2:00PM Water Cooler 8/19/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

I got caught up in Covid treatment alternatives, and so I have a little catch-up to do. –lambert

Bird Song of the Day

Today, no bill clapping!

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At reader request, I’ve added this daily chart from 91-DIVOC. The data is the Johns Hopkins CSSE data. Here is the site. I feel I’m engaging in a macabre form of tape-watching….

Vaccination by region:

Back up in the South.

51% of the US is fully vaccinated, a big moment, breaking the psychological 51% barrier. Every day, a tenth of a percentage point upward. And as readers point out, every day those vaccinated become less protected, especially the earliest.

Case count by United States regions:

Still near vertical. The South begins to slow, but other regions still rise. As far as reaching the peak of January 8, 2021, with 295,257 cases per day … I’m not that pessimistic (modulo a new variant brought into the country by our ridiculously lax policies on international quarantines). What we might call, after Everest, the “First Step” (November 25, 2019) with 178,466 looks in striking distance, especially if the case count purple line continues go near vertical. If things go on as they are, we should hit the first step just in time for Labor Day. But what do I know, I’m just a tape-watcher.

Covid cases top ten states: for the last four weeks (hat tip, alert reader Lou Anton):

California is Texas’s wingman. Meanwhile, Florida staggered ahead. What’s with Georgia v. Louisiana?

NEW From CDC: “Community Profile Report August 18, 2021” (PDF), “Rapid Riser” counties, this release:

Lots of yellow and green up the Mississippi now. Remember, however, that this chart is about acceleration, not absolute numbers. For our case count to come off the vertical, we need to see a lot more green. This map blows the “Blame Bubba” narrative out of the water. Not a (Deliverance-style) banjo to be heard. Previous release:

(Red means getting worse, green means bad but getting better. This chart updates Tuesdays and Fridays, presumbly by end-of-day.)

Test positivity:

Drop in the South, interestingly. Could be data, but also could correlate to red backing off in rapid riser counties.

Hospitalization (CDC): Dammit, this one’s gone dark. I wish CDC wouldn’t do this. Here the CDC’s hospitalization visualization, from the source above:

Yet more red states now, still in the South. Not good.

A little dip across all age groups, oddly.

Deaths (Our World in Data):

Deaths on trend rising; nowhere near meriting an anti-triumphalist black line, being an order of magnitude less than there were at peak. (Adding: I know the data is bad. This is the United States. But according to The Narrative, deaths shouldn’t have been going up at all. Directionally, this is quite concerning.)

Covid cases worldwide:

Southeast Asia doing better, I presume because little-covered Indonesia is past a peak. US sphere of influence under the Monroe Doctrine not doing so well.

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“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” –James Madison, Federalist 51

“They had one weapon left and both knew it: treachery.” –Frank Herbert, Dune

“They had learned nothing, and forgotten nothing.” –Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord

Biden Administration

“Biden scrambles to tamp down panic over Afghanistan” [Politico]. “The White House is moving quickly to contain the fallout from the botched Afghanistan withdrawal, hoping to blunt possible damage to the rest of the president’s agenda. Since Sunday, administration officials have been issuing assurances to concerned Democrats and talking with allies around the world that felt betrayed. They are calling members of Congress who have been publicly supportive of Joe Biden to express the president’s gratitude. Biden’s aides are adjusting their communications strategy regarding the country’s collapse to corral supportive voices and push back on the ‘crisis of confidence’ narrative. Their overt adjustments include dispatching national security adviser Jake Sullivan to the press briefing Tuesday to offer more transparent answers — delivered in a more conciliatory tone than the president took in his remarks on Monday. And the White House shared a new image of the president surrounded by his national security team, countering its much-maligned weekend photo of Biden appearing isolated at Camp David amid the erupting chaos in Kabul. The Democratic National Committee has pushed out messages bolstering Biden’s leadership and combating what it characterized as Republican ‘hypocrisy on Afghanistan.’ VoteVets, a major veterans organization, lauded Biden’s bravery in ending the occupation on a call with news reporters. And Biden himself is touching base with the world leaders who came away burned when the U.S. took its swift, unilateral actions without their counsel. It was all part of the response to the sweep of Democrats who separated from Biden since Afghanistan fell to the Taliban over the weekend, openly criticizing him for his management of the tense wind-down of America’s 20-year troop presence in the country. Now, the administration is facing probes from three congressional committees helmed by senior Democrats and aggressive efforts by Republicans to exploit the morass overseas.” • I’ve linked to this musical interlude before, but “Somebody take these knives outta my back!” (Also, the Administration should consider a little jujitsu at those hearings: Either The Blob was ignorant of what would happen, or they sabotaged Biden. I’m guessing the latter. Why not expose that?)

UPDATE “CIA director was traveling in Middle East when Kabul fell” [Axios]. “While the drama in Kabul was unfolding over the weekend, CIA director Bill Burns was on a six-day trip to the Middle East. The CIA and the rest of the U.S. intelligence community have been highly criticized in recent days for an apparent intelligence failure over the swift Taliban takeover. The fact that Burns was on an overseas trip suggests the agency didn’t think a collapse was imminent.” • Or…. The CIA knows about cover?

UPDATE “Rapid Collapse of Afghan Forces Wasn’t Foreseen, Milley Says” [Bloomberg]. “American intelligence assessments didn’t foresee such a rapid collapse of the Afghan military, and the U.S. now has a limited ability to aid allies stuck in Kabul, the Pentagon’s top leaders said. ‘There are not reports that I am aware of that predicted a security force of 300,000 would evaporate in 11 days,’ General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Wednesday at a news conference alongside Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.” • 12? 20? 30?

UPDATE “Are Democrats going to Benghazi Biden?” [The Week]. “The tough but undeniable truth is that there was no good way to get out of Afghanistan, and no good way to stay either. The Afghan state and army was a fiction — something that could not survive even a slight push from the Taliban. If Biden had accelerated the removal of American civilians and Afghan workers, then that would have likely caused a collapse in morale in the Afghan army and an even quicker victory of the Taliban, and thus the same exact chaotic withdrawal. If Biden had reneged on America’s promise to withdraw, the Taliban most certainly would have attacked anyway, requiring him to add more troops and get even more people killed in a conflict that was obviously lost 15 years ago. The core foreign policy assumption of imperial chauvinists, like nearly all congressional Democrats, is that America is an exceptional nation, a shining city on a hill that can always get what it wants. If something awful happens — especially something embarrassing that is broadcast on television — then that means someone must not have lived up to American potential. Empire can never fail, it can only be failed. This blinkered attitude is a major reason why the Afghanistan occupation was such an endless nightmare in the first place. Presidents Trump and Obama didn’t withdraw in part because they were frightened of political backlash from the foreign policy Blob and reflexively hawkish media. As shown by the shrieking tantrum happening across all parts of the mainstream press, they weren’t wrong about what would happen. It took real political courage for Biden to stick to his guns and refuse to re-start the war for the sole purpose of making the legions of soft, comfortable think-tankers, talking heads, and members of Congress feel better about themselves.”


UPDATE “Democrats’ House Grip Relies on Holding Districts Trump Carried” [Bloomberg]. “Republicans’ path to winning the House majority runs through more than a half-dozen Democratic-held districts Donald Trump carried in 2020. Redistricting, which began in earnest last week, will help decide how competitive those seven ticket-splitting swing seats will be. So will retirements, with Rep. Ron Kind of Wisconsin last week becoming the second of those incumbents to announce he won’t seek re-election. Both parties are closely monitoring the line-drawing process in each of the districts, as well as whether the other five Democrats will run for another term. Those variables will weigh heavily on this subset of the GOP’s target list, which is enough to swing control of the closely divided chamber.” • Handy chart:

Realignment and Legitimacy

A helpful suggestion:

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UPDATE “US officials in Berlin struck by ‘Havana syndrome’ symptoms” [Financial Times]. “Two US officials working in Germany have sought medical treatment after complaining of symptoms similar to those related to the so-called Havana syndrome, according to a person familiar with the matter. The syndrome is named after the Cuban capital, where employees of the CIA and US state department first complained of unusual sound and pressure sensations in their heads in 2016 and 2017. The symptoms have since been observed among government workers in China, Russia and, more recently, Austria. The US has not said publicly who it believes is behind the incidents, which appear to involve “directed” attacks using radiofrequency energy such as microwave radiation. But privately, officials suspect Russia is responsible.” • Oddly, or not, mass hysteria is never considered as an explanation, despite multiple examples of mass hysteria in our elites since at least 2016.

Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “14 August 2021 Initial Unemployment Claims Rolling Average Improves” [Econintersect]. “Market expectations for weekly initial unemployment claims (from Econoday) were 350 K to 395 K (consensus 360 K), and the Department of Labor reported 348,000 new claims. The more important (because of the volatility in the weekly reported claims and seasonality errors in adjusting the data) 4 week moving average moved from 396,750 (reported last week as 396,250) to 377,750.”

Manufacturing: “August 2021 Philly Fed Manufacturing Survey Index Declined Again” [Econintersect]. “Overall, this report was about the same as last month as key elements were mixed.”

Coincident Indicators: “14 August 2021 New York Fed Weekly Economic Index (WEI): Index Decline Continues” [Econintersect]. “The New York Fed’s Weekly Leading Index (WLI) declined this past week. This index’s trend is worsening based on the 13-week rolling average…. The decline of this index is due to the comparison to the improving conditions last year after the end of the recession.”

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Banking: “Wells Fargo reverses plan to end personal credit lines after customer backlash” [CNBC]. “The bank has decided to keep the products available for those who actively used them or want to reactivate old ones, according to a spokeswoman for the San Francisco-based company. It will not offer the credit lines to new customers, however. After CNBC reported on the closures last month, customers asked the bank to keep their accounts open to avoid inconvenience, according to a person with direct knowledge of the situation. Another consideration was the potential impact on credit scores, said the person.”

Commodities: “Renewed appetite for travel is pumping up profits in one corner of the energy sector. Refiners are benefiting from higher gasoline prices despite pressures including Covid-19 worries weighing on other parts of the global oil complex…. [R]efiners like Marathon Petroleum stand to gain when the fuel they produce fetch higher prices than the crude they purchase to make it, a gap known as the crack spread that this week hit close to the highest level since data extending back to 2016” [Wall Street Journal]. “Refiners have revved up operations and are running at about 91% capacity, compared with less than 80% a year before. The rising fuel costs are hitting truckers as well as road-trippers. The average U.S. per-gallon price for diesel hit $3.356 for the week ending Aug. 16, down from the previous week but still up 92.9 cents per gallon from a year ago, according to the Energy Information Administration.” • The “crack spread”….

Commodities: “Lumber isn’t the only way to make money from timber, the hot housing market notwithstanding. Demand for carbon offsets means some trees around the Great Lakes and in New England are worth more standing than they would be chopped down and processed…. as businesses looking to meet air-quality regulations or show environmental bona fides load up on the climate-change currency. The growing market could be a boon for states like Michigan, which has agreed to limit logging for four decades in a state-owned forest known as the “Big Wild” through a pact with DTE Energy that could reap more than $10 million over the next decade” [Wall Street Journal]. “Great Lakes states control big tracts of timber, and mills there have a hard time competing with rivals in the South, the leading producer of softwood lumber, which is used to build homes. About 65% of Michigan’s forest acres are eligible for offsets, and some 25 states are weighing similar moves” • Best if the “tracts” are forests!

Tech: “Facebook wants you to hold your next meeting in VR” [CNN]. “For those who don’t think Zoom meetings are a good enough substitute for the real thing, Facebook has another idea: a virtual reality app that lets you and your coworkers feel like you’re sitting around a table in a conference room. On Thursday, Facebook (FB) unveiled Horizon Workrooms, a free app for users of its Oculus Quest 2 headset, a device that starts at $299. The app stands out as the company’s most ambitious effort yet to enable groups to socialize in VR and move the still niche medium beyond entertainment uses such as gaming. Workrooms allows up to 16 VR headset users to meet in a virtual conference room, with each of them represented by a customizable cartoon-like avatar that appears as just an upper body floating slightly above a virtual chair at a table.” • So, no virtual orgies, then? More: “In recent weeks, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and other tech industry executives have spoken with increasing fervor about visions for a ‘metaverse.’ The term draws inspiration from a decades-old dystopian sci-fi idea for a virtual world that provides an escape from the realities of everyday life. Despite its bleak origins, tech executives speak optimistically about what such a metaverse could be, with Facebook going so far as to create a ‘Metaverse product group’ under Bosworth.” • Sounds hellish. I think I’d prefer those flying cars we were promised, even though I hate flying cars.

Tech: “Facebook unveils virtual office app Horizon Workrooms” [Financial Times]. “Facebook said it would not access the images of a user’s physical environment, which are processed locally on the headset, and discarded after display. While the audio contents of meetings are processed on Facebook’s servers, the company said it would not store that data. It would not use ‘work conversations and materials to inform ads’, it added.” • Oh, right [nods vigorously].

Tech: “How AI-powered tech landed man in jail with scant evidence” [Associated Press]. “Williams was jailed last August, accused of murdering a young man from the neighborhood who asked him for a ride during a night of unrest over police brutality in May. But the key evidence against Williams didn’t come from an eyewitness or an informant; it came from a clip of noiseless security video showing a car driving through an intersection, and a loud bang picked up by a network of surveillance microphones. Prosecutors said technology powered by a secret algorithm that analyzed noises detected by the sensors indicated Williams shot and killed the man. ‘I kept trying to figure out, how can they get away with using the technology like that against me?’ said Williams, speaking publicly for the first time about his ordeal. ‘That’s not fair.’ Williams sat behind bars for nearly a year before a judge dismissed the case against him last month at the request of prosecutors, who said they had insufficient evidence.” And more: “Williams’ experience highlights the real-world impacts of society’s growing reliance on algorithms to help make consequential decisions about many aspects of public life. Nowhere is this more apparent than in law enforcement, which has turned to technology companies like gunshot detection firm ShotSpotter to battle crime. ShotSpotter evidence has increasingly been admitted in court cases around the country, now totaling some 200. ShotSpotter’s website says it’s ‘a leader in precision policing technology solutions’ that helps stop gun violence by using ‘sensors, algorithms and artificial intelligence’ to classify 14 million sounds in its proprietary database as gunshots or something else. But an Associated Press investigation, based on a review of thousands of internal documents, emails, presentations and confidential contracts, along with interviews with dozens of public defenders in communities where ShotSpotter has been deployed, has identified a number of serious flaws in using ShotSpotter as evidentiary support for prosecutors. AP’s investigation found the system can miss live gunfire right under its microphones, or misclassify the sounds of fireworks or cars backfiring as gunshots.”

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 24 Extreme Fear (previous close: 25 Extreme) [CNN]. One week ago: 42 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Aug 19 at 12:41pm. Surely not Afghanistan?

Health Care

New clarity in booster policy:

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Festival of repurposed drugs for treatment:

“Early COVID-19 therapy with azithromycin plus nitazoxanide, ivermectin or hydroxychloroquine in outpatient settings significantly improved COVID-19 outcomes compared to known outcomes in untreated patients” [New Microbes and New Infections] Elsevier; peer-reviewed; open access. From Brazil. n = 585. From the Abstract: “In a prospective observational study (pre-AndroCoV Trial), the use of nitazoxanide, ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine demonstrated unexpected improvements in COVID-19 outcomes when compared to untreated patients. The apparent yet likely positive results raised ethical concerns on the employment of further full placebo controlled studies in early-stage COVID-19…. The present analysis aimed to elucidate, through a comparative analysis with two control groups, whether full placebo-control randomized clinical trials (RCTs) on early-stage COVID-19 are still ethically acceptable…. [The Active Group (AG)] showed reduction of 31.5–36.5% in viral shedding (p < 0.0001), 70–85% in disease duration (p < 0.0001), and 100% in respiratory complications, hospitalization, mechanical ventilation, deaths and post-COVID manifestations (p < 0.0001 for all). For every 1000 confirmed cases for COVID-19, at least 70 hospitalizations, 50 mechanical ventilations and five deaths were prevented. Benefits from the combination of early COVID-19 detection and early pharmacological approaches were consistent and overwhelming when compared to untreated groups, which, together with the well-established safety profile of the drug combinations tested in the Pre-AndroCoV Trial, precluded our study from continuing employing full placebo in early COVID-19.” • So, if I read this correctly, the results of the nitazoxanide, ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine combo were so good they stopped the trial. The methodology is above my pay-grade. But can we please stop flinging the “horse paste” and “bleach” smears?

“Thailand scrambles for COVID-19 antiviral as vaccines run short” [Nikkei Asia]. “The Pharmacy Council of Thailand has issued a warning letter to the Public Health Ministry about a possible shortage of Favipiravir, as demand for the drug is forecast to surge as high as 30 million pills per month and could reach more than 50 million pills if the number of COVID-19 patients continues to rise…. Favipiravir, sold under the brand name Avigan, is approved as a treatment for new and emerging influenza in Japan. It is also being studied as a treatment for other viral infections, including SARS and COVID-19. Thailand began importing it, mostly from Japan, to treat COVID-19 patients since the start of the pandemic last year.”

“Effectiveness of favipiravir in COVID-19: a live systematic review” [European Journal of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases]. Meta-analysis. From the Abstract: “There is no evidence that Favipiravir decreases the fatality rate or the use of mechanical ventilation among moderate and severe patients with COVID-19. Randomized clinical trials or quality observational studies including moderate and severe patients with appropriate sample sizes are needed for describing the effectiveness of Favipiravir in COVID-19.” • This was the best study on favipiravir I could find; there are surely better ones. I note the usual hospital centrism and bypassing of prophylaxis.

Lambert here: I’m not in love with any drug. I support the search for repurposed and especially cheap, off-patent drugs out of common humanity. Whatever works, is my motto. That said–

(1): “Column: With fluvoxamine, doctors find an old drug that may actually work against COVID-19” [Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times]. This article is schizophrenic. Let me quote the reporting in part (1): “‘The good thing is that fluvoxamine is an inexpensive, easy to use and widely available drug,’ Eric Lenze, a professor of psychiatry at Washington University in St. Louis who conducted one of the first clinical trials of the drug’s effect on COVID-19, told me by email. ‘We already know about its safety, since it has been on the market for more than 25 years,’ Lenze says. ‘I am hoping that the medical and scientific community embraces this as a proven treatment for early COVID-19 and it starts to be utilized.’… The so-called Together Trial has been testing several purported treatments; we reported recently on its findings that neither Ivermectin nor hydroxychloroquine had any therapeutic effect on COVID-19. The results on fluvoxamine were strikingly different…. The full 28-day observation period of patients in the Together Trial won’t be complete until Aug. 25, Mills says, at which point the full results will be submitted for publication.” • So this is promising, but as Hiltzik himself points out, we don’t actually have results or even a preprint to examine. One hesitates to imagine what the reaction would be if another “old drug” were ramped under similar conditions. Here is the presentation on which Hiltzik relies. Part (2) follows.

“Fluvoxamine: A Review of Its Mechanism of Action and Its Role in COVID-19” [Frontiers in Pharmacology]. From Abtract: “Fluvoxamine is a well-tolerated, widely available, inexpensive selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor that has been shown in a small, double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized study to prevent clinical deterioration of patients with mild coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Fluvoxamine is also an agonist for the sigma-1 receptor, through which it controls inflammation. We review here a body of literature that shows important mechanisms of action of fluvoxamine and other SSRIs that could play a role in COVID-19 treatment. These effects include: reduction in platelet aggregation, decreased mast cell degranulation, interference with endolysosomal viral trafficking, regulation of inositol-requiring enzyme 1α-driven inflammation and increased melatonin levels, which collectively have a direct antiviral effect, regulate coagulopathy or mitigate cytokine storm, which are known hallmarks of severe COVID-19.”

UPDATE (2)(a): “Column: With fluvoxamine, doctors find an old drug that may actually work against COVID-19” [Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times]. And now for a part of Hiltzik’s article that some might characterize as invective, rather than reporting. I’ve helpfully numbered the places where Hiltzik goes astray. “Ivermectin, which is chiefly a veterinary drug used for deworming livestock[1] and for some human parasitic diseases endemic in rural or tropical regions[2], became a hobby horse for those claiming that information about proven remedies for COVID-19 was being ‘suppressed'[3] at the behest of drug companies that expected greater profits from vaccines[4].” [1] The weasel word “chiefly” suppresses the fact that Ivermectin tablets are FDA-approved for use in “deworming” by humans; “livestock” is simply tendentious. [2] “Rural or tropical regions” means, like, billions of doses. From the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, “Ivermectin and COVID-19: Keeping Rigor in Times of Urgency“: “Ivermectin is a widely used drug for the treatment and control of several neglected tropical diseases. The drug has an excellent safety profile, with more than 2.5 billion doses distributed in the last 30 years, and its potential to reduce malaria transmission by killing mosquitoes is under evaluation in several trials around the world.” Hiltzik’s view here could be characterized as at best provincial. [3] In my experience, Ivermectin came recommended by clinicians who were trying to help patients. Many clinicians with similar good results initiated observational studies. (Satoshi Ōmura, et al., describe the strengths and weaknesses of these clinician-driven studies here; linked to at NC in June.) [4] I don’t have a smoking gun for Covid medicines, but certainly similar behavior by Big Pharma (or indeed any oligopolist) is not unknown. From the Milbank Quarterly, “Big Pharma Profits and the Public Loses“: “Another cost comes from some companies paying those companies making generic drugs to delay releasing the less expensive alternatives, thus essentially prolonging the patents of the drugs involved.” • There’s other verbiage I could take issue with in Hiltzik’s piece, but I shouldn’t wish to be characterized as a member of a “claque” simply for supporting research into harmless, repurposed, cheap drugs that might bring life-saving treatment to billions suffering under our regime of vaccine apartheid; my skin is far too thin for that. (And if that repurposed drug turns out to be fluvoxamine, great!)

* * *

“Health researchers report funder pressure to suppress results” [Nature]. “A survey of public-health researchers has found numerous instances of trial results being suppressed on topics such as nutrition, sexual health, physical activity and substance use, with 18% of respondents reporting that they had, on at least one occasion, felt pressured by funders to delay reporting, alter or not publish findings. The survey, published in PLoS One1, involved 104 researchers from regions including North America, Europe and Oceania who have led trials to evaluate behavioural interventions designed to improve public-health outcomes.” • Handy chart:

Shocked, shocked.

The Biosphere

“Natural Mosquito Repellent’s Powers Finally Decoded” [Scientific American]. “Mosquito-borne diseases kill about 700,000 people every year. Lives can be spared by applying insect repellents, including a chrysanthemum flower extract called pyrethrum that humans have used for thousands of years. A new study in Nature Communications finally shows how pyrethrum works, with two components acting synergistically to deter the pesky bloodsuckers…. To observe pyrethrum’s effects, Dong and her colleagues attached tiny electrodes to hairs on mosquitoes’ antennae. This let them measure the insects’ responses to repellents at the level of individual odorant receptors in nerve cells. Many disease-carrying mosquito species have more than 100 such receptors, but the researchers found pyrethrum activates one in particular called Or31—and they confirmed that mosquitoes would not flinch from the substance if they were genetically modified to lack that receptor. Unlike many other odorant receptors, Dong says, Or31 just happens to appear in all known disease-carrying mosquito species. The team also used chemical analysis to determine how two of pyrethrum’s molecular components—EBF and pyrethrin—elicit the repellent response. Mosquito experiments showed the chemicals work best when combined: EBF activates Or31, and pyrethrins enhance repellency by intensifying nerve signaling.” • Cool. And life-saving!


What Every American Needs to Know About the Congressional “Pay-For” Game (Part 1) Stephanie Kelton, The Lens

Sports Desk

“Shohei Ohtani, ‘an incredibly special talent,’ launches 40th homer, pitches eight sharp innings in Los Angeles Angels’ victory” [ESPN]. “he Japanese right-hander allowed six hits, struck out eight and walked none in a 90-pitch outing. According to ESPN Stats & Information research, his 40 home runs are the highest hit by a pitcher in a single season, with Babe Ruth owning the next two slots: 1933 (34) and 1921 (20)…. Ohtani became the first major leaguer to hit 40 homers in a season in which he pitched at least 15 games. The previous record was 29 by Babe Ruth in 1919.”

Guillotine Watch

“Texas mansion with a ‘modern gentleman’s trophy room’ lists for $5.5M. Take a look” [Fort Worth Star-Telegram]. • What are the trophies? Human heads?

Class Warfare

“What Happens When All of Your Co-workers Quit?” [New York Magazine]. “As more businesses reopen, an unprecedented number of Americans are walking away from their jobs in restaurants, factories, offices, and hospitals. A record 4 million people quit in April, followed by another 4 million the next month. And the next. Some left to chase deeper fulfillment or to finally escape dead-end jobs with the cushion of enhanced unemployment checks. Many furloughed workers didn’t return to positions that exploited them and put them at risk of catching COVID-19. The so-called great resignation has created a seismic power shift that has already forced corporations like McDonald’s, Walmart, and Starbucks to boost wages or offer perks to entice new hires. There has been an endless parade of Schadenfreude-inducing headlines about employers who are now on their knees begging for staff like desperate suitors. But for those still toiling in these threadbare workplaces, the great resignation has led to even greater exploitation. While the mass exodus may improve conditions in the long term, in the meantime it has been devastating to those left behind whose unbearable workloads have led to depression, substance abuse, and trips to the hospital. After all, not everyone can quit.”

“The Sacklers threaten us all with a good time” [Cory Doctorow, Pluralistic]. “The Sacklers are a multigenerational family of drug dealers, descended from the pioneer of the benzo epidemic, whose family drug business, Purdue Pharma, jumpstarted the opioid epidemic with its drug Oxycontin. The epidemic’s US body count is past 800,000. The Sacklers are worth billions – the family’s net worth exceeds that of other criminal dynasties like the Rockefellers. They are facing a blizzard of litigation thanks to their active role in deceptive, aggressive opioid marketing. Depositions and internal documents about the Sacklers reveal their direct role in Purdue’s explicit plan to create addicts and then demonize them, blaming their addiction on their personal moral failings rather than the deceptive practices of the pharma industry. For many years, the Sacklers were among the world’s most effective reputation-launderers, dispensing crumbs from their family fortune to arts and cultural institutions so that their name was synonymous with generosity, not genocide.” • If you’re looking for an example of openly genocidal elites, here it is.

News of the Wired

“Glen Ford, Black Journalist Who Lashed the Mainstream, Dies at 71” [New York Times]. I wonder what Ford would think about his obituary appearing in the Times. “Glen Ford, who over a 50-year career was a leading voice among progressive Black journalists and a constant scourge of the liberal establishment, especially Black politicians like Barack Obama, died on July 28 in Manhattan. He was 71…. He took particular aim at the nexus of the mainstream news media and what he called the Black “misleadership” class. He argued that right-wing corporate interests bestowed money on certain centrist Black politicians, like Mr. Obama, whom he called “not the lesser of evils, but the more effective evil”; those leaders, he argued, then drew the attention of corporate-run news organizations, in the process marginalizing the interests of working-class Black people…. The outlets where Mr. Ford worked, many of which he ran and helped found, were independent and run on a shoestring. But thanks to his energy and leadership, they had an outsize impact in progressive circles…. His mother was an Irish-American communist and civil rights activist, while his father, known by his on-air name ‘the Deuce,’ was a disc jockey who hobnobbed with singers like James Brown, Jackie Wilson and Aretha Franklin. Glen dropped out of high school when he was 17 to join the Army, where he received his G.E.D. He became a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne and served for three years stateside.” • The 82nd Airborne! We and Black Agenda Report have lost two giants — Bruce Dixon and Glen Ford — in quick succession. I hope BAR is moving on in strength, and it will be interesting to see who comes up from the understory (as it were), now that these mighty trees have fallen.

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Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, (c) how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal, and (d) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi and coral are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please place it at the start of your mail in parentheses: (thus). Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. Today’s plant (RH):

RH: “Pond with lilies.” One can almost hear the frogs.

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. LifelongLib

    Getting “This site can’t be reached” error when I click any link on NC. Browser seems to work OK going directly to sites.

    1. LifelongLib

      Tried links with my Linux desktop browser (Pale Moon). Links work but it appears the response time is slow. Maybe my cellphone browsers are timing out…

      1. LifelongLib

        Sorry to cause trouble. Now think it’s a problem somewhere on my side. Had some email issues later.

  2. Geo

    “Either The Blob was ignorant of what would happen, or they sabotaged Biden. I’m guessing the latter. Why not expose that?)”

    This point was made on Krystal Ball and Saagar Enjeti’s show yesterday. https://youtu.be/9Qbxqq-7Dv4?t=1056 (link should direct right to the segment this is discussed).

    Mentioned how Pentagon had 18 months to plan withdrawal and did the same thing with withdrawal from Iraq to force Obama to stay in Iraq. Discuss how they most likely stalled on withdrawal intentionally to force Biden to stay in the war.

    1. Geo

      Also, Scott Ritter had an interesting take. Basic gist is the whole war was a lie and any awards and promotions dished out over the course of the war should be revoked: “You don’t get a medal for losing, and you damn sure don’t get a medal for lying to Congress, the president, the American people, and, most importantly, your troops.”


      Of course he’s been marginalized to having to write opeds for RT because why would American media platform the guy who called out Bush’s lies about nukes?

      And, of course what he suggests here won’t happen because the war was never about “winning” (whatever that would even be?) but about grifting.

      But, it’s a nice read anyway. Even brings up the Pat Tillman lie.

      1. Hepativore

        Before I forget, there is also an excellent interview with Spencer Ackerman on the Realignment, Sagaar’s show. They had a segment of the interview on Breaking Points earlier in the week but the full hour-long interview on the Realignment is eye-opening in terms of how warped the US has gotten since it started the “War On Terror”.

        You can find it here. Everybody should listen to it and I apologize for my tardiness in posting it.


    2. Sawdust

      It’s probably just simple incompetence. If the whole war was just one big graft machine, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the end is a total snafu.

      1. Katniss Everdeen

        Why “end” it then? Surely they’re not turning off the cash spigot because Trump and Pompeo made ’em do it.

        Something’s rotten in Denmark if you ask me.

      2. chuck roast

        “The fact that Burns was on an overseas trip suggests the agency didn’t think a collapse was imminent.”

        Yep, simple incompetence is about right. I am reminded of the CIA Soviet Strength Assessment just prior to the Politburo falling off a cliff. Of course the mighty, mighty, Soviet threat needed to be countered by more, and more cash-to-the-blob. Then all of a sudden it was…uh…no. What do these clowns do all day?

        Anyway, I’m guessing the former.

      3. Geo

        Sorry, this isn’t incompetence, this is malice. They’re not really bad at their jobs, they’re really good at them: their job is to sow instability to perpetuate need for “defense”.

        Maybe I’ve gone a bit too tinfoil-hatted but I just can’t believe this isn’t baked into their system at this point. Much like the FBI/DHS create terrorist threats to justify their presence, so does the DoD/CIA.

        This isn’t the first time we started a pointless war, failed, abandoned our allies, and moved on like a spoiled kid tiring of his old toys. It’s not even the second or the third. We do this every single time. Iraq (numerous times), Syria, Libya, Somalia, throughout Central America, Vietnam, Laos, and on and on all they way back to our founding when we turned on the Indigenous.

        This is who we are. We’re a people who laugh at Dennis Kucinich when he talks about a Department of Peace then cheer for and elect warmongers. We support invading places then lose interest soon as it looks like hard work. We don’t care about the hundreds-of-thousands that die during the wars then cry over the images as we flee the carnage because we’re forced, for a brief moment, to face our inhumanity.

        None of this is incompetence. It’s how our system designed by “the best and brightest” functions.

        (Sorry for the rant and I hope this isn’t a double post. My first attempt may have disappeared into the ether).

        1. Isotope_C14

          Always love to chime in on a Geo post – Fugazi lovers are a special people.

          “We’re a people who laugh at Dennis Kucinich when he talks about a Department of Peace then cheer for and elect warmongers”

          Kucinich or Gravel were the only choices in 2007/8. HRC was clearly a robot for the 0.01%, and I didn’t believe anything Obama said during his campaign.

          In retrospect, I guess I was right. It might have been so many years in the service industries that allowed me to spot a phoney a mile a way.

          I remember the media almost always focused on how he (Kucinich) had this beautiful wife and he was somehow not worthy. Tells you everything you need to know about corporate news.

        2. Nikkikat

          Right with you here GEO, it is how our system is designed. They been practicing since the end of World War 2.

          1. JTMcPhee

            Bearing in mind Operation Paperclip and how easily and quickly the CIA got up and running in places like Italy and Korea, and all the all-but-invisible sh!t the Empire’s minions were doing all through WW II that was “inconsistent with the Narrative,” I’d say “they” have been “practicing” (in the same way doctors “practice” medicine since way before Woodrow Wilson, all the way back to the Spanish American War and Manifest Density (sic).

        3. hunkerdown

          People do that when they play sports.

          To solve the problem of ulterior interest in politics, we need to ruin politics as a sport and tribal signifier.

      4. Daniel LaRusso

        Trump would be getting pelters if he withdrew like this.

        That interview where the adked Biden about the person falling formthe plane and he said “…it was 5 days ago”. Like it should just be forgotten about.

        Between this and Obama’s party where he had hundereds of guests without masks and all the private planes and limos whilst he says he’s a friend of the environment.

        I’m starting to believe there is a bias in the media. And I’ve never been one for conspiracies.

    3. Katniss Everdeen

      Lara Logan claims to Tucker Carlson that the current chaos in Afghanistan is the u.s.’ desired outcome.

      She maintains that there is plenty the u.s. could do to stop it, but they don’t. According to her, the taliban is controlled and supplied out of nuclear-armed Pakistan, which is bankrolled, at least in part, by the u.s., giving the u.s. leverage it, for some reason, is not using. She further claims that the taliban is aware that this is what’s happening.

      When you think about it, it’s pretty hard to believe that the u.s. has gone from bombing and killing at will for 20 years, to inexplicably skulking out of Bagram in the dead of night, and being powerless to clear a path from Kabul to the airport in just a matter of weeks. Not to mention leaving all that high tech weaponry for the taliban to use or distribute as they see fit.

      As per usual, much more here than meets the eye.


      PS. andrew cuomo and now biden being taken down in a matter of weeks. Interesting.

      1. Isotope_C14

        The billionaires want Kamala.

        She was their first choice, wonder if she’ll appoint HRC as her VP. That should make for some interesting 2022 midterms.

        1. Michael Ismoe

          Pete is still owed for his timely withdrawal in 2020. Secretary of Transportation isn’t going to cut it. He was complaining about housing costs the other day, He needs a day job with free housing. He is essentially Hillary without the philandering husband.

        1. Aumua

          Right wing media channels have been yelling at their listeners at volume 11 for some time about how Biden is finished, that he is an unmitigated disaster, that he has completely destroyed America in 8 months, etc. etc. on and on, ad nauseum, day after day. They are relentless, and they give their listeners no time to reflect on what they’re saying. It’s a list of talking points that they run down in a nonstop rant, and when they’re done, they start over. Now you could say that it’s just a reflection of the liberal mainstream media’s Trump coverage, and you wouldn’t be wrong. One bad turn deserves another I guess, but the truth? That’s just roadkill on the narrative highway.

          There are really two separate news coverages of the Afghanistan debacle: the Mainstream media MIC/CIA moaning endlessly about the pullout and implying heavily that we really shouldn’t leave, and then the Right-stream media which mostly just wants to git Biden and point out how foolish he is, and doesn’t really care about Afghanistan or Afghanis at all, and is probably also pro-endless-war underneath it all.

    4. Pelham

      I’ll go further than some others here and suggest that if there’s any suspicion at all that the generals and the intel community misled Biden or slow-walked withdrawal preparations that firings should be followed by prosecutions and, if deceptions are confirmed, imprisonment. Or worse.

      I’m not convinced that such a brutal scenario in Afghanistan was inevitable. And if we take Biden at his word (OK, that’s a big “if”) in the days leading up to these events, he had been advised that the Afghan army would hold out for a while. Yet I’ve been reading for years now that this wasn’t the case at all, that their military was riddled with no-shows and Taliban sympathizers and the like. So we’re supposed to believe that US intelligence and our military were the only unenlightened parties in this affair?!

      When the Joint Chiefs early in the Kennedy administration proposed false-flag operations to be blamed on Cuba and justify a US invasion, Kennedy quietly rejected the plans. What he should have done is expose the plotters and take appropriate and severe action against them. If Biden doesn’t saddle up and go after these characters, he’s inviting more of the same.

      1. Geo

        “Kennedy quietly rejected the plans. What he should have done is expose the plotters and take appropriate and severe action against them. If Biden doesn’t saddle up and go after these characters, he’s inviting more of the same.“

        Well said. I’ve always assumed no president would ever be willing to do that because there’s so many grassy knolls to avoid if they do. As Chuck Schumer said when Trump was speaking ill of our MIC “Let me tell you, you take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you.”

        But, it’s the only way this will ever be resolved.

      2. HotFlash

        I wonder if any of our multi-starred ‘retirees’ are thinking, “Ho, dictator! Way cooler gig than MSM pundit or corp board director.”

    5. Darthbobber

      My take is similar. When the Trump agreement was signed in February 2020, they saw this as not a real thing, and made few or no moves to implement it.

      After all, they had a good track record of succeeding at these things. Petraus successfully spun Obama from disengagement to surge in 6 months or so of 2009, and they stonewalled or slow-walked every non-bellicose initiative of Trump for the duration of that administration.

      Biden was careful during campaign season not to clarify that he was also on board with rapid withdrawal, and I’m sure a number of his foreign policy advisors thought he’d be as easy to roll as Obama had been. They didn’t really start to be disabused of this notion until somewhat after inauguration day, by which time a good year had been squandered. (this was probably the proximate cause of Biden slipping the deadline back to September. They’d deliberately done so little that the original deadline was indeed unmeetable by design.)

      And some faction of our snakepit was presumably encouraging Ghani’s intransigence, unless he really was that deluded. In spring of 2020, the Taliban were pushing an interim settlement that would give them about a third of key positions. He responded by starting the fighting season off with a military offensive that quickly turned into something else.

      After that spectacular failure their next proposal was up to going halvsies, but the Ghani government never did come to the table with a serious offer, and even as this fighting season commenced he just kept on with Baghdad Bob levels of militaristic posturing utterly disconnected from what everybody could see happening in the material world.

      In addition to sabotage, I suspect they were indeed ignorant until too late as to how fast it might move. The Russians were also surprised somewhat by the speed of events, though not by the end result.

      1. albrt

        Yes, when Lambert said “Either The Blob was ignorant of what would happen, or they sabotaged Biden” my first thought was “Why not both?”

        I think the Blob has decided that Joe Biden is just not blobby enough, so they will now try to force him out before the mid-terms in favor of Harris. Expect some leaks from unnamed sources about Biden’s mental status in 5, 4, 3, 2 . . . .

    6. Nikkikat

      Geo, I agree. They sabotaged Biden and now have their press put out all of CIA talking points. They will unfortunately push us into another adventure of death and destruction.

      1. Duke of Prunes

        Yup, seems like they’re already pivoting to Taiwan / South China Sea as the next “hot spot”

      2. voteforno6

        How? One thing this has revealed is that “they” are not nearly as powerful as some people assume, if Joe Freakin’ Biden can buck them.

        1. Aumua

          I don’t really know what actually going on here, but taking it on its face I once again gotta hand it to Biden, for seemingly standing up to the heat from both sides: the CIA/liberal/mainstream and the nutty vindictive Right. Getting out of there is the correct thing to do, and I don’t care how ugly the optics are (they’re pretty fricken ugly, admittedly).

    7. djrichard

      I dont think we’re anywhere near the political pain needed for Biden to start throwing his political bed partners under the bus.

  3. Matthew G. Saroff

    I’m confused about the pyrethrum study.

    Pyrethrum, and its cousin pyrethrin, are both widely used insecticides, not repellents.

    1. Harold

      I was puzzled by this, too, so looked it up in wikipedia, which says: “Although pyrethrin is a potent insecticide, it also functions as an insect repellent at lower concentrations. Observations in food establishments demonstrate that flies are not immediately killed, but are found more often on windowsills or near doorways. This suggests, due to the low dosage applied, that insects are driven to leave the area before dying.[20] Because of their insecticide and insect repellent effect, pyrethrins have been very successful in reducing insect pest populations that affect humans, crops, livestock, and pets, such as ants, spiders, and lice, as well as potentially disease-carrying mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks.”

    2. jo6pac

      Pyrethrin can be add to your wash and will keep fleas and others away from you. Pyrethrin breaks down in sun light and it’s very expensive. It’s also very dangerous in consternate form

      Pyrethrum is cheap and can used as spray I’m not sure about using in the laundry it is slightly oily and doesn’t break down with sun light.

      This just what I’ve learned in using it.

    3. Verifyfirst

      Wait, what??!!

      “Dong and her colleagues attached tiny electrodes to hairs on mosquitoes’ antennae”

      Electrodes…..attached to hairs……..on mosquitos’ antennae. How in the world did they do that?

  4. Geo

    “Williams sat behind bars for nearly a year before a judge dismissed the case against him last month”

    Yet the Sackler family roam free and the architects of our failed wars are elevated in media and politics…

    “Kill one man (allegedly), and you are a murderer. Kill millions of men, and you are a conqueror. Kill them all, and you are a god.”

    1. Tom Doak

      I got a giggle out of this line in Cory Doctorow’s piece:

      The Sacklers are worth billions – the family’s net worth exceeds that of other criminal dynasties like the Rockefellers.

      As if the Rockefellers suffered for their transgressions!

  5. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: 51% of the US is fully vaccinated, a big moment, breaking the psychological 51% barrier.

    Still wondering how someone who had two mRNA shots (vaccinated) and refuses the booster will be “classified.”

    What happens if 51% is as good as it gets and the number actually starts to decline? I guess they could buck it up with little kids. UGH.

    Krystal and Saagar are really not buyin’ the booster story. I’m thinking there could be trouble ahead on that front.


      1. PHLDenizen

        Me neither, dude.

        And to reiterate my question from yesterday, does anyone (IM Doc, GM) have any word on whether or not immunoresponses become increasingly violent with each subsequent booster? From what was described earlier, it sounds miserable.

        And I’m curious to see if the PMC will go full mortification of the flesh, insisting that the willful suffering of more severe and more frequent cytokine storms confers upon you the blessing of the Acela.

        Will the poor be expect to self-flagellate with a whip branded either Pfizer or Moderna in “service” to their elite overlords?

      2. tegnost

        On a whim today while I was in town I sat at one of those blood pressure testers in a drug store. When I got my first moderna there was an attendant asking if anyone wanted blood pressure taken, I said sure I’ll do it. it was crazy high, like the low number was 90+ Which I have never seen before, and the large number was similar in it’s extreme, can’t remember what cause I was shocked by the 90+. Fast forward to today? 115 over 70. I did it twice just to make sure. Not sanguine about the booster. On my second shot no one was asking about blood pressure.

      3. jr

        Not here either, my immune system took a serious hit after my Pfizer shots for no apparent reason. “Borderline” was the word my doctor used. I was vaccinated early; I’m going to let others go first this time…

    1. Nikkikat

      I took the j and j shot. But, I saw something the other day about how many of our wealthy congress are invested in Phizer. Told me everything I needed to know. They have pushed the MRNA from the beginning over J and J. Most of this push for boosters started coming from the drug companies NOT from scientist or medical community months ago.

  6. Louis Fyne

    in a rational world, Afghanistan should put to rest the hypothesis that the 3-letter agencies are the “Stonecutters” of the world. 80’s: failed to see the fall of the USSR, 90’s: take your pick: terrorism, Rwandan massacre, 00’s: Iraq WMDs, lost Bin in Laden, 10’s: Afghanistan.

    I’d prefer crowdsourcing US policy to the commentariat over the CIA or Beltway think tanks any day.

  7. john sweeney

    “Biden scrambles to tamp down panic over Afghanistan” ?? A PR offensive analogous to putting lipstick on a pig. The incompetent elites trying to make themselves look good as they wallow in their own filth. Washington debt-financed $2 trillion to “fight” a war that was launched on lies advanced by Washington, the Pentagon and the mainstream corporate media. $6.5 trillion total spent, approximately, if we factor in the interest costs by the time the $2 trillion of debt is paid off. Worst defeat in US history. The self-proclaimed “only superpower” retreated with its tail twixt its legs, whipped by Washington’s arrogant hubris and a relatively small group of rag-tag mountain guerrilla fighters. Thousands of young Americans killed for naught, many thousands more maimed for life, thousands of American families torn asunder forever with grief and so many young promising lives wasted. $2 trillion that should have been spent on American infrastructure – schools, roads, electrical grids and so much more that we need. Doesn’t matter what these elites call themselves, democrats, republicans, conservatives, liberals, moderates…whatever. A pox on them all. I’m soul-sick, fed up and weary. We as a country need to find the will and the way to rid ourselves peacefully of these creatures.

    1. Synoia

      I agree whole hardheartedly, except:

      if we factor in the interest costs by the time the $2 trillion of debt is paid off…

      MMT. There is no “cost, nor interest to be paid to a 3rd party.

    2. albrt

      At this point I don’t think the DC Blob can be gotten rid of except by getting rid of DC. Split up the U.S. into regions of people who are compatible enough to be a normal country and too small to think about idiotic ideas like invading Afghanistan.

      It will happen eventually, one way or another. Doing it soon and peacefully would be much better.

    3. Dirk

      As usual, Kunstler nails it:

      “We’ve become an ossified, administrative nomenklatura of Deep State flunkies as the Soviets were, and lately we’re just as lawless as they used to be, constitution-wise — e.g., the abolition of property rights via the CDC’s rent moratorium… the prolonged jailing in solitary confinement of January 6 political prisoners… the introduction of internal “passports.” The USA is running on fumes economically as the Soviets were. Our dominant party leadership has aged into an embarrassing gerontocracy. Is it our turn to collapse?”


      “Gerontocracy?” Feinstein, Biden, Pelosi, McConnell, Cardin, Sanders et al, have half a millennia of experience between them. Isn’t that what we want to chart the course of this nation for our children who will have the pleasure of paying off the many trillions borrowed in the last year?

  8. john sweeney

    ‘There are not reports that I am aware of that predicted a security force of 300,000 would evaporate in 11 days,’ General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Wednesday” Must be that Milley was too busy studying up on how to be more woke, stand out on social media and root out white extremism in the ranks. He doesn’t seem to be interested in other ethnic extremists in the ranks, but they do exist as anyone who serves or has served in the military can attest. I served in the Marine Corps towards the end of Vietnam (no, fortunately for me I was never in-country), and what has transpired in Afghanistan during the past two weeks eclipses the US retreat from Saigon by orders of magnitude. US lost in Korea in 1953, lost in Vietnam, lost in Iraq and now lost in Afghanistan. Grenada and Panama don’t count as ‘victories’ – too small potatoes. I’m left wondering when the land march out of Afghanistan to India will begin, and when Xi will order the PLA to seize Taiwan.

    1. Michael Ismoe

      Wasn’t he hiding in his bunker waiting for Trump to announce a coup d’etat? I remember distinctly that his oath of office to “preserve, protect and defend ” the Constitution required him to jump up on the ramparts and shake his head to the left and right and hand in his resignation. Some hero.

    2. Mildred Montana

      @john sweeney

      ‘There are not reports that I am aware of that predicted a security force of 300,000 would evaporate in 11 days,’

      Thought I’d tinker with this quote ever so slightly to make it more accurate:

      ‘There are not reports that I am aware of that a ????????? security force of 300,000 would evaporate in 11 days.’

      There. Fixed. Just reverse a couple of words and–voila!–the truth. That 300,000 strong security force failed to live up to the predictions of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and went AWOL. Oops.

      Predictions are for fools, which I guess is why the top US military brass keep making them.

    3. Darthbobber

      Milley being silly. It would be mighty strange if an intelligence report were so faux precise as to specify exactly 11 days. So his statement could be literally true without ceasing to be BS.

    4. K.k

      I just heard that 300,000 number is a gross exaggeration. The afghani officials and their puppet masters understood the number is closer to 50,000 for quite some time. And even many of those units would not have showed up to fight.

  9. Michael

    “Shohei Ohtani, ‘an incredibly special talent'” is an understatement of epic proportions.

    1. Howard Beale IV

      Jack Morris found out the hard way about talking about Ohtani with a oriental accent while covering the Angels & Tigers series in Detroit recently.

  10. jsn

    “Oddly, or not, mass hysteria is never considered as an explanation, despite multiple examples of mass hysteria in our elites since at least 2016”

    Actually, since the Salem Witch Trials.

    It underpins the foundations of “Our Democracy TM”

    1. chuck roast

      Actually, this phenomena was adequately described by Dan Rather in 1986. Rather was attacked on a NYC street by an assailant who was yelling, “What is the frequency, Kenneth?” It was later discovered that the assailant, Chung Juan Rosstrapovich had just come from a Chinese restaurant where he had almost O.D.d on the moo goo guy pan. Rosstrapovich, a Cuban national, had apparently fallen into delirium while reading a Chinese fortune cookie written in Cyrillic. Staggering out on the street, the Cuban whipped a couple of kung-fu moves on the unsuspecting Rather and put him out of commission. Subsequently, Rosstrapovich became Prisoner #1 at Guantanamo where he remains to this day. :-)

  11. allan

    Re: UPDATE “Democrats’ House Grip Relies on Holding Districts Trump Carried”

    I’ll wait until redistricting is complete to worry about this one.
    Until then, it’s all sound and fury,
    signifying nothing endless fund-raising by the Democratic Permacampaign Industrial Complex.

    [Maybe someone should ask the ex-CIA, fiscally responsible House Dems about their former coworkers
    could have bungled the Afghan so badly. $80 billion/year is real money.
    Government needs to be run like a family business, making hard decisions
    while tightening their belts around the dining room table.]

  12. RMO

    “Facebook wants you to hold your next meeting in VR” A short time ago I did a little VR headset research as I was considering trying it out for gaming. The Oculus Quest 2 stood out in reviews as being probably the best for price/performance… but it mandates that the user have a Facebook account and log in to it in order for it to work. That’s a non-starter with me (and the reviews made it clear that the reviewers thought it was a very strong negative too). The only alternative set that seemed worth a shot was around $1,500 so needless to say I won’t be trying VR (or the game Alex) for quite some time, if ever.

    Tech-related: Tesla is currently being investigated over Autopilot and Full Self Driving issues by both the NTSB and the FTC. That’s an impressive accomplishment.

    1. The Rev Kev

      This whole thing about distance conferencing is fraught with peril and more so with the collapse of things like business conferences. Even the Wizarding World is not immune to these problems but at least they have their own options-

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N7wB6C_PC38 (30 secs)

      But having to get a Facebook account to use the Oculus Quest 2? Agreed with you there. That is a bridge too far.

    2. Acacia

      As if a boring meeting in VR with kawaiiiiii avatars is going to be some yuuuge earth-shattering difference from a boring meeting on a Zoom call — aside from being schlupped into Faceborg, that is.

  13. Lee

    The reference to the Purdue family and the Benzo epidemic caused me to realize that I have a multi-generational relationship with them. My father became an oft times user of Benzedrine during WW2. Being rendered deaf in one ear from either his boxing career or a street fight (can’t remember which) he was 4F and with labor in short supply he regularly worked two jobs. Through much of the rest of his life he continued using the stimulant, taking the edge off with heavy drinking. His health wrecked, miserable, and not long for this world he shot himself in the head at age 55.

    Decades later, I was taking Oxycontin as prescribed by a pain management specialist for about a dozen years to manage chronic low back pain. My insurance coverage changed and the new insurer would not pay for Oxycontin so I asked the doctor if there were a generic that would do the same job. He then changed my prescription to morphine, which worked just as well at a tiny fraction of the cost. So, my previous insurer and I were getting grifted by the Purdues in collusion with my drug dealer doctor. I have since found other doctors and a safe, effective non-opioid medication that works great.

      1. Lee

        Low dose Naltrexone. While I do have spondylolisthesis and stenosis of the spine, that would typically cause mild, transient pain, the pain is amplified by chronic inflammation of the central nervous system associated with ME/CFS. Low dose Naltrexone blocks opioid receptors causing the body to upregulate endorphin production with a net pain relieving effect in these types of cases where there is nervous system dysfunction involved. There are quite few articles about this online.

  14. FreeMarketApologist

    Texas mansion with a ‘modern gentleman’s trophy room

    What is it with that ordinary sized pool, located so close to the house? For a proper gentleman’s ‘estate’, it should be away from the house with it’s own cabana rooms, so the noise of the kiddies (or drunk adults) doesn’t disrupt the tea party inside. The listing pix are worth a look through just to gawp at just how many errors of design and common sense there are.

    Still, the room with the raised stage area has some charm in that I imagine kids putting on musicales and entertainments (and a later nap on those murphy beds). For a family house that size, there are surprisingly few TVs, for which I might give credit to the family, but might better go to the real estate staging staff.

    1. Josef K

      My thought was that Kate Wagner of McMansion Hell would have a field day with this property’s interior, at the least.

  15. djrichard

    What Every American Needs to Know About the Congressional “Pay-For” Game (Part 1) Stephanie Kelton, The Lens

    Somebody needs to ask Biden if the exit from Afghanistan will help provide a “pay for” for the infrastructure package or if not that, other fiscal spending down the road. JTMcPhee disabused me of this earlier. Still, would love to see them squirm in answering that.

  16. CuriosityConcern

    UPDATE “US officials in Berlin struck by ‘Havana syndrome’ symptoms”

    Maybe a supplier/contractor of goods/material has done something different that is now causing these reactions?

  17. marku52

    Fluvoxamine is already added to the FLCCC protocols. Interesting about that new study, but it’s from Brazil, so obviously our media will ignore or censor it.

  18. Hiroyuki

    Ask yourself this regards together.
    Are you more or less likely to believe the trial since it showed some efficacy for Flovoxamine?
    that is not a jab at flovoxamine. the early data on it was observational BUT robust…

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > the early data on it was observational BUT robust

      I’m all for whatever works. However, I could wish that double standards on repurposed drugs were not so rife, and propaganda against disfavored drugs not so intense.

  19. FriarTuck

    RE: “Are the Democrats going to Benghazi Biden?”

    From the excerpt: If Biden had accelerated the removal of American civilians and Afghan workers, then that would have likely caused a collapse in morale in the Afghan army and an even quicker victory of the Taliban, and thus the same exact chaotic withdrawal.

    How can an army collapse faster than the Afghan army already did? (Not that it was reasonable to expect them to put up more of a fight, given the corruption of the government.)

    I’ve seen some compelling arguments that the current Afghan chaos is the result of the military and intelligence agencies slow walking things. Milley’s presser just lends additional credibility of that theory.

    Can I ask someone who is way more tuned in that me: why don’t heads roll? Why isn’t the Biden admin whipping out the scythe of doom and just up and firing anyone in decision making positions that failed? Are these people just that good?

    What happened “at the pleasure of the president (and/or CIC)”?

    1. The Rev Kev

      A slow, orderly retreat would have meant evacuating tens if not hundreds of thousands of Afghan collaborators to western countries. This sudden collapse means that that is no longer possible as any escapees are now bottle-necked through Kabul airport. Certainly the Aussie government has been slow-walking refugee applications from these people for months now. And by slow-walking I mean at a glacial pace.

  20. Robert Gray

    Biden Administration

    And the White House shared a new image of the president surrounded by his national security team, countering its much-maligned weekend photo of Biden appearing isolated at Camp David amid the erupting chaos in Kabul.

    • I’ve linked to this musical interlude before, but “Somebody take these knives outta my back!”

    In the early ’70s, I was studying in Madison. Summer of ’74. August 9th, Nixon resigned. The local hippie FM station broadcast the resignation speech live, then immediately played Randy Newman’s ‘Lonely at the Top’. We laughed and laughed. I still chuckle when I think of it now, all these years since.

    I’ve said it repeatedly since last November: Sleepy Joe will not make it through this term.

  21. chuck roast

    Thanks for the mosquito piece, but this summer I have been plagued by a new stinging insect menace that is extremely toxic. I have no idea what this creature is, nor do my friends. I will describe it thusly: it is about 1/8″ long and slim and slightly ovoid in shape. It is mostly colored green with a bit of yellow. It is colored brown on the bottom and is reticulated which allows for sinuous movement. It does not fly. It seems to have a brownish-red fan aft and certainly has a vicious pair of pincers forward. They are easy to squash after they have done the deed. Around 48 hours post-deed a big welt arises that is way, way itchy and demands scratching until the skin is broken. Both the itch and the welt can remain for more than two weeks.

    Anyone who has seen this vicious buggah’ or who can put a name to it, please post to roast post-haste.

    1. Rodeo Clownfish

      There is a Reddit thread called Whatsthisbug where you could poste a photo and possibly get a crowd-sourced ID on that critter.

    2. Janie

      No-see’ums. Midges. They are active at dawn and dusk. They are in the western U.S; I don’t know about elsewhere.

  22. Bat Flower

    I had an interesting talk with a friend who did a tour in Afghanistan as an aircraft mechanic in the Air Force. He says that any of the brighter grunts like him on the ground could probably have predicted that the western financed Afghan army would melt away at the first whiff of having to stand up as a force. The “intelligence failure” of not predicting the collapse of the existing government was really a systemic failure: you’ll get nowhere within the military by telling your superiors what they don’t want to hear, even if it’s the plain obvious truth. Career suicide. Thus the only people who actually know what’s happening at ground level not only won’t be listened to, they won’t be asked, and if they offer that unpopular truth unbidden, will be punished for it. I doubt this dynamic is unique to the Americans or coalition forces there. Any rigidly hierarchical institution like a military will be prone suffer the same failures as failing in this way is the path of least resistance for every individual within that type of hierarchy. Nobody wants the truth if it comes at a cost to tell it up the chain.

  23. HotFlash

    Well, the City of Toronto is now officially right-thinking WRT vaccines. All city employees mandated, plus some ‘vaccine passport’ thing in the works. Per the CBC. I expect to soon be an unperson.

  24. Michael

    Re: Afghanistan and Biden

    Has anyone in the Democratic Party, the Media, and the cocktail party intelligencia considered the consequences should the Taliban (not a monolith by any means, but lets just view them as such) prove capable managers of an Afghan state and mean what they say regarding “civil rights”?

    1. HotFlash

      The guys you mention, probably not. For me, I would conclude that the Afghani’s have their country back.

      1. albrt

        It seems pretty clear to me that 95% plus of Afghanis who are willing and able to fight are OK with the Taliban taking over. If there were enough resistors for them to even be able to identify each other in a crowd, things would not have gone the way they did.

        The unhappy folks seem to be the ones who have adopted mainstream American values – demanding lots of rights but expecting someone else to do the fighting.

        1. RockHard

          demanding lots of rights but expecting someone else to do the fighting.

          I wish this site had a like button for sentiments like this.

        2. Milton

          I’m sure the PTB are pretty bummed there isn’t a region within Afghanistan that can’t be flipped into an autonomous state, ala South Sudan, Kosovo, or Eritrea. Creating neoliberal bastions from the ashes of smoking heck holes is a time worn tradition of late.

    1. tegnost

      If anyone other than an Approved California PMC is in charge the clocks will stop running on time,
      and that would be very, very bad. Very bad.

  25. newcatty

    It would be OK for the CA PMC. They have their own sense of time in their own bubble worlds. Clock time is just for the little people, who clock-in for work. One of most self-absorbed persons I knew kept her own clock. She was so important in her own eyes, that she invariably was late, even for important dates. First time, she had rationalizations. When not pressed for detail, after that it was just “to be expected ” with her busy life! We called it “( her first and last name) time! She left our lives some time later, after her divorce. Good riddance, as is sometimes said. Oh, its time to clock- out . Good evening.

  26. Amfortas the hippie

    in texas, those maps(https://healthdata.gov/download/gqxm-d9w9/application%2Fpdf),
    first time this goround/wave that i’m seeing the previous hotspots near me…clustered along I-35…going orange….while counties adjacent to me, and several counties outwards from the I-35 corridor…go red.
    ergo: the cities/core quickly start getting things done(by defying Covidabbot’s orders)…as it spreads out to the Periphery.
    this is Actionable Intelligence.
    i can put those two, week-apart, images side by side for my boys, and really drive home that “it Ain’t Over”.

    it’s been months since i’ve had the breathing space to call and yell at the governor’s office(or any other elected’s)…for whatever that is worth, aside from getting e on yet another List.
    but the head of steam is building up over this…especially since Covidabbot got the covid, himself.
    (i sincerely hope he’s well…just not TOO well…too bad repubs don’t really understand the concept of Irony)

    1. The Rev Kev

      It’s worse down our way. In your neck of the woods you have been fighting this virus off for over 18 months. Down here we have been mostly virus free but now it is being deliberately let free to run and all these pundits are on TV now saying that we should just learn to ‘live with the virus’ when we hit 70% vaccinations. Vaccines will save us all and lockdowns will be basically illegal with all restriction thrown away. And like with your own wife, my wife has medical vulnerabilities as well. As the Delta strain has a taste for children some experts are saying that we have to give them mRNA vaccines too. Pregnant women as well. Talk about Paradise Lost.

  27. Amfortas the hippie

    and Damn!
    this:” Now, the administration is facing probes from three congressional committees helmed by senior Democrats and aggressive efforts by Republicans to exploit the morass overseas.”…from the politico thing on afghan fallout:

    would that they could so rapidly mobilise to learn why i can’t get healthcare…or legally sell an egg.
    Frak the demparty’s corporate whores.
    they’ll never get a penny…or a vote…from me, again.
    (they’ll be fine…i abandoned them loudly 2 months into obama’s first term)

    1. Jen

      Well, now I definitely need to set aside a few minutes of my time to call my lamentable team D delegation tomorrow and leave them a large piece of my mind.

  28. Amfortas the hippie

    lambert:” 24 Extreme Fear (previous close: 25 Extreme) [CNN]. One week ago: 42 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Aug 19 at 12:41pm. Surely not Afghanistan?”

    yes, partially, i reckon…due to a bad case of Sudden Narrative Death, which has become somewhat pandemic in it’s own right, these last several years.
    all at once, some important part of the Narrative Framework dissolves into an incoherent state that nobody outside of flatearthers and white ethnostate enthusiasts and ordinary Libertarians can ignore without lots of very uncomfortable Cognitive Dissonance.
    Folks are falling through the funhouse mirrors on the flimsy walls, and landing face-first in the Mud of Reality, outside…and it sucks…there’s horse and lion and elephant shit in that muck!…expect a new domestic threat…maybe not antivaxxers or “trumpians”(too real), but something unexpected.
    heterodox cultural anthropologists and feral philosophers(ie: the Real Left) are my guess for who the new Judas Goats will be.

    that’s fine…i’m prepared.
    i’ve expected this from the get go.

  29. Amfortas the hippie

    “For every 1000 confirmed cases for COVID-19, at least 70 hospitalizations, 50 mechanical ventilations and five deaths were prevented.”
    from the https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2052297521000792#sec5

    doesn’t match with this, just above in the same thing:”The apparent yet likely positive results raised ethical concerns on the employment of further full placebo controlled studies in early-stage COVID-19″
    maybe demonstrating that RCT’s aren’t necessarily of much utility in an emergency?
    i’m no data scientist…i hate numbers(and money) and slogged through the 2 statistics classes i took in college(A’s) as best i could….
    but i’m not seeing the “ethical concern”, here….
    is it that none of them are currently subject to Patent Hegemony?
    if so, that’s a rather forceful shoehorning of Market into Ethics(sic).

    1. urblintz

      I think it means ethical concerns about giving an infected person a placebo at all, in light of this safe treatment protocol that gave positive results. Is that what you mean?

    2. bradford

      Sorry, need to push the right buttons.

      What the study did is not a RCT; they tried, in various ways, to account for the differences in the groups of test subjects afterwards. What they meant by “ethical concern” is that the treatment looked (to them) to be so effective that giving placebo rather than the treatment to anybody in the future would be unethical.

      The reason (or one reason) some people insist on a RCT is that now the question is “how well did they account for the differences in the initial groups,” and that can be argued back and forth forever. That’s not to say that I think there is a glaring error in their work, it’s just that with a RCT that question doesn’t arise.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        thanks:” What they meant by “ethical concern” is that the treatment looked (to them) to be so effective that giving placebo rather than the treatment to anybody in the future would be unethical.”

        that makes sense, and further damns our “leadership” for the rent-seeking i condemn them for reflexively.

      2. Hiroyuki

        if it is properly randomized and properly blinded and the right treatment is given.
        RCTs might be the gold standard but mostly they are not all gold

  30. bradford

    Once you strongly suspect that the treatment works, it’s unethical to put people (or even leave people) in the placebo group.

  31. Mikel


    “We are seeing COVID patients and we are seeing car accidents and we are seeing kids come in with normal seasonal viral infections. And we are seeing normal life come into the emergency department along with the extra surge of COVID patients, so it is causing that crisis,” said Dr. Mark Rosenberg, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians.

    In Arizona, a special COVID-19 hotline is getting desperate calls from hospitals in Wyoming, Arkansas, Texas and California who are in search of bed space…”

    The root issue was never addressed. Just “step right up and get your shots.”
    Don’t let something like H5N1 break out…

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      couldnt make yer link work:

      i’ve been a Bela Fleck fan since i was little.

      and while we’re at the music thing:



      i’m currently at the Wilderness Bar, having already jumped in the pool after dealing with critters for the night…drying off nekkid at the bar…barlights, even….worrying over whether i can have another beer or two…leaving at a leisurely 8am,lol…for san antone, again.
      i’ll tell stepdad’s epic tale when it resolves.
      know that mom’s actually listening to my council, and even writing down my turns of phrase, in her ongoing crusade against the rent-seeking incompetence of the private specialty hospital(va contract, being bought up by PE) where he was supposed to go for rehab, but that instead put him in a coma, via prescription milking(lets give him every drug he’s ever taken!…and bill for it!!).

  32. The Rev Kev

    “CIA director was traveling in Middle East when Kabul fell”

    He wasn’t the only one. There was a 22 year-old British student who went on holidays to Afghanistan last week because it was listed as one of the most dangerous places on the planet and he reckons that he had a great time before being evacuated-


    He says that he wants to go to North Korea next. At least he will have a few stories to dine out on.

  33. Amfortas the hippie

    and i’ve wanted to incorporate a few beds of chrysanthemums out here forever(and camelia sinensis, too)…but am only now getting around to getting to a point where i can do perennial plantings of anything but trees.
    once, when i first came here, 26 years ago, we only had a limited supply of Culex mosquitos…the big house skeeters that fly around in the open at night, and breed in beer cans and tires.
    these were mostly a problem in the one town…we still don’t have those out here, 11 miles north of town.
    asian tiger(aedes egyptii) showed up around 15 years ago…first in town, and now even way out here.
    they come out in the late afternoon(you can tell because they prefer ankles, back of knees, and wrists for their gorging)…breed in the bushes…and stay close to cover…thus, aren’t flying around when the malathion spraying trucks come through the barrio in town.

    the Sitting Places…the bar and environs, Panyard, Patio, and even such places Across the Road all have little oil lamps with citronella infused kerosene…and i had been trying to root out a bunch of citronella geraniums, until the February Ice Age killed them all(inside my house, no less) …but i reckon that chrysanthemums might be a deterrent, as well.
    would be cool, regardless, if i had a source of a relatively safe and effective organic pesticide on-site.
    i used the commercial pyrethrum for grasshopper control for the first 4 years of the still ongoing biblical plague of locusts(much better this year, now that the birds and lizards and such are back).
    breaks down right-quick in sunlight/rain…and doesn’t persist enough to cause ancillary problems.
    i always made a point to run the big sprinklers over all the beds in the pre-dawn jointwalk time/Hour of Scampering(https://babylon5.fandom.com/wiki/Vorlon_hours)…so that by midday heat, the hoppers would all be up on top of everything, drying out, while most of the good bugs were not so positioned(dragonflies, at that time period are all flying around), so i could pretty much target the hoppers.
    likely pyrrhic and ineffective in the long run…i got satisfaction at the sight of all the dead hoppers(got ’em before they could mate, let alone lay eggs*), but it was the birds (including the newer chickens, and expanded guinnea fleet, and the wild birds especially) that did it.)

    speaking of Good Bugs…i’m noticing a lot of real big Ladybugs…in August!.
    perhaps the weird weather(cooler and wetter than normal) has allowed them to merely grow to twice their normal, for here, size?

  34. Stillfeelinthebern

    Information releases today in Wisconsin:

    The data for July 2021 show 125.4 cases per 100,000 fully vaccinated people, compared to 369.2 cases per 100,000 unvaccinated people. Hospitalizations were also much lower for those who are vaccinated, at 4.9 per 100,000, compared to 18.2 per 100,000 for the unvaccinated.

    The greatest difference is shown in death rates, with more than 10 times as many deaths for unvaccinated people in July — 0.1 per 100,000 fully vaccinated people, versus 1.1 per 100,000 unvaccinated.

    The DHS dashboard also shows breakthrough COVID-19 cases among fully vaccinated people increasing from 56.6 per 100,000 in February to 125.4 per 100,000 in July. Over the same period, cases among the unvaccinated remained at a much higher level but didn’t see a similar increase.

    1. FluffytheObeseCat

      Thanks for this. The vaccines aren’t great but they tamp down deaths and illness. Their impact wanes with time, but hasn’t yet completely dissipated. We don’t know yet if they will lose essentially all impact in a couple of years. All pretty much just like advertised.

      1. Daniel LaRusso

        The vaccines were “advertised” as stopping the spread of COVID. They are not doing that … as far as I can see in my part of the world.

        I don’t remember a single person over here at the start of the vaccine program saying “you might still get it, you might still pass it on, you might not die or go to hsopital”

  35. urblintz


    “A full course of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was just 39% effective at preventing infections and 41% effective at preventing symptomatic infections caused by the Delta Covid-19 variant, according to Israel’s health ministry, down from early estimates of 64% two weeks ago.

    The figures, based on data from an unspecified number of people between June 20 and July 17, are significantly lower than previous estimates of the vaccine’s efficacy against other variants, which initial clinical trials found to be 95%.

    The Israel findings also conflict with several other studies assessing the vaccine’s performance against the Delta variant, which indicated only slightly diminished degrees of protection against infection and mild illness (between 80% and 90%), including peer reviewed research from Public Health England published Wednesday.

    The vaccine still provides very high levels of protection against hospitalization (92%) and severe illness (91%) caused by the Delta variant, the ministry said.”

    1. bradford

      But see the discussion from yesterday’s Water Cooler regarding Simpson’s Paradox; when the over 50 and under 50 groups are considered separately, their individual efficacies still look pretty good. That was for some (earlier?) Israeli data.

      So don’t panic quite yet…

      1. Hiroyuki

        it is ALL observational data. And confounders are wrapped tightly to such data.
        for example: who are the 90+ year olds who did not get the vaccine? you can suggest they might be different than those who did. Were they too well too worry? Or were they too sick to bother?

    1. marym

      It’s probably good PR to waive the reimbursement in this case, but it is a legal requirement. Repatriation loans aren’t unique to the US or to this situation. No doubt if it weren’t the law, people would complain about free stuff to private citizens who chose to live/travel/work in a dangerous environment, and unfair to people who were able to make and pay for their own travel arrangements.

  36. RockHard

    Residents of Martha’s Vineyard would love have Afghan refugees.

    Well yeah I bet the refugees would work for peanuts in all those understaffed restaurants

  37. VietnamVet

    The Daily COVID-19 deaths graph sure looks like the start of a Tsunami wave even if the black line has yet to be drawn. If it crashes over the USA, the vaccines failed. The rising anger, unrest, and running amok will become uncontrollable.

    California is interesting. Does corporate propaganda win one for Gavin Newsom or can anyone else win on September 14th?

    It is completely apparent is that the public health is absolutely of no concern; only extracting more money from the population. The Sackler Family pushing OxyContin addiction is not an abnormality. The family is one and the same as the corporate/state ruling elite. The fall of the Empire (Afghanistan in eleven days — Iraq and Syria are next), western wildfires, supply shortages, missing workers, and an overwhelmed healthcare system are the new normal. The unvaccinated are the new abominated.

    Californians could start the restoration of good governance and save the Union.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      the Goddess Nemesis finally getting around to mowing our far flung empire that nobody wants to believe exists is a welcome sight, for me.
      we were all lied to, as children…we are not…and have never been..a Republic…let alone a “Democracy”.
      may the balkanised fragments do better.
      the very moment i hear about Texas seceding from the Union, I will secede from Texas…a microstate Hermit Kingdom.
      the (future) foreign minister post is still vacant.
      room and board, and i’ll attempt to whip up some credentials when the time comes.
      (perhaps in Klingon…)

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        and i just heard that Nanci Griffith died:

        like a week ago.
        I jammed a little with her, back in the day.
        sweet woman.
        almost pathologically authentic.
        pretty much exactly as she comes across in the live shows on youtube(Austin City Limits is the best)
        next time there’s beer, i’ll raise a glass.
        RIP, and all.

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          and my Dog!
          rummaging around in Nanci’s life, she was married to Eric Taylor, whom nobody has ever heard of, but is also one of my favorite folk type songwriter guys.
          he died last year.
          one of his albums, Shameless Love, remains in my top 5 favorite albums list…after almost 40 years.
          can’t hardly find it online…but now i learn that my vinyl original copy is worth $200.

          the title track and East Texas Moon are two of my favorite songs, ever.
          “and it’s shameless love makes a thief outta me, catch me, chain me to the prison walls, and i’ll rust the chains with salty water…shameless love will set me free”

          “east texas moon, almost louisiana lord but not quite, enough light, to stay between the lines…east texas moon…shinin down on rooftops yes and backyards, beerjoints…dogs bark and yer fine”


  38. witters

    Lambert, re your question about the article in “New Muicroboes, New Infection.” I sent your question/concern to a medical scientist friend. Here is his reply:

    This is not clear in the last sentence of the Abstract which says “… precluded our study from continuing employing full placebo in early COVID-19”. It may mean (I hope it means) that the study continued with the treatment given to more patients sourced from the Pre-AndroCoV-Trial as well as additional infected patients, but without a placebo group. This is not uncommon when a trial of a new therapy shows such strong potentially life-saving results that a point is reached during the study where the control groups also receive the same treatment. On another note, these non-vaccine results do look good with a 100% reduction (i.e. zero) in respiratory complications, hospitalization, mechanical ventilation, deaths and post-COVID manifestation in 585 patients. I hope we hear more about this.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Thank you very much. This was my question:

      So, if I read this correctly, the results of the nitazoxanide, ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine combo were so good they stopped the trial. The methodology is above my pay-grade. But can we please stop flinging the “horse paste” and “bleach” smears?

      The answer:

      It may mean (I hope it means) that the study continued with the treatment given to more patients sourced from the Pre-AndroCoV-Trial as well as additional infected patients, but without a placebo group.

      That’s how I read it, combined with the Abstract.

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