Links 4/2/2021

Why Animals Don’t Get Lost The New Yorker

Mapping the World’s Key Maritime Choke Points Visual Capitalist (dk).

The Suez Grounding Was an Accident. The Next Blocked Chokepoint Might Not Be. Defense One (Re Silc).

Global chip supply chain increasingly vulnerable to massive disruption, study finds Reuters (Re Silc).

Banks must act to control fraud epidemic FT

Markets pass the Archegos test Axios


CDC Data Suggests Vaccinated Don’t Carry, Can’t Spread Virus New York Magazine. I don’t know what New York Magazine’s editors were thinking when they wrote that headline. It’s not just wrong, it suppresses the key story, which begins in paragraph five:

Though the study is an impressive piece of evidence of the effectiveness of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, some public-health experts pushed back on Walensky’s pandemic-changing takeaway. “There cannot be any daylight between what the research shows — really impressive but incomplete protection — and how it is described,” Dr. Peter Bach, director of the Center for Health Policy and Outcomes at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, told the New York Times on Thursday. “This opens the door to the skeptics who think the government is sugarcoating the science,” Bach added, “and completely undermines any remaining argument why people should keep wearing masks after being vaccinated.

Even the Centers for Disease Control hedged on Walensky’s claims. “Dr. Walensky spoke broadly during this interview,” a CDC spokesperson told the Times. “It’s possible that some people who are fully vaccinated could get Covid-19. The evidence isn’t clear whether they can spread the virus to others. We are continuing to evaluate the evidence.”

“Spoke broadly.” Are you [family blogging] kidding me? Rejecting the (not entirely unwarranted) hypothesis that Walensky is stupid and/or incompetent, she spoke as she did to generate the headlines that were in fact generated, and which is all most people read. A Noble Liar, just like Fauci. If anything goes badly wrong with one of the vaccines, these bozos — weeping, or not — will bring down not only the public health care system, but PMC credibility generally (not such a good thing, if you need experts in degrees in Bubblegum and Baling Wire to manage a system that is, in fact, held together with bubblegum and baling wire). It’s madness. (I also expect much better of New York Magazine. And no, “suggests’ doesn’t cut it.)

BNT162b2 Vaccination in People Over 80 Years of Age Induces Strong Humoral Immune Responses with Cross Neutralisation of P.1 Brazilian Variant (preprint) The Lancet. Interpretation: “These data demonstrate that the mRNA vaccine platform delivers strong humoral immunity in people up to 96 years of age and retains broad efficacy against the P.1 Variant of Concern.” n =100.

Coronavirus: Pfizer jab ‘stopping 91% of cases in first six months’ BBC. “[T]he crucial question of how long the protection from the vaccine lasts remains unanswered.” Since we have no data after six months, yes. Has it really been six months?

Giving Everyone a Fair Shot International Monetary Fund

Company producing J&J vaccine had history of violations AP. American manufacturing has problems. Who knew?

History of AstraZenaca, a thread:

* * *

Young vs. old:

* * *

Resistance from health experts and business owners could doom ‘vaccine passports’ even before they launch STAT

Are We Much Too Timid in the Way We Fight Covid-19? Ezra Klein, NYT. “One problem is no one, on either side of this debate, really knows what will and won’t destroy public trust.” Perhaps we’ll find out.

The Antiscience Movement Is Escalating, Going Global and Killing Thousands Scientific American. Fund a lot of citizen science under “Build Back Better,” and problem solved.


Philippines, US discuss Chinese activities in West Philippine Sea The Rappler

Hong Kong’s Avoidable Tragedy Is Complete Bloomberg

China’s Covid-19 QR code surveillance state FT


Russia strides into diplomatic void after Myanmar coup FT

Myanmar parallel parliament raises stakes in fight for ethnic support Nikkei Asian Review. Well worth a read. Key sentence: “Min Aung Hlaing [junta chief] and the [State Administration Council] do not have a clear territorial base. The junta enjoys modest support among the security forces and some economic elites but nowhere are their supporters in the majority.” If the “ethnic armed groups” (i.e., proto states) can get their heads around the Franklin’s (apocryphal) statement that “We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately,” then Federalism in Myanmar might have a chance. Perhaps the Tatmadaw’s behavior is concentrating their minds.

A parallel govt emerges post-coup Bangkok Post. Overstated, but possibly; see above.

Too many fires for comfort (1):

Too many fires for comfort (2):

The fire next time?

Now do timber, rubies, and jade. More on the Chinese pipeline:

Myanmar ‘traitors’ hounded in online anti-coup campaign Channel News Asia

The Koreas

Vengeance is served with a jackhammer or death metal: South Koreans strike back at noisy neighbors LA Times

Airtel Africa Gets $100 Million Boost From Mastercard PYMNTS.COM


Biden Plans Afghanistan Train Wreck The American Conservative


‘Keep your kids indoors!’: Police plead with parents to control their children over four-day Easter break after clearing thousands of partying revellers from city centres and escorting drunk youngsters home during third night of booze-fuelled carnage Daily Mali

The collapse of Merkel’s pandemic-control machine is a warning to us all Globe and Mail

Values over vaccines? The story of COVID jab diplomacy in Eastern Europe Euronews

The EU’s Carbon Market Is About to Enter Its Turbulent 20s Bloomberg

New Cold War

Team Biden’s Russian Policy: Major Differences From Trump’s Strategy Valdai Discussion Club. This is very good.

Blinken to Germany: Stop Nord Stream II! Counterpunch


Meet the Russiagate Prober Who Couldn’t Verify Anything in the Steele Dossier Yet Said Nothing for Years RealClearInvestigations

Ex-CFTC chair joins Citadel Securities 27 days after leaving regulator FT

Biden Administration

White House moves to reshape role of US capitalism The HIll. About time.

Biden to review executive authority to cancel student debt NBC

Exclusive: House Democrats, NGOs Send Letters to Federal Reserve Pushing for More Specific Climate Action Morning Consult. So Morning Consult is a news-gathering organization….

The “Root Cause” of Central American Migration Is Broken U.S. Policies The New Republic (Re Silc: “I have seen this time and time again over my career, not even looking at history before me. USA USA wiped out small local farmers by dumping pl480 corn for decades. Supporting the right wing elites over land reformers for decades goes without saying.”

The Strange New Doctrine of the Republican Party David Frum, The Atlantic. Strangely parallel to the liberal Democrat embrace of censorship.

I’ve Been Sleeping With A Shovel Under The Bed Defector. In politics, AITA?

The Pandemic Is Undoing the World’s Populists Bloomberg

Democrats en Deshabille

Rahm Emanuel Headlines Event For Group Fighting $15 Minimum Wage Daily Poster

SF school board member Alison Collins sues district, colleagues over response to her tweets San Francisco. It’s almost like identity politics was designed to set people at each other’s throats. At this point, one remembers that “intersectionality” was devised by a lawyer

Is OBAMA now cancelled? Latino activists oppose Chicago suburb naming school after Barack and Michelle because ex-president was ‘the deporter-in-chief’ Daily Mail. Apparently, Obama destroying a generation of Black wealth with his foreclosure policies does not merit cancellation. It’s a funny old world….

Why we are concerned about Georgia’s new election law Brad Smith, Microsoft (dk).

A corporate reckoning on voter suppression Popular Information

Obama Legacy

Runaway American Dreams The Baffler

Opposing All Governments Equally Is Supporting The Most Powerful Government Caitlin Johnstone


New Gun Control Measure Would Put Firearms In Difficult-To-Open Hard Plastic Packaging The Onion

Black Injustice Tipping Point

Chauvin should have ended force against Floyd, after he was cuffed and on the ground, supervisor said NBC

A new lawsuit could change how Amazon does business with 3rd-party sellers forever Business Insider

Class Warfare

The British Monarchy Will Not Survive Late Capitalism — And Harry and Meghan Are Proof Jacobin

‘It smelled like pain and regret’: inside the world of competitive hot chilli eaters Guardian (Re Silc).

The Perishable Past Patrick Wyman

New Tool Strips Manipulative “Dark Patterns” From Mobile Apps IEEE Spectrum. On “dark patterns,” see NC here.

Institutional supercycles: an evolutionary macro-finance approach National Institute of Economic and Social Research. Sounds interesting:

We build upon the Minskyan concepts of ‘thwarting mechanisms’ and ‘supercycles’ to develop a framework for the analysis of the dynamic evolutionary interactions between macrofinancial, institutional and political processes. Thwarting mechanisms are institutional structures that aim to stabilise the macrofinancial system. The effectiveness of such structures changes over time, creating a secular cyclical pattern in capitalism: the supercycle. We develop a macrofinancial stability index and identify two supercycles in the postwar period, which we label the industrial and financial globalisation supercycle respectively…. sThe supercycles framework can be used to explain and anticipate macroeconomic, financial and thus political developments, and moves beyond conventional approaches in which such developments are treated as exogenous shocks.

Anticipate, eh?

Antidote du jour (via):

Bonus antidote:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. Miami Mitch

    “New Tool Strips Manipulative “Dark Patterns” From Mobile Apps”

    They mention in that article “disappearing tweets called ‘Fleets.'”. Wow, keeps you searching! Horrible! Yves or Lambert, were you not having this issue the other day with a Bernie tweet or something?

    I use twitter but have no account. I bookmark specific profiles, like @V2091N for covid stuff, this way the AI does not affect me.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I practically live on Twitter, and never did figure out how to create a Fleet. I never saw one, either. What a shame Twitter diverted all those developers from the Edit button project, already inordinately late.

      1. Anon

        Isn’t a Fleet basically the version of Instagram Stories? If you’re using it on a web browser, I don’t think you can create a Fleet or if you can, I’ve yet to see it. If you’re on mobile, the option appears near the top.

    1. Martin Oline

      I think you can file that under ‘Speak soft and carry a big stick’ but don’t hide the stick. Moon Over Alabama and RT have info.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        It’s a brigade. I would be astonished if it’s anything other than routine training. I’m most sure a brigade in its own country constitutes a stick.

        1. occasional anonymous

          I think it’s mostly routine training, but deliberately being done where it is to warn off Kiev. The Russian ‘military build up’ is coming after a build up by Kiev: Kiev also routinely subjects Donbass to artillery bombardment. They’ve been doing this regularly for seven years a decade, but hardly anyone reports on it because it doesn’t fit the ‘Russia as aggressor’ narrative:

          Ukraine is a dumpster fire of a country, and Zelensky has plummeting approval ratings. They’re showing plenty of signs of preparing for another big push on Donbass as a desperate attempt to rally the public, and Russia has made it very clear that if that does happen they will openly intervene and do what it did with Georgia in 2008, ie the Ukrainian military will effectively cease to exist.

          MOA can dismiss the idea of any overt Russian actions all it wants, but I think it’s pretty obvious that they are preparing for the possibility of responding to an offensive by Kiev.

    2. Jack White

      Ukraine in April, Afghanistan in May. 2020 Bingo continues. Biden’s foreign policy bites worse than his dog.

    3. The Rev Kev

      Saw this on the news tonight as if Russia was about to invade the Ukraine. The Ukraine has been shipping men and heavy weaponry to the east for some time now and in a comment I made about this a week or two ago, I included a clip showing a trainload of tanks heading there. Probably it was the Russians who leaked footage of men and material heading west to the border with those two Republics. The message is clear. They are telling the Ukraine and their handlers that you can start a war – but that we will finish it. Funniest aspect I found about this was Washington was complaining that Russian soldiers were moving from one part of Russia to, uhhhh, another part of Russia.

      1. John A

        Who would want what Ukraine has now become anyway? Crimea was the prize for the us navy. Fracking for Biden and Clinton.
        Eventually I suspect the whole country will split into parts reclaimed by Poland, Romania and Hungary, plus independence for the Donbass and a rump in west central Ukraine for the banderites to dress up in their SS gear. One hopes by then that Nord Stream II is finished and the old leaky pipe through Ukraine can be shut down.

        1. ex-PFC Chuck

          The fact Obama let himself be conned into thinking Russia would allow its navy to be kicked out of its Crimea naval bases was naive in the extreme. Access to the Mediterranean Sea had been a Russian strategic objective since the reign of Peter the Great at the turn into the 18th century. It was finally achieve under Catherine the Great at the time of the American Revolution.

    4. km

      I recall a few years ago, John Kerry having a meltdown over Russian military exercises in Russia. He even produced a satellite photo of a Russian military aircraft, painted in airshow colors.

      Nothing has changed but the names of the hysterics.

      Then as now, if Russia wished to, it would overrun Ukraine as fast as you can drive a tank to the Polish border, with plenty of time for snacks, selfies, and washing the tank.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        I remember videos of Russian tank columns rolling by trees with no discernible land marks, exclusive Ukranian variants of Soviet tanks being called Russian tanks near landmarks, and fairly indistinguishable artillery pieces in fields with no discernable land marks. Oh, and the chocolate oligarch, so you know he’s a swell guy, held up brand new passports “captured from Russian nationals”, ignoring Russians use their passports, so its unlikely the evidence would look like a brand new or unused passport. Since the Malaysians started asking questions, we’ve really heard very little about that plane. Oh well, pencils have erasers!

        Admittedly, one problem the German army had in WW2 was they couldn’t find anything in the Ukraine either.

    5. Lambert Strether Post author

      Well, if we’d kept our word and not shoved NATO up against the Russian border, as James Baker promised we would not do, we wouldn’t be having this self-created “problem,” now would we?

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        My memory is sketchy, but I think I remember that it was Clinton who broke Baker’s promise and did the shoving of NATO towards the Russian border. If I am wrong, I stand correctible of course.

        1. Procopius

          My memory of the time is pretty shaky, but I thought it was Clinton himself who promised Putin that NATO would not advance to the East. I don’t suppose it matters. It’s like Biden demanding Iran “return to full compliance with the JCPOA” before we talk with them about us returning to at least partial compliance, and, oh, by the way, we have some other Iranian existential national interests we want to talk about before we discuss removing those sanctions.

          1. Yves Smith

            No, no, no, no!!!! You have this as wrong as you could.

            It was George Schultz, Bush Senior’s Secretary of State, who promised this as part of the negotiation over the peaceful dissolution of the former USSR. The Russians took that as binding because that’s how the Russians treat promises of senior statesmen. But the US is not a country of its word.

            It was Clinton who decided to repudiate the deal in 1997, when Yeltin, the puppet we were keeping on life support, was President of Russia. Putin wasn’t president till 1999.

            None other than hard core Cold Warrior George Kennan said at the time that the US moving NATO into former Warsaw Pact countries would prove to be the worst geopolitical mistake the US ever made.

    6. Kouros

      Follows the initial Ukrainian build up as well as the Ukrainian declaration of War issued in March 23 or so via a presidential executive order that demands the retaking of Crimea, etc. form Russian occupation… Hard to find these mentioned in the MSM…

  2. The Rev Kev

    “Meet the Russiagate Prober Who Couldn’t Verify Anything in the Steele Dossier Yet Said Nothing for Years”

    Maybe he remembered what happened to Seth Rich.

    1. Montanamaven

      I think I’ve read almost every “Russia, Russia, Russia” story and everything by Aaron Mate etc and, still, this story is shocking. At least one FBI guy thought so too.

      “To think the Crossfire team signed off on those FISA affidavits knowing the contents were uncorroborated is unconscionable, immoral and also illegal,” Biasello added. “All of them must be prosecuted for perjury, fraud and other federal crimes.”

      Not holding my breathe.

      1. Mark Gisleson

        The only difference between this and the Congressional investigation of Watergate is that the Senate Judiciary committee met in secret and not on PBS.

        1. ambrit

          H—! Let’s go on back to the Warren Commission. No matter your views on that tragedy, the Warren commission ‘fails’ on too many fronts to be even partially believable.
          Before that were the “investigations” of the Pearl Harbour attack. Admiral Kimmel was ‘scapegoated’ to divert suspicion away from the White House and the War Department.
          The list of ‘official’ malfeasance is well nigh endless.

          1. amfortas the hippie

            i actually know kimmels nephew
            nutter on many fronts, but his giant closet wall of news clippings and congressional testimony mimeographs is certainly an eye opener
            i encountered it preintertubes and had never even heard of that controversy
            i was doing labor for him… odd jobs… and when i mentioned the closet he went on at length and with passion
            like the insult to his family had happened last week

            1. JBird4049

              The man did fail in his job, but since he was given incomplete intelligence among the other screw-ups, from the American military and government, saying he it is all his fault is just wrong.

              I think that it should have been General MacArthur who should have been court-martialed. Unlike those at Pearl Harbor, he was given some warning due to the attack there, and he botched the retreat to the Bataan Peninsula, mainly by not transporting all the stored supplies along with the army. Again, he had the time to move the supplies, or at least try, instead it was either destroyed or captured by the Japaneses. Then there are the airplanes left sitting in the open and IIRC the poor defenses at the beaches.

              Also, most Americans did not believe that Pearl Harbor would be attacked, but everyone believed that the Philippines would be.

              1. The Rev Kev

                Admiral Kimmel was the Navy’s scapegoat but don’t forget the Army’s scapegoat, General Walter Short. Both of them were hung out to dry.

          2. Procopius

            Well, the “intelligence” from the Japanese diplomatic code (Purple, IIRC) wasn’t all that specific. After the attack started it became clear. Kind of like the CIA briefer who warned W that “Bin Laden wants to conduct a major operation in the United States.” I feel he was taking his concerns to the wrong people. He should have been talking to management in The Company. After all, they were really the people allocating resources and assignments.

  3. Rod

    Why Animals Don’t Get Lost The New Yorker

    Fascinating reminder to appreciate the wonders not much thought of, yet so critical.

    I was surprised by this assertion, yet it makes sense to me(my bold):

    We do not know what other price we might pay for letting our navigational abilities atrophy; Bond goes too far beyond the current science when he ponders a relationship between diminished way-finding and Alzheimer’s.

    The last sentence is so appropriate and fraught:

    But the chief insight to be gleaned from how other animals make their way around the world is not about their behavior but about our own: the way-finding we must learn to do now is not geographic but moral. ♦

  4. Carolinian


    Ultimately, Trump’s impulsive team has been replaced by career bureaucrats. A single entity will emerge in the United States, which can be responsible for its words and fulfil agreements; no one inside the apparatus will sabotage them. The new administration will deter Russia in a more systematic way, but without senseless tensions and unilateral steps.

    Could it be those Russian PMCs are a bit too complacent about our own well trained variety? Time was the reign of the Best and the Brightest under Kennedy/Johnson and then Nixon/Kissinger brought forth monsters–at least in the rest of the world. The Blob may be “systematic” about its goals but some of us think those goals are quite mad, or at least contrary to the interests of most Americans. Trump’s seat of the pants approach did offer–at least during his original campaign–a more commonsense approach to foreign policy. The “professionals” systematically torpedoed this.

    1. Dftbs

      Yes. This seems like some wishful thinking on the part of a Russian analyst. Dismissing the evidence the US provided for the past decade, including the last time those “professionals” were in charge, in the futile hope that stability may be found.

      It is true the Biden administration will chart a more predictable path in its Russia policy, but it will be a headlong undeviating path towards aggression.

      The Russians would do best to ignore this reverse Kremlinology as there is plenty of actions, rather than symbolism, for them to judge.

    2. Zephyrum

      Sushentsov is a bit dry for an April 1st piece, but it was hard to read it any other way. The US will restrain allies from unnecessary provocations, but Biden has already engaged in same? If there is a rational Russian strategy buried in the Biden administration somewhere I will be most surprised.

      1. Judith

        Yes. I read the article as bitterly bemused: the only change on the part of the US will be one of style to “rationality.”

    3. Susan the other

      Valdai was a little vague. Or maybe just buttering us up. But they seem to believe Biden will control Israel – there must still be resentment on Biden’s part that Netanyahu addressed Congress without Obama’s permission – but if so, Biden is being cagey by reassuring Israel of US support. Would Biden have prevented Israel’s assassination of Iran’s top general? The most interesting thing Valdai observed was our intent to “contain” China and use Russia to facilitate it. Not sure how that’s gonna work out. But it was implied that we really don’t have a beef with Russia. That might be true; Ukraine might be mostly theater – nobody want’s it because it’s such a basket case. But China definitely looks to be under siege: both Taiwan and Myanmar at the same time. It has been casually mentioned in other stories that Myanmar is China’s access to the southern sea. Just like Taiwan is China’s access to the Pacific… and Afghanistan? It will be interesting to see how the coup in Myanmar turns out. Will it be hostile to China? Valdai is being too careful – they didn’t mention either one.

      1. Alex Cox

        The Valdai Club article shows how poorly the Russians understand the Americans, even at this late stage. It is a skein of optimism and fantasy. Its author fails to realise the bipartisan nature of US foreign policy. Most of what Trump did – the nuclear build-up, aggression against Chinese business competitors, creating a fake president of Venezuela, etc. – was Democrat policy, too.

        The author writes of Trump’s “only one significant foreign policy achievement” – normalization of Israeli and certain Middle Eastern states relationships – and has apparently forgotten withdrawal from the TPP, bringing the NATO alliance into disrepute, and not starting a brand-new war. There was no “unilateral withdrawal from NAFTA” – the treaty was scheduled for renegotiation, and it was renegotiated, on terms most favourable to the US.

        The author writes “the new administration will deter Russia… without senseless tensions”, but two paragraphs later contradicts this with a reference to Biden’s “provocative statement” which caused Russia to recall its ambassador. The so-called “lightning-fast extension of the New START deal” might have happened under Trump/Pompeo. Or it might not. We have no way of knowing.

        As to the “resumption of consistency and greater rationality” on the part of the Americans, check out the press release picture of Blinken on the runway at NATO, surrounded by his robocops, and tell me how much rationality you see there:

    4. Michael

      Say their names!

      “”President Biden himself and a number of the new cabinet ministers had already worked on Russia-related diplomacy during the Obama administration: Secretary of State Tony Blinken, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, CIA Head Bill Burns, Special Envoy for Climate John Kerry, Deputy Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and others. These people took part in both the development of a “reset” in relations with Russia, and during the crises in Libya and Ukraine, which led to the collapse of this reset.””

      The last thing I see in Putin and Lavrov is complacency. More like jungle behavior of a big cat. Xi too.

      As for the our best and brightest above, I think they are in for a rude awakening.

    5. Maxwell Johnston

      Nixon wasn’t so bad. He got out of Vietnam, reached out to China, and improved relations with the Soviets (detente, SALT, ABM treaty). Almost a peacenik by today’s standards. As for the Valdai article, this sentence towards the end is telling: “In the long term, the key goal of the United States is to include Russia in a system of relations that will deter China from eclipsing the US in the 21st century.” Many (but not all) of Russia’s elites still believe that the USA will eventually embrace Russia as a means to counter China. I think they are delusional. Not gonna happen.

      1. km

        Even if the United States did embrace Russia, what makes those Russian elites sure that the United States will not drop Russia like a hot turd, the moment the United States got what it wanted?

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Many (but not all) of Russia’s elites still believe that the USA will eventually embrace Russia as a means to counter China. I think they are delusional. Not gonna happen.

        It’s the rational thing to do. At some point, if we’re desperate enough, maybe somebody will figure it out.

        1. Maxwell Johnston

          I don’t think it will ever happen, but if it does: the Russians will drive a very hard bargain. And they’ll get it in writing this time.

            1. Maxwell Johnston

              True. But it’s better than an oral agreement, which isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.

              1. Procopius

                I dunno. The Iranians got a written agreement, after all. I don’t see any difference from an oral agreement. Biden and Blinken don’t seem to be in any hurry to restore the status quo ante. The U.S. broke their word. Why is Iran supposed to “return to full compliance” before we do? There’s other stuff you want to negotiate? Fine. Return to full compliance. It’s not “a position of weakness.” Right now it looks like Biden, or at least Blinken, is super-anxious to get Israel’s approval of our actions, and does not particularly want to restore the JCPOA.

      3. albrt

        Of course the US will embrace Russia as a means to counter China, as long as the Russians unilaterally demilitarize their western front and sell out their own oligarchs in favor of US oligarchs.

        If the Russians fall for this ploy, they deserve whatever they get.

  5. Mr Magoo

    Re: “SF school board member Alison Collins sues district, colleagues over response to her tweets”

    Collins was supposedly speaking out against racism directed towards black/brown students from
    Asian students. How is this in itself racist? Asians can’t behave in a manner? Instead of addressing or refuting Ms Collins points, it just gets labeled anti-Asian and discussion shut down.

    It becomes difficult to know what to believe. Any violence, either physical or verbal, directed at
    any person is wrong. But here, in the Bay Area, the level of coverage about the rise in anti-Asian
    hate crime is becoming unbearable. The local news segments just don’t stop. From live coverage
    of group counseling sessions, 13 year old activists, etc. I have yet to hear a word about the
    correlation is crimes in general, and how much of this rise is due to crimes of opportunity (like
    rolling old people who tend to carry cash). The only piece I have seen that looks at the data in
    a somewhat objective manner is this one that was on TheHill youtube channel:

    Zaid Jilani: Fact And Fiction On Anti-Asian Violence ->

    1. The Rev Kev

      After reading that bunch of tweets of hers in that article, it seems that she is soured that Asian-Americans do not think like her, have the same values that she does and that they do not hate Trump as much as they should. But only Asian-Americans mind. I think that she would be more comfortable with the person that wrote that article called ‘I’ve Been Sleeping With A Shovel Under The Bed” in today’s Links as a neighbour.

  6. steve

    Ezra Klein, NYT. “One problem is no one, on either side of this debate, really knows what will and won’t destroy public trust.”

    Translated: The problem is we don’t know how much sh*t we can feed them before they revolt.

    Ezra Klein, NYT. “Scientists and politicians are jointly managing public psychology, and they’re just guessing.”

    Translated: How can we manipulate the inputs to give us our desired output.

    Maybe just me, but manipulation and lies seems like an unlikely path to trust.

    1. ambrit

      I’ll counter and suggest that the desired outcome is not “trust” but “compliance.”

    2. Maritimer

      All that public and private $$$$ going into Behavioral Science which is then used against the population. These scientists express no concern about how their research is used, only that it get done. Gimme the grants!

  7. petal

    Can someone explain to me about the student loan forgiveness? So if a company like Nelnet holds one’s debt, would that still get wiped out or are you out of luck? I have about $575 left to pay from a starting amount of $30,000 when I graduated in 2000. I was good and dutifully paid my student loan payments every month but am now likely to be homeless at the end of June because I can’t afford a house downpayment(or rent around here). Just keep getting kicked in the teeth.

    1. Pelham

      Good point. Indeed, what about those who have paid off most or a substantial portion of their student loans? Moreover, what about everyone who avoided college who, as a class, are generally in dire financial straits?

      There’s a bigger argument here for widespread debt forgiveness. Meanwhile, I wish you the best finding a housing solution.

      1. Michael

        “”what about those who have paid off most or a substantial portion of their student loans?””

        My problem with the overall student loan debt mountain is some was legit and some predatory.
        Some got real benefits, others are worse off thru no fault of their own.

        The common theme where I think forgiveness would work is over interest paid or accrued and fees.
        If we are to claw back profits on predatory loans, whether the financial part or via the institutional empire building that necessitated looking the other way, all borrowers should receive a rebate.

        Interesting the rationale in the Amazon article over liability for 3rd party products and the platforms. Is a college or other institute liable for the financial fraud perpetrated on their platform?

        Judged by Obama era responses to housing fraud, it will be near impossible this time also.

  8. Geo

    “I’ve Been Sleeping With A Shovel Under The Bed”

    A lot to relate to in this piece. My Fox News listening neighbor is harmless (she can barely make it up her front stairs) but about two weeks ago a guy across the street was stabbed while I was out on the patio having my late morning coffee. And a few nights ago on a walk to the bodega I stopped and returned home because a dude was swinging a large machete around and yelling at the air.

    Between the escalating violence in the neighborhood and the daily barrage of Fox News ranting blaring from my hard-of-hearing neighbor’s apartment it’s hard not to have a bit of a fatalistic complex.

    On a funny note: my neighbor asked me why people are against the vaccine due to wild conspiracies of computer chips or DNA modifiers in them. She’s pro-vaxx because “Trump created them.” I explained how people distrust official narratives but unfortunately our brains like to find patterns in everything and that’s how conspiracy theories come to be. Used a few examples of pattern finding to help her grasp the idea like how people interpret abstract art, see bunnies in clouds, or see the face of Jesus in burnt toast. She got defensive and said, “well, that one is true.”

    I had to laugh at that response. Jesus is in her toast, Biden is a communist, and Antifa is responsible for the capital protest, but those anti-vaxxers are crazy!

    Good times!

    1. ambrit

      I hope you have a ‘bug out’ destination ready.
      You just described a neighborhood beginning to fall into lawlessness.
      We thought that our area was ‘bad,’ but that the “Golden West” is as bad as you describe is a bit of a shock. We are reminded of the adage that the West Coast is the leader in the changes that affect the Nation.

  9. The Rev Kev

    “Values over vaccines? The story of COVID jab diplomacy in Eastern Europe’

    No, it is not a matter of values over vaccines. We are in the middle of the worse pandemic in a century and over 10,000 people are dying each and every day. Some people may want to stay on their high horses and not take Russian or Chinese vaccines for ideological reasons but if they have absolutely nothing to offer their people in its place, then cool rationalism dictates that they buy those vaccines, even if it does cause them mild discomfort. What should we be doing to fight this pandemic? To quote Captain America – “Whatever it takes.” It is as simple as that. “Whatever it takes.”

  10. DJG, Reality Czar

    Yesterday: Michaelmas and IM Doc were already writing and synthesizing yesterday how conflicts of interest just keep turning up:

    And there’s this in today’s NYTimes:

    An Accidental Disclosure Exposes a $1 Billion Tax Fight With Bristol Myers
    By Jesse Drucker
    The I.R.S. believes the American drugmaker used an abusive offshore scheme to avoid federal taxes.

    The corruption is indeed endless, as they both pointed out.

  11. Carolinian

    Is the “New Urbanism” cracking up? Or just downsizing? People are fleeing Portland for Boise.

    In my little corner of Flyover you see new housing construction everywhere. Of course jobs are necessary when it comes to pulling up stakes but our new era of Zoom has shown that many of these office jobs can be done anywhere. And many of those moving here seem to be elderly or retired.

  12. Sutter Cane

    Biden to review executive authority to cancel student debt

    I dunno, would set a dangerous precedent by showing that the government could actually help people if we let it

    1. Parsival

      It is my understanding that banks lend money to students who may use some or all of it to go to school upon the GUARANTEE of the Federal Government since students are not credit-worthy being short of income. If Biden pays the lenders they should have nothing to complain about and student borrowers should be happy. At the present time the government owns tons of bad student loans from honoring its guarantees to banks holding defaulted student loans. Loans to students has always been a government program in substance, hence the guarantee, for it is a crime to lend money to borrowers who lack the apparent ability to repay. A loan not repaid is not a loan but a gift.

  13. semiconscious

    re: Young vs. old:

    ONS survey data out today- looking at the pandemic by age paints a heterogenous picture. We appear to be having two different pandemics- one accelerating among young children since schools re-opened, alongside declines in older age groups possibly due to vaccination/lockdown ?

    — Deepti Gurdasani (@dgurdasani1) April 1, 2021

    she goes on to say:

    Looking at the modelled ONS age data from England together, we see increases in both age 2 to year 6 (dark blue line) and secondary school children (orange line). Very recent trends are less clear, as is always the case with ONS data, so need to be interpreted with caution.

    In primary school age – infection rates in Scotland have doubled since schools opened on the 22nd Feb- representing a significant rise in positivity. Once again, these are modelled estimates, so more recent curves are less reliable. Suggests primaries are driving transmission.

    ‘the science’…

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I think it is the science. You have to understand which data is better.

      I think some have a tendency to think of scientific data as drawing bright lines, where evidence exists in the absence of interpretation. That’s certainly not true in every case.

      1. semiconscious

        oh, i completely agree. which’s why there’s a world of difference between saying ‘we appear to be having two different pandemics’ (as above) & ‘we’re having two different pandemics’, & why we must never allow ourselves to mistake the former for the latter. because it’s all in the details. which we owe it to ourselves to familiarize ourselves with before drawing any conclusions…

        because that, as you say, is ‘the science’…

  14. a different chris

    So from the Suez canal story:

    >Management is already advising its members how to “fix” their choke points

    I clicked on the link and found really stupid stuff. Basically “do the stuff that you deliberately don’t do because it costs you money”. Like telling a tiger to eat more veggies in case an an elk doesn’t happen by.


    We live in a world defined by short-termism. It may be irrational to allow a chokepoint like the Suez Canal to dictate your success or failure, but “the world can stay irrational longer than you can stay solvent” means that you have no choice.

    1. John A

      The US navy is always banging the drum for freedom of navigation close to China, the Sea of Azov, Arctic etc., but when freedom of navigation through the Suez Canal was blocked by a Taiwanese mega ship, the US did nothing. Surely they could have bombed the Ever Given to tiny fragments to uphold freedom of the waves and to give a warning sign to any ‘terrorist’ group thinking of blocking the canal again. Much more useful that vain chest pumping.

      1. Pelham

        Relatedly, I’d like an answer as to why it’s in the US interest to assert “freedom of navigation” in the South China Sea. Isn’t that in China’s interest, to keep their export engine running? What are the assets the US might be defending there? Is it just the general principle that we’re supposedly defending? There may a good answer; I just haven’t seen it yet.

        1. Kouros

          Some time ago I read an article on “War on the Rocks” where a US Admiral was spelling it out what Freedom of Navigation means and what is the role of the US Navy: freedom of navigation for me, possible blockade for thee…

  15. The Rev Kev

    “New Gun Control Measure Would Put Firearms In Difficult-To-Open Hard Plastic Packaging”

    Why stop there? Have each bullet sold in those difficult-to open plastic package as well. If you are prepared to sit down for half an hour with a knife and pair of scissors (and band-aids) to open up several packets of bullets to shoot someone, then you are serious. The police investigating afterwards and finding the cut open packets will say ‘Damn. He took the effort to open up half a dozen bullets. He must have really wanted to shoot that person!’

    1. ambrit

      Hah! I don’t know where all those projectiles are disappearing to, but we ‘gunnutters’ and ‘nutter adjacents’ cannot find any ammo ‘on the shelves’ of my local “Warmakers Bazaars.”
      The story put out is that the factories are churning ammo out at record rates and still cannot keep up with demand. That might be true after the record number of firearms purchased over the last several years.
      On a related note, the supply of firearms for sale is extremely low. Everything has been bought up. Prices are rising. A note on the zeitgeist in the ‘nutter’ sphere; in “the olde dayes” one could walk around a gun show floor and bargain. Now, the dealers are generally sticking to a “take it or leave it” stance. This tells me that it is now a massive sellers market in the “weapons of destruction” field.
      I look at this and have to conclude that generalized fear has become a predominant feature of our milieu. Somebody is buying all those guns and ammo.
      I hope that I’m not still around when ‘they’ begin using them in earnest.

  16. Katiebird

    That J&J story gets worse everyday. The “mixup” of ingredients was bad enough. But now, the plant has a history of filth and mold and general sloppiness

    Emergent BioSolutions, a little-known company vital to the vaccine supply chain, was a key to Johnson & Johnson’s plan to deliver 100 million doses of its single-shot vaccine to the United States by the end of May. But the Food and Drug Administration repeatedly has cited Emergent for problems such as poorly trained employees, cracked vials and problems managing mold and other contamination around one of its facilities, according to records obtained by The Associated Press through the Freedom of Information Act. The records cover inspections at Emergent facilities since 2017.

    Are we just supposed to shrug and accept these problems as acceptable? Are they acceptable? And what don’t we know about the production of the other vaccines?

    Is the lesson to wait a while to see what if anything we learn in the next few months?

    1. Elizabeth

      That’s what I certainly plan to do. There’s so much we don’t know about the vaccines, and my trust level is very low.

  17. temporal

    re: Why Animals Don’t Get Lost

    When I was growing up, my dad brought my sister and me to the “hills” (read mountains) of Montana pretty much every weekend. We were forced, by boredom, to explore places we had never been on a regular basis and, of course, find our way back.

    To this day so long as it’s daytime I have never been lost. A few times in the past – before cell phones – I have found places out in the boonies that I had never been when the directions were incorrect. My wife, who grew up in a small town but didn’t explore strange places very often, can’t find north from one day to the next.

    Not impressive by the standards of most of the other kinds of animals but a having a sense of direction is a useful learned skill none-the-less.

  18. petal

    I wonder how long Walensky’s actually going to last. Anyone think she might step down shortly?
    US health chiefs row back on boss’s bold claim that ‘vaccinated people do not carry the virus’ and say the ‘evidence isn’t clear’ – after official study reveals Pfizer and Moderna’s jabs stop 90% of infections
    “America’s top health agency has rowed back on a bold claim made by its director that ‘vaccinated people do not carry the virus’.

    Dr Rochelle Walensky, chief of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in a TV interview this week: ‘Vaccinated people do not carry the virus, don’t get sick, and that is not just in the clinical trials but it’s also in real world data.’

    The CDC has now distanced itself from her claim, issuing a statement saying that ‘the evidence isn’t clear’ and its director was ‘speaking broadly’.”

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      I believe well-performed mendacity is job requirement at higher levels of management and official office. I am mystified why it is so difficult to test whether vaccinated people ‘carry’ the virus [as I nurse a case of shingles I can easily suspect everyone who got the virus continues to carry it]. I think ‘carry’ should be read as an abbreviation for ‘can still infect others with’.

      I believe the duration of Walensky is a matter of whether how expedient it might be to sacrifice her to some brouhaha.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > The CDC has now distanced itself from her claim, issuing a statement saying that ‘the evidence isn’t clear’ and its director was ‘speaking broadly’.”

      Yes, see my extensive discussion of this very point. It’s the first link in the Covid section.

      Pretty soon stuff like this won’t be shocking.

  19. Jason Boxman

    “One problem is no one, on either side of this debate, really knows what will and won’t destroy public trust.”

    Liberal Democrats: “Hold my beer!”

  20. flora

    Thanks for the link. The refusal of journals and WHO to even consider these reports that counter their official narrative is very troubling. Science is about skepticism, aka hard headed realism in evaluating data imo, without fear or favor. The official narrative allows no skepticism about their narrative or preferred data. Even simple things like sufficient vit D levels are ignored.

  21. Susan the other

    Counterpunch. Blinken to Germany to Stop Nordstream. Interesting piece. Capitalism has a new frame: it’s either democratic or autocratic. Hmmm… which is the United States? The most logical thing on the planet is for Germany to buy oil from Russia. And we make it look like a betrayal of capitalism. Or we tried and the answer was that two capitalist countries were engaging in free trade for oil. So we switched the narrative and now Germany is betraying democratic capitalism. OK. Whatever. And suddenly NATO has become the bulwark of democracy. We are agitating in Ukraine. If Russia gets distracted we’ll seize the opportunity to sabotage Nordstream II? Sounds like a plan to me. In the meantime will someone please define the term “democratic capitalism?” Does it support the old Russian claim that ‘You are free to starve to death in America.’ After all, starving to death; having no living wage; dying of an illness that is easily treated; living rough – those are all choices, right? So that’s democracy! Democracy!

    1. skippy

      Freedom and Democracy is a bit of an oxymoron when one reconciles the Neoliberal Free Market hatred of Democracy. So I guess one has to consider what is the actual meaning of the Bernays phrase in this context.

  22. Susan the other

    Democrats and NGOs are asking the Fed to mitigate financial instability caused by climate change. They are, essentially, giving the Fed a mandate to do so and the Republicans are apoplectic. They are demanding that the Fed stick to its almost useless mandate of price control and “full” employment. Not even the hard right Republicans are that dumb. They are just masters of obvious disingenuousness. They know full well that if the Fed can mitigate financial instability due to climate change it can also mitigate social instability due to climate change or anything else, and provide the necessary money to fix it all because it all dovetails. The Fed is the perfect authority in this country because finance is the great dictator. It has been a feature not a bug. So the Republicans have already lost the argument. By their own half-clever hand.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      My first reaction to the link: “…Letters to Federal Reserve Pushing for … Climate Action” — was to skip over it as unreal, but your comment drove me to take a look at that link. Looking over the link and both letters it references … apparently the Fed used a fair chunk of the CARES Act money to provide a little ‘deus ex machina’ for the fossil fuel sector and the banks that helped fund their ‘unwise’ investments, including fracking I suppose. Now et al. and twenty-five members of Congress including AOC are petitioning the Fed to support “bank investment aimed at limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C, with a particular emphasis on lending to low-income communities and communities of color.”

      The CARES Act funded the Fed supporting it as a defacto branch of government — a branch even our Honorable Congressmen petition. Now that the fossil fuels sector has received benefit of the Fed largess the Big Money behind the Green New Deal wants their cut of the Fed money and to emphasize their woken bona fides they most touchingly want to make sure some of the money goes to low-income communities and communities of color. All of this marvel is reported by a company that “has revolutionized market research and financial data with its unprecedented scale and speed.” And I cannot repress the dismay I feel every time I read the name That organization has been so effective at achieving its stated goals, I believe it is past time to change its name to

  23. chuck roast

    The dolphins and the whale watchers: the dolphins know what is going on. The whale watchers will lead them to a whale that might be noshing. When whales eat the crumbs they leave are a feast for all the critters.

    1. juno mas

      The video of the dolphin super-pod is impressive, but this specie of dolphin do not seek out Grey whales (currently migrating north to Alaska) for scraps. The super-pod of dolphins would be proficient at encircling any school of fish and having a buffet meal near their coastal habitat.

  24. Maritimer

    Thanks for the tip. If any billionsaires come through my neighborhood, I will be following them.

  25. occasional anonymous

    >The British Monarchy Will Not Survive Late Capitalism — And Harry and Meghan Are Proof Jacobin

    That’s a damn shame.

  26. drumlin woodchuckles

    So Gates “convinced” Oxford University to sell its patent to its covid vaccine based on a “lie” which Oxford just “naively believed”?

    Oxford has the experts and the expertise to decide for itself whether Third World countries can make a vaccine. I don’t think Oxford would feel any need to take Gates’s word for anything.

    I suspect the reality is nastier. Gates is powerful and has powerful friends. He probably told Oxford the equivalent of ” Nice little University you got there. Too bad if something was to happen to it.” And probably told Oxford to expect someone to visit with some money and a contract for the patent and the rights. And that someone would either leave with Oxford’s signature or Oxford’s brains on that contract.

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