Links 9/24/2021

Breeding bees fit for Dubai’s heat CNN

Are We Starting to See Why It’s Really the Exorbitant “Burden” Michael Pettis, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Reserve currency status of the dollar. A must-read.

The Internet’s Original Sin Galaxy Brain. On the online advertising ecosystem. Also a must-read, but grab a cup of coffee.


Many unvaccinated people are not opposed to getting a shot. The challenge is trying to get it to them. WaPo. If the PMC would stop whinging about Bubba, and start advocating for policies that would give material help to the willing… Oh, what’s the use. Whinging means clicks. And moral preening!

When Will Kids’ COVID Vaccines Be Available? Scientific America. Presumably after a public hearing and with data available, exactly the approval process Pfizer’s vaccine for adults underwent, transitioning from its EUA. Oh, wait….

Retail Groups Request More Time to Implement Vaccine Mandate For Employees Footwear News. Detail on the OSHA rule.

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The removal of airborne SARS-CoV-2 and other microbial bioaerosols by air filtration on COVID-19 surge units (preprint) (PDF) medRxiv. From the Abstract: “Airborne SARS-CoV-2 was detected in the ward on all five days before activation of air/UV filtration, but on none of the five days when the air/UV filter was operational; SARS-CoV-2 was again detected on four out of five days when the filter was off. Airborne SARS-CoV-2 was infrequently detected in the ICU. Filtration significantly reduced the burden of other microbial bioaerosols in both the ward (48 pathogens detected before filtration, two after, p=0.05) and the ICU (45 pathogens detected before filtration, five after p=0.05)…. These data demonstrate the feasibility of removing SARS-CoV-2 from the air of repurposed ‘surge’ wards and suggest that air filtration devices may help reduce the risk of hospital-acquired SARSCoV-2.” Commentary:

Viral RNA and infectious influenza virus on mobile phones of influenza patients in Hong Kong and the United States (accepted manuscript) Journal of Infectious Diseases. From the Abstract: “Mobile phones are among the most highly touched personal objects. As part of a broader study on the contribution of fomites to influenza transmission, between 2017-19, we swabbed mobile phones from 138 influenza patients in two locations. Influenza viral RNA detection rates were 23% (23/99) and 36% (14/39) in Hong Kong and Maryland, respectively. In Hong Kong, infectious influenza virus was recovered from 3/23 mobile phones. Mobile phone influenza contamination was positively associated with upper-respiratory viral load and negatively associated with age. Cleaning personal objects of influenza patients should be recommended and individuals should avoid sharing objects with influenza patients.”

Same-day SARS-CoV-2 antigen test screening in an indoor mass-gathering live music event: a randomised controlled trial The Lancet. n=1140. From the Discussion: “To our knowledge, this is the first randomised clinical trial that assesses the risk of COVID-19 transmission in an indoor mass-gathering live concert done under comprehensive safety measures, including same-day SARS-CoV-2 screening with Ag-RDTs, compulsory N95 face mask wearing, and optimised air ventilation. Participants were encouraged to sing and dance in the concert hall room, and no physical distancing was recommended. None of the 465 participants became infected, compared with two of 495 in the control arm.”

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My Family Was a COVID Cluster Benjamin Wallace-Wells, The New Yorker


Fears grow for China Evergrande after interest deadline passes Reuters. Evergrande’s books, a thread:

Affected by the plummet of bank stocks, ten banks responded to the status quo of Evergrande loans What China Reads

Ex-head of Chinese liquor giant Moutai jailed for life for bribery Agence France Presse

Changing China: Xi Jinping’s effort to return to socialism BBC

WPX: Why China’s Demand for Pork is Driving the Global Export Economy The Pig Site

People Vs. Agribusiness Corporations: The Battle Over Global Food and Agriculture Governance The Oakland Institute


Assessing Tatmadaw’s intention and capabilities: What is next for the North-East insurgencies? Observer Research Foundation. From May. A clarifying regional perspective, suggesting that Tatmadaw “overstretch” makes the NUG’s call for armed resistance not quite the act of desperation it might seem.

Beijing Tells Regime It Fears Attack on Its Oil, Gas Pipelines in Myanmar The Irrawaddy. With good reason:

Myanmar’s shadow government plans US$300 million vaccination drive to cover ‘20 per cent of population’ South China Morning Post. “Shadow giovernment” implies that the Tatmadaw’s military dictatorship is the legitimate government, at least debatable.

Amid education boycotts, ethnic schools help to fill the gap Frontier Myanmar


AUKUS, the Quad, and India’s Strategic Pivot Foreign Policy

Australians Need To Decide If This Is The Kind Of Country We Want To Live In From Now On Caitlin Johnstone

Once Covid world-beaters, the mood in New Zealand is changing – and Jacinda Ardern knows it Guardian. The strong do what they can, and the weak suffer what they must. This applies within the Five Eyes, too.

The Koreas

As South Korea, US discuss ‘creative’ ways to engage with Pyongyang, does Moon have a shot at ending the Korean war? South China Morning Post

How Bush set stage for N. Korean nuclearization The Hankyoreh

Thai water project gives Beijing a new Belt and Road foothold Nikkei Asian Review

Sinovac’s COVID shot highly effective against serious illness- Malaysia study Reuters


How the natgas crisis emulates the Northern Rock crisis Izabella Kaminska, FT Alphaville (Vlade). Vlade comments:

Kaminska raises our perennial favourite – running “lean” operations which have no fat when a crisis comes, including in strategic sectors where it will hit the whole nation. Kaminska compares it to Uber in the text, but if Uber goes belly up, most people won’t give a toss. When Northern Rock went belly up, or when there’s no gas to be delivered to the households, a different story entirely.

As the Asians were “tiger economies”, we can call this “cheetah economy” (no fat, run fast, die if anything goes wrong), closely followed by “vulture and hyena” one.

Charles’s Wild ‘Cash for Access’ Scandal, Explained Jezebel

Emails emerge of ‘VIP route’ for UK Covid test contracts Guardian

Graham A Fordyce: The Importance of Murray Craig Murray Justice Campaign

The long shadow of Merkel: Germany has a future of delay and gridlock CIty AM

New Cold War

Russian Navy Practices Striking Black Sea Targets as Ukraine, US Hold Drills Maritime Link

The Caribbean

US Envoy to Haiti Resigns, Citing Political Intervention and “Inhumane” Deportation Policy CEPR

Biden Administration

Pentagon removes top nuclear policy official from post WaPo. Hmm.

US stops using horses in border ops after outcry over Haiti migrants South China Morning Post

CIA Vienna station chief removed amid ‘Havana syndrome’ criticism -Washington Post Reuters. Looks like a microwave generator that would produce such a putative “syndrome” would have to be the size of a truck. Surely mass hysteria is the most plausible explanation, especially since moral panic attacks (RussiaGate, WMDs, witchhunts of all sorts) are so common in our mentally and morally beleaguered national security and foreign policy communities?

Health Care

If I HADN’T seen my patient in person, he’d have died… that’s why it would be a disaster to rely on remote appointments, writes DR MARTIN SCURR Daily Mail (nvl). “Disaster” for whom?

‘Health equity tourists’: How white scholars are colonizing research on health disparities STAT

Police State Watch

L.A. County sheriff’s unit accused of targeting political enemies, vocal critics LA Times. The URL is more pointed: sheriff-alex-villanueva-secret-police.

Investigative reporter Dave Biscobing breaks down the problems with MCAO and Phoenix PD Arizona Agenda

Things Your Therapist Is Legally Obligated To Report To The Police The Onion

Zeitgeist Watch

The Unbelievable Grimness of HermanCainAward, the Subreddit That Catalogs Anti-Vaxxer COVID Deaths Slate

Stop calling America’s murder crisis a ‘crime’ issue. It’s something far worse. Will Bunch, Philadelphia Inquirer

Class Warfare

“It’s about having a democratic voice in Starbucks.” Interview with Brian Murray of SBWorkersUnited. Strike Wave

Age of Invention: The New Space Empires Anton Howes, The Age of Invention

At the ‘Human Library’, everyone is an open book Agence France Presse

Antidote du Jour (via):

Bonus Antidote:

Missed it by that much!

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. GranSci

    Re Pettis on the “burden” of the reserve currency.

    IMHO the power of the reserve currency, unnoticed by Pettis, is the ability of “King Dollar” to lay siege to the economy of any nation that threatens to disobey.

    1. jsn

      In his point 2 in the appendix he lists all the things capital holders do to labor on both sides of global trade imbalances to capture for capital what privileges are in a reserve currency, whether in the issuing country or the reserve purchasing counter-party country.

      On both sides of the balance of payments problem, ordinary people can be made to carry the burden until they can’t any longer and crisis ensues.

      On both sides of the balance of payments problem for the las 40 years, capital holders and states have looked after one another at the expense of general populations. It is only by reintroducing questions of distribution across societies of produced and traded surpluses, and of the cash flows these spin off, that actually rebalancing can be achieved.

      1. jsn

        I think this is the light in which Xi’s “Common Prosperity” should be viewed: like the Communists they are, the CCP has recognized their mercantilist game with US fiat is a dead end and the real wealth they produce needs to be steered towards the working population.

        This entails allocating losses for the adjustment and they appear to be choosing to allocate those losses to capitalists, whether nominally communist or neoliberal.

        1. nap

          “Red Roulette”, a new book about power and corruption at the highest levels in China, written by an insider, suggests that the CCP leadership is more like the mafia than a group concerned about the working population.

          Rule by fear, ruthless elimination of rivals and ultra-luxurious living conditions for those at the top and their acolytes, plus eye-watering levels of corruption by family members and associates, as this earlier report also found:

    2. R

      I tried to leave a comment on that article’s website to the effect that Pettis’s argument only gets close to the prize in footnote ten! He discusses the end of sterling dominance and mentions US hegemony.

      The three factors that don’t bark in the night are:
      – US military spending abroad
      – petrodollar recycling
      – offshore funds

      My hunch is the sterling area also died post WW2 because:
      – the US broke the empire apart AND then cornered the market in vassals. It was not mere retreat but supplantation.
      – the joint economic agreement with US and Saudi to recycle oil proceeds replaced the prewar AngloIranian oil hegemony

      I think offshore funds distort the picture (apple’s tax haven money run from Nevada, for example). There is less foreign buying of UST than it seems and the outflows that are driving the balance may all be the Pentagon, as noted here previously. That is not to say a profound transfer of physical ownership to China has not occurred but there is a counterbalancing trade in IP rents etc.

      In the rise of China, I don’t see any action on the oil front because Iran and Iraq are not the swing producers, unless Aramco is closer to the bottom of the barrel than they claim.

      Offshore funds will be forced onshore by the new cold war, I suspect, but that will be a onetime change, not a new trend.

      For the future, I would watch the market in vassals. China may yet develop a reserve currency, if she gets a US taste for foreign adventures and vassal states….

      1. Yves Smith

        Gabriel Zucman confirms US inbound capital flows lower than estimated, but for a different reason: use of tax havens. American nationals are basically round-tripping their $ through tax havens to hide from the IRS, but the inbound capital flows are not ‘foreign” except in a technical sense.

    3. Michael Hudson

      You’re quite right. My response to Pettis’s nonsense was “Oh, my god.” He assumes that a country running a balance-of-payments surplus from foreign recycling of its currency (e.g., the world’s central banks investing their trade surpluses in U.S. Treasury securities) is “invested.”
      That obviously is not the case. The U.S. uses its dollar inflows from foreign central banks to finance its foreign military spending and diplomacy.
      I began to publish these balance-of-payments figures in the late 1960s, and my Super Imperialism (released in a 3rd ed. within the next few weeks) emphasized that the entire U.S. balance-of-payments deficit was a result of military spending. the private sector was exactly in balance for over a decade.
      The other idiotic assumption of neoliberal Pettis is to assume that countries “need” to borrow abroad to invest. that’s not the case if they can simply print the money at home for domestic spending. When Canada’s provinces borrowed Swiss francs and German marks in the 1970s, the provinces turned over this currency to the Bank of Canada for C$s. What on earth did they need foreign currency for? The answer by the banks was “Foreign banks are honest brokers and can judge what investments are good.”
      that’s nonsense, of course. The banks simply wanted their foreign-exchange fees and loan underwriting fees. (My 1979 “Canada in the New International Economic Order” is all about this.)

      1. Larry Y

        Is there an article that’s readable in lay people’s terms that I can forward to people?

        Tired of getting forwarded articles about deficits and foreigners not buying treasury bills. Need an auto response with a link to such an article. Would send Kelton’s book, but it needs to be much shorter.

      2. lance ringquist

        if you look at what it takes to have free trade internally in america, it requires vast amounts of money, time and effort and coercion for the federal government, state governments to regulate and tax, let alone all of the reciprocal agreements between states just to keep friction at a minimum.

        and then its not perfect because of the likes of right to work for less laws, and lax taxation, state labor and environmental regulations.

        so the military spending is a attempt to have some sort of power internationally over trade.

        you can hear this out of biden with the rules based international order. that order is at the point of a gun.

        nafta billy clinton said this loud and clear at yugoslavia, nafta billy was warning the world, either you free trade under the rules based order, or be bombed into the stone age.

        but you can attempt to do that to china, and china will reciprocate, and its driving nafta types crazy. we just saw that with soros.

      3. Acacia

        Okay, here’s a basic and probably silly question: if, as Prof. Hudson notes above, banks don’t “need” to borrow abroad, then what is the function of China holding large amounts of USTs?

      4. Spoofs desu

        I don’t think he says that, exactly, that trade surpluses are invested. He says under certain conditions it is investment but ultimately leads bubbles and/unemployment.

        1. Jason

          Hudson says the trade deficit is accounted for by overseas military spending. Accounting-wise this would be under government expenditure in the US. To the extent that this is (again accounting-wise) funded by deficits, this is a direct “twin deficits” argument. If so, then private debt buildup is not due to surplus foreign reserve accumulation channeled to the US, and Pettis is wrong.

          If one looks at how private debt has been building up in all sorts of countries, current account surplus or deficit be dammed, there is surely something amiss in his account.

    4. schmoe

      i don’t know why I am having such a hard time comprehending this sentence from the article: “If a country takes steps to expand its trade surplus, it is also taking steps to expand its net export of savings – these are one and the same thing. ”
      – When China expands its trade surplus to the US and receives $, how is it “taking steps to expand its net export of savings”? Is he assuming that the net $ received must be invested outside of China, such as via Treasuries?

      1. Spoofs desu

        “i don’t know why I am having such a hard time comprehending this sentence from the article: “If a country takes steps to expand its trade surplus, it is also taking steps to expand its net export of savings – these are one and the same thing. ”

        To say the same thing another way, when China sends us some stuff and we send them some dollars for that stuff, China does not convert those dollars to yuan. It sends them back to the u.s. Thus, it is expanding its net export savings.

    5. Dr. Strangelove

      The United States prints billions of dollars out of thin air every year. There must be demand for those dollars or the US economy starts seeing some serious inflation. Without the US dollar being a reserve currency, the US becomes Weimar Germany.

      1. Objective Ace

        There’s 20 trillion already in the current system. If we print a trillion annually that would lead to 5 percent inflation assuming no economic/population growth. I think the comparisons to Weimar are a bit rushed

        1. Wukchumni

          Yeah, the Weimar hyperinflation numbers are beyond stiffling, going from 4 Marks to the $ in 1913 to hundreds of billions of Marks to equal a buck a decade later, whoa nelly!

          What of instead, we followed the USSR’s hyperiflation lead and one of their Rubles was in theory worth $1.75 before the fall, and after collapse it was more like 1,000 Rubles to equal 1 greenback?

          A modest loss of 499/500’s of your wealth.

          Thats the thing about hyperinflation in that many get hung up over numbers, and Weimar, China, Hungary and Yugoslavia were similar in extreme loss of value of each of their currencies, but really after a point, it doesn’t matter-the damage is done.

          Mexico is also a good example for us, it went from a rock solid 12.5 Pesos to $, to 3,300 Pesos to the buck in a dozen years from 1980 to 1992, corresponding with the boom in Mexicans coming to earn a living in the USA. Why work for nothing in Mexico when the same skillset up over will earn you enough money to support your family in Mexico?

          When I grew up in LA in the 60’s, we lived not too far from one of the few Mexican-American cities I was aware of, La Puente.

          Residents there would’ve been 2nd or 3rd generation Mexican-Americans for the most part, and then the flood into SoCal began in the 1980’s.

  2. Eelok

    Re: the Fisman tweet, has anyone yet opened up the discussion of how all of this air filtration talk might involve tradeoffs for building efficiency as far as heating and cooling goes? IIRC, doesn’t LEEDS cert essentially involve hermetic sealing? I assume passivaus would be part of the conversation as well. Would appreciate any links.

    1. Zamfir

      Filtration does not have those trade offs, if it works.

      Without filtration, you can only ” clean” the air by replacing stale indoor air with fresh outdoors air. That can amount to a massive heat transfer, especially if you aim for high replacement rates. This can be mitigated to some extent by heat exchangers (the Passivhaus standard relies on that) but this is not trivial. And it is difficult to increase replacement rates after construction, since heaters, coolers and exchangers are not sized for the higher rate.

      In this experiment, they put portable filters (and UV sterilizers) in the room. So it comes on top of the replacement by fresh air, without adding to heating or cooling burden. The replacement is still needed, to get rid of things that are not caught by a filter, like CO2.

      1. steve

        An increase in filtration requirements requires an increase in fan power. Fan power cost energy(~15%-20% overall). If the fan is located in conditioned space it also contributes to the heat load, as in portable filtration/UV units. Outside air requires filtration (pollen, dust, etc.) and requirements can vary considerably depending on location.

        There is no free filtration. The cake is a lie.

        1. Kouros

          It seems these were portable filters. Yes, they might be consuming some extra power, but in this case you do also a cost benefit analysis… As in, how much longer will the ventilators for covid patients would be working on and what is the risk of your staff getting sick and incapacitated, as opposed to adding a bit extra to the power consumption…

    2. Darwwin

      Increased air ventilation requires increased heating and cooling loads…. Long story short the current energy codes are going out the window to meet these protocols. I have have a university client that requires 4x the ventilation for covid protocol, the systems were not designed for that amount of ventilation and the heating/cooling system can’t keep up with that kind of demand(and this is ina temperate part of the US), so the spaces are not meeting their target set points. If this was a colder or hotter part of the world, it wouldn’t work without upgrading systems to larger units….

    1. FreeMarketApologist

      I may have mentioned here before: My office building has a LEED Platinum plaque on the wall. Recently posted on a nearby wall is the NYC energy rating (now required to be publicly posted), which is a ‘D’ (rather low ranking). I fail to see how these two ratings can be reconciled.

  3. Carla

    Re: Actual Healthcare, as in Expanded, Improved Medicare for All:

    Last night, I attended a webinar Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) held on Direct Contracting Entities, which are posing an immediate threat to traditional Medicare, completely privatizing it and putting it entirely under the control of Wall Street. There is plenty of information about DCE’s available at the PNHP site. I urge my compatriots here, particularly physicians, but health care advocates (which is all of us, right?) as well — to please consider signing and sharing the petition linked below.

    1. IM Doc

      Thank you very much for this link.

      If people only knew the almost weekly tragedies I get to deal with because of Medicare Advantage Plans – it would get some attention. Somehow these stories are never told.

      This Direct Contracting Entities would be the next step in the ultimate dissolution of Medicare and handing it over to “non-profit” entities. Look around you right now at the staffing crisis in the hospitals in this country as just one small example as to where this will all lead.

      I can only hope these kinds of ideas will fail.

      1. Eustachedesaintpierre

        I suppose that what they are doing is the medical equivalent of ignoring a festering wound.

          1. TBellT

            “More than 30 million seniors who have chosen traditional
            Medicare could be involuntarily assigned to a Direct Contracting Entity (DCE) without their knowledge or consent.”

            Also true of MSSP and ACOs. So if you didn’t notice those for the last decade you aren’t going to notice now.

            All of these models continue to remain optional for providers. A patient being enrolled means that your Doctor is choosing to participate.

      2. Eclair

        In the fall and early winter of 2015, due to a cascade of medical problems that resulted in terrible nerve pain (now fully resolved!), I spent a LOT of time in our town’s community center outdoor hot tub (and I am fully aware of how fortunate we were to live in a town that believed in community centers!).

        Since my husband was nearing retirement from a job that provided super excellent medical insurance, I had begun to think about Medicare. I asked questions of my hot tub companions, as we lolled away the time relaxing in the hot water, and listened in to their tales of health woes.

        What amazed me was that all of them swore that were not ‘on Medicare.’ This was a very right-leaning, cowboy conservative area, and I was curious to know how they squared their individualism with ‘socialized’ medical insurance. They did it by denial; they reeled off to me the names of the for-profit Advantage plans they were on, still swearing that government plans would dictate their choice of doctor, while admitting that they were limited to certain physician groups under the terms of their Advantage plan.

        The marketing strategy is brilliant!

      3. Arizona Slim

        Medicare Advantage Plans? Oh, brother. I am not even 64 years old, and I’m already getting mailings from these [family bloggers].

        Let’s just say that my paper shredder is very hungry and I have to keep feeding these Medicare Advantage mailings to it.

        Even worse, I’m getting the same kind of mailings for someone who lived here way before I moved in. And naughty Slim is dealing with them. I’m opening and sending them back with a note saying that Mr. Former Resident hasn’t lived here in a LONG time, so REMOVE him from your list!

        1. chuck roast

          If they contain self addressed stamped envelopes, rip up the mailings and send them back to the addressees.

      4. Mantid

        Thanks so much Carla, IM Doc, The NC readership/writership, et al. I am nearing that Medicaid age and so the comments, links etc. will add to my understanding.

    2. grayslady

      Thank you, Carla, for the heads up. As an individual on traditional Medicare, I immediately signed the petition, but we’re going to need a lot more signatures. There were only 743 when I signed.

      I remember reading about this last year, but I didn’t go into immediate panic mode because Illinois wasn’t one of the test states mentioned. After reading PNHP’s write-up, I now understand why we should all be afraid of this “experiment”.

      1. Carla

        When I signed last night, there were only 186 signatures, so we ARE making progress.

        grayslady, I hope you will forward the petition & one-page fact sheet to all your friends who are on Medicare.

        And everyone, please consider joining Physicians for a National Health Program. Membership for a “Healthcare Professional or Ally” is only $50 a year, and all of us who support M4A are definitely “Allies”!

        1. Mantid

          PS, Just signed it as well and their goal of signatures was 1,000. Right now (11:00 pacific) it’s above 1,200. Go Carla!!

        2. Elizabeth

          Thank you Carla for sending the petition. I remember reading something about this “experiment” a few months ago. I plan to forward the petition so more people can sign it and be made aware of this.

    3. TBellT

      How is this privatizing Medicare? Medicare is still in charge of paying for the services and setting the rates.

      If you want a National Health Service say that. But this maintains the relationship of private providers, who have been ripping off Medicare for decades and will continue to do so. I don’t see the difference from our status quo.

      1. Yves Smith

        Wowsers, you really need to bone up.

        Medicare Advantage are PRIVATE contractors that profit by taking Medicare fees but restricting participants to narrow networks. They often add bells and whistles that sound great on TV ads (the fact that these plans are profitable enough to hire actors like William Shatner as their front men should send big red lights flashing) but are designed to be not usable in practice.

        My mother just paid $30,000 for care not covered by her Medicare Advantage plan that would have been covered had she stuck to traditional Medicare A and B. Thank goodness she has the dough.

        1. TBellT

          Sorry if I wasn’t clear but I am talking about specifically DCEs. DCEs are not given the leeway that MA orgs are. Because the patients are still covered under traditional Medicare, DCEs can not restrict their patients to narrow networks and can not change benefits or offer supplemental.

          I’m sorry to hear about your mother getting screwed over by her plan. I agree that MA is a scam. It has gotten such large membership (now somewhere between 40-50% of Medicare benes) because of how it spreads the bait and switch over time. Often it could be a few dollars cheaper early in retirement when health issues are sparse and routine care is all that’s necessary. However it becomes a big loser to traditional Medicare when serious health problems arise, it’s why you see things like higher movement from MA back to FFS for people in last year of life.

  4. Wukchumni

    A video of a mom & cub, the former being a 2-tone model that looks like she got into some hydrogen peroxide, we call em’… ‘Billy Idol Bears’.

    According to the fire department, Task Force 5179 was approached by a couple of cute bears as they prepared structure defenses against the KNP Complex Fire in Three Rivers.

    “Please remember as cute as they may be, we remind everyone to not attempt to approach bears or feed them so they can stay healthy and wild,” Said Tulare County Fire Department.

  5. The Rev Kev

    “Age of Invention: The New Space Empires”

    These days reading stuff like this is kinda sad. Colonies on other planets, extracting raw materials from asteroids and other planets, space merchants and all the rest of it. Look, I have always been a space enthusiast but with that comes acknowledging what can and can’t be done. Assuming that all this is going to happen is like an economist saying ‘Assume a can-opener.’ But none of this is really going to happen unless we develop some Star Trek-style navigational deflector screens first to protect any crew from radiation is space which rules out a mission to Mars alone until it can be solved much less the rest of the system.

    So what does going into space look like at the moment. Well, you have the US Space Force determined to dominate space – but just for security you understand. We have billionaires that have pushed their way in and they are mostly just doing carnival rides for other billionaires. The ‘feats’ that they do were all done about 50 or 60 years ago and yet we are supposed to praise them to the heavens. Yeah, there are movements to go back to the moon but usually these billionaires just sue each other when they don’t get a juicy contract so its hard to see if it will be actually done. As a kid I had hoped for a Gene Roddenberry version of space but instead it looks like we will get the Weyland-Yutani Corporation version instead. But I sometimes think of how it still could be- (4:00 mins)

    1. griffen

      That article was a good read. Highlighted history about the Dutch I was unaware of. Maritime law equivalent to space mining law? I’m not up to speed on the intricate nature of maritime legal precedence.

      First movers might just take all they can. Sorta like the Bezos approach, scorched Earth becomes scorched Mars next 20 to 50 years.

    2. Wukchumni

      As a kid I had hoped the airline stewardesses would be as hawt and provocatively dressed-when I grew up, but no more miss adventures.

      In terms of ownership of up over, you’ll have to talk to the NOCS.

      The Nation of Celestial Space (also known as Celestia) is a micronation created by Evergreen Park, Illinois, resident James Thomas Mangan. Celestia comprised the entirety of “outer space”, which Mangan laid claim to on behalf of humanity to ensure that no one country might establish a political hegemony there. As “Founder and First Representative”, he registered this acquisition with the Recorder of Deeds and Titles of Cook County on January 1, 1949. At its foundation Celestia claimed to have 19 members, among them Mangan’s daughter Ruth; a decade later a booklet published by the group claimed that membership had grown to 19,057.

      Mangan was active for many years in pursuing his claims on behalf of Celestia; in 1949 he notified the United States, Soviet Union, United Kingdom and United Nations that Celestia had banned all further atmospheric nuclear tests. Later, as the space race got underway in earnest he sent angry letters of protest to the leaders of the Soviet Union and United States on the occasions that their early space flights encroached upon his “territory” – although he later waived these proscriptions to allow for satellite launches by the latter.

    3. Mantid

      Also, it’s a distraction. The task at hand is to stabilize and possibly “save” or existence on Earth. Our house is on fire and all of our money and assets are in a shoe box on the kitchen counter – yet people are writing about going next door and seeing if that house is for sale. Life is a question of priorities – space is not a priority right now unless we can land and somehow live and prosper on a different planet within 10- 15 years. Let’s stay focused people – keep your eyes on the ball, the big blue one just east of Venus.

  6. PlutoniumKun

    Re: Evergrande

    Michael Pettis on twitter says that rumours are swirling of arrests to be made of both Evergrande executives and some government officials. Presumably for fraud. This is certainly one way of squaring the circle of bailing out creditors while enforcing moral hazard.

    1. The Rev Kev

      They arrested both Evergrande executives and some government officials? Are they allowed to do that? Can’t see the same happening in the west. Well, not since Enron and that was twenty years ago. It sounds like Evergrande will not be offered the standard treatment where they pay a nominal fine but make an agreement that they cannot in future be taken back to court in connection with their crimes, that they never have to admit guilt or liability, and that no executive will ever go to prison for the crimes that they committed. They must do stuff different in China.

      1. Wukchumni

        Lost fortune cookie saying:

        ‘It isn’t as if you didn’t know about the ghost cities Evergrande was building and all that other shady business, oh and by the way, that isn’t really chicken.’

      2. Kelly in Texas

        There was Bernie. But he practically arrested himself. Plus he didn’t contribute to the RNC I guess.

      3. Procopius

        Assuming you’re not being sarcastic, every Chinese dynasty since the Ch’in in 252 BC have had very strict legal regimes. Beheading was one of the more merciful punishments. And officials have always often been as subject to punishment as civilians. Usually they start to gain impunity late in the dynasty, which then loses the mandate of heaven.

    2. skippy

      Cough …. the last time the U.S. tried to blow up the worlds financial system China just shoved all the NPLs into AMLs and poof ~~~~~ down the memory hole ….

      So for those that think money is something it is not and make absurd statements about hyperinflation from an A historical commodity money bias, wellie seems some learned nothing in all the years NC and others have diligently tried to inform otherwise.

      Best bit is its the inflationistias that helped drive the cramming down of labours share of profit/value …

      Round of applause for yourselves ….

  7. griffen

    Mr. Market’s offspring, Crypto, is having a real sad this Friday morning. China is saying mean things about it. I can’t imagine a worse headline to end a market week for the sector.

    Come on all you diamond hands!

  8. petal

    I put a card in the mail to Craig Murray yesterday. Thank you to paul for posting the mailing address. It was a tiny, tiny thing, but I hope it brightens his day a little.

            1. Eustachedesaintpierre

              I had already written down the address but have since been wondering what I should write, that might give him some respite. I also realised that aside from some of his blog posts over the last few years that I did not know much about him, so perhaps not the best place but I looked him up on Wiki & from that it is obvious to me at least, why those at the top table would want to tie down someone who for them must be a loose cannon.

              Maybe I will just ramble on about someone who was also always a distinct thorn in the side of the establishment, who was born into poverty in Edinburgh, went to work at 5 years old, joined the British Army, moved to Ireland became a union leader & took a central part in a failed rebellion to be imprisoned while around 700 business leaders sent a petition to the Brits, demanding that he should be shot – which he was, tied to a chair due to his wounds.

              I’m currently working on a portrait bust of that great man who came from nothing, so will add some pics & maybe bore him to death in regard to the process involved from start to casting & finishing Mr. James Connolly.

                1. Eustachedesaintpierre

                  Yes, you are of course correct & I’m sure he is well aware of Connolly’s story – just wish I could do more as was the case with Assange.

  9. paul

    RE: The Importance of Murray.

    One of Graham’s conclusions, that the law is an ass, is far too mild and an insult to the animal kingdom.
    The vindictive nature of the prosecution,verdict and judgement is all too human, arising from a collection of psycopathic inadequates who should hold no public position whatsoever.

    The recent actions of the first minister are pure bunker stuff; the replacement of Joanna Cherry QC with a failed drama student (judging by her performance so far she trained with marcel marceau) as justice shadow at westminster, the banning of protests at holyrood after a few boos and the alliance with the likemindedly sex obsessed greens are truly desperate measures.

    Just incidentally, the first proper independence march in the capital for 2 years has been refused permission at the last minute (the application went in a mere 8 months ago). It’ll still go ahead but only in the park.

    The SNP, curiously, had no qualms about allowing a large and provocative sectarian march in glasgow last week. But then, they aren’t the enemy.

  10. Questa Nota

    I think it’s also indicative of like the way these companies see us. They don’t see us as being sophisticated. It’s a problem of scale. These companies are so big, with so many users, they legitimately can’t think in terms of a single user. And so these companies start to see people less like humans with agency and more like of caricatures in these different, generalized buckets. I think this mindset helps explain their process of getting people to give up their data. They ultimately don’t care about your personal sense of right and wrong or what feels okay to you and what doesn’t feel okay. They’re not thinking about your agency. They want to be profitable because they’re a company and that’s their job. And, at the end of the day, you might feel upset over what they’ve done but hey, you’re just one user. You’re not really part of that calculus.

    From the internet original sin ad article.

    Now expand that to include the PE firms, attorneys, financiers and others in that, er, ecosystem. There is a systemic need a better word that isn’t so overused corruption that is not easy to identify or communicate, given the above and the unbalanced media landscape. Think of it as data farming with toxic chemicals, with the expected long term results on the soil of humanity.

    1. Michael

      Good read from a couple of insiders.
      Hoisted from the comments:
      “”Shoshana Zuboff in The Age of Surveillance Capitalism refers to legal scholar Margaret Radin’s work highlighting the “devolution” of contracts from “the sacred notions of ‘agreement’ and ‘promise’ so critical to the evolution of the institution of contract since Roman times. … Radin calls this ‘private eminent domain,’ a unilateral seizure of rights without consent. She regards such ‘contracts’ as a moral and democratic ‘degradation’ of the rule of law and the institution of contract, a perversion that restructures the rights of users granted through democratic processes…””

    2. Ignacio

      Reading the article I had trouble with the part that says how many mom and pop small companies depend on Facebook ad business. It might be the case in the US, I don’t know, but where I live I do not buy it.

      1. jsn

        You live somewhere that’s prevented the complete hollowing out of local news.

        The death of local news papers and their classified adds has forced many small US businesses to rely on Facebook.

        I personally know dozens of artisans and crafts people who maintain their small, local market positions through this execrable medium. TINA, sadly true in much of the US.

    3. Ignacio

      One day I did an internet search on a scam which is based on the sale of condensers that supposedly allow to reduce energy power and electricity bills. Pure bullshit, condensers are great but for large high-power consumers with lots of reactive energy usage, not the case of households. Since I did the search I usually find these ads on energy saving boxes that I know for certain to be a scam.
      Very much of the online ad business is garbage of this kind. I just don’t understand, really don’t, how so many supposedly mom&pop small business like to spend serious amounts of money in online marketing adventures. At least, those that live from something other than single clicks. A black hole isn’t it?

      1. jsn

        They’re not spending money, they’re using the platform as a web site and then optimizing for distribution through the hosts algos.

        That’s as close as I’ve gotten to it, sorry I can’t be more specific.

  11. Watt4Bob

    On the gun-violence/crime question;

    The neo-liberal boot-on-the-neck results in world-wide humiliation imposed on the folks being stomped on.

    In foreign lands, where there is less confusion over the source of the boots, the rage results in the sort of resistance that is called ‘terrorism’ by America’s elite.

    Here at home, the gradual immiseration of the working class has resulted in the same humiliation and rage, but so far, there is an immense confusion among the humiliated as to the source of their plight.

    Humiliated and enraged Americans have been so successfully propagandized that they are unable to form a clear understanding of the origin of their misery, instead, they accept the various perennial myths propagated by our rich and powerful to place the blame somewhere other than on themselves.

    IMO, while there are certainly many who buy the lie that poor people of color, and illegal immigrants are to blame for their problems, there are also vast numbers of people whose ever increasing economic misery has resulted in an unfocused, but seething rage that takes less and less irritation to reach the breaking point, and it’s these folks who are lashing out in what seems like ‘senseless’ violence.

    And then there’s the fact that there is virtually no effective counter to the myth-making, NC being one of the every few exceptions that proves the rule.

    1. Henry Moon Pie

      I agree with everything you wrote if only we can delve into this “misery” thing and its sources some more.

      Being born in the early 1950s and growing up around grandparents who raised a family in the Depression on a union man’s wage, I’d have to say that the living standards even in my poor neighborhood in Cleveland equal what I grew up with, and that they exceed the material standards of my grandparents in many ways. And that’s before we get into any comparisons with people living in the non-rich world.

      Yet the misery is very real and getting to the point of being dangerous as you point out. What are its sources? For one, people compare their standard of living not to what is necessary or essential but to their neighbors, and “neighbor” includes the ads they see and the lives they see their friends and family living on Facebook There’s an aspect of this quest for social status in all of us, but it has been exploited and magnified to the point of obsession through the efforts of the Madmen. We are all constantly pushed toward discontent. Nothing is ever enough. Everything must get better and better…and newer.

      Everyone immersed in this culture, outside the billionaires, experiences some degree of “misery” even if they have a 2,500 sq. ft. house because a 3,500 sq. ft. house would be so much better. Those of us at the bottom of the scale, if we’re well basted in Bernays sauce, are looking out at a magic world on the screen with incredulity at the opulence of it all. The two ways my neighbors can ever imagine acquiring such wealth given their starting point are best illustrated by the length of the lines buying Powerball tickets at the convenience store and the murder stats in our town where the mayor’s grandson, accused of a gang hit himself, was shot and killed. I think it’s worse in the white suburbs where things keep slipping from people but it appears from their TV stream and the Facebook feed that things keep getting better and better.

      That’s the consuming side of our beloved homo economicus. On the production side, there has been straight-out immiseration with longer working hours, dwindling or disappearing benefits, wages failing to keep up with productivity increases. Add to that ever-increasing precarity in the labor market, and that can generate a lot of anxiety and depression.

      Then add the much higher debt loads working people carry now, and it’s little wonder things are like a powder keg.

      And finally, add the effective destruction of the household over the past 50 years. Many families before that relied quite successfully on what they did for themselves from food preservation to making clothes to caring for the elderly in the family. The outsourcing of all that has freed women, primarily PMC women, to pursue career dreams, but for the families of women working in daycares or Walmart or waiting tables, it’s represented a major loss of well being, and for the women as well as their families.

      Why does our understanding of “misery” and its sources matter? Maybe we can make people’s lives better without raising the median household income by: reducing precarity by guaranteeing decent housing, healthcare, education and food; strengthening households rather than undermining them; and shutting down advertising that is anything but delivering accurate information about a product.

      1. Watt4Bob

        For one, people compare their standard of living not to what is necessary or essential but to their neighbors, and “neighbor” includes the ads they see and the lives they see their friends and family living on Facebook There’s an aspect of this quest for social status in all of us, but it has been exploited and magnified to the point of obsession through the efforts of the Madmen.

        I’ve been amazed at an ad run recently by Amazon, wherein a friendly immigrant from the Philippines, I think, tells a story of loosing family members to Covid, but Amazon helps him with tuition so he’s become a medical assistant, and is working to become an RN. Then he is shown leaving an opulent home, giving the impression that somehow Amazon has enabled him to afford a bright future.

        The only way this young man could afford the home he is shown leaving would be if his parents were hugely successful. He could never afford that house working at his Amazon warehouse job, his new “medical assistant” job or even the RN job he aspires to.

        The whole ad is a big lie, just what you’d expect from the Space Cowboy.

      2. CloverBee

        Most men can no longer support a family on his own income in the most basic sense, and employment is so precarious that if both parents don’t work, the likelihood of losing all income seems just a day away at all times. Add to this single parents, and the need to maintain exorbitant health insurance, and it isn’t just about consumption.

        The misery is about not having enough down time to relax, grow as a person, or spend time with your kids. It is sucked up with errands, running kids around, kids homework, and probably a side hustle to help you get ahead. Everything is a tax on time. I spend more time paying the Dr bills than I do with a Dr. Want the best price? Shop around, more time driving and dealing with crowded, miserable stores. Want time off, don’t anyone in the family get sick all year!

        The narrative you present feeds the lie that the poor just need buy less. The ability to raise and preserve vegetables is something most Americans, much less Americans with kids, don’t have that kind of time. I don’t watch TV, and it sucks up my summer and fall free time to do it. It costs me more to do it than it saves.

        1. Henry Moon Pie

          “The narrative you present feeds the lie that the poor just need buy less.”

          I did a poor job of presenting my thoughts then. To the contrary, the poor don’t need to buy less. What I’m saying is we don’t need to buy more. We need the precarity reduced in our lives with exactly the kinds of things you’re talking about: health care taken care of w/o a Philadelphia lawyer’s list of deductibles and co-pays; a UBI that provides the basics without the need for a job; education with enough quality that our kids won’t end up as castoffs in society before they even begin; and care not warehousing for the elderly. But the poor don’t all need an SUV and a house in the suburbs. That’s a dream that should never have been realized.

          We have to reduce energy consumption and consumption generally as fast as possible. That need not come from the poor in rich countries, but my opinion, from the inside, so to speak, is that the poor in this country also do not need to see a big boost in standard of living. What’s needed is a huge reduction in precarity. The poor abroad are the ones who still need to be brought up. But that’s my opinion. It’s something the world should be talking about so there’s plenty of input about what’s just.

          1. CloverBee

            That sounds much more like we agree. The precarity is astounding, and I well remember my own. The memory of being wondering if my credit card would work when I bought groceries governs much of my behavior. The most important step in removal of excess consumption, not necessarily spending, would be closing Amazon. How often have I seen normal people decide to buy something on Amazon in the course of conversation, using that app. Obnoxious.

            I haven’t watched TV since about 2001, when a house with a worn couch and working class dad (a la Everybody Loves Raymond) was the norm. It still seemed unrealistic, but at least not drastically different. Being short of money was still discussed regularly. Perhaps TV has changed a lot, a la the Kardashians. Maybe that is the source of the comparison you are referring to?

      3. Tom Stone

        Henry, you are describing an equitable and stable society, one where the rulers are sane enough to see the value in a somewhat smaller slice of a much, much bigger pie.
        The USA has abandoned the Rule of Law and we are ruled by a corrupt elite that is spectacularly incompetent.
        Look at the murder of 16 year old American Citizen Abdul-Rahman Al AwLaki and note the “Collateral Damage”, the number of people who were in the wrong place at the right time.
        HSBC gets caught laudering huge sums for the Mexican Drug Cartels, the same drug Cartels that the US DOJ to sell thousands of firearms to, those guns were used in nearly 2,000 murders.
        It’s a long list…
        And the US response to this pandemic is shameful, “Let ‘Er Rip” is the policy adopted by default.
        To the vast profit of a few.
        I keep thinking of Marek’s disease, the percentage of Americans who are vaccinated and the large number of African Americans who are not vaccinated
        It’s an easy way to thin the herd “Mistakes were made”, “If only they had followed the Science!”
        I miss living in a high trust society…

    2. Phil

      Frantz Fanon described this phenomenon in the early 1960s. Looking at the situation in colonial North Africa, he argued that “[t]he colonized man will first manifest this aggressiveness which has been deposited in his bones against his own people. This is the period when the n****s beat each other up, and the police and magistrates do not know which way to turn when faced with the astonishing waves of crime”.

      1. Wukchumni

        The only place awash in weapons as America is now, was Africa in the 80’s & 90’s, and The World’s Most Dangerous Places by Robert Young Pelton in 1994 made for most interesting timing, for African countries dominated the book it seemed like in my armchair travels along with Pelton to each hell whole.

  12. Wandering Mind

    Re Pettis on the “burden” of the reserve currency.

    What is unclear to me about Pettis is where he stands regarding money creation. He seems to subscribe to the “excess savings” theory, but does not explain the mechanism for the creation of the money that then leads to savings/investments.

    I.e., where do the dollars which China and other exporting countries then invest in U.S. Treasuries come from?

    It seems to me that if the United States had an industrial policy that included a jobs guarantee and focused on establishing autarky, at least for essential areas of the economy, then the constraint would not be a monetary constraint, but a resource constraint.

    I.e. the United States, as a country which issues its own currency and issues debt instruments payable in its own currency, is not dependent on private sector “savings” to finance public projects. Instead, the Congress has the power to order the central bank to create sufficient dollars to fund its projects.

    This power is obvious in the case of the Congress funding warfare, as in the Civil War and the First and Second World War.

    And Keynes seemed to recognize this in his essay “How to pay for the war.”

    But I have not seen Pettis address this argument directly.

  13. Wukchumni

    I write often of the yin & yang of the USSR & USA collapsing in diametrically opposed ways only to get the same result in the end.

    The Soviet bloc party pre-dated digital money so everything was in paper money which had little value within the country as there was scant to buy in the way of consumer items, with selection iffy and you never knew when you might eventually get to purchase a new Lada if ever?

    Bloc party currency had scant value in the west back then, of what use was it when the countries in which it came from had nothing to spend it on.

    In theory a Soviet Ruble was worth $1.75, in practice worth 30 Cents in the west, maybe.

    The American collapse post-dated paper money as most everything was denominated in digital money, when as the almighty buck which had been a bulwark of worth, diminished in value and not only that, but then shortages of everything started happening, most apparent in new car dealerships, an integral component of the Car Go Cult.

    Who ever thought the rapture would be 4 wheels bad, but there is no there, there now, that new car smell. There’s a precious few new ones available I hear, if you’re willing to devalue the worth of your $’s by paying $5-10k over sticker.

    1. ilpalazzo

      Money in the Soviet bloc was just a pretend money, there were other ways to distribute goods than market. Most workplaces had “deputates” for workers – allowances of essential goods like coal, milk, other stuff. Also “borrowing” stuff from your workplace was common and looked upon with a blind eye.

      There was a (truthful) joke in my neck of the woods about a bridge that has been built that from the cement that was procured for its construction a whole settlement had arisen next to it. Many stories like that. Being a truck driver or crane operator made you a gas distributor for the community. Other essential goods were rationed and the coupons for rations were distributed at workplace together with your wages making a kind of secondary currency.

      My parents built a home early eighties which supposedly was the worst time for the “economy” with martial law and all. They are common people, kindergarten teacher (at the state farm) and road construction surveyor turned beekeper after his father, yet the house has hardwood floors and inch thick oak boards staircase (notably badly fitted but still). My father said there were just no other material, they made a wood delivery at the local farmer’s coop yard and he had an agreement with personnel there and was on a waiting list. He paid some token money for it but otherwise it was social currency rather than money involved.

      The distribution of goods in the society seemed to be based on social means rather than currency and I can’t say it was a bad thing other than it made accounting difficult (and look bad in the end).

  14. The Rev Kev

    “Australians Need To Decide If This Is The Kind Of Country We Want To Live In From Now On”

    Caitlin lives in Melbourne so probably had a very good seat to watch what was going on. Certainly the police units have been going in heavy handed as seen by the tackle on this guy at Melbourne’s Flinders Street Railway Station- (12 secs)

    What really interests me is how these police came by their training. Those military style police may have been Victoria’s Police Public Order Response Team which was created only ten years ago and which has been undergoing a lot of equipping over the years. But who trained them? Went looking and it seems that they were trained by the Australian Defence Forces which does not seem wise. There is a huge difference between the thinking of a soldier and a cop – or there should be. The following article talks about this creeping militarization here and how it attracts the wrong sort of recruit. But I would not mind betting that some of those police went to places like Israel, the UK and the US for extra training in riot control-

    1. Wukchumni

      The long arm of the law was max mad in Melbourne, but if somebody doesn’t get it on video did it really happen?

      Been watching the militarization of the police here in the states, and a lot of it emanates from the North Hollywood Shootout about 25 years ago when LAPD realized the bank robber bad guys were better armed than them, and it escalated in scale and scope. One thing I noticed was you’ll sometimes see a copper with bloused pants, as in what a paratrooper would do.

    2. Glossolalia

      Australians were applauded in follow-the-science circles for their tolerance of constant lockdowns to flatten the curve, which perhaps it did. But maybe an unintended consequence is that the more you defer to authority the more that authority feels comfortable imposing its self on its citizens and needs the heavy handed policing to do it. I don’t that toothpaste is going back in the tube.

      1. Basil Pesto

        There weren’t “constant lockdowns”. There were intermittent lockdowns last year, culminating in a long lockdown of 3-4 months in Victoria (the consequence of negligent handling of hotel quarantines for incoming travellers). This was not done to “flatten the curve”, it was done to eliminate the virus from Australia, which it did. Consequently, Australia compared favourably with many countries that did not take the virus seriously in 2020 in terms of rights and freedoms, while outperforming them drastically on mortality (right to life, of course, is also a well established human right). Most states only undertook short lockdowns, if any, as longer ones weren’t necessary.

        The lockdown in Melbourne last year was not heavy handed (I live there). Fairly large fines were given to those found not abiding by the rules. Government provided pecuniary support which helped people cope. Support of this kind in 2021 lockdown has been a bit spottier.

        In 2021 there were only a handful of ‘snap’ lockdowns in the country, ranging from iirc 4 days to 3 weeks, on a state-by-state basis. Otherwise there was more or less complete freedom until June – including a brief quarantine-free travel bubble with New Zealand – because the virus had been eliminated.

        Delta arrived in Sydney and NSW imposed a half-arsed lockdown that was destined to fail from the beginning. The virus then went to Victoria in late June. There was a lockdown for three weeks; the virus was brought under control again, there was an easing of restrictions for a couple of weeks, then the virus came back. With a vaccine on the horizon which is still messaged as ‘the way out of the pandemic’, the Victorian government went relatively lax on the lockdown + masking strategy. Most egregiously, as I have reported here repeatedly, they neglected their proven successful strategy at Covid elimination, failed to use updated intelligence on masking to improve their masking advice to the public (they’re still woefully behind, and even guidance in the USA from the CDC is better, but mask mandates are far spottier!), and have chose to focus on a vaccine drive instead. So this current lockdown isn’t so much a ‘flatten the curve’ lockdown as a ‘try to keep things from spiralling out of control until we reach a more or less arbitrary target of 70% vaccinated adults’ lockdown.

        Generally speaking, there has been no particular deference to authority, and abiding by the covid restrictions has been a fairly communal effort. People have just got on with it, without enjoying it, because they understand it’s a sensible and helpful thing to do (Victoria only needs to look to NSW for evidence of the ravages that a loose lockdown can cause to the public health system). Vic Police shithousery is a longstanding issue that precedes Victoria’s public health emergency measures.


        Johnstone is wrong as a matter of fact. Victoria, which Melbourne is the capital of, does have a rights statute. It’s not the strongest human rights instrument in the world, to be sure, as far as questions of enforcement and remedies go. I would need to read more academic papers to have a better idea of its effect since it was implemented. But it is there. It’s clear from its text that a complaint could be made, most likely under section 10. As far as I’m aware, there’s nothing in the Victorian Covid emergency legislation that overrides the Charter Act in allowing cruel/inhuman/degrading treatment on the part of the police.

        Complaints about police misconduct in Victoria including in relation to the Charter Act, are made to the Independent Broad-Based Anti-Corruption Commission (IBAC).

        Complaints regarding local government transgressions of the Charter Act on human rights that don’t relate specifically to police are to be made to the Victorian Ombudsman (my tentative opinion, though, is that for these protestors a complaint under section 10 is the only one that would have legs).

        It is, I suppose, a bit much to expect someone who doubtless fancies themselves as a champion of rights to know what they’re talking about. But to sign off with a vague call for change, improvement, betterment etc. without giving concerned readers a link to or any information about the public institutions that exist to address the exact things she’s worried about, is fundamentally unserious.

      1. Carolinian

        Gad. Perhaps they should take a tip from Nancy and build temp walls around important memorials.

        As for the overreaction, perhaps the Aussie TPTB figured give em an inch and next thing you know they’ll be protesting those submarines.

        There’s a story up in Links about the increasing murder (not crime) rate and there’s been a lot of it in my town too. Obviously Americans have lots of guns and itchy trigger fingers. But it’s almost as though the Aussies want to make the point of the rightwing gun humpers. Here, these days, the police seem to be afraid of even making traffic stops. That’s not a good thing, but when the police start shooting rubber bullets it becomes and armed conflict (if the populace is armed). Dialing back the threat escalation would be a good idea for down under I think.

  15. nvl

    On the topic of transmission in enclosed public spaces: Yesterday’s quiz from the MTA did not list, among the many choices listed for not taking the subway, or taking it less frequently, did NOT include such beauties as– scared I might get CoVID or too many unmasked talkers or a quarter of the passengers my train yesterday were improperly masked or the need to change cars during my trip due to the half-masked sneezer behind me or cars way too crowded for public safety…

    On the other hand, there was theatrical display, also yesterday, of transit police officers photographed handing out masks. Oh, yes we might or might not start enforcing was the attitude conveyed by the accompanying official statements.

    Hopeless stupidity. More of it.

    About six weeks after the subways reopened in 2020 I called the office of the Manhattan Borough President about the inadequate signage. She answered the phone! And listening to me, agreed, contributed her own ideas, then said: “What do you want me to do about it?” Hmm. I don’t have a soapbox, nor previous pre-pandemic meetings with MTA officials nor an annual budget of 100 million dollars. Gobsmacked. And how lovely that since then Brewer has been frequently photographed with young interns or volunteers, handing out masks blah blah blah.

    Hopeless lack of leadership. Delta, the subway is yours to exploit. Bet is on that many of the unmasked are also unvaccinated, but who knows, who will ever know?

    1. Pat

      I have been known to give deBlasio a break, but his uselessness was on impressive display when he flat out said that no help would be given on mask mandates for the MTA and presumably everywhere else by the NYPD.

      Transit cops do not ride the buses, and bad masking is rampant there. The only enforcement authority with any power near them are cops on the street. I find it really bad form for the mayor to essentially tell me it is up to the passengers to police a health and safety requirement and to not bother the police.

    2. jr

      Sing it to the heavens. I’ve had, and I mean have been forced by circumstance, to take the L train a few times over the last couple of months. Few as in can be counted on one hand. I have to time my trips between the early morning crowd and basically anything after 1 PM or it’s like a cattle car.

      No masks, half masks, masks over Bunyan style beards, near useless surgical masks everywhere. People hacking and braying and singing, shouting into their phones, you name it. The crown jewel was the genius who took off his mask in order to sneeze!!!. I literally flung myself back through the doors I had just entered while everyone else, excepting one young lady who looked as terrified as I did and who ran out with me, politely sat with that near-endemic attitude of “nothing breaks my façade” and breathed in his effluvia.

      No one is going to take any steps against this, no one can. There wasn’t really a chance when COVID broke, given the disarray we live in, and there sure as hell isn’t one now. There is no political will, there is no social cohesion: it’s just the reflective versus the howling mob. Any effort to do so will only be tossed into the maelstrom of polarization and political opportunism. Devil take the hindmost.

        1. jr

          Agreed, I always have been on my own more or less and that has served me well this last year and a half but the collective insanity around me is what’s left me wide-eyed. I know people are misinformed and manipulated about masking and whatever but it’s deeper than that. It’s this attitude of being inconvenienced by all this, like it’s just some hassle that needs to go away, like they have a right to not be bothered by the universe.

          I recently texted a family member about the gargling and my partner told me not to bother. They don’t want to take safer steps, they just want it to all go away. It doesn’t matter if it might actually save their motherfu(I{!n@ lives, or their kids lives, that it’s a simple step that they very likely do anyway requiring only a different brand of mouthwash. They don’t want to be reminded, they want DreamTime back, they want to slip back into their routines.

          None of them are ready for what is coming. COVID, as all of us here know very well, is only one of a posse of dire Horsemen bearing down on us. Never have I been more disgusted to be a human being. Never have I felt less attached to this pack of screeching, hooting chimps. I’m manic and I haven’t slept right for days because I quit pot and my shrink has warned me when I start referring to others as apes it’s probably time to meditate or pill up so I’m going to go do both. The Aeon needs to end and the aliens need to take over, post haste.

          Sorry for the rant. It’s been tough going without the weed.

          1. nvl

            “Right not to be bothered by…” is an explanation I not thought of. Fatigue, indifference
            because deluded, maliciousness, not understanding that our plague virus sets up shop in the nose, orders out for pizza, invites friends over for a sex party…a couple of times I have said this, turning the matter into a joke, starting or ending with it’s for your benefit, to cover your nose. And usually with a man young enough to think I am his mother or grandmother, who is mildly stunned by the image of what might happen inside of one’s nose; it’s worked.

            Self-medication really does help! Could be GABA with matcha or GABA with taurine or GABA with CBD. Otherwise there are subway trips that leave one needing an extra three or four hours of sleep.

            In Washington Square Park one can buy a selection of pastries infused with different strains of pot. As I’ve no idea how I’d be dosing myself, I’ve not tried this.

            Good luck!!!

      1. nvl

        I’ve seen the ‘remove the mask to sneeze’ bit. Once it was so that the person
        could sneeze into his arm. But, hey at that time all the subway signs were indicating…

        Only bright spot is the sympathetic, knowing gaze exchanged between
        oneself and whomever else is fleeing that car with you- a bit of humanity.

  16. antidlc

    A Daily Pill to Treat Covid Could Be Just Months Away, Scientists Say

    At least three promising antivirals for covid are being tested in clinical trials, with results expected as soon as late fall or winter, said Carl Dieffenbach, director of the Division of AIDS at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who is overseeing antiviral development.

    “I think that we will have answers as to what these pills are capable of within the next several months,” Dieffenbach said.

    The top contender is a medication from Merck & Co. and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics called molnupiravir, Dieffenbach said. This is the product being tested in the Kellys’ Seattle trial. Two others include a candidate from Pfizer, known as PF-07321332, and AT-527, an antiviral produced by Roche and Atea Pharmaceuticals.

      1. Eureka Springs

        … Might recall Merck makes Ivermectin aka STROMECTOL. Mix in some D and zinc, a new name for it all and raise the price on a daily dosage.

    1. Maritimer

      Las Vegas store requires proof-of-horse photo to deter customers seeking ivermectin for COVID-19
      “The sign itself says: “Ivermectin will only be sold to horse owners *Must show pic of you and your horse*”.”

      Fell on the floor horse-laughing at this item. A riot on multiple levels, pick your own.

      Las Vegas, vice capital of the US, worried about hoss paste. A proper sense of priorities.

      And the US Government, blocking efficacious treatments at every turn, complains when folks try to act in their own interest.

      Calling all Unvaccinated Stand Up Comedians, time for a Covid Madness Show. New boffo material being written free every day.

  17. antidlc

    C.D.C. Chief Overrules Panel; Recommends Pfizer Booster for Workers at Risk

    Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the C.D.C. director, reversed a move by agency advisers and endorsed boosters for health care workers, teachers and others.
    Her highly unusual decision aligns with the F.D.A.’s recommendation and helps President Biden’s plan to make booster shots available to more Americans.

    1. Jason Boxman

      There is no alternative! This is what happens when vaccination is the only strategy in play, and dovetails nicely with the rush to grant full authorization to the Pfizer vaccine recently without a public hearing.

  18. Jason Boxman

    So it’s amazing that it’s been like 18 months, and we still have Establishment media misreporting that herd immunity is some kind of obtainable goal:

    Immunizing that population could be critical to attaining herd immunity and protecting those disproportionately affected by the pandemic. But public health officials have, so far, struggled to reach young adults, Blacks, Hispanics and uninsured people, groups who are unvaccinated but willing at higher rates.

    Thanks Washington Post!

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      From the article:

      “You can certainly put together a system in a couple of big suitcases that will allow you to put it in a van or an SUV,” Lin, professor emeritus in the electrical and computer engineering department at the University of Illinois, said. “It’s not something that you need to have enormous amounts of space or equipment to do it.”

      Have any of the reports spotted any such thing? (“A couple of big suitcases” is pretty vague, as is “inside a car.”)

      I mean, if a trench-coated Russki approached you dragging two suitcases….

      1. hunkerdown

        But they can’t possibly see where to aim that focused beam unless they have some way to see through the walls. Conveniently, “through-the-wall radar imaging” is a thing, and could indeed explain the whole phenomenon. Ground-penetrating radar equipment is about the size of a large gas-powered push mower, so Lin’s claim of feasibility checks out. On the other hand, they could push a lot of power through a directional antenna and blanket a whole wing or building with the same waveforms, targeting a power density similar to that of the focused design.

        There are devices that can capture wideband direct-RF spectrographs. Until I see one, and I doubt that I ever will, I consider this whole microwave weapon thing more consistent with Geordi LaForge’s first psyop, in Rovian fashion “attack[ing] their strengths” in weapons technology. I consider the “we abandoned the unsafe technology, but THEY…” transition repeated at least twice in the article as a tell.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > they have some way to see through the walls.

          Russians have super-powers. Everybody knows that.

          To me, the question isn’t so much the technology but how is it operationalized? Small truck, car, heavy suitcase, teams to handle everything, getting the equipment and the teams across borders — how many of these things would the Russians have had to lug around and (as you point out) successfully position (covertly) and aim to give an account of all the cases? What’s the epidemiology of it all?

          Besides that, what’s the goal? To make our national security establishment more crazy?

          Note, by the way, that mass hysteria can give an account of the epidemiology, and doesn’t pose any of the logistical problems, because there are no logistics in the first place. So, by Occam’s Razor….

  19. Sub-Boreal

    Re: “Health Equity Tourists”

    This is just an unsurprising case study of how the academic ecosystem normally functions, fer petes sake! Cycles of fad & fashion are Just The Way Things Work.

    Adept academic entrepreneurs will always trample established specialists in subfields that suddenly become sexy. Except that in this instance the trampling involved some tripwires of idpol, so it got noticed.

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