Links 8/6/2021

With drones and bananas, China coaxes wayward elephants home ENCA

Squirrels Use Gymnastics to Navigate Treetop Canopies Scientific American

Macaques at Japan reserve get first alpha female in 70-year history Guardian

Observation-based early-warning signals for a collapse of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation Nature. Abstract only (for [family blog] sake). Press release. Science Alert. See post here.

How the Northern Sea Route will change the world’s major traffic flows Nikkei Asian Review. Mobile-friendly, and takes forever to load. That said, it’s a very good visualization and worth the wait.

How the Fed’s digital currency could displace crypto Gillian Tett, FT

Are households indifferent to monetary policy announcements? (PDF) Bank of International Settlements. Yellow card for the Betteridge’s Law violation.


The Origins of Covid 19 (PDF) House Foreign Affairs Committee Report Minority Staff. The Biden Administration/’s 90-day review on this topic is due on August 24. If this story turns into Benghazi/RussiaGate/2020 election theft, that would be bad.

Zero possibility! Legal experts involved in the safety certification of the Wuhan virus laboratory refute the “laboratory leak theory” What China Reads. Not sure “lawyer” is right, but interesting nonetheless.

* * *

How COVID-19 vaccine supply chains emerged in the midst of a pandemic (PDF) Petersen Institute for International Economics. Horrid source, interesting work. Here’s a useful chart:

Not exactly the Manhattan Project; perhaps that is the scale on which Xi (see below) proposes to work.

* * *

A vaccine-only strategy won’t prevent a fourth wave of COVID-19 Toronto Globe and Mail

Subcutaneous REGEN-COV Antibody Combination to Prevent Covid-19 NEJM. From the Discussion: “This trial showed that, throughout the 28-day observation period, the achieved concentrations of a single subcutaneous dose of REGEN-COV prevented symptomatic infection; thus, REGEN-COV has potential use as long-term prophylaxis in persons at risk for SARS-CoV-2 infection. Over the same period, the incidence of asymptomatic infection was also lower among participants who received REGEN-COV than among those who received placebo.” CIDRAP summary. The treatment is expensive. Still, good to see advances that are not vaccine-related.

* * *

Covid-19 Breakthrough Infections in Vaccinated Health Care Workers NEJM. From the Discussion: “In this study, we characterized all Covid-19 breakthrough infections among 39 fully vaccinated health care workers during the 4-month period after the second vaccine dose and compared the peri-infection humoral response in these workers with the response in matched controls. We found a low rate of breakthrough infection (0.4%). Among the 39 workers who tested positive for Covid-19, most had few symptoms, yet 19% had long Covid-19 symptoms (>6 weeks).”

* * *

What’s the Difference Between KN95 and KF94 Masks? and What’s the Best Way to Store and Protect My COVID Vaccine Card? The Strategist

TTC disinfects its buses frequently to fight COVID-19. But the agency’s own data shows the cleaning might be making things worse Toronto Star

California orders health care workers to be vaccinated against COVID by Sept. 30 KTLA. FDA be damned.


Xi says China aims to provide 2 bln COVID-19 vaccine doses to world in 2021 -CCTV Retuers

Why it might be good for China if foreign investors are wary Michael Pettis, FT

Biden offers Hong Kong residents in US temporary safe haven Channel News Asia

Explainer: What is China’s “campaign-style” carbon reduction China Reuters


Entirely by coincidence, several Myanmar articles simultaneously appear in the mainstream press:

The Diplomats Without a Country The Atlantic

Myanmar’s Military Has Weaponized COVID-19. In My Village, We Did Everything We Could to Save Ourselves Time

Myanmar Opposition Leader: We Need More Help From Biden to Defeat the Military Junta David Corn, Mother Jones. Madness. We have form. We’ll [family blog] it up.

* * *

U.S. State Dept. No.2 Sherman speaks with Myanmar shadow government Reuters

Vietnam emerges as Southeast Asia’s next fintech battleground Nikkei Asian Review

Vietnamese manufacturer puts nasal spray, injection vaccine against COVID-19 into final clinical trial Tuoi Tre News


‘Stealth investment’: Chinese money finds its way into Indian tech as IPOs boom South China Morning Post


Searching for the Next War: What Happens When Contractors Leave Afghanistan? The Diplomat

Hundreds of Colombian mercenaries to fight for Saudi-led coalition in Yemen Middle East Eye

Ramaphosa shows his hand as cabinet changes consolidate his power Times Live


Lord Bethell’s new phone Good Law Project

The Caribbean

Haiti: On Interventions and Occupations Black Agenda Report

Haiti requests U.N. commission to probe president’s killing Reuters

Russia and Venezuela to Implement Energy Security Joint Projects Venezuelanalysis

New Cold War

The Right Way to Split China and Russia Foreign Affairs

Splitting Russia and China Irrussianality

Global Times Interview With Board Member of Russia’s Valdai Discussion Club: US And Its Allies Are The Past; Russia and China Are The Future Understanding Russia

Biden Administration

CBO says bipartisan infrastructure bill would add $256B to deficit over 10 years The Hill. Pocket change.

Business Groups Call on Biden to Restart Trade Talks With China WSJ

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Apophenia Edward Snowden, Continuing Ed

L’Affaire Joffrey Epstein

Bill Gates calls divorce ‘a sad milestone,’ friendship with Jeffrey Epstein a ‘huge mistake’ NBC. So how’s that divorce going, Bill? Good try:

But I don’t think it worked. On another note, I assume people like Epstein, Gates, et al. would be whitelisted by Apple’s scanning software. Or, better, they’d be sold some sort of Platinum Service that avoided scanning, like precheck in airport security queues. After all, under neoliberalism, what is more easily purchased than trust?

Imperial Collapse Watch

After Just 11 Years in Service, USS Independence Is Taking an Early Retirement Popular Mechanics. “There seems to be something wrong with our bloody ships today.”

Sailor Charged with Starting the Fire Aboard the Bonhomme Richard Maritime Executive. Sold for scrap at $3.66 million. I don’t know what the replacement cost is, but you’ll have to move the decimal point.

Guillotine Watch

Why Covid-19’s second pandemic summer is hitting differently MSNBC. “The feeling that normality has slipped through our fingers — again — is overwhelming.” You’d think MSNBC would have burned a hole in their belly, they gaze at their navels so hard.

Class Warfare

Richard Trumka’s legacy will be the AFL-CIO’s future Strike Wave

Taming The Greedocracy Current Afffairs

‘Homesickness for a place you haven’t left’: A conversation with Stephanie Soileau Southerly

Antidote du jour (via):

Bonus antidote (DK):

DK writes: “This is my neighbor’s yard, which appears to now be a fox sanctuary and breeding ground. There were a pair of foxes playing in my backyard, but by the time I got my camera, figured out that I was taking pictures of myself, turned the camera around, the second fox had disappeared….”

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. zagonostra

    >Zero possibility! Legal experts involved in the safety certification of the Wuhan virus laboratory refute the “laboratory leak theory”

    So you have “legal experts” on one side and “Intelligence officers” on the other side (see below). I also find it interesting that most all of the articles point to the “French” as funding the building of the Wuhan Lab and always avoid being more specific in stating that the largest vaccine producer in the world, Sanofi ponied up most of the money.

    The U.S. federal government should have stopped funding research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in 2015 when China reduced its cooperation with the French in building and operating the lab…

    1. Michael Ismoe

      The U.S. federal government should have stopped funding research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in 2015

      Another plume in Fauci’s cap. No wonder no one in DC ever retires. Screwing up is almost a requirement for your next promotion.

    2. PlutoniumKun

      China has been doing this for decades – embarking on joint projects and then kicking out the ‘partner’ once they’ve extracted all the information they want. A company I worked for experienced this the hard way in the early 1990’s while building the Shanghai subway. The French are usually quite canny about this (not least because they are very good at that game themselves).

      The notion that there is zero possibility of a leak is of course itself an impossibility. No such system is 100% and there is a long history of viral escapes from high security labs.

      To link two of the links today, including Edward Snowden one you discuss below, I’ve been trying not to get too interested in the Congressional report, as it pretty much states what I’ve believed for a long time is the most likely scenario – that the virus is natural or ‘semi’ natural, but that it was released accidentally sometime in the second half of 2019. The Military Games link is very interesting – the Chinese themselves made a big fuss over this back when they were insisting that it must have entered China from the US via the US contingent. But it does make sense that it could have been the original spreading event if it turns out that Covid really was in Italy and Brazil as early as November 2019 or even earlier.

      There is no proof of course and I doubt if we will ever fine proof, so I have to recognise my own bias in reading that report. I’ve recently taken to trying to be more critical of my own priors – trying, as Snowden suggests, to be more critical of everything I read. Which is, of course, much easier said than done.

      1. MonkeyBusiness

        They have been following the Japanese playbook to a T. Japan is also known for inviting foreign experts and sending them home afterwards.

    3. Soredemos

      On balance I still think it’s most likely that Covid-19 emerged naturally. But that it escaped from a lab remains a distinct possibility.

      It’s amazing how in just a few months we’ve gone from the media gaslighting everyone that thinking it might be from a lab was just a crazy Trumper conspiracy theory to admitting that it’s a serious thing worth discussing. And then they lament that no one trusts them ore listen to ‘experts’.

      Regardless of its origin, the ‘gain of function’ research needs to stop immediately. How is this anything other than bioweapons development under a different name?

      1. newcatty

        Origins can, and have, mattered in the not so distant past, Obstetrics: Early 18th Century

        Puerperal, ” Childbirth Fever”, was a mystery, but doctor’s and hospitals made it worse.

        Oliver Wendell Holmes led the American campaign to stop the spread of disease by getting doctor’s to wash their hands. Aided by Louis Pasteur’s advocacy of germ theory. Hygiene improved. Giving birth began to get safer.
        Druin Burch, January 10, 2009 Live Science

        1. Late Introvert

          Well, Skynet blocked a post I made wondering about gain of function research way back in the spring of 2020 on this very site. It hurt my feelings at the time, as it was just a question. Since then I’ve learned it’s a real thing, but that it’s not too likely this particular virus came from there. History and nature are still more likely suspects.

          We should still be shutting that shite down, though.

  2. Henry Moon Pie

    Gulf Stream woes–

    Dennis Quaid is getting a bit long in the tooth to lead a rescue mission to Manhattan. If those of us who live north of Atlanta don’t want to be buried under a mile of ice, we’d better start thinking about degrowth–and now.

    Tim Jackson, an economist, has been writing about the end of growth and the need to shrink for decades. I linked tp a review of his latest book, Post-Growth: Life After Capitalism, a few days ago, but I’d like to link to a different review today because of its different emphasis.

    Jackson takes on a myth that we all find comforting: that the prosperity of the 60s was primarily the result of a New Deal hangover and policies that favored labor unions, wealth redistribution and generous government services. Closer to the truth is that the post WW II prosperity was fueled by the copious and ruinous burning of then-cheap fossil fuels:

    Capitalism, to get the other word in the subtitle out of the way, bumps into another problem: the limits of what planet Earth can take, what the Club of Rome already called “the limits to growth” back in 1972. It relies on growth and, to keep the wheel turning, on constant expansion into new territories, commodifying whatever lies in its path. Jackson trails, with a pinch of scepticism, Rosa Luxemburg’s critique of Karl Marx here. Capitalism’s claim to social progress depends on high growth rates to finance the redistribution of wealth. The wheel must turn ever faster. However, as Jackson writes, “the peak growth rates of the 1960s were only possible at all on the back of a huge and deeply destructive exploitation of dirty fossil fuels, something that can be ill afforded […] in the era of dangerous climate change”. Hence the dilemma: growth either stops fulfilling its meagre promise of prosperity for all, or it destroys the planet. Or both.

    Comforting myths have to go. Among those is the “middle class lifestyle.” What lies before us is how deeply can we cut our “needs” so that others can simply survive? As we were seeing daily with the breakdown in carbon footprint by class, it’s the “middle class” that’s the problem along with the 1%. We don’t need to expand the middle class. We need to eliminate it along with the Bernays-sauce-produced compulsions for McMansions, SUVs and Applebee’s. We need to find reasons to live other than trips to Tuscany, 5G and cheap fashion. We need to quit believing that our fake Facebook lives, with never-ending consumption of goods and “experiences,” are leading us anywhere but destruction.

    1. .human

      Who is this “we” you exhort? Are these your own resolutions?

      The “middle class” needs to be expanded and abolished to the dustbin of history. Goverment policy should be to raise the lower classes and destroy any upper classes. If all are in the same boat perhaps outcomes would be different.

      Chinese policy is along these lines.

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        “We” is “us,” including me. My giving up a “middle class lifestyle” was not voluntary, though it was the result of a long series of voluntary choices, some of which had to do with resistance to this system. I live now on $700 SS (plus the Trump and Biden bonuses) and have for the past five years, and that’s a pretty good indicator of the level of my contribution to the problem. It’s not a resolution. It’s just a reality.

        The crazy thing is my contentment level is as high or higher than it ever was back in my days as a “happy idiot.” I’ve learned that contentment (not “happiness”!) has a more or less inverse relationship with consumption as long as I have a safe, dry place to sleep, enough food and an Internet connection to read NC. I still have a vehicle, but I use it very sparingly (less than 2,000 mi/hr) primarily to haul organic material to use for restoring the soil around the house.

        Can people who still have the financial means for the middle class lifestyle give it up voluntarily? Beyond my finger-wagging, a better message might be, “Come on in. It’s better living than you might think.”

        1. Mildred Montana

          @Henry Moon Pie

          “I still have a vehicle, but I use it very sparingly (less than 2,000 mi/hr)…”

          I know it’s only a typo, but I couldn’t resist: Slow down, Henry! Safer, fewer tickets, and better fuel economy. ;)

          But anyway, thanks for the laugh.

        2. Oh

          People confuse their needs with their wants. I agree that the less material things you have (and crave), the happier you’ll be.

      2. lordkoos

        Chinese policy is most definitely not along those lines. China has allowed some to become extremely wealthy while there is still a huge amount of poverty in the country. If anything, there is more inequality now than 25 years ago.

    2. Carolinian

      I’m reading a book about the 1960s US auto industry. It says there was a conscious push among economists to turn the American public away from a Protestant “buy what you need” mentality to a consumer society that would keep the factories humming. This was also part of the (imagined?) existential struggle against the Soviets.

      So yes we’ve rationalized ourselves into this manic over consumption. But the book also mentions that the US population at the time was 190 million and now it’s 330 million so there’s a different growth at play and one that arguably is more at the root. If world population had remained what it was then environmental catastrophe would be much further away.

      Without a doubt Americans need to take a hard look at their mania for “stuff” but the days when this country was consuming half the world’s resources are gone.

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        “Without a doubt Americans need to take a hard look at their mania for “stuff” but the days when this country was consuming half the world’s resources are gone.”

        Very true, thanks to our spreading our sickness around the world through movies, music and the Madmen. That makes the problem even more challenging.

        As to the contribution of population, there’s no doubt about that either, but what can we change quickly at this point? The consumption levels of the world’s “middle class” are the one possibility that doesn’t require lots of dead people by horrifying means.

      2. Aimless One

        I remember being about a 3rd grader in about 1967 & seeing that, while my parents had the saving & scrimping ethos, the popular culture was all consume consume consume. There was a Monkees song, Pleasant Valley Sunday, with lyrics “here in status symbol land” & I knew it was mocking the suburban world of the young adults around me. My parents were a bit older & formed by the depression & WWIII.

        1. jonboinAR

          We didn’t even have TV until about ’68. We did have a combined TV and record player console, huge thing, the console, with a tiny TV screen in the middle. We only played the record player. The TV didn’t work. I recall begging for a working TV, but my parents didn’t really believe in TV. They said it was a big distraction from reading. Oddly wise, they were. I did develop a love of reading and don’t know if that would have happened as effectively if I could have been watching Lost in Space every evening. Anyhow, a friend of my dad’s came by and was appalled that we couldn’t veg properly. He opened up the back of the TV, took some tubes out, had them tested, a certain one replaced. Bingo! We had TV. I must have observed him carefully. From that day on, when the vertical hold would start to fail again, I’d open up the back of the TV, take a certain tube or 2 out, get on my bike, ride down to the Sprouse Ritze (sp?) dime store, get them tested, and if necessary, replace them. Wasn’t going without the boob tube any more! But yes, my parents too had that Great Depression wisdom. It served them well. What will we do?

    3. cnchal

      > . . . What lies before us is how deeply can we cut our “needs” so that others can simply survive?

      Needs isn’t the problem. Wants is and those that voluntarily decrease their wants lose out to those that don’t unless a huge percentage of the population decides to lie down at the same time. A lot of wobbly debt is based on selling and buying wants, if those wants become money no good, watch out below.

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        “those that voluntarily decrease their wants lose out to those that don’t”

        I don’t understand why this is true. Please explain.

    4. lance ringquist

      the current affairs article was a propaganda fluff piece. it throws the burden onto the deplorable, whilst ignoring the huge contribution to climate change from free trade, not one peep about one of the largest super chargers to climate change.

      if the biden administration aims to make everything more expensive to people who have had there standard of living pulled out from underneath them by bill clintons disastrous policies. the next trump might well be the real deal.

      1. Carolinian

        No it doesn’t. The theme of the article is that the rich are the problem because they are also the ones running society for their own benefit. Of course lots of the “deplorables” are rich–car dealers and such–even if Hillary thought of them as living in tar paper shacks.

        In fact the modified Leona Helmsley–only the little people are the cause of global warming–is exactly what the article is complaining about. What is really needed is for all those super rich to lose their corrupting fortunes which makes one wonder whether the Depression of 2008 shouldn’t have been allowed to proceed. Like a steamboat soon to explode, the safety valves were instead tied down so we could wait for the inevitable.

        But you can’t condemn people too strongly for following human nature with emphasis on nature. Current Affairs says we are just being foolish but we are just being ourselves. Sadly reason doesn’t always rule.

      2. Alice X

        >the current affairs article was a propaganda fluff piece

        Huh? Look at it again, this time actually read it, he covers alot of ground:

        …Furthermore, the “sacrifices” in question are not being asked for from the poorest people, but will come from those who have far more than they could ever possibly need, and whose consumption habits are inflicting direct harm on others that those inflicting the harm are not currently paying for. But once everyone’s basic needs are met and if we’re within biosphere boundaries… knock yourself out chasing your favorite (future-friendly) baubles.

    5. Alice X

      Jag Bhalla @ Current Affairs

      Taming The Greedocracy

      He doesn’t quite get all the way there.


      MLK – This and the Riverside speech got him killed.

      I never intend to adjust myself to economic conditions that will take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few.


      Lift up the poors to having all necessities, limit everyone else to just the necessities. Does that make me a communist? But even that might not guarantee the survival of the species. There might be no way out.

      1. newcatty

        Still pulling for Divine Intervention. The interesting thing will be how “divine” is defined and the nature of that intervention.

        1. Alice X

          I have no faith in the divine. Nietzsche said god is dead, he might have said that god never existed, why not?

          If I have any faith in the realms outside this pale blue dot, it is that there is life in the Universe and intelligent life is all but certain, somewhere. But whether or not, we in my lifetime, will learn of them, directly, or even at such great distances, my faith fades.

          We are on our own. With every word I type I grow less optimistic, though at my age, I may not see the collapse.

  3. zagonostra

    >Apophenia Edward Snowden, Continuing Ed

    To manufacture meaning from mere coincidence is the essence of paranoia, the gateway to world-building your own private conspiracies—or else to an epiphany that allows you to see the world as it actually is.

    His concluding paragraph reminded me of Plato’s shortest dialogue, Ion, where the poet is characterized as entering a state of “divine madness” in order to “capture the essence” of his art.

    Ion…offers seemingly contradictory ideas to those presented in the Republic. Whereas in the Republic artists are tricksters, imitating reality without capturing its essence and always presenting corrupt images of the truth, in Ion things are different. Plato’s Ion seems to imply that the artist, and more specifically the poet, is a vessel for the god to reveal a truth..”.

    1. albrt

      The Snowden essay is pretty incredible, and helpful in pondering how an individual can interact with our failing political and economic system. Much more useful than the headline and subhead would lead one to believe.

      I was always impressed by his courage and resourcefulness, but I did not realize he was such a clear and insightful thinker.

      1. Daryl

        Thanks for this comment. I had skipped over this article but this made me go back and read it, I enjoyed it quite a bit.

      2. chuck roast

        Snowden is a remarkable fellow. I loved his book, and the things that I loved the best were his foresight and his overall coherence. He is a national treasure if only because he doesn’t live in this shit-hole country and can level an accurate and compelling critique. His writing is only getting better.

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      Snowden’s story about Good Soldier Conrad bothers me. The common use of the movie cliche of a checkpoint guard getting dressed down for any failure in strict adherence to protocol suggests the cliche might contain some truth. I wonder whether the full context for Soldier Conrad’s paranoia might not suggest a simpler explanation than German psychologist Klaus Conrad’s theory of ‘apophany’. I am thinking of the way rats behave in a Skinner box where they receive shocks if they stand still, and shocks no matter what choices they make in the maze.

      The test Snowden suggests for evaluating evidence in an “information-glutted world” — falsifiability is similar to the test of verifiability and equally useless in a sea of subjective information. Logical positivism might work in defeating metaphysics but at a high cost. How many areas of philosophy delve into subjective topics where falsifiability and verifiability are meaningful only through a subjective evaluation … aesthetics, ethics, ontology, the Good Life?

      Snowden’s formula:
      “The conspiracy theorist will believe that institutions can be understood completely as the result of conscious design; and as collectives, he usually ascribes to them a kind of group-personality, treating them as conspiring agents, just as if they were individual men.”
      leaves me with major heartburn. Using that formula C. Wright Mills and G. William Domhoff might be painted as conspiracy theorists.

      Snowden’s formula: “In an apophenic state, everything’s a pattern.”
      I believe that formula is incomplete. I suppose it might apply to some conspiracy theorists but it leaves too much to subjective evaluations of what is delusional in what is often subjective data.

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        “Logical positivism might work in defeating metaphysics but at a high cost. ”

        Well put. And that high cost wasn’t just leading us for a few centuries down some benign dead end but instead was throwing us headlong into a tunnel with a fossil fueled behemoth barreling at us.

        Those who would like to manage us so benignly console themselves that it’s all the “disinformation” that causing the disturbance when the disinformation is just a symptom of a much deeper issue that they’re busily and apparently unkowingly exacerbating.

  4. Tom Stone

    I’m off to Armstrong woods to watch the sunrise, after reading today’s posts I need a reminder that the Earth will abide.

  5. The Rev Kev

    “With drones and bananas, China coaxes wayward elephants home”

    Very disappointed with this article. After seeing the title, I had visions of all those elephants slowly following a squadron of drones with bunches of bananas hanging below them (sigh!)

    1. Keith

      Reality is always more disappointing than the headlines. That was what i wanted to see, too. Perhaps if it happened in Japan, we may have seen it. After all, the country that tried building a giant ice wall to contain a nuclear disaster can be counted on to give us some more cartoon approved solutions. :)

  6. ChrisRUEcon

    L’Affaire Joffrey Epstein

    “I assume people like Epstein, Gates, et al. would be whitelisted by Apple’s scanning software.”

    They’d get to enable that –disable-paedo-scan option on bespoke builds … ;-)

    1. ChrisRUEcon

      How the Fed’s digital currency could displace crypto

      Miss me with all that hogwash, especially because …

      Russia and Venezuela to Implement Energy Security Joint Projects

      Is it safe assume that any new US currency instrument will be used a blunt tool to enforce imperialist US policy?

      “In recent years, Venezuela and Russia have deepened their economic and political ties, with Moscow helping Caracas circumvent US coercive measures to place its oil output. However, in February 2020, secondary sanctions forced Russian energy giant Rosneft to shut down its dealings with PDVSA.”

      The talons on US Dollar hegemony sink deep in far flung places.

      1. farragut

        Here’s a Congressional Research Service brief from July of this year, discussing de-dollarization efforts from China & Russia, and it includes a compelling graph showing Russia’s exports to BRICS nations have changed in currency composition quite dramatically over the years. Small steps, to be sure…but every avalanche is preceded by the first few snowflakes making their moves. Or, as Hemingway allegedly said, “…gradually, then suddenly”, when asked how he went bankrupt.

  7. schmoe

    On this quote in the Irrussianality article:

    “In a recent article for The Washington Post, McFaul argues Russia has nothing to offer the United States beyond oil, of which the US already has plenty. Besides that, “in return for pivoting, Putin would demand unsavory concessions, especially regarding Ukraine and Georgia. That’s a bad trade.”

    I would also add that Russia would likely also demand that the US withdraw from Syria, stop arming jihadis and lift sanctions on Syria. Any thoughts on the odds of some foreign policy lobbies blessing that? (rhetorical question).

    1. Darthbobber

      McFaul’s quote really sums up the silliness. “Unsavory” concessions relating to Georgia and Ukraine boil down to the acceptance of faits accompli that the United States can do nothing about in any case. A “negotiation” in which anything the other side might want is a non-starter is hardly a negotiation at all. As to the blather about autocracy, we have many allies and “members of the free world” who are vastly more autocratic in governance that Russia, with no sign of this being a problem for us. And if we didn’t want them to be as autocratic as they are, a different attitude towards the 90s constitutional crisis, the Yeltsin coup, and the end of the Gorbachev constitution would have been order, since further developments flowed logically from that.

      The people who favor “splitting” Russia from China aren’t prepared to offer anything that might remotely suffice for that purpose, and in any case they have a track record that will keep the Russians from believing that ANY offer is made in good faith.

      The two-front war school likewise has no coherent strategy for pursuing its preferences, which are probably beyond the capacity of the United States.

      1. Procopius

        They have nothing to offer Iran or North Korea, either. I remember when Obama was inaugurated there was lots of hope he would order the Department of Justice to cease raising the “states secrets” doctrine, under which the courts cannot adjudicate any case in which the government claims proceeding would inevitably lead to disclosing a “state secret,” which is anything the government says it is. The first case, which set the existing binding precedent was in an aircraft crash case where the dead pilot’s family had evidence the crash was caused by improper maintenance. It later turned out, but not in court, to be true. Well, anybody who cared about that case knows that Obama continued the attorneys appointed by Bush to continue the defense against relatives of people who had been kidnapped and tortured. Granted, the civilian company probably was not the best target, but sovereign immunity kept the CIA safe. I really cannot imagine what strategy they think they are following, but it’s kind of hard to convince your adversary to come negotiate while you’re actively harming him. When you had something valuable, probably the best way to get something better is NOT to throw away what you’ve already got and punch your adversary in the nose at the same time (both the old sanctions, which were never lifted, and new sanctions imposed by Trump and Pompeo). Has any U.S. sanction ever been lifted? Has any U.S. sanction ever achieved its purported goal? I think not, but might be mistaken.

    2. jefemt

      “…oil, of which the US has plenty.” Hilarious.

      Last I looked, the US has not produced more oil than it demands, post WW2

      Interestingly, we used a LOT less oil during the pandemic in 2020. Who coulda node?! Quelle Surprise!!!

      Cynics world-view— follow the money (timeless)

      Cynics world view in the oil age: follow the oil…

      Rusha/Gyna: Follow the petro-dollars

      Guppies to the brink in the Lemming Conga Line.

    3. farragut

      Bryan MacDonald (@27khv on Twitter) has done an excellent job of chronicling the West’s routinely misjudging Russia & Putin. In response to a McFaul tweet similar in tone to his article, Bryan points out many facts about Russia, including the fact it’s the largest exporter of wheat (beating the US & Canada by significant amounts), oil & gas make up less than 20% of its GDP these days, & its debt/GDP ratio is a laudable ~15% – 20% (vs the 100%+ of most other Western nations).

      Regarding McFaul…

      Assuming McFaul follows the same trajectory, I soon expect to see him post a pic of himself in front of a bathroom mirror, shirtless to… illustrate his virility (ala Geraldo Rivera, Anthony Wiener, & Scott Galloway).

    4. Synoia

      Russia with a Islamic underbelly and China with a left wall of Islam are both targets for the deliberate fermenting of continuing Islamic discontent.

      The discontent also has a direct link to oil prices and wealth. The system is not a conspiracy, it is currently “Business as usual.”

      The question “Can this soup pf Imperial Ambitions, Money, and Wealth based on Oil” be dismantled?

      To which my answer would be, Dismantling would require a number of acts off God, and any process which would dismantle this appears to be unable to complete the process without an Extinction Event.

  8. John

    I suppose it is useful to know just where Covid originated, but exactly how does that contribute to dealing with its presence, its continuing spread, and the certainty of more variants? Effective measures to deal with plagues do not have to be invented and profit for a few is irrelevant.

    1. zagonostra

      Maybe I’m just over dosing on Greek philosophy this morning, but I think knowing the origins is important on many fronts and I don’t see working on “effective measures” as mutually exclusive from knowing origins.

      As Aristotle points out:

      In every systematic inquiry (methodos) where there are first principles, or causes, or elements, knowledge and science result from acquiring knowledge of these; for we think we know something just in case we acquire knowledge of the primary causes, the primary first principles, all the way to the elements. It is clear, then, that in the science of nature as elsewhere, we should try first to determine questions about the first principles. The naturally proper direction of our road is from things better known and clearer to us, to things that are clearer and better known by nature; for the things that are known to us are not the same as the things known unconditionally (haplôs). Hence it is necessary for us to progress, following this procedure, from the things that are less clear by nature, but clearer to us, towards things that are clearer and better known by nature. (Phys. 184a10–21)

    2. Michael

      It is not likely useful for dealing with the current pandemic.

      It is, however, useful for preventing one in the future.

      1. Michael Ismoe

        I believe it’s also critical to someone’s presidential campaign in 2024. I doubt you will ever find anyone who will admit to it if true.

    3. Dr. John Carpenter

      I’m in IT and when we have a big issue, the philosophy is, job number one is to fix the issue and get things working again, then we can worry about how it happened, who is to blame, etc. It seems we’re still stuck at step one and, at this point, the getting into the forensics seems like a distraction and politics.

      1. zagonostra

        Problem is with politics, it will never get fixed. That’s where analogies to other branches of human endeavors, like IT, or business (“we need a business man in the WH) breakdown.

        Remember the clip of Obama when asked if he intended to prosecute the war crimes of his predecessor? His response was “we tortured some folks” but he wanted to look forward? The “Forensics” in politics is history. How you interpret that history has a lot to do with the “fixing.”

        1. Procopius

          That was particularly egregious because both an international statute and the U.S. Code required that he conduct a formal investigation when presented with plausible accusations.

      2. Socal Rhino

        Sure but it’s not like a bug manifested last Wednesday, either, and the lack of global cooperation needed to determine the root cause is itself a systemic risk. We need to review our unit testing and our QA testing and maybe the risks posed by vendor software in parallel efforts while still doing our continuity tests to ensure we can fail over smoothly in event of an earthquake or wildfire.

      3. Michael McK

        But what if the IT techs themselves were doing stupid, dangerous, illegal stuff on the mainframes which caused the crash and were intent on leaving all their crappy code in place to keep playing around in the future? They might end up too busy moonlighting as trouble shooters and code patchers to get around to forensics at all…
        Step one itself seems to have plenty of distraction and politics.

  9. dftbs

    I think many on this site would agree that American strategic thought lacks coherency. But the more you read the reactions and recommendations from the think tanks and pundits with regards to China and Russia, you begin to realize that American strategic thought is actually an active weakness of the American system. These people are actually paid to make America unsafe and weak. The American strategic position would be better served if these people kept their pens capped and mouths shut, rather than write dozens of articles a week detailing how the US will bloody Chinese and Russian noses.

    There is something sadly pathetic, in the Foreign Affairs article about splitting Russia and China. It feels like the bar room ramblings of a prom queen past her glory discussing how she’s going to steal some rival’s betrothed. The sad truth is that America has very little to offer it’s own citizens, what in their right mind do they think they can offer Russia or China.

    You see this delusion in American “negotiations” for the JCPOA. What can the US offer Iran, a re-entry into the dollar system? Allow us to export our inflation onto you, and by the way, we’ll take your missiles.

    1. farragut

      As Washington searches for an effective strategy to manage China’s rise, U.S. President Joe Biden is right to lean heavily on one of the United States’ clearest advantages: its global network of alliances. But even as Biden builds a coalition to tame Beijing, he also needs to work the other side of the equation by weakening China’s own international partnerships. He can’t stop China’s rise, but he can limit its influence by trying to lure away from China its main collaborator: Russia.

      To build on your start, the unbridled arrogance both explicitly & implicitly stated in this opening paragraph belies the sad & deluded state of affairs in which the US/NATO Neoliberals & Neocons find themselves. I know it’s been articulated many times here at NC, but I still am amazed, disheartened, & angered when I read or hear from self-appointed blue-checked hall monitors who feel it’s America’s birthright to lead the world.

      Fortunately, there’s not much America can do to stem the changing times. A multi-polar, multi-reserve currency world will be a much better place than the current monstrosity into which Pax Americana has devolved.

      Finally, to complete your metaphor, I’ll add an aging jock to sit next to your prom queen–his promise & potential wasted–reliving his past glories, boasting loudly & drunkenly, and wondering why the locals no longer hang on his every word.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      I figure it’s related to time. The power brokers who had their first big break before 1991 are retired, hence the recent OMG Russia, and now the people who recognize China as the now the extra threat are at the top of these organizations. They are the people with access to the political appointees. They are just trying out the plans that were being worked on in the mid-00s before the US demonstrated agreement incapableness.

      Lavrov used the term “junior partners” once when saying the US only saw vassals and enemies. He met the Russian Federation was perfectly willing to be a junior partner of a reasonable post cold war Era, but I think he also announced the US simply wasn’t trustworthy enough for other parties to meet the US that way. The US universal guiding light in regard to foreign policy is orientalism, so the US can’t grasp what Lavrov said. They think shipping a Matt Damon movie to Russia will solve all problems.

      1. dftbs

        I think you’re right with regard to the personnel dynamics in the US establishment. I will add that entropy affects institutions and societies. American elites not only project unjustified arrogance abroad, but they exhibit a blind certainty to the stability of their own society.

        Over time the American self-regard for ingenuity, the “can do” spirit associated with our nation is withering, and will wither away. People my age (late millennial) and younger will not grow up in country defined by its opportunities but its limitations, and this will affect the agency of American society. It’s not so much that American’s will become a pacified people and leave the militaristic appetites that have ruled our natures for 245 years. But that we’ll realize we can’t do anything about it. There is something deranged about Americans thinking they should fight WW3 over Taiwan, there is something pathetic about Americans thinking they can fight WW3 over Taiwan.

        I think that’s why so much effort is presently spent on narrative control, you have to make people distrust their lying eyes and think we have it good. But even propaganda meets its limits when it’s tested by reality, be that one’s inability to pay the rent despite having 100k Instagram followers, or an aircraft carrier’s inability to leave port unless it gets in the way of some hypersonic missile.

        1. a fax machine

          Missiles shmissles, the bigger problem is that Americans no longer beilive in each other and no longer have the surplus able to solve hard tasks. The average person cannot even handle it when the government wants to put a new train through their neighborhood, even on existing tracks, because that requires effort and might change things. It’s part crab bucket mentality, part social NON-safety net where any change might potentially destroy peoples’ fragile savings. Same for larger projects like nuclear reactors, nuclear particle accelerators, radio telescopes (like the one that collapsed) or even small things like public schools, clinics and libraries. To quote a coworker, “why should [he] pay an extra $250/yr in taxes for a library if the only books are about black people and Anglos”. Note that he is spanish-speaking hispanic who finds the attempts to destroy hispanic culture and replace it with an Anglicanized version to be disgusting. There are more like him, and their numbers are growing. His view of the government is the state DMV forcing him to pay $15k to upgrade his truck to new emissions rules, which came out of his kids’ college fund. Why bother with school if the government is just going to send your occupation to China/Mexico/post-Maduro Venezuela? That is the fear, at least.

          These are not issues a war can solve. It’s not an issue a bigger or better aircraft carrier or missile can solve. It’s not an issue bombing all of China can solve. The problem is squarely on the homefront, on every city block and within every home.

    3. ex-PFC Chuck

      Bismarck once said the job of the statesman is to put his ear to the ground, listen for the hoof beats of the horse of history, figure out which direction he is running and then prepare yourself such that when he comes by you’re ready to jump on his back and hang on for dear life. The horse has long since departed the “American Century,” and the longer our “betters” refuse to recognize the fact the more likely they, and we, will get trampled.

    4. HomoSapiensWannaBe

      There is something sadly pathetic, in the Foreign Affairs article about splitting Russia and China. It feels like the bar room ramblings of a prom queen past her glory discussing how she’s going to steal some rival’s betrothed. The sad truth is that America has very little to offer it’s own citizens, what in their right mind do they think they can offer Russia or China.

      Quote of the day!

  10. The Rev Kev

    “After Just 11 Years in Service, USS Independence Is Taking an Early Retirement”

    Ah, the first of four littoral combat ships to be retired. Sadly missed – by nobody! What a hunk of junk. They never worked properly and became a ship in search of a mission. Still are come to think of it. The USS Independence is being towed away for storage until they can scrap it but I have another suggestion. How about seeing what would have happened if a ship of this class had actually gone into combat with a full crew? Remember, they are ‘armed with nothing more than Mk-110 57-millimeter rapid-fire guns, 30-millimeter cannons, and close-in weapons for defense.’ Who might they have come up against?

    The Chinese are standing up Type 054A (Jiangkai II) Class Frigates right now so this is how it can play out. Just two of the weapons that that frigate is armed with are the YJ-83 (C-803) sea-skimming anti-ship cruise missile and a single-barrel 76mm gun on the bow deck. OK then. We’ll forget about all the other weaponry it is armed with and go with those. First off, the US Navy should lob off a few rounds from a 76mm gun at the USS Independence and see how it takes that damage and work out what casualties would have resulted. Afterwards, they should slam it with an analogue of a Chinese YJ-83 missile with its 190-kg high-explosive fragmentation warhead or just buy one from a friendly country. Let everybody see how a crew of American sailors would have fared on one of those tubs. But of course they will never do that.

    1. Samuel Conner

      Given the design features (and the vintage of the design), it seems likely that this ship class was not intended for use in conflict with peer-competitors. Not that long ago, US was pre-occupied with asymmetric threats, and perhaps the design is better suited for missions of that kind.

      The thought occurs that major realignments of US strategic thinking, to the extent that there is that, can be a great boon to designers and builders of complex war-fighting (I almost wrote “defense”) systems.

      1. The Rev Kev

        They are not that old. They were supposed to go into coastal waters and fulfill their missions but it was quickly realized that they could not survive combat, especially if hit with a missile. The money spent on them would have been better spent of building a fleet of WW2 PT Boats-

    2. PlutoniumKun

      For connoisseurs of military money pits, the LCS concept is a true classic, along with the Zumwalt which, if anything, was even more stupid. Both were seemingly motivated by war envy, the Navy wanting to get a chunk of the action and being desperately disappointed to find out that Al-Q doesn’t have a blue water navy. In the meanwhile, they neglected to update the bread and butter of operations, such has having modern frigates, so are now building an Italo-French design. And the US navy has little in the way of minesweepers or other unglamorous vessels that might actually be useful in a real-world conflict.

      I wouldn’t overrate the Chinese vessels though – the Chinese are very far behind most major navies on a range of technologies and how to use them. Nobody is out there buying Chinese ships or missiles unless they can’t get anything else. They will catch up, but its a couple of decades to go yet before they can really compete. And by then I suspect that the South Koreans, Japanese and Vietnamese will have made their own major strides. The latter in particular is putting a lot of resources into ensuring that they cannot be bullied in their near-home waters by China or anyone else.

  11. zagonostra

    >United Airlines will require employees to get vaccinated, a first for domestic carriers

    United Airlines will require its 67,000 U.S. employees to get vaccinated against Covid by no later than Oct. 25 or risk termination, a first for major U.S. carriers that will likely ramp up pressure on rivals.

    This is worrisome. I see this as an infringement on civil liberties because I don’t think that the case has been made for justifying mandates when mortality rates and alternative prophylactics are considered.

    1. Lou Anton

      In the case of the airline employees (at least those at the airports, working the planes, etc. – the bulk of the work staff), the multiplicative risks are much higher. One airline employee who decides not to get the shot (for whatever reason) could infect many more people at the airport, on the plane, etc…opening the airline up to legal liability.

        1. Lou Anton

          Yikes, hope you’re able to stay home a bit! I guess I still have the impression that vaxxed & masked airline employees have less of a risk of infecting others than if someone is just one or just the other. By mandating both, the airline thinks it is minimizing the risk of being at fault for spreading to someone who then goes to Pain City (i.e., hospitalization or death).

        2. Maritimer

          It is also possible that the Vaccinated are more reckless and therefore more of a danger for infection and transmission? When folks are vaxxed are they advised that they can both be infected and be Covid carriers?

          In this regard, a local Yak Show Doc who is vax, vax, vax was chastised by an armchair epidemiologist for telling folks that, after two hits, they were “good to go”. She pointed out that they could both be infected and be carriers. Not a good promo for the vax messaging.

          Even the Delaware Creeper has said “You’re not going to get COVID if you have these vaccinations.” Just encouraging recklessness.

      1. rowlf

        Wouldn’t there be examples already of airline workers infecting others? Did LHR or AMS get wiped out by infections?

      2. marku52

        Yeahbut. These vaccines don’t prevent infection or transmission. As public health tools, they are completely useless. In fact, as they will work to increase the probability of the evolution of immune escape variants, they are completely counterproductive.

        But we’ve made 9 new billionaires, and we are only getting started.

        USA! USA!

        1. Aumua

          I’d say the verdict is still out on how much the vaccines prevent infection/transmission. If I had to guess, I’d say it’s probably somewhere between zero and 100%. If we had more and clearer information then we maybe we could do more than speculate wildly and/or proclaim that it’s either all or nothing.

          1. albrt

            Nah, at this point I think we have enough information to narrow it down to somewhere between 5% and 95%.

    2. rowlf

      “Employees must be vaccinated five weeks after the FDA fully approves a Covid vaccine or five weeks after Sept. 20, whichever is first.

      Company approved vaccines? Wow.

  12. The Rev Kev

    That is amazing that image of that fox scanning the horizon in the snow. But then I realize that it was a pet fox. You can see he is wearing a collar and there is his lead off to the right. That makes it even more amazing. Checking out the ‘via’ link led me to a twitter account called #dailyfox

  13. Michael

    “Zero possibility!” is a nice example of Xinhua reminding everyone they are still the master Jedi of “factual” reporting (PDF, supplement page 1, document page 9).

  14. The Rev Kev

    “California orders health care workers to be vaccinated against COVID by Sept. 30”

    There is a cannery company here in Oz that is requiring its workers to be all fully vaccinated and so this brings up an interesting issue. So the Big Pharma corporations have been given a blank check saying that they are free of any responsibility in case things go wrong with these vaccines. So you could spontaneously combust and they would not be held responsible. OK then. But what if a company or a State entity requires that you have a vaccine. So what would happen if you say to them that you are fully willing to take the vaccines but that in case anything goes wrong, that they are responsible for medical expenses if it does. Remember, they are requiring that you take a vaccine if you wish to stay employed and I bet that that is not covered in any contract that that worker as signed. You could argue that if something does go wrong, that they are responsible as the only reason that you took the vaccine was because they demanded it. Of course this line of argument has holes in it big enough for a Mack truck to drive through but lawyers love ambiguous stuff like this after all.

    1. Lone_Geek

      Quietly last month OSHA and other agencies changed their ruling for employer required vaccines. Previously the employer was responsible for any health issues / side effects with their employees re: vaccine and was required to record and report them.

      Now, it has been changed to “promote vaccinations”

      Note: I am pro-vaccine. I’m not for shredding worker safety or taking away any means of recompense. My college has required the vaccine as condition of employment with medical / religious exemptions. They are also requiring all students to be vaccinated as well.
      I doubt that we’ll actually be in-person this year though.

      1. zagonostra

        OSHA does not wish to have any appearance of discouraging workers from receiving COVID-19 vaccination, and also does not wish to disincentivize employers’ vaccination efforts. As a result, OSHA will not enforce 29 CFR 1904’s recording requirements to require any employers to record worker side effects from COVID-19 vaccination through May 2022

        Thanks for posting.

      2. antidlc

        A relative teaches in the math department of a community college in Texas. A lot of the in person classes are not getting enough students enrolled for the classes to make. The internet only classes are filling up.

    2. Bob

      What authority does Newsom have to do this? Can someone please cite that?

      It’s looking like this corrupt clown is going to be recalled and sent back to the San Francisco cesspool of political history from which he emerged.

      He can rely on his billionaire family friends the Gettys and the “No Mr. President, you cannot cancel student debt” Swigs to figure out how to create a sinecure for him.

      1. lambert strether

        “By the authority of the PMC hive mind, as expressed in the following media assets, I hereby….”

    3. urblintz

      …from months ago:

      COVID-19 vaccine efficacy and effectiveness—the elephant (not) in the room

      “… fully understanding the efficacy and effectiveness of vaccines is less straightforward than it might seem. Depending on how the effect size is expressed, a quite different picture might emerge.

      Vaccine efficacy is generally reported as a relative risk reduction (RRR). It uses the relative risk (RR)—ie, the ratio of attack rates with and without a vaccine—which is expressed as 1–RR. Ranking by reported efficacy gives relative risk reductions of 95% for the Pfizer–BioNTech, 94% for the Moderna–NIH, 91% for the Gamaleya, 67% for the J&J, and 67% for the AstraZeneca–Oxford vaccines. However, RRR should be seen against the background risk of being infected and becoming ill with COVID-19, which varies between populations and over time. Although the RRR considers only participants who could benefit from the vaccine, the absolute risk reduction (ARR), which is the difference between attack rates with and without a vaccine, considers the whole population. ARRs tend to be ignored because they give a much less impressive effect size than RRRs: 1·3% for the AstraZeneca–Oxford, 1·2% for the Moderna–NIH, 1·2% for the J&J, 0·93% for the Gamaleya, and 0·84% for the Pfizer–BioNTech vaccines.” [emphasis added]

        1. marku52

          What it shows is that cases are equally probable from the vaccinated and vaccinated populations. In other words, no protection from infection.

          It’s been apparent for a while (Singapore contact tracer data) that these vaccines do not prevent infection nor transmission. What’s worse, vaccinated people may be more likely to become asymptomatic spreaders, because more of them get a symptom free infection.

          I’m beginning to think that I need to be more scared of the vaccinated…..

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            I thought I always remembered reading and hearing right from the start that all the mRNA neo vaccinoids were ever even intended to do was to make you get less sick when you got infected.

            Who ever even said that they had anything to do with “slowing the spread”? I myself don’t ever even remember having ever even heard that. Until lately, that is.

            1. Cuibono

              well all you have to do is look at the RCTs and if you do you will see they were not set up to test that hypothesis unfortunately

      1. Lupana

        I’m sorry…Could someone pleas explain this for those of us (or maybe just me) whose eyes glaze over when they see anything even remotely related to statistics. What is ‘absolute risk reduction’? And what is an ‘attack rate’? I feel like it’s something significant and for some reason I just don’t understand. It seems related to getting COVID but what about risk of a severe case? or is that not addressed? Thank you in advance..

  15. Carolinian

    Here’s an interesting story about the new great RV migration and people living for long periods on city streets for lack of any place else to go.

    As a camper I’ll just observe that no hookup RV living might work in the winter but hard to see how they can stand these sweat boxes in current Portland heat. Or are their AC supplying generators thrumming away as well?

    There’s a Maggie Smith movie called The Lady in the Van about the British practice of allowing van residents to camp on city streets–based on a true story. It relates to the above.

  16. Michael

    If this story turns into Benghazi/RussiaGate/2020 election theft, that would be bad.

    One cannot help but assume anything a determined group of ideologues (especially bipartisan ideologues) get their grubby little suckers around will end badly. But the CCP only has itself to blame for rolling up into a little ball, like a nuclear-armed porcupine, every time something happens that may prove embarrassing to the Party.

    Also: I doubt anything is worse than the very real expectation access to Putin’s 2016 daily-planner would reveal an “overthrow United States w/ Bernie memes today” entry.

  17. anonymous

    Shane Crotty believes those who got J&J should get a 2nd dose w/mRNA and explains his thinking here:
    In short, Delta has a shorter time course between infection and disease, so antibodies are more important, and single-dose J&J seems to rely more on T cells. J&J as a two-dose seemed promising in phase 1, but the clinical trial expected in April was never released. AZ, as an adenovirus vector vaccine, is similar to J&J, and is poor against Delta with only one dose. Two-dose AZ is strong against Delta, and AZ followed my mRNA even better. Three of the five hospitalizations from the Barnstable outbreak had J&J (small numbers, though).
    Someone the other day had asked in the comments about getting an mRNA after J&J. Crotty is not an MD, but maybe his twitter thread will be helpful.

  18. flora

    Thomas Frank’s latest essay in Le Monde diplomatique:

    Triumph of the professional class
    US liberals’ hysteria outlives Trump

    Donald Trump may be gone, for now, but an unanswered question remains. Why exactly did the 45th president of the United States induce such fear and loathing among the nation’s highly educated elite?

      1. ex-PFC Chuck

        A century hence, if there’s anyone left of the planet who gives a family blog about what happened to the late US of A and is writing history about it, the Trump presidency will be seen as an episode of comic relief. When those historians get around to rating our presidents, fighting it out for the very bottom of the pile will be Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. Clinton is there because he closed the sale of the Democratic Party to the parasites of the financial sector (it had been in negotiations for quite a while). As for Obama, he walked into the Oval Office on January 20, 2009, and there was a platter on the desk with a golden opportunity on the desk to buy it back after previous decade had shown that choice to be a disaster. But instead of taking that opportunity he dumped it on the floor and stomped on it. “I’m the only guy between you and the pitchforks.” They were both tactically skilled politicians. But the strategic choices they chose to pursue using those tactical skills were disastrous.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      He offended their aesthetic sensibilities with his “trailer trash taste” on a billionaire budget.

    2. Carolinian

      Great link. Unfortunately the only people who are likely to read it are the ones who already agree with him.

      But thanks.

  19. LadyXoc

    IMHO the Global Times article was outstanding. I think it was Lee Iacocca who said, “Lead, follow, or get out of the way.” The US is doing none of the above.

  20. skk

    re: Subcutaneous REGEN-COV Antibody Combination to Prevent Covid-19 NEJM

    My spouse told me about this 2 days into my symptoms. As common with illnesses, I had absolutely no energy to research further till day 4. I asked my doc, she didn’t know much more than ‘interesting, doesn’t do it in the office, only done in hospital settings’ – given how well I’ve recovered she seemed disinclined to chase it further, since I’m doubly vaccinated and her dataset is that 99% of hospitalizations and younger, unvaccinated people. Anyway I’ve been feeling almost normal since day 3 so I researched heavily – ended up leaving a message with Regeneron.
    There’s a catch-22 here – its preventative, within 10 days of symptoms only for NON-HOSPITALIZED patients – yet the doc used the idea of “hospital administered’ to suggest if I worsen in the next 2 days I shd go to hospital. But of course then I can’t have it ! Quite the catch-22.

    Got a call-back from Regeneron this am, EARLY am. Summary of what she told me : The govt. has bought all the supplies and is supplying them free but one bears the cost of administration etc.. The website has two tabs, 1 for patient, 1 for provider. The patient tab gives you locations that have supplies, one can call them to work thru ‘who needs to provide the order’ etc..

    So on day 5, 5 days into the 10-day window am I going to chase this further ? From the reward-risk assessment, Going by ‘its for people with mild to moderate symptoms’ and I currently, on day 5, I basically have no symptoms and the usual issue of downsides of possible side-effects of a novel treatment ( even though the technology is from the 70s ), versus not taking it and the risk of hospitalization or worse and ‘its too late’ then…… I’m not gonna chase it further as of now.. I’ve still got a 5 day window left to rethink and chase further.

    My experience is that you definitely have to do the leg-work yourself – your doc may not be au fait with the administration mechanics. The irony is that you for sure don’t feel like doing the legwork right during the heavy symptoms. For sure you need a knowledgeable, pushy friend when you are ill – But now I’m prepared – for my spouse if she gets it and wants to go for the preventative treatment or heaven forbid – I get it again – despite being doubly vaccinated.

  21. drumlin woodchuckles

    That Myanmar opposition leader is stupid. The DC FedRegime will never ever give the NUGies enough military support to counter the overwhelming and total military support which the RussiaGov and ChinaGov will give the Tatmadaw government. The DC FedRegime would only ever give the NUGies just enough aid to turn Myanmar into a failed state in order to create some inconvenience on China’s border.

    The NUGies will either win or lose on their own with zero useful assistance from outside. “Myanmar opposition leaders” can hope and pray all they want for something more, but they won’t get it. They are on their own and they will stay that way.

    1. Procopius

      The U.S. State Department will always give verbal/moral support to the popular side (unless they are trying to help each other, in which case they are Communists), but actual assistance will only go to the dictatorial side. Promotes “stability,” you see.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Well, the RussiaGov and especially ChinaGov will give all the help they possibly can to the TatmadawGov in order to help it successfully crush and wipe out the opposition within the Bamar ethnic plurality population itself. Once civil Bamar society unrest is crushed and snuffed out, then the TatmadawGov will decide how much ongoing tension from/with the ethnic militias and regions can be tolerated just as before.

        And if the ethnic regions and militias and armies totally side with the unrestful Bamars against the TatmadawGov, then ChinaRussia will do their best to help the Tatmadaws get those ethnic regions exterminated back into control.

        So it doesn’t matter what the Western Govs say or do. The ChinaRussia Govs will say and do so very much more.

        And if I were to interpret your comment as suggesting that the DC FedRegime would actually stealth-help the Tatmadaw because “stability”, why would the Tatmadaw even accept such stealth-help? Why wouldn’t they suspect it was a trick to lure them into a perma-chaos trap? They would accept the vastly huger volumes of sincere constructive actually helpful help from ChinaRussia instead.

  22. Maritimer

    A vaccine-only strategy won’t prevent a fourth wave of COVID-19 Toronto Globe and Mail
    That Doc is right about this: “Simply put: A vaccine-only strategy is short-sighted and reckless.” Reckless!!!!

    But absolutely stunning that a search of that article does not turn up the word “treatment”. I would imagine if it’s the Doc’s family or friends in Covid need, he knows of lots of treatments. Doc, also reckless to not explore, study and administer treatments!

    In most, if not all jurisdictions in Canada, it is vaccine solves all. As this opinion indicates that is already a failed policy.

  23. RMO

    Regarding the Fed digital currency displacing crypto: as I understand it the thinking behind creating blockchain was that a trusted party underlying the currency wouldn’t be necessary. If the Fed creates it they already are a “trusted” party which makes it ridiculous that they are apparently trying to invent a currency that works like Bitcoin etc. Wouldn’t making it possible for anyone to have their own account at a federal government bank and to transfer dollars in and out of it be a lot more efficient? Right now the vast majority of my transactions in Canadian dollars are digital by way of direct withdrawal/deposit, credit and debit cards – but with far less CO2 output than the cryptocurrencies for that matter.

    Also, as far as I can tell Bitcoin et al seem to exist to (kind of) enable transactions that are untraceable and thus useful for illegal activities, as a wildly speculative object and to allow the large players who were in at the beginning to manipulate the market for their own benefit. None of this seems beneficial to society as a whole or to be something a national government should be getting into.

  24. The Rev Kev

    “How the Northern Sea Route will change the world’s major traffic flows”

    Good on graphics but woefully short on any real analysis or any talk on future prospects. Considering that the whole region remains hostile, some sort of arrangements are going to be have to be made for things like navigation, search & rescue and maybe standard patrols. And as this trade route skims Norway and Russia’s coastline, they will have to be the lead countries. But I can guess what will happen. The US Navy will run freedom-of-navigation exercises off Russia’s coastline in the same way they do to Canada. But they will need new ships to do this as the US really only has one working ice-cutter and they are loath to send it too far afield into the ice-packs as if it gets stuck, Washington will have to ask Russia to go get it back for them. The article also failed to mention about pollution from oil operations which could be big considering how pristine the region still is relatively speaking. But I would not be surprised to see this region militarized in the same way that the Black Sea has been. The region really needs protecting but what I fear is an Arctic version of the Artemis Accords with such ice-faring nations as Luxembourg which will turn it into a hot zone – but with ice.

  25. drumlin woodchuckles

    Well, I am midway into reading the Northern Sea Route article and thinking, a civilization which views the disappearance of ice from the Arctic Ocean as a shipping business opportunity is a Suicide Civilization with a strong Will to Die. Species Man’s only hope for survival as a viable organism with a sufficient number of breeding pairs to avoid extinction is if civilization collapses so fast and hard that it dies before it can kill multicellular life on the earth as its Last Great Achievement.

    The fact that the Arctic Powers and China vie for economic exploitation of the Greater Arctic Area, instead of all co-operating to make it a multi-million square mile International Park where economic activity is to be rigidly forbidden shows that one way or another, this ugly civilization has no long-term-survival future.

    And now, back to reading about all the beautiful money to be made in a future Ice Free Arctic Ocean.

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