Links 8/20/2021

New York officer rescues fallen man from subway train (video) BBC. More important, I think, is that the officer had civilian assistance.

Large OneCoin Transactions Worth Over $10 Billion Related To Cryptoqueen Traced To Seychelles Finance Feeds

Rain fell at the normally snowy summit of Greenland for the first time on record CNN (dk).


Afghanistan: The End of the Occupation Anne Bonny Pirate (Darth Bobber).

Taliban coffers swelled by proceeds of Afghanistan’s shadow economy FT

The Taliban are sitting on $1 trillion worth of minerals the world desperately needs CNN. “The world.”

Taliban 2.0: Older, media-savvy and still duplicitous Politico. So, a State like any other?

Teamwork makes the dream work:

Afghanistan updates: Protesters fly Afghan national flag in defiance of Taliban ABC

‘The Taliban doesn’t control the whole country’: SAS-trained Afghan commandos join armed guerrilla resistance movement led by deposed Vice-President Saleh in Panjshir Valley Daily Mail

Apparently, the Afghan Military Had Something in Common With the Massachusetts State House Charles Pierce, Esquire


U.S. Public Health Professionals Routinely Mislead the Public about Infectious Diseases: True or False? Dishonest or Self-Deceptive? Harmful or Benign? Peter Sandman. From 2016, still germane. This is not CT. It’s a careful albeit unsparing examination of how the public health establishment approaches ethical issues in scientific communication. Accepting its premises, I’d speculate that a combination of sclerotic institutions, the dangers/opportunities of a pandemic, and The American Tradition Of Rugged Individualism have stressed existing public health “norms” to the breaking point. And, of course, forty years of neoliberalism.

How CDC data problems put the U.S. behind on the delta variant WaPo (Urblintz). No surprise to NC readers: See here (hospital data) and here (VAERS).

* * *

New SARS-CoV-2 variants have changed the pandemic. What will the virus do next? Science (dk). Since we don’t know, we have naturally not bet the farm on a single solution, vaccines, but are also bringing new treatments online (especially repurposed drugs already proven to be safe), along with stressing Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions, like improved ventilation and masks. Oh, wait….

White House rolls out COVID-19 booster plan, but the FDA and CDC have yet to have their say Fierce Pharma. Facts on the ground….

Why Covid regulations may be around longer than you think FT. We don’t have regulations in the ordinary meaning of the word; see above. What we have is whatever the hive mind of Philosopher Kings in the PMC have decided is this month’s good idea and promulgated in the press.

* * *

Those anti-COVID plastic barriers probably don’t help and may make things worse New York Times (AM).

Normalizing Community Mask-Wearing: A Cluster Randomized Trial In Bangladesh (PDF) NBER. n=341,830. From the Results: “Our intervention demonstrates a scalable and cost-effective method to promote mask adoption and save lives, and identifies a precise combination of intervention activities that were necessary. Comparisons between pilots shows that free mask distribution alone is not sufficient to increase mask-wearing, but adding periodic monitoring in public places to remind people to wear the distributed masks had large effects on behavior. The absence of any further effect of the village police suggests that the operative mechanism is not any threat of formal legal sanctions, but shame and people’s aversion to a light informal social sanction. The persistence of effects for 10 weeks and after the end of the active intervention period, as well as increases in physical distancing, all point to changes in social norms as a key driver of behavior change.”

New Study Sheds Light on the Roots of Today’s Vaccine Hesitancy Bloomberg. On Wakefield.

* * *

Baby pangolins on my plate: possible lessons to learn from the COVID-19 pandemic Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine (Ignacio). From 2020, still germane.


4 reasons the US and China are not destined for war South China Morning Post

Can China Step Off Its Property Treadmill? Not Likely Bloomberg

China passes tough new online privacy law Channel News Asia

China considers legal changes to curb noise pollution from the country’s notorious dancing grannies South China Morning Post

Vietnam’s biggest city issues stay-home order as COVID-19 deaths soar Reuters

The slow decay of the Malay political establishment Asia Link


Myanmar military ‘can be punished for atrocities’ UCA News. Via the International Criminal Court.

Expert economists: Military’s management of Myanmar’s banking system is catastrophic and incompetent Myanmar Now. And our own bankers set a high bar!

New Zealand’s Ardern vows to stamp out Delta COVID-19 variant as outbreak widens Channel News Asia. Meanwhile: 1pm Daily Update IMDB (vlade). Plot summary:

Set in a dystopian world where autocratic and populist leaders are in charge of the USA, China, UK, Brazil and many other nations. 1pm Daily Update takes place in the imaginary island nation of New Zealand, a utopian society where science, facts, strong leadership and a genuine care for its people and environment take precedence over money and big business.

Dang. I don’t see “billionaire bolthole” in there, or “bunkers.” Perhaps in some future episode, when the casting is firmed up?

The Koreas

S.Korea to grant legal status to animals to tackle abuse, abandonment Reuters


Scoop: CIA director raised China concerns with Israeli prime minister Axios

Iran hopes to defeat COVID with home-grown crop of vaccines Nature


Dominic Raab under pressure to quit after delegating ‘rescue call’ for Afghan translators Guardian

Ken Loach: Keir Starmer Is Mr Bean Trying to Act Like Stalin Jacobin

The Caribbean

Time After Time: 20 Years of Negotiations in Venezuela Caracas Chronicles. Miami LLC.

Once Again, the Vultures Circle Haiti Black Agenda Report

Aid flows a bit more quickly into Haiti; challenges remain AP

Biden Responds To Aid Request By Deporting Haitian Doctor The Onion

Biden Administration

FTC Alleges Facebook Resorted to Illegal Buy-or-Bury Scheme to Crush Competition After String of Failed Attempts to Innovate (press release) FTC. When Lina Kahn’s FTC amends a complaint, it doesn’t [family blog] around.

We’re already paying for it Interfluidity. Back-of-the-envelope calculation:

On the face of it, the United States collects taxes equal to just under a quarter of its GDP, while social democracies like Denmark or Norway collect taxes that amount to 40% to 50% of GDP. But how much do Americans pay once the plutocracy tax is taken into account? A recent study by Carter C. Price and Kathryn A. Edwards suggests that between 1975 and 2018, the share of taxable income paid to the top 1% grew by 13 percentage points, from 8% to 22%. Treating that additional income as our plutocracy tax, and naively summing it with the overt tax share of GDP, we get a total tax share of 38%, within spitting distance of Norway.”

Well worth a read.

Man surrenders after claiming to have bomb near US Capitol AP

Imperial Collapse Watch

Assabiya Wins Every Time The Tablet

Guillotine Watch

Jeff Bezos’ house has artisan soft-serve ice cream on tap now New York Post. With rocket-shaped sprinkles?

Class Warfare

U.S. Probes Trafficking of Teen Migrants for Poultry-Plant Work Bloomberg

Nabisco workers strike around the nation Northwest Labor Press

Mapping the Best and Worst Bus Stops in San Francisco Bloomberg

Encountering infinity: the aspects of reality we cannot comprehend Physics World

Antidote du jour (via):

Winter is coming.

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. Baby Gerald

    Happy Friday, NCers. With all that is going down in Afghanistan right now, I just wanted to share this excellent analysis by guest Pepe Escobar on yesterday afternoon’s GrayZone’s Moderate Rebels podcast with Ben Norton and Max Blumenthal.
    With a lot of time on the ground in that region in general and in Afghanistan in particular, Pepe’s perspective is one of the best I have come across so far and this could be one of the most enjoyable yet information-packed two hours one can spend on this topic.

  2. zagonostra

    >New Study Sheds Light on the Roots of Today’s Vaccine Hesitancy – Bloomberg.

    I can’t get to article behind paywall. But the label “Vaccine Hesitancy” is a euphemism. What I am seeing is many, or at least some, outraged citizens venting at local school board meetings and local gov’t townhalls. There was a Twitter clip I viewed yesterday of a young mother at a San Diego local gov’t board meeting with a cogent, statistical backed up, and heated, argument against CV vax mandates. It had 1.3M views and went viral. I don’t have a Twitter account so I don’t know how to link to. It was posted under “Quoth the Raven” and I’m sure you can find it.

    Say what you will on the virtues of either side, mandating CV vaxs or not, this has become the most divisive issue since Slavery and the Civil War, more divisive than Trump. Am I overstating the case? I have relative who won’t let his mom see grandchildren unless she gets CV vaxed. It’s divisiveness is underscored by the ~50% split between vax and non-vaxed and it in spite of trying to correlate it to political party affiliation or Right vs. Left, it is creating fissures that cross over these simplified classifications.

    There is anger out here. Where this going, I have not idea, but it is forever changing the pattern of social cohesion within this and other countries.

    1. Stop reading fash shits

      1. Stop reading Quoth the Raven.
      2. This country was already divided. The fact that these morons were upset about NIMBY shit or made up QAnon shit nonsense meant the average person didn’t have a vested interest in taking a side against them. Now that it’s a health issue, masking v non masking is literally existential.

      Sorry that some people don’t believe that government and civics is the collective will of society.

      1. hunkerdown

        Neoliberals are, for all practical intents and purposes, armed and dangerous terrorists, and should always be treated as such wherever they appear in public.

        What does masking have to do with vaccine hesitancy, outside of the elite-PMC bubble which you seem to think we owe something to?

        1. Aumua

          To be fair, when it comes to the “outraged citizens” showing up at school board meetings, most of them are just as outraged about mask mandates too

          Also they’re outraged because they’re being pumped full of it. Incited, if you will by some proper bastards.

      2. Carolinian

        Perhaps one problem with our “collective will” is those who are always going on about “some people.”

      3. The Historian

        Your last sentence grabbed me.

        “Sorry that some people don’t believe that government and civics is the collective will of society.”

        At least 69% of American voters want M4A. Do we have it?

        About 62% of Americans want a $15 minimum wage. Do we have it?

        I could cite more examples. And looking at many countries in this world, and even back in history, the collective will of society really had nothing to do with the governments they had.

        So yea, I’m one of those some people who don’t believe that government and civics is the collective will of society – unless of course your definition of society excludes everyone but the top maybe 10%?

        Maybe the average person can see the rot in what our government is telling us and find that QAnon and other sites are no less believeable. This is truly sad, but the averge person didn’t do this to themselves, their government did.

        1. lance ringquist

          this is a pretty decent piece on why even minorities no longer believe the lies coming from the party of nafta, the democrats.

          if this piece was done by CNN(the legacy media), they would have searched hard to interview neo-nazi’s only and paint the opposition to the disastrous free trade economic policies of bill clinton which are still in full force today, as being racist.

          it took a democrat to get the republican agenda through.

          as told by a latino americans in texas: “He really delivered on his anti-globalisation policy,” he says. “Neoliberal expansion has really hurt both Mexico and the US, and when you have family that live there, and you can see how it’s hurt people living, their jobs, their wages, it really has increased the narco-war.

          she voted for him for economic reasons – “our salaries have increased”

          He has a strong nationalist stance, and they try to portray that as racist,” Mokarzel says. “Protecting your borders and building up your economy is something most Americans want. I don’t see how that’s racist or some kind of dog whistle.”

          BBC Homepage

          US election 2020: Why Trump gained support among minorities

          By Ashitha Nagesh
          BBC News


          22 November 2020

          1. Futility

            Thanks for the link. That was very interesting, but what I would want to know and which the BBC report does not answer is: which concrete Trump policies actually led to the perceived betterment that the persons interviewed report? I didn’t have the impression that his policies were meant to do that, to the contrary. Is it just a confusion of correlation with causation? Does anybody know of Trump policies that actually bettered the life of the working class?

            1. lance ringquist

              it does not take much to impress the average american that trump was better than bill clinton, or obama.

              i am not a trump supporter, i voted green. but i always ask democrats, what concrete material benefits did americans ever get from nafta billy clinton and empty suit obama, they cannot name one thing except obamacare, which is a privatized extraction scheme that is a failure.

              so trumps minor over haul of nafta gave some people south of the border unions and a better living, and trump also took away the investor dispute mechanism which was out right fascism.

              trumps minor incoherent attempt to reverse one of americas worst policy blunders in history, free trade with dictatorships and sweatshop/slave countries, did bring in some production and wage increases.

              how ever minor the policies were that produced, desperate radicalized americans saw this as the first time since 1993 something was done for them.

              trump got millions of more votes in 2020, than 2016.

              then biden hides behind the W.T.O. as a excuse not to give vaccines to the poor.

              trump also tried to hobble the W.T.O.

            2. lance ringquist

              here is another excellent article on why it was so easy for trump just to do a few small minimal things and look far better than nafta billy clinton, and empty suit hollowman obama to desperate radicalized americans.

              the failure of clintonism: what we face today is 100% traceable to bill clintons disastrous policies: Bill Clinton ratified reaganism long before Newt Gingrich led the GOP to victory in the 1994 congressional rout or Clinton sought to triangulate with his opponents in 1995 and after.

              basically this is a blow by blow coverage on how bill clinton turned americas largest political party into a disastrous shell of its former self. as well as how he ruined america

              Globalization has made the financial elite who donate to politicians very wealthy. But it has left millions of our workers with nothing but poverty and heartache. America became the world’s dominant economy by becoming the world’s dominant producer … creating the biggest middle class the world has ever known. But then America changed its policy. … We allowed foreign countries to subsidize their goods, devalue their currencies, violate their agreements, and cheat in every way imaginable

              robert reich supported the nordic model to as a utopia against the inevitable race to the bottom free trade creates, of course today the nordic model is in smoldering ruins:)

              bill clinton created the bomb, lit the fuse, and exploded the bomb that would engulf the world in a economic fire storm in 2008.


              A Fabulous Failure: Clinton’s 1990s and the Origins of Our Times
              by Nelson Lichtenstein
              January 29, 2018
              AddThis Sharing Buttons

            3. lance ringquist

              this is another example of why a trump type needs to do so little, to look better than a nafta democrat.

              cutting unemployment had no real net benefit of increased employment, yet nafta joe did nothing because his beliefs are the same as the Weimar republic in 1930

              i believe nafta joe biden believes that slashing wages and social spending will put people back to work and pay off their bills.

              but how can that be nafta joe when you have slashed wages already to small, people can hardly pay their bills, if they even can.


              “The Depression and Weimar’s adoption of liquidationist economics gave
              Hitler his opportunity:Bruening spent the 1st months of his
              Chancellorship trying to balance the budget:The projected deficit
              tripled during his first three months as tax collections fell.

              Bruening tried “at any price [to] make the
              government finances safe”: balancing the budget–reassuring investors
              that Germany was committed to financial orthodoxy–was Bruening’s first
              and nearly his only priority.

              Thus Bruening spent the first months of his Chancellorship trying to
              balance the budget, only to find the economic situation outrunning
              him. The projected deficit tripled during his first three months as
              tax collections fell and social insurance spending rose.

              Government expenditures were cut
              by one-third from 1928 to 1932. But fiscal retrenchment and welfare
              state cutbacks did no good, and some harm. The German economy slid
              further into the Great Depression.

              … Even after the financial crises of 1931 made expansion possible —
              because Germany was no longer on the gold standard–Bruening continued
              to hope that balancing the budget would restore investor confidence.
              In the end he enforced deflation on the economy: a December 8, 1931
              decree ordering the reduction of all fixed prices by ten percent, and
              a ten to fifteen percent cut in wages.

              From our perspective such a fall in prices would not be expected to
              help the economy. Debts would be a larger burden on the lower-price
              economy, uncertainty about the stability of the financial system would
              be greater, and so investment would fall. Bruening’s deflationary and
              budget balancing measures did not help. British attempts to cancel the
              reparations burden came too late to restore confidence while Bruening
              was still in office. Unemployment rose.”


              Recent Unemployment Cuts Made People Poorer Without Increasing Employment

              Matt Bruenig

              “Yesterday, President Biden sent a letter to Congress saying that he believes it is appropriate to allow these benefits to expire on September 6, but this and other research clearly shows that it is not appropriate, at least if your goal is to avoid needless economic devastation that dramatically cuts income and consumer spending while having virtually no impact on employment.”

      4. currentbroketeacher

        Oh, you mean the same elites who run the government who went to Obama’s huge soiree with no masks? Or Newsome who dined out wuth friends when he was scolding everyone who was doing the same thing? Or perhaps the multiple neoliberals who’ve been caught being scold hypocrites over the past year?

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      I read the article before I was weirdly locked out so no quote cut and paste.

      The “new study” in the title refers to a recent “finding” by some sort of sociologist that covid vax “hesitancy” stems from a 90’s article written by Dr. Andrew Wakefield, retracted in 2010, concerning MMR vaccines causing autism.

      Nary a mention of the fact that the covid vax is an experimental, inadequately tested, gene-editing “technology” never before used in humans let alone on a mass scale, that has caused more fatalities / unexpected complications than all previous vaccines combined, and has failed to get approval from a thoroughly captured fda for the last 10 years because it was too dangerous. Also no mention of the complete inability of the “public health” establishment to get its shit together on any aspect of the “pandemic,” the advocacy of vaccine ghouls / profiteers like bill gates or anthony fauci, or the release of any liability for big pharma which is literally printing cash as a result.

      Don’t bother.

      1. Carolinian

        Thanks for reading so I don’t have to. Perhaps the prob is that the elites see their fellow citizens as fractious children who won’t do what their betters tell them to do. This provides a convenient excuse for all of society’s problems and lets them off the hook.

        The same sorts of attitudes were common in 19th century Britain where the aristocrats blamed the poor and claimed they brought on their own suffering through overbreeding. Jonathan Swift satirically suggested that these high born could deal with the many poor by simply eating them.

        Meanwhile, even more inconvenient for these scolds, are studies that show jab resistance highest among the least educated and the most educated. The former have developed their distrust through life experience and the latter through an intellectual curiosity that the smug PMCs so conspicuously lack.

      2. rowlf

        I like your Nary a mention summary. I’d add that Line up, shut up, and pick up your Dixie cup is a turn off to many people with memories and they will likely hang back and fade into the surrounding jungle.

      3. Futility

        “[mRNA technology] has failed to get approval from a thoroughly captured fda for the last 10 years because it was too dangerous”
        I don’t think that’s it. There simply wasn’t any request for approval submitted to the FDA in that time frame. Biontech was working on cancer medications based on mRNA because that’s where the money is.
        Making vaccines against, say, maleria would have been feasible but was not done because big pharma cannot make money like this (that’s going to change immediately once maleria will be more widespread further north due to climate change). Covid offered a unique opportunity to use mRNA technology to make a vaccine that would really make a lot of money.
        mRNA is not ‘gene-editing’.

        1. tegnost

          (that’s going to change immediately once maleria will be more widespread further north due to climate change).

          Well that’s a relief…the market will fix it!

          1. Futility

            That’s not what I meant. I rather wished to express the cynicism of there being a possible solution for a problem but not going after it since there is not yet money to be made and the disregard for lives not situated in rich countries.

              1. Futility

                Well, good for him. So, the free market will save us all? But who’s gonna pay for it? Bill Gates foundation? I doubt they’ll make it available for costs. Their Cocvid vaccine wasn’t.

      4. Dr. Strangelove

        Tens of millions of people have gotten the mRNA vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna. Where are all these maimed and dead people because of the vaccine? I have several friends who are doctors at large hospitals. The maimed and dead are the unvaccinated. The vaccinated show up because of breakthrough cases, not because vaccine complications.

        1. Carolinian

          You are arguing a straw man. Obviously if large percentages became ill upon vaxxing then the vaccines, if you can call them that, never would have gotten past the initial trial.

          The skepticism is about the long term effects and, once again obviously, those are unknown since the vax has been injected into people for less than a year. However we already know that the protection wears off much faster than was expected so chalk that up as one long term effect. In Israel, where the great majority of adults are vaxxed, many are becoming ill with Covid and they are vaxxed ill–some of them seriously ill.

          There are certainly anti-vaxxers who believe nobody should be vaxxed but the more reasonable position is that the elderly and most vulnerable should be vaxxed rather than universal vaxxing, particularly of children who will experience any unknown complications for the rest of their lives.

          1. FluffytheObeseCat

            “…..universal vaxxing, particularly of children who will experience any unknown complications for the rest of their lives.”

            The delta variant that dominates circulation now is roughly as contagious as chickenpox. So, you, and the anti-vax commenters above are arguing – de facto – that it is safer or more beneficial for the U.S. over the long term for those children to experience unknown complications of surviving delta covid for the rest of their lives. Without any national scale effort to mitigate or prevent it.

            This may be the correct policy. The current experimental vaccines may do more harm than good on a population-scale, decades-long basis.

            However, you, katniss with her copious scare quotes, and others have been very, very careful to avoid admitting it clearly and honestly in comments. That is true in every online discussion or article that I have read in which the writer argues against the current vaccines. This pattern of elision is as disingenuous as that of the CDC, Walensky, Fauci, etc.

            There are known consequences to allowing covid to run entirely unchecked through the under 12 population. We already known that on an immediate, acute basis, a percentage of them do become very ill, and some die. It may be that allowing this small number of deaths and disablements is best for the national and global population; that there is no better way. It may also be that allowing this sub-population to live with long term sequelae is also best for the human population as a whole.

            But BSing about is always best for no one except the BSer.

            1. Carolinian

              Did I say that children are not going to get Covid? What is this BS you are referring to?

              What I am saying is that it is irresponsible to give this experimental emergency drug to children and you don’t have to take my word for because it was the CDC’s own recommendation until a few months ago. And frankly if it was my decision and my child I certainly wouldn’t be basing it on the expertise of a blog commenter, no offense.

              We can scare ourselves into doing almost anything but better not to be glib when it’s your kids.

        2. mn

          Dr Strangelove if you have MD friends then you should know negative remarks about vaccines is taboo.
          I have had a few of those maimed people, a woman with uncontrollable shaking that couldn’t stand or walk unassisted, a very young person that was very sick, discharged with referral to rheumatologist for possible lupus and quite a few chest pain probable myocarditis in healthy, younger, fit men. These people won’t find it too funny when they get their hospital bills

      5. Procopius

        I agree. I couldn’t understand how he could connect the vaccine against SARS-Cov-2 with Wakefield’s study, which seems to me to have left an entirely different residue. Despite the click-bait headline, not worth reading.

    3. Chris S

      Here is an article from South Korea from May, which reports 93 deaths out of 1.7 million people who got the Pfizer vaccine, a rate under 0.01%:

      The numbers come from the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA), who are presumably more trustworthy than the CDC.

      Although the newspaper reporting this is published “in association with the New York Times,” so maybe the dreaded stain of the NY Times automatically discredits it /s

    4. Hiroyuki

      Am I alone in thinking that the divisiveness is not an accident?
      A nation divided is a nation that cant ask for nice things like Medicare for all.
      stay busy fighting amongst yourselves over the vaccines while we grow ever richer and more powerful.

  3. Mikerw0

    So, as pointed out here Afghanistan was doing exactly what it was designed to do. Feeding the Blob lots of money without an end in sight. No wonder the Blob is so mad at Biden.

    I am willing as the Congress Critters handwring, hold hearings and make appearances on the echo chamber news shows none will tell the truth about anything or self examine and question what this was about.

    Finally, I doubt we will see many stories in the MSM such as Propublica’s reporting (which yes does cite WAPO).

    1. Pelham

      Speaking of the Blob, do I detect a note of sour division within the Blob? The intel half says it certainly did warn of imminent chaos if the US pulled out. But the military half says the intel half gave no such warning.

      1. Procopius

        In Pepe Escobar’s article in the Asia Times he says:

        Afghan troops who had not received a salary for months were paid not to fight them.

        For some reason I never thought about it much until last week, but we’ve seen claims for years that many of the soldiers supposedly in the Afghan National Army did not exist, and the few who did exist were frequently not paid and rations were not distributed to them. This seemed to be expected by our soldiers who were supposedly “training” them. Our soldiers and officers never seemed to think they could or should do anything about it. The Marine Corps Small Wars Manual makes the point that because the Marine/Navy landing forces were always small in number, they had to establish a constabulary to engage the guerrillas. It was vital that the Marines make sure those forces were paid well, that that were paid on time, and that they were given generous rations. Knowing that the army was poorly paid, how could our soldiers have not seen this coming? Of course the Taliban were able to pay them off.

  4. dftbs

    Fantastic article by Anne Bonny on the “End of the Occupation.” I think she does a great job clearly articulating all her points. I think the most important is that this is an American loss.

    There is a sentiment amongst the American/Western “Left” that the war wasn’t lost. That it actually went according to “plan,” in so far as it was really all a successful grift, a mass looting of the public coffer. I agree that the looters did quite well, a lot of mcmansions were built in Virginia and so on. But I don’t think any of these clowns actually expected to lose the war. To their consciences, this was to be “victimless” ( they don’t count afghans as victims, perhaps not even nato soldiers). How could a bunch of goat herders beat the best military in the universe?

    In the end, they broke American power. There is a chorus of Americans, “Left” and Right that are calling for more violence. Bomb, re-invade, arm the “resistance”, thinking these things are in our power. That’s crazy, we can’t do those things. Not because we don’t have the plans, or the bombs, or lack the will (we are a bloodthirsty people). But because the realities of geopolitical power in central Asia have changed. Those bombers would need permission from Iran, China, Russia or Pakistan to get through. The Pakistanis seem to have put their foot down, and hard, allowing only for evacuation. The ISI seems to have learned the lessons of nearly 50 years of conflict, perhaps nudged by the new economic model offered by China and Russia, it will pay to have a peaceful Afghanistan regardless of who is in charge.

    I consider myself a socialist, and for me this political inclination can’t be unraveled from anti-Imperalism. At the last American election I found my sympathies leaning towards Trump, not because of any political agreement, but because I thought he would be the most inept manager of Imperial power. I thought the Democrats would be as bloodthirsty, but more competent. Joe Biden has dissuaded me of that notion. I praise his “blunder” and his honesty, intended or not, with regard to the nature and (in)abilities of American imperialism. I’ll drink to his health.

    1. Lee

      If I understood the article rightly, Afghani feminists in many instances allied themselves with both Russian and then U.S. invaders, as well as both socialist and bourgeois ideologies. First thought is that in spite of reassurances to the contrary, the Taliban will revert to type with a vengeance, particularly in regard to feminist activists and more broadly to women in general. I’ve generally regarded gender equality and anti-imperialism to be ideologically complimentary. In this instance it appears not to be the case and makes for a considerable degree of cognitive dissonance. OTOH, while in the MSM we hear much about and from the relatively privileged women who have benefited from the wars and occupations, we hear little from the women who suffered at the hands of the “liberators”.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        I imagine it will vary based on region, local deals, and actual power of the Taliban. Karzai is there. We tend to imagine fundamentalists as constants, but I think the are often reactionaries. The modern Taliban doesn’t have the US funding the worst elements anymore, and it has relations with Iran which must drive the Saudis crazy. They saw what happened to ISIS. The Russians and Iranians moved against ISIS despite Saudi/US support.

        Even the Taliban were seen to be marveling at the changes to Kabul. At some point, they have to ask why they didn’t do that. It won’t be paradise, but the Chinese and Russians are going to require real reassurances before doing business. Pakistan has had Bhutto as head of government.

        I tend to believe carrots can work. But you have to avoid obvious bs like the US had with the Buttigieg clone who fled with $169 million.

        1. Polar Socialist

          I’ve read several analysis stating that while Taliban has decent relations with Al-Qaeda (due to Al-Qaeda members marrying to Taliban families) they consider most ISIS folks crazies and actively fight against them.

          Just recently there were reports that when Taliban released prisoners from Bagram, they did not release ISIS affiliated prisoners. Almost like Taliban were Afghans first, Islamists second and don’t want to be pawns in anybody else’s game.

      2. WJ

        “while in the MSM we hear much about and from the relatively privileged women who have benefited from the wars and occupations, we hear little from the women who suffered at the hands of the “liberators”

        Yes. Because the aim of the corporate media is not the well being of women, but the profits of war.

      3. Procopius

        Unless you have lived there and know many Afghan people very well, preferably speak one or more of the languages, and have kept up with the speeches of high ranking officials in the current Taliban (and the part that has split off to join ISIS), I don’t see how you can predict what they are going to do. I am sure there are going to be some killings and crimes, because they are not the kind of disciplined army the West developed after the 18th Century. You’re right we hear little from the women who suffered at the hands of the “liberators,” we have to assume there are some, perhaps many. We only have to look at the occupation of Okinawa since 1945. There was a damned good reason Obama demanded a Status Of Forces Agreement in Iraq that would exempt American soldiers from Iraqi law. When I was stationed in Thailand in 1972 there were several soldiers in Thai prisons for rape, murder, and drug selling.

    2. Grant

      Who on the left is taking the positions you are ascribing to the left? I mean, some random person on Twitter that says they are on the left? Fine, maybe. But, which at least somewhat prominent figure or party on the left is taking those positions?

      As a leftist myself, I lay most of the blame domestically for Afghanistan’s current state at the feet of Carter and Reagan. Don’t know why people just look back 20 years. I think a whole bunch of people in this country should be on trial for war crimes, including some in the media. If a radio station in Rwanda can be tried for its connection to genocide, why can media figures who lied us into wars in places like Afghanistan and Iraq not be similarly punished? How many died because of them? And what have we done to Central America, SE Asia, South America, the Mideast? How reliant are we on war and the state/military machinery for technology and profits? What a deeply immoral society we are.

      1. dftbs

        You are right, I do think the internet does lead to the ascription of “takes” as indicative of broad opinion, I apologize if you think I’ve made such a generalization. I agree that the present situation in Afghanistan finds its origin deeper in the past than this latest American expedition, perhaps in the folly of some other empire along the Khyber pass nearly two centuries ago. But I think that in the end of this story, and the epilogue to be written, is a hair more interesting than the beginning.

        I also think there is a sense of defeatism or “doomerism” within the western “Left.” The belief that TPTB always win, that humanity is doomed, etc. I think this ignores the tremendous progress humanity has made outside of western society, all of it largely led not by “leftists” but by Socialists and Communists.

        This defeatist outlook warps the reality of the present situation because Americans, “Left” or Right, can’t comprehend that they lost. They still cling to the notion that we can do something (violent) to change the situation; or that perhaps we are pulling a fast one on our other geopolitical competitors. An honest accounting would disavow us of so many of the fictions we have about ourselves, not least of which is our notion of being the infallible and invulnerable good guys.

        Commenter S.N. shared this essay in the comments below,

        and I think its worth a read; certainly more clear than the key strokes I put down during the work day.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > There is a sentiment amongst the American/Western “Left” that the war wasn’t lost.

      When you win a war, there’s a victory parade.

      That those who sponsored the war profited greatly doesn’t mean the war was won. The two have nothing to do with each other. Any Nazis who escaped with their wealth to, say, Argentina won World War II. That doesn’t mean Germany won World War II. To say otherwise is childish cynicism.

      1. Dftbs

        Lambert, I certainly agree the war was lost. I am identifying a thread of thought amongst the western “left” that it all went according to plan. Since the plan was for wealth transfer from public coffers to private hands. It’s similar to the belief that the US intelligence apparatus is behind every event in the world, but also completely incompetent. These beliefs come from a world view that is western centric and ignores that the rest of the world has agency also. They don’t sit around and wait for us to do things. They aren’t extras in our movie.

        I think that not only was the war lost, but American power itself is largely broken in the wake of this defeat. Hence why we were kicked out by a diplomatic consortium of the Taliban and its neighbors, and our inability to “go back in.” I don’t think TPTB bargained for that.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      The question arises . . . why did the couple of TexDems who went back .. . .go back? That’s a real question expressing a hope that real research will eventually discover real answers.

  5. griffen

    Of course any requirement for a Dr Evil lookalike is having soft serve ice cream at the ready. When you’ve amassed an incredible fortune AND went into space, what else is there to conquer?

  6. The Rev Kev

    “Jeff Bezos’ house has artisan soft-serve ice cream on tap now’

    ‘911. What’s your emergency?’

    ‘It’s Jeff. He….he seems to be having a heart attack. Send an ambulance quick. I think that it’s all that bloody ice cream that did it.’

    1. Verifyfirst

      Well no, here in the US, ambulances are not going to be available in many places, due to Covid cases. Furthermore, most Americans do not call ambulances anymore, due to the cost–they call Uber. if calling an ambulance for another person–a stranger–it is considered polite to ask whether they can afford it, and thus want the ambulance called (tricky if they are unconscious). Pro tip–if the ambulance crew treats you at the scene, no transport, that can be much cheaper.

      I’m sure Jeff has a physician on retainer and a helicopter to take him where he wants to go…..

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        I just assumed he’s trying to move into celebrity status and his plane ride didn’t buy him the accolades he hoped. Ive noticed every Amazon ad I’ve seen since then is about that click ate change pledge.

        Now look, Bezos is eating Avocado flavored ice cream. What a wild and crazy guy? In the end, he’s just a rich kid who started selling books on line circumventing sales tax collections amassing a fortune and beating prices. He wants Musk’s online defenders and to get invites to Obama’s house.

  7. Keith

    A little more drama for team Biden, Politico is reporting that State is charging up to $2000 for flights out of Afghanistan. Non-citizens are being charged more. While not exactly new, not a good headline to float.

    A selection from yhe same newsletter,

    AMERICANS NOT IN KABUL CURRENTLY S.O.L.: When Biden and administration officials say U.S. troops will remain in Afghanistan until all Americans are evacuated, what they really mean is, as of this moment, they will stay until all Americans in Kabul are evacuated.

    Should be a fun political circus for a few more newscycles

        1. tegnost

          I’m sure their private promises are good, it’s the public ones you need to watch out for…

    1. marym

      Politico reporter last night: UPDATE: @StateDeptSpox confirms to me that State will now stop asking evacuees to sign promissory notes ahead of evacuation flights out of Afghanistan…@StateDeptSpox Price to me — “In these unique circumstances, we have no intention of seeking any reimbursement from those fleeing Afghanistan.”

      Whether it’s a good law or not, when it should be waived, how soon in the bureaucratic process the waiver should be decided, and whether this waiver would have happened/will hold true without media attention are good questions, but repatriation reimbursement for non-government private citizens and third country nationals is the law.

      I was wondering about potential evacuees not in Kabul. Apparently 20 years isn’t enough time to make a plan.

      1. Carolinian

        According to the Pat Lang site the US embassy did tell everyone to get out about two weeks ago. It’s not like what happened was that big a surprise.

        But in the now surely the Bidenistas should be negotiating with the Taliban for an orderly exit of Americans at least.

        1. MonkeyBusiness

          Supposedly there’s still around 15K Americans stuck in Afghanistan. They must have been busy sucking the lifeblood out of the country, they completely missed the evacuation order. Or maybe we now have too many Youtubers.

          1. Carolinian

            Well even by Biden’s planned schedule they only had another month. Think I would have been long gone.

        2. marym

          I’m not even sure whether I meant Biden, US citizens, or Afghans wanting to get out are the ones who should have had some sort of plan. I agree with your statement about being “long gone”, given Trump’s and Biden’s stated intentions even before the 2 weeks notice. I did read that there’s a big backlog in processing visa applications dating from before Biden.

          From AP reporter @JimLaPorta on twitter this afternoon “Officials: US helicopters ferried 96 Afghans for evacuation, signaling military flights occurring outside Kabul airport. CIA/DIA/SOF collecting up U.S. and Afghans from outside Kabul Airport for sortie rescue.” and Biden commented at a press conference that they are communicating with the Taliban, so that’s good news.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > . @StateDeptSpox confirms to me that State will now stop asking evacuees to sign promissory notes ahead of evacuation flights out of Afghanistan

        But what if the evacuation flight is out-of-network?

      3. Procopius

        I still believe most contractors working for the ANA left in May, and any remaining know the real situation in their area, whether they are in danger or not, and have decided their risk is tolerable. The fact is we’ve been lied to about the nature and beliefs of the Taliban. Are they the savage, bloodthirsty, untrustworthy barbarians the CIA has been telling us? Who knows?

  8. The Rev Kev

    ‘Set in a dystopian world where autocratic and populist leaders are in charge of the USA, China, UK, Brazil and many other nations. 1pm Daily Update takes place in the imaginary island nation of New Zealand, a utopian society where science, facts, strong leadership and a genuine care for its people and environment take precedence over money and big business.’

    Unable to tolerate a country dealing successfully with this pandemic which would make them look incompetent, autocratic and populist leaders from the USA, UK, Brazil, etc. send their agents out to spread this virus to those countries having success to ensure that they too share the same fate as theirs. These agents are aided and abetted by local populists who sell the mantra of ‘living with the virus.’

    1. Wukchumni

      I asked my buddy in Auckland how things were going in the midst of the outbreak and resultant lockdown, and this was his response:

      The town looks like Tombstone before the big shootout (again). It’s not too bad but once you start to think you’re special everything feels like an imposition. The worst part by far is never knowing when it’ll end although to tell the truth it’s hard to imagine what it’s like there. Something that puzzles me is how places like the southern states function at all?

      1. Lee

        Meanwhile, here in the SF bay area, there seems to be a good deal of confusion. A BART spokesperson was celebrating the fact that daily ridership is approaching 100K, with a further increase expected because of the A’s/Giants series. Schools are opening but outbreaks are closing some. Bars and restaurants are open and a long time close family friend worked just one shift as a bartender and got a breakthrough Covid infection. He’s in his fourth day and although moderately ill he has yet to develop problems breathing. Fearful of medical costs, he hasn’t sought medical advice or treatment. I’m going to yell at him today and hopefully that will get him off his butt and to a doctor.

        1. Carolinian

          Here in my town a bicycle race is scheduled downtown tonight with crowds expected to line the route. Our SC Covid death rate is trending very much up.

          Perhaps the current upsurge is less about Delta and more about Biden declaring Covid victory at the beginning of the summer.

          1. tegnost

            now we have two presidents who could’ve saved themselves simply by saying “Wear a mask.”, but who instead said “We’re open for Business!”

      2. ChrisPacific

        It’s very hard to reconcile things like the national lockdown over a single case of community transmission with countries like the US and UK simply accepting high infection rates like it’s no big deal. It’s the same virus, after all. How can it be a national crisis in New Zealand and life as usual for the US and UK? It seems like one of us must be wrong. We’re convinced that it’s the ‘live with Covid’ countries, and judging by the headlines under which our lockdown was reported, they are just as convinced that it’s us (even Greenwald has accused us of going off the deep end). To each of us it seems like the other society is speaking a different language, and making decisions that are incomprehensible and destructive. It’s hard to believe that we were so closely linked culturally as little as 18 months ago, and I don’t see how we get back to that any time soon (bad news for anybody with personal or family ties that cross borders).

    2. vlade

      Interestingly enough, the “live with virus” and similar are a trivial non-entities (so far) in NZ.

      Re the bolthole/bunkers etc. Well, if they want to come, they can – but likely they will find that Kiwis bow to wealth lot less than Americans. So far, it’s hard to say that they would have any impact on NZ politics either, although I’m too far from it now to comment.

      If you’d want to get a real problem NZ has, I’d say that another NZ series should be “House renovation” or “how survive in an RE market that grows 40% YoY”.

      Which is (from what I heard) not so much foreign billionaires, but expat Kiwis flocking home en-masse in the last two years (numbers I saw were in low 100s of thousands since early 2020, which for a population of 5m is large).

      1. ChrisPacific

        The bunkers, from what I can gather, are an urban myth (really the main reason you would consider living in New Zealand would be not to have to do that, which could probably be accomplished a lot cheaper and easier in the US).

        The billionaire bolthole part, on the other hand, is true enough – at least for the moment, while we offer residency for sale at $10 million a pop (phrased less crassly in terms of ‘investment’ and ‘jobs’ of course, but it amounts to the same thing). I wouldn’t necessarily bet on that continuing indefinitely now that it’s become part of the public discourse following the Larry Page revelations. The idea that pockets stuffed full of investment capital is enough to make somebody a good Kiwi is one of those things that may end up changing in a post-Covid world.

    3. JTMcPhee

      US and other Western nations’ war plans, I recall reading, included lobbing a few spare warheads into places like Brazil and other “potential successor nations” that might not be directly wiped out in what was so archly described as a “full nuclear exchange.”

      I always wondered why the Great Powers did not just agree to site their nukes on each others’ land masses, in the cities and command and control centers, thus saving trillions of dollars on the uncertainty of “delivery systems” like ICBMs and SLBMs and cruise missiles launched from bombers standing way off… there were a couple of Star Trek episodes, not to mention several sci fi novels, based on the idea, including the one where AI would determine the effectiveness of a faux nuclear strike and then the people determined to be dead would have to report to the Disintegrator Stations in their home cities for, ah, disintegration…

      Stupid effing humans.

      We have no communal idea of what kind of political economy we might like to live within, and certainly no idea of how to conduct ourselves to keep alive the biosphere we depend on…

  9. s.n.

    This gets my vote as the best piece I’ve read this week on The Fall:

    concluding paragraphs


    “I find it very likely that most future historians will put the date of the real beginning of the collapse of the current political and geopolitical order right here, right now, at the US withdrawal from Afghanistan. Just as with any other big historical process, however, many others will point out that the seeds of the collapse were sown much farther back, and that a case can be made for several other dates, or perhaps no specific date at all. This is how we modern people look at the fall of the french ancien regime, after all. Still, it is quite obvious that the epoch of the liberal technocrat is now over. The bell has well and truly tolled for mankind’s belief in their ability to do anything else than enrich themselves and ruin things for everyone else.

    How long it will take for their institutions to disappear, or before they end up toppled by popular discontent and revolution, no one can know. But at this point, I think most people on some level now understand that it really is only a matter of time”.

    1. Henry Moon Pie

      Excellent piece. And while I fully agree about the end of the PMC claim to legitimacy, Covid has played a very big role in this. Then at a deeper level, I was struck by this:

      Put plainly: managers, through the power of managerialism, were once believed to be able to mobilize science and reason and progress to accomplish what everyone else could not, and so only they could secure a just and functional society for their subjects, just as only the rightful kings of yore could count on Providence and God to do the same thing.

      As the author alludes to but never fully discusses, Science, Reason and Progress are taking big hits these days. More and more people are coming to understand what Einstein pointed out about Science:

      For science can only ascertain what is, but not what should be.

      Without some sort of moral or ethical framework, scientists are as subject to purchase and manipulation as any of the rest of us. What “science” proclaims often turns out to be what is profitable or expedient. Science is but a tool, one that can be wielded for good or ill, but Science itself cannot determine which is which.

      Reason? A human creation that can make for lots of game-playing fun, but the output of Reason is only as good as the input, and that’s often too limited or too tainted to make Reason all that useful in looking forward in such a complex Cosmos.

      And Progress, our Mighty Fortress against despair. Always onward and upward. To the stars! Now that it is more obvious that Progress is taking us straight to Hell, it seems a less trusty shield and weapon against fear, mortality, our own finitude.

      Just as the end of the legitimacy of kings heralded a coming collapse in belief in a transcendent, anthropomorphic God, so the collapse of the PMC is a symptom of the beginning of the end of our belief in the Enlightenment Trinity of Science, Reason and Progress.

      It’s going on 140 years since Nietzsche announced the undeniable that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob was dead. Now we await another prophet to announce that Nietzsche’s Enlightenment is passing away because we no longer count ourselves as gods capable of fully understanding and ultimately controlling the Cosmos.

    2. Lee

      Great read, thanks for the link. Leaves me wondering what comes after the decline and fall of the current system. The author does not raise the distinction between the PMC and owner’s of capital. The former are for the most part well paid hired hands with some degree of social utility depending on their respective areas of expertise. Maybe it’s a question of changing what segments and strata of society to whom they are answerable.

    3. Kouros

      I am not sure that there was ever truly a period when the liberal technocrat was omnipotent. Ultimately all things are political and these “liberal technocrats” are hired ultimately by political appointees that are hired by politicians and the mantra is always to please the boss…

      The problem with the end of the “liberal technocrat” is that the politicization of bureaucracy/technocracy has reached in the professional substrate of that workforce, with team leads positions (usually union jobs) being put in hands of incompetents, or being moved to non-union and made managerial for greater control.

      It is the Challenger disaster unfolding at the level of society…

    4. Geof

      I love Malcolm Kyeyune’s caustic sense of humour. Don’t miss the recent interview with him on the Subversive podcast. I particularly enjoyed the bit where he said that Hitler’s generals were not members of the working class, and emancipation from capital would not have made them more efficient at committing war crimes on the eastern front. (It helps to know what Kyeyune looks like.)

      Also, don’t miss his previous blog post:

      Much like liberals when faced with the phenomenon of Donald Trump, people on the right today tend to interpret the tenets of CRT [Critical Race Theory] literally but not seriously. To be blunt, if people wanted to be honest about what was going on, they’d stop talking about ”a war on white people”, and start talking about ”a war on some white people, waged mostly by other white people”. . . .

      People who belong to the American social caste that produces circuit court judges really do need some means of regulating elite competition. In other words, they need a way to cancel people, to unperson them, they need a set of tools and rules and methods for partaking in ”combat” by which the weak can be culled and the strong can triumph. The alternative to this regulated elite competition – and wokeness is not the only possible shape such a competition can take – is to simply have seats at the elite table given out by lottery. . . .

      A society that picks its elite based on wokeness, whatever else one may say about it, is still a society where rich people can do something that poor people can’t, which is to pay tens of thousands of dollars a year to send their kids to preparatory schools and have it actually confer a real, meaningful advantage. . . .

      Just as the ideological aspects of CRT and wokeness in general offer cultural solutions to practical problems and demands that elites really do have (the need to cancel rivals, the need to have a flexible language that can exclude outsiders more or less arbitrarily), the physical expansion of it into every federal office and state function itself offers at least a temporary form of financial relief to the pressures of elite competition and overproduction. Every new social justice commissar at the local municipal water treatment works is yet another member of America’s growing ”unlanded college gentry” . . .

      This is in fact good news for conservatism, because quite frankly it means that even if it marshals its incredible reservoirs of incompetence, delusion and institutional grifting to successfully ruin this particular moment, it will not be able to fuck things up for itself forever. The problem is simply too big for even the tender mercies of Conservatism, Inc to smother in the cradle. The anger that is being expressed today is organic and will not go away anytime soon

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        ” A war on poor White trash, waged by rich White cash” . . .

        that might make somebody sit up and take notice . . .

    5. Lambert Strether Post author

      > This gets my vote as the best piece I’ve read this week on The Fall:

      Any article whose epigraph is Nazi legal theorist Carl Schmitt misreading Marx gets my attention, and not in a good way.,

    6. BillC

      While this piece (if not its author’s selection of epigraph) is impressive, I think the most compact nugget pinpointing the genesis of our ongoing social welfare and foreign policy failures is commenter Adelle Mundy’s:

      I quibble with the notion that technocracy is in any way whatsoever meritocratic. Technocrats advance by following rules (and increasingly, narratives), not by achievement.

  10. s.n.

    in re: the assabiya piece: now this is what I call some tiresome spinning :

    Take George W. Bush for instance: After 9/11 he invaded two Muslim countries for revenge and deterrence, but in time he changed the mission to promoting Middle East democracy, a pet theory of pro-Palestinian academics.

    just slipped that in there thinking we wouldn’t notice. just the kind of product-placement that one expects from the “Tablet” .

  11. The Rev Kev

    “The Taliban are sitting on $1 trillion worth of minerals the world desperately needs”

    Wait a minute. I thought that it was all about the women & children being left behind. And now CNN is saying it is all about the lithium being left behind? As in, ‘How did our lithium get under their mountains?’ One guy tweeted-

    ‘”We need to re-invade Afghanistan because of Women….

    Sh*t, no one is buying that…..

    Ok, Ok, let me think. Yes. Batteries. We need to liberate the oppressed lithium for our rechargeable batteries…….. Would no one think of the poor tech companies?”‘

    1. The Historian

      I totally agree with you! Excuses, excuses for going back into Afghanistan.

      When I read that article I was sure the author was confusing the word ‘need’ with the word ‘greed’. In any event, I don’t think the author understands that just because we are leaving does not mean that there will be peace any time soon in Afghanistan – there is still that nasty civil war to be fought – or that anyone, no not even China, can safely grab all that wealth that she seem to think is just there for the taking!

    2. Pat

      Now why am I reminded of that report that Mayo Pete’s office has a large map of Afghanistan’s natural resources on the wall.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > “The Taliban are sitting on $1 trillion worth of minerals the world desperately needs”

      Does make you wonder why, in twenty years of nation-building, we never developed their mines. Existing minerals oligarchs would have had a sad?

  12. Wukchumni

    I’m proud to announce the launch of KabulCoin, currently @ $2,000, which corresponds with the suggested levy for leaving the ‘stanbox for Americans wishing to be extracted.

    The value goes up based on demand that our government supply more jets & leathernecks in order to make it so, number one. (holds up giant oversized foam hand in the pattern of a waving old glory with extended finger pointing upwards in hopes of attracting a Cargo Cult C-17)

    1. The Rev Kev

      I don’t know about that offer as I was badly burned this week with all those AfghanCoins that I spent good money buying. When it came crunch time, I discovered that I had in fact purchased PotemkinVillageCoin instead.

      1. Wukchumni

        I was an early investor in PoltemkinVillageCoin, so long ago in fact, mine arrived in the mail from a P.O. Box on K Street.

  13. cocomaan

    One side effect of the vaccine mandates via private sector employers is increased social expectations that employers will manage the health of employees.

    It used to be healthcare facilities could ask for vaccinations (smoking). Manufacturers could ask prying questions about your health and subject you to degrading tests (drugs, etc).

    But this is empowerment of private sector entities to slough off norms I thought people were interested in having. Norms like, “What I do outside of work is none of your business.” This is often coming from people who consider themselves left of center, and skeptical of health insurance vs public insurance.

    I assume they ask for vaccinated status to save on insurance costs. If so, that’s a huge loss for the average person, as the awful healthcare system squeezes throats a little tighter.

    Anyone who is skeptical of corporate power should probably be skeptical of corporations putting your vaccine status into Salesforce or ADP or whatever other HR management systems are in place. God only knows what’s being done with this information.

    this is on my mind as my employer has asked about vaccine status, as have many of my friends, family, etc

    1. FreeMarketApologist

      The company I work for has mandated that staff are not permitted back in the building unless they have been vaxxed. This is in line with several other large financial firms, but is by no means the majority view (yet). That said, we do have very good remote work capabilities.

      They are looking into being able to provide shots for any staff who want them, at company expense (we have a small on-site health facility).

    2. HotFlash

      Of course your company, or their insurance company, assumes liability in case of long-term adverse effects since the mfrs are exempt.

  14. The Rev Kev

    “‘The Taliban doesn’t control the whole country’: SAS-trained Afghan commandos join armed guerrilla resistance movement led by deposed Vice-President Saleh in Panjshir Valley”

    Not really surprising this as you had formations of people fighting the communists in the countries taken over in WW2 in Europe for years afterwards. Eventually they were all snuffed out. The Panjshir Valley has a reputation of being a tough nut to crack but given time it will be subdued. This will not be like Syria where the US trains, equips & supplies Jihadists in the territory they occupy to send into Syria proper. If you look at the map in this article you will see that it is isolated. Pakistan to the east will under no circumstance help them as they want good relations with the Taliban. And Tajikistan to the north has concluded war games with the Russians to help them secure their borders so I doubt that much gear can be smuggled through there. Everywhere else they are surrounded by Taliban Afghanistan. It may be that the Taliban will secure help from Iran, China, Russia or Pakistan to secure the air space above this region to stop aerial supply in return for ‘considerations’. About 40 Afghan Air Force aircraft & helicopters flew into exile in Tajikistan so it will take some time to build up an Afghan air force again to help out though they may contract aerial cover to a friendly nation until this happens. More likely the Taliban will negotiate with these die-hards so that they have safe-passage out of Afghanistan eventually.

    1. Andrew Watts

      The Taliban controls both exists from the valley so the resistance staging a break out and opening a line of communication to the border with Tajikistan seems like it’d be a low probability event. That possibility being in spite of the fact those provinces are populated by a majority of Tajiks and Hazaras. It’s more likely that Saleh and/or Massoud are going to get themselves killed. A few scattered units of the Afghan commandos, some locals, and refugees fleeing the Taliban won’t necessarily form an army that can hold ground.

      It doesn’t matter if the remainder of the Afghan Air Force made it out of Tajikistan either. I don’t think there are any airfields in Panjshir from where they could stage from to assist the resistance. I’d like to be wrong about all this though. For no other reason than it would guarantee the safety of the ethnic minorities and would create an area free of Taliban governance.

  15. diptherio

    Re: We’re already paying for it

    Interesting article by Waldman, with a lot of good points in it, like this one:

    The dollars we are not paid by monopsony employers, the medical bills we face despite expensive “insurance” (or the care we eschew to avoid those bills), these are burdens on the American public as concrete and real as any new tax would be.

    But I do have to quibble with this one part of his thought experiment, because it’s a common trope in economics, and one which I think leads to a lot of bad theorizing and defending of specious arguments. It is this: the ceteris is never paribus.

    Holding constant the productive capacity of the economy, if the state spends, that adds new money chasing the same goods and services, generating inflation.

    The classic “more money chasing the same goods” argument against “unsterilized” gov’t spending. But you can’t simply “hold constant” the productive capacity of the economy while changing the amount of currency being fed into the system. Those two things are intimately connected with each other and there’s no way that major changes to one will not have effects on the other. Just saying that you’re “holding x constant,” doesn’t mean things work that way in reality. It’s a bit like saying “holding constant your major expenditures, cutting off your feet would save you a lot of money on shoes.” Um, yes…but I’d have a lot more expenditures on prosthetics and wheelchairs.

    You can’t say “let’s assume something that could never happen in reality” (increased gov’t spending having zero effect on productive capacity), and then proceed to theorize on the basis of that assumption and have me take you too seriously. Just sayin’…

    1. Michaelmas

      You can’t say “let’s assume something that could never happen in reality” — increased gov’t spending having zero effect on productive capacity

      Increased government spending could never have zero effect on productive capacity in reality? I dunno.

      One of the revealing things about the COVID19 pandemic in the US is that we’re seeing inflation after pandemic unemployment assistance of a mere $5.3 trillion — of which probably less than half reached the proles — and segments of the Great and Good are fulminating bitterly about that.

      Yet the world’s bankers were fed more than $28 trillion in the wake of the GFC in 2008. If you don’t count yachts, mansions, and asset and RE inflation as productive capacity — and I don’t — then that $28-plus trillion did not result in much productive capacity, did it?

      (Apologies if Waldman’s article, which I haven’t yet read, addresses this in some way.)

  16. Eustachedesaintpierre

    Encountering Infinity interesting stuff & good to see someone admitting that there are many things that we can’t put into tidy square boxes with solved written on them., in a world where materialism is largely dominant within beings whose bodily matter comprises of about 99.9999999 % of nothing or as estimated by Lightman – the fraction of all matter in the universe in living form is one billionth of one billionth.

    ” We are so lightly here….. ” Leonard Cohen.

    1. Questa Nota

      The Infinity author mentions a few National Parks, so here is another one. If you haven’t yet seen Yosemite, one of the great experiences of life is glimpsing the Valley when entering via the Tunnel. Do plan ahead.

      1. Wukchumni

        Walking into Yosemite Valley a fortnight ago on the JMT from the other end was deeply satisfying to me, after having always driven in previously.

        Now, we want to do it again with a good amount of water instead of diminished drought drippings coursing down.

        Sometimes lakes in the High Sierra have an infinity pool look to them on one end if not in the usual granite bowl setting. Lonely Lake near Deadman Canyon on the Sequoia-Kings Canyon border is a remarkable one.

  17. lordkoos

    “Baby pangolins on my plate”

    If you’re ever in China, don’t point out the roadside attractions. An Australian acquaintance of mine married a woman of Chinese heritage. The couple traveled to China from Oz so he could meet the in-laws, who lived in remote rural area. At a crossroads they stopped at a restaurant that had some animals in cages outside, & my friend spotted a pangolin (which he had never seen before) in one of the cages and pointed it out. After they were seated inside, the unfortunate animal was killed and served to him, to his surprise, as this had been interpreted by a restaurant employee as a dinner order.

  18. dday

    Regarding the Physics World article, I read something years ago that has stayed with me. If our planet had the density of a black hole, it would be the size of a grape.

  19. Wukchumni

    Rain fell at the normally snowy summit of Greenland for the first time on record CNN
    If there is any solace in all of this, its downright amazing that we can document our demise in real time, from far flung fronts no less.

    I’m jealous of their rain, here in the midst of what you hope isn’t a megadrought, but your gut instinct tells you this could be it.

    Found a new spring i’d never seen before on a steep slope the other day in the Atwell Grove, and while not a gusher, it fed a small creek for about 150 feet before going subterranean again and along the way, passed under the trunk of a long ago fallen Sequoia, perhaps the tree went horizontal when Columbus set sail for India.

  20. Kevin

    Hi Cocomaan,

    …or perhaps it’s corporations looking after the only thing they ever really care about – profits!

    COVID and shutdowns aren’t exactly good for business.

  21. tegnost

    “After suffering significant failures during this critical transition period, Facebook found that it lacked the business talent and engineering acumen to quickly and successfully integrate its outdated desktop-based technology to the new era of mobile-first communication. Unable to maintain its monopoly or its advertising profits by fairly competing, Facebook’s executives addressed this existential threat by buying up the new mobile innovators, including its rival Instagram in 2012 and mobile messaging app WhatsApp in 2014, who had succeeded where Facebook had failed. The company supplemented its anticompetitive shopping spree with an open-first-close-later scheme that helped cement its monopoly by severely hampering the ability of rivals and would-be rivals to compete on the merits. By anticompetitively cementing its personal social networking monopoly, Facebook has harmed the competitive process and limited consumer choice.”


  22. Pookah Harvey

    -(New Zealand) a utopian society where science, facts, strong leadership and a genuine care for its people and environment take precedence over money and big business.-
    Interesting that the oligarchs seek sanctuary from the ills of the world in one of the few places where they have not made the societal decisions.

    1. Wukchumni

      Billionaire bunker boys may not be aware of the ‘tall poppy syndrome’ in NZ…

      …they’d make for rather towering ones, no?

      Commonly in Australia and New Zealand, “Cutting down the tall poppy” is used to describe those who deliberately put down another for their success and achievements, due to being perceived as egotistical, vain or displaying self-adulation.

  23. Wukchumni

    The Cali recall gig could be very interesting (channeling my inner Arte Johnson) if one of the to the right of right nutters ascends to the throne, er Sacramento.

    In concert with the local tag team of Kevin y Devin, who knows what sort of mischief is possible?

    Dev’s up to his old tricks, recently suing MSNBC & Rachel Maddow in particular for defaming him.

  24. lordkoos

    One of the more interesting things around the Nabisco strike is that Danny Devito had his twitter account frozen after he tweeted support for it a couple of times. After many complaints his account was reinstated, but the censorship is getting awfully heavy-handed.

    Nabisco pays twitter for promoted ads…

  25. Lambert Strether Post author

    > U.S. Public Health Professionals Routinely Mislead the Public about Infectious Diseases: True or False? Dishonest or Self-Deceptive? Harmful or Benign?

    I’m a little amazed this attracted no attention at all…

    1. Ian Perkins

      I didn’t read it, though I might soon, but the title reminded me of this recent article in Nature:
      Health researchers report funder pressure to suppress results
      “Small study hints that interference from bodies funding research into public-health issues such as nutrition and exercise might be more common than realized.”
      It’s not exactly the same thing, but I remember university lecturers forty years ago complaining that official UK nutrition advice was out of date and woefully simplistic.

    2. Ian Perkins

      Whew! That article is not a short, quick read.

      One thing that jumped out at me was UN- and CDC-sponsored advice for vaccinators to give potential vaccinees regarding the oral polio vaccine: “This vaccine is safe and has no side effects.”

      I’ve had two COVID jabs, and would just as happily have had a different type, but I balked when I heard this same mantra repeated recently. As Sandman says,
      14.9 Polio eradication campaign officials were convinced this dishonesty was saving lives by protecting the credibility of the vaccination campaign. In the short term, they were probably right. In the long term, I believed it was costing lives by undermining the credibility of the international polio eradication campaign … and of public health itself. But I couldn’t prove it – and I’m no longer convinced it’s so. The dishonesty is documented; its impact is speculative.
      And in the case of COVID jabs, the dishonesty probably didn’t even achieve its aims in the short term. It didn’t affect my decision at all – I just rolled my eyes and assumed they thought it the best thing to say to reassure, but how many did decide they were being lied to, so they’d at least wait and see? (Which some would say is still the best policy, but they’d probably be the last to advocate such misleading/mendacious statements.)

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