Links 12/13/2021

George Orwell outside the whale New Statesman. Ian McEwan.

John le Carré’s Novels Weren’t Just Spy Thrillers — They Were High Literature Jacobin I’m 1/3 through reading Silverview, his last.

The innovative technology that powered the Inca BBC

Airborne DNA used to detect insect species in breakthrough for ecologists Guardian

Winter storm is set to dump EIGHT FEET of snow on Northern California and will also bring rain and winds to rest of Golden State as forecasters warn of power cuts Daily Mail

Troopical forests can regenerate in just 20 years without human interference Guardian

Loktak Lake: The Human and Environmental Costs of Hydropower The Diplomat

Don’t let ‘shelved assets’ gather dust. Make them into new lifesaving drugs Stat

The lasting images of 2021 WaaPo


Health Innovation for All Project Syndicate. Mariana Mazzucato and Jayati Ghosh.


HK study shows BioNTech much weaker against Omicron RTHK BioNTech (Pfizer).  IIRC Pfizer was one of two vaccine options offered to Hong Kong residents.


As U.S. Nears 800,000 Virus Deaths, 1 of Every 100 Older Americans Has Perished NYT

Omicron in D.C., 30 U.S. states as variant poised to dominate in Europe WaPo

Initial evidence suggests Omicron reduces vaccine efficacy, spreads faster than Delta, says WHO Scroll

“Tidal Wave” Of Omicron Is Coming, Warns UK PM, Sets Booster Target NDTV

Long queues form as UK starts booster blitz against omicron AP

No more lateral flow home test kits available, says NHS England Guardian

Israel to impose travel ban for Britain and Denmark, health officials say Reuters


Covid: South Africa breaks daily cases record as Omicron variant fuels 4th wave Hindustan Times

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa tests positive for Covid-19 France24

Canada to drop 3rd-country COVID test rule for residents returning from southern African nations Reuters


Colorado governor declares COVID-19 emergency ‘over’ despite omicron NY Post

Health officials ratchet up calls for boosters amid threat of omicron wave The Hill


COVID-19 vaccination booster dose can wait: ICMR The Hindu

We have enough Covid vaccines for most of the world. But rich countries are stockpiling more than they need for boosters Stat

Class Warfare

After a Decade on Parole, I Saw 2021 As a Fresh Start. Life Had Other Plans. Marshall Project

Hate Petty Bureaucracy? Become a Socialist. Jacobin

Shortage of snowplow drivers hampers states as storms arrive AP

The Democrats Fighting to Protect the Coastal Elite Atlantic

California Dreaming

He was hired to fix California schools — while running a business in Philadelphia Politico

New York State of Mind

Woke Watch

Is Wokeness Almost Over? American Conservative

COP26/Climate Change


When Carbon Credits Drive People From Their Homes The Wire

‘We faced so many cyclones’: how people in Bangladesh are rebuilding after climate catastrophe Guardian

PICTURED: Five of the six Amazon workers killed after Illinois tornado destroyed warehouse – including Navy vet who died trying to save colleagues – while Bezos throws weekend PARTY at Beverly Hills mansion  Daily Mail

Frosts, heatwaves and wildfires: the climate crisis is hitting the wine industry hard Guardian

The Iñupiat brothers watching their land melt BBC

‘2.4C is a death sentence’: Vanessa Nakate’s fight for the forgotten countries of the climate crisis Guardian

Julian Assange

Biden Administration

‘Does Kamala Harris Have Some Challenges Right Now? You Bet She Does.’ Here’s the Fix. Politico

Biden’s efforts to appease Israel on Iran have failed on all fronts Responsible Statecraft


On The Trail: Trump-inspired challengers target GOP governors The Hill

Hillary Clinton says she would ‘bet on’ Trump running for president again in 2024 after new poll finds Trump and Biden would end up in near-dead heat for White House Daily Mail

The Supremes

Opinion | The Supreme Court Likes Precedent — When It Backs Conservatives Politico


G7 ministers issue warnings to Iran, Russia Deutsche Welle


Vladimir Putin says he drove a taxi after fall of Soviet Union Deutsche Welle

Old Blighty

UK finally gets Asia-style bullet trains Asia Times

Tory Partying as the Alpha Covid Variant Took Hold is a Grim Symbol of Their Pandemic Response Counterpunch. Patrick Cockburn.


Here’s Why the Plan to Process Pashmina Wool in UP Worries Kashmiris The Wire

India’s Latest Religious and Cultural Flashpoint: Eggs NYT

How Migrant Workers’ Welfare In Smaller Enterprises Continues to Be Overlooked India Spend

Modi and His Brand of Hindutva Are Direct Descendants of the British Raj and its Policies The Wire

The India Fix: BSF’s expanded jurisdiction underlines India’s current moment of federal breakdown Scroll


The hype and the fury Dawn


China in Africa: no more hard cash as debt-hit nations battle Covid-19 disruptions South China Morning Post

Taiwan chipmakers hint at decoupling from the US Asia Times

Antidote du Jour. mgl:  We’re better equipped today to rescue species like the golden-shouldered parrot than we were a century ago. Russell McGregor. 100 years ago, this man discovered an exquisite parrot thought to be extinct. What came next is a tragedy we must not repeat

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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    1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author

      Thanks for this link and good morning – or I guess I should be bidding you good evening, given that I believe you’re in Oz.

      1. Basil Pesto

        correct and thank you, and as it is 1:35 am as I read this, the ‘good morning’ just about works!

    2. djrichard

      If the Fed Reserve strengthened the dollar (relative other currencies) that would bring down the price of oil.

      And busting the speculation bubble would bring down the price of housing.

      Yes, it will create yet another new normal: people will be on the street. And this is where we need the Fed Gov to be deploying a jobs program.

      Of course, it would also bring pain to everyone’s 401Ks and methinks that’s where the real resistance is. If the Fed Reserve has to make a choice between the lower classes experiencing pain from inflation (or let’s say just missing the opportunity to have a house) vs 401Ks experiencing pain, I suspect the Fed Reserve will choose the former every time. The “wealth effect” has primacy over “price stability”, especially for the PMC class, but also for all those with pensions (at this point I’d lump everybody who has a pension into the PMC too in that they’re vested in the status quo).

      1. Eudora Welty

        One of my coping mechanisms since lockdown (still ongoing in my state) is to nosh on flavored cream cheese. I have looked at various of the bigger chains, can’t find it, (it’s a few pennies cheaper there) but I’ve found it every time I’ve looked at a local independently owned corner grocer. I have no idea what that means, but my craving is sated.

    1. InThePines

      Eh, the main source is the ATA, an industry group hellbent on increasing the labor pool. If you listen to them, there’s been a trucker shortage for 25 years, while a million+ CDL holders chose to take their talents to South Beach to do literally anything besides drive truck for peanuts. The MO of their funders is to run training programs that amount to indentured servitude- we’ll get you a CDL, now you owe us 12-18 months of your life. As for the public sector? Insurance, easy hours, and pensions (some as well-run as CALPERS) are the compelling reasons to work there, and in the summer snowplow drivers become asphalt haulers and herbicide sprayers.


    Thanks for nice column on le Carre. As a longtime devoted fan (I spent my entire adult life waiting for his next novel), I would include among his very best books one that isn’t included here: A Perfect Spy. Brilliant psychological portraits, with the usual great spy stuff and social-cultural insights. Like Spy Who Came in From the Cold, Tinker, Tailor; and Smiley’s People, there is a first-rate BBC film series of this great novel. (For Tinker, Tailor — avoid the awful recent version and enjoy the old one with the great Alec Guinness.)

    1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author

      I’m a huge fan and I’ve gobbled up all his novels, many the week of release. I endorse your recommendation of A Perfect Spy: wonderful, and not as well-known as some of the others. And the Alec Guinness version of Tinker, Tailor is superb. Every couple of years, I watch it again.

      1. dbk

        I too thank you for the link to the Jacobin piece. Offspring #1 is currently re-reading his entire oeuvre in chronological order, and I forwarded the link.

        Agree too that Guinness’ portrayal of Smiley is superb – one of the finest embodiments of a fictional character I’ve ever seen – and I re-watch both Tinker, Tailor and Smiley’s People pretty often.

        1. rowlf

          Just a note: the US release of the two video series is shorter and harder to follow than the longer original BBC series.

          1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author

            I seek out Brit versions whenever possible as a matter of course- the UK version of The Third Man, as another example. The same thing with books – Fitzroy Maclean’s superb memoir springs to mind.

            1. chuck roast

              Maclean, in the parlance of the time, “had a good war.” Eastern Approaches was indeed superb. There were two versions of the book. An English version with an extensive narration of the Partisan/Chetnik divide, and a US version with a truncated chapter on his Balkan adventures. Maclean clearly had a good deal of admiration for Tito’s resistance efforts and had little use for the proto-fascists…all written out on the US pages.

              BTW, Maclean is said to be the prototype for James Bond. After reading this book, I can believe it.

      1. Fred1

        Agreed. The chapter on his interview with the female German terrorist in the Israeli prison under the supervision of the female warden who was a German Jew who survived the camps was excellent.

    2. WobblyTelomeres

      My first encounter with him was when the editor of the school paper handed me a copy of “The Honourable Schoolboy” and said he needed a review by morning. Been a fan ever since.

  2. smashsc

    Re: Asian voters swing to Republicans in NYC. This also happened in Fairfax County, VA. While the county is still solidly Democrat, swings of a few percentage points throughout the state made the difference for Youngkin & other statewide candidates.

    Here’s a “Featured” piece from the Fairfax County Times (weekly) describing education as a driving force.

  3. Tom Stone

    Alaaka Airlines is advertising that their cabin air is refreshed every 2 minutes and that they use HEPA filters to remove 99% of contaminants, including Covid.
    I tuned in a couple of football games yesterday, stands full of screaming fans and nary a mask to be seen.

    With cases doubling every 3 days it won’t take long….

    1. The Rev Kev

      Omicron itself is in 30 States at present but after people start traveling around during the Christmas-New Year period, it is a given that it will be in all 50 States and assorted territories.

  4. upstater

    re. Is Wokeness Almost Over? American Conservative

    The SAT has not been discredited as a metric for determining the likelihood of a student succeeding academically; for that it has no equal.

    An almost entirely fact-free statement… while the SAT is a predictor at the very high and low ends of the bell shaped Normal Distribution, the vast majority of students are in the middle ranges of the test; the correlation between the test score and college GPA is a shotgun blast (no correlation). This has been true since the inception of the SAT or ACT and remain the case today.

    Even the conservatives at University of Chicago on Forbes know this:

    Standardized testing is an enormous industry that sucks money, resources and time from students, schools and parents. Almost entirely a rent-seeking program.

    Disclaimer: I almost always did poorly on all sorts of Standardized tests. My palms would sweat, I’d erroneously miss a line on the on the sheet and half my filled in bubbles corresponded to right answer for the preceding line. Then I’d frantically erase half a column of bubbles, time would be called and I was screwed. But I got an associates, BS and MS and did well as a statistician, programmer and small business owner. Kill standardized tests with fire, salt the earth where ETS, Pearson and their ilk create these monsters.

    1. Sailor Bud

      If anything, it points out the ruthlessness of the system against late bloomers.

      My god, the talent I personally know, languishing now in jawbs because they weren’t go-getters when they were young. Meanwhile, the “meritocracy” is stuffed with cronyism, credentialism, nepotism, and you-have-a-nice-bottom, so-you’re-hired-ism.

      1. Huey Long

        If anything, it points out the ruthlessness of the system against late bloomers

        I’ll never forget how angry and frustrated I felt when I was looking at colleges towards the tail end of my enlistment and learned that Princeton doesn’t take transfer students.

        They want go-getter HS kids exclusively along with legacies, athletes, and the children of donors of course.

      2. howseth

        I must have been, “you-have-a-nice-bottom, so-you’re-hired” type. Otherwise who would have hired me – for anything?
        As for college acceptance…mediocre test scores – bolstered by my, ace in the whole, a very nice bottom – paved the way to admission to a branch of the State University of New York! Or so I imagine – word got out to admissions – about my near perfect ‘800’ level bottom.
        I remember taking standardized tests – as young as 11 or 12 – and wanting to do really well – yet being bored by the type of questions on those tests, (Huh? I don’t think this way!)… thereby, I was routed to the lower functioning classes. Until, later, I scored high on a reading test – and then was routed to the school shrink.

        1. Sailor Bud

          Oh, I don’t know. Maybe you were the best person for the job? Fortunately for me, I didn’t exclude the possibility. Or maybe you were hired because the interviewer was really impressed that you told them you were a direct descendant of Bartholomew Roberts. People get hired for all sorts of reasons, some legitimate, some legitimately stupid.

          All I know is, this ain’t no meritocracy, and many of the supposed “meritorious” have done so many awful things that the word is a joke.

          Congrats on the keester.

        2. wilroncanada

          One of my employers hired using the bottoms test, or alternatively, the elbows test–hands behind the head, elbows forward, hiring dependent on what part touched the wall first.
          Unfortunately, as purchasing manager, I, on my forays into the retail division, would frequently find the retail staff either misinforming, or even dismissing customers with needs that the company could deal with, and thus profit. I would have to teach them their jobs.

    2. John Zelnicker

      My best friend in high school had such strong anxiety attacks before a standardized test that he had to go puke before he sat down to take the test.

      He earned his doctorate in organ music and had a successful career playing for some Catholic churches before he died way too young in his 50’s.

      1. newcatty

        The “scandal” of the Varsity Blues corruption was tied to the parents paying for the ring leader to have ringers take the SAT or ACT for their children. Along with the collusion of athletic departments, coaches in placing kids with no sports experience on college teams to either being admitted to school, or also for scholarships. Remember being incensed at the whole rotten scam. A soccer coach for a low income, community based team told of a player who was truly a gifted soccer player. The girl was a good student, with a fine GPA, and worked hard to get into college with an athletic scholarship. When the scandal was the big news story, the player asked her coach if the fake players, who got on a college women’s soccer roster, could be taking her spot on a team. Coach, taken aback, answered honestly. If not yours, then someone else’s. Yes. This was insulting and shameless of the celebrities and wealthy to do the grift and deprive any real athletes the best , or any, spot on a college team. Then there were the corrupt colleges themselves.

      2. lyman alpha blob

        That’s not a bad idea. I think there is a place for standardized tests, but there should be fewer of them and we should not be teaching to them.

    3. jrkrideau

      I had the same impression, well a bit more critical, of the GRE. When you have a highly homogeneous sample, it’s all random noise.

  5. Tom Stone

    Is Politico trying to compete with the “Onion”?

    Subhead: “Allow the Kamala Harris the public fell in love with to break free”.

    Okey Dokey.

    Maybe she can co host a Master Class with Hillary?

    1. Geo

      Never fell in love but for a few minutes I did admire her for calling out Biden’s racist past on TV in front of millions (even if the bussing issue wasn’t the most valid example). Would love to see that Kamala “break free” and have the VP call out the president for all his past (and present) swindles and abuses of the citizenry for the benefit of the donors.

      But, as the t-shirt selling her righteousness which was for sale within moments of her debate highlight showed, the Kamala we “fell in love with” (more accurately: the one we momentarily noticed) was a manufactured husk being sustained by hype that would wither if taken off media life-support.

      Pieces like this are last grasps of desperation by the PMC unwilling to accept their “loved” one has no signs of life and the plug should be pulled.

      1. lakecabs

        Kamala Harris needs one transformational project.

        This implies there is no current issue worthy of her effort.

        Maybe they can dream up a fake crises for her.

        Her big issue so far was Vogue taking a picture of her in tennis shoes.

        Perhaps she should get to the bottom of the Hunter Biden laptop controversy

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          28% isn’t something people come back from in a relatively innocuous office. I’m not sure why people are bothering. She had no support in a state she’s been in the news for over 10 years. It’s like the Transportation Secretary. A leprechaun isn’t going to be president.

          I guess the Karens might feel an aspirational politics vibe from her, but really, she’s a lost cause.

        2. Geo

          If only Hunter had been truant from school she’d have thrown the full force of the law at him and his deadbeat parents but otherwise she’d never have bothered. He’s the wrong color to go after for crack smoking and her hands are tied on issues of financial fraud, espionage, and insider dealings (because then there’s be no one left in DC) so she’ll just have to see if another photo op with child actors will polish her image. Maybe she can read “My Pet Goat” to some school kids. That’s one that did wonders for Bush’s image. He’s more beloved by Dems than she is.

      2. Dr. John Carpenter

        Same here, Geo. I knew enough about her to be skeptical and when the t-shirts and later “that was just the campaign” came out, it was as I expected. She didn’t mean any of it, really. She was just trying to woke her way to a win. But for that one moment, I was a bit surprised that anyone was saying anything negative about Hansy Uncle Joe.

        Of course, I also really enjoyed watching Tulsi effortlessly dismantle her “top tier” candidacy a few weeks later. Even after both these events, I wasn’t totally shocked she was selected as Joe’s VP. She seems to have some friends in the right places who really want to drag her to the top. But, no matter how many times the media tries to tell me how much everyone really loves Kamala, I have yet to see the evidence beyond those folks.

        1. Rick Taylor

          It’s incredible to me that they picked her to be VP specifically because she posed no threat to Biden’s already garbage popularity and are now shocked that nobody likes her.

          Geniuses all.

        2. drumlin woodchuckles

          I remember predicting ahead of time that she would be the VP choice. I based my prediction on this: that the FIRE sector swindle-fraud engineers noticed her going “beneath and below” the call of minimal duty to immunise and impunify Steve Mnuchin for his financial “alleged” crimes.

          The FIRE sector community wanted another Obamaform President in office for when they engineer their next even bigger and better crash, so they wanted Draculamala Harris in particular to be one aging heartbeat away from the Presidency, so that when the next crash came, she could save and protect them the way Obama had.

          And it turned out my logic was correct ( unless I got totally blind-lucky). Kamalanuchin was indeed Wall Street’s VP pick.

  6. Robert Hahl

    Re: Don’t let ‘shelved assets’ gather dust. Make them into new lifesaving drugs

    In the early ‘80s people at Merck used to say, “We have more drugs on the shelf than other companies have in the pipeline.” This statement was reassuring to Wall Street because it meant that we would not try to compete in areas with too many competitors, thereby hurting profit margins.

    In those days drug companies had three parts: a sales force, a factory, and a research lab. But that began to change after the “prudent investor” rules were modified so that pension funds could put 5% of their money into venture capital. After about five years, the R & D labs of Big Pharma were hollowed out, and I went into patent law.

  7. PlutoniumKun

    UK finally gets Asia-style bullet trains Asia Times

    Correct link.

    The article is based on a somewhat bizarre press release. The line is not the first HSR in the UK, the clue is in its name ‘HS2’. HS1 is the high speed link from London to the Channel Tunnel. And the article gives the impression that its mostly Japanese technology – its not (despite Hitachi being a partner). Its mostly French tech (Alstom), generally similar to the TGV rolling stock.

    Its ironic that this is being hyped just a few weeks after the government cut the scheme back radically. It is being hacked back systematically, so it seems likely that it will only go to Manchester at the furthest north, and possibly not even that far, only the Birmingham link is definitely being built.

    The whole project was horribly misconceived. It is hugely expensive and destructive and it would likely only provide marginal benefits over a full overhaul of the existing mainline system, which would cost less. It always amazes me that the country that invented the railway could make such a mess of managing and upgrading its wonderful network for more than a century.

      1. R

        The article is already out of date.

        BoJo has dropped the third phase, the link from Birmingham to Yorkshire and the north east beyond it. It has been dropped on grounds of cost but a rail industry consultant I know has said it because constraints in the infrastructure around Sheffield would have made the new services undeliverable alongside the existing service timetable both east-west (Liverpool and Manchester) and north-south (London-Scotland) and the knock-on investment required to solve this was not approved. Quite why this had not been foreseen….

        At the height of the protest, various other eye-catching announcements were made to distract. I forget what, something levelling up, something war on drugs (taking user passports away!), possibly he fired the media spokeswoman scapegoat. Maybe even some reactive coronavirus measures, maybe the red list? One loses track after a while….

        Ditching Phase 3 actually makes the whole thing more rational though. The line should never have been built as proposed. It was a “Y”-shape which is the worst shape in transport planning because the two arms compete for capacity on the one leg. However, it is now a straight line on the West Coast route. Whereas, it would have been far better built in a straight line from London to Scotland up the east coast, avoiding the hills of the west coast route it is following, with an east-west line crossing it to cover Liverpool-Manchester-Leeds. Even if they end up building the east-west line, you will have travelled a long way west from London to double-back on your self east to Leeds. Must have been a Lancastrian who designed it!

    1. upstater

      In the US, we’re very excited that the first section of the California HSR, between the huge megalopolises of Bakersfield to Merced will open in 2028 (maybe) and the whole LA-SF route in 2033 (maybe).

      Fresno Dan will be able to commute to a new gig in Bakersfield or Merced else in only 7 more years!

      1. fresno dan

        December 13, 2021 at 9:04 am
        Fresno Dan will be able to commute to a new gig in Bakersfield or Merced else in only 7 more years!
        Yeah, as a corpse – which is about the only way anyone could get me to go to Bakersfield.
        As Fresnonites say, Thank God for Bakersfield.

            1. Wukchumni

              Bakersfield is sitting on the outskirts of so much oil wealth that it might make Texas blush. That said nobody wants to live in Bakersfield-adjacent Maricopa, where oil derricks are a Dime a dozen on the land if not cheaper.

              Fresno in comparison has a gusher of a meth industry & Ag.

              1. Michael Fiorillo

                I know it’s not exactly Bakersfield (west side of the Central Valley, I think), but this East Coaster was weirdly impressed on a drive along Brown Material Road in the Lost Hills area. Desolate and strange…

                Forget about the United States for a moment: California alone is an empire unto itself.

  8. The Rev Kev

    “‘Does Kamala Harris Have Some Challenges Right Now? You Bet She Does.’ Here’s the Fix.”

    Politico made a fundamental error here. The only way that Harris ever became the Veep was because the fix was in. Her Presidential campaign went spinning down into a silent grave, especially after Tulsi Gabbard nailed her hide to the barn in a Presidential debate, and it was only the Hamptons that brought her back from the political graveyard. But where do you start with this Politico puff piece? If you asked 1,000 random black, women in America, how many of them would say that they think that Harris represents them? Give us a break. And yes, it is her fault. She doesn’t want to do the hard work but wants to blame her staff when she screws up. And she didn’t work to tirelessly put criminals where they belong. She criminalized parents and then laughed about it and she broke the law by refusing to release prisoners because the Californian economy needed the free labour. And ‘Her laugh is infectious’? Holy f***. That cackle of hers grates on people and it is usually when she is talking about hurting poor people or trying to hide when she screws up. So with this all in mind, there is likely only one possible outcome. The Hampstons will now decide that it is her turn to be Madam President of the United States.

    1. Nikkikat

      Lol! Rev Kev, interesting all the DC insider sites coming in to save poor little Kamala. I had to laugh at your reference to her cackle.
      I believe she does this because the woman is truly too stupid to respond otherwise. The idea that she “needs to put the work in” according to the article. Well, Kamala Harris has never put the work in. That’s how she rose to the top in California.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        I get so little audio media that I haven’t even heard her cackle. Does her cackle sound like Senator Clinton’s cackle? Is it “hillarrhoid”? Is it “Clintonesque”?

        Republican graphic artists only have to do a face-morph smoothly combining the face of Harris with the face of Clinton to push Harris’s likeability even lower.

    2. chris

      Indeed. This line made me spit out all my coffee: “ Vice President Kamala Harris is a pioneer, a political celebrity and — as a media-savvy Gen Xer — a natural successor to the oldest president ever elected.”

      Would that be the same Ms. Harris who couldn’t even get 1% during the primary season? The Kamala who laughs in response whenever she’s asked a question that requires any kind of nuanced statement? The same media savvy person who just starred in that cringe advert for space?

      Amazing to watch so many elites try so hard to make Kamala 2.0 happen.

      1. Wukchumni

        The last laugh will probably be upon the country, for we’re in an era where anything that can go wrong, will.

        That said, if Joe were to make it through his term, is not what anybody would charitably call a ‘win’.

      1. Pat

        Clintonian, if Huma Abedin’s book is to be believed. HRC Kamala can never fail, she can only be failed.

        The rabid Clinton backers really can pick them.

  9. Colorado

    I just wanted to tell everyone to be careful out there:
    My husband’s coworker and his wife and kids caught Covid about two months ago. The husband and wife were vaccinated, but not yet eligible to be boosted. The husband went on business travel to Northeast Africa last week and caught Covid again and had to quarantine there. Both times it was confirmed with testing. Recent previous infection did not protect him.

      1. RockHard

        Not the OP, but one friend’s girlfriend spent about a week in the ICU right after thanksgiving. She has early stage MS.

        I was just chatting with a friend who’s husband is infected and started having trouble breathing today. His health was already fragile, I’m expecting a trip to the ER.

  10. wsa

    For the Imperial Decline section: teachers on their knees scrabble for dollar bills to fund their classrooms: SD “Dash for Cash” (Twitter). Lots of people are referring to Squid Game, but humiliating reality TV has been an American speciality for a while.

    1. Geo

      Seriously bleak to behold. Marcel Duchamp, Andy Warhol, Genesis P Orridge, and every other avant-garde artist of spectacle and subversion never came close to capturing the brutal and dehumanizing callousness of society as much as this event did.

      Unlike its tv/movie comparisons, the lack of bloodshed and complete mundane presentation – a handful of people on the frozen ice crawling around for loose bills – made it so much more atrocious for its realism.

      Shared that piece with my mother yesterday who was a teacher most of her working life. Her response was, “This is so far out of my realm of sadness. Shameful and demoralizing.”

      Seriously, every American should be made to watch this video in its entirety and then given an hour of silence to contemplate who we are as a nation. If they come out of that hour still thinking “We’re fine. The system works” they should be put in a padded cell because they’re clearly a psychopath.

      For non Twitter readers, here’s a link:

      1. Geo

        In the article one of the teachers is quoted saying: “I think it’s really cool when the community offers an opportunity like this for things that educations a lot of times pay out of pocket for.”

        That this is considered an opportunity to be grateful for shows just how broken our society is.

      2. Anthony Stegman

        it is my view that the teachers who participated in this stunt shamed themselves. Teachers are not responsible for the entirety of the education process. if they are not provided the tools and materials they require they should simply refuse to enter the classroom. A modern society requires an educated workforce. Begging for money to pay for classroom supplies is demeaning and insulting. Just say no and stay away from the classroom. Call society’s bluff.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          If teachers refused to enter the classroom due to lack of supplies, would they get immediately fired? Is that a risk you really expect them to run? In this ” no money = you die” anti-teacheritic society?

    2. mistah charley, ph.d.

      This event would have been more respectful of the teaching profession if the scrambling had been for ten dollar bills, or even twenties.

      1. Geo

        Or if they’d dumped loose change into the ice and the teachers had to dig at the metal coins, frozen to the floor, with their bare fingers until they were bloody stumps then had to carry their haul across the rink slipping and sliding the whole way while the “sponsor” bankers drive around in Zambonis trying to run them over.

        That would have been more respectful to the teachers because it’s spectacle would have been harder to spin by the media and community leaders as heartwarming generosity by the bankers who donated the funds for the “event”.

      2. Mantid

        The article stated that a (or some) teacher wanted to buy a standing desk. My guess is that there were larger bills involved.

        As a teacher of over 20 years, this is a very sad picture. Teaching music and taking bands around, the difference in the funding for sports as opposed to music,is palpable. Buses with bathrooms and TVs – football only.

        In reality, those teachers aren’t at half court picking up dollars, they are on display licking the boots of Pentagon generals and Bezos. Licking for Dollars – 8:00 eastern time on Amazon Prime. Buy now and save!

    3. Wukchumni

      It’s a weak effort compared to Abbie Hoffman & Co., who stopped Wall*Street in it’s tracks in 1967, by fluttering Dollar bills onto the trading floor from the observation deck above, but then again the loot wasn’t to fund a classroom & keep it in the style of learning it was used to, with #2 pencils & Pee-Chee folders in order to follow the action on 3-letter-montes.

      1. Michael Fiorillo

        Not to be pedantic, but according to numerous other sources, it was Jim Fouratt (mentioned in the article, but not acknowledged as the originator) who conceived of the action; Abbie took the credit for it. Fouratt later became a prominent Downtown Manhattan nightlife impressario in the ’80’s.

        Genius idea, though, whomever came up with it.

    4. Eclair

      Don’t forget that US Tax Law allows qualified educators to deduct up to $250 of qualified expenses, such as classroom supplies (paper, crayons, thumb tacks, etc.) certification courses, etc., from their taxable income. Such largesse!

      1. newcatty

        When it comes to the degradation of public schools and educators, just can not be cynical enough. Nod to Saint Tomlin.

      2. chris

        Their parents are right now. Back during the before times, we’d be given lists of stuff to buy for the class every month, in addition to classroom supplies we had to buy at the beginning of the year. Things like paper, pencils, markers, facial tissue, erasers. We haven’t seen any of these lists lately because we’re not allowed to bring materials into the classroom from our house for other kids to use. But as soon as that changes I expect to see the requests start back up.

  11. The Rev Kev

    “Vladimir Putin says he drove a taxi after fall of Soviet Union ”

    Times were really bad in Russia during this period. Putin also said that he was also forced to go to bed with a shotgun each night as it was so dangerous. He said recently that when he got into power, one of the first thing that he did was to get rid of all the Americans that were stationed throughout the government. He talked about how you would see one of them at their desk giving orders while they had an American flag planted on their desk. To his credit, he did try negotiations with Washington but gave up after a few years, especially when it sunk in that the US was agreement-incapable and would never follow a treaty unless they were forced to by circumstances. The pity is that it would not have been hard to make an accommodation with Russia and its vital security needs but instead, the attitude in Washington seems to be that winner takes all and that Washington has to win everywhere.

    1. Bill Smith

      While Russia was a mess after the Soviet Union dissolved, Putin sleeping with a shotgun was partly due to his shaking people down in St. Petersburg when he was one of the people responsible for the promoting foreign investments and registering business ventures.

      One of the things he was accused of was helping with the paperwork to ship Russian oil bought at government set prices out of the country where it could be sold at market prices.

    2. Geo

      “the attitude in Washington seems to be that winner takes all and that Washington has to win everywhere.”

      Well said. I often ponder if there is any hope for us or if our slowly evolving primate brains still intent on hoarding and tribalism will keep us from ever allowing a beneficial society to emerge.

      There’s that old saying: A million monkeys at a million typewriters for a million years could write Shakespeare. I feel like this is our modern history of civilization and we’ve had a few monkeys over time that noticed we were onto something profound and tried to tell us. And some of us have tried to follow along and help work toward those aspirations but there’s just too many monkeys who continue using the typewriters as blunt objects to bang on and throw at other monkeys. And we give those monkeys roles of power and authority because were dumb monkeys who see them as “strong” and don’t realize those brute skills are only helpful in the wild and not in a civilization.

      Simply put: I often wonder if this blip in history where us “lucky” few who have been able to live during the intersection of tech, politics, and circumstances that allowed for relative prosperity and peace (by historical standards) are an anomaly (that glimpse at Shakespeare) and we are merely meant to be poo-flinging primates incapable of civilized living.

      You’d think America would have been able to do it. We had it all set out before us. The power, wealth, tech, intellect, etc but we chose war and hoarding over uplifting and enlightening.

    3. Lee

      In the early 90s we hosted a Russian foreign exchange student. She was one of two daughters. Her parents were highly educated and professionally accomplished. The father, who was in the process of drinking himself to death at the time, had worked in IT and finance. The mother had been an industrial chemist specializing in glass manufacturing. Having lost their jobs, they couldn’t put enough food on the table to feed both daughters so arrangements were made for us to sponsor the guest daughter becoming a permanent resident here in the U.S., a process fraught with bureacratic obstacles that took years, as I have come to believe it should do.

    4. A screaming comes across the sky

      He’s told this fib before except in was ’96 after Sobchak lost, and it was “almost drove a cab”. He uses a particular car as a totem of middle-class-ness to gloss over the KGB never really relinquishing control. Putin never hanging up his makarov as part of a class who attempted to overthrow Gorbachev. — Americans in the CIS or Federation giving orders? Please. — Nothing is supposed to be taken seriously because Russian public opinion is not supposed to be taken seriously by the powerful. Potempkin government.

      The Cheka does what it does. Which is why Putin is on “transmit” 24/7 now. The Cheka was not supposed to have their faces rubbed in the extent to which the Presidential second service has padded Putin’s eagle nest re: Navalny’s reveal. Revanchism appeals to rank and file.

    5. drumlin woodchuckles

      That was not President Elder Bush’s attitude. That was strictly Bill Clinton’s attitude, and the attitude of Bill Clinton’s new Washington.

      The looting and democide of Russia was strictly a Clinton Administration initiative in particular, not a “Washington” initiative in general.

  12. diptherio

    Ames and Dolan have unlocked a recent episode about the Russia/Ukraine situation, now free to all:

    Hysteria about an imminent Russia-Ukraine war—almost entirely manufactured from the bowels of certain DC/London thinktanks—has only worsened since we recorded this excellent, wide-ranging discussion with Riga-based journalist Leonid Ragozin. We’re reposting this episode unlocked & free, as an antidote to counteract all the corrupt & sleazy blather that passes for Russia expertise.

    1. Polar Socialist

      It should be noted that while Ragozin is self-proclaimed ‘Navalnyist’, Ukrainians consider him ‘Putinist’ because he’s also critical of Ukraine. It is worthwhile to point out that when it comes to Russia-Ukraine relations, Putin is one of the moderates in Russia.

      Also, Ragozin is probably more of an activist than journalist, but those two can be overlapping.

    2. c_heale

      Agreed. Upgrading the railways in the North of England (this was cancelled at the same time they cut back on the HS2 lines) and electrifying the whole network would have been cheaper and more useful.

    1. Michael Ismoe

      Because fuel prices that used to be $1.99 a gallon two years ago are now twice that? It’s hard to cover a 100% fuel cost increase with a 6.7% rate hike.

      Don’t worry. I’m sure all those “initial claims” will be voting straight Democratic next year because (Trump).

  13. LawnDart


    Continue to be engrossed by these endless events where celebrities and other rich people prance around indoors without masks, while all the workers and staff have their face covered.

    It’s the faceless poors!

    The masks are for the unwashed, the unrefined, the unclean– in this context, they are muzzles for dogs.

    The elite’s contempt for commoners is on full display in these photographs– if you are not one of them, an elite, then you are something icky and gross, if not merely “the help.”

    For pleasure and inspiration, a song for our times:

    1. Michael Ismoe

      The yellow star of the Deplorables.

      Besides, if we catch Covid from Leonardo DiCaprio we could end up on Ellen!

        1. newcatty

          A nod to “The Help” movie. Maybe one of the help could start “serving ” a version of a s**t infused organic, double chocolate cake to the prancers and vixins. Their grins would be hidden by their masks. Creative versions could abound for bakers. Vanilla cakes could be infused with pale yellow liquor. Uh, sorry for momentary icky musings.

    2. skippy

      First thought was celebs are eyeball brand commodities and face masks destroy the visual branding, so with all the money and need to keep market share – endless need to have face in media like a strobe light in peoples minds – part of the job means going mask less. Not that many have visions of grandeur or if fall sick can access[tm] the best medical treatment on offer e.g. if Trump can do it so can I … payday …

    3. airgap

      Wife went to CostCo and then to Wallys this morning. Her observation; 50% masked at CostCo, 90% at Wallys. She is always masked and makes faces beneath her mask at the unmasked. Small victories are important.

    4. Michael Fiorillo

      Just re-read Poe’s “Masque of the Red Death” if you want to be reminded how this kind of thing plays out…

  14. Tom Stone

    Considering how quickly Omicron is spreading and the lack of any policy to contain it we’ll be looking at the collapse of the Health Care System by early February here in the USA.
    And health care isn’t the only system that’s on the verge of collapse.
    Real Estate here in the Wine Country looks like it has turned the corner, like all markets it is driven by expectations, emotion.
    With VAXX, VAXX,VAXX becoming an obvious failure ( No deliveries of “Jeri’s Gelato” because the reefer trucks are full of bodies) the ascension of Kamala seems likelier by the day.
    Someone has to hold the bag, especially when it resembles a leaky colostomy bag…
    who better than Kamala?

    1. lordkoos

      I’m not sure of the current status of wineries here in WA state as far as climate, however I do know that French and California winemakers bought land here several years ago when global warming was seen to be real.

      1. Wukchumni

        The fervent hope in Lodi is that the quality of wine grapes doesn’t fall low enough to not be worthy of Two Buck Chuck. (now $2.99)

        1. lyman alpha blob

          Why not rebrand the smoke flavored wine as a kind of American retsina*? Innovation!

          *for those not familiar, retsina is a pine resin flavored wine that is still drunk in Greece even though the pine resin is no longer necessary. The ancients used the resin to line wine-filled amphorae so the wine wouldn’t be absorbed into the clay containers. A lot of people find it pretty unpalatable.

  15. Telee

    The Biden administration’s claim that oil and gas leasing is required by the courts is deemed false by the Justice Department. So there is no justification for leasing 80 million acres of the Gulf of Mexico for oil and gas exploration which is expected to produce for many decades other than his subservience to the fossil fuel industry. This in spite of Biden’s campaign promises to the contrary and his false commitment to combat climate change. He is definitely outdoing Trump on this issue, the planet be damned.

    1. jefemt

      Grifters gotta grift. Old Habits Die Hard.

      But, out and about yesterday afternoon, none of us seem to be demanding a less oil and fossil fueled lifestyle- myself included… hunnert bucks for 25 gallons of winter-grade # 2 Diesel…$3.76 in
      Bozeangeles del California Norte

      I feel like we are getting back to the $140/ bbl fuel price and oil has been in the $70 bbl range for a while

      1. Joe Renter

        In my hood (West and south of Bay area) Diesel is $4.99 and $5.25 for octane 87.
        I parked the truck and take my pedal power two-wheeler to work. Good times

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        You may not be demanding it, but if gas can go up to $10.00 a gallon, you will accept it. Maybe bitterly, maybe grudgingly, but as 10 bucks a gallon, you will accept it.

    2. Anthony Stegman

      In California the “green” governor Gavin Newsom has issued large numbers of fracking permits even as the state plans to ban the sale of internal combustion motor vehicles by 2035. Democrats are as pro-fossil fuels as are Republicans. Their donors are one in the same.

  16. COfromNJ

    Re: Colorado Governor…….

    I knocked on doors for Jared Polis and now find it incredibly sad (and infuriating) that a rich guy who doesn’t need a job picked his perceived political future over citizens’ health. My county has a mask mandate and he just undermined it.

    1. Michael Ismoe

      I find it appalling that you would accuse any governor of willingly sacrificing his constituents’ health and safety for mere political advantage. Tell him it’s just not true, Governor Abbott. Tell him.

      1. Bart Hansen

        Does anyone know the story of Abbott? Hit by a falling tree and recipient of a lot of money as settlement.

        Did a neighbor just happen to cut the tree down as bozo head was jogging by?

    2. RockHard

      I still haven’t forgiven Polis for some of his early political stunts like Amendment 41, but I personally see where he’s coming from. At this point, if you’re not vaccinated, it’s on you. The state has spent how much money running free mass testing sites and vaccination clinics? What are he going to do? It’s not like this thing respects the fact that you’re eating dinner or out having beers. Polis is a rich guy who doesn’t need a job? There’s a big divide between the people in South Park Hill and the people in North Park Hill with respect to vaccination and masking. Then you got the Central Park crowd who all have their “Science is Real” signs and think that their vaccine is going to protect them and they’ve got their cleaning people back, kids are off at school, life is good. I know WAY more people who’ve caught COVID this fall than last fall, probably because last fall people weren’t going out the way they are now. Cold temps came, the patios closed, but people are still dining out and going out to the bars.

      Let’s look outside the Denver/Boulder corridor: the entire western half of the state thinks that Lauren Boebert is the answer. Weld County is behind Ken Buck. Douglas County quit the Tri-County health system over mask mandates and the parents show up in force at the school board meetings to protest masks. El Paso County has a few dozen liberals, bless their little hearts. Aurora Democrats decided to run 6 candidates for mayor so we get Mike Coffman, but maybe that’s not an aberration, last month the conservatives (loudly anti-mask mandate) took both at-large council seats. I get to work from home, thank god, the traffic is as bad as ever. Forget going to the airport, it seems that on any given day, half the state is going in or out of DIA, judging by the two miles of cars lined up for the terminal.

      What exactly do you want Polis to do?

      NY Post is good for funny headlines. The actual news source linked in NYPost skips the flood of ads in your face. Plus he talks about a lot more than COVID, though there is this gem:

      I’ve heard it a number of times so it’s important to make that clear. It’s the Greek letter, Delta, not the town of Delta in Colorado or Delta County.

      1. COfromNJ

        What would I want Polis to do?

        Anything that would encourage people to get vaxed: ” Hey everyone, you are probably sick of hearing me beg you to get vaxed. What I’m telling you now is that we’re at the point where hospitals are maxed out. If you show up, there’s a good chance we can’t help you. Even if you don’t have covid. You may choose to not believe me which is your choice. But there is nothing wrong with being prepared for “what if he’s right”.
        I was in Park County early on and the message was the same: hey everyone, take precautions. We don’t have enough EMS responders to come get you if you get sick.

        I would ditch the snark.

    3. Pat

      I cannot speak on his motives, but he does appear to have drunk “the vaccines and only the vaccines are the solution” koolaid. His position is right up there with those demanding that the unvaccinated not be treated because it is their own fault.

      I will note that essentially admitting that 16% in the hospital were vaccinated but they are old or have other issues so who cares is openly psychotic.

    4. Neckmann

      I find myself in complete agreement with Governor Polis. You can lead a horse (freedum folks) to water, but you cannot force them to drink (vaccine and masks). Any other action on his part just infuriates the right.

  17. juno mas

    RE: Innovative technology of the Inca

    So. If the Conquistadores encountered an Inca nation of 12 million, that extended throughout much of South America; how did it come to be called the New World? New to whom?

    This fiction is particularly pervasive in the accounting of US History in early schooling. The north american new world is estimated to have had up to 20 million natives, pre-Anglo. Cahokia (native american “enclave” on the Mississippi near St. Louis) was estimated to have a larger population than London, England at the same point in time.

    If you don’t believe it, read “One Vast Winter Count” by Colin G. Calloway.

    1. Michaelmas

      The north american new world is estimated to have had up to 20 million natives, pre-Anglo.

      Estimates are all over the place on that, last I looked. It could be more than 20 million, too.

      But yes — biggest inadvertent bioweapons attack in history.

  18. Ranger Rick

    So much for US subsidizing Taiwanese semiconductor manufacturing. Thirty years on and they finally realize their neighbor is a bigger market than most other countries combined.

  19. allan

    Startup Pitched Tasing Migrants From Drones, Video Reveals [Intercept]

    Brinc, a rising star among the many companies jockeying to sell drones to police, has a compelling founding mythology: In the wake of the 2017 Las Vegas mass shooting, its young founder decided to aid law enforcement agencies through the use of nonviolent robots. A company promotional video obtained by The Intercept, however, reveals a different vision: Selling stun gun-armed drones to attack migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. …

    The company’s ascendant founder and CEO, Blake Resnick, recently appeared on Fox Business News to celebrate a venture capital coup: $25 million from Silicon Valley A-listers like Sam Altman, ex-LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner’s Next Play Ventures, and former acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan. The 21-year-old Resnick, a Thiel fellow and a new inductee to the prestigious Forbes “30 Under 30” list in the category of social impact, …

    Elizabeth Holmes was also a Forbes “30 Under 30”.
    Think of this as Theranos with flying stun guns,
    and legal liability shielded by laundering the qualified immunity of the LEO who use the drones.

    1. Bill Smith

      “further NATO expansion east”

      I am wondering if it includes Sweden? Finland? If so, what do the Swedes or the Finns think of the Russians saying they can’t join? And what does this mean for the EU, given both Sweden and Finland are members? The EU is in the process of standing up it’s own (small) military.

      Also given that Sweden and Finland drill with NATO troops at home and abroad is that okay with the Russians? Does that need to stop?

      1. lyman alpha blob

        The US quite clearly broke their promise here. If Russia were building dozens of military bases in Mexico and Canada and the Caribbean, I think the US would take issue, exactly as they did in the past when it was just Cuba involved.

        It is patently obvious that the US is the aggressor at this point in time. NATO is an anachronism that should be relegated to the dustbin of history.

        1. Bill Smith

          Yes, the US broke its promise. Alas, lots of Eastern European counties couldn’t wait to get into NATO. I guess because they just lived through 40 years of treatment under the Soviet Union?

          Does this mean the EU, which includes more than the NATO countries can’t go forward with it’s own military?

          Austria, Cyprus, Finland, Ireland, Malta, and Sweden are EU but not NATO members.

          Why are they trying to create their own armed force? Might it because they don’t trust the Russians? Or the US to come to their aid?

          1. The Rev Kev

            I think that they want to create their own armed fores because NATO is no longer a defensive organization against Russia but what has been described as the military wing of the west. Think of all those soldiers from NATO countries that were stationed in Afghanistan fighting for what exactly? It had nothing to do with defending Europe but after the first year everything to do with pushing forward the empire’s geopolitical aims on the other side of the planet.

            These days, if you join the EU, it is an automatic pathway for membership in NATO. We in Oz have a ‘Individual Partnership and Cooperation Program’ with NATO and we are in the Pacific last time I looked. So the NA in NATO is no longer referring to the North Atlantic but should be changed to WA as in Western Aligned. NATO has become an end in itself and is being reconfigured to enforcing the edicts of the ‘west’ and in fact we are seeing more and more NATO forces in the Pacific to be used against China.

          2. Kouros

            Nope, it was the condition to join EU. First join NATO in order to then join EU. At least this is what I remember being sold, at least in Romania.

          3. drumlin woodchuckles

            It was Clinton who broke Elder Bush’s promise.

            Perhaps we should give Clinton pride of place with Woodrow Wilson as America’s “other most evil” twentieth century president.

      2. Kouros

        Read the Ministry’s statement. It particularly mentions Ukraine and Georgia, while mentioning the positioning of weapons close to Russia’s border. All in contravention to the overall strategic security agreements involving OSCE signed in 1999.

  20. MG

    Estonia is threatening Russia? Say what? Estonians are often embittered if not outright hostile to Russians especially if they are elderly. With good reason too.

    Soviets invaded Estonia in 1918-1920 and again in 1941 & reoccupied their country in 1944 until 1991. During the WW2 occupation, the Soviets managed to liquidate/exterminate more than 30% of the native Estonian population, and then after WW2 repopulated the country with a sizable number of Russians to make it more friendly to Soviet interests.

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