Links 2/15/2020

Canada driver captures rare sighting of mother lynx and her kittens Guardian

Researchers identify 1,500 dance moves bees use to communicate Daily Mail (David L)

Ski season in the Alps may soon be over, permanently CNN

Trafficking industry hit as ‘sex worker’ chatbots fool thousands Guardian (David L)

Scientists discover largest bacteria-eating virus. It blurs line between living and nonliving. LiveScience (David L)

A Radio Frequency Exposure Test Finds an iPhone 11 Pro Exceeds the FCC’s Limit IEEESpectrum

Mumps cases hit decade high in England BBC. Resilc: “All the antivacers in USA USA are a bigger risk than noko, Iran and ISIS put together.”

The joy of intimacy Aeon

Why Witchcraft Is on the Rise Atlantic (Adrien F)

#2019-nCoV

Coronavirus: Death toll in China surges past 1,500 DW

How Patients Die After Contracting COVID-19, The New Coronavirus Disease NPR (David L)

Note I have already said to Lambert, the key isn’t only in part happens in the Northern hemisphere ex China in the next couple of months. Sinus and respiratory infections don’t transmit as much in the summer. But there is a reasonably-sized Chinese population in Australia and lots of business interests in Australia, and similarly, a lot of Chinese investment in Africa and resulting shuttling of people. If the virus takes hold in either continent, it’s hard to see how it doesn’t come back in the Northern Hemisphere next winter.

Eight planes locked down at Heathrow Airport over coronavirus fears New York Post

How to make your own mask: Hong Kong scientists reveal temporary solution for those unable to get protective gear because of panic buying and price-gouging South China Morning Post (resilc). Mind you, experts say masks are not a good idea: they don’t prevent airborne germs from getting in and create a favorable environment for them. Their use is to prevent you from infecting others! Frequent handwashing and social distancing are your best defenses.

Cats in China are wearing face masks amid coronavirus crisis New York Post and Cats in China Are Wearing Face Masks to Ward Off Virus Futurism (furzy)

How do we test for coronavirus, anyway? ars technica (DD)

How Xi Jinping’s “Controlocracy” Lost Control Project Syndicate (David L)

China?

Strange bedfellows: Pelosi finds rare common ground with Trump in denouncing Huawei at Munich Security Conference RT (Kevin W)

Undersea cable to challenge China’s expansion Asia Times

An EU judge told Google it’s landed on Monopoly’s ‘Go to Jail’ square and reportedly threatened to increase its $2.6 billion antitrust fine Business Insider. Delicious. I hope Google is hoist on its own petard. Sadly, you have to read the WSJ version to learn this idea came from one of five judges, and there’s only one precedent for fines being increased, and then, it was not by much.

Brexit

Brexit: out of court Richard North. North says Connelly in the story above has it wrong.

New chancellor Rishi Sunak challenged over hedge fund past Guardian (Kevin W)

Wallace reprimanded over European Parliament remarks about Juan Guaido RTE. PlutoniumKun: “Guido an ‘unelectable gobshite’ (apparently you can’t say this in the European parliament)”

Big Brother is Watching You Watch. Creeped me out. I went to a gym that I’ve visited when in Dallas since 2012 (and yes, I missed the Bernie rally, which bums me out, I’m can’t handle walking much plus getting a ride back wasn’t viable, but we had a very good small meetup). Said gym for members now makes you not just insert a card but put your finger in a print reader! No way!

Algorithms ‘consistently’ more accurate than people in predicting recidivism, study says TechXplore (Robert M). Precrime is coming….

Trump Transition

Appeals Court Rebukes Administration’s Attempt to Force Work Requirements, Other Barriers on Medicaid Program National Health Law. Ruling here.

White House considering tax incentive for more Americans to buy stocks, sources say CNBC. Kill me now.

Justice Dept. drops probe of ex-FBI official McCabe, a top Trump target Reuters (furzy)

Esper Defends Move to Defund Stars and Stripes, Says News Org. Not a Priority Military.com

‘Just Plain Ugly’: Proposed Executive Order Takes Aim At Modern Architecture NPR. Kevin W: “So Slate has their say – ‘Classical” Architecture Is Just One Way Tyrants Build in Their Own Image.

Roger Stone asks for new trial The Hill. My impression is usually this sort of thing goes nowhere, but it appears the juror who wound up being foreman had a case of TDS that he lied about during voir dire. If so, Stone might get somewhere with this argument.

Mistrial Declared in Kafkaesque D.C. Trial of Venezuela Embassy Protectors Mint Press (JALP)

2020

Pollsters got it wrong in the 2016 election. Now they want another shot. MIT Technology Review (UserFriendly)

DEMOCRATS SUPPORT MEDICARE FOR ALL Data for Progress

Why millions of Californians may not get to vote in the Democratic primary SF Examiner (Joe H)

For Media in New Hampshire, Losing Is Winning and Winning Is Losing FAIR (UserFriendly)

Bernie Sanders Isn’t a Socialist New York Times (furzy)

Hear the Bern Episode 44| Big Tents & Iowa, YouTube. UserFriendly: “Wow. The First 13 min of this are must watch. Explains Iowa Ratfucking.”

On Fault Lines: The corruption of Buttigieg donors, the Ziff Brothers Lucy Komisar. Quite the read.

New Yahoo News/YouGov poll shows Sanders’s strength going head-to-head with rivals Yahoo

New Doubts From Iowa Caucuses: How ‘Satellite’ Votes Are Being Measured

Michael Bloomberg’s Polite Authoritarianism New Republic (UserFriendly)

Not so polite if you are not white:

Bloomberg once blamed end of ‘redlining’ for 2008 collapse Associated Press (Kevin C)

MIKE BLOOMBERG IS HIRING SO MANY OPERATIVES, LOCAL AND STATE CAMPAIGNS ARE STARVING FOR HELP Intercept

Bloomberg defied a flight ban to show support for Israel, defended the country shelling a school and killing sleeping children Mondoweiss (Dan)

The Price of a Bloomberg Nomination Is Too Damn High New York Magazine

a href=”https://muslimadvocates.org/2020/02/mayor-bloomberg-targeted-arabic-speakers-candidate-bloomberg-is-wooing-them/”>Mayor Bloomberg Spied on Arabic Speakers, Candidate Bloomberg is Wooing Them Muslim Advocates

Ryanair: Boeing 737 Max deliveries could be two years late CNBC. PlutoniumKun: “Boeing had negative aircraft orders in January.”

Technology is poised to upend America’s property market Economist

CalPERS refutes Chinese influence claims Fox (JPR). Rep. Jim Banks not deterred.

Gender Wars

Holy Crap! The Sexual Harassment Allegations Against The Late Judge Stephen Reinhardt Are Shocking Above the Law (J-LS)

Welcome to the Era of Fake Products Wirecutter (sporble)

How Did the Fed Funds Market Change When Excess Reserves Were Abundant? Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Help me. We said from early on that the repo mess was due to the Fed changing its practices from intervening in the repo market daily to post crisis managing policy rates via interest on reserves + reforms that required banks to keep large liquidity buffers + big banks having more profitable things to do with short term liquidity excesses than lend to the repo market. Or as Warren Mosler said: “Required reserve levels are set by institutional structure, and reserve balances come only via the Fed crediting accounts on its books.”

Class Warfare

Who’s Profiting From Your Outrageous Medical Bills? New York Times (resilc)

Number of striking workers surged in 2018 and 2019 Economic Policy Institute

Antidote du jour. Nate P’s cat Calypso. He seems camera-averse. Or maybe someone just told him Bloomberg is running:

And a bonus (guurst):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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293 comments

  1. The Rev Kev

    “White House considering tax incentive for more Americans to buy stocks, sources say”

    It would be a much wiser idea, IMHO, if the White House considered tax incentives for more Americans to actually save money. Giving incentives to buy stocks is just rewarding speculation which is merely a sugar high for the present economy. I suppose that Trump is just wanting to goose the economy in the lead up to the election in November, hence this idea.

    Reply
    1. Samuel Conner

      What a silly policy; he should reduce taxes on corporations so they can purchase more of their own shares.

      Oh,… wait… corporations are persons, and so American corporations are American persons, that is, Americans.

      It’s another corporate tax cut.

      Reply
    2. Louis Fyne

      Fed’s monetary policy has completely distorted the incentives and the ability to save. feature not a bug.

      Find me liberals/progressives who wants to dismantle and replace the current Fed system. Even for Bernie it’s a back-burner topic.

      Loudest voice is Rand Paul and he’s the voice in the wilderness, left or right.

      Reply
      1. barefoot charley

        To be fair, Bernie got Ron Paul’s pet Fed audit through the Senate, which was the only actual Fed audit in history. It would have been a scandal if the NYT covered it, since it showed bottomless overnight floats from the Fed were vastly in excess of the money Congress reluctantly sent them. Appendix VIII has details:

        http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d11696.pdf

        Here’s Bernie’s press release on the results:

        https://www.sanders.senate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/the-fed-audit

        Reply
        1. barefoot charley

          Auditing the Fed was Paul’s hobby horse-unicorn throughout his career. The 2008 global mortgage meltdown gave him an amazing opening, an achievement matched by Bernie getting it through the Senate. He wanted to show that the Fed is an uncontrolled oligarchy, I suppose. Which of course it is, as this proves.

          Had Wikileaks published it, rather than the General Accounting Office, the media might have paid attention–but since the audit was sponsored by two flakes of the right and left, no Serious Person paid attention to what it illustrated, which was that Jamie Dimon is a pants-on-fire liar whose Citibank got more than ten times as much free money as he claimed he didn’t need–that’s one of more than a dozen examples.

          Reply
          1. notabanktoadie

            The Austrian School of Economics is very right to be concerned about fiat creation for private interests but they are very wrong about limiting fiat creation to something as silly and arbitrary as, for example, the mining rate of gold and eliminating fiat creation for the general welfare altogether via a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.

            And they are hypocritical in that they would replace theft by inflation with theft by needlessly expensive fiat and deflation.

            Their “solutions” are contemptible if properly understood, e.g. robbing the young via a money supply that does not keep up with population growth.

            Reply
    3. diptherio

      He wants to goose the stock market, and the stock market =/= the economy. This is just a gift to the people who make their money selling stock.

      Reply
    4. inode_buddha

      Idiots.

      What money are Americans going to use to buy those stocks with? Americans need that money *now* not when tax season rolls around. In a country where half the population is living on less than 50k per yr, stocks are not very high on their list of things to buy.

      Just… idiots.

      I remember back in 2001 I was struggling to survive on a crappy $8 an hour job and the company was pushing their awesome 401k and wouldn’t I like to join it?

      Actually no, I would like to be able to pay the rent.

      Idiots.

      If they want Americans to buy more stocks maybe they should mandate a $20/hr minimum wage.

      Idiots.

      Reply
      1. trent

        One thing that always irked me is that if you participate they’ll match and contribute, but if you don’t they give you a small lump sum in a 401k anyways. If i choose not to gamble in stocks and save that money myself i should still be able to receive those benefits.

        Reply
      2. Eureka Springs

        Can’t solve a 400.00 emergency or debtors prison for unpaid medical bills with a tax break.

        It’s not about us, except for the hazing.

        Reply
      3. Typing Chimp

        1. It’s not the typical American that will buy stocks–it’s the 1-2% with large savings and foreigners who would prop up the market.

        2. This is actually meant to pay off the financial sector (and the rich, of course). Since this leads to money flows entering the country, such an impact must (almost mathematically) screw up the non-financial sector.

        3. Increasing the minimum wage will not help the stock indices (although it would obviously help the economy), as it transfers wealth from the rich, who save, to the poor, who do not save.

        4. Increasing the minimum wage without also introducing capital controls (to prevent foreign money from entering the US) will also be problematic for international competitiveness (I think), as US consumers will simply continue to buy cheaper foreign-made goods.

        So, I guess while people are focusing on immigration and minimum wage and trade deficits and stock prices, the key to a sustained, long-term economic reversal ***must*** involve capital controls of some sort, which would adversely impact the financial institutions and therefore gets ignored.

        Reply
        1. inode_buddha

          I’ll have to disagree about the wage, because everybody has to retire some day, and those retirement accounts are mostly in the stock market. People aren’t buying stocks directly, but they are joining 401k’s.

          As for capital controls, I’ve long held that yes they are necessary due to market distortions, but it will never happen because then the elites will start screaming about “Socialism”. When Nixon took us off the gold standard, without implementing wage and price controls, was the beginning of the economic end. I happens the same way in every market that the government backs, such as student loans and housing….

          Reply
          1. Typing Chimp

            Well, long term the savings may help the stock market (sort of), but in the short run there would be a drop in the percentage of money entering the markets , as the lower and middle classes will spend a greater proportion of their income on consumption and even non-market savings than they will in the stock markets, even when their 401ks are factored in the equation.

            This is almost by definition–the rich are rich precisely because they can save a higher percentage of their wealth intakes (not necessarily income). The poor are poor because they cannot even consume as much as they want/need, and therefore cannot generate savings at all, let along divert them to a stock market.

            As for capital controls–I don’t see how anything changes until they are imposed, and I am guessing that they *will* be imposed at some point, no matter who is in the White House. Now that we read articles about trillion dollar deficits for as long as the eye can see, these controls are probably coming sooner rather than later.

            But hey–I thought that 2008 would force an economic rebalance away from finance and to the real economy, so WTFDIK?

            Reply
            1. inode_buddha

              Indeed I was sure that 2008 would force a rebalance. When bailouts happened instead, I began mentally preparing for armed revolution ala 1789. It will happen eventually.

              Reply
              1. Procopius

                Errr… minor quibble. The armed revolution wasn’t in 1789 — the new Constitution was ratified without bloodshed. The armed revolution was in 1791-94, and was called the Whiskey Rebellion, and the sainted George Washington was ruthless and brutal in putting it down, and there was a lot of collateral damage. A lot. Funny, I think there were two sentences about it in my high school history book.

                Reply
                1. sj

                  I thought he meant the French Revolution. I wasn’t taught that the Whiskey Rebellion was an actual rebellion. I’m pretty sure. I remember very little about it. Darn it, now I have to go look it up

                  Reply
        2. notabanktoadie

          4. Increasing the minimum wage without also introducing capital controls (to prevent foreign money from entering the US) will also be problematic for international competitiveness (I think), as US consumers will simply continue to buy cheaper foreign-made goods. Typing Chimp

          The debt of a monetary sovereign like the US is inherently risk-free so it should return at MOST ZERO percent. Otherwise we have welfare proportional to account balance and that includes for foreigners too. Subtract overhead costs (and in the case of fiat account balances at the Central Bank, a zero maturity wait premium) and we are in negative yield/interest territory.

          So eliminating that subsidy for foreign imports should improve the US trade deficit.

          Note that an application of ethics wrt the money system solves a very practical problem too. Should this be a surprise?

          Reply
          1. Typing Chimp

            I think we are addressing different issues here. Let’s say that we increase minimum wage to $20/hr and leave everything else as is (forget about automation, other countries changing their policies, etc.).

            Then average/typical/insert whatever term you prefer US consumers have more money, but the world as a whole (think Germany, Japan, and China) is still buying US Treasurys. Since the US trade deficit is being driven by all that Treasury buying, the US would essentially continue to subsidize the economies of Germany, China, Japan, etc. (actually, now that I think about it, simply increasing the minimum wage in isolation as opposed to doing so as a part of a coordinated set of policies would likely just blow the deficit sky high. I need to think this through a bit more before I say this categorically, though)

            So to really benefit, the US would also need to reduce its trade deficit. But the trade deficit is basically determined by the capital account, and so the only way to do this is to prevent or limit other countries from US debt purchases. You can call this whatever you like, but fundamentally it reduces to invoking capital controls

            Reply
            1. notabanktoadie

              You can call this whatever you like, but fundamentally it reduces to invoking capital controls Typing Chimp

              So welfare proportional to account balance should be limited to US residents only; that is those who can afford to buy it, i.e. the richest?

              How about instead we abolish ALL welfare proportional to account balance?

              Reply
              1. Typing Chimp

                Hmm..

                OK, please walk me through how this would work in general, and let me see if I can work out the consequences

                Reply
                1. notabanktoadie

                  Simply this, no inherently risk-free debt of a monetary sovereign like the US should return more than zero percent minus overhead costs with the shorter maturity debt costing more with account balances at the Central Bank, aka “reserves” in the case of banks, costing the most (most negative return).

                  Adding that individual citizens should be shielded from negative interest up to a reasonable account limit via accounts of their own at the Central Bank.

                  Reply
                    1. notabanktoadie

                      1) Allow all citizens (at least) to have inherently risk-free debit/checking accounts at the Central Bank itself alongside those of depository institutions.

                      2) Eliminate ALL other privileges for depository institutions, aka “the banks”, e.g. deposit guarantees, lender/asset buyer of last resort, the FREE use of the Nation’s fiat, etc.

                      Then we shall (largely) have a single tiered money system since the ability of banks to safely create deposits shall have been limited.

                      3) Lower interest rates as desired via an equal Citizen’s Dividend funded in part, at least, by negative interest on large and non-individual citizen accounts at the Central Bank with the remainder financed with Overt Monetary Finance (i.e. fiat “printing”).

                      Should price inflation be a problem then just reduce the Citizen’s Dividend (to decrease consumption) and/or increase the negative interest (to spur investment) until decreased consumption and real economic growth eliminates it.

                    2. Typing Chimp

                      OK, let’s not worry about inflation just yet–those are second-order effects (at least when I think of money flows). I have never really thought through your scenario before, so I may be a bit slow.

                      1. Let’s say a US company wants to buy something (let’s say airplanes) from, say, France (pick any country). It needs to presumably pay in Euros for the planes. How does it get those Euros (as in, how do the mechanics work)?

                      2. Similarly, if a French company wants to buy, say, battery-driven automobiles from the US, how does it go about selling Euros and buying dollars so that it can exchange those dollars for the automobiles?

                    3. notabanktoadie

                      2. Similarly, if a French company wants to buy, say, battery-driven automobiles from the US, how does it go about selling Euros and buying dollars so that it can exchange those dollars for the automobiles? Typing Chimp

                      By buying those dollars from US citizens (or others) since the Federal Reserve would be forbidden to create fiat except for the general welfare ONLY, i.e.:
                      1) for the US Federal Government via deficit spending for the general welfare
                      2) via an equal Citizen’s Dividend.

                      Should the dollar be too strong then increase deficit spending and/or the Citizen’s Dividend.

            2. Yves Smith Post author

              No, you have it backwards. Trade surpluses or deficits drive capital flows. Chinese etc. wind up with dollars. They need to invest them. Treasuries are not a bad place.

              Reply
      4. drumlin woodchuckles

        If I had the money to buy stocks outright in my own name, I would buy instead my own gardenable land with a dwellable house on it, prepay fanatically to outright own the house, turn the yard into super high-intensity high-density foodgrowing land, set up the house for maximum water-harvesting, waste-handling, energy-harvesting.

        Money would keep going into raising the bunkerability of my little suburban survival doomstead. Stocks would not be on my list of things to buy.

        Reply
      5. Steve

        Was going to reply to the first reply so as to be higher, and in an abundance of civility, will reply to original theme though later in line.

        Respectfully suggest you educate yourself so you can spread the message. HAVE and would advise all employees when the company offers a match (company current match is 6% on 6% contributed W/O additional defined benefit or cash balance program) – Take full advantage of the match and elect to have your portion put in as after tax. The following year (or earlier) you can always withdraw your after tax contributions in Jan/Feb without penalty (though often a @ one time $20-50 reclaim fee by company retirement plan administered by the mutual fund company housing your 401K) and the employee will have had the benefit of the company match which by law stays in the program. Cost to reclaim capital is 1 year (or less if militant) + up to 2 basis points, and personally have paid down over 100K+ of student loan debt @ 7.625% interest in this manner over 11 years.

        YMMV- In short always contribute to the match %… Always. Second when circumstances allow always max out the Health Savings Account (forgo Flex Spending unless you can capture the child care deduction).

        If the statement is you must spend every dollar earned and can not forgo and save $19.20/wk… so that after yr 1 assuming $8/hr *40hours = $320 week — where one would then get the $998.40 back (+ have the value of the company match) a different thread should be had.

        Reply
        1. inode_buddha

          Um, no. It is pre tax incurring almost 50% penalties. Furthermore, I have never seen nor been told of a fund that allows after tax. I was maxed out with a 6% match. Co worker tried to make a withdrawal to make a down payment on a house. Denied. The trustee was the founder of the company. IIRC there is no choice in the matter of pre tax or after tax. Funds were managed by Oppenheimer fwiw. As it is, I was disabled out of that job and lost it all anyway. A whopping 3k.

          No, you are not going to get 998 back, and yes it should be a different thread about cheap bastards. Perhaps they lied to us about pre tax options vs post tax

          Reply
          1. John Zelnicker

            @inode_buddha
            February 15, 2020 at 4:06 pm
            ——-

            I’m an Enrolled Agent and tax accountant.

            Steve seems to be referring to a Roth type of after-tax contribution. However, there are very few 401(k) plans with such a feature due to the administrative burden of keeping track of pre-tax vs. after-tax contributions.

            Pre-tax contributions withdrawn before age 59 1/2 generally incur a 10% (not 50%) tax penalty in addition to regular income tax, unless there is an exception.

            Your trustee/founder appears to be violating a bunch of rules and regulations. If a plan participant requests a withdrawal, the trustee can’t just deny it. The money contributed by the employee always belongs to the employee and if s/he wants it back, the trustee has no grounds on which to deny the withdrawal of the employee’s money. (The trustee can withhold up to 20% of the amount withdrawn for federal income taxes.)

            If the company match is not vested those amounts can be withheld since the employee doesn’t yet have full ownership.

            Being “disabled out of [a] job” is not, by itself, a reason to lose your 401(k) balance if it was your contributions or employer matches that had vested. Adds to the appearance of fraudulent acts by the trustee/founder.

            Reply
            1. Steve

              Much Thanks to John for offering some clarity. Would add to his note- after tax contributions do not come with a 10% penalty (you already paid the taxes). A quick search on “after tax contributions to 401K” yields the following-

              Typical 401(k) plans allow you to contribute in two ways: make elective deferrals through pre-tax dollars and contribute post-tax dollars via designated Roth contributions. However, 25% to 35% of 401(k) plans allow for a third type of contribution: after-tax contributions.

              These contributions offer some key advantages over pre-tax and designated Roth contributions that make them a good option in certain financial situations.

              The company I work for can afford the administrative burden John mentions above ( in the 25-35% of companies)— so my advice while not helpful to all people may be helpful to some and if you are a people manager managing line employees, or first line managers, it is still worth asking your HR department on whether the company offers after tax contributions to 401Ks.

              Quite frankly it has served me very well, and each year as I withdraw dollars to place a mid 4 figure payment on my student loans I am always asked are you sure? My response 10+ years is still the same- This is a guaranteed 7.625% return, does your brokerage offer that?

              Reply
            2. inode_buddha

              No, they were 3 years away from vesting. I had to cash out to survive while awaiting a disability judgement which ultimately did not go in my favor. Took one hell of a penalty in doing so.

              As for the co-worker, he left shortly after the dispute regarding withdrawl, and I do not know what happened after.

              Reply
        2. inode_buddha

          To be perfectly clear: after taxes that 320/wk is more like 260. Rent is 650, You still have a car payment, gas, utilities, and food. Where is a 401k going to come from? And after decades of chipping in 6% the payout is still going to be pitiful relative to inflation, just like the pay was when you were working. That is what the point is,.

          Reply
          1. Steve

            We are heading to a sperate thread of needs based income for minimal living. My counsel is 6% anything of is still something, in the words of someone famous – Humans do not understand compound interest — being middle-aged now 6% compound still really means something…. I can see the FIRE sector now building up a business model where in the words of Irish MEP Mick Wallace – a Real FIRE “gobshite” can one better the current outrageous Pay Day Loan facilities by offering a revenue share plan with the FIRE sector so that all employees may cash in on the company match. FIRE will front the capital (we took from your parents 20 years ago) so you can get the match but we collect 50% in perpetuity of the match.

            Reply
    5. Jason Boxman

      First time I’ve actually seen this:

      Separately, Kudlow has suggested cutting the tax rate to 15% for middle-class earners.

      Talk of tax reform never seems legitimate, because no one yet has bothered to address the fact that there’s a huge rate jump between working class and lower middle class, now from 12% to 22%. And it’s been that way for decades. The latest rate reductions just lowered all the brackets but kept the disparity! How absurd is that?

      Welcome to the lower middle class… and F U.

      Thanks!

      Reply
    6. drumlin woodchuckles

      As the biophysical real economy and the imaginary moneyconomy diverge from eachother ever more and more sharply and widely . . . . people will find out which economy they are rooted in.

      Reply
    7. Synoia

      Pay the peasants in stock, not money (aka Company Script)

      I believe that’s been tried before.

      “16 Tons of number 9 Coal” rigns a bell.

      Reply
      1. Steve

        +16 metric tons ( 32,000)… Second favorite song. Google; Ernie Ford and 16 tons… Listen to voice and listen to the words. sigh… we stand on the heads of giants in all fields including music.

        Reply
        1. Janie

          Too lazy to find link, but Ford snd Liberace on youtube do a piano duet. Turns out Ford plays well. Who knew? Always loved his tv show; he used to have Charles Laughton on, doing Shakespeare

          Reply
      2. notabanktoadie

        Except for the boom-bust cycle, which is largely driven by government privileges for private credit creation*, common stock is not a bad form of pay since it gives workers a voice in the company.

        Also, Company Script is not the same as common stock since it confers no ownership in the company.

        Like that song, btw.

        *e.g. stealing from potential customers is short-sighted at best.

        Reply
  2. Toshiro_Mifune

    Welcome to the Era of Fake Products

    Amazon shifted to being primarily 3rd party sellers a long time ago. Go search their site for almost any product and the vast majority of the items being sold are by 3rd parties “fulfilled by Amazon”, meaning that 3rd party is using Amazon’s warehouse and distribution system. At this point Amazon is primarily a logistics company (and web services) for other sellers. It’s been like this for at least 10 years. I suspect (well, I’m fairly positive) that the only things Amazon themselves sell, that is sold and fulfilled by Amazon, are items that are guaranteed to have a decent profit margin. They leave everything else to 3rd parties and get whatever their transaction and processing fees are.
    Whether this state of affairs is a cause or effect of fake products; e.g. their move to catering to 3rd parties opened the floodgates for counterfeits or they recognized the number of counterfeits being sold on the site, calculated the legal and logistical costs of monitoring it and decided it was cheaper and easier to open things up to 3rd parties and let then be on the legal line as the seller, I’m not really sure about.
    This is not a defense of Amazon so much as a “Why is Wirecutter only noticing this now?” It’s been like this for a long time.

    Reply
    1. Michael

      I recently ordered two items from Ebay. Both were delivered by Amazon vehicles in Amazon boxes on two separate days.

      Reply
      1. Jason Boxman

        Yeah, that’s happened to me too. There’s arbitrage to be had apparently. And it was inexpensive stuff; Must have to do this on an _enormous_ volume to make it worthwhile.

        Reply
      2. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

        Shipping costs are making it impossible to use EBay in the mode which made it popular in the first place, selling oddments you have lying around that may have some collector value or practical utility to someone else. Anything that doesn’t fit into a USPS 2Day standard box now runs $18 to send, regardless of how much it weighs

        Reply
        1. cnchal

          There used to be a market in shipping for big packages that didn’t weigh much. The post office charged by weight and charged extra for a size beyond 5280 cubic inches and UPS and FedEx charge by dimensional weight, so USPS got all that business.

          As of January 2020 the post office has joined the dimensional weight scam and cranked prices so high, UPS has plenty of room to raise prices further, and a flood of post office refugees to feast on for a few months until the staggering shipping price increases kill the peasant sized businesses off.

          Reply
      3. Louis Fyne

        happened to me as well. <$5 set of tweezers.

        I imagine that to fulfill my eBay order, the merchant sold my order to itself (or an affiliate) on the Amazon platform.

        Reply
      4. hunkerdown

        The drop-shipping-via-Prime thing seems to be pretty common on eBay, Aliexpress, and elsewhere over the past few years. Just last week I ordered a bag of cocoa powder on the seller’s site, received an Amazon Prime envelope containing a bag of cocoa powder a couple of days later.

        Reply
    2. Bugs Bunny

      I’ve bought quite a few hard to find interconnect cables and converters on Amazon. I occasionally had to return one for a refund and most of the time they don’t want it back but just refund me and ask for a good review.

      I really don’t know what that means. Fake cables? I suppose it might be profitable.

      Reply
      1. Samuel Conner

        If you have not previously explored Monoprice, you may find them helpful. I’ve been purchasing cables and cable adapters from them for years, and have generally been very pleased with the product and price. If you can wait a week to receive what you want, they may be the best source.

        Perhaps their selection is not as wide as Amazon’s, but it is quite wide, and their prices are very good.

        This sounds like an advert; I have no interest in Monoprice; just passing along what I think to be good news.

        Reply
        1. Jason Boxman

          I’ve had good luck with CCT Cable (callcct) since the early 2000s, although I couldn’t find a Western Digital USB connector recently, which I don’t think is that obscure of a USB connector. But maybe it is. In the past I found inexpensive Ethernet cable, too, but this was over a decade ago now. And it was/is locally owned.

          Reply
        2. Amfortas the hippie

          that kind of thing…cables and adapters and jacks and assorted wires…i have to go someplace and actually look at the things…feel them…before i buy.
          the terminology has moved way past me.
          also very helpful to have a…you know…salesperson there in the flesh to help me.
          quaint, i’m sure.

          there’s one place left in san antonio that fills the niche that radio shack used to fill.
          i don’t need such things often…but when i do , i give them my business.

          Reply
            1. lyman alpha blob

              I bought a portable pocket sized AF/FM radio there in the early oughts. I’ve dropped it so many times I’ve lost count, gotten sand it in, water in it, bent the antennae, etc and it will not stop working. Best $15 I ever spent.

              Reply
            2. JBird4049

              I am grateful that there is an actual old fashioned electronic supply store near me. The kind that has 47 varieties of whatever and if they don’t have it they know what you are mumbling about and can get it.

              Just like the old fashioned hardware stores that used to sell just about every nail, screw, bolt, and nut plus whatever kind of hammer, pliers, and screwdriver you needed; all sold by the item or by weight by people who knew what you needed.

              Reply
              1. Amfortas the hippie

                we have a hardware store like that.
                I know how fortunate i am with this sort o thing(I —and everybody else—knows where the bankers(2) live, which is a check on their behaviour)
                it is not lost on me, all these idiosyncrasies and anachronisms that i enjoy.
                small town…only one in a small county…
                significant down-sides…but the upsides sort of balance those out.
                more or less.
                with voting, for instance, we’re like the Museum Fremen.
                a living example of paper ballots, hand counted in public(scan tron that they double check, because that’s how they roll)
                I know…at least at a small remove…every single person in local government.
                enough that we say high to each other in the beer store, or at the dump(helped the county judge toss his office trash just the other day, while shooting the shit)
                I wish and advocate such smaller polities…with the commensurate subsidiarity…
                with teeth, of course.
                everyone should enjoy these things.

                conversely, the meth park up the road a bit was constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps.

                Reply
                1. RMO

                  Here’s a link to a story in a blog by a woodwind repairer in the UK (his blog makes a nice read even if you’ve never picked up a a Saxpohone in your life – I play upright bass mostly and I still love his stories):

                  http://www.shwoodwind.co.uk/Notes/Hardware.htm

                  It nicely encapsulates the experience of a local shop with and interested and knowledgeable owner and staff – and the fellow customers you get to know if you’re lucky enough to have a hardware (or what have you) shop of this type nearby.

                  Reply
          1. Bugs Bunny

            Jeez Amfortas, you hit the nail on the head. Where is Radio Shack when you need it?

            Wasn’t it another victim of private equity btw?

            Reply
        3. eg

          I have used Monoprice in the past on the recommendation of my quasi-audiophile brother and have been pleased with the quality.

          Reply
    3. Dan

      Just be grateful we don’t have to change our cultural identity in order to get free shipping:


      Amazon forcing Palestinians to list themselves as Israelis for free shipping

      Global ecommerce company Amazon has been accused of discriminating against Palestinians by offering free shipping to illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank but not to Palestinians living in the same area.

      In findings released in an investigation by the Financial Times, the newspaper discovered that by taking all of the illegal settlement addresses and entering them into Amazon’s delivery portal, the company extends its website’s offer of free shipping “if your shipping address is in Israel, your items are eligible, and your total order meets the minimum free shipping threshold of $49”.

      However, customers who list their address as “the Palestinian Territories” are forced to pay shipping and handling fees starting from $24. Amazon spokesman Nick Caplin told the paper that Palestinians can only circumvent the issue “if a customer within the Palestinian Territories enters their address and selects Israel as the country, they can receive free shipping through the same promotion.”

      https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20200214-amazon-forcing-palestinians-to-list-themselves-as-israelis-for-free-shipping/

      Reply
    4. Jokerstein

      Ex-Amazonian here. There is an internal term, CRAP, for items that Can’t Realize A Profit. These are all the 3P items that are sold from China. Even with stuff where Amazon sells genuine items, and 3P sellers offer knock-offs, the customer is still vulnerable, due to something called co-mingling, where Amazon supplied and FBA items from 3Ps are stocked together on the warehouse shelves, and the pickers and packers can’t tell the difference.

      I would say that in the past I have had to return, say, 20% of things like SD cards due to knock-offs being co-mingled with genuine stock.

      This actually doesn’t hurt Amazon in the long-term, since they have punitive agreements with suppliers, and one this this does is to drive people towards Amazon Basics brands which a $$$$ cash cows for Amazon. This range is growing like Kudzu – you can now buy, e.g., Amazon Basics capos for guitars. Don’t get me wrong – they are pretty good quality, and definitely good value, but they tend towards an even more monopolist position for Amazon.

      Reply
      1. JBird4049

        >>> they are pretty good quality, and definitely good value, but they tend towards an even more monopolist position for Amazon.

        Precisely. Good value until, like with Borgmart, the competition has been assimilated leaving all the customers to be consumed for profit, or discarded, if not a profitable enough.

        Reply
  3. Winston Smith

    I was fortunate to see a lynx in the wild (once). Its presence was ghostly and so fleeting, it seemed to simply vanish, making me doubt that I had actually seen it. What makes this sighting unique is capturing an unhurried family in the open….magical

    Reply
    1. BoyDownTheLane

      When I was a child, I used to hide in the woods and meditate; I had a wicked step-mother. I did not know it was meditation at that time but, whatever, it worked. As I sat by the side of the brook that ran down off the state’s highest mountain and below the ridge where Rockefeller’s relative maintained a 2,200-acre estate for her monthly stay in June, a lynx came to the brook and took a drink. We both became aware of each other at about the same instant, and he looked at me, paused, finished his drink, and padded off silently and quickly back into he woods. Such are the moments in one’s life. I of course could not whip out my iPhone (this was in the early 60’s), but the synapses fired and I keep the image in my mental archives.

      Reply
      1. Amfortas the hippie

        utter coolness
        see comment above(?) about the Lares and Genii.
        yet another reason i belong on a dead end dirt road in the middle of nowhere.
        i get to do that a lot.
        It’s a pretty powerful experience, no?

        Reply
      1. notabanktoadie

        Calicos are cool, in my experience. Passed by one just today (about 15 feet) on my way to get the mail. She was “playing the cello” and wasn’t fazed much by my passage. I appreciate trust; it’s a very high compliment and encourages one to be more worthy of it.

        Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      That is interesting that. In Stephen King’s novel “It” there is a section where a gang of bank robbers is shot to pieces by the townspeople of Derry. That historic event must have been his inspiration for his sub-story.

      That Emmett Dalton certainly came up smelling like roses after getting shot 23 times. Not only did he write books about his experiences but in 1918 he played himself in a silent movie.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emmett_Dalton

      Reply
      1. JacobiteInTraining

        I suppose if one can successfully take 23 applications of lead negative-behavioral-corrective-measures to the torso and other extremities….one might also be considered to have the grit needed to reform oneself.

        Reply
  4. John Anthony La Pietra

    Is common ground between Pelosi and Trump really all that rare? If it were, things might be a bit better for the rest of us….

    Reply
  5. CBBB

    Twitter has gone absolutely crazy with paid Bloomberg people posting pro-Bloomberg replies and tweets everywhere. This is so bizarre.

    Reply
    1. Eureka Springs

      Even on duck duck go now almost all top results of my searches for old news related items come up Bloomberg news. Up until this week that was a very rare occurrence.

      Reply
        1. Foy

          Yep, here’s another idea (I think on NC) I saw recently to help visualise it:

          1 million seconds = 11 days
          1 billion seconds = 31.6 years
          60 billion seconds = 1896 years

          The human mind sometimes does not grasp properly the jump between millions and billions. It’s a lot of units….

          Reply
          1. RMO

            It was illustrated to me by the following: If someone had been given $3,000 per hour, 24 hours per day, 365 days a year since the day Julius Caesar died – they still wouldn’t have as much money as Bloomberg.

            Reply
      1. richard

        he’s not spending anything but interest on his money, so far I’m told
        all this f&^%ery hasn’t even touched his principal
        hahaha he says

        Reply
  6. The Rev Kev

    “Cats in China Are Wearing Face Masks to Ward Off Virus”

    ‘Futurism wasn’t able to verify the legitimacy of the images, or where they fall on the spectrum from meme fodder to actual protective measure.’

    Oh, they are legitimate alright. Not only cats and not just with home-made jobs for masks, you can actually buy real pet masks in China-

    https://www.boredpanda.com/dog-masks-coronavirus-china/

    Reply
    1. urblintz

      Apparently, domestic pets can not get the COVID corona virus, although there does exist a canine and feline corona virus which is not the same and not dangerous to humans.

      https://www.bustle.com/p/can-pets-get-coronavirus-heres-what-you-need-to-know-21780019

      “The claim that household pets can spread this specific type of coronavirus, whether in the United States or in China, is a myth. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “there is no evidence that companion animals/pets such as dogs or cats can be infected with the new coronavirus.” However, the organization does suggest that you always wash your hands with soap and water after you’ve touched your pet, in order to prevent the passage of common bacteria, like E.coli and Salmonella.”

      Reply
      1. MLTPB

        There are different degrees of assurance.

        ‘There is no evidence…’ is not the same as ‘Its theoretically impossible… ‘

        As Cuibono commented below, absence of proof is not quite proof of absence.

        Reply
  7. Roland

    On a number of occasions, Stars & Stripes had better reporting on the Syrian War than most other media. e.g. they had an article that mentioned that several million refugees had fled rebel-controlled areas in order to seek shelter in government-controlled parts of Syria.

    Reply
    1. marym

      “Stars and Stripes first appeared during the Civil War, and it has been published continuously since World War II. It produces daily newspapers for U.S. military troops around the world and operates a website that is updated with news 24 hours per day. Though it is part of the Pentagon’s Defense Media Agency, Stripes retains its editorial independence and is congressionally mandated to be governed by First Amendment principles.”

      Nothing there that would be of value to the faux man-of-the-people and his cronies.

      Reply
  8. The Rev Kev

    “The joy of intimacy”

    ‘A polyamorous friend challenges me: are you really happily monogamous or are you just hung up about your philandering dad?’

    After reading this article, I’m going with answer B. Time to let sleeping dogs bury their own dead.

    Reply
    1. ObjectiveFunction

      Yeah, I had a similar (guy) reaction. Face it lady, Daddy was a predatory weasel, and so is that other guy. (And no, you aren’t going to be the special chosen one who tames the bad boy). Her mom seemed far more on the ball.

      Also, her prose would do credit to a Harlequin chick-lit author, especially that passage about holding the guy’s eye… while he’s driving.

      Reply
  9. urblintz

    Krystal Ball takes out Bloomberg and, more importantly, the voters who would support him…

    while Enjeti explains the very real reason why people who should know better will vote for MB anyway. what he says is alarmingly spot on.

    Bernie needs an all out war on Bloomberg, gloves off, and no apologies for going negative.

    “Unity” my fanny… with Bloomberg in the mix Bernie owes the Democrats nothing.

    https://thehill.com/hilltv/rising

    Reply
    1. inode_buddha

      Re: “Unity” I wonder at what point does euphemism become dishonesty? Or is it always and forever dishonest? Such constructs *always* raise my suspicions. I know what they mean by “unity”. They mean, “Unify around the canidate we already selected for you and vote for them”. What I would like to know is why can’t these people just say it like that? The Republicans would.

      Reply
      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        “Unity” only matters when they are genuinely separate entities coming together such as the Allies in World War II or the North American colonies trying to work together in the absence of a unified government. Outside of these instances, it’s usually just a soothing placeholder word. Obama used this kind of pablum. Compromise, bipartisan, workin’ together, etc. It’s almost always garbage.

        Reply
    2. Samuel Conner

      MB is not a “unity” candidate. I suspect that among his goals is “permanent damage to the D party.” If he can sucker D voters into going along with that, so much the better.

      Me thinks that MB is this year to the Ds in some ways what DJT was to the Rs in 2020. Can’t win nomination his his prior preferred party, but wants to run for certain reasons (DJT in 2016 — vanity, I think; MB in 2020 — “stop Bernie”), But he’s also different. DJT had good political sense and a feel for what R voters were unhappy about. MB has an astonishing amount of money. I hope that it isn’t enough.

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        Bloomberg will knock out Sanders and then Her Highness will step in as the “Original New Unity Candidate of 2020.”
        Brokered conventions mean that literally anything goes.

        Reply
        1. TroyIA

          Original source is Matt Drudge so weigh the credibility of this story but LOL if true.

          BREAKING: Mike Bloomberg ‘wants Hillary Clinton as his running mate’, sources close to his campaign tell Drudge

          -Mike Bloomberg is considering Hillary Clinton as his running mate, source says

          -Polling found the Bloomberg-Clinton combination would be a formidable force to take on Trump in the race for the White House

          -Bloomberg is said to be considering changing his official residence because the electoral college makes it tough for president and VP to reside in the same state

          Reply
          1. CBBB

            Why would that be a formidable force? What would Hillary Clinton add? If anything it makes the ticket even more toxic to everyone but the most brain-washed MSNBC Democrat.

            Reply
            1. Amfortas the hippie

              it’s not a formidable force…but it’s what the AI in the basement at Hillaryworld THINKS is a formidable force.
              layers of simulacra and membranes.
              between them and the reality the rest of us inhabit.
              it’s sad, really…when you think about it…
              pathetic….if it didn’t have so many real world tidal waves associated with it.
              “moon, turn the tides…gently…gently…away…”
              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Om8dFQMY8lE&list=PL8a8cutYP7foiplQQIdIykVbJjebrAEzJ&index=13&t=0s

              Reply
            2. drumlin woodchuckles

              What would Hillary bring to a Mikey/Hillary ticket? Millions and millions of pink pussy hat Clintonites. That’s what Hillary would bring.

              Reply
          2. petal

            If MB picks HC as his Veep, I think ambrit should still get a prize. Can’t write this stuff-it just keeps getting better and better.

            Reply
          3. Toshiro_Mifune

            I saw this too. It’s like the DNC tried, and I mean tried really hard, to come up with a pair that makes Trump the lesser of 2 evils.
            Hopefully this is just a rumor

            Reply
          4. inode_buddha

            If HC joins Bloomberg’s campaign, it will be the end of Bloomberg’s campaign. And then they will spend years howling about foreign interference. (never mind AIPAC)

            Reply
          5. ptb

            yeah that’s BS, Drudge is trolling.

            Bloomberg vs Trump would be a spectacular flaming wreck, adding HRC is possibly the one and only thing that could be any dumber and more of a disaster. Not to mention Clinton would have a hard time taking the supporting role.

            Reply
            1. urblintz

              “Clinton would have a hard time taking the supporting role.”

              this. apparently she is unconcerned about being the only person in history to lose the presidency twice to Trump.

              Reply
            2. Spring Texan

              I might think it is trolling, but I did read a story about someone seeing Bloomberg and Clinton having dinner in a restaurant in New York the same week he announced, at the time. And that makes me wonder. Definitely the worst idea ever.

              Reply
        2. pretzelattack

          riverdaughter was fantasizing about a bloomberg warren ticket, one of the posters preferred a bloomberg clinton ticket. you’re right, anything is possible.

          Reply
          1. ChrisAtRU

            Careful what you ask for …

            [Exhibit A – Fox News]

            “Bloomberg campaign downplays report he is considering Hillary Clinton as running mate”

            This, after reports from right-wing outlets like #Drudge and #DailyMail. The following line is interesting, though:

            “But the Bloomberg campaign quickly tamped down that report but fell short of denying it outright.”

            [DumbAndDumberSoYou’reTellingMeThere’sAChanceMeme] … ;-)

            Bon Weekend!

            Reply
              1. Typing Chimp

                It’s also sucking up press attention away from candidates who are actually competing for votes this Tuesday, which could be the entire point.

                Like him or not, I think Bloomberg’s studied Trump’s 2016 tactics and is employing many of them, albeit with a bit of his own spin.

                Who knows–maybe next week we’ll be reading rumours that Bloomberg is considering Lady Gaga as a running mate. To the degree that the media continues focusing on Bloomberg at the expense of other candidates, it probably benefits him at the expense of other candidates

                Reply
          2. dcrane

            This will give the MSM something other than Bernie to talk about for at least a day or two. Gotta keep that guy off the telly if at all possible…

            Reply
        3. CBBB

          Jesus Bloomberg-Clinton? That would be it I think for the Democratic Party – whether they win or lose. Whatever little bit of credibility they have now would be erased. A Bloomberg nomination alone would do that actually.
          I think if Bloomberg got the nomination AND beat Trump that would still pretty much destroy the Democratic Party because without the foil of Trump they would have absolutely nothing to stand on but if he got the nomination and lost, which is totally possible … man that would be a hillarious armageddon catastrophe for the Ds.

          Reply
          1. Amfortas the hippie

            again.
            why would their donors continue to hand over the checks if they kill off their Base?
            Bloomberg, alone…even without Herself…is a stick in the eye to Berners….and maybe a whole bunch of fence sitters…disconcerted by all the electibility arguments they’ve been sprayed with.
            It’s worth remembering that the Establishment…let alone its various factions, like Pumas…cannot win an election by itself.
            they are a tiny minority.

            Reply
            1. inode_buddha

              I think its one of those things like fantasy football. Maybe they truly believe that if they come up with the right combination of canidates, they can drag it across the finish line.

              They won’t, Trump will eat them alive. But Sanders gives him the cold willies.

              I would love to see the Democratic party completely collapse altogether after a second Trump loss — it would be entertaining to say the least. It would also open the door to something better, I hope.

              Reply
        4. richard

          If that happens then we burn their party to the ground
          after some sort of ceremony, acknowledging a truly divinely inspired prediction (I see becloaked initiates waving smoking censors)
          then get to work

          Reply
        5. Big River Bandido

          As residents of the same state, Bloomberg and Clinton are Constitutionally prevented from running on the same ticket unless one of them moves.

          Reply
          1. The Rev Kev

            Interesting question that. Bloomberg was born in Boston but all his interests are in New York. Hillary, on the other had, is a Chicago girl – just like Michelle Obama. Yeah, the same city as the Chicago school of economics so Illinois could be a good candidate State for her to move to.

            Reply
    1. ChiGal in Carolina

      I knew there was a kind of cult of hedgehogs but until watching that video had no idea why—omg the cuteness quotient and yet somehow not cloying. what a critter!

      Reply
    1. Samuel Conner

      Maybe the trim wheels are just cockpit decorations, for “show” — another meaning of “trim”

      Perhaps a sufficiently good autopilot would not need human intervention. That does seem to have been Boeing’s approach, though they could not implement “a sufficiently good autopilot”

      Reply
    2. The Rev Kev

      They had better fix that wiring issue. I was watching an episode of “Air Crash Investigators” where an airliner went down precisely because of that very same issue. That is why that regulation is there. If they give Boeing a waiver, they may as well abolish that regulation. Enforcing it means that there is a financial penalty for Boeing not doing their job and a good reminder not to screw up again.

      Reply
      1. Amfortas the hippie

        i was surprised to learn that there are various pagans living quietly out here…mostly womyn, and mostly with terrible stories to tell about various manifestations of patriarchy.
        magic…as practiced these days, with the crystals and candles and such…is the last refuge of the powerless, so it makes sense to me that as precarity rises, so does religious affiliation…including paganism.

        (FTA:”“Witchcraft is feminism, it’s inherently political,” Gabriela Herstik, a witch and an author, told Sabat magazine. “It’s always been about the outsider, about the woman who doesn’t do what the church or patriarchy wants.”)

        all that said…we don’t know everything!
        “The Sight” runs in my mom’s family, her mom, and her mom…and me, and now my eldest son.
        we “Know” things…the night my grandmother died, 350 miles away, my son woke up from a dream about her…shaking…freaking out.
        we got the call 20 minutes later.
        lots of family stories like that, including my own.
        i am not a religious person…but i am acquainted with that “Thing Behind Things”…call it the Nousphere, or the Lares(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lares), or whatever…
        I learned about it from too many psychedelic experiences during my Wild Years(a druid i knew said this was merely a crash course in learning to use those forgotten parts of the mind)…as well as meeting a ghost, once.
        and, following old family tradition, I do things like make Run Devil Run Oil(with graveyard dirt and everything,lol) with the boys, and we put it on the doors and gates and cattleguards twice a year.
        and while building the house, i made them pee in mason jars full of broken glass and rusty nails, that we then buried under each threshold.(wife and i believe in comprehensive education at home,lol)
        because why the hell not?
        every little bit helps, i suppose.
        grandparents also left a compendium of weird but useful information about the world…like if you dig a hole under a waning moon, you won’t have enough dirt to fill it in.
        i don’t know why this is true, but it sure seems to be(I’ve dug a lot of holes)
        and after trump won, we did the carrot candle binding spell, as a family…just in case.

        Reply
        1. Dan

          amfortas, your innate knowledge of the world and life in general is intimidating to me. i’m going to have to earn a diploma or something to put on the wall, stare at, and feel better about myself.

          and please capitalize first letters of sentences. that’s how i was taught.

          Reply
          1. Amfortas the hippie

            I’m lazy with my hunting and pecking.
            and i tend to spell things like Cambridge, rather than Oxford(s instead of z…due to the provenance of the classics the library had when i was young)
            you should see my handwriting!
            lol. they made me stop even trying to do cursive in 7th grade. “just print it”.
            but “I am large, i contain multitudes”
            and ” I am not contained between my hat and my boots”
            (both Uncle Walt)

            Reply
            1. richard

              “I am large, i contain multitudes” :)
              my handwriting is also very poor
              and i am tasked with helping young people follow writing conventions
              among other things
              life heaps on ironies

              Reply
              1. Oregoncharles

                Cursive script is a terrible mode of communication; it’s based on a display script that scribes used special equipment to make. All those loops.

                A simplified calligraphic italic was promoted as better, including for teaching young children. Just as quick and easier to keep legible. I even took lessons in it, but failed to practice (bad about that) so it went too slowly. I’m another with bad handwriting, so it might have helped.

                Haven’t heard about it lately, but if you’re trying to teach handwriting , you might want to look it up.

                And I agree – Amfortas’ erudition is very impressive. Must have been the misspent youth.

                Reply
        2. Oregoncharles

          Personally, I’ve never been able to get all the dirt back in the hole; it expands when you break it. (Clay soil, not sand.)

          Gardnerian witchcraft (became Wicca) was supposedly based on the kind of remnant lore passed down in families that you describe. Makes me wonder about your family background – your wife might have added a different tradition.

          However, as I think the article says, serious doubts have been raised; see “Drawing Down the Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshippers, and Other Pagans in America”
          by Margot Adler, Pam Ward, et al.

          Adler was both a witch and an NPR journalist, back when it was better. The chief advantage of Wicca is precisely that it’s a new religion, based on modern values like feminism and the primacy of nature.

          J.M Greer posted a rather different story, but then, he’s a Druid, not a Wiccan. It was in his new website, https://www.ecosophia.net/, a couple of years ago; not sure if it was published beyond that.

          Reply
          1. Chris

            Anyone who’s interested in such topics should pick up a copy of Harrow County, from Dark Horse press. It’s a comic that’s been collected into trade paper backs now. It’s about depression era witches and magic. Beautiful art and wonderful writing. Best ending too :)

            If you’re into a more modern type of witchcraft with razor sharp writing and slick art you should pick up The Wicked and the Divine or Phonogram, both from image comics.

            Reply
          2. Amfortas the hippie

            wife’s familia: when febrile, rub the patient with a raw egg(feels excellent!), then break the egg in a bowl and put it under the bed.
            something about the Evil Eye.
            red cotton thread on the feverish 3 year old forehead.
            lots of little things.
            Curandera things.
            when we lived in town, and one of the neighbors was a family of Mexican Mafia, I made certain that the Matriarch…a curandera, herself…saw me doing spell-like things in my shop…Theban alphabet….the whole bit.
            added to the (secret) pain field generator, and it’s an effective security system…so long as the local criminal element believes in such things. I have it on good authority that that lot is scared of me,lol.

            Comparative Mythology, a la Joseph Campbell, was my second love(after Neitszche), so I was primed for all that.

            and…aw, shucks…Misspent Youth, indeed.
            merely an autodidactic polymath who’s read everything (i note, painfully, that our civilisation has little use for such a rara avis) who didn’t learn to like TV until he was forced to by middle age disability, and was blessed/cursed with an eidetic memory.
            it was no cakewalk being a nerd herd unto myself in east texas narrowmind backwater….and even today, when i manifest the gandalf/bombadil(just add beer), i tend to overwhelm the unprepared.
            I wouldn’t wish it on anybody…unless i could wish it on everybody.

            Reply
        3. Chris

          I’ve made inlaid tile work in patterns to let the good spirits in and keep the malicious ones trapped at the threshold. I’ve made circles to protect my own. And the tree in the middle of my property and I have an understanding. As do the foxes and hawks who hunt on my land by the creek. Ghosts and other things that don’t make right sense have abounded in my life. Doesn’t mean they’re not real just because you can’t sell them.

          Life would be so small without a little wonder and magic.

          Reply
          1. ObjectiveFunction

            Good on yer mate. The Balinese live in exactly this way, honoring spirits in countless little details of daily life, from offerings (which keep the local cats healthy) to intricate decoration or arrangement of everyday items like lamp cords or rain gutters. Artisans have high social status there.
            I have noticed some similar ethics in the Javanese, but it is not as pervasive, probably owing to outside influences. I do hope the Balinese hold on to their culture in the face of wealthy outsiders and tourists flocking in.

            Spirituality aside, this kind of social activity breeds utilitarian RL benefits, such as attention to detail, improvization, waste minimization, apprenticeship, respect for elders, etc. When Western friends are looking to visit Asia, but probably only once, and ask me where to go I always urge them to visit Bali, but stay upcountry and bring their walking shoes.

            Reply
  10. lyman alpha blob

    RE: MIKE BLOOMBERG IS HIRING SO MANY OPERATIVES, LOCAL AND STATE CAMPAIGNS ARE STARVING FOR HELP

    This seems to be of a piece with his practice of asking fellow billionaires to support his campaign by not donating to others. He will achieve his ends by starving his opponents of resources.

    Far from a chicken in every pot, a Bloomberg presidency would feature a lot “No soup for you!”. Merely to improve morale of course.

    Reply
    1. Samuel Conner

      MB is hoovering up all the “experienced” political operatives into his campaign.

      This might not be such a bad thing. In analogy to how BHO’s 8 year neglect of “party-building” significantly weakened the D party, reducing the number of incumbent D office-holders at state and national levels by an astonishing amount, and creating political space for progressives to run (fewer incumbent Ds in the way), ….

      perhaps MB hiring so many “career” operatives into his campaign will compel the other campaigns to reach further down the “political food chain” and develop their own people, who may work with more passion since they care about what they are doing and are not simply punching the clock for income.

      This would tend to favor those campaigns that are best able to do that, and I can think of only one that has been intentionally organizing itself in this way.

      Reply
      1. Amfortas the hippie

        ive thought something along those line about the local situation out here.
        local elections that are nominally partisan…like the sheriff…are decided in the GOP Primary, since nobody(even if they’re democrats) runs in the Dem Primary.
        (city council and a few others are non-partisan)
        the effect of this is to make someone like me…who wants a say in the Dem Primary…make a terrible choice.
        I can vote for bernie, or i can weigh in on the sheriff(and get a bunch of GOP propaganda in the mail for the next ten years*)
        but i can’t do both.
        ive considered, over the years, that this leaves the dem side of the local tickets wide open.
        if somebody wanted to run, that is(i sure as hell don’t)

        (* in ’04, i did vote in the gop primary…because of a terrible candidate running for sheriff. I left the rest of the ballot blank. and even today, i still get a 5″ glossy picture of a smiling George and Laura every xmas, thanking me for all my support for the republican cause,lol)

        Reply
      2. Yves Smith Post author

        If he hires all these operatives, they’ll all fight with each other or alternatively, a large proportion will figure out they just have to show up to get paid. This will rapidly become highly entertaining. There was tons of that sort of disfunction on Team Clinton and most of those people had long histories with her (Clintons are big on loyalty). Throwing supposed pros together with no common history, no implicit agreement on the playbook, and no loyalty to the boss is a prescription for a mess.

        Of course, with BBerg willing to spend so much, the point may not be to be effective, he can have a very low success rate on his spending, but to deny his opponents resources.

        Reply
        1. WobblyTelomeres

          Straight out of Bear Bryant’s playbook. He’d give scholarships to every big body in the southeast just to keep them from signing with anyone else in the SEC.

          Reply
        2. Mel

          If he takes them all willy-nilly, he’s bound to get a lot of ex-Clinton-staffers, who will be dead set on making her Vice-President. Unless they make him Vice-President.

          Reply
    2. The Rev Kev

      This is quite a familiar story this. Back in 2016 the Hillary campaign siphoned off all the money from the State Democrats and sent it to her HQ in Brooklyn. Only about 1% ever made it way back to where it was needed which starved the local organizations of money and resources. It must have been a nightmare for them and I read of frantic phone calls to Brooklyn demanding help that were ignored. And now the same is happening through Bloomberg siphoning so many people from local and State campaigns. It’s deje vu all over again.

      Reply
      1. Amfortas the hippie

        deja vu…but removed into an even more abstract region of subspace.
        ie: it’s their beloved Market(holy, holy)…sucking the supply and demand air out of the room.
        add in a few blacklists, and we’re thoroughly IN the world they wanted.
        all is in chaos, and the parasitical warlords and ur-thieves graze on it’s surface(world without end)

        Reply
    1. Massinissa

      And I’m sure what we need to ‘bring the country together’ is to run a New York City Republican Billionaire like Mike under the D ticket to beat off the BAD New York City Republican Billionaire.

      Reply
    2. JTMcPhee

      I happened across a Bloomberg radio commercial, on one of the pop music stations, very seldom turn on the radio since the pickings are pretty slim here in St. Pete. And the Narrator, The Boombox Spokesperson, none other than the Holy Voice of Paced. Cadence. Himself, Barack Hussein Obama. From some laudatory speech he gave, praising Boombox to high. Heaven. for all the great. things. he. had. done as Mayor Chief Executive head of the world’s seventh largest army. “I have my own army,” he bragged (Actually, 96th it seems, this link is kind of funny: https://americablog.com/2011/12/bloomberg-wrong-about-nypd-being-7th-largest-army-in-the-world-try-96th.html ). And the Occupy folks and people of color or with Middle Easter (other than Is- reali) surnames can testify to what “occupation” actually feels like.

      But we here can yammerhammer on this and so many other subjects for all we’re worth — Big Stuff is happening, and seems the best we people of good will can do is whatever little bit we can reach ourselves, and reinforce to each other our insights into the nature of the approaching Big Event…

      And my wife keeps track of friends and family via Faceborg. She noted that one of her chums is peddling the meme that BerniE Sanders is a Commyanist, dontcha know, and that he is such a loser that he was kicked out of a commune as a young man for being too lazy. Amazing stuff. Same message repeated the Birther thing about St. Barack and how he was educated in one of them Islamic religious schools…

      Reply
  11. Pelham

    Re the Bernie episode on the Iowa caucuses: It’s noted that immigrants working as meatpackers turned out in force to support Sanders, in part as a bid to support union organizing and improve their work environment. That’s encouraging, even inspiring, and I applaud them.

    But we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that the meatpacking industry as late as the 1970s WAS unionized and DID have decent working conditions, pay and benefits. It was only after this that the industry was allowed to consolidate and use immigrant labor to break the unions and turn these once middle-class jobs into slave labor under hellish conditions.

    Thus there’s a deep contradiction between being pro-immigration and pro-labor, as Cesar Chavez knew and as Sanders used to know, as recently as 2016, but has apparently forgotten.

    Reply
      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        No one. But the Social Justice Warrior Left and the IdentyDems are extorting Sanders very hard to forget this reason-for-borders wisdom, under threat of being branded an undercover White Racial National Racist against Open Borders.

        Reply
    1. lordkoos

      An interesting side note is a connection between the meat packing industry and meth-amphetamines. In one Ohio town, when a giant corporation (I think Cargill) bought the local meat packing plant, the company cut wages from $18 down to $9 an hour. The response of employees was to work two shifts to earn the same amount of money. This was accomplished by taking meth to stay awake and alert. This in turn, all but destroyed the town.

      There is a fantastic book about this, “Methland”

      Reply
    2. flora

      Yes. Iowa meat packing work was once, back in the early 1990s, unionized, paid good wages, and offered benefits. The cheap labor broke the unions and increased the injury rates on sped up lines.

      Cheap, undocumented labor had no legal recourse. Call OSHA? Forget it. Make a medical claim or take time off for injury or illness? Lose your job.

      US News & World Report did a special issue on the topic. Sept. 1996. None of these 24 year old stories are still available online. Your library might have a copy.

      https://backissues.com/issue/US-News-and-World-Report-September-23-1996

      Reply
        1. inode_buddha

          Yes, a treasure of treasures. I would only add that this is what has happened to *most* American industry. It is not by any means unique.

          Reply
        1. Janie

          Decades ago someone in town became engaged to a man from that team. Local newspaper announced the event, stating that the young man was with a moving company.

          Reply
      1. Bruce F

        In my opinion it was the Hormel Strike in 1985-6, brought on by the company demanding a 23% decrease in wages, among other things. Cheap labor was used by Hormel to destroy the local, P-9.

        This might be a misunderstanding, but I’m going to take issue with something you (flora) said: Cheap labor didn’t cause the lines to speed up. Hormel did that to stay “competitive”.

        n the mid-1980s, a national recession deeply impacted the economy and, subsequently, the workforce. Companies commonly froze and cut wages, which hit economically disadvantaged communities, like Austin, especially hard. Prior to the strike at Hormel, workers in the hog-slaughtering plant were distraught over a wage and benefit freeze and dangerous working conditions. When Hormel management imposed a 23 percent wage cut, P-9 members voted to strike. However, the strike was not supported by the parent union, United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), leading to deep resentment and turmoil among P-9ers and the community of Austin.

        Reply
        1. flora

          Thanks for this information.

          The USNews magazine focuses on what was happening in Iowa with IBP (Iowa Beef Packers) trying to take over FDL Foods (hog slaughtering) and the role of Farmland Foods.
          There was a huge wave of consolidation happening in the meatpacking industry by the 1990s.

          An interesting, possibly coincidental, mid-1980s development in politics is the Reagan admin stopped enforcing anti-trust in in any aggressive way, and Micheal Milken in the 80’s showed it was possible to borrow huge sums of money in the junk bond market for a hostile take-over of a company. Suddenly, consolidations were on the table a way that had been previously stopped, and huge amounts of money, in new junk-bond borrowing techniques, were available.

          In the same time frame, an all-out effort started to crush unions in labor intensive industries like meatpacking. If you borrow huge sums to take over a rival business, cutting labor costs is the only way to make the balance sheet work. And, if your business is the target of a hostile take-over, cutting labor costs to raise stock prices is one preemptive defense. The waves of consolidation in industry after industry after the mid-80s, and Reagan’s – and all later – administrations’ refusal to enforce anti-trust laws, saw unions crushed to make the balance sheets works, and wages in non-union industries suppressed. Business owners never liked unions, but accommodations were made, until anti-trust enforcement went away. The rise of monopoly power and its wide effects.

          In Iowa in the 1990’s, IBP started buying, or trying to buy competitors. (1)
          In 2000, Tyson Foods bought IBP.
          In 2000, the legislation failed in the Senate by one vote. Last October, it failed again, by five votes. In between the two votes, a major merger took place that made the meat industry even more powerful on Capitol Hill. Tyson Foods, the giant poultry company, bought IBP, the No. 1 meat processor, forming a Goliath in market share and political power
          https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/meat/politics/

          (1)https://www.leagle.com/decision/199896319fsupp2d9441854

          Reply
  12. caucus99percenter

    The Guardian link for “Trafficking industry hit as ‘sex worker’ chatbots fool thousands” goes to the “Mother lynx and her kittens” story again.

    Reply
  13. Edward

    One thing about Bloomberg that I have not seen mentioned is that he used the police to illegally shut down the Occupy movement. So far he has gotten away with this crime against democracy. He should take credit for his “achievement”. Of course, this was probably an outcome desired by the Democratic Party Establishment and many others.

    Reply
      1. RWood

        Q.V. “fusion centers”

        “State and major urban area fusion centers (fusion centers) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)’s Field Intelligence Groups (FIGs) help protect our nation by serving as valuable conduits for sharing vital homeland security information with federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial (SLTT), and private sector partners.”

        Reply
    1. cnchal

      Just in time production feeds just in time payments.

      Apparently the bigs are deciding to restart production, guaranteeing an acceleration of the infection rate, with the idea that, yeah, a few tens or hundreds of thousands of people will die and almost everyone is infected with this thing, but getting paid is moar important, and besides look at the high value busy work of trying to find a vaccine or cure, and what can be learned from that. I kid you not.

      What should be happening is that everyone coming out of China and perhaps other countries too, be quaranteened for at least two weeks and production be delayed until it is stamped out in China, which would be months at least and potentially much longer.

      Globalization is a disaster no matter where one cares to look.

      Reply
      1. Monty

        “Apparently the bigs are deciding… yeah, a few tens or hundreds of thousands of people will die…but getting paid is moar important. ”

        “Not us, you.”

        Reply
      2. MLTPB

        It’s the same question again: fight it or save the economy.

        On the one hand, I’m reminded of the winning slogan, ‘Its the economy stup**.’

        On the other hand, we have ‘this time its different.’

        Reply
    2. Aumua

      And I wish that NC would stop feeding into the damned hysteria, but clearly that’s not gonna happen. So what do you do?

      Reply
        1. Aumua

          Oh absolutely, but covering it is one thing. I mostly mean the comments, which often veer into rampant speculation and unsupported doomsaying.

          Reply
            1. Aumua

              … and I can’t say that they’re wrong in this situation. We just don’t know yet. We like to play the part though, of one who knows… the future.

              Reply
      1. JTMcPhee

        Seems to me that NC is not so much feeding hysteria as trying to sort the data from the noise. A hard task, since so much of the data appear to be behind a waterfall of Bernays Sauce ™ (r)…

        Reply
      2. Yves Smith Post author

        This is not hysteria. The WHO just cleared its throat and said in bureaucrat speak that it does not buy the reports out of China that the new infections are slowing. From the Financial Times:

        Chinese data showing a decline in new coronavirus cases “must be interpreted very cautiously”, according to the head of the World Health Organization.

        “Trends can change as new populations are affected. It’s too early to tell if this reported decline will continue. Every scenario is still on the table,” Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general, told reporters during a press briefing.

        The latest Chinese government data showed the number of new coronavirus cases fell to the lowest level in three weeks. China has reported over 70,000 cases in total, including more than 1,700 deaths.

        The most cheery thing the WHO could come up with is that it’s premature to call the coronavirus a pandemic, since most of the cases outside China so far can be tied back to China.

        And see this story on how even medical personnel in China are being ordered to downplay the virus, and how many sick people are being turned away from the hospital.

        https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/feb/17/wuhan-china-doctors-coronavirus

        Reply
  14. Skip

    Regarding Coronavirus:

    In October I was in China’s far flung countryside, at times within several hours drive of Wuhan. My travels overlapped a Chinese holiday, and the roadside attractions were very crowded, including long, shoulder to shoulder lines for mountain cable cars, etc…, with urban Chinese coming in from everywhere, drawn to the clean air of higher elevations, ironically packing themselves into close proximity with each other.

    If you’d like to complicate your appetite, go into kitchens in the countryside and observe the preparation of mix and match meals served on a Lazy Susan, which at times for some of us became a Chinese torture device, including items like stinky tofu, chicken feet, endangered giant salamander and who knows what else.

    I started coming down with something after a mountain spa with hot springs of varying temperatures. One pool had little fish that nibbled off flaking skin on one’s feet. What could go wrong? Wherever I crossed paths with a microbe, by the time I returned to the US, I was quite ill with respiratory problems, and feeling very weak. I went through a couple courses of antibiotics to damp down complications before I finally wore out whatever caught me. I kept myself quarantined to part of the house, and the family escaped it. One of the people I was with in China was extremely ill, in bed for a month with walking pneumonia. There’s plenty of maladies in distant locales we aren’t used to, but I can’t help but wonder if we got an early lick of a mutating virus.

    On the way to China I met an MIT professor traveling to a conference of scientists very concerned that the virus that wiped out most of China’s pigs last year might jump species.

    So who knows what will come knocking next? Beyond flu vaccines, I strongly advise people to get up to date with the latest version of the pneumonia vaccine. If you’re not quite at the recommended age, maybe error on the side of caution and push for it anyway.

    Perhaps the need to shore up herd immunity is a good pitch for Medicare-for-All, so people aren’t waiting until they’re on death’s door before vaccinations and treatment.

    Reply
    1. MLTPB

      Mass tourism and globalism seem the top lessons to me.

      Health care systems can easily be overwhelmed. Preventing them from being stretched is the way to go.

      So whether Airbus or the Russians make better planes than Boeings MAX is secondary. We could do with fewer of them.

      Reply
    2. Parker Dooley

      The pneumonia vaccine is only effective against pneumococcal pneumonia. Although it may prevent or mitigate pneumococcal pneumonia occurring as a consequence of a viral respiratory infection such as influenza (or coronavirus???), it is of no value against any primary infection caused by any virus or bacteria other than pneumococcus pneumoniae. So, beneficial as a preventive measure against one specific organism.

      Reply
      1. Phenix

        Thank you for this comment. The vaccine has been expanded to include more variants because as the original 7 were reduced in number and new bacterial strains took their place some that are more dangerous.

        Reply
      2. Lee

        If Covid-19 becomes globally endemic, and globally part of the normal non-lethal human viral load, but causes serious illness in 15% of the population, and is 10 to 20 times more lethal than flu, and persists until all the vulnerable, living and yet unborn are dead…..imagination fails me at the moment.

        Reply
        1. Samuel Conner

          Poking around the Johns Hopkins CSSE “pandemic dashboard” (and assuming that the reporting for outlying provinces is both accurate and reasonably comprehensive), it looks like the typical ratio of “recovered/died” is significantly above 100 in China provinces (other than Hubei) with multiple hundreds of diagnoses. That ratio is less than 4 for Hubei province, but there are presumably large numbers of asymptomatic patients there who recovered without ever being diagnosed. (an interesting side note is that if the lethality is 1%, the ~1500 fatalities in Hubei province would suggest about 150,000 recovered, and perhaps a similar or larger number currently infected.

          Hopefully when more is known, it will be found to be less lethal than the lower limit of the range you mention. Still a major problem, though. I suspect that governments are going to be spending more on public health measures in the near future than they have in recent past.

          Reply
    3. Samuel Conner

      I’ve had similar thoughts re: M4A. Encountered on some news vector yesterday that the Chinese central government is starting to pay for all treatment of respiratory conditions, as the prior “pay before treat” system was deterring people from seeking treatment.

      If COVID-19 spreads into the community in US, I don’t see how we avoid a similar dynamic of many people not seeking diagnosis or care due to inability to pay, which I think would greatly complicate mitigation. M4A might become a national defense priority.

      Things are really popping on multiple fronts.

      Perhaps we are approaching a political analogue of the “singularity” that some futurists like to predict.

      Reply
    1. MLTPB

      Read an interesting case yesterday about a Japanese man who tested positive for it after returning from Hawaii, which had not reported one single case up to then, and excluding the Nihonese, still has none.

      Did he get it somewhere else? Did he get it somehow in the Aloha state?

      Reply
    2. Samuel Conner

      re > sheer panic

      per the Johns Hopkins CSSE dashboard,

      The ratio of “confirmed cases” to “recovered” in China provinces other than Hubei is in the range 3-4 for most provinces.

      The ratio of “recovered” to “died” in China provinces other than Hubei is highly variable from province to province, but for provinces with multiple hundreds of “recovered”, the ratio is typically in the range of 100-200

      In Hubei province, these ratios don’t apply; too many cases undiagnosed, and there are almost certainly large numbers already recovered without having been diagnosed.

      But if one were to back-extrapolate the presumably more complete ratios from other provinces, the ~1500 died would suggest the possibility that the total number of people in Hubei who have already fallen sick and recovered could be as high as 150,000 to 300,000. In other provinces, the ratio of “total confirmed cases” to “recovered” is typically in the range 3-4, which suggests the possibility of above one million cases in Hubei.

      Caveat: it might be completely wrong to apply the ratios in other provinces to Hubei province, since the shutdown of Wuhan city (public spaces largely deserted) could have greatly slowed transmission. So the above notional numbers could be well above the actuals.

      But the possibility that the numbers could be much larger than currently reported might be causing alarm among public health authorities.

      Reply
  15. chuck roast

    Amazing story on Browder and Hermitage Capital. The layers of this onion keep getting peeled away. I suspect that we are a a long way from getting down to the pearl. Browder seems to have built a huge edifice of support by seemingly legitimate leading political and media lights and Browder’s exposure as a crook, cheat and fraud (am I being redundant) would really be like the s**t hitting the fan for the spotless elect. Of course his big-foot in the Russian door was due to his grand-father being a Stalin stooge as head of CPUSA. You simply cannot make this stuff up.

    Reply
  16. OIFVet

    I am on vacation in Mexico right now, and didn’t bring my meloxicam pills since my back hadn’t bothered me in a while. Well, I was doing some rappelling yesterday and some other physically taxing activities, and my lower back locked up. Went to a pharmacy in a tourist area, and I got a month’s supply of meloxicam for $3 USD. I imagine I would have got it for less in a pharmacy meant for locals. Same prescription in the US ran me $90 when I couldn’t wait for a VA refill.

    Reply
    1. lyman alpha blob

      But I was surprised by the dearth of Bernie fans on the half-mile stretch between the Hanover Co-op and the Hanover-Lebanon line.

      In the town that whose major employers are Ivy League Dartmouth College and the mostly highly regarded hospital in the area outside of Boston, Dartmouth-Hitchcock, I’m not all that surprised.

      M4A and free college would break a lot of professional management class rice bowls in that town.

      Reply
      1. petal

        Didn’t Sanders plan call for free public college, not all college? The only Ivy that would screw up is the ag school at Cornell. Dartmouth has a pretty good aid plan. A kid at work went there for free, graduated last year. A prior roommate and his brother also went for free. I think the rich would still send their kids to private uni, it would be everyone else trying to send their kid to public. I am concerned it would be just another way to divide/segregate kids from poorer backgrounds from the upper class. They’d have that public school degree, not a private one. “Oh, you went to poor people school.” Would that affect hiring post-graduation? Even at Cornell, admitting you were in the ag school changed things. It wasn’t something you wanted to say out loud. You were then treated differently and excluded by others. Maybe I’m all wrong. It’s just a concern.

        Reply
        1. Samuel Conner

          > Didn’t Sanders plan call for free public college, not all college?

          Yes. I had a conversation last year with a former HRC enthusiast who was offended by what she understood to be Sanders’ proposal to pay everyone’s college tuition at all schools.

          I countered that Sanders was simply proposing to expand the idea of tuition-free schooling from the public primary and secondary schools to the public post-secondary schools. She immediately dropped her objections. It’s such an obvious and sensible measure.

          Reply
        2. Samuel Conner

          Sorry, didn’t read the whole comment.

          Arguably, the current system is already segregating people. I don’t know the underlying details, but I would be very surprised if it were not the case that many talented students whose parents are poor are unable to attend elite schools that they are smart enough to thrive in. And the situation will certainly continue to deteriorate on present trends.

          We already have a class-based segregation system, based on ability to pay.

          The question of discrimination against graduates of quality public universities is harder to deal with. A point that has been made at NC, IIRC, is that one of the advantages of graduation from an elite school is that one has a network of contacts among the elite that can be used for one’s advancement.

          Don’t have a solution for that.

          I’d like to think that a highly educated citizenry is a public good, just as a healthy citizenry is a public good. There aren’t enough elite private schools to educate all the citizens who might benefit from post-secondary schooling, so the public post-secondary schools are a public good, and dropping obstacles to enrollment in them is also a public good.

          Reply
      2. Jen

        Hillary lost to Bernie by a much narrower margin in Hanover than in any other town in the area in 2016. Something like 200 votes if I recall.

        As of this morning, the Amy sign had “Klobocharge! Klobocharge! Klobocharge!” on it. Oy. It’s going to be a long primary.

        Reply
        1. petal

          One side says Klobucharge and the other side says Klomentum(my personal fave!). Jen, at least it makes the commute interesting-something to look forward to, right? I was so bummed they didn’t interview them!

          Reply
    1. MLTPB

      PMarketwatch is reporting that the WHO says China bought the world time.

      On the other hand, after the US announced around the end of last month travel bans, CNN, BBC and others reported China criticizing our over reaction, accusing DC of spreading panic and fear…though the friend to the north, ie Russia, closed her border with China a day or two earlier.

      Reply
  17. Cuibono

    Results of our systematic review and meta-analysis show that there was no significant difference between N95 respirators and surgical masks when used by health care workers to prevent transmission of acute respiratory infections from patients. However, wide 95% CIs from our meta-analysis must be interpreted as insufficient evidence to determine whether there is a clinically significant difference. Findings from the surrogate exposure studies suggest that N95 respirators are superior to surgical masks for filter penetration, face-seal leakage and total inward leakage under laboratory conditions.

    https://www.cmaj.ca/content/188/8/567

    Reply
  18. Ignim Brites

    “Bloomberg defied a flight ban to show support for Israel, defended the country shelling a school and killing sleeping children”. Interestingly, Bloomberg uses the first person plural in defending Israeli attacks on Hamas. Which raises the question of whether or not he has dual citizenship. If so, there is possibly a constitutional question. Of course, it is hard to imagine a more pro-Israel administration than the current on. So one might hope for the Democrat party to at least debate somewhat more detached policies on Israel.

    Reply
    1. Eureka Springs

      Noticed that immediately. Of course he’s a Democrat, I mean former Republican, always globalist.

      Also recall a story during another Israeli bombing of Gaza, I believe in the late Bush Jr. years. Then Mayor Bloomberg flew over in his own plane with friends to watch the festivities of burning flesh in a concentration camp from a hillside whilst drinking champagne or some such. Can’t find any links on it, nothing pre ’14 linked today. Have wondered over the years if it’s been totally wiped from the net or are my search skills as bad as I’ve always suspected…)

      Reply
      1. JBird4049

        >>he’s a Democrat, I mean former Republican, always globalist.

        There is a difference between the three? There used to be a very broad, strong isolationist movement in both major parties before the Second World War. It is one of the reasons FDR could not go to war with Japan until after Pearl Harbor, and after the declaration of war by Congress, with Hitler having to declare war on the United States otherwise Congress would not have declared war on Germany. Inconceivable as that might be to many.

        Now it is droning, bombing, and shooting goat herders, weddings, and apartment buildings because, somehow, in some fashion or way, some of the dead were a terrorist threat. Maybe a threat to the empire’s pocketbook perhaps if they were not killed.

        People also keep saying that these two parties are still “different” but I don’t think that word means what they think it means.

        Reply
  19. TiPs

    Regarding the piece by the FRBNY on its FFR target, pre and post cirsis, it does not address the issues that caused the fall disruptions. It does provide some detail on the non-banks that use the FF market and why they needed to use ON RRPs to maintain a floor.

    Reply
      1. Susan the other

        federal reserve bank of NY and the fed funds rate – and I still cannot figure out what any of them are talking about…

        Reply
    1. chuckster

      Since California has no party primaries anymore(It’s top two go to the general election.) then why do they insist on party registration to begin with?

      Reply
      1. JBird4049

        That is an excellent question. I think that it is a method of identifying the troublesome, disobedient, unfaithful California voters; those who would not vote for the appropriate candidates.

        Technically, it is an open “jungle” primary, but the obscured or unexplained rules for registered third party and unaffiliated voters are different from the registered Democratic voters; a Democratic voter will have an easier time to vote for the Democratic candidates than others.

        Reply
  20. Oregoncharles

    The “sex worker chatbot” link goes to lynx video – possibly an improvement. Really charming, that video.

    Reply
  21. Oregoncharles

    “A 2014 Pew Research Center report suggested that the United States’ adult population of pagans and Wiccans was about 730,000—on par with the number of Unitarians.”

    In fact, the local Wiccans meet at the Unitarian church, so there might be some double counting going on..

    And the Buddhist Zendo is right next door (a friend worked on the renovation). That location might be a coincidence.

    Reply
  22. John k

    Bloomberg said to consider Hillary for veep, and he’s willing to shift residence to FL where he has estate. (Zh).
    Is this a great country or what?

    Reply
    1. Typing Chimp

      So I’m guessing here, but if true:

      1. I don’t see how this helps his chances of winning anything–though it may increase his ability to sway the election on particular issues. I imagine the point is to suck up a lot of donor money away from alternative candidates (Hillary, somehow, seems to be able to collect money). This may hurt most Democratic candidates, but I don’t think it particularly impacts Bernie in an adverse way, since his donor base is very differently constructed.

      2. Implications re: Florida are interesting–whenever somebody says that “Candidate X” will/won’t win in a general election against Trump, they are basically saying that Candidate X will/won’t win Florida. Maybe changing domiciles will help Bloomberg win Florida, then? (I doubt it, but what do I know).

      3. LOL–I would not want to be the only person standing between Hillary and the Presidency…Pre-Obama, Chris Rock once had a part in his stand-up routine about why a black person could never be Vice-President. He could re-use that material if Bloomberg picks Hillary…

      Reply
      1. Samuel Conner

        Having HRC perceived to be the intended VP could be useful in terms of DNC manipulation of the convention. If I understand rightly, the current owner of the legal entity that is the DNC is the Clinton Foundation. I had previously half in jest suggested that MB could acquire the DNC for a sum well within his budget. But perhaps simply naming the right person to his ticket could have the same effect without the expense.

        I don’t think that HRC adds to the MB ticket in the general election; if anything, her presence might improve DJT’s base turnout. But if the goal is simply to “stop Bernie” by any means (with a possible subsidiary goal of inflicting long term damage on the D party), HRC might be an ideal choice.

        This has for me a bit of the feel of “Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.” When the generals start flexing their muscle?

        Reply
        1. JTMcPhee

          MB is very familiar with the practice of acquiring “naming rights.” Those usuallly go for a lot less than outright acquisition of the whole structure. So: the “Bloomberg Party LLC.” I wonder what Billary would take for that deal. Bearing in mind that they are getting closeR to their personal “use by” dates…

          Reply
  23. Chris

    I suppose one benefit of seeing the global supply chain for OTC medicine grind to a halt is we’ll see what products require China and India to come to the US. We might also see the near shoring and local initiatives from hospitals get more funding too.

    Thinking about my family, if I had to stock up on supplies in anticipation of them being gone I’d get a month or two worth of the usual suspects. And probably water jugs too. Band aids, pain meds, mucus meds, cold meds, sore throat lozenges, tea, honey, etc. I have a real respirator if it comes to it but I don’t think it will. I think anyone who is considering buying hazmat suits is kidding themselves but maybe not.

    The American Conservative has been on a tear lately with pandemic scaremongering. I truly think the flu this season is worse based on all the information I have… but the more I hear coming out of China the more I begin to doubt my assessment. Why would President Xi quarantine so many people if this wasn’t a big deal? What information aren’t we getting from China? And is there any level of pandemic that could make people rethink our current global system? I just don’t know the answer to any of that.

    And how many people are buying stock in the companies that will be involved in all my purchases? I feel like I’m living through the prequel to the Wind-up Girl…

    Reply
    1. MLTPB

      I understand in a few selected cities here, we are going to test for covid19 for those with flu like symptoms. (Reported by Business Insider, NBC News, maybe more).

      Reply
      1. smoker

        From NBC, on 02/14/20:

        Doctors in five U.S. cities will begin testing patients with flu-like symptoms for the new coronavirus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday.

        The coronavirus test will only be given to patients who test negative for the flu. So far, the testing protocol will be implemented in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Seattle, though more cities will be added.

        No mention of quarantining them in the piece, in case anyone is wondering.

        Reply
        1. Samuel Conner

          This was mentioned in the CDC “media availability”/”conference call” Friday 2/14

          They’re adding functionality to the flu surveillance network, starting with the five locations mentioned. It’ll hopefully give quicker notice if there starts to be community spread. I have the impression (don’t recall the specifics) that the idea of expanding the number of labs that will do this is under consideration.

          The thing that stood out for me (perhaps it should not have) in hearing that call was that the CDC medical expert spoke of the measures in a way that I thought might imply that they foresee spread into the community at some point, that the current containment measures may not be able to prevent community spread, but are “buying time”. I tend to be hyper-alert for “reasons to worry”, so this might just be my over-interpretation of what was said.

          Reply
          1. smoker

            I hear you about being be hyper-alert for “reasons to worry”,, which I attribute in large part to the rampant corruption, greed, meanness, and stunning negligence (the Homeless count for instance) in the dying days of Capitalism.

            Reply
          2. VietnamVet

            Corporate Media has been exceedingly quiet about talking to epidemiologists to describe the future path of the Wuhan coronavirus epidemic; except, to harangue the Chinese Communist Party for authoritarianism. Not one mention of the time China gave to the rest of the world to develop a vaccine. The fringe internet has a few reports from university professors saying a global pandemic is inevitable.

            I can’t help but think that the remnants of the public health system will do their best but will fail without funding due to inadequate health equipment and supplies plus leaky voluntary quarantines. Donald Trump will only get involved if he sees that the shutdown of the consumer economy will empty his portfolio and he will lose the November election, if held. Since corporate democrats are similar, Congress will sit on its hands. Literally our fate is at the whims of the virus, the skills of the vaccine manufacturers, and the effectiveness of keeping the virus spreaders away from the uninfected population. The outcomes range from minimum impact to a global depression and the death of tens of millions. It is outrageous that democracy has been so corrupted that government is not preparing for the worse case scenario.

            Reply
        2. gc54

          At Trudeau airport in Montreal yesterday pm we were told as our commuter-jet from US approached the gate that anyone having flu symptoms should tell the cabin crewperson before disembarking and might be specially screened. Cabin crewperson was obviously unfamiliar with the announcement. The vague list of symptoms did not make it a useful notification nor was the process described appealing enough for anyone to volunteer.

          In the arrival/customs hall I looked down onto the teaming masses disgorged from several flights including a big Turkish Airlines 777 and speculated to a ground person that the space could well be deserted in 2 months. She agreed

          Reply
    2. Typing Chimp

      I’m actually thinking that there will likely be a supply constraint/price hikes in computer chips, memory, GPUs, etc.

      Computer chimps will hopefully greatly increase in value as well.

      Reply
  24. drumlin woodchuckles

    I have only 20 minutes before I have to “get to work!”. So I just barely began reading the ” age of fake products” article and decided to come here straightaway and say . . .

    If you shop on Amazon, you are part of the problem. If you buy anything from Amazon, you well and truly deserve any fake product you end up buying. For you, I have only laughter and no sympathy at all.

    I think eventually a backlash niche market will arise of vendors who boycott Amazon. They will even think of a catchy name and symbol to identify themselves. Maybe ” NOmazon”. Maybe ” Amazon-Free”.
    And for a symbol, they could use the universally-recognized circle-slash symbol . . . maybe with the slash going over the Face of Bezos or maybe with the slash going over that strange diplocaulus-inspired emblem that Amazon uses.

    ( Diplocaulus-inspired? Yes, really. Compare it to these images of diplocaulus and tell me I’m wrong.
    https://images.search.yahoo.com/search/images;_ylt=AwrJ7FWZUUhexZsALjBXNyoA;_ylu=X3oDMTEyNWNiaW4yBGNvbG8DYmYxBHBvcwMxBHZ0aWQDQjI5NDRfMQRzZWMDc2M-?p=diplocaulus&fr=sfp&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly9zZWFyY2gueWFob28uY29tL3NlYXJjaDtfeWx0PUF3ckUxeGdYU2toZWJ3a0FZa0ZERFdWSDtfeWxjPVgxTURNVEU1Tnpnd05EZzJOd1JmY2dNeUJHWnlBd1JuY0hKcFpBTTJObEV4VlZscVMxTm5ObXRPWjBwb1lUQmZkV3BCQkc1ZmNuTnNkQU13Qkc1ZmMzVm5ad015Qkc5eWFXZHBiZ056WldGeVkyZ3VlV0ZvYjI4dVkyOXRCSEJ2Y3dNd0JIQnhjM1J5QXdSd2NYTjBjbXdEQkhGemRISnNBekl3QkhGMVpYSjVBMlJwY0d4dlkyRjFiSFZ6SlRJd2FXMWhaMlZ6QkhSZmMzUnRjQU14TlRneE56azNOemcxP2ZyMj1zYi10b3Atc2VhcmNoJnA9ZGlwbG9jYXVsdXMraW1hZ2VzJmZyPXNmcCZpc2Nxcnk9&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAAF8Dt-jYl88FqKiePwMmHFs3jUKwfGNPrO3YoiU2Wq1uqUtU79cGns_zcSgh4gg_JsycAQet_sg9rUIbyYut5T-ly8ZFRD72Q3ZmzZ3rSPUXrFo2GFIUumQQ-yVv5BxgYKzWOYksrdcqbErVU6JeBglB8xqm-uuCrOpxBp8dx545&_guc_consent_skip=1581797822 )

    And there will be just enough people in a position to buy from them instead of from Amazon so as to keep them in business in cold-reserve-survival mode until a Mass Social Disgust threshhold against Amazon is reached. At which point, more people will flock to those businesses than those businesses can handle.
    At which point those businesses will start to grow and other such businesses will form.

    ” Amazon keep on moving. This is a leGITimate bussiness.”

    ” God help you Amazon if the sun sets on you here.”

    Reply
    1. Chris

      I think that ship has sailed. Consider the grubhub/uber eats/seamless fraud reported the other day. The only way to be truly certain you’re Amazon free is to not use the internet. If you advertise or have your own shop online, you’re open to being swept into the fraud channel for Amazon. We have no government over site. We have no or few options in many parts of the US. What do you think we can do? What do you think someone who is either working frantically to stay out of poverty, or is in poverty working two jobs has time to do? Amazon is so popular because of all these factors.

      Reply
      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        You raise some real issues. It is too late for many. While government was paid to look on benignly, Bezos turned hundreds of millions of people into Prisoners of Bezos.

        So I should limit my condemnation to those people who still have a choice, and choose to choose Amazon. Let everything I said still apply to them.

        Meanwhile, there are still people and businesses selling on NOmazon platforms and places. As long as people buy their stuff, they can stay in business. Perhaps just enough people will buy their stuff to keep them just surviving, until bigger changes in the Great Matrix which surrounds us all lead to Amazon becoming non-viable. How would Amazon do in a world of $10.00/gallon gas?
        Even Amazon isn’t too big to catch a black swan if one emerges.

        Ships under sail have been known to sink. Some have even been sunk.

        Reply
  25. Este Profani

    Any expression of efficiency, reason, and self-control, including modernist architecture, is antithetical to the baroque style of Trump inadequacy. If parcel to the admin, I would study “venal gothic night terror” x “decaying ganguro” as the deserved style. But that would be associated with a) coherency + b) work + c) imagination… so, impossible.

    Reply
  26. Ignacio

    RE: How Xi Jinping’s “Controlocracy” Lost Control Project Syndicate (David L)

    Covid 19 is indeed an eye opener on what is wrong in China. Not just Tibetans and Uighur but ethnic Chinese are now suffering the darkest side of the dictatorship and the Orwellian Controlocracy described in this article. That said, I think that Ambrose-Pritchards’ torygraph article in yesterdays links did a better job of criticism on Jinping’s ruling than this by Quiang. I don’t buy the narrative on what happened on the early days of SARS-Cov2 and his critics in retrospective are an all too easy target selection without really knowing what already happened. The big first mistake of Chinese leadership is correctly identified when many from Hubei were let to flee the region before the Quarantine and this was probably the most human and populist of the errors made: letting many to return to their homes though many just fled what looked a nightmarish perspective. Though very little is known on how the quarantines are managed, not just in Wuhan but in all provinces, my intuition is that many must be suffering without need and for the sake of the exporting machine… but the mistake is so big I believe the leadership is hurting the exporting machine even more and at the same time making the life of many quite miserable. I was expecting this article to treat with the almost certainly horrible management of the post-Wuhan epidemics but unfortunately not.

    After this, I feel greater solidarity for HKers.

    Reply
    1. MLTPB

      CBS news has their Live Updates and from Feb 14, 2020, this appears:

      Battling the coronavirus epidemic is a “big test for the country’s governance system and governance ability,” Chinese President Xi Jinping said Friday, chairing a political meeting on government reforms, according to state broadcaster CCT

      Xi is saying this is political.

      Maybe this opens up the possibility for the Nationalists and others in Taiwan to run in China.

      Reply
  27. Plenue

    >Bernie Sanders Isn’t a Socialist New York Times

    I mean, the article isn’t wrong.

    But I don’t exactly have any interesting in hearing about economic definitions from an economically illiterate fake Nobel Prize winner.

    Reply
  28. inode_buddha

    “Bloomberg once blamed end of ‘redlining’ for 2008 collapse Associated Press”

    In my own circles most if not all conservatives/republicans take it as an article of faith that 2008 was caused by government interference in the Free Market in the form of requiring the banks to lend to anyone. Much in the same way that mainstream Democrats suffer from Trump Derangement Syndrome as an article of faith, this is what the Right pushes, contrary to all evidence and arguments otherwise. It is *always* the big bad governments fault.

    Reply
    1. Plenue

      Let me guess, they think the government passed a law *requiring* banks to give loans to poor minorities, right? That’s a claim I’ve encountered often.

      Reply
      1. inode_buddha

        Yep, that’s it. I am at a loss for words when I encounter that sort of thing. Specifically, the CRA (community reinvestment act).

        Essentially the Right believes that any sort of equality is an abberration and should be stamped out.

        Reply
  29. katiebird

    Regarding COVID-19, is this paper, The role of absolute humidity on transmission rates of the COVID-19 outbreak valid, reliable and important?

    However, the role of absolute humidity in transmission of COVID-19 has not yet been established. Here, we examine province-level variability of the basic reproductive numbers of COVID-19 across China and find that changes in weather alone (i.e., increase of temperature and humidity as spring and sum- mer months arrive in the North Hemisphere) will not necessarily lead to de- clines in COVID-19 case counts without the implementation of extensive public health interventions.

    Reply
  30. urblintz

    It’s ironic, ahem, that while the Democrats move to legitimize the loathsome Bloomberg as a Trump beater, one of their former heroes, the bat-poo loony sleazebag lawyer Michael Avenatti is going to jail: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2020/02/14/michael-avenatti-convicted-trying-extort-nike/4762985002/

    Seems like only yesterday they were cheering:

    “The lawyer for Stormy Daniels has become a national sensation with his ever-constant appearances on cable news advocating for his client and attacking Donald Trump. But while Democratic activists like Avenatti on television, they love his live show Friday. They clapped, they cheered and flocked to him for selfies afterwards in a mob scene.

    Jeff Link, a top Democratic operative in the state who was spending the day accompanying Avenatti, said the only comparison he had ever witnessed was Barack Obama’s first visit to the state, in 2006.”

    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/aug/11/michael-avenatti-says-democrats-must-fight-fire-with-fire-as-he-eyes-presidential-run

    oops:

    “As they race to distance themselves from Michael Avenatti, who was arrested this week and charged with trying to extort millions of dollars from Nike…”

    https://www.realclearpolitics.com/2019/03/27/remember–dems_peddled_avenattis_kavanaugh_smears_470257.html

    Reply
    1. judy2shoes

      From the article:

      “We have a responsibility to our customers and the communities where we operate to ensure these partners meet our high standards for things like safety and working conditions,” an Amazon spokeswoman said in an email.”

      Right.

      Reply
  31. PressGaneyMustDie

    “We have a responsibility to our customers and the communities where we operate to ensure these partners meet our high standards for things like safety and working conditions,” an Amazon spokeswoman said in an email.”

    I wonder what it’s like to look in the mirror each morning and say, “I am the mouth of Sauron.”

    Reply

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