Links 12/24/2021

Scientists discover new part of the body Live Science

Economists Say 2022 Is the Year of Inflation. Can the Public and Policymakers Get on the Same Page? Morning Consult. And totally not, say, the year of strikes. These people.

The Politics Of Inflation The Heisenberg Report (Re Silc).

Facebook to build metaverse with start-up that had US military contracts FT

Investors Snap Up Metaverse Real Estate in a Virtual Land Boom NYT

Jack Dorsey’s hot Web3 takes are apparently too much for Marc Andreessen to handle The Verge

Would Keynes have bought Bitcoin? The Conversation


Road Salt Is Wreaking Havoc On Our Drinking Water and the Environment, Study Says Popular Mechanics (Re Silc).


Omicron cases less likely to require hospital treatment, studies show FT. Less risk at the individual level doesn’t translate to less impact at the population level, or fewer second order effects. Interestingly, hospitalization isn’t going down only in Gauteng:

While omicron explodes around the world, covid cases in Japan keep plummeting and no one knows exactly why WaPo. Perhaps our Japan mavens will weigh in.

Episode 83: On Viral Time (podcast) Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (Re Silc). “In this week’s episode, Dr. Osterholm and Chris Dall discuss the rapid global spread of the Omicron variant, how the United States and other countries around the world are responding to the Omicron.” Very much worth a listen, so grab a cup of coffee.

* * *

Omicron May Double Risk of Getting Infected on Planes, IATA Says Bloomberg

Airborne triumphs in Canada?

Important because the droplet goons were exceptionally reactionary and tenacious in Canada, even for droplet goons.

Airborne in Australia:

I don’t think we as a species are stupid. We have issues in political economy, not biology. “Health nerds” know that choral singing was an early epidemiologically traced superspreading event, and due to airborne transmission. For whatever reason, this knowledge has never made it out to the general public. So, more than a year later, here we are.

* * *

FDA authorizes second COVID-19 antiviral pill, Merck’s molnupiravir FOX but France cancels order for Merck’s COVID-19 antiviral drug Reuters

Molnupiravir: coding for catastrophe Nature. Molnupiravar mechanism. The catastrophe is for the viruses, not us, presumably. Then again, maybe not, as we saw yesterday.

* * *

Impact of Covid-19 on Tuberculosis Prevention and Treatment in Canada: a multicentre analysis of 10,833 patients (accepted manuscript) Journal of Infectious Diseases. n = 10,833. From the Abstract: “At two centres, active tuberculosis treatment rates fell by 16% and 29%. In Canada, cornerstone measures for tuberculosis elimination weakened during the Covid-19 pandemic.” Second-order effects begin to bite.


Two more Hong Kong universities remove June 4 memorials Nikkei Asia. And yesterday:

Hong Kong’s “Pillar of Shame” goes home in a body bag.

Russia says more than 120 U.S. mercenaries are active in eastern Ukraine What China Reads


Myanmar to hold fresh election in 2023 Business Live. If this year’s dry season campaign yields happy results. Meanwhile:


Hindutva Leaders at Haridwar Event Call for Muslim Genocide The Wire

The Koreas

What ‘Squid Game’ tells us about the changing face of globalisation FT


Eric Zemmour: Hijacking Beethoven The Globalist

New Cold War

Russian President Putin holds his annual year-end news conference (transcript) NPR and Putin on NATO, Ukraine, gas, COVID and the Russian economy Reuters

Strategic Misdirection: An Alternate Framework for Understanding Russia’s Play in Ukraine (PDF) Frederick W. Kagan, Nataliya Bugayova, George Barros, Kateryna Stepanenko, and Mason Clark Institute for the Study of War. Ah, the Kagans. They have form. From the Executive Summary:

But Putin may have no intention of invading Ukraine at all. Putin may be attempting a strategic misdirection that impales the West in a diplomatic process and military planning cycle that will keep it unprepared to meet his preferred, wily, and more subtle next move. Putin benefits greatly by focusing attention on the risk of war and prompting the current US scramble to defuse and de-escalate this crisis that he invented. If Putin is threatening military action to misdirect, then the West’s concessions will feed directly into his non-military efforts to achieve his objectives of changing the geopolitical orientation of Ukraine from west to east and weakening NATO.

The “Technology Partners” (page 6) are fascinating.

Biden Administration

Biden says he supports filibuster carve-out for voting rights ABC

Justices will hear arguments on Jan. 7 in challenges to Biden vaccine policies ScotusBlog

Democrats look to scale back Biden bill to get it passed The Hill. Again?

The Biden Administration Rejected an October Proposal for “Free Rapid Tests for the Holidays” Vanity Fair

This Scientist Created a Rapid Test Just Weeks Into the Pandemic. Here’s Why You Still Can’t Get It. Pro Publica

Supply Chain

Asia’s factory workers at the sharp end of the west’s supply chain crisis Guardian

Health Care

1st long-acting injection to prevent HIV has been approved by the FDA Live Science

Police State Watch

Big Trouble In Little Rock Radley Balko, The Intercept. The deck: “A Reformist Black Police Chief Faces an Uprising of the Old Guard.” Backstory:

Now search is back to normal. You have to wonder how this happened, though.

Dispatch From Deadly Rikers Island: “It Looks Like a Slave Ship in There.” Marshall Project

Capitol Seizure

Trump asks Supreme Court to block records release to Jan 6 probe Agence France Presse

Our Famously Free Press

A Myth is Born: How CDC, FDA, and Media Wove a Web of Ivermectin Lies That Outlives The Truth Michael Capuzzo, Rescue

Trump Legacy

Trump still likes the Trump vaccine Politico. A calculation about how powerful the anti-vax forces really are? Personal pique? Who knows….


Joe Biden says he WILL run for president in 2024 if he remains in ‘good health’ and Donald Trump mounting a presidential bid would only ‘increase the prospect’ Daily Mail. Given that the alternatives are (in alphabetical order) Buttigieg and Harris….

Heir Apparent or Afterthought? The Frustrations of Kamala Harris. NYT

Xmas Pre-Game Festivities

This really is lovely and festive:

I’m guessing this is in Catalonia (nadal).

Worst Mistakes You Can Make At A Company Holiday Party The Onion

Imperial Collapse Watch

Balfour Beatty Communities to pay millions in fines after pleading guilty to defrauding military Federal News Network

The Inverse Midas Touch: Why America’s Interventions So Often Go Wrong War on the Rocks

US moves from DIME strategy to NICKEL during economic downturn Duffel Blog

Class Warfare

It would be interesting to know how widespread these sentiments are:

Maybe we could find out!


‘An untenable work environment’: Grocery workers brace for Omicron surge LA Times

Hellscape at Starbucks:

If you highlight everything….

Rekindling Labor? Phenomenal World

The Disappearance of Japan’s “Third Gender” JSTOR

Déjà Vu All Over Again (review) The Baffler. The Matrix.

Antidote du jour (via):

Bonus antidote (via):

The capybara could be Photoshopped in. I still think it’s cute.

Double bonus anidote (Re Silc):

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. none

    Given that the alternatives are (in alphabetical order) Buttigieg and Harris….

    That’s missing the bad penny Clinton, who god help us also looks likely to run again. I imagine that Clinton getting nominated and re-losing to Trump could get her to finally call it quits, but that is wishful thinking, I fear. George Jetson will become president of Spacely Sprockets before Clinton stops running for POTUS.

    1. Pat

      I am still disappointed that I have not managed to get “incompetent Hillary Clinton” to be noticed and taken up by the populace. Which begs the question is Harris really that much worse at being AG/Senator/Candidate/VP than Clinton has been at her various jobs? Or does the weird affection for the former President’s wife cause our notably stupid mainstream press to actually talk about it, something they have been reluctant to do regarding HRC.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        At this point, she’s a nothing, more a sign of a decrepit celebrity obsessed culture than anything, and look at Bill Clinton and his followers actual results. If it wasn’t her, it would have been someone else with a created legend, probably a multitude as opposed to a singular version, but the supporters of O’Rourke, Buttigieg, and even Harris had just bizarre notions about their candidates. I think they were trying to create celebrities. Of course, the Great One before them.

        As an individual, she’s insignificant. She had no growth among young voters and her voters would be 8 years deader. Yes, she’s a buffoon, but the doltish nature of her campaigns were on display in the documentary about Bill’s 1992 staff, “The War Room”. They were buoyed a bit by Terry’s under performance in 2013 against one of the biggest loony tunes out there, but the real Clinton campaign expertise was on full display in Virginia this year.

        Josh Gottheimer is the only elected Clintonista these days. The first two term Democrat since FDR, and Bill left nothing behind despite his supposed political acumen. Selling out to Tysons and Wal Mart and holding onto partisans isn’t a brilliant strategy and doesn’t scale well.

        This is about Bill, the only talented one in that clown car. His wife should be dismissed. If it wasn’t her, it would have been another Clinton dolt and his hanger ons running the party machinery into the ground.

        1. Michael Fiorillo

          “… Bill left nothing behind despite his supposed political acumen.”

          If only that were so. Unfortunately, he and his’n left behind NAFTA, elimination of AFDC, the 1994 crime bill, and financial and telecommunications deregulation … a sad and brutally impressive record of service to Capital.

          The Clinton’s current political decrepitude is an embarrassing given, but in his prime Bill was a genius at neutralizing the D’s left wing while helping bring about our current Hellscape political economy.

          1. JBird4049

            If a Bill Clinton clone would appear today, I do not think he would succeed using Clinton’s 1990s ideology as too many Americans have been crushed by the Hellscape he helped to create; the left wing and the remnants of the old right wing both have gone to Real World University.

            I think figuring out how we eliminate the fungal growths, including the bits that are Clintons’ contributions, that is American neoliberalism? Or British neoliberalism? I can use the analogy of California’s fungal Valley Fever, which can be hard to get, but is very tenacious and difficult to remove. Heck, old fashion tuberculosis, aka the White Death, is another one.

            Identifying the disease, its symptoms, and outcomes doesn’t give us the cure, and neoliberalism is extremely tenacious and destructive. I don’t see a society large sanatarium that we can all check into. Maybe we could create one?

            1. foghorn longhorn

              Was working in N’awlins circa 1992.
              Was at a local watering hole and the debate between bill willy and the elder bush the stupid was on the toob, with the sound turned down.
              The tourist, german lady sitting beside me remarked ‘that man seems evil’, I replied ‘yeah that old guy is bad news’.
              She said ‘no, the younger dude seems evil’.
              She was quite prescient.

            1. lance ringquist

              bill and hillary are advertising come join with us as we teach you at masterclass.

              we will teach you how to prosper personally as you sellout the worlds largest middle class ever to wall street and the chinese communist party.

              come join with us as we pummel the poor and weak all over the world with endless wars.

              come join with us as we successfully reintroduced jim crow laws in america, to help absorb all of the newly unemployed workers, due to our disastrous polices.

              come join with us as we teach you to turn a whole generation of american women into desperate prostitutes and meth dealers as we take away their gravy train of welfare, and hand that welfare off to the real producers of wealth, wall street parasites.


              1. drumlin woodchuckles

                And we cannot reverse Clinton’s policies until every Clinton gladio embed has been purged and burned out of the Democratic Party, and every Clinton-revering voter has been purged and burned from voting for a declintaminated DemParty if there ever is one ever again.

    2. Pelham

      Also, what about Michelle Obama? And I believe I read that Megan Markle and The Rock are weighing a run. Personally, I favor Bill Burr or Butters from “South Park.”

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Proposed Michelle Obama runs are signs of our decadent culture. Laura Bush was more active in the White House. Admittedly she had kids, but she’s never demonstrated any desire to do the work that would be necessary. She has no views. Her pet projects were left to rot when she realized she could meet celebs without doing anything. She doesn’t even put out the same list of popular culture items and call it her picks the way her husband does.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          This isn’t a Michelle only problem but endemic to Team Blue. It’s the only political party on the planet that would let Sanders be the budget chair or ranking member all these years. No knew wants to do any work. It’s a plum job but requires regular work, so they actually go outside the party. It’s not such a big deal today, but in 2015, it said everything about Team Blue.

          Her safe appeal absolves their perceptions of potential work pimping a candidate as if the nominee won’t instantly be famous.

        2. lyman alpha blob

          I wish Barry would stop recommending scifi books. Seeing his name on the cover has caused me to wait for a later printing of a few books I’d like to read

          1. Trogg

            I avoided reading 3 Body Problem for far too long because of this issue. Do you think he even reads thus stuff or does a staffer pick randomly from other people’s ‘best ofs?’

            1. jr

              Remember his discussion of pretending to read weighty books in college to try to chat up the ladies in the classes? I seem to recall him saying he never finished reading most of them.

        3. Alex Cox

          Michelle christened a nuclear submarine with the capacity to kill everyone on the planet. She did her part!

        1. Milton

          In college, I had an Elvira (holding a six pack of Coors light, I think) and a Jaegermeister model cutout*. They would make good presidents.

          * I worked in a liquor store.

          1. ambrit

            I worked for a man who was a hard core Republican back in the late 2000s. He had a “Standee,” (the ‘official’ name for a cardboard cutout used in public relations,) of George W Bush standing in the corner of his office. The workers there abstained from making fun of the thing since we didn’t want to lose our jobs.
            I would imagine that some form of that fear will motivate Political Apparatchiks of all stripes to dutifully salute and vote for their “Cardboard Cutout Candidate” in 2024.
            The inmates are running the asylum.

            1. Arizona Slim

              Your break room conversations must have been epic. And the smokers taking breaks outside the workplace? Man, they must have really had some fun with that cutout!

              1. ambrit

                This was a plumbing company, so, we only were in the office or warehouse in the morning or evening. Our ‘breakrooms’ were job sites and the cabs of the company trucks. I was “odd man out” in this environment. There was a lot of “follow the leader” involved in this population. As one worker stated it to me one lunch time, “Well, he’s the Boss. What you expect?” The capital ‘B’ in Boss was noticeable in the stress placed on that letter in pronunciation by many of the workers. One thing about Da South, the workforce, especially the “skilled workers,” generally mentally associated themselves with the ruling elites. The psychology of that is worthy of a PhD dissertation.
                That being said, yes indeedy, we all had fun with that cutout!
                One day, someone, not me, put a kids play cowboy hat on Ol’ George and left a souvenier of some sort from the Texas Rangers on the boss’s desk. I was the natural suspect, being the only openly leftish worker there. Since the prank was not obviously mean spirited, the boss pulled me aside later and asked me if I had done it. I answered that, no, I had not, and could prove it. So, prove it says the boss. Well, I said, even I know that no self respecting Texan would be caught dead in anything other than a Rollflex cowboy hat. The boss looked kinda funny for a moment then moved on. Several weeks later, the boss cornered me and said that someone he had met confirmed my claim about working cowboys and Rollflex hats. He was more amazed that I knew such an esoteric bit of information than if I had been the author of the prank.

                1. ambrit

                  Edit to above: that should be Resistol cowboy hat. I don’t know where I came up with Rollflex, that’s a brand of camera!
                  The actual working Texican I got the information about working hats from said that; “Only Pimps and Back East Dudes wear Stetsons. Real cowboys wear Resistol.”
                  Oh well. It’s a big world out there.

                2. Pate

                  Ambrit: “One thing about Da South, the workforce, especially the “skilled workers,” generally mentally associated themselves with the ruling elites. The psychology of that is worthy of a PhD dissertation.”

                  Comparative advantage? Since Bacon’s Rebellion (after which racism was institutionalized), even poor and working class whites distinguished themselves from blacks and thus in alignment with the white ruling class.

                  1. ambrit

                    The problem with that strategy today is that, to function at all well, the ideology of Meritocracy has to be “Equal Opportunity.” The Black Striver population down here has used the few levers of power that Meritocracy has given them to essentially, become PMCs. Their disdain for their poor cousins is as great as is that of their White co-ideologues’ disdain for their poor cousins. “Deplorables” as an effective demonizing force is colour blind. The White PMCs speak in hushed tones about ‘White Trash’ and suchlike, while their Black compatriots speak a bit more stridently about ‘Thugs’ and ‘N—–s.’ In both cases, really two aspects of a single case, the conflict is about Class.
                    The poor Whites down here are well aware of their victimization at the hands of the elites. The real Stockholm Syndrome sufferers today are the remnants of the Lower Middle Class. They see their gains of several generations of striving being wiped out and stolen in less than a generation. That is the fertile ground upon which any manner of major change can be based. Which way that change goes is the challenge.

                    1. drumlin woodchuckles

                      Someone might try starting a movement based on speaking some blunt truth. Truth to Powerlessness.

                      ” The bed you make for Poor White Trash is the bed you lie in when you become Poor White Trash.”

                      It could either make them hate the one who says it . . . or decide it is time for Poor White Trash and Bankrupt White Cash to make a political marriage of convenience.

                    2. ambrit

                      Here in the NADS, there is already a ‘marriage of convenience’ betreen Poor Whites and Poor Blacks. You only need to keep a look out for the mixed race children in the Bigg Boxx Stores. In a shift from years ago, many of these children are now with both parents. The days of Grandpa and Grandma raising their mixed race grandchild are slowly passing. The stigma is fading. That’s one reason I consider the Poors a cohesive multi-racial group today.

                    3. drumlin woodchuckles

                      Well, now the near-poors and the nouveau-poors have to decide whether to join them or not in a self-interested coalition of convenience to get certain things and do certain things.

          2. jr

            Vaguely related: A buddy of mine in school worked at a 7-11. They featured these life sized R2-D2 drink coolers on wheels. My buddy left one outside one night by “accident” and some other pals stole it.

            It was beautiful. When you removed the dome, a pony keg would fit nicely into it. It kept the beer cold as well as mobile. It was the perfect complement to the freezer we gutted so as to fit the 25 gallon jugs of fresh hard cider another buddy would bring by. Add into that the throw-pillow sized Ziploc bags of kind bud we dealt in and a bong that could double as a mortar, oof. Hard partying nights.

        2. Nikkikat

          Lol! Cardboard cutout! Now if they can only come up with a branding strategy. “Its all about branding don’t you know”. Look what it did for the Kardasians!

          1. ambrit

            Hmmm… I have been mulling over your observation about Ye Kardashians.
            Dare I say it, the Kardashians would be best represented by Naked Cardboard Cutouts. The said cutouts can come with, like cheap dress-up doll sets of old, with cutout paper dresses. Knowing that lot, see through dresses.
            Like true cardboard cutouts, the Kardashians are all Front. No depth to them at all.
            Be safe and make sure that Santa wears his mask when he comes down the chimney.

    3. drumlin woodchuckles

      If its Trump v. Clinton, I hope that Gabbard runs as an Independent or something. If she and a movement started early enough they could get her on the ballot in enough key Electoral Vote-Rich states that if she then won them in the election, she could deny Trump or Clinton a win. She could then force it into the House of Representatives and she and her movement could essentially put the Housemembers inside a barrel studded with inward-facing nails and then roll it around and around and around. ( That used to be a torture-punishment in old Russia).

    4. Jeremy Grimm

      Does it really matter who the candidates are for 2024? Elections are not decided by our votes and the winners do not respond to our will.

    5. Big River Bandido

      Hardly matters who the eventual nominee is. The 2024 Democrat nomination for President will be worth about what it was in 1920 or 1924 — nothing.

  2. farmboy

    to all anti-globalists, “Global warming is expected to dramatically reduce agricultural productivity in hotter parts of the world. This column considers ways to accommodate that change. Hot, poor countries would benefit by shifting away from agriculture into less vulnerable, non-agricultural sectors as temperatures rise, but such a reallocation of resources is unlikely without a major increase in global trade integration. As long as poor countries import little of their food, they are likely to continue specialising in agriculture to meet domestic subsistence needs, even as their farms become increasingly vulnerable to climate change.”

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      So it becomes up to anti-Globalists with the belly of the Corporate Globalonial Plantation to obstruct further globalization so that these hotter parts of the world can grow their own hotter-tolerant crops and survive.

      1. lance ringquist

        don’t ever let anyone try to pull the wool over your eyes, and claim that free trade is humanitarian, they are simply “FRAUDS”.

        the destructiveness of free trade, it breeds cash crops, lincoln understood this well; it reinforces what we’ve all discussed: The post-NAFTA crapifcaiton of clothing; “free trade is simply the absence of democratic control, it allows corporation to roam the globe at will, seeking the cheapest most exploited labor, lack of environmental enforced regulations, all in a tax free environment.”


        Many of us have been saying for a long time that unchecked, liberalised global trade is a disaster waiting to happen. No one listened. Now it’s happened.”

    2. lance ringquist

      keynes would approve of a global effort to stop climate change, but that is not free trade: An organizing framework for the community option was succinctly outlined in 1933 by economist John Maynard Keynes: “I sympathize, therefore, with those who would minimize, rather than with those who would maximize, economic entanglement among nations. Ideas, knowledge, science, hospitality, travel—these are the things which should of their nature be international. But let goods be homespun whenever it is reasonably and conveniently possible, and, above all, let finance be primarily national.”

      free trade is driving food prices through the roof

      China is driving much of the company’s growth, and JBS accounted for 50% of beef exports from the US last year.

      The proportion of arable land dedicated to producing meat is expanding but this is largely to feed consumers overseas

      Per capita meat production flatlined in the US between 2005 and 2020, while the value of exports almost doubled.

      under free trade farmers are paid less, forced into raising cash crops for export, and have unpayable debts

  3. The Rev Kev

    Literally the most aerosol generating activity possible at the peak of spread of the most infectious airborne virus ever. We really are a stupid species, aren’t we?’

    Unbelievable. How long ago was that outbreak in that choir in Washington State? This should have been on the radar of the medical authorities after that point but I am seeing the medical authorities here in Oz do the same mistakes again and again and again. Actually it is worse than this. Queensland’s chief medical doctor has come out and said “Not only is the spread of this virus inevitable, it is necessary. In order for us to go from the pandemic phase to an endemic phase, the virus has to be widespread” and that “infection with COVID-19 was required for the pandemic to evolve into an endemic.” So our chief medical officer has decided that he wants to have as many people infected as possible to get general immunity – aka ‘herd immunity’. When asked what happens then in six months time, I believe that the answer from him was crickets-

    1. Tom Stone

      John Gerrard is further proof that stupidity is no bar to success, if any were needed.
      I do hope that someone will sit down with him for a few hours in an attempt to explain the meaning of the word “Immunity”.

    2. chuck roast

      Words matter, and “medical authorities” is the correct term for these people. I would expect medical authorities to do the same mistake again and again. That’s what they do. If for example you were to call them “public health officials”, that would be cause for concern. Their repeated mistakes would surely cause confusion and consternation inasmuch as the health and welfare of the general public would seem to be their primary responsibility. I prefer to use terms like “medical authorities” and “medical cartel” these days when discussing public health. The focus and loyalty of these people is to the well-being and survival of their organizations, and “public health” is merely the theatre in which they operate.

    3. JBird4049

      Does he mean like HIV? Or formerly diseases like smallpox, tuberculosis, or even polio? I can expand it to quite a long, long list before modern public health became a thing.

      Fraking psychopath.

    4. eg

      Without putting too fine a point on it, Gerrard is insane. Setting aside for a moment the likelihood of healthcare system collapse from an onslaught of simultaneous cases, the potential for reinfection with coronavirus in particular makes a nonsense of his premise.

    1. HotFlash

      I am reminded of a ruler who was advised to lay up stores of grain to feed his people for an expected famine, which he prudently did. Genesis 41:13 and ff.

      1. Bruno

        which, of course, was a great speculative success. “And so all the Egyprians were made slaves of pharaoh.”

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      Well, they are just putting themselves first, as should we all. Here is a case where we can “learn from China” and show we have “learned from China” by putting ourselves first.

  4. Samuel Conner

    The thought occurs that the mechanism of action of molnupiravir, if widely deployed across a population of infected humans, would have features reminiscent of accelerated (through induced mutations) ‘gain of function’ experiments, only without the BSL4 containment.

    1. ambrit

      This, plus, since the mRNA “vaccines” are operating under an EUA regime, we are already in the midst of a population wide “experiment.”
      Considering that America’s economy is now being run as a gambling casino, “throwing the dice” with the public’s health and safety as policy is not surpising.
      I would say my usual “Stay Safe,” but today I feel a bit like Dante’s description of the inscription above the Entrance to the Inferno; “Abandon hope all Ye who sign up for an account here.”

  5. WobblyTelomeres

    > Scientists discover new part of the body

    In my chair, drinking coffee, I read the title aloud. My wife, in her chair, dryly responds, “It’s called a clitoris.”

    Happy Holidays!

    1. Mildred Montana

      Thanks for the laugh. I’ll add:

      There was a restaurant called the G-spot. It went broke. Nobody could find it.

    2. The Rev Kev

      I thought that it was the male Concentration Gland. You know. The one in males that takes up flu infections in the male body and concentrates it to be ten times worse than their female counterparts. “Man flu.” Everybody knows about it and it was written up in the British medical Journal once-

  6. Joe

    So, I am military and live in northern Japan now. Everyone wears their masks. I see Japanese running alone, outside with their masks on. They drive in cars alone with a mask on. Everyone is masked, they take your temperature when you enter some businesses. My suspicion is they are just more willing to do the things to reduce transmission. We are also still closed to tourists.

      1. lyman alpha blob

        Nobody seems to want to admit that all of this might be unknowable and outbreaks may be due to luck of the draw.

        Admitting that we might not be able to solve it means we humans are just another part of nature and not the masters of it. Much more fun to pretend we have the answers or will find them eventually and then blame other people for not following the instructions of their betters.

        1. Freethinker

          Indeed. I have been rehearsing and performing with sizable choruses in Chicago since September. All Vaxed and Masked in large or poorly-insulated spaces. No known transmission events yet. I know of other choruses with same disease-free results over this time frame. None are unaware of the risks, but we take precautions. Living and loving are not risk-free.

          1. lambert strether

            How unfortunate that it’s not only your own life you’re risking.

            One of the really salutary effects of the pandemic for me has been the realization that conservative rhetoric about “freedom” and “liberty” really amounts to a betrayal move in a society-wide game of prisoner’s dilemma.

            1. Freethinker

              I provided experimental evidence contrary to your beliefs. You chose to react with sarcasm, blaming, and shaming. None of the performers I know identify with conservative values , doubt “the science,” and none are risking lives anymore so than the privileged or reclusive operating in this industrial, capitalistic, globalized world who are consuming, exploiting, and generating waste. Like other performers, I am ready to cease and desist should circumstances warrant.

              1. Lambert Strether Post author

                Lol, you elevated an anecdote to “experimental evidence.” Nice try, champ.

                I’m not going to waste my time digging out the epidemiological studies (Skagit Valley, the Netherlands, Australia) showing choral singing spreads Covid-bearing aerosols, or the studies showing the rank order of aerosol-spreading actions: breathing, speaking, singing, shouting; readers are no doubt familiar.

                I believe that the political philosophy that glorifies creating risk for innocent bystanders in the name of the “liberty” and “freedom” shibboleths is immoral (and self-defeating even in its own terms). If that be blaming, then so be it. Go peddle your glibertarian garbage elsewhere.

                1. R

                  Seems a bit harsh on Freethinker, he wrote nothing ideological. He just said that his choir was vaxxed and masked and apparently had not been a source of transmission.

                  There may be lots of choirs without transmission and which therefore don’t get contact traced. Or there may not. But the Skagit choir is, in frequency terms, an anecdote just as much as Freelander’s anecdote, albeit with verifiable data. It is a single outbreak history, analogous to a case history. We don’t have an RCT of choirs as the evidence based medicine obsession demands.

                  I suspect the masking is holding corona at bay, not the vaccines…

                  1. Yves Smith

                    There are tons of asymptomatic cases and asymptomatic cases transmit. The fact that no one was symptomatic does not even remotely establish that they didn’t transmit.

                    And we don’t even know that this report is true. We’ve have people make claims in comments from time to time that are demonstrably made up.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Nobody seems to want to admit that all of this might be unknowable and outbreaks may be due to luck of the draw.

          Broadly, this is true. Medicine is an art, not a science. We do not understand the immune system (or consciousness, or dreams, or sleep, or love, or most of the truly important things. Our elites don’t understand political economy (looking at you, Larry Sanders) except insofar as it benefits themselves (same)).

          However, that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be seeking at all times to develop and use our best judgment to protect ourselves and others. That is what epidemiology is for! Unless you’re Maggie Thatcher, of course, and you believe that there’s no such thing as society. (“I considered the risks carefully and put the handle back on the Broad Street pump because I wanted a drink of water. After all, I have a cast-iron stomach.” GTFO). I think it’s precautionary principle all the way down.

      2. Basil Pesto

        Good qn. There was some major mask research out of Japan in late October, reported by Reuters as: Japan researchers show masks do block coronavirus, but not perfectly

        That’s the western reoporing of the story. But note:

        A cotton mask reduced viral uptake by the receiver head by up to 40% compared to no mask. An N95 mask, used by medical professionals, blocked up to 90%. However, even when the N95 was fitted to the face with tape, some virus particles still sneaked in.

        When a mask was attached to the coughing head, cotton and surgical masks blocked more than 50% of the virus transmission.

        “There was a synergistic effect when both the virus receiver and virus spreader wore masks,” the researchers wrote in a study published on Wednesday.

        It’s not hard to imagine this being reported differently in Japan, and this research perhaps marking a turning point in upgraded mask use in Japan. I can’t confirm this though as I lack the necessary language skills to turn up better info.

        Something else they’re apparently big on lately, more than the west, is indoor CO2 monitoring.

        Still early days for Japan and Omicron, though.

        1. MonkeyBusiness

          This is not correct. Japanese aren’t Americans, and I’ve also been to Japan three times. In Japan, wearing masks in public has been a long established practice (going back 100 years), meaning there’s no stigma attached to it. You have flu/alergy and you are going out? It’s expected that you will wear a mask.

          South Koreans have been wearing masks since the start of the pandemic too and yet their case numbers are noticeably worse than the Japanese.

          I am not saying masks aren’t useful because they are, but attributing the apparent success of the Japanese in containing the virus to masks is not quite correct in my opinion. It’s probably a combination of things. Their diet is much healthier for example. Japan is one of the least obese countries in the world, with just 6.2% of the population counted as obese. The vaccines combined with healthy diet and who knows what else might be behind what we are looking at right now.

          1. Basil Pesto

            In Japan, wearing masks in public has been a long established practice (going back 100 years), meaning there’s no stigma attached to it. You have flu/alergy and you are going out? It’s expected that you will wear a mask.

            No I know that, what I’m wondering is whether there was some point recently where people in Japan switched from regular surgical/cotton 4-ply etc masks to standardised respirators (KN95, P2 etc.) and whether the publicising of that research in October might have been a catalyst for that change. By way of potential analogue, Italy has just mandated FFP2 masks specifically indoors.

            1. EarlyGray

              The vast majority of masks seen here in Tokyo are still the regular surgical/cotton masks. Respirators are relatively uncommon.

        2. SKM

          They are also using the drug which shall not be named (IVM) but it is impossible to find out to what extent…… however this couldn`t be a decisive factor unless its use was universal. Good masking pratices plus widespread use of the drug (I think this started after the last largish outbreak) though??

            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              > The Yomiuri is one of the five major newspapers in Japan.

              Thank you very much for the search. This is the Tokyo Medical Association story yet again, and (see below) shows to my mind that the use of IVM in Japan for Covid treatment was not widespread in Japan as of 2021-08-19 (contrary to some of that drug’s overheated advocates. If there’s off-label use, let that be shown).

              I Google-translated the article:

              I don’t want to put work on your desk, but can you find anything more recent?

              1. MonkeyBusiness

                I suddenly remembered there’s a reason why Yahoo JP still exists …


                From this month, so looks like the Aichi Prefectural Government is trialing the use of IVM to treat the Coronavirus. Nagoya, the capital of Aichi prefecture is both a manufacturing and shipping hub in Central Honshu (Japan main island).
                Perhaps people have heard of this little company called Toyota? Its HQ is in Nagoya. Anyway, my point is the trial is being done in a major prefecture.

                Anyway, I only did a 5 minutes search because today is XMas. If I find more in the next few days, I’ll post the links here.

          1. jdr

            Japanese living in Japan, with medical relatives. We are not using IVM, although it is not prohibited. What is happening is that insurance-covered testing is severely limited, and there are no widely available and reliable rapid tests (unlike our neighbor SK, which has excellent testing). There are some PCR / antigen tests that are reasonable ($20-30), but the majority are $200-300. Also, if you test positive, you are required to go to designated hospitals to isolate, and I think all household members and close contacts are also required to isolate (which would be considered a huge social faux pas and burden to others, not a light decision in a shame-based culture). So part of the reason of the low case numbers is that all the asymptomatic and mild cases are going undetected.

            There were articles recently on the possibility of genetic immunity due to a human leukocyte antigen called HLA-A24 (referenced in the WaPo article).

            My more cynical friends were saying that the government was deliberately undercounting cases in the lead up to the Oct 31 elections. However, that still doesn’t explain the relatively low death rate despite our high density and average age.

            We’ve closed our borders, but US military personnel can easy enter, and there’s widespread anger near bases that they are spreading COVID:

            My personal pet theory is that most of us don’t trust the government after the Tohoku disaster, so when they say “don’t panic, it’s not a [pandemic, nuclear meltdown, etc.],” we immediately assume the worst, and in this case, went into self imposed lockdown quickly. Plus we’ve had multiple pandemic practice via SARS, MERS, etc. We’re also OCD-level hygenic (which led to some interesting debates years ago about children getting autoimmune diseases because they weren’t getting enough germ exposure), mask wearing is almost 100% compliant, and most places I’ve been to have increased ventilation (although I haven’t seen a lot of CO2 monitors, except maybe in newer taxis).

            And for those of you who like Japanese food, my older folks swear they ward off COVID with natto, shitake mushrooms, and lots of green tea!

            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              I once let some black beans ferment to the point of developing some mucilaginous-in-texture biofilm develop between the beans. I really didn’t like it and couldn’t get past the mucilaginous biofilm. If the biofilm were washed off, would some of the bio-chem health benefits still reside in the beans?

              Or in the case of natto itself, if the biofilm were washed off, would some of the beneficial immune-supporting nutrients remain within the beans themselves?

              And is the effect of natto, shitake mushrooms and green tea additive? Or cross-multiplicative?

        3. EarlyGray

          Something else they’re apparently big on lately, more than the west, is indoor CO2 monitoring.

          This was a thing even before the pandemic. Back in the days when I worked in an office, a colleague brought a CO2 monitor to work and used it to try to persuade management to get a better ventilation system installed. The issue then was people feeling very sleepy in the afternoon. There are government regulations about air quality and apparently we were in breach at the time. We soon moved to a much better office, not sure how much my colleagues efforts were a factor in the decision.

      3. hidflect

        There’s always a percentage of the population who don’t comply, insisting on going to dive bars and other places. They eventually got burnt out.

      1. Soredemos

        Given the Japanese government handling of things like the Fukushima meltdown, I’m pretty sure there are in fact plenty of Fatchii Tounei’s.

    1. Larry Y

      Pre-pandemic, when I visited Japan in the fall, masks were much more common. The other thing I noticed was that many of the hotel rooms provided humidifiers.

      I recommend to go leaf peeping in Japan. Temples and other attractions have special hours and events. Loved the outdoor food festivals. It’s like the cherry blossom season but spread over a longer period of time and less crowded.

    2. EarlyGray

      My suspicion is they are just more willing to do the things to reduce transmission.

      This is a big thing in my opinion. It’s not just the almost 100% mask compliance, it’s also other measures. For example, even during the winter here in Tokyo, every train carriage has a window kept slightly open for better ventilation. I wonder if it’s the same in northern Japan which can get much colder?

      Another theory I’ve seen floated recently is genetics, though I’m not qualified to evaluate how true this might be. It’d be interesting to see if there is data showing a lower infection/death rate among ethnically Japanese populations abroad, especially in hard-hit countries like the US or Brazil.

  7. Michael Ismoe

    RE: Starbucks sign

    “…only 41% of our customers thought that we get to know them.”

    For God’s sake, you are buying a cup of over-roasted, bitter coffee. Which genius MBA thinks I want to take my barista home with me?

    1. David N

      A lot of Starbucks and other coffee shops for that matter hire predominantly good looking people aged 18-25. The idea is likely that many customers will get a dopamine hit from having an attractive young person say their name — with a smile even.

      1. anon y'mouse

        in this connection starved, isolated and overly footloose population, they want the employees to “connect” to give the customers a sense of community, caring and friendship so that they will return again and again to maintain the “relationship”.

        it’s called emotional labor, and can be just as damaging to the giver as direct psychological abuse. especially since it must be maintained even when customers become directly abusive verbally or physically, and when it is constantly monitored over at the risk of direct economic damage to the employee for failing to “satisfy” emotional demands. i personally liken it to forcing the employees into affective prostitution.

        in a traditional coffeehouse, regulars and staff fall into this kind of thing more or less organically. in a massmarketed chain store, they of course want to try to outcompete small fryguys on every element while serving slop at breakneck speed. so the emotional connection and convenience factor (and having driven actual competitor local coffee shops out of business) is supposed to keep the dough rolling in.

        1. Robert Hahl

          They do the same to the staff at Trader Joe’s. Very creepy. That is why I shop at Giant, where the staff seems properly adjusted to the working conditions, not too happy, not too surly.

          1. jr

            Trader Joes’s is creepy for sure. The staff is dressed like they are on vacation. There is a forced, often tired exuberance in their voices.

          2. Joe Well

            They have stopped that since the pandemic. No one has commented on my purchases since March 2020, thank God.

      2. Anthony Noel

        Lots of business do this. When I was in university my buddy’s girlfriend at the time worked at a men’s clothing store, Tip Top Tailors. All the shifts were covered by a pair. A pretty girl in her early to mid 20’s, and a good looking guy in his mid 30’s. The good looking male in the suit was the aspirational, buy our clothing and you can look at least a little bit as good as this guy, and the pretty girl to tell you that yup you do look pretty darn good in that suit, jacket, shirt etc.

    2. The Rev Kev

      ‘Which genius MBA thinks I want to take my barista home with me?’

      To be honest, that is going to depend-

      But you are quite right. Those managers want their baristas to pretend to be everybody’s friend to bring in more business but a toxic manager will always make their presence felt with the people that work under them and which customers can quickly see.

      1. anon y'mouse

        perceptive customers can note the toxic manager and sometimes quietly remark on it to the employees in a commiserating way, but only very rarely will they cease spending money in such places, even after observing a manager on meltdown berating an employee to tears, or noting that all of the staff looks beaten down, stressed etc.

        and that’s all that matters—their money in the till.

      2. Ozz

        Seems like a lot of people should read the book “How to Win Friends and Influence People”. It works. I always recognize a person with a name tag by their name. I always speak with the people that I come incontact with whether I am out getting lunch or working. It’s not hard to recognize people thoughtfully and manners are free. I think it is a generational thing, maybe not, but we get in such a hurry now days. Many businesses just want the money. I prefer to spend mine where they recognize you are indeed a person not just a ten dollar bill.

        Baristas are like bartenders you take care of them they take care of you. I cannot tell you how many on the house lattes I have been gifted with.

        1. anon y'mouse

          opinions vary.

          i do not like name tags, and will find a way to wear one that obscures my name.

          you are a customer. you are not my friend and we have not been introduced socially by the mere fact that i am wearing a mandated identifier and trying to help you make purchases at a commercial establishment.

          politeness can be shown in many other ways. i find using my name rude and creepily intrusive. and if you ask what it is, i presume it is to report me for not being satisfactory.

          but others may enjoy it. i have been stalked, and interacted with in my personal life by customers who thought that they “knew” me when i was just trying to go about my business anonymously.

        2. coryP

          Because it’s not common in casual speech, whenever someone addresses me by name, especially in a commercial environment, I get creeped out and my hackles get raised

          I do have many people lying to me in my line of work so I always have to be on the lookout for that. But addressing someone by name to their face– to me this is such an unusual and aberrant social behavior that I automatically assume that they’re some creep trying to use a manipilation technique they read about in a self help book.

          1. coryP

            (Note that there’s a difference between “hi Cory!” As a salutation, VS “Oh I’ve had such a tough week, Cory. Can you refill my script early?”) YMMV

          2. Yves Smith

            Me too. It’s to assert dominance. Salesmen do this all the time, faux friendly familiarity. Meant to on your heels if you can’t quickly use their first name in a reply. And they win anyhow because they’ve defined the terms of the exchange: “Oh see, I pay careful attention to who you are, you either respond in kind or admit you are a jerk/uncaring.”

      3. drumlin woodchuckles

        If any one particular Starbucks is more toxic than most in this regard, and if its working victims can somehow get word to enough of their customers, perhaps they and the customers together could arrange a slow stealthy tiptoe-away from that Starbucks.

        If there were another coffee place within easy daily-lifestyle walking of the toxic Starbucks, and those customers who were in on the plan all switched their business and their money to the one same designated other coffee place, would it do so much more business that it would need to hire some new people to handle the new business? If so, some of the toxic Starbucks victim-workers could become those new people by “following the money” over to the designated other coffee place.

        It would need some measure of planning. It might even need some measure of pre-participation by the runners of the other coffee place.

        If it worked one time, it could work other times. And Starbucks could slowly be deleted from existence, one toxic Starbucks at a time, like fireflies winking out. All except for that one lonely unionised Starbucks. That one should still be supported, and so should any other Starbuckses that can go Union. Because one trusts the Union would de-toxify those particular Starbuckses.

      4. drumlin woodchuckles

        Is a male barista, of whom I have seen a few, called a baristo? If not, should we begin to call them such?

        Or should we be Woke and say ” baristx”?

  8. The Rev Kev

    ‘I would just pause to note that this is an epic photograph, potent with symbolism, that is going to go down in history. Taken by Tyrone Siu of Reuters’

    No it won’t. The “Goddess of Democracy” statue was quite a classy work but the “Pillar of Shame” was only ever propaganda as much as some of those Confederate statues were. Danish artist Jens Galschiøt, who created this statue, was outraged that they did this to him and wants the statue returned to Denmark so that he can repair it before sending it on to Washington DC where he hopes that it can be placed in front of the Chinese Embassy. See? It’s a propaganda piece. Not that he would never suggest sending it elsewhere to be erected, say, at Wounded Knee for example. And Washington might even take up his suggestion. After all, there is a Victims of Communism Memorial in DC. But if you Google for a Victims of Capitalism Memorial, you are likely going to get a 404 page instead. That sort of memorial will never be allowed in the “free” west.

      1. JBird4049

        I’m thinking that he would be cancelled. His saying “if freedom means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear” is dangerous to those noble lies and safe places some are so fixated on.

    1. Objective Ace

      The Victims of Communism Memorial in DC: back when we were in the office I always remarked how ironic it was that the victims of capitalism – DC’s homeless – found solitude there as it was shady, had benchess, and was far enough from any businesses that the weren’t disturbing anyome

  9. timbers

    Butter as a food group and What President Joe Manchin Ought To Do

    Stumbled upon a new nutrition topic – Vitamin K2. It’s related to vitamin K. Within K2 there are presently 2 important versions: MK4 and MK7.

    Current thinking is K2 helps body manage calcium to keep bones strong and remove it from arteries to keep heart and veins clear and that includes those in the brain it might help mentally as we age, lowers insulin needs and glucose levels, and has anti cancer properties. And blood clotting of course.

    The best sources of K2 – MK7 is fermented soybeans called Natto in Japan, and K2 – MK4 reside in smelly European cheeses like Roquefort, Jarlsburg, Gouda, Feta, Edan, and others. Also eggs, chicken, goose liver. Anything grass fed seems to have more K2 MK4, while fermenting seems to be the road to K2 MK7.

    Because the European cheeses use fermentation, they also have decent amounts of the MK7 version of K2 but Natto beats everything else by miles. And because they are more likely grass fed and processed better vs US, they have much more MK4. Natto is currently almost unknown and hard to get in the States (though it looks like Vermont is making it) and warnings that it’s slimy and smelly you either hate it or love it, I’m going with the European cheeses for now. They taste better than American cheeses, too.

    American cheeses and meat and poultry have much less than European due to not being grass feed (affects MK4) and maybe less fermentation (affects MK7). In spite of all that, American butter makes the list of K2 sources, but the amounts it has pales in comparison to European butter, cheese, eggs, meat, chicken, etc.

    About President Joe Manchin.

    If he is serious about inflation evils and deficits and wasteful spending, he should really push a proposal to outsource our $1 trillion military budget to the Russians who spend about 5% of what the U.S. does and yet I’m seeing a growing number of articles suggesting Russia has achieved “military supremacy” over the U.S. is a growing number of areas.

    President Machin should propose we zero out the $1 trillion defense budget, and give the Russians $30 billion for starters with instructions they give us the same military goodness the Russians have.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Natto is, to put it mildly, something of an acquired taste, although its not bad with vinegar and mustard. Its pretty common now to find it hidden away in the freezer section of an Asian supermarket, usually in annoying Styrofoam tubs. I find its quite nice mixed in with kimchi in an instant miso soup, or just add it in if making fried rice. Japanese swear by its health benefits, but I don’t know how much of that is marketing. But K2 is certainly a very important vitamin.

      1. Basil Pesto

        I hear that serving it with fried onions is another way to make it more palatable – the sweetness of the onions takes the edge off.

      2. timbers

        Thanks. There is a huge Asian supermarket near me. They took over an entire mini-mall and turned it into an Asian shopping center…everything from dry cleaning, gift shops, food market, etc. A self contained Asia in the heart of Quincy, Massachusetts. The “American” health food store down the street from this hadn’t heard of Natto. Knew I should have tried the Asian food store first but it slipped my mind.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          If its anything like in Ireland, you won’t find it in a Chinese shop, but Korean places usually stock it. There are many brands and they almost never say ‘natto’ 納豆 on the front and the writing is always in Japanese script – presumably they don’t market them to non-Japanese. Its usually in bound packs of 3 or 4 styrofoam tubs – every brand I’ve seen uses the exact same packaging for some reason.

      3. Oh

        I heard that Natto has medicinal properties. A friend of mine had a heart problem and started taking natto regularly. He said that it really helped.
        The person at the Korean store told me to mix natto with kimchi and or miso to stay healthy. Although I don’t care for the taste of natto or Kimchi, I’m inclined to acquire a taste for it.

      4. lambert strether

        > Natto is, to put it mildly, something of an acquired taste

        I originally read “Natto” — after reading about the Kagans — as “NATO,” and so I’m nodding along….

    2. Michael McK

      Leafy greens such as kale and spinach have loads of K as well (as K1 which we convert to K2). Kimchee is leafy and fermented!

    3. drumlin woodchuckles

      There are American grass-fed cheeses available in certain specialty artisanal cheese outlets.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          No, there are places which actually carry actual grassfed animal cheese. If you live near those places, you can get the actual cheese.

          If you live out of reach of those places, then all you have is Cheese ****access***, yes.

          Is it different in Australia?

  10. Mildred Montana

    >Balfour Beatty Communities to pay millions in fines after pleading guilty to defrauding military Federal News Network

    Sure, the ??????? gets fined immediately. After all the cost is just passed on to shareholders.

    As far as ??????????? go, here’s what’s happening (or not happening) with two of the principals of the company:


    “[Rick] Cunefare is scheduled to be sentenced at a later date and faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. [Stacy] Cabrera is scheduled to be sentenced at a later date and faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.”

    This was late spring 2021. So, six months later, no sentences for actual ??????. I can’t sit on the edge of my seat much longer. But then, I should know by now that justice delayed for white-collar crime is SOP. By the time the usual slap-on-the-wrist is administered, most of those following the case have forgotten or don’t care anymore.

    Anyway, suppliers defrauding the military ain’t exactly news. It is a hallowed American tradition dating all the way back to the Revolution and has been kept green ever since. Fortunes have been made. More will be.

  11. You're soaking in it!

    Obligatory movie quote re: “Hijacking Beethoven”

    “I’ts a sin! It’s a sin!”

    “What’s all this about sin, then?”

    “It’s a sin using Ludwig van like that!! Lovely, lovely Ludwig van, who never did no harm to anybody!!!”

    “So you’re keen on music, eh?”

  12. The Rev Kev

    “This Scientist Created a Rapid Test Just Weeks Into the Pandemic. Here’s Why You Still Can’t Get It. ”

    Maybe because Bill Gates never flew in to give his advice on what to do and to give access to his personal network of contacts. But this test was quick & cheap and could have been readily available in Year One but the FDA fobbed them off. Like how that American manufacturer of masks could get no contracts from the government the first year too, in spite of the fact that there was a desperate shortage of them. So it wasn’t until much larger companies were able to invent similar tests that the FDA took any notice. But I cannot shake the idea that perhaps some of those larger companies were given access to Bosch’s tech data to give them a head start on developing a test that the FDA would accept. Must be the cynic in me.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      And that first year was a Trump year, so when people note that Biden has overseen more covid deaths than Trump has, it should be remembered that Trump took an embryonic disease and turned it into a raging forest-fire epidemic which he then handed off to President Biden, along with the wonderful beautiful Operation Warp Speed mRNA vaccinoids.

      Trump’s studied refusal to direct the FedGov to order domestic production of mass quantities of tests and masks was part of how Trump gave Biden a hand which was more bad than good. I hate the Democrats as much as any other reasonable person, but my hated doesn’t blind me to Trump’s foundational role in all this.

  13. Pat

    Dear Starbucks,

    The problem is not your staff being friendly, the problem is that you have cut back on staffing. I don’t suppose you have equated your increased mobile ordering with people not wanting to engage with your baristas, but with few exceptions that is the case. Not to mention that mobile ordering has increased volume without crowding the stores. They may look emptier, so you think you only need X number of people. As a long time Starbucks customer I can tell you you are wrong. Your baristas are too busy trying to do the work of three people to engage more with the customers.

    But nice of you to cutback on hours and then blame them for a situation you created.

    Sincerely disgusted.

    1. cnchal

      > As a long time Starbucks customer . . .

      Why? They sell liquified sugar and call it coffee.

      I never go there voluntarily and when dragged to the place I order plain black coffee and it tastes like crud. No wonder they have to disguise it with heaps of sugar.

      As for the demand that servers get to know customers and fake smile at them, I call that the Walmart greeter effect writ large.

      1. Pat

        I’m not a big coffee drinker, at best I like a little coffee flavoring with my milk and sugar Their tea is decent and in the summer their ice tea relatively well priced compared to the stuff you get at a diner or most other places.

        If I were a real coffee drinker, I am sure Starbucks would not suit me, but for what I get they do. And while that may be changing I appreciated that their pay was decent and they had benefits certainly when compared with only fast chains.

      2. lyman alpha blob

        Right on – just don’t do it. Wherever there’s a Starbucks, there’s bound to be a local coffee shop nearby (that Starbucks would like to put out of business) that you can frequent instead.

        There’s one across the street from my office that makes a cup of coffee that will keep you hanging from the ceiling for hours. Plus, the Dunkin Donuts across the street from them went out of business due to the rona, so I’ve noticed the indy coffee shop has recently started carrying donuts from a local bakery several blocks down the street. And the donuts are baked with lard, just like grandma used to make! Bet you can’t get that at Starbucks.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Every time I visit my brother in Saratoga Springs , New York, I go to the Uncommon Grounds coffee place.

          One time when I wanted to go there and there was an event in town, the line out the door was so long and hardly-moving that I gave up and remembered there was a Starbucks down the street. So I went there.

          There was no line and there was hardly anybody inside. Maybe that could be part of Starbucks’s advertising. ” There’s AL-ways room at the Starbucks!”

      3. praxis

        I find the appeal of starbucks is that they sell consistent crud. When i do my long distance driving ones choices for are often the gas station coffee lottery or starbucks. I’ll take the consistency. As for the syrup stuff, yuck.

        1. cnchal

          When I drive long distances (a thousand miles or moar in one go) I go to a Pilot and get the biggest cup of crud they have. One big sip and I’m good for another hundred miles.

          For short drives (500 miles or so) McDonalds, one medium black and it lasts the whole way. It helps that I like my coffee cold.

          Starbucks is invisible to me.

          1. Joe Renter

            At McDonalds they server Seattle’s Best coffee. Which is owned by guess who?
            Starbucks (bought is 2003).
            I worked up the street in Pike Place market from the original Starbucks.
            Like others who have posted, if I am on a road trip I will go there. I don’t mind over roasted bean too much. What I really don’t like is the new generation roasters whose idea of perfect tasting coffee is much too bright or bitter to my liking. But I am considered old. And I still drink a lot of coffee.

    2. anon y'mouse

      But nice of you to cutback on hours and then blame them for a situation you created.

      every single place i have ever worked as a front line employee has had this going on. even as the staff tries to satisfy the ever shifting, ever increasing and directly conflicting demands of some manager three steps above them that they will likely never see.

      ____ rolls downhill.

      1. Katniss Everdeen

        There is a link in the comment section of that tweet to a Reddit thread titled “In case you would like to know what it’s like working at Starbucks.” This comment from that thread is hilarious, pathetic and edifying:

        Having worked in a “not-Starbucks” coffee shop, it’s an industry-wide problem.

        Our boss wanted us to “get to know everyone who walks through the door” because “this isn’t Starbucks” and “we’re different,” but anytime he came in and there was more than a 2-deep line, he’d get all huffy and jump behind the counter and lecture us about moving the line. Then when it cleared in 5 min, we’d have nothing to do, and he’d get mad that we weren’t sweeping clean floors or re-wiping clean counters. So, we’d be doing that when a customer came in, which would make us miss a greeting, and that’d bring us right back to “get to know every one…”

        It’s an ouroboros of micromanagement from which many workplaces suffer, but it’s especially prevalent in industries where management are glorified schedule-makers.

        It’s the “ouroboros” part I found “edifying.” Accurate too.

        Ouroboros: The ouroboros or uroboros is an ancient symbol depicting a serpent or dragon eating its own tail.

        Of course there are also the more obvious and practical comments like this one, with which I also agree:

        No business with a drive thru needs to prioritize connecting with customers. Give me my coffee and keep it moving

        1. anon y'mouse

          keeping it moving is what i’m known for, in an efficient and smooth and hopefully accurate manner. as well as diagnosing problems and straightening them out, even if this requires research. i am also quite good at finding unusual solutions to customer needs. but, while polite, i’m not going to be your “best friend” and gawk at pictures of your vacation while i do that.

          if you want small talk about your children while trying to be upsold to more expensive (or just more) products, please do go to the extroverts. in fact, most places should just start saying “extroverts only, please for your sanity and ours” in their hiring materials.

          businesses don’t want the former anymore, really. and telephone customer service, although designed to be just that, is also supposed to be another “personalization” and “upselling” platform now, if you can manage to get someone on the phone at all. they have mostly outsourced the troubleshooting line to another country, one guesses because of labor costs.

    3. eg

      I avoid Starbucks unless absolutely cornered into going, which was mercifully rare while working and virtually never now that I’m retired. I have no idea what the attraction of the place is suppose to be.

    1. Samuel Conner

      Hope this is valid, but will not let guard down.

      I will continue to believe that not contracting the virus remains protective against long COVID.

    2. juanholio

      Doesn’t seem accurate to me. Hardly surprising considering the source and author have a known agenda, and bias against the needle. Just this week, the first uk omicron death was a case of reinfection. It happens all the time with Coronaviruses.

      1. Nikkikat

        The epoch times is run by crazy John Bircher types. Hair was standing on end after a paragraph after finding one in my mail box. Do not know how that happened. But it was
        Ike some kinda cult.

      2. Katniss Everdeen

        Yes, beware. Mercola is one of the “dirty disinformation dozen” along with the dastardly likes of RFK, Jr.

        We should only get our information from reputable sources such as nyt, wapo, the cdc, fda and various state “public health” officers like dr. david scrase from New Mexico, as described in the Ivermectin myth creation link above:

        New Mexico became a key player in a broad pattern of governmental deception late last summer to portray ivermectin as dangerous, in tandem with three related developments. Research strongly supported the drug’s efficacy against covid; prescriptions were soaring; and public health officials were single-mindedly focused not on treatment but on vaccination.

        Speaking of “agendas,” that is.

        1. lambert strether

          This may come as a shock to you, but just because a source is not mainstream doesn’t make it good. And jus because a source is bad doesn’t make it mis- or disinformation. That goes for Epoch Times. It also goes for Mercola, and don’t @ me,

    3. Pat

      Reinfection was common in recent outbreak in South Africa. IM Doc reported he had two reinfection cases in a post earlier this week. So no it is not accurate.

    4. Duke of Prunes

      My daughter and her boyfriend (mid 20s) are both reinfected now. For them, “protected for life” was almost exactly one year. Both are vaxxed, one with a few month old j&j, the other double Pfizer about 8 Mos ago. Daughter also tested positive for the flu. Fortunately, they didn’t get very sick the first time, and don’t seem too sick today. Does put a damper on Christmas, but, luckily, my wife and I have avoided it so far.

    5. Michael McK

      A friend of mine has had Covid 3 times. Sick as a dog for 2 weeks the first time then a cold then sniffles. She was vaxxed after the second time, the first 2 times were before the vax existed.

  14. jrkrideau

    RE : Strategic Misdirection: An Alternate Framework for Understanding Russia’s Play in Ukraine

    The Russian Foreign Ministry has just released drafts of its proposed treaties with the US and NATO. It looks like this essay has become obsolete rather quickly. It also suggests that the authors’ grasp of Russian policy and thinking is just a trifle shakey, at least from my cursory reading of the Ex Summary.

    1. Maxwell Johnston

      Agreed. It doesn’t show Russian thinking. But it’s quite an insight into how The Blob thinks, for 36 painful pages. Warning label: the chief author (Frederick Kagan) is the brother of Robert Kagan and thus the brother-in-law of Victoria Nuland. Frederick Kagan has taught at West Point, was an advisor during both the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, and now works for the American Enterprise Institute.

  15. Tom Stone

    I have noticed a curious overlap, most of those I am acquainted with who still believe RUSSIA!!! hacked the DNC servers also believe that the drug that must not be named is very dangerous indeed.
    They also share one other characteristic, College degrees.
    Suggesting that they read the sworn Testimony of Shawn Henry before the House permanent committee on Intelligence or the meta analysis of the 31 RCT’s and 40 observational studies of IVM’s effectiveness is greeted with anger.

    1. Screwball

      Same here. Just yesterday they were yapping about that stupid Joe Rogan and Aaron Rodgers taking horse paste – how stupid they were – yada yada.

      It apparently hasn’t occurred to them that the two get better. How did that happen, magic? Don’t care – they didn’t take the shot and that is all that matters. They are the scum of the earth – just like anyone else who doesn’t tow the company line.

      Not a miracle drug but seems to have upside potential, limited risk, and cheap. Why the hate? I don’t get it.

      What’s that degree in?

      On another note. Maybe the commentariat can help. I have read here, and did a search and found a little information, but not enough, about Povidone. Some here mentioned using this.

      If this is allowed, can anyone share how the use this? A mouthwash? A nasal rinse? If so, how are you creating your “mixture” and how are you applying it if used as a nasal rinse? Could some be mixed with water and used with a Neti Pot?

      Thanks in advance.

      1. Lunker Walleye

        I’m also looking for more information about Povidone and using it for either a mouthwash or a nasal rinse. Thanks to anybody who can provide a reference to recipe/s

          1. grayslady

            Hate to prick a pin in this balloon, but Stanford did a study following Dr. Domb’s recommendation. I couldn’t find evidence that the study has been published yet, but the article makes it fairly clear that simple saline spray, used 3 times per day, was almost equal to a povidone nasal spray.

            Also, when researching the povidone use for nasal spray and separate povidone gargle, I came upon a paper from a professional chemistry group that advised not to make up your own spray/gargle at home. The reason? The typical drugstore povidone-iodine, in addition to needing to be diluted, contains several potentially harmful ingredients compared with products made especially for nose/throat. Specifically, inactive ingredients in the Betadine Antiseptic include citric acid, disodium phosphate, glycerin, nonoxymol-9 (typically used as a spermicide), and sodium hydroxide. By comparison, my Betadine Cold Defence Nasal Spray contains only carrageenan and water as inactive ingredients. The group also noted that since the Betadine antiseptic was not meant to be ingested, it didn’t have to meet the same exacting requirements as to percentage of ingredients. For example, the iodine concentration was allowed to vary between 85% and 120% because the antiseptic is only a topical preparation.

            Also, the official Betadine mouthwash can be found at most Walgreen’s stores at about the same price as a bottle of Betadine antiseptic.

            Caveat emptor if you decide to make your own.

            1. Yves Smith

              A big study out of Bangladesh found that povidone iodine, gargled, nose drops, and eye drops every four hours (IMHO eye drops overkill if you wear glasses and are not touching face near eyes, not sure otherwise) reduced Covid infection and hospitalization rates by >90%.

              The difference is massive but they used a 1% solution and administered it every 4 hours. Most other studies used 0.45%, 0.5% or at most 0.6% solutions as well as less frequent administration. Too weak a dose of any treatment is likely to produce unimpressive to no results.

              Betadine mouthwash is not in a high enough concentration. Only 0.5%.

              Seems other ways of linking look more questionable, sorry for Google link:


              Oh, and their control was a saline spray.

              Dunno where you found your iodine, but I have straight up 10% iodone and dilute it. Only other ingredients besides water are glycerine (not problematic) and sodium hydroxide, again not problematic if sufficiently diluted (my dentist insisted I gargle some as the new ADA protocol for getting any dental treatment, presumably to protect the dentist). The 10% povidone is meant to be used topically and hence whatever sodium hydroxide has to be weak enough to use on open wounds.

              BTW also considerably reduces plaque. I am good about dental maintenance but have snaggly lower front teeth that are very hard to clean fully. Major reduction in plaque in the difficult to reach parts.

              1. R

                Your plaque comment is interesting. I have been wondering if my regular iodine mouth and nose spray has reduced my plaque. I don’t gave any way of quantifying so it’s not even anecdata!

                Betadine is hard to obtain in thevUK. I gave been using 15% Lugols solution (elemental iodine in aqueous potassium iodide) and diluting to taste, literally. A few drops in a small glass of water (for some reason, the word “peg” came to mind, like chota peg – makes a change from quinine!). If it goes mid brown and tastes like swimming pool, I assume its strong enough.

                I have bought some little plastic atomiser bottles from Ama*on. It makes it very easy to have a quick spritz before and after venturing out. It is also easy to spritz the nose, just tilt you head on one side like an inquisitive robin and give it a blast up the nostril then repeat on the other side. I took these with me to Italy and Norway in hand luggage with no trouble.

      2. Michael

        My notes:
        Povodine Iodine PVP-1
        1% mouthwash (Betadine)
        Should get you to more info from others more qualified

          1. Basil Pesto

            huh, interesting, in the Australian market at least betadine sore throat gargle is 1% PVP-I (I just checked the bottle)

      3. John Zelnicker

        @Screwball and others above – Povidone-Iodine (Betadine) can be obtained at most drug stores (if they aren’t out of it).

        Usually it comes in a 10% solution and has to be diluted to 0.5-1.0%, or between a 9 to 1 and a 19 to 1 mixture. Too much iodine can have damaging effects on your thyroid gland.

        Use it as a nasal spray, getting it way back in there, and gargle with it.

        I couldn’t find empty nasal spray bottles, so I got some saline nasal spray, emptied the bottles, and filled them with my diluted solution. Works great.

        I spray and gargle every time I come home from being in a crowded place.

        Again, be careful not to use it too often so you don’t affect your thyroid.

        1. Oh

          Did you know that when you use salt for your neti pot the instructions state that only non iodized salt is to be used? Using povidone-iodine for nasal cleansing is contrary to this advice. Just saying..

          1. John Zelnicker

            Oh – Yes, iodine affects the thyroid and nasal spray must be used sparingly. I mentioned that twice in my comment. Did you read all of it?

            Personally, I try not to use it more than twice a day. With the low concentration recommended, that shouldn’t have a deleterious effect.

      4. Lee

        There are a number of papers on the topic. When having to go into enclosed spaces with other people (remember, Sartre said “hell is other people”) I use a 0.5% solution intranasally and as a gargle. Don’t swallow it. A 10% solution is generally available OTC at pharmacies for a reasonable price. Then dilute with 19 parts water to 1 part 10% solution to produce 0.5% solution.

        Povidone Iodine Mouthwash, Gargle, and Nasal Spray to Reduce Nasopharyngeal Viral Load in Patients With COVID-19
        A Randomized Clinical Trial
        JAMA Network

        Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is primarily transmitted person-to-person through the aerosolization of droplets containing contaminated nasopharyngeal secretions.1 Povidone iodine (PI) solutions at concentrations as low as 0.5% rapidly inactivate SARS-CoV-2 in vitro with contact times as short as 15 seconds.2 We investigated whether nasopharyngeal application of PI could reduce the viral load of patients with nonsevere coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) symptoms.

      5. pasha

        as a teacher, i used to suffer a lot from winter colds and sore throats. then about twenty years ago a friend turned me on to salt water rinse neti pot lavage, before school and upon arrival home. didn’t need to take a sick day for a decade thereafter. it isn’t just the rinse, it changes nasal PH, making the passages inhospitable to virus and bacteria

        just anecdotal, i know, but i still use my neti before and after leaving home. combined with mask use, i’ve been lucky so far

    2. BlueMoose

      Tom, there is no need to spend hours trudging through all that info when you can just turn on CNN and get all ‘the Science’ you need to be well informed in under 30 seconds. They have already done all the heavy lifting for you! (/s just in case)

    3. Screwball

      I just read another dandy from the PMC class. They are now figuring out the jabs are not sterilizing, so guess what – who said they ever were. Seriously, show me the proof where anyone, ANYONE, said they were the end all to the virus.

      No wonder we are in this mess.

        1. Screwball

          Thanks, I looked for that and couldn’t find it. Probably wouldn’t matter – they would poo-poo it anyway – with some BS excuse.

            1. LawnDart

              Posting it at Daily Kos got me banned

              By simply not mentioning certain subjects, by lowering … an iron curtain between the masses and such facts or arguments as the local political bosses regard as undesirable, Totalitarian Propagandists have influenced opinion much more effectively than they could have done by the most eloquent denunciations, the most compelling of logical rebuttals.


              Did they at least call you names as they barred the door?

    4. drumlin woodchuckles

      Don’t a lot of Republicans also have college degrees?

      One wonders if Democrat Liberals and Republicans have college degrees in different subjects or clusters of subjects.

      After all, a degree in Petroleum Engineering or Petroleum Geology is a degree. But how many Clintonites got their degree in Petroleum Engineering or Petroleum Geology?

  16. The Rev Kev

    “Strategic Misdirection: An Alternate Framework for Understanding Russia’s Play in Ukraine ”

    I really do think that at this stage, that the Russians have given up on American leadership due to who the system pushes forward. If you do not believe me, then just think back on who the Democratic Presidential nominees were not that long ago. And the Republican ones are just as bad. Why won’t the system allow people to come forward that are pragmatic, practical, well-versed in American history and have a large dose of common sense? Instead people are being told to take someone like Kamala Harris seriously.

    The Saker gave two examples on what the Russian have to deal with. So for example, US Secretary of State Blinken said-

    ‘A few guiding premises animated our work this year. One is that American engagement – American leadership – matters. The world doesn’t organize itself. When we’re not engaged, when we don’t lead, then one of two things happens: either some other country tries to take our place, but probably not in a way that advances our interests and values, or no one does, and then you get chaos. Either way, it doesn’t serve the American people.’

    Yeah, I don’t even know where to begin with that one so I will move onto the next example. So for years now the US has been placing illegal sanctions on Russia and making the EU do the same. So with things like agriculture, Russia decided to replace sanctioned imports with home-grown replacements and put into place retaliatory sanctions. Now the US wants to take Russia to the WTO for doing this. In addition, the article below says that Russia ‘has maintained non-science-based agricultural import restrictions.’ Reading between the lines, I think that means that Russia has refused to import genetically engineered crops. Here is that article-

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      My guess is they know Biden is looking for foreign policy wins, given his failed domestic status, so Putin and Xi aren’t going to oblige and are simply alerting Biden before he gets in over his head. There won’t be any non peaceful easy victories and claims Biden will be better in 2025 like Obama’s second term claims simply won’t be entertained.

      Obama saw success in Libya and became a “democracy crusader” as a result. You can’t give an inch.

    2. Soredemos

      That Kagan piece is amazing. Having completely made up the idea that Russia is going to invade Ukraine, they’re now convincing themselves that maybe Putin is just posturing and isn’t serious about this thing there is literally no actual evidence he is preparing to do, as part of some grand psychological strategy.

      Our ‘experts’ have gone completely mad.

      1. ambrit

        These “experts” always were mad. They started out from an insane premise, that a nuclear war can be “won,” and swanned off into the ether from there.

    3. drumlin woodchuckles

      As the customer-base for nonGMO crops and products grows, the money-making prospects for Russian agriculture increase.

      I suspect a secondary motive for the West to support West Ukraine in its effort to conquer and subdue East Ukraine is that West Ukraine will permit pro-GMO interests to grow GMO crops right up to the Russian border in hopes of drifting GMO pollen into neighboring Russia and beginning the GMO contamination of various Russian crops.

  17. Mason

    I’m scrolling through the cited two hour briefing where they admitted Ivermectin didn’t kill the two patients but I can’t find the quote so far. If you quote a video, have a time-stamp!

  18. lakecabs

    So maybe we need a little less listening to Fauci and Walensky

    In Missouri 2020 the Democrats ran a good candidate for Governer. Nichole Galloway.

    Prior to covid I would have voted for her over Governer Parsons.

    Her positions on lockdowns and mandates had her performing worse than Biden.

    Nobody talks about the Average Joe. But the way this pandemic has been handled will loom large in 2022.

    1. Nikkikat

      Eventually, people will figure out that Biden performed worse than Trump. They will also figure out that listening to Fauci is why he did so much worse. Hope that realization comes soon. I quit listening to anything he said after the mask lie. He has continued to lie every single day.

  19. Carolinian

    Re Trump–he said he recommended the vaccine (and yes did get booed for it) but has said he would not have favored the vaccine mandate. The vax boosters have now adopted the gambit of pretending opposition to the mandate is the same as opposing all vaccines and being anti science. Politics by strawman.

    Whereas I believe many of the objectors would favor giving the vax to the most vulnerable, as part of a risk versus benefit calculation, but that universal vaxxing under emergency approval to be immensely risky–particularly since it doesn’t seem to work very well. More have now died under Biden than under Trump.

    1. fresno dan

      December 24, 2021 at 10:58 am

      FROM the ARTICLE: Another defrocked chum agrees. “Significant,” tweeted Piers Morgan. “Trump is becoming a very powerful, and very unlikely, voice in persuading America’s anti-vaxxers & vaccine sceptics to get jabbed. Most of them are his supporters”.
      And the man himself tripled down in what could have been a soft-ball interview with millennial conservative pundit Candace Owens. “Yet more people have died under Covid this year,” Owens said to Trump. “By the way, under Joe Biden, than under you and more people took the vaccine this year. So people are questioning how-“
      “Oh no,” Trump interjected. “The vaccines work.” He added his administration’s leadership was behind not one, but three vaccines — Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.
      That Trump is looking to own this issue is the surest sign yet that he’s running in 2024. Vaccine politics will likely dominate the next two (at least) election cycles and the former President will be wanting to draw attention to arguably his biggest achievement in office.
      Throughout his time out of office, Trump has stood firm on his vaccine record. Whenever the issue comes up, he has been willing to take the boos and jeers that come with it on the chin. Interestingly, the same cannot be said for the now Vice-President Kamala Harris, who famously remarked in 2020 that she wanted no part of a Donald Trump vaccine (Biden also raised doubts).
      Modern reporting is essentially making people CONSTANTLY profess the correct and EVER expanding articles of religious secular faith. Uh, just cause I never saw the article, does anyone know if Kamala got a “Donald Trump” vaccine???

      1. Carolinian

        “Whatever you’re for I’m against it” (from a Groucho song). The Dems need to get over Trump. Notice Biden says if Trump runs he may have to run too in his eighties. Being a better president might be more useful.

        What really must scare the Dems would be Trump with no tweets, acting statesmanlike and reasonable. Doesn’t seem likely though.

    2. marym

      It’s probably dependent on what people knows from their own community and their media choices, but to me it doesn’t seem as though anti-mandate proponents have always made that distinction clear either. I’ve learned a lot at NC about the arguments against a mandate. However, public protest without masks; the same language of religion and “freedom” used by some for mandates as for other mitigation measures, rather than risks and benefits in terms of personal or public health or life circumstances; and political and media figures not always making those distinctions are also failings on the anti-mandate side of the issue.

      1. Carolinian

        Perhaps the MSM show what they want to show. As for protests around here, we’ve only had nurses picketing the local hospital against being fired. The local Gannett paper–very much part of the MSM–couldn’t ignore that one.

      2. Noone from Nowheresville

        And I’ve never see anything to indicate that the pro-vaccine mandate people normally trotted out are serious about doing public health. So there’s that too.

        But I suppose it’s a very nice distraction to waste time, energy and resources for the purposes of never being forced to have a real public health conversation, or better yet, DO actual public health.

        In the meantime, the non-masked* public protesters (real and paid for) can yell at each other ad nauseam without ever noticing that the upper class is grabbing all these tasty resources AND rewriting global social contracts via the never let a crisis go to waste mantra.

        Seems like when The Jackpot starts hitting harder and faster, regardless of whether or not the Covid19 pandemic has burned itself out, we the people will be in a much worse position than we are now and less able to fend for ourselves.

        * I’d like to say for the record that there are vaccinated and unvaccinated people who don’t wear masks. Just as there are vaccinated and unvaccinated people who do wear masks.

        You are quite right in saying they & we (as opposed to us vs. them) all have their off the tip of the tongue sound bits used by their community. Or if you prefer, that their preferred media outlet favors.

        One would need to do more than scratch the surface to get the heart of an individual’s reasoning. That can be even more true if the person suspects you have an agenda, believes that you are there to belittle them or just thinks you look down on them.

        Another issue is whether or not they can speak the interviewer’s coded language to make themselves understood. Assuming they even know that language. Or if the interviewer is even there to listen and has the ability to hear and translate what the person was trying to convey.

        Much easier and less time consuming for our society to spout smackdown styled speech and coded dog whistles. If we had real conversations and actually listened then we might not like what we see about ourselves and the society we exist in.

        Maybe. Hard to say where it would lead, given where we’ve been and how we got ther.

    3. drumlin woodchuckles

      When Trump did such things as refusing to permit the FedGov to order or co-ordinate the ordering of PPE, when he obstructed various pro-public-health governors from taking public health measures every way he could, when he mocked wearing a mask as unmanly and Democratishly Blueish and encouraged his cult followers to do the same; he did his best to turn the embryonic disease into a raging pandemic. He then handed that pandemic off to Biden. So that’s where the greater death toll under Biden came from.

      Now, going forward, any further death toll is entirely due to Biden refusing to take or authorise or assist in public health measures his own self. So the pandemic will keep going and going and going.

      But Trump was the one who first got the pandemic well and truly under way by his vicious obstruction to getting it under early control. ( The WHO, the CDC, the Fauci, and other such played their secondary roles to be sure).

  20. Bricky

    I’ve always thought claims of imminent American collapse were ridiculous, not least because they’ve been made for decades and yet America was still the world’s richest, most powerful country.

    But these days, the thought occurred to me, that from the perspective of pre-9/11 year 2000 America, or even 2014 America, this country is already half collapsed right now. It’s not something that is coming soon, it’s something we are in the middle of. Like the stories of Jesus’ second coming, any day now for 2000 years at this point, except it’s actually here and we are in the middle of it.

    In 2021, we have a failed insurrection, Republican state legislatures laying the legal groundwork for the type of electoral crisis which used to only happen in banana republics, we have a collapse of law and order in America’s great cities (I live in the middle of the biggest one and the change over the past 2 years has been shocking), we have an economy “booming” from trillions of dollars of money printing, but with a widespread sense of the system being rigged and “monopoly for me, cut-throat profitless competition for thee.” Initiate that used to go into small businesses now directed into ubiquitous scams the government makes no effort to control (I don’t answer voice calls anymore because they are 95%+ fraud), and on the high end, socially worthless speculation scams like NFTs and crypto. We have a PR “confrontation” with China while we are screaming about the inflation and economic dislocation that result from ships full of Chinese products arriving one month late. We had a humiliating botched withdrawal from a failed 20-year war against peasant insurgents, and a former basket case of a country now revitalized, resurgent and issuing sharply worded ultimatums to the world’s ultimate hyperpower. All the while led by a gerontocracy that makes the Soviet Union’s leadership during the early 1980s seem sprightly and young. It’s amazing the position America finds itself in! Even compared to less than ten years ago.

    1. Jason Boxman

      What failed insurrection? There was an insurrection in Myanmar; No such attempt was ever made in DC. Or are you suggesting that, if America were a functioning state, the rioters would have engaged in an effective attempt at taking over the governing institutions in DC, and this was merely the best that was possible in our failing state? But that still presupposes it was an actual insurrection attempt; It was not, however distasteful what transpired might be.

      I’m concerned about when we get to the “all at once” part of collapse.

    2. Lost in OR

      Orlov style writing. A quick read.

      This is what Americans don’t understand. They’re waiting to get personally punched in the face while ash falls from the sky. That’s not how it happens.

      This is how it happens. Precisely what you’re feeling now. The numbing litany of bad news. The ever rising outrages. People suffering, dying, and protesting all around you, while you think about dinner. If you’re trying to carry on while people around you die, your society is not collapsing. It’s already fallen down.

      1. JBird4049

        Huh. This makes me think.

        I haven’t thought about this for a while, but my Dad decades ago once described life in countries at war as mostly normal. Kids playing soccer, people going work, etc. I do not think I was entirely convinced, but I did visit El Salvador during the latter half of its full on civil war, and guess what?

        Now, I did not go near any areas with active fighting at all, but aside from the occasional mean looking dudes in camouflage, and the not so occasional military helicopters, even in the city of San Salvador, not much difference or anything showing an often very brutal civil war, that IIRC, eventually hit all of it at different times. I even felt safer than in some very sketchy areas in some American cities like San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, and Richmond.

        Too bad that I can’t ask any of my now deceased relatives who lived and/or fought through the Second World War, but from the little I got, it was a life of normalcy and boredom, punctuated with moments of real terror. Military and civilian.

        Maybe we are in an early state of collapse.

    3. Lee

      What John le Carre said of the the latter day Soviet Union’s international position now applies to the U.S.

      “The Soviet Knight is dying inside his armour. He is a secondary power like you British. He can start a war but cannot continue one and cannot win one. Believe me.”

      In terms of domestic material production, although currently hollowed out by the machinations of globalized finance capital, we are lucky in our potential for autarky. I think we’re going to need it. Both major parties are paying lip service to reshoring production. Perhaps at some point the popular demand will put enough boot up their butts to make them do it.

      1. marym

        I don’t know anything about industrial production, but for domestic consumption, normal everyday stuff – kitchenware, clothing and accessories, home furnishing and decor, gift items, greeting cards – made in USA is readily accessible on-line. Maybe more people can start supporting some of those businesses and their workers, to have something to build on.

        1. JBird4049

          American made stuff is usually more expensive. Sometimes by lot, and I often don’t have much money to spare, but I do buy it when I can. Too much of the oversea stuff is junk anyways.

          Now, if we could just get American made cars that aren’t hanger queens. Buying a thirty thousand plus car and then having it break seemingly a day after the warranty expires is a bit… annoying, which is why it’s Japanese or German.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            If an American item costs twice as much as the foreign item, but lasts twice as long, then it costs the same per unit time. The trick is being able to save enough money to buy the American item to begin with.

            There should be an attempt to publicise the existence of those few made-in-America items which still do exist, so people can find and buy them instead of the foreign equivalent, if people need those items.

            And after that, there should be easy-to-find availability charts and rankings of this and that kind of thing from all the different countries that versions of that thing come from, together with social/environmental/economic goodness-badness indexes for all those different things. For example, things from parts of Europe, Japan, etc. support a society which is actually better paid, standarded, etc. than American society. Things from Korea and Turkey and so forth are from societies which pay and support their people better than things from Vietnam and China and etc.

            For example.

          2. marym

            Yes, I should always make it clear that I don’t think it’s up to poor and struggling people to take on this responsibility. There are lots of middle class people in this country – across the political spectrum – who can afford to pay a little more for a t-shirt or a bookcase, and many US made products of that sort are not wildly expensive and not difficult to find.

            1. marym

              Adding: I know I’m personally very fortunate to be able to pay more for some purchases. Referring to “lots of middle class people” was careless terminology. That spans a lot of people in varying circumstances of income and responsibilities. I just mean those with some discretionary income who can spend it on US made products without personal or family hardship.

    4. Skunk

      Bricky’s right that something as small as telephone scams can provide insight into the problem. Good will and basic decency are the backbone of a country. In some ways, infrastructure and the economy just build atop this backbone. When you can no longer pick up your telephone due to scams, when sleazy CEOs stay up nights trying to figure out new ways to degrade and disenfranchise their workers, when the technological tools that should be improving society are used instead for surveillance and misplaced power, when people won’t put on a mask in order to save other lives, then you know that as a nation we have become small. Our smallness as people opens the path toward other forms of decline. We have to figure out how to care again about who we are.

    5. lance ringquist

      america ceased to be a rich nation in 1993. america has lots of money, but that does not make a country rich, besides since 1993 most of that money has been vacuumed up by nafta billy clintons wall street and the chinese communist party.

      the real wealth of a nation is production, factories, and the well compensated skilled labor that makes that all possible.

      nafta billy clinton free traded that all away. today we are a country exactly like a banana republic, we have lots of money(and any country can have that), and a banana republic has lots of bananas.

      the inevitable collapse of free trade is simply a embarrassment, to see bakeries say they cannot make bread because we rely on the chinese communist party for supplies.

      we do not even make a aspirin,medical PE, most computer chips, cars, airplanes, rocket engines, you name it, nafta billy free traded it away.

      in reality we are now a very poor country, racked by extreme poverty, letting corporations over rule our sovereignty, desperately relying on other countries to support us, so that we have cloths, shoes, and food.

      we collapsed decades ago, the year 2000 sealed our fate.

      (clintons own advisors warned him a economic disaster would be the direct result of his free trade policies, he ignored them, and sold us out to the chinese communist party, and we reached that disaster by 2008.

      The High Cost of the China-WTO DealAdministration’s own analysis suggests spiraling deficits, job losses
      Report By Robert E. Scott February 1, 2000
      Issue Brief #137
      The High Cost of the China-WTO Deal
      Administration’s own analysis suggests spiraling deficits, job losses
      by Robert E. Scott…)

      (Sir James Goldsmith discusses his strong opinions on General Agreement on Tariff & Trade (GATT).
      Sir James Goldsmith discusses the ramifications of free-trade agreements that were about to take place in 1994 (GATT))

      “Penicillin, ascorbic acid, aspirin. Within four years of the trade law, Baxter Healthcare started buying active ingredients from China. And three years after that, the contaminated heparin was found.”


      The ability of companies to allocate jobs globally changes the nature of the discussion about the “gains from trade.” In fact, there are no longer guaranteed “gains,” even in the long run, to those countries that export technology and jobs.”

      the reasons why free traders have been so outraged at trump is to cover up the fact that they have been wrong about everything since bill clinton: Powerful Americans Were Catastrophically Wrong about China.

      Bill Clinton, with the strong backing of US multinational companies, succeeded, over the strong objections and warnings of many trade unions, to get Congressional passage of a permanent “most-favored nation” trade status for China and US support for China entry into the World Trade Organization.

      That gave the green light to corporate America for a flood of overseas investment in cheaper China manufacture known as “out-sourcing.” Major US drug makers were among them.

      Within 2 years of the passage of the US free trade agreement with China the US shut its last penicillin fermentation plant in New York State as a result of severe Chinese low-price competition.

      bill clinton created the bomb, lit the fuse, and exploded the bomb that would engulf the world in a economic fire storm in 2008.

      Economists Shocked That China Invalidates Their Pet View That Economic Liberalization Producers Political Liberalization
      Posted on March 17, 2018 by Yves Smith

  21. Wukchumni

    Great bonus antidote video…

    It gives you an idea of the work involved in getting an area ready for a prescribed burn, the tree species were all different from the flavors in the Sierra, but the look is much the same.

    A couple years ago in August in the midst of the quite windy storm that would spawn the Castle Complex Fire, I was hanging out with friends that work for NPS @ Atwell Mill in Mineral King, and for 20 minutes a newlydead tree from the 2012-16 drought would keel over in the distance every few minutes so we could hear it, but not see the action.

    I’ve had a 14 inch Ryobi 40 volt chainsaw for about 5 years now and love it, no messing with gas and you only have it on when cutting and it’s a lot quieter than a gas chainsaw with the same power.

    Made the move up last month to a 18 inch Ryobi 40V chainsaw and a friend called last week and asked if I could part out a Blue Oak which had tipped over in the wind, and 2 batteries later the behemoth was in pieces, ready to burn after mucho seasoning.

    I’m quick to dispatch dead trees on the all cats and no cattle ranch even if i’m loathe to see aged ones hundreds of years old in such a state, c’est la tree.

  22. Mikel

    “It would be interesting to know how widespread these sentiments are:

    Just had an illuminating convo with my hubby where he (an essential blue collar worker who never stopped going to his job) floated the idea that all these moving goalposts in the face of what’s now an endemic virus is about professional classes not wanting to return to the office

    — Rebecca Bodenheimer (@rmbodenheimer) December 23, 2021”

    All rationales go back to what the health care system can handle. That’s always been a main factor in how lethal the outcomes for this virus and the indirect effects it has (forcing time and resources away from treating all the other ailments still out there) have to be.
    Fix that and there would be more arguments for alot of other things.

  23. Mikel

    Pete Muntean (CNN)
    8 AM LATEST — US airlines have canceled 450 flights today citing staffing shortages caused by the Omicron variant. 169 United flights, 127 Delta flights.”

    Just seen this report so far. Sure other airlines are affected somewhat, if not as badly.

    And again, the health care system (one of varying degrees of quality depending on location) and what it can handle must be considered before arguments can begin.

    1. Arizona Slim

      Sotto voce: I’m wondering if this is a repeat of the Southwest pilots’, ahem, job action of a few months agao.

    2. Yves Smith

      They don’t give a baseline. Most of the flights cancelled were international, which could just as easily have been passenger-load-driven, as in a lot of passengers, particularly those in those seats in the front of the bus where the airlines make their money, cancelling out of fear of getting stuck at their destination or facing a quarantine upon their return due to new Covid restrictions being implemented. I’ve had flights cancelled that were clearly due to too small deemed load, no weather and too far in advance of the flight to be equipment or crew stranded.

      And about 100 domestic flights are cancelled on every big US airline every day.

  24. lyman alpha blob

    RE: the return to office tweets

    I think this woman is on to something. My office normally has about 150 people and we were closed completely for 17 months. We reopened on a voluntary basis in July. Since then, it’s been myself and maybe a half dozen other people who come in regularly.

    One reason is the commute. I have about a 5 minute commute by car, or about 20 if I take the bus and can get some reading done on the way. If I had the half hour to hour commute many of my coworkers have, I probably wouldn’t come in either if I didn’t have to.

    The other reason is the ‘pretending to work’ aspect of office work. Not only was our office shut for 17 months, our normal business was more or less suspended for that time too. And yet on all the town hall zoom meetings, we were constantly hearing how busy everybody was despite not much actual business happening. I know I got a lot of gardening done during the day while I was ‘working’ from home and I suspect I wasn’t the only one. No need to spend half the day trying to look busy for your supervisor when you aren’t in the office.

    We were supposed to have a mandatory return in January, but that was just postponed again indefinitely.
    I’m wondering how long our company will keep the office open for just a half dozen people, but in the meantime I quite like going in to the mostly empty office. Nice to be able to listen to some metal or the news without bothering anybody or having them wonder if you’re being as efficient you should be. At this point, if more people started working at the office again, I would probably go back to working most days from home.

  25. ChrisRUEcon

    Would Keynes have bought bitcoin?

    The answer’s right there: “He also speculated on exchange rates and commodities.”

    The author’s “casino quote” is familiar to me – pretty sure it’s referenced in at least one of my graduate essays. But before that even began to apply to crypto, it applied to stock markets as Keynes knew them then, and we know them today. If Keynes invested in equities then despite the “casino-esque nature” of exchanges, why wouldn’t he dabble in bitcoin? I’m not saying he would be a crypto-bro, but would he have opened a Coinbase account and thrown a few quid at some satoshis?

    Why not? Definite “maybe” … ;-)

    1. Yves Smith

      No, Keynes learned from losing all his money twice not to gamble:

      After his second lost fortune, he became what we would now refer to as a buy-and-hold value investor.

      The volatility and unpredicability of crypto would not appeal to him. If he had wanted to speculate back then, the medium was commodities, and he didn’t do that after he became an investor, as opposed to a speculator.

    2. ChrisRUEcon


      Forget about that Keanu Reeves vehicle, and instead look to forthcoming fourth installment of John Wick! The John Wick franchise, much like the #FastAndFurious franchise, started slowly and largely out-of-favour with Hollywood cognoscenti. However, it has found its way through the same #FF formula – ethnically diverse casting (global market appeal), over-the-top action, and an us-vs-them attitude that resonates with the powerless masses. There’s strong labour-vs-capital energy in the struggles of the assassins-for-hire versus The High Table! Bring on John and The Bowery King!

      1. Soredemos

        John Wick is great fun if you like action movies. It’s directed by a stunt man; it’s very much a franchise by and for people into the art of movie fight scenes. The world it’s created of underground crime groups with their own weird rules is highly enjoyable. Also, unlike the zombie Fast and Furious franchise, the John Wick movies also have a forward moving serial plot (I think all three take place over just a few days, IIRC).

        And Wick is probably the best role Reeves has ever had (he’s a genuinely cool guy; probably one of the few major Hollywood actors who isn’t a monster in their private lives, but he’s not exactly renowned as an actor).

  26. Soredemos

    Can someone help me here with clarification? Because I’m having trouble figuring out what Stoller is saying in that tweet. If he’s saying our political class is trying to pretend the pandemic is over, and only people who actually know what they’re talking about are still concerned about it, then that’s a valid point. But if he’s saying it really is over, and only ‘fringe health nerds’ who feel empowered by it are still clinging to the issue, then that is literally one of the worst takes on anything I’ve ever seen.

  27. lordkoos

    In the video of the guy walking through the woods showing the downed trees he says how once the trees are down and covered with snow, in spring they are rotten and good for nothing. He talks like a tree farmer, not someone who understands ecological systems. While the trees may be “good for nothing” from the point of view of a logger, rotting wood is an important part of the ecology of a healthy forest.

    1. Michael McK

      I saw a forest fire in waiting, pecker poles and 200 years of overharvesting. That land needs to be radically thinned (in 2 or 3 passes a decade or two apart with only biochar and a bit of firewood produced) then left alone for at least a hundred years.
      Of course the same could be said of most forests in the US (and most other places)

    2. Bart Hansen

      Did he say where he lives? Unless he is in the PNW in a field that had been cut over several times those trees look pretty scruffy.

      He probably means the fir trees, being numerous, will rot before he can cut up and use them in his stove. Here in central VA the fallen oaks, maples and hickorys will take at least 3 years to soften on the ground.

      1. Randy

        His “woods” is a type of very marginal forest land known as a swamp, most likely located in the northern/northeastern US or southern Canada. Balsam, aspen, spruce and an occasional unhealthy hardwood species are all he has. None of it is considered valuable. The best use for his “timber” is to fall down and rot and provide nutrients for what comes behind it.

        Here where I live nobody in their right mind would bother harvesting that crap for firewood much less sawing it into 2x4s. He is engaged in a colossal waste of time. SMH.

      2. Joe Renter

        He is in Ontario Canda. Interesting video. Almost tongue in cheek. I like that he seems to be drinking beer out of his thermos style coffee mug, saying it is his lunch. eh?

  28. Pate

    “One thing about Da South, the workforce, especially the “skilled workers,” generally mentally associated themselves with the ruling elites. The psychology of that is worthy of a PhD dissertation.”

    Comparative advantage? Since Bacon’s Rebellion (after which racism was institutionalized), even poor and working class whites distinguished themselves from blacks and thus in alignment with the white ruling class.

  29. haywood

    Re: Voting Rights filibuster exception

    The only civil right the DNC cares about enough to do anything is the one that gets them votes.

    Housing, health care, jobs, education, nah…

    1. Darthbobber

      Biden can favor a voting rights carve out from the filibuster all day long, but if even 1 Vichy senator doesn’t it’s irrelevant. And I suspect it’s way more than 1.

  30. Bruno

    “Hijacking Beethoven”:
    Once again the universal liberal cliché about Beethoven the freedom fighter withdrawing the dedication of his Eroica Symphony to Napoleon when the corsican made himself “Emperor.” But that was in 1803! Long before then, Bonaparte had liquidated everything liberatory about the Great Revolution and, having established his dictatorship as “First Consul,” held as much power as any emperor could imagine. When Bonaparte put the Imperial Crown on his own head, he was mortally insulting two men to whom Beethoven, as Austrian patriot and Catholic, was profoundly loyal: the Kaiser and the Pope. That is what was unforgivable.
    Nobody can question Beethoven’s greatness as Composer. But he was no political revolutionary–quite the opposite.

  31. atlast

    “Molnupiravir: coding for catastrophe”

    I think so too, but OUR Catastrophe, not the viruses. the height of stupidity.

  32. Roland

    That Kagan/ISW piece was more about their misdirections than RF’s.

    One particularly obvious defect in their analysis is that while they provide detailed lists and maps of RF force deployments, they fail to provide any such profile of the forces opposing them. What sort of “Study of War” is that?

    It is interesting to note that even Kagan & Co. don’t think RF wants to invade Ukraine. Nevertheless, their thinking is still dangerous in its tendency. They attempt to obscure the plain clarity of RF’s warnings and ignore the consistency with which RF has actually gone to war to counter encroachments on RF allies and former SSR’s (Georgia 2008, Crimea 2014, Syria 2015).

    Kagan’s thesis is redolent of the confidence with which Western leaders are currently challenging RF. If NATO’s confidence is backed by truly effective BMD, then it could be justified in terms of very cynical power-politics. But if it’s not, then Kagan draws the very anatomy of blunder.

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