Links 12/20/2021

The world’s first octopus farm – should it go ahead? BBC (Furzy Mouse).

New York has a huge rat problem. These vigilantes with dogs think they can fix it Guardian

SEC gives JPMorgan Chase record fine for using WhatsApp to conduct business UPI. “To get around federal record-keeping laws.”

A Sunny Place for a Shady Online Business Bloomberg

Global investors profited from U.S. rental homes, foreclosure crisis WaPo


A ‘Green’ Energy Project Leaves A Mississippi Town Gasping For Air HuffPo


Analysis of the initial lot of the CDC 2019-Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) real-time RT-PCR diagnostic panel PLOS One. From the Abstract: “We conclude that flaws in both assay design and handling of the “bulk” material, caused the problems with the first lot of the 2019-nCoV Real-Time RT-PCR Diagnostic Panel…. We discuss these findings in the context of improvements to quality control, quality assurance, and assay validation practices that have since been improved at the CDC.” This is CDC’s self-evaluation of its test kit debacle (see Gottlieb at NC here). Naturally, no individuals are named, and no org chart described. Why there have been no hearings — or litigation — for this sorry episode escapes me, unless it be that professionals have impunity. In the vulgate: “Early CDC COVID Tests Were Not Only Contaminated, But Flawed: Report” US News.

* * *

Efficient mucosal antibody response to SARS-CoV-2 vaccination is induced in previously infected individuals (preprint) (PDF) medRxiv. n = 30. From the Abstract:

Our data indicate that vaccinated seropositive individuals were able to swiftly induce relatively high anti-spike SIgA responses by boosting pre existing mucosal immunity. In contrast, seronegative individuals did not have pre-existing anti SARS-CoV-2 or cross-reacting anti-HCoV SIgA antibodies prior to vaccination, and, thus, little or no anti-SARS-CoV-2 SIgA antibodies were induced by vaccination in these individuals.

SigA = Secretory IgA. IgA = immunoglobulin A*. And the Discussion:

[V]accination strategies, such as intranasal vaccines like NDV-HXP-S [see here], that could successfully induce SIgA should be sought for the control of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic21–23 201 . Further studies are needed to reveal the detailed mechanism of mucosal antibody induction by mRNA vaccination, to determine SIgA titers that would provide sterilizing immunity, and to evaluate the SIgA antiviral function in comparison to monomeric IgA.

* This from “BiteSized Immunology” by the British Society for Immunology.

* * *

Breakthrough Infections with SARS-CoV-2 Omicron Variant Despite Booster Dose of mRNA Vaccine SSRN. n = 7. German visitors to Capetown, SA. From the Abstract: “This series proves that even three doses of mRNA vaccines may not be sufficient to prevent infection and symptomatic disease with the Omicron variant.”

Warren and Booker announce breakthrough COVID-19 cases The HIll. Both triple-vaccinated.

* * *

Fauci warns ‘raging’ Omicron will strain US hospitals FT. Commentary:

See, all you have to do is turn Fauci 270°. Given that Vax Vax Vax fails at the population level, adopt the layered defense “Swiss Cheese” model (180°), making Non-Pharmaceutical Intervention not an extra, but a necessity (an additional 90° twist).

Back to square one?

Most of the World’s Vaccines Likely Won’t Prevent Infection From Omicron NYT

Life in South Africa Amid the Omicron Surge Is a Glimpse of America’s Future The New Republic

Still Not Sure Edition: Open Thread 12/19 Zeynep Tufecki, Insight


Why China holds the advantage over America even amid deglobalisation South China Morning Post

Is þe “Wilhelmine China” Analogy Useful, or Useless? Brad Delong’s Grasping Reality

Drones Take Center Stage in U.S.-China War on Data Harvesting Bloomberg

China population: without adequate pensions, more elderly say goodbye to their golden years South China Morning Post


Tortured to death: Myanmar mass killings revealed BBC

Normally, I avoid NGOs, and HRW is the NGO’s NGO. In this case, however, HRW is correct:

My concern is that “the international community” will focus on restoring Aung San Suu Kyi, when reality on the ground has moved far beyond her.

The Koreas

Yonhap Receives “Death Penalty” from Major Portal Sites The Blue Roof. “The wire service was penalized after publishing thousands of ads masquerading as news articles.”


UK Brexit chief resigns over ‘direction’ of Boris Johnson’s government Politico. David Frost, replaced by LIz Truss. Commentary:

Covid-19: No 10 says garden photo shows work meeting BBC. Were minutes taken?

Nicola Sturgeon’s Motivation Craig Murray


Two Former CIA Directors Call on Biden to Threaten Iran Militarily The Intercept

Veterans and bi-partisan group of lawmakers look forward to Afghan war commission MIlitary Times

New Cold War

Russia’s ultimatum to the West The Saker. Well worth a read.

The Caribbean

Frederick Douglass and American Empire in Haiti Boston Review

Leftist millennial wins election as Chile’s next president AP. By ten points. Not even close. Meanwhile, sending a message?

Biden Administration

Biden Climate Agenda Now Hinges on Rules Exposed to Rewrite Bloomberg

Biden’s Infrastructure Czar Comes With Friendly Record On Fossil Fuels The Intercept

Chicken Price-Fixing Case Ends in Mistrial After Seven Weeks Bloomberg. The deck: “Jurors unable to reach verdict against 10 industry executives.”

Goldman Slashes US Growth Outlook On Manchin Bombshell The Heisenberg Report

Democrats en Deshabille

Manchin says he ‘cannot vote’ for Democrats’ $2 trillion spending package, drawing sharp White House rebuke WaPo. Manchin’s statement:

“Rebuke” is a strong word in the Beltway. Here is Psaki:

And AOC:

How months of talks between Biden and Manchin over Build Back Better broke down CNN

Supply Chain

The World’s Most Profitable Traffic Jam Matt Stoller, BIG

Supply chains: companies shift from ‘just in time’ to ‘just in case’ FT

Liners hammer home their advantage, seeking hugely inflated long-term contacts Splash 247

Lawmakers propose bipartisan committee on supply chain issues ABC

Capitol Seizure

Rep. Adam Kinzinger says Jan. 6 committee will determine if Trump committed a crime USA Today. That’s a legislative function? Really?


Charging Julian Assange with espionage is a greater threat to democracy than Jan. 6 The Week

Imperial Collapse Watch

More actors shot into space than Space Force personnel: Report Duffel Blog

Class Warfare

“Did Emmett Till Die in Vain? Organized Labor Says No!”: The United Packinghouse Workers and Civil Rights Unionism in the Mid-1950s Labor Studies in Working Class History

The Economics of Repulsion Notes from Disgraceland (Re Silc). “[C]ognitive capitalism, where information is the main commodity… becomes a zero-sum game. For a brain already overloaded with information to pay attention to something new, it has to neglect something else.”

The Coin Standard Lapham’s Quarterly

In Defense of Hunting In These Times

Antidote du jour (via):

Bonus antidote:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


    1. HotFlash

      If I were a pilot, (which I am totally not), I would want not to fly in any of those planes. Where do they get the pilots who do? Just wonderin’ …

  1. PlutoniumKun

    Re: Bonus antidote

    Beautiful photograph. Calling them ‘Sika deer’ is confusing to Japanese people because sika simply means ‘deer’ in Japanese – I believe they call them ‘nihonjika’ in Japan (i.e. Japanese deer). Incidentally, the Chinese name for them means ‘plum blossom deer’, so perhaps they have a fondness for tree blossoms.

    They are a pest here in Ireland. After the native red deer were more or less eliminated, rich landowners wanted pretty deer for their estates, so in the late 18th century they brought in pretty Japanese deer to decorate their estates – no doubt putting up fences to keep them out of their pretty new Japanese gardens (also super fashionable at the time). In the absence of predators (also eliminated by the 18th Century), they are all over the local hills and mountains, but it is still lovely to see a small herd run around the uplands, although they prefer woodlands at night. Its a creepy experience to mountain bike at night in Irish forests, you often suddenly find a dozen or so sets of glowing eyes staring back at you, caught in the bikes frontlights.

    1. griffen

      Interesting, my initial assumption was whither to how deer can be a pest. However I do not garden or deem to raise anything from the ground. But much like kudzu in the American South, once invited now means invasive. Kudzu covers pretty much whatever, not just ground cover.

      With the deer, however – could they become an alternate food source? I know some enterprising chefs in central TX / Austin have done so, aka, invasive species.

      1. Stephen V.

        Definitely an alternate food source in the Ozarks. But this “pest” was created by our elimination of wolves, cougars etc. If I don’t keep my entire veg & flower garden fenced / netted…it’s a food forest for them–and we live one block off busiest street in town!

        1. Carla

          Yes, my urban house-lot is a luxury salad bar for the deer. They are not afraid of people at all, and when confronted just a few feet from my back door, they simply stare at me with an expression clearly conveying: who the heck are you? I live here and would appreciate your shoving off.

          They do not seem aggressive at all, but I wouldn’t get between and doe and her young ‘uns. And of course the males sporting their full racks of horns do not invite closer inspection.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            I was walking to the store one night a day walked by a doe and two fawns. The doe and one fawn made a respectable show of walking back a few feet, but the other fawn stomped and made an aggressive posture. The cuteness was almost unbearable.

      2. PlutoniumKun

        They have no natural predators here, apart from the fawns. They’ve been talking for years about re-introducing the lynx to Ireland, but trying to get farmers and shepherds to agree is… well, difficult.

        They are sometimes hunted for sport and food, but Ireland has very strong regulations on guns and hunting in general – hunting is not popular with farmers as they don’t like seeing people with guns near their sheep or cows. Its mostly forestry companies that invest in keeping them under control.

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          deer pests right up in yer yard really calls out for bow hunting…just don’t shoot the neighbors and no one will know.
          when we lived in town, i was forever chasing the stray/loose dogs away from my chickens…and the bow came in real handy:usually with blunt tips, until a few started killing my birds, when i responded in kind… deputy tried to fine me for “discharge of firearm in city limits’, but the ordinance doesn’t contemplate stringed, non-fire ,arms.
          (caveat: i can be something of a hill person/wild man, and do not belong in town)

          and, my perennial advice for city gardeners: tiger shit from the zoo will dern tootin keep the deer away.
          don’t know if that’s still an option…along with various weird manure from traveling circusii(elephant dung makes excellent tomatoes)

      3. Watt4Bob

        In the USA deer have, as their close companions, deer ticks which harbor Lyme disease.

        My neighbor lady feeds corn to the local deer, and my yard is the path through which they find her feast, and where they leave their droppings and I’m sure, deer ticks.

        We have to be very careful to inspect our dogs when they come in.

        Lyme disease is no joke.

        1. Duke De Guise

          Not to give a pass to deer – “rats with hooves and good PR” – but my understanding is that squirrels are the primary vector for deer ticks, at least in this hotspot of Dutchess County, NY, which has a surfeit of both.

          Whichever, Lyme disease is no joke, and both species are a bit of a plague at this point.

          1. ArtDog_CT

            You are correct that the main host of the beastie called a ‘deer tick’ is within small rodent populations – mice, voles, chipmunks, squirrels. Ixodes scapularis received the common name of deer tick by virtue of being first identified from specimens collected from deer. One can manage to exclude deer from a property and still have a robust population of other hosts, and thus be able to be exposed to Lyme Disease at any time that weather allows for mammal and tick activity.

            In 1987-1990 I worked on a property in Mount Kisco that suffered from both white tail deer damage and a robust I. scapularis population. The best “least toxic” tick control I could find at the time used cardboard tubes stuffed with pyrethrin-treated cotton. The tubes are placed on the ground in prime rodent habitat. Mice and voles will take the treated cotton for nesting material, which leads to significant reductions in ticks within the treated area. I can’t dredge up the brand name from what passes as my memory these days, but it and similar products are still on the market.

            1. TBone

              Thank you for your comment containing correct, and very important, information. Lyme Disease stole decades of my life, it is no joke.

    2. David

      I first went to Nara about forty years ago, and one of my clearest memories is being told by the guide to be very careful about taking out money to buy souvenirs or snacks in the park. Over the years, the deer had developed a taste for paper money, and it was quite common for tourists to suddenly find themselves with only half of a ten thousand yen note.

    3. Cocomaan

      Sika deer also inhabit the eastern shore of Maryland where they are also invasive.

      They’re supposedly all descended from a handful of deer released by a rich landowner in the same manner.

      I’ve hunted them a few times and found them to be incredibly wily. Mostly nocturnal and paranoid. During the rut they bugle like an elk, the coolest sound in the world as it echoes through swamps. As loud as they seem during bugling they are exceedingly small, the males about as big as a white tail doe.

      Fascinating critters and story.

  2. I

    Making a defense system that works hasn’t mattered in decades. It’s all welfare for the wealthy now.

    The empire rots from within.

    1. The Rev Kev

      ‘A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself within’

      – Will Durant

  3. Samuel Conner

    my apologies if this is already linked,

    Don’t have time to read into the text, but the headline suggests that even the head of the US NIH, and a renowned geneticist, did not foresee the possibility that the CV could evolve to improve its fitness for transmission in human populations.


    We can’t win wars. We can’t protect public health. We can’t repair infrastructure.

    Failed state?

    Or maybe it’s succeeding, from the point of view of the people in power.

    1. chris

      This was discussed somewhat yesterday, and I imagine it will be discussed a lot in the days to come as the bill comes due for why we’re as screwed as we are in the US.

      Barring everything we’ve discussed on NC, and all the science that’s been done in the last two years focusing on changes in the proteins and the mutations that precede them… are we honestly being told by our leaders that they did not think a virus which evolved from an earlier virus would change again? It’s called Sars-Cov-2 for christsake! That’s not because it was discovered by a professor 2. That’s not because it came from the land of 2. It’s because the stinking thing shares a lineage with SARS-COV-1 but has evolved several changes to spread more rapidly!

      How many PhDs do you need to ask what if and then make a plan in case your what if comes true?

      1. WobblyTelomeres

        >How many PhDs do you need to ask
        >what if and then make a plan in case
        >your what if comes true?

        *cracks knuckles*


      2. GramSci

        How many PhDs do you need to ask what if and then make a plan in case your what if comes true?

        It depends on how much you pay them. (Recall that Dr. Fauxi is reportedly the highest-paid US government PhD.)

        So 1.

          1. Terry Flynn

            Always important to know the differences between a “doctorate”. In the USA a physician is “MD”. In the UK “MD” is a VERY specific ADDITIONAL qualification that a qualified physician gets by (typically) two years of research and practice done when attached to a university but does NOT crucially have to be a “totally original contribution to knowledge”.

            A PhD in both countries requires an ORIGINAL contribution to knowledge. Hence why the “real” doctorate is the PhD. Thus why the “are you a REAL doctor?” should only be answered “yes” if you have a PhD. Historically this is true. It also ties into why surgeons are “Mister or Miss/Mrs/Ms”.

            Dictating for medical doctors is a minefield. It’s even funnier because most don’t know I have a PhD and once held the professorial rank equal to their boss. I don’t tell them. I’m just enjoying a better work life balance.

            1. Terry Flynn

              PS just to clarify I’m not dissing medical doctors. I shared offices for years with consultants doing MDs. They were generally addressing a problem NC has drawn attention to (though most often in psychology it is present in “hard” medicine just as much) – namely reproducibility.

              These medical doctors had healthy scepticism about certain trials. Their MD intended to repeat the study. I admired them for forgoing cash to prove or disprove a point. Kudos.

              Medical docs who take time out to really deep dive into data get my respect. They tend to make very good “patient focused” docs. Evidence based medicine is the beginning of wisdom not the end. 10 points for whoever gets the sci fi reference….. I’m bettng it’s RevKev.

      3. KLG

        Francis Collins has an MD before the PhD. The first postnomial often, but not always, negates the latter ;-) We old timers also remember that Craig Venter ate Francis Collins’s breakfast, lunch, supper, and dessert, and drank all the cognac on the human genome sequence front, 20 years ago.

        1. juno mas

          What does the pediatrician say to the kid that exclaims that his Dad, PhD, is a “Doctor of Books”?

          “Well, when my books get sick I’ll send them to him!”

  4. The Rev Kev

    “SEC gives JPMorgan Chase record fine for using WhatsApp to conduct business”

    Well I can see JPMorgan’s problem right there. What they should have done was to listen to the Pros and run an unsecured rickety old server out of an old bathroom closet in a downtown Denver loft instead. To this day nobody really knows what was on that server.

    1. griffen

      Surely there is more to this story and what they uncovered. The cynic in me just thinks, well that only happened once at the single institution! Surely JPMorgan was the sole bad party doing what they done.

      Move along nothing to see here. I’m interested in how Gensler/SEC is progressing on the crypto and bitcoin markets.

      1. The Rev Kev

        ‘Surely JPMorgan was the sole bad party doing what they done.’

        The term used in such cases is that they were a ‘bad apple.’

  5. allan

    Workers at local animal hospital pursue a union [WXXI]

    … roughly 128 of their co-workers have become increasingly frustrated with their working conditions since the hospital was sold this year. That’s why they started thinking about joining a union. For one thing, they say they want to earn a living wage. …

    Earlier this year, Monroe Veterinary Associates, which has 15 practices in the Rochester area, including VSES, was acquired by Pathway Vet Alliance.

    The Texas company has over 400 veterinary clinics nationwide. The company recently rebranded itself as Thrive Pet Healthcare. Its major stakeholder is TSG Consumer Partners, a private equity firm. …

    said the change in ownership of their hospital has led to cuts in employee health care benefits and part-time workers no longer receiving discounts on emergency and specialty services for their own pets, a perk they said was previously available to all employees.

    Employees said work-life balance has suffered because the company is inflexible with requests for work schedule changes. …

    What does TSG look for in choosing their next victim partner company?


    We look for category leaders who are breaking new ground by disrupting untapped markets or creating entirely new products and services that address consumer needs in new ways. …

    Growth Potential

    We look for companies with established and increasing revenue, and the capacity to accelerate that revenue with the right resources.

    Needless to say, if you’re trying to `accelerate that revenue’, worker solidarity is a speed bump, and
    TSG has already hired a union-busting law firm to deal with the situation at Monroe Veterinary.

    One of the specialist medical practices I have used for years just sold out to a large chain
    owned by a PE firm (not TSG) with a health care portfolio. It will be `interesting’ to see how that works out.

  6. Eloined

    Heard an interview (on NBA Radio!) with former US Surgeon General Jerome Adams this weekend in which he anticipated that the likeliest steady state COVID policy would consist of “the three shots” plus annual boosters targeting new variants. It all sounds quite tidy, requiring minimal walkback by public health officials and ongoing obeisance / accountability or whatever for the vaxxed / unvaxxed. At this point I’d put money on that plan if Ds are in control, not so sure if it’s the Rs.

    Also, here an interesting Twitter thread ( between a Spectator editor and SAGE researcher which clarifies how SAGE’s models are assembled by data crunchers responding to policymakers’ requests for actionable scenarios. The problem is in these scenarios then being presented in media and twisted by policymakers as probabilistic forecasts, when they appear to be nothing of the kind.

    I wonder if Neil Ferguson’s Imperial College London research team operates in the same manner, though he may need no prodding.

    1. Objective Ace

      >It all sounds quite tidy, requiring minimal walkback by public health officials

      Biden was saying you can’t covid if your vaccinated 3 months ago. Walensky and Faucci* maybe 6 mo ths ago.

      *Faucci–pehaps actually being smarter then the rest of them–only heavily implied it,
      not outright saying it I believe

  7. Gumnut

    Denmark (5.8M inhabitants, fyi) sitrep:

    Friday 11k cases, Sat 8k, Sun 8k, Mon 10k
    Denmark case number reporting usually weekend/weekday inert.

    Omikron now >30% of cases

    From yesterday’s omikron report:

    Table 4 Vax status in cases >12 year olds since 22.Nov (1st DK omikron case):

    – other variants (= delta), n=102k cases
    Boosted/2jabs/1st jab/unvaxxed 9%, 65%, 3% (=77% vaccinated in some form) vs. 23% unvaxxed.

    omikron, n=17k
    Boosted/2jabs/1st jab/unvaxxed 11%, 79%, 2% (=91% vaccinated in some form) vs. 9% unvaxxed

    vax rate
    Boosted/2jabs/1st jab/unvaxxed 35%, 42%, 4% (=81% vaccinated in some form) vs. 19% unvaxxed

    Some age-skew as omikron relative percentage highest in the 15-29y old.

    Two observations:

    1. at least 80% of infected/infectious people are the vaccinated. Vaccination status is no indication of infectiousness risk to others.

    2. the vaccinated are overrepresented vs. unvaxxed for omikron. The 2 week vulnerability window? More risk taking behaviour? Some other immuno-effect?

    Finally, a dose of hopium – table 5: Omikron related hospitalisations
    – 30 in hospital
    – ‘ less than 5’ (4? See curious sign for yourself p.8) in ICU

    Stay safe.

    1. notbored

      2. the vaccinated are overrepresented vs. unvaxxed for omikron. The 2 week vulnerability window? More risk taking behaviour? Some other immuno-effect? Gumnut

      I don’t see any mention of those who’ve recovered from a previous Covid infection. Shouldn’t those have better protection than those vaccinated against an obsolete spike and nothing else?

      1. Harold

        My daughter just tested positive for COVID. She had COVID almost exactly a year ago. She thinks this time she got it at an office Christmas party last Tuesday because a co worker who was at the party also has it. My daughter was vaccinated twice—don’t know if she had the booster. Both her cases were relatively mild. The second more than the first.

        1. Petter

          My son’s had it twice. Late February, early March 2020, coming back from Barcelona – undiagnosed but symptoms were headache and sore throat. Second infection May of this year – full or nearly full spectrum including loss of taste and smell. Early thirties, healthy eater, trains regularly. Oh, still not vaccinated.
          Does infection buy us some time until…..

      2. Petter

        I’m wondering about that too. Wife and I just went through Covid, or still going through it – does waves of exhaustion count?There’s a lack of info (or I just haven’t seen it).

      3. Larry Y

        Not if the protection fades, regardless of how acquired.

        In South Africa, they’re on, what, their fourth wave? Original, Beta, Delta, and now Omicron.

  8. Michael Ismoe

    Biden’s Infrastructure Czar Comes With Friendly Record On Fossil Fuels The Intercept

    Why do we need an infrastructure czar? I thought we had a MENSA genius who speaks 8 languages fluently as the Secretary of Transportation? One would think that – using his background as the mayor of a major urban center that had streets and roads he’d be able to spend a trillion bucks in a long weekend. This says a lot more about their perceptions about his abilities than anything they could put in a PR release.

    A cabinet of incompetents lead by a sleepy tired old man who can’t remember if he’s in Wilmington or Washington, DC.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      “Mayor of a major urban center”…South Bend?… and even then, it’s under a board of supervisors government. The county and it’s staff set at the least set every range of decisions Little Pete was allowed to make.

    2. griffen

      I don’t know about specifics, but the former mayor of New Orleans surely is connected in the Dem political machine. His father was also once mayor in the 70s and a sister was in the US Senate for some 18 years.

      Now to put my cynic hat back on. Grifters gotta grift.

    3. Carla

      Infrastructure that counts:

      Expanded, Improved Medicare-for-All

      Robust public education from pre-school through at least community college

      Clean air and water

      Regenerative agriculture

      Homes for the 90 percent

      An actually free press enabling an actual democracy


      Yes, roads and bridges are very important, as are those who build them. But not more important than public health and public education, and those who build THEM.

      What an effing SHAM this country is.

      Or maybe I mean SHAME.

      In fact, it’s both.

  9. The Rev Kev

    “Goldman Slashes US Growth Outlook On Manchin Bombshell”

    Well of course they have. They may be corrupt but they are not stupid and can see the writing on the walls. Offices and schools will have to be emptied out again as it is shown that Omicron blows right past triple vaxxed people. So we are right where we were back in early 2020 and having to depend on our own actions to stay safe. And this also means that airlines, hotels (yes, Las Vegas as well), bars, restaurants will all be once more risky business. So what happens then? I would guess CARES Act 2.0 and Manchin will be first in line to vote for it. Who knows? With the upcoming midterms, maybe the Democrats and the Republicans (or do I repeat myself?) will be willing to write that $400 cheque that Joe Biden owes everyone.

        1. Michael Ismoe

          Actually, one of Manchin’s demands to Schumer a year ago was “no more checks to the public”.

          There’s a lot of Southern Baptist in Manchin regardless of his religion.

  10. jr

    re: actors being shot into space

    It’s reassuring to see some good coming out of the Ameri-chimerical public/private space/ego program monster. I’d like to suggest:

    1. The cast, crew, and families of “Friends”.

    2. The Kardashian media unit including Kanye! and Kaitlyn “I’m a Spectacle!” Jenner.

    3. J-Lo, Ben Affleck, and anyone who has had direct physical contact with them.

    I think those recent images of the “surface” of the sun provide a timely suggestion for a destination.

    1. griffen

      Not so fast! Jennifer Garner should definitely not be included, as we still have a need for acting abilities. Also she kicks serious a$$-wholes in a film from a few years back. Peppermint. It is not a great film, but is entertaining.

      The Kardsahians. No qualms there.

  11. Wukchumni

    The Coin Standard Lapham in that’s Quarterly
    The ‘free-silver’ movement of the 1890’s was interesting in that proponents clung to the biblical standard of 16 ounces of silver equaling 1 ounce of gold that had sufficed for almost 2,000 years as written in stone, but then the Comstock Lode came along…

    To give you an idea of what’s what, the current ratio is 80 to 1 and has been as high as 110 to 1 in the last decade.

    Nobody gives a rats patootie these days, as you can mine money out of a QWERTY with subtle fingertip pressure with scant chance of a cave in or other malady.

    As far as the protagonist in the tale wanting to leave some mark of who we were for a sojourner not yet born thousands of years from now, we’re going to leave very little aside from burgeoning trash dumps which will be fascinating to future finders in that for about a 25 year period when all consumer goods were made in China, there will be things such as toasters that seemed perfectly ok, but got trashed a year after purchase.

    In lieu of something grandiose such as the Parthenon in Athens or the Pantheon in Rome, we’ll have no buildings that will stand the test of time, not a one.

    1. Lee

      Leaving no trace is not necessarily a bad thing:

      “The water bird
      Wanders here and there
      Leaving no trace
      Yet her path
      She never forgets.”


      Were that we were so tidy.

    2. griffen

      Pretty interesting article. Tilting at windmills is the analogy that comes to mind, without really diving into more detail about that silver obsessed man.

      As for things that last, well if in the future someone might find remarkable all the stadiums or arenas for hosting all manner of sporting and entertaining events. Rome has the Colosseum, but this Tampa location must’ve hosted champions!

      No tigers or lions being fed, as yet.

  12. Mikel

    “Leftist millennial wins election as Chile’s next president AP. By ten points. Not even close.”

    I’ll have to read up on him.
    Have to remember that this is a country with a media that calls people like Creepy Pete and O’Bummer “leftists”.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      His line went something like “if Chile is the birthplace of neoliberalism, it will now be it’s graveyard.” I know people believed President pretty words, but Obama said nothing but banal platitudes and gibberish. “We aren’t red states or blue states. We are the United States.” He was such a dullard.

      I mean I expect a Buttigieg clone to start claiming to be the real President of Chile in under a month.

  13. Wukchumni

    As I was scrolling down slowly, the antidote initially appeared to be Boris-he of unkempt pompadour, but then bovine intervention put paid to the notion.

    1. David

      The imperialism argument is trivially true, in that in 1914 the major powers involved in the war (Germany, Austria-Hungary, Russia, the UK and France) were all Empires, but of very different types. But the only classic “imperial” rivalry was between Britain and Germany, and that was a minor factor in the war if it was a factor at all. (Which is why seeing China as Wilhelmine Germany is silly). But most of the world lived in Empires in those days, so most wars involved empires in some form.

      As Tooze’s article notes, the background was incredibly complicated: but what started the war was simple enough. The Austrians (especially Conrad) had been itching for a chance to get at the Serbs. Sarajevo was their chance. Once the crisis erupted, the Russians felt obliged to support the Serbs. The Germans felt obliged to support the Austrians. But German war plans required invading France quickly first to avoid a war on two fronts. To do that they passed through Belgium, giving the British, if they wanted it, a good reason to come in. There were clearly factors that made decisions to go to war more likely (German fear of increasing French and Russian military power, for example) but to a very large extent the decisions took themselves. Sometimes explanations can be too complicated.

      1. Watt4Bob

        But the only classic “imperial” rivalry was between Britain and Germany, and that was a minor factor in the war if it was a factor at all.

        There are those who believe the exact opposite.

        They make a strong case that it was Germany’s building of the Berlin-Bagdad railway that was the principle cause of the war.

        It is their contention that Germany was attempting to gain control of Middle Eastern oil, and that was a line that must not be crossed.

        The Anglo-Persian Oil Company (later to called BP, British Petroleum) had been founded in 1908, and the British government had purchased 51% of it in 1914, So it was effectively a nationalized oil company.

        Britain found Germany’s efforts to control Middle Eastern oil antithetical to its own, and totally unacceptable.

        1. David

          All true, but that’s not what the war was about, nor why it started. There were lots of tensions between European states in 1914, but there was a specific set of circumstances that produced the catastrophe. There was no chance of a war between Britain and Germany in any other context, not least because by that stage the Germans had effectively given up the naval arms race.

          1. GramSci

            But OIL was a game changer. Churchill, the Lord High Naval Muckety Muck clearly foresaw that a coal-fired navy could never defeat an oil-powered navy.

        2. ObjectiveFunction

          Yes, I found the Tooze piece to be a lot ‘meatier’ than the DeLong commentary that references it. [Anyway, I personally find Edward Luttwak’s Tweets on ‘Wilhelmine China’ and the muddled strategies of both rising powers — in sharp contrast to the reputations of both Beijing and Berlin! — to be less ‘academic’ and more on point]

          A few [edited and condensed] notes from the Tooze piece, for those interested:

          1. The classical game of great power politics was like a poker game played by highly armed powers but with a sense of common commitment to upholding the game. It was thus eventful, but repetitive, highly structured and to a degree timeless. There was no closure. Win or lose, the players remained the same.

          Imperialism, by contrast, was more like the brutal and notoriously ill-defined game of Monopoly. The players’ sole aim was capital accumulation up to and including the out-right elimination of the competition through bankruptcy. The piling up of resources and the elimination of players marks out an irreversible, ‘historical’ trajectory.

          With the plausibility of empire as a means of global ordering having reached its limit, hegemony is a convenient term for a global ordering of power amongst the powerful. [To function well, the capitalist system needs a hegemon. Always!] The concept is indispensable. But it is also a snare.

          British power in the 19th century constituted the global condition… but it had precious little to do with hegemony as the US exercised it after 1945 – as instantiated in organizations like NATO and the European Community. Those were tools of order suited for an age of extremes.

          2. By 1914, Great Power status had come to be identified with economic standing, and the terrifying aspect of capital accumulation was that it had no natural limit other than bankrupting the competition.

          By 1914, Britain had clearly won the naval arms race with Germany. It had done so, not through superior industrial performance, but through strategic focus, determined technological development and… Liberal fiscal management. Britain had the tax base to compete. But to the disappointment of the French, its commitment to the Entente seemed weak; Empire came first.

          The race on the Continent revolved around relative mobilization of national resources by France and Germany, and the sporadic and unpredictable development of Russia, the swing variable.

          In Southern Europe the basic question was backwardness. Did the Bulgarian, Serbs, Austrians [or Ottomans], actually have a place in the 20th century? [Berlin’s need to prop up Vienna, and by extension, the Ottomans, was the Achilles heel of German power].

          To European liberals, an alliance between the French republic and the autocratic and anti-semitic regime of Tsarist Russia seemed a shaky bet, especially after the crisis of 1905.

          [Yet in spite of its humiliation by Japan and revolution and autocracy at home,] the Tsar and his ministers had huge freedom of action. Russia was too important both as a debtor and as an ally to be amenable to pressure…..
          With ample funding from France, Russia’s expanding railway network was speeding its pace of mobilization. By 1914 Russia’s army strength was double that of Germany…. The Germans became convinced that 1914 would be a better moment to fight a major war than 1916 or 1917.

          In the 1912 election the SPD emerged as the largest party in the Reichstag… [but] they were devoted adherents of a stage view of history that placed Russia far behind Imperial Germany. [National development trumped international solidarity…. Since 1848, Marx had preached the need for a revolutionary war against the barbarism of reactionary Russia]. Lenin himself favored Kaiserism over Tsarism as a ‘lesser evil’…. [To maintain national unity,] Berlin waited for the Tsar’s order to mobilise before unleashing the Schlieffen Plan.

      2. hemeantwell

        To draw things back to, if we can still use the term, a “base” to the complicated political-military superstructure, Tooze approvingly cites an article by Schroeder that poses a stark old system/new system distinction: in the good old days before a logic, and a necessity, of unlimited capital accumulation took hold, international power struggles involved something like an endless card game in which the players were assured a seat at the table, going through cycles of loss and gain. Once economies began to be more thoroughly ordered around a capitalist logic, the idea of losing could involve an absolute subordination, if not destruction.

        Schroeder is not, of course, appealing for a return to Lenin. But what Schroeder wishes to highlight is what it was that Lenin, Kautsky and other theorists of the 2nd international were trying to analyse and rationalise; namely the widely shared awareness that great power competition had become radicalised, expanded in scope, and had taken on a new logic of life and death.

        This strikes me as a rather wobbly distancing, since Lenin et al would argue that imperialism is not just grabbing external markets and resources, but part of a phase of monopoly capitalism, which is what lies behind that radicalisation. In any case, I really like the way the thesis demands consideration of how awareness of economic imperatives, however finely tuned they might be in any given industry’s conception of its particular requirements, start to shape an elite mentality in a way tilted to a fated military aggression. Particularly when the processes determining capitalist crises are relatively opaque, it’s not hard to see why elites would form a consensus around a “manifest destiny” imposed by the market imperative, better be safe with a market than sorry without one. The alternative, as Tooze notes, would have been to form international cartels, which I suspect would have been what the League of Nations would have eventually had to become in order to viable. .

  14. ChrisRUEcon


    According to Shabir Mahdi, the University of the Witwatersrand’s dean of public health and a former member of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on Covid-19, the president’s Cabinet will likely consider additional preventive restrictions only if a health system collapse seems imminent. That is, the government’s priority this time around is to try to avoid economic losses—or, as President Cyril Ramaphosa put it in a recent address to the nation, “to manage this pandemic, to resume many of our daily activities, and to rebuild our economy.”

    Wow … way to let ‘er rip there, Cyril. Life doesn’t get better for the formerly colonized when the locals subscribe to same putrid economic policies, does it?

    Economy > Health-Of-People-Required-To-Support-Economy

    … that’s the kind of illogical Math neoliberalism has created everywhere in the west.

    “The government also learned from earlier Covid waves, says Mahdi, that even the harshest lockdowns didn’t achieve the desired impact in a country where so many people live in crowded apartment buildings, houses, or shantytowns. And then there’s the specter of last July’s uprising, in which thousands of desperate people looted malls and supermarkets, a warning signal to the authorities about the dangers of severe public-health restrictions.”

    Yes, when you let poverty and economic inequality persist in your society like this, you apparently get to shrug #ZeroCOVID away because “muh density of poors”. Every day that passes is another day that China is showing up the absolute horror of what the west and western-influenced nations have become – neoliberal death-traps for humanity. We’re all gonna get Omicron because we are governed by people who only know how to give money to banks and plutocrats. What a mess …

    1. Jerk

      >We’re all gonna get Omicron because we are governed by people who only know how to give money to banks and plutocrats.
      We have to kill them before they kill us.

    2. Mikel

      Economy > Health-Of-People-Required-To-Support-Economy

      “… that’s the kind of illogical Math neoliberalism has created everywhere in the west…”

      That’s the logic of the concept of “life insurance”.

  15. Wukchumni

    The wind finally blew the other way last night and kicked out the smoke from the burning Sierra. Down here in the flatland of California, we used to regard the granite mountain as a place apart, our getaway. But the distance is no more. With all those dead pine trees in thrall to wildfire, the Sierra, transmuted into ash, is right outside our door.

    We have learned to watch the sky with an uncanny eye. We measure its peril. Some days, we breathe the worst air in the world. On those few days when we can walk outside without risking harm to our lungs and brains, we greet each other with new benedictions. May the shift in winds prevail, I tell my neighbor. May there be only the dust clouds from the almond harvest to contend with. In the meantime, I don’t dare quiet the turbo on my HEPA filters, hum of this new life.

    The most brutal of summers in the San Joaquin Valley has come to a rest at last. Since June, the temperature has broken the 100° mark for 67 days, a new record. Drought won’t let go its grip on the land. Eight of the past 10 years have been ugly dry. This October morning, after a month holed up, I decided to leave my house in the suburbs and roam the middle of California, the irrigated desert at its most supreme. Out in the country, I smell fall in the air. To celebrate its arrival, I’m going to visit an old friend, a farmer named Masumoto, who has 80 acres in Del Rey and is putting the last of his raisins in a box.
    A fine article by one of the authors of The King of California, a tale of JG Boswell, one of the largest Ag empires in the world that few know about.

    1. jo6pac

      A friend of mine brother works for jg boswell. He spends most the day in plane with pilot talking to those on ground by radio. That’s how big they are

  16. Mark Gisleson

    So much fascinating news yet I can’t get past this typo:

               Is þe “Wilhelmine China” Analogy Useful, or Useless?

    I have no clue what “þ” is or how you make it on a keyboard.

    1. Sailor Bud

      If you have Windows, you can access all the weird characters using charmap (character map). Do a search on your taskbar search for it, by typing ‘charmap,’ then – if you like – you can make a shortcut or drag its icon into the taskbar itself if you want it permanently mouse accessible. Note the alt+number pad simplifications for any common foreign characters. Very useful.

  17. Redlife2017

    It seems the BBC has gotten its marching orders on Omicron. This is analysis from their Health Reporter on not needing any new restrictions (even though hospitalisations in London are up 30% over the past week – the overall England numbers are held down by other areas not yet hit by Omicron):

    Infections caused by the new Covid variant Omicron are rising rapidly, doubling every two to three days – and modelling is warning hospital admissions could rise sharply.

    Ministers across the UK are under pressure to bring in tougher Covid measures.

    There are strong arguments for those, but there are also reasons why trying to do more to suppress Omicron could be damaging.

    Much has been made of suggestions that this variant is causing milder illness.

    In South Africa, reports are emerging that people are not as seriously ill in this wave as they were in earlier ones.

    There is still uncertainty about this. But it is logical. Not because the virus has changed to become less severe, but because reinfections and infections post-vaccination are likely to be milder.

    If so, that puts the UK in a strong position – probably the strongest in Europe – to be able to deal with this wave.

    On top of that there is the impact of the rapid rollout of boosters, which research suggests are vital to blunting the impact of Omicron.

    The key, though, will be that the NHS can keep delivering care to those who need it.

    Basically because we have killed more people than almost everywhere else, we should be fine. No probs…Lots of right-wingers (and libertarian left-wingers) are stating that people shouldn’t worry. It will be fine…

    1. juanholio

      Looks like the skeptics will finally have their “everyman for himself” fantasies come true.

      Will they be right, or wrong, about it being a good idea?

      Time will tell, but it’s it of our hands.

    2. PlutoniumKun

      What an unbelievably awful article. As you say, someone has given out orders to maintain the party line.

  18. Mikel

    So, it looks like the EU regulators are making a move to get Novavax shots into action.
    This one is protein based and not mRNA based.
    I can’t imagine it being more “iffy” than what’s out there being called boosters.
    So should be interesting competition, no?

  19. bob

    A ‘Green’ Energy Project Leaves A Mississippi Town Gasping For Air HuffPo

    How hard is it to do some air sampling? There is nothing about the pollutants other than speculation – VOC’s. At what level? For how long? Does it change over the course of a year? A day?

    These are basic questions which the story doesn’t even attempt to get into. How do you begin to ask anyone to regulate if you can’t put any numbers to it?


    As far as the whole biomass as fuel- Yes, it’s a joke. The story gets into lots of why that is true.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Well, actually it won’t. What it will do is make Manchin smirk and giggle.

      Who pushed to separate the two bills in the House? Wasn’t it Pelosi?

      Would the entire DemProg Caucus leave the Democratic Party if they knew with scientific certainty that they could burn the Democratic Party down on their way out the door? If they knew it, would they do it?

      1. Noone from Nowheresville

        After the CARES Act passed, AOC more or less said in an hour long Instagram stream that Cares wasn’t perfect because the Republicans were mean so that’s why it wasn’t better for the normies. (My paraphrasing.) Followed by voting was important to getting the Republicans out of power so that things could change.

        So to answer the question, no they wouldn’t burn the Democratic Party down. They are full participants in the game. They know when to give some head fakes and winks to their audience to keep the show moving. They may not believe in some of the more egregious policies that get enacted but I suspect they believe or rather they console themselves with the thought that it would’ve been worse if they weren’t there to blunt an edge or two.

        So would this fall under mistakes were made or who coulda’ known? Either way it’s more steady progress for somebody and really just a continuation of the slow and consistent legislative efforts after the CARES Act passed. As far as I can tell CARES was the last time we had an emergency or a panic attack by the political elite at the Federal level.

  20. drumlin woodchuckles

    Dog patrols to kill rats? The rats will breed more rats faster than the dogs can kill the rats. If NYC wants zero rats, NYC will have to create a non-habitat of zero food, zero water, and zero shelter for so much as a single rat throughout the whole city.

    Till they do that, they will have rats.

  21. drumlin woodchuckles

    From the ” How China can maintain advantage even in deglobalizing world” I see this paragraph . . .

    ” This starts by recognising that American workers benefit from trade and investment with China. Exports to China support more than 1.2 million US jobs. Chinese companies invested in the US directly employ nearly 200,000 Americans. ”

    Exports to China support more than 1.2 million US jobs? I would like to see how that is measured. Then I would like to see the exact same measurement system applied to Chinese exports to America to see how many jobs in America are destroyed by those exports from China. Then we could make an apples-to-apples comparison of American exports to China with American imports from China. We could make an apples-to-apples comparison of the amount of jobs supported per X dollars of goods exported to China.
    As against the number of jobs destroyed per the same X dollars of goods imported from China. And see if jobs supported outnumber jobs destroyed in America or undernumber jobs destroyed in America.

    And we could run the same comparisons between jobs supported versus jobs destroyed for every country America trades with.

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