Links 1/30/2020

Major banks to pull contributions for Florida school vouchers because of anti-LGBTQ discrimination Tampa Bay Times. Now do union organizing.

Newsom says PG&E ‘no longer exists,’ doubles down on state takeover San Francisco Chronicle


The Truth About ‘Dramatic Action’ China Media Project. Must-read from Wuhan.

How Wuhan residents are trying to make the best of the coronavirus lockdown CNN. From Wuhan:

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Retweeted by Michael Pettis:

China’s Coronavirus Impacts Everything: What Your Business Should Do NOW China Law Blog

SARS And What I Learned About Keeping A Business Running During A Coronavirus Epidemic SupChina

* * *

Early Transmission Dynamics in Wuhan, China, of Novel Coronavirus–Infected Pneumonia NEJM. n=425; data up to and including January 4.

Coronavirus infections set to overtake Sars total FT

Cripes. Coronavirus number rockets again MacroBusiness

Coronavirus Is No Ebola, and That Presents a Different Problem Bloomberg. Same argument made at NC here: “[T]he mortality rate of the coronovirus isn’t so high as to deter many who might have it from taking risks.”

2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), Wuhan, China CDC. Resource page.

Coronavirus Misinformation Is Spreading All Over Social Media Bloomberg. Second-order virality…

* * *

Hong Kong unions threaten strikes in push for border closure to curb virus Reuters

Australians will need to pay $1000 to be evacuated from Wuhan Sydney Morning Herald. Classy!


Donald Trump may visit in February, trade & defence deals on table Indian Express


Leaving the EU is horrible, but it is the only way to preserve our democratic liberal nation state Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, The Telegraph

Britain needs to rediscover failure if it wants to prosper The Spectator. I’m sure opportunities will be plentiful.

There is triumph as well as tragedy in the story of Britain and Europe Guardian

Strikes stab at the heart of the Finnish model Deutsche Welle


Netanyahu Goes Where No Israeli Leader Has Gone for Votes Bloomberg

CIA chief ‘behind Soleimani’s assassination’ killed in downed plane in Afghanistan Middle East Monitor

A year after sanctions, Venezuela’s embattled oil industry hangs on Reuters

Despite U.S. sanctions, a South Florida businessman is linked to Venezuela’s gold industry Miami Herald

Bolivia’s Interim Government Gets Minor Facelift Ahead of Elections Latin American Herald Tribune


What We Learned on Day Eight of the Trump Impeachment Trial Ed Kilgore, New York Magazine. Looks like McConnell has the votes to prevent additional witnesses and evidence. As of this writing!

Senators take reins of impeachment trial in marathon question session The Hill

Impeachment trial of President Trump CNN. Live blog for the day.

Trump’s effort to block Bolton’s testimony makes little sense — unless he’s guilty WaPo. Liberal heaves the presumption of innocence over the side. Clarifying!

Trump Transition

US will keep tariffs on China even if coronavirus starts hurting growth, Trump advisor Peter Navarro says CNBC. Classy!

Ajit Pai promised faster broadband expansion—Comcast cut spending instead Ars Technica


Freedom Rider: Negroes for Bloomberg Black Agenda Report

Super PAC Attacks Sanders in an Ad. Sanders Raises $1.3 Million in a Day. NYT. Ultimately, diminishing returns for the Sanders campaign, though.

Bernie Sanders Thinks Companies That Sell Your Browser History Are ‘Trampling Over the Rights of Consumers’ Vice

Bernie Could Win the Nomination. Should We Be Afraid? Michelle Goldberg, NYT. Of course, “we” should. Fear is the existential position of the professional-managerial class. Interfluidity: “In a stratified, liberal capitalist society, the ability to command market power, to charge a margin sufficiently above the cost of inputs to cover the purchase of positional goods, becomes the definition of caste. When goods like health, comfort, safety, and one’s children’s life prospects are effectively price-rationed, individuals will lever themselves to the hilt to purchase their place. The result is a strange precariat, objectively wealthy, educated and in a certain sense well-intended, who justify as a matter of defensive necessity participation in arrangements whose ugliness they cannot quite not see. In aggregate, they are predators, but individually they are also prey, and they feel embattled. So long as the intensity of stratification endures, they will feel like they have little choice but to participate in, even to collude to entrench, the institutions that secure their market power and their relatively decent place.” If it wasn’t Russia, or Trump, or Sanders, it would be some other form of displacement.

Boeing 737 MAX

Boeing reports worst full-year loss in its history, but CEO Calhoun vows ‘we’ll get through it’ Seattle Times

Calhoun faces first test on labor issues Leeham News and Analysis

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

The Rise of the Video Surveillance Industrial Complex The Intercept

Ring Doorbell App Packed with Third-Party Trackers EFF. Because of course it is.

New York Times Journalist Targeted by Saudi-linked Pegasus Spyware Operator Citizen Lab

Health Care

Among poorest 20 percent of Americans, one-third of income goes to health care: study Salon

9 things Americans need to learn from the rest of the world’s health care systems Vox

Realignment and Legitimacy

A Popular Front to Stop Trump Garry Kasparov, NYRB (DRS).

There Is No Accountability For Destructive Policies Daniel Larison, The American Conservative. ” It is no wonder that there is no accountability when sins of omission are considered fatal errors and sins of commission don’t count at all.”

Can a Socialist Truck Driver Become the Youngest Member of Congress? GQ (!).

Libertarians Can’t Save the Planet Jacobin

How Aaron Sorkin killed ‘Mockingbird’ Nonzero

Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.:

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. The Rev Kev


    May I point out that there are now only 24 hours left until Brexit according to the Brexit Clock-

    The truth of the matter is that the UK joined a Common Market but when it evolved to become a European Union, this was a whole other animal that was capable of making countries doing repeated referendums until they got the “right” result. How this will work out in the long run will be up to future historians.

    Certainly bad at first but that also depends on the future fortunes of the European Union itself so who can tell? But we do have to ask ourselves – just what did the European Union ever do for the United Kingdom-

    1. Clive

      “They took everything we had! And not just from our fathers, but our fathers’ fathers!”

      “And our fathers’ fathers’ fathers…”

      1. shtove

        “… for three months.”

        I may have misunderestimerembered the length of Donald Sutherland’s ban on Lisa Simpson.

    2. New Wafer Army

      Not quite true. Legislative changes were made for the second referendum in Ireland. I don’t know about other countries, but let’s not verge in EUSSR type rhetoric.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Ireland was twice required to conduct a second referendum and so was Denmark once-

        The EU either sweetened the pot or did a big PR campaign to get what they wanted or more typically denied many countries a say in a referendum but said that as their governments had given the OK to the question, that that was as good as a referendum.

        But I do like your EUSSR quip.

        1. vlade

          EU “denied many countries a say in a referendum”. Duh? Can you be specific how the EU prevented any country from running a referendum? The EU law says “in line with the country’s constitutional arrangements” (or similar) in such cases. Irish constitution required a referendum. Other countries constitutions don’t. It’s really as simple as that.

          1. The Rev Kev

            The blowback that you are seeing in countries like the UK, Poland and Hungary may actually reflect an unhappiness with those “arrangements” made on the people’s behalf, sometimes centuries before. The EU is having a hissy fit at those countries not be willing to obey Brussels’s wishes such as accepting mass migrants of unknown pedigree. And most of those countries are supposed to be representative democracies. But when a country boasts that it is a representative democracy, I always ask myself who exactly is being represented in that democracy.

            1. Oh

              It may be said that most representatives don’t work for the common good; only for corporations and rich people. People think that being able to cast a vote without keeping these “representatives” on a leash is Democracy.

                1. anon

                  I’ve always agreed with the quip “Don’t Vote, it only encourages them” and behaved likewise for several decades. Apart from the one time in the mid-80s when I went in to vote for Maggie Thatcher. Luckily there was a “Monster Loony Raving Party” candidate standing in my constituency so at the last gasp I saw the light. The rest is history.

            2. fajensen

              It may also be said that Poland and Hungary were always borderline failed states with dubious democratic credentials – that the EU was sadly stupid enough to overlook in order to gorge itself on more cheap labour from Eastern Europe.

              One quick look at Jobbik, with their quaint little uniforms …. and one should “get it”!

              1. Anonymous2

                Ironically the UK was the major proponent of expanding eastwards. Then of course it complained about the consequences and blamed the EU. Par for the course really.

                1. Yves Smith

                  Yes, the UK wanted the new Eastern European entrants to dilute the influence of Germany and France, which the UK thought it could use to its advantage. And the UK estimated it would only have 50,000 immigrants from Poland the year after Poland joined. It instead got 500,000.

          2. Yassine

            Technically yes, but when France voted No at 55% in the referendum on the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe, it got turned into the Lisbon Treaty by essentially removing the constitutional aspects, so that it could be approved without a referendum.

            This allowed the European integration to go even further at the “technical” level without the constitutional legitimacy needed to balance out the political implications of the current level of “technical” integration

        2. MLTPB

          Ukraine did not require a second referendum.

          Russia, actually. V. (one is good enough for me) Putin moved in right away.

    3. Anonymous2

      Thank you Rev for the Monty Python sketch – quite appropriate in its way.

      Sorry if I am being a bore but anyone who was paying real attention in 1972 knew that the intention was that the EEC evolve – there were already plans for monetary union though they were put on the backburner until the Berlin Wall came down. Mind you the politicians and newspapers did not spell things out for the electorate or their readers which may be why many feel they were misled.

    4. fajensen

      Yes, I should divorce my wife because she didn’t tell me 30 years ago that she would become fatter?

      1. Carey

        >Yes, I should divorce my wife because she didn’t tell me 30 years ago that she would become fatter?

        Something seems off with that analogy, and I’ll bet you can figure out what.

    5. gordon

      Poor old Brits; they still think of themselves as independent but the only real choice they have is whether to be servants of the Germans, the Americans or the Chinese.

  2. PlutoniumKun

    Just to say to Yves and Lambert many thanks for the Coronovirus coverage. The choice of links and btl discussions are outstanding. I’ve been talking to a few medical people and also contacts in China and I find that I know more than most of them thanks to NC’s non-hysterical coverage and links – there are very few other sources out there as good, mostly because nearly all sources either know the science well, but not the Chinese situation, or vice versa. To understand the risks with this virus, you need to understand both.

    1. Ignacio

      I said it yesterday and repeat it today. Yes, very good coverage and it is remarkable given it is easy to fall prey of one’s or other’s fears.

    2. Larry Y

      “The Truth about ‘Dramatic Action'” is a real gem. The timeline and names in there confirmed what I suspected was going on, that the Chinese governments (local, provincial, and national) weren’t fully upfront, due to reasons of “social stability” and “economy”.

      Even now, the words and actions don’t quite match up. What aren’t the Chinese governments telling their people, the international scientific and public health community, and foreign governments?

      1. RWood

        But, but—
        “But the real numbers are still unknown.“
        The experts were quick to note that the Chinese are not willfully underreporting cases. Rather, the approach is a testament to how challenging data collection can be during the early days of an epidemic. When thousands of sick people show up at hospitals looking for care, there is no time to go searching for people who have mild symptoms and who have stayed home.

    3. Milton

      Another Esri-hosted 2019-nCoV Coronavirus dashboard. This one seems to be updated on a more regular basis. Click the tabs, just below the map, for WHO and CDC updates.
      Novel Coronavirus Status In the World
      I’m a Geographer, not an epidemiologist, so I’m not asserting the course of this virus one way or another.

      1. Brooklin Bridge

        It looks like a double or redundant quotation mark erroneously gets placed at the end of the resultant url. For those using the link, after clicking on the link and getting the error, remove the quotation mark from the very end of the URL and refresh (run query again) to resolve problem.

    4. Kevin C. Smith

      Great work, very helpful.
      Some folks infected with SARS or MERS had long-term sequelae. If this happens with Hunan CoV it could influence the dependency ratio in affected societies, and also affect labor force availability, even after the pandemic has subsided.
      To give you a feel for the reasonably likely sequelae Hunan CoV, here are some references to SARS sequelae, and to the less-studied sequelae of MERS:

      SARS Sequelae:Hong Kong Med J 2009;15(Suppl 8):S21-3Long-term sequelae of SARS: physical, neuropsychiatric, and quality-of-life assessmentDSC Hui, KT Wong, GE Antonio, M Tong, DP Chan, JJY SungDepartment of Medicine and Therapeutics, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, NT, Hong Kong   Full paper in PDF 1. Impairment of lung diffusing capacity persisted in 24% of SARS survivors; their exercise capacity and health status were markedly lower than the general population at 1 year after illness onset.
      2. There was no difference in lung function indices, exercise capacity, and health status at 1 year between the intubated and non-intubated SARS patients admitted to the intensive care unit, although the former had more severe lung injury.
      3. The functional disability in SARS survivors appears out of proportion to the degree of lung function impairment and may be due to additional factors such as muscle deconditioning, steroid-related musculoskeletal complications, critical illness-related neuropathy/myopathy, and/or psychological factors.===Prospective study of SARS-infected healthcare workers:Significant impairment of diffusing capacity persisted in24% of SARS survivors; at 12 months after illness onsettheir exercise capacity and health status were markedlydiminished compared to the general population. Furtherfollow-up is needed to assess if these deficits persist.
      fulltext consequent reports from China on some recovered SARS patients showed severe long-time sequelae. The most typical diseases include, among other things, pulmonary fibrosis, osteoporosis, and femoral necrosis, which have led to the complete loss of working ability or even self-care ability of these cases. As a result of quarantine procedures, some of the post-SARS patients have been documented as suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and major depressive disorder.[17][18]

      ======MERS Sequelae:
      In summary, patients with more severe MERS-CoV pneumonia may have more impaired pulmonary function at 1 year, which is compatible with the radiological sequelae.

      1. Roxan

        If they gave them steroids for an extended period, that could account for osteoporosis and bone necrosis, also muscle wasting. I attended a lecture on the 1918 flu yesterday. Our gov’t did virtually nothing to help, and local Philadelphia officials sponsored a huge parade for war bonds that spread the flu rapidly.

    5. David

      I’ve no special fondness for the Chinese government, but it’s important to realise that they are caught here in the classic trap between primary and secondary effects of suspected crises. Put simply, a government that reacts too quickly causes panic, quite possibly deaths and injuries, and winds up looking foolish and loses credibility. A government that reacts too slowly, on the other hand, can produce a catastrophe. When you don’t know quite what you are dealing with, the temptation is to wait, collect information and only act (which includes telling people what to do) when you are sure of the facts. Overreaction is also possible: at the time of the Litvinenko poisoning with a radioactive substance in 2007 in London, the government freaked out completely, convened crisis meetings and had to be persuaded not to close the city down.This time, it looks as though the Chinese got it wrong, but I’m not sure their behaviour was silly or unreasonable .

    6. MaxFinger

      Transcript of @Helen Branswell (good coverage/chat)
      STAT infectious disease reporter Helen Branswell on the new coronavirus that has emerged from China and is quickly spreading around the world — including several cases in the U.S. With the case count steadily rising each day, and with experts warning the virus’ spread may not be able to be contained, where do we go from here?

      The archived chat is available here:

      Thanks again for all the good coverage Yves & Lambert on 2019-nCoV

    7. MLTPB

      For some historical perspective, check out Wiki List of Epedemics.

      Pre15th century, we have:

      Plague of Athens 429 to 426 BC 75,000 to 100,00 dead

      Antonine Plague 165 to 180 AD. 5 to 10 million

      Plague of Justininan 541 to 542 AD, 5 to 50 million death toll. 40% of pop.

      Clicking on the last one, we read the cause was Yersinia pestis, the same as Black Plague and it likely originated in ancient Tian Shan region, near Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Russia, China.

  3. carl

    Re: the Vox article on healthcare. Although I’m sure this wasn’t the author’s intention, the conclusion I draw from it is that the situation in the US is intractable. Unfortunately I came to this same conclusion quite a number of years ago, by simply observing the amounts of money made by all participants in the system. Of course, by now the system has gotten much much worse and private equity has begun to get involved. My travels have taught me that it’s much better to be in some place other than the US when a medical issue arises, because health care in almost anywhere else in the world will be 1. better, or 2. cheaper, or 3. both.
    I continue to follow the Med4all debate in the US with much interest, but being realistic about where my healthcare will come from in the future requires considering emigration.

    1. Bugs Bunny

      On avoiding a health problem while visiting the US, I highly, highly recommend taking out a proper travel insurance policy, including repatriation, before spending any more than a short amount of time there. And even then.

      My traveler’s nightmare is a car accident in the US that sends me or Mrs Bunny to the hospital. They wouldn’t even know what to make of us.

      As an aside, I spent a lot of time visiting a dying friend in a US hospital last year and was shocked by a number of things that had changed since I lived there about 2 decades ago, but the strangest were the luxurious marble and granite common areas in the hospital entrance (a fountain?) and the armed guards and bulletproof glass in emergency room admitting.

      1. carl

        Yes, it’s interesting that people in the US haven’t quite caught on to all the implications of the dysfunctional system we have. I am on a travel forum where a recent discussion concerned which travel insurance to purchase when traveling outside the US, including costs for repatriating back here from abroad, to which I wondered, “why would you want to come back here for healthcare?”

        1. Krystyn Walentka

          Why come back indeed. My first interaction with European health care was when I lived with my French girlfriend for a summer in Paris in 1987. We both has gotten food poising from something but I was way worse off. I told them I needed to go to the doctor, they all looked at me funny. Next thing I knew a doctor was at the house and through interpretation he confirmed my diagnosis. He wrote a script and they picked it up. I told them I would pay for it and they looked at me funny again and her father said; “He must still be delirious, he thinks he is still in America.”

          One of many experiences in my life that created my socialist tilt.

          1. lordkoos

            Indeed. I have a friend who in his younger days (late 70s?) was on a train trip across Canada when he became severely ill with the flu… they took him off the train and kept him in the hospital for the better part of a week, no charge.

          2. hoki haya

            bronchitis in brussels. saw the doc about 20 minutes after calling for an appointment, received antibiotics, longer-term holistic medicines, and an inhaler. 8 euro. served with ample portions of humor once we discovered our shared fondness for Zappa.

            a few years later, caught up in the anarchy of downtown athens, beaten briefly unconscious by a kurd, albanian, nigerian working in tandem and with surprise (illegals have no money, organize lil mafias). an ambulance, 3 days in and out of hospitals, catscans stitches medicines, the conceen i would lose sight in left eye.

            no charge. such a thing would have beyond bankruptured me in the States. in agreement with the poster who said the wisest health care plan is never to return to theUS.

            the stitches were removed by docs in Turkey, who admired the Grecians’ work and who also refused money.

            light blue thread, omonia square, where socrates used to sit all night without a word, then stand up at sunrise and walk away with new articulations. ‘omonia’ means ‘harmony’, mmh’yeah.

    2. Dita

      Our healthcare situation in the US is intractable, but I find it somewhat heartening to learn about the fight for universal coverage in other countries – and it’s always a fight, it seems. Whether I’ll live long enough to see it change here is another story!

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          Th UK instituted National Health in 1948 when the country was absolutely on its knees financially. Totally broke. They did it because, of course, it was the right thing to do.

          Summoning the national will to overturn the billionaire/hedge fund/PE cash grab that US sick care has become, in the face of declining life expectancies fer chrissakes, will be monumental. But as the richest country on Earth of course it is highly do-able.

          But Bernie supporters believe that hope is the primary emotion that’s needed in order to prevail. That somehow the people skimming billions and billions of dollars from the US “pay more to die sooner” system will give up their golden gooses if only a few new laws are passed. But that is highly unlikely to work, given the already multi-decade fight for normal healthcare in the US, capped by Obama’s ACA gift to insurance company CEOs.

          I suggest they instead take a lesson from the French: the primary emotion to gin up is anger. The normal institutional channels will hold on to their illegal and immoral money grab schemes with everything they’ve got until they feel a different emotion: fear.

          So in parallel with working and fighting for Bernie it would seem that a national litmus test for each and every local, state, and Federal official is also needed. M4A, no questions asked, or you will lose your job.

          1. RubyDog

            The article is a good reality check as to how difficult it is to change an entrenched system, no matter how dysfunctional and corrupt, when there are extremely rich and powerful interests fighting to maintain the profitable status quo. I get the feeling from some that all we need to do is elect Bernie and all kinds of wonderful things will happen (using MMT to pay for it all). Electing Bernie is probably essential, but it’s just a small first step, along with getting the Senate. Even then not just the Republicans, but the Corporate Dems stand in the way of enacting any fundamental change to the system. We need to fight for progressive candidates at all levels of government, everywhere in every state. We have to appeal to people on a gut level, and anger is certainly one of those gut emotions that need to be tapped. Look at Trump, he’s a master at it.

          2. Lambert Strether Post author

            > They did it because, of course, it was the right thing to do.

            “They” did to preserve their class power, having slaughtered the working class in two successive, global wars. That’s why the voters threw Churchill out when the war was won, and put in Labour.

    3. EMtz

      I do not understand expats in México who have residency visas or even dual citizenship but still shell out big bucks for private insurance including a helicopter back to the dysfunctional US system. Here, a person without insurance can walk into a clinic or hospital (doing research first to know the best one – and some are stellar) for free health care on demand. Just present a Federal ID number and photo ID. No restrictions on pre-existing conditions. No premiums. No enrollment. Just go.

        1. EMtz

          HA! Consider the source.

          Many professionals of all kinds are bilingual here. My opthamologist is multilingual. Of course, if you live here full time, it’s rude to not at least attempt to learn the rudiments of the national language.

          Buen día!

    4. Wilma

      “the amounts of money made by all participants in the system.”
      Nurses? Medical Assistants? Janitors?

  4. The Rev Kev

    “Australians will need to pay $1000 to be evacuated from Wuhan”

    Just for a bit of context for American readers here. Being dumped on Christmas Island would be like having American evacuees being dumped on Midway Island meaning the middle of nowhere. But the Australian evacuees will be dropped off in Perth and have to pay their own way to their city of residence after two weeks quarantine which is a bit rough. Consider – Australia is about the same size as the continental United States so imagine American evacuees being dumped at L.A. Airport and being told to make their own way home. Bit rough if you happen to live in Florida or New York.

    At least they are quarantining these people. But is it worth it being locked up in a very long room with people that may or may not have that virus? A total of 206 Japanese citizens landed at Tokyo’s Haneda airport but there was no quarantine mandated. Afterwards three people were found to have this virus and two had not shown any symptoms at all. Where did the other 203 Japanese go? A second flight landed that had 9 people aboard showing symptoms. Bugger that. it would be safer to stay in Wuhan where at least they are taking this seriously-

    1. Some Guy in Beijing

      Out of the frying pan, into the fire with that quarantine.

      I’m sitting here bored in Beijing after a short and failed trip south for the new year holiday. I say “failed” because everything I wanted to do or see was closed. Even so, I can’t imagine the hell of sitting in that quarantine for two weeks.

      I know a few people who are leaving or planning to leave and ride it out from the US, but I can’t afford it, nor do I have anywhere to go when I arrive on American shores.

      Back in BJ, most of the local restaurants and bars are closed. Fellow expats are organizing house parties and get-togethers to stave off boredom, despite some official statements requesting that people not visit during this time. One of my Chinese friends firmly rejected an offer to hang out.

      The past few weeks, I’ve taken to walking about the city aimlessly. If you’ve never been to Beijing, you may not know that every single city block has at least one area with a guard and a gate. Residential, business, whatever — there’s usually only one way in or out of a place, and usually they are walled in somehow. The guards are usually old guys hired by the owner of the premise, and their job is never to keep people out. Deliveries come and go without notice, 24/7, as do visitors.

      Anyway, it occurred to me a few weeks ago that the entire city is actually designed to funnel and/or pen people in whenever the situation warrants. Right on time, this virus situation has popped up and it seems that I’m right. University students nearby are restricted from leaving campus, for example. My building (state-owned apartments lent out to employees), meanwhile, is forcing us to give a temperature reading each time we enter the premise.

      1. Wukchumni

        Thanks for your man on the street report, you wonder how silly it’ll get here eventually?

        This just happened abroad aboard a floating mall…

        Cruise ship with 6,000 people held in Italy as two passengers are tested for coronavirus

        1. MLTPB

          I read Russia closed its border with China, partially

          No confirmed cases there yet, fortunately for Russians.

          Maybe not many people in China or Wuhan vacation in Russia, despite One Belt One Road, despite the coming Asian Heartland Alliance.

          Ordinary Chinese find Vietnam or Thailand more to their liking????

        2. Oregoncharles

          Better a cruise ship – a floating hotel – than some official “quarantine” facility.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > it occurred to me a few weeks ago that the entire city is actually designed to funnel and/or pen people in whenever the situation warrants. Right on time, this virus situation has popped up and it seems that I’m right.

        That is an extremely interesting observation. Is this unique to Beijing, do you know?

        Good luck and stay safe!

        1. Some Guy in Beijing

          It’s not exactly unique to Beijing, but the pervasiveness perhaps is. Other cities I’ve been too have this in newer developments and try to have something like it in older parts of town, but Beijing’s endless rows of apartment blocks and shopping malls seem specifically designed with this in mind.

          One thing I hope the world sees on TV with all of this Wuhan coverage is how stupid and ugly Chinese cities look. China does a lot of stuff pretty well, but not urban development aesthetics

    2. smoker

      The US State Department outclassed the Australian Government by at least $100 more per evacuation ticket, more if they charged more for adults:

      Rhode Island family among 125 Americans evacuated from coronavirus Ground Zero in Wuhan reveal life inside the quarantined air base where they are being held

      Stockstill has been hit with a bill of $4,400 for the family of four, including their two young children, to get out.

      About that flight across the US back to Rhode Island:

      His sister is now raising money for the family via a GoFundMe page to help them come up with the funds for their flights back from China and, eventually, their flights from California to Rhode Island.

      The mandatory quarantine at the base is only three days:

      Now that they are on the air base, they are not allowed to leave their rooms.

      They have food and water but they have to ‘wait it out’ for three days before being cleared for onward travel.

      (Note that title is confusing, further down in the piece it implies 195 Americans were evacuated, and another Daily Mail piece from today noted 201 Americans got on the flight. Then again, the Daily Mail is always loaded with typos, gender misclassifications and photos with reversed images. Wonder how many AI Bot ‘Reporters’ they might have.)

    3. Tomonthebeach

      I think that the scary part of Corona is this may be a growing trend. The mythical four horsemen are the allostasis enforcers who protect the globe’s ecological balance. China remains way over-populated. That was not such a big problem as long as the economy was mostly comprised of subsistence farmers in isolated villages. However, as the economy grew, villages became megacities and mobility increased dramatically. Thus, humans more easily become national, then global, disease vectors.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > I think that the scary part of Corona is this may be a growing trend.

        Globalization. Taleb is right that increasing social distance is the answer. Mass tourism is, as it were, Chinese Roulette. Maybe the world doesn’t need as many aircraft. Maybe all our optimizations also optimize for disease vectors. For example, after deregulation, the airlines changed from point-to-point route-maps to hub and spoke (hubs like O’Hare, or Frankfurt, or, I suppose, Beijing Capital International). What happens to and at those hubs in a pandemic?

  5. JohnnyGL

    That quote from Steve Randy Waldman at Interfluidity is excellent!

    While canvassing this past weekend, I ran into a physics prof at a small, private college who was ‘never Sanders’ because he considered the competition from free in-state tuition to be a clear and present danger to his career, his employer, and to the value of the privileges he enjoyed of having free tuition for his kids at that institution.

    I think that was the most clear and honest class warrior I’ve met for quite some time!

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Yes, quite the demonstration of wordsmithery, but I think Upton Sinclair found a less convoluted way to express the same sentiment when he wrote, ““It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”

      It occurs to me, in an Upstairs, Downstairs kinda way, that these new “white-knucklers” are coming to know the same terror they imposed, without mercy or remorse, on those who were once masters of their own “caste”– “middle class,” blue collar, union labor.

      Can’t say I’m sorry to see it happening or that it isn’t richly deserved. And then some. Did they really think they were immune?

      1. jrs

        All that imposed on blue collar labor was 40 years ago, most of these people griping now probably aren’t old enough to have played any part in it.

        Yea, yea, it’s like one of those “sins of slavery”” things, where noone living has owned black slaves, as that was over 150 years ago, but all white people are somehow guilty. The vast majority of those voting are going to millennial plus Gen X at this point. They weren’t old enough to vote for Reagan, most not old enough to even vote for Bill Clinton.

        1. inode_buddha

          Bullshit. Blue collar labor is being imposed on right now, thank you very much. I know, because I started working back then, and I’m still in the game.

          It is a slap in the face to work until you are in your 50’s and then see how proud of themselves the bosses are that they so generously give you a whole $15 an hour and the health insurance take $750 a month out of that.

          It is a slap in the face when you put yourself through trade schools at own expense and have decades of experience which counts for ZERO because it wasn’t acquired at the same company that was paying you 4 bucks an hour back then.

          I’m not the only one, I’ve met thousands like myself just in my area.

          1. jrs

            I don’t think it’s the private college professor types who are imposing it though. Blue collar bosses are an entirely different sort, if we are directly blaming the people directly doing the exploration (and not systems). But sure small business capitalism is viscous.

            I thought the intent of the post was not to blame the owners of businesses for their direct exploitation, but to blame people for whom they vote, for breaking up unions etc., but that has not been a choice on the ballot in decades pretty much. That people of all types can fear for their jobs sure.

            1. Katniss Everdeen

              The point of the post was to “blame” those “who justify as a matter of defensive necessity participation in arrangements whose ugliness they cannot quite not see.”

              And those people are right here right now, including the private college professor.

            2. Carey

              >I don’t think it’s the private college professor types who are imposing it though.

              Trying hard to stay confused, it seems to me.

            3. FluffytheObeseCat

              I do think it is the ‘private college professor types’ who have benefitted from this foul process for 40 years* now.

              Who do you think has paid this sad quisling’s salary over the past few decades? His income has long depended on the desperation of (slightly) more direct beneficiaries of the post-Reagan working class beat down: the parents of his full-pay students. People who make their livings as corporate lawyers, or as credentialed employees of major accountancy & consultancy corporations. People employed by 3rd party benefits & penison management companies. Various higher-echelon service providers such as doctors, lawyers, and accountants, whose practices focus on the personal health and finances of the upper 9.9%.

              The servile Predatory Precariat pay his salary.

              *(Or perhaps only 20 years, if they’re ‘Gen-X’. The time span is not significant.)

                1. HotFlash

                  I dunno. jrs just said But sure small business capitalism is viscous.

                  Maybe it’s just truth by autocorrect?

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > but I think Upton Sinclair found a less convoluted way to express the same sentiment when he wrote, ““It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”

        I disagree. Waldman is teasing apart the worldview of a class, in some detail, not inventing a witty aphorism (no matter that the aphorism is true).

    2. ChrisPacific

      Zero-sum neoliberalism in action: punching down for competitive advantage. His kids would get free tuition either way. The only ‘advantage’ from the status quo is that it’s denied to everybody else.

      There was a time when universities and their faculty would have believed that making higher education accessible for more people would be beneficial not only to society as a whole but those already studying (the network effect). He is the lesser for the change, even if he doesn’t realize it.

  6. Bandit

    “Ring Doorbell App Packed with Third-Party Trackers”

    I have to admit that I am biased against any and all who continue to incorporate “smart” devices into their homes, which have literally invaded even the most intimate and private aspects of human life. It is one thing when citizens have no choice in today’s state of surveillance, but quite another when the choice is self-selected. I simply cannot muster any sympathy for those who were forewarned of the risks, and then whine about being spied upon when they invite the spy technology into their homes.

    This is the same way I feel about the self-selecting victims who were abused by Wells Fargo or Bank of Amerika, well known institutional fraudsters and serial scammers.

    1. paul

      That’s the problem with assymetric marketing,consumers are not made aware of any downside to a product.

      Consumer message: convenience and there’s no choice anyway.
      Controller message: this can possibly help your insane war on the above.
      Shareholder message: we can’t lose.

      You can’t self select when there is no choice.

      Caveat emptor is not much use in such a complicated and constricted world.

      Unlike you,I feel a great deal of sympathy for those abused by your examples of the extensions of the made.
      While often acting in hope or desperation, they still did so in good faith.

    2. ambrit

      Your assertion fails on one basic premise being wrong. You assume that the general public possesses the raw data and the tools to understand that raw data concerning the IoT. Such is not the case. The NC Demographic is not indicative of the general population. Thus, when Wells Fargo and BoA were exposed as fraudsters, a perennial problem in that field, the news, as such, was not repeated enough in the public sphere to become a meme. Blithe ignorance is and will be the norm. Such ignorance is the preferred status of the public by the general run of eiltes. Ignorance perpetuates and supports elite control.
      The same applies in respect to the Surveillance State.
      The real crisis will come when a sufficiently large portion of the public tries to remove itself from, or resist integration into, said Surveillance State.

      1. Oh

        “Blithe ignorance is and will be the norm. Such ignorance is the preferred status of the public by the general run of eiltes. Ignorance perpetuates and supports elite control.
        The same applies in respect to the Surveillance State.”
        So true. Ignorent people are also mislead by blatant propoganda. And the ones in the know still use youtube, facebook, twitter and other “convenient and free” portals and keep linking to them because it’s so easy to convey their feelings while completely ignoring how their data is being swept up by Google, Facebook et all and sold.
        The other day I received an e-mail asking me to subscibe to the NYT. The said e-mail address is one that I don’t use except for certain communications. I suspect that Chase or e-trade or my bank sold my e-mail address. This intrusion into my privacy makes me sick.

      2. Brooklin Bridge

        @Bandit did say, . “I simply cannot muster any sympathy for those who were forewarned of the risks”[e.m.] and that does make a difference.

        I;m nevertheless still sympathetic to such people and agree with you that warning or no, we are all deprived of in depth, unbiased information regarding these damn gadgets and technologies and we are inundated with propaganda about how great, desirable and convenient they are.

        This Old House might be considered a culprit example of the first order and I find that really disappointing (though consistent with their decline and sponsor hyping over the last decade).

        1. ambrit

          Thanks. Similar to “This Old House” was that ‘comedy’ show by Tim Allen about a small time DIY show host. The lifestyle presented as being worthy of emulation, and self-identification with, was solidly upper middle class, ie. a low ten percenter. I now recognize an entire raft of basic life style propaganda programs, now residing on cable channels, but once ubiquitous.

          1. Monty

            Yes, growing up outside the country in the 80s, you’d be forgiven for thinking all Americans are rich, have massive houses, adoring trophy wives, nice cars, many respectful children, poor sense of style and epic mullets.

      3. RWood

        Prior to Prof. Zuboff:

        Surveillance Capitalism
        John Bellamy Foster & Robert McChesney

        Its very economic exploitation of the world population, as well as its own, has left the U.S. imperial system open to attack, producing ever greater attempts at control. These are signs of a dying empire. To prevent total human and planetary disaster it is necessary that the vox populi be heard once again and for the empire to go. The digital revolution must be demilitarized and subjected to democratic values and governance, with all that entails. There is no other way.

    3. skk

      Ahh yes, I do have the same gut reaction but then I recall the para in “HitcherHiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” and start feeling sympathy again :

      All the planning charts and demolition orders have been on display at your local planning department in Alpha Centauri for 50 of your Earth years, so you’ve had plenty of time to lodge any formal complaint and it’s far too late to start making a fuss about it now. … What do you mean you’ve never been to Alpha Centauri? Oh, for heaven’s sake, mankind, it’s only four light years away, you know. I’m sorry, but if you can’t be bothered to take an interest in local affairs, that’s your own lookout. Energize the demolition beams

      A LOT of people haven’t had the tech. education, nor the time away from 2 or 3 jobs, dependent kids in multiple family units. One has to suppress the annoyance, that emotional reaction and see it more objectively.

    4. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I have to admit that I am biased against any and all who continue to incorporate “smart” devices

      Never buy any product marketed as being “smart.” This includes political candidates.

  7. Wukchumni

    I’d mentioned the other day that there was but one seller of n95 face masks on eBay, but that was then and this is now with the great motivator @ the helm, money.

    There’s scads of listings of what would normally be 60 Cent masks that range in price from $2 to $6 a piece, depending on how many you buy.

    Crisis = Opportunity right, and we’ve been pussyfooting around with our own pestilence and disease vector in the guise of homeless encampments spread far & wide in the west in particular. Rounding up the unusual suspects would be as easy as it’ll ever be under the aegis of fear and loathing that exists @ present. The President has made overtures that something must be done, but I hear he’s a little preoccupied @ present.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Excellent point that, Wuk. If coronavirus really took hold in the United States, a President could really make himself popular in an election year by having the homeless being rounded up and being dumped in FEMA camps for their own protection. I am willing to bet that more property owners vote than homeless people.

      But the $64,000 question arises. All those people that protest about emigrants being dumped into detention centers by ICE officers – will they also protest about the homeless being rounded up? Especially in places like San Francisco? Will they demand that the homeless be released and brought back to their cities once again? (crickets!)

      1. Wukchumni

        It probably breaks down to more of a $6,400 question Rev.

        There are 2 kinds of must-make payments in the USA, traffic or parking violations are one, and property taxes are the other. Nobody that owns a home is going to blow that off, and counties/cities basically function on the basis of property taxes, and Bob & Betty Bitchin’ who bought a home in Burbank for $640,000 (they’ve done well, it now Zillows for $1.13 million) are fit to be tied by the almsteaders who have taken up residence nearby.

      2. skippy

        FEMA camps are for keeping the infected zombies out, some really think they were built to house the unwashed infected?

    2. J7915

      Wonder if all those masks for $$ “fall of the truck” somewhere, like the Outlet malls, and that famous basement sales event. Quick way to raise cash by claiming damage?

      My mother used to get brand name clothes in NYC. Buttons or other details changed to hide the designers’ style LOL.

    3. Whoamolly

      I went to the local auto supply store for my N95 masks. They are used in auto business when doing painting and grinding.

      I bought a box of 10 last summer when the air was filled with smoke particles from our annual wildfires.

      1. Wukchumni

        I’d mentioned a few days ago that during the SARS crisis, my post office in SoCal was inundated with Asian-Americans sending n95 masks to the far east, it was quite something, and for the most part none had ever sent a package before, so you’d see them with their stash of 20 or 100 masks unwrapped, and they’d throw themselves upon the mercy of the postal clerk to somehow get ‘r done, and sending a package overseas requires a lot more paperwork, so the delay in getting my packages out was extreme for a month or 2 of the saga.

        I wonder what things are like @ say a post office in Monterrey Park or other enclaves of the San Gabriel Valley, where so many Chinese-Americans live, is like @ present?

        1. skippy

          Concur …

          This disposable mask thing is like flowers to keep ill winds from infecting oneself.

          Just the idea of having a seal on respiratory filters alone is huge i.e. as an example I have seen someone using a nuisance mask whilst spraying paint, only to see the two concentrated lines of paint from around the nose, where the mask did not seal properly go right up their nostrils.

          Can understand the use to mitigate down wind smoke inhalation but it still leaves the eyes.

          As noted hands and proximity to infected for inhalation risk is a bigger environmental factor. Even if one is far enough away its the environmental contamination ones hands can transmit infection – huge behavioral issues – people don’t think on that level unless conditioned to do so and one aw shite wipes out a thousand attaboys .

    4. Lambert Strether Post author

      > one seller of n95 face masks

      In case anybody missed this, n95 masks are for fine particles (like pollution). But 2091-nCoV, at least based on what is known so far, spreads through droplets — coughing or sneezing (or from surfaces, but a mask won’t help there). So a surgical mask, designed to stop droplets, will work for that purpose. An n95 mask will work too*, but only if worn correctly, which is hard to do. Which is why you see people walking around with the masks hanging below their chins.

      * If I have this correct, that’s because the n95 mask more fully encloses the mouth and nose, not because of its filters. But that enclosure is just what makes it difficult.

  8. vlade

    @Interfluidity comment. This is fascinating. If you’d just very slightly re-write the sentence, you’d get an extremely good description of the life in the USSR years ago – or, for the matter, Nazi Germany between 1930s and 1945.

    1. Olga

      Yes, and it is usually quite enlightening to evaluate places one has neither been, nor understands. But hey, simplification rules the world.

      1. Wukchumni

        I never went to the Soviet Union, but here’s a tale from the early 1950’s from Czechoslovakia that you might find enlightening…

        My uncle helped get some people out of the country, and they foolishly sent him a letter from the west, thanking him for doing so, and all the mail from outside the ‘bloc party’ was censored, and he was incarcerated for quite some time.

        1. Olga

          Yes, we all assumed mail from the west was monitored… there was this thing called ‘cold war’ back then IIRC.
          (Some time after 9/11, I got a letter from Canada (to the US) that had been opened and taped with green tape – so i’d know it was opened.)

            1. skippy

              Always bemused by these sorts of conversations, like Imperial Russia was better than post or what the Chicago boys attempted.

              Yet in any scenario it seems the observer has to filter everything through some crude ideological filters, which strangely or not, necessitates a blind eye to its own dark machinations.

              1. MLTPB

                And a person who can acknowledge the faults of his or her motherland or fatherland can gain a possible perception advantage, unless that is faking (in that case, apparent blind eye is better than apparent impartiality).

          1. anon in so cal

            Hundreds of innocent people had their careers ruined, were blacklisted, deported, and jailed in the U.S., during McCarthyism….

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Yes, and it is usually quite enlightening to evaluate places one has neither been, nor understands

        You know, we used to have an entire academic discipline called “The Humanities,” which was dedicated to methods — say, reading and study — which meant we didn’t actually have to physically go to places in order to develop an understanding of them. Richard Evans’ Rise of the Third Reich, for example, paints an excellent portrait of the pre-Hitler German petty bourgeoisie using letters, diaries, and records of clubs and so forth.

      3. vlade

        Yes, and it is usually quite enlightening (and entertaining!) to evaluate people one has never met, nor knows anything about. But hey, simplification rules the world.

        But for your information, I have been in the USSR, and a not insignificant branch of my familiy lived there (after the USSR decided it would like the part of the world they lived in). So while I can’t say I lived there, when I was there it was more than as a tourist.

        And, as a Wuk says above, the same could have happily applie to the whole of Soviet block, which I did live in.

        But I guess your memories (I’ll let myself assume you did spend some time there) of the workerk’s paradise are differnet from mine..

  9. Carolinian

    Interesting article on Sorkin and Mockingbird although I’d say that if anything the author is far too kind. He tells how Aaron Sorkin has taken Harper Lee’s humanistic tale about conquering fear and turned it into a morality play about evil abroad in the world. Guess that will show Harper Lee who is no longer around to object. Normally you would see taking a famous book’s theme and turning it into the opposite as an act of extreme arrogance but then Sorkin’s no shrinking violet. He seems to think he has deep thoughts about everything from the presidency to the news business to the internet. The reality of course is that Harper Lee’s book will endure and hasn’t been “killed.” Nobody will remember Sorkin.

    1. Charger01

      I don’t know. The “news room” is a cautionary tale for folks in show business. Its pretty bad, even with Jeff Daniels.

    2. Bill Carson

      It is a very interesting article, thank you for posting the link, Lambert.

      I find that I very much have an Atticus Finch-sort of personality. Like Atticus, I am “a fan of radical cognitive empathy—trying to understand the perspective of even the characters you find most repugnant, the people whose perspectives you are least naturally inclined to explore.”

      This creates a great deal of personal conflict when I try to discuss things with people who, like Sorkin, reject radical cognitive empathy. For example, try having a conversation with someone who is convinced that Russia is an inherently evil nation led by the dastardly Vladimir Putin, whose moves must be blocked at every turn. These people don’t try to understand why the Russians might view it as provocative that NATO expanded to their doorstep. They don’t want to know why Crimea and the Black Sea are so strategically important to Russia. Ask them to explain why they view Russia as a existential threat instead of a potential ally, and they can’t formulate an answer. They believe that Putin must be punished for interfering with our elections, but they are incapable of seeing anything negative about America’s interference with politics in other sovereign, democratic countries.

    3. paul

      As long as facebook smoulders, he will be remembered for neglecting inqtel’s involvement in its development, in his melodrama; the social network.

      There was a lovely scene where he flipped off his lecturer by answering a fairly basic question, thereby justifying his hero’s journey to the truth of monopolising human interaction.

      There is an awful lot,quite literally, in that film that would cause wonder.

    1. allan

      Wilbur is a very stable historian, and always looking out for the back-row kids:

      The Black Death: Effect on the peasantry

      The great population loss brought favourable results to the surviving peasants in England and Western Europe. There was increased social mobility, as depopulation further eroded the peasants’ already weakened obligations to remain on their traditional holdings. Seigneurialism never recovered. Land was plentiful, wages high, and serfdom had all but disappeared. It was possible to move about and rise higher in life. Younger sons and women especially benefited.[24]

      although, on the downside,

      As population growth resumed, however, the peasants again faced deprivation and famine.[2][25]


    2. fajensen

      I increased my shorts in the DAX and OMXS-30.

      Brexit and “Corona-Chan”,”all in the same year, the opportunity of a lifetime to clean up balance sheets!

  10. ambrit

    In reference to the article on the Surveillance Industrial Complex.
    Our little half-horse town’s City Council has just voted to join the Project NOLA public surveillance syatem. The plan is to roll out ten cameras to start and grow from there. Interestingly enough, the Project NOLA system is already deployed in New Orleans, Biloxi, and Natchez. This is growing into a regional surveillance system, not just a ‘local’ one.
    Those Vampire Squids have long tentacles.

  11. Craig H.

    > CIA chief ‘behind Soleimani’s assassination’ killed in downed plane in Afghanistan

    Saw this a couple days ago and still do not know what to make of it. As near as I can tell an air force jet did get blown out of the sky. There are conflicting stories about what it was doing and who was on it.

    1. lyman alpha blob

      If it is true, perhaps the proof will be in not seeing some “reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated” message from the alleged victim. Never heard of this guy before, but if he really was the one who started the program of drone murders based on behavior and he really is dead, it sounds like someone knew very well what they were doing.

    2. PlutoniumKun

      I can’t help thinking that the lack of information from government sources is very telling – they are being very evasive. It would be a spectacular revenge by the Iranians if they did manage to identify and take down this aircraft in a ‘deniable’ way, although at this stage this can only be speculation.

      According to MoA at least four aircraft have recently been downed by the Taliban. It looks quite possible now that they’ve got their hands on anti-aircraft missiles. Its not hard to guess where they came might have come from.

      1. Frank Little

        I can’t recall where I read it, but I believe that before he succeeded Soleimani, Esmail Ghaani was extensively involved with IRGC operations in Afghanistan. I don’t know how much that would preclude him close associations with Iran’s western neighbors and allies of the kind that Soleimani had cultivated, but it may mean that Afghanistan becomes a more important flashpoint for Iran’s larger goal of expelling the US entirely.

      2. The Rev Kev

        I read the same article about helicopters loses and was not sure how truthful these reports were. I have been waiting for all those ATGMs and manpads supplied to Jihadists in Syria to filter their way east to Afghanistan for some time now and wonder if this is what is happening.

    3. anon in so cal

      Michael D’Andrea, aka the CIA’s Dark Prince? It was he who was assigned to Iran in 2017. Not too long afterward an ISIS attack inside Iran….

      1. Roy G

        Prior to that D’Andrea ran the CIA’s torture program, and later personally destroyed the tapes when Congress was investigating..

    4. Dirk77

      I recall after Soleimani’s assassination, someone wrote (Yves?) that the standard Iranian response to aggression was tit for tat. Discounting the missile strike on the US base as a quick appeasement of the angry Iranian mob, this killing of the CIA chief would would seem to be the true response from Iran. If so, Iran’s intelligence is better than I would have thought.

    5. David

      Everything depends on the height and configuration of the plane when it was struck by a missile (if indeed it was). If it was landing or taking off, then it’s possible that the Taliban have a capacity which would have enabled them to hit it. If it was cruising, then you’re talking about expensive and complex systems requiring lots of training, as well as radar tracking systems, none of which, so far as I know, have ever been seen on the ground in Afghanistan. .

      1. rd

        It could just be a bomb introduced on the ground. The US has people killed on military bases in Florida and Texas by radicalized people. That would be a lot easier to do in Afghanistan.

      2. Anon

        Yes, from the photos of the burnt-out fuselage it appears the plane was likely in a lower elevation approach. Easily hit with something to disable it. The plane apparently didn’t just fall out of the sky, as it is largely intact; except for the fire damage. It appears it was able to make a “survivable” landing, except for the fire. Two bodies shown in a video of the crash site are crispy. Witnesses evidently say there were six bodies, not two

        If this is Iranian pay-back, it’s a deniable take-out.

    1. RubyDog

      It would make a great campaign ad. Compile all the clips of him telling someone to “vote for someone else!”, then show a group of voters saying in unison, “OK Uncle Joe, we will.”

    2. samhill

      The “fatso” incident a while back had me thinking that Biden is being managed to be Trump-lite. All the in-your-face attitude you love about Trump with none on the worrying, irresponsible calories. Needs work, best back to the lab, instead of Pepsi to Coke it’s an unpalatable if not toxic swill. Hotelling’s law

  12. Kurt Sperry

    Going from memory: the general claimed to have been on the plane by the Iranians almost certainly wasn’t, the plane was, briefly put, an airborne com link for connecting ground nodes without line-of-sight coms. The plane itself, a Bombardier something, looks very much like a billionaire’s private luxury jet.

    1. ambrit

      The claim is that the aircraft in question was the Drone Masters personal command and control vehicle. The Bombardier jet shot down fits that purpose. The real tell here is for the “dead” American asset to show himself in public somewhere. Until then, it’s all speculation.

        1. ambrit

          He’s not really a “secret agent” per se. He runs secret agents, yes, but is a public figure. Yes, he would want to keep a “low profile,” due to what he does, but not be a hermit.
          There are some older pictures of him on the internet.

  13. Olga

    Thought I’d post this:

    “It’s official: The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) has finally come around to the view that renewables will overtake natural gas in the country’s electricity mix. The EIA has long been known for its implausibly conservative predictions about renewable energy. As recently as last year, the EIA forecast that natural gas would remain the country’s top source of electricity out to 2050.”

    “Implausibly conservative” is just about right… glad they looked out the window to see the real world.

    1. Louis Fyne

      to nitpick, be pedantic, highlight what was buried below the fold by that website.

      the headline should read: EIA forecasts in 2050 that renewables generate 38% of electricity, natgas 36%, nuclear 12%, coal 13%.

      While great news, too little too late? (as natgas = 37% of electricity today, renewables = 19%, nuclear 19%, coal 24%)

    2. PlutoniumKun

      Thanks for that link. I think a key reason that official agencies consistently underestimate wind and solar inputs is because once issues around legal permits and land rights are established, wind and solar farms can be built with startling speed once the economics are right. I’ve seen windfarms with a capacity similar to a small gas turbine CCGT plant producing power within 4 months of breaking ground. The costs are also continuing to fall, often far faster than projections. Back in 2009 it was assumed that solar would start to hit parity with coal in suitable countries around 2040. But it actually happened within 5-7 years. Its not just the cost of the turbines or panels – contractors are getting much better at reducing all the peripheral infrastructure and connection costs.

      While solar has had all the glory for a few years now, there is a new generation of ultra large wind turbines coming on stream which have very significantly reduced costings and due to their size and scale, can produce much more predictable power to the grid. Its standard now in Europe for battery storage to be incorporated into wind farms as a means of reducing connection costs (it allows them to build farms with a maximum output higher than the connecting circuit capacity) and to permit an element of dispatchable power.

    3. ocop

      I worked with EIA renewables modelers for many years and they were partially hamstrung by having to model policy “as it exists” in their flagship scenarios–including most importantly the sunset provisions on tax credits that were a major driver of the economics of wind and solar over the last decade. So you would have the Wind Production Tax Credit (PTC) expiring at the end of the year (and subsequently out of the model for the next 20-30 years) but in reality it would be renewed just in time every December by Congress.

      State policy changes play a role too. But of course the other big driver has been overly conservative cost projections–they didnt see China forcing the cost curve down well enough.

  14. Kit

    “Freedom Rider: Negroes for Bloomberg”
    London Breed, San Francisco’s mayor, has finally been called out.
    She’s a cutout for the local Construction and Land Development Complex that has controlled the city and the state for the last few decades. Part of that gang, Mohamed Nuru, the director of public works, was arrested by the FBI the other day. One of his pals, an airport commissioner, resigned in a panic over “health issues.” All are acolytes of Willie Brown, Kamala Harris’ launch pad.
    Former city supervisor, state senator Scott Weiner, is resurrecting once defeated and outrageous Senate Bill 50, that would allow high rises in any neighborhood in the entire state of California, “to ease the housing shortage and help the homeless,” allowing the smart money to sell off their properties for market based rents and condo sales before the crash. Don’t think we’ll get any of Bloomberg’s 70 story tall narrow towers like NYC, too much seismic activity here.

  15. dk

    “Liberal heaves the presumption of innocence over the side.”

    This isn’t a criminal trial. Censure or removal from office are not punishments, they’re procedural actions. There is (or should be) no presumption either way in civil matters, it would be pretty messed up if there was.

    1. ewmayer

      “Censure or removal from office are not punishments” — pull the other one, mate. If you did something at work which caused your boss(es) to publicly dress you down and/or fire you, I guarantee you would feel as if you were being punished. Because you would be getting punished, duh. Anyone who has lived through childhood is aware are forms of punishment short of incarceration, so please, stop insulting your readers’ intelligence.

      “There is (or should be) no presumption either way in civil matters, it would be pretty messed up if there was.”

      So we should presume guilt, and require the defendant to prove otherwise? Anyhow, in civil actions there is still a milder version of presumption of innocence which applies – Wikipedia:

      In civil proceedings (like breach of contract) the defendant is initially presumed correct unless the plaintiff presents a moderate level of evidence and thus switches the burden of proof to the defendant.

      0 for 2 with your latest round of specious claims, I’m afraid.

      1. dk

        The presidency is not a job, it’s a position of trust. The president doesn’t get hired, they get elected. There is not contract for employment, just the oath of office (not saying there’s no paperwork, just no employment contract).

        How you got to “[s]o we should presume guilt” from “no presumption either way” is not clear. But I was indeed referring specifically to guilt.

        Civil actions have no guilt or innocence, either one or the other party is correct or the parties settle, or a judge can dispose of the case a few other ways depending on the code of the jurisdiction (which is why jurisdictions matter for contracts). The Wikipedia interpretation you cite ( is give in the context of the Justinian Codes and English common law, probably for the overall historical context. The particulars of US civil law is more specific, there is no initial presumption, there is a burden of proof on the party that brings the matter (as in the case in the Senate today).

        Rule 301. Presumptions in Civil Cases Generally (

        In a civil case, unless a federal statute or these rules provide otherwise, the party against whom a presumption is directed has the burden of producing evidence to rebut the presumption. But this rule does not shift the burden of persuasion, which remains on the party who had it originally.

        The trial in the Senate is not a criminal matter, even if criminal charges are brought; it’s not specifically a civil matter either, it’s a trial of impeachment. The Senate has no authority to make a criminal judgement or pass a criminal sentence, they can’t even refer the matter(s)… actually, to be specific, the Justice Department is under no statutory obligation to accept such a referral, I guess the Senate could try if it wanted to, it is after all the Senate. But as far as impeachment the concern is over the trust placed in the position and whether it should be relinquished, or censured or otherwise amended or abridged, or not; not about the president as a citizen under either criminal or civil law (certainly not as an employee).

        1. Yves Smith

          The model for impeachment is criminal, not civil cases.

          The term of art used for a successful impeachment is conviction. The key terms are all from criminal cases: crime, prosecution, conviction:

          During the Federal Constitutional Convention, the framers addressed whether even to include impeachment trials in the Constitution, the venue and process for such trials, what crimes should warrant impeachment, and the likelihood of conviction. Rufus King of Massachusetts argued that having the legislative branch pass judgment on the executive would undermine the separation of powers; better to let elections punish a President. “The Executive was to hold his place for a limited term like the members of the Legislature,” King said, so “he would periodically be tried for his behaviour by his electors.” Massachusetts’s Elbridge Gerry, however, said impeachment was a way to keep the executive in check: “A good magistrate will not fear [impeachments]. A bad one ought to be kept in fear of them.”

          Another issue arose regarding whether Congress might lack the resolve to try and convict a sitting President. Presidents, some delegates observed, controlled executive appointments which ambitious Members of Congress might find desirable. Delegates to the Convention also remained undecided on the venue for impeachment trials. The Virginia Plan, which set the agenda for the Convention, initially contemplated using the judicial branch. Again, though, the founders chose to follow the British example, where the House of Commons brought charges against officers and the House of Lords considered them at trial. Ultimately, the founders decided that during presidential impeachment trials, the House would manage the prosecution, while the Chief Justice would preside over the Senate during the trial.

          1. dk

            Okay I’m over-reaching/wrong about the structural basis being civil.

            Nonetheless (emphasis mine):

            Impeachment, as Alexander Hamilton of New York explained in Federalist 65, varies from civil or criminal courts in that it strictly involves the “misconduct of public men, or in other words from the abuse or violation of some public trust.”

            Which is the point I was trying to make throughout. Trust violations are not all comprehensively specified in criminal law. Also that the primary intent of removal from office is for the public good, not punishment. Censure has more of the form of punishment as a corrective.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > This isn’t a criminal trial. Censure or removal from office are not punishments, they’re procedural actions

      “Innocent until proven guilty” is certainly deeply embedded culturally, as a matter of basic fairness. One might almost go so far as to call it a “norm.”

      1. dk

        Norms being simplified codifications of more complex concepts. These kinds of things need periodic (or even constant) re-examination, otherwise their meanings and contexts drift over time.

        I know I didn’t used to be the only person on the planet who thought “innocent until proven guilty” was squidgy, but maybe everyone else has died off. It’s a valuable key principle in the specific context of proving a specific guilt, but in wider contexts it’s problematic.

        One doesn’t have to be “innocent” to be good. Innocence implies naivete and that’s definitely not good, at least among mature individuals. It’s also distinction in the context of intent and responsibility, like the difference between murder and manslaughter.

        And in today’s world we have responsible parties with little knowledge or skill in their domains. Elon Musk wants to dig tunnels in California, says it’s going to be cheap and less trouble than highways, what? Jeff Bezos says humanity’s salvation is on Mars, and is spending to prove it. I come to NC to read better critiques than I can make of Larry Summers and the like, these are people who look at facts and respond with fantasies. Are the fantasies innocent? Is that even an appropriate measure for these problems and issues?

        I’m not saying you’re wrong here, you’re not; I’m just looking under the rock.

  16. allan

    Fed moves to ease some restrictions under the Volcker rule [CNBC]

    In a move aimed at loosening some of the reins put on Wall Street after the financial crisis, the Federal Reserve on Thursday eliminated a restriction on bank ownership of venture capital funds, as well as two other changes.

    The intent is to get rid of the 3% limit previously set under the Bank Holding Company Act, more widely known as the Volcker rule. …

    Current Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said the move was part of an ongoing review to keep the parts of the provision that restrict banks from reckless speculation but reform some rules that either were difficult to enforce or unclear to the industry. …

    Yes, because how to calculate 3% of a large number is unclear to bankers.

    It would be irresponsible not to point out that the person who first appointed Powell to the Fed was Obama.

    1. lyman alpha blob

      Yes, because how to calculate 3% of a large number is unclear to bankers.

      On a related note, a few weeks ago in our state’s largest newspaper there was this article about unpaid tolls on state highways.

      Up to 200,000 vehicles breeze through toll plazas each year without paying for those reasons, said the turnpike authority’s executive director, Peter Mills.

      Your guess is as good as mine in terms of trying to put a dollar value on those 200,000 plates that went through, in some cases vehicles without plates,” Mills said. “We don’t know where to begin to identify the car or vehicle or try to collect from them.”

      Well, at $1-$3 a pop depending on the toll booth, I’m going to put a dollar value of about $200-600,000 on that, Mr. Executive Director.

      Must be the new moronavirus going around which renders the professional management class numerically illiterate. From what I can tell from watching the news over the last several years, it is highly contagious.

    2. tegnost

      Well, you must admit that 3% of infinity is hard to calculate…and of course it would be irresponsible to speculate on that….

    3. Late Introvert

      Because there isn’t enough Private Equity already running rampant. NC will probably hoist the link tomorrow.

  17. kareninca

    This is from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory; the title is “Single-cell RNA expression profiling of ACE2, the putative receptor of Wuhan 2019-nCov”

    If I’m reading it correctly, it looks like men may be a lot more susceptible to this than women. And that Asian people may be extra susceptible. It seems strange that something out of China could be the thing that could kill off Chinese men, but I suppose that if you have an extra large number of susceptible people that that is where that organism would arise.

    1. HotFlash

      Hmm. IIRC, didn’t China’s ‘one child’policy result in a preponderance of male children, and now, of course, male adults. Per wiki (and the CIA), 101 males to 100 females (2018 est.) world wide; China shows 115 males per 100 females. For whatever that may mean. Nature rebalancing?

    2. Oregoncharles

      Hmmm – thanks to a preference for male offspring, the 2-child limit has led to a shortage of females. Similar in India.

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