Links 5/24/2021

Pennies In Bags of Water Make Flies Flee Tennessee Farm Bureau (Furzy Mouse).

Glut of cash in US financial system pressures Fed policy rate FT

For Startup Leaders, SPACs Have Lost Their Allure WSJ. If Silicon Valley can’t stomach them, SPACs must be… quite something.

Former Goldman Executive Sumit Rajpal Launches Buyout Firm WSJ. “[T]argeting companies that are sitting on valuable troves of data that can be used more effectively to spur growth.”


New Research Suggests Number of Kids Hospitalized for COVID Is Overcounted New York Magazine. Many interesting issues raised. The researchers distinguish between children hospitalized for Covid (symptomatic) and those hospitalized with Covid (asymptomatic, tested in hospital). But I am not sure that takes the possibility of asymptomatic long-haul children into account. And then there’s this:

Explaining why the official tallies were found to be so far off, Baral said the electronic databases that hospitals use are administrative in purpose, meant for billing, resource management, et cetera. ‘They were not designed to infer the prevalence and severity of an infectious virus.’ We have a desire for instant, accurate data, he said, but validation takes time.

So in essence — resource allocation decisions having been made — we’ve engineered EHR data systems to kill us for profit, right? Sounds about right (and see under “Health Care,” below). Interesting article, but read with care.

* * *

Face masks effectively limit the probability of SARS-CoV-2 transmission Science. From the Abstract: “We show that variations in mask efficacy can be explained by different regimes of virus abundance and related to population-average infection probability and reproduction number. For SARS-CoV-2, the viral load of infectious individuals can vary by orders of magnitude. We find that most environments and contacts are under conditions of low virus abundance (virus-limited) where surgical masks are effective at preventing virus spread. More advanced masks and other protective equipment are required in potentially virus-rich indoor environments including medical centers and hospitals. Masks are particularly effective in combination with other preventive measures like ventilation and didzstancing.” “[P]otentially virus-rich indoor environments including” is deftly worded. It’s not that Aerosol Generating Procedures (AGPs) indoors in hospitals are not sources of aerosols; it’s that AGPs are not the only source of aerosols (and indeed shouting, singing, talking, and breathing are the most important sources in real-world crowded, close-contact, closed environments, as the epidemiology consistently shows).

* * *

COVIDPoops19: Summary of Global SARS-CoV-2 Wastewater Monitoring Efforts UC Merced (JustAnotherVolunteer). Interactive map. 54 countries, 2,216 sites.

COVID testing’s value shrinks as vaccines beat back virus AP

Vaccines’ success could undercut Biden’s multibillion-dollar school testing plans Politico. Sniffer dogs would be ideal for school districts but whatever.

Covid: Sniffer dogs could bolster screening at airports BBC. Use the dogs for mass screening, sort the false positives. This is not hard.

Singapore Approves Covid Breath Test That Gives Immediate Result Bloomberg

* * *

More states turn to lotteries in vaccine hesitancy fight The Hill

The Families Torn Apart By Vaccine Politics New York Magazine

Covid shadow hangs over WHO international meet Agence France Presse. I’ll bet.

Readers know my priors, so:

Exclusive | Coronavirus: Post exposes undisclosed Vancouver outbreaks, as medical chief says relatives blame her for deaths South China Morning Post. SCMP breaking stories in Canada…..


Destiny and divination: Online fortunetelling booming among young people in Hong Kong NBC

Feeding the Chinese City Progressive International

Life imitates comedy at the Pentagon South China Morning Post


EU denounces Myanmar junta’s electoral body plan to dissolve Suu Kyi party Reuters

ASEAN’s Myanmar dilemma East Asia Forum

Beloved Myanmar Band Tarnishes Reputation by Playing for Junta Leaders The Irrawaddy

Duterte’s daughter Sara in focus as his presidency winds down Nikkei Asian Review. Another dynasty.

Japan ramps up mass vaccinations in Tokyo and Osaka amid Covid surge BBC


Iran says IAEA access to nuclear sites images has ended Al Jazeera

Hamas claims victory even as Gaza lies in ruins FT

Israel: Is this the beginning of the end of apartheid? Middle East Eye (nvl).

How an Israeli attack in Gaza led to the firing of an AP reporter Responsible Statecraft

Former CIA Director: We Were Surprised by Arab Spring Spy Talk [nods vigorously].

The BBI Judgment and the Invention of Kenya Verfassungsblog


Revealed: Third of British cabinet, including Boris Johnson, has been funded by Israel or pro-Israel lobby groups Declassified UK

Uh oh (on yesterday’s FT story, “Two vaccine doses needed for strong protection against variant found in India, data show“:

Private hospitals provided average of seven Covid beds a day despite £2bn Government contracts iNews

Eurovision Winners Måneskin Embroiled In Drug Controversy Hollywood Reporter

New Cold War

Minutes to touchdown: the moment a Belarusian dissident knew his time was up Reuters. Not like there isn’t a precedent.

Opinion: Russia’s attack on U.S. media has become a test case Editorial Board, WaPo. “That makes [Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty] a test case of whether independent journalism can survive in Russia.”

Why the Reykjavik Meeting Was A Nightmare for Kyiv The National Interest

What Is Russia Doing in the Black Sea? Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Biden Administration

Key progressive initiatives stall in Congress as some on the left urge Biden to go bold, and go alone CNN

Stimulus payments via the child tax credit help families. Let’s make its expansion permanent. NBC

Biden will host the Floyd family but will miss his police reform deadline Politico

Postal Service sees chance to turn the page after tumultuous year The Hill

Democrats en Deshabille

Why the Democrats Need an Architectural Vision to Counter the Right’s The New Republic

Republican Funhouse

By singling out Dominion, the GOP has successfully deflected from legitimate election-security concerns involving America’s largest voting machine vendor, ES&S. Jennifer Cohn. I hate to keep harping on this, but if Arizona’s election officials had used hand-marked paper ballots, hand-counted in public, the Maricopa recounting process would have consisted of… simply counting the paper ballots again.

Health Care

What 600 physicians said about trust in healthcare organization leadership during pandemic Becker’s Hospital Review

Covid Killed His Father. Then Came $1 Million in Medical Bills. NYT

Rather like billing the family for the executioner’s bullet:

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Groundbreaking Smart Toilet takes photos of your poo to send to doctors for analysis Daily Star (Re Silc).

U.S. has almost 500,000 job openings in cybersecurity CBS

People Are Using an Ancient Method of Writing Arabic to Combat AI Censors Hyperallergic

It only looks like Chinese:

Our Famously Free Press

Lateral Reading: Reading Less and Learning More When Evaluating Digital Information SSRN. “To investigate how people determine the credibility of digital information, we sampled 45 individuals: 10 Ph.D. historians, 10 professional fact checkers, and 25 Stanford University undergraduates. We observed them as they evaluated live websites and searched for information on social and political issues. Historians and students often fell victim to easily manipulated features of websites, such as official-looking logos and domain names. They read vertically, staying within a website to evaluate its reliability. In contrast, fact checkers read laterally, leaving a site after a quick scan and opening up new browser tabs in order to judge the credibility of the original site. Compared to the other groups, fact checkers arrived at more warranted conclusions in a fraction of the time.” Lateral reading is what we do…. .

Black Injustice Tipping Point

Anti-Racism Handout (PDF) Robin DiAngelo. Dated 2012, uploaded 2016, first link under “Handouts,” 2021.

Nothing Has Made Me Feel More American Than Going to Jail The Marshall Project

Guillotine Watch

Convicted Libor trader Tom Hayes to join private spook firm FT

Class Warfare

Workers matter and government works: eight lessons from the Covid pandemic Robert Reich, Guardian (Re Silc).

Karl Marx and Milton Friedman: What They Got Right The Globalist

Capitalism and Identity: A Review of Ashley J. Bohrer’s ‘Marxism and Intersectionality’ Hampton Institute. Dense but good. If this is the vineyard in which you are laboring, it’s a must-read.

Want to “Be Your Own Boss”? Democratic Socialism Is for You. Jacobin

Status Anxiety as a Service Noah Smith, Noahpinion

Turns Out It’s Pretty Good: Enemies New York Magazine

Consent Theater Cory Doctorow, One Zero

Antidote du Jour (Crittermom):

Crittermom writes: “After dropping my puppy at the vets (an hour away) for the day, I ventured a mile down the road to a small lake that was being drained, after reading about it and the bird activity as a result. There were at least three dozen White-faced Ibis, three Avocets, and this lone seagull who seemed to prefer hanging out with the Ibis, as it joined one for a stroll along the shore.”

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. jsn

    ”Lateral reading is what we do…. .”

    And what all the walled gardens are increasingly desperate to prevent.

    NC is stilts for those who want to step over the walls!

    1. philnc

      Lateral Reading: Downloaded and started read this today before getting to work, then passed on to my college-age kids with the subject line “Skills for the modern world”. Raised an interesting question for me though, assuming most resources are unreliable or prone to unreliability (due to conscious distortion or suppression, bias or incompetence), can lateral reading help ferret out the truth _within_ a given source — and what other tools or techniques might make the effort more sustainable (because right now it borders on exhausting).

      1. Mark Gisleson

        I could only read the summary, but wasn’t surprised that fact checkers could assess sites that quickly. Almost 20 years ago when I was doing my poor man’s version of NC’s news aggregation on my blog, the Star Tribune had me “read” their front page while hooked up to some device that tracked my eyes as I did so. I finished so quickly I apologized but the person running the test indicated that my experience was more like that of reporters who’d been tested than it was of average newspaper readers.

        The problems with fact checking aren’t in how fact checkers take data in, the problems are with how they deliberately misconstrue their analysis and findings. I’m sure Glenn Kessler at the WaPo is an excellent reader, but that doesn’t seem to impact his public findings which are often deceptively selective when not aggressively misleading.

        1. jsn

          Critical thinking and a community of critical thinkers.

          Hard to find. Hard to maintain.

          I don’t think there are easy solutions, politics like markets are reflexive so all gains are temporary.

        2. NotTimothyGeithner

          Enough people and coordination ahead of time will solve all the problems. The one issue would be preventing a Brooks Brothers Riot from when the “reasonable and kind” GOP stole Florida.

          1. Mark Gisleson

            Dave Trott just wrote (another) great column, this one on forward thinking, i.e., a concept that’s utterly unknown in DNC circles.


            But I’m probably being mean to the DNC. They’re getting paid to NOT do forward thinking because that might result in comfortable majorities and expectations that they will deliver on their campaign promises.

  2. John Wright

    The Hill’s article on the USPS does not include that it has lines in it that legitimates DeJoy’s process of slowing down the mail and raising prices. It doesn’t address the privatization of the “middle mile” through establishment of separate parcel processing plants, run by non-USPS and non-union workers. It does have some common sense fixes. It doesn’t mention that the Senate has refused to hold confirmation hearings on one of Biden’s nominees in order to protect DeJoy from replacement. The bill merely is a paper accounting shift of liabilities from one area of health care to Medicare.

  3. Samuel Conner

    > I hate to keep harping on this, but if Arizona’s election officials had used hand-marked paper ballots, hand-counted in public, the Maricopa recounting process would have consisted of… simply counting the paper ballots again.

    along with, if audited on order of a partisan state legislature, forensic search for bamboo fibers, which would have been found on some ballots, the voters having previously been working in their gardens maintaining their bamboo living fences. /s

    1. marym

      Arizona uses hand-marked paper ballots. BMD’s are available at polling places for people with hearing or vision impairments.

      The current “audit” – which was originally scheduled to take about a month – has recounted about 500K of 2.2 Maricopa ballots and is now rescheduled for a much longer time. If there’s a concern that fake ballots were introduced into the system for tabulation, and that bamboo, watermarks and folds would be evidence, that would seem to be an issue whether ballots were initially hand or machine counted.

      1. Michael Ismoe

        Does anyone really believe that there wouldn’t be an audit if we had “hand-marked paper ballots counted in public”? Remember hanging chads? there would have been arguments about “coloring outside the lines” and “double voting”. Hugh Scott, the former majority leader and senator from Pennsylvania, wrote a book and explained how he lost his first election when the Democratic committeemen all showed up with graphite bits under their fingernails so that when the count started, every time a voter indicated “Scott” on the ballot, one of the “counters” would make a stray mark on his opponent’s square and the ballot would be discarded as “double votes”.

        1. Mark Gisleson

          Use specially made marking pens with custom color that quickly fades (but not to the point of disappearing). Audit the pens to make sure all are accounted for and just to be sure, search the vote counters to make sure they don’t bring pens into the counting area.

          The fading ink wouldn’t necessarily impact the initial count, but it would make it much harder to change ballots in recounts. Good security on the custom ink color and pens would make it much harder to alter the initial count.

          The key to getting an honest count boils down to wanting an honest count and working to ensure that it is honest. Currently we have two major parties who only want to disallow how the other guys cheat while continuing to cheat in their own ways.

  4. zagonostra

    >What Is Russia Doing in the Black Sea? – Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

    What is the U.S. doing in the Gulf of Mexico?

    Concluding paragraph:

    Finally, NATO increasingly accepts Russia as its prime adversary. This has reinforced calls for a more robust Western strategy toward Russia, particularly in the Black Sea and southeastern Europe. Facing these challenges, however, Russia is unlikely to back down and will defend its position fiercely.

    I’ve got the Empire Blues. Why not focus on fixing the roads, providing healthcare I can afford, alleviating traffic congestion, building some high speed trains, replacing water pipes so I have clean water, improve my social security and just stop creating global insecurity for a bit, at least until we have (y)our own house in order – then you can go back to plundering the world for the powerful elites.

    1. Ananke

      “NATO increasingly accepts Russia as its prime adversary.”
      Oh no poor NATO! Who is the evil force that has forced this idea upon NATO? I guess NATO has gone through all 5 stages of grief and now have to accept this really, really tragic fate that some external evil, evil, evil force have inflicted upon this gentle organisation.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        “NATO increasingly accepts Russia as its prime adversary.”

        It feels like a popular fiction where the new villains aren’t taking, so they just throw together something with Klingons and call it a day.

        1. RMO

          “will defend its position fiercely”

          You know things have gone pretty far when NATO resorts to angrily accusing the potential enemy of having the provoking nerve to try to be in a position to defend itself.

    2. ambrit

      “What is Russia Doing in the Black Sea?”
      Short answer; whatever the H— they d— want.

  5. Funny Man

    The plane and Belarus.

    Swedish Aftonbladet – one of the four loyal organs for the NATO forces – is condemning Lukashenko and calls for some iron fist from EU.

    Also, they do seem to understand that people understand what the journalists at Aftonbladet really are: propagandists, but still they are what we know they are so at the end of the article they add pre-emptively that “some may point to the Morales flight that was forces due to the suspicion of Snowden being on the plane. However, at the time no fake bomb threats or fighter jets were used. Some countries closed their airspace on American request and that is why Morales’ plane landed in Vienna but could leave as soon as they had seen that Snowden was not on the plane. France and Spain later apologised to Morales for closing their airspace and there was also criticism towards the US for its behaviour.”

    If this journalist has brains, it must be so humiliating for him to write this, that some pity woud be warranted. He can’t possibly believe this himself. If he believes this, the intellectual abilities and honesty are so far off and way off it becomes comedy gold.

    1. Maxwell Johnston

      At least this Swedish journalist referenced the 2013 Morales incident, in sharp contrast to most “Western” MSM outlets which preferred the memory hole. It’s an ugly incident and Lukashenko is a nasty critter, but for the sake of good order:

      a. Pretty sharp intel work by the Belarusian spooks. For all their endless billions, the Yankees totally botched it on Morales in 2013. But the Belarusians nailed it; and with Ryanair, no less (not a NATO-based airline, so limited repercussions). Not bad on a limited budget.

      b. If I were a vocal Chinese/Russian/USA dissident calling for overthrow of said government, I would avoid overflights of China/Russia/USA. “Situational awareness.” Just saying.

  6. The Rev Kev

    “Minutes to touchdown: the moment a Belarusian dissident knew his time was up Reuters”

    ‘Not like there isn’t a precedent.’

    So the US joined the EU Commission in condemning the forced landing. SecState Blinken is demanding an international investigation. Several European countries, including Belgium, Germany, Cyprus, Ireland, Poland, the Czech Republic, and Lithuania have denounced it. It has been called “a state-sponsored terror act” and some countries are already calling for sanctions. And yet, yet…

    After reading about a dozen articles today on this event, NC is the first place where I have seen this compared with the grounding of the Bolivian President’s jet back in 2013

    In short, ‘It’s OK when our side does it.”

    1. John

      Preserve the “narrative” at all costs. The predictability of these responses brings to mind the slogan chanted in Animal Farm: Two legs bad. Four legs good.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Yeah, until at the end where the pigs changed it to “Four legs good, two legs better.”

        1. John A

          Remarkable how the western governments and obedient media are squeeling about the arrest of a ‘journalist’ and attacks on freedom of the press etc etc. Yet, never a word about Assange who has been kept prisoner for years for the crime of journalism that does not appeal to the US.

    2. Carolinian

      ‘It’s OK when our side does it.”

      The universal operating principle found on page one of he Hegemon Manual. Or as our parents used to say, do as I say, not as I do. We’re just bossing them around so they will grow up to be better countries.

    3. km

      Glenn Greenwald also noted that there is precedent from the Freedom Loving Free and Democractic West.

  7. PlutoniumKun

    Why the Democrats Need an Architectural Vision to Counter the Right’s The New Republic

    Nice to see Kate Wagner (the creator of McMansion Hell) get an airing.

    To an extent she is right, it is important that the importance of architecture in public service is acknowledged. But it can backfire. The use of modernist architecture in public housing in Europe, especially in Britain and Ireland, had the effect of creating two architectures – modern, brutalist for public housing, twee and fake vernacular for private housing. The latter was certainly a response to the former. This undoubtedly led to public housing developing a stigma – its noticeable that when a lot of public housing was sold off to the owners, the first thing they would often do was put in fake Georgian windows or little pediments (I see a lot of this around my neighbourhood). Its taken decades for a more contemporary architecture to become normal for private housing (but always of course with little gestures clearly intended to show that the owner has a mortgage).

    Why it is that the right loves classical and neo-gothic so much, while the left and liberals like their contemporary or hobbit inspired forms, I really don’t know, I’m sure someone has done a Phd on it. You can see variations on this worldwide – Chinese local governments love their Soviet and modernist giganticism, while ordinary Chinese go for lots of faux western detail. The Japanese of course plough their own furrow.

  8. Alfred

    How much of Doctorow’s “consent theatre” does Congress and all of government encompass now. Yeah, we heard that Biden told TPTB “nothing will fundamentally change.” And people voted anyway, for something different: not-Trump. LOL

  9. fresno dan

    Status Anxiety as a Service Noah Smith, Noahpinion
    He spends much of the post discussing the third of these — the way social networks create new ways for people to gain status and respect. Get the most Twitter follows, or the most Facebook likes, etc., and you’re somebody. Social media has democratized celebrity; anyone can be an influencer.

    Anyone, but not everyone. Just as most people can’t become Hollywood stars, most people can’t become social media influencers. But unlike in the old days, when people would obsess over Hollywood actors from afar, nowadays social media allows people to come in contact with their heroes directly. And no network facilitates this more than Twitter.
    But on Twitter, anyone can talk directly to anyone at any time, and, short of blocking them, the person they’re talking to can’t stop you from talking to them.
    the person they’re talking to can’t stop you from talking to them.
    Uh, yes they can – they can stop being on twitter. I find it astounding how much time and effort people put into Facebook, and get so little feedback. I don’t belong to twitter, but I think I can assume it is the same.
    Of course, here I am posting a comment…

    1. Psalamanazar

      All I see of Twitter is the occasional click through from here, but I have an idea it is more of a playing to the gallery thing than a dialogue thing.

  10. Alfred

    I like the ‘want to be your own boss’ pieces, but the O’Leary example does not make any sense to me. If you are your own boss, you are down there scraping the gum off the floor yourself, or hiring someone specifically to do that, or just leaving it there on the floor. How O’Leary equates being his own boss to neglecting any “housekeeping” tasks at will does not tally with people I know who have successful self-owned businesses. These are people who get down and scrape the gum off the floor as they walk by without even thinking about it, and it’s done. O’Leary’s is a poor example of being your “own” boss unless it only means you get to slack off stuff you think is beneath you. The successful people I know and have worked for know how to perform every task associated with their endeavor and understand the value of each piece.

  11. The Rev Kev

    “The Families Torn Apart By Vaccine Politics”

    Right now there is a lot of vaccine hesitancy and this article just says that if you do not want to take a shot, that you are either a Republican, or a Trump-supporter, or a QAnon believer or some other version of deplorable. So this article was really singing to the choir here. Anyway, what if there is something else going on. Sure there are a lot of people who are being cautious because of the experimental nature of some of these vaccines (raises hand). But here is a thought. You look around and you see people being offered lottery tickets or free donuts, or free beer. etc. Here is a short list-

    So what if a part of the population is hanging back to see if the offers increase in value before going off to get their own shots and waiting for the ante to be upped. What it could be would depend on where you live so maybe in LA you get a “selfie” with a “celebrity” whereas in some rural areas it might be free boxes of ammunition. There is a name for this phenomena I believe but cannot think of it. Let’s just call it capitalism & market forces for now.

    1. JBird4049

      So the article was sorting us into The Bad People and The Good People with the baddies the ones not being the true believers in Authority? Or are we looking for the followers of Emmanuel Goldstein?

      1. Quiet Rebel

        You are doing the same thing you are accusing the article of doing, separating people into good/bad. For you the people who don’t gett the vaccine are good people who question authority while the people who get the vaccine are bad authoritarians, but I guess it is ok when you do it.

  12. John A

    What Is Russia Doing in the Black Sea?

    Well the Black Sea is Russia’s own back yard and ice free naval base. A more pertinent question is what are US, French and British ships doing in the Black Sea. I also understand a US coast guardship was there as well, thousands of miles off the US coast.

    1. crittermom

      This particular lake was being drained due to the drought we are still in across western Colorado. The lake was too low and all the fish had frozen and died over the winter.

      They plan to dig it deeper this Fall, removing a great deal of silt, before refilling it.

      It wasn’t a large lake.
      Where I grew up in Michigan, we would’ve called it a pond.

  13. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

    Appropos of nothing above but I believe some of you folks here will appreciate this anecdote: I participate in a gaming discord for a long running MMORPG. (not ‘Warcraft’- one with much higher intellectual pretensions.) There’s a lot of fairly learned philological discussion going on and somehow the question of Brexit came up and I discovered to my dismay that though I was conversing with a lot of people from Turkey, Finland, UK, France and other places- not a one of them had any idea of the ugly saga of how Maastricht came about. So basically, millenials in europe have had a ‘reality’ constructed for them, a-la Dark City, where basically – because Hitler, all the nations of europe decided to spontaneously just merge together. There was never any question about democratic procedures, popular feeling about the proposed EU’s plumbing. We here probably remember this. But it’s been waved away not into a memory hole so much as a Mockingbird reality bypass system.

    1. Alfred

      I thank Greg Palast for my education about the Euro and its desgns through the European Union. I would never be able to decipher it without him:

      Give me two good reasons why I should listen to some American tell me about the euro.
      All right. Number One: We don’t care. There’s no emotional baggage here. Frankly, I couldn’t care less whether the Queen’s nose remains on your coinage or not.
      Number Two: Americans invented the euro. And it’s time you learnt why.
      In 1970, Professor Robert Mundell, now at New York’s Columbia University, proposed the ‘Europa’, based on his theory of optimal currency areas. It won him the Nobel Prize. On the Continent, Mundell is dubbed ‘father of the euro’.
      But in the US, he is best known for the other creation he spawned. To Americans, Mundell is ‘father of Reaganomics’, the supply-side monetarism and tear-down-the-government philosophy which is the heart, soul and agenda of the extreme free marketeers.
      …Yet that does not seem the most direct route to eliminating government. Even defenders of monetary union argue that each nation will remain in control of fiscal policy.
      Oh no they won’t , says Mundell: ‘Monetary discipline forces fiscal discipline on the politicians as well.’ The Maastricht rules, the conditions for entering the euro – limiting annual deficits to 3 per cent of GDP and total debt outstanding to 60 per cent – leave little room for active government. As Mundell explains it, Maastricht limitations mean individual nations will have nothing left to entice inward investment except lower tax rates and de-regulation. Governments will compete by shrinking.
      Wholesale privatisation is also, for Mundell, a predictable effect of monetary union. To meet the 60 per cent debt limitation, nations privatise infrastructure such as water or air traffic control. These asset sales don’t affect the public’s obligation to use these services, and the public still pays for them – but Maastricht is satisfied.
      John Maynard Keynes wrote: ‘Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler a few years back.’ Now, I would never suggest that Baroness (Shirley) Williams is either mad or in authority – nevertheless, as a fervent supporter of the euro, she could explain, I thought, why Britain and Greece meet the criteria for one of Mundell’s optimal currency areas.

    2. c_heale

      As far as the British people are concerned the EU was a better option than it’s own feudalistic system of governance.

      1. Tom Bradford

        54% of the British people who voted in the Brexit referendum elected to return to its own feudalistic system of Governance.

  14. Wukchumni

    Water, farm labor, shipping containers, truck drivers — it’s as though everything that’s not actual food is coming up short for local agricultural producers these days. And now this: They’re running low on pallets, too.

    An inadequate supply of wooden pallets, the squat structures used to make shipments easier to move with a forklift, has hit the industry just ahead of the grape harvest, raising concerns that farmers’ profits could be lost to packaging expenses — or worse, lead to a produce shortage.

    Industry officials say the kind of heavy-duty pallets major retailers insist on have roughly doubled lately to $15 or more apiece. Even lower-end models cost about twice what they did a year ago, and companies that sell reconditioned pallets are having to keep up with demand as well.

    Local produce shippers have responded in several ways, including asking buyers to temporarily lower their standards for the type of pallets they’re willing to accept fruit and vegetables on. But either way, growers say the dearth is exacerbating runaway costs.
    For want of a pallet, a crop was lost…

    Pallet prices have doubled, that is if you can find any. Everything points to inflationary food prices~

    1. Alfred

      This is where the throw-away aspect of capitalism to keep demand going kills us. I support local CSAs and local meat as a way to not personally pay the penalty in higher prices to cover higher production costs. I hope the baked-in prices for the season will cover whatever hit the farms take in their supply purchases this year.

    2. ambrit

      Prices of ‘basic’ items are rising in the local grocery outlets now.
      I wonder how much of what I prefer to define as “lifestyle degradation” is based on the lost purchasing power of the myriads of ‘regular’ people who have lost work because of the Pandemic, and how much is based on ‘greed’ by the members of the supply chain?
      My favourite example is dairy products. Evidently, wholesale prices of milk and byproducts have been flat or down for several years, but retail prices have been ‘goosed’ up. Agriculture in America seems to have followed the lead of Wall Street. The “values” of assets are not tied to underlying costs.
      See (From 2018, sorry.):
      MBA agriculture, what you’re not going to be able to afford to eat tonight!

      1. Alfred

        “The “values” of assets are not tied to underlying costs.”

        How much of this, I wonder, is vendors being able to “project future costs” by some analysis of “market forces” influenced by events and use that to raise prices in anticipation.(yeah, driven by greed)

        1. ambrit

          That would make them “The Smartest Guys on the Farm.”
          “What are we going to do tonight Brain?”
          “The same thing we do every night Pinky.”

      2. polecat

        If one has the means to, buy beans & rice, or whatever one uses as basic foodstuffs now, before ‘non-adjusted’ inflationary madness spikes into the stratosphere.

        Keep a well-stocked larder!

        1. ambrit

          “Roger! Roger!”
          We are paying close attention to the antics of the Trade Federation. Alas, like so many others before us, I fear that we aren’t going to survive this.
          (Of interest; when I just Googled – star wars “I fear we aren’t going to survive this.” I got ZERO results. I feel a disturbance in the Force.)

      3. Procopius

        The “values” of assets are not tied to underlying costs.

        No, they aren’t. If by “value” you mean “price,” it’s entirely an agreement between the buyer and seller. Look at the prices for diamonds, a completely valueless commodity, and water, utterly necessary for life itself. I hate the word “value.” It has no meaning.

  15. The Rev Kev

    “Post exposes undisclosed Vancouver outbreaks, as medical chief says relatives blame her for deaths”

    Just had a thought. Meng Wanzhou, daughter of the founder of Huawei, is still imprisoned in Canada on bogus charges and fighting extradition to the US, right? So what happens if she catches Coronavirus and ends up dying of it in a Canadian hospital? It could happen you know. So what does Canada say to China then? ‘Oops, our bad’?

    1. Wukchumni

      Had our family Zoom jam the other day, and more Canadian relatives are showing up which is nice. My cousin who is a year younger than me made an appearance, I think it was the first time i’ve seen him since we were teenagers…

      The fear expressed up over in the Gulag Hockeypelago (someday a Canadian team will win the Stanley Cup again~) by them in regards to Covid was tempered by our new found freedom as everything is opening up in these not so united states.

      It felt plenty weird, lemmetellya.

      1. marieann

        This Canadian who lives in a border city is mighty worried about the border reopening and having to deal with unmasked visitors from the south (or north in my neck of the the woods)

  16. pjay

    – ‘Former CIA Director: We Were Surprised by Arab Spring’ – Spy Talk

    I went ahead and read this for its possible entertainment value; given the “former CIA Director” was Panetta, that was minimal. Still, there were a few chuckles. For example:

    “Panetta rued missed chances for the U.S. to take a more productive role during the Arab Spring, which has produced unending chaos in Libya and Yemen and then, after a brief, troubled interegnum by the Muslim Brotherhood, a return to dictatorship in Egypt. Tepid U.S. backing for democratic-minded protesters in Syria in 2011 led to a brutal civil war, helped fuel the rise of the Islamic State and ended up further entrenching Bashar al-Assad’s grip on power.”

    I couldn’t help but wonder just what taking “a more productive role” could possibly mean here. Hmm. What could we have done to prevent the “unending chaos in Libya and Yemen” or “dictatorship” in Egypt? Was it our “tepid” backing of “democratic-minded protesters” that led to the destruction of Syria? Were we “surprised” that our rat-line of weapons from the “chaos in Libya” to Syria — *organized by the f**king CIA! — contributed to the rise of the Islamic State, etc., etc.?

    Yes, once again we were just naive but well-meaning bumpkins who were a bit too cautious. Aw shucks.

    The funniest paragraph, however, is the last one:

    “My greatest fear is that we could suffer a cyber Pearl Harbor in the future that would literally cripple our country,” [Panetta] said, adding his “hope that we are doing some of the same things” to U.S. adversaries in the cyber realm that they are doing to us.”

    Yes, for god’s sake let’s hope we will finally quit being naive but well-meaning bumpkins and *wake-up* to all the evil adversaries that threaten our Exceptional (but overly cautious) Nation.

    1. Tom Kitten

      Panetta was a long-term Congressman from the Greater S F Bay Area and given the “courtesy” appointment as CIA Director when he was asked to leave Congress. Feinstein and Pelosi controlled

    2. c_heale

      I think the appropriate quote is, It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it, since the CIA’s main job is to deny freedom and dignity to people if they want to do something opposed the the American Way.

  17. The Rev Kev

    “Eurovision Winners Måneskin Embroiled In Drug Controversy”

    Never really watched it as the whole thing seemed to be so self-indulgent and you could see politics at work with some of the things going on. If this was not clear enough before, it is now as I came across a story how the entrant from the UK scored zero votes from the jury and the public, something that has never happened before in the history of the competition I believe. If this was not engineered, then I do not know what is-

    1. s.n.

      i never heard of eurovision contest [aka ‘melodi grand prix’ as it’s known here], until i arrived on euro shores decades ago but i have watched & listened to most all of them since then (my ex- was a huge fan). Some really incredible kitsch, always ethnologically fascinating. The Brits entry this year was excruciatingly bad, but I thought the Ukraine entrants were the best I’ve ever heard (in 35 years). The French entry was quite good too, unabashedly asserting as it did Frenchness of a type that would be instantly recognizable to a listener in say 1970…. or 1930…… What was interesting is that retrogade hardcore rock&roll [which wouldn’t have seen much support in times gone by] won big, and a wide variety of woke type pandering acts didn’t seem able to get a foothold. so what’s that all about?
      This was supposedly the first major global cultural event broadcast since the start of the pandemic… something to chew over….

    2. petal

      After the controversy broke out, I used it as an excuse to re-watch the Father Ted episode “A Song for Europe“. Lots of shenanigans built in behind the scene so that Ireland won’t have to host the next year. They got zero votes as well!

  18. Alfred

    Reading the square word calligraphy is peculiarly relaxing for me. I have no explanation. Maybe it feels like solving a puzzle. It’s definitely less stressful to me than reading straight script.

  19. Carolinian

    Re Apartheid, the beginning of the end?–Last night I caught This is Not a Movie which is the documentary about the late Robert Fisk. It’s definitely worth a look and follows Fisk around many places that have been in the news including Syria and Israel. At the end of the show he expresses skepticism about whether his reporting will ever make a difference in the conflict but says it’s worth doing so that history will know the truth.

    And that’s right. One reason the conflict is so intractable is the failure of journalism–particularly in this country–to adequately explain the situation. Instead good versus evil “narratives” are erected and attacks on Israelis (or this country on 9/11) explained away as terrorism and “evil.” In the words of Flip Wilson the devil made them do it. One might even suspect that this narrative ploy has gone on to infect all our journalism on controversial topics.

    Fisk comes off as a bit self righteous but he was a great reporter because he got the job–telling the truth rather than concealing it.

    1. John A

      The problem with getting such sniffer dogs in England would be that the government would never source them from experienced dog breeders. They would set up a fast lane for VIP providers (aka big Tory donors) and pay them billions over the going rate to source dogs from some secretive locations, that on arrival would turn out to be cats.

      1. crittermom

        So your government apparently operates like ours here in the states?

        While I have thought for a long time that dogs could be a great resource during this pandemic after reading other similar articles as well, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it was handled the same way here and we, too, would be left with… cats.

        Maybe we could just think of it as the ol’ bait and switch in new form?

      2. Skunk

        Some people have also pointed out that sniffer dogs can potentially contract SARS-CoV-2. This might be a drawback.

  20. s.n.

    bernie sanders looked courageous in his NYTimes op-ed two weeks ago….but then a lot less so on ‘Face the nation’ yesterday

    Host John Dickerson – who sounded like a defense attorney for Israel throughout the interview – told Sanders that “there are a number of liberals who use the word apartheid to describe Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians.”Citing an Israel lobby group, Dickerson claimed such criticism was fueling an upsurge in anti-Jewish bigotry. He then put it to Sanders that using the word apartheid “has increased the level of vitriol that has contributed to this anti-Semitism.”

    Rather than affirm that Israel indeed practices apartheid and reject the equation between criticism of Israel’s crimes and anti-Semitism, Sanders agreed with his host. “Well, I think we should tone down the rhetoric,” Sanders said, before serving up a word salad that concluded, “the job of the United States is to bring people together.”…Sadly, it was not the only disgraceful thing Sanders said ..,.As the world recoils at the brazenness of Israel’s colonial war crimes, Sanders still insisted that “We have to be pro-Israel, but we have to be pro-Palestinian” – adamantly sticking to a false balance that equates the perpetrator with the victim. …Sanders called Hamas “a terrorist, corrupt, authoritarian group of people” and insisted “we have got to stand up to them.”

    1. Alfred

      I don’t know how someone who believes as Sanders does could justify anything Hamas does in violence. He won’t speak out, however, against the air force bases in Vermont that are causing so much home loss and noise trauma in Burlington. He says it’s a done deal. So he’s pro-jobs in that area–that’s what hits the fan when people complain about hypocrisy. If guns and the military provide jobs for Vermonters, there is nothing left to say. Except that “the U.S.’s job is to bring people together.” People should have jobs in the military and in gun manufacture, but violence is not the way to go? I have to say he is often the lone vote against the Pentagon, but he can not undo the structure of people needing jerbs no matter what. Why paint Bernie into a corner like that? It riles people up, and the MSM loves that.

    1. cocomaan

      This follows on the heels of Biden’s interview with David Brooks, where he says that a Penn student paying $70k a year shouldn’t get loan forgiveness:

      Ain’t going to happen on his watch. Will be interesting to see if there’s blowback, though. When September rolls around and forbearance runs out, there’s going to be a lot of pissed off people who had momentary economic security.

      1. EGrise

        One thing I can say about Joe “Student-Loans-Not-Dischargeable-in-Bankruptcy” Biden, is once he’s bought, he stays bought.

  21. Patty

    Robin DiAngelo can become The Minister of Truth when
    Kamala Harris becomes president deflect.

    Could any nightmare Orwell imagined been worse than this
    Fraud Of Color entering the Oval Office?

  22. Wukchumni

    Christopher D. Stone, a legal scholar who argued in a seminal 1972 paper that trees, rivers, oceans and nature itself possess fundamental legal rights, an argument that won notice at the U.S. Supreme Court and entered the bedrock of the modern environmental movement, died May 14 at an assisted-living center in Los Angeles. He was 83.

    As Mr. Stone formulated his argument, a lawsuit, Sierra Club v. Morton, was making its way through the courts. At issue was a $35 million Walt Disney resort to be built in the Mineral King Valley of California’s Sierra Nevada. The Sierra Club, the conservation organization, sued to prevent its construction.

    When the case reached the Supreme Court in 1971, the question before the justices was whether the Sierra Club had standing. In 1972, the court ruled 4 to 3 that it did not because the club had not proved its members would suffer direct injury as a result of the resort, whose construction ultimately was abandoned. But Douglas issued a vigorous dissent, still celebrated among environmentalists, that cited Mr. Stone’s paper.

    “The critical question of ‘standing’ would be simplified . . . if we fashioned a federal rule that allowed environmental issues to be litigated . . . in the name of the inanimate object about to be despoiled, defaced, or invaded by roads and bulldozers and where injury is the subject of public outrage,” Douglas wrote.

  23. Carolinian

    Doctorow explains it all

    If I owned a store with a sign under the doormat that read, “By entering this store you agree that I’m allowed to come over to your house, wear your underwear, punch your grandmother, make long-distance calls, and eat all the food in your fridge,” it wouldn’t entitle me to do any of these things.

    You didn’t agree to anything Facebook did to you. You didn’t agree to anything in any of those “agreements.”

    Indeed, there’s a name for these agreements: “Consent theater.”


    Consent theater is a sociopath’s charter: “Yes, I stabbed you 11 times, but you agreed that I could when you came close enough to read my ‘By reading this sign, you give consent for me to stab you’ sign.”

    Great stuff.

    1. Jan

      Re: Doctorow explains it all

      Does anyone know how much Face Book, Amazon, Google and Microsoft (members of the Billionaires Club) pay to the guy, who invented the www – Wide World Web and left it in the public domain ? Better still, I understand that FB has a monetized value of each member, based on the revenue each member has generated. Why doesn’t FB return the money to the member, whom they “commodified”? Jan

    2. Skunk

      The word “agree” entails a choice between alternatives. In consent theater, there are no choices. Even the word “agree” is completely misapplied. I seriously doubt that any of these “agreements” would hold up.

  24. cocomaan

    Why the Democrats Need an Architectural Vision to Counter the Right’s The New Republic

    In February, President Joe Biden quietly revoked the order. But Trump may have been onto something; he understood that architecture plays a major part in cultural identity and statecraft. Biden should be taking notes. With his $2 trillion infrastructure plan comes an opportunity to reshape the American landscape and build a monument to a new era—not just with bridges and roads, but with homes, schools, and childcare facilities.

    You mean the bill that isn’t even on the front page of The The one that is DOA along with several other Democrat proposals?

    Someday, Democrat media types and the twitterati might learn the difference between a bill that is stalled and a bill that has passed, but it hasn’t happened yet.

    News flash: there’s no infrastructure being built yet. It isn’t happening.

  25. eyebear

    Re: COVIDPoops19: Summary of Global SARS-CoV-2 Wastewater Monitoring Efforts

    a quick search on Google showed the following link (in german) for the waste water management “”.
    … one sentence summary: You can either fill out a form for academic purposes or buy an automated analysator for corona viruses up to individual inlets.
    But reading it via Google Translator should give a more detailled information.

  26. XXYY

    More states turn to lotteries in vaccine hesitancy fight

    My wife’s proposal: Give each person a crisp new $100 bill when they get their first vaccine, and two more when they get their second jab.

    This would bring people out of the woodwork, as well as defraying costs they might have incurred (missed work, cab rides, etc.). And if they have some money left over, it will be economic stimulus. People who are worried about it can use it as a donation to a local charity.

    And if the vaccines are all they are cracked up to be, the cost savings to the country will be phenomenal.

    1. Cuibono

      i have a slightly different idea: restore the ability to bring a lawsuit against he manufacturers if injury is shown

      1. Maritimer

        What a revolutionary idea that a Manufacturer should be responsible for the defects in its product.

        In other incentive news, the US Bureau of Indian Affairs (Yes, even in this day and age it is still called that) has decided not to give away a free blanket with each vaccination.

    2. Ook

      In fact I have a colleague in Beijing who tells me that the government is offering cash incentives for people to take the vaccine there, in some municipalities.

  27. enoughisenough

    I don’t understand the article about vaccinations tearing families apart. The first case was about a mother asking her daughters to delay the second dose, and that is being classified as “anti-vax”.

    Evidence now shows delaying the second dose gives better immunity. Is following science “anti-vax”??

    Nothing makes sense.

    1. ambrit

      The entire vaccine imbroglio is beginning to look suspiciously like something the Reich officials called a “Brain Buster.” That tactic was used to great effect on people being herded into the labour camps and extermination centres. One is given an impossible choice and forced to make a decision quickly. Either way, the choice is wrong and the chooser is forever after wracked by guilt, thus incapacitating them.
      The novel “Sophie’s Choice” is based on this policy and it’s aftermath.
      This is an easy and effective way to “manage” a population.

      1. Maritimer

        Trust the Science, the Behavioural Science grinding away and exploiting Humanity.

    2. curlydan

      I think the point was the mother then cutoff communication with the daughters after they announced they were double-vaxxed. So yes, that is anti-vax and not a “you should have waited longer” response.

      But I did have issues with the article in that it only wrote from the perspective of vaccine supporters and gave zero quotes to vaccine skeptics. Another case of weak journalism.

      My parents were caught up in a vaccine argument this weekend. They planned to dine outdoors with a visiting lifelong friend and her daughter. When the weather turned bad, their outdoor reservation was cancelled and moved inside. My parents said they could only eat outdoors and started searching for other outdoor options. The friend’s daughter then proceeded to shout out them for many minutes on the phone for only wanting to eat outdoors. Dinner cancelled.

      1. enoughisenough

        That is really sad. Eating outside is a fine thing to want. We are never going to make it if we can’t have understanding and solidarity.

        Articles like this probably fuel that fire. Everyone wants to be judgemental. :(

        Everyone must understand that everyone has reason to be afraid. About everything. I got my vaxes, but I was nervous about it, this is a scary situation, after all.

  28. Culp Creek Curmudgeon

    Re: Eurovision Winners Måneskin Embroiled In Drug Controversy

    C’mon, man! If you were really rock and rollers you would embrace the claim of drug use! Think: What would Keith Richards do?

  29. sam

    Re Capitalism and Identity: Interesting attempt at synthesis but I’m afraid that intersectionality (aka identitarianism) is fundamentally irreconcilable with class consciousness, not only because it encourages competition among the oppressed to determine which group is most disadvantaged but also because it leads down the rabbit hole of advocating for the unique interests of every possible identity, as evidenced by the ever-lengthening alphabet soup that began with LG.

  30. Vladimir "Shooting Tsars" Lenin

    re: Marx and Friedman

    >Neither Marx nor Friedman made lasting contributions to economic theory

    Idiot, or liar? You decide.

    1. ambrit

      “Neither Marx nor Friedman made lasting contributions to economic theory.”
      Oh boy, what a propaganda line.
      Both, in different ways, connected economics with politics. From different political “directions” of course.
      I wouldn’t call economics so much a ‘science’ as a ‘tool.’

  31. R

    There’s not much discussion of the Indian variant twitter posts here tonight. If I may start the ball rolling, I just had a rather depressing conversation with my friend who provides analysis into SAGE.

    I was extolling the coming joy of summer and the low local case numbers: he cut me short to say “get what you need doing done now while cases are low and restock the bunker” because it is much more transmissible, slightly vaccine-evasive and uncertainly virulent and will tear through the unvaccinated population under 40. Current rates are doubling every seven days. Even if hospital cases and deaths remain low, expect a period of mass absences, especially from typical workers in front line jobs like retail and delivery and potentially social care and services etc. Well that’s something to look forward to when the schools break up!

    I had been rather sanguine, writing down Bolton’s case explosion to founder effects (multiple cases imported into distinct subpopulation), overcrowded housing, in person working etc. Now I will watch the dara like a hawk.

    There is a slim chance it is more transmissible because it is milder.

    1. ambrit

      “There is a slim chance it is more transmissible because it is milder.”
      Oh, be still, my Covid ravaged heart! If only it were so.

  32. Fritzi

    Seeing as I don’t lack ambition, my chosen archenemy is God, if it should exist.

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