Links 12/4/2021

‘Potentially hazardous’ asteroid worth nearly $5 billion will enter Earth’s orbit next week, NASA says Live Science

Elliott Buys More Than $200 Million Twitter Shares On Dip Bloomberg

Influential Koch network rocked by an alleged affair scandal, donor departures and a discrimination lawsuit CNN

Covid-19 Made Americans Into Super Savers. Now They’re Hoarding Cash. WSJ

Debt collectors can now text, email and DM you on social media NPR

After Wakashio, MOL Sets Up Blue-Economy Fund for Mauritius Maritime Executive


New research links Australia’s forest fires to climate change Wildfire Today

Forest Fight Science

The ‘agricultural mafia’ taking over Brazil’s Amazon rainforest France24 (Re Silc).

Concrete Doesn’t Have to Be an Ecological Nightmare Curbed


Researchers on the Omicron Variant “We Are Playing with Fire” Der Spiegel (Re Silc). Good round-up.

COVID-19 reinfection study from South Africa yields ominous data about Omicront Science

“Although there are a lot of uncertainties in the paper, it looks like an earlier infection only offers half as much protection against Omicron as it does against Delta, says Natalie Dean, a biostatistician at Emory University. [Juliet Pulliam, an infectious disease epidemiologist at the South African Centre of Excellence in Epidemiological Modelling and Analysis] agrees that’s a good estimate. “The exact numbers are fraught with issues,” says William Hanage, an epidemiologist at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “But that’s not the point here,” he adds. “It is a first pass that provides a good enough comparison to show us that, as we might have expected, reinfections are a big deal with Omicron.”

Omicron widens global footprint as COVID spikes in South Africa Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy

Omicron outbreak at Norway Christmas party is biggest outside S. Africa -authorities Reuters

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Impact of community masking on COVID-19: A cluster-randomized trial in Bangladesh Science. Team originally published in NBER; linked on 5/13. The trial also includes interventions to encourage mask-wearing. From the Discussion:

“We present results from a cluster-randomized controlled trial of a scalable intervention designed to increase mask-wearing and reduce COVID-19. Our estimates suggest that mask-wearing increased by 28.8 percentage points, corresponding to an estimated 51,357 additional adults wearing masks in intervention villages, and this effect was persistent even after active mask promotion was discontinued. The intervention led to a 9.5% reduction in symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 seroprevalence (which corresponds to a 105 fewer symptomatic seropositives) and an 11.6% reduction in the prevalence of COVID-like symptoms, corresponding to 1,541 fewer people reporting these symptoms.”

Missouri health department found mask mandates work, but didn’t make findings public Missouri Independent

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Scalable live-attenuated SARS-CoV-2 vaccine candidate demonstrates preclinical safety and efficacy PNAS. From July 2021, still germane. From the Abstract:

This work demonstrates the feasibility of rationally designing and synthesizing vaccine candidates for testing in response to an emerging disease in real world conditions. Furthermore, using a live attenuated codon-pair–deoptimized virus approach ensures that all components of the host immune system will be engaged, and potential effects from the vector sequences from hybrid live viruses are avoided. Evidence from other codon-deoptimized viruses suggests that COVI-VAC will be resistant to reversion and loss of potency due to antigenic drift. The ease of large-scale virus growth under permissive conditions coupled with the potential for single-dose intranasal administration make COVI-VAC an appealing candidate for clinical testing for possible use in mass immunization programs.

(More on COVI-VAC here.) Lambert here (and experts please correct): Vaccines injected instramuscularly do not activate the nasal immune system, and do not prevent the virus from multiplying in the nose (as the CDC’s study of “Bear Week” in Provincetown showed). Hence, current vaccines protect against serious illness, hospitalization, and death, but not transmission, because the virus is breathed out, often before symptoms occur. Nasal vaccines, which prevent the virus from multiplying in the nose, are the only potential avenue to a sterilizing vaccine. One can only wonder why a Biden Operation Warp-speed equivalent is not pursuing them. Unfortunately, Cuba’s nasal vaccine, Mambisa, is still in clinical trials, so we can’t simply place an order for it.

Immunogenicity of Extended mRNA SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine Dosing Intervals (research letter) JAMA. From the Discussion: “Longer mRNA vaccine dosing intervals demonstrated improved immunogenicity, which was consistent when responses were measured based on timing of the first or second dose. These data suggest that extending dosing intervals may be particularly advantageous against the Delta variant. A delayed second-dose strategy could yield faster partial protection to a larger proportion of the population when vaccine supplies are limited.”

* * *

A chewing gum that could reduce SARS-CoV-2 transmission Medical Xpress (RM). Not yet in clinical trials.

The Coronavirus in a Tiny Drop NYT. Wretched headline reinforces droplet theory when aerosols are meant, but visualization is impressive.

More on fear:


Why rising ultra-left nationalism is the biggest danger to China’s development South China Morning Post

Local Government Financing Vehicles Buy More Land to Fill Hole in Official Coffers Caixin Global. Commentary: “Local governments are responsible…”

China fights a financial fraud explosion FT

Fan Zhongyan – A Great Chinese Statesman and Poet All Things Chinese.


Hundreds of telecoms towers downed in Myanmar coup resistance Reuters

Myanmar’s Army Is Fighting a Multi-Front War The Diplomat and The New Pattern of Conflict in Myanmar The Peace Research Institute Oslo. A reminder: “When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die.” –Cersei Lannister


UKHSA Efficacy Stats Death Watch: Week 48 eugyppius (JD).

The new ‘government by diktat’ bypasses parliament altogether FT

New Cold War

Russia planning massive military offensive against Ukraine involving 175,000 troops, U.S. intelligence warns WaPo. BREAKING NEWS. If you guessed all the sources are anonymous, you were right. Incidentally, “U.S. intelligence has found” is an uncomfortable echo of “the British government has learned.” Can’t anyone here play this game?

Russia’s Greatest Weapon is not a Weapon The Saker (ctlieee).

The Caribbean

Western Media: Venezuelan Elections Must Be Undemocratic, Because Chavismo Won FAIR

Biden Administration

Build Back Better’s Gift To The Gas Industry Daily Poster

Interior’s new oil-and gas-leasing roadmap sidesteps climate action High Country News

NASA awards $415 million for private space stations amid ISS transition questions


Here Comes the Limited Hangout Lee Smith, The Tablet

Democrats en Deshabille

Two more Harris aides leaving in addition to Sanders The Hill. No chaos in the Harris operation, no sirree. And speaking of Willie Brown and “our democracy”–

Blast from the past: PG&E continues to privatize San Francisco’s electricity Yasha Levine

I Was the Governor of Montana. My Fellow Democrats, You Need to Get Out of the City More. NYT

Our Famously Free Press

Addressing the Power Imbalance Between News Publishers and Digital Platforms: A Legislative Proposal for Effectuating Competitive Payments to Newspapers (PDF) Hal J. Singer, Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business. “The best way to correct this market failure is for the government to permit the news publishers (either newspapers alone, or all news publishers) to coordinate in their dealings with the digital platforms over payment terms and conditions….”


Parents of accused killer in Michigan school shooting arrested after vehicle was found in Detroit USA Today and Prosecutor lays out disturbing timeline in explaining why school shooting suspect’s parents were charged CNN. I’m not going to fuel the moral panic by quoting the timeline, but holy moley…..

L’Affaire Joffrey Epstein

“She Is Not Jeffrey Epstein”: Meet the Lawyers Trying to Set Ghislaine Maxwell Free Vanity Fair. Mirroring:

Supply Chain

Major Transport Organisations Warn Governments’ Knee-Jerk Reaction To Omicron Variant Puts Supply Chain At Greater Risk Hellenic Shipping News. Your “kneejerk reaction” is my “precautionary principle.”

Imperial Collapse Watch

America as Tax Haven: It’s Becoming Part of US Foreign Policy CEPR

Class Warfare

Auto Workers Win Direct Democracy in Referendum Labor Notes

What is ‘The Great Resignation’? An expert explains World Economic Forum

Loving Lies Air Mail

Antidote du jour, bird (via):

Bonus antidote, dog:

Double-bonus antidote, cats:

Not sure what the “nanopore sequencing” joke is about. Perhaps a science-minded reader can explain.

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. Larry

    Re: Nanopore sequencing joke: It’s a newer sequencing technique that quite literally forces say DNA, through a physically constrained space. A big advantage it has is not relying on producing huge libraries and sequencing lots of little stretches of DNA/RNA in said libraries. It makes it easier to assemble large sequences, better understand repetitive regions, and more. So the cats going through that door are like the long DNA molecule lining up at the nanopore waiting to go through!

  2. svay

    Western Media: Venezuelan Elections Must Be Undemocratic, Because Chavismo Won

    Yader Lanuza has a recent and parallel piece on Nicaragua, largely based on interviews with Nicaraguans, from hardline Sandinistas to abstainers and critics. Quite long, but helpful in explaining why the FLSN garnered 75.9% of votes cast.

    Sandinistas Won a Landslide Victory Not Through Fraud But Because They Uplifted Nicaragua’s Poor

      1. Bill Smith

        Carter’s statement on the Venezuelan Elections was for the one in 2012.

        Is that statement operable forever?

        After all subsequent updates which can be found on the Carter Center website are not as favorable, and in fact show a lot of concern.

        1. The Rev Kev

          The Carter Center has been working in Venezuela for over twenty years and is well familiar with their electoral system as they have been observing them since 1996. If they are more concerned in the past few years, I would say that as a complete “coincidence”, that this would date from when Trump and the Washington political establishment decided to try to make a grab for Venezuela’s huge oil fields. Washington’s idea of a fair election was to try to foist a non-entity like Juan Greedo as Venezuela’s President in a soft coup that hardly any Venezuelans could be bothered joining. Frankly it was so ill-conceived that it was embarrassing to watch but suckered a lot of countries into trying to pretend in a President Greedo.

          1. Bill Smith

            I see this:

            The backdrop to the elections was a widespread socioeconomic and humanitarian crisis (aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic), a pattern of political repression, severely restricted rights to political participation and freedom of expression, the government’s overt use of its political advantage, and an uneven playing field.

            from here:

            1. jsn

              And an unmentioned US blockade and regime change operation.

              As a US NGO and thus appendix or other such organ of the Blob, certainly accurate from some point of view.

    1. Dftbs

      Post-coup Bolivia, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Peru, Mexico. Now (post coup) Honduras and next year Brazil. All very undemocratic according to the ghouls at Foggy Bottom.

      What I find most interesting is not so much that we’re throwing hissy fits and attempting to replace these popular governments. Rather that we appear to have come to our historical limits in our ability to effect reactionary change. Foggy Bottom may wail, but Langley seems to only flail.

      That’s not to say the el Vampiro Del Norte is defanged; but Latin American veins aren’t as opened to it as before. I think this is a combination of the ability of popular and revolutionary governments to build stronger domestic institutions; and of our diminishing power economically, militarily and diplomatically.

      Stronger institutions allow these governments to present genuine popular responses. Hence the coups are stopped and reversed. The latest attempts in Venezuela and Cuba brought more gusanos to Miami streets than Caracas or Havana. Hopefully the new governments in Peru and Honduras can learn from these recent victories and inoculate themselves from foreign aggression.

      Weaker North American economic power diminishes the proverbial Kissengerian ability to make their economies “scream”. After all we aren’t the largest trading and investment partner of most Latin American economies anymore. The elites of the region (despite their latent racist fanaticism) aren’t faced with the ideological choice of the Cold War. Growth now comes from the East and not the North. And as a nod to another article on todays links that describes the benefits of hoarding your wealth in North America; many recalcitrant rightists choose to take their paper wealth to the dollar kingdom up north. Better to do a coup on Instagram than get Sandino’s justice.

      Hopefully the region is breaking from its historical cycle.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        The absence of the ideological choice of the cold war is huge. A key difference is the Chinese and other powers arent offering people’s revolutions. Except for the Harvard indoctrinated types, the local elites and the bureaucrats aren’t as worried about bloody purges. The Soviet Politburo didn’t play well with others even their own would be allies.

        Putin seems to be selling weapons that are way cheaper than the F35 and can’t be any worse. So why give it to an American arms dealer?

    1. Procopius

      You can also click on the “custom” donation. That brings up a separate page, which you can then close and the demand for a donation is gone from the main page.

  3. GM

    One extremely important caveat on the Omicron reinfections — I see all sorts of numbers being thrown around, and all of them, including the original study, completely ignore the elephant in the room.

    Which is that South Africa prior to the Omicron wave had less than 3M official cases, or ~5% of its population had tested positive.

    And the reinfections included in the study are by definition only among those 3M people.

    But in reality the official cases only capture one infection out of 15 or more — seropositivity was above 50% already before the Delta wave, and the Delta wave doubled the official case count. There were a lot of people there that were reinfected during the second and third waves, and in reality most people have had COVID at least once, quite a few twice. It is above 70% for sure, quite likely above 80%.

    In the preprint they were showing that 10% of the cases at the time they closed the dataset were reinfections. In reality most of them are.

    But by ignoring the seropositivity, you get all kinds of messed up numbers.

    That bit about how “earlier infection only offers half as much protection against Omicron as it does against Delta” is in fact likely an out-of-touch-with-reality extremely rosy view of the situation.

    It is mathematically very hard to account for that incredibly rapid growth without invoking either an absurdly high increase in inherent transmissibility or close to zero protection from reinfection.

    1. svay

      BBC radio had a few minutes on omicron in the half-hour news a couple of hours ago, in which they indicated, as you say, that 80% of South Africans (or it may have been those in Gauteng province) have probably already been infected, and there may be close to zero protection from reinfection.

    2. Lee

      I heard in passing from another source that the Covid seropositive rate in South Africa was as high a 70%. I didn’t pay enough attention at the time to note the source of this figure and haven’t been able to find it online. Can you help with that?

      If as reported the Omicron variant is defeating both the innate immunity of the very young and the acquired immunity of the previously infected, and the vaccines are not sterilizing, we are about to embark on the next phase of a harrowing natural experiment where N=everybody.

    3. Mikel

      I’ve heard too that there is no certainty the variant originated in South Africa.

      I just know that what they’ve been describing with omnicron – spike proteins as ones like no other.
      Andd it’s not lost on me after what even the frankenstein spike proteins developed.

    4. Raymond Sim

      …“earlier infection only offers half as much protection against Omicron as it does against Delta”…

      I just about choked when I saw that.

      I’m seeing a lot of experts apparently not wanting to believe their lying eyes. I can empathize. It’s how I felt about the numbers for Delta in Mississippi Valley schools earlier this year. But I can’t summon up any sympathy for this denial and grasping at straws.

      I had to hunt up that schools data on my own. If people were doing their damned jobs and knew what unmitigated Delta looked like in American schools perhaps we would be spared some of this.

    5. Roger Blakely

      I wonder if Omicron is going to make a difference when it comes to living with the virus, meaning the public health establishment’s concept of living with the virus. Delta is bad enough. Will Omicron make us live differently?

      I went through five rounds of COVID-19 before being fully vaccinated and four rounds of COVID-19 since being fully vaccinated.

      To me living with the virus means wearing a respirator and goggles in all indoor public spaces and avoiding social events. Living with the virus will mean getting every variant-tweeked booster vaccine recommended. Other than that, life will be normal.

      1. lordkoos

        Life will not be normal for anyone in the musical entertainment industry… travel will hugely affected as well.

      2. GM

        Omicron destroys the whole idea of “living with it”, as criminal as it always was originally.

        And a lot more than that.

        I still see various idiotic initiatives for mandatory vaccination going ahead in Europe.

        Hello, everyone is fully unvaccinated again, no matter how many doses, have you not realized that yet?

        Not that those were going to stop the spread anyway already with Delta, Delta is breaking through quite well on its own.

        But now there is no protection.

        So what happens when they do implement those mandates and then all of a sudden they have to drop them while people get the Omicron booster that does not exist, the try to impose them again?

        Meanwhile the fact that something so drastically different appeared so suddenly and catastrophically means that the same could, and probably will happen again. But it will be Rho, Pi, Sigma, Tau, etc., and those will be different from both Delta and Omicron, and from each other.

        So you spend 4-6 months getting everyone vaccinated against Omicron, the protection from which will start expiring for the initial recipients by time you’ve given those shots to everyone, meanwhile other variants show up, Delta has probably not gone anywhere (as there is no cross protection) and the third shot of the Wuhan strain vaccine has worn off too, and now all of a sudden you have to be vaccinated again for Rho, Pi, etc., against which there will be no boosters for months once again, and so on and so on.

        You see where this is going.

        This was of course predictable and predicted.

        Will the lesson be learned?

        Of course not.

        1. Brian Beijer

          Will the lesson be learned?
          Of course not.

          Your comment made me immediately think of the two quotes Lambert cites daily. They seem all the more poignant in light of how Western governments are “handling” the Corona virus.

          “They had learned nothing, and forgotten nothing.” –Charles Mice de Talleyrand-Périgord


          “They had one weapon left and both knew it: treachery.” –Frank Herbert, Dune

        2. BlakeFelix

          It’s not clear that there is no protection from the vaccine, I agree that it’s insane to roll the dice, but to my understanding vaccinated people especially after three shots are much much safer. If Omicron takes over that may or may not change, but we aren’t there yet.

    6. Jason Boxman

      What I find most interesting is that with regards to detecting variants Lambert completely nailed with his variant tracking graph in Water Cooler. The explosion of cases in SA is startling and terrifying. I don’t look forward to seeing how that plays out here. Maybe we just get another Michigan/Beta and it “goes away”, but I doubt it.

    7. clarky90

      “The Omicron variant probably picked up genetic information from the virus that causes the common cold and possibly would have “greater transmissibility but lower virulence than other variants of the novel coronavirus,” according to researchers, reports The Washington Post.

      Scientists at Nference, a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based firm that analyzes biomedical information found through genetic sequencing, say the Omicron variant shares a piece of genetic code with “HCoV-229E coronavirus, which can cause the common cold.”

      Perhaps God has gifted us with a free, “Old School vaccine”. –

      Highly infectious, appearance in kids and (so far) mild, cold-like symptoms? I have read that there have been no deaths reported from Omicron infection.

      I pray…..

      1. Kevin Carhart

        The Post cites a startup called Nference, in passing. Nference’s information may be sound in this case but so many VC-funded startups have turned out later to’ve been the bezzle that in my opinion it reflects poorly on the sector generally and even the “unrelated” startups I’ve never heard of bear that history too. So I’d like to know more about Nference when they are referenced inline on the way to a point about something else:

        I’ve heard of the Mayo Clinic. I’m not familiar with A&E, Matrix or NTT.

  4. David

    The most important statement in the WP article about the Ukraine is Blinken saying “We don’t know whether President Putin has made the decision to invade. We do know that he is putting in place the capacity to do so on short order should he so decide.” Large-scale troop movements are pretty much impossible to hide, and can easily be picked up by satellite imagery. It’s very probable that the figures quoted by Blinken are at least broadly accurate: open source imagery may well conform that soon.

    But as Blinken was careful to say, massing troops is one thing. Using them is another. There’s no sign that the Russians are contemplating using them in action, nor any obvious reason why they should. Ukraine is, after all, a large country of 45 million people, and it’s not clear what a force of the size given here could reasonably do. All nations have “plans” to do things in certain situations: it’s called “contingency planning.” There’s no reason to doubt that the Russians have such a plan if the situation gets a lot worse in the Ukraine, and no reason to think that they intend to use them now. But they are sending a message, both to the Ukraine and to the West, to act carefully.

    1. vao

      If Russia really intended to invade suddenly or even just deal a surprise blow to Ukraine, it would not be deploying troops openly, but would follow its practice on how to conduct strategic operations ever since WWII: relying upon maskirovka, i.e. the systematic, comprehensive dissimulation of large-scale troop deployments prior to an offensive.

      The last time maskirovka was put in use was during the affair with Georgia in 2008. After they attacked, the Georgians were disagreeably surprised to face not Russian local military units, but such elite troops as the 96th airborne division, the 76th air assault division, the 45th intelligence regiment and plenty of air force. All these units were normally based in Moscow and St Petersburg — but had surreptitiously relocated all the way to the Caucasus without Georgia or NATO noticing.

      As you suggest, the ostentatious manoeuvers by Russia are probably intended to deter Ukraine and NATO from endeavouring anything against the Donbass, rather than serve as a preparation for an offensive against Ukraine.

      1. Bill Smith

        This being the second time around this year for military exercises around the Ukraine would cover the items in your first paragraph. And they could easily walk it back down and run it up again in 6 months.

        Thus creating the environment you talk about.

        1. Ozz

          News says Ukraine has most of their troops in well developed trenches. Under threat of snipers. They are being worn down by the elements. If the Russians do choose to defend the Donbass etc from the ukies they will build a cauldron and destroy them in place. Zelenshky may well wake up in the morning to a T-90 in this drive. Eventually this will be a shooting war because there is no off ramp and Zelenshky is being driven to throw his country at Russia so the West wins some propaganda war at the expense of Ukrainian lives. The mechanism of that and the military outcome will be history probably sooner rather than later.

    2. The Rev Kev

      This whole thing is getting bizarre. Blinken met Lavrov a few days ago and Blinken went on an anti-Russia rant to him which went down as well as could be expected. Putin came out and said that Russia has some red-lines of their own but Biden has said ‘I don’t accept anybody’s red lines.’ But this whole idea of Russia invading the Ukraine is just so much hype on the part of people who do not understand kitchen maths. The population of the Ukraine is over forty million people but to occupy any country, you need a ratio of about one occupation soldier to every forty of population. So straight away that means that Russia would need over a million troops to occupy the Ukraine and that would mean that Russia would have to use every single soldier of their 1,013,628 active personnel to do it. Not going to happen.

      1. Polar Socialist

        Presuming the 4 or so million people living in Luhansk and Donetsk wouldn’t necessarily resist occupation by Russian forces, the actual population to control is around 37 million.

        Looking at the demographics of Ukraine, Russia could wait for another 30 years, at which point there shouldn’t be more than 25-30 million Ukrainians left, mostly elderly people.

        Anyhow, while invasion doesn’t make much sense, getting somebody reasonable, rational and pro-Ukraine to make decisions in Ukraine would make much more sense, as Mr. Medvedev recently said. Until then, Russia is content to wait.

        1. dftbs

          War may happen but Russia is not invading Ukraine. If something does happen, there is as much chance of Russians conventionally bombing Ramstein and/or Norfolk, than seeing Armatas rolling down the Maidan. There may be some LDNR armor in Odessa, but that’s a different beast. Our guys seem to realize this and so they’ll wail and flail, but in the end we’ll bail!

        2. Maxwell Johnston

          Ukraine’s demographics are simply awful. I’m not even sure about 37m anymore (ex-Donbass and Crimea); I’ve seen much lower estimates.

          I doubt that any invasion is imminent, but if–repeat if–the Russians invaded Ukraine, then I’m pretty sure that they would only occupy the east of Ukraine (everything east of the Dnieper river). The western half of Ukraine is ethnically different from Russia, whereas eastern Ukraine is culturally an extension of western Russia. I’m not even sure that the Russian military would face much local civilian opposition to an invasion and occupation once the actual military-to-military fighting was over, and the Ukrainians would have an impossible task trying to supply any isolated units on the eastern side of the Dnieper once the Russians blew up all the bridges (there aren’t many of them, and the Dnieper is pretty wide). From a purely military point of view, taking and holding the eastern half of the country is feasible. As for dislodging the Russians after they’ve dug in…..good luck with that; even the Wehrmacht had some issues crossing the Dnieper in 1941.

      2. Mildred Montana

        @The Rev Kev

        “The population of the Ukraine is over forty million people but to occupy any country, you need a ratio of about one occupation soldier to every forty of population. So straight away that means that Russia would need over a million troops to occupy the Ukraine and that would mean that Russia would have to use every single soldier of their 1,013,628 active personnel to do it. Not going to happen.”

        The Ukraine is the second-largest country by area in Europe after Russia. So, Russia invading itself, I must say that’s a novel twist on history. Russia, graveyard of conquerors’ dreams, Napoleon and Hitler conquered themselves by its vastness.

        Ukraine, second only in Russia itself to vastness, is odds-on to be another graveyard for any meddler’s dreams. Do they never learn?

          1. Mildred Montana

            @Lambert Strether

            There certainly is. Although, to be fair, Napoleon and Hitler didn’t have global warming on their sides.

            The times they are a-changin’ and maybe history won’t always repeat.

            1. drsteve0

              The mud may have been worse than the cold for the Wehrmacht. Don’t see how GW ameliorates that.

              1. Publius

                One of the big handicaps the Wehrmacht failed to overcome was the difference in railway gauges. Another was their lack of large reserves, which the Russians had in abundance. The lack of paved roads was a third. I read somewhere recently that the logistics experts on the General Staff tried to persuade the combat arms people that the logistics situation would lead to their inevitable defeat, but the generals were emboldened by the success of blitzkrieg so far.

      3. ex-PFC Chuck

        I’m with observers such as Patrick Armstrong, Paul Robinson, Andrei Martynov and the Saker who assert Russia does not want to take over Ukraine. They regard it as a deeply corrupt failed state that would be a drain rather than an asset. But they are serious about supporting their cultural kin in the Donbass area, who rebelled against the Banderista-dominated government the US installed by coup in 2014 when it banned the use of the Russian language. If the Ukraine army were to again attempt to reconquer the rebel provinces rather than live up to the Minsk agreement, Russia will again support the provinces’ militias with supplies and perhaps warriors, and likely also use their precision stand-off weapons to attack supply nodes within the Ukraine rump. They may also aim some of those missiles at the seat of government and at the Banderista strongholds in the west. If central government control were to collapse, it’s possible nearby countries who have ethnic connections to adjacent regions within Ukraine may occupy those regions to “protect their kin.” Such events could be the beginning of the end of the Ukraine state.

        1. Dftbs

          One interesting observation that Martyanov, the Saker, and other Russian focused analyst make, is that the dissolution of the USSR was largely a Russian rejection of their economic responsibility over the other Soviet republics. The population of the Soviet Union voted through a popular plebiscite to remain united; the Russian nomenklatura led by Yeltsin (no doubt egged on by us) rejected this. Of course this shirking of responsibility was one which they paid for in blood during the 90s, not just the Caucus wars but the demographic decimation Russia suffered.

          I think it’s this understanding that allows Putin to lament the fall of the USSR as a great tragedy. Not because he wants to reconstitute it. That sort of thinking is only for the effervescent nighttime dreams of Pentagon pinheads. While at the same time exercising a foreign policy that explicitly rejects physical expansion when not defined by a national interest. Hence you can’t have Crimea filled with USSes and HMSes; but have a go a Kiev, they don’t want it.

          In all our Cold War triumphalism we failed to notice that out of the Soviet dissolution the Russians raised a nation state that is stronger than its imperial predecessor. It is not hampered by global imperatives of empire nor burdened by ideology. In defeat they passed those burdens on to us.

          1. Bill Smith

            “The population of the Soviet Union voted through a popular plebiscite to remain united”

            Seven of the Republics of the Soviet Union did not participate in that referendum.

            The Ukraine, which did participate voted 82% to stay and then several months later voted 92% for independence.

            1. Dftbs

              Bill, you are correct about the abstention of the Baltic republics, the Caucus republics and Moldova.

              I think my point is that the Russians interpret the fall of the USSR as a tragedy but not because they desire their empire back. That someone would want to reconstitute the old Soviet Union is a fantasy that’s more fervent on the banks of the Potomac than on the Volga.

          2. ex-PFC Chuck

            re “That sort of thinking is only for the effervescent nighttime dreams of Pentagon pinheads.”
            The “effervescent nighttime dreams” are mainly in the heads of the penultimate five letters of what Ray McGovern calls the MICIMATTC (Military Industrial Congressional Intelligence Media Academic Think Tank Complex) rather than the first three. These latter are more concerned are more concerned about keeping the money flowing today and/or doors open and seats warm for lucrative post-retirement gigs.

            1. Dftbs

              Got to keep the money flowing. The only thing that could impede that mission is an actual war.

              To that end, I’m sure the boys in Arlington are afraid. It’s possible some of the Waffen SS we have been arming in Ukraine may get it into their heads they’re a real army instead of a money laundering scheme.

              It wouldn’t do any good to see some Russian missiles (not troops) force some existential decisions on our military procurement policy.

    3. Bill Smith

      What would be a sign that Russians are contemplating using them in action?

      One thing that is different this time – if true – is that this time there are support troops and medical troops being staged to border regions.

      Is anyone thinking that Russia would try to seize the entirety of the Ukraine?

      The most I’ve seen talked about is up to the Dnieper. This would cut down the number to about 20 million in “East Ukraine”? What percentage would see the Russians in a good light? Of those that didn’t, how many would flee to “West Ukraine”? 3 million? I would guess if it came this the Russians would be happy to ‘help’ the people who didn’t want to stay to move west. This would free up the area from malcontents and drag down the rest of the Ukraine with millions of refugees.

      1. David

        There are recognised and well-understood activities (often called “warning indicators”) that can imply preparations for an attack. They range from recall of reservists, cancellation of leave and courses, and bringing forces up to their war establishment, to dispersal of aircraft and concentration of ground units. There would normally be changes in communications protocols and the like. So far as I know, little off any of this has happened.

        In any case, what would the Russians attack the Ukraine for? As has been pointed out, they can’t hold it, and if they did, what would they do with it? It’s true the East of the country is culturally Russian, but, at least when I was there, it was a god-forsaken dump of a place which would be a burden on Russia rather than having anything to recommend it. I still think this is posturing.

        1. Andrew Watts

          A buffer zone. I think you’re underestimating how paranoid Russians are. I can think of three good reasons for that paranoia; Frederick the Great, Napoleon, and Hitler. All of whom used some part of Poland to launch an invasion of Russia.

          I don’t think we’re close to a Russian invasion though. The timing for an invasion isn’t right. Why not wait until Nordstream 2 has received full regulatory approval and/or at a time when European gas levels need to be renewed for an oncoming winter?

          What I think is happening is that Moscow is demonstrating it’s willingness to resort to a war with NATO on a hair trigger. If Washington is concerned about this then maybe they should strike an accord with Putin. ‘Cause if they stick to their original plans of controlling Eurasia then war with Russia might become inevitable.

          1. chuck roast

            Whatever you may think about Russian energy hegemony, Nordstream 2 is an adequate and a clear demonstration that the Russians would like to do business and have little interest in war. When this reality finally dawns on western citizenry, they will begin asking themselves, “What’s the point of Nato? These guys just want to do business.” The Atlanticist war machine cannot let this happen. That’s why N2 must be stopped.

      2. Polar Socialist

        It seems that when ever Zelensky’s popularity or that of his party drop close 20% in opinion polls, the “Russians are coming!”, so the best indicator for Russians “contemplating action” would probably be the Ukrainian polls…

        Right now Zelensky can freely censor the opposition and even thrown them in jail as “supporting Russian narrative” and thus being dangerous to Ukraine, while the West will not just look the other way, but congratulate him and perhaps figure out more sanctions for Russia.

    4. farragut

      I think current Russian leadership has, rightfully so, zero desire to occupy a region with a hostile population. That appears to be a lesson lost on US leadership.

        1. farragut

          No, it isn’t (or wouldn’t be), much the same as Crimea. Beyond those areas, tho….

          I don’t see Russia wanting to occupy these regions. I thought they’d much prefer to see the implementation of the Minsk agreements, which (if I understand them correctly) would enact a cessation of hostilities, and grant the LPR & DPR more local autonomy, perhaps even self-rule, outside the clutches of Kiev (and NATO).

          1. ex-PFC Chuck

            IIRC Odessa and environs are heavily Russian ethnic and if central authority were to collapse and other parts of the country occupied the people in this area would quickly turn toward the east.

    5. Procopius

      There is a part of the State Department that has been pushing for war with Russia since Hillary was SecState. They have counterparts in the Pentagon and the National Security Council. I can’t imagine what their reason is, but it’s an existential danger to the world. This is just an example, and the fact it’s coming from Blinken makes it a serious worry. I’ve been wondering if Blinken is rogue or is following Biden’s instructions. After all, he clearly sabotaged the return to the Iran nuclear agreement at the very beginning and continues to do so.

  5. upstater

    Omicron variant may have picked up a piece of common-cold virus

    The Omicron variant of the virus that causes COVID-19 likely acquired at least one of its mutations by picking up a snippet of genetic material from another virus – possibly one that causes the common cold – present in the same infected cells, according to researchers.

    This genetic sequence does not appear in any earlier versions of the coronavirus, called SARS-CoV-2, but is ubiquitous in many other viruses including those that cause the common cold, and also in the human genome, researchers said.

    By inserting this particular snippet into itself, Omicron might be making itself look “more human,” which would help it evade attack by the human immune system, said Venky Soundararajan of Cambridge, Massachusetts-based data analytics firm nference, who led the study posted on Thursday on the website OSF Preprints.

    Maybe the NC braintrust can comment on implications?

    1. svay

      The paper in question isn’t pushing this idea as strongly as the Reuters article.
      From Reuters, omicron “likely acquired at least one of its mutations by picking up a snippet of genetic material from another virus.”
      From the paper, “it is plausible that the Omicron insertion could have evolved in a co-infected individual”, “The nucleotide sequence encoding for ins214EPE could have been acquired by template switching involving the genomes of other viruses”, “Origin of insEPE in Omicron potentially due to template switching using genome of co-infecting viruses or host”, and so on.

  6. The Rev Kev

    “At least 35 countries have now reported Omicron (B.1.1.529) COVID-19 variant cases”

    On the news a few hours ago the count was up to forty countries. And for the United States, it has been found in eight States. That was quick. It seems not that long ago that we were reading the first reports of the arrival of the Delta variation in the US and now it is the dominant variant. You don’t need to be Einstein to work out that Omicron will become the dominant variant in only a few months more. It is well know that if you get Coronavirus, that the odds are high that you will get permanent damage out of it, even if you have only very mild symptoms or even none at all. Key question will be if Omicron also leaves behind this level of damage which is a very important question when it has been shown in South Africa that you can be easily re-infected by Omicron.

    1. jefemt

      Thank goodness all Nation States have been collecting data, sharing data, testing with good tests with diligence and rigor!

      (sarc… no off switch —when it comes to the clusterf*ck that has been our response to covid)

      8 Billion of us by early 2023.

  7. svay

    Here Comes the Limited Hangout

    According to Lee Smith, the author, “Just as this strategy [‘limited hangout’, or, basically, admitting the details are wrong while sticking to the story] failed to protect Richard Nixon and his men, chances are it won’t help culpable reporters and news organizations avoid responsibility for their active role in the country’s biggest political crime of the past half-century [Russiagate].”

    So if the MSM can’t avoid responsibility, what will this responsibility entail? Smith has little to say on this, beyond concluding that rather than having their Pulitzer Prizes revoked, “it would be more fitting for the Post and Times to have the prize’s citation emblazoned on their mastheads for posterity.” So they collude with Clinton, the DNC, and spooks to spread nonsense to smear Trump and demonise Russia – thus inflaming international tensions, and making a major, possibly nuclear, war that bit more likely – and as a result, they may lose their Pulitzers, or perhaps parade them. I can’t see either deterring them from a repeat performance.

    1. Questa Nota

      Smith’s article was very informative. Readers of that, and of the Times, Post and other media won’t get much satisfaction when so many of the guilty, morally-bankrupt, despicable people escape without any accountability. What is the new version of Mistakes were made?

      1. drsteve0

        The MSM will probably adopt the ‘Animal House’ stratagem by blaming the consumers of their perfidious piffle rather than themselves. Hey, you phuqued up, you trusted us.

    2. marym

      > “the country’s biggest political crime of the past half-century”

      We’d have to get out the history books and dictionaries for a full debate. However, if we’re talking about more recent times, and if the biggest political crime consists of saying bad things about a powerful politician that turn out to be untrue or greatly exaggerated, disregarding their more serious corruption, and questioning, the legitimacy of their right to hold office we’d have to consider numerous investigations of both Clintons during the 90’s, numerous Benghazi hearings, birtherism, and the response to the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        I view the “story arc” from the Clinton impeachment saga to Bush v. Gore as one long, slow-motion, media-fueled coup, so yes, I think it’s comparable to RussiaGate (and perhaps payback for it, for those with very long memories and the ability to hold a grudge).

        Benghazi is not comparable, partly because Presidents were not involved, partly because the Republicans never did come up with a coherent narrative, so far as I could tell, and the whole thing misfired.

        Trump’s “Stop the Steal” efforts are, in my view, not remotely comparable to either the Clinton impeachment saga nor RussiaGate (though they may have been payback for it). For one thing, the whole omnishambles was run, if that is the word I want, by clowns. For another, the backing of major players was lacking. Not the press, not the intelligence community, not an army of Republican lawyers and oppo researchers, and no party structure, not even the Republicans.

        1. marym

          I see the story arc that includes 2020 presidential election-gate as the long-term Republican project to achieve permanent minority rule at every level of governance. This project — including some aspects of 2020 — does have the support of right-wing political, legal, media, think tank, religious, and donor elites.

          1. BillyBob

            The corporate capture of our political system is inversely correlated to good governance – that is the arc. You are focusing on scenes and acts and not the play.

      2. fresno dan

        December 4, 2021 at 10:38 am
        I agree with you. What happened to Trump was bad, but was it the worst??? I would quibble about the fact that the FBI and FISA court showed themselves to be utterly unprincipled is novel – although now that I think about it, J. Edgar Hoover and Martin Luther King… The fact is that the US is not a Shining City on a Hill, defender of democracy abroad or at home, or the best system of government ever devised, and never was. Such persistent and prevasive self delusion says something.
        As much as I despise Trump, and perhaps this is simply a desire to try to see a silver lining, perhaps what appears as cynicism in our politics today is really a more realistic assessment that our government, whether run by the rich or the powerful (but I repeat myself…e.g. suppose you were an idiot and a member of congress, but I repeat myself) does not represent the vast majority of people.
        Maybe the first stage of solving a problem is recognizing there is a problem…

      3. lyman alpha blob

        Saying bad things is far from all that was done here. There was serious partisan abuse of the intelligence services, with the complicity of those intelligence services. Only thing worse was the Bush people doing the same thing to set the Middle East on fire. In the latter case, the abuse was arguably much more bipartisan.

        I’m sure everyone involved will get a nice promotion and get out of jail free card.

      4. Michael McK

        I posit that both Obama’s use of a polio eradication campaign as cover in the assassination of Osama bin Laden and Trump’s assassination of General Soleimani were primarily done for domestic political reasons and vie for the title of biggest recent political crime. I also consider them war crimes but since we were not technically at war I will defer to the experts.

    3. Detroit Dan

      Regardless of the ultimate outcome, that was a really good piece of investigative journalism by Lee Smith. He connects a lot of dots and shows motives for seemingly stupid actions with regard to Russiagate. Highly recommended!

    4. Sawdust

      There will be zero culpability for media, intelligence agencies, etc. because too large a fraction of the public is too deeply invested in believing the story.

  8. lakecabs

    Missouri mask mandates.

    Camden County Pop 42745 Cases 6653 Deaths 146. No shut downs poor mask wearing and poorly vacinnated. Kids attend school. 3,5 deaths per thousand.

    Jackson County. Higher vacine rate. Mask wearers. School closures.Lock downs.
    Pop 719511 Cases 127951 Deaths 1792. 2.5 deaths per thousand.

    The people in Camden County are willing to live normal with a 1 more in a thousand death difference.

    We feel we will make it up in mental health. Kids learning and social skills. No suicides from failing businesses.

    1. Tbone

      Hey my dad was from Camden County – Climax Springs, Mo.
      Just to note Camden might be the poorest county and Jackson isn’t the most wealthy but close.
      Just fyi

    2. lordkoos

      Talking only about actual deaths is very misleading, since so many people go on to have long-term symptoms after an infection — the effects of that will be an ongoing problem.

    3. CuriosityConcern

      Camden area: 707 mi2
      Jackson area: 616 mi2

      Camden case rate: 6653/42,745=15.6%
      Jackson case rate: 127,951/719,511=17.8

      Camden Mort among cases: 146/6,653=2.19%
      Jackson Mort among cases: 1,792/127,951=1.40%

      Camden pop sqr mi:60.5
      Jackson pop sqr mi:1,168

      Camden mortality rate of those that do get a case seems worse, don’t know if it’s significant.

      Your posts always make me think, where does your freedom end and mine start? I’m not saying this is happening, but what if Camden was/becomes a reservoir that continually causes outbreaks on surrounding or even further afield locales, would you consider wearing a mask ro help other communities?

    4. FluffytheObeseCat

      “We feel we will make it up in mental health. Kids learning and social skills. No suicides from failing businesses

      Propaganda recipe:

      Take one article focused on high level politicians’ active suppression of a study on mask use, because it annoyed them by documenting masks help slow the spread of disease.

      1) Do not address this topic! Instead:
      2) Assert masks damage mental health. Don’t prove it, just claim it. Repeat vigorously.
      3) Insinuate masks damage kids’ social skills. Don’t prove it, just claim it. Repeat. Pretend data that debunks this assertion isn’t already available from the East Pacific littoral.
      4) Write about failed businesses and suicides in order to link them in readers’ minds with masks. Do not demonstrate any causal links; pretend lockdowns and forced business closures are the same as mask use while living normally. Repeat as needed.

      When finished, hope that no readers remembers the article was about suppressing the publication of taxpayer-funded data.

      1. skippy

        The small business and think of the kids angle are the most pernicious i.e. where is the anguish about 90+% of small business fail in 5- years in normal times, nope, not a word, trope is only trotted out when its time to deploy the liberty and freedom cannons …. funny that.

        Oh and where is the anxiety about kids well being during normal times as C-corps sees them as entry level income streams to develop and extract from during their lives. Top shelf psychiatrists targeting kids 3-5 yrs old, fast-fashion, parental nagging, cog/widget Edu Certificate debt mills, by the time you reach 40 you’ll have had 11+ primary jobs, and best for last by the time you reach 50 your legacy costs have some MBA twitching to see you line item deleted for the health of the balance sheet.

        With this covid thingy … it seems a classic case of denying reality because it does not conform to ones ideology, concocted out of whole cloth, which invariably results in blind pin the tail on some donkey, fear fueled target seeking, and it some cases an almost catatonic state e.g. am I really here … is this really happening to ***MY*** life … lmmao image a lifetime of conditioning to shop and be served only to have it severely diminished or stopped.

        Anywho …. here in Marsupial land we have increased protests in HellBOrne, which IMO is strong with the IPA sorts, and case numbers just won’t go down, now introducing Omni … what a show …

  9. Samuel Conner

    > nanopore sequencing

    It looks like the analogy is in forcing a biopolymer to pass through a tiny orifice as a way of controlling the arrival of the individual monomers at a sensor that determines their identity.

    Perhaps an orderly arrival of the cats at the feeding station is important to maintain peace in the herd.

    (Me thinks this must be part of the technology that is in view in recent mentions of nucleic acids as information storage alternatives to current magnetic disc and solid state technologies.)

  10. The Rev Kev

    ‘Jello Bea Arthur
    completely losing my mind over this courtroom sketch of ghislaine maxwell staring straight at the artist and drawing them right back’

    And here we are seeing the real Ghislaine Maxwell at work. Even when she is on trial and in the middle of a court room, she is seeking to intimidate the one person who, because of her job, is concentrating on her. Can you imagine her going to work on those young teens with the same level of ad hoc intimidation techniques?

    1. JohnA

      I had limited professional dealings with her father when he bought the Daily Mirror. A grossly unpleasant, bullying and intimidating monster. And as much a liar as Johnson.

    2. svay

      If drawing amounts to intimidation, shouldn’t whoever’s drawing Maxwell be ejected from the court?

      1. The Rev Kev

        Well they could have given that sketch artist a camera or allowed her to use her mobile to take a picture in court but that’s a no-no. Maybe they should eject the Court reporter for transcribing every word that Maxwell says as well. I’d be intimidated by that. :)

          1. jefemt

            + 1000.

            That was my first thought: wow that value will make NFT real estate blush with jealousy!

            Add a Banksy Shredder, and Katie, Bar The Door!

      2. griffen

        I have zero pity or empathy for Maxwell, who is on trial for her coordinated efforts beside Epstein for many years. The defense lawyers are aiming to spin that she can’t be tried for the sins and egregious treatment of young teenage girls (high school age). Not young women.

        Epstein is no longer with the living, opting to take the low road out of life. I am hopeful the prosecution pins all the charges that legally stick to Maxwell.

        Epstein was an alpha male predator of the worst kind, and he needed aid and assistance. She wasn’t just compliant in doing so.

        1. Wukchumni

          Epstein was quizzical
          Studied physical science in the home
          Late nights all alone with a ‘test tube’
          Oh, oh, oh, oh

          Maxwell-Ghisalaine, majoring in meddling
          Calls him on the phone
          “you know they have us together in pictures, oh!’
          But as he’s getting ready to go
          A knock comes on the cell door

          Bang! Bang! Maxwell’s silver hammer
          Came down upon his head
          Clang! Clang! Maxwell’s silver hammer
          Made sure that he was dead

          Back in court again, Maxwell plays the fool again
          Judge gets annoyed
          Wishing to avoid an unpleasant scene
          He tells Max to stay when the jury has gone away
          So she waits behind
          Writing fifty times “I must not be so”
          But when he turns her back on her ploy
          She creeps up from behind

          Bang! Bang! Maxwell’s silver hammer
          Came down upon his head
          Clang! Clang! Maxwell’s silver hammer
          Made sure that he was dead

          P. C. Thirty-One
          Said “We caught a dirty one”
          Maxwell stands alone
          Painting testimonial pictures
          Oh, oh, oh, oh

          Bill & Andy screaming from the gallery
          Say she must go free (Maxwell must go free)
          The judge does not agree, and he tells them so
          But as the words are leaving his lips
          A noise comes from behind
          Bang! Bang! Maxwell’s silver hammer
          Came down upon his head
          Clang! Clang! Maxwell’s silver hammer
          Made sure that he was dead

          Silver hammer, man

          1. lordkoos

            Nice work as usual, Wukchumni. John Lennon once mentioned how much he hated that tune (which was all McCartney).

            1. Charger01

              I prefer the slightly caustic animated version from the artist “hot diggity demon”….its quite an experience.

            2. jonboinAR

              Ah, simpler times, when the exploits of a (fictional) serial killer could be treated as gentle comedy, complete with perversely adoring fans (Rose and Valerie).

        2. Questa Nota

          She’ll probably be found guilty of various counts. In the meantime, those who were injured physically, emotionally and in other ways will get small comfort knowing that so many of their abusers will remain relatively unknown to the larger audience. Or at least unaccountable, so far.
          What would it take for just one blackmail victim to provide credible testimony or evidence of the schemes and crimes at that ghoul archipelago of Epstein’s? Are their eyes all wide shut?

          On a related note, I expect that the recent rash of resignations among politicians and business executives includes some with secrets to try to keep buried.

          1. nycTerrierist

            We were told there were cameras all over Epstein’s various abodes —-
            whatever became of all that evidence?

            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              The cameras were very carefully “malfunctioned” for the period of time needed to get Epstein asssuicided.

              I remember reading about how some days after the first failed “suicide” attempt, that Attorney General Barr visited the jail supposedly to berate all the staff there for “incompetence”. My personal belief is that he went there to tell the staff they would have one more chance to “suicide” Epstein and that they dare not fail in the second attempt.

              1. drumlin woodchuckles

                Pardon my irrelevant reply. I see now you were referring to Epstein’s own pleasure-mansion cameras.

                Well, whoever had Epstein suissassinated probably also had people retrieve every bit of everything in all Epstein’s cameras and storages.

                I speculate that the only thing which stops “whomever” from having killed Maxwell by now, or into the future, is their fear that she has placed huge amounts of this material in “good hands” which she can trust to release it to the world if she is killed or disappeared or even treated too unbearably badly in prison if that’s where she goes. What else could have deterred the Epstein assassins from having killed Maxwell as well?

      3. ArvidMartensen

        It’s a power thing, imo.
        She is using this action to assert her power to intimidate, like
        “You represent authority and yet you can’t stop me doing the same as you”, Or
        “I can remember who you are for later”, Or
        “Don’t forget I have power even here”.

        I find what she is doing psychopathic and chilling. Which is the aim.

      4. Yves Smith

        No, courtroom sketches are permitted. Have you never seen a celebrity trail? Courtroom sketches are a staple. The court is public. Judges often disallow recording devices because they can be distracting for the jury but sketches are always kosher.

    3. Robert Hahl

      She is breaking the fourth wall. Why does anyone do that? In order to call bullshit on the proceedings. But it doesn’t mean that she is innocent.

        1. skippy

          Actually quite pathetic – meager attempt too project some notion of I know your face and have it saved for another day. I would assume she observed this bit of posturing from way back in her early years not only from family, but the social circles they ran in …

          At this level of society there are so many little nuances one can observe as a fly on the wall …

    4. Stan

      >> Can you imagine her going to work on those young teens with the same level of ad hoc intimidation techniques?

      Can you image her going to work on her fellow inmates? Or on some of her wealthier clients — the ones with too much to lose if she rats?

  11. griffen

    From the bonus dog video, one can hope that dog’s name is Les, named for the quirky character from WKRP. In the show, he instructed his colleagues to respect his office barriers, albeit fictional barriers they were.

  12. svay

    completely losing my mind over this courtroom sketch of ghislaine maxwell staring straight at the artist and drawing them right back

    It could be her way of concentrating. I do much the same in meetings, doodling away while taking it all in. If I don’t doodle, my mind rapidly wanders!

  13. allan

    Gilead Issues A Voluntary Nationwide Recall Of Two Lots Of Veklury® (Remdesivir)
    Due To Presence Of Glass Particulates

    Foster City, Calif., December 3, 2021 – Gilead Sciences Inc.(Nasdaq: GILD) today announced it is voluntarily recalling two lots of Veklury® (remdesivir 100 mg for injection) to the user level. Gilead Sciences Inc. received a customer complaint, confirmed by the firm’s investigation, of the presence of glass particulates.

    Risk Statement: The administration of an injectable product that contains glass particulates may result in local irritation or swelling in response to the foreign material. If the glass particulate reaches the blood vessels it can travel to various organs and block blood vessels in the heart, lungs or brain which can cause stroke and even lead to death. To date, Gilead Sciences Inc. has not received any reports of adverse events related to this recall. …

    If you didn’t have ground glass opacity before, you will now.

  14. john

    What was the point of the WEF article on the Great Resignation, please? Scant on data, huge on pre-digested conclusions. Corporate-speak by the likes of Klolz and Welpe is one reason I left management consulting. If we follow quit rate data by education (NYT chart), then we should focus on people with a high school education or less. But I guess there are no HBS/consulting opportunities there.

    1. griffen

      There was a point but in practical terms the territory has been covered. Employees across a broad spectrum feel somewhat empowered to take a hold of their work and life balance.

      I posted a comment to a previous post this week, wherein I suggested organizations lose employees when there is poor leadership. For chiefly that reason I walked away earlier in 2021. I’m now actively searching / interviewing for the next role.

  15. anon y'mouse

    What is ‘The Great Resignation’? An expert explains World Economic Forum

    ok, the title alone is making me laugh hysterically. does one dare even read it?

    isn’t the equivalent something like “what the enclosures mean to former serfs, the Master of the Bedchamber explains it”?

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      oh go on and read it,lol.
      it’s a pretty good example of that kind of talk and the mindset behind it.
      as are the linked things within it…especially this one:

      on how to keep yer “talent” when everyone’s running away…they gloss over “Pay Better” and “Don’t be evil”…and land on 4 bullet points of idiocy and corpspeak.
      i mean, sure…their target audience for these missives/stone tablets are better off office types, but still…like i said, just keep polishing the mirrored inner surface of the bubble universe. Everything’s fine.

      the blind incompetence of our ur-rulers is pretty staggering…but here we are, stuck in the world they’ve engineered for us.
      how does one get from the former(moron harkonens=>) to the latter(world domination)?
      that might be the biggest political economy/anthropology question of our age.
      when i read this sort of thing…and especially the tripe from WEF, which is supposed to be the very Mouth of Sauron…my thoughts inevitably go to “ok…they violate every prescription of Sun Tzu…why can’t we beat them and drive them into a hole?”

      1. fresno dan

        Amfortas the hippie
        December 4, 2021 at 11:42 am
        The astounding amount of hypocrisy of those who worship mo’ money, mo’ money, MO’ Money is to be expected. For people who think money is the only thing that motivates people, and money SHOULD be the only thing that motivates people, it is always something that puts me into apoplexy that those people think we don’t notice that their philosophy is Mo’ money for them and none for us.

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          yeah. they mention “incentives”…and “wellness”(not healthcare)..but no “Living Wage”…or, indeed, “wages”, at all.
          but i suppose that the people in these Thinktanks and “Panels” don’t really worry about money in their personal lives…they worry incessantly about it symbolically, but not about how they’ll pay for coffee.
          i remember an article, many years ago(don’t remember where) about all the free shit really rich folks get on a daily basis…from that coffee to hotel rooms and golfing excursions…on and on…i wish i could remember at least who wrote it, because it was eye opening.

          last time we went to san antone, for a follow up to an outpatient surgery…wife and i sort of invaded the area adjacent to the Dominion…a rich enclave just west of the city.
          fancy mexican food place…for lunch….wife in her pajamas, me in my usual redneck hippie attire, with large turkey feathers in my rumpled hat, and a barbed wire hole in my shirt…
          portly older men in pastel shirts and those loud golf shorts that cost more than my car, sitting at the bar drunk on brightly colored tropical concoctions(at 11am, no less*)…their wives/mistresses, presumably, gathered at tables over fancy chips…giving wife and i the stink eye,lol.
          i made sure to spit over the railing…and they were aghast…
          we made a point of speaking in spanish to the waiter…again, with the stinkeye…
          then, as we were on the patio, and well away from everyone, i lit up a cig…OMGOMGOMG,lol.
          (one of the drunk husbands had a lit cigar, after all)

          i enjoy these little random invasions, from time to time.
          the absolutely only thing those cretins have over us is their money…0’s and 1’s in a database somewhere… that enough us agree is a marker for social power.
          remove that, and they are, at best, food…otherwise, without their $, they are useless eaters, with no redeeming qualities, in aggregate, that i can discern.
          it’s folly that their preferences are given such great weight.

          (* this double standard regarding inebriation has always stuck in my craw…billboard for a winery in Fredericksburg for a number of years:”where wine is a pleasure…not a party”…caused much cussing every time i passed it…the pretentious bastids,lol…I’ve been The Help for a long time…in food service…catering the parties and such of these people, and they get drunk and stupid as much or more than any of us peons….but instead of calling the law, people go out of their way to bustle them into a fainting room. sheesh)

          …and, like my policy with the cops…let the good apples, if they exist, come forth!…otherwise, i know what i have observed all these many years of being an unnoticed facilitator of their debauchery and rapine…skekses, until proven otherwise.

          1. Amfortas the hippie

            and from a Hahhhvahhhd BS school article linked in the WEF(every time i type that, i think of wrestling):

            “2. Identify the root causes.
            Once you’ve identified the scope of your retention problem, it’s time to conduct a detailed data analysis to determine what’s really causing your staff to leave. Ask yourself which factors could be driving higher resignation rates? Exploring metrics such as compensation, time between promotions, size of pay increases, tenure, performance, and training opportunities can help to identify trends and blind spots within your organization. You can also segment employees by categories such as location, function, and other demographics to better understand how work experiences and retention rates differ across distinct employee populations.”

            it doesn’t occur to the experts to advise their expertees to just frelling ask people why they no longer love their jawb.
            says “ask yourself”, though…but never consider asking Those People.
            like asking a belt or a hose what it thinks…
            this part of my Wander makes me think of 2 things: 1. while i was a keyman cook/kitchen manager for 26 years, i’d be asked to the boss’/mgr’s office on occasion, to enlist my help with various things. usually had to wait, and they always had the trade rags all over a side table(just about every food place i worked…corporate down to literal mom/pop).
            I’d either ask to borrow them, or just run off with them, if they were a month old. the Other NRA’s rag was always enlightening(nat’l restaurant association).
            same sort of “metrics” talk scattered throughout, as if everything could be quantified…and other articles, regarding the disciplining of the workers(my translation, there,lol…they used numerous euphemisms)..
            the point, here: on one page, a worker was simply another metric…a mere cog in their great machine…push these buttons and dinner for your customers appears.
            next page would be a rather stentorian catechism that regarded the worker as by definition a reprobate, to be watched and monitored and corrected…these read like something from focus on the family, or some of the angrier internet preachers.

            one of my takeaways from all those years, is that the corporate managers(suits, and wannabe suits) were hopeless…no reform possible, because to them, i really was a machine part.
            at least with the mom and pop’s…of whatever size…you could sometimes get them to ignore all that expert advice, and look upon their employees as humans, with disparate needs and wants, likes and dislikes.
            they’d soon forget about all that hippy dippy stuff, of course…whenever the new NRA rag came in, or they had a struggle session with their accountant,lol…still…
            2. the other thing it makes me think of…is what kind of boss i was, during that little over a year i had my own cafe(9-11 and the engendered hatred of foreign food destroyed me…i was european/cajun/gourmet and adventurous…with a bunch of mediterranean stuff tossed in, including from the Levant…even Persia.)
            i was on a shoestring from the beginning, but i paid my waitstaff $6/hr + tips…tips never counted, either….and they got to eat for free, too: if possible, whatever Special was left over, if not, whatever they wanted.
            they also got free cooking and management lessons, as well as socratic discourse throughout the day. introduced to all manner of crazy music, too.
            and when they’d approach me (timidly, at first…which says volumes) to ask for a specific day off, they were shocked to learn that i was both human, too…and in no need of justifications.
            20 years later, i still get told i was the best boss ever….or the worst, if you ask the other greasy spoon owners, because i made them look bad.
            and my numbers, until 9-11, were better than any of my local competition…not least, in retention….but also loyalty(i had worked in every place around here by then, but never had to poach: they came to me…and since i let them work shifts at the other places, i got a great deal of intelligence out of the deal, too(not quite bidness espionage, but perhaps an ad hoc, rube goldberg variation…they offered this info up, and we talked about it and what it meant*)…food cost(kept it below 12%, which is regarded as miraculous)…and even profit margins(even though i undercut the others on lots of stuff.)
            point is, there’s more than one, holy way to do this,lol…but only if you never listen to the MBA’s and Davos people.
            a sprinkling of Humanism in all the data analysis would do wonders for the whole world.

            (*this intelligence gathering…i never used it for anything besides watching how my competitors reacted to what i was doing…like they’d attempt to add pasta to the regular menu, and everyone hated it,lol—ie: it was an anthropology exercise… for getting a feel for the ground…and helped me to notice things…like when i stepped out for a cig before the lunch rush, and noticed a large rat with broken legs on my cafe’s back porch, and then the health inspector showed up on a complaint-later confirmed it was the guy across the road, who never ate at my place, but sent in “spies”)

            1. Amfortas the hippie

              this one, also linked to in the original article:

              does talk about wages being important to human beings…
              FTA:”What do loading and stocking, personal care and home health, and childcare jobs all have in common? They are less well-paid and don’t lend themselves to remote working – and all have been shown to be looking for above-average levels of staff.”

              but then they segue into a focus on WFH..likely because that’s where they live, and what they know.
              the gloss, i think, is instructive…”In sectors that are irreversibly in-person, bumping up wages and other incentives is therefore the only lever to attract more applicants, says Indeed’s Konkel. Even this may only be a temporary remedy: the NBER’s study finds the roles that lend themselves to homeworking typically command higher wages than in-person jobs. Those 37% of positions that can be performed remotely account for 46% of all US wages. ”

              so you see? we can only raise wages so much…and we’d rather talk about home offices, any way.
              what I see, on the other hand, in the above quote, is that Mr Market(holy, holy) is a fool, a lovecraftian idiot god, and has overvalued office work and assorted bean counting…and grossly undervalued the people who actually do the dern work.
              but this insight escapes these people.
              “maybe we were wrong”….and “maybe we make too much money”…should be the questions in all such articles…keep scratching their collective heads that way, they gonna go bald.

              1. Amfortas the hippie

                and…lol…dog with a bone…linked to the harvard BS art: “To find out what jobs workers are looking at, the Indeed Hiring Lab has developed the Relative Job Seeker Interest metric.” (

                i would roll on the floor, but the Wilderness Bar often has random turkey shit scattered about.
                in this art, is this graph:

                (don’t know if i know how to do that, it’s the first graphic)

                all that datacrunching and computer power and they still hafta microdose to see the perfectly obvious.

                i understand that my methods…which objectively work pretty well with the boss as the owner/philosopher king, and 20-30 employees… would be difficult to scale up to a distributed workplace with a few thousand bosses, and shareholders and thousands of employees…but maybe that’s part of the fundamental problem, here, too…the enforced trend towards giantism.
                (“get big or get out”-E. Butz)
                yet another unexamined assumption that undergirds the One True Faith…let the Market(world without end) strike me down.

        2. griffen

          As a piano playing Bruce Hornsby once intoned…that’s just the way it is, some things will never change.

      2. NotThePilot

        the blind incompetence of our ur-rulers is pretty staggering…but here we are, stuck in the world they’ve engineered for us.
        how does one get from the former(moron harkonens=>) to the latter(world domination)?
        that might be the biggest political economy/anthropology question of our age.
        when i read this sort of thing…and especially the tripe from WEF, which is supposed to be the very Mouth of Sauron…my thoughts inevitably go to “ok…they violate every prescription of Sun Tzu…why can’t we beat them and drive them into a hole?”

        Weirdly enough, I’ve been blowing my free time on a similar question recently, and also came to Sun Tzu. Actually, Sun Tzu + Marx, so you know this fusion restaurant is going to be wild.

        It’s just the seed of an idea at this point, and I don’t remember the passages in detail (I need to look it up), but at one point, Sun Tzu discusses direct vs. oblique actions. The former are mundane things like attack, defend, move troops, yada-yada, while the latter dabble in lateral thinking: open dams, set fires, spread misinformation, bribe defectors, etc.

        I’ve only read the first volume of Kapital, but I realized that of the capitalist methods Marx describes, they’re almost entirely oblique ones. The part where he discusses how British labor laws were repeatedly sidestepped especially comes to mind.

        I can’t say much more than that yet, but I think that’s part of the problem. Even when labor is able to break out of its funk and find that spirit of solidarity, it marches at everything head-on. But as the saying goes, “It’s a trap!”

        The other thing capital is clearly very good at is exploiting shi, the advantage inherent in one’s position or circumstances. That’s probably why it can stamp out embers so easily except in a crisis (in the Marxist sense) or when circumstances are rapidly changing.

      3. skippy

        They have a model for it mate … full of math and physics … = Truth+ … so no thinking is required …

  16. jsn

    Since it’s paywalled, can someone with access unpack the “ultra left nationalism” oxymoron in the SCMP link?

    I’d like to understand how left and nationalism radicalize with Chinese characteristics…too illiquid at the moment to spring for a subscription.

    1. Dftbs

      I believe you can access the article by googling the headline.

      The SCMP, is known for hewing an Occidental editorial bend. And I’d say this article is very much in spirit with what you find in our media, where outlets will find some quotes on Twitter and make news stories in order to advance the thesis.

      There is a microscopic minority within China and a super majority of Western China “experts” that thought the Chinese weren’t really commies for the last thirty years. They see China’s success as the number of fortunes that were made at the individual level and attribute this to allowing the “animal spirits” of markets to take hold.

      On the other hand, the Party sees China’s success as the lifting of the whole of the population out of poverty. And they attribute this success to a well executed plan whereby the Communists tamed the market and put it to work for the people. There are copious amounts of Chinese political theory showing that the “market” doesn’t equal capitalism. Rather it is one of many tools of resource distribution.

      Where as Capitalists worship the market like some golden calf and use the belief in it to justify their earthly whim; the Chinese would say they took that calf and put him to work plowing fields so they could feed earthly bellies.

      The SCMP article pulls a couple of anecdotes and Internet drama and throws the name of the Great Helmsman about to raise the neck hairs of that microscopic internal minority and foreign super majority. But those people weren’t for “common prosperity” anyway. To them the eradication of poverty was a curious byproduct of CPC policy, so now their really confused to find out it was the goal all along.

      1. Dftbs

        One thing I forgot to mention in my rant, is the article does an increasingly common move of tying leftism in China to patriotism in a negative way.

        It used to be a decade ago that only the fringes of the Western right used the word “communist” in a pejorative sense when talking about China. The rest of the West had swallowed the “globalist” pill and thought China would be our sweatshop forever. Now every aspect of the Western establishment is foaming at the mouth to get at the Chinese communists.

        But before when the Chinese as a society seemed to politely deflect political discussion about competing systems. Now they pounce back. They are proudly communist, and when we Americans are flabbergasted by this declaration they point out we live in a “shit hole country”. After all the times have changed: mothers in Beijing tell their kids to finish their dinner because there are kids starving in America.

        1. lance ringquist

          and nafta billy clinton was warned this would happen.

          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

      2. fresno dan

        December 4, 2021 at 9:21 am
        SPOT ON in your analysis and I agree. Of course, I think the “free marketeers” are so morally repungnant that getting filthy rich isn’t enough for them – if the system is failing to impoverish the other 99%, its a market failure…which is why all of a sudden things that have been going on for decades are now bad, bad, BAD.

        1. Dftbs

          You are right. I think one of the main problems the “West” will have as China clarifies that it is offering a competing system, is that despite our words, cruelty seems to be part-and-parcel of what we are offering. The system needs to impoverish otherwise it’s failing.

          For instance the G7 plan to “Build Back Better World” and compete with the BRI may sound nice if you’re working for an NGO and expecting a grant. But it’s concepts only exist in the fiction that encompasses the “western” brain.

          The truth is that with some limited exceptions led by revolutionary powers, the “West” has had the run of the Global south for the better part of two centuries. If they’re only going to start to “build” now, what the hell have they been doing all that time? The corpses from Kinshasa, to Vientiane, to Santiago tell the story.

          To be honest I think the US has as much ability to execute a large development project in the global south, on the scale China consistently does; as the NY DOT has to fix the BQE from collapsing.

    2. Lee

      Not having breached the pay wall (I’m a cheap bastard), and therefore knowing nothing of the content, I will in any case offer an opinion: in the era of nation states, left wing nationalism makes tactical sense, and for me personally, it appeals to my Stalinoid tendencies when it comes to dealing with neoliberal elites.

    3. svay

      You can access the article by googling the headline, as Dftbs suggests. At least, it just worked for me.

        1. jsn

          All roads lead to the paywall for me. They’re likely tracking me as I read them fairly often, maybe used up a monthly minimum or something.

          So, SCMP is using “left” like our MSM to mean “liberal”?

          Or to suggest that the CCP is actually Communist?

          1. svay

            SCMP’s using ultra-left to refer to those who’d cut all capitalists down to size in the interests of egalitarianism, thereby hindering growth if not crippling the economy. The article mentions things like the Great Leap Forward, the People’s Communes and the Anti-Rightist Campaign as examples of a tendency it sees today. (How true or valid any of this is is another matter.)

            1. jsn

              So, the latter.

              Per MSM protocol ignoring the vast gulf, essentially everything that’s ever worked, between winner take all capitalism and Great Leap Maoism.

              Minimize the solution space to the status quo.

          2. Vandemonian

            In my experience websites which track my visits do so using data within my browser. My partial solution is to use multiple browsers. On my iPad I use Brave as my standard browser, but I also use others from time to time: Safari, Opera, Chrome, Tor and Firefox. If a site tells me I’ve used up my quota of free views for the month, I just copy/paste the link to another browser.

      1. ambrit

        I think you’ve just Alienated me. The CCP has reiterated it’s commitment to a Chinese Space Station, so, one could opine that the CCP is in good, er, hands: Xi-no-morph.

  17. Wukchumni

    On the first day of Christmas
    Fauci said to me
    No need for a mask you see

    On the second day of Christmas
    Fauci said to me
    Get 2 in the arm needle shoves
    And no need for a mask you see

    On the third day of Christmas
    Fauci said to me
    You’ll need a 3rd booster shot
    Get 2 in the arm needle shoves
    And no need for a mask you see

    {… please continue on in the days of our lives}

    1. fresno dan

      December 4, 2021 at 8:52 am
      Sorry I missed your birthday – as I said yesterday:
      fresno dan
      December 3, 2021 at 8:36 pm
      December 3, 2021 at 10:18 am
      Oh man, I’m sorry I missed your birthday – I’m just opening the afternoon links. I always wanted to go to Cat Haven but have never got around to it.
      You know, there is this place called Cat House on the Kings

      I remember how disappointed I was when I got there – I love cats and cat rescue, but I was all looking forward to something else completely different…

      1. Wukchumni

        Cat Haven begins with a starter feline in the guise of a trio of bobcats and they only get bigger from a serval cat to 4 lynx and another 4 jaguars, leaping leopards (cute cloudy cub along with others) & cheetahs, lions & tigers oh my. Some of them really liked showing off, the Amur tigers were playful.

        Some might claim the place is canineist, as there are prominent NO DOGS ALLOWED signs well before you get to the entrance, just off Hwy 180. Every dog has it’s day, but this wasn’t it.

        They have 3 mountain lions, a pair of them being yearling sisters and about the same size as the pair I saw early one morning in August 2020, the nearest less than 5 feet away from me in my rocking chair with a laptop opened up, it turned around and walked down to the other end of the deck, and there was it’s mate of the same size 20 feet further down.

        It was all over in 5 seconds, the whole encounter.

        An hour-ish tour @ Cat Haven is $15 and it’s a guided walk and if you can’t do that, there’s a ride in the golf cart with the guide if you like.

  18. ex-PFC Chuck

    Re “Blast from the past: PG&E continues to privatize San Francisco’s electricity Yasha Levine”

    Although the struggle between PG&E and citizens of San Francisco as the city was electrifying in the early 20th century was unique because of the water connection, public and private power advocates were at each other’s throats around the country right up until the USA entered the Second World War.
    One of the most interesting, not to mention influential industry people of that era was Samuel Insull. To the extent anyone remembers the context in which they know his name today it’s as the purported Exhibit A of the excesses of the consolidation of electric utility companies into trusts during the 1920s. In the biography written about 1960, Forrest McDonald asserts it was a bad rap, that he entered the trust game late as a defensive measure, and that his fall had been set up by the Morgan interests of New York. They had never forgiven him for resigning as the first CEO of General Electric in the early 1890s and decamping to Chicago to form, without their financial backing, one of several electric utility companies to operate in the city.
    He very soon recognized several realities that apparently went over the heads of his competitors: competing distribution lines running down the same street were a great argument for a monopoly service provider; and privately owned utility monopoly operators would lose the war against public power unless they could restrain their predatory instincts. Soon after Insull began buying up other Chicago electric distribution companies to form Commonwealth Edison Co., he shocked and infuriated his peers elsewhere in the country, not to mention Wall Street, by advocating investor owned utility monopolies submit to state price regulation. Thus was born the industry structure of geographically defined service areas, each served by a vertically integrated monopoly entity. Some were state or municipally owned, others investor owned. This structure stood until Wall Street began promoting “deregulation” in the 1980s.
    McDonald’s portrait of Insull’s role in the electric utility industry of the analogous role Steve Jobs played in computers. He was not himself a technology innovator, but he had an uncanny vision of new technologies’ potentials that his peers didn’t see. Case in point. He realized early on the nascent steam turbine technology would not only be more efficient than reciprocating engines, but also offer a much higher capacity limit. In the fun fact category Insull is one of two people I’ve run across whose career took off in no small measure because he was adept at shorthand. The other was Fulgencio Batista.

    1. Lee

      A nice foray into historical nooks and crannies. While within the domain of PG&E, our town’s electric company is municipally owned. The natural gas we still get from PG&E even after a fault in their system back in ’94 caused our house to burn down along with a couple of dozen others.

  19. The Rev Kev

    ‘Unfortunately, Cuba’s nasal vaccine, Mambisa, is still in clinical trials, so we can’t simply place an order for it.’

    Doesn’t matter if it was even fully approved. Biden would never allow the import of it to the United States as it would threaten the profits of Big Pharma and that is something his donors would never allow. I would go so far as to say that even if the import of such a nasal spray would guarantee him a major win for the Democrats in 2022, that he would still not do it as his donors would be against it and the security establishment could never tolerate Cuba getting a win.

      1. The Rev Kev

        My apologies then. I should have guessed that you weren’t serious and I was thinking ahead of what would happen if it turned out to be successful.

      2. svay

        If they can master the cold chain (Mambisa likes to be stored between 2 & 8°C), there are already smuggling networks in place for North Americans wishing to stick stuff up their noses.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Also, “smart” politicos will also whisper about how Cubans in Miami are this close to voting Democratic just like retired Jews in Florida are perpetually this close to voting Republican.

    2. Samuel Conner

      It would be quite something if Cuba’s pharma industry were to be the one that ends the pandemic.

      Per this link,

      Cuba is ranked just above US in terms of life expectancy.

      One imagines that the gap may grow a bit when 2021 full year “let ‘er rip” numbers are in.

      I wonder how loud the gnashing of teeth will be if an isolated socialist something-house country ends up saving the world.

  20. Mikel

    “Unfortunately, Cuba’s nasal vaccine, Mambisa, is still in clinical trials, so we can’t simply place an order for it.”

    Why not? We basically placed orders and put out current therapies before trials ended.

    Anyway, at the beginning of the pandemic millions/billions of Asians that had dealt with Sars type viruses put on masks. People here couldn’t be bothered to think they knew anything.
    Imagine if China or Russia came out with the real vaccine – meaning Sterilizing?

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      China and or Russia might well sell it to countries feasibly nearest to the US so Americans could go there as covax tourists. Perhaps ChinaRussia could even help those countries arrange for mass-tour-groups of Americans to go there and come back at cheaper rates of travel and modest accomodations while there if a waiting period is needed to see how the vaccine does in each patient.

  21. Screwball

    Prosecutor lays out disturbing timeline in explaining why school shooting suspect’s parents were charged CNN. I’m not going to fuel the moral panic by quoting the timeline, but holy moley…..

    Oxford Michigan shooting. I followed this as much as I could since I am in a school with high school kids and backpacks. Nobody checks the backpacks apparently. They don’t where I’m at either. We cannot bring in personal computers, but I watched a kid sit at his desk with a laptop, 2 sets of headphones, and a gaming keyboard about 2″ tall. I asked the other kids how he got that in here – backpack. Nice! He could have brought in enough firepower to wipe out half the school.

    Of course we don’t require masks either, and they quit checking temperatures of everyone at the door after last year – you know – when the virus wasn’t as bad as it is now. But I digress…

    Back to Oxford; why wouldn’t that school call the cops, or refuse to let the kid back into class????? If the parents refused to take him out of school – the school should have told them he goes with them, or the cops will be called and they can take him out. They are responsible for the safety of the other kids, teachers, and everyone in that school. Unbelievable.

    But then again, from what I see go on in our schools (I’m about 3 hours from Oxford, but in Ohio) I’m not in the least bit surprised. I have been in a high school setting for 3 years and all I see is ineptitude from our school system. Not so much from the teachers and foot soldiers who are doing the actual work – but the administration themselves. It is truly mind boggling.

    1. aletheia33

      i had a similar question. i could only surmise that some regulation prohibited school personnel from simply ordering a kid’s backpack to be opened in such a situation so they could see what the kid was carrying.

      seems to me that the school personnel involved in that meeting carry a burden of guilt along with the parents. hope to be corrected if i’m wrong.

    1. griffen

      That is weird, and very creepy to look at. And besides, I think many of us have watched enough science fiction over the years to understand that the android / humanoid / artificial person is not to be trusted. Or in Ex Machina, one can’t trust the pursuit of such technology from a megalomaniac visionary.

  22. Wukchumni

    Harris pols are trending downwards in a race against polls and its neck & neck, but in these cruel times could get catapulted into the Presidency, cause’ that’s how fate rolls these days, downhill.

    1. Cal

      Appropriate for a woman who started her political career down on her knees worshipping the bishop of Kingmaker Willie, but who then pulled herself up by her kneepads. Gravity and …

  23. DJG, Reality Czar

    Antidote: Cranes are magnificent.

    Stealing some data outta Wikipedia:

    The red-crowned crane, also called the Manchurian crane or Japanese crane is a large East Asian crane among the rarest cranes in the world. In some parts of its range, it is known as a symbol of luck, longevity, and fidelity.

    In Japan, this crane is known as the tanchōzuru and is said to live for 1,000 years.

    What most amazes me about the crane photographed is that the wingspan is likely to be more than two meters—some eight feet.

    What strikes me most when hearing cranes live, flying overhead, is that call: Primordial. Like a chthonic deity.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      it’s been many years, now…but Sandhill used to stop over in the field behind the house, fall and spring.
      this was when peanut farming was still a thing around here(Clinton’s last Farm Bill killed the subsidies, earning the Clintondems the hatred of all these farmers out here)

      they were magnificent…taller than me, and wings that stretched out forever.
      great big birds…and loud, too, when they got to clicking their beaks and squawking.

      another bird that’s all but vanished is the white Cattle Egret…still lots and lots of cows, but no egrets, at least for the last 10 years.
      they used to also migrate through here in great flocks…would mistake my big greenhouse for a pond on cloudy days, and often circle around it for an hour…whoosh….whoosh…
      i suspect pesticide, but don’t know.

      we still get the occasional Long Legged Duck( usually in pairs or foursomes…that stop over, going and coming, to visit with the Geese for a time.
      they’re pretty cool, and don’t seem to fear me(maybe the geese said something).

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        As common as the cattle egret used to be, why would it have become so rare? Is there some new kind of pesticide being applied to all the cattle such that the egrets find no insects on the cattle to eat any more? Or no insects anywhere in the cattle pasture and range around there?

  24. Tom Stone

    I am quite concerned about the effects of the Omicron variant on what’s left of the US healthcare system.
    Many support staff have left the field as well as Dr’s and nursing staff, and given that the burn out rate is already high, any additional strain may well lead to a total breakdown.
    It seems like a good time to go long reefer trucks.

  25. Mikel

    Re: Prosecutor timeline about why parents were charged

    “The day before the shooting, a teacher at Oxford High School saw Ethan Crumbley searching online for ammunition on his phone.”

    “On November 30, the day of the shooting, Ethan Crumbley’s teacher came across a note that “alarmed her to the point that she took a picture of it on her cell phone,” the prosecutor said.”

    “Came across”…how vague.

    But these two points give credence to reports by other students that there were stories going around well-before about an expected shooting. Some kids were reported to “have a feeling” about that day and stayed home.

    These teachers were on high alert and already looking at Crumbley closely. But what if Crumbley was just the one who beat some others to the punch? Between home and gunz and a buzz about violence already going around the school, he was indeed primed and ready.
    Also a frightening thought.

  26. Mikel

    Re: Vaccine dosing intervals

    “Longer mRNA vaccine dosing intervals demonstrated improved immunogenicity, which was consistent when responses were measured based on timing of the first or second dose…”

    Going to hard to walk back time after operation rush job or whatever it was called.

    And it’s not out of the question researchers found this out before deployment. I can hear some exec saying, “But dude…two shots per financial quarter…”

    We won’t know for decades. That’s when alot of the research will be allowed to made public. Those details…

  27. lyman alpha blob

    RE: Debt collectors can now text, email and DM you on social media

    And presumably now you can tell them to [family blog] right the hell off on text, email and social media too.

    There are practically zero requirements to get into the debt collection business, and many of them purchase debts for pennies on the dollar. Threaten to sue them for harassment or just harass them right back when they call and that will get them off your back since they are generally just blowing smoke trying to scare you into paying. No one should ever pay these ghouls a dime.

    1. fresno dan

      lyman alpha blob
      December 4, 2021 at 10:46 am
      Don’t get mad, get even. There are a number of laws (many state specific) about what debt collectors can do and CAN’T do. I posted just one link, but there are probably others that are better. One past problem is that people are bad at documenting phone calls. NOW, people can just keep the texts, as well as the text sent in response that one no longer wishes to be contacted.

      1. Cal

        If they have an unusual name, look them up and post personal details about them on your social media account. They started it.

    2. JBird4049

      Some problems with debt collectors is that often the wrong person is accused (and harassed) as well as the debts being passed the statue of limitations or too old to collect. This does not stop many of the ghouls from trying to collect as they just want money from someone, any one.

    3. Librarian Guy

      Thanks to the poster, l.a.b. above, and to the commenters. So I cancelled my Auto Insurance legally, one day after having signed up, in May 2020, once Covid hit, realizing I could find something far cheaper working from home & driving way less. The insurance company was cool, complied with California state law, and agreed I was within my rights, emailed me confirmation, etc. . . So I didn’t trust them to cut me the $260 refund check in a timely manner, and did an AmEx dispute. They never got the $$ . . . in the interim, they sent me a $260 check!! I didn’t even realize I had it until I got a warning from some sleazy debt collection agency in August . . . so I opened all my old, unopened junk mail and found the check. I wrote “Void” on it, took a pic and downloaded it to the computer. I sent the Collection sleazebags proof that I wasn’t going to cash it, had written Void over it, and it was only good for 6 months anyway . . . So they ceased and desisted harassing me, gave up . . . Until I moved!! Evidently my change of address got one of them to crawl out from under their rock and try to extort $260 from me again, over a year after giving up, knowing I had not a single penny “owed” to my former insurer!! Anyway, great tips and I will follow up, I’d already warned them not to harass me the first time, hopefully this was desperation or incompetence on their part. True bottom feeders!! You have to wonder how some people live with themselves. (Oh yeah, photo of voided check of course is saved in my files)

  28. Dan

    Two more Harris aides leaving..speaking of Willie Brown and “our democracy”– Add Newsom and the state Democratic machine to that corrupt equation:

    After barbecuing hundreds of people for profits, and criminal convictions against utilities: “The Newsom plan would presume the utilities to be innocent if they have met the higher safety standards to be imposed and otherwise acted prudently, thus allowing damage claims to be shifted from stockholders to ratepayers.
    The $21 billion damages fund – details still to be worked out – would be financed by the utilities themselves and by extending a utility bill surcharge, originally imposed to pay for power purchased during the state’s infamous energy crisis nearly two decades ago.

    Apologies for multiple links: “Newsom and his allies took $208,400 from Pacific Gas and Electric during his run for governor before the public utility began controlled blackouts, ABC’s California affiliate reported in July. PG&E gave the governor the maximum amount of $58,400 and gave another $150,000 to a political spending group supporting his candidacy.”

    Newsom extended the operating license of the trouble prone Diablo Canyon nuclear reactors, which straddle 3 earthquake faults when he was on the State Lands Commission.

    Finally, our former alleged attorney general: “According to the lawsuit, Harris knew in 2013 of allegations that SCE was already unlawfully charging ratepayers for San Onofre. She knew of evidence showing that SCE decided to install flawed steam generators to save money and avoid new safety licensing from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. She knew of Senator Barbara Boxer’s call for a criminal investigation, and she knew of Peevey’s secret Warsaw meeting. But she elected to sit on her hands.”

  29. fresno dan
    How did the cable news networks become our main stage?
    Nary a day goes by without somebody saying something stupid somewhere on cable that ignites a national uproar that seizes the news cycle for days. On Wednesday, Tucker Carlson praised the journalism of Infowars fantasist Alex Jones on his Fox News Channel show, and that sparked coverage in the Washington Post, the Daily Beast, HuffPost and elsewhere.
    Why all this attention when cable news barely matters to most Americans? The average audience commanded by Maddow and Cooper and Hannity and all the others slithering down your cable cord is so tiny you can almost get away with calling cable news a niche media. According to October numbers from TV Newser, the three major cable networks attract an average audience of only 4.2 million viewers during primetime, which is when viewing peaks. In a nation of 330 million, that’s just a little over 1 percent of the population.
    Cable news exists and persists because as small as its audience is, it’s a highly profitable business. Pew Research estimates the three cable networks earn a combined $4 billion a year.
    Good points all, but what Shafer omits is that “serious” news outlets like NYT and the Washington Post as well as CBS, NBC, and ABC all covered Russiagate as though it were true. They didn’t need cable news to be oblivious to reality or biased in their analysis of events, or their complete suspension of disbelief.
    I flip around each of the cable networks for a few minutes almost nightly – for entertainment purposes and I suspect a lot of people due the same. For the tiny fraction of people who actually believe Hannity or Maddow, I view them with the same compassion I have for anyone with a mental defect…

    1. Darthbobber

      The number of people consuming the cable news/talk programming greatly exceeds the number watching it on an actual television in prime time.

  30. Jason Boxman

    Fighting for every American means that, whether you live in Manhattan, N.Y. or Manhattan, Mont., you have an opportunity to climb the economic ladder and a temporary safety net to catch you if you stumble.

    So Bullock summarizes American style neoliberalism in a sentence. Why does anyone need to climb a ladder? Why is the good life always a brutal climb? Why must you be savaged if you fall? What a diseased mindset. Civil society out to be a warm blanket everyone is wrapped in, every moment of every day. Universal healthcare, with vision and dental, a dignified retirement, dignified and meaningful employment, and time enough to find joy and satisfaction in the world, while not being poisoned in body or mind by those that would extract everything from the living.

    Instead, because markets, go die.

  31. Mikel

    “Elliott Buys More Than $200 Million Twitter Shares On Dip” Bloomberg

    Hey, Bloomberg…be sure to let people know as soon as those are being sold as well. Or will that be news that waits for end of quarter reporting that makes no headlines?

    1. lambert strether

      Both Yves and Imhave been recommending Povidone enthusiastically for (I’m guessing) well over a year. Do try to keep up. Would I want a sterilizing vaccine? Yes, of course, I believe strongly in layered defenses

      1. Klärchen

        I do try to keep up but I still have a question about nasal washes. Is this a topic you’ve covered? Any suggestions from anybody?

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        A povidone nasal inhaler would be a new way to apply it. And if there are some people who simply cannot/ will not gargle, but would use a nasal inhaler; that would be a useful new development.

        1. Basil Pesto

          This is what has been done I think. Buy an aerosoliser online (or irl if you can find one), fill it with appropriately diluted PVP-I solution. Spritz away. That’s for the nose, but for the mouth, I believe you need gargling for maximum protection

  32. ahimsa

    UKHSA Efficacy Stats Death Watch: Week 48 eugyppius (JD).

    Nice to see @eugyppius get a mention. He has also written some very interesting posts on coronaviruses in animals with insights which those vaccination efforts may have for the current crop of human vaccines against COVID-19.

    The UK continues to provide some of the most detailed breakdowns of data on Covid cases with vaccination status.
    For example, they offer the data in 10-year age brackets and differentiate between the following vaccination statuses:

    status unknown,
    21 days after 1st dose,
    >14 days after 2nd dose.

    Eugypppius highlights an increasingly strange trend, which has been evident in the reports since September, whereby infection rates among the vaccinated for some age cohorts (>30 years) continues to worsen against the unvaccinated even to the point of suggesting negative effectiveness. (Note, the data nevertheless continues to show positive effectiveness against hospitalisation and death)

    He has been following this story as the UK Health Security Agency has been (forced?) into removing some charts from the reports, greying out “misleading” columns of data, and including extensive additional discussion to explain (away?) the trend. For example, one line of thinking is that the exact size of the unvaccinated population is really unknown and thus the choice of population database used for the denominator when calculating the rates per 100k makes quite a difference. However, this only goes so far to explaining the phenomenon and indeed raises further issues.

    I have been following a number of bloggers and twitter accounts who are picking apart these weekly UK reports and while there are have been a few cases of preemptively jumping to conclusions (Alex Berenson, the famous one) there remains something unsettling about the data. For example, there remain unusual spikes in mortality among the non-fully vaxxed which correlate with the successive vaxx rollouts through the prioritised age groups.

    Many have also pointed to selection bias which seems to be at play since the data is indicating vaccinated show lower mortality rates for non-COVID causes which shouldn’t be the case if the unvaxx and vaxx groups were equivalent. Finally, there is also currently the question of what is to be made of the all-cause death rates in the UK continuing to rise in excess of COVID deaths since summer.

    Again, the data continues to indicate effectiveness against more severe cases and death (albeit waning) but the data for effectiveness against infection strongly undermines the case for vaccine passports.

  33. fresno dan

    Parents of accused killer in Michigan school shooting arrested after vehicle was found in Detroit USA Today and Prosecutor lays out disturbing timeline in explaining why school shooting suspect’s parents were charged CNN. I’m not going to fuel the moral panic by quoting the timeline, but holy moley…..

    And then there is this
    “The Crumbleys left town on the night of the tragic shooting for their own safety. They are returning to the area to be arraigned. They are not fleeing from law enforcement despite recent comments in media reports,” attorneys Shannon Smith and Mariell Lehman previously told Fox News.
    “The Crumbleys left town on the night of the tragic shooting for their own safety.
    Ironic….But I gues you can’t dispute that the USA sure doesn’t seem to do a very good job of protecting the lives of its citizens…

    1. MonkeyBusiness

      If they were concerned about their safety, they could always turn themselves in to the local police station. If they didn’t trust the police then, why are they trusting the police now?

        1. Verifyfirst

          Having lived in Detroit, I can tell you the east side of Detroit is the other side of the world from the Oxford High School area, racially, economically, crime statistics, etc. It is not a place middle class white people venture to in the middle of the night, much less after turning off their cell phones and withdrawing $4K in cash……

  34. Darthbobber

    The west doesn’t report on the bellicose rhetoric, including but not limited to reoccupying the Donbass and”liberating Crimea” indulged in by the authorities in Kiev.
    Or the eastward movement of troops and ordinance towards the Donbass that preceded the previous round of Russian exercises.

    And the pretzel-like contortions they go through to pretend that Kiev and USA have any interest in implementing Minsk1 and 2, and that Russian noncompliance is the problem here are really amazing to behold.

  35. drumlin woodchuckles

    A place where I shop has put up little signs by the humanned checker lines saying: please use credit or debit cards. The Federal Reserve reports a cash shortage.

    1. flora

      I’ve heard that nonsense at some stores here, generally big box stores. I’ve found different stores that take cash or checks for my shopping.

  36. bwilli123

    How A(n ex-)NYTimes Reporter Collects Royalties From Hundreds of Musicians:

    …he asks to team up with artists on an album for his work. No upfront money but promise for large distribution. Also have to spilt all money and credit with him. Turns out, he is the distributor and the contract doesn’t require shit other than most of the money going to him…
    Video at

  37. drumlin woodchuckles

    About the Myanmar articles, I haven’t seen anything to change my opinion from my past comments. The Game of Thrones quote indeed applies. And both sides know it and are playing the game by that rule.

    The Tatmadaw Coup Regime will grasp at the diplomatic resolution concept offered by that Oslo Peace Studies Institute. Their motivation will be the same as what motivated the Bolshevik Government to accept the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, and they will hope for the same ultimate end.

    The various anti-Tatmadaw forces and people, especially the Bamar uprisers themselves, will receive that advice from the Oslo Peace Research Institute as more of the same Western refusal to help them and they will interpret as more Western efforts to preserve the Tatmadaw in existence so it can resume the war at some future time when it thinks it can totally win. As such, the NUG may receive “diplomacy emissaries” very badly because it will view them as undercover Tatmadaw-collaborators.

  38. Chauncey Gardiner

    Unable to access the full Bloomberg article on hedge fund Elliott Management’s new investment in Twitter, which is behind a paywall. However, I don’t think their investment in Twitter is driven entirely by a desire for financial returns, but is in part being done in an effort to influence the public political conversation going forward. Recall that Bloomberg News reported Elliott Management purchased a large position in Twitter back in Feb 2020, and planned to push for Dorsey to be replaced as CEO. Looks to me like they’ve succeeded in that endeavor.

    New CEO Agrawal reportedly told MIT Technology Review that Twitter’s role was “not to be bound by the First Amendment.” To some, his statement indicated that Twitter might impose stricter censorship standards and other measures to discriminate in favor of preferred political content. Of course, it is a double-edged sword.

  39. Mara

    So, how’s inflation treating your family?

    Trump’s nominee to the Fed was Judy Shelton. She would have stopped much inflation with her policies.

    Harris sank Shelton’s nomination.

    The vote was 48-48, which Mike Pence could have broken in her favor. Then Harris hurried back to the Senate in between campaign events to vote against Shelton, making it 48-49. So now we have what we have.

    1. Basil Pesto

      except this ridiculous puff piece in *checks* Forbes magazine, for christ’s sake, is utterly disingenuous, lacking in credibility, and wrong on just about everything.

      But apart from that, sure, let’s pretend inflation would’ve been stopped if only the other team was still in charge.

  40. The Rev Kev

    “Former Montana Governor Steve Bullock Warns: Democrats Face Trouble in Rural America”

    Of course if the Democrats followed his suggestions, while they are doing meet & greets in rural America, they could also do a campaign of voter registration at the same time to ensure a big Democrat turnout in 22 & 24. But we all know that it will never happen as that would take away money that is supposed to be sent to DNC headquarters. A case of following the money shows that it does not stay in that State but goes off to the DNC instead.

    1. fresno dan

      December 4, 2021 at 7:05 pm
      I saw while channel surfing on ….CNN!!! all I can say is, WOW!!!
      I hope it is a trend – there are so, so many deserving of firing

    2. bob

      I think it would have been a better and more deserving punishment for CNN to have to continue to employ him. They got out of this way too easy.

      It would have been much more fun to watch them twist in the wind pretending that his brother had nothing to do with why they hired him in the first place.

      Chris Cuomo got both hired and fired by CNN because of his big brother.

      1. MonkeyBusiness

        Yeah, he got hired for his ability to bring in inside scoops presumably, but now that big brother has gone away, he’s outlived his usefulness.

  41. The Rev Kev

    “‘Potentially hazardous’ asteroid worth nearly $5 billion will enter Earth’s orbit next week, NASA says”

    One wonders if the dinosaurs 70 million years ago who saw the approaching asteroid that would end their reign took the time to estimate its commercial value.

  42. Wukchumni

    Megalosauruscoin was a thing back then, and although it didn’t bring down the dinosaurs, the pre-John Law scheme did a lot of damage to their financial system, which never recovered and then the asteroid hit, game so over.

    1. Noone from Nowheresville

      gonna’ need a new house.

      Maybe the ones saying “no” can all buy real estate on Mars and move there by themselves. No “pioneers” to clear the way or build out the infrastructure that they’ll need to survive.

      On the other hand, maybe there’s another housemate who will figure out a non-engineered Fiji water way to put out the fire.

      Nice share, bob. Thanks.

  43. MarkT

    Apropos of nothing

    Our Pfizer, who art in Heaven
    Hallowed be thy vaccines
    Thy profits sum
    Thy will be done
    On earth as it is in Washington

    Give us this day our daily dose
    And forgive us our travels
    As we forgive those who travel with us.
    Lead us not into quarantine
    But deliver us from isolation.

    For thine is the patent and the profit and the glory. Forever and ever.

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