Links 5/10/2021

Scientists Have Studied the Mysterious Behavior of Cats Sitting on Squares Vice (JD).

Bunny, the dog that can “talk,” starts asking existential questions Salon (DL).

Kentucky Derby winner under scrutiny after positive post-race test Racing Post (Re Silc).

How America Became the Money Laundering Capital of the World The New Republic.

“The threat of a prison sentence is much more persuasive than the threat of a large money penalty,” Jim Richards, a former anti–money laundering director at Wells Fargo and other big banks who now runs Regtech Consulting, told me. “It’s pretty simple: Anything that can be fixed with money isn’t a problem to a large bank, it’s simply an expense.”

“The Truth Turns Out to Be Ugly”: How Paul, Weiss Tried to Thwart Reporting on The Caesars Palace Collapse Vanity Fair

Jonathan P. Baird: Chevron’s kill shot against Attorney Steven Donziger Concord Monitor. From April, still germane.

Regional emergency declaration issued over pipeline shut down after cyberattack The Hill

#COVID19

Free beer offer results in more vaccinations than all Erie County first-dose clinics last week Buffalo News. Stop moralizing and do what works.

‘Dracula’s Castle’ in Transylvania lures visitors with promise of free Covid-19 vaccine iNews

At nursing homes, fears of a viral rebound as workers decline COVID-19 vaccine and new residents struggle to get shots Boston Globe

“The Mark of the Beast”: Georgian Britain’s Anti-Vaxxer Movement Public Domain Review

* * *

Fauci says indoor mask guidance should ‘start being more liberal.’ NYT (KW).

Fauci: ‘Unlikely’ US will see COVID-19 surge in fall, winter The Hill.

* * *

Vascular alterations among young adults with SARS-CoV-2 American Journal of Physiology. From January, still germane. “Using a cross-sectional design, this study assessed vascular function 3–4 wk after young adults tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. The main findings from this study were a strikingly lower vascular function and a higher arterial stiffness compared with healthy controls. Together, these results suggest rampant vascular effects seen weeks after contracting SARS-CoV-2 in young adults.”

66 Studies found for: Ivermectin | Covid19 ClinicalTrials.gov (pq). I count five in the United States (though not all studies have the location field filled in).

* * *

A New Wave of Vaccines Is Coming, and They’re Not All Also-Rans Bloomberg. CureVac, Novavax, Glaxo + Sanofi, Valneva SE, and Altimmune Inc. Interesting round-up.

‘The vaccine changed my life’: Yale study to examine effects on COVID long-haulers New Haven Register

How SARS-CoV-2 first adapted in humans Science

How science has been corrupted Unherd

China?

China healthcare shares surge after COVID-19 vaccine patent waiver plan meets EU resistance Channel News Asia]

Chinese jabs dominate Latin American vaccination campaigns FT

Unused Shots Pile Up as Mistrust Mars Hong Kong Vaccinations Bloomberg

Fosun Pharma to provide factory with annual capacity of 1 bln doses of BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine Reuters. Oh.

Myanmar

Myanmar counts cost of coup, 100 days on Agence France Presse. 100 days is rather a long time for coup leadership not to be firmly in the saddle, especially a military as dominant as the Tatmadaw.

Myanmar’s journalists regroup on the run from the junta FT

Myanmar poet Khet Thi who died in detention had ‘organs removed’, wife says South China Morning Post

The Role of Critical Minerals in Clean Energy Transitions (PDF) IEA

India

Panic in AMU as 18 professors die of Covid in 20 days, V-C wants campus samples probed The Print

A Report Card on the End Times Brought Upon Us by Hindutva The Wire

India’s biggest steelmaker slashes output as oxygen shortage bites FT

Cipla inks licencing agreement with Eli Lilly for Covid drug Baricitinib Times of India. FDA-authorized with remdesivir; study.

India, Indonesia benefit as China’s ban on Australian coal reshapes trade flows Hellenic Shipping News

Syraqistan

The one that gets away: Joe Biden’s jaded romance with Iran Politico

China holds US responsible for Afghanistan schoolgirl deaths South China Morning Post

UK/EU

UK Labour leader Keir Starmer reshuffles top team Politico. I went to bed, and Angela Rayner had been sacked. I woke up, and she had four (4) new job titles. Here they are (Rayner is first):

… and Rightful Heir to the Iron Throne. Commentary:

Scotland has voted for a second independence referendum, says Nicola Sturgeon Holyrood

Revealed: The UK’s largest intelligence agency is a significant emitter of greenhouse gases Declassified UK. The headline doesn’t match the story, whose point is that GCHQ does an awful lot of air travel for an organization that supposedly has no bases abroad.

Bayer Loses Fight Over Chemicals EU Blamed for Killing Bees Bloomberg

Chávez’s Excesses Venezuelanalysis

New Cold War

Where Ukrainians Are Preparing for All-Out War With Russia NYT

Biden Administration

Why Joe Biden Punched Big Pharma in the Nose Over Covid Vaccines Matt Stoller, BIG. “The people in charge of money and guns took the progressive position, because the progressive position was a way to counter Russian and Chinese vaccine diplomacy, and to keep the economy free from a renewed pandemic threat.” So where’s the PR campaign from the Biden administration? From this humble blogger’s perspective, the vaccine waiver story is yet another story that vanished as soon as Biden said he’d do something about it.

Gates Foundation reverses position on COVID vaccine patent protections after mounting pressure GeekWire. I would bet this is a sign the WTO effort will go nowhere.

The U.S. Is Playing Catch-Up at Vaccine Diplomacy New York Magazine. All that AZ still sitting in inventory? Joe? Joe? Joe?

* * *

Democrats hit crucial stretch as filibuster fight looms The Hill

With civil rights charges, Justice Dept. signals priorities AP

Bernie Sanders opposes push to reinstate SALT deduction Axios

America Is Becoming a Social Democracy Foreign Policy. They may actually believe this.

Pushback stalls tribal sovereignty proposal Indian Country

Republican Funhouse

The making of a myth WaPo.

At meetings beginning late in 2018, as Republicans were smarting from midterm losses in Texas and across the country, Russell J. Ramsland Jr. and his associates delivered alarming presentations on electronic voting to a procession of conservative lawmakers, activists and donors.

Ramsland, a failed congressional candidate with a Harvard MBA, pitched a claim that seemed rooted in evidence: Voting-machine audit logs — lines of codes and time stamps that document the machines’ activities — contained indications of vote manipulation.

WaPo on Trump, so take with a dose of salts. That said, it’s always entertaining to watch particularly seamy political operatives in action; we’ve had too little of that with Axelrove out of action. And that said, the way Republicans have fastened upon a real problem — that electronic ballot marking devices are inherently not auditable — and so polluted the careful work of voting machine activists over many years with stupid arguments, idiotic claims, and yarn diagrams really makes me pound my head on my desk so that I don’t focus on the pain that grinding my teeth is causing me. People ought to be “alarmed” about electronic voting. So why, oh why, don’t the Republicans sue to see source code for the devices? Why are we focusing on bamboo shreds in ballot paper?

Trump’s Big Lie Devoured the G.O.P. and Now Eyes Our Democracy Thomas Friedman, NYT. Ol’ Dean wheeling out the big guns, I see.

Police State Watch

Border Police Wants a Bite of Burgeoning Anti-Drone Industry The Intercept

L’Affaire Joffrey Epstein

Melinda Gates met with divorce lawyers in 2019 amid Epstein revelations Axios

Gunz

Armed Doesn’t Mean Dangerous WaPo. The deck: “Black gun owners are often portrayed negatively. One photographer set out to change that.” Have I mentioned woke hegemony in the PMC?

Class Warfare

CEO dismissed working from home. Her employees went on strike CBS. CEO was editor of the Washingtonian.

Clever tactic:

We have housed them far away from where we can see them Welcome to Hell World. Our normalization strategy. Scroll to “She walked out of a crashing plane into the air and pulled the parachute.”

Antidote du jour (via):

And a 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.

139 comments

  1. Paradan

    Money Laundering…

    ok, time for me to try and sound all highfalutin and stuff:

    “If the penalty does not exceed the profit, then a fine has not been levied, but a bribe paid.”

    had that one floating around in head for a bit, seem liked a good time to let it out.

    1. Robert Hahl

      But if the money just disappears into the aether like federal tax money, then it is not a bribe since no one benefits personally. It’s more like a burnt offering to the gods.

      1. FriarTuck

        Oh, it’s a bribe alright.

        Not a money bribe, per se, where the official in question gains money in exchange for misconduct, but a reputational bribe, where the official, usually in enforcement, gets to gird their CV with professional action.

        I hope it’s okay if I steal this phrase.

        1. JTMcPhee

          When I did enforcement work for the US EPA, this phenomenon was rampant. Whether it was civil or criminal penalties for exceeding discharge or emission limitations, or failing to install mandated pollution control equipment, or lying about risks of new chemicals, or failing to have a “spill prevent, control and countermeasures plan” and associated containment in place, or “settlements” under consent decrees governing Superfund cleanups, the people at the top of the enforcement tree would blast out press releases and press availability sessions bragging about “the biggest SPCC civil penalty EVAH!!” Or “the largest Superfund cost recovery EVAH!!”

          Copies of the checks cut by the malefactors to pay over money to the government (in amounts that were, as noted, just a little cost of doing business) would get taped up to walls in government cubicles and offices and, as noted, would evolve into claims in resumes sent out to those malefactor corporations and the law firms that represented them as a “turncoat index” and proof that the sender understood the system well enough to know how to manipulate it for the benefit of a corporate monstrosity.

          All the incentives and interests are polarized in the direction of Crapification.

    2. IMOR

      Seems that 300 people allocated, e.g., 100 attorneys, 100 forensic accountants and other financial tracking specialists, and 100 support staff (or some similar breakdown) would be enough for FinCEN, given that Treasury, FBI, and State resources/expertise are also available as supplements – IF the potential results were prison terms and large corrupt banks anx firms put out of business. The smug parasite formerly of Wells quoted in the article had that part right- though you can be sure his work at Wells consisted of concealment as much as detection.

    3. Maritimer

      A concept related to this is the Lemon Equation. That is, a product defect within a corporation when found is analysed in this way:

      If the cost of fixing it is greater than the losses to be paid out in lawsuits/settlements, then do not fix the problem until forced to do so.
      If the cost is less, then fix the problem.

      Read this about thirty years ago in a respected business journal at a major university! One reason I chose to get outa Dodge.

      I have observed the above in practice many, many times. The Dollars analysis of harming/killing people or other doing harm such as environmental.

  2. a different chris

    The Colonial Pipeline story just got way more interesting, although the MSM is insistent on trying to frame it otherwise.

    AP story – apparently the group is called Darkside “that cultivates [note the non-neutral language] a Robin Hood image of stealing from corporations and giving a cut [another loaded phrase, did you just flash on an image of Al Capone? The MSM hopes so] to charity”.

    Ooops… charity you say? I guess you had to. Further (I’m okay with the “claims” here, as there is gonna be no way to substantiate it):

    “DarkSide claims it does not attack medical, educational or government targets — only large corporations and it donates a portion of its take to charity”

    1. Mao "No Landlords Now" Zedong

      I liked how in the link yesterday the article sinisterly intimated a R*ssian connexion because they apparently target non-former Soviet states.

      1. chuck roast

        More like Stalin, who built his rep and influence as a bank robber. Al tithed to the church, Stalin tithed to the Bolshies.

    2. Wukchumni

      Chicago shivered through a particularly bleak November in 1930. As the U.S. economy plummeted into the Great Depression, thousands of the Windy City’s jobless huddled three times a day in a long line snaking away from a newly opened soup kitchen. With cold hands stuffed into overcoat pockets as empty as their stomachs, the needy shuffled toward the big banner that declared “Free Soup Coffee & Doughnuts for the Unemployed.”

      The kind-hearted philanthropist who had come to their aid was none other than “Public Enemy Number One,” Al Capone.

      https://www.history.com/news/al-capone-great-depression-soup-kitchen

      1. John Anthony La Pietra

        Thanks! And let’s not forget Pretty Boy Floyd, per Woody Guthrie:

        “Now, you say that I’m an outlaw
        And you say that I’m a thief —
        Well, here’s some Christmas dinner
        For the families on relief. . . .”

  3. John Siman

    It’s worth noting that Official State Media are already, à la Maddow, crying RUSSIA RUSSIA RUSSIA over the shutdown of the Colonial pipeline. Here’s the latest from NBC and CNN:

    NBC: Russian criminal group suspected in Colonial pipeline ransomware attack

    “… Although Russian hackers often freelance for the Kremlin, early indications suggest that this was a criminal scheme — not an attack by a nation-state — the sources said.

    “But the fact that Colonial had to shut down the country’s largest gasoline pipeline underscores just how vulnerable the U.S. cyber infrastructure is to criminals and national adversaries, such as Russia, China and Iran, experts say.

    “‘This could be the most impactful ransomware attack in history, a cyber disaster turning into a real-world catastrophe,’ said Andrew Rubin, CEO and co-founder of Illumio, a cybersecurity company.”…

    https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/national-security/russian-criminal-group-may-be-responsible-colonial-pipeline-ransomware-attack-n1266793

    CNNPolitics: Colonial pipeline: Cyberattack forces major US fuel pipeline to shut down

    “…Cybersecurity has been a major focus following two alarming incidents — the SolarWinds intrusion campaign by alleged Russian hackers that compromised nine US agencies and dozens of private organizations, and the Chinese-linked hack of Microsoft Exchange server vulnerabilities that exposed tens of thousands of systems worldwide — as well as a high-profile, though unsuccessful, cyberattack in Florida earlier this year that sought to compromise a water treatment plant.

    “Ransomware attacks have worsened over the years, with recent targets as varied as state and local governments, hospitals and police departments. The cyber attacks involve a type of malicious software that locks up a victim’s computer and renders it unusable until the victim pays off the attacker, frequently in Bitcoin.”…

    https://www.cnn.com/2021/05/08/politics/colonial-pipeline-cybersecurity-attack/index.html

    1. a different chris

      This isn’t the link I was quoting from (interestingly the PG online doesn’t have the same story as the “hardish” copy) but close enough:

      https://www.cnbc.com/2021/05/10/hacking-group-darkside-reportedly-responsible-for-colonial-pipeline-shutdown.html

      But yeah, it’s gotta be a “criminal” mindset to shut down a pipeline. What else could it be? And of course all sophisticated (aka not “blah” people) criminals are in Russia.

      Ah, well. I don’t really support this, and I certainly wouldn’t have if it was mid-winter and somebody poor froze to death. But I’m somehow not getting as worked up about it as the MSM hopes, either.

    2. Carolinian

      The Russia accusations merely distract from the real story which is that our large institutions are incompetent when it comes to cyber security. The hack could have just as easily have been committed by some kid sitting in his basement as in the long ago movie War Games where a teenager hacks into the Pentagon and almost starts WW3.

      In my town the library computers were down for several weeks after a ransom attack. The ultimate cause was rumored to be a staff member clicking on a piece of email malware. It’s a mystery why systems people can’t do better at sandboxing vital functions from the internet although this may have been more difficult with the pipeline where much of it is run by remote control from Atlanta. It is hundreds of miles long.

      1. Roger

        I used to be an IT executive in a large bank. The problem is the trade-off between business flexibility and security, in many cases more security would mean less business flexibility and less revenues. As one business person put it “if being completely secure means that we lose competitiveness and then revenues then we have to accept the IT risk as a cost of doing business”. Also, a lot of the required gear and software can be very expensive, with no obvious benefit to revenues identified. North American companies are very next quarter earnings focused.

        1. Carolinian

          So it’s like those credit card companies who see fraud as a cost of doing business? Or like Walmart now trusting their customers to self checkout at dozens of terminals in order to cut down on paid cashiers (and presumably on long lines as well, to be sure)?

          That said when my library went down it was a mere inconvenience whereas if they don’t fix Colonial it will be a national disaster. Perhaps government also needs to step up and btw isn’t the NSA also charged with protecting the country from cyber intrusion and not just inventing hacks to do the same to others?

    3. Glen

      Not sure about the Russia connection since they never seem to back up these claims with evidence, but I can tell you that the IT people that maintain internal network security at many corporations have been getting laid off for years, and their work shipped overseas.

      And most corporate managers seem to have a poor understanding of automation or security of such technology. If I try to discuss cyber security for PLCs or HMIs or SCADA, most of the managers I work with have no idea what you’re talking about:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SCADA

      We had one senior manager that just decided the factory automation group didn’t need software people and he tried to get rid of them all, but in fairness, he was trying to get rid of all the senior engineering staff because they might get paid half of what he does and were too expensive.

  4. cocomaan

    I was reading one of the clinical trial from Bangladesh about ivermectin. I’m no good at reading the clinical trial data but there’s plenty of data already coming in. https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/results/NCT04523831?term=Ivermectin&cond=Covid19&draw=2&rank=2

    It drives me nuts that the only acceptable therapeutic is these vaccines. We have hundreds of years of research into various chemicals, how can the idea persist that none of them work except for new fangled tech?

    Let’s say I’m hospitalized with Covid. At this point, can I request ivermectin, or have a loved one do that? It’s not standard of care, but can I ask for it anyway? Guess it depends on the doctor.

    1. Fireship

      “Guess it depends on the doctor.”

      C’mon, man. It depends on your wallet. A reading from the Gospel of St. Jackie of Cogan:

      “This guy wants to tell me we’re living in a community? Don’t make me laugh! I’m livin’ in America, and in America you’re on your own. America’s not a country, it’s just a business… now f-ckin’ pay me!”

      1. JTMcPhee

        As a lawyer in Chicago long ago, I often heard, in the notoriously corrupt Cook County Circuit Courts, the excuse for one continuance and delay after another — the “absence of Attorney Green.”

        I guess there are a lot of “Dr. Greens” these days, along with all the other similarly tinged professional nomenklatura…

        “Blest paper-credit! last and best supply! That lends corruption lighter wings to fly.” For those who might not have come across Alexander Pope and his acute observations on human nature, here’s a link to the “Epistle” from which that snippet comes, and I’d defy any Pangloss to show any error in his recitation:

        “Moral Essays — Epistle III. Of the Use of Riches
        To Allen, Lord Bathurst”
        https://www.bartleby.com/203/145.html

        Wonder how long before stuff like this will go into the memory hole.

    2. Screwball

      I have read about a couple of instances where the patient (or their family) were refused the drug, so they got a court order to overturn it.

      I would like to take this opportunity to thank Naked Capitalism for being one of the only places who even talk about this drug, and also as one of the very first to report on it. Allowing this conversation also brought us the fine commentary by IM Doc, who I am also grateful.

      Thank you all – it is more than a public service – you might have saved lives as well. I don’t know what this drug may do going forward – but there should at least be a conversation about the potential results.

      Bravo!

    3. Carla

      @cocomaan: Well, one woman’s family had to get a court order to have her treated with ivermectin, and then no doctor or nurse at the hospital would agree to administer it. If you want a prescription for ivermectin to take prophylactically, here’s a list of U.S. docs that will prescribe:

      https://covid19criticalcare.com/ivermectin-in-covid-19/how-to-get-ivermectin/

      If you’re in the hospital, on a ventilator, and dying, I guess your family can try to get a court order.

      1. John Beech

        That’s a rather nice link, Carla, I hope Lambert picks it up and shares it more widely.

      2. WobblyTelomeres

        I know one can find it at Tractor Supply in the U.S. I wonder if Canadian Tire carries it?

      3. ddt

        It ain’t cheap. I emailed a couple doctors, got one response to fill in a questionnaire. $249 for telehealth call and prescription and $199 for up to 3 additional family members.

        But at least it’s there and available.

      4. jonboinAR

        I know folks who keep Ivermectin for animals around in case they get exposed to the CV. That way, at least, they can take it early. Hard to believe that in this country people feel they have to resort to desperation measures like that in order to feel safe. Sadly, of course, it isn’t hard to believe. Thanks for the good info, Carla!

    4. Samuel Conner

      Lately, I’m seeing lot of advertisements for heartworm medication for dogs.

      I don’t have pets, but I suspect that my PC is aware of my browsing and search habits.

      I wonder if the advertisement-selection algorithm is nudging me toward “off label” uses.

  5. Henry Moon Pie

    Nice strike tactic by those Japanese bus drivers, but it would not be protected concerted action under the Wagner Act going all the back to the Fansteel case in which the Supreme Court ruled that sit down strikes amounted to a seizure of the employer’s property and were therefore unprotected.

    This is a nice synopsis of the history of sit down strikes in the 30s with a lead-in to the Fansteel case. This is another summary of the Supreme Court’s role in eviscerating the Wagner Act.

    Essentially, a union’s only option is for workers to withhold their labor entirely, going without pay. This, combined with the Supreme Court’s ruling on replacement workers (i.e. scabs), gave the employers the advantage from the earliest days of the Act.

    1. Tom Stone

      Henry, having health insurance linked to your job in the Good Ole USA is not a coincidence…
      Nor are the laws that lead to mass disenfranchisment and mass incarceration.

      1. John Zelnicker

        @Tom Stone
        May 10, 2021 at 9:23 am
        ——-

        The origins of employer sponsored health insurance go back to WWII, when there were wage and price controls to prevent inflation while the economy was at full employment. Since employers were restricted as to how much they could raise wages, they started offering health insurance as benefit instead of raises, the insurance not being subject to the wage and price controls.

        Once the war ended, that continued as it was a good way to tie employees to the company.

        1. Wukchumni

          My mom gave me her checkbook register from mid 1961 to mid 1962, and there was a number of checks totaling $88 written to Dr Evers-our family physician, and I asked my mom if we had health insurance at the time, and she told me aside from those enrolled in the Kaiser plan, NOBODY had health insurance 60 years ago.

          1. LifelongLib

            There were other HMOs at the time. My family was enrolled in Group Health in Seattle by the mid 60s. Our doctor told me he wasn’t allowed to join the AMA because it thought HMOs were socialistic.

  6. Fireship

    > America Is Becoming a Social Democracy Foreign Policy.

    😂 No. It is becoming a Brazil with nukes, including the deluded thinking. This was the kind of magical thinking endemic in S America that Gabriel Garcia Marquez used to parody. From the Welcome to Hell World link:

    “In reality, I think she got the drug because it was expensive and my family decided we could afford it. That was the equation.”

    The next stage of a culture based on greed and hustling is not social democracy; it is death.

    1. Cocomaan

      Remember when Obama got the peace prize based on rhetoric? Biden is the social democracy president based on rhetoric alone.

      It makes me laugh that there’s all these pieces penned about how the Biden administration is doing X and Y, while forgetting that none of his proposed legislation has passed, outside of the American Rescue Plan, nor is likely to pass given that 2022 elections aren’t far away.

      And the American Rescue Plan, or some form of it, would have passed under Trump.

      Biden hasn’t done anything, these pieces are just based on what he would do in the best of all possible worlds. Biden is Dr Pangloss.

      1. chuck roast

        I just got the latest NYRB. I began an article about Biden’s foreign policy entitled Losing No Time. After the first para. I thought, “Who is this woman.” Back to Contributors on p. 3. Jessica T. Mathews is described thusly: “was President of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace from 1997 until 2015 and is now a Distinguished Fellow there. She has served in the State Department and on the National Security Council staff in the White House.” I would link, but it’s behind a paywall. I’ll read the rest later and hope that my head will not explode.

      2. Oh

        This grifter learned from the best while he was VP. He’s just another liar and con man not an optimist!

    2. Astrid

      Please don’t insult Brazil in that manner. Brazil had Lula, Dilma, and a real left capable of winning national office. The US has a bunch of gun nuts, electronic voting machines, and pronoun warriors.

      1. Fireship

        It also has police death squads, preferential treatment for rich people, rampant inequality, poor environmental protection, a culture of violent machismo…. wait, who am I describing? Apologies, Astrid, you are so right!

  7. Samuel Conner

    > pound my head on my desk so that I don’t focus on the pain that grinding my teeth is causing me

    I suggest an implant for electrical stimulation to your pain centers, activated with a button. There’s no up-side to damaging your physical embodiment as you ‘dose’ yourself.

    The higher-tech version, that produces pain contactlessly, via EM fields, is probaby reserved for intelligence agency use, though it’s not hard to imagine widespread future applications in the education system.

  8. Wukchumni

    “The Mark of the Beast”: Georgian Britain’s Anti-Vaxxer Movement Public Domain Review
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    We had a work weekend get together in our cabin community in High Sierra, and I was curious as to what the evangelical christian component had done regarding Covid vaccinations, and as usual they didn’t disappoint me, in that the 4 holy roller cabin owners who were there, all told me they weren’t interested in getting ‘r done, although none of them specifically mentioned the mark of the beast, which I think they only talk about with others of their ilk.

    You kind of wonder what would make them get religion?

    1. Watt4Bob

      You kind of wonder what would make them get religion?

      Listened to a very interesting story on NPR last week, long story, short, a group of stubborn anti-vaxers was influenced to soften their stance when Chris Christie told his story of catching Covid in the White House, which included the fact that a couple people related to WH staff died of Covid brought home from the WH.

      IIRC, they were surprised by the fact that these people actually died.

      All this after three failed focus group attempts to find a way to influence those with anti-vax attitudes.

      I imagine that having a spouse die a horrible death on a ventilator would do the trick too.

    2. Samuel Conner

      I think that James Stewart Russell’s The Parousia can be a useful counter to present-day obsession with the book of Revelation and the fearsome “mark of the beast.” Its many references to the author’s contemporaries makes it quite dated, but the basic argument has IMO held up quite well.

      It takes a somewhat open mind to grasp, and there is some danger that if the reader is deeply committed to the Dispensational approach to interpreting the New Testament, his head may explode.

    3. lyman alpha blob

      Nothing.

      Very Catholic friends of ours hate wearing masks and would travel to another state to go to church unmasked. After over a year of this behavior, they recently found out their whole family has the rona. One lost smell for a few days, others say it feels like allergies. No one hospitalized. Basically just a bad cold since they are a very athletic and healthy family.

      Some people just aren’t as frightened of this virus as others. And that’s OK. Most fun I’ve had in a [family blog]ing year was a pick up hockey game at a local pond with that family. Despite some liberal goodthinkers taking photos of said event to inform the authorities, no major outbreaks ensued.

      That being said, I wouldn’t share a pew during a pandemic with them, even if I weren’t agnostic.

      1. Synoia

        I’ve never understood the infatuation with “going to church.”

        MATTHEW 6:6 KJV ” But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.”

        Appears to me that going to church is a sin of pride, showing off one’s Sunday beast. Gentry in the front, peasants in the back of the Church.

        1. Samuel Conner

          > “showing off one’s Sunday best”

          I think of this as my “fear of man” clothing; what I wear on occasions when I imagine that it matters what other people think of my appearance.

          Basically, when I have to meat with someone from a financial institution, or with a lawyer.

          Weddings and funerals too, of course, out of respect for the subjects of the event.

        2. Lynne

          Hebrews 10: 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

          Colossians 3: 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.

          1 Timothy 4: 13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching.

          Matthew 18: 20 For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

          etc

      2. PS

        Some people just aren’t as frightened of this virus as others. And that’s OK.

        Except that for a lot of people its not OK that you’re not as frightened as them. A lot of those frightened people want your kids to have to continue remote schooling and want your business to have capacity restrictions that mean you can barely stay afloat. See The Liberals Who Can’t Quit Lockdown

        1. lyman alpha blob

          I’m in a pretty liberal area. Went out to some nurseries to do some plant shopping over the weekend and everyone was still masked up despite it being a beautiful sunny day. Not wanting to cause a liberalgoodthinker riot (which involves lots of digital documentation, finger wagging, and tattling rather than throwing haymakers), I kept mine on too, but it sure seemed stupid.

          Friend of my kid’s came over the same day and they sit down in the sunny back yard together all masked up. I had to tell them it was OK not to wear them – the schools have pounded it into these kids’ heads that masks are needed all the time, even when they aren’t.

          Definitely some Stockholm Syndrome going on in my area.

  9. The Rev Kev

    “Regional emergency declaration issued over pipeline shut down after cyberattack”

    If Colonial is shutting down all 5,000 miles (8,000 kilometers) of that pipeline, might not now be a good time to do an inspection of that pipeline? Maybe send a coupla repair crews to North Carolina while they are at it? Maybe see what sort of condition that pipeline is in? I would not be surprised that if they did so, that they might find some places where it is being illegally tapped.

    1. Tom Stone

      Yup, and the last one was in NYC, where the Sullivan Act passed in 1920.|
      If we get these things happening in places with “Loose” gun laws and in places with the most restrictive gun laws, perhaps the problem isn’t guns.
      Poverty, injustice,inequality, lack of opportunity and endemic corruption might possibly have a role…

      1. Wukchumni

        So, we should do nothing regarding gun laws and just let everybody be their own Annie Oakley or Ned Buntline?

        He (most likely the perp) or she who is the best shot ‘wins’.

        Sadly, guns seem to have more rights than humans in our hand cannon obsessed country, and we are paying the price in senseless murder sprees.

        Isn’t there a better way?

      2. Fireship

        Guns amplify all the problems you have mentioned. Guns also do not recognize state borders. Strict gun laws in one state are negated by loose laws next door. But you know all this, Tom, don’t you? I don’t believe you are interested in real-world solutions. I suspect you have a case of gun fetishism.

        Anyway, it is America. If there is a buck to be made from selling penis replacements to inadequate men, even if it means the deaths of hundreds of children, nothing will change.

      3. Skip Intro

        Without border controls, your distinction between places with different gun laws is meaningless. Until effective national laws are enforced, the slaughter and profit will continue. It takes a special sort of insight to draw your gun laws conclusions from localities within the US, while avoiding similar conclusions from gun violence inside and outside the US.

        1. Wukchumni

          About a decade ago we were in NZ, in Nelson on the South Island, and I saw a couple of cops walking the beat, sans guns.

          I was trying to imagine a similar situation in the USA, but who am I kidding, we’re practically enslaved by them.

          1. Fireship

            We have unarmed police forces in Europe – Ireland, Britain, Norway and many local police forces in Italy and Spain. I have even been in fisticuffs with cops around Europe (I was a minor football hool with an alcohol, drink and mental health problems – still no excuse, I know) and never had to be worried about been shot. I have even seen a video of German police disarming a man pointing a pistol at them. Last year, in Dublin, unarmed police disarmed a man who had fired a machine pistol in public.

            1. Oh

              I don’t know if it’s the same any more in Europe. Frankfurt airport has had cops with guns for quite some time. I’ve seen police in Spain packing heat too.

  10. Wukchumni

    The drought in the west keeps intensifying, and the Central Valley has come a long way from the late 19th century when dry wheat farming predominated the action, which is now primarily tree crops, as opposed to annual crops which you can decide to grow or not each year depending on water resources.

    Trees take quite a while to come to commercial fruition, for example there’s a pistachio orchard i’ve been watching that is now in its 9th year and the trees are still a few years away from producing the first nut (side note: why did they have to be dyed red in order to be salable when we were kids?) and if you were the owner of the orchard you’d do anything to keep your trees alive-as would all other owners of various orchards, failure not being an option as the earning curve not only would go to zero, but you’d put yourself 5 to 10 years behind if you had a plant a new orchard.

    The one factor that I find illuminating is the cost of an acre foot of water (326k gallons) in areas shortchanged by ground water and the best example locally is the farming community of Terra Bella (‘beautiful land’) in the Central Valley, which is dotted with an awful lot of citrus & pistachio orchards.

    When things are flush an acre foot of Ag water might fetch a hundred bucks, but during the five year drought it was more like as much as $1500.

    Here’s an article from 2014 regarding the metrics of farming in Terra Bella, and the situation is now much the same…

    Fisher farms in the Terra Bella Irrigation District, which is in an especially tight spot. Farmers in other parts of the San Joaquin Valley may decide not to plant tomatoes or onions this year. But in Terra Bella, the main crops are citrus and pistachio trees. Not watering them could cripple the local farm economy for years to come.

    Unlike other parts of California’s farm belt, Terra Bella has almost no groundwater. Now Terra Bella’s 600 farmers have gotten some shattering news. For the first time ever, they’re likely to get no water this year from the federally-operated Friant-Kern canal.

    “We don’t have any well water, so we’re waiting on rain, and that’s it,” says Fisher. “The noose is tightening around our necks, more and more every day. You’ve literally just got to watch your trees go into a dead wilt, turn brown, and that’s it.”

    https://www.kqed.org/science/16289/cold-then-dry-dealing-california-citrus-farmers-a-double-punch

    1. Carolinian

      In Arizona farmers are upset that reduced flows out of Lake Havasu (the CAP) will interfere with their cotton growing. And some of these cotton megafarms are not even American owned. Big Ag and Big Pharma….separated at birth?

      Here in soggy Dixie we’d return to the cash crop but you’d have to grow it in all those suburban back yards. My mom picked the stuff as one of the farm crops of her girlhood. Now that farm is houses.

    2. fumo

      The Central Valley was a prodigious wheat producer prior to widespread irrigation. My family did very well running a large wheat mill in Stockton back then. The only “problem” is less profit per acre, but there’s still a lot of potential money to be made, even without irrigation. California agriculture is dangerously dependent on irrigation, the profits are staggering, but it isn’t sustainable.

      1. Wukchumni

        I know a fellow who was a bigwig @ JG Boswell*, and I asked about growing wheat as opposed to cotton, and he told me that with the right machinery they could switch to growing wheat pretty easily, but it isn’t worth nearly as much, because markets.

        * until recently dethroned by Bill Gates, the largest owner of Ag property in the USA

        1. Wukchumni

          Cali is way too far from the action, but if we take over Venezuela it might be doable.

    3. ddt

      Shocking to see the rice fields flooded driving up the 99 toward Yuba City and the Buttes over the weekend. Why would rice be grown in a drought year? At least trees can potentially be irrigated with drip.

      Unless looks are deceiving and rice doesn’t actually use all that much water? Confused.

      1. Wukchumni

        Rice in Cali is grown and needs water in the winter & early spring months when H20 is typically overabundant, so it makes ‘sense’ compared to thirsty summer-fall crops.

        That said, our strengths are in growing food that mostly can’t be produced elsewhere, such as almonds, lettuce, pistachios, navel oranges, etc.

        Rice hardly qualifies…

      2. BlakeFelix

        I don’t know if it has changed, but IIRC water was distributed by an incredibly stupid system, where it was free but limited, based on some bizarre system that dated to the Spanish throne, when California was run by Spain. And if you didn’t use your full allowance then you lost the right to use the unused portion forever. So water efficiency was actively discouraged…

  11. The Rev Kev

    “A New Wave of Vaccines Is Coming, and They’re Not All Also-Rans”

    Now here is an interesting question. Will the makers of Pfizer, Moderna, J&J and AstraZeneca band together to make sure that their offering are prioritized over any of the other vaccines coming down the pipeline, no matter how much better, safer and easier to transport they are? Logic demands that the best vaccine be selected for production but we all know how that goes these days. The worse of it is that depending what country you live in, you may not get a choice of which vaccine that you think is best. For those interested, here is a page that keeps track of the different vaccines in use and coming down the pipeline-

    https://covid19.trackvaccines.org/vaccines/

    1. fumo

      Vaccines that don’t require injection would probably overcome a significant portion of vaccine hesitancy, those should probably be prioritized. I’m not sure having every news video on the subject of COVID be a never-ending string of graphic close-ups of needles being plunged into arms is helpful either.

  12. Wukchumni

    Putsch yourself in my Kevin’s position, pachyderms who don’t toe the Trump line must be dealt with in a fashion similar to Jehovah Witnesses who fall out of the fold and must be shunned for their own good by members of the congregation.

  13. The Rev Kev

    “Melinda Gates met with divorce lawyers in 2019 amid Epstein revelations”

    I wonder if the trigger for Melinda here was when Jeff tried to build a so-called HQ in Brooklyn back in 2019 rather than his buddying up to Epstein. The time frame fits. At the time, Bezos was demanding that New York let him build a helipad on this place and New York officials were bending over backwards to let him do it, no matter how it would disrupt the lives of the people that lived in Brooklyn. Well, at least until those people had been gentrified out that is. The connection?

    Well, it seems that Jeff had found himself a new bunk-buddy named Lauren Sanchez and not only was she a helicopter pilot but she owned her own company named Black Ops Aviation. Executives found that Bezos had suddenly developed a new, intense interest in helicopters which previously he had hated. And entries for this company were appearing in Amazon’s budget. Likely Melinda knew and when it came out that he was demanding a helicopter pad in Brooklyn, he may as well hoist a pair of Sanchez’s knickers up a flag pole there-

    https://www.businessinsider.com.au/jeff-bezos-keen-interest-helicopters-exposed-lauren-sanchez-affair-2021-5?r=US&IR=T

      1. The Rev Kev

        Gawd, I stuffed up. I somehow mixed this story of Bill Gates with Jeff Bezos. Got myself distracted with a massive thunder & lightning storm that is presently moving overhead. Just lost the TV signal so now I am shutting down the ‘puter for the night.

    1. Darthbobber

      But I think you’re mixing up your billionaire celebrity couples. Jeff-McKenzie, Bill-Melinda.

    2. Charger01

      You know she is/was married to Bill Gates? I think the Epstein connection is a be tenuous (compared to the notorious clinton connection) I think Melinda is paving the ground for her next, probably solo, gig.

      1. BlakeFelix

        Well, what I know of the Epstien connection is tenuous, but I wouldn’t divorce my husband over what I know…

  14. Wukchumni

    Kentucky Derby winner under scrutiny after positive post-race test Racing Post (Re Silc).
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    The sport of kings manages to shoot itself in the foot with a hypodermic containing banned substances, with the only race that Americans hear about having the winner being subject to disqualification more than likely.

    I keep waiting for Santa Anita racetrack in Arcadia to go under, it’s expansive grounds and parking lot that goes on forever is located on what could easily be turned into a thousand new homes worth a million per, versus being the venue for the ponies that hardly anybody goes to these days, a dying spectator sport which is the fastest non motorized of all, but suffers from a 30 minute lag between races, making it way too slow for us to care, it seems.

    There is precedent of course in that Hollywood Park was turned into an NFL stadium, why not do the same in a different way with Santa Anita?

    1. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you, W.

      That would be a pity.

      Baffert and the other chemists masquerading as trainers in the US should have been banned years ago, but, as with Justify and Mr Winner, other forces were at play and happy to let Baffert get away with it and protect their future earnings.

      If you want to experience the sport of kings in its majesty, a decent enough track is Keeneland, the most European of US tracks and my favourite in the US.

      1. Wukchumni

        I was weaned on the backdrop of the San Gabriel mountains and it was love at first sight (it’s sadly easy to remember my first visit to Santa Anita, as a popular jockey was killed in a starting gate accident that day in 1975) with the Great Race Place, and i’d daresay i’ve been to thousands of races there, but hardly any recently.

        What has happened to racing here, is really short fields of 5 or 6 horses, as it costs the same to board & train a crappy claiming race steed as it does the best thoroughbred, and its a losing proposition financially-so nobody wants the burden-thus uninteresting races from a wagering standpoint, as claiming races are the most common of all contests @ ‘the oval office’.

        To put in comparison to yesteryear, it was pretty common to have full 12 horse fields with half a dozen more horses also eligible if any of them scratched out.

        I’m content to live in the past, when in the late 70’s and early 80’s, the jockey colony @ Santa Anita more closely resembled the 1927 Yankees, there was so much talent it was ridiculous, with Shoemaker, Pincay, McCarron, Delahoussaye, McHargue, Hawley, Toro (on the turf), Cauthen, and a few others i’ve forgotten.

        https://www.nytimes.com/1975/01/19/archives/pineda-top-jockey-killed-in-startinggate-mishap.html

        1. Colonel Smithers

          Thank you, W.

          If ever you visit these islands, please let me know and I can take you to Newmarket races, the racing museum and lunch at the Jockey Club. I live up the road from Ascot.

          I remember Cauthen and McHargue riding in the British Isles. The latter was famously jocked off in favour of Lester Piggott.

          As Mauritian Creole and racing fanatic, the exploits of Kent Desormeaux, Calvin Borel, Randy Romero and Eddie de la Houssaye are a source of pride in the community worldwide.

          1. newcatty

            Where have all the flowers gone? To the winning horses long passing.
            Where have all the flowers gone long times passed.
            Where have many of the horses gone? Dropped dead on the Santa Anita racetrack and so many other tracks.
            Where have all of the spectators gone? A dying sport that isn’t fast enough to thrill and bet on.
            Where have the past-their -prime thoroughbreds gone? The money makers, besides being sperm makers, are ” put to pasture”.
            Where has the true respect and love for horses and other animals “admired” for their usefulness gone, many years go?
            When will they ever realize? When will they ever learn?
            A rant , yes, and another point of view with no offence to those who revere” the sport of kings”.

            1. Colonel Smithers

              Thank you, N. I don’t disagree.

              What goes on in the US is different to what goes on elsewhere.

              1. newcatty

                Thank you, colonel Smithers, for your reply. Good to know, that what goes on in US , sadly so, is not the norm elsewhere.

          2. Wukchumni

            Colonel,

            It was quite something with so many jockeys of the highest caliber, with my favorite being a Canadian: Sandy Hawley, who rode some of the best tactical races i’ve ever seen, occasionally i’d go to an LA Kings game after the races and see him doing his other job, being the timekeeper in the penalty box, ha!

          3. Tom Bradford

            I went to the races at Newmarket. Once. Would have had more fun watching paint dry for four hours.

            Did, though, get a lot a pleasure watching the strings train on the Heath, wrapped in clouds of steam in a November dawn.

            1. Wukchumni

              The trick to the lull between races is to people watch as much as possible, walk around the place starting from stables as the horses are getting ready to be saddled, with a throng of owners, trainers & jockeys talking things over. follow the parade out onto the track and watch the horses, are any of them wet as in sweaty or even lathery, or which one took a dump in the post parade? I always feel better after dropping the kids off in the pool, why wouldn’t a horse?

              Oh, but this was about people watching.

              Just as you enter the racetrack there are 5 touts with their picks for the day they’re selling, and you always looked down on the sap that paid $2 for somebody else’s opinion. After the 3rd race @ Santa Anita, freshly printed tout sheets with the winning horses in the daily double would mysteriously appear throughout the grandstands, with the ink so fresh it’d smear off in your hand. This was to entice you to let loose with $2 the next time you went to the track.

              The most likely person you’ll see is the RTD (race track degenerate) and more than likely the shirt and baseball style hat he (they were almost no female RTD’s) is wearing came from a freebie promotion the track was handing out last year. I endeavored to be a RTD in my prime, but always eschewed giveaway days as being unlucky, and even a lucky rabbit’s foot* couldn’t improve the situation, so I did something else on those days.

              Sometimes an RTD is a Stooper, but not usually, as Stoopers were the lowest form of life @ the track, figuratively that is.

              Something like 5% of winning tickets are never cashed because punters accidentally throw them away, and the Stoopers wagered only shoe leather in their pursuit of a ducat in the rough, and the trick with picking up a loser was to tear it in half, so you wouldn’t have to re-check it.

              And this brings us to the mysterious Asian horseplayer who may not even speak English, but they seemed to know their equine lingua franca better than anybody, judging from who I saw @ the windows where you cashed winning tix.

              * now i’ve done it, rather rabid rabbit supporters will be all over me…

  15. lyman alpha blob

    RE: Republican Funhouse

    Seeing more and more articles about Liz Cheney being on the ropes. For all the TDS sufferers out there, remember that Trump stuck a fork in the Bushes, the Clintons, and now looks to be taking out Cheney.

    You can’t say the man never did anything useful.

  16. Wukchumni

    I’m delighted to announce the launch of strictly limited edition CalicoCoin to compete with Dogecoin, as once upon a time males of the breed were called Money Cats.

    Calico cats have been called “Money Cats” in the U.S. because it was thought that they would fetch top dollar when sold. This is actually a myth, since male Calico cats are sterile and not useful to breeders who might be interested in buying them.

    https://www.aspcapetinsurance.com/resources/calico-cat-facts/

  17. lyman alpha blob

    Longer comment seems to have disappeared, so thanks for the link on Steven Donziger. The US propagandists like to flog the Navaly story, but the US has plenty of political prisoners of their own.

    IIRC Don Siegelman, the ex Alabama governor railroaded into prison by the GOP was mentioned here recently. Assange has been well covered here but not much anywhere else. And there was Tim de Christopher who spent almost two years in prison for the crime of raising his hand to bid at a BLM oil lease auction several years ago.

    This are just the recent ones of the top of my head. I’m sure there are plenty more.

  18. flora

    An interesting read examining two theories of C19’s evolution.

    Origin of Covid — Following the Clues
    https://nicholaswade.medium.com/origin-of-covid-following-the-clues-6f03564c038

    About the author Nicholas Wade, per Wiki:
    Wade has been a science writer and editor for the journals Nature, from 1967 to 1971, and Science, from 1972 to 1982.[11] He joined The New York Times in 1982[1] and retired in 2012, but he freelances occasionally for his former employer.[12] He had been an editorial writer covering science, environment and defense, and then an editor of the science section.

    1. DJG, Reality Czar

      flora and Watt4Bob: Yes, it is a must read. It is carefully argued and is clearly written, so that Wade explains highly technical matters. The list of acknowledgments at the end gives access to several of his excellent sources.

      This stuck out for me as most disturbing: “Viruses have all kinds of clever tricks, so why does the furin cleavage site stand out? Because of all known SARS-related beta-coronaviruses, only SARS2 possesses a furin cleavage site. All the other viruses have their S2 unit cleaved at a different site and by a different mechanism.”

      We talk a lot about statistics here at Naked Capitalism. Yes, Covid_19 is an outlier, but this highly unusual structure is worth investigating, which Wade does. The result is a major scientific and political scandal, if he has marshaled his facts correctly.

      Definitely worth everyone’s while to take a look.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        We know know that Covid was circulating months earlier than previously thought; I have linked to two studies (one of which I am too lazy to find). In Italy, Covid was circulating in September 2019.

        That, I think, makes Wuhan Lab + Wuhan Market a case of adjacency in space rather than causality in time, having the status of “connecting the dots” in one of the yarn diagrams that seem to be proliferating so wildly these days.

        1. flora

          The time stamps for x or y are, you know, possibly problematic, based on ‘big science’ funding requirements. The Furin Fold question seems less amenable to the official narrative which uses time stamps for govt funding requirements. imo. See the link you have today for the Unherd article. imo. / ;) My 2 cents.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > The time stamps for x or y are

            That’s bullshit. The time stamps, as you call them, are as I indicated from published papers about infection spreads. Are you really adding another epicycle to your theory by saying the dates on the paper were faked?

        2. Romancing The Loan

          I remember those studies vaguely but thought the Sept one was from a single isolated wastewater sample, using a somewhat iffy test that might possibly ding on other coronaviruses? And of course there’s always the possibility of sample contamination. But if it’s not just the one then of course that’s more convincing.

            1. Romancing The Loan

              That was it! I remembered reading somewhere (apparently not here) some question as to whether the test used was specific enough to Covid-19 antibodies rather than antibodies for other coronaviruses. It certainly claims to be. I was not at all intending to imply that wastewater testing itself is not reliable.

              1. Romancing The Loan

                Reread and noticed this study was blood not wastewater. I guess I must have been thinking of something else. That it’s blood with antibodies is even more interesting than wastewater (though I guess it does put paid to the lab leak theory!) though. We know who these people are if they were in a trial – has anyone asked them if they remember getting sick, and when? Potential lung cancer patients seem like a group that’s particularly unlikely to have been asymptomatic. Actually I wonder if the symptoms are why they signed up for the study!

        3. skippy

          Mitchell Tsai
          Sun

          evolutionary portrait of the progenitor SARS-CoV-2 and its dominant offshoots in COVID-19 pandemic

          (Kumar et al., Oxford Molecular Biology and Evolution, 5/4/21)

          Common ancestor

          This progenitor viral genome has three bases that differ from the Wuhan strains. The researchers think that both the Wuhan and other of the earliest genomes to be sampled were actually variants of the progenitor coronavirus (CoV), which diverged into ν and α lineages.

          Diversity pre-existing the earliest case

          The Wuhan strain underwent three consecutive mutations, α1, α2, and α3, but these are not found in the closely related CoVs, all of which have the same base at these three positions. The ν variants of the progenitor CoV do not show the other 47 variants at these positions, making them unlikely to be the ancestral lineage for the Wuhan-1 virus or other early samples. The first ν mutant was picked up almost two months after the Wuhan-1 strain.

          There were multiple occurrences of the progenitor CoV, both in China and the USA, from January 2020 onwards. Synonymous progenitor CoV samples were found in many other samples collected within two weeks of the Wuhan-1 strain.

          While these were mostly Chinese and Asian (almost 90/130), they were found in all continents sampled and persisted up to April 2020 in Europe.

          These findings suggest that the progenitor CoV was already spreading extensively before and after the first official reports of the emergence of a novel coronavirus in China. In other words, the Wuhan-1 strain is unlikely to be the original SARS-CoV-2 ancestor from which all currently circulating strains are derived. – snip

          https://coronavirus.quora.com/?__ni__=0&__nsrc__=4&__snid3__=21050534347&__tiids__=27709648

    2. Romancing The Loan

      I remember some early (very early, January 2020) reporting on the gain-of-function research before it was so firmly squished as an acceptable topic. I can’t comment on the science but agree that the article is very well written and convincing.

      I have always believed in the lab escape theory for my own reasons – hoping for/assuming the best (or at least not the worst) in the face of the potential for catastrophe is such a universal human trait that when China’s government reacted so swiftly and with such extreme measures, at such great economic cost, it seemed like maybe they knew what it was they were facing. And that it scared the hell out of them.

      Is the implicated lab/institute actually funded by Bill Gates in some way like the right wing media said it was early last year? If so, the possibility of further inquiry in this area might explain Bill and Melinda’s sudden divorce better than Epstein, if it’s for asset preservation.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        This comment actually subtracts value with uninformed speculation. The door to ZH is that way, They like that sort of thing over there, I am told.

  19. Lou Anton

    Going to start thinking about Fauci quotes in the same way I did/do about Alan Greenspan: whatever he says, do/prepare for the opposite to happen. So when he says: ‘Unlikely’ US will see COVID-19 surge in fall, winter,’ start planning for trouble.

    (note: read the Breakthrough post first, so had preparing on the mind as Yves mentions at the end of that post).

  20. Mme Generalist

    Re How science has been corrupted

    From the video:

    The function of NGOs is to convert the priorities of various oligarchs into political currency through the alchemy of expertise plus high moral posturing, which in combination is sort of the catnip of cosmopolitan opinion.

    Yep. Great interview and article.

    1. Dirk77

      I remember Matt from long ago. From the background of his interview, in his garage restoring a VW Bug, I’m glad to see he hasn’t changed much. I have little to add to his thoughtful piece, apart from anecdotes of academic friends to back up many of his claims. While he seems to regard the projected success of the vaccines greater than I do, I appreciate his sober assessment of the risks, and just accepting that people die in life and that’s just the way it is.

    2. buermann

      The Galileo quote is apocrypha from over a century after his death nor did he have any proof for heliocentrism so much as the opposite (his heliocentric theory of the tides predicted half the observables, a laughingstock); ‘climategate’ did not reveal any corruption of the peer review process, of which they were officially cleared, the researchers in the email thread just discussed how to deal with public records request spam from the equivalent of an industry funded skeptic denial of service attack; the replication crisis is almost entirely a result of relying on weak scientific methodologies required to ethically study humans resulting in an abundance of statistical artifacts; the suggestion that we are “ominously” “being prepared for “climate lockdowns”” because Chuck Schumer suggested invoking the National Emergencies Act for climate change is quite impossible because the 136 distinct statutory emergency powers enumerated by Congress in that act no more empower the president to impose a federal climate lockdown than it has a covid lockdown; all by way of leading up to a denunciation of people who continue wearing masks while a supermajority of the population remains to be fully vaccinated, “as though they had joined some new religious order.”

      Must be one of the dumbest articles I’ve ever seen shared here.

      1. Dirk77

        I don’t claim to fully kept up with things, but I think you are correct in that “climategate” has been resolved to be a non-story. That said, the author stated that the Galileo quote was “lore”, i.e., not a quote anyone has total confidence in. And science provides only evidence; proof is the domain of mathematicians and distillers. Further, all theories of gravitation are symmetric: so the solar system is neither heliocentric nor geocentric because it’s not centric at all. As for lockdowns, I think the argument was that since they were accepted, any further creep is possible, whether or not they are contained in the NEA. As for continuing wearing masks, I object for different reasons than you, namely people could have all sorts of valid reasons for continuing to wear them, finding out they don’t get sick as much being one. I thought another article of his, How Race Politics Liberated the Elites, had a more interesting thesis, and would be interested in having him and Adolf Reed or someone discuss it sometime.

        1. buermann

          The claim is that “Galileo was brought before the Inquisition for his demonstration that the earth is not fixed”, but he had no demonstration that the earth is not fixed and so could not be brought before the Inquisition for it, one of many anecdotes in a lecture on the corruption of science that is itself a discredited corruption of history.

          There was no federal lockdown for covid at all, so to fear “further creep” is mere fantasy.

  21. jrkrideau

    Where Ukrainians Are Preparing for All-Out War With Russia NYT

    I forgot William Randolph Hurst owned the NYT. /s

  22. Laputan

    RE: CEO dismissed working from home. Her employees went on strike.

    I understand diction is becoming a little old-fashioned but you would think someone running a magazine would have the good sense not put this out there:

    “I am concerned about the unfortunately common office worker who wants to continue working at home and just go into the office on occasion,” Merrill wrote.

    Also a Cornell and LSE grad…further proof that elites aren’t all that sharp.

  23. Geo

    Cats sitting on squares: “Out of 500 cats and owners, only 30 completed the entire trial, shrinking the sample size considerably.”

    I’m curious if there’s a study on cat owners and their inability to follow through on a task. Seems apt that so many cat owners would flake. I imagine if this was a study on dogs, out of 500 dog owners about 500 would have completed the study. And, I say this as a cat person and empathize with the study participants who, much like my cat tires of playing with a string after a few minutes and just wanders off, clearly got bored of the study and wandered back to whatever else they preferred to spend their time with.

    That said, I’m now planning to play with my poor cat’s mind and put optical illusion “boxes” in strange spots around the house to see if she lays there.

    1. Pat

      Watching the increasing number of dog owners who do not pick up after their dogs on the sidewalks of NYC, not to mention those who almost drag their dogs along rather than letting them sniff things out I think you may be overestimating the number of dog owners with follow through despite boredom with the task.

  24. zagonostra

    >https://thebulletin.org/2021/05/the-origin-of-covid-did-people-or-nature-open-pandoras-box-at-wuhan

    Some interesting developments from friends at NYT, and the Hill on the origins of CV19. Below quote is from Michael Tracey who quotes the NYT piece. In addition, Saagar Enjeti did a nice piece at below link.

    Those who have been reading alt news sites will find this unremarkable, but for most it will be eye-opening (I hope) and substantiate some of the skeptical comments that have been previously posted.

    Over and over again early last year, as the COVID pandemic was ramping up but hadn’t yet reached the US in earnest, journalists working at prominent national publications claimed to have conclusive knowledge about the origins of the virus. It was trafficking in a “conspiracy theory” that had been roundly “debunked” — they collectively declared — to suggest that the virus may have originated in a laboratory that specializes in experimenting on human infectious diseases in Wuhan, China.

    https://mtracey.substack.com/p/as-new-evidence-emerges-for-covid

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Pk0wLN5uuU&ab_channel=TheHill

    1. Phillip Cross

      If I were a betting man, I would wager that the experiments in Wuhan were outsourced from scientists in the US after such research was banned locally. Hence the professional tier’s reticence in embracing the theory.

      I expect that many well established, and highly paid, careers depend on those receipts never seeing the light of day.

    2. Mr. Magoo

      This really deserves more attention. The fact that the lab leak theory was shut down so quickly without any credible investigation drew all the more attention to it – and the linked references above will help you put that in context.

  25. roxan

    The best way for nurses to strike is similar to the Japanese bus drivers–continue with patient care but refuse to fill out the paperwork needed for the hospital to get paid. That solves the eternal problem of ‘whatabout the patients’.

    1. JTMcPhee

      Not going to work. The “paperwork” is embedded in data extracted from the patient’s almost always electronic charting, which if the nurses don’t do the charting can quickly lead to risks to the patient and loss of job, professional license and possible criminal charges. And there are multiple checks and balances to ensure that the hospital and physician get theirs.

      About the only option, into which labor unrest has been kettled for generations, is to down tools and hope no one will cross the picket line. And for nurses, the reputational damage and psychological pain of failing in their calling to provide healing or at least care, make it extra special hard to engage in a hard strike — even where the oligarchs do not provide PPE or ventilation of facilities or decent wages and workloads that don’t grind down, and overload to the point of deadly errors, the nurses (and techs and cleaners and porters and unit clerks.)

  26. Kouros

    I thought that it referred to the massive amount of hot air it generates with its stories peddled then to the world via Belingcat, etc…

  27. Late Introvert

    @Lambert “So why, oh why, don’t the Republicans sue to see source code for the devices?”

    Isn’t it because they own the voting machine companies, already know they are insecure and like it that way? And are using this clown show merely to sow doubt and confusion?

  28. The Rev Kev

    ‘Atrios
    Starmer’s plan to sack all of Labour’s voters seems like a questionable strategy to me, but all of the right wing papers love it, so perhaps he’s on to something’

    I noticed the tweet immediately below this and whoever they are, they have a keen wit-

    a weapon to surpass metal gear
    Replying to
    @Atrios
    ‘For every labor voter we lose in the former strongholds, we will gain two conservative opinion writers in London, and you can repeat that everywhere’

  29. Fern

    Regarding the article about the “new wave of vaccines”: The Novavax vaccine could be a good alternative for people who don’t like the idea of the newer technologies.

    Recently I’ve been noticing that some commenters are still under the misconception that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine uses a traditional technology. It’s doesn’t; the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a viral-vector vaccine, which means that human-synthesized instructions are inserted into an unrelated virus that has been rendered unable to replicate, and the genetically engineered virus is then sent into your cells to hijack them to make proteins similar to those of the coronavirus spike. In this sense, they are similar to the mRNA vaccines. And like the mRNA vaccines, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a new technology in that the first viral-vector vaccine, an ebola vaccine, was approved for general use in 2019, and even then, it had limited use since ebola is not widespread and when it’s been used for ebola, it was predominantly in rural, very underserved areas like the rural Congo where it would be extremely difficult to monitor for adverse effects.

    The Novavax vaccine is a protein subunit vaccine. I believe that the first protein subunit vaccine was the hepatitis B vaccine approved in 1986, which would make it a far more established technology. Unlike the Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, and AstraZeneca vaccines, the antigen is made outside the body and then injected. It doesn’t hijack your cells to create the antigen.

    I very happily took the Pfizer vaccine, but I have friends who are uncomfortable with the new technologies. The Novavax could be a great alternative for them.

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