Links 2/22/2022

Paul Farmer, U.S. doctor dedicated to the world’s poor, dies at 62 Reuters

Revealed: Credit Suisse leak unmasks criminals, fraudsters and corrupt politicians Guardian. Well, I never! Commentary:

Kotok: What Long Covid Means for Financial Markets Barry Ritholtz, The Big Picture

March 2020: How the Fed Averted Economic Disaster WSJ


As US cases drop, Hawaii is lone remaining state sticking with indoor mask mandate. Latest COVID-19 updates USA Today. Every superspreading event I know of….. was indoors, good job America.

Why One-Way Masking Isn’t a Very Good Public Health Solution Slate. Breathing is a social relation. One-way masking reduces the social relation to a power relation, where the least powerful — those medically vulnerable — bear 100% of the burden of protecting themselves. No doubt psychos like Leanna Wen think this is utopian.

Most Americans Say They’ll Keep Masks on Even If Mandates Go Away: Poll Newsweek. Clearly, the anti-mask propaganda must be intensified.

* * *

Tip of the iceberg: erectile dysfunction and COVID-19 International Journal of Impotence Research. From the Abstract: “Current evidence illuminates endothelial dysfunction, direct testicular damage, and the psychological burden of COVID-19 that are of the pathways of ED. Although the proposed underlying mechanisms partly fail to answer the questions by which COVID-19 leads to ED, it is important to monitor men who recovered from COVID-19 regarding the sexual dysfunction sequelae of infection and address the long‐term consequences.”

* * *

The vaccine that spreads immunity by passing itself on like a virus: Researchers investigate potential for self-spreading, needle-less inoculations in wake of Covid pandemic Daily Mail. NIH-funded research into transmissible vaccines. What could go wrong?

What Happened to Giorgio Agamben? Slate


China resists taking sides between Russia and Ukraine despite pressure from US South China Morning Post

News Analysis: Despite containing the coronavirus, Beijing Games could never escape other problems LA Times. Every journamalist in America was rooting for China’s Zero Covid poilicy to fail. It didn’t, so we are reduced to this.

Omicron has brought Hong Kong to its knees. How did it go so horribly wrong, and can the city go back to its zero-Covid days? South China Morning Post

Hong Kong finds COVID in samples from packaging of pork, beef imports Reuters

Hong Kong has been monitoring frozen food imports for COVID-19 since mid-2020 and found positive samples on pomfret fish packaging in August 2021 and on cuttlefish packaging in November 2021. Authorities said COVID-19 is predominantly transmitted through droplets…


…. and cannot multiply in food or food packaging, and that it is unlikely that it can be transmitted to humans via food consumption.

I suppose — despite the exemplary cleanliness of our meatpacking operation — an infected loogie could land on packaging, stick, freeze, and thaw on arrival. This seems implausible, and if there’s an epidemological study showing this, nobody has seen it.


World Court Myanmar genocide case clouded by representation dispute Reuters

New EU sanctions target Myanmar military’s lucrative gas firm Al Jazeera

Quad ‘concerned’ over Myanmar, but India opposes sanctions, more focussed on border issues The Print

The Koreas

CJ Logistics’ labor conflict escalates as courier union disrupts shipment operations Yonhap News Agency. Canadian truckers let the cat out of the bag….


Glenmark and SaNOtize introduce nasal spray to treat Covid-19 in India The Economic Times but 5-Point Guide To The New Nasal Spray For Covid Cleared By India NDTV


Scandal deepens as Lebanon’s central bank chief ducks court appearance FT

Is there new evidence of Jewish Temple treasures in the Vatican? Jerusalem Post


Canada parliament backs Trudeau on emergency powers BBC

CCLA Calls for Revocation of Declaration of Emergency Canadian Civil Liberties Association

Don Martin: An emergency about nothing as tow trucks become the excuse to act CTV News

Ottawa police officers charged in tow truck corruption investigation CBC


Living with Covid plan will restore freedom, says Boris Johnson BBC. There’s that word again. Commentary:

U.K. Posts First Budget Surplus Since Pandemic Began Bloomberg. I’m just glad the economy’s doing OK.

Appeal Against Imprisonment for Journalism, Wednesday 23 Craig Murray

Why France Failed in Mali War on the Rocks

New Cold War

Recognition of Donbass and warning to Kiev — Putin’s address to nation Tass. Commentary:

No leaks I saw from the US intelligence community, amidst the torrent of bullshit. And I do try to keep track.

Ukraine latest: Russia faces sanctions after Putin orders in troops Deutsche Welle. I’m seeing this “orders in” verbiage all over the place. I suppose we’ll see footage or satellite imagery of actual troop movements at some future point.

Ukraine-Russia: Germany suspends Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline AP

Russia now has right to build military bases in eastern Ukraine – treaties Reuters

Biden Administration

Washington Must Prepare for War With Both Russia and China Foreign Policy

Atrios is correct:

No plan yet for bullet train’s soaring price tag CalMatters. Impressive levels of dysfunction.

Spelling mistakes and clerical errors could keep many stranded in shelters under city housing program Gothamist. Ditto.

Trump Legacy

Trump’s new social media app launches on iOS The Verge. Signup failed for me.

Supply Chain

Firefighters struggle with burning electric vehicles aboard Felicity Ace and Massive claims expected from Felicity Ace blaze Splash 247

Realignment and Legitimacy

The implications of Trudeau’s use of emergency powers extend beyond Canada, so I have filed Taibbi and Greenwald here:

The Neoliberal War on Dissent in the West Glenn Greenwald

When Boring People Turn Dangerous: Canada’s Insane Power Grab (excerpt) Matt Taibbi, TK News. Final sentence: “[I]t’s like waking up to learn the cast of The Office has declared the Fourth Reich. Boring people are dangerous, too.”

How Democratic Is The Covid State? The American Conservative

* * *

Here’s What We Know So Far About Possible Trucker Convoy Protests Coming To D.C. Soon DCist. Note protests, plural.

Trucker convoys aim to shut DC’s Capital Beltway this week, organizer says FOX Washington, DC. This press-annointed organizer, Bob Bolus, seems quite the character.

The Mystery of the Declining U.S. Birth Rate EconoFact

Class Warfare

The past two weeks in US unions, February 5-19, 2022 Jonah Furman, Who Gets The Bird. Always interesting; often encouraging.

The Punishment Bureaucracy: How to Think About “Criminal Justice Reform Yale Law Journal

We’re Not Prepared for Contamination Between Worlds Gizmodo

Walking America: Jacksonville Chris Arnade, Intellectual Int-ing

Antidote du Jour (via):

Bonus antidote:

Truly majestic!

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. Raymond Sim

      I’m not one of the experts, but if I read the abstract correctly, then it’s not-unexpected, non-bad news.

      The inexplicable thing to me is people’s seemingly inexhaustible determination to be the recipients of ‘good’ news.

      I use the quotes because, so far as I can tell, we’re talking about good for one’s sense of self-worth rather than any sort of greater good. I’m guessing your friend’s ‘good’ means their faith in the vaccines is not misplaced? I wish I knew how to get through to such people without triggering their ego defenses.

    2. voislav

      Basically, there are 2 ways in which the body responds to a vaccine. One, it develops antibodies, which provide immediate, short term from infection as antibody concentration decreases in a matter of weeks to months. Two, it develops lymphocytes that carry immune information, giving the body ability to produce antibodies in the future, beyond the short term horizon of immediate antibody protection.

      This study claims that, while the production of omicron-specific antibodies with the third mRNA dose was not high enough to prevent infection, it stimulated production of a variety of b-cell lymphocytes that provided immune response against omicron and can be expected to provide an immune response against future variants.

      While lymphocytes cannot provide protection from infection, as the body needs time to ramp up antibody production in response to virus exposure, they provide protection from severe outcomes like hospitalization and death. So even though 3rd vaccine dose fails to protect against omicron infection, it should still protect against severe disease outcomes.

      Interesting bit is that they’ve seen increase in variety of b-cell lymphocytes produced after the third dose, compared to previous doses. They are speculating that this should protect the recipients not only from omicron, but also from future variants, since a broader variety of lymphocytes will make it more difficult for another virus variety to slip by the immune system.

      TL;DR: Third vaccine dose provides broader immune response compared to the first two doses, providing long-term lymphocyte immune response, protecting against severe covid, not only against omicron, but also future variants. Unfortunately, immediate antibody production against omicron is insufficient to prevent infection.

      1. Yves Smith

        This is obviously not true in practice. Israel demonstrated vaccine efficacy was shot (pun intended) in 5-6 months and boosters are even less durable. As GM stated:

        If memory cells made that much of a difference, VE against severe disease would not be dropping over time. But it is.

    3. BlakeFelix

      Eh, I read it as showing a strong likelihood that three shots of Mrna vaccine will likely provide protection vs Omicron. I think that’s true, but how much protection and for how long I certainly didn’t get from what I saw.

  1. greg

    Third sentence in the Felicity Ace article:

    “The drifting ship remains stable, and no pollution has been reported.”

    Pay no attention to the deadly toxic smoke. It’s not pollution. It’s just smoke from a fire.


    1. The Rev Kev

      Maybe they can tow it to very shallow waters and then scuttle it. The seawater will finally put out that fire and will not effect the structure of the ship like a fire would. Then later on they could refloat the ship. But it may be cheaper just to tow it to deeper waters and just let the damn thing sink while ringing up the insurance company

      1. JTMcPhee

        Yep, send it down into the dark depths of the ocean, to join the problematic nuclear and chemical stuff (including Fukushima rad water and megatons of “plastics”) , , in that last big “away” we creatures that sh!t in our own and every other species’ nests have left to “throw” our offal and detritus at…

        Problem solved, neh? Or at least kicked down the road, or made someone else’s… out of sight, out of mind… distributive justice, gadzooks.

        I had to work in the early 80s with a US EPA field investigator who was transferred to us from the Corps of Engineers. We were conducting a compliance inspection of a coking plant in the toxic swamp that lies at the toe of Lake Michigan. Ralph was apparently trying to chat up the corporate VP who was trying to lead us away from an illegal discharge and dredge-and-fill activity. The conversation turned to the “inevitability” of toxic and hazardous waste, and what ought to be done about it. Ralph opined that this was a simple “Agent Orange” problem — just collect all the chemical and nuclear waste, fit out the Air Force’s fleet of C-130 and C-123 aircraft with spray booms like used in crop spraying and Vietnam/Laos/Cambodia, and disperse the mix so everyone would get just a little exposure to it. And Ralph was serious, not being ironic or tongue in cheek.

        Another problem solved.

      2. greg

        That’ll work. They just need to make sure they’ve shorted the risk insurers/reinsurers.

        Or, maybe they could try to suponificate the fire with Nurdles ; )

    2. Wukchumni

      For me it’s a tragic double loss in that i’ll never see that candy apple red 1984 Yugo in concours condition again, and I also wasn’t insured.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Pay no attention to the deadly toxic smoke. It’s not pollution. It’s just smoke from a fire.

      When I see a lithium battery fire, I run toward it, to breathe in the intoxicating aroma.

  2. griffen

    New social media platform, Truth Social….LS has my sympathies for attempting to register. I am sure any haggling with the internet and website gremlins will be a beautiful wait for this tremendous new service.

    I’m in the late adopter mode, if that ever needs to happen.

  3. Cocomaan

    So I guess the brain trust in the intel community did not see the Russian advance only into the contested areas? They kept talking about Russia taking Kyiv, but I hadn’t heard this move to be the most likely outcome, though in retrospect it is.

    Once again, if Afghanistan didn’t demonstrate it, lots of wasted money in intelligence.

    Saw a headline this morning that the Biden admin is still trying to figure out if this is an invasion of Ukraine lmao

    1. OnceWereVirologist

      Yes, this is an absolutely obvious Plan B for Russia. Plan A being reintegration of the rebel territories into a federalized Ukraine. Plan B being recognition of their independence and the permanent presence of Russian peacekeepers on essentially the same model as South Ossetia (I read somewhere that the language of the Russian parliament’s recognition of the independence of Donetsk and Luhansk is basically a cut-and-paste of the same recognition for South Ossetia). It’s obviously a less favourable outcome for Russia than Plan A but it does seem to neatly sidestep the American neocon communities push for outright war between Ukraine and Russia.

    2. David

      The problem is that the productions of intelligence analysts, which are necessarily secret, are only leaked when it’s to someone’s political advantage do so. In this case, I’m fairly sure that the military analysts would have said that Russian forces were, or would soon be, in a position to attack if ordered to do so, which was true. That was leaked because it supported Biden’s position. But I wouldn’t be surprised at the same time if the analysts on the political side had foreseen something like this as a possibility. But that wouldn’t have been leaked because it would have contradicted the position of the political leadership.

      1. Donald

        That makes sense. I always wonder to what extent in the various bureaucracies there are people who actually know what they are talking about and who aren’t letting their political preferences or career concerns motivate their analyses in a given direction. What we mostly see with the talking heads on TV is a lot of motivated reasoning. (It can also happen with dissenters outside, of course.)

    3. drumlin woodchuckles

      Ian Welsh predicted it very shortly before it happened, I think. And Beau of the Fifth Column predicted it before that. He also offered good reason to think that the RussiaGov was in fact planning and would roll out false flag attacks in the two breakaway regions to sanctify a takeover. Here is the link.

      I decided that nothing would happen based on the DC FedRegime’s record of lying about every important thing over the past couple of decades. So I was not prepared for the DC FedRegime offering any trace of truth at all inside the spin. I can’t be the only one.

      The boy cried wolf a few dozen times too many.

      So what might Putin do? If creating a frozen conflict as in Modova ( Transnistria) and Georgia ( Abkhazia) is enough to disqualify Ukraine from NATO membership under current NATO rules of what a State must show to be worthy of membership, then perhaps the PutinGov will be satisfied with freezing the conflict in the breakaway provinces.

  4. PlutoniumKun

    Tip of the iceberg: erectile dysfunction and COVID-19 International Journal of Impotence Research.

    Many grass species have natural estrogenic compounds within their leaves. The reason? They act as natural contraceptives to keep the population of grazers from increasing too much. But not too much – grazing is important to stop scrub and trees from wiping out grasses and herbs. Grasslands can manipulate grazer population to create more grasslands.

    Idle unscientific speculation: Covid is Gaia’s way of subtly controlling the cancer of humanity from overwhelming its survival systems. It first tried conventional pathogens and found we were too smart for them. Now after a bit of experimentation its trying for something a little more subtle. Reduce our fertility, reduce our brainpower, lower lifespans.

    1. Paul Jonker-Hoffren

      I have had this kind of conversation also, especially regarding the Long Covid effects on productivity, cognitivity etc. Maybe unscientific, maybe an emerging property.

    2. Randy

      I guess it’s working if Gaia really hates certain places but otherwise she’s getting subverted by various Asian countries or affecting countries that had negative replacement rates to begin with. I’ll give Gaia a C+ for effort.

    3. jefemt

      Watched PBS newshour last night for the first time in over a year, I guess just to hear what all was new with Putin and the Ukraine from the pearl-clutching pom-pom waving set narrative.

      They had a nice puff piece on Paul Farmer. One part– excerpted at a lecture–, refuting that pandemics/ outbreaks affect whole populations, but instead tend to go to and most greatly impact where the cracks in society are.
      So, if Gaia has nothing to do with Covid, Covids trend toward adversely impacting some communities more than others might really be a nice unintended consequences side effect, for the power puppetmaster Davosman.

      A paranoid tin-hat flat erfer might say this could be a feature, not a bug. Where will the trend line take us, across what segments of global pops, over a 10-15 year period? I bet Fauch, Zuch, Bezos and Gates have that data.

      Old-age high-cost wasters of food and air with co-morbidities? Gone.
      Impoverished agitated brown have-nots? Gone
      Overall resource demand reduced by 1% population reduction— beyond natural death rate/per year over a 10-year period?

      Ask a banker… pennies add up. Look what a 2% improvement in fuel efficiency of the vehicle fleet did to bend the oil and gas demand curve.

      By the way, Tamara Keith of NPR opined that if perchance there was another wave of a different evolved strain in the future, perhaps politicians will be better prepared, like their constituents, to bear down and modify by compliance and or regs, to batten down the hatches.

      As I said, I haven’t been following MSM, but to hear a reporter with a Big Mike very obliquely mention that it might not be over, well, I was jaw-dropped!

      Not a word about alternative non-vax early onset treatments, air exchange, indoor space people management, so she seemed to have her feet firmly straddling what Kelly Anne fondly referred to as,
      ‘… your facts …”

      1. Skunk

        Paul Farmer was an amazing observer and writer. I hope the “puff piece” also recognized his contributions.

    4. drumlin woodchuckles

      Western civilized mankind was already doing that. Exogenous estrogenoid pollution all throughout the environment, cellular brain damage through undernutrition/ malnutrition and brain-cell marination in all kinds of electro-magnetic fields, etc.

      Perhaps Gaia itself ordered up the creation of the Mass Democidal Overclass with its goal of killing 7 billion or so people over the next hundred years with all kinds of methods, deliberate covid spreading being only one of them.

      And if Gaia ordered up this covid for population reduction, then Gaia will see that it isn’t working and will not work in China, and Gaia will have to invent and deploy something else to bring China under the levels of economic output reduction that Gaia may be said to be engineering for the NonChina Industrial World.

    5. Andrew Watts

      Except the effects are temporary. At least they were in my case. I’ve also found that disclosing this side-effect is a great motivator to get people vaccinated. After I told some friends they immediately ran out to get vaccinated or booster shots. Like the very next day.

      The various countries with adequate vaccine supplies might’ve found more success with a public relations campaign along the lines of “your penis won’t work right if you get COVID”. As opposed to universal mandates and threatening to ruin their social life.

      Even a mild case of COVID might do that for a lot of guys.

    6. ChrisPacific

      I made a similar idle speculation to my wife recently and she pointed out that it was essentially intelligent design. She has a point. If the virus is just a randomly evolved clump of DNA trying to reproduce, it’s hard to reconcile that with the speculation. If it’s not, then someone or something must have created it.

      You could perhaps use a variant of the anthropic principle to theorize that the universe has (and has always had) natural stabilizers to prevent civilizations of intelligent beings from engineering their own extinction. Absent theory and evidence on the mechanism and how it happens, though, that’s a handwave as well. Faith based arguments, however palatable to us, are still faith based arguments, and if we accept them we undermine our ability to reject them in others when they’re used for things like culling school curricula.

      (Not that I think you were making a serious argument at all, but it bears mentioning).

  5. Roger Blakely

    Why One-Way Masking Isn’t a Very Good Public Health Solution Slate.

    This article has problems. I would say that masking is less effective than the author thinks and that respirators are more effective than the author thinks.

    Masking makes sense for reducing viral loads in indoor spaces where the individual visits for a short period of time, e.g., grocery store, public transportation. However, once an individual starts spending more than ten minutes in that indoor space, like in a classroom, the masking becomes less relevant. Masks leak, and viral loads build up in the space unless effort is made to filter out virus-laden aerosols or to exhaust used air and replace it with fresh air.

    Formal fit testing isn’t necessary. If you wear the respirator for a few days, you have a pretty good idea of when it’s fitting well and when it’s not fitting well. Wearing a respirator in indoor spaces at all times is the only way to avoid inhaling the virus. That’s what living with the virus looks like.

    1. GM

      P100 gas masks have an in-built fit test — can you smell anything?

      If you can’t, you are protected.

      N95s do leak a little bit on the nose quite often. So better safe than sorry. And who cares what people around you think…

      1. Yves Smith

        I get to that point with a specific N95 (that one otherwise. leaks under chin) + a procedure mask, which in theory is not a good approach (studies find users breathe too hard and force a leak) but that combo leads to no smell.

        The approach that this study found most effective was an NP5 with the nose bridge taped.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > N95s do leak a little bit on the nose quite often.

        3M aura has a brilliant foam nosepiece, so no leaks there.

        The chin coverage is a little sketchy; I try to adjust the elastic straps round the back of my head to tighten up coverage there.

    2. Jan

      Is it just me or does Lambert and others seem really mad that mask mandates are being repealed. N95’s are widely available so i’m not quite sure why the authoritarian impulse…

      1. Charger01

        Because the pandemic hasn’t changed (i.e. airborne transmission of the virus) why are policy officials suddenly saying that it’s okay to resume pre March 2020 activities?

        1. Lina

          Exactly. Our school district (MA) overturned mask mandates, effective next week when kids get back from vacation. Worst timing ever. I’m livid but nothing I can do. Try asking an 8 year old to wear a mask when none of her peers are. It won’t happen.

          The school acted so fast to make the change I got whiplash before I realized what happened. Deliberate, I am sure.

          I’ve had it with people. Idiots, all of them.

            1. ArvidMartensen

              Or as Gates said “Sadly, the virus itself, particularly the variant called Omicron is a type of vaccine…. and its done a better job of getting out to the world population than we have with vaccines”
              A person who wanted better public health would hail it as a win that a lot of the population now have a natural immunity to Covid.
              But not Gates. For him, natural immunity is a Sadly. What a money-chasing, psychopathic monster.

              1. BlakeFelix

                Well, it’s sadly because vaccines are pretty safe and Omicron is pretty dangerous. Natural immunity comes from a failure of society to protect people, in this case people in poor countries. And society and its failures being represented by Bill Gates.

        2. Return of the Bride of Joe Biden

          why are policy officials suddenly saying that it’s okay to resume pre March 2020 activities?

          Uhmm… Freedom?

          Freedom To Consume

      2. GM

        Because a lot of people will die and become permanently disabled, and that is being encouraged. That’s why

        If you don’t think mass murder on such a scale is a justifiable reason to be angry, you need to seriously reexamine the way you perceive the world around you

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Because a lot of people will die and become permanently disabled, and that is being encouraged. That’s why

          Ding ding ding ding, we have a winner.

          > others seem really mad that mask mandates are being repealed. N95’s are widely available so i’m not quite sure why the authoritarian impulse

          If I were mad, would that be a bad thing? I’m not a liberal. As for the second ad hom, seatbelts are widely available. So are cigarettes. If seatbelts and the prohibition of cigarette smoking derive from authoritarian impulses, I plead guilty.

          As with cigarettes, I just don’t want to public good that is air to be poisoned. Is that so wrong?

      3. tegnost

        Isn’t the authoritarian impulse to fire unvaxxed workers?
        Mask mandates are and have been a reasonable public response.
        Pretty much guarantees a renewed and reinvigorated covid.
        At any rate, I’ll continue masking, and with an anti mask mandate officially or just as a social stigma, I may switch to a respirator and not be as concerned re exhalations

      4. jr

        Sorry, how does the repeal of the mask mandates and the availability of masks cohere into authoritarianism? Please don’t say something like “Now everyone can make their own choice!” or something like that. That bit of mental knob-gobbling has been dissected here numerous times

        1. judy2shoes

          “how does the repeal of the mask mandates and the availability of masks cohere into authoritarianism?”

          That was my question, too, jr. Thanks for asking. I do suspect, however, that (paraphrasing) “the moving fingers type; and having typed, move back into the ether from whence they came” with regard to Jan. :)

      5. drumlin woodchuckles

        Because we don’t want anti-mask freedom-rebel Typhoid MAGA corona-spreaders running around making the rest of us infected on purpose.

        Then again, the non-Asia governments of the world are also conspiring to spread covid to everyone on purpose as well. And the governments have more power to spread covid than the Typhoid MAGA covid-zombie corona-lepers.

        So those of us who wish to remain covid-free have to protect ourselves against infection in the midst of a whole Civilization Matrix which has been designed to infect us. It is like staying fresh and clean while swimming in a sewage lagoon. It is difficult, but we will do our best. And that will involve wearing respirators around people and especially indoors.

      6. Yves Smith

        Oh, masks are so so hard even though children all over Asia wear them to school. Clearly it’s authoritarian to ask adults to meet the standards of behavior of mere tykes.

    3. Wukchumni

      I’m ill at ease when encountering those naked from the neck up inside buildings, what is this to you, some sort of facial nudist colony!… I think to myself, but say nothing, not even being able to cast a dirty look their way with my mask on.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Do you carry bear spray/ pepper spray/ mace with you at all times for when the Jonestown Typhoid MAGAs reach the point of trying to tear your mask off so they can cough in your face?

        1. ambrit

          That is actually a good idea. (Not snark.)
          I really can ‘see’ hipsters etc. doing exactly that, (tear the mask off.)
          People will do very stupid things when they want to be considered as part of the “in group.”

  6. The Rev Kev

    “China ‘concerned’ about Ukraine crisis, resists taking sides despite US pressure”

    There would be an important consideration for China here. The Donbass Republics are what one could consider to be ‘rebellious provinces’ and China can’t support Russia’s stance too much as that is what they consider Taiwan to be – a rebellious province. They do not want to be seen supporting rebellious provinces in Europe while being against them in their own home waters. But when push comes to shove, they will support Russia as they know that the US/EU is coming for them next.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      My Chinese friends have been openly wondering why Xi has been so quiet on this.

      As you suggest, I think the Chinese are very cautious about stepping back from their much stated principle of not encouraging separatist movements. I think they are very uncomfortable about what is happening, not least because of the potential impacts on energy prices. They have more than enough problems at home with surging costs.

    2. Carolinian

      From reports of Putin’s speech it sounds like he preceded in his usual methodical and logical way–first being a history of how the current Ukrainian state was created by the Soviet Union, has only been around for a few decades and is therefore different from places like China which has been around for a few millennia. He then says the experiment of linking ethnic Russians together with their historic sworn enemies produced a failed state. China isn’t that either.

      And if you want to talk inconsistency that would have to fall on the Americans who say Ukraine is indivisible but China and Yugoslavia are not. In other words Putin is out to bring down the “it’s ok when we do it” mentality of the hegemon.

      This hegemon denizen says good because our elites take the same attitude toward their own population. This isn’t about patriotism but rather loyalty to class the thing “you [I] ain’t in.”

      It’s impossible to know what happens next but it’s possible that Putin has saved many thousands of lives–both his people’s and Ukraine’s–by doing what he did. Compared to US standards that’s an entirely different moral calculus. Ukraine hates the east and doesn’t seem to want it anyway. Why should anyone object?

    3. PlutoniumKun

      I should add that it works both ways too. Russia has to be careful about promoting the norm of big nations reclaiming their ‘historic’ boundaries. Chinese nationalists consider Vladivostok and the surrounding region as historically Chinese.

      1. The Rev Kev

        I don’t think that it is so simple. Crimea, for example, was Russian before there was a United States and would be a strategic threat to Russia if it became a US Naval base as was planned. And with the Donbass, I think that it was pretty obvious that if the Ukraine had taken it back, that there would be massacres and mass ‘disappearances’, not that the EU for example would have cared. And it is pretty plain for all to see that the US/EU strategy is to contain Russia, hem them in from the Arctic to the Black Sea and station tactical nuclear missiles on their borders to get the nuclear drop on them. So, not so much reclaiming historic borders as meeting clear and present strategic threats.

        1. jsn

          It’s a testament to the wonderful imagination of what passes for “intelligence” in the US that it was expected the Russian navy and military presence in Crimea would somehow vanish when we staged a coup 800 kilometers away in Kiev.

          1. John

            Kiev refused to even consider the Minsk II accords, which could have defused the situation, while outraging ” the more extreme elements.” The US/NATO pushed as hard as they could to produce their required outcome. Did not work. Shooting starts. Russia says enough and recognizes the de facto status quo. Moves in forces, as I see it, to say to the Ukranians, ” Not One Step Further.” Best solution? Probably not, nor even a solution, but a move in a game that will play out with steps toward that “new security architecture.”

            If you want to understand this, it is not difficult. The DC bubble does not want to understand.

            1. jsn

              Right, so now we get to find out how enthusiastic our NATO allies are about purchasing West Texas shale gas off a boat rather than the Russian stuff in the pipeline they already paid for.

              It will be interesting to see how many other ways we devise to alienate our allies and strengthen our enemies.

              I guess “intelligence” isn’t satisfied with the quality of the Iranian win in Iraq and wants to see if it can do better for China and Russia in Europe by disbanding NATO. The UK is really the only one left on board, but then they’ve always been an island off the coast of Europe.

      2. Michael McK

        Korea has a historic claim to Vladivostok too, and to a big chunk of NE China as well.
        Historic claims get messy, there are lots of them, they overlap and (as in the case with North/South Korea) there could be multiple claimants.
        China’s 9 dash line ruse is a current messy example of a carefully curated and narrowly viewed historic claim.
        My favorite solution for the ocean based squabbles is that the disputed areas become off limits for any human activity, especially fishing to allow someplace for fish populations to rebound.
        As to the current situation, my advise to the Chinese would be to gently chide the Russians for not respecting Ukrainian borders while strongly condemning the failure of parties to live up to the UN recognized obligations of the Minsk Accords and place blame there.
        Meanwhile, they could note the US/NATO history of expansion and belligerence, and start the inevitable selling off all dollar denominated bonds starting to issue their own global savings instrument. US empire over, thanks to 30 years of Capitalists blindly giving the shop to China in an effort to crush US workers and maximize short term profit.

    4. Kouros

      Or the Chinese can say that chunks of Russian land was inappropriately given to RSS Ukraine in the past and now US is taking advantage of the whole. One can say many things.

      Even peddle ethnic based nationalism, since Taiwan is dominated by Han Chinese that run from the Mainland.

  7. PlutoniumKun

    No plan yet for bullet train’s soaring price tag CalMatters

    Estimated cost – $100 billion (its not clear from reports just how much of the scheme this includes, as there is a total of 800 miles of various lines proposed).

    Japan is building its chuo Shinkensen – a super high speed maglev (at least one third faster than conventional HSR). The Tokyo Osaka line is 177 miles in length and is projected to cost 7 billion yen (about $65 billion dollars). It crosses far tougher terrain – 80% will have to be in tunnels – and Japanese geology is tough going for tunnellers (very hard rock, lots of volcanic hotspots, major earthquakes).

    China, of course, has built a massive network – nobody knows the true overall cost, but its likely to have been a fraction of either, albeit at the expense of some…. short cuts.

    The trick of building railway systems at a reasonable price is relatively straightforward. Stop thinking in terms of routes and start thinking in terms of networks with 25-30 year construction time frames. Pick some standards and stick with them (personally i think that at this stage the US should forget conventional HSR and go for the Japanese 300 mph standard, it makes sense for the big distances of the US). Its only by standardisation and long time frames that you can push down construction costs. There is enormous waste involved in developing individual lines, and then dispersing your contracting teams once its built.

    1. Wukchumni

      Not that i’ve been looking or making any effort whatsoever, but here I am in the beating heart of the CVBB where the proposed choo-choo is supposed to be and yet I see no evidence that anything is actually happening.

      Have I led too sheltered of a life?

      1. Raymond Sim

        Have I led too sheltered of a life?</blockquote

        Being unable to see the invisible train to nowhere does not make you naive. However, if the mere idea of it doesn't fill your heart with joy you may be a Bad Person.

    2. ambrit

      Alas, America has always ‘concentrated’ construction teams for projects and then ‘dispersed’ them after completion of individual items. My experience with a mid level Federal project was that the sub-contractors were chosen through the traditional cost to ‘individual benefit’ ratio. The sub-contractors were fully responsible for their workforce. Generally, a small cadre of ‘managers’ were retained and almost all else, the actual skilled workers, were treated as “pick up” assets. Employment of mid and high level skilled workers thus devolves into a mish mash of “personal networks.” Manager A calls Foreman B and calls for X number of widget makers. Foreman B calls around to his ‘circle’ of skilled workers and lines up the required number of hands. This almost never fills the required worker population, so then, ads are put out at supply houses in the area of the project, and in local communications venues for extra hands. Craig’slist is a prime source for this Down South. Whenever one peruses the, shall we say, local venue sources, one keeps in the back of one’s mind the fact that anyone thus hired will be paid less than the “inner circle” workers, and be automatically classed as the first to be let go, often before the project is finished.
      The Unions were America’s resivoir of skilled workers, trained in their tasks and available, for a price. Really, basic Capitalism at work.
      The “at will” employment scheme is Socialism for the Employers. The Social Safety Nets maintain a population of basically competent workers for whenever the Employers need them. The bulk of the “fruits of their labours” gravitate to said Employers.
      By shredding the Social Safety Nets, the Neos are shooting themselves in the foot. Without the Social Safety Nets, the average worker has little incentive to invest in training for a marginal increase in recompense. The supply of available trained workers shrinks, and projects are suddenly impossible to carry out, without an investment in new worker training. I have seen well trained and competent workers in construction turn down jobs due to the low pay offered. Benefits in the construction field are generally now reserved for the permenant managerial cadres.
      Reversing the deskilling trend will take a generation, if it happens at all. Look around you. America is literally falling apart.
      What I fear is that we are a long way from hitting bottom on this trend.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        I’ve posted this before, but in a past life I worked for a US/UK construction company in partnership with a French state engineering company – as it happens, building high speed rail.

        2 years into the project there was a funding squeeze and all work was suspended. Over the loud objections of team managers most of my companies engineers were let go, with only a small core remaining. The French engineers stayed in their jobs, working, paid by their employer. When the money flowed again my employer had to practically beg its former workers to come back – most insisted on short term contracts at multiples of their previous hourly rate. Others never came back and had to be replaced with new graduate engineers who took many months to get up to speed.

        You can guess who had all the design and contract work completed first, and I’m pretty sure cheaper. All the French engineers were life employees, they devoted their entire careers to nothing but building railways. It was second nature to them. For my company, it was a huge, and expensive, learning curve (they learned the hard way that building railways was not ‘just like’ building highways). When the project ended, the engineers all scattered onto other projects.

        1. ambrit

          When my Dad worked as a high pressure and temperature piping specialist, initially in England, he was trained first as an apprentice draftsman by the London office of a Dutch concern. The company kept him and the other apprentices on and trained them further by sending them out on jobs to learn from the specialists in the field.
          When we came to America, the first ‘culture shock’ my parents encountered was the lack of any social and financial basic supports. In the technical fields Dad used to pool his money with some workplace acquaintances for a subscription to a newsletter called the “Jobshopper News.” It was a semi-exclusive Help Wanted sheet for technical fields. Dad always referred to this part of his work life as the “Jobshopping Years.” From my tiddler’s perspective, I remember the family moving about the country a lot.
          Stay safe and be proactive. We have to take care of ourselves now. To H— with the “Official Version” of events.
          Is it just me, or has Cynicism become the domineat social mind set now?

          1. jr

            “ has Cynicism become the domineat social mind set now?”

            I would have said narcissism but maybe we can meet half way: Narcicynicism!

            Think of the comedic fumblings of Dennis Miller!


            Better yet, don’t.

            1. ambrit

              Hmmm… Dennis Miller. Wasn’t he ‘outed’ as a Russian asset? Supposedly recruited by Yakov Smirnov. The Rot goes deep in comedy.

            2. gepay

              Comedienne Lilly Tomlin: “The older I get, the more cynical I get. No matter how cynical I get, it is impossible to keep up.”

          2. John k

            In 1975 I was a shopper working in NJ… still a shortage of engineers on account of Vietnam and space program… customer paid us to move to CA when they closed that office, eventually converted to permanent until I was retired in 2003.

            1. ambrit

              Good man. Dad worked at Huntsville for a year, for NASA, while Mom and I lived in Hialeah. He never knew how long the job would last, so he often worked “out of town.”
              He also worked for Braun Company in Los Angeles for a year, designing tanks. They were very upset when they learned that he had been a member of the Young Communist League (Trotskyite) as a teenager in London. We non-essential members of the family unit moved to Los Angeles with him, and promptly moved back to Miami after the Braun job exploded.

      2. tegnost

        Look around you. America is literally falling apart.
        Thanks ambrit.
        My observation here in the Greater Northwest…
        When the topic of homelessness comes up in my circle one solution always offered is to send them somewhere else… it’s never acknowledged that the homeless problem exists in every city in the US, with the caveat that suburbs and small regional towns can and do offload their homeless to the regional big city, be it Seattle or Memphis. The same holds true for infrastructure. In Seattle the I-5 ship canal bridge is having problems, and a major arterial bridge to West Seattle is also problematic to name the tips of the iceberg. Multiply that by the 100 or so big US cities and it’s “Houston, we have a problem…and Miami and Newark and Denver and……….

        1. ambrit

          Oh, this scourge is coming to the mid and small metropolis’ of America now. We here in the half-horse town have a slow but steady increase in small property crimes ongoing. The Nextdoor has regular “reports” from locals about sketchy individuals trying doors for ingress during the night, and stealing stuff from off of porches, out of cars and trucks, and from out of garages.
          I really do wish some enterprising social activists would run seminars for the poor and downtrodden about bypassing their barely better off neighbors and going straight to the gated communities on the outskirts of town for their larcenous shopping sprees.

            1. ambrit

              Even though they are stealth curated, the Nextdoor “reports” are the closest thing I can think of to “crowdsourced” local news. A lot of stuff is caught and circulated widely before it is ‘disappeared’ by the “happy families team.”
              One thing not easily faked are the doorbell camera shots and outside surveillance camera shots of ‘malefactors.’

      3. flora

        Thanks for this comment. Neos do not see labor as labor, they see unperson’ed sets of skill-at-a-price, as if skill-at-a-price can be bought off the shelf in the abstract; labor becomes just another form of capital, the worker a ‘micro-capitalist’. Works great on the neolib spread sheet (and in their ideological mindset), not in the real world results. You should see some of the outdoor concrete stairways built this way at my uni. Differing rises and tread depths from from one step to the next. Each step an “adventure”. Downright dangerous to use.

        1. flora

          adding (going on too long): in the neo world, labor cannot be exploited because labor does not exist; the ‘micro-capitalist’ sells his ware on the open market by undercutting his ‘competitors’ prices. Since the Market is the ultimate perfect knowledge machine, the outcome of this transaction is equitable and right. ‘Skill’ is an externality. (rolling my eyes, here.)

          If I wrote a novel about this I’d title it “Spreadsheets to Oblivion.” / ;)

          1. ambrit

            You could make it a Technothriller: “Culture of Deciet.” It would be about a project to engineer a genetic underclass.

    3. John

      Did you see the recent map shown on NC of the Chinese high speed buildout? 2008 to 2020? 12 years?
      The US can’t even get a comprehensive national net work of fios done. Rail lines? Forget about it until the uniparty, neoliberalism and Amrika’s unique form of corruption dies and is replaced.

      1. anon y'mouse

        what you’re saying goes x3thousand for switching to nuclear, then.

        i always say “get back to me on nuclear when we can manage clean water & functioning sewerage in this country”.

        our technical abilities have gone into bazillionaire pockets and are no more.

    4. JTMcPhee

      One might dare to ask, “is this trip necessary?” Lots of folks have discovered they can work from home, the PMC is already served by Acela that clunks along. HST in the US looks to be mostly another giant carcass that the carrion eaters/profit and rent seekers hope to feast on. Just another aircraft carrier supposedly boosting national pride.

      How much property will be expropriated, , what groups will suffer, , why is this not a “we can’t afford it” item?

    5. drumlin woodchuckles

      The waste is the point. The waste of money is not a waste to the people who harvest the money. Also, spending all that money on a white elephant prestige high speed rail line over and through the best farmland in California is a way to prevent and pre-empt being able to spend that money on a long range rail network.

      Viable rail-network prevention is part of the reason for this symbolic prestige project.

    6. John k

      The French bid on the CA job, were rejected in favor of locals with no experience.
      Imo a ballot initiative to take the balance of the money and spend it on water projects would pass in a landslide.

      1. ChrisRUEcon

        > The US presentation was a movie about Benjamin Franklin.

        LOL … yep! The maps (via Twitter) showing railway growth in China since 2008 have also been making the rounds.

        > They also proposed using the technology for satellite launching.

        Yesssssss … the “Viper Launch System” from BattleStar Galactica!

  8. Henry Moon Pie

    Two impressions from the past couple of days:

    Putin is finishing the job bin Laden started with a big assist from Covid. It’s to our shame that we were unable to bring down this Empire from within and must instead rely on outsiders to do it. It will be worse for us as a result.

    The WWII parallels demand ignoring Godwin. A peace conference in Munich. A demand by a nation that two neighboring provinces be severed from the nation to which they currently belong because they contain a majority of speakers of his language. A speech by that same leader to his people that recounts the grievances and knives-in-the-back that they have suffered in the past. Warnings that Poland is next.

    Or maybe it’s just that I’ve been playing too much Hearts of Iron IV during these wintry days.

  9. PlutoniumKun

    The Mystery of the Declining U.S. Birth Rate EconoFact

    This is of course one of those ‘mysteries’ where everyone applies their own favourite ideological/social hobbyhorse viewpoints.

    But taking the bigger picture, the US was always something of an outlier in the worldwide pattern of often very rapid drops in fertility once countries achieve high income status to one degree or another. The UK, interestingly, was another. A common feature is that the drop in fertility is often startlingly rapid, indicating that it is as much a social phenomenon as one driven by economic or other factors. It often kicks in at different stages of development, although in Asia it has often occurred almost exactly as the country moves from middle to high income status. The pattern has been pretty much identical from Japan to ROK to Taiwan and now China (although of course the underlying pattern in China has been distorted by the one child policy, which imo was always exaggerated in importance as most Chinese found ways around it if they really wanted more kids).

    Europe has been a little more complicated. The biggest initial drop was not in the wealthiest countries, but in the catholic countries of the south (indicating that it has nothing to do with religious beliefs) and in eastern Europe. Northern Europe has managed to some extent forestall it by way of very generous childcare provisions and immigration, but most are only just maintaining a replacement rate.

    The usual explanation – and one I think is most convincing – is economic status during the key years of fertility. In countries where it doesn’t cost too much for a woman to drop out of employment temporarily, either because of strong social supports, or a strong flexible job market, there is usually a higher birth rate. When supports are lacking, and employees have no incentive not to put excess pressures on women, then the rate plummets. My guess is that in the US the key issue has been that women returning to the workplace after taking a few years out for childraising are facing much worse career prospects than in the past. This is significantly changing the individual calculations for millions of couples.

    1. Yves Smith

      The US was projected to have a declining birth rate in the 1990s and show a smaller population. Demographers were surprised by the 2000 census. Immigration and higher birth rates among immigrants blindsided them. This was a big enough surprise that it was a major topic in a consulting study I around then.

      1. dave in Austin

        ” Immigration and higher birth rates among immigrants blindsided them.”

        And the consequences of immigration and higher birthrates among immigrants blindsided the poilitical elites and gave us The Donald.

      2. PlutoniumKun

        By a coincidence, via Pettis on twitter, there is a reuters report here indicating that the cost (as a percentage of income) of raising a child is rocketing, and is particularly high in China. This reflects what I hear from Chinese friends. This is one reason why so many Chinese send their kids to schools in western countries. It is actually quite cost effective compared to raising them in Beijing or Shanghai. I know several Chinese who have kids in upmarket boarding schools in Ireland and they are by no means rich – just moderately high income.

        I believe that when all is said and done, people tend to want several children, but only if they are affordable. The more expensive it is, the fewer kids they will have. Its quite simple.

  10. Tutti

    Re: The vaccine that spreads immunity by passing itself on like a virus

    Someone must stop “scientists”. This is not just illegal, it has no ethical. They are planning to infect the entire population on purpose without saying that. They must stop playing with biology and genetics like Gods.

    Stop making transgenic organs with transgenic species with the poor justification to “given them to humans in need”. Humans need to live in a society where donation is promoted instead of buying manufactured organs to rich people.

    A selfish society does not donate organs. A humanist one, perhaps would be different.

  11. Milton

    Declining Births…
    I appreciate the graph showing the general decreasing trend in births among age cohorts but the reasons and implications for a declining population are what is expected from a classical economics site. This little blurb near the bottom made me question if the numbers contained within are even accurate, as it signals to me the laziness of the writer(s).
    Births conceived between the onset of the pandemic in March 2020 and the end of that year fell by around 60,000. This is a smaller drop than many had expected, given the dramatic rise in unemployment and in economic and public health uncertainty at the outset of the pandemic.
    Uhh, births up into mid-Dec where in the can before the lockdown, with the exception of some Preemies. The number that fell in 2020 is in line with the overall declining trend, 2021 will be the first year where Covid will have a direct effect.

    1. polar donkey

      The mystery of declining birthrate after 2007- Are the authors not American or haven’t gone outside their college campus? It really doesn’t seem like that much of a mystery.

        1. TimH

          I’m sure that the college kids are having similar amounts of sex as the good ol’ days. It’s just a question of whether with someone else or not…

    2. Lou Anton

      That footnote refers to estimates of births in the first half of 2021, and it links to a Brookings study (here). I’d contend the bigger problem with the article is how they measure “improving economy.” You know what they link to? – a study on housing prices.

      I’d always contended that the downtrend in Labor Force Participation Rate (ages 25-54 here) lined up well with the declining birth rate, but LFPR jumps back up after 2016 while the birth rate continues to crater. Maybe the scars from economic pain between 2007-2016 remain and held the birth rate back?

    3. Jeffrey

      No mention of the application of pesticides onto food which is designed to prevent births and to end life in insects and that also can affect humans health and fertility.

      In addition, Genetically Modified Organisms in foodstuffs. The science about GMOs affecting fertility is commonplace. GMOs first placed onto grocery shelves in 1993 and in large numbers at the beginning of the period outlined here.

      “GM foods are considered to be responsible for the development of infertility which appears to be a major global issue. It is revealed that 8% to 12% of reproductive-age couples worldwide will be affected, and approximately 40–50% of all infertility cases are due to “human factors” “[2, 3].

      2. Kumar N., Singh A. Trends of male factor infertility, an important cause of infertility: a review of literature. Journal of Human Reproductive Sciences. 2015;8(4):p. 191. doi: 10.4103/0974-1208.170370. [PMC free article] [PubMed] [CrossRef] [Google Scholar]

      3. Vander Borght M., Wyns C. Fertility and infertility: definition and epidemiology. Clinical Biochemistry. 2018;62:2–10. doi: 10.1016/j.clinbiochem.2018.03.012. [PubMed] [CrossRef] [Google Scholar]

      Eat organic if you want to have health, and or children.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        There are still some conventional foods which are GMO-free. They would mostly be tree nuts and tree fruits which haven’t been GMOd yet.

        For annual and short-lifespan perennial crops, one would have to do a species by species intensive research project to see which ones have not yet been GMOd. Perhaps the anti-GMO defense organizations have already done those searches.

        But as to grains, even the conventional grains which have not been GMOd are more-and-more mass-sprayed shortly before harvest to get the plants to finish grain maturation and dry down all at once for ease of one-past harvest. And there is no requirement to disclose the use of glyphosate on crops to mass-dessicate them for harvest. So there is another reason to buy certified organic no-glypho food . . . or grow your own.

        Has anyone studied the effect of glyphosate on fertility?

        1. PlutoniumKun

          Health Nerd is a reliable megaphone for whatever junk science the Pharm or chemical industry wants repeated and spread.

          Bad researchers always fall behind the false assumption that ‘the dose equals the poison’. This is simply untrue for many compounds. Low persistent levels (especially of endocrine disrupters) can be far more serious than one off toxic insults. I’d happily take spoonfuls of dioxin or PCB’s on an empty stomach. But take very tiny quantities – at the limits of detectability – persistently with fats over a long period and you will suffer terrible health impacts. Glyphosate is a known endocrine disruptor.

          There is plenty of evidence that the ubiquity of glyphosate in our foods and environment is causing problems. It is precisely this which is the problem, not one off acute ingestion events.

          1. gepay

            While glyphosate doesn’t have a direct immediate harm to humans, the long term effects of constant exposure can cause cancer. While it mainly affects plants, it also affects bacteria. It affects the bacteria in your intestine. The importance of the bowel microbiome is only now being recognized. See the work of Stephane Seneff of MIT on glyphosate. It is so overused that it is ubiquitous in the environment and in our bodies.

    4. griffen

      Not a parent but using anecdotal conversations with younger millenial(s) at various employers, having children is expensive in particular with employer provided healthcare. I think also that younger generation is serious about reluctantly accepting student debts as a part of life, at least the financial literate ones that I worked with. Many young women I worked with were in a dual earner / income family, too.

      Family formation trends seems to favor smaller families than in the past 25 to 35 years. Instead of having 4 children or more, it may be enough younger parents are choosing 2 to 3 children at most and that is the maximum number they wish to shelter, clothe, provide opportunity and so forth.

  12. The Rev Kev

    “Quad ‘concerned’ over Myanmar, but India opposes sanctions, more focussed on border issues”

    The Indians aren’t stupid. They know that the other members of the Quad – the US, Japan & Australia – all have an ocean between them and Myanmar. India, on the other hand, has only the State of Bangladesh between them and India proper and in the Bay of Bengal, India actually faces Myanmar. If they help turn up the pain dial on Myanmar, I am quite sure that Myanmar could do the same to them by supporting insurgents in India.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Thanks for that alternate link. People were spewing that the US ‘official’ defence budget is heading towards $800 billion a year under Biden. I wonder what people will say upon the passing of the first $1 trillion defence budget – and maybe sooner than you think.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Perhaps the Peter Thiel class thinks it can survive the Nuclear Jackpot and re-emerge after it is “safe” to do so. And then have the earth all to itself.

    2. MargoLane

      Double the defense budget? It’s already 55%, that means 110% of a number, which you can’t do without even more massive debt.

      Here’s some easy guerilla graffiti:

      On a dollar bill, or larger denominations, draw a fine horizontal line from the far left side across the middle to the right edge of the portrait. Make a dot at the end of the line.
      Near that, in small neat ink, write “55% of budget for ‘defense’ “,
      “55% of taxes wasted on losing wars”,
      “55% of taxes profits for MIC”,
      or whatever is appropriate.
      Spend bill into circulation.

      If you are a real troublemaker, create a rubber stamp for all your bills. It’s legal BTW, as long as denomination isn’t altered.

      Seeing lots of bills with “Let’s Go Brandon!”
      “Bidenflation sucks!”
      curses about Biden/Harris.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Maybe put those words in a word-balloon designed to be coming out of the mouth of whichever President is on the bill in question.

    3. Eclair

      More money for the military combined with the almost total wipe-out of jobs that actually make stuff we need will tend to make joining the military the best option for so many young people, with few other options.

      The small towns in the great swath of country that runs through the Allegheny National Forest, from the New York border, south to Scranton, is dotted with dying towns, once populated by coal miners, small industries, and foresters. Now, the best job option for young men and women is often the military. The lamp posts and telegraph poles on the main streets of these towns are draped with flags, each bearing the photo, name and rank of the young people who went to war. Even if the ‘war’ consisted of repairing trucks.

      These are towns of no hope, except to leave. They are also deep red; Trump signs and banners are everywhere. Last November, driving through, hoodies with “Let’s Go, Brandon!” were evident at the local gas station/ pizza and sub place. Along with the deer hunters.

      Trump and the Right have captured the working class in this area. Now we can safely demonize a large portion of our population, because they are poor, they have no hope of decent jobs (with attendant paid holidays, vacations, pensions, and maternity/paternity leave and health care,) they are poorly educated …. and they have turned to the political Right.

      Their options are depression (drugs and deaths of despair) or anger. And their anger is turned (skillfully) against immigrants and people of color, and against government and government mandates (because what has government done but wrecked their local economy?)

  13. AnActualCanadian

    The US is, unsurprisingly, viewing the Canadian troubles through a US lens.

    Since everyone is so shocked to find out that things can go down the pike differently here, I hope the US media also point out a few other key differences. Namely, that we don’t guarantee freedom of speech here; you can be tried repeatedly on the same charges (ie the Crown can appeal); we don’t have Miranda rights; and we are a parliamentary political system and don’t vote for the prime minister directly but for a party, among other things.

    While I share many concerns about the precedent, I think it’s worth noting that the last time a similar situation was invoked, was also during a time of domestic terrorism here. And let’s be clear, this was never a ‘trucker protest’. It was an alt-right collective attempting to use popular anger and frustration to push its agenda and to literally take over the government. One of the repeated demands of the ‘protest’ group leaders was to form a coalition with the Senate and the Governor-General, both of which are unelected bodies.

    Last but not least, this continuing surprise over us “boring”, “nice” people etc etc is frankly patronizing and ignorant.

    1. Alphonse

      There were some people who issued insane demands as you said, but there was zero possibility that they would ever be implemented, any more than the January 6 rioters could have seized power by occupying the capitol. Nor is it clear that the people issuing those demands represented anyone other than themselves. This was a protest by truckers and ordinary people – most of them probably have little understanding of or interest in the details of how government works. What they wanted was what they said: the lifting of restrictions.

      Here are the actual demands issued by the protesters. Briefly: end mandates, end emergency powers over protests, help affected small businesses, end discrimination, review the government’s response.

      Furthermore, the idea that this was somehow manufactured by an right-wing cabal is not credible. A large number of Canadians (and Americans) were looking for a way to protest before the convoy was even proposed. I saw the before, during and after on Twitter. Large numbers of them spontaneously came out at overpasses and crossroads to cheer the truckers as they drove to Ottawa. Polling found a substantial minority in support. It is convenient for opponents to claim this is the work of a conspiracy or foreign actors, but this was a genuine grassroots movement.

      The government and mainstream media were outraged from the start that the protest even existed, and tried various narratives to dismiss it. They followed a playbook we have seen before. First they ignored it. The media did not even cover the departure from Vancouver. Then Trudeau called it a “fringe minority.” When it turned out to be large and widely supported, but was still underway, it was cast as Canada’s January 6. CBC even proposed it was the Russians. When it arrive in Ottawa, the story switched – now it was misogynists and racists. The media doubled down hard on this, blowing up a few instances to smear the entire movement.

      There is a kernel of truth to the racism: a few high-profile participants are racist, but they clearly do not represent the mass of protesters, nor does racism have anything to do with the convoy’s demands. There is more truth to the idea that it is right wing (not alt- or far right): a high proportion of these people appear to be Christian. I am not religious, but that is part of our cultural fabric. I see nothing insidious about it.

      Watch the numerous on-the-ground videos of protesters. The reporting of Rupa Subramanya, who had a view of the protests from her apartment, has been particularly good. If you think this was a conspiracy or a far right mob, you have been sold a bill of goods.

      1. AnActualCanadian

        “Watch the numerous on-the-ground videos of protesters. ” I did, and I have deep roots in the community, so sorry, my opinion stands. You can also see for yourself the behaviour of the protesters and the concerns of the local community, from the point of view of the locals, including who the composition of the protesters were, especially as time went on. And the main organizers all have strong ties to the alt-right, you can find that information easily and from multiple sources. Have you not seen Pat King’s livestreams, for example? He is a straight up alt-right white supremacist.
        I agree there was certainly some broad support to start with because people here are fed up, but it became clear pretty quickly that the real drivers behind the Ottawa protest had a much bigger and more sinister agenda.

        1. Yves Smith

          The protests originally did not have leaders. In fact in the early weeks there were complaints from IIRC the police about the inability to find anyone in charge for them to deal with. So why do you assume these “leaders” are legitimate, as opposed to people willing to stand on a soapbox and present themselves as leaders when the media shows up?

          Glenn Greenwald also vehemently disagrees with your view, which he contends is a press-created caricature:

          We saw the same thing with BLM, when Democratic hacks like Van Jones were suddenly depicted as BLM leaders when they’d had no/no meaningful actual involvement but were happy to act as if they could speak for the movement.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > Democratic hacks like Van Jones were suddenly depicted as BLM leaders when they’d had no/no meaningful actual involvement but were happy to act as if they could speak for the movement.

            Or Scranton’s own “Bob Bolus” in the United States — clearly selected to put the truckers in the worst possible light.

          2. HJR

            Yves, there were three different, major protests in Canada: Coutts (Alberta) , Windsor and Ottawa (both Ontario).

            The complaints from police about not being able to identify anyone in charge is from the Windsor protest (which closed the Ambassador bridge to the U.S.).

            The Ottawa protest has always had identifiable leaders, a web site (, and regularly held news conferences – they have videos of some of them on their site.

            They didn’t have a soap box, they had a stage with a sound system and arranged speakers.

            And when 5 of them appeared in court this week, they identified themselves as leaders, and in charge of the fundraising for the organization.

            As for Rav Arora (the Glenn Greenwald piece) it’s possibly unfair to judge people by who they associate with or support but he lists Ben Shapiro, Jordan Peterson, Adam Carolla, Joe Rogan as those he supports or has appeared with.

            As a 20 year old student studying journalism/psychology/criminology who hopes to graduate in 2024, I wish him well.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Here are the actual demands issued by the protesters

        Maybe. Tweets are easy to tweet.

        The claim that the Sikhs helped the Ottawa occupiers is interesting, though, if true. The Sikhs have a very good record on humanitarian assistance. (I’m doing synecdoche here with “the Sikhs,” of course.)

      3. HJR


        Those “ people who issued insane demands” are the same people who issued the new demands that you link to.

        The list of demands you post are from Feb 17th. The convoy had already been In Ottawa for weeks before that and they had posted their demands and MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) on their web site in January.

        I’m surprised you think the MSM didn’t cover the convoy when it started because I’ve been reading news articles in the MSM about it from before it arrived in Ottawa. Here’s one from Jan 27:

        As to the MOU, the National Post wrote:

        “The memorandum’s goal, it says, is to form a committee with the Senate and Governor General to override all levels of Canadian government, and if they refuse to join, the group says they should “resign their lawful positions of authority immediately.””

    2. lyman alpha blob

      Canadians taking over the government by peacefully honking was doomed to fail. Now if they’d added to that some selfie takers in buffalo hats stealing lecterns, they might have taken over all of North America.

    3. flora

      Many claims about the protest and the protestors. While some may have done this and some may have said that and some done neither but something else, none of the sweeping, broad brush claims about individual protestors’ motives or actions have been proved in a court of law. I discount the “court” of gossip. My great aunt always “knew” what was happening in the family – she was almost always wrong.

      1. flora

        adding: I understand what you’re saying about the difference between US and CA political and legal systems. Even so, I can’t think the CA system allows punishment (e.g. debanking) based on claim alone, even claim by the PM and howling by the MSM substituting for a legal court proceeding. If CA legal system does so allow, how is that different from a Star Chamber proceeding?

        1. flora

          adding, per wiki:

          ” The Star Chamber was originally established to ensure the fair enforcement of laws against socially and politically prominent people so powerful that ordinary courts might hesitate to convict them of their crimes. However, it became synonymous with social and political oppression through the arbitrary use and abuse of the power it wielded. ”

          I hope the use of state Emergency Power isn’t being politicially abused in the same way the original Star Chamber power was abused.

      2. Basil Pesto

        It’s enough to make one wonder whether the incoherence is a feature, not a bug, of the protests.

        Makes things slippery and elusive enough and you soon kind of get the sense that nobody really knows what they’re talking about, despite all the bloviating, the noise, the “you’re fascists!” “no you’re fascists!!” and the handwringing, pearl clutching and incipient totalitarianism fearmongering (I use the latter word deliberately, because of how that slur has been used and whom it has been directed at in the past two years) – I say this despite thinking that the CDN gov’t’s response ostensibly here being pretty bad and incompetent and stupidly heavy-handed.

        Meanwhile, per GM above, responding to someone bristling at Lambert’s editorial support for mask mandates:

        Because a lot of people will die and become permanently disabled, and that is being encouraged. That’s why

        If you don’t think mass murder on such a scale is a justifiable reason to be angry, you need to seriously reexamine the way you perceive the world around you

        yet that’s not what folks are angry about – or what the Like & Subscribe and Substack Left is talking about, this universal and vicious outrage being perpetrated against us – literally all of humanity. Instead, vis à vis Covid itself, they’ve been shuffled into a cul de sac of learned helplessness – either “vax and done”, “we have to learn to live with the virus” or “we can’t stay locked down forever!!1!!11!” or similar inane crap – and instead direct their energy at these political sideshows (of suspect provenance, to boot) with the ultimate goal of onboarding GBD-style public health nihilism – which now happens to be exactly the goal of pretty much every state in the west, including the governments that the governments happen to be protesting at. Funny that. It’s almost like divide and conquer identity politics works! but instead of race or sexuality, it’s now covid response identity politics.

        How many Canadians have died unnecessarily of Covid in the last month, again? They won’t get to attend any protests anymore, of course.

    4. HJR

      Freedom of speech is guaranteed in Canada by section 2(b) of the Charter of Rights and freedoms which says:

      2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:
      (b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;

      The Crown (i.e. public prosecutor) appealing a case does not mean someone is being tried more than once, or repeatedly.

      Obviously Canada doesn’t call them “Miranda rights” since that’s the name of a U.S. criminal case, but
      Canada’s Charter does state at section 10:

      10. Everyone has the right on arrest or detention
      a) to be informed promptly of the reasons therefor;
      b) to retain and instruct counsel without delay and to be informed of that right; and
      c) to have the validity of the detention determined by way of habeas corpus and to be released if the detention is not lawful.

      1. AnActualCanadian

        Where Canada and the US draws the line on “hate speech”, for example, is very different.

        I’d say in practice, Crown appeals may not be a retrial technically but they often function that way in practice.

        Re Miranda rights, there are implications on how arrests function here vs there.

        You aren’t incorrect, but I’m trying to convey the point for US readers that Canada isn’t just “America light”.

      2. Maritimer

        If you have a corrupt, political Injustice system, then a Charter of Rights is worthless, even less than that because people actually think it has worth. Here is some CDN reality:

        The Rot in Canada that Canadians ignore:

        First, in Nova Scotia in 2020, 22 citizens were murdered by a person who may have been an RCMP informant. This fellow had withdrawn $475,000 from a bank a few days previously. The RCMP and Governments tried to bury this with an inquiry but, due to victims’ families’ outrage, they had to form a Royal Commission. These Commissions commonly drag some palsy Judge out of retirement for a good payday for a new condo in AZ or FL. Presently that Commission is trying to renew the evidence burial.
        This very reflective of police incompetence in Ottawa in dealing with Bouncy Castles, hot tubs, pizza amongst other dangers to democracy.
        Any fair Canadian would ask about the mass murder of 22 Canadians, why the delay? What is going on? 22 murders no concern but Bouncy Castles, call out the Mounties! Another Emergency!

        “Billionaires, philanthropists, socialites . . . victims. Barry and Honey Sherman appeared to lead charmed lives. But the world was shocked in late 2017 when their bodies were found in a bizarre tableau in their elegant Toronto home. First described as murder-suicide — belts looped around their necks, they were found seated beside their basement swimming pool — police later ruled it a staged, targeted double murder. Nothing about the case made sense to friends of the founder of one of the world’s largest generic pharmaceutical firms and his wife, a powerhouse in Canada’s charity world. Together, their wealth has been estimated at well over $4.7 billion.”

        Sherman also had interest in Hydroxychloroquine and also had been a fundraiser for Chief Injector Trudeau and the Liberal Party of Canada.

        Just two examples of the rot under the well swept Canadian rug. Supreme Court of Canada soon to do more sweeping for the Chief Injector and his pals at the WEF.

    5. Jonathan Holland Becnel


      They’re all wishy washy establishment hacks.

      Any popular uprising without violence is to be encouraged against these Monsters of the Mundane.

      And YES their politics is BORING.

    6. m

      In all of their press conferences they asked that the vaccine mandates be lifted. The crowds at protest were mixed, video proof is all over the alt sites because they are banned everywhere else. In fact the government is contacted the live streamers and “asking” them to pull their vids & stop streaming.

  14. Basil Pesto

    There was talk that a concert in Puerto Rico was an outdoor superspreader but details on the outdoor/indoor dynamics are a little bit thin. I remember Bar Yam cited it at the time as an example of outdoor transmission. there may have been some interstitial space between the outside of the stadium and the part of the stadium where the performance took place that was indoors? or maybe festivities afterwards? idk

    anecdotally, at a festival on New Years Day here (which I bought a ticket to pre-Omicron but ended up selling), I heard that those attendees in the more dense, exuberant part of the dancefloor were very prone to infection – those at the periphery, less so. Whether this counted as a superspreader or not I don’t know, because we gave up on contact tracing.

    1. GM

      There was a very nice short clip of two soccer players sitting at the bench a month ago in the cold weather and discussing something. I can’t find it now unfortunately, but it was the best illustration I have seen so far — one of them was releasing a large stream of water vapor from his mouth, which, because the weather was cold, was visible to everyone. and it reached all the way to and past the face of the other.

      This would be a transmission event if one of them had been infected — they were close enough to be in each other’s aerosol clouds. Doesn’t matter it’s outdoors.

      All it takes is a whiff at this point with Delta and Omicron.

      And if you have a large dense crowd that is continuously mixing, a few infected people can do a lot of damage.

      1. AW

        Here is a nice image that gives an idea of the kind of numbers involved. According to wiki, the human lung contains between 300 and 500 million alveoli, each of which might contain one or more infected cells. A plausible model for aerosol generation is presented by Johnson and Morawska. (This is the non-open access version; the open-access version doesn’t have diagrams. Basically, during exhalation the bronchioles constrict and a fluid film can form which breaks during inhalation when the bronchioles dilate, thus forming aerosols much like those formed when a soap bubble pops.) So even if one in a thousand cells is infected (I have no idea if this is reasonable), there could be up to a million such events for each breathing cycle, each time releasing some of those little golden blobs so beautifully illustrated in the micrograph from NIAID. Statistically there is unlikely to be any virus-free air on the planet where there are also humans.

      2. Basil Pesto

        Yes I remember exactly the clip, I think it was an NFL game actually.

        Now I feel a bit stupid because I have been risking drinking outdoors in slightly crowded bars lately :<

      3. Lambert Strether Post author

        > releasing a large stream of water vapor from his mouth, which, because the weather was cold, was visible to everyone. and it reached all the way to and past the face of the other.

        Exactly like that video I posted the other day of two deer.

        Blue skying here: If the digital glasses people wanted to provide a real service, they would find a way to make aerosol clouds like that visible in all weathers. Is this possible?

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > more dense, exuberant part of the dancefloor were very prone to infection – those at the periphery, less so

      As I keep saying, extroverts are gonna kill us all. (Yes, definitely a high school nerd’s revenge fantasy going on here; I make no apology for the subtext.)

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Thats another great little phrase of yours I’ve been borrowing. A few weeks ago I was talking to a colleague – she is a very quiet and shy person and has some health issues and she was talking about her discomfort with the weakinging of restrictions after omicron. I quoted that to her (not referring to you of course!). She laughed and said she hoped I wouldn’t mind if she would use that on her family and friends. So just maybe it will spread wider.

  15. Wukchumni

    Gooooooood Mooooooorning Fiatnam!

    The Dominoes Theory, was that if you didn’t get delivery within 30 minutes of ordering, they’d throw in crazy bread-in shrink wrapped bundles. There was no way we were ever going to allow this to not happen, as the consequences were just too dire to contemplate.

    We would order via walkie-talkie, and then make ourselves scarce under the jungle canopy, so as to assure that delivery would always be delayed enough, necessity being the mother of intervention.

  16. GM

    I suppose — despite the exemplary cleanliness of our meatpacking operation — an infected loogie could land on packaging, stick, freeze, and thaw on arrival. This seems implausible, and if there’s an epidemological study showing this, nobody has seen it.

    It’s actually not at all implausible, and it is a lot more than loogies that ends up frozen. Workers in the cold chain breathe aerosols and spit droplets all the time so it would be extremely unlikely if the virus has not been deep frozen on countless occasions all around the world.

    Which, BTW, will be a serious problem if we evert get serious about stopping transmission permanently.

    Just as the Chinese are finding out.

    I don’t know how much work you have done with deeply frozen stuff, but when you pull out your cryoboxes from the -20C/-80C in the lab, especially the -80C, they are often densely covered with very fine frozen dust. Much of which thaws and eventually evaporates, but quite a bit goes in the air as finely dispersed particles of ice dust when you first pick up the boxes.

    In those massive industrial cold chain operations it is much worse. We are talking huge containers with gigantic amounts of ice, and that ice is cut, hammered, blown, swept, anything you can think of. And that aerosolizes it. So if someone on whatever continent the stuff came from was infected and deposited his virus on it, that virus is now getting in the air on those fine snowflakes, and if the workers on the receiving side are not in full hazmat PPE, they will breathe it in.

    I fully believe the Chinese claims that they are having issues with cold chain transmission for these reasons.

    It looks unlikely to us because we are drowning in an ocean of virus, and mostly nobody knows how they got it, except when it came through school or at some gathering that people know about it. But generally people assume they got it from sharing air with someone else. And indeed that is where it comes from the vast majority of the time. But because there is no contact tracing, the few occasions where it was transmitted through the cold chain, surfaces, etc. never get recorded.

    In China, on the other hand, there is no virus, and incoming travelers are subject to strict quarantine. So first, as a proportion, introduction through the cold chain and surfaces is much more frequent, just because human-to-human transmission has been reduced so much. And it gets traced and recorded in painstaking detail.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Perhaps China will ban the import of frozen food from non-China. Perhaps it will be an accidental start to the abolition of free trade all over the world.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Perhaps China will ban the import of frozen food from non-China

        I have the impression that it’s taking a lot of work to get the Chinese to buy supermarket food (including frozen food), as opposed to fresh food. Further, I would bet frozen food is much more prevalent among urban middle-class people who can afford to own and run refrigerators.

        So I wonder if indeed one day Xi could say: “Frozen food? Who needs it!” That would help rural domestic producers (I don’t think production there is as concentrated as here). As would a general focus on fresh food.

        I’m too lazy to find the statistics on what types of frozen food China imports, but all the anecdotes I can find say it’s fish and meat, and not ice cream. (Working conditions for fish processing are probably about as good as they are for meat-packing — cramped conditions, lots of shouting, cold.) Banning meat import might be politically hard for Xi, especially with the epidemics they keep having with domestic hogs.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > In China, on the other hand, there is no virus, and incoming travelers are subject to strict quarantine. So first, as a proportion, introduction through the cold chain and surfaces is much more frequent, just because human-to-human transmission has been reduced so much. And it gets traced and recorded in painstaking detail.

      It makes sense that a signal from the mechanism you describe would show up in China, since they have reduced so much of the noise with sensible travel policies. I’d still like to see some epidemiology, particularly what happens over a freeze-thaw cycle with the loogies. Perhaps I’ll be able to find some. However, as the South China Morning Post, to which I linked, points out, there doesn’t seem to be any.

      Adding: mRNA vaccines require a cold chain, and IIRC, pharma thought having a much enhanced cold chain for drug distribution was a very fine thing. So, hmmm.

    3. PlutoniumKun

      Thanks for this. I’ve always been very sceptical about Chinese claims about frozen food, because it has always neatly fallen into the Beijing narrative that Covid came in from abroad – or at least is being perpetuated from foreign sources. The initial Chinese claims 18 months or so ago centred around Norwegian farmed salmon, a great favourite with the upper middle classes, and this struck me as very neat and convenient politically, as Xi has been focusing on the claimed degeneracy of these people (when convenient of course). The fondness of Chinese people – not just the newly wealthy – for expensive foreign foods has to some extent undermined the official policy slowly turning to a more autarkic economy (or put another way, they want to export huge quantities, but not import anything, especially products that can’t be reverse engineered). So the ‘frozen food’ source matches perfectly Beijings overall narrative. But of course that doesn’t mean its false, it just means its politically convenient.

      It does make sense that in a very low covid situation, even a low risk from frozen food is still potentially significant. So just maybe the Chinese do know something the rest of the world hasn’t caught on to.

    4. Raymond Sim

      I don’t know how much work you have done with deeply frozen stuff, but when you pull out your cryoboxes from the -20C/-80C in the lab, especially the -80C, they are often densely covered with very fine frozen dust. Much of which thaws and eventually evaporates, but quite a bit goes in the air as finely dispersed particles of ice dust when you first pick up the boxes.

      My wife’s a plant virologist. She’s regarded cold-chain transmission as plausible from the get-go.

  17. LawnDart

    Glenn Kessle tweet:

    Why haven’t there been similar protests against Russia threatening an invasion of Ukraine?

    Because Europe remembers what happened the last time when they sympathized with nazis?

  18. Louis Fyne

    …The vaccine that spreads immunity by passing itself on like a virus:….What could go wrong?….

    We have a new candidate for the Fermi’s Paradox’s “great filter.”

    From the industry and captured regulatory agencies that brought you Vioxx!

    1. Raymond Sim

      I doubt that even half the people I’ve told about these kinds of research proposals have believed me.

      Apparently, if an idea with any establishment backing is insanely stupid enough, our current zeitgeist operates to automatically discredit anyone who might mention it. An autoimmune disorder of the spirit if you will.

  19. Michael Ismoe

    Canada parliament backs Trudeau on emergency powers BBC

    So what’s the point of the NDP? Trudeau may have killed off the truckers and the reason for his minority government at the same time.
    Jack Layton – we hardly knew ye.

  20. Michael Ismoe

    Ukraine-Russia: Germany suspends Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline AP

    Just a coincidence I am sure:
    United States · Natural gas – production
    766.2 Billion cubic meters (2015) · Ranked 1st in the world

    The boys in Texas must have erections this morning.

    1. Louis Fyne

      in a rational world, instead of subsidizing $50,000 electric cars, take that pot of money and give as many discount/free windows and insulation installations as possible on a sliding income scale.

      But such program is unsexy and would mostly benefit ordinary people.

      1. MT_Wild

        Why the means testing?

        Assuming most people on lower end of income scale rent, and their landlords are higher up on the scale. Would their homes not get insulated?

        And there are already some programs that do provide assessments and insulation for lower income individuals. My parents (retired, on SS, but owned their own home) were able to get about $25,000 of free insulation through such a program. But it is probably very limited because of having to have low-income and needing to own your home.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Good point and good question. It is PMC to institute a sliding scale for subsidized installation of insulation, etc. Simply spending the money on total insulation everywhere would cut the PMC middleman out of the project. And the money not spent on PMC sliding-scale engineers and enforcers would be spendable on even more insulation instead.

          If that means the Koch Brothers get their mansions insulated for free, that is the price we pay.
          ( Though the Koch Brothers would oppose it because it would result in less overall spending on their coal, gas and oil. So maybe free insulation for Leonardo di Caprio is a better example.)

    2. Hagar

      The Germans are just suspending the project to mollify the State Department and allow Dementia Joe to stumble into the crisis on his own. When it’s over, unless Biden/Harris cause your vaporization, they’ll just resume the project.

      Now if the Germans were to turn off the valve to Nord Stream One, then we’d know they were serious about supporting the U.S.

      1. Yves Smith

        FWIW, from John Helmer via e-mail:

        The Scholz statements indicate suspension of the certification process, not cancellation — he is buying more time. This is a clear indication that Germany is not committing to the full sanctions list upon and after “invasion”. Not yet. Scholz said: “. Scholz today asked the economy and climate ministry (BMWK) to withdraw the existing analysis of Germany’s supply security. “This may sound technical, but it is the necessary administrative step so that no certification of the pipeline can now take place,” said Scholz. “And without this certification, Nord Stream 2 cannot go into operation.” The report on supply security would now be reworked by the economy ministry. “This will certainly take some time,” said Scholz. The chancellor did not say what conditions would have to be met for the certification process to restart.” Taking into account the chaos of the coalition politics in Berlin, it is not capitulation to the Washington line.

        1. DJG, Reality Czar

          Yves Smith: Thanks for this. It is good to know that the Germans haven’t capitulated, and I suspect that they won’t. So you have the big three of the EU with the Germans buying time, the French trying out other terms, and Italian foreign minister Luigi Di Maio saying things on the order of We’ll just keep negotiating …

          Meanwhile, the Russians have just made a move that was no surprise, and as always, Naked Capitalism was ahead of the news. Some good analysis seems to be the ticket. The Russian border dispute keeps Ukraine out of NATO, just as the border dispute with Georgia keeps that country out of NATO. It isn’t pretty. It isn’t “chess.” Yet it fulfills an objective.

          Meanwhile, in Washington, DC, where the Cuban Embassy has scrambled the brains of much of the Biden regime (using mysterious cricket chirps), rationality dare not show its face.

          So the Germans, French, and Italians are waiting for Americans to stop panicking. The Europeans will have to wait a while. E panicus unum.

          Where is Hillary “Scourge of All the Russia Russias” Clinton when we need her?

  21. The Rev Kev

    “The Mystery of the Declining U.S. Birth Rate”

    Well I’m sure that American women will be having more babies any day now to get that birth rate up again. Just as soon as they pay off their student loans (hopefully before they retire), take time out to conceive a baby between their three part time jobs that have no benefits, can scramble enough money to pay their rent so that they don’t end up homeless on the streets with their new born baby and have enough money saved to cope with being punished financially for having a baby. Note – this is not just an American problem.

    1. Wukchumni

      Don’t baby us!

      My coming out party was just before the advent of the pill, and it only seemed as if every family in my SoCal neighborhood had 4.8 kids on average, i’m sure it was closer to 4.

      I don’t know any families with 4 kids now, not a 1.

    2. Louis Fyne

      on a related note: good luck finding childcare at any price.

      in my neck of the woods, obviously many parents kept their kids out of daycare even when the facilities were exempted from lockdown.

      now (whether rightly or wrongly) with lockdowns/restrictions gone, there are no daycare spots for those kids as many staff have left due to retirement, vaccine mandates and/or better pay somewhere else.

      And daycare capacity was already extremely tight pre-Covid.

      1. ambrit

        And yet, the Programming is so strong in America that no one ever mentions the State Option, Public Daycare Centres.
        I remember hearing from my youngest sister, who went to the same High School as I did a decade before her, that the place, which was and still is considered upper socio-economic status in the regional system, then had a dedicated daycare room for the children of the High School student single mothers! That’s an example of a State Sponsored Daycare system.
        The message is obvious once you step back and look at it from a distance. The wealthy take care of themselves and the poor suffer and die. Society continues to devolve into a Hobbsean “war of all against all.”
        This is not ending well.

    3. Lou Anton

      Bingo. See page 3 in the PDF of final 2020 births data on the right here on the CDC’s births data site – there are only two age cohorts with upward-sloping birth rates: 35-39 and 40-44.

    4. jr

      Allow me to add the existential dread of your children living in what Greer called the Cthulu-cene to your cheery list. Inheritors of a dying world, suspended upon the Cross of Space and Time. When I see kids, including the one’s I love, I don’t get depressed anymore about the future but that’s because I take a view of things that encompasses the flaming $hit-storm that is forming. This too shall pass. There is meaning in the cruelest of suffering. But day-care is going to be tricky…

    5. Paul Jurczak

      Just wait for a impregnation mandates. It’s for the benefit of society. Treat this as a little thought experiment, even though it sounds ridiculous at the first glance.

      1. ambrit

        Hey, the autocrat of Imperial Rome, Caesar Augustus passed a law requiring the equites class males to marry and have children to combat just such a problem. Empires ‘think’ alike I guess.

      2. ACPAL

        With the current laws over-protecting kids who wants to take the chance of going to jail for disciplining their kids. When I was a kid, I’m old now, we’d get our butts beat for lots of reasons, but we learned quickly. I live in Idaho now and tapped the hat of a teenager to get his attention. A local LEO informed me that that was enough to be charged with felony battery of a minor. The laws protecting minors these days are so strict that child raising is not worth the risk. Besides, we no longer need them to help out on the farm.

  22. Wukchumni

    Here’s What We Know So Far About Possible Trucker Convoy Protests Coming To D.C. Soon DCist.

    Truckin’, got my hopes cashed in
    Keep truckin’, as suggested by the Newsmax man
    Together, more or less in line
    Just keep truckin’ on

    Rows of For Rent marquees out on Main Street
    Chicago, New York, Detroit and it’s all on the same street
    Your typical city involved in a typical pandemic daydream
    Hang it up and see what tomorrow brings

    Dallas, got an oil machine
    Houston, nothing like New Orleans
    New York got the ways and means
    But just won’t let you be part of the funds

    Most of the cats that you meet on the street speak of true loathe
    Most of the time, they’re sittin’ and cryin’ at home
    One of these days they know they better be goin’
    Out of the door and down to the street all alone

    Truckin’, the Fox man once told me
    “You’ve got to play your hand”
    Sometimes the cards ain’t worth a dime
    If you don’t lay ’em down

    Sometimes the TV light’s all shinin’ on me
    Other times, I can barely see
    Lately, it occurs to me
    What a long, strange trip it’s been

  23. Jason Boxman

    The Long Crusade of Clarence and Ginni Thomas

    This seems inspired by Jan 6 involvement, but these people are overtly corrupt, so the Times is at least shining a spotlight in the right place.

    The reporting uncovered new details on the Thomases’ ascent: how Trump courted Justice Thomas; how Ginni Thomas used that courtship to gain access to the Oval Office, where her insistent policy and personnel suggestions so aggravated aides that one called her a “wrecking ball” while others put together an opposition-research-style report on her that was obtained by The Times; and the extent to which Justice Thomas flouted judicial-ethics guidance by participating in events hosted by conservative organizations with matters before the court. Those organizations showered the couple with accolades and, in at least one case, used their appearances to attract event fees, donations and new members.

    The Supreme Court has been a disgrace since at least Bush v. Gore. Thomas has taken open corruption even further than that, particularly with his wife’s involvement in Citizens’ United. US-style democracy is in a terminal state.

  24. The Rev Kev

    “When Boring People Turn Dangerous: Canada’s Insane Power Grab (excerpt)”

    ‘Matt Taibbi, TK News. Final sentence: “[I]t’s like waking up to learn the cast of The Office has declared the Fourth Reich.’

    First solid laugh that I had today. Looking at that Chrystia Freeland video clip, it was like watching Kamala Harris – but without the cackle. I have read up on her before and you read her background on Wikipedia and you can see that she was (is?) an operative for the intelligence services from way back. The old KBG tagged her with the code name “Frida” because of her Ukrainian activities. ‘By the time her activism within Ukraine came to an end, Freeland had become the subject of a high level case study from the KGB on how much damage a single determined individual could inflict on the Soviet Union.’ Therefore I would say that she is still in the political establishment but now working against Canadians. And you certainly do not want to ask her what her grandfather was doing in WW2-,_education_and_student_activism_(1968%E2%80%931993)

    1. Wukchumni

      UFC #86

      Kamala ‘the Cackle’ Harris versus Chrystia ‘Chicken Little Kyiv’ Freeland

      2 word salad specialists go into the octagon, one comes out tossed in Russian dressing.

      $39.95 PPV
      $49.95 PPV HD

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > the World Economic Forum (WEF) Young Global Leaders club

        Thanks for this link. Given Freedland’s nature, I expected that the WEF Young Global Leaders club would be exceptionally nasty. I was not disappointed. Setting to “All,” “North America” here are the first hits:

        What was surprising to me, scanning the rest of the page, is how many of these “young leaders” were in NGOs. NGOs are a very important sort of connective tissue…..

        UPDATE Adding because I had to go look:

        Cambridge Industries is “a holistic waste management and renewable energy generation company” with projects throughout Africa. Our experience in Maine was that waste-to-energy is a scam. Sucked up enormous government money while not burning waste efficiently — which is hard to do — and also polluting the air.

        AI Media is “a vertically integrated media technology company that can serve all your needs in captioning, transcription and translation.” I don’t know what’s nasty about that, but I’m sure there’s something….

    2. Sub-Boreal

      When I read that piece yesterday, I couldn’t decide whether Matt (a) just didn’t know about CF’s grandpa, or (b) was showing an amazing amount of self-restraint by not using what would have been a cherry on top.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > was showing an amazing amount of self-restraint by not using what would have been a cherry on top.

        I’m sure it was self-restraint; Taibbi knows these people.

  25. cocomaan

    I read Agamben’s book about the pandemic. He’s always had a lot of good things to say about the problem of the executive in Western democracies.

    When the author says:

    Most puzzling to me was Agamben’s failure to see the obvious difference between the Nazi regime, which aimed to exterminate life, and the pandemic measures that were aimed at saving it.

    Having read Agamben’s book, he’s not unaware of the differences between Nazis and people that aren’t Nazis. He brought up Eichmann because Eichmann was the perfect example of someone that works within a bureaucracy using a peculiar moral code of conformism while also doing horrific things.

    I’m just glad that Agamben wasn’t willing to sit down and say that lockdowns are an unequivocal good perfectly designed to save lives. Because society is not better off post-lockdowns in any way shape or form.

    1. Basil Pesto

      Because society is not better off post-lockdowns in any way shape or form.

      To what are you referring? Very few societies have correctly executed “lockdown” (really a synonym for competent TTIQ). Instead it’s been a series of doomed-to-fail quarter- and half- measures due to a desire to not overly interrupt the political-economic (‘neoliberal’) status quo.

      The two obvious exceptions are:

      1) China, where life has been normal except in those regions that snap with alacrity for a relatively brief period (4-6 weeks) into acute TTIQ to control the problem and prevent millions of sick and dead (that seems like a good definition of “better off” to me). Thing is, ‘normal’ Chinese life doesn’t appeal to most of us for whatever reason.

      2) Australia, particularly Victoria. The true ‘lockdown’ here in 2020 was successful at eliminating the virus and society was unquestionably better off in every respect afterwards, except for a few specific industries who lobbied against it. Life was pretty much 2019 normal, we enjoyed a normal 2020 Christmas with free interstate travel (except for North Sydney) but without the sword of damocles of SARS2 constantly dangling over our heads. The 2021 lockdown had different objectives: buying time to vaccinate the population so we could Let Er Rip, a doomed-to-fail strategy and we are now unambiguously worse off because of it.

      I’ve applied the Eichmann construction, following Arendt, repeatedly in this pandemic; it’s really very easy to do so: The Monica Ghandis, the Leana Wens, the Nick Coatsworths, the Messieurs Homais; the people who would happily bound over a mountain of corpses if they thought there was a shiny medal waiting for them at the summit. Those calling for functional and proven TTIQ to solve the problem and get back to normal, free life*? It ain’t them.

      * yes I know life wasn’t great/perfect/normal for a lot of people pre-pandemic. Now it gets to be worse! Hooray!

    2. jimmy cc

      thank the gods for my freedom to be sick.

      the freedom to catch an infection isn’t the freedoms i am looking for.

      the freedom to pay retial prices for my health care is also another freedom i am not keen on.

  26. PHLDenizen

    RE: Trudeau

    We will never, ever, ever see anything remotely resembling transparency regarding the denial of financial services in Canada, but I AM curious to see if it ensnares those working in healthcare and similarly vital professions. If a cardiothoracic surgeon, scrub nurse, echo tech, etc. happens to be related to a blockade enthusiast, then what? Are they going to encounter difficulties engaging financial services? What if the physician — himself or herself a blockade sympathizer, having sent a donation or shown up with material support such as food and water — charged with delivering your child is now rendered functionally insolvent? And if this shows up domestically?

    I also suspect this is going to be the Dem playbook to “win” their elections. AOC is on-board, clearly. Assuming she speaks for her “lefty” peers, absolutely none of them have any compunction about utilizing any and all unconstitutional and immoral means to defeat their opposition. AOC, etc. are all shit for brains at this point, having whatever mediocre intelligence they possessed scooped out and replaced with authoritarian manure. Identity politics are a form of authoritarianism, as is TDS. She’s not even clever enough to realize that leaving platforms like Rogan and Alex Jones up and running gives the MIC a honeypot for rounding up the “enemies of Democracy”.

    Trump’s new social network is a gift to the Dems, as guilt by association will be enough to create a shadow blacklist of deplorables, all of whom will be purged from voter rolls like felons. “Clerical error” will be the official rationale. Donating to Trump or Trump-adjacent candidates will find you encountering more “clerical errors” interfacing with banking services.

    Deplorables, in my estimation, are also fond of cash transactions and civil asset forfeiture exists as a framework to rob them of money they’d use to supply or encourage the Dem opposition.

    Listening to certain Rogan podcasts, hitting certain websites like NC or Caitlin Johnstone or Taibbi or Greenwald? Give money to Assange’s defense fund in the past? Donate to Steve Donziger? It’s not hard to see the lunatic neoliberals contort that into treasonous conduct.

    I would have laughed at any of my own above sentiments in the past, but there’s enough proof at this point to consider them even slightly plausible.

  27. dcrane

    Yesterday in comments Yves replied to suggest that GSK’s monoclonal doesn’t work against the newer Omicron variant, but the makers of the drug appear to say otherwise. I put a reply in on yesterday’s links but it seems important enough to make sure others see it here in today’s list:

    “A Covid-19 antibody treatment developed by Vir Biotechnology and GlaxoSmithKline is still capable of neutralizing the infectious omicron subvariant, BA.2, Vir announced Thursday, ”

    Vir chief executive George Scangos said the data supports the continued use of sotrovimab against Covid and suggests a standard dose of the therapy is “sufficient to retain activity against the BA.2 variant.”

    1. Yves Smith

      This is thread-jacking, to put a comment on an unrelated thread.

      Second, a comment from a Pharma press release? Seriously?

      By contrast, from GM:

      There were a couple preprints showing escape of BA.2 from sotrovimab

      So at best this is disputed, 2 studies v. the company’s own research.

      1. dcrane

        Sorry. Since Links is so general it didn’t occur to me (I thought it would be generally appreciated). Won’t make that mistake again.

        A press release is the best we have unless someone wants to post a published rebuttal. You mention two preprints but give no links (I don’t know what you mean by the initials GM). I treat claims that the mononclonal *doesn’t* work with the same initial skepticism, because there is so much institutional pressure against covid treatments. Think about what happened with that fraudulent paper published to nuke hydroxychloroquine.

        1. Yves Smith

          Not even remotely comparable. Hydroxychloroquine is a cheap generic. You take it in pill form.

          Monoclonal antibodies are hugely expensive and have to be administered by IV. The incentives for the medical industrial complex are to push costly treatments.

  28. Wukchumni

    The Chinese are really into numerology, and 2 means ‘easy’ and what would 2-22-22 portend?

    Major Major Major Major Easy

    That’s when i’d tell Putin to do his thing, if I was Xi.

  29. Mikel

    “The vaccine that spreads immunity by passing itself on like a virus: Researchers investigate potential for self-spreading, needle-less inoculations in wake of Covid pandemic” Daily Mail. NIH-funded research into transmissible vaccines. What could go wrong?

    It’s worse because most people only consider the serious issues of all of these experiments in isolation from each other.
    Think of it as a toxic stew.
    Think of this insanity with Merck’s cell mutation replication pills and the current ongoing mass experiment.

    This is the hubris that has been spawned from current “vaccine” related policy.

    100% chance of a more out control health crisis. I’d give it less than 10 years.

  30. jr

    When is an invasion an invasion? When it’s an invasion, of course!

    Well, maybe it’s just a preliminary invasion.



    Quantum manifold super-positioned invasion that has/hasn’t will/won’t happen/not happen?

    “ Jon Finer, the principal deputy national security adviser, said Tuesday: “We think this is, yes, the beginning of an invasion, Russia’s latest invasion into Ukraine.” He said “latest” was important — “an invasion is an invasion and that is what is under way.”


  31. Mikel

    “I’d add, given that this rot extends beyond Credit Suisse to UBS and undoubtably further, “How many rogue bankes do you need to have before you start having a rogue banking system?”

    How many before you START having? Ha! That’s the problem right there. That kind of dazed denial.

    A better question:
    How long do you keep making excuses for a rogue banking system that is right in your face corrupt …decade after decade?

  32. Carolinian

    Chris Arnade in Jacksonville–His downer attempt to walk across a car city may have something to do with size. Here in my little town (pop roughly 50k) they are currently building a bike/walk trail system that will go all over the city. However from city center to city limits about five miles in any direction so not that’s much of an ask.

    But even as a kid I rode my bike all over the county including once to a 30 mile away sister city (can’t believe my parents let me do this). The roads now are often about the same size. It’s the number of cars that has changed. If you include our county as a whole then the population has grown tremendously. In a couple of more decades we’ll be Atlanta if not Manhattan.

    Walking trails may not be enough.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > But even as a kid I rode my bike all over the county

      Me too. I rode my bike everywhere, around town and out in the country. Sometimes with friends. I don’t think kids do that anymore, which is a shame.

  33. Tom Stone

    Peering myopically at the future it appears that the approach to dealing with Covid in the USA will continue to be depraved indifference.
    “To constitute depraved indifference one’s conduct must be so wanton,so deficient in a moral sense of concern,so lacking in the regard for the life or lives of others, and so blameworthy as to warrant the same criminal liability as that which the Law imposes upon a person who intentionally causes a crime.”
    Nearly a Million dead already.
    If things go very well we’re looking at an average of 100,000 deaths every year from Covid and an unknowable but larger number crippled for life.
    Every year for 5 years or longer.
    IF things go very well.

    1. Raymond Sim

      Peering myopically at the future …

      Me too. I’ve been trying to learn a bit about nonlinear dynamics. My brain is really not up to this kind of work anymore, and under the circumstances, it’s a joyless task.

      “Depraved” is indeed how the shape of our future is looking to me.

      I don’t think we necessarily even need any new variants for the pandemic to now become even more disruptive and destructive than it already has been. I wonder how many people are aware that this could even hypothetically be possible?

  34. Mildred Montana

    >Don Martin: An emergency about nothing as tow trucks become the excuse to act CTV News

    From the article: “He [Trudeau] imposed a vaccine restriction on truckers without a medical reason to justify it. He dismissed the many who are fed up with restrictions and vaccine mandates as a “fringe.” He went invisible and silent as the protests escalated…”

    And that’s leadership, Trudeau-style. He’s not fit to be the head of his current coalition government, let alone Prime Minister with a majority in the House of Commons.

    He so desperately wants that majority that he will do anything to get votes, even it means threatening cross-border truckers with job loss if they don’t get vaccinated. (Memo to Justin: ~90% of them are.) God forbid that he gets it, for in the Canadian political system the leader of the party with a clear majority becomes a de facto dictator for four years (due to party solidarity and the power of the Prime Minister’s Office). Trudeau the bully, liar, dodger, vote-scrounger, Quebec-panderer—and dictator too? No thank you.

    And his enabler-in-chief Jagmeet Singh? A shameless fence-sitter too much enjoying his position as the other part of the ruling coalition with the Liberals, who “reluctantly” (his word) supported the invocation of the Emergencies Act. No explanation provided. He might as well have said, “I support it, but I also oppose it.” That’s how much sense he and that word “reluctantly” make.

    1. Michael King

      Some supporters of the NDP are concerned that the party voted to impose The Emergencies Act. However, if they had voted against it the Liberal led minority government would have fallen, leading to the second federal election campaign in five months and third since October/19. IMO, the last thing the country needs at the moment and Singh acted responsibly. The EMA was declared on Feb.14 and expires in thirty days. It also has to pass a Senate vote which could lead to a quicker demise. I do not believe for a second that Trudeau will seek to extend the Act. The response would be mammoth. Trucks? I’ll show you trucks! And a lot more besides. The link is to a piece by Ed Broadbent, the best Prime Minister Canada never had. For the record I’m a lifelong NDP voter.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > I do not believe for a second that Trudeau will seek to extend the Act.

        We’ll see.

        Thanks for the reminder, however, that Canadian politics are not American politics, something we all (including me) would do well to keep in mind.

        I wonder what Chrétien would have done?

  35. Rainlover

    This is the bittersweet story of the collapse of the NHS during one doctor’s time in practice. It reminded me of some of IM Doc’s posts on this site. I’m sure IM Doc could tell a similar tale. Cottage hospitals, small GP-run neighborhood facilities, sound so wonderful. The NHS was a marvelous institution in its early days. Caring for the whole human being in the context of their life has gone out of fashion. The collapse of medical care in “first world” countries is appalling.

      1. JBird4049

        For this American, even the current state of the NHS is better than anything that I have ever had. Doctor’s visits. At where I live? Sometimes on the same day??? The whole system seems more of a delirious fantasy than any dream.

        I am having to wait more than a month for an appointment with the community clinic so that someone can authorize the repair of my hearing aid. “They” want to make sure that nobody is getting something that they should not have. Whatever that might be. On the repair of complex electronics hanging off the side of my head exposed to everything for a man who was diagnosed as being hard of hearing in 1972.

        Not that this is causing any problems with going to class or anything. Who needs to hear for that?

        To anyone using the NHS do not let the government destroy it anymore. It would be an insanely foolish act.

  36. Frank Little

    Perhaps unsurprising given the venue and author (“deputy director of the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security”), but that article in Foreign Policy about how the US must prepare for war with Russia and China is really something, and not in a good way. Among other things, it’s an almost an exact rephrasing of arguments that US National Security experts have been making since the US ascended to its preeminent global position at the end of WW2.

    On Russia:

    Putin has shown a clear interest in resurrecting the former Russian Empire, and other vulnerable Eastern European countries—Poland, Romania, or the Baltic states—might be next. A successful Russian incursion into a NATO ally’s territory could mean the end of the Western alliance and the credibility of U.S. security commitments globally.

    The notion that Russia/the USSR (the two are often conflated in US documents) is inherently offensive is consistently contrasted against the supposedly defensive US posture throughout US official policy and intelligence documents. If you read Kennan’s Long Telegram or look at the infamous Team B reports, they make essentially the same argument, though not everyone in that tiny world was in agreement on the specifics. The US and NATO spent lots of time and money developing weapons to deter the supposed threat of Soviet land invasion. Not only did the USSR never undertake such an invasion, but it also dissolved without ever firing any of its nuclear weapons. Some may say this is evidence of an effective deterrent, but with the benefit of hindsight, especially regarding the internal issues in the USSR at the time, making this this argument today is analogous to selling elephant repellant.

    On China:

    The threat posed by China is also serious. Adm. Philip Davidson, former commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, predicted China could invade Taiwan within the next six years. This is a war the United States might lose. If China succeeds in taking Taiwan, it would be well on its way to disrupting the U.S.-led order in Asia, with an eye to doing the same globally.

    “Might”? That’s one way of putting it. Articles like this should have to explain in detail what “winning” looks like because from my ant’s eye view there can be no victories, only defeats of different scale and over different time frames. Furthermore, “disrupting the US-led order in Asia” sounds an awful lot like that domino theory that was used to justify war in Vietnam. Does anyone consider Vietnam a U.S. victory?

    Pouring this old wine into new bottles is the result of continued US insistence that even its most overtly aggressive acts are always being done as part of a defensive strategy even as its military and political influence has continually expanded. From new missile and bomber programs to outright invasions, the emphasis is always on how US actions are being prompted from external threats. Certainly lots of military actions have been justified in this way throughout history, but the breathless repetition of these ideas shows how US rhetoric never really deviates from a standard formula even as US power around the world has only expanded, often the result of military, economic, or political pressure from the US itself.

    The article closes with an absurd comparison between the US fighting both Germany and Japan in World War II with the need to fight both Russia and China. The current warming relations between Russia and China are a far cry from the Axis powers given that Germany and Japan formal allies via the Anti-Comintern Pact of 1936. Furthermore, neither Russia nor China have committed overt military aggression against the US of the kind that precipitated our entry into World War 2. That this kind of argument is being published in 2022 shows the zombie mindset considered “expertise” in the heart of US empire.

    1. Maxwell Johnston

      The article is unhinged and delusional. Mein Gott. But the author is far from alone; I imagine his viewpoint matches that of most of The Blob. Scary, when you consider that roughly half of all deaths in WW2 were suffered by China and the USSR. I don’t think the USA’s foreign policy elites have any idea what they might be getting their citizens involved in. Or they just don’t care.

      1. ArvidMartensen

        I thought it was unconscionable and petty of Obama not to send a US representative to the Russian Anniversary of the WWII victory in 2016, given that the Russians were an ally with the UK and US in helping to defeat Hitler. Oh, and they lost millions of Russian people in the war.
        But many US business leaders of the 1930s/40s were lukewarm at best about defeating Hitler, who they saw as a fellow anti-communist.
        And of course, the efficiency of the Holocaust was due to good ole American know-how, provided by IBM
        The Russians found out during WWII that, even then, the Americans and British were not “agreement capable”. Nothing has changed in that respect, but where once the US got away with lying and cheating in international affairs, now perhaps they are meeting their match.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > The article closes with an absurd comparison between the US fighting both Germany and Japan in World War II with the need to fight both Russia and China.

      The United States then is not the United States now.

      Adding, the authors of the article are as crazy as s**t-house rats. That’s why I picked it!

      1. Frank Little

        Totally agree! Bad as the contents were, I appreciate you adding it because I’ve been reading about US strategy and policy in the immediate aftermath of WW2 recently and even though as you say we’re a very different country, the script sounds awfully familiar.

  37. Wukchumni

    Trump’s new social media app launches on iOS The Verge. Signup failed for me.
    The Devin is in the details…

    I’m gonna miss him, who really should’ve been my Congressman, but I ended up getting gerrymandered with Kevin, and by the way, DON’T mess with Devin!

    Trump’s social media platform dedicated to free speech appears to have already banned account satirising Devin Nunes

    1. Late Introvert

      His despicable family lives in Steve King territory now, where livestock outnumbers humans ~30 to 1.

      1. Late Introvert

        Chris Jones, the great Iowa State University Water-Quality Monitoring and Research guy is back on line. I was worried he got canceled after a state legislator complained about him. This is from a speech he gave in front of the the pharmers from Dow Chemical.

        I’m glad I gave up on meat 30+ years ago, it’s not just gross, it’s killing Iowa. The corn and soy goes to animal feed, ethanol, and corn syrup. Yum!

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Chris Jones, the great Iowa State University Water-Quality Monitoring and Research guy is back on line. I was worried he got canceled after a state legislator complained about him. This is from a speech he gave in front of the the pharmers from Dow Chemical.

          Good news! He has also resigned his site; I liked the 1995 look better tbh

          1. Late Introvert

            Agree that it’s a bad design, but no doubt it was imposed on him from the administrators whose credibility you have helped to destroy over the years.

            It’s telling that they completely erased his old website. ISU, what can I say? I attended as a freshman and it didn’t go well.

  38. Raymond Sim

    Regarding frozen food and fomites: What becomes of respiratory aerosols in atmospheric conditions typical of packing houses and factory ships?

    I’d be amazed if it could turn fish sticks to fomites, but deposition of aerosols strikes me as a plausible cause for positive tests from packaging.

    I should be careful what I say, some sort of of Betteridgesque rule seens to apply to me saying “I’d be amazed, but …” concerning anything related to Covid.

    1. Skunk

      I’ve wondered if sublimation of dry ice or other materials in the cold chain could play a role in transmission from frozen food. Can virus be inhaled as gases are released during the unpacking process for frozen food?

  39. BondsOfSteel

    RE: The Mystery of the Declining U.S. Birth Rate

    Hmm. It seems pretty obvious that the ACA which provided no cost birth control to all made a huge difference. Pre-2009 it was mostly out of pocket even if you had health insurance… which a lot of people didn’t have.

    Thanks Obama.

    1. jrs

      Thanks Obama is usually used sarcastically. But how is this not a good thing? So maybe “thanks Obama” said with all sincerity? Of course it misses people without insurance.

      One can say birth control was somewhat available regardless via Planned Parenthood, but the U.S. system was so messed up it skewed the birth control options available (Europe had widespread use of IUDs but they were too expensive to be in wide use in the U.S). I mean radically different birth control choices were being made, not out of preference, but finances. The ACA improved that.

  40. jr

    re: graph of masking v. business as usual

    We all know that that image, a map of human stupidity, is sitting on the desk of Galactic Federation’s wildlife warden for this sector. I imagine that entity sighing, eyes rolling back in their stalks, and tiredly addressing his subordinates about those suicidal chimps yet again. Fumigation and the installment of another sentient species is suggested and, after a few seconds hesitation, denied. Humanity is spared by the “sunken-cost” fallacy.

    I do hope the basil ganglia in-densification breeding program begins to pick up steam. We need more human Mark 2’s but without the genocides, slavery, and probably cannibalism that would erupt if we tried to swing it ourselves. Then, as the Mark 2 model becomes preeminent, people will begin to reincarnate into the advanced designs. No one get’s left behind! In the fullness of time, when everyone’s basil ganglia is the size of an apricot and we can read the patterns of the Language of Creation like the Sunday funnies we can get rid of the horrors that have plagued humanity: disease, war, hunger, Billy Joel, toxic waste, etc.

    I think NC has a role to play here: a dating site! It has to be better than that romantic Golgotha OKStupid or the Plenty of Risk site that once paired me with a violent cokehead who cheerfully described beating up a man that had stolen her pack of cigarettes! We can award each other badges for the “Oh No!” Joe name game and “most sentience-like” Blinken impersonations or who can guess how many pedo-priests are hiding under Kamala Hapless’s skirts?

  41. Robin Kash

    Regarding declining birth rates:
    ” But something changed around the time of the Great Recession; the birth rate fell precipitously, and it did not recover when the economy improved.”
    Has the economy “improved?” I keep reading about growing inequality, well underway before 2007-08, accelerating afterward.
    Those in the older cohorts, 35-39, 40-44, who are showing an upward swing in birthing (as noted above) may well have established themselves in the own careers or with partners as to be relatively less affected by the precariat-creating economic ditch that seems to keep deepening.

  42. whatmeworry

    “The vaccine that spreads immunity by passing itself on like a virus: Researchers investigate potential for self-spreading, needle-less inoculations in wake of Covid pandemic”

    Code name: Omicron

  43. flora

    Thanks for the realignment set of links. They together show the larger political scope of what’s happening. I think that’s important.

  44. lance ringquist

    i not only predicted this, today i am completely vindicated.

    Shipping Fuel Costs: The Unseen Enemy In The Fight Against Inflation

    yes yes nafta billy clintons free trade has destroyed the environment, destroyed the wages of working people, and is now creating out of control inflation, just as i predicted.


    any extra added money into the system, will just be bleed away by wall street and the chinese communist party, leaving america mired deep in inflation, dropping wages, increasing debts.
    Shipping Fuel Costs: The Unseen Enemy In The Fight Against Inflation
    Tue, February 22, 2022, 5:00 PM

    Bunker prices are on the rise. This is not news in itself: it would have been surprising if the price of one oil derivative was down when the prices of all others were up. Yet it is becoming a cause for concern as higher bunker costs push maritime transport costs higher.

    With much of global trade relying precisely on maritime transport, higher prices are adding to already substantial inflationary pressures. And there doesn’t seem to be light at the end of this tunnel…

  45. Ed Miller

    CreditSuisse and Cory Doctorow thread

    Key point missed here: “Sunshine isn’t doing any disinfecting at all”

    No, the point is there is no longer any real sunshine. Global finance runs everything into the ground and they control all national media sources. They will never let the sunshine expose their own corrupt business tactics.

  46. Skunk

    When I saw the link to news of Paul Farmer’s death, I thought I would see more comments on this page. A lot of times on NC I see posts lamenting corporate medicine. Paul Farmer was the antithesis of corporate medicine. I highly recommend his books for those who haven’t read them. His observations are truly unforgettable.

Comments are closed.