Links 4/11/2021

A Self-Replicating Radiation-Shield for Human Deep-Space Exploration: Radiotrophic Fungi can Attenuate Ionizing Radiation aboard the International Space Station (PDF) (preprint) bioRxiv. Paging Paul Stamets:

Certain fungi thrive in high-radiation environments on Earth, such as the contamination radius of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. Analogous to photosynthesis, these organisms appear to perform radiosynthesis, using pigments known as melanin to convert gamma-radiation into chemical energy. It is hypothesized that these organisms can be employed as a radiation shield to protect other lifeforms.

I am more inclined to file this under how wondrous nature can be if we aren’t stupid about it, rather than space-flight technology.

PIA24291: Swatch of Wright Brothers Flyer 1 Attached to Mars Helicopter Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Wall Street Finds New Way To Finance Unprofitable Tech Firms WSJ (Re Silc). “Complex bonds.”

Boston Fed’s Cunha On Building A Payments Network For The ‘Next 100 Years’ PYMNTS. I’d stick with paper. But n-o-o-o-o-o!

The global future is looking dark and stormy Axios

Crews Install Plate At Site Of Piney Point Leak As A Temporary Fix WUSF. Another backhoe story. The leak is due to a liner failure. All liners fail. Landfill abutters take note!

Fond du Lac Band wins halt to copper mine Indian Country

Waves of Abandonment Grist. Texas oil wells.

Massive collapse of Atlantic cod didn’t leave evolutionary scars Science


The Gaslighting of Science Zeynep Tufecki, Insight. A must-read. And as with Iraq, all the people responsible for the debacle are in power today, and making very good money in their institutional positions, on the teebee, on book deals, etc.

Predicted Infection Risk for Aerosol Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 (preprint) (PDF) medRxiv. WHO’s Conley claims that aerosol transmission is “situational” (which I so far as I can tell means not in a hospital setting with HCWs in PPE and a squillion air changes an hour). Perhaps this handy chart will clarify:

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States ranked by percentage of population vaccinated Beckers Hospital Review. #1, NM: 28.69%; #2, ME: 27.3%. Here is the CDC’s tracker, with handy map:

Evidence for increased breakthrough rates of SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern in BNT162b2 mRNA vaccinated individuals (preprint) medRxiv. From the Summary: “[T]he B.1.351 incidence in Israel to-date remains low and vaccine effectiveness remains high against B.1.1.7, among those fully vaccinated. These results overall suggest that vaccine breakthrough infection is more frequent with both [Variants of Concern (VOCs)], yet a combination of mass-vaccination with two doses coupled with non-pharmaceutical interventions control and contain their spread.”

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Symptoms and Functional Impairment Assessed 8 Months After Mild COVID-19 Among Health Care Workers JAMA (IM).

Airlines warn the cost of Covid tests will stop people going abroad Guardian. Not with sniffer dogs!

‘A Great Excuse to Do Nothing’: The People Who Don’t Want to Return to Normalcy New York Magazine


Official: Chinese vaccines’ effectiveness low AP

Coronavirus: Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine won’t be supplied to Hong Kong this year, source says, dashing experts’ hopes of replacement for AstraZeneca shots South China Morning Post


‘Any news from the internet?’: Fear and rumour in villages forced offline Frontier Myanmar

Myanmar security forces kill over 80 anti-coup protesters -group Reuters. Exit, voice, and loyalty. A thread:

The Koreas

(LEAD) S. Korea decides to resume rollout of AstraZeneca vaccine Yonhap News Agency


Electrical problem strikes Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility AP

Jordan is where domestic and regional fissures collide The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer (Re Silc).

New Cold War

Nicolai N. Petro: Looking Beyond the Current Tragedy in Ukraine American Committee for US-Russia Accord

Donbass crisis: Domestic political battles in Kiev, Moscow & Washington could see Ukraine & Russia stumbling into war nobody wants Glenn Diesen, RT

Ukraine says it could be provoked by Russian ‘aggression’ in conflict area Reuters

Ukraine Antagonises China, While Pleasing the US IWPR. “Analysts see the Ukrainian decision to seize the assets of aerospace company Motor Sich as a sign of Kyiv’s increasing confidence in favouring Washington’s interests over that of its other key ally, China.”


Far-right AfD calls for ‘normal’ Germany at conference Deutsche Welle

Prince Philip

My Day With Prince Philip Craig Murray

Prince Philip: Boris Johnson will not attend Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral and will give up seat for a family member Sky News

Too much? BBC gets complaints over Prince Philip coverage AP

CNN, Banking and Business Leaders Applaud Bolsonaro At Lavish Dinner Brasilwire

Brazil building new giant Christ statue, taller than Rio’s France24. The photo is brilliant.

Biden Administration

Biden requests $715B for Pentagon, hinting at administration’s future priorities Defense News

Divided court blocks California’s COVID-related restrictions on in-home religious gatherings SCOTUSBlog

President Biden Creates Supreme Court Commission To Consider Court-Packing Plan Jonathan Turley

Despite Promises to Listen to Tribes and Fight Climate Change, Biden Administration Allows Oil to Continue Flowing Through Dakota Access Pipeline Earth Justice

Capitol Seizure

Timeline: How the storming of the U.S. Capitol unfolded on Jan. 6 USA Today

Proud Boys and other far-right groups raise millions via Christian funding site Guardian

Trump Legacy

Inside Trump’s Mar-a-Lago office: Former president’s desk offers a glimpse into life after the White House Yahoo News

Our Famously Free Press

The news media offers wall-to-wall propaganda every day. We only notice when a royal dies Jonathon Cook Blog

How Bellingcat Launders National Security State Talking Points into the Press Mint Press

The 420

Virginia: Legalization of Adult-use Marijuana Takes Effect July 1, 2021 NORML

George Floyd

Ex-officer’s trial in Floyd’s death shows courtroom tactics AP

Inside Cup Foods, where it seems George Floyd never left CNN

Millions in public, private aid help rebuilding in St. Paul’s riot-damaged Midway Minneapolis Star-Tribune

Police State Watch

Cops Caught on Video Holding a Black Army Lieutenant at Gunpoint, Then Pepper-Spraying Him Vice

Capitol Police sent cops to a guy’s door for somebody else’s tweet Ryan Grim, Bad News

Police Say an Antifa Activist Likely Shot at Officers. His Gun Suggests Otherwise. NYT

Guillotine Watch

“They Present a Version of Themselves That Isn’t Real”: Inside the Dark, Biohacked Heart of Silicon Valley Nick Bilton, Vanity Fair. “Last year, a number of rich founders began experimenting with microdosing drugs to make it through the day.” So, not only are we ruled by psychos, they’re drug-addled. There’s a history here.

This Is the Most Embarrassing News Clip in American Transportation History Vice

The Dangers of Elite Projection Human Transit. From 2017, still germane.

Capitalism-Loving Dad Doesn’t Get Why Things Aren’t Built to Last Anymore Reductress

Class Warfare

Life expectancy in adulthood is falling for those without a BA degree, but as educational gaps have widened, racial gaps have narrowed Anne Case and Angus Deaton, PNAS

A Year in the Life of Safeway 1048 In These Times.

Amazon’s victory against a union drive in Alabama proved workers want better workplaces, but America’s labor laws are too broken to help them get that, experts say Business Insider. Well, if the organizers were only organizing at the plant gate, as Mike Elk reports, there’s more going on than the need for legislation.

Working Multiple Jobs Is a Financial Necessity for Many Young People Teen Vogue. The headline sent to the mailing list is better: “Can We Stop Glamorizing Side Hustles?”

My later-in-life rediscovery of Jane Austen FT

Cross-kingdom inhibition of bacterial virulence and communication by probiotic yeast metabolites (PDF) Microbiome. From the Conclusions:

“This study illuminates a yet-unrecognized mechanism for cross-kingdom inhibition of pathogenic bacteria cell-cell communication in a probiotic microorganism mixture. A newly identified fungus-secreted molecule—tryptophol acetate—was shown to disrupt quorum sensing pathways of the human gut pathogen V. cholerae. Cross-kingdom interference in quorum sensing may play important roles in enabling microorganism coexistence in multi-population environments, such as probiotic foods and the gut microbiome. This discovery may account for anti-virulence properties of the human microbiome and could aid elucidating health benefits of probiotic products against bacterially associated diseases.”

I guess today is Beneficial Fungus Day!

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. John A

    Re Nicolai N. Petro: Looking Beyond the Current Tragedy in Ukraine

    An analysis that makes mention several times of ‘Russian intervention’ but no mention of ‘US intervention’ in what was described by the head of Stratfor as the most blatant coup in history, is no analysis at all. Very weak tea.

    1. Dftbs

      Yes, the author tries to use his knowledge of Classical Greek literature as a maskarova for his ignorance of Russian history.

      One of the great mistakes the Soviets committed was their attempted dismantling of Russian, and their other internal cultures to create “Soviet Man”. The Ukrainians are attempting the same, without even offering the material benefits the Soviets doled out.

      In his naive liberalism, Petro thinks there are two sides to this process. That the not-so-crypto Nazis of the Kiev Junta could provide accommodation to the “ethnic Russian” population of Ukraine. Never mind that the intimacy of what is Ukrainian and what is Russian is so deep as to be historically synonymous over the last millennia.

      He further displays his liberal naivete when he cites NI, South Africa, Cyprus and Colombia as examples to be followed. In all these places, the underlying conditions of in/justice where never addressed. The systems that resulted cemented these conditions. In Colombia the civil war continues with only one side fighting, as indigenous and labor leaders are assassinated nearly every week. Cyprus could still be the flash point of internecine NATO war. South Africa pops up in the headlines whenever the ANC tries to address the legacy of apartheid through redistributive policy. And we shall see how strong the peace in NI is over the next few years as the Anglo world rediscovers it’s cruel roots.

      It may be that there are two sides to every story, a right one and a wrong one. And no amount of catharsis in individuals will be enough to satisfy the need for systemic justice.

      1. km

        Considering that the nationalist conception “Ukrainian” is defined primarily in terms of perceived enemies (Jews, Poles and Russians) the idea of Nazi Ukraine and Russia co-existing is absurd.

  2. fresno dan

    Maryland’s Democrat-controlled legislature on Saturday moved to pass a sweeping police reform package that repealed the state’s police Bill of Rights, becoming the first state in the nation to do so and overriding Republican Gov. Larry Hogan’s vetoes in the process.
    My view has always been if ONLY the Bill of Rights is good enough for US citizens, than it is ONLY good enough for the police. I think this is the first actual evidence that years, and years, and years of videos of police is finally getting through to the public. And just one note about that solider and police in Virginia – how does a new car off the lot have darkened windows?

    1. RepubAnon

      Darkened windows were a standard feature on the car I bought a while back. Police know this.

      The “darkened windows” stop is a variant on “Young black male driving n expensive car – must be a drug dealer” tactic. I particularly like the “keep your hands in sight, unbuckle your seat belt, and open the car door!” shouted commands. Are the cops trained to start screaming at people after they pull them over, or this this approach limited to non-white drivers?

      1. JBird4049

        Are the cops trained to start screaming at people after they pull them over, or this this approach limited to non-white drivers?

        It looks to me to be a common tactic on anyone. A big problem is the contradictions between the orders. I have see stories where the victim said he did not know what to do because the orders didn’t match, which gets them beaten or shot. The confusion coming from them would be funny, if it wasn’t so horrific.

        Nice quote at the end of the article:

        “Being a military veteran,” Gutierrez’s report continued, “I did not want to see his career ruined over one erroneous decision.”

        After pulling him over without good reason or giving him any explanation as to why they had, assaulting him, illegally searching his car, and threatening to tack on more (unjustified) charges if he even complained about his treatment, this is the police officer’s viewpoint on the victim’s actions. If the officers do not see what they did as wrong and honestly blame the victim, that is a real problem we have.

      2. Riverboat Grambler

        How do you unbuckle your seat belt and open your car door while keeping your hands in sight?

        1. ambrit

          That’s the point of the exercise. No matter how you respond to the commands, the police can “legitimately” say that you were refusing to cooperate, and thus had to be shot.

      3. John Zelnicker

        April 11, 2021 at 12:34 pm

        From what I read, the screaming is pretty much universal. It’s an intimidation tactic to disorient the subject and supposedly insure that they follow all directions without question. The demands come so quickly the subject doesn’t have time to think about anything except obedience.

        Of course shouting contradictory commands in quick succession is not a good way to obtain obedience, it just confuses folks. The skeptic in me wonders if the confusion is intentional so the person won’t get some part of it right and the officer will have an excuse to cuff and perhaps arrest them for “refusal to follow a lawful order”.

        Any reform to policing needs to address the day-to-day tactics used on the street.

      4. CBT

        I have a lot of criminal law experience (in another state) as a lawyer on both the defense and the prosecution side. …. From what I saw, the police response made no sense. OK, so they saw a car without a plate and decide to light the vehicle up. That’s reasonable; but I find it a little suss that they wouldn’t — before things got critical! — notice that his temp tag was taped in the window. (I do not know if this rear-window display is allowed under VA law.) … Police practice (at least in my jurisdiction) is that it is perfectly acceptable to do as this Army officer did and pull over in a lighted area, with turn signal on to show that the driver intends to comply with the stop. … When I watched the video, it reminded me of a police encounter in Mesa, AZ a few years back. Not a car stop, but an “encounter” in a hotel corridor where police were shouting confusing commands. The subject made the wrong choice among the responding officers’ menu of options. He got shot and died. The shooter went to trial and was acquitted. …. This incident in Virginia had some of those same elements. Here, the police were dead-set on not telling the subject ANYTHING until he “complied” and got out of the car. All they had to do was tell him that they couldn’t see his tag, etc., and that was the reason for the stop. (Did they?) … But no ….

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          What happens to the social order if/when a critical tipping-point mass-load of citizens decides that the police is an Enemy Occupation Force and decides that the Citizenry needs to create as secret-as-possible a set of “response squads” who can “reach out and touch” particular offending officers at times and places of the ” response squads'” own choosing?

          What if the police find themselves dealing with an ” Iraqi Insurgency” using “Iraq Insurgency methods”?

          Getting them under control before things reach that point would be better. It will have to involve the crushing and abolition of Nazi Fascist Police Unions, so that the Killer Kulture Kops no longer have that level of protection against the society they terrorize and persecute.

    2. GF

      One can also have the dealer darken the windows before one takes possession of the vehicle. In AZ it gets a little warm in the summer and many people have their windows darkened with UV resistant window tint to lessen the roasting effect.

  3. The Rev Kev

    “Police Say an Antifa Activist Likely Shot at Officers. His Gun Suggests Otherwise”

    It has been noted how strong support for Trump is among many police officers – and he supported them – and this sounds like a police hit job against an Antifa activist that killed a Trump supporter. If he had lived and gone to trial, the whole thing police attack would have been thrown out of court. The words “highly likely” don’t get you that far in a court of law. The gun he had had a full magazine. Did they test it to see if it had been fired recently? Did they test the empty cartridge to see if it too had been fired recently? Did they check for powder residue on his body to show that he had actually fired a gun? By the sounds of it, it was probably No, No and No. Probably those cops wound themselves up like a watch-spring and wanted to believe that they saw him draw a gun. Better that they had nabbed him, put him on trial, and then thrown his a** in prison for murder. The way that it went down satisfied nobody.

    1. Bob

      Reading between the lines of our former dear leader’s pronouncements this was state sponsored murder.

      This is a common practice which has been seen before. And it is the primary purpose of the state DOJ/FBI.

    2. Fireship

      Police death squads are a feature of fail-states. Nothing surprising here. What is strange is the amount of Americans that still believe there is some magic solution to turn the ship around. Na ga happen. 400 years of hustling means you end up with a “society” bound for the trash heap. The sooner, the better too. the US was an interesting experiment but ultimately a futile one. A country needs a culture to nourish it and the US has “320 million morons with goatsht for brains” instead, in the words of Prof. Morris Berman.

      1. LifelongLib

        I hope the Prof included himself in that number. It’s the kind of generalization someone with goatsht for brains would make.

    3. Gareth

      A man crazy enough to murder someone in broad daylight in front of cameras and scores of witnesses ran from police instead of turning himself in. He was known to be armed. Should the officers should have lined themselves up so that he could shoot them as they approached the car to ask him politely to let them arrest him?

      If he wanted to live to go to prison, he should have been out of the car with his hands up as soon as he came to a stop. If he wanted to commit suicide by cop, he did it correctly. The murderer’s lawyer and family will have a hard time convincing any jury to give them a settlement.

      1. Riverboat Grambler

        Perhaps the brave warrior cops could have identified themselves as police before immediately opening fire? Witness accounts seem pretty conflicted on that detail.

        Perhaps they could have chosen not to lie about the suspect shooting first when he clearly did not? Makes you wonder what else they lie about.

        1. Gareth

          This was not a routine traffic stop or forced entry where failure to identify would be relevant. Nor is there any question regarding the murderer’s guilt. He could have turned himself in the moment he murdered the other protestor. The police were only a few blocks away. Yet, he did not. He went on the run. He could have called an attorney to arrange to turn himself in. Again, he did not. Hence, the police are justified in assuming he is armed and will use lethal force to prevent them from bringing him in.

          What police lie about is relevant in other cases, but not this one. We have video footage of the murder as he committed it. I am not willing to ask another human to risk death to ensure we can hold a show trial where the outcome is known just to satisfy a lawyer’s love of ceremony. These are real people with real families that they would like to go home to. I doubt many juror’s would feel any differently when the family’s civil case is held. Just thirty years ago, it was still widely understood that going on the run after you murder someone will likely end in you getting shot. More than a century ago, even the likes of Thomas Hardy were aware of the probable outcome of such a choice.

          I’m not going to let two NYT reporters’ attempt to lionize or throw pity parties for murderers go without comment. It’s indicative of the sickness that has consumed the NYT. Morally upright change movements, progressive, liberal, or conservative, do not make excuses for armed psychopaths who intentionally murder people regardless of how much they love or hate the police.

          1. Yves Smith

            Sorry, your comments suggest you are unfamiliar with the use of evidence in trials, which is designed to protect the rights of defendants.

            You are also assuming the police correctly ID’d the suspect. Did you miss presumption of innocence? The need for the police to have sufficient evidence before they can book someone?

            Improper police procedure will render evidence inadmissible in court. And if they were correct in their actions, why lie? It only undermines police credibility, which is already low.

            1. Gareth

              Hi Yves,

              I am familiar with the use of evidence in trials, but I don’t believe that it provides the best ethical framework to guide decision making in situations like these. Instead, I am arguing that within a utilitarian framework that it is unethical to ask living, breathing human beings to die so that we can hold a trial where a guilty verdict is predetermined by the evidence already on hand. That is why I said it was specific to this case.

              Next, I suspect the police department lied because they had rioting going on around the nation. Politicians were not acting to authorize anyone to stop the riots. A department’s officers just shot a guy in a situation that can come up even in normal times. Usually, they would say they determined he did not fire first, and they would deal with the mess that resulted. However, in this case, they feared that telling the truth would inflame the rioters and make matters worse. So they lie. It’s not right, and it comes out later as it did, but the riots will not likely be a factor then, which ended up being the case. Their lie didn’t solve their problem, but it did move the problem to a later time where it would have a much lower chance of making a national problem much worse.

              1. Riverboat Grambler

                Having living, breathing human beings risk their lives to uphold a justice system based on bringing suspects into custody to face a trial is the definition of police work. That’s the job they signed up for. Guilt is never pre-determined before a trial even if the crime is caught on camera. That’s just not how it works. You say that this is a specific situation and a specific case but it sounds like this logic could be extrapolated to any situation where police are pursuing an armed suspect; if the police feel they may be in danger, all your rights go out the window and the police have a blank check with zero accountability. That’s not a “specific situation”, that’s the status quo all over the US.

                It is not hard to find cases of innocent people killed in cases of mistaken identity by police. Here is just one, a Mississippi man shot in the back of the head because the police had the wrong house:

                I’m sure the police felt endangered in that scenario too. He could have had a gun, you never know. This is why it’s important for police to ask questions first and shoot later. Again, it is their job.

                The idea that nobody was authorizing anyone to stop the riots is news to me. I live in a city that had plenty of rioting and I got tear gas in my eyes just walking home from work. The national guard was called in as well as cops from all over the state. For awhile we had a curfew. The Patriot Prayer guy was killed in August; it was known unmarked Fed vans were pulling protestors off the street as early as July. This was authorized by the President, who praised Reinoehl’s killing as “retribution”. But you say nobody was acting to stop the riots?

                If the police didn’t want to inflame the riots, they could have acted with a modicum of professionalism and followed proper police procedure instead of immediately blowing the guy away and lying about it. The stories about how they did not identify themselves and Reinoehl never shot back emerged almost instantly after the killing. Cops regularly killing people when they don’t have to was the reason for the riots in the first place, remember? How was this deception helping anything?

                1. Gareth

                  “Guilt is never pre-determined before a trial even if the crime is caught on camera. That’s just not how it works.” That’s pure fantasy on your part — jurors are not blank slates no matter how much you want to believe they are. It is also an unconscionable waste of human life to ask people to die so you can cling to your delusions.

                  Lastly, If you think what you witnessed in Portland was a police response, compare it with the police response to Seattle in 1999 or LA in 1992. If you want to see an unconstitutional, over-the-top response to protests, you need look no further than the coordination between the Obama administration, the FBI, and NYPD in NYC in 2011.

    4. Procopius

      I often forget that my super-power is not reading minds. If someone said they cold-bloodedly set out to kill him, and that they did not believe they saw him draw a gun, I would find that believable. Maybe (this is purely speculation) they had reason to believe that his plea of self-defense would be successful. Or maybe they had been trained to believe they are in mortal danger every day from evil people who will shoot them without hesitation and really did think they saw him pull his gun out while his car doors and windows were still shut. My prior is to think the worst of them, but I will never know.

  4. timbers

    Ukraine says it could be provoked by Russian ‘aggression’ in conflict area Reuters

    My best guess on this Ukraine thing:

    Ukraine is being used like a disposable pawn by the Rules Based World Order hypocrites in Washington, for the purpose of killing Nordstream with Germany. Once that happens, Washington will drop Zelensky like a hot radioactive Iraqi Kurd. Zelensky be will be left all by his lonesome to deal with the Russian military if it comes to that, as Washington uses it to lecture the Euro puppets they must jump higher and faster when told to do so…especially regarding Nordstream. From the point of view of the lunatics in Washington, this would be 2-fer: Germany will come under the most intense pressure yet to kill Nordstream, and Zelensky who won the Presidency on a much improved Trump version of the common sense policy of good economic relations with Russia, will be toast as the neo-nazi hardliners in Kiev will move to end his political career and regain power and the spoils.

    The US Imperialists will be very pleased with it’s handy work if this comes to pass.

    1. apleb

      I don’t see how a renewed Ukraine civil war has any bearing on Nordstream II: where is the leverage? For example with all the sanction rounds before, both sides, EU and Russia, were very careful to not impact gas and oil deliveries.

      EU needs russian hydrocarbons, they are the nearest source and far more reliable than anyone else: never a problem not in cold war, not in the chaotic 90s, never. Russia needs the EU market badly since the EU pays a lot better than China.

      What can cause Germany to bury Nordstream 2 are the elections in autumn with the expected change of coalition partner from social democrats to the greens with the still majority conservatives. The conservatives are mostly pro Nordstream like Merkel herself, with some transatlanticists inside the party contra. The social democrats are pro, the greens however are very much opposed however, being good little US puppets, a far cry from their beginnings. That can shift, maybe, the balance but not some ukrainian problem. No one gives a hoot about the Ukraine, I’d say except some rabid poodles like Poland or the Baltics, everyone else wishes they’d go away already.

      1. timbers

        “I don’t see how a renewed Ukraine civil war has any bearing on Nordstream II: where is the leverage?”

        That’s already being presented in Fake News:

        Russian aggression. Any military engagement will be called Russian military aggression, no matter the circumstances even if for example Ukraine launches an attack against Russia. Russia is already accused of military aggression even though she does nothing, Can you imagine if she used military to actually defend herself and her people? That’s double triple quadrouple Russian aggression in Fake New. Ergo Germany must stand down on Nordstream and jump higher and quicker to US commands.

      2. km

        “Russian aggression” is a pretext with which to pressure Germany to cancel Nordstream 2.0, nothing more.

        1. jsn

          Yes, and the US will manufacture that “Russian aggression” to the extent necessary.

          As with Tonkin, as with the sustained “White Helmets” effort in Syria.

          We committ acts of aggression on behalf of those we want to attack all the time, the problem in Ukraine is that if we succeed we may start WW3 with ourselves.

      3. drumlin woodchuckles

        If any German Greens are reading these comments . . . . here is what you will achieve by killing NordStream II if you get power in Germany.

        Germany and everybody else who would have been served by NordStream II will keep right on using just as much natural gas as ever. But since they won’t be able to get it from the NordStream II, they will buy it in the Liquified form from America. America will sell so much LNG to EUrope, to make up for the NatGas EUrope could have gotten from NordStream II if only you hadn’t killed it . . . but won’t, because you will have killed it . . . . that natural gas will go into shortage in America. Natural gas will go into so much shortage in America ( because it will all be liquified and sold to EUrope) that the price of natural gas will rise in America. It will rise so high that coal will become competitive again. In fact, coal will be the only choice left for an electricity hungry America society aside from some boutique renewable power around the fringes.

        You Greens will bring a New Dawn for coal in America when you kill NordStream II. Nice work, Greens. Can you see why decent people hate the Greens so much?

    2. km

      Money. Zelenskii won’t be given much of a choice in the matter.

      Keep in mind that Poroshenko was elected as a relative moderate, then morphed into “bloody Petya” immediately upon taking office.

    3. Carolinian

      It’s probably like that time Poland provoked Germany into invading it (an “attack” on a border radio station I believe).

      Now off to read that story about how our media are all propaganda all the time.

    4. The Rev Kev

      I saw that Zelensky went to Turkey to meet Erdogan and they had a number of agreements. Turkey will support the Ukraine joining NATO while also recognizing that the Crimea belongs to the Ukraine. I suspect that Zelensky wants to get a supply of those Turkish drones used against Armenia last year as well as a supply of moderate Jihadists from Idlib but in both cases that would entail Turkish troops controlling and supervising them. Not to worry as Turkish troops also count as NATO troops so what can go wrong?

    5. Skip Intro

      It’s a twofer then, since blocking Nordstream and disrupting gas flows through Ukraine will really help Europeans take notice of US gas! I hope it hasn’t all been flared off by the time the LNG terminals are ready!

    6. Captain Obious

      If Israel decides that the time has come to deal decisively with Iran, would not a military distraction of China and/or Russia be “fortuitous”?

      1. ambrit

        Have we forgotten Hezbollah and their batteries of short and medium range missiles sitting in south Lebanon, all aimed at Israel? Hezbollah and Iran are allies of a sort. Hezbollah knows that if Iran goes, they will be next. So, expect coordination between Iran and Hezbollah on the Grand Tactical front.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            If the Hezbollahs decide to missile the Negev Nuclear Research Center, they will release all its hot radioactive contents all over Israel and Palestine, thus showing their basic unconcern for the survival of Palestininans. Because that is what missiling the Negev Nuclear Research Center would show.

        1. Captain Obious

          Certainly you are correct about the nature of the opposition that Israel faces, but it seems to me that when push comes to shove Israel is no shrinking violet, especially if their calculations show that future dangers outweigh the present ones, or if some serious retaliation against them (for perhaps “industrial accidents”) is the provocation. Or if Mossad deduces that trouble lies ahead… And the fundamental divide between Shiites (Iran and Hezbollah as well as many in Iraq) and Sunnis (the majority of Muslims) comes into play, considering the alliances (e.g. Saudi Arabia) Israel has made in the last few years. Economically, isn’t it always about oil in the Middle East, particularly from the American point of view, and the survival of the USA’s best friend? Also, I wonder about China and Russia and their hopes for the downfall of the dollar as world reserve currency. Combined with an economic horror show as a possible outcome of the pandemic (or the financial system in general), and what TPTB know about global warming, I really wonder if someone somewhere thinks “It’s time…” One side or the other may think that war will settle our worldwide clustercluck very nicely, and someone may display their overconfidence. Is “first strike” doctrine still a thing? Someone would have to be crazy to start war, but war starts anyway. Also, I try not to underestimate the Russians, or the Chinese. When I read about nuclear torpedoes I wonder if a west coast tsunami is what they are looking for, or would they actually cause a tectonic disturbance.

          caveat: not the sharpest knife in the drawer, and often display paranoid delusory tendencies. A lot of things make me wonder; consider this idle speculation if you will.

          1. ambrit

            I’ll counter with the observation that Hezbollah now has an almost Mutual Assured Destruction relationship with the State of Israel. Minor probing actions between the two groups are manageable. Major exchanges probably are not. Also, considering the basic differences of ideology between the Sunni and Shiite sects of Islam, an “adventure” that drags the Gulf Monarchies down into chaos along with their Israeli “allies” could be considered an acceptable outcome to the planners in Teheran, and associated capitols.
            The Samson Option can be played by both sides in this conflict.
            As for America in all this; those with ‘independent’ agendas do not necessarily need to forcefully oppose the USA. They can just sit back and watch America defeat itself.

      2. Basil Pesto

        huh? a stupid war between Iran and Israel would be a major story and, indeed, event from which there would be no distraction.

        1. Captain Obious

          A stupid war between USA and Russia (and/or China) would be a *military* distraction for Iran’s nuclear armed allies (I believe Pakistan is predominantly Sunni, who do not view Shiites favorably) although they (Russia/China) would probably have something left for what I have seen referred to as a “one bomb” country if there was a stupid war between Israel and Iran. Apparently 5 or 6 million Shiites live in oil rich provinces in Saudi Arabia, which has been working hard destroying Houthis in Yemen, who, like Hezbollah, are Shiite. The complexities of Islam (and the Middle East in general) elude me — more so even than those of Christianity (and the USA). Still scratching my head and wondering but that’s just me.

  5. divadab

    Re: “Gaslighting of Science” – a shocking history of incompetence, at the highest level of public health officialdom. Over a year later, the WHO is STILL not stressing the role of aerosol transmission of covid-19, and the CDC is only marginally better. Why has that liar Fauci not been forced to resign in disgrace? He is singlehandedly responsible for obliterating the credibility of the CDC with informed Americans. Where is the accountability? Where are the mea culpa’s? Nowhere, only doubling down and massive censorship by the corporatist machine of anyone who questions the official line.

    Shocking levels of decadence. Institutional decadence and corruption. Although, it does rather tend to focus the mind – we’re on our own. Believe the teevee at your own peril. Sad but true. Only you are responsible for your own health.

    1. Alfred

      “Only you are responsible for your own health.”
      Thank you. Maybe this will encourage people to get in touch with their own bodies again, frightening as that can be.

      1. JTMcPhee

        “ Only you are responsible for your own health.” That is the stupid American credo, weaponized. It’s called “public health” for a reason.

        Yes, the medical system is full of corruption and gaslighting and fraud, and yes, each of us is well advised to do our due diligence when it comes to the health of ourselves and those we care about. But only institutions, acting through lots of workers, can detect and deal with broad threats to health and welfare, and it’s so dopey that in so much of the world, that kind of pro-social activity gets sh!tcanned for profit or politics. And now the individual is told that disease and such failures are all their own fault?

        I read the Zeyneb article and much of the comments. Some head-scratching thought was given to the “why” of the resistance to acknowledging airborne spread, a problem I recall being examined in prior NC posts. One major element, it seems to me, that got no or little mention in the article, is that hospitals (those profit centers of misery and fraud) and “nursing homes” do exist in a regulatory environment. Part of that regulation set is that the hospital or facility has to engage in some pretty costly endeavors if the “airborne spread” whistle gets blown — negative-pressure patient rooms and other air-handling engineering, very strict standards for provision and use of personal protective equipment by caregivers and patients alike. So there’s a strong disincentive driving the money takers to Pooh-Pooh airborne transmission — N95s in short supply, gowns and gloves and filters and the rest, “all of that costs money, don’t yo know?”

        So administrators, those usually disgusting bean-counters, tell nurses and doctors and techs to just wash their hands (soap is cheap) and then make them re-use masks of inappropriate type, penalize or fire them for providing their own N-95s and other protective equipment, have them wearing garbage bags as gowns, washing and re-using gloves, working 24-hour shifts, not go home to families and quarantine if they do, all that crap. And send the janitorial staff out to do wipe-down theater. Amazing that such a relatively small number of caregivers sickened and died from the virus — 288,000 health care workers infected, , several thousand dead, many or most survivors carrying the long-Covid symptoms and deficits. And many dropping out of caregiving,

        I’m reminded of the Imperial military not allowing the Troops invading Iraq to wear body armor purchased by the Trooper’s family and church groups via bake sales and crowd-funding because “they weren’t uniform issue” from the corrupt contractors that won the bids for ineffective “uniform” crapola. But hey, that’s just human nature, right?

        So give credit (sic) where it is due — to the private equity and other for-profit b@st@rds who dominate the “caregiving” (wealth-taking) industrial sector, the 8000-series SIC numbers. Bringing death and disease to a community near you.

        But no amount of “being responsible for your own health” will fix all those large issues, unless you’re in the position to just not go back out into the wider world to work and gather food.

        At best, people can avoid falling into a few of the holes in the supposed safety net, but by no means all of them. For anything better, people have to rely on each other and what’s left of institutional decency, and maybe increase the quantum of decency if they can.

        1. The Rev Kev

          ‘I’m reminded of the Imperial military not allowing the Troops invading Iraq to wear body armor purchased by the Trooper’s family and church groups via bake sales and crowd-funding because “they weren’t uniform issue”’

          Ouch. And the military went along with that to help sales for their favoured contractors. Wasn’t that body armour called dragon scale armour or something?

        2. divadab

          Well if you are not responsible for your own health, who is exactly? You say this is a “stupid American credo”, “weaponised” (whatever that means), then lay out more detail of the failure of the US public health system. SO your answer is – the system is corrupt, give up?

          You argue as if I’m advocating for a corrupt and incompetent public health system, and that personal responsibility for your own health is a dead letter, a hopeless task, and we must instead rely on “what’s left of institutional decency, and maybe increase the quantum if decency if they can”. What does this mean, anyway? It seems total gobblydegook to me.

          If I’m not responsible for my own health, who the heck is, JT?

          1. Yves Smith

            You are out of your mind. Do you think you can pray your way to good health?

            Oh, so individuals are responsible when get lead or heavy metals from bad water systems? How about the famous cases of toxic chemicals in water, from Love Canal to Hinkley, California (of Erin Brockovich fame)? Individuals who are in pain and were prescribed opioids were personally responsible for becoming hooked thanks to Purdue Pharma setting out deliberately to create addicts? That resulted from Purdue knowingly marketing a product as providing pain relief for 24 hours when it only stopped pain for 10-12 hours. Purdue instructed docs to tell patients who complained of being in pain to take HIGHER doses, which was guaranteed to lead to addiction. How about Vioxx, which led to ten of thousands of deaths. That’s the individual’s fault too?

            16.5% of US children are in households that report the kids are not getting enough to eat. That means it’s probably worse. So it’s the kid’s fault they chose bad parents and will wind up with problems due to not getting enough calories and probable inadequate nutrition?

            How about babies whose mother didn’t breast feed them? Are they also responsible for being less hardy as a result?

            Stress is a huge negative for health. So how are individuals supposed to escape the effects of the global financial crisis and Covid? Or having your good boss replaced by a screamer?

            How about “shit happens”? The riskiest thing people do on a regular basis is get in a car. Are you proposing they stay at home and do their best to be self-sufficient to make sure they don’t get hit by drunk or texting drivers?

            And what about cancer? Do you have the temerity, ex smoking-related cancers, to say with a straight face that getting cancer is the result of deficient personal responsibility?

            And don’t get me started on decades of bad advice about heart disease (pushing cholesterol reduction, when your body makes cholesterol, as opposed to avoidance of simple sugars)?

        3. eg

          So the US continues to endure the cosmic comedy which ensues when a public health emergency meets its Healthcare Insurance Profit Complex.

    2. PlutoniumKun

      Its an excellent article and should be very widely circulated. There is very definitely a process of gas lighting going on in scientific and public health circles. We can be absolutely sure that those scientists who have risked their careers by pointing out the errors of their peers won’t be thanked for this, given the power and influence of those who have consistently gotten it wrong.

      The problem is now being compounded because official guidance and policy are being changed so slowly, and so subtly, that people responsible for implementing safe practices on the ground (such as building managers or event organisers) are unaware that they are wasting time and energy on the wrong practices. It is appalling that people could die from Covid simply because a lot of scientists and policy makers want to save face. Or at least, I assume thats the reason, I can’t think of any other motivation for the slowness to change guidance.

      What the article didn’t say was that to a very large degree the error has been outside Asia – most Asian countries seem to have assumed aerosol transition and clusters were the key ways the virus spreads. One reason I suspect is that experience with SARS1 ensured that they didn’t act on at the assumption of a flu model of disease. Its remarkable how slow Western authorities have been to realise that the coronavirus is a very different beast to a flu virus.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > I can’t think of any other motivation for the slowness to change guidance.

        1) Money.

        2) Power. I speculate that the droplet focus is driven by hospitals, and driven in turn by their protocols for handling patients, especially during surgery. The thing is, hospitals already have excellent ventilation systems, so they’re not comparable to the indoor spaces where most of us live and work.

        3) Paradigm. Many of the aerosol people come from a different discipline, and some have difficulty accepting that.

        But as Tufecki urges, it’s unconscionable that we’ve known about airborne transmission for a year, and yet we’re still practicing hygiene theatre and not focusing on ventilation. (And not to beat a dead horse but this had nothing at all to do with leadership at the Presidential level. It is an enormous failure by the public health establishment in general, especially CDC and WHO. Recall that the anti-maskers are simply following the advice given by Fauci!)

        1. PlutoniumKun

          I’d add to this a certain element of academic gatekeeping. There are plenty of examples in science of particular theories becoming associated with ‘in’ groups who fight off alternative theories to preserve their status. An example would be the reluctance of so many academic archaeologists to accept the presence of pre-Clovis people in the Americans until the evidence became utterly unarguable. There are many other examples, even in the hardest of sciences (see, for example, Lee Smolins book ‘The Trouble with Physics’)

          1. JBird4049

            Continental drift is another one. Or how Piltdown Man was so easily accepted and for so even though a magnifying glass would have, and eventually did, expose the fraud while Raymond Dart was attacked for his discovery.

            Although I believe that racism was the main cause as the Piltdown “discovery” was in England and Taung Baby was in South Africa. For close to fifty years, if not more, research into our origins in Africa was almost completely stopped because it was the “Dark Continent” and Western scientists, bless their racist hearts, just couldn’t stand the idea.

          2. eg

            The resistance to the discovery of H. Pylori as the cause of ulcers is instructive in this regard, as is the pernicious tenacity of the diet/heart hypothesis — medicine has a generally terrible history with this sort of thing.

      2. flora

        We can be absolutely sure that those scientists who have risked their careers by pointing out the errors of their peers won’t be thanked for this, given the power and influence of those who have consistently gotten it wrong.

        US editorial cartoonist Jules Feiffer drew a cartoon where the punch line was something like, ” there’s no greater sin than being right too soon.” / ;)

    3. Maritimer

      “Nowhere, only doubling down and massive censorship by the corporatist machine of anyone who questions the official line.”
      I have listened to and read numerous well-credentialed and qualified health professionals via alternative media like NC. These individuals have raised many important issues. The fact that CDC, etc. and their MSM minions will not address such issues speaks to their incompetence/negligence and scientific bias. One example, their failure to explain SCIENTIFICALLY the Florida anomaly. Loads of other issues unexplained and unaddressed.

      Hopefully, these Medical Experts at some point will lose the room. It has happened before: Vietnam and Iraq WMD frauds, for example. Maybe even there is a truly public-spirited Ellsberg or Snowden lurking in the shadows.

    4. The Rev Kev

      This was actually enraging this article. All the pieces of the puzzle were there to know how to fight this virus and yet they were ignored. If the “Pacific Princess” was not enough warning, that Washington State choir certainly was. And yet afterwards they were still arguing if it was airborne or not and as a result a massive amount of effort was wasted taking the wrong measures. Thy couldn’t even get face masks right. Way to kill trust in medical authorities that suc as the WHO and the CDC.

    5. drumlin woodchuckles

      What if the WHO is still lying about aerosol transmission on purpose, to keep the pandemic going on purpose? Why should we assume the WHOists are too stupid to understand these things? Why shouldn’t we consider the possibility that the WHO people are smart enough to understand all about aerosol transmission and have their own reasons and agendas for trying to gaslight that knowledge?

      Ask yourself again . . . if the Global Overclass wanted to kill 7 billion people over the next hundred years and make it look like an accident, how might they do it?

  6. divadab

    Re: Cod stocks – Atlantic cod was heavily fished for hundreds of years using primitive methods: schooners, with many small dory’s fishing with longlines. Bacalao, Bacala, – dried cod from Newfoundland is a staple in Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, and other cuisines. (It’s rumoured that Columbus received intelligence from secretive Portuguese cod fishermen who were already fishing the Grand Banks before 1492. And there is hardly a family in Newfoundland that doesn;t have some Portuguese ancestry!). BUt just twenty years of massive industrialised fishing, trawling the spawning beds of the cod, FFS, caused this sustainable fishery to collapse. There is a strong lesson here – if we are smart enough to learn it.

    1. chuck roast

      Lots of cod still down in the canyons of the Gulf of Maine. Hand lining is the only way to get them out. These spots are magnets for fishing charter boats. If they can ever figure a way to efficiently fish these great holes…

    2. pasha

      “labrador” — adjacent to newfoundland — has portuguese roots, and means “laborers,” i.e. the native americans who assisted in drying and salting the cod

  7. The Rev Kev

    “Official: Chinese vaccines’ effectiveness low”

    There have been reports for months now that the Chinese vaccine has only an effectiveness of about 50%. That makes it a crapshoot and explains why the Chinese are relying so heavily on contact tracing, surveillance, self-quarantining, etc. Maybe there are other vaccines that they are developing but those countries importing this vaccine would have to be desperate to do so-

    1. Michaelmas

      China’s CoronaVac is an inactivated virus COVID-19 vaccine developed by Sinovac.

      It’s a classical. old-school vaccine, in other words. The good side of that is it doesn’t need to be frozen and both the vaccine and raw material for formulating new doses can be transported and refrigerated at 2–8 °C (36–46 °F), the same temperatures at which flu vaccines are kept.

      The bad side is, yes, not much above 50 percent effectiveness. And this is pretty much exactly what you’d expect, given that: –

      (a) at least half the pre-COV19 coronaviruses have never elicited much in the way of natural herd immunity in the human population (despite the neoliberal idiocy of the likes of Anders Tegnell in Sweden, who was either too stupid or too dishonest to look at the most basic literature on coronaviruses);

      (b) the mRNA vaccines (Moderna and Pfizer-BionTech) and adenovirus vector vaccines (Sputnik V and Oxford-AstraZeneca) are genetically engineered technology designed to specifically target and create human resistance to the spike protein which COV19 uses to get into human cells. This is not something that would have easily emerged from nature’s mutation machine.

      A couple of points follow from this: –

      Firstly, it’ll be hard for COV19 to mutate to escape those genetically-engineered vaccines; if the spike protein mutates, the virus loses precisely the mechanism that lets it invade human cells. Not impossible, maybe — I’ve seen the claims that the South African variant supposedly sometimes escapes the Oxford-AZ vaccine. Nature’s mutation machine can in time always produce some surprising outlier that may then take hold (i.e. us). But unlikely.

      Secondly, It’s probably only genetically-engineered vaccines like the mRNA or adenovirus vector vaccines that’ll have high effectiveness against COV19. Conversely, the classical, old-school vaccines (dead, deactivated, attenuated samples of the virus itself) will likely continue to produce much the same effect as natural human herd immunity to COV19 — weak to nothing.

      I’ve seen the usual contingent here claiming they’re waiting for a old-school attenuated/deactivated COV19 vaccine to become available in the U.S., because of “the horrors of genetic engineering!” and “natural is always best — Mother Nature always bats last/is benevolent/has a plan/ is wondrous in its agency” (see Lambert’s remark up top).

      This is “wisdom” on the level of snake-handling, Christian Science, or belief in the Flying Spaghetti Monster or Qanon or whatever other benighted religious idiocy you care to name. Though, granted, it’s equally unwise to trust in the corporate benevolence of Big Pharma.

      There is no Mother Nature. Nature has no agency, benevolence, wisdom, plan, natural balance, inherent spirituality, or any of that. Indeed, you could just as easily say that nature is a pure horror show, if you want to waste time taking that viewpoint as opposed to the “wondrous” POV.

      What nature really is, is a gigantic mutation machine that’s run millions of years. That’s all.

      1. Yves Smith

        The problem with your assertions is you posit that SARS-COV-2 can’t escape mRNA vaccines all that well.

        That’s not accurate.

        1. Studies in Israel, with the most highly vaccinated population, indicate the South African variant escapes the Pfizer vaccine:

        2. Pfizer itself has effectively said its the vaccine does not confer immunity that is more lasting than having gotten the virus…which is similar to the immunity profile you’d get from using an inactivated virus. Pfizer is saying its shots confer immunity of “up to” six months. We’ve been all over the various analyses by scientists looking at post-infection antibody levels, such as the ongoing, regular, large-scale studies conducted by Imperial College, London. Their reading is that infection-conferred immunity is at least six to eight months.

        versus (for one of many examples):

        1. Michaelmas

          Yves wrote: The problem with your assertions is you posit that SARS-COV-2 can’t escape mRNA vaccines all that well.

          It’s interesting. Let’s think about what might be happening here. I might be right or I might be wrong. But if my claim above is wrong, then:

          (1) Why have the Chinese gotten such poor results with the Sinovac attenuated-virus vaccine?

          Because the Chinese aren’t slouches in the bioengineering department. They made a practical policy decision to be conservative and throw their resources behind a classical vaccine, rather than a genetically-engineered approach. (Indeed, if I’d been in charge anywhere, I’d almost certainly not have picked the mRNA approach, but the adenovirus vector, which we in the West – and the Russians more than us – at least have some prior real-world experience with).

          (2) Also, no, I absolutely did not claim that any vaccine necessarily “confers immunity that’s more lasting than having gotten the virus” i.e. about six-eight months. How would a vaccine do that? What kind of specific mechanism would make that possible?

          That doesn’t mean such a mechanism might not emerge. But I don’t know of one now.

          Conversely, I can readily imagine that actual infection with actual COV19 might confer stronger immunity since infectees who survive (and don’t have Long Covid) will have been exposed to the whole virus – instead of just the spike protein – and so will also have developed antibodies to whatever else in the whole virus their immune system can develop resistance to.

          Either way — with vaccines or natural immunity gained after infection – six to eight months’ immunity ain’t great. Well, other than for the ongoing efforts to create prophylactic nasal sprays for COV19 (there’s several I know of), because it means they’ll have business.

          Let’s now turn to your assertion, Yves, that “the immunity profile you’d get from using an inactivated virus” is necessarily the same as that from actual infection.

          No. The big problem with that assumption is the massive real-world evidence which is, again, the very large piece of data represented by the 50 percent failure rate of China’s Sinovac attenuated-virus vaccine.

          I don’t see how you can argue that away. That piece of data right there outweighs the report from Israel – though, yes, good point about Israel having the highest vaccination rate of any country so far – which, according to the Reuters piece, is that:

          …among Israeli patients who had received two doses of the vaccine, the variant’s prevalence rate was eight times higher than those unvaccinated – 5.4 percent versus 0.7 percent … this suggests the vaccine is less effective against the South African variant, compared with the original coronavirus and a variant first identified in Britain that … comprise nearly all COVID-19 cases in Israel ….

          “’We found a disproportionately higher rate of the South African variant among people vaccinated with a second dose … the South African variant is able, to some extent, to break through the vaccine’s protection,’ said Tel Aviv University’s Adi Stern. The researchers cautioned that the study only had a small sample size of people infected with the South African variant because of its rarity in Israel …They also said the research was not intended to deduce overall vaccine effectiveness against any variant, since it only looked at people who had already tested positive for COVID-19, not at overall infection rates … and the research has not been peer reviewed.”

          To conclude:

          Firstly, yes, the data from Israel indicates that the South African variant can escape the Pfizer-BionTech mRNA vaccine at a higher rate statistically than we’d like to see.

          Secondly, no, that data in no way supports your conflation of immune resistance after actual COV19 infection with that gained from an attenuated-virus vaccine. In fact, the massive real-world evidence of the Sinovac vaccine suggests that assumption is false.

          HOWEVER, it’s early days yet, much more remains to be learned about COV19, and neither of us is on the front lines in the labs. We’d both be fools not to acknowledge that further information could emerge that may show that either or both of us are at least partially wrong.

          That said, you’ve helped me formulate some questions and I have a limited amount of access to sources who might have some answers, because they’ve worked at or are working at NIAID, USAMRIID, and the MIT biotech VC firm behind Moderna. I’ll email them and if they’re good enough to get back to me with any worthwhile answers I’ll get back to you.

          1. KLG

            Why don’t SARS-CoV-2 vaccines work as people have come to expect? And by that I mean: (1) the vaccine prevents those vaccinated from catching the disease, (2) prevents those who are exposed from spreading the disease, and (3) immunity elicited by vaccination lasts for a reasonable period. Successful examples are legion: Polio, smallpox, MMR. The annual flu vaccine prepared against the likely upcoming Influenza A (e.g., H1N1) works well enough and has very few untoward side effects. It is not incidental that flu vaccines have been a work-in-progress for a long time.

            I have heard recently from clinical and scientific colleagues that the important attribute of the current SARS-CoV-2 mRNA vaccines is that vaccination will prevent an infected person from getting really sick, or dying. Well, maybe. But that is weak tea for citizens of the world, especially given that these COVID-19 vaccines do cause damage while not working as can be reasonably expected.

            The experimental nature of these vaccines is the key to our predicament. They might work. They might not. This has never been discussed by the powers that be at NIH, WHO, CDC, Pfizer et al. (are they distinct entities?), especially the “might not” part. These vaccines are, above all, experiments! That they are necessary experiments does not mean anything special from a scientific perspective.

            In my experience that began when Gerald Ford was President, experiments can have a 10% to 90% chance of working. You just never know, really. It doesn’t matter how much they cost or how ingenious or obvious they are. When they absolutely “have to work” for whatever reason (grant proposal, public health crisis?) is when they are most likely to laugh back at you.

            And yes, the mRNA approach is the result of “genetic engineering.” So the f*ck what? mRNA as the producer of an immunogen in vivo is also obvious or revolutionary depending on whether one knows anything of the history of molecular biology. Technology is not science, necessarily.

            But I am not the biochemist/cell biologist who denigrates “technology,” as did many of my colleagues who objected to Rosalyn Yalow’s Nobel Prize because “all she did was develop a method.” Yeah, right. And her radioimmunoassay was the signal development turning endocrinology (and by extension all of hormone biology) into a science. Among other things, it allowed us to understand from the beginning that Type 2 diabetes (T2DM) is due to insulin insensitivity rather than insulin insufficiency (T1DM).

            More recently a group of biochemists who were simply trying to understand how a certain species of jellyfish produces green light, when the underlying chemical reaction produces blue light, completely revolutionized cell biology, allowing cell biologists to go places in the cell that were unimaginable and impossible previously (Green Fluorescent Protein/GFP, such a prosaic name for such a revolution). But I digress, sorry, in dismay that NIH has stopped funding such work because it is “unimportant.” Opportunity cost, anyone? This also comes with the territory when the history of the science is (correctly) thought to be as important as what was published last week in Science, Nature, and Cell (and the previous incarnations of NEJM and Lancet). The “sexy, elegant” nature of mRNA has been allowed to cloud judgment and enhance expectations (both are terms of art molecular biologists use to pat themselves on the back for being so damn smart; sometimes venture capital joins in, sometimes not).

            The molecular evolution, i.e. mutation, of coronaviruses has become an object of discussion and is used to make the case that the mRNA vaccines are the only approach that makes sense. Perhaps, but not necessarily.

            Along these lines, I think people tend to conflate several levels of molecular evolution. The annual flu shot works to the extent it does because the hemagglutinin (HA) and neuraminidase (NA) proteins on the surface of the virus shuffle as intact proteins among the Influenza A variants running around “out there” in the world of pig farms and ponds full of ducks and geese (H1N1, H5N2). A coronavirus doesn’t do that.

            It is correct that the mRNAs for the spike protein fragment are based on a revision of work that previously failed when similar viral proteins were used as immunogens without taking into account fusion-competent conformations of the viral envelope (membrane) protein.

            But epitopes (small units of 3D protein structure recognizable as “other” our immune system) are funny, unpredictable things. Contrary to speculation here, it is absolutely true that a mutation changing a single amino acid can alter a critical epitope without affecting the ability of the virus to bind to and enter cells and cause disease. The mutation may even make the virus more virulent or more transmissible. Seems we are seeing this?

            Moreover, such mutations cannot be known in advance or predicted with any reliability. While mRNAs may be tunable to new coronavirus variants after they appear, this is nothing like the proactive yearly production of flu vaccine, which in the event occasionally misses the mark.

            That mRNA vaccines are experimental is reason enough to view a conventional approach to coronaviruses as more likely to achieve long-term success against SARS-CoV-2 and the next one that threatens pandemic. This is not some sort of retrograde, neo-Luddite response from “those people,” although hesitance seems to cover the ideological spectrum.

            Spike protein antigens are not the magic bullet against SARS-CoV-2, but a vaccine against the entire virus particle may provide many conventional bullets. Hundreds-to-thousands of epitopes can mean built-in redundancy.

            And there is the fact that no one has yet produced an effective vaccine against a coronavirus, to my knowledge. Nor has a truly effective mRNA virus been produced for use in humans, to my knowledge. The Zika virus mRNA vaccine was a great idea. After 4-5 years we are still waiting. This has nothing to do with some misguided notion that “Mother Nature knows best.” But it is an intelligent response to a Big Pharma and a Big Biotech that have apparently lost any sense that the precautionary principle is valid. It took Jonas Salk 20 years IIRC to produce his eponymous vaccine against polio. We can do certain things faster 60 years later, and we have a deeper understanding of the molecular biology. So what? Anyway, different virus, different mechanisms of pathobiology, but after nearly 40 years we still await an HIV vaccine. I cannot count the times I have heard the AIDS vaccine is “just around the corner.” I’ve stopped listening.

            Speaking of retroviruses, there is preliminary evidence from very good scientists that spike protein mRNA can be reverse transcribed and inserted into the human genome by the reverse transcriptase associated with LINE-1 transposons (not making an argument from authority, but scientists with a track record as leading molecular biologists should be listened to in the first instance). Our genome is full of these mobile genetic elements and their reverse transcriptase, which can be activated by stress…any likelihood this could cause problems down the road? Maybe not. Probably not. But who really knows? “Junk DNA” is clearly not always be junk.

            As for nature being a “gigantic mutation machine that’s run for millions of years,” that would be billions (with a “b”). Ignoring the tacit or unknowing nod to Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene, 1975): No, actually. Yes, there is (random) mutation. But after mutation comes selection, by whatever mechanism. The two are required for evolution. And the virus will evolve faster than our response.

            We, in the guise of our leading scientists, seem to be so enamored with the “elegance” of mRNA as productive of immunogen that we have forgotten that the interactions of the human immune system with our pathogens comprises thousands of nonlinear equations and just as many variables, if not more. I am drawn back to the wisdom of IM Doc’s mentor when he was a resident signing death certificates by what probably seemed the ream, for mostly young men who were only recently the very picture of vitality. I paraphrase, but the experienced physician reminded him to take care of himself, and that he would see this again. The mentor then said he just hoped to God that it wasn’t a coronavirus, because while they are essentially harmless to most people, they will kill enough of us to cause a societal breakdown.

            “We” have known this was coming since SARS and MERS. SARS petered out on its own. MERS was lethal but not very transmissible. We did nothing while chasing a series of shiny objects. There was no real money to be made. Alas. There may be no real money to be made in a traditional vaccine, injectable, oral, or nasal spray. Or in antivirals, which transformed AIDS into a manageable problem for most of those HIV positive. So the f*ck what?

          2. Yves Smith

            Your commentary is quite remarkable and frankly counterfactual. It’s widely agreed in the literature that an attenuated virus vaccine should elicit the same immune response as getting an infection.

            I did not say that you said an attenuated virus should deliver the same immune response, but that that was an inference that could be drawn from your discussion.

            However, Sinovac is not an attenuated virus vaccine but an inactivated virus vaccine, and those are more inconsistent in the degree of immunity they provide. They do require multiple shots to be reasonably effective. In some animal studies, dosing also proved to very important; a low dose was regularly not very effective.

            See KLG’s comment above. He takes issue with your assertion of the superiority of the mRNA vaccines and in particular, the ability of current versions to vanquish variants. Pfizer has already conceded that point in telling the press that it is working on a booster for some of them.

            I would never expect any sort of candid response from a VC, particularly in Moderna. Nature raised big red flags about them:


            As did STAT:


            Any VC that would invest in a firm without getting proper disclosure about the tech is a asking for a world of hurt.

      2. TroyIA

        The main difference between China’s vaccines and the other approaches is that China’s inactivated virus vaccine targets the post-fusion spike shape rather than the pre-fusion spike shape. It has so far been shown to be more effective to prevent the virus from infecting a cell versus trying to fight the virus after it has already taken over a cell.

        And the 2nd generation of COVID-19 vaccines based on the pre-fusion spike protein are expected to be more effective and cheaper to produce. Whether this greater effectiveness will also apply to existing and future variants remains to be seen. Personally I am interested in the Mexican intranasal spray which hopefully creates mucosal immunity.

        Researchers Are Hatching a Low-Cost Coronavirus Vaccine

        A new vaccine for Covid-19 that is entering clinical trials in Brazil, Mexico, Thailand and Vietnam could change how the world fights the pandemic. The vaccine, called NDV-HXP-S, is the first in clinical trials to use a new molecular design that is widely expected to create more potent antibodies than the current generation of vaccines. And the new vaccine could be far easier to make.

        Existing vaccines from companies like Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson must be produced in specialized factories using hard-to-acquire ingredients. In contrast, the new vaccine can be mass-produced in chicken eggs — the same eggs that produce billions of influenza vaccines every year in factories around the world.

        If NDV-HXP-S proves safe and effective, flu vaccine manufacturers could potentially produce well over a billion doses of it a year. Low- and middle-income countries currently struggling to obtain vaccines from wealthier countries may be able to make NDV-HXP-S for themselves or acquire it at low cost from neighbors.

        “That’s staggering — it would be a game-changer,” said Andrea Taylor, assistant director of the Duke Global Health Innovation Center.

        1. Michaelmas

          TroyIA: The main difference between China’s vaccines and the other approaches is that China’s inactivated virus vaccine targets the post-fusion spike shape rather than the pre-fusion spike shape.

          Thank you. That’s something I didn’t know.

          Personally I am interested in the Mexican intranasal spray which hopefully creates mucosal immunity

          There’s at least a half-dozen nasal prophylactic sprays being developed.

        2. Michaelmas

          @ TroyIA —

          You wrote: The main difference between China’s vaccines and the other approaches is that China’s inactivated virus vaccine targets the post-fusion spike shape rather than the pre-fusion spike shape. It has so far been shown to be more effective to prevent the virus from infecting a cell versus trying to fight the virus after it has already taken over a cell.

          Do you know if the Chinese choice to go with an inactivated virus vaccine effectively would have constrained them to target the post-fusion spike shape rather than the pre-fusion spike shape?

          1. Jeff W

            The Chinese vaccines may target the postfusion conformation but that might be an effect of the process of producing the vaccine.

            This brief article in Cell suggests that the agent used to inactivate the SARS-CoV-2 virus, β-propiolactone, might be playing a role in inducing that conformation:

            Here we have shown that β-propiolactone-treated SARS-CoV-2 viruses exhibit most of their spikes in the postfusion conformation. It is possible that β-propiolactone could induce this conformation change, yet we cannot rule out the effect of purification and concentration procedures.

    1. The Rev Kev

      I’m looking at that photo and all I can see is a punchline-

      ‘Hey, Peter. I caught a fish today and it was this big!’

      When Bolsonaro is finally gone and the pandemic finally over, they should re-dedicate that statue to all those Brazilians that have died due to the virus.

      1. Watt4Bob

        A budget of $350k!

        When I look at that picture I see a $5-10 million price tag if it was in the USA?

        Anyone else see that?

        1. tegnost

          maybe it was 350k to put the statue around an already paid for VOA transmission tower, not that i’m cynical or anything

        1. Laura Rubalcaba

          To me, the photo speaks to The Emptiness of the Christian religion. I actually like Christ, the person.
          So this rendition is called Christ The Protector? It just doesn’t look very protective to me. Arms Wide Open is a vulnerable stance

      2. Procopius

        Wasn’t it just week before last all three of his military service chiefs resigned? Interesting that has had no effect.

    2. Alfred

      Is Christ receiving signals from Outer Space? I noticed a huge alien antenna sprouting from his head.

      1. tegnost

        if my baseless conjecture from above happened to randomly be correct it would be christ receiving signals from the US of A, which actually increases the likelihood that my baseless conjecture has some merit!

  8. Eustachedesaintpierre

    A very enjoyable read from Craig Murray – the mambas – the RBS looting – status & I liked his words in relation to the birth lottery. I remember wondering while watching The First Emperor how if I had been born into that position I would turn out. In particular as a child made to feel powerful while being served & grovelled to by adults who are seen as being worthless – a situation that was definitely not the case in my family.

      1. Eustachedesaintpierre

        The first emperor certainly did draw a huge line in the sand, but I messed up & actually meant The Last Emperor. As to the Numero Uno I just hope the Chinese excavate his tomb before I die, but that is extremely unlikely, as there are still an estimated 6,000 terracotta figures to dig out as part of a complex covering an area of about 38 square miles.

    1. ObjectiveFunction

      Yes, Craig is a gifted writer with a fascinating life story, and I am now planning to buy his book. The essay is well worth the read!

  9. Henry Moon Pie

    Dakota Access Pipeline–

    There’s a relevant review of a book about a split within the Ecuadorian Left that was revealed after the election of Correa:

    These critiques [of neolliberalism] targeted the social and environmental impacts of extractive projects and envisioned two pathways toward establishing a post-neoliberal state: ‘radical resource nationalism’, which seeks popular and democratic control over oil and minerals; and anti-extractivism, which opposes all forms of resource extraction in pursuit of a harmonious relationship between humans and nature.

    Specifically, radical resource nationalism proposes channelling the booming state revenues from natural resource exports to expansive public infrastructure projects and social welfare programmes. By significantly increasing state spending on basic needs to pay off ‘the social debt accumulated from decades of austerity and economic crisis’ (15), this developmental model directly benefits the working class and the peasantry.

    It’s not hard to see how a similar split exists in the U. S. between those whose priority it is to “restore/rebuild the middle class” and degrowth advocates. The libs don’t see a conflict because techno miracles will make all hard choices unnecessary.

    1. km

      I do not recall Jesus’ teaching us that the care of the poor, the sick, the incarcerated should be abandoned, that we might build focus our efforts on building bigger monuments to Him.

        1. km

          Blessed are those who performatively signal virtue, for they shall take it upon themselves to define what ‘virtue’ means….” said Jesus never, at least not as reported in my Bible.

  10. Screwball

    Apologies if this has been previously posted.

    On the Biden Infrastructure plan, Matt Stoller, and Rising.

    Stoller wrote this article;
    Keep McKinsey Away from Biden’s Infrastructure Push

    Krystal & Saager had him on Rising to talk about it;
    Matt Stoller’s DIRE WARNING: Don’t Let McKinsey Anywhere NEAR Infrastructure Bill

    Hope that works.

    I read and hear so many liberals going ga-ga over Biden and this plan. They think it is the greatest thing since sliced bread and oh how great it is to have real “leadership” in office.

    Apparently their are many of them bad at math thinking all that Biden’s bill has promised is probably 10 times more than the 1.9 trillion they are talking about.

    And that’s before the McKinsey’s of the world get their greedy little mitts on the money. Not to mention the connection and position of “biker” Pete as transportation secretary. Sure connects the dots IMO on what to watch for.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I added the close tags for your links.

      Click the link button once to add the URL. Look at it, you will it it has changed. Click it again after the text of your link (“Push” and “Bill”) above.

      “If you open it, close it” is the basic rule of HTML.

      Thanks for putting in proper links though!

  11. The Rev Kev

    “Capitol Police sent cops to a guy’s door for somebody else’s tweet”

    AOC denies reporting that guy. Maybe. Maybe not. But it was not long ago that she asked her mass of supporters to report social media critics to Twitter and Facebook who said that as she was not even in the same building during the Jan 6 riots, that she was exaggerating her danger. So yeah, she was asking all her supporters to be snitches for her to get her critics suspended by Twitter and Facebook.

    But the internet being the internet, these critics then flooded the #AOCLied hashtag with images of cats and dogs instead-

    1. John A

      If AOC had called the police to report a possible threat, would they have even understood the kind of word salad she would have used to describe the situation? You would mentally switch off before she had got halfway round to what she wanted to say.

      1. Alfred

        Someone must have taken her into a room and told her directness from a hispanic female is frightening.

    2. Dr. John Carpenter

      Well, for what it’s worth, during #forcethevote, she did tweet, without naming him, that Jimmy Dore’s criticism of her was “violence”. So yeah, maybe she did, maybe she didn’t, but it’s not a huge leap from one to the other. That there’s even room for reasonable doubt is unfortunate.

    3. Michael Sharkey

      AOC denies reporting the threat, but that still leaves open the possibility that one of her staffers made the call on her instructions. One must parse a politician’s words, even those as seemingly idiotic as AOCs.

    4. dcblogger

      AOC denies reporting that guy. Maybe. Maybe not

      wow, can’t believe the attitude here. before we dismiss her denial shouldn’t we have at least a shred of evidence that she did indeed call the police?

      1. Gareth

        It would help if she didn’t have a history of encouraging online harassment campaigns against her critics.

  12. ahimsa

    Tweet about “situational” airbourne is meaningless:
    Occupancy % without reference to cubic volumes of spaces (not all classrooms are alike)
    Masks without reference to type (surgical/N95/community???)
    air filtration – no reference whatsoever!?

    1. Alfred

      I agree, those % have to be relative to conditions. I ride public transportation, and the variety of masks, from t-shirt type, bandana, surgical and N95, varies from ride to ride. There are vinyl partitions between seats, and riders are told to sit next to the window to increase distancing, but this has all gone out the window with riders, who seem to think it’s not necessary now, even as cases in the community go up. I go at times when ridership is low as much as possible, to avoid possible viral load. I can do this because I am retired. It still worries me that nobody seems aware, and that needs to be taken into account as much as everything else.

      1. Pelham

        I hope that someday someone can break down this irresponsible behavior according to how much can be attributed to general public carelessness and how much should be ascribed to chaotic, scatter-brained, corrupt leadership and science at every level.

        Personally, I’m both more informed and thoroughly confused at this late stage in the pandemic than I was early on and consequently assume the very worst at every juncture. So far, no covid in our household. But none of us have been shanghaied into forced essential labor.

        1. Alfred

          “how much should be ascribed to chaotic, scatter-brained, corrupt leadership and science at every level. ”

          At certain times on the bus I see more die-hard Trump supporters, and they are definitely the worst observers of COVID safety, so modeling by authority is important–these people also have mental health problems, so maybe they identify with him, and he gives them permission to be “who they are” and act out. They also like to irritate other people and get a charge out of that.
          Good modeling and information are essential and don’t give these people an incentive to act stupid. I always thought it was spread by aerosol at least in part because of the nature of it, so I started wearing a mask in Feb., along with some others. Assuming the worst is a good strategy.

  13. The Rev Kev

    “Inside Trump’s Mar-a-Lago office: Former president’s desk offers a glimpse into life after the White House”

    ‘The photograph has been pored over by observers after it was posted by Stephen Miller, an aide to the former president, who said he had just had a “terrific meeting” with Mr Trump.’

    I’m not sure and I would hate to disagree with those observers, but I think those items are called “souvenirs.”

  14. crittermom

    > “A Year in the Life of Safeway 1048”

    My daughter-in-law began working at a Safeway last summer ‘part time’. From the beginning they worked her almost full time but without any benefits & pay of $12.32 hr.(minimum wage). She worked in produce.

    By the end of the year she’d applied for a mgmt position in that department & was told she got it.
    Unfortunately, it took literally months beyond what they’d originally told her before her new title & raise came through. They finally did less than 2 months ago? She now makes $20 hr. but still no health insurance.

    In the meantime, she contracted the virus. Most likely at work, as she & my son have been VERY, VERY careful & doing their socializing on Zoom.

    She has many horror stories of maskless customers hovering over her or yelling in her face if the produce is not up to their expectations. Fortunately, she didn’t get horribly sick nor require hospitalization, but she missed days of work & seemingly passed the virus onto my son.
    (Both seem to be doing fine now, so I continue to hope neither become ‘long haulers’).

    She was cleared to return to work before her (one time) 2 week time off for Covid expired & it took weeks beyond until she finally received her pay for those days she was off sick.

    However, the company insurance (& as pointed out, they ARE union) apparently doesn’t kick in until you’ve worked there a year. I find that ridiculous. Another indication unions have been weakened?

    From what she says, the employees ARE on their own regarding dealing with customers, & the recent shooting at a store in Boulder left her pretty shook up.

    Myself having grown up in the rural surroundings of the Motor City (Detroit, MI), many people I knew worked for one of the big auto makers, with great pay & excellent benefits, retiring from those same, secure jobs.

    I remain saddened & horrified by what I’ve seen happen in this country in my almost 70 yrs of life.

    1. Fireship

      “She has many horror stories of maskless customers hovering over her or yelling in her face if the produce is not up to their expectations.”

      Reading NC, it is becoming indistinguishable from Morris Berman’s blog, Why America Failed. The daily aggression in society from cops to grocery shoppers is a symptom of a sick society that is doomed. The US is like a big Jones Town waiting to happen. Hopefully you guys manage to off yourselves without taking the rest of us down with you, but I’m not hopeful. One can only hope.

      1. crittermom

        “The daily aggression in society from cops to grocery shoppers is a symptom of a sick society… ”

        I couldn’t agree more.

    2. dcblogger

      very sad to hear this. In DC Safeway is a UFCW shop, but not where you are? Or mebbe the union is not doing its job. the way workers are treated in the US is truly shocking.

    3. Pelham

      Allow me to extend my sincere sympathies.

      Growing up, we lived next door to a manager for a grocery chain whom the company relied on to go from one struggling regional store to the next to turn them around. He succeeded doing so with our local store. But for years he struggled with a painful hernia that he refused to have corrected because the surgery would require him to take time off from work. He was nearing retirement age and a long-promised pension and figured he’d take care of it then.

      The chain, however, had other ideas and fired him months before pension eligibility kicked in. The family had to sell their home, move to a very poor section of town, and the man’s wife literally had to start taking in laundry and finding odd tasks to keep them afloat. Surgery for the hernia was out of the question. So after a few months lying almost wordlessly on the living-room couch, the man bought a cheap shotgun, drove to the outskirts of town and did what you might expect.

      I’ve never shopped at this chain or another affiliate grocer since then and forbid my wife and daughter from doing so. I guess that’s pretty thin gruel, but it’s what I can manage. On the upside, I think that the boiling hatred I’ve developed for corporate America as a result of this episode is one of the things that helps keep me younger mentally than I would be otherwise.

      1. crittermom

        > “… fired him months before pension eligibility kicked in.”
        What a horrifying story.

        I’ve no idea your age, but with a wife & daughter (who also shops), I know you’re not that young. I had no idea such crap was going on until more recent years (thanks to NC exposing the truths & educating me).

        I still become enraged over employees with decades of working for a company having to train their HB1 visa replacements just prior to retirement as they’re let go, too.

        It is not a democracy if it’s only run by a very small sector of people with big bank accounts, is it?

        1. young

          Those people do not have big bank accounts, they own the big banks.

          The real problem is we have too many billionaires for the poor to focus on.

          It will be resolved when we have a handful trillionaires.

          1. Massinissa

            I’ve yet seen many people openly hating Jeff Bezos, and he’s a fifth of the way there. I think his wealth is equal to the annual GDP of many countries, including some with millions of people. His wealth is obscene enough as it is, he’s almost at the level of being a modern Carnegie.

      2. Alfred

        OMG! He was probably afraid of getting fired for taking off work to get his operation. I appreciate that you deny them your business.
        Oh, and I forgot to say above i am glad you and your family have stayed healthy, and hope it continues.

            1. ambrit

              Actually, it’s a variation on the “olde capitalisme.” You lose other people’s money to grow rich.
              In any ‘civilized’ society, the above is characterized as theft.

  15. Alfred

    Thanks, Mr. Strether, for the Reductress link, and all the other places you have brought to me for my edification.
    My father was a finish carpenter, and took pride in building beautiful things that would be appreciated by generations to come, and he was a devout Republican, Nixon-lover, etc. I asked him once how he could vote for people who wanted to bust the Union he loved, that gave us all great health care, and ultimately a good retirement for himself and my mother. To him, that question had no validity. In his mind, he was going to keep his union benefits, and whoever got crappy stuff deserved it because they did not buy American, and union-made goods. I am happy he could retire before what hit the fan came home to him personally.

  16. semiconscious

    re: ‘A Great Excuse to Do Nothing’: The People Who Don’t Want to Return to Normalcy New York Magazine

    another view:

    Lockdownism, the ideology that now dominates public life, is no different. One of its central elements is forgetting the past, including the very recent past. Before 2020, nobody spoke about ‘lockdown’, ‘social distancing’, ‘the R-rate’, ‘self-isolation’ and so on. Yet we now talk about these concepts as though they have existed for decades – almost as though they are immutable facts about how we have always dealt with infectious disease, rather than a series of ideas dreamed up on the spur of the moment and imposed in a panic. We are encouraged to forget that things used to be different and that we used to live our lives freely, accepting that there were nasty diseases out there that might kill you if you did, but this was a risk worth taking because the alternative was worse.

    Imagine going back in time to this moment two years ago, April 2019, and asking somebody whether it would be acceptable to pause children’s education, put an end to live music and live sport, prevent people from meeting family members or hugging at a funeral, and close businesses for an indefinite period, all in response to a virus which more than 99 per cent of people survive. There would have been only one answer. We all know this. That wasn’t how we used to think about these things. But now, we are forced to forget.

    1. artemis

      So true. This is a distillation of my existential Covid loneliness – my lefty friends don’t want to hear this, they have been busy from day one sewing masks and congratulating themselves on their adherence to “science” and excoriating dissent, hesitancy, questioning CDC guidelines etc. My first reaction when the shutdowns came was OMG, they’ve cancelled public life, what now? And then, cui bono? Similar to my reaction watching the towers collapse. The downtown public library was given a fabulous redesign, I was so looking forward to the grand opening in April 2020. It’s still closed, and they disinfect and isolate returned books while you can only get books from the website. Life is online now, and everything is under control.

      1. ambrit

        I’ll rewrite your last line to read: “(Public) life is online now.”
        As has always been the case, the individual needs to develop and nurture a private life, to maintain ‘balance’ and sanity.

    2. Alice X

      In the US, the case fatality rate (CFR) is 1.8%, in the UK, Italy and Brazil it is around 3%, in Mexico it is 9%. The US number is probably higher, the excess death rate in 2020 indicates a multiple. In addition the 1.8% is a fraction of those who have lasting and sometimes serious complications. The seasonal flu CFR is 0.1%. There is good reason for the precautions.

  17. The Rev Kev

    “Too much? BBC gets complaints over Prince Philip coverage”

    Seems that the BBC has become pretty useless for independent news over the past few years just like the Guardian. Even here in Oz we are getting the same saturation coverage of Prince Phil’s death. But after reading another article in Link’s today called ‘How Bellingcat Launders National Security State Talking Points into the Press’, perhaps the British taxpayers could save themselves a stack of money by amalgamating the BBC with Bellingcat since they both work for the same people. Yeah, it would then become the Bellingcat Broadcasting Corporation but if they still used the initials the BBC, nobody would notice any different.

  18. Duck1

    Report on the codfish collapse in Science. Ends on typically vacuous positive note for no good reason: “In any case, Pinsky says the study proves one thing: Cod doesn’t have to remain the poster child of population collapse from overfishing.” Even if the population does recover it will still be the poster child of damage from overfishing. I suppose if “natural” intelligence manages to extinct itself there will be no more chatter about poster children of the “natural” intelligence mismanagement of life on earth.

  19. Kim

    Teen Vogue article on jobs:

    “Carolyn Muller, 27, who uses they/them pronouns, is one of those people. After their wife made the difficult choice to leave her full-time job in June 2020, to preserve her mental health,”

    Why should we give a crap about people like her who are committing psychic, cultural and social suicide? They have self-identified with ‘their’ performative stupidity as the next generation of scullery maids who will work the lowly jobs that they have condemned ‘themselfs’ to for the rest of their life.

    Pity the poor teenage girls who read that drivel and think that these are normal life choices, like dying one’s hair. Just more programmed civic decay with advertising.

    1. The S

      Wow. Punch down much?

      A) Scullery maids are useful members of society and do actual needed work, unlike most of the financial parasites and real estate flippers that infect Denver and who have condemned so many here to homelessness.

      B) Carolyn, despite being overworked and underpaid, still finds the time and resources to show up to help the stem the harm against the frontline casualties of capitalism, the homeless. Carolyn has so little but works to make sure those who have even less are shown some care and treatment. In a society that centers selfishness and acquisition, people like Carolyn are a blessing and a breath of fresh air. We need them.

      C) Nobody “chooses” to be a marginalized and targeted member of society. Nobody wants to be excluded from opportunity or targeted by state security forces. They aren’t committing “psychic, cultural and social suicide,” they’re being murdered by others. The bigots who stifle opportunity are the problem, not the people.

      D) If you hate queers and poors, just say so without being so pompous and roundabout.

      E) I understand that the Democrat liberals use empty identity and representation politics to cover up their complete lack of policies that help anyone but corporate donors, but identity politics is a radical materialist analysis of intersecting oppressions coined by Black Lesbian Marxists in the 70’s. No tv news or corporate press will instruct you on their views accurately. May I suggest for further understanding you try “How We Get Free: Black Feminism and the Combahee River Collective” edited by Taylor, Keeanga-Yamahtta (2017). Black queer women who experience racism, patriarchy, and homophobia all at once understand better than you how various oppressions manifest, intersect, and reinforce one another. The most marginalized people understand best how this society really functions.

    2. marym

      The economic plight described in the article of someone working 3 jobs — including working with homeless people, and working in a sports bar where customers with no concern for the working class refuse to cooperate with distancing requirements — to support their wife and step-children through a pandemic, and both a mental health crisis and a death in the family isn’t a function of their choice of pronouns.

      Teen Vogue does good wor reporting on economic and public health realities as well as cultural and identity issues.

    3. Yves Smith

      I feel sorry for your kids if you have any and anyone who works for you. You have no compassion.

      You have a “I’ve got mine” self-justifying view of the world. Much of the comfortable lifestyle of the upper middle class and upper class depends upon exploitation of lower wage workers.

      Victorian aristocrats were more civilized than you are. They regarded how people treated the help as a sign of character and moral fibre.

      Did you miss unemployment for the young is at all time highs? That record numbers of people are “involuntary part time employed” as in actively seeking full time work but unable to get a full time job? And that Covid has made things worse for them?

    4. Massinissa

      “Why should we give a crap about people like her who are committing psychic, cultural and social suicide?”

      Would you help us all out and expand on what you mean by ‘psychic, cultural and social’ suicide? We would love to be elucidated as to your opinions.

      Also do elaborate on the ‘poor life choices’ you’re afraid young women are going to make. We are all ears.

  20. Susan the other

    Not sure what sort of a publication is but they seem to have a crypto-agenda. The article “Boston Fed’s Cunha on Building a Payments Network for the Next 100 Years” was interesting. But crypto-freaks just can’t resist a pinch of propaganda. They commingled the words “crypto” and “digital” and managed to subtly insinuate that the US Fed is pro-digital-payments that include cryptocurrencies. Never mind that crypto is not a currency. It is an asset. PYMNTS blithely blabbers about how crypto will be included in this future (MIT-backed) payments system. And naturally the article was categorized editorially with the tab “cryptocurrency”. Clearly crypto has a big big problem. It wants to be a public currency, a medium of exchange in the worst way but it is holding itself back by being nothing more than a private, highly secured asset. The two just don’t mix. Why can’t they get it straight? Maybe what crypto needs is an electronic bartering platform – completely separate from future sovereign currency digital operations.

    1. JTMcPhee

      How do the crypto-thugs get to make the vast social decisions about oh, resource allocation (sh!tloads of CO2 from all the electricity it takes to run the servers or whatever) and what is going to be everyone’s money?

  21. Tom Collins' Moscow Mule

    “This is a failure on so many levels,” Laura said. “When you have people who are just in it for a quick buck, they don’t really care what they leave behind.” [Waves of Abandonment Grist. Texas oil wells.]

    While the standard economic model, based on extreme greed, continues to undergo various ‘refinements’, the externalities and spillovers commonly associated with ‘failures’ of the market continue to be socialized, that is, the associated costs are absorbed by the state. The current situation is hardly different from past occurrences, as noted in the Grist article, and it is perhaps even modeled after the historical template outlined in the following observations,

    “As long as business was good, profit remained to private initiative. When the depression came, the Government added the loss to the taxpayer’s burden. Profit is private and individual. Loss is public and social.”

    “After rendering the services asked by big business, the Government must retire into the background and leave a free field to private initiative.”

    “Under The Axe Of Fascism” [The End of Laissez-Faire]: Gaetano Salvemini

    So little has changed in the intervening years, it seems as if the words and the insights that they contain could have been written yesterday.

        1. flora

          I wouldn’t link a silly source on NC. If NC has a dispute about the FLCCC’s provinance and reputation I’m willing in deference to NC’s host’s priors to not link them on NC. Best. / ;)

      1. Juneau

        When I search “long covid treatment” on PubMed (NIH data base of peer reviewed published research) I find 32 articles describing various aspects of Long Covid but no studies dedicated to treatment protocols for the entire syndrome

        FLCCC and private entities like IncellDx (under Dr Bruce Patterson) are developing treatment protocols for Long Covid but it will take time and money to see useful results. IncellDx is developing a proprietary Long Covid clinic and will provide treatment to patients. Still, seems researchers are at the stage of defining the syndrome, subtypes, pathophysiology etc… Since treatment research requires a lot of funding, and monies are going to acute Covid research, Long Covid is taking a back seat perhaps by necessity.

  22. DJG, Reality Czar

    The article by Peyser about A Great Excuse to Do Nothing and avoidance of “Normalcy” is a prime example of U.S. genial incompetence (Peyser’s own, that is).

    Peyser sets up the article to revolve around “social anxiety,” which isn’t the reasoning behind most of Peyser’s subjects. What they object to is the disorder of U.S. social life (the inevitable text, “I’m ten minutes late,” with the perfunctory apology, the second text, “Still running late,” and then the lecture about having to apologize too often). They object to the managed crowd scenes–is anyone truly going to defend a return to “gender reveal parties”?

    One man has spent the time getting into shape, and he’s proud of himself. One man got sober–an accomplishment in itself. The guy who wants to be a writer learned a peril of the writer’s life = lots of time alone and that bottle of Irish whiskey in the kitchen making itself available. It appears that no one clued him in.

    Pre-COVID life was filled with too many social events that were neither social nor satisfying. It was hectic because U.S. businesses and managers had discovered that social media meant keeping employees busy all day long–with more e-mail on the weekends. I recall being in O’Hare, dodging people with the emotional-support dogs, for business meetings in NYC that had to be kept to a couple of working days, because, supposedly, the company couldn’t afford the hotel room. What could have been more absurd?

    Meanwhile, my neighborhood, once noted for cleanliness, has had a permanent layer of to-go boxes, disposable paper cups, plastic lids, and plastic straws on the sidewalks and lawns. Physical signs of “Normalcy.” I was already waiting for a virus to emerge from the sludge of the “usa e getta” society.

    So if COVID relents, I want another arrangement. The old “normal” was ruining us.

    1. Alfred

      I would go for “the _____ normal…” going out of the lexicon entirely. Normal can be used to refer to your body temperature only. Any other use is slavery, IMO.

  23. Zachary Smith

    Regarding the Radiation-Shielding Fungi, I’m reminded of the Lakota “Ghost Shirts” which were worn as protection against bullets.

    If 21 cm of miracle fungus can shield a fallout shelter as well as 10 centimeters of lead or a hundred centimeters of closely packed dirt, then everything I thought I knew about Physics is wrong.

    One wonders if the $400/gram cost of the magic melanin isn’t the most appealing part of this for Big Space Travel.

    1. Duck1

      Maybe the founders travelling to Mars can cross it with psylocybe and nibble on it to take the edge off space travel

  24. lobelia

    Re: “They Present a Version of Themselves That Isn’t Real”: Inside the Dark, Biohacked Heart of Silicon Valley

    Would that a similar piece regarding Silicon Valley’s outrageously homogenous young Gods™ had been written near decades ago, particular by Silicon Valley’s local, beholden press, which was quite empowered at that time (Knight Ridder era) to do the right thing, but did not; ditto re: Gary Webb’s Dark Alliance series.

    The author really should have included: Dorsey’s Achievement Beard™ (10/08/15 All Hail the Achievement Beard!, quite unlike a Silicon Valley/Santa Clara County unsheltered, unisex, homelessness beard, his has magical hairs; and certainly Peter Thiel’s vampirism and Seasteader Institute; among other countless Silicon Valley young gods’ revolting presentations, but then again, that would have quickly turned into a full sized book.

    While doing a quick search on Jack’s beard, this was my favorite result, it really should win an award for the best title: 1/28/20 By Leia Idliby Jack Dorsey’s Unkempt Skype Room Beard Breaks the Internet: He’s Speaking to the Senate Committee ‘Live From the Shores of Galilee.’ I’ve no doubt whatsoever that Jack is so deluded and filled with himself that he really thinks he’s some sort of deity, versus the fascist billionaire censor that he is.

    I’m betting that shaving Jack’s revolting beard; spiking Peter Thiel’s young blood supply; and salting the water of Seasteader colonies’ fresh water supply, is on countless Bucket Lists.

    gotta run (yes, I know ambrit, but walking is now a timely leisure for the many from whom time has been literally been robbed, smiles bleakly thanking you deeply for the well wishes)

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      What if a super-healthy young person could super-master Meditation so masterfully that he-she could control hermself during the entirety of an LSD trip? He/she could then sell LSD-laced blood to the Thielmonster and maybe expand its consciousness.

  25. lobelia

    oops (damn shabby, zero eating keyboard), re my comment of moments ago in moderation, that should have read as an October, not January, date:

    10/28/20 By Leia Idliby Jack Dorsey’s Unkempt Skype Room Beard Breaks the Internet: He’s Speaking to the Senate Committee ‘Live From the Shores of Galilee.’

    gotta run

  26. LawnDart

    Re: Bellingcat

    If you can get close enough, without spooking it, usually the classic cold bucket of water is enough to dampen the ambitions of our would-be Romeo, the belling cat.

    I give marks: the name “Bellingcat” kinda gives one the warm-and-fuzzies and does not readily convey the image of a howling monster looking to screw something, though the objective is the same.

    Yesterday, these cats eyes were on Syria, today it’s Ukraine… …I’d really like to see these pussies get neutered before they get us into trouble with the neighbors.

  27. Synoia


    We are worried that China is getting military technology,” Bolton said during his visit. “We see, for example, that the fifth generation of Chinese fighters is very similar to the American F-35. This is because they are F-35 fighters. They just stole them.

    Isn’t that good news?

    Or did the Chinese fix the complexity of the design?

    1. jo6pac

      I’ve read they made the plane a one issue plane unlike Amerika the plane was suppose to everything and ends doing up nothing but making a lot $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ for lockheed.
      They did indeed steal it right out of the so called secure computers of lockheed

    2. Doc Octagon

      A spokesperson for the AFOSI Research and Technology Protection Program would like to remind everyone how awful the F-35 is. So, PRC, don’t bother trying to match the Pentagon’s plan to have 1,763 of them mission-capable in the air-to-ground role, despite their awfulness. Cold war aircraft numbers may have been traded for aircraft readiness because the future of air-to-air warfare is unmanned airframes and munitions, where the ROE will be beyond visual range and determined by AWACS far from the bull’s eye. Blue-on-blue incidents aren’t a problem if airframes aren’t piloted. There are 934 fourth-generation multirole data-linked F-16’s available to convert to unmanned flight with a kit. So many airframes that their mission may not even require them to land, doubling their range. Just fight until they run out of gas. The only role for future pilots is to ferry them to the airfield and maybe taxi them onto the runway.

      Also, the Research and Technology Protection Program wants everyone to know that aliens are real and UFO’s on FLIR are totally not a subsurface maritime-launched UAV. The US doesn’t have those, but if they did, the US might want to introduce them without breaking the law on special access programs to force adversaries to re-think their combat doctrine, delaying future offensives in the South China Sea. – There is nothing like spending a ton on wunderwaffen to plant a kernel of doubt in your adversary, and convince oneself that conflict is anything but a crapshoot.

  28. kareninca

    Nearly every headline about vaccine breakthrough cases includes the word “rare.” It is almost as if all of the news agencies were using the same script. There are synonyms, really. Anyway, of course they are rare – most of the people who have been vaccinated were vaccinated very recently. The odds are good that they haven’t had a chance to be exposed to the virus since being vaccinated, and especially not to the Brazilian or the S. African variants. Whether these breakthrough cases are actually rare will depend on how things are going in 3-6 months, by my guess.

  29. kareninca

    “Stern suggested that the South African has less transmissibility than the original strain and certainly less than the British mutation – that has been shown to be as much as 70% more contagious than the original strain – and therefore has not managed to spread.
    “It can break through the vaccine, but it cannot spread efficiently, so that is the good news,” Stern said, noting that one possible explanation is that the extensive spread of the British variant blocked the spread of the South African variant.” (

    I had wondered whether one strain of the virus could affect the spread of another strain. Per the above, “Prof. Adi Stern, of the Shmunis School of Biomedicine and Cancer Research at Tel Aviv University’s Faculty of Life Sciences” has suggested that might be possible.

    So does that mean that if we manage to block the British variant using the vaccine, we won’t have the British variant at work blocking the S. African strain? And that that will allow the South African strain to spread better? The South African strain, which we don’t have a great vaccine for?

  30. The Rev Kev

    “This Is the Most Embarrassing News Clip in American Transportation History”

    What can possibly go wrong with something like this? Well, considering that Tesla cars will be traveling through it, here is one possibility- (1:15 mins)

    I would like to point out in that film that the tunnel is plenty wide for other cars to make their way around that car. And that fire and emergency vehicles can reach it. If this happened in that narrow tunnel and there were other vehicles behind it, how would that work out? How would those drivers escape all that smoke which would rapidly fill that narrow tunnel. In that short CNBC publicity clip I did not see any emergency doors. They would have been hard to see in any case with all that razzle-dazzle colour changes. And Las Vegas actually gave Musk $50 million to build it? Who has liability in case of an accident? This is just stupidity on a stick.

    1. Duck1

      “stupidity on a stick”
      I guess we will have to add the self-licking idiotsicle to our idiocracy nomenclature.

  31. kareninca

    re: ‘A Great Excuse to Do Nothing’: The People Who Don’t Want to Return to Normalcy New York Magazine

    And I know people my age – mid-50s – who are rooting for the virus. Not because they hate old/sick people; they figure it will eventually get all age groups due to mutation. It’s a combo of socioeconomic despair and a life spent drenched in SF and dystopian novels. They want it to all burn to the ground. I don’t want that, but I do understand why they feel that way.

  32. VietnamVet

    The other characteristic pointed out by the Skagit Valley Choir outbreak is that super spreader events are a major means of transmission of coronavirus. To acknowledge both aerosol and super spreader event transmission would mean that Western governments were competent and willing to spend money and hire personnel to nationalize the multi-state public health services to conduct universal testing, effective contact tracing, and pay for safe quarantines.

    It is simply impossible for professional managers to recognize the cause of something when there is no way to deal with it. Instead, billions were spent on warp speed mRNA jabs that are profitable. Despite the propaganda and omissions, it appears that it is more and more likely that the vaccines will be a reoccurring treatment but not a COVID-19 cure. Each jab will be a risk verses benefit decision. But Western governments and corporations may make them mandatory since there is no other way to control the virus in the West.

    1. The Rev Kev

      That last sentence may not be feasible. Already the Israelis are reporting that the South African variant of the virus can blow right through the Pfizer vaccine, though this was based on a study of only 150 people. Thing is, Israel uses this vaccine as their main go to vaccination drug and if the South African variant spreads there, then the population will not be that protected at all-

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      There was another way to have controlled the virus in the West. Ian Welsh writes about it here.

      Public distrust may be so deep and broad that it can’t be done anywhere in the West any more now.
      It would require two big things to get it done in the West. First, Western publics would have to trust that Covid is exterminatable in theory. If they decide to trust in that possibility, then second they would have to torture and terrorise their ruling elites into applying those methods to exterminate Covid.

      And since the elites want to keep Covid going because it is a rolling money-maker for them, they would have to be really tortured and terrorised in order to give up the prospect of all that much more beautiful money over the years to come by submitting to public demand to exterminate the elite’s Covid cash cow.

  33. The Rev Kev

    “A Self-Replicating Radiation-Shield for Human Deep-Space Exploration”

    An interesting experiment that and does open up other possibilities. It has been mentioned in scifi stories of ships whose hulls were actually organically grown to a specified shape. Kind of like growing an exosceleton. It would need a high order of genetic control but it is intriguing if it could be done. So if this fungus could be incorporated into such a grown hull, the radiation protection would be the hull itself.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        I had read about the trepanned skulls of successful survivors of the procedure. I hadn’t read before of one with a metal plate installed. Are there already other examples knowable of?

  34. Mikel

    RE: “The Global Future Is Looking Dark and Stormy”

    “How the next two decades will unfold depends largely on whether new technologies will ultimately unite us — or continue to divide us…”

    The problem is right in that sentence. People will need to unite with each other. Waiting for machines to “unite” people is brain dead gobble-dy gook.

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