Links 2/26/2020

Yves here. Sorry for the lack of original posts. Too much news flow + the debate + a dentist visit (not serious but something I had to address) ate my day.

Look at These Mind-Blowing Fossils of 1 Billion-Year-Old Seaweed Science Alert (Kevin W)

Smithsonian Releases 2.8 Million Images Into Public Domain Smithsonian

Musicians Algorithmically Generate Every Possible Melody, Release Them to Public Domain Vice (David L)

Planet Is Screwed, Says Bank That Screwed the Planet New Republic

Major wind-driven ocean currents shifting toward the poles AGU (Chuck L)

Researchers find new reason Arctic is warming so fast PhysOrg (David L)

Fossil-Fuel Subsidies Must End Scientific American (furzy)


Public health experts raise alarm as coronavirus spreads The Hill

Coronavirus: Outbreak spreads in Europe from Italy BBC. Croatia, which has no border with Italy, but not Slovenia, which does….

China’s health care system under pressure as coronavirus continues to spread CNBC.

Disease Burden of Influenza CDC (resilc)

New Paper Adds Support to Covid-19’s Natural Origins Caixin (Dr. Kevin)

How One Singapore Sales Conference Spread Coronavirus Around the World Wall Street Journal

How the coronavirus crisis could lead to four more years of Trump South China Morning Post (Dr. Kevin)

Japan Urges Telecommuting, Staggered Shifts To Curb Coronavirus Reuters

Hospitals in Japan refusing to test many who suspect they have COVID-19 Japan Times

Aerial footage shows huge queues for masks in South Korea amid coronavirus panic Guardian (resilc)

P&G expects coronavirus outbreak to hit current-quarter revenue, profit Reuters (furzy)

As Covid-19 Spreads, Amazon Tries to Curb Mask Price Gouging Wired

Coronavirus threatens the global economy with a ‘sudden stop’ Telegraph (David L)

San Francisco mayor declares coronavirus emergency Los Angeles Times (David L)

India. #DelhiRiots2020 is top trending on Twitter, over 65K tweets as of now.

Delhi Riots: Mosques and Huts Burned, Children Attacked, at Least 2 Dead in Mustafabad The Wire (J-LS)

The rise of yet another neofascist party expands Europe’s populist reach Quartz (resilc)


Downing Street rejects EU’s ‘onerous’ opening trade offer Guardian

Secret doorway in Parliament leads to historical treasure trove BBC (Kevin W)

New Cold War

CNN features fascist-adjacent activist as expert on Russian disinfo Yasha Levine


Julian Assange was ‘handcuffed 11 times and stripped naked’ Guardian. This was after the first day of his hearing.

Assange fight draws in Trump’s new intel chief Politico

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

NSA Phone Surveillance Program Cost $100 Million, Yielded One Major Investigation The Hill

Trump Transition

Ginni Thomas Helps Trump Purge the White House – Wife of Supreme Court’s Clarence Thomas Esquire (furzy)

The FBI Is Investigating Massive Embezzlement of Border Patrol Union Funds ProPublica (furzy)

Health Care

Bernie Sanders Embraces A New Study That Lowers ‘Medicare For All’s’ Price Tag, But Skepticism Abounds KHN. Knives are out….

The Opposite of Socialized Medicine Atlantic (resilc)

2020. Tried to find a clip of Warren shellacking Bloomberg again, which was great fun. Sadly, not in the Twitterverse yet.

Note this is what he more or less said at one point in the debate:

Establishment Democrats still fundamentally misunderstand Bernie Sanders Washington Post. UserFriendly: “Not horrible.”

Sanders surpasses Biden among African American voters: Reuters/Ipsos poll Reuters (furzy)

Sanders & Socialism: Debate Between Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman & Socialist Economist Richard Wolff DemocracyNow! (Kevin C)

Critics of sweeping policy changes always make one huge mistake: Robert Reich Raw Story (furzy)

Florida Democrats Sue to Kick Sanders Off Primary Ballot Courthouse News (Dan K). Also featured in Water Cooler. Looks like a crank case. Plus I can’t imagine the Florida Dems could print and distribute new ballots by March 17.

Why The Establishment Can’t Bank On ‘Moderate’ Voters Consolidating Against Sanders FiveThirtyEight

Michael Bloomberg Is Always Wrong About the Economy Slate (resilc). Bloomberg’s economy isn’t at all like yours and mine.

Key Silicon Valley Reservoir To Be Completely Drained Due To Earthquake Risk Mercury News

First Woman Set to Pass Special Forces Training and Join Green Berets New York Times (David L). WTF, only now?

Juul Reportedly Plans To Pitch the FDA An Age-Locked E-Cigarette Gizmodo

BlackRock’s black box: the technology hub of modern finance Financial Times (David L)

Crypto Derivatives: CME Volume Crashes 89% in 3 Days, SEC to Rule on ETF CoinTelegraph (furzy)

Antidote du jour. La Peruse:

We live on several hundred hectares of bush in East Gippsland, and this summer were burnt over three times. But now a local has found a better use for our fire trailer.

And a bonus:

Two cheetah cubs have been born through in vitro fertilization and embryo transfer into a surrogate mother at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. Video courtesy of the Columbus Zoo.

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. PlutoniumKun

    I just wanted to add this article from the scmp as I think its important – the authorities there are essentially (so far as I can see) applying MMT principles to shore up the economy as part of their annual budget..

    Most eye-catching measure is HK$10,000 payment to each permanent resident aged 18 or older while taxpayers get concessions in property rates, salaries tax will be waived for about 1.95 million earners and businesses can get low-interest loans of up to HK$2 million.

    1. David Carl Grimes

      What if Trump does the same for businesses if the Coronavirus crisis gets worse. He gave farmers some money during the height of the trade war

      1. allan

        Where “some money” = $28 billion (more than the 2009 auto bailout),
        most of which went to megafarms and corporations.
        But serious Dems need to talk about the ballooning deficit. /s/s/s

        You are absolutely right, if Mr. Market continues to have a sad,
        DJT could turn on a dime and go MMT (without calling it MMT).

            1. JTMcPhee

              It ain’t free, it’s the expression of that “full faith and credit” that makes up the economy. Query: anyone here going to pledge to refuse any disbursement of the kind Hong Kong is making to attempt to palliate the effects of this plague?

              Buy gold with it! It’s what you might call a “golden opportunity!

          1. John k

            Mmt puts money into the hands of people that spend it in the real economy, creating demand for real goods and services… the money circulates.
            QE buys treasury’s with new money. Now the people selling their treasuries have cash, which they use to purchase some other asset… not spent to create demand for real goods and services. Money then just sits somewhere.

          2. David

            MMT people contend that “QE” isn’t even all that stimulatory except in the sense of asset inflation. MMT in general prefers working via the fiscal path rather than monetary. Even the mainstream seems to be catching on to the idea that attempts at monetary stimulus don’t work very well.

            1. David Carl Grimes

              Steven Keen said a maximum of 10% of the Fed’s QE hits Main Street. The rest just circulates in the banking system. So $4T in QEs leads to at most $400 billion stimulus.

            2. Oh

              Thank you all for the distinction between QE and MMT. I have another question:
              While QE of the past 10 years has definitely increased asset prices, the accompanying lower mortgage interest rates have spurred more construction in the building industry and that money is spent for other goods and services. Is this true?

            1. Wukchumni

              Military Monetary Theory was fabulous, we spent around $20 trillion since 9/11, all conjured out of thin air and nobody said a word, unlike yesterday’s debate where candidates showed much umbrage at the idea of spending so much on ourselves and our health instead.

          3. Yves Smith Post author

            Wash your mouth out.

            QE is not MMT. It is not fiscal spending.

            It is an asset swap, exchanging Treasuries (sometimes Fannie/Freddie bonds) for cash to INVESTORS. Those investors just go buy something else or the same securities again. That drives their prices up and lowers interest rates.

            See here:



      2. Monty

        My prediction. People won’t ask “HoW aRe We GoInG tO pAy FoR tHaT?” if they are getting a $10k cash payment themselves.

        1. Wukchumni

          To be fair, HK$10,000 is about the same amount proposed to be given to citizens of the largest scary town in the state, Stockton.

          Around US$1,300.

        2. Nat

          Sadly my experience is the “HoW aRe We GoInG tO pAy FoR tHaT?” people will ask that about every single $10k in payment not specifically going to one of them.

    2. Susan the other

      Everybody is looking at the fallout from coronavirus and thinking, Can we all take another hit like 2008? It looks like the answer is No. And even helicopter money can’t do too much because if nobody goes to work for the next 6 to 18 months there’s nothing to spend that money on. Maybe repairs. If Trump were smart he’d give back 10,000 foreclosed-by-Obama houses to the people who were screwed the most by the GFC. What democrat can top that, or ignore it? It’s almost a given that the US will foot the bill for containing coronavirus – so that’s almost expected. I don’t know the statistics but I’d assume that the GFC slowed the world economy by 30% and it never recovered; now coronavirus is gonna do at least as much damage. So then climate change should finish us off but good.

      1. c_heale

        Starting to think Covid has the potential to cause our current society to break down. Modern manufacturing is totally reliant on China. Even in a best case scenario, it’s not going to be back to normal in under a month. (In a worst case scenario, this is the new normal). A lot of pharmaceuticals are manufactured in China. Real estate is going to be dead around the world for that amount of time. Many banks are heavily invested in real estate. Korea/Taiwan/China supply the world with the majority of computer components. A lot of clothes are manufactured in Asia – which is likely to be out for at least a month. That’s some of the world’s major industries out of action for a significant time. And this is ignoring tourism, sports, and things like the restaurant industry…

        1. cnchal

          > . . . it’s not going to be back to normal in under a month.

          It is never going to be normal again. This is a permanent rift, with not yet imagined consequences.

          To fix this, ie get rid of it, requires everyone on the planet to not move for at least a month. So far, still way too much movement to stop the spread, and as soon as China tries to start up making a buck again by firing up the lathes and presses it will respread there.

          What else will never be normal again is the relationship between the globalizing elite and the peasants. Here, globalization has become a direct threat to your life due to, not only lost jawbs over decades, but the aquiesience of our elite to China’s leadership, which above all is a brutal dictatorship that brooks no criticism, which leads directly to this mass world infection, killing people worldwide, even those that wanted nothing to do with globalization.

          Oh, and news from the local pharmacy is over a hundred drugs are no longer available, cause they are sourced from, oopsie, China and we haven’t been making them because workers here could not be paid little enough to compete with the China price.

          Total elite failure. Total.

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

          1. Anon

            To fix this, ie get rid of it, requires everyone on the planet to not move for at least a month.

            The folks on those cruise ships weren’t moving and the virus spread anyway. Think about how you would feed yourself by not “moving” about your town. Covid-19 appears to be more contagious and more morbid than the common flu (which is vaccinable). If it gets into ANY town in the US the likelyhood of broader contagion is quite high, despite quarantines.

            That is why the CDC is trying to get the population/medical facilities prepared for extraordinary events. We will be very lucky if this contagion event doesn’t cause widespread disruption in the US. Schools in particular will be directly affected. Schools are de facto child care for most parents.

      2. kiwi

        “Helicoptor” money, as you call it, will be necessary to keep the entire system from freezing up and to keep people spending money and buying, at a minimum, necessities.

        Giving property back, while noble, is not going to do anyone any good if the system slows to a halt. You can’t eat your house. Nor can you sell it for much if there is no money moving around the system.

        If government doesn’t keep money flowing….well, I hate to contemplate the consequences. It was bad enough during the recent depression.

    3. Procopius

      I don’t think those are MMT principles. Hong Kong does have its own currency, but it is pegged to the US $, so they are not sovereign. The article says they “have reserves of about HK $1.1 trillion,” which lawmakers have been pressuring the government to use. I think they also have large debts in other currencies, and then there’s the Chinese government, which could take them over at any time.

    4. PlutoniumKun

      Just a clarification on this – Michael Pettis says that contrary to first appearances this is not a monetary expansion, they may be paying for this out of reserves.

  2. CBBB

    Buttigieg is still polling “okay” even after all this time. It is unbelievable. Anyone who supports this guy after hearing him drone on the same phoney talking points in his fake Obama voice for this long is brain-dead.

    1. Woodchuck

      I was extremely surprised by the CBS post-debate poll that showed 38% of viewers were “impressed” by Buttigieg’s performance. It had to be THE most annoying performance I ever saw in a debate. It’s not even about what he said (well, not ONLY about what he said, which was basically nothing of substance), he just spoke over everyone all the time and “moderators” did nothing to stop it.

      1. T

        In my own personal lived experience in these times, the Pete people are thin-skinned Hillary stans who glom onto anything vicious and petty with an easily defended veneer of normal and a dash of theater passing for identity politics.

        In canvassing, have run into a handful of Pete people (mostly second choices in Iowa). All male under 35 who sounded like they were wearing polo shirts.

        Are there Pete peole who think he’s the safe bet? It’s all very curious.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          I would argue its more of a “belief” based bet than approaching critical thinking. Pete’s whole schtick is meant to appeal to the elderly who want to be praised, but I think they see young, educated, handsome but non-threatening, token and so forth and have concluded Obama 2.0 without examining any of the factors that brought Obama to the top or why those factors may no longer be relevant. You see a similar process with “1972 and McGovern”. Its just a faith based argument when so many would-be Obamas with better acts than Pete have failed or events like 2016 when all the smart Clintonistas did everything the right way turned into disasters.

          Its really no different than concluding that a colored evening sky means rain the next day then blaming witches for it not raining because once it happened to work out.

          Men fear thought as they fear nothing else on earth – more than ruin, more even than death. Thought is subversive and revolutionary, destructive and terrible; thought is merciless to privilege, established institutions, and comfortable habits; thought is anarchic and lawless, indifferent to authority, careless of the well-tried wisdom of the ages. -Bertrand Russell

          Like “Obama’s got this”, the problems of the electorate and governing can simply be left to a smarty pants like Pete. Everyone else can go back to shopping on Amazon Prime. Most of the candidates are basically pitching they can solve the 2020 problem on their own. Sanders is the only one asking for something else which is accountability from citizenry which is critical thinking, not belief.

          1. judy2shoes

            Like “Obama’s got this”, the problems of the electorate and governing can simply be left to a smarty pants like Pete. Everyone else can go back to shopping on Amazon Prime. Most of the candidates are basically pitching they can solve the 2020 problem on their own. Sanders is the only one asking for something else which is accountability from citizenry which is critical thinking, not belief.

            Thank you for this comment. My perception of the liberal Dems I know is that after Obama was elected, they rolled over and went to sleep, safe in the idea that Obama and the Dems had their best interests at heart. Love [unexamined party fealty] is blind, apparently.

            He called those who didn’t fall asleep and noticed he wasn’t following through on campaign promises “sanctimonious purists” for daring to try to get him to honor his promises. I remember his imploring voters to “make me do it” while he was on the campaign trail. Bunch of hot air like so much else he said.*

            Sanders is telling us up front that we have to participate, remain vigilant, and keep pushing to get his policies passed. It’s not him; it’s us, but NC people already know that.

            *I have to admit to having a wee bit of O/DDS (obama/democrat derangement syndrome).

          2. Yves Smith Post author

            My 92 year old mother didn’t like Mayo Pete. Said he is a smartass.

            She interestingly (and depressingly) said Bloomberg (in this debate, not the first) would be plausible to someone who didn’t know he was lying.

            I think Mayo Pete, like Trump, is polarizing. People either like him or hate him. For example, those who’ve worked in big organizations have probably come across glib kiss-ups like him.

        2. Oxley Creek Boy

          He seems to have the HRC talent of dividing people’s opinions. There must be something special about him to come out of nowhere and succeed where more likely candidates in the smooth-talking centrist lane failed. On the other hand, I can’t think of any other centrist politician that managed to provoke such visceral loathing from so many on the left so early in their career either.

            1. EarlErland

              Pete’s milk cow is going dry. His campaign announced last night that he was cancelling a trip to Florida, where three fund raisers had been scheduled for today, because he was “sick”. The same announcement also stated he was going to attend a breakfast in SC this morning.

          1. lyman alpha blob

            There must be something special about him to come out of nowhere and succeed where more likely candidates in the smooth-talking centrist lane failed.

            There is! He’s very spook-adjacent.

          2. NotTimothyGeithner

            Didn’t he make a good impression at the DNC election? He strikes me as more disciplined than say O’Rourke, and unlike Ossof, he didn’t lose after receiving the nomination.

            Then I would argue the “woke liberal” class is only so woke which hurt Harris and Booker, and then those two had their own problems.

        3. CBBB

          Well I’ve only seen suporters on Twitter, seem like upper-middle class people who just want Obama back and are somehow very stupid and gullible and fall for his Obama-ism schtick
          AND also put a lot of emphasis on credentials and resume. Therefore the fact that he went to Harvard and was a Rhodes Scholar makes him always “sound” smart to them even if he says nothing actually smart. They just hear the CV talking.

          Also I am pretty sure he has some kind of CIA backing, that’s how he’s managed to rocket past more established candidates.
          All very depressing. That guy would be a horrible President and wouldn’t have a chance against Trump any way.

      2. Furzy

        I totally agree; just listening to Buttigieg I found myself becoming very annoyed…he’s so full of himself…

      3. cnchal

        > I was extremely surprised by the CBS post-debate poll that showed 38% of viewers were “impressed” by Buttigieg’s performance.

        Not me. I close my eyes and listen to eliminate the visual distractions and Mayo Pete spoke coherently for extended periods of time. The story he was trying to tell, a total load of bullshit in my opinion, was said very well. So in a nutshell, good talker with self centeredness as his priority.

        What got me to throw my hands up was the descent into math maddness with regards to universal health care. Throwing trillions around like confetti without context.

        The math is simple to explain. The health care system cost per family is X under the present system, with insurance premiums, massive deductibles before you even get to where insurance can help, hiden surprise gotcha bills manipulated to enrich billionaire owners of medical services (Pirate Equity) and so forth. The whole system is on the wrong side of the law were medical price fixing and collusion prosecuted.

        Replace that system with universal health care, and taxes go up half of what it costs to run the corrupt system as it is now. That is the bottom line. Who wouln’t take that deal? Only those that profit greatly from the corrupt system.

        BTW – worst debate ever, and E Warren is a dipshit. “Kill it”, indeed. What verbal diarrhea from most of them.

        Bernie or bust.

        1. Kurt Sperry

          This. Pete avoided the histrionics and drama the others (except perhaps robotic MB) fell into. Everyone else seemed rather worked up and Pete in contrast seemed calm, controlled, and measured by comparison. Sure he was talking utter bollocks, but he distinguished himself with his calm delivery. If you prefer that understated delivery as I’m sure many people would, it’s natural you’d be impressed by Pete’s performance.

        2. Monty

          “Who wouln’t take that deal?”

          1) People who currently have no medical worries, and will personally pay more under the universal system. They are a minority but I expect there are rather a lot of people in this group. Remember, we have been trained to view life as an every man for himself competition against each other.

          2) People who profit from a subservient, underpaid workforce, who are in it for the healthcare. If people aren’t afraid that losing their job would end their access to healthcare, I predict they will be far less inclined to stick it out in BS jobs.

        3. lyman alpha blob

          Those who don’t understand what you just succinctly explained are being deliberately obtuse at this point. A five year old could grasp the concept so it’s maddening to hear grown adults who are ostensibly responsible for keeping the electorate informed continue to ask this stupid question about how we’re going to pay for M4A.

          Bernie or burn it down.

          1. kiwi

            Yes, they don’t seem to realize that we are already paying for it with crap coverage.

            It seems that Bernie never made it clear that employees/employers would no longer be paying for their current coverage, and that would (or could) offset the cost of coverage for M4A.

            The unions must have some great coverage, too, and not the high deductible plans being forced down most employees’ throats for the unions to oppose M4A.

      4. BhamDan

        This is not ‘nam there are rules, or there should be anyway.

        I say after 3 interruptions the twerp should have gotten the boot.

    2. Pavel

      At first I thought Buttigieg was simply the most annoying prez candidate I can recall in my lifetime (and that is saying a lot) but now I think he is borderline evil. Maybe those CIA rumours are true?

      In any case, he’s got a one-way ticket to nowhere, and is pissing off a lot of people en route. Nothing for him to be so smug about.

      1. Wukchumni

        I’ve decided that Buttigieg most closely resembles an all grown up Eddie Munster, and worry not…

        …his show will soon be canceled

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          I fully expect Pete to film himself climbing a fence near Chevy Chase or Old Town Alexandria claiming he was banned from the inauguration.

      2. Ford Prefect

        Bloomberg should know better than to say he “bought” politicians. That would imply a state of slavery which would be un-American. He should learn to use more precise, politically correct language like he turned them into his indentured servants or employees.

      1. Michael Fiorillo

        Obama is himself annoying (and vastly overrated as an orator) enough, but to witness this smug, Harvard/McKinsey/CIA sh#*heel assume his tone and cadences is just sadistic…

        1. judy2shoes

          GWB set a low bar for oratory, so Obama didn’t have to do much to impress his followers. His teleprompter reading skills were quite good, too…

      2. tongorad

        This one has pitch contour charts. Visual data! And cultural appropriation!

        I’m not imagining that Pete Buttigieg talks like Barack Obama – ->>

        Obviously, I don’t know whether Obama consciously imitated this pitch contour, or if he did so unconsciously, or if it’s a prosodic feature belonging to the African-American tradition of public speech more generally. What I do know is that Obama, a black man who attended a black church for many years before he entered national politics, both can claim to be licensed to use features of that style and — to refer back to Dyson’s article — knows its structural nuances and can skillfully employ them for both black and non-black audiences.

        Meanwhile, Buttigieg has taken a series of surface-level features — the pitch contour, the phrasing, the general feel — thinking they represent not a rich rhetorical tradition with deep historical roots, but vague notions of “hope” and “change” and “unity.” This is practically the definition of cultural appropriation.

        Buttigieg, in short, sees what Obama did in 2008 as a kind of magic trick, which can be repeated by anyone who owns the right shirt and knows all the steps.

      3. jrs

        An Obama cover band as is being said.

        Minus the likability of Obama (who hey at least was likable, despite some terrible policies).

        But that’s what is meant by a cover band, like some cheap cover band at the local bar, noone will confuse them with the real thing, but hey admission is free.

    3. Samuel Conner

      One may shake one’s head in disbelief at PB’s “resilience”, but as long as his future primary performance is more like Nevada than New Hampshire (and that seems a reasonable expectation), I say “let that useful idiot stay in as long as he can!”

    4. Bill Carson

      Late to the convo, but the Buttigieg admirers that I see among my facebook friends are either professional class PMCs who waver between identity as Republican and Democrat but who usually end up voting for the candidate who vows to raise taxes least,

      OR they are people who are driven by their emotions, who are hypnotized by Pete’s substance-less rhetoric delivered in the Obama style. “What Americans all across this land are looking for is a candidate who will unify us so that we can face the challenges of tomorrow in a thousand different ways, and together we can raise a better America for our children and our children’s children.” They used to call this Moralistic Therapeutic Deism.

    5. jrs

      HE LITERALLY HAD NO POLICY. He started out, he had NO POLICY, a website with NO policy. How quickly we forget in a year or so.

      He was wined and dined into whatever policy he has. Alfred E Wine Cave. I mean Bloomberg is probably more evil, yea I fear Mike the billionaire and I fear Trump, more than the CIA. But the oligarch Bloomy has oligarch *policies*. Pete was wined and dined into whatever he is running on. So anyone voting for Pete on policy uh …. that he picked up 6 like months ago out of nowhere?

      1. CBBB

        For me Bloomberg is the absolute worse, he is the end-of-days for any semblance of democracy, then Trump, then Pete. I mean I’d rather have Biden than Pete, at least Biden sounds entertaining sometimes.
        Pete is just a robot, he should go back to McKinsey that’s where he belongs.

  3. The Rev Kev

    “Key California reservoir to be drained due to earthquake risk”

    Well, the tech-heads at Silicon Valley are supposed to be so smart. It would not take them long to do a computer simulation of what would happen of Anderson Reservoir collapsed in an earthquake and where the water would go to. If it holds 89,278 acre feet of water, Google tells me – if i got it right – that that would be about 11 million tons of water.

    That is a lot and could do massive damage and kill untold thousands but the local government is trying to fight lowering levels. And if there was an earthquake and it did collapse, then you could bet that the Santa Clara Valley Water District would sue FERC for not making them drain that reservoir quicker. The trouble at heart is that Californians are far too lackadaisical about earthquakes for their own good-

          1. a different chris

            We (uninformed) drove by that dam on our way north. It was chilling just to look at it, and *then* we read the roadside (?- I think) marker.

            We sped up a bit.

            1. Wukchumni

              We put in about half a mile below Hoover Dam on kayak trips, and while it may not be the tallest dam, it’s damned imposing.

      1. Anon

        Yes, lots of fatalities from that dam collapse. The wall of water traveled some 50 miles to the Pacific Ocean (Ventura/Oxnard). It swept many out to sea; their corpse never recovered. William Mulholland, who also designed the famous LA Aqueduct, never did an engineering project ever again. (The Franciscito Dam was actually a part of the LA Aqueduct project– that is where the water to fill the reservoir came from.)

    1. Wukchumni

      The golden age of earthquakes in the golden state was from 1857 to 1906, and there have been some since of course, but what an era!

      A repeat of the 1868 Hayward temblor would probably wreck the system of levees on the delta and allow salt water intrusion, and then it wouldn’t matter if dams in the north of the state are intact or not, as the freshwater delivery system would be compromised.

      The scramble to provide water for 40 million of us would be epic.

    2. jefemt

      I recently read a great armchair geology tome- Annals of the Former World– a compendium of John McPhee (American treasure journalist) books on the geology of the US across I-80. The discussions on plate tectonics take him all over the world.

      Can’t recommend it enough- suffice it to say—the book on California geology, and the location of that particular dam (its in a fricking fault-block rift!!) in the complex geology of the plates in the Bay area. Recipe for disaster. Its not an if, it’s a when.

      And, Wuk— we are all– everywhere– ill-prepared for emergency, and as much as many of us deride the Federal Government, that is the first place we will look to for relief, aid, short and long term. Resiliency is an unrealized dream we can barely elucidate, much less cooperate to achieve.

      I can’t fathom you anticipate a water issue in Cali?! (sarc off)

      I’d be long large-volume hand pump water filters and cartridges. Every home should have two.
      Great Christmas presents for those you love!

      Oh well

      1. Wukchumni

        My favorite McPhee is Encounters with the Archdruid, thanks for your tip on the other tome, i’ll check it out.

        Water in California has always fascinated me in its whimsical lack of pattern, last winter and this one being a prime example, Zenith vs Nadir if you will. There was so much snow in Mammoth last winter that they had to ‘rope off’ areas because there was the danger of hitting a chair lift if you skied or boarded by. This winter the mountain more resembles an ice skating rink, about 4-5 inches of man-made snow on top of dirt.

        Historically, we can’t fathom anything that happened before really say, the Gold Rush, but all the evidence is there of great floods & droughts, 1 dry epoch lasting over 2 centuries! I really thought we were just a couple more years from going TILT in our 5 year drought plan last decade, even reliable mountain springs on high slowing down to a trickle or going dry.

        Water is my most important investment and i’m quite diversified with a hard rock well, a river and 2 spring fed creeks. A confederacy of redundancy in a riparian way.

        1. Wukchumni

          Berkeys are good water filters, but only for up to 6,000 gallons worth.

          A Kataydin TRK Ceradyn gravity filter is good for 39,000 gallons, in comparison.

          1. inode_buddha

            Or you can go old-school: get a red clay flower pot, line the bottom with a few layers of cotton muslin. Then a few inches of clean sharp sand. Then a few inches of hardwood charcoal. Top it with a few more inches of sand. Pour water in top, watch clean pure water come out the bottom.

            The Amish have kitchen water purifiers that work this way, but they are made out of large stoneware crocks which keep it nice and cool. Up to 5 gallons at a time.

            Dirt cheap and effective, ancient tech. Anyone can do it.

            1. Samuel Conner

              And after the emergency has passed, the terra cotta pots can be used to grow things, or inverted and combined with planks to make garden benches that foil hungry slugs.

    3. ambrit

      Perhaps the “tech-heads” have done the modelling and decided amongst themselves that the ‘casualties’ would be perfectly expendable ‘deplorables’ and such like ‘riff raff.’
      The elements of “The Jackpot” don’t have to be completely ‘organic’ now, do they?

      1. anon in so cal

        Guessing the Oroville Dam spillways were correctly revamped this time? Was a few years ago that approx 200,000 had to be evacuated….

    4. JTMcPhee

      Also remember the Johnstown Flood, a classic example of Rich Person Syndrome. Private dam to age a nice lake for Rich Folks to have summer houses and fishing spot, failed to maintain dam, saw it was failing and did not give notice to the working mopes of Johnstown, 2200 dead, and of course impunity for the Rich Folks (though followed up with the institution of the doctrine — since mostly disappeared — of “strict liability.”

      The Johnstown Flood (locally, the Great Flood of 1889) occurred on May 31, 1889, after the catastrophic failure of the South Fork Dam, located on the south fork of the Little Conemaugh River, 14 miles (23 km) upstream of the town of Johnstown, Pennsylvania. The dam broke after several days of extremely heavy rainfall, releasing 14.55 million cubic meters of water.[4] With a volumetric flow rate that temporarily equaled the average flow rate of the Mississippi River,[5] the flood killed more than 2,200 people[6] and accounted for $17 million of damage (about $484 million in 2019 dollars[3]).

      The American Red Cross, led by Clara Barton and with 50 volunteers, undertook a major disaster relief effort.[7] Support for victims came from all over the United States and 18 foreign countries. After the flood, survivors suffered a series of legal defeats in their attempts to recover damages from the dam’s owners. Public indignation at that failure prompted the development in American law changing a fault-based regime to one of strict liability.

      The Red Cross is also a casualty of neoliberalism, no longer a Clara Barton-worthy entity: I have donated about 4 gallons of blood over the years, come to find out that the Red Cross turns around and sells it, and this raises a number of issues:

      It’s so hard to be charitable these days…

    5. coboarts

      There is no critical issue in California that isn’t being wretchedly gamed by those with power. Since the state was founded that way and given steroids with the Central Valley Project, and all that paper water has been levered to add millions upon millions with millions more planned, well, it’s going to be fun watching it meet the future as zones of human habitation vie with nature for power over death. Fak I love it here.

  4. Expat2Uruguay

    Lambert, I would like to alert people to the progressive Republican running against Ami Bera in Sacramento district 7 for us house representative. He explicitly supports Bernie Sanders and single-payer healthcare.

    His other platform points include bettering the public education system, achieving Universal Healthcare, getting money out of politics, and teaching civic engagement to children.
    Ivy added that he and Bera both favor Universal Healthcare, but take different routes in their attempts to achieve it.
    “(Bera is) working with Republicans to pass legislation to pass health savings accounts, and I believe that healthcare shouldn’t be a for-profit industry,” he said. “At this point, we need to move on to it being a government service.”

    Is there any other place in the US that this is happening? A progressive Republican challenging the incumbents?

    I’m voting for Ivy, and I’m urging my family to do so as well, because I think this is an amazing experiment that shouldn’t be passed up. To put a progressive Republican in front of the Republican voters in California 7th District sounds provocative. Then if the guy wins, he would be a progressive entering the GOP caucus. Surely he couldn’t be as good as AOC, but who knows what kind of waves he’ll make

        1. Swamp Yankee

          As I said the other day, I knew Cass pretty well in college and suspect this is him opportunistically glomming onto a change in the Zeitgeist. He is like a Buttigieg type but of the Right.

          Neverthleless, I welcome converts and apostates from other faiths.

          Glad he is seeing the light. But I still wouldn’t trust Cass as far as I could throw him.

            1. Swamp Yankee

              Oh man, Yglesias piling on Cass — the Organization Kids are at war with themselves! If Trust Fund Matt is making Cass seem a populist by comparison, we truly are through the looking-glass.

              Coincidentally enough, was reading Yglesias when Cass and I worked together; glad I never tried to climb the greasy pole of punditocracy, it appears a miserable enough club.

              Off to go for a walk in the woods and pick up a portable greenhouse — Nous faut cultiver notre jardins.

    1. Oh

      These days you never know which politician to believe. They all talk a good show but do exactly the opposite of what they say. An example is Barry the master con man of 2008.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        You might consider a certain Senator from Vermont last name Sanders who has been consistently working for working people for 40 years. Accept no substitutes.

    2. Matthew

      So which actual Republican policies does he support? Or is he running as a Republican just to get out from under the CA Democratic apparatus?

      1. jrs

        That seems kind of silly, to get away from the Dem apparatus. Progressives challenge centrist Dems by running as Dems, all the time. They usually lose though. Feinstein still in power, check, etc.

        I bet anything he’s doing it partly because CA has a top two system where the top two primary vote getters go to the general election and it would seem to me that it would make him more likely to be one of the top two. Some people just vote party no matter what.

    3. Harvey

      Isn’t this crazy talk? Big politics means that this dude will be a renegade with no power to get their Bills even mentioned or voted on, let alone enacted. They will just get shunned or turned in the long term if they want to have friends and be re-elected.

      And for the Republicans, a renegade or two can be handled. And if the renegade helped elect President Trump again, then they can be tolerated as long as they don’t become a nuisance.

  5. The Rev Kev

    “Former mayor Pete Buttigieg thinks Bernie’s supporters are “uniquely bad””

    Let me think this out. If Bernie Sanders supporters have been called “Bernie Bros”, then would that mean that Pete Buttigieg’s supporters are called “Booty Bros”? Something about that moniker does not sound right somehow.

    1. Charger01

      The “Pete pack” , or if you prefer, Peter’s pack.
      The can really find a pack of pickled peppers.

  6. Basil Pesto

    in The Thick Of It, a young, unctuously smarmy up-and-coming politician is referred to as a “brushed aluminium cyber-prick”. Suits Buttigieg perfectly.

  7. The Rev Kev

    “NEW: President Trump is privately furious about the slide of the stock market due to coronavirus. He is expected to meet with aides tomorrow to discuss.”

    Trump thought that through goosing the economy that he would get away with a good economy going into November. Surprise! That is not going to happen and the way that the Coronavirus is being fobbed off by Washington guarantees a very sick country and a lot of dead Americans before November. The US, and probably the world will be in recession by then as supply lines are cut and workforces are decimated. Jesse from Cafe Americain had their own view of what is happening to the economy-

    1. Wukchumni

      It’s ok, fearless leader has claimed it’ll all be over by April 2021, and somebody turn those machines back on!

        1. JacobiteInTraining

          So…..pork bellies??

          I mean, if I don’t time this right I ain’t gonna have the money to buy my kid the GI Joe with the Kung Fu grip….

  8. Wukchumni

    Bloomberg got the clap, aye herd.

    The issue with subordinates supporting you in such a fashion is the idea of timing. They seemed a bit off in their embrace.

    1. Samuel Conner

      maybe they were looking for cues from their employer as to when and how to respond?

      Hard to be spontaneous when you know you’re being watched.

  9. carl

    Re: Face masks and their uses. My understanding is that the face masks are only good for people who are already infected with the virus, to keep from transmitting it to others. Is this global run on face masks, then, based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the purpose? Are people thinking it will ward off the virus? Because I highly doubt that most people are buying them in anticipation of becoming infected…

    1. Wukchumni

      I bought a box of 30 n95 masks for I think $18, some years ago, and they were pretty much strictly for weed whacking, fore when you hit the greens with a driver, tiny divots can lodge in your nostrils and mouth. They get all sweaty and nasty looking and last a couple days of providing cover before you toss them, and onto the next n95.

      Down to 8 masks left, and i’m torn between using them as i’ve always done, or figuring out a plan b in V for Virus.

      1. WhoaMolly

        Found a box of 10 n95 at hardware store for $17.
        Question now: if we wear them in public during an outbreak, must they be burned after 1 use? Is it possible to disinfect outside of mask with a weak chlorine mist? Will disinfect damage the mask?

        1. Anon

          Your better off buying a small bottle of 70% Isopropyl alcohol (IPA) for $1.50 and using it to wipe down anything you touch with your hands. The 30% water content is essential in this % solution because the water allows the alcohol to penetrate better, while not evaporating as quickly as 90% IPA.

          I’m using a small spray bottle of it and small hand wipes while in the library of my local community college. Any persistent coughing from patrons sends me to the exits.

        2. Yves Smith Post author

          Please don’t even consider this.

          Doctors have to be trained to wear a n95 respirator for it to be effective. And they are so uncomfortable they can stand to wear them only a half hour.

          Your best approach is limiting how much you go out and relentless hand hygiene, particularly using a paper towel or some other barrier when using handles to open doors. Gloves are problematic because they get contaminants on them just as your hand would and then you touch your face.

    2. Lina

      My boyfriend just bought a box for far too much money on Amazon. I told him not to bother because they dont work. His point was that if we get quarantined, you will need a mask to go out anywhere. So good to have for that reason. I hadn’t thought about that.

      1. ambrit

        Wow! Social shaming techniques. That is a part of it.
        I’m glad we still have most of a box I bought for some painting I did some years ago. At least the masks don’t ‘go bad’ in a normal human lifespan.
        So far, no real ‘runs’ on supplies here in the “Heart (or is it the A—hole) of Dixie.”
        Sort of like the “Calm Before the Storm?”

            1. ambrit

              If using duct tape on oneself, one must wear the tee shirt that says: “This is NOT a hostage situation.”

        1. wilroncanada

          Here on southern Vancouver Island, I checked yesterday at Home Depot. All N95s sold out except super duper 3-packs at $17.95 per pack. Northern Canapanic. I didn’t check the other stores.

      2. JP

        Really, a CDC approved mask? Couldn’t you just breath through a diaper or bandana. Wouldn’t an old Nixon mask work and could also be used for bank robberies.

      3. Old Jake

        Got my MSA cartridge mask in the workshop, don’t need no disposables. Plus a face shield for working with the saw. That will keep my hands away from the eyes.

        If you take any life-sustaining (or even comfort-sustaining) meds try to get a 3 month supply prescription and make sure to refill as often as possible.

        But DON”T HOARD! lol

    3. Amfortas the hippie

      i’ve heard that a lot…but in our experience…the oncologist tells wife to wear her mask in crowded places when actively on chemo…or if there’s an outbreak at the school…school nurse, the same.
      when me or the boys are potentially sick, we quarantine ourselves and wear masks for the purpose of keeping our germs to ourselves..coughing, sneezing, etc
      so maybe it’s both…but to differing degrees of effectiveness.

      however, i think we pay too little attention to surfaces….and our very human penchant for touching our faces and rubbing our nose, unconsciously, and often.

      my architectural peeve is bathroom doors that open inwards…so after you wash yer paws like a good boy, you grasp the doorknob just grasped by that bad person in front of you who did not wash up.
      fire codes dictate this arrangement, but still.

      my youngest son has his mother’s allergies…so he got shots when he was little. medicaid said only the hospital would do for this,lol….so we’d go to the “infusion ward” once a week to hang out with chemo patients(who were tickled by his fidgeting antics). try doing that with an antsy 3 year old and keep him from touching everything…let alone rolling upon the floor.
      that’s when i first noticed the bathroom door issue.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Nurses are taught to use a couple of paper towels in hand to lay between hand and handle, that’s why most hospital bathrooms and many in public places (the ones that don’t offer those worthless “tornado dryers” that just spread infection) have a waste container right inside the door.

        Amazing what people do in the “privacy” of bathroom stalls — beside the often witty wall writing, snot and feces wiped on the stalls and walls.

        Speaking of social behavior in time of plague, I recall a study from my college anthropology class about an African tribe that fell into anomie for a bunch of reasons, including smallpox brought to them by colonialists. One of the behaviors involved people who became infected, knowing they were likely to die, dipping the ends of sharp reeds used to thatch their huts and sticking them, point out, into the thatch over doorways so people entering would get inoculated with the pathogen. “If I’m going to go, I’m not leaving my neighbor behind to take my stuff.” Kind of how Mutual Assured Destruction works, hey?

    4. Cuibono

      The scientific evidence for their use in preventing acquiring infection is poor. Still they are used and recommended as PPE in every airborne contagion
      It might be they work as talisman but I suspect most scientists just don’t trust the evidence here or believe that the lack of evidence is not evidence of lack

  10. ptb

    Musicians Algorithmically Generate Every Possible Melody, Release Them to Public Domain

    oh coool! this will be a happy day for most musicians, though I’m sure some will complain.

    1. JTMcPhee

      Reminds me of a Sci Fi short story in Analog, lo these many years ago. I think it was called “The Ten Billion Names of God.” A Buddhist sect in Tibet had deciphered some ancient text that foretold an end to the Wheel of Existence once the ten billion names of God had been uttered. So they brought in a nice fresh IBM computer and a bunch of dot-matrix printers, and went about the effort to spell out and speak all those names. As the project drove to a close, all kinds of reporters of the cynical kind, who gather around all the apocalyptic prophets who say “The world will end on June 1, 2019” or some other date, had assembled to Pooh-Pooh the earnest monks. But as the time ran down to the speaking of the last few names, things got very quiet. As the last ones were read, one of the cynical reporters looked up at the night sky.

      One by one, without any fuss, the stars were going out.

        1. JTMcPhee

          Thanks for the link. I recycled my collection of Analog a few years ago — so much prescient speculative fiction over the years. Scary to go back and read some of the stuff that presages so much of what is going on, political-economy-wise.

    2. RMO

      They restricted it to one octave, eight note, 12 beat melodies which kind of leaves a lot of ground uncovered.

      I predict that if it ever does get deployed and upheld in court it will be used by a large media company to screw a small time artist that has had their song ripped off by one of the handful of people who write most of the hits recorded by the megastars.

      1. WobblyTelomeres

        Can one copyright a song already covered by copyright? Surely seems that the compilation will contain chord/note progressions and sequences which already are covered by copyright, as it is *probably* an enumeration of the form

        For a=0..11 {
        For b=0..11 {

        Or some such variant.

        If so, wouldn’t the entire claim be tossed on the first challenge?

    3. KFritz

      Please note:NC’s linking tool has never worked using my HP desktop, using any operating system of web browser, so you’ll have to do your own search to verify anything here.

      The algorithm is a great idea, and it probably will prevent some true grifters from cluttering the courts with meritless lawsuits.

      However, the example of Stan Smith vs Tom Petty (and Jeff Lynne) is mostly red herring. According to a Rolling Stone article, Petty’s publisher got in touch with Smith’s publisher about the issue, explaining the matter clearly. Smith’s publisher contacted him with the info. He (and his fellow songwriters) took less than a weekend to agree with Petty and his publishers. Other than ratifying the matter, no attorneys were ever involved. All parties were (at least publicly) cordial, and according to Petty, the agreement was also supposed to be confidential.

      Readers with some musical knowledge are invited to listen to the songs, and then look up the chord charts for the song–there’s a strong case for plagiarism, which the algorithm might weaken but probably not destroy.

      The most egregious recent musical copyright decision concerned Pharrell William and Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines,” which yielded $5 million and continuing royalties for the family of Marvin Gaye. The (add your own adjectives because I’m too scared of her attorneys) ‘musicologist’ Judith Finnell was, evidently, a key witness in that travesty of justice. Again, although the algorith wouldn’t have helped in this case at all, I like to think it’s Riehl and Rubin’s way of saying, “Silflay hraka, Ms. Finnell.” I hope so.

  11. The Rev Kev

    “Fossil-Fuel Subsidies Must End”

    Would that include all those subsidies to American farmers to produce corn crops to be turned into fuel? It is after all a fuel subsidy. If so, would that mean that they would have to go back to growing food for people again?

    1. xkeyscored

      The article makes no mention of these subsidies, focusing on fossil-fuels.
      Te final paragraph leads me to believe they’d be fully on board with your point, though. I’ve noticed increasing numbers of scientists coming out with calls for a radical overhaul of our economies the last few years.
      “The public and policy makers should be under no illusions about the basic realities at stake: Holding back catastrophic global warming requires dramatically reducing fossil-fuel production. And subsidies to fossil-fuel companies undermine that goal. Once upon a time, it made sense for countries to support their fossil fuel industries. But that time is over.”

      1. Olga

        I would think it’s not just the fossil fuel production that will need to be scaled way back – and eventually, eliminated. Our rampant consumerism will also have to go, too… but how to get people on board with that is another story. (The socialist bloc is no more in large part because people wanted all the consumer goods they saw in the west. But it is precisely this obsession with acquiring “stuff” that is stressing the planet/atmosphere. How ironic!)

    2. Amfortas the hippie

      aye! I hate that.
      ethanol has a terrible negative eroei
      it would be more environmentally sound to just burn the fuels used to produce it.
      this is a direct result of monopoly/monopsony/ cartellisation of Big Ag in order to suck up the legacy crop subsidies.
      it’s grand larceny, under the cover of people who look like my neighbors, but who get only the barest percentage of those billions.
      it’s also at the root of antibiotic resistance(cafo is enabled by oversupply of corn), diabetes-gut cancer-metabolic disorders-etc-etc(too much corn and soy…must find a use for it=HFCS, and corn in literally everything), catastrophic environmental damage(beyond AGW: topsoil, groundwater, dead zones, loss of biodiversity, escaped GMO’s and hybrids,), and the depopulation and immiseration of Rural America.
      this is why, after healthcare, ag policy reform from hell is my biggest priority.
      make them hurt…then end them.

  12. jimsim

    Among all Western nations the US is almost uniquely unable to combat the coronavirus epidemic. Our lack of universal health insurance coverage makes many people with weak to non existent health insurance coverage reluctant to seek care because of lack of disposable income. Hence, these people are most at risk and most likely to spread the disease.

    1. kiwi

      If the uninsured are so reluctant, then why are emergency rooms so full of ininsured people?

      Additionally, if this virus turns out to be similar to flu, it may turn out that self-quarantining at home may be effective in preventing the spread, as opposed to going to a doctor/hospital.

    1. Samuel Conner

      I love that Sanders turns the question back on the interviewer/reporter, and the “reporter” doesn’t know. Doubtless many kinds of ignorance are intentional.

      Bernie has better background knowledge of the news right in front of the reporter’s face than the reporter has.

  13. a different chris

    I love economists:

    In 2018, however, a group of researchers questioned the magnitude of the climate benefits of subsidy reform, reporting that their simulations showed its effect would be “limited” and “small.” Stories in the press began asking whether such subsidies are such a big deal after all.

    Well if they are a big deal then eliminating them makes a lot of sense environmentally. If they aren’t a big deal then eliminating them makes a lot of sense in the reduced bureaucracy direction.

    So wtf is the actual problem, here?

    And of course mainstream economics is at the same time trying to figure out a “carbon tax”. So the upshot is going to be subsidies on one side, carbon taxes on the other, no doubt. (Head hurtz). Are we the stupidest creatures on the planet, or what?

  14. The Rev Kev

    “Florida Democrats Sue to Kick Sanders Off Primary Ballot”

    Florida man gets idea on how to eliminate a Presidential candidate without using a gun. Finds another Florida man who thinks that this is a good idea. Both go to court to make it happen. Hilarity ensues.

  15. Wukchumni

    Visitors to Sequoia NP tend to go to the General Sherman tree and Moro Rock, rites of passage that are congested. The latter is a guardrail away from falling a thousand vertical feet down said oversized boulder which was quite the accomplishment of ascending when I was 6 or 7, and the faraway view of the Great Western Divide and all those jagged peaks which I was to climb later in life, that ‘shrubbery ascended in pre 9/11 days when he made a dog & pony show excursion to Sequoia & Everglades NP’s in the span of a fortnight. You can see in the link how tight the space is between guardrails, and its even tighter in many spots. An easy way to spread the virus.

    The General Sherman (originally named the Karl Marx tree) makes visitors park about 1/3rd of a mile away and then they descend on a wide paved switchbacked trail to the massif below, the only route to get to it, so always congested, and then when you get to playdirt, there’s 50-100 people milling about. Last time I went in October, there was a line of 8 people taking selfies, ha!

    Anyway, both are prime corridors for spread of Covid-19, in particular because of so many nationalities represented in the human petri dish.

    1. a different chris

      That’s the one, well not good but useful, thing about lickspittle authoritarians. You show power and they will fall in line.

    2. Quentin

      Krystal Ball apparently finds the issue delicious: having worked at MSNBC she knows the ‘corporation’ from inside out.

    1. Ford Prefect

      The housing crisis has its roots in the local zoning and FHA red-lining policies from the 30s-70s. These locked in single family zoning with relatively large lot sizes to make them unaffordable and unavailable to blacks and other minorities. At that time, white working class families could afford the homes, but the restrictive zoning policies have left a legacy of low-density expensive housing in what used to be the white areas and poor quality housing and impoverishment in the areas that allow higher density rental housing for blacks.

      This poem comes to mind quite frequently these days, whether it is human rights violations, the whining of the Trump Administration about FISA court abuses, or unaffordable housing. When you put discriminatory laws and policies into effect and assume that they only apply to the “other”, in many times they boomerang back on the instigating class years or decades later.

    2. Arizona Slim

      Happening in my own neighborhood right now. We have an RV and a car dweller near the same intersection.

      1. Sailor Bud

        Same. I’m in the rather Steinbeckian, depressed port town of Aberdeen, WA. An RV has been parked in the trees behind the vacant house next door for months. Just appeared there, and I don’t think the neighbor knows because he’s a permanent absentee. It’s like the Arnhem intel photos in “A Bridge too Far” with the tanks tucked away in the trees.

        It’s been seriously challenging my NIMBY instincts because the occupants have piled huge trash heaps around it and now regularly camp and inhabit what was my very private outdoor space, so I can’t bring myself to relax in my yard; they argue loudly, etc. The dude even hand-axed one of the trees for firewood. I’ve read enough about Chilean Pobladores to sympathize, so I live and let live, but they do bother the hell out of me and I’m wondering if they’re ever going to go. Sad times.

        1. Anon

          Trash heaps and tree axing is not acceptable behavior for anyone. You have every right to be disturbed. I suggest you mention the situation to your local social work agency. Many of the homeless are in need of attention from social workers; reminded of the need for sanitation and the attraction of vermin to refuse. Homeowners pay for sanitation/refuse pickup to protect the public health.

          These are sad times for many people in today’s economy. But random camping without services is not sustainable. Affordable housing is the best solution.

  16. OIFVet

    Re Mayo Pete’s deleted tweet: the twitterati have come up with a shorter version of the twerp: “Desegregation for all who want it!”

    Add voting rights for all who want them, medical debt for all who want it, etc. It should be hammered home relentlessly, give no quarter and no mercy to the little twerp.

    1. Shonde

      Anybody here who is on Twitter can add “Women’s rights for all who want it” since that movement also started in the late 1960’s.

      1. inode_buddha

        I think that movement started a bit earlier than that. My grandmother and her friends at the time, marched for the women’s right to vote. Some of them went to jail for it.

  17. Ford Prefect

    Re: First Woman Green Beret

    Here is an interview from one of the firs Women Army Rangers fro ma couple of years ago:

    The ban on women serving in direct combat units was only lifted a handful of years ago, so there was no way they could be in the Rangers or Special Forces by policy. Once that got lifted, then you had prejudice on all sides to overcome about whether or not they could do it. Then they actually had to do it.

    These special forces are physically very grueling courses that most men can’t do and far fewer women, just due to strength requirements. The women are well positioned to do well on the mentally grueling parts of it that are equally important. If they can do the physical heavy lifting etc., then they can succeed but it is unlikely there would be anything resembling parity in numbers due to the strength challenges. It would not surprise me at all if elite US combat units are 10%-20% women a couple of decades from now.

  18. Quentin

    Just chiming in to add my voice to the chorus celebrating Smarmy Pete—obnoxious cross between an altar boy and teacher’s pet.

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      Carefully-manufactured test tube baby after focus groups gave the required list of ingredients.

      I’m struggling today to decide which I think is the most absolutely existentially horrible example of where our polity is today, a Zionist racist monopolist who proudly proclaims on national TV that he purchased the Congress of the United States or an artificial life form not-so-secretly created and operated by hedge fund billionaires and CIA agents

  19. chuck roast

    Thanks for the Krugman/Wolff clip. Krugman was one of the very few who occupied the moral and political high ground when Bush/Cheney were committing various atrocities. I appreciated that. I have long given up on “All the news that fits…”, so I only hear third hand what Krugman has been up to.

    I get from this debate that he is your standard “left” progressive who wants all the socially good things but, “hey, half-measures are OK.” Or not. Wolff was the “talk-talk, fight-fight” Uncle Ho kind of guy while Krugman was the “talk-talk, compromise-compromise” Cousin Obama kind of guy.

    You can’t work full-time for the NYT and occupy the moral and political high ground these days (and is he still on those Sunday bloviator panels?). Krugman may be moving into useful idiot territory. Hypocrisy and virtue signaling works for the golfers who don’t sign their op-eds, but doesn’t work for long for guys with names on regular columns. He is not a dope. He has a lot of credit in his account and he is drawing it down fast…and appears to know it. So, what shall it be…move to the “left”, or saddle-up with David Brooks?

    1. Samuel Conner

      I use to think that it was adequate, in view of “political realities,” to accept the ‘fractional-loaf better than none at all’ that was offered by one party, but lately I’ve come to the conclusion that whenever someone who is affiliated with a duopoly party says “let’s make it better as quickly as we can”, what is really meant is, “let’s keep it bad as it now is, or worse, permanently”.

      And this is why I will not vote for Warren, if she is nominated. She wants to fix things sufficiently gradually that the inherent duopoly inertia will keep it bad, permanently.

      The big changes that have happened in the history of US government policy have tended to happen quickly.

      I think that only Sanders has (as Lambert would put it) a “theory of change” that has any hope success, it will be a terrific political fight for a number of years after he is inaugurated.

      But I’m looking forward to that fight.

      1. Bill Carson

        Yep. Just having this discussion last night. Establishment Dem was telling me that we needed incrementalism. I told him that now was the time to pass something massive like Johnson’s Great Society legislation.

      2. JP

        Yes that is surly the logic that makes democracy work. My way or the highway. I didn’t want to put HRC in office for four years but now we have the judiciary stacked against any progressive agenda for the next 20. If you want to break the duopoly it would probably be more effective to work locally to promote non-aligned candidates who run on program instead of party. The top of the ticket is reflective of the rot at the bottom and your influence (vote) goes a lot further in your own district. Or are you saying you would vote for Trump instead of Warren?

        1. Samuel Conner

          Not Trump. I voted Stein in 2016 and will see what is on offer I 2020, if not Sanders.

          I believe that change is coming; it will begin this year or the contradictions will continue to sharpen.

    2. eg

      Krugman would have felt right at home with the Fabian Society — heck, there was a time I would have placed myself among them. But that only works when you are concerned that the changes are going to happen too fast. Lately it has looked to me like the center-left has been utterly coopted by the oligarchy as agents of “there is no alternative” resistance to any change at all, so I’m leaning further left and pressing the gas peddle harder than I have since the ’80s.

  20. Wukchumni

    It was so tense in last night’s debate, all it would have taken was a couple of jokes to break the mood, and Bloomberg came though, although it became painfully obvious you can’t buy yourself a career doing stand up comedy no matter how much money you have.

  21. Paradan

    Largest Refinery in CA had a huge fire last night. It will be interesting to see if this adds to the supply-chain melt-down. If the price of gas goes up a buck or two in CA…

      1. fresno dan

        February 26, 2020 at 12:11 pm

        Do not judge them by their appearances…until they tweet their policy on M4A

    1. Samuel Conner

      A commenter in the debate live-‘blog last night riffed on the book of Revelation. Perhaps there’s a sub-genre of political writing opening up.

      When I saw the video of “the bird” at that 2016 Sanders rally, I immediately thought of the famous gospel account of the “Spirit of God descending like a dove” on Jesus at his baptism. What a shame that there wasn’t a storm outside Sanders’ rally venue, with thunder.

  22. Wukchumni

    Could a non Jewish politician have called out on Israel, AIPAC & Netanyahu, like Bernie did last night?

  23. Ignacio

    RE: India.

    Horrors! Modi calls for harmony… after igniting this. It is sad Covid-19 and other news overshadow this… not coincidence?

  24. Nat

    RE: corona virus from nature not man

    I am a bit too busy at the moment to download all the known corona virus genomes and do an alignment myself. But from what I understand if one does that, one finds that the current #COVID-19 is so different from previous existing ones that we have seen that it may need its own taxonomy. While it isn’t impossible for that to happen naturally in such a relatively short period of time, the probability is like walking down the street and being struck dead by an asteroid – it really is improbable enough that extremely strong evidence is required to prove this off-possibility.

    Why would there be such a push to make sure it is labeled as “from nature, not man?” Simple, because the Level 4 bio-containment “hot zones” (like the one in WuHan located right next to where COVID-19 first appeared) are already under huge popular pressure to cease to exist even though militaries all over the planet love them even more than their nukes. If COVID-19 is man made and this epidemic gets as bad as it looks it might that could easily be the last straw.

    More thoughts on this with this article and interview here.

    1. xkeyscored

      Dr. Francis Boyle [in the article and interview] is a law professor.
      SARS-CoV-2 is most closely related to a RaTG13, a coronavirus found in Rhinolophus affinis bats, to which it is ~96% identical.
      Estimates of the timing of the most recent common ancestor (tMRCA) of SARS-CoV-2 using currently available genome sequence data point to virus emergence in late November to early December 2019.
      Looking at the authors of the paper and their primary workplaces, I find it unlikely they are all engaged in an international conspiracy to cover up the ‘fact’ that this is a bioweapon engineered by China that escaped.

      The Proximal Origin of SARS-CoV-2
      Kristian G. Andersen1,2*, Andrew Rambaut3, W. Ian Lipkin4, Edward C. Holmes5 & Robert F. Garry6,7
      1Department of Immunology and Microbiology, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA.
      2Scripps Research Translational Institute, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA.
      3Institute of Evolutionary Biology, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK.
      4Center for Infection and Immunity, Mailman School of Public Health of Columbia University, New York, New York, USA.
      5Marie Bashir Institute for Infectious Diseases and Biosecurity, School of Life and Environmental Sciences and School of Medical Sciences, The University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia.
      6Tulane University, School of Medicine, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, New Orleans, LA, USA.
      7Zalgen Labs, LCC, Germantown, MD, USA.

    2. VietnamVet

      “NBC’s Richard Engel speaks with Dr. Danielle Anderson, a virologist who has isolated the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 at her Singapore lab. Her research into the virus’s origin points to bats at animal markets.”

      She said the virus is highly contagious but not airborne but by contact.

      This is the problem with PR. Real knowledge is in short supply.

      This is what I am planning to do once the Wuhan Coronavirus breaks out in DC Greater Capital Area. I will stay home as long as possible and only go outside for the mail and go shopping only for the real necessities of life. Anything I touch that could have been in contact with another person within the last 9 days must be treated like it is covered with a toxin like the highly toxic Novichok nerve agent which Richard Engel also covered. That means wearing washable gloves, glasses and face mask. I will disinfect everything coming in the house. Throwing the wipes in the outdoor trash. Washing gloves and clothes worn outside while shopping. I haven’t heard if the mail and Amazon packages will be sanitized or not.

      I am washing my hands now and trying to learn not to touch my mouth, nose and eyes without washing first. It is hard.

  25. Wukchumni

    We’re gonna need a bovine intervention in the CVBB, stat!

    A large rendering plant in Fresno County — known to dispose of cattle and other carcasses — has a problem with some of its equipment, leading to what county officials described as a “local emergency” Tuesday.

    Baker Commodities in Kerman notified the county Friday that a boiler was leaking, causing it to work inefficiently and leading to a backlog in carcasses at its rendering plant, according to Dave Pomaville, director of Fresno County Public Health.

    The rendering plant, which is the only one of its size in the central San Joaquin Valley, must shutdown for about a week to fix the equipment. While it’s down, cattle that die on farms will not be picked up or rendered, officials said.

    “This is the only game in town from Bakersfield to Stockton and they just went offline,” he said. “This is a major, major issue in the livestock industry, but it’s not just Fresno County. It’s the entire Valley.”

  26. allan

    Unbelievably prescient imaginative essay from 2016:

    The End of Civilization and the Real Donald Trump

    … The avian flu virus had mutated. H7N9m had transformed into an agent that not only could infect humans but did so with a transmissibility and lethality that had not been seen since the Spanish flu outbreak of 1918.

    Then the first American died. A young man back from a business trip to Hong Kong. The media, already primed for hysterical coverage following the severe Zika outbreak in the Southern United States in the summer and fall of 2016, went into full panic-dispensing mode. ‘Experts’ began to appear on the cable channels who suggested that the outbreak was the result of irresponsible genetic research in China. …

    1. Samuel Conner

      Me thinks that by the time a Covid-19 caused spike appears in aggregate morality numbers, we will be past the point of “getting” to “well and truly got”

  27. cuibono

    Re Testing:
    WE are hearing of folks who are repeatedly testing negative only to have the 3rd or 4rth test come back positive.
    The most likely exlpanation could be the simple one: they are going into hospitals filled with the virus to get tested.
    The panic to get tested (easily understandable) might be in fact exposing lots of people

    1. xkeyscored

      Crowded hospital waiting rooms do seem like an ideal place for this virus to spread, but for whatever reason false negatives seem fairly common, even among isolated patients.

      A recent study in the journal Radiology examined medical records from 167 patients with COVID-19 from Hunan province in China. Researchers found that five patients out of 167 — 3% of the study group — who had chest CT scan features suggestive of COVID-19 initially tested negative for SARS-CoV-2 infection by RT-PCR. The patients were isolated and all eventually were confirmed through repeated swab tests to have the infection.
      False negatives comprised just 3% of the patient population in this study. However, failure to detect a small number of cases of the potentially deadly viral infection may have wide-ranging effects for patients and others who may become infected.

      Are Coronavirus Tests Accurate?

  28. xkeyscored

    There was some talk here a day or two ago of how fast this thing might be mutating. I came across this today, from Feb 24:
    The phylogenetic tree of the currently available complete genomes is given in Figure 1. This shows that there is limited genetic variation in the currently sampled viruses but more recent ones are showing more divergence as is expected for fast evolving RNA viruses.

    1. xkeyscored

      Calling it HIV-like, as this article does, is a bit melodramatic and liable to fuel conspiracy theories. ‘Flu and Newcastle Disease are known to do the same:
      Polybasic cleavage sites [the mutation in question] allow effective cleavage by furin and other proteases, and can be acquired at the junction of the two subunits of the haemagglutinin (HA) protein of avian influenza viruses in conditions that select for rapid virus replication and transmission (e.g. highly dense chicken populations). … Acquisition of a polybasic cleavage site in HA, by either insertion or recombination, converts low pathogenicity avian influenza viruses into highly pathogenic forms … Similarly, an avirulent isolate of Newcastle Disease virus became highly pathogenic during serial passage in chickens by incremental acquisition of a polybasic cleavage site at the junction of its fusion protein subunits.

      This research could be good news, as various HIV drugs target this protein:
      Chinese researchers said drugs targeting the furin enzyme could have the potential to hinder the virus’ replication in the human body. These include “a series of HIV-1 therapeutic drugs such as Indinavir, Tenofovir Alafenamide, Tenofovir Disoproxil and Dolutegravir and hepatitis C therapeutic drugs including Boceprevir and Telaprevir”, according to Li’s study.
      This suggestion is in line with reports by some Chinese doctors who self-administered HIV drugs after testing positive for the new coronavirus, but there is as yet no clinical evidence to support the theory.
      (Kevin C. Smith’s link above)

  29. RMO

    An indicator of the worry of Coronavirus in North America? I’ve noticed that cases of civilian MRE’s, emergency food packs and cases of freeze dried hiking food (e.g. Mountain House’s 7-day package) are sold out at many online and US and Canadian stores.

    The N95 masks are sold out everywhere but when I needed new cartridges for my 3M respirator mask (used to use it a lot for spray painting, now use it mostly when mixing lye and water to make soap) I found they were readily available and they came with a finer particulate filter than the N95 masks do.

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