Links 5/13/2022

Lambert and I, and many readers, agree that Ukraine has prompted the worst informational environment ever. We hope readers will collaborate in mitigating the fog of war — both real fog and stage fog — in comments. None of us need more cheerleading and link-free repetition of memes; there are platforms for that. Low-value, link-free pom pom-wavers will be summarily whacked.

And for those who are new here, this is not a mere polite request. We have written site Policies and those who comment have accepted those terms. To prevent having to resort to the nuclear option of shutting comments down entirely until more sanity prevails, as we did during the 2015 Greek bailout negotiations and shortly after the 2020 election, we are going to be ruthless about moderating and blacklisting offenders.

–Yves

P.S. Also, before further stressing our already stressed moderators, read our site policies:

Please do not write us to ask why a comment has not appeared. We do not have the bandwidth to investigate and reply. Using the comments section to complain about moderation decisions/tripwires earns that commenter troll points. Please don’t do it. Those comments will also be removed if we encounter them.

* * *

Water may have been on Mars much more recently than scientists thought, China’s rover suggests Space.com

Black hole at the centre of our Galaxy imaged for the first time Nature (GC54).

Charts, ‘Catharsis’ and the Psychology of Crowds John Authers, Bloomberg

Climate

Investor-state disputes threaten the global green energy transition Science. “The high end of our liability estimate ($340 billion) is more than the total level of public climate finance globally in 2020 ($321 billion) (15). Potential litigation risks are even greater if coal mining and midstream fossil fuel infrastructure are considered. We cannot afford to divert such a substantial amount of public finance from essential mitigation and adaptation efforts to compensate investors in fossil fuels.”

#COVID19

Face masking and COVID-19: potential effects of variolation on transmission dynamics Journal of the Royal Society. From the Abstract: “Face masks do not completely prevent transmission of respiratory infections, but masked individuals are likely to inhale fewer infectious particles. If smaller infectious doses tend to yield milder infections, yet ultimately induce similar levels of immunity, then masking could reduce the prevalence of severe disease even if the total number of infections is unaffected. It has been suggested that this effect of masking is analogous to the pre-vaccination practice of variolation for smallpox, whereby susceptible individuals were intentionally infected with small doses of live virus (and often acquired immunity without severe disease)….. Our results suggest that if variolation is a genuine side-effect of masking, then the importance of face masks as a tool for reducing healthcare burdens from COVID-19 may be under-appreciated.” Interesting argument.

Why some of Biden’s top doctors are wearing masks in “low” COVID areas CBS. So now we’re managing NPIs by emulating the personal risk assessments of science-adjacent celebrities.

* * *

Increased Stability of SARS-CoV-2 Omicron Variant over Ancestral Strain Emerging Infectious Diseases, CDC. The Abstract: “As of April 2022, the Omicron BA.1 variant of concern of SARS-CoV-2 was spreading quickly around the world and outcompeting other circulating strains. We examined its stability on various surfaces and found that this Omicron variant is more stable than its ancestral strain on smooth and porous surfaces.” The authors are all from Hong Kong, so presumably are not CDC droplet goons. Possibly China’s disinfectant spray guns have more science behind them then we thought, and less theatre.

Self-reported long COVID after infection with the Omicron variant in the UK: 6 May 2022 Office for National Statistics. From the Abstract: “There was also no statistical evidence of a difference in risk between first infections compatible with the Delta and Omicron BA.2 variants among triple-vaccinated adults; the socio-demographically adjusted prevalence of self-reported long COVID was 7.4% for Delta and 9.1% for Omicron BA.2.” Oh.

Measuring COVID-19 Effects: Southern Baptists Report 19% Attendance Drop The Roys Report. NPIs ↓ collection plates ↑

China?

China says it will ‘strictly limit’ citizens from going abroad FT. Since the “Let ‘er rip” West has decided to become a reservoir of Covid infection, this seems reasonable.

Weekend Long Read: Why China’s Seniors Hesitate to Get Vaccinated Caixin Global

Older Chinese Are Demanding Money to Get Vaccinated Foreign Policy

Can’t sit still, India is preparing to build the country’s first chip manufacturing plant What China Reads

Taiwan in the Crosshairs Dissent

The Koreas

North Korea reports first Covid-19 death as fever spreads ‘explosively’ Straits Times

South Korea plans to provide COVID vaccine to North Reuters

Was North Korea’s military parade a superspreader event? Channel News Asia

Myanmar

Factoid (1):

Not a sign of strength.

Factoid (2):

India

Can Indonesia’s Humanitarian Islam inspire a Hindu nationalist equivalent? The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer

It’s not the humidity, it’s the heat:

Syraqistan

After 5 Years In U.S., Terrorist Cell Too Complacent To Carry Out Attack The Onion

South Africa’s COVID-19 spike intensifies Center for Infectious Disease and Policy. “Since April, South Africa has detected mostly the BA.2 Omicron subvariant, but also rising numbers of more transmissible BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants, which officials said is concerning, due to concerns about potential immune escape. Alongside the subvariants, relaxed social measures are also fueling the surge.”

Sudanese protests against military rule persist Maravi Post

UK/EU

Downing Street is the most fined address in the country for Covid breaches The Telegraph. 100 fines for “Partygate.” And to change the subject–

Boris Johnson ‘considering up to 90,000 job cuts’ in civil service ITV. Wrecking crew? Explainer on civil service staffing numbers.

EU Ready to Suspend Trade Deal If UK Revokes NI Protocol Bloomberg but Liz Truss’s plan to revoke NI protocol ‘splits allies and risks trade war’ Guardian

US congress delegation to fly to London as Northern Ireland protocol concerns grow Guardian

New Not-So-Cold War

America Must Embrace the Goal of Ukrainian Victory Alexander Vindman, Foreign Affairs

We Must Make Sure Russia Finishes This War in a Worse Position Than Before Nigel Gould-Davies, NYT (Re Silc).

Why Biden’s Anti-Putin Democracy Crusade Is Failing Foreign Policy

Ukraine calls for reconstruction plan as war hits stalemate Axios

Senator Rand Paul single-handedly holds up $40bn US aid for Ukraine Guardian. The deck: “Democratic and Republican Senate leaders both supported package but Paul objected to scale of spending.” The deck is deceptive. Eleven paragraphs in we learn that the issue is not scale at all: “Paul is demanding that the legislation be altered to require an inspector general to oversee spending on Ukraine.” No inspector general already? Why, one wonders, would that be? It’s not like Ukraine lacks form.

“Moles in the dark”: survival and escape from the Mariupol steelworks Reuters

Ruble Surpasses Brazil’s Real as Year’s Best-Performing Currency Bloomberg. Hilarity ensues.

Biden Administration

Biden welcomes leaders of Southeast Asian nations for special ASEAN summit NPR and Biden hosts Asean leaders at White House, announces $209 million of programmes Straits Times. Original reported figure was $150 million, pretty cheesy put beside the money we’re shoveling at Ukraine. Former Singaporean diplomat Bilahari Kausikan:

KAUSIKAN: I was in the U.S. last August when Afghanistan happened, right? And I was specifically asked by American interlocutors, what does this mean? Are we reliable? Do you consider us reliable? And my reply has always been very simple. I have never considered you very reliable, but you are indispensable. And so the question of your reliability is moot. And that is pretty much the situation today.

Supply Chain

Weak links in finance and supply chains are easily weaponized Nature

* * *

Global wheat crop set to fall for first time in four years, US forecasts FT

Production, logistical concerns cast shadow over India’s wheat export potential Hellenic Shipping News

Southeast Asia must close yield gap to remain a major rice bowl Phys.org

What are millets and can they help create global food security? Deutsche Welle

Shortages

Baby Formula Shortage Could Leave Parents Scrambling for Months WSJ

Europe Faces Shortfall of Key Gasoline Input on Russian Slump Bloomberg

Sports Desk

Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike won’t run Preakness ESPN

The Bezzle

Crypto industry shaken as Tether’s dollar peg snaps FT. “Weaknesses in our approach”:

Why the market crash could be good for crypto Izabella Kaminska, Unherd

The Cryptocurrency Crash Is Replaying 2008 as Absurdly as Possible Foreign Policy

Coinbase Customers Sue Over Stablecoin That Was ‘Anything But’ Bloomberg

Scientists discover eyes from organ donors can be brought back to life in breakthrough that questions whether death is ‘truly irreversible’ Daily Mail

Antidote du jour (via):

Bonus antidote:

See yesterday’s Antidote du Jour and Links 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.

218 comments

  1. jr

    Linda Blade, Canadian sports scientist and coach, on the duplicity of the IOC regarding male cosplay athletes in women’s sports:

    https://youtu.be/aZZcJLuYvCk

    No women’s sports associations were consulted by the IOC in their decision making process concerning men in women’s events. Yet another reason the Olympics must go away.

    Reply
    1. Glossolalia

      Would anyone in women’s sports speak out anyway? That’s a sure way to get yourself promptly cancelled.

      Reply
    2. Dollypartonsdriver

      It’s willfully disrespectful to call trans women “men” in this context. I understand that you disagree with decisions around sex, gender, and sporting regulations. That is its own conversation. But trans people are a reality in our world and contributors to our society and deserve to be recognized. As a trans person and long time reader/participant of this site, it was a bummer to see this language at the top of today’s links.

      Reply
      1. Elsie

        Thank you. As a fellow trans person and long time reader it’s disheartening to see these kind of remarks. Not all trans people follow the kind of politics jr discusses frequently. It’s quite sad to see this attitude. I’ve read Jr’s comments for years and enjoy the non antitrans ones. I, and all the trans folk I know just want to be treated as citizens just like everyone else.

        Reply
        1. LawnDart

          Dollypartonsdriver and Elsie, I’ve been around for a while and I have never seen you guys here.

          Honestly, I really don’t give a damn about trans-stuff one way or the other– we got way bigger issues in a country where mothers can’t feed their babies, where inflation is sending people to live in the streets, living under the threats of nuclear holocaust and unpredictable climate change… …Get over yourselves.

          You do you and we’ll do we.

          Reply
          1. Ander P

            Do you have any idea the rate at which trans women are murdered, in the US or in day, Colombia?

            If you’re a trans person, or someone who values the life of one or more trans people, you give a shit about transphobia.

            I value the lives of infants so I care about the baby powder shortage, I value the lives of coast dwelling people so I care about sea level rise, and I care about the lives of trans people so when they express their grievances I don’t tell them “Get over yourselves”

            Reply
            1. flora

              Do you have any idea how many women are murdered each day? (Sounds like an attempt to change the subject. ) Keeping trans women out of girls’ and women’s sports has nothing to do with phobias.

              Reply
              1. Ander P

                “Do you have any idea how many women are murdered each day?”
                In the US black and brown trans women are killed at higher rates than black and brown men or black and brown women. Bringing that up in a conversation about whether or not trans people should ‘Get Over Yourselves” is only ‘changing the subject’ if it is a fact that you want to avoid.

                “Keeping trans women out of girls’ and women’s sports has nothing to do with phobias.”
                I disagree, I believe trans women participating in cis women’s sports feeds resentment which in turn ‘legitimizes’ transphobia by fueling social resentment against trans people.

                Reply
          2. Ander P

            I asked you:
            “Do you have any idea the rate at which trans women are murdered, in the US or in *say, Colombia?”

            so I figured I’d answer that by citing the following: Homicide Rates of Transgender Individuals in the United States: 2010–2014

            “The estimates suggest that overall in the United States during 2010 to 2014, transgender residents may have been at lower risk for homicide than were cisgender residents. This is surprising, considering transgender residents’ economic vulnerability[12] and high prevalence of reported violence[10]

            …However…

            “Transfeminine residents aged 15 to 34 years who were Black or Latina were almost certainly more likely to be murdered than were their cisfeminine comparators. Indeed, as [Table 1] shows, a large majority of transgender homicide risk is borne by young Black and Latina transfeminine individuals.

            Because the rate of cismasculine murders among Black and Latino US residents aged 15 to 34 years is so high, the possibility that transfeminine Black or Latina residents aged 15 to 34 years have even higher rates of being murdered is alarming. The gendering of and legal vulnerability of sex work coupled with severely curtailed economic opportunities driving poor, young, Latina or Black, and transfeminine individuals into sex work suggests that the high rates in these groups may express anti–sex worker violence, as similarly observed in Italy.[20]

            “What the actual murder rate of trans women in Columbia is, I have no idea. I do know however that a majority of the recorded murders of trans women occur in Latin America, which has a some extremely impressive (and far from liberal) historical trans women.

            Reply
        2. Darius

          I know some trans women transitioning from male. I’ve also known biological girls who identify as boys. I can see possible issues with trans women competing in women’s sports, but the scorn for other human beings who have to struggle to be who they are is disheartening, to say the least.

          Reply
      2. jr

        Spare me the “rudeness” schtick. It is willfully clarifying. I was at one time inclined to extend men who identify as women the courtesy, yes courtesy, of calling them women. No more. It’s a trojan horse whether you realize it or not, a part of a greater war on women. Here’s a woman discussing the corollaries between the trans movement and child abuse, some interesting similarities are evident:

        https://youtu.be/XZexItivPl8

        I understand there are individuals, quite rare, who blur the lines. Their struggles and needs must be addressed but not at the cost of women’s rights and safety. There is a deep misogyny, a lot of cowardice, pseudoscience, and big bucks behind this all. If you do not see yourself as fully male, you may be something else but you are not a woman:

        https://youtu.be/zYnfZEWhuF0

        You can thank the trans “movement” for this reaction. I won’t play along anymore. I notice that none of the “trans men” who comment on this site, with one exception long ago, address the issues facing women that this insanity has generated. The ties to big business. The lack of scientific or philosophical grounding. It’s always charges of rudeness and personal offence.

        Reply
          1. jr

            You got that right, flora. And it’s been extended to anyone who questions this none sense. Time and again I hear cries of rudeness and discourtesy for stating biological facts.

            It will blow up and when it does we will see the Right take their turn defining these things. It’s already in motion here in the US. Not that any of this represents the Left in any fashion, it’s authoritarian Liberalism. I believe that is the goal of the billionaires and foundations backing this up. Diversion, distraction, fracturing society so as to rule over the ruins.

            Reply
          2. petal

            Yes, we’re supposed to sit down and shut up all over again. jr, agree with everything you’ve said. I hope I can buy you a beverage some time.

            Reply
        1. jr

          Edit: “trans men” was supposed to be “trans women”, I’ve yet to see a trans man post here for that matter.

          Reply
        2. Darius

          There is a lot of identity politics nonsense piggybacking on the trans phenomenon, but scorning people who feel fundamental alienation from their own beings because their biology doesn’t match their understanding of themselves is like telling gay people to just get over it and fly straight. It’s not rude. It’s cruel. And it’s delusional. It seems like making trans people the scapegoat for some other beef.

          Reply
      3. flora

        Create a trans sports category and I’ll stop protesting the destruction of girls’ and women’s sports. (Although, I bet the big gambling outfits “love” having ringers in the deck at the college, olympic and pro levels. Follow the money.)

        Reply
        1. Ander P

          A trans sports category makes infinitely more sense to me than having trans women participate in cis women’s sports.

          We know that cis men have a physical advantage over cis women in most sports. Unless a mountain of (good) peer reviewed research supported the hypothesis that trans women don’t have an advantage over cis women we should assume that the advantage carries over to trans women. There are good arguments for this, even if on a hormone suppressant regime they benefited for years from the presence of testosterone and the muscle density that comes with it before transitioning.

          Doing otherwise simply promotes resentment against trans women who are seen as unfairly out-competing cis women, which feeds transphobia.

          Reply
          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > Cis

            The sound of “Cis” makes my back teeth itch. “Ssssssssss” has a lot of connotations, few of them good.

            I’m a little bemused that a movement that is deeply committed to, say, individual choice of pronoun has no problem at all inventing and imposing a new classification for approximately half the population, one that entails many ideological commitments that the good-hearted or polite who use it may not be aware of.

            Reply
      4. Lambert Strether Post author

        > reader/participant

        As for reading, we have plenty of lurkers, so possible. I don’t generally think of contributing as participating, but that’s what it must be, since this is your first comment under this handle.

        Reply
    3. digi_owl

      Whenever these stories come up, i think back to the east German female athletes that were secretly injected with testosterone. I think at least one of them ended up growing facial hair.

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        I went to high school with Jill Sterkel who was a grade ahead of me and won a gold medal in the 1976 Olympics, and she somewhat resembled the East German swimmers in appearance, a big woman.

        Reply
        1. Dave in Austin

          About Jill Sterkel. She’s a big Dutch-American girl and never had to use drugs. I think she was 14 at the Olympics. In the locker room the East Germans were so obviously pumped-up with hormones (deep voices, etc) that all the girls noticed.

          So they won.

          And they lost. The doctors who gave them the drugs didn’t realize the long-term consequences for the girls, who were not apparently aware of what was going on. Some could not have children and at least one had serious personal gender issues.

          After the story finally broke, Jill was attending the US Swimming National Convention. We gave her a standing ovation. She deserved it. But I kept thinking about the East German girls, who lost more than just a few medals.

          Reply
          1. petal

            I remember watching a documentary about the East German girls and it was heartbreaking. I’ll try to find it tonight.

            Reply
            1. newcatty

              I certainly would not want my college aged granddaughter playing her sport in a society that allows trans women to “compete” in women’s sports. It is just the facts. Biology rules. How about you?

              Reply
          2. The Rev Kev

            Drug cheating still goes on. Look at the Norwegian Olympic Winter team most of whom need to take medicine for their ‘asthma’ poor lads, and yet keep on winning medals. The drugs are now more sophisticated to avoid detection or the Olympics Committee is persuaded to give some drugs a pass such as with those for the Norwegians. If you had a magic drug detector, it would never be allowed near the Olympics or too many athletes would be booted out making sponsors very unhappy.

            Reply
    4. Aumua

      All I’m gonna say right now is NC has a ways to go when it comes to understanding transgender people and the issues that they face and have faced historically. I know I’m generalizing, I’m just going off the majority of comments I usually see when this discussion pops up.

      Reply
      1. flora

        Why is muscling in now on women’s sports – which women have spent the better part of 45 years trying to bring up to some parity with men’s sports in terms of participation, public interest, sponsors, better prize money, and recognition – why is that categorized as a serious trans issue and not a serious women’s issue? Sorry, I don’t buy it. Stretching the question farther: if a Supreme Court justice can’t say what a woman is, what happens to women’s rights?

        Reply
        1. flora

          How about this analogy: say that after the long struggle to pass the Civil Rights Act and EEOC in the 1960s, and the affirmative action laws and special programs created to even the playing field for Black Americans who had been excluded from larger society, and watching the financial, job and professional gains so many Black Americans have made – how about after all that Civil Rights work some white people decide to horn in on those program, decide they want those programs and benefits for themselves, declare they identify as Black and start taking the program funds and program benefits Blacks worked to hard to win. Think it’s not the same? Think that wouldn’t be a serious Black issue?

          Reply
          1. The Rev Kev

            And you wouldn’t even have to pretend that you are black-

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z2zMrjBLwn8 (1:57 mins)

            But I think that your comment is entirely valid. A question. For some of those college athletics competitions. Aren’t some of them linked to scholarships and rewards as well for the winners?

            Reply
      2. CoryP

        Yeah. I might even agree with in theory with a lot of the posts I find objectionable.

        I try to just ignore these posts. It’s one of the few topics that isn’t dealt with thoughtfully here. Nobody likes tone-policing but people need to at least try not to be assholes.

        I dont think mocking an actually existing category of people (some of whom are readers) is the same as other types of rudeness that the site seems to explicitly condone. Best example I can think of is Kamala and her career ascent. Some people call those comments misogynistic but, it’s mocking a person as a woman vs mocking the category of “women”.

        At least that’s why I can stomach one and not the other. Idk man

        Reply
    5. hazelbrew

      I am not going to comment on many of the individual comments above, Many are numerous, disheartening, intolerant, opinionated and bigoted. I’ll avoid my first post risking being an ad hominen attack.

      I have been reading this site for 14 years now, and this is the first time I have really felt motivated enough to comment. and sadly off the back of the intolerance above. This site and comments has always been about exploring another persons perspective, the facts, and a tolerance and understanding of the many minorities in our societies . It has helped my learning on a wide range of issues.

      To those that posted and are trans – I salute your courage and determination. Undergoing a gender change is not just about “identity” as some above say. The process is long and sifts out those that are not truly determined. It involves hormone changes, surgery (e.g. top surgery for female to male transition), and often disapproval or worse from former friends and existing family. yet despite that pain, a small number of people every year go through a transition – to live richer and fuller lives afterwards. If you don’t know what is involved in that journey then I encourage you to understand. If you know a trans person then talk to them to learn.

      To those that take the one example of trans men and women in sport, and then generalize to all trans issues – you should be ashamed of yourselves. you are taking one issue and then using it to invalidate the lived experience of those going through this pain. Using words like “ringer”, or denying choice of gender, or other dismissive language is intolerant and disrespectful. It betrays ignorance.

      Why do I feel compelled to answer?
      I have trans colleagues. I have seen first hand the mental health and acceptance issues they face. Luckily our workspace is very tolerant. Although they still face issues if needed to go to our work in Malaysia. not all countries are as accepting.

      I have a trans child – female to male. A teenager. The journey and getting the help he and we need as a family has been a huge challenge.

      One of my colleagues has a trans child, also female to male.

      The mental health issues (anxiety, depression) are very real. Self harm and suicide rates are massively elevated in trans people. I will never ever forget driving down the motorway taking one of my children’s friends to hospital. He had taken enough paracetamol to be dead the next day. his parents were out all day and would not have discovered in time. If not for the one text message of “I think I’ve done something stupid and taken too many pills” to my daughter that trans male would no longer be here. When you have lived through that you would not treat these issues so dismissively or think its just woke identity politics.

      Now – on to the topic of trans women competing in womens sport. This is actually something my son and I discuss and talk about. We don’t have a conclusion. We both acknowledge the influence of human biology on the body. Many trans women did not fully transition until after puberty and adolescence, the growth impact on muscle strength has happened by that point. In weight lifting that can make a difference, in, say field hockey, archery, other sports then not really.

      To those that suggest a separate “trans” category? No. Terrible idea. Trans people want acceptance. Creating a separate category just singles them out as different and sets acceptance back. Either let them compete in male or female events or don’t (or any?! some sports are non gendered i think?). But that is my opinon, and I am not trans.

      Let women decide who competes in women’s sport. simple as that for me.

      and please be more tolerant on the wide range of issues this very small minority faces.

      Reply
      1. Yves Smith

        On the narrow issue of trans women in women’s sports, you are incorrect about the advantage. It exists in all sports. It is the result of the Y chromosome and typically higher levels of testosterone in the uterus:

        Mammals, including humans, show sex differences in juvenile play behavior. In rodents and nonhuman primates, these behavioral sex differences result, in part, from sex differences in androgens during early development. Girls exposed to high levels of androgen prenatally, because of the genetic disorder congenital adrenal hyperplasia, show increased male-typical play, suggesting similar hormonal influences on human development, at least in females. Here, we report that fetal testosterone measured from amniotic fluid relates positively to male-typical scores on a standardized questionnaire measure of sex-typical play in both boys and girls. These results show, for the first time, a link between fetal testosterone and the development of sex-typical play in children from the general population, and are the first data linking high levels of prenatal testosterone to increased male-typical play behavior in boys.

        https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2778233/

        Aside from the general tendency of males to be more physically aggressive than females, even at a young age (toddlerhood! boys rough-house when girls rarely do) is girls are conditioned to be placating and submissive because even well before adolescent hormones kick in, boys can beat the crap out of girls, and thus girls are socialized not to provoke them. Boys before adolescence have more muscle mass and lower body fat at the same height and BMI than girls. They also have less joint laxity, which means they do better in sports than involve running and turning because their joints can take more stress and not get injured.

        I’ve trained with trainers who primarily train pro, Olympic aspirant, and Division 1 athletes, in track and field, soccer, baseball, golf, and powerlifting, so across a wide range of sports, about 2/3 men and 1/3 women. They would flat out reject your thesis as far as elite athletes are concerned.

        Admittedly, countries like China are very good at recruiting for high testosterone girls for certain sports (they look for hairy forearms and bulky calves as a proxy). But they are being recruited for having an advantage in women’s sports that require strength (which BTW includes women’s gymnastics). But that does not change the fact that boys have a advantage over girls in the same activity.

        Similarly:

        Boys run faster than girls in all running phases, and the span between genders increases after the age of 15 years.

        https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19910817/

        And your view of archery is wrong, women have both less grip strength and upper body strength than men and their smaller size is also a factor:

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QZU-OCmMOLI

        On the broader issue, which trans advocates to not seem to appreciate, is that trans advocates far too often push for their “rights” at the expense of other groups, particularly lesbian women, straight women, and even gay men. I am straight but I understand from gay men and women that they are quite convinced that they really are gay, but if they were adolescents now, they’d be under a lot of pressure to think they were trans. The sports issue comes up often because it’s a comparatively neutral way to discuss this topic. But contrary to your claim, there are far more trans women who have not undergone full gender reassignment surgery, and I know of quite a few older women (I am not one, for some odd reason I am not physically intimidated by men) who are completely freaked out when a trans woman comes into the bathroom because they are pretty fragile to being with and fear the (typically way bigger and sturdier) trans woman could beat them up or rape them.

        These views are not entirely unfounded. See this 2020 report to Parliament:

        https://committees.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/18973/pdf/

        Reply
        1. hazelbrew

          Moderate this away if this topic has gone too far. My comments are based on what I infer from your writing, not necessarily what you imply.

          Trans rights and acceptance are about the same level that gay rights were decades ago – i.e. in a dangerous place still for those people coming out as transgender. I have found the framing of LGBT as problematic now I know more. LGB is in a better position than the T in the acronym.

          from your final paragraph or so on the broader issues:
          “contrary to your claim, there are far more trans women who have not undergone full gender reassignment surgery”
          – I ‘m not sure what you think I claimed? . Maybe I’ve written without the right clarity or omitted parts and then that is my mistake. Anyone coming out as transgender is on a journey. I’m well aware that it takes years, and some people never complete a full gender reassignment via surgery. The wait times and cost can be ferocious. For example, wait times for the Tavistock in the UK are measured in years.

          I know of quite a few older women … who are completely freaked out when a trans woman comes into the bathroom because they are pretty fragile to being with and fear the (typically way bigger and sturdier) trans woman could beat them up or rape them

          – this is the most problematic thing you have written and I am not quite sure what point you are trying to make with it?. You are writing about general trans issues, and then picking one example of a trans woman potentially beating up or raping a woman in a bathroom. That is transphobic FUD. Linking trans women to violence and rape is really not helpful, I don’t see why do it?

          I ask if you replace “trans woman” in that sentence with “latino” or “person of colour” would that be acceptable? No. it would be a deeply racist view, so why is it acceptable to single out a trans woman in that way?

          if anything the opposite is true.

          I read the link you share above, and I read the linked paper. The first link you share cherry picks from the original research, presumably to make the point the committee wanted.
          from the first paper, cherry picked from the original:
          “The findings show that transsexual individuals were more likely to be criminal than non-transsexuals of the same birth sex in the first cohort (1973-1988), and no different from their birth sex in the second group (1989-2003).” – the second cohort had proper psychiatric support.

          on MtF from the paper:
          “This suggests that the sex reassignment procedure neither increased nor decreased the risk for criminal offending in male-to-females”
          and if we look at FtM
          “By contrast, female-to-males were at a higher risk for criminal convictions compared to female controls and did not differ from male controls, which suggests increased crime proneness in female-to-males after sex reassignment.”
          so that original paper when looking at criminality does show that MtF are as likely as male control to engage in criminal acts. But so what?

          what that misses is the conclusion from the original paper
          here: https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0016885

          This is the conclusion verbatim:
          Persons with transsexualism, after sex reassignment, have considerably higher risks for mortality, suicidal behaviour, and psychiatric morbidity than the general population. Our findings suggest that sex reassignment, although alleviating gender dysphoria, may not suffice as treatment for transsexualism, and should inspire improved psychiatric and somatic care after sex reassignment for this patient group.

          So far from laboring on the criminality angle, this paper concludes that outcomes for transsexual individuals are worse than the norm. i.e. they need our help not fear.

          support from more recent research ,
          From the UCLA school of law: https://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/press/ncvs-trans-press-release/

          Transgender people are over four times more likely than cisgender people to experience violent victimization, including rape, sexual assault, and aggravated or simple assault, according to a new study by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law. In addition, households with a transgender person had higher rates of property victimization than cisgender households.

          Reply
          1. Yves Smith

            The study linked to above indicated that generally speaking, trans women commit crimes at rates comparable to men, not women. Your discussion of trans being targets for crime does not serve to address the notion that women who consider themselves vulnerable to men might have a factual foundation for harboring the same concerns about trans women.

            The women who have spoken to me about the issue have said their concern is that a trans woman could still have a penis and could assault them. The NIH says that only 5-10% of trans women get genital surgery.

            https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6626314/

            These women do not want to share a public bathroom with a person with a penis. Based on their comments, I don’t think they’d be worried if they were confident that the trans woman had fully transitioned.

            The two women I know who have expressed public bathroom worries (one smallish and extremely thin, the other petite, so both have had concerns about being targets all their life and one was raped) do not speak of fear of people of color, so conflating their concerns as part of a pattern of generalized fear of “other” is off base.

            Reply
            1. hazelbrew

              does not serve to address the notion

              let me try a different answer, one that perhaps helps you understand more of how i would address this in person.

              If I were fortunate enough to be able to address the issue with the two women , or anyone else in a similar situation I would:

              – step away from the specifics and hope they would engage in conversation.

              – I would start by acknowledging my own extreme privilege. I am white, male, cis, straight, have never been the victim of violent crime, live in a prosperous part of a western democracy. I have about as much privilege as it is possible to have, I am aware of some of it, but clearly cannot be aware of all. I have a totally different lived experience to others.

              – then if they were willing to share their experiences for me to learn from that would be very welcome and that if at any time we needed to stop that I would understand (e.g. time to change the subject. I’m a Brit, the go to would be the weather!). I know how anxiety can live on and impact for decades, I cannot begin to understand the trauma of their experience.

              – I would hope they would listen to my own fears and concerns as the father of a transgender child.

              – I would ask how we could create a better world that meets both concerns, one conversation and one person at a time.

              That is ultimately how things like this get addressed, with conversation, active listening and empathy.

              and if I were only able to listen them that would be fine. and if they did not wish to listen to my concerns that is also fine. I would consider myself fortunate to have had the opportunity, and

              lastly, that if today is not the day, today is not the day.

              Reply
              1. Yves Smith

                I ran your text by one of these two women. She said:

                “I don’t appreciate condescension. Investigate the history of women’s bathrooms. Women had to fight 100 years ago to the right for them to have their own public bathrooms, for their safety. Women were either not safe in public spaces and/or assumed to be a hooker. Women have not gotten physically stronger in the last 100 years.”

                Reply
      2. flora

        “To those that take the one example of trans men and women in sport, and then generalize to all trans issues – you should be ashamed of yourselves. you are taking one issue and then using it to invalidate the lived experience of those going through this pain. Using words like “ringer”,”

        I’m doing nothing of the sort. an aside: I’ve worked for several years now with a 20-something young man at the beginning of their employment who transitioned to a 20-something young woman. She’s fine. I have no phobia or animosity or anything else negative toward her. She’s a very good scientist. My focus on sports is specific, narrow, and interested in protecting women’s sports.

        As for the term “ringer”, it’s an old term with a very specific meaning in sports.
        https://www.sportsnhobbies.org/in-sports-what-is-a-ringer.htm

        Reply
        1. Stick'em

          To use a concrete example as a thought experiment: take the case of Bruce Jenner

          Bruce won the men’s Olympic decathalon in 1976 and kids from that time remember the Wheaties box. Then Bruce transition to become Caitlyn. So forget focusing on what the correct gender pronoun is for Bruce–> Caitlyn at any given moment during the lifecycle for a minute…

          What if we supposed after the transition, Caitlyn Jenner successfully entered the women’s Olympic decathalon to compete and won a gold medal there too!

          Is this fair? If I were an Olympic athlete who’d spent my entire life training for this event, I’d be mighty pissed off if Bruce/Caitlyn wins in both categories.

          Reply
            1. Stick'em

              In “absolute” terms, either there is clearly separate men and women’s divisions in sports or there isn’t.

              If there is, then we can make a good case an individual (e.g., Bruce/Caitlyn) can’t possibly qualify to compete in both divisions.

              If there isn’t, then men are going to win events such as the decathalon 100% of the time. Why couldn’t I as an XY male tell everybody “I identify as a woman” and be a competitor? Which means women might as well not waste their time training to be Olympic athletes for the majority of events.

              Either we use an objective biological quantitative measure such as chromosomes or testosterone levels to distinguish between sexes to have divisions in sports for competetion purposes, or else anybody can subectively say their qualitiative gender identity qualifies them to be whomever they want, which necessarily rigs the game.

              If there’s a third, more equitable solution, I’m not seeing it…

              Reply
        2. hazelbrew

          I don’t know if you meant it as such, but I inferred from the word ringer a certain trivialization of the decision of people to come out as transgender. I associate a ringer with a short term advantage, whereas the decision to come out is decidedly long term, requires a lot of courage, and acceptance from nearest and family. Maybe I am over sensitive to these issues from my own experience.

          and yes very aware of what ringer means. I used to play hockey (field), in an older men’s team. (the 9th team in the club), we used to occasionally pad out the team with players from the 3rds or 4ths for those must win games against the local rival… :)

          Ask the trans woman at work what she thinks of the sport question. and of course she is fine – trans people are just people, with all that comes with that.

          Protecting women’s sport is a good aim. I posted a longer answer to Yves above. short answer – women should decide about women’s sport. yes XY at birth or testosterone can give unfair advantage (though you still need the determination , discipline, training, etc. its not a free pass to greatness).

          Reply
  2. PlutoniumKun

    Face masking and COVID-19: potential effects of variolation on transmission dynamics Journal of the Royal Society.

    Really interesting – this is something I’d been wondering about from the very beginning of the pandemic – whether getting a lot of very low level exposure to the virus might be a way to build up resistance. I know a few people who were working in covid wards who repeatedly tested positive without having any symptoms. Its good to know that maybe this is a positive effect of wearing masks and using nasal sprays.

    Reply
    1. Stick'em

      From the beginning, the question on my mind is mutation selection. So we know the COVID-19 virus mutates. Most people assume vaccines good, medicine good. OK. But how do these measures artificially select for potentially more lethal mutations? Especially in light of the crummy uptake on shots?

      If vaccinations protect against whatever strain they are designed for, then the strains the vaccines do not work well against are selected for through man-made selection pressure. Same principle as antibiotic resistance.

      If only half the people get a given vaccine, then the virus isn’t eliminated in the population, but rather vaccine-resistant mutations are more likely to survive in the future, right? We see this in the yearly influenza vaccine. This year’s shot doesn’t do Bo Diddley against next year’s flu.

      Same thing with Paxlovid. Glad to have anti-viral meds. But won’t COVID-19 have some risk of selecting for medication resistance, especially if not everyone has access to Paxlovid or “believes in it” as with shots?

      IMO, this is the great advantage of masks. Masks block all the viral mutations without discrimination, right? This is why N/K-95 masks should be emphasized consistently and should have been our first choice from the beginning. This is how we don’t unintentionally artificially select for more virulent forms of COVID-19.

      Make camo masks and USA!USA! masks and WWF wrasslin’ masks to get the right-wing crowd to use ’em. Pt Bible verses on masks. Use other types of virtue signalling masks for the liberal types. Get celebrity endorsements. Maybe Pelosi will wear one if Bono wears one on the TeeVee in a Kiev train station. Whatever works because marketing.

      Too bad the politicians and CDC turned this issue into 3 monkeys f’ing a football with the inconsistent messaging and modeling of good public health behavior. I guess Pfizer paid them more to shill for the shots and meds than the mask manufacturers could come up with…

      Reply
      1. Mikel

        And then there is that new Merck Covid pill
        “molnupiravir” – the oral antiviral medication integrates into the genetic makeup of the virus, causing a large number of mutations to destroy the virus.

        It’s out of control, mass human experimentation. It will not end well.

        Reply
        1. Stick'em

          Looking at the primary literature, the mechanism of molnupiravir action appears to result in a viral product that itself cannot be reproduced as an intact new viral genome. Here’s the relevant excerpt, which is admittedly in biochem geek speek (note: I understand it but the average person may not, so apologies if it appears baffling):

          Our systematic biochemical analysis suggests a two-step model for the mechanism of molnupiravir-induced coronavirus RNA mutagenesis (Fig. 5). When the molnupiravir prodrug enters the cell, it is converted to NHC triphosphate (MTP), which can be used by the RdRp of SARS-CoV-2 as a substrate instead of CTP or UTP. Therefore, in a first step, the RdRp is predicted to frequently incorporate M instead of C or U when it uses the positive-strand genomic RNA (+gRNA) as a template to synthesize negative-strand genomic (−gRNA) and subgenomic RNA (−sgRNA). In a second step, the resulting M-containing RNA can be used as a template for the synthesis of +gRNA or positive-strand subgenomic mRNA (+sgmRNA). The presence of M in the −gRNA then leads to mutations in the positive-strand RNA products, which do not support formation of intact new viruses, as predicted by the ‘error catastrophe’ model.

          https://www.nature.com/articles/s41594-021-00651-0

          That said, it isn’t out of the question for whatever these non-intact viral genome products turn out to be to do something unexpected. This error catastrophe model may have unintended issues we aren’t aware of yet. So I share you concern. Better to first do no harm with measures like sanitation, ventilation, and masking before relying solely on the medicinal monkey wrench…

          Reply
      2. Alyosha

        I’ve tried to point out to people that the great benefit of masks is how if we all wear them we help to thwart AI facial recognition surveillance. In early covid times i actually walked into a bank wearing a mask and mirrored sunglasses … nobody even called the cops.

        Reply
        1. The Rev Kev

          A joke from 2020 – ‘I was in a bank today when a bunch of people walked in wearing masks. People were relieved when they found out that it was only a bank robbery.’

          Reply
        2. Stick'em

          Exactly. The inertia to mask wearing is a virtue signalling issue. Western movie: white hat and sheriff’s badge on John Wayne vs. black hat and bandana mask on the train robbers.

          So the question is how to get momentum for N-95 use into the average Hollywood-addled brain so folks don’t feel like they’re robbing a bank?

          One answer is embrace the culture wars and promote more virtue signalling expression on both sides through N-95 designs. It works for T-shirts. Remove the stigma of mask use by allowing people do make their message virtues such as “enhancing freedom” or “I’m rich!” Captain America and Iron Man wear masks, so why can’t we train our citizens to be like them?

          Reply
          1. Yves Smith

            I take pleasure in being contrary and no one has dared to say boo about my masking to me. I think if you enjoy a possible dustup over masks, you don’t get them.

            Reply
            1. Skippy

              The very idea that you are taking – your own life and health into your hands as an individual – and some libertarian minded freedom and liberty head cases gets bent is an epic logical cog-dis fail …

              Reply
            2. Stick'em

              Here no one has said anything about me wearing a plain white N95. Where we live, the people are all wearing masks one week and nobody is wearing one the next week. It’s this conformity driven phenomenon rather than anything resembling consistent public health awareness.

              BTW, I don’t enjoy controversy over mask wearing or vaccination. It’s mostly juvenile and ego-centric. However, given conformity and celebrity and ego-centrism and virtue signalling are what the American population responds to, these are the tools public health officials have to work with.

              So if we want an effective uptake on public health measures, the way to do it would seem to be working with what is available, because what we wished was available (e.g., scientific literacy) doesn’t work here from my observations. YMMV

              Reply
      3. OnceWereVirologist

        If only half the people get a given vaccine, then the virus isn’t eliminated in the population, but rather vaccine-resistant mutations are more likely to survive in the future, right ?

        That’s not really the case. A vaccine is not like an antibiotic. It doesn’t directly interact with the virus at all. A vaccine pre-stimulates your own natural immune response so that it can quickly knock out an invading virus before it makes you sick. The unvaccinated person is still going to produce a very similar immune response, just slower, and thus with more uncontrolled viral replication and more chance of illness, but the selective pressure to avoid the immune response, if such a thing is possible for the virus in question, is going to be much the same.

        Reply
        1. Stick'em

          OWV ~

          Not sure if we are on the same page. I’m not suggesting the vaccine acts directly with a virus. Of course there is the immune system intermediary. I get a vaccine it isn’t penicillin killing a colony of bacteria by messing with its cell wall.

          What I am wondering is isn’t it plausible for me and many others in our population to get vaccinated against the original version of the COVID-19 causing virus, thus reducing the incidence of this original version of the virus in our population, yet leaving the virus remaining in the population as a template source for mutation?

          With the prevalance of the original version of the virus reduced in the population, a nascent version of the virus could have mutations, such that the antigens in the original version of the virus are no longer present in such a way as for the antibodies produced in the immune systems of the population by the vaccine to recognize effectively.

          The virus mutates and the original vaccine no longer works because the virus is now, in effect “resistant” to the vaccine because its genome and the resulting protein products are now different. Isn’t this what we’ve done with COVID? Aren’t the newer strains (Omicron etc) unaffected by the original vaccine (or at least it is far reduced in its efficacy towards these)?

          In this case, there is man-made selective pressure on the virus to evolve to a more succesful for that isn’t as hindered by the immune response produced by original round of vaccination. Isn’t this what happens with influenza?

          Reply
          1. OnceWereVirologist

            All of that is still just as likely to happen in the absence of vaccine. Natural infection-induced immunity selects in pretty much the same way for new variants that escape the body’s immune response.

            Reply
            1. Stick'em

              So if I am reading you correctly, it’s not the case that vaccines don’t select for vaccine-resistant strains of COVID, because I’m convinced they do. It’s difficult to separate this man-made pressure to analyze, but I think it is real.

              Rather, your view is this is selection going to happen anyway in a natural pathway as non-vaccinated people will have similar immune responses to the vaccinated ones in a given population. Hence, vaccination itself producing artificial selection pressure isn’t really the issue so much as viral adaptability to human immune responses in both natural and artificial selection pathways, independent of how this immune response develops.

              I can follow that reasoning.

              We agree selection for drug resistance is a far more concerning issue than vaccine resistance, as reviewed here:

              https://www.pnas.org/doi/10.1073/pnas.1717159115

              Reply
          1. OnceWereVirologist

            This is just a mathematical model so its only as good as the assumptions that underlie it (e.g. “our basic model makes a series of simplifying assumptions : (3) no waning of immunity” – that’s not just a simplification, it’s outright false).

            Reply
            1. Stick'em

              Certainly there is more than one reason vaccination would have a reduced efficacy over time. Waning of the immune response (both naturally and inoculation acquired) definitely is one of ’em.

              I still have this nagging feeling half-assed uptake on vaccination is causing some residual long-term issues as opposed to full uptake by the population. Not voting for mandatory vaccination though because our government hasn’t proven itself trustworthy as advocates for its own citizens.

              Reply
    2. Mikel

      The antibodies developed from coronoviruses are temporary. And I’d imagine the human immune system “”memory” (which varies among and within individuals through shifting environmental and other health factors) only learns one variant at a time and Covid is having a lot of wild variants. Look at what popped up with Omicron – franken spike proteins.

      Reply
      1. Laura in So Cal

        This is speaking from personal experience. For unvaccinated people, durability of immunity seems to be 1-2 years and does cross between variants.
        My whole family had an early covid variant in Jan 2020. My husband and I who are in our mid-50’s had heavy exposures to my parents break thru Delta cases in Sept 2021. We both showed super mild symptoms for 1-2 days and then were fine. My teenage son had something super mild in Jan 2021 that might have been covid..not sure. During the omicron wave last winter (Dec 2021- Feb 2022) my son was being testing weekly over the 3 month soccer season. He never tested positive or showed any symptoms while more than 1/2 of the soccer team had omicron at some point. Most of them were vaccinated.

        Interestingly enough, there has been an increase of illness at my son’s high school (and in LA County generally). My son became ill about 5 days after a known covid exposure as we were notified by the school. Because of the current protocols, we tested for covid multiple times over multiple days with home tests and the results were always negative. It turns out that the H2n3 flu virus is also circulating. So both covid and flu are around. My son hadn’t had the flu since 2018 and I think that was H1n1, I think, so this case was a doozy.

        Reply
    3. Joe Well

      Curious which nasal sprays you are referring to.

      I just got some Sanotize/Enovid from Israel. Easy to use but the dosing is unclear.

      And of course, only two low-powered clinical trials in support of it.

      Reply
    4. Basil Pesto

      It is very interesting but it also highlights the problem: that face masks will be necessary for the rest of our lives if we wish to avoid repeated covid infections, regardless of the strength of the variolation theory. Failing to do and thus being repeatedly reinfected with SARS2 could well be a death sentence for many, many people. Yet, we really shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that wearing masks all the time in shared spaces absolutely sucks. Which is why China’s strategy remains superior (as I understand, in areas without outbreaks, ie most of the country most of the time, masks aren’t necessary for the general population. This rings true with the Australian experience where, for the most part, masks weren’t necessary until we shat the bed last June. Of course, few are wearing masks now either. The difference is that Covid is now one of/the leading cause of death here, lol)

      Reply
  3. The Rev Kev

    I don’t suppose that the images in the Antidote du jour and the bonus antidote were taken from adjacent trees by any chance?

    Reply
    1. Stephen V.

      No but the link for today’s floofer goes to another cat in a tree. I consider this a feature, not a bug!

      Reply
      1. harrybothered

        The cat in tree link leads to a previous Antidote du jour, which was, yes, another cat in a tree. I already sent that one to my mom, so I need a working link to send this one too. Our daily form of communication is texted cat photos now. :)

        Reply
  4. Alyosha

    On masks, there’s a whole world of professionals like myself who could have told everyone almost all of the new research results on masks (respiratory protection) prior to Covid. The only difference is the size of a virus particle compared to most contaminants.

    For example, a real half-face respirator with the magenta cartridges (p100, meaning HEPA and oil mist resistant – “N” means not oil mist resistant) has an assigned protection factor of 10. That means the concentration of whatever inside the respirator is 10 times lower than outside. The actual protection factor is affected by fit and seal. I’ve had quantitative tests getting up to PF30 on my half mask. It’s also why I have to be clean shaven when wearing one, facial hair affects the seal and air follows the path of least resistance like water. An N95 that’s well fitted also has a PF of 10(ish) but it’s not easy to get a good seal with an N95.

    The PF as a reduction in concentration determines whether I’ll wear a half-face, full-face, powered air purifying full face or self contained breathing apparatus. So when I’ve had to enter a space filled with acid gas to measure that concentrations were 100 times the immediate danger to life and health level, I was in SCBA and the big chem suit. A half face would have still lead to me dying a horrible death.

    Respiratory protection adjusts the statistical odds of exposure. That’s why it is always the last line of defense in my world. It follows elimination of the contaminant, substitution of the contaminant, engineering controls (ventilation, usually) and administrative controls (not being around the contaminant). We prefer not to rely on it partially because actual protection is variable based on fit and the knowledge that it only reduces concentrations.

    In the case of Covid, everyone wearing a mask will have some effect on total concentrations by blocking some “particles” (even as an aerosol it’s still a particle, just a very small one) from floating free. Reduced ambient concentrations improve the effectiveness of an individual’s mask. Not as much as ventilation or ventilation and everyone wearing a mask, but it does tilt the statical probabilities in the favor of each individual.

    Some will cry that a virus is too small for HEPA. But the 99.97% at 0.3 microns is the tested effectiveness. HEPA isn’t a pore filter. It’s a randomly matted mass of electrostatically charged fibers. The large static pressure drop across the filter (hard to move air through it) causes a drop in velocity of particles. The random matting eliminates straight paths through the filter. The electrostatic charge means that when these slower moving particles inevitably bump into a filter fiber they get stuck to it.

    I’m fairly certain that the well educated and informed readers of NC know all this, but just in case and as a refresher (like I have to give and receive annual refresher training on all these sorts of things) is part of implementing effective respiratory protection.

    Reply
    1. Jacob Hatch

      Excellent summary, One of the benefits of N95 (with no valves) over P100 is the later (nearly always) is fitted with an exhaust valve, so the protection is one way – there are a few models with no valves, but their filters need frequent replacing. I suspect that two people, one infected and infectious, with both wearing valve-less N95 will out perform protecting the uninfected over both people wearing a P100 for this reason. This is just a gut judgement, I don’t have the data to directly compare them. It might even hold up that if the infected person is wearing a surgical mask well fitted that an uninfected person fitted with an N95 will out perform the p100. It’s one of those areas I’d like to see more research done upon.

      Reply
      1. Alyosha

        Thank you. Indeed, the sort of respiratory protection I use isn’t designed for contagious disease protection because of that exhalation valve. It might not be as bad as one would expect because the mask interior is always heavily condensed so viral particles would likely be trapped and less likely to be in aerosol form upon exhalation.

        I’m a big fan of the Korean KF94 because it seems to naturally get a better seal than either the US N95 or the Chinese KN95. Partly that’s material and partly structure. the KF94 is also relatively comfortable over long periods and that makes a huge difference.

        Reply
        1. Jason Boxman

          I use a cloth mask and then a mask badger over my N95, as I cannot fit it tightly otherwise. I assume the difficulty in breathing and lack of fog on glasses means I have as good a seal as I can get with this kind of protective gear.

          (I’ve never seen another person with a mask badger in the wild so far.)

          Reply
          1. Alyosha

            I’ve never seen a mask badger until just now. That’s a good solution to the issue of tight fit. Yes, both of those are good indications of a tight seal. The cloth mask over an N95 is probably unnecessary but it will extend the lifespan of the N95. (no criticism. I’m of the opinion that your opinion is more important on double masking)

            It might be worth seeking out a KF94. The construction is quite different and that can improve fit for some people (like me).

            Reply
            1. Yves Smith

              Any mask in addition to an N95 is a bad idea. You breathe harder and create leaks around the edges. Studies have shown that procedure masks +95s are worse than N95s alone.

              The best way to improve a non-fitted N95 is to tape around the nose bridge. Scotch tape is not too hard on the face.

              Otherwise get a P100. I bought this one. Surprisingly easy to breath through but pinches my face a bit: https://x1safety.com/products/half-face-mask-respirator-with-filters-gvs-elipse

              Reply
            2. Jacob Hatch

              Adding to what Yves Smith wrote, the mask fit is engineered for a fit, and faces do vary, but placing anything over it in intimate contact has the risk to change the shape of the mask and hence it’s sealing. Also, as you (Alyosha) noted earlier, the electrostatic effect relies on a certain change in velocity, but a second mask can modify the airflow pathway away from design intent, so we should strongly urge others against this action.

              The point of double masking with surgical procedure masks was to use cloth masks which are more conforming, to force surgical procedure masks to a closer fit. This was to be a stop gap/emergency use, not a long term solution. The badger device does the same action of this sort of double masking without the hassle of adding a moisture trap of a cloth mask, so offers protection of the electrostatic function in blown(non-woven) surgical procedure masks. It should not be used with N95 masks for same reason as not using cloth masks, and searching for a best fit with an unmodified mask is best. For those with tight budgets, in low risk environments like outside in medium density, use of a surgical mask with a badger device could be seen as a acceptable higher risk, taken for preserving budget constrained N95 use for more high risk exposure.

              Regarding P100 masks, Any decent size industrial safety shop should offer a number of masks for sale so buyers can at least get a visual feeling of what would fit best, and some better stores can offer fitting advise and even leak testing. I recommend getting 6 point or minimum 4 point attachment masks, whether in store or over the internet so you can make adjustments to get the best fit. Also, Northfield, Honeywell, and other brands will offer 3 or 4 sizes of masks so suggest buyers get fitting guide technical sheets so they are more likely to make the correct purchase the first time, important as thanks to Covid they don’t allow returns.

              One last point is a lot of garbage has been circulated about how the material in N95 should be good to use for weeks, months or even years before it’s blocked. The N in N95 is a clear advise to professionals that the material can not keep it’s electrostatic filtering in an oil environment, and of course what is in our breath? In theory the mask should be replaced after a heavy sneeze, as it is compromised. In reality, compromised it’s still better than a cloth mask, so do what your budget can bear and best of all minimize being in places where you need to wear them.

              Reply
      2. XXYY

        I don’t think it’s ever been a requirement, or even an interesting feature, to have a respirator sterilize the expired air flow. Respirators have always been about protecting the wearer from something in the larger environment, not protecting everyone else from what you are breathing out.

        Very cheap N95 masks sort of accidentally do this in order to save the cost of a one-way valve. This has turned out to be a feature in the current situation, weirdly.

        Reply
        1. Jacob Hatch

          What industry did / do you work in? I can guess with some confidence it isn’t medical, micro-biological, food/beverage, or any of the high tech industries with clean rooms, etc.; but having seen how the world works, I’ll allow I could well be wrong.

          Reply
    2. 1UnknownSubject

      As you stated and can be found in the mask specifications (go to 3M’s website and look for yourself) – N95 masks are not designed to protect against oily particulate / aerosols. The Covid virus has a lipid outer layer – (which is an oily, fatty, waxy substance). In my mind that calls into question the effectiveness of the N95 against the lipid layer of the virus – not to mention poor fit, and people constantly adjusting and touching of the mask.

      Reply
  5. Wukchumni

    I plan to do all the things one mustn’t do on this hallowed day, i’ll walk under a ladder continuing on a path a black cat has crossed, stepping on a crack shortly before opening an umbrella indoors, and then throwing caution to the wind along with a small mirror broke into 127 pieces, after tipping a salt shaker over.

    p.s.

    Why In Spain, Greece and Georgia, is Tuesday the 13th is the unlucky one?

    Reply
    1. albrt

      If I recall correctly, Churchy LaFemme from Pogo was particularly terrified of Friday the Thirteenth falling on a Tuesday.

      Reply
    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      Per the wiki, its already Ares’ day. The Fourth Crusaders sacked Constantinople on Tuesday, the 13th apparently. Then Mehmed took Constantinople on a Tuesday, supposedly reinforcing the day. Then I guess in Spain it’s because they have the Roman imperial regalia. The wiki doesn’t explain Spain.

      Reply
    1. cocomaan

      Here in PA our nuthatches are a little different. One of our favorite birds. They can be pretty fearsome when provoked but their murmuring call always makes them sound anxious.

      Reply
  6. The Rev Kev

    “Senator Rand Paul single-handedly holds up $40bn US aid for Ukraine”

    Rand Paul is quite right to insist on a special inspector general to monitor how the massive aid package is spent. And if Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell are trying to ram it through sight unseen, the suspicion arises that perhaps that they are expecting kick-backs from this multi-billion dollar gift. But I would go one further. I would also insist that no weapon leaves the US or any territory controlled by the US or its allies unless the serial number has been recorded first with a copy sent to each and every Senator. Because I promise you, when this is all over nobody in the Pentagon will admit like happened previously in Iraq that hundreds of thousands of weapons were shipped with not a serial number recorded. I can understand their reluctance though. So suppose a Stinger missile shoots down an Israeli airliner taking off from Vienna airport killing all aboard. It would be embarrassing if the serial number was found and it could be traced to some shipment that came out of some base in Omaha that was sent to the Ukraine.

    Reply
      1. tegnost

        like with covid…don’t measure what you don’t want to know.
        Sending crude to europe in order to keep the war going and prices at the pump and by the barrel high has me extremely cranky this am.

        Reply
        1. The Rev Kev

          It was in the news tonight that one million Americans have now “officially” died of Covid according to the White House. I asked myself how could they possibly know since, as Lambert says, the US has become crap with collecting figures. I would reckon myself that that figure was passed some time ago.

          Reply
    1. Wukchumni

      National Parks are our crown jewels, the one thing in the country everybody can agree on-as we tend to love them, and yet we treat them as if they weren’t worthy of our care, and just half of the proposed money given to Ukraine would fix everything in dire need. When i’m in the Giant Forest @ Lodgepole, sometimes i’ll use the circa 1963 bathroom with 2 stalls and 3 urinals, this for a National Park that gets a couple million visitors.

      In the roughly three years since the National Park Service under the Trump administration decided it wasn’t helpful to announce the dollar amount of deferred maintenance in the National Park System, that number has nearly doubled, to roughly $22 billion, in part due to a new calculation formula.

      The Park Service revealed that figure — $21.8 billion — Monday evening in a press release about efforts to reduce the backlog. To do so, the agency said, it has “implemented a new and improved assessment process that provides a more complete and timely understanding of facility conditions and the cost to repair them.”

      https://www.nationalparkstraveler.org/2022/05/update-national-park-systems-deferred-maintenance-bill-nearly-22-billion

      Reply
        1. JTMcPhee

          Rev, I’d offer that you just don’t understand Merkastan. If no homelessness, where are the incentives to the slaving orders to keep their noses to the grindstone? And how would the “better off” know their relative condition, absent a bottom-tail to the curve of wealth distribution? It’s baked into the entire system, from the git-go — original; Constitution limited the right to vote to owners of property, after all.

          I’m sort of looking forward to shuffling off this mortal coil — I’ve experienced, late in life, a slow-drip awakening to the horrors and frauds and lies that make up the political economy of this rotten place. There’s interstitial and occasional bits of goodness and fairness, it’s somewhat heartening to see some new vigor in the labor side of things like unionizing Amazon and SBUX but I recall enough history to think that even Chris Smalls has his price and there are more than enough scabs and Quislings to cut the nuts and legs off these efforts, by corruption at the retail level or by the wholly-owned governments making it all illegal and using state violence to put the uppities back in their place. By and large the Fokkers who rule us have so thoroughly dominated every fiber of the “fabric of society” that even the thought pathways that might lead to a better system are wiped out.

          It will be interesting to see if Russia succeeds in its mouse-that-roared gambit to use fiscal judo and its autarky and ownership of resources to get to that multipolar world where there might be some space for comity and commensalism. But the global powers that be have defeated such motions before. Lots of effing smart people slaving away at higher levels of the globalist edifice, figuring out how to work around or militarily defeat the pesky “commies.”

          It’s not getting any play in Westworld media, but the Russians have apparently hovered up and have been assembling a ton of information on biological-warfare activities of the US and UK at multiple sites in Russian/LDPNR controlled areas of former Ukraine, and elsewhere in Europe where “governments” are amenable.. They have been taking this to the UN Security Counsel for “action,” which of course is touchingly hopeful of Russia in light of how that corrupt body operates.

          One hopes, for the sake of one’s children if nothing else, that the sh!ts who rule us have enough sense not to trigger that last of all economic transactions, a ‘nuclear exchange.’ Would not assess a very high probability to that degree of “wisdom,” given that the Blessed People seem to feel themselves safe from consequences, and have crashed the world’s political economy repeatedly and triggered global wars and decimations by plague and starvation, all in the name of “more for them.”

          Reply
          1. JTMcPhee

            On the point about US involvement in “bio labs” (a successful euphemism, it would seem, far less damaging than “bio terror facilities”) here’s one source on what the Russians report finding from among the bits of material and paper trails not removed by the US and partners before February 24: https://www.veteranstoday.com/2022/05/12/ukraine-biolabs-dtra-dossier-on-bacteriological-weapons-and-russia-us-deal-putin-betrayed-by-obama-pentagon/

            Of course the “West” is flooding the discourse with lots of “fact checking”
            that “unequivocally obscures” what was going on with the re-purposing of the “apparent” Soviet-era biological-warfare facilities “under new [NATO?] management.” But we have to trust that “our government” would never violate treaties or agreements and would NEVER, say, develop and test biological and chemical and even nuclear weapons of mass destruction, especially on helpless people or even its own citizens, amiright? https://www.cbsnews.com/news/us-admits-bio-weapons-tests/ lots more links on different “programs” of the same sort since at least back in the WW II days…

            Reply
          2. JAC

            “I’m sort of looking forward to shuffling off this mortal coil — I’ve experienced, late in life, a slow-drip awakening to the horrors and frauds and lies that make up the political economy of this rotten place. ”

            Oh, I have seen the braids and horrors since I was a kid in college which led to several suicide attempts throughout my life. Doctors never understood that it was not me who was sick. And I figured maybe why my attempts ever succeeded meant that I was supposed to stay around to watch. Now I see it all as a play and just love those people near me more than those far away can hate them. I hope to stay alive long enough to see more interesting times. I am quite enjoying the crypto crash and seeing the recession we are already in and people walking around like everything is great.

            I meet many homeless people in National Parks, no doubt they will not get funding for this reason. Our they will take away the free passes for those on disability and over 65. The parks are all so crowded now with people who think nature is an amusement park so I hope they become so horrible that they start to rewild.

            Reply
            1. Vandemonian

              Doctors never understood that it was not me who was sick.

              May I share with you one of my favourite quotes:

              “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”
              – Jiddu Krishnamurti

              Reply
          3. XXYY

            the Russians have apparently hovered up and have been assembling a ton of information on biological-warfare activities of the US and UK at multiple sites in Russian/LDPNR controlled areas of former Ukraine

            I believe the Russians themselves are planning to hold war crimes tribunals at some point, featuring both documentary evidence and testimony from POWs and others, which I vaguely recall was scheduled for June, though I assume dates are uncertain.

            These will be entertaining/horrifying/gratifying depending on your point of view, and will certainly have an avid worldwide audience.

            Reply
        2. tegnost

          Oh com’on man! Then you’d have to come up with some other way for rich people to feel good about themselves!

          Reply
    2. Nikkikat

      I don’t think any one even bothered to look where the billions in covid money went. We didn’t even have a clue about the first couple of giant give aways to corporations and banks.
      They were all busy trying to give US nothing. This won’t be different and if Shumer and McConnell are pushing it, well, we pretty much guarantee that this shovel full of money go to weapons manufactures. No one is even bothering to look at the lend lease act. This is a way for them to hide billions more. It also has no time limits on when it will be paid back. It won’t. This will amount to billions in give aways. Next up we will decide to rebuild Ukraine.
      There will be billions in contracts. Just like Iraq. And no one will know where the money went. About that time it will be austerity for the people; because Republicans will be in charge and will suddenly decide that everything has to be cut, including Medicare and Social Security. The Democrats will happily sign on.

      Reply
      1. John Zelnicker

        Nikkikat – I read a couple of days ago that 45% of the money allocated for Ukraine will be going to defense contractors. I’m not sure how much of the budgeted and proposed money was included, whether just the latest $40 billion or all of it to date, but it just goes to show who benefits the most from this war.

        And this does not include all the funds going to NGOs and other groups that will be skimmed by consultants, contractors, etc.

        Reply
      2. jax

        Where does the money go? I asked this question in yesterday’s Water Cooler, but guess I got it in too late.

        My question is the legality of freezing a nation’s assets and then spending them as you see fit. Afghanistan is a prime example. The U.S. “froze $9.5 Billiion.” A couple of weeks ago Biden suggested he would give half of that amount in reparations to 9/11 families. Meanwhile, the Afghanis starve.

        Whether or not one has sympathy for confiscating Russian oligarch’s yachts and turning them into money to Réparate to Ukraine, or not, where in in international law does it say you can steal other nation’s reserves and spend them? This just feels like sophisticated piracy to me. Am I wrong?

        Reply
        1. hunkerdown

          Value tokens aren’t the same as value. Societies revaluate their members with every interaction. Soldiers and cops exist to destroy unauthorized value. Don’t reify money or give it a self-identity, as neoliberal animism would have us, and there won’t be a need to become interested in its fate.

          Reply
        2. juliania

          Do read or watch the latest Michael Hudson interview with Benjamin Norton. It’s a winner, and Yves had the transcript here yesterday. For economics (I’m a doofus) even though I’d watched the video, I found the transcript most helpful. Prof. Hudson’s new book is being talked about- wonderful conversation!

          Thank you, Yves.

          Reply
        3. fringe element

          It crossed my mind today that maybe this explains the bewildering willingness of Germany to agree to demands from Washington that will destroy their economy. Maybe it has been made clear to them that if they don’t play along, the funds they have in American banks will be stolen just as certainly as Russia’s funds were taken.

          Reply
      3. Basil Pesto

        Taibbi’s on sabbatical from the podcast doing a book about this.

        It’s a worthy subject, really, though I suspect at the moment Taibbi has the thin end of the wedge of the SARS2/Covid story (cf GM’s regular contributions here)

        Reply
    3. Darthbobber

      Its a measure of how ludicrous our governance has become that such spending debacles routinely go forward with minimal to no pretense of oversight or controls.

      Reply
    4. Glossolalia

      As Pelosi pointed out, the Gospel of Matthew says ‘When I was hungry, you fed me,’ and it doesn’t say anything about oversight.

      Reply
  7. fresno dan

    https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2022/06/how-reliable-is-forensic-science/629632/?utm_source=feed
    In 1993, 12 years after the crime, James Parsons was indicted for the murder of his wife. The largely circumstantial case rested in no small part on G. Michele Yezzo—that is, on her credibility as an expert, including her unverifiable memory of what she may have seen when she conducted her experiment.

    Because his conviction rested substantially on Yezzo’s testimony, the Innocence Project requested her personnel file from the Bureau of Criminal Investigation. “It was really just a Hail Mary,” Donald Caster, a professor at the University of Cincinnati College of Law and a staff attorney at the Ohio Innocence Project, told me recently. The legal team, he said, had noticed “squirrelly things” in a couple of other Yezzo cases. In early 2015, the Innocence Project received the bureau’s personnel file—all 449 pages of it. “People just don’t have personnel files that are hundreds of pages long,” Caster noted. “It’s not really a thing.”
    …..
    The deeper issue with forensic science lies not in malfeasance or corruption—or utter incompetence—but in the gray area where Yezzo can be found. Her alleged personal problems are unusual: Only because of them did the details of her long career come to light. And yet the career itself is not as unusual as one might wish. It highlights how tenuous many forensic findings can be; how easy it is for prosecutors to make them appear solid to a jury; how closely some analysts work with law-enforcement colleagues, to the point of alignment; how rarely an analyst’s skills are called into question in court; and how seldom the performance of crime labs is subjected to any true oversight.
    ===============================================
    I get the impression bad forensic techs don’t get fired for the same reason bad cops don’t get fired – their bosses think they are doing a good job…

    Reply
    1. hunkerdown

      Drug labs produce drugs. Analogously, and not all that surprisingly, crime labs produce crime.

      Reply
    2. Nestor

      Mediocrity rises to the top…

      “Accordingly, it is deeply troubling that in 2005 District Attorney Harris ignored the recommendation of her own assistant district attorneys that she adopt a “Brady policy” of “disclos[ing] past misconduct by law enforcement in order to help ensure defendants received a fair trial”

      “Her decision to do nothing came back to haunt Harris in 2010 when, as the Journal explained, “a San Francisco police crime-lab technician was found to be skimming cocaine from evidence for personal use” that resulted in about 1,000 cases being “dismissed or dropped because of tainted drug tests.” San Francisco Superior Court judge Anne-Christine Massullo castigated Harris for failing to “have in place policies and procedures designed to discover and produce exculpatory information” and failing “to produce exculpatory information actually in” the district attorney’s “possession” about the rogue lab tech. After a judicial reprimand, 1,000 criminal cases terminated, and unfavorable media coverage, Harris finally “scrambled to pull together a Brady policy.”

      https://www.nationalreview.com/2019/06/kamala-harris-record-district-attorney-san-francisco/

      Reply
    3. jrkrideau

      If you look at a lot of forensic “science” it looks to be about as reliable and valid as astrology. The US National Research Council has one or two reports on this. I can remember the Expert Committees, or what they are named, sounding shell-shocked at each forensic “science” they reviewed.

      Strengthening forensic science in the United States: a path forward ISBN 978-0-309-13135-3 is one from 2009.

      Reply
  8. fresno dan

    America Must Embrace the Goal of Ukrainian Victory Alexander Vindman, Foreign Affairs
    Uh, maybe, just maybe, Trump was right about this guy???

    Reply
      1. Screwball

        And he should take all his PMC worshipers with him. I used to think the democrats were the anti-war party. I guess when they welcomed the likes of Vindman and the Lincoln Project pedos, along with Billy “warmonger” Kristol into the party they forgot that part.

        Reply
        1. Henry Moon Pie

          McGovern was but a “One Bright, Shining Moment” in a history otherwise described not so unfairly by Bob Dole as “Democrat wars.”

          (And if you check out the link, it’s sad to see how some of the people involved in the making of that movie have become what the fought against.)

          Reply
    1. CaliDan

      FFS. “Those worried about escalation with Russia must understand that the risks of a Ukrainian victory are greatly exaggerated. The risks of a Ukrainian loss are far greater and would entail irreversible damage to the liberal order, international law, security norms, and global stability.”

      Wow. He’s willing to risk the consequences of the first sentence for the second: the same liberal order which continues to work so well for everybody; the same international law which steadfastly prosecutes crimes both swiftly and equally; the same security norms which f’ing got Ukraine into this mess in the first place; and the same global security which [redacted by the CIA].

      In other words, more nazis, more war and more of the same. Gotcha.

      Reply
  9. Wukchumni

    A California coastal panel on Wednesday rejected a long-standing proposal to build a $1.4b seawater desalination plant to turn Pacific Ocean water into drinking water as the state grapples with persistent drought that is expected to worsen in coming years with climate change.

    The state’s Coastal Commission voted unanimously to deny a permit for Poseidon Water to build a plant to produce 50 million gallons of water a day in Huntington Beach, southeast of Los Angeles.

    More than two decades ago, Poseidon proposed building two desalination plants — the one in San Diego County, and one in Huntington Beach. The San Diego County plant was approved and built, and desalinated water now accounts for 10% of San Diego County Water District ’s water supplies.

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/may/13/california-desalination-plant-huntington-beach
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    All the water you could ever want and not a drop fit to drink (aside from Tijuana-adjacent) is how we roll in Cali. Perhaps the most punishing year of any drought in the state in the past century has prompted us to use 19% more water than usual.

    Not that it would have made a difference in the short term, as it takes many years to bring a desalination plant online.

    Reply
    1. Polar Socialist

      They should have proposed to build it on Guntingtonsky Beach, Ukraine. Permit and funding forthcoming right there.

      Reply
    2. Socal Rhino

      Been following this in local news. Seems there were specific issues with this specific site, scale, design, and the experience of huge cost overruns at the Carlsbad plant built by Poseidon. Meanwhile the same coastal commission gave a round one green light to a smaller plant and different design for implementation further south in Orange County, one that my city is looking to be a partner to, with popular support.

      Reply
      1. anon in so cal

        “Poseidon has spent $839,000 on lobbying for this project, with $575,000 of that sum going to Axiom Advisors.

        Jason Kinney, the French Laundry birthday boy and Gavin Newsom’s pal is a principal.

        Let me begin by saying that desalination may have a role to play in addressing California’s long-running water shortage issues. After all, we’ve got a 1,100-mile coastline in a drought-stricken state, and it’s only natural to think: Hey, let’s just stick a straw in the ocean, and our rabid thirst will be quenched once and for all.

        But desalination comes with many costs, including big hits to the environment and ratepayer pocketbooks. And as Susan Jordan, executive director of the California Coastal Protection Network, puts it, we need to temper our lust for what seems an easy fix.
        “Desalination is the last place you want to go,” said Jordan. “Conservation, recycling — those are better alternatives. Rainwater capture. There are many things that should come before desalination, because it has the worst impacts on the atmosphere and on the ocean.”

        And yet the administration of Newsom, who sells himself as an environmentalist and conservationist, seems hell-bent on promoting the Huntington Beach desalination plant — carrying water, so to speak, for well-connected corporate power player Poseidon Water.

        Meanwhile, emails reveal that Poseidon has inserted itself into staff review of the project, so much so that it’s fair to ask if state regulators are doing their jobs or rolling over.
        ….despite mitigation plans by Poseidon, sucking water out of the ocean would have a significant impact on microscopic marine life, and that because desalination plants burn megawatts of electricity, the project would be counterproductive to the state’s carbon control objectives.
        So why go ahead with it?
        There’s no good reason other than corporate profiteering at public expense. Poseidon saw an ocean of money, and the state has done nothing but clear the way for the company to cash in….

        https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2021-03-06/desalination-plant-poseidon-newsom-environment

        Reply
    3. Anthony G Stegman

      If only we all drove electric vehicles. If only we converted our energy grid to 100% renewables. If only we built a string of water desalinization plants along the coast. Then we could all maintain our comfortable lifestyles in a “sustainable” manner. Dream on. Gag me with a spoon. Learn to live with less. Is that too much to ask?

      Reply
    4. Reaville

      Wukchumni: First, I’ve really enjoyed your posts. I recently moved from the foothills east of Sacramento and have been a hiker in the area, much to my family’s enjoyment. I was up in Tahoe in April and saw the devastation of Horse Tail Falls area from last year’s fire, so that’s a hike gone for the rest of my life (I’m 64). Don’t stop writing about your travels!

      On the desalination plant denial: I saw the argument at Carlsbad go from “no way, too expensive, but the environment, we have rights on the Colorado” to “Thank God”. I think Huntington Beach will be in the same category. It’s not a perfect solution, but it is a kind of solution. California is really in trouble regarding water supplies and to not take action is unwise.

      I moved up to the PNW where it rains a lot and water is not currently a problem. I’ve noticed a real reduction in stress so maybe I’m one of those who gets stressed over climate change.

      Reply
      1. Angie Neer

        Welcome to the PNW, Reaville. Lots of good hiking up here, too. And I know what you mean about climate-change stress levels. Just don’t look too closely at the situation on the east side of the Cascades, where there’s intensive desert farming not unlike California!

        Reply
      2. Wukchumni

        Reaville, i’m glad you enjoy my ramblings on the keyboard and trail…

        Tomorrow’s hike is to the Diamond (18th largest tree in the world) & AD (23rd largest) Trees in the Atwell Grove in Mineral King, which burned in the KNP Fire last fall.

        I’m hiking with my buddy, whose mission has been to visit the largest 100 Sequoia trees, and we’re both wondering how the pair fared?

        It’s all steep off-trail and the area seemed to get really burned up, so it’ll be tantamount to walking up a really dirty sand dune if there is the typical 4-6 inches of ash to traipse through, could be quite a slog.

        The objects of our desire, how they used to look:

        http://famousredwoods.com/diamond/

        http://famousredwoods.com/above_diamond/

        Reply
  10. Alyosha

    The FP article is shockingly level-headed for where it was published. The Vindman article on the other hand is just weird in its refusal to accept any degree of reality. As for the Axios piece, it seems that the vast majority of destruction is occurring in areas that won’t be part of Ukraine after the conflict so it’s not really a matter of concern. Unless the position of Vindman and Zelensky are realized and all of eastern and southern Ukraine are recaptured.

    Of course we’re kind of through the looking glass when the Commerce Secretary tells Congress that tech sanctions implemented <100 days ago have already reduced russian weapons being used in Ukraine to relying on "washing machine" chips. Who knew that the Russian arms industry operated literally on JIT principles. Or for that matter that the CoJCoS (Milley) is telling people that "mariupol" is still being bombed when the only area of significant military activity is a steel plant and Russia's use of hypersonic missiles shows that it is out of high tech munitions.

    I'm constantly left wondering whether these people believe what they're saying or are consciously lying.

    Reply
    1. super extra

      I assume a lot of it is projection. Who’s been reduced to relying on washing machine chips? USA, USA, USA!

      Reply
      1. Fritzi

        Even if true, which is of course unlikely, and the Russians were making things work as they do (aka pretty damn well) with washing machine chips, that would kinda be a (further) sign that the US is indeed for the most part just wasting their vaunted war budget on those super duper hi-tech toys.

        Reply
        1. OnceWereVirologist

          There was a RUSI thinktank report linked here a while ago that analyzed a captured Russian electronic warfare radio station as containing dozens of parts from Germany, the US, and South Korea. The parts were things like 8-bit microcontrollers, DDR1 RAM, various odds and sods electronic components (diodes, resistors, oscillators) and a 20+ year old model of graphics card. Not likely to find a graphics card in a washing machine but it might well have the microcontrollers and the odds-and-sods. And the actual manufacture of these low-end Western-branded components is probably sub-contracted out to a no-name factory in China which Russia could potentially contract with directly. So the conclusion that Russian military manufacturers would struggle under sanctions as the report indicated didn’t exactly strike me as conclusively proven.

          Reply
        1. dftbs

          “We Must Make Sure Russia Finishes This War in a Worse Position Than Before”, I dont know about Russia, but I’m pretty sure we’re scr*w*d.

          Reply
    2. Brian (another one they call)

      They have been consciously lying all of my life so I don’t expect anything to change unless reality moseys in the day before collapse. I have been well served not to believe anything said by my government. My hesitancy has been confirmed, over and over and over. Think to yourselves about the amount of times your life was in danger due to the decisions made by your government. Now the Pfizer docs are showing they meant to kill and make a lot of money doing so. How does that set with everyone?

      Reply
    3. jrkrideau

      Afghan Papers anyone? I have not read them but the reports are not good on the “Truth” side.

      OTOH, I really think some of them really believe the Ukrainian briefings and thus do believe what they are saying.

      Reply
    4. hunkerdown

      “Washing machine chips” is playing to the #resistance neckbeards and SF/fantasy fandom, many of whom work directly with intellectual property in some fashion. These are the same people who, for the same reasons, deem Russians uncultured “orcs” for not subordinating themselves to self-superior Western values.

      Power is the ability to lie. Message discipline is a form of psychopathic power not far from a trance state. Vindman is rehearsing name, rank and serial number, as he was taught, and as will undoubtedly serve him well in the war crimes tribunal his entire life is leading up to.

      Reply
      1. Eureka Springs

        I have two friends with less than one year old 1200.00 plus washers with chips which do not work. They all have recent model AC/Stoves and other things with chips which are dead as well. There is a sucker born every war and rinse cycle.

        Reply
      2. Reaville

        Many years ago, when I was in the USAF, our foreign exploitation technical guys got hold of some “advanced” Soviet weapons. They found Nintendo game controllers in some of them (as my memory serves). The Soviets ideologically got way behind in computers. After the communists “left”, there was no genuine attempt to get competitive. There is one manufacturer, JSC Mikron, which is the commercialized entity coming out of a military research institute. The chips they make are obsolete by nearly two decades and are mainly intended for the military. TSMC provides most of Russia’s high tech chips which are designed in Russia. Weapons need chips for trajectory and guidance. Some of those require GPS (GLONASS in Russia) chips/circuits which are hard to make. It is entirely possible that Russia has a supply chain problem for chips and based on their history, I would be surprised if they did not. They are nowhere near self-reliant on chips.

        Hint: Neither are we. The USAF gets parts from China, apparently. This is surprising bordering on unreal because mil-spec electronics have to be EMP resistant which is not generally available without a special manufacturing process. For this to have been “out-sourced” is the brainchild of a military complex that is not serious about war fighting, but totally serious about profit. Shocked face (sarc).

        Summary: entirely possible that Russia will not be able to sustain weapons manufacture due to chip shortages. This situation is likely common around the world, but Russia’s problem is immediate due to weapons stocks getting used up.

        Reply
  11. fresno dan

    https://foreignpolicy.com/2022/05/11/us-russia-war-ukraine-democracy-autocracy/
    Outside of Western European allies and longtime U.S. partners such as Japan, much of the rest of the world simply isn’t signing on. Problem one: Most of these countries either aren’t democracies or are so deeply flawed as democracies that they’re less than inspired by the rhetoric. Problem two: In the eyes of much of the world, the country that’s doing the preaching—the United States—is a badly broken democracy that ought to heal itself first.
    ================================
    The type of criticism of the US in this article is akin to how one answers a job interviewer about one’s own flaws, “I care too much and I work too hard”
    In these mainstream publications, one will never see a truly scathing, but accurate and true, litany of all the problems the US has caused, and why so many countries are wary of US interventions abroad. Has any US intervention in the last 50 years (other than leaving) made most inhabitants of a country better off?

    Reply
    1. Questa Nota

      Those mainstream publications like FP, FA and WTF learned early on their lessons in goal alignment. They purported to be objective, with the long think-pieces and obligatory nods toward revered scholarly or diplomatic figures. Staying on-message, based on their priors, was the unwritten editorial policy for the august, weighty journals. A reader needed to research the board and funders to learn more about unwritten directives.

      On the lighter side of the printed world, even the NYT managed to bury the lede, at least on occasion, for those who could stand reading down 10 or 15 paragraphs to find out the revelation. That allowed them to assert that they had, indeed, Your Honor, covered the news. Hardly confidence-inspiring, and not much progress from the salad days of Pulitzer, Hearst, Duranty and so many others in the pantheon of, well, advertiser attraction.

      Trade one funding source for another, wholesale for retail.

      Reply
    2. Darthbobber

      Its hard to (in reality) counterpose democracy to autocracy if you’re going to cast Ukraine as the first and the Russian Federation as the second. Having actually paid attention to how democracy functions in Ukraine (robust secret police, internment without trial, confiscation of tv, radio and press with merely a presidential decree, banning of opposition parties, assassinations, routine allegations of treason and coup plotting against political rivals, etc etc, never mind the bizarre events that surrounded Saakashvili’s time there), “flawed” is an understatement. Maybe a flawed democracy in the way that the Thieu-Ky regime was “flawed.”

      On the “flawed democracy” totem pole, the Russian Federation could probably be ranked above Ukraine by any objective metric you might come up with. Hungary under Orban is vastly more democratic than Ukraine, for all the ranting about Orban’s authoritarianism.

      But then, if Generalissimo Chiang, Nguyen van Thieu and the Shah could represent the “free world” no reacon why _elensky can’t.

      Reply
  12. The Rev Kev

    “Global wheat crop likely to fall for first time in four years, US forecasts”

    Not looking good for world wheat supplies, especially when you read that wheat crops on India and France are also coming under the hammer. Fortunately there is one country that is expecting a bumper crop – Russia as it turns out. I expect though that this wheat will be reserved for ‘friendly’ countries but if the west tries to sanction or stop wheat ships sailing from Russia to go to other countries, there will be hell to pay. So of course I am expecting some stupid law to be passed trying to do precisely that-

    https://www.rt.com/business/555364-russia-record-wheat-harvest/

    Reply
  13. Mikel

    “Measuring COVID-19 Effects: Southern Baptists Report 19% Attendance Drop”

    The church going population was already aging and fading.
    The entire article mages not to mention EXACTLY how Covid has contributed. Say it outloud: it accelerated the death of attendees.
    Say it: Covid, an airborne disease, has killed and is killing large numbers of the church going demographic.

    Reply
    1. Wukchumni

      Dogma had it’s day, but you can plainly see its on the outs except for older Americans such as Nancy who suddenly got religion.

      Who knows how many parishioners perished on account of the plague, i’d think it was more the account of falling out of the habit of doing something you used to do.

      Reply
      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        We’ve already seen drops in mainline protestant and catholic (masked by immigration) attendence prior to Covid. Without 9 to 5 hours, people who have to work can’t go to church.

        Religious fervor ebbs and flows, but if church is a hassle, good bye.

        Reply
      2. TwylahDawn

        Church secretary here. Our small community in Colorado is hanging in there, many of our folks are older and are getting used to participating on-line. Our mission in Covid has shifted to make (masked) visits to our home-bound friends and their neighbors, some are pretty isolated.

        Reply
    2. LaRuse

      My Mom’s Southern Baptist church lost 23 members last year to…well, no one would admit to COVID, but there sure were a lot of “pneumonia” deaths in her church in 2021. Every death was someone over 65, but probably 75% of the membership is over 60. Fewer deaths in 2022 so far, but she’s been to at least 3 funerals since January so far.
      The pastor’s wife (who is at least young, but has 4 kids) has COVID right now, and was of course at church on Wednesday evening this week, unmasked, because God wills it, or whatever. Mom went to church, but she is one of the only ones still masking. This is her pastor’s family’s third go with COVID as far as I can count. It killed his dad and his grandma, but if God wanted us to have masks, we would have been born with them, right?

      Reply
      1. HotFlash

        I have found that replying, “If God had wanted us to wear clothes…” will terminate that line of argument.

        Reply
    3. nippermom

      Prior to Covid, I was not only a weekly attendee at Sunday Mass, but I sang in the choir. I haven’t attended Mass, much less joined in the potential super-spreader event of singing in a group in a confined interior space, in two years.

      I don’t doubt some–or even a large percentage– of the fall-off in attendance is due to the circumstances you ascribe it to, but while I realize my personal experience is not data,it seems unlikely I am the only person who has decided to forego large gatherings of people for prolonged periods in enclosed spaces for any reason, including church attendance.

      Reply
    1. Questa Nota

      In the fine print, they say that you have to cross your eyes and slowly back up from the photo to see the image.

      Reply
  14. The Rev Kev

    “Water may have been on Mars much more recently than scientists thought, China’s rover suggests”

    Water on Mars only 700 million years ago? That does not sound that long ago. So what was happening on Earth while this was going on? Well, Earth was a block of ice back then so it was in a way more hostile to life than Mars was then-

    https://www.news18.com/news/buzz/earth-was-turned-into-a-snowball-700-million-years-ago-because-of-low-sunlight-2741851.html

    Reply
  15. Marti61

    The US play book for commodities has been to keep the prices below the cost of production thru market intimidation or out right invasion. Russia having both oil and wheat and an army to defend same from transnational companies is a new wrinkle. Has certainly helped the price of wheat here in the US, wheat up to $11.95 bu in south central Kansas, compared to $6 something last year at this time. Still, even at that price level, the cost of the wheat in a one pound loaf of bread is about 20 cents in your $5 loaf…..

    Reply
  16. LawnDart

    On biometric security:

    In new-age data theft, fraudsters steal thumb prints from land registries

    Fraudsters are stealing data, including thumb prints, from land registries on Haryana’s land records website to create duplicate prints on silicon, and committing fraud by withdrawing money from the Aadhaar-linked bank accounts of victims.

    https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/in-new-age-data-theft-fraudsters-steal-thumb-prints-from-land-registries-7914530/

    Well, at least they’re not lopping-off hands for print-comparisons or popping-out eyeballs to scan the iris, so it certainly could be worse…

    Reply
      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > digitalizing all these services was not worth the convenience.

        In this country, no. In “less developed” countries, very much worth it. Banking, shopping, communication, family ties from up-country to city — all mediated by cellphones,

        If I were king, I’d abolish cellphones in the United States tomorrow; everything worked fine when we didn’t have them. But the rest of the world? I can’t see it.

        Reply
        1. digi_owl

          I think the real problem is not phone vs no phone, but national network vs international internet.

          To use those services, one has to be a customer with the telco running the network. Thus they can isolate outside attackers etc.

          Oh so many attacks right now comes down to everything being hooked up to the globally routed TCP/IP network known as the internet.

          Thus someone sitting in a jurt in inner Mongolia can perform identity fraud against some grandma in Iowa.

          All because someone sipping a martini on their vacation patio in Florida has to be able to electronically sign some paperwork in Seattle.

          Reply
  17. The Rev Kev

    “Russia Cannot Be Allowed to Say It Has Won This War”

    This is kinda sad reading this. Let’s look at the present situation. For the Russian Federation, it quickly became an existential war. The so-called west tried to go nuclear on their country and their economy to impoverish them to encourage regime change. Michael Hudson has spoken how the plan was to break the country up into four or five smaller countries for resource-extraction. But Russia came right back and it is stronger than ever. There is now a Petro-Ruble, the Ruble is now stronger than before the war, the people are united together so that support for Putin and the war is over 80% and they are winning in the Ukraine. For the Russians, finishing this war is now a matter of “whatever it takes.”

    As for the “west” aka the US, the EU plus a few vassal states it has also become an existential fight. But existential in how western, neoliberal leaders conceive of fighting it. And for them, it is always about money. Think about it. Sanction attacks? Money. Tens of billions of dollars to the Ukraine? Money. Stealing hundreds of billions of dollars of Russia’s wealth? Money. Stealing Russian billionaire’s mega-yachts and homes? Money. Hundreds of thousands of tons of military gear to the Ukraine? Money (in replacement contracts). For them, it is always about money and they can no longer conceive of a people fighting for any other reason. When this does not work for these leaders, they sit around spluttering that this does not compute. Why doesn’t Russia quit? Why aren’t they losing with all the money that we sent? It’s not fair!

    I think that Nigel Gould-Davies is in for a very bad time as all his ideas and theories will be trashed by reality. And so will for all those in the circles that he mixes on. Will there be a radical reform of diplomatic circles, think tanks and the like to bring in realistic people? I wouldn’t get my hopes up. This crowd has only two rules-

    Rule 1 – If things go wrong, double down.

    Rule 2 – If things blow up in your face, see Rule 1.

    And both Biden and Boris are past masters at this approach.

    Reply
    1. Jacob Hatch

      “Russia Cannot Be Allowed to Say It Has Won This War”

      This is about wealth transfer, ask Hunter. So it will be made to go on for as long as possible, there is no patriotism among the Pelosi/Biden and their billionaire patrons/owners. Oddly enough, some of this wealth transfer is also benefiting Russia, all the crisis that benefits USA Big Ag, Big Oil, Commodities and MIC benefit their equivalents in Russia, and in the case of oil, many commodities, and agriculture, benefit Russia to a greater degree. Hence good luck trying to find an light shining between the Bear and the Dragon, which is firmly planted on the Russia teat. Hence one could be excused for speculating that Putin’s order to go slow at the Fortress Cities isn’t just because he wants to save lives. After all, the sanctions will not go away after the war is won, but a return to stability might just reduce that profit spread in oil, agricultural, and other commodity products that dampen their pain on Russia and intensify them on the West. Make hay while the sun shines, and hope the sunburn makes your opponent less agile.

      Let me keep my tinfoil hat off for a moment longer. Perhaps Russia (aka Putin’s admin) has been going easy on the EU because they hopes an internal revolt will eventually poison EU leaders latched onto a sustaining American corruption teat, and EU peoples off of the USA’s domination. After all two can play at colour revolutions. A wholesome EU is useful in this case, no? If this is so, he probably wants make the embrace of the bear less frightening to encourage this development. When we see the real wrecking ball come out, that will be my guess as to when he’s really written off the EU. Better to have a enemy burnt to the ground, nay to the roots, if they can’t constrain their hostility. Now, where did I put that hat. Tin foil is a lot more expensive than that Aluminum dross.

      Reply
      1. Alice X

        A girlfriend and I often go to a local park on a lake with a boardwalk around a bay. We always look for the turtles sunning. They are very sweet.

        Reply
  18. LawnDart

    Sweet Jesus.

    The Al Jazeera reporter who was gunned-down was burried today. All I can say is at least Israel didn’t lift a page from Obama’s playbook and send in the drones to pay their respects, but this is horrible enough– check-out the video:

    Shireen Abu Akleh: Israeli forces assault mourners carrying casket ahead of burial

    Israeli forces fired stun grenades and assaulted mourners carrying the coffin of slain journalist Shireen Abu Akleh outside a Jerusalem hospital on Friday, ahead of her funeral service and burial in the Old City.

    https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/shireen-abu-akleh-funeral-israel-forces-assault-mourners

    Reply
    1. jrkrideau

      What was that?

      I hope the Canadian Government presses for an inquiry.

      The IDF statements so far do not reassure me.

      Reply
    2. DJG, Reality Czar

      LawnDart: Thanks for this, as disturbing as the video is. That image of the police attacking the pallbearers is hard to take.

      I read an interview with Palestinian writer Suad Amiry, published in today’s LaStampa. Amiry also mentioned how important Shireen Abu Akleh was as a journalist much relied-upon by Palestinians, as someone who had forged her own career. Right now, I’d be hard-pressed to mention any U.S. journalist who receives such respect for years of work.

      Amiry also mentioned that Abu Akleh’s brother had been dragged in for questioning before the funeral, which is the purest of human-rights abuse.

      Like cutting down families’ olive groves.

      Yet the U.S. elites (and the addled U.S. State Department) would have us believe that the Palestinians are just a bunch of crazies with attitude problems (like the mysterious Iranians and the mad Russians).

      And these are the stories that the famously brave U.S. press corps is too terrified to cover.

      Reply
    3. lyman alpha blob

      I was emailing a friend earlier today mentioning that this story seemed to be memory-holed by the mainstream press already since I saw no mention on the homepage of CNN or MSNBC. He emailed me an hour or so later with a CNN homepage screenshot mentioning the funeral story, so I stood corrected. But then I checked CNN an hour later, that story was gone from their homepage even though all the other headlines that had been near it earlier were still there, so it didn’t just scroll off the page as new stories were added. Very curious – either the algorithm that displays headlines works in extremely mysterious ways, or someone pulled the story from the homepage.

      Reply
  19. Matthew G. Saroff

    Regarding the Ruble, it appears that the Sanctions Brigade in the US foreign policy “Blob” could be replaced with bobble head dolls with no change in effectiveness.

    Reply
    1. jrkrideau

      Pet rocks should suffice.

      Sanctions have worked so well in Cuba, Venezuela, Iran, etc. and Russia why would not work now? What is really amazing is that the bobble-heads did not seem to know what key items Russia exports.

      Patrick Armstrong has been saying for years that Washington knows nothing about modern Russia. Obama claiming Putin was head of the KGB was one of his examples I believe.

      One more example to add to his collection.

      Reply
    2. DJG, Reality Czar

      Matthew G. Saroff: Effectiveness.

      Think of it this way: The sanctions regime is modeled after the traditional mean-girls’ clique of the typical U.S. high school. Madeline Albright: Thousands of Iraqi children dead, plus the State Department turned into U.S. High School. A triumph!

      Lest one think that mean-girls’ cliques don’t exist, one only has to work for a while in a U.S. office, where the mean-girls’ clique, in oscillation with the old-boys’ network, together help to wreck the organization.

      But the Christmas Party is always nice, if you can get yourself seated at the right table.

      And Zelensky, on world tour with Victoria Nuland, knows exactly how to play into the power dynamic of the cliques.

      Reply
  20. Bsn

    Regarding trade with the EU. I propose Oil for Formula. We feed the US and Euro Oligarchs with petrodollars and they feed our youngest children with baby formula. Deal? C’mon, be nice.

    Reply
  21. Jason Boxman

    These people are ducking nuts. NY Times headline writer:

    As the World Tries to Move Beyond Covid, China May Stand in the Way

    Xi Jinping has redoubled his country’s efforts to control the coronavirus even as a growing number of leaders call on Beijing to change course.

    (headline bold mine)

    And what is all this rage about?

    This week, the World Health Organization called China’s current pandemic strategy “unsustainable.” An economist summarized it as “zero movement, zero G.D.P.” Multinational companies have grown wary of further investments in the country.

    Oh, because markets, go die. Duh.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2022/05/13/business/china-zero-covid-xi.html

    Reply
  22. lyman alpha blob

    Evidence of war crimes or bad propaganda? I’m interested in what others think of this video I ran across on CNN purporting to show Russian soldiers shooting civilians – https://www.cnn.com/videos/world/2022/05/11/surveillance-video-russian-forces-sidner-pkg-lead-vpx.cnn

    At the 2:05 mark the narrator says that one of the men who was shot gets up “minutes later”, but if they had been lying on the ground for minutes after a bullet wound, wouldn’t there be pooled blood on the ground? Several years ago I had the misfortune of walking into the aftermath of an outdoor murder scene and there was definitely blood by the body. I have zero professional video analytical skills, so maybe I’m missing something, but I don’t see any blood on the ground, even in the shadows. Then at the 2:53 mark, some blood shows up indoors.

    So is this real and I’m missing something, or does Uncle Sugar need to add a larger special effects line item to the aid going to Ukraine so they can produce better propaganda videos?

    Reply
    1. OnceWereVirologist

      The video shows near the beginning a white panel van marked up with “V”s – presumably these “soldiers” transport. I guess it’s possible that these soldiers had a breakdown or something and commandeered a civilian vehicle but riding around in hostile territory in something unarmoured while advertising yourself as Russian seems very odd and not quite believable.

      Reply
    2. Dave in Austin

      I’m wary of these videos but here are two points on this one.

      First, the guys are putting clothing on in mid-day while the Russian soldiers are banking on trying to get in (the split screen segment). Were they getting out of some form of uniform?

      Second, when the Russians turn around and shoot they both shoot very low. Notice the “puffs” where the bullets hit the ground? VEry close to the guys getting hit.

      But lyman has a point; absolutely no blood on the ground. And when the guy hobbles-in to the office to make a call, I don’t see any blood on the floor either. But a bit later there is a lot of blood smeared on the floor. Is there a missing segment?

      I took this to be a real war crime, especially because of his wife’s comments. I still think it probably is but now I’m not absolutely positive. We’ve all seem to much pure fabrication to really trust anything from either side.

      One other oddity in retrospect. No time codes on the videos, which is very unusual for a commercial establishment.

      Reply
  23. Skip Intro

    long COVID after infection with the Omicron variant

    Is this suspicious:

    The odds of reporting long COVID symptoms four to eight weeks after a first coronavirus infection were 49.7% lower in infections compatible with the Omicron BA.1 variant than those compatible with the Delta variant among adults who were double-vaccinated when infected; this was after adjusting for socio-demographic characteristics.
    However, there was no statistical evidence of a difference in risk between first infections compatible with the Delta and Omicron BA.1 variants among triple-vaccinated adults; the socio-demographically adjusted prevalence of self-reported long COVID was 8.5% for Delta and 8.0% for Omicron BA.1.

    Were double-vaccinated protected against omicron vs delta more than triple vaccinated?

    Reply
    1. Jacob Hatch

      I could be reading it wrong but it seems:

      item one discusses long covid risk rate among the already infected.
      item two discusses risk rate of (initial)infection

      Different parts of immunity at work in each section.

      Reply
      1. Skip Intro

        I was taking the word ‘risk’ in item two to refer to “the odds of reporting… after a first coronavirus infection” from item one, with the first infection being a common qualifier for both results. i.e. they systematically exclude reinfections from both cases. I am still inclined to this interpretation, but the result does seem odd.

        Reply
  24. lyman alpha blob

    RE: the bezzle and stablecoin meltdown

    If I’m understanding all this correctly, the purpose of a “stablecoin” is to facilitate the buying and selling of other cryptocurrencies so that people don’t have to exchange crypto for US$ every time they want to do a transaction, which would presumably incur fees. So far so good, at least in principle (but of course the principles underlying crypto in general are extremely unsound).

    What I can’t grok about these “stablecoins” is how the issuers expect to make any money off them, since by design the value isn’t supposed to change, and according to the articles in today’s links, the issuers of these “stablecoins” pay interest to the holders of them. So do they make money by hoping that the value of the crypto linked to the “stablecoins” goes up at a higher rate than the interest paid out? Or do they hope to just rip the face off of gullible “investors”? Or perhaps both?

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > What I can’t grok about these “stablecoins” is how the issuers expect to make any money off them, since by design the value isn’t supposed to change

      “If you come to us with a twenty dollar bill, we can give you two tens.”

      Reply
      1. lyman alpha blob

        Bwaaaaahaha! Priceless (so to speak!) – I can’t believe that skit didn’t occur to me when I posted my comment.

        Reply
  25. Art_DogCT

    Us’n’s in the Nutmeg State were treated the other day to none other than Lech Walesa holding forth on how Neoliberalism is on the cusp of global victory, and that we only need unity to defeat Russia in general and detail to open up a new era.

    “It’s not enough for Ukraine to defeat Russia militarily,” Walesa said at a conversation sponsored by the World Affairs Council of Connecticut. “Unless we really put the right order in Russia, Russia will rise up within five to 10 years and will constitute a threat to democracy again.”

    Even the complete reformation of Russia is not enough progress for Walesa, president of Poland from 1990 to 1995. No, the visionary of revolution, acknowledging that role without false modesty, declared the world is on the cusp of a “new era” — driven by technology, unfettered by national interests, based on neither communism nor capitalism, but built on free markets.

    Several rough chuckles in this article, like

    Attorney Peter G. Kelly, chairman of the World Affairs Council and retired from Updike, Kelly & Spellacy, helped write the post-Soviet Polish constitution during Walesa’s presidency and helped former Russian president Boris Yeltsin reform the judiciary, only to see Vladimir Putin undo the reforms.

    Things were sure on the right track under Yeltsin! Damn that Party Pooper Putin! The writer, Dan Harr, usually reports/opines about CT state affairs. Disappointing he couldn’t restrain his fanboy enthusiasms when he got the chance to rub shoulders with counterrevolutionary celebrities. #ItsAWonderfulWorld

    https://www.ctinsider.com/columnist/article/Haar-Lech-Walesa-CT-U-S-Russia-invasion-Poland-17164420.php

    Reply
    1. Dave in Austin

      I saw him speak at the University of Texas a week ago, so he must be making the rounds. Here what he said was even more radical; once the Ukriane is saved the “Russian Federation” must break up it its constituent, ethnic parts. I was going to write on theis for NC but I was waiting for the organizers to post the video on the wed site.

      At UT he called both the American and Russian “empires” (he spoke in Polish with a local translator and the Polish word sounds like “im-peer-a”. The translator changed the US to “nation” or :”country”.

      I wonder who’s funding his tour?

      Reply
      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > once the Ukriane is saved the “Russian Federation” must break up it its constituent, ethnic parts.

        This has been an option for The Blob for quite some time. From a review of Brzezinski’s Game Plan:

        But Brzezinski does not spell out how he expects the Soviet Union to react to these developments. He appears to think that it will grudgingly concede its loss of global power as long as its immediate security interests go unthreatened, which is more or less what one would expect of a sensible Great Power. Surely, however, a reversal of history of such magnitude, unaccountable from the point of view of Marxist theology, would create enormous and possibly unpredictable tensions in the Soviet leadership. Perhaps, in the end, the Soviets could accommodate such a catastrophic deviation front the course of events their beliefs lead them to expect: if so, one would like to know how. In any event, Brzezinski’s coyness about how the game ends, if it ever does, leaves his reader dissatisfied, precisely because of the book’s obviously large ambitions. To say, as he does in his conclusion, that winning is a process, not a result, is to evade the larger question, particularly when he mentions the possibility that a successful U.S.-Soviet competition could conceivably lead to a dissolution of the Great Russian empire.

        Reply
  26. LawnDart

    Reporters really need to view such incidents as “an attack on one is an attack on all,” or quit calling themselves “reporters” or “journalists.” Save those titles for the real deal– words are actually supposed to mean things.

    She had the balls to take risks to get facts, and she took precautions to minimize those risks– I admire her for both her bravery and her dedication to her profession. And it shows what most reporters aren’t– most are friggin obedient cowards who are fearful of uttering a word of offense rather than speak truth.

    Reporters of all stripes should call a strike– a one-day strike, and leave the world in the dark for 24-hours as a reminder of where we would be without the profession. And those who fail to respect the silence, lambasted without mercy.

    Reply
  27. iwasthere

    no inspector indeed. one almost wonders whether or not the current office holdersdidnt take crib notes from IRAQ and the planeloads of pallets of $100 US dollars…this all reeks of end of the roman empire looting

    Reply
  28. Dave in Austin

    Meanwhile back at the real war:

    Nolan Peterson, @nolanwpeterson, a Ukrainian-friendly and usually accurate reporter, quotes a well-known fellow reporter Neil Hauer @NeilPHauer as having Tweeted:

    “Just back from Lysychansk, part of the last sliver of Luhansk oblast still under Ukrainian control. Situation very tough – Russians are pushing the offensive hard here now. City has no water, comms or electricity and artillery and mortar fire is constant.”

    And from May 12: “Spartak, a battalion commander in Severodonetsk across the river, says the fighting is hard. ‘The Russians brought four fresh brigades in recent days, and they out-shell us by 3 to 1.’ Ukrainian forces blew up one of the bridges over the Seversky Donets river yesterday.” and “Most of what I’ve seen suggests they are shifting to focus on Severodonetsk as the RU Izyum offensive stalled.”

    I’m fairly sure these are accurate reports and they mean that the Russians are southwest of the Donets River in force (the May 11th photos of the destroyed Russian pontoon bridge and armored vehicles notwithstanding) and have isolated the defenders of Severodonetsk, a city of 125,000 located on the northeast side of the river (see the Google map of the area). The gap between this Russian advance from the north and the Russian position in the south at Popasna appears to be about 5-9 miles wide and there are no more bridges for the Ukrainians to retreat across. It appears that the defenders of Severodonetsk are trapped.

    It is hard to estimate how many Ukrainian troops are still in Severodonetsk, but there are apparently three battle groups (3,000 men) plus the supporting troops and I assume some territorial forces there. My guess would be 4-5,000 troops are essentially surrounded. Some may get out but not with heavy weapons. But they may have done their job by holding the place long enough for more NATO and US weapons to arrive at the front.

    This is the most important purely military development since the Russians began the offensive in the south two weeks ago.

    Reply
  29. newcatty

    Wondering. If US and NATO state that “Ukraine ” must win the war. That Russia (Putin) must lose the war. How long before more weapons for Ukraine is not enough “support” for the brave Ukrainian forces? If Ukraine forces continues to be injured and killed, right up to last hold outs, and does not have enough soldiers for their forces, would US decide that it’s boots on the ground that is necessary for the good West to win. Would this not fit in with the signaling from our military that there just isn’t any young people fit enough to qualify for “service “? IIRC, some commenter related that about 30 % of young people in country would qualify. Only a small number have any interest in joining now. So, how to get fresh recruits? Military: We regret that the draft is back! Any young person who wishes to serve , before being drafted, join today! America! America! This is your time to defend our Democracy and way of life. Those kids not flocking to join up for “job” or , wow, an inadequate GI bill ! Thinks that lots of young people won’t eat the rotting dog food. Many see that War is a racket and they choose to not be sacrificed for it.

    Reply
  30. lance ringquist

    labeling free trade as investor treaties, lets the crank policy of free trade off of the hook.
    these so called investment treaties are in fact, free trade treaties.

    its naive to think that the world will band together to eliminate these so-called treaties, once capital can cross borders free of democratic control, this pits one country against another.

    when nafta joe biden called for higher world corporate taxes, i laughed, nothing has happened, except in the E.U., four countries said NO!

    the authors are being dishonest.

    Investor-state disputes threaten the global green energy transition

    Reply
  31. NorD94

    San Francisco area, not mandate (yet)

    Bay Area officials urge public to mask indoors amid swell in COVID cases – The Bay Area now has the state’s highest COVID infection rates, fueled by highly contagious omicron subvariants. https://abc7news.com/bay-area-covid-cases-coronavirus-us-surge-san-francisco-paxlovid/11845341/

    Bay Area health officials are urging the public to take safety precautions, including continued indoor masking, amid a swell of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the region. The Bay Area now has the state’s highest COVID infection rates, fueled by highly contagious omicron subvariants.

    San Francisco Health Officer Dr. Susan Philip says, “Wearing a mask in indoor, public settings is a smart move, as is staying up to date on vaccinations and, importantly, having a plan to reach a doctor if you get infected. People who are at high risk of severe illness, or who are in close contact with someone at high risk should be especially vigilant as we get through this current swell in cases.”

    Reply

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