Links 10/21/2021

A Drone Will Rescue Three Dogs Trapped by La Palma Volcanic Eruption Gizmodo

Trapped in amber: Fossilized dinosaur-era crab bridges evolutionary gap ars techica (Chuck L)

Goodbye, Columbus: Vikings crossed the Atlantic 1,000 years ago Reuters (Kevin W). This is news?

A new report shows how climate change is hurting your health NPR (David L). Funny, I was more mosquito-chomped this fall than in recent summers.

The Ocean Cleanup Successfully Hauls 20,000 Pounds of Plastic From the Pacific Ocean MyModernMet (David L)

See How the Dixie Fire Created Its Own Weather New York Times

America Has a Sperm Shortage. One Man Is Reaping All the Benefits Esquire (resilc)

A salmonella outbreak is linked to onions from Mexico sold in the U.S. NPR (David L)


Covid: WHO warns pandemic will drag on into 2022 BBC. Pathetic. Not a hard call given the calendar and surges.

Putin orders nonwork week as COVID numbers rise in Russia Associated Press


Contrast the WHO’s “Water is wet” prognostication above with GM’s cheery update:

So someone finally measured the neutralization reduction and other properties of C.1.2 (the highly divergent non-Delta South African variant)

Not surprisingly, it is even more resistant than Mu/B.1.621, by a factor of 1.5-1.8 or so.

The scale of the assays is different, but in this one it is 7.8x for C.1.2 vs. 4.7x of B.1.621, while in the previous study that measured B.1.621, it was 12x for B.1.621. The 12x is probably the more accurate number because the other variants they tested there were close to their typical numbers, while here they are lower (e.g. this study finds 4.4x reduction for Beta/B.1.351 rather than the usually measured 8x)

Anyway, you get the picture, this is likely blitzing past existing antibodies with ease.

The good news is that ACE2 affinity seems to have decreased and that it is not as fusogenic as Mu/B.1.621. Which would imply lower transmissivity.

But, with one major caveat — there are actually quite a few variations of C.1.2 out there and they did not test the one that has many of the Mu/B.1.621 mutations, but the less mutated version. My bet is that C.1.2 + the R436 and T478 mutations is more dangerous.

In practice, it also seems to have not gone away in South Africa but even increased a bit in September:

So we will see what happens.

But in any case, this shows how easy it was to evolve really serious escape.

And since May 2021 the variant incubator that is South Africa has been working hard with a Delta template, so who knows what will come out of there. We will find out when the next wave starts.

Meanwhile we will still be injecting 2019 virus vaccines for most, if not all of 2022…

A cancer survivor had the longest documented COVID-19 infection. Here’s what scientists learned Science


A shocking number of US nurses are quitting, but a majority would stay for more money Quartz (resilc). Here because primarily a Covid effect, risk combined with lack of combat pay adjustment.

New York City Issues Covid-19 Vaccine Mandate for All Public Employees Wall Street Journal. No testing.

Right-Wing Radio Host Dennis Prager ‘Kept Hugging People’ to Give Himself COVID Vice


Moderna won’t share its vaccine recipe. WHO has hired an African startup to crack it NPR


China Evergrande shares tumble after failure of sale talks Nikkei

Evergrande is ‘just the beginning’: Professor says more firms must exit China’s property sector CNBC

How Sen. Manchin just Positioned Chinese Firms to dominate the Green Energy Markets of the 21st Century, Leaving the US in the Dust Juan Cole

Biden’s pick for China ambassador says ‘we cannot trust the Chinese’ on Taiwan Guardian


US still sees India as ‘challenging’ for business Asia Times (Kevin W)

ECB pushes banks to boost their post-Brexit operations Financial Times

Old Blighty

UK facing ‘terrifying’ food and drink price rises, industry warns MPs Independent

UK music industry faces ‘slow, steady decline’ because of Brexit barriers Politico

Welcome to Britain, the bank scam capital of the world Reuters (reslic)

New Cold War

Sochi probes the Utopia of a multipolar world Pepe Escobar

Russia to suspend direct diplomatic ties with NATO from November with US-led bloc’s Moscow mission ordered to close – FM Lavrov RT (Chuck L)


Afghan Officials Admit Driving Luxury Car in London As Country Fell to Taliban Vice (resilc). We have such good taste in allies.

Report: Israel Approves $1.5 Billion Budget for Potential Attack on Iran Antiwar

Vice President Harris Confronts a Reality Gap Counterpunch. Palestine.


House Intelligence Committee Seeks Answers from CIA on Plot Against Assange Joe Lauria (furzy)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Investors Use AI To Analyze CEOs’ Language Patterns and Tone Reuters

Imperial Collapse Watch

Economic Update: Signs of System Decline Richard Wolff, YouTube (furzy)

Sanctions Are an Inherently Indiscriminate Weapon Antiwar (resilc)


Trump announces new social media network called ‘TRUTH Social’ The Hill


Biden’s CBP Pick Supports Title 42 and Border Wall Construction Intercept. “Nothing fundamental will change.”

Biden accepts shredding of his social welfare/climate bill WSWS

Sinema’s Opposition Stymies Democrats’ Planned Tax-Rate Increases Wall Street Journal. WSJ exclusive:

Senate Democrats are considering abandoning central tax elements of their social policy and climate package, as a key senator continues to oppose any increase in marginal rates for businesses, high-income individuals or capital gains, according to people familiar with the matter.

Democrats Look for Tax Options If They Have to Ditch Rate Hikes Bloomberg

Democrats Face a Choice Whether to Expand Health Care Coverage to the Elderly or the Poor New Republic. Resilc: “EZ, poor don’t vote. USA USA. But another 10 bil a year for DoD.”

160 GOP reps warn Joe Biden to fix supply chain crisis before pushing his embattled spending plans they say is slowing America’s COVID recovery Daily Mail

Speaking of the elderly: “Kyrsten Sinema Fought For Seniors” Daily Poster

Fossil Fuel Drilling Plans Undermine Climate Pledges, U.N. Report Warns New York Times (Kevin W). U.N. apparently has to honor the fiction that the US is agreement capable.

Obstacles Biden could face in changing approach to climate cost-benefit analysis Yale Climate Connections

Hunter Biden pitched himself as expert in Russian oligarch targeted by FBI: Devine New York Post

Senate Republicans again block sweeping voting rights bill Guardian

LACERA files lawsuit against Los Angeles County Pensions & Investments (Joe R). LACERA wants to be CalPERS.

Supply Chain

Backlog of cargo ships at southern California ports reaches an all-time high Guardian

The MacBook Pro is the future of Apple’s ports mess Wired (Kevin W)

Mark Zuckerberg Will Be Added as a Defendant in Lawsuit Over Cambridge Analytica Scandal Gizmodo (Kevin W)

Tesla says new factories will need time to ramp up, posts record revenue Reuters

Price for drug that reverses opioid overdoses soars amid record deaths Guardian (Carla)

How to achieve full decolonization New Internationalist (Chuck L). MMT strikes again!

Class Warfare

Workers Wanted: Miners Offered $100k Per Year As Coal Prices Soar OilPrice

IATSE Struggles to Sell Proposed Deal to Membership Mike Elk

Antidote du jour (guurst):

And a bonus:

See yesterday’s Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. The Rev Kev

    ‘To allow US nuke armed warships to transit thru without violating Japan’s prohibition against nukes on its territory, Japan ceded its territorial waters in Tsugaru Strait to create international waters. Joint China Russia fleet have now sailed into Pacific Ocean aft passing thru Tsugaru Strait’

    The Tsugaru Strait is only about 12 miles (20 kilometers) at its narrowest between Honshu and Hokkaido.

    Did…did China and Russia just troll Japan by performing a Freedom of Navigation exercise?

    1. David

      I’d be interested to know what the source for the story about the US actually is. All nations that deploy nuclear weapons on ships and submarines have a variant of the Neither Confirm Nor Deny (NCND) policy that has been in effect since the Cold War. Without knowing what these warships are, it’s hard to know what the weapons might have been, or indeed whether they were actually carrying them, since such things are seldom if ever confirmed. The classic nuclear armament for surface ships (which I presume these are) was nuclear depth bombs for use against enemy submarines armed with nuclear missiles, although I’d be surprised if many nations deploy such weapons in peacetime today.
      The Japanese have had an informal policy based on a Diet resolution (not a law) on nuclear weapons for some time, one of whose components is the so-called “three principles”, including non-introduction of nuclear weapons into Japanese territory. In practice, US ships of types which carry nuclear depth bombs have been allowed into some Japanese ports by local authorities on the basis that no questions would be asked and no information given. This policy doesn’t actually constrain the government from allowing ships that might be carrying nuclear weapons to pass through Japanese waters.

      1. Anthony Stegman

        For decades nuclear armed US aircraft carriers visited Japanese ports – principally Yokosuka.. While technically in violation of Japanese law the violations were ignored by the Japanese government. The no-nukes policy in Japan is all theater. In a very real sense Japan is under US military occupation, and has been since 1945.

      2. Bill Smith

        It was announced in the early 1990’s that no US surface ships would carry nuclear weapons any more.

        Having them on board was a major PIA.

  2. russell1200

    “Goodbye, Columbus: Vikings crossed the Atlantic 1,000 years ago Reuters (Kevin W). This is news?”

    The news is in that they were able to date (from carbon 14) the exact year some trees (they had more than one sample to work with) that trees to make the settlement were cut down. Obviously that is an extremely precise dating for a (mostly) non-recorded, highly granular activity. The WSJ hardcopy had a pretty extensive story on it.

    The headline here is ridiculous.

      1. Phil in KC

        Or a Philip Roth fan.

        The Norse didn’t exactly keep their discoveries a secret. Even the Venetians knew. a 14th c. Venetian sword was uncovered in one of the Maritime provinces, most likely pre-plague, that is prior to 1346. But by then the climate was changing, cooling rapidly, at least in Greenland. Likely discouraging!

        1. Henry Moon Pie

          Roth was OK at the time, pushing soft porn into the respectable category (Remember Portnoy’s Complaint?). But Ali MacGraw is eternal.

  3. Ian Perkins

    Goodbye, Columbus: Vikings crossed the Atlantic 1,000 years ago Reuters (Kevin W). This is news?

    The news is only that they’ve put a firm and exact date on when three of the trees used in the buildings were cut down – 1021.

  4. Wukchumni
    We have to go about things differently…

    This will be the 3rd out of 4 years when the first fall storm to hit California will be powerful enough to put out fires, and why we aren’t using this to our advantage is a mystery that needs solving.

    We’re talking fairly epic widespread amounts of rain and snow coming Saturday through Monday to half of the state.

    If we had only prepared hundreds, no thousands of prescribed burn areas strategically situated to create fire breaks in the future, you’d want to light them up today or tomorrow and let Mother Nature do all the heavy lifting of extinguishing them on her terms, not ours.

    Our little 88k KNP Fire here will end up costing $100 million, why not create a hundred prescribed burns @ a million per instead, and in lieu of doing things in a hurry in the heat of the battle with wildfires, take our time and do it right?

    If the first storm of the year isn’t all that (as was last year’s 1st storm) you expand the prescribed burn perimeters the next year/s in anticipation.

      1. Wukchumni


        Yes, the mud slides will be epic and NoCal where most of the fire activity was this year, will be highly susceptible as that is where the brunt of the atmospheric river is headed, not that we’re any slouch down here in the Southern Sierra, with 4 to 6 inches of rain (the snowline starts @ 10k and gradually lowers to 7k over the course of the AR coming) expected Sun-Mon. The highest altitude the KNP Fire got up was just under 9k, so every last burned area is in play.

        All 5 forks of the Kaweah River will have ash coming down from steep denuded hillsides, the feel is that of a Cat 5 hurricane 4 days away and nothing you can do to stop it from wreaking havoc, except get out of its way.

      2. Tom Stone

        Slides will be a problem across the State and spawning grounds will be buried under the ash.
        I’ve had roughly 2.5″ of rain so far, will likely get another inch before Sunday and then 2″-4″ or more Sunday/Monday.
        Slides and flooding are going to be widespread and the amount of nastiness washing into watercourses after the long drought will be significant.

        1. jo6pac

          Sad about slides and streams. I’m a few miles east of Tracy, Calif. and the total so far is ,09. Storms break up over Tracy then gather back a few mile east. There been a lot of rain in South Lake Tahoe so hopefully it will put the fires out.

          Here’s a fun weather site.

    1. Darius

      Am I correct that bureaucratic inertia on all levels means that nothing more than a fraction of the necessary prescribed fire will ever happen?

      1. Rich

        I wouldn’t call it bureaucratic inertia. Funding and the training pipeline is the biggest problem. To do a prescribed burn well requires firefighters who have been trained in how to do one and building a body of practice. Right now there is no training pipeline … hopefully, that will change soon with the big bill that was passed to develop a state fire institute to train fire-fighting professionals in how to do prescribed burns safely. There are liability issues too but funding is a bigger problem … and not just a California problem. Many of the fires across the state are in federally administered forests and their funding is just as tight as the state’s.

    2. Mantid

      Yes, but proscribed burns all over N. Cali would be an immense job, seriously immense. People may not realize how dense some of those forests are. Some fires start in the tree tops, some on the ground in the brush or grasses. Huge swaths of forest in Cali are dead, with standing, dry timber over acres. Ant that’s only California. The forests up here in Oregon, Wash. British Columbia are just as dense though the tree death is less at this time – yet increasing rapidly. I think, using your general calculations Wuck, the U.S. would have to put a year long halt to military payments to address this problem. This problem is of such scale!!! Then, when it rains, that ash being like (almost microscopic) little flat shards or bits of a slate roof, allows the water to just fly down a hill. And….. it acts like concrete (I think is used to make concrete) and hardens on the ground when hit with light moisture forming spillways. What a mess.

      1. Wukchumni

        We currently have no foreign enemy we are going to war against (I think) and our sworn enemy now is fire, a ruthless foe who shows no quarter and likes to take over territory en masse.

        Just had an F-35 flyover for the first time in months, what did that joyride get us, exactly?

    3. howseth

      Last week – here in Santa Cruz County – they did a prescribed burn (on a retired fire Chief’s property – no less) And it got out of hand – brigades of fire fighters had to be called in. Then – the rains came a few days ago – fires out.
      Last year – where with live – within the Santa Cruz City limits – we had bags packed ready to go – Somewhere? The smoke was so thick. We stayed because we had an air purifier – and remained in one room with it. That was September. Meanwhile, about 1/2 mile north of us people were ‘ordered’ to evacuate.

      People that Have a house amongst the lovely woods in these parts – in California- is ever more risky.

    4. Glen

      Well, all that loot is sure not getting to the actual fire fighter. There is an article in The Guardian about how new firefighters live in their pickup trucks because they cannot afford housing, and are leaving the profession.

  5. The Rev Kev

    “The Ocean Cleanup Successfully Hauls 20,000 Pounds of Plastic From the Pacific Ocean”

    I know that the good intentions are there and that something has to be done but – only 20,000 pounds of plastic was collected? And this only happens after the plastic has been purchased, used, thrown away and ends up at sea? It would be better to stop it at the source rather than wait until it is rubbish. For a bit of context, here are five things that also weigh 20,000 pounds-

    1. Mr. Magoo

      The ocean trash pickup is as impressive as the recently opened “World’s largest carbon capture plant” in which its yearly output captures about 3 seconds of global CO2 production.

      But simpler steps such as slowing down to 80km/hr on the freeways, may save as much as 30% from the transportation sector emissions.

      ….nah, too easy.

      1. raspberry pie

        Consider how much less carbon would have been spewed into the air all these years had the driving public not insisted on motoring around in humongous SUV’s and trucks.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          It’s not just the public, but fuel mileage standards. The ones Obama out out encouraged bigger vehicles.

          1. Caleb

            How about the losing wars in the Middle East? How much carbon was emitted by the Offense Department and then wasted by bombing and destroying high carbon concrete structures, which will be partially rebuilt, using even more carbon, except in Palestine which has a cement blockade imposed by the Israeli government, to stop carbon emissions I guess?

        2. Ian Perkins

          I don’t have any numbers, but would it have been that much less CO2 emitted? Those huge SUVs and pick-up trucks are very noticeable (and very obnoxious for many reasons, if you ask me), but the drivers would probably still have been driving without them, just something a bit smaller. And how much of transportation’s carbon footprint is from cars anyway? My guess is the switch to giant SUVs and pick-ups accounts for a fairly small extra amount of emissions percentage-wise.

          1. Anthony Stegman

            I would think that the carbon footprint from motor vehicles is quite substantial. There are more than 100 million in use in this country alone.

          2. Henry Moon Pie

            Here’s a way to play with some numbers, though it won’t give you a percentage of total carbon emissions. The calculation is done in terms of the Nature Conservancy’s “carbon footprint.”

            Go here.

            Click on the plane icon to advance to the travel section of the calculator. Reduce it down to one vehicle, and then you can play with that vehicle’s mileage and annual driving miles to get the travel portion of the carbon footprint (you’ll need to scroll down a little to get that number).

      2. cnchal

        From the Wired article:

        The findings assume two things. First, there is a viable alternative to driving, such as a comprehensive rail system. And second, that people want to return to urban centers. The researchers concede these points when they note the findings apply only to the Netherlands and may vary elsewhere.

        The double nickel speed limit was tried and it led to radar detector wars on the highway and grossly inflated punishment rates from the insurance companies for getting a ridiculous ticket for ten over. It was wildly unjust and also led to a general hatred of the cops.

        There is also such a thing as being bored to death and running off the road.

        The absurdity of 6000 lb + panzerkampfwagens shuttling the children to flute class and then to swimming and to the hills for skiing on weekends is never examined, nor is the colossal waste in the food system where nearly half the calories produced are thrown in the garbage.

        Why not charge a road tax depending on vehicle mass. A 3000 lb car, like my 01 Accord causes a sixteenth of the road damage a 6000 lb panzerkampfwagen does. My plates are a hundred and twenty per year. The panzerkampfwagen should be $1920 instead of the same as my Accord. That would align incentives with reality but enrage those sold on their favorite defensive driving tactic.

    2. Tom Bradford

      I was puzzled by the triumphantalist tone of the headline and wondered if it hadn’t reported ‘pounds’ instead of ‘tons’, although even 20,000 tons of plastic removed from the Pacific would hardly scratch the surface, so to speak.

    3. Maritimer

      “It would be better to stop it at the source rather than wait until it is rubbish.”
      Can’t do that, it would make too much sense. Therefore, the trash is generated by the Mega Corps and thence to you, Human. It is your job to deal with it, sort it, set it out for pickup by huge Garbage Conglomerate owned trucks. WalMart, Amazon, Stuporstores do not want to cut back on their marketing/packaging. Meanwhile, the Garbage Cartel has gone global and makes a binload of loot. Sound familiar?

      Meanwhile in Ole Blighty:
      “‘SEVEN bins will drive people mad’: Warning over plans to force homes to have separate containers for glass, metal, plastic, paper, garden waste, food waste and non-recyclable materials”

      You Humans sure are a problem with all your Garbage.

  6. Terry Flynn

    Re Nurses and money. The conclusions that although being paid a decent, fair wage would help a lot but wouldn’t be the only factor is totally unsurprising to me. I saw recently a post on NC about how the GPs in places like here in UK “don’t want more money” and are motivated by a host of other things. I must admit I laughed out loud. Anybody familiar with Blair’s health policies will know that he set a bunch of targets (vaccination rates etc) that were to be rewarded by extra cash. Surprise surprise, GPs (family practitioners for those across the pond) are incredibly motivated by cash. The “modelling” done by govt (assuming a fairly low amount of extra cash to be spent) was rubbish. Most GPs achieved the targets and GP salaries went through the roof, causing a crisis whereby GPs were earning far more than hospital consultants.

    Blair then had to spend a lot of time trying to pull GP salaries back down to re-establish a salary pattern that reflected the amount of training and expertise doctors had. This then led to GP resentment, culminating in the current state of affairs where there aren’t enough GPs and the remaining ones are complaining about Boris’s plans to encourage more in-person appointments. It’s like the famous “spider” picture used in elementary economics to explain why agricultural economic demand and supply functions are often perpetually out of synch due to production lags.

    Now, like I say, there are a lot of savvy GPs who know the “small print” about the vaccines and have good reason to be suspicious of in person appointments so history won’t exactly repeat but it may rhyme. The articles I saw referenced recently in a post on NC about “why GPs care only about a load of non-monetary things” contained several choice experiments, one I refereed and recommended “reject unconditionally” and used it in my class about “how NOT to do a choice experiment” – not least because the stated preference outcomes were demonstrably the opposite of what happened in real life, though there were fundamental flaws in the methodology too. I was ignored.

    Weird PS relating to prediction and concordance with reality. Friend (worked in AI at Google, now moved on to another such job he doesn’t talk about much) told me my Google Scholar profile was through the roof. He had no reason to have looked at it, unless he had to professionally. I had a look – first time in ages. I’m being referenced by all those AI people NC regularly worries about. I don’t know whether to be flattered or frightened……I’m doing better than Professors of Health Economics who are STILL in academia, despite fact I left years ago, having written a key textbook which is what they’re all referencing….

    1. ZacP

      Personal anecdote…in my area higher pay for nurses has finally trickled down from travellers to full time staff, regular wage + $20-50/hr for extra shifts worked. It has followed in each hospital for a month or so where people make some money, but then they get tired and it becomes a joke. I find this interesting because until the pandemic I thought the administrators had a pretty good thing going for themselves where the culture among us wage earners was about who could work the most hours and sleep the fewest. Now things are different.

      1. Wukchumni

        My buddy who is an ICU RN in the CVBB and really the go-to guy for all of the other RN’s in the ICU ward as he really knows his stuff, related that RN’s can make $250 an hour doing an 8 hour overtime shift. Normal pay is around $500 a day, but if you can power through another shift without falling asleep on the job, you get 4x as much.

        Where’s does all the money come from to pay such highfalutin salaries?

        1. juno mas

          Well, $500/day for an RN is about $64/hr. My doctor billed $100 for a ten minute “How ya doin?” while making his rounds at the same hospital. Healthcare is expensive and nurses seem to dispense more of it than anyone else.

  7. Ian Perkins

    Fossil Fuel Drilling Plans Undermine Climate Pledges, U.N. Report Warns New York Times (Kevin W). U.N. apparently has to honor the fiction that the US is agreement capable.

    If only it was just the US. “The report looked at future mining and drilling plans in 15 major fossil fuel producing countries, including the United States, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Canada, China, India and Norway. Taken together, those countries are currently planning to produce more than twice as much oil, gas and coal through 2030 as would be needed if governments want to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels.”

    1. Ian Perkins

      And, not surprisingly, various countries are hard at work lobbying the UN to effectively support climate change. Greenpeace got hold of over 32,000 submissions from companies and governments hoping to water down anything agreed at COP26.

      The leak reveals Saudi Arabia, Japan and Australia are among countries asking the UN to play down the need to move rapidly away from fossil fuels.
      It also shows some wealthy nations are questioning paying more to poorer states to move to greener technologies.
      An adviser to the Saudi oil ministry demands “phrases like ‘the need for urgent and accelerated mitigation actions at all scales…’ should be eliminated from the report”.
      Australia asks IPCC scientists to delete a reference to analysis of the role played by fossil fuel lobbyists in watering down action on climate in Australia and the US.
      Brazil and Argentina, two of the biggest producers of beef products and animal feed crops in the world, argue strongly against evidence in the draft report that reducing meat consumption is necessary to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

      Et cetera et cetera.

      1. John

        Because markets? We all know that short term profit “trumps” all other considerations. I assume that the people who hold such views either have no children or grandchildren or are unconcerned about the future they are willing to them.

  8. JohnA

    Report: Israel Approves $1.5 Billion Budget for Potential Attack on Iran

    When will the US send the $1.5 billion check to cover this, or is it already in the post?

      1. John

        But Israel’s Saudi fellow travelers have been cozying up to the Iran. How can this be? Oh wait … the Saudi’s have a garage full of American military equipment that, according to what I read, they will not, do not, cannot maintain, but hire Americans to get their hands dirty. No threat there and besides they have been trying to bomb Yemen into submission without success. Israel has no worries on that front.

      2. Randy

        I dunno, it’s obviously not enough for a full-scale war, but you can probably fund quite a few more hacking attacks and maybe even another drone assassination or two with that kind of cash.

    1. Ian Perkins

      Debka had a piece on their website earlier today suggesting Israel may settle for Iran stopping just short of an actual nuclear weapon, if the US and Russia provide guarantees it will go no further, with ongoing negotiations toward this. It could obviously be dis- or mis- information, but interestingly, the story’s no longer there. (Wish I’d saved it now!)

        1. Soredemos

          Iran doesn’t have a nuclear weapons program, a fact Israel is well aware of.

          (though at this point I’m sure there are increasing voices within the Iranian government saying “you know what? Screw it, we SHOULD have a nuke”. Because as is they’re enduring all this damage without anything to show for it at the end)

        2. Polar Socialist

          US and Russia already provided guarantees, it’s called JCPOA. We’re in this situation because Israel made US to walk out of the agreement.

          In any case, why should Israel have any say in how Iran (or anybody else) uses nuclear energy. It’s not participant in NPT, nor does it allow IAEA’s inspections on it’s nuclear facilities.

  9. russell1200

    “How to achieve full decolonization New Internationalist (Chuck L). MMT strikes again!”

    This has all been tried before. It can fail in a number of different ways, but the primary problem is that unless the countries are willing to opt out of the world economic system (which India sort of did for a while), and accept slower growth and a bit of “stagnation”, they need to earn foreign exchange to buy stuff (like oil) that they don’t have. At some point that foreign exchange has to interact with the local economy, and taxing away money isn’t going to change much there. Waving your hands and saying you won’t allow capital flight has pretty much been done before. It helps, but its not a solution.

    The big economies, that have their own currency, can use financing to push down costs in the near term. They could use MMT to kick the can a little further down the road. Little countries aren’t that much different, it’s just at their economic (and political clout) level, they aren’t allowed to fabricate the finances too far.

    1. Ian Perkins

      It also largely ignores the role of military interventions, coups, assassinations and so on. The article even mentions Burkina Faso’s Thomas Sankara and his call for united debt resistance – and look what happened to him. He was assassinated, and his widow accuses France of being behind the plot. (Former president Compaoré is currently on trial, in absentia, for complicity in his murder.)

      Pretending that economics is separate from brute force is ridiculous. The New Internationalist reminds us, “Recent research shows that rich countries rely on a large net appropriation of resources and labour from the Global South, including 10 billion tonnes of raw materials, 800 million hectares of land, 23 exajoules of energy and 200 million person-years of labour per year.” They’re unlikely to give all that up without a fight, and they’re unlikely to limit their weapons to the purely financial.

      1. Susan the other

        The MMT logic is impeccable. Just ask Gandhi. There is no reason sovereignty cannot be used to improve civilization at every level. The key is “improve”. Because money itself is only as valuable as the value it subsequently creates. Otherwise money is just a shiny thing, just pure nonsense. So basically everything should be put in a futures market. Not tomorrow but 10 years hence. And no skimming permitted. There’s no immediate gain on anything spent today. And that puts all of us industrialized, over-consuming, frazzled-into-a-profound-state-of-ignorance northern colonialists at a logical (hence moral) disadvantage. But fortunately MMT can also be used to equalize our own mess.

  10. zagonostra

    >Protesters claim Italian authorities tampered with ‘live webcam’ to show empty square instead of huge anti-vaccine-passport rally

    They say truth is the first casualty of war, and so it is.

    Protesters and others online have accused the Italian authorities of tampering with the webcam to ensure news of the unrest did not travel far.

    Others highlighted further discrepancies between the live webcam and the scenes in the square…Trieste authorities have not commented

    1. John

      Indeed they are. But this is not news. The current iteration of the national Democratic party has only one idea of what it is doing or why it is doing it: winning, someway, somehow in 2022 without doing any actual work, any down and maybe messy and dirty politicking. Better clean hands and a head in the clouds, or perhaps some dark place. I close with a couple of political clichés: “Politics ain’t beanbag.” and “All politics is local.”

    2. JohnA

      Not so much crazy, more shareholders in the MIC. Got to keep the shareprice up and dividends rolling in.

    3. Phil in KC

      As a wise man once observed, no matter what side you’re on, one party will anger you, and the other will disappoint you.

      However, in these weird times, I add this to the formula: both parties will frighten you.

    4. Mantid

      They put green dye in the water with pictures of Ben Franklin floating. It’s really cool looking and tempting to drink, with a shot of gin of course. Bahstahrds!

  11. The Rev Kev

    “Right-Wing Radio Host ‘Kept Hugging People’ to Give Himself COVID”

    It takes a particular sort of person to be a right-wing radio host. At age 75 he was willing to risk his life on a decision that he could not pull back on if it worked? Was that wise? About twelve years ago there was a right-wing radio host in Chicago named Erich “Mancow” Muller that, during the argument about water-boarding, came out on radio and said that not only was it not so bad as it sounds but that he would prove it by setting up a demonstration. Below is the transcript of what happened next-

    1. griffen

      Oh goodness, how the stupid just burns. On both accounts. I’m sure the campaign event where the host aforementioned Prager was fastidious in his efforts to catch covid is thrilled to learn about this. Afterwards.

      And as to the waterboarding, well the guy changed his tone double quick!

    2. Wukchumni

      Pretty liberal LA has had a few of these far right radio nutters for many decades, Larry Elder almost became governor!

      Dennis Prager is different in that he’s essentially a Jewish Billy Graham, and although I hesitate to term him a self-hating Jew, thats what he seems like to me.

    3. Dr. John Carpenter

      Mancow, who is still doing his thing (although on-line now, I think), is a piece of work. In the wake of Howard Stern, we had so many wannabes who took the worst of Stern and combined with the worst of reactionary, right-wing radio. Street Fight Radio is covering them on their Patrion feed, which I haven’t had the cash to check out yet, but as someone who thought he was going into radio right before Stern broke, I find all this fascinating.

      Incidentally, in the 80s our locals, Bob & Tom, were about punching holes in the hypocrisy of local government, at least as far as local politicians were trying to make a name going after them. While I wouldn’t say they were necessarly political beyond First Amendment stuff, at least they weren’t trying to out Limbaugh Rush either. Of course, when they syndicated in the 90s, they got blander and became more of a promo stop for comedians. Still, Stern couldn’t get a foothold in Indy because of them, and he made it known he was trying. I’ve always that was interesting as he had a thing about getting into a market and steamrolling the locals and he was huge at the time.

    4. Ian Perkins

      ‘Tough guy’ Jesse Ventura was waterboarded while training as a Navy SEAL. His conclusion? “You give me a waterboard, Dick Cheney, and one hour, and I’ll have him confess to the Sharon Tate murders.” I guess part of its appeal for the torturers and their superiors is that it sounds so innocuous – they just pour some water over your face – that the electorate’ll see nothing wrong with it.

      1. Soredemos

        This is a somewhat pedantic point, but Ventura was never a SEAL, and never got SEAL training. He’s gotten a lot of mileage out of claiming he was one, but he’s being very loose with the truth. Ventura was Underwater Demolitions Team, which was the predecessor to the SEALs. Now you could argue that that’s just a technicality, but it was more than simply a name change. The old UDT members weren’t just grandfathered in; they had to get recertified to be SEALs. Ventura was never recertified.

    1. griffen

      Much too cute for wookies, though I submit that Chewbacca does offer a sort of charm with those guttural vocal noises.

      1. diptherio

        Even wookies are cute when they’re babies.

        Seriously though…sloths? I’m gonna say sloths…or ewoks.

  12. zagonostra

    >Mix & Match

    I’m thinking this is a moment similar to “don’t wear masks, wear masks,”

    IIRC, a couple of months ago the FDA told us to NOT mix vaccines, as that could be dangerous. What the heck is going on? Is this reversal based on “science?” Is everyone so jaded with virus/vax discussion and has made up their minds one way or another that it just doesn’t register anymore?

    1. Nikkikat

      Could the CDC and FDA be any worse? One week it’s no mix and match, then suddenly it is mix and match. The data changed or what? Also noticed this with J an J coming out a few weeks ago claiming that antibody levels etc were still good at 8 months after vaccine injection. Now they want to give a booster at 2 months after injection. What did these people do? Draw straws roll a big dice down the table and where it lands is the new protocol?

          1. Maritimer

            I would bet $100 that Saint Fauci was an Altar Boy. I knew a few ABs in my time and every one would brag about either dipping into the Sacramental Wine or reappropriating cash donations. Excellent training for a career in the Medical Rackets.

      1. Ian Perkins

        antibody levels etc were still good at 8 months after vaccine injection. Now they want to give a booster at 2 months

        There’s no contradiction there. Antibodies or no antibodies, they make money from each jab, so naturally the more the merrier.

    2. Shleep

      I’d venture that it’s because a *lot* of Canadians got mix ‘n’ match. This announcement comes a couple of days before today’s re-opening of the Canada-US land border to US-bound traffic.

    3. Sutter Cane

      I’m fine with updating or changing recommendations as new data emerges. This is a novel virus, after all. Changing recommendations at least shows that they are responding to new data.

      However, the messaging has been convoluted and botched throughout. A simple “We don’t have enough data to make a determination at this time” would have been so much more useful than the constant saying one thing, then contradicting that statement a short time later. It also would have perhaps trained the public to understand that recommendations would change as new data emerged, and let them get used to expecting such.

      Instead, the constant contradictory public health statements have caused a majority of people to give up and tune out entirely.

      1. zagonostra

        Just curious, In view of your statement: ’Im fine with updating or changing recommendations as new data emerges. This is a novel virus, after all. Changing recommendations at least shows that they are responding to new data. are you fine with vaccine mandates where consequences of non-compliance is that I lose my job.

      2. PKMKII

        Definitely has the feel of a high school teacher who clearly doesn’t know what the answer is to a question a student proposes, but doubles down on insisting on an answer because they fear their authority being undermined if they admit weakness.

    4. Katniss Everdeen

      “Mix & Match”

      Sounds like the BOGO specials at Publix that change every Wednesday. Buy one package of Oreos and get a package of the same or any other kind “free.”

      The “experts” are marketing “mix & match” as affording “flexibility” to patients and providers. With the new “mix & match” program, there are NINE “booster” combination options available, “depending on where you started” according to the atlantic.

      Also according to the atlantic,

      Saad Omer, who directs Yale’s Institute for Global Health, told me that “we can’t be too precise” in interpreting these data, given the study’s small size. (There were only about 50 people in each of the nine trial groups.) But the apparent advantage of using the mRNA vaccines as boosters, compared with J&J’s, is so large, he said, that it’s unlikely to be an error.

      No idea when (or if) this massive american “study” began, but, according to msn, recruitment for a similar study in the UK began in April, 2021, six whole months ago.

      god, what a clusterfuck.

  13. s.n.

    an extract from the concluding paragraphs of Malcom Kyeyune’s latest – worth a scan

    Welcome to Jurassic Park

    “…The single most dangerous period for a political system is when it has ignored a looming crisis for years and decades, and then finally, backs snugly perched against a wall that cannot be moved, tries to apply wide-reaching reforms. By all indications available to us at this point, this current crisis for the American economy is as good an example of this dynamic as you are ever likely to find in history; worthy of sitting next to the French monarchy’s multi-decade financial mismanagement that eventually lead to the bankruptcy of the Crown and the calling of the Estates General. In both cases, the elites knew for decades about the problem, but simply chose not to do anything until it became impossible to go on. At that point, with all of its reserves of political capital, legitimacy and loyalty from the subjects exhausted, a regime that tries to fix the mess it has caused is actually quite likely to simply seize up and then fail in a fairly dramatic fashion….”

    “The real crisis of the American economy is currently spreading silently like a cancer, underneath the surface and only briefly glanced in media headlines. It will not be solved for years, and it will continue to spread chaos all the while.

    That crisis is truly a regime-level problem, just as the bankruptcy of the French monarchy was in its day. And before that crisis is solved, the electrified fences keeping the dinosaurs docile and contained are very likely to fail. Whether the american elites can survive the rest of the movie (with a few lawyers getting eaten on the way, presumably) and make it to that helicopter at the end is anyone’s guess. But our movie has in fact barely even begun, nor have the elites even begun to grapple with the depth of the problem facing them; there will be many twists and turns and moments of danger in the years ahead before anyone can truly breathe a sigh of relief””

    1. cocomaan

      If you listen to Mike Duncan’s Revolutions podcast, he shows again and again that regimes respond late to any particular growing crisis including during his take on the French Revolution as cited in that piece). He shows it during the American Revolution, where the crown didn’t respond fast enough to the problems. Again during the Russian Revolution when the czar failed to implement reforms before it was too late.

      My guess is that problems with labor, student loans, and crazy covid rules will all get reformed too late to stop the PMC regime from getting steamrolled by populism. And not that populism is all that great an alternative, it usually results in a lot of bad things going down.

      1. JohnA

        One problem now is that all communications are monitored and movements automatically tracked by smartphones, CCTV cameras so the armed to the teeth with military hardware police can crush protests, especially as they are getting in practice on would be covid lockdown/vaccination protestors.

        1. Stephen

          Yes, this is certainly a major difference between the present moment and historical analogs. But it would be beneficial to note that several successful domestic regime changes have been effected through popular uprisings during the 21st century – the color revolutions are the most salient example. We can include the Arab Spring as well. Though to be fair, much of that activity was…shall we say…facilitated…by the security agencies of foreign interests. Still, there are examples.

          The Russian Revolution is a particularly interesting analog. The Czar fell in early 1917 because the army garrison in Petrograd turned against their officers and associated political leadership. That was the key moment. The takeaway is clear: regimes fall when the security/surveillance state turns on them. Not necessarily in response to popular movements or demands.

          Mike Duncan is a national hero, bless that man.

          1. Cocomaan

            Yeah another Mike Duncan lesson is that protests, while they do accomplish some goals, don’t decide the revolution. When it came to France, which way the national guard broke decided the revolution.

            In our case in America, Europe, etc, Its a matter of which way the military industrial complex turns. Not that it’s a monolith: Snowden was as much a whistleblower against the NSA as he was a show of how internally divided the intel community is.

        2. Sawdust

          CCTV isn’t much good if the guy whose job it is to watch the screens hates his boss. Ditto the cops, as we saw on 1/6.

        3. Alphonse

          Kyeyune does not agree with this assessment. Here he argues military force could not suppress popular rebellion:

          During Operation Banner – the british army’s operation to keep a lid on northern Ireland – they deployed at most around 20.000 troops in an area about 2% the size of Texas. The Texas national guard comes in at 18.000 men, and Texas is, well, 100% the size of Texas. Moreover, the official casualty ratio during the (decades long) operation are fairly telling. The british army sustained 1500 killed, and killed a bit over 300 people (again, officially). Out of those 300, fully 50% of those were innocent civilians.That means that the british army reported a *ten to one casualty ratio* against the enemy. Spoiler alert: the british army in fact had tanks. And aircraft, and even nuclear warheads. The IRA had none of those things. And yet the british army didn’t simply roll over them.

          And again:

          the navy is pretty useless domestically, and the air force is likely to be actively counterproductive. You’re better off parking those fancy drones, because every droned american wedding is a total disaster for legitimacy. That really leaves you with the army and the marine corps. The USMC is fairly small, at less than 200.000 active duty personnel. The army is at half a million or so. . . . If we’re being fantastically optimistic, we could just assume that maybe 10% of these 700.000 people are frontline soldiers. . . . 70.000 guys is not in fact a lot of guys in a country the size of a continent with a population north of 300 million.

          People have this fanciful idea that if you just “indoctrinate” people, you’ll get a loyal military who will then proceed to implement tyranny on your behalf. But in reality, ideology follows class lines, and the people who go for this ideology do not become soldiers. Historically, “purging the military” usually means replacing one *class* of people with another. The the french revolutionaries purged the military of almost all aristocratic officers, promoting people from the ranks who owed their fortunes (and thus loyalty) to the revolution. This is not going on in the US armed forces. Insofar as people are being “replaced”, it’s that the people who kick down doors and lug mortar bombs around are not being retained, while the military is hiring more diversity consultants or what have you. So the “purging” is in effect disrupting the first thing our american putative tyrant wants, which is capacity.

          As I recall, he said that he thinks a Troubles scenario is likely in the U.S. in the next decade or so. He talks about that here. He’s extremely concerned about supply chain breakage, which he thinks could set it off:

          If the US elite fails to keep the grain shipments coming, and the bread part of the bread and circuses going, ideology will simply not matter. Paid ideologues don’t like to speak on this point, because it risks revealing that they don’t really matter that much.

          The first episodes of the It Could Happen Here podcast (scroll to the oldest episodes from 2019) also lay out an American civil war scenario, with similar conclusions. Like Kyeyune, they point out that there’s no way the U.S. could defend its infrastructure. Water pipelines, gas pipelines, the electrical grid: it’s hard to imagine how these could be defended from a domestic insurgency. If anything, new technologies make insurgency easier – IEDs, homemade drones, etc. The kinds of brutality that colonial powers have applied overseas (e.g. the French in Algeria) would send the population into the arms of the insurgency.

          The only way to control is with the (grudging) consent of the people – which thus far has been secured through propaganda and consumerism. Both are breaking down. Can surveillance really make it up without a foundation among the people? The elites are utterly out of touch – and in fact are using wokeness to increase in-group belonging at the expense of making an out-group of much of the population. The media are widely known to be flagrantly dishonest creatures of the establishment, and material conditions are deteriorating. Physical force would be proof of failure, not of success – and it would be highly unlikely to work.

          Compare with China, whose regime enjoys mass support – yet sees clouds on the horizon and is working hard to maintain legitimacy. The U.S. might as well be doing the opposite.

          The key question, which I think is in the Kyeyune interview I link to above, is whether a faction of elites would come over to the side of the rebels. Peasant rebellions fail. They only succeed when there is division among the elites. Kyeyune argues that will happen through elite overproduction. Peter Turchin’s argument for elite overproduction (forgive me linking to my own explanation) is that as the number of elites and elite aspirants grows, the price of entry increases. It becomes more expensive to keep up with the Joneses, as it were. To do that, elites turn up the dial on exploitation. As elites find themselves excluded, they form a competing faction that aligns itself with (or rather uses) the working class or peasantry against the establishment.

          My first question, as it was in February 2020 with covid, is not where we are, but where we’re going. To me, the movement appears to be in one direction. I don’t see any countervailing forces.

      2. Louis Fyne

        IMO, a better analogue….the USA is more like the end-stage Austro-Hungarian Empire, complete with an ossified ruling class that is a literal gerontocracy (Biden, Schumer, Pelosi, McConnell, et al)


      3. LifelongLib

        Insofar as the “PMC” exist as a class at all, they’re not the regime, just the front men. A commenter here compared them to slave plantation overseers. Well, the overseers didn’t set up the plantation system, nor were they its chief beneficiaries. It’s the people who pay the “PMC” who are really running the show.

      4. Procopius

        The word “populism” is certainly being used very differently now than it was when I was a kid. Back then it meant in line with the progressives, the reformers, pro- the people. Increase prosperity. Bob LaFollette. William Jennings Bryan, although he was a reactionary, right wing fundamentalist, too. Its opposite was the KKK. Now it seems to be used to name the proto-Nazis, the racists, the white nationalists. Trumpists are not populists.

    2. Henry Moon Pie

      That’s a brilliant piece, one that makes you think while also being quite fun to read.

      Since the focus of the piece is on complex systems, I was reminded of a comment yesterday along the lines that “complex systems are more resilient.” That seems counter-intuitive, and that’s because it’s wrong. Only systems that include one type of added complexity–balancing loops–are more resilient. The logistics and production systems described in the article are so brittle because they were developed with one and only one goal in mind: maximizing shareholder value, a stupid and trivial goal in the first place.

      So what’s a balancing loop? Stephanie Kelton’s conception of a Job Guarantee is a good example. When there is slack in employment, i.e. willing workers without jobs, the Job Guarantee program picks them up and supplies employment. Unemployment never gets going. When the economy heats up, people can move out of a JG job to a private sector job at higher pay. No inflation-causing labor shortage. Instead of an economy that swerves back and forth between high unemployment and inflationary labor shortages, you get a smoother oscillation within a narrower range.

      Oh that someone had introduced a JG in 1948. Elites were panicked by the fear that the Great Depression would return now that World War II had ended and all those soldiers would be looking for jobs just as war production wound down. Their solution at the time, of course, was military Keynesianism. The U. S. became Bombs ‘R’ Us.

      The problem now is that we need as few people employed as possible. Every job has a carbon footprint. More jobs equal more carbon emissions just when we are desperate–or at least we should be desperate–to reduce carbon emissions in every way possible. We should be triaging industries to determine which are necessary, using something like the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals as a guide, and providing UBI to those who will no longer be working. Rationing will be necessary, at least until the kinks are worked out of this radical restructuring.

      Such a program that tackled carbon emissions in a realistic way rather than relying on some deus ex machina like shooting sulfur in the air every two years seems impossible given the state of social and political disarray described in the Jurassic Park article. On the other hand, a massive economic crash resulting from the cascading failures of the current system or civil war would both serve as very powerful balancing loops on GDP growth–and maybe population–to the benefit of the climate situation. But that’s a hell of a painful way to do it.

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        Oops. After writing that JG was a balancing loop, I tried to diagram it. It is not a balancing loop. Kelton calls it a “stabilizer” in her last chapter, but it’s the type of stabilizer often called a buffer. The JG program is a stock into which flow the unemployed and out of which flow new hires.

        It does not operate as a balancing loop. For example, if the economy experienced an extended “hot streak,” all of the workers in the JG and unemployed stocks would flow into the employed stock and there could be a worker shortage. Similarly, a JG program requires some infrastructure, including supervisors (unless the “community partners,” presumably NGOs serve that purpose), and an infrastructure has some set maximum capacity. A deep, long depression could fill the JG stock to that capacity.

        So JG is a buffer, not a balancing loop.

    3. Mason

      As it happens, Jurassic Park is meant to use its advanced computer systems in order to more or less eliminate the human element (where have we heard that before?) Instead of security guards, Jurassic Park just uses cameras and electronic surveillance. The cars used in the park tours aren’t meant to have human drivers or tour guides; they are a very early form of the self-driving car (this predictably causes a lot of problems), because that is obviously more efficient than having an actual human being giving the visitors their tour and answering any questions that the visitors may have.

      Huh… it’s actually a brutal take-down of neoliberalism and automation with no limits. Nice.

    4. Alphonse

      Kyeyune’s article was inspired by an interview he did, in which he lays out the strategy of the Swedish populist party he works for:

      the only way to really grow in strength as a political movement is to somehow return to that older and more powerful form of politics, one that is reliant on the political equivalent of the ”Citizen Soldier”, who like the US National Guard spend most of their time as civilians but then put on an uniform when they’re called up. That is the model we are going for, and the localist strategy is about creating NCOs for that army of political ”conscripts”; about forming a cadre that can lead and train ordinary people enough to where they can be a part of a political struggle again. . . . All the members are expected to be able to do the work of NCO leadership, to basically go to a town or a city and start, recruit for, and organize an entire party organization on their own, with only limited outside help.

      Well worth the read.

  14. cocomaan

    Covid: WHO warns pandemic will drag on into 2022 BBC. Pathetic. Not a hard call given the calendar and surges.

    WHO is asserting that the pandemic will last into 2022 because Africa doesn’t have a high vaccination rate.

    Is there any data to support this? I feel like this is all based on herd immunity theories (60-70-80-90%?) that I really don’t feel are aging well.

    1. The Rev Kev

      That headline surely belongs in the ‘No S***, Sherlock’ department. Since I doubt that the pandemic will end in the remaining 71 days of this year, then of course it will go into next year. Some people here think that the pandemic is over, though. This newsreader on TV was talking today about ocean liners (!) once more returning to Oz and was going on about travel in the post-Covid era. Seriously. That is what she called it. My eyeballs rolled back so far they nearly locked into place.

      1. Cocomaan

        Do you read sutter cane? I’ll have to watch that movie again.

        Great link, confirms what I was thinking about this.

    2. Maritimer

      Heart Attacks: WHO warns Heart Attacks will drag on into 2022 BBC. Lord when will these Heart Attacks end?

  15. vidimi

    re Biden’s pick for US ambassador to China: surely, Beijing will now deny him regardless of confirmation? what a bellend

    1. JohnA

      Clearly a case of a would be diplomat who is no diplomat. Napoleon’s description of Talleyrand as ‘a shit in a silk stocking’ springs to mind.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        Because Talleyrand, from the oldest of old French aristocracy, cared about France, not Napoleon, and Napoleon knew it. Talleyrand was negotiating with all of France’s enemies as they were advancing on Paris, and not even terribly secretly. It was a major accomplishment that France kept it borders prior to Napoleon’s conquests.

        Tell me who in the US at the equivalent of Talleyrand’s level (Foreign Minister, which would equal Secretary of State) or even a couple of levels down has that sense of priorities.

        Oh, and despite excoriating Talleyrand in a room full of people for an hour, increasingly enraged, at the end resorting to the worst of profanities of that age (due to Talleyrand remaining entirely poker faced; as the shocked crowd decamped, someone got near Talleyrand, who sighed, “What a shame that such a great man is so ill bred”), Talleyrand contrary to everyone’s expectations kept showing up and within a month, everything was back to the old normal.

  16. The Rev Kev

    “Biden’s pick for China ambassador says ‘we cannot trust the Chinese’ on Taiwan”

    Nicholas Burns may be Joe Biden’s nominee to be ambassador to Beijing, but that does not mean that China has to accept him as Ambassador. Countries have not only the right to refuse to accredit a nominated Ambassador by another country but they are not even required to give a reason. It’s all covered by the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations-

    Why would China accept an Ambassador whose first act would probably demand to visit people opposed to the Chinese government. When Obama nominated neocon Michael Mcfaul to be Ambassador to the Russian Federation, the first thing that he did after arriving was to arrange meetings with Russian pro-democracy activists. So sour did he turn US-Russian relations, that after he left his post he was barred from ever returning to Russia which he has been bitter about ever since. China may figure that Burns is another McFaul.

    1. Ian Perkins

      I was struck by the implication that the USA can be trusted on something. The Guardian article gives no hint as to what it might be.

      1. Josef K

        Absolutely true about the untrustworthyness of USA government. But tu quoque. The topic is China.

        I’ll be brief since I’ve said this before, mostly to crickets: The mid-level and above in the CCP/CPC are some of the most cynical and deceitful people you’ll ever meet. Fair play isn’t quaint to them; it doesn’t even register. They have zero interest in our well-being or even survival (not that the sentiment isn’t returned). See how they treat Tibetans, Uighurs, Hong Kongese and now Khmers as they expand their empire into SE Asia.

        The last vestiges of traditional Chinese culture are still being destroyed in the mainland (some times literally, like Beijings hutong neighborhoods), or replaced with ersatz pseudo-traditional culture. One example, there are many others–if you want to learn the real deal in Chinese martial arts–Hong Kong or Taiwan (or Singapore).

        You have a voracious capitalist system with all its iniquities and destruction, combined with a totalitarian police state. Exactly the opposite of what, one would think, is an ideal society amongst the readership here; but what I read is almost as simplistic as “America bad, so China good.” Cutting down on the Pepe Escobar reading will help too.

        I encourage the armchair China hands here and elsewhere on the interwebs to spend some time in mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, maybe make the effort to learn at least some of the language, then come back see if your perspective has changed a bit.

  17. griffen

    Of course a SPAC woud be involved in a definitive merger agreement to involve “TMTG”. Something paper thin on the requisite corporate details is so very late 2021. I’ll plan on reading more about it.

    Cue the cries and lamentations, and hide the children. Truth social. Ugh, couldn’t a marketing intern have suggested something better?

    1. Brunches with Cats

      Never eat at a place called Mom’s? Well, maybe you don’t go for the food, but for the entertainment.

      Speaking of entertainment, CNN and MSNBC must be peeing their pants in anticipation of a reincarnated cash cow.

  18. cnchal

    > Backlog of cargo ships at southern California ports reaches an all-time high Guardian

    “These issues go through the entire chain, from ship to shelf,” Pete Buttigieg, the transportation secretary

    The entire chain includes the sweat shops in China churning out the crapola and Lady Pete forgets the end of the supply chains, overflowing garbage dumps full of the just bought crapola from China.

    Any article yapping about supply chains is useless without the factoid that, for whatever reasons, ship unloading has been cut to one third of the normal pace. If ten ships show up today and only three get unloaded, and the same happens tomorrow and the next day, well the Chinese might as well just shut their sweat shops down instead of floating the crapola on the water for a year.

    In the never let a crisis go to waste department, I bet that when a Wal Mart, Amazon or a Home Depot ship shows up they go to the head of the line for an unloading berth, further disadvantaging all else.

    What would happen to the stawk prices if those shelves were bare and their stuff was floating on the water for months on end? Mr Market might get a clue instead of being drunk all the time and Mr. Market sobering up is the last thing anyone wants.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Pete must be ticked. He tried to jump ship with his paternity leave despite not really seeming to do any thing, and now he has to show up to work.

      1. Pookah Harvey

        Pete is positioned to gather political influence by handing out the billions in the infrastructure bill. He is being groomed for the identity politics of the establishment Dems, especially the MIC crowd, as the First Gay President. Now, unexpectedly, he needs to take some responsibility. Did Biden or the establishment Dems ever explain how an AWOL mayor of a small city was qualified to take over the Dept of Transportation for the entire US?

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          He was too blatant with his “oh, the numbers are sinking, let me skip town move.” Parental leave as a cabinet secretary. There are a few jobs where you just step down. Its one of them. He likely really ticked off the White House.

      2. Claire

        The ultimate mediocrity and the final death of the Democratic Party, plus a guarantee that Trump gets inaugurated in January of 2025:

        Harris/Buttgieg 2024!

    2. lance ringquist

      me thinks the chinese will lose their cool over this and tell us to shove nafta billy clintons free trade, and try to get us to re-industrialize for our own good.

      the link to the article about de-coloniazation was good, and any attempts to try it like in south america, we bring down the iron fist of free trade on them.

      but that can only go on for so long as more and more people seek their freedom from the enslavement of free trade.

      how many fires can the free traders put out at once in the world, there maybe a tipping point where there is just to many to extinguish.

      and relying on the military, the rank and file may revolt, they and their families have been reduced to poverty because of free trade, and may no longer be willing to kill poor people to ensure obscene profits for a few.

  19. The Rev Kev

    “Russia to suspend direct diplomatic ties with NATO from November with US-led bloc’s Moscow mission ordered to close – FM Lavrov”

    Lavrov said “If NATO members have any urgent matters, they can contact our ambassador in Belgium, who ensures bilateral relations between Russia and the Kingdom of Belgium.”

    That’s pretty insulting that by Lavrov. That is like saying that if you have something important to say to us, just leave a message with the guy at the end of our street. Russia has complained for a long time that NATO does not listen to them and they weren’t even allowed in the NATO HQ building for meetings so what is the point? And when NATO continually pull stunts like yesterday when 2 USAF strategic B-1B bombers, accompanied by two KC-135 refueling planes, flew close to Russia’s borders they may have figured that they have nothing to gain from talking to NATO. They are also kicking out the NATO officers attached to the mission in Moscow so I hope that the Moscow–Washington hotline is still working-

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Aaw, very sweet but I feel so sorry for longhairs when they get shorn. My friend’s Persians got lion cuts and they looked goofy afterwards and I sensed they were embarrassed.

      But so good about groomingI I bathed all my Abys a (very) few times. One was able to do a vertical takeoff. He would instantly be clinging the shower door rail. I never worked out how he accomplished that.

  20. The Rev Kev

    “Vice President Harris Confronts a Reality Gap”

    Harris is just an amateur who has spent her career failing up which explains why, like Buttigieg, she has been mostly MIA the past few months. Nobody would ever accuse her of living by her wits and it is obvious why when she fluffed the Palestine question. She should really take a leaf from AOC’s book by throwing up a word salad when asked such questions as seen in the following video. Note what AOC starts to say at the 2:40 minute mark- (3:32 mins)

    1. Helena

      I personally think AOC just spoke the truth there. Local and national, often two very different perspectives. Local opportunity for thought should not be superceded by the ‘macro’ narrative, and the ‘macro’ narrative has a different agenda which won’t necessarily be swayed by local thought. (They may lie and say they are ‘hearing the people’, but we all have seen they don’t really give a rat’s ass). ‘Opening a window of opportunity’ for ‘micro’ thought just means allowing people to make their own decisions on how to think and act locally. A very good concept to voice, IMO.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Might have to disagree here. Remember when Hillary Clinton said that she had a private and a public position? If your ‘macro’ and your ‘micro’ values do not align, then I am calling that a problem of integrity as they have not integrated their values. So you listen to what a Hillary or an AOC is saying and then you have to ask yourself if they are giving you their macro or their micro opinion.

        And look at AOC’s record. Here she was going to vote against Israel getting billions to re-arm themselves but then buckled and voted ‘present’ instead. Previously she had savaged Tulsi Gabbard for doing the same. Was against the police but then turned around and help vote $2 billion to the Capital Police. Says that Progressives only vote as individuals but then votes with them later as a block vote. So her values are negotiable.

        1. Helena

          AOC is talking about the local community here, and how they exist together and work things out. She’s saying, the govt’s position does not have to set everybody at each others throats, although that’s what the political system thrives on. I can imagine how many times Pelosi has pulled AOC into a room judging by the way she parses her words so carefully. I don’t think she had any idea how much pounding she was going to get to do as she is told. I lived in the D.C. area for 25 years and worked for former WH staffers, (Repub) and it’s hell. You stick your neck out then pull it back in when the ax falls to live another day. Harris said basically the same thing but was too specific and the Zionists had an excuse to howl. As for the Capitol Police, that’s a different animal than not wanting to fund police brutality.
          She said it–national (macro) and local (micro). Personal and public. This national govt does not allow for personal choice all the time. Do you think Manchin is a free agent? His handler donors have him on speed dial to howl in his ear 24/7 that he is not earning his money. You think he is noble for standing his ground? Do people have to rethink their stance when the political ground moves under them? Every day. She does what she can for her constituents and it’s Sophie’s Choice in Congress. Believe me, it’s a herculean task not to get your view warped in that environment. I got out of that place, and never looked back. I can, however, have good and community healthy relations with my neighbors even if we disagree politically.

  21. Brunches with Cats

    Nice indeed of the antidote cat to want to feed his stuffed toys. My guy carries all of his toy mice to the water bowl and tries to drown them.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Not that Biden was ever good, but he fundamentally is a small man in a job created for George Washington, never mind the imperial presidency. Is Biden Washington-esque? This simply isn’t a job for him. Not that its not true of others, but basically, he’s a thief who was caught plucked out of obscurity by Obama. Oh sure, he’s a narcissist, but he’s really a nothing. The dude let a doofus like Hillary run when he was the sitting VP.

      1. Brooklin Bridge

        In addition to your points, I think he is succumbing to a combination of pressure and age. Add to that he doesn’t deeply care about any of the progressive policies he has felt compelled to offer. He could care less what level of funding they end up with and as to foreign affairs, he seems unable to focus or remain coherent. And when he should be positively cringing, he doesn’t seem to be grasping or even bothered by just how much his collapsing deck of cards is visible for all to see.

  22. The Rev Kev

    “Have Sperm, Will Travel”

    I know that this is a serious story but it very well could be written as a comedy film. And then you think about how men are becoming less and less fertile because we have polluted our environment to death. How will it end? In fact, this article reminds me of “Percy’s Progress”, a 1974 British comedy film whose plot is-

    ‘A chemical is accidentally released into the world’s water supply rendering all men impotent. Percy is unaware that he is the only man on earth who can achieve an erection because he was in hiding from the law at sea, drinking nothing but champagne. When Percy goes ashore to relieve his year-long sexual tension at a brothel, he gains the attention of the British press and subsequently the British government, who then want to use him to repopulate the world. An international pageant is held to find each country’s “Miss Conception” representative.’ (3:17 mins)

    1. Wukchumni

      There I was a lonely spermatozoa, one of a hundred million on the make in the naked city…

      …and then I hit the lottery when she asked me out on a date

  23. Jason Boxman

    So here’s today’s installment of liberal Democrats are useless for their stated purpose: A 30-Year Campaign to Control Drug Prices Faces Yet Another Failure.

    But with at least three House Democrats opposing the toughest version of the measure, and at least one Senate Democrat, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, against it, government negotiating power appears almost certain to be curtailed, if not jettisoned. The loss would be akin to Republicans’ failure under Mr. Trump to repeal the Affordable Care Act, after solemn pledges for eight years to dismantle the health law “root and branch.”

    And LOL:

    Repealing that so-called noninterference provision has been a centerpiece of Democratic campaigns ever since. Senator Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, a former head of House Democrats’ campaign arm, recalled that “Medicare shall negotiate drug prices” was one of the six planks in the “Six for ’06” platform that helped the Democrats win control of the House in 2006.

    As I recall, so was holding Bush accountable for lying us into a dreadful, immoral occupation of Iraq, not to mention leaving people to die in New Orleans. Thanks Democrats! May your reign be short, and cause limited damage!

  24. Reader

    Politico piece on Novavax

    ‘They rushed the process’: Vaccine maker’s woes hamper global inoculation campaign

    “The delay, which was confirmed by three other people familiar with the discussions between Maryland-based Novavax and the Biden administration, represents a major setback in the effort to vaccinate the world in the wake of new, more transmissible variants.

    The U.S. government invested $1.6 billion in Novavax in 2020 — the most it devoted to any vaccine maker at the time — in hopes that it would offer the world another option for a safe and effective vaccine to help protect against Covid-19. But the company has consistently run into production problems. The methods it used to test the purity of the vaccine have fallen short of regulators’ standards and the company has not been able to prove that it can produce a shot that is consistently up to snuff, according to multiple people familiar with Novavax’s difficulties. All spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive company conversations.

    ” . . . three people familiar with the matter said they are not confident that the company has the resources needed to reproduce a high-quality vaccine on a consistent basis — a benchmark Novavax must meet [to file for EUA by the end of the year]. Those same people said Novavax could potentially fix its manufacturing issues and reach full licensure by the end of 2022.

    “Unlike Pfizer and Moderna, the first manufacturers to launch vaccines using rapidly produced messenger RNA, Novavax is employing the previously used but complicated approach of creating the key ingredient with bug cells.

    “‘At some level, I think the efficacy was never going to outweigh the risk associated with the impurity that was in there,” said one of the people with knowledge of the matter. “I’m not surprised this is where we are.’”

    On October 11th, Novavax released their Phase III Interim Results showing a “high overall VE (>90%) for prevention of Covid-19, with most cases due to variant strains.”

  25. Katniss Everdeen

    In case anyone is interested, it’s been 10 years since “We came, we saw, he died.” Cackle, cackle.

    A partial retrospective:

    Known for his extravagance, Gaddafi boasted a security detail of female bodyguards, lavish outfits, and long, dramatic speeches. He also transformed Libya from one of the poorest countries on Earth into a rich, self-sufficient state, all while managing a tribal society in a country home to the largest oil reserves in Africa.

    During his 42 years in power, he increased the country’s literacy rate from 25% to 88%. Libyans enjoyed free healthcare, free education, and a high standard of living. Basic necessities such as electricity and gas were cheap, and the country was guaranteed a strong social safety net and welfare programs.

    The late Libyan leader supported independence and national liberation movements right across the world, including groups such as the Palestine Liberation Organization, the Irish Republican Army, the Black Panther Party, and many more. In the 1970s, he tried to merge Libya with Egypt and Syria to form a unified Arab state. In 2009, he proposed that African nations adopt a single currency: the gold dinar. The Libyan Central Bank, which was 100% state-owned, had reserves of 144 tons of gold that he intended to use for this purpose. Gaddafi proposed that African countries buy and sell their resources exclusively in this new pan-African currency. This would enable them to transition away from the US dollar and the Central Africa (CFA) franc – a colonial currency used in 14 countries and controlled entirely by France.

    This was Gaddafi’s biggest sin. In wanting African nations to adopt a single currency, to control their own resources and have true independence, he posed a threat to Western monetary hegemony, so he had to go.

  26. Raymond Sim

    Anyway, you get the picture, this is likely blitzing past existing antibodies with ease.

    The good news is that ACE2 affinity seems to have decreased and that it is not as fusogenic as Mu/B.1.621. Which would imply lower transmissivity.

    Just so everybody’s clear: Terms like ‘transmissibilty’ and ‘transmissitivity’ are often used, even in technical literature, rather loosely. When carefully defined, they don’t necessarily mean what you would intuitively expect them to. For instance, a mutation that increases the structural durability of the spikes could confer a tremendous competitive advantage, and result in a variant becoming dominant, without being described as making it more transmissible. Where the rubber meets the road it still means more spikes in your ACE2 receptors.

    Similarly, antibody evasion can mean more infections even with less virus in the air. The strain being less fusogenic means you can hope it will at least wreak less short term havoc on your system. But if it’s waltzing past your antibodies it can still have its way with you, doing all the same sorts of damage we’ve seen since the first wave, and in all liklihood leaving many of your body’s systems, and your immune system in particular, less able to cope when its descendants eventually resort to brute force again.

  27. hunkerdown

    “The bigger [right-wing influencers], they all have one thing in common in addition to bad politics: an agent. The ones telling you that you don’t need representation, that you should represent yourself directly to your employer… they all have an agent.”

    Beau of The Fifth Column has some surgically precise short takes on political economy. I love to see it.

    1. Mantid

      Yes Jo. I gave up on that rag a while ago. I have many add blockers and such and just couldn’t handle all the flashing videos and click click flying from pixel to pixel – much less the actual text. Very poor journalism there. Read your link for comic relief and sure enough, sad, dark comedy. People read these things?

  28. Wukchumni

    99 supercargo ships stranded off San Pedro, 99 ships
    You unload one now, pass the consumer goods around

    98 supercargo ships stranded off San Pedro, 98 ships
    But 2 more just showed up, 100 supercargo ships stranded.

  29. Wukchumni

    A rare influx of giant tuna — weighing up to 600 pounds — has sparked a bluefin gold rush among Big Apple anglers.

    Many pleasantly shocked line-sinkers told The Post they’ve fished the waters off New York City their entire lives without witnessing a phenomenon like this.

    It’s 6:30 a.m. and fisherman Kyle Colesanti is five to 10 miles off the Rockaways in Queens. The Rockfish Charters boat captain is rigging up a rod so massive, it could’ve been in “Jaws.” He packs his hook with a live baitfish called a bunker, sets the line out to the desired distance — and waits for a behemoth to bite.

    Colesanti, 29, is one of many NYC anglers targeting the unprecedented glut of trophy Atlantic bluefin tuna, the largest of the 15 species, which can grow to 13 feet long and weigh up to 2,000 pounds. (That’s bigger than an Alaskan brown bear.) Normally associated with deep waters off New England and elsewhere, supersize specimens surfaced over the summer and fall within view of the Gotham skyline — and hundreds of tuna junkies are scrambling to land an NYC sea monster.

    1. Mantid

      Get it while you can, buy now and save ……. In only a few years the only thing coming out of the oceans will be plastic shards and acidic foodstuffs.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        I can imagine some visionary businessmen buying and cryogenically freezing tons of bluefin tuna meat of the very best quality ( Ginza District restaurant quality) and when the Bluefin tuna is extinct, selling their cryogenically frozen legacy Bluefin tuna to Japanese businessmen at a hundred dollars a shaving.

  30. megrim

    Re: The Ocean Cleanup Successfully Hauls 20,000 Pounds of Plastic From the Pacific Ocean
    20,000 pounds sure sounds better than 10 tons!

  31. Pelham

    Re Biden’s immigration policy: So Tucker Carlson says fentanyl — enough to kill many thousands of Americans — is flooding across the southern border. Is this true? If it is, why does it so seldom factor into the border dialogue? And why would it not be enough by itself to reasonably demand that the border be closed?

      1. Pelham

        Probably, at least according to the Carlson report I saw. He had an excerpt from a local news report (don’t know where) that showed fentanyl tablets that closely resembled Xanax.

        It’s curious that this apparently massive movement of extremely deadly drugs across what appears to be a thoroughly porous border, leading to tens of thousands of ODs, receives so little attention. I guess it’s all about the immigrant illegal crossers. Any attempt to put a cap on the flow of drugs would inevitably shut off the flow — as Carlson and Democratic leaders would put it — of cheap labor and Democratic voters.

        I’m not so sure I would disagree. Killing off the red state and rural white population and replacing us with “immigrants” freshly cleansed of their illegal status appear to be supremely complementary policies. As is often said here, all is going according to plan.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Well . . . . if drug death also proceeds among the various urban non-white populations, then it could be part of a more-general class-focused Jackpot policy.

          What if red state and rural white drug users and addicts decided that enduring the pain involved in boycotting those drugs was a “revolutionary act of resistance”? Or at least an “insurgent act of resistance”?
          Would they take the pain and boycott the drugs in that event?

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      I have read that the fentanyl originates in China. If so, it could get in here over all kinds of routes. Close the border and the Fentanyl Lords will find another route.

      One way to shut it off would be to convince the users to endure the pain of going off fentanyl in order to inflict the greater pain of ” No Sale” on China. Another way would be to shut down all the Big and Medium Money Laundry Banks and other money laundry facilities and begin mass quantity trials of all the lawyers, accountants, financial advisers, money handlers, etc. who make handling, moving and laundering the money possible.

      We have a carceral state. We have the prisondustrial complex. We have the prison space. We just need to incarcerate all the right people.

  32. Wukchumni

    A new report shows how climate change is hurting your health NPR (David L). Funny, I was more mosquito-chomped this fall than in recent summers.
    Due to the drought and really no standing water, mossies were practically non-existent this summer in the Southern Sierra…

    1. Mantid

      Insects are down all over the world. I used to collect moths, flies, mosquito eaters, etc around the porch light for my insect pets. Very few now. Clean windshield too. Our knees are getting tapped on by bigger and bigger baseball bats. Go Dodgers (somehow).

      1. Left in Wisconsin

        We had no mosquitos here in Mosquito Central all spring and summer, which was quite the pleasure but very strange, and then had a fall mosquito season at a time when they are usually mostly gone.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          We had some mosquitoes through summer, though less than usual, but we too had quite a few mosquitoes deep into fall.

          Right where I am we have had a decent number of fireflies the last couple of years. And the 17 year cicada breeding cycle seemed pretty good around here.

          And bee-friendly flowers still seem to get different kinds of bees, wasps, and flies around here; though maybe less than before.

  33. Maxwell Johnston

    “Economic Update: Signs of System Decline”

    Enjoyed this video. Watched the whole thing. Aside from the calm common-sense content, I liked his slow paced delivery with a slight NYC accent (strong enough to show where he’s from, but not too strong as to be distracting). Great fun, and reassuring to know that there are still some sensible folks out there.

  34. Alice X

    America Has a Sperm Shortage. One Man Is Reaping All the Benefits Esquire

    I was going to quip: Yes and let’s put those little buggers down; humanity is a sexually transmitted disease plaguing this Earth.

    But then I actually read the piece, only to find the guy is a super-spreader.

    I walk in the park and I see the kids playing on the construction sets built for them. I see the young mothers pushing their babies in the swings and my heart leaps out when I say how precious, how sweet.

    Six paces later and my heart falls with a thud and I think: don’t they know what is coming?

    I knew of the Club of Rome report in ’72. I took it to heart. While it made some incorrect assumptions, its trajectory seems online. Industrial society is doomed. I didn’t have children though I had ample opportunity.

    1. LifelongLib

      Well, in non-industrial societies most children were fated to early death or lives of drudgery. Industrial society was the first to offer even a glimmer of a way out of that. Sadly it brought its own problems with it. Nothing says that the world owes us happiness, or even life…

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Was that true for the genuine hunter-gather societies? Or for the hunter-gather-high precision horticulture American Indian societies?

        Or was a child’s life much better than a dog’s life in those particular settings?

        And was it uniquely the Old World civilizations which featured a dog’s life for children?

  35. drumlin woodchuckles

    The summer where I am had rain every few days for the whole summer and into the fall. Rains were very evenly spaced so that nothing ever really dried out. Also, we had 23 days of over 80 degrees. We didn’t get the few days of heat-wave we often get, but on the other hand 23 days in a row at or over 80 is a longer unbroken stretch of such days than what we usually get.

    And the warm weather and spaced rains continued into fall.

    If mosquitoes are fast breeders, and they have a whole summer never dry enough to interrupt their unbroken breeding from generation to generation, then there could be a buildup of more of them than usual in the fall, especially if there has not been the usual few fall days of cold weather to knock them down some.

    We also had mosquitoes here until early October.

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