Links 5/3/2021

Happy Bank Holiday!

The UK island waiting to be discovered BBC. One of the world’s great short journeys is: ferry from Oban on the Scottish mainland to Mull, then across via road – I took a coach – before a final short hop to Iona, thus retracing the route of the ancient burial processions for Scottish kings.

Artist’s Massive Macrame Fiber Artworks Echo Local Landscapes TreeHugger. A blast from my past: when I was a teenager during the ‘70s, I made many things using macrame techniques: belts, handbags.

The tactics the police are using to prevent bystander video MIT Technology Review.

Rome Colosseum: Italy unveils plan for new floor with gladiator’s view BBC

An ambitious plan to tackle ransomware faces long odds Ars Technica

The Air Force’s brand-new F-15EX fighter jet is about to have its first major exercise Business Insider

Tall Man Out Popula

The cannabis industry’s next war: How strong should its weed be? Political

Green gold: Avocado farming on the rise in Africa Deutsche Welle

#COVID-19

Food pantries are increasingly providing an Instacart-style shopping experience The Counter

***

EXCLUSIVE Scientists say India government ignored warnings amid coronavirus surge Reuters

India’s Covid-19 catastrophe reflects years of neglecting its health system Stat

The Big Question: Can India Find a Way Out of Its Covid Nightmare? Bloomberg

What India needs to get through its covid crisis MIT Technology Review

One way to pay for vaccinations for all in 18-45 group – a 1.6% tax on net worth of richest Indians Scroll

Covid: It will get worse before it gets better Hindustan Times

Donations, volunteer efforts: Diaspora comes forward to help India tackle the Covid second wave Scroll

Citizens Are Plugging India’s Gaping, Governance Gaps In Covid Care Article 14

The ruthless politics of the Centre’s vaccine strategy The Indian Express

Two weeks into the second wave in Delhi, patients continue to scramble for beds. Why? Scroll

COVID in India: 35 Questions for K. VijayRaghavan, V.K. Paul and Balram Bhargava The Wire Karan Thapar

***

Australia’s India ban criticised as ‘racist’ rights breach BBC

Holidays abroad should be discouraged to stop Covid third wave, say MPs Guardian

Coronavirus: flights from Britain to Hong Kong set to resume this week for first time since Christmas cut-off SCMP

***

Next Generation of Covid-19 Vaccines Could Be Pill or Spray WSJ

Hong Kong plan to force Covid vaccines on foreign domestic workers sparks alarm Guardian

China’s global plan to vaccinate its citizens faces production problems SCMP

Many police officers spurn coronavirus vaccines as departments hold off on mandates WaPo

Russian Attempts to Expand Sputnik Vaccine Set Off Discord in Europe NYT


Sports Desk

Violent scenes as fans invade Manchester United stadium in protest at US owners BBC The match was cancelled, the first time ever in the Premiership.

Class Warfare

Rich People Are Fueling Climate Catastrophe — But Not Mostly Because of Their Consumption Jacobin

The Child Care Industry Was Collapsing. Mrs. Jackie Bet Everything on an Impossible Dream to Save It. Pro Publica

Billionaire Is Buying Up Small Colorado Town—and Locals Are Freaked Daily Beast

Today’s must watch:

2020

WHAT HAPPENED IN THE 2020 ELECTION? AN INTERACTIVE EXPLORATION OF THE OUTCOMES New Geography. James Galbraith et al.

From McConaughey to Jenner, ‘Trump effect’ propels Hollywood’s political hopefuls The Hill

An Anti-Establishment Candidate In Alaska? American Conservative

Biden Administration

Manchin Comes Out Against Yet Another Proposal From the Democrats: DC Statehood TruthOut

Hillary Clinton grades Biden after 100 days in office CNN

Biden stocks his White House with Ivy Leaguers Politico

Xinjiang shakedown: US anti-China lobby cashed in on ‘forced labor’ campaign that cost Uyghur workers their jobs Grayzone

Trump Transition

Giuliani’s Legal Trouble Is Trump’s Too Politico

Our Famously Free Press

Unraveling the Protest Paradigm Columbia Journalism Review

Imperial Collapse Watch

Syraqistan

Hillary Clinton warns Biden he should expect ‘huge consequences’ from his decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan as Taliban steps up attacks as US hands over base Daily Mail

Waste Watch

State legislatures busy with plastics policy on shampoo bottles, chemical recycling and preemption Waste Dive

As mining waste leaches into B.C. waters, experts worry new rules will be too little, too late The Narwhal

India

How West Bengal Halted the BJP’s Chariot The Wire

Cash transfers, votes from women and Muslims: 7 reasons why Mamata Banerjee crushed BJP in Bengal Scroll. And as I posted yesterday, the higher relative percentage of Muslim voters in WB and Kerala is one reason the BJP has never commanded a majority in either WB or Kerala.

Lessons for the BJP: One Nation, One Culture Will Not Work in an India Proud of its Diversity The Wire

Antidote du Jour. ChetG writes:

Hello everyone,

I regret that the attached photos aren’t feline-related, but they represent the closest I’ve been to an osprey. Credit to the osprey! It flew directly toward me and so allowed a long sequence of photos, of which these three are my favorites.

There’s a large pond between the Toftrees golf course and game land, and for a week or so in spring, one or more osprey come along to rest and dine before moving on. It is one of my favorite times of year.

Cheers,
–ChetG

And a bonus video:


See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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172 comments

  1. Isotope_C14

    Gotta love Thomas Frank, and the fact that Maher tries to push back on it. I have no idea who watches his show now, but the fact that it is on pay-television tells you something.

    This is what twitter is really for. Hearing Maher’s bad takes without paying for HBO.

    Perhaps Bill should live in Germany for a year and then travel through Americas poorest zip codes for six months, but I suspect he wouldn’t change his tune, singing that highly profitable song.

    1. WhoaMolly

      Maher’s smug condescension makes me want to throw my computer at the wall.

      Frank is correct. Again.

      Not even Frank can crack that smugness.

      I bought Frank’s book just to support his work. It’s added another couple inches to my “must read” stack.

      It is Right next to Greenwald’s book on Brazil politics, which is really a first class book about doing investigative journalism in the Information Age.

      1. Kouros

        I am not sure if Frank is correct in saying that Biden sees it and correcting the direction. I think there are bigger fish at play here. If one is watching there is tremendous effort put in Russia & China for alleviating poverty and thus creating a more cohesive society that then is able to withstand external attacks. everyone has something at stake worth defending…

        There are a lot of Americans that do not feel that way, and as such, the state would be hard press to mobilize the society, especially if it were to in fact attack another polity, never mind defend the US…

        The US elites do want to gobble up and incorporate the Russian and Chinese assets…

        1. Pelham

          I think Frank began to say that he only “hoped” Biden had gotten the message but then after being interrupted it sounded as if he was going further than that.

          It would have been nice for Maher to press him on the point since Biden’s various spending plans fall way short of what’s actually needed. For instance, other estimates I’ve seen tell us that at least $14 trillion is needed just to address climate change — let alone failing infrastructure (an additional $4 trillion) and whatever’s needed to get the working-class economy back on track. And then there’s also inadequate funding for basic R&D.

          From my perspective, I think Biden sort of gets the problem but is pushing for minor, short-run bandage solutions that won’t last long and will do very little to address any of the structural failures. His calculation must be that he can do enough to burnish his presidency in the eyes of a compliant media (and probably the public at large) without doing anything that would fundamentally upset his real constituency.

  2. John Siman

    In the clip above Thomas Frank does his earnest and learned best to explain the catastrophic, disastrous, world-historical savagery of Clintonism to celebrity multi-millionaire Bill Maher. I’m not sure that Maher, who, after all, being a hardcore pothead, is able to grasp the bitter truth of Frank’s lesson, yet Frank goes on to say, “Biden understands the folly of all this.” What the fuck, Tom! Did Bill get you high before the show? You just wrote the book on anti-populism. Did the 78-year-old neoliberal Biden just this week get magically transformed into a reincarnation of FDR?

    1. Robert Hahl

      I’m a Frank fan but this looks and sounds like wishful thinking about Biden, and blaming Clinton seems an oversimplification. William Greider’s book Who Will Tell the People, published in 1993 and written mostly before Clinton took office, anticipates everything in Frank’s Listen Liberal and more by 23 years. For instance, the Democrats naively paid lobbyists who usually worked for Republican clients, and who openly sold them out.

      1. hamstak

        …the Democrats naively paid lobbyists who usually worked for Republican clients…

        Naively, or willingly?

      2. Edward

        Nobody talks about it much now, but Jerry Brown came close to defeating Clinton in the 1992 primary. He started out in the lead, but Clinton raised a pile of money, including from this group.

    2. km

      Frank ignores history.

      Halfwit Joe Biden was one of the main congressional drivers of Clintonism, not to mention the War on Iraq and other crimes.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Compared to the vaccuousness of Obama and Clinton, Biden’s awareness of problems and potential solutions is fairly jarring. Biden is stupid clearly, but he isn’t preaching the Obama political prosperity gospel, whatever the hell someone like Hillary drones on about, or Bill’s bs about feelings. It’s partially why his polling went to Ford levels. He’s setting himself up for failure as Biden would take actually produce, maybe he’ll get a win of sorts during the next reconciliation opportunity. Otherwise he’s done. Asking nicely won’t get anything done.

    3. NotTimothyGeithner

      Biden might understand, but it’s a far cry from implementation. Biden was nothing more than a front man for right wing policies for decades, and unless he is committed to punishing senators and ending the filibuster, he’s engaged in rhetorical masturbation. To be fair, Biden is more substantive than Obama or Clinton, so that is throwing people off. Right now, Biden is largely the beneficiary of Operation Warp Speed, but otherwise, he’s more or less given up on any kind of legislative agenda if not actively sending the Delaware Senators to provide cover for that death.

      Biden is officially pro gun control, and despite continued gun violence, he hasn’t demanded anything.

      1. futurebroketeacher

        Thomas Frank is so full of it. “Biden understands.” Yeah, okay Frank, like he understood to reduce the $2000 stimulus to $1400 during the worst large scale public health crisis since the 1920’s. Biden understands so much he let a ceremonial senate parliamentarian block the $15 minimum wage. He understands so much he proposes a smaller infrastructure bill than Manchin.

        A lot of “leftists” are getting brainworms lately; Cornel West and now Thomas Frank.

        1. flora

          Um… there’s this thing called “pushing by public expectation”, which is what I think Frank, Stoller, and West are doing now. Good on them. We’ll know soon enough if their opinions are right and if their attempts to influence policy by speaking to traditional New Deal dems’ expectation works. My 2 cents.

          1. chuck roast

            Let’s hope that you are right Flora, but enough already with the hyper-ventilating.

          2. Procopius

            I’m not sure. Despite the references to FDR, Biden is a man of the Democratic Leadership Council, and they were unanimous in their belief that the New Deal had to be destroyed. Biden has done some excellent things so far (but he still owes me $600), and made some excellent appointments on the domestic side, but he’s appointed a lot of Obama’s neocons on the foreign policy side (hi, Victoria) and Blinken’s announcements of Iran policy make me believe he’s adamantly opposed to rejoining the deal. Demanding the Iranians return to full compliance first is a deal breaker. I wish somebody would ask him what that’s about.

    4. Anthony K Wikrent

      It’s not that Biden has become an incarnation of FDR. Biden is a practical politician, finely attuned to detecting which way the political winds are blowing. And right now neoliberal policies have been such disastrous failures for all but the one percent that there is a firestorm of winds raging against neoliberalism. Remember, Trump crushed the Republican establishment and won enough votes to win in 2016 precisely because he very visibly denounced major noliberal policies of free trade and off shoring. So, a simple explanation is simply that Biden is allowing himself to be push along by the anti-neoliberal storm winds. As Anand Giridharadas discussed with David Sirota at the beginning of April:

      “Having a debate about new bills, not being consumed by deficit anxiety… is a profound cultural turning point [that] augers en entirely different era…. We have to be mindful of how cultures change [and] hat it looks like when what you’ve been fighting for begins to bloom….”

      Biden may not be challenging the corporatist neoliberal status quo because he has suddenly come to dislike it, but I will take what he’s offering so far. It’s far from perfect — for example, there’s nothing really good about Biden’s plans for health care since Biden defers entirely to the health insurance industry — but The fact remains that Biden at this time is doing far more than I, and Frank, or many others such as Sirota, Dayen, and others, ever expected. We must understand what’s going on, and see if there are factors we can use to our advantage.

      Also driving Biden is his witnessing, up close, of the political failures of Obama — particularly the failure to understand the hatred and hostility underlying the intransigent opposition of the conservatives / libertarians / Republicans and the selfishly base motivations for their culture wars. Insider reports are that Biden is therefore striving to be bolder and bigger-thinking than Obama was, and severely discounting Republican opposition.

      This motivation to be better than Obama (or anyone else) is not among those considered by marxists, socialists, conservatives, and libertarians, so it is entirely outside the understanding of most people minding politics today. Most people minding politics are deeply cynical today. But isuch motivations were fully understood by the founders, who carefully studied historic examples of self-government, and identified civic republicanism as the form of government best suited to the new nation they wanted to create. John Adams wrote, “A desire to be observed, considered, esteemed, praised, beloved, and admired by his fellows is one of the earliest as well as the keenest dispositions discovered in the heart of man.” In The Federalist Papers No, 72, Alexander Hamilton wrote about “the inducements to good behavior,” observing that “the desire of reward is one of the strongest incentives of human conduct.”

      Even the love of fame, the ruling passion of the noblest minds, which would prompt a man to plan and undertake extensive and arduous enterprises for the public benefit, requiring considerable time to mature and perfect them, if he could flatter himself with the prospect of being allowed to finish what he had begun….

      Note that under capitalism, these more noble motivations of human conduct receive no consideration or reward whatsover. There’s only the profit motive. “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” As I have written before, and shall continue to write, one of the great tragedies of American history is that we have allowed liberal capitalism to supplant civic republicanism as the primary driver of governance.

      Progressives today were prepared to force Biden to respond like FDR advised a group of progressives: “now make me do it.” I sense that Biden’s determination to be better than Obama has confounded them. I think we should take it for what it is, retarget our efforts, and begin to concentrate fire on the recalcitrants in the Democratic Party such as Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema. Clearly, we have to “make them do it.” As David Dayen writes his review of Biden’s American Families Plan​​​​​​​:

      “I’ve never in my political lifetime been more optimistic about the stated priorities of the upper echelons of the government, and I’ve never been more pessimistic about the prospects of actually getting them into law.”

      1. Kurtismayfield

        One thing I can say about electing Biden: He isn’t waiting for the corporate post bribe. He doesn’t need 400k speaking engagements after.

        1. tegnost

          he has seven grandkids, and the well off expect and need to provide lavishly for the grandkids. They know the world they’re making. The book deal seems to be the best route to inter generational wealth, the speeches just keep the kids out of student loan hell…

      2. Rod

        thanks for your thoughts, as they found resonance with me on Biden and his efforts and his criticizers.
        my lament also:

        As I have written before, and shall continue to write, one of the great tragedies of American history is that we have allowed liberal capitalism to supplant civic republicanism as the primary driver of governance.

      3. Mark Gisleson

        “Biden is a practical politician, finely attuned to detecting which way the political winds are blowing.”

        Biden was always under my radar until the early 1990s when I got a lot of pushback whenever I’d say something nice about him. Then I paid more attention and realized that there was a there there, but not the there I thought I was seeing. Long before “woke,” Biden was a master at tapping into other people’s issues while consistently voting for more status quo.

        His crime bill made obvious his real agenda but in the years that followed he slipped right back into sounding OK in news clips.

        He sounds OK right now, but I’m waiting to see if any of his OK stuff actually passes both houses of Congress and if any do, whether he instructs his executive branch to actually enforce his new laws.

      4. Jason

        one of the great tragedies of American history is that we have allowed liberal capitalism to supplant civic republicanism as the primary driver of governance.

        Perhaps “civic republicanism” isn’t the high ideal it’s made out to be. Perhaps it lends itself rather easily to being supplanted by other forms of “governance.”

      5. deusex

        Biden is “tacking” the anti-neoliberal winds. Where is your evidence of that? He lied about the $2000 and added means-testing to it; a neoliberal move. He lied about actually permanently withdrawing from Iraq since he’s leaving special forces as well as over 17k private contractors there; pure neoliberalism. He continues to support Saudi Barbaria in their genocide against Yemen; smells like neoliberalism. He refuses to release the patent for the vaccine; again more neoliberalism.

        So Biden is “tacking” the anti-neoliberal winds, how?

        1. jsn

          Tacking against the neoliberal wind doesn’t capture it.

          He’s an opportunist being blown by stronger winds.

          Keep them blowing and that’s where he’ll go. He has no core beliefs.

          1. fumo

            Opportunist is getting warm. Biden doesn’t seem to have much in the way of a guiding ideology. This does not portend well for him fighting adversity to achieve his mildly progressive stated aims, but it also means judging him by his regressive past political stances is also likely to lead one down the wrong path predictively. I don’t think he is emotionally tied to his past political stances in the way an ideologue would be, and thus his past might only be weakly predictive of where he might go.

            Immediately after his address to Congress I was surprised to see that the one person I saw talking to him most was Bernie Sanders who seems to have Biden’s ear right now. Did anyone else notice that? As long as that continues Biden may be better than I and a lot of people glumly hoped. Or it could go in a different direction if he listens to the wrong people. I would suggest that 2021 Biden is in a suggestable state and predicting which way he’ll go will be more difficult than it would for a more ideologically anchored President.

            1. JTMcPhee

              …and it will be said of the Biden administration, “Hey, man, give him a break! He could have been a lot worse!”

            2. jsn

              There are a lot of very popular ideas that would also be good for the country.

              M4A, anti trust, progressive tax, infrastructure, affordable quality education.

              If Biden chooses to not stay bought, he could be very popular.

      6. lyman alpha blob

        That’s an extremely generous interpretation of a doddering old fool who has gladly spent his entire life in the service of capital.

        See through the PR and take him at his word – the word he gave to insiders. Nothing will fundamentally change.

      7. John k

        I think it’s a combination of things. I’ve thought for a few years the neoliberal tide was receding, just too obviously a disaster. Sanders in 2016, and trump winning, are examples.
        Now the 50-50 senate power, but also sanders. The dems need the few progressives, who are anyway gaining numbers, especially in the house.
        So Biden is successfully pushed a little bit left… not enough for m4a, but in some areas… infra, environment, maybe less war.

    5. Chris Hargens

      Thomas Frank said “Biden seems to… has grasped the folly in all this.” My italics.

    6. lyman alpha blob

      That was reminiscent of awarding Obama the Nobel Peace prize in the hope that he might turn out to be peaceful. People need to stop it with the projections. Biden isn’t going to have a road to Damascus moment because he watched Frank on Maher’s show.

      I really like Frank and he is a lot like Sanders, both the good and the bad. He is absolutely correct in his assessments, but can’t take that one last step and call out the Democrat party for what it is – the Republican party of Ronald Reagan.

      1. FluffytheObeseCat

        And what value is there in doing that? Frank and Sanders have platforms that are much larger than the comments section of any blog. Screeching about how the old man can’t possibly do anything right is a twisted pleasure reserved for those who aren’t going to be on anyone’s radar when they speak.

        So far I have been pleasantly (and very mildly) surprised by Biden’s proposals. Some small portions of them will likely make it into legislation. That alone puts us ahead of where we were under either Clinton or Obama (much less Bush or Trump). I don’t expect a sparkling unicorn pony from Biden. But I’m mildly pleased that he appears, at least, to be offering us an old Jack Russell terrier from the humane society of Democrat thought c. 1970. It was more than I had hoped for given his priors.

        1. Aumua

          I also think that so far the Biden administration (I don’t really know about Biden himself) is doing marginally better than I expected, speaking of domestic policy only. But I’m always just waiting for the other shoe to drop. I have no faith whatsoever that this is born of any real concern for the American people, or that they will actually follow through on any of it. I think it’s quite possible that these ruling class elites may finally be seeing the writing on the wall about societal pressures and how the script could flip on them pretty quick. As much as I completely disagree with the political angle of those Capitol riots, they may have had some positive effect re: the politicians got to glimpse the goddamned guillotines outside their gates for a minute. Hello, time to wake up a little bit! Time to maybe at least make a gesture or two of genuine caring.

    7. Dr. John Carpenter

      I’ve noticed that in spite of writing books like Listen, Liberal and The People, No, Frank has a hard time accepting what his own books are saying. I’ve seen a number of interviews with him where he seems to have faith in the Democrats eventually doing the right things that his research doesn’t support. Perhaps he does see himself as a force to shame them leftward in spite of all the evidence he has written proving it can’t be done.

      1. rowlf

        I don’t think Frank has any choice when he is doing missionary type work with tribal people who they they are the smartest and best. If he talks down to the audience they will stuff him in a big pot, shrink his head and put a bone through his nose. He has to be respectful of the tribe’s current icons.

        I think the best he can hope for is that people find him interesting and read his books.

      2. Bruno

        I wonder why more of us don’t see that the Dems are *always* less worse than the Reps–because that’s how the ratchet-effect-regime works. Carter undoes a bit of the Nixon/Ford reaction. Clinton undoes a bit of the Reagan/Bush reaction. Obama undoes a bit of the GWBush reaction. Now Biden is undoing a bit of the Trump reaction. And every time the so-called “Left” starts hoping their leader will be a “new FDR,” even though everyone not braindead knows there’ll be more than ever to undo once the Reps are done with their next term.

    8. Lee

      “Biden understands the folly of all this.” What the fuck, Tom!

      I think what Biden understands is that he won the election by 45,000 votes spread over three states and that unless he wins over a lot of hearts and minds tout suite, all manner of grotesque social and political manifestation are on the horizon. Perhaps he is like the man whose mind has become focused by the prospect of being hanged the next day. And if due to cognitive impairment, it is not Biden’s mind that is focused, then it would be interesting to know who’s pulling the puppet strings.

    9. skippy

      It should be noted that Rubinomics was Bills play book … best bit was the part about wages and productivity diverging and Rubin did not blink on NAFTA et al.

      But cheaper prices for the newly disfranchised labour pool [not to be confused with a market thingy].

  3. The Rev Kev

    “The Air Force’s brand-new F-15EX fighter jet is about to have its first major exercise”

    Hardly a new fighter. It is just one more variant based on the original McDonnell Douglas F-15E Strike Eagle design from the 1980s – but with more bells and whistles. I have read that as F-22s numbers remain few and the F-35 is, well, we know that story – that they are opting for this fighter to make up the numbers of fighters that the US Air Force needs to fulfill their missions. In other words it is a stopgap solution that will be used until they find a permanent replacement for the F-35s that they were going to be using. Thanks Lockheed Martin. /sarc

    And man, that Osprey looks as menacing as Sydney Greenstreet in a fowl mood.

    1. fresno dan

      The Rev Kev
      May 3, 2021 at 7:29 am
      And man, that Osprey looks as menacing as Sydney Greenstreet in a fowl mood.
      if only they had used an osprey instead of a falcon…

    2. km

      To be fair, the F-15 and its variants may be old tech, but they work and are reliable and cost-effective.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Exactly. Which is precisely why the big aircraft manufacturers want to replace them with new tech, barely functional and exorbitantly priced crap.

        1. Polar Socialist

          The books are likely very cooked, but we are led to believe that the current fly-away price of F-35A is around $80 million. Of course, if you want it to perform missions and all that fighter plane stuff, you probably need to cough up another $20-40 million.

          These brand new F-15EX fighter seem to come with a whopping $150 million price tag. They do have improved air frame and completely new avionics, but we can still assume most of the development cost occurred in the 1960-70’s, so that’s like free money for McDonnell Boeing!

      2. JTMcPhee

        Cost-effective? In comparison to what? There’s a fleet of them that eat huge amounts of maintenance and money, to do what? What is the effing mission that all of these totems with constituencies are supposed to be doing or preparing to do? More land wars in Asia or East Europe or the Mideast? War with China over “freedom of the seas” which the carriers and their weapons and the surface and sub fleet are designed apparently to deny to any “adversary” of the moment? A comment recently pointed out one of m pet peeves — what is an “enemy of America,” and who decides, and for what reasons? The Empire spends more on the huge MIC establishment than the next what, 5 or 6 nations combined, and sells weapons to, and trades in technology with, “potential adversaries” seven days a week. The idiocy is so apparent it has to burn, but rice bowls of titanium get filled by it, so on and on it goes…

    3. Bill Smith

      The F-15EX has substantial airframe upgrades from the original F-15. in addition the sensors, computers, flight controls and and software that runs the thing are 40 years newer.

      1. JTMcPhee

        And some over-the-horizon ground or air-launched missiles can turn all that upgraded stuff into a flaming shower of junk. But of course the forever war must go on.

        The Pentagram is putting a lot of our collective wealth into drones of all sizes, cyber weapons, and missile tech. Not as cost-effectively as the Enemies of the Week, but the younger planners in the Battlespace see where things are headed. Sorry there will not be too many more generations of Top Guns, during it out to see who is the best at sticking a missile up the a$$ of the “aggressor…”

    4. Procopius

      Rev Kev

      … the numbers of fighters that the US Air Force needs to fulfill their missions.

      That’s not the way the military works. They need to keep a certain number of aircraft to justify a certain number of general officers, field grade officers, and even company grade officers. I refer you to Parkinson’s Law. That’s why I was so surprised that they proposed junking all the A-10 Warthogs, aside from it being exactly the kind of plane we need for the missions we have now.

  4. chris

    Can someone please explain why Comdoleeza Rice and Hillary Clinton are still being asked for their opinions about anything related to foreign policy? The English language lacks the words to describe what monumental failures both have been in that area. Clinton especially. To see them on the Sunday shows or hear their names printed in the Daily Mail is really too much. As for Ms. Rice’s statement that we’ll probably have to go back to Afghanistan…you first. My friends and family have given enough.

    1. Geo

      Agreed. I’m pretty sure in my former job as a dish washer if I’d smashed all the plates, lied and tried to convince the restaurant manager that I had smashed them to make his business better, I’d have been scolded and fired immediately. That these monsters are still lionized by our media after their abhorrent actions and the millions of lives they’ve ended while smashing entire nations into pieces is beyond what mere words can express. I don’t know who I despise more, them, or those who look up to them. We’re a profoundly sick society if these are the voices we’re to have guide us.

      But, as Madeline Albright once said, “the price is worth it.” What’s a few millions lives ended or thrown into catastrophic peril when these cretins have books to sell, speeches to make, and a fraudulent system to perpetuate. And, the media has the important job of keeping the narrative spinning so enough people still believe in the bs to keep the gears grinding away.

      1. adrena

        Which lives, did Madeline Albright believe, were worth ending? Not Israelis I suppose.

        1. CanCyn

          Not many folks who read NC are unaware of this monstrous sentiment but for your enlightenment:
          ”In 1996 then-UN Ambassador Madeleine Albright was asked by 60 Minutes correspondent Lesley Stahl, in reference to years of U.S.-led economic sanctions against Iraq, “We have heard that half a million children have died. I mean, that is more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?”

          To which Ambassador Albright responded, “I think that is a very hard choice, but the price, we think, the price is worth it.”

          1. Dave in Austin

            The half-million children number was totally phony. When the shill (I can’t remember his name) who invented the story came to the U. of Texas a friend got me concerned enough about all those deaths that I looked into the story.

            The shill took every child under 5 who died in Iraq during the time period, added them up and came up with half a million. Any fool who looked at the U.N. numbers for the preceeding years would have noticed that Iraq with the Iran war on and a very high birth rate had had a high infant mortality rate forr two decades; the rate didn’t go up it just came down more slowly than might have been expected. When I asked him about the discrepancy after his speech to 1,000+ people at the LBJ School auditorium he said “Why that’s interesting; let me look into it” and asked for my business card. I never heard from him.

            The 500,000 number was such an obvious lie that at the time I wondered why no reporter had asked for is sources. Now I just assume he got a pass because the press, and the White House wanted a war and the number supported the rush to intervention. I’d love to know who funded him and what he does today. Any of the NCers have his name and subsequent history?

            1. steelyman

              The sanctions were not in effect during the Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988). Those were imposed after the defeat of Iraq in Gulf War 1 along with the No Fly zone. In fact, the opposite was true – Iraq was receiving much military and diplomatic support from the West. I believe there’s a rather infamous photo of Donald Rumsfeld visiting Iraq during the war in either 1983 or 84 and shaking hands with Saddam.

              There’s clearly some dispute as to the definitive infant and overall mortality figures that can be blamed on the post Gulf War 1 sanctions regime which would cover the period 1990 to 2003 (start of GW 2). It’s just that this wasn’t part of the question presented to Ms. Albright. She simply was asked if the deaths of 500,000 children was worth it and she answered yes, without hesitation I might add. That’s the key takeaway re the callous and bloodthirsty character of the US foreign policy establishment.

      2. jsn

        Ahh… but she never worked for the manager, she was there for the owners who were mobsters looking to destroy the place for the insurance money.

        She still wants the opportunity to set a fire.

      3. JTMcPhee

        You think Rice and Clinton and effing Kissinger are bad? Here’s an update on the revolving door that has failed generals getting paid millions on top of their generous pensions, sh!ts like Petraeus and McChrystal and lots more: “ Nick Turse, Revolving Doors, Robust Rolodexes, and Runaway Generals ,” https://tomdispatch.com/leaker-speaker-soldier-spy/

    2. LawnDart

      Failures? Clinton and Rice have been amazingly successful… at enriching the MIC, and at evading accountability for war crimes (specifically, Crimes Against Peace).

      Obama was maybe the last chance for US to change direction, but instead legitimized and expanded upon the looting and open criminality of the previous administration.

      Until we realize who our enemies are, and truly begin to acknowledge their lies and resist their aggressions, the Neocon and MIC maggots will continue to fatten.

      150-million Americans still support the duopoly as of 2020…

      1. apotropaic

        Voting is support for the duopoly? I suppose it is.

        There are about half of them who seem to be ok with insurrection to make it a one party system, maybe that’s progesss.

      2. Oh

        And now we have Obama’s sidekick. Why anybody would believe this liar and pin hopes on his administration, I haven’t a clue.

      3. Alfred

        Obama was part of the Clinton “direction” and there was no hope in me he was independent. All this Hope stuff. It reminded me of “I feel your pain.”

      4. chuck roast

        Indeed there is special lexicon for these types: failure is success, black is white, stupidity is genius, opacity is transparency, guesswork is certainty, oligarchy is democracy, and who can forget…war is peace. Keep in mind, however, that poverty will never be wealth.

    3. The Rev Kev

      And so now you have an idea of what a Hillary Clinton Presidency would look like. She would not be getting out of Afghanistan but probably doubling down. Likely too that she would be bombing Syria to help the Jihadists to win and any domestic policy that she had would have come straight from Wall Street. And I bet too that Ghislaine Maxwell would never have been arrested but privately given the word to flee the country.

      1. LawnDart

        Rev., I’m not sure about bombing Syria– that’s for Israel under the cloak of darkness (and behind the cover of commercial aircraft). Maybe another strong push for “no-fly zones” and more SAMs for the rebels? We’d also probably be seeing a lot more “military advisors” and equipment heading to Ukraine, and at least double the number of NATO troops positioning themselves along the Russian border.

        Hell, still could happen, especially since “Cookies” Nuland got a recent promotion (I didn’t know until recently that she, Dick Cheney’s former advisor, had switched parties, but I guess that is just a formality for the job: paint a neocon blue or red, it’s still a neocon).

        1. Procopius

          LawnDart: Did she work for Cheney? I know she was Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs under Hillary, and she’s Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs under Blinken. I have no idea what the impressive title means, but I hope the job is a sinecure meant to keep her occupied and out of mischief. I don’t recall ever seeing remarks that Hillary had to approve Nuland’s coup in Ukraine, but she did. She’s also one of the signers of the Program for a New American Century, so a founding neoconservative, possibly a Trotskyite.

  5. Miami Mitch

    “Violent scenes as fans invade Manchester United stadium in protest at US owners”

    All that for a Football team? Wait till these blokes figure out what they are doing to the climate….

    1. John A

      Do you mean the Glazers and fishing for sand eels destroying ocean ecology? Otherwise not sure what you mean.

    2. curlydan

      And technically, the match was postponed and not cancelled. There are Champions League spots at stake!

      1. Tom Doak

        Why didn’t they have to forfeit the match? It couldn’t be played because of their own fans in their own stadium.

  6. Fireship

    > This little guy catches a huge fish then does the unexpected.👏👏👏

    That is the most beautiful thing I have seen in a long time. All the young kids I know would put the fish back. Sadly, many people in America would see that child as a “thug” who needs to be exterminated, including commentators on this blog – you know who you are.

    1. John Beech

      Kudos to the father/uncle/grandfather (unseen voice off camera) who is raising him right.
      Well done.

      1. nycTerrierist

        the unseen voice and the kid had a sweet vibe

        nevertheless, it would be truly compassionate
        to appreciate the poor fish without torturing it

    2. apotropaic

      This. It’s not that it is heartwarming and cute, it’s that this kid is so obviously brilliant.

    3. Rod

      to me, that chap was a can-o-sunshine. Smiling from the heart and talking in appreciation of something placed much deeper than the heart. A Vignette of sorts for good home training.

    4. JohnMc

      catch and release fishing is so common i don’t see what is so unexpected about the child’s action.

      but more baffling to me is your belief that some people would view this child as a thug to be exterminated. can you point to one comment you’ve read on this site that would lead you to this view?

  7. FreeMarketApologist

    Billionaire Is Buying Up Small Colorado Town—and Locals Are Freaked

    I’m always frustrated by these sorts of headlines. Couldn’t it equally say “Locals price their business so high that only billionaires can afford them”? All of those sellers chose to sell to a buyer that was paying what they asked. If they wanted to ensure that the businesses would continue, they could have retained some form of strong equity ownership (similar to the way that many of the tech companies going public have kept voting power with the founder), or structured a sale of the property to the employees of the businesses.

    (One of the sales seems to be an estate sale, so there are different seller motivations, but still…)

    1. The Rev Kev

      I don’t know why the Daily Beast is making such a big thing of just one town in Colorado. I mean that it came out not long ago that Bill Gates is the biggest owner of farmland in America at some 242,000 acres-

      https://www.forbes.com/sites/arielshapiro/2021/01/14/americas-biggest-owner-of-farmland-is-now-bill-gates-bezos-turner/?sh=20763f376096

      And he is not alone as other American billionaires are buying large ranches across Wyoming, Montana and Texas-

      https://www.axios.com/billionaires-ranches-american-west-farmers-land-ownership-d09ea827-ccde-4c17-afcd-994d7fd95322.html

      1. RockHard

        It’s not like a bunch of ranch land that nobody lives on. This is no different than a standard gentrification story. My friends who are locals up there aren’t the ones setting property prices holding 3 seasonal jobs. Real Estate has just turned into the investment of choice for the leisure class. Nobody invests in stocks, why would you when you have to accept the same returns as some shlub’s 401k?

  8. russell1200

    Visa vi your osprey. I saw a hawk hunt (and catch) a pigeon the other day. Pigeon went into a willow oak’s branches to evade, but hawk went crashing in after it. Pretty cool. Most likely it was a young red-shouldered hawk.

  9. John Siman

    Earnest, learned Thomas Frank does his level best to explain the “world-historical” savagery of Clintonism to Bill Maher, even though Maher seems a bit obtuse. This is why we love Thomas Frank! But then Frank goes on to say that “Biden understands this folly.” Huh?? Are we supposed to believe that this seventy-eight-year-old neoliberal ur-Blobster has been touched by Belinda the Good Witch of the North and turned into an FDR hologram?? Maybe Thomas Frank is teasing us, because he has, understandably, grown so exasperated with American politics.

    1. Mike

      Thomas is a true academic, one who has done his research well, but, at the same time, has hopes, dreams, fears, boils, tears, etc. When one has immersed oneself in politics and sees only dim chances for certain outcomes, grabbing at straws becomes a kind of goal. He exhibits a Bernie Sanders hope of change within the Dems, one Biden winks at with his projects, but cannot end in anything but contractor greed, corruption, and another ripoff, politically if not economically.

    2. tegnost

      I see it as a rhetorical device.
      He is on mahers show after all.
      It’s an inoculating statement that clears the air after criticizing the great scoundrel bill clinton.
      Later in the summer there will be plenty of the same clinton criticisms waiting to be leveled at biden so it’s good argument to get some acknowledgement of those things now. You’ll never get a partisan dem to even listen if you don’t throw them a bone, and as with a mean dog, it can help you make it through the ally without getting bit…

      1. John Siman

        That’s a pretty darn shrewd analysis there, Tegnost! My hope for Thomas Frank is that he gets all juiced up on anabolics and writes a sequel to Listen, Liberal — the title will be F*** You, Liberal.

      2. RockHard

        Agree with that, he’s on basically hostile ground and is trying to curry favor. Taibbi’s had him on 2-3 times this year alone and I didn’t hear him bootlicking for Biden there.

  10. David

    The story about the cannabis industry’s next “war”, made me think about a subject that’s created a lot of fuss in France recently: the murder of Sarah Halimi in 2017. Halimi, a woman in her sixties, was savagely beaten and thrown from the window of her third-floor apartment by a neighbour, who was a petty criminal and drug dealer. The assailant was judged by experts to be such a long-term heavy consumer of cannabis, in ever stronger concentrations, that he had become medically schizophrenic, and was seeing visions of the Devil everywhere. Just this last week, France’s highest criminal court decided that he was, as they would say in England “unfit to plead,” so there will be no trial. His heavy use of cannabis had made him not responsible for his actions. This decision evoked a lot of protest because it was pointed out, quite reasonably, that it was the killer’s own decision to consume ever more cannabis in the first place. (If he had been under the influence of alcohol, on the other hand, his crime would have been aggravated). That said, the law is quite clear on the point: it doesn’t distinguish between different fashions of being in a state of criminal irresponsibility. Macron, inevitably, has said then law should be changed, but nobody is sure how.

    The story hardly been covered in the Anglo-Saxon media so far as I can see, because of the absolutely poisonous and highly complex IdPol dimension. The French media has also handled it with tweezers for the same reason. The victim was jewish, and the assailant, Kobili Traoré, was from a family of Malian immigrants: he had recently been frequenting a radical mosque, and was heard screaming “Allah Akbar” while beating his victim to death. (Among radical Muslim clerics in France, it is quite common to describe Jews as agents of the Devil). It was hard for the media to do more than report the bare facts without risking accusations of “Islamophobia” or “trading in anti-immigrant stereotypes” or “doing the job of the extreme right.” (It’s pragmatically true that drug dealing in the major cities is largely in the hands of immigrant groups.) The violence-against-women lobby said nothing, because they’re only interested in cases where the perpetrator is the husband or partner of the victim, and they shy away from criticising the very high level of violence and ill-treatment of women in immigrant communities.

    Which left France’s well-organised jewish lobby to take up the cause, thus turning this ghastly murder into an IdPol issue. Demonstrations in France were organised over the weekend, largely, though apparently not exclusively, by jewish groups. This in itself has worried a lot of French people, who were very disturbed by the verdict, not on racial grounds, but on grounds of justice. The President of Israel has helpfully written to Macron offering to hold a trial in that country (the example of Eichmann has of course been cited). Inevitably, today, someone set up a Facebook page in support of Traoré, though it was swiftly taken down.

    France really doesn’t need this, and it especially doesn’t need it just so that someone can fry their brain with cannabis.

    1. The Rev Kev

      I have another story about people that is as bizarre in it own way. So the other day you had the deadly crush during Lag B’Omer celebrations at Mount Meron in Israel which killed about 45 people and injured another 150. It was absolute chaos so the Israel Defense Force’s Home Front Command sent in soldiers from the Search and Rescue Brigade and medical teams to search for injured people and dead bodies. And that is when the fun began. When the Ultra-Orthodox realized that some of the soldiers were actually women, they started to kick, punch and spit on them while they were trying to do their jobs. Some stories you just can’t make up-

      https://www.timesofisrael.com/idf-female-soldiers-were-attacked-by-haredim-when-assisting-at-meron-disaster/

    2. Tom Stone

      David, some people do indeed become violent when they use Cannabis, it is rare but it does happen.
      I witnessed this myself once when I was in High School.
      I was sharing a joint with some other kids in a car and the young man in the passenger seat who was trying it for the first time went totally nuts and kicked out the windshield.
      As to today’s pot being much stronger than in the old days, it depends.
      There were some growers raising sinsemilla in the early 60’s that had very high concentrations of THC, it wasn’t common but it could be found if you had the right connections.
      “One hit weed”.

      1. Grateful Dude

        IIRC, assassin=hashashim, or something like that. Good hashish is 70% THC. New varieties not necessary.

        1. tegnost

          “a friend” got two ounces of matanuska thunderf@ck in the mail from alaska in the early ’90’s….you should have seen the look on the postal carriers face…his truck had to reek of weed… “the friend” decided not to do that again because it was assumed that someone was probably onto the deal. Too bad, as it was the bomb, not that I tried it or anything

        2. Rod

          Very interesting this

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

          The “Asāsiyyūn” (plural, from literary Arabic) were, as defined in Arabic, people of principle. The term “assassin” likely has roots in “hashshāshīn” (hashish smokers or users), a mispronunciation of the original Asāsiyyūn, but not a mispronunciation of “Assasiyeen” (pronounced “Asāsiyyeen”, the plural of Asasi). Originally referring to the methods of political control exercised by the Assasiyuun, one can see how it became “assassin” in several languages to describe similar activities anywhere.

          and

          To Crusaders, the Fedayeen concept of valuing a principle above your own life was alien to them, so they rationalized it using myths such as the ‘paradise legend’, the ‘leap of faith’ legend, and the ‘hashish legend’, sewn together in the writings of Marco Polo.[94]

          Yeah–the reading sort of shows the futility of any US Military involvement in fixing anything there–from the Mediteranian to the Indian Sea.

          As for the THC Content–it seems a western question of ‘How Much is Too Much’

          1. Grateful Dude

            The story from “the day” was that a French soldier once ate a pound of hashish (kilo?) and nobody was sure he was still alive, but he was. He was, as the story went, out for a week. I think the corollary is that nobody ever died from marijuana overdose.

            Smoking anything is not a good thing.

            A lady I know makes medical potions from a 50-50 CBD-THC variety. This helps people with serious conditions, including cancer, and successful healing. Apocryphal as it is, it’s real. Dosages? Saturate and keep saturated.

            I’m sure that the people who don’t indulge and in fact abjured indulging when they were young, are still the ones pushing back.

            And pot doesn’t make people psychotic, imho. It may trigger existing traumas into psychotic behavior, but that is a very valuable clinical effect: a feature not a bug. You can’t fix what you can’t see.

            ’nuff said.

      2. chuck roast

        “In March, the co-chairs of the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control — Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) — argued that federal agencies should consider recommending THC caps.” I’m looking forward to our empathetic leaders legislating the potency of heroin and LSD next. Clearly, the fact that they are attempting to determine the strength of an illegal Federal Class 1 drug is lost on these clowns. Is this what they call post-ironic?

    3. Procopius

      I’m really doubtful about this. Have there been other cases of derangement from extensive use of Cannabis? I’ve never heard any stories except Reefer Madness, and we know how truthful that was. There may be some confusion of cause and effect, here. Maybe his use of weed was an attempt to self-medicate in response to his mental illness. The fact that the court ruled him “unfit to plead” does not address the cause of his unfitness, even if the court gave that as the reason.

  11. Jason Boxman

    So the NYTimes is finally reporting what’s been clear for some time now: We aren’t defeating the virus. (emphasis mine)

    Early in the pandemic, when vaccines for the coronavirus were still just a glimmer on the horizon, the term “herd immunity” came to signify the endgame: the point when enough Americans would be protected from the virus so we could be rid of the pathogen and reclaim our lives.

    Instead, they are coming to the conclusion that rather than making a long-promised exit, the virus will most likely become a manageable threat that will continue to circulate in the United States for years to come, still causing hospitalizations and deaths but in much smaller numbers.

    Continued immunizations, especially for people at highest risk because of age, exposure or health status, will be crucial to limiting the severity of outbreaks, if not their frequency, experts believe.

    So vaccinated people will likely continue to have reasonably robust protection, and unvaccinated people will likely be screwed. So much for stretch goals, I guess.

    Not that this outcome surprises me, having followed NC coverage since the beginning. This toothpaste isn’t going back into the bottle.

    Once the novel coronavirus began to spread across the globe in early 2020, it became increasingly clear that the only way out of the pandemic would be for so many people to gain immunity — whether through natural infection or vaccination — that the virus would run out of people to infect. The concept of reaching herd immunity became the implicit goal in many countries, including the United States.

    And completely airbrushes out elimination as an approach, which ultimately proved successful in several countries, not the least of which is China.

    1. wilroncanada

      Great post, Jason Boxman
      Sure, the toothpaste isn’t going back into the bottle, nor is the genie going back into the tube.

  12. None from Nowheresville

    Rich People Are Fueling Climate Catastrophe — But Not Mostly Because of Their Consumption

    This also clarifies our political task. It’s not so much that we need to ask nicely for the rich to consume less or implement “far-reaching changes in their lifestyle”; we have to build political movements with the power to win higher taxes on the rich to fund a Green New Deal, and to de-commodify and expropriate the carbon-intensive sectors they control, like energy, food, and housing. In other words, we need to confront their property, wealth, and control over investment.

    Overall Interesting. But it keeps the power with the rich and asking permission rather than forgiveness. If forgiveness should even be asked. The more far-reaching change would be to ask why labor allows itself and the environment to be so exploited. Part of the answer to that lies in state violence and willingness of the machine to use Dalek tactics even when the threat to the machine is merely fear-based mental thought experiments.

    Top 5% is under 20 million in the US. How many of those individuals would one need to “convert” to really change the system? How many individuals would one need to convert around the world? Or could / should significant change be made from another tier?

    1. John A

      Cannabis does cause mental health problems for heavy users in England. Unfortunately some hospitals in parts of London have many psychotic patients due to cannabis.

      1. tegnost

        hmmm…link please…
        I have heard what is at best rumor that CBD by itself can cause anxiety…psychosis is pretty strong language

        1. R

          The evidence of a strong association between heavy cannabis use and schizophrenia is barely disputed.

          What has been open to interpretation is whether it is causal.

          Studies in the 1980’s suggested heavy cannabis use increased your odds of developing schizophrenia.
          https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736%2887%2992620-1/fulltext

          More recent studies confirm the same.
          https://www.cardiff.ac.uk/research/impact-and-innovation/research-impact/cannabis-use-and-schizophrenia

          Recent studies have focused on the increased risk of potent new cultivars with high THC (“skunk”).
          http://www.thelancet.com/pb/assets/raw/Lancet/pdfs/14TLP0454_Di%20Forti.pdf

          The counterargument is outlined here – basically a predisposition to schizophrenia is associated with self medication / drug thrill seeking.
          https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanpsy/article/PIIS2215-0366(15)00167-4/fulltext

          1. Jason

            What has been open to interpretation is whether it is causal.

            And they will study this everyday and twice on Sunday and until the proverbial cows come home and they’ll never figure it out because the cause-effect thinking is the problem. Nothing in life is due solely to one causal agent. Obviously.

            Max Planck said that science “progresses” one death at a time. I’d wager that future human “advances” will actually come from those who view and experience life as far outside of the modern scientific framework as possible.

            1. R

              Nobody said monocausal.

              The fine wording in the research papers is that the data support cannabis use being an independent risk factor for schizophrenia.

              Anyway, this is no reason to ban the stuff, just to educate people. After all, Western society (pace R D Laing) may also be an independent risk factor for schizophrenia. As too may owning a cat (here’s looking at you, NC readership)….

              https://jhu.pure.elsevier.com/en/publications/is-childhood-cat-ownership-a-risk-factor-for-schizophrenia-later–5

              1. Jason

                But it’s largely implied, no? If not strictly monocausal, then it’s implied as being the primary cause.

                And it may well be in some cases.

                The Divided Self
                is one of my favorites. Of course, Old RD had some issues himself. But then, don’t we all…:)

          1. tegnost

            Thanks,I can’t decipher the statistics so maybe someone else can, it flies in the face of my personal experience. I do wonder why how much money one spends a week is an issue re psychosis, and noted that all exclusions were for illicit or recreational drugs with no mention of anti depressants which may be because anti depressant users were excluded from the study under the justification that they were predisposed to psychosis?

        2. Pelham

          Yes, it’s strong language. But it’s also accurate in a not insignificant number of cases. My understanding is that it’s like alcohol: Most people who drink don’t become alcoholics, but some do. Most people who use marijuana are just fine, but some fall victim to psychosis.

          So marijuana legalization on balance may be a very good thing in the context of the cruel and utterly botched legal prohibition. But there is a severe downside, and it would be foolish to ignore it.

      2. Alfred

        Cannabis today is not the weed of my childhood. Plant breeders have been busy making it more exciting to the “connoisseurs” who think medical marijuana is an excuse to escalate THC content. I had a medical marijuana card for the purpose of getting high CBD herb, and it was very disappointing. One variety, and inconsistent tincture preparations.
        https://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2015/03/23/pot-evolution-how-the-makeup-of-marijuana-has-changed-over-time/?sh=fcd0f1b59e59

        1. hunkerdown

          Are they? I don’t really see people clamoring for that extra 0.01% THC content. On the other hand, the low-end rec provisioning centers tend to have low-end budtenders whose knowledge of strains and their effects goes little further than indica = in da couch and don’t pay much mind to terpene content, which does modify the effects greatly. Try mixing some lavender with your next bowl of sativa and see if it doesn’t feel just like an indica.

          I wonder what they’re going to do about home growers who coddle their plants to maximize their quality, or if this PMC self-assertion project of means-testing will pass them by.

          1. Grateful Dude

            saw an article the other day that with all the states legalizing, 80% of pot is provided by dealers or friends, not stores. The regulations are often designed for corporate growing, not hippy pot farmers. Sad that. But …

            The underground pot economy is still flourishing. Nice to pull $100k out of your backyard every fall?

          2. Alfred

            I met these “connoisseurs” at the medical pot shop, asking for the latest strongest strain, and rhapsodizing about the strongest pot trips like sommeliers. Why would I make that up?

            1. hunkerdown

              Nice. I don’t deny those people could exist. Addictive, ambitious personalities afflict all kinds. Michigan started recreational pot sales just as COVID was starting to spread around the world, so perhaps I haven’t been as present or attentive for those conversations.

              While the THC regulation arguments could be in play right now (and why are we talking about this right now? Who in the ruling class wants us to and why?) as an attempt to demonstrate positive regulatory control in order to appease the UN INCB (subsidiary of big pharma), or less likely as a genuine attempt to improve product safety, the sudden appearance as a pre-mainstream narrative suggests that it’s just the PMC and establishment asserting themselves and proposing reasons for their continued existence.

        2. Jason

          This has become a popular talking point. Marijuana is certainly being bred for specific characteristics, including higher potency, but it’s not an apples to apples comparison. They are comparing all the higher potency marijuana to a baseline that’s set based on the average of what police and feds have confiscated over the years. And while they certainly have confiscated higher quality marijuana, the vast majority of what they confiscate is what’s considered “commersh” – short for mass-produced “commercial” bud (this term was used well before marijuana became legal and commercialized – it simply means mass-produced and of lower quality). “Rag weed” or “dirt weed” is another term we used to use. There are plenty of names.

          I’ve been smoking marijuana off and on since the late 80’s and I can tell you that the allegedly much more potent bud being sold today is not in fact much more potent than the “kind bud” or “killer weed” we used to smoke. High potency marijuana has always been around. It’s simply becoming the new normal now.

          1. Jason

            Adding, I was in my local dispensary the other day and overheard the guy next to me inquiring about THC vape cartridges. These do come in what I feel are outrageous levels – I think I heard the woman say 90 percent THC.

    2. David

      Without prejudice to the wider questions (on which I’m not an expert) in this case, the link is not disputed, because Traore’s defence was based on the argument that he was not responsible for his acts, as a result of schizophrenia brought about by excessive and prolonged cannabis use. This was confirmed by the psychiatrists who examined him, and accepted by various judges.
      What has caused the controversy is the question of whether he should be held responsible for his actions. Under French law, apparently not, but I don’t know how that would be in other countries.

      1. upstater

        The linkage between cannabis and psychosis is noted above. It makes little difference whether this is an egg before chicken question. It is clear that some people have a vulnerability to high test cannabis and whether they are seeking to self medicate exacerbating a pre-existing condition or the cannabis directly caused the illness is irrelevant. Speaking from familial experiences here… Patrick Cockburn and his son wrote a book a decade ago entitled “Henry’s Demons” about their experiences. Patrick is emphatic that the cannabis caused Henry’s illness.

        It is highly doubtful that Traore’s deteriorating condition was unnoticed by his neighbors, family, strangers or perhaps the police. Nobody cared enough to do anything preventive. Only after the fact did it matter. The greater issue with Traore is an untreated medical condition was left to fester and ended in tragedy. The fact the killer was Muslim and the victim Jewish is irrelevant.

        Let it suffice to say that mental illness is treated far differently than physical illnesses. It doesn’t matter which neoliberal paradise you live in. They all fail. Persons with mental illness are considered disposable by society; life expectancy for persons with schizophrenia in the US is something like 25 years less than the public at large. Persons with mental illness commit slightly more crimes that average, but this is an artifact of poor or nonexistent medical treatment. Persons with mental illness are crime victims at far higher rates than the public. A high proportion of the homeless and prison inmates are mentally ill. We, as a society accept this vestige of Jim Crow discrimination.

        After Reagan was shot by John Hinkley, the insanity defense was tightened considerably in the US. A person such as Traore would receive forced treatment and if after treatment they understand the crime they committed, they would be tried and incarcerated as a sane person (e.g., the Tucson and Aurora schizophrenic shooters are thusly jailed for life. Both were kicked out of colleges for bizarre behavior without any treatment whatsoever).

        But the fact of the matter is society fails miserably at the first instance. These tragedies are unnecessary and preventable if care for mental illness received the same attention as that for physical illnesses.

  13. The Rev Kev

    “Biden stocks his White House with Ivy Leaguers”

    ‘Joe Biden, a proud graduate of the University of Delaware and Syracuse Law School who has bragged about going to a “state school,” has stocked his top White House staff with…many Ivy League graduates’

    Probably more so since when he went to Syracuse University College of Law, that he ranked 76th in his class of 85 after failing a course when he plagiarized a law review article for a paper he wrote in his first year at law school. Then again, George Bush was only ever a C student too which just goes to show you that literally anyone can become President in America. Even a Trump.

  14. Phil in KC

    Thomas Frank hit a nerve in conversation with Bill Maher. For some reason Maher still doesn’t comprehend what Clinton did, which was to dismantle those New Deal/Great Society policies and programs that stood in the way of the Neoliberal program and in the process transform the Party. More amazing is that Maher can’t seem to understand what the “middle” is anymore. Good post, thanks.

    1. Carolinian

      Some of us think very little of Maher whose “truthteller” stance is full of blind spots.

      Still, a step up from Maddow?

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        They are the same. They are part of the I’ve got mine crowd. Their issues are solved, but they were both crowned in the 00’s. Maddow didnt once mention the homophobic attacks on the primary of the congressional district where she lived because she is just like Maher.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      Maher is a libertarian. His only issue was buying pot without getting arrested and being a John. He use to date Ann Coulter. Like so many from the early 00’s, not being as deranged as Shrub made him a liberal folk hero.

      1. Oh

        He was a John for Saint O and is still is for the ‘Rats. He donated $ 1 million to the ‘Rats.

        1. neo-realist

          The rats are the lesser evil to Maher because of the GOPer’s support for religious wing nuts (anathema to an atheist like Maher) and its enabling of the more bigoted and ignorant elements in American Society.

    3. Pelham

      Agreed, but I give Maher credit for having Frank on the show since he appears to have been barred from any other major US forum.

      1. JBird4049

        Frank has said that they stopped inviting him for appearances in the major news shows and writing for magazines once he started writing books like Listen, Liberal and What’s the Matter with Kansas?.

      2. neo-realist

        And for speaking truth to power lefty talking points to Maher vis-a-vis the dems tack to the right since Clinton, Frank may never get invited back to the show. Normally Maher likes having a loud conservative and a milquetoast lefty at the roundtable to show how fair he is (Or secretly he likes conservatives more cause they protect his wealth more than the dems and the woke dems show him for the cranky old man that he is.

  15. griffen

    Vote for Dwayne or he will bring the Pain. These seem like an all too likely publicity stunt and vanity pursuit. I take Matthew a little more serious now but his period of “jkl” might haunt his future intentions, if any.

    Just keep living, I think it were.

  16. Carolinian

    Re Tall Man Out

    Funny stuff about Satyajit Ray and his height–unknown to me as I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a picture of him. Meanwhile Ray’s own hero was the decidedly plump Jean Renoir. So perhaps opposite body types attract or perhaps the “life of the mind” operates on a plane where none of this matters.

  17. Matthew G. Saroff

    It strikes me that the way to deal with folks like Manchin and Sinema is to make it clear that if they oppose policies overwhelmingly supported by the party, Medicare expansion and DC statehood for example, that is their right, but there WILL be a vote, and they WILL have to go on record opposing these policies.

    Biden and Schumer just fold when Conservative Democrats whine, it encourages more posturing from the psychopath wing of the party.

    Make them vote.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Warner came out against the PRO Act just as Manchin endorsed it. As cover, new introducing his own gun legislation instead of supporting existing legislation. It’s not Sinema and Manchin. It’s Schumer and Biden. Manchin said he wasn’t even lobbied by the White House. They won’t hold the vote because it’s not a party in need of tossing a few bad apples but all the apples have been spoiled for decades now.

    2. tegnost

      Until they lose the legislature to the repubs in 2022 “That darn joe manchin” is the only thing saving them from the billonaires pitchforks…

  18. The Rev Kev

    “Russian Attempts to Expand Sputnik Vaccine Set Off Discord in Europe”

    “We are part of the European family and we should accept the rules of the family,” Ms. Pastorekova said.

    And the rules say that some of you may have to die because we are too proud to accept vaccines from a country that is on our naughty list. Having hundreds if not thousands of our European family die because of this is kinda tough but it is a price that we are prepared to make.

    ‘What you mean ‘we’, White Man?’

  19. DJG, Reality Czar

    Link to the Hebrides. BBC.

    Thanks, JLS.

    I recently finished a book entitled, Love of Country: A Journey to the Hebrides, by Madeline Bunting. She creates wonderful, insightful word pictures of these islands, as she traces her own ancestry.

    Some of her ancestors were from the Highlands, and her descriptions of the removals are chilling. Her descriptions of what happened when English aristocrats and parvenus got their hands on certain of the islands are horrifying–and I’m not easily shocked. {Although my sympathy for Scottish independence grows and grows.)

    A lesson of the book is the ecological and cultural diversity: Some of the islands have remained Catholic. Some observe very strict Presbyterian strains. There are islands were Gaelic is dominant, and others where the language is fading. Some voted for independence. Some refuse.

    So: I recommend this book, which travels inward as she travels to the edge of Britain.

    1. splashoil

      You may well enjoy the Blackhouse trilogy and Entry Island by Peter May. Fiction, but plots are rooted in this history.

  20. Alex

    It’s nice that the Grayzone managed to track down the ultimate beneficiaries of the anti-forced-labour campaign, but still, if you read the article carefully you will see that it’s basically the words of all these dodgy NGOs versus Chinese state media. There is no reason to take the former’s position at face value but it’s even more naive to blindly trust the latter’s declarations.

    No unrelated party visited the factory and talked to the employees there. Why didn’t Grayzone send someone there to do it?

    1. Seattle Slow

      Re: It’s nice that the Grayzone …

      “No unrelated party visited the factory and talked to the employees there. Why didn’t Grayzone send someone there to do it?”

      What is the probability that anyone could get an unbiased look at the factory, or interview its employees freely?

      1. Alex

        So perhaps it’s a problem that China wouldn’t let journalists go there and see for themselves?

  21. ObjectiveFunction

    Worthwhile piece by Aris Roussinos: Has China Rescued the West?

    The money quote:

    China defeated Covid in a matter of weeks, marshalling the almost unimaginable resources of its vast industrial base at the directed will of its central state apparatus. Western nations pulled the levers of the state, and realised they were not attached to anything.

    Ouch. I also liked his quotes from Charles Tilly:

    Hemmed in from the rest of the world by the sprawling Islamic empires to the south and east, and the vast, coercive tributary states of Europe’s eastern steppes, Western European rulers created the modern state system through a process of constant competition, war, consolidation, and capitalist economic development.

    Struggle over the means of war produced state structures that no one had planned to create, or even particularly desired…. From the late seventeenth century onward budgets, debts, and taxes arose to the rhythm of war.

    The Health of the State, indeed….

    1. kareninca

      “Western nations pulled the levers of the state, and realised they were not attached to anything.”

      I find that more cheering than not.

      1. hunkerdown

        Oddly, me too. For the longest time I thought it was just our hands the levers ignored.

    2. witters

      Thanks for the link to Aris Roussinos. And good to be reminded to read Tilly again.

  22. Pat

    Well Cuomo just opened up NY. May 19 capacity restrictions largely cease to exist.

    Since we already know he will play with the numbers, we will probably not know if this is a mistake until years later. But besides being a personal Hail Mary it certainly cements the theory that we have achieved the new normal of infection and healthcare capacity and acceptance that this virus can only be managed with an “acceptable number of casualties” as in dead or permanently impaired either by the virus or the experimental vaccines.

    Cuomo opens early

  23. Zamfir

    Can Russia supply vaccines anyway? As far as I can see from googling, they have delivered about 20 million doses in Russia itself, several million each to Argentina, Serbia and Hungary (I cannot find exact numbers), 1.5 million to India, a million to Mexico. I see a mention of the first 15,000 delivered to Phillipines, just days ago. Perhaps I am missing some exports, but I am fairly sure I am not missing tens of millions.

    They have sold several hundred million doses to existing customers, so new customers will be far down the line. Several to many months presumably, even with new production being added.

    In that light, I don’t think the naughty list is costing lives? By the time serious numbers of Sputnik might be coming to Europe, the big vaccine hurdle will be over. It also would be time enough to get approval through the regular EMA channels.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Sputnik already got medical approval in Europe so now the authorities are slow-walking approval by doing an inquiry if it was developed ethically e.g. the test participants knew what they were volunteering for. Is there any other vaccine being required to do this such as Astrazenaca or Moderna? Personally I do not care if it is Russian or not. I only care if it works and what the side effects are long term. When my doctor asked me what I thought about vaccinating, I said from what I have read that I would prefer to go with Sputnik V. He laughed but I was not kidding.

  24. Pelham

    Re DC statehood: Wouldn’t this require a constitutional amendment? If so, the argument in Congress is only posturing.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      The Constitution is ambiguous about the nature of the capitol, requiring that it doesn’t exceed a certain size. The proposed legislation simply reduces the US capitol in size, leaving the rest of Washington DC part of the US and easily fulfilling the requirements for statehood without any bs handwaving like Wyoming or the Dakotas.

      Its a bit of a poison pill, but the 23rd amendment is problematic because it would effectively give the President 3 electoral votes.

  25. Andrew Watts

    RE: CIA recruitment ad

    The CIA isn’t attempting to recruit millennial wokesters judging by the ad. They’re trying to recruit non-white first-generation Americans with language skills. Which is undoubtedly lacking yet necessary in the CIA.

    I assume it’s appealing to some people ’cause Castro free’d their family’s slaves.

  26. Alfred

    Is China trying to kill me? I got an Aria air fryer oven that was advertised ceramic and non-toxic, and it off-gassed burnt plastic smell from the housing when I was cooking a chicken that was so strong and noxious that I felt ill and my nose is still burning inside, after opening all the windows for hours. I cleaned it and boxed it up and asked for a refund. I went online to investigate and there were all these “burning off a protective coating” things. And it took up to 8 uses for some users. That sounds like a load of bull. I hope I don’t get nose cancer…
    Where does one find an appliance these days not made of poisonous materials?
    I’m looking at the Ninja now.

  27. jonboinAR

    I spotted osprey several times in the 1980’s in a kind of sadly ironic way. They were separated in time by I don’t know how long, but each was soaring at maybe a few hundred feet, cruising the Los Angeles River in the middle of the San Fernando Valley. Poor things, they hadn’t figured out, they ain’t no fish in that concrete, barely flowing channel! They were osprey, though. All my life I’ve been kind of a desultory bird watcher. I had enough experience to get back to my field guide and figure out, yep, that was an osprey.

  28. drumlin woodchuckles

    About Hillary Clinton’s warning of big consequences for America leaving Afghanistan . . . she’s right, but so what?

    That will all happen no matter how soon or late we leave. If we stay 10 more years, that will all happen in Year Eleven. Better to let it all happen right now.

    If Russia and the Central Asiastans don’t want a total Taliban reconquest of Afghanistan, they can get the band back together and re-stand-up the Northern Alliance. The Northern Alliance was composed of groups which really did want to avoid Pashtun Conquest and Colonialism against their own Non-Pashtun areas. Maybe they still want the same thing. Maybe India would want to help them. Let them either do that or not.

    Let us leave, not look back, and not care anymore.

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