don’t have symptoms afterwards, and eat, drink, smoke & be merry, so we did.

    That’s my tale of no infection in retrospection, which leads me to:

    The Pandemic’s Dr. Doom Bets It All The Atlantic.

    Hey, this is my first worldwide pandemic, you too, really?

    We’re all a bit tired of living la vida viral and want to get back to that life we led and opening up for business is the busyness of the country not to say families forced to have cooked food delivered to them for substance, when they could drive to the food instead and then walk inside astride others.

    I’ll be watching to see what becomes of us, with others being the gasp test dummies, I can wait-but i’m lucky in that regard.

    I get it with the person living in apartment 346 in a 600 apartment complex, cooped up & fed up & where is my $1400!?, or the food provider who can’t put food on their own family’s table in danger of losing their livelihood, restaurants bearing the brunt of the brick & mortars being in a starving role, or mom & dad desperately wanting that time away from kids they used to call school.

    I’m hurrying up & waiting for my vaccine does it dose & meanwhile my better half got her 2nd syringe of Moderna yesterday with no ill effects afterwards.

  13. flora

    re: Iowa’s state universities are dying, slowly -Bleeding Heartland

    Thanks very much for the link. This has been ongoing at my uni for the past 20 years. The past 10 years the economics has reached “starvation levels.” In my state’s lege (not Iowa ) the GOP bills seem to come from the ‘model legislation’ outfit at ALEC, a Koch brothers created govt lobbying entity. Why attack uni budgets when unis do so much research important to business and industry? My guess is because unis require state tax dollars and the Kochs hate paying taxes of any kind (the Brownback experiment). Tax cuts are a winning political strategy since Reagan. (Pay no attention to the failing roads, bridges, universities, and public schools that follow. You really can get something for nothing, right?)

    1. The Historian

      That is exactly why my son left academia five years ago. But it is all going according to plan.

      The work has to be done by someone. So when you starve government, you leave a void that corporations are more than willing to fill.

      1. flora

        Yep. Meanwhile, China and Russia are pouring funding into their unis and scientific research programs.

        Are US corporation grants filling the gap left in US uni budgets caused by anti-tax budget cuts? Nope.

        1. flora

          adding: my state lege is trying to pass a bill that will help k-12 students in underfunded public schools with low rankings by (get this) giving each student who applies an $8000 ‘grant’ to attend a charter or private school. Starve the ‘public non-profit’, feed the ‘private for-profit’.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Why can’t the Left ever organize and do what the Kochians do? Drafting model legislation and pushing it via lobbying is a well understood process. Maybe it’s just my limited scope of awareness, but there are substantive problems that cry out for legislative solutions. Lots of smart, credentialed people on the Left — granted they don’t have the ability to pay big bribes to legislators to get their projects and preferences enacted, but where’s the kind of action in the realm of legislative drafting that the Kochs do?

        There are models to work from:, and for state legislatures,

        Waiting on Bernie or the Squad to draft bills and get them in the hopper and stirring up public energies to support them ought to be some kind of priority — beats waiting for the KochBombs to drop and trying to triage the damage or nibble off some bits of the destruction…

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Drafting model legislation and pushing it via lobbying is a well understood process.

          I would think doing the right thing would cost a lot less than doing what the Kochs do — less bullshit to deploy and manage.

  14. diptherio

    The Wired article on NFTs has some (thankfully) out-of-date information on the bitcoin miners outside Missoula, MT. They rolled up operations and moved out last year.

    Now the problem in Bonner is that the all the people renting the little houses across from the old mill, where the miners were, are being told to hit the bricks. Their houses are being sold for beaucoup bucks on Missoula’s red-hot real estate market, where the average home price went from ~$250K to ~$350K over the last year (so I’ve been told).

      1. .Tom

        They are doing great together. Much better than I dared accept given Lucy’s personality. I’m very happy with how it’s going.

    1. Arizona Slim

      Dog bite victim here.

      If I was working at the White House, I would 100% agree with the decision to move these dogs out. Everyone deserves to have a safe workplace.

      1. .Tom

        I was joking and I agree with you. Very likely it’s better for the dogs if they aren’t having to deal with an environment so stressful that it leads to aggression.

    2. Otis B Driftwood

      It’s admirable that they adopted this dog, but this is what GS do if they are not properly trained. No excuses.

      1. Darthbobber

        Shelter and rescue dogs that you didn’t raise from puppyhood often have all kinds of triggers that they flip out over. I’ve found that it can take months of carefully finding about them and adjusting your behaviour and that of others to work around them before you successfully come up with a routine and a way of acting that avoids the landmines. Its not rocket science, or a sacrifice if you like animals, but its not something that can easily be turned over to a staffer or security guard.

      2. John

        Biden should have gotten one of those robot dogs for the pr instead of a real one. The poor shelter dogs were probably confused and untrained. It’s actually s bit cruel to get an animal for shallow pr and then emotionally neglect it. But then cruel rules the US these days.

  15. fresno dan
    Jefferson Circuit Judge Olu Stevens ruled Monday the charges would be dismissed with prejudice, meaning he cannot be recharged for the March 13, 2020, shooting of a Louisville officer.
    Walker, Taylor’s then-boyfriend, was arrested and charged with assault and attempted murder of a police officer after he shot Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly in the thigh as police burst into Taylor’s apartment with a search warrant shortly before 1 a.m…
    Those charges were dismissed without prejudice in May 2020, with Jefferson Commonwealth’s Attorney Tom Wine calling for more investigation to determine if criminal charges were warranted and Walker should be recharged.
    AND see the link below for further detail on the circumstances
    Dismissing the case with prejudice I think shows that some incremental progress is being made – I can’t imagine such a ruling in Kentucky 50 years ago. Of course, the whole idea of no-knock raids at near 1 am is screwy in any part of the country, except under extraordinary conditions. And when one looks at the circumstances, it seems like way more effort was expended on this raid than the alleged underlying crime would have warranted.
    So I am grateful that at least Walker was cleared and that a couple of police officers were fired.

  16. Dalepues

    Lordy, pity that Uber driver. I wish I could give him a tip!
    I’ve never really thought about it until now, but once the
    passengers are in the car, the driver is pretty much stuck
    with them until they reach their destination or the driver
    is able to convince them to get out of the car, which they
    won’t do of course. He must be willing to tolerate the worst
    behavior. That is not a good position to be in. It’s not as if
    he could just quit, right that moment. He has everything to
    lose, and nothing to gain.

    1. WhoaMolly

      Seems like poor guy’s only option is to declare a mechanical problem, pull to side of road, and call a replacement car while he stands outside.

      If I were one of these drivers I’d probably install a little kill switch under the dash. One that interrupted the ignition.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > That is not a good position to be in.

      As I wrote way back in 2015:

      [O]ne of the main purposes of the “gig economy”; to provide on-demand servants to the 10% on up. (The real selling point of Uber is not transport, but transport that substitutes “independent contractors” just like me for icky working class drivers or, to be fair, Russian physicists with thick accents down on their luck.)

      So that’s what this diverse group of women is doing: Beating up on a servant. It’s not a good position for the servant to be in, as you say.

  17. Rod

    Surprising discussion of Embodied Energy in a now year round commodity foodstuff. Something we all really need to compliment our palate when making choices.

    yes, Tomatoes are seasonal and best grown in their season outside with as little additional inputs as necessary. 1:1 seems nicely balanced and something we could have a good future with. Anything but and the boat really starts listing fast and badly.

    Scary that Tomatoe Production Acerage chart–US production acres down while the world is just the opposite.

  18. t

    So, the CDC is no longer making public statements about recommendations and instead floating “harm reduction” nonsense that’s basically rephrasing what people are doing?

    1. Lemmy Caution

      One recent CDC study reported state-issued mask mandates reduced new COVID cases and death growth rates by about 1.3%. More proof that masking is effective.

  19. fresno dan
    Ordinary Love
    So I saw a movie last night and I can’t say enough about it. Understated, subdued, and subtle, its not so much a cancer story as a mature love story. No flamboyant or hysterical scene chewing here, this is a story of two people who care about each other and navigating treatment. I think what so hit a chord with me is how cancer patients form an immediate comradeship with other cancer patients. If you like quiet contemplative movies, this just might be your cup of tea…

  20. Nikkikat1

    Regarding Biden’s dog biting a person at the White House. This breed of dog is a GUARD dog. German Shepard’s are extremely loyal. They have been the number one breed for dog bites for many years. This is why they must be trained to respond to commands. Leaving them to their own devices is asking for a problem. They can be terrific with families and children but if the only rule they have is to stay off the furniture, the Biden’s are negligent owners at best. I never blame the dog. It is bad owners that cause these problems.

  21. Synoia

    China US Military

    If implemented, NGAD would create a network of advanced fighter aircraft, sensors and weapons, with jets and autonomous drones fighting side by side rather than as a single-aircraft platform or technology.

    A lot of re information required in real time to keep it as a single platform. Appears very vulnerable to a tactical nuke air burst.

  22. Michaelmas

    A lot of re information required in real time to keep it as a single platform.

    This is the dirty secret of both U.S. and China’s militaries already. Both countries’ vast militaries already entirely depend on systems of satellites for command-and-control, surveillance, and everything else.

    If WWIII between the U.S. and China breaks out — say, over Taiwan — it will begin in orbit, as in the first15-20 minutes one side, then the other, tries to knock out the enemy’s satellite chains.

    1. WhoaMolly

      At a guess I would imagine pre-positioning stealthed satellite killers in high orbit would be one of the first priorities of any nation’s ‘space force’.

      1. Michaelmas

        It’s not clear to me that satellites in orbit can be stealthed. It’s also easier to knock something down up there than put it up in the first place. The Chinese made a point of getting that message through to the Pentagon back in 2007, when there an earlier wave of hubristic U.S. claims that they were going to achive ‘space dominance’ —

        But yeah, I do know the Pentagon has satellites up there whose entire function is moving around and repairing holes in the satellite networks that either China or Russia could create, and vice versa for China and Russia. I talked to a Pentagon consultant once and got the impression there might already be something of a secret war going on in orbit

      1. The Rev Kev

        But it would also put an end to orbital spy satellites, future orbiting nukes and high ground competitions between nations leading to conflict so there is that. Having the convenience of satellites is historically speaking only relatively recent so we would just have to go back and do things the way that we use to do them. But then we would only have to wait a few centuries for the lower orbits to clear as the stuff fell back to earth so perhaps the next time around, we could do it better. The higher orbits may be another matter altogether though.

  23. ObjectiveFunction

    Thank you for featuring the work of Bertil Lintner on Burma. I have had the privilege of his acquaintance for over 30 years (I first sought him out in 1989, and he was extremely helpful). He is one of the finest investigative journalists of our time, and has done countless good services to the peoples who live in that country.

    The Norwegians have put a lot of time, effort and money into trying to coach Burma into a new era, including a green economy. They are highly regarded, and if the Japanese and Koreans back them up, there may be some hope they can talk the military back to barracks. I’m not sure the army even knows what it wants out of all this, tbh.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Thank you for featuring the work of Bertil Lintner on Burma

      You’re welcome. Myanmar is almost completely opaque to me, so I’ve been looking hard for good sourcing.

      I find it depressing and enraging that people are fighting so hard for liberal democracy there, where we are making such a hash of it here. The United States still has enormous soft power, which we have been dissipating as rapidly as we possibly can.

  24. drumlin woodchuckles

    After reading about Google’s persecution of nonWhite employees who report anti-nonWhite practices and actions at Google, I begin to think that tech-skilled tech-trained nonWhite people have an opportunity to either find or create a ” Shinola Search and Social” for themselves and others like them to work in and work for.

    By now news of this kind of Google oppression must be spreading to the broader nonWhite communities. If it isn’t, maybe there is a way to MAKE it spread there. Once it spreads deep enough and wide enough, there might be just enough millions of nonWhites who would rather not patronize Google any more if they had an ethnoculturacially fair and neutral company they could take their business to.
    Perhaps someone could call such a company ” Equal Opportunity Search and Social” and be able to mean it. If if could do what Google used to once-upon-a-time do, then it would be well liked on the basis of results alone.

    And some members of the White community who have grown tired of the septic tank which Google has become might come over and patronize such an ” Equal Opportunity Search and Social” company. It could have an impact on Google’s future existence. Perhaps even an exterminationist liquidationist impact.

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