Links 9/25/2021

Busy beaver believed to be behind brief blaze by Benson Lake OregonLive (Heresy101)

Something Large Just Smashed Into Jupiter Science Alert (Chuck L)

747-sized asteroid skimmed by Earth, and scientists didn’t see it coming Jerusalem Post. Chuck L: “While on the subject of space rocks.”

World’s Largest Carbon Capture Plant Opens in Iceland Smithsonian Magazine (furzy)

You Think That Fresh Water Is Valuable On The Moon? Try The Earth! Forbes (David L)

In the American Southwest, the Energy Problem Is Water IEEE Spectrum (Chuck L)


Major triaging has begun in Alberta hospitals, emergency doctor says Edmonton Journal (guurst)


The Lab-Leak Debate Just Got Even Messier Atlantic (David L)

Household COVID-19 risk and in-person schooling Science


Federal contractors must ensure employees are fully vaccinated by December Politico. As I read this, no frequent testing out.

ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFFS’ PETITION FOR TEMPORARY INJUNCTION. With respect to a vaccine mandate by the city of Gainesville. City didn’t even bother making a case.

Vaccine ‘mix-and-match’: I got the Moderna vaccine. Can I get a Pfizer booster? NBC (furzy). These articles are hard to swallow. How many in America are dumb enough not to have worked out you can schedule a vaccine appointment and no one is going to check your history, because they can’t even if they wanted to?

Latest Data on COVID-19 Vaccinations by Race/Ethnicity KFF (resilc)


Look to Japan for lessons on Evergrande Gillian Tett, Financial Times (David L)

Evergrande bubble popped in time: no Lehman moment Asia Times (Kevin W)

The Evergrande saga marks the end of China’s long property boom South China Morning Post (furzy)

China Evergrande’s Electric-Vehicle Business Warns of Cash Squeeze Wall Street Journal

Huawei’s Meng Wanzhou flies back to China after deal with US BBC. It is unpopular to say so, but the US had a sound legal case. Meng/Huawei was shockingly lazy about setting up the usual cutouts to insulate her/the relevant sub in their dealings with Iran. Now the wisdom of going after her is another matter…

Old Blighty

Supply chain crisis: Tories poised to U-turn on foreign worker visas Guardian

11 years after EU and Creditors are still looting and destroying Greece Defend Democracy

New Cold War


Necessary for security’: veteran Taliban enforcer says amputations will resume Guardian (resilc)

Israel will be ‘gone’ in 20 years– says Wilkerson, former State Dept aide Mondoweiss (guurst)

Imperial Collapse Watch

The US Space Force Will Wear Battlestar Galactica Uniforms Giant Freakin Robot

Rolls Royce Will Provide Long-Awaited New Jet Engines For The B-52 Bomber Fleet The Drive. Kevin W: “The B-52 was manufactured from 1952 to 1962. With these new engines, they will still be flying – over 100 years later. And flown by the great grand-children of the original pilots probably.” Moi: I have a soft spot for simple rugged old tech. Look at the AK-47.

AUKUS Debacle: US Apologies to France in Biden-Macron Call, Greenlights EU Army, Johnson Frozen Out Alexander Mercouris, YouTube (bwilli123). Important. I hate videos as a medium for conveying information but this is worth your time. Plus you get goodies like “The foreign policy establishment in the United States, in Washington, is weak, it is lead by amateurs…”.

Is NATO good for Asia or is Asia good for NATO? Asia Times (Kevin W)


Activism, Uncensored: Lots of Hype, and an Undercover Agent Arrested at the “Justice for January 6th” Rally Matt Taibbi

Five takeaways from Arizona’s audit results The Hill


Now Greta turns on Joe! Teen eco-warrior calls Biden a hypocrite for his Build Back Better plan – which she says is NOT investing in green tech Daily Mail

For the US, the Climate Plan is More Walls and Armed Agents at the Border CounterPunch (resilc)

Covid-19 panic at The View ahead of Kamala Harris’ appearance sees two hosts yanked off live on air RT (Kevin W). One Kamala critic contends that Harris is eager for any excuse not to be interviewed, even on a super friendly show like The View because she does not want to field questions about the Haitian refugees/border mess.

Latin American Migration, Once Limited to a Few Countries, Turns Into a Mass Exodus Wall Street Journal. Resilc: “Didn’t Harris fix this two months ago before moving on to Asia?”

Officials: All migrants are gone from Texas border camp Politico

The Civil War–Era Roots of the Debt Ceiling Crisis Washington Monthly

McConnell’s 32 career votes to raise the debt limit increased it by $20.7 trillion CAP Action

Republicans: Stop Funding an Unaccountable Military American Conservative (resilc)

Dark-Money Group to Donors: Reconciliation Bill Can Still Be Killed Intercept

Woke Watch

‘Bodies with vaginas’?! Lancet slammed for ‘erasing women’ after promoting latest issue with controversial quote RT (Kevin W). Um, I had a friend in Oz who had just gotten the chop, and from what she said, she was also stretching her tissues to simulate a vagina. So how would that fit in the Lancet’s paradigm?

Women serving life sentences without parole surged over the past decade, report shows CNN

Prince Andrew finally acknowledges sex assault lawsuit from Epstein accuser after forcing servers to jump through legal hoops RT. Kevin W: “It’s a bomb shell. The walls are closing.”

Flood Insurance Costs Are Set to Skyrocket for Some New York Times (resilc)

Dara Khosrowshahi, the man reforming Uber Financial Times (David L). Kill me now.

Wyoming natural gas flared for cryptocurrency mining exempt from taxation (Paul E)

China PBOC Says Crypto-Related Transactions Illegal Bloomberg

Why China Finally Decided to Ban Bitcoin Slate (Kevin W)

No wonder Amazon is looking into crypto. Moar crime!

Guillotine Watch

One of NYC’s poshest buildings facing $250m lawsuit over building defects BBC

Class Warfare

Gig work is precarious no matter the country The Verge

Taxing the Rich: Biden Backs Levy on Billionaires’ Unrealized Investment Gains Bloomberg (furzy)

The U.S. has more in common with South America than Europe The Week. Wowsers, no mention of the most obvious similarity, high levels of inequality.

Antidote du jour. Karma fubar: “My dog in my barn. Shot on my iPhone with no image alterations.”

And a bonus:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Samuel Conner

    The video of the dog that ‘identifies’ as a rabbit is charming.

    It reminds me of an Old Testament wisdom text that goes, loosely, “Choose your companions wisely. You’ll become like them.”

  2. Terry Flynn

    Health care falling male life expectancy etc. Cancer treatment has effectively collapsed in Nottingham UK.

    Those who receive chemo to make palliative care less unbearable (palliative chemo) are receiving letters saying “that’s it bubye”. I would say more if I could but I can’t. All hell has broken loose. I’d say more if I could but suffice to say a 10 year waiting list means “don’t get cancer in East Midlands – you’ll be dead before proper diagnosis”. The cull has begun.

    1. petal

      Terry, I can’t say more, but was informed yesterday by a friend in the know that chemotherapy is being rationed. Between that and other supply issues(needles, syringes, etc), they said don’t get sick. This person is expecting a bad winter. My mother also cannot get sulfasalazine anymore due to a shortage. They now instead want to put her on something that has bad side effects and she’s had a bad experience with previously. Good times.

          1. Colonel Smithers

            Thank you, Terry and Petal.

            My father, a retired doctor, has heard the same in the Home Counties and West Country.

            As he’s diabetic, he has been warned about impending shortages of insulin.

            Mum, a soon to retire civil servant, is a mixture of bemused and incandescent.

            Best wishes to your mother and you, Petal.

            1. jr

              I’ve been rationing my anti-psychotics by halving my daily intake, I feel safe doing so because the angels told me. Just kidding, they counseled against it, but I have been on less before. It’s a hell of a lot better than being on none, I can assure you. That’s when my alter ego comes out: something akin to Angel v. Angelus in the Angel series.

              My mood stabilizer is another story. I’m going to ask my shrink if I can stock up on that. Strange days.

        1. petal

          Thank you all. Your kind words are a comfort. She has increasingly bad RA and needs the meds to be able to function independently. My brother lives about 20 miles away and helps out when he can but it isn’t too regular as he works 3 PT jobs. I live about 8 hours drive away so I’m good for nothin’. The one they want to put her on as alternative to the sulfasalazine messes with her heart, I think. Lousy choice. The sulfasalazine supply has been steadily decreasing over the last year and she had been driving ~45mins each way to get even some, but now it’s not available anywhere in the area or via mail. Colonel, best wishes to your father with the insulin-such a nightmare situation to be in.

          I went to a chain grocery store this morning to stock up (after my friend’s warning yesterday), and also grab dog food at another store, and the grocery store had a lot of empty shelf space-paper towels were pretty much non-existent, TP was very low, cereal low, etc. Low stocks of a lot of stuff, or didn’t have any of it at all. But, they had Moderna shots. CVS had a noticeably loud, cheery in-store announcement pushing jabs-get yours right now, they are all good for 12 years and up now! etc, it said. Walmart was busy, but only a few cashiers so the lines were long, even for the self checkout. They had a lady behind a desk just inside the door on shopper mask duty. There were pallets of boxed goods in the aisles just sitting there.

          It’s such a beautiful autumn day but there’s this weird bad moon rising vibe underneath. The next 6 months are going to be interesting. Sending good thoughts to everyone out there!

          1. The Rev Kev

            Is this it? Is this going to be the true effect of the present pandemic? Not the steady drip of people dying of this virus but the collapse of supply chains, the evaporation of vital medical supplies, staples such as fuel running out, hospital services folding under the pressure. It is the secondary effects of the pandemic that seems to be more dangerous to our societies.

            And again best wishes for your mother.

            1. Skunk

              This would have eventually happened even without the pandemic. This was always predicted after we passed through world peak oil, but the pandemic has exacerbated things.

          2. ambrit

            Being ‘Prepper Adjacent’ as Lambert described it the other day is moving from out of the shadows and into the twilight of day. We hope you have a ‘community’ to rely on.
            I have seen the same pallets of goods sitting in the middle of aisles in the Bigg Boxx Stores lately. At the WalMart at least, my informants tell me, the hold up is a lack of people willing to work there for the pay offered. (I mentioned a few days ago about the “Sign Up” desk in the front of the place with the sign advertising wages of $11 USD and $13 USD per hour. No mention of benefits.)
            Many empty shelves also.
            As you mentioned, there is a “Bad Moon Rising” vibe ‘in the air.’ I checked with others I meet “on the stret” about this to try and adjust for bias, and hear the same feeling of impending doom from many more people than I would have usually, in the past.
            I have been noticing smaller plastic stand alone street signs recently. At highly travelled street corners and at stop lights, the signs say:
            “Get Your Shot! Trust your Doc!” Below, in smaller print, the sign is attributed to something calling itself the “Hattiesburg Vaccine Alliance.” These are mass produced, professionally designed eforts. This tells me that someone is worried about the public’s aversion to further vaccine pushes.
            There well may be a Zeitgeist.
            Stay safe! Hull down.

            1. petal

              Ah, see, the walmart jobs banner I saw yesterday said $13 an hour plus benefits. There are better offers elsewhere(at least posted on other signs and from ads on the radio). McDonalds just a half mile down the street from walmart had “$750 a week” posted on their sign. This is nearly at my pay level.

            1. petal

              Thank you so much, IM Doc, for that and chiming in. It is interesting to hear the observations of others regarding the medical supply chains and drug shortages.

      1. IM Doc

        FYI – I cannot speak for chemotherapy.

        However, we are having all kinds of issues with the supply of the multitude of immunologic medications for autoimmune disorders. Humira and Embrel are available but many of the others not so much. We are doing all kinds of changes on these patients.

        Since many of our modern chemotherapy drugs are similar to these medications, I am assuming there may be shortages of them as well.

        I was told by the pharmacist in the hospital that the issue is many of the manufacturing companies have been tasked with making monoclonal antibodies for COVID – and it has affected the ability to process all these others in a normal time frame.

        It has also been an interesting year – in that every single COVID medication in the hospital – IV steroids, remdesevir, and multiple abx for secondary infections have been on back order this year at times for weeks. And now even the monoclonal antibodies are being rationed. This is very very peculiar in American medicine. We have shortages of this and that before – but nothing like this past year. Eye-opening.

  3. allan

    Undercover at J4J6: complete shocker.
    In other news, “Umbrella Man”, the human accelerant who assisted the escalation of the George Floyd events
    in Minneapolis from protests to vandalism and looting, has never been arrested.
    The law has a long arm – especially when covering its backside.

    1. expr
      talks about this
      1. if everyone is driving around with an average of 1/2 tank of gas and they all try to fill up at the same time you are going to have shortages
      2. Suggestion that leak about gas delivery problems was intended to cause shortage to put pressure to allow more immigrant drivers
      3. Hauling gasoline requires a special license and continuing education/testing
      4. The company that delivers for BP has 450 drivers and 20 vacancies

    2. Eustachedesaintpierre


      All OK here so far for fuel here in Northern Ireland as have also been supplies in the shops, which is perhaps a bit strange considering the border issue.

      As to your earlier comment in relation to the NHS, Robin Swann was wanting to call in the Army as hospitals according to him were at collapsing point, which I assume is bad news for elective procedures. No such military intervention as yet which is something that would not go down very well with Republicans.

      1. Terry Flynn

        Yeah can understand the ramifications if the military are observed in hospitals…. FWIW I have heard the very distinctive sound of turboprop military transport planes overhead here for over a year.

        Their typical “routes” either to East Midlands Airport or the military ones DO NOT commonly overfly us. I’ve known things were going on for a year but could never find out what. Now maybe I get it…..

          1. Dr. John Carpenter

            No Blade of Grass is a tough film. I used to really enjoy all the environmental apocalypse films of the 70s for some reason. Perhaps when I was younger they used to make me feel a little better about the world I was in. I find it a little harder to watch them these days, now that I realize I’ll be living though them.

            1. Wukchumni

              It was kind of ‘doom-lite’ in that not many in the flick had handguns, and a relative few had rifles.

              That said, the wanton murders almost all by guns, start about 15 minutes into the film and never really let up.

          2. Skunk

            I read the book version after seeing it mentioned on NC a while back. Great book. Dark, but quite profound regarding human nature. Definitely worth reading.

      2. Expat2uruguay

        Here in Uruguay the government has reported that they expect to be caught up on all delayed surgeries and procedures by the end of the year.

        1. Mantid

          Hmm, just curious. Is human Ivermectin being used in Uruguay contra Covid? I think it’s being used in Argentina. Either way, congrats on a mildly successful health situation.

  4. Pat

    Apparently the only answer we have to rising death rates among children is vaccination. I am not sure where the finger gets pointed if for any reason there are long term effects from these largely untested vaccines for children or in children born in women who were vaccinated while pregnant. Couldn’t be at those who wouldn’t ventilate the class rooms or shut down in class learning or institute rigorous testing, quarantine standards and contact tracing. Nope it is just going to be vaccinate over and over and hope for the best.

    We aren’t even pretending to be interested in actual healthcare standards and the public good. Nope throw the pass a foot and a half, make some obscene profits for a Pharma company or two, and call it a Hail Mary.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Back in the early days of the “pandemic” when adults were falling all over themselves to get the “vax,” children were not considered high covid risk. Now that pretty much all the adults who are willing to be “vaxxed” have been, and force and boosters are the only ways to keep the party going, children have burst into big pharma’s crosshairs.

      The always entertaining DR. leana wen sheds “light” on the subject. According to the good doctor, the vaccinated carry high levels of virus, and can transmit it to “unvaxxed” family members. So fully vaxxed parents like her need to be “careful” for her too-young-to-be-vaxxed children, because of all the unvaxxed people around them.

      I shit you not. As helpfully tweeted by someone fittingly posting as “Clown World Today”:

      1. Skip Intro

        As we recently read, asymptomatic covid varies widely by age, 47% prevalence in children but only 20% in older adults. It only looked like kids were safe.

        1. JBird4049

          But in our present society’s political economy, isn’t looks all that matters? The old narrative control. Fantasy to go.

          So, really, it’s all good; when too many children are dead or have Long Covid, to be easily ignored, do not worry! They will somehow morph into the Deplorables or simply be put under damnatio memoriae or memory holed. Just like all the “essential” Black, Latino, and poor people who are suffering from the pandemic and/or refuse to take any of the vaccines.

      2. Yves Smith Post author

        Even though my mother is vaccinated, we all wear masks in the house and run a box fan, and use 1% povidone iodine as a gargle and nose spray. But heaven forbid family members mask in their homes to protect each other.

    2. Nikkikat

      Pat, IM DOC commented recently that he knew of Fauci years ago during AIDS crisis only wanting to use vaccines for AIDS pushed back on developing medicines caused many deaths from the disease. I suspect he has had same negative reaction to medicines again and only pushes vaccine as the end all and be all.

      1. Mantid

        Also, he was receiving royalties form that specific vaccine so was pushing it, making money. When his “cut” was discovered, he blamed others for not disclosing his conflict of interest. He then “said” he would donate his earnings. If and/or where he donated the dollars, I’m not sure of. More info is here:

  5. The Rev Kev

    “The Evergrande saga marks the end of China’s long property boom”

    They say that as if it was a bad thing. Why is it good to have a long property boom in the first place? Young people just starting off in life cannot afford a place of their own. Poorer people tend to get squeezed out of areas that they may have lived in for years if not decades as their neighbourhoods have property prices rise too fast. ‘Gentrification’ becomes a thing. Property itself becomes a play thing of the wealthy who sell it to each other again and again as an asset rather than a place to live. Countries end up changing their laws to protect these property owners to the cost & detriment of the general economy. Rents sky-rocket. I am sure that I have missed a lot more effects but I think that a case can be made so that no person/corporation can own more than two properties.

    1. Vandemonian

      When Australia’s ridiculous “property boom” ends (as end it must) the fallout will not be pretty. A modest rise in interest rates, or the fallout from Evergrande’s problems could be enough to start the reverse.

      1. Kfish

        Maybe so, but it may actually give Australians under 40 or in the working class a chance to own their own homes, which has been a diminishing prospect the last few years.

  6. Pat

    Haven’t read the article yet, but there have been reports of organized shop lifting here in NY for years. I was even told by the associate helping me that the shampoos were locked up because the entire supply could and was being swiped within an hour of stocking before.

    During the BLM protests which were followed by looting some of the videos that came out were amazing. People entering higher end stores to come out with armfuls of goods and lining up to drop them in waiting cars. A particularly memorable video had the person filming it exclaiming “that’s a Rolls Royce!” as one arrived to collect merchandise.

    1. jr

      Anecdote: years ago, I was into paintball and I had a group of buddies who got together regularly. One of us worked at the local K-mart as head of security which mostly involved him drinking beer all day in the office and we had a nice little racket which involved him looking the other way. Saved a lot of money on equipment!


    2. expr

      Just got back from the grocery store (LI,NY) there were no shopping baskets. Clerk thought people were stealing them to avoid paying for shopping bags

    3. Wukchumni

      Coming back from San Diego a few weeks ago, decided to avoid LA and went up through what i’ll charitably describe as ‘desert ghetto’ er Adelanto, Ca. and visited the Wal*Mart there.

      I’m used to my Wal*Mart in the CVBB having a few locked glass cases for certain items, but i’d guess 20% of the store in Adelanto was like that, and you just know they have an excellent idea of what gets shoplifted and acted accordingly.

    4. Arizona Slim

      There is a vacant store near the Arizona Slim Ranch. Used to be a Walgreens but it closed very early in 2020. The super-efficient neighborhood grapevine told me that shoplifting and high rents were the reason for the closure.

  7. Dikaios Logos

    re: The Lab-Leak Debate Just Got Even Messier

    I found it very, very hard to read this and not see that the main editorial directive at The Atlantic is to always put the PMC in the best imaginable light. I credit them with being in some sense complete with these revelations about the specifics of this proposal. But it’s obvious their disinterest in disturbing questions about elite malfeasance will likely continue.

    1. A.

      Absolutely. Some choice lines from the piece:

      “Does the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic have an unnatural origin? The answer hasn’t changed: probably not.” This is patronizing: The unchanged answer should have been “perhaps.” And the more pertinent question has always been the unscientific conduct of the scientific community in all of this, disingenuously committed to the “natural origin” line from the beginning when such certitude wouldn’t have been humanly possible.

      But the real kicker is this: “We don’t know whether that work was ever carried out—remember, DARPA rejected this proposal.” If not intended to be patronizing, then this is simple idiocy. The existence of the grant application is evidence pointing to the work having been carried out than its opposite, unless the author is genuinely trying to argue that grant applications are better-placed to be accepted if accompanied by no practical application.

      And finally: “It would be unusual—even unethical—for a lab in China to pursue experiments that were originally proposed by one of its collaborators in the United States, he told us.” But there was nothing unusual about Ralph Baric training Shi Zhengli, or US and European virologists rushing to stand in solidarity with their Chinese counterparts in February 2020. Why then would experimental collaboration be “unusual” or even “unethical”, especially in light of DARPA’s rejection?

      1. Eloined

        From the NY Post:

        A former EcoHealth employee says Daszak disclosed some years ago that he had been “approached by the CIA in late 2015.”

        The employee believed that the CIA helped steer large chunks of federal funding to EcoHealth’s projects in parts of the world like China where they needed “human intelligence related to biological threats and capabilities. Many of these places are hard to collect good intelligence … Also, [the Department of Defense] was actively always asking for data, models, and analysis.”

          1. Eloined

            No idea!

            The research efforts seem a cluster of multiple countries, motives, species and viral sequences. The tidbit from the Post is but scant evidence of that.

      2. Ignacio

        Yes, very nice, a badly scanned pdf is now indicator of lab leak. Very scientific it all indeed. But, but, gain of function! Fu-Manchu scientists! There it is! There MUST BE!
        I may look to you an ‘european virologist rushing to stand in solidarity with chinese counterpants’ but your ‘the existence of a grant application is EVIDENCE of the work being done and, of course, a subsequent lab leak is where resides your logic: you need a lab leak, you want it, you find its seeds everywhere.
        I can easily understand how a proposal like this, if it was true, was rejected. Not because lab leaks, fu-manchus, or gain-of-function, but because it is an unrealistic proposal. Some people has done a few lab tests vaccinating bats but trying to control bat virus in the wild through general vaccination? Science fiction.

        They wanted to develop an app for zoonosis control, hahahahahahaha! If you include an app in your proposal you get the grant?

        1. A.

          I am not particularly invested in the lab leak idea, I only take umbrage with those rushing, baselessly, to discount it. Otherwise, you did not understand what I was saying: It is fine to question whether the proposed work has actually been carried out. But it is silly to suggest, as the article does, that the fact that the proposal was rejected points towards this, when the actual existence of the proposal is equally, if not more, suggestive in the opposite direction.

          Moreover, question whatever it is you’re trying to say with the “badly scanned pdf” bit. You may quickly find that it was not one of your fine moments.

        2. Eloined

          Respectfully, no, you don’t appear here to be a “european virologist rushing to stand in solidarity with chinese counterpants,” as you put it, for the simple fact that there’s no discussion of virology in your comment — save for expert condescension.

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            No, he did have an argument. Saying “OMG, gain of function, surely that means they made a pathogenic nasty that escaped” does not even come close to proof. It’s a conjecture. And when you cut through all the blather of the proponents, that’s all they have. There’s no reason for making a serious rebuttal to what at this point is an unserious argument.

            He had discussed before that ~15 years each of precisely the same unsupported “engineered by humans” charges with AIDS and SARS, which proved to be natural in origin, and precisely the same sort of non-evidence.

            1. Eloined

              I concede you are correct. My view was he didn’t have an argument beyond a condescending description of the counter, in this case pro the plausibility of a lab leak.

              I understand that many origins of AIDS theories were misguided, exhausting and harmful.

              One can reasonably consider that a multi-year research program involving chimeric coronavirus development using in vitro and in vivo testing of human transmissibility factors, novel cleavage sites, etc. human-animal proximity both in the field and in the lab — specifically in a lab where chimeric coronoviruses were not always handled under P4 protocols — does not make a convincing case for a lab leak. I would agree.

              But I wonder why the burden seems to be those who run counter to the ‘nature’ consensus, when that consensus has been shown to be formed under false pretenses, e.g. Peter Daszak’s recruitment of Lancet conflict-withholding letter signees and the apparent about-face of KG Anderson’s research team after meeting with Fauci in early days. I wonder of those skeptical of a lab leak have kept up with recent disclosures, e.g. at From 2016, a US NAIAD rep offering a report to his superiors:

              “I met with EcoHealth Alliance, a NY based non-profit organization on health. They have a R01 grant from DMID [Division of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases] on identifying SARS-like coronaviruses in China. They partner with Dr. Shi Zhengli at Wuhan Institute of Virology. I visited Dr. Shi over a year ago. She took bat samples in caves in certain regions of China, isolated and identified viruses and found some viruses are similar to SARS by sequencing. Now [redacted]. We are talking about close animal-human close contact in densely populated city.”

              The 2018 grant proposal passed its initial review before getting shut down for public health and/or policy reasons. Or because it was unrealistic as Ignacio says. In any case US funding agencies weren’t the go-no go deciders for research conducted at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

                1. Eloined

                  Thank you for enabling it. I appreciate the time and effort needed to moderate lively discussion on topics such as this without providing undue deference to credential-holders nor free reign for unfounded speculation.

              1. Ignacio

                So, now it seems that because there are zoonotic diseases, these have not to be researched because then it will be the labs that will substitute what you call a ‘natural’ process of zoonosis (I disagree, it is not that ‘natural’ as it has a lot to do with human activities that are not precisely lab research but include animal breeding and meat production, wild animal meat and fur commerce and the like), It is ‘plausible’ just because labs exist like that in Wuhan. I have discussed here a lot about that. Lab leaks are a possibility and have occurred before, always regarding well known existing pathogens that were described before and particularly some of them because these have special properties like being very stable (like foot and mouth disease) and so it was learnt that these should be handled with special care as well as any other high risk known pathogen.

                In the field of plant virology, other activities such as breeding have been responsible, not for the generation of new diseases, but the spread of existing ones, for instance, when inadvertently a breeder picked infected sources elsewhere for their research programs.

                Whether a lab that is conducting virus screenings in the wild can generate a new pandemic like this one is what is at stake here and, given the known history of zoonotic diseases my opinion is that this is quite ‘implausible’ an event and no epidemiological model can quantify this risk. People take for granted that by inoculating VERO cells or humanized mice in labs you might generate new variants that could easily convert in a new epidemic like Covid-19. Or for instance by creating infectious clones or using in its case reverse genetic engineering. Not me, not Baric, not any scientist can really calculate the probability of such event which is far beyond any ‘gain of function’ research.

                Zoonotic viruses do not surge instantly. They are not the products of single mutations or recombinations. These are the products of continued evolutionary forces working for several years, decades in some cases, with many cumulative changes, tries and failures and subject to strong selection mechanisms after many years of repeated contacts between the species involved. This is something that you cannot replicate in a lab. So when you speak of a lab leak as the source of a new pandemic you first have to ignore how zoonotic diseases arise in the first place in order to give it some plausibility. Do I sound condescendent? May be but it is so tiring to hear opinions based on full ignorance in the subject!

                1. Eloined

                  Zoonotic viruses do not surge instantly. They are not the products of single mutations or recombinations. These are the products of continued evolutionary forces working for several years, decades in some cases, with many cumulative changes, tries and failures and subject to strong selection mechanisms after many years of repeated contacts between the species involved.

                  What this year’s EcoHealth/WIV-related disclosures show, mainly based on US sources because Chinese sources seem to be… unavailable, is that your scenario for a surge, however unlikely, is on its face consistent with the conditions of bat coronavirus research at WIV — not over decades but several intensive research years. Do you think the in vivo lab testing stopped at humanized mice?

                  If I am misunderstanding what you are saying here which invalidates a lab leak possibility — e.g. it can’t have happened because you, Baric, and others can’t calculate its odds, and that such a surge from any source would require at a minimum extended contact, evolutionary forces, etc. — then I suppose I’m ignorant indeed and should press no further.

                  That said, if you’re in touch with Baric, please ask him why 6 bibliographic entries in his 2015 paper in Nature Medicine, “A SARS-like cluster of circulating bat coronaviruses shows potential for human emergence,” were removed from the online version in early 2020, and at the same time 2 papers about “vaccines” were added in. One of the removed papers: “Pathways of Cross-Species Transmission of Synthetically Reconstructed Zoonotic Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus.” Others have asked, and he has not answered. Inquiring minds would like to know.

                    1. Eloined

                      I did. I note your acknowledgment of generic lab leak plausibility, as evidenced by past instances, and then a series of comparisons undercutting the plausibility of a lab leak of COVID-19 from the WIV.

                      In my opinion each of your comparisons has holes, such as the point that a definitive lab-leaked virus would likely have a backbone known from the research, whereas in this case the opaqueness of chimeric coronavirus genetics at the WIV between 2013 and 2020 is a confounding issue.

                      I also note that your implicit assumptions about the nature of research at WIV — that the plausibility of a lab leak of COVID-19 therefrom turning into a human pandemic requires ignoring how zoonotic viruses surge. Here I believe you are missing information from recent disclosures indicating bat-human proximity and potentially myriad combinations/recombinations of chimeric coronaviruses in that lab.

                      According to you I am ignorant and careless. No doubt true to a degree, so I apologize for that. Maybe these Lancet correspondence authors are more your speed:

              2. Ignacio

                (while another comment is in moderation I will comment on the grant proposal as I have taken a look to it).
                The rationale of the proposal is about establishing a kind of a surveillance program keeping in mind the recent appearance of new diseases originated in bat coronaviruses (MERS and notably SARS CoV 1 that appeared more than once, plus others like possibly HKU and others that didn’t become important). I would agree that an international surveillance program might be implemented though I think not by the means described in this proposal which looks more like a proposal to capture funds rather than a rational way to start a surveillance program. I don’t think such surveillance would require millions to analyze the pathological properties of all bat coronavirus that can be identifed to later start a field vaccination of bats as a way to prevent further zoonotic diseases. A better effort should be dedicated to detect spills in other species. Humans, of course, as well as any other species in the environment that is being actively hunted, marketed or bred for human consumption: sanitary checks in those activities. There is no need to analyse extensively how many bat coronavirus can infect humanized mice or VERO cells. This have been done in part and there have been identified a few. But given that viruses evolve in unpredicted ways this doesn’t mean that a bat virus that cannot infect VERO cells might be the source of genetic material that finally ends, modified, in a wholly new virus with capacity to spread, infect and cause havoc in humans. So it is not there were effective prevention starts. A recent paper that was linked here at NC that included several new virus isolates obtained from Rinolophus bats, showed not only there are many viruses but that with increased knowledge of the diversity it could be deduced that Covid is not sourced in a single bat strain but a mosaic of sequences from several bat coronavirus. Given the importance of recombination on CoVs evolution and given further changes these suffer adapting to other non-bat species knowing all the diversity and pathological properties of bat CoVs in Rhinolophus is of little practical use to prevent zoonosis.

                According to some, the researchers that did this job must almost certainly be the origin of the next CoV pandemic. They assayed some on VERO cells OMG!. I think the work was useful in the sense that it provides a rationale on the possible initial mechanisms involved in new zoonotic diseases. All virus identified were too distant to SARS CoV as to be considered the proximal source of the epidemic (including the formerly known RaTG13 that has been used as the main source of the lab leak id… theory.

                IMO, it was a no brainer to reject that proposal, but then go and say that this ‘reactivates’ the lab leak theory is running wild with conspiracies.

                1. Eloined

                  Now that you’re exploring the available information, you may find interesting Peter Daszak’s talk in 2016 which describes EcoHealth Alliance research teams’ efforts to identify and sequence 85-100% of bat coronaviruses in order to develop a permanent solution to human pandemics therefrom:

                  A messianic effort that, as a virologist, you may agree invites a human-microbiological arms race.

                  As you note, Daszak’s role is to “capture funds” (see the ~11-minute mark of the above video for another example of his salesmanship, anchoring a price of $6+ billion for the 100% sequencing target to make a mere ~$1.5 billion target of 85% seem affordable).

                  He was not conducting the research, and it’s hard to tell to what extent he was even guiding it. US officials at NAIAD etc. were mainly on the outside looking in, e.g. soliciting one-off reports from visitors. The US response to Daszak’s 2018 proposal, written specifically for US funding agencies with known gain-of-function research restrictions, is weak evidence of what did or did not occur at the WIV.

                  Lastly, you say “[a]ll virus identified were too distant to SARS CoV as to be considered the proximal source of the epidemic….” Hasn’t Chinese source material on bat coronavirus sequencing in WIV research been obscure at best, focusing on samples known long pre-COVID-19 emergence when it’s clear that the researchers conjured up new chimeric coronavirus genetics in the meantime?

                2. Eloined

                  Published in the Lancet this month, prior to the leaked grant proposal copy, authors lay out why a lab leak remains plausible not only to the ignorant:

                  Also, a correction to an earlier comment perhaps lost in moderation: Daszak in 2016 states his funding case for an inventory of zoonotic viruses (not just coronaviruses) at around the 40:30 mark and provides a 90-second rundown of what the WIV researchers were working on re: coronaviruses at that time at around the 1:16:30 mark here, ending with “for humanity’s sake”:

        3. chuck roast

          The Atlantic…worthless without the gloss.

          So, who reviews the grant proposals? I worked for a big Fed agency in DC and it was the grunts like me who did the grant proposal reviews. Most of them were laughable, pie-in-the-sky nonsense or reinventing the wheel. Big bucks grant proposals by well connected grifters may have received reviews by Assistant Administrator political appointees, but I doubt it. But we never saw grant proposals where the contractor proposed subbing to a Chinese laboratory. This was probably political from the get-go.

          1. Eloined

            Leaving aside ongoing non-denials of the parties (see also the Biden family’s response to the laptop findings), certain silly aspects of the proposal made it seem all the more credible, such as the ‘app for warfighters’ which you might agree is exactly the kind of sweetener that proposers may deploy, as lasers, when they know the idiosyncratic interests of reviewers, or as darts, when they don’t.

          2. The Rev Kev

            I think that it came out after a few lab accidents in the US that it was decided to move those lab operations to China instead because they did not want to risk something breaking out in America itself. Come to think of it, the US has a whole series of bio-labs in countries bordering Russia, much to the latter’s suspicions. It is really just outsourcing dangerous lab work to other countries.

          3. Ignacio

            The Atlantic, very much like (m)any other media, is just another example of Covid idiocy going mainstream. There have been lots of examples and the disease will remain for some time.

    2. BeliTsari

      Notice, also the “Only 0.33 percent of fully vaccinated New Yorkers have been diagnosed with COVID-19…” typically cherry-picked lie-fest. They forgot to mention, the data was from spring & summer (eg: preceeding variants) and their echo-chamber trope, ignoring unmasked, inoculated churls infecting more folks, asymptomatic, pre-symptomatic or simply speciously ignoring their differing, UR symptoms (sneezing, runny nose, headache but no persistent cough; emulates all the nasty colds, our unmasked betters are now sharing). Of course, it’s The Atlantic & their business model is: “make the lie BIG. Keep it SIMPLE. Then keep repeating it!”

  8. upstater

    re. In the American Southwest, the Energy Problem Is Water IEEE Spectrum

    The article is from 2010 and is very dated. Many point remain valid today, but the situation has no doubt changed considerably. It mentions the voracious water consumption of the Navajo Generating Station, which was shut 2 years ago and is being demolished. This is a cool video of the stacks being blown up:

    December 21, 2020
    SRP Contractors Demolish NGS’ Three Iconic Stacks
    Important Milestone in the Decommissioning of the Coal-Fired Power Plant

    Navajo Generating Station’s (NGS) three iconic 775-foot smokestacks – a Page, AZ landmark for 45 years – were demolished in a single explosive blast on Friday, falling northward like trees being felled.

    1. chuck roast

      Nice demo of what was the dirtiest coal fire power plant in the entire US of A. Not much could be done about it. The problem was that it was on Indian land…all their $hit was sacred.

  9. jr

    Re: Israel and climate change

    Something occurred to me the other day after reading that article about Israeli’s decrying the fact that their military isn’t bloody-handed enough. What is going to happen to them, and the region, in regards to climate change?:

    “According to the IPCC report published in November 2018, global warming should be limited to an average of 1.5 degrees, compared to the pre-industrial revolution period. However, temperatures in Israel are expected to be higher than the global average. This can cause more extreme phenomena, such as: nighttime temperatures that are warming at a higher rate than daytime temperatures, as well as more frequent, harsher, and more prolonged heat waves.”

    and this:

    “In the Middle East and North Africa, already a global tinderbox, scientists predict that life will get hotter and drier, with more people competing for fewer resources under increasingly unbearable conditions. Average temperatures in the region are increasing at a rate of 1.5 to two times faster than the rest of the globe as the Sahara desert expands.”

    1. Alex

      This map says that the warmest month temperature will have increased by 3.7 degrees Celsius in 2050 compared to 2020 (from 88 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit).

      By itself it’s probably manageable: there are people who now live in such conditions now. Like the Times of Israel article you cited says, the real problem is possible consequences in the neighbouring countries.

      1. jr

        Thanks for the map and the context. It brings to mind that map of the US Yves had up about a year back showing that the average annual temperature of the South West US was going up to 95F, sorry if I’m confabulating there. It’s easy to simulate in your imagination, if memory serves it looked as if someone took a map of the US and set the South West corner on fire. This maps seems to indicate differently, maybe that’s a function of new information. I understand that the climate catastrophe isn’t “mapping out” as it was previously thought to, Vancouver going up in flames recently comes to mind.
        I seem to recall a discussion of how eventually the region would become uninhabitable and that even robots wouldn’t be able to operate because the cost of refrigerants etc. would skyrocket.

      2. jr

        Here it is:

        It’s 95F half the year in some Arizona counties, sorry for the mistakes.

        Side note: I had to agree to new ToS in order to download this from iCloud. Basically, it was stolen and held for ransom by Apple. Strange days

        1. Alex

          Yeah, I also remember that map. They aren’t directly comparable, but 95 degrees in the hottest month probably means we are somewhere in Georgia/Alabama/Mississippi when it comes to future temperature.

          But the most important thing is the capacity of the country to handle crises arising from the increasing temperatures, the resilience of technology (energy, desalination, irrigation) and of the society (collective actions like cutting consumption and helping the ones who are hit the hardest).

      3. The Rev Kev

        It may comes down to more water wars. Israel has already taken nearly all of the Palestinians potable water so there is not much more to take. But Israel has invaded Lebanon several times in the past and the partial aim has been the same – to get a new border on the Litani River in order to divert a lot of it back into Israel. But with Hezbollah in the way, perhaps they should set up a nuclear de-desalinization plant on the coast somewhere.

        1. Alex

          If you spent a few minutes you would’ve discovered that there are 4 huge desalination plants producing most of the water consumed in the country.

        1. Pat

          Give me a couple of months, and I might take one or two. My Stewart passed in March and I am still not ready. (I would also need to kitten proof. Stew and I had gotten pretty settled and sedate together.)

    1. KLG

      Had a birthday dinner (outside) last night with several fellow PMC scientist friends. The utter and abject stupidity of ivermectin came up, naturally, and I came across like the Deplorable brother of one of the party. They do tend to make allowances for me; as my better half will say occasionally, “I love him, but he is to the left of Karl Marx.” Said Deplorable is a “conspiracy theorist” because he says that Big Pharma has billions of reasons to discount any currently available antiviral because they have “products” in development that will make them rich. Very rich. To a person, the NPR consensus at the table, but for me, was that is ridiculous. So I had to point out that Merck either lost or gave up the patent on ivermectin (half of a 2015 Physiology & Medicine Nobel to a Merck scientist) long ago, probably because there was no prospect of selling it at a profit where helminth infections (e.g., river blindness) are endemic. No money in that now! So, I pointed out that Merck has molnupiravir in development with something called Ridgeback (source of the actual research?), and it will come at a (big) price. Crickets. When I was reminded that ivermectin was developed to fight worms, not viruses, I replied that thalidomide was a tranquilizer that had never been tested for its teratogenic effects. Nevertheless, now it is a useful drug for the treatment of multiple myeloma and leprosy and perhaps other conditions. Imagine that!

      Vaccine booster shots were next on the list. 4 Moderna and 1 Pfizer (yours truly) in the group. My question for these experts in biochemistry, cell biology, molecular biology, microbiology, and immunology, plus one lawyer, was this: What is the good of a booster shot made against a spike protein that could be extinct? That is an oversimplification, perhaps, but they all agreed it was a good question…progress of a sort. And we all wear masks when out and about. Speaking of which, this from my double alma mater did my heart good. The leader of the effort is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, and most of these faculty could move to another institution in a heartbeat. Will this move Gov. Brian Kemp? Not hardly, but so what? The last time a governor meddled, the University System of Georgia lost its accreditation, and even Brian Kemp is not that out to lunch.

      1. Mantid

        The off purpose example I use is that aspirin is taken by many over 50 yrs old to help the viscosity of their blood, not because they have a head ache.

      2. QuicksilverMessenger

        > ‘What is the good of a booster shot made against a spike protein that could be extinct?’

        Excuse my ignorance but does this mean that the spike protein of a new variant is different and that the booster is basically useless (theoretically)? I think I hear around my circles a lot of that old kind of “well if a little is good, then more must be better” thinking when it comes to getting a booster. And I would think to myself that what if the booster makes no difference whatsoever, and /or what if a booster might actually worsen your situation?

      3. IM Doc

        Viagra was initially going to be a blood pressure medication.

        The backbone chemical structure of all the SSRIs was originally created to be used as a coloring agent for paint and shellac.

        Gabapentin was originally a seizure medication.

        One of the components of Bactrim – now a common antibiotic – was originally an anti-parasitic.

        Some of the common older diabetic medications were originally modeled for chemotherapy.

        Even ivermectin is now used by not a few urologists for a very difficult urinary problem called interstitial cystitis.

        Shall I go on?

        The history of Pharma products is replete with chemicals that actually worked better for other indications than their original intention. Many of these were not found out until the drug was released and then subsequently experimented with by physicians for other uses. Much of these discoveries were total serendipity.

        1. Basil Pesto

          It’s amazing to me that colleagues of KLM and presumably yourself don’t seem to register this with regards to Ivermectin, not just because the examples of drugs that performed beyond their intended purposes are both manifold and manifest, but because these various molecules and their histories are so gosh darn interesting. The terminal incuriosity seems rather… unscientific.

    1. martell

      Not long, I hope. Yves’ comment reminded me of another old plane that’s still in service: the Mig-21. A contemporary of the B-52, the Mig-21 is much more like the AK-47. It’s a Russian design, so relatively simple, robust, and cheap (by comparison with the contemporary American types that the Mig shot down in alarming numbers). Designed to do just one thing (kill American bombers), it proved good enough in a number of other applications. I think it also worth noting that the Mig-21 is quite different than the B-52 in that at least some of the Mig-21 users had just cause for using it and it was regularly used against people who could actually shoot back. The same cannot be said of the B-52. For the most part the latter is a weapon of mass murder, used against practically defenseless people in the course of waging unjust wars. I look forward to the day when the B-52 is, like everything that ever saw combat with the Luftwaffe, nothing more than a museum piece.

      One more thing: the fact that B-52s are still in service and that steps are being taken to keep them in service for decades to come should be read as an indictment of US Air Force aircraft procurement. Time and again these people place orders for extremely expensive and complex, multiple role aircraft that simply cannot do the necessary work that older, lower tech aircraft do well enough. When it turns out that the new toys can’t get the job done, they scramble to preserve or even bring back supposedly obsolete aircraft. There are many examples of this, but since I’ve been on the topic of Vietnam, the old Douglas A-26 (redesignated B-26 post-WWII) comes to mind. Had to be taken out of mothballs and retrofitted for interdiction work against enemy supply lines, largely because newer and supposedly superior aircraft couldn’t do the job (jets, it seems, just aren’t very good at lingering). I’m sure readers can think of more recent examples of the same incompetence.

        1. martell

          It’s a sub-sonic strategic bomber that is surely the polar opposite of stealth. I think that the deficiencies of the aircraft would be quickly revealed in a war with anything better than a third rate power. The B-29 seemed state of the art in Korea too, right up until Mig-15s showed up, at which point the B-29 aged quite rapidly. But I will grant that the B-52 still does a passable job of killing defenseless (or very nearly defenseless) people in distant lands. Relative to that use, ‘obsolete’ is the wrong word.

      1. Fraibert

        Unusually, I’m not sure that your acquisition criticism is fair in the context of the B-52. The Air Force also currently operates the B-1 (supersonic heavy bomber) and the B-2 (stealth heavy bomber), but both of these are more expensive platforms that are harder to maintain. The B-52’s simplicity and large payload capacity (the B-1 comes fairly close, but the B-2 is around 40,000 pounds vs. 70,000 pounds for a B-52) makes it a good complement to more advanced bombers, and from a purely military standpoint, it’s good to have all three in active service because all serve somewhat different mission profiles.

      2. p coyle

        surely things like smart bombs and precision guided ordinance will suffice to fill this, for lack of better words, functionality gap?

  10. The Rev Kev

    “Look to Japan for lessons on Evergrande”

    But maybe not the lesson that this Gillian Tett wants to make. She says that the Chinese government should bail out Evergrande to keep the confidence fairies happy. And so the people that caused this mess should be rescued and made whole. I am of course translating her here. I was reading somewhere that at the height of Japan’s power, that the real estate value of the Tokyo Business District was the equivalent of the entire real estate value of the continental United States. That was not a problem as everybody is entitled to their own delusions. The problem was, as I understand it, that loans were being raised using the supposed value of those real estate holdings. And when the wheels came off, it was all over and they got crushed. China let their own mess get out of hand so they will either follow Gillian Tett’s advice and do a bailout as they are TBTF or they will do the hard thing which will get bloody. My guess on what they will do? They should go get themselves a gross of mops.

    1. Dictynna

      I hope the Chinese government simply takes over Evergrande without bailing them out, then winds it down as painlessly as possible. I suspect they’ve been learning from our mistakes…perhaps we can return the favor and learn lessons in turn.

    2. skippy

      I’ve noted that that during the 90s the Chinese took NPLs [36% of Chinese GDP] and then stuffed them into AMLs – thus avoiding the U.S. experience of the GFC.

    3. Yves Smith Post author

      I saw this firsthand at Sumitomo Bank.

      Loans against 100% of the value of land in central business districts in Japan, not just Tokyo but also Nagoya and Osaka. But the value were most inflated in Tokyo.

  11. Verifyfirst

    In Michigan, apparently providers might know how many vaccines you already received:

    About Michigan Care Improvement Registry, MCIR

    The Michigan Care Improvement Registry (MCIR) was created in 1998 to collect reliable immunization information for children and make it accessible to authorized users. A 2006 change to the Michigan Public Health Code enabled the MCIR to transition from a childhood immunization registry to a lifespan registry including citizens of all ages in the MCIR. MCIR benefits health care organizations, schools, licensed childcare programs, pharmacies and Michigan’s citizens by consolidating immunization information from multiple providers into a comprehensive immunization record. This consolidation reduces vaccine-preventable diseases and over-vaccination, allowing providers to view up-to-date patient immunization history in one system.

      1. Fiery Hunt

        I already know of at least 3 in Berkeley who’ve already gotten boosters 2 weeks ago. They called their docs and demanded it. And they’re quite proud of it…will tell anyone within earshot that they’ve managed to jump the line. It’s amazing what money and access do for health care “requests”…

        1. hdude

          I got my Moderna booster a month ago here in SE Az. Didn’t jump the line, not rich or powerful. Just live out in the boonies and told them I was too old to take a chance on not being “fully” vaccinated. Thankfully there are enough anti-vaxers that there is a surplus. This week my wife got Covid (single J&J), caught it from my 10 year old unvacinated grandson who lives with us and fortunately no one got real sick. Neither me or my 13 year old, who had his two Pfizer has any symptoms. OTOH – getting tested for COVID is almost impossible, because protocols. Screw the tests. We will just wait until next weekend to quit our quarantines.

  12. m

    Last time I had to get some vaccine records I had to call some state agency, but they didn’t have records before 90s or 2000s. God help us if records are nationalized, Bill Gates will get his dream come true.

    1. Terry Flynn

      The British system of digitisation of old records has IMHO worked well…. Which surprised me. I was actually able to see the attend/DNA status of every childhood vaccine I was meant to get in the 1970s in my NHS Record on the app. Though mum swore she never missed one, turns out she missed one out of about 20 given in my first 3 years (think it was my final measles booster – MMR didn’t exist in routine practice then). No biggie.

      However the gaps were far more obvious two years later for sister – “first pertussis scare” meant she missed it. Got pertussis and then pneumonia at least twice subsequently.

  13. jr

    Crapification watch: Dental scam

    So I had a root canal done a few months back and I was recently quite cheesed to see that I received no money back at all for my operation. I called the insurance company and was told I had been sent to an out of network dentist!! I’m disputing the charges with my CC company but watch out folks. It was quite a little scam, they had me thinking it was all my insurance company’s fault.

  14. ObjectiveFunction

    “Wang Xiangwei is a former editor-in-chief of the South China Morning Post. He is now based in Beijing as editorial adviser to the paper.”

    Alle ist klar, Herr Kommissar?

    (Or as I used to semi-sternly admonish my kids: Right thinking will be rewarded! Wrong thinking will be punished!)

    1. Blue Duck

      Atleast the Chinese are honest about their media acting as state propaganda organs. Here in the US we have to pretend that the media wing of the capitalist super structure is some august and laudatory institution in order to be considered a “right thinking individual”….

  15. Wukchumni

    Firefighters in the western U.S. have noticed a disturbing trend in recent years: fires are intensifying earlier in the morning and burning longer into the night.

    “Firefighters are still fighting the fire at 10:00 or 11:00 at night when historically they thought they could stop at 8:00,” said Brian Potter, a research meteorologist with the U.S. Forest Service at the Pacific Northwest Research Station. “What that means is the fire managers don’t get a break.”

    Everything is bone dry here, combined with relative humidity in the low teens at times, and as a result the KNP Fire refuses to get tucked into bed @ 8 pm and wants to party into the night, although we’ve been fortunate in that winds have been largely non-existent so the fire is moving about as quick as a 96 year old jogger with bad knees.

    The fire has reached Mineral King road and is now just a few miles from our cabin community. Fire retardant gel has been procured and will be sprayed on all structures (around 75 buildings) and the timing is tricky as it has a relatively short usefulness of around 6 hours in warding off flames, although by re-wetting the surface you can restore the fire resistance.

    It was invented by a firefighter who noticed that diapers didn’t catch fire, and used a similar process.

    Before this fire, i’d never heard of such a product and hope it works!

    A testimonial:

    1. The Rev Kev

      Good luck where you are, Wuk. But of course have your bug-out kit ready to go. If it all works out well with this fire, does that mean that all the excess fuel loading on the forest floor will have been burned off making future fires easier to tackle? With the small annual burn-off of course.

      1. Wukchumni

        Almost all of the acreage burned so far (over 10% of the total area of Sequoia NP) is nature acres far from trails or facilities, so it’s essentially one gigantic 44,000 acre prescribed burn of sorts, mostly in the mid-altitudes so think groundcover more than forest in terms of what’s being consumed.

        I’m looking at it as more of a cleansing opportunity in that it has opened up areas that were nearly forbidden on account of oh so much poison oak in particular on the North Fork, there’s a dirt truck road constructed in the 1930’s that hasn’t been maintained for many decades, and the one time we did a backpack trip i’ve never done as much bobbing and weaving to avoid the poison oak tendrils, but that was then and this is now, and bulldozers cleared out everything growing on the road, which will allow access to Hidden Springs, formerly the most forbidden fruit.

        The fire will be hugely beneficial in future conflagrations, in that there’ll be a bunch of dead ends where there is no fuel to keep on keeping on.

        Hard to say if we’ll need to do a mandatory evacuation, we’re thinking of going to the coast for a respite from the smoke, which has meandered down to SoCal, fouling the air there.

  16. The Rev Kev

    ‘According to the @globeandmail, the arrest of #MengWanzhou was the work of John Bolton alone, neither #Trump nor #Trudeau were informed of the plan. The request came to the Canadian gov on Nov 30, hours before Wanzhou landed in Vancouver.’

    Should have guessed that Bolton had his grubby mitts all over this. If threatening a man’s kids because that man did not give him what he wanted was OK with him, then hostage taking would be no problem for him at all. either And it has come out that not only was Meng’s arrest a setup, that US agents were taking part in her arrest. I suppose that the good news is that Meng is back with her family as are those two Canadians. Of course it was not a good look when Canada’s top spy agency said they joined all Canadians in welcoming them back to Canada as China said that they were spies.

    So of course the question is why? Why now? The only thought that comes to mind is that this is a a sort of deck-clearing operation. Up till now Canada has been constricted in its anti-China maneuvers because of those hostages and nothing could change there until Canada’s own hostage was sent back to China. With the Canadian elections now gone by and those Canadians back home, all sorts of possibilities open up. I am not saying that they will join AUKUS tomorrow but Canada will have more latitude in its actions now.

    1. Maxwell Johnston

      Maybe it was “clearing the deck” to allow the Canadians other possibilities. Or maybe the Canadians simply decided not to extradite her, informed the Yankees as such, and so a face saving deal was arranged in the form of a deferred prosecution agreement. The USA has been playing fast and loose post-1991 with its numerous extradition treaties and extraterritorial application of USA law, and many countries are getting tired of it. I think the Canadian government was more concerned with the fate of its two citizens being held by China (who are now free), than with its legal obligations to an increasingly fickle USA.

      Another extradition case (in London) is drawing to a close; Oleg Tinkov has reached an agreement with the IRS and will not be extradited. We will have to wait and see the details of his agreement with the USA, but my guess is that the UK decided not to extradite, informed the USA as such, and so a face saving agreement was concocted.

    2. Edward

      I have never been a Biden fan, but he– or at least his administration, seems to have more realism and a better grasp of the international situation then the average Washington blob person, as we saw with Nordstream and Afghanistan.

        1. Edward

          This is what I suspect. And yet the Washington establishment has been after Biden for actions like leaving Afghanistan. I think part of it is myopia but also the advocates of the war lost face and credibility from the withdrawal. Their sinecures may be threatened.

  17. allan

    While Mexico drowns in drug violence and corruption, AMLO targets … scientists?

    Mexican Government Seeks Arrest of Top Scientists in Funding Dispute

    Mexican prosecutors have asked a federal judge to jail 31 renowned Mexican scientists on charges of organized crime and money laundering, part of a growing dispute between the leftist government and the country’s leading academics and universities.

    The judge has twice rejected the petition to jail the scientists, saying the attorney general’s office hasn’t presented enough evidence of wrongdoing. On Wednesday the government said it would resubmit its request for arrests …

    The government is seeking to hold the scientists, who include astrophysicists and microbiologists, at a maximum-security prison where some of the country’s most notorious drug lords have been held, including Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán. If convicted, some of the academics would face more than 80 years in jail. …

    Since President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s administration took power in late 2018, the advisory committee increasingly clashed with the president’s appointed head of Conacyt, biologist María Elena Álvarez-Buylla, on whether government funding for science should be nonpolitical, or carried out with political and social goals. …

    Gen. Emilio Molina Vargas of the Republic of San Marcos approves of this message.

    1. hunkerdown

      You seriously take the WSJ’s editorializing at face value? Have you read Janine Wedel’s The Shadow Elite? The PMC has a long arm, especially when covering its backside for control fraud and woke grift.

      Members of the advisory committee said that they did nothing wrong and that the spending had been audited and approved.

      […]clashed with the president’s appointed head of Conacyt, biologist María Elena Álvarez-Buylla, on whether government funding for science should be nonpolitical, or carried out with political and social goals.

      She has sharply limited scholarships for young scientists to study at top universities overseas, arguing that students should study locally, and has said that scientific papers should be presented in Spanish or indigenous languages instead of English, moves that didn’t sit well with the advisory body.

      In other words, a wrecker seeking to disrupt AMLO’s access to teh secret spells of capitalist technology via woke recto-cranial inversion.

    2. ambrit

      In their defense, to do anything meaningful about the Cartels and drug violence in Mexico, AMLO and the Mexican government would have to wage a clandestine war against the United States.
      Also, as a South American head of state once replied to Reagan’s hectoring about “stepping up” their internal anti-drugs efforts: “If the North Americans didn’t buy the drugs, we wouldn’t be selling them.”

      1. Arizona Slim


        A friend used to work for a company that had its manufacturing operations in Agua Prieta, Sonora. BTW, the Sonoran plant did excellent work.

        He frequently drove down to check on things in Agua Prieta, and this gave him quite the opportunity to get a perspective on Mexico that many Americans don’t have. My friend told me that he thought Mexico’s biggest problem was the United States.

        1. barefoot charley

          Mexico’s first mestizo dictator said it best: “Poor Mexico, so far from God, and so close to the United States.”
          — Porfirio Diaz

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        If the drugs weren’t illegal, the North Americans could make their own drugs. Except for cocaine.

  18. Blue Duck


    Xi and the CCP have the opportunity to break neoliberal hegemonic consensus. By bailing out small entity and working class stakeholders, jailing or executing executives, using state owned banks to absorb domestic losses and leaving international investors holding the bag, Xi would be taking the exact opposite approach as Obama/Paulson/geithner/bernanke. This would show the neoliberal consensus that financial capital must be protected even at the expense of working class citizens to be a historic fraud.

    I was born in the mid-80’s, and IMO 2008 was the defining event of my generation. Infact I graduated with a finance degree in June 2008 :-/ It would bring me immense schadenfreude to see Obama and satans trio embarrassed by the Chinese.

    1. Lee

      IIRC, Lambert has made the point that the Chinese elites appear to be more afraid of and therefore more responsive to their working class than U.S. elites are of theirs.

      1. lordkoos

        I think that is because Chinese citizens are much more united around being Chinese than Americans are about being an American.

        1. Vandemonian

          …whatever “American” means.

          Probably not “South American” or “Central American”. Probably not “North American” either (unless you ignore the Canadians, as some try to do).

          To an outsider, much of the group solidarity in the USA seems to centre around being a [something]-American (pick your something: Irish, German, Polish, Cuban, Italian, African…)

          I’m sure there are group disparities inside China, but the country appears to have more top-down encouragement for national solidarity, rather than divisiveness.

  19. Lee

    “I hate videos as a medium for conveying information but this is worth your time.”

    I hate to begin my day by differing with she who so impressively and graciously runs things at this site but as both an avid reader and a fan of video, I must rise in defense of the latter medium, and offer as an example an 18 minute recent interview with an ICU nurse working at a hospital in Tennessee that is currently being overwhelmed by Covid patients. The type of information provided by this young woman’s observable demeanor would be difficult, perhaps impossible to convey by symbols on a page. After all, anatomically modern humans’ ability to communicate viscerally through voice and gesture precedes literacy by tens of thousands of years.

    1. antidlc

      That was hard to watch. I had to take a break half way through.

      I honestly do not know how these health care workers keep going.

      1. Glen

        Anecdotal evidence here, but my wife is a semi-retired RN, and my sister is an RN on a stress break. They both just burned out.

        Even before Covid, American heath care was managed by the normal American MBA PMC sociopaths that always ran everything maximized for profitability so that worker burn out was a concern. I think we’re past that now and well into – well, I don’t know what to call it.

        This was all quite predictable, and yet other than handing the giant corporations billions, I don’t see American elites doing any real changes that are going to do anything but make the insurance and pharma CEOs more rich, and the American health care death spiral continue.

        Just like I saw in the military, we have taken positions where we would traditionally see some of the finest American’s selflessness, devotion to cause and humanity, people motivated to do real good, and dumped them into systems directed by sociopaths that rely on that and grind it into the dust for their own profit. You gotta hand it to American elites, they certainly know how to profit from your humanity and desire to do good.

    2. pasha

      i don’t think you can watch that without tearing up. i applaud how she sympathizes with the suffering ICU victims and reserves her anger for the liars and deniers and corporate-underestaffers who put them them there

    3. IM Doc

      Incredible video –

      All I can say – I have been doing this for 30 years.
      I have never seen nurses and other staff leaving in droves like is happening now. Not even close. All over the country. I have never seen MDs and DOs retiring and leaving practice like they are now. Just in the past 6 months, 5 of my graduating residency class have hung it up. 3 were Critical Care docs, 2 were hospitalists. I do not find that to be a coincidence.

      Since my earliest days as an intern, I have had a real soft spot for nurses, CNAs, and RTs. They have repeatedly over the years saved my ass so many times I cannot count. To see them put in the position they are today is absolutely heart-wrenching. All the time I have them coming up to me and just erupt into tears.

      I do not believe the American people truly understand how close we are to the event horizon of totally unraveling our health care system. It is that bad. I really fear if this situation goes pear-shaped this fall and winter.

      I feel like the wrath of the whole country is on me every day. I and my staff never know when someone will go off. I never know how many times I am going back to the hospital when my waiting room is packed. People are angry and at times very out of control. I am very very tired of having to pick up after the constant miscommunication disasters of our federal health officials. People have every right to be very angry.

      This week’s shit show – trying to explain the federal health officials’ guidance on who gets the Pfizer boosters. The FDA and the CDC are saying two completely different things. It is literally – “who are you going to believe – the FDA or the CDC?” ——. In 30 years – I have never been put into that position. Not once. Not in the darkest days of the AIDS crisis was there this much confusion. I literally have to do the very best I can do – and hope that all the years of training are solid guidance in the chaos.

      Never in my wildest dreams.

      1. Skunk

        IM Doc,

        Thanks so much for what you and the other health care workers are doing. You are the heroes of this pandemic.

        It was well-known during the emergence of this virus that there is typically a small window of efficacy during which to take decisive action to try to prevent a novel emerging respiratory virus from becoming endemic. The coverup in China caused a loss of precious time. Still, it might have been controlled as in NZ if public health had been more important to leaders than the immediate economy. Sadly, the approach has not only taken this terrible toll on our health care workers and health system, but will also leave the economy more fragile in the long run than if decisive public health action had been taken at early stages.

        Thanks for what you and the others do.

    4. drumlin woodchuckles

      “Hating videos” seems to be based on over-privileging and over-valorising printed or written material. If one wants to know how to plant corn with a digging stick, one has to watch a video. There is no way to convey the information via print. Pictures and diagrams would get you part way there, but only the video can really show how do do it.

      1. Big River Bandido

        Oh please. I can see the point with the video above that text will not convey a person’s emotion.

        But videos intended purely to communicate information (which is to say, most of them)? This is like sitting in a department meeting while the leader reads from a printed agenda (or worse, slides), while I could be doing something worthwhile with my time (like eating my lunch). It requires an inordinate amount of time to convey a small amount of info through a recording, that I can process in a fraction of the time by skimming text.

        I’m reminded of Henry Kissinger’s contempt when he heard that Nixon had never transcribed the tapes of his conversations. Two years of audio or video require two years of auditing just to know the content.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            And upon reflection I would say further that “audio” is not “video” because “video” has “pictures” or even “moving pictures” while “audio” does not.

            If you are too good to watch a video conveying visual information which only video’d information images can convey, then you neither need nor deserve to know the information which can only be represented visually.

            Good luck with your “printed word” input only.

  20. antidlc
    Thousands more people than usual are dying … but it’s not from Covid

    While focus remains firmly fixed on Covid-19, a second health crisis is quietly emerging in Britain. Since the beginning of July, there have been thousands of excess deaths that were not caused by coronavirus.

    According to health experts, this is highly unusual for the summer. Although excess deaths are expected during the winter months, when cold weather and seasonal infections combine to place pressure on the NHS, summer generally sees a lull.

    This year is a worrying outlier.

  21. Joe Well

    “The U.S. has more in common with South America than Europe”

    This 1000X:

    “If you move in upper middle class circles, you know the conversation: A friend or relative comes back from sojourn in Europe with endless critiques of American life.”

    One of the biggest class gulfs in the US is the obsession with present-day Europe among the PMC, a region with which we have few people-to-people ties compared with the Americas and Asia.

    “Some of these comparisons are merely annoying, like the enthusiasm for soccer that’s become a paradoxical mark of cultural sophistication (in Europe, soccer is traditionally a working-class game).”

    I would love to support US pro soccer but the fan base is infused with the most annoying Europhilic elements of the PMC.

      1. Joe Well

        I’m talking about MLS. In the US, I have met a lot of Latin American supporters of their respective national teams and of home countries’ leagues and even Premier League teams.

        But none who support MLS.

        I’m sure some exist but they’re not the majority. I have yet to go to a Brazilian or Colombian establishment in the US that had a MLS banner or poster anywhere to be seen.

        1. Larry Y

          Soccer in the US also has a very young fan base. As a MLS fan, Euro fans don’t follow MLS either – we call them Euro-snobs. MLS fan culture takes from England, but also from college sports and Latin America (barra brava).

          Some MLS cities have better support than others – Portland and Seattle in particular. Maybe Atlanta?

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      I have been to tiny bits of Europe 2 times on group trips. Its not a lot, but its something.

      About London, I like the American system of street signs way better. But the London idea of having specific pull-out road-widenings for their very comfortable taxis to pull out into seemed nice.

      And within/between Prague and Budapest, Europe has the kind of train system which we had before a three way conspiracy of Firestone Tire and Rubber, Standard Oil of New Jersey, and General Motors stalked the land destroying it all. It would be nice to have that back again.

  22. marcyincny

    Like many I probably wouldn’t have paid much attention to the first COVID link about the crisis in Alberta but, as it happens, my sister-in-law and her husband who live in Ohio, have been VACATIONING there this past week and now we wait to see if they test negative before their flight from Calgary tomorrow…

  23. The Rev Kev

    “The US Space Force Will Wear Battlestar Galactica Uniforms”

    Those are the first unisex designed uniforms in the US military. But then they had to alter the design of the trousers for, ahem, male comfort. I guess that the grip was too tight but at least they didn’t go with spandex. And as they say, if you are going to steal then steal from the best. So the logo for the Space Force is from Star Trek, the ranking of Guardian is taken from Guardians of the Galaxy and now the formal uniforms are taken from Battlestar Galactica. It makes it sound like they are having a crisis of identity before they are even organized yet. As it is, these Guardians will spend most of their time staring at screens or manning offices so they just needed something comfortable. And of course something that would both make them stand out from the other services without embarrassing themselves too much. Good luck with that one.

    That photo of William Shatner reminds me though. At age 90, it looks like next month that he will be taking one of Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin rockets. And that is probably as tacky as it sounds-

    1. jr

      Thank you for pointing out the undoubtedly intentional similarities those uniforms have to popular (crappy) sci-fi movies. Having been in the military, I can assure you they will “land” with the troops. It’s grotesque. I was looking at a Superman comic a few years back and the US military was mentioned a number of times, in bold print, with adjectives like “mighty” and “brave” linked to them.

      The saturation of American, and probably the world’s, culture with the comic book icons of big entertainment must be nearing completion. The streets of NYC are filled, I mean filled, with the t-shirts, hats, etc., etc. of Marvel, Star Wars, and D.C. characters. I’m willing to bet every continent has an example; you and I both know some researcher in Antarctica has an “Iron Man” t-shirt in his trunk. We see it writ large in the JEDI article from yesterday (relinked for convenience):

      which led me right back to Lambert’s posting about the Society of the Spectacle:

      “The spectacle is not a collection of images, but a social relation among people, mediated by images.”

      And what do those images tell us? There are naturally superior beings amongst us who have the best interests of us all at heart; who are fit to lead (rule) by virtue of intellectual superiority, moral clarity, and if all else fails brute super-strength; who only turn to violence when absolutely necessary; who honestly struggle with the responsibilities of such powers, and who face a legion of bad guys in a global, Manichean struggle of good v. evil. In short, a Divine Right to lead (rule). Let’s remember both Iron Man and Batman are billionaires…

      Now I know that the story lines get more complicated than that, especially in the printed comics themselves, but I think it’s fair to say that most people aren’t engaging in semiotic analysis when they are reading “Wolverine”. The tropes I listed above are the take-aways, I’m willing to bet.

      Not to mention, the movies are generally formulaic and dull. Whiz-bang and little else. And they spawn clone after clone of TV series and “What If?” style media that is basically the same pot of dog$#!+ reheated again and again.

      No shocker there but it displaces better art in the minds of the public, if that art even has room to exist anymore. I recently was chatting with some acquaintances and the TV series “Watchmen” came up. Now, I am a big fan of Alan Moore, a Magician and a genius comic book writer, and I grudgingly sat down at the premiere, knowing it was going to suck donkey-balls hard. I was correct. I found the only worthwhile bit was seeing Don Johnson dangling from a tree. FYI Moore claims DC stole the rights to the “Watchmen” from him.

      (An aside: the movie was, erm, ok but a shadow of a whisper of the book itself. And I still have my doubts about that.)

      When the series came up, my ire and gorge rose simultaneously and I began to launch into a tirade about how bad it was and why. How it wasn’t worth a pimple on the a$$ of the original comic book. But before I could get the words out, one of my acquaintances exclaimed in absolute delight at how original and wonderful the series was, how it’s cancellation was tragic, and by the way have you seen the new Marvel TV series blah, blah, blah…

      Now, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but look at that link to the “Society of the Spectacle” once again and I think you will agree that the perceptions of the average individual are powerfully and routinely shaped by a cabal of media elites. Can we truly argue beauty is in the eye of the beholder when those eyes are inundated with a flood of manipulative, commercialized, and self-referential presentations? It’s that “Coke v. Pepsi” kind of freedom again, which pretty much describes our politics as well…..

      1. jr

        Another bon-mot from the Society of the Spectacle (my emphasis):

        “The spectacle presents itself as something enormously positive, indisputable and inaccessible. It says nothing more than “that which appears is good, that which is good appears. The attitude which it demands in principle is passive acceptance which in fact it already obtained by its manner of appearing without reply, by its monopoly of appearance.

        I think this pretty much describes the saturation I’ve described in my comment above. That saturation pushes out real art that might challenge big media “product” by “controlling the airwaves” so to speak, sets itself up as the sole aesthetic standard by which such media is judged, and floods the mind of the viewer with it’s particular ideological messages.

      2. Michaelmas

        my ire and gorge rose simultaneously and I began to launch into a tirade about how bad it was and why.

        Chill, dude. Those movies are what they are and the U.S. is what it is. Frankly, as I grow older, I’ve come increasingly to accept that Americans are a stupid people by and large, because that’s the way their Owners like it.

        What the Marvel films do occasionally have going for them is that they derive from the vision of one extraordinarily imaginative, talented man: Jack Kirby aka Jacob Kurtzberg, the pulp Michelangelo who drew and came up with the concepts and stories for about 80-85 percent of Marvel’s IP — based on the imdb credits and the fact that Marvel is finally paying copyright fees to Kirby’s heirs after decades of being sued — while being paid on a piecework basis.

        Here’s your man, Alan Moore, on how Stan Lee and Marvel stole it all from Kirby —
        Alan Moore talks about Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko

        Here’s an interview with Jack Kirby in later life. A rightfully angry man —

        If you think about it, it’s an extraordinary thing that the most profitable film franchise in history is based on the imaginative talent of one individual, Jack Kirby, who did that work with only a pencil and illustration board sixty years ago. It’s a typically American thing that for that work he was ripped off by corporate scum in the U.S., Land of the Rip-Off.

        1. jr

          “Chill, dude. Those movies are what they are and the U.S. is what it is. Frankly, as I grow older, I’ve come increasingly to accept that Americans are a stupid people by and large, because that’s the way their Owners like it.”

          An exhortation to “chill”, followed by a statement devoid of content, followed by a statement that not only indicates a need to “chill” but also essentially says what I said above. In fact, one could make an argument that the notion that things “are what they are” is a crystalline example of the main thrust of “The Society of the Spectacle:

          “In societies where modern conditions of production prevail, all of life presents itself as an immense accumulation of spectacles. Everything that was directly lived has moved away into a representation.”

          Nothing “is what it is” anymore, that’s the entire point being presented here. Are you denying that is the case?

          And the Watchmen series was garbage. At least the first episode was, I didn’t have the stomach for any more. As the great Alan Moore said: “”Well I do prefer to criticize things from a position of ignorance.” and with good reason given the dreck that has been produced from his genius. I don’t need to eat the latest McDonalds product to know it’s crap, it’s self-evident, it’s what McDonalds does.

          I have a lot of respect for Kirby but the fact that he fathered the American comic has nothing to do with the fact that those images are now a form of propaganda. In fact, all the same critiques I listed above can be applied to the characters and worlds that Kirby created i.e. a worship of power, might makes right, black and white visions of good and evil, the flawed but basically good natured natural aristocracy of the super-powered. No?

          1. Soredemos

            >As the great Alan Moore said: “”Well I do prefer to criticize things from a position of ignorance.” and with good reason given the dreck that has been produced from his genius. I don’t need to eat the latest McDonalds product to know it’s crap, it’s self-evident, it’s what McDonalds does.

            Moore’s perspective is nonsense, and deeply pretentious. It’s the same ‘wisdom’ that used to be spouted by the late Louis Proyect, who could assure us that The Wire was racist, having watched all of 15 minutes of it.

            1. jr

              Eh? His perspectives on >his< work and it’s derivatives (a kindness at best) are his own. He can be as pretentious as he likes. Not to mention he was ribbing the interviewer. Never watched the Wire but I did watch Battlestar Galactica at a time I needed a late night time killer and it just turned into a soap opera. Meh.

      3. Acacia

        > which led me right back to Lambert’s posting about the Society of the Spectacle

        Which posting by Lambert? Link? I’d be curious to read his take.

        1. jr

          I just copied the whole thing:

          “Lambert Strether
          September 24, 2021 at 2:09 pm
          Try also “Society of the Spectacle.” The situationists were onto something.”

    2. Edward

      I hope the Space Force doesn’t go beyond this theater. I haven’t noticed much of a response from countries like Russia and have doubts about how seriously they take it. The Pentagon seems to be struggling to attract the interest of Americans. A few months ago there was publicity around UFO’s.

      1. Soredemos

        The Space Force is largely theater in that fundamentally nothing has changed, but that’s because space was already militarized. It has been from the start. NASA was always a heavily military project, and the Air Force Space Command started in 1982. Here’s a decent summary:

        All that’s changed is that now they’re pretending that the Space Force is a full fledged independent branch, even though it’s still part of the Department of the Air Force.

        If you’re worried about warfare in space, well, that ship sailed long ago. Anti-satellite weapons already exist, and I assume that armed satellites, at least for hunting other satellites, already exist, regardless of what may be banned by treaties. The Space Force is easy to make fun of, but in principle it’s not crazy to have an agency focused on space, or at least orbital, warfare. It’s so not crazy that it’s been a defacto concern for the entirety of the Space Age.

  24. jr

    I have no words:

    “Meet Sophia: The first robot declared a citizen by Saudi Arabia”

    Sorry, it’s dated, but WTF?!? This is a degeneracy of the first order. Entities like elephants and apes, who can actually feel and think and experience things, are second place to a talking calculator. A lot of humans will be as well. This thing is not conscious.

    1. Tom Bradford

      “This thing is not conscious.”

      New Zealand has granted legal personhood – and hence citizenship – to a river:

      “The legislation, which has yet to be codified into domestic law, refers to the river as an “indivisible, living whole,” conferring it “all the rights, powers, duties, and liabilities” of an individual.”

      Perhaps imposing “the liabilities and duties’ of an individual onto robots as well isn’t a bad idea.

      1. jr

        Yeah, but it’s actually alive when viewed as a whole, although how one holds it accountable is beyond me. It’s literally filled with consciousness. But that lump of metal and rubber and silicone is inert, dead, not a trace of consciousness there, just digitally stored programming.

  25. Badbisco

    I truly appreciate the work NC does gathering great links but I would caution anyone to take Covid news/views from Feigl-Ding with a grain of salt.

    The tweet linked today may or may not have good data, I haven’t checked, but he is one of the loudest shrieking “covid-experts” and has been called out on multiple untrue/misleading tweets. His lack of infectious disease qualifications has been questioned and highlighted by multiple epidemiologists and news outlets.

    Just my 2 cents, everyone is free to do their own diligence on who they follow/trust/listen to.

    Have a great weekend everyone!

      1. Badbisco

        Don’t always agree with him, but I’ve found Vinay Prasad to be an excellent source of news, developments and opinions. His thoughts on schools/children/covid echo my own but may not line up with everyone here at NC.

        His analysis of the FDA/CDC/Biden tango has also been spot on and he does a great job of highlighting the damage to trust in health institutions from letting the executive/politicians determine best/approved treatments and policies.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Your comment is a violation of our site Policies. This is pure ad hominem. You admit to having NO fact-based criticism of what he said.

      He has gotten more careful precisely as a result of being criticized for his early shrillness.

      1. Badbisco

        Apologies for violating the site Policies in my prior comment. My fact-based criticism of this individual tweet is detailed below.

        While Feigl-Ding’s presentation of the APA data, ~3 children died per day over this five week period (102/35 days= 2.9), is accurate, his presentation of this rate as on par with annual pediatric cancer mortality could be seen as misleading.

        The Covid mortality data includes data from states that define children in various ranges. Almost all reporting states are using 0-18 or 0-19 to define children in this data.

        The ~3 daily death rate for cancer Feigl-Ding uses has a distinctly different population of only children <15, 2019 Data: (1,115 annual deaths/365 days = 3.05 daily deaths from cancer in children <15)

        If he had simply included the data from this same CDC page for 15-19 year olds (2.8 rate per 100,000), and Census estimates for 2019 (22 million population 15-19), he could have compared similar populations to get an apples to apples comparison.

        Doing so gets a rough estimate of 4.7 daily deaths of children from cancer in children 0-19 (2019) versus the 2.9 daily rate from Covid in children ~0-19 in the last 5 weeks of available data. This daily cancer mortality rate is 63% higher than the covid rate, rather than being "on par".

        Hopefully he's continuing to work on being more careful.

  26. bassmule

    A few items from a New Yorker interview with Céline Gounder, an epidemiologist and infectious-disease specialist at Bellevue Hospital and on the faculty of N.Y.U.’s Grossman School of Medicine, and was a member of the Biden-Harris transition team’s COVID-19 advisory board:

    What we’ve also seen, and this is typical of any vaccine, is that right after vaccination you get a big surge in antibody levels up front. But that’s not the only part of your immune system that kicks in; your immune system is forming a memory response, through memory cells. And so the antibodies may drift back down over time, but your memory cells are still there. Then, if you’re reëxposed to an infection, your memory cells kick into gear, and you get another surge of antibodies. The issue is that it takes three to five days or so for your immune cells to start revving up to make antibodies, and in that time the virus can still infect you and replicate—the incubation period with the Delta variant, for example, is about four to five days. Your immune system nips it in the bud before you get really sick, but you could still end up with a breakthrough infection.

    “That’s really how most vaccines work. They’re not preventing all infections—that’s what we call “sterilizing immunity,” and that’s actually quite rare. What most vaccines do is prevent the infection from taking off and making you sick. One of the problems with this whole debate around boosters is that people have had very unrealistic expectations of what vaccines can or can’t do. They think that seeing breakthrough infections is a failure of the vaccines, when it’s actually quite predictable and normal.”

    If you have already been fully vaccinated, there are diminishing returns on what that extra dose of vaccine will do to protect you, versus what it will do if it’s in the arm of somebody else in your community. You have to think about risk in terms of your risk reduction through vaccination, multiplied by the risk in the community. You as an individual will stand to benefit most by reducing risk in the community, if you’ve already been fully vaccinated. And the best way to do that is to vaccinate people who are not yet vaccinated.

    And it is still a scarce supply, you know—not just in the United States, but around the world. Less than four per cent of people in Africa have been vaccinated, and that’s going to be the incubator for new variants, which will threaten our pandemic recovery. This is not humanitarian. This is not about generosity. This is pretty much about self-interest: if you are actually interested in getting on the other side of this, you have to start paying attention to people who are not vaccinated—not just here but in the rest of the world.

    What COVID Booster Shots Can and Can’t Do

    1. flora

      Oh dear, I’m not sure what to say here. She starts out well enough and then seems to go off track. The oral polio vaccine and the smallpox vaccine are regarded as sterilizing vaccines. She then says “What most vaccines do is prevent the infection from taking off and making you sick. ” Yes, exactly, that’s what most people think vaccines do. Because Polio, Yellow Fever, Smallpox, Diptheria, etc.

      We don’t have multiple Smallpox or Polio vaccinated patients in hospital now.

      1. flora

        adding: the “sterilizing” effect is upon the germ itself; the germ might enter your body but cannot reproduce itself, it is “sterilized” from reproduction.

        1. Michaelmas

          The oral polio vaccine and the smallpox vaccine are regarded as sterilizing vaccines.

          They’re the minority. The truth is in fact as the woman quoted says: the majority of vaccines do not provide sterilizing immunity. That’s the way it is.

          Furthermore, no vaccine comes without problems. I once had to interview Ken Alibek, who’d run the old USSR’s bioweapons program, and Chuck Bailey, who’d been head of USAMRIID and thus arguably Alibek’s opposite number.

          Both men made very clear to me that their immune systems had been seriously compromised because they had vaccine records as long as their arms from the many vaccines they’d had to undergo during their careers. And that with any vaccine, in any sufficiently large population some people will have adverse immune reactions and possibly die.

          Again, that’s just the way it is. If your PMC neoliberal overseers tried to lead you to believe anything different, you’d be foolish to believe them. Wouldn’t you?.

    2. Edward

      “They think that seeing breakthrough infections is a failure of the vaccines, when it’s actually quite predictable and normal.”

      The reason people think this is because they are being told this by the government.

    3. SKM

      Bassmule, thank you for posting that dose of rational appraisal of the vaccines and how they actually and normally work; especially relevant to vaccines against respiratory viruses

      1. bassmule

        I am agnostic on this subject. I posted this to get reactions from people who are better-informed than I am.

    4. Cuibono

      “They think that seeing breakthrough infections is a failure of the vaccines, when it’s actually quite predictable and normal.”
      ROFL. Did she predict it? Doubt it

      Céline Gounder, MD, ScM, FIDSA
      2/ The science shows that:
      – VACCINATED people are PROTECTED
      – UNVACCINATED people are at RISK
      Cases are down by 1/3 in the last 2 weeks.
      The risk of vaxx’d persons transmitting to others is very low.

    5. IM Doc

      I would have to do some research – but I honestly do not believe any of the other available vaccines has this high of a breakthrough rate. The flu vaccines are non-sterilizing – but I have never known them to have the kind of breakthrough cases we are seeing now.

      The author of this piece really must go and look at all the articles from our media, politicians, and medical leaders from earlier this year. She really does have her head up her ass. The fact that you “could not get infected” was being screamed from the rooftops for months all the while with the ubiquitous 95% , and 97% claims. I am looking at my vaccine consent form right now. It clearly states that my experimental vaccine will prevent COVID infection.

      There were those of us with our hair on fire trying to get our colleagues to realize these vaccines were being severely oversold. Our efforts went nowhere. I became more and more concerned the more I heard my patients and their supreme confidence that they were done with COVID after the vaccine. Just look at the writing of many of our very brightest journalists – Andrew Sullivan for example. He wrote several pieces in the spring celebrating the fact that COVID would be over by JUNE. Where did he get that idea, I wonder?

      Writing such an article at this stage of the game is really a “Lucy grabbing the football” trick.

      This is my concern – If these people are not careful, the anti-vaxx movement which is now a fringe has the possibility of becoming mainstream. And that could be generational. They just simply do not get it. And they do not understand that articles like this do so much more damage to their credibility.

      1. Basil Pesto

        This is my concern – If these people are not careful, the anti-vaxx movement which is now a fringe has the possibility of becoming mainstream. And that could be generational. They just simply do not get it. And they do not understand that articles like this do so much more damage to their credibility.

        It’s amazing to me even now that they don’t even acknowledge this basic and obvious danger.

        what’s more, the vax-proselytisers of the west are of course anti-vax in the exact same sense that they paint the “vaccine hesitant” (or whatever you want to call them) as anti-vax, otherwise they would be calling for distribution of sinovac, sputnik, cuban vaccines etc and putting them on the exact same pedestal. These serious people are all so unserious.

    6. Yves Smith Post author

      Sorry, but the discussion of the usefulness of memory cells with respect to Covid is all wet. This is just a desperate defense.

      The first line of defense is antibodies. Memory cells are a secondary line of defense and kick in only if and when an infection is established.

      Covid typically moves so quickly, and faster under Delta (the progression to symptoms is one day faster than for the wild type) that the immune system is overwhelmed (the famed cytokine storm) that in most cases where the antibody defenses have failed, the infection has become dangerous before the memory cells are activated.

      Memory cells can be an important defense in slow moving contagions.

    7. Soredemos

      No, sorry, just…no. This is pure bullshit. In fact it amounts to gaslighting, and by engaging in it the medical establishment is putting whatever is left of their public crediblity even further into the woodchipper.

      It doesn’t matter if most vaccines aren’t literally sterilizing. That’s essentially a technical argument that doesn’t matter to the general population. In the understanding of the average person vaccine = you don’t get sick. Period. Because that is how our experience with almost every vaccine is. I just looked up the tetanus vaccine, just to refresh my memory. The wikipedia summary description is:

      Tetanus vaccine, also known as tetanus toxoid (TT), is a toxoid vaccine used to prevent tetanus. During childhood, five doses are recommended, with a sixth given during adolescence. After three doses, almost everyone is initially immune, but additional doses every ten years are recommended to maintain immunity.

      ‘Prevent’. ‘Immunity’. And that goes for basically every vaccine that people got as kids, and that they now get their children. That being vaccinated = immune is the entire underlying rationale behind shaming anti-vaxxers.

      By saying “oh, well see, immunity isn’t actually *immunity*, ya know?”, I don’t know what the hell doctors think they’re doing. Or if they’re even thinking at all. Because now people are left with two solutions: either 1. doctors have been lying about the efficacy of vaccines in general for decades, nay, generations, and are now just trying to casually let that interesting little factoid slip out now, or 2. they’re attempting to gaslight as and say that the problem is with us for not understanding vaccines properly as cover for the fact that the current covid vaccines specifically are turning out to be short-lived crap.

  27. Wukchumni

    What did Nancy Pelosi say to AOC right before AOC changed her vote from “Nay” to present?

    AOC thought the vote was in regards to the Iron Dame, er Nancy?

    1. DJG, Reality Czar

      What did Nancy Pelosi say to AOC right before AOC changed her vote from “Nay” to present?

      Come on, Wukchumni, you know what Pelosi, Uncanny Dominatrix of the Stock Market, said:

      “Alexa, if you want to win the Iowa primary the way that nice Pete Buttigieg did, you’re going to have to make any principles you have as flexible as his are. Now pass me my Kente cloth.”

  28. Jason Boxman

    As a practical matter, the official recommendations were unlikely to deter millions of Americans who might not be eligible yet from pursuing booster doses, by claiming medical conditions or weakened immune systems, by asking doctors to prescribe the vaccine off label or by finding a pharmacist willing to give them one. The C.D.C. said on Thursday that millions of Americans had already received an extra shot.

    Want a shot of a brand new vaccine that recently received approval without public comment on what appeared to be a politically influenced timeline? Sure!

    Want a prescription for IVM? Proven safe, with billions of doses taken. Nope!

    Fun times.

  29. Glen

    Another great Col Wilkerson / Paul Jay interview here.

    A Dangerous Provocation Driven By Commerce – Wilkerson

    Apologies if it has already been linked/discussed. At the very end is a hilarious bit about why Australia has to spend so much money on defense protecting their trade routes with China from China.

    Which goes back to a central question I have about our supposed “new cold war” with China. Funny, that, I don’t remember America sending millions of manufacturing jobs, and American taxpayer developed technology to Russia during the last cold war. China is our largest trading partner (if you can call it that – I certainly had nothing to do with doing this, and I never go to Walmart, and don’t use Amazon and have long thought “but we get cheap [family blog] $hit” was an insane reason to gut America’s industrial base.)

    So the whole war monger grifting has to go into high gear with our leaving that DoD money laundering operation in Afghanistan. But the whole loot the American taxpayer by the MIC is getting rather insane. If we are seriously, seriously going to have a real cold war with China, let’s start by throwing every American CEO and billionaire that moved one [family blogging] manufacturing job out of America in jail forever because they have been knowingly aiding and abetting the enemy.

    1. Susan the other

      Wilkerson link above really surprised me. “Israel will be gone in 20 years.” I’d think possibly more because of global warming than hot little wars of distraction. The recent pattern has been that every time the eastern Mediterranean gets peaceful something blows up. It would be amusing if the only country that throws in the towel is Israel. Just not worth it when you have to constantly disturb the peace to pursue your goals and, while you are not looking, all the fresh water dries up.

    1. Jason Boxman

      Given how ridiculous the markup is on items at CVS, at first I thought the story would be about CVS overcharging! But that isn’t the theft being discussed in the story.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Since Amazon is the knowing willing fence for all this stolen property, why don’t the big box stores launch RICO lawsuits against Amazon? Why don’t they try getting law enforcement to make RICO arrests and prosecutions against relevant Amazon personnel?

        Does Amazon have protectors so powerful within government that the big box store CEOs know trying to get something legal done is a lost cause so they don’t even bother?

        What if the CEOs themselves were to engineer a sort of rolling sting kind of thing? What if they figured out which things are most stolen and where they are stolen and buy some things built to self destruct once they are in the purchaser’s hands? And then set them out as bait for the thief rings to steel and fence through Amazon? Perhaps enough unhappy customers will degrade and attrit Amazon’s purchasing numbers.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Or why don’t the leaderships of all these stolen-from big box stores set up a secret fund laundered through several cutouts along the way so it can never be traced back to them . . . and use that fund to support union organizing efforts at the most likely Amazons first, and then more, and finally all of them?

          If the big box victims of the mass-shoplift-gangs Amazon fencing conspiracy can get all of Amazon totally and expensively unionised, that would at least be a measure of revenge.

        2. Big River Bandido

          RICO is criminal law, not civil.

          But I would love to see Amazon hit with a RICO prosecution…along with Google and Facebook. Would be nice to see a few of those CEOs stripped of all their wealth and forced to use public defenders.

  30. Wukchumni

    Something Large Just Smashed Into Jupiter Science Alert
    The thought was it was that Tesla that Elon launched into orbit last year, and upon entering Jupiter’s atmosphere started burning and never stopped even after impact.

  31. Edward

    “It is unpopular to say so, but the US had a sound legal case. Meng/Huawei was shockingly lazy about setting up the usual cutouts to insulate her/the relevant sub in their dealings with Iran.”

    How can the U.S. dictate to a Chinese citizen what business transactions she can engage in with Iran or any other country? Can China or Iran dictate the business activities of Americans?

    1. Larry Y

      She or her organization did business with Iran, then did business with the US banking system. Foreign entities prevent issues like that via “usual cutouts”, as the quote says.

      It’s similar to the US Foreign Corrupt Practices act, and which is most famous for getting the US to lower the boom on FIFA. If you’re going to do something the US doesn’t like, be it corruption or getting around sanctions, don’t use US-based financial systems.

      1. Kouros

        As legal as sanctioning China/Chinese entities, and potentially India and Turkey for purchasing highly sophisticated Russian weapons systems, in contradiction to US laws (CAACTSA or something like this)? Very sound legal case, especially if put beside UN Charter and other international laws and agreements, like WTO…

        And it is “pecunia non olet” attitude that is expected from the US if they want to keep the USD status as a reserve currency…

      2. Edward

        I imagine Americans do business with Chinese banks. Does this make Americans subject to orders from the Chinese government? “We, the Chinese government, have issued an arrest warrant for an American for engaging in commerce with the terrorist entity called Taiwan. We are allowed to do this because that person has used one of our banks”.

        Perhaps Meng could have avoided this whole ordeal by using cutouts, but she should not have to in the first place. China is not an extension of the U.S. government, and its citizens should not be expected to participate in a U.S. economic war they did not vote for and do not agree with. China’s foreign policy includes economic relations with Iran, including a recent agreement to invest $400 billion in that country, if I remember correctly. This rule is a U.S. attempt to interfere with that policy.

        America is throwing its weight around. Applying U.S. law to Chinese citizens concerning activities outside America is not an action that exists between equals. The Chinese still remember the “century of humiliation” when Europe forced unequal arrangements on China and I doubt they look fondly on what Washington is attempting. The Russians and Chinese keep stating their conditions for relations with the U.S. which includes treating them respectfully as equals as well as some other criteria. China is not a U.S. subordinate, and if the rule causes China enough problems they may retaliate, as they did in the Meng case by arresting two Canadians.

        I am not a lawyer, but I have a hard time believing that what the U.S. did is legal. It is similar to extraordinary rendition and the arrest of Julian Assange.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          No it is not, and it is remarkable that you are incapable of seeing the difference.

          As many experts have pointed out, virtually all of the charges against Assange go so far beyond statute and case law as to be fabrications.

          This isn’t even remotely the case with Meng, a Chinese billionaire in waiting whose companies have access to top level legal and financial advice.

          The US runs all dollar clearing. And we extended dollar swap lines to every central bank that counts, before and after the financial crisis, so the US does incur obligations as a result.

          Doing business in dollars subject anyone using banks that clear and settle in dollars to US law. Our house, our rules. Go look at our many posts on the way the US has gone after foreign banks with New York branches (necessary to have access to the Fed backstop of dollar clearing) for dealing with Iran, Somalia, and other countries on our naughty list, with very large fines and in the case of Standard Chartered, also forcing executive resignations.

          Dealing directly with Iran is in an even worse category legally than enabling dollar transactions. The company of which Meng was a director left its fingerprints all over Iran trading.

          The Chinese are free to impose their own rules with respect to the renminbi but haven’t so your hypothetical is irrelevant.

          You may say this is all selective enforcement, but I don’t recall you riding to the defense of Donald Trump, who is being prosecuted for tax abuses which are NEVER pursued criminally (heretofore, other perps have paid big fines) or Paul Manafort, who has been prosecuted for campaign finance abuses which historically never lead to criminal charges, just fines.

          The better argument is that this was yet more China eyepoking, that the if the US wanted to make a point, it should have gone after a few more cases besides Meng’s (highly likely that there were others outside Huawei) to improve the optics.

          Putting Meng on the same moral plane as Assange is utterly vile.

    2. Shleep

      How can the U.S. dictate to a Chinese citizen what business transactions she can engage in with Iran or any other country?

      See also “Rules-Based International Order”TM, which is where USA unilaterally imposes illegal sanctions on foreign countries.
      Not to be confused with International Law, where the UN Security Council imposes the same sanctions, making them legal and binding.

      Can China or Iran dictate the business activities of Americans?

      Not ’till they’re the ones making the Rules.

  32. Geo

    “Didn’t Harris fix this two months ago before moving on to Asia?”

    I’d say Kamala Harris is the Jared Kuchner of the Biden admin but Kuchner actually accomplished that embassy in Jerusalem thing. Horrible, but an accomplishment. Kamala ain’t accomplished nothing.

  33. Josef K

    Anti-social media is rather pathetic, focused like an adolescent on FOMO. Twitter now blocks viewing posted images etc, or watching threads, with the imploring “Don’t miss out on what’s happening!” Problem is, what’s “happening” on twitter just ain’t that valuable to me, Jack.

  34. Robert Gray


    ‘Hundreds of fishermen in Normandy, France, took to the streets and dumped fish …’

    One of my pet peeves: media style guides that take us for idiots. They have to specify this so that — what?!? — we don’t mistake it for Normandy, North Dakota?!? ‘Chicago, Illinois’ … grrrrr. ‘Tokyo, Japan; London, England; Paris, France …’ GRRRRRRRR.

    By a similar token, I always like to reply to online reporters who tell us such things as ‘At 10:15 A.M. on Thursday morning …’. I congratulate them on making it clear — i.e., otherwise we might have thought it was 10:15 A.M. on Thursday night. (ha ha)

  35. Tom Stone

    I have not been commenting recently due to a lack of internet access and an unsafe living situation.
    i hope that will change in a week or so, I’m missing NC and its commentariat’s wisdom.
    I did find time to send Craig Murray a card, and hope others will too.
    He is paying one hell of a price for his courage and integrity and the shameful treatment he has recieved from the Scottish State is deeply concerning to all who value the Rule of Law.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Sorry to hear that you have not been doing well, Tom. Take care of yourself and hopefully you will be back on top again soon.

  36. allan

    A Canadian COVID-19 study that turned out to be wrong has spread like wildfire among anti-vaxxers [CBC]

    An inaccurate Canadian study suggesting an extremely high rate of heart inflammation after COVID-19 vaccines has been retracted due to a major mathematical error — but not before it spread like wildfire on anti-vaccination websites and social media.

    The preprint study, which was released by researchers at the Ottawa Heart Institute last week but has not been peer-reviewed, looked at the rate of myocarditis and pericarditis cases after Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccinations in Ottawa from June 1 to July 31.

    The study identified 32 patients with the rare side effects out of a total of 32,379 doses of mRNA vaccines given in Ottawa in the two-month period, finding an inordinately high rate of close to 1 in 1,000 — significantly higher than other international data has shown.

    But the researchers made a critical error that experts say caused the study to be “weaponized” by the anti-vaccination movement at a time when concern over COVID-19 vaccine side effects are top of mind for parents whose kids may soon get the shot.

    The researchers mistakenly failed to record the accurate number of vaccinations given out during that two-month period, despite the data on total doses being publicly available, and the figure turned out to be astronomically higher than what was presented in the study.

    Instead of 32,379 mRNA vaccine doses administered in June and July, as the study suggests, there were actually more than 800,000 shots given out at that time, according to Ottawa Public Health.

    That means the true rate of side effects is closer to 1 in 25,000 — not 1 in 1,000. …

    Oopsie. To paraphrase Jesse Jackson, if you take the print out of preprint text you get pretext.

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