Monday Message Board

Back again with another Monday Message Board.

Post comments on any topic. Civil discussion and no coarse language please. Side discussions and idees fixes to the sandpits, please. If you would like to receive my (hopefully) regular email news, please sign up using the following link. You can also follow me on Twitter @JohnQuiggin, at my Facebook public page   and at my Economics in Two Lessons page

35 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. For those of us with a capital bias. Mere mortals see beliw.

    “What is shadow carbon pricing?
    “In setting the “shadow price”, the EBRD follows recommendations by the High-Level Commission on Carbon Prices, which was set up in 2016 as part of international climate change talks to benchmark pollution costs. Led by economists Joseph Stiglitz and Lord Nicholas Stern (the latter a former EBRD Chief Economist), the Commission recommends that carbon should be priced at US$ 40-80 in 2020 …”

    AFR says;
    “Reputex’s bullish outlooks comes amid a booming carbon market. Prices for ACCUs soared 180 per cent to a record $47 per tonne in 2021, spurring calls on the federal government to stabilise the market by increasing the supply of credits for voluntary buyers.”

    For us mere mortals have you ever considered your climate shadow? Language is important and BP coined Carbon Footprint”, a term which dominates ‘top of mind’. Counter with the concept of carbon footprint with your “climate shadow”.


    “Almost 20 years ago, a clever campaign by BP brought us the concept of the carbon footprint, a now-ubiquitous tool that’s supposed to help you calculate how much you are personally contributing to climate change… 
    … “by encouraging eco-minded people to use their carbon footprints as a “guide” to fight climate change, we risk them spending all of their energy on low-impact individual actions that are easy to quantify, like recycling or turning off lights, instead of putting that energy toward broader, more meaningful work, like lobbying local politicians or speaking up at work about wasteful practices.

    “Enter: the “climate shadow,” a concept that I created to help each of us visualize how the sum of our life’s choices influence the climate emergency.”…

    “To truly evaluate your impact on the environment, you have to go way beyond recycle bins and energy bills.

    My climate shadow is low resolution. Yours?

  2. What do commenters make of the outcome of the Parliamentary debate over the Religious Discrimination Bill.

    It was clearly right for Labor, along with the Greens and other crossbenchers, and Liberal moderates, to amend out the most obnoxious elements of the Bill as they related to LGBTQI and transgender youth. But how likely was it that Labor knew in advance that such amendments would have the very welcome effect of blowing up the entire Bill? Some pro-Labor commentary since the Bill was shelved does suggest this?

  3. Denmark’s population was around 5.84 million in 2021.

    Denmark has scrapped most pandemic restrictions as the Scandinavian country no longer considers the COVID-19 outbreak “a socially critical disease.”

    Yet Denmark’s data for COVID hospitalizations keep rising – for Feb 11, it’s was at 1,370, and daily deaths were for Feb 12 at 37.
    Denmark hospital bed capacity 2019 was circa 15,076.

    Compare with NSW’s population, which was in 2021, estimated to be 8.18 million.
    Per NSW Health stats, NSW 3-dose vaccination rate for people aged 16+ years (at end-Feb 12) was 48.3%.
    NSW COVID hospitalizations for Feb 14 are at 1,649, and daily deaths at 14 (on Feb 13).
    Per NSW Health, NSW hospital bed capacity at 6 Jan 2022 was circa 12,500 (public + private).

    I wonder how much more of a rise in hospitalizations and daily deaths in Denmark before Danish Gov reconsiders their position that the COVID-19 pandemic is NOT “a socially critical disease.” How many more people have to suffer and die unnecessarily? 🙄

  4. Will Putin attack Ukraine?

    Biden an NATO have correctly decided not to risk war with Russia to defend Ukraine, and are talking up reprisal economic sanctions if Putin does go for it. I haven’t seen discussion of two surely more important factors in his mind: Russian casualties and the chequered history of Russian and Soviet invasions.

    It’s pretty clear that Ukraine would fight, whether at its frontiers or by a strategic retreat to the western provinces, conceding Kiev to occupation. Its armed forces are much stronger than in 2014, and have received $3bn worth of modern American weaponry. They are still much weaker than those of Russia, and would presumably be defeated. But the price would be high, in Russian lives as well as matériel. (I assume Putin does not care about Ukrainian lives.) For instance, Russia reportedly has 30 naval vessels in the Black Sea and Sea of Azov. Ukraine has revamped Soviet-era Neptune anti-ship missiles with a range of 200 km. It would not take many of these to get through Russian Navy defences to rack up a death toll in the hundreds, possibly thousands. Similarly, the Ukrainian air force would probably be destroyed early in the war – but again, at heavy and not concealable cost. Even with air supremacy, the Russian air force would still be exposed to thousands of lightweight ground-based SAMs. Putin is a Russian patriot as well as an unscrupulous thug, and the memory of the millions lost in the Great Patriotic War – 8.7m in the military plus an unknown number of civilians – lies heavy on Russian memory.

    Putin is also a career KGB spook who served in East Germany. He knows first-hand that it is in the long run impossible to keep control of a population that regards you as an illegitimate occupier. The Red Army’s operations in Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968 achieved success in the short run but ensured political failure in the long. The same goes for the Winter War with Finland in 1940: “Finlandization” was a slow-motion escape from Soviet control. Putin’s horizon won’t be that long, but he is not stupid enough to think he can ever win Ukrainian acceptance of a quisling government in Kiev installed at the point of tank guns. My betting FWIW (not much) is that he is bluffing and will not invade at scale.

    Final thought. There is one political concession that an independent Ukraine and its allies can make in due course: recognition of the Russian annexation of the Crimea in 2014, as part of a wider peace treaty and subject to an internationally supervised second referendum. The Crimea is not historically part of Ukraine, the population sees itself as Russian or Tatar, and the incorporation into Ukraine in 1954 was engineered by Khrushchev for no good reason. Commenters please note my two minimal conditions.

  5. I see Putin as an economic terrorist. The situation he has created almost certainly has one economic goal. That is to drive up the price of crude oil. Whatever political and military goals Putin is presuming are achievable, he knows for certain that his one economic goal is gettable in the short run. So we all pay higher petrol prices just so Putin can grandstand on the world stage. It’s time to establish oil reserves to stop this sort of manipulative action. OPEC is a price cartel that has held the rest of the world to ransom in the past. Back then oil reserves worked once they were large enough to scare off price gouging by some OPEC nations. Now at the very least we can all “shirtfront” Putin, by forcing down the crude oil price.

  6. CleanTechnica: “Kelley Blue Book reports that total car sales [in the US] fell by 21.3% in Q4 2021 compared to Q4 2020, while EV sales grew by 72%.”

    European governments and the EU are for the first time seriously looking for ways of cutting dependence on Russian gas – Macron has just announced a target of 100 GW of solar in France. Time is not on Putin’s side, and everything he does speeds up Russia’s decline as a petrostate.

  7. James, just yesterday I enacted diplomacy style to a friend who completely has biased a story by bypassing facts, priducing a diametrically opposite and incorrect view.. I’m not immune nor averse diplomacy. We are still friends but I have kicked the can down the road. I have had to self censure. Friendship now unstable. 

    James you ask “Commenters please note my two minimal conditions”:
    > part of a wider peace treaty and
    > subject to an internationally supervised second referendum.”.

    Let us presume we do as you ask. And we get “peace” and positive referendum outcome for international acceptance of Russia ‘owning’ Kiev. Instability ensure and I get that less instability is ‘better’ than more. But: bifurcation.

    Aren’t such international diplomatic strategies why we are still arguing over Taiwan, Balkans and numerous other fluid states? And continued instability? 

    Why cant we just have a referendum in Russia and Ukraine (and global) asking; “Do you want a free society where borders, and governments are inclusive and allegiances lead toward peace for all?”.

    Pollyanna-ish I suppose from a geopolitical and diplomatic perspective. Niave and ignorant of history I presume compared to practitioners. But eminently humanistic and arguable for a peaceful planet.

    I am asking you because if your obvious knowledge and credentials.

    I really would appreciate to know the thinking behind your stated  ” two minimal conditions” please.

    Allow me a crappy analogy. Russia is recycling borders, control and power,  yet it is as you state, Russia can’t “ever win Ukrainian acceptance of a quisling government in Kiev installed at the point of tank guns”, so isn’t this just kicking the can down the road and allowing a pure bully to stay in unstable power at the expense of the humans in these diplomatically fluid states? 

    Note 1; if we were in Russia James we’d either be dead,  or not in Russia. 
    2. Ouur families left behind would suffer in the extreme due to our “two minimal conditions*.
    3. Our kids will still be wondering and dealing with “oligarchy / fascism / madmen”. 

    I’ll also note Russian zeitgeist feedback loop is entirely broken and why Putin gets away with it in Russia as indicated by;
    “In 2013 Russia ranked 148th out of 179 countries in the Press Freedom Index fromReporters Without Borders. In 2015 Freedom House report Russia got score of 83 (100 being the worst), mostly because of new laws introduced in 2014 that further extended the state control over mass-media.[64] The situation was characterised as even worse inCrimea where, after its annexation by Russia, both Russian jurisdiction and extrajudicial means are routinely applied to limit freedom of expression.[65]”.

    “Moscow theater hostage crisis

    “… (“the Terkibayev file”) to Sergei Yushenkovwhen he visited London. Yushenkov passed this file to Politkovskaya and she was able to interview Terkibayev in person.[91] A few days later, Yushenkov was assassinated by gunfire in Moscow. Terkibayev was later killed in an apparent car crash in Chechnya.

    “In June 2003, Litvinenko stated in an interview with the Australian television programme Dateline, that two of the Chechen militants involved in the siege—whom he named “Abdulthe Bloody” and “Abu Bakar”—were working for the FSB, and that the agency manipulated the terrorists into staging the attack.[92]”…

    I suppose I am really asking;
    1. How do ‘we’ fix this? and
    2. How long before peace and stability?

    I understand those questions are unanswerable yet I’d appreciate to know the thinking behind your “two minimal conditions”. Thanks.

  8. Another uncaring, uncosted and ignored externaiity. If you go to Wollar, look for the community tennis courts, a decaying indication of a once thriving community.

    “Wollar’s remaining community opposes further expansion of Peabody Energy’s open cut coal mine”

  9. My thinking on the Crimea – not Kiev or the Donbass – is:
    1. Long distinct history from Ukraine (eg. khanate) and the arbitrary character of the 1954 transfer.
    2. Different sense(s) of identity. I`ve met Crimean Tatars and they grumble about discrimination, but not on the grounds that they want to be Ukrainians.
    3. De facto irreversibility of the 2014 annexation by Russia.
    4. Pragmatic need for Putin to walk away from the fiasco with a paper win.
    5. A clean referendum is needed to establish what the Crimeans want.
    Against this you can legitimately set the principle of not rewarding bad behaviour. But just saying “Putin out” is not very useful.

  10. Electric motors rule. Ever noticed how internal combustion engines always need an electric motor to start them? If they don’t need that they need muscle power to start them. Like my 2-stroke weed eater. Ever notice how temperamental internal combustion engines are, especially but not only 2-strokes? They break down need lots of messy, environmentally damaging stuff like fuel, oil, fuel-oil mixes, grease. And then extra rubbish like gear boxes, transfer cases and differentials. All with their special oils and automatic gearbox fluids. What a mess. Internal combustion engines are noisy, they stink, leak, pollute and heaven knows what.

    Electric motors do away with 90% of that nonsense. They start on their own, use minimal lubricants and need minimal gearboxes and transfers cases because their torque is the highest a low revs.. A smallish electric motor at each wheel, coordinated electronically, can deliver perfect power to each wheel to meet the conditions and can also provide regenerative braking.

    Electric motors aren’t perfect but they sure beat IC engines. And they are usually about 80% efficient at converting energy to useful work as compared to IC engines at 20%. It’s a no-brainer. We should be progressively banning IC engines altogether for almost all applications.

  11. If you think Australia is immune from the slide toward authoritarians, total power vested in a single person for decisions, fake or fiddled with news, etc etc etc, then don’t read the  snippets below. No ention od AUKUS-yet. All this is before midday.

    Most worthy of the sandpit. 

    Q: Will this be the nastiest and worst polarized election campaign in Australia’s history? (Probably not but in recent memory.) 

    An uninformed electorate and newscorpse + Scomo Dutton etc and Palmer prepolls at 14% (won’t translate) and 14% last time where I live to Pauline! Gawd!

    Shame Shame Shame.

    > “Morrison is equating his deportation laws (see the context below, from Paul Karp) with turning back the boats. He’s saying those who don’t support him are supporting people who commit domestic violence.

    > “Prime minister Scott Morrison is on 2SM with John Laws.

    > “Prime minister Scott Morrison has accused judges… 

    >  “Former treasury secretary, Dr Ken Henry, says the tax system is broken because there are budget deficits as far as the eye can see.
    > (no discretion or oversight is dangerous) “… immigration minister Alex Hawke says, referring to tennis star Novak Djokovic’s visa saga.”
    > ” The institute’s Richard Dennis says it will predominantly be Liberal seats that benefit from the high income tax cuts,”
    > ” The low and middle income tax offset is set to wind up, ”
    > ” The Asio chief has declared that his intelligence agency is “not here to be politicised”, ….

    > [ Scary Speaker! ] …” The Speaker, Andrew Wallace, ruled on Monday that Dutton’s “insinuation” against Albanese had been out of order and “would ask that such comments not be repeated”, but stopped short of forcing the minister to withdraw”

    > ” She’s invoking Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest, the mining magnate who is now spruiking green hydrogen, saying he is now seen as the “messiah”.” Steggall, who advocates for climate change action, says her accountant “failed to raise there’d been a single cheque”.

    > “Burgess refused to give further information, criticising Kitching for the question.”

    > “[Kevin Rudd says] “Number one, when the Liberal Party attacked my posture on human rights in China, that was seeking to appease Beijing for commercial reasons.”

    > “”Grants awarded to “ineligible” applicants, or not assessed in full accordance with guidelines,…
    “Auditor general finds no ‘clear basis’ for half of Safer Communities Fund grants”

    > “[Don’t get sick] “Hundreds gathering for NSW nurses’ strike”

    > [ positive without tribalism]
    “On Tuesday, the Australian Financial Review reported that Liberal MP Jason Falinski said “the people who aren’t paying tax are the people inheriting their money”, adding it was “problematic” that “more and more money is being accumulated by lazy capital”.
    [faked news]
    It was published under the headline “Liberal MP backs higher inheritance taxes”.
    [Oops-  back to tribalism and ‘real news’]
    “But just hours after the story was published, Falinski tweeted “Never have, never will support an inheritance tax. And anyone who knows me knows that I am strongly in favour of lower taxes not higher taxes.”
    [a positive?] 
    “Guardian Australia asked if he’d read Albanese’s 1981 essay, titled “The Neoclassical Theory of the Competitive Market System”.
    Chalmers replied “very sharp essay, very neatly written.”
    “It was very impressive.”
    [Any chance of this being reported straight by LibNat or newscorpse?]

    > “A moment of silence was held to remember those the [nurses] union representative said had died due to short staffing.”

    > [Blackstone would by AustPost]

    “The AFR reported on Tuesday that executives at the government-owned mail service who were on a base salary of between $300,000 and $400,000 per year received an average bonus last year of close to $170,000.”

    > “a terrifying but important look at the aged care crisis in the latest Full Story: “Inside aged care’s deadliest Covid-19 wave”

    > “This government is under-resourcing the health system and it’s creating trauma for us.It’s time for the premier to listen. [Nurses]…”

    > [pure politicking then! – the human rights committee in December said] “In this regard, the committee notes that the minister may already cancel or refuse a person’s visa where a person has committed an offence that would fall within the new definition of ‘designated offence’, including having regard to the broad notion of the person’s past or present criminal or general conduct.”

    > [A positive] “Inman Grant told Senate estimates on Tuesday that the 200 complaints so far covered a wide range of bullying content:

    “These include complaints about explicit instructions and encouragement to commit suicide, threats of murder, and the menacing publication of personal details online, or doxxing.”

  12. Ikonoclast: – “And then extra rubbish like gear boxes, transfer cases and differentials. All with their special oils and automatic gearbox fluids. What a mess.

    Unless wheels are individually driven by electric motors (like the Tesla Semi), BEVs usually have differentials. Although BEVs don’t have speed-selection gearboxes (although I heard on the radio yesterday that some car companies are considering having it – why, I don’t understand), they do usually have reduction gearboxes.

    See below the YouTube explainer video titled Understanding the Tesla Model S Performance Motor, published 17 Feb 2021, duration 0:46:31, for a deep dive into the details of the 18,000 RPM performance rear motor and drive unit from a 2015-2016 Tesla Model S P90D.

    It’s a no-brainer. We should be progressively banning IC engines altogether for almost all applications.

    Yep, for contributions to rapid GHG emissions reductions and improving our energy security.
    See my Submission + Attachment published by the Independent Planning Commission NSW (IPCN) on Friday (Feb 11) at the Narrabri Underground Mine Stage 3 Extension Project webpage:

  13. Geoff Miell,

    I overstated my case but electric vehicles certainly need less in the way of gearboxes, differentials etc. The smartest and best engineered vehicles eventually might well have a motor per wheel. There are a lot of advantages to that from a traction and handling perspective. But it could mean more complexity and cost. I guess manufactures will work out the trade-offs. All we need are heavy carbon taxes / prices to give the correct incentives plus plain old regulation.

  14. Australia needs to disengage and prepare for: Democracy. 

    I said at 11:48 am above;
    “If you think Australia is immune from the slide toward authoritarians…”

    “Canada should be preparing for the end of American democracy

    February 14, 2022
    Robert Danisch, 
    University of Waterloo

    “The United States is on the precipice of becoming a failed democratic state. In January 2021, pollster John Zogby conducted a survey that showed 46 per cent of Americans believe that the U.S. is headed toward another civil war.

    “As Canada’s closest neighbour fractures at the seams and slides toward dangerous forms of authoritarianism, we should be deeply worried. As someone whose research has tried to explain how and why democracy works, I am deeply worried.

    “We should be planning our possible responses and preparing for what comes next. Failing to do so will put our own democracy at risk — as we’re witnessing right now with the so-called freedom convoy in Ottawa and its nefarious funding.

    “A person waves a ‘Let’s Go Brandon’ flag, code for an expletive against U.S. President Joe Biden used by supporters of former president Donald Trump, in Ottawa during the so-called freedom convoy. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

    “The worst-case scenario in the U.S. — blood in the streets — isn’t necessarily the most likely, but we ought to resist the tendency to assign too low a probability to events that could have serious, catastrophic consequences.

    “Some of the most constructive academic work in the middle of the 20th century, after all, was motivated by doom-saying around nuclear war (Thomas Schelling’s Nobel Prize work on game theory, for example).

    “More recently, predictions about the devastation that will result from the climate crisis are being used to drive public policy and political debate. Will all the predictions bear out? Maybe not, but the intellectual exercise of preparing for the worst can improve our decision-making and position Canada to succeed in times of crisis.

    “Jan. 6 just a prelude?
    “For some reason, systematic and dispassionate analyses of what will happen if or when the American experiment with democracy ends have not …”

    “The end of hope

  15. There are working – not toy – electric motors made in the 1880s. Example:

    Doubters of the electric revolution often fail to grasp the huge increase in efficiency it comes with. On top of the much better end-use motors, generation goes from 60% losses to 0, transmission/transport losses to 10%, while holding round-trip storage ones to 30% or so. Jacobson and others plausibly claim that in an all-renewable, all-electric future we can get the same energy services as today – heating, cooling, lighting, moving things, running machines – with half the primary energy. That´s with current technology, no hand-waving. The hill to climb is much less high than many think.

    Of course wind turbines and solar panels are not 100% efficient thermodynamically. But economically, disregarding the unused wind and sunlight is correct as these have no opportunity cost. This established accounting convention does not reduce the financial incentive for the industry to chase greater thermodynamic efficiency.

  16. Just read about another study that did not look obviously biased which suggested, electric cars are worse than hybrids on the current German grid. The problem are the coal powerplants. They should come out ahead over the entire lifecycle. Either way, we are still a long way from finally finishing the easy and cheap stuff not involving irrational end consumers. If a renewable developer is logging in the current high electricity price for another 3 years through futures, i´m not even sure what´s stopping them from building plants without subsidies. Nah, ok, i got a guess or two about delays due to neighbours sueing until those 3 years are over because “that solar plant is so ugly” “how dare you built on our great agricultural land that we need for plants we later burn to producy electricity at a subsidiced rate three times as high as the solar feed in tariff…” “that windgenerator 1 km away is so load (speaking in front of a noisy street where you hear zero,nothing…, and you are killing the Rotmilan….” Not even sure it is legal to build normal solar panels on agricultural land here, even without receiving subsidies, even so they absolutly do nothing to the land. The current plans for development on agricultural land require to use special panels that let some light through for the plants below -_-……

  17. Scary crypto.

    By David Rosenthal “employee #4 at Nvidia” on cryptocurrency. Via pluralistic “Comprehensive synthesis of the technological, ecological and political critique of blockchainism” link at end. 

    David Rosenthal says;
    “cryptocurrencies suffer an epidemic of pump-and-dump schemes and wash trading, 

    > they enable a$5.2B/year ransomware industry, they have
    > made it impossible for web services to offer free tiers, and 

    > they are responsible for a massive crime wave including fraud, theft, tax evasion, funding of rogue states such as North Korea, drugsmuggling, and 

    > even as documented by Jameson Lopp’s list of physical attacks, armed robbery, kidnapping, torture and murder.”

    “EE380 Talk

    “Before I start talking about cryptocurrencies, I should stress that I hold no long or short positions in cryptocurrencies, their derivatives or related companies; I am long Nvidia. Unlike most people discussing them, I am not “talking my book”.

    “Cryptocurrencies’ roots lie deep in the libertarian culture of Silicon Valley and the cypherpunks. Libertarianism’s attraction is based on ignoring externalities, and cryptocurrencies are no exception.

    [Slide 2: Externalities]
    David Rosenthal “at Sun later in the 80s working on window systems including X, and file systems. I quit to be employee #4 at Nvidia where Curtis Priem and I did the basic I/O architecture, ”

    “Comprehensive synthesis of the technological, ecological and political critique of blockchainism”

  18. Infection and equity / inequality & culture.

    Jon Zelner at Statmodeling says, and imo is much appreciated and overdue;

    …”The paper came out of a lot of discussion between all of the authors about why the broad majority of infectious disease transmission models have not typically treated equity – the distribution of who gets infected as a function of wealth, race/ethnicity, gender, and on – as a first-class concern alongside population-level patterns of incidence and mortality.”.. 

    “There are no equal opportunity infectors”

    Posted on February 14, 2022 12:30 PM by Jon Zelner

    “There are no equal opportunity infectors: Epidemiological modelers must rethink our approach to inequality in infection risk

    Jon Zelner, Nina B. Masters, Ramya Naraharisetti, Sanyu A. Mojola, Merlin Chowkwanyun, Ryan Malosh

    “However, these models have largely not accounted for the social and structural factors, which lead to socioeconomic, racial, and geographic health disparities. In this piece, we raise and attempt to clarify several questions relating to this important gap in the research and practice of infectious disease modeling: Why do epidemiologic models of emerging infections typically ignore known structural drivers of disparate health outcomes? What have been the consequences of a framework focused primarily on aggregate outcomes on infection equity? What should be done to develop a more holistic approach to modeling-based decision-making during pandemics? In this review, we evaluate potential historical and political explanations for the exclusion of drivers of disparity in infectious disease models for emerging infections, which have often been characterized as “equal opportunity infectors” despite ample evidence to the contrary. We look to examples from other disease systems (HIV, STIs) and successes in including social inequity in models of acute infection transmission as a blueprint for how social connections, environmental, and structural factors can be integrated into a coherent, rigorous, and interpretable modeling framework. We conclude by outlining principles to guide modeling of emerging infections in ways that represent the causes of inequity in infection as central rather than peripheral mechanisms.”

    Citation: Zelner J, Masters NB, Naraharisetti R, Mojola SA, Chowkwanyun M, Malosh R (2022)
    “There are no equal opportunity infectors: Epidemiological modelers must rethink our approach to inequality in infection risk.”
    PLoS Comput Biol 18(2): e1009795.

  19. When the history books are written about the 2022 Russia-Ukraine affair, I wonder if historians will look at Trump’s actions before this, i.e. President Trump’s attacks on NATO members, and Trump’s attempt to engineer a situation in Ukraine that would allow him to use some of the (allegedly corrupt) elements of the political class to “find dirt” on Hunter Biden, and by extension, on Joe Biden. As crazy as that sounds, it is what is behind it that is fascinating, i.e. the attempted settling of political scores would have, as collateral damage, potentially destabilised the new Ukrainian government, if not for the “perfect” phone call readout and subsequent impeachment. Put it this way, if the Trump plan had succeeded, either Biden would not now be president, leaving a NATO-hating dictator in power of the USA, or at the very least have created tensions between President Biden and the Ukrainian government. Trump didn’t care less about the Ukraine, or their very real effort to become a vibrant and vital democracy; he just wanted an attack point against his most important rival at the time, i.e. Joe Biden as candidate for the president’s seat of office.

  20. Don, the history books would no doubt be as varied about the misnamed 2022 Russia-Ukraine affair as the 2013 US-Ukraine affair.

  21. Switzerland finally laying ceiminal charges against a bank.

    I wonder if Philipp Lisibach knew about the Bulgaria assassinations?(^1.) He will tell us though, how to protect and increase capital over Russia Ukraine tensions.
    Know bankers ethics?

    “Credit Suisse strategist backs these parts of the market if Russia-Ukraine tensions ease

    “Philipp Lisibach, chief global strategist at Credit Suisse, discusses his stock positioning in the event that concerns about a Russian invasion of Ukraine subside.”

    Switerland first. Criminal charges against a bank. As PJ O”Rouke said; ” … no drug, not even alcohol, causes the fundamental ills of society [banking]. If we’re looking for the source of our troubles, we shouldn’t test people [bankers] for drugs, we should test them for stupidity, ignorance, greed and love of power.”

    “Credit Suisse faces trial in drug-tied money laundering case

    “A Swiss criminal court is opening a trial on charges that Credit Suisse failed to do enough to stop money laundering linked to drug trafficking by a Bulgarian criminal organization”

    “‘Credit Suisse managers knew clients were potential criminals’

    “Even after a second assassination, the bank did not feel compelled to question its Bulgarian clients’ activities further.”
    (Hope you’ve taken your statins Ikon ☺ )

  22. It would be interesting to see an inquiry into global banking and its operations in black markets. In Australia we have had some doubtful practices by a few banks. I am sure this is an area that is worth investigating on a global scale. Crypto currencies are circulating at an accelerating rate. This may be a good starting point for the global banking regulator.

  23. QUICK! Ask Picketty a question.

    JQ, others, what questions please.
    “What should I ask Thomas Piketty?
    by  Tyler Cowen 

    “I will be doing a Conversation with him.  So what should I ask?

    “Do note he has a new book coming out A Brief History of Equality.
    My Q: how, when and by what strategies and tactics, and in what order, do you propose to actuallly implement your thesis?

    I understand this question is not Picketty’s focus , it is a question of society and politics yet if not implemented, are they of value further than academic, historic & theoretical use?

    “Has there never been a better time for Australia to embrace the 4-day week?

    “How did Summers stumble?

    “What of US democracy?

    “What of… [ subject ] …Covid / pandemic / response / ‘lockdowns’?

    “A Brief History of Equality.

  24. Gregory McKenzie, it seems your wish;
    “It would be interesting to see an inquiry into global banking and its operations in black markets. In Australia we have had some doubtful practices by a few banks” (& service co’s) will be granted.

    “AUSTRAC to probe Bell Potter over compliance concerns

    “AUSTRAC has ordered an external audit into all three of Bell Financial’s, entities saying it has “reasonable grounds” to suspect breaches of anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing rules. It is the first such request for an external audit of a broker, AUSTRAC confirmed”

    I was once assigned in the ’90’s to assist a Bell Potter legal eagle as interface for technical engineering analysis when I was a chief factom for ‘the’ premier engineering consultancy.

    The target of Bell Potter via a forensic legal and technical team didn’t stand a chance. Only the likes of Twiggy, Gina or resource companies could out gun them.

  25. Ikonoclast will feel vindicated by this news, not that it is good news.

    Japanese researchers have released a preprint, in which they claim that the Omicron subvariant BA.2 (so-called “stealth Omicron”) is probably 30–50% more contagious than the original Omicron BA.1. They found that it has resistance to some drugs that have been developed for use in case of infection, and the current PCR testing needs an extra “step” to be able to detect this particular subvariant.

    They point out that so far, the data on severity of BA.2 is mixed. On the downside, BA.2 is more effective at making human cells clump together, which enables higher reproduction of the virus, and can be more damaging to the relevant organs, such as the lungs; this is one of the issues with the Delta variant. On the upside, having been previously infected with Omicron BA.1 does seem to increase immunity to BA.2, and getting a booster also seems to improve resistance to BA.2.

    My take on this is that it once again underscores how we need to forget about pre-pandemic normal, and to replace that with careful development of a long-term strategy for co-existing with the virus in all its forms. Putting our collective heads in the sand and pretending we can go back to pre-covid normality simply means many more people will suffer needlessly from Covid, and many more avoidable deaths from Covid will occur. Denialism is pretty popular in government circles these days…

    What could we do to mitigate the risk of peril from future variants? Well, if we concentrated effort on having a surge capacity for super-rapid vaccination of the population with booster shots, so it could be done in a matter of a handful of weeks, rather than over many months, and if we retained masks, making proper N95 masks as the standard, improved ventilation and air conditioning of large buildings like pubs and clubs and schools, used isolation of positive cases, maintained/increased the widespread use of PCR as a means of tracking the spread of the different variants and subvariants, maintained QR code check-ins, and made RATs available for free for people on welfare or low income, and no doubt other measures too, then we could deal with the future threats as they arise, having mitigated the risks as much as possible without too much impact on businesses and trade, or on life in general,

    Without putting in place a set of long-standing measures such as the aforementioned, we will be forever hostage to fortune, with respect to the SARS-Cov-2 coronavirus and all its variants. It goes without saying that from what we’ve seen in Australia’s federal government to date, they have no appetite for addressing the most likely long term situation with respect to the longevity of SARS-Cov-2 circulating in the human societies around the world.

  26. Don,

    Correct and there are even more reasons to worry abut Omicron BA.2;

    (1) COVID19 is now the leading cause of death from disease for those under 5 years old (USA). This relates to the Omicron variant(s).

    (2) “SUB-VARIANT SURGING—Omicron 2.0 is rising—the #BA2 sublineage of #Omicron has *tripled* in one week, dislodging the old Omicron from total dominance—BA2 now at 3.6% and climbing fast. Expect to be dominant by March. Omicron reinfections are possible. – Erid Feigl Ding, data from CDC.

    (3) 49% MORE SEVERE IN KIDS AGE 0-4—New South Africa CDC report shows that #Omicron has much high case-hospitalization in kids – 48.9% higher case-admission rate than Delta—25% higher in kids 5-17. Kids 0-4 case-admission rate also higher than in elderly! https – Eric Feigl Ding, Jan 23.

    Our media in Australia are reporting none of this. Our politicians are removing mandates just as Denmark did, This winter season in Australia will be a disaster for vulnerable people and the unvaccinated. Our elites and politicians seem incapable of learning. Our media are lying to us by omission of key stories and facts. The populace itself has been fooled into a false sense of complacency.

    Finally, even if we vaccinate to a very high level, dangerous new variants can develop without other controls in place and also without adequate vaccination in the third world, especially Africa. We are still heading towards disaster. What’s it going to take for people to wise up?

    We have very clearly entered a new era making necropolitics more applicable to Westerners who had previously been somewhat safe from necropolitics.

    – – –

    “Necropolitics is the use of social and political power to dictate how some people may live and how some must die. The deployment of necropolitics creates what Mbembe calls deathworlds, or “new and unique forms of social existence in which vast populations are subjected to living conditions that confer upon them the status of the living dead.”[1] Achille Mbembe, author of On the Postcolony, was the first scholar to explore the term in depth in his 2003 article,[2] and later, his 2019 book of the same name.[1] Mbembe identifies racism as a prime driver of necropolitics, stating that racialized people’s lives are systemically cheapened and habituated to loss….

    Necropolitics is often discussed as an extension of biopower, the Foucauldian term for the use of social and political power to control people’s lives. Foucault first discusses the concepts of biopower and biopolitics in his 1976 work, The Will to Knowledge: The History of Sexuality Volume I.[3] Foucault presents biopower as a mechanism for “protecting”, but acknowledges that this protection often manifests itself as subjugation of non-normative populations.[3] The creation and maintenance of institutions that prioritize certain populations as more valuable is, according to Foucault, how population control has been normalized.[3]

    Mbembe’s concept of necropolitics acknowledges that contemporary state-sponsored death cannot be explained by the theories of biopower and biopolitics, stating that “under the conditions of necropower, the lines between resistance and suicide, sacrifice and redemption, martyrdom and freedom are blurred.”[2] Jasbir Puar assumes that discussions of biopolitics and necropolitics must be intertwined, as, “the latter makes its presence known at the limits and through the excess of the former; the former masks the multiplicity of its relationships to death and killing in order to enable the proliferation of the latter”.[4]

    Mbembe was clear that necropolitics is more than a right to kill (Foucault’s droit de glaive), but also the right to expose other people (including a country’s own citizens) to death.” – Wikipedia.

    – – –

    We see the necroplitics of the neoliberal right where they now assert their right to expose other people, even citizens of their own country, to preventable deaths in the name of “freedom” interpreted as the right to consume in unsafe ways and in unsafe settings and in doing so spread a dangerous contagion to others who belong to more vulnerable minorities, racially, economically and medically. It IS social Darwinist and it IS (ultimately) eugenicist, by default if not by premeditated design.

  27. Don,  “Ikonoclast will feel vindicated by this news, not that it is good news.”.+1 Ikon and more grist for your mill.

    Nor is this good news. Long long term effects which we still haven’t proven since the Spanish flu. And newly discovered “immune amnesia” via measles! (^2.)

    Yet, worse is “the invisibility of these individuals owes much to a failure of collective memory.”. I kniw we are (some of ‘us’) are fiening blindness to our current Omicron deaths, and with government messaging and language choice, priming us for collective forgetting. Same with wars, GFC etc. I assume.

    Ikon, we are mostly just dumb humans so ascribing eugenics far and wide misses the nuances of collective memory, brain funcrion and traumatic lives / events imo.

    “Pandemics disable people — the history lesson that policymakers ignore

    “Influenza, polio and more have shown that infections can change lives even decades later. Why the complacency over possible long-term effects of COVID-19?

    “The invisibility of disability is not new, says Shew, a 38-year-old philosopher who explores the intersection of technology and disability at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg. “But it is particularly deadly that we don’t frame COVID-19 as a disability issue,” she says. “Even linguistically we’re pointed away from it. ‘Pre-existing conditions’ is a way of not saying ‘disability’.”

    “For Kaufert, the invisibility of these individuals owes much to a failure of collective memory. As their hard-won autonomy seeped away, they often reached out to the respiratory physicians who had treated them initially. But many had retired, and younger clinicians showed less interest. “It was really hard to build a career on an illness from the past,” Kaufert says.

    “In the 1980s, medical researcher Albert Sabin, who developed the polio vaccine that replaced Salk’s, drew attention to post-polio syndrome, and March of Dimes took up the cause. It quickly became clear that there would be no silver bullet, no equivalent of the vaccine. The solution would involve mixing and matching therapies to suit each individual. That was a harder sell to the money-giving public.”

    Immune Amnesia. DON’T catch measles!!!

    “Measles Makes Your Immune System Forget Its Protections Against Past Illness

    …”scientists have discovered why this is: measles causes “immune amnesia”.

    “Enter “immune amnesia”, a mysterious phenomenon that’s been with us for millennia, though it was only discovered in 2012. Essentially, when you’re infected with measles, your immune system abruptly forgets every pathogen it’s ever encountered before — every cold, every bout of flu, every exposure to bacteria or viruses in the environment, every vaccination. The loss is near-total and permanent. Once the measles infection is over, current evidence suggests that your body has to re-learn what’s good and what’s bad almost from scratch.

    “In a way, infection of the measles virus basically sets the immune system to default mode,” says Mansour Haeryfar, a professor of immunology at Western University, Canada, “as if it has never encountered any microbes in the past”.

    “This re-learning process takes up to three years, which “around the time it takes infants to acquire immunity to everyday pathogens in the first place”. In the meantime…

  28. Serendipity Ikon, right on cue I opened this which sort of explains my statement to you re eugenics too far.

    “Lost for Words: Anxiety, Well-being, and the Costs of Conceptual Deprivation

    by Ditte Marie Munch-Jurisic (University of Copenhagen).

    “In my new article for the Synthese topical collection “Worry and Wellbeing: Understanding Anxiety”, I identify one epistemic problem which has not been properly addressed by this new wave of research; to benefit from a surge of negative affect, agents need to be able to conceptualize and make sense of their internal, physiological states (Berntson, Gianaros, and Tsakiris 2018). Whether agents will understand their stress as potentially productive, or distressing (and potentially harmful) will depend on what hermeneutic equipment they have available to discern their emotional and physiological responses. 

    “By hermeneutic equipment, I am referring to the interpretive tools we rely on to understand the world and ourselves, i.e. the words, names, and concepts we apply to our emotional states both through (i) slow, deliberate processes of conscious thought and reflection and (ii) fast, automatic processes where we rely on mental short-cuts like cognitive biases, scripts, and other heuristics (Evans and Stanovich 2013). 

    In the paper I argue that…”…


  29. ^1. Democracy damaged by “the current government to the ABC – is profoundly undemocratic in two ways.” say Fergus Pitt and Quentin Dempster AM 

    ^2. ABC MD David Anderson’s “Now More Than Ever: Australia’s ABC”*

    ^3. Censorship – (love Mad as Hell) and “Seven West Media’s West Australian newspaper locked out 102 printers”

    Scary. Lucky we get a dose of democracy every couple of years. Forget “economics” if these vile & grotesque ideologues keep power.

    1,2 & 3 ironically found here:
    “ABC statistics, a new report reveals the relative value of the public broadcaster’s service to taxpayers.
    > The ABC is provided with $41 for each Australian every year
    > services which include the streaming service iView,
    > four broadcast television channels,
    > 11 national and digital radio services,
    > a 53-station local radio network, national news, local news for 53 regions,
    > audio streaming and
    >specialist websites.

    “By comparison, the cheapest Netflix subscription costs $131.88 a year, a digital-only subscription to the Australian newspaper costs $520 a year and a Spotify subscription will set you back $143.88.

    “The total for the three subscriptions would be $795.76 a year or almost 20 times the ABC’s per capita funding, according to a report by former staffers Quentin Dempster and Fergus Pitt about the contemporary history of political interference and harassment directed at the ABC.”…

    “the usual hectoring by Tasmanian senator Eric Abetz who loves to cut him off mid-sentence, Anderson was asked how many hours a year he spent at estimates. Anderson, who released a 90-page essay about the public broadcaster this week, said he spent 13 or 14 hours at estimates each year and countless hours answering questions on notice.” ^2.

    “Insidious And Intentional: Political Interference And Harassment Of The ABC

    Fergus Pitt and Quentin Dempster AM

    “The current Coalition Government has enacted a sustained and intentional campaign of political interference, pressure, and harassment of the ABC, aimed to harm and impede this vital civic institution.

    “This report investigates the broad range of new and historical tactics and mechanisms used by the Coalition – to interfere, harass, and pressure the ABC – that only when presented together reveal a systematic campaign across multiple fronts and upheld for many years.

    “The key recommendations of the report are:

    ” Government hostility – like that shown by  it attacks a crucial organ in our public sphere, and it’s counter to the needs and demonstrated preferences of the Australian people that value and rely on the ABC so much.”

    Follow with; Anderson’s who 90-page essay about the public broadcaster.

    “Now More Than Ever: Australia’s ABC”, Anderson

    And more government interference of free expression :

    “Take down
    “Twitter melted down when Shaun Micallef revealed Mad as Hell had been taken down from iView to be edited. Were they too harsh on the prime minister they asked?”…

    And the capital over workers kicker in Meade’s Guardian article following above;

    “Stop the press
    “Seven West Media’s West Australian newspaper locked out 102 printers on 4 February after their rejection of the proposed enterprise bargaining agreement which the union says would slash workers’ terms and conditions.”

  30. Some degree of dependency on Russian gas was a deliberate choice in some western nations, dateing back to Sovjet times. A choice made from a position of relative strenght. Now the Russian position is even weaker. The mid till long term prospect for the value of oil and gas are rather bad for the reasons already discussed a lot here and the rest of the Russian export economy is also rather getting worse than better. The most plausible explanation for Putins escalation strategy is that covid times where particular bad in Russia, so he´s doing some jingoist games to increase popular support. Escalation at this point is also consistent with realpolitic frameworks when one predicts a forther relative decline. The frameworks are stupid in general and in a situation like that with many nukes in particular if you ask me, but they seem to have quite a few supporteres with decission power in Russia as well as in Nato nations. Makeing money seems on unplausible goal. Mainly because that should not work on any sustainable basis.

  31. A good initiative but a slave labour amount which “promotes the establishment of an effective and fair tax system.”

    For $10,000 Canadian or $11,110 AUS.
    “Your mission is to pilot an innovative project, the scope of which may be of an academic, media-based, or social nature, but which promotes the establishment of an effective and fair tax system to deal with the following topics:
    ● Billionaires, a Global Issue;
    ● Taxation and Philanthropy: Beyond Borders;
    ● Tax Cooperation for the Environment.

    It’s important to us to make Quebec’s tax expertise shine while highlighting a specific issue in Quebec: 
    ● Public Services, Social Programs, and Tax Breaks: is the Quebec Model Sustainable in the Long Term?
    “Submit your draft project for a chance to win CAD 10,000 to help you complete it.”

    Anti racism policy campaign for ONE initiative;
    “Thunder Bay urged to join campaign against Quebec’s Bill 21

    ““I have personally asked for our city to contribute something in the neighbourhood of $10,000,” he said, calling that a “small but meaningful” amount.

    “Brampton and Toronto each contributed $100,000 to the fight, while Victoria contributed just under $10,000.”
    Q: How much money & time to come up with an alternate tax system, promote and acceptance? $n billions?

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