Links 5/28/2021

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Baby glow-in-the-dark squid and tardigrades are heading to space KSL (furzy)

Chinese Ultramarathon: A Survivor Describes the Deadly Race New York Times (bc). Evokes the horrible Everest climb described in Into Thin Air, except with a higher body count.

Speaking of Everest: The Call of the Void London Review of Books (guurst)

In Pictures: The world’s most neglected crises Al Jazeera (resilc)

‘The last thing I ever smelled and tasted’: Hit-and-run robs cop of senses and memories The Age (Anthony L)

Amazon indigenous group’s lifestyle may hold a key to slowing down aging Science Daily (PlutoniumKun)



Three-quarters of patients with moderate or severe cases of Covid had at least one symptom lasting up to SIX MONTHS Daily Mail. Study: Assessment of the Frequency and Variety of Persistent Symptoms Among Patients With COVID-19 JAMA Open Network

Covid live: Olympics could cause new variant, doctor warns Guardian

The Sudden Rise of the Coronavirus Lab-Leak Theory New Yorker (David L)

Biden Renews Virus Origin Probe That’s So Far Come Up Empty Bloomberg. New Yorker above that it took 15 years to find the origin of SARS and longer than that for HIV. C’mon, man.

Facebook lifts ban on posts claiming Covid-19 was man-made Guardian (Kevin W). I hate having to acknowledge debate of this issue. First, this debate is going to influence no decisions regarding how to deal with Covid. So the energy invested is grossly disproportionate. Second, the bloody lab is in China. Not only is huffing and puffing by the West not going to get China to act (it has plenty of motivation due to having had to shut down 70% of its economy), foreign pressure is likely to corner it not investigating any further since its leaders can’t be seen as capitulating to foreign pressure. Third, there is no new evidence, so the continuing fulminating looks non-organic. So this continuing stoking of an old story looks to be primarily about fomenting anti-China sentiment, rather than advancing public health.

Hate to say it, but I draw a different lesson than Greenwald suggests. Lambert has been very bothered by how the general tenor of the news and particular stories flips quickly from hot to cold and then back. He worries that the mere ability to influence, if not dictate the media temperature is a big jump in the effectiveness of propagandizing. This is emotional gaslighting (my mother is a master of this, BTW).

The media’s lab leak fiasco Matt Yglesias


KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor: May 2021 KFF. Big finding: CDC “You can ditch your mask if vaccinated” is motivating just about no one to get a shot.

Woman wins $1m for getting Covid vaccine Independent (resilc)

For Office Returns, the Vaccine May Not Be Required but It’s Hard to Avoid As we said, the lawyers have figured out how to corner employees into having to be vaccinated, despite Federal law barring the requirement in the case of an Emergency Use Authorization (the EUA language makes very clear that taking an EUA med is strictly voluntary) by making it an extreme hassle not to be.

America’s Frontline Doctors v. Beccera Petition for Temporary Restraining Order. Filed in the Northern District of Alabama on May 20. Seeks an injunction against administering Covid vaccines to children 16 or younger. Buried in here is what strikes me as a good legal argument:

In the specific instance of minor Plaintiffs under 16, the Court must consider that an “EUA requires that an intervention address a serious or lifethreatening condition, and for known and potential benefits of the intervention to be balanced against the known and potential harms.” There is not even a pretense of a factual basis that COVID-19 represents a serious or life-threatening condition for children under 16, since the CDC acknowledges they face 0% risk of mortality from COVID-19 statistically

But this filing comes off as political grandstanding, with for instance way too much about America’s Front Line Doctors. Can’t these people find lawyers who know how to write a parsimonious white shoe firm-like document?


Vaccine hesitancy keeps the virus alive in Asia Asia Times (Kevin W)


HK mogul jailed again for pro-democracy protests BBC. Lead story.

Huawei’s HiSilicon Develops First RISC-V Design to Overcome Arm Restrictions Tom’s Hardware (guurst)

Book Launch: How China Escaped Shock Therapy UMass Amherst Political Economy Workshop, YouTube (fk)

Ron Johnson holds up Senate’s holiday weekend exit The Hill. Frustrating lack of detail as to the issues in play.


In case you thought lack of stories = everything hunky dory:

Brexit Impact Tracker 23 May 2021 – The Double-edged Sword of Ruthless Politics Gerhard Schnyder (guurst)

Brazil Supreme Court Approves Probe of Environment Minister Intercept. Resilc: “A corrupt planter society, gee how did that happen??????”

New Cold War

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 27 MAY 2021 by Patrick Armstrong Turcopolier (Kevin W). Important.

Belarus: Russia blocks some flights for avoiding its ally BBC. This is getting interesting. Notice how the FT spins it: Two airlines cancel Moscow flights over Belarus dispute is the headline, while the subhead concedes: Russian aviation authorities fail to approve Air France and Austrian Airlines’ routes avoiding Belarus airspace.

No going back to Open Skies, US tells Russia ahead of Biden-Putin summit RT (Kevin W)

Oddly got no traction. Per guurst: “Paging Victoria Nuland”:


Scared to be Jewish in Los Angeles? Yasha Levine

Nasrallah: Future violation of al-Quds will trigger regional war with Resistance Axis Middle East Observer (guurst)

Israel Now Faces Its Worst Nightmare Responsible Statecraft (resilc)

Israel: Expect fewer assassinations and less noise from Mossad’s new leader Middle East Eye. Resilc: “NEW! IMPROVED! WITH LESS KILLINGS”

Ireland first EU state to declare Israeli settlements ‘annexation’ Irish Examiner (guurst)

‘A war declaration’: Palestinians in Israel decry mass arrests Defend Democracy

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Microsoft president: Orwell’s 1984 could happen in 2024 BBC (resilc)

TSA orders pipeline companies to disclose breaches after Colonial hack Politico (Kevin W)


Prosecutors announce fresh charges against ‘Maga Caravan’ leader, others in January 6 insurrection CNN (furzy)

Google Nears Settlement of Ad-Tech Antitrust Case in France Wall Street Journal

Bitcoin rival Chia 'destroyed' hard disc supply chains, says its boss New Scientist. Vlade: "Just as there's no benign violent crime, there's no benign crypto. The sooner the world recognises that, the better, not that I'm putting my hopes up."

Guillotine Watch

WeWork founder Adam Neumann received $445m payout in exit package Guardian (Kevin W)

Class Warfare

Gig workers to lose all unemployment benefits in 20 GOP states: "You can't prepare for it" CBS (Kevin W)

Where Did All the Uber Drivers Go? Bloomberg

NC Amusement Workers Walkout Over Racist Taunts - Swanky DC Restaurants Walkout - Amazon Installs “Zen Boxes” in Its Warehouses Mike Elk

Antidote du jour (Tracie H):

And a bonus (katiebird):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. The Rev Kev

    “‘I Owe Him My Life’: Chinese Runner Describes Mountain Rescue’

    This article says that one runner’s life was saved by a shepherd but that is not the full story. This gutsy shepherd – Zhu Keming – managed to save six runners in total-

    There are not enough safety considerations undertaken with these races. About a decade ago here in Oz a three-day outback ultramarathon was allowed to go ahead which led to eight people being trapped in a serious fire. Two women ended up with 80% burns to their bodies-

    1. PlutoniumKun

      I think there is a macho element to any kind of endurance event which can be potentially dangerous. And I say ‘macho’ in an un gendered sense as I’ve come across as many women as men involved in those events who are as dismissive of the risks to the inexperienced of running mixed ability events.

      At the risk of playing with stereotypes, I’m unsurprised this happened in China. I do regular hikes with a Chinese hiking group and I’m often amazed at how casual they are about risks, including my good friend, the group leader, who has done numerous safety courses and ignores every single lesson. I tease her about my bets about how many people she’ll kill over the course of a year, while she mocks me for my insistence in always having a compass and an extra warm layer, even on a short simple walk (I’ve been caught out in unexpected bad weather without the right equipment before, its a tough lesson to learn).

      I honestly don’t know if its a cultural thing or just that its kind of new for Chinese people so they don’t really get the need for layers of precautions, but I’ve seen the remarkably lax attitude to things like attitude sickness in Tibet among Chinese tourists (‘just take a herbal pill and stop complaining’) to a general view that a few deaths is really no big deal (probably because its much harder to sue individuals there).

      Of course, you can go to an extreme the other way. Because of liability issues in my country, a host of small adventure companies have been driven out of business, the courts don’t seem to realise that when you go off pavement, there is always a risk, everyone who does outdoor sports needs to accept that.

      1. Wukchumni

        Of course, you can go to an extreme the other way. Because of liability issues in my country, a host of small adventure companies have been driven out of business, the courts don’t seem to realise that when you go off pavement, there is always a risk, everyone who does outdoor sports needs to accept that.

        NZ has these wonderful tourist places in bigger towns where you can book a tour or do something adventure’y.

        15 years ago five of us wanted to go tandem paragliding out of Queenstown, and a nice lady made a call to check availability and told us that a van would pick us up kitty-corner over by the bus bench @ 12;30 pm if we wanted to book it, which we did.

        The only thing I signed was the credit card slip…

        I’d guess you’d sign a dozen pages of waivers and disclaimers here to do the same thing.

        Even less adventure laden pursuits are still possible in NZ, i’ve stayed at many motels with a swimming pool with diving board & slide, and trampolines. Good luck finding such things @ motels in the USA.

        1. Tom Doak

          The maximum liability payout for accidental death in NZ is NZ$250,000. And, of course, if you are severely injured for life, the government health care takes care of that. That enables such businesses to insure themselves against calamity.

        2. Chris

          After a couple of serious incidents, the operators of Australia’s carnival rides, large and small, are finding it almost impossible to buy insurance. This means those rides will just disappear.

          No more bouncy castles.

        3. Greg

          That’s changed since you experienced it, lot more liability waivers on NZ adventure tours now. Not egregious ones, but there’ll always be a one-page doc you need to sign before you gear up.
          Almost certainly because of what Tom Doak mentions, combined with litigious tourists.

      2. R

        Attitude sickness. That’s rife in Tibet and apparently they’re building a lot of special sanatoria for it in Xinjiang….

  2. zagonostra

    >The Sudden Rise of the Coronavirus Lab-Leak Theory – New Yorker

    Misleading headline. There have been many “Coronavirus Lab-Leak” theories almost from day one. It’s really the “Sudden Rise of MSM” acknowledgement of it that is now noteworthy. There have been multiple stories written, mainly by independent journalist like George Webb (no relations to Whitney Webb). And there have been multiple stories that were censored.

    I almost think that Alex Jones is a CIA operative or a “useful idiot.” You discredit someone as spouting outlandish, patently false ideas, or you invent a group of wackos like the “Flat Earthers” and then you use them as foils by allowing them to tell the truth now and then.

    The origins of the virus is complicated. But I’ve learned a lot over the past 18 months, not from the establishment news outlets, but from real independent researchers who are engaged in continuous wack-a-mole game with those who control Ytube and the internet.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      An otherwise excellent article undermined by its very US-centric views. The original lab-leak stories originated in China – there was a very active attempt promoted by Beijing last year to stir up rumours that the virus emerged as a leak from a laboratory in Alabama, brought to Wuhan during the Military Games. There was even a ‘patient zero’ identified, a female Dutch-US cyclist who supposedly infected local Chinese during her stay. This theory was briefly quite popular on the US fringe right before they realised it might reflect badly on Trump.

      Now that its become re-politicised by Biden, I doubt if we’ll ever one close to the truth. Any new evidence pointing to the Wuhan labs can (with some justification) be seen as having been faked/enhanced by US intelligence, any evidence pointing to a ‘natural’ origin can likewise be associated with the many countries and organisations which would prefer that outcome. Right now, no information that comes directly or indirectly from Washington or Beijing can be trusted and most people have long ago given up on WHO as an independent source of science. Even the mainstream science journals are now busy gaslighting us about how badly they got the science on aerosols and masks wrong.

      1. JohnnyGL

        I actually found the Wallace-Wells article frustrating. The general formula for how today’s ‘consensus’ gets questioned was actually a pretty good template. But, the whole premise of the article is that the stakes in this debate are mostly about blame-game grandstanding and, at best, some academic use and that it’s going to get unhelpfully geo-political.

        However, the frustrating part is Wallace-Wells glosses over the implications from the Nicholas Wade article in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists fleshed out by Saagar Enjeti on Rising. If these scientists are creating very dangerous viruses in the lab (taking coronaviruses in the wild and making them more infectious to humans and easier to spread) and those very dangerous viruses are getting out of the lab and causing pandemics, then, well, maybe there should be a lot more curbs and restrictions and oversight on what these virologists are doing.

        The conclusions to be reached are far from a simple, “china done messed up, blame them!”. There’s US fingerprints all over this, from Fauci’s efforts authorizing the research in his role in the NIH, to the grant funding handed out to the Daszak and the EcoHealth Alliance. Daszak is quoted as if he’s a credible source in the Wallace-Wells article, but Wade’s article shows that’s far from the case. Daszak has every incentive to scream, “it was from the wild and was TOTALLY not us that created this pandemic”.

        I feel like during the Cold War, nuclear scientists had real ethical issues with the work they were doing and the dangers present from nuclear materials were a real concern and oft discussed.

        It seems to me that the virologist community is really unconcerned about the potential dangers of the work they’re doing and there’s no one in a position of authority who is directly responsible for forcing them to justify their work and question whether the precautions they’re taking are appropriate or sufficient.

        If a nuclear accident killed millions around the world, we’d be looking to reign in nuclear power. If virologists created a pandemic, we should maybe look to reign in the virologists.

        For reference, here’s the Wade article:

        Here’s Saagar’s segment on the Wade article:

        1. PlutoniumKun

          I’d agree that there is a problem with selectiveness in the argument – there are a lot of people insisting this is some sort of bioweapon gone wild when there is zero evidence to support this and its easy therefore to label everyone making the lab leak argument as a conspiracy theorist.

          If the lab leak hypothesis is correct, it seems far more likely that it was a release of a ‘natural’ virus (possibly the one found 8 years before in an outbreak among guano miners in Yunnan), or the result of some fairly standard gain of function studies. Either way, it doesn’t reflect well on the virology community, especially as so many were keen to shout down those who raised concerns without actually bothering to ask any hard questions of their colleagues. There seem to be a lot of virologists saying things in private that are not being said in public.

          I used to live in Birmingham, UK, which was the location of maybe the most notorious lab-leak – the 1978 small pox outbreak from Birmingham University. I know a few people who work there, and at the very beginning of the pandemic I was joking with them that maybe Birmingham and Wuhan should go for twin city status as the proud upholders of a tradition of causing chaos via bad ventilation. In the case of the Birmingham outbreak, there are still a lot of unanswered questions, more than 40 years later.

          1. Dikaios Logos

            ” fairly standard gain of function studies.”

            That this sounds so anodyne to so many is probably what is most at stake here. The educated are much too quick to give each other the benefit of doubt. And this happens to the detriment of larger humanity.

        2. Yves Smith Post author

          Sorry, I was not impressed by the Wade piece. Its argument hinged on a timeline which is false. It tries to depict the first cases as near the lab in December when there were cases in Italy and China in November. It also incorrectly contends that the cases that did appear near the market means they didn’t come from the bat caves, since there were no cases near the bat caves. That’s false. China has not said where the earlier cases were, plus hunters take bats directly to restaurants who buy them.

          In addition, there’s now been a lot of retreat from the furin cleavage argument. It’s not as dispositive as Wade suggests.

          1. Fern

            I thought the Wade piece was very valuable. Sure, I agree that he probably over-extrapolated at times and made some mistakes in this complicated story, although most of them were probably mistakes made by some good scientists whose advice he was relying on, like the overstated case about the furin cleavage site or the certainty of the civet cat host. These were common mistakes even among good scientists.

            The reason I think the article is nevertheless valuable is that he was not trying to prove that covid-19 came from lab escape; he was trying to show how this very viable possibility was eliminated from the discussion due to a dynamic involving major conflicts of interest. Fully exploring covid-19 origins is in fact extremely important, because we know that dangerous work is being done in some labs, and that attempts to regulate and/or ban this work has been hampered by special interest lobbying.

            In terms of the timeline, there is nothing that I’m aware of that precludes the lab accident scenario, just as there’s nothing that proves it. Prof. Francois Balloux examined the various early reports of covid-19 emergence and concluded:

            “Unless it can be confirmed by far better evidence, I believe the claim of #COVID19 circulating in Italy in August can be safely ignored. The bulk of the evidence points to emergence of #SARSCoV2 ~Oct/Nov 2019 in China, and a spread to Europe (Northern Italy) in ~Nov/Dec 2019. 7/


            I believe that this represents the scientific consensus at this point. I don’t think that an October/Nov 2019 emergence in China would preclude a Wuhan lab escape origin unless future findings show it emerged far from Wuhan. I’m open to changing my mind if there are any good arguments to convince me.

            1. Dikaios Logos

              Thanks for upping the quality of this discussion. The Wade piece was not conclusive about virus origins, but it was very close to conclusive about how the western media narrative was narrowly shaped by certain interests who not only ignored certain possibilities, but were also not-disinterested parties. Obliquely hinting at other possibilities is important, even if those possibilities remain far from conclusive.

              And those early circulation studies have serious methodological flaws (e.g. no or poor explanation of assays used). People who tout them uncritically risk hinting at their own biases.

              Given that we have a mass-die off event that’s especially bad amongst the world’s vulnerable (e..g the poor in Queens, Amazonia, UP+Bihar, etc.) it’s extremely important that this discussion not fall into the trap of being about the biases and the accompanying habits of petty pissing-matches of the well-off. Unfortunately, as there are many possibilities for virus origins, there are also many possibilities for biases among the worlds’ well-off.

          2. JohnnyGL

            Thanks for the follow up on this. I hadn’t realized things are far murkier than what the Wade write up indicated.

      2. zagonostra

        With respect to whether the virus originated in nature or was manufactured in a lab, I think you’re wrong when you say ” I doubt if we’ll ever one close to the truth. ”

        The back peddling you are seeing in “mainstream science journals” is exactly because there are objective characteristics/traits that science is able to identify that, with a high degree of certainty, can establish/substantiate the virus was a manufactured in a lab.

        1. Ignacio

          No sir. There is nothing substantive in the lab leak theroy except ‘intelligence reports’, something that can be used as toilet paper regarding the origin of the virus, of any virus. If you tried one thousand times to create a malignant virus you would fail 1001 times. If you find a motif that has been seen in other viruses, well, that means the motif can be and is really created in mother nature.

          The novelty is that now liberals, when in power, are wanting to spread the novelistic lab leak theory. This tells a lot about the political origin of the hypothesis. Whenever you find one of the very few world experts on coronavirus evolution say this is a lab leak, wake me up.

        2. Aumua

          That’s quite a claim to make without any substantiation. Can you perhaps expand a bit on your findings and/or provide some references for them?

        3. Susan the other

          One thing puzzled me. Edward Steele, geneticist and virologist, Australia. He said that in his good opinion that the Covid-2 virus was not biowarfare. I believe that. But I didn’t look into it. I’m just guessing that if a virus is manipulated to be biowarfare it its made to kill quickly but not to mutate. The Covid-2 is mutating capriciously like any regular virus just trying to stay viable. And, it is making us sick, yes, but it is not deadly. So if the research on gain of function for Covid-2 was, in fact, connected to a cure for HIV (Luc Montanier) it does make some sense. And if it escaped the lab and became a pandemic that’s a real mess. But… shit happens. And it was far less evil than a bio weapon.

          1. Procopius

            I don’t think it’s possible to create a virus that will not mutate. Mutation is caused by naturally occurring variations in reproduction, and living things (it’s not clear that viruses are actually “living things,” but close enough) never do anything perfectly. I well remember, back in the ’70s (yes, long before IBM got interested) a popular explanation for a program going wrong was “random alpha particle or cosmic ray.” That’s probably one reason why biological warfare has not been tried since Korea. You can never be sure your “antidote” is going to keep working for you. However, as Doctors Fauci and Daszak demonstrate, virologists doing “gain of function” research do not act as if the “gain of function” is potentially fatal. They act as it is always easily controlled and never dangerous.

    2. JohnnyGL

      “I almost think that Alex Jones is a CIA operative”

      I’ve had that idea for awhile. There’s lots of reasonable questions to ask about 9/11, like the clear evidence of saudi involvement, but with guys like alex jones around, it was easy to discredit critics and skeptics by throwing them into the same bucket as alex jones.

      I think he’s even defended himself in court by saying he plays a character and isn’t serious.

      1. Wukchumni

        I wasted more time than it was worth hoping to catch Alex Jones spontaneously combust live on air, but he’s ire proof.

      2. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

        The parapolitical research community more or less assumes he’s, if not working as a provocateur, then a grandstanding bloviator trying to be the ‘Rush Limbaugh’ of the ‘truthers’.
        Really, government and oligarchic business spread so many layers of insidious lies that the people calling the shots with a supposed ‘need to know’ probably don’t really know what’s going on in their departments.

        1. zagonostra

          Your comment made me think of this often referenced quote:

          We’ll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false – Ex CIA Director Willam Casey

  3. John Siman

    Franklin Delano Biden!! declared the NYT-WaPo-CNN-MSNBC-NPR-Atlantic-axis in perfect unison. A Beyond-Historical Transformational Presidency!! Wait, no, never mind. All that was last week. But don’t you worry your pretty little head about it. Just keep lovin’ Status Quo Joe.

    Taibbi’s new piece on the truly bizarre Transformation of the Transformational is, unfortunately, behind a paywall, but here are just a few paragraphs to give you an idea of the new depths of Official Weirdness:

    Biden has the press paper-trained to a degree we haven’t seen in modern times [Taibbi writes]. Not even at the height of the media’s drooling love affair with Barack Obama … did we ever see such enthusiastic, reflexive backing of White House messaging. The Biden press even reverses course on a dime when needed, with the past weeks being a supreme example.

    Last Friday, word came out via The Washington Post that the Biden administration’s new budget plan wouldn’t contain a host of key ideas proposed on the campaign trail, from a public health care option to raising the estate tax to forgiveness of student debt. Some of these were major, central campaign promises…. The key line in the Post article:

    “The White House jettisoned months of planning from agency staff as their initial plan could fuel criticisms that the administration is pushing new spending programs too aggressively.”

    Say what? Just a few weeks ago, we were being told in headline after headline that Biden was a “transformational” president who’d heroically abandoned fruitless efforts at bipartisanship and moreover had conquered the fear of deficit spending that kept Barack Obama from fulfilling his own “transformative” destiny. Insiders regaled us with tales about how this administration exiled the Clintonian tricksters like Larry Summers who robbed Obama of his legacy by whispering false worries about inflation.

    We even saw the bizarre spectacle of Treasury Secretary and erstwhile deficit hawk Janet Yellen publicly throwing down with Summers, battle-rapper style, about his excess fiscal caution, saying the biggest risk wasn’t inflation but if “we don’t do enough” to address the economic damage of the pandemic. Yellen all but told Summers to go back to Cranbrook with his bitch-ass spending fears.

    Then a few weeks ago, on Meet The Press, Yellen reverted to form and said that Joe Biden “has made clear that permanent increases in spending should be paid for, and I agree,” adding that “over the long run, deficits need to be contained.” After that came the Post story and word that the administration had backed off a host of plans, including a proposal to lower prescription drug costs, while also engaging with seeming seriousness in “bipartisan” negotiations on an infrastructure/jobs bill… [Enough quoting. Everyone should subscribe to Taibbi’s Substack!]

    And so we enter the Twilight Zone!

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Hey! I’ve got a scathingly brilliant idea!

      Let’s hold biden’s feet to the fire like they told us we could do when they said we should ignore biden’s 50 years of sellout neoliberalism and vote for him cuz he wasn’t Trump.

      1. The Rev Kev

        I thought that the idea was to vote for him without getting any iron-clad guarantees and then after getting him into office as President, “pushing him left”. Considering the fact that in any other developed country, he would be regarded as a hard right-winger, that is a lot of pushing that has to be done.

        1. Del

          No way, the plan is to quietly march him off to a rest home, so “he can spend time with his family”, and insert the political sex worker Kamala into the Oval office, so the final phase of looting can be carried out, before the Depression begins and the price of the trillions spent on the emergency actions of the pandemic have to be paid by the middle class and workers.

        2. Alfred

          Roflmfao. We all know, and knew, at some level at least that we are effing doomed when he was chosen as the candidate. I have been on this beautiful planet long enough to know that he is a pathological liar among pathological liars.

      2. ex-PFC Chuck

        “Blessed are they who expect nothing, for they shall not be disappointed.” Alexander Pope

    2. Randy

      I didn’t think Biden would be the new FDR but I did think he or someone working for him did learn the lesson from Obama that the Republicans would obstruct everything and to do what he could with dem majorities in both houses while that was possible. Sad to be proven so wrong in less than a year. The media’s complicity in playing cover for this though does not surprise me.

      1. LifelongLib

        “the Republicans would obstruct everything…”

        So let them obstruct everything and make them explain it at the next election. Trouble is, Obama/Biden didn’t really want “everything” either, and even if they did there’s plenty of Dems in Congress who don’t…

        1. Procopius

          I think the Centrist Dems are not going to like “make them explain it at the next election.” Raising taxes on the rich is very popular, and right now it’s the Democrats, not the Republicans, who have walked that back. $15 (actually more would be a lot better) is very popular, and right now it’s Democrats, not Republicans who have walked that back. One of his most important campaign promises was adding a public option to Obamacare, and it’s Democrats, not Republicans who have walked that back. On top of everything (although more than a year is a very long time in politics), Joe Biden still owes me $600.

          1. LifelongLib

            See my subsequent sentences. If the Democratic Party was serious about any of the things you mention, it would introduce the appropriate bills and force the Republicans to vote against them. It doesn’t do that because it isn’t serious, and because an embarrassing number of Democrats would vote against them too.

  4. timbers

    Class Warfare

    Anyone else noticing stuff like this…?

    Went to Lowes last week and overheard manager asking someone to hurry up clock in because they are short staffed. Went to different Lowes yesterday and the 1 checkout clerk was backed up with a long line and moving slooowww.

    Proceeded inside to purchase, but again only 1 checkout clerk with a long line and 2 self checks outs that were not working. The clerk temporarily departed his customer to “fix” 1 self checkout but he didn’t fix it because the next person couldn’t get it to work. When my turn finally arrived I presented 5 bags mulch, 1 rose bush, but the clerk rang up only 1 mulch and 1 rose bush.

    I don’t know if he did that deliberately, but suspect the super rich greed-hole who owns this establishment is probably losing more money than what he saves paying sh*t wages.

    Proceeded to BJ’s to dodge the Memorial Day rush. Ditto experience, watched as half the customers waited with “need assistance” signs flashing in the self checkout area because staff was scarce.

    But Amazon is raising wages an entire 1-2 dollars so the free market is working.

    1. Del

      Timbers, it’s not just Lowe’s.

      When checking out I always greet white, black and brown male workers as “Brother.”
      1/3 of the time, there’s some kind of error or mistake in my favor on the final price.
      Lots of discount programs I guess, way too many to keep track of?

      Another thing, pay cash and tell them “No receipt needed, help save the trees.” Heh!

    2. lyman alpha blob

      I’ve seen similar things at the grocery store – can’t tell if it’s because they are truly short-staffed or they are deliberately cutting staff in order to force people to use the self-checkout machines which are popping up everywhere. A new fun activity – count how many people a human being can check out vs. how many go through one self-checkout machine in the same time period. So far, the humans have gone John Henry on the [family blog]ing machines in my limited experience at least.

      Side note – thanks to the vicious Norway maples in the vicinity, I am unable to grow much of anything in the ground any more and have resorted to planting a lot of my garden in pots on the porch. I am spending an inordinate amount this year on dirt because of it. My farmer grandfather is surely rolling over in his grave, although at least the dirt there is free.

      You could try avoiding the big box stores if they haven’t put everything else near you out of business – no self checkout machines at the local greenhouse where I got my dirt bags this year. I prefer the smaller places, but my dad who is a required horticulturalist has recently said that the quality of plants at Lowe’s is actually very good which I found surprising. And even the small greenhouses often bring in plants from likely the same huge growing operations that Lowe’s gets them from. What are you going to do unless you grow everything from seed by yourself, which is often prohibitively expensive if not impossible?

      Capitalism can’t end soon enough.

      1. Susan the other

        I always think ‘durability’. I’ve got jeans that are 40+ years old, so does Bill. I’ve got furniture hand-me-downs that are almost 200 years old and as good as any replacement could be. Planned obsolescence should certainly be regulated. Nothing manufactured should pass inspection unless it is made to endure for many decades because… there’s no excuse for such wastefulness.

    3. FluffytheObeseCat

      Conceivably it’s because semi-monopolies like Lowe’s aren’t adjusting their hiring practices to the surge in traffic. From the CBS link above:

      “….Smedley said [Governor] Abbott’s decision has put her in a tough situation, since many of her cleaning clients are still working remotely and haven’t rehired her. And she’s applied for about 100 of the “voluminous jobs” touted by Abbott when he announced the end to enhanced jobless benefits, but hasn’t had any luck. She said she believes her age and her 15-year history as a self-employed worker are hurting her chances

      They want the same people they were hiring 16 months ago, and only those people. The current middle aged jobless aren’t to their taste.

  5. Wukchumni

    Speaking of Everest: The Call of the Void London Review of Books

    It costs upward of £50,000 to try to reach the summit of Everest, and the mortality rate is about the same as for Covid-19: around 1 per cent. Two hundred desiccated corpses stipple the slopes, serving as way-markers and warnings. Many were victims of the thin air. Low oxygen levels in the bloodstream cause cells to leak fluid into the lungs and brain. What starts as ‘Khumbu cough’, with its pink, foamy sputum and rib-breaking convulsions, can progress to a drowning sensation and eventual death. Fluid on the brain impairs decision-making in a place where a wrong step can mean falling hundreds of metres to your death. Retinal haemorrhage can strike without warning, causing instant blindness, which can mean being left to die.

    An oxygen crisis is unfolding. While mountaineers who’ve paid their way to recreational breathlessness are up in the clouds chugging on oxygen canisters, tended to by Sherpa guides who can’t afford to stop working, people are fighting for their lives down at ground level. This is more than just symbolism; 3500 bottles of oxygen are on the mountain right now, and Nepal’s hospitals are 25,000 cylinders short. The Nepal Mountaineering Association is urging climbers to bring empty vessels down with them so they can be refilled and used for Covid-19 patients.

    Here in the half scale Himalaya, aside from a few peaks with trails to the top (Alta & Whitney) route finding off-trail is half the fun getting there, and more than likely it’ll be only our party on the mountain, and we’ll be essentially day hiking-no special gear needed as damn near every peak in the High Sierra has a somewhat pedestrian side-the Clark Kent, to the other approach being kinda vertical, requiring Superman like skills and that ain’t me babe, i’ll be hanging out with Clark. We don’t need a guide as in the Himalaya, but know our way around the mountain using a topo, also utilizing a xerox copy of pages from R.J. Secor’s book, with suggested routes.

    It’ll cost you zero £, but you’ll need a wilderness permit which will set you back $15. You’ll probably lose pounds as it can be 10 to 30 miles walk in just to get to the approach, and you’ll not encounter any trash on the way, nor oxygen bottles or hundreds of corpses.

    Nobody will ever hear of your exploits happening unless somebody gets hurt or preferably dies, and only then does it reach a peak in human interest stories, a drama in real life that makes the news in contrast to somebody keeling over from a coronary @ the mall who doesn’t make the cut: the mortality rate, if you will.

    When you get to the summit (I never saw a view on top I didn’t like), there’s almost always a peak register, your Kilroy Was Here moment. A friend used to sign his merely as ‘X’. Some peaks go through a register every 5-10 years, others can be a century old. The most basic old school one on obscure summits is a pre-digital aluminum film canister under a rock with not a lot of room for expression owing to lack of writing paper potential within, not to mention not much of a pencil.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      The Everest thing really makes me angry. At this stage, its pure ego to want to climb it, and anyone with any awareness must know that the Sherpas are in an economic trap where they have little option but to take terrible risks upon themselves to support their families. Its got to the point where I have no sympathy anymore for anyone who isn’t a Sherpa dying on that mountain.

      The Bhutanese have banned all high altitude climbing, and haven’t suffered economically. They focus instead on trekking and insist on local guides and local homestays and locally owned hotels only, so the benefits are spread widely. They have developed a successful model of sustainable high altitude tourism, and there is really no good reason for any Himalayan country or region not to copy their model. There are actually amazing little used treks around Everest, especially on the Chinese Tibetan side that could be developed for local tourism, but they are largely ignored for a variety of reasons, many political.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Personally I am p*ssed at the thought of the thousands of bottles of oxygen being wasted on these people when they know full well that they are vitally needed, especially in Nepal. At times like this, I wonder if those sherpas have seen that film “Jack the Giant Slayer”- (the first 1 minute)

    2. Carolinian

      So you walk up the back side of Half Dome rather than proceed straight up the Ansel Adams lensed face? ‘Fraid both at this point are beyond the reach of my geezer self.

      Coincidentally last night I was watching Everest, which is a fictional version, not documentary, about the Thin Air incident. It’s a so so movie and can’t really recommend but the scenery and atmospherics are claimed authentic.

      1. Wukchumni

        So you walk up the back side of Half Dome rather than proceed straight up the Ansel Adams lensed face?
        Growing up in LA it seemed as if Sequoia NP was it’s Sierra NP and Yosemite NP was SF’s, and we seldom went to the Y and the one memory of it was the Fire Fall which I saw when I was a little kid, it left a big impression. Lava coming down Wallhalla, whew!

        Yosemite Fire Fall 1960s – Old footage

        A friend wants to do Half Dome, but couldn’t get permits this year.

        I’m a bit pensive in regards to doing it as being in a rather tight vertical space with people of unknown ability all around you isn’t my bag, but would’ve had he got the permit. As it is 6 of us are doing a backpack in Yosemite this summer, hope water availability isn’t an issue in August!

        1. Carolinian

          Yes no fire fall these days for sure.

          Ansel liked both parks but he and his Sierra Club cohort were San Franciscans. Someday I’d like to go see where his house was, near the Golden Gate. I’ve been to SF but only for the briefest of moments.

    3. Craig H.

      The London Review article is pretty great. Excellent photo. Trivia! Everest did not pronounce his name the way we all do. There’s still a couple days left for this year’s madmen and their sherpas. It has been a slow year as the virus scare at base camp sent a bunch of people home so not so many summits or casualties as typical. The best coverage is Alan Arnette’s. (He has summited once and turned around before totally losing it three times.)

      1. hunkerdown

        Has Andrei Martyanov been an employee of US military intelligence all this time? I’ll take a pass on self-righteous abstinence (but I’ll still block Lang’s ads and override his Comic Sans font).

    1. Susan the other

      We do know from a century of experience that all it takes to be a super military power is money. Lots of it. And we allowed our system to give our military every dime it ever asked for. The Russians were far more conservative. They were never an acute threat to us. Nor to our way of doing turbo-business – several degrees above mercantilism. But now that the world has kinda passed the finish line and the applause has died down, what’s next? We can’t run forever. Nor do we want to.

  6. Mikel

    RE: “Facebook lifts ban on posts claiming Covid-19 was man-made” Guardian (Kevin W). I hate having to acknowledge debate of this issue. First, this debate is going to influence no decisions regarding how to deal with Covid.

    Whether a virus evolved in nature or was created in a lab could have a lot to do with the type of vaccine or tretment that is effective. Like maybe having to use an experimental type of vaccine….

    And countdown until China reminds the world that that they were not and are not the only country involved in research of the same virus.

    1. Lee

      “List of BSL-4 facilities (Wikipedia)

      This list is incomplete; you can help by adding missing items with reliable sources.

      According to a U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report published on 4 October 2007, a total of 1,356 CDC/USDA registered BSL-3 facilities were identified throughout the United States.[29] Approximately 36% of these laboratories are located in academia. 15 BSL-4 facilities were identified in the U.S. in 2007, including nine at federal labs.[29]

      The following is a list of existing BSL-4 facilities worldwide [See Wikipedia linked article].”

      Viral gain-of-function research is performed in biosafety level 4 labs. Government funding for this type of research has been at times paused and then restarted over safety concerns. Gain-of-Function Research: Ethical Analysis

      1. Ana

        The list of Level 4 facilities in the US is not complete. I believe there is one in the East Bay built on the Hayward fault that is run by the University of California at Berkeley via Lawrence Livermore Lab, likewise run by UC Berkeley.

        1. JBird4049

          On the Hayward Fault? Of course, they did. Maybe they thought the San Francisco’s 1906 Fire and Earthquake was a myth, and that the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake was a one-off, or something. (Bangs head on keyboard)

          It is truly just a matter of time, near certain within the life of most people reading this comment now, that either, or both, the San Francisco Bay Area and Greater LA gets a quake as least as big as the 1906 one.

          The western half of the state is just riddled with faults with new ones still being found. If they ha to have a lab anywhere near the Bay Area, they could have moved it 50-75 miles east and have been fairly safe, albeit not completely. At a hundred miles, they could have picked a probable fault free place completely on the North American plate and away from the Pacific plate (and the San Andreas Fault between them).

          This would have required either commuting or living in some small farm/cow town though. Can’t have that.

    2. ArkansasAngie

      Here is hoping that a BIG discussion on why this is allowed to happen anywhere in the world ensues. Yes we need to study viruses. No we do not need to be making new ones. Covid … here’s hoping it doesn’t morph into something far worse than today. But if it is man made … let’s be darn sure to debate it.

      Just say No to Bio-warfare.

    3. Ignacio

      You guys can lose all the time you like with man-made virus narratives until SARS CoV 3 arrives simply because nobody paid attention to the risks of emerging viruses. You are free to do so. Freedom is important, isn’t it?

  7. No Party

    Re: COVID ‘Mission Accomplished’

    I work for a large agency in the federal government. Yesterday my organization (about 8,000 people) held a town hall with all employees to declare the COVID pandemic over. A quick summary for the commentariat:

    – Started off with a triumphant video declaring victory, complete with employee testimonials about how safe they feel returning to work in the office.

    – Big boss then tells everyone to get vaccinated. Explains he will require everyone to return to the office at 100% capacity by August, and that the organization will not be expanding telework as previously suggested. Doesn’t think expanding telework is fair because certain positions aren’t eligible to telework at all, doesn’t want to create division amongst the workforce (okay, I actually can’t fault the boss for this logic).

    – Then the pitch starts to go off the rails. Big boss discusses the new mask policy. If you’ve been vaccinated, you don’t have to wear a mask; if you haven’t been vaccinated, you must wear a mask. When the policy was released two weeks ago, it was to be enforced using the ‘honor system’; but big boss tells us he got a legal opinion that the organization is allowed to require proof of vaccination while in the workplace. Might as well laminate your vaccination cards and wear around your neck he tells us (collective gasp from the workers attending the town hall in person and virtually).

    – Next, big boss explains that the vaccinated still have the right to wear a mask, and we need to respect their right to do so (okay, another point I agree with). But then he goes on this bizarre testimonial saying how when he’s at work, he’s comfortable not wearing a mask because it’s a safer environment. But when he’s ‘outside the gate’ of the workplace, he continues to wear his mask because he doesn’t trust circulating in the general public. Says “I see the restaurants at full capacity, and no one is wearing masks there. So when I eat out, I order my food take out and get the hell out of there as quickly as possible. I don’t know where those people have been.”

    – Massive confusion in the audience. The virtual participants start posting incensed comments on the town hall thread. Amazingly, the boss’ testimonial has convinced both anti-vaxxers and the COVID concerned that he’s further making their arguments. Just a sampling of comments: Anti-vaxx “Obviously, if the boss trusted the vaccine, he would trust circulating amongst the public without a mask. So why is he forcing me to get a vaccine?” COVID concerned “So basically the boss is saying the workplace is safer because he’s forcing us to wear proof of vaccination around our necks? But we don’t even know if the vaccine works effectively, or how long it lasts!”

    – Boss’ aide notifies him that people are making ‘off-color’ comments on the thread. Boss decides to read a sampling out loud, then argue one-by-one how each has twisted his words. His diatribe does nothing to resolve the confusion.

    Conclusion: What does this all mean? I really couldn’t tell you. I just thought it entertaining to watch the boss’ mental contortions live on stage while he tried to explain and justify this ridiculous pandemic strategy levied on all of us by our incompetent overloads. And it strikes me how poor a strategy it is that literally destroys unity and forces everyone to retreat to their information silos to fend for themselves. Neoliberalism, well done! President Biden, take a bow!!!!

    1. The Rev Kev

      After reading this, I am at an absolute loss for words. If I were you I would be keeping my mask handy as this will not end well.

      1. John

        Someone(s) made the decision. We must reopen. Perhaps it was Mr. Market. Perhaps the deep state. Perhaps them; you know them, who control everything from a bunker in New Zealand or in the Yellowstone Club, one of those kind of places. I guess this proves that Biden is indeed transformative. He took relative clarity and made it a muddle.

        For me, I have been vaccinated. I am in my middle 80s. I am going to wear a mask when I am around a number of people in side or outside.

        1. Keith

          A more conspiracy minded type, from which I have seen on other forums, thinks since it is past bidens 100 days and covid did what was needed for the election, that is the reason we are pushing to open up.

          1. Aumua

            Guaranteed that is exactly what a lot of AJ/Qanon leaning type conservatives do think. And in all honesty it does look like that so I can’t really blame them especially when those kind of ideas are being hammered into their heads day in and day out. But also just because something could be true doesn’t mean that it is true.

          2. Aumua

            Just to expound on that a little bit: Control of the COVID narratives in the MSM is a real factor in the bigger picture here, just like we’re seeing with the sudden renewed interest in its origins, seemingly out of nowhere. And how serious it is (or isn’t) is one of the levers that has been pushed this way and that to help accomplish various agendas. But certainly it would seem that the push to open up now has strong bipartisan support, insofar as the ruling class has that support. Republicans and/or the hard right are more aggressive if anything about re-opening than the Democrats, as evidenced by Republican governors moving en mass to cut short federal unemployment aid in their states. But of course both sides are beholden to the same forces of Capital, which needs a desperate labor pool from which to draw its… workers.

        2. Kurtismayfield

          Mr. “Gotta have summer places not go under permanently” made these decisions. The Cape and Maine are going to be utterly packed this weekend.

          1. Synoia

            It’s an exhibition of power. The Big boss has power, and the workers do not. The more confused one becomes is a measure of the Big Boss’ power.

            And whatever the workers do, correct or incorrect, they can be blamed for not behaving properly.

    2. Keith

      Sounds about right. I also work for .gov. in addition, the shot is on an honor basis. For me, I think it is bad form to lie to coworkers, I am end up getting it. One additional item, boss at my end is fighting with employees with leave to get it. You have to prove you need the four hours leave and does not want to grant the full time allotted, which I understood to be part of the perk.

    3. km

      I personally have a powerful anticharisma, such that I could not lead a puppy to steak, but I know that the first rule of leadership is to never give an order that you do not know will be followed.

  8. Wukchumni
    I’m very attracted to water but not in an ocean way.

    Swimming in the river is so different from a pool full of chemicals that kinda resembles a watery morgue, and one of my favorites is to swim a length of say 3 miles later in the summer when the water level is low and no snowmelt left-water temps around 75, and really we’ll only be in the drink about half the time, portaging to get around obstacles such as 6 foot high waterfalls onto granite or other no go zones. We might have a dandy stretch of 100 yards with 7 foot deep water but more than likely we’ll have 100 foot stretches with a few feet deep if that. We’ve all got water shoes & dry bag daypacks, and really the only part you’re relaxed is in the water, as the portage requires you to think all the time and slipping on granite happens-so you’re hyper aware. The first time I did it about 3 years ago it so worked me that when I got home and my wife made me dinner, I was eating and looked over to her and said ‘it hurts to chew!’ I was completely beat and in a good way.

    Before we moved here I really had no idea the importance of a swimming hole in the summer to beat back the 100 days of 100 degrees, and there are hundreds around these parts, my favorite being one called Slicky on the main fork of our 4 rivers. Local kids (and 30 year olds that started young) will self their soles to do Slicky.

    Three Rivers, Calif. — IN the 106-degree heat of August, Deva DeLisio plants his feet down on the crest of a slab of granite partially submerged in the main fork of the Kaweah River. Water rushing over the rock looks like a wide, short waterfall tilted at a 45-degree angle. The 16-year-old stands, his long, shaggy brown hair crowning his skinny, deeply tanned frame. The pounding of water into the pool beneath creates an intense, almost visceral, sound.

    Standing on dry rock about 20 feet away, Deva’s eyes focus on the giant rock locals have named Slicky. He takes off full throttle toward the cascade. Once his feet hit the ankle-deep water, he takes short steps that maintain his momentum and allow him to keep his balance. Water flies all around him, and, after about 10 feet, he begins to slide.

    He speeds up as water pulls him down a channel in the rock, bends his legs and absorbs bumps like a mogul skier. A spray of water precedes him as he sticks the landing 20 feet below where he started — still upright and mostly dry. This is “surfing” Slicky. (LA Times)

    Here’s a quickie glimpse of the action:

    1. Alfred

      Long ago swimming in the Rio Grande I was pulled under and almost swept away by a current. It felt like the water grabbed my ankle and pulled me under. If my then-husband had not been there to grab my arm, I don’t know what would have happened. Now when I swim in the local river, I find the shallow spots and sit in the natural jet massage tubs.

      1. barefoot charley

        Paddling in northern Wisconsin long ago, summer flows had cut a narrow fast channel through the river-bottom mud, and I ditched the canoe, sat down in the slop and slid a quarter-mile down the smooth mud, at speed. Exhilarating in a Midwestern kind of way.

      2. John Zelnicker

        Swimming in the Gulf of Mexico, about 40 miles south of my home in Mobile, can be problematic when there are rip currents along the beach. They can quickly drag a person out beyond their capacity to swim back to shore. Many inexperienced swimmers have lost their lives trying to fight the rip currents to swim straight back to the beach.

        The correct escape strategy is to swim horizontally along the beach line until you’re out of the currents, then turn and swim back to the beach.

        Every year a couple of naive tourists lose their lives in rip currents despite warning signs showing how to get out of them safely.

        1. juno mas

          The problem with tourists and rip currents is that they don’t know how to swim (or stay afloat) in the first place. I live on the Pacific Ocean and see the lifeguards racing to retrieve the flailers often. Hint: Do not attempt to do a water rescue without a flotation device. Otherwise all involved are likely to drown.

  9. pebird

    >QAnon Shaman’s lawyer claims shirtlessness during Capitol riot is evidence of his “mental vulnerability”.

    What about the horns?

      1. newcatty

        Oh, you are great PR for AZ! Arizonanas will be celebrating Memorial Day weekend in the kick-off of summer! Shinning up my horns, polishing up my cowgirl boots, pressing my starched jeans and frilliest cowgirl shirt. My trusty ride ( uh, oh…our secret is out…its not a truck..its an old Subaru) is ready to go on the road to the courthouse square. Remember my, then, teenaged kid saying: God, so tired of meeting people from CA who tease about us all riding horses to school and wearing cowboy jeans. Ha…guess who met and married a Californian. One of many who came to one of the AZ universities.

    1. ambrit

      S/ The horns are a fashion statement. Shirtlessness is a sign of “pre-therapy ego vulnerability.” An intervention is warranted because the fellow is “crying out for help, symbolically.” /S
      I find this funny. It contradicts the descriptions of the January 6th event as an “Insurrection.” Real would be golpistas would have already released a manifesto and be angling 24/7 for interviews and speaking venues to “preach their gospel.” A certain 20th Century dictator famously wrote a manifesto while doing time for a failed “insurrection.”

    2. The Rev Kev

      Didn’t President George Bush get into a bit of trouble once for giving the horn’s sign live on TV as a football ‘hook ’em’ sign – but which Iraqis interpreted as the sign of the devil?

      1. ambrit

        The Irakis were correct in their assumption. The history of the Bush Administration’s ‘dealings’ with Irak prove the contention.
        For the hundreds of thousands of Irakis who died as a direct or indirect result of Bush’s Middle East policies, he literally was the Devil.

      2. jsn

        Iran is sure Texas is the heart of the Great Satan because The Universtity of Texas can fill a 100,000 seat stadium with rabid ideologues making the sign of the Devil!

        I was one of them.

        An Iranian classmate in 1981 showed me a clipping from a paper his family sent him from Tehran explaining a UT football game as Satanism.

    3. hamstak

      The horns are a compensation mechanism for the shirtlessness vulnerability. Balance is established, like Yin and Yang, or the McDLT.

  10. Pat

    Regarding our news media, they don’t even try to pretend anymore. Oh sure they use the same words and the same dulcet tones but it is all about manipulating the public. And it is blatant. Sometimes It is to advance a narrative, sometimes it is to distract that public. Never is it to make things better for them, if anything good comes it is inadvertent and fleeting.

    But most terrifying to me is that media doesn’t just create winners and losers, it now advances villains and heroes most notably Russia, China, but we also saw Trump evil buffoon and Biden transformative leader. We are not just never asked to think we are actively discouraged from doing so. Our hopes are raised, the villain announced and our fears are fed as those hopes are dashed. And we blame who we are told to blame.

    1. Carolinian

      It seems as though they are increasingly only talking to each other. With distractions and platforms on every side it’s their only guaranteed audience.

      News media crit matters to those of us who spend so much time consuming it but I wonder if the public really cares. Polls do show trust in the MSM to be quite low.

      1. Pat

        Maybe, you could be right Or their influence has been so corrupted that people go “huh, what?” and “why should I care?” so much faster now. So they try to distract another way. Either way it is getting harder and harder to find the nuggets of information amidst the chaff.

  11. ChrisFromGeorgia

    Re: WeWork

    Has that ponzi scheme re-imploded yet? Last I heard they were trying to go public again through a SPAC, or some other financially engineered fraud.

    Their new CEO managed to insult half the work force by saying that remote workers are “less engaged” than their “schlep to the office and brownnose with the boss” counterparts. It appears that they are hoping companies dump their CRE leases en masse and move to co-sharing as their path forward.

  12. Ghost in the Machine

    I disagree that the true origin of COVID is not important at this point. The details of the virus genetics which highly suggest a lab leak are basically never elucidated in the msn. It is a bit technical but is not rocket science and can be explained. These details do not prove it, but it makes the argument for natural origin very strained and less parsimonious.
    Gain of function research is very dangerous and in my opinion should be banned. We are too flawed as human beings to be entrusted with carefully carrying out this work as demonstrated by many past leaks. Many scientists and the militaries around the world would like to protect it of course. And scientists ( I am one) do not like to be told what they can and cannot study.
    Of course, it is heavily politicized now. The right latched on early so must be proven wrong and the right I am sure would love to give the scientific community a black eye (which is grating), but the scientific community does itself no favors by suppressing a clearly viable hypothesis. The scientists who wrote the editorial in Science (the prominent journal) calling for open investigation are very prominent in the infectious disease world. This conflict within science has the potential to do terrible reputations damage and they know it.

    1. Aumua

      You are the second person to bring up the “highly suggestive” virus genetics pointing to a lab leak without any details or references. I’m not saying that you’re necessarily wrong, just that I’d like to see something backing up your assertion here.

      1. R

        sars-cov-2 is
        – very bad at infecting bats, so bad it is unlikely a bat could have spread it, even served to your table under a cloche: ta-dah!
        – very good at binding human ACE2
        – contains some unique sequences among beta coronaviruses at locations that you would expect to be highly conserved because of their importance to its functioning. This includes a furin cleavage site that is coded using codons that are human rather than viral: different organisms favour different synonyms in DNA for the same amino acid, a bit like you can tell the French from the Belgians because they say soixante-dix and septante respectively for the same number, 70.

        Then there are the facts that suggest WIV is not, er, playing with a straight bat. Posting a paper of a short sequence of their closest homologue of sars-cov-2 under one name and implying it was recently sequenced, when a much bigger entry in their records already existed under a different name from their collecting activities at the mine in Yunnan years earlier. Plus their disclosed and NIH grant recipient-funded gain-of-function experiments in beta coronaviruses since, which include genetic manipulation and humanisation.

        1. Aumua

          Thanks for that. I haven’t read it thoroughly yet, but this stood out to me on skimming through it:

          Where We Are So Far

          Neither the natural emergence nor the lab escape hypothesis can yet be ruled out. There is still no direct evidence for either. So no definitive conclusion can be reached.

          So I’ll admit that it’s possible the virus was leaked from that lab, or any lab. But a lot of things are possible, that doesn’t make them true. I mean it’s kind of a commonly held belief that governments experiment with these things both above the board and in secret. The Stand is 43 years old this year, ffs. But as I’ve said I don’t really think this newfound zealotry for investigation is about finding the truth or fixing anything that’s broken, regardless of what the truth actually is.

  13. allan

    The National Science Foundation is supposed to be the premier federal funder of basic research in the natural sciences and engineering (outside of the biomedical realm where NIH serves the same function).
    But it has now been partly reimagined as a start-up incubator. From a recent email blast:

    Each month, America’s Seed Fund powered by the National Science Foundation (NSF) shares
    exciting news stories from NSF-funded startups. Below find May 2021 news highlights from a few companies formerly and currently funded by the NSF Small Business Innovation Research/
    Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) programs: …

    Ginkgo Bioworks
    Using biology as a manufacturing platform, Ginkgo Bioworks (NSF-1256446) can program cells for a variety of applications including food, agriculture, industrial chemicals, and pharmaceuticals.
    The company recently announced it will be going public in a $17.5 billion SPAC deal
    with Soaring Eagle Acquisition Corp.

    Farther Farms
    Food tech startup Farther Farms (NSF-1819600) is producing a sterilization technology using carbon dioxide to produce shelf-stable foods that do not require freezing or refrigeration. By inactivating enzymes (!) and microorganisms (!!) in foods that cause spoilage, their drying technique can be used on any food product, including fruits, vegetables, dairy, or meats. …

    Benson Hill
    Using machine learning, simulations, and genetics to optimize plant growth, Benson Hill (NSF-1346317) is developing production techniques that result in faster plant growth and have higher protein content, saving growers time and resources while producing more sustainable food sources. The company recently announced it will be be going public in a $2 billion merger with Special Purpose Acquisition Company (SPAC) Star Peak Corp. II. …

    Affectiva (NSF-1152261) developed software that can detect and analyze emotion as a way of democratizing (!) market research by translating nonverbal expressions to online market research, AI for road safety (!!), and brand direction in social media (!!!). The MIT spinout was recently acquired for $73.5 million.

    See more news from NSF-funded startups by following us on Twitter @NSFSBIR.

    The bench-to-SPAC pipeline is strong.

  14. Darthbobber

    The piece from Klitschko in Ukraine.
    I’d almost forgotten that this little pebble would drop someday. Those who recall the events leading up to Yanukovitch’s departure may recall that among the events leading up to that denoument one of the biggest ones was him seeking, and Russia authorizing a loan that would be an alternative or an addition to the IMF/European package that was then nearing finalization.

    Yanukovitch was not seeking an alternative for sinister geopolitical reasons, but because he saw the onerous terms of the western package as economically unviable and politically untenable.

    One of the most onerous things was that the package mandated the eventual elimination of “unnatural” fuel subsidies for the populace, that interfered with Mr. Market’s ability to perform his miracles. Since a large fraction of the Ukrainian populace could by no means afford energy at unsubsidized prices this was always going to be a bit of a problem.

    My memory is that this was supposed to happen a while back. Presumably the Ukies have been periodically allowed to drag their feet on that, but it looks as if push is finally coming to shove. I’m positive our press won’t be bothered to connect those dots, but this was baked into the deal when the rump parliament rammed that package through. I’m sure it will somehow be Putin’s fault.

    1. km

      Not to mention that recalibrating the Ukrainian economy to EU standards, laws, etc. would be vastly expensive and disruptive, costing Ukraine money that it did not have.

      For that matter, the EU also wasn’t offering Ukraine much. It offered “association”, meaning Ukraine could assume many of the burdens of EU membership but few of the benefits. (This fact went way over the heads of the students who first went to protest in Maidan. They thought that they would be allowed to emigrate. I have always thought it criminally irresponsible of the EU leadership not to have disabused them of this notion. To be fair, Ukrainians were somewhat later allowed to travel visa-free to the EU (nudge wink) as a sop to Poroshenko and to prop up his declining popularity.)

      By contrast, integrating Ukraine’s economy with that of Russia would be relatively painless, and Ukraine (an incredibly energy-inefficient country) would be able to purchase Russian hydrocarbons on the internal Russian price. At least in the short term, it was a no-brainer, and Ukraine did not have the resources to devote to longer-term solutions.

  15. John

    I have noted with interest but not fervor the wide swings about the origins of CoVid, its lethality or lack of it, its long term effects or not, its deliberate release by sinister actors or not, and all this time the disease has progressed from urban to rural with no respect for politics or economics or ethnicity or race. The virus goes on its way from country to country and continent to continent. Yes, it will be good to know its origin. We might forestall the next iteration of a similar disease. What does interest me is treating the afflicted, vaccinating as many as can be reached, determining whether or not booster shots are necessary. We have some degree of control over those issues. We do know that masks and ventilation help. We do know that crowding is unhelpful. Why not focus on what can be done since the genie out of the bottle. Using a matter of public health to advance a political agenda has an unpleasant odor.

  16. Lee

    “America’s Frontline Doctors v. Beccera Petition for Temporary Restraining Order. Filed in the Northern District of Alabama on May 20. Seeks an injunction against administering Covid vaccines to children 16 or younger. Buried in here is what strikes me as a good legal argument:

    In the specific instance of minor Plaintiffs under 16, the Court must consider that an “EUA requires that an intervention address a serious or life threatening condition…”

    California and, I assume, other jurisdictions require that children receive certain vaccinations as a condition for attending public schools. But these vaccines are being administered under some authority other than an EUA.

    I’m wondering what criteria must be met for a vaccine to be deemed safe enough that its use can be legally mandated.

    And what are the legal and medical ramifications of the fact that while children appear to enjoy a high degree of immunity from Covid-19, they can infect others who are susceptible and therefore represent a possible threat to public health?

    Having experienced the full force of parental protective ferocity in myself and others, I’m glad my days of parenting little ones are well behind me so that I need no longer enter the lions’ dens of PTA meetings and the like.

  17. Wukchumni

    Covid live: Olympics could cause new variant, doctor warns Guardian
    The Germ’ans are expected to take in the largest haul in the summer games whether they happen or not. Tokyo looks to go 1-2 in hosting the Olympics historically, the other time it didn’t happen being some lame war excuse.

    You have to feel for the athletes though, what about that woman whose hair has turned green from all the chlorine as she relentlessly goes forward with her backstroke training, or those really strange race walkers, all that effort for naught.

    1. Tom Doak

      Oh, but one of the best parts is that we will somehow manage to claim that Team USA are heroes and would have won gold in every event, as we did in 1980 when forcing our athletes to sacrifice their career dreams in protest over Moscow’s intervention in some foreign country . . . where was that again?

          1. ambrit

            Perhaps Habs-bara and Habs-not-bara. (For ‘occupants’ of another sort of ‘Aboriginal Homeland.’)

  18. The Rev Kev

    “Biden Renews Virus Origin Probe That’s So Far Come Up Empty”

    Thought that you guys might enjoy an alternate time-line story today. So in this history, it is about 1920 and the Great Flu Pandemic is about finished after killing up to 100 million people worldwide. The British Empire & its Dominions demands an investigation into its origins and quickly eyes focus on Kansas in America as the original source. The calculation is made in Whitehall that this will put the increasingly powerful United States on the back-foot and keep the British Empire on top.

    A team is sent from the League of Nations to investigate what happened in Kansas but no matter what they find, London insists that America is still responsible and should perhaps pay reparations to the world. No-none doubts its natural origins but, but, it is know that the US sent troop ships to Europe knowing that the virus was making those same soldiers sick and who would spread it when they reached Europe. The US protests and says that those troops were vitally needed at the front and so had to be transported but the former Allies point out that it was the European nations that still did the hard fighting so the arrival of American troops could have waited until they served time in quarantine.

    Americans get insulted and start to get truculent at the constant insults and charges but London is happy because they have an issue to attack the new powerful American empire with while the British Empire continues its growth. And that is how it is done.

    1. JohnnyGL

      Fun story, however, that doesn’t change the fact that the Brits were hell bent on getting back on the gold standard and willing to sacrifice their industrial base to make it happen. The British economy spent most of the 1920s in the doldrums because of moronic, sadist elites with bad monetary ideas.

      Luckily we live in the USA where no one has fake moralistic ideas about how to run an economy!!!

      LOL!!! We’re doomed!!!

  19. Milton

    In today’s Guardian, I was drawn to an article about the insidiousness of ‘Centrism’ and how it unjustly props up the status quo. So I started reading about this moderate middle and their supposed assumptions about racial biases and prejudices (I agree with this). But after three more paragraphs dealing with social wrongs, capital riots, and white terror inflicted on peoples of color, I realize that this entire article is going to be 15 paragraphs of nothing but IDpol with nary a mention of class issues. No questions as to why certain groups are rushing the capitol or terrorizing Asians. No thoughts about how the status quo quashes any discussion regarding policies that might benefit all peoples. This was a load of poo poo from that dependable ruling elite lapdog.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      I hate to indulge in ad-hom, but once you see the byline is by Rebecca Solnit, you should know exactly what sort of nonsense to expect.

  20. ambrit

    The Other Shoe drops.
    Krystal and Saagar are out as hosts on “The Rising.”
    The enforcement of “Conformity” is moving into high gear.
    Now I fear that we all will be left with only foreign outlets from which to glean “unbiased” news items.
    Welcome to “Festung Amerika.”

    1. The Rev Kev

      Sad this as they were both very good at their jobs. Most of the news presenters I have seen are just trash so they will be sorely missed online. I guess that it was timed for the beginning of your long weekend to stop a lot of protests. I wonder what they will have in their place? The best of Rachel Maddow?

      1. ambrit

        Oh no! A Rachel clone!
        Agreed that the “line up” presented next week on the program will tell us all we need to know about the ‘aims and goals’ of the media elites.
        Will the format revert to a basic MSM propaganda fest?
        Oddly enough, this development makes NC even more of an “essential service” for independent thinkers.
        I’m tempted to sing out the popular refrain:
        “First they came for Alex Jones, but I was too enmeshed in ‘Q’ to care. Then they came for ‘Q’ but my corn flakes were getting cold. Then they came for K & S and I dropped my spoon into my bowl of granola in ‘righteous indignation.’ Now there’s a knock on the door…..”

        1. The Rev Kev

          Decades ago there was a comedian who said that the difference between America and Soviet Russia was that in America when there was a knock at the door early in the morning, it was the milkman….

      2. .Tom

        Looks like it will be Ryan Grim and Emily Jashinsky next week. Perhaps they are filling in until The Hill can find permanent replacements. I suspect, I do not know, that Krystal and Saagar couldn’t come to terms with The Hill over extending the employment contract and The Hill is using these familiar subs until the get something else sorted out.

        Or perhaps these are Rising’s new presenters. Ryan Grim is terrible on camera and pretty bad on microphone (he should concentrate on writing). Emily Jashinsky is a polished and compelling presenter but apart from that I don’t know. Assuming she will be an honest advocate of the conservative side, Rising is doomed since Grim is a brown-nosed party man, even if he’s a competent DC politics reporter.

      3. Roger

        Saagar has become a China. China, China attack dog, jumping on any of the anti-China stories with no countenance for actual facts. I lost a lot of respect for him the past few months. Krystal is good, but didn’t call Saagar out on his recent bullshitting trend.

    2. lyman alpha blob

      What the hell?!?!? I was just about to turn them on – that’s the only news I’ll watch any more.

      Also, your link says it a private video – what does that even mean?

      1. ambrit

        “Private video??? Oh my.”
        It pulls up when I click on it.
        If worst comes to worst, go to YouTube and weasel around.
        Plus, what happens to the archived ‘reports?’ Do they disappear?
        Someone very recently mentioned that someone else has predicted that Orwell’s 1984 will come to America in 2024. How the archived ‘news segments’ are treated will be an educational experience. How big is a virtual memory hole anyway?

        1. lyman alpha blob

          Just tried again and it opened up – not sure why it was listed as private before. It said I could login to view it earlier, so maybe it was just google trying to get me to create an account so they could harvest even more data. They do keep pushing me to do that quite a bit recently. At some point they will probably make it so you can’t see anything on youtube unless you login with an account, which I believe is what Fleecebook does.

      2. .Tom

        The link worked for me. Maybe it was a temporary thing.

        Saagar gets a chin tremble at the end which is quite touching.

        1. ambrit

          Saagar recently mentioned on the show that he had lost his lease near the D of C and was encountering the unavailability of any place he could afford to rent or buy in that area. He has just lost what was probably the highest paying job he has had so far in his working life. Now he is faced with going out “on his own” without a safety net. No wonder he’s emotional.

          1. .Tom

            And he’s leaving an idea and a team that he invested a great deal in and with whom he worked for two years. It worked! and now it’s over. I get it. I wasn’t mocking.

            1. ambrit

              I didn’t think you were.
              I wonder about how quickly all this happened. When did the two hosts find out that “the End was nigh?”
              I suspect that they were blindsided by this.

            2. ex-PFC Chuck

              This morning I saw a tweet of their announcement re leaving “The Hill,” and it included a link to a Mailchimp place to sign up with an email address to learn “what they’re up to next on June 1st at 9:00AM EST.” Maybe if you go to their Twitter page you can find the Tweet and sign up as well. Here’s the link:

    3. Isotope_C14

      What possible reason would the Hill have to let Krystal and Saagar go? Their show is fantastic. It’s probably the only reason The Hill has any subscribers.

      1. ambrit

        My best guess is that whoever owns the Hill believes that he or she has the right to micromanage anything they control. Editorial friction would be my first guess as to the motivation for this change in hosts.
        Secondly, the Hill might be trying to downplay the strength of the hosts versus the dominance of the platform in various fields of endeavour. “Who’s in charge here? We’ll show you who’s boss!”
        Thirdly, perhaps it was a simple salary dispute. The infotainment sphere is rife with cautionary tales of on air workers versus management shenanigans. The famous case is the time a very popular soap opera was in a dispute with several of it’s main players over salary. The on air players wouldn’t buckle under. So, the show had a cliffhanger episode where all the characters whose actors playing them were still not re-signed were put in a car and run off of a cliff. Whoever signed the offered contract over the weekend were found, on the program, “alive” by emergency services the next week. Those who would not sign were found “dead” and funeral shows were scripted for their characters. (I can’t find a reference on Google to this, but I remember watching it with Mom one time when I was home from grade school, in bed with a flu.)

        1. Brooklin Bridge

          What about the sponsors or advertisers? Bill Gates, for instance, has been repeated called out for the dog shit he is (where he kept the smell but got rid of the fertilizer) in trying to protect his pharma interests and prevent license waivers for vaccines for countries such as India. It’s always been a hoot to listen for a bit to the pure distilled blather of the adds and then get a blast of Krystal putting welding level light/heat on big pharma, or whatever. Saagar’s not so bad either.

          What ever the reason, it is indeed a big loss for the very reason you mention above – it was a very main stream platform. The incongruity alone was wonderful, but more to the point, it provided a bit of main stream atmosphere for the ideas and topics to be aired. A novelty in and of itself.

          Since they were allowed to go on for so long, I suspect it’s the advetizers that finally pulled the plug.

          1. ambrit

            I’m wondering if we haven’t ‘fallen back’ to the days when “news outlets” were baldly partisan propaganda organs. I’m thinking Hearst and his pro-Imperialism agenda from the 1900s.
            Advertisers might now be just a subset of the class, ‘Donors and Sponsors.’
            Stay safe in the big city!

    4. lyman alpha blob

      Trying to get info on this but can’t get anything definitive. Were they forced out or did they leave on their own? The wikipedia page for Rising says they announced in May that they were leaving to start their own podcast, but I hadn’t heard anything about that prior to today. If they left on their own, that’s probably a good thing. I have seen them talk a lot about how successful Rogan’s podcast is and maybe they want to try it themselves – I never thought they were a good fit for the Hill anyway, which is pretty mainstream for the most part.

      1. ambrit

        I just hope that they don’t end up like the Left Right pairings on the PBS News Hour.
        The “mainstream” aspect of The Hill was their real ‘strength.’ They reached a wider audience. Going off to substack has the implied threat of becoming the denizens of an echo chamber.
        One big advantage of the old “Three Legacy Networks” model was that it could ‘manufacture’ a form of social cohesion

        1. barefoot charley

          Their repeated mentions of the Hill’s owner add to other suggestions that they were canceled from the top. A chyron said frequent panelists Ryan Grim of the Intercept and, darn it, the blonde woman with a map of Wisconsin on her wall, both of them clean and articulate like Obama, will be on next week’s exciting new version. Someone must think they’ll be mainstreamier than what we’ve enjoyed from Krystal and Saagar.

          1. ambrit

            Whoever owns the Hill must have recently read Bernays’ “The Engineering of Consent.”
            Heaven forefend that they read Herman and Chomsky’s “Manufacturing Consent.”
            I’ve known for some time now that “we,” the generic “we,” have been well and truly buggered by our media overlords. I was not aware, however, that sand had been mixed in the KY jelly.

          2. Screwball

            Ryan Grim and Emily Jashinky will be the new hosts.

            Krystal said the owner of The Hill at times didn’t like what they covered, and sometimes he did.

            I think that might tell us all we need to know.

            1. .Tom

              I know they are on next week. That was in the goodbye video. But is there conformation that this is the long term plan.

              1. Screwball

                Good question – I don’t know about long term. As stated above, this could only be until they find replacements.

            2. Zagonostra

              Jimmy Dore has made mince meat out of Grim on multiple shows.

              If you read the comments on The Rising you can see how badly he is received by the audience. They don’t care what the audience thinks, it doesn’t seem to matter anymore. It was one of the few MSM sites I ever went to on a regular basis.

              They pushed Biden and Harris down my throat and I’m still gaging. If they continue to do the same in all areas of public life I’ll be forced to stop for fear of choking on my own vomit.

    5. flora

      Sad news. I think they’re a great new young addition to US journalism at it’s best. Noticed a change after Biden was sworn in. The past few weeks have been sort of “odd”. Couldn’t put my finger on what was missing, but something was. Their commentary, once vibrant and sparkling, sounded a bit forced to comply with outside influences, imo, as if reading scripts they didn’t really believe. Maybe the MSM only allows real populist type sentiments during when the Dems are out of power. When the Dem are in power, out goes any populist or “not official narrative” commentary on govt’s failures.

  21. lyman alpha blob

    RE: Microsoft president: Orwell’s 1984 could happen in 2024

    That reads like a lot of crocodile tears to me – the fear is not that China will have this horrendous technology, but that they will have it first.

    Eric Schmidt, former Google chief executive who is now chair of the US National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence, has warned that beating China in AI is imperative.

    “We’re in a geo-political strategic conflict with China,” he said. “The way to win is to marshal our resources together to have national and global strategies for the democracies to win in AI.

    But a lot of this anti-China talk from the US is merely bluster, as our officials continue to collude with the Chinese and obey Chinese dictates when there’s money on the line. Check this video at around the 3:00 mark or so – that’s where the Chinese official starts talking about how great it will be to have Biden in charge as he will be much easier for the Chinese to control, just like presidents prior to Trump were. Still up there on Eric Schmidt’s google-owned youtube, and you know if the Chinese government didn’t want it there, it wouldn’t be there.

    1. Lambert Strether

      > Eric Schmidt, former Google chief executive who is now chair of the US National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence

      That sounds like a very, very, very bad idea.

    1. Lambert Strether

      I couldn’t get to the Amazon Zen booth, sadly.

      What’s amazing is that the project was allowed to proceed; and having been completed, that Amazon thought it was a good idea to publicize it.

      Perhaps, as you suggest, they can discard their pee bottles in it. Or… something more solid?

  22. Jim Hannan

    Interesting to see that Ireland is the first EU country to speak out against the Israeli annexation program. Erin go Bragh.

  23. Watt4Bob

    Where have all the Uber drivers gone?

    Not to get all CT, but I’ve been hearing rumors going around that a large portion of Uber riders who’ve booked trips to Mars, have never arrived there, or ever been seen again.

    Musk and Bezos keep posting ads touting the wonderful life waiting off-planet, but suspicious relatives have been comparing notes, and are begining to think their communications, ostensibly with relatives on Mars are actually the product of AI systems?


        1. JacobiteInTraining

          Love that story!

          I acquired a dozen of so ‘The Best Of…” books as a kid, centered around a series of Science Fiction writers including him, and man….got my $$ worth from all of them. Cost .25 each, and I have every one of them to this day in my bookshelf. Packed them all around the PNW during all my multitudinous apartment moves over the years.

          Best quarter-per-book i ever spent! :)

    1. ambrit

      BBC did a supposedly April Fools program some time ago, I’m thinking the 1980s, perhaps on Panorama, about “The Third Option,” dealing with exactly this scenario.
      Strangely enough, this program seems to have fallen “down the memory hole.” Hmmm….
      The basic lesson to be learned here seems to be that these “Titans of Industry” don’t really ‘create’ anything new, just repackage other people’s ideas and claim them as their own.

  24. Anonymous 2


    I guess people are too bored/fed up to say anything really? I will bite briefly. Yes there is some damage to the UK economy. At a minimum it will be 4% of GDP (Andrew Bailey’s figure), probably more. The question will be who absorbs the losses – some of those people dependent until now on exports to the EU will obviously be among them.

    To my eye the main result of Brexit to date has been to establish a bunch of incompetent, corrupt liars in power in the UK and to allow them to entrench further the power of the Right. The UK will get changes to the electoral system to benefit the Right by various means, voter suppression, changes to electoral boundaries, restrictions on the right to protest. Pork barrel politics is being brought into marginal constituencies.The BBC is being intimidated into being a tame poodle of the Tory party. I guess they hope that if they join the forces of the Right they might be spared the worst but as Murdoch is the man who above all now calls the shots, I expect they will be disappointed and find that they are completely shafted. The Right in the UK are, as Schnyder intimates, utterly ruthless in pursuing their interests. They always kick any possible opponents when they are down. Much of the underlying mentality mirrors that of the modern-day Republicans, hardly surprising given Murdoch’s role.

    The EU continues, and will continue, to be used as a scapegoat to distract the electorate’s attention from problems (e.g. gross inequality) which are the results of domestic policy, nothing to do with the neighbours. But it has been working for 30 years now so why stop? Identity politics is being brought into the armoury to create further division among the possible supporters of the Left.

    The consequences for the Labour movement look disastrous as the Brexit issue has shattered the alliance between the two main elements of their support – the young educated, so-called ‘metropolitan elite’ (who in my experience are young graduates with large debts, paying high rents which absorb so much of their income that they have little chance of becoming property owners) and the ‘traditional working class’ voters enough of whom have been persuaded that right-wing nationalism is the best response to their problems. Neither group is large enough to give Labour a chance for electoral success on its own so Labour needs to try to bring them back together. Starmer’s challenge is how to do that. It is not easy given the strength of the Right and its allies.

    The UK may well disintegrate over the next five years. It is hard to be optimistic.

    1. a fax machine

      If it makes you feel any better, I suspect similar will eventually occur in America unless Democrats really pick it up. Although instead of America fragmenting apart, decades of ignoring the plight of non-college educated workers will yield a powerful coalition that does nothing but destroy the global order that America created in the previous century. Trump was just the start, and already it appears that Democrats have not learned any lessons.

      Consider the reversal on Nord Steam 2 – regardless of what we think of the reasons for the sanctions, the average person is upset that Biden would so quickly yield to Putin. The MSM’s lack of coverage attests to this, and Democrats are not providing clear answers. Republicans are, either with Q-anon or with hard nationalism.

  25. juno mas

    RE: Vax-a-Million

    California is attempting this also, with a $1.5 million prize. (10 of them, actually).

    Well, about 40% of your winnings will go back to the federal government and 10% will go back to state coffers.  That leaves you with about $750,000.  After “loans” to family members, that leaves enough for a new Tesla Model X.  

    This type of inducement has increased vaccination rates in Ohio by 50% and Maryland by 35%.  I win this lottery even if I lose; since the more people vaccinated the more safe I am from Covid. What’s not to like!

  26. Michael

    it took 15 years to find the origin of SARS and longer than that for HIV. C’mon, man.

    It took approximately a year to find the intermediate vector (civets) for SARS.

    A better choice for illustrating the difficulty in determining the animal resevoir and the vector for this novel coronavirus – at least up to the present – would be ebola.

    Although, I am struggling to remember the 1970s government of Zaire literally powerwashing the central African rainforest, so this comparison has certain limitations…

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Making Shit Up is a violation of our Site Policies. You could not know civets were an intermediate host without being sure of the chain of evolution, and that was indeed not concluded until 15 years later.

      It took me all of one minute to find this, in a paper listed at NIH “Ten Years After SARS: Where Was the Virus From? It shows that even 10 years after SARS, there was no consensus as to its origin. The role of civets was a subject of controversy as of then:

      “One decade has passed by,” says Dr. Jianfeng He [chief expert of the Guangdong provincial CDC and the director of Guangdong institute for infectious disease control and prevention] with emotion, “We have better disease control system, we have better communication platforms, and the general public’s knowledge and awareness of the prevention and control of infectious disease have dramatically improved. However, the source of SARS virus remains a myth.” A recent report denied the role of civets in transmitting SARS virus and argued that bat is the real culprit. According to Dr. He, however, this is not a new story: early in 2005, some scientists had made the same conclusion. However, up to now there has been no final conclusion.

      In my opinion, tracking the source of SARS virus must be based on objective evidences rather than assumptions. Many people believe that the virus might come from wild animal market, and its hosts might include civets, cats, snakes, wild boars, muntjac, rabbits, pheasants, and bats. However, no specific source has been identified. Today we still do not know where the SARS virus came from and how it disappeared….

      Nanfang Daily: Recently, in a report titled “Masked palm civet has been wronged for a decade, bat was the real culprit of SARS virus”, CCTV cited the argument made by Prof Kwok-Yung Yuen, a renowned professor of communicable diseases from HKU Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, that the natural host of SARS virus was Rhinolophus sinicus, or Chinese Rufous Horseshoe Bat. What do you think? Where was the SARS virus actually from?

      Dr. He: This is not a new finding. In September 2005, Prof Kwok-Yung Yuen and his research team declared that wild bats were SARS virus’ natural host, and their findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on 27 September. Meanwhile, Prof. Zheng-Li Shi from Wuhan Institute of Virology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Prof. Shu-Yi Zhang from the Institute of Zoology, and some researchers from Australia also tracked the source of SARS virus to bats, and their findings were published in Science in September 2005. However, these findings remain controversial. The SARS virus carried by bats is quite different from that found in human body, whereas the virus carried by civets has much higher homology. There is a possibility that the virus spread from bats to civets, in which it experienced some mutations before it was transmitted to human beings. However, there lacked sufficient evidences.

      In my opinion, tracking the source of SARS virus must be based on objective evidences rather than assumptions. Many people believe that the virus might come from wild animal market, and its hosts might include civets, cats, snakes, wild boars, muntjac, rabbits, pheasants, and bats. However, no specific source has been identified. Today we still do not know where the SARS virus came from and how it disappeared.

    2. Fern

      My scientist friends have confirmed that they still don’t know the intermediate host for SARS, or whether it even needed an intermediate host at all. It’s possible that it came directly from bats.

      FWIW, these scientists I spoke with lean in opposite directions on the lab escape vs natural origin theories. They all agree, however, that it’s very important to study both possibilities.

    1. Lambert Strether

      Ah, the Watchmaker Hypothesis once more (“a design must have a designer”). It’s a hardy perennial; much the same was said during the AIDs crisis, IIRC.

  27. Ping

    Very telling video clip of interview between Peter Dazag of Eco Health and virologist host in “This Week in Virology” or TWIV in Dec 2019 where Dazag casually discusses the manipulation of virus in labs “fairly easy to do” explaining manipulation of spike protein then inserted into a virus scaffold or viral backbone and run thru cell lines and humanized mice, it is the definition of dangerous “gain of function” or engineering virus with increased transmissibility.

    Dazag’s Eco Health was the intermediary between Fauci’s NIH funding the Wuhan Virology lab and Danzig was also lead in the Wuhan investigation—glaring conflict of interest. It is well documented…there is no question. Fauci is not being honest about NIH involvement and the Wuhan research.

    The incentive to quash the lab escape possibility is obvious: bio-labs do not want public scrutiny. There are reportedly something like 200 bio-labs worldwide the US participates in and lab leaks are not uncommon.

    I can post video clip.

    1. rowlf

      About a decade ago when I moved back to the US south east and some corporate practices I observed reminded me of why The Rebellion Of The Slave Owners failed due to their being sloppy/disorganized and always totally mucking up their production and logistics for short term business gain, I used to joke that the CDC was in Atlanta and probably workers said “Dammit, I brought home the wrong Thermos again” on a frequent basis.

  28. The Rev Kev

    “US tells Russia it won’t rejoin Open Skies arms control pact”

    Should have guessed that this was coming. A coupla weeks ago I saw an article saying that the Russians were looking to get rid of the specialized aircraft that they used as part of the Open Skies Treaty or maybe re-purpose them. They would have not indicated so if they thought that Biden might re-up with that treaty after Trump exited it. There are 34 countries that are part of this treaty but now that the US and the Russian Federation are no longer a part of this treaty, it may lose a lot of the impetus that it had previously-

    1. ambrit

      Want to bet that Starlink has stealth observation capabilities? “Open Skies” may have become obsolescent.

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