By Lambert Strether of Corrente
Bird Song of the Day
Notes: “I love two things about this HOWA: 1.) How he starts his song with a chip, and 2.) how he changes songs at 1:55 after a false start! Singing and foraging from a hickory on a steep slope (approx 4 meters up, but at my level due to the slope). Windy!”
“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” –James Madison, Federalist 51
“They had learned nothing, and forgotten nothing.” –Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord
“When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.” –Hunter Thompson
“Trump’s Long Campaign to Steal the Presidency: A Timeline” [Ed Kilgore, New York Magazine]. The deck: “The insurrection was a complex, yearslong plot, not a one-day event. And it isn’t over.” From the text: “There’s been a lot of media derision about Trump’s postpresidential efforts to wave the bloody shirt of the stolen election. It’s easy to assume the 45th president is just trying to stay in the news or stay relevant or give vent to his natural mood of narcissistic grievance and vengeance. However, the damage he is doing to the credibility of democratic institutions among Republican rank-and-file voters and conservative activists is not fading but is being compounded daily.” • This is the most useful article I’ve read on this story. There are a few problems with it. First is the framing. I can buy an effort to “undermine the credibility of democratic institutions,” especially since that effort is clearly bipartisan (RussiaGate; Iowa 2020; redistricting; etc.). But that’s not the same as trying to “steal the Presidency” let alone an insurrection. Second is its treatment of what we might call Donald Trump Thought: It seems to me that Kilgore imputes a lot more coherence and careful planning to Trump’s thinking than seems consistent with what we know from his public words and actions. Third, in many, many cases, ideas were proposed, but never carried through. Fourth, “conservatives” and even “activists” are clearly not monolithic, since in the article’s own narrative, many stood in Trump’s way (Pence, to pick the most obvious example). Finally, “compounded”? Really? What’s the doubling period? Still, this is the best treatment I’ve read, well worth reading, and congratulations to Kilgore for at least constructing a coherent narrative (which the Republicans were unable to do with, say, Benghazi.) The whole article reads as if Trump is Lenin at the Finland Station, and that I don’t buy.
New sequelae for West Wing Brain:
Reporter: “It’s an action that you say they have taken, but you have shown no evidence to confirm that. […] This is like – crisis actors? Really? This is like Alex Jones territory you’re getting into now.”
— The Hill (@thehill) February 3, 2022
They really believe it….
“After review, U.S. maintains border policy of expelling migrants, citing Omicron” [CBS]. “After a recent internal review, the Biden administration decided to maintain a pandemic-era order put in place under former President Donald Trump that authorizes the rapid deportation of migrants from the U.S.-Mexico border, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) told CBS News Thursday. Since March 2020, the Trump and Biden administrations have expelled migrants over 1.5 million times without affording them the opportunity to request U.S. asylum, citing a series of CDC orders that argue the expulsions are needed to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 in border processing facilities.” • But the babies. What about the babies?!?!?!
Democrats en Déshabillé
I have moved my standing remarks on the Democrat Party (“the Democrat Party is a rotting corpse that can’t bury itself”) to a separate, back-dated post, to which I will periodically add material, summarizing the addition here in a “live” Water Cooler. (Hopefully, some Bourdieu.) It turns out that defining the Democrat Party is, in fact, a hard problem. I do think the paragraph that follows is on point all the way back to 2016, if not before:
The Democrat Party is the political expression of the class power of PMC, their base (lucidly explained by Thomas Frank in Listen, Liberal!). ; if the Democrat Party did not exist, the PMC would have to invent it. . (“PMC” modulo “class expatriates,” of course.) Second, all the working parts of the Party reinforce each other. Leave aside characterizing the relationships between elements of the Party (ka-ching, but not entirely) those elements comprise a network — a Flex Net? An iron octagon? — of funders, vendors, apparatchiks, electeds, NGOs, and miscellaneous mercenaries, with assets in the press and the intelligence community.
Note, of course, that the class power of the PMC both expresses and is limited by other classes; oligarchs and American gentry (see ‘industrial model’ of Ferguson, Jorgensen, and Jie) and the working class spring to mind. Suck up, kick down.
If this is working, why would it work?
Weaponize resulting normalized pathology on behalf of loosely-coordinated society-wide institutional coup capturing professional class entities through tantrums, meltdowns, and emotional blackmail https://t.co/yw352rONQr
— Wesley Yang (@wesyang) February 3, 2022
For example, in universities, I think emotional blackmail by idpol-driven students would be a lot less effective if administrators didn’t also want to give tenured professors the ol’ heave-ho in favor of adjuncts; or didn’t want to discipline the occasional adjunct pour encourager les autres.
* * *
The party of betrayal:
Same thing in New York. Majority Dems, and they killed the Single Payer bill.
— Prof Zenkus (@anthonyzenkus) February 4, 2022
So, “electing more Democrats” doesn’t work, does it?
“The Democrats Are Choosing to Rely on Corporate Donors” [Jacobin]. “New reporting shows the Democratic Party outpacing the GOP in the dark money arms race…. The lesson in all this is that embracing America’s depraved campaign finance regime is less an ambivalent surrender to political reality than it is a conscious ideological choice. Were they actually serious about pursuing much of what they officially want, establishment Democrats could probably decide to be something other than a party aligned with corporate America and content to filter its agenda through special interests in perpetuity. As things stand, however, the liberal marriage of progressive posturing and corporate cash instead guarantees a repeat of the same old pattern: Democrats decrying the influence of big money while insisting (as they did in 2020) that they must regrettably rely on it in order to save democracy.”
“Beatty and Gottheimer Funnel Private Equity Donations Through Pop-up Committee” [ReadSludge]. “House Financial Services Committee members Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.) and Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio) set up a special fundraising committee last year to raise money from the private equity donors. The pair formed the Beatty Gottheimer Victory Fund on Nov. 10 and over the next month they used it to collect $150,000 in campaign donations, eighty-eight percent of which came from executives and employees of New York City-based Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. (KKR), one of the largest private equity firms in the world. The remaining money came from employees of investment firms Gingerbread Capital and Tiger Global Management. On Dec. 29, Beatty and Gottheimer split up the money 50/50 and deposited it in their campaign accounts, and then on Dec. 31 they terminated the committee.” • Fast work! And it’s good to see Beatty following in former CBC chair Clyburn’s
trail of slimefootsteps.
“‘I am doing the devils work’ — Staff at Dem firm revolt over work for Sinema” [Politico]. “Faced with pushback from employees, management at Authentic, one of the Democratic Party’s more prominent firms, defended itself by saying their work for Sinema was important for maintaining a Democratic Senate majority, according to those messages. But the situation grew dire enough that employees, who are unionized, were told they could be removed from the Sinema account if they felt uncomfortable with it, per the union’s contract…. Internal union correspondences obtained by POLITICO reveal a base of workers at Authentic sparring with its management over its business with Sinema. Employees broached the topic of the firm’s contract after the senator’s vote against raising the minimum wage to $15-an-hour, during which she offered an infamous thumbs down with an accompanying curtsy, according to a person with knowledge of the discussions. Leadership at Authentic responded by making it clear that the firm did not have plans to end the contract, the person said.”
* * *
“Jayapal’s early leadership maneuvers raise House Dem eyebrows” [Politico]. “As House Democrats’ top trio seeks reelection, their looming leadership battle is essentially frozen in place — with one big exception. Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) is stepping up calls to her colleagues about seeking a caucus-wide position next year, according to more than 15 lawmakers and aides. Her approach is a stark contrast with the other dozen or so Democrats privately eyeing leadership posts after the midterms, all of whom have avoided overt campaigning of any kind that might risk being seen as overstepping their longtime leaders. The Congressional Progressive Caucus chief has leveraged the power of her liberal bloc in highly public ways this year, which several of her colleagues speculated could be laying the groundwork for a caucus-wide run. But some of those tactics — such as progressives’ effort to hold up a bipartisan infrastructure law in a bid to lock down a separate party-line social spending bill — have made her a target for intra-party griping. And most in the caucus view open jostling over an undefined leadership spot as counterproductive with the House majority at stake. House Democrats know that this fall could be the first time in 19 years that they elect someone other than Speaker Nancy Pelosi to lead them. But Pelosi and her two lieutenants, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, have steadfastly stayed in the moment and left little room for the public jockeying that’s typical even months ahead of a leadership race.” • Aghastitude!
As effective as they want to be:
NEW: for the first time, Dems have taken the lead on @CookPolitical's 2022 redistricting scorecard. After favorable developments in NY, AL, PA et. al., they're on track to net 2-3 seats from new maps vs. old ones.* pic.twitter.com/7DsP5LEDD0
— Dave Wasserman (@Redistrict) February 3, 2022
“Democrats snag redistricting wins” [Axios]. This is a very good wrap-up, well worth a read: “We’ve been, for years, running this comprehensive plan and really pushing to think about redistricting in this holistic way. And what you are seeing are the receipts of that strategy,” Kelly Ward Burton, president of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, told Axios.”
“Pennsylvania Supreme Court takes control of redrawing state’s congressional map” [Spotlight PA]. “The Pennsylvania Supreme Court took control of the high-stakes selection of the state’s next congressional map, preempting a lower court ruling at the last minute in a move that will likely fuel continued partisan scrutiny from Republicans. Commonwealth Court had been set to rule on a map after soliciting proposals from interested parties. Instead, the high court will now receive a report from the lower court, additional briefs, and hold a hearing Feb. 18, three days after the date candidates can begin circulating nominating petitions. Two groups of Pennsylvania residents originally filed suit in Commonwealth Court to ensure the May primary occurs on schedule. The court set a Jan. 30 deadline for Gov. Tom Wolf and the General Assembly to agree upon a map, and it solicited map submissions and held hearings. This is the second time the high court, where Democrats hold the majority, has been asked to take the case. It originally declined, opting instead to give the lower court the chance to review the case and issue a ruling.”
“Trump says Facebook losing users because of his site ‘Truth Social’, which will welcome banned ‘Freedom Convoy’ truckers” [Independent]. “‘It could also be that people are waiting for TRUTH – the highly sophisticated platform that we look forward to opening in the not too distant future. Time to straighten out what is happening in our country!'” [Trump] said in a statement.” • Some significant qualifications there….
Our Famously Free Press
“CNN staffers grill WarnerMedia boss over Jeff Zucker resignation” [Los Angeles Times]. “[Washington correspondent Jamie Gangel] said she received calls from four members of the congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol ‘who felt devastated for our democracy’ now that Zucker has exited CNN. ‘I do not think you have any appreciation for what you’ve done to this organization,’ she said.” • Oh.
“The Truth About Hillary Clinton” [Russell Brand, YouTube]. Fun stuff:
Realignment and Legitimacy
Erm, I don’t think the Ukraine situation is like Iraq. I was just hoping the folks who got Iraq so utterly and tragically wrong might show a little humility before making sweeping judgments on foreign conflicts again *and* lecturing the rest of us again. Guess I was wrong. https://t.co/xDl0UwCbgR
— Mehdi Hasan (@mehdirhasan) February 4, 2022
“This is 2032, SARS-CoV-3 has nothing to do with SARS-CoV-2,” even though everybody who was in charge — and personally profited from — the first debacle was still in charge — and personally profiting from — for the second, a decade later. I’m probably being generous with 2032.
Case count by United States regions:
Rise like a rocket, and fall like a stick; the slope of the downward curve is more or less the same as the upward curve. (Previous peaks — how small the early ones look now — have been roughly symmetrical on either side. But the scale of this peak, and the penetration into the population, is unprecedented.) I wonder if there will be plateau when BA.2 takes hold. Since the Northeast has form, that is probably the region to watch for this behavior first.
The official narrative was “Covid is behind us,” and that the pandemic will be “over by January” (Gottlieb), and “I know some people seem to not want to give up on the wonderful pandemic, but you know what? It’s over” (Bill Maher) was completely exploded. What a surprise!
Continues encouraging. No jump from the return of the students yet, which is even more encouraging.
The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) service area includes 43 municipalities in and around Boston, including not only multiple school systems but several large universities. Since Boston is so very education-heavy, then, I think it could be a good leading indicator for Covid spread in schools generally.
“Detection of prevalent SARS-CoV-2 variant lineages in wastewater and clinical sequences from cities in Québec, Canada” (preprint) [medRxiv]. From the Abstract: “Here we report sequencing and inference of SARS-CoV-2 mutations and variant lineages (including variants of concern) in 936 wastewater samples and thousands of matched clinical sequences collected between March 2020 and July 2021 in the cities of Montreal, Quebec City, and Laval, representing almost half the population of the Canadian province of Quebec. We benchmarked our sequencing and variant-calling methods on known viral genome sequences to establish thresholds for inferring variants in wastewater with confidence. We found that variant frequency estimates in wastewater and clinical samples are correlated over time in each city, with similar dates of first detection. Across all variant lineages, wastewater detection is more concordant with targeted outbreak sequencing than with semi-random clinical swab sampling. Most variants were first observed in clinical and outbreak data due to higher sequencing rate. However, wastewater sequencing is highly efficient, detecting more variants for a given sampling effort. This shows the potential for wastewater sequencing to provide useful public health data, especially at places or times when sufficient clinical sampling is infrequent or infeasible.”
From CDC Community Profile Reports (PDFs), “Rapid Riser” counties:
Continued improvement. Tennessee’s numbers come in (Remember that these are rapid riser counties. A county that moves from red to green is not covid-free; the case count just isnt, well, rising rapidly.)
The previous release:
Hospitalization (CDC Community Profile):
C’mon, Guam! (Note trend, whether up or down, is marked by the arrow, at top. Admissions are presented in the graph, at the bottom. So it’s possible to have an upward trend, but from a very low baseline.)
Death rate (Our World in Data):
917,600. As we know, deaths are a lagging indicator. I assume the absurdity of the “Omicron is mild” talking point is, at this point, self-evident. If you know somebody who’s in “lead my life” mode, you might consider telling them their odds of dying from Covid are now worse than with the first wave in New York.
“What have we become?” (1):
Appalling, truly appalling, Lisa Millar on @BreakfastNews repeating the LNP Regime propaganda that the majority of the 570+ who have died in Aged Care Homes this year so far, related to covid, died because they are already at "end of life" situation. What have we become?
— Finnigans 💉💉💉天有道地有道人无道 (@Thefinnigans) February 2, 2022
“What have we become?” (2):
Are you for real? Jason, that's a horrible take. https://t.co/xHnHi3jRjs
— Claudia Sahm (@Claudia_Sahm) February 4, 2022
Put aside that Furman can’t possibly know that the virus “ceased to be boss” last month. After all, the chess-playing virus has beaten checkers-playing meritocrats like Furman every time. Focus on Furman cheering loudly that we’ve beaten essential workers back into workplaces that can and will kill them.
Good news here too. For the time being.
The excess deaths chart appears weekly, on Friday.
Look at the qualifications in that drop-down. And the enormous typo, helpfully highlighted, has been there for weeks. I know the CDC copy editing process is slow, but this is ridiculous.
Employment Situation: “United States Non Farm Payrolls” [Trading Economics]. “The US economy unexpectedly added 467K payrolls in January of 2022, much better than market forecasts of 150K. Employment growth continued in leisure and hospitality (151K), specially food services and drinking places (108K) and in the accommodation industry (23K). Other increases were also seen in professional and business services (86K); retail trade (61K); transportation and warehousing (54K). Employment in local government education rose by 29K but was little changed in in mining, construction, manufacturing, information, financial activities, and other services. January figures were a big surprise as the omicron coronavirus variant left many Americans out of work due to illness or family care during the month and specially after the ADP report showed private companies cut 301K jobs, while the White House warned the data could be very weak as the peak of omicron cases coincided with when the payroll data was being collected. ” • About those seasonal adjustments:
this is it, this is the chart –>
revisions radically change the trajectory of job growth in 2021 – no more slowing from the summer, but instead a steady upward trajectory. as close to a 180 as i’ve seen. pic.twitter.com/TlDRiGbkqe
— Andrew Flowers (@andrewflowers) February 4, 2022
Employment Situation: “United States Unemployment Rate” [Trading Economics]. “The US unemployment rate edged up to 4.0 percent in January of 2022, little changed from December’s new pandemic low but slightly above market expectations of 3.9 percent. Over the year, the unemployment rate is down by 2.4 percentage points, and the number of unemployed persons declined by 3.7 million.”
The Bezzle: “Meta: Peak Facebook” [Seeking Alpha]. “Meta’s fear of TikTok is leading it down a road much like that of Google one decade ago. Instead of focusing on improving its cash cow (digital advertising via Facebook), Meta’s new goal seems to be trend-chasing. MAU has peaked, and the portion of valuation in the stock price that can be attributed to expected growth is rightfully shrinking.”
The Bezzle: “Mark Zuckerberg loses another $2 billion in net worth and drops out of top 10 wealthiest list as Facebook stock continues to slide – while Jeff Bezos GAINS $13 billion after Amazon shares soared on blockbuster earnings” [Daily Mail]. “Zuckerberg’s one-day wealth decline of $29 billion on Thursday is among the biggest ever, and comes after Tesla Inc top boss Elon Musk’s $35 billion single-day paper loss in November.”
The Bezzle: “Miami’s tech ‘concierge’ says he’s leaving CIO role” [State Scoop]. “Miami Chief Information Officer Mike Sarasti said Wednesday that he’s planning to leave his current role over the next few weeks, and encouraged people to apply to fill the position…. [Mayor Francis Suarez] and Sarasti have both spent much of the past year encouraging emerging technology companies, particularly those in the blockchain and cryptocurrency industries, to settle in Miami, leading Sarasti to dub himself a “concierge” for startup firms.” • Getting out while the getting is good?
Tech: “Amazon’s profit engines are humming, cushioning the blow from the retail slowdown” [CNBC]. “Amazon just reported its slowest revenue growth in more than four years, while its retail business in the U.S. and internationally lost money…. But investors found plenty of relief elsewhere. That’s because cloud computing and advertising, the areas where Amazon generates the heftiest profits, showed rapid expansion…. Amazon also surprised investors by breaking out advertising as a separate business for the first time. Ad revenue jumped 32% to $9.7 billion, almost equaling Google’s ad growth rate for the quarter. Until now, Amazon has grouped ads into its ‘other’ business segment, leaving analysts and investors guessing about its size.” • Hmm, ads. Getting ready to move on Facebook?
Tech: “You Know What’s Not Cool? Facebook” [Bloomberg]. “America’s Strategic Schadenfreude Reserve was replenished today as Facebook Meta lost $230 billion in market value, or 1.3 Bezoses, on signs its grip on our psyches is loosening just the tiniest bit — even if the new iron fist belongs to TikTok. Facebook still has billions of users and many fans, but the Venn diagram of the two groups is far from a perfect circle. Many use it grudgingly, because it’s still the best way to yell at local parents, swap vaccine misinformation, or seethe over hurtful photos of high school enemies living their best lives. But its overpowering capacity to poison the body politic has long inspired calls for it to be cut down to size somehow, through regulation or ritual dismemberment. But maybe all we had to do was wait for universal laws — of evolution, thermodynamics or goofy dances — to bring Facebook low on their own.”
Tech: “Twitter begins a global test of a new feature: a downvote button” [NBC]. “Twitter took a step Thursday toward adding a prominent new feature: a downvote button. The social media company said it was expanding a test to a worldwide selection of people who use the app after it got what it said was positive feedback from a limited experiment announced in July. The feature could eventually affect what tweets get shown in which order on the site and its app, although Twitter said that for now, the downvotes are private and don’t affect how replies are ordered.” • Well, don’t make them public. Twitter is challenging enough without turning into a cesspit like the Daily Kos comment section (which does allow downvotes).
Tech: “Satya Nadella: ‘Being great at game building gives us permission to build the next internet'” [Financial Times]. • Oh.
Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 34 Fear (previous close: 33 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 36 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Feb 4 at 1:18pm.
Department of Feline Felicity
Larry the Cat’s predecessor:
one for cat historians pic.twitter.com/V1I8QPBF9D
— Lee Jackson (@VictorianLondon) February 3, 2022
Our Famously Free Press
“Here why that’s bad news for ____” is a hardly perennial:
Team USA won a thriller over Sweden in Olympic mixed doubles curling last night. Here's why that's bad news for Joe Biden.
— New York Times Pitchbot (@DougJBalloon) February 4, 2022
“Is precision public health the future — or a contradiction?” [Nature]. “The definition of precision public health is sprawling and variable: for most researchers in the field it includes a sweep of data-driven techniques, such as sequencing pathogens to detect outbreaks and turbo-charging data collection to monitor harmful environmental exposures. It also encompasses an ambition to target interventions to specific people who need them. For Caitlin Allen, an epidemiologist at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, who organized a meeting on precision public health in October last year, the kernel of the idea is simple. “You’re doing all the things you normally do in public health, but the unique aspect is that we’re using big data and predictive analytics to be more targeted and tailored in these efforts,” she says. The concept promises to save money and lives by targeting interventions to the right people.” Ah. “The right people.” More: “The debate over the merits of precision public health has typically taken place in the pages of academic journals. But funders are putting hundreds of millions of dollars behind precision-public-health initiatives, and some researchers worry about the implications for conventional public health. Spending on public health is already sliding: although national health expenditure in the United States grew by 4.3% from 2008 to 2018, researchers found no change in public-health spending. [Sandro Galea, an epidemiologist and dean of the Boston University School of Public Health, Massachusetts] is concerned that the precision approach is diverting attention away from regular public health. ‘I worry that this is becoming the great sucking sound where we focus all our energy on technological approaches and we don’t focus on more foundational issues that will make a difference in the lives of millions,’ Galea says…. The core of public health, says David Taylor-Robinson, a health-equities scientist at the University of Liverpool, UK, is to improve the health of populations. The ‘precision’ in precision public health, notes Taylor-Robinson, refers to individuals, not populations. Improving the health of individuals is clinical medicine, not public health. In that sense, he says, ‘precision public health is an oxymoron.'” • Reminds me of “precision railroading”….
Groves of Academe
“Inside Mississippi’s only class on critical race theory” [Mississippi Today]. “‘I’m either gonna completely agree with this, or I’m gonna be able to say, ‘No, this class is terrible,” [Brittany Murphree] told her friends. ‘The best way to have an opinion about this class is literally to take it.’…. She found her other readings just as surprising. Lawmakers were wrong to call critical race theory “Marxist,” she learned, because the framework was actually a rejection of legal theories that had centered class and sidelined race.” No duh. More: “‘Why are they so fearful of people just theorizing and just thinking,’ she thought. ‘We’re not going to turn into, like, communists. Y’all chill out.'” • Not knowing what she said, she said it.
“America Is Facing a Great Talent Recession” [Bloomberg]. “The deeper problem is that the talent model that has served America so well, especially since World War II, is breaking down. Korn Ferry, a human resources consultancy, warns that “the United States faces one of the most alarming talent crunches of any country” in its 20-country study. The institutions, practices and mind-set that enabled the U.S. to create a workforce capable of powering the world’s biggest and most dynamic economy are threatened by decay, disarray and disruption. And that is happening while China, a rival hostile power that poses an even greater challenge than the USSR once did, pulls ahead of it in world-defining technology. Once galvanized to action by the USSR’s launch of Sputnik, the U.S. now witnesses the equivalent of the launch of a dozen Sputniks from Beijing every year, with no corresponding response. In that respect, the Covid pandemic provides both a timely warning and a spur: a warning of what happens to a historically rumbustious economy when workers become scarce, and a spur to fixing America’s long-term talent and labor-supply problems while there is still time…. The country needs to add a new strand to educational reform: not just giving a helping hand to the poor or average performers but also identifying and nurturing the superstars who will help the U.S. beat back the challenge from Xi Jinping’s China.” • Yeah, that’s the trouble: Too much of a helping hand to the poor….
“Nurses Who Faced Lawsuits for Quitting Are Fighting Back” [Bloomberg]. “A couple of years ago, Novie Dale Carmen paid $20,000 to quit her nursing job. She was less than halfway to fulfilling the three-year commitment she’d made to Health Carousel LLC, the health-care staffing agency that had helped get her from the Philippines to a hospital in Muncy, a town about three hours northwest of Philadelphia…. She’s filed a proposed class action in Health Carousel’s home state of Ohio, accusing the company of human trafficking. Although “trafficking” evokes images of people brutally beaten or chained in captivity, the legal definition is much broader and includes trying to coerce someone to do something by threatening serious harm or abuse of the legal process. In June a U.S. district judge rejected Health Carousel’s motion to dismiss the case. At the end of last year, Carmen added claims of wage theft and racketeering, and two more plaintiffs…. Carmen’s lawsuit has started off humbly, but it could redefine the terms of one of the biggest trends reshaping U.S. health care: the replacement of burnt-out American caregivers with cheaper foreign workers who can’t simply quit. More than 1 in 6 U.S. health-care workers has quit their job since the start of the pandemic, and almost 1 in 3 front-line health-care workers has been thinking about leaving the profession, according to a 2021 survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Washington Post. For the companies that bring people like Carmen to America, the Great Resignation has been a central talking point. Last year a staffing agency released a survey of U.S. nurses who said things like: ‘Every shift is the worst shift I’ve ever worked.’ More than 500,000 workers in health care and related fields quit in December alone, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, and that number might have been significantly higher if not for the legions of employees contractually restricted from resigning. Americans have gotten used to calling health-care workers essential. If Carmen’s right, a lot of them could also be called captive.”
“Scientists deliberately gave people COVID — here’s what they learnt” [Nature]. “Volunteers received £4,565 (US$6,200) for their participation, which involved at least two weeks of quarantine in a high-level isolation unit at the Royal Free Hospital in London.” • $6,200 seems low.
News of the Wired
The days are getting longer! Really!
— Gustave Doré (@artistdore) February 4, 2022
Contact information for plants: Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, to (a) find out how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal and (b) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi and coral are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please place it at the start of your mail in parentheses: (thus). Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. Today’s plant (RH):
RH writes: “Farm hoop house in Maine.” This may seem out of season,, but it’s not: You can be planning your garden right now!
Readers: Water Cooler is a standalone entity not covered by the recently concluded and — thank you! — successful annual NC fundraiser. So if you see a link you especially like, or an item you wouldn’t see anywhere else, please do not hesitate to express your appreciation in tangible form. Remember, a tip jar is for tipping! Regular positive feedback both makes me feel good and lets me know I’m on the right track with coverage. When I get no donations for five or ten days I get worried. More tangibly, a constant trickle of donations helps me with expenses, and I factor in that trickle when setting fundraising goals:
Here is the screen that will appear, which I have helpfully annotated.
If you hate PayPal, you can email me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, and I will give you directions on how to send a check. Thank you!