Links 8/28/2021

These female hummingbirds don flashy male feathers to avoid unwanted harassment Popular Science (resilc)

Massive nest containing 1,500 ‘murder hornets’ discovered in US The Hill

Common pesticide may contribute to global obesity crisis MedicalXPress (Robert M)

How a Volcanic Surge 56 Million Years Ago Cut Off The Arctic Ocean From The Atlantic ScienceAlert (Kevin W)

Tepco to build undersea tunnel to release Fukushima water offshore Japan Times

Greenhouse Gas Concentrations In 2020 Highest Ever Recorded NPR (David L)

Single-use plastic plates and cutlery to be banned in England Guardian (Kevin W)

What will our eco-friendly homes of the future look like? Guardian (David L)

Pupil Size Is a Marker of Intelligence Scientific American (Dr. Kevin)

What To Say When Someone Asks Why You Don’t Have Kids The Onion. My favorite: “I lost them in poker.”



Mutation rate of COVID-19 virus is at least 50 percent higher than previously thought PhysOrg (Robert M) I recall that up to December 2020, the science press remarked from time to time about how little Covid mutated. Funny how that changed.

Delta variant doubles risk of hospitalisation, new study finds Guardian (Kevin W). Counters the repeatedly made assertion that viruses evolve to be less deadly, which we’ve said is not a given, citing studies, as well as earlier claims that Delta might be milder than wild type.

Does Delta Variant Pose Less Risk With 6 Feet Of Distance? NPR

Having SARS-CoV-2 once confers much greater immunity than a vaccine—but no infection parties, please Science (Li). Lambert featured this article and the link to the paper proper (Comparing SARS-CoV-2 natural immunity to vaccine-induced immunity: reinfections versus breakthrough infections MedRxIV (preprint)). From GM via e-mail:

This doesn’t make much sense.

When Novavax was doing trials in South Africa, the placebo arm had both seropositive and seronegative individuals in it, and they compared those groups. And they saw no difference between them at all, i.e. with B.1.351 prior infection provided zero protection (and it was about 6 months from the first wave).

That was an actual RCT, even if the numbers were not huge.

It might be a little bit better with B.1.617.2, but I doubt it will by all that much.

That Science is highlighting such a preprint is quite notable though. This week they could have highlighted the Moderna preprint that showed third doses waning as fast as the second, but they did not, and I don’t remember them highlighting the Moderna papers and preprints from March and April that clearly predicted what is happening now when those came out either.

Now we are in the “infections is good for you” phase. Where some people wanted us to be from the beginning…

Covid infection protection waning in double jabbed BBC. Sorry to be rely on GM so much today, but the propaganda is coming in awfully thick:

This is quite incredible to read and I am left speechless. Quotes:


Protection after two shots of Pfizer decreased from 88% at one month to 74% at five to six months.

For AstraZeneca, the fall was from 77% to 67% at four to five months.

Waning protection is to be expected, say experts.


Prof Spector said: “Waning protection is to be expected and is not a reason to not get vaccinated.


He estimates that protection against infection could drop to 50% by the winter and boosters will be needed, but other experts urge caution about making predictions for the months ahead.


Prof Spector said: “Many people may not need them. Many people may have had a natural booster because they’ve already had a natural Covid infection, so will effectively have had three vaccines.

“So I think the whole thing needs to be much more carefully managed than just giving it to everybody which would be a huge waste and ethically dubious given the resources we have. I think we need a more targeted approach than last time.”

This study once again illustrates why we need to get used to Covid circulating – this is not a virus that’s going to go away.

The vaccines do not work like they do for measles which provide life-long immunity. Immunity against Covid was always expected to wane.


Whatever the cause though, experts have been clear we should expect to be repeatedly infected over our lifetimes.

The important thing is that each re-infection should be milder as the vaccines remain highly effective at preventing serious illness.

What the vaccines have effectively done is taken the edge off the virus – given our immune system a head-start so those early infections are milder than they would have been for most.



So it was “always expected” after many months of touting the extremely high efficiency and talking about lifetime protection.

And it was also “always expected” that everyone will get COVID multiple times…

Contrast with:

‘Tired of worrying’: As some parents press for vaccines off-label, pediatricians call for patience STAT

Covid-19 origins still murky after Biden administration’s 90-day investigation Politico


Delta-driven Covid surge puts renewed strain on US hospitals Financial Times. Alabama is at negative 40 ICU beds, state chief medical officer said on TV it’s never been this bad.

No Covid-19 vaccine? No green card Quartz (resilc)

UGA professor resigns mid-class after student refuses to wear mask Red&Black (Paul R)

Better Covid Data Will Guide Us Out of This Pandemic New York Times (furzy). Over 600,000 dead in the US, a visibly incompetent CDC that went out of its way to tell public health official not to collect important information, and now the PMC realizes the US has chosen to fly blind?

States Pull Back on Covid Data Even Amid Delta Surge Kaiser Health News

DeSantis’ school mask mandate ban is unlawful, Florida judge rules NBC

Florida, facing staff shortages, to close some prisons Miami Herald. Resilc: “Florida could care less about kids in school, so why would they care about prisoners and guards???”


US paradigm shifts from engaging to handling China Asia Times

U.S. Destroyer Transits Taiwan Strait in Signal to Asia Partners Bloomberg

Nearly 65,000 Hong Kongers apply for UK visa scheme Bangkok Times (furzy)

Old Blighty

Post-Brexit Britain can’t be realistic until it’s truthful Chris Grey (guurst)

Nayib Bukele is Latin America’s first millennial dictator. Slate (resilc)


The War in Afghanistan Is What Happens When McKinsey Types Run Everything Matt Stoller (KLG, resilc)

Stories on clip above: US Marines officer relieved of duties after video seeking ‘accountability’ over Afghanistan Guardian and Active duty Marine battalion commander is relieved of duties after posting furious video rant hammering senior leaders for not admitting ‘we messed this up’ Daily Mail (Alison L)

US Troops caught up in ISIL-K – Taliban Civil War: Why it Proves Biden was Right to Leave Juan Cole (resilc)

Taliban forces in Kabul airport ready to take over -Taliban officials Reuters

Who profits from the Kabul suicide bombing? Asia Times (Kevin W)

Like Ordering Pizza London Review of Books (Anthony L)

Leon Panetta says US troops will need to go back to Afghanistan New York Post

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

T-Mobile Investigating Claims of Massive Customer Data Breach Vice


Biden’s Declining Approval Rating Is Not Just About Afghanistan FiveThirtyEight

Larry Elder’s private charity was a bust, and questions swirl over where the money went Los Angeles Times (furzy)

Chicago Sues DoorDash, Grubhub For Allegedly Deceiving Customers CNBC

RFK assassin moves closer to freedom with help of 2 Kennedys Seattle Times (furzy)

Lake Tahoe Suffocates With Smoke New York Times (David L). A wake up call that the squillionaires that hang there are guaranteed to ignore.

Rural America is Gearing Up For a Generation of Change Austin Vernon (resilc). See in particular the discussion of plant-based “meat”.

Powell’s benign view on inflation is getting pushback at the Fed, and elsewhere CNBC

The Evolution of American Capitalism Project Syndicate (David L)

Class Warfare

An Open Letter to Airbnb Jared Brock (Paul R)

How the work ethic became a substitute for good jobs aeon (Anthony L)

A Wisconsin school district says students can ‘become spoiled’ with free meals and opts out of Biden’s free-lunch program Business Insider

Grandmas4Housing: How a Tenant-Led Community Land Trust Came to Be NonProfit Quarterly

Unreported Toxic Vapor Exposures at Hanford: 10 Workers Sent for Medical Evaluation in June Incident, 3 Hospitalized Hanford Challenge

Antidote du jour. La Peruse:

Been monitoring some motion sensor cameras supplied by Landcare Australia on our place in East Gippsland since the devastating fires of 2019/20. This area was hot burnt to bare earth.

Swamp Wallabies have nothing to do with swamps…

Swamp Wallaby – The Australian Museum

And a bonus:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Dan S

    Re: What to Say When Someone Asks You Why You Don’t Have Kids – As someone who married and had kids late (40s), I totally get why someone would not have kids. I love my kids and it was a conscious choice to marry and have kids, but if you have a good life and maybe a life partner that likes the same adventures you do and is fine without kids, that is a very fulfilling life as well. The freedom you have as an unattached adult, especially if you make a decent living, is very tempting to keep.

    1. Arizona Slim

      To other childfree people, I have this suggestion. When asked The Question, respond with one of your own:

      Why do you ask?

      Then you can sit back and watch the stammering and mumbling as the intrusive questioners try to justify their curiosity.

        1. Juneau

          It is a tough question for those with fertility issues-it is a very personal thing. Another response could be “is that important”?. People make so many assumptions when they make this inquiry and assume it was a choice.

        2. Skip Intro

          But you can’t say something like ‘only a selfish asshole would bring kids into this doomed world’. You need to validate the life choice they are secretly regretting.

        3. hunkerdown

          Why? Social norms have no right to reproduce themselves. They ask nicely for help and go away without pouting when they are no longer welcome. They are not entitled to respect, no matter how much those norms may whine and smarm about it. If they continue to insinuate themselves, the pushback escalates. This is how societies negotiate themselves.

        4. IMOR

          Only if the questioner is then nondefensive and not a big baby in their own reaction. Which happens/would happen about one time of seven.
          (Seldom see anything so clearly defensive as this post, btw.)

      1. Brunches with Cats

        Slim, that’s a handy answer for any invasive question by those who feel entitled to your personal information, and certainly more friendly than, “None of your [family blogging] business.”

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          A nicer way of saying the same thing is . . .

          ” Ohh . . . WE don’t worry about that. . . “

      2. jr

        You could also shoot back that you have seen so many people who had kids because they thought they had to and it didn’t work out well for the kids. Then you can say “Let’s face it, even if they truly want kids, most people feel compelled to have them by their own needs for status and a socially stable identity, pressure from parents and friends, and for some as an attempt to “bootstrap” themselves into adulthood because they can’t get there themselves. Then you’ll get some stunned looks….

        A burlesque dancer I knew years ago was engaged to a guy whose grandparents were worth around 30M$. It was all love and roses until the grandparents literally demanded the young couple have a child ASAP. The woman, a slender professional dancer, walked away. One, the gall, but secondly she said she was not about to wreck her body to produce an heir like a breeding cow.

        I say all this as someone who will make a public fool of himself cooing over a baby and who has an instant rapport with kids.

        1. Grateful Dude

          children are an evolutionary imperative. Sex-drive in the young is a primary driver. It’s for the species, not the individual, as in “Origin of the Species”. That difference came to me recently, as in my age, well past my teenage sex-drive, I no longer feel responsible for saving us. I just want a quiet and safe place to live this out another decade or two. I hope I go before the whole mess comes apart.

      3. Nce

        When asked the question I just say “no.” I’m usually not asked to explain my response, although in the future I might say that they abandoned me to live with a pack of coyotes.

      4. neo-realist

        I have heard a fallback default answer from a few people on their justification for people to have kids, which is to have somebody or somebodies to take care of you when get old. But that isn’t a guarantee even for parents that have been relatively good to their kids.

      5. Pamina

        I think that questions about personal reproductive choices one way or the other are triggering to some people. After a having a miscarriage my hormones were so screwed up that just the sight of parents with babies and pregnant women turned me into a psychotic snowflake. I was very angry and frequently made rude comments to them about having so damn many rug rats. I’m so ashamed when I think of how horrible I behaved.

    2. Nikkikat

      Dan, my husband and I decided not to have kids 40 years ago. Among the relatives, all hell broke loose. My husbands family went completely nuts. My parents told me they were disappointed and hoped we would eventually change our minds. My mother stated that of the three of her children, I was the only one who would be a good parent. I never wanted children even when I was a kid. First off I babysat a lot. They were a lot of trouble.
      But, people were incredibly rude. We got the question constantly from people we barely knew or met five minutes earlier and thought they should be able to tell us how to live. We were called selfish. We were told when we got old we wouldn’t have anyone to look after us. We were told that grand children were the great gift of old age.
      None of that changed my mind. I kept remembering when I was thirteen my mother was given a ticket to see Elvis for his 1968 Vegas show. Mom couldn’t go. She had to buy school clothes and pay bills. I told her she should go anyway. This was ELVIS after all.
      I never got over how she had to give up one of Elvis’s best shows of his career for us.
      When we got married we also banned kids from the wedding. It was evening, we had a great rock band and it was an adult affair. My in-laws again went nuts, brought them anyway. None of his brothers and sisters children decided to have kids. What go’s around comes around. We have always been happy and still are today. Never have I regretted our decision.

      1. chuck roast

        Spawn free
        As free as the wind blows
        As free as the grass grows
        Spawn free to follow your heart

        Spawn free
        And life is worth living
        But only worth living
        ‘Cause you’re spawn free

        Stay free
        Where no walls divide you
        You’re free as a roaring tide so there’s no need to hide

        Spawn free
        And life is worth living
        But only worth living
        ‘Cause you’re spawn free

      2. Nada

        Always encouraging and affirming hearing from women elders about making this choice. I looked after my sister and put countless babies of my parents’ friends to sleep. Had my fair share and that was enough.

        The older I get the happier w my decision. We don’t have much money but we have our headspace – worth it. Seems insane to me to choose otherwise. Sigh.

    3. The Rev Kev

      There is an old saying that freedom begins when your children finally move out of home and your last pet dies.

    4. Janie

      When the preferred response of “non of your beeswax” would be wrong to an intrusive question, I try a tactic a friend taught me: well, it’s a long story. When I was ten, no wait maybe I was nine, no I think ten and it was a Saturday. I remember because we kids were going to a Roy Rogers movie. No, maybe Hopalong Cassidy… When the eyes glaze over, your job is done.

    5. Brian Beijer

      The freedom you have as an unattached adult, especially if you make a decent living, is very tempting to keep.

      Personally, I hope people choose not to have children for less self-centered reasons, but any reason not to have children is good enough for me. Many might consider my income not to be a decent living. I make 50k a year, which provides enough for my wife, our wolf-dog, our cat and myself. We live in a 430 square foot home and do not have “adventures”, unless you consider restraining our wolf-dog from eating the deer and foxes an adventure.
      My wife and I have chosen not to have human children because of loving children too much to bring them into this world. When I am asked this question, I vary the answer depending on the presumed education level and the tone of voice by the questioner. Most times, I deflect to talking about my wolf-dog and cat and how they are our children. If I think the questioner can handle a more honest answer or the questioner is being obnoxious about it, I respond by saying, “We have chosen not to give our overlords another wage slave to perpetuate their extravagant lifestyles.” Or, “We decided not bring a child into a life of suffering and misery on a soon-to-be dead planet.” Or, I provide both answers, if circumstances and time allow. I find that my honest answers usually evoke silence from the questioner. I realize these are somewhat provocative responses to give. My hope is that these answers stimulate questions for the other person as to why they would choose to have children given the state of the world.

      1. TimH

        I think you meant to write “provides enough for the cat, with sufficient left over for my wife and our wolf-dog”

    6. Mikel

      It’s really like a lottery. The winners get the most attention. And what I mean by that is we hear most about the pregnancies without complications.

    7. marieann

      I have 2 sons both married with no kids….it is their life and I have no problems with their decisions.

      My friends BUG me- to nag my sons into having kids…..somehow it is my right to be a grandma.I still haven’t though up a good response to tell them to keep out of my business

      1. Expat2uruguay

        When my children were still young, I advised them not to have children. I explained that the state did not support the formation of families, and therefore all hardships would be only theirs.

        My youngest is 20 and none of my three children have had kids, although both of my daughters are open to the idea. Personally, being completely selfish, I would love to have grandchildren, at least until I considered their dystopian future…

    8. bassmule

      I have an easy out: I married when I was 40 and my wife 38. Both had full-time jobs that required a lot of flying. So the question was: Who was going to raise the kids if we had them? A nanny? No thanks!

    9. marcyincny

      I’ve never understood this. If it’s not acceptable to ask people who are having children to explain their decision, why are people who don’t not afforded the same respect?

      1. Glen

        Well, the short answer if you asked me, was that my wife would not let our daughter’s middle name be Boo Boo.

        Probably not fair to do that to your children. (But my step mom wanted one of her children to have the middle name of VW because she always wanted to “honor the point of inception”. which I thought was pretty cool as a teenager.)

        But I think “cannot afford to have children” or “too many people in the world”, or “refuse to bring children into an unstable world” are all very real understandable reasons in today’s world.

        If the elites want more cheap labor they’re going to have to improve conditions in the slave pits.

    10. Sailor Bud

      Oh god, not having kids may be the most responsible ‘decision’ I’ve ever made. I have zero clue what kind of parent I’d be, and that’s enough to justify never having become one. It’s odd even to consider it any source of embarrassment.

      It often turns out fine and – hey – it’s nature, but child-making is a gamble and an inherently dictatorial thing, as uncomfortable as it is for me to word that so strongly. It is a serious decision to declare “thou shalt exist under my dominion,” even with a wonderful and loving life one might provide to the offspring. There is no guarantee that a child will grow to love this world, rather than coming to see it as a nasty & wet dystopia with no escape but death. These days, I wouldn’t blame anyone for seeing it that way, including the billionaires and their minions.

      If all people were as sweet and goodly as my mom was when she roamed this Earth, I’d probably say “have at it” to everyone, but it’s still a risk that I couldn’t personally take. That’s especially true now, seeing the sad life that sweet woman led.

      1. Steven A

        Thanks for your thoughtful post and for your honesty. My two adult children (son and daughter) are childless by choice. When they ask if I would miss having grandchildren I told them that, for the benefit of all, anyone who truly doesn’t want children should not have any.

    11. lordkoos

      I have been accused of being selfish for never having children. I like to point out to people that not reproducing is one of the best things you can do for our planet, and that having kids is probably more selfish than the other way around. My wife also never wanted kids, as she lost her teen years from being forced to care for her much younger half-siblings.

    12. Pamina

      It seems to me that there’s a lot of hostility on both sides. My very traditional conservative Catholic mother from the rural Midwest always felt persecuted for having too many kids. When my second to youngest sister was run over and killed while crossing the street our little town in Iowa 30 years ago some nasty people in our community gossiped about my mom, “Oh she’ll just get pregnant again”. From my experience, never ever underestimate the viscous hostility of the local petit-PMC types toward the poor within their own communities in flyover. In tandem with the Acela corridor smug condescension and ever increasing eliminationist sentiment, I think it plays a big part in driving the despair that exists in rural areas. Lots of conservatives in flyover feel like both snotty local professionals and childless big city coastal PMC libs hate them because they have too many damn kids. I decided to have one child and my mother thinks I’m a Planned Parenthood pro-birth control, pro-abortion Margaret Sanger eugenicist Nazi for not having more. Although I realize that the climate is going to hell in a hand basket, for myself, I just say it’s none of anyone’s darn business whether another person decides to have 0 or 10 and no one should be made to feel coerced regardless of what they decide.

      1. Pamina

        BTW, who even gets the luxury of choosing how many kids they have? Even if you genuinely want to have a child these days it’s just too damn expensive, whether it’s medical costs or low wages, and of course, the climate change factor. One might say that you are really really privileged if you get to make that choice. I was lucky to have the one kid I did have (whom I love dearly, and it was the second best decision I have made in my life apart from choosing the best baby daddy ever). The only reason the medical care didn’t wreck us financially is that my partner and I were in the military so I got free prenatal care for gestational diabetes (even though I’m skinny), a couple of MRI’s and surgery to remove an ovary and two fibroids the size of a peach at 5 months. Yes, I am just another loser from Deploristan who enlisted in the army because I thought there weren’t a lot of gods-be-damned decent options in my life and I didn’t know any better at the time. And f*** it I’d do my life the the same way all over again despite knowing better. All anybody in America seems to do these days is condemn each other for the crappy life “choices” everyone makes.

        As an aside, do any of the pro-lifers ever consider the damage that stress about the cost of prenatal care does to fetuses? Because the one’s I know, that think that abortion is on par with the Holocaust, oppose universal healthcare on the grounds in general that it’s welfare, and in particular that immoral sluts who sleep around with every Tom, Dick and Harry might get free birth control.

    13. QuicksilverMessenger

      I remember when I first went to Spain to live many years ago, the first and most shocking thing (as an American) that I noticed was that restaurants, cafes, bars, parks, plazas, were filled with entire families, from infants and children running around, to parents and to the old generation of grandparents, all together (of course the vibe changed after about 10pm, but that’s another story!). The generations often times live together as well, and it turns out that most of the world is like this- complete families living together, not afraid of children and not afraid of old people. The more time I spent there, the more beautiful and natural it seemed to me. I’m not an anthropologist but we Americans seem very hived off from the cycles of life, even estranged.

      1. hunkerdown

        Can’t have a Fall if there is still an Eden. There are several clerisies dedicated to eradicating Eden and elevating elites. They, themselves, are the Problem.

  2. Wukchumni

    Asked my buddy in Auckland if there was anybody trying to escape from the North Island to the South Island: the last bastion of lack of Covid in the world, and this was his response, of which the last bit is interesting in that we have essentially taken no precautions and you are free to buy to your heart’s content and roam all over the country, as opposed to their strict level 4 lockdown. He simply has no idea how we’ve just given up, whereas there they still have a fighting chance to nip things in the bud with 400+ who have tested positive in NZ in the past fortnight.

    “The funny thing is I don’t know anyone who wants to go anywhere except back to normal life (and maybe some people to their holiday home) but there’s no desire to ‘escape’ so to speak. People aren’t afraid of dying or anything (don’t think there’s been a covid death for well over a year), they’re just bored. That said, if the deaths started I don’t think it’d take long for the worriers to start triple locking their doors. How does life go on there – is it pretty normal, or a major disrupter to business? Can you travel interstate?”

    1. Jeotsu

      Within my social circles (in Wellington) there is a hardening conservatism — squash the outbreak, reinforce the borders, bunker down as the world outside Aotearoa burns.

      Some of the Op-ed pieces in local media area leaning towards ‘vaccinate and let it rip’, but on Radio NZ (at least) they tends towards the disease-conservatism. On the morning show a few days ago they were interviewing a MD in the UK who was saying that breakout of covid is inevitable, and we should just give in. The host was pushing back very determinedly, arguing that we should be able to maintain ‘free’ status for a couple more years, and that giving in seemed… unwise.

      Thankfully current government is still very pro-elimination, we just hope they can maintain that long enough for the obvious disasters in the global north to slowly filter down into the conventional wisdom (most importantly, that vaccines are not a magic bullet, and that their utility is currently in significant decline).

      Vaccination push (Pfizer) is going very strong/fast, I think we’re jabbing about 1.5% of the population per day, or thereabouts.

  3. Cocomaan

    A good friend of mine who is an active marine has used the word “betrayed” to talk about the disaster in Afghanistan.

    So if the brass thinks they can just fire their way through malcontents, they’re probably going to find things going badly for them.

    Marines are also the service branch that is the least vaccinated.

      1. Bill Smith

        Very unlikely a mortar team would “punch holes in the runway”.

        Much more likely they would shred a few aircraft. If one of those was on the runway…. the junk would close it for a while.

        There is a C-Ram operating at the airport. The Taliban have pushed out their security preminater which should make it more effective. It will likely be blown up as the last teams depart via helicopter and V-22.

    1. ex PFC chuck roast

      This guy now has a much more intimate understanding of the concept of “cannon fodder.”

    2. CitizenSissy

      Clearly we learned nothing from Vietnam. My late uncle served two tours in the Marines, was exposed to agent orange and then was lied to, and only once shared his opinion about his experience. His anger wasn’t with antiwar protesters, but rather with those who were quick to wave the flag without regard to whether the cause was worthy of military personnel sacrifice.

      1. Edward

        Shortly after starting his wars, “Decider” Bush cut veteran benefits, as I recall. For a while the VA was looking for medical excuses to deny treatment to soldiers.

  4. Ian Perkins

    Like Ordering Pizza

    The article reckons “The Taliban nearly eradicated heroin production in Afghanistan in the 1990s.” So far as I can make out, there was little if any heroin produced in Afghanistan prior to the US-led invasion. One or two newspaper articles I’ve come across referred to Afghan heroin labs before that, but I suspect sloppy journalism, confusing processing raw opium into crude morphine with producing heroin; most reports thought heroin was produced outside Afghanistan.

    1. Eloined

      NYT article from May 2002, fwiw:

      From the mid-1990’s, Ghanikhel’s bazaar was the base for hundreds of merchants working from shops enclosed in a mud-walled maze, protected by a battalion of armed guards. The Taliban lashed and even executed Afghan drug users, but hundreds of tons of opium, and thousands of pounds of its derivative, heroin, were smuggled over donkey trails leading from here into Pakistan, and on to the West.

      But at the end of April, Ghanikhel’s status as the company town came to an end. One dawn, trucks of soldiers sent by an American-backed warlord an hour’s drive away, in Jalalabad, raided the market, seizing three truckloads of opium, heroin and bundled cash, and tons of the chemical acetic anhydride that is needed to refine opium into heroin.

      Afghan officials say that Britain, the United States and the World Bank have so far provided $80 million to Mr. Karzai’s government for the poppy farmers.

      The cash is then supposed to be distributed to the farmers at the rate of about $700 per acre for every poppy crop destroyed — about a tenth of what they might have earned from raw opium, but substantially more than they would have received from wheat.

      But monitors of the program say that much of that $80 million has been siphoned off by the warlords and local tribal chiefs….

      1. Ian Perkins

        Thank you for that!
        I still wonder if the heroin smuggled into Pakistan from the mid-1990s was in fact heroin and not crude morphine – the article goes on to say “drug barons in Pakistan and Afghanistan hoped to restore Afghanistan to the position it held in the late 1990’s as the world’s largest single-country source of raw opium,” which ties in with what I’ve heard elsewhere. But the article does seem well-informed, so perhaps heroin production had started prior to the invasion.

    2. lyman alpha blob

      I remember seeing the US state departments own statistics in the early Aughts showing that opium poppy production had been nearly eradicated after the Taliban took over, and it spiked again after the US invasion. Can’t find those same stats, but I did find this which does cite the Taliban’s ban on production –

      However it also makes the claims that because of the production ban, the Taliban somehow then benefited from increased prices as opium previously stockpiled hit the market. This argument that the Taliban banned opium production only to make wild profits off it later has never made much sense to me. The US has occupied Afghanistan for a generation, and surely the country is under drone and satellite surveillance and lousy with US spooks. Surely the most powerful military on the planet could have kept production down had it wanted to.

      While the Taliban may have later changed course, I strongly suspect the CIA played a large role as well in opium production ramping back up after being nearly eradicated. Sure wouldn’t be the first time US spooks were involved in drug running – just ask Gary Webb. Oh wait..

    3. PlutoniumKun

      So far as I’m aware, opium has a very long history of being grown in the region, but only used in its raw form. The growth expanded during the mujihadeen days, as did production into heroin which is apparently mostly produced in the Afghan/Pakistan border areas. It is a matter of record that heroin started to enter the Pakistan market from the border areas in the 1980’s, so that looks like the most likely time when refining (presumably to make smuggling easier) was adopted.

      There is not much difference chemically between morphine and heroin, the latter is just refined to a higher degree.

      1. Ian Perkins

        There is not much difference chemically between morphine and heroin, the latter is just refined to a higher degree.

        As I understand it, producing crude morphine from opium is relatively straightforward, and probably was done inside Afghanistan in the Mujaheddin days or earlier to facilitate smuggling, while converting the morphine into heroin is rather more tricky, and was done outside Afghanistan until the invasion – though the NYT article Eloined linked to may be right.

      1. The Rev Kev

        So to win the war on drugs, the Drug Enforcement Administration has to raid – the Central Intelligence Agency at Langley?

        1. Ian Perkins

          DEA agents have often complained about being told to lay off a target the CIA was finding useful.

      2. Ian Perkins

        Alfred W. McCoy. The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade

        I haven’t read that book, but McCoy seems to me a world-class expert on the opiates industry in south-east Asia, somewhat less detailed when it comes to Afghanistan. I see from a preview on JSTOR it’s a rewrite of The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia, with some new information about Nicaragua/Contras and central Asia:
        But I’ll keep an eye out for it; thanks!

  5. Terry Flynn

    Thanks for the covid links and the insights from GM. What really staggers me -and should have done so the biostatisticians – is that they continue to interpret logit and probit model results as changes in means (only applicable to a sterilising vaccine) when even the non-NC people are finally catching up that we are in a “variance world” where “vaccine induced reductions in odds ratio” are due to potentially no/little “intrinsic” fall in vulnerability in catching the virus but variance of doing so (albeit in superficially milder form) has gone up due to variants and non-sterilising nature of vaccines (together with vaccine fatigue and people lowering their guard).

    This is madness. I don’t blame the medics on here for getting mad when their anecdotal experience doesn’t match the journal results etc. The data interpretation by authors and referees is awful.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      There seems to be a very large degree of confirmation bias gone on – many authorities seem to no longer bother with being objective, they are simply jumping on whichever study appears to favour their argument.

      They are hinting here that all restrictions will be lifted in Ireland in 4 weeks, because by then there will be 90% vaccinated, so all is well.

      So much for Christmas 2021.

      1. Objective Ace

        >many authorities seem to no longer bother with being objective

        Its amazing the search results you recieve from google vs other more objective search engines when searching for something like ivermectin

  6. lakecabs

    At Lake of the Ozarks

    We don’t wear masks.

    We are poor at vaccines.

    Our kids stayed in school.

    Our businesses stayed open.

    Rents were paid.

    We have been smeared by the national press.

    Told we all would die.

    Our Covid numbers are no worse than anywhere else.

          1. lakecabs

            Miller County has had 67 deaths since covid began.

            Less than one death a week.

            You act like there is no price to pay for wearing masks having kids not attend schools and businesses being open.

            1. curlydan

              I’d say you’re doing OK, but a bit worse than national averages.

              13.8% of Miller County has tested positive. 0.26% have died.

              For the U.S., 11.7% have tested positive, 0.19% have died.

              One thing about Lake of the Ozarks, though, is that it’s possible that people may contact the virus while there on the weekends then head back to “home” and test positive in their home counties.

              Also, your ICU situation doesn’t look that great. The hospital map in this link below shows 3 local hospitals with % of ICU beds filled at 76%, 78%, and 100%. That looks like thin margins to me.


              1. IM Doc

                I would be very careful making any firm conclusions about anything using that website.

                When I look at my county – it in no way reflects the current situation on the ground which is actually much worse than reported there.

                It looks to me that the website is about 2-3 weeks behind based on my county.

                I am not sure what data they are using to make these judgments but it is often very incorrect.

            2. Mikel

              Every situation just shows that there is greater need for study.

              Also, I don’t get the impression this is a hot spot for international travel.

              I think any place with international airports, just one example, would or should have a different level of concern.

            3. shinola

              @lakecabs: Still have 1 more holiday weekend to survive. People from KC & St Louis bringing their unvax’d kids & probably many adults vax’d & unvax’d not wearing masks. I wouldn’t want to be working as a cashier or clerk at any of the resorts or stores/shops that cater to the tourists (in Laurie or on the strip at Bagnell for instance).

              That said, I know many people who own places at the lake who have spent the spring & summer there or sent their families if at least one or the parents didn’t have to work & they seem to have been aok so far..

              Here’s hoping your good luck continues – stay well.

            4. Glen

              People where I worked were SHOCKED, SHOCKED to learn that much of the rest of the civilized world told everybody they would keep their jobs/businesses, lock down and stay safe, and paid them a good percentage of what they normally made. They didn’t lose their jobs, their businesses or their rentals. They all went “Like NO WAY!” so I guess it was never on the news or something.

              But then, it seems all those countries have universal healthcare too (and good cheap/free college!) Maybe they have money to spend like that because their version of the Fed isn’t giving trillions to mega corporations and billionaires – I’ll have to research that a bit).

    1. Eduardo

      Chiapas has the lowest vaccination rate among Mexico’s 32 states with only one in five residents inoculated to date.

      The low rate is attributable, at least in part, to religious beliefs and the scant information about vaccination in mountainous regions of the southern state. …

      Chiapas is low risk green on the federal government’s most recent coronavirus stoplight map
      In Chiapas a traditional Mayan liquor preferred over Covid vaccine

      The Chiapas Covid official death rate of about 40 compares favorably with about 200 for Mexico as a whole or about 200 for the U.S.

      Least vaxxed and lowest death rate. The only “green” state:
      Covid-19 Mexico

      Some say it is their traditional liquor. Some say it is the ivermectin.

      I don’t know. The data on how much ivermectin was used and when and for how long seems hard to find.

      1. neo-realist

        Do they get a minimal amount of tourism relative to the rest of Mexico? I’m wondering if a lack of outsiders, or a lack of density may account for the low rates.? High mask compliance?

  7. Jackiebass63

    It is probably a good thing that some people choose to not have kids. I’m a retired teacher. I remember a colleague saying that it is too bad birth control can’t be retroactive. When you meet certain parents you understand why their children are like they are.

      1. hunkerdown

        “If a child shows himself incorrigible, he should be decently and quietly beheaded at the age of twelve, lest he grow to maturity, marry, and perpetuate his kind.” -Otto von Bismarck

        It’s a quote I’m ambivalent about, but then, system creation can be an ugly business.

        1. lordkoos

          I’m not down with Otto on that subject. When I was a teen I was declared legally incorrigible and made a ward of the court by a local judge. This was for a very minor drug offense, for which I was subsequently incarcerated in a juvenile facility for 11 months.

    1. griffen

      That list was pretty funny, at least to this non-parent; I think the natural need to deflect such an inquiry could be supplemented with a few of those.

      Now regarding the Broncos QB situation…

    2. Dan S

      I’m always amazed by the parents I meet that clearly resent their kids and are terrible parents as evidenced by the horrible brats they are raising, but who went into parenthood willingly and with the resources necessary to raise the kids comfortably. I mean, what did you expect, that it would be easy or that they come out fully formed, polite adults? Boy are they in for a surprise when they need the kids to manage their eventual decline in old age. I was lucky enough to have loving parents, so I don’t relate, but I’ve seen some families where the child/parent relationship is purely a business transaction. Like how much can I squeeze out of this turd before they croak, or I’m gonna be real nice so I get the proceeds in the will over my other competitors…I mean siblings.

      1. John Zelnicker

        One of the English teachers at the boarding school I attended for high school lived with his family on campus. The parents insisted that their kids call them by their first names, not Mommy and Daddy.

        They were very strange folks and he had an awful temper. One time he was choking a student in a head lock and I had to pull him off the poor kid. Sick guy.

      2. PlutoniumKun

        Idiocracy may well have gotten things wrong. Instead of raising generations of dumb asses, we are raising generations with a vast range of disfunction.

        A woman I know with a long history of severe personality disorders (various diagnoses, mostly BPD) had a baby more or less on a whim a few years ago (to be fair to her, she got this from her mother, who is the closest I’ve ever met to a functional clinical psychopath). Unsurprisingly, she is raising a boy who will be deep trouble for anyone who has the misfortune to get involved with him in the future. It would be a true miracle if the boy grows up to be in any way normal. It really is horrible to see this while good people either can’t have kids or opt out of it.

        1. Brunches with Cats

          When asked if I have children, I have a couple of responses: “No. And they thank me every day of their unborn lives for not having them.” Or, “If I’d had children, they would have made headlines: ‘Sniper killer guns down ten at McDonald’s, shoots self.'”

          Most people don’t realize I’m not joking. But it saves me (and them) from recounting my tortured upbringing and complicated mental health history. By the time I started making sense of it all and might have been a good parent (heavy emphasis), my childbearing years were long over.

          1. PlutoniumKun

            Its great that you recognised this in yourself.

            My education in this was as a teenager when my older brothers best friend married a woman who alienated all their friends by endlessly telling everyone about what a b**ch her mother was and how she had resolved to make sure she would be a good mom to her kids, unlike her psycho mother.

            She would say this while openly bullying her unfortunate husband (one of the funniest and gentlest men I ever knew) and screaming abuse endlessly at her even less fortunate kids. It was horrifying to see.

            1. Brunches with Cats

              BPD is the worst, both for the individual and those close to him/her. The foremost researcher and specialist in BPD is psychologist Marsha Linehan, who developed Dialectical Behavior Therapy as a result of grappling with her own BPD. Several years ago, I heard her say something to the effect that if you have BPD and you’re having a mental health crisis serious enough to go to the ER, for goodness sake, don’t tell them you have BPD; better to say you’re psychotic (apologies if I mangled the quote, but the gist is correct).

              Although I was never diagnosed with BPD, I had a psychologist some years ago who was well-versed in DBT and thought I might like it. As a treatment plan with prescribed weekly lessons (at least, that’s how the VA was doing it), it didn’t work for me, but I really liked Linehan, who from her own suffering became a very wise and compassionate human being. Hearing her talk about what it’s like to have BPD makes it harder to judge people like your brother’s friend’s wife, even if the urge to run as fast and far away as possible remains intact.

          2. John Zelnicker

            When I married my first wife, I adopted her 3 1/2 year-old daughter, who was already a handful. By the time she reached puberty she had decided that she would NEVER have children. It was one of the best decisions she ever made and I have always supported her. She’s now 44 and enjoying her childless life.

          3. jr

            “ But it saves me (and them) from recounting my tortured upbringing and complicated mental health history.”

            Amen to this, it would have been the height of irresponsibility as a manic-depressive to have had children. My unmedicated life was too wild and my medicated life too focused on personal growth. Not to mention the absolute cruelty of bringing a child into this world. I look at my friend’s one year old with a blend of joy and sorrow.

            I’ve always suspected that a lot of the impetus and animus behind that question was a discontent with the querent’s own “choice”. I lost a pal years ago because just as my newly single life was hitting “The Ginger Man” zone (minus the violence!) he had a kid and simultaneously got bored with his dip-$#!+-lib, Kerry-worshipping, class-analysis avoiding wing-ding of a wife. (We never got along, her and I.)

            He called one day to vent and blew up on me because I basically couldn’t relate to his problems. He was like “I can’t take her anymore but I can’t leave!”

            “Open up your relationship, maybe?”

            “Grow up!” “Adult problems!” blah, blah…

            “Yeah, ok bro, have fun with that.”


            “Alright now, back to OKCupid to look for an apartment…”

    3. Wukchumni

      Never before have so many first time mothers had kids in their 40’s, and most of their progeny seems messed up, based on the 8 or 9 families i’m familiar with. Lots of autism in varying degrees from barely functioning, to kids who will need their parents assistance the rest of their lives.

  8. DJG, Reality Czar

    The Stoller article and the continuing disaster of Afghanistan is worth reading. Some cameos worth noting:

    Pete “I’m not a sock puppet” Buttigieg, who somehow won the Iowa primary and then withdrew from the race. Now what was Pete doing in Afghanistan? And if he wins a primary and immediately surrenders, what are we to think of Pete as a tactician?

    Whitney Kassel. The poor darling. I’m beginning to think that the spectacle of bellicose U.S. women is even worse than the spectacle of Pete Buttigieg. But I’m just an enforcer for the patriarchy, ne.

    This article is Stoller’s “The Best and the Brightest.”

    But we have been at “best and brightest” before. Ask Madame Nhu.

    Yet I question Stoller’s thesis that the war was messed up further by management consultants. I’d turn the question on its head:

    Aren’t U.S. ideas of management and of economics just plain fantasies that, like any form of idolatry and self-delusion, are now leading the country into ruin?

    It isn’t business school itself that is the problem. It’s that “management” is something Americans have a special expertise in.

    Maybe American business can be salvaged if it started questioning everything that has gone on in the “front office” since the invention of interchangeable parts and the assembly line.

    The key: mid-article >
    “It is, as someone told me in 2019 about the consumer goods giant Proctor and Gamble, where “very few white-collar workers at P&G really did anything” except take credit for the work of others.”

    Ohhh, accountability and probity might have helped avoid a catastrophe. Come on, Stoller, that’s so mid-twentieth century…

    Read the paragraphs about the contractors looting and destroying the Afghan air force.

    Reforms? Come on. Not when there’s still something left to steal.

    Imagine this applied to, ohhh, a program of public health. Like vaccines? (Keep reading after the end of the main post.)

    Next up? Who lost Syria?

    1. Louis Fyne

      institutions were always imperfect…..but wow (from ancedotal experience) it does feel things are worse than 30 years ago and only the politically-adept smarmy rises to the top nowadays.

      My hot take hypothesis for the private sector is that constant Fed liquidity injections during crises keep the incompetent in the corner offices, who then bring in incompetent underlings.

      Same with government. Limitless appropriated cash for the defense-intelligence sector means no one needs to be held to account for failure.

      1. JBird4049

        It’s funny(?) reading about the armies at the start of any major war especially if it as been more than a generation since the last. With the possible exception of the navy, American military at the start of the War of Independence, War of 1812, the American Civil War (both sides), Spanish-American War, and World War Two, it was just a series of disasters led by the incompetent or at least misplaced leaders at all levels. The only reason World War One wasn’t a complete slaughter was because the French and British got the Americans re-trained their way for that war. Everyone wanted to send the Americans in right away, but the green soldiers would have massacred even by the standards of that war.

        Then there are the French, Germans, and Russians at the start of World War One, the Japanese and Russians in the Russo-Japanese War, the Americans at the start of World War Two right into 1943, and the Soviet Union until 1943. Every single major military during the second half of the war was much more capable than at the beginning. This also included the intelligence services, equipment, and industrial production.

        The true incompetents, backstabbers, and brown-nosers were either shot or sent to a concentration camp in the Axis, or were cashiered, or even sent to a more appropriate position in the military, like logistics or training in the Allies.

        I think both our large corporations, the factories, the banks, the federal, state, and local governments, the non profits, the military, intelligence services, the police, the sciences, education, medicine, even the religious institutions, have all been hollowed out, outsourced, or turned into grifts and criminal organizations; the goal in all of them has been to get the sinecure, the grant approved, the corner office, the promotion, that bonus, or the ego feeding positions of power and respect. It has not been to do the jobs for which all those organizations were created for. Rather like a military after a long peace and with similarly horrific outcomes.

    2. Ian Perkins

      Who lost Syria?

      I wasn’t aware Syria had lost, despite the machinations of its enemies. It’s taken a drubbing, but the US and its allies only control fairly small parts of the country.

    3. QuarterBack

      I have spent large portion of my career working in the domain of “turnaround” with much of that in the Government sector. Since the beginning, I have been fascinated in how hordes of highly educated and credentialed experts can come together to build colossal train wrecks; assembled with meticulous precision that spiral inward with an almost fractal consistency.

      Over the years, my observation is that the managerial and engineering classes (most often called in) are trained to apply disciplines designed to optimize working processes. The problem with this is that these optimization approaches rely heavily on the core assumptions of these processes being correct. When the assumptions are wrong, or become wrong because of changes over time, the collective experts will tweak away moving toward a point to where everything collapses under its own weight.

      I have been successful because I begin by identifying the core assumptions and the feedback mechanisms (if they exist) that inform and confirm the core assumptions. When a process is broken, it cannot be fine tuned into health. It must be un-broken (or un F-ed as I often say) or discarded entirely and move on. Another destructive human behavior that I see is that the optimization gurus have a tendency to push out and marginalize the experts that know how to build things and how to fix things with a “thanks, but we’ve got it from here” attitude.

      In Afghanistan and a myriad of other endeavors, we have lost our way because we have lost our ability to question and correct our assumptions, and we have forgotten how to build things, fix them, and recognize when they must be fixed or discarded.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        I remember many years ago a lecturer half jokingly telling us ‘we are churning out thousands of well trained students who can design and operate an excellent plumping system but are incapable of asking ‘”should we really be gassing these people”?

        He did get in trouble for saying it, but it has a certain level of truth, especially as the disconnect between the humanities and engineering/sciences gets wider.

      2. Raymond Sim

        I’d be interested about the role of corruption, including the legal kind. F-ed systems seem nigh-immortal when corrupt, independent of whether they’re still carrying out their supposed functions.

        Have you ever unF-ed a corrupt system without the corruption being purged?

        1. QuarterBack

          I have come across corruption and have succeeded in eliminating it MOST of the time. The most insidious and formidable corruption survives when the loot and culpability are spread around. Getting greedy will get you caught, imprisoned, or worse, but when ill gotten gains are spread around enough, it becomes an institution that will reflexively rally an army to protect it. This army includes those that are not in on the spoils, but have positioned themselves to live within the corrupt system, and profit by providing services, or relying on the charity of their corrupt masters. This is very much a case of “the devil you know”. Such corruption tends to only be ended by spontaneous incidents when there is an “enough is enough” moment, or when another corrupt system replaces the old one, but with a perceived better cut for the parties involved. In the rarest of occasions, leaders who truly want none of the spoils, appeal to lesser enablers to walk away, often with a “go forth and sin more more” amnesty for all but the most egregious actors.

  9. The Rev Kev

    “Biden’s Declining Approval Rating Is Not Just About Afghanistan”

    Is this the sort of thing that the PMC is listening to? I am going to take a wild guess that Biden’s decreasing popularity may not be just about the pandemic or Afghanistan which was off most people’s maps until a little while ago anyway. What could it be then? How about having no problem giving the wealthiest individuals & corporations trillions of dollars while making absolutely certain that nothing is done for most Americans that is structurally permanent. People must realize now that if Washington is not going to pass universal healthcare in the middle of the worst pandemic in a century, then it will never happen – as in ever. Having the $15 an hour minimum wage shot down so that it still remains frozen in time at $7.25 was just gratuitous cruelty. And not giving student debt relief just added to people’s woes. Add to that people that remain under threat of being kicked out of their rentals is not a way to live either. So what did Americans get? temporary relief and some pocket change in the form of two or three checks. And people have not forgotten that the last one that they were bilked out of by $600 for no reason whatsoever. ‘FiveThirtyEight’ should try harder and do their homework. None of what I said was in that article.

      1. Michael Fiorillo

        Clicks and ratings are way down for #McResistance Media since Orange Man left office. He is the guy they love to hate, the Heel who draws the crowds and keeps them riled…

      2. Lee

        And between now and then, Dems could lose Congress. Before he runs again for president, we could have Trump as Speaker of the House.

    1. Carolinian

      The article is about the sudden drop over the last month whereas you are talking about things that happened over several months.

      That said, one thing that definitely may be overlooked is the change in press attitudes toward Biden and the degree to which the MSM drive public perceptions (they probably see that as their job). While an observer from Mars might look at Biden and assume he is gaga, the press has been reassuring the public since he took office that he is the new FDR, a return to normalcy etc. In the same way the perpetual bashing that Trump received from the press undoubtedly contributed to his low approval ratings.

      So by this theory Biden’s real mistake–poll wise–was to defy the Blob and make them look bad with Vietnam bugout part two.

    2. tegnost

      My cynical view remains that he whole thing seems to be designed to control the news cycle, outcomes be damned…
      sorry for the marine, u.s. elites can’t fail, they can only be failed…
      Bidens falling numbers only adds to my cynicism.

    3. enoughisenough

      yes, and also he’s doubling down on drilling for oil – on climate change in general he’s a disaster.

      Line 3 also needs to be stopped, lest the whole Mississippi river get poisoned, and it’s radio silence with him.

      The media loves Afghanistan because they are funded by the military and weapons contractors, but it’s a side show.

    4. Felix_47

      Campaign finance reform. Without that expect no change. There are way too many people feeding at the trough to get health care reform unless the legislators have no skin in the game…. Same with law and tort reform and the same with finance reform. I think Biden did a great job in quelling any interest in M4A by putting the unemployed on COBRA at government expense. He then fed the people he and his party represent, the insurance and medical industry, and he threw a bone to the hoi polloi. Kudos.

  10. Louis Fyne

    >>>US Troops caught up in ISIL-K – Taliban Civil War: Why it Proves Biden was Right to Leave

    Not just Juan Cole specifically….talk about gaslighting by the media and DC. There is a right way to leave and a wrong way to leave.

    The right way was abiding by the 2020 Doha Agreement (that Trump signed) which stipulated that all US troops would be out by 9.5 months following the signature (May 15, 2021)…..which Biden-State-Pentagon broke by moving back the US withdrawal date from 5/1 to 9/11 to 8/31.

    Afghanistan started to snowball the week following Biden’s abrogation of the peace deal as the Taliban too broke their side of the agreement and took the gloves off

    1. The Rev Kev

      Hardly a civil war in any case. I read about one operation where you had US forces, the Afghan Army and Taliban forces all working together to take out ISIL-K forces. I suspect that it is still going on. The US just launched an attack in Afghanistan against what they said was the planner of those terrorist bombings. What’s the bet that it was the Taliban that gave them the actionable intelligence to do so? If the US is serious about taking on this version of ISIS, they should make it a permanent partnership.

      1. Ian Perkins

        Re: Hardly a civil war in any case

        According to the Asia Times ‘Who profits from the Kabul suicide bombing?’ article, “Significantly, the absolute majority [of ISK] are non-Afghans: Iraqis, Saudis, Kuwaitis, Pakistanis, Uzbeks, Chechens and Uighurs.”

        1. The Rev Kev

          I saw that and wondered about it. Those sound like the nationalities that have been fighting in Syria so are not locals and are actually imports. Funny thing that. When asked, high US officials have said in public that the biggest concentration of Al-Qaeda fighters anywhere in the world are in Idlib province in Syria. But the thing is, this is the same place that the west threatened to attack Syria a few short years ago if they moved to mop them up. And they are protected still to this day. How about that.

          1. Ian Perkins

            But they changed their name, and officially renounced their previous allegiance to al-Qaeda – didn’t you hear?

            (Al-Baghdadi applied to join up three times, IIRR.)

    2. Morgan Everett

      Juan Cole has a bad case of Trump Derangement Syndrome. “It was time to get out, but also, Trump totally was trying to get out in a bad way.”

      1. cocomaan

        Juan Cole has gone downhill since he visited Libya after Hillary Clinton’s little regime change adventure.

        I believe he got a tour by government officials. He spent a lot of time talking about how great the situation was, how great the transitional government acted, and otherwise just repeating the propaganda.

        I specifically called him out about the plight of the Taureg and he never responded.

        He’s living in a weird fantasy-land now. It’s a shame, I used to read him daily and even met him in person.

    3. lyman alpha blob

      ISIL-K. Just a couple days ago is was ISIS-K. And a couple days before that nobody had ever heard of them.

      Funny how every time a bomb goes off, the media trots out some new “terrorist” group we should be afraid of and the “experts” to tell us all about them.

      1. Ian Perkins

        They’ve been in Afghanistan a while now. They call themselves الدولة الإسلامية­–ولاية خراسان, which perhaps accounts for the various ways they’re referred to in English. I think the L is for Levant, which in their Arabic name is Sham, hence the S.

        1. lyman alpha blob

          My theory (well not really mine – see Seymour Hersh’s rat line for example) is that the US just keeps pumping arms into the region that find their way into the hands of disaffected men – men who are disaffected because their countries keep being turned into rubble – and then the US labels certain groups and uses or demonizes them as needed. One day they’re a “terrorist” and the next they’re “moderate opposition”, but basically they’re just pissed off young men with little hope for the future but lots of guns. Rinse and repeat and you’ve got yourself a destabilized region and a self licking ice cream cone that keeps all the defense contractors in fancy new yachts.

          1. Louis Fyne

            (allegedly) that’s literally Israel’s strategy as admitted by multiple supposedly ex-Mossad officials.

            Understandably (Yom Kippur War) Israel is afraid of secular pan-Arabism…hence they (probably with a wink from the CIA) actively keep the sectarian Islamic flames burning, and there are more than enough wannabe warlords who want external help.

          2. Felix_47

            According to Wikipedia ‘Large numbers of Afghan men cannot afford to buy a wife (through providing money for dowries and weddings). When the nonprofit International Council on Security and Development interviewed more than 420 Afghan men in 2010, 82 percent suggested that the best way to discourage young men from joining the Taliban would be to provide them with money for dowries and weddings.[7] In general, there are not enough women for some men to have multiple wives and, at the same time, for every man to have one wife.’ That is certainly confirmed by my experience deployed to AFG twice and what we see in Europe with many Afghan men and European women. The population of AFG has gone from 20 million to 38 million in 20 years and there are a huge number of young excess men who are desperate for wives and money. The current epidemic of over 5 children per woman cannot go on forever. Afghanistan was self sufficient at 10 million with a decent life. At 20 million when I first deployed it was possible but with 38 million recently there are not enough resources for all to survive. The US has been providing half of the jobs directly and indirectly in AFG and half of the economic product. We will have famine and war if we cut off all funding.

      2. Skip Intro

        When you throw together a ‘stay behind’ operation with only a decade to plan, you don’t always nail the branding right out of the gate. Give them a break, all the sharp tacks got moved to the Iran desk ages ago.

      3. Jen

        I’m so old I remember the original ever shifting ISIL vs ISIS narrative. I have the same comment now as I did then: if you want me to believe this group is the big oogity boogity that you say it is, pick a family blogging name for them and stick to it. Can’t you even get your propaganda straight?

        Someone smarter than me among this commentariat may have observed during this previous iteration of this rollout that the name shift would allow our powers that be to claim it was the other ISI_ causing mischief when “one” of them turned out to be on our payroll.

        This is starting to remind me of a bill collecting job I had when I was in college, where I really wanted to tell our customers: “You know you’re lying, and I know your lying. If you aren’t going to tell me the truth, at least come up with a new story.”

        There was one client I actually loved calling because while his excuses for not paying were utter BS, he had a new, and creative excuse every single week.

        1. David

          The group has been well-known since at least 2015. The background and recent history are well explained in this article. . These groups do change their names from time to time, but most of the confusion is at our end, from people who don’t read Arabic or Pashtun and can’t be bothered to read articles by those who do.

          1. Ian Perkins

            I read there was much confusion among Western intelligence agencies post-Sept 11 2001, as searching for someone’s name drew a blank because it had been spelled with a K instead of a Q and so on.

          2. PlutoniumKun

            Thanks for that link, its an excellent article.

            For one thing, it hadn’t occurred to me that part of the Talibans talks with Iran would include promises to protect Afghan Shia.

            Its an odd world we are moving into when the Taliban appear to be the sensible, pragmatic bridge-building moderates, but we are where we ware.

      4. danpaco

        Thank goodness they kept with the english alphabet variant naming with regards to ISIS. My greek alphabet knowledge after gamma is a little fuzzy!

  11. Bill Smith

    Where does “most likely NOT as a result of gain-of-function” show up in the IC report? I don’t see anything along that line one way or the other.

    1. Louis Fyne

      Yes. That headline is a blatant manipulation of the very qualified text of the actual statement

  12. timbers

    US Marines officer relieved of duties after video seeking ‘accountability’ over Afghanistan

    The Marine in the YouTube was not unhinged or ranting in any way (as I would have been). He was calm, reasoned, thoughtful.

    But he insisted our “leaders” be held accountable.

    No wonder he was canned.

    1. Ian Perkins

      If he’d been unhinged or ranting, it could have been passed off as PTSD or something. Being calm, reasoned, and thoughtful proves he’s a traitor.

    2. voteforno6

      Regardless of the merits of his comments, he was relieved of his command because he was insubordinate. He understood what he was doing, and why he would be relieved. If, for example, one of his subordinates made public comments like that about him, he would’ve relieved that subordinate of his/her duties, and rightfully so.

      1. barefoot charley

        He has since said (above, somewhere) that in his commander’s position he would have cashiered himself. He criticism was of the executives, not the supervisors.

    3. Jack

      The officer’s statement raises a very key question: what are the names of the people who decided to abandon Bagram before the evacuation was complete?

      1. Felix_47

        Having spent a month or longer on and off or so going in and out of there to forward bases I have to say that moving the embassy to Bagram and doing the evacuation from there was cheaper, much safer, and much more efficient. The base was as big as any AF base in the US. It was fully defended. There were extensive support facilities to include mess halls, gyms, sleeping facilities air conditioning all over. There were office buildings all over including the one that Buttigieg must have been shuffling paper in. It had its own power plant. I used to run part of it. I think it was nine miles in circumference or at least that is the number that sticks in my mind. There was a fully equipped hospital built to US standards with MRI and CT and three or four fully equipped operating rooms. There was an ICU and multiple clinics. There was full digital XRay. We left all of that there for the looters. We had full maintenance facilities for all aircraft. Fueling facilities. It was a major US Air Base built as if we were going to be there for 100 years. It would have been perfect for vetting the Afghans since we now know that about half of the evacuees were just people that pushed themselves to the front of the line. And given the rent payments I think the Taliban would have been happy to continue the lease. They know they need the support of the US. Don’t forget not one US soldier was attacked during the last year. That shows they disciplined their people. Not even one pot shot. So keeping Bagram until everyone was evacuated was the only choice. Kabul airport was not a militarily defensible air base. I do think that the democratic party leadership owes it to the nation and the families of the Marines who were killed for no reason to explain exactly who made that decision. Biden, like Trump, avoided Viet Nam with trivial medical issues available to those who bought a letter from a practitioner so he may have not appreciated the situation as commander in chief assuming he made the decision. Maybe it was a general in which case he should resign. And we should work with the Taliban. I did and I found them to be people of their word. And if you treat them with respect they treat you as well with respect. I think the Taliban would be an improvement over the puppets we fed hundreds of millions of dollars to. They want an Islamic Republic and most Afghans that are not living off the US want exactly that.

  13. hemeantwell

    I hope that the Marine officer demanding accountability reads the Asia Times article talking about a ‘rat line’ from Idlib to Afghanistan. The US can’t quite bring itself to take that disruptive card out of its deck, yielding yet more blowback.

  14. The Historian

    Waukesha: When an ideology becomes more important than even the health of their children. So what are all these ideology infused brains going to do next? Because it never stops there.

    1. The Rev Kev

      It is remarkable to have a belief system that requires children to go hungry just so that you can feel morally superior to their parents. As to what comes next, I would say shaming those children that require assistance in order to have something to eat that day by letting their classmates know that they are so poor. Giving them a standard, identifying meal maybe or having them sit in one area while they eat.

      1. Nikkikat

        There are school districts that make the poor kids work in the cafeteria in exchange for the subsidized meal. This has been going on for many years. Every kid in that school knows why those kids work in the cafeteria. Shaming the poor is a sport in this country.

        1. hunkerdown

          Societies are constructed through microaggression, as the disingenuous bourgeois-critical theorists well know. Ideas like this get traction because the ruling class protects those who serve its interests and we don’t take it upon ourselves to push back against the individuals propagating such nonsense.

          1. Kouros

            There are all kinds of micro-aggressions:

            “Far from being expected to demonstrate personal charisma or the ability to outdo rivals, those who aspired to a role on the Council of Tlaxcala did so in a spirit of self-deprecation—even shame—and were required to subordinate themselves to the people of the city. To ensure this was no mere show, each was subject to trials, starting with mandatory exposure to public abuse, regarded as the proper reward of ambition, and then—with one’s ego in tatters—a long period of seclusion, where the incumbent politician suffered ordeals of fasting, sleep deprivation, bloodletting, and a strict regime of moral instruction. The initiation ended with a “coming out” of the newly constituted public servant amid feasting and celebration. Clearly, taking up office in this indigenous democracy required personality traits very different from those we take for granted in modern electoral politics.”


        2. Arizona Slim

          One of my friends worked in her school cafeteria. She ran the cash register and was grateful to gain the practical experience.

          She also told me that one of her teachers noticed that she didn’t have a proper winter coat. Her family couldn’t afford such a thing. So, she was given one, thanks to the school.

      2. IM Doc

        For years, my mother was the cook in our local elementary school. This was in the days before Marriott or whatever corporation was hired to bring in frozen pizza and ketchup. This was real food and required real work.

        As a consequence, she was put in charge of dozens of these kids that were tasked with working to “pay” for their food. She found the whole concept abhorrent. But what she did become was a fierce protector of these kids. Throughout my young life, there were often 5-10 of these kids at our house for holidays, etc. They would never have had any if not for my mother.

        What I will never forget as long as I live, was at my mother’s funeral, dozens of these kids showed up, now fully grown up, At the receiving line, my sisters and I were treated to one story after the other about how she had changed the course of their lives.

        My mother always taught us all that we should take every opportunity we have to be positive. And do good for others. No matter the situation. And she lived it.

          1. newcatty

            Thank you, Doc. Your mother was one of the angels that walked among us.

            I have related this anecdote before, but it is relevant. While working at a school in the most affluent school district in a large southwestern city, I was observing elementary school kids being taken by teachers to the cafeteria for lunch. This was just at the beginning of the corp influx on the offered food selections. Tuesday was pizza day, Friday was burger delux day. Everyday was salad and deli bar day. Hot entrees were offered with a couple of choices. None of that food was cooked from scratch. I watched as one of the few children of color approached the intake line. The cafeteria worker looked flustered and even distressed. She handed a white bread, peanut butter and “jelly” sandwich to little girl. The girl held back tears and shouted ” I hate these sandwiches”. Threw it down on counter and ran outside. I froze with shock and bit my lip to not intervene. Quickly, a teacher came up to me. She pulled me aside and whispered into my ear, ” You know, she is one of those people. Her single mother moved into one of the new apartments here, just so her kid can come to school in our wonderful district.” I gave her a veiled contemptuous look and walked away. Later reported entire incident to school principal. Soothing crickets. Thanked me for drawing the situation to her attention. Have a nice day.

        1. skippy

          I clearly remember the 80s neoliberal C-corp market share expansion into the Public Education via the self funding [running schools like a business] whilst state and federal funds were reduced. There were quite a few articles on it back in the day in the press that have all been sucked down the memory hole.

          Best bit is the post roll out studies done on child behavior and grades linked to the change in diet and the ***cost*** to both the school, society, and the child near and far term. Some schools removed the Corp food and all the problems went away [behavior/grades], others though decided to pack the behavioral modified into special schools thus sweeping the problem under the rug.

          Then some might ponder the chronic diverticulitis issue [80%+] that afflicts Americans more than any other nation, but, I guess there is more money in it for investors after making packet on kids at the beginning. IM Doc … its a hell of a thing to consider the whole issue is just lack of fiber in diet due to being fed processed – for profit [rents] food – and then ponder why pandemic response is a dogs breakfast e.g. sorta a Bill Black thingy where – more – fraudulent mortgages were issued right before the implosion of absurdly risked credit went critical rather than scale back and clean it up … with the upside of having the largest transfer of wealth upwards and now consolidation of everything under the sun … 3 more years at minimum with covid … risk[?????] … see past performances.

        2. The Rev Kev

          That is one helluva tribute to have at a funeral and is totally unforgettable. And I see your mother’s influence still runs strong in you. Thank you for that story.

  15. timbers

    Powell’s benign view on inflation is getting pushback at the Fed, and elsewhere CNBC

    The suburban home I purchased about 5 yrs ago has almost doubled in price with most of the gain happening in the last 18 months.

    How’s that not inflation and how’s that transitory?

    Oh….and Stop&Shop just raised the price of their brand of organic bread about 10% and and simultaneously have stopped discounting it with periodic sale prices.

    Powell and the folks running the Fed will do and say anything to keep the trillions of free money they are giving to their rich friends, flowing for all time.

    Those free trillions being handed out to the rich via QE and ZIRP should be classified as “government appropriations / expenditures” and ruled unconstitutional unless authorized by Congress.

    1. Carla

      In my neck of the woods, meat is up at least 20 percent. Everything else is up too, except maybe dairy and eggs. (NE Ohio)

      1. jefemt

        Local small shop plumber just gave everyone a $5.00 per hour raise, to keep up with another local big-shop operating-regionally plumber who raised his pay, to attract the non-existent workforce.
        These are apprentice/ journeymen, not full blown plumbers, yet.
        My small-shop pal now bills out $140/hr. He’s astounded that no clients even bat an eye.

        Inelasticity of demand?

        We both observed that even with the significant bump in billing, and pay to his crews, none of them are likely to get enough in savings to by a home, the old hub of the wheel of local communities. The home.
        There is an acute workforce housing shortage, due in large part to second-vacation home phenom.

        Thank you for the open-letter to airbnb-pitchforks-are-coming article. Made my head spin.

        Oh, heck , it all makes my head spin. Circling back to why one doesn’t have kids…
        I have to admit when I see a young family, my heart breaks, in the Plague years of the waxing Anthropocene.

        1. Lee

          Paul Solomon does regular spots on PBS Newshour called Work Shift, focusing often on the state of play among skilled manual workers. There’s a segment on plumbers in the Seattle area earning six figures.

          What with so many young being herded toward college then ending up in debt and in low paying jobs, there is a dearth of of workers with manual skills.

          In a related development reported by Solomon, IBM has struck a blow against credentialism. It has discovered that there is a pool of talent among people without college degrees and has dropped having a degree as a requirement for employment.

          1. John k

            Very interesting. Similar situation in late 60’s/70’s, gov drafts engineers for Vietnam cannon fodder while demanding them for space race, very beneficial to me.
            So for whatever reason, there are shortages in certain fields, companies have to look harder, maybe even train new hires. And pay a lot more.
            Pretty overdue.

          2. Betty

            In the 1960s and 1970s (that I know of) IBM hired mostly non-college grads for programmers who set up the mainframes on Wall Street that still pump away today. From their stories, many were college failures from rural areas and towns who then joined or were drafted by the military, tested and found to be extremely intelligent, and then trained in technology (as it was at that time). When they left, corporations vied to hire them. IBM had a required training course (6-mos or year) that you had to pass to work in technology (whether or not you had a college degree). After that, they required that you get a college degree at a local college while working. They (and other corporations) took the cream of the working class.

            1. Lee

              That’s interesting. There were a good number of the type of people you describe who I encountered and worked with in one or another radical cause back in the day. They had become disillusioned with their respective companies’ political orientation as regards the Vietnam war and other issues and became avid activists.

        2. hunkerdown

          The home, the central institution of the patriarchy. Oh well, when capitalism stops providing access to the things they are interested in, it should fall soon enough. Just have to convince the trades that the labor theory of property doesn’t actually apply to them, that they are being paid for their complicity in the order, not the value of the work they do (that’s communist).

    2. griffen

      Lot of Fed talk this week with the virtual conference in place of the annual Jackson Hole confab. Inflation plus the taper talk coming out of the Dallas Fed and Philadelphia Fed is notable I think.

      Real estate is bound to cool at some point, but when is not up to me. SP 500 reached another all time closing high Friday. Call me crazy but 2022 might just turn into the real correction no one wants.

      1. timbers

        Key word – “talk”. And that’s all it is and all it ever will be. And the talk has been going since forever almost. Reality check: If you can’t taper in good times, you can’t taper, period. As they say elsewhere – you can’t taper a pyramid scheme.

    3. Chauncey Gardiner

      Fed Chair Powell’s publicly stated position that inflation is “transitory” and the Fed doesn’t need to raise current negative real interest rates to address the inflation that has already occurred and is likely going forward dovetails neatly with the desire of Wall Street and large Private Equity firms to perpetuate “the bezzle”, as originally discussed by John Kenneth Galbraith. Michael Pettis of the Carnegie Endowment recently wrote a paper in which he insightfully discussed this issue at some length.

      It has become self evident that the Fed’s QE-ZIRP monetary policy has been ineffective in addressing the nation’s economic malaise since the financial crisis, and has instead largely served to increase speculative financial asset and real estate prices together with related levels of private sector debt. In my view the nation would benefit from a significant policy shift by both the Fed and Congress. This shift would include policies to assure those speculators and financial engineers who have benefited from “the bezzle” take the associated losses from asset price writedowns rather than those losses being transferred to ordinary households through the austerity, financial repression, and inflation that have been employed in the recent past.

      Besides beginning to address economic stagnation, this shift could lead to a reset of the incentive structures and dominant values away from rewarding debt-fueled speculation and toward investment in economically productive assets and services.

    4. Maritimer

      “…price of their brand of organic bread….”
      Organic fraud:

      I became involved with “organic” back in the 1980s. I used to attend yearly conferences before Government Regulation. Many of the leading organic lights were against any involvement with Government. They were right: organic is now industrial, megacorporate, government controlled. Like Finance, Medicine, etc. this does not work so well.

      Prior to Government Regulation “organic” was defined as “vegetables sold off the back of a beatup pickup by a Hippie.” Organic was considered crackpot. Hippies, of course, were despised, loathed, vilified, etc. by the MSM and Establishment. Much like the Unvaccinated today.

  16. Bandit

    Covid-19 origins still murky after Biden administration’s 90-day investigation

    totally predictable…one thing we can count on is the muddying of the waters and no definite conclusion; much easier to leave it dangling so nothing definitive can be countered with uncomfortable “facts”. We all know from experience how reliable the government is in investigating itself. Once it is established that there is not enough evidence either way, the issue will fade away like the Epstein “suicide” or the mysterious collapse of World Trade Center building #7. Just read about it in Wikipedia and STFU.

    1. Screwball

      FTA: The Biden administration’s 90-day investigation into the origins of Covid-19 was inconclusive, according to an unclassified report released from the intelligence community on Friday.

      The intelligence community would be about the last people I would ask to find the truth.

    2. voteforno6

      Except, the U.S. government isn’t investigating itself here, is it? Trying to pin down the origins of a virus is difficult enough, particularly when it’s in another country with a government that isn’t exactly known for its transparency in the best of times.

    3. Richard Needleman

      It seems that the Chinese are abandoning their claim that the virus came from an animal reservoir as the explanation for the pandemic, and substituting a lab leak hypothesis of their own:

      Or is propaganda consistency a problem for both the US and China?

      To repeat: There is no evidence for a natural origin of SARC-COV2 and ample evidence that it was an engineered virus. I wonder if Fauci’s stable of complicit virologists played a part in the report.

      1. Dean

        I am not sure what ample evidence there is that confirms SARS-CoV-2 was engineered. On the contrary many reports suggest that it was not engineered. Among them:

        Also TWiV 762 discusses SARS-CoV-2 origins

        1. chris

          Yep. There’s a high bar for anyone trying to prove that SARS-COV-2 was engineered. Especially because we have 2 prior coronavirus outbreaks that were completely natural based on years of analysis and research (SARS-1, MERS). It is possible it escaped or was modified in a lab, but I’m not sure what good knowing that does us now.

          I’m much more interested in the USA ceasing to fund any activities where that possibility is a risk. And I mean risk in terms way beyond what a McKinseyBot considers appropriate. I don’t want to hear any six sigma BS. I want the risk to be evaluated and verified by a third party and prior evidence considered and then determined to be effectively impossible (1 in a billion or better odds).

        2. Objective Ace

          How about that covid immediately spread to a number of other animal vectors. If it naturally jumped to humans like the proir Covid cases why should we see it in dogs, cats, ferrets, deer, etc.? (ferrets being a particularly interesting case because they are used in lab experiments)

  17. Wukchumni

    Who let the dogs in, woof woof woof, woof woof!

    I don’t know why but the trio of canines reminded me of the Hanson Brothers from Slapshot and its pretty obviously no big deal for the cat, who just sits there and watches, seen it all before.

    1. Lee

      Our pit bull was when we first got her quite the terror when it came to small animals, but with time and training she has become tolerant of our cats. We recently got a kitten and introduced her gradually and under watchful eye to the dog. They appear to have developed something of a friendship. The kitten will often run up to the dog, sniff and then gently bap her own the nose. Fearsome pit bull just wags her tail and regards the kitten with what I take to be amusement.

  18. QuarterBack

    An interesting site to watch the Afghanistan evacuation is FlightRadar24. This site shows all flights (with transponders on) in real time across the globe. You can click on any aircraft and many details about it including its prior flight path. It is mostly a free site, but there are some subscription add-ons to get more metadata. Right now, pretty much every flight in Afghanistan, or in direct path to or from it, is a military aircraft from the U.S. and other allies. It’s interesting to see the types of craft, the country of ownership, and the chosen flight paths.,66.57/7

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Thanks for the reminder, I haven’t looked at that site in a while. It does seem that its military airlift only.

    1. Lost in OR

      Meaning what, exactly? The military/intelligence malfeasance? The withdrawal? The CDC/FDA/WHO covid response? Fauci himself? The Fed? School reopening? The Biden Admin? Pelosi? The 9 or 10 or whatever corporate dems? The drought/floods/heat domes? Action on climate change? Back to normal? The new normal?

      Sorry, I have a bandwidth issue going on here. And that’s without any deep dives. Yeah, WASS. I’m going out to the shop. I need to construct something positive.

      1. Eustachedesaintpierre

        I am beginning to wonder how bad it would have to get, before people in high places would have to start worrying about immunity from the herd.

  19. The Rev Kev

    ‘Nafiseh Kohnavard
    Well my previous tweet that I deleted was correct.
    Taliban is now controlling a part of Kabul Airport including a section of military side and gradually will be in full control before 31 August. “It’s a gradual process” sources tell me.’

    No real surprises there. An airport is a large area and as western troops pull out, those gaps will have to be filled by Taliban forces in order to secure that area. I read that they are asking Turkish forces there to stay on for a short while to help run that airport while people are being evacuated and they are asking help from Qatar for running technical aspects of that airport afterwards-

  20. Henry Moon Pie

    Umair Haque’s most recent one, “Are We at the End of the Future?,” is interesting as usual. Haque proposes that Modernity brought us two interdependent concepts: Death and The Future. Death hadn’t been a problem until then, Haque claims, because the dominance of Christianity in the West erased its reality with the promise of heaven. “The Future” came into being as a necessary palliative for Death, a yang to Death’s yin.

    Fundamental to “The Future” is the idea that things are getting better, and that belief is dying, Haque says without much need to convince us. So now there’s just Death, and that is, for Haque, a welcoming setting for fascism, because faced with no Future and only Death, the only way out is to travel back, back to order and a nation-state greater than ourselves, something immortal.

    Though I might share Haque’s possible schadenfreude at the collapse of corrupt, anti-human institutions, I do not buy his level of pessimism. For one thing, he conceives of this process in an entirely one-dimensional way. Formerly we could move forward or back on some sort of paradigm/worldview scale. Now we can only move backward because our actions have foreclosed us from having a Future according to Haque, but we can easily conceive of a model that gives us at least one additional degree of freedom. We’ve traveled down the Enlightenment path for more than three centuries now, but there have been alternative paths that were rejected initially ranging from those championed by the Romantics to those advocated by the hippies. Some of those options, modified and cleansed of anachronistic elements, remain open to us and offer an entirely new and different Future from Techno World or fascism.

    Haque remains a valuable voice for me. His analysis of our current multiple catastrophes is open-eyed and unsparing. But he could read around a little more and learn about the ferment taking place in a number of different areas from anthropology to ecology and see that a new understanding of who we are and how we fit into this cosmos is emerging.

    1. Dftbs

      I think we are at the end of the future, as envisioned by “western” imagination. Of
      Course humanity’s challenges look large when we are run by power structures that can’t even fulfill the most basic functions of governmental administration.

      But this sort of refrain of doom is more like a petulant cry, it supposes that since people like him can’t carry the banner of “progress” then there will be no progress.

      But there are other societies that have found the social capital to generate material progress en masse over the past decades; and to demonstrate this in our present time of crisis. And they don’t care what guys in London think.

    2. Pate

      “he could read around a little more and learn about the ferment taking place in a number of different areas from anthropology to ecology and see that a new understanding of who we are and how we fit into this cosmos is emerging”

      Might you recommend a few titles? Thanks

      1. Henry Moon Pie regularly includes articles about this ferment. It led me to:

        1) Jeremy Lent’s The Patterning Instinct. Lent is a writer, not an anthropologist or historian, but he did his homework and that book led me to Thomas Berry and Yuval Harari. Lent has a new book out developing the themes of The Patterning Instinct further.

        2) Chris Smaje’s Small Farm Future that advocates a return to small-scale, more labor intensive farming as a way to transition out of industrial agriculture while restoring the ecology a few acres at a time.

        3) The Common Earth course of which I’ve just completed the first “semester.” The course weaves together four threads: a) a quite thorough investigation of systems thinking; b) exposure to the “New Story” from the Thomas Berry Foundation which is a new understanding of who we are based on what we know of physics and biology; c) learning about soils, permaculture, climate modeling (EN-ROADS model), etc.; and d) training in what’s called the Three Principles, material that contains echos for me from Alan Watts, Buddhism and Taoism.

        4) Doughnut Economics by Kate Raworth; an approach to economics that sets two concentric rings (hence doughnut) with the outer one being ecological limits and the inner one being essential human needs. A classmate in the Common Earth course turned us onto a four-session course on that book being offered by ICA Global, a private consulting firm that grew out of a 50s World Council of Churches effort. I will be taking that course in September during the semester break in the Common Earth course.

        (BTW, these course and materials are free)

        While the pace of this activity is definitely increasing, some of these people have been working for some time. Thomas Berry began his push for a new paradigm in the 90s. Fritjof Capra, author of the Tao of Physics, wrote and produced a movie called “Mindwalk” (available on Youtube) in the late 80s starring John Heard, Liv Ullman and Sam Waterston that is essentially a filmed Socratic dialogue talking about a systems approach to our complex of problems (which have not changed, only gotten worse) along with “new story” elements that Capra considers important just as Thomas Berry did.

        A few additional books that I have not read but the reviews look interesting:

        Rutger Bregman’s Human Kind

        Tim Jackson’s Post Growth: Life After Capitalism

        That ought to get your started.

    3. Kouros

      I have watched a short documentary some years ago about a family clan in southern China, who gathers and celebrates their ancestors each year. they were in the hundreds if not more, coming from the area and from all over the place. Which, in my mind, puts to rest and shame all the mental gymnastics of Haque. The catalytic element here is family, progeny & ancestry. Haque is to enraptured with the idea of individual. But as individuals we are just blips. And the modernity’s approach to the future is to abstract and has no flesh and blood that we would make us truly invested in it…

    4. Mikel

      I sense most concern (from those that lay the biggest claim on “the future”) is about who owns it.
      And a great deal of these writings are there to support that claim.

  21. Wukchumni

    Bought a couple of cat scratchers in the guise of recliners the other day, and in my experience easy chairs always seemed to be made in Mexico, but that was then and now they’re made in Vietnam.

    So, 50 years from now, will we be buying sofas made in Afghanistan?

    1. Carolinian

      Cheap furniture used to be made in North Carolina back when US imperialism was mostly confined to this continent. We have an historic cemetery in town where the mill tycoons of the late 19th/early 20th centuries are buried. Almost all of them were from up North.

      So perhaps the North/South capitalist dynamic discussed elsewhere in NC today merely spread its tentacles around an unresisting planet. Vietnam joined the team after a couple of decades. Walmarts for Kabul? (think they already have the McDonald’s).

    2. PlutoniumKun

      I’d love to buy a sofa from Afghanistan, there is a great chance of finding a few mil stuffed down the back.

  22. Ian Perkins

    Caitlin Johnstone has a new piece reckoning many of those killed at Kabul airport were shot by the US or its allies:

    “Many we spoke to, including eyewitnesses, said significant numbers of those killed were shot dead by US forces in the panic after the blast,” the BBC’s Secunder Kermani said on Twitter.
    According to a translation posted by Sangar Paykhar of the podcast Afghan Eye, workers at an emergency hospital in Kabul are saying that most of the fatalities from the blast actually died by bullets fired from above, which would track with what the BBC witness said about gunfire coming from the towers where American and Turkish soldiers were.

    1. s.n.

      thank you for posting this. I saw a brief mention on yesterday’s [28 August] Guardian live blog for Afghanistan:

      11.00 AM

      from BBC reporter Secunder Kermani

      Our report from last night on the awful ISIS attack outside Kabul airport as families still search Kabul’s morgues for their loved ones.. Many we spoke to, including eyewitnesses, said significant numbers of those killed were shot dead by US forces in the panic after the blast

      and the same on

      but despite being very big if true, no other mention anywhere. odd that…. or not?

  23. Mr. Magoo

    Re: “An Open Letter to Airbnb”

    I despise what this company has become. Our neighborhood here in Silicon Valley has three Airbnb
    houses within a stones throw (and I am no major league pitcher). One is known as the ‘party house’
    for a reason. We look forward to whatever someone decides to go to someone else’s neighborhood
    to celebrate. One had an owner that built out 11 (yes, eleven) bedrooms in a standard 3/2 and rented
    on Airbnb. After almost a year of a street chock full of cars, coming at all hours day and night, only
    got called when one of the ‘tenants’ had an arrest warrant for not showing up in court on concealed
    carry charges – the police literally came in to the neighborhood with that military equipment that we
    hear so much about. And then the last one is rented by students who ‘Airbnb-out’ the extra bedroom
    in an effort to cover their rent. Still, same issue with cars coming and parking in front of the neighbors houses – driven by people oblivious to the fact that their neighbors here in Northern California, sleep
    with their windows open at night and don’t necessarily appreciate their taste in music. I guess we
    should celebrate their entrepreneurship.

    This letter is well written. I hope it gets taken up here in the US. Someone’s right to ‘invest’ should
    not be based on making life miserable for the rest of us.

    1. Carla

      “Someone’s right to ‘invest’ should not be based on making life miserable for the rest of us.”

      I heartily agree! But I would not chose Air BnB, much as I hate it, as the first business to apply that dictum to. I would apply it first to our for-profit industrial agricultural and food sector, which makes us sick, and our medical/industrial complex, which keeps us sick. They were making life miserable for the 99% in this country long before Air BnB came along.

      And then there’s always the gun industry, and endless wars.

      Continuing to make life miserable for the rest of us… capitalism has provided us with a long, long list…

    2. SteveD

      What is “open” about the “open letter” is its declaration of class war. I agree with the author wholeheartedly. We have a collective, if unquantifiable, interest in maintaining communities. Our duopoly government thus far hasn’t shown interest at the level that matters (Federal, really, since AirBnB is unavoidably interstate commerce).

    3. PlutoniumKun

      While the author is entirely right, I think that horse has long ago bolted.

      Only local regulations can control this now. Its quite difficult, short term lets are forbidden in my apartment building, but some landlords still try to do it sneakily. Covid has cut off that business to an extent, but I’m sure it will return.

    4. Henry Moon Pie

      Not much of an Airbnb problem here on the East Side of Cleveland. The closest thing was a few years back when a neighbor decided to supplement and enhance his dealing income with running an after-hours club in his back yard. Since it was across the street, the noise from the operation itself wasn’t that bad for us. It was when the Navigators and Escalades opened their doors upon arrival that we were blasted with those outrageously overamped sound systems. Then around 7 AM the next morning, the proprietor usually had to deal with angry women left behind by men who went home with somebody else. Rob was actually quite skilled at keeping things cool. Not a single shooting over two summers of operation. Maybe he should have been put in charge of some of the bars around here.

  24. Wukchumni

    An Open Letter to Airbnb Jared Brock (Paul R)
    I’m in agreement with much that was mentioned in the letter, but it doesn’t really talk about how owning a vacation rental has set people free, and they aren’t likely to want to limit the days rented out per year to a fortnight, or only be owner occupied. (like how’s that gonna work during Covid, anyhow?)

    Ran into a friend (he’s ok, just a slight concussion) in Sequoia NP, a full time NPS employee pulling down $25k a year (plus stunning sunrises & awesome sunsets) and inquired how his vacation rental was going, and he told me he made 2x his yearly NPS salary on his AirBnB per annum.

    1. Carla

      Yes, a very few benefit at the expense of the very, very many. That’s the business model of rentiers — er, capitalism, is it not? And individually owned Air BnB properties account for just a tiny percentage of the total.

    2. SteveD

      This is classic externality …. The owner of the vacation home is imposing costs on the surrounding community without bearing any of those costs in his/her own operation. No different than an industrial plant dumping toxic chemicals in the adjacent river.

      1. Louis Fyne

        the bottom 85% has been so cleaved by the culture wars that they can’t even come together and elect an anti-AirBnB slate of local administrators/politicans

        1. Carla

          As was said elsewhere in comments today, Air BnB is really a federal matter because interstate commerce. Therefore, local governments can try to take it on but my understanding is, they’ll get about as far as they have with anti-war resolutions or regulating telecoms.

          1. Wukchumni

            Tulare County is the 6th poorest county in the state, and they really depend on the 10% transit occupancy tax as much as the owner-operators are all about the Benjamins.

            People who are on the outside looking in-disgusted by it all, have no voice in the matter.

    3. Jason Boxman

      I thought it was interesting the author bought into the founding myth of AirBnb. All these startups have some kind of founding myth. What are the odds any of them are actually true? I just saw one from a startup that’s trying to revolutionize (with big data!) the food supply chain to prevent food waste. None of the glossy marketing stuff on their web site seemed to have anything to do with that lofty mission; It’s all supply chain management for food with big data. Ha ha.

  25. diptherio

    That pupil size = intelligence piece in SA is more a reflection on the author’s lack of intelligence — or at least awareness — than it is of anything else. The claim they are making is simply not, and cannot be, backed up by their experimental design. They have people perform arbitrary tasks, bearing little or no resemblance to anything one might encounter outside of a psychology experiment, and take the results of that test and use them as a proxy for something we might actually be interested in. But the proxy measures are ridiculous, and take much more suspension of disbelief than I, for one, am willing to grant them.

    Take, for instance, their measure of “attention control”:

    participants had to resist glancing toward a bold, flickering asterisk on one side of a computer screen and instead rapidly look in the opposite direction to identify a letter. The letter would disappear within moments, so even a brief eye movement toward the flickering asterisk could result in missing it. Humans are primed to react to objects passing through their peripheral vision—it’s what once allowed us to spot a predator or prey—but this task required participants to redirect their focus from the flicking asterisk to the letter.

    They have measured participants ability to ignore flashing lights, and perform a completely random, apparently meaningless task. Why, pray tell, should we be especially concerned with people’s ability to do this? And why, moreover, would we conflate performance on this task with a measure of “intelligence”?

    And why, oh why, would Scientific American tarnish itself with this nonsense?

      1. LifelongLib

        I read someplace that phrenology started out as a scientific attempt to relate brain structure to personality. The bumps and depressions in the skull were thought to reflect differences in the sizes of the underlying brain areas, which in turn were reflected in personality differences. This all turned out to be wrong and science moved on, but phrenology survived as a pop pseudo-science.

  26. Wukchumni

    Lake Tahoe Suffocates With Smoke New York Times (David L). A wake up call that the squillionaires that hang there are guaranteed to ignore.
    South Lake Tahoe is a monument to lack of planning, a total mish-mash of too many houses too close together amidst pine trees, calling it a mountain ghetto wouldn’t really be too far off the mark. This is what will likely burn to a crisp.

    Nobody’s gonna miss all those dive motels on Hwy 50 with threadbare towels, and where the proprietor doesn’t trust you with a tv remote, so there is a silver lining.

    Of all the locales around the lake for a squillionaire from Silicon Valley to hang their hat, it really isn’t the place. Somewhere on the west shore extending up to Incline Village (nicknamed ‘Income Village’) is more appropriate.

    1. jo6pac

      My friends who have lived there 30 years plus aren’t rich, built their own home. I truly hope they make it and I do hope nothing happens in your part of the woods.

    2. Carolinian

      I tend to associate Lake Tahoe with The Godfather Part Two. I have seen it in person–briefly. This latest disaster couldn’t happen to a nicer lake.

        1. Carolinian

          Lotta sad going around lately.

          I spend more time in Arizona where fires are of course also common albeit with fewer trees to fuel them. I’ve been close enough to one to have to drive through the smoke clouds and this is very scary even though I was in no danger. CA residents must find the current situation apocalyptic.

    1. Ian Perkins

      “some 89 eligible volunteers … were divided into two groups: 50% received ivermectin, and 50% received a placebo”
      “Nearly 72% of volunteers treated with ivermectin tested negative for the virus by day six. In contrast, only 50% of those who received the placebo tested negative.”
      “13% of ivermectin patients were infectious after six days, compared with 50% of the placebo group”
      Good news if it passes peer review and so on, but not a very large study, and hardly a magic bullet that will ‘solve’ COVID.

      1. Screwball

        Agreed, but those are not the only studies we know about.

        I am just happy to see the coverage – and in a good light instead of a hit piece.

        I think we should take all the good we can get given what has been said/written over the last week or so.

        1. rowlf

          I’m surprised the high speed FDA approval skeptics didn’t fire back with “You are not a lab rat. You are not a primate test. Seriously, y’all. Stop it.”

    1. lordkoos

      “typically used to treat parasitic infections in livestock”

      No mention of the millions of human children who have safely taken Ivermectin for parasites…

      1. marku52

        I swear there was a memo that came down from the Ministry of Propaganda that no journalist may mention “IVM” without adding “horse de wormer”

        It’s in every article now.

        1. lordkoos

          Yes, it’s been all over the place for the last 10 days or so. Twitter bots are busy promoting the meme as well.

    2. Robert Gray

      Interesting that there’s no mention in the Alternet piece that Rand Paul is himself a medical doctor, a graduate of Duke, the #3-ranked med school in the US. (He’s still a crank, of course.)

  27. Wukchumni

    ‘My Kevin’ argues that we should just keep Bagram Air Force Base open indefinitely, maybe it’d be it’s own little country like San Marino or Liechtenstein, you know Bagramistan-yeah thats the ticket.

    House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) wants the best of both worlds.

    On Friday, McCarthy told reporters that he believes there should be no U.S. troops in Afghanistan. But when Punchbowl News’ Jake Sherman asked for clarification, noting that just a few days ago McCarthy suggested there should be some sort of military presence, McCarthy flipped again and argued the U.S. should have kept its Bagram Air Base.

    1. The Rev Kev

      The place is in the middle of nowhere. They have talked about evacuating people through there after seizing it but that would require transporting people from Kabul which in an hour and a half by car. And everything from fuel, food and water would have to be flown in to keep it going. And to what point? It would amount to a trophy that would cost hundreds of millions each year to occupy and would sooner or later be vulnerable to missile attack.

  28. JTMcPhee

    Big question: is it even possible to create a sterilizing vaccine for coronavirus that would work like the measles inoculation or the vaccines for other diseases that are sterilizing?

    Or are the mopes just forced to accept that smug PMC notion that “everyone will just get it, over and over, with long COVID and all that?”

    1. Raymond Sim

      There are immunologists who predicted the current mess but are bullish about the prospects for a ‘universal’ vaccine – i.e. variant insensitive. I don’t know if it’s anticipated to be ‘sterilising’ in the sense usually used here, but that wouldn’t be absolutley necessary for a nation that has its head out of its ass to be able to acheive control.

    2. Mikel

      Maybe the nasal sprays that have been discussed as in development? Although my first impression (and just spit ballin’) is that this would mainly be effective at reducing more of the viral load upon contact with the body.

  29. The Rev Kev

    “UGA professor resigns mid-class after student refuses to wear mask”

    That 88 year-old professor got it right. He saw that that young woman had no intention of wearing her mask properly and was quite willing to risk infecting that professor for no other reason than, what, she did not believe in masks? Didn’t stop her from turning up anyway and trashing her fellow student’s plans. I wonder what is making the rounds on social media for that class of students. i bet that it would be very informative.

    1. Screwball

      The school thing drives me nuts. There is no consistency. I teach at a state college in Ohio. I also teach at a vocational school. The college is requiring masks for all students and faculty at all times on campus. The vocational school (9-12 grades) requires nothing.

      I have already told 3 students at the college to get out of the class until you find a mask. I put up the statement from the school on the board and said “you don’t have to like it, but you have to do it (wear a mask).” I didn’t sign up to be a mask cop, I signed up to teach.

      The college has plexiglass partitions in the rooms (computer lab) between stations, and I can keep the door open. The high school has smaller rooms, no plexiglass (not convinced they help anyway, but whatev…), and I am literally locked inside the room as they lock the doors during class. It is small for a classroom.

      I can only imagine what things will look like in a few weeks. IMNSHO, this entire pandemic has been handled, from start to now, about as bad as it possibly could, by just about everyone involved.

      They yanked us out of the classrooms last year on March 16 to lock us down until Memorial day, but now everything is worse and they send us back in – and in the case of the high school – with no mask. Really? Kids were dropping like flies last year in both settings. What makes them think it will be any different this year?

      I don’t get it. And I don’t know how I’m still here. Are they trying to kill us all?

      1. newcatty

        First, you have my total sympathy. The teachers in most schools actually have little to no power to speak up for sane and rational policies. The only teachers who do are usually with some senority and in the golden circle of cahoots with administrations. The virus has just, like in many other public institutions , pulled the veil further down on the failings and ruthless corruption of public education. I am truly sorry that this is the fact. Teachers have long been exploited in most public schools. The less affluent, the more likely scenario. Now, it is appearing that teachers are expendable. I am reminded of military grunts called “cannon fodder”. It follows that in many places, children are expendable too. Social class in America is alive and the divides are deepening. Home school? Private/ parochial school? Charter school? Now that the virus is actually a risk for middle-class and upper class parents ,even in affluent school districts ,the answer is to furthur abandon sinking public schools. BTW, I have empathy for parents and guardians who are pulling kids out of schools. Many are chosing their children’s health and its totally understandable.

        1. JTMcPhee

          I am not sure that the racket known as “charter schools” is doing any better at protecting the health of students and teachers. Charter schools, I think mostly, are about spreading propaganda and wealth transfer.

  30. The Rev Kev

    “Mutation rate of COVID-19 virus is at least 50 percent higher than previously thought” PhysOrg (Robert M)

    ‘I recall that up to December 2020, the science press remarked from time to time about how little Covid mutated. Funny how that changed.’

    Other beliefs that also changed was how this virus might only effect Asian people. And how maybe hot weather would dampen down this virus. And that wearing masks was dangerous. And that you could only catch it from surfaces and not from aerosols. Lots of crazy beliefs were circulating a year or more ago. Some still are.

    1. Raymond Sim

      This is another one of those areas where the best evidence was always counter to received wisdom, and from very early on too.

      Coronaviruses’ core functions have strong protection against errors during replication, this was equated to ‘slow mutating’. Actually this protection facilitates speed in adaptive evolution.

      And sure enough people who actually looked for mutations found them. As with in-school transmission, every study I’ve read that claimed to have evidence for low rates of mutation wasn’t really looking for them. It’s like that scene in Jurassic Park.

    2. Ian Perkins

      I think the 50% higher mutation rate is a sort of technicality, another way of looking at things rather than a new discovery.

      However, most mutations are harmful to the virus and reduce its chances of surviving—this is called purifying or negative selection. These negative mutations don’t survive in the patient long enough to be sequenced and so are missing from calculations of the mutation rate.
      Allowing for these missing mutations, the team estimates that the true mutation rate of the virus is at least 50% higher than previously thought.

      In other words, if I understand it correctly, the 50% extra mutations are effectively duds, and don’t go on to spread and proliferate, which isn’t really news. The science press was well aware of mutations from very early on, but watching for those that gave the virus new abilities, which they didn’t see for quite a while. The other points you mention were also not common beliefs among scientists, though the ‘not aerosols’ angle managed to wangle its way into advice from the WHO and so on, and still hasn’t really gone away.

      1. Raymond Sim

        “The science press was well aware of mutations from very early on, but watching for those that gave the virus new abilities, which they didn’t see for quite a while. “

        Rapid mutation is rapid mutation, and it’s what drives rapid adaptive evolution. The clearly evident potential for rapid adaptive evolution was widely dismissed, by people who should have known better, precisely because the ‘duds’ weren’t appearing in our truly terrible surveillance. This was hubris.

        Especially when you consider the virus’s conservation of vital traits. It has anti-dud measures in place.

  31. Mikel

    “Single-use plastic plates and cutlery to be banned in England”

    Regulation may be the mother of invention. Maybe there will be a need now for portable dishwashers.

    1. Michael

      We reviewed the offerings here in San Diego for my grand daughters elementary school.

      The only thing green in the photos was the parsley next to the hamburger! So awful!

      My wife spent an hour or two with them making a list of things and sizes they would eat and be healthy.
      Bento box style…update from lunch pail. Rotating menu with occasional surprises. Not that hard!

  32. Mikel

    GM Doc: Now we are in the “infections is good for you” phase. Where some people wanted us to be from the beginning…

    “Covid infection protection waning in double jabbed” BBC. Sorry to be rely on GM so much today, but the propaganda is coming in awfully thick…(and quotes that follow)…

    In regards to this, because I may now have to travel at a moments notice and did so at least once this summer, I took the 1 shot J&J about six weeks ago. Still wore and wear my mask. Outside of that, not much worry about having to go to any other indoor or office setting until 2022. Settings where I would have to be around crowds for a length of time, out of my control.
    My understanding from J&J reports was that I had about 8 months until I had to consider what the status was on virus, its spread, and the mutations before considering any next steps.

    I waited six weeks to mention it because that is the period within some of the publicized complications would develop. And I have to admit all I know about is some of the publicized complications. So far so good, but I’m not trying to play odds of shot after shot after shot within less than a year. And they don’t know what mutation is around the corner and this current one seems to be hitting populations that were unaffected earlier on.

    They still have more science to do.

    1. Mikel

      Oh, and I drove halfway across the country and back when I had to travel. I wasn’t taking chances on hours in any inclosed space with crowds when I was going to visit family with members with a host of health issues.
      For hotel stay: picked one with private balconies with that door open most of the time and me mostly out on it unless sleeping.

  33. allan

    More tales from the Abbottoir:

    Contact tracing takes a back seat during latest COVID surge [AP]

    Health investigators across the U.S. are finding it nearly impossible to keep up with the deluge of new COVID-19 infections and carry out contact tracing efforts that were once seen as a pillar of the nation’s pandemic response. …

    Some states trimmed their contact tracing teams this spring and summer when virus numbers were dropping and are now scrambling to train new investigators. …

    Texas got out of the business entirely, with the new two-year state budget that takes effect Sept. 1 explicitly prohibiting funds being used for contact tracing. That left it up to local health officials, but they can’t keep up at a time when Texas is averaging more than 16,000 new cases a day. …

    1. Daryl

      What I haven’t seen is anyone addressing the extreme defeatism on display since the beginning of the pandemic, evident in the “we have to learn to live with it” thinking. The same country that nearly eliminated polio worldwide and put a man on the moon, all with less computing power than a graphing calculator, giving up from the get go and relying on pharma vaccines as the only possible way out.

      1. Basil Pesto

        the way I’ve started thinking of it lately, is how interesting it is that the scions of the “greatest generation”, fed a steady diet of bland Churchill hagiographies for decades now, have shown themselves to be squeamish cowards when the time has come for real crisis leadership.

        1. Henry Moon Pie

          That “greatest generation” was Brokaw’s hyperbole. Yes, many were drafted and fought, some died or were wounded, but when they got back home, a lot of them moved to the new suburbs and began living the “American Dream” with plenty of comfort and convenience and plastic, lots of plastic. I think Mike Nichols read many of them quite well:

          Benjamin’s Birthday


          Mrs. Robinson

          1. griffen

            Just to counter your point about hyperbole. My grandfather survived Iwo and Okinawa as a Navy man, retiring after 30 years and became a pharmacist. Dirt poor eastern TN family, oldest of 10.

            For the proper context, I never served nor did I have to.

      2. JBird4049

        Anytime before the first two decades of the 20th century, the Western world, including the United States was just full of infectious, often deadly, frequently crippling diseases. Here is a partial list and these diseases were endemic in the United States including malaria.

        Chicken pox
        Scarlet Fever
        Typhoid Fever
        Whooping Cough

        They were all dealt with one by one during about century of effort. Aside from smallpox, all of them are still around with only constant work keeping them away, but this has and is still being done, which is why I know that Covid is solvable.
        It might take much time, effort, money, a lack of corruption, but our ancestors with much less knowledge and resources did succeed with these far greater threats. Alll levels of government, municipal, state, and federal for more than a century did the work. Somehow, today, the mighty CDC, the agency responsible for much, though not all, of this is a joke.

        All this death also explains the gloom, despair, and general sadness I often see when reading the history (and poetry) of the time of all classes regardless of wealth. Reading any accurate biographies of Abraham Lincoln just plops you into that gloom, doom, and despair, which is easily explain by the deaths both Mr and Mrs Lincoln had to endure. Everybody lost children, sometimes the majority. People often had so many children, not because they wanted to, but because it was often the only way to have any survivors.

        1. IM Doc

          I would add Yellow Fever to this list as well. Big problem especially in the Pennsylvania area during the Revolutionary Era.

          A physician named Benjamin Rush was a lynchpin in its eradication. And he is well remembered as a hero for this among many other things.

          Somehow, a few centuries from now, I do not believe the name Anthony Fauci will be held in the same regard.

          1. Arizona Slim

            To the west of Philadelphia is a huge swampland. The airport was built on it, and the John Heinz National Wildlife Reserve is also part of it.

            ISTR reading that the swampland used to be a lot bigger. I do know that when I was growing up, oh, about five miles away, mosquitoes were a huge problem. The township sent spray trucks around in a vain hope of eradicating the mosquitoes.

            We kids hated those trucks, we called them the Stink Trucks, and we threw rocks at them.

        2. The Rev Kev

          I’d add Hookworms to that list as well as it was once endemic to large parts of the population.

            1. The Rev Kev

              From what I heard, there were getting on top of it like measles and all the other diseases. Then as neoliberalism came in, they started slacking off and now we are seeing all the old diseases start coming back like typhoid, tuberculosis, etc.-


              Unless stuff like this hits where people like Trump, Pelosi and McConnell live then it is just ignored.

      3. Ignacio

        This is simplistic. Dealing with Polio, which has epidemiological characteristics all too different from CoVs is quite a different challenge. If you could bring an example on how successfully flu was eradicated I would agree with your statements.

        1. JBird4049

          I understand that Covid is different. That individual diseases require different solutions, but over twenty different diseases were effectively eliminated in roughly a century nationwide; different treatments required for each. Even influenza is usually much less deadly and is treatable today.

          The country started with much less resources and knowledge. The theory of miasma, not germs, as the major case of diseases was still dominant when the efforts began. However, by the 1960s it was mostly done.

          Today, we a single disease that has only been around for maybe two years that we are giving up on curing, preventing, or just dealing with. It is like a mental illness of our society today, believing that we cannot do what we used to do with the change happening, ostensibly, within a single lifespan.

  34. Carolinian

    Re Stoller/McKinsey

    To that end, let’s look at a review of War Machine in Foreign Policy magazine, written by one of McChrystal’s aides, Whitney Kassel, who now works at private intelligence firm The Arkin Group. In this review, Kassel noted the movie made her so upset that she started cursing, because, while there were of course mistakes, the film was totally unfair to McChrystal and demeaned the entire mission of building a safe Afghanistan. Kassel, like most of these elites, didn’t get the joke, because she is the joke.

    But none of this is new. Meet the Ford Motor guy who ran Vietnam

    McNamara was responsible for the institution of systems analysis in public policy, which developed into the discipline known today as policy analysis.

    When it comes to satire versus war profiteering “systems analysis” is evergreen as a PR flimflam. Dubious that Brad Pitt’s Netflix movie earned him any brownie points in Pentagon Annex Hollywood. But then maybe he’s not angling for a part in the next Marvel action porn. Pitt in War Machine plays it broad–like a cartoon. His movie from several years ago was truly back to the future.

    1. skippy

      Von Newman and Nash [pre diagnosis whom retracted post] belong with McNamara, well and truly ensconced in mainstream orthodox economics these days e.g. the war never ended.

    2. LifelongLib

      IIRC when he was at Ford, McNamara blocked a lot of car development. The engineers would request money for new designs, and he’d pull out some study showing the company would make more profit by just putting bigger fins on the cars they already had. One of the people responsible for the decline of the U.S. automotive industry.

  35. Raymond Sim

    Regarding the Israeli study on natural immunity, in my quick read of it I didn’t spot how they characterized a ‘verified SARS-CoV-2’ infection. It could make a big difference. As, of course, would survivorship bias.

    I’m going to go out on a limb and say that, contra GM, I think the result does make sense, or at least does not starkly contradict the rest of the evidence available to us, if the cohort of previously infected were people who had at some point demonstrated high serum levels of neutralizing antibodies.

    And I would add, as a guess mind you, that the longer the time elapsed post recovery, the more likely such results are. But the longer the pandemic goes on, the more likely the virus is to render these gains moot. One more reason to shut this thing down now.

    To those of you getting excited about was this might mean for the benefits of naturally acquired immunity: There’s a whole pharmaceutical ad’s worth of caveats about hidden pitfalls, high probability modes of failure etc. The side effects list is a nightmare.

  36. Raymond Sim

    The antidote with the Goldens reminded me of our three, now departed and dearly missed Golden x Australian Shepherd brothers. We live on a busy street, so I taught them to go inside and close the door behind them on a verbal command. They would usually wait a moment peering out to make sure I was dead-set on having the door closed. Whoever closed it, one of the brothers, who was a stickler about doing things right, would always give it an extra hit to make sure it latched.

  37. Wukchumni

    These female hummingbirds don flashy male feathers to avoid unwanted harassment Popular Science (resilc)

    Does that make em’ drag kings?

  38. Raymond Sim

    Re: Covid infection protection waning in double jabbed BBC.

    The pro-virus propaganda in the UK has consistently been more like that from Sweden than most of the stuff here, in that they tend to stick to their guns and just lie harder, not so much tacking and wearing.

    They seem determined not to be denied a good heartening die-off among the lower orders.

    1. Mikel

      It seems there is no escaping lingering dogmas and beliefs, especially from the 19th Century.
      They will be getting into the gritty trying to justify and quantify how many children can be (and to whatever degree) sacrificed.
      It’s all pushing on a string – testing the tolerance for mass death.

      1. saywhat?

        To be fair, quite a few here have argued for a greatly reduced world population without specifying the means.

        Be careful what you wish for?

        1. Mikel

          It’s kind of like how much stuff are people willing to give up vs how many people are people willing to give up in a lot of those arguments – that usually occur around the topic of global warming.

        2. tegnost

          To be fair, quite a few here have argued for a greatly reduced world population

          To be fair, you should specify “who” and “when”
          Doesn’t sound familiar to me.

          1. Basil Pesto

            I think people have argued (and I’m inclined to agree, I mean it seems straightforwardly indisputable) that the enormous growth in the human population is going to contribute to AGW. Believing this is of course quite different from believing that the world population needs to be “greatly reduced” in a, ahem, pro-active
            manner. Belief in this proposition is sometimes straw-manned as “well, you must be a genocidaire” or “well, don’t you hate dark-skinned people in the ~Global South~ reproducing” or whatever, which obviously does not follow.

            It seems a moot point anyway, because if the worst predicted consequences of AGW come to pass, then ecosystem collapse will greatly reduce the human population anyway.

  39. Adam Eran

    The review of Levy’s book about capitalism does not mention one thing I took away from reading it: Before the ’80s, manufacturers made 20% of their profits from investments (stocks, bonds, etc.). After 1980, that figure was 60%.

    If anyone wonders how to express the transformation wrought by the Reagan administration, I’d suggest turning to finance rather than productive activities would be near the top of the list.

  40. Mikel

    Re: Wisconsin School District/School Lunches.

    “Hey, everybody. Let’s make sure the least priviliged don’t get any extra nutrition at school during a pandemic. We need to force them to come back because it’s good for their development.”

    There is not a damn thing a district like that can teach anybody and I’d be fearful of anything “developed” out of it.

  41. Mikel

    “How the work ethic became a substitute for good jobs” aeon

    The comments on this article in Aeon are well-worth a read.

    I’ll just add that I’ve also experienced this:
    The harder I work, the more someone else takes credit.

  42. Tom Collins' Moscow Mule

    “Powell’s benign view on inflation is getting pushback at the Fed, and elsewhere”–CNBC

    Inscrutability for any aspiring central bank financial conjurer and master of the ‘doublethink’ universe means that, “When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”

    “The concept of transitory is really this: It is that the increases will happen,” Powell said. “We’re not saying they will reverse. That’s not what transitory means […] what I mean by transitory is just something that doesn’t leave a permanent mark on the inflation process. Again, we don’t mean…producers are going to take those price increases back. That’s not the idea. It’s just that they won’t go on indefinitely.”

    Or, “What ordinary people know and economists too often forget is that while inflationary spikes may come and go, higher prices are forever. This spring’s inflation surge will lead to a permanently higher baseline. A lower inflation rate in the future will only moderate future increases from that new, higher base. The one thing that almost certainly will not happen is that prices will fall substantially to undo some of this allegedly “transitory” inflation.”

  43. a fax machine

    re: Tahoe

    Trying to stay optimistic (emphasis on “try”) I hope at a bare minimum the local residents – both rural Republicans who deny being Sacramento’s suburb and the new cosmopolitan clique who deny that rural people matter – can agree on land use and transportation policies that stop the constant piss fighting over abortion clinics/contraception sales, firearm use/sales, and suburban housing.

    Highway 50 especially has a derelict rail corridor that could be easily rebuilt for regional passenger and freight service, similar to what is now in Sonoma County to the west. Such a thing would allow for new development around stations while keeping enough open space for shooting sports. Freight rail service would make many of the abandoned mines economically viable, especially the abandoned limestone pits while passenger service would serve all the existing ski lodges and tourism. Electrified rail service (plausible, in my view) would allow for modern power lines allowing for modernized industries and, more importantly, broadband internet which most of the region lacks.

    All of this would generate more tax money which could be used to finance an effective fire prevention corps (controlled burns, fire break construction, brush clearing, etc) and an effective, *paid* fire fighting force that can respond more quickly. Existing truckers would not be threatened by competition by interstate carriers (practically locked out due to existing vehicle length limits) while the existing machinists and metalworkers would be able to travel to Sacramento for better work. Everyone could share their knowledge and make the region better.

    Or, we can continue down the present trajectory where condos sprawl out as roads are turned into expressways and as rural communities devolve into trailer parks and “other” places for those exiled from the new society. Inevitably, such a system can only create chaos. Such examples already exist across the north valley, and counterexamples exist in Sonoma Co and what is now the Tri-Valley.

  44. zagonostra

    >Mask schizophrenia

    I just flew down to SE FLL from rural Central PA. I went into a local Publix, everybody was masked up. I went to Target, 60% of the people masked up. I went to a Shopping Center about 50% masked up, Food court yards filled with people with masks pulled down while stuffing their faces with Aunty Auntie Anne’s pretzels or ice cream while people without masks strolled by. I went to the beach about about 1% of people on boardwalk with masks. So strange to see an 8 or 9 year old with a mask on at the beach…nothing makes sense.

  45. The Rev Kev

    “Starbucks at Shenzhen Airport in China.”

    If this is the sort of precautions that they are taking at an airport cafe, can you imagine how seriously they are taking it at quarantine station? China once again showing how it is supposed to be done.

    1. Jason Boxman

      It’s interesting that faced with the same pandemic, the Chinese leadership concluded that letting it ride would be catastrophic and acted accordingly. But their political system faces different pressures than that of the United States and western countries, so maybe it could be no other way?

      1. albrt

        “their political system faces different pressures than that of the United States”

        This seems likely. From a distance, it appears the Chinese people collectively are somewhat realistic about what it will take for large numbers of people to continue consuming on the present scale or greater.

        From close up, it appears that the American people collectively are sub-bovine in their inability to imagine that they can’t continue to do whatever they want for as long as they want.

  46. Tom Stone

    In regard to Gary Webb, I heard him speak in East Oakland and the Q&A period was informative.
    His take was that the crack epidemic ( I watched it destroy a generation) was not deliberate, it was merely a side benefit of funding the Contra’s.
    And it was seen as a benefit by the Reagan Administration.
    His suicide was accomplished by shooting himself in the head, twice.
    This does happen from time to time with small caliber weapons, but it is not common.
    I have killed (And eaten) quite a bit of small game over the decades and have seen one animal hit cleanly in the head go into spectacular convulsions that lasted a full minute.
    In more than half a century of hunting.

  47. The Rev Kev

    “Leon Panetta says US troops will need to return to combat in Afghanistan”

    Forget Donald Trump’s tax returns, I want to see Leon Panetta’s stock portfolio when he says stupid things like this.

  48. Jason Boxman

    I wonder if HBO will do a mini-series on Fukushima as it did in 2019 on Chernobyl? I did finally watch it, as it was recommended here, and it’s certainly terrifying that such a small amount of material, in the wrong configuration, can threaten a huge portion of the planet. As it became clear what had happened, I wonder how terrifying it was to contemporaries? The mini-series only touches briefly on the world reaction; west Germans were keeping their children inside. With Fukushima more recently, there was a run on iodine tablets.

    1. The Rev Kev

      It will never be allowed to be made as financing for it will always evaporate. Some subjects are taboo and Hollywood knows that. So for example you will never see a film about the 1920 bombing of Wall Street or some of the biggest historical strikes in the US.

    2. Carolinian

      There was a great deal of fictionalization in that HBO show including made up characters and a rearranging of incidents.One more than suspects that the motives for its creation had more to do with bashing the Evil Empire than to serve as a cautionary tale about nuclear power.

    1. Ignacio

      A good thing about Novavax is that the reactogenicity, the unsolicited adverse effects, seem to be much less frequent and less severe compared with mRNA vaccines or virus vector vaccines. There is of course some reactogenicity associated with the immune response as seen mostly associated with the presence of the adjuvant, not the spike protein itself. Whether, we will end administering further vaccine doses or not it is good to have this candidate in the basket. Indeed you can already find news saying that Novavax jab ‘desirable’ for future booster campaign basically on the safety profile of this vaccine. Early in August Novavax released notes on the effects of boosting with Novavax on antibody levels including cross reactive antibodies that could be active against the delta variant. As a booster, the adverse effects remain relatively mild. For what I have read Novavax is to release more complete data on vaccine safety and efficacy as soon as in September.

  49. Ignacio

    RE: Mutation rate of COVID-19 virus is at least 50 percent higher than previously thought PhysOrg (Robert M) I recall that up to December 2020, the science press remarked from time to time about how little Covid mutated. Funny how that changed.

    This is a case of complete misread of a scientific paper by PhysOrg with a headline that misleads the reader about the real content inside. The cited article is quite a basic research job that argues on the actual rates of virus mutations that are being seen (sequenced) during the epidemic and how to calculate the real or underlying mutation rates inside infected cells. Nothing on it is surprising or suggests that mutation rates in SARS CoV2 are “higher than previously thought” as the headline suggests.

    From the paper:

    Significance statement: In SARS-CoV-2 we find evidence for common intra-host purifying selection against nonsense, missense and synonymous mutations, such that the true underlying mutation rate is about 50% higher than would be estimated if one assumes that the mutation rate is the rate of appearance of mutations in the circulating population. This has implications for methods to determine mutation rates, for determining times to common ancestry and the potential for vaccine escape.

    Research results can be more or less significant, accurate, enlightening, interesting, (add more adjectives of choice) but taking those results and misinterpreting them for the public in general is a damning job. The public in general is not ready to determine the significance, relevance, even the meaning of the results explained in this particular paper (I would need several paragraphs to write an explanation that could be understood and you would find it boring). My bottom line would be “move along, nothing to see here”. Only scientists in the field will enjoy the meat on it.

  50. Ignacio

    RE: Covid-19 origins still murky after Biden administration’s 90-day investigation Politico

    How proper to find this in an outlet named ‘POLITICO’. All in all the discussion on SARS CoV 2 hypotheses has so far been 100% political with little to do with science. All that ‘gain of function’ BS etcetera. I interpret it is still ‘politically murky’ so nothing prevents that new attempts to give life to the lab-leak theory and/or GoF theories can come back again and again if it suits the political wills that matter. I am just wondering what ‘evidences’ will be found by intelligence services to make it sexy and avoid simple repetition of the same. Satellite images? Insider whistleblowing?

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