Links 10/22/2021

Officials Use Contraceptives to Control Pablo Escobar’s ‘Cocaine’ Hippos Smithsonian

Disturbing Answers to the Mystery of Tuskless Female Elephants Scientific American

Notes on a statistical scandal FT. On the World Bank’s “Doing Business” debacle.

The Confusing State of Inflation Inputs Barry Ritholtz, The Big Picture. Krugman’s quote at the end seems to be the source of Psaki’s gaffe. West Wing brain….

Silencing the Competition: Inside the Fight Against the Hearing Aid Cartel Matt Stoller, BIG

COP26: Document leak reveals nations lobbying to change key climate report BBC

A Lenape Tribe Finally Wrests Its Sacred Site Back From Developers New York Magazine


Why Vaccine Lotteries Didn’t Move the Needle on Inoculations Bloomberg. So bribes didn’t work? That speaks well of America’s citizens, not so well of elite decision makers who (naturally) projected their own motivations onto everyone.

COVID vaccine: CDC expands booster rollout, OKs mixing shots AP

Half doses, third doses, kids’ doses: Covid vaccine delivery goes next-level difficult STAT

Changes in Sewage Sludge Chemical Signatures During a COVID-19 Community Lockdown, Part 1: Traffic, Drugs, Mental Health, and Disinfectants Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry. This is fascinating. The technology also offers a way to get good data at low cost without infringing on civil liberties; it scales in a good way.


Joe Biden suggests US would defend Taiwan against China, forcing fresh White House clarification Guardian

The skies over the South China Sea Reuters. Handy charts.

Beijing’s insistence on zero-Covid strategy challenges long-held assumptions about China South China Morning Post

China-linked disinformation campaign blames Covid on Maine lobsters NBC. Come on, man.

China’s Guangdong Scraps Fixed Electricity Prices for Industrial Users Caoxin


Live tweets from a panel on Myanmar at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand:

Lots of useful information here, but not properly threaded, so you have to read the account’s timeline. (PDF = People’s Defense Force, as opposed to EAO, Ethnic Armed Organisations. The two are disjunct, although it is said linkages between them are growing.)

Myanmar Regime Orders Ground Forces to Wipe Out Armed Civilian Fighters The Irrawaddy. The dry season is coming.

Myanmar inaugurates coastguard service with initial fleet of four vessels Janes. Not against human trafficking or drugs, lol. Against arms smuggling.

Memo to NUG: “Don’t go into the haunted house!”

The Koreas

Half a Million South Korean Workers Walk Off Jobs in General Strike Truthout (PR).

‘A joke if it wasn’t so serious’: Australia lags developed countries on climate action Sydney Morning Herald. Commentary:

“There’s a new character in it at the moment called Scott.”


Russia Urges Major Foreign Aid for Taliban-Ruled Afghanistan Bloomberg

Revealed: Biden rejected way forward in Iran deal talks Responsible Statecraft


Government Awards £12.4 MILLION FUNDING to Firm Owned by Tory Donor to Develop Flying Taxis Byline Times

Italy’s Berlusconi acquitted in corruption trial linked to ‘bunga bunga’ parties EuroNews

New Cold War

There is no Russia-China axis The Spectator

The Myth of Russian Decline Foreign Affairs

Bolivian Government Says Haitian President’s Assassins Were Part of a Plot to Kill Its Own Leftist Leader The Intercept

Brazilian senators recommend Bolsonaro be charged with crimes against humanity over pandemic CNN

Latin America’s Climate Change Role is Misunderstood Latin American Investor

Biden Administration

Biden Could Use National Guard to Help With Supply Chain Bottlenecks WSJ. The ones who aren’t helping out in nursing homes, anyhow.

* * *

Biden says paid leave proposal reduced from 12 to 4 weeks The Hill. As Democrats cut their way to victory….

Why Biden’s Plan for Free Community College Likely Will Be Cut From Budget Package (not pay-walled) WSJ. Four-year colleges, among others, lobbied against it. A lot of back-row kids would have benefited from this. So naturally it was cut.

An $800 voucher for dental…

Hey, if I could get that other six hundred bucks Joe Biden owes me, I could actually get some work done!

‘Bulls—‘: How a Manchin-Bernie blowup helped unstick Dems’ agenda Politico. “But the Manchin-Sanders fence-mending, the increased specificity from Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and progressives’ willingness to accept a social spending bill far short of the original $3.5 trillion target price all point toward a Democratic Party on the verge of a victory.” “One more such victory and we are undone.” –Pyrrhus of Epirus

* * *

Senate Republicans block Joe Manchin’s voting rights bill The Week. President Manchin fails to deliver. Again.

Capitol Seizure

House votes to hold Trump ally Steve Bannon in contempt AP

Our Famously Free Press

Media Secret Keepers Boondoggle

Police State Watch

42 Seconds After This Photo Was Taken, Police Shot Peyton Ham Dead Defector. Appalling. Worth clearing your cookies for.

Photos inside Rikers Island expose hellish, deadly conditions NY Post

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Public health or private wealth? How digital vaccine passports pave way for unprecedented surveillance capitalism The Gray Zone. Caitlin Johnstone comments: “No normal people want digital identity laws passed. Normal people aren’t sitting around going ‘Man it sure sucks we can’t prove our identity online with a digital ID that contains all our information.’ Only the powerful want this, and for good reason.”

The Next Facebook Will Be a Tartarus, an Endless Prison for Humanity. I Can’t Wait. New York Magazine

Imperial Collapse Watch

US Officials Can Guard Against Havana Syndrome With This Innovative Home Solution Caitlin Johnstone. Wait for it….

Class Warfare

A useful thread on trucking and being a trucker:

“It’s like being an indentured servant.” Not a headline I would have expected to see in the business press, at least until recently.

As Special Metals strike drags on, community steps up to help workers WHCS (FOX).

School Food Policy Affects Everyone: Retail Responses to the National School Lunch Program NBER. From the Abstract: “We find that local adoption of the CEP* causes households with children to reduce their grocery purchases, leading to a 10% decline in grocery sales at large retail chains. Retailers respond with chain-level price adjustments: chains with the most exposure lower prices by 2.5% across all outlets in the years following adoption, so that the program’s welfare benefits propagate spatially.” NOTE * CEP = “Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), an expansion of the lunch program under the 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act.”

Steel-making coal upturn brings new mine, old problems to WV community Southerly

How Donald Trump, Elon Musk, and Gwyneth Paltrow Short-Circuit Your Ability to Think Rationally Bloomberg. Also, watch out for synecdoche!

Antidote du jour (via):

Bonus Antidote:

Lucky duck!

See yesterday’s Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. Richard H Caldwell

    Matt Stoller is on a roll! Here’s the note I sent around to my family members encouraging them to read today’s article on the hearing aid industry:


    No, I’m not shopping for hearing aids, nor suggesting you should either. But you may have wondered how Apple can sell AirPods for $150 a pair when BelTone wants $4,700 or more for hearing aids.

    Enter Matt Stoller, student of corporate monopoly in the U.S. He is systematically exposing the myriad of ways in which pay-for-play political donations, legal loopholes, and lax regulatory enforcement of existing anti-monopoly laws combine to create those $4,700 BelTones. This article about the hearing aid industry is one in a series of articles that are raising awareness and having an impact by looking at these practices across multiple industries.

    Along with the appointment of Lina Khan to head the Federal Trade Commission, the agency responsible for reviewing mergers and enforcing anti-monopoly laws, there is growing concern among members of both parties in Congress about the kinds of abuses illustrated in Matt’s article. When you read this article, and I hope you do, realize that this is just one industry and just one example. This same illegal and unfair playbook is being followed in tons of industries in tons of ways.

    It’s not just hearing aids. Have you bought disposable razor blades recently? Glasses? Who’s it benefitting? Not us…”

    1. tegnost

      Along with the appointment of Lina Khan to head the Federal Trade Commission, the agency responsible for reviewing mergers and enforcing anti-monopoly laws, there is growing concern among members of both parties in Congress about the kinds of abuses illustrated in Matt’s article.
      Concern as in “I should have invested more in BelTone”?

      1. Michael Ismoe

        Do we get an $600 voucher for the $5000 hearing aids too?

        The Dems are going to lose 200 seats in the House next year.

    2. WhoaMolly

      Recent hearing aid prices at Costco, and ways to get moderately priced aids.

      New digital aids:
      – Costco Kirkland brand (two aids) $1400.
      – Phonak (two aids, for severe loss) $2500.

      Used digital aids on Ebay. Digital aids can be reprogrammed by an audiologist. Figure an additional few hundred dollars for audiologist reprogramming and new earmolds.

      – Used Phonak Marvel (latest and greatest, might be the best hearing aid on market) $900 for two.
      – Used Phonak V90 (previous generation but excellent devices) $500 for two.

      Any hearing aid will require a hearing test and programming by an audiologist. If the programming doesn’t match the user’s hearing loss and lifestyle, people tend to quit wearing them. I’ve worn aids for 40 years. Every time I get a new model it takes three to five visits to the audiologist to tweak the programming before they work properly.

      1. threeskies

        Thank you WhoaMolly–for naming the Phonek. There’s this too, for others shy of, or underfunded for, standard hearing aids: I wear them for phone calls and streaming. It’s Aftershockz’s Aeropex model. It’s an open ear/bone conduction, wireless/bluetooth headset that “works” where the sound source is a phone, car radio, iPod, laptop… Maybe one of the Phonek products would be a help where the source is a person. Background rant: Here, one ear (of four) suffered (what later came to be known as) Sudden Hearing Loss a few years ago. Zero help! was offered by the local otolaryngology practice, of which we were both customers, despite repeatedly stating the emergency. “Our next appointment is in three months”. We didn’t go to the ER since, “there’s no otolaryngologist here”. Frustration/helplessness fueled anger. (It took the second heart event to learn that the ER physician-in-charge here calls colleagues for consultation. Is this true in every ER?) This was years before covid, but not before this instance of (self-defeating) no faith. A heavy dose of antibiotics would have taken care of it I’m told; but we didn’t know this. Then, hearing aids were abruptly refused: “They’re too expensive! They don’t work!” Despair fueled anger. Then efforts with apps. But the stress/humiliation (?) of attending to a device at a gathering was too much and that was abandoned. Sociality gave way to withdrawal. It hurts. It’s bad, hearing loss.

        1. Anonymous 2

          I am sorry to hear about your problems. It sounds tough. I think it is steroids which are usually used in the event of sudden hearing loss.

          1. threeskies

            @Anonymour 2. Thank you so much for reading my post, for caring, for your feeling, your words.

      1. Calvin

        Wondered the same thing. i.e. your phone in your pocket, or better yet your hand, where it usually is anyway, acting as a directionally aimed microphone, transmitting what it picks up to ear buds.

    3. drumlin woodchuckles

      It almost makes one wonder whether a pair of airpods could somehow be connected to a tiny radio-wave receiver, and a little microphone could be set nearby to recieve sound and translate it into radio waves at exactly the frequency that the tiny radio-wave reciever attached to the airpods recieved at. Perhaps the microphone could be worn around the neck and broadcast the short distance up to the airpods.

      But that is pure speculation because I don’t know how these technosystems work.

      Or could the around-the-neck microphone send a signalized-version of whatever sound it recorded up wires straight into the air pods?

  2. griffen

    Facebook and their new company name. I am sure the debating of what the glam, glitzy new moniker will be under consideration to the very deadline. Below are some humble thoughts, merely suggestions for a non-creative.

    Yes its a sarcasm entry.

    An Incorporation for Puppies in a Basket
    An Incorporation for Rainbows and Unicorns
    An Incorporation for Moms and Apple Pies
    An Incorporation for We Are Not Evil Like That Other Place

  3. noonespecial

    Re: Latin American Investor

    Lines from the link:
    “Until now the pressure has been on individual mining companies to gain community consent for their project…organisers repeatedly tell us…create a mining agreement. One that compensates locals for the disruption they face in return the global benefit…it also has some of the world’s ‘cleanest’ oil…Producing crude onshore in Colombia, with operations powered by the country’s 60% renewable electricity grid, emits far less emissions that the oil coming out of Canada’s oil sands or the US shale patch.”

    1. On the mining side: An area known as the Paramo de Santurban in Colombia is facing the arrival of mass scale mining. The problem? The preserve supplies water to 2 states. There are other metals to be extracted, but the main one is gold. And gold mining is not the cleanest process as many NC readers may already know. The need to “gain community consent” as the article posits is not going over very well in this area regardless of global benefit. Small scale miners who have been at it for 400 years don’t want a multinational setting up shop since it will mean that their livelihood would be jeopardized. The residents of Vetas insist on a proper demarcation of where small scale mining could continue and the rest of the area not to be touched. The aim to protect the water is shared by the regional heads of government.

    On local miners: (in Spanish):

    2. On Producing crude onshore – The photos tell the tale. The spills and damage by Ecopetrol are constant, not to mention the fact that an armed, anti-government group (ELN) is constantly on the prowl looking for places to detonate bombs that also cause oil spills. Contacts in the area of Santander tell me Ecopetrol’s problems keep on keeping on. But for investors it is candy time in Colombia as Ecopetrol’s stock is of very high value. Title of article in English: Ecopetrol will pay 3.800 million pesos for environmental damage in Santander

  4. The Rev Kev

    “‘A joke if it wasn’t so serious’: Australia lags developed countries on climate action”

    I don’t think that I can over emphasize how much the present Coalition government in Oz is hostile to the thought of doing anything against climate change. It is not so much a matter of that they take so much money from the mining industry but they seem to be ideologically bent that way. Think of the most rabid Republican climate change deniers and that is Scotty from Marketing and his faction. Not that long ago a coal-fired plant was shutting down as it was not financially viable but the Coalition tried to bribe them with hundreds of millions of dollars of government subsidies to keep it open – but unsuccessfully. They have now been caught trying to sabotage any agreements being made at the COP26 Glasgow summit so that they do not have to change anything back at home. So it is not so much a matter of Scotty signing up for net zero by 2050 but Scotty wanting to sign up for net zero by 3050.

    1. griffen

      I do not have a particular dog in this fight, but the article is pretty telling. It would be less-discouraging, one supposes, if the deniers just flat out sat on their hands to do nothing but instead they appear involved and actively pursuing the exact opposite of any net zero target plan.

      Did enjoy the video clip. That is a tad better than some of the screeching diatribes and dialogues we get over here.

  5. Robert Gray

    Re: 42 Seconds After This Photo Was Taken, Police Shot Peyton Ham Dead Defector. Appalling. Worth clearing your cookies for.

    How fortuitous that this story comes hard on the heels of the recent discussions here about anger. One of the commenters yesterday urged developing the

    > … ability to cultivate a frame of mind that lets negative emotions pass through you without hurting you.
    > That seems to me something to value. It’s the difference between seeing some negative thing be done …
    > and either (a) getting angry and rushing out to attack … and (b) reflecting on what, if at all, you can usefully
    > do to show your displeasure.

    According to the story, that boy’s family duly ‘reflected’. And they tried to show their ‘displeasure’. To what avail? Endless reflection is bootless whilst society is crushed beneath the Iron Heel.

    And at the risk of shining a spotlight on the elephant in the room, I shudder to think what anger might have been made manifest if Peyton Ham had been a member of one of the traditionally oppressed communities.

    1. David May

      What does it take to make someone see that their country is deeply evil? Americanism is the biggest cult in the world.

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      Combining information from an earlier Defector article, linked near the top of this link: Officer Azzari fired 10 shots at Peyton Ham in five seconds. He waited three seconds and fired shot #11 from a distance 9 to 10 feet closer to Ham. Then almost a minute after shot #11 Officer Azzari fired the remaining four shots in his clip at close range, “…more than 10 feet away from the wounded and kneeling boy and fired four more shots, at least three of which hit his chest and neck, killing him.”
      “…several of the shots from Azzari hit two different buildings across the street….” Of course some details are missing: How many times was Peyton Ham hit? How many bullets struck the two buildings across the street? From what distances did Officer Azzari fire his shots?

      If the Maryland State Police want stone-cold killers for their police officers, I can only wonder why they would not require better marksmanship from their killers. Why are they so little concerned about possible collateral damage? Even if “…trooper Azzari’s use of deadly force was reasonable under Maryland law…”, why was he not at least charged with reckless endangerment?

      Officer Azzari’s firearm, a Glock 22, fires .40 caliber bullets, those bullets versus 9mm bullets: “At its most basic, it’s reasonable to conclude that the .40 caliber S&W has more stopping power, kinetic energy, and superior ballistics to the target, which will lead to larger and potentially more lethal wounds (although 9mm ammunition is powerful in its own right).”

      1. JacobiteInTraining

        “….wonder why they would not require better marksmanship from their killers…”

        Ammo costs BIG money, and regular & repeated days at the range to practice burn up ammo. Instead of assuming marksmanship or that a single well-placed shot will do anything, its more efficient and better for everyone (that matters) for police to just do a mag dump (or two, or three, just to be sure)

        Its the USMC that believes in marksmanship.

        “… Why are they so little concerned about possible collateral damage? Even if “…trooper Azzari’s use of deadly force was reasonable under Maryland law…”, why was he not at least charged with reckless endangerment?…”

        Because there is no such thing as collateral damage, at least – of the kind they have to pay for, or care about. If, god forbid, any innocent bystanders had been hit/killed by errant police gunfire, the DA would have simply prosecuted Mr. Ham w/felony murder for their deaths, had he had the temerity to live.

        The police can never fail, it is only us maggots who can fail *them*

        I think i am supposed to click my heels together and salute the police now.

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          Sorry, I suppose you are correct about no-fault police deadly force and the relative frugality of shotgunning a click versus training marksmanship.

          But Click heels and salute? I thought current standards demand that we must prostrate ourselves and kiss up. You must live in a better neighborhood than I do.

          1. JacobiteInTraining

            Great Uncle was a Deputy Sheriff for 30 years, good friend from HS was a small town Policeman, then retired a Detective.

            I get a pass from groveling, as long as I keep my hair trimmed high and tight…and don’t have any suspect bumper stickers on my pickup…

  6. jr

    re: hippo blow woes

    Personally, I’ve always found that an overabundance of cocaine had a contraceptive effect all it’s own but then a hippo’s BMI is a lot more than my own.

  7. Jeremy Grimm

    “The Confusing State of Inflation Inputs”:
    I think this link leaves out one other prime driver of rising prices — monopoly rents. I am less optimistic that monopoly rents will decrease in the future. I had the impression that little constrains the ongoing consolidation of u.s. commerce and industry.

    I also doubt “Just in Time” inventory, and many other ‘innovations’ in logistics will just go away. These practices have been known to be “terrible in any sort of an emergency”. Some firms are making efforts to repair single source problems in their supply chains, starved inventories, separations of suppliers across long distances, and other problems — but how long will those repairs remain in place. Unless something has changed which I am unaware of, repairs to the supply chains will store uncaptured short-term profits which later managers will pillage for a bump in their pay packages as soon as the winds change. Wage increases may or may not be sticky. There are too many ways employers can replace domestic employees with machines, new practices like self-checkout, and new populations of immigrants.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      “Confusing.” And deliberately so IMNSHO, starting with the word “inflation” itself.

      Most normal people hear the word “inflation” and think rising “prices.” (The “federal” reserve has a “mandate” to maintain “price” stability, which it “interprets” to mean “2% increase per year.” Nothing “stable” about that.)

      Ritholtz himself uses the terms interchangeably, and “confusingly” in the article:

      Hence, “Reset” is the right word for some price increases (e.g. wages) but “Transitory” applies to those price spikes that are likely to fall back to a more modest annualized rate of increase.

      He’s right there–“prices” are being permanently “reset” higher, but eventually they won’t rise as fast as this current “reset” demands. This “transitory” bullshit, while “technically” correct, is meant to placate normal people into thinking that “prices” will come back down when “we return to normal,” which TPTB know they won’t.

      More covid-justified con games and economic ripoffs.

      1. Helena

        From the horse’s mouth,

        Never Waste A Good CrisisThe best leaders never waste a good crisis because it affords them the chance to make the kind of large wholesale changes their organization needs. They let the fire do some of the work for them to make the organization receptive to change.

        1. lordkoos

          It could easily be changed to “the worst leaders never waste a good crisis”. All recent crisis’ in the USA have led to wholesale changes for the worst, from the point of view of the average American.

          1. Helena

            Well, considering the source, I didn’t add a sarcasm tag. These ‘leaders’ are sharks, and was talking to its own. It reminds me of that Scrooged movie scene where Frank Cross fires Eliot Loudermilk, and his secretary (Alfre Woodard) says “But it’s Christmas,” and Frank says, “THANK you! Stop his bonus!”

      2. skippy

        My painter buddy was freaking out about price dynamics with regard to the job keeper policy [fed gov pays to keep employees on] here in Australia, being used to under bid on quotes from its previous history, with a side of fear loss as clients both clutched their wallets and negotiated prices even lower ….

        I laughed manically …. prices and demand are higher than ever …. with no end in sight …

        A. capital/income has been redeployed by all those that had discretionary spending curtailed by loss of travel due to restrictions [consumers must consume], more time at home means spiffing up the place to offset loss of ascetics consumed out and about e.g. the home is the only place humans can alter their environment to change/make up for environmental loss elsewhere – desperately seeking happiness.

        B. previous construction/renovation dynamic was keeping trades costs down whilst throwing everyone on the job in some sorta maniacal Fordism/Taylor nightmare due to progress payments from the lenders to builders, to the trades doing the job. Supply issues [know a top builder that is sourcing timber from Russia to meet demand] and over burden from past projects failures working through the legal/political system is starting to have an effect on this approach.

        C. For some silly reason all the sudden clients are seeking value over price in the near and far term as they prepare for this new future. Previous cowboys are finding it hard to get this kinda good work because of past record wrt volume work and more and more clients are using word of mouth over price alone and multiple quotes and live with the consequences – got a deal so can move on with life.

        D. Booked out flat for 4 months and having to turn away lots of work, even legacy clients [mostly tax on your time you owe us sorts] before my time. Yet can’t expand due to industry crapifiying all the institutional feeder schools for the manual trades in privatizing them [billion dollar rorts] and social attitudes about the manual trades post the PMC/University beautiful people agenda – FIRE sector for the win.

        Anywho I got another raise without asking, just emailed to add a few bucks per hour on next invoice. Its a mad mad mad world ….

        Once covered with oatmeal like applied white paint – over everything … and now –

        Hiding hand cast and hand tooled door furniture … sigh …

  8. jr

    re: propaganda

    Would the advertising on the Bloomberg propaganda article’s page in which the Saudi government claims to be launching a “Green initiative” count as a Big Lie?

  9. flora

    From The Gray Zone, Max Blumenthal and Jeremy Loffredo’s latest article. A long and very good read.

    Public health or private wealth? ….

    “The US credit industry and digital immunity ID outfits collaborate on “huge opportunities for the commercial sector”

    The Improving Digital Identity Act of 2021, introduced by Foster in July, calls for the public sector, and particularly the Department of Homeland Security, to work with the private sector to develop a new biometric digital ID infrastructure for the United States.

    In November 2020, the Gates-sponsored ID2020 provided an online forum for Foster to promote his bill. During the event, the congressman advocated for a “trusted biometric digital immunity certificate system” while explaining that his bill would obtain biometrics from every citizen so private corporations could then “leverage” it to generate enormous profits.

    But as tech oligarchs and their partners in the financial and national security industries leverage the coronavirus epidemic to institute a lucrative apparatus of digital monitoring, dissent is erupting in the countries where vaccine passports have begun to exclude millions.

    I recommend reading the whole article. Suddenly, a lot of stuff that hasn’t made any sense begins to make sense in a dystopian logic.

    1. Michaelmas

      And this, which makes Pohl & Kornbluth look like cockeyed optimists ….

      ‘To register their proof of vaccination, Illinois residents must turn to Experian, the world’s leading credit score service … the online portal requires that any resident with a freeze on their credit must unfreeze it with Experian before registering a vaccination.’

  10. The Rev Kev

    “Russia Urges Major Foreign Aid for Taliban-Ruled Afghanistan”

    There could be a partial solution for the US. Washington has confiscated about $10 billion of Afghanistan’s money and are sitting on it while pulling interest. Maybe they are waiting for an Afghan version of Juan Guaidó to appear so that they can turn over that money to him. A better solution would be for the US to use that money to purchase things like flour, rice, medical supplies, etc. and to ship it to Kabul. That way the money gets put to use and the US might get better relations with Afghanistan by this humanitarian gesture – with each box and bag marked ‘Gift From USA’ of course. Will they do it? No. I think that Washington would rather see Afghanistan descend into chaos in the same way that they punished Vietnam financially for decades after they lost the war there. After all, if this results in millions of refugees, none of them will be able to swim to the US though they will probably reach Europe – but that would be their problem.

  11. Dave

    Biden the senile genius. So he’s going to take National Guard people away from their jobs (especially truck drivers?) so that they can drive trucks. Brilliant!

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Err…it would be one of the best uses of the Guard in decades. It’s not like Guard deployments in the GWOT helped Americans except profiteers.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Only trouble is that driving one of those huge rigs is not something that you can just learn on the job, particularly for a young kid in the National Guard. From what I am given to understand, they require a special skill set to maneuver one of these things, especially backwards. Then there is the matter of who picks up the tab for the insurance. Not only on that rig but also on that Guardsman in case of death or injury. And if they are put under the same pressures that they put truck drivers under, they might decide to put themselves and their families first and quite the Guard altogether.

        1. Jen

          My driveway separates the pros from the amateurs even with a 45 foot long truck. Drivers who know what they’re doing may utter some choice words, but they make it to the top. Those who do not collapse in a puddle of tears negotiating the first turn.

          I’ve also watched drivers navigate the loading dock at one of our science buildings, backing up from a (for our part of the world) busy street and yeah, not something you want some trying their first day on the job.

        2. jr

          You can say that a few more times. As I recently posted, I once drove a 26’ moving truck to Houston and then back to the East Coast. It was draining to say the least. I almost caused a major accident because my rearview mirror was a few inches out of alignment, it would have shut down a major expressway for hours at a minimum. An 18 wheeler belongs to a completely different phylum of danger.

      2. Louis Fyne

        How many 18-35 year olds/National Guard members can drive a boring 5-speed manual transmission?….Let alone operate a transmission on a big rig.

        When the dust settles, shippers will decide it’s worth the annoyance to ship things to Florida, Georgia and decrease reliance on California.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Haven’t got a source for that at the moment but that is what is happening. Other port cities are being tasked up to meet the overload.

        2. Procopius

          Nobody seems to remember that between the Pacific and the Atlantic there’s a small barrier called Panama. It’s true there’s a canal across the isthmus, but some (many?) container ships are too large to pass through it, and the route through the Staits of Magellan is too long to be economical. So instead of a hundred ships lined up waiting outside the Port of Los Angeles you have a hundred ships added to the ships already lined up at the Panama Canal.

    2. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

      Similar to the genius of replacing health care workers who are mRNA skeptical with National Guard health care workers. Many of whom are being separated for believing in actual science as opposed to the bought and paid for Peter Daszek version. “Your comment is awaiting moderation- is it the moniker? I can be irreverant any number of ways. I’ll change it if you like, Lambert or whoever.”

    3. Katniss Everdeen

      Where are all those self-driving trucks we heard so much about back when the “supply chain infrastructure” was humming along and up to the job, and those deplorable truckers were just beggin’ to be disrupted?

      You’d have thought those stocks would be zooming straight to the moon and a massive federal “investment” would be imminent but…..crickets.

  12. Kill them with Laughter

    Thanks for the Caitlin-piece. Hilarious! I am still giggling three hours after having read it.

    1. Art Vandalay

      Not to be foily. . . .

      Recently on NBC news there were interviews between Andrea Mitchell and several current/former embassy employees from around the world who certainly seemed to be suffering symptoms of some sort, in some cases disabled from employment based on medical advice, and I thought I heard on TV while in another room that there was a Stanford physician stating the symptoms are consistent with injury caused by electromagnetic energy of some sort.

      I consider it highly unlikely that Vladmir has managed to compromise embassies scattered all over the world with a cunning EMF ray-gun.

      However, I suspect US embassies are festooned with all sorts of electronic gear. Thus, I wonder if there may not be real EMF injury here, but that the explanation is workplace injury due to equipment the US has installed in its own embassies. At least Occam’s razor makes that feel more likely than Vlad. And there’s no shortage of examples of the US gov’t failing to fess up to having harmed its personnel in the past.

      Be interested if anyone has found any (reliable) articles exploring the topic.

      1. The Rev Kev

        That is quite an excellent thought that. Years ago an Australian Embassy in Asia had complaints made against it for the amount of electronic gear on the roof pumping out EM energy so you would expect US Embassies to also use a lot of electronic spying devices. That is something that could never be admitted too in public so blaming the Russkies would be a way of paying out compensation to employees without admitting liability. And on time, special legislation was passed a coupla days ago to pay out employees effected by Russky rays.

      2. c_heale

        I read somewhere a long time ago that some vaccines can affect hearing. I can’t find or remember the source but since all these workers are living outside the country they may all have received some vaccinations. This could be worth investigating.

  13. Jeremy Grimm

    “COP26: Document leak reveals nations lobbying to change key climate report”
    IPCC spokesman:
    “The comments from governments the BBC has read are overwhelmingly designed to be constructive and to improve the quality of the final report.” [Such a nice helping of ambiguity in — “designed to be constructive” and “improved quality”]
    “Our processes are designed to guard against lobbying – from all quarters” [but how well do these processes work?]
    And a choice testimonial:
    Professor Corinne le Quéré … a leading climate scientist who has helped compile three major reports for the IPCC: “There is absolutely no pressure on scientists to accept the comments,” she told the BBC. “If the comments are lobbying, if they’re not justified by the science, they will not be integrated in the IPCC reports.”

    Speaking of the science I especially like this gem: “…all big producers or users of fossil fuels – as well as the organisation of oil producing nations, Opec, all support carbon capture and storage (CCS) …. The draft report accepts CCS could play a role in the future but says there are uncertainties about its feasibility.”

    I believe by time the COP26 meeting concludes in November, the BBC, certain scientists, and government officials may suffer from extreme lengthening of their noses.

    1. newcatty

      The pity while their noses grow longer, unlike the puppet , they will never transform into real boys and girls with hearts and a concience.

    2. Maritimer

      COP(ulate)26. Very fitting that Boorish is pimping this shindig.
      But with six kids and three marriages, BJ will probably pass on the Population Control Workshop.

      However, which way to the lavish buffet? Jennifer Arcuri in town?

  14. Bob

    In regards to testing of sewage outflows.

    “This is fascinating. The technology also offers a way to get good data at low cost without infringing on civil liberties”

    Note that the technology of testing waste water has a long history and that certain types of discharges are required to be reported up to the EPA.

    Ceriodaphnia dubia is commonly used as a sort of canary to establish the levels of toxicity in waste water. And if the results are positive (an unexpected die off of Ceriodaphnia dubia) this is reported to the state level and perhaps to the federal level. A good many polluters have been caught in this very manner.

    The point being is that waste water testing has been implemented for many years and the results are reported. The question of privacy / civil liberties is moot.

    1. juno mas

      …and while testing at the central treatment plant that may service 200,000 people, there is the potential to test (screen) at more local points of the sewer system to be more selective.

  15. jr

    An article from Vox detailing why variant-specific boosters aren’t necessary at this time:

    I found the constant harping on the need to avoid the regulatory process in favor of efficiency a bit disconcerting and this line definitely didn’t inspire confidence despite the cheerleading tone:

    “In January 2020, Moderna proved just how fast this can be: It designed its Covid-19 vaccine in one weekend!”

    What could go wrong?!

    1. rowlf

      Two aviation terms for when a kludge occurs:

      PBA – used by maintainers, Probably Be Alright
      LAR – used by designers, Looks About Right

      Bypassing established safety practices wigs me out.

    2. jr

      Upon reflection, the name of the section, “Future Perfect”, reveals some breathtaking happy-think…

    3. juno mas

      The Moderna vaccine (mRNA) took all of 14 hrs. to design after the Covid19 DNA signature was revealed. Because there had been ten years plus of basic research on the topic. It was NIH that funded this basic research; they partnered with Moderna scientists in developing the vaccine.

      Which makes Moderna’s claim of proprietary rights suspect. Just like other corporations use basic infrastructure to socialize costs and privatize profits.

      (What could go wrong?—Not much, to this point. Over 100 million jabs have been given and adverse effects ,to this point, are extremely rare.)

      1. c_heale

        The vaccines are non-sterilizing, and do not seem to have stopped the progress of the disease overall. The main reason they have become the favored method of dealing with this disease is economic – they allow people to return to work – not medical.

  16. The Rev Kev

    ‘The Australian Gov Is Set To Pass A Digital ID Law…’

    Had not heard about this but our media is so useless, that is no surprise. I should pay more attention to Caitlin Johnstone’s twitter feed more for stuff like this. Not a surprise either that it is a Coalition government bringing this in but the Labour Party in opposition usually says zip about such matters. That is why they are not in power. When I have to think of the Leader of the Opposition, it takes me a few seconds to recall who it is. The guy is a party hack and when something important like this comes along, usually goes on camera and says that he completely agrees with what the government is doing and offers his full support. And that is why Scotty from Marketing still has power.

  17. Raymond Sim

    Wow, who is that Donald Low guy who wrote the South China Morning Post opinion piece?

    I know that attacking your political enemy’s strengths as if they’re weaknesses and pretending your shortcomings are theirs is standard stuff, but a guy from Hong Kong trying to pass off the rest-of-the-world cluster as some sort of prestige policy – I hope this means we’re close to peak neoliberalism.

  18. rowlf

    Half doses, third doses, kids’ doses: Covid vaccine delivery goes next-level difficult STAT

    Time to issue new CDC cards in a bingo card format? There has to be someone in the US that has had all the US EUA vaccines (and boosters) by now due to the fear marketing.

    1. Maritimer

      TV Remake: Let’s Take A Vaccine
      “OK, Dora, do you want Vaccine number one, Vaccine number two or Vaccine number three?”

      And forget the Vax contracts, give me the Vax Passport contract. It’ll be a great starter and then just keep on giving and giving. Global too. Bingo indeed!

  19. Raymond Sim

    So the tuskless female elephants are the beneficiaries of a lethal recessive. I guess that shows all the fuss about stamping out poaching was just idealistic nonsense. Endemicity baby!

  20. jr

    Caitlyn forgot to add that the US government is paying the hastily incorporated defense contractor “Dyno-Foil” 5K$ per cap…

  21. upstater

    NY prisons offer McDonald’s, more food incentives to inmates who get vaccinated

    How about a Big Mac, Large Fries and a 32 ounce Coke for that jab? Sure beats the regular fare at Auburn or Attica.

    People incarcerated in New York state prisons have one more reason to get vaccinated against COVID-19, after the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision announced a new vaccine incentive program.

    In a memo issued to all DOCCS inmates Wednesday, acting commissioner Anthony J. Annucci detailed a program that will provide special meals to inmates who receive at least one dose of a vaccine between now and Dec. 8.

    1. Helena

      Oh, wow. Junk food. And a big contract for McDonalds and whoever is gouging for the pizza. That’ll solve everything.

  22. tommy

    Still have to give thanks to all you at NC, for not succumbing to Russiagate, and not succumbing to the hysteria against Caitlin, Greenwald, and Hedges and Aaron Mate, and Grayzone….and etc stuff……Such great links. We can all decide who and where to read really….

    1. c_heale

      It’s a sign of how poor the traditional news sources have become, that there are fewer and fewer links from them.

    2. Yves Smith

      Thanks for the thumbs up, but we were ATTACKED in the Washington Post, early on, as Russiagate was just getting started, barely two weeks after Trump won the election. You must have found us after that appalling episode.

      1. Raymond Sim

        The pandemic has had me pretty distracted, but now that you mention it, I feel like you’re a bit overdue for another MSM sortie against you.

        We cancelled our subscription to the Bee though, so I might have missed some CalPers stuf.

  23. Questa Nota

    LBO, Trucking Version

    1. guy gets juicy new hauler contract
    2. guy buys a new truck
    3. oops, some contract clause triggered
    4. income falls
    5. guy scrambles to take any routes he can find, regardless of hours, stress, etc
    6. welcome to indentured serfitude
    7. the LBO piece is where they bought out your soul

    Payload: When people have their livelihoods thus restricted, they become more compliant and less likely to think for themselves. Dangerous thoughts about independent action are suppressed.

  24. Helena

    “‘Bulls—‘: How a Manchin-Bernie blowup helped unstick Dems’ agenda Politico”

    I knew they were going to find a way to blame Bernie.

    1. Michael Ismoe

      “unstick” means “Not stuck” as in they are agreeing. Bernie endorsed Joe Biden. Whatever comes his way is deserved.

      1. Yves Smith

        What about “A deal is a deal” don’t you understand?

        Did you miss Bernie was not a Democrat but an independent? That the Dems allowed him into their primaries on the condition that he endorse the winner if he lost?

  25. Pelham

    I do hope that when this reconciliation bill is reconciliated into near oblivion that someone will lay out in clear terms:

    1) What was promised in the original $6 trillion proposal;

    2) What was promised in the $3.5 trillion proposal that the Dems promised to actually pass;

    3) And what we’re finally getting.

    And if Sanders and Jayapal in particular sign on to this, I hope that some questioner manages to hold their feet to a super hot fire.

  26. Tom Collins' Moscow Mule

    “China-linked disinformation campaign blames Covid on Maine lobsters NBC.”

    The trivial conclusion is that PR and propaganda are the tools used to manage and control public perception(s), that is, the MSM, or state media, is a great keboard playing to a select audience. Most people are completely unaware of how they are so easily, successfully, and frequently psychologically manipulated. For example,

    1. “The surprising history—from food for the poor, servants, and prisoners to a soldier’s staple to everybody’s idea of a delicacy—of “the cockroach of the ocean.” Or, one of the most remarkable rebrandings in product history.”

    2. “So if it’s all the same, how come a bottle of Grey Goose costs about $35 while Sobieski Vodka is only $12? That’s almost three times the price! Vodka aficionados will tell you that the costlier brands are “distilled more” or use “higher quality ingredients” (uh, water?) or won’t cause vicious hangovers come the morning. Maybe they’re right about that. But there’s really just another reason: People pay based on perception.”

    “All Vodka Is the Same. So Why Is Some More Expensive Than Others?”

    “We’re going to go and find out how vodka is actually made. We’ll hear the story of the marketing genius who created the whole concept of super-premium vodka.”

    “The Vodka Proof”

    In all societies, perception management, along with being a simple marketing tool, is crucial for the maintenance of a carefully fabricated social reality.

    1. brian wilder

      I rarely drink so maybe I am sensitive, but I can feel a difference between the house vodka and Grey Goose and it is a difference I am willing to pay for. I cannot speak to the chemistry or technology, but I think the thesis of no difference or a difference in perception with no foundation outside perception does not bear with my experience.

      1. Basil Pesto

        there’s a Tasmanian distillery that makes a vodka with sheep’s whey and it tastes brilliant.

    2. Yves Smith

      I come from a family of lobsternen. And I can tell you PSMag is full of shit. My great uncle was the biggest lobster broker in Maine, which means the US. Lobster was seen as a delicacy way before “branding” was a concept.

      Crustacea have been delicacies long before the lobster population in the Gulf of Maine mysteriously exploded after WWII. Have you not heard of French langoustine? Lobsters are just a bigger form factor.

        1. Tom Collins' Moscow Mule

          One never wants to be considered to be ‘the’ pot-stirrer, but sometimes it is just necessary to be ‘the’ iconoclast and the disturber of cherished beliefs. There is a surplus of information available that offers support for my observations and conclusions. For example,

          1. “Due to their sheer abundance lobsters became a precious source of sustenance during hard times, which gave them a nasty reputation as the poor man’s protein, being labelled regionally as “the rat of the sea”. Despite early interests the perception of lobster as a food for the poor persisted into the 1800s. “Lobster shells about a house are looked upon as signs of poverty and degradation,” wrote American observer John Rowan in the mid-19th century. Peddlers in Portland, Maine carried lobsters around in wheelbarrows, selling them on the street to working class Irish immigrants.”

          2. “The marketing piece is one of the most intriguing elements. There has been ongoing, often ravenous competition between the powerful marketing of Maine lobster and cheaper Canadian lobster. The topic even became part of the mainstream in 2009 with celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay on his show Kitchen Nightmares, where he vehemently scolds an establishment for substituting Maine lobster for Canadian lobster. He harnesses some sort of super-power that allows him to detect the difference by sight.”

          3. “As Mary Roach points out in her 2013 offering Gulp, taste is subjective. “It’s ephemeral, shaped by trends and fads. It’s one part mouth and two parts ego”. This holds true with perceptions of lobster in the 18th century or in the present day. She goes on to point out that studies conducted with wine and cost, and how, during blind taste tests with experts, least expensive wines regularly outscore the more expensive ones and often the most expensive wines score the worst.”

          “Cape Breton lobster: The marketing, the history”

          Marketing and PR is, of course, not limited to the food industry specifically and corporate culture more generally, as it is used extensively by governments and state agencies to shape and define public attitudes toward state policy objectives, that is, the legitimization of state policy through public acceptance and endorsement. See for example,

          “How PR Sold the War in the Persian Gulf”

          “US Congressman Jimmy Hayes of Louisiana — a conservative Democrat who supported the Gulf War — later estimated that the government of Kuwait funded as many as 20 PR, law and lobby firms in its campaign to mobilize US opinion and force against Hussein.”

          As stated above, the trivial observation and conclusion is that we live in a carefully packaged and fabricated social reality that is exquisitely maintained. In any case, I thank everyone for their consideration, as your input helps to maintain my own intellectual vigilance, integrity, and honesty.

          1. Yves Smith

            Lobsters were upscale food BEFORE WWII, when they were much scarcer than now. My family was in that business, fer Chrissakes.

            They were also harder to get to East Coast cities fresh due to more limited refrigeration.

            We have a family story about a New York city matron who ordered a huge lobster for a party, then she and her servant could not figure out how to get it into the pot. The hostess eventually got her husband’s service revolver and shot it.

            My relatives designed a special boat to circulate water through the hull so the lobsters could get to New York City fresh and frisky.

      1. Raymond Sim

        But it seems lobster and oysters are swankier than blue claw crab? I always just assumed they got better pr.

        De gustibus non est disputandum and all that – but I’ll take blue claws over just about anything.

        1. Yves Smith

          I don’t think lobsters are swankier but I grew up with them.

          Readers may have other hierarchies, but mine is raw oysters>crab>lobster. But Maryland crab, not dungeness, otherwise raw oyster>lobster>crab. And I’m not an oyster fan.

          My perception re oysters is in part due to my assumption about the difficulty of assuring they are fresh.

          What most people don’t know is lobsters are actually really hardy. I’ve kept them live in my fridge for four days. Ad my father would say, it reminds them of home. You can cook them safely as long as they are still alive. You tell that by grabbing them and flipping them upside down in the air. They really do not like that. They will twitch a little if they are alive. Be prepared for them to flail a lot if they are still strong.

  27. synoia

    Why ships ro not load empty containers

    1 It takes time and costs money to load and unload empty containers
    2. Both ship owners and shippers lower costs
    3. Container makers get more orders
    4 Exporting ports do not have to manage emo[y containers

    Think of the similarities of containers and plastic bags.

    1. Helena

      Someone will come along and collect them to sell for scrap or make homes from them. Like I shop in consignment stores. They are a lot more useful than plastic packaging. It’s the dumping in front of people’s driveways that has me shaking my head.

    2. Robert

      Ships do load empty containers. They have to, to be able to reposition the empty box in a loading port where it gets filled again.
      The empty containers take up space in a port, so the port will charge demurrage for the use of the yard space. It’s a big part of a container ship’s job, picking up the empties and taking them where they are needed.

  28. chuck roast

    Notes on a statistical scandal FT

    If you can’t penetrate the pink paper paywall, here is similar piece:
    The World Bank Scandal…

    I’m reminded of Christopher Lasch’s book, The Revolt of the Elites…must reading by all the fellow travelers. The Quartz piece says that Jim Yong Kim bailed out of the WB six months prior to the start of the investigation. If my declining memory serves, Jim Yong Kim was President of Dartmouth College before becoming WB President. Apparently he was the perfect role model for those richly gifted and entitled young minds.

  29. Iseeyoudock

    Thank you both lambert and Yves for this blog.

    I’ve been following since the Lehman days, believe it or not.

    I must interject.

    I realize that I am far down the queue.

    First, for Yves big wonderful mind. She was the only one who enabled me to understand the events S around 2007/8 with any clarity.

    Second, for Lambert who I saw come in to the picture late. He added some diversity and perspective which I found quite objective later in the mix.

    Thank you both.

    I should say that I appreciate the efforts with which you put forward.

    About me: I have Fifteen years of post secondary training, a Mensa number, multiple boards, and a higher profile position, in which I must remain circumspect.

    Notwithstanding which I have the wish to contribute to an endeavor within which I have had the benefit of learning from the contributors.

    I have not ever, once, written upon a blog; until very late; the prospect has terrified me.

    I realized, later, the opacity of the medium.

    I may be relied upon for some advice within my Venn diagram., beyond which I would consider my counsel circumspect at best.

    If I may aid in comprehension you may rely upon me. I am a compendium of useless trivia and information of doubtful veracity.

    Hat tip.


    1. skippy

      Lmmao … my work mate painter has a Japanese wife that is a high level translator and Mensa member both are both way behind the curve sadly IQ and other metrics are not a substitute for experience.

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