Links 8/19/2021

25-foot-tall rubber duck suddenly appeared in a Maine harbor. Residents have no idea why. Business Insider (Kevin W)

“Neighbors got really pissed off” by Frank Gehry’s Santa Monica home, architect reveals Dezeen. Not keen about it but a lawsuit by someone not on an abutting property seems over the top.

Windows 11 Is Making It Absurdly Difficult to Change Browsers Gizmodo (Kevin W)

Autophagy: Balancing zinc and iron in plants

Welcome to the Pyrocene – The fiery world we’ve created Grist (furzy)

“Everyone wants to do the model work, not the data work”: Data Cascades in High-Stakes AI Google Research (dk)

Baby Teeth Collected Six Decades Ago Will Reveal the Damage to Americans’ Health Caused by US Nuclear Weapons Tests Antiwar (Kevin W)

Why sports concussions are worse for women Nature (Dr. Kevin)

Find Your Soul The Baffler (Anthony L). I’m lucky if I can find my way out of bed in the morning.

Finding Fukuyama’s Ends Hedgehog Review (Anthony L)


Man Sentenced for Smuggling 80 Pounds of Speed Disguised as COVID Vaccine Vice

Kids Can Recover From Missing Even Quite A Lot Of School Scott Alexander (UserFriendly)

Israel hits six-month high with more than 8,000 new daily COVID cases Haaretz (furzy)

Deaths Data Shows 80% of South Africans May Have Had Covid Bloomberg

Four hundred years of melancholy—why Robert Burton’s masterpiece speaks to our pandemic age Prospect Magazine (Anthony L)


How does COVID-19 affect the brain? A troubling picture emerges. National Geographic (David L)

NIH study shows no significant benefit of convalescent plasma for COVID-19 outpatients with early symptoms NIH

Covid-19: Children born during the pandemic score lower on cognitive tests, study finds BMJ

How Chinese pressure on covid origins probe shocked WHO — and led Tedros to push back Washington Post (furzy). The US never would have allowed an investigation of the sort the WHO proposed had the shoe been on the other foot. What is also forgotten in that China has invested a lot, propaganda-wise, in blaming Covid on the US and is continuing in this vein. Seen this August 6 CNN story: China doubles down on baseless ‘US origins’ Covid conspiracy as Delta outbreak worsens. So proving ANY Chinese origin, whether zoonotic or lab leak, would be decidedly unwelcome.


Vietnam’s Covid stumble threatens economic boom Asia Times. Resilc: “Great photo”


From Charles Ferguson’s newsletter (he of Inside Job and No End in Sight fame), emphasis original:

Case growth in high vaccination areas. Most national media coverage and government statements have portrayed the Delta surge in both cases and hospitalizations as primarily driven by states with low vaccination rates and/or anti-masking laws, implying that states with higher vaccination rates and/or stronger regulation are being spared. This is flatly false. Over the last month, the state with the highest growth rate in new covid cases in the entire U.S. is Vermont, which also has the highest vaccination rate of any U.S. state. Covid cases in Vermont grew nearly a factor of ten in the last month (from a seven day average of 10 cases on July 12 to a seven day average of 95 on August 12 – and 126 new cases on August 12 alone). Over just the last two weeks ending August 12, high vaccination states with higher covid case growth rates than Texas and Florida include not only Vermont (263% growth in the last two weeks) but also Hawaii (176% growth over the last two weeks), Oregon (144%), Washington state (146%), New York (108%), and Washington DC (158%), versus Texas with 72% growth in covid cases over the two weeks ending August 12, and Florida with only 50% growth. California is slightly behind Florida with 48% growth.

Furthermore, high-vaccination states are also experiencing high growth in hospitalizations. The seven day average for hospitalizations over the two weeks have increased 425% in Vermont, 140% in Hawaii, 70% in Washington state, and 128% in Oregon. This is not to say that vaccination rates and masking policy are unimportant. Without question, the policies of Florida, Texas, and other “resistant” states have worsened their problems, and the health care systems of Florida and Texas are already under severe stress:

Questions and answers on Biden’s new booster shot plan The Hill

U.S. Hospitals Are Running Out Of A Crucial Covid Drug Amid Delta Surge And Worldwide Shortages Forbes

How to Actually Get a Trump Voter Vaccinated Vice. Resilc: “How about black Biden voters? Maybe Obama can get off his Martha Vineyard’s ass and promote the vax???????/”

Deer in 4 states have been exposed to the coronavirus, USDA study shows. What does that mean for humans? USA Today (Kevin W)


Huawei exec’s extradition hearing in Canada comes to a close International Business Times (furzy)

Xi Sends a Warning to Investors With Delayed Huarong Lifeline Bloomberg

Old Blighty

Five accurate ‘Remoaner’ predictions that Brexiters chose to ignore Daily Mash

Scotland’s soaring budget black hole casts fresh doubt on independence Independent (Kevin W)


A bald-faced lie’: Biden is slammed for now declaring Kabul ‘chaos’ was inevitable after months of claims it was NOT: Snaps in car crash interview after questions on Afghans falling from planes Daily Mail

U.S. forces can’t help Americans flee to Kabul airport, Pentagon chief says CNBC

Chinese social media users mocked the US troop withdrawal in Afghanistan, saying the Taliban takeover was ‘more smooth than the presidential transition in the US’ Business Insider

We Failed Afghanistan, Not the Other Way Around Matt Taibbi. Per corruption on the US side, Taibbi is correct and then some. This has been endemic in US operations in the Middle East since at least the Gulf War. For instance, see this 2007 story in Vanity Fair about how Alan Grayson, before he ran for Congress, in his capacity as a lawyer and US contracting expert, filed a qui tam suit on the horrific grifting by US contractors in Iraq. What was most remarkable is the DoJ, in stark contrast with just about any other big ticket, well documented suit alleging theft in government contracting, refused to join the action. We also regularly mention the US inability to account for Pentagon spending, see this Cynthia McKinney clip to illustrate how long this has been going on. McKinney being ousted for showing too much ‘tude (such as towards the Capitol Police and AIPAC) always looked like trumped up charges, that it was her poking at the Pentagon was the real proximate cause. And generally, looks like the looting was a feature, not a bug.

The ‘Anonymous Sources’ Are Engaged in a Monumental Ass-Covering Campaign on Afghanistan Esquire (resilc)

George W. Bush Spends Sleepless Night Wondering If He To Blame For Long-Term Collapse Of Texas Rangers The Onion

Through its misuse of military power, the United States has made a terrible mess in Afghanistan Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft

Struggle to evacuate Afghans from Kabul airport BBC. Single source: “…the Taliban is only allowing foreigners into the airport, and is keeping out Afghans approved to evacuate with the Americans.”

Taliban in power may find themselves fighting their own insurgents Guardian. Resilc: “Running a non-country ain’t ez.”

The Taliban may have seized biometric data that can ID US allies in Afghanistan The Verge. We ran a tweet on this a few days back, but important not to miss.

The US Is Removing Records of Its War in Afghanistan From the Internet Vice. Closing the barn door after the horse is in the next county.

Silicon Valley scrambles to find a unified approach to the Taliban Politico (resilc)

Afghan refugee crisis headed for Europe Asia Times (Kevin W)

Germany scrambles in late attempt to evacuate Afghans DW

Afghanistan disaster puts intelligence under scrutiny The Hill

The Afghanistan Narratives Epsilon Theory (Randy K)

Ignore The Fake “Experts” — The Real “Catastrophe” In Afghanistan Was Always The War Itself Michael Tracey (UserFriendly)

Israel battles huge wildfire near Jerusalem BBC (David L)


Kushner associate pardoned by Trump charged with 2 felonies in New York The Hill (resilc)


Federal judge throws out U.S. approval of ConocoPhillips Alaska oil project Reuters. A small bit of good news.

12 Ways to Break the USA. Atlas of Prejudice (resilc)

California Drought Hits World’s Top Almond Producer Smithsonian (David L)

This map shows where cryptocurrency is taking off around the world CNBC (Kevin W)

COVID-19 is causing yet another shipping bottleneck in China, driving container rates through the roof MarketWatch. You heard this a while back at NC.

The household and the state MR Online (Anthony L)

The Pret Index: Wall Street Latte Sales Approaching Bear Market Bloomberg (resilc)

Class Warfare

There’s No Alternative to Cultural Appropriation Freddie deBoer (UserFriendly)

Antidote du jour (Seanán). Handsome pair:

And a bonus:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Carla

    Just ran across this:

    Headline: ‘It’s not a film about a virus’: a shocking documentary on Covid mishandling

    “I hope that they can see this film and realise that it’s not a film about a virus or Covid and they can see through the pandemic and realise all the problems that exist in our societies, whether it is in China or in the US, and how invisible misinformation, propaganda and censorship exist in our normal everyday life,” [filmmaker] Wang adds.

    1. Jane Atwood

      Thank you, it looks from the (well done) trailer, that this might be even useful to watch with some of my untrusting family who are holding off on getting vaccines.

  2. zagonostra

    >Trump interviewed on Afghanistan

    I didn’t vote for Trump nor do I support him. But after reading the transcripts from several interviews he gave on Afghanistan withdrawal debacle I realized more than ever that the Russiagate operation did way more damage to this country than we will know for many years to come.

    Trump has been excised from the consciousness of half the country. You would think that his views on Afghanistan would be pertinent and worth listening to, however self-serving they might be.

    When he says that Biden is “not running the government anyway. They have a cabal that runs government, a group of people” that that would be of some little concern. Of course he isn’t going to identify who those “people” are.

    Whatever you think of Trump, it just seems odd that we have allowed Silicon Valley to make sure that at least half the country never hears anything he says. Of course you can still listen to the interviews he gave yesterday to Hannity and Maria Bartiromo on Fox, but who of your liberal acquaintances actually goes there?

    Would Trump have arranged for a less humiliating and demoralizing withdrawal? Reading the transcript he seems to have had a different approach, anyway it’s water under the bridge, a bridge that is on the precipice of collapse.

    (I can’t stand Hannity so I have to read interview and you obviously have to work at separating the wheat from the chafe)

    1. Michael Ismoe

      Would Trump have arranged for a less humiliating and demoralizing withdrawal?

      How about if he waged a humiliating and demoralizing continuation of the war? Why are we so concerned about HOW Biden got out instead of WHY we were there for 20 years? When you stop beating your wife, does anyone ask how your fists feel?

      1. Keith

        Because international politics is a kaleaoscope, where one piece moves, it causes all the others to shift. An orderly retreat saves face and allows confidence in the deep state, the poo show shows the US is hallowed out and incapable of basic things, like evacuating your own citizens. This sloppy pull out has the potential to have effects that we mzy not want, off the top of my head it could lead to creased tensions in the S China Sea, conf,icts with Israel and Iran and for Saudis to start improving their defense, especially given their poor showing in Yeman.

        1. JTMcPhee

          Saudis improve defense, HOW? They’re worse that the Afghan situation, a bunch of pampered princes and nowhere near enough men anyway to field any substantial force. They depend on US troops as the mercenaries that provide security and pay billions for the “privilege” of protecting the oil and gas extraction that makes the Saudis arrogantly and filthy rich. A lot of the Saudi casualties in Yemen and at home were Arab mercenaries.

          1. Keith

            Nukes. Allegedly, part of the reason they financed Pakistan’s bomb was for the tacit agreement that when requested, they could call on the Pakis to deliver.

          2. VietnamVet

            You can’t get a much worse of a Crown Prince than MbS yet he still rules the House of Saud. The US military trainers and contractors in Syria and Iraq are in an untenable position. These occupations will end shortly as the pandemic, climate change disasters plus supply and worker shortages worsen in the Homeland.

            In order to remain United, a functional US public health system is required to treat all Americans and to end the pandemic. This will cut health expenses in half but will end the exploitation of Americans by for-profit medicine. This requires government be run and by for the people, something the global oligarchs will fight to their dying breaths.

            The Sunni Sheiks are in a precarious position bribing their tribes to remain loyal while torturing upstart princelings and with no hegemon to protect them from Shiites. A Shia, Sunni & Jewish Holy War would end the Middle East oil flow. North America (if a nuclear holocaust is avoided) would then have to re-engineer its energy sources at the same time as the US federal government collapses.

        2. Tom Doak

          Or it could lead to effects we may want, off the top of my head like showing our military and intel complex to be a bunch of grifters who should be shown the door.

          1. Keith

            We didn’t already know that? I wish these epic failures would result in cutting funding and terminations (including clawbacks on retirement benefits), but the sad thing with govt is failure encourages growth, because the solution is always through more money at the problem. 9/11 is a classic example, monumental intelligence failure that kills thousands of Americans. The net result, agencies fo the deep state got bigger and more funding, resulting in those that allowed this too happen getting promotions and fatter paychecks (Bush II liked throwing money around, including on federal pay raises).

    2. Carolinian

      Thanks for link although “Mike Pompeo, a brilliant guy” does provoke the gag reflex. Trump may be off Facebook and Twitter but Fox has the viewers who are likely to vote for him anyway should he unfortunately seek a rematch. Meanwhile there’s a move to try to lawfare San Diego’s OAN–aka the Trump channel–out of existence due to their challenging Dominion.

      Unless the elites can conjure a unified front of the billionaires versus the Trumpies the censorship drive is unlikely to work. Nor should it. There’s no reason we on the sidelines should be cheering on “the more effective evil.”

    3. cocomaan

      allowed Silicon Valley to make sure that at least half the country never hears anything he says

      If people are going to chain themselves to social media as a matter of managing their news flow, it’s their own damn fault. I hate social media giants, I hate Silicon Valley (A View To A Kill is one of my favorite James Bond movies, even though Roger Moore is crazy old in it), I hate the tech execs, etc.

      But I’ve quit most social media and so have others I know. It’s entirely possible to lead a fantastically informed life without it.

      People have let themselves become slaves to convenience. I wish it wasn’t happening, but these people reify their decision every day and that’s their own damn fault.

    4. oglenn22

      Afghanistan, Unintended Good:

      We only have a few days of the Taliban in charge of Afghanistan but it looks like they’ve learned all the lessons we couldn’t teach the puppet government we propped up. They are organized, they offer amnesty, they promise to keep the peace, they’re hard on corruption, they seem to be keeping most government functions like power and water going, and all the things we would expect from a working government. It seems that in 20 years they’ve learned how to fight and to govern.

      We should never have started that war and we’ve managed it illegally, immorally, and wastefully but it looks like Afghanistan may have come out of it with a fairly decent government, just not ours.

  3. John

    Origins of COVID: Does it matter at this juncture where the virus originated? I suppose there might be some future relevance if that aided in avoiding the next pandemic. In the present moment, prevention and treatment are far more urgent.

    In like manner, the article about cultural appropriation seems a tempest in a teapot. We all eat foods and follow fashions that have their origin in another nation, among another people, or ethnic group. So what? By that standard anyone not Jewish is appropriating what became Christianity and not Arab, Islam. I rather like spaghetti with a bit of tomato sauce or with olive oil and sundry herbs. Noodles from China via Italy, the tomato a native of the Americas, olives from the lands around the Mediterranean, and the herbs I could not tell you, but you all know that. I also like jazz, classical music, sometimes I wear sandals, and at other times boots. Again, so what? I noticed sneakers on the feet of a Kalashnikov toting Taliban in a just published photo and Hard Rock Cafe tee shirts and NBA jerseys are a world wide phenomenon. Maybe there is some deeper meaning that escapes me, but using and appreciating what someone else created seems no particular crime to me.

    1. Dikaios Logos

      re: cultural appreciation

      I’ve long considered the ‘cultural appropriation’ chorus part of emotionally-driven essentialism. It’s about weak people claiming/protecting turf by claiming something was originally the output of someone similar to them. It’s a chorus quite like those of the putative racists they claim to hate.

      Lots of Anglo-American culture has been appropriated by the rest of the world as part of their drive towards ‘modernity’. And plenty of that culture (eg blue jeans, but also many other things, including bigger ideas like technical universities, eg IITs) was also greatly improved by those appropriators. For that I’m grateful.

      1. Skip Intro

        I think Cultural Appropriation is actually a subtle ruse smuggled into the political economy of Identity from the neoliberal catechism. It assigns proprietary rights to emergent tendencies that can’t be owned. It is part of a campaign to monetize and license all culture, so the originators can be exploited for bigger bucks.

      2. RockHard

        I was thinking blue jeans are a great example of appropriation, but you beat me to it.

        All of this boils down to a power struggle. Even yesterday’s water cooler featured some twitter fight over someone criticizing a white woman for writing a cookbook focused on noodles, as if a culinary import from 600 years ago was some sort of affront to Asians everywhere. Should native Americans be offended whenever a white person cooks corn or potatoes or tomatoes? Should they be offended by Asian cultures appropriating capsaisins? This isn’t about equity or fairness or justice, this is about people trying to wrest power from wherever they can.

        History is an astonishingly ugly thing at times. Even the term “anglo-saxon”, the epitome of white oppression, represents a series of conquests – the Angles and the Saxons emigrated to England and displaced the natives along with the remnants of the Roman empire, they themselves were invaded by Vikings and later the French. People forget that Mongolia once ruled a huge part of the known world and that Egyptians ran a huge empire for thousands of years, and not through democratic principles or consent of the governed.

        Or more likely, they don’t forget, they just don’t care to know, because they’re seeing power, not knowledge.

      3. Aumua

        Like many an idea, ‘cultural appropriation’ has some legitimate examples and applications, and some that maybe aren’t so legitimate. Discerning which is which takes careful consideration and thoughtfulness though, which frankly is more than most people are willing and/or able to apply to it. So we get what you see: either anyyone who says the term is full of it and wrong, or anyone who says it is right and should be given a platform. Unfortunately for those who wish to communicate and discuss, the truth is probably somewhere in between.

      4. Tim

        Cultural appropriation as a problem makes no sense to me, other than somebody with a chip on their shoulder looking for trouble.

        Whatever happened to “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery?”

        I was in Georgia a week ago and saw a 6 year old white girl with full blown cornrows. Presumably she got them because she liked the way they looked on african american women and girls and wanted to look like them.

        That’s flattering, and if nothing else a common interest between races, an opportunity for a common bond.


    2. dftbs

      I always appreciate Freddie deBoer’s commentary, but I would even take it one step further. There is no such thing as cultural appropriation.

      That American culture has found this as one if its many new bugbears is a result of the commodification of nearly all aspects of life in our hyper capitalist system. Some members racial and ethnic minorities attempt to use “culture” as a vehicle for commercial advancement. In order to defend their “ownership” over this commercial vehicle they fence in “culture” the way English lords once did to the “commons”. The irony in this being that static culture is no culture at all.

      A greater tragic irony is that this process alienates people from their own culture, as the commodified product belongs to the commercial “gate keepers” who did the fencing in. I am comforted in seeing some pushback against this appropriation narrative, one that does a good job understanding the macro historical reality of cultural osmosis. After all the examples John lists above: religion, noodles and machine guns can clearly be articulated as distinct from what is just bad style or bad taste: blackface, kimono prom dresses, and pineapple on pizza.

      1. Tom Doak

        I though that was a great piece about cultural appropriation.

        To me the controversy first became public in the uproar over a white California high school student wearing a cheongsam to prom. California being the land of wokeness, and there being a lot of Asian students in California, this is the most likely place for it to have come up and gained attention.

        Fifty years ago, my mother’s favorite piece of clothing was a sari, gifted to her from a visiting business associate of my dad’s. She wore it rarely, but she just loved it. Likewise, I have been gifted some clothes over the years from friends in other cultures.

        So, are we not supposed to enjoy these gifts because someone else from that same culture might be offended? Or is the real argument more about who’s making the dollars off appropriating cultural signifiers in the marketplace?

        1. Anony

          The cheongsam is derived from Manchu court dress, so the Han Chinese were culturally appropriating from their then Manchu overlords. I don’t know any Chinese person, Han or Manchu, who actually cares.

        2. Basil Pesto

          I think it’s more (but not always) the latter. For example if I were to wear a Yukata, no one would really care, but if I were to design and manufacture one, that’s when it becomes indisputably ~problematic~, according to the cultural appropriation school. I think it’s all arrant philistinism, myself, and do my best to ignore the discussion of it (though I will read the de Boer piece).

        3. Eustachedesaintpierre

          The subject has reminded me of one of those daytime TV shows from back in the 80’s which featured a topic, that rather pointlessly was argued about by a group of chosen ordinary people. The one I viewed featured an old duffer & his wife both dressed in tweed & looking as though they should have been out shooting grouse, who were outraged mainly by English people wearing baseball caps.

          It was actually quite funny & I only watched it as it was just one of the many gigs that my stepson took on in order to get through Uni. He & his then girlfriend were introduced late on & had the desired effect as they were both Goths, he with a Robert Smith haircut & make-up, all black leather with many zips, finished off by size 10 Frankenstein monster boots, with her looking very much like Morticia Adams wearing black Doc Martens – the look on the old couple’s face as this apparition appeared was priceless.

        4. Yves Smith Post author

          NYC has Chinese-Cuban restaurants.

          No one had a problem when Lady Di dated a Pakistani doctor, with her wearing Pakistani dress, which actually makes for a very good look (long sleeved tunics over narrow pants). I thought it might even catch on.

          Yves St. Laurent had a Russian-inspired line circa 1975 and it was very Russian.

          Not hard to go on….

      2. IEL

        I think the missing element here is power. No one objects when the powerless copy the culture of the powerful. The objection comes when the powerful gain more power by performing the culture of the powerless – white musicians getting rich covering black songs while the songwriters get nothing.

        1. newcatty

          Right on. Preach it! Now why am I thinking of musicians like the Rolling Stones, Clapton, Cocker, etc. Go ask Mick, I think he will know…

          1. QuicksilverMessenger

            Yes, this is a tricky one. I’m resonating to this as I think the stones, clapton etc are a bunch of phonies. I mean come on- where was Mick getting that singing accent? Part blues, part american country coming out of a middle class kid from London? Sheesh.

            But at the same time, the music of Muddy Waters, Sonny Boy Williamson etc was always available for anyone to buy and to listen to. They presumably could have sold as many records as the stones or zeppelin, but it’s just the white musicians made it palatable and safe for white teenagers. But those same white teenagers loved Chuck Berry and Little Richard and Jimi Hendrix and Michael Jackson and many many more and they definitely made millions. The white kids made them rich. Maybe the more traditional blues just never had a big market.

            And let’s not forget about the ‘roots, americana’ thing that started in the 60s, with the beards and the corduroy and the country twang. Creedence from the Bay Area but were putting on some kind of down home Bayou act. Great songs to be sure but dare I bring up the word ‘authentic’? What about the Band, from Canada? I guess at least Levon Helm was from Arkansas.

            So what is one’s ‘culture’? Where is one allowed to tread? If I grew up a middle class white kid outside of Seattle, what music should I be playing? Grunge, punk and metal I suppose. Can I play bluegrass or country if I’m not from the south? Is jazz off limits for a white person if I ‘profit’ from it?

            1. neo-realist

              I don’t think John Zorn made a ton of money from making jazz music, but he was on much more of a avant-garde noise trip.

    3. lordkoos

      The origins of the virus do not matter much now, I agree, and we are likely to have more pandemics as the earth warms. Historically, climate change has been known to associated with pandemics, such as in 535 when an eruption of Krakatoa blotted out the sun for 18 months. This lowered levels of vitamin D across the planet, and the bubonic plague happened soon after.

    4. Detroit Dan

      Does it matter at this juncture where the virus originated?

      Yes. Just like it matters how and why we got into a 20 year debacle in Afghanistan. This is basic accountability without which we are doomed.

      1. Ignacio

        It matters at ANY juncture I should say. In the end the Chinese leadership apparently learnt the lesson after this second coronavirus zoonotic disease and even if they don’t want to admit this is about commodification of wild animal food they ended closing the markets and farms. That says all what is needed to say on how they know where the origin was.

        1. newcatty

          Glad to see you. What is your opinion on “gain of function research ” done with viruses?

            1. tegnost

              Thanks Ignacio,
              My own feeling here is don’t attribute to malice what can be explained by, well, carelessness…and with that said I don’t know if it matters at this point as even were it so pandoras box is open now and we are best off dealing with what is in front of us.

  4. paul

    Black holes are imperfectly understood, so it’s a reasonable metaphor to Scotland’s perceived ills.
    Richard Murphy does his now annual rebuttal of this scaremongering.
    Which is more than the scottish government ever do.

    The data in GERS is unfit for purpose. It is very likely wrong. And it does not answer any fair question that can be posed about the actions of any government of Scotland. All we need to do is keep pointing that out in that case.

    And keep asking that the Scottish government do better. I remain baffled as to why they do not want to do so.

    I’d certainly like to an explanation of the assumption that Scotland, uniquely in europe, is uniquely incapable of surviving as an independent nation.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Scotland is perfectly capable of surviving as an independent nation – though they would immediately seek to join the EU. But Scotland as an independent nation under the present leadership is not capable of surviving.

        1. Robert Gray

          I believe that the way it stands now the one requires the other. Unless they can get a waiver.

    2. Eclair

      Just doing a fast read-through of all the comments this morning. Dropped from the thread about ‘cultural appropriation’ into this one on Scotland’s hope of becoming a separate nation. Once again.

      Images of the Royal Family males (this past CoVid winter, we binged on The Crown every Friday night, with pizza,) swanning about Balmoral in kilts, burrowed into my brain. Cultural appropriation much? (Binged as well on Outlander; now, Jamie showed how to wear a plaid!)

  5. Watt4Bob

    Whether it’s $2 trillion, or $3.5 trillion, the ‘cost’ of the Afghanistan war is not the story.

    The story is the fact that the $trillions of dollars did not disappear into Afghanistan’s sands, it didn’t evaporate into Afghanistan’s atmosphere.

    Most of that money is right now sitting in the off-shore, tax haven bank accounts of elite members of the American MIC, and other “deciders’.

    Of course they’re using a bit of it to wreck our housing and commodity markets.

    And of course they will always use some of it, an amazingly small percentage considering the ROI, to maintain control of ‘our‘ government, and the governments of every other western country worth controlling.

    But all in all, the story of the Afghanistan war is one of total success, immense profits, and from the perspective of the incredibly small group of psychopaths, the ‘deciders’, hardly any cost at all.

      1. nycTerrierist

        yesterday’s thread re: academia comes to mind…

        Bennington just hired Ghani’s film-maker daughter:


        “She refused to answer questions from a reporter outside her apartment, located in a luxury co-op building on a quiet, leafy block of Clinton Hill, near buzzy restaurants and the Pratt Institute….

        (Ghani) and his wife, Rula Ghani, who is from Lebanon, raised their two kids, Mariam and Tarek, in Maryland, when Ashraf taught at Johns Hopkins University. Mariam Ghani attended New York University and the School of Visual Arts.

        Asked about growing up the daughter of a foreign leader, Mariam Ghani told the Times, “There’s plenty of people in the art world who don’t know, which is preferable.

        The 2015 (NYTimes) profile described Ghani as “a feminist, an archivist and an activist” who was “as well-versed in the politics of extraordinary rendition as she is in the very Brooklyn pursuit of homemade chile-passion-fruit sorbet.”

        1. Mildred Montana


          Mariam Ghani: “…[her] very Brooklyn pursuit of homemade chile-passion-fruit sorbet.”

          Never did read the NYT but the quote above is an example of why I stopped reading the “New Yorker” ten years ago. The relentless, unabashed, faux-Parisian snobbery ruined everything else in the magazine for me.

          Now that I’ve got that off my chest…lunch. I’m going to have some fresh arugula with an artisanal balsamic-Dijon dressing (being careful to put the dressing in the bowl first) and complement them with homemade (Mariam would be proud of me) pommes-frites.

          Unlike New York sophisticates, I can’t afford to pay $30 in a bistro for salad and french fries.

          1. lordkoos

            As a person who likes to cook, whatever is the rationale behind putting the dressing in the bowl first?

            1. Michael Mck

              Yes, yes. Salading minds want to know. I don’t do it that way so as not to get some parts over soaked and others undressed. I guess I will have to try it.
              PS Mayonnaise is easy to make in a blender with good ingredients. Ranch is mayo plus buttermilk and herbs. Add blue cheese to a batch of Ranch with less herbs and voila, happy salad munching with healthy blue cheese goop!

              1. Katniss Everdeen

                Don’t know about putting the dressing in the bowl first, but some weight loss gurus contend that if you just put the dressing around the edge of the salad bowl before tossing, you will use less dressing. Could prevent oversoaking.

          2. drumlin woodchuckles

            Plus somebody misspelled “chili” somewhere along the line there. Chili isn’t spelled “chile”, its spelled “chili”.

    1. David

      I generally admire Taibbi’s reporting but I think he’s overdoing it here, or, if you like, not really seeing the whole of the problem. For example, in a few lines “waste, fraud and abuse” becomes just “fraud” and then a few paragraphs later, just “fraud by Americans.” This is a good knockabout stuff, which his audience can identify with, but it’s not the whole truth. I don’t know whether Taibbi ever went to Afghanistan, but if he had, he would have noticed the villas and the cars (how could he not have?) and the general luxury in which the elites lived. He would have been told of the military commanders and politicians deeply involved in the drugs trade and how much money they earned. He would have been told of the regular trips by Afghan elites to Dubai, their bags filled with bundles of dollar notes to deposit in banks there. I’ve heard mind-numbing estimates of the proportion of western aid that disappeared into offshore bank accounts in the Gulf. And not only military aid, and not only the US: the UN, the EU, and bilateral donors like the Japanese were shaken down in the same way.

      In other words, what Taibbi is describing is only part of the problem. The West was desperate to spend money and be seen to do things, and shovelled it out the door at anyone who looked as if they could spend it. They turned a blind eye to the massive involvement of Afghan elites in the drugs trade, because they were “our Afghans.” The stupid thing is, this isn’t the first time it’s happened either. Local elites in many other countries have seen westerners with money coming a mile away. Yes please, we’ll have some of that. The failure is, paradoxically, more serious than Taibbi realises.

      1. djrichard

        Part of me thinks this might be why the Biden admin pulled the plug on Afghanistan. It gives them a “pay for” that they can use towards infrastructure spending or the bigger package.

        1. JTMcPhee

          There is no such thing as a “peace dividend.” No one is even mentioning anything about how the Pentagram and cronies will be “redeploying” that $330 million a day/$2.1 billion a week. No doubt the various Commands are already sharpening their pencils and knives to carve off “their” share of this fortuitous windfall… and yes, the bleed was probably less toward the end, but think of all the procurements that are in the Blood Channels already!

          1. djrichard

            Part of me just gets a kick out of the idea that the dems concern over not adding to “the deficit” could have actually resulted in this decision. But to your point, probably not.

            1. neo-realist

              Probably about 10 or so democratic Senators other than Manchin and Sinema were deficit hawking, the others just want a good deal regardless of the deficit to take to the voters.

              And the republicans, as per usual, don’t want to do a damn thing for infrastructure or the public at large.

      2. Watt4Bob


        Do you think that Afghan politicians are more expensive than American politicians?

        If you want the American people to ignore your theft of $Trillions, you have to first pay off the American politicians.

        If you want to put up a puppet government in the country providing the excuse for the theft, you have to pay off the puppets.

        Local elites in many other countries have seen westerners with money coming a mile away.

        You’re thinking in terms of the market place, in the case of their WOT, and any other war for profit projects, they are known to make offers that can’t be refused;

        “We can bomb you with money, or we can bomb you with bombs?”

        IOW, they don’t wait to see who wants to be president, they most likely know who they’re going to buy off before they start.

        Ashraf Ghani is western-educated, taught at UC Berkley and Johns Hopkins University and is a World Bank alum. IOW, he’s not an Afghan elite who “spotted us a mile away”, he’s basically an American elite, whose Afghan heritage provided a thin layer of plausibility to any claim of legitimacy.

        If you’re going to steal $Trillions, you’re not going to share any more of it than absolutely necessary.

        1. Darthbobber

          He brought Carville in to help with his 1st (2009) presidential campaign. His silly TED talk was also part of that effort, which gives you an idea of what electorate he prioritized.

      3. lordkoos

        What you describe is hardly unique to Afghanistan. Corruption is rife in many developing nations and it seems fairly routine that a certain percentage of foreign aid gets siphoned off into private bank accounts. As long as the country in question is taking an approved political stance, the US looks the other way and pretend it isn’t happening.

        1. Eclair

          “Corruption is rife in many developing nations …..”

          It has begun to annoy me, that backroom deals, the establishment of political dynasties, bags of cash traded for legislative favors, laws being passed that favor the elite rather than the common good, all of these, are labelled ‘corruption’ in less ‘advanced’ nations and regarded as the normal way of governing in the US. As if ‘lobbyists’ and ‘campaign contributions’ and artwork of the President’s son ‘sold’ for ridiculously large amounts of money, were somehow granted indulgences because they occur under ‘the rule of law.’

  6. Otis B Driftwood

    Biden’s “gaffe” is not really a surprise, is it? He is an effortless and shameless liar who has been protected by the press. He was surprised to be challenged. That’s the story here.

    That said, it is tragic that the single best (and probably only decent) thing he has done in his long career in foreign affairs has turned into a humiliation and pr disaster.

    As an aside, it is totally in character for Blinken, after his own catastrophic interview last weekend with the usually reliable stenographer Jake Tapper, to step back and push his deputies forward to get flayed by the press.

    1. voteforno6

      Who feels humiliated? I certainly don’t. I haven’t run into anybody else who feels humiliated about it, either. Sad, definitely. The only people I see who feel humiliated are the ones who should be, anyway. I don’t see how this can be spun into good PR, and it doesn’t seem like they’re trying. That seems like more of an Obama concern, anyway.

      1. Michael Ismoe

        I feel amazingly free from the responsibility of supporting the Empire in Afghanistan. One country withdrawn from, another 123 to go.

        1. Wukchumni

          Most every kid conceived since the turn of the century has only known us to be at war, we must have so many enemies is perhaps what a 20 year old has been trained to think, along with all the propaganda that made it look as if anybody who enlisted was a hero, as essential cog in recognition.

          Naaaah, they probably were jaded by the time they hit teenagerhood.

          I was 13 when Saigon fell, it meant nothing to me really.

          When I was 10 or 11, I found out that you could write a letter to the POW/MIA group and ask for so many bumper stickers, bracelets or pins for your school, and I asked for 300 of each, and they were stingy on the bracelets, but came through with everything else, which I gave away in a week or so. I was at a LA Kings hockey game in early 1973 with my dad when it was announced over the P.A. that the war was over in Vietnam, the peace treaty had been signed, and the Fabulous Forum erupted in applause for about a minute, the POW’s coming home later that year was all I cared about.

          After the fall of Saigon, really anybody enlisting in the armed forces was kind of seen as a loser, at least in my age set at the time.

        2. Henry Moon Pie

          No worries here. To the contrary, I’m in line with Grace’s call from 50+ years ago:

          Don’t change before the Empire falls,
          You’ll laugh so hard you’ll crack the walls.

          Grace Slick: “Greasy Heart

      2. Lee

        Camus wrote, “Democracy is when we are all guilty.” If so, then the average U.S. citizen has no case to answer.

    2. Michael

      Did anyone else get the impression the most used descriptor over the weekend was “humiliated,” or was it just my mental habit of seeing the elites personalize American foreign policy as a reflection on them personally in everything they say?

  7. The Rev Kev

    “Ignore The Fake “Experts” — The Real “Catastrophe” In Afghanistan Was Always The War Itself”

    This is a really good article by Tracey and his anecdote about the difficulty in finding police graduation numbers because that information was “proprietary” was even worse than the way that it was in Vietnam. But then something brought me up short in reading this article so I hope that you will bear with me here. Even though most Americans if asked wanted out of Hotel California aka Afghanistan, this move revealed those who did want it. One reporter in a White House press conference was demanding how will the US have a presence on the border with Iran, China and Tajikistan if they were leaving Afghanistan-

    Also saw an interview with an ex-Aussie SAS soldier with 7 tours in the sand-pit demanding that we go back (based out of where?) while Afghan war vets now in the UK Parliament demanded that a new force be organized to go back into Afghanistan to which Boris told them that no country was interested. So there is a lot of vocal resistance to the fact that this war is over. But here is the thing.

    Perhaps other readers will correct me but there is a dog in all this that is not barking – Wall Street. I have read no corporate leaders insisting that we had to go back nor have I heard of any defence corporations also kicking up a stink. Considering the massive amount of political power that they have, I find this a very strange silence on their part. Maybe an examination of the stocks of the defence corporations over the past few months might reveal a trend or two but I do find it strange.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      The msm is on this. Why would a ceo risk bad press? The GOP is united. Bob Menendez wants to hold more investigations into this than over the last 20 years. The Think Tanks are unleashing the usual suspects. Shrub is weeping for his heroin crops.

      There are also the thieves. It’s possible too much noise will get anyone blacklisted. It’s like all the NFL advertising done for the Microsoft Surface couldn’t overcome Belichick throwing it away.

    2. griffen

      This is not sarcasm at all, but the defense companies and varied contractors will ascertain a new and improved grift from the unending pockets of the Pentagon. Just think of the children and property values in Northern Virginia!

      Boeing is a hot mess either way. I can’t speak to others, like Raytheon or Lockheed. Maybe this bit of bad news has been baked in, given the withdrawal was well known.

    3. Tom Doak

      Defense contractors don’t care at all about Afghanistan, as long as there is not so much blowback that Americans are opposed to getting into the next war in a few months’ time. And Congress did just approve the largest defense budget EVAH.

    4. Otis B Driftwood

      The defense industry never speaks to this in public. That’s why they buy politicians and Pentagon officials.

    5. Gregorio

      Probably because they have already moved on to extracting profit from the coming massive expansion of the new cold war with China and Russia that will require oodles of new high tech hardware, and keep think tanks in business making Power Point presentations for at least the rest of the century.

    6. Yves Smith Post author

      The defense contractors don’t need to make noise. They can keep their hands clean. All of their allies in the Beltway are doing their dirty work. They couldn’t buy better headlines than the ones they are getting.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Censorship. They’re talking about censorship. That is how you suppress ‘false information.’ So who decides what is true? Uhh, the New York Times, the Washington Post, Snopes, Bellingcat, the LA Times, etc. Anybody trust them to decide what you can see online? As Caitlin Johnstone says-

      ‘They said we need internet censorship because of Russia.
      They said we need internet censorship because of Covid.
      They said we need internet censorship because of election security.
      They said we need internet censorship because of the Capitol riot.
      They said we need internet censorship because of domestic extremism.
      Pretty sure they just want internet censorship.’

      1. newcatty

        Its a part of controlling the narratives that we are allowed to read on the internet. Many Americans do read some people like Johnstone and other “radicals”. Most Americans get information from MSM. There has been control of the narratives since the first Europeans “settled” in the new world. Now, with modern tech the town criers have a spider web of comunication to reach every person. Even the poor people, or isolated ones, have their lives affected by the control of the web. A hermit living in splendid isolation was found and his home gone. The very air we breathe, the water we drink, the home ( if you have one) is all being controled . The air is polluted, the waters are too ( that still exist as sources for potable use), and basic necessities of shelter and nutritious food are being monetised for profits over people.

        Sigh. I am going to keep my spirits up by watching butterflies and hummingbirds play in our garden. I can watch them outside my living room window. No matter how small a view we have of the natural world, it is good for us.

  8. Wukchumni

    Semper Fido, or who let the dogs in?

    Images shared to social media appear to show US military dogs being given seats on aircrafts intended to evacuate people from Afghanistan.

    As hundreds of desperate Afghan citizens descended upon Kabul Airport in a bid to flee the Taliban, it was reported that the American canines were reserved their own seats on the flights, with photos appearing to show them sitting on aeroplane seats alongside handlers.

    Other images showed the animals waiting to board the flights – used to evacuate US citizens and former staff in Afghanistan – at the international airport, and broadcast footage showed Americans entering the airport grounds with the dogs.

    1. nycTerrierist

      i’m not sorry to hear military dogs aren’t getting abandoned

      no need to begrudge that

      1. The Rev Kev

        Those dogs are highly-trained and would have to be saved in any case for future assignments. However, as dogs are seen in the Muslim world as ritually impure, the optics of this would probably be not great to the locals.

        1. nycTerrierist

          I get that (re: the local optics).

          All the more cruel to leave the dogs.

          Dogs are terribly mistreated in that part of the world — and elsewhere, alas.

          1. Wukchumni


            The ‘stanbox would’ve been a great place to test out those robot dogs we so loathe, but were they left to fester along with the rest of all the military equipment we left behind, most everything with a few bullets through the works?

      2. Wukchumni

        I guess it depends if they get frequent flier miles, and whether it was business or coach, and talking about doing your business, where they do it on a long flight?

      3. Soredemos

        Given how so far the Taliban seem to be genuine in offering amnesty, the dogs may be in more danger than the Afghans who want to flee.

        Also, given how a lot of those who want to flee are former grifters who are directly involved in in the ‘disappearance’ of trillions of US dollars, it’s hard to feel much sympathy. Twenty years of occupation and half the population still loves in poverty? That’s partly because a bunch of people involved in managing the development aid simply took the money and bought a bunch of nice things for themselves. Traitors to their countrymen.

        1. Wukchumni

          Hear, here. And the military dogs should’ve been Chihuahuas, which would’ve been much more in our character of barking & backing up @ the same time.

        2. Nikkikat

          Soredemos, according to Max Blumenthal a journalist
          Suit cases of cash were flown out of Kabul on a daily basis to banks in Dubai. Lots of American cash was sloshing around there.

      4. Nikkikat

        I was glad to see this on the dogs getting evacuated too. Long history of dogs being abandoned in war all the way back to war world one. The military dog that became RIN TIN TIN of movie fame was a war dog from France. He was smuggled out by a group of soldiers who helped get him back to the US. His trainer gave exhibitions with him and he was discovered by Hollywood. Warner brothers would have gone under during the depression without the RIN Tin tin movies. Rinny as he was called by his owner, had his own house in Beverly Hills. as well as a listing in the phone book. Also I am terrierist. Love all terrier dogs….they are sparky, just like me. Lol

  9. urblintz

    I think this needs repeating:

    “Over the last month, the state with the highest growth rate in new covid cases in the entire U.S. is Vermont, which also has the highest vaccination rate of any U.S. state. Covid cases in Vermont grew nearly a factor of ten in the last month (from a seven day average of 10 cases on July 12 to a seven day average of 95 on August 12 – and 126 new cases on August 12 alone). Over just the last two weeks ending August 12, high vaccination states with higher covid case growth rates than Texas and Florida include not only Vermont (263% growth in the last two weeks) but also Hawaii (176% growth over the last two weeks), Oregon (144%), Washington state (146%), New York (108%), and Washington DC (158%), versus Texas with 72% growth in covid cases over the two weeks ending August 12, and Florida with only 50% growth. California is slightly behind Florida with 48% growth.”


    1. ChiGal in Carolina

      This is deceptive: with an average weekly new case rate of 1, an increase to 2 new cases weekly is an increase of 100%. With an average weekly case rate of 100, an increase to 101 new cases weekly is an increase of 1%.

    2. voislav

      This is deceptive because it looks at percentage increases, so if you are starting from a low number of cases, your increase will look bad, even though it’s not, compared to the size of the population. Even after these increases, Vermont still has one of the lowest infection rates in the country, 17 per 100,000 per day. For comparison, Texas is at 60, Florida at 100 per 100,000 per day.

      So Texas grew from 35 to 60 per 100,000 per day, while Vermont grew 5 to 17. Population normalized infection growth rate for Texas was twice high as it was in Vermont (25 vs. 12 per 100,000). But hiding it behind percentages makes it look like Vermont is much worse. Lies, damn lies and statistics.

      Same thing applies to any of states who were effective in suppressing the infection, they are seeing high percentage growth rates because they have a low baseline, not because the situation is dire.

      1. Basil Pesto

        Thanks for pointing this out (ChiGal too).

        A timely reminder of IM Doc’s nugget of wisdom re: medical statistics: don’t trust percentages, ask for the figures.

      2. Katniss Everdeen

        So, same old stupid controversy. Again.

        Lots of numbers flyin’ around here. Assuming those numbers are accurate, and assuming everyone is massaging the same numbers, the bottom line is this: the way that is chosen to communicate the exact same “data”–percentage, “per 100,000,” or raw number–is intended only to support previously formed conclusions and established narratives.

        These discussions of whether percentages “overstate” the reality or raw numbers “understate” it are uselessly meta. What’s happening is happening, regardless of how it’s currently being spun or who’s spinning it, and we’re all going to live with it one way or another.

        IMNSHO, this relentless generation of confusion is deliberate.

    3. Tom Doak

      I am not arguing with the general premise that there are a lot of blue-state Covid cases being underreported because it doesn’t “fit the narrative”, but there are a lot of out-of-staters [mostly from other blue states] visiting Vermont in August and spiking the numbers.

  10. Tom Stone

    Polls have shown over the decades that most Americans fully support those parts of the “Bill of LIberties” that don’t encourage rude or disruptive language and behavior.

  11. Martin Oline

    Regarding the Windows 11 Is Making It Absurdly Difficult to Change Browsers article: I changed my default to another browser last year and it immediately started crashing every couple minutes. It always worked fine before it became the defaukt browser. This is similar to the performance problems in using WordPerfect and Lotus 123 many years ago. I used UBUNTU throughout the winter and had no problems but have moved back into the house and have to use WINDOZE for the wireless connection. If you have read about Bill Gates career you find he has made his fortune by selling ‘vapor ware’ instead of software. POS.

    1. ex-PFC Chuck

      “If you have read about Bill Gates career you find he has made his fortune by selling ‘vapor ware’ instead of software. POS.

      And levering MS’s OS monopoly to give away crappy SW such as Word until they’d sucked the market out from under WordPerfect.

    2. Maritimer

      Slight alteration to that story but same Game:

      “They say that some people never change. The same goes for some Vaccines. The next version of Pfizer Vaccine is due this fall, and with the beta out for friendly researchers and insiders, there have been plenty of chances to dive into the vat to see what’s next from Pfizer. And there’s evidence of the same old story. Namely, Pfizer wants to make it hard for you to use any vaccine of treatment that isn’t theirs. Marketing is considering the name Pfizforever. “

  12. QuarterBack

    Re Biden snapping in interview article, I find it especially ironic that a man who answers nearly every question with a history lesson would dismiss a subject because it was days old.

  13. zagonostra

    >We Failed Afghanistan, Not the Other Way Around – Matt Taibbi

    As much as I like Taibbi and appreciate his work, I think he falls into a “fallacy of composition” when he uses the words “we, us, public, ourselves.” I think his concluding paragraph below is accurate for the most part except for the fallacy. When you conflate “ourselves’ with the majority of the people, I think you are making a mistake. That swath, and it’s a large one, who can be classified as the “Precarity” are not part of that “we”, nor am I. Those who profited and kept squeezing this “war” for everything it was worth for 20 years, should be called out and held to account instead of muddying up the water with this “we.”

    I think Matt should read or re-read Martin Gilens and Benjamin I paper.

    That’s corruption on a level so deep that we can’t even speak of it ruining the chances for a successful mission, since spending was the mission, and we succeeded at it on a grand scale. Given that reality, pointing the finger anywhere but at ourselves for failure in a place like Afghanistan is absurd, and just continues the practice of lying to ourselves about the motives underlying our military misadventures, which keep ending the same way, and not by accident.

  14. urblintz

    article from 2017… looks like moderna has been fighting (and losing) with mrna therapy for a while:

    “In order to protect mRNA molecules from the body’s natural defenses, drug developers must wrap them in a protective casing. For Moderna, that meant putting its Crigler-Najjar therapy in nanoparticles made of lipids. And for its chemists, those nanoparticles created a daunting challenge: Dose too little, and you don’t get enough enzyme to affect the disease; dose too much, and the drug is too toxic for patients.

    From the start, Moderna’s scientists knew that using mRNA to spur protein production would be a tough task, so they scoured the medical literature for diseases that might be treated with just small amounts of additional protein.

    “And that list of diseases is very, very short,” said the former employee who described Bancel as needing a Hail Mary.”

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      Thank you for that link. I do not remember all the details — Moderna received quite a “good-deal” from the Government as I recall. If only the US had an Securities Exchange Commission and a Department Justice I wonder what they might discover if they poked around in the trades, finances, and hiring practices of Moderna. I wonder who held the interests in Moderna that gave it its $5 billion valuation. It appears that the Government did them a big favor.

      1. Maritimer

        As the only one of the major Vaccinators that does not have a criminal record, these three questions arise about Moderna:

        Was the company set up to be the only major in the Vaccine Biz to not have a criminal record?

        How many of the major employees/execs formally were involved in projects that were criminally prosecuted?

        What are the cross corporate links on the Board of Directors of Moderna?

        1. HotFlash

          I would also like to see stock portfolios for 30yrs 50 yrs for all congress critters, CDC FDA, and esp St Anthony Fauci. Wld like to now if(how) St Tony did well during AIDS epi in 1980+.

  15. Randy

    Continuing my blob news watch re: Afghanistan, CNN front page now declares Biden “is struggling under intensifying scrutiny” and “no longer gets credit simply for not being trump” (!!!). Where was this attitude during the primaries? I’m shocked at:

    -How openly CNN is lifting the veil and just admitting “yeah, up until now we were in the tank for Biden because he wasn’t Orange Man”, and
    -What caused the rift was the shock of realizing we lost an endless war and not any of Biden’s failures across the rest of his long career

    Lets see how long their advent of the concept of “journalism” lasts!

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Remember, CNN’s Fareed Zakarias, who has never seen a war he didn’t support then tried to claim he wasn’t for, declared Trump President the day Trump ordered missile strikes on Syria. It’s not just that he wasn’t Orange Man but that Biden was seen as reliable enough to keep the gift going.

  16. allan

    Ut oh:

    Pfizer Vaccine’s Efficacy Against Delta Variant Drops After Three Months

    The protections offered by Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine against the Delta variant of the virus that causes Covid-19 drop over three months, according to a study published Thursday by scholars at Oxford University in England.

    The study, which hasn’t been peer reviewed, was run by the U.K. government and examined data collected by a large-scale survey of hundreds of thousands of randomly chosen households in the country who were tested for Covid-19 beginning in November. The period in which Delta was dominant in the U.K. began in the middle of May. …

    The study also found that people infected with Delta who had received any vaccine had similar peak levels of virus as infected people who had not been vaccinated. That has “potential implications for onward transmission risk,” the authors wrote. …

    For some definition of potential.

    1. nycTerrierist

      nothing to see here…

      “Pfizer is one of the most popular stocks in Congress, with 48 lawmakers placing their bet on the drugmaker that hikes its prices each year. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), the second most senior congressman, reported holding between $1 million and $5 million in Pfizer stock. Forty-seven lawmakers reported investing in Johnson & Johnson, despite the drugmaker’s role in the devastating opioid epidemic.”

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      No wonder the CDC is so reluctant to collect data. Reliable data and data analysis might harsh the Mission Accomplished messages.

    3. enoughisenough

      Shouldn’t this be considered failure?

      Can I get a different, better shot, plz? I don’t want a “booster” of a crap shot that falls apart this soon.

      I hope I hear soon about how the others are holding up – I want a decent shot next time.

      2 shots for only 3 months?
      Just goes to show you how the brand name doesn’t mean better quality.

  17. FreeMarketApologist

    “Silicon Valley scrambles to find a unified approach to the Taliban”

    Here’s a novel idea: Stop thinking that YouTube, Facebook, Whatsapp,, provide some unbelievably necessary and required service.

    Perhaps Silicon Valley should stop providing all their ‘valuable services’ to everybody in the country. The country could work out their internal governmental and social problems without SV’s meddling influences. Give them an internet that doesn’t let info in, and doesn’t let it out, and leave them alone to run their lives.

  18. Wukchumni

    I wonder if Senator Biden chided President Ford after the fall of Saigon for the way it went down?

    1. pasha

      he had just won election to the senate, with his main campaign issue being opposition to the vietnam war. most of those who opposed the war didn’t see humiliation for the u.s. in the fall of saigon. rather, it was seen as humiliation of the military. it is notable that we didn’t have another war for fifteen years

    1. JEHR

      This is very scary stuff. Maybe we need to see the ravages of Climate Change which ultimately could upset this “private-public partnership” stuff from interacting globally. /sar

  19. The Rev Kev

    ““Neighbors got really pissed off” by Frank Gehry’s Santa Monica home, architect reveals”

    What a hunk of junk. And he spent $50,000 on this. And that is $50,000 in 1978 dollars? I don’t care how famous this made him, it has all the aesthetics of a tin shed. I looked for more images of this place and found them but the whole place looks seriously unimaginative. It makes the place look like an industrial Borg is trying to assimilate a house. Call me a Philistine-

    1. chuck roast

      What a trashman. I’m waiting patiently for a large chunk of ice to fall off one of his painful edifices some January thaw and kill an innocent passerby.

      1. johnnyme

        A protective gutter was added to the overhang outside the main entrance of the Weisman Art Museum on the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus a few years after it was built. I never heard if the late addition to Gehry’s vision was the result of an injury from falling ice or some near misses but it wouldn’t surprise me either way.

    2. pricklyone

      I agree with you, TRK, but one little quibble.
      “aesthetics of a tin shed” is not descriptive. A tin shed is a utilitarian building, fit for purpose, built economically. It really has no aesthetic presumptions. Not the case with anything “archetects” like Gehry spew forth upon the landscape…

      1. The Rev Kev

        I stand corrected. Form should follow function and you don’t get anything more functional than a tin shed.

  20. Darthbobber

    The Dutch evacuation effort:

    Note that this article explicitly blame United States soldiers for denying access to Afghans on the 17th.

    Note also that the initial Dutch flights turned around and left with virtually nobody aboard, to try again later. Because of their version of triage. They’d rather take nobody than people from a wrong category.

    If all western nations are going about it this way the process will be considerably longer than if the sorting were done at the other end.

    1. Louis Fyne

      no good alternatives. literally the entire population of Kabul, >4 million, surround the airport.

      allow everyone onboard, there would be chaos as Taliban (happily) walk away from their checkpoints and let the US Army deal with the crowds.

      that is the heartless reality

      1. Darthbobber

        But this was IN the airport.

        Much of Kabul is demonstrably going about it’s business, so one suspects that “literally the entire population of Kabul” is hyperbole.

    1. John

      Yeah, but you either contribute your email address to NatGeo, or you can’t read the article. Fair enough, so I closed my browser tab.

      1. TalkingCargo

        Same here. Maybe I should set up a dummy email account that I never read for such occasions.

      2. Vandemonian

        I use Brave browser on an iPad. Switching to the reader view bypasses the pop up, and I can read the whole article. Same thing works in Safari for iPad.

      3. pricklyone

        I used “” and it happily accepted the non-existent email addy…
        It always pays to try, as they are often too lazy to verify the domains.

        1. Vandemonian

          My favourite is “”

          Scattered all over the free wifi hotspots in Paris…

  21. Randy G

    ‘Chinese mock Taliban takeover as going far more smoothly than U.S. Presidential transition.’

    They certainly have a point. Glad they are getting a few laughs from this season’s premiere of ‘The Idiotocracy — the Empire Years.’

    1. Hiroyuki

      no i think you are making a different comparison. you are showing absolute cases per population and he is showing month over month changes.
      you could also look at year over year. That is even more dramatic. Vermont did not show a summer spike last year

    1. Wukchumni

      Last year during the Castle Fire, we had Mexican firefighters helping out in the USA for the very first time ever, which amazed me.

      As per the pyrocene link above, we all have a common foe, fuego. There should be much more of this going on, along with a ‘space force’ in the military, that is training recruits how to clear out spaces in our forests overridden with flammables, that is in the off-season when they aren’t fighting fires.

  22. Wukchumni

    Really since the turn of the century, it seems as if we have been on a slow trajectory downwards like so many frogs in a pot of lukewarm water, but you can sense events are accelerating now-the clear advent of consequences of burning as much oil et al as we could possibly do, aided greatly by the former Communist bloc party getting religion, er Capitalism, and everybody wanting the good life as determined by our example.

    How would we collectively react to a rather sudden collapse of our way of life, were events to transpire?

    And keep in mind that heretofore, collapses have only happened piecemeal-an empire here-a kingdom there, not pretty much the whole shooting works @ once.

    1. ambrit

      I’m with Gibson on this. “The future will not be evenly distributed.”
      We oldsters have grown up (and soon out,) on a diet of Techno-worship and Logical Positivism. One of the cardinal precepts of this movement is that History is unidirectional. That is a flat out lie. However, for decades, those who dared to raise this issue were literally treated as Heretics. [See the treatment dished out to “doubters” in the “vaccines will save us all” meme for an example of this mind set.]
      I hope that our children and grandchildren manage to sustain a late nineteenth century standard of living and domestic technology after the dust of the Collapse settles.
      Stay safe!

      1. newcatty

        We now have a great grandchild. Joyful. That is really stretching out my hope for the future; she will be in kindergarten in about 5 years. Or ?

  23. allan

    New York celebrated a return to normalcy. Now COVID is back in a big way. [Rochester D&C]

    With nine hours notice, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo told the state he was going to light up the sky.

    It was about 12:30 p.m. on June 15, and the state had just crossed a crucial milestone: 70% of adults had been vaccinated against COVID-19. It triggered Cuomo’s decision to rescind the state’s mask mandate and social distancing rules for vaccinated individuals.

    In Cuomo’s eyes, it was a cause for celebration. At 10 locations across New York, a handful of state agencies had scrambled to secure fireworks displays that night — at a cost ranging from $4,500 in Utica to $44,500 in New York City, records show — to mark the accomplishment.

    “It’s our way of saying thank you all across the state (to) the essential workers, to celebrate our reopening, our reimagining,” Cuomo said that day. “And to remind all New Yorkers, join the success. Join the success.” …

    First hubris, then …

  24. The Rev Kev

    “California Drought Hits World’s Top Almond Producer’

    Always disturbing reading about this because you just know that those farmers will pump and pump that water out until one day the aquifers will run dry. Then what? It will take probably tens of thousand of years for those aquifers to replenish. If those water cavities haven’t collapsed that is. Will those farmers then demand that the big cities send their water to them? Will they up and move to another region that still has water? Maybe they can just pay to have a huge iceberg towed down from the Arctic and then have it melted for its water. And they would agree – so long as somebody else payed for it.

    1. Wukchumni

      It isn’t the almonds that’ll be demanding water when the aquifers run dry, as they are more the hare, to pistachio trees being the tortoise in terms of longevity. The former typically lasts 20-25 years in their Logans Run whereas the latter can live to 300.

      As luck would have it, the almond trees in the ground will probably live just as long as the resources underground are there to nourish them, sorry pistachio trees.

    2. Jason Boxman

      And then they’re exported to China. You’d think sending water to China would be a national security issue or something.

    3. Grateful Dude

      I think that most large-scale ag in Ca is watered from the mountains and their downstream reservoirs, not ground water. They wouldn’t be cutting production from drought as long as they can pump it from the ground. So, I suspect that the problem is that we need rain and snow to keep the reservoirs up.

      I live in the foothills up the Feather River from Sacramento. They grow rice in the valley here. In large paddies flooded for months. In this drought heat. For China.

      But irrigated pasture in the hills is everywhere. The ranchers have the water rights, and do very well. Grass-fed for sure. The big bucks. Driving through these dry hills, I pass a wetland below a wide green pasture with a dozen cattle grazing. I’m a 50 year vegetarian, so you can imagine my outrage: we don’t need no stinkin’ salmon, we got beef.

      A card on one of the local bulletin boards sells Grain-fed beef. “This ain’t no tofu beef.” I can’t grasp it. It’s beyond my reckoning.

      1. Grateful Dude

        But Dairy is the biggest export? I’m flabbergasted. To where, the desert? Milk is ubiquitous anywhere it rains, no?

  25. Wukchumni

    I’ve always thought of the folly of Afghanistan as if the Russians invaded Nevada with its similar endless basin & range terra firma, not much of it of any use really, but with the prospect of mineral wealth.

    They of course had to supply everything via Moscow and the war was tremendously expensive, but they kept at it for 20 years, before a sudden hasty departure from McCarran International Airport, with a grisly photo of what appeared to be a showgirl festooned with plumage, plummeting from on high from what appeared to be an Antonov she was clinging to the landing gear of, widely circulated abroad.

    1. Eclair

      Whatever you’re smoking, Wukchumni, I want some! I will never drive through that basin and range landscape again without the image of a plumed ‘showgirl’ dangling from the landing gear of a lumbering Antonov, running through my brain.

  26. Milton


    Building owners won’t make the transition from fossil-fuel energy all by themselves, said Aguirre-Torres, and state-funded incentive programs are often complex and sluggish.
    So Ithaca is exploring a new solution to fund and motivate building owners to decarbonize: private equity.

    Another paean to private, virtuous enterprise and how this will save humanity from the evils of gov’t-induced climate change. Ready your pepsid after this steaming pile…

  27. Wukchumni

    Welcome to the Pyrocene – The fiery world we’ve created Grist (furzy)
    We’ve been here almost 20 years and until the Rough Fire in 2015, had lived a pretty charmed life in terms of charred yard. Now on just the other side of Paradise, there’s almost a fait accompli that something wicked this way comes a conflagration, always with a scorched earth policy.

    We walked on the JMT for around the last 8 miles coming down into Yosemite Valley, and there’s this one burn area from a 2013 lightning strike fire that goes on for a few miles and was just ruthless, leaving a few trees alive here and there, but didn’t miss much. The occupying force sent in by the victor in battle is the groundcover whitethorn, which has a somewhat prickly thorn as you’d guess from it’s name, and it spreads rapidly not allowing anything else to grow in its stead, adios forest and the shade it gave (the difference in the unmolested forest on the trail below was like night & day) and Hello! to a sunbaked hellscape with your legs being ad hoc scratching posts.

    It’s not a good trade. Were we to clear out the duff in the forest for the trees and thin out their ranks instead, we’d have a fighting chance to keep our upright standing citizens alive.

    1. Kouros

      “Were we to clear out the duff in the forest for the trees and thin out their ranks instead, we’d have a fighting chance to keep our upright standing citizens alive.”

      But that means active forest management, that costs money. The cheap way – until it isn’t – is fire suppression, because doesn’t happen that often (sic!) so little $$$, and clearcuts.

      Good old European forestry with their sophisticated silvicultural practices that actually manage the forests and promote sheltered natural regeneration be damned…

      1. HotFlash

        Not to mention NA First Nations practices. I can deal with losing *some* of my childhood heroes — Cosby and Smoky, whether
        The Bear or Robinson– OK. But pls leave Captain Kangaroo aloooooone!

  28. JCC

    I just read the article on the continuation of the Microsoft Browser Wars. I cannot understand why people don’t switch to good, user friendly, Linux distros like Ubuntu/Fedora/Red Hat/CentOS (and others).

    Particularly those that have rock solid but semi-obsolete Apple MacBooks that can no longer get updates from Apple. The hardware is still as good as anything anyone can buy today and will run Linux distributions like nobody’s business.

    And the MS OS is still one of the most bug-filled and insecure op systems ever invented.

    1. RMO

      I can. I consider myself moderately capable but my attempts to move to Linux haven’t exactly been “user friendly.” I’ve tried it on two laptops. The first time, a year and a half ago was when the hard drive in my (fairly new) laptop failed. I figured I might as well try Linux finally. So first of all there’s a pile of information on all the versions and sub-versions of Linux and it was rather confusing just what one to try. Then there’s the process of downloading a copy, followed by installing a program to check the download for integrity and validity. Then I had to find a program to make the boot/install that goes on a USB drive, run it, format the drive correctly for installation and copy to it. Install time! No… nothing happening. Attempts to fumble around with startup options lead nowhere. More research leads to surprising discoveries about UEFI and secure boot. Including the discovery that my laptop (like many) requires you to enter UEFI from a running OS in order to alter startup options so that it will boot from the USB drive and install Linux. Instructions for how to do that are contradictory and confusing as well. At that point I installed Windows on the new drive – which would now allow me to reconfigure the UEFI but frankly I was sick and tired of messing around and just wanted the laptop running again so I left it with Windows. Cut to recently when I decide to finally install Linux. Much messing around with internet searches for info on UEFI and much trial and error and I get it set up so that, miracle of miracles! it starts to install… then it hangs with an error message saying it cannot install because the computer uses Inter Rapid Storage Technology. The error message does contain a link to a page which promises instructions on how to deal with this. The page has no really usable information for me. Much searching leads to little success in solving this problem. A frustrated search along the lines of “is there a Linux install that works with Intel RST?” leads to a few forum hits which have some unfortunate person such as myself asking this question and being answered with derision and much angry talk about how Intel RST is terrible code, the work of the Devil and how anyone dumb enough to even ask about using it deserves the bastinado on general principles. Much, much more searching finally leads me to instructions that actually work for me when it comes to switching the computer from RST to AHCI. At that point ( a few days ago) I felt exhausted so I haven’t moved ahead yet on doing the installation.

      Microsoft and Apple are both evil but it’s not entirely their malevolence that results in Linux being on less than 3% of laptops and desktops.

      1. Tom Bradford

        A lot of sympathy with your experience. I began trying to switch to Linux as far back as Coral Linux in 2000 and accumulated disks for fifteen different distributions over the ensuing years, all of which defeated me for many of the reasons you give, plus a certain elitism in the Linux community towards those who only want an OS rather than a skill and/or intellectual challenge.

        However with, admittedly, some underlying understanding gained from my struggles over those years and with the impending demise of Windows 7 I was able to successfully make the switch to Linux Mint, based on Ubuntu, and if you haven’t tried this I would recommend it. It installed easily on three laptops and a PC in my household and my technically indifferent wife had no difficulty migrating to it from Windows.

        Some effort and application is needed in order to break free of Microsoft’s hand-holding, but that hand-holding is the reason many people are quite happy to stick with Windows.

        1. RMO

          Mint is what I currently have lined up to try. The next step is to fire the laptop up with the USB boot drive in place to see if the changes I made from Intel RST to AHCI are what finally do the trick. As I said to a Linux using friend (he’s extremely tech savvy – he’s an EE who has worked in both hardware and software since the 80s and worked on SGI and Cray supercomputers) “Dammit! I want to love you Linux, why do you make it so hard for me?” :-)

          If there was an agreed upon compromise “beginners” version of Linux which could be downloaded from a trusted source and had what is needed to allow installation without messing about in the UEFI disabling secure boot, RST etc. – essentially making it like installing Windows or OS-X – I think it could make greater inroads. I have trouble imagining the Linux community as it exists now supporting something like this as I can see all the arguments against any degree of standardization or promotion of a single version as well as the noisy infighting around all the perceived drawbacks of whatever versions are considered for something like this. Too bad because the world would be a lot better off with many more people on an open source system.

          1. Carolinian

            Do understand that Intel and Microsoft have been going out of their way to make installing Linux more difficult than it was a few years ago.

            But I used only Microsoft for years and had to teach myself quite a bit about that to keep the kludge running (and I still use Microsoft as well as LInux).

            Presumably the big appeal of Mac is that you don’t have to do these things but I like computers so to me it’s a challenge. FWIW Android is based on Linux and millions of people use that without problem every day. The real root of you complaint is that commercial computer companies don’t see a percentage in offering ready to go computers installed with Linux and the OS itself is all about volunteers who see their target as people like them.

          2. Ian Perkins

            I want to love you Linux, why do you make it so hard for me?

            I think you will love Linux once you manage to install it. I had trouble with UEFI/Secure Boot when I abandoned Windows two or three years ago (luckily no Intel RST problems – maybe my laptop lacks this stuff?), but since then it’s been no looking back. I don’t miss anything about Windows, and there’s no way I’d go for it now, as there’s a whole lot I was glad to see the back of – and Mac doesn’t look that much better.

            As for all the different versions, or ‘distros’, of Linux, I think some of them are aimed at users with specialised wants and needs – eg. Arch, so far as I understand it, is for hackers, and I guess from your frustration that’s not you. Mint sounds like a good one for you, as like me, you seem to want something ordinary that’ll do the job without requiring you to be a geek – except, of course, when first installing it after Windows and Intel have done their best to foil you!

  29. Wukchumni

    Results clearly showed a massive increase in strontium-90 as testing continued. Children born in 1963 (the height of bomb tests) had an average of 50 times more than those born in 1951 (when large-scale tests began). Medical journal articles detailed results. Information on the tooth study was sent to Jerome Wiesner, science advisor to President John F. Kennedy.

    I’m riddled with radiation
    My mom smoked half a pack a day
    While I was en route on time delay
    But I wouldn’t have had it any other way

    1. Lightningclap

      Did anyone else here participate? Somewhere I think I still have my “I gave my teeth for science” button.

      1. Wukchumni

        I wanted to give up my tonsils for science in order to gorge myself on ice cream afterwards, but my parents didn’t fall for a 60’s fad.

        1. Dictynna

          I had my tonsils removed in Summer 1963, but for real medical reasons. I too heard of the ice cream reward, but I never received it.
          That was a bad year for me healthwise…earlier in the year I was among the last ‘cohort’ of kids getting measles before the vaccination became available.

  30. Michael

    WHO Covid origins:

    The US never would have allowed an investigation of the sort the WHO proposed had the shoe been on the other foot.

    It is hard to prove a hypothetical, especially one involving a negative, but I am sure you agree China’s state media would at least not show the same disinterest as America’s state media – official and unofficial – has so far.

  31. Wukchumni

    One of the leads in the WaPo:

    Afghans waving national flag stage protests in several cities, defying Taliban rule

    So it has come full circle with our country whipped into a frenzy of flag waving, to the endgame of a war where flag waving was all that is left.

  32. ambrit

    Zeitgeist Watch:
    There is a heavy traffic on conservative youtube and the like questioning Biden’s mental health.This has markedly increased since the Kabul Debacle.
    Is the 25th Amendment being teed up?

  33. Hiroyuki

    “This is not to say that vaccination rates and masking policy are unimportant. ”
    Can someone explain that to me please?
    I mean if the opposite were true and the highest vaccine states were doing the best, it would be important news ?

  34. ewmayer

    “Four hundred years of melancholy—why Robert Burton’s masterpiece speaks to our pandemic age Prospect Magazine (Anthony L)” — One of my household projects this year is to reduce the space needed by my DVD collection by removing most of the DVDs from their original 1-disc cases and combining them in 6-pack DVD cases, which are eaxctly the same size. (Beyond 6 one needs a wider multipack-case; the thus-emptied clamshells go – I hope – to recycling). The 6-packs are grouped by theme and/or director. One of the common-theme 6ers is for the “doomsday rock” theme: it starts with the 50s George Pal classic When Worlds Collide; the most-recently-dated one I had on hand, DVD #5, was Deep Impact. (No, the completely-ludicrous Armageddon is not in there.) What to do by way of filling that #6 slot? My search there led me to Lars von Trier’s 2011 film Melancholia – IMHO a masterpiece. Anyhow, the opening montage, “overture” if you will, as it is set to the overture from Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde — That keeps striking me as a metaphor for the unfolding human-caused catastrophe of global warming. The look on Kirsten Dunst’s face is humanity, once “what have we wrought?” becomes undisputably clear, and the falling birds are all the other species suffering and going extinct due to our greed, selfishness and shortsightedness.

  35. Ian Perkins

    12 Ways to Break the USA.

    Where are Alaska and Hawaii? Do they microwave, barbecue, or fry their food – or eat it raw? Will they go to heaven, or do they like hip-hop? How’s an ignorant European like myself, who couldn’t find Minnesota on the map, supposed to understand the USA? “Such disregard to detail results in sloppy stereotyping” – how true!

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