Negotiators are working on a futile pandemic treaty

There is a new blog post entitled, “The hate crime murder of Ahmaud Arbery and the wider problem of social inequality.”


Pandemic

(Inter)national

Apparently, negotiators are working on a ‘pandemic’ treaty to improve international response to pandemics like COVID-19 in the future. But if indeed, “[w]hen threatened, governments don’t often think globally,” but rather, “[t]hey look out for themselves,” and, indeed, “[c]ountries have a habit of ignoring international agreements when it doesn’t suit them — the already-existing 2005 International Health Regulations that set out a new way of responding to outbreaks, albeit with little detail or enforcement, have been repeatedly ignored during the pandemic,” what confidence can we have that they’ll abide by a treaty if one is agreed?[1] Gotta tell ya, this ain’t makin’ a whole lot of sense.


This is, and has been from the beginning, an absolute shitshow.

Adam Taylor, “As omicron variant alarm spreads, countries mull a radical ‘pandemic treaty,’” Washington Post, November 30, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com//world/2021/11/30/omicron-pandemic-treaty-who/


Pennsylvania Republicans

In the wake of Sean Parnell’s withdrawal in the U.S. Senate race,[2] we have Mehmet Oz, better known as Dr. Oz, who I guess really is a medical doctor, but who plays a quack on television. He’s a carpetbagger, but Republicans expect he’ll do well.[3] I would expect Donald Trump to endorse him.

I don’t know what to do about this state. I really don’t.

Trip Gabriel, “Dr. Oz Says He’s Running for Senate in Pennsylvania,” New York Times, November 30, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/30/us/politics/dr-oz-senate-run-pennsylvania.html


Gun nuttery

California’s large-capacity magazine ban, approved by voters in 2016, limits possession to magazines that hold 10 or fewer rounds of ammunition. A district judge and a divided three-judge 9th Circuit panel struck down the law, which Tuesday’s [November 30] ruling revived.[4]

Gun nuts have another case to take to[5] a clearly more sympathetic[6] and likely more activist U.S. Supreme Court.[7] The Court already appears set to strike down New York’s law limiting concealed weapons.[8]

The appeals court ruling in the California case[9] comes on the same day as yet another school shooting. Three students were killed and seven students and one teacher were injured at a Michigan high school,[10] but conservative justices on the Supreme Court seem to be viewing gun rights through a frame of self-defense.[11] If you view the Second Amendment in those terms, I’m just not seeing what the upper limit is here. Never mind about large-capacity magazines.[12] Can you indeed possess nuclear weapons and claim to do so in self-defense? If not, why not? How do you interpret the text of the Amendment to allow such a limit, when the U.S. military possesses those very weapons on, allegedly, those precise grounds?

Omar Abdel-Baqui and Ben Chapman, “Oxford High School Shooting in Michigan Leaves Three Dead, Eight Injured,” Wall Street Journal, November 30, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/michigan-high-school-shooting-leaves-three-dead-six-injured-11638304462

Maura Dolan, “U.S. appeals court upholds California’s ban on large-capacity firearms magazines,” Los Angeles Times, November 30, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2021-11-30/9th-circuit-upholds-key-california-gun-control-law


  1. [1]Adam Taylor, “As omicron variant alarm spreads, countries mull a radical ‘pandemic treaty,’” Washington Post, November 30, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com//world/2021/11/30/omicron-pandemic-treaty-who/
  2. [2]Amy B Wang and Michael Scherer, “Sean Parnell ends Pennsylvania Senate campaign after wife granted sole legal custody of their children,” Washington Post, November 22, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/11/22/sean-parnell-children-custody/
  3. [3]Trip Gabriel, “Dr. Oz Says He’s Running for Senate in Pennsylvania,” New York Times, November 30, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/30/us/politics/dr-oz-senate-run-pennsylvania.html
  4. [4]Maura Dolan, “U.S. appeals court upholds California’s ban on large-capacity firearms magazines,” Los Angeles Times, November 30, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2021-11-30/9th-circuit-upholds-key-california-gun-control-law
  5. [5]Maura Dolan, “U.S. appeals court upholds California’s ban on large-capacity firearms magazines,” Los Angeles Times, November 30, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2021-11-30/9th-circuit-upholds-key-california-gun-control-law
  6. [6]Robert Barnes and Ann E. Marimow, “Majority of Supreme Court appears to think N.Y. gun law is too restrictive,” Washington Post, November 3, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/courts_law/gun-rights-case-supreme-court/2021/11/03/6b9a75d8-3c13-11ec-a493-51b0252dea0c_story.html
  7. [7]Ruth Marcus, “The Rule of Six: A newly radicalized Supreme Court is poised to reshape the nation,” Washington Post, November 28, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/11/28/supreme-court-decisions-abortion-guns-religious-freedom-loom/
  8. [8]Robert Barnes and Ann E. Marimow, “Majority of Supreme Court appears to think N.Y. gun law is too restrictive,” Washington Post, November 3, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/courts_law/gun-rights-case-supreme-court/2021/11/03/6b9a75d8-3c13-11ec-a493-51b0252dea0c_story.html
  9. [9]Maura Dolan, “U.S. appeals court upholds California’s ban on large-capacity firearms magazines,” Los Angeles Times, November 30, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2021-11-30/9th-circuit-upholds-key-california-gun-control-law
  10. [10]Omar Abdel-Baqui and Ben Chapman, “Oxford High School Shooting in Michigan Leaves Three Dead, Eight Injured,” Wall Street Journal, November 30, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/michigan-high-school-shooting-leaves-three-dead-six-injured-11638304462
  11. [11]Robert Barnes and Ann E. Marimow, “Majority of Supreme Court appears to think N.Y. gun law is too restrictive,” Washington Post, November 3, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/courts_law/gun-rights-case-supreme-court/2021/11/03/6b9a75d8-3c13-11ec-a493-51b0252dea0c_story.html
  12. [12]Maura Dolan, “U.S. appeals court upholds California’s ban on large-capacity firearms magazines,” Los Angeles Times, November 30, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2021-11-30/9th-circuit-upholds-key-california-gun-control-law

The Supreme Court will weigh in, potentially risking a backlash

Abortion, Gun nuttery, Voting rights

I am revising again my revised list of issues the Democrats have failed to deal with:

The new entry is gun nuttery.

Ruth Marcus warns that, with a majority of six, conservatives on the Supreme Court are likely to lose patience with an incremental approach toward issues such as abortion, gun nuttery, and voting rights. The only visible restraint will be midterm elections; if the Court moves too rapidly,[2] voter backlash may deliver the Democrats a reprieve from their own failure to deliver.

Ruth Marcus, “The Rule of Six: A newly radicalized Supreme Court is poised to reshape the nation,” Washington Post, November 28, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/11/28/supreme-court-decisions-abortion-guns-religious-freedom-loom/


Academia

Make no mistake: I desperately want to work in academia, but as an academic. This article, while reflective of the larger pressures affecting academia under neoliberal ideology and conservative backlash, is mostly about staff positions,[3] from which there is absolutely no path for advancement to a faculty position such as I would be interested in.

The apartheid within academia, here between staff people and academics, is even more stark than in society generally. Staff people are the help, the servants, hired to keep the mechanics of an institution working, but not really to advance its mission. The department secretary—in my experience, always a woman—for example, is crucial for navigating academic bureaucracy and sometimes the hierarchy; the latter, for example, in the case of a Master’s student whose long-delayed graduation (even longer than mine) was unlikely to be signed off on by the department chair. The secretary waited for the chair to be absent before including that student’s paperwork with others for the dean, who utterly unaware of and unconcerned by the ideological differences that prejudiced that student, to sign off. (This secretary told me she did this with another student’s paperwork; she did not tell me, but I suspect she may have done the same with mine.)

The intellectual discussions I crave are held among faculty, especially tenured faculty, and to a diminished degree with students, never with staff, and it is unlikely, at 62 years of age, I could progress from a staff position to a sufficiently high administrative rank as to once again join in those conversations. It would be worse than the exile I now suffer.

Kevin R. McClure, “Colleges Are Hiring. But Do People Want to Work There?” Chronicle of Higher Education, November 22, 2021, https://www.chronicle.com/article/colleges-are-hiring-but-do-people-want-to-work-there


Work

Jay Greene, “Labor board calls for revote at Amazon warehouse in Alabama in major victory for union,” Washington Post, November 29, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2021/11/29/amazon-warehouse-union-revote/


  1. [1]Chris Arnold, “Evictions rising even as rental help from Congress reaches millions of people,” National Public Radio, November 11, 2021, https://www.npr.org/2021/11/11/1053540080/evictions-rising-even-as-rental-help-from-congress-reaches-millions-of-people
  2. [2]Ruth Marcus, “The Rule of Six: A newly radicalized Supreme Court is poised to reshape the nation,” Washington Post, November 28, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/11/28/supreme-court-decisions-abortion-guns-religious-freedom-loom/
  3. [3]Kevin R. McClure, “Colleges Are Hiring. But Do People Want to Work There?” Chronicle of Higher Education, November 22, 2021, https://www.chronicle.com/article/colleges-are-hiring-but-do-people-want-to-work-there

Lawrence Co. Lawmaker Wants To Abolish Concealed Carry Gun Permits

See also:


This post was created in error. The entries here have been moved to We’ve got to protect ourselves’: Some threaten to shop elsewhere if they can’t openly carry guns.

Way too little, way too late for a fast-moving Omicron variant


I’m having to do way, way, way too much that seems like cooking lately. I hate it. It is not where I want my head to be even for a nanosecond. And so I’ve just ruined yet another rice cooker because even remembering to put the liner back in is too much, far beyond way too much.

I ruined the rice cooker last night. Today, I couldn’t even stand to make myself a sandwich for lunch.

I am profoundly unhappy with my life. I’m stuck participating in a blatant and utterly degrading fraud[1] (see below) because I can’t get a real job.[2] I live alone; my ‘vibrant’ social life exists entirely on Twitter. And it’s not, no way, no how, a life worth living.


(Inter)national

By the time we have enough information to institute a travel ban, the cat’s already out of the bag, so to speak. Omicron has already been detected in other continents. A travel ban could in theory buy some time by reducing the spread of new seed cases, but we are talking on the order of days to weeks.[3]

Annie Linskey and Tyler Pager, “U.S. to restrict travel from South Africa and other countries as it assesses risks of new omicron variant,” Washington Post, November 26, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/11/26/biden-south-africa-variant/

Gabriele Steinhauser, “Omicron Identified as Covid-19 ‘Variant of Concern,’ Triggering Global Fears,” Wall Street Journal, November 26, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/southern-africas-new-covid-19-variant-prompts-wave-of-travel-restrictions-11637920491

Peta Thornycroft and Will Brown, “Will the omicron variant bypass vaccines? South African experts say it will take ‘weeks’ to find out,” Telegraph, November 26, 2021, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/global-health/science-and-disease/will-nu-variant-bypass-vaccines-south-african-experts-say-will/

Times of Israel, “S. African expert downplays threat from Omicron: ‘We won’t have a severe epidemic,’” November 26, 2021, https://www.timesofisrael.com/s-african-expert-downplays-threat-from-omicron-we-wont-have-a-severe-epidemic/

Chico Harlan and Lesley Wroughton, “Omicron variant detected from Britain to Hong Kong as countries race to impose controls,” Washington Post, November 27, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/covid-variant-fallout-omnicron/2021/11/27/8c6e0548-4f02-11ec-a7b8-9ed28bf23929_story.html

Carl Zimmer, “New Virus Variant Stokes Concern but Vaccines Still Likely to Work,” New York Times, November 27, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/26/health/omicron-variant-vaccines.html

Rachel Pannett, “As omicron variant is detected around the world, travel bans may be too late, experts say,” Washington Post, November 28, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2021/11/28/omicron-variant-coronavirus/


Uber

There are a few games that Uber and Lyft play to disguise how much of any fare they’re keeping in fees from drivers. One of them is by simply not telling us what the total fare is.

Another is through various “promotions,” which are essentially bonus schemes tied to providing a certain number of rides, sometimes in particular areas, sometimes during “surges” in demand, sometimes over a period of hours, sometimes over a period of days. With Uber, one of the latter is regularly scheduled to cover periods from Monday through Thursday and Friday through Sunday. And for each such “quest,” I see two tiers: the one I select and one that’s ten or twenty rides more. What this means is if I do that latter number of rides more than I select, I actually collect the bonus for the next higher “quest.” It’s all generally less than $100, but it’s a significant bump to my gross revenue, so I watch how many rides I’m doing and adjust accordingly.

With Uber, I am prompted to select a “quest” on Wednesdays and Saturdays for the Friday through Sunday and Monday through Thursday periods respectively. This didn’t happen last Wednesday, prompting me to wonder if Uber had ended the scheme, perhaps, I thought, because the bezzle[4] was coming to an end. This was before news of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 broke Friday,[5] but it was on Friday that I knew clearly that I hadn’t simply failed to find the weekend “quest” and that there really wasn’t one.

On Saturday, however, I got prompted again as usual. So I don’t know why it hadn’t happened the preceding Wednesday. But the pandemic crimped both Uber and Lyft’s profits as both riders and drivers fled their platforms and longstanding doubts about their business model and potential for profitability persisted.[6] With the new variant,[7] those doubts will be renewed.

As I noted earlier,[8] the term ‘bezzle’ is “John Kenneth Galbraith’s coinage for an investment swindle where the losses have yet to be recognized;”[9] the Uber and Lyft bezzles appear to target the stock market,[10] which took a dive on news of Omicron.[11] It’s a holiday weekend, so at this writing, we don’t know what will happen on Monday.

What I do know, without doubt, is that Uber and Lyft are not forever on this earth.[12] Sooner or later, investors will get wise to the bezzles. And that will be the end for these companies. The question for me, right now, is whether Omicron will precipitate that end.


Militia

Joan E. Greve, “‘A core threat to our democracy’: threat of political violence growing across US,” Guardian, November 27, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/nov/27/political-violence-threats-multiplying-us


  1. [1]David Benfell, “This is not a business plan,” Not Housebroken, November 26, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/06/20/this-is-not-a-business-plan/
  2. [2]David Benfell, “About my job hunt,” Not Housebroken, n.d., https://disunitedstates.org/about-my-job-hunt/
  3. [3]Nicole A. Errett, quoted in Rachel Pannett, “As omicron variant is detected around the world, travel bans may be too late, experts say,” Washington Post, November 28, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2021/11/28/omicron-variant-coronavirus/
  4. [4]David Benfell, “This is not a business plan,” Not Housebroken, November 26, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/06/20/this-is-not-a-business-plan/
  5. [5]Annie Linskey and Tyler Pager, “U.S. to restrict travel from South Africa and other countries as it assesses risks of new omicron variant,” Washington Post, November 26, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/11/26/biden-south-africa-variant/; Gabriele Steinhauser, “Omicron Identified as Covid-19 ‘Variant of Concern,’ Triggering Global Fears,” Wall Street Journal, November 26, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/southern-africas-new-covid-19-variant-prompts-wave-of-travel-restrictions-11637920491; Peta Thornycroft and Will Brown, “Will the omicron variant bypass vaccines? South African experts say it will take ‘weeks’ to find out,” Telegraph, November 26, 2021, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/global-health/science-and-disease/will-nu-variant-bypass-vaccines-south-african-experts-say-will/; Times of Israel, “S. African expert downplays threat from Omicron: ‘We won’t have a severe epidemic,’” November 26, 2021, https://www.timesofisrael.com/s-african-expert-downplays-threat-from-omicron-we-wont-have-a-severe-epidemic/
  6. [6]Matthew Beedham, “Uber: Is this the beginning of the end for the ride-hailing Goliath?” Next Web, March 2, 2021, https://thenextweb.com/shift/2021/03/02/uber-is-this-the-beginning-of-the-end-for-the-ride-hailing-goliath/; Tina Bellon and Akanksha Rana, “Uber posts $509 mln adjusted loss on driver incentives even as trips rise,” Reuters, August 4, 2021, copy in possession of author; Meghan Bobrowsky, “Uber Ridership Rebounds From Pandemic Lows,” Wall Street Journal, August 4, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-posts-record-bookings-as-ridership-rebounds-and-delivery-continues-to-grow-11628107899; Cory Doctorow, “End of the line for Uber,” Pluralistic, August 10, 2021, https://pluralistic.net/2021/08/10/unter/#bezzle-no-more; Laura Forman, “Uber, Lyft Face a No-Sharing Economy,” Wall Street Journal, October 26, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-lyft-face-a-no-sharing-economy-11603710180; Laura Forman, “Lyft Makes Its Move in Race for Profits,” Wall Street Journal, August 3, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/lyft-makes-its-move-in-race-for-profits-11628029254; Laura Forman, “Uber, Lyft Drive Investors Away,” Wall Street Journal, August 4, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-lyft-drive-investors-away-11628115638; Aarian Marshall, “Gig Companies Fear a Worker Shortage, Despite a Recession,” Wired, March 5, 2021, https://www.wired.com/story/gig-companies-fear-worker-shortage-despite-recession/; Preetika Rana, “Uber Ridership Fails to Recover as Pandemic Drives Another Big Loss,” Wall Street Journal, August 6, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-ridership-fails-to-recover-as-pandemic-drives-another-big-loss-11596744389; Preetika Rana, “Uber, Lyft Prices at Records Even as Drivers Return,” Wall Street Journal, August 7, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-and-lyft-drivers-are-coming-back-but-prices-arent-falling-11628337601; Trading Places Research, “Uber And Lyft: The Limits Of The Amazon Model,” Seeking Alpha, August 15, 2021, https://seekingalpha.com/article/4449578-uber-and-lyft-the-limits-of-the-amazon-model
  7. [7]Chico Harlan and Lesley Wroughton, “Omicron variant detected from Britain to Hong Kong as countries race to impose controls,” Washington Post, November 27, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/covid-variant-fallout-omnicron/2021/11/27/8c6e0548-4f02-11ec-a7b8-9ed28bf23929_story.html; Annie Linskey and Tyler Pager, “U.S. to restrict travel from South Africa and other countries as it assesses risks of new omicron variant,” Washington Post, November 26, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/11/26/biden-south-africa-variant/; Rachel Pannett, “As omicron variant is detected around the world, travel bans may be too late, experts say,” Washington Post, November 28, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2021/11/28/omicron-variant-coronavirus/; Gabriele Steinhauser, “Omicron Identified as Covid-19 ‘Variant of Concern,’ Triggering Global Fears,” Wall Street Journal, November 26, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/southern-africas-new-covid-19-variant-prompts-wave-of-travel-restrictions-11637920491; Peta Thornycroft and Will Brown, “Will the omicron variant bypass vaccines? South African experts say it will take ‘weeks’ to find out,” Telegraph, November 26, 2021, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/global-health/science-and-disease/will-nu-variant-bypass-vaccines-south-african-experts-say-will/; Times of Israel, “S. African expert downplays threat from Omicron: ‘We won’t have a severe epidemic,’” November 26, 2021, https://www.timesofisrael.com/s-african-expert-downplays-threat-from-omicron-we-wont-have-a-severe-epidemic/; Carl Zimmer, “New Virus Variant Stokes Concern but Vaccines Still Likely to Work,” New York Times, November 27, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/26/health/omicron-variant-vaccines.html
  8. [8]David Benfell, “This is not a business plan,” Not Housebroken, November 26, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/06/20/this-is-not-a-business-plan/
  9. [9]Yves Smith, “Uber Is Headed for a Crash,” New York, December 4, 2018, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2018/12/will-uber-survive-the-next-decade.html
  10. [10]David Benfell, “This is not a business plan,” Not Housebroken, November 26, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/06/20/this-is-not-a-business-plan/
  11. [11]Joe Wallace, Quentin Webb, and Suryatapa Bhattacharya, “Stocks, Oil Drop on Concerns Over New Covid-19 Variant,” Wall Street Journal, November 26, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/global-stock-markets-dow-update-11-26-2021-11637901748
  12. [12]David Benfell, “This is not a business plan,” Not Housebroken, November 26, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/06/20/this-is-not-a-business-plan/

The Omicron variant is spreading rapidly but right now it looks like vaccines still work

Pandemic

(Inter)national

I guess the new variant will be “Omicron” rather than “Nu.” I liked the latter name better.

WHO [World Health Organization] said there was also preliminary evidence that the variant, which it named Omicron after the Greek letter, was more transmissible than the Delta variant that is currently dominant world-wide, and other virus strains. Health authorities in Belgium, Israel, Hong Kong and Botswana said they had detected first cases of the variant.[1]

The variant seems to be spreading rapidly around the world, with a few folks pointing to a failure to distribute vaccines internationally, and seemingly rendering attempts to control it by limiting travel laughable. The hope, I suspect in vain, is that travel restrictions will buy a little time. Finally, while it’s early, perhaps too early, it looks like the vaccines still work.[2]

Dr. [William] Hanage and other researchers said that vaccines will most likely protect against Omicron, but further studies are needed to determine how much of the shots’ effectiveness may be reduced.[3]

Virologist Barry Schoub, the head of South Africa’s Ministerial Advisory Committee on COVID-19 vaccines, told Israel’s Channel 12 news that based on initial data from cases in South Africa, it seemed the vaccine would still protect most people from severe COVID-19. . . .

Schoub’s position was far more mellow than that of some other health experts around the world, who have reacted with alarm to Omicron, which has more mutations to its spike proteins than any previous strain of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.[4]

“I am worried that as the numbers go up, public healthcare institutions are going to be overwhelmed,” said Rudo Mathivha, the director of critical-care medicine at Johannesburg’s Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital.

The WHO made no mention of the variant’s potential impact on the effectiveness of Covid-19 vaccines. Omicron has more than 50 mutations compared with the coronavirus that was first detected in Wuhan, China, in 2019. More than 30 of those mutations are in the spike protein, through which the virus attaches to human cells and which is the main target of the current crop of Covid-19 shots. . . .

If needed, a BioNTech spokeswoman said, the companies could produce a new vaccine adjusted to any variant within six weeks and ship initial batches within 100 days.[5]

The difficulty with new vaccines will be that, while they wouldn’t require all the testing needed for the initial vaccines, it will take some time to determine if they are even needed.[6]

Annie Linskey and Tyler Pager, “U.S. to restrict travel from South Africa and other countries as it assesses risks of new omicron variant,” Washington Post, November 26, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/11/26/biden-south-africa-variant/

Gabriele Steinhauser, “Omicron Identified as Covid-19 ‘Variant of Concern,’ Triggering Global Fears,” Wall Street Journal, November 26, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/southern-africas-new-covid-19-variant-prompts-wave-of-travel-restrictions-11637920491

Peta Thornycroft and Will Brown, “Will the omicron variant bypass vaccines? South African experts say it will take ‘weeks’ to find out,” Telegraph, November 26, 2021, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/global-health/science-and-disease/will-nu-variant-bypass-vaccines-south-african-experts-say-will/

Times of Israel, “S. African expert downplays threat from Omicron: ‘We won’t have a severe epidemic,’” November 26, 2021, https://www.timesofisrael.com/s-african-expert-downplays-threat-from-omicron-we-wont-have-a-severe-epidemic/

Chico Harlan and Lesley Wroughton, “Omicron variant detected from Britain to Hong Kong as countries race to impose controls,” Washington Post, November 27, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/covid-variant-fallout-omnicron/2021/11/27/8c6e0548-4f02-11ec-a7b8-9ed28bf23929_story.html

Carl Zimmer, “New Virus Variant Stokes Concern but Vaccines Still Likely to Work,” New York Times, November 27, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/26/health/omicron-variant-vaccines.html


Clairton

There is a new blog post entitled, “Clairton as strength? Or of survival?

Quinn Glabicki, “The City of Prayer: Clairton’s residents persevere amid persistent pollution and violence,” Public Source, November 19, 2021, https://www.publicsource.org/clairton-city-of-prayer-portraits-illness-trauma-advocacy-resilience/

  1. [1]Gabriele Steinhauser, “Omicron Identified as Covid-19 ‘Variant of Concern,’ Triggering Global Fears,” Wall Street Journal, November 26, 2021, Omicron Identified as Covid-19 ‘Variant of Concern,’ Triggering Global Fears
  2. [2]Chico Harlan and Lesley Wroughton, “Omicron variant detected from Britain to Hong Kong as countries race to impose controls,” Washington Post, November 27, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/covid-variant-fallout-omnicron/2021/11/27/8c6e0548-4f02-11ec-a7b8-9ed28bf23929_story.html; Annie Linskey and Tyler Pager, “U.S. to restrict travel from South Africa and other countries as it assesses risks of new omicron variant,” Washington Post, November 26, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/11/26/biden-south-africa-variant/; Times of Israel, “S. African expert downplays threat from Omicron: ‘We won’t have a severe epidemic,’” November 26, 2021, https://www.timesofisrael.com/s-african-expert-downplays-threat-from-omicron-we-wont-have-a-severe-epidemic/; Carl Zimmer, “New Virus Variant Stokes Concern but Vaccines Still Likely to Work,” New York Times, November 27, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/26/health/omicron-variant-vaccines.html
  3. [3]Carl Zimmer, “New Virus Variant Stokes Concern but Vaccines Still Likely to Work,” New York Times, November 27, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/26/health/omicron-variant-vaccines.html
  4. [4]Times of Israel, “S. African expert downplays threat from Omicron: ‘We won’t have a severe epidemic,’” November 26, 2021, https://www.timesofisrael.com/s-african-expert-downplays-threat-from-omicron-we-wont-have-a-severe-epidemic/
  5. [5]Gabriele Steinhauser, “Omicron Identified as Covid-19 ‘Variant of Concern,’ Triggering Global Fears,” Wall Street Journal, November 26, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/southern-africas-new-covid-19-variant-prompts-wave-of-travel-restrictions-11637920491
  6. [6]Peta Thornycroft and Will Brown, “Will the omicron variant bypass vaccines? South African experts say it will take ‘weeks’ to find out,” Telegraph, November 26, 2021, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/global-health/science-and-disease/will-nu-variant-bypass-vaccines-south-african-experts-say-will/; Times of Israel, “S. African expert downplays threat from Omicron: ‘We won’t have a severe epidemic,’” November 26, 2021, https://www.timesofisrael.com/s-african-expert-downplays-threat-from-omicron-we-wont-have-a-severe-epidemic/

Oh, gee. For sure, nobody saw a new COVID-19 variant coming, now, did they?

Migration

There is a new blog post entitled, “Why, for all their bluster, countries will fail to stop migration.”

Dulcie Lee, “Channel deaths: More boats arrive after 27 people drown,” British Broadcasting Corporation, November 25, 2021, https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-59412329


Academic pedophiles

There is a new blog post entitled, “Scholarly pedophilia.”

New Zealand Herald, “Professor resigns following backlash to plea for paedophile’s rights,” November 25, 2021, https://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/professor-resigns-following-backlash-to-plea-for-paedophiles-rights/X4V3CMLSFRRHOW37YJML42KMWQ/


Work

Andrew Mollica and Sarah Chaney Cambon, “Where U.S. Workers Are Quitting Jobs at Record Rates,” Wall Street Journal, November 25, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/where-u-s-workers-are-quitting-jobs-at-record-rates-11637836201


Democrats

When it comes to Democrats being “out of touch,” the Third Way is not whom I’d consult:

Written by Third Way, a Democrat think tank, and ALG Research, it highlights that voters are convinced that the economy is doing poorly. While inflation is uncomfortably at more than 6 per cent, job creation is soaring and wages are increasing rapidly.[1]

This, of course, supports a neoliberal agenda of budget cuts, especially for social services, but remarkably, never, ever, for the military, and of treating labor as a cost[2] rather than as people who need to survive.[3] The real story with inflation in the present situation is nuanced,[4] not reducing neatly to neoliberal sound bites but, of course, the entirely discredited latter[5] is what the Third Way is all about. Neoliberalism, nonetheless, rumbles on, like a zombie, because taking care of the rich, and for the Democrats, their “donor class,” is infinitely more important than taking care of people.

It’s worth noting here that this story[6] appears in the Times, which is ultimately owned by Rupert Murdoch. My revised list of issues the Democrats have failed to deal with:

The real story here isn’t just about inflation, but about a whole host of things the Democrats have failed to accomplish, including many that are existential for a great many people, and that the Democrats have simply stopped talking about.

Alistair Dawber, “Voters think we’re out of touch, finds Democrat report,” Times, November 25, 2021, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/voters-think-were-out-of-touch-finds-democrat-report-zzt8q52xj


Pandemic

My planned trip west to visit my mother and retrieve more stuff left behind when I moved east back to Pittsburgh was already in severe doubt: This has been an expensive year and my finances are unlikely to support the trip. Case counts have been rising both in Allegheny County where I live and in Sonoma County where she lives and this added to the doubt. Now I’m saying, forget it. Unless there’s both some really good news on COVID-19 and some really good news on my finances, it isn’t happening.

(Inter)national

The highly contagious variant, has double the number of mutations of the Delta variant and is currently driving an explosion of cases in the region around Johannesburg, South Africa’s commercial capital.

Late on Thursday evening, Britain put six southern African countries – South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe and Namibia – on a revamped red list and said it would stop flights on Friday until a system was put in place to quarantine passengers.

Israel quickly followed suit suspending all travel to and from South Africa. On Friday the European Union said it would propose banning travel from southern Africa.

The new variant, which is likely to be named ‘Nu’, was first discovered in Botswana, but cases have been detected in Hong Kong. Scientists say it is almost entirely behind an explosion of cases in Southern Africa’s Gauteng Province in the last week.[8]

This will likely be attributable to a failure to distribute vaccines internationally.

Peta Thornycroft and Will Brown, “Will the ‘Nu’ variant bypass vaccines? South African experts say it will take ‘weeks’ to find out,” Telegraph, November 26, 2021, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/global-health/science-and-disease/will-nu-variant-bypass-vaccines-south-african-experts-say-will/

Economy

Joe Wallace, Quentin Webb, and Suryatapa Bhattacharya, “Stocks, Oil Drop on Concerns Over New Covid-19 Variant,” Wall Street Journal, November 26, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/global-stock-markets-dow-update-11-26-2021-11637901748

Supply chain

Jon Sindreu, “When Will Shortages End? Here’s Why Forecasts Are Often Wrong,” Wall Street Journal, November 25, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/when-will-shortages-end-heres-why-forecasts-are-often-wrong-11637841057


  1. [1]Alistair Dawber, “Voters think we’re out of touch, finds Democrat report,” Times, November 25, 2021, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/voters-think-were-out-of-touch-finds-democrat-report-zzt8q52xj
  2. [2]Mark Blyth, Austerity: The History of a Dangerous Idea (Oxford, UK: Oxford University, 2013); David Fickling, “The Gig Economy Compromised Our Immune System,” Yahoo!, July 25, 2020, https://finance.yahoo.com/news/gig-economy-compromised-immune-system-000048670.html; Amir Fleischmann, “The Myth of the Fiscal Conservative,” Jacobin, March 5, 2017, https://jacobinmag.com/2017/03/fiscal-conservative-social-services-austerity-save-money; Jason Hickel, “Progress and its discontents,” New Internationalist, August 7, 2019, https://newint.org/features/2019/07/01/long-read-progress-and-its-discontents; Daniel Stedman Jones, Masters of the Universe: Hayek, Friedman, and the Birth of Neoliberal Politics (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University, 2012); Stephanie Kelton, The Deficit Myth (New York: Public Affairs, 2021); Robert Kuttner, “Austerity never works: Deficit hawks are amoral — and wrong,” Salon, May 5, 2013, http://www.salon.com/2013/05/05/austerity_never_works_deficit_hawks_are_amoral_and_wrong/; Eric Levitz, “Neoliberalism Died of COVID. Long Live Neoliberalism!” Review of Shutdown, by Adam Tooze, New York, October 14, 2021, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/10/neoliberalism-died-of-covid-long-live-neoliberalism.html; Dennis Loo, Globalization and the Demolition of Society (Glendale, CA: Larkmead, 2011); Thomas Piketty, Jeffrey Sachs, Heiner Flassbeck, Dani Rodrik and Simon Wren-Lewis, “Austerity Has Failed: An Open Letter From Thomas Piketty to Angela Merkel,” Nation, July 6, 2015, http://www.thenation.com/article/austerity-has-failed-an-open-letter-from-thomas-piketty-to-angela-merkel/; John Quiggin, “Austerity Has Been Tested, and It Failed,” Chronicle of Higher Education, May 20, 2013, http://chronicle.com/article/Austerity-Has-Been-Tested-and/139255/; David Stuckler and Sanjay Basu, “How Austerity Kills,” New York Times, May 12, 2013, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/13/opinion/how-austerity-kills.html; David Stuckler and Sanjay Basu, “Paul Krugman’s right: Austerity kills,” Salon, May 19, 2013, http://www.salon.com/2013/05/19/paul_krugmans_right_austerity_kills/
  3. [3]David Benfell, “The right to survive,” Not Housebroken, October 17, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/10/17/the-right-to-survive/
  4. [4]Hanna Ziady, “The perfect storm making everything you need more expensive,” CNN, June 9, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/06/09/business/rising-prices-inventories-post-pandemic/index.html
  5. [5]Mark Blyth, Austerity: The History of a Dangerous Idea (Oxford, UK: Oxford University, 2013); David Fickling, “The Gig Economy Compromised Our Immune System,” Yahoo!, July 25, 2020, https://finance.yahoo.com/news/gig-economy-compromised-immune-system-000048670.html; Amir Fleischmann, “The Myth of the Fiscal Conservative,” Jacobin, March 5, 2017, https://jacobinmag.com/2017/03/fiscal-conservative-social-services-austerity-save-money; Jason Hickel, “Progress and its discontents,” New Internationalist, August 7, 2019, https://newint.org/features/2019/07/01/long-read-progress-and-its-discontents; Daniel Stedman Jones, Masters of the Universe: Hayek, Friedman, and the Birth of Neoliberal Politics (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University, 2012); Stephanie Kelton, The Deficit Myth (New York: Public Affairs, 2021); Robert Kuttner, “Austerity never works: Deficit hawks are amoral — and wrong,” Salon, May 5, 2013, http://www.salon.com/2013/05/05/austerity_never_works_deficit_hawks_are_amoral_and_wrong/; Eric Levitz, “Neoliberalism Died of COVID. Long Live Neoliberalism!” Review of Shutdown, by Adam Tooze, New York, October 14, 2021, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/10/neoliberalism-died-of-covid-long-live-neoliberalism.html; Dennis Loo, Globalization and the Demolition of Society (Glendale, CA: Larkmead, 2011); Thomas Piketty, Jeffrey Sachs, Heiner Flassbeck, Dani Rodrik and Simon Wren-Lewis, “Austerity Has Failed: An Open Letter From Thomas Piketty to Angela Merkel,” Nation, July 6, 2015, http://www.thenation.com/article/austerity-has-failed-an-open-letter-from-thomas-piketty-to-angela-merkel/; John Quiggin, “Austerity Has Been Tested, and It Failed,” Chronicle of Higher Education, May 20, 2013, http://chronicle.com/article/Austerity-Has-Been-Tested-and/139255/; David Stuckler and Sanjay Basu, “How Austerity Kills,” New York Times, May 12, 2013, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/13/opinion/how-austerity-kills.html; David Stuckler and Sanjay Basu, “Paul Krugman’s right: Austerity kills,” Salon, May 19, 2013, http://www.salon.com/2013/05/19/paul_krugmans_right_austerity_kills/
  6. [6]Alistair Dawber, “Voters think we’re out of touch, finds Democrat report,” Times, November 25, 2021, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/voters-think-were-out-of-touch-finds-democrat-report-zzt8q52xj
  7. [7]Chris Arnold, “Evictions rising even as rental help from Congress reaches millions of people,” National Public Radio, November 11, 2021, https://www.npr.org/2021/11/11/1053540080/evictions-rising-even-as-rental-help-from-congress-reaches-millions-of-people
  8. [8]Peta Thornycroft and Will Brown, “Will the ‘Nu’ variant bypass vaccines? South African experts say it will take ‘weeks’ to find out,” Telegraph, November 26, 2021, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/global-health/science-and-disease/will-nu-variant-bypass-vaccines-south-african-experts-say-will/

Judges have had their fill with Donald Trump’s election challenges.

Donald Trump

There is a new blog post entitled, “The danger that still remains.”

Rosalind S. Helderman, “Judge orders two lawyers who filed suit challenging 2020 election to pay hefty fees: ‘They need to take responsibility,’” Washington Post, November 22, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/they-need-to-take-responsibility-federal-judge-orders-hefty-fees-assessed-against-two-lawyers-who-filed-suit-challenging-2020-election/2021/11/22/b7ff5392-4be7-11ec-b0b0-766bbbe79347_story.html

Hannah Rabinowitz and Holmes Lybrand, “Al Gore ‘was a man’ about his election loss, unlike Trump, federal judge says,” CNN, November 22, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/11/22/politics/al-gore-trump-election-capitol-riot/index.html

Julia Ioffe, “Murdoch’s Big Lie and Putin at the Gates,” Puck News, November 23, 2021, https://puck.news/murdochs-big-lie-and-putin-at-the-gates/

Joe Napsha, “Process of pending Pennsylvania election audit remains shrouded in secrecy,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, November 23, 2021, https://triblive.com/news/pennsylvania/process-of-pending-pennsylvania-election-audit-remains-shrouded-in-secrecy/


Pandemic

“ICU is full of the unvaccinated – my patience with them is wearing thin,” Guardian, November 21, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/nov/21/icu-is-full-of-the-unvaccinated-my-patience-with-them-is-wearing-thin

Anthony Faiola, “Squeezed by mandates and restrictions, Europe’s anti-vaxxers rebel,” Washington Post, November 22, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com//world/2021/11/22/squeezed-by-mandates-restrictions-europes-anti-vaxxers-rebel/


Pennsylvania Republicans

Amy B Wang and Michael Scherer, “Sean Parnell ends Pennsylvania Senate campaign after wife granted sole legal custody of their children,” Washington Post, November 22, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/11/22/sean-parnell-children-custody/


Canary Islands

These photographs need to be seen to be believed.


Gun nuttery

I don’t know how anyone could possibly be surprised that Republicans generally support the Kyle Rittenhouse verdict, that many feel their “right” to “self-defense” has been affirmed, and that many have canonized him—that’ll be Saint Kyle, to you, heathens![1] As I said.

Sarah Jones, “There Will Be More Rittenhouses The forces that created a vigilante also exonerated him,” New York, November 19, 2021, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/11/kyle-rittenhouse-cleared-and-there-will-be-more-like-him.html

Kurtis Lee, “Kyle Rittenhouse found not guilty of all charges,” Los Angeles Times, November 19, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2021-11-19/la-na-kyle-rittenhouse-vedict-kenosha

Eric Levitz, “Kyle Rittenhouse’s Defense Was Strong: It’s also a threat to the rule of law,” New York, November 19, 2021, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/11/rittenhouse-jury-verdict-self-defense-legal-analysis.html

Gloria Oladipo, “Unrest in Portland as Kyle Rittenhouse verdict divides US,” Guardian, November 20, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/nov/19/kyle-rittenhouse-verdict-reaction-conservatives

Kaleigh Rogers, “Kyle Rittenhouse Bridged The Divide Between The Far Right And Mainstream Conservatives,” FiveThirtyEight, November 23, 2021, https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/kyle-rittenhouse-bridged-the-divide-between-the-far-right-and-mainstream-conservatives/


Canada

Paul Vieira and Kim Mackrael, “U.S.-Canada Border Reopened on Nov. 8: What to Know About Travel,” Wall Street Journal, November 22, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/canada-us-border-reopening-november-8-travel-11628539364


Rent To Own

Ryan Deto, “‘Rent to Own’ companies ordered to deed 285 homes to consumers in Pennsylvania,” Pittsburgh City Paper, November 18, 2021, https://www.pghcitypaper.com/pittsburgh/rent-to-own-companies-ordered-to-deed-285-homes-to-consumers-in-pennsylvania/Content?oid=20583636


  1. [1]Kaleigh Rogers, “Kyle Rittenhouse Bridged The Divide Between The Far Right And Mainstream Conservatives,” FiveThirtyEight, November 23, 2021, https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/kyle-rittenhouse-bridged-the-divide-between-the-far-right-and-mainstream-conservatives/

As to ‘self-defense’

The tracking status still shows the envelope lost in transit but somebody cashed that $14.00 check to California’s Franchise Tax Board.


White supremacist gangs

Eric Levitz explains that, legally, refuting Kyle Rittenhouse’s self-defense claim was a tall order for the prosecution[1] and I cannot do full justice to his argument with a mere limited quotation:

The prosecution therefore needed to prove that [Kyle] Rittenhouse could not have reasonably believed that it was necessary to shoot Rosenbaum in order to spare himself from imminent bodily harm. . . .[2]

Levitz turns to another point, one that directly supports my claim in a new blog post entitled, “The revival of lynching.”

On parts of the right, Rittenhouse has been celebrated as a defender of order against anarchy, and law enforcement against miscreants. Yet the culture that turned the 17-year-old into a revered killer — a culture of mass firearm ownership and vigilantism — is antithetical to law and order as it is conventionally understood. It is a culture premised on the illegitimacy of the state’s monopoly on violence and the incapacity of formal institutions to uphold social order or public safety. It sees America as a society forever teetering on the brink of Hobbesian breakdown, and firearms as the sole guarantor of individual security. And the more influential this culture becomes, the more its paranoid delusions come to resemble our collective reality. . . .

In much of the country, Americans have a legal right to openly carry weapons of mass murder. And yet all it takes is one suspicious bystander, a phone call to the police, and the arrival of a trigger-happy cop for the legal act of carrying an AR-15 — or a toy gun — to become a legal basis for one’s summary execution.[3]

Hence, in a major subset of the cases that Levitz believes enabled, lynching.

In addition, Levitz, in pointing to “the state’s monopoly on violence,” I think inadvertently but nonetheless effectively, highlights neoconservative hypocrisy in its support for so-called “gun rights” and “self-defense” laws. This illustrates the contortions a “law and order” tendency must go through to support a Trumpian coalition, but as Charles Dudley Warner wrote, “Politics makes strange bedfellows.”[4] Such hypocrisy poignantly extends far beyond neoconservatives:

Jason Dearen, “White supremacist prison guards work with impunity in Fla.,” Associated Press, November 19, 2021, https://apnews.com/article/business-prisons-florida-race-and-ethnicity-racial-injustice-60b96681445509d89e6c0497405497d6

Sarah Jones, “There Will Be More Rittenhouses The forces that created a vigilante also exonerated him,” New York, November 19, 2021, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/11/kyle-rittenhouse-cleared-and-there-will-be-more-like-him.html

Kurtis Lee, “Kyle Rittenhouse found not guilty of all charges,” Los Angeles Times, November 19, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2021-11-19/la-na-kyle-rittenhouse-vedict-kenosha

Eric Levitz, “Kyle Rittenhouse’s Defense Was Strong It’s also a threat to the rule of law,” New York, November 19, 2021, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/11/rittenhouse-jury-verdict-self-defense-legal-analysis.html

Gloria Oladipo, “Unrest in Portland as Kyle Rittenhouse verdict divides US,” Guardian, November 20, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/nov/19/kyle-rittenhouse-verdict-reaction-conservatives


  1. [1]Eric Levitz, “Kyle Rittenhouse’s Defense Was Strong It’s also a threat to the rule of law,” New York, November 19, 2021, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/11/rittenhouse-jury-verdict-self-defense-legal-analysis.html
  2. [2]Eric Levitz, “Kyle Rittenhouse’s Defense Was Strong It’s also a threat to the rule of law,” New York, November 19, 2021, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/11/rittenhouse-jury-verdict-self-defense-legal-analysis.html
  3. [3]Eric Levitz, “Kyle Rittenhouse’s Defense Was Strong It’s also a threat to the rule of law,” New York, November 19, 2021, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/11/rittenhouse-jury-verdict-self-defense-legal-analysis.html
  4. [4]Charles Dudley Warner, quoted in John Bartlett, Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, Justin Kaplan, ed., 17th ed. (New York: Little, Brown, 2002), 543.

A nod and a wink

Pandemic

It does not appear that ‘normal’ is anywhere in sight.

Pennsylvania region

This is a message from Allegheny Alerts.

This is the COVID-19 Update from the Allegheny County Health Department for Nov. 19, 2021.

In the last 24 hours, 845 new cases were reported to the Health Department. Of these, 641 are confirmed cases and 204 are probable cases.

The age groups of the newly reported cases follow:

Age Group Cases
00-04 31
05-12 107
13-18 57
19-24 65
25-49 334
50-64 154
65+ 97

Note: Gender case counts are not currently available due to dataset changes. Once available, that information will again be provided in the updates.

There were two (2) new deaths reported, both in November. Both people were in the 65+ age group.

Since March 14, 2020 there have been 143,372 cases of COVID-19 in Allegheny County residents, 9,234 hospitalizations and 2,422 deaths.

Resources, including a Testing Site Locator and a Vaccine Provider Map, are available on the county’s website at https://bit.ly/ACHDcovid-19.[1]

(Inter)national

The story at a German hospital goes into more detail about what it is like to care for COVID-19 patients[2] than I saw in comparable coverage in the U.S.[3] But it all looks to me, really, like the same horrific story, a story exacerbated by vaccine refusal and COVID-19 denial.

Elliot Douglas and Rina Goldenberg, “COVID: Germany introduces new measures to curb the pandemic,” Deutschewelle, November 18, 2021, https://www.dw.com/en/covid-germany-introduces-new-measures-to-curb-the-pandemic/a-59852951

Tobias Großekemper, “The Violence of the Fourth Wave: ‘One Thing We Have Learned Is that COVID Is an Asshole,’” Spiegel, November 19, 2021, https://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/the-violence-of-the-fourth-wave-one-thing-we-have-learned-is-that-covid-is-an-asshole-a-9da60dbf-6311-472a-9fdf-60a6442b1235

Laurie McGinley, “FDA authorizes Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna boosters for all adults,” Washington Post, November 19, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2021/11/19/fda-clears-pfizer-biontech-moderna-booster-shots-all-adults/

Bojan Pancevski, “Austria Becomes First in Europe to Impose Vaccine Mandate, Return to Lockdown,” Wall Street Journal, November 19, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/austria-locks-down-imposes-broad-vaccine-mandate-as-covid-19-cases-surge-11637323344

Lena H. Sun, Laurie McGinley, and Frances Stead Sellers, “With federal sign-offs, all American adults now eligible for coronavirus vaccine boosters,” Washington Post, November 19, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2021/11/19/cdc-advisers-pfizer-moderna-booster-shots-adults/


California wildfires

Lila Seidman, “Wildfires killed thousands of sequoias in southern Sierra Nevada,” Los Angeles Times, November 19, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2021-11-19/wildfires-kill-thousands-of-sequoias-in-southern-sierra-nevada


White supremacist gangs

Once again, I am feeling desperate to get the fuck out of the United States. Following today’s acquittal,[4] Sarah Jones believes there will be more like Kyle Rittenhouse[5] and I see no flaw in her argument.

In this country, we need no longer bother with courts, judges, and juries. The message of this verdict, even if Rittenhouse’s victims were all white,[6] is that we will be back to lynchings, with those white supremacist gangsters who are charged with keeping order[7] instead offering a nod and a wink.

Jason Dearen, “White supremacist prison guards work with impunity in Fla.,” Associated Press, November 19, 2021, https://apnews.com/article/business-prisons-florida-race-and-ethnicity-racial-injustice-60b96681445509d89e6c0497405497d6

Sarah Jones, “There Will Be More Rittenhouses The forces that created a vigilante also exonerated him,” New York, November 19, 2021, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/11/kyle-rittenhouse-cleared-and-there-will-be-more-like-him.html

Kurtis Lee, “Kyle Rittenhouse found not guilty of all charges,” Los Angeles Times, November 19, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2021-11-19/la-na-kyle-rittenhouse-vedict-kenosha


  1. [1]Everbridge to Allegheny Alerts list, “COVID-19 Update — Nov. 19, 2021,” November 19, 2021, https://member.everbridge.net/453003085611110/login
  2. [2]Tobias Großekemper, “The Violence of the Fourth Wave: ‘One Thing We Have Learned Is that COVID Is an Asshole,’” Spiegel, November 19, 2021, https://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/the-violence-of-the-fourth-wave-one-thing-we-have-learned-is-that-covid-is-an-asshole-a-9da60dbf-6311-472a-9fdf-60a6442b1235
  3. [3]Mike Baker, “In Alaska’s Covid Crisis, Doctors Must Decide Who Lives and Who Dies,” New York Times, October 3, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/03/us/coronavirus-crisis-alaska.html; Timothy Bella, “An Alabama doctor watched patients reject the coronavirus vaccine. Now he’s refusing to treat them,” Washington Post, August 18, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2021/08/18/alabama-doctor-unvaccinated-patients-valentine/; Rebecca Boone, “COVID-19 surge forces health care rationing in parts of West,” ABC News, September 16, 2021, https://abcnews.go.com/Health/wireStory/idaho-rations-health-care-statewide-covid-surge-continues-80056295; Hailey Branson-Potts, “Mortuaries fill, hospitals clog in rural California towns with low vaccination rates,“ Los Angeles Times, August 28, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2021-08-28/la-me-rural-california-covid-surge-vaccinations-lag; Ariana Eunjung Cha et al., “Faced with a crush of patients, besieged NYC hospitals struggle with life-or-death decisions,” Washington Post, March 31, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2020/03/31/new-york-city-hospitals-coronavirus/; Jenny Deam, “A Boy Went to a COVID-Swamped ER. He Waited for Hours. Then His Appendix Burst,” ProPublica, September 15, 2021, https://www.propublica.org/article/a-boy-went-to-a-covid-swamped-er-he-waited-for-hours-then-his-appendix-burst; Marisa Fernandez, “As hospitals fill, more ambulances forced to wait,” Axios, August 27, 2021, https://www.axios.com/local-ems-covid-surge-wait-times-611657fc-8ddf-4b32-a6dc-c7f2eb799487.html; Michael Hiltzik, “‘Death panels’ arrive — in COVID-stricken Republican Idaho,” Los Angeles Times, September 17, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2021-09-17/death-panels-republican-covid-stricken-idaho; Christina Baker Kline, “My father should be in surgery rehab. But with beds full of the unvaccinated, he died in covid quarantine,” Washington Post, September 29, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/09/28/christina-baker-kline-father-death-covid-quarantine/; Hannah Knowles and Caroline Anders, “Hospital system says it will deny transplants to the unvaccinated in ‘almost all situations,’” Washington Post, October 6, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2021/10/05/uchealth-transplant-unvaccinated/; Oliver Laughland and Jessica Glenza, “Inside a Tennessee hospital grappling with Delta and vaccine hesitancy,” Guardian, July 24, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/jul/24/tennessee-coronavirus-covid-delta-variant-cases-vaccines; Katie MacBride, [Twitter thread], Thread Reader App, August 21, 2021, https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1429287685244420101.html; Michael McGough, “Sacramento hospitals ‘at capacity’ and COVID deaths at 6-month high as delta spreads,” Sacramento Bee, August 26, 2021, https://www.sacbee.com/news/coronavirus/article253761928.html; Dennis Pillion, “‘I’m sorry, but it’s too late’: Alabama doctor on treating unvaccinated, dying COVID patients,” Advance Local, July 21, 2021, https://www.al.com/news/2021/07/im-sorry-but-its-too-late-alabama-doctor-on-treating-unvaccinated-dying-covid-patients.html; Jim Salter, “COVID-related attacks prompt hospital to issue panic buttons,” Associated Press, September 28, 2021, https://apnews.com/article/coronavirus-pandemic-business-covid-19-pandemic-missouri-springfield-397f9fca72155f35035df85c9f2e0941; Paige Williams, “Mississippi’s Hospital System Is Rapidly Approaching Statewide Failure,” New Yorker, August 17, 2021, https://www.newyorker.com/news/us-journal/mississippis-hospital-system-is-rapidly-approaching-statewide-failure
  4. [4]Kurtis Lee, “Kyle Rittenhouse found not guilty of all charges,” Los Angeles Times, November 19, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2021-11-19/la-na-kyle-rittenhouse-vedict-kenosha
  5. [5]Sarah Jones, “There Will Be More Rittenhouses The forces that created a vigilante also exonerated him,” New York, November 19, 2021, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/11/kyle-rittenhouse-cleared-and-there-will-be-more-like-him.html
  6. [6]Sarah Jones, “There Will Be More Rittenhouses The forces that created a vigilante also exonerated him,” New York, November 19, 2021, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/11/kyle-rittenhouse-cleared-and-there-will-be-more-like-him.html
  7. [7]David Benfell, “Stephen Zappala’s resignation would be nowhere near enough,” Not Housebroken, November 6, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/06/03/stephen-zappalas-resignation-would-be-nowhere-near-enough/

I’m shocked, shocked, I tell you, to learn of yet another white supremacist gang

White supremacist gangs

Jason Dearen, “White supremacist prison guards work with impunity in Fla.,” Associated Press, November 19, 2021, https://apnews.com/article/business-prisons-florida-race-and-ethnicity-racial-injustice-60b96681445509d89e6c0497405497d6


Infrastructure

Kimberley Strassel is unhappy that so many Senate so-called “moderates” are not as vocal in opposing the Build Back Better package as either their House of Representatives counterparts or Joe Manchin and Kyrstin Sinema.[1]

The House has now passed that bill,[2] as it turns out that Pramila Jayapal had secured an agreement from House so-called “moderates” to support it,[3] which seems to me to at least partly undermine Strassel’s argument. Be that as it may, when all the theatrics are over, I think this bill is dead, as Manchin and Sinema, who are not, as near as I can tell, bound by Jayapal’s deal, will cling to any excuse they can dredge up, no matter how far-fetched, to oppose it. Strassel writes for the Wall Street Journal opinion page, whose veracity, I gather, is on the order of Fox News.

Andrew Duehren and Richard Rubin, “House Set to Pass $2 Trillion Social Spending and Climate Bill,” Wall Street Journal, November 18, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/house-closes-in-on-vote-for-2-trillion-bill-11637262546

Kimberley A. Strassel, “On Reconciliation Bill, Senate Moderates Hide Behind Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema,” Wall Street Journal, November 18, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/reconciliation-bill-moderates-let-joe-manchin-kyrsten-sinema-hassan-kelly-build-back-better-11637276328

Tony Romm, “House passes roughly $2 trillion spending package that would expand social benefits and fight climate change,” Washington Post, November 19, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/us-policy/2021/11/19/house-spending-reconciliation-bill/

Marianna Sotomayor, Paul Kane, and Jacqueline Alemany, “McCarthy’s overnight speech — longest in modern history — underscores rancor in the House,” Washington Post, November 19, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/house-mccarthy-reconciliation/2021/11/19/3a07263c-48e9-11ec-b05d-3cb9d96eb495_story.html


Pandemic

Elliot Douglas and Rina Goldenberg, “COVID: Germany introduces new measures to curb the pandemic,” Deutschewelle, November 18, 2021, https://www.dw.com/en/covid-germany-introduces-new-measures-to-curb-the-pandemic/a-59852951

Laurie McGinley, “FDA authorizes Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna boosters for all adults,” Washington Post, November 19, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2021/11/19/fda-clears-pfizer-biontech-moderna-booster-shots-all-adults/

Bojan Pancevski, “Austria Becomes First in Europe to Impose Vaccine Mandate, Return to Lockdown,” Wall Street Journal, November 19, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/austria-locks-down-imposes-broad-vaccine-mandate-as-covid-19-cases-surge-11637323344


U.S. Postal Service

I’m always amazed that folks trust the U.S. Postal Service and nearly always, myself, insist on a tracking number for anything I physically send out.

My suspicion seems to have been warranted, as the Service seems to have mislaid one of my tax returns. Ironically, it’s the one to the California Franchise Tax Board whose notice prompted a return to H&R Block about my 2019 taxes. I got to pay the tax preparers again to do the taxes that they’d fucked up the first time and, as it turns out, I owed hundreds of dollars in local and federal taxes,[4] but only $14 to the Franchise Tax Board. I’m expecting a small refund, $45, from Pennsylvania, which I guess shows pretty conclusively that my Pennsylvania taxes are significantly higher than my California taxes were. But I’ll be looking for another preparer next year.

The return made it as far as Sacramento, but has not, as near as I can tell, been delivered. I have put in a query with the Postal Service.

Jacob Bogage, “Biden expected to replace Ron Bloom, USPS board chair and key DeJoy ally, on postal board,” Washington Post, November 19, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2021/11/19/usps-biden-bloom-dejoy/


Christopher Columbus

It seems that the Italian Sons and Daughters of America had also accused the judge presiding over the case of bias.[5] It’s as if “people hate us” is their only substantive argument.

Paula Reed Ward, “Lawsuit contends Peduto interfered with vote to remove Columbus statue in Pittsburgh,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, November 18, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/lawsuit-contends-peduto-interfered-with-vote-to-remove-columbus-statue-in-pittsburgh/


Clairton

Despite the headline, this is the first mention I’ve seen of the Irvin works in West Mifflin.[6] It’s a separate facility from the one in Clairton.

The Irvin Works is normally considered the cleanest of U.S. Steel’s three Mon Valley facilities. But after the 2018 fire at the Clairton Coke Works, the company said it burned uncleaned coke oven gas at the Irvin facility about 5 miles away because it was the best option. A tall pipe on a hill called “the peachtree flare” would spread the pollution higher and farther, so the impact wouldn’t be as intense on nearby residents, even as it impacted a wider area.[7]

For all my mixed feelings about Pittsburgh—I’m sure I don’t want to learn yet another metropolitan area while driving for Uber and Lyft and I retain a sentimental attachment to the place where so many of my relatives, particularly including my grandparents, lived, but also, I sure as hell don’t want to be in anything like this part of the world if Donald Trump wins in 2024—I sure as hell don’t want to live along the Monongahela River. It will be an environmental calamity for as long as U.S. Steel and a few other corporations remain in business.

Oliver Morrison, “U.S. Steel faces lawsuit alleging that Clairton Coke Works ‘decrepit’ condition continues to endanger Mon Valley residents,” Public Source, November 19, 2021, https://www.publicsource.org/clairton-steel-coke-health-department-lawsuit-irvin-works-fire-pollution/


  1. [1]Kimberley A. Strassel, “On Reconciliation Bill, Senate Moderates Hide Behind Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema,” Wall Street Journal, November 18, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/reconciliation-bill-moderates-let-joe-manchin-kyrsten-sinema-hassan-kelly-build-back-better-11637276328
  2. [2]Tony Romm, “House passes roughly $2 trillion spending package that would expand social benefits and fight climate change,” Washington Post, November 19, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/us-policy/2021/11/19/house-spending-reconciliation-bill/
  3. [3]Robert Kuttner to Today on TAP list, “Time to Salute Pramila Jayapal,” American Prospect, November 17, 2021, https://americanprospect.activehosted.com/index.php?action=social&chash=208e43f0e45c4c78cafadb83d2888cb6.1194&s=1e9c8da033986e0d1f0baa630b5bb784
  4. [4]David Benfell, “Getting what I deserve,” Not Housebroken, November 8, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/10/31/getting-what-i-deserve/
  5. [5]Paula Reed Ward, “Lawsuit contends Peduto interfered with vote to remove Columbus statue in Pittsburgh,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, November 18, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/lawsuit-contends-peduto-interfered-with-vote-to-remove-columbus-statue-in-pittsburgh/
  6. [6]Oliver Morrison, “U.S. Steel faces lawsuit alleging that Clairton Coke Works ‘decrepit’ condition continues to endanger Mon Valley residents,” Public Source, November 19, 2021, https://www.publicsource.org/clairton-steel-coke-health-department-lawsuit-irvin-works-fire-pollution/
  7. [7]Oliver Morrison, “U.S. Steel faces lawsuit alleging that Clairton Coke Works ‘decrepit’ condition continues to endanger Mon Valley residents,” Public Source, November 19, 2021, https://www.publicsource.org/clairton-steel-coke-health-department-lawsuit-irvin-works-fire-pollution/