Links 5/22/2021

Scientists find ‘missing link’ behind first human languages Live Science

Why the Bitcoin Crash Was a Big Win for Cryptocurrencies Bloomberg

Bitcoin Miners Are Giving New Life to Old Fossil-Fuel Power Plants WSJ

Climate change is becoming less a battle of nations than rich vs poor FT

Air quality and future pandemics KUSA. Interview with Shelly Miller of the University of Colorado.

The tyranny of concrete and its costly carbon footprint FT

A Nonprofit Promised to Preserve Wildlife. Then It Made Millions Claiming It Could Cut Down Trees. Pro Publica

Surfing in DDT waters Yasha Levine, Immigrants as a Weapon


COVID News Keeps Getting Better in America New York Magazine

California unveils sweeping plan for full reopening on June 15 as COVID fades Los Angeles Times

New vibe at White House: Hugs are in; masks are (mostly) out AP. “There were buffoons, there were improvisatori, there were ballet-dancers, there were musicians, there was Beauty, there was wine.” I would love to be wrong, but we have seen the pattern of premature government re-opening under business pressure followed by a rise in cases before.

Cases of COVID-19 variant found in India rise in Mesa County Denver Post

* * *

Workers struggle with COVID-19 mask guidance Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy

National Nurses United urges the CDC to revise its dangerous guidance saying vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks, get tested, or isolate after an exposure National Nurses United

* * *

#FreshAir Education Pack Parents United. From the UK, but could be repurposed.

Mask Use and Ventilation Improvements to Reduce COVID-19 Incidence in Elementary Schools — Georgia, November 16–December 11, 2020 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, CDC. Commentary:

* * *

Op-Ed: How Not to Message the Public on COVID Vaccines MedPage Today

Vermont Will Drop Restrictions Early If 80% Vaccinated NECN (Re Silc).

America’s Bluest State Loves Its Republican Governor The Atlantic


China’s Martian rover takes first drive on Red Planet Agence France Presse

World-Dominating Superstar Firms Get Bigger, Techier, and More Chinese Bloomberg

China’s Scrutiny of Shadow Debt Bites Developers Like Evergrande Bloomberg. Commentary:

China, US lose chance for military talks as Covid-19 halts Shangri-La Dialogue South China Morning Post

China’s Fosun says willing to provide BioNTech vaccines to Taiwan Reuters


The NUG must commit to human rights for all Myanmar’s people Frontier Myanmar. Forget the moralizing, think realpolitik: “We must, indeed, all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately” –Ben Franklin (attributed).

Myanmar: The small embattled town that stood up to the army BBC

Myanmar junta seeks to prolong rule with Suu Kyi party ban – unity govt Reuters

Myanmar’s Troubled History: Coups, Military Rule, and Ethnic Conflict Council on Foreign Relations

The Weight Slate (Re Silc). Ford’s F-150.

The Koreas

2 Days in May That Shattered Korean Democracy The Nation


EXPLAINER: Why ‘world’s pharmacy’ India is short on shots AP

Black fungus virus: Covid, diabetes & steroids fuelling new mucormycosis wave Times of India

As COVID-19 Spreads to Rural Areas of UP, Is Yogi in Denial Mode Again? The Wire

If the public has vaccine hesitancy, the government has developed strategy hesitancy ABC Australia


Coexistence in Israel’s ‘mixed cities’ was always an illusion Mondoweiss

The Oldest U.S. Ally Has Turned Migrants Into A Political Weapon The American Conservative

Biden Administration Plans Visa Restrictions on Ethiopian Officials Over Tigray Foreign Policy

Patient care and clinical outcomes for patients with COVID-19 infection admitted to African high-care or intensive care units (ACCCOS): a multicentre, prospective, observational cohort study The Lancet. From the Abstract: “In-hospital mortality within 30 days of admission was 48.2%.” n = 6779.


Covid-19: London Heathrow to open separate terminal for high-risk arrivals Business Standard

Chilling – Not In a Good Way Craig Murray

Leftist Castillo gains ground in survey ahead of Peru presidential vote Reuters

AMLO to nominate Bank of México governor who ‘favors moral economy’ Mexico News Daily

New Cold War

How to turn Nord Stream 2 into a win for Ukraine The Hill

What to make of the Blinken-Lavrov ‘showdown’ in Iceland Responsible Statecraft

Can the Reykjavik Meeting Really Improve U.S.-Russia Ties? The National Interest

Biden Administration

How the filibuster goes down Ryan Grim, Bad News

Once in Thrall of ‘the Generals,’ Congress Now Gives the Orders on Military Issues NYT (Re Silc). The deck: “The shift mirrors broader societal frustrations after two decades of wars, a pervasive problem of sexual assault and harassment of female troops and the exposure of political extremism in the ranks.” But the imperial mission? No problemo.

Betsy DeVos must testify in student loan forgiveness lawsuit, judge rules NBC

Harry Reid: What We Believe About U.F.O.s NYT

Republican Funhouse

Republicans lose patience with Arizona election audit The Hill. The Republican Party collectively is having great difficulty constructing a coherent* narrative on the Maricopa County recount, a problem that has afflicted them since at least 2014, with the Benghazi hairball. (Talking points, aesthetic responses, and “irritable mental gestures which seek to resemble ideas” are not narratives.) In fact, the only Republican who seems able to construct a coherent narrative these days — bless his heart — is Donald Trump. NOTE * I didn’t say “true.”

Capitol Riot

Ocasio-Cortez: 60 seconds’ difference on Jan. 6 could have ended in ‘a martial state’ The Hill. The radio stations had already been seized, rogue military units were standing by, the speech declaring a provisional government was in somebody’s pocket….

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Leaked Emails Show Crime App Citizen Is Testing On-Demand Security Force Vice (AMM). “Pinkerton task rabbit.”

Health Care

Buoyed by Federal Covid Aid, Big Hospital Chains Buy Up Competitors NYT

Will nobody think of the billionaires?

Our Famously Free Press

The New Podcast Oligopoly FAIR

L’Affaire Joffrey Epstein

Epstein guards to skirt jail time in deal with prosecutors AP. Oh.

Black Injustice Tipping Point

Survivors Of 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Share Eyewitness Accounts NPR

READING: John Lippert on the Idiocy of the Chicago School in Late 2008 Brad DeLong, Grasping Reality

Class Warfare

Chipotle Is a Nightmare Employer Jacobin

Koch Funded Eviction Push While Buying Real Estate Stakes Daily Poster

The Pandemic Speaks The Tyee

Antidote du Jour (via):

Good kitties!

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. fresno dan

    Republicans lose patience with Arizona election audit The Hill.
    The audit, ordered by a state Senate majority that has bought into former President Trump’s big lie about the results of the election he lost handily, is on hold until Monday. It has already dragged on well past the estimated time auditors said it would take to recount the county’s ballots.
    Even one of the Republicans who initially backed the audit has now changed his mind. In an interview Thursday, just blocks from the coliseum where the audit is scheduled to resume Monday, state Sen. Paul Boyer (R) told The Hill he believed the audit had become an albatross for his party.
    What repubs are secretly thinking, or behind the scenes are thinking, or are thinking but won’t say out loud doesn’t matter. What repubs not holding office say doesn’t matter. Its like saying there are a significant number of elected republicans that in their hearts are willing to compromise on Biden’s stimulus bill…their secret thoughts don’t matter, only their official votes on the record.
    What matters are how the repubs actually holding office VOTE. ONE Arizona republican senator repudiated their own vote for the recount does not indicate a meaningful change.
    It reminds me of all that political analysis that many repubs wouldn’t vote for Trump in 2016.

    1. WobblyTelomeres

      I wonder if what happened to Gabby Giffords has anything to do with their choices. At least, in Arizona.

  2. The Rev Kev

    “China, US lose chance for military talks as Covid-19 halts Shangri-La Dialogue”

    This article is saying that it is due to the Coronavirus that the US and China are not getting together but another article I read today says it is more of a matter of the Pentagon calling China but nobody is picking up the phone. After all, they could have used Zoom if they wanted to get together. Far be it from me to say that this is because of all those freedom-of-navigation exercises off the Chinese coastline or all those navies from European nation sending warships to practice with local nations and the US Navy on how to fight China or all the anti-China rhetoric emanating out of Washington even after Trump left the scene or all those attacks on Chinese technological companies on the grounds that they were Chinese. Otherwise, I cannot think why China does not want to talk to Washington.

    1. Alfred

      If the Pentagon called me, I would not pick up the phone either. The Pentagon has absolutely no sense of how foolish their decisions over even the past 20 years look. Who could even take their word about anything? Much more money than sense, them.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      Orientalism is the defining feature of US foreign policy. The idea other countries wouldn’t fall all over themselves to get discount tickets to an afternoon Hollywood movie for a few leaders in exchange for strip mining their country is simply baffling to American foreign policy elites or won’t thank the US for pushing them around.

    3. phiw13

      According to the FT East-Asia journo (Demetri Sevastopulo Twitter link), the top political person at the pentagon (defense secretary Austin) wants to meet with the top military person PLA General Xu Qiliang. China refused and offered the equivalent minister of defense, which would expected per diplomatic protocol. And of course, one need to remember the Alaska “meeting”, and all the rest you mention.

    4. JTMcPhee

      Nobody wants to be the person who “lost the Empire.” Like none of our gutless general staff, so adept at kicking the “surge” can down the road and generating cloud-cuckoo land Grand Strategies and career enhancements and personal perks and bennies, have any notions of what they are doing That’s in the sauve-qui-peut environment of the Imperial capital and the HQs of the various “areas of responsibility/operations” that the egomaniacs have divided the whole world into. And of course the “policy” structure has been fifth-columned into idiocy and irrelevance (except for the ability to loot and “move up the chain” and bleed the Sacred Homeland to make more stupid weapons, and use the Panopticon and Mighty Wurlitzer we mopes have paid for to keep us oppressed.) And even actual deadly threats like climate degradation are turned into support for more and more of the same old combustion-fueled sh!t, all wrapped up in high-sounding geomilitary Milbabble.

      All will be excused, of course, under the principle of “collective incompetence.”

      Far as I can tell, this is just the end-game of something that seems, based on its “success,” to be programmed into human genetics…

  3. Sam Adams

    Re: COVID News Keeps Getting Better in America, New York Magazine
    Strange. I thought the USA has simply And collectively decided to cull the herd using the Temple Grandin method of humane treatment of livestock for slaughter. Don’t let them see the bolt gun.

    1. Tom Stone

      The Temple Grandin method has oodles of tradition behind it,
      There is the minor problem that Governments that lose legitimacy default to violence and its threat.

    2. wol

      Bolt gun- with Anton at least there was a chance. No Country for Old Men:

      Carla Jean:
      I knowed you was crazy when I saw you settin’ there. I knowed exactly what was in store for me.

      Call it.

  4. The Rev Kev

    “How to turn Nord Stream 2 into a win for Ukraine”

    If you do not want to be bothered reading this article, I have the Cliff Notes version handy here: It says that the way to win is to turn the Ukraine into a ‘truly independent, modern, liberal state’ so Washington and Brussels have to step up and send hundreds of billions of dollars & euros to the Ukraine to fill the gaps in their budget while teaching them how to stop corruption. No seriously – that’s it. Good luck with that project, matey.

    1. Pat

      Would this be like Valerio Viccei, Knightsbridge Security Deposit robbery, and the Securitas Depot robbers advising the Brinks-Mat robbers? Or the other way around?
      What we can be sure of is that ending corruption in anything but name would NOT be on the agenda.

    2. jsn

      I always try to start a ‘truly independent, modern, liberal state’ with a Nazi coup d’etat, don’t you?

    3. John A

      And that liquified shale gas shipped from the US is going to be competitive with piped natural gas from Russia.

      1. Synoia

        Absolutely, for the first few shipments. And once the US is a prime supplier, the prices will be stable for years.

        Nice warm house you have there. Pity if it got cold.

    4. km

      A new strategy for Ukraine, so different from what we’ve been doing for the last seven years! /sarc/

  5. Toshiro_Mifune

    Harry Reid: What We Believe About U.F.O.s
    Boy, there is an awful lot of effort being put into making me care about UFOs.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Reid is looking for proof of Kolob and his own future planet to take all of his dry powder.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          The answer to your question is yes, but why is the question.

          As for Reid, I always like to remind people he converted to Mormonism after his career as an amateur boxer, meaning not good enough to get paid but not a hobby.

      1. Toshiro_Mifune

        My knowledge of Mormonism is pretty shaky. So I had no idea what Kolob was.
        So… is it doctrinal thought that the throne of God is physically located some where out there amongst the stars (47 Tucanae maybe) and we could go see it if we had a space ship?

    2. polecat

      Not enough people submitting into getting probed, I guess .. ‘;]

      Better watch out. Next thing you know, some aliens might start jabbing people with *fingers tipped, making them drunk with giddy virtue.

      *saw that in a 50’s SiFi flick staring one F. Gorshin.

      1. Wukchumni

        The Invaders is an American science-fiction television program created by Larry Cohen that aired on ABC for two seasons, from 1967 to 1968. Roy Thinnes stars as David Vincent, who tries to thwart an in-progress alien invasion despite the disbelief of officials and the general public.

        Roy Thinnes stars as architect David Vincent, who accidentally learns of a secret alien invasion already underway and thereafter travels from place to place attempting to foil the aliens’ plots and warn a skeptical populace of the danger. As the series progresses, Vincent is able to convince a small number of people to help him fight the aliens.

        First episode:

        1. Pelham

          A pretty good series. The concept was neat and spare: One guy knows about the invasion, so the viewer essentially and intensely becomes the one guy. (Reminiscent of “The Fugitive” in that regard, another Quinn Martin production.) And the stiff little finger that was the only giveaway for the aliens, who otherwise resembled normal schlubs, was actually kind of brilliant.

          The series, however, never really matched the promise of the concept, IMO. It would have been better if there had been more continuity between episodes, giving the viewer the sense that events were really headed somewhere — even if that somewhere ultimately were to prove disappointing. This was a lesson that was apparently learned with “Lost” and its current much, much inferior knockoff “Manifest.”

        2. The Rev Kev

          A much under-rated series that. And very imaginative one as well. Thanks for the reminder of it.

          1. Wukchumni

            I’ve been enjoying watching The Invaders, the aliens aren’t some mamby pamby damned glad to meet you ET types, no sirrreeebob. They’ll rip your brain apart, for kicks.

            2 crooked pinky fingers up!

    3. lordkoos

      It’s a grand experiment, seeing how much they can get people to believe via the usual propaganda channels.

    4. Maritimer

      I sold all my Kittycoin. I put the profits into Sasquatch futures. I’ve also started looking at Loch Ness Monster options.

  6. The Rev Kev

    “Ocasio-Cortez: 60 seconds’ difference on Jan. 6 could have ended in ‘a martial state'”

    noun: grandstanding

    The action of behaving in a showy or ostentatious manner in an attempt to attract favourable attention from spectators or the media.

    e.g. “She was accused of political grandstanding.”

    1. Pat

      There is a term used by gossip mavens to describe those public figures who demand attention both overtly and subtly. “Thirsty”.

      This is uber thirsty.

      1. JohnnyGL

        Are you guys blind to the dangers, here??!?!!?

        Viking guy, and the selfie-guy with his feet on pelosi’s desk are very serious political players who know how to navigate the levers of state power!!!

        More seriously, did AOC even ask for anyone at Capitol Police to resign over how they botched this?

        The speed of her descent into farce has been jarring.

        1. Tom_Doak

          Voting “present” instead of “no” so that last measure would pass by one vote was the bigger tell.

          1. ambrit

            Agreed. That was a sign of the full co-option of “The Squad” by the Democrat Party Nomenklatura.
            On a related note, we got yet another “begging letter” from the DCCC yesterday. This time, it was all about (the Benjamins of course, but also,) the existential threat to the Democrat Party “majority” in the House of Representatives. It included a handy list of “at risk” Democrat operatives in the House ‘vulnerable’ to Republican Party attack. A fairly long list. Someone in Washington wants to gin up some fear among the Democrat Party base.
            Of real interest was an internal inconsistency in the argumentation given in support of “maximal giving.” One pie graph shown claimed that 99% of the monies raised were “grassroots” in origin. (Yay! Populist Dems for the win!) However, and in contradiction, the text of the letter stated that this round of funds raising was ‘amplified’ by a Five to One “secret donor” challenge. Hmmm…. If 83+% of the funds raised are from a few deep pocketed ‘donors,’ than where does that leave the 99% “grassroots” funding claim? This is hilariously inept ‘messaging.’
            It feels like the elites no longer care about “the People” believing their lies anymore. That is a very bad sign.

              1. ambrit

                Classic indirection tactics.
                “All that glisters is not goals.”
                “Oh! Oh! Look over there! Neo-populists!”
                “Pay no attention to the elites behind the curtain.”
                Or: “Move on. Move on. Nothing to believe in here.”

            1. John Emerson

              You’re never going to get an honest politician. That’s formally impossible because they have to make every one happy, so if you’re looking for one you should just hold your breath until you explode,

              But Ilhan Omar of “The Squad” has been hammering away at the Israel / Palestine question, and that’s something I haven’t seen in50 years.

          2. Dirk77

            In my thinking a politician having small money only donors is necessary but not sufficient to minimize political corruption. Yet, I’m wondering what exactly is the Squad’s goal in being elected representatives. Is grandstanding an end in itself? But then I’m not a constituent of any of them so my thoughts will never turn into a vote.

  7. marym

    Re: Republicans lose patience with Arizona election audit

    A new “audit” is apparently going forward in Georgia.

    “Georgia is headed for another review of its presidential election results after a judge agreed Friday to unseal more than 145,000 Fulton County absentee ballots.” (Link)

    The AZ “audit,” in addition to looking for non-existent watermarks and traces of bamboo, is scanning ballot images to further examine the images for “fraud.” For the GA “audit” the judge has ordered that the ballots remain in the custody of election officials who would do the scanning.

    Note: Georgia had a full hand count and a full machine recount of the presidential vote, a signature audit of mail ballot envelopes; and investigations by media and the GA Bureau of Investigations of the Fulton county “observers-went-home, ballots-under-the table” issue.

    Meanwhile the number of bills moving forward/passed in state legislatures to suppress and intimidate voters, and allow state legislatures to override election officials has reached 408. (Link)

    A new Lost Cause narrative and new Jim Crow voting laws.

    1. Wukchumni

      Arizona is the ‘crass test dummy’ the GOP uses to see if something utterly ridiculous will fly in other states…

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      As has become par for the course, the view from the “conservative” blogosphere is considerably different. As in 180 out. An example:

      What I don’t understand is this–if the election was as “flawless” and above board as the democrats claim, why not give the deniers everything they’re asking for right upfront, and let them hoist themselves on their own petards with their “investigations?”

      The stalling and nitpicking just reinforces republican suspicions. After the relentless sturm and drang of the Trump presidency and the re-election campaign, democrats cannot possibly expect to be taken “at their word,” and I’m sure they know that.

      This smells a lot like ginning up election controversy by a democrat party that knows it’s going to need to sow some seeds of doubt in the future. At the very least.

      1. marym

        None of the previous claims of fraud for Fulton County, or other jurisdictions in 2020, have been found credible (Link); nor have the “experts” in other cases (Link). The “expert” for this new GA case (Link) is this guy: (Link)

        It’s not only Democrats who have said, and certified, that the election in GA, and other jurisdictions disputed by Trump and his allies, was fair or who have objected to the Trump challenges. In GA that has included the Republican Governor and Secretary of State.

        The reason for these increasingly far-fetched claims (some of which have been made in other lawsuits and then dismissed or voluntarily withdrawn) include (imo) Republicans riling up their base (similar to Russiagate); providing increasingly less plausible excuses for voter suppression and nullification laws; and grift.

    3. rowlf

      marym, if you ever get bored, try doing a search for “voting” “fulton county” “georgia” in Duckduckgo and set the time period for pre-2015. Since moving to Georgia about ten years ago I always wondered how an election would turn out in Fulton County if UN peacekeepers or some other impartial group ran one. With the new Georgia voting law it will be interesting if the state takes over the voting from the county (which to me seems to be the main intent of the new law but nobody says out loud).

      Years of watching Coleman Young and Edward McNamara taught me a lot that my college civics class didn’t cover.

      1. marym

        The Carter Center monitored the GA full hand recount (Link) !

        Kemp has been promoting voter suppression and failing to substantiate claims of voter fraud in GA for a long time. In 2020 he certified the election, though. Empowering state legislators to override local officials is developing as a common theme in the new voting laws

        1. rowlf

          Kemp is definitely a snake but I find it ironic that he is using the same voter list purge law put in place by Democrats in Georgia (last update signed by Governor Zell Miller) and used when the Georgia Secretary of State were democrats prior to 2007. Greg Palast used to go after the Democrats in Georgia but that has been forgotten.

          1. marym

            True, Republicans aren’t to blame for that law. I don’t know enough about the controversy to judge whether it was being used to extremes under Kemp. Democrats have a lot to answer for as far as voting rights and election integrity too.

            1. Darius

              The South used to be a reactionary one-party state run by Democrats. Now it’s a reactionary one-party state run by Republicans.

  8. Wukchumni

    Here’s another post office renaming that pretty much is the only thing that Congress has any bipartisanship in terms of support, as they seldom agree on anything else. These renaming gambits are about the only thing My Kevin accomplishes, but it isn’t fair to single him out, they’re all in cahoots.

    H.R. 2842 – To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 120 4th Street in Petaluma, California, as the “Lynn C. Woolsey Post Office Building”

    Here’s some of the co-sponsors who tend to despise one another on any kind of meaningful legislation, where nothing gets done.

    McCarthy, Pelosi, Nunes, Swalwell, Issa, Khanna, McClintock, Porter, et al.

    1. Pat

      As I remember that was most of Hillary’s greatest accomplishments while in Congress. Your Kevin could also be a faux experienced legislator destined for the White House minus being First Lady of course.

    2. BobW

      I had to check, Lynn C. Woolsey is a real name, not a joke. As you know, linsey-woolsey fabric was common in colonial times.

        1. ambrit

          I vote for a ‘Jeffery Epstein Postal Facility.’ It will serve several functions.
          First, it will train the ‘underages’ to play ‘Post Office’ with consenting adults.
          Second, it will act as a ‘Dead Drop’ letter facility.
          Third, for extra points, place it in the Zion National Park and ‘knock it out of the ball-field.’

  9. The Rev Kev

    “Covid-19: London Heathrow to open separate terminal for high-risk arrivals”

    I think that that the new open separate terminal is called Gatwick. ;)

  10. Pat

    There is a whole lot of work going on to get people vaccinated AND to convince people that is the be all and end all. I don’t think it is working.
    My favorite was the CDC report of the number of breakthrough cases on my morning news, no mention that only hospitalization counts. (And on cursory inspection if you lose that lottery your odds of leaving the hospital are even higher.)
    Meanwhile protestors at Rutgers are pointing out how minimal the testing of the vaccines has been and the produce guy is urging people to still play it safe and wear a mask in crowded areas.

    The fall may make Trump’s failures on public health policy look like a preview. (I’d love to be wrong but the pit in my stomach won’t let me dismiss that thought.)

    1. Tom_Doak

      Nah, they simply want to have a clear conscience as they let the virus rip among the unvaccinated. “We did our best to tell them, but they just wouldn’t listen.”

      Those deplorables must be sacrificed so that our leaders are no longer inconvenienced by having to mask up.

      1. Pat

        It might not be as devastating to the unvaccinated, but me variants can and probably will “rip” through the vaccinated as well.
        Either they are incredibly naive or optimistic OR they are hoping no one is going to notice how many of their friends and loved ones are “breakthroughs” because the official count is being kept artificially low.

        1. Jeff W

          “…[the] variants can and probably will ‘rip’ through the vaccinated as well.”

          A team of researchers at the University of Florida looked at the data from vaccine trials and observational studies and found that

          Protection against any disease with infection for three so-called variants of concern averaged 86% for the B.1.1.7 strain first detected in the U.K., 61% for the P.1 strain that drove an explosive outbreak in Brazil, and 56% for the B.1.351 strain discovered in South Africa…

          Some vaccines were right around 50% for some variants—Sinovac at 49.1% for the P.1 variant; Johnson & Johnson and Novavax at 52.0% and 49.4%, respectively, for the B.1.351 variant—while one, AstraZeneca, fell far below it, at 21.9%, for the B.1.351 variant.

          As for the B.1.617 variant, one study has found that antibodies from people vaccinated with either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, while being seven times less effective at blocking that variant as compared to blocking the original virus, could neutralize B.1.617.1 “to some extent.”

        2. Jeff W

          These new findings regarding the B.1.617 variant, are even more promising:

          Two doses of either the BioNTech/Pfizer or Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines offer good protection against symptomatic infection from the variant first identified in India, according to new UK data, indicating minimal reduction in efficacy compared to the so-called Kent variant.

          The BioNTech/Pfizer jab provided 88 per cent protection against the B. 1.617.2 variant found in India, a barely perceptible drop from the 93 per cent provided against the B.1.1.7 strain first identified in Kent in south-east England, according to the Public Health England data.

          Protection conferred by two doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine was lower against both variants, at 66 per cent for B.1.1.7 and 60 per cent for B. 1.617.2.

          The percentages regarding Oxford/AstraZeneca may, in fact, be underestimates, given that those who had received the AZ vaccine had been followed up in a shorter period of time compared to those receiving the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, and, therefore, the vaccine may not have had time to reach maximum effectiveness yet.

      2. Dr. John Carpenter

        This is how I see it too. I think they have done all they’re going to do, and have done more than they wanted to do, and they’re looking for an exit. I’m not sure how that’s supposed to work out but I am sure TPTB won’t suffer too much.

      3. Maritimer

        I will suggest that Neandertahl States, Florida and Texas opening up with no disastrous consequences might be a factor. An Emperor Has No Mask moment.

        In addition, this places the laggard jurisdictions in jeopardy both in the US and Internationally. Why are you still masked up and locked down? US is way below the supposed Herd Immunity moment.

        There may be a bit of desertion of the Covid Ship in all this. Sure would like to hear an unbiased expert on this subject.

      4. c_heale

        I think they don’t care. As long as their friends are making bank selling vaccines they are happy.

  11. NoOneInParticular

    “Leaked Emails Show Crime App Citizen Is Testing On-Demand Security Force”
    It’s worth noting that Citizen was originally called Vigilante when the app was unveiled in 2016, several months before it was released. I attended (crashed) a private event in which the founder described having users respond to emergencies before authorities could get there. The potential danger was obvious. Apple’s App Store eventually banned it and in 2017, rebranded Citizen, it reappeared. It seems that the original urge to foster vigilantism remains in the company’s DNA, which is unfortunate because to some degree the current version fills some local news gaps in cities it serves. I have no financial interest in it, and, as far as I know, I know no one involved with it.

  12. NotTimothyGeithner

    Re: hugs are in at the White House

    So this was about Biden sniffing hair, who hugs at work? Covid aside that sounds like a hostile work environment.

  13. Wukchumni

    Why the Bitcoin Crash Was a Big Win for Cryptocurrencies Bloomberg
    What if the Dow Jonestown index went from 34k to 22k in a relatively short time, would Bloomberg also term that a ‘big win’?

    1. Dictynna

      What little I read of the article made me think the author was doing PR for the “idea” of decentralized currency, not offering a legitimate estimate of crypto’s win/loss.

  14. jsn

    If the TPTB still have form, those guards and their chain of command can look forward to a peculiarly short future.

    1. Michael Ismoe

      How were they supposed to put the guards in jail when Jeffrey isn’t dead? All they had to do was ask to see “the body”.

  15. The Rev Kev

    “The Weight”

    ‘Ford’s new F-150 could be a milestone for electric vehicles…The Lightning weighs 6,500 pounds’

    That is only the basic weight . If you have a ‘Biden reporter pusher’ bolted onto the front, then you can add another 500 pounds.

      1. Synoia

        Much of the weight will be caused by the large piles of dollar bills required by Ford to keep the vehicles in the hands of their new drivers.

        1. R

          Road damage is proportional to the fifth power of axle weight so if (dummy figures) an F150 goes from 1 ton per axle to 2 tons per axle, the heavier version does 2^5=32x more damage….

          Forget eroding the tax base, the Fat150 will erode the road base.

  16. Mikel

    RE: “Op-Ed: How Not to Message the Public on COVID Vaccines” MedPage Today

    I don’t remember if it was here or somewhere else that someone mentioned it was a good idea to be hydrated before getting a shot.

    What is the official guidance about any prep that should be done before getting a shot?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I don’t remember if it was here or somewhere else that someone mentioned it was a good idea to be hydrated before getting a shot.

      Here is the link to the hydration advice:

      While checking into the VA clinic yesterday for PT, I remarked to the admin that I was surprised I was feeling well enough to make the appointment. Without prompting, she replied, ‘The key is hydration.’ On my way out, I asked her for a source on that info. She didn’t know where the recommendation originated, but said she was working the COVID vax operation at the regional VA medical center, and that’s what they were telling everyone. They’d told me that at the clinic, too, but I took it as the standard advice for cold and flu in case of flu-like reaction, i.e., rest, take ibuprofen, drink lots of fluids, etc. She said that was also recommended, but said specifically that her group was telling people to make sure they stayed hydrated before and after being vaccinated.

      That’s the best I can do. Readers?

      1. GroundZeroAndLovinIt

        I found this list of recommendations to minimize side effects from the Nebraska Methodist Health System.

        When I went for my first dose, there was a table loaded with bottled water and onsite staff were handing it to everyone and telling them to hydrate; to drink at least 16 oz. of water.

        This site, Best Life, (part of the Meredith Health Group, whatever that is) is recommending hydration 24 hours before the vaccine and more afterwards.

        Tried to find guidance directly from Pfizer or Moderna re: pre- or post-hydration and whether it’s beneficial, came up dry. Ha.

        1. lordkoos

          The public vaccination site where I got my shots had cases of bottled water on hand for people, but I never heard anyone in charge talk about hydration either time I was there, & I figured it was just a courtesy. This seems like information that people need to hear but are not getting.

        2. Brunches with Cats

          Geo received written instructions upon scheduling Pfizer #2 to drink at least 16 ounces of water an hour prior “to help prevent side effects.” That struck me as awfully precise. I meant to ask if the vax provider had any supporting sources, but got bogged down with other stuff. Geo’s comment, in response to the blurb Lambert links to (above), is at the following link, in a thread with commentariat vax/hydration anecdotes:

      2. Tom Doak

        I read an article a week or two back (sorry no link) that they’d had quite a few people pass out from a combination of anxiety and dehydration, so I’m not sure the hydration rec has anything to do w the vaccine itself.

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      The only “official guidance” I’ve heard came from biden–“Anyone who doesn’t take the jab will ‘pay the price.'”

      But I can’t let the jimmy kimmel video pass without calling attention to that bratty adolescent, calling herself a “doctor,” and giving the finger to anyone who doesn’t realize how much “smarter” she is than they are.

      Real frickin’ persuasive.

      I wonder if she knows that the american medical community, of which she is a part, produces the most dismal “healthcare” results in the economically developed world, while demanding the highest compensation in that same world for such a consistently shameful and embarrassing professional performance.

  17. crittermom

    >”The Weight” Ford F150

    Swell. I already feel like a tiny, vulnerable bug when driving my 1987 Jeep Cherokee among the already huge pickup trucks on the roads. (“Sometimes you’re the windshield, sometimes you’re the bug”)

    My Jeep was not tiny when I bought it new in late 1986. Standard SUV size at the time.

    Meanwhile, trucks especially, have gotten huge. I need a ladder to access the bed of a new one.

    I don’t like them already and see them mostly as an ‘attitude’ vehicle, since so few are rarely, if ever, used to haul anything. (My apologies to those who may take offense to that statement. It’s just my opinion)

    So beginning next year I’ll also be contending with those trucks in an even heavier version?
    My vehicle doesn’t even have air bags (though I’m not sure that would matter).
    I already find myself looking UP at the hood of trucks, and must assume they may not even see me.

    Regarding the much greater weight (the Hummer will be over 9,000 pounds?!) and the wear on the roads, that’s already evident if you travel major truck routes, so is destined to only get worse.

    Fortunately, I learned long ago that living rural you must plan ahead and combine errands, so that greatly cuts my odds of a bad encounter with another (most likely, larger) vehicle.
    I only put 2,500 miles on my vehicle over the past year.
    Almost time for an oil change.

    PS–I’m not sure how comfortable I’d feel flying down the road riding an 1,800 pound battery in one of those new trucks?

    1. The Rev Kev

      ‘an 1,800 pound battery’?

      Not so much a car as a crematorium on wheels. It would be safer driving Ford Pintos around in a Demolition Derby.

    2. Alfred

      If you feel like a bug in a Jeep, try riding a bike on highways with little to no shoulder. Add to that the disdain buyers of those trucks generally feel for bikes. I have driven trucks myself and I understand the feeling you can get behind the wheel way up there on top of everybody else.

      1. Shargash

        And you will not hear the electric truck coming.

        I wonder what the overlap is between the big truck and electric vehicle demographics.

        1. CanCyn

          None of the pick-up drivers where I live will buy them if you can‘t hear them coming… the guys around here (it is always a guy that I see driving one) have a penchant for super noisy trucks. My husband tells me some come from the factory that way to meet the demand while others DIY to make their engines noisier. Why?

          1. rowlf

            They make their trucks noisy to raise the look-at-me factor. I don’t think the factory or dealer can legally make the exhaust loud as noise is an EPA restriction. My friends and I refer to the loud exhaust systems on trucks as peckerwood pipes and often they reduce performance by converting fuel into noise without the benefit of horsepower. (Having been involved in auto and motorcycle racing a well tuned exhaust system in harmony with the engine can be really quiet even without a muffler)

            Around me there are a lot of loud lifted trucks are driven by what appear to be gals, but it may just be guys that have transitioned. On the other hand, the some of the lifted Jeep drivers look very butch.

              1. rowlf

                Dunno. However, try substituting “loud attention getting vehicle driver” for “average pilot” in the following:

                “The average pilot, despite the sometimes swaggering exterior, is very much capable of such feelings as love, affection, intimacy and caring. These feelings just don’t involve anyone else.”

    3. antidlc

      Pre-pandemic, when I actually went into a grocery store, I started parking far away from the entrance, on the edges of the parking lot where there were fewer vehicles, so my small Toyota wouldn’t be sandwiched between two huge trucks.

      When you are sandwiched between two large vehicles, backing out of the parking spot became too dangerous. You cannot see if there are vehicles coming down the aisle

      1. ambrit

        That’s one big reason why I park back in whenever I can. I always park that way in the driveway at home. That way, I have extra warning of any hot rodders tearing down my street, before we meet “by accident.”
        It also helps to drive a dented up old heap. An extra ‘ding’ isn’t that noticeable.

      2. Eudora Welty

        I always enjoy (sarcasm alert) seeing huge-honking trucks parked in the “compact cars” section of the parking lot. I, too, hate getting my little econobox stuck between two trucks.

        1. Norberg

          I have a green colored pick’em up truck. I park in “Green Vehicle” spots. Is that wrong?

          1. Copeland

            The guy that runs the self storage facility where we have a few thing stored for three more weeks wears a cap that says the words “Go Green…” on top, below that is an image of a green colored fuel filler nozzle, and below that is the word “HANDLE”

            People around here love them some big, loud diesel trucks.

    4. fresno dan

      May 22, 2021 at 10:04 am
      And the media seems intend on providing plenty of free advertising for them. I am particularly annoyed by the shilling of the base price of 39K, when the true price of the vast majority of the trucks that will actually be sold will be in the mid 50K’s, if not higher.

      1. ambrit

        That also goes for the second hand market.
        I’m wondering if this entire progress is natural or a plan to jack up the prices of internal combustion engined vehicles so much so that when electric vehicles become widespread, their prices can be maintained at an artificially heightened retail profit.
        It would be educational to see comparisons of the ROIs of various sorts of transportation.

      2. antidlc

        As I drive around in my small Toyota, surrounded by huge trucks, I keep asking myself, “WHO can afford these trucks?”

    5. Chris Hargens

      “Attitude vehicle” — has a nice ring to it. Yeah, I don’t see many of those big, shiny new trucks used for hauling. But, then again, maybe they do their hauling at night under cover of darkness.

    6. rowlf

      Rolling ozone just isn’t as attention getting. Just saying.

      Actually, my question with electric vehicles is how do they handle runaway battery cells? As a mechanic batteries always scared the willies out of me and I have been around car and airplane batteries that melted down. (I think my PTSD kicked in just writing that)

    7. lordkoos

      I can’t speak to the mid-west or east coast, but if you live outside the big cities in the west, these giant pickups are the norm. It’s definitely some kind of self-expression for a lot of people as most of the trucks I see do not look like work trucks, being far too shiny and well-cared for.

      At $40k and up apiece, I suppose most of them are being bought on credit. I like to bike around the county a bit, but prefer the country roads with little traffic & will not ride for any distance on busy highways that have no shoulder.

  18. Mikel

    RE: “National Nurses United urges the CDC to revise its dangerous guidance saying vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks, get tested, or isolate after an exposure” National Nurses United

    Sorry, nurses…it’s $$$endemic$$$ now…

  19. The Rev Kev

    “What to make of the Blinken-Lavrov ‘showdown’ in Iceland”

    ‘If it is true as reported that the Biden administration is reducing U.S. opposition to the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany, this will be an excellent practical step to begin laying the foundation of a new U.S.-Russian relationship, and the start of cooperation on issues where their interests coincide.’

    Too late! Washington has just proven itself still ‘agreement-incapable’ – ‘ More sanctions as US slaps penalties on 13 Russian ships & a RESCUE service over roles in preparing Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline’-

    And in an epic bit of trolling, the article goes on to say ‘It may be noted in this regard that many recruits to ISIS and terrorists in the West (including the perpetrators of the Boston terrorist attack of 2013) come from Chechnya and other areas of Russia, and from groups that were previously involved in the Chechen insurgency against Russia.’ Unsaid in this is that these very same terrorists were financed, armed, trained and equipped by Washington itself. The Russian caught the US at it and confronted them in Washington with the proof and official Washington said ‘meh.’

    1. Nikkikat

      Yes, the US was finally called out on its creation of yet one more so called terrorist group, financed by the US. After that meeting and Putin outing the whole thing in a speech…..we suddenly defeated Isis and in a matter of months they and their Toyota pickups full of barrels of oil disappeared.
      By the way I watched a film called the Mauritanian a couple of days ago. The case of an individual set up and held captive in Guantanamo for 14 years. Great film. The MSM remains silent. After all we wouldn’t want all that cleaning up of George W Bush’s image to go to waste.

      1. marym

        Link to his book:

        “When The Mauritanian was first published as Guantánamo Diary in 2015—heavily redacted by the U.S. government—Mohamedou Ould Slahi was still imprisoned at the detainee camp in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, despite a federal court ruling ordering his release, and it was unclear when or if he would ever see freedom…

        …Now he is able to tell his story in full, with previously censored material restored.”ánamo-diary/9780316328609/

  20. QuarterBack

    Re the Citizen App, I can’t see how this wouldn’t end up creating a huge civil liability risk for whatever harm could be claimed as a result of the actions of your contracted “agent”. If it catches on, expect home owners’ policies to exclude liability coverage for your contractors (if it’s not there already).

    1. Alfred

      Insurance Certificates from your contractors are the only way to go. If they can’t be responsible, they should not be in the security business. If they are worried about being sued, they are less likely to do any stupid thing that comes along.

      1. ambrit

        Reading my history I consistently see examples of where “inconvenient” persons are “disappeared” by said same “security contractors.” Later stages of the same game include the active participation of “Agents of the State” in the ‘liquidation’ process. A bullet in the back of the head can be considered as “sufficient liability insurance.”
        I note that the real threat to public independence comes from the “Fusion Centres.” Small and medium sized “security contractors” running around is a threat, but on a limited scale. When all of these “security contractors” are coordinated from above, the real trouble begins.
        The real ‘lesson’ I drew from the demise of the Occupy movement was how easy it was to eliminate all of the separate Occupy groups, overnight. For that alone, a certain melanoderm ex-President deserves to be sent to the Hague to stand trial.

        1. polecat

          “When all of these security contractors” are coordinated …” e. i. ‘The CorpseCorps’

          …. almost like something out of a Margaret Atwood dystopia series.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > almost like something out of a Margaret Atwood dystopia series

            Or Snow Crash, which seems to get “the crapification of everyday life” under neoliberalism exactly right (refocusing Stephensen’s glibertarianism just a bit).

          2. ambrit

            Is there a Margaret (or as Terry Pratchett says it, ‘Magrat,’) Atwood utopia series?

    2. Darthbobber

      From what I’ve seen of that App in Philly it breathlessly identifies about 8 out of every 1 incidents.

  21. KLG

    I hadn’t paid much attention to so-called pickup trucks until lately, when I noticed a row of 20 of them (white the most common color) in the parking lot at my golf course (yes, there are three walking lefty golfers in the US; I do not know the other two). What was once a useful utilitarian vehicle has become the largest selling penis extender in the American universe. Based on their height, four doors, short beds that will not hold a sheet of plywood, and pristine exteriors, not one of them was an actual working truck. And from casual conversation with their caretakers, 99% of them are accessorized with an auxiliary extender in the form of a 9mm Glock (or similar) within easy reach, and often an auxiliary auxiliary in their golf bag; you never know when a good man with a gun will be necessary to protect himself from a bad man with a gun on a golf course. USA! USA! USA!

    1. Nikkikat

      While purchasing a Ford Escape last year, we walked out side the showroom floor and there was a massive F150 sitting there. This truck was a special edition called the “king Ranch” model. It was tricked out with luxurious seats, carpeting fine leather appointments etc.
      It’s list price was nearly 100,000 dollars.

      1. Wukchumni

        You know how it goes with $100k pick up truck petrosexuals, money obviously was no object when pimping their ride.

        1. ambrit

          We have to give credit where Credit is due. As long as it’s ‘on the books’ as a positive part of the GDP, it’s all good.
          As the “Smartest Guys in the Room” say; “You can bring a Mark to the Market, but you can’t make him think. [In fact, that’s the last thing you want him or her to do.]”

      2. Tom Stone

        I know someone who bought a bright red “King Ranch Special” a number of years ago.
        His wife bought a horse ( Stabled elsewhere) about 3 years after he got the truck, but hauling hay is about as much as he uses it for.
        It’s a luxury vehicle with lots of bells and whistles, price out the options and $10-$15K of the price is for the “King Ranch” Logo.
        And he was doing serious work on it when he had a little less than 80K miles on it.
        When I wrote “Luxury Vehicle” I meant it.
        Quiet, comfortable, superb sound system and lots of power.
        I’ll stick with my ’98 Tacoma all the same.

        1. ambrit

          I wish I still had my old, and since deceased, Datsun/Nissan compact pickup truck. I literally drove it until it died, that occurring on Interstate 12 outside of Hammond, Louisiana.

          1. tegnost

            There’s a shrine there bearing faded chrysanthemums no doubt…
            Say it’s name!
            My 56 gmc was the old girl…(wipes tear…)
            Straight 6 270, basically a really big sewing machine

            1. Alfred

              86 Toyota 5 speed truck here. 15 good years, then engine block cracked at 323,000. A lot of big spiders and maybe a mouse or two lost their homes. I actually did shed tears as they towed it away–never before or since.

    2. JBird4049

      In the Bay Area, land of traffic and bad parking, I have seen people driving clean full size trucks with full size beds. I’m like “Just how do you park the thing… in San Francisco?”

      1. MichaelSF

        In my S.F. neighborhood mostly they just get out, look at the truck hanging over into one or both driveways on either side (25′ wide lots) and walk away with nary a thought about it.

        I took the rear step-bumper off the 2002 GMC Safari van I had to make it barely squeeze into the space in front of the house. Before that I had E-150 Fords, and I think 1987 was about the last year for the shorter wheelbase model that would just fit. After that model year, no more full-size vans for me.

        There are also a lot of modern cars that are too long to legally park. I think the length and parking issues just don’t cross a lot of purchasers’ minds.

    3. Brunches with Cats

      Earth First! used to sell a bumper sticker to slap surreptitiously on parked trucks like that, that read, “If your dick was as small as mine, you’d need a muscle vehicle like this, too.” It was printed on cheap paper backed with super adhesive. Unfortunately, pervasive surveillance nowadays would take all the fun out of it.

    1. Pavel

      I read that article earlier today (via the excellent Automatic Earth blog). This is the most stunning, and alarming, section in my opinion:

      Wade points out that the “consensus” that Covid must have an entirely natural origin was established by two early pronouncements, one in The Lancet in February 2020 and the other in Nature Medicine in March 2020. These were op-eds, not scientific papers. Both spoke with certainty about matters which it was impossible to be certain about. Wade writes: “It later turned out that the Lancet letter had been organized and drafted by Peter Daszak, president of the EcoHealth Alliance of New York. Dr Daszak’s organisation funded coronavirus research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. If the SARS2 virus had indeed escaped from research he funded, Dr. Daszak would be potentially culpable. This acute conflict of interest was not declared to the Lancet’s readers. To the contrary, the letter concluded, “We declare no competing interests.”

      A breathtaking display of lack of medical ethics by all involved. And Fauci’s recent testimony in congress was duplicitous at best and perjury at worst.

      The entire article is definitely worth reading. Thanks, Flora.

      1. jefemt

        That article was soooo depressing in so many ways.
        Follow the money.
        S L I C C (self-licking ice cream cones).
        Asking the wrong questions and having the wrong end goals
        Being so absorbed by the science the broader moral implications seem bypassed completely
        Co-opting by evil power and money people, and militarist nation states.

        On the other hand, the world could use a lot less humans, myself included

      2. flora

        Thank you.
        The late 18th/early 19th century often referred to the real world’s workings as the “clockwork of the universe” – wherein scientists often referenced their own latest grasp of a new technology via newly reliable clockworks to explain the natural world’s phenomena – I wonder if the latest referencing to the “data coding of the universe” is in like manor a reference to the latest technology promising absolute understanding and control of the natural world. I still remember a prof in my undergrad IT studies days posing the question: “Is your mother a computer program, why or why not.” / ;)

        1. flora

          adding: a new human understanding of the physical world’s working which seems to (again) eliminate human agency in the physical world’s workings is not an excuse to eliminate the importance of human morality in the human world. My 2 cents.

    2. Aumua

      We probably shouldn’t implicate all of science for its failures around one single question, especially with COVID being the political hot potato that it is. In fact I would implicate politics before science even in the case of the COVID origin question.

      1. cuibono

        It ain’t science being implicated its scientists who now considers asking questions as inimical to thier job

        1. Aumua

          Well Flora said “Science has become a cartel” which I’m not even sure what that means, but to me it does sound like implicating science in something bad.

            1. Aumua

              I see, I see. I direct my comment to the author of the article then. He’s probably not here to respond, oh well.

    3. PlutoniumKun

      Thats very interesting, thanks. If there is one good thing about Covid is that it has laid bare these vast problems within the broader science/regulatory/public health area. Whether anything will happen I don’t know, I’ve seen a vast amount of gaslighting going on. Its also very obvious how armies of mid level doctors/scientists have become willing guardians/defenders of the official narrative, you can see this all the time in the twitter threads of those scientists who have been willing to break ranks. As someone once observed, people are rarely thanked for being proven right if they were right at the expense of someone in positions of authority.

  22. chuck roast

    A Nonprofit Promised to Preserve Wildlife. Then It Made Millions Claiming It Could Cut Down Trees.

    Very good article by Pro Publica on “because markets!” It has all of the corrupt elements and demonstrates why it will take a silver bullet to kill carbon offsets.

    We have the corrupt regulator (CARB) whose staff clearly knows a scam when they see one, but who actively supports or acquiesces to the grift . We have a malleable appellate court that ruled in favor of the corrupt regulator on its entirely suspect ‘carbon offset additions’. We have an NGO (Audubon) looking to beef-up its cash assets and is unconcerned about soiling someone else nest. Well, Lord Acton had it right, but it’s really much simpler than that…”markets corrupt absolutely.”

    1. Synoia

      That’s why Greed was considered the worst of the seven sins.

      Out current Civilization (and I use that word loosely) is driven by greed. It may be called other things, efficiency, growth, etc, but it is greed.

  23. Mikel

    RE: “If the public has vaccine hesitancy, the government has developed strategy hesitancy” ABC Australia

    Some have experiment hesitancy…not baccine hesitancy.

    1. Alfred

      Agreed. And it’s to the point now where it does not even seem like an experiment any more that will lead to improvement of the vaccines. They don’t even want to know–collateral damage is “expected” and if it costs money to fix, well, ffft.

  24. a fax machine

    In regards to “business becoming more Chinese”, we can see this be used to justify reopening of domestic metals mining especially lithium. The present attempts to create a Californian “lithium valley” in the Imperial Valley and Owens Valley is the most recent example, though I doubt anyone in Washington (or Sacramento) has any practical idea of how to setup a battery supply chain that voters will tolerate. Mind you, every city I have ever lived in tried to ban or otherwise remove their local battery recycling plant, all of which are EPA-designated brownfield land. This basic component of the supply chain is unwanted and nobody wants to build it.

    Likewise, out in the mediasphere there is a growing realization that Chinese software is starting to replace American apps. Zoom and Tik-Tok are the most prominent examples, and only now are the bourgeoisie realizing that American memes are no longer popular. See the “gay military” ad – I have nothing against it, but on these social media platforms it is compared unfavorably against the more nationalistic ads China and Russia put out. Small, but indicative of a larger shift. Ted Cruz recently made a distasteful joke about it.

    Meanwhile, PG&E can’t even keep the lights on, most mass transit is not running, and there is growing skepticism of Amtrak’s long-term viability. The solution to all of this is “get a car”. The rot killing America from within has never been more visible than present.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > every city I have ever lived in tried to ban or otherwise remove their local battery recycling plant, all of which are EPA-designated brownfield land. This basic component of the supply chain is unwanted and nobody wants to build it.

      A point worth looking into.

      1. ambrit

        Those would be lead acid batteries. The problems with dealing with those items are not so much technical as having to do with the enforcement of safety procedures.
        The new crop of electric storage batteries are Lithium Ion. The recycling issues for Lithium Ion are different from the recycling issues associated with lead acid batteries.
        Something useful on the Lithium ion battery recycling issue:

  25. The Rev Kev

    “If the public has vaccine hesitancy, the government has developed strategy hesitancy”

    That article says ‘In Australia, only one person — a 48-year-old woman — has died from the AstraZeneca vaccine’ but that is a lie. There have been more deaths but the official line is to say that the vaccine that they had was totally unrelated to the blood-clots that killed them and even if it was, they probably had underlying conditions. I don’t know if anybody is keeping track of vaccine-related deaths in North America. Scotty from Marketing would love to throw the whole country open and tell people to get the vaccine or die but he has two problems. One is a supply issue – there are not enough. The second is that he has a Federal election coming up. So how does this play out?

    I do not think that there has been a Coronavirus related death in Australia for several months now (knock on wood). But he has three business groups on his back to open up. There is the tourist industry that wants those tourists back from overseas with their sweet money, especially all those cruise ships. There is the University industry that wants those international students back with their money. Yes, they could bring them in and quarantine them for a fortnight but that is not good enough for them. If this keeps up, they may have to resort letting more locals into Uni – the horror. And yes, they are more industry than educational institutions. And then there is the business people that want all those cheap workers, err, emigrants back in again. Things are getting so desperate that they may have to raise wages which has been flat-lining the past coupla years. Maybe add a fourth group – all those whinging that they do not want to miss out on their annual trip to Bali a second year in a row.

    So right now we have doctors and corporate CEOs telling us that we are living in a “gilded cage” and are ‘sitting ducks’ and we have to escape. One jerk in the Australian Financial Review said ‘Every year, 170,000 Australians die. If 500 of them are from COVID, that would be the price to pay for rejoining the world. I think that kind of a world is achievable, and would perhaps be a necessary trade-off.’ (Shitij Kapur, Dean of the faculty of medicine, dentistry and health sciences at the Uni of Melbourne.) So we open up. And then people die. Lots of them, Those that are vaccinated can still carry the virus and infect those who have not yet been vaccinated after all. Even then, the vaccine does not work all the time. And you have major outbreaks. Business close down, open up and close down continuously. The budget goes deeper into the red. Hospitals are hard pressed to cope at times. And then more virulent strains appear that are brought in from overseas that may spread quicker and are more lethal but it is too late to do anything as the virus is now endemic to the population. You think that most people here want that sort of future whereas now they can go to a movie restaurant or football game free of fear?

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Did you read the linked article, The Pandemic Speaks?

        “I found inept bureaucracies incapable of managing catastrophic risk led by a callous political elite that prized money more than workers. What a marvelous and entirely predictable reception!”

        One of the many on-point zingers.

        1. cuibono

          I see that the leader of NZ is being labeled anti vax due to her suggestion that more time is needed to ascertain the true efficacy of vaccines

          1. Tom Bradford

            If the Pandemic wants to speak in NZ it’ll have to do 14 days in quarantine at the border like everybody – and I mean everybody – else.

            I hadn’t heard about our ‘leader’ being labelled anti-vax, and the drive to get everyone vaccinated who wants to be is gathering speed with care to seeing it’s done right rather than in a panic – my wife has already had her two as she’s a ‘front-line worker’, ie she works at the local library.

            If Jacinda has suggested that more time is needed to ascertain the true efficacy of vaccines I’d assume that means she’s not just accepting at face-value the PR of the manufacturers which seems pretty wise to me.

    1. Chris

      One small quibble:

      And then there is the business people that want all those cheap workers, err, emigrants back in again.

      Emigrants are those who leave. Immigrants are those who arrive.
      And yes, Rev, I acknowledge you were accurately quoting the press reports.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Thanks for that Chris. That is what happens when you let auto-correct do your thinking for you.

  26. Wukchumni

    It started with a petrified tree, half-buried in the mud of the Mokelumne River watershed in the Sierra Nevada foothills. The site intrigued Greg Francek, a ranger for East Bay Municipal Utility District, as he was walking the valley last summer.

    He inspected further, and what he discovered led to one of the most significant fossil discoveries in California history.

    “I looked around the area further and I found a second tree,” Francek said in an EBMUD statement released this week, documenting the discovery. “And then a third and so on. After finding dozens of trees I realized that what I was looking at was the remains of a petrified forest.”

    Petrified wood comes from trees that were buried in the fine-grained sediments of deltas, floodplains or volcanic ash beds, and turned to stone over millions of years.

    After three weeks of surveying the site, Francek made an even more curious discovery.

    “I located the first vertebrate fossils,” he said. “What I didn’t comprehend at the time was the amazing fact that I was looking at the bones of great beasts that had roamed this landscape millions of years ago.”

  27. fresno dan
    The center tends to be boring. Political movements draw sustenance from the antics of the extremes, whether left or right. Recent events have validated this truism. At the opposite ends of the contemporary political spectrum, weirdness flourishes. In San Francisco, a proudly “woke” school board votes to expunge from public schools the names of notable Americans judged guilty of past sins, including George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. On the far right, meanwhile, belief that a Washington, DC, pizzeria served as a front for a child sex-trafficking ring directed by Hillary Clinton and other Democratic luminaries gains a large following, inducing one demented individual to shoot up the place.

    I cite these bizarre episodes merely to illustrate how in recent years politics-as-theater has eclipsed politics-as-governance, a phenomenon to which Donald Trump and the Trump-hating media have jointly contributed.
    The place to begin? Jettison taken-for-granted propositions that have manifestly outlived their usefulness:
    concede that the so-called unipolar moment has ended;
    admit that U.S. military supremacy is a dangerous illusion;
    acknowledge that the American “way of life” condemns large numbers of American citizens to lives of want, squalor, and spiritual emptiness;
    appreciate the insidiousness of information technology in undermining genuine freedom;
    cease to ignore the underside of American materialism, which confuses more with better; and
    acknowledge the social disarray stemming directly from the abandonment of traditional moral norms.

  28. Jason

    Mortgage payments on pause? Here’s what you need to know when it’s time to resume paying.

    It’s time for homeowners who opted to pause mortgage payments during the pandemic to start negotiating how they plan to resume paying their lenders.

    Mortgage servicers took their time last spring advising customers affected by the pandemic about their right to hit the pause button on making payments with no documentation required and no penalty charged to get back on track.

    Now that most of those borrowers are preparing to resume making payments, mortgage servicers are again facing criticism for not being forthcoming with customers about their options.

    Because those borrowers typically have less equity to work with, consumer advocates say they will need to take the initiative to work out a payment resumption plan with their mortgage servicers — which include traditional banks and other payment processors. Help is available from volunteer legal aid organizations and federally funded housing counselors.

    “This is often very complicated stuff,” said Mike McArdle, assistant director of mortgage markets for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. “What is a deferral? What is a modification? What are term extensions? It’s important for borrowers to understand what is going on with their loans.”

    What borrowers are saying

    The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau reported that in March, it received the largest number of consumer complaints about mortgages since April 2018. Complaints mentioning forbearance or related terms reached their highest monthly average since spring 2020, when consumers seeking forbearance protection made available for borrowers of federally backed loans first began reporting that they were getting inaccurate information from mortgage servicers.

    Andrea Bopp Stark, an attorney at the nonprofit National Consumer Law Center, says some mortgage servicers are again providing confusing and contradictory information about borrowers’ options for resuming payments on federally backed loans. Some servicers of private market loans not subject to federal requirements are requiring borrowers to pay back missed payments in a lump sum or make monthly payments over a couple of years, she said.

    Although bound by the foreclosure moratorium, private-market lenders are not required to provide any affordable post-forbearance options, Stark said. She’s aware of one consumer who had to borrow $30,000 to get current and another who had to dip into his retirement account.

    Meanwhile, some servicers of Federal Housing Administration loans aren’t properly offering to defer missed payments to the end of the loans or offering modifications that could lower borrowers’ monthly payments if they can’t afford to pay the pre-pandemic amount, she said.

    Looks like things are just getting started.

    They’re like a person who hasn’t, you know, had it in a while. They become moody and disillusioned. They need to get paid.

    1. Jason

      …mortgage servicers are again facing criticism for not being forthcoming with customers about their options.

      Because those borrowers typically have less equity to work with, consumer advocates say they will need to take the initiative to work out a payment resumption plan with their mortgage servicers — which include traditional banks and other payment processors.

      1. Jason

        Listen, we saw that you were down. We took the initiative to help you. Alright, so we lied and now you’re further down than before we were so delighted to make your acquaintance. No matter. Time to grow up, take some initiative, and get us our money. Or else we’re taking it all back, you worthless, good-for-nothing…

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      This should scare the shit out of anyone who has taken advantage of the so-called mortgage moratorium.

      Does no one remember obama’s HAMP mortgage “modification” program??? The internet was rife with stories of house “owners” who claimed to have been told “not to make payments” while their mortgage mod applications were “processing,” only to be foreclosed for not making payments.

      Remember the “rocket docket?” jeezus h. christ, it wasn’t that long ago. One West Bank was born to reap the profits during the chaos, and biden watched the whole thing unfold.

      1. pjay

        The *hackers* were Russian, of course! But *our* athletes are pure. If they are taking stimulants, then they have a damn good reason!

        1. urblintz

          The hypocrisy is astounding but I should add – I am as astonished as everyone with Simone Bile’s remarkable talent and do not begrudge her the earned spotlight. She is phenomenal and it’s damn tragic to KNOW that, had she been Russian, many of the voices praising her skill would now be denouncing and quite likely successful in ruining her career and reputation. She’d have been disappeared a long time ago from the pages of Pravda on the Hudson.

          1. pjay

            I absolutely agree. I’m not trying to denigrate Simone Biles at all. But the ability of the US to use its influence to smear and disrupt the careers of other young athletes for bulls**t propaganda purposes is beyond disgusting.

  29. allan

    Nursing homes invoke Trump-era protections to fight lawsuits over Covid deaths [Politico]

    Nursing homes are increasingly seeking to shield themselves from a raft of wrongful death lawsuits from the families of Covid-19 victims by invoking new liability protections they received from Washington last year as the coronavirus tore through the facilities.

    About 200 lawsuits in nearly half the states have already been filed, and the industry says it’s bracing for many more in the coming months given the virus’ outsize toll on residents and staff. But an emergency preparedness law expanded by Congress last year limiting health providers’ exposure to coronavirus-related lawsuits — and the Trump administration’s broad interpretation of those protections — are upending litigation against nursing homes. …

    In recent weeks, a federal judge in California found that a nursing home was shielded by federal liability protections, and another in Louisiana agreed to consider a similar request. While most of the lawsuits are still pending, judges in at least 30 other cases have rejected nursing homes’ requests to change venues. But even when the courts have ruled against nursing homes, legal experts say that appeals could drag out the cases for months or even years longer and discourage others from filing lawsuits. …

    It fell to Trump’s health department to spell out how the liability protections should work in real life, including cases of life or death due to alleged negligence.

    The Department of Health and Human Services’ legal office throughout the pandemic issued guidance documents and advisory opinions. And as a growing number of nursing homes facing lawsuits claimed Prep Act protections, the top lawyer at Trump’s HHS, Robert Charrow, issued an expansive legal advisory in January. …

    What else has Robert Charrow been up to? Thank you for asking.

    HHS lawyer pushed to gut testing safety rules to help “special interest friends”: Watchdog group
    [Salon, 2020]

    A watchdog group has accused Robert Charrow, the general counsel at the Department of Health and Human Services, of pushing to ease testing rules to help his former clients in the medical device and diagnostic industry.

    Charrow, who was appointed by President Trump in 2017, led the administration’s push to ease rules ensuring the safety of coronavirus diagnostic tests developed by individual labs before HHS Secretary Alex Azar “overruled” Food and Drug Administration (FDA) officials to revoke their ability to regulate the tests …

    Draining the swamp – into the HHS Office of General Counsel.

    1. Katniss Everdeenr

      Trump, Trump, Feds, Trump, HHS, Trump….

      Not one single mention of andrew cuomo, who made sure liability protections in the state of new york were bulletproof.

      Not. One. Single. Mention.

      But let’s get all exercised about some other skank we’ve never heard of named robert charrow.

      And, of course, Trump. Always Trump. Thanks for the “info,” politico.

      1. allan

        I noticed that, too, and there is certainly a lot of fault at the state level. And not just in New York.
        By the way, New York State has 5% of the US population,
        but Andrew Cuomo sure seems to be living rent free in a lot of people’s minds.

        1. tegnost

          yes, nowadays we can pretty much bundle them all into one tangled skein of yarn soaked in toxic sludge.

  30. Wukchumni

    Most of the pioneers of Southern California chose to set up new farms in the warm plains and valleys of the region, but a few brave souls set foot on San Bernardino and San Gabriel. We stepped in, challenged Mother Nature, and planted highland apple orchards.

    The earliest apple orchards in the mountains of Southern California were planted in 1868 by Enoch Parish in the Yucaipa region of the San Bernardino Mountains and later became known as Oak Glen.

    Joe Wilshere came to Oak Glen in 1877 and, with his hard-working family, planted about 2,500 apple trees in the range of about 4,500 to 5,100 feet above sea level.

    Clyde Ranch was founded around 1853 when Almon Clyde purchased real estate in the upper part of Lone Pine Canyon from pioneer pioneer Georges Worthout. After temporarily settling in a tent on the premises, Almon and Priscilla Clyde and their nine children began to develop the ranch into successful farming and cattle ranch management.

    Around 1910, Clyde started a 70-acre apple orchard along the southern slopes of the canyon. Their orchards were located at an altitude of about 4,900 feet and featured Rome and delicious apples.

    Clyde sold apples directly from the ranch and also sold crops on the San Bernardino Valley Fruit Exchange. The family built a large apple packing hut in the late 1910s or early 1920s to support their business. The quaint ranch house on the premises was built around 1940.

    In 1890, Lightwood’s Sumner B. Wright, of the same name, purchased 40 acres of land in the Swath Out Valley from a miner known as McGaffy or “Gaffy.” Gaffy’s plot contained a small stone house, a small apple orchard, and many mature pine trees. Wright soon began developing real estate and expanding ownership, making his ranch the largest business in the region.

    Wright built a beautiful mountain house on Wrightwood’s current Millroad, and with his wife Kate (Boon), Wright made the ranch an economic and social highlight of Swarthout Valley.

    In 1910, Sumner handed over the ranch cattle breeding to his nephew Bufford Wright and Kate’s nephew Bob Smith, allowing him to concentrate on the apple orchard. Eventually, Wright’s orchards stretched west from today’s Wrightwood Village to Flume Canyon Drive. Wright’s orchards range in altitude from about 6,000 to 6,200 feet, and weather conditions at this altitude have always been a factor in annual plants.

  31. JBird4049

    >>>California unveils sweeping plan for full reopening on June 15 as COVID fades Los Angeles Times

    That very news article says only 2/3 of Californians are vaccinated leaving roughly 13,000,000 unvaccinated, who knows how many partially vaccinated or how many have an incomplete response to it, and the variants of COVID that are now appearing that may or may not get past the current vaccines.

    So we have mix of the protected, partially protected, completely unprotected, a mix of COVID strains, and the Summer where isolation crazed Californian are going to be hurling themselves outdoors (not that I blame anyone for that last as I’m going/gone cray cray myself}. All this while saying mask wearing might not be necessary. From my limited knowledge, this is a fabulous way to create nastier COVIDs.

    If I did not know better, I would believe that my beloved state leadership was trying to create a wave of NuCOVID (Now With Improved Lethality!) as those old TV commercials might say. But really, they are being politically astute in the very short term while suicidally stupid politically and homicidal as well. Much like the current American corporations and investors. Long term destruction for very short term gains.

  32. The Rev Kev

    “America’s Bluest State Loves Its Republican Governor”

    An interesting article this. Wasn’t this how politics was once done? Different people and parties making compromises and accommodations to each other instead of following rigid ideological issues? This guy – Phil Scott – sounds an interesting character. His own party does not seem to like him because he is not ‘one of them.’ The Democrats do not like him because he is, well, not ‘one of them.’ But the people of Vermont turn out to vote him back in. Sure, it could be because of his standing against Trump but I am willing to bet that it was more because he saved lives during the pandemic by his responses while also putting the State in the black. So of course now both the Democrats and Republicans will absolutely hate him for it.

    Good Antidote du Jour that image. They are good kitties!

  33. Mme Generalist

    Once in Thrall of ‘the Generals,’ Congress Now Gives the Orders on Military Issues NYT (Re Silc). The deck: “The shift mirrors broader societal frustrations after two decades of wars, a pervasive problem of sexual assault and harassment of female troops and the exposure of political extremism in the ranks.” But the imperial mission? No problemo.

    Once you’ve been told that the usage in spanish is problema, if you continue to use the incorrect word, you’re being difficult for an inscrutable reason. Explain. Spanish is a real language.

    1. Pat

      Feel free to blame James Cameron and Arnold Schwarzenegger, once the Terminator butchers the phrase it is in the popular culture zeitgeist as is.

    2. lambert strether

      Now you’ve been told that’s the American idiom; English is full of such borrowings. Don’t bother to thank me.

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