Links 5/12/2021

Patient readers, Yves wrote… She concluded “So no original posts. You are lucky she hasn’t had a stroke,” having included detail on the following altruistic punishment-post-worthy topics: Hearing aids for her mother, her tax accountants (savage two-count indictment), and Vanguard. So please, be excellent and excellent to each other in comments, not only for Yves’s sake, but mine (since I am having my own little difficulties with administrivia). We really don’t want to be doing a lot of moderation in our highly irritated states. And you don’t want us doing it. Thank you! –lambert

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1,000 feral cats released onto Chicago streets to tackle rat explosion The Hill. So that’s why Rahm wants to leave for Japan!

Law enforcement help capture loose zebra in middle Tennessee AP (Re Silc).

Companies prepare share buyback bonanza as profits surge FT

Stan Druckenmiller Isn’t Telling The Truth About America’s Finances The Heisenberg Report

Gas Flowing 5 MPH Will Take Two Weeks to Reach New York Once Pipeline Is Reopened Bloomberg. Asking for trouble:


Colonial Pipeline didn’t tell CISA about ransomware incident, highlighting questions about information sharing Cyberscoop

Enbridge vows to keep pipeline open, girds for legal fight with Michigan Reuters


A Misleading C.D.C. Number David Leonhardt, NYT. Just astonishing, except not:

When the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new guidelines last month for mask wearing, it announced that “less than 10 percent” of Covid-19 transmission was occurring outdoors. Media organizations repeated the statistic, and it quickly became a standard description of the frequency of outdoor transmission.

But the number is almost certainly misleading.

It appears to be based partly on a misclassification of some Covid transmission that actually took place in enclosed spaces (as I explain below). An even bigger issue is the extreme caution of C.D.C. officials, who picked a benchmark — 10 percent — so high that nobody could reasonably dispute it.

That benchmark “seems to be a huge exaggeration,” as Dr. Muge Cevik, a virologist at the University of St. Andrews, said. In truth, the share of transmission that has occurred outdoors seems to be below 1 percent and may be below 0.1 percent, multiple epidemiologists told me.

The rare outdoor transmission that has happened almost all seems to have involved crowded places or close conversation.

And these “rare” exceptions are perfectly understandable when you have a theory of transmission — aerosols — that can give an account of them. The whole piece is well worth a read, although I cracked a tooth when I came to this: “A very large share of supposed cases of outdoor transmission have occurred in a single setting: construction sites in Singapore” and the ensuing explanation.

* * *
This Overlooked Variable Is the Key to the Pandemic Zeynep Tufecki, The Atlantic. We ran this when it appeared but it’s still germane. The variable is k:

The definition of k is a mouthful, but it’s simply a way of asking whether a virus spreads in a steady manner or in big bursts, whereby one person infects many, all at once. After nine months of collecting epidemiological data, we know that this is an overdispersed pathogen, meaning that it tends to spread in clusters, but this knowledge has not yet fully entered our way of thinking about the pandemic—or our preventive practices….. Multiple studies from the beginning have suggested that as few as 10 to 20 percent of infected people may be responsible for as much as 80 to 90 percent of transmission, and that many people barely transmit it.

This highly skewed, imbalanced distribution means that an early run of bad luck with a few super-spreading events, or clusters, can produce dramatically different outcomes even for otherwise similar countries.

Note the R, an average, conceals k. “Sometimes, the mean is not the message.” Worth a read.

* * *
CDC director grilled over mask guidance in heated Capitol Hill hearing ABC

The transatlantic institutional anti-mask campaign, summarised Lessons from the Crisis

* * *
Here’s All the Free Stuff You Can Score for Getting a Covid-19 Vax Gizmodo

McDonald’s partners with the Biden Administration to provide trusted, independent information on COVID-19 vaccines (press release) PR Newswire

Good question:


* * *
How many high school students will come back in the fall? Dismal return rate raises alarms Los Angeles Times

Minnesota governor jokes that residents should ‘go get vaccinated so you’re alive to vote against me’ The Hill

How Each of Us Can Prepare for the Next Pandemic Scientific American. Institutionally, this is brilliant: “Cooperative Extension programs have a long history of teaching readiness and survival skills—and with more funding, they could help us get ready for future outbreaks.” Unfortunately, the article doesn’t mention ventilation anywhere.

Cybercrime a booming business — thanks to COVID Deutsche Welle (Re Silc).

Internal emails reveal WHO knew of sex abuse claims in Congo AP


China’s Soaring Factory Costs Send Inflation Signal to the World Bloomberg

China Global Luxury Index Reaches Its Highest Level Ever Jing Daily

Chinese smartphone giant Xiaomi shares rally over 6% after U.S. agrees to remove it from blacklist CNBC

China’s Debt-Laden Developers Get Over Repayment Hump Caixin

China’s Credit Rebound May Spell Trouble for Huarong Investors Bloomberg. Commentary:



Myanmar’s junta is wobbling. The NUG must be allowed to topple it Southeast Asia Globe_. Throwing down the gauntlet?


I can’t speak to the provenance. Nor here:


Myanmar at the Crossroads Asia Media Centre

Joint Survey on the Impact of Businesses Operating in Myanmar (PDF) Foreign Chambers of Commerce in Myanmar

‘Now we are starving’: After coup, Yangon’s most vulnerable struggle to feed themselves Frontier Myanmar. If the NUG wants to move from a para-state to a state, this needs to be addressed.

What does Myanmar’s military coup mean for the future of the country’s flourishing skateboarding community? Skateism. OK, OK, an NGO….


Scientists race to study variants in India as cases explode AP

Exclusive | India envoy asks China to help stop price surging of Covid-19 supplies South China Morning Post

As Centre Seeks to Keep COVID Management Out of Judicial Review, SC Is Set to Examine Its Options The Wire


Live: Gaza death toll rises as Israel declares ‘state of emergency’ in Lod Middle East Eye

Israel and Hamas clash threatens to spiral into ‘all-out war’, UN warns FT

BREAKING: Hamas Fires Iranian-Made Cruise Missiles for First Time, Five Israelis Killed Tikun Olam

Sisi green-lights Egypt’s Suez canal expansion after ship blockage Agence France Presse


Why a Covid public inquiry could prove useful for Boris The Spectator

Brexit Chaos Gone, the U.K. Is Too Cheap to Ignore John Authers, Bloomberg

Air France and Airbus to face trial over 2009 Rio-Paris crash, French court says France24

New Cold War

Putin Moves to Quit Open Skies as Russia Looks to Biden Summit Bloomberg

Claims of Microwave Attacks Are Scientifically Implausible Foreign Policy

Biden Administration

Senate panel deadlocks in vote on sweeping elections bill The Hill

How Joe Biden could vaccinate the world Ryan Cooper, The Week

Our Famously Free Press

The problem of ‘casting calls’ for sources Columbia Journalism Review


Judge Tosses NRA’s Attempt to Relocate to Texas Daily Beast (Furzy Mouse).

Mountain State skaters Postindustrial

Imperial Collapse Watch

The Oceans That Keep Capitalism Afloat Jacobin

The struggle for the survival of US democracy Martin Wolf, FT

“Our post-American era.” Patrick Lawrence, The Scrum

Break Up Big Defense The American Conservative

Spa shootings suspect indicted in 2 counties; Fulton to pursue hate crime charges Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Class Warfare

My Pandemic Year Behind The Checkout Counter Economic Hardship Reporting Project

‘I don’t know how I can survive.’ Women have been hit hardest by COVID’s economic toll Los Angeles Times

Is Now the Time for American Ghent? On Labor

It’s Time to Socialize Big Pharma The Jacobin

The Slow Demise of Loconomics Grassroots Economic Organizing

Can Co-ops Save Restaurants? Mother Jones

What Is Stoicism? A Definition & 9 Stoic Exercises To Get You Started Daily Stoic

Why Do Older Individuals Have Greater Control of Their Feelings? Smithsonian

The game-changing innovation on Mars CNN. Oxygen.

Is Mars Ours? The New Yorker. I assume Musk’s Mars rocket will include some real estate speculators (cf. Philip K. Dick, Martian Time-Slip).

Mathematicians find core mechanism to calculate tipping points

Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


    1. Mikel

      Yeah, I live in Cali and thought about how wonderful it would be to go the beach.
      And then wondered what happens when I have to go to the bathroom….

  1. John Siman

    Stoicism? My favorite Stoic character in (relatively) recent American literature is brave Conrad of the magical prison break in the late Tom Wolfe’s A Man in Full. Here’s a real Stoic’s depiction of real man Conrad:

    “Moral fortitude … becomes a crucial element of the manliness exhibited by Conrad Hensley. The Stoic lesson couldn’t be more vivid. [Main character Charlie] Croker’s salesmanship won him material wealth — an external that is merely a preferred indifferent and no real good at all according to Stoic ethical theory. Conrad’s moral fortitude is the only real good, since it alone cannot be lost through bad luck. Measured by the new model of manliness, for Croker to lose his wealth is not to lose any part of true manliness. Rather, it would simply be a test of his fortitude. For Conrad to be jailed having fought for a just cause is evidence of his manliness because it affirms his moral fortitude.

    “In prison Conrad requests a copy of the novel The Stoics’ Game, but receives instead a volume titled The Stoics, containing the extant writings of Epictetus and other Stoic philosophers. When Conrad reads that Epictetus spent time in prison as a young man, and was tortured and crippled, but went on to become one of the greatest philosophers of Imperial Rome, Conrad’s disappointment turns into excitement. He slowly learns Epictetus’ Stoic teachings. Our bodies and possessions are mere trifles, things merely on loan to us. Zeus has given us a spark of his own divinity in the form of our power of free choice. We are mortal and our bodies can easily be conquered, but our will cannot be unless we permit it. Difficulties are opportunities for us to train ourselves to cope with circumstances. We can endure any hardships we face as long as we maintain our dignity, self-respect, and what we see as our character. Jubilant, Conrad becomes an enthusiastic convert to Stoicism” (“Real Men Are Stoics” in Stoic Voice Journal, April 2000).

    1. zagonostra

      I still vividly remember the scene in which Conrad was applying for a job that required a typing test. Since he had been previously working at a warehouse before getting laid-off, his hands became muscular and large from moving frozen boxes of food. When he went to type, something that he used to be able to do fairly well, he found that his fingers were too large and clumsy. He failed the test and that led to a whole string of bad luck which ended up with him in jail…I thought the contrast of a man who was engaged in physical work to provide for his family having to pivot to one that required typing was a good contrast (one that I thankfully suffered through but also where others were not so lucky).

      Many nuggets of social and economic dislocation contained within a compelling narrative in this book. I can’t believe it’s been more than 20 years since it was published.

    2. Amfortas the hippie

      Stoicism has served me pretty well in my weird and chaotic life.
      I’ve given away Marcus Aurelius’ meditations more than any other book.
      (to the extent that i started getting them by the box)

      and, just while i’m wandering through:
      you know times are strange when erstwhile conservative intellectuals sound as if they’ve been up all night reading Adorno and Horkheimer:

      1. fresno dan

        Amfortas the hippie
        May 12, 2021 at 7:58 am
        Your personal attitude to that ‘living faith’ is beside the point here. In one sense, whether the faith is even true is beside the point as well. The point is that when a culture built around such a sacred order dies then there will be upheaval at every level of society, from the level of politics right down to the level of the soul. The very meaning of an individual life – if there is one – will shift dramatically. The family structure, the meaning of work, moral attitudes, the very existence of morals at all, notions of good and evil, sexual mores, perspectives on everything from money to rest to work to nature to kin to responsibility to duty: everything will be up for grabs.
        What do we believe with regard to our secular religion of civics? (dare I say it – NORMS) As I child, I had perfect faith in our elections. As I grew older, my faith was shaken, but not broken. Than there was Bush versus Gore, Russian interference, The Stolen Election.
        The Peaceful Transfer of Power
        Where will we be in 20 years? Gleaming cities on Mars, or a Hobbesian disintegration? I’m not gonna be around to find out, and I’m kinda glad of that…

      2. KLG

        Amfortas, you made my day!

        “…times are strange when erstwhile conservative intellectuals sound as if they’ve been up all night reading Adorno and Horkheimer…”

        Gramsci is next. Then Judith Butler.

      3. zagonostra

        ATH -Thanks for link to substack, worth subscribing to. I browsed it and hope to read it with greater care when time permits.

        The presentation of the biblical story in Genesis that the article opens up with leaves out a specific detail that has always intrigued me. In the garden there was not only the “Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil” but also that of “Eternal Life” that grew in the center of Eden. It was not forbidden. Why did they not chose to eat of it’s fruit instead?

        1. rl

          “It was not forbidden. Why did they not chose to eat of its fruit instead?”

          If you are literate in French, you may find some, eh, food for thought in the studies of the Judaica and Kabbalah scholar Charles Mopsik (d. 2003). Many texts were available at the website of L’Association Charles Mopsik but it now appears to have gone offline (I’m reaching a website with Japanese text and pictures of kittens). Unfortunately, few of his works have been translated into English. But you can find a bibliography here.

        2. Jeff W

          “It was not forbidden. Why did they not chose to eat of its fruit instead?”

          The answer, of course, is that the “Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil” and the “Tree of Eternal Life” were, in fact, one and the same, the former transforming into the latter, as explained here:

          At the beginning, the tree in the center of the garden [i.e., the “Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil”] was an ets hada’at; a tree through which man experienced the seduction of the forbidden [i.e., sinning for the first time]. Only after eating from the tree did it become an ets hahayim; a tree representing the potential for habitual sin. Man, upon consuming from the ets hada’at, had not yet eaten from the ets hahayim. It was his very sin which transformed the tree [the “Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil”] into the Tree of Eternal Life.

        3. ex-PFC Chuck

          Indeed, a most meaningful essay. Perhaps, if our descendants are fortunate, a new worldwide sacred order will soon coalesce consisting of a blend the best of the Enlightenment (fact-based logical reasoning, scientific method, etc.) with the deep sense of respect for and integration with nature of the remaining indigenous peoples. Soon enough such that there remain sufficient indigenous communities to pass on their knowledge before “civilization” wipes them all out, and before global warming has reached the tipping point toward a planet uninhabitable by humans.

          1. newcatty

            Beautifully said. Brings to mind: ( paraphrase) From your lips to the Goddess’ ear. It may come about through unexpected ways .

      4. Patter

        Thanks you ol hippie. Great read. Me thinks hedges would agree about the loss of “saints” (the sacred taboos)

      5. lyman alpha blob

        The author was a conservative, huh? That was a really good read, and right along the lines of McCarraher’s The Enchantments of Mammon book we’ve mentioned a few times, with money being the new god that replaced the old. I liked his quotation of Spengler –

        There is no proletarian, not even a Communist, movement that has not operated in the interest of money…

        – which aligns with what McCarraher said about Marx that was new to me. Marx may have felt that the workers should control the means of production, but he never really questioned that they would be toiling in factories going forward, no matter who owned them.

        Being a conservative may be why he seems to have missed something obvious at the end that he gave the answer to earlier in his article. He concludes with –

        Modernity is not at all short on ideas, arguments, insults, ideologies, strategems, conflicts, world-saving machines or clever TED talks. But it is very short on saints; and how we need their love, wisdom, discipline and stillness amidst the roaring of the Machine. Maybe we had better start looking at how to embody a little of it ourselves.

        – but earlier he already told us what humanity does to its saints –

        God himself walks on Earth and what does humanity do? We torture and kill him.

        Which is why we have a doddering old fool of a placeholder president right now who has served both Mars and Mammon well for his entire career instead of the guy who wanted us all to be healthy and educated and learn to share. One might expect a not completely reformed USian conservative to have a different idea of who the modern saints are.

      6. Boris

        Thanks a lot for that link! I read the essay, was very fascinated, and immediately subscribed to Kingsnorth’s substack. I have a feeling this guy’s writing is exactly what I need at this point.

      7. Tom Stone

        I spent the summer of ’69 hitchiking up the Coast of California, Oregon and Southern Washington.
        I left with $10 in my pocket and returned with $10 in my pocket and a tan.
        I carried two books with me, the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius and Isherwood’s translation of the Gita.

      1. Martin Oline

        Thanks for the link. I thought Devil in a Blue Dress was the only movie based on Walter Mosley’s work.

        1. neo-realist

          Mosley has also been writing for the 80’s crack cocaine crime drama Snowfall on the FX network, and I believe he’s given the show an enormous amount of depth with respect to the politics of the drug trade.

    3. lyman alpha blob

      I recently read modern philosopher John Gray’s book Feline Philosophy. He gives an overview of stoicism and then dismisses it in three short sentences in favor of what can be learned from paying more attention to your cat –

      The Stoic sage insists that while we cannot control the events that happen to us, we can control how we think about them. But this is so only within a narrow margin. A fever, a tsetse fly or a traumatic experience can unsettle the mind at a crucial moment, or for ever.

      Epicureanism and other schools of thought get a similar treatment. Well worth a read for the philosophically inclined, preferably while sitting next to a reclining cat.

  2. PlutoniumKun

    This Overlooked Variable Is the Key to the Pandemic Zeynep Tufecki, The Atlantic.

    This is what is so confusing and confounding about the epidemic. There have been so many puzzles about this – why, for example, has B117 been so devastating in parts of Europe but seems so far to have not had ‘take-off’ in the US? Why did so much of non-Vietnam SE Asia (and India) get off so lightly in the first phase, but are now struggling? Why is it that vaccination seems to have been a major success in terms of preventing another wave in many US regions and the UK, but failed so badly in Chile and Mauritius, which had higher vax rates but still had another surge?

    There may well be some deep underlying reasons, whether cultural, genetic, diet based or whatever, but its hard to avoid the conclusion that a lot of it is purely random and connected to who gets the disease in what circumstances.

    I’m getting the feeling that in the US and UK at least, there is a genuine belief among most scientists that the worst is now over, and that high vax rates will make future surges much more manageable without the need for lockdowns. But as some have noted, the Indian variant is spreading very rapidly in the UK, apparently at the expense of other variants (so overall rates are not going up very fast). It may still have some tricks up its spiky little sleeves.

    1. TroyIA

      Speaking to the K variable I have seen just how strangely this virus is transmitted. I have seen numerous cases where an individual is positive yet despite living in close quarters and sharing the same air no one else in their family is infected. There has even been instances where people required hospitalization due to Covid-19 yet their spouses never became infected.

      That’s not to say I have never seen someone go on to infect their entire family but at least in my circle that is by far the exception and not the rule. Strange indeed.

      1. Cuibono

        i have seen the opposite: many families with at least 50% of members infected and several with 100%.

        Mileage may vary

    2. John Emerson

      High vax rates might be a response to prior high infection rates. This is true in the Dakotas; don’t know about Chile and Mauritius.

  3. John A

    Re Claims of Microwave Attacks Are Scientifically Implausible Foreign Policy

    Yes but the Guardian regurgatated all this microwave wielding evil Russians story a week or so ago. Must be plausible!!!

    1. Michael Fiorillo

      And while not plausible, it’s still mandatory.

      Like Bush II, I looked into Putin’s eyes… but saw, not his soul, but occult power so immense it could dominate news cycles for years on end!

    2. Maxwell Johnston

      Kudos to FP for publishing this excellent debunking by Cheryl Rofer (35 years at Los Alamos…..impressive). Vanity Fair shredded this “Havana Syndrome” nonsense in early 2019, but of course framed it in an anti-Trump manner:

      It will be amusing to see if Vanity Fair takes a fresh look at “Havana Syndrome”, now that “the right people” are in charge at the White House again.

    3. km

      To believe the “eeevil Russian attacks” stories, one must simultaneously believe that Putin has powers bordering on the occult, but at the same time, that he has no clue how to use his superpowers, other than causing some general pointless mayhem that even The Joker would consider to be a waste of his valuable time.

      Let me know when Stoli becomes the best selling beverage in the land, swilled for breakfast, lunch and dinner by every man, woman and child and touted by brainwashed docs on national TV “Remember! Only Stolichnaya has electrolytes, so drink up!”

  4. Eudora Welty

    I lost my 2nd stimulus money card. I got it cancelled & the replacement arrived. When I called the 1-800 number to activate it, I had to listen to about 8 info-type messages, such as, “Are you doing remodeling work? Press 3 for a listing of project providers,” and “°Are you struggling with elder care?, press 4 for financial resources.” After listening to all of the options, I expected to be able to activate my card, but the list of problems/solutions repeated with no option to activate.. I guess I’m naive, but I’m surprise how quickly the powers-thst-be bailed on customer service for stimulus payments, and also how much monetizing was crammed in. I was able to log on to the website and activate my card.

    1. Milton

      Yesterday I received a letter from President Biden that he has fulfilled his campaign promise of a $2000 direct payment to my bank account. His reasoning as follows:
      A key part of the American Rescue Plan is direct payments of $1400 per person for most American households. With the $600 direct payment from December, this brings the total relief payment up to $2000. This fulfills a promise I made to you, and will help get millions of Americans through this crisis.
      Just like Biden’s ‘success’ with vaccinating America relied on his predecessor in the implementation of the initial rollout(OWS), so to has Biden, again, hitched a supposed success to the Trump Administration’s December stimulus. How disingenuous of him to claim his compaign promise has been fulfilled. Indeed.

      1. lyman alpha blob

        I got that same letter.

        If I thought anyone would read it, I’d write back and let CoronaJoe know that I received a larger benefit from the Donald and offer him some lessons in remedial arithmetic.

      2. Geo

        Just got that one too and had a good laugh from it. Biden really is the coattail president. From his early days as a renown plagiarist, to his modern rebranding and Obama’s buddy, and now as the guy taking credit for what Trump started.

        I think one of the most pernicious myths taught to children is the idea that hard work and skill will help you get ahead. In truth, as our leadership class proves daily, hitching your wagon to already successful people and taking credit for others accomplishments is what actually gets you ahead in our marketing-over-quality culture. Doing the hard work seems to be detrimental to career advancement. Talent seems to be a firing offense.

        1. newcatty

          Yes, and also include “hitching your wagon” to exploitation of not just “successful people”, but to the many people who work under the “mentorship” and the “guidance” of the superior or “”boss” above them in almost any work situation. Examples: Academia, undergraduate and graduate students do much of the research…who usually receives the credit and the funding ( paycheck) for the project? Include tracing assistants and “work study ” plebs. Any government job, the person with any position above another will do the same. Banks, medical institutions… Will stop here.

          There are exceptions to the rule of a good employee is a compliant one. There are some persons with power over others who have what is often discussed here: integrity, generosity , joy in helping others. But, the lack of these characteristics in most powerful people is a reflection of the degradation of American society. Even the exceptional ones will be willing to use their underlings, rationalizing that they are, indeed, helping that “student, worker, ” to gain that shiny goal. If the underling is objectively being used, well, that is not our fault. It’s the system, baby!

          1. newcatty

            Oops, Read “teaching asistants” in above comment, not “tracing assistants”. Though, sometimes that job description might fit . (:

      3. Lambert Strether Post author

        > A key part of the American Rescue Plan is direct payments of $1400 per person for most American households. With the $600 direct payment from December, this brings the total relief payment up to $2000. This fulfills a promise I made to you, and will help get millions of Americans through this crisis.

        Doubling down. It’s a nice trick to say that “this fulfills a promise I made to you” when $600 of the promise was fulfilled under the Trump Administration. Amazingly shameless.

    1. Louis Fyne

      CDC should be grilled. CDC, with the help of the media, destroyed the credibility of all science institutions (among the general audience) for the next 10 years with their Keystone cop approach to the science of covid.

      IMO, your mileage may vary

      1. Stephen V.

        Also mentioned in the ABCNews piece is the er, grilling of Fauci by Sen. Rand Paul. While Paul is famous for saying some rather stupid stuff, I felt he was dead on here & worth a look. Here is the unedited version–
        ABC protects the Conventional Narrative by dismissing Paul before he opens his mouth.
        Paul mentions this article as one of his sources:
        I would also recommend podcasts by Bret Weinsten who as an evolutionary biologist has been on this topic of lab leak for many months (including of all things a Bill Maher appearance).. Both of these people are quick to point out the lack of direct evidence but Paul’s follow the money approach may be as close as we’ll ever get to certainty.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Adding a link to the comment I previously made:

          We know know that Covid was circulating months earlier than previously thought; I have linked to two studies. In Italy, Covid was circulating in September 2019. And infectious genetic progenitors of Covid-19 were circulating worldwide months before the Wuhan outbreak.

          That, I think, makes Wuhan Lab + Wuhan Market, besides the coincidence of names, a case of mere 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.

          Following the money will be useless because there’s nothing no truth to get close to.

  5. PlutoniumKun

    BREAKING: Hamas Fires Iranian-Made Cruise Missiles for First Time, Five Israelis Killed Tikun Olam

    Interesting if true. There has been plenty of evidence of information swapping between the Houthi, Hizbollah and some Palestinian groups, without or without direct Iranian help. The Houthis seem to have a lot of ex-army engineers who are capable of putting together some pretty effective long range weaponry with a variety of off the peg parts. The Israeli’s have put most of their effort into stopping unguided rockets – a mix of even very simple cruise missiles and drones may be a very different matter, especially if they are fired from very close range.

    It seems that no matter how hard the Israeli’s crack down, they just can’t finish off Palestinian resistence. Maybe one day they’ll regret this course.

    1. Louis Fyne

      —It seems that no matter how hard the Israeli’s crack down, they just can’t finish off Palestinian resistence. Maybe one day they’ll regret this course.—

      Well to be blunt, time isn’t on the side of Jewish Israelis. Secularism + much higher birthrate among Arabs + the iron fist tactics of occupation + economic stagnation in the occupied territories = a fuse that one shouldn’t try to light.

      my armchair view is that the Israeli Establishment is in love with the idea that “more technology/technocrat-ism can solve every solution” as much as the USA Establishment.

      1. ambrit

        I’ll counter with the observation that, roughly speaking, the Israeli Establishment is heavily enmeshed with the American Establishment.

      2. hunkerdown

        All PMC establishments are all alike. Each hereditary establishment is unprofessionally unmanaged in its own way.

        Not only time, but they are very much on the back foot right now and could be weakened persistently if they are prevented from taking control of the discourse. I think we could drive the terminally online neocons right into the sea by pushing now and giving less than no quarter.

      3. chuck roast

        An addend…the peculiarities of the Orthodox. They are serious breeders. They refuse work and are unproductive. They won’t serve in the IDF. They have a low educational quotient. They are extremely high-maintenance. Add it up…they may well go to war with the secular Jews before they war with the Arabs.

    2. Fireship

      I abhor violence, but I fear that getting some proper hardware is the only way Palestinians are going to prevent the reoccurrence of the massacres and war-crimes of 2014 when 547 Palestinian children were murdered by Israel. In the same way that cycles of violence and abuse are perpetuated down the generations in dysfunctional families, I think the Israelis are dealing with their own traumas by adopting the methods of their former oppressors. A people can only take so much degradation before they have nothing left to lose.

      1. The Rev Kev

        ‘I think the Israelis are dealing with their own traumas by adopting the methods of their former oppressors.’

        A coupla years ago I read about an Israeli officer admitting that some of the tactics that they used were the same as those used by the Wehrmacht against them during WW2. Must have been a very uncomfortable thought that.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Memory is the WW2 survivor immigration largely stopped by 1960. I have a book on politics there, but its a bit out of date. The later immigrants were composed of Jews who had already dispersed in the Americas and were eager to take up the settler agenda. The Kibbutzes (not white washing but in comparison) gave way to Likudniks. Why did American Jews not become divided between political parties? The simple answer is the would be Republicans moved to Israel after 67 and 73. Then there are the Soviet emigres. The immigration surges in a country as small as Israel can radically change their politics.

          As far as 1948 goes, it was a bit of a wild west situation, so I don’t get too bothered by the failure to build an encompassing, plural republic.

        2. JTMcPhee

          Go look back in the same source the israel ites use to justify their claim to “Greater Israel,” the first 10 or so books of what we goyim call the Old Testament. Chock full of stories of murderous deceit, murderous aggression, putting whole tribes to the sword for daring to live on patches of land long before the Israel ites arrived with their claims that YHWH gave it all to them and helped them with a flaming sword and “vengeance” visited upon people whose only apparent offense was their presence in claimed lands. Woe to Jericho…

          I’d say the leaders/rulers/oligarchs of Israel and their helpers in groups like evangelical so-called Christians are setting things up for a massive fall. Leaving those rulers with between 200 and 600 nuclear weapons to bring down the pillars of the Mideast (and farther afield) house like their old hero, Samson…

          I’d offer that there are interesting insights and parallels between Netanyahu and his old partner in crime, Yasir Arafat. It’s a looong article in The Atlantic, from 2005: “ In a Ruined Country: How Yasir Arafat destroyed Palestine.” Same cult-like adherence to a destructive, corrupt, greedy but “nationalist” figure who masters in playing the angles and public presentation.

          1. km

            The irony is that Israel is a secular state. In fact, Herzl and other early Zionists had no particular attachment to Palestine, to put it mildly.

            And of course some religious Jews, the Satmar Hassidim prominently among them, consider Israel to be literally satanic, and they refuse to have anything to do with it.

      2. km

        I dislike violence as a rule, but I don’t blame the participants in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising for fighting back, and for fighting back like sons of [familyblogs].

        1. Temporarily Sane

          Absolutely. Eschewing violence is all well and good but sometimes it is a necessary option, particularly when a weaker group is being subject to violence by a much stronger group. Palestinians in the occupied territories are in a similar position. That’s why violent resistance to occupation is legit under international law.

    3. David

      It’s hard to know how to take this. In principle, cruise missiles are a great idea, because they fly very low, are impossible to defeat with ABM systems, and very difficult to detect with air defence radars. On the other hand, their actual effectiveness is almost entirely dependent on how good the guidance system is. Almost nothing, so far as I can tell, is known about the effectiveness of Iranian guidance technology, or even really what that is. I think it’s likely that there is an IN system, and that they can use GPS, but US and Russian cruise missiles use radar maps of the terrain, through a system called Terrain Contour Matching, which compares the terrain below the missile with a radar map which has been pre-loaded, and changes the course of the missile accordingly. I have no idea whether the Iranians have access to this kind of technology, and I suspect not many people do. But it would make all the difference.
      It’s also with saying that even TCM is not foolproof. In the 80s, US cruise missiles on test flights went off course because of new buildings, motorways and bridges and even snow on the ground.

      1. The Rev Kev

        I think that Iranian guidance technology has improved by leaps and bounds in recent years. After Soleimani was murdered at Baghdad Airport a year ago, part of the Iranian response was salvos of missiles that hit two American bases in Iraq. They were precise enough to hit individual buildings and there was nothing random about those missiles that did hit. And the missile technology that allowed the Houthis to hit Saudi targets was probably, in part, received from Iranian specialist too. All this was a helluva message to the Pentagon-

          1. The Rev Kev

            And the US could not stop them at all. The Iranians had to warn the US to get their troops out of the way of those missiles and even with this advanced warning the US still had nothing to stop them with.

            Hell, the Israelis could not stop that spent Syrian ballistic missile landing near their nuke facility at Douma in spite of all their defenses and the so-called “Iron Dome.” Those Iranian ballistic missiles could be powered by wound up rubber-bands for all we know but if they hit their targets, I would call that a win on their part.

            The important lesson is that I think that it caused the Pentagon to back off a bit as precision guided missiles is a whole new ball game for them. You could almost make a mock slogan out of that as in “Iranian Missiles for Peace!”

              1. The Rev Kev

                Yeah, Diomna aka the Shimon Peres Negev Nuclear Research Center. That’s what you get posting before checking the facts.

                1. The Rev Kev

                  Oops – I did it again. That is Dimona. Just off to write that out a hundred times to remember it.

      2. PlutoniumKun

        I guess it depends on what is meant by cruise missiles – it may be that they were something simpler, essentially suicide drones. But the Iranians have reverse engineered mini turbojets for their anti-ship missiles – I recall reading somewhere that quite a few of them have ended up on the weapons black market (which may of course be an Iranian cover for direct support). But even a motorbike engine can be used to make to a pretty effective drone/missile.

        As for guidance, so far as I know there are pretty simple off-the peg systems using GPS and mobile phone signalling that can be utilised for drones and, presumably, home made cruise missiles. They may not be able to home on moving targets or hit a very small precise target, but I would imagine they’d be more than accurate enough to hit something big, like a power station or military base. Or given the type of casualties inflicted, Hamas might be content to just hit anything urban.

        The Azarbaijanis used small suicide drones with great effectiveness in their recent war – those drones appear to have been Israeli and Turkish and used simple pattern identifying software to home in on moving targets. The Iranians seem to have some pretty good software engineers, I would guess they are pretty good at enhancing existing technologies. Even if the Iranian government was reluctant to get too involved, I’d imagine there are plenty of small Iranian companies that would welcome a private contract from one of the main movements in the Middle East, and it seems that if one gets it, they all get it.

        1. Procopius

          The Iranians demonstrated pretty extraordinary accuracy with the rockets they fired against Erbil and Al Asad Air Base, after Suleimani’s murder. It was commented on at the time, but of course our media did not want to dwell on the implications. I think those were ballistic missiles, but the same technology should be applicable to cruise missiles. I wish they’d start Bibi’s trial.

      3. hunkerdown

        > Almost nothing, so far as I can tell, is known about the effectiveness of Iranian guidance technology

        As a lower bound, assume Abqaiq can be repeated on demand. Also assume Iran have access to most free/open-source software code and a certain amount of access to fast hardware to run it on. OpenCV is a well-regarded computer vision toolkit that does offer a contour-finding kernel among its many tools. Smartphone and set-top-box SoCs offer quite a bit of video processing horsepower and are widely available, at least under normal commercial conditions*. If they don’t have a mode of navigation for when GPS (or GLONASS, or Galileo, and wasn’t China putting up terrestrial navigation satellites too?) is unavailable, I see no reason they couldn’t make a play for it, given a few engineer-months and the name as their engineering brief.

        * Because wild speculation is always fun, I have to wonder whether the Blob are actually commandeering chip manufacturing capacity, using “new COVID normal” product demand mix rebalancing as a plausible pretext, to both secure their own access to chips and prevent others from getting them… I can’t think of any other reason for the State Department to surrender the ruling ideology so thoroughly by being so intimately involved in the capacity management of a private corporation as to demand weekly reports, as was linked a few weeks ago on NC.

    4. Paradan

      I’m pretty skeptical about this due to the current push for war against Iran from various factions.
      Maybe by this afternoon we’ll get a report that 122mm rockets are a Russian design..

  6. zagonostra

    >The struggle for the survival of US democracy – Martin Wolf, FT

    There is a word for a political organisation in which the prime duty of members is absolute loyalty to a leader who defines what is true and right: Führerprinzip (“leadership principle”). The Republican’s wholesale embrace of Trump’s Big Lie is a perfect instance of it…the Republicans are no longer a normal democratic party. They are increasingly an anti-democratic cult with a would-be despot as their leader.

    I think the recent dust-up featuring Rose McGowan demonstrates that “absolute loyalty” (cult-like obeisance) is not the exclusive province of those who identify as Republican and support Trump.

    Biden needs to turn a decent approval rating (by Trump’s standards) into an overwhelming one…The only hope of doing this, Biden understands, is to prove that government can act effectively, in the interests of all. He has done so through the spectacular vaccine rollout.

    Really, that’s all he has to do? How about at bare minimum keeping his word on lowering the eligibility for Medicare or the public option. It seems that CV19 is the sole concern of the administration when it comes to the health of citizens. The cavalier coarse contempt that the elite hold the poor couldn’t be more clear than in the lack of affordable healthcare. It should be free at point of service like civilized countries provide for their citizens.

    It is now about protecting the core of democracy – peaceful acceptance of electoral outcomes…
    If that were to go in the US, would-be autocrats everywhere would have carte blanche to do as they pleased.

    The article begins and ends on setting up a false opposition between “democracy” and “autocracy.” It is curious that “oligarchy” never once was mentioned. And, whether we can actually and accurately call the political system we live under as “democratic” has been already covered in many other NC linked articles as well as the powerful and well connected political elites having “carte blanche to do as they please.

    1. ex-PFC Chuck

      “It is curious that “oligarchy” never once was mentioned.”

      I’m shocked, shocked! that a writer for the FT would not mention oligarchy.

    2. tegnost

      It seems that CV19 is the sole concern of the administration when it comes to the health of citizens.

      The economy is the only focus, thus no more stimulus, no min wage increase…just get back to work and peacefully accept that our rulers have carte blanche to do whatever they please

    3. Wotan

      You are right being critical of M Wolf – I have wasted too much time reading his stories for years; seldom right but never in doubt

  7. diptherio

    From “The Slow Demise of Loconomics”

    Between the unions and foundations I had conversations with at various conferences, I got this funny feeling that they didn’t want workers to have ownership. They’re totally willing to give grants and money to push the status quo a little, but to redesign the structure didn’t seem of interest to them.

    Unions and foundations not interested in fundamental structural changes to benefit workers. Color me shocked. /s

  8. Toshiro_Mifune

    The numbers tell us that older Americans are getting vaccinated in high numbers. But lots of them are conservative Republicans. So what gives?

    I’m going to state the obvious here: Maybe because the representation of Fox News/Conservative Republicans sold via the media (including Fox) isn’t actually representative.

    From later in the thread;
    Hugo argues that people are less gullible than we think …
    Apparently this only applies to Fox viewers and not the author’s own gullibility in buying into a representation of Fox viewers that is sold by ‘liberal’ leaning media outlets.

    Still later in the thread;
    It’s alway[sp] easy to see the other side as a monolith – things are always messier in reality, and every ideology has its awkward points.
    Just waiting for the epiphanic moment here; “Maybe outlets that represent “The Other Side” as a monolith are also a bunch of liars”. Perhaps one might question their motives for this.

    Short version – Author mistakes a subset of the superset as representative of the whole, spends some time on twitter attempting to distract from this obvious error via linguistic gymnastics and fails to make larger connections.

    1. fresno dan

      May 12, 2021 at 7:38 am
      I agree. I would also add that I still remember being in school and getting the Polio vaccine. It was understood as an unalloyed good, and no one questioned the usefulness of the vaccine in protecting one from a terrible disease. I think the old take the vaccine because they know how much peril they are in from Covid, while many younger people believe that the danger to themselves from Covid is miniscule.
      There has also been an anti-vax movement for some time, and I don’t think it can be attributed to one party, although it can be for partisan purposes.

    2. Chromex

      I will be 69 this year which I suppose qualifies me as an “older American”. I hang with others , many older than me. None of us are conservative republicans, although I will admit to being the most “leftward” ( former SDS RYM2- in my mind I was right then and am right now) we all despise the jingoism of Fox and most of us see through the “perspective” of MSDNC and the narcotic mainstream media. And we are all vaccinated, don’t know anyone my age that is not. I do not “live in a bubble” and have several “conservative” acquaintances. They are all vaccinated as well.

      1. flora

        Kind of odd none of the MSM stories or charts show the political independents’ views. Independents are approx one third of the US voting population. I guess independents’ opinions don’t fit a narrow MSM story line. /heh

      2. rl

        I work primarily with librarians in the 55–70 age range (for my part, I am well under 30 y.o.) and have privately recognized that my colleagues very much do “live in a bubble,” only it is not by any means a “right-wing” or Republican-voting bubble.

        It seems to me that (people who think of themselves as, who “identify as”?) “information professionals” are especially prone to information “bubbling.” If memory serves, this was once called the sin of pride.

        An interesting infographic: “Democrats vs. Republicans by occupations

        1. Laura in So Cal

          So my parents are in the Republican voting, Fox viewing, Church going etc. demographic. They are both 79. They were both vaccinated as soon as they could get it. All their older friends are also vaccinated (Mostly from 65-85).

          It is pure risk reward analysis for them:

          1. COVID is more dangerous for the elderly…not just death, but getting really sick and/or being hospitalized. Most of them know at least tangentially (friend of friend, church member etc.) of someone who died or was hospitalized so it is real to them.
          2. They are mostly retired and don’t spend their days consumed with work and child-rearing like the rest of us. Their social life is a huge part of their life so they are highly motivated to do anything that can help them get back to being with their friends & family, eating out etc.
          3. While the potential short-term side-effects (allergic reaction, clotting issues) are concerning, this demographic understands that life is finite, and they have dealt with their own mortality for the most part.
          4. They aren’t worried about the long term effects. Obviously, fertility isn’t an issue and the potential for something like an auto-immune disease in a few years is kind of moot when you are 80 years old.

          My feeling is that the fact that young people aren’t getting vaccinated has to do with the same risk reward analysis with the opposite effect.

    3. Geo

      I have family i visit occasionally in a well-to-do retirement village with a golf course. Lots of people there are die hard Trump Republicans and seem to embrace the stereotypes and even turn them up to eleven in many cases. Yet, they all got the vaccines and followed social distancing guidelines before that.

      Reasons from what I’ve observed:

      1. It effects them. That is all that matters. Even Fox News informed them that elderly people were at highest risk. They got the vaccine because they don’t want to die. It’s quite simple really.

      Even my neighbor I often share fun stories about here who thinks Biden and Kamala are commies, Antifa is going to murder her, and listens to Tucker and Hannity every night (I can hear it blasting from her window) got the vaccine. She literally didn’t believe it was real at first, then only bad in “socialist countries”, then only in “socialist New York”. But, when our landlord was taken out by it for weeks and others in her circle became hospitalized with it she believed it was actually a real problem and not just a propaganda campaign by the globalist liberal media to make her beloved Trump look bad.

  9. timbers

    It’s Time to Socialize Big Pharma The Jacobin

    I work for a Big Pharma company. Yesterday, I received this email in my company email. Names have been removed.


    Message from Global Policy and Government Affairs

    Dear Colleagues,

    Last week, XXXXXXXX reached out to invite you to learn more and directly advocate to Congress about H.R. 3, a bill introduced in the House of Representatives that threatens our innovation-based business and our ability to deliver innovative medicines to our patients. If enacted, H.R. 3 would fundamentally change Medicare and drug reimbursement and allow the federal government to set prices for medicines in public and private markets based on prices in other countries, also known as international reference pricing.

    This legislation is almost identical to another proposal that was introduced at the end of 2019. If enacted, this proposal would transform the market-based system that has made the U.S. the global leader in developing innovative, life-saving treatments and cures. Estimates project this legislation would cost the biopharmaceutical industry $1.5 trillion over the next decade and almost 1 million U.S. jobs.

    Please consider learning more and speaking out. Below are actions you can take:

    If you were not able to join, I hope you will tune into the recording of our U.S. Policy and Government Affairs team’s webinar about H.R. 3 to learn more about this proposed policy.

    If you haven’t already done so, I hope you will make your voice heard by taking a few minutes today to write to your congressional representatives about this harmful proposed policy. We’ve already seen almost 1,000 XXXX colleagues submit more than 2,500 letters to their lawmakers about H.R. 3. Your elected officials will benefit from your perspective as employees of the pharmaceutical industry.

    If you are interested in learning more about H.R. 3 and other public policy efforts and advocacy opportunities, please join Innovation Advocates, our employee grassroots program.

    Thank you for taking the time to learn more and engage in this important debate.


    XXXXXXXXX, Senior Vice President

    Global Policy and Government Affairs

    1. pck

      Yikes! How would you say your colleagues reacted to that email? Also, are folks talking much about the potential TRIPS waiver?

      1. a different chris

        The email says “A”.

        But everybody knows the message is “B” – we’re gonna cut costs if this happens, and it ain’t gonna be our salaries and bennies that get hit.

        And as far as “reacting to it”, nobody is in the least surprised I suspect.

    2. ambrit

      I would ask, how effective is the company “compliance” algorithm? Can the company track individual “compliance” with the company mandates? That’s where the coming list of “downsized” employees will come from.
      One cannot be too cynical….

  10. The Rev Kev

    Photo from a friend but yeah people in Virginia are LOSING THEIR NOODLES over this gas shortage which isn’t really a gas shortage. Where are you driving in the next few days that you need what looks like 35 gallons of spare gasoline within reach in jerrycans???’

    Well at least they weren’t loading it into the back of an old Ford Pinto.

    1. WhoaMolly


      It’s almost as if there’s some kind of madness in the air the last couple days. Simple exchanges go sideways, misunderstandings proliferate, emotions spike…

      Lambert’s request to ‘be excellent and excellent to each other…’ is a good one.

      1. Return of the Bride of Joe Biden

        Spoken like a true snowflake.

        That was intended as sardonic humor.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      This was an episode of Its Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Buy gas and resell it when prices go up! Then when there are crazy lines, deliver the gas door to door that’s been hoarded. Genius!

    3. LaRuse

      There is a photo circulating in Richmond, VA spaces of a crew of guys filling a 250 gal tank of gasoline, presumably to resell – strapped to a flatbed trailer. How crazy/desperate do you have to be to try reselling 250 gallons worth of potentially explosive gas around on a flatbed?
      It was armaggeddon-like here just south of Richmond yesterday. I work in a utility and we had been keyed into Colonial since Friday and I had filled all of our vehicles up on Sunday. When Gov. Northam issued the State of Emergency yesterday, it was like a hurricane had just blown through – cars lined up for half a mile at any station that still had gasoline. One station has been busted for selling gas for $6.99 a gallon – AND they sold out even at that price.
      The truth is that supply isn’t that badly constrained. Colonial’s laterals are functional. Tanker trucks are moving and had their DOT driving limits waived for the duration of the pipeline closure. There were tankers sitting at a couple of stations (so were waiting customers) I passed this morning as I took my daughter to school. I think if Northam hadn’t announced the SoE, things would have stayed pretty calm and none of this insanity (like the couple packing their SUV with tanks pictured above – which is also from the Richmond area I believe) would have broken out.
      And the panic was not limited to gasoline – last night our local CVS had a line wrapped around the exterior of the building and a line wending through much of the interior of the store. I asked someone why (I was just buying deodorant) and they said they thought fuel shortages might cause drug shortages if the trucks stopped. I hadn’t considered that and I still don’t think it is serious concern, but evidently my neighbors all think it is a real concern. Also, paper products were flying off the shelf again at CVS.

      1. Carolinian

        If this is about a ransom then maybe Colonial should just pay it.

        And then all those hacker whizz kids at the NSA etc.need to get serious about preventing this from happening again rather than Putin, Putin, Putin. Even if it really was Putin it’s on us for not requiring vital infrastructure companies to protect themselves.

        One also wonders why gas stations aren’t required to enforce limits against hoarders and speculators.

        1. expr

          secure software is VERY hard and expensive so it does not exist because everyone buys the less expensive product. And users can defeat almost may system with stupidity or malfeasance.
          For an idea of the kind of things that go wrong check out
          Risks List (

        2. The Rev Kev

          Seems like your idea of filling up your tank when you first heard about this pipeline was a good piece of foresight.

        3. Phillip Cross

          Ban buying and selling cryptocurrency for real money. Ransomware problem solved.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > they said they thought fuel shortages might cause drug shortages if the trucks stopped. I hadn’t considered that and I still don’t think it is serious concern, but evidently my neighbors all think it is a real concern. Also, paper products were flying off the shelf again at CVS

        New phrase: “Supply chain anxiety.”

        And not unwarranted!

    4. griffen

      It’s pretty intense locally in the Greenville & Spartanburg region of SC. Apparently Charlotte is running pretty dry , maybe just 1/3 of stations have it per CNBC early today.

      I’m fortunate, got 6 gallons yesterday. These are clowns running this pipeline, I tell ya.

    5. FluffytheObeseCat

      Maybe not in a Pinto, but did you note how they were laying the jerrycans in flat on their sides. Like the caps never, ever leak?

      1. wilroncanada

        Hope they refrained from consuming their pinto beans. The gas attack would be epic.

    6. Aumua

      Seems like a lot of Americans are kind of expecting the sh*t to hit the fan at any moment, and given the past year or few I can’t say I blame them too much. However it’s important to factor in the effect of brainwashing rhetoric coming from the hard right media. Anyone who is tuned into those channels is getting a daily dose of paranoia and suspicion pounded into their brains. along the lines of: America is literally on the verge of total collapse right now, and that is exclusively the fault of the far left, radical communist Democrats, especially now that they are in power.

      Now I wouldn’t necessarily try to claim that the U.S. isn’t on the verge of collapse, but I would be coming from a slightly different perspective probably.

      1. newcatty

        Cynical perspective? Why did Virginia’s governor declare a National State of Emergency in this event? Guess it’s a matter of opinion, but fairly quickly , too. He and the PTB in the state know very well what the reactions would be by the public. If a state of calm was desired, then why the obvious and opposite executive leadership missing? Rekindle fear and panic in the population. Not all would be vulnerable to a relentless propaganda campaign to achieve that emotional state. They know that many will. Add on the CVC lines of people worried about their drugs not being there for them soon and the related scare of having to use leaves or old pieces of socks for tp…the recipe for panic was leading to the newest school version of whipping up a pot of despair and fear. Keeping your head , when there is misery and anxiety around us, is not easy. As Lambert said:
        Be excellent and excellent to each other.

        1. Aumua

          There are certainly many factors at play, and as I said I don’t really blame people for being on edge.

  11. Jason

    Panel suggests WHO should have more power to stop pandemics

    GENEVA — A panel of independent experts who reviewed the World Health Organization’s response to the coronavirus pandemic says the U.N. health agency should be granted “guaranteed rights of access” in countries to investigate emerging outbreaks, a contentious idea that would give it more powers and require member states to give up some of theirs.

    1. Jason

      Panel blasts COVID-19 response: ‘Global political leadership was absent’

      “The Independent Panel has found weak links at every point in the chain of preparedness and response. Preparation was inconsistent and underfunded. The alert system was too slow — and too meek,” the panelists wrote. “Global political leadership was absent.”

      Going forward, the panel urged the creation of a Global Health Threats Council led by heads of state. Those heads of state, they said, should adopt a special declaration at the U.N. General Assembly in September to radically prioritize pandemic preparedness.

    1. FreeMarketApologist

      As the pandemic unfolded in NYC (and some other large urban areas), and residents with second homes left the city and bunkered down elsewhere, there was a fair amount of shaming going on: “you’re not a real New Yorker, you left the city”, “these people should stay here and help”, etc.

      Where is the shaming of Musk and compatriots who are essentially planning to do the same as things get worse?

  12. The Rev Kev

    “McDonald’s partners with the Biden Administration to provide trusted, independent information on COVID-19 vaccines|

    Really? Is MacDonalds a trusted institution in America? A place whose word you will take about matters to do with your physical health? Maybe they can make MacDonalds a place where people can go get their vaccinations from. Maybe they can still ask “Would you like fries with that?” as people get their jab. That campaign ad slogan of “We Can Do This” seems a bit hoary though. I heard that originally they were going to use “Yes We Can” as a campaign slogan but found that it had been taken.

    1. Keith

      Sadly, it is. And people will need more than fries forna jab, perhaps a chicken sandwich meal deal.

      But idiocracy is on the March (yet we want these people’s votes counted).

    2. griffen

      Someone might chime in ahead of me. I’m shocked that was not a link to the Onion!

      If they can make a McRib sandwich, there is nothing the Golden arches can’t do.

    3. Arizona Slim

      A high school job at McDonalds taught me a lot about the connection between proper nutrition and health. Long story short: My health really took a nosedive while I worked there.

      So, when it comes to trust, I have none for McDonalds.

  13. John Steinbach

    I’ve searched in vain for any MSM context about what precipitated the current Israeli Palestinian crisis. You have to search diligently to find any mention about Sheikh Jarrah, the old Palestinian neighborhood in Jerusalem slated for imminent mass expulsions. Or, the months and months of attacks by Kach-inspired Israeli mobs indiscriminately attacking Palestinians.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Then you probably have not hear that Israel are also holding the biggest military maneuvers in their history for the next month which has caused Hezbollah to go on high alert as military maneuvers can very quickly transition into military operations-

    2. Jason

      what precipitated the current Israeli Palestinian crisis

      The current “Israeli Palestinian” crisis?

      It’s been an ongoing ethnic cleansing and apartheid project from the beginning. It’s not only grossly inaccurate to refer to it as a “crisis” – it’s absolutely unconscionable.

      1. Jason

        Adding, we need to start to shame people who use inaccurate language to describe atrocities. I’ll start now:

        It is not even remotely accurate to refer to this as a crisis, which implies something it is not. It is a nuclear-armed bully destroying a weaker entity, all the while claiming it and its “people” are the victims.

        Why are you supporting the bully? Shame on you.

        1. Jason

          Adding, I understand you were actually speaking out against the horror. I think it is of utmost importance to use our language carefully. The narrative is the control. My “shaming” is intended to illustrate this point.

          Also, I’m personally not prone to “shaming” anyone, and given my issues most who know me would say. “Jason shaming someone? That’s rich.”

          So again, this is about the larger issue and the language. We have to change the “zeitgeist” around this, just as we have to change the zeitgeist around decades of neoliberal economic thinking.

          If we can shame billionaires and pretentious PMC types and the politicos who support them, we can shame the Zionist project and the politicos who support it.

          Yeah, I know. That’s all of them.

          1. kareninca

            I don’t think that anyone whom you hope to shame is likely to care at all about your attempts to shame them. Why would they?

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I’ve searched in vain for any MSM context about what precipitated the current Israeli Palestinian crisis.

      I saw bits of it go by on the Twitter, but I didn’t find anything tying it all together.

      As I understand it, an Israeli “settler” family had laid claim to a Jerusalem Palestinian family’s house and land. A court case ensued, and the Palestinans lost. They then appealed, and the case is now on hold. Meanwhile, the “settler” family went to kick out the Palestinians, were obnoxious doing so (“If we don’t, someone else will,” paraphrasing) and were video-ed. The video then went viral.

      Then came Ramadan….

  14. PlutoniumKun

    Break Up Big Defense The American Conservative

    I know its The American Conservative, and so not exactly mainstream right wing thought, but the fact that a magazine of that name is openly discussing the advantages of nationalisation just shows how we are seeing some very big paradigm shifts at work right now.

    Nationalization—full or partial—should also be on the table. State ownership of defense companies has gone well for many European countries, and if we’re not going to get the benefits of competition either way, it makes more sense to treat defense production as a public utility than a series of private monopolies. Even senior Pentagon officials have acknowledged as much, even if they’re less than enthusiastic about the prospect: last summer, Air Force acquisition head Will Roper warned that if the industrial base eroded any further, the U.S. may need to nationalize advanced aviation.

    The worst case scenario of course is a sort of nationalisation by stealth, whereby the government takes all the risks while a management and ownership gets all the benefits (it looks like Boeing may go this way). It may be that even fiscal conservatives are realising that there are worse things than public ownership.

    1. workingclasshero

      the american conservative has been consistently anti war and anti empire since probably long before the turn of the century.they have a paleo conservative outlook

    2. Aumua

      They’re talking about nationalization of the war machi- I mean, the defense industry? Yikes, I’m not sure where I would file that one, but probably not under ‘socialism’.

      1. orlbucfan

        Just substitute ‘war dept. business interests’ for ‘dept of defense’ and you will get their message.

  15. DJG, Reality Czar

    My Pandemic Year by Ann Larson. I highly recommend the report from someone working as an “essential worker” at a time of slogans and misbehavior. She is also highly attuned to her own moral dilemmas–which is bracing, indeed. (Given the self-congratulatory tone of so much U.S. writing.)

    In my neighborhood in Chicago, the people at the grocery stores have been stalwarts. For the most part, the design of the independents isn’t conducive to safety distancing and never has been. The design of the Jewel, a local chain of long standing in Chicago, is easier to navigate, but the aisles are also a reminder of how much U.S. food isn’t really food–there’s the typical forty-foot aisle of snack chips and dips, which I’ve managed to avoid during the pandemic, although, understandably, others have not.

  16. KFritz

    “Why Older People Have Better Control of Their Emotions” may have the same answer as the old New York City chestnut–“How do you get to Carnegie Hall?”


    1. flora

      Why do articles like that never mention the natural decline with age in the hormone driven mating/child rearing instinct of younger people? It’s a mystery.

      1. David B Harrison

        Yes I was thinking the same thing, Because I work in retail I have friends and acquaintances that are in the most hormonal stage of their young lives and of course I think back when I was at that stage(I’m 56 now).The breeding hormones poisoning their brains are in control some or most of the time. Without social pressure to keep the hormonal behavior in check bad choices are made and a lot of suffering ensues.

      2. lordkoos

        I was wondering the same thing. The piece was intended as click-bait, I suppose.

        1. BlakeFelix

          Testosterone is a helluva drug, I like to say. To paraphrase Rick James in one of the funniest skits of the Chappelle show.

    2. Yves Smith

      I had to work years to be able to express anger verbally, as opposed to have a stony face and be totally blank mentally. So having been previously over-controlled, I’m not on board with control as a virtue. Some people deserve to be called out on their nonsense.

      And this praise of control as equalling maturity, as opposed to cowardice, is consistent with the PMC/Dem tendency to denigrate opposition as rudeness or worse. It’s a societal effort to counter the Fredrick Douglass observation that power never concedes unless there is a demand.

  17. The Rev Kev

    “Law enforcement help capture loose zebra in middle Tennessee”

    So, so stupid this. I can just visualize it now-

    ‘Hey, that zebra is pretty agitated and scared. In fact, its getting pretty freaked out. What are we gunna do?’

    Police: ‘I know! I’ll shoot it a coupla times with my taser. That should help!’

  18. zagonostra

    >Krystal and Saagar: Fauci CAUGHT HIDING Key Facts From Senate On Lab Leak Hypothesis

    It seems like a slow unraveling of CV19 origins is taking place in “respectable” news media. What is being released in piecemeal fashion is what I’ve been reading for over a year but has not penetrated the MSM membrane until just this past week with the publication of Nicholas Wade’s (of NYT) article in Bulletin of Atomic Sciencest.

    1. Judith

      Thanks for calling my attention to the Nicholas Wade article. I just finished reading it and his argument is quite persuasive. Interestingly, Wade first self-published this piece on Medium. It was then picked up by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > his argument is quite persuasive.

        Only if you don’t look closely at the claim being made. As I wrote:

        We know know that Covid was circulating months earlier than previously thought; I have linked to two studies. In Italy, Covid was circulating in September 2019. And infectious genetic progenitors of Covid-19 were circulating worldwide months before the Wuhan outbreak.

        That, I think, makes Wuhan Lab + Wuhan Market, besides the coincidence of names, a case of mere 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. PlutoniumKun

          I think the jury is still out on this. There are certainly indicators that Covid may have been spreading for some time before November 2019, but I don’t think there is any concensus on this yet – the early Italian cases are based on what I understand to be quite weak data. They may have now been superceeded (I haven’t been following this closely recently), but the lineage studies I’ve seen pointed quite firmly to an October/November patient zero, alternative studies still all under the category of ‘interesting, but not proven’.

          It also has to be explained as to why the main Chinese outbreak didn’t occur during the ‘ideal’ season of early winter (when it gets cold and everyone goes indoors) if it was already circulating so widely. I’d also question as to why the disease was so geographically focused on Wuhan if it was circulating for so long before – lets not forget that most early Asian outbreaks were identified as being travellers from Wuhan (especially in South Korea and Taiwan). If that study was correct, I would have expected multiple outbreaks in early winter in China – that simply isn’t what we saw happen. Perhaps its because of my background in geography, and my early reading of William McNeills book on the history of epidemics, but I do think that looking at overall patterns of movement gives us the firmest data of what may have happened.

          I’m in despair of late as to how the science around Covid has become so politicised – I mean every element, from the vaccine research trials to investigations into its origins. Like most people, I don’t have the skills or time to interrogate every study in intense detail, and unfortunately I’ve lost trust in many journals and many elements of the peer review process, at least as it applies to Covid. I find myself falling back repeatedly to Occams Razor. I still think everything points to a Wuhan origin in late 2019, but I’m beginning to wonder if we’ll ever know the truth.

        2. Fern

          A new group of distinguished scientists has written a letter to the journal Science (dated today, May 14, 2021) stating that “there is not enough evidence to decide whether a natural origin or an accidental laboratory leak caused the Covid-19 pandemic” and called for further study. These scientists are well aware of the published papers, including the ones about timing that Lambert links to.

          The New York Times quotes one of the authors, Dr. Jesse Bloom of Fred Hutchinson: “Most of the discussion you hear about SARS-CoV-2 origins at this point is coming from, I think, the relatively small number of people who feel very certain about their views. “Anybody who’s making statements with a high level of certainty about this is just outstripping what’s possible to do with the available evidence.”

          The letter says: “Theories of accidental release from a lab and zoonotic spillover both remain viable.”

          No paper has been published to date that disproves either natural evolution or lab origin. If such a paper existed, these top scientists would have pointed it out.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > has not penetrated the MSM membrane until just this past week

      Such [bovine excrement]. You cannot have been following the story closely. A quick Google search for stories between November 1, 2020 and February 1, 2021 shows stories from the BBC, New York Magazine, Sky News, Wired, CNET, the Austrialian, and the Wall Street Journal.

      Making sh*t up is against site policy. Don’t do it.

  19. Jason

    Ocasio-Cortez has a Taco Tuesday with Buttigieg

    SPOTTED: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg — in what could serve as a glimpse at post-coronavirus pandemic life — meeting up for a Taco Tuesday party of two.

    The New York Democrat and the 2020 White House hopeful were seen in the upstairs private room at Mexican food hot spot Mission Navy Yard in Washington on Tuesday, chowing down on tacos and beer. We hear both had to walk the length of the eatery’s 150-foot bar to make their way to the exclusive area.

    “Buddy, our puggle, got to know this French bulldog,” Buttigieg said. “And then I looked up and Rep. Ocasio-Cortez was right there. So we had a nice chat,” Buttigieg told host James Corden on “The Late Late Show” last month.

  20. Jason

    Krystal Ball and Sagaar Enjeti of Rising didn’t do one story on Palestine today. Not one.

    1. Screwball

      I don’t know if it’s just me, but I think that show has changed over the last few months. I don’t know how to explain it, but they don’t seem to cover things the way they used to, and some things I would think they would cover, they don’t. It’s almost like they got a message to be a little more MSM like (if that makes any sense).

      Anyone else?

      1. Jason

        If you are into going to right to the source – the owner and the funding – it’s not surprising.

        Sagaar ‘s been doing more stories on UFOs lately. Because that’s not a distraction.

      1. Jason

        Correction: Rising did one segment on the violence. One. Yesterday.

        It’s covered, and can be pointed to, as you just did.

        So, instead of “Move along, there is nothing to see here” we get, “This happened and we reported it. Now move along.” And more fruitless Ryan Grim and fun panel debates that are creative endeavors and status enhancers for the participants and precious little else. And UFO reports.

        There’s still good info to be culled from Rising. I’ll just never be a Riser. Can’t do it.

  21. lobelia

    Re: What Is Stoicism? A Definition & 9 Stoic Exercises To Get You Started Daily Stoic

    That link immediately brought to mind this great (to my mind) Baffler piece: 10/28/20 By Hettie O’Brien Grin and Bear It – On the rise and rise of neo-Stoicism

    Excerpt emphasis, mine:

    Stoicism has been experiencing something of a resurgence in the last decade, its popularity traceable from Reddit forums to Instagram accounts to think pieces and inspirational quotes splashed on Etsy coffee mugs. In fact, the trend dates back longer; using Google’s Ngram feature, you will find a steep incline in uses of the word “Stoicism” in English-language books published between 1980 and 2019. It slowly rises during the premierships of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan before climbing dramatically after the End of History and ascending further up to the present day. The graph is at its lowest point in the post-war decade.
    Still, even on its own terms, ancient Stoicism has limited utility when it comes to questions of injustice. At best, its followers sought to ameliorate the treatment of slaves and women, but never to overthrow institutions of oppression. That they weren’t concerned with reversing the existing balance of power is why their philosophy seems so ill-suited to contemporary problems that demand collective action rather than individual virtue. Seneca argued that anger should be subjected to reason; he described it as “temporary madness,” and an “ugly and horrible picture of distorted and swollen frenzy” that could “drag down the avenger along with it.” But such emotions are crucial to the fomentation of movements. If you want evidence of this, you need only look to the recent protests against police violence to see how grief and anger aren’t mere interior states, but compelling forces that move masses to act upon the world.

    gotta run

  22. flora

    Interesting essay in NewDiscourses. I kept thinking of wokeism, though I don’t think that’s the subject of the essay.

    Psychopathy and the Origins of Totalitarianism – by James Lindsay, New Discourses.

    Pseudo-realities are always social fictions, which, in light of the above, means political fictions. That is, they are maintained not because they are true, in the sense that they correspond to reality, either material or human, but because a sufficient quantity of people in the society they attack either believe them or refuse to challenge them. This implies that pseudo-realities are linguistic phenomena above all else, and where power-granting linguistic distortions are present, it is likely that they are there to create and prop up some pseudo-reality. This also means that they require power, coercion, manipulation, and eventually force to keep them in place. …

    1. Aumua

      Well that might be because wokeism has become a sort of catch-all term for all kinds of “things we don’t like”. But I submit that perhaps it is not the woke movement that really the issue, but it is the co-option of that movement by liberals, democrats and pols that is the problem and which creates the insanity we love to get outraged over. It’s also difficult to have any open discourse about this because the discussion space is heavily infiltrated and dominated by hard right narratives and attitudes.

      1. flora

        I agree. Whatever it started as and what it has since become in the public mind after its adoption by political interests make it hard to discuss as a stand alone from those political interests; political interests commanding the MSM and running on the stolen valor of the original impetus makes any discussion difficult, if not impossible. The above essay is about co-opting and corrupting originally sound interests. / ;)

        1. Aumua

          I’ll amend my statement to say that the discussion is dominated by hard right attitudes on the one hand, but also by some extremely inflexible and intolerant attitudes on the other hand that certainly aren’t helping the situation as far as understanding goes.

      2. lambert strether

        > it is the co-option of that movement by liberals, democrats and pols

        And it sure was easy to co-opt, wasn’t it?

        Funny how that’s never true for genuinely left ideas like ending the empire, giving workers control of the means of production, etc. Almost like a litmus test or sumpin

        1. Aumua

          Yeah and none of those genuine left ™ goals have been accomplished yet, and they’ve been around for while now. So maybe some different perspectives might be useful, including say the intersections of Capitalism and white supremacy or of class war and patriarchy.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            The Combahee River Collective statement was written in 1974. Crenshaw’s “Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex” was written in 1989.

            Those ideas, too, have had plenty of time to prove themselves. They only got traction when (a) careerist PMCs figured out how to use them to advance themselves (see Adolph Reed here), along with (b) elites discovering how dangerous to solidarity they were (see the career paths of Deray and other Black Lives Matter celebrities).

            You either put the working class first, or you don’t. And if you put the working class first, as if by magic you put all the other acronyms first collectively, because the working class is multiracial, multigender, yadda yadda yadda.

            1. Aumua

              As the Black Socialists say, we’re not looking to get more representation of minorities in the ruling class, we want to abolish the ruling class altogether.

              But on the other hand class warfare disproportionally affects racial and gender minorities and some of the deepest conditioning and programming that is implanted into each of us by society is white supremacy and patriarchy, and when you recognize that in your self and begin to confront it then it is like waking up from a long trance. There’s a ton of resistance to that awareness also which comes from that core programming, and from the white male heterosexual ego which naturally feels quite threatened by it.

  23. Jason

    AIPAC and all affiliated organizations in the U.S. should immediately have to register as Agents of a Foreign Power, just as every other country’s officials have to.

    1. hamstak

      Given the influence that AIPAC et al have over Congress, perhaps Congress should have to register as an Agent of Foreign Power as well.

    2. Maritimer

      A number of years ago I remember seeing a few articles about Dual (or more) Citizenship. One question was whether anyone holding such citizenship should hold public or any Government office. Another question was what are the actual Dual Citizenship numbers and ranking proportionately by country. Then the question of how many Government officials/advisors held dual citizenship. But since that time it seems neither politicians nor journalists are will to risk pursuing this subject.

      In that regard, how many of the Elite and their minions hold Dual Citizenship?

      Lastly, one of the great and ignored economic facts of the US is that the dollar may have not been devalued but US Citizenship certainly has. It’s worth a lot, lot less than it used to be.

  24. Wukchumni

    If the powers that be decided that 90% of the native to North America species but not native to around these parts who have taken over tiny town ought to be culled, I think i’d go along with it, with open season starting the weekend before Thanksgiving.

    Wild turkeys have decimated the California quail population here, almost acting like humans-the bastards.

    Its easy to suspect fowl play when you have a couple of birds who’d mostly rather walk, one 5x as large as the other, with the latter having the misfortune of laying their nests on the ground, with around 15-20 new quail showing up a month later in a conga line following mom, but not if the turkeys eat the eggs. Maybe i’ve seen a dozen quail this year when I should’ve seen 1,200.

    The gang (not to be confused with the Ocellated turkey cartel from the Yucatán) ran a numbers game going from a cute half a dozen you’d only see in one location 15 years ago, to running numbers up all over hill & dale to over a thousand i’d reckon. We have 30 snood’y characters who threaten us with audibly harm if we don’t do just what they say, its hard to live in such fear and one neighbor is almost on the verge of breaking and bowing to their demands by signing a quick claim to their property, oh the humanity.

      1. Wukchumni

        I’m liking this, i’d be the Penguin from Batman, a tv show for 5 year old kids and 55 year old kids, oh so campy.

        If confronted by a wild turkey that has lost its fear of humans, an open umbrella may help steer it out of your path.

        Fine Feathered Finks – Batman & Penguin Ep 3 1966

  25. chuck roast

    Can Co-ops Save Restaurants?

    Moving into early afternoon and no comments on this. A shame that. IMO both industrial unionism and craft unionism are done…crushed, washed-up, short-sighted, corrupt, and dare I say…co-opted. There will always be labor, and there will always be capital. With the cruel and top-heavy social and political superstructure always on the side of capital there is little hope for even the marginal advancement of traditional labor unions. Moreover, if history is any guide they all eventually become merely the flip-side of a reactionary coin. What is to be done?

    Well, Leninism is pretty much discredited. Neoliberals couldn’t care less. Years ago I thought there might be some hope for ESOP’s. Nope…another political scam whereby workers get a few more crumbs, but capital still makes the decisions. On the far end is Mondragon Corporation. A co-op with over 80,000 worker/owners. On the near end is Rock City Coffee in Rockland, Maine, a co-op with a few dozen worker/owners. I used to love going in there year after year and seeing mostly the same happy faces with everybody seemingly sharing the $hit jobs and the good jobs. My hope is that this is the future of both the working and the entrepreneurial spirit.

  26. Anthony Stegman

    For the past year+ I have been unable to play badminton due to pandemic restrictions on indoor gatherings. That has saddened me greatly. But I obtain solace from my daily readings of Naked Capitalism. Thanks so much y’all!!! :)

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